It looks very much like the Foleygate scandal has almost completely died down, as least as far as its coverage in the media is concerned. While the "Republican scandal" meme still has a little life in it, it's barely more prevalent than it was before Foleygate broke.
I take this as an example of how the Democrats are very much worse at scandal-mongering than the Republicans are. I think we can take it for granted that if Foleygate had been a Democratic scandal, it would still be very much alive at this time, kept afloat by talking points emanating from the RNC and followed to a tee by the Limbaughs, Coulters and Drudges of the world, as well as their blogospheric clones.
On the one hand, I suppose we can revel in the fact that Democrats are more ethical, and more decent than the opposition, but that's not going to go down very well if we don't do well in this election. The unwillingness to fight back, hard, with every weapon available has been the downfall of the Democrats, and has allowed the Republicans to hijack elections with hard-hitting trash and their GOTV program.
Lots of talk all around about this being a wave election -- even the very cautious professional prognoticators (Cook, Rothenberg, Sabato) have taken up the idea, so it's very much part of the conventional wisdom. I can't help thinking, though, that the wave is going to be somewhat smaller than it might have been, because of the Democrat's unwillingness to get down into the trenches and really go hand-to-hand with the opposition.
P.S. Having trouble tonight posting to Blogger -- lots of errors popping up.
Update: Of course, there will be no official report on the Foleygate investigation before the election. How convenient.
Analysis: Everything's fairly static today. There continues to be some gentle slippage in the House Democratic numbers, which also showed in the trendline pulling back a little from yesterday. The Senate trendlines seem slightly less flattened today. Otherwise, things continued pretty much as they were.
Note: Another early posting today. I'll pick up any late changes (such as Election Projection) tomorrow.
Update (10/30): The House Projections and Senate Projections graphs originally posted with this report were incorrect, due to a data range error which eliminated some Republican data, truncating and altering the Republican trendline. The incorrect chart has now been replaced.
Lots of commentary in the realitysphere in the past few days about Bush's flip-flopping on "Stay the Course." You'll recall that "Stay the Course" was the official position, the one that the RNC told everyone to cozy up to as an election winner, but now that it's not playing well in Peoria, Bush seemed to hesitate, first saying it was never the watchword, really, then saying he didn't mean that. (These guys don't need Orwell's "memory hole" to re-write the past, they've got Tony Snow. They just flat out deny saying what everyone knows they said, and the media lets them get away with it. Amazing!)
Well, as much as I hate to admit it, I think I understand where Bush is coming from. For him "Stay the Course" doesn't mean continue doing the same thing, or don't change your goals, or keep plugging away, or anything smiliar that normal people would latch on to as its meaning. No, for him, "Stay the Course" simply means "I was right." For Bush, this is by far the most important thing, that there never be any acknowledgment that anything he did was wrong in even the slightest degree. So, the policies can shift, the military can adjust strategies and tactics, the goals can be altered, as long as it's clearly understood by everyone that doing so doesn't mean that Bush was wrong ... ever!
We don't, of course, know who sent Bill Clinton an envelope with a suspicious white powder in it (which turned out to be an inert substance), and maybe we'll never know, just as we don't know who sent the anthrax-laced letters in 2001, but hearing the story on the radio earlier today reminded me of the intense and totally irrational hatred of Bill and Hillary Clinton which emanates from many people on the right.
It's become something of a joke, actually, that whenever anything bad happens almost anywhere in the world, the right will dream up some reason why it is Bill Clinton's fault. This would be funnier, except that at the same time they're coming up with reasons why it isn't the fault of George W. Bush. The latest high-profile example of this that I can recall offhand is the nuclear test in North Korea, which had Republicans and conservatives bending over backwards and desperately rewriting history to find some reason (any reason) to blame it on Bill.
The warped thinking of some people is truly amazing, and disturbing, to see in action. Let's review:
Bill Clinton, despite being out of office for 6 years is in some way responsible for everything that goes wrong;
George Bush, on the other hand, despite being in office for 6 years is not reponsible for anything.
That's some interesting theory of personal responsibility they've got going there. Is it any wonder that somebody might have acted on it?
Update: A later report says that the envelope also contained a letter which the Secret Service described as a "rambling diatribe." More and more...
Speaking of responsibility, there's another group, besides Republican lawmakers, who expect to be able to misbehave, publicly twist and bend social codes and break the law with impunity. They're privileged, and don't expect to be held accountable for their actions, because they provide such an important service to the community -- and because they often get away with it. I'm talking about jocks, high school, college and professional.
It's no coincidence, I think, that both groups -- Republicans and jocks -- tend to be conservative and authoritarian. Has anyone explored the relationshop between Republicans and jocks?
