June 30, 2015

Draft Biden?

Drudge (perhaps just trolling a bit) is headlining a story from RealClearPolitics about a movement to draft VP Joe Biden.

Most Republicans, of course, will laugh such a thing off, but I will laugh perhaps a shade less loudly. The history of incumbent VP candidates who seek the presidency has, in my lifetime, been not too bad.

1960: Richard Nixon tried to succeed the popular Eisenhower (despite Ike’s popularity, it should be noted that the Republicans had suffered an extremely bad defeat in 1958). Nixon lost in one of history’s closest elections.

1968: Hubert Humphrey, trying to succeed LBJ, was encumbered by a party fractured by the war in Vietnam, a disastrous convention, and a third-party movement that took the solid south and many blue-collar northern whites out of the Democrats’ decades-old FDR coalition. He started out way behind, but closed strongly and lost the popular vote by only 0.7%.

1988: Bush I, helped by a popular president, fairly easily won.

2000: Al Gore beat Bush II in the popular vote, and very nearly won the electoral vote.

Four data points over more than half a century are hardly conclusive, but they all do point in the same direction – a sitting VP will be a strong candidate, who will have a reasonable chance of winning in November. To the pols who will have to run down-ticket, this could look better than a weak Hillary Clinton, if she continues to stumble.


Note: This is not a open thread — there are several below.


  5:04 pm Uncategorized  

Tuesday Open Thread (Puerto Rico Edition)

So Puerto Rico is joining Greece in collapse. Here’s a quick hit at the basics from The Washington Post.

To summarize, they’re massively in debt (about $72bil), they have massive unemployment (laborforce participation is about 40%), and the population is in serious decline (why stick around and be left holding the tab?). And then there’s this:

… the government has made things worse by regularly spending more than it gets in tax revenues.

Who knew that would be a problem? As an aside: I liked this line …

The report cites one surprising problem: the federal minimum wage …

A surprise? Well, remember this is the WaPo.

Probably the biggest Grexit worry is contagion. WaPo echoes that for PR:

Wall Street might hesitate to lend to money cities around the country. A huge mess in Puerto Rico after smaller bankruptcies in Detroit and other cities might suggest to some investors that loaning money to local governments in this country isn’t always a safe bet — and that would make new roads, new schools and other projects more expensive.

Shorter version: Watch out, Illinois.

  7:00 am Uncategorized  

June 29, 2015

SCOTUS Upholds Redistricting Commissions

The Supreme Court today upheld Arizona’s Redistricting Commission (and, by extension, those of several other states) against a challenge by the state legislature. The legislature had based its argument on the plain language of the Constitution’s Elections Clause, which says that congressional boundaries must be set by the legislatures of the various states.

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the primary dissent, calling the decision “a magic trick with the Elections Clause.”

“That Clause vests congressional redistricting authority in ‘the Legislature’ of each State,” Roberts wrote. “An Arizona ballot initiative transferred that authority from ‘the Legislature’ to an ‘Independent Redistricting Commission.’ The majority approves this deliberate constitutional evasion by doing what the proponents of the Seventeenth Amendment [direct election of U.S. senators] dared not: revising ‘the Legislature’ to mean ‘the people.’”

This is not the biggest decision to be made this session, obviously. Nonetheless, it brings a few points to mind:

  • It’s good to see that the CJ has decided that words have meanings. What happened in the past week to change his mind on that point?
  • The court liberals are on quite a winning streak. If Republicans do not win the presidency next year, and hold on to the Senate, that streak may last a long, long time.
  • This may have repercussions on Arizona’s senate race: if the legislature had won, they might have gerrymandered Kirsten Sinema’s district enough to push her into running against Ann Kirkpatrick for the Democratic nomination. Sinema would be a much stronger opponent against McCain, though I’d still bet on McCain, and would probably wipe the floor with Kelli Ward, in the unlikely event Ward got the Republican nomination. But that’s all academic now. The CW is that Sinema will stay put in the House for now.
  4:00 pm Uncategorized  

June 28, 2015

Sunday Open Thread (Grexit Edition)

Greek banks will not open Monday (Fox News)

Greece said it would temporarily close banks on Monday in a bid to prevent its banking system from collapsing after the European Central Bank moved to cap the amount of emergency loans it provides for the country’s cash-strapped lenders.


