October 1, 2014

In which I am distracted, and libertarians infiltrate polite society

I’m a bit preoccupied. My Better Half reached her due date yesterday, and we are anxiously awaiting whatever comes next.

So, in the meantime, while I’m trying to get my “head in the game,” here’s some stuff to expand your knowledge and entertain your senses. Or maybe vice-versa. Also, libertarian views on the rise:

  • Said Judge Posner, of an alleged serial spammer’s courtroom presentation. “It’s not only incompetent, it’s grotesque. You’ve got damages jumping around from $11 million to $130 million to $122 million to $33 million. In fact, the damages are probably zero.” Timothy B. Lee at Ars Technica.
  • “Montgomery County officials have allowed the children to reopen their lemonade stand, by relocating it about 100-feet away from the intersection where it was set up Thursday.” This after they fine the tots $500 for their enterprising ways. WUSA9.com
  • Wanna go to Harvard? Apparently the White House is a good stepping stone. “About a half-dozen staffers will begin at the premier law school this fall, bringing a rare skill set, a golden Rolodex and tales of the corridors of power to Harvard Yard. The exodus of the younger White House staffers marks the first major departure of junior aides in the Obama administration.” Politico.
  • This is for you Alex (as you consider forcibly moving your fellow Americans to Somalia): Ilya Somin wonders if the public is becoming more libertarian. “Obviously, the vast majority of the public is not nearly as libertarian as most libertarian activists and intellectuals are. But it does seem to be more libertarian than the median voter of the recent past.” The Volokh Conspiracy.
  • If Ilya ain’t enough for you, the NYT column FiveThirtyEight (Nate Silver) is getting in on the action, too, citing a CNN poll that seems to show a shift.

Whether people are as libertarian-minded in practice as they might believe themselves to be when they answer survey questions is another matter. Still, there have been visible shifts in public opinion on a number of issues, ranging from increasing tolerance for same-sex marriage and marijuana legalizationon the one hand, to the skepticism over stimulus packages and the health-care overhaul on the other hand, that can be interpreted as a move toward more libertarian views.

And, just for kicks, here’s a graph:

Enhanced by Zemanta

A graphical look at the 2012 GOP nomination

FiveThirtyEight, a New York Times blog run by Nate Silver, has an interesting graphic up describing the 2o12 race for the Republican nomination for President. (Don’t forget to vote in the poll at the left )

His data is based on how well the candidates are trading on Intrade. It’s an interesting graphic, and the analysis is interesting, as well:

With that said, it is exceptionally important to consider how the candidates are positioned relative to one another. Too often, I see analyses of candidates that operate through what I’d call a checkbox paradigm, tallying up individual candidates’ strengths and weaknesses but not thinking deeply about how they will compete with one another for votes. If you like, you can think of the circles on my chart as stars or planets that exert gravitational forces on one another, seeking to clear their own safe space in the galaxy while at the same time stealing matter (voters) from their opponents.

There are two more kinds of information embedded in the chart. First, the area of each candidate’s circle is proportional to their perceived likelihood of winning the nomination, according to the Intrade betting market. Mitt Romney’s circle is drawn many times the size of the one for the relatively obscure talk-radio host Herman Cain because Intrade rates Mr. Romney many times as likely to be nominated.

Finally, the color of each circle reflects the region the candidate is from: blue for the Northeast, red for the South, green for the Midwest, and yellow for the West.

What do you think? Is it an accurate look at the field as it currently stands, or are there other considerations that have not been included?

Be sure to check out Nate’s analysis at his blog before you weigh in. Among other things, he thinks that:

  • Senator John Thune‘s chances are “overrated.”
  • If Sarah Palin gets in, she’ll compete with conservative outsiders like Mike Huckabee, Newt Gingrich, and Jim DeMint for votes.
  • Mitt’s got Jon Huntsman competing with him for votes, not to mention T-Paw and Mitch Daniels
  • and speaking of Tim Pawlenty, his positions are conservative, but his reputation is as a moderate…which makes him hard to peg. Oh, and his personality is “not terribly dynamic.”

Thoughts? Who’s your candidate in 2012?

APROPOS: If you’re pulling for President Obama, one of FiveThirtyEight’s readers left a comment for you on his blog:

I was thinking the same thing. We might, for example, normalize the graph by including President Obama. His circle could be, oh, down the street a few blocks?

(h/t FiveThirtyEight)

Enhanced by Zemanta