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« January 2008 | WILLisms.com | March 2008 »

Wednesday Caption Contest: Part 133.

Working on some new anti-spam measures... sorry, folks. Check back soon.

This week's WILLisms.com Caption Contest photograph:


The actual caption:

U.S. President George W. Bush greets retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor after presenting her with a medal during a ceremony in honor of Abraham Lincoln's 199th birthday, in the East Room of the White House in Washington February 10, 2008. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas (UNITED STATES)

Seems like there's far more happening here.

Entries will remain open until 11:59 PM, Central Standard Time, Tuesday, February 19. Submit your captions in the comments section, or email via WILLisms@gmail.com.

Last Week's Photo:

And... The Winners:

1. Zsa Zsa:

Three handed Bill
Showed someone to Hil
and Hil was delighted to see them.

They had come to the bash
loaded with cash
but left with their pockets quite empty.

2. Rob B.:

ARRRGGGHHH!!! Don't tase me, Bill! Don't tase me!

3. Michael McCullough:

Look, Hillary -- there's a woman with a mullet wearing flannel.

Captioning has the momentum in this race! Join the cause today.

Posted by Will Franklin · 13 February 2008 11:55 AM · Comments (8)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 478 -- Voting With Their Feet.

Americans Fleeing High Taxes-

One of my favorite blogging topics is domestic interstate migration. It is a brilliant and tangible demonstration of policy outcomes. The data just fit what we who cherish free markets might expect to happen when some jurisdictions favor freedom more than others.

The general rule of thumb is that people are leaving high tax states and moving to low tax states. States with no income taxes perform better in all sorts of categories than states with high income taxes.

Last year, a record number (more than 8 million) of Americans packed up and moved from one state to another. Generally, the flow of Americans went from states with high taxes to states with low taxes. Lots of factors are at play when an individual decides to leave home from, say, Illinois, and venture toward, say, Texas. Arctic versus mild weather, right-to-work versus union-stranglehold, decaying versus 21st-century infrastructure, and a host of other factors are involved in the decision.

But it all comes back to taxes. States with high taxes are generally far more dysfunctional in myriad ways than states with low taxes, especially ones without income taxes.

The Wall Street Journal elaborates a bit:

...the eight states without an income tax are stealing talent from other states. They are Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Washington and Wyoming, and each one gained in net domestic migrants. Each one except Florida -- which has sky-high property taxes on new homesteaders -- also ranked in the top 12 of destination states. The nearby table ranks the top five destination and departure states.

Politicians who think taxes don't matter might want to explain the Dakotas. North Dakota ranked second worst in out-migration last year, while South Dakota ranked in the top 10 as a destination. The two are similar in most regards, with one large difference: North Dakota has an income tax and South Dakota doesn't.

Indeed, looking at the United Van Lines data, which, because it includes a sample ("n") of hundreds of thousands, is more useful than one might imagine. I've added plus and minus signs to the states where migration was within the 55% range, for easier visualization of the trend:


Now, compare this data to a generalized tax climate index, and it's pretty clear what is going on:


The regional migration patterns are not an accident. They match the taxation patterns, with a few exceptions here and there.

Could this interstate migration be a metaphor for globalization? Dollars, entrepreneurs and innovators, and large corporations all tend to flow where they are treated nicely. If the United States wants to remain an important player in the global economy into the next century, we've got to take these intranational lessons we can so plainly see and apply them nationally and internationally.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Superdelegates.

Posted by Will Franklin · 12 February 2008 01:07 PM · Comments (3)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 477 -- Superdelegates.

Caucuses and Superdelegates-

First off, let me say that political parties ought to be able to pick their nominees however they so choose. After all, people eventually do get to vote freely and fairly in the general election. However, when a political party uses undemocratic means to select a candidate, it is troublesome and the public has a right to react negatively.

I don't like caucuses. They aren't free and fair elections, because they don't use secret ballots. Caucuses are not small-d "democratic." Primaries are.

That being said, it's interesting that Democrats have so many more caucuses than Republicans, all around the country. In Texas next month, for example, Republicans use a normal primary, while Democrats use a strange and complicated primary/caucus hybrid system.

More than caucuses, the concept of unelected superdelegates is a throwback to smoke filled back room politics. Superdelegates are not small-d "democratic," either. Again, it is ironic that Democrats have so many more unelected superdelegates than Republicans. And the Democrats' superdelegates could actually determine their nominee this time around.

A couple of charts on the subject- first the Democrats:


And the Republicans:


Superdelegates As A Proportion of Total Delegates:
Democrats- 20%
Republicans- 6%

For Democrats, the number of unelected superdelegates is roughly equal to all of the delegates in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Nevada, California, and Illinois, combined. For Republicans, the number of superdelegates is well below the number from California alone.

