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NORKs Ditch Communism, Adopt Monarchy?

[ 0 ] October 1, 2009 |

Well, this is something:

North Korea has revised its constitution to give even more power to leader Kim Jong-il, ditch communism and elevate his “military first” ideology, South Korea’s Unification Ministry said Monday.

Though there is little doubt over the 67-year-old Kim’s power, secured by his role as chairman of the National Defense Commission, the new constitution removes any risk of ambiguity.

“The chairman is the highest general of the entire military and commands the entire country,” according to a text of the constitution enacted by the reclusive North in April and only now released by the South Korean government.

The chairman is now the country’s “supreme leader.” Though the position had become the seat of power under Kim, the previous constitution in 1998 simply said the chairman oversees matters of state….

It was also then that word reached outside the secretive state that Kim appeared to have picked his third son as successor to the world’s first communist dynasty, whose rule is underpinned by a personality cult.

But the Unification Ministry said the new charter removes all reference to communism, the guiding ideology when Kim’s father Kim Il-sung founded North Korea — of which since his death in 1994 he has been eternal president.

Often in its place is “songun,” the policy of placing the military first and which has been Kim junior’s ruling principle.

Korea, of course, lacks the “Spiritual” trait, meaning that it should experience some anarchy when changing Civics. I guess Kim Jong-Il must have stolen the Cristo Redentor when somebody wasn’t looking…

Via Frosty.

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Talent Does Not Mean Good Political Thought

[ 0 ] October 1, 2009 |

In case the Polanski itself doesn’t convince you that good politics/morals and major artistic talent have much to do with each other, I note that while people like Martin Scorsese, Ethan Coen and (natch) Woody Allen are on the wrong side of the issue, the likes of Luc Besson and Jewel haven’t decided to become ad hoc rape apologists. Although it’s nice to see cases where major artistic talent and intelligent moral and political analysis go together, it wouldn’t be wise to expect it.

QOTD

[ 0 ] October 1, 2009 |

Greenwald, on Fred Hiatt criticizing “French” and “Hollywood” defenses of Polanski while ignoring the defenses of Polanski on his own op-ed page:

But the last thing that ought to be surprising is to find defenses of morally depraved acts on the Op-Ed page of the Post; that is, after all, its essence.

Notably, Cohen’s opposition to Polanski’s punishment (“it’s alright with me if Roman Polanski is freed”) matches almost verbatim his similar defense of Casper Weinberger (“Cap, my Safeway buddy, walks, and that’s all right with me”). That, in turn, is entirely consistent with Cohen’s outrage over Lewis Libby’s prosecution for obstruction of justice (“As with sex or real estate, it is often best to keep the lights off”) and his demand that Bush torturers and war criminals be similarly protected from consequences. The opposition to Polanski’s arrest by these Post columnists is, in one sense, merely a natural extension of their general view that criminal prosecution and prison is for the dirty masses but not for elites like themselves.

[…]

For every brutal, lawless and amoral act, there is a defense of it to be found on the Washington Post Op-Ed page.

That pretty much nails it.

That’s not a Doctor of Journalism. This is a Doctor of Journalism.*

[ 0 ] October 1, 2009 |

Our arrival was badly timed. Most of the pigs from The American Spectator had already arrived. I saw this at a glance. They were just standing around trying to look casual. It was a terrifying scene.

“I thought you should know about this,” the boy said finally.

“Know? Me? Know about what?” I asked.

“Nothing. Nothing at all. Just that this guy . . . this white supremacist guy . . . he says he’s you.”

My brain locked up. I couldn’t think. The drugs were taking over. “Is he?”

“No . . . I don’t think . . . but he did say something about guns and booze.”

“Guns and booze? Guns and booze? Must be me.” Jesus. What a terrible thing to lay on somebody with a head full of acid. Alright, I thought.

“Alright,” I said. “This Nazi me with guns and gin, where . . .”

“No gin . . . he’s just talking about gin like you talk about it when you . . .”

“Look,” I said. “I’m a Doctor of Journalism. If I can’t minister to my own sober self, what good am I?” I demanded the boy take me to myself.

He led me to a dense thicket of birches fit for Frost and introduced me as Manuel. “Well,” I said. “Pleasure to make my acquaintance.”

That me looked at this me confused. Something there is that loves a wall, I thought, and ain’t that bastard something.

There he was, talking about my Samoan attorney, and here I was, looking at myself talking about my Samoan attorney . . . but what white power me said made no sense.

