Impeach Obama!…although it would be easier to de-elect him

I’m not in the mood to litigate Benghazi although it’s clearly a lying fustercluck. Roger L. Simon probably has it right here, although I don’t even care to read it.

President Obama has done a bad job all across the board. I really liked having a black president after our disgraceful racial history, and even though I voted for John McCain, who is wack, Barack Obama, for all his incompetence, is still less wack. I cannot say we made the wrong choice in 2008.

But Barack is incompetent, and not terribly honest either. Dude gotsta go. The Mormon guy seems OK. We might have to fire him in 4 years too, but first things first.

Tom Van Dyke

Tom Van Dyke, businessman, musician, bon vivant and game-show champ (The Joker's Wild, and Win Ben Stein's Money), knows lots of stuff, although not quite everything yet. A past contributor to The American Spectator Online, the late great Reform Club blog, and currently on religion and the American Founding at American Creation, TVD continues to write on matters of both great and small importance from his ranch type style tract house high on a hill above Los Angeles.


  1. If Obama loses this election, you can blame/thank the Right for bamboozling him. How is it ethical that an entire news network questions the President’s citizenship for four years to create doubt in voters while a fringe element of the far right demonizes and degrades him? Most of this is financed by the rich who want to keep their stranglehold on the flow of wealth in our country. Watch the white hands apply the Blackface to our first African-American President at

    • Lots of people i respect are going to be holding their noises at the ballot box this time around. They aren’t happy with mitt, but the economy doesn’t lie, and now news about benghazi is showing the president apparently does, casting a pall on his one popular accomplishment, killing OBL. The one thing that changed from 2008 is then he had no record and today he does. The change of heart has nothing to do with the man. He’s had to run on his record this time. No surprise he’s losing.

      • No surprise he’s losing.

        Nate Silver has him at 74% to win, as of last night I think. And he’s trending back up to about his pre-first debate numbers. So it actually is a surprise to find out he’s losing!

        But I hear you on the merits part of the issue. Personally, I think the Benghazi issue is more Star-chamber tactics by the right, to create dirt where there is none. It’s just not a seriousl enough issue to indict his character nor his Presidency. The real complaints that have bite, it seems to me, aren’t on the foreign policy front, but on domestic policy. I don’t agree that even those issues are clear cut one way or the other, but there is plenty of stuff to legitimately (or as legitimately as any criticism can be at the level of national politics) criticize Obama about on that score. Mostly, I would think, at the ideological level. IF Mitt can’t make a persuasive case on those issues, then it’s either that people generally disagree with the ideology or just don’t like Mitt. And even then, the ideology argument doesn’t cut a lot of ice, because Obama has been arguing for spending cuts (albeit with revenue increases…) since he took office.

        • There’s serious disagreement over the impact of independents breaking against the incumbent close to the election. Silver’s model is decidedly pro Obama on that front, in line with his personal politics. Will be very interested to see if he repeats his 2008 prediction success. Silver is a serious pollster, but by no means the only game in town.

          • Fair enough. But he’s called elections with amazing accuracy for a long time now. He’s not very easily dismissed.

            I mean, he may work for the NYT, but his bonafides were established long before he teamed up with the “liberal media”. 🙂

          • John Sides essentially agrees with Silver. ‘Undecideds’ is a very small % of the electorate at this point. Historically, they tend to split the vote. So even on a good day, that’s a toss; or about .4% for Romney.

            And Silver’s not a pollster, he’s a statistician. He doesn’t conduct polls, never has. He analyzes the ‘game’ based on the aggregate results of other polls and underlying fundamentals.

            There are also conflicting myths about undecided voters. In 2004, it was that in times of war, undecideds break for the incumbent; they don’t want to change horses midstream. And last I checked, we’re still at war, though you wouldn’t have been able to tell that from the Republican convention.

          • Nate Silver gave the GOP a “30%” chance of capturing 60+ seats in 2010. They got 64. He gives Romney 25% now on the electoral college, albeit nearly 50-50 on the popular vote. We’ll see.

            You’re right, he’s not a pollster—he throws all the polls in his blender and calls it soup.

            The problem here is Garbage In, Garbage Out, and the state polls on which he leans to calculate the EC are traditionally of less consistency than the national ones—which vary greatly in quality themselves.

            There’s also a week to go, and the situation continues to evolve.


          • National polls are useless given that we have the electoral college.

          • Exactly. Silver’s most reliable data is the least useful.

          • Nate Silver: “But the FiveThirtyEight method is, principally, an Electoral College simulation, and therefore relies more heavily on state-by-state polls. Our estimates of the popular vote in the critical states are highly similar to those of other Web sites that use different methods to calculate them.”

          • Wait, what? A thirty percent chance came true? What are the odds?.

          • Paul Krugman’s latest just acknowledged that we can determine whether Silver’s right or wrong based on if Obama wins or not, so why not on whether he was right in 2010? Seems if you make a prediction and it doesn’t pan out, your model was wrong, unless you explain otherwise. Maybe Silver did explain (I’d assume so). But it’s no explanation to say that he conceded the possibility. Unless his margin of error is greater than 20, which would mean it’s not got much predictive value.

          • To quote Krugman:

            Yet the right — and we’re not talking about the fringe here, we’re talking about mainstream commentators and publications — has been screaming “bias”! They know, just know, that Nate must be cooking the books. How do they know this? Well, his results look good for Obama, so it must be a cheat. Never mind the fact that Nate tells us all exactly how he does it, and that he hasn’t changed the formula at all.

            This is really scary. It means that if these people triumph, science — or any kind of scholarship — will become impossible. Everything must pass a political test; if it isn;t what the right wants to hear, the messenger is subjected to a smear campaign.

            Not that we didn’t already know that.

          • Um, no offense, but what’s he supposed to explain? If he gave events a 30% chance of happening, and they happened…was he wrong?

            I just flipped heads, heads, heads — do I need to examine my coin to make sure it’s not rigged?

            Forecasting events is, well — all about probabilities. 70-30 odds tells you which way to bet, but, well…30% of the time it’s gonna be 30%, you know?

            He’s not saying “I’m 80% sure Obama will win the election” — he’s stating that, based on the current polling, Obama wins 80% of the trial runs. (The runs themselves are based on a bunch of stuff, which he goes into in depth).

            He can’t — and doesn’t bother trying — to account for last minute events, for sudden surges, or anything else. ALL he does is aggregate polls (polls he doesn’t take) and weight them according to a variety of things (including past performance but mostly by electoral college votes and by ageing out older polls) and run them through a large number of simulations while varying the results a bit to simulate polling inaccuracy.

            He’s a stats geek — back when he did baseball, he couldn’t say “The A’s will win tomorrow” but he could say “The A’s have a 70% chance of winning this series of games” and be pretty reliable.

          • Morat,

            I’m not fluent in polling or analyzing polls. Let me get that out of the way. But it seems to me that political races are a more sui generis than baseball games. You have a whole season to average out the anomalies in baseball. You only get one election. If you’re wrong in predicting an election, I don’t think you can chalk it up to an anomaly – I think it means you missed or misjudged something.

            So if Silver predicted Republicans only had a 30% chance of winning 60+ seats in 2010 and they won 64, I don’t think Silver gets to say that fits his prediction unless he’s saying that if you had the same election two more times Republicans would have won less than 60 seats each time. To bring it back to sports, I think it would be fair to say that. For example, if you predict the Oakland A’s have only a 30% chance to beat the Anaheim Angels and the A’s won, you could chalk that up to one pitcher having a great game, for instance, and maintain that in their next two matchups, the A’s will lose.

            But as I say, I’m fluent in this stuff, so I’m prepared to be enlightened.

          • The best way of putting it is: You’re looking at it wrong. Probably a lot of people are, but that’s not exactly Nate’s fault as he rather exhaustively explains it over and over.

            But people like certainty. They don’t really deal, day in and day out, with probabilty the way stats people do. (I have, to a small extent, due to some of the jobs I’ve done. Nothing like Nate. Kiddie pool stuff, basically, so low-level a single semester of stats and a bit of hand-holding was enough to do it, but enough that I can think the right way).

            Nate’s not predicting winners or losers the way you think. He’s not even doing what you think.

            I guess the best way of looking at it is as follows:

            There exists, here and now, a universe of polls, right? State polls and national polls, of various types from various pollsters, giving all sorts of numbers that are represenative of the population as a whole to one degree or other. (Margin of Error becomes important). This is basic stats stuff — how samples relate to populations and what the limits are, and how they can be run together. (Important note: Margin of Error is misunderstood in general. MoE is a range that encompasses 95% of a bell curve. The probabilities are FAR higher that the ‘true’ value is nearer the reported numbers than further from it. So if Obama is at 47 with a 3 point MoE, he is most likely at 46, 47 or 48. Less likely at 45 and 49. Least likely at 44 or 50. But 95% of the time, the ‘true’ value is between 44 and 50. But it’s a bell curve, so like 60% of the time it’s between 46 and 48ish. )

            These polls are…tiny snapshots that can be extrapolated out to an entire election. State polls to judge how electoral votes go, national polls for popular votes, and the two are related a bit but not entirely. (Romney winning Texas by 20 points is not nearly as pertinent as Romney winning Ohio by 1).

            Now say you want more — you want to see how polls are changing, you want to see how elections might play out. Some people average national polls (which doesn’t eliminate margin of error but changes it).

            But again — polls have MoE’s. They’re not exact. So how do you express in probabilities an aggregate of polls, for 50 states and then again as a single unified electoral result?

            Well, there’s a way. And that’s basically what Nate does. The simplest way of looking at it is he takes the current polls in the field, does a bit of weighting and aging (he’s transparent about that and doesn’t change it), and then does a nifty little thing you don’t care about that expresses the probability of a given outcome. State by state. Overall. Even working out the universe of scenarios to determine which states are likely to be pivital when the votes come in.

            He’s not “predicting” Obama will win Ohio 82% of the time (or whatever today’s number is). He’s saying that taking the current universe of Ohio polls that fit X criteria (generally freshness), the results of these polls and their margin of errors, the universe of possible results has Obama ahead 82% of the time.

