This is the website of Abulsme Noibatno Itramne (also known as Sam Minter). Comments here or emails to me at abulsme@abulsme.com are encouraged... or follow me on Twitter as @abulsme.

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August 2008
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538’s Simulations Flip to McCain

The highly detailed analysis at fivethirtyeight.com is always worth paying attention to. They posted a note yesterday saying that their simulations were now showing McCain winning more often than Obama by a slight margin. At this moment in time, pre-Veeps and pre-Conventions, we are pretty much in a flat even race.

Today’s Polls, 8/20
(Nate Silver, fivethirtyeight.com, 20 Aug 2008)

Our popular vote projection shows a literal tie, with each of Barack Obama and John McCain projected to earn 48.5 percent of the vote, and third-party candidates receiving a collective 3 percent.

Things get confusing, however, when looking at the electoral college. We project Obama to earn slightly more electoral votes on average. However, we also project John McCain to win the election slightly more often. What accounts for the discrepancy? Obama’s wins tend to be larger, and McCain’s tend to be smaller. If Obama wins this election by between 7 or 10 points, there are very few high-EV states that he won’t be able to put into play; even something like Texas is probably winnable. If McCain were to win by that margin, on the other hand, he would still almost certainly lose New York, he would almost certainly lose Illinois, and he would almost certainly lose California. Those states represent 107 electoral votes that are essentially off-limits to McCain, even on his very best days.

Things only tend to get more volatile as the election approaches and more people start to pay attention. This is going to be an interesting September and October.

Fair Use under DMCA

What looks like a step in the right direction, via EFF:

Judge Rules That Content Owners Must Consider Fair Use Before Sending Takedowns
(Corynne McSherry, EFF, 20 Aug 2008)

A judge’s ruling today is a major victory for free speech and fair use on the Internet, and will help protect everyone who creates content for the Web. In Lenz v. Universal (aka the “dancing baby” case), Judge Jeremy Fogel held that content owners must consider fair use before sending takedown notices under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”).

Universal Music Corporation (“Universal”) had sent a takedown notice targeting a 29-second home movie of a toddler dancing in a kitchen to a Prince song, “Let’s Go Crazy,” which is heard playing in the background. Because her use of the song was obviously a fair use and, therefore, non-infringing, Lenz sued Universal for misrepresentation under the DMCA. Universal moved to dismiss the case, claiming, among other things, that it had no obligation to consider whether Lenz’s use was fair before sending its notice. The judge firmly rejected Universal’s theory:

Needing a Bump

Chris Weigant posted his latest Electoral update yesterday, quoting some of my commentary as well.

Electoral Math — Obama Sure Could Use A Bump
(Chris Weigant, Huffington Post, 20 Aug 2008)

It’s time once again to take a look at how the electoral math is shaping up for Barack Obama and John McCain. While the news this time around isn’t all that great for Obama, I wanted to take another of these snapshots of the polls — before the running mates are announced and before the conventions happen — in order to provide a statistical baseline to see how big a “bump” in the polls either candidate will get in the next few weeks. My analysis in short: while the news isn’t dire quite yet, Obama could certainly use such a bump at this point.

Take a look at the whole thing.

Lulling McCain

A few people are arguing that the fact Obama has slipped in the polls over the last month is not really a real problem for Obama, but rather it is just smart strategy, and Obama is outsmarting McCain by getting him to expend all his resources early, and Obama will come back and crush him later when he is tired and has nothing left.

Obama’s Rope A Dope
(Deannie Mills, Huffington Post, 20 Aug 2008)

I have been thinking a lot lately about Ali’s boxing career and especially his “rope-a-dope” strategy.

And I think it’s come to life again, in the Obama campaign.

Obama has taken many body blows during this lengthy campaign, first from Hillary Clinton and her many surrogates, and now from John McCain and his two surrogates, Joe Lieberman and Lindsey Graham. Recently, during the only real vacation he’s had in two years, the McCain campaign released a different sneering smear-ad pretty much every day of the week.

The fight’s over!

But, see, all this tongue-wagging really fails to take into account that this political boxer may actually have a strategy of his own. Call it, roping a dope.

All summer, during the early rounds of the fight, most Americans have not been paying that much attention while McCain has landed one body-blow after another. When they do look up, they see a fighter on the ropes, holding up his fists to protect his face, maybe getting in a jab or two in self-defense.

He’s weak! they cry. He’s getting the crap beat out of him!

But is he? Is he REALLY?

Right now he’s got a fortune in the bank, no debt, more money pouring in every month–and while that’s going on, he’s working hard to unify a party exhausted and irritated at one another after the tiresome primary season. Call it lots and lots of working out at the gym, strengthening those abs so they can withstand the hard punches.

Meanwhile, his trainer stepped in before the match and loosened the ropes–meaning, it may not be readily apparent simply because the campaign hasn’t trumpeted it loudly to media far and wide–but hard-hitting Obama attack ads have been quietly playing in swing states all over the country, delivering sharp jabs to McCain. They don’t smear McCain’s character or make up baseless crap about him or pretend that Britney Spears matters worth a damn to anybody in this country except Britney Spears–but they deliver sharp counterpunches on McCain’s weakest policy positions, and they’re landing more than a few bruises in the states where the fight hangs in the balance.

By the time we get to the last couple of rounds of this fight, Obama is going to come full-on into his own. He will get his strength and stamina from US–all of us out here who are in the ring with him. We will be energized and, to coin a phrase, “fired up and ready to go.”

And when that happens, most of the country WILL be watching. They’ll see a tired old man throwing ineffectual, wild punches.

And they’ll see a fighter in his prime, dancing away from the ropes, landing the knock-out blows.

Hmmm. There are possibly some good points in there. But I’m not sure I really buy it. I’m not sure that in this kind of game, which is of course NOT boxing, that it is ever the “smart thing to do” to let your opponent take the momentum and lead the media narrative for a month.