Tag Archives: obama

Important, some scary, comparisons across data 4 ur amusement

This morning, my inbox had a handful of interesting data that are totally unconnected to each other, each interesting in its own right, and together, a veritable potpourri of bloggyness. So, here goes:

First, Don Prothero at Skeptiblog has written one of those posts you want to keep handy next time you need to refer to Noah’s Ark. The title of his post is “Ship of Foolishness” but I’m going to catalog it under Noah’s Ark compared to the Titanic. Here’s the embedded data comparison:

I gotta get me some of that Gopher Wood.

Ok, I said these different data comparisons were not related to each other, but I guess maybe some of them are a little. The next item comes from Pew and it is the latest study showing the frequency of “none” people in the US population. Nones are those who are atheists, not-religious, etc. You know, the people who are not represented by having a copy of the ten commandments on the courtroom wall or a benediction at the start of an official public ceremony or a candidate say “god bless ‘merica” at the end of every speech, that sort of thing. Here’s the graph from pew forum:

This is a graph of "nones," not "nuns," just to be clear.

So, if “none” is at about 20%, then there are more “nones” than Hindus, Muslims, Jews, Orthodox Christians, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, and eve, yes, Mainline Protestant (which means Protestants who are not black, apparently). Yes. There may be (just barely) more Protestants than there are Nones. And, I suspect that this is largely because of the spawn of Protestants growing up and saying “no” to their religion, more than any other source, but that is just a suspicion.

The next item is the scary one. It turns out, Mitt Romney really really did win the debate with President Obama. All the polls that collect data from after the debate show Romney increasing, with the latest poll showing him on the edge of statistically AHEAD of Obama. There are no current polls that show Obama winning. That part of the election, where Obama was winning, is over. Here’s the graph of averages from Real Clear Politics;

Ruh Roh.

The thing about that graph is that it shows an average across time and while that is nice for many interpretations, it tends to not indicate the dynamic of short term events. Here is a different graph showing the number of points Obama is ahead (positive numbers) or behind (negative numbers) across time expressed as days before and after the debate. That latter number is fudged because the polls take several days to do…I used the midpoint of the days indicated for the polling period as an estimate. This does not look good:

After the first debate, Obama is losing the election to Romney

And now let’s move on to what might be a happier note. Voyager 1 has left the building. And by building, I mean solar system.

Strangely it is reported that NASA is mum on the issue. But there is this graph going around that shows that the number of loose protons ands tuff that Vger-one runs into on a regular basis has gone from a whopping 25 or so a second to almost none, and that this happened in late August. Here’s the graph:

I suppose it is nice to not be whacked by random particles any more.

Actually, when I look at that graph, I see an instrument sputtering out a couple of times then failing, not the edge of the solar system. But that’s just me. Maybe.

Romney did "win" the debate

Romney did three things at the debate:

1) He totally randomized his policies, thus putting into effect an excellent version of the Chewbaca Defense;

2) He made up his own rules, forcing Obama to follow them and embarrassing PBS and Jim Lehrer; and

3) He made a bunch of independents giddy, so when the post-debate polls were carried out, he ends up winning or being statistically even in key swing states.

Today’s polls are worrisome unless you hate America and The Earth. Obama is up only 2 points across the board, and Romney has pulled ahead (though statistically even) in Florida and Virginia. Ohio has become a toss-up.

Future debates might be different. For one thing, the Obama camp will probably have a better strategy. Both Obama and Lerher were blind sided by Romney’s approach. There will be a different moderator for the next debate, CNN’s Candy Crowley. I know nothing about her, but I imagine she watched the first debate and is already trying to figure out how to contain Mr. Priv. So, a second factor will be both the moderator and the approach taken. Third, the next debate will be in a town meeting format. Obama always does well with real people, and Romney tends to say the wrong things when confronted with real humans, often demonstrating his well known disdain. Also, this will be a “crowd” that the Romney camp will have less than the usual control over.

Over the days before the first debate, almost everybody seemed to have decided that the election was already over.

The election is not already over.

