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July 2008
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Shame on all 69 of them

The FISA revision passes as expected.

Senate OK’s New Wiretapping Law
(Andrew Tilghman, TPMMuckraker, 9 Jul 2008)

The Senate overwhelmingly approved a new federal wiretapping law this afternoon by a vote of 69-28.

After last month’s approval of a similar measure in the House, today’s vote essentially clears the way for the bill to go to the White House for a final signature.

The bill approved includes sweeping and retroactive immunity for telecom companies that provided information about customers to government officials without a warrant as part of the Bush Administration’s surveillance program imposed after September 11, 2001.

So what does that mean? It means that the nations largest telecom companies no longer have to worry about a batch of multi-million lawsuits filed by customers angered that the companies turned over their personal information to the government without a warrant.

It also means that if you are at home making an overseas phone call to a suspected terrorist, the government can monitor that call without a warrant.

And it’s not clear how intel agents define who is a suspected terrorist.

(via Talking Points Memo)

Electoral College: Map Changing Zogby Poll Dump

There are new polls in 36 states today. 34 of them are from a massive dump of new polls done by Zogby. Of those 36 states, 9 states changed status in the way I group states. Of those, 6 moved in or out of the leaning “swing state” status. None actually changed who was in the lead in my “last 5 polls” averages.

Of the 9 states, 2 states (with 34 electoral votes) moved in McCain’s direction, 7 states (with 85 electoral votes) moved in Obama’s direction. On balance, this is a good result for Obama. The specifics follow.

Good for McCain:

  • 27 EV – Florida – Lean McCain to Weak McCain (no longer swing)
  • 7 EV – Iowa – Weak Obama to Lean Obama (now swing)

Good for Obama:

  • 34 EV – Texas – Strong McCain to Weak McCain
  • 17 EV – Michigan – Lean Obama to Weak Obama (no longer swing)
  • 10 EV – Arizona – Strong McCain to Weak McCain
  • 8 EV – South Carolina – Weak McCain to Lean McCain (now swing)
  • 7 EV – Oregon – Weak Obama to Strong Obama
  • 5 EV – New Mexico – Lean Obama to Weak Obama (no longer swing)
  • 4 EV – New Hampshire – Lean Obama to Weak Obama (no longer swing)

All of this leaves us with this new summary:

McCain Best Case – McCain 284, Obama 254
Obama Best Case – Obama 362, McCain 176

If everybody gets their leans (and Obama gets DC) – Obama 306, McCain 232

Now, one interesting thing here. Obama’s total in the case where he gets NONE of the leaning swing states (McCain’s best case scenario) still gives Obama 254 electoral votes. Give him DC (a near certainty) and he has 257. That is only 13 electoral votes from winning. If either Ohio or Virginia… currently Lean Obama states… strengthen into Weak Obama states… then Obama would have enough states where he leads by more than 5% to win WITHOUT ANY SWING STATES. In my averages right now, Obama is ahead by 3.4% in Virginia and 4.6% in Ohio. It wouldn’t take all that much to push him over the 5% threshold.

Leaving Ohio and Virginia as swing states for the moment, it leaves us with 11 swing states with 105 electoral votes. Obama only needs 13 of those electoral votes to win. Taking any of Ohio, North Carolina or Virginia alone would do it. Various combinations of the smaller states would also do.

McCain’s lead in Florida climbing back up to 5% (exactly, barely putting it back in the Weak category instead of Lean) is good news for McCain. So is Iowa weakening for Obama and coming into play. But…

McCain really needs to start doing something here. It has been a month now since Obama wrapped up the nomination. This has been a pretty huge bump. It may start to fade a bit, but McCain has to start actually DOING something if he wants to make a race out of this rather than just slowly going through the motions of a loss.

At this point it almost looks like McCain just trying to prevent an Obama landslide, rather than McCain actually trying to win.

Important – Added 10 Jul 2008 15:25 UTC – A correction. I’d made a transcription error on the Iowa poll numbers. The race there is closer than it was, but did not actually dip below the 5% threshold (although it is close). Iowa therefore remains a “Weak Obama” rather than a “Lean Obama” and should not have changed in the update above. It will be corrected on further updates.