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October 2012

On Twitter, Nate Silver Explains Thing in Numbers of One Digit

Twitter / fivethirtyeight: 7 polls released in Ohio in ...:

fivethirtyeight: 7 polls released in Ohio in past 48 hours: Obama +2, Obama +3, Obama +3, Obama +3, Obama +5, Obama +5, Obama +5. #notthatcomplicated

Julie Johnston ‏@Julia_JJ: @fivethirtyeight You're so

Mike Madden ‏@mikemadden: @fivethirtyeight What kind of wizardry is this?

Danny Bowes ‏@moviesbybowes: @fivethirtyeight But....Joe Scarborough said certainty is for ideologues. I'm so confused!!!!

Nolan Hicks ‏@ndhapple: .@fivethirtyeight nods head, drops mic, walks off stage.

Nick Spencer ‏@nickspencer: @fivethirtyeight now watch in frustration tomorrow as media only report on a single Romney-leading poll (probably from Ras).

Ruben Bolling ‏@RubenBolling: @fivethirtyeight I don't get it. What are all those numbers? WHAT ARE YOU HEARING ON THE GROUND??

Paul Krugman: Who Ordered This?

Paul Krugman notes that the happiness and well-being of 310 million people is at stake here:

Not The Election They Were Expecting: [I]t’s not the election Romney and the Republicans expected and wanted; but it’s also looking very different from what Democrats expected. What Romney & Co. expected was a simple rejection of Obama because of the weak economy…. [But]voters tend to react to recent trends, not the absolute level — and the economy has gotten better in some ways…. [And] people do remember the crisis of 2008, which they still blame on Bush, and remain willing to cut Obama substantial slack.

But… there’s more going on. The conventional wisdom — which I too bought into — was that Democrats were going to support Obama, but grudgingly and without much enthusiasm…. Republicans would show their usual unity and discipline, and at best it would be Obama by a nose. Instead, the Republicans appear to be in a shambles — while the Democrats seem incredibly united, and increasingly, dare I say it, enthusiastic….

How did that happen? Partly it’s because this has become such an ideological election — much more so than 2008. The GOP has made it clear that it has a very different vision of what America should be than that of Democrats, and Democrats have rallied around their cause. Among other things, while we weren’t looking, social issues became a source of Democratic strength…. And let me add a speculation: I suspect that in the end Obamacare is turning out to be a big plus, even though it has always had ambivalent polling. The fact is that Obama can point to a big achievement that will survive if he is reelected, perish if he isn’t; health insurance for 50 million or so Americans (30 million from the ACA, another 20 who would lose coverage if Romney/Ryan Medicaid cuts happen) is enough to cure people of the notion that it doesn’t matter who wins…. [I]t looks as if voters are rejecting the right’s whole package, not just the messenger.

No Daily Wang Today...

Sam Wang's Princeton Electoral Consortium website is still hosed...

I was wrong: there is a Daily Wang today. They got something back up:

‎election princeton edu

They give 19-1 odds against Romney if you are ignorant of background fundamentals, 99-1 odds against Romney if you make reasonable prior assumptions about background fundamentals and are Bayesian.

Me? I think Sam is doing something like using the Gaussian copula here--the odds are odds within the model, and the model is not the world. I'm with Nate, who still gives Romney a 1 in 5 chance.

Dylan Byers of the Politico Is Back! And Tweeting! And Meat's Back on the Menu, Boys!: Nate Silver Really Is a National Treasure Weblogging

Why oh why can't we have a better press corps?

On Twitter:

Dylan Byers ‏@DylanByers: Honest Q: People are aware that RCP poll aggregate also predicted 49 of 50 states in 2008 & also missed Indiana, right?

Nate Silver ‏@fivethirtyeight: .@DylanByers: We have a lot of readers because we use data to cut through the drivel that you obsess over. Not because we make predictions.

BGrueskin ‏@BGrueskin: It's hardly a fair fight when @fivethirtyeight takes on @DylanByers

J. Bradford DeLong ‏@delong: @DylanByers Honest Q: Are you really unaware that RCP's Obama up by 2.4% in Ohio right now is the same reality as Silver's 75% Obama chance?

Dylan Byers ‏@DylanByers: @delong that was exactly my point, brad

J. Bradford DeLong ‏@delong: @DylanByers that not your point. Your point was coffee-drinking NPR types would be shocked to learn that many think Silver highly overrated

Dylan Byers ‏@DylanByers: @delong if he and RCP (poll aggregation) say the exact same thing, then why is Nate Silver so special?

Jamison Foser ‏@jamisonfoser: @DylanByers @delong Maybe you should ask the people (conservatives only, of course) you quoted attacking him?

michael de la madera ‏@actongriscom: @jamisonfoser Every time @DylanByers touches his keyboard @fivethirtyeight goes up in my estimation as journalist AND human being. @delong

michael de la madera ‏@actongriscom: @jamisonfoser @DylanByers Oh, so that´s the issue: why is Nate so special. Gotcha. Hilarious. #HowToMakeFriendsAndInfluencePeople @delong

Jamison Foser ‏@jamisonfoser: .@DylanByers Ooh! My turn! Why do you quote only 2 people, both conservatives, but suggest the critique of Silver is broad consensus?

