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Why Debating Districts Misses The Larger Point

most-gerrymandered-districts

There are plenty of other factors that help our two major parties retain power.

Scottish Independence Referendum A Nailbiter

travel-suitcase

Scottish independence may be more likely than many think.

Parties Play to Win the Game

us-politics-republicans-democrats

Parties are in politics primarily to win the vote of the median voter, not to join together and sing Kumbaya.

TSA’s Security Through Bureaucracy

TSA-grabs-junk-denver-570x387

Security theater and the bureaucratic mentality.

Where Huntsman Went Wrong

Jon Huntsman

Huntsman’s tactics reinforced his fellow Republicans’ natural skepticism of his candidacy.

Explaining Obama’s Medical Marijuana Crackdown

Crackdown: Not just for Xbox 360.

Obama’s Justice Department continues its crackdown on medical marijuana, despite campaign promises to the contrary.

Gary Johnson Invited to Florida Debate

Gary Johnson

Two-term New Mexico governor finally gets to share the stage with Herman Cain.

Parliamentary Procedure and the Debt Ceiling Debate

One of these guys is outsmarting the other one

How the reelection incentive and parliamentary procedure are affecting the debt ceiling debate in Congress.

University of Texas Professors: Already Teaching

University of Texas clocktower

Texas A&M professor finds serious flaws in college faculty productivity study.

TSA Workers Gain Right to Join Most Pointless Union Ever

Transportation Security Administration

TSA screeners will now have the right to join a union. Or at least a union that can’t actually negotiate much of anything.

Midterm Grades: Barack Obama

obama-presidential-seal

Time for midterms.

Compromise, 2011 Style

Social Security Card

Compromise in politics involves more than compromising one’s principles.

The NFL Stadium Shakedown

NFL

The NFL’s “especially mercenary” push to extract new stadia from cities–even where the stadium’s practically brand-new.

If Academics Wrote the News

academy

Via the Monkey Cage by way of Chris Lawrence’s Friendfeed, comes a Slate piece that asks the question “What if political scientists covered the news?” (which, itself, was inspired by a CJR article—how’s that for a chain of connection?). The Slate piece, penned by Christopher Beam, attempts to write a news story as if it […]

OTB’s Guide to Today’s British Election

Clock Tower, Palace of Westminster

Today, voters in Great Britain and Northern Ireland go to the polls to elect a new Parliament and–most likely–indirectly choose an new government as well. In this post, I’ll try to give a high-level overview of the context of the election and perhaps break out the crystal ball to make some tentative predictions as well. […]

Schumer and Graham: The Men With a (Immigration) Plan

Reinforcing the Border Fence

Washington Post writer Spencer Hsu reports that senators Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) have had ghostwritten for them written an op-ed in the Washington Post that provides an outline of the immigration reform bill they plan to introduce in the coming weeks; the plan’s “four pillars” are: requiring biometric Social Security cards to […]

Media and Polling

Media Poll Results Cartoon

Cartoonist and Stanford robotics PhD Jorge Cham sends an illustrated guide to the media concerning the reading of polls. Via Bruce Bartlett via Chris Lawrence’s Google Reader stream.

Dueling Analogies For 2010

Goldwater for President

Many pundits have suggested that the 2010 elections may see a repeat of the pattern of the 1994 midterms: a first-term Democratic president, wounded by intraparty squabbling over a controversial health care proposal, loses big in Congress in what is seen as a “referendum” on liberal overreach. Mike Munger, on the other hand, suggests that […]

Health Care: All Over But The Secrecy

Barack_Obama_and_Harry_Reid_in_the_Oval_Office

David Lightman and William Douglas of the McClatchy Newspapers syndicate point out that the real action on the health care bill will take place in the murky world of conference committees, which–like many other things on the Hill–don’t really work the way your father’s (or, for that matter, your) American government textbook says they do: […]

On Excessive Moderation

us-politics

As Steven Taylor notes, the third-party candidacy by Doug Hoffman in New York’s 23rd congressional district seems to have backfired, delivering a solid Republican seat for generations to Democratic candidate Bill Owens. While some conservatives like my Twitter pal (and OG blogger) Jayvie Canono have suggested that Republican nominee Dede “Scozzafava would’ve been a vote […]

Iranian Politics 101

travel-suitcase

As background for some our posts on the Iranian election, it is probably helpful to have some information about Iran’s political system. Helpfully, The Red Pill at Cadillac Tight has a lengthy primer on the design and workings of the Islamic Republic’s various directly-elected and appointed political bodies. As Dave Schuler points out below, the […]

Thoughts on the Voting Rights Act Case

law-scales-justice-flag

One of the Supreme Court’s most anticipated decisions this term is likely to deal with the constitutionality of part of one of the landmark laws of the 20th century, the Voting Rights Act of 1965; this may be the most important of a series of cases the court will tackle this term considering civil rights. […]

Alabama’s Constitution: A Result of Vote Fraud?

