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January 08, 2008


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Bernard Guerrero

Dullsville, baby. CDS prices on CFC gap out, rumors are flying that they're gonna BK and you buy 10 minutes before a trading halt, whereupon the Tan Dude comes out and says "All Is Well!"....my frickin' heart is still pounding. :^)

Noel Maurer

All of you morons with the bets: have you thought of, like, donating to a campaign?

For crying the **** out loud. You, in Armenia, I can give you a link.

I've got $2300 saying that Obama goes all the way. Plus the value of labor time. Talk to you tomorrow.


I only make bets when my expected loss is zero. Doug knows this. It's a rhetorical maneuver. (Though I can always use the $50.)

Bernard Guerrero

"I only make bets when my expected loss is zero."

How do I interpret this? Better than even chance of winning the big show, but significant non-zero chance of getting shot?


Very high chance of winning the big show, but a significant non-zero chance of getting shot. (Or blown up: our far-right terrorists like that too.) Like I said, I can always use the $50.

Everything I've seen indicates that Obama's organization has got inside Clinton's decision loop, from GOTV to fundraising... which, incidentally, is a strike against Clinton as presidential nominee in itself. I suppose a link to David Brooks blithering about the Oakeshottian importance of not planning would be humorous here.

It helps that there are attacks Clinton can't (or possibly, shouldn't) make for structural reasons. I find this very satisfying. Putin, who studied judo, would understand.

Andrew R.

"Or blown up: our far-right terrorists like that too."

Uh, Carlos, as far as terrorists go, our home-grown Nazis are usually the top contenders for "world's lamest." Most of their cells are made up of FBI informers, and their plots usually fail.

But then, you knew that already. So I'm not sure why you would think that any of those clowns has the competence to even get close.

Will Baird

So, Carlos, thoughts on the Primary? :D

Doug M.

Noel: what makes you think we haven't already?

Note for future reference if you ever live overseas: Democrats Abroad is an incredibly annoying organization. Moderately effective -- much better than its Republican counterpart, AFAICT -- but, well, annoying. Probably deserves a post of its own some day, when the dust has settled.

Doug M.


Andrew, there's more than a bit of far right violence which passes under the radar. For the most part, it gets handled in the police blotters. Racially motivated shootings, arson, that sort of thing. No overarching organization. For that matter, as best can be determined, Timothy McVeigh wasn't part of a larger organization.

The crazy days of the 1990s, where you'd have an attempted bombing or arson of an abortion clinic or a black church every month -- and who remembers the 1990s _that_ way? -- they've ebbed. Some commentators have paired the decline with the Republican ascendancy. If so, it's not a result of Republican expertise in counter-terrorism, which is abysmal.

Will, I like primaries. If you can peel back the dross of the press, you can see how the sausage is made, and if you're lucky, how the personalities function under stress.

The problem is that the primaries are now about the media reporting on the primaries. Oh, dude! Forgot to suggest a book on your blog: _In the Context of No Context_, by George Trow. It's annoying and I don't agree with most of it, and yet I keep coming back to it. It's on generational vapidity and the decline of content. He uses Family Feud as a metaphor for the modern media. The more recent paperback has a crappy later essay fronting it; but older editions have his profile of Atlantic Records mogul Ahmet Ertegun, which is very cool.

Anyway. dross of the press. Do you watch sports? Most football commentators use scripts. Since live analysis is hard, they use a pre-written narrative, not word for word, but bullet point for bullet point, to guide their commentary. When a game goes in an unexpected direction, you can often hear them struggle until their staff hurriedly puts together a new talking point.

But football is a game, and sports commentators have very little effect on play. Media coverage of electoral politics, however, is reflexive, mirrored back on itself.

So, geez, finding out something very basic about the campaign -- e.g., how are the voters getting to the polling places? -- is swamped by people going "OMG Hillary cried what is everyone else saying about it?" Not only is this inane, but it affects how people perceive the candidates.

Anyhow! Late, and I thought I would go to sleep early tonight. Too keyed up from Google Maps.

Will Baird

"Do you watch sports?"

Not at all. The political commentary has been interesting for its lack of content.

My uncle, the one on the right in the most recent extended family pic up on the blog, is an editor at the Press Democrat. We had a very interesting discussion of the decline of the media at the NY party. The quality of reporting, even at the local level, has fallen badly and probably won't get up. He's maintaining that most local papers won't survive past another five years. Esp his own.

