Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

I’ve Been Busy…

…Partly due to the day job and partly due to all the Red/Blue posts. As a result, I’m now catching up on all my blog reading. Here are the highlights:

  • Sadly, No brings us the new Reservoir Dogs.
  • The Daily Howler readily demonstrates that Fred Barnes is a giant, comical, tool.
  • Rice Watch Day 20 (it’s been a while since the last update): Again via the Daily Howler, a link to a detailed letter from Henry Waxman to Condoleezza Rice. The letter outlines in great detail the contradictions in Rice’s various statements and politely requests explanations and clarification.
  • Digby notifies us that Ross Perot is still alive, and sounding rather shrill (in a Krugman sort of way) about the state of the economy and federal budget.
  • Adam in MA: Pangloss or Prophet? Adam writes:

    Let’s get something straight. There will be a Democratic president in the oval office in 2005. We are going to defeat President Bush next year.

  • Does this mean that we know who Horse is, and he’s Joe Conason? On a serious note, I’ve ordered my copy of Big Lies, have you? And how popular does Angry Bear have to get before I start getting advance copies (hint to Ivins and Franken)?
  • The California Recall is fun to watch, but I’ll eat Tucker Carlson’s unconsumed shoe if it affects the outcome in California in the 2004 Presidential race. California is going Democratic, no two ways about it. If Davis prevails, it’s a win for Democracy over Banana-Republicism. If a Republican wins the Governor’s Office, we can sit back and laugh as he either raises taxes, slashes spending so far that no Republican will win statewide office in California for decades, or sits back as California’s debt rating plummets (really, the only three choices when the state is $38b short). Because I don’t see this working out badly for Democrats in any way, I’m officially giving Arianna Huffington the highly sought Angry Bear Poetic Justice Endorsement.
  • I’ll take burgers and beer at Kevin’s place over the $500 (or for that matter, $50) BloggerCon.
  • Dwight Meredith points out that, in order for Bush’s claim on 4/24 about the job-creation effects of his tax cuts to be true, “the economy will now have to create 2,382,125 jobs in the last five months of the year. That works out to an average of 476,425 jobs per month.” I’ll happily eat Carlson’s other shoe if that happens.

AB

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Red and Blue Wrap Up

First, Sincere thanks to James Galbraith and The University of Texas Inequality Project (be sure to check it out) for all the maps and analysis.

Galbraith ran some more numbers, this time relating income levels to votes for Bush and Gore. The Theil Score is an index that give the highest scores to counties that both (1) have income farthest above the national average and (2) have larger populations. Such counties appear as dark red on Galbraith’s maps. Conversely, counties that have large populations but income well below the national average get negative Theil Scores (colored Blue in Galbraith’s maps). Counties that have either (a) very small populations or (b) income near the national average get Theil Scores near zero; these are the yellow and green regions on the map.

Here are Galbraith’s results connecting income and population to votes for Bush or Gore.

A. Of the counties with the top 100 Theil scores, Gore won 67.

B. Of the next 100, he won 39.

C. Of the next 500, he won only 43.

D. Of the next 800, he won only 118.

E. Of the bottom 1600, he won 356.

F. Of the bottom 100, he won 39.

[Keep reading Red and Blue Wrap Up…]

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Another Red-Blue Juxtaposition

Commenter Bear (no relation) points out that pictures from outer space also identify most of the Blue regions of the United States: areas that have light are overwhelmingly Blue (one could almost say that the enlightened regions of the country vote Blue). As with the income maps below, this only gives a subset of the Blue Regions because it fails to highlight the poor, rural, counties that also voted Gore in 2000.

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The picture is from a super-cool clickable and zoomable real time map of the earth as seen from space, maintained by Fourmilab Switzerland.

AB

UPDATE: Link to second picture fixed.

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Bloggered Update

Still no archives and I’ve been unable to publish for about the last 24 hours (I think that in the process of trying to fix the archives I messed more stuff up). Anyway, still no archives but posting seems to work now.

AB

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Climate Change

You may recall that recently the White House altered a report on Global Warming, replacing a statement that temperatures have risen significantly in the last decades with a reference to a paper by two astronomers, Willie Soon and Sallie Baliunas. The Soon and Baliunas paper argues that

…These results offer strong evidence that the climate of the 20th century was not unusual, but fell within the range experienced during the past 1,000 years…The available scientific evidence does not support the claim that the climate of the 20th century was unusual when compared to the climate of the previous 900 years.

That paper, its methodology, and its conclusion have been widely criticized (see also here).

Now, in his weekly newsletter, physicist Bob Park gives us some important background on Soon and Baliunas:

To appreciate its [the S&B paper] significance, we need to go back to March of 1998. We [presumably, members of the American Physical Society] all got a petition card in the mail urging the government to reject the Kyoto accord (WN 13 Mar 98). The cover letter was signed by “Frederick Seitz, Past President, National Academy of Sciences.” Enclosed was what seemed to be a reprint of a journal article, in the style and font of Proceedings of the NAS. But it had not been published in PNAS, or anywhere else. The reprint was a fake. Two of the four authors of this non- article were Soon and Baliunas…The article claimed that the environmental effects of increased CO2 are all beneficial…It was a dark episode in the annals of scientific discourse.

