Friday, November 30, 2012

Irsael/Palestine in a Nutshell

Finally, recognition by the UN, in a symbolic step, but a still significant one:

The historic General Assembly decision late Thursday to accept “Palestine” as a non-member observer state won’t actually grant independence to the 4.3 million Palestinians who live in the West Bank, east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.

Israel remains an occupying force in the first two territories and continues to severely restrict access to Gaza, ruled by the Hamas militant group. Nor does the vote plaster over the rift in the Palestinian leadership that has led to the emergence of dueling governments in the West Bank and Gaza.

But by gaining approval at a world forum overwhelmingly sympathetic to their quest, Palestinians hope to make it harder for Israel to resist global pressure to negotiate the borders of a future Palestine based on lines Israel held before capturing the West Bank, east Jerusalem and Gaza in 1967.

The massive international recognition of the Palestinians’ right to a state — only nine of 193 General Assembly members voted against it — gave them hope that the tide had turned in their favor.

“It’s a great feeling to have a state, even if in name only,” said civil servant Mohammed Srour, 28, standing in a flag-waving a crowd of more than 2,000 packed into a square in the West Bank city of Ramallah late Thursday. “The most beautiful dream of any man is to have an independent state, particularly for us Palestinians who have lived under occupation for a long time.”

But even though the resolution did not immediately change their lives, Palestinians say the recognition isn’t just symbolic. They believe it will strengthen their hand in any future talks with Israel, which has attacked the Palestinian move as an attempt to bypass such negotiations.
Israel's response was fitting of the colonial state that they are:

JERUSALEM — Israel approved the construction of 3,000 homes in Jewish settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, a government official said Friday, drawing swift criticism from the Palestinians a day after their successful U.N. recognition bid.

The Palestinians strongly condemned the announcement and repeated their refusal to start peace negotiations while building continued. With Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu apparently poised for re-election and insisting that any negotiations begin without preconditions, prospects for peace appear to be going into deep freeze.

The unusually large building plan came a day after the United Nations voted overwhelmingly to accept a Palestinian state in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem as a non-member observer state, setting off jubilant celebrations among Palestinians.
The irony here is that Israel is actually screwing themselves royally in the long run. Building more settlements in Palestinian territory doesn't get rid of Palestinians (although they're trying their best, see Gaza). What it actually does is make a two state solution impossible, and it makes it much more likely that the only workable solution in the future is with one state where everyone has equal voting rights.

The Truth About Fracking

One of the things that drove me absolutely nuts during the election was both Obama and Romney falling over themselves to prove how much they support and love fracking. It's an absolute disaster, and please watch this really well done video on the subject:

I wanted to add D's comment to the post cause I thought it did a really good job of  describing the overarching problem here about what the right has done with science in our public discourse: (emphasis added is mine)

This is all incredibly depressing. It's become too easy to dismiss years of scientific research by creating a "controversy." The real irony of it all is that opponents of science can play off the scientific process, which in and of itself is about controversy. The scientific method with its dependency on repetition and the peer review process that encourages critical assessment of alternative explanations both facilitate this "debate" idea even in cases where the evidence is overwhelming in favor of one viewpoint (see Evolution for an excellent case study). The fact that the science education is this country is slightly better than awful also compounds the issue because the general public can't think critically about scientific alternatives and journalists are afraid to take sides or think critically because they don't want to be labeled as biased or even worse, LIBERAL.

So, as I said at the beginning, the state of science and policy is depressing and disheartening. All too often it takes a catastrophe to destroy the public's apathy or disillusionment with these issues. 
A reason having this blog is awesome: Having crazy smart actual scientists like Jaypop, D, Nick F. and others being able to read and chime in regularly.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

RIP Sean Taylor

Hard to believe it's been five years. My all time favorite Redskins player.

