Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Still hoping they come out with a Chevy Frenchmen

Putting aside the legal issues in this lawsuit, can't we just agree that naming a commercial product after an ethnic group is just a bad idea? Urban Outfitters is getting some shit for its Navajo Hipster Panties, But why has VW gotten away with the Touareg SUV for so many years?

How'd I do on those NH primary predictions?

On the voting results, I wasn't bad. I was right that Trump would come in first (although the polls would have to be pretty wrong for him not to), and that Kasich would come in second (which was not clearly predicted by the pre-primary polls). I overestimated the Rubot's prospects, so he ended up coming in fifth, not third (behind Jeb! How embarrassing is that?). That meant that my prediction of Cruz in fourth was wrong too because he took the #3 slot that I had given to Rubio. And of course, on the Democratic side, I made the obvious prediction that Sanders beats Clinton and the obvious turned out to be right. So I was mostly (though not completely) right in my prediction of what NH voters would do.

I think what I got wrong was the media consensus reaction. It is still early. Maybe that consensus has not fully congealed yet. But already my thoughts about it from yesterday seem to be out of date. I thought the media people would discount a Sanders win because everyone could see it coming and despite the fact that VT and NH are pretty different politically, people outside New England can't tell those two apart. Also, you could argue that while the general electorate in those two states are very different (VT being very liberal and NH being moderate conservative), the democrats in NH are probably more like VT democrats than democrats in general.

But I digress. Anyway, despite all my reasons for thinking that a Sanders win in NH would be discounted by the media, that does not seem to have happened. This morning's headlines all seem to trumpet a Sanders blowout (which it was. It just was an unsurprising blowout that one can easily argue does not tell us much about how Sanders will do in states in SC and NV)

On the Republican side, there is a lot more focus in the media on the Trump win than I expected. I guess I assume that Trump's NH win (which was clearly predicted by the polls) would be treated as Cruz's win in Iowa. That is, not treated like a win at all. With Cruz's IA win, the only story seemed to be the fact that he took down Trump, with most of the attention focused further down the results list, past the vanity candidacies of Trump and Cruz, to Rubio, the highest placing "real" candidate. So I assumed that Trump's NH win would be treated the same way, people would ignore his first place finish, and instead focus on the top vote-getter of the establishment people, who I corrected predicted would be Kasich. Again, it is early, but that does not seem to be happening. Kasich is getting more attention (how could he not? The guy got almost no serious attention until now), but the focus in the Republican race really seems to be panic about Trump, not the rise of frontrunner Kasich.

So while I was mostly right about the voting results, I seem to be pretty wrong about the media's take on those results. It still remains to be seen if the dropouts happen as I predicted in #6. I think this is a strong sign that I will get that one.

UPDATE re: prediction #6.
I win! Look at my prediction #6 again. Here is at least one from List A, and here's at least one from List B. Woo-hoo! USA USA!

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Who says he can't be Presidential?

Crass commercialism

I know I usually don't do this, but go buy this book.

Random thoughts masquerading as precognition

Here are my semi-guessed predictions about tonight and the aftermath:

1. Trump will get the most votes in the Republican New Hampshire Primary.

2. Kasich will "win" the NH primary by getting the second highest number of votes in the GOP primary.

3. Rubio will come in just behind Kasich, which means that Rubio will be the "loser" even though third place is exactly where he was when he "won" Iowa last week.

4. Cruz will come in 4th place, proving that everyone hates him even though he gets more votes than people like Jeb!

5. Sanders will beat Clinton by double digits in the Democratic NH primary but the bobble heads will all conclude it doesn't counts because NH is next to VT.

6. At least one from each of these lists will drop out between the NH and SC primary:
List A: Christie, Jeb!, Kasich [but only Kasich if I am wrong about him coming in second in NH]
List B: Fiorina, Carson

Monday, February 08, 2016

The candidate who really is promising free stuff

My one Facebook friend who is a bona fide Trump supporter is fixated on the idea that Democrats, and particularly Bernie Sanders, are trying to buy votes from the American people by promising a bunch of "free stuff." It is a bit of a reprise of the "Obama Phone" ridiculousness from the last election.

The funny thing is that Bernie isn't really promising anything free. His proposal to make colleges tuition free and single payer health care is really about raising taxes to pay for extra public benefits. (See point #6 here and the info under the "The Plan Would Be Fully Paid For By" heading here), and Sanders is openly proposing raising taxes to pay for those programs. You can argue whether any of those plans are a good idea, or if they could actually get passed, but they are not an example of promising the public something for nothing.

You know who is promising free stuff to the American people for literally nothing? Donald Trump. That's what is ridiculous plan to build a wall along the Mexican border and have Mexico pay for it plan is.

The NRA pretends not to like the President, but really just uses him as a profit-making engine

The surest sign of the limits of Obama's ability to change gun policy through executive orders is this:
Even the National Rifle Association, which fights anything it perceives as a threat to gun rights, has not sued to block Mr. Obama’s actions, and gun groups profess little reason for concern. “Nothing, from what we can see, has changed,” said Mike Bazinet, a spokesman for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, an industry group.
But that didn't stop the NRA from portraying the modest efforts of the Administration in almost apocalyptic terms as a clear step towards confiscation of all private firearms in the country, and (of course) launching a membership drive.

Friday, February 05, 2016


There's something a little funny about Tajikistan's President Emomali Rahmon's campaign to rid his country of names of Russian, Arabic, or Turkic origin. Yes, only names with purely Persian origin for President Rahmon!

