Sunday, December 30, 2007
Edwards surging in Iowa?
Obviously, Clinton can lose Iowa and still become the nominee -- her husband didn't even contest it in 1992 and he came in second in New Hampshire. I think a loss in Iowa and NH would be more crushing for Obama than for Clinton, since he has less insider support to fall back on. But what happens if Edwards wins Iowa? He's trailing by a lot in NH. Could an Iowa win change that?
Saturday, December 29, 2007
Maybe California's parties aren't so strong
State Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata was carjacked at gunpoint from his state car in North Oakland today.
Perata, 62, of Oakland was unharmed in the incident, which happened at about 1:45 p.m. as he was stopped in his state-leased red 2006 Dodge Charger at a red light at 51st Street and Shattuck Avenue.
Why I Like Edwards
Where Frank's book fails is that it largely buys into this culture argument. That is, he maintains that culture war politics are actually working - that working class whites are abandoning the Democrats due to cultural appeals. As Bartels shows, that's not true. If anything, the class schism in this country has become more pronounced over the past few decades, with the wealthier far more likely to vote Republican than they used to be. Working class whites are still plenty Democratic. The main difference from earlier decades is that white Southerners are no longer Democrats. That has nothing to do with Republican culture war speeches and everything to do with the Civil Rights Movement.
What does this have to do with Edwards? Everything. None of the other Democratic candidates (except maybe Kucinich, but he's got a host of other problems) are talking about politics in class terms. They've accepted the culture war arguments, which is why Obama tries to reach out to Christian conservatives and why Hillary Clinton supported an anti-flag burning law and why John Kerry was spotted duck-hunting in the last election. They don't seem to realize that that's not the way the electorate rolls. Edwards seems to get that.
Edwards has been criticized for being too strident and angry this year. His attitude may have even cost him the endorsement of the Des Moines Register. So be it. Frankly, I'm a bit distrustful of anyone who can look at this graph without getting hot under the collar. The gap between the rich and the poor is large - about as large as it was in the 1920s - and growing. This issue needs to be addressed. Edwards is the only one addressing it.
Strip away all the hot air about Republicans liking NASCAR and beer and Democrats liking Volvos and wine and you see that the real split between the parties is economic. And it's not just rhetorical - poorer people do better under Democratic presidents than they do under Republican presidents. Poorer voters seem to get this, and there are a lot more of them than there are wealthy voters.
So I say let's support Edwards. Let's have the conversation about class. And let's put it to a vote.
Thursday, December 27, 2007
Sunday, December 23, 2007
Separated at Birth
The Party Decides - in Colorado, anyway
To help clear the field, the party invoked a formal process under what's known as "Rule 11." Dating back to at least the mid-1990s but little-known among many of the GOP rank and file, Rule 11 allows the national party to abandon its traditional neutral stance and back a candidate long before a primary vote.
It required the signature of the state party chairman and Colorado's two national Republican committeemen. Of the three who made the decision to back Schaffer, one — because he holds a seat on the National Republican Committee — was Bob Schaffer.
So this is a story that's both party-centered and candidate-centered - Schaffer is taking advantage of a party rule to help himself. Apparently, Schaffer wouldn't enter the race unless he was pretty much guaranteed a primary-less ride. The Democrats don't have such institutional rules, but the state party chair is clearing the field anyway:
When Democrat Mark Benner recently suggested he would challenge U.S. Rep. Mark Udall of Eldorado Springs for a chance at the Senate seat, state party chairwoman Pat Waak began a series of discussions with Benner "about other ways to get the issues he is interested in out there."This isn't a new situation. There's been surprisingly little intraparty competition for some very competitive seats in the past few years. Bill Ritter was virtually unopposed by other Democrats in last year's gubernatorial race, and the GOP establishment managed to shut down Marc Holtzman's challenge to Bob Beauprez in that race. Both parties rallied around their more moderate candidates in the '04 Senate race (Salazar and Coors), despite the more ideologically pure candidates (Miles and Schaffer) winning in the caucuses.
