Patterico's Pontifications

12/31/2011

Happy New Year — Cars Catching Fire Edition

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 10:31 pm

Cars are catching fire in Los Angeles in what some people apparently consider their celebration of the New Year.

Reminiscent of France.

Is that really who we want to be imitating?

My Biggest Blogging Error in 2011 (Patterico)

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:00 pm

Blogging.

Second biggest error: not blogging.

Or is it the other way around? Sometimes I can’t tell.

My New Year’s Resolution: to avoid both errors.

My biggest blogging error in 2011

Filed under: General — Karl @ 9:21 am

[Posted by Karl]

I think it is a healthy development that more bloggers are taking the slow news period at year’s end to audit their own work.  It is a practice that ought to be adopted more by those in the establishment media who are actually paid for the opinions and predictions.  Thus, it seemed only fair that I promote the trend by auditing my own 2011 blogging.

First, I will note the task of scanning an entire year’s worth of blogging — even my relatively modest output — helped show me why more people do not audit their work, quite aside from not wanting to revisit one’s own errors.

Second, my preexisting awareness of and annoyance with establishment punditry’s lack of self-awareness has meant that I am generally careful to couch my own analyses in terms of what is likely or probable.  On the plus side, this means I rarely went out on a limb and embarrassed myself.  On the minus side, it could be argued that not freely offering bold opinions is itself a blogging error.  At the very least, it turns out that a list of my outright errors turns out to not be entertainingly embarrassing.

The vast majority of my minor errors tend to exhibit a common sin of political punditry — the straight-line projection from the current situation.  For example, in “Destination Florida,” I think the basic point that the GOP nomination may be decided in the Sunshine State holds up, but in making that point, assuming that Bachmann would remain the frontrunner in Iowa, just as Rick Perry got into the race, was obviously a mistake several times over.

Speaking of Rick Perry, his candidacy is the focus of my biggest blogging error in 2011.  Although I am not a supporter of any of the GOP candidates, my bias for a more conservative candidate than Mitt Romney caused me to discount the potential for gaffes to derail Perry’s campaign (perhaps because I thought Romney supporters were overstating that argument).  Thus, ”Why Rick Perry is the likely GOP nominee” still works as an academic exercise in political science, but I should have added the obvious caveat that the actual  candidate matters above and beyond record and regional factors.  I ultimately addressed the issue, but should have been on it much sooner.

I have considered the related issue of whether I was wrong about the impact of the GOP debates this year, but still believe the answer here is “yes and no.”  Yes, insofar as Perry’s debate performances helped knock him out of the top spot, both because he insulted base voters in his defense of Gardasil vaccinations and in-state tutition for children of illegal immigrants, and in his seeming lack of debate preparation.  Indeed, I may have underestimated the degree to which those stumbles reminded Perry of George W. Bush.  Both consciously and subconsciously, GOP voters may have recoiled against a candidate who could help strengthen Obama’s near-inevitable attempts to blame Bush for his own failures and remind people how much they grew to disapprove of the prior GOP administration.

On the other hand, even upon further reflection, I believe it is fair to say that this was not a function of debates mattering per se, but largely a function of Perry’s splashy, late entry to the race.  That late start meant the debates — and the media coverage of them — became the way most outside Texas formed their first real impressions of Perry (fairly or not).  There is other circumstantial evidence for my point here.  A look at Google search volume for Perry and the subsequent poll average (see the charts here) tends to suggest that people were losing interest in Perry even before he started debating.  Perry’s rise may have been even more of a hype-driven bubble than even his critics believed. (Of course, lest I fall into the straight-line projection error again, I must add that if ever there was a cycle where someone like Perry could pull out of a campaign ditch, it would be this cycle.)

In sum, my biggest blogging error in 2011 was failing to recognize how easy it is to make the basic mistakes of punditry — straight-line projections and letting one’s personal preference color one’s analysis — even when consciously trying to avoid them.  These are lessons establishment pundits could take to heart without auditing their work each year — but it helps.

–Karl

12/30/2011

Sockpuppet Friday — Belated Edition

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 4:54 pm

This is the one place you’re allowed to sock puppet. You know the rules. Be nice or at least be funny.

12/29/2011

Open Thread

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:54 pm

Discuss what you like.

Traci Nobles: Weiner Proposed a Threesome . . . With Another Dude

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:57 pm

I just had a shower. Time for another:

“I’m not really talking about other chicks… How about with another guy?” Weiner asked Nobles.

“Hmmmm, haven’t done it before,” Nobles said.

“It can be hot,” Weiner replies.

“Are you turned on by other guys?” Nobles asked.

“Well it depends on the guy, but generally yes,” Weiner divulges.

Shudder.

Only Republicans Will Name Decent Justices

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:56 pm

And — pay attention — hardline conservatives sometimes name weak justices while milquetoast conservatives sometimes name strong constitutional conservatives.

