May 22, 2015

Friday Essential Reads / Open Thread


Old Bush Family Friends Are Keeping Their Distance in NH
Boston Globe

If presidential hopeful Jeb Bush was counting on his famous family’s legacy in New Hampshire to help him, he has to be disappointed.

Some influential Granite State Republicans who in the past enthusiastically backed Bush family candidates — such as Jeb Bush’s father in 1988 and brother in 2000 — so far are not offering that same support to the newest Bush on the political scene.

Spanish Elections This Weekend Could Be a Four-Way Split

Nearly a decade ago, Albert Rivera caused a stir in Spanish local politics by posing nude in campaign posters. These days, he sports Hugo Boss suits but his campaign on the national stage is no less eye-catching: His upstart Ciudadanos Party is cutting into support for the ruling conservatives, threatening to bust open Spain’s traditional two-party system.

Painful austerity has dented Spanish living standards, generating disillusionment with both Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s Popular Party and its rival Socialists, which have alternated power since the fall of the Franco dictatorship in the 1970s. Voters are gravitating to renegades such as Rivera’s business-friendly Ciudadanos, or Citizens, as well as the hard-left Podemos (We Can) Party, putting them virtually level in opinion polls with the traditional political heavyweights.

Vax Populi


This article is specific to Arizona (I found it in a Phoenix magazine in my doctor’s office), but the issue is of course national. It’s good, in my view, to see a backlash against Jenny McCarthy and her crowd.

For many years, Dr. Larissa Romero respectfully reserved judgment, and held her tongue, when friends and neighbors opined on the topic of vaccination refusal. After all, her prosperous Central Phoenix neighborhood is precisely the kind of place that tends to breed anti-vax sentiment – i.e. younger, college-educated parents, higher tax brackets, smaller families – so why stir up bad feelings?

But that was before the Disneyland measles outbreak in January, and an estimated 1,000 exposures to the virus in Arizona alone. Romero, the mother of a 2-year-old girl and an infant son, wasn’t prepared to take chances. Having dispatched an Evite for her daughter’s birthday party in early February, Romero – an obstetrician based in Phoenix – amended the invitation, asking families with unvaccinated children not to attend.

Growing Dissatisfaction with Obama among Leftist Pundits

From Instapundit:

Jeffrey Toobin has a piece in The New Yorker today called “Obama’s Game of Chicken with the Supreme Court.” […]

Toobin’s overall sentiment–that a ruling for the plaintiffs in King will be a political loss for President Obama (as it should be, since it was his decision to disregard the plain language of his own signature legislation)–is likely correct.  But what’s even more noteworthy is that it evinces that the Teflon President’s non-stick coating is finally wearing a little  thin with (at least some in) the mainstream media. Unfortunately, the criticism is mostly limited to foreign policy. Evidence of such Teflon thinning includes the Washington Post’s editorial board’s skepticism about the Iran nuclear deal (including his failure to respond to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s arguments before Congress), longtime Democratic pollster Pat Caddell’s recent statement that the Obama Administration is more corrupt than Nixon’s, Chris Matthews’ thrill dissipating to the point where he has called Obama “intellectually lazy,” Kirsten Powers’ criticism of Obama on the ISIS persecution of Christians, and Jon Stewart’s “je suis to be kidding me” quip about Obama’s failure to attend the unity rally in Paris following the Charlie Hebdo terrorism–something veteran liberal foreign affairs expert Leslie Gelb labeled a “horrendous gaffe” that “demonstrated beyond argument that the Obama team lacks the basic instincts and judgment necessary to conduct U.S. national security policy in the next two years.”

by @ 7:00 am. Filed under Uncategorized

May 21, 2015

Essential Reads / Thursday Open Thread

Mr. Walker Goes to Washington

First, a note and a promise. Since I’m the only person posting on the front page at present (hopefully, we’ll get that corrected soon), I need to make it clear that I will not try to batter everybody with a ton of pro-Walker posts.

Besides wanting to be fair and not wanting to ruin the site, I’m really only a fairly tepid Walker supporter for now – we’ll see what happens as time goes on.

With that out of the way, Walker made a visit to Washington a couple days ago, and it appears things went quite well, though Breitbart’s headline — ‘Republican Lawmakers: Scott Walker Dazzles on Capitol Hill‘ – seems just a bit over-the-top, and not quite supported by the actual quotes within the article. Still, there were some very, very positive things said:

“I was very impressed with his seriousness with respect to the growing threats around the world and the need to demonstrate clarity with respect to American foreign policy,” Rep. Andy Barr (R-KY), who has endorsed Sen Rand Paul (R-KY) … said

Steve King of Iowa: “What I’m hearing from members is that Scott Walker is a conservative that has a broad base …”

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), an immigration hardliner like King, said Walker “is very impressive,” according to The Hill.

“It’s hard to be down-home and sophisticated at the same time, but clearly that’s what he is,” Rohrabacher said. “I’ll wait and see what the deal is, but I’m certainly inclined to lean in his direction now.”

Tom Cole of Oklahoma: “He just knocked it out of the park. I think he [changed some minds]. I think people were awfully impressed with his record… so there were a lot of people predisposed to being supportive, but he certainly didn’t do anything other than strengthen himself.”

Sounds pretty good. Then there’s this, from RCP:

Sen. Mike Lee “went in a little doubtful and came away impressed” when he met Tuesday morning with likely presidential candidate Scott Walker, said an aide to Lee who was briefed by the Utah senator on the meeting.



The Clinton Emails – It Just Keeps Getting Better

Wall Street Journal

When Hillary Clinton was secretary of state, her staff scrutinized politically sensitive documents requested under public-records law and sometimes blocked their release, according to people with direct knowledge of the activities.

In one instance, her chief of staff, Cheryl Mills, told State Department records specialists she wanted to see all documents requested on the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, and later demanded that some be held back.

In another case, Ms. Mills’s staff negotiated with the records specialists over the release of documents about former President Bill Clinton’s speaking engagements—also holding some back.

The records requests came under the Freedom of Information Act, or FOIA, the public’s main tool to get information from the government. Decisions on what to release belong with each agency’s FOIA staff, say experts on the law, to guard against the withholding of documents for political or other inappropriate reasons.


LA Adopts $15 Minimum Wage

The Los Angeles Tmes

Los Angeles has approved a $15/hr minimum wage (to be achieved in increments between now and 2020). The city council took under advisement an additional proposal to give twelve personal-leave days per year.
Quick – go out and buy robotics stock.


GOP Is in the Best Shape in Decades – Revisited

The New Yorker

Earlier this week, we linked to an article by Sean Trende and David Byler of RCP on this subject. Shortly afterward, Sean posted a message on Facebook to send the paramedics – because he had been cited positively in The New Yorker. Naturally, The New Yorker thinks it is horrifying that they may be right.

… take a peek at a new analysis of the American political firmament by Sean Trende and David Byler, of the Web site Real Clear Politics. It’s a data-driven article that examines what’s happening not only in Washington but in legislatures and statehouses around the country, which also have a significant impact on people’s lives. Trende and Byler conclude that the Republican Party is already stronger than it has been for many decades. With a good result in 2016, including a takeover of the White House, it could virtually sweep the board. Indeed, Trende and Byler say, the Republicans could end up in their strongest position since 1920, the year women got the vote.

If the spectre of today’s Republican Party monopolizing most of the levers of power at the federal, congressional, and state levels isn’t enough to get people exercised about 2016, I don’t know what is. From tax and spending policy to health insurance, foreign policy, and social issues like gun control and gay marriage, the country would be subjected to a concerted effort to roll back time.




by @ 7:00 am. Filed under Uncategorized

May 16, 2015

Weekend Miscellany

Feel free to add your own miscellany in the comments. Open thread rules apply.


Whither HuffPo?

If this article in Advertising Age is correct, Verizon’s $4.4bil buy of AOL (which shocked me, frankly) was all about buying AOL’s ‘programmatic ad buying’ capabilities (those ads you see before the video that you actually want to watch).

In 2013, AOL purchased, a video-advertising start-up that specializes in automating the connections between advertisers and media companies, a process known as programmatic ad buying. Publishers provide videos they want to have advertising on, marketers hand over ads that they’d like people to see before watching whatever it is they actually want to watch, and AOL’s computers play matchmaker. This year, 28% of all video ads will be purchased through a system like this, according to eMarketer. By next year it will be 40%.

Verizon needs something like this. “The principal interest was around the ad tech platform that [AOL has] done a really terrific job building. We really like the technology a lot,” said John Stratton, Verizon’s exec VP-operations, at an investor conference Tuesday. “We’ve talked a lot about our over-the-top video ambitions, and this is, for us, a very important cornerstone enabler as part of that broader strategy.”

So that leaves us wondering what will happen to the piece of AOL with which most of us are familiar – the popular lefty content provider Huffington Post (the 30th most popular site on the web)?

But there’s a fair deal of skepticism that Verizon actually wants to run a network of online publications. James McQuivey, an analyst at Forrester, immediately speculated that Verizon would sell off the Huffington Post.

Shall we pass the hat and see about buying it? I’m good for upwards of twenty bucks, if pressed.


John Quincey Adams and the Journey to the Center of the Earth

JQA believed that inside the crust that we’re standing on, there are several concentric spheres (or something like that). He tried to get Congress to fund an exploratory expedition, but they wanted no part of it.


More Like Europe – Part II

Many in the US (mostly on the left, politically) think this would be a much better country if only we would act more like Europe. With that in mind, I am enjoying watching Europe’s response to their current immigration crisis.

Libya has criticised EU proposals to authorise the use of force against people smugglers taking migrants across the Mediterranean to Europe.
The Libyan ambassador to the UN told the BBC that the EU’s intentions were unclear and “very worrying”.
The EU is seeking a UN mandate to allow military action to destroy or halt smugglers’ boats in Libyan waters.

I guess air strikes against coyotes in the Sonoran Desert and strafing the Rio Grande might make us more like Europe. How do you think that would go over? (I am definitely not advocating anything of the kind).

The EU is also considering a cap on the number of amnesty-seekers they will accept each year, as well as rules requiring each country to accept a portion of the continent’s immigrants based on population and GDP. Britain has said, “No way, Jose,” or something like that.

Note: If you’re interested, Part I is here.


Ayelet Shaked

Never heard of her? Neither had I, before last week – she is the new shaked4Justice Minister for Israel, and I  herewith nominate her as the world’s best-looking far-right Justice Minister (not a category in which there is a lot of competition, I admit).