Q&A: what options now for Greece’s strained banking system?

(Financial Times)
Greece looks set to enter uncharted waters this week, with the expiry on Tuesday of its creditors’ offer of a new €15.3bn rescue loan in exchange for a package of austerity and structural reforms.
Here are the key issues it faces as it lurches closer to becoming the first member state to leave the euro since the single currency was launched in 1999.


Wave of contagion expected after dramatic weekend raises “Grexit” chances (Reuters)

European markets are braced for a wave of contagion from Greece on Monday, with heavy losses for southern European government bonds and regional stock markets expected as investors scramble to discount a possible “Grexit” that most had still assumed was unlikely as late as Friday afternoon.


Greece Enters Euro Limbo (Wall Street Journal)
Greece has entered the Twilight Zone.

The weekend’s dramatic decision by the Greek government to call a July 5 referendum on whether to accept spending cuts and tax rises proposed by creditors has already had huge consequences, including the closure of Greek banks Monday. So much uncertainty is likely to jolt markets, which have been remarkably resilient to the latest flare-up in Greece’s long-running crisis.


Live Updates (The Guardian)



  2:52 pm Uncategorized  

June 27, 2015

Weekend Miscellany


Open thread – usual rules. Post your own Miscellany in the comments, etc.


The Greek Calendar

I’ve been following the Grexit story longer than I care to think about.greek calendar
Great cartoon from UK’s Daily Telegraph tells how I feel about it at this point.





Obama Sexually Assaults Pelosi

I’m surprised (OK, I’m pretending to be surprised) that anti-rape activists haven’t called for President Obama’s arrest after his felonious assault on Nancy Pelosi.

After making headlines with a nasty split over trade, President Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi, the top Democrat in the House of Representatives, made a public show on Friday of making up.

U.S. President Barack Obama leans in to kiss Democratic House Leader Nancy Pelosi after speaking at the United States Conference of Mayors in San Francisco June 19, 2015. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

U.S. President Barack Obama leans in to kiss Democratic House Leader Nancy Pelosi after speaking at the United States Conference of Mayors in San Francisco June 19, 2015. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

It was only a week ago that Pelosi made a dramatic speech on the House floor and joined most House Democrats in a strategic vote aimed at stalling the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a free trade deal Obama wants to finalize before he leaves office.

But on Friday, Obama planted a kiss on Pelosi’s cheek on stage at the U.S. Conference of Mayors meeting in her hometown of San Francisco.

Unless Pelosi had given clear consent to that kiss it would constitute sexual assault.

A kiss without asking is technically sexual assault. …

The issue we’re talking about here–asking for consent to sexual activity–is important for a number of reasons, and it’s not just so that self-proclaimed “bros” can avoid getting arrested. It’s because every individual should expect to have some level of autonomy and choice over what happens to their own body. They get to choose what they do with it, not you.

Assuming that someone is just going to want to kiss you or dance with you, and going ahead and acting on that assumption and touching someone anyway–this leaves a lot of room for inappropriate or unwanted touching that can often lead to more dangerous crimes–like rape.

I couldn’t find a picture of this particular crime, but if you Google “Obama kiss Pelosi” you will find that he is a serial offender.


Photo of Van Gogh

I’m not sure why I think this is cool, but what the heck … as Miscellany items go, it’s not particularly off-topic.

vangoghThe photograph was put up for auction today at the The Romantic Agnoy in Brussels, Belgium. According to the auction listing, the photo is a melanotype created by Jules Antoine showing Van Gogh talking with a group of friends that includes artist Paul Gauguin, artist Emile Bernard, Félix Jobbé-Duval, and Andre? Antoine.

