I Didn’t Vote

I didn’t vote because of the new NH VoterID law.  If voting is a right you don’t need to show an ID.  I don’t need to show a bureaucrat an ID to go into church, I don’t need to show an ID to speak on the street corner, and Part 1st , Article 11 says that elections are to be “Free”, as in free speech, free exercise of religion, a free press, etc.  Any extant voter fraud was smaller than the margin of error by counting, so there was no problem actually being solved  – it was pure authoritarian thuggery by the Republican majority (an attempt to disenfranchise student voters, mostly).

Oh, and the affidavit? – if I showed up to vote constitutionally and signed their paper (say it was offered by the poll workers or Town Moderator who all know me by name) then they’ll be sending follow-up letters, starting investigations, and charging me with a crime for not playing their repression game.  As if that’s a ‘free’ option.

If voting is merely a privilege now, then I want no part of it, as the system of government we supposedly have is based on a right of representation.  Perhaps it always was a privilege, but now the charade is up.  “Papers, please.”

Can Facebook Predict the NH Primary?

Can we predict the NH Gubernatorial primary outcomes by watching campaign page statistics on Facebook?

Here we compare the ‘Likes’ and activity ‘people talking about this’ for each page – one month before the primary (8/8 and one day before the primary (9/10):

First the Republican race: Ovide had and has tremendously more likes than Smith. Smith has a better slope on Like count (1.3 vs. 1.1) but the difference is so large as to not matter. Similarly, the activity slopes favor Smith (2.4 vs. 1.7) but the magnitude is again so much different that it won’t matter. Smith is very popular among some, but not enough.

The Democratic race gets less attention on Facebook in general and is a bit closer (Hassan has roughly half the lead over Cilley as Ovide does over Smith). Hassan has a better slope (1.4 vs. 1.2) on Likes but Cilley has a better slope on activity (2.1 vs. 1.6). Cilley will pose a stronger challenge to Hassan than Smith will to Ovide, but it will not be enough to win it for her.

Using the perhaps-bogus method of multiplying the current likes by the activity slope, and doing percentages (should probably use a standard normal table instead) the outcomes will be:

Republican: Ovide: 73%, Smith 27%

Democrat: Hassan: 67%, Cilley 33%

We’ll find out tomorrow to what degree Facebook pages reflect the voting population at large and just how bad that calculation is. New Hampshire has such a small percentage of party voters that it’s probably not useful to extend this to the general election at this time.

Update: actual results:

Ovide: 67.7%, Smith: 29.8%

Hassan: 53.1%, Cilley 38.9%

Not bad considering how “WILDLY WRONG” some prominent politicos declared the predictions of this method!

Syria Again Bombs Mourners

The al-Assad policy of attacking rescuers and grieving rituals continued this weekend in Syria.

BY BILL MCGONIGLE

(updated below)

In February, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism documented that after the Syrian Army kills people with air strikes, it then targets for death those who show up at the scene to rescue the survivors and retrieve the bodies, as well as those who gather to mourn the dead at funerals: “the al-Assad regime’s bombing campaign in has killed dozens of civilians who had gone to help rescue victims or were attending funerals.” As The New York Times summarized those findings: “at least 50 civilians had been killed in follow-up strikes after they rushed to help those hit by a drone-fired missile” while “the bureau counted more than 20 other civilians killed in strikes on funerals.”

This repellent practice continues. Over the last three days, the regime has launched three separate air strikes in Syria, one on each day. As The Guardian reports, the regime has killed between 20 and 30 people in these strikes, the last of which, early this morning, killed between 8 and 15. It was the second strike, on Sunday, that targeted mourners gathered to grieve those killed in the first strike:

At the time of the attack, suspected militants had gathered to offer condolences to the brother of a militant commander killed during another Syrian air attack on Saturday. The brother was one of those who died in the Sunday morning attack. The local officials said two of the dead were rebels and the rest were ordinary civilians.

Note that there is no suggestion, even from the “officials” on which these media reports (as usual) rely, that the dead man was a Rebel or even a “militant.” He was simply receiving condolences for his dead brother. But pursuant to the standards embraced by President al-Assad, the brother — without knowing anything about him — is inherently deemed a “rebel” and therefore a legitimate target for death solely by virtue of being a “military-age male in a strike zone.” Of course, killing family members of bombing targets is nothing new for this President: children of militants have been targeted after their parents have been killed by the regime.

I ask this sincerely: what kind of country targets rescuers, funeral attendees, and people gathered to mourn? If a Hollywood film featured a villainous King ordering lethal attacks on rescuers, funerals and mourners — those medically attending to or grieving his initial victims — any decent audience member would, by design, seethe with contempt for such an inhumane tyrant. But this is the standard policy and practice under President al-Assad and it continues through today.

