Patterico's Pontifications


I Don’t Have a Burning Preference for McCain VP, but I Think the Choice of Biden Makes Romney the Most Beneficial Pick

Filed under: 2008 Election,Current Events,Politics — WLS @ 11:40 pm

[Posted by WLS]

By not playing gender or geographical politics with his selection, Obama has given McCain the opportunity to do so.

If you look at the election map, it pretty much looks like the finish of the Bush-Kerry race, with only a couple of potential switches.

But, if McCain picks Romney, I think he cements two states that will make it very difficult for Obama to find a path to 270.  I think Romney brings McCain Nevada without question, and very likely brings him Michigan.

Nevada, with an increasing minority population and very powerful union presence, is a Bush state that the Dems see as ripe for Obama to pick off.  But Romney probably solidifies the state for McCain because 7% of the Nevada population is Mormon.  It has the 5th highest % of Mormons among all the states.  Mormons tend to vote GOP anyway, but having Romney on the ticket will drive up turnout.

Romney’s long family ties to Michigan, combined with the sad state of the Michigan economy which is presided over by Dems at all levels of state Gov’t, AND the fact that Obama/Biden may be one of the least gun-friendly tickets in recent history — and the NRA is strong in Michigan — all work to move Michigan over to McCain’s column.  

If McCain takes Nevada and Michigan, he can lost Ohio and Pennsylvania and still win.  He can lose Virginia and Pennsylvania and still win.  

Obama would have to win Virginia, Ohio and Pennsylvania to win — and if he wins those three, he’ll probably be winning by more than a razor thin margin.  

So, if I were McCain, I’d play geographic politics with the pick, and put Obama behind the electoral 8 Ball.

NY Times Compares Obama’s and Biden’s Votes

Filed under: 2008 Election,Terrorism — DRJ @ 11:25 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

The New York Times The Caucus reports Obama and Biden voted together 91% of the time but they also differed on 79 votes. Follow this link to examine the differences. Here’s three that jumped out at me:

S. 4: Motion to Table Obama Amdt. No. 338
(March 6, 2007)

“To require consideration of high-risk qualifying criteria in allocating funds under the State Homeland Security Grant Program.”

Agreed to, 58-41
Obama voted No; Biden voted Yes.

S. 2020: Motion to Waive CBA Re: Schumer Amdt. No. 2635
(November 17, 2005)

“To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to impose a temporary windfall profit tax on crude oil and to use the proceeds of the tax collected to provide a nonrefundable tax credit of $100 for every personal exemption claimed for taxable years beginning in 2005.”

Rejected, 33-65
Obama voted Yes; Biden voted No.

S. 256 Motion To Invoke Cloture On Bill S. 256
(March 8, 2005)

“Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005”

Agreed to, 69-31
Obama voted No; Biden voted Yes.

Biden has been criticized by some for his support of the Bankruptcy Act that is regarded as beneficial for credit card companies, many of which are based in Biden’s home state of Delaware.


Liveblogging the Beginning of the Toad the Wet Sprocket Concert

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:03 pm

We’re in concert heaven. Last night was an all-ages Gin Blossoms show, which Lauren and Matthew loved. Tonight it’s Toad the Wet Sprocket, which starts any moment.

Obama-Biden are Clintonesque

Filed under: 2008 Election,Terrorism — DRJ @ 9:02 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Obama and Biden sounded positively Clintonesque in Springfield yesterday as they talked about: Fighting for jobs and health care. Working-class values. Experience.

Some Clinton supporters are happy with what they hear even though it’s not Clinton saying it:

“Susan Castner, a Clinton delegate from Portland, Ore., said she sees some of Clinton’s qualities in Biden. She likes his experience, especially on foreign policy.

“It really kind of humanizes Barack Obama,” Castner said. “He has this air of perfection, and Joe Biden is more down to earth.”

“I love his passion,” Castner said of Biden. “I like him a lot.”

Of course, some aren’t:

“It’s a total diss to Sen. Clinton, in my opinion,” said Diane Mantouvalos, co-founder of the Just Say No Deal Coalition. “It just speaks volumes about how Barack Obama doesn’t stand for anything.”

Mantouvalos, of Miami, is part of an Internet movement of Clinton supporters who refuse to back Obama, regardless of pleas from Clinton herself. Mantouvalos is in Denver, where the Democratic National Convention is scheduled to start Monday, stoking anti-Obama sentiment.

She said the selection of a Washington insider undermines Obama’s call for change.

“It was a desperate move,” Mantouvalos said.”

If I were Hillary Clinton (an amusing thought), it would be hard to lose to someone as new and inexperienced as Barack Obama but it would add insult to injury to see him appropriate my talking points so quickly. That, coupled with the belief that the Obama campaign helped portray Bill Clinton as a racist, has to leave a sour taste in the Clintons’ mouths.

