If you entered my 2010 or 2011 Bowl Pick ‘em contest(s), you can log in with the OfficeFootballPool.com username & password that you created previously. (If you forgot your username and password, click here.)
If you didn’t enter my 2010 or 2011 contest(s), then after clicking here, you’ll need to click “NEW USER.” Next, you’ll be prompted to create a “Screen Name” — again, I encourage anyone who tweets to use their Twitter handle — create a Password, and enter your E-mail Address, “First Name,” “Last Name,” and (again) “Twitter Handle.”
You are not required to put your full, real name in the “First Name” and “Last Name” fields (though it’s encouraged), but please give me some way of knowing who you are — what I want to avoid is another situation where I have no idea who the winner is!
As always, the contest is free, and the winner gets acclaim, publicity, and eternal glory here on the blog and on Twitter — but no monetary prize. :) All picks are due by Saturday, December 15 at 11am Mountain Time (10am Pacific, 1pm Eastern), when the New Mexico Bowl kicks off. You can change your picks at any time before the deadline.
You pick the winners of each bowl game “straight up” (NOT against the spread, though the spread is shown for informational purposes only). There are no “confidence points”; instead, each correct pick is worth a predetermined number of points. A grand total of 60 points are possible, broken down as follows:
• 4 points: BCS National Championship Game
• 3 points each: All other BCS games
• 2 points each: All non-BCS bowls from December 29 through January 4
• 1 point each: All other bowls
In the event of a tie in point totals, tiebreakers are as follows:
1. Total # of games picked correctly (regardless of how many points each game is worth) 2. Correct pick of the BCS Championship Game winner 3. Closest to the combined total number of points in BCS Championship Game
So, there you go. Again, sign up here! Have fun! Good luck! Go Irish! :)
P.S. You can also enter by clicking here and then manually entering the Pool ID (67297) and the Pool Entry Code (firekiffin). USC fans may want to use that method just for the satisfaction of typing “firekiffin.” :)
Our “Elf on the Shelf,” Gatito (name explained here), re-emerged over the weekend after 11 months in a drawer at my office at the North Pole with Santa, and has begun his daily Christmas-season routine of observing the girls, flying to north each night to give a naughty-or-nice report to the Big Guy (little Orwellian surveillance tool that he is), then returning by morning in a new “hiding” spot.
The big girls are thrilled. It’s almost like every morning is Christmas morning, they’re so excited to get up and find their elf. It’s the first thing Loyette says when she pokes me awake: “Daddy, can we go downstairs and look for Gatito?” Thus far, Loyette has been the first to spot him in the morning twice, Loyacita once.
Notre Dame beat USC, 22-13 Saturday night, in what may prove to have been a best-case scenario for me: the #1-ranked Irish are headed for the BCS championship game in Miami, and USC’s Lane Kiffin might have gotten himself fired — Pat Haden’s previous assurances notwithstanding — thanks to a pair of utterly catastrophic goal-line sequences that cost the Trojans their chance at a fourth-quarter comeback.
More on Kiffin in a moment. But first: WOOOOO!!!! NOTRE DAME!!!!! WOW!!!!!
If you’d told me before the season that Notre Dame would go 12-0 and play for the national title, I would have been utterly flabbergasted. Just like lifelong ND fan and Solid Verbal podcast co-host Ty Hildenbrandt, I thought the very idea of Notre Dame going unbeaten was laughable. I looked at this team’s schedule and figured 9-3 was a stretch, let alone 12-0. So what they’ve done is simply amazing. Unbelievable. What though the odds be great or small…
And for those of you who will now proclaim that the Irish have no chance — zero, zilch, nada — of beating the SEC champion, I suggest you have a chat with 2002-03 Ohio State (given no chance of beating Miami), 2005-06 Texas (an afterthought to questions of whether USC was the best team in history), and 2006-07 Florida (no possible way they could beat those dominant Buckeyes) about predictive overconfidence in a sport where we know far less than we think about the top teams. For that matter, talk to Boise State and Utah and West Virginia and other huge-surprise winners of BCS bowls over the years. Or, hell, talk to Baylor about last week, or Texas A&M about two weeks ago. The point is, upsets can and do happen in college football, all the time, including title games, and including matchups where the very notion of an upset is considered absurd according to the conventional wisdom. Moreover, if you really drill down into their resumes instead of just chanting “S-E-C, S-E-C” over and over, it’s unclear how much Alabama and Georgia have really proven on the field, this year. Notre Dame may very well lose, but you’re a damn fool if you’re talk about that outcome like it’s pre-ordained.
Anyway… I did ultimately decide to root for the Irish tonight, for the reasons I discussed earlier. Once Florida had beaten Florida State — making an all-SEC national title game highly likely in the event of a USC win, and eliminating any possibility of Notre Dame back-dooring into the title game despite a loss — that was the final straw that caused me to stop dancing around the issue and pushed me into the pro-ND camp.
It was very, very weird, though, rooting against the men in cardinal & gold, regardless of the unique circumstances. It felt unnatural. I hope to never do it again.
But I’m very happy for the Irish. What an awesome accomplishment. GOOOO IRISH, BEEEEAT AN S-E-C TEAM TO BE NAMED LATER!!!