This is from an article in Foreign Policy titled ‘The New Face of Israel’s Hard Right“:

Her rapid ascent to the highest reaches of the Israeli political system hit a new peak Wednesday … when the 39-year-old computer engineer and mother of two was given control of Israel’s Justice Ministry. Shaked got the post as part of a desperate last-minute deal that saved Netanyahu from a looming deadline …

She has apparently made some strong (perhaps too strong) statements regarding Pshaked2alestinians in the past, which leads to some people holding contrarian opinions about her fitness for high office.

Fair enough, but they’ll have a hard time selling the ‘monster’ label, I think.


Self-Driving Cars (Mid-50s Version)

Great video (if you enjoy outrageously cheesy stuff, as I do) by General Motors from 1956, showing the self-driving cars of 1976.

That it all happens to crowds of similarly choreographed cars threading through cloverleaf interchanges in the middle of a desert, complete with rocky prominences straight [out] of a Roadrunner cartoon, is icing on the cake.


Why I’m White

A recent study details how Europeans evolved to have white skins. Apparently it happened relatively recently in evolutionary terms — e.g., within the last 8000 years or so.

The modern humans who came out of Africa to originally settle Europe about 40,000 years are presumed to have had dark skin, which is advantageous in sunny latitudes. And the new data confirm that about 8500 years ago, early hunter-gatherers in Spain, Luxembourg, and Hungary also had darker skin: They lacked versions of two genes—SLC24A5 and SLC45A2—that lead to depigmentation and, therefore, pale skin in Europeans today.

But in the far north—where low light levels would favor pale skin—the team found a different picture in hunter-gatherers: Seven people from the 7700-year-old Motala archaeological site in southern Sweden had both light skin gene variants, SLC24A5 and SLC45A2. They also had a third gene, HERC2/OCA2, which causes blue eyes and may also contribute to light skin and blond hair. Thus ancient hunter-gatherers of the far north were already pale and blue-eyed, but those of central and southern Europe had darker skin.

Then, the first farmers from the Near East arrived in Europe; they carried both genes for light skin. As they interbred with the indigenous hunter-gatherers, one of their light-skin genes swept through Europe, so that central and southern Europeans also began to have lighter skin. The other gene variant, SLC45A2, was at low levels until about 5800 years ago when it swept up to high frequency.

Europeans being relatively tall happened about the same time.

The team also tracked complex traits, such as height, which are the result of the interaction of many genes. They found that selection strongly favored several gene variants for tallness in northern and central Europeans, starting 8000 years ago, with a boost coming from the Yamnaya migration, starting 4800 years ago. The Yamnaya have the greatest genetic potential for being tall of any of the populations, which is consistent with measurements of their ancient skeletons. In contrast, selection favored shorter people in Italy and Spain starting 8000 years ago, according to the paper now posted on the bioRxiv preprint server. Spaniards, in particular, shrank in stature 6000 years ago, perhaps as a result of adapting to colder temperatures and a poor diet.

Even for a non-science guy like me, this is interesting stuff.


Briefly Noted

US-Saudi Relations Are Getting Pretty Bad: The new king skips Obama’s ‘summit’.

First Football Game?: I had always heard Princeton-Rutgers played the first ‘American football’ game, but this argues that it was Harvard-McGill.

Russ Feingold Running for Senate in WI: He’ll be a very strong candidate for the Dems.

Loretta Sanchez Also Running, in CA: She’ll be an underdog against Harris, though.

by @ 7:00 am. Filed under Uncategorized

February 28, 2015

Weekend Miscellany

It’s been a very miscellaneous week. Lots of stuff to cover. Probably I missed some, so add yours in the comments.


Why Is China Building New Islands?

We had a discussion here a few weeks ago about China’s actions in the South China (aka West Philippine) Sea, and the possibility of a Japanese naval response. This article discusses China’s building of artificial islands over coral reefs in the sea. That region bears watching.

Since last summer, China has been busy transforming underwater reefs hundreds of miles from its coastline into artificial islands. Dredging vessels have been sucking out sand to create land where none was found before, and China is building new installations on the islands, including possibly airstrips, barracks, and radar sites.

In recent months, Chinese work has accelerated on about half a dozen disputed bits of coral in the South China Sea, according to new surveillance photos published by the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, an arm of the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

The construction activity is just the latest chapter in a long-running conflict over the South China Sea that has pitted China against most of its maritime neighbors and has brought it into conflict with the United States and Japan. China’s push into the area seems designed to bolster Beijing’s  claim to the resource-rich waters — which teem with fish and may hold plentiful reserves of oil and natural gas — and to increase China’s ability to project military force in an area traditionally dominated by the United States and its allies.


Are We Entering the Post-European Era?

The idea that we are in a ‘post-American era’ is a well-worn idea (particularly among the class of commentator that hopes it’s true). This article explores Europe’s many, many problems (my list would include immigration, demographics, economic stagnation, a dysfunctional currency, excess regulation, an out-of-touch bureaucracy, and more) and how they may be signaling Europe’s fade from a major role on the world stage.

In the years after the Cold War, much was written about Europe’s emergence as the third great force in the global political economy, alongside Asia and the United States. Some, such as former French President Francois Mitterand’s eminence grise Jacques Attali, went even further: in his 1991 book Millenium Attali predicted that in the 21st century, “Japan and Europe may supplant the United States as the chief superpowers.”

This notion of a fading America has been embraced among some here as well, by authors such as Jeremy Rifkin who has written extensively about a “European dream” supplanting the American one on a global scale. In 2008, CNN anchor Fareed Zakaria predicted the rise of what he called “the post-American world,” with the U.S. still preeminent but losing ground, particularly to emerging countries in Asia. This view is widely held in American elite circles, including many people in or close to the Obama administration.

Yet something funny happened on the road to a post-American era: it didn’t happen. Even under two of the most incompetent administrations in our country’s long history, we are headed not to a “post-American” world, but more likely a “post-European” one.


Bought a Lenovo Laptop Recently? Sorry to Hear It

It’s hard to believe that a computer company could be stupid enough to sell their laptops pre-loaded with adware, but Lenovo is indeed that stupid. What’s double amazing is that they try to justify it as enhancing the customer experience.

Since at least September, Lenovo has been shipping OEM Windows laptops preloaded with Superfish “adware,” which would rudely inject its own shopping results into your browser when you searched on Google, Amazon, and other websites. This sort of behavior is associated more with spyware than with factory-shipped operating-system installs, and by itself would be a new low for Lenovo. But Superfish is more than just pesky. It’s the most virulent, evil adware you could find.

By installing a single self-signed root certificate (trust me: That’s really bad) across all of Lenovo’s affected machines, Superfish intentionally pokes a gigantic hole into your browser security and allows anyone on your Wi-Fi network to hijack your browser silently and collect your bank credentials, passwords, and anything else you might conceivably type there.

The linked article contains sites you can use to test whether your computer is infected with this garbage. Die, Lenovo, Die!


The Salmon Cannon

An innovative solution to the problem of helping salmon return to their spawning grounds. Said to be suitable for other fish as well.


More Ecuador Fun

As I noted in last weekend’s Miscellany, I got a lot of amusement out of640px-La_Compañía,_Quito_-_5 my stay last year in Quito (beautiful city – if you ever get the chance to visit, do so, and don’t miss the Iglesia de la Compania de Jesus, which is stunning). Picture of the main altar at right.

For ongoing amusement though, little can match the long-running legal battle Ecuador has been waging with Chevron over the oil company’s alleged responsibility for environmental damage in the Amazon.

No one disputes that such damage occurred, and that the people of the region have suffered as a result – the question is how much of the damage is Chevron’s responsibility and whether Chevron did enough to clean it up. There is a very juicy side issue over the corrupt practices of the plaintiff’s legal team – the whole thing is fascinating, and one of these days I may go into it in more depth. What is not amusing is that the issue has dragged on and on, with no end in sight, and no help for the indigenous people of the region.

But, back to the fun, one of Ecuador’s tactics in the fight has been to bring a bunch of celebrities to Ecuador to be photographed dipping their hands in oily water and saying nasty things about Chevron to the accompanying media.

Among those in the celebrity parade have been Mia Farrow, Danny Glover, and Sharon Stone. Except that Stone was a no-show, and she didn’t return the $250k (!) Ecuador paid her, so now Ecuador’s PR firm, which hired her, is suing to get the money back.


Can California’s GOP Be Resurrected?

I don’t agree with all of this guy’s ideas, but the subject is one that needs to be discussed. Most of us would agree that the approach the party takes in Wyoming or Utah will not work in California, but what approach will work? I’m glad I’m not responsible for answering that question.

The problem is of course much complicated by the fact that the party has pretty much no bench.


Briefly Noted

Royal Gossip: Did Charles betray his sons to make himself look good, post-Diana?

Some Endorsements Are Valuable, Others Not So Much: Dan Quayle is backing Bush.

Why is income from college sports not taxed? ” … if the [non-profit/tax-exempt] organization regularly carries on trade or business activities that are unrelated to its exempt purpose, the income from those activities is subject to federal income taxation at the same rates applicable to for-profit corporations.”

Canadian Supreme Court Approves Doctor-Assisted Suicide: The ruling has been delayed for a year to allow Parliament to makes new rules.

RTW Passes in Wisconsin Senate: Walker will sign it quickly, of course, after it passes the House. It will be interesting to see if this sets off a new series of states passing such laws.

by @ 8:00 am. Filed under Uncategorized

February 16, 2015

Nevada Might Actually Matter

Scott Conroy has an interesting article on RCP today, arguing that, with Mitt Romney out, Nevada might be important this cycle.

I read it shortly after looking through the NBC/Marist polls below that show three different leaders in the first three states. Though I am thoroughly skeptical of polls this far in advance of voting, I considered the off-chance that they might be right, and that Mike Huckabee might win Iowa, Jeb Bush New Hampshire, and Lindsey Graham South Carolina. In that unlikely scenario, Nevada might play a huge role as a tie-breaker (or logjam-breaker). Except:

Though it is far too early to put much weight into such surveys, a poll conducted by the group Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions found a wide-open race among likely GOP caucus-goers with Scott Walker (18 percent), Jeb Bush (12 percent) and Rand Paul (9 percent) constituting the top three.

Oh great, four winners in four states!

by @ 12:05 pm. Filed under Jeb Bush, Lindsey Graham, Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney, Scott Walker, Uncategorized

February 14, 2015

Weekend Miscellany

Lots of stuff this week, so let’s get right to it.


Random Violence and Probabilities

Our president tells us that the recent killing of four Jews in Paris was random violence.

Given that the population of the city of Paris is about 2.3 million, and that (according to estimates I have seen) about 310,000 of those are Jewish – what is the statistical probability that four people chosen at random in Paris would all be Jewish?

The probability of choosing one person at random in Paris, and that person being Jewish, is about 13.5%. Going 4-for-4 is 13.5% x 13.5% x 13.5% x 13.5% = 0.03%.

