ChrisWeigant.com

Petraeus's Public Shaming Better Than Hoover's Alternative

[ Posted Wednesday, November 14th, 2012 – 17:19 PST ]

In a way, I'm glad that David Petraeus's sex scandal is playing out across the pages and television screens of the mass media. Because one of the alternative ways it could have been handled is so much worse.

Now, I'm not normally a prude when it comes to sex scandals. In fact, I believe that America is still struggling to escape its own Puritan past, even after centuries. Politicians and high-ranking government officials in other countries treat mistresses and other sexual peccadilloes differently. If politicians and the public really don't care who is sleeping with whom, then there's no scandal and no possible means of blackmail -- which is the real heart of the problem, in many ways.

Spies have long set "honey traps" for government officials of their opponents. There's a reason for this -- the threat of being exposed is so great that it is used as a lever to force someone caught by such a trap into betraying their own country (to save themselves major embarrassment). The head of the Central Intelligence Agency would have been a prime target for such action by the Soviet Union during the Cold War, for obvious reasons.

Petraeus' scandal, however, apparently does not involve foreign players. It is an entirely American scandal. Both Petraeus and his mistress graduated from West Point. That's about as all-American as you can get, in the scandal department.

Which has led to the expected tut-tutting from some about how a sexual affair really shouldn't matter all that much, that Petraeus maybe shouldn't have had to resign, and that the media is making too much of the whole thing. Perhaps, some say, it should have all been handled more privately.

This is wrong, for historic reasons. The agency that uncovered the affair is the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Their headquarters is named for the man who led the agency for an astounding 48 years. Which is an absolute disgrace, in my opinion, because J. Edgar Hoover was the biggest blackmailer the United States has ever known -- and much of the leverage he exploited was due to information he possessed about sexual dalliances of high-ranking officials in the United States government.

Just for one minute, imagine that Hoover was still in control of the F.B.I. He obtains information that the head of the C.I.A. has a girlfriend. What does he do? Does he report this to Congress and the White House and hold a press conference? Does he use the information to get the C.I.A. chief to step down? No, he does not. Hoover would have called Petraeus in privately, shown him the evidence, and from that point on, the C.I.A. would essentially have been a subsidiary of Hoover's F.B.I.

This is why I started by saying Petraeus's public exposure was a good thing, when compared to the historical alternative. Yes, such things can happen here in the U.S.A. -- and did, for almost half a century. Harry S Truman wrote in 1945 that "We want no Gestapo or Secret Police. FBI is tending in that direction. They are dabbling in sex life scandals and plain blackmail when they should be catching criminals." This is no conspiracy theorist, this is the President of the United States speaking.

J. Edgar Hoover, famously, "had a file on everyone." That was his power. His file on Eleanor Roosevelt, whom he detested, ran to at least 449 pages (what remains of it). Hoover catalogued the sex secrets of congressmen, senators, judges, military personnel, presidents, Supreme Court justices, celebrities, journalists, dissent groups he didn't approve of, and anyone else he could get dirt on. And then he used this information to get the rest of the government to do what he wished. In a word, blackmail.

As a result, the F.B.I. had no worries when budget time rolled around on Capitol Hill. Their requests were granted almost automatically, since so many of the people voting had already been compromised. During Hoover's time in office, from 1924 to 1971, Congress didn't hold a single hearing on the F.B.I. budget, to put this another way. Politicians soon realized that by taking Hoover's side, they could actually benefit from information about their political opponents -- which every president from F.D.R. to Nixon did. Wiretaps and surveillance against the opposition wasn't invented in the Watergate hotel; in fact Watergate was an amateurish effort from the White House to duplicate what had already been professionally handled by the F.B.I. for decades. It wasn't just presidents, either. Hoover's assistant director William Sullivan admitted "We were the ones who made the [Senator Joe] McCarthy hearings possible. We fed McCarthy all the material he was using. I knew what we were doing. I worked on it myself. At the same time, we were telling the public we had nothing to do with it."

Of course, in such a world of blackmail, there's always a chance of being hoist on your own petard. J. Edgar Hoover was likely not a cross-dresser, as these stories came from a single source and were so outlandish as to be unbelievable. But Hoover's files were full of homosexuals, which was a big part of the McCarthy accusations as well. No actual proof of a gay relationship between Hoover and Clyde Tolson (the number-two man at the F.B.I. during Hoover's tenure) has ever been made public -- but that doesn't mean such proof didn't exist. Rumors persist that both the Mafia and the C.I.A. had compromising photographs of Tolson and Hoover as early as the 1950s. It is an undeniable fact that Hoover's F.B.I. turned an astonishingly blind eye to organized crime during his last three or four decades in power.

So who knows how such a blackmail war would have played out today, even if J. Edgar Hoover were still around? If Hoover had dirt on the head of the C.I.A., but the C.I.A. had equally-scandalous photos of Hoover, perhaps there would have been a stalemate of sorts. It's sheer speculation, either way.

So while I cannot say whether David Petraeus should have been forced to step down or not over an affair with a married woman, the one thing I can say with certainty is that I'm glad the F.B.I. did break the story publicly and that we're all hearing about the salacious details in the media right now. Because the alternative is a really frightening one, where evidence of such sexual misbehavior would be used as leverage by the head of the F.B.I. for whatever purpose he wished -- to achieve whatever goals he wanted in other branches of the government.

In fact, I'd even support now renaming the F.B.I. headquarters the "Robert Mueller Building" (or for any other former director, really) -- because it is a disgrace how the man it is currently named for used to handle such things in America's past. Memorializing the most successful and most powerful blackmailer in American history in such a fashion is nothing short of shameful.

 

[Note: Quotes in this article, as well as supporting information, were taken from the chapter "America's Sex Czar" in the book One Nation Under Sex by Larry Flynt and David Eisenbach, Ph.D. Some might argue that Flynt is a rather suspect source, but really who would better know the history of sexual hypocrisy in this country? And it's not as if there weren't plenty of others out there making exactly the same case against J. Edgar Hoover. Quibbles about details do not detract from the central truth of Hoover's history of blackmailing Washington power players, which has been irrefutably documented elsewhere.]