Now, about Kiffykins…
The ending of the game was unbelievably disastrous for him. First, he called a late “ice his own quarterback” timeout that appeared cost his team a touchdown (they got a field goal instead). Then, far more catastrophically, a noxious/glorious combination of horrible clock management, unbelievably bad play-calling, and indefensibly poor awareness of the game situation (and, of course, great defense by the Irish) caused USC to somehow turn a situation where they had the ball at the Irish 2-yard line, down 9, with well over 5 minutes left — which was causing ND fans everywhere to #PANIC — into a situation where, after nine shots at the end zone and zero points, they turned it over on downs with 2:33 left, and a Notre Dame victory was assured.
Kiffin, in other words, did not merely lose a second game to an archrival in a week, capping off a 7-5 season for a team that started off ranked #1 in the country. He managed to do so in a manner that drew all the attention to himself, highlighting his glaring weaknesses in the most humiliating manner possible. The alumni pressure to oust him will be intense and unrelenting. He’ll be gone by Tuesday.
If I’m right, like I said, that’s pretty much the best-case scenario for me:
If, the one time I root against USC, it’s the loss that gets Lane Kiffin fired, I’ll feel a lot better about that. #FireLaneKiffin
Back in 2004, when I enrolled at Notre Dame Law School and became an “Irish Trojan,” I wasn’t sure initially whether I would become a fan of Notre Dame’s sports teams. After all, my undergrad alma mater was USC, archrival of the Irish. I figured I’d wait and see how I felt about ND sports once I got there.
One thing I knew for sure, though: at a bare minimum, I would root for USC when they played the Irish.
When I arrived on campus in the land of Domers, I quickly fell in love with the school, its traditions, and yes, its sports teams. My first football game was an upset of a Top 10 Michigan team, which ended with the students — including myself and fellow USC alum Steve Shim — rushing the field. I was instantly hooked on Notre Dame football.
Whatever some Irish die-hards (in particular the reprobates at the ND Nation message board cesspool community) might say in the years to come, I became a genuine fan of the Fighting Irish right then and there. Love thee, Notre Dame. I cheered for the Irish every week, and I cheered hard. Well — every week but one, and there’s the rub. Regarding the rivalry game, I stuck to my guns: when Notre Dame played USC, I would of course root for the Trojans, my first alma mater. Indeed, USC’s epic win at Notre Dame in 2005 became a defining day of my entire decade. I would root for Notre Dame eleven games per season, but in that one game each year, USC-ND, I was a Trojan through and through.
Even way back in 2004, however, I do remember repeatedly articulating one nagging thought, distant and unrealistic though it seemed then, back in the glory years of Pete Carroll and the waning days of Ty Willingham: what the heck would I do if Notre Dame ever played USC in a situation where the Irish were undefeated and in the running for the national title, while USC was out of the BCS hunt, playing a game that’s essentially meaningless to them (outside of the rivalry itself) and simply attempting to play spoiler? Would I still root for USC, even though it meant destroying an Irish dream season for no tangible gain beyond the simple satisfaction of doing so? Or would I, in that unique situation, make an exception and root for the Irish?
My answer then, when I occasionally pondered this issue, was: “I’m just not sure.” That situation, I acknowledged to myself (and I’m pretty sure I said aloud on one or two occasions), would be genuinely difficult, and I really did not know how I’d handle it. And, in the more than eight years since then, I’ve never had to decide.
Well, now I damn well have to decide.
Next Saturday, Notre Dame will play USC at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. It will be the marquee game of the post-Thanksgiving weekend, College Gameday will be there, and with good reason: the Irish will come in as the #1-ranked team in the country, thanks to tonight’s losses by Kansas State and Oregon. Win, and Notre Dame is going to the national championship game, probably to play Alabama or Georgia. Lose, and they’re almost certainly out of the title hunt (and we get into a situation of total #CHAOS that could result in the nightmare of an Alabama-Florida BCS title matchup).
USC, meanwhile, is 7-4, and bound for some crappy third-tier bowl regardless of Saturday’s outcome. The preseason #1 Trojans will be playing for pride, and to be a spoiler — nothing more. Arguably, a loss to Notre Dame could even be beneficial to USC’s longer-term prospects, as such a disastrous end to the Trojans’ season against their two hated rivals might force Pat Haden to fire Lane Kiffin, whatever he says now. Regardless, the Trojans have essentially nothing to gain in the big picture by beating the Irish, whereas Notre Dame has everything to gain, and an enormous amount to lose.
All these years, since I became an “Irish Trojan” in 2004, I’ve faithfully rooted for USC over Notre Dame every time they’ve played, indeed I’ve rooted EXTRA HARD for USC when the Trojans were playing the Irish, really living up the whole dual loyalties thing. I’ve said “I root for Notre Dame in every game but one” more times than I can count. Over and over, I’ve proclaimed that I always root for my first, original alma mater, my undergrad over my law school. Always.