“Wherever you find guns, cigars and whiskey, good-looking womenfolk are sure to be flocking ’round, and I had my camera handy for the occasion.”

“Flocking ’round”? Sounds nothing like me. Strange memories of nervous nights on who knows what I can handle . . . but this was an impostor. No . . . a robot.

I was being impersonated by a robot. Programmed to say what I say but like I was Rhett Butler. To trick it would require saying something it wouldn’t expect me to . . .

“All this white shit on my sleeve is LSD,” I heard myself say. Shit. I stole a glance at myself and saw his face turn white. I noted the effort it took for him to keep up my façade. Not that he didn’t try.

“Folks around Sperryville won’t go anywhere near the place at Pig Roast time, what with the rumors of cannibalism, human sacrifice, bizarre pagan rituals and so forth.”

“And so forth?” I asked. “And so forth?”

“Wherever you find guns, cigars and whiskey, good-looking womenfolk are sure to be flocking ’round, and I had my camera handy for the occasion.”

“You already said that you fucking robot!” I threw myself at the robot but must have licked my arm on the way there because the next thing I remember I was in a bathtub surrounded by six angry pairs of Dockers.

“You shouldn’t have done that,” one said.

“Stacy is delicate,” said another. Fuck, I thought. I’d attacked some poor girl.

“Sorry,” I said. “I went after the robot.” They shot me looks I deserved. Calm down. Learn to enjoy pain. The important thing now is to leave with my balls intact.

“Stacy is not a . . .”

Intact and where they should be. My balls. Fuck would I miss them.

“Stacy wants you to apologize.”

“Send her in.” Don’t run, I thought. They’d like an excuse to shoot you. Menacing vibrations . . . I felt them all around me. The door creaked open and there she was . . . there he was . . . there I was . . .

“Some fucking robot you are!”

“Get back here!” he shouted, but I knew she couldn’t catch me.


*Written in honor of the lamest Thompson impersonation I’ve ever read . . . and I spent four years teaching literary journalism to starry-eyed undergraduates who idolized Thompson, so I know of what I speak.

That Doesn’t Sound Very WASPy…

[ 0 ] September 30, 2009 |

Seriously?

[Robert] Gates doesn’t travel much on the Beltway’s social circuit, instead spending off-hours with his wife and a small cadre of aides. He smokes cigars, drinks Belvedere martinis with a twist (the first President Bush weaned him from gin to vodka), and watches trashy movies—Transformers and Wolverine were recent favorites.

George H.W. Bush drinks vodka martinis? Really? That’s so… disappointing.

Project Sapphire

[ 0 ] September 30, 2009 |

The Washington Post had a nice article last week about Project Sapphire, the Clinton-era effort to spirit 600kg of enriched uranium out of Kazahkstan. If you haven’t read it, take a look; this has to be considered one of the most important foreign policy victories of the post-Cold War era.

…a correspondent sends this, which just sounds kind of scary.

I’m going to spend the rest of my life apologizing to Jack Cashill, aren’t I?

[ 0 ] September 30, 2009 |

(Warning: a very long post about a very silly man that I would’ve tucked beneath the fold if Blogger allowed such things.)

Because today he interviewed journalist Christopher Andersen (who, like him, writes celebrity biographies) on The Mancow Show and Andersen announced that “he had two separate sources ‘within Hyde Park’ [who claim William Ayers wrote Dreams From My Father] but, understandably, would not elaborate.” Two anonymous sources from, as they say, the neighborhood is the tipping point for me: when combined with the credibility Andersen has earned by dint of a “highly successful career as a celebrity journalist” and the evidence gathered during Cashill’s “textual sleuthing,” no intellectually honest person could doubt that there’s a there in there. How could there not be? Andersen “interviewed some 200 people for the book,” which is a whole lot. Here is a list of them drawn from the back matter and organized by chapters:

Chapters 1 and 2

  1. Janet Allison
  2. Maxine Box
  3. Clive Gray
  4. Joyce Feuer
  5. Leslie Hairston
  6. Lowell Jacobs
  7. Keith Kakugawa
  8. Eric Kusunoki
  9. Julie Lauster
  10. Alan Lum
  11. Chris McLachlin
  12. Abner Mikva
  13. Newton Minow
  14. Toni Preckwinkle
  15. Vinai Thummalapally
  16. Carolyn Trani
  17. Pake Zane