What were seeing with the current Republican scandals is their rampant elitism coming home to roost -- which is why I've been pressing for the next Democratic candidate for President to ride a wave of progessive populism into office. Yesterday, on Tapped, there's some discussion about good populism versus bad populism. (I vote for the good kind, please.)
Analysis: No major changes to report today. The average graphs show a little slippage and a little gain but nothing that seems significant -- except perhaps that the gentle downward slope of the Republican House numbers may have been arrested. The Democratic House trendline continues on its upward path, while both Senate trendlines continue to flatten out.
Note: Today's report is being posted a little earlier than usual, as I've been sick all day and would like to try and get to bed a little earlier tonight. I'll pick up any late-posted numbers tomorrow.
Update (10/30): The House Projections and Senate Projections graphs originally posted with this report were incorrect, due to a data range error which eliminated some Republican data, truncating and altering the Republican trendline. The incorrect chart has now been replaced.
250) The trouble with the canons of scientific evidence [...] is that they virtually rule out the description of anything but oft-repeated, oft-observed, stereotypic behavior of a species, and this is just the sort of behavior that reveals no particular intelligence at all - all this behavior can be more or less plausibly explained as the effects of some humdrum combination of "instinct" or tropism and conditioned response. It is the novel bits of behavior, the acts that couldn't plausibly be accounted for in terms of prior conditioning or training or habit, that speak eloquently of intelligence; but if their very novelty and unrepeatability make them anecdotal and hence inadmissible evidence, how can one proceed to develop the cognitive case for the intelligence of one's target species?
Daniel C. Dennett The Intentional Stance (1987)
251) Philosophers are never quite sure what they are talking about - about what the issues really are - and so often it takes them rather a long time to recognize that someone with a somewhat different approach (or destination, or starting point) is making a contribution.
Daniel C. Dennett The Intentional Stance (1987)
Note: "3089/898" is the designation I've given to the project of posting all my collected quotes, excerpts and ideas (3089 of them) in the remaining days of the Bush administration (of which there were 898 left when I began). As of today, there are 816 days remaining in the administration of the worst President ever.
Analysis: The current conventional wisdom -- that the Democrats will take the House while the Republicans will retain control of the Senate by a bare majority -- is again supported by today's survey results, as previous positions were improved or solidified.
In the Senate, while the Democratic position stayed about the same or at best improved marginally (at just above 48 seats), the Republicans continued their build of the last few days, in which they have moved up from 49 seats to almost 50. The Senate Republican trendline continued to flatten out, losing its downward component, indicating that the current Senate momentum, which has been all the Democrats', may be abating somewhat. Note, however, that what's happening is that the rise of the Democrats and the fall of the Republicans are levelling off -- there is as yet no indication that the Republican build will start to turn around previous Democratic gains.
On the House side, the opposite dynamic is at work. Not only did the Democratic position improve considerably, but the gentle downward movement of the Republicans continued unabated, and even increased slightly. The Democratic polynomial trendline hit the 220 mark, and all Democratic averages are now significantly above the 218 mark, with 9-12 toss-up seats still to be allocated. There is little doubt that the collective judgment of the election projectors is that the Democrats will take the House -- the question at this point seems to be by what margin.
243) The distinction between responsible moral agents and beings with diminished or no responsibility is coherent, real, and important. It is coherent, even if in many instances it is hard to apply; it draws an empirically real line, in that we don't all fall on one side; and, most important, the distinction matters: the use we make of it plays a crucial role in the quality and meaning of our lives. [...] We want to hold ourselves and others responsible, but we recognize that our intuitions often support the judgement that a particular individual has "diminished responsibility" because of his or her infirmities, or because of particularly dire circumstances upon upbringing or at the time of action. We also find it plausible to judge that nonhuman animals, infants, and those who are severely handicapped mentally are not responsible at all. But since we are all more or less imperfect, will there be anyone left to be responsible after we have excused all those with good excuses? [...] We must set up some efficiently determinable threshold for legal competence, never for a moment supposing that there couldn't be intuitively persuasive "counterexamples" to whatever line we draw, but declaring in advance that such pleas will not be entertained. [...] The effect of such an institution [...] is to create [...] a class of legally culpable agents whose subsequent liability to punishment maintains the credibility of the sanctions of the laws. The institution, if it is to maintain itself, must provide for the fine tuning of its arbitrary thresholds as new information (or misinformation) emerges that might undercut its credibility. One can speculate that there is an optimal setting of the competence threshold (for any particular combination of social circumstances, degree of public sophistication, and so on) that maximizes the bracing effect of the law. A higher than optimal threshold would encourage a sort of malingering on the part of the defendants, which, if recognized by the populace, would diminish their respect for the law and hence diminish its deterrent effect. And a lower than optimal threshold would yield a diminishing return of deterrence and lead to the punishment of individuals who, in the eyes of society, "really couldn't help it." The public perception of the fairness of the law is a critical factor in its effectiveness.