Of course, if the choosing is done in a kosher deli, the odds probably increase. Is Full of Ad-Trackers

Per Advertising Age, the federal and state insurance websites are rife with ad-tracking software.

People visiting, Colorado’s ConnectForHealthCO, California’s CoveredCA or NYStateofHealth lately might get more than information on health insurance plans: they might get ads on Facebook or just about anywhere else they’re traveling online, based on the fact that they visited the health sites.

In the wake of an Associated Press report revealing that the federal government’s site was exposing personal user data, that site along with 16 state healthcare sites still have lots of ad trackers installed from companies including Facebook, Twitter andGoogle’s Doubleclick.

Some of these ad-trackers are on the pages where visitors submit personal information. But don’t worry, it’s for your own good.

“One of the most cost-effective and best ways to reach the uninsured is through digital media and advertising,” stated Kevin Counihan, director and marketplace CEO at CMS. “To do this well, we have contracts with companies that help us to connect interested consumers to and continuously measure and improve site performance and our outreach efforts.” He went on to say the agency is evaluating additional actions to improve consumer privacy.

A first step might be being honest about it. Anybody remember the promises about the ‘most transparent administration ever’?

And what will you get if you visit one of these sites?

Simply expressing interest in health coverage and providing contact information to some state sites including CoverOregon, can result in a barrage of phone calls from health insurance brokers that receive those sales leads through the site.


Capitalist Plot of the Week

The Revolutionary Alliance of Men that Women find Unattractive (I wonder what the membership requirements are?) plans to have demonstrations in Tokyo on Valentine’s Day.

“The blood-soaked conspiracy of Valentine’s Day, driven by the oppressive chocolate capitalists, has arrived once again,” announced Kakuhido on its website.

“In order to create a brighter future, we call for solidarity among our unloved comrades so that we may demonstrate in resolute opposition to Valentine’s Day and the romantic industrial complex”, it added.

At this point in my reading, I figured this had to be a put-on. ‘Blood-soaked conspiracy’? ‘Romantic-Industrial complex’? C’mon.

But apparently they’re serious. The founder, it seems, turned to Marxism when his girlfriend dumped him.

Kakuhido was founded in 2006 by Katsuhiro Furusawa, who started reading the Communist manifesto after being dumped by his girlfriend at Christmas – and swiftly concluded that not being popular with the opposite sex is a class issue.

I like their slogan: “Flirting is Terrorism.” Yes, of course it is.


Hey, Honey, Scratch the Towels off the List – I’d Rather Have a Hi-Def TV

Also in keeping with the day, this highly romantic item: Best Buy has opened a bridal registry.


And More of the Same

A third Valentine’s/marriage item fits with the above two, but this one is really more of a follow-up to last week’s Miscellany items (there were two links) on East Asia’s demographics problems; the discussion, not surprisingly, quickly turned to the US birthrate, which turned to delayed marriage (though some felt that line of argument was missing the point). Perhaps it was, but it was still interesting.

Therefore, Weekend Miscellany, ever seeking to serve our small but loyal band of followers, offers this.


The not-surprisingly high rate of non-marriage among younger women distorts the Y-axis. Eliminating the under-25s makes clearer the remarkable increase among older groups.

The author’s conclusion:

It is interesting that White women in their 40s have so far escaped much of the change.  My guess is this reflects some combination of delayed reaction as the change cascades through the age brackets, and increased willingness to settle.

Either way, women marrying after forty means their fertility window is all but closed by the time they walk down the aisle.  It still counts as a marriage, but from a societal point of view it is something very different than a woman marrying in her 20s or even early 30s.  This is also not what young marriage delaying women are telling us they have in mind.  They are hoping to delay marriage as long as possible while still marrying in time to have children.

Even the 17% of White women who haven’t married by their late thirties have for the most part missed the mark.


Ukraine Ceasefire

The big international news this week has been the ceasefire agreement in the Ukraine. From a Foreign Policy newsletter:

The leaders of Russia, Ukraine, Germany, and France reached an agreement aimed at ending the fighting in Ukraine, following talks in Belarus. The deal, which was also signed by pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine, will go into force next week.

There are a number of issues that remain to be settled, but many of the specifics are in place. A ceasefire is set to begin on February 15. Two days later, the forces will begin withdrawing heavy weapons. All prisoners will be released and there will be judicial amnesty for those involved in fighting. Ukraine also agreed to pursue constitutional reform that would enable decentralization for rebel regions by the end of the year. The deal is very similar to the ceasefire agreement from September, which unraveled soon after it was signed.

We’ll see.


Follow-up on Erdogan’s Delusions

We mentioned several Miscellanies ago that the President of Turkey apparently believes that the New World was discovered by Turks long before Columbus. He’s now acting on that idea.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has proposed to Cuba the construction of a mosque on the Caribbean island during a visit to Havana, pushing ahead with a plan apparently inspired by his belief that Muslims discovered the Americas.


Best Political Scandals: Oregon?

Usually, Americans can depend on Illinois and Washington, DC for most of their political amusement. Louisiana, dating back to Huey Long, has often come through for us as well, but with Edwin Edwards finally departed from the scene, things there may be a bit quieter. Recently, we have had to look northward and import our chuckles from Toronto.

One hardly expects Oregon to fill in the gap until Illinois (inevitably) comes through for us again, but they’ve actually come up with something quite good.

Gov. John Kitzhaber decided to resign Tuesday but then changed his mind, insisting Wednesday afternoon that he’s staying, The Oregonian/OregonLive has learned.

Well done, Beaver State!

Update: This was written before Kitzhaber reversed his reversal, and resigned on Friday, but that only adds to the fun.


Quickly Noted

Will the Japanese Navy Patrol the South China Sea? China doesn’t like the idea.

First Iowa Campaign HQ Opens. Scott Walker is first, though of course it’s not officially a campaign office.

I Guess the Science Isn’t Quite So Settled. FDA considering new findings that high-cholestorol foods may not be all that bad.

The Wages of Historical Illiteracy. Young people don’t remember measles, mumps, or polio, therefore they fall for anti-vax inanities.

The Biggest Government Credit Shortfall Ever. Student debt repayments fell short by $22bil last year, and that may be just the start.

by @ 8:00 am. Filed under Uncategorized

February 2, 2015

Judis Article on ‘Emerging Republican Majority’

There has already been discussion on this item while I was preparing to post this. Oh well, it’s worth more consideration.

Judis begins by discussing the outlook many Democratic observers held in 2008:

At the time, some commentators, including me, hailed the onset of an enduring Democratic majority. And the arguments in defense of this view did seem to be backed by persuasive evidence. Obama and the Democrats appeared to have captured the youngest generation of voters, whereas Republicans were relying disproportionately on an aging coalition. The electorate’s growing ethnic diversity also seemed likely to help the Democrats going forward.

These advantages remain partially in place for Democrats today, but they are being severely undermined by two trends that have emerged in the past few elections—one surprising, the other less so. The less surprising trend is that Democrats have continued to hemorrhage support among white working-class voters—a group that generally works in blue-collar and lower-income service jobs and that is roughly identifiable in exit polls as those whites who have not graduated from a four-year college. These voters, and particularly those well above the poverty line, began to shift toward the GOP decades ago, but in recent years that shift has become progressively more pronounced.

The more surprising trend is that Republicans are gaining dramatically among a group that had tilted toward Democrats in 2006 and 2008: Call them middle-class Americans. These are voters who generally work in what economist Stephen Rose has called “the office economy.” In exit polling, they can roughly be identified as those who have college—but not postgraduate—degrees and those whose household incomes are between $50,000 and $100,000.

Judis makes the point that the group he labels ‘middle class’ is more socially liberal than the ‘working class’ group, but he argues that they will ignore a Republican candidate’s social conservatism as long as the candidate is not loud and aggressive about it.

Yet while middle-class voters are generally socially liberal, they oppose candidates on this basis only when those candidates take extreme positions. And so, when Republican politicians have soft-pedaled their views on abortion or guns or immigration, middle-class voters have largely ignored these issues in deciding whom to back—reverting to their natural tendency to focus on topics like taxes, spending, and the size of government. In 2014, Democrats in Arkansas, Colorado, Maryland, Ohio, and Virginia learned this the hard way when they centered their campaigns on their opponents’ opposition to abortion rights or gun control—and lost.

The other way in which the groups differ is in their degree of populism.

Middle-class voters also tend to be less populist than white working-class voters when it comes to blaming Wall Street and the wealthy for the economy’s ills. As a Washington Post poll showed last October, middle-class voters are less likely than white working-class voters or professionals to agree that America’s system “favors the wealthy.” Many of them work for businesses where their own success is bound up with the company’s bottom line. That makes them less susceptible than white working-class voters or professionals to Democratic taunts about the “1 percent.”

How middle-class voters react to this sort of populism was on display in 2012. Obama did manage to make inroads into the white working class in the North by running ads deriding Romney’s sharp financial practices and his opposition to the auto bailout: In Ohio, Obama lost white working-class voters by only 46 percent to 44 percent in 2012 after losing them by 54 percent to 44 percent in 2008. But what helped with working-class voters hurt with the middle class. In Ohio, he lost college-but-not-postgrad voters by 54 percent to 44 percent after having won them by 51 percent to 48 percent four years earlier.

Maybe such a trade-off would be worth it if left-wing populism could consistently win over white working-class voters en masse. The truth, though, is that Mitt Romney was a perfect target for these populist attacks in Ohio, and Democrats cannot expect to have such a useful foil in most elections. On the whole, the white working class and the middle class—animated by their distrust of government spending and taxes—have moved toward the Republicans in recent years, in the absence of some other issue (such as war or economic catastrophe or social extremism) temporarily taking precedence. And the two groups have done so largely in tandem.

Judis concludes that:

The Democrats’ best chances in next year’s elections will come if Republicans run candidates identified with the Religious Right or the tea party or the GOP’s plutocratic wing. If Republicans are smart, they will nominate for president someone in the mold of George W. Bush in 2000 or the numerous GOP Senate candidates who won last year—a politician who runs from the center-right, soft-pedals social issues, including immigration, critiques government without calling for abolishing the income tax and Social Security, and displays a good ol’ boy empathy for the less well-to-do. Such a candidate would cater to the Republican advantage among the middle class without alienating the white working class.

One can take any or all of this salted to taste: on the one hand, Judis was wrong (and, to his credit, admits it) about the ’emerging Democratic majority’, so it’s reasonable to think that he’s equally wrong now. On the other hand, for a lefty like Judis, this article is vary much an ‘admission against interest’ and will no doubt get him blasted among his friends/colleagues, and therefore should be granted extra weight.