            Imagine a vast matrix, populated with all the current polls and their error bars, and imagine you can see every possible variation of every current poll. Each result, the bell curve of their errors, all thrust together. He’s basically saying 82% of those cells in the matrix have Obama ahead, and 28% have Romney ahead. Which of those cells is the “true” value at the moment, which universe the voters would actually pick if they voted instantly, he can’t and doesn’t say.

            It’s deeper than poll averaging, in the sense that he’s getting down into a more complex layer of stats that can express the possibilities better.

            Now, there are things you can disagree with — he does weight polls in a number of ways (although to his credit he does not alter his model during the election season and he documents it openly. It is what it is). You can even quibble with the polls themselves, or even the idea of polling.

            But all Nate did, in the end, was work out an aging model for polls (when to retire a poll as out of date), a bit of weighting by historical accuracy (Gallup is weighted pretty heavily, even though Nate notes Gallup tends to be VERY wrong when it’s out of consensus, but he’s not altering the weights), and a lot of nifty math that exists purely to express what a dozen seperate polls with different MoE’s all thrown together really say, and the probabilities associated with it.

            It is a useful, useful tool. But it’s dependent on pollsters doing their job correctly (at least in aggregate) and it’s not prediction.

            It’s the difference between saying “the odds on a fair coin are 50/50” and “my next flip will be heads, I’m sure of it”. Only considerable more complex. (You know, if the odds on the coin weren’t fifty-fifty but variable and your measurements of the odds had an MoE and nobody agreed fully on the answer, so you had lots of somewhat similar answers with different MoE’s. The answer is fuzzier).

          • Yeah. I know a guy who worked over the “possibilities” for the BP Disaster. What Nate’s doing is relatively solid stuff, in comparison. (You try running the statistics on “probability all this oil goes airborne, and is carried up the east coast by the wind… — the weather’s the easy part).

          • In other words, he’s only predicting what the results of the election would be if it were held today, correct? He does that by constructing a model that assimilates/aggregates/weights/etc all the existing polls out there. That’s in line with my understanding. Statisticians don’t have any data about what’s going to happen between when a poll is taken and the election, so fair enough.

            But if it’s a “useful” tool as you say, then it should be able to “predict,” shouldn’t it? With some qualifications, of course. I mean, if the polls on November 1 say Obama is ahead 82% of the time, and then he loses on November 6, then there are only a few logical explanations: (1) an intervening event in between 11/1 and 11/6; (2) the polls were junk; or (3) the model is junk.

          • Yep. But that’s all polls do. They take current samples and extrapolate.

            And as to your second: Um, no. 18% chances happen 18% of the time. Just because I flip heads four times in a row doesn’t make my coin an unfair one.

            As to Nate’s model — you can criticize polling in general (“all it does is interview a represenative sample and see how they’d vote! It’s not predicting the future!”), or you can criticize the way he weights stuff, but the probability stuff?

            All that is, well and truly, is a different and rather efficient way of handling all that MoE from multiple polls in a more readable format. FAR superior to that freaking “47-44 with 3 point MoE, TIED RACE” crap which is utterly, utterly, utterly wrong. (Seriously, it’s HORRIBLY wrong. 46-46 is a tie. 47-44 with a 3 point MoE is most certainly not a tie, either in the poll or in all liklihood on the ground. It’s the polling Monty Hall problem, in terms of “what it means” versus “what people think it means”)

            People aren’t comfortable with uncertainty. You aren’t — if there’s an 18% chance of an event happening, 18 times out of 100 it will happen even with an absolutely perfect model. Yet you immediately jump to “it’s wrong”. People don’t internalize probability very well.

            One reason Vegas is rich. 999,999 people pull a slot machine and lose. One guy wins. That guy didn’t win because the machine was rigged for him, or the odds on the machine were wrong. 1 out of a million wins. 2 million people pull the same machine and NO one wins. Again, doesn’t mean the machine is rigged.

            That’s just probability for you.

          • I suspect your next response is “Then what’s the point”.

            Well, bluntly — 82% is still the way to bet. But if it ain’t 100%, it ain’t certain.

            Read Nate for what it is. A clever way of aggregating polls so you get an actual, human-readable % for who is ahead and how mathematically likely that lead is correct versus the entire population.

            And for the same thing, nation-wide — 50 states done that way for the electoral college.

            As for 2010 — don’t forget, in polling quantity is almost as important as quality. Presidential years see far more frequent, larger, and more reliable polls. And models like Nate’s work better with more data. Nature of the beast.

          • Morat, what still gets me are statements like “18% chances happen 18% of the time.” That’s true but not useful. The 2010 congressional election happened only once. The 2012 presidential election will happen only once. It’s puzzling to talk in those terms when it comes to sui generis events like an election. It makes this sort of thing unverifiable. “If Romney wins contra Silver’s models, don’t worry, Obama is still favored to win next time.” So my question remains: If Silver was wrong in 2010, shouldn’t we insist on an explanation?

            The way I’ve always understood probability is it’s just a rough way of estimating how much what we don’t know could affect outcomes. A coin flip is not 50/50. It is 100% predictable given we have all the relevant information, e.g., about weight, the precise force and angle of the flip, atmospherics, etc. But we don’t usually have that info, so we just say “we know there are two sides of the coin, one flip divided by two sides is .50, so let’s go with it.”

            Let’s say an engineer builds a very precise coin flipper and claims he can make it flip a coin and land with the same side face up as when it was flipped with 90% accuracy. The first flip comes up with the opposite side face up. Before we can do the second test, an earthquake opens up the ground and swallows the machine. Was the engineer’s 90% claim correct? Who the hell knows? It was unverifiable, as it turned out. The only way to continue to assert the claim would be to explain why it came up tails in that instance, explain the kinds of information and variables he was not able to take into account that affected the flip.

          • The answer to your questions aren’t with Nate’s models — they’re with the polls that underly it.

            Look, go to the classic bag of marbles example. 20 marbles in a bag, 14 red, 6 blue. Before drawing, I can tell you the odds are 70% red, 30% blue on a random, blind draw. If I draw a blue, is my model wrong? Of course not!

            Does it mean my model has no predictive power? Of course not! Even if I only draw one time, the model is still accurate and the odds were STILL 70/30.

            Nate’s doing the same thing. Except Ohio, in this case, holds between 20 and 30 marbles. And ten different people have sampled the bag and given different total marble numbers and mixes, with error bars on bell curve.

            All he does is take all that mess and convert it to raw probabilities. The math just isn’t as simple as one bag with a known marble mix. He can give you odds on drawing a given marble from that mix. But in the end, you still draw the marble and find out.

            Setting aside Nate’s weighting of models (pretend he doesn’t, for the moment) there is ONE basic question you need to ask: Is polling, in general, accurate?

            If it is, then Nate’s model can’t exactly be right or wrong. He’s just playing some math games to express a group of polls results in an easier to read way, without changing the numbers. At all.

            I mean that quite literally. Other than the weighting of polls, ALL he does is some standard (if interesting) stats stuff to express a cloud of polls as a single unified result. And writes a blog post on it, and then talks numbers ’cause he likes numbers.

          • You know, I guess to sum up — I think you’re asking more from statistics than you can actually get. I mean:

            “It’s puzzling to talk in those terms when it comes to sui generis events like an election.”

            Drawing a single marble from a bag happens only once. does that means the odds for drawing a given color are wrong? A single hand of poker?

            LOTS of things only happen once. It’s quite possible to create odds on them. (Vegas does it for every sporting event like, you know, ever). No, in hindsight you cannot take the result and claim the precalcuated odds were wrong just because the result was low-probability. You have to dissect the model. Mathematically.

            That’s statistics for you. I can draw marbles out of a bag all day long, but as long as I replace the marble each time, the odds never change no matter WHAT results I get.

            In a stats course, there’s actually a bit of a lengthy discussion on singular events, odds, and the like. The part you’re struggling with is the part most stats students struggle with. Only they’re doing so over simple examples, like coin flips or bags of marbles, not a rather complex example involving multiple inputs with their own error bars rolled up in a Monte Carlo method.

            It really is hard for people to grasp. I wasn’t really joking about the Monty Hall problem. (If you haven’t encountered it, avoid it. It’s just a big old headache). A LOT of early stats is learning that all those common-sense and gut human instincts for statistics are, in fact, dead wrong and should be tossed. (Vegas makes lots of cash on the fact that most people don’t know that, though)

            Short answer: Nate could very well be wrong. His model could be HORRIBLE. But because a 30% chance hit in 2010 doesn’t mean it is. At all. It’s simply worthless as proof. (Unless he predicted a 0% chance). In fact, statistically speaking, it’s not even suggestive the model is wrong. (Not kidding. Statisticians have tests and stuff that compare results to predictions to give probabilities that their probabilities were wrong. Statistics is often fuzzy).

            I can tell you this: His stats model isn’t wrong. His weighting might be wrong (that’s quite subjective), but I’m pretty confidant the bit where he turns polls into probabilties — the actual math that yields things like “18%” or “30%” is dead on. If you think there’s a mistake because that 30% hit (which it will, a third of the time), then you need to look to the base polls or the weighting Nate uses.

          • Morat,

            Thanks for the discussion. I guess we’re talking from opposite camps. Not political camps. I mean, you’re looking at it from a statitician’s perspective. I’m looking at it from a political consumer’s perspective. Silver build a 90%-accurate coinflipper that only flips a coin once. Engineers might marvel at it, but if that coin flip comes out wrong, it’s going to have very limited appeal to anyone else.

            That’s not a dig at Nate Silver at all. 2008 comported with his model, 2010 didn’t. For statisticians, maybe the actual election isn’t even interesting. But it’s damn interesting to everyone else, and if Silver intends on being persuasive to political consumers rather than statisticians only, he’d need to worry about comporting the outputs of his model to the outputs of the actual election. Maybe that’s an unfair task to put to a statistician.

            “Well-well look. I already told you: I deal with the god damn customers so the engineers don’t have to. I have people skills; I am good at dealing with people. Can’t you understand that? What the hell is wrong with you people?”

            But it still seems to me that someone has to. Otherwise, on what basis does any non-statistician decide to follow one statistician over another when they disagree?

          • Also, from Wikipedia’s entry on Nate Silver:

            “The accuracy of his November 2008 presidential election predictions—he correctly predicted the winner of 49 of the 50 states—won Silver further attention and commendation.”


