Saturday, December 29, 2007
In order to understand what I’m saying you have to first understand what a caucus is and how it differs from a primary. In a primary the states votes like in any election and the candidates are ranked from first to last by virtue of the number of votes received. In an Iowa Democratic caucus, the candidates are still ranked from first to last, but each county gets one list, and each list is waited equally. Confused? You should be, it’s a stupid system. Let’s look at some mach Results:
New Hampshire primary
1 Sen. Edwards 32%
2 Gov. Richardson 30%
3 Sen. Obama 20%
4 Sen. Biden 10%
5 Sen. Clinton 5%
6 Sen. Dodd 1%
7 Rep. Kucinich 1%
8 Sen. Gravel > 1%
1 Gov. Richardson 40%
2 Sen. Edwards 25%
3 Sen. Obama 20%
4 Sen. Biden 10%
5 Sen. Clinton 4%
6 Sen. Dodd 1%
7 Rep. Kucinich 1%
8 Sen. Gravel > 1%
Polk County Iowa (population 408,888)
Adams Iowa (population 4,482)
In primaries the rankings are done by percentage of the vote from the whole state, but in the Iowa caucus it is the percentage of the vote with in the county, then all the county scores are added together, regardless of the number of votes cast, or the county’s population. Think of it like this, eight points for finishing first in a county, seven for second and so on. Using the example above it would be a three way tie for first place if Iowa had only two counties.
Why does this matter? because in the small rural counties like Adams, with 1% the population of Polk county, the individual votes count much more. John Edwards is much more popular than his rivals in the smaller more rural counties so he is likely to clean up there where votes count more, as we see sometimes as much as 100:1, this little quirk in the system skews polling done on a statewide, rather than on a county by county basis. In fact if we look at the example above, it would be entirely possible for Obama and Richardson to have staggeringly higher vote totals than Edwards but still come out tied.
Got all that? I hope so, because it gets more complicated. To this point in our discussion the rules for the Democrats and the Republicans are the same. The major difference between the two is the 15% “legitimacy threshold”. In the Republican caucuses the voters vote by secret ballot and the rankings are done from there. For the Democrats the process is much more open, because, if a candidate fails to get 15% of the vote, their county is considered illegitimate and its votes are not counted. In this likely event, the voters discuss and revote until someone is able to break 15%. Supporters of the bottom tier candidates are wooed by the contenders to switch their votes. Since the voters are intimately familiar with all eight candidates, and their peers are not in a position to offer rewards, those changing their votes will instead vote for their “second favorite”. Statewide, John Edwards consistently rates as Iowa’s second favorite, followed by Bill Richardson and Joe Biden, this will give all three candidates a large boost that is not noted in the polls. It should be noted that John Kerry was in 6th place in some polls going into the caucus four years ago, but was the number one second choice.
You know what the bitch of the whole thing is, only about 120,000 people in each party will actually show up and vote. That’s it, and less if it snows. Less than ¼ of million people, less than 1/100th of the population of LA will take the most important step in determining the 2008 contenders. Mitt Romney figures to finish second or third, he’ll be lucky if he is able to get 15,000 votes, even though he has spent in the neighborhood of 30 million dollars, or about $2000 per vote.
Friday, December 28, 2007
Saturday, December 22, 2007
George Mitchell did baseball a disservice by naming names. The Mitchell Report does nothing to differentiate between players who asked questions about the benefits of PEDs and guys who injected regimented cocktails daily. Even worse by putting out a finite list it suggests to idiots that it is a complete list of every player whoever used, and that anyone not on the list is above reproach. It is what it is, two trainers and one ex player who named off players they sold drugs to because they faced jail time. There is a term for that, what’s it called? You know, someone in trouble names names to save themselves? Oh right a witch hunt. Wait, why do we call it that? Because of what happened in seventeenth century
Bud Selig is easily the best commissioner baseball has ever had, and likely that pro-sports has ever seen. He took a sub billion dollar entertainment showcase and turned it into a 6+ billion dollar business enterprise and the game is infinitely better for his service. The report he ordered will likely help cement that legacy, as it has largely exonerated him from steroids and it seems to have taken some of the heat off of Barry Bonds, deservingly so in both cases.