Good Riddance, Health Shuler

Via Zaid Jilani on twitter, this video of Health Shuler:

Health Shuler just took a position with Duke Energy. Not surprising, but still hilarious.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Durbin: Medicare/Medicaid on the Chopping Block

Not good news on the grand bargain front:

Sen. Dick Durbin said today that his Democratic colleagues in the House and Senate should be willing to address entitlement programs like Medicare and Medicaid in deficit reduction negotiations.

“From my side of the table, bring entitlement reform into the conversation,” Durbin said on “This Week with George Stephanopoulos.” “Social Security — set aside … doesn’t add to the deficit.  But when it comes to Medicare and Medicaid, protect the integrity of the program, but give it solvency for more and more years.”

But Durbin ruled out raising  the age of Medicare eligibility as a potential reform.
Not good. Dick Durban is almost always speaking for the White House when he says stuff during negotiations like this. Possibly worse? During the interview he kept referring to Lindsay Graham as "his friend." Gross.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

As is the tradition:

Garfield's Thanksgiving Special Part 1 2 by bul212121

Garfield's Thanksgiving Special Part 2 2 by bul212121

Also... this, later today:

Hopefully RG3 gets the first win over Dallas, in the most humiliating way possible.

Enjoy your thanksgivings everyone!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Train of Thought Lounge: New Edition–“Every Little Step”

To ease into the holidays . . . New Edition in all their glory


How about... if we do nothing!

Some predictably terrifying news on the climate front:

In the absence of aggressive government policies aimed at curbing greenhouse gas emissions, a number of leading organizations, including the United Nations, the World Bank and others, have begun issuing analyses that regard potentially dangerous temperature elevations as not just a possibility should the status quo prevail, but a near certainty even if things start to change.

The latest report, released Wednesday by the United Nations Environment Program, suggested that greenhouse gas emissions levels are currently around 14 percent above where they need to be by the end of the decade in order to avoid what many analysts believe could be a risky level of planetary warming.

That report comes on the heels of a study issued Tuesday by the Geneva-based World Meteorological Organization, which stated that human civilization has pumped roughly 375 billion tonnes, or metric tons, of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere since the dawn of the industrial age, when the extraction
and combustion of fossil fuels began in earnest.

"These billions of tonnes of additional carbon dioxide in our atmosphere will remain there for centuries, causing our planet to warm further and impacting on all aspects of life on earth," said WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud, in a statement issued Tuesday. "Future emissions will only compound the situation."

On Sunday, the World Bank issued a report suggesting that the climate could warm a full 4 degrees by the end of the century -- less than 90 years from now -- even if countries fulfill the modest emissions-reduction pledges they've already made.

A 4-degree uptick in temperatures is significantly higher than what has long been deemed the maximum amount -- 2 degrees Celsius, or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit -- that average global temperatures could rise while still maintaining a climate similar to that in which human civilization has evolved.
Obama held a press conference post election, and one aspect of it truly floored me. When asked a question on Climate change, he didn't even pretend to try, be basically said, yeah things are bad in other areas and I want to focus on them. If that's what we can expect from his second term, we're in some serious shit.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Most Important Labor Action in Years Approaches

It's really hard to come up with enough superlatives to describe how important these black Friday strike at Walmarts are for workers rights in the United States. Josh Eidelson: (who has been amazing in his coverage of these strikes)

Weeks into a wave of historic strikes, and days before a planned Black Friday showdown, Walmart has filed a National Labor Relations Board charge alleging that the pickets are illegal and asking for a judge to shut them down. Walmart is no stranger to the NLRB: labor groups have filed numerous charges there accusing the retail giant of punishing or threatening activist workers, including dozens over the past few months. But this charge is the first one filed by the company in a decade. It will pose a decision for a judge and, even sooner, for the Labor Board’s Obama-appointed acting general counsel, who’s been a lightning rod for past Republican attacks.

