Procrastiblog

January 27, 2008

The Crank Becomes the Cranked

Filed under: Not Tech, Politics — Chris @ 4:17 am

Thank you, New York Times!

Given Democratic rules, it is entirely possible for one candidate to win a majority of Feb. 5 states, and enjoy the election night ratification that comes with a TV network map displaying the geographic sweep of that person’s accomplishment, while his (or her) opponent ends the night with the most delegates.

On the Republican side, it is possible for one of the candidates to win the overall popular vote in California, but end up with fewer delegates than a rival, since most of the delegates are awarded in winner-take-all Congressional district races.

Read the whole thing (as they say).

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January 20, 2008

The Delegate Strategy

Filed under: Not Tech, Politics — Chris @ 7:45 pm

So, yeah, I’m a crank, but I’m not alone:

At the end of the day, you need delegates to win. A strategy to win delegates seems like a smart strategy.

The current fake tally is:

Democrats
Clinton: 3
Obama: 1
Edwards: 0

Republicans
Romney: 3
McCain: 2
Huckabee: 1

The current real tally is:

Democrats
Obama: 38
Clinton: 36
Edwards: 18

Republicans
Romney: 59
McCain: 41
Huckabee: 26

So who’s the front-runner again?

That said, less than 3% of the total delegates have been allocated on the Democratic side (it’s about 6% on the Republican side—presumably because red states like South Carolina and Wyoming get proportionately more delegates). What I expect will happen is that Clinton (and probably Romney) will win a slim majority or plurality February 5 (“Super Tuesday”) and more-or-less clinch the nomination. (I am willing to make a wager on that proposition. Anybody?)

In the end, I don’t think the “emotional moment” in New Hampshire or “momentum” have much to do with Clinton’s success. I think she has solid, proven support amongst the Democratic electorate, which just happens to be slightly larger in magnitude than Obama’s.

In retrospect, the real question will be: why did Obama do so well in Iowa? With Huckabee, you can point to the evangelical factor. What’s the deal with Obama?

January 9, 2008

New Hampshire Was a Tie?

Filed under: Not Tech, Politics — Chris @ 7:56 am

Via Andrew Sullivan comes this strange and interesting fact: Barack Obama was awarded more delegates (12) in New Hampshire than Hillary Clinton was (11). Despite the fact that the media covers the primaries as win or take all contests—and, thus, Clinton was victorious and Obama came in second—by the delegate apportionment metric the contest was a tie: they each got 9 pledged delegates. For some reason, Obama has one extra superdelegate, so he came out slightly ahead.

In fake terms, the tally is 1 for Obama, 1 for Clinton. In real terms, the tally is 25 for Obama, 24 for Clinton, and 18 for Edwards. (In really real terms—because the superdelegates are seemingly predetermined—the tally is 183 for Clinton, 78 for Obama, 52 for Edwards.)

On the Republican side, note that Mitt Romney—who “lost” two contests in a row—has the delegate lead with 24 to McCain’s 17 and Huckabee’s 14. If he keeps losing like that, he’ll win.

The takeaway from all of this is that the way we choose presidential candidates in this country is deeply and truly weird. Not only is the media narrative disconnected from the simple human and intellectual reality of the campaign (so that getting choked up becomes an emotional breakdown, or saying something sensible becomes a “gaffe”), it is disconnected from the political reality of the process: the one and only thing that matters here is who has more delegates. But instead we get to hear about who came in first and who cam in second and by how much and how that makes everybody feel…

November 6, 2007

Heckuva Job, Bernie

Filed under: Not Tech, Politics — Chris @ 12:19 am

Rudy Giuliani on Bernard Kerrick, the mobbed-up, bribe-taking, tax-evading, mistress stalking, ex-personal driver, ex-police commissioner, ex-Iraq occupation official, and ex-failed nominee to a George Bush’s cabinet*:

If I have the same degree of success and failure as president of the United States, this country will be in great shape.

He continued, “My shit tastes like lollipops, 9/11, 9/11.”

* And remember: you can personally authorize torture and still be confirmed to George Bush’s cabinet.

November 2, 2007

Alternative Status Hierarchies

Filed under: Not Tech, Politics — Chris @ 2:13 pm

Joel Stein, everybody’s least favorite ex-Entertainment Weekly columnist, covering the Republican fringes:

Representative Tom Tancredo … tells me after a debate in New Hampshire, one of his staffers walked up to a guy in a shark costume and asked him if he was a Ron Paul supporter. “No. They’re all nuts,” replied the shark. “I’m just a guy in a shark suit.”