            If the fact that his 2008 predictions were largely accurate is responsible for the “attention and commendation” he received, should predictions that didn’t pan out have some effect too? I do understand your point: 2008 could have gone otherwise and Silver’s model might still have been mathematically pure or whatever. But fame and branding and credibility are fickle things. He got those things for being right. There’s a countervailing effect when things go the other way.

          • Actually, you’re complaining that the statistician is acting like a statistician and not a pundit. 🙂

            If a poll says the election is 49-47 with a two point MoE and the results are 50-46, do you complain the pollster is totally wrong? Of course not! It’s in the MoE! You don’t complain that it’s pointless to do polls, because there’s only the one election.

            But all that MoE is is a probability. That the results will between between 47-49 and 51-45 95% of the time. But what’s that MEAN in an election that happens only once?

            You can express 49-47 with a 2 point MoE as a probability of one candidate winning, easily enough. (Rough guess — 80% or so. Nate could give you the accurate number). They’re mathematically identical. Same thing, said two different ways. Literally. Like “2” and “square root of 4” are the same thing.

            You seem to accept one and get confused by the other.

            All Nate does is run a poll aggregator with weighting, then convert from two numbers with an MoE to a straight up %. But the numbers are the same. I suspect if he just reported “Ohio, 49-47 Obama with a 2 point MoE” you’d not have a problem. Even if Ohion ended up 47-49 with Romney on top. You’d said “it was in the margin of error”.

            Same deal if it’s Ohio 80% Obama. If it goes Romney, well, there was a 20% chance. It was in the margin of error.

          • Whether you believe Silver’s model or not, his current conclusions are reasonable.

            Consider, if Obama wins the states that Dems have won 5 times in a row (a pretty reasonable possibility), then he has a base of 242 EVs. Nevada and NM both look pretty likely to swing his way, even according to predictors with admitted conservative bias, so that brings it to 253 EVs.

            With that, consider the ways he could get to 270:

            Win FL – less than 40% probability according to Silver, but polls may be under counting Latinos or underestimating just how torqued off (and therefore motivated) minority voters are because of the various purge efforts by the GOP Gov.

            Win OH – Somewhat more likely, but still less than 3 out of 4 chance, so less than certain. Again, based on accuracy of polls.

            Win VA + IA or CO – higher number of likelihoods to evaluate, but better than 60% chance, i.e., more likely to happen than not to happen.

            Win CO+IA+NH – least likely scenario, although he may win any of these in combination with the above to get over 270

            So 5 options to get to the bare minimum of 270. Of these, two are more likely to happen to not to happen. If none of them happen, that doesn’t mean that the above analysis is wrong – it just means that the less likely outcome occurred.

            Although in my job we try for much higher rates of certainty, it’s rather like design. Using properties from a Mil-handbook, I can say with 98% certainly that a material will not fail under a given load. We still build in other safety factors though, because that 2% possibility may still show its ugly face…

          • ” But fame and branding and credibility are fickle things. He got those things for being right. There’s a countervailing effect when things go the other way.”

            There’s the old joke about sending a hundred people a prediction that the market will finish up, and a hundred people a prediction that it will finish down. Whichever it did, split that group in half, and send fifty a prediction that it will finish up and fifty a prediction that it will finish down. Do that three more times, and then tell the six people for whom you were right every time and say “okay, I’ve been right five times in a row, performance doesn’t lie, invest with my company”.

          • That’s what gambling services do with their “free picks”. Start with 100 folks and after two games you have 25 who’ve see you go 2-for-2 and are ready to invest. Of course, it only works if those folks have no idea what you are telling other folks. Silver doesn’t have that advantage.


            The great war between people who write about politics for a living is not between liberals and conservatives, but between humanities majors and math nerds, and their battleground is currently the validity of Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight election prediction model…

            In terms of fame, what I find interesting is that everyone focuses on Silver when Wang has a somewhat better record over the last two elections. But then his model also gives Obama a relatively high probability of winning. In fact, Silver is neither an outlier nor a prophet – he’s if anything right in the middle of the pack among the people making odds/predictions:


          • It’s a lot more like him building a series of once-tested fixed-probability coin flippers, each of which is unique but which can be examined in the aggregate to see if there’s something to his design. If things with a Nate Silver Probability of 30% appear to happen 60% of the time over the long haul, that’s good evidence that his model is wrong. But I don’t think we’re nearly there yet.

            Sports models are probably the best analogy because every sporting event is individually unique, but the whole system can be modeled in a way that the sports odds makers can make a living. The trick to figuring out of somebody’s model is more or less correct is to watch it over the long run. There aren’t a lot of elections, so it takes a while to build up a portfolio of successes. From what I can see, Nate Silver is doing a pretty good job by doing very reasonable statistical work, especially when compared to people who read tea leaves and think that this stuff is “an art.”

            Anybody who does control and estimation theory can tell you that somebody who knows stats can do amazing things with a series of noisy measurements of the same underlying system. That’s all this is. Noisy measurements are notorious for generating superstition in the absence of statistical rigor. I’m fairly certain that concepts like “momentum” are largely measurement artifacts created by analysts who are prone to those sorts of superstition, just like people who believe that they’re “hot” at the craps table. If we’re interpreting data, give me the statistician over the fortune teller in the long run.

          • Good comment. And that’s a good point about momentum. I particularly liked Silver’s view of the semantics of that term as it’s conventionally used in election forecasting.

          • What happened to the threading?? My earlier comment was in response to Troublesome Frog, fwiw.

          • I’m not certain that momentum is a totally artificial phenomenon, but I do know that a lot of poll results are averaged with recent results to smooth the time series. There’s a piece of your momentum right there.

          • Nate does have info on what will happen. it’s called econ data, regression to mean, yadda yadda.
            he does both a nowcast and an 11/06 cast.

          • Tim,

            Think of it as a sport statistician predicting the outcome of a college football game. Like the presidential election, each one happens only once. If a statistician predicts the game wrongly, does that mean his model is wrong? In that case, every sports statisticians’ model is wrong, because none of them are 100% accurate.

            But if you were a gambler, would you ignore all sports statisticians’ predictions because none of them are 100% right? Or would you learn which ones are right more often and pay more attention to them (give them more weight) than the ones that are right less often?

            Essentially what oddsmakers are doing is making probability estimates of team X beating team Y, just as Silver is making probability estimates of politician X beating politician Y. Neither event’s outcome can be known with absolute certainty ahead of time (except in unusual cases, like the Oregon Ducks playing the Colorado Buffaloes, or LBJ v. Goldwater). Upsets–outcomes that didn’t have the odds in their favor–happen sometimes. The statisticians don’t fail because they didn’t call an upset right (and their models aren’t proven useful by getting any single game/election right). They fail if they get too many predictions wrong, and their value is demonstrated by getting lots of predictions right (basically, more than most of the other guys is all you really need for success).

          • Neither event’s outcome can be known with absolute certainty ahead of time (except in unusual cases, like the Oregon Ducks playing the Colorado Buffaloes…

            Was this really necessary?

          • As Ben Franklin said of deism: “I began to suspect that this doctrine, though it might be true, was not very useful.”

          • Wait, what? A thirty percent chance came true? What are the odds?.

            Give me a minute, I know this one …

          • I really should retreat to my basic: “Do you understand the Monty Hall problem?” quiz for “Should I engage in conversation that involves statistics” filter.

            Or at least: “If I flip a coin four times in a row, and it comes up heads every time, what are the odds that the next flip is heads?”.

          • Nay, retreat to GIGO: There’s nothing behind any of the doors except garbage, but go ahead and pick one anyway.

          • Or at least: “If I flip a coin four times in a row, and it comes up heads every time, what are the odds that the next flip is heads?”.

            Are we assuming it’s a fair coin? If not, I’m going with “100%”.

          • Here’s something I’ve always wondered about. The fact that a fair coin will turn up heads with a probability of 50% is determined by the fact that if such a coin was flipped a whole bunch of times it would turn out that exactly half of those flips were heads. That’s the metaphysics underlying the probability, right? From those a posteriori metaphysics we construct a “law” such that we are justified a priori in predicting a 50% heads-rate on a fair coin flip – and that’s how we get the epistomological claim that we can know that the next time a coin is flipped, the probability it will be heads is 50% independently of anything that happened in the past.

            So … suppose a scenario in which a coin is flipped and comes up heads say, 800,000 times in a row. What’s the probability that the next flip will be heads? A priori, based on the “law” we’ve constructed, the correct answer is 50%. But based on the a posteriori evidence which justifies the law, what has happened is so far outside the realm of our prior experience that it becomes increasingly unlikely that the pattern can continue without a revision of the law which determines our a priori judgment about coin-flip probabilities. So at that point, given a series of events that in effect violates the laws we’re committed to, doesn’t our epistemological commitment to those laws require us to say that the probability of heads for the next flip in that scenario is less than 50%?

          • There’s something to this, stillwater, something about metaphysical precommitments. Might come back around to this sometime. Thanks for sharing it.

          • A “fair coin” is defined as one which has an equal chance of heads or tails. We observe this by seeing that, if the coin is flipped a sufficient number of times, the probability of heads becomes close to 50%. If there’s any hidden assumption, it’s that each flip is undetermined until it occurs, rather than there being Someone or Something that determines heads or tails for each flip but just happens to make them equally likely.

            If a coin comes up heads 800,000 times in a row, it doesn’t appear to be a fair one.

          • Silver’s model is decidedly pro Obama on that front, in line with his personal politics.

            If only we could fuel cars on implications of liberal bias.

          • I once tried to explain to a particularly resistant fellow the Monty Hall program — he was a fellow coder, so I ended up simulating one million trials (took about 30 minutes to write the code, about 4 seconds to spit up the answer).

            Of course, I was right and he was wrong. He didn’t buy that either. He wrote his own version, and spent a solid week trying to figure out “where he messed up” on the coding before breaking down and deciding it was not, in fact, 50/50.

            As for GIGO, Tom, that may be. But complaining that he’s wrong because an event with a 30% chance happened, well — that’s just mathematical stupidity. Criticize his model all you want — heck, for all I care join the unskewed poll guy and badmouth his looks.

            But don’t stand there and offer “He said the odds of X were less than 30%, and then X happened, he’s so innaccurate!”. Because if you think that’s a cogent argument, you need to stop discussing anything that involves statistics. Because you sorta failed the kiddie level on it.