The National Labor Relations Board, created by the 1935 National Labor Relations Act, is tasked with enforcing and interpreting private sector labor law. Walmart’s charge, filed Thursday night and reported by Reuters Friday evening, sets two processes in motion. The first, which could take months, is the full investigation and resolution of the allegation, beginning with fact-finding by board agents based in Walmart’s backyard (NLRB Region 26, which covers Arkansas and three other states). The second, which could advance as soon as this week, is the decision whether to grant an injunction restricting strikes against Walmart while the investigation proceeds. Experts say NLRB Acting General Counsel Lafe Solomon would have final say over whether the board seeks the injunction; if it does, a district court judge will decide whether to grant it.

While the NLRB is most often criticized by conservatives, its swiftest and strongest remedies are devoted to restricting unions. Federal law requires the NLRB to prioritize employers’ allegations of illegal picketing over other charges, and to request an injunction to stop the picketing if it finds “reasonable cause” to believe such allegations are correct, and expects to issue a complaint (the equivalent of an indictment). So injunctions restricting picketing are often granted within a few days of workers’ going on strike (in contrast, workers who allege they were fired for their union activism often wait for months, injunction-less, to find out whether they’ll get their jobs back). Experts say that, if Walmart has strong enough evidence, an injunction could potentially be issued in time to block Black Friday pickets. But that’s a very big “if.”

Not only would these black Friday strikes deal a economic/PR blow to Walmart on their busiest day of the year, but they would empower other Walmart workers across the country who face the same issues on the job. Go do and to see if there is anything you can do to support a store on Black Friday. If you live in the DC area, I know that the Hyattsville Walmart will have workers out on strike. Even stopping by with some donuts or coffee would be a big help.  These people are working minimum wage jobs, and risking what little pay and security they have this Friday. Their courage should inspire us all.

Monday, November 19, 2012

No Country On Earth Would Tolerate This!

Well said Sahar.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Israel in the Process of Destroying Gaza. Again.

A good recap of how we got where we are::

Shortly after the return of Gilad Shalit, I drafted a proposal to the Government of Israel and Hamas to enter into a long term ceasefire arrangement based on the assumption that, for the time being, neither side was interested in engaging in renewed warfare. The assumption was well founded and based on the experience that I gained directly in helping to arrange a ceasefire between Israel and Gaza after the terrorist attack across the Sinai border in August 2011, while the Shalit negotiations were taking place.

Repeated rounds of rocket fire over the following year yielded the same results with both sides seeking a ladder to step down and avoid full escalation, which would not bring any political or military gains. Since that time, with the exception of the last round of violence two weeks ago, the rocket fire from Gaza was launched after a pre-emptive Israeli strike against terror cells. Based on Israeli intelligence information, pre-emptive strikes were conducted primarily against cells from the Islamic Jihad and the popular resistance committees. Hamas almost always sat on the sidelines and allowed the other factions in Gaza to shoot their rockets until the price in human life became too high. At that point, Hamas urged the Egyptians to intervene to secure a return to calm. In the last rounds, Hamas, under pressure from its public, joined in the shooting of rockets—but it almost always aimed its rockets at open spaces in Israel and their damage was minimal. It was clear to all involved that Hamas was not interested in escalating the situation and for its own reasons and agreed to impose the ceasefire on all of the other factions, and on itself.

The key actor on the Hamas side was Ahmed Jaabari, the commander of Ezedin al Qassam, the military wing of Hamas. When he was convinced that Israel was ready to stand down as well, Jaabari was always ready to take the orders to force the ceasefire on all of the other factions and on Hamas.
Both Israel and Hamas had decided months ago not to take action on my proposed ceasefire option, which included within it a mechanism that would prevent Israeli pre-emptive actions and would enable Hamas to prove that it was prepared to prevent terror attacks against Israel. Both sides responded very seriously to the proposal, but without any signal that there was an openness on the other side, neither was willing to advance the possibility for testing it.

Several weeks ago, I decided to try once again and, through my counterpart in Hamas, we both began speaking to high level officials on both sides. A few days ago I met my counterpart in Cairo and we agreed that he would draft a new proposal based on our common understanding of what was required to make it work.

