Archive:

November 2012, Part 2

Jim Miller on Politics




Pseudo-Random Thoughts



Want To Cut Future Deficits In A Big Way?  Then you might want to repeal ObamaCare.
A Congressional Budget Office report on ways to reduce the deficit, released last week to help guide budget negotiators in the upcoming "grand bargain" talks, contains one eye-opening item.

It turns out that the single biggest pot of potential deficit savings available to lawmakers is ... ObamaCare.

In its list of "options to reduce mandatory spending" and cut the deficit, the CBO says that repealing ObamaCare's massive insurance subsidies would cut federal spending by $150 billion in 2020 alone.   Repealing the individual mandate would save another $40 billion that year, the CBO says
$190 billion here, $190 billion there, pretty soon you're talking real money, as Everett Dirksen might say.

Remember when they were telling us that ObamaCare would cost hardly anything at all?
- 8:02 AM, 16 November 2012   [link]


Jonah Goldberg Still Dislikes Bush's "Compassionate Conservatism"  But he concedes that it worked, politically.
Compassionate conservatism increasingly faded from view after 9/11.  Bush ran as a war president first and a compassionate conservative second (at best) in 2004.   Still, it’s worth remembering that Bush won a staggering (for a Republican) 40 percent of the Hispanic vote. Romney got 27 percent.

Moreover, according to exit polls, Romney decisively beat Obama on the questions of leadership, values, and economic expertise, but he was crushed by more than 60 points on the question of which candidate “cares about people like me.”

I still don’t like compassionate conservatism or its conception of the role of government.  But given the election results, I have to acknowledge that Bush was more prescient than I appreciated at the time.
(The sad thing is that Obama, by all the evidence I've seen, does not care much about other people — and Romney does.)

I always saw compassionate conservatism as an effort to use conservative means to achieve goals that most leftists say they want.  Not all the goals, but some of them.  For example, Bush worked to improve public schools with conservative reforms.
- 7:35 AM, 16 November 2012   [link]


Did Libertarians Take Nine Races Away From Republicans?  Not necessarily.

The analysis here is an example of a classic, and surprisingly common, fallacy.

Because the Libertarian vote was larger than the margins between Democratic candidates and the Republican candidates in those nine races, David Nir concludes that the nine Republicans would have won if the Libertarians had not run.

But we can't conclude that without knowing who those Libertarian voters would have voted for if a Libertarian had not been on the ballot.

For instance, there are Libertarians (and libertarians) for whom the most important issue is legalized marijuana.  It is easy to believe that, in some races, they would have chosen the Democrat, rather than the Republican, if no Libertarian were on the ballot.

Others may have voted Libertarian as a protest against the outcome of a Republican primary.  There is good reason to think that explains much of the Libertarian vote in the senate race in Indiana.  Senator Lugar had many supporters there, and not all of them accepted his defeat in the primary.  If a Libertarian had not been on the ballot, they would have skipped the senate race, or found some other protest candidate.

Other Libertarians, disliking both parties, will simply stay home if they can't vote for the party they prefer.

With those thoughts in mind, how many of those nine races would the Republican have won if there had been no Libertarian candidate?  We can't know for sure, but we can make better guesses than Nir did.

Begin by assuming that 30 percent of those Libertarians would not have voted if there were no Libertarian candidate in the race.  Then split the remaining Libertarian vote 2-1 for the Republican.  (I've seen polls that suggest that split is reasonable in most races.)

With those assumptions, the Republican candidates would get a net gain of about 47 percent of the Libertarian vote, with no Libertarian on the ballot. When we apply that adjustment to the nine races, we find that none of them would certainly have gone to the Republican.  The most likely Republican win would have been in the Massachusetts 6th district, where Republican Richard Tisei lost, narrowly, to scandal-plagued Democrat John Tierney.   And the same adjustment would put Mia Love ahead in the Utah 4th district, barely.

In the other seven races, the Democrat would still win, after those adjustments.  That adjustment wouldn't be exactly right in all nine cases, but I think we can say that at most the Republicans would have won two or three of the nine if there had been no Libertarian on the ballot

(There is another complication:  A significant third party candidate can change the dynamics of a race.  For example, in 1992, Ross Perot made it much harder for George H. W. Bush to make the case that he was the candidate of fiscal sobriety.   In 2000, Ralph Nader protected Al Gore, to some extent, against charges that he was an ecofreak.  Incidentally, a poll found that Gore would have received only about 40 percent of Nader's vote, if Nader had not run.

There are times when Libertarians do contribute to a Republican's defeat.  For instance, I think it nearly certain that Slade Gorton would have beaten Maria Cantwell in 2000, if a Libertarian had not run.)
- 6:24 AM, 16 November 2012   [link]


The Jimmy Savile/BBC Scandal:  I've been looking for a brief explanation of the scandal for Americans, and here it is.

