Tuesday, November 04, 2008

A great day

Note the date at the head of this post. Nov. 4th. A great national day of decision. A great race will be decided. Millions will watch the outcome. And the outcome will make many jubilant while others will be sad or indifferent. I am referring, of course, to the Melbourne Cup, Australia's premier horserace and the one race of the year for which everyone stops in Australia. They flock to their nearest TV or glue a trannie (transistor radio) to their ear. Businesses stop. Schools stop. Factories stop. Offices stop. And even Presbyterians have been known to bet on the outcome. Due to the peculiarites of timezones, however, the race will be run on Nov. 3 in America. And what happens in America on 4th, will happen on 5th in Australia.

My Presbyterian background is still a strong and valued influence and I basically never gamble but I will today enter a "sweep". It is early morning as I write this. In a sweep, you put in money to draw the name of one of the horses out of a hat. If "your" horse wins, you get all the money. It is probably the world's fairest gamble -- but it won't make you rich. There will be sweeps in almost every office and workplace in Australia today. It is a great day! Below is a good comment written by an American last year:
On the first Tuesday of November, most people in Melbourne get the day off for the public holiday. What holiday you ask? Is it the Queens birthday? Boxing Day? Australia Day? No friends, today is a holy occasion where a little over 100,000 people dress up, get drunk, and bet on a bunch of horses as they run around a track. Basically, everyone gets the day off for a race that only lasts minutes.

This is actually a big deal here. Someone told me that teachers in grade school have the kids do "play bets" on what horse they want to win. Women seem to especially love this day as they dress up all pretty and wear funny hats as you see below. There are several contests as well at the cup including "best hat" and "best overall dressed". Today a horse named "Efficient" won the cup and the owner won a prize of $5 million dollars. I know what you are asking me now, "well who won the best hat!?!" Well, I scoured the internet and couldn't find the winner of best hat, which is the thing I was really interested in. Again, what a fun and great country. I'm in Brisbane and so didn't get the day off, but I still got to enjoy a city full of pretty girls wearing funny hats.


Say Goodbye to America

No matter who wins Tuesday America is going to be a different country. When the sun rises on November 5, regardless of who the president-elect is, a more un-United States than has existed since the Civil War will wake to dispute the results of the disgusting campaign that has mercifully come to an end.

Whoever the losers, they will believe they were cheated, and will point fingers at those they believe responsible. Almost half the nation will view the winner as illegitimate, and will do everything in their power to undermine his authority as long as he's in the White House. With this animosity will come a new level of hatred between those of differing political persuasions like nothing our country has experienced in the modern era. Putting it bluntly, and without sounding too much like Rev. Jeremiah "G-d Damn America" Wright, there will be no such thing as Americans anymore.

Instead, there'll be Democrats and Republicans, Liberals and Conservatives, and encounters between the members of these groups will for years nay decades be at best unfriendly, and at worst quite hostile if not downright violent.

Think this an overstatement? Consider first what Wednesday will look like if John McCain pulls off the upset. To begin with, let's be very clear about one thing: Democrats believe that if they lose an election it's because their opponent cheated. It's never their fault. It's never because they ran a poor campaign. It's never because their opponent ran a better one. Heck no! It's always about voter fraud, disenfranchisement, not enough ballots, faulty machinery, hanging chads, negative advertising, intimidation tactics, campaign finance abuses, you name it.

Such is the legacy of Al Sore Loser Gore: regardless of how many news outlets went to Florida in January 2001 and found that if the counting had continued Bush still would have won, the overwhelming majority of Democrats think that election was stolen....

To make my point, I offer the now overly-discussed Bradley effect and how it relates to exit polls: How many people as they leave the voting booth Tuesday will lie to pollsters about who they voted for? Before you answer, try to imagine the pressures many people are going to feel in certain districts around the country to answer "Obama" rather than "McCain" irrespective of the truth. Also consider the possibility that many McCain supporters will just refuse to answer the question thereby skewing the results.....

Can you imagine the Rodney King-style rioting that might occur as a result, especially when folks like Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Chuck Schumer, and the usual suspects get in front of television cameras blaming Republicans and John McCain for stealing another election, this time from a black man? They'll be on all the morning shows Wednesday doing what they do best: fomenting hate, and pointing fingers....

On the flipside, although an Obama victory will likely not result in immediate acts of violence, Republicans already feel cheated by this campaign for a number of reasons, and understand full well that they literally have the most to lose in this election; the Messiah, contrary to all his lies on the stump, clearly intends to redistribute wealth, and it sure isn't Republicans that are going to be on the receiving end of the junior senator from Illinois' charity....