Alabama Constitution of 1901

A group of voters in Alabama is suing to strike down Alabama’s 1901 constitution based on their claim that it was ratified fraudulently: The voters this month sued several state officials in Jefferson County Circuit Court’s Bessemer division, claiming they violated voter rights by failing to ensure that Alabama’s 108-year-old constitution is valid. State historians […]

Pelosi Goes Through The Motions

us-politics

The opening of the 111th Congress is, as always, accompanied by the typical minutiae of opening a new session of Congress. Most of these events aren’t too terribly interesting to the public, although the events surrounding the Minnesota and Illinois seats have raised the profile of the opening of the Senate. By contrast the opening […]

From The Department of Dubious Complaints

money-bankruptcy

I’ll concede that those who are upset about Rick Warren giving the invocation at Barack Obama’s inauguration have a point when it comes to his views about homosexuality, but this complaint seems a bit beyond sanity: I’ll grant that appointing a creationist to give the invocation is not exactly the same as appointing him science […]

Jonesing For An Apology

academic-book-glasses

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports today that Bob Jones University’s current president has “apologized” for his institution’s racist policies, which persisted until the Civil Rights Movement finally made it to their little corner of Greenville, South Carolina in 2000. Per the university’s website: For almost two centuries American Christianity, including BJU in its early […]

Clinton Supporters Want To Lose Again For Catharsis

money-bankruptcy

Marc Ambinder dutifully reports that the ordinary kabuki theater of the Democratic convention will now include an extra layer of double-secret kabuki theater so Clinton supporters will feel better about themselves. Jeff Jarvis is right: journalists and their employers must end the farce now. The conventions now only exist to feed the fantasies of political […]

Blogger Balko Bags Dodgy Doctor

money-bankruptcy

Congratulations to Radley Balko, whose dogged reporting on miscarriages of justice in Mississippi has led to the dismissal of the state’s most prolific medical examiner, Dr. Steven Hayne. Hayne’s bogus medical reports led to a capital murder conviction for Cory Maye, a man wrongly subjected to a no-knock drug raid by police, and quite possibly […]

Deracialization and Barack Obama

us-politics

While I’ve been busy moving my stuff to Texas, Barack Obama has been inadvertently injecting race into the presidential contest with his statement that he “doesn’t look like all those other presidents on the dollar bills.” While the historically-inclined might have criticized his remark for lumping Alexander Hamilton in with the motley crew of ex-presidents […]

Labour, Brown Lose Big in Glasgow

travel-suitcase

The Scottish Nationalist Party took one of Labour’s safest seats in a rather dramatic and unexpected upset that marks yet another setback for British prime minister Gordon Brown: Unfortunately for Labour, Glasgow is only the latest in a string of woeful electoral performances for the party under Mr Brown’s leadership. His party lost the London […]

Making Friends and Influencing People

church-state-street-signs

Biologist PZ Myers has followed through on his threat to acquire a consecrated communion wafer and deface it–for good measure, he also decided to desecrate an English translation of the Koran (which, according to my understanding of Islam, doesn’t actually count as a copy of the Koran) and a copy of Richard Dawkins’ The God […]

Obama Proposes New Cuba Policy Before Exiles

money-bankruptcy

Democratic frontrunner Barack Obama further elaborated on his “accidental foreign policy” agenda Friday in a speech before the Cuban American National Foundation, the Cuban exile group that historically has been a bastion of hard-line anti-Castro sentiment. In his remarks, Obama called for a “new strategy” towards Cuba and other Latin American nations and contrasted his […]

Preparing For The Digital TV Transition

movie-popcorn-filmstrip

On February 17, 2009, most analog television broadcasting in the United States will cease, with the exception of some “low-power” television stations and stations physically located in Canada and Mexico that broadcast to U.S. audiences. After that date, most televisions bought before 2005 will not be able to tune into most over-the-air TV channels without […]

Deep South Blues for the GOP

money-bankruptcy

The Democrats have picked up their second Deep South congressional seat in as many weeks, with Travis Childers defeating Republican candidate Greg Davis by a substantial margin in the special election contest to replace Roger Wicker, now serving as the interim junior senator from Mississippi, in the House of Representatives: The seat had been in […]

Barr: McCain Bane or Obama Obstacle?

us-politics

As Alex reports below, former Republican congressman Bob Barr has thrown his hat into the Libertarian Party nomination contest. Assuming Barr does secure the Libertarian nomination–a big assumption, given that the LP isn’t exactly known for picking the most electable presidential candidates–how much of an impact will Barr really have in November, and if so, […]

Pennsylvania Democratic Primary Prediction

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Tomorrow the long-awaited Pennsylvania primary will have arrived and I thought it might be a good time to launch fecklessly into a few predictions. As of this morning the polls are showing Sen. Clinton leading Sen. Obama by anything from six points (Zogby) to ten points (Suffolk). Sen. Obama’s strongest support is in eastern Pennsylvania, […]