Jamelle Bouie ‏@jbouie: If @DylanByers has a problem with Obama’s high odds in Silver’s estimation (or in Linzer’s or Wang’s), he has a problem with the polls.

Christopher Hayes ‏@chrislhayes: @mckaycoppins @DylanByers this is parody, yes?

Continue reading "Dylan Byers of the Politico Is Back! And Tweeting! And Meat's Back on the Menu, Boys!: Nate Silver Really Is a National Treasure Weblogging" »

The Smart Sean Trende Asks: What's Behind the State-National Poll Divergence?

By now we have so much state-level and national-level polling data that the divergence between them can no longer be dismissed as probable sampling error. I don't think Sean Trende has it nailed, but he is wrestling with the right problem:

Sean Trende: What's Behind the State-National Poll Divergence?: [T]e national surveys point to a Romney win, while the state polls collectively point to an Obama win. Both can’t be correct. The RCP Average currently has Mitt Romney up by 0.8 points… a Republican enjoying a one-point lead nationally should expect a three-to-four-point lead in Florida, a two-to-three-point lead in Ohio, and a tie in Iowa. Instead we see Romney ahead by roughly one point in Florida, and down by two in Ohio and Iowa….

To account for what we see, some have hypothesized that Romney is simply over-performing in the blue states and blowing the roof off in the Southern red states, both of which are untouched by Obama’s ground game. But this theory immediately runs smack into the face of some inconvenient facts…. Florida, North Carolina, and Virginia collectively represent about one-third of the population of the South, so if the “state poll view” of the races is correct, then it becomes difficult for Romney to run up huge margins in the South. He would have to really be doing well in places like Texas, Mississippi and Georgia….

[W]e can reverse-engineer a national poll from the state polls…. I took the states with RCP Averages… poll data post-Oct. 4, our data set is confined to a fairly stable period in the race. For the 19 remaining states [without RCP Averages], I assumed Romney would do as well as George W. Bush…. I downgraded Romney a few points from Bush's showing in Texas, and upgraded Obama a few points from Kerry's Hawaii performance, owing to the “home-state advantages” the former now lacks and the latter now holds.

I took these percentages and multiplied them by the actual number of votes cast in each state in 2008. This produced an expected vote total for Obama and Romney in each state under current polling (or, if not polls were available, under Bush’s 2004 vote shares). If the state polls are right… Obama should lead by 1.18 points in the national vote….

[T]he state and national polls really are saying different things, at least for now. In other words, if you are calling for the state polls to be right, you are pretty much necessarily calling for the national polls to be wrong, and vice versa….

[T]here are several good arguments for favoring the state polling: (1) you have more polls -- a much larger collective “n”; (2) you compartmentalize sampling issues -- pollsters focused exclusively on Colorado, for example, seem less likely to overlook downscale Latinos than pollsters with a national focus; and (3) the state pollsters were better in 1996 and 2000…. But… national pollsters… [are] a battle-tested group with a long track record…. Of the 14 pollsters surveying Ohio in October, only four did so in 2004 (five if you count CNN/USAToday/Gallup and CNN/Opinion Research as the same poll). Pollsters such as ABC/Washington Post, Gallup, Pew, Battleground, and NBC/WSJ are well-funded, well-staffed organizations. It’s not immediately obvious why the Gravises, Purple Strategies and Marists of the world should be trusted as much as them, let alone more…. Finally, remember that in 2008, the national polls were pretty much spot-on; the state polls were off by a couple of points. Although they actually tended to favor McCain that year, it’s just further proof that the larger “n” isn’t a guarantee of greater accuracy.

Continue reading "The Smart Sean Trende Asks: What's Behind the State-National Poll Divergence?" »

Mike Allen Looks at One Set of Polls and Says It "Could Be the Death of Mittmentum", But Refuses to Look at All Polls

Election Forecasts  FiveThirtyEight Blog  NYTimes com

But Nate Silver's look--or anybody else's look--at all the polls says that there has been no Mittmentum since October 12. That's almost three weeks ago. Before October 12, every day brought a few more voters thinking about the first debate or about what those they talked to said and shifting to Romney. Since October 12, not.

Mike Allen:

POLITICO Playbook: Many of the top Republicans who called and wrote us yesterday fear Mitt Romney’s momentum has stalled. They hope a victory is “baked in” -- that some tectonic shift in the country hasn’t been fully detected by pollsters or explained by the press. But no one’s sure. And today’s Quinnipiac/NYT/CBS polls could be the death knell of Mittmentum stories -- Ohio: Obama +5 (50-45; unchanged from Oct. 22) … Virginia: Obama +2 (49-47; Obama was up 5 on Oct. 11) … Florida: Obama +1 (48-47; Obama was +9 on Sept. 26).