This will get you started:
Sir Jimmy was a patently gamy figure yet he was regarded by the BBC's liberal sophisticates as a working-class "character" and was promoted to the near status of secular saint.   When he died, the BBC went into semi-official mourning.  Flowery celebrations of his life were prepared.  There was just one problem.  Numerous women were even then emerging to say that Sir Jimmy (a friend of the pope, no less) was a raving sex maniac who forced himself on underage girls and boys while his BBC bosses looked the other way.
If you read the whole thing — and you probably should — you'll learn that the scandal broke when a competitor of the BBC, ITV, did a special.

Some of the details I've seen make him look even more creepy than that brief summary.  For instance, he seems to have frequented children's hospitals in search of victims.

At one level, this is all too familiar.  Bureaucracies — and the BBC is very much a bureaucracy — routinely try to ignore or bury scandals.  But it still appalls when you learn how many officials at the BBC must have known something — and for how long they knew it.

There's much more in this Wikipedia article.
- 4:39 PM, 15 November 2012
There's an American connection to this growing scandal; the current New York Times CEO is Mark Thompson, who was an executive at the BBC for years, and should have known about the scandal — but is still denying that he did.
- 8:35 AM, 16 November 2012   [link]


James Taranto Has Some Fun With What Obama wrote in 2005.
"Maybe peace would have broken out with a different kind of White House, one less committed to waging a perpetual campaign--a White House that would see a 51-48 victory as a call to humility and compromise rather than an irrefutable mandate."
As I am sure you know, Obama is now taking the opposite position, claiming that 51-48 victory gives him an "irrefutable mandate".
- 2:34 PM, 15 November 2012   [link]


If Elected, Senator Murray Will Not Serve:  Washington state senior senator Patty Murray wants to be chairman of the Senate Budget Committee.  But she will not promise to pass a budget.

Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) confirmed Thursday that she will seek the chairmanship of the Senate Budget Committee next year but told The Hill that she cannot commit to doing a budget.

This opens up the possibility that Senate Democrats will avoiding passing a budget resolution for the fourth year in a row.

(Democrats took control of the Senate in the 2006 election, so they were able to pass budgets when Bush was president.)

Her motive is obvious, as Senator Jeff Sessions explains:

“There’s a great danger, not just for the Budget Committee but for the whole Senate when we don’t follow regular order with open debate,” Sessions said.  “It is very distressing to me that Sen. Reid has, for political reasons, not allowed Senate Democrats to be on record for anything.”

For purely partisan reason, Reid — and Murray — have refused to do their most important duty, passing a budget.

And though this part is less important to me, we should note that the Senate is required, by law, to pass a budget.  So Murray is threatening, if elected, to refuse to do her most important duty — and to break the law.

Democratic partisans will be pleased to see Murray putting her party before duty and country.  The rest of will wonder about a politician campaigning for an office by threatening not to perform the central duty of that office.

Some of you might find it amusing to think of parallels in job applications, for example, a man who wants to be a fireman — but won't promise to put out fires.

Cross posted at Sound Politics.

(If some reporter were, magically, able to get the whole truth from Murray, it would probably be something like this:  She and Reid will refuse to pass a budget unless they see a way to do so without costing them any seats in the Senate.  But that can't be summarized in a brief headline.)
- 12:42 AM, 15 November 2012   [link]


SNAFU In Broward County Elections:  A week after the election, the Florida county found ballots.
Tuesday morning and into the night, there was a buzz of activity at the Voting Equipment Center in Lauderhill, a week after the general election.  There was a recount going on for two commission seats that were too close to call, one in Hallandale Beach and another in Dania Beach.  Workers had to count those votes manually.

Also keeping elections officials busy is the fact that 963 filled ballots were found in a warehouse.  The supervisor of elections, Dr. Brenda Snipes, said this happens all the time, especially when dealing with paper ballots.  Her department is not the only one to have seen more ballots added to the final number after the election, and they have until Nov. 18 to certify all the votes.
(Emphasis added.)

That World War II acronym — Situation Normal All . . . Up — is appropriate, as anyone even vaguely familiar with the persistent election problems in three Florida counties, Palm Beach, Broward, and Miami-Dade, can tell you.  All had problems during the 2000 presidential election; all had had problems with vote fraud in the decade before then.

So Dr. Snipes is probably right when she says this happens all the time in Broward.   And it wouldn't surprise me if it happens all the time in Palm Beach and Miami-Dade, too.
- 10:17 AM, 15 November 2012   [link]


Yesterday, President Obama Said he can "do better".

That's encouraging.

But the context is discouraging.
QUESTION: But when it comes to your relationships with Congress, one of the most frequent criticisms we’ve heard over the past few years from members on both sides is that you haven’t done enough to reach out and build relationships.  Are there concrete ways that you plan to approach your relationships with Congress in the second term?

OBAMA: Look, I think there is no doubt that I can always do better.  And so I will, you know, examine ways that I can make sure to communicate my desire to work with everybody, so long as it’s advancing the cause of strengthening our middle class, and improving our economy.  You know, I’ve got a lot of good relationships with folks both in the House and the Senate.  I have a lot of relationships on both sides of the aisle.   It hasn’t always manifested itself in the kind of agreements that I’d like to see between Democrats and Republicans.
Discouraging because, according to almost all accounts, he does not have "good relationships" with very many people on either side of the aisle.  (And the divisive campaign he ran will make it even harder for him to work with Republicans.)

