Friday, February 29, 2008


I was disturbed by the loud "Clumpeta clumpeta THUMP" sound comming from outside. Apparently it was just Wall Street falling down the stairs when it forgot to turn on the light to the basement. Looks like it's going to close down over 300 points. [UPDATE: yep, closed down 315]

I don't know anything about anything but it looks like a bad year coming for the economy. Some people apparently think there's more reconing to be done in the structured finance markets.

Closing the Gap

It's really interesting how effective a campaigner Obama is. Hillary had a pretty wide lead in Ohio and Texas just two weeks ago. Now, Obama is in a statistical tie in Texas (he's even ahead in the latest ARG poll) and he's narrowed the gap considerably in Ohio.

From here is the Ohio race. SUSA (so far this primary season the most accurate) has Obama going from 9 down to 6 down. Rassmusen has the margin dropping from 14 to 8 to 5. Quinnipiac has the longest history (26-20-11) but they don't have a result after Feb 23.

The Texas numbers are here (also Again, you can see a really sharp dramatic rise in Obama's numbers as his name recognition grows throughout late 2007 and early 2008. Also interesting is that there's a fairly steep decline for Hillary right after Super Tuesday. She's accually fallen behind in the composite numbers. The latest Fox, Zogby, SUSA and ARG polls all have Obama ahead.

Keep this in mind. When looking at polls, you shouldn't really compare nubers from various polls against eachother. Often they are quite different in selection of the participants, the actual questions asked, etc. Those differences can create different results, even when the questions are superficially similar. What is informative though are trend lines of each polling outfit against itself. The methodology and questions of, say, an SUSA poll do not vary over a race. So while they are frequently wrong as to the absolute state of the race, they accurately reflect the dynamics of the race. And in both OH and TX the dynamics are decidedly on Obama's side. He has been notching up solid gains in both states, and it looks like he will contest them both.

If I were to guess, I'd think that I think he'll win both. Honestly I do. A win in both would really be a knockout blow. If Hillary wins both, we have a contest again. Then she can say she has a legitimate claim to being the best candidate, and gets a major upset to set up for Pennsylvania in April. If they split them, I think it still goes to Obama, especially if his lead in Super Delegates continues to expand.

Ok, that's all the horserace coverage for today. Have a good weekend.

Leap Day

It's leap day. Dogs and cats, living together. Mass hysteria.

For some info on leapyears you can go here.

If you know anyone who's birthday is today, buy that 6 year old a drink.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Situation in Iraq Worsens

As if this wasn't bad enough, there's yet more bad news for our troops in Iraq.

Jessica Simpson will be "performing" there on a USO tour. Please consider sending a care package consisting of earplugs to any service members you may know there.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

More Endorsements

Another in a string of endorsements: Manlove for Congress.*

He's a "rock solid conservative." Oh yeah. Rock solid baby. Because if there's one thing we learned from Senator Craig and Rep. Foley, it's that there's not enough conservative manlove on capitol hill.

*note: no actually I don't want anyone to vote for him. It's his real name though.

Monday, February 25, 2008

How Could This Possibly Go Wrong?

Ok, so get this:

Scientists at Duke have taught a monkey how to remotely control a robot using it's mind.

Sweet Jesus have these people never watched or read any science fiction? Don't they know what the consequences of meddling with dark forces which they cannot hope to control? What we're seeing here is act 1 of pretty much every scifi suspense/horror story ever told come to life. If popular culture has taught me anything, a monkey/robot alliace is sure to doom all of humanity within two hours. Also, there probably will be lots of jump cuts in the action sequences.

Official Endorsement

I'm hereby announcing my endorsement for president in the 2008 election will go to Lobster Man.

Thank you.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Saturday, February 23, 2008

And the nominees are:

Eddie Murphy and Lindsy Lohan swept the Oscars.

Oh wait, no that's the Razzies. Technically they didn't sweep, as neither was involved in Daddy Daycamp which won Worst Sequel or Prequel. But since it was a sequel of an Eddie Murphy movie that was so bad EVEN EDDIE MURPHY refused to perform in it, I'll calling a win for him too.

I would also like to congratulate Murphy for winning Worst Actor, Worst Supporting Actor, and Worst Supporting Actress (all in Norbit).

Hi I'm Incompetent, Buy My Book

I was listening to Fair Game on my ipod. (Get podcasts from their website here) They had Doug Schoen on and he said something... well dumb.

Basically he was on the show promoting the idea that it would be a really good idea to have someone run as a third centerist political party. In and of itself that idea is a really good way to AFFECT the outcome of an election (see Ross Perot, Theodore Roosevelt, etc), but it never results in such a person actually winning anything. Besides which, it doesn't really work ever because while lots of people say they are "independent" or "centerist" that means very different things to different people. Someone who was against legal abortion but in favor of progressive social programs might define themselves as "centerist" but so might a pro-choice libertarian who believed in gay marriage and small government. But those two people don't have anything in common.

Anyway, Faith Saile asked a question like "well, Obama is running in the democratic race, but he's adopted very cooperative inclusive rhetoric, isn't he essentially running a centerist campaign?" and Doug Schoen basically said "well I don't know about his specific policies."

I'm sorry but if you're job is analyzing politics, shouldn't you know the various candidates' platforms? I mean, it's not like Obama is running some highly secretive organization which encrypts all of it's policy proposals with a 144 bit key. He's got a whole website and everything. People have spent a lot of time putting together the policies of candidates and organizing them in a convenient and useful fashion. If you can't be bothered to go to the damn website, why should anyone listen to your opinion? Seriously. Acting like this stuff all doesn't exist because they weren't mentioned in the five speeches you watched isn't helping anyone.

Needless to say I'd encourage everyone to give the book the amount of patronage it so richly deserves (which is to say, none). It probably should also be noted that Mr. Schoen has done polling work for Bloomberg. Third party/independent candidates rarely succeed in actually winning, but they always succeed in spending money on consultants. hmm.

Not that it was especially surprising coming from someone who wrote this, but still...

Friday, February 22, 2008

Good News for Cat Owners

Cats protect against heart disease.

No not dogs, only cats.

Dean: Still Right

Remember back when the press was treating Dean like a leper because he had the termittity to suggest that capturing Saddam wouldn't make America safer? Yeah. Me too.

Anyway, you've probably heard about this whole McCain/Iseman scandal. The original article in the NYT was either needlessly salacious or had the real substantive salaciousness lawyered out of it. But Dean makes the exact right point about the whole story in a National Journal On Air interview:

Dean: I have no idea whether the affair story is true or not, and I don't care. What I do care about is John McCain -- and this has been well-documented -- is talking all the time about being a reformer and a maverick, and in fact, he has taken thousands of dollars from corporations, ridden on their corporate jets, and then turned around and tried to do favors for them and get projects approved. He has tons of lobbyists on his staff. This is a guy who is very close to the lobbyist community, a guy who has been documented again and again by taking contributions and then doing favors for it. This is not a guy who is a reformer. This is a guy who has been in Washington for 25 years and wants to give us four more years of the same, and I don't think we need that.