But… but… in this unique situation… where Notre Dame is playing for a shot at the national title… and USC is playing for nothing (except for the mere fact of beating Notre Dame, which is, of course, never literally “nothing”)… is it justifiable to make an exception? …
I know that, if root for ND, I’ll be tarred and feathered by a “bandwagon” fan, probably by both USC fans and to some extent ND fans as well. But let me just say, the issue is NOT which team is “better.” If USC were 2-9 and Notre Dame were 9-2, there’s no question I’d root for the Trojans. Likewise, if Notre Dame were 11-0 … and USC were 10-1 and ranked #5, but still had a shot at the title if they beat ND and other dominoes fell, I’d definitely root for the Trojans. The only reason this is an issue is because ND has a shot at the national title while the game is effectively meaningless for USC.
Right now, I sort of feel like, when they kick off, my heart is going to be with Notre Dame. But I’m not sure. And I feel like I should feel guilty about that. Maybe.
I asked for people’s comments on my dilemma, and the reactions were fascinating.
Jonathan Sickinger of South Hadley, MA, a Democrat and Obama supporter who started following me due to my Pajamas Media Weather Nerd blog coverage of Hurricanes Isaac and Sandy, appears to have won the 3rd quadrennial Living Room Times Electoral College Contest with 538 points and a perfect prediction map.
This “call” of the contest winner — “RIGHT NOW!” as Wolf Blitzer would say — assumes that Barack Obama wins Florida, which has not officially been announced yet, but appears inevitable. Continue reading »
Barack Obama re-elected, and by a comfortable margin both electorally and popularly. Nate Silver, and the concept of objective facts, vindicated against the Right’s ritual denialists. The Democratic Senate majority, which seemed doomed a year ago, expanded. Marijuana legalized in Colorado. Gay marriage legalized at the ballot box in Maine, Maryland and Washington (and an anti-gay marriage amendment defeated in Minnesota). The GOP caucus in the Colorado State Assembly, which egregiously contorted legislative procedures — completely shutting down the people’s business at the eleventh hour — to prevent passage of a civil unions bill that had the votes to pass, kicked out of the majority. A local school bond issue, which will fund the construction of our girls’ eventual high school in our rapidly growing neighborhood, passed. Wingnut senatorial candidates defeated in Missouri and Indiana (the latter by a Notre Dame Law School alum, no less). Crackpot Congressman Allen West ousted. Really, last night couldn’t have gone any better from my perspective.
Well, okay, Michele Bachmann could have lost, too, as she almost did. But that would’ve been just an embarrassment of riches.
The best part of the night, though, was watching it all unfold with Loyette and Loyacita, and engaging them in the process. They were very much into updating their puzzle (above) and their Giant Electoral College Thermometers (below), among other things. Even Loyabelle got into the action at one point, practically chasing me around the living room with a marker she found on the floor, wanting to draw on an electoral map. Heh.
Loyette, who became a huge Mitt Romney fan (“because he’s handsome”) during the GOP primaries when we would watch parts of the debates, and maintained that fandom into the general election — even getting to shake his hand at a rally that I took her to just before the Denver debate — would ultimately be disappointed by the result, of course. But she didn’t know about it until this morning, and in fact, she was pretty excited last night, as Romney led in the electoral count for most of the evening.
Because it was Election Night, we kept the older girls up past their usual ~7:00-7:30 PM bedtime, but finally put them to bed around 8:30 PM — about 45 minutes before this happened:
Romney, in fact, was still leading — just barely — on the thermometers when the girls last updated them before bedtime, as you can see in the earlier photo. But I pretty much knew he was going to lose, based on the way things were going in Florida and elsewhere, so I tried to prepare Loyette for that eventuality. (Loyacita preferred Obama, though she wasn’t nearly as invested either way in the outcome as her big sister.) Just before our goodnight hugs and kisses, I explained to Loyette that, even though Mitt Romney was winning, “I think he might lose,” and she shouldn’t be “shocked” if she finds out in the morning that he did. She announced that she would be very sad and would cry if that happened, but she also asked me to leave her a “note” outside her door telling her the result, so she could find out immediately upon waking up, and not be “shocked.” I did that, and as expected, there were some tears this morning — “Daddy, I’m really sad Mitt Romney lost. I really wanted him to win.” — but she avoided a total meltdown, at least thus far. (As Jim Kelly quipped on Facebook: “Sounds like she handled it better than Dick Morris or Karl Rove then.” Heh.) We’ll see how it goes this evening, when I’ve promised the girls they can finish their thermometers and their puzzle…
Anyway, my election liveblog is technically still active; I’ll probably shut it down later tonight, but I wanted to wait until a few final races are “called” and I can come as close as possible to finality on the Electoral College Contest. Speaking of which, I’ll post an update here about that later, again probably tonight. Stay tuned.
Meanwhile, I’m already thinking about how to make the midterm elections engaging for the girls, who will be almost 3 1/2, almost 5 1/2, and almost 7 by the time November 2014 rolls around…
It’s too early to be remotely certain, but Hurricane Sandy has the potential to become a big f***in’ deal for the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, transitioning into an epic storm of historic proportions — not a major hurricane per se, but a monster warm-core/cold-core hybrid, possibly a “subtropical hurricane” (a category which isn’t even supposed to exist) — and slamming the region early next week with lots of rain and wind, huge storm surge and severe coastal flooding (at astronomical high tide, no less), and, on the western edge of the storm, crippling snowfall (!). It could be like a Nor’easter on steroids, a rerun of the “Perfect Storm” of 1991, or conceivably something even worse. And all of this a week before the election, with potential aftermath effects lasting well past November 6.