Rather than weigh things in terms of the messenger, it’s generally more productive to look at the message, and I find the facts Judis marshals on behalf of his message rather convincing (the linked article contains a lot of data supporting the passages excerpted here – I strongly suggest you read the whole thing).

The last quoted paragraph (about the type of candidate the Republicans ought to nominate) will certainly raise some hackles, especially among socons and establishment types, and I’m still thinking over how much I agree with it. Certainly it will be easy to say, “Why should we let someone like Judis tell us what kind of candidate to run?”

by @ 7:22 pm. Filed under Uncategorized

January 31, 2015

Weekend Miscellany

I hope the Romney supporters are feeling a little better today. You may not believe it, but I sympathize, having been there myself. It gets a little easier to deal with over time.

To help in the recovery, a bit of Miscellany. Everyone is free to add your own in the comments.


Presidential IQ Estimates

There have been a few disputes in comment sections of various posts about the importance of intelligence to a president’s success. Here is a listing of estimates of a number of historical figures’ IQs, including those of several presidents. The highest IQ among recent presidents (and the overall highest other than Thomas Jefferson) is Jimmy Carter at 156. George Washington scores a relatively modest 118.


Could Kurdistan Finally Be a Reality?

Kurdish troops apparently have driven ISIS out of Khobane

I wonder if one of the effects of the Syrian civil war will be the establishment of a semi-autonomous Kurdish statelet, consisting of the Kurdish-controlled areas of Syria uniting with the neighboring Kurdish areas of Iraq. That is, of course, why Turkey (which has a huge area of Kurdistan) was unwilling to help against ISIS.

It would be just if even a smaller Kurdistan were to be finally established, almost a century after the Kurds got screwed over in the wake of WWI. Whether it would be one Mideast question settled, or just a further jumbling of that puzzle is tough to know.

I don’t know how much of a factor US support was in Khobane, but I expect President Obama to take full credit. Though perhaps he’ll be a bit more circumspect about victory laps in the wake of Yemen’s collapse.


Nostalgia for the Sixties, the Age of Bomb Shelters
Here we have a tour of a 1964 ‘underground home’. Those were the good ol’ days. I remember my father drawing up plans for a (far less-elaborate) bomb shelter under our house.


Ban Oxygen Now!

This is a fun piece deploring our evolutionary choice to breathe oxygen, The article notes that:

… oxygen rips electrons from bodily sources, mucking with cellular processes and even causing mutations in DNA, which can give rise to cancer.

I’m starting a Ban Oxygen movement immediately. I’m sure I can get Jenny McCarthy’s support and have speaking gigs on Oprah and Dr. Phil.

Who’s in with me?

More seriously on a related topic, AP reports that some pediatricians are refusing to see child patients whose parents refuse to have them vaccinated. I tend to agree with them, since they have a responsibility to all their patients.


McCain Update
According to The Hill, two Republican representatives, David Schweikert and Matt Salmon, are considering challenging John McCain in the 2016 primary. The two are friends, and seem to be consulting together, with the near-certainty that only one will run.

“If Matt came to me and said he wants to pull the trigger, it would mean we would probably offer to chair his committee,” Schweikert told The Hill in an interview.

McCain, meanwhile, seems to be trying to purge his enemies from positions of power in the state party.


Quickly Noted
What’s going on at the old Alma Mater: Arizona State is offering a course called Race Theory & the Problem of Whiteness. Strangely, it’s in the English department; it could possibly be appropriate as a Sociology course.
Jonathan Chait wakes up: A very good piece on his belated awareness that PC witchhunting is not very, er, liberal. Too bad he never noticed when it was conservatives being attacked, but still …
Kind words and tough words about Sarah Palin: Kathleen Parker bemoans the way Palin was used and abandoned by the party elite, but also chastises Palin for doing nothing to broaden or deepen her knowledge of issues (compared to Rick Perry, about whom we’ll see).
The Democrats’ weak bench: Jay Cost has an item about Hillary Clinton’s apparent decision to put off her announcement of candidacy until July, and how it shows how weak the Democrats’ bench is – Clinton can do this because she has nobody to fear.


Weekend Miscellany Sports Desk

Since we’ve already had two Arizona items, we might as well conclude with a third. Tiger Woods had his worst round ever yesterday in the Phoenix Open. This is a pretty ho-hum matter to me, since I care not at all about golf, but I loved the picture of him looking for his ball in a cactus.

Now that’s a bad day!

KNXV Tiger Woods Scottsdale cactus_1422648260505_12885591_ver1.0_640_480

by @ 9:00 am. Filed under Misc., Uncategorized

January 29, 2015

Poll Watch: Fox Has Mitt On Top

Fox News released their latest poll.

The horse race (394 Republicans):

  • Mitt Romney 21%
  • Mike Huckabee 11%
  • Rand Paul 11%
  • Jeb Bush 10%
  • Ben Carson 9%
  • Scott Walker 8%
  • Marco Rubio 5%
  • Chris Christie 4%
  • Ted Cruz 4%
  • Rick Perry 4%
  • Bobby Jindal 2%
  • John Kasich 1%
  • Rick Santorum 1%
  • Lindsey Graham 1%
  • Don’t Know 5%
  • None 4%
  • Other 1%

The poll was conducted by telephone with live interviewers January 25-27, 2015 among a random national sample of 1,009 registered voters (RV). Results based on the full sample have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points.

Head to head versus (Hillary)

  • Romney 46 / (46)
  • Paul 44 / (47)
  • Bush 43 / ( 48)
  • Christie 42 / (48)


January 23, 2015

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Thanks. Back to your normal commenting.


On Matthew Kilburn’s suggestion,  here is a reminder. You cannot post more than one link in a comment. If you do, the SPAM filter will catch it and place it in a Moderator queue where it will sit until a moderator happens to log in and notice the pending comment. So if you have several links you wish to make, you need to spread them out over several comments with no more than one link in any given comment.

by @ 6:26 pm. Filed under Uncategorized

December 21, 2014

End-of-the-Weekend Miscellany

Sorry about being late. This was written before the weekend, so it would be ready for posting Saturday morning, but … well, stuff happens.

As usual, post your own miscellany in the comments.


The 1% in 1955

This is a fascinating glimpse of CEOs’ (and other top execs’) lives in 1955, from the July 1955 issue of Fortune. Contrasts are, of course, drawn with the relatively recent past, with frequent mention of the difficulties of running homes with only a limited staff of servants. In the post-WW2 era, the tax rates were much higher than today on high incomes (this group is $50k and up), and there is grousing about that, with which we can no doubt identify.


A Bit of Caution Is in Order in Relying on Forecasts

… Morgan Stanley cut its 2015 forecast, predicting that prices could average as low as $53 per barrel in 2015 (down from an earlier estimate of $98).

That’s a big miss, even by economist’s standards – assuming of course that we believe the new forecast.


Advertising Trending from TV to Digital, but There Are Problems

Political advertising is increasingly moving away from TV to digital, in line with all other products and services. There are some interesting problems associated with digital advertising though, since much of the audience is phantom.

Nearly one-fourth (23%) of all video ads are served to bots, while 11% of display ads are bot-infected. Per the [Association of National Advertisers] study, bots accounted for 17% of all programmatic ad traffic and 19% of retargeted ads.

My guess is that the really big spenders (Procter & Gamble, etc) are going to force a clean-up reasonably soon, but this could still be a big issue for political advertising in 2016.


Governments Wouldn’t Cheat and Lie, Would They?

A bit of EU crony capitalism, in this case at the expense of their loudly-proclaimed green goals. The Economist tells us how the EU allows their auto manufacturers to fool consumers by gaming the fuel efficiency emissions tests (via The American Interest):

Europe’s procedure is out of date and open to abuse. Carmakers send prototypes for testing. They are engineered to be as frugal as possible. Weighty extras such as the sound system and even wing mirrors are routinely jettisoned. Special lubricants make the engines run more smoothly. Tape on the cracks around panels and doors reduces drag. Low-resistance tyres filled with special gas add to the miles covered.

The cars are driven to a preset routine of gentle accelerations and low speeds, run at the highest permitted temperature of 29ºC (engines are more efficient in the heat). Modern electronics can even detect the pattern of the start of the test and switch into a special “economy mode” that makes for even lower emissions.


Yet More Reason to Cheer Low Oil Prices

I posted an item a couple weekends ago speculating that Vladimir Putin might take desperate actions if oil prices dropped too low, which could destabilize his regime. Here’s CNN Money reporting that Wall Streeters are beginning to anticipate defaults by Russia and Venezuela.

I’d say Venezuela is pretty much a sure thing, Russia less so, but there’s a limit to how long Putin’s regime can endure current oil prices.


Babies! We Need More Babies

With the US birthrate dropping below replacement levels, some people are calling for government action to increase the number of people choosing to have children.

This is not a problem unique to the US, of course, and in fact the US birthrate generally has been higher than that in most of the industrialized world. Therefore, we have numerous case studies of ways other countries have encouraged their citizens to propagate a bit more. This article looks at some of the more creative efforts. My favorite is “Do It for Denmark” (possibly NSFW), though that one really doesn’t belong on the list, since it isn’t a government ad campaign.

One of these days soon, I’m going to post something more serious on this subject, since I can see it as a good populist/socon issue that libertarians could support, or at least be neutral about, as long as the means were not coercive – therefore a uniting issue for the right that the Elites (academics, greens, media, etc) will reflexively oppose.

It would also be a wedge issue, pitting segments of the leftist coalition against each other – the Elites would strongly oppose any effort to raise birth rates, minorities would be in strong support.

A few questions: Is incentivizing more kids a political winner? Is it a good idea? Is it populist? Will it work?

by @ 7:13 pm. Filed under Uncategorized

December 19, 2014

Discussion Questions Re Sony Hack

Here are some points about the hacking that I’ve been thinking about. It’s too soon to have fully settled opinions on some of them, but let’s discuss.

1. Did North Korea do it?

That’s the consensus, which I’ll go along with for now, but there are contrary opinions. Do they have this level of sophistication? Did they have help?

2. What are the financial costs?

The Interview cost $44mil to make, I have read. That’s gone. Sony is likely to be sued over some of the revealed emails. I’m sure there are many other costs to come, some of them tough to quantify, e.g., damaged relationships with key resources.

3. What are the cyber-security ramifications for US businesses?

Whatever Sony’s total costs, it’s more than any business wants to face. And, assuming the answer to Q1 is that it’s the NorKs – if they can do it, can anybody? If so, how can businesses protect themselves? To date, the major security breaches have involved stolen credit card data, but what happens when, for example, a drug company’s research data gets published?