This is the issue. It's gotten press on the sexy time angle, but really the story here is corruption. He got thousands from a lobbiest's clients, he was ferried around in the client's jet, he spent lots of time with said lobbiest, and, SURPRISE, he wrote letters to the FCC encouraging them to approve a regulatory decision that would earn said client lots of money.

Any questions as to how much in campaign donations it takes to get one Sen. McCain on your side should be directed to Ms. Iseman. Also, please note that McCain was on the committee that had oversight authority over the FCC, so communication companies knew who to lobby.


Robert Mugabe has single handedly overseen the complete and utter destruction of his home country. Inflation is currently running at 100,000% (yes, really). So what does he do? Why spend $250,000 on his 84th birthday party.

Look, certainly there was lots of inequity in the country prior to his taking over, and there were legitimate problems with having large white-owned farms which, even though they had been in families for generations, were still essentially created by kicking tribal blacks off their own land, then hiring them back as labor. So yeah, there was social inequality that needed to be addressed. But that doesn't excuse taking a country that was one of the more developed economies in Africa and a net food exporter and turning it into an economic disaster area. According to the linked article, Zimbabwe's economy has shrunk by 2,222% since 1996.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Good, Bad

Good: diet pills that really help you lose weight.

Bad: because they contain eggs of an intestinal parasite.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Zombie Castro Shuffles Off World Stage

Well it's all over the news today. Castro has officially stepped down as head of the Cuban state. As of today, he's no longer the longest serving ruler in the world. The title now passes to Omar Bongo.*

Castro will now dedicate all his time to wandering the cuban countryside searching for human brains to feast on, and preparing for a bit part in a 30th anniversary reshoot of the "Thriller" video.

*note: Technically Castro was not the full head of state until 1976, serving only as prime minister, but the president did not hold any real political power. Also note that the longest serving head of state is King Rana IX of Thailand (1946), though again his role is largely ceremonial.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

More Cracks in the Bond Market

According to this, FBIC is asking regulators for permission to split itself into two businesses. One would be it's muni bond insurance business, and the other would hold all it's other bonds (CDOs). Who wants to buy shares in that second business eh? *crickets*

UPDATE Tuesday Feb 19:
Hmm, well the head of MBIA is stepping down. Oh, and Credit Suisse has decided to fess up to 2.8 Billion in "overvalued assets."

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Boriquas for Barack

In a very interesting development, the Governor of Puerto Rico has endorsed Obama.

Normally, this wouldn't be that big of a deal. Puerto Rico doesn't vote until June 7, the last ballot before the August convention. Normally the presidential candidates for each party has been determined long before any ballot is cast on the island. But with the race for the nomination so close, it's likely that this will go to the convention. Even if one of the candidates won every state left, with proportionate representation, they would need large wins in each to tie it up before the convention. Puerto Rico has 63 delegates to the national convention. That's more than Connecticut and more than twice as many as New Hampshire. What's more, Puerto Rico is does not use proportionate representation. So it's potentially a big prize. Also, since Puerto Ricans can't vote in federal elections, they tend to pay less attention to national races and local endorsements carry disproportionate weight (according to Fair Game, don't know if there's a transcript).


Photo from Flickr user Boss Tweed used under a creative commons license.

Mind the (Enthusiasm) Gap

This post over at Brad DeLong is remarkable.

Look at the total votes cast in the primary so far. The two Democratic front runners garnered a total of 17,402,683 votes. Total cast for the two remaining Republicans: 7,940,000. That's more than twice as many. Wow. Granted this doesn't include Romney, who really was second in the race when he dropped out. But neither does it include Edwards.

What this really shows is that the Democrats are far, far more excited about their candidates than the Republicans. They're excited, they're interested, and they're turning out in record numbers. This bodes very well for November.
Photo from Flickr user markhillary used under creative commons license.

Texas Celebrates V Day

Good news for Texas just in time for the holiday. It is now legal to buy sex toys there.

So go ahead and get that "marital aid" for your special someone and hold your head high.

Happy Valentine's Day

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

One More Fun One

Ok, a little more fun before I go to the gym.

Ever wonder what would happen if you tried to use alkaseltzer in zero g? So did these guys. Enjoy.

What's Up Jew?

According to this in the Daily Mail, the whacky folks over at Children's Television Workshop: Hamas are going to launch a new rabbit character that looks strikingly like a certain Warner Brothers cartoon rabbit. To avoid confusion, however, he will be played by a live action person in a costume, and his catch phrase "What's up doc?" will be replaced by "I will eat the Jews."

It's not clear if this means that Hamas believes that Jews are made of carrots, or if this children's character is some sort of mutant carnivorous rabbit with nasty pointy teeth. I guess the good news is that eating jewish carrots requires an intact digestive system, so he's not recruiting suicide bombers.

Lunchblogging - Finance Edition

I was talking to my mom last night about the election returns and just what's going on, and the whole mortgage crisis thing came up, so I thought I'd blog about it.

My parents live in a fast growing suburb in the South. They have been adding school after school there (they just opened a third Highschool recently, tons of new elementary schools). Anyway, one of the new elementaries is near three new developments, one of which my Mom passes on her way to work. According to her, the one that she passes by is maybe 1/4 full, and the school built to serve that area has been, um, under-pupiled? Whatever.

The rash of vacant and abandoned homes in Southern California and other high growth areas is well known, but it was interesting to me that the effects of the mortgage/credit crisis was hitting my home town. I hope that this doesn't follow.

This is especially interesting in light of this.. This is one of the smartest investors in the world "the oracle of Omaha" trying to make money off the core of the mortgage crisis. Let me try to unwind it in a couple paragraphs. NOTE: I am not an econ or finance major. All of the below is merely my understanding from reading what I believe to be reliable sources and accounts on the subject. There may be and probably are factual and/or chronologial errors.

Basically, you started with so called "monoliners." They were bond "reinsurers" for municipal bonds only (thus the "mono"). Municipal bonds are very low risk, since they are guaranteed by the future revenue of the municipality that issued them, and even though New York once famously came close, municipal entities tend to not go bankrupt. However, to sell a bond with a AAA rating (i.e. the highest grade bond, which pays the lowest interest rate, thus being "cheapest" for the borrower) you still need insurance. So These monoliners made a nice, stable, profitable business out of writing (and being paid for) mini-bond reinsurance, generating nice AAA credit ratings for themselves in the process, since writing insurance policies for AAA bonds - bonds that by definition had a very low risk of default - tends to be a pretty low risk business.

