Saturday, November 10, 2012

Post electiion ACTIONS + Triumph of the Nerds

From: []
Sent: Wednesday, November 07, 2012 9:34 PM
Subject: Post electiion ACTIONS + Triumph of the Nerds


There is an epic showdown coming next month as our country faces the "fiscal cliff" -- the Bush tax cuts will expire and major budget cuts will be triggered automatically. President Obama backed down on the Bush tax cuts in December 2010, but fresh from winning re-election, we need to make sure he keeps his commitment to end them. We helped put him in the Oval Office twice now, and we need to make sure he knows our priorities.

The Bush tax cuts are irresponsible, immoral, and have added $1 TRILLION to the deficit. They are the chief reason that we can no longer fund vital public services.

Click below to tell President Obama to make ending the Bush tax cuts his top priority.


The election is over, but the fight isn't! Washington is on the verge of a showdown over taxes and spending.

It seems like everyone is going around saying the 'America is broke', but as Van points out, the truth is that "We are not broke, we are being robbed -- and somebody has our money!"

I just signed the commitment to not buy the myth and to help spread the truth. If you're with me can you sign it as well? Here's the link:


Here’s some terrific news.  With victories yesterday in statewide votes in Montana  and Colorado , both by nearly three-to-one margins, we’re now one quarter of the way to amending the U.S. Constitution to overturn Citizens United.  

This a huge milestone, one we could not have achieved without your help, along with the help of many friends and allied organizations, including Common Cause, which led the way on the Montana and Colorado victories with our support, as well as People for the American Way, Public Citizen, U.S. PIRG, Move to Amend, Ben & Jerry’s, RootsAction, the American Sustainable Business Council, Auburn Seminary, Avaaz, Credo, unPAC, and   

The Math

As you may recall, amending the constitution requires passage by two thirds of each chamber of Congress, and then ratification by three quarters of the states.  Those thresholds equal 67 U.S. Senators, 290 U.S. Representatives, and ten states.

We’re one quarter of the way there in the Senate, with 24 returning U.S. Senators who have introduced or co-sponsored amendment bills.  We’re also one quarter of the way there in the House, with 73 returning U.S. Representatives having introduced or co-sponsored amendments.1  And now, as of yesterday, eleven states have formally called for an amendment: Hawaii, New Mexico, Vermont, Rhode Island, California, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Montana, and Colorado.

The Meaning

It’s especially exciting that Montana and Colorado acted through statewide votes of the people.  They’re the first states to do so (the other nine states acted through their legislatures).  The overwhelming margins of victory are worth celebrating too: although the last ballots are still being counted, the count so far in Montana stands at 74.9% to 25.1%; in Colorado the count so far is 73.8% to 26.2%  

These victories also underscore the trans-partisan nature of our growing national movement: Montana’s a red state, and Colorado is a swing state.  Polls show that support for an amendment transcends party lines: our own poll in 2010 showed that 68% of Republicans, 82% of independents, and 87% of Democrats support an amendment.2  An Associated Press poll this past September found that 81% of Republicans, 78% of independents, and 85% of Democrats want to limit corporate, union, and other outside spending on our elections.3  

This trans-partisan support will be tremendously important for our continued success going forward.

What Now

Help us build on this momentum.  Send a letter to the editor of your newspaper to get the word out about what we’re accomplishing together.  Now, just after Americans everywhere have been barraged for months by negative campaign ads enabled by Citizens United, is a great time to highlight what we can do go fight back.

We’ve made it easy to put your letter together in just a few moments with our online tool.

Click here to send a letter to the editor of your newspaper.

Thanks again for all you did to make this moment possible.


- Peter

Peter Schurman

Free Speech For People

Wednesday, November 7th, 2012


Triumph of the Nerds: Nate Silver Wins in 50 States

  November 7, 2012 by Chris Taylor

Barack Obama  may have comfortably won re-election in the electoral college, and squeaked a victory in the popular vote. But here is the absolute, undoubted winner of this election: Nate Silver  and big data.

The  analyst, despite being pilloried by the pundits , outdid even his 2008 prediction. In that year, his mathematical model correctly called 49 out of 50 states, missing only Indiana (which went to  ROMNI  by 1%

This year, according to all projections, Silver’s model has correctly predicted 50 out of 50 states. A last-minute flip for Florida, which finally went blue in Silver’s prediction on Monday night, helped him to a perfect game.

A caveat: Florida has not yet been called officially, but Obama is in the lead with 98% of precincts reporting. If anything, Silver’s placing of Florida on a knife edge makes him look even more prescient. No wonder one of the night’s more popular tweets suggested that he was actually from the future, working from old newspapers.

SEE ALSO: Did Nate Silver Let Twitter Get Under His Skin?  

What does this victory mean? That mathematical models can no longer be derided by “gut-feeling” pundits. That Silver’s contention — TV pundits are generally no more accurate than a coin toss — must now be given wider credence.

The great thing about a model like Silver’s (and that of similarly winning math nerds, such as Sam Wang of the Princeton Election Consortium ) is that it takes all that myopic human bias out of the equation. The ever-present temptation to cherry-pick polls is subverted.

You set your parameters at the start, deciding how much weight and accuracy you’re going to give to each poll based purely on their historical accuracy. You feed in whatever other conditions you think will matter to the result. Then, you sit back and let the algorithm do the work.

Silver may be a registered Democrat, but he learned back when he was doing baseball analysis that he’d never get anywhere if his models weren’t absolutely neutral, straight down the line between feuding teams.

By 2016, if the networks are paying attention, don’t be surprised to see that the talking heads are all Nate Silver clones. Every media organization will now want its own state poll-based algorithm, especially given how much traffic Silver has driven to the New York Times‘ website . We’ll see more about that kind of model, and less stories about individual polls, which are almost always misleading unless you aggregate them.

Statistics, big data, neutral mathematical models — this, it turns out, is what people want. Who knew?

Well, we geeks knew, but we’re starting to get used to having the rest of the world follow our lead. We had the smartphones first, we read the fantasy books before they became blockbuster movies and TV shows, and now we can boast that we stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Nate Silver’s data before it was popular.

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"War's never a winning thing, Charlie.  You just lose all the time, and the one who loses last asks for terms.  All I remember is a lot of losing and sadness and nothing good at the end of it.  The end of it, Charles, that was a winning all to itself, having nothing to do with guns."

    --Ray Bradbury, from the short story "The Time Machine" 1957

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