Chapters 3 and 4

  1. Loretta Augustin-Herron
  2. Bradford Berenson
  3. Cheryl Johnson
  4. Hazel Johnson
  5. Jerry Kellman
  6. Mike Kruglik
  7. Yvonne Lloyd
  8. Alvin Love
  9. Abner Mikva*
  10. Judson Miner
  11. Newton Minow*
  12. Linda Randle
  13. Vinai Thummalapally*
  14. Laurence Tribe

Chapters 5 to 8

  1. Janet Allison*
  2. Letitia Baldrige
  3. Mary Ann Campbell
  4. Joyce Feuer*
  5. Leslie Hairston*
  6. Tom Harkin
  7. Coralee Jacobs
  8. Denny Jacobs
  9. Lowell Jacobs
  10. Mike Jacobs
  11. John Kerry
  12. Edward Koch
  13. Rick Lazio
  14. Alan Love*
  15. Abner Mikva*
  16. Judson Miner*
  17. Newton Minow*
  18. Jeremiah Posedel
  19. Toni Preckwinkle*
  20. Betsy Vandercook
  21. Larry Walsh
  22. Wellington Wilson
  23. Zarif

If you subtract the sources I asterisked because they were counted in previous chapters, the final tally of Andersen’s 200 some interviews is an impressive 43. That means that only 157 or so of them were unwilling to speak truth to the powerful lies of the President on the record. That so few of them were willing to follow the example of the young Obama’s “roommate and closest friend . . . Siddiqi” and speak on the—hold on a minute. Does anyone see Siddiqi’s name among those listed as interviewees? No?

Must be Andersen toeing the ethical line again and passing off information from someone else’s published work as original research. No big deal: Siddiqi told someone that he had no memory of Obama having had a “year-long relationship with a rich, green-eyed lovely” who, as Cashill corroborated via independent textual sleuthing, was actually Ayers’s former flame, Diana Oughton. The credibility of Siddiqi’s memories is further enhanced by the fact that when he lived with Obama, he spent the majority of his time snorting cocaine, smoking marijuana, and perfecting his Cheech impersonation. Who wouldn’t believe his memory of that period is infallible?

Cashill anticipates that the critics who balk at the “lack of attribution by Andersen” or believe that “the citation of [Cashill] as a source and/or a reliance upon [him] as a source” constitutes a demonstration of intellectual unseriousness. Neither of those positions (both of which I have taken) “imply,” as Cashill claims, “that Andersen is a fraud and a liar and the he contrived the story he told” because I’m not implying anything.

The sloppiness of Andersen’s research demonstrably proves that he’s not the sort of celebrity biographer an intelligent person trusts with anonymous sources. Andersen’s inability to recognize the worthlessness of Cashill’s impressionistic “textual sleuthing” demonstrably proves that he’s not the sort of celebrity biographer an intelligent person trusts to do responsible literary analysis. Need I remind you of the “quality” of Cashill’s work?

The A-level match

Cashill:

What Mr. Midwest noticed recently is that both Ayers in [A Kind and Just Parent] and Obama in [Dreams From My Father] make reference to the poet Carl Sandburg. In itself, this is not a grand revelation. Let us call it a C-level match. Obama and Ayers seem to have shared the same library in any case . . . Ayers and Obama, however, go beyond citing Sandburg. Each quotes the opening line of his poem “Chicago” . . . This I would call a B-level match. What raises it up a notch to an A-level match is the fact that both misquote “Chicago,” and they do so in exactly the same way.

Reality:

Both Ayers and Obama misquote the opening line of Carl Sandburg’s “Chicago,” substituting “hog butcher to the world” for “hog butcher for the world.” This mutual error would be significant (an “A-level match”) if Ayers and Obama were the only two people who ever made it, but according to Google Book Search—a secret search engine to which only I have access—the same mistake has been made by Nelson Algren, Alan Lomax, Andrei Codrescu, H.L. Mencken, Paul Krugman, Perry Miller, Donald Hall, Ed McBain, Saul Bellow, S.J. Perelman, Nathanaël West, Ezra Pound, Wright Morris, Allen Ginsberg, Langston Hughes, and the 1967 Illinois Commission on Automation and Technological Progress. (To name but a few.) According to Cashill, I have now proven that Dreams From My Father was written by many a dead man of American letters, a living mystery writer, a New York Times columnist and the 1967 Illinois Commission on Automation and Technological Progress. That bears repeating: I have an “A-level match” that proves that Obama’s autobiography was written by a “study of the economic and social effects of automation and other technological changes on industry, commerce, agriculture, education, manpower, and society in Illinois” when Obama was only six years old.

