Media overpessimism on Iraq--Exhibit A.

A mostly political Weblog.
June 20 2005 12:17 AM

Mr. Pecker in a Pickle!

Plus--the LAT's wacky wikiness.

(Continued from Page 3)

Some children in the United States occasionally look like the malnourished children we see in some parts of Africa, however, welfare programs targeting society's poorest ensures that problem is generally avoided, the pediatricians say.

Paradoxically, malnutrition is not always due to lack of food -- rather to the quality of the food being consumed.

"People often ask me how many children go to bed hungry. The answer is the parents work very hard so they don't go to bed feeling hungry. The parents try to fill the baby up with french fries and soda pop," said Frank.

In some areas, green vegetables and fruit are impossible to buy -- even in a can, because there may be no supermarket. Moreover, such items are costly. [Emph. added]

"Hunger" is not the right word. But "hunger" is a crude, tried-and-true basis for liberal campaigning, so "hunger" is what gets emphasized.  "Hunger" also neatly directs attention to the standard question of money and away from the touchy issue of parental and cultural foolishness.  Junk food is costly too. ...

P.S.: [What about that survey showing, according to AFP, "In 2003, 11.2 percent of families in the United States experienced hunger, compared with 10.1 percent in 1999, according to most recent official figures."--ed. That's misreported. Those figures in the U.S.D.A. survey measure "food insecurity," not hunger. "Food insecurity" supposedly means that a household had "limited or uncertain ability to acquire acceptable foods in socially acceptable ways (i.e. without resorting to emergency food supplies ...)." Food bank food doesn't count! "Many food-insecure households were worried or unsure whether they would be able to get enough to eat, and most reduced the quality, variety, and desirability of their diets."  I added the italics to make the point that you don't even have to reduce the variety or "desirability" of your diet to qualify as "food insecure."  The number of children who actually skipped meals in 2003 was .4 percent, according to the survey--down from .6 percent in 2000.

P.P.S.: [Aren't liberals smart to talk in shorthand about "hunger," instead of about junk food and bad nutrition?--ed. I say no. Like talking about "kids," talking about "hunger" scores well in polls but avoids the complicated reality of poverty. Antipoverty activists defended the welfare system for decades by talking about "kids" and ignoring the problem of subsidizing single-motherhood. What all that "kids" talk got them was welfare reform and a GOP Congress. I think focusing deceptively on "hunger" is a similarly misguided strategy, even on liberals' own terms (i.e., the truth would encourage more government antipoverty expenditures).  1:34 A.M.  link

Monday, June 13, 2005

Mickey Goes Wiki! Walter Dellinger emails about the possibility of a McCain third-party presidential run (should McCain fail to get the GOP nomination):

There is one final barrier to a third party candidacy, however, that may be dispositive.  Even if you get over "Duverger's Law"   about the tendency to vote for the top two, and the winner-take-all state-by-state character of the Electoral College, the real problem is the House of Representatives which will choose the President from among the top three in electoral votes unless one of the three candidates gets an absolute majority of all electoral votes.   Thus, if each of the major party candidates can simply scrape together one-fourth of the total electoral votes, the election will be decided by the House, each state delegation casting a single vote with the votes of 26 state delegations necessary to a win.  Regardless of how their district and states vote, there will be very strong party pressure on both Republican and Democratic members of Congress to cast a party vote.   There will be no Independent party members in the House, making it virtually impossible for McCain to assemble 26 states even assuming he runs first by a significant margin.

I agree with you that in a three way race it is quite possible that John McCain could finish first in both the popular vote and the electoral vote.  But that isn't enough.   McCain would need 270 electoral votes -- an absolute majority.  Otherwise, given the shape of the House in 2008, all the Republican candidate needs in a three way race is to finish third. [Emphasis added]

Hmmm. The only responses I can think of now are: 1) If McCain wins, say, 45% of electoral votes vs. 25 and 30, plus a similar plurality of the popular votes, there will be a lot of pressure on the House to pick him; and 2) Maybe his third party should also run some candidates for the House! 

But some readers may have a better answer. (Send them to Mickey underscore Kaus at msn dot com.)

P.S.: Dellinger's response to point (1):

Sure, I agree that at the outer margin (McCain 45, Dem 30, Republican 25) the House might crumble to popular McCain fever.  But it would be tough to pull off such a landslide.   One point for your argument -- Those numbers are percentages of electoral votes.  If McCain actually got  that percentage of popular votes--beating one major party candidate by 15% and the other by 20% (or anywhere close to that margin) he would very likely win an electoral vote landslide and avoid the House.  Still,  that is very, very tough.  Much tougher than (merely) finishing first in the popular and electoral votes.

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