Let’s start with the premise outlined in the title. Name me the last decent justice named by a Democrat. The answer is Byron White, named by President Kennedy nearly 40 years ago. JFK also cut taxes. Those were different times, folks.

Now, for the justices named by Republicans. I think we can agree that Ronald Reagan is our Gold Standard for a Republican president in recent times, whereas tax-raising George H.W. Bush is likely the weakest Republican of modern times.

And Reagan gave us Antonin Scalia and Robert Bork, solid nominees both.

But he also gave us Sandra Day O’Connor and (God help us) Anthony Kennedy. Bad and worse. (And yet still better than any Democrat appointee since Kennedy.) So having a solid conservative in office is no guarantee of uniformly solid justices.

Is a weak Republican a guarantee of weak judicial nominations? Well, the biggest Supreme Court disasters of recent times were David Souter (a George H.W. Bush pick (although you can thank John Sununu for that one) and John Paul Stevens (nominated by the never-elected Gerald Ford). So that would seem to support the idea that weak conservatives nominate terrible justices.

Except that the best Justice sitting on the Court is probably Clarence Thomas, and he was a George H.W. Bush appointee.

What have we learned from this brief examination of recent Supreme Court appointments? That having a Republican in office could mean disaster, whether he is solid or weak — while having a Democrat means certain disaster.

So look. I’d rather have a Reagan over a Pappy Bush any day. I’d rather have a Rick Perry over a Mitt Romney any day. But you can bitch and moan about Mitt Romney all you like, but if you think Obama’s justices would be better than Romney’s then you’re either exaggerating for effect, or you’re not to be taken seriously. I understand the backlash against Mitt. I really do. But to refuse to vote for him if he’s the nominee, and thereby surrendering to Obama, is in my view little different from raising your leg and pissing on the Constitution.

I saw a great quote on Instapundit yesterday from one of his readers:

You know, I just wish that my friends on the Right—whom all say that they detest the policies of Barack Obama and his supporters—would just soldier their way through this next election. I’m afraid they will sit it out, in a electoral fit of pique because the nominee isn’t conservative enough or is too conservative or whatever.

After we get this gang (and I use that word intentionally) out of the Oval Office, then, my friends on the Right can form their Third Party, or push a candidate that they feel is “conservative enough” and so forth.

2012 is too important. And sitting out the election, or carping about a particular candidate…well, it just makes Axelrod smile. And it smooths the path not toward “Four More Years,” but “Four Worse Years.”

That’s a very good point. I would just add that, if we surrender control of the Supreme Court to Democrat appointees, we are looking at far more than four bad years. We’re looking at decades of Constitution-shredding hell.

We can’t let this happen, folks. We can’t.

Yes, a conservative candidate is electable

Filed under: 2012 Election — Karl @ 9:07 am

[Posted by Karl]

Commentary’s Jonathan S. Tobin (tough competition for Jennifer Rubin as the media’s most shameless Mitt Romney shill) defends National Review’s anti-endorsement of Newt Gingrich against the critics:

 The latest to vent his spleen about this alleged betrayal of conservative principle is Jeffrey Lord who wrote in the American Spectator that the attack on Gingrich was akin to NR’s founder William F. Buckley blasting Barry Goldwater​ in 1964 or Ronald Reagan​ in 1980. His point was not just that any of the other conservatives still in the race was better than Romney but that Buckley’s magazine had become the moral equivalent of the old-line GOP establishment that its founder had spent his life battling.

But Lord’s anguish is misplaced. Newt Gingrich isn’t Ronald Reagan. Neither is Rick Santorum​, Michele Bachman​ [sic] or Rick Perry​. And if you really think any of them are worthy successors to Barry Goldwater, does anyone on the right believe another 1964-style wipeout that would mean four more years of President Barack Obama is a good idea?

A focus on winning in 2012 is what many conservatives think is wrong with NR’s editors and others who have come to grips with the fact that Romney is the Republicans’ best chance for victory next November. Lord, and others who agree with him are not really arguing that Gingrich should be president any more than they are making a serious case for Perry, Bachmann or Santorum. None of them have a ghost of a shot at beating Obama though all of them can make a much better case than Gingrich for representing a consistent conservative stance on the majority of the issues. Rather, Lord seems to be making the case that ideological purity is a higher value than electability.

What does Tobin have against strawmen that causes him to beat them so repeatedly?  His column makes most of the same errors John Hawkins made earlier this week in claiming Romney is unelectable.  Like Hawkins, Tobin likely exaggerates the impact of ideology on voter choices, ignoring the fundamentals.  The general consensus among political scientists is that in presidential elections, the dominant factor is the economy, with candidate ideology being a distant second. Indeed, the studies suggest that a moderate does 1% or 2% better.  The 1964 wipeout of Barry Goldwater is remarkably well-explained by the fundamentals of peace and prosperity that year.  Absent the most remarkable economic turnaround in American history, a 1964-magnitude loss would probably not be in the cards for any of the candidates Tobin mentions.