Enter the consolidated debt offering (CDO). Mortgages are much too small to issue as bonds tradable on a typical bond market. Commercially traded bonds are generally designed to fund very large commercial or municipal projects secured by the future revenues of that project, company, or municipality. Well, someone looked at mortgages and said "hey, if I buy a whole bunch of mortgages issued to owners with AAA credit ratings, then I bundle that income stream (i.e. the payments made by all those homeowners) together and use it as security, I can sell a AAA bond based on that credit rating." Now in principle there's nothing wrong with this. If you have a pool of small seperate AAA credit risks and you gather them together in a CDO, your resulting bond should be AAA (in fact, maybe even better to the risk-averse, since the obligations are seperate, your variance will be lower).

The problem comes in when you look at what happens to the incentives. Traditionally (without CDOs) the issuer of the mortgage was typically a local bank branch that would hold the mortgage until it was paid off. Thus the issuer had a strong incentive to make sure that the borrower was assessed accurately, because if they defaulted, it would have to clean up the mess. This meant both that the mortgagee would undergo intense credit scrutiny, and the mortgagor would not want to sell a product that the mortgagee was unlikely to be able to pay off.

Once selling mortgages to second parties for consolidation and then reissuance (and reinsurance) became the model, each party had less incentive to scrutinize the transaction. The banks that would create the initial mortgages just wanted to make deals and then sell them on to the consolidator. The consolidators wanted more and more loans so they could put them together, buy insurance and then sell them on the bond market. The bond buyers were so far removed from the transactions, that they simply relied on the market valueation and the bond rating, and heck, they were insured! So that leaves the rating companies and the insurers. The rating companies (there were at the time three of them) were being paid by the consolidators, so consolidators could "shop around" for the best rating.

And the insurers, well that brings us back to the Buffet article at the top of the post. You see, Ambac, MBIA, and FBIC are all monoliner bond reinsurers. As discussed above, they had this tidy little low risk business insuring muni bonds. Then they started thinking, hey, we can expand a lot if we start branching out and insuring more than just munis. We can insure these CDO things. As long as we only buy AAA CDO bonds, we still get our profits and we keep our AAA credit rating and we do more business. Keeping the AAA credit rating is important because the credit rating of a bond's insurer is an important factor in the bond's rating. If a bond insurer's credit rating drops, the value of EVERY BOND THEY INSURE also drops, because the risk of default for all those bonds goes up. But who is rating these monoliners? Why the same rating agencies that are rating the bonds in the first place. If Moodys says the bonds you insure are AAA bonds, well how could they say that your company is anything but an AAA credit risk itself? So they insured more and more of these CDOs.

What Buffet is offering these companies is the following. "Look, you say all your credit risk is AAA, and you are only suffering a liquidity crisis. Ok, I'll reinsure your bond insurance to the tune of 800 Billion with a B, but only on the MUNI BONDS. I'll take all the income streams from the insurance premiums and risk of default on those AAA municipal bonds, and give you this sack of cash. You keep all the premium incomes and risk of default on those CDOs. If those CDOs are really AAA risk bonds like you continue to say they are, well, this should be a fine deal for you, since you'll get most of those premiums and be able to pay off defaults and have money left over to pay off any creditors."

The truth is though, that there's no way those bonds they have are AAA worthy. There's been a lot of mortgage defaults, and there'll be more in the next couple quarters. If they sell off those assets now and the money they get for them isn't enough to pay off defaults, they just explode. If, on the other hand, they keep those munis, they have a potent threat against the bond market. Remember, if they lose their credit rating, Billions (maybe trillions?) of dollars in bonds suddenly lose value. Bonds held by many, many players in the market. Bonds issued by many, many cities and states throughout the country. They are banking that it would be so catastrophic for that to happen that there would be a bailout before it happened. They may be right too.

Whew. I have to learn how to do the short post that opens into a longer post thing.

UPDATE: Apparently the "chief risk officer" at Ambac was, um, let go. Don't worry though. Lovely parting gifts. $800,000 and all.


Via Drum, this link to SUSA's performance ranking for the various polls is here.

Unsurprisingly, SUSA's own polling comes out #1. Their methodology for this is available and looks solid though. Take a look at the chart. Probably not a bad idea to keep in mind the track record of the outfit releasing the poll next time you see a headline.

Health Insurance

Ezra has a very good post about health insurance here.

He knows way more about health care/insurance policy than I do, so go read what he has to say.

The nickle summary is that basically, markets are really good for delivering to the public shoes or fruit or breakfast cereal, but they are bad for delivering health insurance. Primarily this is because the health care market and health insurance market are not the same. If a health insurance company became increasingly good at delivering quality effective healthcare, it would be increasingly LESS competitive, because it would attract more and more users who needed healthcare. It is in an insurance company's best interest to find ways to eliminate high risk, chronically ill and other expensive patients from their rolls, and insure only the young and healthy.

And let me add that this isn't because people that run health insurance companies are bad people who rejoice in denying coverage to the ill (though some may be). They are just trying to run an efficient profitable business in a free market as defined by current regulatory market. It's the structure of the market that needs to change (or be replaced with a government program).

But like I said, go read it.

Edwards beats Wynn

Had to blog this when I got into work.

Very big news. MD4 is a very heavily Democratic district. It's a safe seat, and it's had Al Wynn representing it for years. The thing is, Wynn voted for the war, voted for war funding, voted for the bankruptcy bill, etc... His voting record is conservative-moderate in a liberal district. He also takes scads of lobbiest money (check out this fund raiser invitation). This win is very, very big. If representatives from solid Democratic districts know that if they don't support progressive policies, they will get a serious challenge from the left, that will do more to increase the power and cohesion of the Democratic caucus than anything else.

UPDATE: Look at this to give you an idea of just how democratic this district is. With 76% of the precints reporting, Donna Edwards had about 52,000 votes, Al Wynn was around 30,000. The winning Republican had around 4,200.

UPDATE II: Good post on this by Matthew Yglesias. As he says, "the tree of progressive politics must be watered with the metaphorical blood of sellouts ever now and again. "

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Another Sweep

Obama takes the Potomac drainage basin primary convincingly. Looks like he is going to win all two and a half states by more than 60% in each.

Watching his speech again. He's just so damn good. Seriously he is a remarkable orator. He is hitting Hillary hard but always obliquely. Not saying "Hillary is bad" but "young men die in war that shouldn't have been authorized" "same old game taking lobbiest money" "change that polls well versus change we can believe in."

The only people he attacks by name are "Bush/McCain Republicans." He's being more and more explicit on his attacks against people that support(ed) the Iraq war. This serves as an attack on Hillary (basically "I'm more electable because I've never supported the war") and it frames the issue for an attack against McCain on Iraq (unneccessary war, we could have spent that money at home etc).

Overall though, just listening to him, wow what an incredible speaker. He's ok at debating, but just a knock out on the stump. Maybe it's uniquely appealing to those in my demographic. I don't know. But wow.

