Sunday, October 29, 2006

Follow the Money

This post comes from the Power Line blog and provides an interesting analysis of the upcoming mid-term elections.

        Senate races: What the money says

        Tradesports is the Internet site that brokers bets (or futures contracts) on just about everything, politics included. Donald Luskin has a good explanation of how the Tradesports futures contracts work in a column on the betting on the North Korean long-range missile test ("Tradesports' bad call").

        The Tradesports betting line introduces a reality principle that is lacking in, say, any given Star Tribune Minnesota Poll. At present, if I understand the betting line correctly, the odds of the GOP losing the House are roughly the same as the GOP retaining its majority in the Senate.

        What about individual races? From the perspective of the GOP candidate, I'll divide them into Favorites, Underdogs and Long Shots. As of this moment, here's what the money says (per the last traded futures contract) in the Senate races that have attracted most attention (ours and others'):


        George Allen, Virginia (72)
        Bob Corker, Tennessee (65)
        Jim Talent, Missouri (59)


        Tom Kean, New Jersey (37)
        Michael Steele, Maryland (30)
        Conrad Burns, Montana (25)

        Long Shots:

        Rick Santorum, Pennsylvania (12.7)
        Mike DeWine, Ohio (8.5)
        Mark Kennedy, Minnesota (7)

        The Tradesports betting line also places our favorite governor, Minnesota's extremely successful Tim Pawlenty, in my Underdog category (33), trailing Democratic challenger Mike Hatch. It is a line that indicates to me how strongly the headwinds are blowing against Republicans this year.


Saturday, October 28, 2006

Michael J. Fox and How the Media Slams Conservatives

I've been browsing through the news links at Google News, reading several articles / commentaries about the recent flap between Michael J. Fox and Rush Limbaugh. As many of you know, Fox has battled Parkinson's disease since the late 1990s and has recently begun campaigning in favor of candidates who support embryonic stem research. The line of reasoning goes like this: vote for the people who support embryonic stem cell research because it will lead to all sorts of cures.

Liberal voices have been quick to seize upon this issue and the coverage has been predictable. One example, with a few comments:

    Since Fox began speaking up in favor of candidates who support science over superstition, the television and film star who suffers from Parkinson's disease has been accused by Limbaugh of "exaggerating the effects of the disease" in campaign commercials in which he points out that Democratic candidates for the Congress and governorships in the battleground states of Missouri, Maryland, Illinois, Wisconsin and now Iowa favor a serious approach to stem-cell research while their Republican opponents do not. (John Nichols, The Nation: source).
There are several problems with this. Notice how Nichols distinguishes between candidates who "support science over superstition." What superstition is he talking about -- avoiding cracks so as to not break your mother's back? In other words, if you are a conservative person and have ethical problems with using embryonic stem cells in scientific research, then you are the equivalent of a modern-day caveman. How convenient -- label your opponent an idiot and avoid any substantative discussion.

In fact, many conservative opponents of embryonic stem cell research are not intellectual lightweights at all.

But there's more. Nichols contends that the Democratic candidates for office "favor a serious approach to stem-cell research while their Republican opponents do not." Really? Where have I been when the Republicans were doing stand-up jokes about embryonic stem cell research?

Of course, only those who favor embryonic stem research are taking the serious approach. Suggesting that the use of adult stem cells may actually be better scientific and more productive ... that's making light of the situation.

I wouldn't be surprised if Nichols also thought that Democratics heal faster and care more about sick people. Then again, maybe Republicans never get sick.

This is the type of discourse that doesn't serve either side very well. It certainly doesn't serve the people who live with the challenges of illness and disease.

Friday, October 27, 2006

California Voter Guide Weighs Ten Pounds

We received our official California Voter Guide in the mail and it has 192 pages! Needless to say, I was a bit disappointed by the lack of pictures but I was impressed by the extensive vocabularly of those who draft the propositions. This year's California ballot has 13 statewide initiatives, not to mention numerous local propositions. You can click here to find the PDF file in your favorite language.