          • Regarding GIGO, we see another misunderstanding of statistics. If the errors of the polls are not all in the same direction, but roughly balance each other out, then even though there’s garbage going in, we have good data coming out.

          • RCP, which is Republican leaning*, has Obama winning in their no toss-ups model.

            * They had CA going to Bush in 2000 and said he would get between 340 and over 400 EVs in 2000.

  2. I really would like to believe that Republicans are something other than a bunch of bigoted, partisan hypocrites, but that would require closing my eyes to all evidence.

  3. Can you offer evidence of Obama’s incompetence? The dishonesty I get; even if I don’t necessarily agree with the assessment of the evidence, I know the pieces that folks will point to.

    But incompetent? That is a very different charge. And at times it is hard to rectify with folks (not necessarily you) who claim that Obama is secretly and successfully plotting to run the country into the ground or whatever conspiracy theories they cook up. It is hard to be both incompetent and a successful conspirator. But what are some examples of things he’s done or hasn’t done that point toward his incompetence? And, perhaps before we answer that, we should define what we mean by “incompetence” with respect to a sitting President (e.g., I don’t think we can simply look at legislation he tried or hoped to see pass but which didn’t, because there are a great number of factors entirely out of his control that impact that… but that’s just what *I* think).

    • Kazzy, it’s hardly worth the effort to chronicle BHO’s failures because hopefully he’ll be de-elected in a few days.

      My problems w/him began when left key posts at Treasury unfilled in the middle of a financial crisis. I think his selection of the vastly underqualified Hillary for State was a joke [think her “reset” with the russians embarrassment], a prime example of how BHO plays politics over substance.

      His signature Obamacare achievement was farmed out to Reid and Pelosi, and is an incoherent thousand-page mess that gives more power to HHS than a king should have.

      And of course sitting on his hands when Iran’s Green Movement–the best hope for a non-nuclear Iran—was crushed by the mullahs. And that’s just from the first 2 years. He’s not only been a poor leader vis-a-vis Congress, Bob Woodward’s book shows he actually hindered the deal that Reid and Boehner were working out.

      And of course the economy. His ideology is “fairness” and redistribution, but growth–which is Romney’s message–is the only thing that’ll put people back to work.

      I can’t bear the thought of another 4 years of this misery. Only a few days to go, inshallah.

      • but growth–which is Romney’s message–is the only thing that’ll put people back to work.

        Tom, corporate America is, and has been, sitting shitloads of money, money that … they aren’t reinvesting in America! When you talk about growth ala Romney, you’re talking about a theory that if you allow the “job creators” to keep more of their money by cutting their taxes, they’ll be more inclined to “create jobs” (because that’s what they do!). But the theory is shot all to hell by the empirical evidence.

        • No, they’re scared of investing because their top tax rate by go up by 3.6 percent and marginally probably go up .5 a percent. These Galtian Heroes have been shut down by the terroristic threat from the Obama administration they might only have 100 billion dollars in the bank next year instead of 103!

          • Obama’s obsession with raising the taxes on the rich will raise ~75B. We have a trillion dollar deficit. So add his being crap at math to the incompetence list.

          • That is immaterial to the point that corporations are hoarding cash and I’ve been told on this site it’s due to “uncertainty” over tax rates and regulations.

            If it’s only 75B out of a couple of trillion, why do companies care?

      • His signature Obamacare achievement was farmed out to Reid and Pelosi,

        Now I’m irritated by your hypocrisy and lying, Tom. You’re on record as saying that the democratic legislative process is of paramount and necessary importance for the preservation of the American Way. And now you’re criticizing Obama for “farming out” his health care plan to … the legislative process.

        And of course, I only say this because I’m impulsive and lack personal restraint. I have no expectation that you’ll recognize the blatant inconsistencies and obvious contradictions you embrace if further your “partisan-ness”.

        • As usual, Democrat’s can’t win. When Hillary tried to run ClintonCare out of her office, “WHY AREN’T DEMOCRAT’S TRUSTING THE INTEGRITY OF THE LEGISLATIVE PROCESS!!!W!1!!!w!”

          When Obama say, “Harry and Nancy, get this done,” we get, “WHY IS OBAMA LETTING THE CORRUPT CONGRESS CREATE HIS SIGNATURE ACHIEVEMENT!!!@W1!@!@!@!@!”

          • Well, that’s because it’s an apriori truth for some folks that Democrats suck. Even when they do exactly what the GOP and conservatives would do, it still sucks. Those policies got liberal germs on em. Ick!

        • Goodbye, Mr. Stillwater. I won’t delete your comment, but you have lost your place at the grownup table.

          • The grown up table? Is that the table where people get to change the principles underlying their criticisms of the opposed political party at convenience?

            I don’t sit there, Tom. So depriving me of the privilege isn’t really gonna change anything.

          • Oh, and thanks for not deleting my comment. That’s big of ya! I mean, you could either show where I’m wrong in that comment, let it stand as is, or delete it.

            You’ve chosen – magnanimously! – to not delete it. But you haven’t responded to it, either. So I guess it stands.

          • The grown up table is composed of credit card companies, where TVD is from.

      • “Only a few days to go, inshallah.”

        You realize that regardless of the results of the election in a week and a half, Barack Obama is still president at least until 11:59 EST Jan 2013, right?

      • My problems w/him began when left key posts at Treasury unfilled in the middle of a financial crisis. I think his selection of the vastly underqualified Hillary for State was a joke [think her “reset” with the russians embarrassment], a prime example of how BHO plays politics over substance.

        Republicans obstructed every nominee he put forward. Every single one.

        His signature Obamacare achievement was farmed out to Reid and Pelosi, and is an incoherent thousand-page mess that gives more power to HHS than a king should have.

        So you approve of the Bush/Cheney policy of having private industry write legislation and feeding it to Congress? Isn’t crafting legislation Congress’s constitutional duty?

        And of course sitting on his hands when Iran’s Green Movement–the best hope for a non-nuclear Iran—was crushed by the mullahs.

        He supported (verbally) the green movement. Would you have had him invade? Funnel arms into the country in spite of arms sanctions? Then you’d be hollering and bellowing that he broke international law.

        he actually hindered the deal that Reid and Boehner were working out.

        Are you referring to the budget deal, the one that would have averted the sequester? That wasn’t Reid that Boehner was negotiating with; it was Obama.

        His ideology is “fairness” and redistribution, but growth–which is Romney’s message–is the only thing that’ll put people back to work.

        And how is Romney going to create growth? He hasn’t told us. (Lest you get all venture capital-y on me, I’ve a lot of experience with the industry, friends with many in it, participant as an investor, family funds, etc.; so you’v gotta say something real here, not blow some BS when Romney’s VC business experience is more akin to the Time Bandits,, looting the decline of once-successful companies, and adding to the over-leveraged balance sheets that actually brought about our economic collapse.

        You are entitled to your opinions. But every single thing you’ve pointed out here is pure fantasy and BS. You’re supposed to be a smart guy. At least have the courage to say it’s nothing but a popularity contest; without policy considered in any way.

          • I think Zic’s comment deserves a more substantive response than this.

          • Kazzy, I gave her the last word, with thanks for behaving civilly. IMO, she didn’t make much of a dent in the case against re-election. If I thought she had, I’d have availed myself of my right to a rebuttal. [And she in return, and so on and so on and…]

            I make my case, she makes hers, and it all doesn’t have to end in calling each other liars. I thought it was all pretty righteous.

          • Oh, yes. But I saw her asked questions and raise objections, the response to which I would have liked to see. But that’s just my POV. You certainly have no obligation.

          • FTR, Kazzy, her rebuttal steered around my strongest arguments and nibbled on the extremities of the less strong ones. Starting with giving Hillary the State Dept. She’s less incompetent than Obama himself, but still incompetent.

            I don’t care how many countries she visited as First Lady, it’s not much better than visiting EPCOT. Condi Rice was a Russia and Russian scholar, and never would have sent that not-only-jejune, but mistranslated “RESET” button.

            “It should be “perezagruzka” [the Russian word for reset],” said Lavrov.”This says ‘peregruzka,’ which means ‘overcharged.’”

            I write this stuff only to solicit out strong and valid counterarguments. I know one when I see one. Sometimes I hear a good one and issue a rebuttal. Sometimes I even hear a better one and change my mind.

            Which one? It’s been a long time. Probably Al Gore wearing “earth tones.” That was crap.

            Oh yeah, Obama “killing” our manned space program. We all killed it. Unfair to lay it @ Obama’s feet—although on the other hand, he could have exerted leadership on it.

            Me, I’ll confess–until something changes about our still-1970s technology, I’m fine with the robots. If Sen. Walter Mondale can be blamed for killing Apollo’s last scheduled missions to collect more rocks, I’m inclined to admit he was right, that the money be better spent on Earth, a difficult confession for a gentleperson like meself.

            I mean, at my house we watch our DVD of From the Earth to the Moon thrice a year and every Discovery Channel “When We Left the Earth” whatever that crosses our remote’s Pass/Fail. So I’ll defend President Obama on that one.

            Not on a lot of the other issues although there are others. And as President Romney said, attacking me is not an agenda. So too, attacking TVD is not a defense of Barack Obama’s presidency. Respekt to those who attempted the latter rather than the former. That would be the reason for gathering here together.

            Re the OP, I really did like us electing a black president in light of our shameful racial history. But we will only be free when we can fire one too.

          • Tom, you’ve sunk to a new low.

            her rebuttal steered around my strongest arguments and nibbled on the extremities of the less strong ones.

            I replied to a comment; an answer toKazzy about why Obama was incompetent; Kazzy, it’s hardly worth the effort to chronicle you said. Then you somehow mustered the effort to chronicle why Obama shouldn’t be re-elected; you gave a list.

            I replied to every single point on that list.

            Perhaps the reason it’s ‘hardly worth the effort’ is because it is hard; it would require you to question your own assumptions more then you’re comfortable with, for the list you bothered to put together had nothing to do with Obama and everything to do with Republican talking points about Obama.

            These are not the same thing.

            And then you accuse me of not rebutting you because I didn’t address Clinton as SOC, but she wasn’t one of his list of incompetencies.