A Political Sea Change

Yeah, I’m bringing back the term “Sea Change” which was briefly popular a few years ago, in reference to the perception of party difference, the difference between Democrats and Republicans, in handling foreign policy. Let me say first that it has never been true that the Republicans were better at handling foreign policy than the Democrats. Individual presidents and individual congresses (if that term is appropriate) have varied a lot, and it could be that one party is not better than another. Having said that, I think Democrats have been better over recent decades, more or less. Imagine, if you will, George Bush Jr. in charge instead of JFK during the Cuban Missile Crisis. OK, now that you’ve thought about this for a second, throw some cold water on your face and calm down. It didn’t happen, we’re OK. Now, consider the most reviled of the Democratic presidents, Jimmy Carter. Count the number of bombs dropped or missiles fired by the Carter-Mondale administration. Zero. Now think about Clinton’s administration. Most people are unaware these days (or even then) of the slug-fest between Al Qaida and the US, and more specifically, really, Osama bin Laden and Bill Clinton. First, there was George HW Bush who let al Qaida operate in the US to the extent that a few weeks into the Clinton Administration, Osama bombe the world trade center. Meanwhile, George HW Bush had pushed us into a sensless occupation on Somalia. Clinton eventually disentangled us from Somalia, undoing the Republican Mistake, and then, Clinton kept Osama on the run for 8 years, forcing him first to move the the Sudan, then out of the Sudan (remember the baby food factory?) and having his navy address on the ground regular attacks from Yemen. Clinton also worked with the international community to contain Saddam, and Clinton basically solved the problems in Eastern Europe working with NATO. When Clinton left the White House, that allowed Al Qaida to operate freely again in the US, and that is when the second World Trade Center attack, and the Pentagon attack happened. Remember back to Reagan, the greatest of the Republican Presidents (according to some). Remember Operation Fury against Granada? Senseless showmanship designed to cover up a major foreign policy blunder is not good statespersonship. And that blunder, the Lebanon excursion, was one of the greatest shorter-term foreign policy blunders of the 20th century. A few years later, Reagan’s administration made up a fake attack on the US and responded by bombing Libya. Stop for a moment and consider the difference between Reagan’s messing around in Libya and what President Obama managed there. Some day we should have a contest to define the most appropriate metaphor to describer that difference, it could be fun.

Eric Ferguson has written a piece that fills us in on the last few years, comparing President Obama with the Republicans, and focusing on September 11th. But not that September 11th, rather, Romney’s Meltdown. Eric makes the point that it is now more than ever plausible to assume that when it comes to foreign policy, Republicans suck and Democrats do pretty well, and more importantly, that public perception is moving in that direction. He provides evidence from polls and from an analysis of Romney’s Meltdown to show that a Sea Change is likely occurring after which the argument that having an “R” next to your name is not equivalent to having an impressive resume on foreign policy. Indeed, it may well indicate the opposite.

…when Romney denounced Obama for expressing sympathy for the attackers who killed someone at our Benghazi consulate (the numbers and identity were then unknown), which Obama didn’t of course, he showed how grotesquely unfit he is to handle foreign policy or international crises. He reinforced the impression he made when he screwed up so much in Britain that a conservative newspaper called him “Mitt the Twit” on its front page, when he said Israel is doing better economically better than the Palestinian territories because of a superior culture and ignored the occupation, and when he publicly criticized the Obama administration for handing a dissident back to China when they were actually negotiating to bring him to the US.

Read Eric’s piece here, and therein you will find links to interesting polls and a recent timeline of events.

Obama v. Romney on Science: The most important thing you can read this election season

The Science Debate Project, co-founded by my friend Shawn Otto of Minnesota, has been trying to get candidates for the office of President to engage in a public debate about science. There has been resistance to that idea, but at least, Obama and Romney were willing to answer a set of questions related to science and science policy. The questions with the President’s and Romney’s answers are HERE. A press release regarding the project is here.

Romney wants to improve education by allowing parents to send their kids to charter and private schools, and he wants to fund that. He is not sure that Anthropogenic Climate Change is real or important, though he admits that the planet may actually be getting warmer. He wants to enhance innovation by reducing taxes for the rich and demanding more of lower paid workers. Obama’s position on the various issues is more well thought out, more likely to work, and more succinctly worded.

I am very disappointed that no one thought to ask the chair what it thought, but maybe later in the election season that can happen.

For all those who think, if there are any of you left, that the two main political parties in the US are the same, read this and report back.

Same Sex Marriage is the Issue of the Day…through November

Why would it be that about half of Americans want to deny same sex couples the right to marry? Indeed, why would conservatives want to let same sex couples get away without the legal features that Marriage provides to protect the rest of society with respect to debt and other responsibilities?* It was not long ago that a majority of Americans were against same-sex marriage, with varying degrees of support for inadequate social contracts such as civil unions. Very recently, according to Nate Silver’s calculus, pro-gay marriage opinions have a slim majority, and an absolute majority (about 51%), which is, unfortunately, a little softer than ideal.