It's not that Allen is--like his Politico peers Byers and Martin--opposed to that new-fangled "arithmetic" stuff: he quotes poll numbers and even (inadequately) tries to put them in context. But he does seem opposed to using them in a sensible way to constrain the narratives that he will reprint when politicians and their acolytes--usually Republican politicians--spin him.

Why oh why can't we have a better press corps?

Bill Galston Wanted the Obama Administration to Nuke the Recovery: Looking Back at the Internet Past

Three years ago, Bill Galson was telling Obama to anticipatorily adopt the austerity policies of Cameron-Osborne-Clegg that have been so disastrous for Britain:

Brad DeLong: Bill Galston Says: The Obama Administration Should Adopt Bad Economic Policies: It is remarkable:

More Signs Of Trouble For 2010: Still, Democrats must ask themselves whether there’s anything they can do over the next year--for example, a meaningful shift toward fiscal restraint--to reduce the intensity level of the conservative assault. If not, the combination of an energized opposition and an electorate battered by high unemployment, slow growth, and the perception of out-of-control spending could set the stage for an ugly outcome...

As I wrote three years ago:

A "meaningful shift toward fiscal restraint" means an unemployment rate that is likely to be not steady at around 10% a year from now but rising toward 12%.

Even if one is as narrow-minded as Bill Galston and focuses not on what are good policies but what policies are politically advantageous, adopting policies to raise the unemployment rate does not seem to be the kind of thing one should advocate, does it?

Does Bill Galston ever talk to any economists?

Does Bill Galston even know any economists?

Has Bill Galston ever marked his beliefs to market in any way? Will he ever mark his beliefs to market in any way?

Liveblogging World War II: October 31, 1942

Operation Uranus in detail:

After the 298. Infanteriedivision and 22. Panzerdivision were designated as reserves behind the Italian front line and the Soviet bridging operations across the Don River became known on 25 October, Hitler finally realized a Russian winter offensive was possible… [even though] his operational order no. 1, dated 23 October, where he had already dismissed any possibility of such an operation…. [H]e expressed his worries about the weak flanks of the 6th Army many times during the daily staff meetings. On 30 October…. Finally on 31 October the ongoing reinforcements of the Russian bridgeheads at Kletskaya and Serafimovic were clearly reported. Fremde Heere Ost defined them as purely defensive measures.

A possible attack was only considered on a tactical, but not a strategic level. Gehlen’s department evaluated the situation and came close to envisioning the actual Soviet preparations. The Southwest Front was moved to their assembly areas around the end of October…

Glenn Hubbard Fails to Sell Mitt Romney's Economic Policies

Instead, he makes the intelligent and skeptical John Cassidy fearful:

Romney's "Recovery Plan" Could Bring On Another Recession: Columbia economist Glenn Hubbard, who is one of Mitt Romney’s top economic advisers, has an op-ed piece entitled “The Romney Plan for Economic Recovery.” When I saw the headline, I felt a rush of anticipation: at last, I thought, here is the big new jobs initiative that the G.O.P. campaign is relying on to turn things in its favor.

I was mistaken. The first two thirds of Hubbard’s piece is... an attack on... Obama.... When Hubbard eventually gets to laying out Romney’s alternative, there is nothing new either... a vague promise to cut federal spending and reduce the budget deficit, an even vaguer plan to cut taxes but in a “revenue-neutral fashion,” and a commitment to repeal Obamacare and Dodd-Frank.... [T]he G.O.P. campaign still doesn’t have a recovery program....

If this really is all there is to Romney’s economic platform, it amounts to a modest fiscal contraction accompanied by tax and regulatory changes designed to improve the economy’s long-term growth potential [ed: should be enrich Republican campaign contributors].... I would suggest that the tax changes... won’t make much difference to how the economy performs, and that softening regulation would be positively harmful.... But the issue here isn’t the economy’s long-term growth potential. It is how to gee it up now and prevent a lost five years from turning into a lost decade. None of the policies that Hubbard mentions involve direct measures to boost demand....

One possibility is that Romney isn’t really serious.... Another possibility is that Romney is hoping that his fellow Republican Ben Bernanke will bail him out.... But with short-term interest rates already approaching zero, the Federal Reserve is almost out of ammo.... A final possibility is that Romney isn’t serious about making his tax cuts revenue-neutral....

Far from putting forward a “recovery plan,” Romney remains tied to a grab bag of proposals that won’t do anything to promote spending and job creation if they are fully enacted, and which could well tip the economy into another outright slump.

Mitt and Ann Romney: President Obama Is "Not a Grown-Up": I Don't Know About You, But Owning a Dancing Horse Speaks Loudly as Far as Arrested Childhood Is Concerned

David Corn:

Romney to Business Crowd: An audio recording of a private Mitt Romney fundraiser…. On March 27, as Romney was still fighting for the Republican presidential nomination, he and Ann attended a fundraiser in Irvine, California, at the home of Michelle and David Horowitz… $1,000-per-plate outdoors luncheon…. Romney… took only three questions….