4. What are the cyber-security ramifications for governments?

Newt Gingrich’s comment that the US just lost its first cyberwar may be a bit of an overstatement, but it’s close enough to be unsettling. How prepared are we, and how do we know whether we are prepared? The cyber-ineptitude of the US government (even has long been a source of amusement among computer people.

5. What are the free speech/press ramifications of Sony’s surrender?

In some ways the most important question to me. George Clooney:

What happens if a newsroom decides to go with a story, and a country or an individual or corporation decides they don’t like it? Forget the hacking part of it. You have someone threaten to blow up buildings, and all of a sudden everybody has to bow down. Sony didn’t pull the movie because they were scared; they pulled the movie because all the theaters said they were not going to run it. And they said they were not going to run it because they talked to their lawyers and those lawyers said if somebody dies in one of these, then you’re going to be responsible.

I can’t resist noting that businesses and governments have been bowing down to Islam for a while, without any complaint that I know of from Clooney, but that doesn’t invalidate his point. Could a rogue government bring down, let’s say CBS or NYT by, let’s say, threatening to target their advertisers? Looking at businesses more broadly (back to Question 3), could someone destroy Apple by threatening retailers who sell Apple products?

6. What did we learn about Hollywood?

The schadenfreude question. Conservatives wouldn’t be human if, however serious the other aspects of this, we didn’t get a laugh at the exposure of the entertainment industry’s outrageous hypocrisy.

I’m sure there are lots of other questions, please ask and/or answer your own in the comments. This is a semi-open thread, anything related to the hacking is on-topic.

by @ 4:49 pm. Filed under Uncategorized

December 13, 2014

Weekend Miscellany

Add your own miscellany in the comments.


Will Dems Regret Abandoning Mary Landrieu?

This article asks whether the Democrats will pay a price for their very public abandonment of Mary Landrieu.

The decision to cut her adrift makes good business sense in the short term; the Democrats, as is normal for a party after an election, are in debt – the DSCC owes $20.4mil and could ill-afford dumping another $2-$3mil into what was clearly a lost cause.

On the other hand, potential candidates had to be watching, and they are unlikely to trust any future promises of support they hear from the Democrats. David Vitter’s seat may be vacant soon, for example (Vitter is planning to seek Bobby Jindal’s job next year, and is the early favorite). If the Democrats try to woo anybody of substance, they are likely to be spurned.


Kidnapping, UK-Style

In April 1964, the British Prime Minister, Alec Douglas-Home, was staying with friends in Scotland. A couple lefties from the University of Aberdeen followed him home, where he was alone. They knocked on the door, the PM answered, and they announced that they intended to kidnap him.

Douglas-Home pointed out to them that if he were kidnapped, the Tories would win the next election by hundreds of seats, foiling their intentions. He then offered them beers, and they abandoned their efforts.

Douglas-Home’s aplomb is of course astounding, but I’m also interested to see how casual security was – not even a cop to answer the door. I bet things tightened up in the later sixties.


Establishment to Primary Huelskamp?

It looks like the Republican Establishment is only opposed to trying to unseat Republican incumbents when those incumbents are part of the Establishment, but they think it’s a fine idea as applied to those who don’t take orders from Mr. Boehner.

Okay, I’m being sarcastic. Actually, I have no problem with primaries in safe districts (Huelskamp, despite being primaried this year, still won the general by thirty-five points, so I think we can call it a safe district). Anyway, it looks like they plan to try again.

Of course, they might want to stop and reflect on the panic that ensued when Pat Roberts fell behind ‘independent’ Greg Orman in what had been thought a safe race.


Speaking of Greg Orman

I don’t think too many people who follow politics were fooled by Orman’s claims of independence – but we have to remember that not that many people follow things all that closely. Openly Democratic money (e.g., Harry Reid’s PAC) stayed out of the race until after the last pre-election FEC report. In the last weeks of the campaign, Orman had lots of money to spend.

… Oct. 16 — at the very moment the pre-election disclosure blackout began — the first of Reid’s Senate Majority PAC checks arrived at the pro-Orman Committee to Elect an Independent Senate.

That check was for $450,000. The next day, Oct. 17, another $250,000 arrived. There was $500,000 on Oct. 28. And $35,000 on Oct. 30. And $75,000 on Oct. 31.

Kansans Support Problem Solvers PAC received $123,000 from Reid’s group on Nov. 3. On that same day came another check for $23,000. Then, on Nov. 4, election day, another $5,300.

Other liberal groups sent money, too, after the blackout began. On October 25, the League of Conservation Voters sent $250,000 to the Committee to Elect an Independent Senate. On October 29, the League sent another $200,000.


A Couple More Thoughts on ‘Independent’ Candidates

It darned near worked in Kansas, and had this not been a wave election, it might have worked. So expect to see it tried again. As I mentioned above, not that many people really pay attention to politics, and the label ‘Independent’ sounds good (I think that will become even more true over the next few years).

I’d suggest Republicans do the same thing in safely Dem districts/states, but I’m not sure it would work as well. I think it’s likely to work better in areas with lower media costs – Democratic seats are more likely to be in urban districts and highly-urbanized states. It would take a lot of money to run an ‘Independent’ in New York.


Grimes for Gov?

Some thoughts from a Kentucky political writer on the possibility that Allison Grimes might try to parlay her name ID into a run for Governor next year.

She has given no indication about what her future political plans might be, and people close to her and her family don’t seem to have any clear idea of what she might do.

Meanwhile, Democrats loyal to Grimes have consoled themselves by noting her youth, her name identification and her immense fundraising success.

While the first two are undeniable assets, the idea that Grimes could translate her 2014 fundraising success into a formidable gubernatorial campaign seems questionable.

Much of Grimes’ fundraising success was fueled by one fact: She was running against the most hated Republican in the country.

Fundraisers in Hollywood and Martha’s Vineyard are the norm when you’re taking on a top national target. It’s hard to imagine that those same high-dollar donors have any interest in helping Grimes take on another Democrat for governor of Kentucky, especially when their last investment yielded so little.


P. J. O’Rourke Reviews a Book on Putin’s Russia

I knew Russia was a case study in corruption, but this review just blew me away.

Just a sample:

Corrupt crony capitalism is familiar everywhere. But in Russia the corruption is so pervasive that even the cronies have to pay bribes, not just to the higher-ups but to the lower-downs.

Pomerantsev visits a TV studio owned by Kremlin-connected moguls. It’s in a shabby warehouse on the wrong side of town. There’s no sign or address on the metal door. Inside is a dirty little room with a drunk guard.

Pomerantsev goes down a dark corridor and up two flights of dingy stairs to another unmarked metal door. Behind that is a modern, well-lit, busy Western-style production facility. But there’s an inconspicuous door here as well, with a secret code pad. And behind that is a more modern, better-lit, even busier production facility with an even less conspicuous door with an even more secret code leading to the real offices of the moguls, where the real business accounts are kept.

All this is to foil the tax police. Who come anyway. One of the moguls tells Pomerantsev that “the tax police were much happier taking bribes than going to the trouble of stealing money that had been paid in the orthodox fashion.”

Or this:

It’s an interesting moral atmosphere in Russia.

In Russia, small town girls go to the big city and get ruined, but that’s what they’re trying to do. Really trying. They go to school for it.

“The students take notes in neat writing. They have paid a thousand dollars for each week of the course. There are dozens of such “academies” in Moscow and St. Petersburg, with names such as “Geisha School” or “How To Be a Real Woman.””

If a girl with potential studies hard, “she earns the basic Moscow mistress rate: the apartment, $4,000 a month, a car, and a weeklong holiday in Turkey or Egypt twice a year.”

In return, she’s available to her “sponsor,” as he’s called, any time, any day.


by @ 11:07 am. Filed under Uncategorized

December 10, 2014

Re: “Clearing the Field”

An ongoing theme of my postings here will be that the current (and, I think, ongoing, until they figure it out) problems of the Democratic Party are based in the party’s arrogant, elitist attitude, which is based on a contempt for the American middle-class, which they are finding it increasingly difficult to hide. Expect to see more on this subject (probably to the point that you’ll get thoroughly tired of it).

But it’s worth noting, before we start casting stones from our glass house, that the Republicans also have an arrogant elite. We are reminded of this often, but most recently a few days ago when we were told that our party’s ruling class had decided to clear the field early so their designated nominee – Romney, Bush, or Christie — could coast to victory uncontested.

Really? You guys honestly think you’re going to get away with that?

They do, of course, but that’s what arrogance can do to you. I was pleased to see them being called on it in this item in National Journal (and elsewhere, no doubt):

This week’s New York Times report that leading Republican fundraisers want to settle the Republican nomination fight early, and are hoping to clear the field for Jeb Bush, Mitt Romney, or Chris Christie, is a case study in how often wealthy, influential donors misread politics. Betting on a two-time losing presidential candidate, another Bush who hasn’t run a campaign in 12 years, and an intemperate governor with declining popularity in his home state as the strongest nominees for the party would be comical if it weren’t true.

But this episode underscores one of the bigger challenges facing the Republican Party for 2016—the fact that top GOP donors are often at odds with many of their own voters. They often conflate brand-name identification with general-election strength, which helps explain the recent Mitt Romney boomlet. They’ll mistakenly assume that a candidate’s fundraising prowess automatically translates into political viability, which is why a Wall Street-connected Christie is on their short list. And their interest in issues like immigration, trade, and tax reform aligns with Bush, even though they’re of secondary importance for the working-class voters that make up the majority of the party’s base.

The article is totally right, in my opinion, up to this point. But Josh Kraushaar (the writer) undersells his argument in the next paragraph, when he says that this approach is offensive to the group Pew calls ‘socially conservative populists’. It’s offensive to me as well, and I’m much closer to being a libertarian (I prefer to label myself a Goldwater Republican) than either a social conservative or a populist.

(As an aside: I think there are grounds for an alliance between libertarians and some populists, based on shared opposition to the corporatism – aka crony capitalism – that is the reigning ideology of the elites of both parties).

Kraushaar goes on to say that he considers this approach counter-productive, since it might assure the nomination of a relatively weak candidate (e.g., one of the three potential anointees) before the elite have had a chance to look over the rest of the field. I agree that it’s counter-productive, but I also think it’s likely to fail.

Perhaps I’m making the mistake, common among those of us who follow politics and easy to spot when others do it, of thinking that my own views are more widely held than in fact they are. But I believe that there are a lot of people – libertarians, populists, social conservatives, and others – who are fed up with being treated with contempt by the ruling class.

Kraushaar sees this wave as well, and says it would be a mistake for the Republican elite to miss it by nominating one of their own. I’ll go a step further and say that enough of the fed-up may be voting in the Republican primaries and caucuses that the anointed one may not become the nominee.

by @ 4:12 pm. Filed under Uncategorized

December 9, 2014

What Has Gone Wrong with Rasmussen?