Unfortunately the way in which it was done was at the expense of Miguel Tejada, Roger Clemens, Mo Vaughn, and eighty other guys who deserved better. We’re allowing the listed to serve as scapegoats when guys Alex Rodriguez, David Ortiz, Cal Ripken, Derek Jeter, Paul Moliter, Jason Varitek, Ricky Henderson, Brian Rose, Mark McGwire and countless others who are just as culpable.
I guess what I’m trying to say is, Fuck You. Fuck Bud Selig for desecrating the careers of the people who made yours possible, Fuck George Mitchell for your part in this witch hunt and for being such a douche about it. But most of all, Fuck you baseball fans, all of us, all the commentators who decided to make a big deal out of this to get ratings, money and careers, and to all of us armatures out there that ate it up. We caused it. We fueled it. And you know what, we aren't that upset about it, we're just looking for someone to blame, to take the fall for us so we don't feel guilty. PEDs have been great for sports and great for baseball, everyone has benefited and it's time we all got over ourselves and just shut the hell up about it.
Thursday, December 13, 2007
The world’s oldest profession is illegal in 49 of the
Prostitutes are frequently beaten and robbed by patrons after their services have been provided, they must then return empty-handed to violent pimps only to receive a serious verbal and physical bashing. When something like this happens, there is no legal recourse for these women who have been cheated, victimized, demeaned, beaten, and they have no insurance to allow for medical treatment from injuries, often as severe as broken bones. With this inescapable abuse, the victims of criminalized prostitution are the prostitutes themselves, and by opposing legalization we are condoning, and even encouraging violence against women.
Surely nobody dreams of becoming a prostitute, nor is it a profession we would wish upon a loved one, but as long as there is a rock bottom there will always be women who fall into this sad life, when they do, they can’t wait to get out, but with pimps and clients constantly ripping them off. They are stuck. With legal protection these women could unionize and receive better pay, getting them back on their feet much faster. They could receive health benefits which would help prevent the spread of STD’s, but most importantly legalization would provide protection from abusive clients and pimps.
Sex is a wonderful thing, love is even more beautiful, and paying a stranger for a shallow, emotion and meaningless fuck cheapens real love making. No doubt about it. I do not want to sleep with someone who doesn’t want to be with me, who isn’t willing to kiss me or snuggle with me afterward, so I wouldn’t hire a call girl, and if your sensibilities are anything like mine then you won’t either. Luckily it isn’t mandatory. We might not like the idea of tawdry sex, but I think we all ought to agree that slowing the spread of STD’s, letting people lift themselves out of poverty and preventing violence against women is a worth while tradeoff.
How can we to allow oppressively degrading subjugation? How can we let women with no friends, family or other alternatives be left bleeding, beaten and disease-ridden in the gutter, shunned from society with no where to turn? I don’t know. It’s unimaginably uncontainable, but we do.
Seriously, I don’t know how anyone watching the Republican youtube debate could draw the conclusion that the winner was anyone other than Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee. He absolutely blew his opponents out of the water. He was so impressive that he has surged ahead in every poll, and most importantly to a lead in the
It wasn’t just how well he preformed - and he was outstanding - but also how poorly everyone else did. As per usual, Duncan Hunter and Tom Tancredo had nothing to add but blatant bitter bigotry. John McCain stayed so embarrassingly on script that his responses were often so far off from the questions that he seemed aloof, which is a great way to present yourself to people who already think you’re too old. Ron Paul did well with the questions he was asked, but he didn’t get much time to talk, and the answers his questions required were generally too esoteric to be memorable. That said, the best burn of night came after McCain was explaining how in touch with the active military he is because he had Thanksgiving in Iraq, and that the troops want to stay and fight, to which Paul, the only Republican candidate who has pledged an immediate and complete troop withdrawal, asked the Senator if that were true, why he (Paul) was leading all candidates in donations from active duty military personal.
Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani and Fred Thompson didn’t bother to open their mouths unless it was to bash each other (Giuliani did sneak in a couple of valid points, but they were lost in the nit picking). Romney actually tried to degrade Giuliani for having served as mayor rather than a higher office, this was such a dumb idea that most people didn’t think it could possibly be what it was, if Romney thinks making this race about experience is a good idea, he has his head unbelievably far up his own ass. Romney is the least politically experienced candidate running in any party. He is a one term governor, and a largely unsuccessful one at that.
The only reason he was able to win that term in the first place is because Democratic opponent Shannon O’Brien was an inept candidate, and the Green party candidate Jill Stein, was so brilliant that she drew a large percentage of the vote, many of whom were siphoned away from the hapless O’Brien. During his term as governor Romney failed to accomplish any of his proposed legislation, reversed himself on a number of positions, cut funding to schools, slashed teacher salaries, oversaw the only state wide population loss in the country, and spent most of his time fighting for constitutionally mandated discrimination. He was so infuriating to the state as a whole that he opted not to seek a second term, as he knew full well that even an idiot like Shannon O’Brien would kick his ass the second time around.
Mitt Romney doesn’t give a damn about anything other than Mitt Romney. He will tell anybody anything to try and cement a foundation, he’ll lie, reverse positions, cheat, throw mud, make stuff up, beg, borrow, steal, whatever it takes. He doesn’t want to be President to change the world, because he thinks he’s right for the job or because he thinks he has good ideas. Instead, he, like Hilary, wants to be President because he thinks it’s a sweet job, because he wants his picture to go up in elementary school classrooms, and because it’s the only thing he can do to be more impressed when he looks in the mirror. He’s a giant tool, an even bigger douche bag and I have no use for people like that. So, Mitt, please, make this a race about experience, keep making racist comments, please continue to become less and less relevant and don’t let the door hit your ass.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Somewhere in the
People are doing all these things to other human beings as we speak. On our planet. On our watch. Call me a douche bag, but there are worse things a person can do than bet on which dog is going to win a fight.
Friday, December 7, 2007
Is she for real? Hilary is really trying to use something Obama wrote in kindergarten against him. Kindergarten. As in five year olds, milk money and magic circle time. Kindergarten. Really Hilary?! Really?! I honestly thought that political tactics couldn’t get any dumber this season than when Mitt Romney tried to make it a race about experience, but here we go!
Anyone who actually believes that must have their heads further up their own ass than Mitt Romney. It doesn’t make you look thorough, it makes you look sleazy and slimy, and it begs the question how deep did you dig to do your opposition research? How low are you willing to sink to win this? It doesn’t even burn Obama because every five year old wants to be President.
The best thing to do would have been not to respond, but she is starting to lose, so she has to push back. This is problematic because Hilary is running her campaign with smoke and mirrors, which means that when attacked she can’t fire back with substance, because she doesn’t have any to begin with. As a Senator she steadfastly derelict her duties to New York, showing no interest in doing anything other than padding her résumé, and as first lady she fumbled everything that came her way.
She can’t reject the claim either, because everyone knows it’s true, but what she could have done is embrace it. She could have come out, not addressing it directly, but talked about how she has wanted to be President for a long time, but the deck was always stacked against her, and talk about how she had to work twice as hard to get into a great college and seek scholarships to pay for it, juggled family and career to make it when everyone told her she couldn’t. She could have said that she worked too damn hard to get to where she is to be ridiculed for her life’s ambition. Then after that she could even finished it off with a punch line by telling the crowd that when she was in kindergarten she wanted to be a ballerina and tell the laughing audience “I did want to do something else, once”.
Saturday, November 24, 2007
A Mile Wide but an Inch Deep
Why Hilary Clinton will not and should not be the Democratic nominee for President
We’ve all heard the national polls, seen the news reports, read the blogs – it’s a forgone conclusion: Senator Hilary Rodham Clinton will be the Democratic nominee for President. In a crowded field she polls at commanding lead of over 40% nationally, compared to distant second Senator Obama in the high 20’s, and with all the money she is raising she shows no signs of letting anyone catch her. It’s all bogus.