How did Colorado's parties suddenly get so strong? And how come the presidential race is comparatively so chaotic?
Saturday, December 22, 2007
Somehow, I hadn't seen this one before. It's incredible. It was made in 1856, with the clear intent of raising sectional ire among non-slaveholders. The stats along the bottom make clear that slaveholders had a disproportionate share of power. As Reynolds wrote:
Of the 6,222,418 white inhabitants of the South, only 347,525 are owners of slaves. And yet this faction controls every branch of the Federal Government, and wields its influence for the increase and perpetuation of Slavery.As the book makes clear, this is far from an isolated example of maps being made to serve a political purpose. But I was surprised by how profoundly political this map was. Note the pictures at the top: John C. Frémont and William L. Dayton, the presidential and vice presidential nominees of the Republican Party in 1856. I wonder if the newly-founded Republican Party actually commissioned this map, or if Reynolds was just an avid supporter.
Friday, December 21, 2007
California Assembly DW-NOMINATE film
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
Men Who Look Like Old Lesbians
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Parties and class
Since most Republicans live in rural America, where they are less likely to have broadband Internet, “we’re not fighting with a fair piece of the pie,” [“Republican Internet strategist David] All says. [Carol] Darr [a professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School] also points to differences between the parties. “The people who are white and working-class tend to be Republican, particularly those who are white, working-class, and religious.” She characterizes Democrats as “ostensibly being the part of the poor and working class, but they end up being the yuppie party and most people at universities tend to be Democrats.”Sides, along with several commenters, succeeds in demolishing all these claims. But then, proving that Sides' blog is much more popular than mine, Darr herself joins in the fray, ending with this comment:
My thoughts about the class divide between Dems and Republicans are summed up by a quote that I've always thought was attributable to Ambrose Bierce (but I can't find it in his "Devil's Dictionary):Sigh. So now we've gone from claiming that Republicans represent common folk better than the Democrats to the idea that there are no class differences between them. Poppycock. (Sorry to use such harsh language.)
"The problem with the Democrats is that they say they're for the poor and they're not; and the problem with the Republicans is that they say they're for the rich, and they are."
Whether that quote came from Ambrose Bierce or not, it is plainly untrue today. When was the last time a Republican ran for office claiming to be for the rich? There are a lot of mistakes in Frank's "What's the Matter with Kansas," but one thing he gets exactly right is the modern Republican rhetorical style: the reframing of class without reference to income. Republicans describe themselves and their supporters as the salt of the earth while painting Democrats as elitists.
Republicans are obviously free to say what they want, but reporters do their readers a disservice when they buy into such false claims. There are profound and easily verified differences between the two parties in terms of class.
As any any exit poll will show, poorer voters tend to vote Democratic, while wealthier voters tend to vote Republican. Here it is graphically:What's more, which party governs has important consequences for the economy. As Bartels demonstrates, poorer Americans see much greater income growth under Democratic presidents than under Republican ones. He produced this graph. Learn it. Know it. Live it.
Saturday, December 15, 2007
Here's a little story from a book called "The Genius of the Jewish Joke" by Arthur Asa Berger:Three Jews were going to be executed. They were lined up in front of a firing squad and the sergeant in charge asked each one whether he wanted a blindfold or not.That's the Democratic electoral strategy in a nutshell.
"Do you want a blindfold?" he asked the first. "Yes," he said, in a resigned tone.
"Do you want a blindfold?" he asked the second. "Ok," said the second.
"Do you want a blindfold?" he asked the third. "No," said the third.
At this point the second leaned over to the third one and said "Take a blindfold. Don't make trouble."
Friday, December 14, 2007
Polarization in the California Assembly
Oh, and I added music. (Click image to view. Very large Quicktime file.)
Update: Video now available on YouTube.
