A Tiny Fraction of the Total

by Kieran Healy on October 29, 2004

I know this is late in Blog Time, but this Pentagon response to the debacle of the “looted high-explosives cache”:http://www.nytimes.com/2004/10/29/politics/29bomb.html?hp&ex=1099108800&en=7b767c25018de326&ei=5094&partner=homepage is too good to pass up:

bq. The Pentagon also notes that it has destroyed 400,000 tons of munitions from thousands of sites across Iraq, and that the explosives at Al Qaqaa account for “one-tenth of 1 percent” of that amount.

Now let’s say I move house next month, pack everything into a trailer and drive to, oh, Florida. I arrive to discover I have left my 9-month-old daughter behind in Tucson. Not to worry! She weighs less than 20lbs and this is but a tiny fraction of the total weight I successfully shipped across the country. A negligible error!

October surprise

by Daniel on October 29, 2004

About two hours after the Osama video hit the newswires, and the good old Iowa Electronic Markets have marked down the two DEM04 contracts from about 48% to 44%. Ouch.

By the way, there might be a small prize for the first CT reader to find an online use of the “see, Kerry agrees with Bin Laden” talking point that is no doubt being lined up on the Mighty Wurlitzer …

I wanna hold you in parenthesis

by Ted on October 29, 2004

Most liberal blog readers have heard about Tom DeLay’s ludicrous accusation against the Daily Kos blog (also quoted here, here, and here):

“LaRouche is a con felon and all I can tell you is that Mr. Morrison has supported and campaigned with LaRouche followers and Mr. Morrison also has taken money and is working with the Daily Kos, which is an organization that raises money for fighters against the U.S. in Iraq,” said DeLay.

Needless to say, the Daily Kos does not raise money for insurgents or terrorists in Iraq or elsewhere. Unless the House Majority leader would be pleased to describe himself and other House Republicans as “fighters against the U.S. in Bosnia”, this is an absurd charge.

I happened to go back to the original story just now, where I saw…

“LaRouche is a convicted felon and all I can tell you is that Mr. Morrison has supported and campaigned with LaRouche followers and Mr. Morrison also has taken money and is working with the Daily Kos, which is an organization that raises money for fighters of U.S. (policy) in Iraq,” said DeLay. (emphasis added)

How’d that happen?

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Acknowledging Your Limitations

by Kieran Healy on October 29, 2004

While looking up something else, I came across one of the Top 10 Best Things in a Preface ever written by an academic. It’s from Garry Runicman’s “A Treatise on Social Theory, Vol II”:http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0521369835/kieranhealysw-20/ref=nosim/:

bq. I have also been faced with a dilemma about the use and transliteration of sociological terms from languages other than English … I have compromised as best I can, and where the language in question is Greek, Latin, French, German, Italian or Spanish I am reasonably confident of my judgement about the nuances carried by vernacular terms for institutions, practices and roles. But in all other languages, I have had to rely entirely on the authorities on whose writings I have drawn …

It’s tough having such a narrow range.

Dirty Pool

by Henry Farrell on October 29, 2004

Some fascinating new evidence on US Supreme Court decision making and (perhaps) on _Bush v. Gore_ from my colleagues Forrest Maltzman, Lee Sigelman and Paul Wahlbeck in the latest issue of “PS”:http://www.apsanet.org/ps/oct04/toc.cfm (the complete paper is “here”:http://www.henryfarrell.net/images/scj.pdf). They’ve uncovered smoking-gun quality evidence that Justice Rehnquist has been running a betting pool on US presidential elections – there’s a copy of the bets (and results) for the 1992 election among Harry Blackmun’s papers (you can see an extract below). In 1992, six members of the Court anted up $1 each for each of the 50 states and for the District of Columbia. Thus, there was a pool of $6 for each state, which was divvied up evenly among those Justices who correctly predicted the winner for that state. As the Chief Justice described the results of the pool in his cover note:

bq. The net result is that Sandra has won $18.30, Harry has won $1.70, John and I have lost $6.30, Tony has lost $2.30, and Clarence has lost $5.10.