Here’s what the Euro model predicts for late Monday night, per WeatherBell:
[I]t’s worth noting that two major swing states — Virginia and New Hampshire — plus North Carolina and Pennsylvania, if you consider those genuine swing states…, and to a lesser extent Florida, could be impacted by this storm in the week before the election. Heck, the eastern part of Ohio, the swing state to end all swing states, may get some snow from it. …
[Moreover], if Sandy does strike the northeast a week before the election, and does cause massive, widespread and long-lasting power outages, as well as enormous damage to trees and such — not to mention crippling snow over the Appalachians (and maybe parts of Ohio???) — … [w]e could well see depressed voter turnout throughout the affected region, if the infrastructural damage is still being significantly felt a week later, which seems possible. That might not affect the outcome of the presidential race (unless Ohio really is hard-hit), but, as my father points out via e-mail, it could harm President Obama’s popular vote totals, if folks in Democratic strongholds — particularly New York — don’t vote because the storm’s aftermath makes it too inconvenient (and besides, they know they aren’t in a swing state, so why go to all the extra trouble?). There’s been a lot of talk about Obama winning the electoral vote but losing the popular vote, like Bush in 2000; in a worst-case scenario, Sandy’s effects could made that more likely. Sandy could also impact some key congressional races, notably the U.S. Senate battles in Connecticut and Massachusetts. …
Hurricane Sandy has the potential to make people forget Irene and Halloween snow from 2011. May it instead turn out to sea…
Possible effects of Hurricane Sandy:
1. SEVERE coastal erosion
2. damaging storm surge
3. flooding rains
4. crippling snows on western edge
5. people without electricity for a long time
6. voting turnout affected the next week
7. President Obama having to tend to a national emergency in the run-up to the election
I might add, “8. Mitt Romney needing to blunt harsh criticisms of President Obama in the final days of the campaign because of the perception that it’s unseemly to attack the president when he’s tending to a national emergency.” Unless of course the Obama Administration’s response is perceived as inadequate or incompetent, in which case all bets are off. Likewise, in this scenario, Obama would need to cool it with the attacks on Romney during the final week of the campaign, and with campaigning generally, in order to appear focused on addressing the national emergency. Joe Biden and perhaps Bill Clinton would probably become Obama’s major campaign-trail surrogates in such a scenario, and their message would need to be less hard-edged because of the sensitivities of the moment.
I suspect, if Sandy continues to look like a big potential problem — a “big f***ing deal,” as someone once said — we’ll soon start to see conspiracy theories suggesting that Obama will try to delay the election because of the storm. That won’t happen. But, in a worst-case scenario, Sandy and its aftermath could definitely become a big part of the story of the election.
P.S. On another note, Nate Silver says Ohio now has a 50-50 chance of deciding the election. Compare that to the #2 through #9 ranked “tipping point” states: Wisconsin 10%, Virginia 10%, Nevada 9%, Iowa 7%, Colorado 5%, Pennsylvania 3%, New Hampshire 3%, Florida 2%. Put another way:
We are now running about 40,000 Electoral College simulations each day. In the simulations that we ran on Monday, the candidate who won Ohio won the election roughly 38,000 times, or in about 95 percent of the cases. (Mr. Romney won in about 1,400 simulations despite losing Ohio, while Mr. Obama did so roughly 550 times.)
To which I say:
(That’s a photo of our new red state/blue state puzzle, which is awesome. And no, this is not my official prediction for the Electoral College Contest. I’m waiting for more data to make my picks at the last minute, but if I were predicting today, I would probably flip Colorado and New Hampshire from what this map shows. That said, it doesn’t matter — either candidate could win both CO and NH, or they could split the states in either direction, and Ohio would still be decisive on this map.)
This is fascinating. Obama’s re-election next month is guaranteed if he can hold on and win the five contiguous states outlined in orange below, all of which, even after his precipitous decline since the Denver debate, he still leads by between 2.4% and 5.0% in the Real Clear Politics averages:
That map gives Obama exactly 270 electoral votes. It assumes that Romney wins Virginia (currently tied) and Colorado (Mitt by 0.2%), as well as North Carolina and Florida (which I’ve always felt would be in Romney’s column in a close election). The map also posits Romney comebacks in Nevada, where Obama currently leads by 3.0% in the RCP average (and where there’s some reason to believe the polls may be understating Obama’s support) and New Hampshire, where Obama leads by 0.8%. The map even gives Romney the sparsely-polled rural 2nd Congressional District of Maine, which became about 0.8% less Democratic after redistricting, bringing it slightly closer to New Hampshire (it has ranged between 1.5% and 4.5% more Democratic than New Hampshire in recent presidential elections) and thus making it potentially more competitive — if still a bit of a reach for Romney. Yet even though we’re generously giving Romney all of those swing states (and one swing district), Obama would still win, 270-268, because of the Midwestern firewall.