And discouraging because he does not give any "concrete ways" he will try to improve relationships with Congress.  In fact, he says that he intends to keep lecturing them ("communicate my desire"), which is, again by almost all accounts, one of the things that most annoys congressmen in both parties.

Is is unfair to conclude that he could do better in working with Congress, but doesn't intend to try?
- 9:20 AM, 15 November 2012   [link]


The WSJ Gives Us Two Possibilities in the second paragraph.
BEIJING—Brazilian miner Vale SA VALE5.BR -1.85% has spent around $2 billion on a fleet of huge ships to carry its iron ore from Brazil to China.  The problem: China won't let them in.

Chinese regulators have cited safety concerns over Valemax ships, as the cargo vessels are called.  But analysts and industry observers point to a different reason: opposition from a Chinese shipping-industry group dominated by a state-owned company.
You don't have to be an expert on trade with China to figure out which of those two is more likely.

Vale tried to curry favor with China by having some of the ships built in China, but that wasn't enough, apparently.
- 6:47 PM, 14 November 2012   [link]


Today's New Yorker Cartoon, which you can see (and even buy) here, shows two cows in a pasture, with five other cows jumping over the moon.

One of the cows in the pasture is saying: "It's lost all meaning in the steroid era."
- 3:16 PM, 14 November 2012   [link]


Not A New Find:  ABC is describing this as an "oil find".
Drillers in Utah and Colorado are poking into a massive shale deposit trying to find a way to unlock oil reserves that are so vast they would swamp OPEC.

A recent report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office estimated that if half of the oil bound up in the rock of the Green River Formation could be recovered it would be "equal to the entire world's proven oil reserves."
The headline implies that this is a new "find", but we have known about these deposits for decades, and have tried to extract the oil using similar techniques for almost as long.

The techniques work, but they haven't produced oil at a competitive price, which is why so many countries gave up on shale oil production, when cheaper oil became available.

(You can find some background on shale oil in this Wikipedia article.)
- 2:05 AM, 14 November 2012   [link]


Clearing The Way For A Strike On Iran?  As everyone should know by now, Iran has building up its allies in Gaza and Lebanon so that they can strike Israel — if Iran needs their help.

So I can't help wondering whether the Israelis are trying to weaken those Iranian allies by this strike.
Hamas has said an Israeli air strike in Gaza killed Ahmed Jabari, the head of its military wing, in an attack on a vehicle on Wednesday.
(It isn't exactly a preemptive strike, since the Hamas and Israel have been engaged in low intensity conflict approximately forever.)

If we see a similar strike on Hezbollah in Lebanon, then we can be almost certain that the Israelis are preparing for a possible strike on Iran.

That wouldn't mean that they will strike, just that they have decided to get ready in case they do have to strike.

And, of course, it's also possible that they finally got the intelligence they needed to hit this particular target.

(Here's some background on the relations between Hamas and Iran.)
- 11:00 AM, 14 November 2012   [link]


Nancy Pelosi Will Stay on as Minority Leader.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) will remain atop the Democratic caucus for at least two more years, extending her role as Congress’s most vocal liberal voice opposing the Republican agenda despite a second straight election in which her party failed to win back the majority.

She said she felt compelled to remain in leadership as Congress and President Obama embark on an effort to resolve a fiscal crisis that could jeopardize core government programs.  And she vowed to work to limit the role of money in politics and to empower women in the workplace and the political arena.
(Pelosi began her career in politics raising money for Democrats in California.  She has always been a great fund raiser for her party, often taking money from dubious sources, such as this group. For her to say that she wants to limit the role of money in politics is like Howard Schultz, the Starbucks CEO, saying he wants to limit coffee consumption.)

Her staying will be bad for the country, since she has never gotten beyond the machine politics she learned from her father, the Baltimore boss.

(Her staying will be good for Republican gains in the 2014 election.   I don't know whether members of her caucus don't know that, or don't care.)
- 8:59 AM, 14 November 2012   [link]


Is Obama Well-Informed? (2)  During the 2008 campaign, I asked that question and concluded, from a variety of evidence, that he was not.

You might think that, after almost four years as president, Obama would have to be well-informed.  Presidents, as we all know, can receive as many briefings as they want, on any subject that interests them.  But to absorb information from those briefings, the president has to be willing to have those briefings, and willing to listen during them.  We know that he has skipped most intelligence briefings, and we know that he has a strong tendency to lecture during meetings, rather than listen.

Obama might also have learned from the memos and other official papers that cross his desk.  But we don't have much evidence that he spends much time with them or that he studies them with an open mind.  (Early in his administration, the Obamas were having two elaborate White House parties every week.  That must have taken a very large share of their time.)