Daniel C. Dennett Elbow Room: The Varieties of Free Will Worth Having (1984)
244) GIGO: Garbage in, garbage out.
Computer-users' aphorism (c. 1970) [B16]
245) In fact, of course, science is an unparalleled playground of the imagination, populated by unlikely characters with wonderful names (messenger RNA, black holes, quarks) and capable of performing the most amazing deeds: sub-atomic whirling dervishes that can be in several places - everywhere and nowhere - at the same time; molecular hoop-snakes biting their own tails; self-copying spiral staircases bearing coded instructions; miniature keys searching for the locks in which they fit, on floating odysseys in a trillion synaptic gulfs.
Daniel C. Dennett "Reflections on 'A Conversation With Einstein's Brain'" in The Mind's I (1981), Douglas R. Hofstadter and Daniel C. Dennett, eds.
246) Hopeful monsters.
Richard Goldschmidt The Material Basis of Evolution (1940)
247) [Goldschmidt] broke sharply with the synthetic theory, however, in arguing that new species arise abruptly by discontinuous variation, or macromutation. He admitted that the vast majority of macromutations could only be viewed as disastrous - these he called "monsters". But, Goldschmidt continued, every once in a while a macromutation might, by sheer good fortune, adapt an organism to a new mode of life, a "hopeful monster" in his terminology. Macroevolution proceeds by the rare success of these hopeful monsters, not by an accumulation of small changes within populations.
Stephen Jay Gould The Panda's Thumb (1980)
248) Sometimes I wonder which is the most important function of the refrigerator: storing the food on the inside or keeping the messages on the outside.
Donald A. Norman Turn Signals Are The Facial Expressions of Automobiles (1992)
249) [The 1980's were] a time when the voice of the superego was not widely heard in the land, nor were ids much reigned in. On the contrary, in the 1980's, the id ruled the national psyche.
Herbert Muschamp "A Man Who Lives in Two Glass Houses", Sunday New York Times Arts & Leisure Section (10/17/93)
Note: "3089/898" is the designation I've given to the project of posting all my collected quotes, excerpts and ideas (3089 of them) in the remaining days of the Bush administration (of which there were 898 left when I began). As of today, there are 817 days remaining in the administration of the worst President ever.
"Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
U.S. President George W. Bush signs H.R. 6061, the Secure Fence Act of 2006, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington October 26, 2006. Bush signed legislation on Thursday to build 700 miles (1,126 km) of fencing along the U.S.-Mexican border, an election-year move against illegal immigration aimed at helping Republicans. REUTERS/Jason Reed
Well, at least someone finds it amusing that's we're destroying one of our core principles, one which made America a great country, and raised it as the ideal, the place that everyone all over the world wanted to come to.
Not "bad" in the same sense as the RNC's racist anti-Ford ad for Corker in Tennessee (although that one was pretty "bad" in the other sense, too), but just plain badly made. Check out this ad in Missouri which is supposed to counter the Michael J. Fox stem-cell ad he did for Claire McCaskill.
All the shots in this commercial are quite shoddily composed. Except for the Heaton segment, they are a bit too close to be comfortable and they're done straight-on against a flat background, making them look somewhat squashed, as if they were filmed with a telephoto lens. (They weren't but that's sort of the effect they have.) They made me feel slightly uncomfortable to watch, and anxious for it to be done, not exactly the state of mind you want your audience to be in when you're lecturing them.
The Heaton segment at least made an attempt to be better composed and more appealing, but it was shot from too high an angle, with lighting that was too flat and didn't separate her from the background sufficiently. It, too, imposed yet a different kind of impersonality.
Think now of the Fox commerical, shot at eye level with the subject, at a suitable distance and a background comfortably lit in the middle distance behind him. There's a subtle and not at all distracting tightening of the shot to a medium close-up just before the fade-out -- it's very professionally done. Not that it's art or anything, but it's competent and professional and looks quite good.
This answering commercial looks like someone did it for a buck-fifty with their kids' vidcam.
While Democrats have surely had their share of politicians who live on the dark side of civility, it's by far the Republican party, following the advice of people like Lee "Darth Vader" Atwater and his acolyte Karl Rove, and egged on by Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly and their ilk, who brought negative campaigning, the politics of personal destruction, and the permanent campaign (which replaced the goal of proper governance with winning elections) to the depths it has reached today, when anything and everything -- smear campaigns, push polling, blatant and outrageous lies, associating your opponent with the enemy and calling them traitors, religious defamation, voter suppression, the misapplication of law, and the abuse of foreign policy for selfish political goals -- is used without qualm to crush your political opponent.