Yesterday morning, hours before Israel assassinated Ahmed Jaabari, my counterpart in Hamas presented the draft to Jaabari and to other Hamas leaders. Senior Hamas leaders on the outside had already seen it and had instructed him to check the reactions to it in Gaza. I was supposed to receive the draft yesterday evening to present to Israeli officials who were waiting for me to send it to them.

That option is now off the table. Jaabari is dead and so is the chance for a mutually beneficial long term ceasefire understanding. Why did Benjamin Netanyahu do it? The cynical answer already offered by Aluf Benn in Haaretz is elections consideration. Cast Lead was also conducted before elections. Hitting Jaabari, according to Netanyahu’s thinking, would help him in the upcoming Israeli elections. Perhaps this is true, perhaps not.
This government doesn't make any attempts at peaceful solutions because the know they don't have to. This is was going to lead to more violence. This is smartly said, by the President of the Palestine Center:
Israel's assassination today will only lead to further escalation and put civilians on both sides at great risk while doing little to change the dynamics on the ground. Israel's horrendous war on Gaza in 2008-9, which left more than 1,400 Palestinians dead, most of them civilians, and massive destruction in its wake did little to change the situation except to create more anger amongst Palestinians towards the policies of Israel. Truces and diplomacy however, brokered by third parties, have been more successful. Given this reality, it is hard to explain Israeli behavior as being dictated by anything other than the personal political interests of Israeli leaders seeking re-election in the coming months. It is certain than an unacceptable number of casualties will be created and little will change in terms of the dynamics of fire when the smoke finally clears.
For the millionth time that this has been mentioned on this blog, the United States funds this and allows this to happen. The truth is that if the US wanted this to stop, they could end it. Please keep that in mind as you see the horrifying images of this bombing campaign on the news.

Mitt Romney: Still the Worst

Very excited for the prospect of him leaving out lives forever:
Mitt Romney has a simple explanation for donors as to why his presidential campaign came up short: President Obama gave out too much stuff.

According to reports in the Los Angeles Times and New York Times, the former Republican nominee said during a call with donors on Wednesday that Obama had been “very generous” in doling out “big gifts” to “the African American community, the Hispanic community and young people” as well as to women throughout his first term. Benefits such as access to “free health care,” guaranteed contraceptive coverage, more affordable student loans, and “amnesty for children of illegals,” all combined to give the president a decisive edge in popularity.

“The President’s campaign focused on giving targeted groups a big gift — so he made a big effort on small things,” Romney said. “Those small things, by the way, add up to trillions of dollars.”
Yep. Gifts. Not everyone can "earn" all the privilege and wealth that you get when you're born as the son of a CEO massive company/Governor/Presidential candidate. Good riddance.

The Grand Bargain Marches On

This is a sign of how far down the road we are with Medicare and Social Security cuts in the Grand Bargain:
As part of an event with the Wall Street Journal and corporate leaders, Rep. Chris Van Hollen (MD) — a leading Democrat and ranking member of the House Budget Committee — indicated that he thinks cuts to Social Security and Medicare benefits should be part of the upcoming deficit negotiations:
On Capitol Hill, it isn’t clear how strenuously Democrats will resist cutting entitlements. Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D., Md.) said he and others were open to changes as long as they were done in a measured way and were part of deal that included tax increases. Mr. Van Hollen also said changing Social Security and increasing the Medicare eligibility age above 65 should be part of negotiations. “I’m willing to consider all of these ideas as part of an overall plan,” Mr. Van Hollen said Tuesday at the Journal’s CEO Council.
Van Hollen is in the house leadership, has higher ambitions, and is no dummy. He would not be talking like this if the framework of a deal wasn't in the works.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Surveillance State Eats Itself

That title stolen from a tweet by Glenn Greenwald, but I really do find this aspect of the Petraeus thing hilarious. Atrios:
Kind Of Obvious but I haven't seen it said yet. Looks like a corrupt abuse of the surveillance state took down the CIA chief.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


Paul Ryan:
In his first interview since losing the election, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) wouldn’t admit that voters rejected his economic vision and instead chalked up President Obama’s victory to a large turnout of the “urban vote.” “I don’t think we lost it on those budget issues, especially on Medicare, we clearly didn’t lose it on those issues,” Ryan to local station WISC-TV. “I think the surprise was some of the turnout, some of the turnout especially in urban areas, which gave President Obama the big margin to win this race.”
Hmmm... the urban vote! WHAT COULD HE POSSIBLY MEAN????