-- Chris Weigant

 

Cross-posted at Business Insider
Cross-posted at The Huffington Post

Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant

 

62 Comments on “Petraeus's Public Shaming Better Than Hoover's Alternative”

  1. [1] 
    TheStig wrote:

    A very perceptive article, one of your best!

    The appropriate comment on Hoover's legacy would be to rename FBI HQ The Martin Luther King Building.

    Added benefit:tapping the energy generated by Hoover rolling in his grave would reduce US dependence upon foreign oil.

  2. [2] 
    Michale wrote:

    Great commentary, CW! :D I think I commented early on what a quandary the Obama MSM would be in..

    Looks like they are forgoing their loyalty to Obama and roasting Petraeus alive....

    Added to Obama's Petraeus' woes is it looks like the Middle East is ready to explode...

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/14/opinion/friedman-obamas-nightmare.html?hp

    Obama might regret buying re-election... :D

    Michale.....

  3. [3] 
    Michale wrote:

    Obama might regret buying re-election... :D

    If Israel is defeated or destroyed on Obama's watch, you can bet that Democrats won't be able to get elected Dog Catcher for at least a hundred years...

    Michale.....

  4. [4] 
    michty6 wrote:

    CW,
    I get the point in your article about having the news media cover this is better than this being settled behind closed doors.

    But the news coverage of this story is the perfect example of everything that is wrong with the media today: sensationalising stories, jumping to unwarranted conclusions - all in the name of having the next big 'scoop' on the matter. Basically, to invent a new adjective, the whole media has become 'Fox-like' over their handling of this story and resorted to pretty poor (Fox-like) level of journalism.

    For this reason, I haven't actually read too much on this matter, other than the basics that I can get from BBC (without Fox-like journalism) on this story for these reasons.

    The day the American media realises that just because Fox has high ratings does not mean you need to present poor journalism with over the top sensationalism and rhetoric will be a good day for the America. Soap operas also have good ratings, but the job of the media is to accurately present the news.

  5. [5] 
    LeaningBlue wrote:

    Obama might regret buying re-election...

    He didn't buy re-election. Romney.lost.

    BTW, I heard the best explanation for why single women went 2-to-1 for Obama, talking to my niece last night for her birthday.

    She said that young women are continuously hit on and lied to by men, who say stupid and outrageous things trying to pick them up. Their sense of recognizing bullshit becomes highly advanced, from body language to paying attention to how the details don't line up.

    She said that every time she heard Romney, in debates or in clips from the campaign, he was lying. He was trying to pick up the country, spewing bullshit.

    And worse, he wasn't even offering to buy her a drink.

  6. [6] 
    michty6 wrote:

    Hahaha my gf said the exact same thing. 'Sleasy' and 'slimy' were the 2 words most commonly used. Funnily enough, she said Ryan was even worse - and he doesn't have the factual history of flip-flopping (yet) that that-47%-guy does - just based on pure 'bullshit recognising' skills.

  7. [7] 
    Michale wrote:

    He didn't buy re-election. Romney.lost.

    Yea...

    The astronomical rise in Food Stamps and Free ObamaPhones for everyone (voting DEM) had absolutely NOTHING to do with the election..

    I may have been born at night, but it wasn't LAST night... :D

    Michale......

  8. [8] 
    michty6 wrote:

    The astronomical rise in Food Stamps and Free ObamaPhones for everyone (voting DEM) had absolutely NOTHING to do with the election..

    I may have been born at night, but it wasn't LAST night... :D

    Baaaaaaaaaahahahahahahhahahaha. Amazing. My God you have been watching too much Fox. You are long gone from reasonable rational debate (unless this was a joke - in which case it's actually funny that people believe this but I take back this comment!).

  9. [9] 
    Michale wrote:

    My God you have been watching too much Fox.

    No matter HOW many times you say it, michty, it's STILL not going to be a fact..

    I don't watch Network or Cable TV.. I haven't in over a decade...

    This is a perfect example of why you are always wrong.. You repeat a lie over and over until you finally convince yourself that it's the truth...

    Michale.....

  10. [10] 
    LeaningBlue wrote:

    The astronomical rise in Food Stamps and Free ObamaPhones

    Don't forget rampant voter fraud. A GOP official in Maine is saying that "dozens" of black people showed up to vote and nobody recognized them. Bussed in from Chicago, no doubt.

    And, anyway, where's my FreeObamaPhone? I'm still on a last-decade Nokia, and I could use a new phone.

    I'd comment on food stamps for real, but I'm laughing too hard. But seriously, why haven't you said anything about that number being delayed in release until after the election? That was a bit ... unusual.

  11. [11] 
    TheStig wrote:

    Michael _ "If Israel is defeated or destroyed on Obama's watch"

    Really, you almost seem to relish the prospect. The only credible way this could happen is with nuclear weapons, and with the resulting retaliation, up to and past WW III, who gets elected in the next US political cycle will look pretty trivial, if we still have eyes in sockets with which to look. "Take that Obama!" Come on.

    Everybody is amped up about Gaza, but let's all try and stay calm. We know how this works. A bunch more people will get killed, hands will be wrung, diplomats will do diplomacy, a truce will be declared, Hamas will find a new chief of military and it will happen again in 5 years,more or less, with no decisive impact to either side.

    This is tragedy, not a political windfall for anybody in US politics.

  12. [12] 
    michty6 wrote:

    Don't worry LB, Fox is on it today. And Rush has been on the 'Obamaphones' for a long time. I believe he may even have coined the phrase (first time I heard it was from him).

    Everyday, a new conspiracy theory from Fox and Republicans as to why the election was lost. Nothing to do with the UNPOPULARITY OF YOUR POLICIES lololol.