When we put all this together, we should not be surprised by all the things that Obama does not know.
The president’s disengagement, however, isn’t a recent phenomenon.  He outsourced the restructuring of one-sixth of the U.S. economy to Nancy Pelosi and a brigade of congressional staffers, not bothering himself with something as mundane as reordering the relationship between citizen and state.  He spent more than $800 billion on shovel-ready jobs, but can’t account for the whereabouts of either the money or the jobs.   He can’t tell a late-night comedian the size of the national debt — not even to within a mere trillion dollars.   He created a Jobs Council in the midst of four years of 8 percent unemployment, but hasn’t met with that council since the beginning of the year.  He was (purportedly) oblivious to the fact that under a U.S. government program, thousands of weapons were being run to Mexican drug cartels without the Mexican government being notified.  He professes that his administration is opening up oil leases and energy exploration all across the land, ostensibly oblivious to the fact that his EPA and Department of Interior are strangling coal producers and energy exploration on an unprecedented scale.
Appalled perhaps, but not surprised.

(The original post was inspired, in part, by a claim from Megan McArdle that Obama was well-informed.  I asked her two or three times to explain why she thought that, but never got an answer.)
- 7:38 AM, 14 November 2012   [link]


New Clues In The Death Of "Little Miss Lake Panasoffkee"   It's a very cold case — her decomposed body was found in central Florida on 19 February 1971 — but scientists have used the latest techniques to give investigators new clues to her identity.

For example:
Lead in the victim’s tooth enamel was what led [George] Kamenov to his first discovery — that she grew up in Europe.  In the 1950s, both Europe and America used leaded gasoline, and so lead ended up in the air, the dirt, the food and the teeth of growing children.  But the lead came from different sources, with different signatures.

European gasoline had lead from Australia, Kamenov said. “The whole of Europe was contaminated with this Australian lead," he said.  The young woman’s tooth enamel showed she had grown up in Europe.
It's a fascinating scientific detective story, even though it is unfinished, and may never be finished.

(Here's a link to the story in the Daily Mail, with more pictures and more details.)
- 3:06 PM, 13 November 2012   [link]


A Kind Word For Washington Secretary Of State Sam Reed And His Office:  I often look at state election results, especially during vote counting.   The state sites vary widely in ease of use.

The best that I have seen, by a considerable margin, is Washington state's.   The site displays the results clearly, and uses tabs to let you switch easily from one result, or one set of results, to another.  You don't have to work to find the information you are looking for.

It's not perfect; they should include an email contact, along with the phone number and address, but it is pretty good.

Cross posted at Sound Politics.

(I'd guess that, at one time or another, I've looked at about half the state sites.)
- 2:00 PM, 13 November 2012   [link]


The Petraeus Scandal Just Got even weirder.  Maybe.
The FBI probe into the sex scandal that prompted CIA Director David Petraeus to resign has expanded to ensnare Gen. John R. Allen, the commander of U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan, the Pentagon announced early Tuesday.

According to a senior U.S. defense official, the FBI has uncovered between 20,000 and 30,000 pages of documents — most of them e-mails — that contain “potentially inappropriate” communication between Allen and Jill Kelley, the 37-year-old Tampa woman whose report of harassment by a person who turned out to be Petraeus’s mistress ultimately led to Petraeus’s downfall.
One would think that — among other things — General Allen would not have the time to send that many emails, when he was supposed to be fighting a war.

Or perhaps not.  A "senior official" close to Allen says they exchanged a "few hundred" emails, most about "routine stuff".

(One tidbit that I had missed until just a few days ago:  Broadwell's co-author, Vernon Loeb, is a Washington Post reporter — who covers the Defense Department, and writes a regular column called "IntelligenCIA".)
- 1:36 PM, 13 November 2012   [link]


Legalized Marijuana Out Polled Obama In Colorado:   Amendment 64 received 54.92 percent of the vote, Obama just 51.23 percent.  (In votes, it was 1,307,728 to 1,252,679, even though fewer people voted on the measure.)

In Washington state, the two were close.  In our partial counts, Obama has 55.92 percent of the vote, and Initiative 502 has 55.91 percent of the vote.

(I don't expect those percentages to change much as we, slowly, complete our counts.)

Which leads me to this speculation:  Those measures must have helped bring out marginal Democratic voters (and a few libertarians).  I don't have any estimate on how many the measures brought out, but it is just possible that they made the difference in some close races.  I don't think this likely, but it is possible that Rob McKenna would be our governor-elect if I-502 had not been on the ballot.
- 9:57 AM, 13 November 2012   [link]


Blacks Hardest Hit By Obama Policies?  Here's a statistic that may surprise some.
When the president assumed office, unemployment was 12.7% for blacks and 7.1% for whites.  Today it is 14.3% for blacks and 7% for whites, . . .
So the gap between whites and blacks has increased while Obama has been in office.  (Other measures of wealth and income have shown similar increases in the gaps between blacks and whites.)

Jason Riley, who has a better natural tan than I do — for those who care about such things — goes on to argue that blacks have made an error by putting too much into politics, and not enough into individual effort.  Blacks would be better off, economically, if they worked for themselves, rather than working to elect Obama, and other black politicians.

