maxomai: dog (Default)
A year ago - December 27, 2011 - I gave my predictions for what would happen in 2012. Unlike most other political pundits, however, I score myself on my predictions a year later.

My predictions for last year were:


  1. Barack Obama will be re-elected to a second term as President.

  2. John Boehner will be ousted as Speaker of the House.

  3. Democrats will just barely hold on to the US Senate

  4. The US unemployment rate will dip below 8%.

  5. The European Union will hold on .. barely.

  6. Inflation will remain below 10%.

  7. Protest movements in the US, Russia, Europe and MENA will accelerate.

  8. The US will substantially reduce its troop presence in Afghanistan.

  9. Oregon will win the Rose Bowl.



Let's see how I did!

Read more... )
maxomai: dog (Default)
Wherein Pat Robertson admits that he misheard from God about the results of the election.



It remains to be seen whether he thinks through the implications of this. I'm not holding my breath.
maxomai: dog (dog)
So, now that the election results are in for all but a smattering of races, let's see how I did on my election predictions for this year.


  1. Barack Obama will be re-elected to a second term as President. This of course happened, and it happened for pretty much the reasons I stated. The Republican brand was in shambles by election day, especially on the heels of nutcases like Akin and Mourdock coming out of the closet on their true feelings about reproductive rights. This, combined with Obama's approval ratings going back above 50% in late October, pretty much sealed the deal. What's really interesting, though, is just how in denial the Republican faithful were on election day. They had gone so far as to convince themselves that all the scientific polls were wrong. And when they turned out to be right, they were stunned.

  2. John Boehner will be ousted as Speaker of the House. In fact, Boehner managed to come out of the election stronger than before. The Republicans lost seats - a lot of seats - but most of the seats they lost belonged to Tea Party caucus members. Having fought off a challenge from outside, and with his main opponents inside his own caucus weakened, Boehner now has all the cards he needs to be a truly effective Speaker of the House.

  3. Democrats will just barely hold on to the US Senate. In fact, the Democrats did better than I imagined this year. They got the pickup in Massachusetts (which I expected). Additionally, they managed a pickup in Maine (which a few people predicted, on the assumption that Olympia Snowe might retire), and another in Indiana (which nobody saw coming). Meanwhile, the Republicans missed a great pickup opportunity in Missouri and another one in Montana, mostly because their candidates were too anti-abortion for the electorate's taste.

maxomai: (President Barack Hussein Obama)
Dave Wasserman brings us the news:

And with that, the moment many have been waiting for has arrived. @MittRomney drops to 47.49% of the popular vote: https://t.co/jCy2jAEZ


Which, of course, when rounded to the nearest integer in the conventional way .. is 47%.

Pat yourselves on the back, Obama voters. You built this.
maxomai: dog (Default)


Quoting this reddit thread:

I asked the voters on either side of me if they had any problems and they reported they did not. I then called over a volunteer to have a look at it. She him hawed for a bit then calmly said “It’s nothing to worry about, everything will be OK.” and went back to what she was doing. I then recorded this video.


Nothing to worry about. Especially if you're in a hurry or have poor eyesight.....

This is another data point for the superiority of vote-by-mail.
maxomai: dog (Default)
We vote by mail in Oregon, and my ballot arrived today. I just took the time to fill it out. Tomorrow morning I'm going to talk to one of the drop-off points and deposit my ballot; thus I will have completed my voting duties for 2012.

I voted for Kate Brown for Secretary of State;
YES on 77
YES on 78
NO on 79 (come on.)
YES on 80 (it's about time we started backing off marijuana prohibition)
NO on 81 (right hearted but badly written)
NO on 82 and 83 (SCAM!!!)
NO on 84 (We have enough revenue issues in Oregon)
YES on 85 (because the Corporate Kicker needs to die IMO)
YES on the library district (even though it's going to cost me a fortune)
YES on police and fire pension reforms
YES on school district bonds
NO on arts district because I think a flat $35/year is regressive. I'm thinking of all the people I love who are flat broke here.


