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Archive for November, 2012

Where: Arlington, Virginia (specifically Roslyn)

When: July 2012

Reflection of crane in building

Architecture is frozen music -Goethe

Why: Weekly Photo Challenge theme of reflections.

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The original concept of this post was to be an update concerning an earlier post about the 2010 special Senate election in Massachusetts to fill the seat vacated by the death of Democrat Edward Kennedy. To recap, Republican Scott Brown defeated Democrat Martha Coakley in that election.

That post highlighted the fact that 655,781 fewer Bay State citizens cast their ballot in that 2010 election when compared to the number of citizens who voted in the 2008 Senate election (John Kerry (D) vs. Jeff Beatty (R)).

I wanted this post to see if the number of voters in Massachusetts increased or decreased in the 2012 Senate contest between incumbent Scott Brown (R) and challenger Elizabeth Warren (D). To recap, Warren won.

The total number of ballots cast for Brown and Warren was 3,090,053, which is a 38.7% increase from the 2010 total of 2,226,789. The 2012 total was also a 7.1% increase from the number of ballots cast during the last regular Senate election in the Bay State (2008 = 2,882,570).

I was heartened by these figures. Not necessarily by the results, but by the numbers. It always does my heart glad to see more people becoming involved in the political process and having their voice counted. My previous post on this subject ended with the thought that the reason that fewer people voted between 2008 and 2010 was because they were tired. I think the increase seen in the 2012 totals show that either I was wrong or that the people woke up.

While cruising through the numbers and tallies, I did see something that caught my eye. Warren earned 1,660,738 votes to win the election. In that same election, President Obama earned a “yes” mark from 1,901,276 citizens of the Bay State. That means that over 240,538 checked the box for the current resident of the White House, but declined to give the same courtesy to his fellow Democrat.

What intrigued me more was the following comparison which skewed the opposite way. On the other side of the political spectrum, 1,429,315 people voted for Scott Brown in 2012 (which, by the way, was a 22.3% increase over his 2010 tally…and he still lost). On that same ballot, only 1,178,245 cast their vote for president for the Republican challenger, Mitt Romney. That means that 251,070 (there’s your number for the day) gave their seal of approval to Brown who did not do the same thing for Romney…and he was the former governor of that very state.

Not sure what it means. I’m not paid for analysis; I just like to dig for data.

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Given that in 1956, as Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower was running for a second term as President of the United States of America, the platform of the Republican Party in that year had this to say…

We favor self-government, national suffrage and representation in the Congress of the United States for residents of the District of Columbia.;

And given that in 1976, as Republican President Gerald Ford was running to be reelected as the President of the United States of America, the platform of the Republican Party in that year had this to say…

We again…support giving the District of Columbia voting representation in the United States Senate and House of Representatives.
;

And given that in 1996, as Republican Senator Bob Dole sought to win the presidency, the platform of the Republican Party in that year had this to say…

We…reject calls for statehood for the District.;

And given that in 2012, as Republican Governor Mitt Romney sought to win the presidency, the platform of the Republican Party in that year had this to say…

We oppose statehood for the District of Columbia.

My follow-up question is, “What changed?”

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Not sure whether this should be filed under “life imitates art”, “art imitating life”, or just plain, obnoxious coincidence.

The news came out recently that actor Larry Hagman passed away. Mr. Hagman is known for playing the J.R. Ewing on the television show Dallas. Hagman was currently portraying the scheming oilman in the current incarnation of the show which started this year. Hagman’s character was the patriarch of the Ewing clan and now he has died during the run of that show.

During the first running of Dallas – from 1978 to 1991 – the head of Ewing family (and J.R.’s father) was Jock Ewing who was played by actor Jim Davis. Interesting to note that Mr. Davis also passed away (in 1981) during the run of that popular show.

Those two deaths aren’t enough to cue the theme from The Twilight Zone, but I thought it was worthy of a mention.

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What am I thankful for?

I am thankful I have lived in a metropolis (in this case, the Washington DC area) that is big enough and intelligent enough to host a smart, challenging, and puzzling event such as the Washington Post Hunt.

Below is a picture I took during the 2009 version of this event.

Statue puzzle at PostHunt 2009

It’s a clue – if you know how to look

The statues in this picture – actually, people dressed up as art objects – and a card with five sentences which was handed out to all the participants were meant as clues.

Sadly, I missed the 2012 version of this event and most likely will miss the 2013 staging of this contest.

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On this day, the day after American Thanksgiving, is a day to move away from the turkey recipes and to discuss goose and ganders.

To all the Americans protesting the Israeli’s government use of automated lethal weaponry against the self-governing enclave of the Gaza Strip…

…I look forward to your protests against the United States government use of automated lethal weaponry against the sovereign nation of Pakistan.

To all the Americans protesting the deaths of children in Israeli’s military activities in the Gaza Strip…

…I look forward to your protest against the death of children in Afghanistan at the hands of the American military.

To all the Americans protesting the settlements created by the Israeli government on land seized after wars…

…I look forward to your protests demanding that the United States return California and New Mexico.

