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Mon Mar 03, 2014 at 10:00 AM PST

SB 1062 and The Human Nature of Hate

by JetProvost

To appreciate the import of the veto of SB 1062, you need to a know a little bit about human nature.

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Those who oppose debt limit hostage talking should be grateful to Sen. Cruz this week.

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At the risk of feeding the troll at unskewedpolls.com and barackofraudo.com (both run by Dean Chambers) or legitimizing its claims of voter fraud which journalists are thoroughly debunking, let me add one more reason why the claim that voter fraud flipped the results of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia and Florida is absurd.  

If the claims of fraud are right, Obama would have won Nevada, Colorado, Michigan, Wisconsin and New Hampshire but lost Pennsylvania, Ohio and Virginia.  You don't have to be Nate Silver to know that the odds that Obama would win close swing states like Colorado, Nevada and Virginia, and at the same time lose a reliable Democratic state like Pennsylvania and other close swing states like Ohio and Virginia are very low.  That's just not a plausible electoral result.  If Obama is doing well enough to win swing states like New Hampshire and Nevada it's just absurd to think he would really lose a state like Pennsylvania.  Chambers' "map" belongs in the realm of unicorns and birtherism.

Moreover, for Chambers to be right, the polls, which were reasonably accurate nationwide, would have to be (for some unexplained reason) wrong for only those four states.  The whole thing is just nuts.

If you want to get nerdy, this comes down to Bayes theorem, which in very simple terms says that when judging the likelihood that something is true, we have to consider the evidence of its truth or falsity in the context of the baseline probability that that thing is true.  If you say the sky is purple, I should be very hesitant to agree based on your anecdotal evidence because I already know as an initial matter that the odds that the sky is purple are extremely extremely low.  

As applied the voter fraud claims, before we even consider Chambers' anecdotal (and highly suspect) evidence of voter fraud, consider it in the context that the map he is proposing is highly highly implausible.  As a result, there is very little evidence that should convince anyone (thinking clearly) that voter fraud really caused the outcome he claims since that outcome to so unlikely.  Yet, hope springs eternal.

To read this and earlier posts, visit my blog at http://rationalpersuasion.blogspot.com/.

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Mon Nov 19, 2012 at 07:11 PM PST

Earth to Rubio...

by JetProvost

I think people miss the point a little bit when they look at Rubio's response to the question about the age of the earth in the context of Iowa.  The real state to watch for with Rubio is New Hampshire.  Right now Huckabee is leading the polls Iowa.  Let that sink in a bit, Huckabee.  Rubio's better path to the nomination, should he choose to accept it, would be to follow the McCain strategy and do well in New Hampshire, where a more moderate, independent Republican can do well, and then dominate the Republican primaries in the large blue states.  For two cycles now Iowa has nominated an unelectable fundamentalist and has diminished its importance in the process.  Rubio is better off skipping it and scoring a decisive win in New Hampshire, where an ambiguous answer on creationism is more useful than the definitive response that would play well in Iowa.

Personally, when I heard Rubio's waffling answer I got the sense that the answer in his mind was no, but that he had to be non-committal to offending his base.  Young earth creationists, as a group, tend not to be shy about their belief, and if he really thought the earth was less than 10,000 years old I imagine he probably would have said so.  This isn't an issue like abortion or rape where saying your fundamentalist beliefs out loud can sink your candidacy.  A substantial portion of Americans, and nearly all Republicans are still skeptical of evolution.  I embrace evolution, but am skeptical that there is a real downside to him embracing biblical geology as a Republican candidate as long as he really believed it. The fact that he gave such a non-committal response to me suggests that he isn't a true fundamentalist at heart and/or he won't be making a genuine play in Iowa.

You can read this and earlier posts at my blog: http://rationalpersuasion.blogspot.com/

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Sun Nov 18, 2012 at 06:50 PM PST

Too Little, Too Late.

by JetProvost

Watching Bobby Jindal decry the anti-intellectual trend of the Republican party reminds of when Jeb Bush spoke up a few months ago to say that he was very disappointed in the lack of bipartisan cooperation between Obama and Congressional Republicans.  Yes, I guess it's better that they say these things, but where were they the last four years?  Jeb Bush's point about compromise and cooperation would actually have been useful during the debt ceiling and health care debates, and Jindal's new-found voice of reason would have been nice before he had signed bills to permit and fund the teaching of creationism in Louisiana.

