November 4, 2012

Posted by orrinj at 10:39 AM


Posted by orrinj at 10:31 AM


Wisconsin State Journal flips for Romney (Rachel Weiner, November 4, 2012, Washington Post)

The Wisconsin State Journal, the state's second largest paper with a Sunday circulation of 118,000, has gone from endorsing Barack Obama in 2008 to supporting his opponent in 2012. 

"This is not an easy endorsement to make," the paper's editorial board wrote. "We endorsed Obama for change last time around. Now we're endorsing change again: Mitt Romney."

The paper faults Romney for his views on social issues and "unrealistic" promises, but praises his "reasonableness and smarts." Obama gets credit for Iraq, Osama bin Laden and school reform but the paper faults him for failing to pass a budget, tackle the debt or work with Republicans in Congress. that the Obama presidency will be remembered as successful to precisely the extent it built on W's policies.  

Posted by orrinj at 10:21 AM


Obama early vote edge tenuous (LOIS ROMANO, 11/2/12, Politico)

President Barack Obama is leading in an unprecedented early voting push by both campaigns that has already seen an estimated 22 million people cast ballots.

But some independent observers said that the president's lead may not be wide enough to make up the difference between Obama and Mitt Romney in some key battleground states on Election Day.

While Obama is ahead in early raw voting numbers in Florida and North Carolina, voting expert Michael McDonald, a professor at George Mason University, says Romney has effectively closed the gap enough that strong Republican turnout on Election Day could cost Obama those states.

"It's going to be difficult for Obama to pull enough ahead to win North Carolina to offset what Romney may do on Election Day," says McDonald, director of the United States Elections Project. "They're seeing the same numbers I am seeing."

Posted by orrinj at 9:48 AM


Gambling with the Fate of the World : Evan Thomas, Ike's Bluff: President Eisenhower's Secret Battle to Save the World (H. W. Brands, October 24, 2012, National Journal)

MOST HISTORICAL questions have no more than modest relevance for current policy debates. Times and context change. The American economy grew rapidly under the protectionist regime of the late nineteenth century; would it thrive under a new protectionist regime? It's impossible to say, given the radically different nature of the modern world economy. The Vietnam War demonstrated the difficulty of defeating a committed insurgency aided by outside forces; is the American effort in Afghanistan similarly doomed? Maybe, but Afghans aren't Vietnamese, and the Taliban isn't communist.

Yet there is one historical question that has direct and overriding policy implications. It might be the most important historical question of the last century and must rank among the top handful of all time: Why has there been no World War III? To sharpen the question, in light of the answer many people reflexively supply: Did the existence of nuclear weapons prevent a third world war?

The question's significance is obvious, given the consequences of such a war. Its answer is less so, despite that reflexive response. Broadly speaking, there are two possible answers. One is that, yes, nuclear weapons prevented a third world war by pushing the cost of victory far beyond any achievable benefits. This answer presumes that the ideological competition between the United States and the Soviet Union would have escalated to war had the big bombs not scared the daylights out of everyone. The second answer is that, no, the nukes didn't prevent the war. Something else did. Perhaps war simply wasn't in the cards.

In order to assert that there was no WWIII you have to pretend that the 150 million victims of the Communist regimes (give or take millions) were a non sequitur.  Only a moral monster should assert such a thing, so the answer to the question must be that there was a WWIII.  This also gives the sharper question a rather clear answer: whether justifiably or not, the existence of nuclear weapons was used to extend the war and aid and abet these tens of millions of murders.  

These answers, meanwhile, lead to the great unasked question: how could it have conceivably have been worse for the US to launch a nuclear first strike and end WWIII in the 40s rather than to connive at allowing the mass murders and oppression to continue for an additional 5 decades?

Posted by orrinj at 9:25 AM


Cancer Screening Campaigns -- Getting Past Uninformative Persuasion (Steven Woloshin, M.D., Lisa M. Schwartz, M.D., William C. Black, M.D., and Barnett S. Kramer, M.D., M.P.H., 11/01/12, N Engl J Med 2012)

For nearly a century, public health organizations, professional associations, patient advocacy groups, academics, and clinicians largely viewed cancer screening as a simple, safe way to save lives.1 Public health messages and campaigns reflected and amplified this view, aiming to maximize the population's uptake of screening. One obvious approach was to use powerful tools of persuasion -- including fear, guilt, and a sense of personal responsibility -- to convince people to get screened.

