Josh Patashnik

Electoral College Myths, One More Time
June 18, 2008

I really don't mean to make this into a personal crusade, but Harry Siegel, on the front page of the Politico, has a piece raising (yet again) the possibility that Barack Obama will win the popular vote and lose the electoral college. Siegel manages to find and quote two political consultants who demonstrate a profound ignorance of probability: Hank Sheinkopf says the likelihood of this happening is "50–50," while Lloyd Green puts it at 20 percent. These are the kind of people you want to try to make bets with. As I've written and blogged before, this is very unlikely to happen.

The Shale Sham
June 18, 2008

All the coverage of President Bush's energy speech today is focusing on his call for ending a federal ban on offshore oil drilling, two days after John McCain flip-flopped to take the same position. The idea may or may not have merit in the long run, but what it won't do is lower gas prices in the short term: the Department of Energy estimates that it would take more than twenty years for either production levels or prices to be affected by a repeal of the ban on offshore drilling.

Put This In The "sadly, To Be Expected" File
June 17, 2008

From Joby Warrick in today's Washington Post: A Senate investigation has concluded that top Pentagon officials began assembling lists of harsh interrogation techniques in the summer of 2002 for use on detainees at Guant

Should Obama Be Doing Better?
June 17, 2008

One frequent refrain you hear in the press is that given the underlying electoral fundamentals, Barack Obama should be doing better in head-to-head polling matchups against John McCain. This line of argument was somewhat persuasive when McCain was running narrowly ahead of Obama in national polling; now that he's locked up the nomination Obama has a consistent four-to-six-point lead in national polling, confirmed again by the Washington Post poll out this morning, which has Obama up six among likely voters.

Cloud-seeding In L.a.
June 16, 2008

Los Angeles has a new idea for how to combat drought: cloud-seeding. The county plans to spend $800,000 on a plan to increase rainfall in the San Gabriel Mountains by shooting a whole bunch of silver iodide into the air. This may sound like a harebrained scheme to you, but luckily county officials have really thought things through: While many think of airplanes seeding clouds, the county plans to use ground-based generators, another common method. The generators will be placed along the base of the San Gabriels and will use flares or propane burners to spray particles.

"disappeared"? Not Really.
June 16, 2008

Spencer Ackerman links to this dispatch from Tom Lasseter about detainees wrongfully held at Guant

Obama, Education, And Accountability
June 14, 2008

In his column yesterday, David Brooks came to the same conclusion I did in my March article on Barack Obama's education record: That while Obama has a long history of aligning himself with the reform-minded education policy crowd, his campaign rhetoric on the subject has been rather muted and equivocal. One of the specific charges Brooks makes, though, isn't quite fair to Obama. Brooks writes: [W]hen you look at the actual proposals Obama offers, he’s doesn’t really address the core issues. He’s for the vast panoply of pre-K and after-school programs that most of us are for.

"one Of The Worst Decisions In The History Of This Country"
June 13, 2008

When the Boumediene decision was handed down yesterday, John McCain pronounced himself mildly skeptical, but said, "[I]t is a decision that the Supreme Court has made. Now we need to move forward. As you know, I always favored closing Guant

Dog Bites Man
June 12, 2008

Via TaxProf Blog, the Tax Policy Center has put out an analysis (pdf) of the Obama and McCain tax plans. Here's the conclusion: If enacted, the Obama and McCain tax plans would have radically different effects on the distribution of tax burdens in the United States. The Obama tax plan would make the tax system significantly more progressive by providing large tax breaks to those at the bottom of the income scale and raising taxes significantly on upper-income earners.

Scotus Rules For Gitmo Detainees
June 12, 2008

The opinion is out in Boumediene v. Bush (opinion here in pdf format), and it appears to be a pretty thorough rebuke of the administration's position. The Court ruled 5–4 (with Justice Kennedy writing an opinion that the four liberals signed onto) that detainees at Guant