  13. [13] 
    michty6 wrote:

    Stig,
    This is tragedy, not a political windfall for anybody in US politics.

    You clearly don't know how Fox works. Don't you remember Benghazi??

  14. [14] 
    Michale wrote:

    Really, you almost seem to relish the prospect.

    Not even close...

    My hatred of Obama doesn't extend THAT far...

    I would rather endure a thousand Obamas for a thousand years rather than a single Israeli citizen come to harm..

    Having said that, it would be illogical to ignore the facts..

    And the facts show that Obama is no friend to Israel...

    Everybody is amped up about Gaza, but let's all try and stay calm. We know how this works. A bunch more people will get killed, hands will be wrung, diplomats will do diplomacy, a truce will be declared, Hamas will find a new chief of military and it will happen again in 5 years,more or less, with no decisive impact to either side.

    Sadly, your logic is impeccable...

    It's sad that the UN/International community would give legitimacy to a terrorist group like Hamas...

    Wall off Gaza and leave them to kill each other off.. Then Israel can go in with little loss of life on their side and help the survivors, if any...

    The best solution to the Israeli/Palestinian issue is to give the Sinai to the Palestinians and let them make a homeland there...

    Michale.....

  15. [15] 
    michty6 wrote:

    Having said that, it would be illogical to ignore the facts..

    And the facts show that Obama is no friend to Israel

    If I were you I'd pack up my stuff and leave for the mountains now. Because the fact-police are on their way and they're angry.

  16. [16] 
    Michale wrote:

    Don't you remember Benghazi??

    I do...

    It's where the Obama Administration had a year of warnings with hundreds of small attacks and the Administration DENIED enhanced security upgrades and personnel and, as a result, our Ambassador and three other Americans were killed..

    THAT Benghazi???

    Michale.....

  17. [17] 
    michty6 wrote:

    Michale, You forgot the part where Obama watched the whole thing live with a bag of popcorn, cackling away enjoying the show his Muslim friends were putting on...

  18. [18] 
    michty6 wrote:

    Don't worry though. His incompetent handling of Benghazi will probably cost him the election. I heard it on this very blog.

  19. [19] 
    Michale wrote:

    Michty,

    Nice dodge..

    If Benghazi had happened under a GOP Administration, ya'all would be screaming and yelling hysterically instead of actually DEFENDING incompetence...

    Michale....

  20. [20] 
    Michale wrote:

    But I shouldn't be surprised..

    This was the group that swallowed the entire BS of a phantom protest and an obscure anti-mohammed video hook, line and sinker...

    Michale.....

  21. [21] 
    michty6 wrote:

    Yes we are all brainwashed by that Muslim socialist usurper, who has entranced the media into accepting his evil ways, and people only voted for him because he gave them food stamps and Obamaphones. Yes. This is reality. Totally. Screw facts. This sounds way better.

  22. [22] 
    Michale wrote:

    http://www.timesofisrael.com/southern-israel-under-fire-air-force-strikes-terrorist-targets-in-gaza/

    Hamas has forgotten the most important rule of guerrilla warfare...

    "If you tweak the tail of the tiger, you better have a plan for dealing with it's teeth."

    Michale.....

  23. [23] 
    Michale wrote:

    Usually when people resort to mocking sarcasm, they realize they have lost the rational/logical high ground..

    :D

    Michale.....

  24. [24] 
    michty6 wrote:

    Or (as in this case) they realise they are basically talking to a wall due to the lack of fact-based arguments with nothing but empty rhetoric that the wall gathered from the far corners of the right-wing Echo chamber ;)

  25. [25] 
    Michale wrote:

    Or (as in this case) they realise they are basically talking to a wall due to the lack of fact-based arguments with nothing but empty rhetoric that the wall gathered from the far corners of the right-wing Echo chamber ;)

    This, coming from the guy who swallowed the Administration's line, even though it defied all logic and rationality...

    Where were your vaunted "facts" THEN, sonny Jim??? :D

    Who called it right within 12 hrs and who STILL believed TOTALLY BS story from the bozo Administration almost 2 weeks later??

    I believe that was me and you.... respectively... :D

    Michale.....

  26. [26] 
    michty6 wrote:

    Lol Michale there were 2 reactions to Benghazi:

    (1) Fact-based: let's wait for more facts and information and not jump to conclusions.
    (2) Rhetoric-based: OMG Fox News says this happened so it must be true! IT'S OBAMA'S FAULT! This will cost him the election for sure!

    You definitely fit into (2) and me into (1) - probably on most things this is the case.

  27. [27] 
    michty6 wrote:

    On the Gaza front, the only way I see this escalating beyond the usual '5 year exchange of fire' is if something unforeseen happens. Like the Egyptian PM currently visiting Gaza gets struck by an Israeli missile. THAT might change things...

    Also can you imagine if this happened in America? America decides to attack their closest enemy 2 MONTHS before the Presidential election?? Fox News would be going MENTAL.

  28. [28] 
    Michale wrote:

    You definitely fit into (2) and me into (1) - probably on most things this is the case.

    And yet, *I* was right and *YOU* were wrong.. :D

    Michale.....

  29. [29] 
    Michale wrote:

    Also can you imagine if this happened in America? America decides to attack their closest enemy 2 MONTHS before the Presidential election?? Fox News would be going MENTAL.

    Of course, it's NOT possible that the missiles falling on Israel on a daily basis had absolutely NOTHING to do with it, right??? :^/

    Michale....

  30. [30] 
    michty6 wrote:

    Of course, it's NOT possible that the missiles falling on Israel on a daily basis had absolutely NOTHING to do with it, right??? :^/

    Sure I totally agree. I'm not one to jump to conclusions. I don't really know the full facts of the response and it seems pretty well coordinated, which suggests it has been planned for a while.

    My point was that Fox ARE the type to jump to conclusions (see Benghazi or anything) and if say Netanyahu was Obama they'd be going MENTAL about the timing of this being so close to an election. And people like you would be on repeating Fox rhetoric everyday, calling everyone an idiot and blind to reality for not seeing this as election move...