Continue reading "Mitt and Ann Romney: President Obama Is "Not a Grown-Up": I Don't Know About You, But Owning a Dancing Horse Speaks Loudly as Far as Arrested Childhood Is Concerned" »

Paul Krugman Watches Glenn Hubbard Deny the Macroeconomic Impact of the Financial Crisis Thrice

I share Paul's view: this is very bad indeed:

Paul Krugman: More Financial Crisis Denialism: I managed to avoid reading this Times profile of Glenn Hubbard until now. Wow…. Hubbard repeats what has now become the party line — that all deep recessions are the same, and that we should have had a V-shaped recovery from the crisis of 2008-2009, so that it’s all Obama’s fault:

It is absolutely possible, Ali, both in terms of models of policy effects on the recovery and historical experience…. If you look at the recovery from ’74, ’75, or ’81, ’82, you can easily get job growth in this range. We have the wrong policy mix. We’ve had a nasty shock, we’re in a different situation, but we could do a lot better.

Words fail me.

Continue reading "Paul Krugman Watches Glenn Hubbard Deny the Macroeconomic Impact of the Financial Crisis Thrice" »

Ta-Nehisi Coates: Republican Indiana Senate Candidate Richard Mourdock's Pious Cruelty

Ta-Nehisi Coates:

Via The Wire, here is Indiana Republican Senate candidate Richard Mourdock:

I struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize life is that gift from God, and I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen….

[I]f you believe that all human life is a gift, and if you believe God is a personal motivating force behind every single conception of human life, then it seems pretty logical to conclude that all pregnancies, even ones induced by rape, are "a gift from God." 

Mourdock of course, by accident of biology, will never have to bear such gifts. But to argue that the female body has the means to "shut that whole thing down," or that the torture of women is somehow divinely sanctioned takes more than just an accident of biology. It takes the ability to speak about things of which you are ignorant as though you are informed. It takes unacknowledged blindness. 

It takes an appetite for cruelty.

Today's Exemplary Republican Tea-Party Voter: "I'm a Hard-Working Suburbanite Who Never Took a Bailout and I Wan't [Sic] Pay for Inner-City Health Care"

Yes, the Republican base is ugly:

J. Bradford DeLong ‏@delong: Duncan Black: The Evolution of Republican Suburban Tribalism

Tea Cardman ‏@TeaCardman: @delong Growing up in a small town in a poor state and now owning my own home in a suburb makes me proud. You'll probably never understand.

J. Bradford DeLong ‏@delong: @TeaCardman and the point is? That the changes the top 0.1% have made and Romney wants to reinforce have made this much harder?

Tea Cardman ‏@TeaCardman: @delong I didn't answer your question. I am a hard working suburbanite who never took a bail out & I wan't pay for inner-city health care.

"Inner city" health care. I get it. Sheesh…

The curse of Barry Goldwater-Richard Nixon-Ronald Reagan still haunts the Republican Party--and through them the rest of us--this Halloween…

Immigrants Needed, and All Kinds

By the end of 2012 there were 312 million Americans out of 7 billion people on the planet. By 2062--if we stay on the current policy track--there will be 500 million Americans out of 10 billion people on the planet, as compared to 340 million if we were to end net immigration now and if birthrates remained the same. In this sense, America in 2062 will--if we stay on our current policy track--be a nation that is 1/3 post-2012 immigrants.

The thoughtful Adam Ozimek thinks that isn't enough.

He thinks the United States needs more high-skill immigrants. I think the United States needs more immigrants--more people willing to take risks and work hard to seek a better life for themselves and their children, and illiterates from Chiapas seem to me as good as doctors from Calcutta:

Adam Ozimek:

[A] great article from Noah Smith on why we need a huge amount of Asian immigration. Noah is good at thinking about immigration more broadly than typical economists, and this article is no exception:

East Asia, South Asia, and Southeast Asia together have over half the world’s population, but Asians make up only 5% of the United States. If our ethnic makeup was a portfolio of stocks, we would be severely underweight Asia. Asia is important not just because it is huge, but because it is growing rapidly. Trade with these countries will be incredibly important to the American economy this…. Furthermore, I believe that the cultural benefits of Asian immigration will be just as big as the economic and political benefits. Adding diversity to our melting pot will speed up America’s inevitable and necessary transition from a “nation of all European races” to a “nation of all races.”…

The second article is from Matt Yglesias who emphasizes what is perhaps the most important and least appreciated truth of our times: immigration is more important than most of the issues we spend all our time arguing about.