Today, in a post about ABC's journalmalism about negative campaigning, where explicit examples of Republican/right-wing misbehavior is "balanced" with a statement, presented without any evidence whatsoever, that the Democrats (referred to as "the left" -- HAH!) are probably doing it too, Kevin Drum agrees:
Sure, neither party is simon pure, but Tapper and McCown know perfectly well that the nauseating and polarized nature of modern American politics is almost entirely a Republican invention. From Lee Atwater to Rush Limbaugh to Newt Gingrich to Ken Starr to Tom DeLay to the Rove/Bush/Cheney machine, the Republican Party has pioneered a scorched-earth approach to politics that Democrats have never come close to matching. Their destruction of congressional traditions in the service of power has gone immensely farther than anything Democrats did when they were in power. Their deliberate and single-minded fealty to K Street lobbyists makes Democrats look like pikers.
Exactly the case, and yet another example of how phoney "balance" in a news story creates a misimpression which helps to perpetuate political urban legends, such as that there's no difference between Democrats and Republicans (pace Ralph Nader, may he rest in well-deserved obscurity). That this disinformation is useful primarily to the right-wing is not, I think, a coincidence.
Balance is good, when all sides of a controversy are examined, all leads are followed, all precepts are questioned, all statements cross-examined. Such balance helps to uncover facts and let us see reality as clearly as we can. "Balance" is another thing altogether: it's crock of shit. It warps our minds and veils reality from us. It serves those who must hold power through lies and propaganda and can't survive in the light of the day.
People who write "balanced" stories, whatever their personal politics or however nice or pleasant they are, do us a great disservice, and bear some measure of responsibility for the mess we're in.
And therein lies the gravest illness of modern journalism -- the refusal on the part of people like Kurtz to report on matters honestly and factually. When reporters have as their central mandate that they must criticize each side equally -- even if doing so causes them to report on matters dishonestly -- it encourages one side to sink as low as possible, to be as deceitful, corrupt and dishonorable as possible, because the media will never report that fact and will never identify the guilty side as doing anything different than the other side. In the world of Howie Kurtz, both sides are always equal and identical and the same, even when they aren't. [Emphasis added -- Ed]
Analysis: In the race for control of the House, the Democrats regained some of the ground they lost in the past few days, to be positioned just at or slightly above the 218 goal line. In addition the polynomial trendline continued to rise above the 218 mark. The House Republicans, on the other hand, basically maintained their position with just a bit of softening. (These changes were primarily due to a number of new projections added to the survey.)
If this relationship is maintained until Election Day, and the 10-14 toss-up seats break in similar or greater proportion, the conventional wisdom will hold and the Democrats will take the House.
On the Senate side, Republicans improved somewhat, increasing their lead, while the Democrats stayed static, due to a number of sites moving ratings in the Republicans' favor. The Senate polynomial trendlines continued to separate, indicating less chance of the Democrats moving ahead of their opponents. The chances of the Republicans maintaining contol of the Senate are better than they were at the beginning of the survey 10 days ago, while the Democrats, after a period of improvement, are back where they began or slightly worse.
In the Senate, as in the House, the conventional wisdom looks to be maintained, that the Republicans will hold that chamber by a slim majority.
...that Gregg Easterbrook is an idiot. He writes about the Lancet study:
I suspect one reason the Iraq death toll elicits so little concern is that exaggerated estimates exist. Americans can say of the exaggerated estimates, "Oh, that's way too high" and skip over thinking about the more probable numbers. The latest silly estimate comes from a new study in the British medical journal Lancet, which absurdly estimates that since March 2003 exactly 654,965 Iraqis have died as a consequence of American action. The study uses extremely loose methods of estimation, including attributing about half its total to "unknown causes." The study also commits the logical offense of multiplying a series of estimates, then treating the result as precise. White House officials have dismissed the Lancet study, and they should. It's gibberish.
This isn't hard stuff and it certainly isn't gibberish.
Right, unless you're an idiot.
Update:Wes Parker, a commenter on the Yglesias weblog, says:
I particularly enjoy people who refer to the "Mortality after the 2003 invasion of Iraq" as the "Lancet" study, or the "British" study. Somehow the news that the study was done by a Johns Hopkins-Columbia University-Al-Mustansiriya University team doesn't percolate down the information chain. Could that be because people might take a "Johns-Hopkins" study more seriously?