He's right about that, as the experience of many other groups, notably the Irish, has shown us.

For some, the psychic benefits of seeing one of your own in power may be worth those economic losses, but I suspect that, for most, they are not.

(Some may wonder just how much blame Obama deserves for the slow economy.   I haven't seen a definitive answer to that, but it is easy to think of Obama-Pelosi-Reid policies that have slowed growth, notably their efforts to pursue high-cost "Green" energy, regardless of the overall effect on jobs.)
- 8:32 AM, 13 November 2012   [link]


Venezuela Has A Much Better sex scandal than we do.
But we need to review the score here.  This isn’t about a skirt that’s just that little too short or a micro-second boob-flash from a meticulously planned wardrobe malfunction.  We’re playing in a league of our own here: Venezuela is now a place where a whore who doubles-up as a pimp can break a mass murderer out of jail, then bribe her own way out of jail and, within hours, be back before the camera with her arms held aloft by regional leaders of one of the parties in the ruling coalition right as she’s touted as someone who’ll help get prisoners out of jail sooner.
Rosita is attractive (though a little artificial), which always makes a sex scandal more titillating.

What worries Francisco Toro is that few people in Venezuela think all this is scandalous.

If he is right, then they've defined deviancy pretty far down.  And for that Chávez deserves a large share of the blame.
- 6:30 AM, 13 November 2012   [link]


Reporting For Duty:  According to "senior administration officials", John Kerry and Susan Rice may soon be nominated for top positions.
President Obama is considering asking Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) to serve as his next defense secretary, part of an extensive rearrangement of his national security team that will include a permanent replacement for former CIA director David H. Petraeus.

Although Kerry is thought to covet the job of secretary of state, senior administration officials familiar with transition planning said that nomination will almost certainly go to Susan E. Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.
Does President Obama know that many in the military don't care for Senator Kerry?   Does he know that many of us would have trouble believing anything Ambassador Rice says?

If he does know, does he care?

(Obama could learn something from FDR.  When World War II was threatening, FDR chose two prominent Republicans, Frank Knox and Henry Stimson, to be, respectively, Secretary of the Navy and Secretary of War.)
- 7:31 PM, 12 November 2012   [link]


Does President Obama Believe In His Afghanistan Surge?   No, says Rajiv Chandrasekaran, author of Little America.

Today, I heard talk show host Hugh Hewitt interview Chandrasekaran on the book.  I wasn't sure I had heard what I thought I had heard about the surge, so I checked and found a transcript, with this amazing claim:
HH: So twice in four years, the President has overrode his military commanders.   First time, he gave General McChrystal less than what McChrystal asked for, the second time, he’s overriding Petraeus in his request that the surge troops mostly all stay until 2012.  So twice, Obama has done this, right?

RC: Because it seems, from everything that’s out there in my reporting, Obama doesn’t really believe in the surge.  You know, he reluctantly gave the commanders some of what they wanted, not all of it, but put a deadline on it, because he was afraid of getting dragged into some sort of long war, and then concluded it wasn’t working.   He saw the glass at half empty as opposed to half full.
So, if Chandrasekaran is correct, President Obama ordered troops to fight and die in Afghanistan — even though he expects them to fail.

To say the least, that's troubling.  Especially since Obama promised us this surge during the 2008 election.

(There's much else of interest in the interview, which was originally broadcast in August.)
- 6:45 PM, 12 November 2012   [link]


President Obama Is Incompetent:  Who says so?  Many people, but until I worked through my stack of newspapers and found her review of Bob Woodward's The Price of Politics. I had not realized that group included New York Times critic Michiko Kakutani.

(The review was published on 8 September, if you want to search for it at the Times, or elsewhere.)

Kakutani does not use the word incompetent, but she recounts enough, approvingly, from Woodward to make that a fair summary.
Many aspects of this book's portrait of Mr. Obama echo reports from other journalists and Washington insiders: a president who has not spent a lot of time cultivating relationships with members of Congress, Republican or Democrat, and who has similarly distant (if not downright tense) relationships with business executives; an idealistic but sometimes naive and over-confident chief executive with little managerial experience and little understanding of the horse-trading and deal-making that makes Washington run (skills that, say, Lyndon B. Johnson possessed in spades).

The White House was in such a disarray in the wake of the Republicans' big win in the 2010 election, Mr. Woodward reports, that when the president went to make a congratulatory call to Mr. Boehner, the incoming House speaker, the Obama staff had to scramble to find a phone number for him, eventually turning to a fishing buddy of someone who worked for Boehner.
That's harsh, and that example is devastating, especially for a man who said he wanted to bring us together.

Her tacit conclusion, that Obama is incompetent at being president, can't encourage anyone hoping for a deal to keep us from going over the fiscal cliff.

Unfortunately, a man who is incompetent at being president can be quite competent at running for president.  (Or at the very least, hiring political operatives who are competent at elections, as David Axelrod and company certainly are.)
- 2:35 PM, 12 November 2012   [link]


We're Still Counting Ballots:  Here in Washington state, there are still an estimated 268,964 ballots to count.  (There will be significant updates after 4 this afternoon.)

