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I have freely confessed that when it comes to utter cluelessness regarding the brave new world of 21st-century social media, nobody is more utterly clueless than I am. I guess I feel bad about this, at least the being-left-out part, but that's not your problem. I do have some questions, though.
Maybe this would all be clear to me if I had seen The Social Network, but the thought of sitting through an entire movie about Facebook and its mystical leader Mark Zuckerberg gave me such a case of the willies that I didn't even care that the script was written by Aaron Sorkin -- and I revered the work he did on Sports Night, The West Wing, and yes, even Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.
SPEAKING OF FACEBOOK, HERE'S
THE FIRST THING I WANT TO KNOW
It seems like every week that the FB people send me an e-mail saying that I have "notifications" that I haven't looked at, and offering to waft me there at the mere click of a link and filling in of a password. The first couple of times, I was so concerned about these alleged un-looked-at notifications that I spent countless minutes rummaging around the site trying to find them. I went round and round, following link after link, until finally I arrived at a definitive screen message that I have no new notifications.
Fair enough, but then why does the FB e-mail always claim that I do? Have unread notifications, that is? True, it also rattles off a list of FB friends of mine who have posted babblings that I haven't looked at, and sometimes I actually click through to "catch up." Many of these are people I like and respect. But their FB babblings, not so much. Never mind, though. My question is, how does Facebook get away with lying on a regular basis. The e-mail always insists that I have "notifications" to investigate. (Sorry I can't give you the exact rest of the wording. I get so peeved that I always take pleasure in deleting these e-mails. If it had occurred to me that I might want to write about this some slow Sunday night, I would of course have saved one.)
The thing is, "notifications" are veryspecific things FB-wise, and I never have notifications. I think Zuckerberg should be hauled before some appropriate investigative body to get to the bottom of this.
ALSO, I WANT TO KNOW ABOUT SHAMELESS --
AND, WORSE, INEPT -- BRIBERY FOR "LIKES"
Oh sure, I know it's common for individuals and companies who for some reason seem to measure their worthiness by their tally of FB "likes" to beg and wheedle for same, and even to attempt to bribe. But I was caught short recently when my new cell-phone company issued one of these shameless pleas. I forget what it was exactly they kind of stuff they wanted me to buddy up to on their website (again, I really should have foregone the pleasure of deleting the e-mail in order to have it available now), but the answer to this particular prayer turned out to be, sure enough, issuing a FB "like." I recall there were even instructions for how to participate if you're not on Facebook.
What got me in this case was the nature of the proffered bribe. Usually it's "a chance to win [fill in the blank]." This is something else that drives me nuts. All over cyberworld are people and organizations telling me that I "have a chance to win" such-and-such, despite the obvious fact that this is true only in the most technical sense. If I do whatever it is they're trying to get me to do, it's theoretically not impossible that I might win whatever-it-is, but we all know that's not going to happen.
But I digress. As I say, this proffered bribe wasn't (gasp!) a chance to win something I'm not going to win. No, there wasn't even anything conditional about this offer. No, if I came through with the desired "like," they were going by God to plant a tree. I have no idea what kind of tree or where. And I have nothing against the planting of trees. Who would be against the planting of trees. And my phone company, you should understand, is famous for its progressive sympathies, putting its money where its promotional mouth is. But do they really think I'm such a good person that I'll drop everything just so they'll plant some kind of tree somewhere?
If they think that, they're wrong.
MEANWHILE, SPEAKING OF AARON SORKIN . . .
HBO's "On Demand" channel has a new two-minute tease up with a first peek at Sorkin's upcoming series, The Newsroom, in which a straitlaced TV news anchor played by Jeff Daniels is goaded by reporters trying to pigeonhole him into talking about his politics, which he has always kept rigorously private, and he goes crazy and tells a bunch of embarrassing truths about what passes for TV news coverage. Looks really promising to me. I'm psyched. It's under "Inside Series"in the "Series" section. On second thought, it finally occurred to me that if HBO has put this sneak peek up on "On Demand," it's bound to be elsewhere. Sure enough, there it is on YouTube.
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enlargeEarth Day 1970 - an exaggeration, but not by much.
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Forty-two years ago to the day, the first Earth Day got off the ground. Ironically, last year on this day we were getting news on the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, unfolding and creating probably one of the worst environmental disasters in that region. So maybe we were preoccupied and cynical on that particular day. On this particular Earth Day it may seem more cynical and loaded with lip-service than it has before and even acknowledgment of the day seems not to be coming from mainstream media aside from scant mention of it.
