Sunday, March 30, 2014

Return of The Dividist "10"
Wherein we disagree with Nate Silver.
Sort of.

With apologies to "10" 

Note to Pundits: It's Still 2014
With all the speculation about the 2016 presidential election prospects of Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, Elizabeth WarrenChris Christie, Jeb Bush, Rand Paul, Scott Walker, et. al. ad infinitum, something important has been overlooked. We have a very important election in 2014.  Nate Silver informs us that majority control of the Senate hangs in the balance:
FiveThirtyEight Senate Forecast: GOP Is Slight Favorite in Race for Senate Control 
"When FiveThirtyEight last issued a U.S. Senate forecast — way back in July — we concluded the race for Senate control was a toss-up. That was a little ahead of the conventional wisdom at the time, which characterized the Democrats as vulnerable but more likely than not to retain the chamber.  Our new forecast goes a half-step further: We think the Republicans are now slight favorites to win at least six seats and capture the chamber. The Democrats’ position has deteriorated somewhat since last summer, with President Obama’s approval ratings down to 42 or 43 percent from an average of about 45 percent before. Furthermore, as compared with 2010 or 2012, the GOP has done a better job of recruiting credible candidates, with some exceptions."
Given we are still early in the primary season... Given the Republican penchant for nominating clown candidates in winnable Senate races...  Given the hole the Republicans dug for themselves in the Senate in 2012... the Dividist is a bit dubious of Nate Silver's prediction.  We'll come back to that. But first, let's consider one 2014 outcome that is not at risk in any meaningful way - the continuing status quo of our happily divided government.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

That wasn't Vladimir Putin's first tweet. This is Vladimir Putin's first tweet: "...good intentions cannot justify the violation of international law and state sovereignty."

Putin Russian Twitter Account Profile
This week twitter released a new service to view anyone's first tweet. Vladimir Putin's first tweet garnered a lot of attention. Sent in November 2012 it commemorated the occasion of President Obama's reelection:
Vladimir Putin's first English tweet

The tweet was characterized in MSM and blogs as ironic and an indication of how badly relations have degraded in subsequent years. Examples include WaPo, NBC, CBS, The Independent, TPMHuffington Post, etc, etc, etc. I'm not sure how truly "ironic" that tweet is. Certainly banal. Probably perfunctory. Maybe sarcastic. But not ironic.

Regardless, there is a bigger problem with the the reporting on that tweet. Despite the media assertions, that was not Vladimir Putin's first tweet.  Not even close. That was Vladimir Putin's first tweet from his English language twitter account.  Vladimir Putin's actual first tweet was sent from his Russian language twitter account over 10 months earlier in January 2012. Vladimir Putin is, after all, a Russian.

This was Vladimir Putin's actual first tweet, and it is one hell of a lot more interesting than the pablum with which he inaugurated his English language twitter account:
Putins 1st Russian tweet

Friday, March 21, 2014

Crimea is like Texas. Or something.

 Russian Crimea like Mexican Texas? 

She takes the long way around with a comparison to Texas, but a smart take from Rachel Maddow making a very good point about the repercussions of Putin's annexation of Crimea on Ukraine, Russia and the West. We recognize her very good point as insightful,  since it is the exact same point we made three weeks ago.

Maddow 3/19:

Monday, March 03, 2014

Three Soviet stooges and why Ukraine may be better off without Crimea.

The Soviet Stooges  - Joseph, Nikita and Vladimir
Anyone with a passing interest in the "the most seismic geopolitical event since 9/11", learned quite a bit about Ukraine, Crimea, and Russia over the weekend.  In particular we learned how three Soviet stooges have done enormous damage to the small semi-autonomous region of Crimea over the last 75 years. The most recent destabilizing damage was just inflicted on the region by Vladimir Putin (stooge "Larry"). Yeah, I know - The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) is long gone so, strictly speaking, Putin is not a "Soviet" stooge. He just plays one on the world stage.  Here is the stage where we find him performing his schtick today:

The important part of this map is that brown bit hanging out the back end of Ukraine. That is Crimea, the region of Ukraine recently annexed by Russia. You'll note it is the only part of Ukraine shaded brown - i.e. Crimea is the only region of Ukraine with a majority ethnic Russian population.  Among the Crimean population not ethnic Russian, are the original inhabitants of the region - the Crimean Tatars. The history of why this region has a majority ethnic Russian population and why it is (was?) part of Ukraine is an important story. To understand that story, we need to go back to our Soviet stooges.