The “baleful” affair

Cashill:

Returning to the exotic, in his Indonesian backyard Obama discovered two “birds of paradise” running wild as well as chickens, ducks, and a “yellow dog with a baleful howl.” In [Ayers’] Fugitive Days, there is even more “howling” than there is in Dreams . . . In [A Kind and Just Parent], he talks specifically about a “yellow dog.” And he uses the word “baleful” to describe an “eye” in Fugitive Days. For the record, “baleful” means “threatening harm.” I had to look it up.

Reality:

Cashill cited as “A-level” evidence the fact that Ayers and Obama used a word he didn’t know, despite his being the Executive Editor of Kansas City’s premier business publication, Ingram’s Magazine; despite his having written for Fortune, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and The Weekly Standard; despite his having authored five books of non-fiction; and despite the word “baleful” having appeared in print 342 times in the past six months alone. Granted, all those appearances were in high-minded literary publications like Newsday (“[w]ith his baleful countenance, wild hair, sonorous baritone and sage pronouncements”) or leftist rags like The Washington Times (“warn them in baleful tones if they’ve forgotten, say, the Constitution”), so it would be unreasonable to expect Cashill to have been familiar with the word . . . or would be, were it not for the fact that it also appears 19 times in the pages of the American Thinker, the publication for which Cashill penned this tripe. (Seems he can begin his careful literary analysis of the other 848,000 potential ghost writers closer to home.)

Lawyers and legal jargon

Cashill:

To this point, I have just skimmed the 759 items in the bill of particulars in my case against Obama’s literary genius. Not familiar with the term “bill of particulars?” Uncertain myself, I looked that one up too. It means a list of written statements made by a party to a court proceeding. Ayers and Obama each refer knowingly to a “bill of particulars.” Doesn’t everyone?

The answer, of course, is no.

Reality:

The phrase “bill of particulars” is an uncommon construction, and its repeated use indicates that the speaker has a specialized vocabulary in which this construction regularly appears. According to LexisNexis, this is exactly the case: in the past six months, that exact phrase has been written 509 times and every single one of them looks like this:

United States v. Clark, NO. 05-6507, UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SIXTH CIRCUIT, 09a0422n.06;, 2009 U.S. App. LEXIS 12940; 2009 FED App. 0422N (6th Cir.), June 15, 2009, Filed, NOT RECOMMENDED FOR FULL-TEXT PUBLICATION. SIXTH CIRCUIT RULE 28(g) LIMITS CITATION TO SPECIFIC SITUATIONS. PLEASE SEE RULE 28(g) BEFORE CITING IN A PROCEEDING IN A COURT IN THE SIXTH CIRCUIT. IF CITED, A COPY MUST BE SERVED ON OTHER PARTIES AND THE COURT. THIS NOTICE IS TO BE PROMINENTLY DISPLAYED IF THIS DECISION IS REPRODUCED.

The only people who regularly use the phrase “bill of particulars,” then, are lawyers[.]

Self-evidently hilarious examples of “textual sleuthing”

  1. Common words are common: “Another note of interest is that all of the distinctive words in the last sentence above—’master,’ ‘beast,’ ‘grim,’ ‘unapologetic,’ and ‘deed,’ as well as the phrase ‘hunkered down’—appear in Fugitive Days.
  2. The sea is a pregnant metaphor: “Ayers and Obama both use words that relate to the sea (‘fog, mist, ships, seas, boats, oceans, calms, captains, charts, first mates, storms, streams, wind, waves, anchors, barges, horizons, ports, panoramas, moorings, tides, currents, and things howling, fluttering, knotted, ragged, tangled, and murky’).”
  3. People are lonely: “After the neighbor’s death, the police let themselves into the old man’s apartment, and for no good reason Obama finds himself in the apartment. ‘The loneliness of the scene affected me,’ he writes. Loneliness as a theme courses through Fugitive Days as well.”
  4. Old men are stooped and people wear hats: “In the opening pages, Obama makes an exception to his New York solitude for an elderly neighbor, a “stooped” gentleman who wore a ‘fedora.’ In Fugitive Days, it was Ayers’ grandfather who was “stooped” and a helpful stranger who wore a ‘fedora.'”
  5. Some people are quiet: “Obama tells the reader that the neighbor’s ‘silence’ impressed him. ‘Silence’ impressed Ayers as well. There are at least ten references to the word in Fugitive Days.
  6. Angry people feel rage: “[B]oth Ayers and Obama speak of ‘rage’ the way that Eskimos do of snow—in so many varieties, so often, that they feel the need to qualify it, here as ‘impressive rage,’ elsewhere in Dreams as ‘suppressed rage’ or ‘coil of rage,’ and in Fugitive Days as ‘justifiable rage,’ ‘uncontrollable rage,’ ‘blind rage,’ and, of course, ‘Days of Rage.'”

