Free Markets, Free People


Handicapping the 2012 election

Two folks I respect and enjoy reading when it comes to election analysis are Nate Silver and Larry Sabato.  Both have a lot of experience, seem to have their heads on pretty straight and explain their methodology and reasoning fairly well.  Both are also a rare breed in that they don’t seem to let whatever political biases they have interfere with their analysis.

Recommended reading today from both of them.

Silver talks about how he has come to do his analysis of presidential races.  It’s a very interesting read for the political junkie and even for those who are less involved but want some way to do their own analysis of the goings on.  Probably the most controversial aspect of his analysis is what he calls the “the ideological positioning of the Republican candidate” (note: obviously, if it was a Republican in the White House, he would be talking about the ideological positioning of the Democratic candidate).  As he notes, it’s a bit of an intangible, but I think he has a point.  He also has “extreme” ratings for each of the current candidates and explains what that means in the big scheme of things.  

Interesting stuff which I’m sure will make for a good discussion.

Sabato, on the other hand, talks about how it is way too early to draw the curtain down on the GOP nominating process, even though (and I’m as guilty as anyone) many of us want to call it “over”.  Much of that is just wanting to get the process over with in what seems to be an eternal campaign.  But, as he points out, history says “not yet”.  The primaries are the crucible and surprises can and do happen.

Anyway, good stuff for political junkies.  A couple of sources for some fun discussion.  Don’t hesitate to weigh in.


Twitter: @McQandO

Department Of Homeland Security Reacts

DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano reacts to the uproar over the, and I use the phrase very loosely when referring to it, “analysis and intelligence” report released by her department on “rightwing extremists”:

The primary mission of this department is to prevent terrorist attacks on our nation. The document on right-wing extremism sent last week by this department’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis is one in an ongoing series of assessments to provide situational awareness to state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies on the phenomenon and trends of violent radicalization in the United States. I was briefed on the general topic, which is one that struck a nerve as someone personally involved in the Timothy McVeigh prosecution.

Let me be very clear: we monitor the risks of violent extremism taking root here in the United States. We don’t have the luxury of focusing our efforts on one group; we must protect the country from terrorism whether foreign or homegrown, and regardless of the ideology that motivates its violence.

We are on the lookout for criminal and terrorist activity but we do not – nor will we ever – monitor ideology or political beliefs. We take seriously our responsibility to protect the civil rights and liberties of the American people, including subjecting our activities to rigorous oversight from numerous internal and external sources.

I am aware of the letter from American Legion National Commander Rehbein, and my staff has already contacted him to set up a meeting next week once I return from travel. I will tell him face-to-face that we honor veterans at DHS and employ thousands across the department, up to and including the Deputy Secretary.

As the department responsible for protecting the homeland, DHS will continue to work with its state and local partners to prevent and protect against the potential threat to the United States associated with any rise in violent extremist activity.

A couple of points – if what we saw is the level of intelligence the department is gathering and is indicative of the sophistication of the analysis it sees fit to publish, we are all in very deep trouble. That is one of the worst products I’ve ever seen produced by an agency anywhere, and I’ve read hundreds of intelligence analysis in my time. No specifics, vague and over-generalized threats, and nonsensical reasoning were its hallmark. That was my primary problem with it. As I pointed out, half of America, to include the news media, falls under their “rightwing extremist” umbrella.

Secondly, as the commander of the American Legion so aptly put it, the report resorted to a “casual defamation” of all soldiers with its claim that they were likely to be recruited by right wing hate groups. So yeah, she needs to meet with him and she needs to apologize for that ‘casual defamation’ and also admit that the product that was sent out was, to be kind, a piece of crap.