            Why don’t you actually try addressing my rebuttals instead of dismissing them with the false assertion I didn’t address you? I did. Point by point. I can provide supporting evidence, links, and more. But you can only try and change the subject because you can’t be bothered?

          • Not really, Zic. The usual bleat blaming the GOP for Treasury, even though the Dems had a filibuster-proof majority. Nothing on Hillary at State. Another excuse for the abomination that is the Obamacare bill. Ignoring the Woodward book’s account of Obama inserting himself into a negotiating process that was working without him. I don’t want to be in your face, but I found your rebuttal thin. I’d have preferred to let it stand on its own merits without going to war over it, but I was called out, so I gave my assessment.

            You had your say, and that’s what it’s all about. Since this thread is nearly all Obama supporters or apologists, I’m sure a vote would say you won. So congratulations.


      • And of course sitting on his hands when Iran’s Green Movement–the best hope for a non-nuclear Iran—was crushed by the mullahs.

        ???????? The Green Movement was protesting a rigged election, not trying to overthrow the state. Their leaders also stated – and Daniel Larison covered it extensively – that they did not want American help or even expressions of good will as it would undermine their cause. And they also were not opposed to a nuclear Iran. Sites:

        Daniel Larison is not a lefty, so TVD doesn’t have to worry about that. Oppose Obama if you want but it really doesn’t help your case if you’re basing it on American wishful thinking rather than on what happened.

        • Larison is the left’s favorite righty, esp @ LoOG. I don’t see him cited much on my side of the aisle. Pat Buchanan’s “American Conservative” site/magazine is quite a mixed bag. [Buchanan left the GOP years ago. Some righties still like him. I don’t.]

          As to your contention:

          During their brutally suppressed protests in 2009, Iranian freedom fighters sent the White House an urgent memo calling for help. Under Obama, America ignored it.
          ‘So now, at this pivotal point in time, it is up to the countries of the free world to make up their mind,” Iranian opposition leaders told the Obama administration in an eight-page memo in 2009. “Will they continue on the track of wishful thinking and push every decision to the future until it is too late, or will they reward the brave people of Iran and simultaneously advance the Western interests and world peace.”

          Read More At IBD:

          But I thank you for your good manners. Principled disagreement is welcome here, the rest not so much as I believe it feeds into the “broken windows” theory, where assholiness just encourages more of the same.

          • I think its hilarious when conservative frantically grasp at any historical counterfactual to throw at Obama.

            He opposed Mubarack in Egypt, and they were outraged at abandoning an ally.
            Until it became apparent that the decision was a good one, then they are outraged that he gives a cold shoulder to the Arab Spring.

            Until it becomes apparent that the Muslim Brotherhood is gaining power in Egypt, then they are outraged that he allowed Islamists to take over.

            Someday Cleek will get a Nobel prize for his brilliant formulation.

            Conservatism=The inverse of Obama, updated daily.

          • I’m not laughing at any of this, Mr. Attitude. Not even that gal comparing Obama-voting to losing her virginity.

            To your point, it was my own and original thought at the time that throwing Mubarak in a jail cell was a bad idea, for the very thought that the young liberals who Twittered and precipitated the uprising were disorganized, and would lose out to an already-organized Muslim Brotherhood in the interregnum.

            Silly me.

          • Kazzy, when democracy = mob rule, hell yeah it scares the shit out of me, as it’s scared every sane man in history!

            We need to talk. 😉

          • it was my own and original thought at the time that throwing Mubarak in a jail cell was a bad idea

            Well the Egyptian people thought otherwise. So be it.

            Mubarak never should’ve had any degree of U.S. backing anyway. This history of alliances with dictators and other unsavory characters for questionable at best strategic reasons exists, yet when a choice is made overseas in a direction in conflict with current U.S. strategy we stand mouths agape going “…what?”.

          • Who decides what is scary? I’m sure there are a lot of non-Americans who look at some of our candidates and think, “SCARY!”

          • Hamas was democratically elected. Mebbe even Putin. Hugo Chavez.

            The French Revolution. The mob with torches & pitchforks and poor Boris Karloff. Socrates condemned to drink the hemlock.

            Democracy @ work, and we din’t even get to The Federalist Papers yet. Damn right it scares the shit out of me. And Kazzy, if and when Barack Obama loses the popular vote but wins the Electoral College, I’m OK with that too. I think it would result in a better government, where Barack Obama clearly has no mandate and is called to be our president and not our king.

            [The Clinton/Gingrich era was not bad, if you follow me here…]

          • Democracies vote wrong with some frequency, it turns out. Most of the time, if a proper constitution that puts reasonable limits on what goverment can do in the first place, voting wrong isn’t all that harmful.

            Most of the time.

          • “Freedom fighters”? The Green Movement did not refer to themselves as freedom fighters. This editorial refers to MEK, the terrorist group that some Americans foolishly believe is pro-democracy and that the Green Movement leaders want nothing to do with. Mir-Hossein Mousavi (remember him? the guy who “lost” the election to Ahmedinejad) on the MEK:

            The names of the leaders of the Green Movement are Mousavi and his wife Zahra Rahnavard. Your cited editorial mentions no names which should have raised your suspicions immediately. Here is a guest column by Mousavi’s spokesman in The Guardian: Here is the last paragraph:

            Previously, [Mousavi] was revolutionary, because everyone inside the system was a revolutionary. But now he’s a reformer. Now he knows Gandhi – before he knew only Che Guevara. If we gain power through aggression we would have to keep it through aggression. That is why we’re having a green revolution, defined by peace and democracy.

            Whoever those freedom fighters were, they were not Green Movement supporters.

          • Obama helped nobody. Still hasn’t. Even if you get him off on the original protest–which I don’t stipulate–he has done nothing to help the cause.

            But he did kill bin Laden. Yup, he did that.

          • TVD: I realize it’s hard for Americans to grok this but there’s NOTHING Obama or Romney or McCain or Fill-in-the-Blank can do for the Green Movement except leave them alone. If they’re going to succeed, they have to do it as an internal opposition movement. American fantasies about rushing in to help the good guys are going to have to go back in the cupboard.

          • I really love the purity tests conservative offer up to their intellectuals.

            Larison, Frum, Bartlett, Buckley — the list of conservative thinkers thrown under the bus for not hewing to the demands of Limbaugh and Norquist are frightening.

            Can you say, “Epistemic closure?”

          • DRS, I see your point and even agree up to a point. But what we can do is spotlight the regime’s oppression of the movement[s] without endorsing their agenda.

            BTW, I read a Rand thing that says the Green Movement is fairly neutered.


            The Islamic Republic has become one of the worst human rights abusers in the Middle East. The 2009 Iranian presidential election, widely perceived in Iran as fraudulent, led to a dramatic increase in Iranian state repression. Iranians who oppose the clerical-led regime are routinely harassed and jailed, often tortured, sometimes raped, and even executed. The leaders of the opposition Green Movement, including former Prime Minister Mir Hussein Mousavi, have been placed under house arrest and isolated from their families and followers. The Iranian regime has stepped up its use of force as it faces the 2013 presidential election, which could become another occasion for public demonstrations.

            Yet the Iranian regime remains vulnerable to the same domestic forces that have led to the toppling of dictatorships across the Arab world. The regime may have silenced the Green Movement’s leadership, but it has not been able to crush Iranian aspirations for a freer and more democratic form of government. Like many of their Arab neighbors, Iranians face the daily frustration and indignity bred by an increasingly repressive system. Iranian women are denied equal rights despite their educational, economic, and civic accomplishments. Iranian youth languish, bereft of the opportunities and freedoms afforded to their peers across the world. Ethnic, religious, and sexual minorities live in constant fear.

            Recent revelations of massive corruption in Iran, including banking embezzlements by people closely tied to the regime, have shown that the Islamic Republic has deviated from its self-described mission of erasing the social inequality that had existed under the monarchy. Iran today is a nation of haves and have-nots. Those with close connections to the government live in luxury, while the rest of Iran’s people endure soaring inflation and rising unemployment. Disillusionment with the regime exists even throughout Iran’s political and military circles.

            Conditions in Iran suggest that a “Persian Spring” is possible. But Iranians have not, so far, followed the footprints of the Tunisian, Egyptian, Libyan, Yemeni, and Syrian revolutionaries. The Green Movement today is divided and leaderless, and it faces an even more fundamental weakness: It seeks to preserve the very same Islamic Republic that oppresses it, complete with a constitution that empowers unelected and unaccountable governing bodies that prevent free and fair elections. The Green Movement’s inherent weaknesses, however, have not given way to the total suppression of the democracy movement in Iran. Iranians have increasingly engaged in acts of civil disobedience independent of the Green Movement and its leadership.

          • Yes, TVD, you’re right. Obama’s done nothing but arranged for increasingly harsh sanctions against Iran. What a weenie. What he should have done was chant “Bomb, bomb, bomb-bomb Iran” into an open microphone. That’s what real leaders do.

            The repression of the Iranian regime is not exactly a secret. Green Movement supporters in the country and in exile are still fighting the good fight – the real fight, I would add – for their country. This is a long game and requires an attention span longer than a four-year presidential term. You would think that Americans would have learned by now that rushing things isn’t a good idea when you’re dealing with international relations.

          • Burt said what I would have: that a Democracy is only as effective as its founding documents and the adherence to them. The problem with our history of “promoting Democracy” is that the decisions made by others weren’t always even demonstrably “wrong” or “bad”… they just weren’t what WE would have done.

  4. He defunded nonpartisan groups advocating human rights and reform in Iran. Part of failed appeasement policy.

    Cold shoulder to Arab spring.

    Fast and Furious.

    He did nothing about immigration reform or border security and mocked Arizona leaders trying to respond.

    Leading from behind.

    “i won” in 2009. Surprise that no one wanted to work with him in 2011-12.

    ATMs stole our jobs.

    Complaining about the lack of Hoover dams and Golden Gate Bridges after presiding over the largest spending spree in modern history with nothing to show for it. Projects weren’t “as shovel ready as we thought.”


    DREAM, the HHS regs, welfare exec order, and otherwise violating the separation of powers.

    Self proclaiming as the fourth best president in history in terms of legislative achievements.

    This could take a while. I’d have to get to a computer to do it justice.