But we are doing better, even proportionately, than California, where there are an estimated 3,334,495 ballots to count.  (Not all of them will be counted, since some proportion of of those provisional ballots will not be legal.)

Other states also have ballots to be counted.  Right now, it looks as if Romney's vote total will be close to McCain's 2008 total, despite what you may have read in newspapers and on web sites.

(In Washington, Romney is getting almost 42 percent of the vote, in California, a little more than 38 percent, so he'll probably get about 40 percent of the uncounted votes in these two states.  I would expect him to do even better in most other states with substantial numbers of uncounted votes.)
- 1:14 PM, 12 November 2012   [link]


Living In Seattle Causes Great Pain:  We know that because the city has so many retail establishments selling medicine to fight that pain.
From dispensaries offering dozens of marijuana varieties to new potency-testing labs to makers of cannabis-infused capsules and candy corn, storefronts displaying the trademark green cross dot nearly every Seattle neighborhood.  The city estimates there are at least 150 marijuana-related businesses here, more ubiquitous than Starbucks.
(Emphasis added.)

The article does not explain why Seattle is so painful, nor do I have any hypotheses to offer.  The city seems, even now, to be one of the more pleasant large cities to live in, though people with moderate or conservative views, especially on social issues, will have to be careful about expressing them.

(I have to admit that the ads for these fine establishments — and there are dozens of medical marijuana ads in Seattle's alternative newspapers — do not read like ordinary pharmaceutical ads.  For example, I have yet to see one that includes the usual fine print about possible side effects.)
- 8:30 AM, 12 November 2012   [link]


When Did President Obama Learn About The Petraeus Affair?  Michael Goodwin called my attention to this precise language from the White House:
The timing of his departure is also more than a little curious. How convenient for President Obama that, the White House says, he was “briefed” on the matter only Thursday — two days after he won re-election.
Goodwin wants us to conclude — as I do — that Obama could have learned about the affair long before he was "briefed".

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor did know about it earlier, thanks to an FBI whistle blower, who was acting, according to Cantor, out of worries about national security.

If we accept that motive, and for now I don't see any reason to doubt it, then we can guess that something like this happened:  Weeks or even months ago, the FBI investigation had gone far enough so that whoever was heading it had tried to warn the administration about this security risk.  After nothing happened for weeks or months — we don't know how long — someone in the FBI decided to force matters by going to the congressional Republicans.

Luckily for the Obama administration, the news did not leak out before the election, as it might have.

(That it got to the administration does not necessarily mean that it got to Obama himself in a timely way; it is easy to imagine someone like Attorney General Eric Holder sitting on this information until near the end of the campaign, and then giving Obama an informal heads up.)
- 7:57 AM, 12 November 2012
Two newspapers in one:  Today's Wall Street Journal has an editorial saying that Eric Holder "probably" knew about the FBI investigation, and a front page article saying that Holder "knew about the email link as far back as late summer".

Almost certainly, the article is correct.

Which makes it even more likely that Obama knew long before he received that "briefing".
- 12:36 PM, 12 November 2012   [link]


Need A Quick Read On The Medieval Warming Period?   (You probably do, whether or not you realize it.)

Matt Ridley summarizes what we know (and don't know) about this period.

In brief, it was a real warming period, it apparently had mostly good effects, and different studies have given different answers on whether it was warmer about a thousand years ago than it is now.

Here's why those studies matter to us.
The point for nonscientists: If recent warming has precedents, some might find it less alarming.
. . .
It remains possible that today's warming is different from that of the Middle Ages.   For example, while summers might have been warmer then, winters might be warmer today (if today's warming is caused by carbon dioxide, that should be true).  And of course, it is the future, not the past, that scientists expect to be dangerous.
Those determined to be alarmed will stay alarmed; those wanting the facts will want to see more studies, including studies of that period..

(Two mildly scientific points:  I have never thought that tree rings were an especially good measure of temperatures, since so many different things can affect tree growth rates.  It's not that you can't use tree rings to measure temperatures; it's just that you have to be very cautious about interpreting your results, if you do use them.

Ridley should not have dismissed diatoms as lightly as he did.  Among other things, we would be very short of oxygen were it not for diatoms.)
- 6:29 PM, 11 November 2012   [link]


Poison Gas Was One Of The Horrors Of World War I:   The victims were commemorated in a painting by society painter John Singer Sargent.

Bruce Cole describes those horrors, and explains how this painting, "Gassed", came to be.
- 4:47 PM, 11 November 2012   [link]


Armistice Day:  On the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month of 1918, an armistice ended the fighting in World War I.  (Though not without difficulty.   Some American troops, having spare shells and wanting the glory of having the last shot, competed with each other, for a time, after the official end.)

