Thursday, September 27, 2012

Friday's Fillibusters: Skewed Polls Edition

Where we're very surprised that Dennis Pitta had 0 catches...

So, I've gotten increasingly frustrated by the claims that the polls are skewed because they are polling more Democrats than there are actual Democrats in the country.  Public Policy Polling tweeted that this idea of the skewed polls is just an extension of the ideas after the 2008 election that Obama used ACORN to steal the election.  The skewed polls idea is brought about by a person who founded a Conservative paper when he was in college. Most people that I know that have brought up the idea of skewed polls are very Conservative.  The skewed poll narrative states that Democrats are being overrepresented in the polls compared not only to national population but to the Republicans, too.  I hesitate linking to this idea out of principle, but whatever. It's incorrect, first of all, according to exit polls used by CNN.  I showed this in a previous post. He states that the electorate is made up of "two percent more Republicans than Democrats."  According to the exit polls from the 2008 election, the electorate was 39% Democrats, 32% Republicans, and 29% Independents.  He's complaining that the polls are oversampling Democrats because it is 8% more Democrats than Republicans.  Basing his assumption that the nation is 2% more Republican than Democratic, is leading to his conclusion.  He does not provide the link to show that the country is more Republican than Democratic so I'm basing my assumption on the exit polls from the 2008 presidential election, instead.  My assumption is he is basing his claim on exit polls from the 2010 mid-term election, which if you remember, was part of the Tea Party Wave.  Is that an accurate representation of the electorate?  Probably not.  The out party almost always wins mid-term elections.  Especially when things are not going too well.  But, oh well.  Gallup has a much more thoughtful response, found here.  Gallup's response kind of poo-poos my response, too, but I'm fine with it. 

Nate Silver has been critical of this idea of the skewed polls, too.  Especially in his twitter feed.  His tweets have included such gems as "believing that all of the polls except Rasmussen are skewed is literally as insane as believing 9/11 conspiracy theories", "the polls could definitely be overestimating Democratic turnout.  However, just as likely, they could be underestimating it."  "Another fun tidbit: in states that actually have voters register by party, 41.5M Democrats and 29.8M Republicans."  "Are the polls undersampling Romneys?"  "What's turnout going to be like?  WHY DON'T WE TAKE A PUBLIC OPINION SURVEY AND FIND OUT!  Not up to the pollster to decide for the voters."  I could go on for awhile on these.  Ultimately, it seems more and more like the idea is ridiculous.  But whatever.

Finally, who benefits from these skewed polls?  Let's pretend that these polls are skewed.  So, we have to ask who benefits?  If the polls are skewed, then Obama has a huge lead which he does not have.  So, a party that has a history of not showing up to the election has a large lead in the polls?  Ok, sure, that won't backfire for the Democratic nominee.  If anything, it is in the best interest of Obama and the Democratic party to skew the polls to show Romney having a large lead to try and fire up the base.  Democrats notoriously are famous for not showing up on election day so why would the leaders of the Democratic party, if they had this power, decide to give Democrats even more of a reason NOT to vote?  It's ludicrous.  Despite all of this, does this benefit the Republican party?  As one of my closest political friends stated Rush Limbaugh is not an idiot.  So, I'm piggybacking his idea.  How does this help the Republican party?  Well, the Republican party has no problem showing that Obama that they are running against is not the actual Obama.  If Obama was as powerful as the Republicans allege, Obama would be the most powerful ruler in the history of the world.  This idea that Obama has all this power is how the Republicans benefit from this.  If Republicans can show that Obama has all of this power including the power to influence polls, the media, etc. then it shows he can infringe on all of our rights.  This, in turn, fires up the base and might sway susceptible independent voters to vote against Obama.  If Obama is this powerful, if he has to influence the polls to show how well-liked he is then he must not be re-elected.  Then those who support Obama are, as one Republican on my Facebook friends list said, are retarded or Libertards. 

End of rant.

Will provide links, later.

The Domestic Policy Debate Drinking Game

I made up a drinking game to go along with the Republican presidential debates, so, of course, I have to come up with a drinking game for our real presidential debates. 

Just the initial rules:

Get lots of water ready.  Preferably cold water. Cold water is inherently more delicious than warm water.

Invite your friends over, only alcoholics drink alone.

Pull up your favorite political blog, oh wait, that's me.

Put your keys somewhere where you're not tempted to get them later. Believe me, you don't want to drive after this.

Do not blame me for getting sick from drinking too much alcohol. If you feel sick or start getting the blackout blinks, please just drink water for the remainder of the game.

In your glasses in front of you, make your favorite mixed drink or put a beer in.

Place your community hard alcohol on the table or counter for shots.

Get shot glasses ready.

Ideally, you want your mixed drinks all ready for the entire night, so you do not have to miss the debate.

Get a glass of water, ready, too.  Or your favorite chaser.  Probably best to do both.

Get ready because here we go.

The rules for each of the candidates are as follows:

Barack Obama:

"Building from the bottom up" or any variation of that phrase results in a sip from your drink.

"Obama does care" or any variation results in a sip from your drink.

Criticizing Romney for changing his stance on health care or talking about Romney's health care plan results in a shot.

Criticizing what tax loopholes might be closed or speculating on what might happen if Romney hasn't explicitly said what will happen, take a sip. This includes the repeal of Obamacare.

Obama talks about same-sex marriage, kindly take two sips from your drink.

Take a sip if/when Obama says that's why I'm running for President.

Take a shot when it's clear he's politicking.  This means that he's not answering the question or rebuttal but saying empty phrases.

Take a sip when if he says that we tried that for years and it didn't work, when they're talking about economic policy.

Take a sip of water when he mentions the middle class.

Take a sip when he talks about ending Medicare or changing it.

Take a sip of water when he shows respect to Romney by calling him Governor.

Take a sip of alcohol when he says my opponent.

Take a shot when he says the Republican nominee or Republican establishment or any variation that would include those.

Chug your bottle of alcohol if he says my robot opponent, over here.

Chug your bottle of alcohol if he claims Romney is not a true Christian because he is Mormon.

Mitt Romney:

When he talks about his book, take a sip of alcohol.

If he has to back-track to explain his flip-flops, take a shot.

"When I was governor of Massachusetts..." or any variation of that phrase, take a sip.

If his hair looks fantastic, chug a glass of water.

If he reveals specifics about a policy, take a shot.

Every mention of lowering taxes, creating jobs, getting America back to work, or any variation of those phrase, is equal to one sip of alcohol.

Every time that he claims Obama is saying something incorrect, take a sip of alcohol.

Take a sip of water when he shows respect to Obama, by calling him President.

Take a sip of alcohol when he says my opponent.

Take a shot of alcohol when he says the Democrats, the Democrat party, or the Democrat establishment or any variation of that.

Chug your bottle of alcohol if he says my black opponent, over here...

Chug your bottle of alcohol if he says that Barack Obama is not Christian but a Muslim.

Drink responsibly and don't drive.

Thursday's Trumans

Where only our links are skewed...

The true agenda of Barack Hussein Obama as described in an advertisement is mainly made up of lies.

Democratic PACs engage in lies, too.

Barack Obama has obviously engaged in martial law, oh wait, nevermind.

Nate Silver, again, stating that one of the best ways to use polls is to look at the consensus.  Going with one that bucks the consensus is the wrong horse to bet on, so to speak.  He mentions Rasmussen, in particular.  Also, the Northern strategy idea may be wrong.  Silver has also been very critical of the idea that all the polls are skewed except Rasmussen.  Please check his Twitter feed.  Also, he has criticism of the Rasmussen polls, here.

The gender gap might be historic in this election.

