Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘NY-23

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* Ireland wants a rematch against France, but FIFA says it won’t happen. More here.

* Kurt Vonnegut’s letter home as a POW, 1944.

* The headline reads, “IBM makes supercomputer significantly smarter than cat.”

* Eric Barker calls this New York Times article on DNA testing and parental rights “thought-provoking”, and I suppose it is—but mostly I was completely aghast at the idea that a father would desert his child after a decade just because the child turned out to be “not really his,” “someone else’s kid.” Speaking off the cuff, it seems to me the best solution here would probably just be to change the law to allow children to have more than two legal parents—but regardless of the legal question there’s a clear ethical imperative to remain a parent the child you have raised and claim to love, whatever the mother might have done or said in the past. In some sense this actually seems to me to be beyond ethics, or rather before; it seems to me you’d want to stay the child’s father, that you’d be desperate to, in whatever way you could.

* Autocomplete Me is a blog devoted to revealing the weirdest gems in Google’s autocomplete feature. (Hat tip: Neil.)

* The Board of Regents for the University of California system has voted to raise tuition 32% over 2008. How the University Works declares California is burning.

* Troubled times in Casino City. Via Atrios.

* Stopping ACTA. Via Boing Boing.

* Dump Geithner: A growing consensus?

* Good and bad polling news: Even Fox News viewers overwhelmingly think the bow was appropriate (good news), but 52% of Republicans think ACORN stole 9.5 million votes in the 2008 election to put Obama in the White House (bad news). Naturally, ACORN stole NY-23 as well.

* Meanwhile, 52% of Americans are shockingly misinformed about whether an army of gorillas could beat an army of bears.

* And the news story that launched a thousand 2010 puns: there could be fishlike life on Europa. All these puns are yours, except Europa. Attempt no punning there.

Lunatics and Asylums

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Via Steve Benen, I see that Paul Krugman’s column today addresses a particular concern of this blog over the last few months, the long-term consequences of a GOP “taken over by the people it used to exploit”:

In the short run, this may help Democrats, as it did in that New York race. But maybe not: elections aren’t necessarily won by the candidate with the most rational argument. They’re often determined, instead, by events and economic conditions.

In fact, the party of Limbaugh and Beck could well make major gains in the midterm elections. The Obama administration’s job-creation efforts have fallen short, so that unemployment is likely to stay disastrously high through next year and beyond. The banker-friendly bailout of Wall Street has angered voters, and might even let Republicans claim the mantle of economic populism. Conservatives may not have better ideas, but voters might support them out of sheer frustration.

And if Tea Party Republicans do win big next year, what has already happened in California could happen at the national level. In California, the G.O.P. has essentially shrunk down to a rump party with no interest in actually governing — but that rump remains big enough to prevent anyone else from dealing with the state’s fiscal crisis. If this happens to America as a whole, as it all too easily could, the country could become effectively ungovernable in the midst of an ongoing economic disaster.

The point is that the takeover of the Republican Party by the irrational right is no laughing matter. Something unprecedented is happening here — and it’s very bad for America.

That a radicalized GOP will degrade to permanent minority status but still retain enough power to obstruct constructive legislation is certainly a concern. But the bigger concern, as I’ve written a few times before, is that eventually the Democrats will have bad luck and the logic of the two party system will propel the Palinized Republicans back into power—at which time the lunatics really will be in charge of the asylum.

Written by gerrycanavan

November 9, 2009 at 3:59 pm

Election Roundup

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I went to bed before NJ or NY-23 was called, so while I’m slightly disappointed to see the Republican win in NJ after all (Booker ’13?) I’m very glad to see the extremists cost the GOP that century-old House seat in NY-23.

Nate Silver goes race by race at FiveThirtyEight.com. Here’s NJ:

Obama approval was actually pretty strong in New Jersey, at 57 percent, but 27 percent of those who approved of Obama nevertheless voted for someone other than Corzine. This one really does appear to be mostly about Corzine being an unappealing candidate, as the Democrats look like they’ll lose just one or two seats in the state legislature in Trenton. Corzine compounded his problems by staying negative until the bitter end of the campaign rather than rounding out his portfolio after having closed the margin with Christie.

And here’s NY-23:

NY-23: Democrat Bill Owens prevails in a result that will be regarded as surprising; the final tally isn’t in yet but it appears as though it will be something on the order of 50-45 over Conservative Doug Hoffman. I don’t think I’ve ever hedged more on predicting the outcome of a race; the main issue is that there was a rather large discrepancy between the polling, which heavily favored Hoffman, and what I perceived to be the facts on the ground. NY-23 is solidly Republican but not especially conservative (it voted for Barack Obama last year), and Hoffman was a relatively uncharismatic candidate with poor command of the local issues.