A simple recipe for persuasion is to make people feel vulnerable and then offer them hope, in the form of a simple strategy for protecting themselves. The standard approach is to induce vulnerability by emphasizing the risk people face, often framing statistics so as to provoke alarm, and then offer hope by exaggerating the benefit (and ignoring or minimizing the harms) of a risk-reducing intervention.

For example: "If you're a woman over 35, be sure to schedule a mammogram. Unless you're still not convinced of its importance. In which case, you may need more than your breasts examined. Find the time. Have a mammogram. Give yourself the chance of a lifetime" (see image). This screening campaign is an example of pure persuasion. No nuance here: breast cancer is so common and deadly, and mammograms so effective, that you'd have to be crazy to forgo screening.

Although the American Cancer Society ended that campaign in the 1970s, the use of persuasion is still going strong. For example, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, a top-rated cancer hospital, ran an ad in the New York Times Magazine that read, "The early warning signs of colon cancer: You feel great. You have a healthy appetite. You're only 50" (see slide show at Many 50-year-olds who find this message scary may be surprised (and relieved) to learn that most 50-year-olds who feel great and have a healthy appetite do not have -- and will not soon develop -- colon cancer. The National Cancer Institute estimates that a 50-year-old's risk of developing colon cancer over the next 10 years is 6 in 1000, and his or her risk of dying from colon cancer is 2 in 1000. 

Posted by orrinj at 9:21 AM


Dispatch Poll: Ohio's a toss-up : Obama has edge, but high GOP turnout could turn Ohio to Romney (Darrel Rowland, 11/04/12, The Columbus Dispatch)
The "Ohio firewall" precariously stands for President Barack Obama, but a strong Republican turnout could enable Mitt Romney to tear it down on Election Day. 

The final Dispatch Poll shows Obama leading 50 percent to 48 percent in the Buckeye State. However, that 2-point edge is within the survey's margin of sampling error, plus or minus 2.2 percentage points.  [...]

The mail poll of 1,501 likely Ohio voters Oct. 24 through yesterday has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 2.2 percentage points. The partisan breakdown of those who returned the poll: 40 percent Democrat, 36percent Republican, 21 percent independent, and the rest divided among the other four political parties recognized in Ohio. 

Ohio - 4-point win for Obama in 2008 (Battlegroundwatch, 8/26/12)

In Ohio, voters are not required to give a party affiliation when they register to vote.

In 2008 according to Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted's website, Democrats out numbered Republicans by 174,000, 1.48 million to 1.30 million. The unaffiliated voters totaled 5.1 million.

In 2012, Democrats went from 1.48 million down to 827,000. That is a loss of 653,000. Republicans went from 1.3 million down to 894,000. That is a loss of 412,000.

The most dramatic change however was in unaffiliated voters. This segment of voters rose from 5.1 million to 6.3 million. That is an increase of 1.2 million more unaffiliated voters in the Buckeye state.

This was a cataclysmic shift away from the two major parties, although a larger shift away from the Democrats.

This gives Republicans the advantage in two distinct ways. First, their are now 67,000 more registered Republicans than their are Democrats. Second, more voters decided to leave the Democrat Party in favor of being unaffiliated/undeclared or Independent.

Posted by orrinj at 9:14 AM


Dead heat for Romney and Obama in latest Michigan poll (MyFoxDetroit, Nov 04, 2012)

Republican Nominee Mitt Romney 46.86%
President Barack Obama 46.24%
Another candidate 4.94%
Undecided 1.96%

Posted by orrinj at 9:02 AM


A Face More Careworn, a Crowd Less Joyful (DAMON WINTER, 11/04/12, NY Times)

This time around many of his rallies have a small-town scale but lack the grassroots feel of '08. They have a uniform, packaged gloss, typical of most presidential events. At a rally at a baseball field in Virginia the president came out swinging, literally, with an imaginary bat. But the crowd was squeezed into a corner of the stadium to give the illusion of density. Four years ago, he would have been speaking in the center of that stadium with supporters lining the field and filling the stands.

In 2008, I observed him interacting with people more, not just as a solitary figure, standing at a microphone or shuttling from place to place. There is now a constant challenge to find candid, story-telling images. Every day on the trail is scheduled and scripted down to the minute, and covering it often feels like a carefully choreographed dance. In between rallies, there are a few "off the record" stops to local businesses and restaurants or official presidential duties, but most days are filled with this intricate series of repeating movements. Sometimes it feels as if we are just going through the motions, and I often wonder if he doesn't feel the same way.