Of course, I also savored voting for Barack Obama one more time. Last time it was because I thought he'd be a real agent of change. This time it's because he repealed DADT, invested $90B in wind and solar, saved the auto industry, prevented a recession, killed OBL, and saved SC's dad from being dropped from his health insurance after he got cancer. There's a lot of thing I wish he'd done differently, but I'm eager to see what he can do with four more years.
maxomai: dog (Default)
We vote by mail in Oregon, and my ballot arrived today. I just took the time to fill it out. Tomorrow morning I'm going to talk to one of the drop-off points and deposit my ballot; thus I will have completed my voting duties for 2012.

I voted for Kate Brown for Secretary of State;
YES on 77
YES on 78
NO on 79 (come on.)
YES on 80 (it's about time we started backing off marijuana prohibition)
NO on 81 (right hearted but badly written)
NO on 82 and 83 (SCAM!!!)
NO on 84 (We have enough revenue issues in Oregon)
YES on 85 (because the Corporate Kicker needs to die IMO)
YES on the library district (even though it's going to cost me a fortune)
YES on police and fire pension reforms
YES on school district bonds
NO on arts district because I think a flat $35/year is regressive. I'm thinking of all the people I love who are flat broke here.


Of course, I also savored voting for Barack Obama one more time. Last time it was because I thought he'd be a real agent of change. This time it's because he repealed DADT, invested $90B in wind and solar, saved the auto industry, prevented a recession, killed OBL, and saved SC's dad from being dropped from his health insurance after he got cancer. There's a lot of thing I wish he'd done differently, but I'm eager to see what he can do with four more years.
maxomai: dog (Default)
When you're running on a narrative of creating American jobs better than the incumbent can, this is not the sort of story you need.

When Bain first led a buyout of Sensata, in fact, it laid off hundreds of American workers and sent their jobs offshore. As the Times reported, the Labor Department spent $780,000 retraining some of the laid-off employees.

In addition, Mr. Romney’s generous retirement agreement ensures that he continues to profit from the deals and decisions that Bain makes. He owns about $8 million worth of Bain funds that hold 51 percent of Sensata’s shares. If Sensata saves money by closing the Freeport plant, that could add money to Mr. Romney’s trust accounts, now or after the election.

Many conservatives want Mr. Romney to make a full-throated defense of these practices, and hope he explains to Americans that plant closings and offshoring are a natural part of capitalism and can have long-term positive effects for the economy.

But Mr. Romney clearly feels he can’t do that, because the political effect of defending layoffs would be toxic. That’s especially true because his entire campaign is built around accusing President Obama of not creating enough American jobs.


The much less weighty Salem-News.com puts it another way: "Romney's Company Forces U.S. Flag to Be Lowered in Illinois." Ouch.
maxomai: dog (Default)
When you're running on a narrative of creating American jobs better than the incumbent can, this is not the sort of story you need.

When Bain first led a buyout of Sensata, in fact, it laid off hundreds of American workers and sent their jobs offshore. As the Times reported, the Labor Department spent $780,000 retraining some of the laid-off employees.

In addition, Mr. Romney’s generous retirement agreement ensures that he continues to profit from the deals and decisions that Bain makes. He owns about $8 million worth of Bain funds that hold 51 percent of Sensata’s shares. If Sensata saves money by closing the Freeport plant, that could add money to Mr. Romney’s trust accounts, now or after the election.

Many conservatives want Mr. Romney to make a full-throated defense of these practices, and hope he explains to Americans that plant closings and offshoring are a natural part of capitalism and can have long-term positive effects for the economy.

But Mr. Romney clearly feels he can’t do that, because the political effect of defending layoffs would be toxic. That’s especially true because his entire campaign is built around accusing President Obama of not creating enough American jobs.


The much less weighty Salem-News.com puts it another way: "Romney's Company Forces U.S. Flag to Be Lowered in Illinois." Ouch.
maxomai: dog (Default)
So as I understand it, the debate rules say:

"No props, notes, charts, diagrams, or other writings or other tangible things may be brought into the debate by any candidate."


So what the hell is this?



What's going on here? The President's campaign is already seizing on this.....

Update: The consensus is that this is a handkerchief.

I call bullshit.

