SocraticGadfly: 10/31/10 - 11/7/10

November 06, 2010

10 years for Dems to regain the House?

Given what this story says, about all the old Democratic bulls in GOP-leaning districts, like Ike Skelton in Missouri, losing office, plus Republican state legislature gains in a redistricting year, it's very possible.

November 05, 2010

What the midterm elections mean for redistricting

2010 stands out from 1994 for the Republicans, or 2006/2008 for the Democrats, for a big reason. Decadal redistricting, for Congressional seats above all, but also seats in state legislatures, will be conducted by new state legislatures, with veto, or directional power, by governors, in states that don't have special redistricting commissions.

And, it really looks bad for Democrats here.

Here's a scary thought - the GOP holds the most state legislative seats since 1928.
The GOP also won at least seven Governorships on Tuesday, which means that Republicans will now control the entire government in 17 states. ... After the 1990 Census, the GOP had political control of states with a mere five seats in the House of Representatives. This time the GOP will control the process for some 195 seats, or nearly half the House. Democrats have used gerrymandering to preserve their dominance in states like California and Massachusetts—the latter still has no GOP House Members in 10 seats. But Republicans will serve their revenge Tom DeLay-style in other states.

But, the Journal does note the flip side:
This gives Republicans a tremendous opening—and obligation—to show they can tackle the fiscal, tax and pension problems that the departing politicians of both parties have failed to address.

So, if you're a Democratic state legislator, you know who to blame - Preznit Kumbaya.

Again, not for being too liberal, but for not knowing (or caring???) how to sell a fucking message.

More and more, I think his "eloquence" perception is in part due to ... the soft bigotry of low expectations from Volvo-driving, latte-sipping economic neoliberals who heard a black man from the North speaking standard American English.

Pelosi should tell Shuler 'Make my day'

Nancy Pelosi not only doesn't plan to resign from Congress, she's looking at running for minority leader.

And Blue Dog Pain in the Ass Heath Shuler says he'll run against her if she does.

Another Blue Dog, Jim Matheson, tells her to move on.

(T)he Blue Dog coalition was decimated on Tuesday; more than half of its members, 29, lost. Only 28 remain. For the most part, the Democrats who survived Tuesday are the more liberal members, including Pelosi's strongest supporters.

So, no, YOU move on, Jim Matheson. (And, in Shuler's case, "thanks," Rahmbo. And, you weren't a good QB, either.)

That said, Pelosi deserves her Passive Pelosi moniker if it's true that, in this Internet/image/idiocy driven politics we have to day, she rejected image consultants.

The non-audacity of cluelessness

If Obama thinks truly more liberal opiners like Krugman are going to stop laying the wood on him because of the crushing Democratic midterm losses, or because Preznit Kumbaya keeps adding new verses to the song, he'd be wrong. Krugman's still laying on the wood.

The latest Team Obama "Justice" Department #fail

Obama defends defenseless DOMA and DADT. Now? Says Arizonans shouldn't even be allowed to sue against program that gives tax credits for religious tuition. Remember, the man's put more money into faith-based programs than Bush.
Paul Bender, the lawyer who argued for Arizona residents opposed to the program, said there is a big difference between the Arizona scheme and voucher programs that the Supreme Court has upheld.

"In giving parents a voucher, nobody said to the parents, 'What's your religion?'" Bender said.

But Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito and Antonin Scalia voiced varying degrees of support for the Arizona program.

No shock from Scalito, to be sure. Stealth Bomber Roberts is tipping his hand quickly, no?

The NYT has officially editorialized against his anti-First Amendment stance, too:
The choice offered parents and children through the program sounds great but is often restricted. Most scholarships are awarded by school tuition organizations that choose students on the basis of religion, to go to religious schools. Handing out the funds on the basis of religion is unconstitutional. It is a government spending program directed by tens of thousands of taxpayers.

But, Anthony Kennedy appears to be on the state of Arizona's side, which means this is probably a 5-4 win for breaking the First Amendment. Way to go, Darth Obama.

November 04, 2010

Texas Greens guarantee 2012 ballot access

Yahhhh! Texas Greens got more than 5 percent of the vote for
Edward Lindsey's performance in the Texas State Comptroller race. Automatic ballot access in 2012!