Monday, September 24, 2012

2008 and 2012

Nate Silver noted in one of his more recent posts that when we look at polls, it's important not to look at just one poll but a slew of the polls and see what the totality of the polls are indicating.  Despite this sound advice, I'm looking at something different today.  I'm using Gallup's poll, found here.   I'm also using the numbers found in a journal aticle by Henry C. Kenski and Kate M. Kenski called "Explaining the Vote in the Election of 2008" found in the book The 2008 Presidential Campaign: A Communication Perspective.  What we're looking at, is a comparison in key areas.  I'll try to do more of an analysis of it tomorrow, or so.

We're using the most recent Gallup poll, that I can find.  I'll be separating the two choices as R and D, R representing Republican and D representing Democrat.  The number in parantheses next to 2008 is the percentage of the total vote in 2008.

R: 46
D: 53

R: 45
D: 48

2008 (47%)
R: 49
D: 48

R: 49
D: 44

2008 (53%)
R: 43
D: 56

R: 42
D: 52

2008 (74%)
R: 55
D: 43

R: 54
D: 40

2008 (13%)
R: 4
D: 95

R: 5
D: 89

2008 (9%)
R: 31
D: 67

R: 26
D: 66

2008 (18%)
R: 32
D: 66

D: 59

My data does not agree on the other age groups, as one breaks it down 30-44, while Gallup does 30-49.  So I would not be able to include it, with any accuracy.

2008 (66%)
R: 52
D: 47

R:  53
D: 41

2008 (34%)
R: 33
D: 65

R: 34
D: 58

2008 (54%)
R: 54
D: 45

R: 53
D: 41

2008 (27%)
R: 45
D: 54

R: 44
D: 49

2008 (39%)
R: 10
D: 89

R: 5
D: 92

2008 (29%)
R:  44
D: 52

R: 44
D: 43

2008 (32%)
R: 90
D: 9

R: 92
D: 5

2008 (22%)
R: 89
D: 10

R: 11
D: 86

2008 (44%)
R: 39
D: 60

R: 33
D: 58

Conservative (34%)
R: 78
D: 20

R: 78
D: 18

Monday's Musings

Where we might have our own civil rights...

It's true that we produce more natural gas than Saudi Arabia with oil, but the reserves aren't there.

Barack Obama and Mitt Romney are distorting the truth when it comes to the middle class and mothers.

Nate Silver looks at the polling from other elections, in his newest post.

Interesting release from Public Policy Polling.  I say the word interesting a lot when describing articles.  There is a difference between something interesting and useful.  This article is probably more useful than interesting. 

A reminder as always, I don't care who you vote for, I care about why you are choosing a particular candidate.  Here's a tool that might help.   They have a database for the presidential elections and most of the congressional elections at this point.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Friday's Fillibusters

No links today. The author is a little wound up. Will try to do something over the weekend.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

One last remark about Romney's remarks

I'm not 100% sure what Romney's point was in his remarks.  I think, given the principle of charity, that his remarks were trying to be an indictment of the entitlement system, as we know it.  His smaller point of entitlements being abused and only given to Democrats, is wrong, but plays well to Republicans.  I think it's similar to the "you didn't build that" statement by Obama where people will sound dumb for taking it out of context.  I'm concerned that this campaign will be run on the idea of "you didn't build that" vs. the 47%.  Wrong statements on both sides should be criticized, though.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Thursday Teddy's

Where only 53% of you can say we built that...

Something worthwhile to read and listen to from NPR.  It's mainly about debunking myths of the Islamic faith.

WASPs are not dominating American politics, right now.

I got an e-mail from the Green Party today to wish a happy birthday to "Occupy Wall Street." Jill Stein is the presidential candidate for the Green Party.

News21 reports that there have been 10 cases of in-person voter fraud over the last 12 years.

There's arsenic in rice?

Could we see the Supreme Court rule on gay marriage?

A Romney advertisement claims Obama didn't do anything to stop China from taking manufacturing jobs.  Americans believe that the outsourcing of jobs is one of the most important reasons for a lack of jobs in  America, right now.  We'll continue to see claims about outsourcing jobs until election day.

Here's a quote from Mitt Romney at the 2008 Republican National Convention:
"Liberals would replace opportunity with dependency on government largesse. They grow government and raise taxes to put more people on Medicaid, to take work requirements out of welfare, and to grow the ranks of those who pay no taxes at all. Dependency is death to initiative, risk taking, and opportunity. It is time to stop the spread of government dependency, to fight it like the poison it is."

As one of my friends pointed out, at least Republicans can say Romney didn't change his stance on this. It has really been the centerpiece of his campaign, so far. 

Wednesday's Whigs: The 47%

After last year, I expected that the percentage that we would be talking about in this election was going to be either the 99% or the 1%.  Turns out, I was wrong.  I assume you've seen the video where Mitt Romney is talking about the 47%.  If not, I'm sure you can watch it.  Here's the transcript of what he said, that is responsible for most of the firestorm.

"There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what. And I mean, the president starts off with 48, 49, he starts off with a huge number.
These are people who pay no income tax. Forty-seven percent of Americans pay no income tax. So our message of low taxes doesn’t connect. So he’ll be out there talking about tax cuts for the rich. I mean, that’s what they sell every four years. And so my job is not to worry about those people.
I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives. What I have to do is convince the 5 to 10 percent in the center that are independents, that are thoughtful, that look at voting one way or the other depending upon in some cases emotion, whether they like the guy or not."

Alright. So we have to ask ourselves, is it true that 47% of Americans do noy pay income tax?  Well, sure.  Technically, it's 46.4% in 2011.  But sure, 47% or 46.4%, not a very big difference.  But that number is expected to be 45.6% in 2012.  In fact, it's set to decline each year that they have it projected.  Of course, Romney is only talking about federal income taxes.  The problem is that when we talk about federal income taxes, we are not talking about every tax.  The assumption people make when they hear that 47% do not pay federal income tax, is that these people do not pay tax, at all.  This is simply not true.  We can look at the handy chart that FactCheck provided via the Tax Policy Center.  FactCheck gives a better example of how these people still pay taxes, payroll taxes are " those taxes taken out of a paycheck by an employer to fund programs such as Social Security and Medicare. They also pay federal excise taxes, such as those on gasoline, and they may also pay state and local income taxes or property taxes."  28.3% of people who do not pay federal income taxes do actually pay payroll tax.  So, we still have 18.1% of people who are not paying federal income tax or payroll tax.    So, who are these 18.1% of people?  Well, thanks to the handy chart from the Tax Policy Center, we see that 10.3% are the elderly and 6.9% are individuals making less than $20,000.  So, less than 1% are the rest. 

That's one way of looking at it.  FactCheck looks at it another way.  FactCheck starts at the same place, saying that 28.3% of people are paying payroll taxes and not federal income taxes.  Instead, they look at the 18.1% of people who are not paying federal income taxes or payroll taxes.  So, let's look at them.  22% of the people who do not pay federal income taxes receive senior tax benefits which is "the extra standard deduction for seniors, the exclusion of a portion of Social Security benefits, and the credit for seniors. Most of them are older people on Social Security whose adjusted gross income is less than $25,000."  15.2% receive tax credits for children and the working poor.  That includes the child tax credit and earned income tax credit.  The child tax credit was started under Bill Clinton but doubled under George W. Bush.  The earned income tax credit was passed under Gerald Ford.  Ronald Reagan said that the earned income tax credit was "one of the best antipoverty programs this country’s ever seen.”   2/3 of households with children who earned between $40,000 and $50,000 owed no federal income taxes.  "The rest ended up owing no federal income tax due to various tax expenditures such as education credits, itemized deductions or reduced rates on capital gains and dividends. "  Most of those, are in the middle to upper income bracket.  The Tax Policy Center, in fact, estimates that 7,000 families making $1 million or more pay nothing for federal income taxes.  It's important to note that of those paying no federal income taxes, 61% are earning between $10,000 and $50,000.  42 percent of those people do have a negative liability with the government, meaning "they got a check from the federal government due to eligibility of some form of tax expenditure."  The majority of them, did not.