But on the first Earth Day there was promise and there was commitment and people were involved. NBC's Today Show devoted an entire week to the cause of the environment (back when the Today Show had something of a conscience going for it).
Hugh Downs (host ? Today Show): ?We?re exploring the grassroots sentiment of the Ecology Movement today and concerning ourselves with the social implications in the struggle to cleanse and to save our environment.?
As the years have gone by, and we're further and further away from the first Earth Day, the original vision and intent seems to have gotten lost, smeared, ignored and belittled by those elements portraying the Environmental movement as overrun with agenda-grinders and lunatics. It has lately been demonized as some extreme left-wing conspiracy by some, even though one of the original founders of the movement was a Republican (Pete McCloskey R-CA.).
That part seems to be missing along with the original message.
In case you forgot, here is what it sounded like on April 22, 1970, excerpted from that first hour of the Today Show.
Fox News host adds a few additional words to President Obama's "I wasn't born with a silver spoon in my mouth" comment and the new "quote" gets picked up by WaPo (since corrected) and others. [...]
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Bahrain arrests foreign journalists attempting to cover civil rights demonstrations following F1 race. Ten women also being held for holding photo of AlKhawaja at F1 race, one beaten severely.[...]
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Rep. Bill Denny (R-Jackson)
If you were like me, you thought Friday's article in the Clarion-Ledger regarding the current state of redistricting signaled that something fishy was going on. In short, neither Rep. Bill Denny (R-Jackson) nor Sen. Merle Flowers (R-Southaven), the chairmen of the House and Senate committees on redistricting, would say a word about the process used to draw the new district lines. Rep. Denny did say that the plans had been submitted to experts, but said he didn't know who those experts were (Sounds like he's got total control of the situation, if you ask me.). Sen. Flowers wouldn't comment at all, and Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves (R) said that the plans would be revealed in the next few weeks.
Does Bill Denny saying, "Take my word, I've drawn something" count?
It seems like the only bit of news the Republican leadership wanted to get out was that the maps were drawn. Why would that be important?Let me introduce you to Section 5-3-93 of the Mississippi Code:
The members of the committee shall draw a plan to apportion, according to constitutional standards, the membership of the Mississippi Senate and the Mississippi House of Representatives no later than fifteen (15) days prior to the scheduled adjournment of the next regular session of the Legislature following the delivery of the 2000 decennial census data to the state and every ten (10) years thereafter and at such other times as they may be directed by joint resolution of the Mississippi Legislature.
Provided, however, the committee shall not be required to present a plan to the Legislature prior to four (4) months after the publication of census data.Well guess what Saturday was? The 15th day prior to the scheduled adjournment of this legislative session. That means that the plans had to have been drawn by the committee no later than Saturday. The question then becomes, what it means for a committee to draw a plan? This opens several lines of inquiry: Does it mean that the chairman of the committee can just put pen to paper? And if that's the case, how do you know that the law has been satisfied if the maps are not released? Or does it mean that a plan has to be voted upon by the committee? It's almost a nonsensical requirement to force a committee to draw a map and not vote on it. And how does a "committee" draw a plan, anyway? By voting on it, I would presume.
Upon completion of apportionment plans, the committee shall present its plans to the Mississippi Legislature, which shall act on the plans not later than the next regular session of the legislature. The committees to which the plans are referred shall report their recommendations to their respective houses no later than the forty-fifth day of the legislative session.This language would seem to give legislators another session in which to pass new maps, but the language of 5-3-93 mandates that a plan be passed this year. (The statutory scheme seems to contemplate that the maps would have been drawn last year and voted on no later than this year.) The problem 5-3-103 holds for Republicans is in the second sentence. The 45th day of the legislative session was February 16, which was the deadline for making requests that general bills and constitutional amendments be drafted. On that day, the House was busy tabling the motion to reconsider on the ALEC-style "Sunshine" Act, and the Senate was busy welcoming foreign investors interested in opening charter schools.
The germ of this piece came from an undertaking that I am considering. That undertaking is to write a post for every chemical element. The recent successes of my more technical pieces have made me decide to concentrate more on the harder part[...]
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It was one of those beautiful Alaskan mornings--the crisp, biting air so clear, America's greatest sportsman and patriot, Ted Nugent, could see Vladimir Putin and the demon, Andrealphus, atop the Kremlin's east wall, engaging in the most vile, despicably unnatural acts imaginable. The sight engulfed Ted's senses. The demon's orgasmic writhing seized his thoughts, overwhelming them with dreams of debauchery on the iCarly set.