    • He defunded nonpartisan groups advocating human rights and reform in Iran. Part of failed appeasement policy.

      Not sure which groups you’re referring to, but I imagine being seen as puppets of the U.S. government is anything but helpful there.

      As for “appeasement”: sanctions and threats over nuke building that there’s no solid proof is even taking place, while even if they did their max range with even conventional missiles being eastern Europe (and why would they attack them? What reason?) & Israel having nukes already dilutes the perceived threat even further…if that’s appeasement I’d hate to see what aggression looks like.

      • Actually many groups asked the US to keep away for this very reason.

        • Anonymous gave plenty of fucking support to the Iranians.
          The us government just stood out of the way.
          Good on them.

    • You forgot Solyndra.

      It’s easy to look at the failings/mistakes of a Presidency and reaffirm a predetermined conclusion about the merits of re-electing that person or even their party. It’s a different thing to compare failings between administrations and see where the chips fall on that score. If we compared the most egregious failings of Bush’s Admin with Obama’s, do you think that reflects well on Obama? If not, you know, why not?

      Personally, I think that’s why the GOP isn’t gaining greater traction in 2012: the history of their incompetence is still too fresh in people’s minds.

      • Still, i get your point. I hesitate to say any of this is dispositive of incompetence for that reason. Incompetence is subjective. A feeling that the guy doesn’t know what he’s doing, that he’s in over his head, driven primarily by ideology than leadership, consensus building, a bedrock of principle. I think W was a good leader, but didn’t have a bedrock of principle and thus was not much of a statesman. I don’t think Obama is either a good leader or a statesman. I think Romney would be similar to W: a leader but unfortunately not a statesman.

        • I’m perfectly happy Obama has done little “consensus building” with the crazy people that make up the GOP as he has. If he’d done less from the start, we’d be in a better place because maybe we wouldn’t have wasted six months on Max Baucus talking to Jon Kyl about health care.

        • “He ramrodded Obamacare through without our consent! And he is so weak and ineffectual, too!”

          • Heh. That’s about it, innit?

            {{But let’s be clear here: that isn’t a view that Tim K holds. TVD on the other hand…?}}

    • “He defunded nonpartisan groups advocating human rights and reform in Iran. Part of failed appeasement policy.

      Cold shoulder to Arab spring.”

      As b-psycho pointed out, anti-dictator groups getting their money from US sources is actually a bad thing.

      “Fast and Furious.”

      Mostly made-up scandal mostly involving long-time employees in the Justice Department.

      “He did nothing about immigration reform or border security and mocked Arizona leaders trying to respond.”

      Good, people scared of brown people killing them in the night should be mocked and Arizona leaders should be reminded the border is a federal issue, not one where they can use their predjuices to round up brown people.

      “Leading from behind.”

      Ask Osama about that. But yes, that is a right wing meme that makes no sense.

      ““i won” in 2009. Surprise that no one wanted to work with him in 2011-12.”

      Actually, the GOP held meetings on Inaguration Day on how to best stop him. In fact, as a godless liberal, my main problem with Obama is that he didn’t realize from Day One the GOP would never work with him.

      “ATMs stole our jobs.”

      Well, they kinda did. When was the last time you went into a bank to get money?

      “Complaining about the lack of Hoover dams and Golden Gate Bridges after presiding over the largest spending spree in modern history with nothing to show for it. Projects weren’t “as shovel ready as we thought.””

      I agree. The stimulus should’ve been larger with fewer tax cuts.


      Blocked by Congress.

      “DREAM, the HHS regs, welfare exec order, and otherwise violating the separation of powers.”

      All perfectly Constitutional uses of the executive branch, especially in the case of welfare, where multiple Republican Governor’s had asked the administration for waivers.

      Self proclaiming as the fourth best president in history in terms of legislative achievements.

      This could take a while. I’d have to get to a computer to do it justice.

      • “Self proclaiming as the fourth best president in history in terms of legislative achievements.”

        Well, he is the third-best President from a liberal position since WW II, so he’s got that going for him.

        • I’m not sure if simply looking at the number of tellers and the number of ATMs is the best way to really understand what’s going on.

          • “Both [Christina Romer and Larry Summers], in fact, were concerned by something the president had said in a morning briefing: that he thought that high unemployment was due to productivity gains in the economy.”
            —Ron Suskind’s Confidence Men

            The same meme spread across the economics spectrum: Scott Sumner was horrified. Mike Konczal’s reaction (on Twitter) was restrained (“This is…depressing”) by comparison.


            see also


          • Not really interested in following a bunch of links but I’ll flesh out my contention a bit more:

            – Looking simply at the number of folks employed in a given profession without adjusting for population changes is flawed.
            – Ignoring the changes in the way people consume a given service is flawed.

            If the ATM were never invented but population grew as it did and the number of folks taking advantage of a wider array of banking services evolved as it did, than I have little doubt that there would be far more tellers now than the current number.

          • Well, Kazzy, the point being that the problems with the Obama presidency are endemic, not just today’s headlines. Which is why I glossed over Benghazi here, simply using it as an opener. I knew discussing it would be useless.

            At this point, it only matters if voters think it’s yet another debit in the Barack Obama column, because for those who lean in his direction, if the major media don’t cover it, it doesn’t exist.

    • “He did nothing about immigration reform …”

      And even worse-

      “[Passed the] DREAM act”

      Obama is truly nefarious.

      • No, no, no, the only immigration reform allowed is one that makes brown people leave this country immediately, preferably led by our hero and savior Joe Arpaio.

        • Funny thing is, Joe looks a bit brown himself at times, what w/ that Arizona sun. Probably scares himself in the mirror.

    • “Cold shoulder to Arab spring.”

      Qadaffi’s shoulders are definitely at room temperature now. And I imagine Hosni Mubarak is a bit chillier in whatever bed he’s resting in compared to the Presidential Palace.

      • And also Messrs Van Dyke and Kowal, would you mind telling your ‘side’ to think for at least 30 gorram seconds before posting anything and everything remotely Bengazi related. In this case, to realize that a West Coast carrier group deployed to the Persian Gulf wouldn’t have a dang thing to do with Libya.

        • The president’s supporters don’t seem to realize that there’s a major screwup in this Libya thing.

          Glad to see you’re reading Instapundit, though. As you see, they corrected in minutes what it took the administration weeks to correct. The Susan Rice thing is part of it, but not all of it. The truth will out and there’s no point litigating it here until the “acceptable’ media end their news blackout.

          On the good news front…

  5. Couldn’t resist this- I stumbled across this is Salon today, an interview with Frank Rich:

    “The position has been — and this is even by relatively establishment people like Peggy Noonan, George Will — “He’s an incompetent. Americans can’t stand him. They think he’s a nice guy but he’s in over his head. This is an historic change to end this collectivist presidency.” Because underlying so much of this, in my view, is race, they’re going to be furious. They really felt they could knock him off easily.

    So when that fails, they’re going to be very angry. They’ll be angry at Romney, but they’ll forget about Romney in two minutes. They’re really going to be angry at Obama because they can’t believe that this collectivist black man has, in their view, bamboozled the American public once again.”

  6. Hilarious. We should impeach Obama, and Tom’s go-to guy is the moron thinking that it should have been fixed via AC-130 into a mixed crowd.

    Brilliant analysis. Give this guy his freaking stars. Best armchar general ever. We should let this guy play with real guns.

    Yet another pitiful attempt at the GOP generating a scandal out of nothing — all the more contemptous because this one is built on dead Americans.

    • FYI — I read the entire article. Apparently we should impeach Obama because:

      1) He didn’t authorize a gunship to fire into a mixed crowd. (Which seems, I dunno, kind of a stupid thing to do — the firing).
      2) Apparently someone in the area really wanted him to, but he said no. This is apparently an impeachable offense. High crimes, misdeameanours, and giving orders to the military.
      3) The press releases, interviews, and statements given by the White House and Secretary of State were not 100% accurate from the very beginning, accurate only in the sense of “correctly repeating what the current view of the CIA and State officials on the ground where”.

      I think that one will work JUST as well as Clinton’s impeachment, if not better. There’s not an actual scandal here. There’s just several days of confused messaging as everyone worked out what the hell happened, and at most the President deciding that firing a giant ass machine gun into a crowd was a “bad idea”.


      • I don’t have any better access to info that anyone else.

        It could be that there IS a scandal here.
        An American consulate was stormed and sacked, and our ambassador killed. Something or someone screwed up somewhere.

        The blame might lie with the chain of command in the CIA, or State Department, or prior decisions and warnings that were unheeded, or half a dozen other things that led to the situation that happened.

        But thats not the case that the right is making. The case they are trying to make is that Obama watched the attack unfold on live feed, and chuckled “Allah Akhbar” while Michelle pumped her fist and exclaimed “Stick it to Whitey!”

        • Actually, I’m not sure I can say that’s a screw up.

          Fact of the matter is — this sort of thing is gonna happen unless you turn your consulates into heavily fortified bunkers. (Which you can’t, for no other reason that people need to use them AND the host countries generally don’t let you station a battalion of troops and heavy weapons there).

          Working at an embassy or consulate in a foreign country, especially one that’s volatile, is dangerous. That’s just the plain and simple truth of it.

          Obviously, in hindsight — having 40 marines armed like Jayne from firefly (lots of grenades!) — could have made a difference. If the host country let them. If the consulate really wanted them. (It turns out the request for more security wasn’t even FOR that consulate). If we could have afforded them. I’m sure we can afford to deploy 40 marines — but can we deploy that many to every consulate in the world? It’s pretty easy in hindsight to figure out how to use limited resources….

          In the end, the truth of the matter is — working there is dangerous, for pretty much the reasons we saw. It’s a risk of the job, and you can’t get rid of it. And if the dice roll comes up bad, well…sometimes that happens. It’s tragedy. Steps should be taken to bring anyone involved to justice. But…it’s like crime in general. You can’t prevent it.

          • This is true. It could be that even with hindsight, the only options for preventing this would have been not to have a consulate there in the first place.

          • Then Obama should be impeached for having put a consulate where he knew it would get attacked by his fellow radical Islamists.

            We’re way ahead of you on this game. Whatever the question is, the answer will still be “impeach Obama.”

    • and Tom’s go-to guy is the moron thinking that it should have been fixed via AC-130 into a mixed crowd.