So, are these people going to vote for Mitt Romney, no matter what?  Probably not.  FactCheck works under the assumption that most of the people who do not pay federal income taxes are in the lower tax bracket.  Among registered voters making less than $36,000, 37% of people indicate that they would vote for Romney.  Polls say the same thing.  The Rasmussen Reports show that among people making less than $30,000 per year, Romney will receive 32% of the vote.  Among those who make $30,000-$50,000, he has 44% of the vote.  Since we should probably look at families making between $30,000-50,000, too, for a reason stated above, Romney has 32% for families making less than $30,000 and 44% for families making $30,000-$75,000.  PolitiFact rated Romney's statement as false.  The Tax Foundation put out a map based on 2008 data where they looked at who is not paying the federal income tax.  The top 10 states for not paying federal income taxes were: Mississippi, Georgia, Arkansas, New Mexico, Alabama, South Carolina, Louisiana, Texas, Florida, and Idaho.  Predominantly, these states lean Republican.

Finally, the problem with even insisting that these people believe that they are entitled to these things is that a lot of this data that is being used to disparage Barack Obama as a welfare president is data that is easily explainable because of the recession and other factors.  For instance, we've mentioned here that George W. Bush's administration actually made it easier to qualify people for food stamps. 

Important to note: The Tax Policy Center spokesperson said that the data being presented is just a snapshot of a recession year.  The number was high.  Some of the temporary tax credits enacted by Barack Obama will be gone, soon.  This is part of the reason why the Tax Policy Center projects lower amounts of people not paying federal income tax.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A problem

On the internet, we read to refute rather than comprehend.


Right after LSU got evacuated because of a bomb threat, this happened:

Tuesday's Trumans

Where we think Michael Turner is just washed-up at this point...

Did Mitt Romney say something? I can't remember...  I posted it on our Facebook yesterday, too.  But listen, yes about 47% of Americans do not pay federal income taxes.  But there are more than just federal income taxes.  About 90% of Americans pay net federal taxes, including such things as the payroll tax, among other things.  Only 10% do not pay net federal taxes.  They are members of the military, the elderly, and students. 

Mitt Romney has said some other untrue things, too.  All in all, probably not a very good week for the Romney campaign.

PolitiFact rates another promise from Obama as broken.  For those keeping track, 37% of his promises are rated as promise kept and 14% are rated as compromise.  22% are in the works and 17% are broken.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Monday's Musings

Where we hope Chris Johnson has a good game at some point...

An interesting article on how Paul Ryan convince Washington that he was an ideological leader.

Barack Obama offers a half-truth when he states that he would protect your Medicare guaranteed benefits.

Mother Jones reports that the maker of The Innocence of Muslims might be a martyr for the Right.

Slate offers a defense of Rick Santorum's sarcasm.

The Atlantic finds a study that cutting tax rates does not necessarily lead to economic growth.

The Estate Tax

I've been reading Mitt Romney's economic plan for America.  So, I'll do a series of posts on his economic plans.  Part of Mitt Romney's plan is the elimination of the estate tax. 

In December 2010, as part of the tax cut compromise, the rate of the estate tax was lowered from 45% to 35% while the exemption for the tax went up to $5 million for an individual and $10 million for a couple.  In 2009, estates valued up to $3.5 million for individuals ($7 million for couples) were exempted from the estate tax.  The estate tax was 45%.  Prior to 2001, estates for individuals up to $1 million were exempted ($2 million for couples).  The estate tax was 55%.  Romney and other Republicans have claimed that the estate tax punishes small business owners and family farms that accrued the wealth.  Under the 2009 rules, the Tax Policy Center around 2,700 family farms and businesses owed money for the estate tax.  With the 2010 rules in place, the number dropped to 40. 

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reported,"even under the 2009 rules, very few estates paid the estate tax. According to recent estimates from the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center (TPC), only 6,460 estates nationwide — one-quarter of 1 percent of estates — would have owed any estate tax in 2011 had the 2009 levels been extended; fully 99.75 percent of estates would have been passed on tax free. Thus, 99.75 percent of estates will not benefit from the more generous exemption level and lower rate instated under the tax-cut compromise."

With the new law in place, the Joint Tax Committee estimates that the cost is $68 billion to the U.S. government as opposed to allowing the prior to 2001 laws to return.  The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimated just reinstating the laws in place for the 2009 rules would save about $23 billion. 

For a more thorough explanation: click here

The estate tax is currently set to go back to pre-2001 laws in 2013.  It warrants some consideration from both sides whether it should be set at the 2009 rules, the current ones, the ones Obama proposed ($3.5 million exemption for individuals indexed for inflation), a hybrid, or the elimination of the estate tax.

For your consideration, the Tax Policy Center found that under the rules for 2009, about half of the tax is paid by large estates.  Under President Obama's proposal, 84% of the tax would be paid by estates valued at $10 million or higher.  Under the rules in place now, about 90% is paid by these same estates.  But estates that are worth over $20 million save on average about $3.5 million. 

Friday, September 14, 2012

Friday's Fillibusters

Where we drafted Matt Forte in the first round and are sad about his high ankle sprain...

Barack Obama is not entirely correct when he says that Romney's plan would deny 89 million Americans coverage due to pre-existing conditions.

This PolitiFact article is very interesting about Mitt Romney's tax plans.

Mitt Romney's comments about the embassy attacks are surprising but is it going to be the new Bain in this election?

We'll continue to have debates in this election over who gets women's votes.

The attacks in Libya and Egypt have highlighted that we need a debate about foreign policy in the United States.

During Reagan's presidency, we had an unemployment rate of over 8%, the next time we did this was under Barack Obama.  It stayed this way for 27 consecutive months.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Different reactions to the Libya and Egypt attacks from Presidential candidates

Gary Johnson running for the Libertarian party.

Barack Obama running for re-election.

Mitt Romney running for President.  Another statement made by him.

There are other people running for President...

While there are a lot of people out there who will tell you that a vote for a 3rd party is a wasted vote, I disagree.  If you want the feeling of voting for someone who has a chance of being elected, then, yes your vote would be wasted.  But your vote for a 3rd party might indicate something different.  Let's pretend for a second, that thousands of people in a safe Republican district decide to vote for Gary Johnson (Libertarian) for the presidency instead of Mitt Romney.  Let's take it further and assume that there are multiple districts that do this.  Do you not think that the Republican party might change some of their views or take notice of this?  This works the same way with other third parties.  Don't take it to mean that a vote for a 3rd party is a symbolic vote, but rather might affect change.  So, if you feel disillusioned with Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, then vote for a 3rd party.  Don't use it as an excuse not to vote. Or choose not to vote for the presidency and vote for Congressional elections and state elections.

Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, and the future of the Republican Party: Part 2

As promised, here is part two of my take of the future of the Republican party.  I'll also talk quite a bit about the interesting dynamic of the Romney/Ryan ticket. 

Let's begin.  Every political party's goal is to get elected or to hold power.  The way to do that, is to inspire your own base and to reach out to the other side.  It's a delicate balance between the two.  That's why I think that the Romney/Ryan ticket is so interesting.  It's this theory in practice.  Romney, despite what he said during the Republican primary debates, is the one who is more likely to appeal to independent voters and moderates.  The problem with his nomination is that he might run the risk of alienating his base.  For example, his health care reform act in Massachusetts, does not sit well with strict Conservative voters.  While Romney's appeal is more to the center, Ryan's nomination was meant to inspire the base. 