Imagine a counterfactual history of the United States… in which we never opened our borders to the ethnic “others” of the past—the Catholics and Jews of Eastern and Southern Europe, then more recently Asians and Latin Americans. That is a very different vision of America. Not a bad place, necessarily, but probably one that looks a lot more like New Zealand—pleasant, much less densely populated, much more focused on primary commodities, somewhat poorer, and much more monolithically focused on the originally settled port cities.

It’s the most important economic issue of our time, far more important than tax reform, and it is a lever that could help improve a lot of problems we have in this country. We should be shouting this from the rooftops daily.

The Daily Wang: October 30, 2012

History of the Meta analysis 1

I still don't get why Sam Wang's confidence intervals are so narrow--and why his Obama probability is so high. If something as good for Romney as the Ryan pick or the first debate happens tomorrow, Romney wins even if the polls are currently right. And the polls might be wrong. 93% and 98% seem way high to me…

Bonus Politico Blogging: Shorter Mike Allen: I Am Sorry, But Not Very, That I Have Not Been Doing My Job for Like the Past Six Months

Why oh why can't we have a better press corps?

POLITICO Playbook: MORNING MINDMELD: As an antidote to the (perhaps) irrational Republican exuberance that seems to have seized D.C., we pause for the following public-service announcement. To be President, you have to win states, not debates.

And Mitt Romney has a problem.

Despite a great debate and what The Wall Street Journal’s Neil King Jr. on Sunday called a polling “surge,” Romney has not put away a single one of the must-have states. President Obama remains the favorite because he only needs to win a couple of the toss-ups. Mitt needs to win most of them.

A cold shower for the GOP: Most polling shows Romney trailing in Ohio, Wisconsin, Nevada, New Hampshire and Iowa – by MORE than Obama trails in North Carolina. Glenn Thrush and Jonathan Martin reminded of us of the 2008 primary analogy: Whatever else Hillary Clinton had, Barack Obama had the math. And math, not momentum, gets you the big house, the bulletproof car, the cool plane.

We now resume our regularly scheduled Playbook.

Shashank Tripathi, Bad Actor and Villain…

Jack Stuef:

BuzzFeed FWD • Shashank Tripathi, Last Night's Twitter Villain @ComfortablySmug: During the storm last night, user @comfortablysmug was the source of a load of frightening but false information…. ConEd, the MTA, and Wall Street sources had to take time out of the crisis situation to refute them.

What leads a person to do such a thing?… What @comfortablysmug didn’t count on, apparently, was losing that anonymity.

Based on photos he censored and posted to the account but I found unedited elsewhere, @comfortablysmug is Shashank Tripathi, a hedge-fund analyst and the campaign manager of Christopher R. Wight, this year’s Republican candidate for the U.S. House from New York’s 12th congressional district.

FEC documents show Wight has paid Tripathi thousands of dollars this election cycle as a “consultant.” @comfortablysmug has been a vocal supporter of Mitt Romney and posted tweets suggesting he attended this year’s Republican convention….

When I called Tripathi and introduced myself, he immediately hung up.  @comfortablysmug did not respond to a DM request for comment. Wight could not immediately be reached for comment. Jordan Terry, founder of hedge fund consultancy Stone Street Partners, whose blog @comfortablysmug links to in his Twitter profile, said “Smug” no longer writes for the blog, but Terry had “otherwise no comment” on Tripathi.

The Daily Silver: October 30, 2012

The "nowcast" odds from

Election Forecasts  FiveThirtyEight Blog  NYTimes com 2

The "forecast" odds:

Election Forecasts  FiveThirtyEight Blog  NYTimes com 3

The "nowcast" odds are Nate Silver's guesses of the chances of an Obama or a Romney win if the election were held on a particular day. The "forecast" odds are Nate Silver's guesses as of a particular day of the chances of an Obama or a Romney win on November 6.

There are two reasons for the "forecast" odds to deviate from the "nowcast odds":

  1. Stuff will happen to change public opinion between a particular day and the election, and (as long as Obama has the lead) a given shift of support in Obama's direction raises his odds by less than the same shift of support away from Obama's direction lowers his odds.

  2. Public opinion is under pressure to return to what Nate Silver guesses is its "fundamental" level as generated by economic conditions.

Right now these two factors work to raise Silver's guess of Romney's odds from 24.8% in the nowcast to 27.1% in the forecast.

As time passes both of these factors diminish, because there is less time for the distribution of public opinion to spread and less time for the distribution's center to return to its "fundamental" level.

In the Silver-view, four things of note have happened in this presidential campaign:

  1. The conventions--the fact that the Democrats put on an impressive convention while the Republicans did not, which shifted Obama's edge from marginal to substantial.

  2. The period from early September to early October in which Obama's odds slowly rise not because of anything that happens to public opinion but rather because one of the two months in which Romney could change people's minds passes without him doing so.

  3. Obama's catastrophic first debate in early October, and the consequent collapse of Obama's edge to marginal.

  4. A subsequent partial recovery in the middle third of October.

If you have been covering the horserace, and if you have been writing about anything other than these four events--well, then, you have been wasting your and your readers' time.