I was tickled some years ago when someone came up with the new word "vidpoint" to describe the point in one's life when the number of hours one has recorded on videotape to be watched exceeds the expected number of hours left in one's life. Now, someone needs to invent a similar word that describes the point in a comment thread when trolling, responses to trolling, spam and other garbage decreases the signal-to-noise ratio to the extent that it's no longer worthwhile continuing to read the thread.
"Spurning point"? "Mudpoint"? Those aren't very good -- any ideas?
Update: In comments, Nathanael suggests trolverload (or "trollverload"), as in "That thread reached trollverload very quickly!"
Many election tracking sites project Bernie Sanders in Vermont and Joe Lieberman in Connecticut, who are both running outside the two major parties, to win their races, and some of them list these two projected Independent winners separately from the Democrats. For the purposes of my Election Projection Survey, however, I've included them in the numbers for the Democrats, since I expect that both men will join that caucus. Sanders did so as an Independent member of Congress in the House, and Lieberman has said that he will caucus with his old party if he wins.
I'm fully aware of the concerns of many people that Lieberman will not follow through with his promise, and I don't discount that possibility entirely, but I don't think it's likely. Although it's certainly possible that Lieberman could be angry enough at the Democrats to throw in with the other side, I think it's more likely that he'll use any leverage he has to get everything he wants from his old party (i.e. senority and committee assignments), since in most circumstances he'd probably get more from them than from the Republicans.
The one scenario in which the possibility of Lieberman defecting seems strongest to me is the one in which the Democrats hold 51 seats (counting Lieberman and Sanders) and the Republicans 49, in which case it would be worth the while of the Republicans to give Lieberman almost anything he wants to entice him to the othe side of the aisle and regain de facto control of the Senate. However, given the current situation, that outcome (51-49) seems somewhat unlikely to occur.
Well, if it's a partisan media outlet, I expect them to be up front and honest about their partisan nature so I can judge how to take their reporting - which is why Fox News is such an embarrassement and so exasperating: they're clearly very right-wing, very conservative, very authoritarian, and yet they continue to pretend that they're unbiased and neutral.
If the expressed aim of the outlet is to be non-partisan and unbiased, I expect them to do their best to determine the truth of the story they're reporting on, not to simply repeat what somebody says, or to counter one claim with another one and call it "balance". The truth does not always lie in the middle, sometimes it lies almost totally on one side or the other, and I expect them to determine, to the best of their ability (and, if necessary, incrementally as the story progresses and more information is found or developed) what the truth is and where it lies.
(The propensity of our indolent contemporary media to use this easy way out has been exploited to a tee by the right-wing in the past 30 years or so, since by making outrageous claims that are accepted at face value in these stories, they have successfully moved the "center" of our political discourse so far to the right that it's practically unrecognizable any more. Now, views that were once so bizarre that they were only to be heard from the lips of right-wing radical extremists are considered to be mainstream, thanks to the diligent work of movement conservatives and the laziness of the media.)
What I also don't want from my media is to take an outrageous and false claim -- such as Ruch Limbaugh's that Michael J. Fox was acting or off his medication when he made the stem cell ad for Claire McCaskill's Senatorial campaign in Missouri -- and surround it with irrelevant factoids like when the ad first aired or where Fox was born or when he became a citizen or that he campaigned for Kerry or anything else that not central to the story when they haven't even bothered to do the slightest bit of research about whether the claim was true or not in the first place!
This story from CBS News is what specifically provoked my ire. It was, according to Google News, posted 12 hours ago, more than a day and a half after Limbaugh broadcast his canard on his radio show, and yet there is not a single sentence in the piece which addresses whether it had any basis at all in fact.
One would think this would be a basic requirement for reporting a story such as this, but apparently not in American Mainstream Journalism in 2006.
Some do it better, even when writing a partisan piece. Writing in The Plank, the weblog of The New Republic (hardly one of my favorites) Jonathan Cohn manages to track down an expert on Parkinson's Disease (William J. Weiner, the professor of neurology who runs the Parkinson's clinic at the University of Maryland Medical Center) through the simple expedient of Googling and then picking up the telephone, calling the expert, talking to him, and then reporting what he said:
What you are seeing on the video is side effects of the medication. He has to take that medication to sit there and talk to you like that. ... He's not over-dramatizing. ... [Limbaugh] is revealing his ignorance of Parkinson's disease, because people with Parkinson's don't look like that at all when they're not taking their medication. They look stiff, and frozen, and don't move at all. ... People with Parkinson's, when they've had the disease for awhile, are in this bind, where if they don't take any medication, they can be stiff and hardly able to talk. And if they do take their medication, so they can talk, they get all of this movement, like what you see in the ad.
See, CBS News, that wasn't hard.