Update: I think maybe the biggest applause line was "George Bush won't be on the ballot this November." Haha.

Update II: McCain came in and cut off Barack's speech just as he was winding up to the big finish. He cut McCain off on Super Tuesday, which was great. I have no idea if these are entirely serendipitous or if they are planned, but it's definitely something you want to do (or avoid) if you can.

Oh My God

This is just... horrible.

Sometimes I think, hey, you know, conservatives aren't that bad. Really we all want the same thing they just have a different way to achieve them. Then I see something like this:

[Scalia] said it was "extraordinary" to assume that the ban on "cruel and unusual punishment" - the US Constitution's Eighth Amendment - also applied to "so-called" torture.
"To begin with the constitution... is referring to punishment for crime. And, for example, incarcerating someone indefinitely would certainly be cruel and unusual punishment for a crime."

Yeah, you see that "so called torture" isn't "cruel and unusual" because it isn't "punishment." So it's terrible terrible to punish someone by waterboarding them, that is, if you know they did something wrong, they've had due process, and been convicted, etc, no waterboarding. If, on the otherhand, you just THINK that they did something wrong, or maybe know people who might due something wrong in the future, then it's OK to waterboard them. Because it's a ban against cruel and unusual PUNISHMENT, not INTERROGATION! This guy is on the Supreme Court.


Good News

Ok, after the last post I had to find something good to cheer me up.

Today is NATIONAL PANCAKE DAY! Go to IHOP and get some pancakes. Mmmm. Pancakes.

Om nom nom nom.


It's sort of hard to communicate how truely depressing and distressing this is, and this.

Basically, the U.S. Senate seems to be on the brink of passing a complete get-out-of-jail-free bill for any and all illegal spying by the executive branch. This would not have been possible without the explicit cooperation of Sen. Harry Reid and a minority of Senate Democrats (including Diane Finstein from CA and John "Jay" Rockefeller IV), who all decided that the best thing to do would be to give the administration everything they wanted. It's upsetting and dispiriting and ... aaagggghhhh.

Look seriously, here are the words of the fourth amendment:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
(complete Bill of Rights)

It's perfectly clear that for these rights to have meaning in the modern era they must extend to modern forms of communication. Secure in your emails, telephone conversations, text messages, and private IMs. The Senate is pretty much saying "well never mind all that, as long as you say you're looking for terrorists just go right ahead. Oh, and that part where the US Government and telcos broke the law, well never you mind that." This is, without exageration, the most horrid thing I've ever seen the US Senate pass.

For more on this see Glenn Greenwald here and here.

Well you can see a partial results here. I don't know where they're getting these vote counts from. I only seem to be able to find reference to them on political blogs when I google for them, but it's all I have to go on for now so I'll assume it's accurate until proven otherwise.

From the list Daniel Inouye (D-HI), Herb Kohl (D-WI), Tom Carper (D-DE), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) are all pretty surprising. Particularly Inouye, Kohl, and Stabenow. Carper and Mikulski at least have lots of banking/telecom jobs in their district. Arguably they could be considering the interests of those industries more favorably. But the other three, I don't know. If you're a senator from the solidly Democratic state of Hawaii, why on earth would you vote for something supported by telecom companies but not constituents. I mean, it's not like "granting telecom companies immunity" would possibly garner lots of votes. Webb is predictable but depressing none the less. The others are all conservative Democrats.

Not that there is an adequate excuse for any vote for this bill ever. Really it's that bad. I'd talk more about it but I'm getting a headache (well, a heartache for my country, manifesting as a headache).

Huckabee Wins Texas

I'm a little late on this, but Huckabee is clearly set to win Texas as part of his miracle come from behind strategy. Video below.

Monday, February 11, 2008

This Just In: Scientologists Are Crazy

Yeah, yeah. This is old news. I mean, if the Tom Cruise recruitment video didn't convince you I dunno what will.

But this is just weird. Apparently there was a protest against Scientology held in LA. And people wore masks! To hide their identity from Tom Cruise I guess.

Anyway, what I find really weird is the "Ice Truck" that happened to park near by... cause that's not suspicious at all.

Photo by Flickr user seanbonner.

RIP Tom Lantos

The only Holocaust survivor to serve in the US Senate died today. He was the Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Dirty China

No, not dishes. Pollution. Check this out.

Photo from NASA.

Caucus Effect, Believe It!

Obama won again on Sunday in Maine, keeping his streak of impressive caucus victories alive.

Via Kevin Drum, comes this from Brendan Nyhan, which seems to conclude that the caucus effect may actually be mathematically significant.

Brendan examines a 5 conventional wisdom statements about Barack. 1) Caucuses are good for Barack, 2) Barack does well in states with especially high or low black populations, 3) Barack doesn't do well among Hispanics, 4) Barack does not do well in large population states, and 5) Barack does not do as well in high population states.

He finds that the first and second have some significant statistical support. The rest, while the evidence does support them, the correlation is much much worse. In fact, in the update he says he "wouldn't put too much stock in the results of any of these hypothesis tests because (a) hypothesis testing is riddled with epistemological problems and (b) it's difficult to achieve significance in small samples." So take it all with a grain of salt.

Also, this doesn't attempt to answer WHY he has the caucus advantage, just that it seems it exists.

Better Math Needed In Washington State

So on the Democratic side, Obama had another big win in Washington. On the Republican side ... well hmm, looks like we're still waiting?

Apparently, the most recent results we can get are 87% reporting. You have to wonder if maybe those poor Republicans cant actually count up to 100.
Here are the latest totals as of Monday afternoon EST for Republicans:

McCain 3,468 26%
Huckabee 3,226 24%
Paul 2,799 21%
Romney 2,253 16%
Uncommitted 1,729 13%

So McCain is up over Huckabee by a whole 242 votes. Kind of seems like it might be worth counting those ballots. Not if you're Republican Party Chairman Luke Esser though! Nope, Mr. Esser felt that 87% was good enough and called the race for McCain. Really! Now Mr. Esser is open to trying to finish the job, but it looks really hard. So, you know the "Republican Party was going to try to get as "close as we can to 100 percent" in the vote count." Don't strain yourself man!

Much more on this here.

Like Hope, But Different

Lol. McCain answers back.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

And the Winner Is ... Romney?

Wow. A guy who isn't even running beat McCain by more that 100%. That's crazy. That's huge.

This is just more evidence of the massive dissaffection among the republican base with McCain. I don't know why they seem to hate him, but they do. Wow.

UPDATE: Ok I'm an idiot. The Republican Caucus was February 2 in Maine, Not February 10. So, um, never mind about this post. :-/

Big Weekend for Obama and Huckabee

Great news for Obama, with big wins in all three states on February 9.