Better for everybody if you had gone quail-hunting in Texas with Dick Cheney.

Better still if you had been writing stories about the Democratic Senate edge, or what will happen in the House, or about why the demographic groups of America support the candidates that they do.

I think that it is the fear among so many horserace journalists that after November 6 their bosses will point out that they are expensive, ask them to justify themselves, and that they will then be unable to--that that is driving the desire of so many horserace journalists to cast themselves as the villains from "Moneyball"…

Liveblogging World War II: October 30, 1942

The Battle of the Atlantic:

  • The unescorted American steam merchant West Kebar was torpedoed and sunk by the U-129, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Hans-Ludwig Witt, approximately 350 miles northeast of Barbados in the western Atlantic Ocean. Of the ship’s complement, 3 died and 54 survivors were picked up by a British patrol boat, the Spanish motor tanker Campero or reached land by lifeboat. The 5,620 ton West Kebar was carrying manganese ore, palm oil, mahogany, rubber, and general cargo and was bound for New York, New York. For more information on these vessels visit the West Kebar and the U-129 pages on      
  • A straggler from Convoy SL-125, the British steam merchant Corinaldo was torpedoed and sunk by the U-203, commanded by Oberleutnant zur See Hermann Kottmann, north of the Canary Islands in the eastern Atlantic Ocean. Of the ship’s complement, 8 died and 50 survivors were picked up by the corvette HMS Cowslip (K 196). The 7,131 ton Corinaldo was carrying frozen meat and was bound for Glasgow, Scotland. For more information on these vessels visit the Corinaldo and the U-203 pages on      
  • Sailing with Convoy SL-125, the British motor merchant Silverwillow was torpedoed, damaged by the U-409, commanded by Oberleutnant zur See Hanns-Ferdinand Massmann, north-northeast of Madeira in the eastern Atlantic Ocean. The ship for six days before it finally sank. Of the ship’s complement, 6 died and 61 survivors were picked up by the auxiliary patrol vessel HMS Kelantan (F 166). The 6,373 ton Silverwillow was carrying general cargo and was bound for Liverpool, England. For more information on these vessels visit the Silverwillow and the U-409 pages on      
  • Sailing with Convoy SL-125, the British motor merchant Brittany was torpedoed and sunk by the U-509, commanded by Oberleutnant zur See Werner Witte, near Madeira in the eastern Atlantic Ocean. Of the ship’s complement, 14 died and 43 survivors were picked up by the auxiliary patrol vessel HMS Kelantan (F 166). The 4,772 ton Brittany was carrying hides, rice, and cotton and was bound for Liverpool, England. For more information on these vessels visit the Brittany and the U-509 pages on      
  • Sailing with Convoy SL-125, the British steam merchant Baron Vernon was torpedoed and sunk by the U-604, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Horst Höltring, north of Madeira in the eastern Atlantic Ocean. Of the ship’s complement, all 49 survived and were picked up by the British steam merchant Baron Elgin. The 3,642 ton Baron Vernon was carrying iron ore and was bound for Port Talbot, Wales. For more information on these vessels visit the Baron Vernon and the U-604 pages on      
  • Sailing with Convoy SL-125, the British troop transport Président Doumer was torpedoed and sunk by the U-604, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Horst Höltring, northeast of Madeira in the eastern Atlantic Ocean. Of the ship’s complement and passengers, 260 died and 85 survivors were picked up by the Norwegian steam merchant Alaska and the corvette HMS Cowslip (K 196). The 11,898 ton Président Doumer was carrying troops, general cargo, including palm kernels and was bound for the United Kingdom. For more information on these vessels visit the Président Doumer and the U-604 pages on      
  • A straggler from Convoy SL-125, the British motor tanker Bullmouth was torpedoed and sunk by the U-659, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Hans Stock, approximately 100 miles north-northwest of Maderia in the eastern Atlantic Ocean. Of the ship’s complement, 50 died and 6 survivors reached land by lifeboat. The 7,519 ton Bullmouth was carrying ballast and was bound for Tyne, England. For more information on these vessels visit the Bullmouth and the U-659 pages on


The very smart Mike Konczal:

Four Histories of the Right's 47 Percent Theory: [T]he distribution of the tax burden isn't what the 47 percent theory is about. The 47 percent theory is all about grand political battles…. [T]here are two distinct parts to a good 47 percent theory. The first is who creates and sustains the 47 percent as a political agent. This can't be the bipartisan set of policymakers who wanted to do income support through work requirements as well as expand… the child credit; it needs to be agents with specific, outside political goals…. Who does it? The second part of a good 47 percent theory is that the consequences need to be terrible…. But how high are those stakes, and what do they represent?>Let's start at the beginning. Where does this meme start?

  1. Trickle On Trickle Down: The Lucky Duckies of the Wall Street Journal Editorial Page…. [T]his looks like an internal fight among conservatives and Republicans…. The Bush tax cuts are going to be across all families, and the editorial is warning that… it should focus just on the rich…. The editorials seemed more concerned that the federal tax code will retain its progressivity under this tax cut, rather than the lucky duckies initating a new culture war….

