Thursday, February 28, 2008

Incarceration Rates Reach Highest Historical Levels

A new study finds that more than 1 out of every 100 American adults is currently incarcerated. The report from the Pew Center on the States differed from Justice Department figures because it based it percentages on the adult population, whereas the Justice Department divides by total population.
The study found that there are now 1.6 million people in prison (an increase of 25,000 over last year), while another 723,000 people are in local jails. Since the adult population is now 230 million, that means 1 out of every 99.1 Americans is behind bars. Using the Justice Department calculation, the number is closer to 1 in 130.
Additionally, 1 out of 35 Hispanic adults, and 1 out of 15 black adults are behind bars. Narrowing the numbers further, 1 out of ever 9 black men between the ages of 20 and 34 are now behind bars. More details can be found in this article.
A disclaimer: I am not familiar with Pew. If they turn out to be a terribly partisan group with iffy research, I will take this post down. But I wanted to get this up as I saw the numbers and was shocked.

Monday, February 25, 2008

From SCOTUS Blog: "Creating" or "declaring" rights

SCOTUS Blog has a great post analyzing the recent Danforth v. Minnesota opinion, which held the Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that states, under their own laws or constitutions, may give state prisoners the retroactive benefit of Supreme Court criminal law decisions, even if the Court itself has ruled they are not retroactive under federal law. What's interesting, and what the SCOTUS posts analysis points out is the justices articulate their thoughts on the interpretation of "rights" and "remedies" very well. Very interesting for them to better explain how they think. Enjoy!

"Creating" or "declaring" rights

Perhaps it is not enough to gladden the hearts of true “originalists,” but a clear majority of the Supreme Court has newly acknowledged that, when it comes to constitutional rights, they always existed and did not just emerge out of modern judicial creativity. That concept, most closely identified with the jurisprudence of Justice Antonin Scalia, is a basic rationale behind Wednesday’s 7-2 decision in Danforth v. Minnesota (06-8273) — a decision described in this earlier post.

To Justice Scalia (as he wrote 18 years ago), any notion that the Court creates the law — including a right — as opposed simply to declaring “what the law already is,” runs counter to judicial power as the Constitution defines it. The only thing that can justify judicial review, including the authority to strike down laws passed by “duly elected legislatures,” Scalia said then, is the view that the Supreme Court merely finds that something is already embedded in the Constitution. It is, for him, a variant of the originalist persuasion — that is, according to him, the view that “the Constitution does not change from year to year….To hold that a government act to be unconstitutional is not to announce that we forbid it, but that the Constitution forbids it.”

Justice John Paul Stevens, who wrote the Danforth ruling, is not known as a devotee of the unchanging Constitution. But his opinion on Wednesday quotes approvingly from Scalia’s past remarks and comments that, when the Court announces a new rule of criminal procedure, protecting a right, it is not announcing a rule “of our own devising.” He adds that “the source of a ‘new rule’ is the Constitution itself, not any judicial power to create new rules of law. Accordingly, the underlying right necessarily pre-exists our articulation of the new rule.” The language varies somewhat from Scalia’s, but the core concept is the same.

What makes this approach palatable to Justice Stevens (and the Court’s other liberal members, who joined his Danforth opinion) is that it fits well with a long-term project that Stevens has pursued. That is to draw a clear line of separation between a “right” and a “remedy” for a violation of that right. It is the business of the Supreme Court to say what rights are in the Constitution — that is, to say when a constitutional violation has occurred – but others may share in the task of implementing that right with remedies, according to Stevens’ view. This flexibility at the remedy stage enables a more creative, and perhaps even more expansive, view of how to fix the constitutional violation.

This is precisely the project that was at work in the Danforth decision. When the Court declares that a right exists for those accused or convicted of crime, and that right is asserted in a state criminal case, the states remain free to “remedy wrongful state convictions” — in this case, the states are allowed to decide for themselves whether to apply the right to earlier cases, even though the Supreme Court has ruled it would not apply to earlier federal cases. If, as in this case, the declared right (a variant of the right to confront one’s accusers) is one that the Court has refused to apply retroactively, Stevens wrote, “does not imply that there was no right and thus no violation of that right at the time of the trial — only that no remedy will be provided in federal habeas courts.” A state that now decides that it would make that right retroactive is not defying some binding federal law, Stevens said, but is only following its own law on retroactivity principles.