There is a slight digression, that I would like to have.  The assumption is that Romney would still get the Republican vote, regardless of the Ryan nomination.  This is true.  But, it's possible that members of the Tea Party would not vote for Romney or they might not be as inspired to vote for Romney.  Voter enthusiasm is something that political scientists and analysts are interested in because it might indicate who they are going to vote for or how likely they are to vote.  The more enthusiastic a person is about a candidate, the more likely, a person would vote for a particular candidate.  There's a lot of talk going on that voter enthusiasm is a lot lower this time around for Barack Obama.  I think there's only so much enthusiasm that a Republican would have voting for Romney over Obama.  But a fiscal conservative would be even more enthusiastic about voting for Romney/Ryan over Obama.  I'm running a risk here, in making this assumption.  It could be that I'm way off.

How is this indicative of the future of the Republican party?  As I see it, the Republican party is already starting to have itself splintered, a bit.  Rand Paul, pioneer of Liberal thought, has stated that the Republican party should start running with candidates who are fiscal conservatives but not as conservative on social issues and immigration issues.  Paul has stated that it's no wonder that Republicans aren't winning the presidency because they are giving up electoral votes before they even start.  The problem with running a national election for a candidate who is fiscally conservative but not as socially conservative is that you risk losing some of the Christian Evangelical vote.  This is a bigger issue, than you might think.  Christian Evangelicals represent a little over 30% of the vote and they vote Republican, primarily.  They're also the ones who show up to vote.  They are a lot more likely to vote than other people.  But they are fairly strict on who they vote for, usually, they do not like voting for candidates who are pro-choice or who are supporters of same-sex marriage.  Also, they are the ones who show up to the Republican primaries to vote.  In 2008, I believe, they were 70% of those who were voting in the Republican primaries.  So, it would be hard to even get one of these less socially conservative candidates a shot at running for president. 

As an aside, a majority of Americans are in favor of same-sex marriage.  Just under half are pro-choice. 

But, if the Republican party is running nothing but less socially conservatives, then they (the Evangelical Christians) would have no choice but to vote for someone who is less socially conservative than them.  This could splinter the Republican party, even more.  There is already some split in the Republican party that separates the Tea Party members from the entrenched Republicans.

But, it is certainly possible, and in fact, it happens that less socially conservative people are elected in district-wide and even state-wide elections as Republicans.  You don't have to look much further than the governor of Nevada, for instance. 

Electing a Republican who is pro-choice, for instance, in a national election seems impossible for the reasons stated above.  Except, if that person is on the presidential ticket as a vice-president.  But even that seems improbable.  You can already see something like that, when Mitt Romney announced that his vice-presidential nominee would be pro-life.  But I'll give you two hypothetical situations:

Hypothetical Situation #1: Mitt Romney names Brian Sandoval (governor of Nevada) as his vice-president as opposed to Paul Ryan.  The selection of Sandoval could easily enable Republicans who do not think Romney is conservative enough, to be pushed over the edge.  Instead of supporting Romney, they might splinter and decide to throw their support (money, work, votes) to another candidate.  Since it would be so late in the game, it would endanger the Republican party, quite a bit.  This move might reach to the middle but it would mobilize the base to find someone else to vote for.

Hypothetical Situation #2: Paul Ryan is the 2016 Republican presidential nominee, he elects to nominate Brian Sandoval as his running mate, realizing that he needs to reach to the center of the electorate, in order to get elected.  Would we see Republicans still continue to support Paul Ryan?  Or would they flock to a more conservative ticket?

This isn't to say that abortion is the number one deciding factor in an election.  But what I am saying is that there are plenty of people out there who hold socially liberal views and fiscal conservative views.  There are plenty of social conservatives who hold fiscally liberal views, too.  Embracing just conservative views on fiscal and social issues or just liberal views, for that matter, you are neglecting the other side.  But, in their defense, embracing is almost always political suicide.  Sandoval is the exception.  Most people casually paint candidates with whatever views the party of the candidate hold.  When Tom White was running for Congress, he announced that he was pro-life, but still people called him a pro-choice candidate because he was Democrat. 

My final point is this.  I believe the parties are headed for a split.  Primarily because of what I've talked about.  Rand Paul is right when he says that Republicans need to run more socially liberal candidates out there in the West, to have a shot.  But, would other Republicans still consider them Republicans?  Democrats need to run more socially conservative people in the mid-West to win.  But will people even look at the views of the candidate rather than the party affiliation?  That's the real question.  I think and I believe in the 2016 election, we will see both parties try to move towards the center out of necessity.  The Republicans might not nominate someone who is pro-choice but they might trot out someone like Jeb Bush who is less conservative on things like immigration.  Democrats might not run out someone who is pro-life but they might run someone out there who believes that entitlement spending needs to be cut more.  We're headed for a split in the major parties because of the hyperpartisanship of the nation.  I happen to believe that it will be the Republican party that splits first.  It will be negative for them in terms of national elections but soon the Democrats will follow, too.

Done with hyperbolic predictions.

Is Mitt Romney's nomination the "will of the people?"

Josiah gave some good reasons why Mitt Romney was selected as the Republican party's nominee, but there is a good chance that Romney was selected simply because the system is designed to select someone and Romney was essentially an arbitrary choice. Hard to believe? Maybe not, because in any system of voting there is a measure of arbitrariness. Here's an example.

Voter            First Preference      Second Preference       Third Preference
Voter 1                      A                                 B                                  C
Voter 2                      C                                 A                                  B
Voter 3                      B                                 C                                  A

In this case, if the voters vote on their options in pairs, they can get a winner. Between A and B, A will win and move on. Between A and C, C wins. So, clearly since everyone voted on it, C is the will of the people. But what if they changed the order of the voting. If they vote between A and C first, C wins but loses to B. So, is B the will of the people? The important factor in this system is not the desires of the voters, but the order of voting. This particular example is known as Condorcet's paradox.

This example was very simple, but unfortunately the fundamental problem doesn't go away when you add more voters. That was proven mathematically by economist Kenneth Arrow. In his impossibility theorem, Arrow showed with the certainty of mathematics, that there is no possible voting system that always satisfies the following principles:

1. If everyone prefers X to Y, the group prefers X to Y
2. If everyone's preference of X to Y doesn't change, the groups preference of X to Y doesn't change.
3. There is no dictator (no one person always decides the outcome)

Every system though has to have a winner, so voting systems sometimes return results that contradict principle 1 or 2.  What becomes important quite often, is the order of voting. This is a real problem when selecting nominees from a group of several candidates.

What are the implications of this? Perhaps Mitt Romney's nomination does not represent any sort of "choice" by voters, but is actually just an artifact of a flawed system. Beyond the Republicans, with this knowledge, can we really say with certainty that in 2008 the majority of Americans preferred Obama to Hillary Clinton for president, or was that just a product of our particular system? Can an elected politician really claim a "mandate" if there is a real chance that he was just the beneficiary of a flawed system?

To be clear, I am not saying that all elections are illegitimate. Sometimes our voting systems satisfy the three principles, just not always and they are most likely to fail when the elections are tightest. Sometimes, the "will of the people" is not reflected in the outcome of an election and sometimes "the will of the people" does not exist. Sometimes voting is like shaking a magic 8-ball; you'll always get an answer, but it may be nonsense and should be treated as such.

The Other Threat?


Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, and the future of the Republican party: Part 1

 This will be a very opinionated post.  If you do not like these type of posts, please do not read. I'll probably throw in some swear words, too, just because they're fun to say.  A real writer wouldn't have to use them but could effectively express anger or rage.  Another reminder that I'm not a real writer.

After the 2012 presidential election is over, we'll either have Barack Obama as the first black president to be re-elected or we'll have Mitt Romney, the first Mormon (maybe) president.  I'm going to focus this post on the assumption that Barack Obama is going to be re-elected.  This assumption is looking more and more likely, despite what Romney's advisers are saying.  Operating under this assumption allows me to venture more of a guess as to what will happen.  One caveat: while the presidential election might give us some insight on the future of the party, it will probably not be enough to draw an accurate conclusions without combining it with the results in Congressional elections.  Alright, with those notes at the beginning we'll move onto my possibly hyperbolic predictions about the future of the Republican party.

Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts and savior of the Winter Olympics, proved to be a very effective fund-raiser and using some of his own personal fortune financed his campaign.  He outraised his fellow Republicans and outspent them on the campaign.  Despite this, he lost Iowa.  He was criticized by his fellow Republicans as being a flip-flopper and was losing a majority of the Christian evangelical vote.  He campaigned on economic issues and was also seen as many as insincere.  He won the primary in Michigan.  But John McCain won Florida and eventually the Republican nomination for the presidency in 2008.  Flash forward to 2012 and you have the same thing happen except Romney wins the damn nomination.  So, what the hell changed?

Let's recap how John McCain won the 2008 Republican presidential nomination.  In the old primary system, for Republicans, they had a winner-take-all scenario for each state.  So, if the candidate was the top vote-getter in a particular state, he got all the delegates needed.  But that's not all.  The candidate, if he led the plurality would win the state and the delegates.  So, for instance if the total votes were split up between multiple candidates, the top vote-getter won the delegates.  A candidate did not need to get a majority of the votes but rather just lead the plurality.  This is part of how John McCain won the nomination.  He took advantage of the plurality which basically consisted of Mike Huckabee, Mitt Romney, and others splitting the Christian Evangelical votes and McCain was able to pick up the scraps, essentially.  McCain also focused his campaign on making it a personality campaign, where he brought up the issues that was important to him and the ones that he could win on.

In 2012, some of the states went away with their winner-take-all formats and moved to proportional delegates.  So if a candidate received 33% of the vote, they would receive 33% of the delegates, instead of the 100% if they won the state with 33% of the vote.  Not all of the states did this, but some of them did.  This was under the guise that this would allow some of the low-profile candidates to stay in the race longer and it would prolong the race because a front-runner would not be able to sew up all of the delegates, too quickly. 

In 2008, there was not a real front-runner. Rudy Giuliani was initially the favorite, but he would never appeal to social conservatives. Mike Huckabee appealed to the social conservatives and Evangelical votes.  But he was strapped for cash.  Romney was a favorite, due to his fund-raising talents and his own personal fortune.  He didn't split the Evangelical vote as most of that went to Huckabee.  Most Evangelicals responded in a poll that they would not vote for a Mormon.  There were issues of broader appeal, as well, about 30% of voters in a poll stated that they would not vote for a Mormon.  But, not everyone knew he was a Mormon.  McCain, who was down and out at one point, rebounded and secured the nomination.

In 2012, Romney was the front-runner to most.  The narrative that arose in the media was, who would become the anti-Romney?  Each Republican candidate had his/her moment in the sun as media favorites.  But unlike in 2008, no one emerged like McCain.  Pawlenty dropped out after a poor showing in Iowa.  Bachmann emerged only to announce crazy things and she fell pretty quickly.  Rick Perry was a favorite (and the person I thought would win the nomination) but a piss-poor showing at the debates hurt his stock.  Herman Cain nine-nine-nined himself back to Godfather's.  Newt Gingrich wanted to launch a moon colony and dropped out of orbit.  Rick Santorum had a debt problem and dropped out once his daughter was sick.  Ron Paul never gave up the fight and neither did his delegates.  But Romney emerged victorious.  Why?

I believe that part of this reason was that they were all fairly weak candidates.  While Romney is not the strongest candidate, in order for someone else to emerge they actually have to be a viable option.  Bachmann, Perry, and Cain proved to make too many blunders to be a viable option.  Gingrich's history as Speaker of the House and his arrogance led many to be turned off by him.  Rick Santorum was a viable option for awhile but his over the top social conservatism turned off some closer to center Republicans.  How many of these candidates are running for office in 2012? One. Bachmann is and she has a possibility of losing her district.  This was an especially bad year for Republican candidates.  Romney, by and large, won the Republican nomination because he had more money and there was no one really better than him to run.

It's not like there is a real shortage of viable Presidential candidates for the Republican party, just look at the vice-presidential power rankings to get a glimpse at who could have run.  But why didn't they want to run in 2012?  Let's set aside that the world is going to end by the end of 2012.  After the 2008 election and closer to the 2010 mid-term elections, a new faction emerged on the right, that championed fiscal conservative policies.  Their main issues seemed to center around the stimulus and Obamacare.  While these issues arose because of the Obama presidency, some established Republicans had already complained about the influence of Karl Rove among others prior to the 2008 elections.  Complaining that they shouldn't have to explain why they support gay marriage or raising taxes to help pay the deficit, these Republicans were called RINOs.  Republicans in name only.  This new faction, the Tea Party, championed that they were outsiders running for government and going to clean it up.  Some of the resentment for government officials is still there.  Unless you are one of these Tea Partiers.  I think that's part of the reason the 2012 Republican Presidential debates were littered with people who had been out of government for awhile (except Bachmann and Perry). 

But why choose Romney?  The easy answer is above.  There was not really a better candidate than Romney who was trying to secure the nomination.  On top of that, Romney had already established himself as a great fund-raiser, which would come in handy running against Obama's well-organized grassroots campaign and fund-raisers.  Romney's wealth allowed him other privileges, as well.  With Romney's well-documented history of flip-flopping, is it possible that the Republican establishment thought Romney would be able to mold into whatever candidate they wanted to trot out there?  It seems plausible.  Romney has been described by many observers as being a generic Republican.  He has been criticized by myself among others for not releasing any of his plans and lacking specificity in his campaign.  At risk of sounding like a conspiracy theorist, what if this is intentional?  If Romney is running a campaign as a generic Republican, isn't this what the Republican establishment wants?  Instead, speaking in platitudes and empty phrases allows Romney to be whatever candidate you want him to be, as opposed to the candidate he is. 

Romney named Paul Ryan as his vice-president nominee, not too long ago.  Ryan was adopted by the Tea Party, in part due to his economic plan.  But Ryan, as it has been noted many times before, was basically a yes man for the George W.Bush administration and it was only recently that he would be an outspoken critic of the economic crisis that we're in.  Ryan was chosen, according to some analysts, to balance the ticket out from those in the Republican base who might not be energized by Romney as the presidential candidate.  Ryan, who is very outspoken, is described as a fiscal and social conservative and before being named as the vice-president nominee was known for being an ideological leader of the Republicans.  Romney who has been described by both sides as a flip-flopper needed someone to shore up his base and Ryan was a perfect fit. This is where I think it gets interesting.

But Ryan has been short on discussing what changes he might make.  Even after the Ryan nomination, Romney has been quiet on his various policies.  The one policy that we knew was going to happen, the repeal of Obamacare, now might not happen.  Romney hasn't shared what aspects of Ryan's economic plan he might want to keep or get rid of.  He hasn't fully explained what tax loopholes he might close.  All of these things seem important.  But the Romney/Ryan ticket is stuck between a rock and a hard place.  On the one hand, saying too much migh turn off the moderates and independents that they need.  It could also alienate the Republican base and the organized Tea Party.  The Romney/Ryan and to a greater extent, the Republican party has to figure out how to win over moderates and independents without losing their base.  That's the risk they're running in this election.  It's been this risky for awhile.

More to come in Part Two.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Thursday Teddy's

Benjamin Netanyahu doesn't trust Obama and is allying himself with Romney.  The theory that the Religious Right supports Israel as an aid to bring in Armageddon has always struck me, as well odd.  But I'm not a Bible expert.

This is a good example of the struggle in fact-checking, where we check the will to deceive against saying something wrong and the meaning is basically the same.