Maltzman, Sigelman and Wahlbeck run a series of statistical tests on the Justice’s performance, finding that the justices’ exposure (or lack of same) to mainstream media and first-hand knowledge of the state in question have statistically significant effects. They demonstrate that the level of Supreme Court productivity sags during election years, suggesting that the Justices are “preoccupied with cramming for the office pool.” More pertinently, for recent political events, they suggest that this may have affected the Judges’ incentives in _Bush v. Gore_ – to the extent that the judges had money at stake, they had, to put it mildly, an interest in swinging the result. As the authors remind us:

bq. During an election night party in 2000, Justice O’Connor apparently became upset when CBS anchor Dan Rather called Florida for Vice President Gore, She exclaimed “This is terrible!” and then proceeded, “with an air of obvious disgust,” to walk off to get a plate of food (Thomas and Isikoff 2000). Speculation abounded at the time about why O’Connor was so distraught, but our revelation of the operation of a Supreme Court gambling ring opens up a new possibility: If, as she had done in 1992, O’Connor predicted that Florida would go Republican in 2000 (an outcome she subsequently helped to assure), then her outburst probably stemmed from dismay at the prospect of falling behind in the election pool.

Explains a lot, doesn’t it.

What the…

by Ted on October 29, 2004

Zizka has a great tagline on his blog: “Uncool when uncoolness is necessary.” We’ve reached that point. This is a goddamn outrage. GOP apparatchiks in Ohio may face prosecution for making false claims in their challenges to hundreds of new voter registratrations. Their challenges were thrown out at the initiative of the Republican members of the Board of Elections, proving that not every single thing on Earth is about politics. Completely unacceptable.

And this… I really hope that it’s revealed to be a parody, or a forgery, or something. Even the Kossacks are suspicious. It’s so over the top, it’s like seeing a recruiting poster for COBRA.

The view from here

by BillG on October 29, 2004

Election notes from Columbus, OH. Last week, John Kerry was in Katzinger’s, the deli around the corner from my house. Tonight he and Bruce Springsteen are at Ohio State University (OSU).

10/28/04 2:33 PM EST. I get a robot phone call from Ken Blackwell, the (Republican) Ohio Secretary of State. Big deal: Clinton called last night. If Ohio is Florida 2004, Blackwell will be Katherine Harris. I know you are thinking, “Das eine Malals Tragödie, das andere Mal als Farce,” but Harris nailed farce, so Ken has his work cut out for him. He reminds me that I can only vote in my correct precinct and asks if I know where this is (Me: “Yes.” Ken: “Excellent. Goodbye”). Some Ohioans view this an attempt to suppress the vote by getting people to worry about where they should go. That seems paranoid.

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Hello, world

by BillG on October 29, 2004

Let me intoduce myself. I am Bill Gardner and I live in Columbus, Ohio. I asked the Crooked Timber folks if I could guest blog on the election. I am a new Ohio voter, having just moved to the Ohio State University faculty last year. It’s possible that Ohio could prove to be the Gettysburg of the 2004 vote. If so, Columbus would be Cemetery Ridge. I’ll try to tell you what it looks like from here.

I don’t have any qualifications for this, other than being fascinated by this place and time. I’m a quantitative psychologist doing medical research in the OSU Pediatrics Department. I don’t know anything about philosophy, economics, or political theory (or cold temperature physics, or…). I’m such a dork that when I had the chance as a college freshman to take a class on The theory of justice from Rawls his own self, I passed because I thought his voice would put me to sleep. If only that was the worst educational choice I ever made.

Deaths in Iraq

by Chris Bertram on October 29, 2004

“The Guardian has a story today”:http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,2763,1338749,00.html about some research led by Les Roberts of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore which claims 100,000 excess Iraqi deaths, many of which it attributes to bombing by coalition forces. “Juan Cole has some comment on this”:http://www.juancole.com/2004_10_01_juancole_archive.html#109902941049326214 (and more links).

I should state plainly that I have no way of judging the accuracy of this figure. It may be way off. Nevertheless I can predict with certainty that there will be numerous posts on weblogs supporting the war attacking the study. However much they criticize such exercises, though, there is some fact of the matter about how many excess Iraqi deaths there have been as a result of the war. My faith in human reason and evidence is such that I must believe that there is some figure which, if verified, would lead the enthusiasts for _this_ war to conclude that it was a mistake. But perhaps I’m wrong about that: perhaps they think that the case for _some_ war to displace Saddam Hussein was just so strong that no facts about the actual war have any bearing on the correctness of the decision to fight?