politics, US Politics

America Votes. I Watch.

No live blogging tonight, as I’ll be attending an election night party organised by the American studies department at Johannes-Gutenberg Universität. My personal guess is that Obama will win, but not by a margin as big as predicted lately. In the end, I suppose John McCain will be happy it’s over and he’ll once again be allowed to speak freely. After all, he’s a bit of a tragic figure whose campaign demonstrated that someone who, in a long political career, has made a lot of bold choices, has to fight more to keep his part of the electorate together than to reach out to the marginal voters. And he was continually fighting against the sitting President.

I’m happy that it seems likely Senator Obama will be the next President. But I would have liked to see a better campaign, one that would have not only pitted “the same” against “change” but actually defined those concepts with a little more detail. It’s now up to the next President elect to do that.

Political Theory, politics, US Politics

Is there a versioning effect in elections?

Over at Crooked Timber, Henry Farrell is wondering why Obama’s lead over McCain is bigger in polls where more left-wing Presidential candidates are included – A puzzle about the polls. Comment #1 by a certain Cryptic Ned is proposing an interesting theory: versioning also works in elections. Weiterlesen

oddly enough, US Politics

Now go and play with your “Joe The Plumber” action figure.

From The Times, via Crooked Timber, a first class example of real life political satire.

The Republicans have made a last-minute attempt to prevent Barack Obama’s ascent to the White House by trying to recruit an Oxford academic to “prove” that his autobiography was ghostwritten by a former terrorist.

With two days before the election, Obama is poised to become America’s first black president, according to polls showing he has an average six-point lead over John McCain, his Republican opponent.

Dr Peter Millican, a philosophy don at Hertford College, Oxford, has devised a computer software program that can detect when works are by the same author by comparing favourite words and phrases.

Economics, finance, US Politics, USA

Paul Krugman agrees…

in the NYTimes after the US House of Representatives voted “no” on the Wall Street bailout plan. He’s right of course, that “flip-flopping” on issues like this in the way it happened isn’t exactly a sign of a well functioning representative democracy. On the other hand, it’s also true that this vote is a sign that Congress still matters, even if it needed a figure with 11 zeros to balk at the administration. So, does that make the US a Banana Republic as Krugman argues? I think the decision on that is still out – after all, the bailout plan would/will have distributive consequences that would have/will make made the US income structure even more reminiscent of a classic Banana Republic.

Paul Krugman – OK, we are a banana republic

oddly enough, US Politics, USA

Sarah Palin is simply scary.

You know, back in 2000, I said that Americans were so confident in their way of doing things that they actually believed they could afford someone like the current President to be in charge. Now, a couple of years later, they may no longer be too confident about the situation they find themselves in, militarily, diplmatically, economically, and politically. But in a move that illustrates to a scary degree the extent of polarisation of the American electorate, John McCain picked his Vice Presidential candidate according to the simple rules of electoral maths, and we’re now facing the possibility of a President Sarah Palin. And that would probably be when we’d all begin to fondly remember the days of President Bush. If there’s anything the choice of Mrs Palin, just as the Congressional hearings regarding the imminent 700bn bank-bailout, indicate, it is that US politics seems to have become completely dysfunctional now.

Here’s Sarah Palin making that point to CBS news anchor Katie Couric. It would funny, if weren’t so sad and scary.

German Politics

Auch wenn man es eigentlich nicht glauben will…

Kein Wunder, daß die Bundesregierung nichts von den illegalen CIA-Gefangenentransporten durch deutschen Luftraum wußte – sie wollte ja gar nichts wissen…

Bundesinnenminister Schäuble hat es vor dem BND-Untersuchungsausschuss abgelehnt, dass der Verfassungsschutz die Aktivitäten von US-Geheimdiensten in Deutschland mit nachrichtdienstlichen Mitteln beobachtet. Die US-Regierung habe erklärt, dass sie im “Kampf gegen den Terrorismus” die Souveränität und Gesetze anderer Staaten achte. “Ich habe keinen Anlass, daran zu zweifeln”, sagte Schäuble. (via fefes Blog)

US Politics

Surfing USA.

Wow. Who would have ever imagined that I would recommend something written by William Safire? Certainly not me. But there you go. Here’s his interesting take on the ethymology of “water boarding.”

Why did boarding take over from cure, treatment and torture? Darius Rejali, the author of the recent book “Torture and Democracy” and a professor at Reed College, has an answer: “There is a special vocabulary for torture. When people use tortures that are old, they rename them and alter them a wee bit. They invent slightly new words to mask the similarities. This creates an inside club, especially important in work where secrecy matters. Waterboarding is clearly a jailhouse joke. It refers to surfboarding” — a word found as early as 1929 — “they are attaching somebody to a board and helping them surf. Torturers create names that are funny to them.”

US Politics, USA

Hillary Clinton’s math problem seems controllable.

This is probably what Obama’s campaign will focus on next – if Hillary Clinton doesn’t win pretty much all of the upcoming primaries, and the bigger ones with a, say, 60-40 ratio, she will not be able to get more pledged delegates at the Democratic convention than Barack Obama. Newsweek’s Jonathan Alter draws the conclusion that this means that winning Texas and Ohio by only rather small margins actually dealt her campaign a technical K.O.

“Hillary would then have to convince the uncommitted superdelegates to reverse the will of the people.”

Sure, in that case, everything would depend on the votes of the unpledged superdelegates, and I think it is fair to assume that most of them would not want to risk alienating “the will of the people”. Alas, or fortunately, that’s not as easily done as it seems, simply because “the will of the people” cannot be as evident to a party official from, say, California, as it appears to a journalist looking at the nation-wide delegate count. What’s more important to said superdelegate? Supporting the candidate chosen by the voters in his or her home state? Or the one with the higher total number of pledged delegates (assuming they are not the same)? As superdelegates do not appear to be representing states proportional to the number of superdelegates, I’d suggest that the nomination is indeed still an open race, and possibly will be even at the Convention should both campaigns still have the same “momentum.”

Maybe it’s deal time now that John McCain is officially the Republican nominee. Why not have an “unbeatable democratic ticket” by guaranteeing Obama an active vice presidency to get the experience he still needs (at least for the campaign) and let the two agree that Hillary Clinton will not run for a second term… we’ll see.