Contrary to al-Assad’s tactic of chanting the “Rebel!” mantra to justify everything the he does: even Syria Arab News Agency now recognizes that many of al-Assad’s bombing targets are not actually plotting against the regime, because “the al-Assad regime has embraced a broader definition of what constitutes a rebel threat that warrants a lethal response” (that includes two more relatives of the Syrian rebel leader, related to him by marriage, whom the regime is now targeting for death). The Syrian government has been continuously killing people in the country for close to a full decade now. The amount of gullibility it takes to believe that the regime is merely killing “Rebels” — over and over and over and over — is just staggering

Whenever this al-Assad policy is raised, it cannot be emphasized enough that “secondary explosions” — attacking those who rescue victims of an inital explosion — has, according to to official U.S. Government briefings, long been a hallmark of Terrorists. From a 2007 Homeland Security report on Terrorism, explaining that this is a hallmark of Hamas terror attacks:

“The method of employment was to imitate a favorite tactic of Hamas, the ‘double tap,’ a device is set off, and when police and other first responders arrive, a second, larger device is set off, to inflict more casualties and spread panic.”

Whatever else is true, this conduct is something the FBI, DHS, the DOJ and federal courts have all formally denounced as Terrorism.

Update 1: due to typographical errors, ‘al-Assad’ was accidentally substituted for ‘Obama’ above (dammit AutoCorrect).

Update 2: the following substitutions were also inadvertently entered: “Syria for U.S.”, “regime for administration”, “Syria for Pakistan”, “air strikes for drone attacks”, “rebel for terrorist”, and “Syrian Arab News Agency for The Washington Post”.

Update 3: it turns out that this article is just a ripped off parody/allegory of a Glen Greenwald column.

Nomination by Acclamation Means a Ron Paul Third Party Run

Update 1 (5/11 00:15): Ben Swann has uncovered a memo from GOP legal council declaring all Convention candidates unbound.

Much has been made of the possibility of Ron Paul running as a third-party candidate either before or after the Republican Convention. “Will he or won’t he?” is what everybody asks.

The thing about Ron Paul is that he’s not hard to figure out. That’s what makes him such a reliable candidate. He plays by the rules, adheres to his principles, and stands his ground to protect them. The most difficult problem people have with this is accepting that ‘an honest politician’ isn’t an obligate oxymoron.

So, it’s hard to imagine Ron Paul doing anything else except playing by the rules within the Republican Party. He’s in the race through Tampa, because that’s what the rules provide for. He’s been following a delegates strategy for over a year, because that’s what the rules provide for (as of this writing, nine states look certain to nominate Dr. Paul from the floor). He won’t succumb to pressure to endorse Romney, because that’s not how the rules are written. And if Ron Paul loses the nomination at the convention, by the rules, fair-and-square, Ron Paul goes back to Lake Jackson and enjoys his time with his grandchildren.

Some speculators suggest that he’d never run Third-Party because that would damage Rand’s future chances, but he’s not one to put nepotism above principle. Others say he’d endorse Romney for an appointment at Treasury or Fed. Lobbyists already know that Dr. Paul cannot be bribed, and that’s not going to change at the pinnacle of his career. Everybody seems to assume that he has a breaking point at which he’s going to be bribed, but only because they project themselves onto him.

With Ron Paul gaining delegates steadily, to the point of Romney functionaries regularly insulting Paul delegates, circulating fake ballots, and perhaps engaging in illegal activity to deny voters representation in the State conventions, the Romney Camp is demonstrating through their actions that they have something to fear from the Paul campaign. Ignore their verbal dismissals and look at what’s actually happening on the ground. Romney’s not a stupid man, and he wouldn’t waste valuable campaign resources fighting Paul if he could save them to fight Obama.

The odds of a brokered convention are increasing every weekend. The chances of Romney picking up 1144 delegates before Tampa are falling just as quickly. The specter of Ron Paul delegates from winner-take-all states invoking Rule 38 on the first ballot is becoming more and more real every day. These are all being done, by-the-book and by-the-rules (much to the dismay of those who wrote them).

So, what can Romney do? Throw out the rules.

At the Democratic National Convention in 2008, Sen. Clinton called for a suspension of the rules and a nomination by acclamation for Barack Obama, bypassing the voting procedure, and she wound up as Secretary of State. Who would bet against Rick Santorum or Newt Gingrich making a similar deal?