Josh Marshall also looks at another bad piece on the subject of the Limbaugh lie, this one from the Washington Post. It was later replaced by a better one with a different byline, which also managed to quote an expert:
"Anyone who knows the disease well would regard his movement as classic severe Parkinson's disease," said Elaine Richman, a neuroscientist in Baltimore who co-wrote "Parkinson's Disease and the Family." "Any other interpretation is misinformed."
Writing the news is certainly a skill, one that I'm sure is difficult to master, but it ain't rocket science -- so why are so many people doing it so badly?
Update:Josh Marshall has more -- a CNN/AP report, the headline of which belies the content.
Analysis: The House remained relatively static, with the Democratic averages just under the 218 goal, and the Republicans 11-12 seats behind them. On the other hand, the Democratic polynomial trendline crossed the 218 line again, while the Republican trendline continued to dive.
On the Senate side, judging by the averages, the Democratic position continued to soften, while the Republican stayed the same or improved very slightly. The Senate trendlines, which had initially been flirting with crossing to put the Democrats on top, separated further.
Generally, then, the Democratic position became softer, but without any real improvement for the Republicans. A significant number of seats in both houses remain toss-up fodder.
Note: I realized belatedly that I should not have added Pollster.com to the survey, as I did yesterday, because they are the folks (Mark Blumenthal and Charles Franklin) behind the Slate projection, which was already on the list. I've removed Pollster from a separate line and added it to the Slate line. I'll update that projection from wherever I first see the new numbers.
Also, the graph I originally posted for House Averages yesterday (in the 10/23 report) was incorrect -- it had the green "goal line" at 216 seats instead of 218. Thus it was not obvious from the graph that the Democratic mean and median had dropped below the 218 goal. I've now posted a corrected graph. My apologies for this error.
Update: I see that I neglected to mention anything about the NRCC and NRSC information that was leaked to Chris Bowers of MyDD. In that data, the races listed were rated on a scale from 1 to 5, with 1 being probably safe (for the Republicans) and 5 a probable loss. Since a rank of 3 is listed as a "true toss-up" which could go either way, I converted 1's and 2's into Republican seats and 4's and 5's into Democratic seats, the same type of coversion I've done with many sites that list degrees of certainty for various seats. I then assumed that all other seats not listed were thought, by the people who assembled the data, to be safe one way or the other, and calculated the numbers on the chart. I chose the date of "10/17" because it's the last polling date listed.
Of course, it's possible that the leaked documents are part of a disinformation compaign, or in some other way not what they purport to be. If so, I'll remove the data from the survey. (This will happen at some point in any case, since the numbers are unlikely to be updated -- unless Chris has access to a serial leaker.)
236) The love of money as a possession - as distinguished from the love of money as a means to the enjoyments and realities of life - will be recognized for what it is, a somewhat disgusting morbidity, one of those semi-criminal, semi-pathological propensities which one hands over with a shudder to the specialists in mental disease.
John Maynard Keynes Essay in Persuasion (1931) [B16] quoted by Benjamin Stein in License to Steal (1992)
237) I have a truly marvelous demonstration of this proposition which this margin is too narrow to contain.
Pierre Fermat comment concerning "Fermat's Last Theorem" (1636)
238) I have an elegant refutation of your attempted proof, but unfortunately this page is not large enough to contain it.
Mathematician's form letter in reply to crank "proofs" of Fermat's Last Theorem, quoted by James Gleick in "Fermat's Theorem", New York Times Magazine (10/3/93)
239) I have discovered a truly remarkable proof, but I cannot write it now because my train is coming.
Graffito in an Eight Avenue subway station in New York City quoted by James Gleick in "Fermat's Theorem", New York Times Magazine (10/3/93)
240) A half-dozen people on earth have some hope of understanding [mathematician Andrew] Wiles' proof [of Fermat's Last Theorem] from start to finish, and most of those people are now hard at work on it as referees.
James Gleick "Fermat's Theorem", New York Times Magazine (10/3/93)
241) Another curious aspect of the theory of evolution is that everybody thinks he understands it.
Jacques Monod On the Molecular Theory of Evolution (1974) quoted by Richard Dawkins in The Selfish Gene (1989)
242) It is a fact that people habitually underestimate the intricacy and complexity that can result from a huge number of interacting units obeying formal rules at very high speeds, relative to our time scale.
Douglas R. Hofstadter "Reflections on 'Selfish Genes and Selfish Memes'" in The Mind's I (1981), Douglas R. Hofstadter and Daniel C. Dennett, eds.
Note: "3089/898" is the designation I've given to the project of posting all my collected quotes, excerpts and ideas (3089 of them) in the remaining days of the Bush administration (of which there were 898 left when I began). As of today, there are 818 days remaining in the administration of the worst President ever.