The current poll averages in the “firewall” states? Obama is up by 2.4% in Ohio, by 2.8% in Wisconsin, by 3.3% in Iowa, and by 5.0% in both Pennsylvania and Michigan. Those aren’t exactly landslide margins, but they’re robust enough that you’ve got to take this potential firewall seriously, at least for the moment.
Because of their geographic proximity and rough similarity, these five states are likely to move somewhat in sync with one another in the polling. It would be surprising, for instance, to see Obama stay at +3% in Wisconsin, but suddenly sink to -3% in Iowa. Thus, while it’s entirely possible that Romney’s overall standing will improve enough that he sweeps the Midwestern bloc — or at least its three closest states (Iowa, Wisconsin and Ohio) — it’s harder to see him micro-targeting and “picking off” just one specific Midwestern state without moving the polls in the other. Put another way, he needs to generally get 2-3 points better in the Midwest to have a real shot.
The flip side of this point: if Obama starts showing vulnerability — in the poll average, not just in an individual outlier poll or two — within the Midwestern firewall, that’ll mean it’s time for Democrats to really start to #PANIC. My guess is that the firewall will either hold completely, or crumble completely.
Exit question: Why on earth did Romney write an editorial titled “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt” back in November 2008? I’m not addressing the substance of it, just the politics. He wasn’t a member of Congress; he wasn’t the governor of an affected state; he didn’t have to decisively weigh in, vote “Yes” or “No,” or otherwise take a firm stance. He could have vacillated, waited to see which way the wind blew, and taken a position after-the-fact, as he and so many other politicians have done on so many issues. Instead — to his credit, in a certain respect — he came out and took a stand. And that stand might cost him the presidency. If Obama’s Midwestern firewall holds, the candidates’ respective positions on the auto bailout will surely be a key reason why.
P.S. An earlier version of this post, containing various elaborate scenarios regarding New Hampshire, Maine and Nevada, was erroneous because I made a critical error in composing the map. In flipping states from 2004, I forgot to give New Mexico to Obama. So the post, as originally written, was totally wrong. Oops.
One of the greatest American political traditions took place last night: the Al Smith Dinner, at which both presidential candidates roast one another — and themselves — in front of an audience of wealthy coastal elites in New York City. Both Obama and Romney were hilarious. Here they are:
I’d encourage you to watch both videos, but if you don’t have time, some of the candidates’ best lines are quoted after the jump.
With less than three weeks until the presidential election, the polls are open for my quadrennial blog contest to see who can best predict the Electoral College outcomes! It’s time to start playing with the red & blue map, like Loyette and Loyacita:
The entry deadline is Election Eve — Monday, November 5 — at 7:00 PM Mountain Time (9pm Eastern, 6pm Pacific). Feel free to enter early, and then re-enter later if you change your mind; I will assume that the last entry I receive is the final one, and will discard any earlier entries, unless you tell me otherwise. If you have any questions, or just want to make a minor change to your entry, e-mail me at irishtrojan [at] gmail.com.
* Each contestants will receive between 0 and 538 points, depending on how close they come to a “perfect map.” For each correctly-predicted state/district, the contestant receives as many points as the state/district has electoral votes. So, for instance, it’s better to get both Iowa (6) and Nevada (6) wrong, and everything else right, than to get just Ohio (18) wrong. The map that missed only IA & NV would get 526 points; the map that missed only OH, 520.
* I will abide by the final popular-vote result in each state/district as certified by the relevant governing authority in that jurisdiction; “faithless electors” will not be taken into account. A winner will be declared as soon as the state-by-state election results are sufficiently complete that such a declaration is possible, whether that’s on election night or weeks later. I will use my best judgment to fairly determine the operative winner for contest purposes in the event of any disputed state results.
* There is no requirement that the contest winner must necessarily have predicted the correct overall winner in the election (although that is a tiebreaker, as you’ll see). The object of the game is to predict each state correctly. If you only get, say, New Hampshire wrong, even if that one error happens to change the national winner, you’ll still beat someone who had the right national winner but picked Florida wrong, for instance.
* Tiebreakers are similar to, but slightly different from, last time around. They are as follows, in order:
1. In the event of a tie in points, a contestant who correctly predicts the overall national electoral vote winner (again, going by the popular-vote results in each state, ignoring “faithless electors”) prevails over a contestant who predicts the wrong national winner. NOTE: For purposes of this rule, a 269-269 map is regarded as predicting an Romney victory, and a 269-269 result is considered a Romney victory (because the Republicans have a mortal lock on a majority of the House delegations in more than 25 states, so Romney would become president in any 269-269 scenario, unless a number of House Republicans defect and vote for Obama, which seems inconceivable to me).
2. Among still-tied contestants, whoever gets the fewest number of states wrong prevails. So, for instance, all other things being equal, it’s better to get Wisconsin wrong (10 EVs) than to get both Iowa (6) and New Hampshire (4) wrong. For purposes of this rule, the District of Columbia counts as a “state.” As for Maine and Nebraska, if a contestant gets the at-large result right, but a congressional district or two wrong — or vice-versa — this will be counted as a “half-state” wrong.