I tried to turn the discussion around from doom and gloom into what to do instead. That didn't out so work well.

I'm going to have to take a look at the book you recommend.

As for the primaries, I have to say that the thought has crossed my mind that Romney might take the Repugnant Party nom by being consistently second in all the states while the others smash and grab the top spots almost at random. weird thought that.

Anyways, onwards! Ought to be fun. In a twisted sort of way. ;)

Doug M.

Will, while that's theoretically possible, it's not the way to bet. Most primary elections give a big award of delegates to the winner. Each state has its own way of divvying up the delegates, but the most common pattern is winner-take-all by Congressional district, then the at-large delegates awarded proportionately.

Here's a concrete example. Michigan votes next Tuesday, right? Well, 57 of Michigan’s 60 delegates to the Republican convention are allocated to the candidate receiving the most votes. Forty-five of those 57 are allocated to the candidate receiving the most votes in each of the state’s 15 Congressional districts, while 12 are allocated proportionally to the candidates based on the statewide vote. Three additional unpledged delegates are selected from among party leaders at a state convention in February.

So. Let's say McCain wins Michigan with 32%, Romney comes in second with 28%, and Huckabee-Giuliani-Fred-Ron split the remaining 40%. A close-run thing... but if McCain wins statewide, he'll probably "win" (meaning, get the most votes) in most of the Congressional districts too. So, he'll probably claim at least 25 of those 45 delegates, along with 4 of the at-larges. Romney will get maybe 12 of the district delegates, plus 3 at-larges. So, while their vote totals will be 32% vs. 28%, their delegate counts will be more like 29 vs. 15.

Note also that contining to not-win will have a painful effect on a candidate's campaign. Romney can self-finance for a while, but he's not Bill Gates; he can't make it through the entire primary season without a lot of campaign contributions, and those will start drying up if he doesn't win one soon.

It is theoretically possible for a candidate to collect a lot of delegates by coming in second everywhere. But it's never happened, and it's probably not the way to bet.

Doug M.

Noel Maurer

Carlos: Dispassion is good. No chance of misinterpretation.

This race is very far from over. I'm disappointed, because I was hoping for several months of Democratic unity while the Republicans have a prolonged food fight. But you can't always get what you want.

Substantively, I prefer Obama for three reasons. (1) Clinton has a knee-jerk hawkery about her that worries me. (2) Obama can manage the legislature and use the bully pulpit more effectively. Clinton sometimes seems to be running for Prime Minister, which is a problem, because, like, the U.S. won't have one unless the person at the head of the ticket can pull in 60 senators, and maybe not even then. (3) The only issue where I think Obama is wrong, mandates, is not a particularly major one.

Emotionally, though ... well. First, I don't like dynasticism. High ick factor. What are we, Argentina?

Second, because I've spent lots and lots of time, like, outside of the U.S., I am well aware that electing a woman is rather less than historic. Argentina, Britain, Chile, India, Ireland, Nicaragua, Panama ...

Third, repeat preliminary clause in above sentence, electing a non-white child of immigrants in an immigrant nation is a historic game-changer. I'd be inspired if Australia or Britain or France did the same, so will millions of people inside the U.S. and without.

Which isn't to say that the U.S. won't elect a non-white child of immigrants within the next twelve years. The problem is that if he's not named Barack Obama he'll probably be named ... Bobby Jindal.

Repeat, "high ick factor."

Noel Maurer

Oh, say, Carlos: this post really should be tagged "US Politics," not "Politics."

Andrew R.

Carlos, I don't know if Republican ascendancy has much to do with the waning of the various Nazi types--after all, they positively loathe Bush. As for their overall effectiveness, even the police-blotter stuff seems mainly to be of the "lone thug attacking unsuspecting victims" variety, which doesn't really translate into being able to get at a well-guarded presidential candidate.

Noel, the thing about "reflexive hawkishness" is that there's a pretty significant distinction between "being able to back up diplomacy with the threat of force" and "blundering into the conquest of a country without laying any of the necessary groundwork and relying on the say-so of a man wanted for bank fraud that it will all turn out okay."

Noel Maurer

Andrew: agreed. Hillary would make a fine president.

But ...

I am cheesed off at Bill's recent comments. Must ... relax.


Andrew, when you look at the pattern of political assassinations in this country, they're usually disorganized people who managed to get through the cracks. The last real conspiracy, IMS, was Booth's.