Obama won by more than 60% in both caucus states. It seems that his streak of winning in caucuses is more than a fluke. Why he does so well in Caucuses as opposed to primaries I'm not sure, but it's a consistent pattern. We'll see after Today's Maine caucus. It neighbors New Hampshire, which Hillary won in a primary earlier, and it's not seen as a particularly strong state for Obama.

The big news is the continuing Republican disaffection with McCain. Huckabee's win in Louisiana is unsuprising, but 60% win in Nebraska is interesting. And McCain won in Washington with only 26%.

UPDATE: Additional speculation over at Washington Monthly here.

I'm Not Dead Yet

New Jersey woman was declared dead twice. Dispite the insistence of the Social Security Administration, she remains very much alive.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Cauc(as)us, Not Just A Mountain Range In Asia

Another thing which I wanted to blog about that came up in my conversation with my Sister the other night was the massive effect Caucuses (cauci? it is a latin root but according to it's -es) had on the results.

Looking at the results from Super Fat Tuesday, one thing that really jumps out at you are these HUGE margins for Obama in some states. When you look closely, it turns out that most of those wins came in Caucus states. Obama won by over 60% in 7 states. Of those, his home state of Illinois (65%) and the heavily black Georgia (67%) were the only primary states. The other 5 where he racked up big margins were caucus states, including Colorado (67%) Minnesota (67%), Kansas (74%), Alaska (75%) and the total blow out in Idaho (79%). The only caucus state he's lost has been Nevada.

Caucuses are different from elections because you ahve to be at the voting site at a very specific time. This means it's more of a pain in the ass. It also means that if you have a very rigid schedule, you're SOL. But why do caucuses favor Obama by such huge margins? I dunno. I can think of two educated guesses as to why he does better. First, Obama tends to do best with younger voters and the most affluent of voters. These voters are the most likely to have the schedules flexible enough to attend caucus events. Second, Obama brings in lots of first time voters. When the process is "turn up, check off ballot, go about your day" habitual voters will attend. It takes more motivation to get people out to a caucus. And Obama seems to be capable of generating that kind of excitement. What does that mean? Well, the next caucus state is Washington this weekend. Guess we'll see.

Image Public Domain, US Government from the Galvin Library.

Not So Broke?

So it looks like that whole "Hillary is out of money" thing may not be so true after all. According to ABC News, no staffers have gone without pay at all. Was it just a bad tip? Was it a publicity stunt to generate donations? Dunno. But this is unquestionably good news for Hillary supporters.

It should be noted that there were similar rumors circulating right before New Hampshire which proved to be similarly false.

Super Delegate II the Adventure Continues

Via Election Geek, according to Paul Kane of WaPo, it looks like Super Delegates may well determine the election. He makes a very good point that 55% of the pledged delegates have been won by now. In order for Obama or Clinton to win, they would have to rack up lots of very big victories in order to get over the 2,025 total delegates needed to win.

Now of course if one candidate falls short but still has a clear delegate lead, the Super Delegates won't buck the system. They are, by and large, all professional politicians. In addition, if one candidate is very close, there will likely be a stampede to their door to try and get there first to provide the winning margin.

But there's a real chance that this will come down to the convention. Add the wild card of Florida and Michigan a) voting for Hillary, and b) not being seated due to the fact they "broke the rules" and you have a particularly volitile situation. I could certainly imagine a very slim delegate lead voting to bring in Fl and Mi who then bring in the nomination for Hillary.

Still very idle speculation. We still have almost half the country to go. But it's more likely than I thought. Kneel before Zod!
Image found on internet and flagrantly used without permission. Please don't sue me. Or burn me with your heat ray vision.

Woody Allen, Genius

Those that know me know I'm a bit of a movie buff. Woody Allen has made some clunkers in his time. When he's not funny he's extremely boring in a uniquely annoying way. But when he's on he's great, and Annie Hall is nothing short of brilliant.

If rumors printed in the New York Post (and let's face it, that's pretty much everything in the Post) are true, Woody Allen is currently filming what will soon be the BEST FILM EVER MADE.


One last lunchtime blog.

Check out this commercial that did not air for obvious reasons. Hahahaha. Sorry guys.

The actual commercial that ran is here.

EDIT: Had to add this from the Onion.

No Honor Among Thieves

It turns out that Republican donors are not the only ones who engage in questionable accounting. The the FBI has been alerted to problems that seem to stem from the former treasurer of the RNCC (the committee that recruits candidates and helps provide fundraising and independent ad buys for Republican House races). He actually handed out forged audit records to Republican house members. Read all about it here.

Gee, so the party that took a surplus budget and turned it into a giant deficit by cutting taxes for the wealthy and starting an expensive and unnecessary war has problems keeping its books straight eh? Whoda thunk?

Swearing On Internet Totally OK

California's 6th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled (warning: PDF) that it's totally ok to call people names on the internet anonymously. "Senor_Pinche_Wey" said mean things about the President and CEO of SBFC, including the scurolous allegation that she "has fat thighs, a fake medical degree, 'queefs,' and has poor feminine hygene."

Despite the best arguments of Ms. Krinsky's lawyers, the Court of Appeals refused to order Yahoo! to turn over the true identity of this mean, mean meanie Senor_Pinche_Wey. The court concluded that while his statements were "unquestionably offensive and demeaning to plaintiff, [they] did not constitute assertions of actual fact."

So feel free to use your anonymous accounts to call people names.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Romney Out?

Looks like Romney is going to do the smart thing and drop out today according to CNN.

Mitt Romney's record of being the pro-choice, fiscally responsible, gay tolerant Governor of Massachussetts that signed a landmark universal healthcare bill didn't resonate with Republican primary voters. And Mitt Romney's presidential campaign where he came out against abortion rights, in favor of making permanent Republican tax cuts, demonizing gay marriage and deriding "socialized medicine" failed to gain traction with the Republican faithful.

Romney's 5 sons can all breathe a sigh of relief, since this means he'll stop spending their inheritance at a clip of $1.6M per delegate. After all, none of them have a military pension to fall back on.

Still, that's a bargain compared to Guliani, who paid a whopping $48.8 Million for ONE delegate. He should have given every voting age person in Iowa a $20. It would have been more cost efficient (by about $5Million).

Nicaraguans Celebrate Patriots' Superbowl Victory

How do you say "go Patriots" in Spanish?

I. Drink. Your. Milkshake!

If you haven't seen There Will Be Blood, um go see it. Now. Seriously, you will not be disappointed. Don't read reviews, don't ask what it's about. Just go and see for yourself.

Anyway, someone made a mashup of Kelis' "Milkshake" and the signature line from the end of TWBB, and cut it together with some shots of the film. Check it out here WARNING INCLUDES WHAT PPL MAY OR MAYNOT CONSIDER SPOILERS.

It's A Bird! It's A Plane! No It's...