Call me paranoid, but I've seen students cheat in all sorts of creative ways. Wrapping a cheat sheet in an ordinary kerchief would not be exactly original.
maxomai: dog (Default)
So as I understand it, the debate rules say:

"No props, notes, charts, diagrams, or other writings or other tangible things may be brought into the debate by any candidate."


So what the hell is this?



What's going on here? The President's campaign is already seizing on this.....

Update: The consensus is that this is a handkerchief.

I call bullshit.

Call me paranoid, but I've seen students cheat in all sorts of creative ways. Wrapping a cheat sheet in an ordinary kerchief would not be exactly original.
maxomai: dog (dog)
Back in December I predicted that the U3 unemployment rate would go below 8%. Today, the BLS announced that the unemployment rate fell to 7.8%. A year ago, that number was 9%.

This is the U3 rate, which doesn't cover underemployed persons or persons who have given up looking for work. The statistic that does include underemployed persons and persons who have given up is the U6 rate, which saw an even more dramatic drop over the last year, from 16.4% to 14.7%. In fact, the single biggest contributor to the drop in both rates is that 873,000 more persons found jobs in the last month.

All of that is The Good. Which brings us to The Bad, which is that this is the lowest the unemployment rate has been since President Obama took office. President Obama and the Democrats are blaming this on Republican obstructionism in the Congress, but that's only part of the story. The other part is that the 2009 stimulus was completely inadequate to keep the unemployment rate below 8% for very long. It was too small, focused on the wrong priorities (such as tax cuts), and by virtue of its inadequacy, it almost certainly cost the Democrats control of the House in 2010. Krugman is right about the economics. If he's also right about the politics - that Predident Obama crafted an inadequate stimulus in a vain attempt to gain bipartisan support - then this reflects a serious strategic blunder on the President's part that has hampered his administration ever since.

The ugly bit is that this improvement in the jobs picture is somewhat fragile. The global recovery is softening in no small part due to the Eurozone crisis. Oil prices are buoyed by the Arab Spring, but if not for that they would have crashed on weak demand. And if Romney should manage to get elected with Republican-controlled Congress, his austerity measures (e.g. "fire Big Bird") would almost certainly send this unemployment rate right back up. Thus, the economic case for President Obama is that he, despite screwing up the stimulus in the name of bipartisanship, is still the far better choice for economic growth over Mitt Romney. (Yes, I know there's the Green Party and the Libertarian Party. Let's see them pick up some Congressional seats first.)

In any case, Prediction #4 has now manifested. Score one for the yellow dog.

Update: BondDad says that this means the election is effectively over. Bullshit; even if the Presidency is assured (which it is not), there's still down-ticket races that the Democrats have to win, particularly Congress, state legislatures, and Secretaries of State.
maxomai: dog (dog)
Back in December I predicted that the U3 unemployment rate would go below 8%. Today, the BLS announced that the unemployment rate fell to 7.8%. A year ago, that number was 9%.

This is the U3 rate, which doesn't cover underemployed persons or persons who have given up looking for work. The statistic that does include underemployed persons and persons who have given up is the U6 rate, which saw an even more dramatic drop over the last year, from 16.4% to 14.7%. In fact, the single biggest contributor to the drop in both rates is that 873,000 more persons found jobs in the last month.

All of that is The Good. Which brings us to The Bad, which is that this is the lowest the unemployment rate has been since President Obama took office. President Obama and the Democrats are blaming this on Republican obstructionism in the Congress, but that's only part of the story. The other part is that the 2009 stimulus was completely inadequate to keep the unemployment rate below 8% for very long. It was too small, focused on the wrong priorities (such as tax cuts), and by virtue of its inadequacy, it almost certainly cost the Democrats control of the House in 2010. Krugman is right about the economics. If he's also right about the politics - that Predident Obama crafted an inadequate stimulus in a vain attempt to gain bipartisan support - then this reflects a serious strategic blunder on the President's part that has hampered his administration ever since.

