Friday, October 24, 2008

Favorability ratings

In case you haven't seen (Kos/Research 2000):

Perspective: credit default swaps

Time from March 2008 gives perspective on the ginormousnous of the credit default swap market: The CDS market exploded over the past decade to more than 45 trillion in mid-2007, according to the International Swaps and Derivatives Association. This is roughly twice the size of the U.S. stock market (which is valued at about $22 trillion and falling) and far exceeds the $7.1 trillion mortgage market and $4.4 trillion U.S. treasuries market, notes Harvey Miller, senior partner at Weil, Gotshal & Manges. "It could be another — I hate to use the expression — nail in the coffin," said Miller, when referring to how this troubled CDS market could impact the country's credit crisis.

Update: for further perspective, the combined world GDP is 65 trillion.

Charles Fried

Do any Republicans care what Charles Fried thinks? (I'm not familiar with him so don't know whether he's a big deal, but apparently he has been involved with McCain's campaign.) He has voted for Obama. The choice of Sarah Palin did the trick for him.

Well, that's different

Speaking of bombers (more specifically, speaking of terrorists and non-terrorists while wearing a very short skirt that would be inappropriate in most work places):


What's the meaning?

Taking up yoga

Should be one of the choices if your candidate loses. That's what I did the day after the 2004 election.

Word problem

If Billy Has Seven Bombs and Bernadine Plants Three, How Many Bombs Does Billy Have Left?


I would think that an honest answer to this, the most important question of this election, might clarify the thinking of an Undecided:

Who do you want answering that phone at 3 a.m.? A man who's been cramming on these issues for the last year, who's never had to make an executive decision affecting so much as a city, let alone the world? A foreign policy novice instinctively inclined to the flabbiest, most vaporous multilateralism (e.g., the Berlin Wall came down because of "a world that stands as one"), and who refers to the most deliberate act of war since Pearl Harbor as "the tragedy of 9/11," a term more appropriate for a bus accident?
Or do you want a man who is the most prepared, most knowledgeable, most serious foreign policy thinker in the United States Senate? A man who not only has the best instincts, but has the honor and the courage to, yes, put country first, as when he carried the lonely fight for the surge that turned Iraq from catastrophic defeat into achievable strategic victory?

I can hear Barry now . . .

"No, no, no. I said 'get in' their faces, not 'carve up' their faces. Sheesh."

Jeff G.

has suggestions for lunch.

TIPP toppiest ever

I've been calling them "Undecideds" but I notice that TIPP lists them as "Not Sure." I thought "undecided" was the traditional category for someone who wasn't committed one way or the other but maybe I'm wrong. I'm not smart enough to dig into "cross-tabs" and all that other stuff poll-nuts do; hell, I don't even look at the questions. But I wonder if there is a difference among polls or the particluar questions asked that would account for the large number of "Not Sures" in the TIPP poll compared to the smaller number of "Undecideds" in other polls.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Most accurate pollster in 2004:

McCain has cut into Obama's lead for a second day and is now just 1.1 points behind. The spread was 3.7 Wednesday and 6.0 Tuesday. The Republican is making headway with middle- and working- class voters, and has surged 10 points in two days among those earning between $30,000 and $75,000. He has also gone from an 11-point deļ¬cit to a 9-point lead among Catholics.

Undecideds are 11.6%.

TIPP top. Not.

Michael's TIPP poll finds McCain ahead of Obama amongst 18-24 year olds by 74-22. Maybe this poll has a flaw or two.

James Cromwell

Who woulda remembered that James Cromwell of Babe (Farmer Hoggett) and Star Trek (Dr. Zefram Cochrane) was Stretch Cunningham in Lear’s All in the Family?

Re: Heller

The article Stephanie cited contained this gem:

The New Republic in August, wrote that Heller’s failure to allow the political process to work out varying approaches to gun control that were suited to local conditions "was the mistake that the Supreme Court made when it nationalized abortion rights in Roe v. Wade."

Heller specifically stated that, like most rights, there are numerous restrictions that the political process may place on guns. After a litany of examples, the court went on to footnote: We identify these presumptively lawful regulatory measures as examples; our list does not purport to be exhaustive. (FN 26 on p. 55) Heller merely stated that the DC ban went too far.

[Update: Stephanie linked to make a different point.]

Activist justices

Making my point about how "activist" is in the eye of the beholder.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Robber Barons v. Moral Busybodies

One of Jonah Goldberg’s readers reminds me of one of my favorite quotes:

And then there's this from C.S. Lewis, via a reader:

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.

The Truth is out there

Actually, it's here.

Bingaman on the Fairness Doctrine

I take Senator Obama at his word but I do think he'll face real pressure to re-institute. The Bingaman audio here.

I for one do not want to go back to listening to "Garden Line" five afternoons a week. Speaking of Garden Line, would all the organic gardening shows have to give equal time to those who want to use artificial chemicals?

Barry's polling shows PA a toss-up??