For many European countries, the war was a disaster from which they have never completely recovered.   The casualties they suffered were so immense that, even now, they astonish.  They were so large that, from the very beginning, the combatants lied about them on a grand scale.  This Wikipedia article gives some of the common estimates of the casualties.  The almost 1.4 million French military dead are more than all the deaths the United States has suffered in all our wars, combined.  More than 1 million of them were from France itself, with the rest coming mostly from the French colonies.  Since France then had a population of about 40 million, more than 1 in 40 died in the war; for us, now, the equivalent loss would be about 7.5 million deaths.

After World War II, we renamed Armistice Day to Veterans Day, to honor the soldiers of all our wars.  When we honor, as we should, especially today, the American soldiers who served, and sometimes died in our wars, we should also spare some thought for those who fought at our side and who suffered far more than we did.

(This is an edited version of a post I first put up in 2002.)
- 7:08 AM, 11 November 2012   [link]


Bad News From Washington State:  Republican Rob McKenna, who would have made a fine governor, has conceded to Democratic Jay Inslee, who was, at best, a mediocre congressman, and will be a poor governor.

Until yesterday, the McKenna people were hoping that the vote count would turn around; they even had a blackboard with an equation on it, showing how that would happen.  (Unfortunately for the 1 in a 100, or 1 in a 1,000, like me, who wanted to see that equation, the TV station didn't give us a close-up.  That was, I suppose, a sensible decision by the producer, but it was still disappointing.)

Why am I so certain that Inslee will be a poor governor, worse even than his two immediate Democratic predecessors, Gary Locke and Chris Gregoire?  Because he had a record in the House almost unmarred by accomplishments, because his one stint as an executive, a patronage job in the Clinton administration as regional director of HHS was completely unmarred by accomplishments, and because he has shown no ability to learn from his mistakes.  (Inslee apparently agrees with me that he didn't accomplish anything as a regional director; he didn't even mention that position during this last campaign.)

Inslee has been pushing "Green" energy for years; he even has his name on a book, which is bad enough so that I suspect he actually wrote much of it (instead of tending to his job as congressman).  And he seems to have learned nothing from the string of failures of "Green" energy companies, some of them touted in his book.

He is a poor judge of character; he apparently believed Valerie Plame and her husband, former ambassador Joseph Wilson.   (If he didn't believe them, then he was playing a cynical political game, by pretending to believe them.)

The potential for a disastrous governorship is even greater because our capable state auditor, Brian Sonntag, is retiring, and will be replaced by a partisan Democrat, with a very dubious history in the private sector.  In recent years, I have become persuaded that Sonntag often saved Democratic governors from big scandals by catching them before they had a chance to grow, or even metastasize.  (Sonntag is a Democrat, but is widely respected by the Republicans in this state.)

Here are the current election returns, if you want to see the numbers.  Note that Republican Kim Wyman won the the Secretary of State position.  (Her opponent just conceded.)   That will keep a Republican streak going for that office that began in the 1964 election.  (The Democratic streak in the governorship began in the 1984 election, so each streak began in a landslide year for the other party.)
- 4:25 PM, 10 November 2012   [link]


British Bookies Accuse Anglican Churchmen of cheating.
The appointment of the new leader of the Church of England turned to farce and suspicion yesterday amid allegations of a betting coup.

As the BBC joined the ranks of those naming the Bishop of Durham as the new Archbishop of Canterbury, bookmakers accused churchmen of using insider knowledge to make money and suspended betting on the appointment.
The new Archbishop of Canterbury has a practical suggestion for anyone who might have bet on him:  Donate your winnings to the church.

(The appointment is being welcomed, cautiously, in Africa, where most Anglicans live.)
- 8:30 AM, 10 November 2012   [link]


Ralph Peters Thinks The Timing Of Petraeus's Resignation was "too perfect".
The timing is just too perfect for the Obama administration.  Just as the administration claimed it was purely coincidence that our Benghazi consulate was attacked on the anniversary of September 11th.  Now it’s purely coincidence that this affair -- extra-marital affair -- surfaces right after the election, not before, but right after, but before the intelligence chiefs go to Capitol Hill to get grilled.
The timing could be a coincidence, but that perfection does make you wonder.

For some time I have been wondering whether we are seeing more military (or ex-military, in this case) scandals because many military men don't respect Obama.  Perhaps that disrespect has led to a partial breakdown of discipline.  And it is possible that the bad boys in the Secret Service might also disrespect the man they are protecting, and decide that gave them a license to misbehave.

(Petraeus will still testify, of course.  I have seen rumors that he wants to be forced to testify, because he thinks that will make him a more credible witness.)
- 8:07 AM, 10 November 2012
Ann Althouse speculates that Petraeus resigned because of Benghazi or disagreement over drones, not the affair.

He might have had more than one reason to resign.
-6:49 PM, 11 November 2012   [link]


Old Joke, but still funny, in my opinion.

In 1965, President Johnson, Vice President Humphrey, and Mayor Daley were out in a boat on Lake Michigan, celebrating their 1964 victory.  A storm came up and they realized that there was only one life jacket.  As democrats, as well as Democrats, they decided to vote on which man should have it.

Humphrey, as a loyal vice president, voted for Johnson.  Johnson voted for himself.

And when they counted the ballots, they found that Daley had won, 3-2.)

