Thursday, August 2, 2012

Read Stuff, You Should

Another day with lots of excellent choices, but I'm going with a Happy Birthday to Cynthia Stevenson, 50. I've seen a remarkably high percentage of everything she did up through about 12 years ago or so, but alas little or nothing since then. Mostly because of her terrific Doris, Norm's secretary. But I had forgotten: she was also in a Max Headroom! I really need to go back and watch that show again. Poking about a short from 1991 that looks not very good at all, but in which not only does she play "Perky Girl" (awesome), but Lisa Kudrow plays "Friend of Perky Girl."

How about an extra-large helping of good stuff:

1. The Hibbs model speaks: Douglas Hibbs has Obama losing solidly this November, getting only 47.5% of the two-party vote. Two notes: this is one of the models with a very strong track record; however, it does not take into account two factors that some other models include which would play for Obama, namely the terrible economy in 2009 and that Obama was preceded by a Republican.

2. Nice Sean Trende piece about how not to argue against polls that don't show up the way you want (in particular, on the issue of party ID). For what it's worth, I'm probably more skeptical than he is about the Q polls he's usual, the advice is to look at averages, not single polls.

3. See also an excellent Harry Enten item about a similar topic. My advice? You know it: averages, not single polls. Oh, and multiple averages, if you have the time.

4. Did you know that Barack Obama is running ads criticizing Mitt Romney for advocating more military spending? Greg Sargent noticed, and has interesting things to say about it.

5. Nice Ed Kilgore post about Ted Cruz, intellectual.

6. Women in Republican politics: an update, from David S. Bernstein.

7. Sarah Kliff reports on Democratic ideas for health care cost-cutting.

8. And I think I'm jealous of the recognized lost-underwear pundits.


  1. I know you are not in the prediction business, JB, but just for grins which models do you think have the best handle on things at the moment? Dickinson seems to think Abramowitz has it about right (a very, very tight race with slight advantage to Obama). However, I understand that there is concern that his recent changes may be overfitting to the data (said changes actually decreased the odds of an Obama victory using this model). Over at Pollyvote you can find models all over the place, predicting everything from a clear Obama victory to a clear Romney victory (of course you could average them, as they do, and come out actually with something close to Abramowitz). Meanwhile Nate Silver today is giving 7-3 on an Obama victory, while Sam Wang is giving 10-1. I guess you can average the models together with the polls together with whatever (which I suppose is what Pollyvote does) but that seems like throwing apples and oranges into a blender. Or is it? Confusion, confusion, confusion.

    1. I'd say that I think the Abramowitz variable (terms in the WH) has always had less intuitive appeal to me than the Bartels variable (inverse effect of 1st year economic growth). But what will actually matter? I have no idea.

      The good news: it's almost time to put away the prediction systems and start reading polls.

  2. This identity politics is stupid - I call the proponents Democrats (Zanu-PF).

    But if you must play this game, then among women governors, there are twice as many Republicans as Democrats.

    1. Anon: nice cherry-picking (let's not quibble with the Rs having 45% more governors than the Ds, so the ratios are actually 10% of D governors and 13.7% of R governors, aka the same). I'm not a fan of going nuts on identity politics, but there's just no denying that women have not been elected as Republicans anywhere nearly as often as they have as Democrats (or that both are significantly below the 50% of the population that one might naively expect).

      One shouldn't hold the GOP to the same standards as the Dems on this, though, as women are more likely to be Dems than Reps, so the GOP is likely to have fewer potential female aspirants, ceteris paribus.

      I've never been sure that female under-representation is a party story as much as it is a social story. There's literature that suggests that female representation matters to some degree (usually in terms of issues that get pressed by them). I'm not sure that this is a burning issue for the republic. But, if it does matter, then the Dems are in front on this.

  3. "The Senate Daily Press Gallery was rocked Tuesday morning when a pair of baby blue panties were found under the defibrillator"

    I was almost starting to believe the Plain Blogger that the Senate is just too damn old. This bit makes me rethink, you know. After all, there's no such thing as "too old", assuming one makes proper accommodation.

    At least where the panty drop is concerned, it would appear the senate is well prepared for its surfeit of nonagenarians.

  4. Honestly, your post and Kilgore's reminded me of a great Yglesias post on Bernanke.

    I note that liberals, in their condescension toward conservatives, sometimes wind up tying themselves into knots about guys like Bernanke. Bernanke is very smart and incredibly accomplished. Many smart liberals think conservatives are dumb. So if Bernanke is so smart, it must be that he’s not really a conservative! But no. Smart conservatives are a very real phenomenon. And in politics the general idea is to give positions of authority to well-qualified people who share your political objectives.

    Here, the evidence is overwhelming that Cruz is a conservative so liberals are tying themselves into knots trying to justify that Cruz isn't an intellectual. This is funny because Cruz resume is a slightly superior resume to Obama's resume circa 2007, when liberals had no problem labeling Obama an intellectual.

    1. I said he was an "intelligent man" and a "smart guy." I don't know you get from that to the idea that I think conservatives can't be smart.

      And for all I know, Cruz as written some very impressive stuff, or given impressive speeches, or whatever else would go towards "intellectual" (I'm pretty sure he hasn't written an acclaimed memoir, which is the primary and totally legitimate reason for calling BHO an intellectual). If he has, those things were not in the story. Which I was criticizing. Not Cruz. The NYT story.

    2. I would add (and I think JB would agree) that being an intellectual is in itself neither a good thing nor a bad thing (unlike intelligence, which is a good thing). It's not at all necessary that a politician be an intellectual, in fact, intellectuals are probably pretty rare in politics. Being seen as an intellectual might even be a hindrance, viz. Bill Bradley and Adlai Stevenson (either of whom might also be called pseudo-intellectual), to name just two. Pat Moynihan was a pretty good intellectual, but I don't think he was nearly as well-regarded as a senator. FDR was not an intellectual, but he was a good president.

  5. A while ago I watched the entire Max Headroom series for the first time since childhood (it aired around when I was 10 and 11), and I did a post about it:

    1. Nice post.

      Wait a second. I knew that Blank Reg was in a million things, and that Jeffrey Tambor was in it...but I don't think I ever realized that Bryce from Max Headroom was the pre-frosh from PCU. Huh.

      Guess that gives me another excuse to go back and watch both of them again. I wonder if it's more fun if you believe it's the same character.

    2. One actor I recognized during my recent viewing of it was a young Bill Maher, playing a corporate thug in one episode.


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