"But much buzz today surrounds the apparently inadvertent leak of an internal poll by Barack Obama's campaign in Pennsylvania that supposedly showed the Democrat leading there by only 2 percentage points -- a much-slimmer margin than independent surveys have recorded for him and one that would make the race for the state a tossup.
An e-mail from a local Obama aide expressing concern about the internal poll's findings ended up in the queue of a radio talk show host in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. He, in turn, interviewed Sean Smith, the Obama communications director for Pennsylvania.
Their chat can be heard here; as the host notes after it's over, Smith doesn't dispute that the campaign's own polling gauged Pennsylvania a tossup." [Redstate]

Corporate Welfare Revolt

As a corporate welfare hater, you’ll probably be surprised to hear me support an Austin, Texas tax break for Simon Properties (a mega-property owner based in Indianapolis). Why is this group so special? They are not and I opposed the tax break initially.

But now Proposition 2 is on the ballot in two weeks which essentially says, “We gave you the tax break, you built your tony, high-brow shopping area (called the Domain), got ‘er all leased up making representations to your tenants about how much their tax escrow payments will be…and now we’re going to yank the promised tax break.”

It is called Prop 2 here in Austin. What a stinker. Keep Austin's Word.

Most accurate pollster in 2004*

shows Mac behind by 3.7 (down from 6) with 12.3% undecided. That, my friends, is victory. [Gateway Pundit]

* Final Certified Results Reveal TIPP as the Most Accurate Pollster of Election 2004An analysis of the presidential election's final certified results shows that TIPP's daily tracking polls proved to be the most accurate in terms of predicting the winner and his margin of victory.
Among the four national daily tracking polls, TIPP came closest to projecting Bush's actual margin of victory (2.1% projected vs. 2.5% actual).
TIPP also outperformed a field of 11 other national, non-tracking pre-election polls, coming within just four-tenths of a percentage point to predicting Bush’s actual margin of victory (2.1% projected vs. 2.5% actual).

Re: Dividing and conquering

On reaching out to fiscal conservatives, Steyn posts:

Or, if you like, they're [folks like Chris Buckley] "hoping" he'll "change", and break with what passes for his record - the most liberal in the Senate. Across the pond, my old pal Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, is also full of "hope":

He needs to stick up more vigorously for free trade, and we must hope that any ill-considered new taxes will be thwarted by Congress.

Ah, right. I think Barney Frank answered that one:

I think at this point, there needs to be a focus on an immediate increase in spending and I think this is a time when deficit fear has to take a second seat. I do think this is a time for a kind of very important dose of Keynesianism. I believe later on there should be tax increases. Speaking personally, I think there are a lot of very rich people out there whom we can tax at a point down the road and recover some of this money.

I could, maybe, stomach some higher taxes if they were dedicated to deficit decreases but not more spending for which my own president far too responsible for almost eight years.

Why i'm undecided

I have several reasons, some specific, some general. I'll go over them:

I would say that I lean more towards Obama in relation to Iraq/Afghanistan; on his statements regarding tax cuts for companies that don't off-shore jobs; repealing tax cuts on big oil companies; gay marriage; abortion rights.

I would say that I lean more towards McCain in relation to illegal immigration; his position on lower tax rates for 401k/IRA and when you have to take out money; his position on health care; his position on social security.

On more general reasons, I think that we need someone younger, fresher, and who can work with Congress. The complaint for many years is that DC gets nothing done. Congress is going to be run by the Democrats and if anything is going to get done, it will be with Obama as President, not McCain. I am concerned about the relative inexperience of Obama, but I believe he is intelligent and will surround himself with the same. I believe he won't have "yes-people" all around him and will actually listen to opinions that differ from his. I think that he will have a harder time staying away from the more liberal Democratic leaders. which is a concern. The Pelosi's, the Frank's, the Jackson-Lee's, the Watter's of the world scare me much more than Obama.

However, the independent nature of McCain is appealing to me. I do believe that he would at least try to involve both parties to find solutions. But, in the end, how will he get anything done? The Democratic majority in Congress will hate him and not do anything he wants, thus making an already do-nothing Congress even more-so. Some Republicans will also turn on him,, since he has turned his back on them. He can wave his veto pen all he wants, but until the President gets line-item veto power, it's useless. Congress will just attach all their spending crap to military bills and he'll have to sign them. He obviously understands the military more than Obama and these days, that is an asset. I like how he is against the Bush policies regarding torture. And while I know Obama is trying to paint him as a continuation of W, and in some cases I think that is true, in others I don't. He isn't W, he isn't Cheney. He is a hot-head and I'm not convinced he'll have people around him to reign him in. I question his judgement in selecting Palin - yes, the base loves her, but please don't insult our intelligence trying to convince us she is ready or capable of being President. She isn't. Biden, whether you agree with his politics or not, is more qualified.

I think that about lays out where I'm at. I'm not sure I can reconcile all these factors by the time I vote and even if I do, the odds are very good that I will vote for neither.

Oh, I forgot the last thing. As Scooter stated, to me these are 2 undesirable choices (3 if you count Hillary). That belief is more than likely the biggest reason I haven't decided.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


So much for the apolitical subtitle. I see that it's the slogan for the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, which gave money to...

wait for it......