The rationale of the Stevens opinion for the Court is more consequential than the actual result. As Stevens pointed out, the majority of the states already feel free to give broader effect to Supreme Court declarations of criminal law rights than the Justices have done, and only three states take the contrary view — that is, that they must deny retroactivity if the Supreme Court has done so.

One thing not said in the Stevens opinion — and the omission is noted by dissenting Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. — is whether Stevens would now permit a state, with its new-found control over retroactivity doctrine and remedies, to actually use it in the opposite way: that is, could it refuse to make a new criminal law right retroactive if, in federal cases, the Supreme Court did make it retroactive? Stevens said in a footnote that that was not at issue, and so the Court said nothing about it.

Nevertheless, it is not clear that that is a real issue. The Court has not found a new criminal law right to be retroactive in federal cases and, indeed, regularly refuses to do so, and thus no state is likely to be faced with the choice that the Chief Justice posited. But, even assuming that the Court did make retroactive some newly declared criminal law right, it does not necessarily follow as a logical matter that the Stevens majority, if faced with a state’s refusal to go along in state cases, would permit it to limit an inmate’s right to claim the new right in a habeas challenge. After all, making a new criminal rule apply in federal habeas would mean that, when state inmates pursued a habeas challenge by invoking the new right and its retroactivity, they could benefit from the right and the remedy the Supreme Court itself devised: retroactivity.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

"Bitch is the new black." - Tina Fey

Well folks, the writer's strike is over. And Saturday Night Live, that show you used to watch in middle school cause you had nothing better to do on a Saturday night (like read election law) is back and ready to satirize the presidential candidates.

SNL opened up with their take on the American press' love affair with Barack Obama. It took place in the context of a Democratic debate. In addressing the press' one sided coverage of the campaign, totally ignoring any attempts to report the news neutrally, Obama had only these words for the journalists, "Yes, we can. Yes, we can take sides." At which, it appeared one of the female moderators swooned and had hot flashes. Pretty good SNL.

SNL then took up Hillary Clinton w/ Tina Fey bringing America the "Women's News" on Weekend Update. Opening up with a take on Lindsey Lohan looking old, Fey quickly moved on to a defense of Hillary Clinton. Among other things, Fey stated that it's OK for a woman to be a bitch. "I'm a bitch... Bitches get things done," commented Fey. At which point Fey exclaimed it wasn't too late for Texas and Ohio to get "on board," cause "Bitch is the new black." And yes, New York Times blog writer, I'm pretty sure that was Tina Fey's endorsement of Hillary Clinton.

And lastly, though not quite as pointed as Obama and Clinton, SNL actually DID feature Mike Huckabee who, still refuses to "exit with class and dignity." Enjoy:

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Supreme Court Shields Medical Device Manufacturers

Today the Supreme Court announced a decision immunizing medical device manufacturers from suits under state Tort law, if the device had been given approval by the F.D.A.
The plaintiff in the underlying suit was Charles R. Reigel who suffered severe and permanent injuries when a balloon catheter, manufactured by Minneapolis based Medtronic, burst while Reigel was undergoing an angioplasty. Reigel alleged that the catheter was manufactured in a way that violated New York state laws, and he brought suit in Federal Court. On appeal, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed, stating that the catheter had been approved by the F.D.A., and therefore was protected from liability under state law by the Medical Device Amendments of 1976. 
The Supreme Court upheld, with Scalia writing the opinion. He stated devices only receive F.D.A. approval if there is a "reasonable assurance" of the device's "safety and effectiveness." Thus, medical device manufacturers are encouraged to produce devices that, while they may introduce great risk to the patient, have the potential to offer a greater benefit than "safer" alternatives. Scalia also said jurors were in a poor position to measure the benefits and dangers of medical devices. The court sided with medical experts who testified that leaving medical device manufacturers subject to liability would "discourage the marketing of products that might save our lives." Medtronic, the company shielded in this case, reported $12.3B in revenues in its last fiscal year.
The lone dissenter on the court, Ginsburg, argued in favor of states' authority to develop their own common-law aimed at compensating for injuries caused by defectively designed or labeled medical devices. Both the House of Representative and the Senate have vowed to enact new legislation to allow lawsuits against medical device manufacturers. Henry Waxman said, "This isn't what Congress intended and we'll pass legislation as quickly as possible to fix this nonsensical situation." While Edward Kennedy said, "Congress never intended that F.D.A. approval would give blanket immunity to manufacturers from liability for injuries caused by faulty devices."
For more information, see this article in the New York Times, or read the full opinion.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

See who your favorite celebs donated to!