Combining Research and Tourism
Now, a good political scientist should be able to figure out a way to visit tropical islands and do research at the same time. Jerry Wright at Indiana has been collecting roll call data from state capitols, but he is stymied with Hawaii because they almost never have a contested roll call vote there. The legislature just agrees on everything. Now, things are nice there, but they can't be that nice. Decisions are being made somewhere else. But where? This sounds like a good area to investigate.
My co-conspirator Greg has some other ideas about bringing Samoa, Guam, and the US Virgin Islands into the purview of state politics. It might also be nice to compare these governments with those of independent nations like Jamaica. I wonder if NSF is willing to fund this sort of research.
The Edwards advantage, revisited
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
In a week when Mr. Romney delivered a speech intended to deal with concerns about his religion — he would be the nation’s first Mormon president — the poll found that little more than half of Republican respondents thought the United States was prepared to elect a Mormon to the Oval Office. That said, it also found that 45 percent were unable to say what Mr. Romney’s religion was.Let me see if I've got that right. Roughly half of Republicans think Romney is unelectable because he's a Mormon. The other half doesn't yet know he's a Mormon. Romney can't like that news.
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
Here we go again
I just love the scenario that Bush is painting. He wants us to believe that some variation on the following conversation between Bush and National Intelligence director Michael McConnell happened back in August.
McConnell: Mr. President, we have some new intelligence on Iran's nuclear program.Either Bush is a tool because he expects us to believe this, or he's a tool because this is actually what happened. Either way, one thing's certain....
POTUS: Okay, what have you learned?
McConnell: I can't tell you yet.
POTUS: Good enough for me.
Sunday, December 2, 2007
But you know what I hate? It's the way sci-fi, even good sci-fi, is usually dismissed by entertainment reviewers. They always seem to set sci-fi apart from every other form of entertainment, intimating that it's just for kids or nerds and therefore doesn't need to be taken as seriously.
Here's an example from the Denver Post's review of "Razor":
Adoring fans claim "BSG" is a high- minded series dealing with humanity's struggle for survival and lapses into barbarism.
The rest of us dismiss it as a "Star Trek" clone, a revamped version of the 1970s original, with updated sex-and-violence eye candy and men barking "Yessir" to women in command.
That's pretty obnoxious. Couldn't a decent reviewer, particularly one who's admittedly not an adoring fan, actually assess whether it's a "high-minded series dealing with humanity's struggle for survival and lapses into barbarism"? Does the reviewer (Joan Ostrow) have to wink at "the rest of us" to say that it's no different from any other show that takes place in space?
Either Ostrow doesn't know it or doesn't want to admit she knows it, but there is an extraordinary range of material within the sci-fi genre. Some of it flat out sucks. ("Galactica: 1980" comes to mind.) Some of it, notably like the current BSG, is cutting edge socio-political commentary. Can you imagine a review of "Gladiator" that went like the following:
Adoring fans say it's a high-minded movie about duty, revenge, and a soldier's struggle to restore order to an empire. The rest of us dismiss it as a revamped version of the gladiator films of the 1960s, with updated sex-and-violence eye candy and men dying in skirts. You make the call!No, we wouldn't accept that. But somehow action movies can be taken seriously for their content, while sci-fi can't.
Oh, here's how Ostrow finishes up her otherwise positive review of "Razor":
Is this a good time to join the "BSG" journey? In the end, "Razor" may be a two- hour layover during which we decide not to take the rest of the 22-episode trip.WTF?
Saturday, December 1, 2007
Keep your eyes on Ritter
Okay, just a guess, but why not? He's a popular, Western governor who passes the key test of not saying a lot of stupid stuff. He's moderate, but can win some points with unions. Yes, he's pro-life, which would bother a lot of the party, but he managed to win resoundingly here last year without causing pro-choice activists to bolt the party or field a primary challenger. Mainly, he keeps quiet on the issue.