  31. [31] 
    Michale wrote:

    Interesting note..

    Rockets hitting Tel Aviv is a MAJOR escalation on the part of Hamas... At NO time in the past did Hamas ever target Tel Aviv, even though they claimed to have the capability...

    The fact that they are targeting TA now will unleash a reaction from Israel the likes of which Gaza has never witnessed..

    To put it in historical perspective, the last time Tel Aviv was hit was in 1991 and that was due to SCUD rockets fired from Iraq during the first Gulf War...

    Things are going to get really dicey now...

    "This is going to get out of control!!! This is going to get out of control and we'll be lucky to live thru it!!!"
    -Fred Thompson, THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER

    Michale

  32. [32] 
    michty6 wrote:

    Yeh I saw that. They mobilised 30,000 troops after those TA missiles...

  33. [33] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    TheStig [1] -

    Thanks for the kind words. His neighbors would call him "whirligig Eddie"... heh...

    michty6 [4] -

    I really like your "Fox-like"... kinda rolls off the tongue....

    Don't be too fooled by ratings, Fox "leads cable news ratings" but compare all cable news ratings to the big 3 network broadcast news ratings -- the big 3 beat even the best Fox has usually by a ratio of at least 10:1. When you add all 3 together, it's like 25:1 or worse. Most Americans prefer their news bland and Brian Williams-ey.

    LeaningBlue [5] -

    Now that is both stunning and hilarious at the same time. Get her to write it in a blog, I'll post it as a "message to the GOP from young female demographic" type of thing!

    Michale [9] -

    OK, you don't watch Fox. But you must be getting your right-spun news from somewhere. So here is my question to you: seeing as how you were lied to repeatedly by whatever outfit was pushing the "Romney's win is inevitable" (see: your own comments for the entire month of October), will you now treat those same news outlets with a bigger dose of skepticism? Will you trust news outlets that were actually telling you the truth in October more? Just wondering....

    For instance, the ones pointing out that the "free Obama phone" program was actually started by Ronald Reagan?

    michty6 [12] -

    Republicans before the election: "This is the most significant election in decades, as the American people have a clear choice of whose version of the future they want to see happen."

    Republicans after the election: "This election really didn't mean anything. Status quo, that's all. No mandate for anything."

    You've got to admire their doublethink abilities, at times...

    Michale, RE: Bengazi -

    I have a question for you. How long did it take the Bush administration to admit it had gotten a memo "Bin Landen Determined To Attack US" after it happened? Days? Weeks? Months? Or was it years? And what were you saying about it back then? Were you denouncing them for a long-running conspiracy? You accuse "the Left" of a double-standard, but you should examine your own, at times.

    -CW

  34. [34] 
    michty6 wrote:

    CW,
    You've got to admire their doublethink abilities, at times...

    Yeh tell me about it. I bet not a lot of people looked at the Exit Polls, but there were basically 5 main direct policy issues which were polled. I bet you anyone (even Democrats) would be surprised at how bad Republicans did on these 5 issues but here you go:

    Abortion: Legal 59%, Illegal 36%. 23 point loss.
    Obamacare: Keep 44%, Repeal 49%. 5 point win.
    Taxes: Increase 60% Not Increase 35%. 25 point loss.
    Immigration - give workers legal status?: Yes 65% Deport 28%. 37 point loss.
    Gay Marriage: Legal 49% Illegal 46%. 3 point loss

    Average loss on policy: 16.6 points.
    Democratic EC winning gap: 24 points.

    But nah. I was nothing to do with our awful policies. It was probably Obamaphones or Food Stamps. LOLOLOLOL.

  35. [35] 
    Michale wrote:

    CW,

    . So here is my question to you: seeing as how you were lied to repeatedly by whatever outfit was pushing the "Romney's win is inevitable" (see: your own comments for the entire month of October), will you now treat those same news outlets with a bigger dose of skepticism? Will you trust news outlets that were actually telling you the truth in October more? Just wondering....

    Those outlets no more "lied" than the pundits who swore up and down that Kerry was going to win, "lied"..

    They rendered an opinion that was supported by facts..

    They were wrong..

    Am I going to be more skeptical of their opinions in the future... Possible.. Possibly not. It depends on whether or not the their opinions are backed up by independent facts...

    For instance, the ones pointing out that the "free Obama phone" program was actually started by Ronald Reagan?

    Yes, I know that.. But it is undeniable that an Obama voter touted her free phone "from Obama".. Just like another Obama voter in 2008 said she voted for Obama because he was going to pay her mortgage..

    Those kinds of stories coupled with the massive increase in welfare addicts lend credence to the idea that Obama bought the election...

    The concept IS logical and rational, given human nature...

    No one wants to shit on their cash cow...

    I have a question for you. How long did it take the Bush administration to admit it had gotten a memo "Bin Landen Determined To Attack US" after it happened? Days? Weeks? Months? Or was it years? And what were you saying about it back then? Were you denouncing them for a long-running conspiracy? You accuse "the Left" of a double-standard, but you should examine your own, at times.

    We're not talking about a memo that was issued years prior to the incident in question...

    If you WANT to put Benghazi into the context of the 9/11/2001 attacks, it would be as if the Bush Administration had tried to sell to the American people that the 9/11 attacks were merely airplane malfunctions and stuck by that totally BS story for almost two weeks and did so SOLELY because of an upcoming election....

    THAT is what Benghazi was like...

    Michale.....

  36. [36] 
    TheStig wrote:

    CW, Michael [33]

    "Romney's win is inevitable(see: your own comments for the entire month of October"

    We can actually date when the fiction cracked...searching, searching, ah, here it is:

    57]
    Michale wrote:

    Romney 82 EV

    Obama 79 EV

    Tuesday, November 6th, 2012 at 18:18 PST

    After that, the communications stop. Haunting.