If New Jersey was a win for the incumbent rule, then NY-23 may have ben a win for the Median voter theorem, as Owens — a conservative Democrat — was actually much closer to the average ideology of the district than the capital-C Conservative Hoffman. It was also a reminder that all politics is local (sometimes). More than 95 percent of Hoffman’s contributions came from out-of-district, and the conservative activists who tried to brand him as a modern-day Jefferson Smith never bothered to check whether he resonated particularly well with the zeitgeist of the district. In any event, this is a Democratic takeover of a GOP-held seat and they expand by one their majority in the House.

Like Kos, I’d have traded all three races for the Maine marriage-equality vote. That’s a heart-breaker, and shows again why it’s never a good idea for a society to put minority civil rights on the ballot. Another slight bright side: a civil unions bill passed the ballot in Washington state.

Written by gerrycanavan

November 4, 2009 at 1:27 pm

Midday Links

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Midday links while I wonder whether tonight’s elections will go long or short.

* Open Left wisely points out that today’s elections don’t really tell us anything about national politics while Kos’s Jed Lawson pre-spin takes a different tack in arguing that Owens wins even if he loses. Steve Benen points out that a district in California that is essentially a mirror image of NY-23—historically very Democratic, though significantly less one-sided than NY-23’s century-and-a-half Republican streak—is having a special election tonight that doesn’t count (UPDATE: Think Progress, too), while TPM debunks in advance the bogus assertions of electoral fraud already erupting anywhere Republicans could lose tonight.

* Virginia is never enough: McDonnell 2012? Really? Even Sarah Palin managed to serve a few months before seeking national office.

* Reid too is saying there’s no deal with Lieberman. Maybe not anymore.

* Why do humans kiss? To spread our germs.

* A brief history of innoculation.

* And MetaFilter wishes happy birthday to Sputnik and the Blob while saying goodbye to Claude Lévi-Strauss and Laika the dog.

Written by gerrycanavan

November 3, 2009 at 7:45 pm

Fair and Balanced

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TPM has a astounding video of Fox lying about NY-23 over the course of days. Well done, fellows! Sounds like somebody will getting another Peabody soon.

Written by gerrycanavan

November 3, 2009 at 1:39 am

Off-Year Election Predictions and Random Speculations on the Future of the GOP

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Off-Year Election Predictions! The three elections tomorrow that will dominate spin in the press about whether America loves or hates Barack Obama are, of course, VA-GOV, NJ-GOV, and NY-23.

VA-GOV: It seems pretty over for Deeds, and pro-Democrat spinners will be well-advised to focus their attention elsewhere. “You know, Virginia’s still in the South” and “Virginia always votes against the White House” are the best Democrats have here, with a big helping of “And Deeds ran a lousy campaign, largely against Obama” for flavor.

NJ-GOV: The polls are close, with the most recent showing a slight edge to Chris Christie, but I really think between Daggett and a superior get-out-the-vote operation Corzine will manage to eke out the win here.

So (if I’m right) that’s 1-1, and it all comes down to NY-23. This is a crazy three-way race, with the Republican, Dede Scozzafava, suddenly pulling out over the weekend (though she’ll remain on the ballot) and then, even more surprisingly, tossing a strong endorsement behind the Democrat, Bill Owens. The Conservative candidate, Doug Hoffman, has the support of national popular-in-Republican-circles like Sarah Palin behind him, but doesn’t actually live in the district or know all that much about it, and will likely be hurt by straight-ticket Republican voting by people who may not have even heard Scozzafava’s dropped out.

I won’t presume to insult Nate Silver by calling the race when he called it a coin-flip, but I will note that either way the results of this very unusual House race in a small district in upstate New York will likely determine who “wins” the spin war in the national press and thereby determine the tenor of electoral coverage going into 2010—which is as good an indictment of contemporary journalism as any I think you’ll see this week.

It will be very interesting, win or lose in NY-23, to see what lessons the GOP takes from the Hoffman ascendancy as we go into 2010 and 2012, and, indeed, what effect running hard to the right will have on their chances if that’s how they decide to go. The conventional view is that running away from the center hurts a party’s electoral prospects, but I’m not at all convinced the American electorate is quite so rational in its decision-making. It could just be that the pendulum swings back and forth between whatever two parties happen to exist at the moment, regardless of the content of their positions. As I wrote back in May:

More and more I think there’s only two possibilities: Either the GOP is in fact in a death spiral and will actually disappear as a national party within the next decade, or the GOP has realized that in a two-party system you don’t actually need to say you’re sorry; you can just sit back and wait for your opponents to have bad luck, then go crazy once you’re back in office. After that incumbency will protect you for a good, long while, and even to the extent it doesn’t you can accomplish long-term goals in a very short timespan with party unity, weak opposition, and a compliant, mendacious press.

Jury’s still out. NY-23 will be an interesting first data point.