Thursday, November 8, 2012

What happens to the Republican Party?

(Photo from Romney Rally in Lancaster, OH - Via this post of racist signs about Obama)

This has been a question that has been batted around after Tuesday's results, and I think it's a pretty interesting one. First off, we should point out that there are no permanent majorities and anytime a victory leads to talk of wins for a GENERATION that's the first sign that it will never happen. On the other hand, this election, even more so than 2006, 2008 and 2010 has shown some of the real fractures and long term weaknesses in the republican coalition.

So what happens?

Well, first, let's quickly look at what needs to happen long term: The GOP needs to purge the racists from their midst, and move away from anti-gay, anti-women, anti-latino and anti-science/math positions. Why? Because if they don' t they will cease as a viable political party as demographics change.

What will actually happen?

Well, none of the things above, at least any time soon. The biggest misconception out there right now is all the important Republicans will go back to DC, agree they went a bit to far, change all their positions to something more respectable and all will be fine again. This won't happen for several reasons:

1) Changing the fundamental makeup of a political coalition isn't like flipping a switch, it's like turning around a tanker. So for starters, it's not possible for any of these changes to take place immediately even if people actually wanted to make them!

2) In order for change to occur, your coalition needs to be somewhat open to that change. If you've dedicated your life to anti gay or anti-immigrant work, you didn't wake up on Wednesday and realize you've had it wrong this whole time. This is how the Republican base feels. When Obama came out in favor of gay marriage, there was no backlash because the vast majority of Democrats already supported gay marriage. When John McCain cosposored immigration reform, the bill was killed because of anger from conservatives freaking out house republicans. Conservatives don't want immigration reform any more than they did 6 years ago. These are not beliefs that will magically going to go away overnight.

3) And that is the major problem here: These racists, anti-immigrant, anti-science, anti-women people are the republican base. And Republicans need them to get reelected. You need constituencies to stay in power in politics, and while the rest of the country is moving in a more progressive direction in all these ways, the republican base shows no signs of doing so. I firmly believe that plenty of the republicans elected to DC don't even believe half the vile BS they're spewing, but they need to keep those constituencies happy in order to not get primaried out of a job.

4) More than any other factor, politicians care about one thing: losing their jobs. If you're a Republican right now, the biggest fear of losing your jobs doesn't come from people pointing out that you're a racist, it comes from the tea party wing of the party that has successfully knocked out multiple popular Republican incumbents who where cruising to reelection. For two straight cycles, tea party primary challenges have prevented the Republican party from achieving control of the senate. These people literally give no fucks. If you were in the position of moderate Republicans, wouldn't you fear them too?

If anyone doubts how deep the crazy resides in their base, please rewatch the Republican primary debates. Booing gay soldiers. Booing Rick Perry's support of the Texas dream act. Cheering "let him die". This IS the Republican party. These aren't views that will change over time, the only thing that will change over time is the people.