Ok so my sister and I had a discussion last night about the primaries/caucuses and who gets alocated how and... and what's the deal with super delegates? Much of this came up in the context my sister trying to explain how this thing worked to my brother-in-law, this being the first U.S. presidential election he's seen up close. His reaction, from what I gather, has been that of any sane individual, namely "this is a total mess and makes zero sense." So true.

Basically, the current primary system is an amalgam of compromises between political elites and rank and file party members made over the last hundred and fifty years. You can get a brief overview here. Eeach state contest results in selecting a certain number of "pledged delegates" who have promised to vote for a specific candidate. Technically they can defect at the convention, but each campaign selects the delegates it sends, so that's unlikely. In addition to these, there are "Super Delegates." These consist of all party congresspeople (House and Senate), all former presidents, vice presidents, and pres and VP nominees, current members of the DNC, current and former DNC chairs, and all governors. These "Super Delegates" are a vestige of the compromise after the 1968 convention between the progressive activist base that wanted more direct democracy in selecting the nominee and the party elites, and they wind up being around 20% of the total delagate pool. The super delegates may choose either candidate. A good explanation is available here.

As a practical matter, it would be extremely difficult to imagine a candidate that was clearly leading the race losing the nomination solely due to the super delegate vote. After all, the point is to pick a candidate that will win. If it's really REALLY close though, or if one leads in delegates and the other leads the popular vote or something, well then things would be interesting. It's not hard to imagine the kind of chaos that would ensue, or the kind of fantastic promises and favors super delegates could extract in such a situation. I hope it doesn't come to that if only because of the huge potential for asymetrical influence of political insiders.

UPDATE: Interesting speculation on an alternative scenario of super delegate influence here.

Photo from Flickr user David Chief, used under Creative Commons License

Happy New Year!

I hope everyone has a good 4705!

This year it's Wu Zi, Year of the Rat.

Of course, in the Hebrew Calendar, we're in the middle of 5768, which explains why only Jews have flying cars.

Image by Flickr user SqueakyMarmot used under Creative Commons License.

Franken for Senate

Good news for Al Franken, he's now polling ahead of incumbent Norm Coleman. This is only ONE poll, and I don't know how good the methodology is, so take with grain of salt. Over all though it looks very bad for Coleman, as the polls have all been trending against him no matter who is the Democratic nominee.

Come on, what would be better than former SNL writer and cast member in the Senate. Can you imagine how entertaining that would make CSPAN?

If he wins we're going to need a "draft Carl Weathers" movement. It isn't right that Jesse and Arnold get to be governors and not him. (if you don't get it click here)

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Obama Pwns Youtube

Here's a story about the "Yes We Can" video. And if you havent seen it, well get with it. Cool stuff.

EDIT: Oh, and while we're on the youtube, it wouldn't be right if I had a blog and all and I didn't post one of THE PLAY from the Superbowl. Go Giants!

Big News of the Evening - Money

It seems that it's been confirmed that Clinton has self-financed to the tune of $5 Million. And according to NBC some of Clinton's staff have "voluntarily chosen to work without pay."

That's very big news. Obviously she feels pressure to keep up with Obama's record pace for fundraising, and she turned in lesss than 14 Million.

SuperTuesday was as close to a national primary as you could get. The stakes were very high and there was so much territory that massive ad spending was virtually mandatory. So it looks like the fundraising didn't keep up with the spending.

What he said

Ezra Klein has a very good post about why Jim Webb should NOT be the VP choice. I couldn't agree more. The vice presidency IS where good politicians go to die.

My dad and I have talked about who WOULD be a good choice. And the more I think about it, the more I am thinking Joe Biden, especially for Barak Obama. Richardson would, of course, be an interesting pick. Demographically (hispanic) and geographically (south west) he's perfect. Plus he has strong international policy credentials which would be good for either candidate. And you're sure he would be a credible caretaker in event of emergency who definitely would not out-shine the top of the ticket. The problem with Richardson are two fold. First, and most important, you need an attack dog on the ticket who has sharp instincts and isn't affraid to make the kind of attacks you don't want the top of the ticket making. Richardson hasn't shown a knack for this at all. He's far too avuncular and diplomatic. He's the sort to build bridges not burn them. Second, I think he really is incredibly skilled at international diplomacy. He's served as our Ambassador to the UN, so he knows people at key institutions and has significant background knowlege from countless briefings. He's negotiated with North Korea (twice) often credited with critical advances with them on resolving the Pungyang reactor issue and he's gone to Sudan (twice) negotiating the release of a journalist and, most recently, brokering a 60-day cease fire in Darfur in January 2007.

His skills would be wasted in a Vice President. VP's don't hold any real power (except for Cheney, but we don't have anyone of W's intellect running, thank God) but are a seperate (sometimes competing) political power base. As such they can't really be seen to speak for the administration, and allowing them to do so can be risky. I'd much rather see Richardson as a Secretary of State. Probably not an option for Hillary, since it seems she has all but promised the post to Holbrooke, but Obama wouldn't want Holbrooke since he's such a close adviser to Hillary, and his fundamental foreign policy hawkishness would be a bad fit for Obama.

Biden on the other hand, would be a huge asset. He would still bring to the ticket the foreign policy credentials that Richardson does as a long serving member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. But he has also shown a real acerbic wit in the Democratic debates, pulling off some of the best one liners (who can forget his line about Guliani: he forms a sentence with a noun, a verb, and 9/11). He wouldn't create too much of an independent power base, since he's clearly in the twilight of his carreer. I have no doubt that he could continue to be elected, but he clearly want's more, and it's equally clear he has as much chance of becoming president as I do. Being on a winning presidential ticket would be almost an honorarium recognizing his years of service. And especially for Obama, he would bring a large number of long standing connections in DC which, if he was willing to deploy them, could be an invaluable resource to Obama.

It has to be said that I also like the idea because it would remove him from the Senate. It's not that I hate him as a senator per se, but some of his votes haven't been that great in my opinion (the bankruptcy bill, the Iraq war off the top of my head). Also, he comes from a very Democratic state, so there's no risk of losing a critical seat in the Senate. Given the over all mood of the party, you run a decent chance of replacing him with a more progressive Senator, and certainly no one more conservative, so it would be worth a try.

Other names have been mentioned.... but that's for another time.


That should be Clinton with 50.2% and Obama with 49.8% of their total vote share. Obama did wind up with slightly more delegates though.

Super Fat Tuesday Final Results

So it turns out that the final tallies were really really close.

As per this Obama seems to have gotten 50.2% of the actual vote to Hillary's 49.8% (actually, those are percentages of the total Obama/Hillary total vote share, since we're counting only votes cast for those two candidates). Accordingly Obama came away with a very slight edge in delegates as well (though (I think??) Hillary is still ahead in total delegates). Obama should win Louisiana handily, so Washington should be the upcoming state to watch. After that there's the Maryland/Virginia/DC trifecta that favors Obama as well (Obama won Delaware, and all three have significant black populations).