So lost was he in his thoughts, Ted didn't see that a bear had ambled up to the bait station, a barrel filled with the most irresistible ursine delicacies, until after his .17 caliber flesh rifle shot its full load into his padded, mossy oak camo undergear. Now sated, Ted looked down from his well-furnished tree blind and spotted his quarry. Quickly, he reached for his bow and fired. The arrow flew true, rocking the bear at 340 feet per second, before it staggered off into the brush.
Ted could no longer see the bear from his perch on the tree stand or from its base after he climbed down. The bear was gone. "Fuck it," the NRA spokesman surely thought, "It must be off dying in the brush. I'll just shoot another."
Four days later, he shot that second bear.
Unfortunately, those whom Ted calls "evil corrupt government thugs" didn't approve. According to Alaskan wildlife officials, shooting two bears with one permit is poaching. If one of the poached bears is transported across state lines, it becomes a federal offence. Ted was charged federally, and will plead guilty on Tuesday.
I wonder if the NRA will feature Ted in a "Joys of Poaching" series in it's hunting magazine, "The American Hunter." I hope so.
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This Week with George Stephanopoulos marks the passings of four service members killed in Afghanistan.
US Army Sgt Tanner S Higgins, 23, Yantis, TX
US Army SSgt. David P. Nowaczyk, 32, Dyer, IN
US Marines Cpl. Aaron M Faust, 22, Louisville, KY
US Army Capt Michael C Braden, 31, Lock Haven, PA
According to iCasualties, the total number of allied service members killed in Afghanistan is now 2,967.
In addition, the following notable names have passed this week: former News of the World editor Barry Askew, former Secretary of the Army Stanley Rogers Resor, author KD Wentworth, television host and producer Dick Clark, Olympian hockey player Valeri Vasiliev, musician Levon Helm, musician Greg Ham, prison evangelist and Watergate figure Chuck Colson and football player Ray Easterling.
As one of the resident polling analysts here at Daily Kos, I spend an unhealthy amount of time scouring the internets looking for new polls, or stories about polls, or stories about pollsters, and ... well, you get the idea.
It is no secret, of course, that as the election cycle begins its process of acceleration heading towards November, the volume of polls to digest will challenge the appetite of even the most degenerate elections junkies (which, of course, is why we love you). With that in mind, this Sunday Kos offering serves as a reminder that (a) this is a marathon, not a sprint, and (b) there are some things to remember as you peruse the numbers.
To that first point: sure, I am totally an enabler here, with an update on new polling data five days a week. But it is critical to remember, the polls are going to twist, turn, flip, and dance a million different directions over the next six months or so. In 2008, from April 1st forward, the polling lead between Barack Obama and John McCain in the Gallup tracking poll switched leads 13 times. It simply isn't worth it to get complacent when a poll shows your favored candidate up by ten right now, nor is it worth it to get despondent when a poll shows your favored candidate down by ten right now.
To the second point (the things to remember): the hardcore electoral degenerates here already know this stuff, and can probably augment my list in the comments. But scanning the comments section here and elsewhere, these are the kinds of common bits of polling commentary that can run off the tracks. So what follows is just a smattering of bits of helpful advice to help you look at the polls and maintain your sanity, at the same time. Earlier this week, as it happens, Nate Silver offered a dozen tips for safe and sane poll watching, but I have limited myself to three key points that tend to have special resonance both in our comments sections, and in the most recent public conversations about the 2012 cycle.
1. There are dangers in reading "the internal numbers" too closely.
This admonition is nothing new. Indeed, as the world was falling all around Democratic supporters in the Fall of 2010, I wrote the following:
Conservatives jumped all over polling in both 2006 and 2008, convinced that they had gone under the hood and found that the numbers were all wrong (here is one such example). Indeed, the one recent poll that was decent news for Democrats was immediately assailed from the Right (and noted by Pollster's excellent Mark Blumenthal, who proceeded to execute a devastating takedown of the critique in question).When confronted with a poll that offers a result counter to your expectations (or hopes), it is tempting to dive under the hood and look for a flaw in the sample to explain it away. And certainly, odd polling results could be attributable to unusual characteristics in a sample. But it makes those results unusual. It does not automatically make them wrong. And it's probably a mistake to simply dismiss them out of hand.
Could the polls be wrong in 2010? Sure, they could. Pollsters, as always, make assumptions about who will show up at the polls. Those assumptions could be in error. But hanging hopes that the critical mass of polls are in error because of this demographic quirk or that deviation from 2006/2008 is probably a glorified method of "shooting the messenger." Certainly, there's a great temptation to shoot the messengers this cycle--certainly I am guilty of it, and I'd probably be convicted on multiple counts of doing so.