The Kicker

Cashill tells us he wouldn’t believe himself either: “I have as much faith in the hypothesis that follows as . . . biologists do in evolution, so bear with me please as I, like they, present my evidence in the indicative.” He has as much “faith” in his hypothesis as biologists do in the hypothesis of evolution. I wonder what Intelligence Design advocate Jack Cashill has to say about that kind of faith?

ID partisans across the board believe in micro-evolution: that is, evolution within a species. Some believe in evolution between species, macro-evolution, if guided.

What the ID movement challenges is Darwinian mechanics, random variation and natural selection, an elegant idea in 1859 but in 1999 still just an idea. Neo-Darwinians have as much trouble explaining how complex organs like a wing or an eye—or even a single cell within an eye—could be the result of unguided, incremental change as Darwin did.

Darwin could only hope that the fossil record would one day prove him right. It hasn’t. No evidence has surfaced of a transformation from one species to the next. Nor has anyone offered a satisfactory explanation for the rash of new animal life that inexplicably entered the fossil record during the so-called Cambrian explosion.

I am not about to dignify that creationist nonsense by responding to it. If Cashill really wants to know what use half a wing might be to a flightless bird, he can go ask a penguin.

Conclusion

When I first wrote that anyone who uses “Cashill’s juvenile musings as a hypothetical which, if true, suggests all the unsavory things [they] already believe about Obama,” I didn’t know that Cashill also bought into Intelligent Design, but it makes sense that someone who could compile and be convinced by the evidence above would be a subject of King Tendentiousness himself. Like ID, Cashill’s theory consists of details inexpertly cobbled together by deeply interested parties. The similar caveat applies in both: should it turn out that one day the Great Designer reveals Himself or Obama admits that Ayers helped edit his memoir, the soundness of their respective methodologies would not be validated—all that will be proven is that sometimes tendentious idiots get lucky.

Further thoughts from Anne Applebaum: The slut was asking for it

[ 0 ] September 30, 2009 |

Incredibly, Applebaum’s followup to her original contribution on the Polanski rape is even more clueless and offensive than the original:

Of course, there were some very legitimate disagreements, including two excellent ones from my colleagues Gene Robinson and Richard Cohen, and I take some of their points. But to them, and to all who imagine that the original incident at the heart of this story was a straightforward and simple criminal case, I recommend reading the transcript of the victim’s testimony (here in two parts) — including her descriptions of the telephone conversation she had with her mother from Polanski’s house, asking permission to be photographed in Jack Nicholson’s jacuzzi –and not just the salacious bits.

Here’s the relevant part of the transcript:

Q. What happened out there after he indicated he wished to take pictures of you in the jacuzzi?

A. We went inside and called my mother.

Q. When you say “we called,” did you call or did Mr. Polanski call?

A. He told me to and I talked and then he talked and then I talked again.

Q. What did you tell your mother?

A. She goes, “Are you all right?

I went, “Uh-huh.”

And she says, “Do you want me to come pick you up?”

And I went, “No.”

And he said that we’d be home kind of late because it had already gotten dark out.

Q. When you said “he said,” did he tell you or did you hear him tell your mother on the phone?

A. He told my mother.

Q, Did he tell your mother any other things?

A. Not that I was listening to.

Q. After talking to your mother on the telephone, what happened?

A. We went out and I got in the jacuzzi.

Applebaum can’t even read 20 lines of a trial transcript accurately (the victim never asked her mother for permission to be photographed in the jacuzzi). But that idiocy pales to insignificance in comparison to the moral blindness involved in suggesting, as Applebaum clearly does, that if the 13-year-old victime had in fact asked her mother’s permission to be photographed in a jacuzzi by a 44-year-old man that would somehow transform the man’s subsequent drugging and raping of the girl into something other than a “simple and straightforward criminal case.”

Applebaum’s first post on this subject might have been ever so slightly excused by the possibility that she simply hadn’t thought through exactly what she was defending. This has no such excuse.

"The Left" Strikes Again!

[ 0 ] September 30, 2009 |

Neo-neocon bring her mad yoosta-bee skillz to the Polanski issue:

The reaction of no small number of pundits on the Left to the Polanski case is to recommend that we let bygones be bygones.