OTB Radio – Tonight at 7 Eastern

money-bankruptcy

The next episode of OTB Radio, our BlogTalkRadio program, will record and air live tonight from 7-8 Eastern. Dave Schuler, Alex Knapp, and Chris Lawrence will be joining me tonight to talk David Petraeus’ Senate testimony, the protests over the Olympic torch relay, a controversy over a popular American Government textbook, and (time permitting) other […]

State Dept. Contractors Caught Snooping Obama Records

us-politics

Via Marc Ambinder and reporter Bill Gertz of the Moonie Washington Times, three State Department contract employees were recently caught sneaking peeks at Barack Obama’s passport records. The relevant particulars from Gertz’s piece: The officials, all contract workers, used their authorized computer network access to look up files within the department’s consular affairs section, which […]

Obama, McCain Prevail in Mississippi

us-politics

To the surprise of virtually no one, Barack Obama has won the Mississippi Democratic primary, the last contest before Pennsylvania’s primaries in late April. To even less surprise, presumptive Republican nominee John McCain also prevailed in his party’s contest. Perhaps more interesting than the primary victory are the exit poll numbers, which may suggest some […]

OTB Radio – Tonight at 7 Eastern

us-politics

The next episode of OTB Radio, our BlogTalkRadio program, will record and air live tonight from 7-8 Eastern. Dave Schuler, Chris Lawrence, and Steve Verdon will join me to talk about the Ohio and Texas results and all things Campaign 2008, the war in Iraq, whether we’re in a recession, and maybe some other things. […]

OTB Radio – Tonight at 7 Eastern

us-politics

The next episode of OTB Radio, our BlogTalkRadio program, will record and air live tonight from 7-8 Eastern. Dave Schuler and Chris Lawrence will join me to talk about the latest twists and turns in Campaign 2008, the war in Iraq, and whatever else we can think of in a relatively slow news week. Please […]

Flat Tax? No, Fat Ban

us-politics

Radley Balko finds lard of a different nature than pork spending on the menu of the Mississippi legislature: a state legislative bill sponsored by two Republicans and one Democrat that would effectively ban all restaurants in the state from serving the “obese.” Lest you think the sponsors are kidding, blogger Sandy Szwarc contacted the main […]

Political Scientists Say Obama Might Be More Liberal Than Hillary

us-politics

As James and Alex discuss below, the National Journal just released its 2007 rankings of Senators and found that Barack Obama had the most liberal voting record based on 107 “key votes” in the Senate in 2007. As legislative politics scholar Sarah Binder notes, this does not comport with Poole and Rosenthal’s NOMINATE scores, nor […]

Florida Primary Predictions

Florida Primary Predictions:  McCain and Clinton

Yes, it’s that time again: trying to make predictions in a political season that’s largely defying predictability. Polls are open today in Florida, the last primary state before next week’s Super Tuesday extravaganza, and it’s an important contest, at least on the GOP side. As for the Democrats, it’ll be a complete shock if Hillary […]

Bush to Issue Earmarks Executive Order

Bush to Issue Earmarks Executive Order

President Bush is poised to ban most spending earmarks by executive decree. President George W. Bush will begin “unprecedented steps” to trim billions of dollars earmarked by lawmakers for pet projects, a White House spokesman said. In his State of the Union address tonight, Bush will promise to “veto any spending bill that does not […]

Obama Thumps Clinton in S.C.; Edwards Takes 3rd

us-politics

Barack Obama has bracketed his Iowa win in one of the whitest states of the Union with a victory in South Carolina, one of the nation’s blackest, in what appears to be a 2-to-1 rout over Hillary Rodham Clinton. Despite an apparent late surge by John Edwards in polls in the his home turf, it […]

Paul Beats Romney in Louisiana, Trails Dropout Thompson

us-politics

The first part of the headline is what the Ronulans want you to take away from the results of last night’s Louisiana Republican Caucuses, where in actuality the rump of Fred Thompson’s state organization was able to secure backing for a “pro-life uncommitted” slate of delegates; delegates pledged to John McCain (who had no active […]

Giuliani in Florida Freefall

Florida Primary Polls Republicans

Rudy Giuliani, despite putting all his eggs in his Florida basket, has dropped to third place in two recent polls (one conducted before Fred Thompson’s withdrawal, one after) even after considering the former poll’s whopping 5.1-point 95% confidence margin, suggesting that Rudy’s strategy of saturating the state with ads before any elections elsewhere had taken […]

The Good People, Then and Now

us-politics

As we commemorate Martin Luther King’s life today, here is what I think may be the most important passage from his Letter from a Birmingham Jail, written to the clergy of Birmingham who counseled against the SCLC’s protests in that city in 1963: I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish […]

Michigan Primary Predictions

John McCain and Mitt Romney Battle for Michigan

They’re voting today in Michigan in the first primary in which, on the Republican side at least, a significant number of convention delegates are at stake. Despite that, the event is getting far, far less media attention than the traditional lead-off team of Iowa and New Hampshire. On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton is running […]

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