First let me just address the money. Yes, candidates need to raise lots of it to win, and yes, typically the candidate who has raised the most money wins the race, leading to the conventional wisdom that money wins an election. Post hoc ergo promter hoc. It’s not that the candidate who raises the most money will win; it’s that the candidate with the best shot at winning will raise the most money. People, PACs, bundlers and corporations donate money to candidates in an effort to make people of power beholden to them, they simply want to bet on the winning horse.
Consider that independently wealthy people often try to win elections by grossly outspending their opponents with funds from their personal bank accounts; Steve Forbes and Ross Perot come to mind. Despite virtually unlimited spending power up against a comparatively measly war chest, they both, and countless like them, got their teeth soundly kicked in. Get over the money; yes it’s important, just not nearly as much as everyone seems to think. Now for the polls.
National polls are 100% irrelevant until after the primary season ends because we don’t choose our nominee nationally, we do so in as state-by-state system. The only polls that matter right now are the ones in
Since 2000 there has been a palpable fervor among the Democratic base for a new leader, the future, for a human face ready to put them back in power, the 04 election, the 06 midterms and the disappointment from mediocre results, have combined with continued frustration from the Bush administration to further seep blood into the water. Right now that face is Hilary. Four years ago it was Howard Dean. Dean, like
Four years later,
The conventional wisdom on Hilary is that people either love her or hate her, but this is not true. Most people either hate her or are fairly ambivalent toward her. This may sound crazy, but how do you feel about her? Not her husband, not her sex, but Hilary Clinton, the substance? How many people do you know that have read and loved her books? Did you? She has been able to maintain the numbers she has with smoke and mirrors, because of peoples desire for hope and she is a brilliant political mind, but she flounders so much in genuine appeal because she is a terrible political presence.
Prior to her term as Senator her only political position had been as first lady. Her major ambition in that role was healthcare, a piece of legislation her husband gift wrapped for her, a major cornerstone of his campaign, somewhere around 75% of the country supported it, with a blue congress and seven years to get it done. The result? A train wreck of historic proportions.
As Senator she has consistently enjoyed very large approval ratings, and in 2006 was reelected in a landslide. Every vote she has cast, every speech has given has been focus grouped and taste tested to the minutest detail. Not to make sure it’s popular enough to win support, but to make sure it is bland enough to not lose anyone, or force her to take an actual stance on anything. She has been a major political player in the spot light for fifteen years; tell me, where does she stand on the issues? Campaigns are supposed to be about ideas, what are Hilary’s ideas? I know she’s for winning, and against other people winning, but beyond that is anyone’s guess.
She is always championing her experience and leadership, but she has no legislative victories, only failures. She is a major player in the Senate and spent eight years as first lady and has nothing to show for it but a couple electoral victories. It is a terrible résumé, one of unwavering utter failure and demonstrated demonstrable inept incompetence. Her style of politics is exactly why people hate the political process, and exactly why she does not deserve and will not get my vote.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
Click it or Ticket your Ass
Seatbelts are a great idea, they save countless lives everyday. For every story about how a seatbelt killed someone, or of someone who survived because they were unbelted there are 10,000 more where the belt was life saving. Every scientific study done says that you’re safer belted, and while I’m sure you and your mother think you’re very smart, if you think you’re safer unbelted, 50+ years of scientific research all points to you not knowing what the hell you’re talking about. Then there are the people who say they want to be able to jump out of the way in a crash, if you had time to jump, you would have time to not hit the thing you’re about to smash into and p.s. where the fuck are you going to jump? The whole car is going to crash, were you planning on jumping out the window? You’re not that athletic, and even if you were you would get hit by another car passing by.
