Photo of the day

Let’s go with a late photo of the day today.  A very cool gallery of synchronized swimming photos in Behold:


Paul Schlemmer

Laughter as a quote

So I talked to a reporter friend the other day about the ads Americans for Prosperity is running against Kay Hagan.  I know they would put themselves in legal jeopardy by actually admitting that they are trying to influence the Senate election, but it is still just absurd to hear them say they are only about educating the public.  Binker read me the quote from AFP and I just laughed and then said, “feel free to quote me as laughing out loud.”  And:

The ads are issue advocacy, Bryson said, designed to inform the public about policy, not affect election outcomes.

“Even-numbered years are a very good time to bring pressure on public officials,” he said. “We are trying to hold her (Hagan) accountable on what we think is a bad decision on her part.”

Steve Greene, a professor of political science at North Carolina State University, laughed out loud at the assertion the AFP ad wasn’t meant to influence a campaign.

“They would probably laugh out loud themselves if they didn’t have to say that legally,” Greene said. “It’s preposterous.”

Preposterous, indeed.  And, okay, I’m not quite as expert on election as I should be, but I believe we have the Supreme Court to thank for this travesty.  I don’t have that big a problem with AFP trying to influence elections (though, I do think we need a much more sensible regulation regime), I have a very big problem with the Supreme Court basically requiring everybody to go through an absurdly silly game of pretending they’re not.

Useless polling?

Okay, Hillary has a huge lead going into 2016 and the polls confirm this.  Slate:

The Washington Post and ABC News this morning bring us an early look at the leader board for the 2016 presidential nominations. The fact that Hillary Clinton is the front-runner for the Democrats will surprise absolutely no one—but the sheer size of her lead is something to behold: 61 points.

The former secretary of state holds a staggering 6 to 1 lead over her nearest rival, Joe Biden, in the survey. To put that in perspective, as the Fix helpfully does, that makes Clinton the “single biggest frontrunner for a Democratic presidential nomination in the history of the poll.” Her 73-12 lead over Biden will only add another data point to the Beltway consensus that the nomination is Clinton’s to lose—even if few people know how fleeting an early primary lead can be like Hillary. (The same WaPo/ABC polling outfit found Clinton with a 22-point lead in early primary polling back in 2006, and we all know how that turned out.)

Hillary does have a huge advantage, but the fact that she’s up in the polls is the least of it.  Hans Noel, co-author of The Party Decides, put it great in his FB status:

Hillary Clinton now has a historically massive lead in something that has historically not mattered that much.

Map of the day

This is so awesome– a map of how much snow it takes to close schools for every county in the US.

Big version here.  More info here.

Here in NC we just had snow day #3 for 2″ on Tuesday night.  We also lost Tuesday even thought the snow didn’t come until evening because the forecasters thought it was going to come in the afternoon.  If the kids aren’t back in school tomorrow, my wife will go nuts :-).

Pew on inequality

Great Pew report on public opinion and inequality.  I love that it asks a number of questions that get to the heart of the debate.  E.g.,

Why are Some People Poor and Others Rich?

Unfortunately, they don’t have a table breaking that down by PID, but I think we can all guess how it would look.  Also quite interesting is this trendline that shows Americans have less belief/faith in the value of hard work (and I would argue rightly so):

Does Hard Work Lead to Success?

Actually, though, I think genuine hard work and determination will still work for most anybody in America.  The difference is that medium work and medium determination will take you really far if you are born upper-middle class and take you nowhere if you are born in an impoverished inner city.  The slackers that I grew up with are all doing quite well (judging by Facebook).  Had these same individuals grown up in a poor rural or inner city area I’m convinced the results would be quite different.  The truth is not enough people really have an innate great work ethic and determination.  And even if you have inborn inclinations in that direction, it’s easy to see how that can be beaten out of you in an environment with indifferent parenting, an indifferent education system, and endemic poverty in your community.

Finally, I think it is encouraging that on a basic level most Americans– including most Republicans– think there is a non-trivial role for government in reducing poverty:

More Republicans, Independents Favor Gov’t Action on Poverty than Inequality

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