The ugly bit is that this improvement in the jobs picture is somewhat fragile. The global recovery is softening in no small part due to the Eurozone crisis. Oil prices are buoyed by the Arab Spring, but if not for that they would have crashed on weak demand. And if Romney should manage to get elected with Republican-controlled Congress, his austerity measures (e.g. "fire Big Bird") would almost certainly send this unemployment rate right back up. Thus, the economic case for President Obama is that he, despite screwing up the stimulus in the name of bipartisanship, is still the far better choice for economic growth over Mitt Romney. (Yes, I know there's the Green Party and the Libertarian Party. Let's see them pick up some Congressional seats first.)

In any case, Prediction #4 has now manifested. Score one for the yellow dog.

Update: BondDad says that this means the election is effectively over. Bullshit; even if the Presidency is assured (which it is not), there's still down-ticket races that the Democrats have to win, particularly Congress, state legislatures, and Secretaries of State.
maxomai: (angry-penguin)
President Obama, you've ordered drone strikes throughout the Middle East and North Africa that have killed hundreds of civilians. Last month, protesters throughout the Middle East and North Africa stormed American embassies over a shoddy, stupid YouTube video. We all know that the American government had nothing to do with that video, and that the protesters' anger was misplaced; but can you see how America's heavy handed Middle East policy, of which the drone strikes are just the latest example, might have the residents of the Middle East in a less than charitable mood towards us? Isn't it about time that we had an adult conversation about what our Middle East policy has cost our Republic in reputation, not to mention blood, treasure, and civil liberties?

Governor Romney, you cited Russia as America's greatest geopolitical foe, and said that you would get tough on China from day one. Did the Cold War ever end in your mind? Are you still living in 1982?

President Obama, when the banking crisis hit Iceland, one of they actions they took towards economic recovery was to arrest the bankers that created their economic disaster. Why haven't we arrested the bankers that created our disaster?

Governor Romney, in 1994 you were pro-choice. In 2012 you are staunchly pro-life. If abortion is illegal, and a woman obtains an illegal abortion and is caught, would you send her to jail, and for how long? Can you understand why a woman would obtain an abortion? Do you also agree that contraception should be outlawed? Lastly, how are you not an incredible flip-flopper?

President Obama, under your administration, you gave the Nuremberg defense to justify not prosecuting the war criminals of the previous administration. Your administration has also carried out warrantless surveillance, indefinite detention, and even execution of American citizens, without due process. Should these policies continue? If so, why? If not, why haven't you ended them already?

Governor Romney, you stated that you would have pushed the Iraqis harder to allow American troops to continue their occupation. Let's forget for a moment that this would have been massively unpopular in the United States. Iraq is a democracy. Their government, which represents the people, don't want American troops in their country. If we respect the democratic process, shouldn't we, by extension, respect the Iraqis' wishes that we leave them alone?

President Obama, you stated in your convention speech that you understand that global warming isn't a hoax. Does that understanding also extent to the Keystone pipeline, which global warming experts have called "game over" for global warming?

Governor Romney, your plan to balance the budget includes $500 billion a year in tax cuts. The projected deficit for 2012 is over $1.3 trillion. If we were to include your tax cuts, the deficit would balloon to $1.8 trillion. Therefore, in order to balance the budget, you would have to cut $1.8 trillion from a $3.8 trillion budget - effectively, you'd have to cut it in half. What do you cut and by how much?

President Obama, your health care law gives health insurance companies an almost mandatory market, sets up a complicated regulatory infrastructure, and only expands Medicaid in those states whose governors weren't petulant and small-minded enough to reject federal assistance for medicaid expansion. Wouldn't it just have been easier to go with Medicare For Everyone and be done with it?

Governor Romney, your health care plan would leave 72 million Americans without insurance. This is a good idea...why, exactly?

President Obama, in 2009 when you were putting together your stimulus plan, your goal was to keep unemployment under eight percent. Paul Krugman said that the stimulus had to be larger, two trillion dollars instead of seven hundred billion. He also stated that making the stimulus mostly out of tax cuts was a mistake, because those dollars wouldn't be stimulative enough. Finally, he said that if you didn't get it right the first time, the political will for a second stimulus wouldn't be there. The unemployment rate has been over eight percent for years, and Congress isn't budging on a second stimulus. Are you ready to admit that Krugman was right?