No matter how loud the ‘Nays’ from the Ron Paul contingent from the floor, the Moderator of the convention can hear things differently, and so-declare it (despite the sound level meters Ron Paul delegates brought with them). There goes two years of campaigning and tens of millions of dollars, in five minutes.

OK, that summarizes the conventional wisdom to date. Now then, we have to ask, “what happens next?”

If the rules are thrown out, Ron Paul is no longer bound by those rules. Simply put, if Romney is nominated by acclamation, Ron Paul runs as a third-party candidate. And Romney can’t win an election against Barack Obama without the votes of those who would prefer to vote for Ron Paul. To win the nomination by skulduggery and deception is to lose the Presidency – and that’s a larger and more certain risk for Romney than to take his chances against Dr. Paul on a fair vote in Tampa.

Slicing and Dicing the NH Gay Marriage Repeal (HB437) Vote

The attempted repeal of gay marriage in NH has failed.  Here are a few ways to slice the roll call vote:

Party Votes

Democrats voting against gay marriage*: 1 (Roger Berube of Sommersworth)

Democrats voting for gay marriage: 92

Republicans voting against gay marriage: 115

Republicans voting for gay marriage: 119

Vote Switching

The votes above and the votes  that are reported in the news are of the final vote on ITL.  There were several previous votes, including a simple vote on whether the repeal ought to pass.  There were 17 21 reps who voted for the repeal but then voted to kill the bill.  There are two reasons to do this.   One is pragmatic – since the vote to pass the bill already failed, why not vote to kill it?  That’s the procedural thing to do.  The other reason could be clever political maneuvering – the vote that gets reported is the last one and conceivably a Rep. can be on both sides of the bill come November, depending on the audience.  Here are the switchers:

This first group voted against the repeal, but then voted to not kill the bill.  One supposes they wanted more debate or an amendment?  I don’t think these are particularly meaningful.

 

Belvin, William Republican Hillsborough 6
Chirichiello, Brian Republican Rockingham 5
Davenport, Joshua Republican Rockingham 12
Flanders, Donald Republican Belknap 4
Hunt, John Republican Cheshire 7
Johnson, Jane Republican Cheshire 6
Kingsbury, Robert Republican Belknap 4
Packard, Sherman Republican Rockingham 3
Pilliod, James Republican Belknap 5
Ritter, Glenn Republican Rockingham 14

 

This next group is the more interesting one: Reps who voted ‘against gay marriage’ before they voted ‘for’ it:

 

Bradley, Lester Republican Grafton 4 Yea
Brown, Julie Republican Strafford 1 Yea
Coffey, James Republican Hillsborough 3 Yea
Devine, James Republican Rockingham 7 Yea
Eaton, Stephanie Republican Grafton 1 Yea
Emerton, Larry Republican Hillsborough 7 Yea
Erickson, Duane Republican Hillsborough 25 Yea
Graham, John Republican Hillsborough 18 Yea
Hagan, Joseph Republican Rockingham 7 Yea
Hawkins, Kenneth Republican Hillsborough 18 Yea
Katsakiores, Phyllis Republican Rockingham 5 Yea
Malone, Robert Republican Belknap 5 Yea
McGuire, Dan Republican Merrimack 8 Yea
Newton, Clifford Republican Strafford 1 Yea
Parsons, Robbie Republican Strafford 3 Yea
Proulx, Mark Republican Hillsborough 15 Yea
Reilly, Harold Republican Grafton 8 Yea
Remick, William Republican Coos 2 Yea
Sanders, Elisabeth Republican Rockingham 7 Yea
Terrio, Ross Republican Hillsborough 14 Yea
Vita, Carol Republican Strafford 3 Yea

 

By the simple tally of the final vote, one would conclude that a majority of Republicans voted to protect gay marriage in NH. But by including those who first voted to remove gay marriage, it becomes clear that a majority of voting Republican Reps. in NH are against gay marriage.

Adding in the vote switchers, in both directions ( counting those who voted ‘nay’ on OTP then ‘nay’ on ITL as ‘for’ and those who voted ‘yay’ on OTP then ‘yay’ on ITL as ‘against’, for +- 11), yields:

Republicans who voted against gay marriage: 126

Republicans voting for gay marriage: 108

I think this is a more correct tally than just the ITL vote. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – without a veto-proof majority, this whole exercise on the Republicans’ part was a gift to the Democrats come November. Gay rights aside, they betray their political futures and their constituents by choosing to give up seats in November.

Liberty Rep. Votes

OK, that’s now the whole house voted – how about the pro-liberty reps (as defined by the top-25 spots on the 2011 NHLA Liberty Rating)?