The picture was estimated to fetch between €120,000 and €150,000 (~$136,000 to $170,000). The final sale price has not yet been made public.


Tear Down the Jefferson Memorial!

While we are in a PC frenzy, I guess we might as well do this, too. No mention of the Washington Monument, though – or, for that matter, changing the capitol city’s name.

CNN anchor Ashleigh Banfield this week questioned whether the Jefferson Memorial should be taken down because Jefferson owned slaves. “There is a monument to him in the capital city of the United States. No one ever asks for that to come down,” Banfield said.


Hispanic vote in Nevada

I’m not much into the idea that Republicans must kowtow to Hispanics or face the everlasting fires of electoral perdition. This article, however, presents the opposing view, and I found it interesting.

In 2010, Brian Sandoval lost the Hispanic vote by a 2-to-1 margin after embracing Arizona’s infamous racial profiling measure. In 2013, Gov. Sandoval supported comprehensive immigration reform, and he now gets a majority of the Latino vote in recent polls.

In 2012, Sen. Dean Heller lost the Hispanic vote by a 2-to-1 margin after opposing the DREAM Act and talking about “anchor babies” in his campaign. In 2013, Heller, too, backed comprehensive immigration reform, having seen the exit polling light.

If you want to understand why Hillary Clinton has come to Nevada twice and scurried left of President Obama on immigration reform, if you want to understand why Republicans have a Sisyphean feat in winning the state in 2016, if you want to know why last week’s National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials convention in Las Vegas induced Bernie Sanders to finally talk about immigration reform, the Sandoval/Heller experiences are instructive.


Advertisers Salute the SCOTUS Decision

jelloveBe prepared for a torrent of ads with gay-pride themes, at least on social media, says Advertising Age.

In the wake of the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision that guarantees a nation-wide right to same-sex marriage, social media erupted in celebration. And a number of brands either joined the fray or found their promoted tweets in association with Pride month in the right place at the right time.


Samsung Intros the Transparent Truck

Ever been stuck behind a big semi on a not-divided highway, and you don’t know whether it’s safe to pass it or not? Of course you have.

Well, those days may soon be coming to an end, thanks to this great new piece of technology.samsung truck

In an attempt to make the roads safer for drivers, Samsung has unveiled a new ‘transparent’ truck.

The prototype truck uses a front-facing camera that is live streamed onto its back doors, so drivers following the over-size vehicle can see what is ahead.

“This allows drivers to have a better view when deciding whether it is safe to overtake,” Samsung wrote in a blog post.

Thank you, Samsung.



The Trans-Pacific Partnership has broad support in all the countries TPPsurveyed by Pew that are parties to the agreement. Support in the US is lower than most, but it is still supported by a twenty-point margin, 49-29.

Here’s something interesting: In the US, Democrats support it more than Republicans (D=51%, R=43%), but in congress the Republicans mostly voted Yes, while the Dems were strongly No.


Briefly Noted

538’s Odds on WWC Results: USA has a 28% chance of winning. Germany is tops at 45%. Germany has looked really, really good.

California Makes Vaccines Mandatory for More Schoolchildren: No exemptions for religious or personal beliefs.

Pete Rose Bet on Games as a Player: Not that anyone is surprised, but he has always denied it.

  10:00 am Uncategorized  

June 26, 2015

Latest Data on Cell-Only Households

Not quite sure why this sort of info is coming from the National Center for Health Statistics, but still, here it is:

More than two in every five American homes (45.4%) had only wireless telephones … during the second half of 2014—an increase of 4.4 percentage points since the second half of 2013. More than one-half of all adults aged 18-44 and of children under 18 were living in wireless-only households.

Not really news to those paying attention, but the implications for polling are massive.

cell phones

  2:55 pm Uncategorized  

December 14, 2011

Weird Scenario 1: The Late Entrant

The turmoil of the Republican nomination process, and the unhappiness of a large part of the party with all the choices, has led to recent speculation that we might have a brokered convention and/or the nominee might be someone not in the current field.