    Now, if you tap a little hole in this cavity, like so, pour in some plaster of Paris, wait a bit...now chip away the surrounding matrix....whisk a bit....

    Voila....a human form emerges, crouched in a fetal position. It's a prognosticator overwhelmed by hot, fast moving data flow from the 2012 election.

    Poor devil.

  37. [37] 
    Michale wrote:

    There is simply NO WAY that *ANY* rational person can come away from Benghazi thinking that the Obama Administration did good...

    The Obama Administration frak'ed up..

    PERIOD...

    The *ONLY* point of contention is HOW BADLY the Obama Administration frak'ed up....

    Michale....

  38. [38] 
    Michale wrote:

    Stig,

    57]
    Michale wrote:

    Romney 82 EV

    Obama 79 EV

    Tuesday, November 6th, 2012 at 18:18 PST

    After that, the communications stop. Haunting.

    Now, if you tap a little hole in this cavity, like so, pour in some plaster of Paris, wait a bit...now chip away the surrounding matrix....whisk a bit....

    Voila....a human form emerges, crouched in a fetal position. It's a prognosticator overwhelmed by hot, fast moving data flow from the 2012 election.

    Poor devil.

    I bet ya enjoy pulling the wings off of flies, don'tcha??? :D

    hehehehehehehehe

    No doubt... I was wrong.. ROYALLY wrong...

    But here's the thing... I am pretty much alone in being able to admit that...

    If you do a google search of the Weigantian Archives for the words "I WAS WRONG" you won't find ANYONE else here who has utter'ed those words in the specified context...

    Save the Grand Poobah himself..

    So, either one of two possibilities exist..

    Everyone else is NEVER wrong..

    OR

    Everyone else simply can't admit when they are wrong...

    I'll leave it to your logical mind to choose the right answer.. :D

    Just for the record, you have to keep in mind the time difference and the fact that my normal day usually starts at 0300 Eastern Time...

    Michale.....

  39. [39] 
    Michale wrote:

    Just for the record, you have to keep in mind the time difference and the fact that my normal day usually starts at 0300 Eastern Time...

    In other words, I don't run from a fight simply for the piddley assed reason of being wrong.. :D

    Michale

  40. [40] 
    michty6 wrote:

    Michale,
    Those kinds of stories coupled with the massive increase in welfare addicts lend credence to the idea that Obama bought the election...

    I have highlighted in bold the key word here from your rant. But you'll never quite get this. Apparently 1 person on Fox News/Rush Limbaugh screaming 'Obamaphone' somehow translates into 63 MILLION votes for Obama lol. And somehow giving them 'Obamaphones' meant that they agreed with Obama instantly on ALMOST EVERY SINGLE ISSUE. Lol.

    The concept IS logical and rational, given human nature.
    No one wants to shit on their cash cow...

    Let's explore this a little more and take this to it's logical conclusion. There were 2 candidates in this election. One said he wanted to increase taxes on the wealthy, keeping everyone else's rates the same; the other said (after changing his mind a bunch of times) that he wanted to reduce taxes by 20% for EVERYONE. If people were so self-absorbed and not wanting to 'shit on their cash cow' why did they not vote to pay less taxes? Why, in exit polls, is raising taxes favoured by 60-35% (close to the actual margin of victory)? Of course you won't be able to answer this because it doesn't fit into the rhetorical reality you have created to try and explain - find any explanation, other than policies - just how your party lost...

    There is simply NO WAY that *ANY* rational person can come away from Benghazi thinking that the Obama Administration did good...

    I'd re-phrase it: there is no way ANY person who watches Fox News and are gullible enough to believe everything they see on it comes away thinking that the Obama administration did good. They assumed that the election was over. Obama practically shot the 4 guys himself. It's over. Romney landslide. Fox nailed it.

    This was you Michale. The comments on here prove it.

    Then there is everyone else who doesn't fit into this category. They saw a terrorist attack that killed 4 Americans in Libya. And they then saw one side desperately trying their hardest to politicise the shit out of this with made up rhetoric - not just from the moment it happened but WHILE it was under-way.

    These are the 63 million+ Americans who voted for Obama or did not vote for Romney. I thank them for their sanity.

  41. [41] 
    Michale wrote:

    Michty,

    You would say that water is dry and the sky is green if you thought that A) That's what you believed a Lefty would say and B) it was contrary to reality...

    There is obviously NO convincing you that water is wet and the sky is blue..

    So I won't even bother trying.. You are going to believe what you want, regardless of ALL the facts to the contrary...

    If you actually believe that Obama did good on Benghazi, despite ALL the *FACTS* to the contrary, you are beyond help..

    And I am tired of trying....

    Michale.....

  42. [42] 
    Michale wrote:

    If you actually believe that Obama did good on Benghazi, despite ALL the *FACTS* to the contrary, you are beyond help..

    Like I said... No **RATIONAL** person could believe that the Obama Administration did good on Benghazi...

    So, I guess that let's you out... :D

    Michale......

  43. [43] 
    Michale wrote:

    Saying that Obama did good on Benghazi is like saying that Carter did good on Iran..

    It simply defies reality....

    Michale.....

  44. [44] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Michale -

    We're not talking about a memo that was issued years prior to the incident in question...

    Actually, they were given that memo a month before 9/11 (August 6, 2001). The "years" thing was the gap between when they got the memo and when Condi was forced -- through gritted teeth -- by Congress to admit it existed. In the spring of 2004.

    Sorry to rain on your parade with facts, but there they are.

    -CW

  45. [45] 
    TheStig wrote:

    Michael [38]

    Pull the wings off flies? No sport there, I have a catch and release policy.

    Hey, life's no fun if everybody agrees with you. No risk, no reward. Sometimes the bear eats you etc.

    Salute! We'll meet again.

  46. [46] 
    Michale wrote:

    TS,

    Hey, life's no fun if everybody agrees with you. No risk, no reward. Sometimes the bear eats you etc.