3. Among still-tied contestants, whoever comes closer, in absolute value terms, to predicting President Obama’s electoral vote total prevails. This rule rewards “offsetting” errors when two maps otherwise contain the same number of mistakes. So, for instance, suppose Obama wins Iowa (6) and Wisconsin (10), but Romney wins Nevada (6). Now support Map #1 gets Iowa and Wisconsin wrong, giving Romney both states. Map #2 gets Wisconsin wrong, giving it to Romney, and also gets Nevada wrong, giving it to Obama. Both maps are off by 16 EVs, and by 2 states. But Map #1 gives Obama 16 fewer electoral votes than he actually received, while Map #2 comes within 4 electoral votes of Obama’s actual total. Map #2 therefore wins this tiebreaker.
4. Among still-tied contestants, whoever comes closer, in absolute value terms, to predicting how many Senate seats the Republicans will win, prevails. The result will be based on election results only; any post-election party switches (or surprise Angus King caucusing decisions) will not be considered.
5. Among still-tied contestants, whoever comes closer, in absolute value terms, to predicting how many House seats the Republicans will win, prevails. Again, the result will be based on election results only; any post-election party switches will not be considered.
6. Among still-tied contestants, anyone who correctly predicted the state with the closest popular-vote margin (in percentage terms) defeats anyone who failed to do so.
7. Among still-tied contestants, whoever comes closer, in absolute value terms, to predicting Obama’s national popular-vote margin of victory/defeat, prevails. (All Romney & Obama popular-vote predictions are rounded to the nearest tenth of percent.)
8. Among still-tied contestants, whoever comes closer, in absolute value terms, to predicting Gary Johnson’s national popular-vote total, prevails. (All Johnson popular-vote predictions are rounded to the nearest hundredth of percent.)
9. Among still-tied contestants, whoever comes closer, in absolute value terms, to predicting Obama’s raw vote total in Colorado, prevails. (Contestants are encouraged to give an exact total, down to the individual vote, in order to prevent ties.)
10. In the unlikely event that a tie remains, whoever entered the contest earlier, prevails. (Any changes to one’s prediction resets their prediction time to the date and time of the last change.)
The first presidential debate is upon us, and the political world has temporarily descended on my city, Denver, and specifically on the university — indeed, the very arena — where I’ve spent so much blogging about basketball these last few years, the University of Denver’s Magness Arena. I don’t have credentials to attend the main event, but I did manage to get inside to check out the debate hall and the preparations on Debate Eve. Photos here, including this ridiculous bit of epic Mid-Majority win:
Anyway, I’m taking a long-planned day off work Wednesday, and will be tweeting — first from Marco Rubio’s morning rally, then from some portion of DU’s “DebateFest,” then probably from our family “debate watch” at home, and perhaps even from a Green Party rally afterward — and I’ll be using CoverItLive to collect, publish and archive it all. Becky’s tweets, too. Here goes:
In 2009, my first full year working as an attorney, I was supporting a family of four on a single income. Because of the child tax credit, the mortgage and student loan deductions, and various other credits and deductions for which Becky and I qualified, I ultimately did not pay any federal income tax that year. I received a refund of my entire federal income-tax withholding, and then some. This means I was part of “the 47%” of non-taxpayers.
“The 47%” is a concept that’s been widely discussed in online conservative circles, a shorthand to refer to the Randian fear that an increasingly large percentage of the population has no “skin in the game” and are basically a bunch of moochers and parasites. In reality, however, the 47% of non-taxpayers is a diverse group that’s made up partly of people like me in 2009 (middle-class working folks who qualify for lots of credits and deductions); partly of elderly people who worked their entire lives and now depend on Social Security; and partly of poor people, both working and non-working — some of whom, yes, receive various forms of government assistance. It also includes various other groups who don’t pay federal income taxes for specific reasons, such as active duty combat troops (!). Mitt Romney thinks the 47% are all a bunch of welfare queens and food-stamp recipients, he thinks this group shares a lifestyle that he can reasonably denounce as lacking personal responsibility and betraying an entitlement mentality, but he’s just categorically wrong. This is a matter of fact, not opinion. The 47% is a vastly different group than he apparently imagines it to be.
Although I am a Democrat, I have defended Romney when he’s been criticized for previous “gaffes” that were really harmless statements taken out of context, like “corporations are people too,” “I like being able to fire people,” and “I’m not concerned about the very poor.” Those were poorly worded statements, but — much like Obama’s “you didn’t build that” — the actual context was clear, and relatively inoffensive. This, though, is different. Romney said precisely what he meant, and it’s completely indefensible in every respect. The context makes it worse, not better.
(The only remotely equivalent comment that Obama has ever made, to my knowledge, is his infamous “bitter clingers” remark in 2008. That was pretty bad — I think @polarscribe is right that it wasn’t quite as bad as this, but it was genuinely bad, and I criticized him for it at the time. To this day, I think he’s lucky it wasn’t fatal to his campaign, largely due to good timing: it happened late enough that it couldn’t meaningfully help Hillary Clinton, who was already hopelessly behind, but early enough that Hillary used it extensively and made it “old news” long before the general election, so McCain couldn’t get as much mileage out of it as he could’ve if it had emerged in, oh I dunno, let’s say mid-September. Romney may not be so lucky.)
