If you want to do more than vote in an election, especially if you are an American, then read this: THIS ELECTION IS FREAKING ME OUT, WHAT CAN I DO!? (An Introduction to Field Organizing). Obviously this is geared towards Hillary Clinton supporters for president, but read it regardless of you who you plan to vote for and at what level. It should help you get to the point of at least knowing the right questions to ask and where you might go next to get more involved.
Voting is important, but there is much more to democracy than that. If you step up, your involvement will make a difference, regardless of your role. Good for you for taking that next step.
This piece by Nate Silver, How I Acted Like A Pundit And Screwed Up On Donald Trump in FiveThirtyEight, is ostensibly about how he messed up in his predictions on the rise of Donald Trump. What I think is worth reading is how he goes about his work and what he learned from his mistakes. Specifically, it’s a great study on how important models are and how a good model works and what it can tell us.
Related, Paul Krugman talks about his model here: Economics and Self-Awareness in The New York Times. Like Silver, he uses models both to understand and predict. Obviously they are modelling different things, but in both cases good models are the basis of their thinking and the work they do.
It’s likely too much to ask now, but eventually anyone doing analysis and making predictions should have to disclose the models they are basing their decisions upon. The opinions of anyone not having such models are likely not worth much.
..is to follow this, from Bloomberg: Who’s Winning the Presidential Delegate Count?
You can still read the news and follow along, state by state, but what really matters more and more is the delegate count.
One thing that surprised me: right now, Ted Cruz is alot closer to Donald Trump than I imagined. Obviously there is a way to go still, but he is doing well. Will Cruz win? I think the odds are against him, but right now they are not insurmountable.
As for the other side, I believe Hillary Clinton is going to win, regardless of the Michigan surprise showing of Bernie Sanders. Sanders is performing better than many imagined, but she has a big lead in delegates and that will only get larger as we go along.
There’s two ways to tell who will be the next president of the United States.
- Listen to the pundits: The Most Likely Next President Is Hillary Clinton – Bloomberg Politics
- Follow the betters: 2016 Presidential Election – Next President bet | betfair.com
In this case, at this moment, they are both in agreement: Hillary Clinton will be the next president of the United States. Now, the election is so very far away, anything can happen, a week is a long time in politics, blah blah blah, but right now it is hers to lose.
If you ask me, ignore the pundits and follow the betters: the latter are rarely wrong. Read the pundits if you want to know why she is winning.
While I knew things were rough in Detroit, this story, Volume of abandoned homes ‘absolutely terrifying’ (from DetroitNews.com), gives you a context of just how incredibly bad it is. Two take aways from that story. First, this statistic:
Since 2005, more than 1-in-3 Detroit properties have been foreclosed because of mortgage defaults or unpaid taxes
Two, this map of foreclosures:
The situation is terrible, but the story is worth reading and the visuals (e.g. a bigger view of that map) really illustrate the damage. Worth reading, especially if you have recently read some pieces, as I have, of good news coming out of Detroit.
Check out this map:
And then read this piece by a very realistic US Republican on the upcoming US presidential election: A reality-check on the 2014 results
If you are a fan of Hillary Clinton* then it is great news. If you are a supporter of anyone else, you will see why it is going to be very difficult for anyone from the GOP to become president in 2016.
But don’t take my word for it: read the article. Bookmark it until next year. It’s very likely going to be true, regardless of the thousands of articles and millions of words that will be written between now and election day.
(* Yes, in theory, Bernie Sanders could be the nominee. In practice, I think it is very unlikely.)
This Vox piece on how Obama does diplomacy is good. While it focuses on Iran, it’s a much broader and more thoughtful analysis of how Obama approaches foreign affairs. Key quote:
Obama’s “undoctrine” starts from the position that there is no need to find a universal foreign policy framework. It’s enough to find specific wins, he believes, and minimize losses.
In his view, foreign policy isn’t a matter of showing strength or trying to make sure that every US action furthers its interests around the entire world. It’s a moneyball approach to foreign affairs: Don’t focus on playing a beautiful game, focus on racking up points at the lowest possible cost. To Obama, that’s how you win.
Obama plays to win, so this shouldn’t surprise people.
A good Vox piece.
Vox has a good piece on the mistake that Obama recently made (“Randomgate”) and how the resulting follow on stories about that mistake illustrates why we can’t have interesting politicians. Their conclusion?
Long-term, the problem here isn’t just news consumers find themselves listening to bullshit gaffe stories. It’s that politicians learn the same lessons over and over again: unscripted moments are dangerous and generally to be avoided. Don’t give interviews and don’t stray from talking points.
The media will bemoan lack of access and robotic, scripted answers. But it will also punish deviations from the script. And it will do so in the most trivial ways. No minds were changed during Randomgate and nobody learned anything. A couple of spokespeople had a bad afternoon. Some websites (including this one) got some extra pageviews. And every politician learned to be that much more boring in the future.
I think this way of dealing with politicians doesn’t just make them uninteresting: it also make our politics dumber. Here’s hoping this changes, though if anything, I think it will get worse before it gets better.
If you are associated with people who are political activists, you will likely be presented with events from time to time and you will be asked “why aren’t you outraged by this?” It can put you on the defensive. It can make you feel uncaring, selfish, or apathetic. You have to agree that a massacre or child abuse or great poverty is outrageous, and you feel at that moment that a) something should be done and b) you are somehow deficient for not doing something about it.
This is a trap. First off: is there something you can immediately do to stop this? If you can, then do it. Chances are you cannot. So outrage aside, you need to make a plan either to take action in the longer term, or not take action at all. But why would you not take action at all? Simply because there are more terrible things in the world happening than you can possibly tackle. Even if you were to devote your life to them, there would be many many more things you cannot do than you can. You need to have a plan to do what you can.
Feelings like guilt or or pity or outrage may spark you do something. But if things stop there, such feelings are self-indulgent. Instead, pick something that you are motivated to improve and work on.Can you do more? Do more.
Just avoid the trap.
(Originally posted at Posterous on April 24 2011)
According this article in GigaOM, Obama Is campaigning within games:
‘Last week we noted unconfirmed sightings of an “Obama for President” billboard in the Xbox 360 racing game Burnout Paradise. Today we’re able to report that it is, in fact, an official advertisement placed by the senator’s campaign team.’