NYT: One-sided analysis on incoming GOP Congress

The New York Times runs one of its panel op-eds, this time on what the GOP has to do to avoid gridlock with the new Congress. And, they asked nobody but conservatives.

Timothy Egan's man crush on Obama

Dude, Obama did NOT reform capitalism, despite your claims.

Egan's specifics of his man crush:
The three signature accomplishments of his first two years — a health care law that will make life easier for millions of people, financial reform that attempts to level the playing field with Wall Street, and the $814 billion stimulus package — have all been recast as big government blunders, rejected by the emerging majority
The health care law won't provide universal coverage, or that near it, does nothing to regulate health insurance companies and will probably lead to more companies dropping coverage of children rather than extending it to age 26, among other things. Many of its provisions, just like the GOP did in the days of Newt Gingrich's House majority, were written by industry insiders; its implementation is now being overseen by an industry insider.

Financial "reform" isn't. Not really. It was largely gutted by Democrats as well as Republicans - Democrats like Barney Frank and Chuck Schumer who are in thrall to Wall Street. Elizabeth Warnen could have been appointed to oversee the regulatory board, but instead, was just appointed to oversee its being set up.

The stimulus was a blunder. Beyond being too small, as Krugman and many others note, Rahm Emanuel compromised down its size before the time for compromise had come.

And, don't get me started on GM, a fourth point of Egan's. Corporate claims for how high stock will price at IPO time are inflated, and that's just "new GM." Old GM is still bankrupt and theoretically still on the government dime, if push comes to shove.

November 03, 2010

Even baseball sabermetric stat geeks get it wrong at times

Here's a great blog post at Baseball-Prospectus - would you first take George Brett, Ken Griffey Jr. or Reggie Jackson?

Jackson has the best OPS+ of the three, actually, even with his lower BA; Brett and Jr. tie for second.

That said, I love all the people touting Griffey for his D.

He actually has a career negative rating on both fielding runs and defensive WAR:

His last positive year was in 2000, at age 30, the year after his last Gold Glove (in which he had horribly bad numbers, actually).

Hell, on just the offensive side, Sheffield ranks as well as Junior.

Now, is he still a first-round HOFer? Sure. But, let's not quite tout him as one of the greatest half-dozen outfielders of all time. Top 20? Quite possibly. No higher than that, though. (Reggie also has more stolen bases than Junior, as well as the higher OPS+, among other food for thought.)

When Texas Hispanic Dems in the Valley lose ...

It's really, really a bad night for Democrats.

And, lose they did, at least, for national offices.

Two long-term Democratic Congressmen, Ciro Rodriguez and Solomon Ortiz, both went down.

With Rodriguez, his loss was due in part to how much of his district is in metropolitan San Antonio. His numbers in rural southwest Texas just couldn't offset that.

With Ortiz, I'm not sure what apparently tripped him up in particular.

In general? The economy, which is bad down in the lower Valley, compared not only to much of the rest of Texas, but much of the country, and Obama, of course. Also, his district is white majority, with permanent retirees plus voting-eligible snowbirds making it somewhat tea party friendly.

But, Ortiz had held his seat since 1983. This is a biggie.

That said, this race may get a recount before all is said and done, or Ortiz may pick it up now.

Sierra Club, hoist by its own green building petard


The Sierra Club does NOT have rooftop solar panels at its HQ and gets busted.

But, wait, that's not all.

A Sierra Club staffer, in a comment to the blog post linked above. then notes the building is rented.

But, wait, that's not all, you Gang Green employee shill.

OK, prod the landlord, then. Or do what the Natural Resources Defense Council, a slightly more enlightened Gang Greener, did:

NRDC, down in Southern California, moved into its own new Western Regional HQ in 2003 that has solar panels, water recapture, energy conservation, etc., all adding up to an LEED Platinum certification.

More on the NRDC facility here:
NRDC's new headquarters, however, uses 60 to 75 percent less energy than a conventional building of its size, gets 100 percent of its energy from carbon-free renewables, and consumes 60 percent less drinking water. As (NRDC senior scientist Robert) Watson estimated, "If all commercial buildings in the U.S. were as efficient as ours, the country would achieve 70 percent of its Kyoto Protocol obligation."