Governor Romney, you're a Mormon. Your dad was born in Mexico to a polygamist family. President Obama, by way of comparison, is an Episcopalian. His dad was born overseas and was living in the United States on a student visa. Whose family background is weirder? And, if President Obama is really that far outside the American mainstream by virtue of his background, what does that make you?
maxomai: (angry-penguin)
President Obama, you've ordered drone strikes throughout the Middle East and North Africa that have killed hundreds of civilians. Last month, protesters throughout the Middle East and North Africa stormed American embassies over a shoddy, stupid YouTube video. We all know that the American government had nothing to do with that video, and that the protesters' anger was misplaced; but can you see how America's heavy handed Middle East policy, of which the drone strikes are just the latest example, might have the residents of the Middle East in a less than charitable mood towards us? Isn't it about time that we had an adult conversation about what our Middle East policy has cost our Republic in reputation, not to mention blood, treasure, and civil liberties?

Governor Romney, you cited Russia as America's greatest geopolitical foe, and said that you would get tough on China from day one. Did the Cold War ever end in your mind? Are you still living in 1982?

President Obama, when the banking crisis hit Iceland, one of they actions they took towards economic recovery was to arrest the bankers that created their economic disaster. Why haven't we arrested the bankers that created our disaster?

Governor Romney, in 1994 you were pro-choice. In 2012 you are staunchly pro-life. If abortion is illegal, and a woman obtains an illegal abortion and is caught, would you send her to jail, and for how long? Can you understand why a woman would obtain an abortion? Do you also agree that contraception should be outlawed? Lastly, how are you not an incredible flip-flopper?

President Obama, under your administration, you gave the Nuremberg defense to justify not prosecuting the war criminals of the previous administration. Your administration has also carried out warrantless surveillance, indefinite detention, and even execution of American citizens, without due process. Should these policies continue? If so, why? If not, why haven't you ended them already?

Governor Romney, you stated that you would have pushed the Iraqis harder to allow American troops to continue their occupation. Let's forget for a moment that this would have been massively unpopular in the United States. Iraq is a democracy. Their government, which represents the people, don't want American troops in their country. If we respect the democratic process, shouldn't we, by extension, respect the Iraqis' wishes that we leave them alone?

President Obama, you stated in your convention speech that you understand that global warming isn't a hoax. Does that understanding also extent to the Keystone pipeline, which global warming experts have called "game over" for global warming?

Governor Romney, your plan to balance the budget includes $500 billion a year in tax cuts. The projected deficit for 2012 is over $1.3 trillion. If we were to include your tax cuts, the deficit would balloon to $1.8 trillion. Therefore, in order to balance the budget, you would have to cut $1.8 trillion from a $3.8 trillion budget - effectively, you'd have to cut it in half. What do you cut and by how much?

President Obama, your health care law gives health insurance companies an almost mandatory market, sets up a complicated regulatory infrastructure, and only expands Medicaid in those states whose governors weren't petulant and small-minded enough to reject federal assistance for medicaid expansion. Wouldn't it just have been easier to go with Medicare For Everyone and be done with it?

Governor Romney, your health care plan would leave 72 million Americans without insurance. This is a good idea...why, exactly?

President Obama, in 2009 when you were putting together your stimulus plan, your goal was to keep unemployment under eight percent. Paul Krugman said that the stimulus had to be larger, two trillion dollars instead of seven hundred billion. He also stated that making the stimulus mostly out of tax cuts was a mistake, because those dollars wouldn't be stimulative enough. Finally, he said that if you didn't get it right the first time, the political will for a second stimulus wouldn't be there. The unemployment rate has been over eight percent for years, and Congress isn't budging on a second stimulus. Are you ready to admit that Krugman was right?

