Sunday, October 14, 2012

Last Call

Former GOP and finally Democratic Sen. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania passed away Sunday afternoon at the age of 82.

For most of his 30 years as Pennsylvania's longest-serving U.S. senator and prominent moderate in Congress, Arlen Specter was a Republican, though often at odds with the GOP leadership.

He helped end the Supreme Court hopes of former federal appeals Judge Robert H. Bork, who was nominated by President Ronald Reagan. Decades later, he was one of only three Republicans in Congress to vote for President Barack Obama's economic stimulus.

His breaks with his party were hardly a surprise: He had begun his political career as a Democrat and ended it as one, too.

In between, he was at the heart of several major American political events. He rose to prominence in the 1960s as an assistant counsel to the Warren Commission, developing the single-bullet theory in President John F. Kennedy's assassination. He came to the Senate in the Reagan landslide of 1980 and was a key voice in the Supreme Court confirmation hearings of both Bork and Clarence Thomas.

Specter died Sunday died at his home in Philadelphia from complications of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, said his son Shanin. He was 82. Over the years, Specter had fought two previous bouts with Hodgkin lymphoma, overcome a brain tumor and survived cardiac arrest following bypass surgery.

In the end, Specter voted for the Affordable Care Act as a Democrat before losing to Joe Sestak in the primary two years ago, but he was 80 even then.  It was a long career of service, and while his votes weren't always something I agreed with, he was the last of his breed:  the moderate Republican.

Compared to the Republicans in the Senate now?  I'd rather have 42 Arlen Specters.

Chuck You, Mark Sanford

This is pretty much race baiting/trolling on purpose by the Republicans.  Shocking, I know.

Former South Carolina Governor and Fox News contributor Mark Sanford wandered off the Appalachian Trail again Sunday morning when, in yet another completely isolated example of a Republican being totally-not-racist even though he sounds racist, said that President Obama is going to “come out and throw a lot of spears” at Tuesday’s upcoming debate.

America’s News HQ anchor Shannon Bream wasn’t in the shot, but she didn’t react audibly, and never skipped a beat in continuing to discuss expectations for Tuesday’s debate.

Gov. Sanford first praised former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney‘s performance at the first debate, then predicted that “You know, obviously Obama will come out in this case much more forcefully and he will throw a lot of spears.”

Yeah, sure, coming this close to using "spearchucker" from a guy from South Carolina is totally an accident.  Just like the shot-up campaign HQ window in Denver on Friday.

I'm just being overly sensitive, too.  Sure, that's it.

Sucker Punch Leaves Bus Driver Suspended

The Smoking Gun has a video and recap of a Cleveland bus driver who punches a rude passenger.  He has been suspended and his actions labeled unacceptable.

They're mostly right.

The punch wasn't necessary, but she was aggressive and her behavior was alarming enough that this would have escalated into self-defense shortly.  I'm not saying this excuses his actions, but it does expose a need to hold people in his position accountable while giving them support and resources to handle passengers like this.  Otherwise you end up with what we have here, a story where there are no innocents and no good came from their actions.

A Cleveland municipal bus driver has been suspended after video surfaced this week showing him decking a mouthy female rider with a bolo punch.
The confrontation between the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA) worker and the unidentified woman was apparently filmed by another rider. It is unclear from the above clip, however, what triggered the dispute.
[WARNING: The video is peppered with curse words and racial slurs.]
The driver of bus 2802 leaves his seat after the woman appears to strike him. "You going to jail now," the driver says twice before throwing an uppercut that knocks the woman to the ground.

Soda Industry Fizzes Over And Sues

Soft-drink makers, restaurateurs and other businesses are suing to block New York City's move to end the sale of super-sized, sugary drinks in many eateries.
The American Beverage Association and others sued the city Friday. City officials had no immediate response.
The lawsuit says the unelected health board shouldn't be telling people how much soda to drink. The suit also says the rule "burdens consumers and unfairly harms small businesses."
Soda is unhealthy in large amounts.  However, no one drink or series of drinks is responsible for the decline of our health.  It is a long-term issue in which we strain our kidneys and heart and ultimately pay the price.

Restricting soft drinks makes sense, when done from a personal perspective.  It is not government's duty to regulate legal products that are harmless when the consumer is using their brain.  Restricting the size not only doesn't accomplish the goal of people drinking less, it also fails to address the core issue of making healthy choices.

I find the timing of this interesting.  I hate water, but have not allowed myself to have a soda or coffee until I drink an eight ounce serving of water.  Not only has this reduced my caffeine and soda intake, it has drastically increased my water intake.  I have never felt so great.  I understand what New York City is trying to do.  They're just doing it the wrong way, abusing their authority and overstepping their boundaries.

The Race Was Tightening Up Before The Debates

Yesterday on the podcast I gave my theory on why the polls have closed up so tightly, and not all of the race tightening action is because of the debates.  Smartypants points this out over at her place too.

For months now I've been saying that I don't pay attention to national polls. But I want to talk about them right now to make a point.

Everyone is assuming that the swing in the polls towards Romney is because of the first debate. But no matter how many times people say that - its just not true.

She points out that the polls started getting closer at the end of September, several days before the debate.  She also points out that Kevin Drum too has noticed this.

What's going on with the polls? I wrote something about this a few days ago, but I think it might have gotten buried, so I want to repeat it. According to both Pollster and Real Clear Politics, Mitt Romney began his big surge well before last week's debate. In the ten days before the debate, Pollster shows Romney gaining 2.4 points and RCP shows Romney gaining 1.8 points.

Romney has continued gaining since then, and Obama has continued falling, but this isn't solely a reaction to Obama's lousy debate performance. It started in late September. But why? Nothing special happened during that week to benefit Romney. Their ad buys remained about the same as always. The only thing I can think of is that it was just the inevitable rebound from the hit Romney took over the 47% video.

That might be it, but my theory I think is more plausible:  This was right about time that A) Mitt Romney was about to be written off for good, and B) right about when polling outfits changed from registered voters to likely voters.

Registered voters are hard statistics, you ask if the person is a registered voter or not.  If not, they don't get into the poll.  If you go just by registered voters, the Democrats have an advantage.

But each polling outfit has their own criteria for what a likely voter is.  And inevitably, likely voter models favor Republicans.

Usually polling outfits don't make the switch from registered voters to likely voters until about the first of October.  That's what I think happened here: combined with the debate, it turned into a serious boost for Romney in the polls.

Yes, some polling outfits have been using likely voter models now for months, but the criteria isn't always clear.  There's always a subjective component.  I think that subjective component has magnified Romney's momentum.

Notice that the Senate polls still favor the Democrats, in a big way.  That makes me all the more wary.

I think it's overblown.

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