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November 05, 2010


Brendan and Prof Bear B falsely accuse Michelle Bachman of "making sh*t up" by saying that Obama's trip to India will cost $200 million/day. She didn't make it up. TPM acknowledges that the $200 million figure was reported by an Indian official and has been widely reported subsequently.

TPM's headline accurately says, "Bachmann Outraged Over Made Up Cost Of Obama's India Trip." Bear, perhaps carelessly, asserts that Bachman herself made up the cost figure. Brendan accepts Bear's version. In other words, Bear made sh*t up. Brendan, like Bachman, merely repeated sh*t that someone else had made up.

Repeating reported info without independently verifying it deserves some criticism. However, this practice is so common among politicians and pundits that it hardly deserves to be the main point of a story.

IMHO the point of the story ought to be the wasteful spending. Whatever the exact dollar cost, the huge number of people and lavish accomodations send exactly the wrong message at a time when the government should be economizing. Michelle Bachman is properly doing her job when she publicizes wasteful government spending.

I really hope Bachmann gets the GOP conference chair only to make life more dramatic and fun. smile.

On another note, how did Brendan get labeled as a 'centist'? My best guess would be if you're not a liberal cheerleader you're not a history making liberal?

On the other hand I read somewhere the political center isn't that bad...


Ok, I was sitting in class and I thought I should revise the first paragraph of my last post to "I hope Bachmann does not get GOP conference chair, but if she does I will enjoy watching her appear more on television"

Whoops! Looks like David is correct Brendan. Bachman is repeating figures that seem highly unlikely, but she didn't make them up.

Congrats on your appointment. Given this guy's analysis, (i.e. looking at history for fundentmentals is the same relying on "destiny or fate"), I'd consider it an honor to be criticized by him.

BTW, isn't "Campaign For America's Future" the re-named Obama campaign site? (I could be remembering wrong..)

I like John Sides' analysis, especially because he doesn't try to assert more than he has. One factor that wasn't in his model (and probably wouldn't have been practical) is the quality of the candidate. We can see the difference, say, between the very strong Rubio and very weak O'Donnell. If the subgroups of Reps or Dems in Sides' study had different average quality, then his results could be off. Even if there were no possible confounding factors, a 1% impact isn't much.

ISTM the big effect of the Tea Parties were the Republican primaries, where weak Tea Party candidates were able to beat stronger opponents. I think every Republican Congressperson is going to be very careful not to get out of line with the Tea Party positions on limiting the size and sleaze in government. It would be wonderful if they start by eliminating earmarks.

So, how far off is the $200 million/day estimate for the President's visit to India? Looking at the details as reported in the UK Daily Mail, that huge a figure may not be out of the question.

Probably not since the days of the Pharaohs or the more ludicrous Roman Emperors has a head of state travelled in such pomp and expensive grandeur as the President of the United States of America.
While lesser mortals – the Pope, Queen Elizabeth and so on – are usually happy to let their hosts handle most of the security and transport arrangements when they venture beyond their home shores, the United States creates a mini-America on the move to ensure that nothing is left to chance....

At the heart of the White House caravan is ‘The Beast’, a gigantic, ‘pimped-up’ General Motors Cadillac which security experts say is, short of an actual battle tank, probably the safest road vehicle on the planet.

But an outlandish car is only the start. Mr Obama will fly, of course, on Air Force One, the presidential private jumbo jet, which, boasting double beds and suites, is fitted out more like a luxury yacht. Some reports suggest it costs around $50,000 (£31,000) an hour to operate.

Of course threats can come from any direction, so a squadron of U.S. naval ships will patrol offshore. Some reports have claimed that 34 ships, including two aircraft carriers, will be involved (not far off the size of the Royal Navy’s entire Surface Fleet) but the White House has denied this....

Mr Obama’s entourage will travel in a fleet of 45 U.S.-built armoured limousines, half of which will be decoys. He will also travel with 30 elite sniffer dogs, mostly German Shepherds.

The White House has, according to some reports, booked the entire Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in Mumbai, the city’s most luxurious. It is not uncommon for the grander heads of state to reserve a floor or two, but a whole hotel is unprecedented....

It is also reported that a bomb-proof tunnel will be erected for Mr Obama ahead of his visit to Mani Bhavan - the Gandhi museum - on Saturday....The kilometre-long tunnel will measure 12ft by 12ft and will have air-conditioning, close-circuit television cameras, and will be heavily guarded at every point. It's being built so it is large enough for Mr Obama's cavalcade to pass through and will be manned at its entry and exit points.

Mickey Kaus criticizes Glenn Greenwald's context-free election analysis at http://www.newsweek.com/blogs/kausfiles/2010/11/08/kausfiles-festival-of-bogus-punditry.html

Greenwald: "if you look at who actually lost in this election, it wasn't the liberals who lost. The progressive caucus was reelected by a rate of 95 percent. The people who bore the brunt of the electoral bloodbath were the Blue Dogs. Fifty percent of the Blue Dogs [lost]"

Kaus: "I've said dumb things about elections, but I don't think I've ever said anything quite as dumb as Glenn Greenwald's argument, on Morning Joe...As if "progressive" candidates would have gotten 51 percent of the vote—as opposed to, say, 31 percent—in the relatively conservative districts Blue Dogs tend to get elected from..."

Context-free election analysis from far-left Institute for Policy Studies:
Did we all miss the news flash? PROGRESSIVES WON!...the Congressional Progressive Caucus, the largest caucus in the House Democratic Caucus at over 80 members, emerged virtually unscathed, losing only three members.

By contrast, the conservative Blue Dog Democratic caucus was more than sliced in half from 54 members to only 26. Further, of the 34 conservative Dems who voted against Obama's Healthcare Reform, a mere 12 won re-election.

This flawed analysis of the election suggest that the IPS's policy analyses are also apt to be flawed. IMHO liberals commonly make a related mistake in their policy analysis: looking at the benefits of some government program while ignoring or downplaying its costs and other negative impacts.

Thanks - just tweeted about this.

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