Governor Romney, you're a Mormon. Your dad was born in Mexico to a polygamist family. President Obama, by way of comparison, is an Episcopalian. His dad was born overseas and was living in the United States on a student visa. Whose family background is weirder? And, if President Obama is really that far outside the American mainstream by virtue of his background, what does that make you?
maxomai: dog (Default)
So...it's almost October. I made some predictions about how the 2012 election would go. Let's review these really quickly:


  1. Barack Obama will be re-elected to a second term as President.

  2. John Boehner will be ousted as Speaker of the House.

  3. Democrats will just barely hold on to the US Senate


  4. Right now the polls give Obama a small but significant lead - significant enough so that, if we held the election today, Nate Silver's "Now-Cast" model says he would get about 52% of the vote and about 330 electoral college votes. If we reject Dick Morris's and others' whining about a conspiracy of poll bias for the nonsense that it is, we can safely say that Obama is, right now, winning this election. He and Romney have three debates coming up, and that gives Romney three chances to turn this around. To win those, he has to get over the fact that he's just not that personable compared to President Obama. There's also a possibility of some disaster that Romney can capitalize upon, but we've already seen how he handles that.



    Obama's momentum in the polls has had coattails in Congress. The GOP was hoping to win enough seats to gain control of the Senate, but now it looks like a wash: if the election were held now, the Democrats would lose MT, ND and NE, but win IN and MA, with a seat in ME going to an independent who will caucus with the Democrats. The stretch goal of the Democrats now is to win back control of the House, which will require them to net 25 seats - an ambitious goal, but not an impossible one.



    What might make this task easier for Democrats is what I think might happen this month:



  5. The US unemployment rate will dip below 8%.


  6. Given the stronger than expected economic numbers this last month, it could happen.



maxomai: dog (Default)
So...it's almost October. I made some predictions about how the 2012 election would go. Let's review these really quickly:


  1. Barack Obama will be re-elected to a second term as President.

  2. John Boehner will be ousted as Speaker of the House.

  3. Democrats will just barely hold on to the US Senate


  4. Right now the polls give Obama a small but significant lead - significant enough so that, if we held the election today, Nate Silver's "Now-Cast" model says he would get about 52% of the vote and about 330 electoral college votes. If we reject Dick Morris's and others' whining about a conspiracy of poll bias for the nonsense that it is, we can safely say that Obama is, right now, winning this election. He and Romney have three debates coming up, and that gives Romney three chances to turn this around. To win those, he has to get over the fact that he's just not that personable compared to President Obama. There's also a possibility of some disaster that Romney can capitalize upon, but we've already seen how he handles that.



    Obama's momentum in the polls has had coattails in Congress. The GOP was hoping to win enough seats to gain control of the Senate, but now it looks like a wash: if the election were held now, the Democrats would lose MT, ND and NE, but win IN and MA, with a seat in ME going to an independent who will caucus with the Democrats. The stretch goal of the Democrats now is to win back control of the House, which will require them to net 25 seats - an ambitious goal, but not an impossible one.



    What might make this task easier for Democrats is what I think might happen this month:



  5. The US unemployment rate will dip below 8%.


  6. Given the stronger than expected economic numbers this last month, it could happen.



maxomai: (typewriter guy wtf)
So, to review: the Republican National Convention ended with a confusing, embarrassing routine by Clint Eastwood, followed by a barn-burner of a speech by Mark Rubio, followed by a safe, well delivered, and, to anyone paying attention, massively dishonest acceptance speech by Mitt Romney.

If you're wondering what that's all about, here's my theory.

Let's assume, for now, that the GOP is looking at the same analysis of the polls as I am. Barring another war, an economic implosion, or some other catastrophe, Obama is a two-to-one favorite to win re-election. The GOP needs a game-changer in order to turn this around. How, then, do you accomplish this?

You accomplish this by doing something bold and daring (or, if you prefer, crazy and stupid). You bring in a huge draw like Clint Eastwood to get otherwise disinterested voters watching. And then you follow with your strongest speaker. And then you follow with your candidate.

Honestly, I'm impressed. Clint Eastwood was a freakshow, but I think disinterested voters probably stayed for Rubio and Romney, and I think that might have made an impression. Whether it's enough to be a game changer is up in the air - we'll know better after the post-convention polls come out. But I think it's safe to say that if Mitt Romney wins this election, it was because he followed after Clint Eastwood and Mark Rubio tonight.

(It follows, by the way, that I do not believe that Romney is still pursuing a crank-the-base strategy; he's done consolidating his base, and he's going for uncommitted voters.)

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