In the interests of full disclosure, I must note that I am not an unbiased observer on this point, since I count myself among those who look at the current field with disappointment (well, okay, ‘disappointment’ is a weak word – ‘revulsion’ is more like it).

Sean Trende assessed the possibility of a brokered convention, and rated the chances as low, which I think is fair. But that there is any realistic chance is remarkable – it has been sixty years since either party’s convention has gone past the first ballot.

So what are the factors that could cause a brokered convention this time?

  • The two leading candidates are deeply flawed in the eyes of many in the party
  • A substantial portion of the delegates will be selected by proportional methods
  • There is a strong third candidate (Ron Paul) who has the resources and the will to stay in to the bitter end

The factor that, added to the above, may mean a late entrant has a chance to emerge as the nominee from a brokered convention is that the nominating process is back-loaded.

  • Several large states are going late, with winner-take-all delegations
  • A significant number of states have relatively late filing deadlines

Let’s examine that last point first, because it brings into question the idea that it is now impossible to enter the race. Let’s say that someone decided to enter after Iowa and New Hampshire (it would, of course, have to be someone who has the name and the establishment support to credibly do so). The following fifteen states have filing deadlines three weeks or more after New Hampshire votes, giving time (maybe) to get on the ballot:

  • Arkansas (3/1 deadline) – 36 delegates
  • California (3/23) – 172
  • Connecticut (3/2) – 28
  • Delaware (2/24) – 17
  • Indiana (2/10) – 46
  • Kentucky (1/31) – 45
  • Montana (3/12) – 26
  • Nebraska (3/7) – 35
  • New Jersey (4/2) – 50
  • New Mexico (3/16) – 23
  • New York (2/9) – 95
  • Oregon (3/6) – 29
  • Pennsylvania (2/14) – 72
  • South Dakota (3/27) – 28
  • Utah (3/15) – 40

These states have a total of 742 delegates and most vote in April-June, giving a new candidate time to campaign. The strategy would probably be to concentrate on New York and Pennsylvania, which vote in April. Victories there would lead to May-June wins in other states (see the chart on Sean’s article for voting dates). A candidate who captured a big piece of the 742 delegates could prevent anyone else from getting the nomination and would go to the convention with a strong argument as to why he (to randomly select a pronoun) should be the compromise choice.

Let’s say that when the dust settles in June, the scoreboard looks something like this:

  • 800 Gingrich
  • 800 Romney
  • 400 Late Entrant
  • 200 Paul
  • 88 Everybody Else

In this scenario, Romney and Gingrich have so soiled each other that they are unacceptable to too much of the party and are too wounded to battle Obama. After a nasty campaign, it’s unlikely that 350 Romney delegates could be persuaded to switch to Gingrich, or vice versa. That leaves Late Entrant and Paul. We know it won’t be Paul, so …

As the headline should make clear, this is not a prediction. I’m not even saying it is at all likely. But I do think it is just barely possible, and its slim chances seem to be growing.

This has been the strangest campaign I’ve seen in my five decades of following politics. There’s no reason to think it can’t get weirder still.

One final point: Can we put a name to the Late Entrant? The obvious choices are Daniels, Christie, Ryan, and Jindal. My pick, of course, would be Daniels, but unless the Women’s Caucus of the Daniels household has had an epiphany, that isn’t happening. Christie has endorsed Romney and this scenario involves Romney staying in all the way (I don’t see a brokered convention if he’s knocked out early), so eliminate Christie.

Jindal would be possible if Perry is eliminated after Iowa or New Hampshire. Ryan has not endorsed, so he could still get in. John Thune? Suggestions are welcomed.

Here are a few other assessments of the chances for a brokered convention or a Late Entrant: Brian Bolduc in National Review, Rhodes Cook at the Crystal Ball, Nate Silver at NYT.