    A person after my own heart!! :D

    "To the journey!"
    -Ensign Harry Kim, STAR TREK:VOYAGER, Endgame PT1

    :D

    CW,

    Actually, they were given that memo a month before 9/11 (August 6, 2001). The "years" thing was the gap between when they got the memo and when Condi was forced -- through gritted teeth -- by Congress to admit it existed. In the spring of 2004.

    Sorry to rain on your parade with facts, but there they are.

    OK, then NOW we are *approaching* the level of incompetence...

    I say approaching because a memo saying, "Yada yada yada yada possible threat yada yada yada yada intentions of yada yada yada" is a FAR cry from HUNDREDS of actual attacks against the Benghazi station..

    Further, that memo doesn't even address the issue of the total bullshit Obama story of a phantom non-existent protest/demonstration and an obscure anti-mohammed youtube video...

    Like I said.. If Bush had tried, for 2 weeks after 9/11/2001 to blame mechanical failure, THEN you would have a comparable context...

    Compared to Obama after Bengahzi, Bush after 9/11/2001 was the paragon of truthfulness...

    You simply CANNOT deny this...

    Michale...

  47. [47] 
    akadjian wrote:

    Basically, to invent a new adjective, the whole media has become 'Fox-like' over their handling of this story and resorted to pretty poor (Fox-like) level of journalism.

    This is an interesting comment, michty, and I'm torn about this.

    On the one hand, I like to think that if we had a better, more objective media our country wouldn't be so poorly informed.

    On the other hand, as CW as pointed out on many occasions, our media at different points throughout our history has been much more partisan.

    What we witnessed in this election seemed to me very similar to the bet made in the movie Trading Places. The bet was that money and enough disinformation could win the election. It didn't work.

    Why it didn't work is what I think will be the most interesting in the years to come ...

    -David

  48. [48] 
    michty6 wrote:

    There is obviously NO convincing you that water is wet and the sky is blue..

    So I won't even bother trying.. You are going to believe what you want, regardless of ALL the facts to the contrary

    You are confusing 'facts' with 'Fox'. I deal in the world of 'facts' (the first sentence you have) where as you deal in the world of 'Fox'. Nothing you say has any fact-based evidence and 90%+ of what you say is rhetorical bullshit you saw on Fox/in the right-wing-echo-chamber and are repeating. Some examples:

    - "Like I said... No **RATIONAL** person could believe that the Obama Administration did good on Benghazi
    - Saying that Obama did good on Benghazi is like saying that Carter did good on Iran.. It simply defies reality
    - Compared to Obama after Bengahzi, Bush after 9/11/2001 was the paragon of truthfulness"

    All nonsensical over the top Fox like rhetoric as usual. Here is a fact that disproves this easily. Benghazi was only a few weeks before the election. So it was fresh on the mind of voters. And Fox ran a massive propaganda campaign to try to 'nail' Obama on the crisis. Yet, despite all this, in the exit polls on 'Would You Trust Obama to Handle International Crisis?' 57% voted yes. In fact, 13% OF ROMNEY VOTERS voted yes to this. But of course don't let my FACTS get in the way of your FOX...

    You live in a world of make-believe fairy tales, created by Fox et al, where Obama is the evil emperor and all the knights and warriors of the Republican party are trying to stop him. In this magical world the evil emperor was going to be crushed in the election (despite factual evidence to the contrary) and only won because he evilly gave people things that they like so they'd vote for him. >63 million people evilly received things apparently - with no factual evidence to back this up - but we don't need facts we live in make-believe world! He gave them Unicorns he did!

    Until you actually open your eyes and stop believing this magical fairytale world created by Fox and the right-wing-echo-chamber arguing anything with you is pointless. It's like arguing policy someone who lives on earth and someone who lives in Narnia.

  49. [49] 
    michty6 wrote:

    David,
    This is an interesting comment, michty, and I'm torn about this.

    On the one hand, I like to think that if we had a better, more objective media our country wouldn't be so poorly informed.

    Obviously this is just personal opinion, but I think what has happened in your country is that the media has become 'scared' of being objective mainly by Fox and others accusing them of 'bias' when they are being objective.

    This is because the facts overwhelmingly favour the Democrats than Republicans. So anyone objectively reporting such facts can appear to come across as 'biased' when they aren't. Like all Fox propaganda campaigns, they have been very good at taking the media on in this regard and stopping objective reporting.

    For example, a news organisation could state: under the last 5 Presidents, including Obama, taxes have been increased on the wealthy only once - under Clinton. And only under Clinton did we have a surplus. Therefore the objective facts on tax increases favour President Obama's current position with regards to the best method to reduce the deficit and move into surplus.

    But they would never do this. They are too scared.

    Another thing I saw during the election was many news organisations far too scared to actually dig into the details and objectively analysis the budgets being proposed by the 2 Candidates. Because this would have come across as very 'biased' due to the laughable nature of the Ryan/47%-guy budget...

  50. [50] 
    TheStig wrote:

    Michael [46]

    Regarding prognostication, I have found I am eaten/mauled by bears less frequently when I avoid "target fixation," which is what got the Red Baron.

    Seriously, it's deadly to rely too much on any one viewpoint, or any one source of information. Be especially wary of experts in one domain working in another...they tend to be selling rather than predicting (K Rove). When the odds change, change your call.

    Calling the last election was actually fairly easy IMHO, IF you aggregated from three basic sources (wonks).

    1) Experienced Political Journalists. The Grand PooBah being a good example, and one of the few who "returns calls." These folks know all kinds of details about how the game is played, and how it has historically played out. Taken together they tend to point in the right direction, but they really give you alternative scenarios rather than odds. Scenarios are very useful. Know all the scenarios and you are never surprised, just often displeased.

    2) Modelers, fundamental and poll based. Nate Silver is both. These guys actually give you numerical odds, but it's not always clear exactly how they are getting them.

