Archive for October, 2011

Garbage in, garbage out

October 31, 2011

Drew Westen’s piece in the New York Times this weekend might have achieved anti-perfection. John Sides already dismantled it yesterday. And Jon Bernstein piled on this morning. Seth Masket added some more this afternoon.  I was going to write a longer post, but the targets are quickly evaporating, so I’ll just address one so-far-unaddressed...
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Double Herman-uetic

October 31, 2011

Herman Cain is under fire for alleged sexual harassment, which his campaign is now flatly denying. What can we say about all of this? Two quick points: 1. Amateur presidential candidates are more likely than career politicians to be tripped up by past indiscretions. This is because they’ve never been vetted politically before. For...
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Required Reading

October 30, 2011

Drew Westen’s piece in the New York Times this weekend might have achieved anti-perfection. John Sides has already dismantled it as a factual matter. Tomorrow I’ll have some thoughts of my own on Westen’s understanding of politics. Update: The post is up, although now that Jon Bernstein and Seth Masket have piled on, I...
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Saturday APD-Congress Blogging: Clustered Voting in the House

October 29, 2011
Saturday APD-Congress Blogging: Clustered Voting in the House

The floor of the House chamber plays a central role in the practice of congressional politics in Washington. In one sense, this centrality is obvious: the floor serves as the physical location of official decision-making and debate. But the importance of the floor to the structure of congressional politics is much wider than this,...
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Game Seven

October 28, 2011
Game Seven

Oh, Nelly. First off, the win-probability fangraph from last night is just ridiculous. Anyway, less than five minutes after the game ended, a friend of mine texted me the following: amazing. too bad game 7 will probably be a huge letdown. In one sense, that’s almost certainly true. It’s hard to imagine tonight’s game...
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Slim and none, and slim just wrote a Times op-ed

October 27, 2011

Following a Twitter challenge yesterday, Nate Silver  — whose work I generally very much admire — posted an article in the Times today that strikes me as unusually pedantic: But I do know what an analyst should not do: he should not use terms like “never” and “no chance” when applied to Mr. Cain’s...
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Ten years burning down the road

October 26, 2011
Ten years burning down the road

Today, October 26th, is the 10th anniversary of the Patriot Act. I’m pretty surprised that no one seems to care. Whatever you think of the merits of the law (P.L. 107-56; reauthorizations in P.L. 109-177,  P.L. 109-178, P.L. 111-142, P.L. 112-14), I don’t think there’s any doubt that it’s the symbol of America’s public...
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Flattened

October 25, 2011

Back when I was a lowly intern on the Hill in the 90′s and flat tax proposals were enjoying their second(?) renaissance, I got talking about them to my boss (a conservative Democrat) on a car ride and he said something that always stuck with me. I don’t think it gets more succinctly correct...
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Executive sidestepping

October 24, 2011

It appears that President Obama is about to unveil some new initiatives regarding housing and student loans. These may or may not be good policies — I honestly have no idea. But the idea that the president is somehow “sidestepping” Congress in doing this strikes me as just wrong. And yet that’s exactly how...
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Sundry Sunday Items

October 23, 2011

1. The Iraq war is about to end, at least for U.S. armed forces. I don’t care what your partisan alignment is, this is a great thing. Period. I only hope that it will begin a more general policy of reversing the trend of American military presence abroad. And I don’t mean the post-9/11...
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On political information

October 22, 2011

Some random theorizing I was doing today in the wake of some political discussions. Two statements that I think are indisputably true: (1) In any democracy, some small subset of the citizenry will be better informed about politics than the rest of the population. Following Popkin, we could call them high-information and low-information voters....
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It doesn’t matter. But in what way?

October 21, 2011
It doesn’t matter. But in what way?

There are a lot of things in politics that just don’t matter much. That is, they don’t have any independent effect on the political outcome — which candidate wins, what policy passes, etc. This is often true even about things that seem like they should matter a lot, especially in the world of campaigns...
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A House Divided

October 20, 2011
A House Divided

People keep pointing me toward  E.J. Dionne’s op-ed in today’s Post. I’m not all that enthused about it, in part because the analogy is absurdly tortured and the  history is a bit stylized, but mostly because I don’t see how the lesson of Lincoln can be applied here. Let me explain. Dionne’s pitch is...
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GOP Debate: Let’s get historical!

October 19, 2011

I always cringe when candidates start to riff on U.S. history in debates, but last night, thankfully, wasn’t too bad. Gingrich, not surprisingly, threw out a couple of historical items that I thought were noteworthy. First, the question was raised by the moderator regarding the relevance of Romney’s Mormon faith and all that jazz. ...
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Tuesday APD blogging: The case of the federal calendar

October 18, 2011
Tuesday APD blogging: The case of the federal calendar

There’s a tendency in popular political culture to assign the Framers a laughably extreme degree of reverence, one way or another. In one popular view, they’re treated as god-like figures who could do no wrong and wrote an infallible Constitution, with neither the men nor the Constitution worthy of anything but complete adulation. In...
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On populists and the establishment

October 17, 2011

Jonathan Bernstein has a post today that I highly recommend, about the problem with the political term ‘establishment:’ Which is why I try to avoid the term “establishment.” It conjures up, to me at least, a monolithic group of insiders who either control or fail to control everyone else. But that’s just not the case...
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Sunday whimsy: political conversations with my family

October 16, 2011

I’m in northern New York right now, back to my hometown for the weekend for my nephew’s 1st birthday party. Always a good place to talk politics, and some pretty memorable conversations with the family: Friday morning, on the plane Me : Anna [my 3-year old...
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On Civil Disobedience and draft card burning

October 15, 2011
On Civil Disobedience and draft card burning

Forty-six years ago today — October 15, 1965 — David J. Miller, a 24-year old Christian pacifist of the Catholic Worker Movement, burned his draft card in Manhattan, and became the first person arrested and convicted under P.L. 89-152 (79 Stat. 586; August 31, 1965), which had altered the Selective Service statute by four...
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How would Watergate have played out absent the 25th amendment?

October 14, 2011
How would Watergate have played out absent the 25th amendment?

I’ve been thinking a bit lately about the 25th amendment, which did three things: formally specified that if the President leaves office prior to his term ending, the Vice President becomes President (as opposed to “acting President” or “having the powers of the Presidency devlove to them,” which was ambigous in the original Constitution); put in...
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Posterior Perry-bility: A (semi-serious) Bayesian update of Rick Perry

October 13, 2011

As we continue to adjust the trims on our Who Will Be the Nominee© model, let’s assess Rick Perry’s chances of the GOP nomination, given his track record in the first four debates. If we go with the traditional political science wisdom that campaigns don’t matter that much (good review of topic here), then ...
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