Look at the (unsolved) anthrax mailings, or the 2002 sniper attacks around Washington, D.C. -- which went on for weeks! a year after a major terrorist attack on the city! and were performed by idiots! I mean, they were caught because a trucker saw them sleeping in their car in a rest area.

(And gah. can you imagine what that car smelled like?)

True, no one has flown a plane into the White House since 1994.


"Second, because I've spent lots and lots of time, like, outside of the U.S., I am well aware that electing a woman is rather less than historic. Argentina, Britain, Chile, India, Ireland, Nicaragua, Panama ..."

Um. Germany?

Just saying.

Doug M.

Nonwhite son of immigrants in an immigrant nation: Alberto Fujimori. Didn't much change the game in Peru, alas.

Sarkozy is the son of immigrants, one of whom never did learn to speak good French.

Thatcher and Major were both goddamn weird in the context of their time and place. Major maybe more so. Not many circus acrobats become Conservative politicians, and fewer still rise to the top. It's as if Skunk Baxter of the Doobie Brothers had won his Congressional race, and then gone on to the Oval Office. (Of course, as various people pointed out, young Major ran away from the circus to become a bank clerk.) Did they end up changing the game in Britain, or even for the Tories?

Not to say it wouldn't be A Huge Deal if Obama were to go the distance. It would.

Something that doesn't much get discussed: Obama and HRC have a lot of things in common. Most obviously, they're both focused, driven overachievers. Obama was President of Harvard Law Review and graduated Magna Cum Laude; that's not just chops, but a particular kind of chops.

Am I the only person who's interested in Obama the grinding technocrat? The Iowa Speech didn't do it for me; I loved the first two minutes and then found my attention wandering. But I love the fact that he's already dropping slogans from Nevada labor unions -- translated from the Spanish -- into his speeches. It makes me think that, as President, he'd do his homework.

Doug M.

Andrew R.

Okay, you have a point on the the issue of disorganized lone nuts.


Dude, that's the main reason I'm interested in Obama. That, and the savoir faire which he handled being videotaped by some wingnut operative [googles: Justin Warfel] every non-bathroom minute of his Senate campaign.

Noel Maurer

Yes, Germany! I left an ellipsis because I knew I was missing places. Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Jamaica, Dominica, and Israel, just off the top of my head.

Counter-nitpick, as I'm sure you expected: Peru is not an immigrant nation. It is a country that received a few immigrants during a rather brief historical period; so is Mexico. Unless you want to stretch the definition of "immigrant nation" to the point of meaninglessness, it's doesn't test of the hypothesis.

Now, Fujimori did in fact change the game in Peru, and his victory had repercussions in Bolivia, but that was because he put a nail in the coffin of the racial caste system.

A Japanese-Brazilian or a Chinese-Cuban would have been a different story, of course ... although for many reasons I don't think they would have had much impact outside their home nations.

Sarkozy is precisely why I added "non-white." He wasn't an oversight! That said, his appointments have had a much bigger impact in France than most Americans would appreciate.

Kinda confused on the Thatcher and Major points.

Still, like you said, we agree.

And Obama as wonk: you know he's working the phones to Kenya right now? He is. And he's done some serious homework. Saying how I know this would be unfair.

It's not something that I'd ranked highly in my assessment of the man, but I may have just taken it for granted.


Second, because I've spent lots and lots of time, like, outside of the U.S., I am well aware that electing a woman is rather less than historic.

In a world context? Sure, not historic at all. Here in the U.S.? Still a damn big deal.

(Someone made the point recently that there seems to be a disconnect between older and younger feminists w.r.t. Hillary; the older ones think "it's about damn time a woman was a serious candidate", the younger ones think that it won't be that long before there'll be another one, so they're okay with not supporting Hillary.)

Jussi Jalonen

There's yet another country that's missing from the list, but never mind. I'm bloody tired of the lady in question already.

(It's easy to elect women to positions of power. For the same reason, it's probably very difficult to get rid of them once they've become useless.)

Incidentally, excluding the various monarchies of the world, the country in question was also the first one to have woman as the Head of State and another woman as the Head of Government, simultaneously.

The one and the only reason why that was "historic" was because it didn't work out so well, and lasted only for slightly over two months, due to the Iraq-leak.


J. J.


Noel, Jindal is Catholic. A small problem given the composition of the Republican coalition.

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