Just in case you're bilingual, you can obtain a copy in any of the following languages.


Of course, it would be good politics if the propositions were written in short, concise language that the average person could understand. I have a theory -- a proposition creates a mile of bureaucracy for every page that it contains. That may explain the incentive for inflicting such tremendous verbiage on people.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

The Irony of Attacking Wal-Mart

Prior to moving to Georgia, we didn't shop at Wal-Mart very often. They had yet to infiltrate California. In our little town of Covington, Georgia, the main street in town was anchored by two stores: K-Mart and Wal-Mart. We soon found ourselves shopping at Wal-Mart three to five times a week.

But I digress (and don't get me started on the need for a Super Wal-Mart).

Lately it seems fashionable for liberals to publicly attack Wal-Mart as the evil empire out to destory humankind as we know it. It's true that Wal-Mart is a big conglomerate and not a touchy-feely mom and pop store. It's a big business and is run like a big business. Could it do things better? Absolutely.

But as I watch certain Democrats criticize Wal-Mart, I can't help but wonder how many of their constituents shop at Wal-Mart? Probably a good number of them. And why do they shop at Wal-Mart? Because it's convenient and affordable. In other words, they like it.

That's why I wonder about the strategy of attacking Wal-Mart. I know it will score points among those who prefer Nordstroms to Wal-Mart, but honestly, there are more of "us" than there are of "them." I would expect to see the attacks tone down once this reality sets in.

Then again, maybe Chuck Schumer does shop at Wal-Mart.

California May Buck the Odds

It looks like California will reelect a Republican governor while other states that are traditionally more conservative may toss a few Republicans aside. Of course, "true" Republicans would complain that Arnold is too liberal on social issues and that is why he will get reelected. And yes, it certainly doesn't hurt -- especially in California. It also doesn't hurt that the Democrats picked a candidate with all the charisma of a backyard lawn chair.

What will happen in other states? I would imagine that the Republicans will lose seats in both the House and the Senate, though I think they will retain control of both. It's possible that Santorum could lose in Pennsylvania, though I've watched a few of his debates on C-SPAN (it's a channel on your cable system) and wonder why it's even as close as it is. Santorum, though you may disagree with some of his views, is pretty sharp.

What 2006 will certainly do is shake things up for the 2008 presidential election. A number of potential candidates have been out campaigning and fundraising during this cycle. Expect to see some of those go the way of Warner when the results come in.

Which brings me back to California. I believe it is possible for a Republican presidential candidate to win the general election in California. Not necessarily probable, but possible. Maybe the future candidate can pick up a few tips from Arnold and pray the Democrats pick Phil Angelides for President.

Finally a Political Ad that Compares with Geico

I've been a big fan of Geico commercials for quite some time -- but not so much that I've actually switched my insurance. It's hard to beat the AAA discount when we take the family to SoupPlantation. At any rate, their recent ads featuring "real" people and celebrities interpreting for them are quite funny.

Most political ads seem to originate from the same two or three templates. Template one: Pick the worst picture of your opponent (the kind that either makes him look like an idiot or a pervert), slightly rotate it one way or the other, and make it black and white. Template two: use pull-outs that look like they came from a newspaper article, make a slamming noise when they appear, and rattle off three or four during thirty seconds.

Basically -- most political ads stink. They're cranked out so fast that all creativity gets squeezed out.

That's why I thought the recent "controversial" ad by the Republican National Committee against Harold Ford was quite funny. Here it is, free of commentary:

My two favorite parts are when the old guy says to let Canada handle North Korea because they're not doing anything any way and when the hunter offers to give up his guns.

It's about time politics produced a funny ad.

Adding More Noise to the Blogosphere

As if there wasn't enough noise ... here comes another man's ramblings. I'll post on life, faith, politics, and just stuff.