Game Change movie

So, a while back Mike from Canada strongly recommended I watch Game Change, the HBO movie about Sarah Palin’s vice-presidential candidacy.  I did a few weeks ago, but forgot to mention it until Mike reminded me.  Anyway, it was quite good– two thumbs up.  Julianne Moore’s performance as Palin was terrific and I loved Woody Harrellson has McCain campaign manager, Steve Schmidt– who basically couldn’t believe what he had unleashed on the American public.  Given that I had already read the book (absolutely epitomizes all that is bad about political journalism.  But entertaining), I didn’t really learn anything new, but it was nonetheless a very compelling dramatization of a fascinating story in American political history.  When you get a chance, it’s definitely worthy your time.

Photo of the day

Balloon-themed set from Big Picture:

A hot air balloon flies over the city of Godewaersvelde, northern France, as the sun rises on Sept. 30. (Philippe Huguen/AFP/Getty Images)

Need a laugh?

Here’s the latest electoral map predicted by right-wing site unskewedpolls.com

UnskewedPolls.com seems to have gone down for some users, but here's the LOL in one map.

Just wow.  Now, of course there’s people this crazy on the left, too.  The difference is that nobody takes them seriously!  Hope this guy enjoys his moment of fame.  Actually, I think it will be fascinating to see how he’s treated on the right once his methods and predictions are shown to be so fabulously wrong (and that will be the case even if Romney wins– he sure ain’t getting anywhere near 359).

Jobs– it’s good!

Ezra on the economic implications: “the economy is doing much better than we thought.”  Greg Sargent on the political “The last land mine in Obama’s path is defused.”  Sargent:

What these numbers really mean is that the last remaining catastrophe that could have derailed Obama’s reelection effort didn’t happen.

Despite all the ridiculous hyping of this one metric in the political media, the monthly jobs number would have had to be very bad, say below 50,000 or negative (or very good, say 200,000 or above) to meaningfully change the race. But a disastrously bad number hasalways been a real possibility, and it really could have undermined the fundamentals that narrowly favor Obama. Indeed, the possibility of an awful jobs report, along with trouble in Iran or a downturn in Europe, have long haunted Obama advisers as “externals” waiting to suddenly upend the carefully plotted course towards a second term.

Rove and the polls

So, I was on twitter and it recommended I follow Karl Rove, so I checked out his latest tweets and got this analysis which tells us that Romney’s going to win based on the Gallup poll (where he’s +5).

If only there were some websites out there that aggregated across multiple national polls– or maybe even considered state-level polls– to help poor Karl with his analysis.  It’s one thing to use the Gallup historically, as Rove days, when it was pretty much the only outfit with lots of polling data, but to pretend that all those other polls don’t exist now (seemingly common on the right these days), is just extraordinarily mendacious.

Deadspin on Nate Silver

This is great.  Just read it

Scarborough’s comments illustrate the central and most pernicious bias in political media: not toward one candidate or another, but toward a toss-up. Forecasters like Silver and Wang strive for precision in addition to accuracy. If accuracy is how close the average dart is to the bullseye, precision is how close each dart was to the others. We don’t yet know whether they’ve been accurate, but we can already safely say that they’ve been precise, as their predictions heading into November are essentially the same as they were months ago.

The political media hate precision: No one tunes in to a boring horse race. The volatility of day-to-day polling allows them to explain how the contest (in which, till recently, no actual votes had yet been cast) has been lost and won and lost again with each news cycle—an endless series of decisive revelations and foundational truths about the candidates or the public. If the narrative had followed Silver’s and Wang’s graphs, there would have been little to no hubbub over Bain’s outsourcing, “You didn’t build that,” the 47 percent, or the first debate. And what fun would that be? Both the Romney and Obama camps are happy to play into the toss-up narrative, as Obama needs his presumed majority to actually go to the polls on election day, and Romney wants to give his base confidence and hope. It’s the rare thing that everyone can agree on this year. (That and coal. Everybody fucking loves coal.)

The baseless criticisms also illustrate how many political pundits proudly display their quantitative ignorance…

Just like their colleagues in the sports section, the political pundits see the wrong kind of uncertainty in Nate Silver. They associate statistics with mathematical proof, as if a confidence interval were the same thing as the Pythagorean Theorem. Silver isn’t more sure of himself than his detractors, but he’s more rigorous about demonstrating his uncertainty. He’s bad news for the worst members of the punditry, who obscure the truth so their own ignorance looks better by comparison and who make their money on the margin of uncertainty, too.

The Bishops

Damn would I love to see the IRS remove the tax-exempt status for the Catholic Church.  There is absolutely no doubt that this bishop is clearly advocating for a particular political candidate (the idea that one should have to use the words “vote for” or “vote against” is beyond ludicrous).  From the Post:

A number of Roman Catholic bishops are making forceful last-minute appeals to their flock to vote on Election Day, and their exhortations are increasingly sounding like calls to support Republican challenger Mitt Romney over President Obama.

The most recent example: a letter from Illinois Bishop Daniel Jenky accusing the administration of an unprecedented “assault upon our religious freedom” and implying that Catholics who pull the lever for Democrats who support abortion rights are like those who condemned Jesus to death.

“Since the foundation of the American Republic and the adoption of the Bill of Rights, I do not think there has ever been a time more threatening to our religious liberty than the present,” Jenky writes in the letter, which he ordered priests in his Peoria diocese to read at all Masses on Sunday (Nov. 4).

In the letter, Jenky blames Obama and the Democratic majority in the Senate for trampling on the Catholic Church’s rights and moral convictions by requiring health insurers to provide contraception coverage. Jenky also compares abortion rights supporters to the Jewish crowd in Jerusalem that pledged loyalty to the Roman Empire and demanded that Pontius Pilate crucify Jesus.

“For those who hope for salvation, no political loyalty can ever take precedence over loyalty to the Lord Jesus Christ and to his Gospel of Life,” Jenky writes.

Jenky’s broadside is especially powerful and — to his critics — partisan. But it is not an isolated case.

On Thursday, the bishops of Pennsylvania — a crucial battleground state where most Catholics are currently supporting Obama — released a letter to voters declaring that policies on contraception, abortion and gay rights backed by the White House and Democrats meant the nation was “losing its soul by little steps.”

Oh, there’s something losing its sole here by little steps.  The hierarchy of the Catholic Church.  Heck, just for arguments sake, I’ll give ‘em abortion, but the idea that we should be more concerned about banning contraception and preventing gays from marrying each other takes precedence over how we care for poor people is just completely offensive.  I only remember Jesus talking about one of these topics.  And he talked about it a lot.

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