At some point [EDIT: maybe as soon as the Democratic convention], the Clintons will do everything they can to hurt Obama’s election chances – including leaking damaging information to the McCain campaign, the media or trusted intermediaries. Maybe all of the above.


The Answers to the Fun Statistics Question

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:53 pm

Yesterday I posed the following problem:

50 standard coins are thrown onto the floor. Before the toss, each had an equal chance of coming up heads or tails. Before you see how they came up, all 50 coins are covered up.

Tom goes and uncovers 25 of them. All are heads.

Joe offers to give you $10 for every remaining coin that came up tails, if you will give him $12 for every remaining coin that came up heads.

1) Do you accept Joe’s offer?

2) Is there any question you would like to ask Tom before you decide?

Here are my answers:

1) It depends on the answer to #2.

2) Yes. I would ask Tom if he knew the coins he uncovered were heads before he uncovered them.

If Tom knew the coins would be heads, then we’re in a “Monty Hall” situation. He has uncovered 25 coins on a non-random basis, which gives us extra (and non-random) knowledge about the remaining coins.

If he didn’t, we’re in a “Gambler’s Fallacy” situation. If he removes coins on a random basis, then he has told us nothing new about the ones that remain.

It’s an interesting problem, and there’s no shame in getting it wrong. It fooled me a while back.

If we didn’t know which situation we had — and if we knew the game wasn’t rigged by dishonest people — we would have to assume we’re in the Monty Hall situation, since the odds against the first 25 coins randomly coming up heads are astronomical.

P.S. Here is a fun follow-up question. What if Tom didn’t know whether he would be uncovering heads, but he decided in advance to throw out every situation in which he didn’t uncover 25 heads?

(That’s a stipulation that wasn’t given in the original problem.)

In such a case, is there still prior knowledge, just arrived at in a different way, making it a Monty Hall situation?

Or is it a Gambler’s Fallacy situation because of the lack of knowledge?

Don’t ask me. Xrlq tells me that my intuitive answer is wrong, and I’m not inclined to argue with him. So debate it out.

“Religion is Detrimental to the Progress of Society”

Filed under: Miscellaneous — DRJ @ 5:49 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

So says Bill Maher in his new documentary Religulous:

“Directed by Larry Charles, the man who put “Borat” together so skillfully, “Religulous” is blatant about Maher’s feelings: religion is bad. All religions are bad. They are ruining everything.”

Maher mocks Jews, Christians, Muslims, Catholics, Mormons, and Scientologists so it’s equal-opportunity religion bashing, although I’m not sure how many movie-goers think the world’s problems will be solved by getting rid of religion.


Why Obama May Have Picked Biden

Filed under: 2008 Election — DRJ @ 4:58 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

The conventional wisdom is that Barack Obama selected Joe Biden for his experience, especially in foreign policy. He might also have selected him for his age to counteract any argument regarding Obama’s comparative youth.

I agree with those views but I think there is more. Why would Obama choose the only person – other than Hillary, who I doubt Obama ever seriously considered – that has consistently said experience matters? Joe Biden has been saying experience matters for a long time as evidenced by this Biden ad from 20 years ago:

“The White House isn’t a place to learn how to deal with international crisis, the balance of power… the economic future of the next generation,” the narrator of Biden’s 1988 ad for the Democratic nomination said. “The president has got to know the territory.”

This criticism has already been used by the GOP to discredit Obama and will be used again. However, what makes Biden desirable despite these statements are his background and family values.

David Brooks recently recounted how Biden’s father had been wealthy but lost his fortune and spent the rest of his life as a proud member of the working class. Brooks’ stories suggest Biden may know what it’s like to feel like a second-class citizen, and if so that’s something Obama probably identifies with.

In addition, Biden has a compelling story. Biden was teased as a child for stuttering but overcame it, went to law school, and helped other stutterers. He suffered a life-threatening brain aneurysm in 1988. And just before Biden began his Senate career at age 29, his wife and daughter were killed in a car accident and he was left to raise two small boys. [EDIT: Biden’s sons were critically injured in the accident and Biden took his Senatorial oath of office in his son’s hospital room.] Biden commuted each day between Washington and Wilmington instead of uprooting his sons. Five years after his wife’s death, Biden remarried and has been married to Jill Jacobs Biden for 30 years. They have a daughter Ashley and Biden has 4 granddaughters.

George W. Bush ran for President in 2000 on the theme of compassionate conservatism. This approach appealed to conservatives but also to moderates and blue-collar Democrats who agree with conservative family values but worry that conservative policies aren’t compassionate. Bush co-opted the Democratic message of compassion but he didn’t have to show his policies were more compassionate than Democratic policies. He only had to show that he was compassionate enough.