I was originally going to call this post “The White House Should Give Daily Thanks for the Existence of Rasmussen”, but I am not at all certain that President Obama cares about much of anything any more – least of all what the peasantry think of him.

But if he did care about such trivialities, he would be grateful to Rasmussen Reports, since it’s the one polling firm that consistently gives him relatively high marks, and that prevents his RCP approval average from sinking closer to 40%.

Here’s a screen shot of today’s RCP approvals:

Ras Sucks

Rasmussen has the President at -1, while the average of the other six polls is -11.7. Quite a difference.

The other six results are fairly closely bunched, within seven points of each other (varying from -8 to -15). Rasmussen, meanwhile, is seven points away from even the closest result.

In actuality, Rasmussen is even farther off than it appears, Because Rasmussen uses Likely Voters,while most of the others use Adults. Using LVs should mean that the result should be slightly (at least a couple points) more negative for a Democrat.

I think everyone has noted Rasmussen’s strange results lately. Does anyone know what is going on?

by @ 8:21 pm. Filed under Uncategorized

December 6, 2014

Weekend Miscellany

Sorry I’m a bit late today. As usual, please add your own topics in the comments, if you want.


Corporate Types Shocked That Obama Double-Crossed Them

Many corporations, large and small, have instituted ‘wellness’ programs in recent years – encouragement and incentives to stop smoking, exercise more, lose weight, etc. – as a way to create a healthier workforce and reduce healthcare costs.

CEOs of many such corporations vocally supported Obamacare, in part because they were promised support for their wellness initiatives.

Surprise! The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has filed suits against three large employers on the grounds that wellness programs violate the Americans with Disabilities Act.

A bipartisan provision in the 2010 healthcare reform law allows employers to reward workers who participate and penalize those who don’t.

But recent lawsuits filed by the administration’s Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), challenging the programs at Honeywell International and two smaller companies, have thrown the future of that part of Obamacare into doubt.

The lawsuits infuriated some large employers so much that they are considering aligning themselves with Obama’s opponents, according to people familiar with the executives’ thinking.

“The fact that the EEOC sued is shocking to our members,” said Maria Ghazal, vice-president and counsel at the Business Roundtable, a group of chief executives of more than 200 large U.S. corporations. “They don’t understand why a plan in compliance with the ACA (Affordable Care Act) is the target of a lawsuit,” she said. “This is a major issue to our members.”

The CEOs are just the latest to learn that all Obama promises come with expiration dates.


The Recall Campaign Starts before the Recallee Takes Office

An Arizona group has filed with the Secretary of State’s office as a PAC, with the intent of organizing a recall campaign against the state’s Superintendent of Public Instruction.

There’s nothing particularly unusual about this, except that the target of the recall, Diane Douglas, doesn’t take office until the first of the year.

According to Capitol Media Services, the Coalition to Recall Diane Douglas has filed with the Arizona Secretary of State’s office. Maxwell Goshert, the group’s treasurer, said he predicts this initial step will ultimately lead to Douglas’ ouster within a year.

Nevertheless, Douglas must be in office for six months prior to recall signature collection. The state’s constitution also requires the coalition to collect the signatures of 25 percent of the people who voted in the most recent gubernatorial election to permit a recall vote, or, approximately 367,000 signatures.

The report indicates, however, that recall organizers will actually need 450,000 signatures, considering that some will be disqualified during the verification process. The coalition will likely need to hire paid circulators to obtain the necessary signatures during a 120-day window.

“She has six months to prove herself to voters,” said Goshert. “But we believe we’re not going to be impressed by what she does in the next six months in office.”

Douglas’s sin is being an opponent of Common Core, which led to opposition from much of the state’s Establishment. She won the November election narrowly (her margin was just over 1%), running a few points behind the rest of the Republican ticket.


Amazon Robots

Here’s a story about Amazon using robots to gather merchandise in their warehouses. Though the story says that Amazon has not laid off any workers due to their use of robots, that’s clearly specious. Amazon is a fast-growing company – what has happened is that they have not hired as many new employees as they would have otherwise.

… Amazon said it hasn’t eliminated any jobs with the introduction of Kiva. In fact, the company says it’s hired more people in that time. Amazon wouldn’t say how many jobs it’s added after incorporating Kiva, but overall it’s hired 61,110 employees since 2011, the year before it bought Kiva. That’s roughly doubling its employee base over the past two years …

There’s nothing remarkable about this story – many companies are filling unskilled and semi-skilled positions with robots, and other companies (including fast food) are doing tests. But the fact that it’s commonplace is the point of this post.

It’s really shameful that ‘living wage’ advocates are cynically exploiting such people – urging them to strike and demonstrate, when such efforts amount to shouting, “Hey, fire me now instead of two years from now when you were planning to bring the robots in.”


Pataki for Prez?

George Pataki has announced that he’s thinking about running in 2016. The amazing thing is that the New York Daily News bothered to report it.


Historical Pictures

Here are a great batch of old pictures (via a Sean Trende Facebook post). I like almost all of them, but think the choice for my favorite comes down to these two – a grave/monument to a Catholic-Protestant couple in a Dutch cemetery, and another of  a guy refusing to give the Nazi salute in 1930s Germany (he was married to a Jewish woman).


nazi salute


Further Vindication for Walker

Only about half of Wisconsin teachers’ unions have been recertified by their members since Scott Walker’s reforms.


Pakistan Sentence Actress to Jail – Using Religious Music Is Offensive

Dependent upon your tough your employer is on such things, the pic of Veena Malik accompanying this article on the Reason site may be NSFW, but the video of Malik’s wedding is totally innocuous.

Nonetheless, it was enough to get Malik, her husband, and two others sentenced to twenty-six years in jail each for offending Islamic sensibilities. Why? Because it includes religious music, and using that music for a TV show is offensive.

Some things you just can’t make up.


Another One Is Getting Ready to Bite the Dust

Another liberal magazine looks like it’s going into a death spiral. Newsweek died (or 99% died – I think it’s still kinda hanging around) a couple years ago. Now, The New Republic appears to be falling apart.

On Thursday, the venerable Washington institution announced it is shifting its headquarters to New York, amid a shakeup that saw the resignation of its highest editors and promised to redefine the identity of a century-old institution that once served as liberalism’s leading voice.

Franklin Foer, the top editor, sent a memo to staff in the afternoon announcing that he would be quitting due to differences of vision with the magazine’s owner, Chris Hughes, a 31-year-old Facebook co-founder who bought the magazine in 2012 and now aspires to reposition it as a “digital media company.” The move came, sources said, after Foer discovered that Hughes had already hired his replacement, Gabriel Snyder, a Bloomberg Media editor who formerly ran The Atlantic Wire blog.

Further down, we learn that twelve senior editors and ‘at least 20′ contributing editors have resigned.

The once-weekly magazine is cutting its publication frequency to less than monthly, planning ten issues per year.

Being a fan of good euphemisms and linguistic misdirection, I applaud this effort to avoid saying, “We’re gonna be laying people off.”

“Given the frequency reduction, we will also be making some changes to staff structure,” Vidra wrote. “This is not a decision we make lightly, but we believe this restructuring is critical to the long-term success of the company.”

Those who haven’t already quit will no doubt be sending out lots of resumes.

Unlike the case with Newsweek, I mourn the possible demise of TNR — it was once a very good magazine, and still can be counted upon to at least occasionally question liberal orthodoxy.

by @ 7:22 pm. Filed under Misc., Uncategorized

December 3, 2014

Midweek Miscellany

The Miscellany File on my computer is filling up so fast I need to have an extra edition this week to free up space on my hard drive.  This is a Special All-Question Edition, since I noticed when I was done that I had phrased almost all the headers as questions.
As usual, feel free to add your own miscellany in the comments.


Would It Shock You If a Government Used Tax Laws to Punish Opponents?
If the people on this list are indeed breaking Argentinian laws by hiding funds overseas to avoid taxes then it’s right for the government to go after them.

It’s worth noting though that the only individual named in this article is identified as a member of the opposition and the media companies (Clarin especially) have a long record of friction with President Kirchner. Makes me sorta wonder if there might be a bit of selective enforcement going on.


The Worst Ad of the Year?
I find ’cause marketing’ to be generally pretty annoying and at times offensive. In case you’re not familiar with the term, it is the practice of trying to sell a product by associating it with a popular cause, and perhaps donating a few pennies per item to a charity. The most prominent such cause, of course, is breast cancer. I lost my wife to that disease, and I can’t express how offensive I find it that companies try to use it to sell pink vacuum cleaners.

But this one goes even a step further, since it pretends to be about a cause (or several causes) when in fact it is just … well, an ad. You may have seen actress Jane Seymour pitching for Kay Jewelers. I’ll turn things over to Bob Garfield of MediaPost:

… Seymour says to open the spot for Kay Jewelers: “Behind every heart there is a story” — three stories, to be precise, told in five-second montages featuring attractive actors acting out triumph over adversity. There’s a para athlete wheeling over the finish line into the arms of her able-bodied husband. A middle-class mom hugging her vaguely punk/Goth daughter with the pink hair and Lewinsky beret. A gorgeous African-American couple wearing Habitat for Humanity-ish t-shirts helping an even gorgeouser possibly Latino couple into their even gorgeouser new house.

Oh, Jane, such transcendent goodness and tight editing! Tell us…what is it all about?

….about winning the race, no matter what the obstacles. About rebuilding the bonds between a mother and a daughter. Or about helping rebuild homes for others, because you remember what it felt like not to have one.

Right, Jane. We’ve got that. But what does that have to do with mass-marketed jewelry?

When you keep an open heart, amazing things happen. That’s what the Open Hearts Collection at Kay Jewelers, the number-one jewelry store in all America, is all about. Keep your heart open, and love will always find its way in.

Awww. Every kitsch begins with Kay.

But wait. Open your heart? No, unless by “heart” they mean “wallet.” Ladies and gentlemen, I give you open-heart sorcery: the black art of combining celebrity, cheap sentimentality, self-delusion, greed and borderline consumer fraud.

Those in my worldwide cult of acolytes already know my views on cause marketing, which can be summed up as follows: ‘We resort to this sort of marketing cause we’re gonna make more money.” As it is most often practiced, CM is not charity or philanthropy; it is a licensing deal, wherein the brand uses, say, breast cancer, the way McDonald’s uses Hello Kitty.

The practice exploits consumers’ emotions and invites them to delude themselves into thinking a product purchase is an act of charity. But it is not charity. It is sales promotion, perhaps slightly enriching the licensor, but surely at the cost of actual charitable giving by those who think they’ve tithed by buying an overpriced necklace.

In other words: a racket.