So, why won't Sierra either pressure its landlord, or else build its own HQ? Hell, it's got all that Clorox greenwash money. It's surely also saving money from suspending the Florida chapter's leadership for protesting over that.

So, Sierra Club? Put up, or STFU.

'Damn right' may replace 'bring 'em on'

"Damn right" is what Shrub Bush said when asked if the CIA could waterboard Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

We also learn that Scott McClellan is getting the freeze-out after his tell-all book, that Mitch McConnell, even shortly before 2006 elections, had no spine or balls in dealing with Bush, to his party's detriment, that he thought about dumping Darth Cheney in 2004, and Bush's final refusal to pardon Scooter Libby really didn't sit well:
When he decided against a pardon, Mr. Cheney lashed out at him in private. “I can’t believe you’re going to leave a soldier on the battlefield,” the vice president told him. “The comment stung,” Mr. Bush writes. “In eight years, I had never seen Dick like this, or even close to it.” He worried their friendship was fractured, but writes that it eventually survived the dispute.

Did it?

Father of cap-and-trade says "hold on" on using it on CO2

Thomas Crocker, then an economics Ph.D. candidate at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee,came up with the idea of cap-and-trade pollution regulation back in 1966. But now, he says it's not so good for carbon dioxide. He says a flat rate carbon tax makes more sense, and would do more.

I agree.

All well and good. But, now, he's backing off doing too much about CO2 period:
“The economists who have studied this problem, say, ‘Yes, it’s worthwhile taking some measures,’” Crocker said. “But to get into a great big panic and jump overboard right now is really not appropriate.”

That's bad enough. And, we've seen just how well economists have done with their ideas in the last couple of years.

Crocker then shows himself a climate change skeptic:

“There’s a great deal of ambiguity with respect to the natural science,” he said. “These models that they employ seems to me, they are numerical simulations, and as with any numerical simulation, a great deal depends upon what values you attach to unknown parameters.”

Stressing that it’s “worthwhile” to work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, Crocker advocated for a cautious approach to policymaking. “One should hedge, but one should not make big jumps,” he said.

Uhh, the numerical simulations are far more accurate than the ones your economist friends at Moody's and other raters ran on CDOs, etc. Big fail.

You can get enough election blogging from elsewhere; I'm going light on it.

November 02, 2010

Would Ben Nelson switch parties?

And, along with that, would Lieberman switch caucuses? In his latest post at 538, Nate Silver gives the GOP about 50-50 odds of getting its Senator count up to 49, and suggests that, should that be the case, its charm offense on those two senators will start soon.

Let's take Nate one farther. What are the odds of those two events happening?

First, on Nelson. I think he might be as much as 60-40 in favor of it, UNLESS he's not going to run for re-election himself, in which case he might punt that down the road. Lieberman? Given how much a weather vane he can be, I'd put the odds anywhere from as low as 20 percent to as high as 80 percent. That said, with him on abortion, especially, will tea partier types fight back against this idea?

And, if Nelson is convertable, is there any other senator other than Lieberman that could be persuaded to switch? I really can't think of one.

So, if the scenario played out this way, would the GOP approach both at the same time? Nelson first? Lieberman first?

November 01, 2010

Obama "has failed the authenticity test"

That's no teabagger saying that. It's from the NYT op-eds page.

And, no, it's not Brooks or Douthat.

It's a straightforward, insightful, garden-variety liberal, Ed Cohen, who thusly opines.

He makes that comment in comparison to the newly-elected David Cameron in the UK as well as the just-departing Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of Brazil, in noting both those leaders also have/had a "narrative" that Obama doesn't.

And, it's not just on domestic policy, Cohen says:
Obama is confronting an international conviction that he’s hesitant. The agonizing review that led to the Afghan surge left an impression of uncertainty. In the end we got what some have called the Groucho Marx Hello, I Must be Going! plan, a brief reinforcement to be reversed in time for the 2012 campaign.
So, whenever I get frustrated at the MSM, I sometimes get some hope restored with a column like this. It's a good insight.

