# Outside the Beltway

## Schwarzenegger’s Veto Sudoku

A minor buzz was generated yesterday by California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s veto message to the state assembly:

It seems that, if one ignores the first two and last two paragraphs, there’s a hidden message spelled out by the first letter of the remaining sentences. If that’s too complicated, Kevin Drum has a version with the message circled in red.

Speculation is that Schwarzenegger was sending a not-so-subtle message to bill sponsor Tom Ammiano, who yelled “You lie!” at the Governator (apparently, this practice is catching on in America’s legislative bodies) and told him to “kiss my gay ass.”

The governor’s spokesman, Aaron Lear, says this was just “a weird coincidence,” noting that other veto messages “spelled out things like ‘soap’ and ‘ear'” but ABC polling director Gary Langer doesn’t think so.

What are the odds? Here’s how not to figure it precisely, rather a quick and unsophisticated back-of-the-envelope calculation: If the odds of picking a particular letter at random are one in 26, doing it over seven selections (the number of letters in question) is (1/26)^7, or .0000000001245. Just about one in 10 billion.

Small odds.

This, though, admittedly is not my field. A real calculation would take into account other matters, such as the frequency with which the individual letters in question start words, the ordering odds and the chances of a line break appearing in just the right spot between the two words in question, as it does.

A reader of Taegan Goddard‘s Political Wire calculates the odds at .00000000000053937610200661%.

Stephen Green thinks this provides “one last reason to have some small amount of like left for The Governator.”  “Juvenile? Sure. But wouldn’t you rather have elected officials playing harmless pranks on one another, than doing to us what they usually do to us?”  And, indeed, Ammiano spokesman Quintin Mecke gave “Kudos to the governor for his creative use of coincidence” adding “You certainly have to have a sense of humor in politics. Unfortunately, this humor came at the cost of the Port of San Francisco.”

I suppose.  On the other hand, this is a very bizarre thing for a governor. Not least of which because it’s rather odd that someone took the time to look for hidden messages.

James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

1. rodney dill says:

A weird coincidence… just like Obama’s use of ‘putting lipstick on a pig’ not being an intentional slur on Palin.

2. Douglas says:

every 1 in a million experience is 1 in a million, it’s just that it’s not the 1 you are looking for.

“be sure to drink your ovaltine.”

3. rodney dill says:

It seems that, if one ignores the first two and last two paragraphs, there’s a hidden message spelled out by the first letter of the remaining sentences. If that’s too complicated, Kevin Drum has a version with the message circled in red.

Well actually that was too complicated for me, but I only counted three (3) paragraphs in the main body, and I actually used the first letter of each sentence, not each line.
😉

4. DL says:

I recall Ron Reagan cranking up on TV about the giant spending budget sitting before him -then he signed the stupid thing, instead of throwing it over his shoulder. Human heroes all have rusty parts. With Obama its pure “red” (as in Marx) iron dust!

5. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

Conan speaks!

6. Jake P says:

Acrostics were good enough for Dante Alighieri in The Divine Comedy, seems like an appropriate enough literary device for a state that’s going to hell in a handbasket…

7. Herb says:

Bizarre, but clever…

Whereas most of our politicians are just bizarre.

8. bigfire says:

I listened to the actual heckling by Ammiano, and it’s “Kiss my faggot ass”.

9. Peacewood says:

Not to be pedantic, but it’s not a “sudoku” so much as an “acrostic”.

I imagine a sudoku would probably have a lot more blank spaces in between the words.

10. MarkedMan says:

On a scale of 1 – 10, I rate this about a “2” for level of importance. But as for whether or not it was intentional, I kinda figured the simple fact it was noticed gives evidence it was intentional. Unless this was a message seems by hundreds or thousands of people, I imagine someone spilled the beans. Of course that kind of puts it in a different light. The idea of putting in a hidden message that may or may not be discovered by posterity is kind of cool. The idea of putting in a hidden message and then giggling over it with your frat boy friends is not nearly so cool.

11. DavidL says:

After reflection I call this a modest win for Schwarzenegger. Sure Schwarzenegger was crasp, but not as vulgar as Tom Ammiano.

12. anjin-san says:

It’s noteworthy that Schwarzenegger is far more clever in his second language than any other Republican is in his/her native tongue…