It’s really difficult for a marketer to behave more cynically, yet Kay Jewelers and Seymour somehow manage to triumph against just such adversity. Because a purchase from the Open Heart Collection, no matter what is implied, does not result in a donation to para athletes or Habitat for Humanity or the Association of Formerly Estranged Moms and Daughters Now Able at Least to Squeeze Out a Hug. It results in a donation to Signet Jewelers Ltd., owner of Sterling Jewelers, owner of Kay.

That’s correct. Fake cause marketing.


Planning Your Presidential Campaign?
National Journal helps you solve your first problem – when to declare.


Need an AZ-2 Update?
Okay, I reached a bit to turn this one into a question. Tough.

Arizona has officially certified its election results, which triggers a recount in congressional district 2. The apparent loser, incumbent Ron Barber, has tried various lawsuits to get rejected ballots accepted before the recount, but thus far has failed. It is considered very unlikely, based on past recount results, that Barber can overcome Martha McSally’s 161 vote lead.

Secretary of State Ken Bennett says a recount did not change the winner of an even closer race—a ballot proposition four years ago that came down to 121 votes statewide.

He says, “In that race after recounting 1.8 million ballots the vote total changed by only 66.  If you apply that same percentage to a race now with about 220 thousand ballots, it shouldn’t change by more than eight or ten.”


Will SS Be Broke in 10 Years?
When Social Security was ‘reformed’ in the 80s, we were told that the ‘reforms’ would ensure solvency through 2058. Alas, that date has moved forward steadily ever since. This report says we can now expect insolvency in 2024.


According to an actuarial chart I just checked at, I’m projected to live another sixteen years — uh-oh.


How Will Putin Respond to Oil Prices?
I’ve been reading a lot about the recent decline in oil prices (and the decision by OPEC to continue production at current levels, which may lead to continued declines). One point of speculation is that resulting fall in the value of the ruble may lead Vladimir Putin to desperation (that is, he may become even more aggressive).

Evidence in support is that there have been numerous instances of Russian jets challenging neighboring countries – here is an example – and the Russian Navy has been holding exercises in the English Channel.

by @ 12:13 pm. Filed under Uncategorized

November 22, 2014

Weekend Miscellany

Immigration Map, 1903
This map shows numbers and percentages of immigrants, as well as their occupations, by ‘race’ (race was defined a bit differently then, as you’ll see) as of 1903. I don’t know (or care) whether it has any relevance to current events, but I found it fascinating, which is pretty much the only requirement for being included in this post.

I think you’ll have to go Slate and click on the map to get it large enough to read.


Been giving a lot of thought to Oman’s succession policies lately? Probably not, but it could be the Mideast’s next trouble spot.


Sometimes What Isn’t Said Is More Important Than What Is
I recently read a Yahoo News report containing this sentence:

Obama has aggressively used his regulatory power to curb greenhouse gas emissions over fierce objections from Republicans and the energy industry.

It’s true that Republicans and the energy industry have complained about such actions, but so has another group. Labor unions look at many such actions, quite reasonably in my opinion, as job-killers.

The favoring of greenies over workers by Obama and most of the far left represents another opportunity for Republicans to pry even more blue-collar workers away from Democrats, further rupturing the Democratic coalition.


The Top 5 Foreign Policy Lessons of the Past 20 Years

That’s the title of this piece from Foreign Policy. I’m not sure it’s all that accurate, but still it might serve as a conversation-starter.

Trying to predict the issues of the next campaign is almost always an exercise in futility. It does seem likely, the way things are going, and given the incompetence of our president (which, since he never learns anything, seems unlikely to change), that foreign policy will play an important role in 2016; that likelihood increases dramatically, of course, if Hillary Clinton is the Democrat’s nominee.

The five lessons are:
No. 1: Great-power politics still matters. A lot.
Which might be rephrased as: the Cold War isn’t over.

No. 2: A lot of global politics is (still) local. 
Despite globalization local issues, rivalries, and disputes still matter. I don’t know who needed to learn this lesson – it should be self-evident to anyone with even a passing awareness of the Mideast.

No. 3: The only thing worse than a bad state is no state.
Examples: Libya, Iraq, Somalia.

No. 4: “Take it or leave it” is bad diplomacy.
Well, yeah. But then so is endless negotiation.

No. 5: Beware hubris.
This is something we just learned recently? The problem, I think, is recognizing hubris.


This Week’s Unintended Consequence
The State of Washington just passed a new law (I-594) broadening the rules for background checks on gun purchases (or loans, or other transfers). A small museum, to avoid potential legal hassles, is returning various WW2 weapons to those who loaned them for an exhibit.

And the spokesperson for the group that pushed the law says (of course), “This is clearly not what was concerned when I-594 was designed.”

A small museum in Washington state is removing World War II-era weapons from an exhibit to avoid having to comply with a new voter-approved law requiring background checks on gun transfers.

The Lynden Pioneer Museum, near the Canadian border in the state’s northwest corner, wrote on its Facebook page that it would risk violating Initiative 594 to keep the 11 rifles past Dec. 4, when the law takes effect. The weapons will be returned to the collectors who lent them.

Something About Ebola I Had Not Considered
From the BBC:

Nearly half of all Liberians who were employed when the Ebola outbreak began are no longer working, a survey by the World Bank has found.

by @ 11:11 am. Filed under Uncategorized

November 20, 2014

Does McCain Have a Challenger?

David Scweikert, a three-term member of the US House from AZ-6, may challenge John McCain for the latter’s Senate seat, according to Roll Call. Well, to be more precise, he’s ‘keeping his options open’ about it.

Rep. David Schweikert, R-Ariz., plans to keep his options open for 2016, saying he would consider future runs — including a primary challenge to Sen. John McCain — after the holidays.

“My wife and I made an agreement that we would wait until after the holidays, and then we would have a family meeting,” Schweikert told CQ Roll Call in between votes Tuesday, his wife by his side. “The whole thing: whether you’re gonna run at all over again, do you weigh options for other things.”

“Like everything we do in the political world, we’ll do it very disciplined,” he added. “We’ll do it with math and data and polling, and go from there.”

There are mixed opinions about Schweikert, and I’ll wait a bit before making up my mind on this race (or at least wait to see whether there will be a race). There can be no doubt, though, that Schweikert would be a huge improvement on McCain’s last primary opponent, J. D. Hayworth, and would likely give McCain a more serious race.

by @ 8:11 pm. Filed under Uncategorized

November 19, 2014

Is It Possible Walker Might Be Running?

I wonder if this might shake the convictions of those on this site who are absolutely, positively, 100%, no-chance-in-hell certain that Scott Walker won’t run. Do you think they might at least reexamine the question a bit?

Probably not.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said Tuesday he is seriously considering whether to get into the race for president in 2016, but he hasn’t decided yet whether he feels the call to run.

“My personal process is I have to feel like it’s a calling, particularly for the time and the effort and the impact it has on family and friends,” Walker told AP in a telephone interview from Boca Raton, Florida, where he is attending the Republican Governors Association meeting this week. “It’s not something you should yearn for…”


Walker has taken several steps to keep his name in the mix as a potential GOP contender. Walker published a book in 2013 about his effort taking on public unions that spurred his recall election, he’s traveled to Iowa and New Hampshire, and has courted large conservative donors, including casino magnate Sheldon Adelson.

Gee, publishing a book, visiting early primary states,  talking to donors — you might almost think he’s not definitely out, wouldn’t you?

The state legislature typically passes the budget in late June, but Walker has said he wants to be more aggressive this year and possibly get it done earlier. The time it takes to pass the budget is a factor in his timing for deciding on whether to run for president, Walker said.

If one thought that he might be interested in running, late June might present a problem, but since we know he isn’t, he must have some other reason for wanting to speed up the budget process, right?

Okay, /sarcasm. I have no idea whether Scott Walker is going to run or not. Neither, I suspect, does anyone else, except maybe Scott Walker and his wife. I just think a little humility is in order when stating opinions (i.e., state them as opinions, not as facts). If your opinion is that Walker won’t run — cool. Say so: “I don’t think Walker will run”, or even “I’m nearly certain Walker won’t run.” But if you flat out state, “Walker won’t run” you a) look like a fool for not knowing the difference between an opinion and a fact, and b) risk considerable embarrassment if you should happen to be wrong.

The same principle of course applies to other candidates — Mitt Romney, Hillary Clinton, etc — or other events that have yet to happen.

by @ 4:37 pm. Filed under Scott Walker, Uncategorized

November 13, 2014

Alabama Democrats Ask Supreme Court to Overturn the Law of Unintended Consequences

Well, okay, the headline is not 100% accurate. What is actually going on is that a group of black and Democratic Alabamans are suing to overturn the state’s redistricting on the grounds that the minority districts have too many minority people.

No, I’m not kidding.

According to this Washington Post article, some of the justices met the arguments with the same surprise you just did.

The Supreme Court seemed divided Wednesday over and perhaps even stumped by a request that Alabama redo its state legislative redistricting plan that challengers said was drawn with too much emphasis on the race of voters.

But, I hear you saying, aren’t legislators, under the Voting Rights Act, obligated to consider race, and create districts that guarantee that more minority legislators are elected than were in the ugly past?

If I heard you properly, then you are qualified to sit on the Supreme Court.

… more than one justice pointed out during oral arguments that minority voters used to come to the court to demand that legislatures specifically use race in order to ensure that blacks and Hispanics be represented in government.

And, it would appear, this redistricting plan meets the intent of the Voting Rights Act – the population of Alabama is 25% black and so is the Legislature, according to the attorney representing the state.

The problem, of course, is that one of the results of the VRA, an unintended consequence one might say, has been that it effectively requires states to gerrymander. The basic idea behind gerrymandering, of course, is to pack a few districts with as many members of the opposing party as possible, thus creating more districts winnable by your own party.

To the degree that blacks tend to be Democrats (which is a very large degree), this can be accomplished by closely adhering to the VRA, and is part of the reason why white southern Democrats are close to extinction in the US House.

WaPo notes that:

The question could come down to whether Alabama had partisan gerrymandering goals in mind — the court has allowed that — rather than racial gerrymandering. And that is complicated when, as in Alabama, racial and political identities are closely linked.

I think the Law of Unintended Consequences may be my favorite law.

by @ 11:20 pm. Filed under Uncategorized

October 31, 2012

Mason-Dixon Ceasing Florida Polling Operations; Declares Romney Has Florida “Locked Down”

Mason-Dixon on Tuesday became the second major polling organization to cease operations in Florida. Why? I’ll let them explain:

“Romney has pretty much nailed down Florida,” said Brad Coker of Mason-Dixon Polling and Research, which conducted the poll for the media partners. “Unless something dramatically changes — an October surprise, a major gaffe — Romney’s going to win Florida.”