Amusingly, the post goes on to engage in some speculation about the motives of these dastardly “pundits on the Left” without getting around to naming any of them or their their alleged specific arguments, which one would think would be necessary for her project. And the reasons for this are obvious: leaving aside Hollywood directors/writers and mediocre French “philosophers” (who don’t fit the criteria anyway), the most prominent American pundit to apologize for Polanski has been…Anne Applebaum, whose politics are essentially identical neo-neo con. The one dismaying actual leftist exception to this is Katrina VandenHeuvel, who posted a one-line twitter agreeing with Applebaum’s idiotic column, which she’s partially walked back (albeit with a regrettable endorsement of Wanted and Desired.) And…that’s it. (And, no, Richard Cohen really doesn’t count.) Pretty thin reed to hang an indictment on “the Left,” I’d have to say. (Mother Jones editor Clara Jeffrey’s reactions would be far more representative.)

And now, the punchline:

But thank goodness the rank and file liberals at HuffPo and Salon don’t happen to agree with their journalist “betters” that Polanski should be let off the hook.

Yes, damn Salon for publishing so many apologies for Polanski! I’m afraid neo has a lot to learn about writing lazy indictments of “the Left”; it’s generally a bad idea to even name sources, because it makes it embarrassingly obvious that you haven’t even read the ones you’re criticizing.

For rather more useful contributions on Polanski, see Lauren and little light. They don’t even blame Polanski on the moral relativism of “the right!”

Au revoir, les enfants

[ 0 ] September 30, 2009 |

This reads like a wingnut parody of degenerate France and degenerate Hollywood engaging in an orgy of amoral pomposity. (As a lawyer I confess ignorance regarding the principle of immunity from legal process for film festival attendees).

I can only hope that most of the signatories to this kind of thing aren’t actually familiar with the facts of the case. Of course that sort of selective blindness is a huge problem of its own.

As djw notes in a thread below, the worst part of minimizing Polanski’s crimes is that almost all the arguments used to do so are classic rape culture tropes. (Consider the central claim of this petition, which is that Polanski was arrested on a “morals” charge, as if it were obvious that it’s perfectly possible for a 44-year-old man to have genuinely consensual sex with a 13-year-old girl, let alone one he had first drugged up, and who has always insisted that she was forcibly raped).

Depressing.

Clutching at Straws

[ 0 ] September 30, 2009 |

Gordo lays out his vision for the next Labour government.

Most of it is the typical Labour shopping list (and the Tory critique that it hasn’t been costed out does ring true). I am intrigued by the long awaited constitutional / electoral system reform.
Two suggestions stand out. First, he wants to adopt the recall for MPs. I wrote about the sheer lunacy of this back in June; I will temper my reaction somewhat now by observing that it would need to be implemented very carefully for it to work. I still see large problems in tightly balanced parliaments or minority governments.
The second is that he has come out in favor of the alternative vote to elect MPs. This I like. While I would prefer MMP, the AV is a classically British incremental approach to reform: it would retain single member districts, and be less likely to lead to coalition government than MMP. It would also significantly reduce the probability of tactical voting as it increases the incentives for a sincere vote. I hope to find the time to explore the ramifications of this in greater detail, but as this is the first week of the semester at my august institution, I’ve been hilariously busy. Indeed, as we have undergone our own restructuring over the summer, I find myself temporarily without an office, with my PC packed away in a box somewhere. An advantage of this arrangement is that I am now permanently housed in the Elections Centre, where we have the data and expertise to have a quick chat about how this may change the electoral landscape.
Of course, none of this matters. In a move that surprises nobody, the typically opportunistic Sun has shifted its allegiance from Labour to the Conservatives for the first time since the 1997 election. While Labour have received what appears to be a stable bump as a result of their conference, they are still 11 points down. With the Conservative conference upcoming, expect this gap to widen as the Tories manage to say something tangible for a change. Also interesting is a recent MORI poll that places the Lib Dems in 2nd place, but I suspect that this is an outlier.

Blue Dog Votes

[ 0 ] September 30, 2009 |

In addition to the fact that Blue Dogs who won’t allow up-and-down votes are pretty much entirely useless, it seems to me that Blue Dog votes on cloture provide a pretty good first approximation of whether Republican-collaborationist Blue Dogs are primarily worried about constituents or donors. If the former, for low-information voters a no vote on the merits should be good enough; “sure, she voted no, but she refused to prevent a majority vote” isn’t going to make a good campaign ad. If your primary audience is high-information donors and lobbyists, though, you’re going to have to vote for filibusters.