They say that 75% of people wear their seatbelt while 25% break the law and don’t, I’m saying if it weren’t the law and just a good idea, 75% of people would wear them and 25% would opt not to. It’s a bogus law. People do not choose whether or not they’re going to put their belt on based on the law, either they’re going to listen to the experts, or they’re smarter than the experts and the law isn’t going to change anyone’s mind, it’s a “my body my choice” kind of thing .
If you choose not to wear your belt, the only life you are endangering is your own. A fine for such an offense is a tax on stupidity and personal freedom. Plus, you can’t help someone who doesn’t want to be helped. If the states are really serious about saving lives they should take steps to protect people from others, by cracking down hard on DUIs, increasing the regulation on auto-manufactures and safety inspections, requiring hands free cell phones and banning texting while driving, taking better care of the roads and adding more street lights. These types of laws, regulation and programs would save the lives of innocent people who simply end up in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Passing these kinds of laws is not easy, they cost money and affect many people, versus the seatbelt laws that don’t affect most people, and the people that are affected aren’t in much of a position to complain. What will have more of an impact, fewer drunk drivers, safer roads, cars and driving conditions, or fining people that are too stubborn for their own good? Saving lives is a great goal, but if you say that you’re serious about something, people are going to assume that you’re serious about it, that purposeful, meaningful steps are being taken, hard choices being made, those are lofty, noble aims that ought to be achieved and commended. Instead we get pandering.
Wear your belt; it could save your life. While you’re at it, check the pressure in your tires, use a designated driver, and keep your hands free while you’re on the phone, that could save your life and someone else’s too.
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
In the last few years incredible advances have been made in both transportation and communication. I don’t need to tell you of how these technological leaps have revolutionized countless aspects of life. So much so that even a mundane task as routine as ordering food at a drive thru window, your conversation at the box is often routed through to a call center in India where a worker at a desk takes your order, plugs it into a computer sending it to the restaurant where your food is bagged up for you to purchase. This just one example, of the growing phenomenon known as outsourcing.
Instead of paying a high school kid eight dollars an hour to sit with a headset, take orders through the call box and punch your order into a computer within the restaurant, that same eight dollars can get the job done for the entire day, while paying the employee a sufficient family wage, providing health benefits and a meal in a region where all three are often hard to come by. This one small move allows for more 24 hour drive thrus while cutting costs by nearly $70,000 per year, with fierce competition, this means lowers prices to the consumer.
More convenience, lower prices, people willing to work hard are able to use their own bootstraps to lift themselves and their families out of gut retching poverty, and hamburgers, sounds like a pretty good deal right? Slow down. What about that high school kid? He’s now out of a job in the face of rising costs in car insurance, acne cream and Vaseline, sure he was going to quit and take the summer off before moving away to college, but that’s beside the point, the worker in Asia has stolen his job, stolen it by providing an improved service at a vastly superior price and the fast food company just let it happen. For shame fast food company. How dare they not consider an applicants country of origin in their hiring practices?
I was being sarcastic with that last point, but really, why is it that a call center located in the Midwest congers no ill will to the company, there are no feelings that a local job has been taken, but when that same center is located in Asia, anger is directed toward the company for shipping “American jobs” overseas, for stealing a job from a hardworking American? Why is the assumption that I have an obvious and inherent right to work for US companies because I was born in
The insatiable relentless quest for an edge, to shoot up efficiency and drive down prices is what steered the
The workers who would have been laid off? With the same money used to for the bailout every single person laid off, from the boardroom to the janitor's closet could have been given $750,000.00 in severance pay, money that could be used to retire, go back to school to learn a new trade, or, well I don’t need to tell you, I’m sure you can imagine what you would do if someone handed you 3/4 of a million dollars, plus inflation. I’m also pretty sure that at least 99.999% of the people who kept their jobs would have preferred to get laid off under those circumstances. The money would have been a huge lift to the local economies (the Flint area could certainly use all the help it can get) and the improved product produced by GM would push Toyota, Honda, Ford and all the other companies that much harder, meaning every car that has been built since would be of a higher quality.
Instead we’re back where we started, many billion dollars lighter, mired in mediocrity. And for what? An ethnocentric, racist aversion to the inevitable.