Romney wasn’t going to get my vote anyway; my decision is between President Obama and Gary Johnson. But this outrageous statement by Romney really cements my disdain for him. A man so ignorant of the basic nature of our tax code, so callously indifferent to the needless divisiveness of his own words, and so willing to engage in sweeping generalizations about other people’s “beliefs” — thereby insulting the character of millions of his fellow Americans based solely on their tax status — is unfit to be President of the United States.
UPDATE: I thought I’d put my feelings in photo form, a la those 1% / 99% photos that were all the rage last year:
In 1960, government transfers to individuals totaled $24 billion. By 2010, that total was 100 times as large. Even after adjusting for inflation, entitlement transfers to individuals have grown by more than 700 percent over the last 50 years. This spending surge…has increased faster under Republican administrations than Democratic ones.
There are sensible conclusions to be drawn from these facts. You could say that the entitlement state is growing at an unsustainable rate and will bankrupt the country. You could also say that America is spending way too much on health care for the elderly and way too little on young families and investments in the future.
But these are not the sensible arguments that Mitt Romney made at a fund-raiser earlier this year. Romney, who criticizes President Obama for dividing the nation, divided the nation into two groups: the makers and the moochers. Forty-seven percent of the country, he said, are people “who are dependent upon government, who believe they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to take care of them, who believe they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it.”
This comment suggests a few things. First, it suggests that he really doesn’t know much about the country he inhabits. Who are these freeloaders? Is it the Iraq war veteran who goes to the V.A.? Is it the student getting a loan to go to college? Is it the retiree on Social Security or Medicare?
It suggests that Romney doesn’t know much about the culture of America. Yes, the entitlement state has expanded, but America remains one of the hardest-working nations on earth. Americans work longer hours than just about anyone else. Americans believe in work more than almost any other people. Ninety-two percent say that hard work is the key to success, according to a 2009 Pew Research Survey.
It says that Romney doesn’t know much about the political culture. Americans haven’t become childlike worshipers of big government. On the contrary, trust in government has declined. The number of people who think government spending promotes social mobility has fallen.
The people who receive the disproportionate share of government spending are not big-government lovers. They are Republicans. They are senior citizens. They are white men with high school degrees. As Bill Galston of the Brookings Institution has noted, the people who have benefited from the entitlements explosion are middle-class workers, more so than the dependent poor. …
Sure, there are some government programs that cultivate patterns of dependency in some people. I’d put federal disability payments and unemployment insurance in this category. But, as a description of America today, Romney’s comment is a country-club fantasy. It’s what self-satisfied millionaires say to each other. It reinforces every negative view people have about Romney.
Personally, I think he’s a kind, decent man who says stupid things because he is pretending to be something he is not — some sort of cartoonish government-hater. But it scarcely matters. He’s running a depressingly inept presidential campaign. Mr. Romney, your entitlement reform ideas are essential, but when will the incompetence stop?
It won’t. Republicans are (probably, barring some unexpected sea change) going to lose this highly winnable election because they chose the worst major-party nominee since either Dukakis or Mondale. Yes, despite the obvious parallels, he’s even worse than Kerry, I now believe. He’s unbelievably bad.
But back to Romney’s statement. The words he used, in the context he created, are completely indefensible. Folks who claim his statement was “accurate” because of some unjustifiably narrow reading of what he said (the 47% is an accurate number, so he was right, and let’s ignore all the ‘beliefs’ and character traits he universally ascribed to the 47%), or supposedly “meant” to say (he wasn’t referring to hard-working people, he meant the true “dependents”…and we’ll ignore that they’re a small minority of the 47%, thus completely contradicting his entire damn point), are blindly partisan apologists — period. No properly informed, intellectually honest person can defend the substance of these comments. Only the ignorant and the dishonest can or would.
“Unfit to be president” is, admittedly, on reflection, probably a bit overwrought. But what Romney said was wrong, offensive, and factually indefensible, and he needs to apologize fully and completely. But of course he can’t and won’t, because doing so would require admitting that, as Brooks says, he fundamentally doesn’t understand the nation he is asking voters to let him govern.
Again, for coverage of T.S. Isaac, check out my Pajamas Media “Weather Nerd” blog, and also follow me on Twitter. Forget Tampa and the RNC — that’s a sideshow. This storm is looking increasingly scary for New Orleans, though there’s still a great deal of uncertainty. Here’s what one computer model predicted Saturday night:
Yikes!! But again, that’s just one run of one computer model, and there’s lots of uncertainty. Click those PJM and Twitter links for more!
It’s way too early to be certain of where Tropical Storm Isaac will go, but Republican National Convention organizers have to be pretty nervous right now. The official NHC forecast has Isaac, by then a Category 1 hurricane, making a beeline for Tampa on the first day of the RNC (next Monday), and the most recent run of the GFS computer model has a fierce-looking hurricane sitting just offshore as of next Wednesday morning:
Dr. Jeff Masters says, “I put the odds of an evacuation occurring during the convention in the current situation at 3%.” I’ve posted a full update at my Weather Nerd blog, and will be posting updates there as often as I can, and also on Twitter, of course.