The Republican party will eventually evolve and break free of the bigoted neanderthals who are currently driving the ship. That change will come in 20-30 years, not because the GOP wised up and put a few more non-white faces on stage at their convention, but because in 20-30 years, most of the current Republican base will be dead.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Post Election Thoughts

Alright, everyone take a deep breath. A few quick thoughts on last night (written at 2 AM so try to stay with me):
  • An absolute ass kicking at the presidential level. As of now, Mitt Romney has one swing state total.
  • Major sea change victories on state propositions: Gay Marriage in MD, ME and WA as well as Marijuana legalization in CO and WA. The first time these issues have ever won on a ballot, and I think it is a sign of things to come. Sanity on both gay rights and the drug war are major, major progressive wins.
  • The Senate: Holy crap. North Dakota!!! Both Rape twins losing! I'm usually one who argues that we shouldn't be too quick to celebrate how right wing republicans have become, but this is the second straight election cycle where their embrace of unelectable crazy people has cost them a shot at controlling the senate. Amazing.
  • The quality of people elected matters, especially in the senate where it's much more important to have strong advocates than back bencher Ds. Elizabeth Warren and Tammy Baldwin (The first openly gay, female senator) both fit that bill. And especially Warren. A senator who has made her career fighting the banks? Yes please.
  • World's worst human Allen West loses.
  • California: Pass prop 30 (increase in tax on rich, sales tax, to fund education) and defeat prop 32 (anti union bill that stops political contributions). The push back on the 2010 anti-union wave continues.
  • I'm sure more will be written about this, but Obama (and Brown's) win in Ohio I think are still the after effects of SB5. That push may have burned Republicans in that state for a generation.
This strikes me as a broad victory for progressives in many ways, much more than the presidential race that got all the attention. Onward!

The Question We're All Asking This Morning

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

ToT Predicts: Further Predictions!

Electoral Predictions! Fun! Excitement! Being Wrong!

Obama wins. 303-235. 51 - 46 Popular vote.

Swing states
Obama Wins: Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Virginia
Romney Wins: North Carolina, Florida (FL will be too close to call tonight)

Democratic Wins: Massachusetts, Ohio, Wisconsin, Connecticut, Indiana, West Virginia, Virginia, Montana
Republican Wins: Nebraska, Nevada, Arizona, Missouri (that's right, the legitimate rape guy is winning, I'm calling it)
Douche Wins: Maine (Get ready to hear a lot about Agnus King on this blog. He's like Joe Lieberman's douchiness with Joe Manchin's intelligence)

Democrats pick up 10 seats, remains in Republican control.

One More Prediction
While you would assume that Republicans would take this loss (or the fact that if they hadn't nominated crazy people they would have had control of the senate both in 2010 and 2012) as a wakeup call that many of their ideas are very unpopular. That will not happen. There will be one, overwhelming takeaway from the right after this election: That they lost because Mitt Romney wasn't conservative enough, or wasn't a real conservative. Take it to the bank.

Important Note
When Ohio is called for Obama, the election is over, even if news networks are saying otherwise. My prediction is that both the state and the election get called around 9:20.

In housekeeping news, there won't be a liveblog unless on of our other blogmates decides to start one up and manage it. Why? Because I'm in a grad school program for public policy, and I have class tonight. If that doesn't make sense to you, you're not the only one, but doesn't seem to be a way I can get out of this one. I'll be on twitter after 10, and maybe will be able to set something up. Otherwise, I'll put up an open thread, or take your thoughts to twitter as well. Put your predictions in the comments if you've got any.

See you all later tonight as the madness unfolds!

ToT Predicts: Electoral Predictions and Political Hacks for a Day 2012

Rb’s Predictions, filled out at Based on a sabermetric analysis of Bryce Harper and RGIII’s WHIP average. And also I spoke with the Ghost of Tim Russert (RIP).


2012 prediction


Great find by Digby:

There's a reason why the right is doing everything in their power to stop you from voting.

Don't let them win. Vote.

And if you're in Maryland be sure to vote for prop 4 (the MD Dream Act) and Prop (Marriage Equality).

And if you're in Montgomery County, vote no on prop B, which limits the collective bargaining rights of police officers. The county thinks it's so important that they're using taxpayer money to hire canvasers to astroturf support for this bill. Be sure to do your part to defeat it.

