Bonus photo of the day

Found this great set of Behind the Scenes photos from “Raiders of the Lost Ark” via Kottke.  This is pretty cool:

Raiders of the Lost Ark

Lucas, Spielberg and two impressive beards

Quick hits

1) Emily Bazelon is always excellent on false accusations of shaken-baby syndrome.  Good to see an innocent man go free.

2) EJ Dionne on the Democrats willingness to compromise and Republicans unwillingness to do so.

3) One of my favorite factoids nicely explained– red and blue were not Republican and Democratic until the 2000 election.

4) Enjoyed this John Dickerson piece on undecided voters in their own words.  Of course, your typical undecided voter is not emailing Slate about it.

5) Bill Maher points out that– not suprpisingly, Fox News doesn’t even understand what bias is:

Bill Maher slammed Fox News’s online “BIAS ALERT” in a blog post on Thursday, saying that liberal pundits having opinions doesn’t make them biased.

“[Each] day, in bright red letters, they post some example of what they think is ‘liberal bias.’ Except there’s only one small problem: it’s almost never an example of media bias. What they seem to have uncovered is that … grab hold of something … not everyone is a Republican,” Maher wrote. “The bit might as well be called ‘PEOPLE WHO SAY THINGS WE DON’T LIKE!’”

Maher took issue with Fox’s recent critiques of left-leaning Daily Beast blogger Andrew Sullivan, among others.

“Andrew Sullivan is not a fan of Mitt Romney. But how is this evidence of media bias? Andrew Sullivan is not a reporter. He’s a blogger and columnist. He’s not held to some standard where he’s not allowed to be partisan, or to express his personal views,” wrote Maher, who hosts HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher.”

And according to Maher, Fox doesn’t understand what media bias really means.

6) More often than not, Chris Cilizza just drives me nuts.  He’s returned Ohio to “toss-up” status because:

After reviewing all of the available public polling data as well as talking to operatives in both parties about the private polls they are privy to, we are convinced that Ohio is a 1-3 point race in President Obama’s favor at the moment.

That — coupled with the state’s electoral history and the absolute necessity for Romney to win the state if he wants to be president — leads us to move it back to the “tossup” category.

Seriously?!  The fact that its a must-win for Romney counts as much as the polls?  Also, considering anything less than a clear 5 point lead a toss-up sure seems like an odd standard to me.

7) We’ve hardly heard anything about the Supreme Court this election.  Jeffrey Rosen on why it matters.

8) Yes, all presidential candidates lie and distort.  But truly, Romney has taken it to never before seen levels.  Case in point– the ads about the auto industry he’s running in Ohio.  When caught in a lie Mitt’s strategy is just to lie harder.  NYT editorial takes him on.

9) Bazelon again on the Supreme Court oral arguments on whether warrantless searching of homes with drug-sniffing dogs in Constitutional.  Strikes me– and apparently most of the Justices– as obviously and blatantly unconstitutional.

10) Alec MacGillis on how Romney has largely gotten away with his secrecy on his taxes.

What’s a pundit to do?

Great, great post from Wonkette about the idiocy of so many pundits (especially the Politico types), wonderfully highlighted by this Silver tweet:

THIS ELECTION, YOU GUYS! It is … confusing? Like, some people say that Barack Obama will win re-election, whileothers say that his opponent, Mitt Romney, will prevail! WHO ARE WE TO TRUST? Normally, of course, we’d turn to the literally of hundreds of people who are employed full-time by various old- and new-media outlets to report on and offer opinions about politics, because they know things. But as a survey of these sages in the Politico reveals, they’re completely at sea as well! You must click the “MORE” clicky in order to read the single greatest quote in a Politico article of all time, which reveals the utter bankruptcy of the pundit class. Then you can spend the next six days doing something productive and rewarding with your life!

 

Here it is, ABC News’s highly compensated reporter Jon Karl, offering an extremely clear explanation of why his job should not exist:

I think more than any other race I’ve covered this is one where both sides genuinely seem to believe they’re going to win. That’s different … Given that, it’s hard for somebody covering the race to make a call. I’m completely confused. I have no idea who’s going to win. And I usually have a sense of who’s going to win.

Oh no, reporters aren’t getting “inside scoops” from triumphalist and/or fatalist campaign staffers. There’s literally no other way to tell! Like if only there were people … surveying Americans on how they plan to vote? And those surveys could be aggregated and analyzed, somehow?