Take one of the polling debates this week. Eagle-eyed readers in our Polling Wrap directed me in the comments to an article by Ron Brownstein where he noted that the Gallup tracking poll is assuming a non-white proportion of the electorate roughly similar to that of 2010. An assumption like that, in an election with Barack Obama at the top of the ticket, seems awfully pessimistic.
However, so did assuming that over 40 percent of the electorate would be conservatives in 2010, given that the number was closer to 30 percent in both 2008 AND 2006. But that is exactly what happened, according to the 2010 exit polls.
2. Speaking of conservatives ... Yes, there are a lot more conservatives than liberals in polls. It doesn't matter nearly as much as you think.
Speaking of diving under the hood and looking at the sample makeup, one recurring theme in the comments for the three-plus years I have written for Daily Kos has been "there is no way this poll is right, it has far more conservatives as liberals!"
EVERY poll does, though, and often by a substantial margin. And it almost never matters. The reason is quite simple: ideology, like party ID, is almost always self-reported. And after several decades of watching their ideological point of view used as an epithet, a lot of left-of-center voters simply prefer to self-identify as "moderates."
The proof is in the performance. As I noted last year, a study of the 2009 and 2010 exit polls showed the following:
Even in the ugliness of the 2009-2010 electoral cycle, Democratic candidates carried a majority of the moderate vote in nineteen of the 20 statewide races I tracked. The sole exception was Jon Corzine, who nabbed just 45% of the moderate vote in the 2009 New Jersey gubernatorial election (remember when people thought Chris Christie was a moderate? Fun times).And, on the House level, even as the world was falling around the Democrats' ears, the exit polls showed that Democrats still carried moderates by a 55-42 margin.
The number to watch is not simply the lib/con gap. It will exist. It is the size of that gap that matters. In the 2006 midterms, it was a 12-point gap (22/34), and the Democrats romped. In the 2010 midterms, it was a 22-point gap (20/42), and the Democrats got stomped.
3. President Obama's approval ratings are not good. Neither are Mitt Romney's favorabilities. Both matter, but neither are terminal.
Here is my favorite "polling analyst" game of dueling banjos in the 2012 election cycle. With damned near every polling release, Republicans confidently predict that the president's approval rating means that he is DOOMED come November. Democrats, meanwhile, counter that Mitt Romney is the least liked major-party nominee in the past few decades, and that it is simply implausible that someone the electorate shows so much antipathy toward can be elected.
Both are right about the current voter mood about both men, and yet the conclusions they draw could easily be errant come November.
President Obama's approval rating is just below the historical standard for re-election: in the 47 percent range. However, as I noted a few weeks ago, there is a recent exemplar for exactly this scenario: 2004, when George W. Bush was under 50 percent in job approval, and still won re-election.
However, for Democrats confident of victory based on Romney's favorability ratings, there is an even more recent exemplar: 2010. One of the more overlooked numbers in the 2010 exit polls is that the voters who showed up on Election Day 2010 actually had a slightly higher opinion of the Democratic Party than they did of the GOP. That didn't stop a seven-point spread in the national House vote, and 62 gained seats for the Republican Party.
So, in other words, both of these numbers are worth watching, but if they stay roughly where they are now, the outcome is more likely to be unpredictable than a slam-dunk win either way.
The simplest tip is to remember that it is still April. It's worth watching movement in the polls, but helpful to remember that there will be ten movements, in opposite directions, down the road. Perspective is hard to keep (and I'll be the first to admit that I am one of the worst at keeping that long view), but it might preserve your sanity in what remains a long run to the finish line.
I really hate fundraising, mostly because I feel like a loser when I ask for money, and when I don't raise all I need the first day or two, I start feeling like "who the hell do I think I am, to even be doing this, anyway?" and then I slack off and drop the ball and suck it up. It's a pattern that's long established. Well, there's step one, I guess -- I just admitted I have a problem. :)
As you know, this year I went back to school full time, because hey, the world really, really, really needs another lawyer, right? Anyway, dropping the ball and slacking off isn't an option this time, because I simply don't have it in my budget to make up the difference. (I couldn't last year, either -- I'm just not waiting until the last minute like I did then.) But this time, I have a pot sweetener.
This afternoon I went to the Rachel Maddow book tour event at the Uptown Theater in Kansas City, and I came home with two extra signed copies of her book to offer as incentives to the first two people to donate $100 or more to the next year's operating expenses. If you want your book sent to an address other than the one PayPal records and provides me, please let me know via email.
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