      Brilliant analysis.

      To his credit, Tom said that he didn’t actually read the guy he cited as making his case for him.

      So there’s that…

      • It’s a sad day when not reading the source is more to a person’s credit than actually taking the time to do so.

    • Wait…hold on…i thought the “have a gunship fire into a crowd” was a joke. Is some fishwad serious about that? Are some idiots going to out Onion the Onion? How is slaughtering civilians a solution? Wait don’t answer that, its an obvious solution.

      • How is slaughtering civilians a solution?

        Because we’re protecting Americans, motherfisher! I mean, those are our people, right?! What kind of President would permit… /(interrupted)

        Wait don’t answer that, its an obvious solution.


      • The story is “evolving”. As best I can tell, there are two basic stories getting woven together.

        One is a dead SEAL’s upset dad, who is very vocially claiming Obama effectively hung his son out to dry. Now how he knows this halfway around the world, no one knows.

        Then there’s what apparently started as some guy saying “The firefight lasted 4 hours, there are AC-130s and stuff stationed less than 4 hours away, they shoulda been called in!”. (ignoring, of course, the fact that there was a crowd of protestors, attackers who used the crowd as cover and pretext, and the fact that tons of innocents would have been killed).

        That mutated into the current belief that there were SEALs on the roof, with targetting lasers, begging for air support from a circling AC-130 while drones were sending real-time feeds to Obama and nearby navy commanders were screaming and contemplating disobeying orders. And, of course, the AC-130 could use the targetting laser to head-shot only attackers using it’s giant machine gun designed to deal with light armored vehicles. (In short, the story has morphed into a Michael Bay movie).

        And BECAUSE Obama didn’t order this to happen, Tom believes Obama should be impeached. Because obviously this entire story is TOTALLY TRUE and Obama, the White House, the CIA, and State have all been lying about it ever since. So they should be impeached. Maybe for not ordering the attack from the magic AC-130 or maybe for lying, Tom hasn’t exactly said. He’s more in favor of it the way Fox News explains how “people have been asking”, you know. He’s more just saying that if it’s true, and he hasn’t read it but these people seem mighty trustworthy, then of course he should be impeached. Not that it matters, because he’s losing anyways.

  7. Roger L. Simon probably has it right here, although I don’t even care to read it.

    “This thing I’m not going to bother to read is probably right, although obviously I don’t have a clue since I haven’t bothered to read it.”

    What a towering intellect.

    From the article:
    It’s not the crime, but the cover-up, we learned in an earlier impeachment, only in this case the crime may be just as bad or worse.

    What crime?
    lying to the American public about a terror attack that resulted in the deaths of four of our worthiest citizens while covering up the continued power and presence of al-Qaeda and its allies throughout the Islamic world and maybe beyond

    Wait, where’s the crime in that? Oh, there is none, so no “high crimes and misdemeanors.” But Roger Simon’s a novelist, so surely he’s an expert in all this, right? Surely the folks we should be listening to about the seriousness of the Benghazi attack are Yale Drama School graduates, right?

    You’ve been snookered, Mr. Kowal. TVD talked his way onto your blog by pretending to be a conservative, but in fact he’s just play-acting, trying to embarrass your side by pretending to be just as dumb as liberals believe conservatives are.

    Come on, Mr. Kowal, you have a law degree. You have the education and specialized knowledge to understand this one. Think it through, even if your co-blogger can’t.

    • By the way, if TVD would like to delete this, he has my full support. I mostly try to avoid coming to his posts on DK to critique him (but this one is so over-the-top, head-up-the-ass stupid that I couldn’t resist), and so I truly don’t mind if he wants to just eliminate any trace of my presence here.

      • Dude,
        you’ve already got Barret Brown to be happy about, and he was an actual name. Find something better to do with your time.

  8. Having followed all the links and read all the background, here’s the summary of what I’ve learned:

    1) Two of the Americans who died did so after ignoring a return-to-base order.
    2) According to one of these guy’s father, they were begging for support.
    3) This support was available.
    4) The President was at fault, ergo impeach him. Also he lied about it a lot.

    Nowhere is there any rationale for why the President would deny such an order. (I can think of several, but they’re all situational). This has now mutated into a belief that an admiral was removed from command — first it was rumored he was a scapegoat, then it was because he’d defied orders and was gonna mount a rescue and Obama stopped him and then fired him. (Apparently said admiral was in the wrong fleet, so couldn’t possibly have been involved, which has done nothing to stop the rumors even when a main source of the “Obama had our soldiers murdered” blogger is patiently explaining it’s unrelated).

    The White House is denying all of this, pretty categorically. So is State and CIA.

    The story is mutating into flat-out urban legend — this thing is textbook “Blank Panthers on street corners molesting voters” territory already, but all the sources trace back to a few unsourced Fox stories (the only source being the dead guy’s son, who I guess was calling him mid-fight as he ignored orders? I dunno. I didn’t find an explanation of how he knew. Maybe someone else told him).

    Each day there are additional details, all back to the same unsourced places — mostly from bloggers and opinionists, very little actual hard stuff and all the hard news…traces back to the dead SEAL’s dad. Even anonymous sources are very thin on the ground.

    Which tips off ALL my BS story markers.

    1) Few sources, all tied intimately to a tragedy but none having first-hand knowledge. (IE: No one that was there).
    2) Immediate mutation into conspiracy mongering involving high-level CIA, State, and military officials.
    3) A coverup that would have had to be taking form while the crisis was still ongoing.
    4) More and more details piling on the original story, each making Obama’s supposed decision even more ridiculous — first it was a guy begging for support. Then it was a guy PLUS a gunship. Then it was a guy, plus a gunship, plus a drone. Then TWO drones. Then a guy, a gunship, two drones, a laser spotter, a quick-reaction team, and an admiral defying orders to stand down, trying to marshal a response despite orders from his chain of command…

    This sounds like a plot to a movie. And yet NOWHERE is Obama’s motivations stated. Just that he ‘screwed up’ and ‘covered it up’. Okay, let’s say he DID order the stand down. Let’s say he denied assets.

    Why? I mean the story’s gotten to the point where you had SEALs on the rooftops, drones in the air, heavy weapons support, a carrier off the coast, an admiral chomping at the bit and screaming to put assets in the air — raiding OBL’s compound didn’t have this many people involved. Why would Obama say no?

    I mean if you take it as a given that he’s unAmerican and loves Muslims and is a Kenyan Appeasier with a Marxist mindset, I guess that question doesn’t arise.

    To me? This smells of BS. It’d smell of BS if it was about George Bush. If it was about Reagan. The story’s growing more and more incredible, but NO ONE is paying attention but Pajama Medias and Fox News. The only source on record is a grieving father.

    It’s been covered entirely as “Fox News reports X,Y,Z” and quotes from the grieving father and flat-out denials by the government. There are no anonymous sources talking to other papers, other media figures, anyone. The guy’s father? Sure, he’s telling this to everyone.

    But no one else is. If this is true…why not? Why aren’t there leaks to anyone else? New York Times? Washington Post? Heck, Washington Times? Why is it coming out of Pajama Medias speculation, the New York Post, and a handful of Fox News stories that do nothing more than report the father’s claims with no corroborating evidence?

  9. You know what I don’t get? Bengazi is not even close to the deadliest fish up on Obama’s watch, but it gets all the attention.

    • Yeah O should have personally vetted the Doc to see if he was a double agent. And that darn O and his anti-regulation agenda did likely lead to that outbreak.

      • Greg, I’m not objecting to what you wrote here, but Kolohe’s comment wasn’t a criticism os Obama. It was expressing wonderment that conservatives have picked Benghazi when there is other riper fruit nearer the ground.

  10. So, thinking and digging — this isn’t a real story, not the way Tom there thinks it is. This is one, last, 30 -second hate to drive GOP voters to the polls. (Pretty standard to do that, except for the crassness of using freshly dead Americans to do so).

    Two things stand out about this story. First is the utter and total lack of ANY explained motivation for Obama’s actions. Second is the evolution of the story, which ties into the lack of stated motivations.

    You see, there doesn’t NEED to be a motivation. This is aimed at people who believe that Obama is utterly evil, or a secret Muslim, or incompetent and weak. A story in which a President does nothing while an embassy is destroyed? Easily explained if you, from the beginning, believe he hates America, secretly cheers on Muslim victories, or is feckless and incompetent.

    Which fits into the evolution of the story. Original it was “Obama didn’t call it an act of terror” and “He denied requests for more security!” Happily fits into the unstated motivations, right? Weak, terrorist sympathizer, evil, secret Muslim.

    Then it morphed, because those first two got backhanded into oblivion by cold facts. Now the story morphs.

    First, it was “there were assets nearby and the President didn’t call them in” — the first iteration was basically someone musing “The firefight went on four hours, there were AC-130s and other assets within four hours transport time, they weren’t used.” (That is the very first iteration of the story I heard, several days before Tom’s post. I ignored it, because it was stupid. The consulate staff split up according to what I am sure were pre-arranged evacuation paths, the armed folks destroyed computers and sensitive data, and then were supposed to retreat. Which seems perfectly logical, if coldly pragmatic, and I would assume kinda standard)

    The AC-130 “within flight distance” became “right there”. Confused actions on the ground became “real time surveillience”. The soldiers went from fighting to pleading for air-support. Military figures were supposedly questioning the President’s orders.

    Each and every one of those ‘new facts’ (none corroborated beyond a single man, grieving halfway around the world, word) all add to the unspoken motivation — this wasn’t a hard call, this was deliberate evil. Muslim symapthy. Incompetence beyond reason.

    “Liberals don’t understand it” is quite true. Neither do independents. This story is only believable in it’s current incarnation if you KNOW Obama is aweak, evil, muslim sympathizing Kenyan who is in way over his head, like everything all the liberals said of Bush but a million times worse.

    No motivations are given because none are assumed. This story is red meat to the base, designed to boost last minute turnout.

    It worked like a charm on Tom, since he’s screaming for impeachment without actually giving a single reason. He’s sure this is a scandal of epic proportions, even as the bulk of America yawns.

    Red meat. It’s a conservative only story, and “truth” is immaterial. Hate, hype, and confirmation that this is the most important election ever if we don’t want America to fall to the commies (I mean Muslims) at the hand of the Machurian Democrat, Obama Bin Laden.