Photo of the day

An In Focus set from the Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition.  There’s only 10 here– you should definitely check them all out.  This is the runner-up.  Wow:

Runner-up. This young male seemed blissfully unconcerned by the lightning and thunder rolling in across the Kalahari. Hannes Lochner, who was taking night shots in the South African part of the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, came across him stretched out beside the track. “He raised his head to stare at me a couple of times,” says Hannes, “but he wasn’t really interested in either me or the dramatic goings-on behind him.” Hannes worked fast, framing the lion against the illuminated night sky at the moment a bolt of lightning flashed to the ground. “Just after I took this picture,” he adds, “there were a few more lightning bolts and then everything went still and dark again.” (Hannes Lochner/Veolia Environnement Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2012)

 

States to gamble on

So, I was trying to make my own electoral college predictions for a contest or two, and after I did, I discovered that my final prediction perfectly matched Intrade’s state-by-state prediction market as of yesterday.  This is just an image, but if you click the link, you can hover over the states and see the current Intrade status.

=

Since I did this yesterday, Colorado has flipped to Obama on Intrade.  Anyway, in looking at this map, it’s pretty clear that some states should be a pretty strong buy.  For example, Illinois is only coming in at 90% Obama.  Sure, you only make $.10 on a dollar bet, but that’s pretty much a sure 10 cents.  There’s just no way Obama is losing Illinois. New Mexico at 93% Obama and Arizona at 92% Romney also strike me as decent bets.  Among the riskier bets, but with a high pay-off, is betting Obama in Florida.  Latest polls there basically show a dead-heat, but it’s at 2/3 Romney on Intrade.  If you doubt the competitiveness of Florida, I just read the Romney spent the whole day there yesterday.  Not a good sign for his campaign.

Before and after Sandy

Pretty amazing series of photos of places before and after Sandy hit.  Since my family used to go to Ocean City, MD every summer, I’ll go with this example:

2. The fishing pier in Ocean City, Md.

In 2010:

Ocean City Fishing Pier

(Laura Emmons/Salisbury Daily Times/AP)

Monday:

Ocean City Fishing Pier

(Alex Brandon/AP)

Voter shaming

Local story this week about people getting all upset about voter “shaming” efforts.  Despite the fact that whether or not you have voted is public record, lots of people are quite uncomfortable with other people actually using that record (note: political campaigns do this all the time, they usually just don’t tell you about it).  Anyway, from WRAL:

RALEIGH, N.C. — Two different groups – one of them linked to UNC Chapel Hill – are trying to convince voters around the state to talk to their neighbors about the importance of voting this year.

Both right-leaning group Americans for Limited Government and left-leaning group Southern Coalition for Social Justice are using peer pressure to push voters to the polls.

Both say their goal is to increase turnout, but their method has left some people feeling their privacy is being violated.

“What my neighbors do is none of my business, and what I do is none of their business,” said Christie McKenzie, a Wake County resident who recently received a mailer about whether her neighbors vote.

The political mailing lists her neighbors’ names and addresses and shows whether they voted in 2008 and 2010. It then urged her in bold letters to “do your civic duty – vote” and promised a follow-up report after the election.

Although such voting information is public record, McKenzie said publishing it feels like voter intimidation. And the promise of a follow-up report struck her as a threat.

Ummm, I can see her point, but McKenzie obviously has a low threshhold for what she considers a threat.  Anyway, I thought I recalled that there was some good social science on this.  You want to get somebody to do something?  Convince them everyone else is doing it.  When you get down to it, we’re a sheep species.  Anyway, here’s Sasha Issenberg in Slate yesterday:

The mailer’s design marks the latest twist on the political world’s adoption of what behavioral psychologists call “social pressure.”  Experiments have shown that letting citizens know that their voting histories are publicly available—and that as a result they can be monitored and judged based on how often they cast a ballot—is the most potent known tool for driving people to the polls.  The most effective version of this technique, in which researchers tried to shame non-voters by threatening to out them before their neighbors, was tested in Michigan in 2006 and documented in this paper by Don Green, Alan Gerber, and Chris Larimer.  Much of the focus in the GOTV research world in the last several years has focused on how to channel the psychological power of that threat into something more positive, while still letting non-voters know they’re being watched..

Short version: some voters may really not like it; but it works.

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