To all the Americans protesting the Israeli’s government ignoring resolutions from the United Nations…

…I look forward to your protests against the government of the United States ignoring resolutions from the UN.

After all, the protest-sauce that is good for the goose is good for the gander.

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…the following edicts, hereforeafter known as the “Citation Needed” Rules, would be implemented.

If any blogger, pundit, or commenter, etc., described President Barack Obama as a “socialist”, that person must also cite the specific text in Das Kapital (Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, 1867) that the President is allegedly adhering to (extra points will be awarded if the citation can be done in the original German).

If any blogger, pundit, or commenter, etc., describes any member of the Republican Party as a “fascist”, that person must also cite – in specific detail – how that member of the GOP is a proponent of “a governmental system led by a dictator having complete power, forcibly suppressing opposition and criticism, regimenting all industry, commerce, etc., and emphasizing an aggressive nationalism and often racism.”

If any blogger, pundit, or commenter, etc., uses the Bible to support any position, that person must also cite the quote that supports their statement. In addition, all available translation of the Bible must be used so that the blogger, pundit, commenter, etc., cannot be accused of cherry-picking their source (extra points will be awarded if the citation can be done in the original Aramaic).

If any blogger, pundit, or commenter, etc., accuses Governor Mitt Romney of being part of a tax amnesty program in 2009, that person must also cite actual proof.

If any blogger, pundit, or commenter, etc. accuses the Democratic Party of deploying an army of illegal aliens to assist in the 2012 election, that person must also cite actual proof (extra points will be awarded if such proof comes in the form of a video; points will be taken away if the person behind the video is James O’Keefe).

Any blogger, pundit, commenter, etc., who ignores these rules will receive a “Citation citation” and be banned from posting for a period no shorter than ninety (90) days but no greater than one hundred and eight (180) days.

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Last week, I wrote a few pieces for my “Veridiction” category (my made-up name for the process of verifying predictions) that had to do with folk who put forward their prognostications about what wold happen in the 2012 Presidential election. All of my contestants last week (Newt Gingrich, Bill Frezza, and Kenneth Bickers & Michael Berry) were spot-off wrong.

Was there anyone who correctly predicting the results?

According to this article from Bloomberg Businessweek, there were at least three.

Nate Silver, the gentleman who runs the FiveThirtyEight blog for The New York Times, is probably the one with the most name recognition for the moment. The model used by Silver for his blog correctly predicted the winner of all fifty states plus the District of Columbia. While national polls were showing a tight race between President Obama and Governor Romney, those numbers were irrelevant. The winner of a presidential election is determined by who wins the most votes in the Electoral College, so a presidential election is really 51 separate elections. Silver understood this basic fact about the American political system and his model reflected that reality. Kudos to Mr. Silver for being the UNIVAC of our time.

Other people who were correct in divining the winner last November 6.

Congratulations to Drew Linzer of votamatic.org who forecasted correctly that the President would garner 332 votes in the Electoral College.

Joining Silver and Linzer in the winner’s circle is Sam Wang of the Princeton Election Consortium whose best guess was also a 332-206 tally in the Electoral College for President Obama.

My bottom line about who was right and who was wrong in predicting can best be summed up by this cartoon from the wonderful xkcd.

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Richard Nixon had Watergate.

Ronald Reagan had Iran-Contra.

Bill Clinton had Monica Lewinsky.

Since the second term of some of our most recent Presidents have involved a scandal, my follow-up question is this…

What will be the scandal that crops up before 2016 that almost brings down the Obama Administration?

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In the aftermath of the 2012 Presidential Election, I am continuing my look at verifying the predictions (also known in this blog’s vernacular as veridiction) made by people in the weeks and months before the votes were actually tallied.

My previous post on this subject regarding Newt Gingrich saw a first with one quote containing three predictions, all of which were wrong.

This post also sees a first as I believe I have never had two individual people in the header of one of my posts about veridiction.

Today’s subjects are Kenneth Bickers and Michael Berry, two political science professors from the state of Colorado who have a model to help them predict the winners of presidential elections.

Here’s a link to a story written about them so you can read about this academic duo and their model in greater detail.

The article was published on October 4, a month before the election. The gist of the pair’s model is that it uses economic data, not polling numbers, to predict who will be the occupant of the White House next January.

Based on their model, Bickers and Berry said that President Obama would win only 208 votes in the Electoral College and Governor Romney would earn 330.

Now that the final final results are in and with the news that a winner has been declared in the state of Florida (Barack Obama), it can be shown that Bickers and Berry’s model came extremely close to predicting the actual number of Electoral College votes allocated, which turned out to be 332 to 206.

Unfortunately for the model from the pair from Colorado, it was President Obama who had the higher number.

The article I linked to had this to say about the model…

The state-by-state economic data used in their model have been available since 1980. When these data were applied retroactively to each election year, the model correctly classifies all presidential election winners, including the two years when independent candidates ran strongly: 1980 and 1992.

To this, I can only add the thought that a model is only as good as its last prediction.

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