Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Election 2012 - Mega Post

There are a plethora of topics I'd like to talk about, and while many don't warrant their own post I thought I could just do a quick brain dump to celebrate the election.

On Punditry
538 and Princeton's Election Consortium have talked about this at length, but I thought it would be fun to touch on for a moment. Pundits this year have been awful. I'm not just talking about those on the right, who should be expected to just tell the world Romney is winning regardless of the odds, but pundits who should be expected to remain impartial or otherwise neutral have also been terrible.

This election has never been close. Sure, at times the national popular vote has been close but there has never been a credible pathway for a Romney victory through the Electoral College (you know, that thing that is the only thing that matters). At best his odds were akin to flipping a quarter 5 times and having each flip come up heads.

Al Franken talked about this a lot in one of his books, Lying Liars I think, but the media has far more biases towards sensationalism than anything else. Posturing that this race was close, too close to call (!!), was always something they were going to do regardless. It's disappointing that the media seems so willing to call a race close when it wasn't, especially since doing so entailed buying the Romney spin on everything.

On Right Wing Punditry
It's funny to just say that one should go on Intrade and bet against whatever Dick Morris says, but it's not completely inaccurate. Dick Morris, Karl Rove, Red State, and most everyone else on the right has been completely insane.

One of the reasons I'm so optimistic about this election, besides these things called "facts" you hear so much about, is that every analysis from the right has centered on things other than polls. All of these people will just shrug at the polls and say that they're oversampling Democrats (funny thing: everyone laughs at Unskewed Polls but this is literally the premise every other pundit on the right works from as well), or that Independents break toward the challenger, or tons of other things.

When a group of people's argument is that all you have to do is ignore the polls and just look at all these other things, you can tell they know things are looking bad and they're just lying to you.

To be fair, the one lone voice of reality on the right are the folks at Romney Mega Prayer. They are so certain that Obama is going to win that their last chance effort for Romney to win is to pray for it. That's as close to being in touch with reality and probability as we have on the right these days.

Speaking of certainty and probability...

Intrade
Intrade is crap. It literally makes no sense. The idea is somewhat sound, but this election year has broken it in a way that I think invalidates it completely.

Say you're the type of person who votes on elections, I am, and you sincerely believe Mitt Romney is going to win. Intrade will give you about +150% return on your investment if Mitt Romney were to win. That's not bad! The problem, though, is that at no point during the election year did Intrade give you a better return on your money than using an online betting company.

Markets are supposed to be intelligent, any sensible person knows they're not, and if the Intrade market worked you would see the numbers on Intrade tracking closely to that of online booking services. Seriously, if I thought Romney would win I would take that money where I could get the best return, and similarly if I thought Obama would win I would take it to where it could also get the best return. This should drive up the value of Obama until his stock on Intrade was close to these booking sites, and would also drive down the value of Romney until it was close to the booking sites.

Instead, we have a situation where in a marketplace of marketplaces there is a clear choice. If you believe Obama will win, and I've got money saying just that, you should put it into Intrade because you'll get the best return. If you think Romney will win you should put it elsewhere, for similar reasons. Instead we see many people buying Obama on Intrade, but a large amount of people buying Romney for reasons that I fail to understand.

Intrade has been volatile. There were instances where a single person would buy up Romney shares and drive his prices up. I think it is highly likely that there are people who have tried to manipulate that market to favor Romney, because if it reflected what it should, what the marketplace should dictate, it would become a news story.

This is just another example of a marketplace being inefficient. Congratulations capitalists, your false god is dead.

Libertarians
I talk about and think about libertarians a lot. I don't like them, but I know way too many and they have an increasingly loud voice in discussions these days.

To say that libertarians are dishonest would be a vast understatement, most of their arguments are inherently dishonest and craven, but they can't (unfortunately) just be laughed at.

What strikes me as interesting, and sad, is that libertarians seem to be voting for Romney. This goes to prove that all the crap libertarians try to do to get you squishy liberal types to side with them is all bullshit. Libertarians don't care about legalizing marijuana, or gay marriage, or ending wars abroad, or any of those issues. They are willing to sacrifice each and every one of those issues, and more such as abortion, so that taxes will be cut on the bourgeois class. That's it.