This is not to argue that only the fundamentals matter; in October, I would have placed the odds of Obama’s re-election at better than one-in-seven, and they are likely even better now.  Rather, the point is that people who fixate on electability at the expense of the fundamentals tend to lapse into foolish arguments.  They also tend to be unknowingly drenched in irony.  If you want to fixate on electability, ideology is part of the mix, but so is the very basic Dale Carnegie notion of making friends and influencing people.  The snide arrogance of many Romney supporters is every bit as annoying to others as the spoon-banging of True Conservatives claiming they will stay home in November if Romney is nominated.  The voices shouting the loudest on both sides about electability seem to have a shaky grasp on the concept.

–Karl

12/28/2011

If You Are Reading This Post, You Have Been Banned from Patterico

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:16 pm

OK, not really. In fact, the title above wasn’t even written by me. Just ignore it.

Um . . . I mean it it was written by me. I just didn’t mean to be talking about all of you.

The above fumbling and stuttering is my satiric attempt to mirror what the New York Times did to its subscribers today:

Did The New York Times just cancel home delivery of its newspaper to everyone, across the nation? An email apparently sent out to the entire user database appeared to suggest that. In fact, the Times even sent the email to people that don’t subscribe to the paper — a total of 8.6 million readers, rather than the 300 it intended to message, the company said.

“Dear home delivery subscriber, Our records indicate that you recently requested to cancel your home delivery subscription. Please keep in mind when your delivery service ends, you will no longer have unlimited access to NYTimes.com and our NYTimes apps. We do hope you’ll reconsider.”

Whose fault was it? Someone else’s! Uh, I mean, ours!

When former congressman Anthony Weiner’s embarrassing photos emerged in June, he promptly lied, dissembled, and did everything possible to cover up the story. The Times appears to have a similar strategy.

First the paper tweeted that users should simply ignore the email — like Weiner’s pictures, the email came from someone else.

“If you received an email today about canceling your NYT subscription, ignore it. It’s not from us.”

. . . .

After an hour of confusion, misinformation and mistakes, The New York Times’ corporate communication department offered a mea culpa. The email was, in fact, simply a mistake.

“An email was sent earlier today from The New York Times in error. This email should have been sent to a very small number of subscribers, but instead was sent to a vast distribution list made up of people who had previously provided their email address to The New York Times.”

“We regret this error and we regret our earlier communication.”

The New York Times‘s new motto: “Unable to Report Accurately about an Event That Occurred Right Under Our Nose.”

Rick Perry Changes His Mind on Abortion — Does This Really Matter?

Filed under: 2012 Election,Abortion — Patterico @ 12:07 pm

Via Hot Air, the lazy blogger’s gold mine of blogging material, comes news that Rick Perry has just changed his mind on abortion in the case of rape or incest. He’s against it:

Perry said the change came after seeing the “Gift of Life” film produced by former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. He told an audience of Iowans at Clark Electric Co-op in Osceola that he was moved by the story of a woman who introduced the film during a screening earlier this month in Des Moines.

“She said, ‘I am the product of rape.’ And she said ‘my life has worth,’” Perry said of his exchange with the woman. “It was a powerful moment.”…

[Pastor Joshua] Verwers said after the event that he was initially skeptical of Perry’s flip on the position but that the governor’s answer was “too perfect” and “sincere” to have come from anywhere but Perry’s own heart.

Although the natural tendency is to be skeptical, I think it is possible for people to change their minds on even important issues like this late in life. I can also see both sides of this difficult issue, having both met decent people who are the product of rape, and being acutely aware (mostly through my wife’s work) of people who are impregnated after a rape.

Ethically, the case for allowing the woman to choose after she is the victim of a violent crime is, to my way of thinking, clearly much stronger. Something very much akin to self-defense comes into play, and the prospect of the state denying a rape victim access to at least an early-term abortion will make many uncomfortable. On the other hand, I would like for people to have the chance to persuade even a rape victim to keep the baby. I don’t see where such pro-life measures should be prohibited — and they certainly have nothing to do with the Constitution.

Ultimately, Rick Perry’s personal opinion on abortion matters far less than the constitutional views of the justices he would appoint. A Rick Perry justice (or a Mitt Romney justice) would be far more likely to take a proper constitutionalist approach to such matters than, say, a justice appointed by Barack Obama.

CLIMBS ON SOAPBOX: If you care about the Constitution, always, always remember that virtually any Republican candidate will do better on Supreme Court appointments than Obama would.

If you don’t care about the Constitution, of course, then feel free to be petulant and stay home if you don’t get your way in the primaries.

CLIMBS DOWN FROM SOAPBOX . . . BUT KEEPS IT WITHIN REACH

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