      • In all fairness to Tom, apparently he doesn’t think Obama should be impeached over this.

        “Impeach Obama!” on the headline was, of course, deliberately hyberolic in written in a tongue-in-cheek font, since it’s all moot since Obama will lose.

        I feel foolish taking it at face value, and not reading the super-secret real meaning between the lines.

    • I don’t fault Obama for not running into Benghazi with guns and bombs as soon as he caught wind of the attack. I hope by now I am starting to establish a brand to the effect that I don’t care much what is done, I only care how it was done. Which is why I don’t usually care about foreign policy – it really doesn’t lend itself to ex ante rules. It’s a president’s job to set out a narrative, a “doctrine,” and then try to behave in some sort of intelligible way. But even those are just loose guidelines. Article 2 is the broadest grant of power in the Constitution, so there’s usually little to base objection upon.

      But with that said, I’ve said before I think Benghazi is a problem. Not because the Administration didn’t come right out screaming about terrorism. Not because they wanted to gather the facts before coming to conclusions. That’s all fine. But the filmmaker whose video was thought to have initiated the killing was arrested before a “full investigation” was completed. That doesn’t seem to fit with a “The Administration Has Decided Not To Act Until It Knows All The Facts.” The fact is, no one expects an Administration to sit on its hands in the face of a crisis. It didn’t when it came to the filmmaker – his civil rights be damned – but not a finger could be lifted to send a single F18 to flyover Benghazi, just to let them know we have a presence, that we don’t intend to let them kill our people? It can’t be because the Administration had no clue it could be a terrorist attack. Even the president of Libya came right out and said this doesn’t appear on its face to be a spontaneous act – spontaneous protesters don’t bring rocket launchers. And then the president came out in the Rose Garden talking about what sorts of things might “ever shake the resolve of this great nation,” and ruled out “acts of terror.” Elsewhere I expressed doubt whether he was calling Benghazi an act of terror, but many commenters here scathingly rebuked me. Fine. If he knew it was terrorism right at the beginning, then why beat down the door of a filmmaker but then claim we didn’t have enough facts to do something that might actually save lives?

      Again, maybe the determination was made that taking action wouldn’t have helped, or would have done harm. But that’s not the story that was given. The story given is they didn’t know what the hell was happening. Seems to me that story is balderdash, malarkey, cockamamie, goofballs, or whatever Biden-esque word you like.

      What explains the Administration’s strange handling of Benghazi? Here’s where I hesitate to tread. I cannot wait until this election is over, by the way. Hopefully then I will stop wasting time in the hamster wheel of political banter. I’ve got several posts now backed up awaiting undivided attention, but here I am commenting on Benghazi. I try to mind the line between being open about my views but not doing injury to my credibility when I write about other non-political matters. I play counterfactuals in my mind when making these kinds of arguments: If this were W, would I be saying the same thing? Truthfully, I think I might not. I would think they were fair arguments to make, but I certainly wouldn’t be taking the time and effort to make them. I also have a bias – confirmed by other circumstantial evidence, but filtered through a confirmation bias no doubt – in favor of finding Obama is more cynical and politically driven in his calculations than guys on “my team.” Simply put, Obama’s done a whole lot of stuff I don’t like, so I’m prone to believe certain kinds of explanations.

      With that said, Mark Steyn (red meat, I know, but a damn good pundit) had this to offer on the motive question:

      Why would Obama and Biden do such a thing? Because to launch a military operation against an al-Qaeda affiliate on the anniversary of 9/11 would have exposed the hollowness of their boast through convention week and the days thereafter — that Osama was dead and al-Qaeda was finished. And so Ty Woods, Glen Doherty, Sean Smith, and Chris Stevens were left to die, and a decision taken to blame an entirely irrelevant video and, as Secretary Clinton threatened, “have that person arrested.” And, in the weeks that followed, the government of the United States lied to its own citizens as thoroughly and energetically as any totalitarian state, complete with the midnight knock on the door from not-so-secret policemen sent to haul the designated fall-guy into custody.

      Again, I’m going to remain agnostic as to motive, but this seems at least plausible. Much, much worst was said about W when it came to foreign affairs (and everything else), so it can’t be said there’s some derangement localized to the right when it comes to impugning motives.

      But on my list of reasons to vote Obama out of office, Benghazi doesn’t make the top 10. This is political season, though, and Obama screwed up here. He wouldn’t have rammed Obamacare through despite majority opposition, for example, in the September before reelection. He knew he had to do that early in his term. That’s politics. But he did screw up Benghazi. It’s a legitimate complaint. If you can cite to any legitimate political issues that could have been used against Republican incumbents but weren’t because Democrats were overcome with “civility” or “post-partisanship,” I’d be interested to hear about it.

      • “.But the filmmaker whose video was thought to have initiated the killing was arrested before a “full investigation” was completed.”

        By local cops, because he violated parole. Not because of the content of his film.

        He was not allowed to use the Internet in any way, so once he put the film on YouTube, he had violated his parole.

        So that whole paragraph is wrong.

        • It’s become part of the myth.

          Obama’s jack-booted, brown-shirted thugs arrested him as a scapegoat for Obama’s Libyan mistake.

          Facts don’t matter.

          • Yes. The facts are damning enough in of themselves.
            But nobody wants to hear about some hackers.
            Not sexy like terrorists, I guess.

      • Full investigation of what? Even if he had incited a riot in Libya that caused deaths, there’s no US law against that. As Jeff and Morat point out, he was arrested for violating his parole, which there was plenty of evidence for.

    • Did something get deleted? Something seems fouled up, what with all replies getting relegated to the bottom of the thread.

  11. I remember how, after the first debate, there were suddenly all these explanations for why the polls showing Romney as the victor or Romney with a lead were wrong for some reason or other.

    Now here’s a poll showing Obama with a lead, but now it’s the people saying that poll is wrong who are themselves engaging in sour-grapes conspiracy theories.

  12. This thread reminds me of why I changed our degree requirements to require a stats course for our majors. Not to put anyone down, but as Morat notes, this is hard stuff for people who haven’t had some degree of training in it. And to me it’s so crucially important to understanding how the world works, since nearly everything that happens is probabilistic. I’d like to see every high school student in the country take a basic course on probability; not an algebra-based stats course, but just something that introduces them to the concepts in really intuitive ways.

    • Agreed, if only for the way it would improve our understanding of baseball. (There is no such thing as clutch hitting. A pitcher who keeps getting into and out of trouble isn’t showing great character, he’s just being ineffective and lucky. On-base average is much more informative than batting average, and ERA much more informative than won-lost record. Etc.)

  13. FYI, this particular “theory” has hit snopes: (

    Snopes covers the “real time” bit — there was ‘real time’ audio from the embassy (you know, they were on the phone or radio) that a security officer listened to, and three weeks later people were pouring over all the security tapes that had been shipped over. Not “watching real-time drone feeds”. Drone didn’t make it there until the last hour of fighting.

    Congrats, Tom. Your post was based pretty much entirely on an urban legend! One that is sourced entirely to a single op-ed in Forbes and marinated in the fever swamps. You must be so proud.

    • Morat, my browser’s search function indicates you are the only one here who ever mentioned the “drone” angle. Not even the Simon piece cited in the OP talks about it. You’re free to say whatever you like about it, but this comment is indecorous. There are quite enough ideas in the world to attack; no need to attack each other personally.

      • Sorry then. It came out as part of the mess of links I followed off the original Pajama Media piece Tom linked.

        I read that, then read the links embedded, and then the links there.

        I also dug around into current news articles on it.

        It’s honestly kind of hard to engage Tom on it, because Tom just linked the piece without reading it. I suppose it’s unfair to tar him with the common stupidies associated with the whole mess, but then it’s a bit unfair for Tom to link it to the mess supportively without reading it.

        So, you’re quite right. I was the first to mention drones here. But Tom linked approvingly and believingly with the title “Impeach Obama!” to a piece he didn’t bother reading, part of a growing swamp of paranoid conspiracy.

        Simon who, I now note, has moved into wondering if the President has actually committed treason.

        • Morat — Thanks. And I can appreciate that explanation. For my part, I like to take the “ordinary” part of the main blog’s title literally: we’re regular people here with day jobs who happen to like talking politics. I always try to be reasonably informed before posting, but if that bar is set too high, I wind up never posting (I like to think my sparse posting of late is attributed to a high bar I set for myself, but in reality it has more to do with family and work life eclipsing my blogging life!). Powerline has been doing a lot of the due diligence for the right, and I noticed ThinkProgress (iirc) did a Benghazi timeline that appeared to be comprehensive (I only skimmed on my phone). Point being, all sides have their bases covered when it comes to more full-time comprehensive blogging on subjects like this. I like to think blogs like ours fill a void where opinionated people who are reasonably informed can come and exchange and spar, even with incomplete information sets. That can only work with some mutual give and take. I admit to deviating from certain standards from time to time — the nature of the thing has that effect in the posting process and particularly in the commenting process. Thoughtful and civil exchanges in the comments, like much of ours here, has a big impact on my own process in writing posts. Writers write for their audience, after all. I know most of the writers at the League of OG give much credit for the quality of writing to the quality of the commenters. If you or anyone else feels this standard is not being reciprocated, I welcome emails.

          Thanks again.

          • Eh, I shouldn’t have gotten so engaged. I just…dislike watching this sort of stuff grow in real time, doesn’t matter which side does it.

            I get crap, left and right, from friends and family in email that just gets a snopes link in response (I’m slowly training them! Slowly!) and….this whole story was just…

            Well, i said it before. It’s a 30-second hate designed to drum up support. It’s baseless, it’s growing urban-legend style without a hint of any facts, and I guess I just expected a little more skepticism from people, and get easily annoyed when people just swallow stuff because they want it to be true. (And lord knows, I’m prone to it myself. And have done it more times than I care to admit).

            At least of the “that sounds too good to be true” respect from people who find our current President a little unsuited for the Office.

          • There’s a there there. If Romney wins, he’ll let it slide. If Obama wins, the GOP will hound him with this. I personally see no need to litigate this at this time and add to the millions of words already flying around. Sort of like the Trayvon thing, where those who had Zimmerman convicted in their minds will simply move on to the next front.

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