Just once in articles about Super PACs, I would like them to define the difference between a Super PAC and a PAC.  It makes people think they are one in the same. But oh well. Apparently, negative ads are higher than they were in 2008. Karl Rove's Crossroads is the biggest outside spender in House and Senate Races. Yawn.

Oh and anti-Muslim groups are apparently spending money for Dutch elections? Well, there's something.

Obama's campaign registered 100,000 voters last week. He said that the election is going to come down to turnout.  If the turnout is like 2008, Obama wins, turnout like 2010, Republicans win. He said it not me.  Not a creative comparison, if you ask me. If the turnout is like 2008, when Democrats took the Presidency, House, and Senate then the Democrats win.  But if it's like 2010, when Republicans took the House, Republicans win.

The EPA, which was started by Richard Nixon, faced trouble in the courts, the last few weeks.

I would link to articles from The New York Times but my 10 articles are used up for the month.

Jeb Bush

Jeb Bush is probably my favorite from the Bush family.  I know this is a little old but still.

My favorite tweets from that article:

The point I was making yesterday is this: The political system today is hyperpartisan. Both sides are at fault.

My dad & Reagan sacrificed political points for good public policy.

Past 4 years, Democrats have held leadership roles w/opportunities to reach across political aisle. For sake of politics, they haven't.

Dropping knowledge on us like this. And this.

Barack Obama: Doubling our use of renewable energy?

So, President Obama stated that we've doubled our use of renewable energy. It's not completely true and is probably misleading.  While it has increased under his watch, primarily with wind and solar energy, the increase has been about 25% which is well under doubling.  An important aspect of PolitiFact's response is that electricity does not equal energy.

Democracy in action

What if we bought groceries the way we choose a government? We would all vote on buying spaghetti sauce, and if a majority of people voted yes, we would all have to buy spaghetti sauce. We would do the same for spaghetti noodles, milk, grapes, bread, yogurt, and peanut butter.

But of course, that's not quite right. We don't vote on individual policies, we vote on bundles of policies all at once. So we would vote between one shopping cart with spaghetti sauce, peanut butter, and grapes and another cart with spaghetti noodles, milk, yogurt, and bread. Whichever cart gets most votes is clearly what the people want.

But of course, that's not quite right. We aren't actually guaranteed to get what we vote for. So we would vote between two closed boxes with the contents written on the outside. One box says spaghetti sauce, peanut butter, grapes and diamonds, the other says spaghetti noodles, milk, yogurt, bread and gold bars.

But of course, that's not quite right. We don't get the policies we voted for immediately, someone has to work to give them to us. So instead of voting on boxes, we vote on lists goods and at some point in the future a delivery man will try and deliver the things we voted for. One week we may get a jar of spaghetti sauce, then a month later everyone gets one ton of peanut butter, and after about a year of waiting we all get a grape.

This system may sound undesirable, but we all know democracy is the best. If you don't like getting a ton of peanut butter, you are free to change it. You just have to vote in a few years time and hopefully enough people agree with you. The system is responsive to your needs and wnats, unless you want an apple, no one is going to give you an apple.

That's a feature, not a flaw

Josiah had an earlier post about how most middle class Americans blame congress for their problems. That may seem discouraging, but it shouldn't be. That's how our government is supposed to work. If it only took the president to mess things up, think how often bad decisions would get made. Luckily our founders were wise enough to require a majority in both houses before the government could make a bad decision.

Mitt Romney's Picture

These are not actually plans. More like statements. For example, energy independence, how so?
What does the skills to succeed mean?  Does that mean you have the skills to succeed? Or does it mean that we are magically going to get the skills to succeed? What trade works for America?  How do we cut the deficit?  How are you going to champion small business? 


Wednesday's Whigs

Where we just got turned down for a job at Enterprise...

Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS finally airs a spot urging people not to vote for Obama. Damn, I can't find a YouTube clip from Arrested Development about being explicit.

What do we know about Sam Bacile?

Were the attacks spontaneous or planned?

Mitt Romney was quick to jump on the Obama administration for apologizing.  He has been pushing the idea of Obama as an apologizer for a long time.  Like his other accusations, he may be wrong or just got his facts backward.  It's possible that this is the death knell for the Romney campaign.

Other places I've been turned down for, so far, include RadioShack, University of California-Irvine, BevMo, Goodwill (yes, Goodwill), and more.  

Quick Post: Blaming Obama?

According to this story, the middle class is suffering still and finding it easy to blame to the government.  In the Pew survey, 62% of middle class people blamed Congress, 54% blamed banks and financial institutions, 47% blamed corporations, 44% blamed the Bush administration, 39% blamed foreign competition, 34% blamed the Obama administration, and 8% blamed themselves. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

Tuesday's Trumans

Where we have a day of rememberance...

Going to make a definitive statement: climate change is not a hoax.  Maybe if we portrayed climate change as a health risk, more people would be upset about it.

This is interesting and slightly depressing.

Mitt Romney, maybe, doesn't want to repeal all of Obamacare.

I hope you had fun in Charlotte, Rahm.

There will be a million retrospective pieces on September 11, read if you want to.  I choose not to read them as they are incredibly depressing to me.  Remember after 9/11, when we were united?  It's time to go back to that.  It's a day to remember but also a day to act.  Remember how we all helped each other out immediately after 9/11 and let's act like that again.  Don't act like it's 9/11 again but rather September 12, 2001.  It's time to come together again.

Nebraska's 2nd Congressional District: A voter's guide

John Ewing vs. Lee Terry

Despite moving to California, I still feel a bit of responsibility to Nebraska's 2nd Congressional District. Lee Terry has been the representative of this district since 1998. Despite his signature on a pledge for term limits, Terry has continued to represent the District and is running for re-election in 2012. John Ewing is the former treasurer of Douglas County, I have written checks with his name on it for car registration among other things. John Ewing is the latest Democratic challenger to Terry, a job that used to be filled by Jim Esch. I've met Representative Terry and he gave me a pocket Constitution to keep.  I'll try my hardest to keep my personal bias(es) out of what I type. 

Anyways, I've attempted to create a voter's guide for the 2nd Congressional District of Nebraska. So enjoy. Thanks to Project VoteSmart for their valuable database of research.

Abortion issues:

John Ewing: As a licensed Baptist minister, Ewing has come out to say that he is pro-life.  Another pro-life Democrat running against Lee Terry?  Ask Tom White how that works out.

Lee Terry: Because of numerous votes on his voting record, including voting to stop federal funding of Planned Parenthood, it's safe to assume that Terry is pro-life, as well.


Ewing: It is unclear whether he supports combat operations in Afghanistan.  He stated in an in interview with the League of Women's Voters, "We must work towards an Iran that does not have nuclear capability, a Syria that does not slaughter its own people, an Afghanistan with no Taliban, and the end of the Al Qaeda movement."

Terry: Supports combat operations in Afghanistan, praising Obama for increasing the number of troops in Afghanistan.  He stated, ""President Obama has made the right decision to increase our ground troops in Afghanistan. We must have a comprehensive plan that includes local tribal leaders and Afghans with assistance from other nations. Our troops must have every resource available to effectively eliminate the Taliban and other terrorists now in control of many parts of the country. To succeed we must show strong military leadership, create jobs for Afghans and provide security to their communities," in 2009.

Budget cuts, defense spending:

Ewing: Cannot find research showing what Ewing believes.

Terry: Project VoteSmart classifies Terry and Ewing's positions as unknown on this issue.  Terry has stated publicly that everything, including defense spending should be discussed.  Saying, "no sacred cows," however, his votes have slightly confused the issue, continually voting for either maintaining defense spending or increasing defense spending.  After the Republican House Budget was passed, Terry praised it, talking about entitlement spending cuts and sustaining defense spending.  While I recognize that people may change their minds and people's actions might not match up with their words, it is hard to classify Terry's position as unknown. It seems very likely that he does not believe defense spending should be cut in order to balance the budget.  I'll gladly link to his votes for increasing defense spending.