Mason-Dixon is not the first major polling group to pull out of Florida. Suffolk University pollster David Paleologos, whose polls are aggregated into mainstream averages to show where the presidential race stands in the swing states, said he’s finished polling in Florida, North Carolina and Virginia because President Obama has no shot at winning those states.

President Obama currently has no campaign events planned in Florida, and the same is true for Governor Romney after he completes a swing through three Florida cities today. With six days left until the election it appears that Florida will see no love from the candidates because it is now firmly in the Romney column.

by @ 7:00 am. Filed under Uncategorized

October 13, 2012

Poll Watch: Nielson Brothers South Dakota 2012 Presidential Survey

NBP South Dakota 2012 Presidential Poll

  • Mitt Romney 51.6% {53.9%} [49%] (48%)
  • Barack Obama 41.1% {38.7%} [43%] (29%)

Do you approve or disapprove of President Barack Obama’s job performance?

  • Strongly approve 26.4% {25.8%} [27%]
  • Somewhat approve 16.8% {17.1%} [18%]
  • Somewhat disapprove 10.0% {12.1%} [13%]
  • Strongly disapprove 46.8% {45.0%} [42%]

Survey of 762 likely voters was conducted October 1-5, 2012.  The margin of error is +/- 3.55 percentage points.  Results from the poll conducted August 29 – September 6, 2012 are in curly brackets. Results from the poll conducted July 19-23, 2012 are in square brackets. Results from the poll conducted December 6-9, 2011 are in parentheses.

Data compilation and analysis courtesy of The Argo Journal

by @ 7:20 pm. Filed under Uncategorized

Poll Watch: Gallup Daily Tracking Poll

Likely Voter Presidential Tracking Poll

  • Romney: 49% (–)
  • Obama: 47% (–)

Registered Voter Presidential Tracking Poll

  • Obama 49% (+1)
  • Romney 46% (–)

Each seven-day rolling average is based on telephone interviews with approximately 3,050 registered voters; Margin of error is ±2 percentage points.

(*Note: Only one out of the seven datapoints in this poll are post-VP-debate.)

Obama Job Approval Tracking Poll

  • Approve: 48% (-2)
  • Disapprove: 46% (+2)

Daily results are based on telephone interviews with approximately 1,500 national adults over a period of three days; Margin of error is ±3 percentage points.

by @ 1:30 pm. Filed under Poll Watch, Uncategorized

October 5, 2012

Poll Watch: Gravis Marketing Nevada 2012 Presidential Survey

Gravis Marketing Nevada 2012 Presidential Poll

  • Barack Obama 48.9%
  • Mitt Romney 47.8%
  • Other/Undecided 3.3%

Among Democrats

  • Barack Obama 85.7%
  • Mitt Romney 12.7%
  • Other/Undecided 1.6%

Among Republicans

  • Mitt Romney 88.2%
  • Barack Obama 10.3%
  • Other/Undecided 1.4%

Among Independents

  • Barack Obama 48.9%
  • Mitt Romney 43.6%
  • Other/Undecided 7.4%

Among Men

  • Mitt Romney 50.3%
  • Barack Obama 46.8%
  • Other/Undecided 2.8%

Among Women

  • Barack Obama 50.8%
  • Mitt Romney 45.4%
  • Other/Undecided 3.8%

Survey of 1,006 likely voters was conducted October 3, 2012. The margin of error is +/- 3.1 percentage points.

Data compilation and analysis courtesy of The Argo Journal

by @ 4:40 pm. Filed under Uncategorized

September 24, 2012

Poll Watch: POLITICO/George Washington University 2012 Battleground Poll

POLITICO/GWU 2012 Battleground Poll

  • Barack Obama 50% [48%] (47%) {53%} [49%]
  • Mitt Romney 47% [47%] (48%) {43%} [43%] 

(Among Obama VotersWould you say that your vote for Barack Obama is more of a vote for Barack Obama, or a vote against Mitt Romney?

  • For Obama 75% [77%]
  • Against Romney 19% [18%]

(Among Romney VotersWould you say that your vote for Mitt Romney is more of a vote for Mitt Romney, or a vote against Barack Obama?

  • For Romney 47% [39%]
  • Against Obama 42% [52%]

Favorable / Unfavorable {Net} 

  • Barack Obama 53% [50%] / 45% [47%] {+8%}
  • Paul Ryan 41% / 36% {+5%}
  • Joe Biden 43% / 45% {-2%}
  • Mitt Romney 46% [46%] / 49% [46%] {-3%}

How would you rate the job Barack Obama has been doing as President? Do you approve or disapprove of the job he is doing?

  • Approve 50% [49%]
  • Disapprove 47% [50%]

I am going to read you several issues. For each one, please tell me if you approve or disapprove of the job that President Obama is doing on this issue.

The Economy

  • Approve 48% [44%]
  • Disapprove 51% [54%]

Foreign Policy

  • Approve 50% [52%]
  • Disapprove 45% [43%]

The Federal Budget and Spending 

  • Approve 40% [37%]
  • Disapprove 57% [61%]


  • Approve 51% [46%]
  • Disapprove 46% [50%]


  • Approve 50%
  • Disapprove 44%

Standing Up for the Middle Class

  • Approve 58%
  • Disapprove 39%

I would like to read you a list of issues that some people have said are important to them. Please tell me, for each one, who will better handle this issue — Mitt Romney or Barack Obama.


  • Barack Obama 48% [44%]
  • Mitt Romney 48% [50%]

The Economy

  • Barack Obama 49% [44%]
  • Mitt Romney 48% [49%]

Standing Up for the Middle Class 

  • Barack Obama 57% [54%]  
  • Mitt Romney 38% [40%]


  • Barack Obama 50% [47%]  
  • Mitt Romney 46% [47%]


  • Barack Obama 52%  
  • Mitt Romney 43%

Foreign Policy

  • Barack Obama 52% [54%]  
  • Mitt Romney 43% [39%]

The Federal Budget and Spending

  • Mitt Romney 50%
  • Barack Obama 45%

Regardless of who you intend to vote for – which candidate for President do you think is going to win the election?

  • Barack Obama 60% [56%]  
  • Mitt Romney 30% [33%]

Survey of 1,000 likely voters was conducted September 16-20, 2012 by The Tarrance Group (R) and Lake Research Partners (D). The margin of error is +/- 3.1 percentage points. Party ID: 43% [44%] Democrat; 40% [40%] Republican; 15% [15%] Independent.  Ideology: 21% [24%] Very conservative; 36% [33%] Somewhat conservative; 26% [26%] Somewhat liberal; 12% [11%] Very liberal.  Click here to view crosstabs. Results from the poll conducted August 5-9, 2012 are in square brackets.  Results from the poll conducted April 29 – May 3, 2012 are in parentheses.  Results from the poll conducted February 19-22, 2012 are in curly brackets.  Results from the poll conductedNovember 6-9, 2011 are in square brackets.

Data compilation and analysis courtesy of The Argo Journal

by @ 4:30 pm. Filed under Uncategorized

September 22, 2012

Poll Watch: Rasmussen (R) Wisconsin 2012 Senatorial Survey

Rasmussen (R) Wisconsin 2012 Senate Poll

  • Tammy Baldwin (D) 49% (43%) {48%} [36%] (38%) {44%} [36%] (42%)
  • Tommy Thompson (R) 46% (54%) {41%} [52%] (50%) {48%} [50%] (49%)
  • Some other candidate 2% (1%) {5%} [6%] (5%) {4%} [4%] (4%)
  • Not sure 4% (3%) {6%} [6%] (7%) {4%} [10%] (6%)

I’m going to read you a short list of people in the news. For each, please let me know if you have a very favorable, somewhat favorable, somewhat unfavorable, or very unfavorable impression.

Tammy Baldwin 

  • Very favorable 32% (22%)
  • Somewhat favorable 17% (21%)
  • Somewhat unfavorable 13% (16%)
  • Very unfavorable 31% (33%)

Tommy Thompson 

  • Very favorable 22% (23%)
  • Somewhat favorable 27% (36%)
  • Somewhat unfavorable 18% (20%)
  • Very unfavorable 28% (17%)

Favorable / Unfavorable {Net}

  • Tammy Baldwin 49% (43%) / 44% (49%) {+5%}
  • Tommy Thompson 49% (59%) / 46% (37%) {+3%}

Survey of 500 likely voters was conducted September 17, 2012. The margin of error is +/- 4.5 percentage points.  Results from the poll conducted August 15, 2012 are in parentheses.  Results from the poll conducted July 25, 2012 are in curly brackets.  Results from the poll conducted June 12, 2012 are in square brackets.  Results from the poll conducted May 9, 2012 are in parentheses.  Results from the poll conducted March 27, 2012 are in curly brackets.  Results from the poll conducted February 27, 2012 are in square brackets.  Results from the poll conducted October 26, 2011 are in parentheses.

Inside the numbers:

Both candidates earn more than 90% support from voters in their respective parties. Baldwin leads by seven points among voters not affiliated with either the Republicans or the Democrats.

Male voters prefer Thompson by six points, while Baldwin has an 11-point lead among female voters. Married voters are essentially tied, while those who are not married prefer the Democrat by 13 points.

Data compilation and analysis courtesy of The Argo Journal

by @ 2:00 am. Filed under Uncategorized

September 2, 2012

Axelrod, Plouffe Can’t Answer “Better Off” Question

Barack Obama’s senior advisors David Plouffe and David Axelrod both struggled to answer the most straightforward question any President seeking reelection must answer: are you better off than you were four years ago?

If you’re an Obama supporter, these answers are disconcerting to say the least:

by @ 8:57 am. Filed under Uncategorized

August 22, 2012

For Some Reason, I Don’t See Ann Romney Doing This

Michele Obama is serving as a ‘guest editor’ this week on a website that features, among other things, sex tips from … ah … um … “professional sex workers”, shall we say? CNSNews has the story:

( – First Lady Michelle Obama this week is serving as guest editor for, NBC’s “community of online women” that offers sexually explicit material, including graphic sex tips from prostitutes, “20  kinky things you SO can do,” and a list of “naughty” apps for mobile devices.

Michelle Obama is identified as a “Guest Editor” on all of the website’s pages, including several titled “Love & Sex.”  Video clips of iVillage interviews with Mrs. Obama appear on some of those sexually-oriented pages, although the first lady herself does not discuss sex.

I am guessing this makes her “cool”?


by @ 1:01 pm. Filed under Uncategorized

August 17, 2012

RNC Ad: “This Is Not A Parody”

Pretty funny, and it continues to growing narrative of Obama ducking both the serious issues and the press.

by @ 3:27 pm. Filed under Uncategorized

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