One does not simply walk into Medicare. Its red ink is guarded by more than just Democrats. There is an AARP there that does not sleep, and the Great Grandma is ever watchful. It is a barren wasteland, riddled with demagoguery and deception and despair. The very political discourse you crave is a poisonous fume. Not with ten thousand Tea Partiers could you do this. It is folly.
I realize this blog has basically gone dormant — indeed, I’m thinking of making that formal, suspending the blog (with the ability to restart it later if/when I so desire) and starting up a Tumblr, largely to save money on server costs and increase social-media interaction — but just in case anyone is checking in on me here, I wanted to say that Becky and I and the kids are all fine. The theater where moviegoers were massacred during a midnight showing of the new Batman movie is about 6 miles from us, and is the second- or third-closest major movie theater to us, so this does “hit close to home.” But we were safe and sound, all fast asleep, when this senseless tragedy occurred.
It’s sure been a crappy summer in Colorado, in terms of bad news. Devastating wildfires, a fatal shooting at Denver’s weekly City Park Jazz summer festival, and now this. Ugh.
Meet the latest addition to the Loy family menagerie: Bailout #PANIC Loy. "Bailey" for short. :)
Bailey is an 8-week-old yellow lab puppy from Joplin, Missouri, who we adopted yesterday through the Rocky Mountain Lab Rescue.
She joins our three cats (Toby, Sasha and Butter), four chickens (Belle, Rapunzel, Cinderella and Briar Rose) and two fish (Goldie and Romney). And of course that’s not mentioning our three daughters. All are female, with the possible exception of the fish.
I don’t have my promised Flickr gallery of the Transit of Venus online just yet, but here’s a 3-minute video of portions of the transit. The first 2 minutes of footage are sped up between 4x and 20x and set to pertinent music; the final minute is normal speed, with chit-chat and a round of applause as Venus and the Sun set behind the mountains.
John Philip Sousa FTW.
Video taken with my Sony HDR-XR350V camcorder, with one lens from a pair of Rainbow Symphony solar viewing glasses duct-taped to the front of the camera.
Yesterday was I day I’d been literally counting down to for 6 1/2 years, or 2,935 days — and it totally lived up to the hype. My first and last viewing of a Transit of Venus was simply awesome, and well worth the drive to Carbondale.
(Now, only 1,902 days until the next big event! Heh.)
Anyway, after returning home from the mountains at around 12:30 AM, I downloaded all of my transit photos and videos, but I haven’t had a chance to process and upload them yet. I hope to do that tonight. I’ll eventually be posting a full gallery on Flickr, and some Vimeo clips. So, stay tuned.
In the mean time, to tide you over, here’s a picture I got of the “black drop effect“:
I took that photo 13 seconds after the one that I tweeted. Both were shot through the viewfinder of a telescope. (I would eventually figure out how to reduce the exposure a bit, resulting in less overexposed pics, through the same telescope, like this one.)
Also, here’s a photo of me next to the Transit of Venus — well, next to a pinhole projection thereof, anyway.
If you look really closely, you can just barely make out Venus in the “southwest” portion of the Sun (which is upside-down due to the pinhole device’s mirror). You can see it more easily if you look at a larger version of the photo.
Here’s one where you can see Venus more clearly, but me less clearly:
Hey, last chance till 2117 — I needed photographic proof that I was there. :)
After the jump, my personal Storify timeline of the transit, chronicling — with tweets, RTs replies and @mentions — my experience, starting with my decision about where to watch from (Tucson, Denver, or the Rocky Mountains?) and then continuing with my road trip to Carbondale, Colorado, and my viewing of the transit.
What an absolutely phenomenal view and experience of the Transit of Venus in Carbondale, Colorado. It was well worth the three-hour drive. Many thanks to the members of the Three Rivers Astronomy Club, who hosted a truly awesome transit party, and let me & other members of the public use their telescopes (and take pictures like the one below). More photos & videos to come later.
The Transit of Venus is just hours away (it starts at 4:05 PM MDT and goes until sunset, which is around 8pm), and while I didn’t take that flight to Tucson, I have decided to drive three hours west, into the Rocky Mountains, to find a better viewing location. Actually, I’ve already found it: a field near St. Vincent’s Church in Carbondale, Colorado, where the Three Rivers Astronomy Club will be setting up shop with numerous telescopes.
That’s a computer model projection of the cloud cover at 6:00 PM tonight. The plus sign on the left is Carbondale; the one on the right is Denver. It appears that Denver — and all points north, east and south — will continue to have a veil of high clouds, probably with some low/medium clouds mixed in, throughout the transit. But by going west, I can get behind the cloud line, to crystal clear skies. So I’m going west.
Brendan Loy is a 31-year-old attorney, erstwhile journalist, and veteran blogger in Denver, CO. He formerly blogged as the "Irish Trojan." Brendan's wife, Rebecca Loy, also 30, is a stay-at-home mom in Denver. Brendan and Becky have three daughters, whose blog nicknames are "Loyette," "Loyacita" and "Loyabelle." More info here. Several others blog here in The Guest Room.
The Living Room Times is named after Brendan's old school newspaper, circa 1993-1999. All viewpoints are welcome and vigorous debate is encouraged, but to combat spam and trolling, you must be registered to comment. You can read the "blog rules" here. View alternate mastheads here.