  2. The Battle: Right Wing Think Tanks and the New Culture War…. As Mark Schmitt wrote, "this theory that we're headed toward a radical egalitarian state is being developed is the American Enterprise Institute, the oldest of the conservative think tanks and one that, much like Romney, has forsaken the traditional business-minded conservatism of, say, the first President Bush, for hard conservatism in which everything is a grand showdown of incompatible worldviews."… The "30 percent" are the ones behind this expansion of people who don't pay federal income taxes…. The 30 percent are a group of people who "reject the free enterprise system culturally." The free enterprise system stands in "stark contrast to European-style social democracy." The 30 percent "twists equality of opportunity into equality of outcome."… Consequences?… [T]his locks young people into… the intellectual space of the 30 percent coalition….

  3. The Hammock…. Paul Ryan… at Heritage…. Who? The do-gooders who created the social safety net.  It's too generous…. Consequences?… People will be beyond the ability to help themselves, hypnotized as they are by the siren's call of the welfare state. This is why Romney can say "I'll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives."

4. Takers and Public Choice…. Steve Doocey on Fox and Friends: "Coming up! A controversial question. With 47% of Americans not paying taxes – 47% – should those who don’t pay be allowed to vote?" Who? The 47 percent themselves… those at the bottom half of the income scale vote into office people willing to take from the top half of the income scale…. Consequences? The system eventually collapses… those at the margin work less and also join in demanding more…

Continue reading "47%" »

Not Getting the Memo: Jonathan Adler and Nathaniel Stewart Misunderstand the Rehnquist-Roberts Court

Jonathan H. Adler and Nathaniel Stewart write:

Positive Steps, Silver Linings:The Supreme Court’s ruling in NFIB v. Sebelius was disheartening, especially after overturning the mandate seemed within reach. But despair is unwarranted. The negative consequences of the ruling for constitutional law are actually quite limited, and there is much in it upon which to build…. The primary challenge to the individual mandate was an effort to prevent further expansion of Congress’s already-inflated authority under the Commerce Clause. From the New Deal to 1995, Congress exercised its commerce power without meaningful restraint. Only during the later years of the Rehnquist Court did the justices finally say “Enough,” in United States v. Lopez (1995) and Morrison v. United States (2000). Yet even these decisions did not prevent the Court from upholding the federal government’s authority to prohibit simple possession of medical marijuana apart from commercial activity, in Gonzales v. Raich (2005)…

This, I think, profoundly misleads readers as to the rationale of the decisions of the Rehnquist-Roberts court.

Add Bush v. Gore, Eldred, and Citizens United to the mix of Raich, Lopez, and Morrison, and you see a court that has as its principal value not placing outer-limit bounds to already-inflated congressional authority to legislate, but rather a court whose principal aims are (a) the advancement of Republican partisan goals and (b) hippie-punching.

Eldred is, I think, especially brutal: congress's authority to secure "for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries" is expressly to be exercised to "promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts"--not to enrich the shareholders and managers of the Walt Disney Corporation. Yet because the case was framed to the court as one in which idealistic hippies faced off against pillars of the community, Lessig could get only two votes--with none of the justices in the majority on Lopez or Morrison on his side.

And Adler and Stewart, I think, profoundly fail to grasp the implications of the position--that regulation of "inactivity" is beyond congress's commerce clause power--that they applaud. It means that in a wide variety of cases market failure in individual economic sectors can only be dealt with by sector-wide socialism: public takeover and public provision. It means that softer, more market-friendly, incentive-compatible, efficient, and liberty-friendly regulatory schemes are beyond the federal government's powers.

That's a big one for people who believe--probably wrongly--that market-friendly regulatory schemes are doomed to failure and inferior to market-superseding schemes. And that's a big loss for people like me.

The Stupidest Tweet in the History of All Twitter Ever Comes from Jonathan Martin of Politico

The mind boggles when one tries to figure out just what Jonathan Martin, Dylan Byers, and company thought that Nate Silver and Sam Wang and company were doing…

Did they never read them?

I want suggestions, in comments, for what Byers, Martin, and company thought that Nate Silver was doing--preferably involving wizardry, time machines, and entrails...

Tommy Thompson: "Who Better than Me to Do Away with Medicare and Medicaid?"

TPM Editors say:

So Long, Tommy.

The question is: are all these ex-moderate Republicans only now saying what they always wished they could say, or are they simply pandering to the Tea Party because theory are terrified of their party's base?

In either case, Americans cannot afford to vote for even moderate Republican senators.

Today's Sam Wang: What Are the Odds of an Obama Victory Anyway?