Update: MacArthur Foundation is a client of Sidley Austin:

Re: Medical malpractice question

Meant to post this earlier.

Only context I have is the law firm. Knowing what I know, I'd go to another clinic/firm for the second opinion.

Accuracy of RCP average for Democratic Primary

I've seen that 7% number bandied about but can't find the work behind it.

Here's what I get:

Unless I've done something wrong, this tells us Obama polled on average 2.33 percent lower than he performed.

I've left out Michigan and Florida which were just too goofy to put any stock in the results. I also rounded the vote percentages for most of the states the nearest percentage, but that shouldn't matter much.

Here are RCP averages.

Update: That RCP link above doesn't show Alabama or Connecticut for some reason. But they are here and here, respectively.

Also, I revised the chart with percentages accurate to the tenth and ended up with an average error of 1.99 (i.e. Obama polled 1.99 percent lower than his results):


I was prompted by some caller to some radio show to wonder about how there could be any undecideds left this late in the least thinking undecideds.

Then I got an email this afternoon from one of the two named shareholders in my firm. He and his wife decided yesterday to vote for Senator Obama and would be sending out numerous emails about how to support the senator in the next two weeks. He emphasized this was personal and had nothing to do with the firm. The email stated I could get off this email list if I was undecided, was voting for McCain or just didn't want the clutter. I elected, rather cowardly, to just accept the clutter.

This shareholder is absolute hell to work with but is a wonderful person on a personal level. I helped him out on a real estate issue for his mother-in-law and he gave me a $500.00 driver as a reward. He screams bloody murder when he can't reach me by cell when I'm out of the office (I'm the last lawyer on the planet without one and he can pay for it if he wants me to have one).

He loathes illegal immigration as he watches his boyhood neighborhood deteriorate in N. Texas as the new inhabitants just let everything deteriorate.

He's as smart as anyone I've met.

He decided yesterday.

"Free" or Universal Healthcare

Whatever one thinks about Universal Healthcare or any of the plans floating around out there, it should never be completely free to the consumer. I use the term consumer to mean the average American, not someone so bereft of funds that no co-pay, however small, would be affordable.

Every year I try to do at least one or two cases pro bono. At the moment I'm doing a divorce for a woman who was judged worthy by an outfit called Volunteer Legal Services. We have been trying to schedule a meeting for a while to go over the final judgment.

At first she asked that I drive to meet her in Round Rock which would have me driving 30 minutes both ways. I declined but told her I could schedule the meeting for before or after work so that she wouldn't miss any work...even offered to come in on a Saturday or Sunday.

She didn't want to do that but said we could meet at 12:30 today at my office. At 1:00 she was still a no-show. I called her at 1:05 on her cell phone and she said she was lost. I asked if we should reschedule so she wouldn't be hurt at work. "No," she said, "I told them I'm taking a long lunch."

She hadn't thought to call me to tell me she'd be late.

She said she was on MoPac (the highway on which I office) going over the big metal bridge over the lake. Well, there is no big metal bridge over the lake on MoPac. I explained she was on the wrong highway and told her how to get to MoPac and then instructed her to call the receptionist to talk her in.

She finally showed at 1:20 and we had our meeting.

While too many doctors have made me wait far too long in waiting rooms, if their patients pay nothing, they'll get the same treatment I got today.

Fire-alarm pulling?

Ketchum could remember only one out-of-character incident.

"Someone pulled the fire alarm next to my door," she said. "We all were told there is an invisible dye that squirts onto your hand when you pull the alarm and you're not going to be able to hide. And Sarah looked at her hands, and said, 'Oh my God, look!' And she went and confessed."

Monday, October 20, 2008

Obama has the answer

for Scooter's evictee:


(1) Why should anyone believe Barry on taxes when he's broken the only promise he's had a chance to break (public financing)? (2) Do you really believe that if Pelosi and Reid pass a tax bill that differs from what Barry is now promising that he will veto it?

Scooter = Mr. Potter

That is what my receptionist jokingly called me last Thursday as I walked out of the office to oversee an eviction. For those not familiar, it was a reference to the bad guy in It's a Wonderful Life. Today I was Mr. Potter as I watched over an eviction of the B&B owner. The owner was substantially behind in rent but that did not make today any easier. Sometimes I really hate my job. An hour ago I was looking for the evictee's cat. I didn't find the kitty.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Re: Your party is evil

I've heard Michael say something like this and I agree, "Those like me on the right think those on the left are sincere and misguided." He may have even posted on the subject but I'm too lazy to search. His context comes from his own left-leaning positions of his younger days.

Having been a rightie since before I even knew what that meant, I don't have that context but I have many left-leaning friends.

But for a few nutjobs [and acknowledging we have those, too] I've never, ever thought they were evil.

I know, I know, he's just a character in a novel

But Bob Lee Swagger took out several bad guys in Night of Thunder with Scooter's favorite rifle round--the 6.8 mm Remington SPC.

Colin Powell P.S.

Here's a post-interview interview:

Colin Powell

says that making hay out of Obama's connection to Ayers is "demagoguery". (He also did a beautiful job of describing the narrowness that he sees in the Republican party these days.)