So Democrats have more caucuses and they use more unelected superdelegates. More than that, they disenfranchised Florida and Michigan voters this year by voiding the results of free and fair elections in those states, and they have lodged voting irregularity complaints against one another in Nevada and New Hampshire.

It would seem that Democrats are not very good at this whole democracy thing. We should remember this year's sordid series of circumstances the next time Democrats pull one of their typical election tricks or cry wolf about Republican ones. It seems the Republican nomination process this year has been far more small-d "democratic" than the parallel process of the Democrats.

And they wonder why so many people drop the "-ic" and refer to them as the "Democrat Party." It's precisely these sorts of things.

Now, if this thing remains tight heading into the convention, with no clear winner, and the unelected superdelegates actually determine the nominee, there ought to be national outrage and backlash against whomever emerges from that mess.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Primary Turnout Gap.

Posted by Will Franklin · 7 February 2008 08:12 AM · Comments (4)

Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 476 -- Primary Turnout Means Nothing.

Avoid The Noid-

Much has been made of the disparity between Democrats and Republicans in these primaries and caucuses. Too much, in fact. Indeed, turnout during primaries, historically-speaking, means absolutely nothing for general election contests.

Some proof of this lack of phenomenon:


Look at 1988, for example. That was a record year. Democrats demolished Republicans in the primaries, yet it was a sweeping landslide for George Herbert Walker Bush over Michael Dukakis in November. Despite plenty of enthusiasm in the primaries, general election turnout (50.1%) was the second lowest of the past twelve presidential elections (only better than 49.1% in 1996).

Look at 1980, when Democrats had six million more primary voters than Republicans. Ronald Reagan went on to destroy Jimmy Carter in the general election.

In 2008, there is an enthusiasm gap between Democrats and Republicans. There's no doubt about that. The proof is in the tepid fundraising numbers for Republicans compared to the astounding campaign hauls of Democrats. The proof is in the rally sizes, the internet searches (or lack thereof) performed for candidates on the respective sides, and the primary and caucus turnout figures.

Democrats, frankly, have a more compelling and exciting race right now. After McCain won South Carolina and Florida, Super Tuesday was really more of a coronation than a heated contest. Coronations draw fewer voters than heated contests.

Nevertheless, it is now February. We have eight months until the election. While Hillary Clinton would obviously unite and energize the Republican base, so would Barack Obama, the most liberal Senator in America. Moreover, while John McCain's record is not a reliably conservative one on everything from taxes to immigration, he will undoubtedly win over many conservative skeptics between now and November-- and not just the Anyone But Hillary types, either.

Ultimately, the election will be about Iraq and terrorism (retreat or win), taxes (hikes or not), Supreme Court nominees (lurch the Court leftward or not), and health care (socialized medicine or not).

Sure, it will be about a lot of other things, too, but there are some serious reasons for conservatives to get excited about this election. It might even be possible that John McCain, however flawed a candidate and however disdainful of the conservative movement he has been, could disarm liberals and the media, bringing some credibility and political capital toward some of the big issues facing America.

As a Senator, John McCain supported major campaign finance restrictions that-- ironically-- might harm his chances to win this year. We know the litany of other sins John McCain has committed. But he's also been a bulldog on spending and a champion for success in Iraq. On the issues, people will come around. On the issue of character, John McCain has an incredible story and far greater gravitas than either Hillary Clinton or Barry Obama could ever have.

This is not an endorsement for John McCain. Far from it. But let's get real about the primary season turnout gap. It has never translated into anything in the general election, historically. It won't this year, either.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: Unions.

Posted by Will Franklin · 6 February 2008 09:06 PM · Comments (1)

Wednesday Caption Contest: Part 132.

This week's WILLisms.com Caption Contest photograph:


The actual caption:

US Democratic presidential candidate Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, acknowledge supporters at her "Super Tuesday" primary election night rally in New York, February 5, 2008. Twenty-four of the 50 states are holding nominating contests for one or both parties on "Super Tuesday" for a huge haul of delegates to this summer's conventions that will choose the candidates for the November presidential election. REUTERS/Jim Young (UNITED STATES) US PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION CAMPAIGN 2008 (USA)

I think the captioner missed something, here.

Entries will remain open until 11:59 PM, Central Standard Time, Tuesday, February 12. Submit your captions in the comments section, or email via WILLisms@gmail.com.

Last Week's Photo:

And... The Winners:

1. Dennis:

Psst...Hey Bill...She's Gone

2. elliot:

"Hmmm, nobody here, just a burning brown bag on the stoop. Guess I should stomp it out."

3. Rob B.:

(grumbling to self)"For a woman that whines so much about an "exit strategy", you'd think Pelosi would know how to close a door."

Captioning wicks away moisture, keeping you extra fresh and clean! Get yours today.

Posted by Will Franklin · 6 February 2008 04:52 PM · Comments (24)