Douthat lies about Social Security

In trying to explain why the country's drift toward the left turned around in its tracks because of alleged "overreach" by Obama, he tells this whopper:
The central premise of the White House’s policy-making, the assumption that an economic crisis is a terrible thing to waste (as Rahm Emanuel famously put it), turned out to be a grave tactical mistake. It drew exactly the wrong lesson from earlier liberal eras, when the most enduring expansions of government — Social Security in the 1930s, Medicare in the 1960s — were achieved amid strong economic growth, rather than at the bottom of a recession.
Socia Security was achieved during strong economic growth?

Ahh, the latest slander against FDR and Keynesian economics.

That said, Douthat may be right that many 2008 Obama voters expected him, like FDR, to be an eclectic liberal of sorts.

October 31, 2010

David Broder jumped the shark into a new dimension

Broder, the so-called "dean" of Beltway mainstream media pundits, needs to flunk himself. He officially jumped the shark into a whole new dimension, saying Obama can get re-elected in 2012 through a "war recovery" of getting ready to attack Iran. No, seriously.

If this is what passes for serious opining from the senior Washington Post op-ed columnist, why can't the Post put Broder out to pasture, followed by firing Fred Hiatt?

Is Texas facing a 25 percent budget shortfall?

It could be. Forget the $18 billion being bandied about. Gov. "Economic Miracle" (only by crony contracts that get unfulfilled) Rick Perry isn't necessarily telling the truth. It could be worse.

First, the bare background:
That central question of the state’s budget debate isn’t answered yet, at least officially. Estimates of the shortfall range from $11 billion on the low side to $25 billion on the high end. At issue is the difference between the comptroller’s assessment of how much money the state will bring in during the next two years, and the budget writers’ determination of how much money it will take to run the state in that same period.

$18 billion has been the normal number. $25 billion will be a lot worse. Bill White needs to run some last-minute ads on this.

But, then, an establishmentarian paper like the Times, perhaps kissing Tricky Rocky Gov. Helmethair's ass, says, "don't worry," so to speak. Or, so this could be read:
The actual shortfall number matters only for rhetorical purposes. The important thing is that it is somewhere between one in four and one in five of the state’s total discretionary dollars.

Well, there's a huge difference between $11 and $25 billion, and huge enough between $18 and $25 billion. The second sentence I agree with, on the percentages; but, percentages are just dollars, expressed differently, in this case, so it's poor writing at best and disingeneousness at worst to print that first sentence.

That said, there's also room for fudging in Texas, just like in California:
The budget writers’ number is a lot looser, because what you think the budget should be depends on what you think Texas should be doing. One idea is to figure the costs of the programs running now, assume they’ll continue to run pretty much the same way and adjust only for variables like population growth and the price tags of various state services, like paying for medical care. ... (I)t’s possible to hide $3 billion or so with tactics like delaying big payments from the end of one budget to the beginning of the next.

Speaker Joe Straus, and everybody else, especially GOP, swears "no new taxes," of course. That said, Texas has increased a number of **fees** in Helmethair's decade in power.

So, if it's a $25 billion shortfall, your next car registration could cost $100, perhaps. Your next driver's license $30. Your hunting license could go up another $10. Nothing "rhetorical" about that.

That said, Comptroller Susan Combs needs to tell us more before Nov. 2, or some staffer needs to leak. We as a state, and as a nation that could see this "confrontational cowboy" run for president in two years, can't afford to wait until December for more detailed budget information.

New York Times doesn't understand Texas politics

In this "Texas tribune" preview of fallout from midterm elections, we get this totally wrong statement, contrasting state legislative redistricting with Congressional reapportionment:
Legislative redistricting works differently. The number of seats is set, and the people who occupy them in January are the people voting on the changes. A partisan breakdown over the last redistricting maps resulted in a very deliberate work stoppage, with House Democrats leaving the state for Ardmore, Okla., at one point and the Senate Democrats bailing out to Albuquerque at another.

Plain wrong over why state senate Democrats left the state.

As well as being full of omissions.

First, it was Tom DeLay's attempted mid-decade redistricting of Congressional boundaries that caused Democratic walkouts.

Second, note that the story never tells how DeLay's state-level henchmen abused power, in conjunction with him, and sicced regional FAA on the Dems' plane.

Third, the story totally overlooks the role of sellout, turncoat Democrats such as Helen Giddings in undermining the Democrats' flights in the first place.

That said, the story does note that a Democratic Department of Justice, namely the Civil Rights Division, will clamp down on the worst gerrymandering.