Budget, raising taxes:

Ewing: He has stated that he would allow the Bush tax cuts to expire for individuals making over $1 million.  Ewing has highlighted a key Obama talking point that millionaires should pay their fair share.

Terry: Has signed the Grover Norquist pledge that states he would not increase taxes.  He states on his website, in order to create new private sector jobs and to get our economy moving again that he has his own approach, "the heart of the approach has been to reduce and lower income tax rates for everyone who pays taxes. The package also encourages saving and investment by taxing capital gains and dividends at a lower rate. This creates pools of capital which, in turn, are invested in the private sector economy to increase efficiency, investment and growth. This is precisely the wrong time to increase taxes. As an alternative, I propose that we simply extend and keep in place the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts that I was proud to support when they were enacted into law."

Economy, government spending as a way to promote economic growth:

Ewing: Seems to favor cuts in spending.  Stating on his Facebook, "We all know there is plenty of opportunity to cut in government as well as spending that we simply cannot afford any longer."  He has also stated that the cuts must be smart and cutting the top 1/3 off is "unreasonable."  The cuts must be effective.

Terry: Does not support government spending as a way to promote economic growth.  Terry stated, "'runaway federal expenditures and ballooning budget deficits stifle job creation."  It probably sums up his thoughts on this, pretty well.  His votes line up with this line of thinking, pretty well, too.

Economy, supporting tax incentives for businesses in support of job creation:

Ewing: He has stated that he would provide tax incentives for businesses creating jobs in America and ending tax incentives for companies that ship jobs overseas.

Terry: "Instead of imposing more regulation and uncertainty into their lives, we must work to provide tax breaks and incentives for business growth and development. Until we make a commitment to do this, business owners and families alike will continue to struggle. Congress should spend 2010 working on bipartisan legislation that will pull us out of this recession." Pretty much sums it up, right?

Education, implementing reforms, in order to be eligible for federal grants:

Ewing: Ewing has not been clear on this issue.  He has only stated that he would make it so that local school districts would have access to federal funding.

Terry: Terry does not support this.  Terry stated that federal funding be given to states in block grants and allow them to spend it how they see fit.

Energy, reducing restrictions on offshore energy production:

Ewing: Nothing really on this issue.

Terry: "Congress needs to do everything we can to open American energy resources. By safely extracting these offshore areas, we will have access to billions of barrels of oil and trillions cubic feet of natural gas. Until we increase American energy production, we will be ever more reliant on foreign sources of energy."   Safe to say, Terry supports reducing restrictions on offshore energy production.
Terry also stated in 2008, "The reality is if we bring all of our resources together, yes, conservation, yes, alternative fuels, and open up the resources that we have right here in America offshore where there is a moratorium that Congress can lift, a moratorium that was imposed by Congress on shale oil that can be lifted by Congress, and in Alaska where Congress can lift that moratorium, if we combine all of those resources, we can be free of OPEC. It is time for a real energy policy where we free our resources for American-made energy."  Terry consistently advocates for an "all of the above" plan for decreasing reliance on foreign oil.

Environment, supporting the federal regulation of greenhouse gas emissions:

Ewing: Nothing that I could find

Terry: does not support the regulation, comparing cap and trade to extortion.  Terry stated that we need to decrease CO2 emissions but we need to balance that with our obligation to maintain jobs for Americans.

Guns, supporting restrictions on the purchase and possession of firearms:

Ewing: Nothing, I could find.

Terry: It's complicated.  Terry stated that we should raise the minimum age of owning a firearm from 18 to 21.  Did not say that he supported that we end federal restrictions on firearms.  But he is a supporter of concealed firearms.  He did not state that he supported more federal restrictions on firearms.  Was endorsed in 2010 by the NRA.  Was in favor of the Supreme Court ruling which argued that it was Constitutional for citizens to own firearms for self-defense.  The Brady campaign stated that Lee Terry supported the Brady campaign to end gun violence 0 percent.

Health care, repealing the Affordable Care Act:

Ewing: Does not want to repeal it but tweak it. "No one denies that there are both positive aspects and room for improvement in the Affordable Care Act. It is more important than ever that we elect representatives who can work with their colleagues on both sides of the aisle to ensure that the health care law is reformed and implemented in the best way possible for citizens of Nebraska and the American people as a whole. Before the ink on Chief Justice Roberts' majority opinion was even dry, Republican leadership had already scheduled a vote to repeal the entire bill. This is not progress nor is it bipartisanship."

Terry: Voted to repeal it. Also has stated that he does not believe that providing health care is a responsibility of the federal government.

Immigration, requiring illegal immigrants to return to their country of origin before being eligible for citizenship:

Ewing: nothing is found

Terry: Does not support requiring this. A few other things on Lee Terry and immigration: does not support amnesty programs, does not support states that pass laws denying human services to illegal immigrants or their children, supports the idea that only children born of legal immigrants can be citizens, and supports the idea that children of illegal immigrants should not automatically receive U.S. citizenship.

Marriage, supporting same sex marriage:

Ewing: nothing found

Terry: "I have voted twice to allow the states to decide on same-sex marriage. I personally believe marriage is between a man and a woman, and the state should have the right to decide." He personally opposes it but thinks states should be able to decide.

National security, supporting targeting suspected terrorists outside of official theaters of conflict:

Ewing: information not found

Terry: Supports Obama's intelligence reforms.  Also stated,  "This war has not been waged perfectly, but it has in arguably succeeded in preventing additional terrorist attacks on U.S. soil, protecting American lives and liberty, and forcing terrorists to spend their time running rather than plotting additional ways to murder innocent citizens and spread darkness and destruction."

Social Security: Supporting allowing individuals to divert a portion of their social security taxes into personal retirement accounts:

Ewing: No. Ewing stated that he would vote against any measure such as the Ryan proposal to privatize portions of Social Security or Medicare. 

Terry: "We must tackle these problems today. In past sessions of Congress, I have co-sponsored legislation that would allow on a voluntary basis - but not require - workers to establish private retirement accounts, while also growing the Social Security trust fund."  He has also stated that he would support measures that allow individuals to put their payroll taxes into accounts managed by themselves, the government, or contractors with the government.

If there are issues that I missed, please let me know.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Monday's Musings

Despite the closeness of the race, Romney has yet to have a lead in the polling averages. This is indicative of landslide elections notes Nate Silver.

Paul Krugman and Rand Paul were on the same television show. Interesting results ensued.

Republicans might not end up with a majority in the Senate. A combination of underwhelming candidates, demographics, and tradition stands in the way.

Rape victims need to have their voices heard and a reminder that not all rapists are easily identified.

FactCheck factchecks Joe Biden and Barack Obama's speeches at the DNC.  My thoughts should be posted here in the next few days.

It's going to be an interesting month in the House of Representatives.

Apparently, 15% of Republicans feel that Romney deserves more credit than Barack Obama in the raid to kill Osama bin Laden.

Haven't watched his show, but I hear good things.

Check out one of my favorite author's sites.  He doesn't update much but has a wealth of archived features including from The New Yorker.

Until Romney/Ryan offers specifics on their plans, they will continue to be attacked by Obama and his campaign. It's Campaigning 101, if your opponent says he/she weill cut government spending or tax codes or whatever but doesn't say what, feel free to pounce on that as they might cut a number of popular items.

Friday, September 7, 2012

A few thoughts on voter ID laws

While I've covered most of my thoughts on voter identification laws, here, citing a study.  I'll try to give you three points about that post.