  12:46 pm Uncategorized  

More Evidence of the Craziness of This Cycle

As segments of the GOP have moved more towards Paul’s views we have the first rumblings that he could actually pull off a win. Internal polling from Mitt Romney and Rick Perry shows Newt Gingrich slipping, according to Politico.

“Sources didn’t provide specific numbers on how far he’s slipped, but it’s perceptible in both camps’ numbers… The person who is holding strong, according to the internal numbers, is Paul, who has a true shot of winning the caucuses, according to several Iowa Republican insiders surveying ground games and energy.”

  3:11 am Uncategorized  

December 5, 2011

Funny new Ron Paul Add

I’m not a particular fan of Ron Paul, and I’m not going to vote for him, but I do kind of like this add:

No word on the size of the buy, but Politico reports it will be…ahem…big.

  7:15 am Uncategorized  

November 29, 2011

Questions to be Answered

There may be nothing wrong with Fox Channel 5’s report on Ginny White’s allegation that she had a 13 year affair with Herman Cain as far as modern journalistic standards are concerned, but there may be plenty wrong with modern journalism.

Good investigative journalism is dead. In this case, Fox 5 has brought us the allegation, but left too many questions. Perhaps, this is the way stories are designed. Like old Soap Opears, the intent is to create an interesting hook so we’ll all tune in for the next installment of “Herman Can: The Scandal.”

To be clear, Cain does need to answer the questions and clarify the exact nature of his relationship with Ms. White. This is someone he knows who has made a serious allegation against him. He needs to explain the nature and extent of this relationship.

Some may question the wisdom of any relationship or friendship between the two. Yet, it seems to me to be the hypocrisy of the modern business world. Imagine, if you would, a man advising male executives. If you’re in business and you’re outgoing and helpful to people of only one sex and less helpful to another, you’re quickly labeled a sexist.  Modern executives are taught to treat men and women equally.

Given that the books with Cain’s handwriting in them are Cain’s own books on leadership and business management, rather than say Leaves of the Grass, that at least suggests Cain’ s relationship with the woman was more professional and encouraging rather than romantic.

The signed books are the weakest evidence provided by White because the incriptions really betray nothing more than friendliness. I’ve had friends sign books with inscriptions just as friendly as these. It’s common.

Perhaps, the bigger proof was her possession of Cain’s private phone number and the number of texts and calls between them. But again, how damning is this? While many of us may only give our private cell phone number to  ten or twenty people, for Cain that number isprobably significantly higher given the number of people and activities he was involved with including church, business, community, friends, family, and political contacts.

The extent of contact between Cain and White was further obscured by Fox’ 5’s reporting. They stated there were 61 text messages and phone calls, both incoming and outgoing. This fails to give us any helpful idea as to the nature of these contacts. If Cain and White were having a twenty minute phone conversation every other day while Cain was on the campaign trail this would raise some questions. But, with text messages thrown in, the possibilities can become endless. White very well could have been sending several text messages without Cain responding or responding less. Or if Cain and she texted back and forth for a few minutes, they could easily burn through a dozen text messages in no time flat. Cain also could have had a list of friends that he sends text messages to for whatever reason. In addition, the two could have played phone tag on something, with many calls back and forth leaving messages on voice mail and never even touching base. Without giving us a clue as to the breakdown of the conversations (numbers of texts, number of phone calls, length of phone calls, and who was the initiator of the contacts.)

Even then, all that we would have in context is the situation over the last four months when Ms. White admits the sexual relationship had ended.

Unlike the sexual harassment stories, this one is real simple to prove or disprove. Ms. White listed several specific places that she says She and Cain frequented. If that’s the case, then there should be someone at those hotels to corroborate. If Fox 5 had been into old-fashioned investigative journalism, they would have investigated this angle themselves. But, if they did that, we’d have less incentive to tune in for the next installment.

  12:23 am Uncategorized  

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