Monkey Cage: Mythical swing voter update

We received a few reactions to yesterday’s post on the mythical swing voter:

1.  In comments, Yphtach Lelkes points to this 2004 paper by Robert Erikson, Costas Panagopoulos and Christopher Wlezien on problems with likely-voter screens and the way in which such screens can exaggerate opinion swings during a campaign.  The argument of Erikson et al. is not the same as ours — in particular, the “mythical swings” discussed in our paper occur even in the absence of likely-voter screening — but we agree that the two papers are related.

Read full article >>

L.A. Times rejects Courage Campaign/Daily Kos ad urging Tribune Co. not to sell newspaper to Kochs

This is the first ad that was rejected.

Mere rumors that the Los Angeles Times might be bought by the ultra right-wing Koch brothers have shown what readers can expect not to see if the pair actually does buy the 132-year-old newspaper.

When the Courage Campaign and Daily Kos sought to complete the purchase Friday of an advertisement in the Times itself urging the Tribune Company, the newspaper’s current owner, not to sell it to the Kochs, Gabe Smalley, the rapid response organizer at Courage was told the ad had been cancelled. The reason? A salesman who would only identify himself as “Mickey” said the ad contained unverified assertions about political efforts the brothers have backed with their ample financial resources, including the tea party and claims that climate change is not happening. He also said there were no contact numbers listed for the organizations.

The ad’s assertions are, in fact, mild compared to the billionaire Koch brothers’ actual efforts to inject their dollars into the political arena. So far, Daily Kos, Courage and a third partner,, have gathered more than 100,000 signatures to send to Tribune urging it not to sell to the Kochs. The Daily Kos version of the petition can be found here.

Courage Campaign team members decided after the 2-inch-by-7-inch ad was rejected that they would provide both the contact numbers and links to news reports about the Koch brothers’ funding efforts. That includes this article from the Los Angeles Times itself. But when Smalley called back, he was told that the ad would not be published no matter what because it wasn’t in the newspaper’s “best interests” to do so.

He described the conversation thus:

The resubmitted ad with references.

Mickey: “Even if you make the changes, we’re just not going to run your ad. It’s not in our best interests.”

Smalley: “We’ve just gotten the citations—from your paper, from the LA Times. Even adding those in, you mean you won’t run the ad?”

Mickey: “No, it’s just not in our best interests.”

Daily Kos messages left for Mickey to confirm the conversation were not returned.

Even though it was made clear the ad would not be accepted, the Courage Campaign reworked it anyway, including references solely from the Times itself regarding the Koch brothers’ funding efforts, and resubmitted the ad to the newspaper Monday. A sales supervisor said the new ad was being considered, but the Courage Campaign had received no word by early afternoon.

Even though it is the second-largest newspaper publisher in the nation, the Chicago-based Tribune Company has fallen on hard times since merging with the Los Angeles newspaper’s parent, Times-Mirror Company, in 2000. Daily circulation of the Times has fallen from just under one million in 2000 to 675,000.

The Courage Campaign will deliver its signatures at 2 PM today at the offices of the Los Angeles Times, 202 W. 1st Street in downtown Los Angeles.


Full Disclosure: I worked at the Los Angeles Times from 1989-2000—MB.

Saturday Nutpick-a-palooza: Obama gets a promotion!

Let’s start with this …

An story: 'Obama Now Global Head of Al-Qaeda'

… and then get to the comments, below the fold.

The Iraq War wasn’t the reason for the resurgent Left, Bush was

Lesleigh Coyer, 25, of Saginaw, Michigan, lies down in front of the grave of her brother, Ryan Coyer, who served with the U.S. Army in both Iraq and Afghanistan, at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia March 11, 2013. Coyer died of complications from a

One of many reasons George W. Bush gave us to organize.


WHEN prominent people in Washington spend an anniversary apologizing for being catastrophically, unforgivably wrong about a decade-old decision, you might expect that the decision in question had delivered their party to disaster or defeat. But last week’s many Iraq war mea culpas were rich in irony: one by one, prominent liberals lined up to apologize for supporting a war that’s responsible for liberalism’s current political and cultural ascendance […]

All those now-apologetic liberals who supported the war in 2003 are a big part of this story, because without their hawkishness there would have been no antiwar rebellion on the left — no Michael Moore and Howard Dean, no Daily Kos and all its “netroots” imitators.

Not entirely wrong, but not entirely true. Our problem with the Democratic establishment a decade ago ran far deeper than their acquiescence on Bush’s bullshit wars. It was the notion that to win, Democrats had to keep imitating Republicans—on corporatism, on social issues, on religion, and yes, on foreign military adventures. Iraq was a symptom of a much larger problem, a Democratic Party so unsure of itself that it had lost its moorings, encapsulated by John Kerry’s “I voted for it before I voted against it” nonsense. Our party was psychophrenic, torn between doing the right thing, and doing what it thought it needed to do to win elections.