October 8, 2007

You’re Welcome, Afghanistan

Filed under: Not Tech, Politics — Chris @ 2:35 pm

So, the U.S. is trying to eradicate Afghanistan’s opium crop again. The sheer, neck-snapping cluelessness of this leaves me practically speechless. All at once, we are trying to:

a) Make the Afghans like us, get them to appreciate our good will, and therefore convince them not to join or lend assistance to the Taliban.

b) Destroy their livelihoods.

In an additional sign of brilliance, the U.S. government* conflates the drug trade with the profits that the Taliban skims off the drug trade. Basically, the Taliban is shaking down rural farmers and drug traffickers by “levying taxes.” Does the Bush Administration think that, if the drug trade were ended or replaced with equally profitable legal transactions, the Taliban would just stop shaking people down?

Really?

This is like trying to reduce robbery by deciding that nobody is allowed to have money.

* In olden times, instead of “the U.S. government” or “the Bush administration,” I would say “we,” as in “we Americans” or “our U.S. government, of, by, and for the people.” Nowadays, when somebody says “we” and means “the U.S. government”, I think: “Who’s we? Speak for yourself, buddy.”

[UPDATE] If you like a dash of facts with your outrage and colorful metaphors, see Mark Kleiman (via Mr Yglesias). Bottom line, our policy priorities should be: first, defeat the Taliban, distant second, control the drug trade. And: steps taken to control the drug trade should probably have some measurable effect on the drug trade greater than or equal to their (deleterious) effect on priority the first.

May 29, 2007

Is Bush a Neoliberal? No.

Filed under: Not Tech, Politics — Chris @ 3:52 pm

Do me a favor here… is it really 2007? And is Richard Cohen really writing this column on how George W. Bush is a “neoliberal”? Are there no limits to the sage pundit’s lazy contrarianism?

Cohen says he “never really knew what [neoliberalism] meant”, but the term should be revived because George Bush is “more liberal than you might think.” The evidence for this is: (a) No Child Left Behind (a bunch of meddling, liberal do-gooderism), (b) all the incompetent blacks, women, and Latinos in his administration (hiring poorly qualified minorities is just so liberal), and (c) conducting a botched foreign war and justifying it with high-flown Wilsonian rhetoric (losing wars is just so liberal).

Mr. Cohen, I do know what neoliberalism means (if you want to know, you might have Googled it; it’s not that complicated). George Bush is not a neoliberal. And items (a), (b), and (c)—while they ring nicely of the conservative caricature of The Left—are not evidence of neoliberalism. Quite the opposite in fact.

I understand the urge to paint George Bush as “not conservative” (this has been Andrew Sullivan’s bread and butter for about four years), but “not conservative” is not “neoliberal.” (Duh.) And what we really don’t need right now, at this point in history, is a supposedly “not conservative” columnist in the Washington Post using the word “liberal” as an essentially meaningless all-purpose insult.

April 20, 2007

That word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

Filed under: Not Tech, Politics — Chris @ 11:34 pm

Today’s NY Times article about Harry Reid contains the single most idiotic piece of argumentation I’ve ever heard from a Republican (and that’s saying something):

Representative Peter Hoekstra, a Michigan Republican, said: “If Harry Reid believes that this war is lost, where is his plan to win this war?”

April 19, 2007

Straw Men in Jars

Filed under: Not Tech, Politics — Chris @ 1:28 pm

Shorter David Brooks: We are not brains!

(Sorry about that pay wall.)

February 7, 2007

The Congressional Work Ethic

Filed under: Not Tech, Politics — Chris @ 3:08 pm

Correct me if I’m wrong: are these Congressmen (of both parties) actually complaining about how hard, nigh impossible, it is to work five days a week? Is Jon Tester (“We shouldn’t complain about a little inconvenience. I got a lot of people in my state working two five-day weeks”) the only Senator who understands how ridiculous that sounds? There are poor people who work two jobs. There are middle-income and rich people (and graduate students!) who work nights and weekends (but not mornings!)…

Here’s an idea: if you don’t like the hours, you don’t have to be a Congressman! I’m sure your top-tier law firms and lobbying outfits will give you a week off every month.

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