Name District Town Grade Vote
Brown, Paul Rockingham 2 Raymond A+ Pro Gay Marriage
Cohn, Seth Merrimack 6 Canterbury A+ Pro Gay Marriage
DeJong, Cameron Hillsborough 9 Manchester A Pro Gay Marriage
Greazzo, Phil Hillsborough 17 Manchester A Pro Gay Marriage
Malone, Robert Belknap 5 Alton Bay A Pro Gay Marriage
Maltz, Jonathan Hillsborough 27 Hudson A Pro Gay Marriage
Murphy, Keith Hillsborough 18 Bedford A Pro Gay Marriage
Newton, Clifford Strafford 1 Rochester A Pro Gay Marriage
Sanborn, Laurie Merrimack 5 Henniker A Pro Gay Marriage
Seaworth, G. Brian Merrimack 7 Pembroke A+ Pro Gay Marriage
Simmons, Tammy Hillsborough 18 Manchester A Pro Gay Marriage
Tasker, Kyle Rockingham 1 Northwood A Pro Gay Marriage
Vaillancourt, Steve Hillsborough 15 Manchester A+ Pro Gay Marriage
Manuse, Andrew Rockingham 5 Derry A No Vote
Warden, Mark Hillsborough 7 Goffstown A+ No Vote
Holden, Frank Hillsborough 4 Lyndeborough A- Excused
Okerman, Richard Rockingham 4 Windham A Excused
Bowers, Spec Sullivan 3 Georges Mills A Anti Gay Marriage
DeLemus, Susan Strafford 1 Rochester A Anti Gay Marriage
Giuda, J. Brandon Merrimack 7 Chichester A Anti Gay Marriage
Jones, Kyle Strafford 1 Rochester A+ Anti Gay Marriage
Jones, Laura Strafford 1 Rochester A Anti Gay Marriage
McGuire, Dan Merrimack 8 Epsom A Anti Gay Marriage**
Tregenza, Norman Carroll 2 Silver Lake A Anti Gay Marriage
Vita, Lucien Strafford 3 Middleton A Anti Gay Marriage

Do with it what you will.

  • The actual vote was a yay/nay vote on an ITL (inexpedient to legislate) measure, which means it should not become law, on a bill to repeal gay marriage. So a ‘yay’ vote is a vote for not enacting a repeal of gay marriage. So, a for-against-against vote is for gay marriage since the double-negatives cancel out. Just so that’s clear to right-minded humans, it’s simplified above.

** vote for OTP before ITL

 

Update 1: 2012-03-23:23:52 – added vote-switchers

Update 2: 2012-03-24:00:46 – fixed switcher count

Iran’s Nuclear Ambitions as of February 2012

US intelligence consensus view:

“Recent assessments by American spy agencies are broadly consistent with a 2007 intelligence finding that concluded that Iran had abandoned its nuclear weapons program years earlier, according to current and former American officials. The officials said that assessment was largely reaffirmed in a 2010 National Intelligence Estimate, and that it remains the consensus view of America’s 16 intelligence agencies.”

Israeli intelligence says:

“…while Iran continues to improve its nuclear capabilities, it has not yet decided whether to translate these capabilities into a nuclear weapon – or, more specifically, a nuclear warhead mounted atop a missile. Nor is it clear when Iran might make such a decision.”

Compare and contrast with the rhetoric of three of the four Republican Presidential candidates:

Mitt Romney:

Look, one thing you can know and that is if we reelect Barack Obama, Iran will have a nuclear weapon…it’s worth putting in place crippling sanctions. It’s worth working with the insurgents in the country to encourage regime change in the country. And if all else fails, if after all of the work we’ve done, there’s nothing else we could do besides mil — take military action, then of course you take military action.

Rick Santorum:

“Any foreign scientists working in Iran on this nuclear program will be termed an enemy combatant and will be subject − like any other enemy combatant, like Osama bin Laden − to being taken out by the United States government as a threat to this country,”

Newt Gingrich:

“I would also point out that a Gingrich presidency would communicate publicly to the Iranians that if they continue to do what they’re doing, they should expect to get hit, and it will be their fault for having caused it.”

And, just for completeness:

Ron Paul:

“I’m afraid what’s going on right now is similar to the war propaganda that went on against Iraq. And you know they didn’t have weapons of mass destruction and it was orchestrated and it was, to me, a tragedy of what’s happened these past — last 10 years, the death and destruction, $4 billion — $4 trillion in debt. So no, it’s not worthwhile going to war. If you do, you get a declaration of war and you fight it and you win it and get it over with.”