    3) Prediction markets. There are a lot of these, they give odds, but it's almost totally unclear how the crowd gets its wisdom, or whether its just doing group think. I wrote a lot of comments about them, not that I trust them more, but mostly because other people covered the other two groups better than I. Plus, in my (hopefully) bear hardened lair, I was using them to calibrate some models of my own. I like models.

    When the signals from all three ends of the wonkoscape tend to converge (each had its outliers) and they did this cycle, the call is pretty easy.

    Romney was a distinct underdog. As I saw it, the consensus pointed to Romney being a 1:3 underdog, never better than 1:2 (right after the first debate), inching to 1:4 in the last week. I wasn't surprised I avoided a mauling on Nov 6, but I won't have been amazed had I ended up as bear food.

    In closing, anybody who bet on favorable odds given by a too eager political fan (R or D)was no fool.

  51. [51] 
    michty6 wrote:

    Stig
    I like models.

    So do I. I also like computer models too... Zing!

    But seriously we should talk more. I also built my own model. It was fairly simple: polls + GOTV adjustment + Hurricane Sandy adj + early voting number adj's. It underestimated Obama in most States, but that is because most of the polls did too.

    But yes the election was actually pretty stable and very one-sided. I called every single State correct on this very site back on Sept 11th (right before Benghazi) in a mini-bet with Michale... Votamatic had the correct EV call up for about 6 months!

  52. [52] 
    TheStig wrote:

    Mighty6 [51].

    My approach to the election was more like pricing than fundamentals. If you looked at the 2012 electoral map as state by state probabilities of Obama victories, you probably saw mostly ones and zeros. There were only about 10 genuinely competitive states. Romney had to basically run the table to get 270 electoral votes. I was interested in computing the odds he could do that.

    This proved more interesting than I thought it would. It's quite challenging to compute likelihood of victory from commonly published data.
    For me, it's a work in progress. In the end, I just used other peoples estimates - mostly Nate Silver and a half dozen Prediction Markets (aka offshore bookies).

    At first I assumed the states behaved independently, but I gradually came to believe this was a mistake. To make a long story short, the competitive states tend to behave as a herd, given the assumed probabilities of winning each of the 51 states and DC, you can accurately predict the assumed likelihood of winning the EV race on the basis of a single random number, you don't need 51.

    If you assume all 51 states and DC behave independently, you tend to substantially underestimate (roughly 25% low)Romney's chances of running the table.

    If you partition variance into national and local random effects you get the best prediction, but not much better than just using the national

    In practice, because Ohio is a big EV swing state that doesn't usually strongly favor Rs or Ds, the probability of winning the EV is usually very close to the probability of winning Ohio. I saw this again and again for both the prediction markets and Nate Silver. Individual sites showed a fairly high amount of consistent bias, Nate was high, Intrade low, but internally, the state and national probabilities were remarkably internally consistent.

    There is a very simple graphical way to implement my model, I commented on it on the CW Blog Electoral Math Post of Oct 8

    I implemented all my models of the 2012 season in MS Excel, it just wasn't worth using anything more sophisticated. Excel is Excellent for prototyping simple back of the envelop concepts - but take notes 'cause coding won't make sense in a month or so.

    My personal picks were 51 for 51 this year, I changed Florida from Romney to Obama the day before the election, when the last aggregated poll data showed PObama had crossed over to > 0.5. No shame in that.

  53. [53] 
    michty6 wrote:

    Stig,
    Very nice. A few comments:

    At first I assumed the states behaved independently, but I gradually came to believe this was a mistake

    Nate actually wrote a bit about this. He links the results in States like Iowa, Ohio and Wisconsin together, for example. For example, the Democrats have never lost PA while winning OH. So, knowing this, if the Democrats are competitive (or ahead, as they were in the polls) in OH then you can take PA out the game immediately. Tbh most models already did this, only deluded Republicans and their media outlets thought PA was 'winnable'.

    I implemented all my models of the 2012 season in MS Excel, it just wasn't worth using anything more sophisticated

    Same here. I do 90%+ of my work in Excel anyway. It's a pretty amazing tool when you know how to do everything it can do! For number crunching and data analysis, which is what this really is, you don't need anything else.

    My personal picks were 51 for 51 this year, I changed Florida from Romney to Obama the day before the election, when the last aggregated poll data showed Obama had crossed over to > 0.5. No shame in that.

    Lol I was pretty close to being the same! The median polls (which is what I used) actually had Romney marginally up (depending how many days back you went) in Florida because of a few lolol +5, +6 polls plus bad pollsters like Ras chipping in at R+2. I think my median was something like R+1 but my model corrected this through the early voting and GOTV adjustment (my GOTV adjustment was based on the number of field offices each candidate had in each battleground - I think this is where pretty much every model (even mine) underestimated the vote for Obama). I believe I slightly over-estimated the impact of Hurricane Sandy (I took a 0.2% adjustment off Obama's vote in Florida for this) otherwise I would've nailed Florida. But I over-adjusted for Sandy in all States. It really didn't have an impact all outside of NJ and NY (maybe NC in the loss of 2 early voting days, but NC was going Romney anyway).

    Florida was always going to be the closest. I think about half models gave it to Romney and half to Obama. Mine leaned Obama pretty much only because of the strong early voting numbers he posted (which my model incorporated)...

  54. [54] 
    dsws wrote:

    Prediction markets aren't a separate source. They just aggregate opinions from whatever source people get them from, which is mostly wonks and polls. Wonks pay close attention to polls. Polls depend on likely-voter models. And likely-voter models can be wrong.

    You can get swing voters to tell you which way they're going to vote. But turnout voters always want to think they're going to vote. Pollsters have to judge what measures of enthusiasm will accurately foretell voting, and what GOTV efforts will make a difference. They're pretty good at it, but it's still an expert judgment being put into the process, not something observed or calculated from observations.