Happy Mardi Gras

Hope yours was better than this gal's.

"I opened the door and this Oompa-Loompa is standing there"

The Creepiest Holiday of the Year.

So today is Ash Wednesday, and sorry to offend any of my Catholic friends, but this holiday gives me the willies. Basically you're just going along and then all of a sudden all these people show up with crosses on their foreheads. It's like something out of a zombie movie or cult film. My first reaction is "what the!?" followed by an "oh riiiiight."

It didn't creep me out so much this year because I was so aware that Mardi Gras was yesterday, but I usually find it startling.

Picture from Flickr by puroticorico used under creative commons license.

Every Season is Tornado Season

According to this paper middle Tennessee has a "peak tornado season of March, April, and May."

Absolutely devestating tornadoes hit Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi and Alabama yesterday. The storms killed at least 45 people according to Reuters and of course lots of property damage.

Is this because of global warming? No. Look single events, unusual weather, etc, this stuff happens and has happened throughout human history. A human life is around three quarters of a century in the US. Climate fluctuations take centuries to realize. However, this is the TYPE of weather event that global warming could cause with greater frequency. Why is spring Tornado season? Because of the weather. And the weather was spring like throughout the South East yesterday. I talked to my dad who was fishing on the river in 70 degree weather in South Carolina. I wouldn't say that global warming caused these storms, but the fact that it was unseasonably warm DID. And if the weather becomes increasingly warm increasingly earlier, this is the kind of thing that can happen.

Link to CNN

Just a link to the results at CNN. Looks like Mizzou JUST went for Obama. NM is still up in the air as of this morning. With proportional representation this doesn't matter that much other than for PR purposes, and I don't think New Mexico is going to swing the campaign narrative.

I agree with Lou Dobbs and other random wrap up.

Wow. Dobbs is saying that the public really might actually LIKE to be involved in the election and many states get to have their voices heard. Hey hey!

It's ok that this isn't decided yet. I couldn't agree more.

Paul Begala made a great point that NO the Democratic race hasn't really been that divisive. It's been a lot of debate on issues, and there hasn't been a negative campaign commercial run yet (true). Really the Democratic race has been pretty decent.

And when did CNN decide that elections should be reported using giant Iphones? Here, let me push the state around with my finger. Huh?

Dunno what the breakdown is for CA, but Hillary seems to have a big lead. Might just be the fact that Hillary places happened to come in first.

Seems the big surprise is that Huckabee has been kicking ass in the South. He's kneecapped Romney, but he also delivered a blow to McCain. McCain wanted to come out of this day with a big lead, but between losing states to Romney and Huckabee, his national poll lead doesn't really translate into as many delegates as he'd hoped.

Time for bed. Guess I did want to blog. Thanks K. Lols.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Obama Speech

Starts with Tennessee. So both Dem mentioned the disaster victims and none of the Republicans did. Maybe that says something?

He had two major themes, Unity and Change. He started out with "change is coming to America." Then he turned hard into unity. There's no red states or blue states, we are the United States. Unity unity unity.

We owe the American people a real choice. Also making essentially "I'll be a better candidate against the Republican" because essentially I'm more different (I didn't support the war, I didn't support torture, etc) and independent voters don't hate me. Including a slam! Woah, Hillary has "taken more lobbiest money than either Republican."

Ends up with a list of aspirational goals, and then his big wrapup. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek. Wow great stuff. Began as a whisper became a hymn (alusions to I have a dream). And winds up with YES WE CAN.

Good speech, maybe a bit too long. He's just as good an orator as his reputation. And he's urging people to change. It's an empowering message. Hillary seemed like "I'm competent, I will fight for you." Obama seemed to be saying "WE need to fight together."

Utah came in for him during his speech as well, which made for a nice graphic.

McCain Speech

Won in "the closest thing to a national primary we've had." Nice phrase. Also interesting that that's a positive thing. I'm not sure that a national primary would be a good idea. It would put a huge emphasis on fundraising. It still seems clear that reform would be a good idea.

Oh, did I mention that my Mom is still alive? Yeah, she's old. I'm related to her you know.

Here comes Obama. I hope they switch over. YES. Shut it McCain. Dunno if they timed it that way on purpose but if they did, the campaign manager deserves a gold star. Awesome!

Things You Learn from the Daily Show

Chris Wallace (Fox News) was the guest tonight. They had some pretty funny exchanges, but he did announce something that was pretty interesting. He said that Hillary had accepted a debate on Fox News. Confirmed here.

Wow. That's so stupid it's hard to imagine. One of the few really good things that the Democrats have actually done this primary season is just avoid Fox News. It doesn't reduce the number of debates (jebus there's been a ton of them). It's a really effective way to make the point that Fox News is what everyone knows it is, Republican propaganda. At the same time they've been handing their competitors huge ratings wins. CNN had the most watched political debate ever on Cable TV.

And what was the other thing that Chris Wallace announced on the Daily Show? Oh, that Karl Rove would be joining the Fox News team! Huh, so you have a Fox anchor go on a show and give two big announcements at the same time: Karl Rove now a part of Fox News, and Hillary Clinton wants to debate on Fox News. That pretty much says it all.

I'm so glad I voted for Barak.

Super Fat Tuesday

22 state primaries fall on Mardi Gras today. Lots of blogging on todays primary results this Tuesday, no blogging on party beads or naked breasts. I think I need to change my interests...

Hillary Speech

Weird sound delay on CNN's feed is distracting. Man it's annoying. It's like watching some badly dubbed Kungfu movie. Or Iron Chef. Wow it would rock if she bit a bell pepper.

Her rhetoric is really positioned to try to say "I'm doing this for you." I "hear your voice" and "speaking for you." Nice mention of the disasters in Tennessee. No Republicans did that.

She's clearly promising to be tough, competent and fair, fighting for "you." Her cheer lines are "health insurance for every man woman and child" (huge cheers), "be respected around the world" etc... Pretty different from a republican crowd.

Oh, and she looks forward to more debates. Guess she thinks they're working for her.

Shout out to American Samoa! Nice. I wonder if Barak is going to give props to Indonesia.

11:00. Time for the Daily Show.

Romney Speech

Well his crowd is excited. Oddly the line about how America needs someone who has held a "private sector job" was a huge cheer line. "This is the greatest nation in the history of the Earth." Crickets. Weird stuff that Republicans cheer for.