Wednesday, February 03, 2016


My favorite thing about this tweet is that last word. For Trump's followers just saying that an opponent "stole" an election doesn't give them enough information to know what to think about it. Without "Bad!" how are they supposed to know what it was?

The fourth step

Max Fisher's three step outline of the foreign policy ritual for presidential candidates is accurate, but it is missing a step: the trip abroad. That's another way that candidates make a show of boning up on foreign policy, going on a brief visit to a foreign country, which is usually Israel. Scott Walker, Max Fisher's example in his outline of the foreign policy ritual, did the foreign visit step too.

Actually, my favorite recent example of a politician going abroad to show seriousness on foreign policy issues, is Ben Carson, who canceled his trip because he was too scared of Boko Haram. Not only did the cancellation not signal his seriousness on foreign policy, his reason for canceling revealed that Carson did not know just how localized Boko Haram's reach is. (Ben was scheduled to visit a medical facility "near Lagos." Boko Haram's activities have almost all been on the other end of the country and none have been within 150 miles from Lagos), Dark Citys the article I was going to make fun of and it's not fair!

I still read the dead tree edition of the New York Times on my morning commute. This morning, I read this paragraph in the paper of record about how Trump went uncharacteristically silent on twitter after the Iowa caucuses:
Finally, late Tuesday morning, following a hiatus on Twitter of 15 hrs and 29 seconds between posts — his 24th longest gap since he introduced in June he was running for leader — Mr. Trump resurfaced. 
"What the fuck?" thunked I. "Did the NYT really make someone go through Trump's twitter feed for the last 8 months to figure out each gap between posts and then rank them in order from longest to shortest, just so they could figure out where a 0:15:29 gap ranks compared to all the other gaps in his feed?!?!?" With that I started tapping out a post on my phone on that very point which would have surely shaken the blogosphere to its very foundation had I managed to finish it.

Except that when I got to finding the online version of the article, I could not find the quote. It wasn't there. I even searched for the first line of the above quote on the NYT web site. According to, "a version of this article appears in print on February 3, 2016 on page A15 of the New York edition" of the paper. But that article not only lacks the quote I wanted to use for my blog post, it is almost completely different from the one I read on the train. The current online version isn't about twitter at all. While both the dead tree version and the online version are generally about how Trump reacted to the Iowa results, they are pretty different accounts of what that reaction was. The two are not really different "versions" of each other. They are different articles.

Luckily, google led me to someone who cut and pasted the version of the article I read in my dead tree edition on the train onto his/her web site before the replaced it with the article that is currently online. At least that proves I'm not crazy, right? RIGHT?

I don't really care if the NYT edits their articles that they post online. But they should at least let people access the older versions of the article. Maybe there are too many versions of each article to do that reasonably. But at the very least any article that makes it into print should exist somewhere on the NYT site.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016


Before everyone moves on to more important stuff (like this month's parliamentary election in Kazakhstan) can we just marvel at just how badly Jeb Bush did. I mean, it was less than a year ago that everyone viewed him a serious contender, if not a shoe-in for the nomination.

Instead we got this:

Sixth place! And he only got 5,230 votes in the entire state, out of a total of 186,790 or so cast. That's just abysmal. Jeb! has been the race's sad sack for so long that you need to step back and remember the heady days when he launched his campaign for it to sink in just how badly he did. Jeb! (or his allied superPAC) spent $14 million on this race, about a third of the total spending of all of the GOP candidates. He paid $2,888 per vote. How many other politicians could pull off such a colossal failure?

Wank on you crazy diamond

Hey, I have a blog and it's the day after the Iowa Caucuses. That gives me a gods-given right to pontificate about WHAT IT ALL MEANS. So here goes:

Actually, I think the only thing that really changed because of the Iowa Caucuses is that Rubio won't drop out soon. Sure, Cruz beat Trump, but Trump still did well. He only underperformed if you looked at the polls and ignored the fact that he had almost no ground game in a caucus state. Trump is not out of the race by any measure and he still is the front runner nationally and in the upcoming states (at least if the pre-Iowa Caucus polls still count). Even if Cruz and/or Rubio get a boost by yesterday's results, they are not going to erase Trump's 22 point lead in the average of NH polls.

As for the Democrats, yesterday's results just upheld the status quo to an even greater extent than it did on the GOP side. As I said previously, if Sanders had lost Iowa badly, that would have probably been the end for him. His virtual tie with Clinton was good enough to show that he continues to be a real contender for the nomination (never mind that after NH next week, he probably is going to start losing a bunch of states)

I guess one other thing the Iowa Caucuses accomplished is they got Huckabee and O'Malley to drop out of the race. Their support was so thin, the fact that they are out will have no measurable effect at all on the remaining candidates. Honestly, I have no idea why either were still in the race up until yesterday.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Not "WAS Ted Cruz Born in Canada?"

"Why was Ted Cruz born in Canada?" is a really dumb question.

Conflict over who will go to the conference to resolve the conflict

So the opposition to Assad is boycotting the Syrian peace talks and ISIS isn't invited. So that means none of the ground forces opposed to Assad will be at the conference. How can you have a conference to resolve a conflict if only one side shows up?

(I know it is not technically true in this case that only one side is showing up. The conflict has too many sides to ever say anything that straightforward! And the foreign powers like the U.S., and various NATO members will be there and they are anti-Assad, anti-ISIS and pro-some of the anti-Assad factions. But the conference is not going to resolve the conflict unless the main parties to the conflict are at the conference.)