1. Where there are not set voter ID laws in place and you allow poll workers to ask for identifications, there has been an increase in asking for ID's in general and a larger increase in asking for ID's among African-Americans primarily.  There was an increase in asking Hispanic and white voters but nothing compares to the increase in asking African-Americans for their ID's.  The authors of the study argue that "poll workers do not administer this procedure fairly or without regard to race, which raises the important possibility that in practice voter-identification procedures violate the Voting Rights Act.”

2. Is the practice of asking for voter identification racist?  If we have a practice that seems to discriminate against a particular race, even when we control "income, education, party identification, age, region, state laws, and other factors," does it make necessarily racist?  I'm not sure if we can definitively conclude this. The reason that I do not know if we can definitively conclude this is because we simply do not know how many people were denied their rights to vote because of voter identification requests.  Most people do not even say the reason that they do not want to vote is because of the threat of voter ID requests.  It's certainly possible that since we're asking African-American and Hispanic voters for ID much more often than white voters, it is a racist practice.  But is the mere practice of asking for ID without actual disenfranchisement racist?  I'm not 100% sure.

3. Asking for voter ID's does not increase people's thoughts on the legitimacy of elections or people's propensity of voting.  “In the 2007 survey, of those who thought fraud a very common occurrence, 47% voted and of those who thought fraud rare, 44% reported voting. Controlling for education, income, partisanship, and other factors did not change this non-finding. Belief in the frequency of election fraud is uncorrelated with propensity to voting.”  Or "those voters living in states with stricter identification laws did not report higher levels of confidence or higher rates of voting than those living in states with relatively weak identification rules. In states with the weakest ID rules, 26% think fraud occurs very often and 10% think it occurs rarely. In states with the strictest ID rules, 29% think fraud occurs very often and 9% think it occurs rarely.”

Friday's Fillibusters

Where I promise to stop gushing over Bill Clinton...

Stan Collender, former Democratic staff member of the House and Senate Budget Committees, has some harsh words for Paul Ryan, at the end of this article. Norm Ornstein, a scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, chimes in, too. Paul Ryan's relationship with the Simpson-Bowles commission is an interesting one. 

Barack Obama formally accepted the nomination, last night.  Here's PolitiFact's report card on him.  He is their most PolitiFact-checked person. 

So, you would think information like this, might fire Democrats up to vote. I'll repeat myself in that one person's single vote will probably not affect the outcome of the election. But if millions of people feel this way (which they do) it does affect the election.  Probably negatively to a majority of these voters.

Next week's polling numbers are very important.

Our educational system slightly depresses me. In the nation's sixth largest school district, more than 500 teachers resigned two weeks before the start of the school year.  Any proposed changes that might positively affect this?

Political gamesmanship happening at the DNC, misleading truths and lies, too. If Romney/Ryan want to stop the Obama campaign from saying that they will cut your "favorite federally funded program" then they need to specify what they're going to cut.

Are Barack Obama and Bill Clinton more similar than we thought?

The Washington Post fact-checks Bill Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, and others.

Sometimes, I want someone named Dwight to say something incredibly stupid in politics so I can use this clip.

A Baltimore Ravens player comes under fire for his stance on gay marriage.

How long do you think it will take for Conservatives to take this article seriously?  To be perfectly honest, I'm surprised this hasn't been shared by every Liberal, I know.

Obama lays out plans for his next four years, when he can only blame himself for the mess he inherited from the last four years.  Reading The Onion makes me sarcastic. I should probably stop linking.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

If only...

If only, this really happened.  Funny story, my girlfriend walked in on me clicking on that article.  It led to a quick explanation of The Onion. Followed by her not believing me and also being very confused.  This is probably happening now. For awhile.

Something worthwhile to note about Bill Clinton

I am more than 99% sure that Bill Clinton could convince me to be gay for him. Not that there's anything wrong with that. 

Bill Clinton spoke at the DNC

I've totally bought into Craig Calcaterra's argument that if we were forced into a situation where we needed one person to peddle a BS argument and make it sound authentic to save us, we would choose Bill Clinton.  Who else is alive out there that you would trust with this?  It is true that some of his actions while president were poor.  But anyways, he spoke at the Democratic National Convention.  Some Democrats were slightly scared of what Bill Clinton might say, as if Bill Clinton might yell at an empty chair or something.  Obviously, Bill Clinton would never do something like that, he is too political saavy to do that.  But let's look take a look, anyways, what did he say?  Does his speech hold up to the same scrutiny that fact-checkers used for Republicans?

We're basing this heavily from both PolitiFact and FactCheck, which coincidentally I used for fact-checking the RNC, too.  FactCheck starts their fact-check with "Republicans will find plenty of Clinton’s scorching opinions objectionable. But with few exceptions, we found his stats checked out."  Bill Clinton stated that health care costs have been under 4% for the last two years, for the first time since 1950 and Clinton attributes this to Obama's healthcare reform. It is true about spending.  This is misleading, Bill.  The biggest provisions of Obama's healthcare reform, including the individual mandate, hadn't kicked in yet.  Most experts say the reason for that is because of the recession.  People chose not to go to the doctor for non-urgent care as money became tight, among other reasons.

Bill Clinton claimed that Medicare would go broke by 2016.  Not quite true.  The hospital insurance trust fund "will not be able to pay full benefits for hospital services."  Right now it's on pace to be exhausted by 2024, or by 2016 if the Affordable Care Act is repealed.

Obama's 2009 stimulus bill (the only stimulus Obama passed, by the way) did not cut taxes for 95 percent of Americans.  The Tax Policy Center estimated that it cut taxes for 76 percent of families or single individuals.

Oil imports are at a 20 year low but it might not be entirely due to Obama's policies.  Some experts argue that it's because of a boom in oil production in North Dakota and Texas because of shale formations due to hydraulic fracking.

Bill Clinton was absolutely right that Democratic presidents have had more jobs created under their watch.  42 million to 24 million.  It is always important to note that "it's a truism of politics that when things go well, the president generally gets too much credit, and when things don't go well, the president usually gets too much blame."

Clinton accused Republicans of blocking Obama's jobs act which would have added 1 million new jobs.  If anything, it might be too low, some experts have estimated that it would add 1.9 or 1.3 million jobs.  Mitch McConnell said that the jobs act was a charade trying to give the political edge to Democrats in 2012.

Thursday's Teddy's

Where I wish I was as thought-provoking as Neal...

People are hurting from the recession. While we have a record number of people on food stamps, there have been calls to reduce the amount of money spent on it. Newt Gingrich wanted to call Barack Obama, the food stamps president.  One of the articles linked above, calls for a greater transparency for the EBT cards that are used for SNAP.  I imagine that Newt Gingrich's claims about food stamps are what is driving that debate, as well.

The middle class tax hike from Romney is not the entire truth.
Great information from FactCheck, already fact-checking the Democratic National Convention.

The steamy relationship between Bill and Barack. Craig Calcaterra mentioned on Twitter, and I agree with him, if for some reason we're invaded by Martians and we need to peddle some BS excuse about why we should be saved, Bill Clinton would be the best choice. Who says Twitter isn't entertaining?

Interesting article from PolitiFact on Debbie Wasserman Schultz's statements. They rated it as Pants on Fire with this in their conclusion: "In fairness to Wasserman Schultz, her main point in the extended audio clip is that Republicans have politicized the issue of Israel, and that is what’s dangerous, not that the party’s particular policy positions are dangerous."

"I shall propose a sweeping new program that will assure comprehensive health-insurance protection to millions of Americans who cannot now obtain it or afford it, with vastly improved protection against catastrophic illnesses," Sounds like something Barack Obama would say, right?  Click here to find out who.  Read the excerpt on Truman right above him. Interesting stuff.

Slate's Brian Palmer asks when did growing up poor become a prerequisite for the presidency? As usual, you can blame Bill Clinton.

Five questions that would be interesting if Mitt Romney is asked them.