Was given this link to the Huffington Post: Fundrace 2008! You can look up by name who (if) folks you know donated to a this years presidential campaign! Will Smith gave $4600 to Obama. Bill Gates have $2300 to both Obama and Clinton. And film producer, Rob Reiner has given to a slew of people. Everyone but Obama. Anyhow, look for your own celebs. Or your relatives. Enjoy!

A simple ethical conundrum

I found this post on Marginal Revolution, and I thought it was awesome. Figured I'd share with you guys:

A few days ago I was in a London taxicab when I noticed a possibly expensive purse in the seat next to me. I climbed out of the cab and without much thought (shame on me) gave it to the driver. I explained someone had left it there. Of course I was intent on treating the driver like a decent human being. But wait, I know I am honest and maybe he isn't. But wait, maybe I couldn't have gotten the purse to the woman very easily. But wait, I could have posted notice on this blog and had you help me track her down. But wait, isn't it my obligation to simply leave the woman no worse off than she was in the first place? But wait, what is the default point for defining "in the first place"? But wait, what would the driver have thought if he saw me taking the purse out of his cab? But wait, isn't a purse really really important? But wait, what if the purse belonged to the driver?

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Bush's Department of Labor Screws Workers

Although George W. Bush being unfriendly to the common worker isn't news to any of us, I found this great blog articling how much his Secretary of Labor, Elaine Chao, does, indeed suck. Anyhow, check out

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Yup. It's that day again.

Instead of posting something bitter, I decided to post something cheesy -

[When Harry Met Sally ending]

Happy Valentine's Day, whether you're happy, bitter, or just don't give a rat's ass.



Saturday, February 9, 2008

Political Lunch

I was at the IP Symposium on Net Neutrality two weeks ago and one of the speakers was the attorney for this website. So I checked it, thought it was good, and decided to share it. It is two well informed guys that do a non-partisan (mostly) look at election and political news. Each episode is only a few minutes. A new show comes on every weekday at noon. Hope you enjoy.

Super Tuesday: Statistical Breakdown

Coming out of Super Tuesday, with a number of surprising results in hand, we sat down to try and make sense of the outcome. We determined to track some of the major assumptions about the voting bloc for both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. We did so by examining the exit polls found here.

We limited our inquiry to 6 states that we considered either "battleground" states, or where the results seemed to defy projections. The inquiry was limited to states with surprising results or "battleground" states because we believed those states to have the most relevance moving forward in the election process. These states were: California, Florida, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Mexico, and Nevada. The numbers are somewhat skewed in Florida and Nevada because those states held their primaries prior to John Edwards leaving the race. However, what we will call the "Edwards Effect" has been accounted for in the conclusion.

We divided the polling numbers into 6 categories: Age, Race, Gender, Education, Income, and Political leanings. Each category is divided into sub categories. These categories along with raw numbers about where the votes fell can be seen in this spreadsheet (you have to have a Google account, and then log into Google Spreadsheets). The available statistics varied in some states. When this happened, we either disregarded the unavailable category, or considered a different dividing line. Neither tactic seemed to skew the numbers in any significant way.

The assumptions we considered were: Age--Barack Obama carries the youth vote; Race--Black voters side heavily with Obama, while Clinton carries the Hispanic vote; Gender--Women lean heavily towards Clinton; Education--Voters with a higher level of education are drawn to Obama; Income--Wealthier voters tend to side with Obama; Political leanings--Voters who identify as "liberal" side with Obama, while "moderates" and "conservatives" are drawn towards Clinton.


1. Gender: The assumption regarding gender is correct. The male vote is split essentially evenly between Clinton and Obama, with Obama having a strong lead in only one state under consideration, while the female vote is overwhelmingly in favor of Clinton. In the four Super Tuesday states we considered, Clinton had a majority of votes in three, and in two states she had a commanding lead. She also had a majority in the states where Edwards was a factor. If anything, Edwards dropping out only strengthened her hold on the female vote.