Once Hillary was tossed aside like so much garbage, media ignored each and every issue that could possibly undermine Obama's ascendancy while savagely attacking Sarah Palin as well as an Ohio plumber that had the unmitigated audacity to actually ask the Messiah a decent question. Don't even get me started on how the so-called impartial press overlooked every gaffe and misstatement made by Joe Biden while giving the Messiah a pass for going back on his promise to accept public campaign funds instead opting to raise and spend more money on his presidential aspirations than anybody ever believed possible....

Just imagine the kind of press McCain would have gotten if he had refused public financing, and spent the kind of ad dollars Obama has. Americans likely would have been told virtually 24 hours a day, seven days a week that rich Republicans were trying to buy the election. However, because this is the Messiah, such talk was practically verboten.

Without a doubt, the media playing field this campaign season was as un-level as most Americans have probably ever experienced, or, for that matter ever imagined, and if Obama wins, this is going to leave a bad taste in the mouths of Republicans for many years to come....

And therein lies the real tragedy, for November 4, 2008, could have been a shining moment in American history. After all, a black man is running for president, and might actually win. This should have united the country like never before, and come close to ending the racism that has been one of our nation's banes since its inception. However, because Obama used race to get himself to this point, while also pitting folks of differing incomes against each other for his own political benefit, it seems far more likely that tomorrow will divide our country like it hasn't been in over a century ushering back in hatred that will make Martin Luther King Jr. roll over in his grave.

More here


Fickle voters and other frights that pollsters dread

An old newspaper photograph haunts the dreams of every US pollster. A grinning Harry Truman, having won the 1948 presidential election despite every prediction, is holding up a copy of the Chicago Tribune. It reads: "Dewey defeats Truman". Could it happen again? Every pollster is predicting a victory for Barack Obama. Might a grinning John McCain be pictured on Wednesday triumphantly holding a pile of incorrect polling data?

There are two things that say that he might. The first is that American pollsters have not yet experienced what happened here in 1992 - when the polls pointed to a Labour victory but John Major won. The conventional wisdom is that 1992 was great for the Tories but terrible for the pollsters. In the long run, the opposite turned out to be true. Victory in 1992 turned to ashes for the Conservatives, whereas the pollsters used the debacle to get themselves sorted out.

Now British polls are properly and carefully weighted, taking account of what is known as the spiral of silence - the tendency of voters for the less fashionable party to keep their intentions to themselves. British pollsters weight their results to allow for these shy voters. US pollsters do not. It isn't unreasonable to believe that there could be a Republican spiral of silence. And that US pollsters are all missing it.

There is some evidence of mistakes among US pollsters. Every poll has a margin of error, to take into account the fact that a limited sample has been consulted. But the website fivethirtyeight.com has shown that during the primaries there was on average a 2.3 per cent pollster-introduced error, caused by poor methodology. This is not the case in Britain.

The second, widely canvassed, reason why the polls could be wrong is known as the Bradley Effect. In 1982 exit polls showed the African American Tom Bradley to be on course for victory as Governor of California. He lost. It is argued that voters had refused to support him because of his race but didn't want to tell a pollster. Could this happen to Obama? The Bradley Effect is talked about as if it were incontrovertible but it is only a theory. One of Bradley's campaign team pointed out recently that the same exit polls that predicted victory for Bradley also projected that the white Democrat Jerry Brown would be elected US Senator. And he lost too. These two question marks over the polls are ones that McCain can cling to as the campaign comes to a conclusion. They are not, however, the only reason to doubt the pollsters.

The other ones suggest that the pollsters may be underestimating, not overestimating, Obama. In an election where only 60 per cent may vote, all pollsters have to weigh their findings to reflect how likely respondents are to cast their ballot. The difficulty is deciding how. Usually pollsters use previous elections to help them to decide who is going to vote. But what if, in this election, different sorts of voters are going to turn out? There is reason to believe that young people and African Americans will turn out for Obama as never before. Some pollsters are adjusting for this, others are not (hence some of the variability in the polls). The result will depend to an extent upon who is right about this.

A second unknown is the use of mobile phones. A segment of the electorate - on the whole younger, poorer people - no longer have land lines. Yet pollsters use random digit dialling of landlines to build their samples. Some say that this undercounts Obama support by 2 or 3 per cent.

Lost in all this detail? Then cling on to this. The polls may vary, the methods differ, the lead goes up and down. But every poll by every pollster still agrees that Obama will win.



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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I guess it might not be an accident that the Melbourne Cup in Australia occurs about 6 months to the day after the Kentucky Derby in the U.S. (first Saturday in May).