  55. [55] 
    michty6 wrote:

    Prediction markets aren't a separate source. They just aggregate opinions from whatever source people get them from, which is mostly wonks and polls. Wonks pay close attention to polls. Polls depend on likely-voter models. And likely-voter models can be wrong.

    Not quite. You are assuming that prediction markets are operating as a perfect market (so, for example, there should be no arbitrage opportunities). What happened in the election was there was MASSIVE arbitrage between In-Trade and the rest of the prediction markets (which weren't exactly perfectly aligned themselves). There were a couple of theories posited for this:

    (1) Campaigns or backers throwing money behind their candidate so that they can quote the 'In-Trade' percentage as a sign of confidence. This was more likely this year as RCP quoted In-Trade prices on their aggregation page.
    (2) People betting on their own biased hunches that someone was going to win (i.e. that the polls would be wrong).

    In reality (1) is very unlikely as the smarter people usually quickly buy up the stock of the people trying to push the market. This happened on a few days when a candidate shot up 10% before flying back down again.

    I believe (2) was particularly common during this election due to the propaganda and complete nonsense thrown out by the right-wing news this year. The effects of this weren't able to 'flatten out' like in (1) because there were (and still are) millions of deluded ill-informed people out there who, for example, only watch Fox News and can't believe the odds they are getting on Romney to beat the Muslim Socialist Usurper!

    And I must say that it was a pleasure to take their money :)

  56. [56] 
    TheStig wrote:

    Mighty6 [53][55]

    "Nate actually wrote a bit about this" Indeed. I ended up reverse engineering his National/Local variance partitioning, based on a few sentences in one of his comments or FAQs. What I found is I almost always got almost precisely his national probability of Obama victory if I used local variance = 0% of total random variance. Probability of Obama winning declined steeply as national variance moved off 100%, the curve seems pretty flat from 50% to 0%, but I never did a formal analysis of this.

    Like Nate, I run Monte Carlo Sims to estimate probability of national victory. Except when national variance = total variance, then it's easy to compute exact probabilities. You can see why I like the "one die roll" variant of the model.

    Nate"links the results in States like Iowa, Ohio and Wisconsin together, for example." This seems a more fine grained nearest neighbor analysis used when data are sparse

    I concur with your comments about prediction markets. I tracked six of them for about 6 weeks prior to the end; they do not move in lock-step with each other, or with Nate Silver. Often, the bookies were leading indicators of Silver, which makes sense, since Nate builds a lot of inertia into his model (inertia declines as election nears)

  57. [57] 
    TheStig wrote:

    DWS [54]

    Aggregation of data from diverse sources is basically the mechanism behind the wisdom of crowds.
    Overlap is to be expected, something would be very odd if you didn't observe it.

    That said, the prediction markets broadly move together, but rarely in lock step and sometimes in completely different directions.

    A data set doesn't have to be perfect to add information to a meta analysis. Estimate the biases, correct and run with what you have.

  58. [58] 
    dsws wrote:

    Smart people buying would have cleared arbitrage from (1) just as well as from (2).

    I wasn't assuming markets/bookies function perfectly. They can aggregate opinion (or deliberately introduced bias) from other sources perfectly (in which case there's no arbitrage opportunity left), or they can do it imperfectly. The sources can be the same wonks we read in the news, fans of one side or the other with bias based on their affiliation, freelance analysts with no such bias, or fans of one side or the other betting against their own beliefs to bias the published odds (aka "(1)").

    I think (1) is quite plausible, because the volume of big money trying to bias the election exceeded the volume bet in closely-watched markets, by at least a couple orders of magnitude. But it wasn't "campaigns" in the narrow sense. They have less money and more disclosure than the big-money backers of each side.

    Regardless of the source, it's surprising to me that there was arbitrage available. It's like finding money on the ground, unless some of the betting sites had high costs or were not trusted to pay off.

  59. [59] 
    michty6 wrote:

    DS,
    Ah I get your point now on the information source. The difference is that In-Trade has much more bias because every single user has their own biases thrown in. The other models and polls have much less bias (and noise).

    I have no idea whether or not (1) or (2) was making In-Trade so far out from other markets. But hey, I am not complaining in the slightest :)

    I had never been on In-Trade before this election. I basically used them and Betfair to set up a ridiculously +Expected Value bet on Obama winning. I previously had a Betfair account and they are a UK licensed company that I know of, so I had no qualms with them, but I was a little worried about In-Trade. However the money finally cleared off them today - yay! And their fees are just ridiculously low. I guess most of their profit comes from investment returns off the money people store on their site, as a lot of their bets are quite medium-term in length (e.g. they were taking bets on the election a year or so ago, so people betting back then would've had their money tied up for a year...)

  60. [60] 
    LeaningBlue wrote:

    It appears I was wrong on Benghazi. In hindsight, I should have gone with my basic instinct, and reject any conspiracy within the administration on the basis of lack of motive. In any case, it looks like it is over now following the General's testimony.

    These quotes, from the Udall (D)/ McCain (R) / Miculski (D) / Barrasso (R) press conference today:

    McCain: "I'm concerned about four Americans who died. Their families need to know the circumstances, why it happened, how it happened, and where responsibility lies. That's all. That's all that we're seeking. We're not seeing a confrontation with anyone. We're not trying to quote 'take on anyone.'"

    Sen. Mark Udall ... Barbara Mikulski ... and John Barrasso ... promised a full accounting of what happened in Benghazi.

    Barrasso: "Whether or not a select committee is created, we'll get to the bottom of this. We're going to find out what happened, learn the lessons. We're going to honor these four patriots who died. We're ging to carry on the work of Ambassador Stevens."

    It's over. Let's move on now to serious research into the feasibility of secession and go recount some votes.

  61. [61] 
    dsws wrote:

    When I die, I hope it's not in some nationally-prominent way. I'm not a patriot, and I don't want to be posthumously turned into one.

  62. [62] 
    michty6 wrote:
Comments for this article are closed.
[Powered by WordPress]