Analysis: Two new sites enter the survey and, once again, it's slippage all around, more so for the Democrats than the Republicans. This points out one of the dangers of starting this project so near the election: there's very little time for it to settle in. Also, I will be reconsidering how long I let a projection stay active before declaring it to be "stale," since, unlike my Electoral College Survey of 2004 (which included a much larger number of sites), dropping and adding sites can obviously perturb the averages significantly.
I've added graphs which track the averages (mean and median only -- mode is too volatile to be visually useful and only adds clutter), a little earlier than I had planned to, but at least there's 8 days of data on them. Mostly they indicate that neither the Democrats or the Republican can rest easy, as their positions are not solid.
Note: The graph I originally posted for House Averages (the one on the bottom left) was incorrect -- it had the green "goal line" at 216 seats instead of 218. Thus it was not obvious from the graph that the Democratic mean and median had dropped below the 218 goal. I've now posted a corrected graph. My apologies for this error.
232) In Yemen, "The Three Stooges" is literally translated as "The Three Jews Who Hit Each Other."
"Elegy for a Stooge" WFMU-TV (public access cable tv program) (1993)
233) We have met the enemy, and he is us.
Walt Kelly Pogo (comic strip, c. 1970)
234) Children traditionally inherit their father's name, although it is sometimes not as well ascertained as their mother's. By this strange nomenklatura, the male branch gains a surplus of attention which is biologically quit unfounded. The extinction of a family name is often equated with the extinction of the family itself. Even today, many comely flocks of daughters testify to their father's desire for a male heir.
Karl Sigmund Games of Life (1993)
235) Chance is "the common root of the strict laws of nature."
Erwin Schrodinger "What is a law of nature" (1922) paraphrased and quoted by Karl Sigmund in Games of Life (1993)
Note: "3089/898" is the designation I've given to the project of posting all my collected quotes, excerpts and ideas (3089 of them) in the remaining days of the Bush administration (of which there were 898 left when I began). As of today, there are 819 days remaining in the administration of the worst President ever.
Analysis: The addition of two new projections to the survey caused some slippage in the previous positions of both parties in the House, and the Democrats in the Senate. Also, the Democratic polynomial trendline in the House separated from the 218 goal once again. Without the addition of the new sites, there would have been no change today from yesterday.
Atriosalmost has an excellent point here, but then he takes it one step too far:
Wars are failures. A primary purpose of sensible foreign policy is to stop them. When wars happen, our foreign policy has failed. That isn't to say there's never a point when they're necessary or justified, but that point is simply an acknowledgment that the people in charge failed.
The sentiment is right -- that any war is in some way a failure of something -- but, influenced I assume by recent events, he seems to have made the assumption that those who have to decide whether to go to war or not have control over all the significant factors that go into that decision. That was indeed the case with Bush and the invasion of Iraq, but it certainly wasn't the case for FDR in World War II, for instance. I don't think it's at all reasonable to say that America's entry into that war was FDR's failure.
It's always best to be as cynical and skeptical as possible about war, but simply because they sometimes are necessary and sometimes are justified, it's wrong to be reflexively dismissive of them before their ifs, whys and wherefores are thoroughly examined. The invasion of Iraq was, in fact, thoroughly unnecessary and totally unjustified, but a whole lot of people rejected it completely out of hand without even a moment's consideration, and are now quite unjustifiably gloating about their supposed insight, despite having been right for the wrong reasons. And, to add insult to injury, they denigrate and insult anyone who examined and researched and thought things through before ultimately rejecting the war (before it happened, of course), as if the very act of consideration was a sin.
Chester Scoville at The Vanity Press lays out some extremely paranoid right-wing nightmares about what a Democratic victory in this election might bring about (such as the outlawing of religion, 100% income taxes, surrender to the "Islamo-fascists," and so on), and then comments:
[A]nyone who was even remotely aware of American politics during the Clinton Administration remembers the paranoia: black helicopters were coming to take all conservatives away to prison camps; civil war was going to break out any moment; Clinton was going to declare himself President for Life; jack-booted government thugs from FEMA were running a secret government that would take away all your freedoms; everyone would be forced to have chips implanted in their brains; the United Nations was going to take over the United States and turn everyone into serfs; the Bible was going to be banned; all white women would be forced to marry black men; abortion was going to become mandatory.
I'm not making any of those up. I remember hearing, seeing, and reading every single one of those dire predictions, all advanced with total seriousness, on right-wing radio, in the Republican House, in right-wing publications and listservs all throughout the decade.
Of course, none of those things ever happened or came close to happening. None of them ever could have happened. None of them was ever even planned. These dystopian nightmares were never part of anyone's agenda. None of them ever existed, even as notions, except in the fevered minds of those who were "warning" everyone about them. The demonic Left that the American Right keeps talking about, the entity that wants to do all of these horrible things, simply does not exist. At no point in its entire history, in power or out of it, has the Democratic Party ever even suggested or hinted any of this stuff.