In November, a lot of things will happen related to same sex marriage. For example, now that Obama has come out supporting same-sex marriage, and Scissor-hands Romney is now running full steam against same-sex marriage, the role of this issue in the minds of the electorate is key to both gay rights and the presidential election (and thus, well, gay rights…SCOTUS is at stake after all). Of the nine states considered to be the most swing with respect to the presidential election, five have prohibitive laws passed over a range of time (Pennsylvania in 1996, Ohio in 2004, Virginia and Colorado in 2006, and Florida in 2008), two swing states have restrictive laws that are less severe (Nevada passed in 2002 and Wisconsin in 2006) and only two allow same sex marriage (Iowa and New Hampshire, both passed in 2009).

That bodes poorly for both progressives seeking to re-elect Obama and everyone trying to expand same-sex marriage, unless the pro same-sex marriage trend is strong. Which it might be. In fact, that might be the main news of this year’s election cycle.

On the positive side, the issue of same-sex marriage being central this year will result in mutually beneficial outcomes. In Minnesota, we have a ballot question that would make same-sex marriage illegal constitutionally. The measure’s language leaves it open to being struck down by courts (maybe even before the balloting) and the presence of this initiative along with an anti-democracy voter ID rule will bring progressives out in November. We expect heavy campaigning by progressives in three or four congressional districts to push out Tea-Party Temps or other Republicans, along with a really annoying Republican controlled state house and a federal senatorial race along with whatever pull-in Obama provides to support efforts against the initiatives. In other words, we are hoping for a perfect storm of issues and candidates to produce a defining moment in state history and to be one of the first states to resoundingly squash an anti-gay same-sex marriage amendment.

In a sense, this election year will be a barometer of both strength of progressive will and ability for different groups to work together on common (or nearly common) progressive goals. The unknown factor (other than factors that are, well, unknown) is the interaction between the African American vote (which helped Obama win in ’08) and less than friendly feelings towards same-sex marriage by some self-identified Democrats who are African American. Everybody has to remember this rule: No pulling the damn ladder up into the tree house no matter who you are, who is already up there, and who isn’t there yet.**

The best graphic of the year award is probably going to go to Nate Silver for producing a trend line graph showing opposition to vs. support of gay marriage over the last several years, which shows a very interesting pattern. This graph was so good last August when first produced that Silver did it again a few days ago with added data that, shall we say, harden the conclusion that pro same-sex marriage opinion is an absolute majority. I couldn’t resist making a crude moving GIF showing both graphs together. Not work safe and below the fold: Continue reading Same Sex Marriage is the Issue of the Day…through November

Tea Party Protest Photo is Much Like Obama’s Kenyan Birth Certificate


Once again, Republicans have been caught at their own game. You all know there was a big shindig in DC on September 12th to protest the blackness of our president, the liberalosity of our congress, the intelligence of the new policies such as Cash for Clunkers and Saving the Economy’s Ass and so on.

Well conservative yahoos have been passing around, blogging, twittering, and jerking off to a photograph showing a ZILLION people at the Washington Mall. Clearly this photograph shows the BIGGEST gathering of Amerkan Cit-sins EVAH overwhelmingly indicating that The People … ALL the people .. are united against the black guy who PRETENDS to be president. And so on.

But, there’s a catch. …
Continue reading Tea Party Protest Photo is Much Like Obama’s Kenyan Birth Certificate

Strong Ideas and Exclusionary Thinking: Obama, Palin and Greek Food in Minneapolis

Christos Greek Restaurant is one of three well-known Greek restaurants in Minneapolis. The other two are It’s Greek to Me and Gardens of Salonica. Which one you like may be a matter of cultural survival.

It turns out that Greek restaurants in Minneapolis are to the citizens of this area what operating systems and political candidates are to computer users and activists. You’ve got one you love, and the rest suck. Although I’ve lived here long enough to be mistaken at times for a native, this particular form of Greek love/hate is not one I’ve assimilated. I’ve been to all three of these restaurants a number of times, and in my view, they each have their strengths and weaknesses. Mostly strengths, actually. Even my friend Lizzie, who normally has a solidly rational view of the world, has a somewhat all or nothing view of the Greek Cuisine in the city. (The fact that she served at one of these restaurants for about a year may be a factor in this case. I’m not sure.)

…. read the rest here.