I think Barack Obama plans to run George Bush’s campaign except he knows that, as a Democrat, voters believe he is compassionate and ‘feels their pain.’ His goal is to emphasize family values and co-opt that as a GOP issue.

The Obama campaign has repeatedly emphasized Obama’s commitment to Michelle and their daughters and Biden’s story confirms and strengthens that message, especially when compared to the story of John McCain’s first marriage. Obama-Biden will promote family values to convince moderate Americans they are good enough on family values to deserve their votes:

“Barack Obama introduced Sen. Joe Biden Saturday as his vice presidential running mate, positioning the Senate’s fifth-most-senior member as a “rare mix” of working-class roots, foreign policy experience and compelling biography.”

We should hear a lot about family values in this campaign, only this time it will be from the Democrats.


Blogging Note

Filed under: Blogging Matters,War — DRJ @ 3:21 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

I believe Patterico upgraded the WordPress software and there are a few glitches. The spam filter is acting up, the comment preview isn’t working, and Patterico turned into Alex for one post.

I’m sure this will be smoothed out soon. I don’t handle the updates – it’s way above my pay grade! – but I know when they occur and it’s not uncommon for there to be glitches. I also know that Patterico spends more time than we realize making this work for us. So even when you think he’s not here, he is.


Obama Nation; Obama World

Filed under: 2008 Election — DRJ @ 2:30 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

If you enjoy Mike K’s comments as I do, then you will also enjoy his reviews at His most recent review covers Jerome Corsi’s The Obama Nation: Leftist Politics and the Cult of Personality.

Corsi’s book deals with Obama’s parents and his formative years as well as his years in Chicago. The Chicago portion of Mike K’s review is especially interesting since we should hear more about those years between now and the election. So while I recommend you read all of Mike K’s review, I’ll limit my discussion to this excerpt regarding Barack Obama’s parents:

“Corsi does delve into some areas that are interesting and were new to me. I vaguely knew the story of Obama’s mother and her two marriages to foreign students and “men of color.” Corsi goes into much more detail, albeit with a few minor errors in facts pointed out with high dudgeon by the Obama people. He tells the story of her childhood where she grew up on Mercer Island Washington, a wealthy enclave in Seattle. She did not want to move to Hawaii but her father was seeking a new job and she had graduated from high school. She was described as a bit of a radical in high school and she followed an unconventional course in Hawaii and later in Indonesia. This story is interesting and well told by Corsi no matter the quibbles by the Obama people. His discussion of Obama’s involvement in Kenyan politics is a matter of concern and I had been unaware of this part of the Obama story.”

This portion reminds me of something I read earlier at Barack Obama’s Senate website. Obama visited Kenya in August 2006 in his second year as a U.S. Senator, and he met many Kenyans including his youngest half-brother George Hussein Onyango Obama and other relatives. Barack and George have the same father but different mothers. records that Barack’s parents divorced in 1962 and his mother remarried in 1967. Barack Obama’s father died in 1982, 6 months after George was born, leaving 3 wives, 6 sons, and 1 daughter.

George Obama’s story was recently chronicled in the Italian edition of Vanity Fair (via ABC News) as well as in the UK Telegraph here and here. The Telegraph reports that George Obama is living in a shanty owned by Barack Obama’s older sister (George’s aunt) in Nairobi’s Huruma slum, “one of the more violent areas of the city.” George Obama was portrayed as a former recluse who drifted for many years but is now studying to be a mechanic. George credited Barack Obama’s book Dreams of My Father with helping him “understand my past and my family.”

This press release from Obama’s Senate office describes his 2006 reception in Kenya as not unlike the celebrity welcome he received on his recent European tour. Obama’s message was a mixture of toughness and hope:

“During his speech on Monday, he laid out a tough prescription for Africa’s ills, calling for government cutbacks, more openness and less ethnic politics.

Kenya is one of the more developed countries in sub-Saharan Africa and one of the closest to the West, but it is consistently ranked by international organizations as one of the most corrupt. Mr. Obama said this corroded its ability to attract investment, fight terrorism and provide security for its own people.

Most of all, he told Kenyans to stop complaining about the injustices of the colonial past and to accept responsibility. “It’s more than just history and outside influence that explain why Kenya is lagging behind,” he said.

He ended by telling the crowd, “I want you all to know that as your ally, your friend and your brother, I will be there in every way I can.”

Many in the audience left in high spirits. “He’s inspiring,” said Miriam Musonye, a literature professor. “He really seems to believe what he says.”

People all over the world believe, or want to believe, in Barack Obama.


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