I was really struck with how negative his message was. The major theme of the first half seemed to be "Ameirica is going to hell." It was cautionary (going not gone we need to change etc) but talking about how America will be a second tier power at the end of the 21st Century unless you vote for me (booga booga booga) seems like a pretty negative message. And his wind up was his "BUT THEY HAVEN'T" set. If you haven't seen it, it basically is a bunch of "Washington politicians promised to give us FOO" (no immigrants or less taxes for rich people, whatever) and the crowd replies "BUT THEY HAVEN'T." Again, his message seems to be "bad stuff will happen if you don't elect me." He's encouraging people to vote for him because they will avoid a negative rather than achieve a positive.

I have to say that this is a tough sell. When I was canvasing Kerry in 04, this was essentially my problem. I didn't LOVE Kerry. I didn't think he would bring about Universal Healthcare or an immediate withdrawl from Iraq (because, well, he SAID that he wouldn't). But I was out there canvasing for him in Pennsylvania because Bush was a disaster. People just don't respond to this well. If you ring someone's doorbell with a message that's essentially negative ("hey, Bush really REALLY sucks, totally awful, so vote for Kerry") they just start feeling negative. You're trying to convince them to go DO something. VOTE. That's a positive action, and most people just don't get that motivated to get up early on Tuesday just to punch the other candidate in the nose.

Minnesota, North Dakota, Kansas for Obama

Strong showing in the Midwest for Obama. That bodes pretty well. Winning Connecticut is big for Obama too. New York was pretty much going to go for Clinton and New Jersey too due to proximity (losing New Jersey would have been a big black eye, losing NY would have been auto lose), but the fact that Obama was able to peel off Connecticut from Hillary out of the tristate area plus do well over the upper midwest is definitely a good sign for him. Either way the delegate count is going to be close, which is what Obama needed.

Interestingly, very severe weather in Memphis (they had tornados in Tennessee, IN FEBRUARY!) may have hurt Obama in Tennessee. People don't turn out to the polls when they're busy hiding in their basements.

Huckabee Speech

Wow. Can we squeeze a few more Biblical references in? The David allusion was nice, but he's over doing it a bit.

One of his applause lines was that he couldn't wait to nail a closed for business sign on the IRS. Do people really think that it would be possible to abolish the IRS? Really? I mean, that idea is so wildly insane it's sort of mindblowing.

Look, a hundred years ago the IRS didn't exist (the 16th Amendment was passed in 1913). But neither did the Department of Commerce (1913), Labor (1913), Health and Human Services (1979), Housing and Urban Development (1966), Transportation (1967), Energy (1979), Education (1979), Veterans Affairs (1989) or Homeland of Security (2003). Which of these does he intend to eliminate?

Do people really think that a national sales tax can make up all the revenue? That would be crazy. Massive and disproportionate affect on the poor. Huge tax breaks for the rich. Plus, you'd need a rate so high that it would wind up creating a large black market economy. For a primer from Brad deLong (Berkley Econ Prof. and incredibly smart and articulate guy) go here (you have to watch an ad but there's no login).

Wow, now they're interviewing him. "You know you're not going to win, why didn't you drop out?" Really? That's the question to him? It's like the media just can't conceive that some people like him. I'm certainly no supporter but can we have someone just report this straight up? Jeeze.
Ouch. 56% reporting in IL - 03 and Lipinski is over 50% of the vote. I don't know if they have a run off, but the fact that he's over 50% will make it immaterial. It's annoying that Capparelli and Jerry Bennett split the opposition vote (it seems like an open secret that they ran to split the anti-Lipinski vote). Still, I was really hoping to see a progressive Democrat knock off a conservative Democrat in a very Democratically leaning district. Still have Donna Edwards to root for. Still, the thing that will do the most to help progressive politics would be successful challenges to conservative Democrats from the left.

Test Of Photo Posting

Obligatory cat picture. I'm not sure why but the cat has become almost symbolic of lonley singles living alone. It's like a pirate's parrot or a firehouse dalmatian. Anyway, hope this works.

Bill Bennet

He's on TV. On CNN, not even Fox. Why is this man on television? What a pompus ass.

Terrible Election Coverage

Wow. They have someone on television showing me a high res image of ... THE CNN WEBSITE. WTF...

You know, really the only thing this makes me feel is pity for Wolf Blitzer. He's trying to shill this thing like it's really exciting that's totally developing right now. Except he's reporting on something that only really develops once an hour. So he's frantically "oh let's look at this graphic" "let's talk to our pannel and ask them to make observations that any 5th grader who's had a civics course could make." He's like a baseball announcer who's had all his stat notes stolen, desperately trying to fill time between the hours. I half expect him to bust out the floppy shoes and shout LOOK LOOK AT THIS CLOWN NOSE!

UPDATE: At least they're identifying Paul Begala as a "Hillary Supporter."

Oh nice "White Women put Hillary over the top" ugh. Is this really necessary?

UPDATE II: NY for Hillary. Predictable. Hope Barak keeps it close and gets a decent number of delegates.

UPDATE III: Speaking of how bad this coverage is. Really there's no reason to keep this on. I'll keep checking in every hour or so. It'd be nice if they had people that actually knew about politics, especially local politics on. There are a few interesting primary contests that I'd like to know about.

PBS Too?

The News Hour with Jim Leher is sort of the last bastion of news professionalism on TV, so it was really disappointing to watch their "commentators" segment that featured three people telling us how silly the Democrats were to have proportionate representation because ... well, um... because the Republicans would choose their nominee first! And... um... that's bad or something. Later Brooks told us that he likes the Iowa because it makes the candidates "really get to know the voters" OF IOWA. Why it's good that Iowans get to meet every candidate but people in, say, Tennessee don't, or why candidates should spend oodles of money on New Hampshire advertising and not in Vermont, well those things were not explained. Shields declared it was bad because it was "everyone gets a ribon" thinking and THAT'S bad. So for some reason we all think it's good that one of the Republican candidates could win all the Georgia delegates with 34% of the vote.

You know, it's not that people were talking about whether Iowa makes sense, or why winner take all primaries are good. What bugged the hell out of me is that everyone was talking about well this would favor candidates with good fundraising or this would be strategically good for blah. No one, NOT ONE PERSON ever mentioned or even seemed concerned with what was best for America, or for our democracy. No one ever said, "I support [winner take all primaries, Iowa first whatever] because I think it produces the best results, because it's [most democratic, or produces the best candidates, or produces the candidates that are most loyal to their party or whatever]." It was all discussion of process and strategy, with no discussion of government, which is sort of the point of these election things.

Family Guy

When did Family Guy become Law and Order? TBS and Comedy Central have it in syndication, and Fox has the new episodes and reruns. Seriously I think it's on close to 8 hours a day. It's nice for me since I just got cable for the first time in 5 years but I can see it getting old fast.

Crossing the Rubicon

The vote is cast. Obama as it happens.

A friend of mine reccomended I start this. Well, really it was more of an off hand comment in an email, but I'd been thinking about it for a while so why not. Besides, blogging is the new trend of 4 years ago so that's about par for the course for me. Huzzah.