Forgive my eye rolling, but if they really wanted to get serious, they should have said so back when it would have mattered.  That they lacked the courage to do so then and only do so now says enough about them.

To read this and earlier posts, visit my blog at http://rationalpersuasion.blogspot.com/.

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Isn't the whole "gifts" thing a perfect example of the sense of entitlement that has come over the American right.  When they explicitly vote for the candidate who will give them a tax cut, that's not a gift, it's a matter of patriotism.  When Democrats vote for candidates who propose programs they benefit from, it's a gift and bribery.  It's like the right thinks the largess they receive isn't a gift because they are entitled to it, but Democrats are entitled to nothing and therefore receive only "gifts."

To read this and earlier posts, visit my blog at http://rationalpersuasion.blogspot.com/.

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Beware of deceptive arguments about Citizens United!

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Romney's got the value of his business experience backwards.  I explain with a little help from Michael Jordan.

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Today was a momentus day for health care reform because one of the nation's foremost conservative judges, Larry Silberman, wrote an opinion upholding the Affordable Care Act.  Judge Silberman is the second prominent conservative judge to uphold the health care law, as Judge Sutton from the 6th Circuit also wrote an opinion upholding the health care law.  This may yet to be a turning point at which it becomes safe for more conservative and moderate judges, like Anthony Kennedy, to side with precedent and uphold the health care law.

Now, here is the political aspect.  You may recall that some time ago Obama decided to request the Supreme Court to review the health care law sooner rather than later, setting up a possible election year showdown in the Supreme Court.  Many interpreted this through a legal lens, assuming that it was done because Obama thought he would win if he went for it now or didn't want to delay implementation.  Perhaps, but I see it differently.

Obama made a very short-sighted decision when he ordered the Justice Department not to defend the "Defense of Marriage Act"  because it opened the door for future Presidents to follow this precedent and refuse to defend laws they do not agree with.  Should Obama lose, President Romney or Cain(!!!) would now be able to use Obama's example as an excuse to refuse to defend the law.  Obama had to go for it now because there was no guarantee the next President would actually defend the law!  That makes this recent decision all the more important, because it may give health care reform much needed momentum to win now before the next President has a chance to sabotage it.

You can read this and my earlier posts at my blog, Rational Persuasion.

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Yesterday the Supreme Court heard the case on whether passports for children born in the city of Jerusalem should just say "Jerusalem" as they do now, or say "Jerusalem, Israel" as an act of Congress requires.  Many on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian issue have been getting worked up about this (for obvious reasons), but this case actually has nothing to do with Israel or Palestine.  It's really about signing statements - yes, our old friend from the Bush administration, signing statements.

What basically happened is that the State Department has a policy of neutrality towards the status of Jerusalem when it comes to passports.  If you were born in Jerusalem, your passport simply said "Jersualem" as your place of birth.  Congress didn't like this policy and passed a law stating that passports should list people born in Jerusalem as having been born in "Jerusalem, Israel."  Bush (W) signed the bill but issued a signing statement that he would not comply with the passport provision because it encroached on the authority of the President in foreign affairs.

So here is the conflict:  If the court uphold the current rule and does not allow the passport to say "Jerusalem, Israel" it will essentially be saying that the President's signing statement overrides the act of Congress even though the act specifically contradicts the signing statement.  If Congress strikes down the neutrality provision and requires the passport to say "Jerusalem, Israel" it will be because it holds that the President may not ignore an act of Congress even in foreign affairs.  If you're a progressive who supports neutrality on Jerusalem, be careful what you wish for and take a look at who your allies are.  If you're like me and would like to see Congress reassert itself in foreign and military affairs then the neutrality provision is collateral damage, but well worth it.

You can read this and my earlier posts at my blog, Rational Persuasion

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Wed Jun 22, 2011 at 08:57 PM PDT

The Afghanistan Rope-a-Dope

by JetProvost

In attacking Obama on Libya have Republicans boxed themselves in on the Aghanistan debate?

Poll

Does the Republican's Libya position prevent them from attacking Obama on Afghanistan?

0%0 votes
7%1 votes
92%12 votes

| 13 votes | Vote | Results

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Tue Jun 21, 2011 at 10:24 PM PDT

The Bachmann Effect

by JetProvost

The entry of Michelle Bachmann into the Presidential race changes everything! Or does it?

Poll

Which scenario do you think is most likely?

21%12 votes
30%17 votes
32%18 votes
14%8 votes

| 55 votes | Vote | Results

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