Read the first part of Park’s newsletter for a little insight into how the current administration chooses among conflicting scientific–or purportedly scientific–reports.

AB

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Bloggered

I was just about to write a post complimenting Google on how much more reliable Blogger has been lately. But now my archives are gone. Hopefully they’ll be back soon.

AB

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Ask and Ye Shall Receive

Earlier, I wrote about some new Red/Blue posts by Atrios and Nate Newman. Atrios linked to a map highlighting the areas with the most rapid increases in housing values and points out that the areas with the most rapid increases over the last few decades, meaning they are the places people want to live, are all Blue (i.e., Gore) “decadent liberal socialist enclaves.” In turn, this led me to speculate that it would be hard to tell a map with Blue highlighting Gore Counties from a map using Blue to highlight the counties with the greatest gains in property values. I left the proof as an exercise for the reader.

Reader and Researcher James K. Galbraith, who wrote a book on income inequality and also heads The University of Texas Inequality Project, sent me a great map with counties color-coded by the extent to which their income is above or below the national average. His conclusion:

As a rough cut, Gore won the rich places and the poor places. Bush won the middle-income places and the empty places.

Take a look at the two maps together (click to enlarge):

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Income Inequality by County
In Galbraith’s map, as he explains, “Red indicates the largest positive contribution–counties where the money is. Blue indicates the largest negative contributions: counties with significant populations and incomes well below average. Greens and yellows are counties with either insignificant populations or incomes near the average–[areas that contribute] little to inequality.”

The high income areas, Red in Galbraith’s map, are all Gore areas. But large swaths of the lowest income area, Blue in Galbraith’s map, also voted for Gore (e.g., the border areas in Southern Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico). This highlights the main point of Judis and Teixeira’s book, The Emerging Democratic Majority, that areas that (1) have a lot of people, (2) have a lot of money, or (3) are growing most rapidly, are all trending Democratic.

Back to my original hypothesis from the earlier post, you would be able to tell the vote map from the housing value appreciation map because Blue counties come in two varieties: (a) urban or (b) rural, non-white, and low income. The most rapid housing appreciation, on the other hand, is remarkably concentrated in urban areas.

AB

P.S. Here’s the original file (pdf) that Galbraith sent me; this paper (see the appendix) explains the Income Inequality measure used to construct his map.

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Gore Speaking Out at MoveOn.org

The DLC loves Gore, or at least likes him, but they don’t like Howard Dean. Meanwhile, Gore is starting to out-Dean Howard Dean:

Former Vice President Al Gore, assailing U.S. policies in Iraq and at home, on Thursday argued that the Bush administration “routinely shows disrespect” for the “honest and open debate” that produces the truth…

“…I think it’s partly because they feel they already know the truth, and aren’t very curious to learn about any facts that might contradict it”

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“…The direction in which our nation is being led is deeply troubling to me, not only in Iraq but also at home, on economic policy, social policy and environmental policy.

Millions of Americans now share a feeling that something pretty basic has gone wrong in our country, and that some important American values are being placed at risk, and they want to set it right.”

*****

The Department of Defense’s planned surveillance system, Total Information Awareness, was “right out of George Orwell’s ‘1984,”‘ Gore said.

…Gore argued that the administration used false pretenses to launch the war against Saddam Hussein, including claims that the Iraqi leader was involved in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and was on the verge of providing terrorists with chemical, biological and nuclear weapons.

“As a result, too many of our soldiers are paying the highest price for the strategic miscalculations, serious misjudgments and historic mistakes that have put them and our nation in harm’s way.”

And, in case you missed it, there’s a growing Draft Gore movement and this will surely increase his standing with such groups, though sadly it probably does little for his electability.

AB

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Red vs. Blue Update

Nathan Newman reports that The Tax Foundation has issued its latest report on who pays and who gets paid. The results: the Red States are subsidized by the Blue States. In Newman’s words,

“And large industrial “blue states” inevitably receive less. California receives only $5592 per capita for its citizens, New Jersey only $5509, Illinois only $5373. New York is doing better on getting aid than a few years ago, but still ranks only 26 on list of per capita receivers of aid.

So the next time you hear about a “welfare state”, think Bush-voting state.

Meanwhile, Atrios links to this NYT analysis of changes in housing prices from 1983 to 2003. In a nutshell, if you believe that people vote with their pocket books, then they are overwhelmingly voting for the Blue regions.

For previous Red vs. Blue posts, see the Topics section at the top left.

AB

P.S. Here’s a project for someone with lots of time on their hands: Take this map of red and blue counties in 2000. It’s one that Fox News and various conservatives love to cite because it is in fact overwhelmingly red, although most of the red areas are sparsely populated (if democracy were “one square mile, one vote” instead of “one person one vote” then Republicans would rule the country, but it’s not). Back to the project: Now find county-by-county data on changes in housing prices over the last 10 or 20 years. Sort them in decending order of changes in housing values. Identify the top 677 and the bottom 2,434 (the respective number of counties carried by Gore and Bush). Now use mapping software to color-code the map in Red (top 677 counties) and Blue (bottom 2,434 counties). Finally put the maps side by side–can you tell them apart?

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