Except that what it thought made it electable actually did not. The DLC’s and Third Way’s self-serving advice, much like Grima Wormtongue’s, served only to weaken and corrupt. And as numbers junkies, we in the early netroots knew objectively that the status quo was an electoral liability. As I wrote in The Hill this week:

We were data-obsessed, poring over polling numbers and demographic trends. When we pushed the party leftward, we did so by arguing electability. We either proved those shifts would win an election (like opposing the Iraq war), or we waited for a more opportune time (like marriage equality).

Ideology informs our politics, but data informs our tactics. And we did it to great effect:

In 2006, aided by Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman’s surprise primary loss, Democrats saw the light on the Iraq war. By 2008, they had evolved on immigration. The Occupy movement brought back economic populism in 2011, and marriage equality followed in 2012. In 2013, the party is moving on guns. It may have happened incrementally, but today’s Democratic Party bears surprisingly little resemblance to its 2003 edition.

The Iraq War was certainly a major flashpoint in the development of the resurgent activist Left, just as the passage of Obamacare did the same for the Tea Party Right. But it was just part of a broader struggle. And even without the war we still would’ve had George W. Bush to organize around. He, more than anyone else, was the catalyst.

Take him out of the equation, and things would politically look a lot different. This site probably wouldn’t exist. With Al Gore in the White House I and so many others would’ve had no impetus to start blogging or organizing. On the other hand, we would’ve had hundreds of thousands of fewer dead people around the globe. Given the choice, it’s a trade I would gladly take. Unfortunately, I never had, nor ever will, have that choice.


Saturday hate mail-a-palooza: Back for a one-week engagement!

Marriage equality, or quality hate mail … apparently that was the choice.

So I can’t promise the return of this series, but whenever enough hate mail accumulates, I’ll run with it. And if it doesn’t, I’ll nutpick. This week? Hate mail!

The goods are below the fold, as well as a theory about why this has mostly dried up (it’s actually a good thing).

Saturday nutpick-a-palooza: Did you hear that Obama is trying to buy 1.6 billion bullets?

Picture of bullets

Tools of freedom! Er, Tyranny!

Have you heard this conspiracy theory? It’s currently very popular in right-wing circles.

Why Does Obama Need 1.6 Billion Bullets? […]

During the last 10 months, the Department of Homeland Security has purchased 1.6 billion rounds of ammunition, including millions of hollow-point bullets. The department also has purchased 7,000 fully automatic assault rifles, and it has overseen the retrofitting of more than 2,000 light tanks, which, of course, were originally designed to resist the mines and ambushes of the battlefield. Why does DHS need such offensive and defensive firepower?

Wait, is Obama buying the bullets so he can stash them in the White House basement and his Chicago house, or are we talking about the U.S. government agency tasked, for the most part, with protecting our nation against external threats? Because if it’s the latter, then that headline is extra stupid.

But no, to the wingnuts, it’s obvious that “we [are] watching administration battle plans take shape against American citizens on the streets of Your Town, USA.” Sure. That’s exactly it.

Either that, or maybe the Department of Homeland Security includes such law enforcement agencies as the Border Patrol, US Customs, the Federal Protective Service (which guards federal buildings, including Congress), the Secret Service, and the Coast Guard—all of which use guns and bullets as part of their regular duties. It also runs the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center. Target practice uses up more bullets.

Then there’s the math. The number of bullets purchased wasn’t actually 1.6 billion, it was 450 million over five years, or 1,384 rounds per federal law enforcement agent, or 276 rounds per year, or 23 rounds per month. I blew through way more than that at shooting ranges when I was in the Army. And it was bought in bulk to save money. And those tanks? They aren’t actually tanks.

But reality aside, note that the wingnuts are getting the vapors over the US government buying guns and ammo, when they’ve been claiming that it’s our patriotic duty to arm ourselves to the teeth—lest our children get killed or womenfolk get raped. So guns are good, except for the ones that the government carries. Because tyranny.

Heck, even the NRA has told its crazies to chill. But as you’ll see below the fold, the crazies don’t care.

Saturday Nutpick-a-palooza: Obama is TOO a thug!

Validate conservative narrative, become latest conservative hero

So you all remember that Bob Woodward hilarity this week? So Woodward got into it on the phone with a White House flack, who then sent an email apologizing to Woodward, saying that he should really rethink the wrong stuff he was thinking because it was wrong and he would end up looking like a fool, and then Woodward responded with a “no need to apologize!” email, and the whole exchange was more incestuous than threatening. Remember that?

But then Woodward decided that the White House email had actually caused him to piddle his pants, and he ran to CNN, Politico, and Sean Hannity to talk about how horrible this had all been and how it’s only a matter of time before the White House starts boiling his bunnies and he’s so scaaaaared?

Most conservative media jumped on this story, eager to validate their narrative of the White House populated by Chicago thugs. But some, like Matt Lewis at the Daily Caller, played it straight:

When Woodward tells of being warned he would “regret” challenging Obama, it sounds ominous. But if Politico’s reporting today is correct, it seems much more innocuous than that.

Looks like we were played.

So how do commenters at a conservative site react to being told that perhaps, on this issue, Obama isn’t the devil incarnate? Head below the fold for the goods.