Everything Scoville says is quite true, and it would be natural to say to those on our side of the aisle who spin similarly paranoid fantasies about Bush declaring a state of emergency and refusing to leave office, establishment of a theocracy and so on, that they are just as mistaken in these beliefs as the right was in their beliefs during the Clinton years (and now, on the eve of a possible Democratic electoral victory) -- the problem being that the radical right-wing that now controls the Republican party and through it the Federal government, and to whom Bush plays constantly (because he needs them to maintain his position and influence) has made it quite clear that their commitment is not to democracy, but to an agenda the would indeed lead to a theocracy, and that they approve of authoritarian government -- as long as their guy is in charge.
The Bush/Cheney administration and the Republican party, having shown from Day One that they cannot be trusted to do the right thing, doesn't really deserve the benefit of our doubt, and yet I cannot help but think that the worst of the things we dread might happen will not actually come about. I suppose that means I believe that they still have a scrap of decency about them. Maybe, or perhaps I'm just a bit cynical about the most cynical take on Bush and company. I tend to see them as bad -- corrupt, incompetent, and ideologically misguided -- but not as evil.
It's not that I think that they will do the right thing as much as it is that I don't think they have it in them to do the worst thing, if only because they've never quite been that bad up until now -- although they've certainly been bad enough.
(I think nowadays, among Democrats, liberals and progressives, this viewpoint makes me something of an optimist, if not a cheerful one.)
The thing about this ad, being run by the Republican National Committee against Harold Ford in Tennessee isn't that it's a negative ad in the politics of personal destruction mode, that's exactly the kind of stuff we expect from the Republicans, but that it's so very badly done. It's hard for me to believe that even the most naive voter would think that these are real man-in-the-street type interviews and not actors spouting lines. The insinuations and just so blatant and obvious that someone watching is unlikely to think that they figured out the implications for themselves, which is desireable for ads of this type.
As DK said on TPM, the first impression is that it's a joke, and I think a lot of voters are going to think that way as well. The Republicans have no shame, but in the past they at least knew how to make ads that were effective -- that's apparently gone by the wayside now.
I smell desperation. This and the blatantly (and provably) false ad against Arcuri in NY-24 are real indicators.
Analysis: Once again today, there's not much movement in the numbers, but what there is again shows the Democrats improving marginally in the House (their polynomial trend line re-connected with 218 after a day of separation), but remaining static in the Senate, still significantly short of their goal. The Republicans remained more or less as was.
hostile to science
lacking in empathy
lacking in public spirit
out of control
Thanks to: Breeze, Chuck, Ivan Raikov, Kaiju, Kathy, Roger, Shirley, S.M. Dixon
i've got a little list...
Steven Abrams (Kansas BofE)
Howard Fieldstead Ahmanson
Roger Ailes (FNC)
Alan Bonsell (Dover BofE)
Bill Buckingham (Dover BofE)
George W. Bush
Bruce Chapman (DI)
The Coors Family
William A. Dembski
Leonard Downie (WaPo)
John Gibson (FNC)
Fred Hiatt (WaPo)
James F. Inhofe
Philip E. Johnson
by Joel Pelletier
(click on image for more info)
Stephen C. Meyer (DI)
Judith Miller (ex-NYT)
Sun Myung Moon
Elspeth Reeve (TNR)
Martin Peretz (TNR)
Richard Mellon Scaife
Susan Schmidt (WaPo)
John Solomon (WaPo)
Richard Thompson (TMLC)
Bob Woodward (WaPo)
All the fine sites I've
Be sure to visit them all!!
Arthur C. Clarke
Daniel C. Dennett
Philip K. Dick
Stephen Jay Gould
"The Harder They Come"
Ursula K. LeGuin
The Marx Brothers
Michael C. Penta
Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger
"The Red Shoes"
"Singin' in the Rain"
Talking Heads/David Byrne
Hunter S. Thompson
"2001: A Space Odyssey"
If you read unfutz at least once a week, without fail, your teeth will be whiter and your love life more satisfying.
If you read it daily, I will come to your house, kiss you on the forehead, bathe your feet, and cook pancakes for you, with yummy syrup and everything.
(You might want to keep a watch on me, though, just to avoid the syrup ending up on your feet and the pancakes on your forehead.)
Finally, on a more mundane level, since I don't believe that anyone actually reads this stuff, I make this offer: I'll give five bucks to the first person who contacts me and asks for it -- and, believe me, right now five bucks might as well be five hundred, so this is no trivial offer.