David Kirkpatrick

August 10, 2008

Asbahi, Islam and the current US political climate

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 8:14 pm

This is a great insider’s view of an odd, and disconcerting in many ways, subject. The linked 538.com post is on Mazen Asbahi resigning as national coordinator for Muslim American affairs from Obama’s campaign. The real meat is the political climate in the United States toward all Muslims fostered by the Bush 43 regime.

First a bit from the intro of the post:

A Perspective on Mazen Asbahi


Earlier this week, Mazen Asbahi, whom the Obama campaign had appointed on July 26 to be their national coordinator for Muslim American affairs, announced that he had resigned his position.

Rany Jazayerli, my friend and colleague at Baseball Prospectus, knows Mr. Asbahi, and wrote me a long e-mail detailing his perspective on the matter. I asked him whether he’d be willing to share his perspective with the readers of FiveThirtyEight, and he graciously agreed. The following are Rany’s words, unedited, and pulling no punches.

Here’s part of Rany’s essay. It’s worth the time to hit the link and read this entire piece. He has a strong point and makes it well. Asbahi resigned after the Wall Street Journal and other media outlets tied him to Jamal Said and made insinuations Said was tied to Islamist terrorism:

“The Justice Department named Mr. Said an unindicted co-conspirator in the racketeering trial last year of several alleged Hamas fund-raisers, which ended in a mistrial. He has also been identified as a leading member of the group in news reports going back to 1993.”

Pardon my Arabic, but what the f**k is an unindicted co-conspirator, and why is our government using this phrase? Whatever happened to innocent until proven guilty? And whatever happened to the notion that indictment is just the first step towards a guilty verdict? A prosecutor is supposed to be able to indict a ham sandwich, so what does it say that they’ve never been able to indict Said? (Maybe that’s his secret: Muslims don’t eat pork.)

In that racketeering trial – which, again, ended in a mistrial – the government listed close to 300 Muslim organizations as “unindicted co-conspirators”, which is tantamount to saying “we think some of them are terrorists, and since we don’t know who, we’ll just blame them all.” So much for innocent until proven guilty. This isn’t even guilty until proven innocent – it’s guilty with no recourse to prove you’re innocent. How can you defend yourself against an indictment which doesn’t exist? Said is guilty by association. Which makes Mazen, apparently, guilty by association with someone who’s guilty by association. It’s McCarthyism squared.

June 25, 2008

Current presidential election projections from 538

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 12:59 am

This projected election results chart from FiveThirtyEight.com looks daunting for McCain:

Pretty hard numbers coming from a group of pretty hard number-crunchers. 538’s analysis is courtesy of one of the Baseball Prospectus guys, and they take data and statistics very seriously.

The site has been accused of a pro-Obama slant and it does seem the opinion on the site leans heavily toward the Democratic nominee, but don’t think support for a candidate would necessarily translate to cooking the books for the nominee. GOPers dismissing 538’s projections are doing so at their own peril.

Update 8/14/08 — If you’re finding this page now hit this link for my latest update, or better yet head straight to 538 for their very latest projections.

June 17, 2008

The numbers are favoring Obama

Filed under: Politics — Tags: , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:23 pm

it’s pretty early in the race, but the current numbers look very favorable for Obama. On top of that you have to guess he’s going to get some level of bounce from any debate/town hall meeting/joint appearance with McCain.

I’ve already blogged on outing FiveThirtyEight.com blogger Poblano as Baseball Prospectus writer Nate Silver.

Here’s some great analysis and number crunching from FiveThirtyEight on battleground states:

Those with field experience may recognize the conventional wisdom/general rule that 5 points is the most a great field program’s ground game can make up against an accurate poll of voter preference.

According to 538 regression analysis, there are currently eleven states closer than 5 points, most of which show McCain with a narrow lead to defend.

In order of closeness and color coded by who currently leads, they are:

1. Virginia, 0.2%
2. Missouri, 0.3%
3. Nevada, 0.6%
4. New Hampshire, 1.0%
5. Michigan, 1.5%
6. Ohio, 1.6%
7. Indiana, 1.7%
8. North Carolina, 3.3%
9. North Dakota, 3.8%
10. Florida, 4.0%
11. Montana, 4.5%

Electorally, the 39 states and DC that lie outside this 5-point range: Obama 252, McCain 157.

For what it’s worth, there are twelve states between 5 and 10 points, and each candidate has 6 of them. Obama’s are Colorado (+5.1%), Pennsylvania (+5.7%), New Mexico (+6.3%), Wisconsin (+6.4%), Iowa (+8.7%), and New Jersey (+9.4%), for a total of 67 EVs. McCain’s are Alaska (+6.1%), South Dakota (+6.6%), West Virginia (+8.2%), Louisiana (+8.9%), South Carolina (+8.9%) and Georgia (+9.9%), for a total of 43 EVs.


May 30, 2008

Poblano unmasked

Filed under: Politics, Sports — Tags: , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:28 pm

The FiveThirtyEight blogger who’s applied a successful statistics-based approach to predicting the races so far has revealed himself to be an actual statistician — for Baseball Prospectus. Poblano=Nate Silver.

I’ll have to say I enjoy football stats, and the guys over at Football Outsiders who do the Football Prospectus, more than baseball stats, but I’m not surprised at all a baseball statistician can take the enormous amount of polling data out there and make more (and more correct) sense out of it all than the pollsters themselves and certainly more sense than math and stats challenged journalists and pundits.