When I posted this joke over at Sound Politics, it annoyed the leftist trolls.  So I added a more recent joke in the comments.
- 2:26 PM, 9 November 2012   [link]


Pros Versus Amateurs, Pros Versus Pros:  If you are a Republican and read this Kimberly Strassel column describing how Republicans — insiders and outsiders both — managed to botch the 2010 and 20012 Senate elections, you may despair at how our amateurs were beaten by the Harry Reid professionals.
Republicans had a bad night on Tuesday, though it is worth remembering that there are different gradations of bad.  At one level, there is the disappointing failure of Mitt Romney to win the presidency.  At another, there is the professional malpractice that once again lost Republicans control of the Senate.

The two deserve separation. Mr. Romney made his share of mistakes, though he was ultimately defeated by an Obama campaign that ground out a narrow turnout victory in battleground states.  The National Republican Senatorial Committee, by contrast, lost everywhere, in states primed for a GOP victory, to middling Democratic candidates, and in the face of a decent night for the House GOP.
(As a Washingtonian, I can tell you that it is embarrassing to lose to an effort led by our senior senator, Patty Murray.)

If you read the whole thing, and you probably should, you will be left wondering whether anyone among the Senate Republicans knows how to play this game.

And then you flip the page and come to Michael Barone's op-ed explaining how Republicans managed to keep their losses low, in the House, in spite of losses from gerrymandering.
Republicans won or are leading in 236 of the 435 House seats, down just six from the 2010 midterm.  And they achieved this despite losing five seats because of partisan redistricting in Illinois and another five in California thanks to a supposedly nonpartisan redistricting commission that the Democrats successfully gamed.
So the same party that blundered badly in all those Senate races did very well in keeping the House, and will probably keep the House until at least the next census in 2020.
- 1:04 PM, 9 November 2012   [link]


Plantu Explains The 2012 Election To The Seattle Times:  On Wednesday, our local monopoly newspaper gave us a front page that could have been designed by the Obama campaign.  (And may have been, for all I know.)

There was a giant picture of the smiling Obamas under a headline, quoting Obama: "The best is yet to come."  As far as I could tell, whoever put that page together was not being ironic.  Misinformed perhaps, but not ironic.

The French cartoonist picked up that line and gave it a little twist. ("Tout reste à faire" can be translated, "All remains to be done.")

It is odd that a French cartoonist can see our election result more clearly than an American newspaper.

Our job market is lousy, and likely to remain so in Obama's second term, as Robert Samuelson glumly noted after the election.

Those most hurt by that lousy job market are disproportionately poor, black, and Hispanic, like the man depicted in that cartoon.  Most don't deserve what Obama's policies have — and will — do to their job prospects, even if they voted for Obama.

Cross posted at Sound Politics.
- 7:47 AM, 9 November 2012   [link]


Robert Samuelson Looks At Our Dismal Job Market:   And sees no reason to expect large improvements during Obama's second term.

Deficit spending has been tried, and failed.  (And in any case, we will soon run into limits to our borrowing, despite the best efforts of the Federal Reserve.)

What's left?  Not much.
A more general approach is to bolster confidence among businesses.  The trouble is that Obama’s relations with the business community have been rocky.  An obvious flash point: the president’s proposal to raise the top personal income tax rate from 35 percent to 39.6 percent for couples earning more than $250,000.  Small-business organizations have objected, arguing that many small businesses pay taxes at the personal rate and that higher rates would discourage job creation.
And it isn't just higher taxes that businesses worry about.  Some are already cutting jobs or hours because of the costs of ObamaCare.  EPA regulations have already cost us tens of thousands of new jobs, and are likely to cost us even more.

In principle, Obama could bolster confidence among some businessmen by reaching out to them personally, now that he doesn't have to spend most of his time campaigning.   But there is nothing in his character, or past performance, to suggest that he will do that, nothing to suggest that he will take some time out to listen to the men and women who actually create most of our jobs.

(We could create jobs directly, as FDR did during the Depression.  But our red-tape-strangled government would make it impossible to so efficiently, in my opinion.)
- 5:52 AM, 9 November 2012   [link]


Wall Street Post-Election Disappointments:  Yesterday's Wall Street Journal told us that the stock market was unhappy with Mitt Romney's loss.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 312.95 points, or 2.4%, to 12932.73. That handed the blue-chip average its biggest one-day fall since Nov. 9, 2011, and sent the Dow to its lowest level since August.

Wednesday's decline marked the fifth-largest selloff after Election Day.  The largest was four years ago, when, in the midst of the financial crisis, the Dow fell 5.1% following President Obama's election to a first term.
Here are those five biggest post-election losses in the Dow:  Carter, 1976 (-1.0 %), Roosevelt, 1940 (-2.4 %), Obama, 2012 (-2.4%), Truman (-3.8%), and Obama (-5.0%).

There seems to be a pattern there.

Investors may or may not be good at predicting the financial future, but they usually can figure out whether a candidate likes them.
- 5:23 AM, 9 November 2012   [link]