History of the Meta analysis

Sam's 0.98 and 0.91 probabilities of an Obama victory seem high to me. We have 8 days until the election. I count four eight-day episodes in the past five months in which Sam's median electoral-vote estimate has moved far enough in the right direction to give Romney a victory. That would seem to me to indicate that Obama's chances of winning are 1 - 4/(5 x 30 / 8) = 0.79 -- unless, of course, something has happened to make public opinion stickier (or less sticky!) than it has been since mid-May.

Seems to me reasonably likely that Sam Wang's 0.91 and 0.98 numbers lean rather too heavily on the assumption of a normal Brownian drift (the 0.91) and on the assumption of a normal Brownian drift and that he has specified fundamentals properly in his Bayesian prior (the 0.98).

Alex MacGillis: Mitt Romney Says We Should Not Have Nationwide Federal Disaster Relief at All

Alex MacGillis:

It's The Allure Of Glib Federalism/a>: Why Romney Came Out Against FEMA: Watching one of the many Republican presidential debates, a CNN one in June 2011, I started at one exchange, and was surprised that it did not draw more comment afterward. CNN's John King asked Mitt Romney whether, in the aftermath of the recent Joplin, Mo. disaster and a budget crunch at FEMA, the agency should be shut down, leaving disaster relief to the states.

"Absolutely," Romney said:

Every time you have an occasion to take something from the federal government and send it back to the states, that's the right direction. And if you can go even further, and send it back to the private sector, that's even better. Instead of thinking, in the federal budget, what we should cut, we should ask the opposite question, what should we keep?

King followed up: "Including disaster relief, though?"

[Romney replied:]

We cannot -- we cannot afford to do those things without jeopardizing the future for our kids. It is simply immoral, in my view, for us to continue to rack up larger and larger debts and pass them on to our kids, knowing full well that we'll all be dead and gone before it's paid off. It makes no sense at all.

Continue reading "Alex MacGillis: Mitt Romney Says We Should Not Have Nationwide Federal Disaster Relief at All" »

John Podhoretz Badly Needs Some Better Friends than Fred Barnes...

Watch Fred Barnes snooker John Podhoretz in real time--and then watch Podhoretz get angry at those of us who point out to him that Barnes has snookered him

John Podhoretz ‏@jpodhoretz: Battleground Poll has Romney 52-57. In response, Nate Silver raises probability of Obama win to 99 44/100% pure.

John Podhoretz ‏@jpodhoretz: Correcting earlier tweet: Battleground poll Romney 52-47. In response, Nate Silver raises Obama victory likelihood to 99 44/100 % pure

John Podhoretz ‏@jpodhoretz: link to [Fred Barnes] Battleground Poll story:

John Podhoretz ‏@jpodhoretz: OK, somebody's wrong. Fred Barnes says Battleground has Romney by 5, Politico says Obama by 1.

John Podhoretz ‏@jpodhoretz: @HotlineJosh Very strange. Barnes piece is very specific.

John Podhoretz ‏@jpodhoretz: @HotlineJosh hmmm

John Podhoretz ‏@jpodhoretz: @bobdoty it's their poll!

John Podhoretz ‏@jpodhoretz: Sorry for confusion. Battleground poll: 49-48O. Battleground PROJECTION of final vote: 52-47R.

John Podhoretz ‏@jpodhoretz: @LoganDobson the reporting in this poll this morning is a bit of a mess.

John Podhoretz ‏@jpodhoretz: @jpodhoretz @LoganDobson on this poll, I mean

John Podhoretz ‏@jpodhoretz: @delong seems like the confusion over al, this is general across the Internets.

John Podhoretz ‏@jpodhoretz: The battleground poll will be reported as "Obama +1". Out of 1000 respondents, 484 chose Romney, 487 chose Obama. It's just rounding.

John Podhoretz ‏@jpodhoretz: "Movement" from the last week's poll? 4 fewer respondents (actual number, not %) went for Mitt, 12 more for Obama. Margin of error stuff.

John Podhoretz ‏@jpodhoretz: @delong don't insult my friend [i.e., Fred Barnes]

John Podhoretz ‏@jpodhoretz: This is a very close race. #captainobvioustweets

John Podhoretz ‏@jpodhoretz: @delong you are evidently even more of a jerk than your jerky blog would have led me to believe.

Funny, yes.

But there is something serious to be written here about Orwell, "1984", and the ability of the Inner Party to keep its understanding of the world separate from the propaganda they feed to the Outer Party and to the proles.

Anybody feel like writing it so that I can link to it?

DeLong Smackdown Watch: Mark Thoma Complains That I Neglect Political Economy Weblogging

Mark Thoma:

Economist's View: DeLong: Inequality: Living in the Second Gilded Age: One complaint: It's more than just economics. In my view, Brad doesn't put enough emphasis on the changing political tide over the last few decades, and how that has altered public policy towards institutions such as unions that were able to help workers get a fair share of the output they produce (unions aren't even mentioned in the article).

Continue reading "DeLong Smackdown Watch: Mark Thoma Complains That I Neglect Political Economy Weblogging" »