Libertarians are not your friends, they are just trying to put a happy face to the right's fascism. There is no there, there, and they will quickly give up all the beliefs they profess to care about if it means unfettered trade, destruction of the environment, and the destruction of the working class.

The easiest way to tell they are full of crap is to watch their language on the War on Drugs. Gary Johnson believes drugs should be legalized, but he also believes in privatizing prisons and then letting those corporations fund candidates who will keep drug sentencing draconian so as to make more profit for the prisons. At the end of the day, Gary Johnson is willing to sacrifice his stance on drugs if it means privatizing and enshrining corporate power against the best interests of the people.

Questioning Legitimacy
The most nefarious, cynical, and awful thing has been happening. While the above pundits might be spinning things in a last ditch attempt to create a Romney victory, they are also doing something far more sinister: they are making millions of people on the right believe that a Romney victory is certain, and that when Obama wins it will be because of criminal actions.

My biggest fear, and one I think is completely rational, is that we are going to see the very mechanics of today's elections questioned. From bullshit stories about people touching screens for Romney and coming up with Obama, to bullshit stories about undocumented workers voting, to bullshit stories of "voter registration fraud" (which is not an actual issue and anyone that reports on it is doing so because they're stupid or corrupt), to a litany of other issues we are going to see Obama's legitimacy called into question under the most vile conditions.

There's a lot to be said for how partisan we are. I have a hard time blaming it on spineless liberal weenies, although they do their fair share of culture warrior-ing against what they see as "rednecks", and it is mostly the fault of those on the right who sincerely hate anyone who is not straight, male, white, and Christian.

President Obama's first term has been plagued with the ugliest and most vile of accusations, and I believe it's going to be much worse going into the future. While people called into question his very legitimacy as a citizen and as a person, we're going to see the actual election called into question. Pundits have created a sense of certainty for Romney supporters, and their anger is going to be channeled into hatred and questions of legitimacy moving into the future. It's going to get ugly.

The Future
Moving into the future I expect I'll troll and otherwise just count coup on conservatives for a few days. These people have become awful, not all of them but enough to say what I'm saying, that I'll just brag about ACORN stealing the election for laughs. Because, seriously, ugh.

After that I fully expect to start yelling at you weak, awful, boot licking liberals who defend capitalism and the 1% but want to do so in a nice way, instead of the hateful and vitriolic way of the right. Don't misunderstand me, just because Romney is lamentable and worse than Obama doesn't mean I like you. We're temporary allies at best.

Unfortunately, and I say this with a really sad heart, I'm starting to increasingly be fearful that I may need to renounce my membership to the Socialist Party of the United States and become a Democrat. I know, I know. It's becoming increasingly clear, however, that we no longer have two parties: we have one and a half parties.

One party, the Republicans, exist to just shit on everything and yell about black people. They're really only half a party, and there's no conversation or debate to be had. There's no marketplace of ideas with these people, as they will constantly move the goal posts forever to the right and just be hateful at the opposing party no matter how much they capitulate.

The other party, the Democrats, are the party of moderates and the center. Instead of going to the left and thinking that they can work with the Republicans to find a moderate solution in the center, they instead have chosen to inhabit the center. Everything from health care insurance reform, to the stimulus, to their tax plan are all things that are very centrist and moderate things. They're not the leftist party, and they sneer at those that belong to fringe parties that are on the left.

What the Democrats have going for them, however, is that they remain a big tent. All actual political discourse and discussions happens in the Democratic Party. I think even "libertarian" types understand this, as we've seen them exercise more and more influence in the Democratic Party over issues like school vouchers and the like.

Unfortunately I'm starting to think the only way to move the conversation, to change policies, and to have your voice heard is to be an active member of the Democratic Party. The Republicans will never argue in good faith, and they argue for things that are demonstrably worse than the Democrats at every step, and the Democrats will only laugh at us in the SPUSA.

Moving into the future, however, we're going to get Four More Years and that's the most I could hope for right now. The next battle is to create change within the Democratic Party so they can better fight for the causes that really matter.
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