Monday, November 5, 2012

In DC Pundit World, It's Only White People That Count

Here's Josh Marshall:
From an article just out from Politico
If President Barack Obama wins, he will be the popular choice of Hispanics, African-Americans, single women and highly educated urban whites. That’s what the polling has consistently shown in the final days of the campaign. It looks more likely than not that he will lose independents, and it’s possible he will get a lower percentage of white voters than George W. Bush got of Hispanic voters in 2000.

A broad mandate this is not.
As I’ve written many times before, the second rate product. If this is a subject that interests you, I’d encourage you to read the piece I linked right there.

Or to be more specific, Obama’s winning but not with the best votes. I mean really, if you can’t win with a broad cross-section of white people, can you really be said to represent the country? Really.
Well said.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Voter Suppression

This needs to be said often, and by anyone who has the ability to speak to a wider audience. And I have to say, voting rights need to be our "which side are you on" moment with the current GOP for any of our friends that lean conservative on some issues. If you support this republican party, you're supporting coordinated, state by state efforts to stop people from voting. They are at war against our democracy, on purpose, and with devastating effects.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Economy is Turning Around, Just Very Slowly

With today's jobs report (read Jared Bernstein for more on that), the scariest chart in the world from Naked Capitalism has been updated:

We're getting there, just extremely slowly.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Most Political Punditry is Completely Worthless

Not all of it obviously, but I'm mainly talking about things you see on TV that don't involve Chris Hayes and things you read in print that aren't Nate Silver.

And when I say it's worthless, I'm not saying that all talking about elections is worthless. It just means that people saying things that go directly against the available data measuring this stuff because it makes the race more interesting. The last couple of weeks online have led to a clash between the Nate Silver/other political modelers going up against the politico/morning joe version of the world. Basically after Romney got a bounce post 1st debate, the political media worked itself into a froth claiming the race was now 50/50 and a complete toss up. The problem, according to those that actually study polling data, was that while Romney had improved in most swing states, he was still trailing in almost all the keys states needed to win, especially Ohio, the most crucial of them all. Yet most of the political media didn't care, writings stories day after day about how tight the race was, when it was clear for weeks since that debate that Romney had moved no closer to actually winning the presidency.

If you're looking for an example of worthless journalism that I'm talking about, read this article from the SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER, (the person in charge of reporting politics) for the Washington Post. It starts explaining Obama's polling lead in Ohio, and you think it might be going in the logical direction... BUT THEN:
After reviewing all of the available public polling data as well as talking to operatives in both parties about the private polls they are privy to, we are convinced that Ohio is a 1-3 point race in President Obama’s favor at the moment.

That — coupled with the state’s electoral history and the absolute necessity for Romney to win the state if he wants to be president — leads us to move it back to the “tossup” category.

Put simply: Ohio today has much more in common with Iowa, Florida, New Hampshire and Virginia (all “tossups” in the Fix rankings) than it does with New Mexico and Minnesota (“lean Obama” states in the Fix rankings).
Seriously look at those sentences, split apart.

Sentence 1: Obama is leading by 1-3 points consistently in all polls, and based on all the information we have at our disposal.

Sentence 2: Because Romney "needs to win the state", Chris Cillizza, the lead politics reporter for the Washington Post, has decided that the state should be considered a tossup.

Sentence 3: Ohio has more in common with the states we're calling tossups than the ones we are calling "lean Obama". What do they have in common? Why is any of this relevant to how the state will vote? Why is it more important than the ACTUAL DATA, SITTING RIGHT THERE AT YOUR DISPOSAL???

These are the jokes that report our election coverage. Why do they do this? Mainly because they provide absolutely no value at all to the coverage of politics and elections, so they bullshit like this to pretend that they do. Would people be less informed if somehow the politics section of the post was missing one day? No, actually they'd be better informed by not reading garbage analysis and made up story-lines that have no basis in reality. The sooner this type of political coverage goes away, the better.

It All Comes Down To Ohio

Get excited people! (mainly Kari)
So, in other words, we need to abolish the electoral college.

Happy Halloween

From my new favorite site "fuck yeah Springfield":