2. Political Leanings: The assumptions about political leanings turned out mixed. Amongst "Liberal voters," Clinton and Obama are essentially even, with Clinton perhaps being slightly ahead. In the two states where Edwards was a consideration, the "Liberal vote" was heavily skewed to Clinton. Obama gained ground on Super Tuesday, winning the two smaller states in a landslide, but Clinton was still comfortably ahead in the two larger states we considered. The moderates came out heavily in Clinton's favor, both pre- and post-Edwards. The conservatives also went to Clinton. While Edwards was still in the race, Clinton and Obama drew in one state, with Clinton comfortably ahead in another. In the Super Tuesday states, Clinton and Obama drew once, with one landslide for Obama, one for Clinton, and one state going to Clinton by a comfortable margin. Clinton also again carried the larger states.

3. Income: The assumption about income was correct. Clinton easily carried the low income vote, with the exception of an essentially even split in one Super Tuesday state. Post-Edwards, her hold on the lower income vote actually strengthened. The middle income vote was closer, but still trended towards Clinton. Clinton held a lead in both states where Edwards was a consideration, with Obama gaining ground on Super Tuesday. Obama and Clinton each took two Super Tuesday states, with Clinton again taking the large states. The wealthy vote went to Obama. In the Edwards states, Clinton was well ahead of Obama, but lost ground on Super Tuesday. In the four Super Tuesday states we considered, Obama had one landslide, two comfortable wins, and Clinton claimed one comfortable victory. While the number of states won seems even, the wealthy vote is clearly trending towards Obama.

4. Education: The thesis about education is improperly formed. The prevailing assumption is that people with a higher level of education trended towards Obama. While Obama seems slightly ahead amongst well-educated voters, Clinton continued her trend of claiming the two large Super Tuesday states, and did not lose measurable ground post-Edwards. The High School educated and un-educated votes were both heavily in Clinton's favor. A more accurate statement, then, is that the two candidates split the well-educated vote, while the less educated are drawn towards Clinton.

5. Race: The assumption about race is absolutely correct. Obama won the Black vote in a landslide across the board. Clinton claimed a similar victory amongst Hispanics. The division amongst White voters is somewhat closer, but still ultimately in Clinton's favor. In the two states where Edwards was a factor, Clinton took the White vote comfortably. On Super Tuesday, Obama and Clinton each took a landslide in one of the small states we considered, while Clinton won a landslide in one of the large states, and a close victory in the other. We did not consider Asian or other races in our numbers, because only California had those statistics.

6. Age: The assumption about age is again mixed. While most assume Obama takes the youth vote comfortable, the numbers simply do not show that. In the Edwards states, Obama took one landslide, with one draw. Clinton actually gained ground on Super Tuesday, drawing both large states, with Obama claiming a landslide in one small state. The youth vote is certainly in Obama's favor, but this notion that the youth vote turns out for Obama in droves is, quite simply, flawed. Amongst the middle aged, Clinton and Obama are essentially drawn. Obama gained ground on Super Tuesday by splitting two states to two. But, as we have seen consistently, Clinton took the large states. Amongst the elderly voters, Clinton has a comfortable lead across the board--and actually gained ground with Edwards' departure.


While a good number of the commonly held assumptions seem to ring true, the largest surprise came from the age distribution. As discussed immediately above, the youth vote turns in Obama's favor, but he certainly claims no commanding control over that segment. Another small surprise came from the education levels. While the commonly held assumption is that educated voters are drawn to Obama, that assumption seems off the mark. A better way to phrase this is that the less educated are drawn towards Clinton, while the well-educated are essentially split.

The most telling element of these numbers comes from Edwards' presence. The numbers clearly show that once Edwards departed from the race his backers sided with Obama. This is unsurprising because Edwards and Obama were more closely linked, idealistically, than Edwards and Clinton. However, there was always the possibility that Clinton could have gained a big enough lead in the first few states that Edwards' backers went to her side, simply because she was the front runner. Because this scenario did not play out, we really have a compelling race ahead.

Pause for a moment, though, to think about how much different the race would look today had Edwards stayed in until Super Tuesday. After the first several states, the polls clearly showed that the nomination would come down to Obama-Clinton, but Obama trailed because the core of the party split amongst he and Edwards. This scenario played out very similarly with the Republican party. After the first several states, the Republican nomination seemed to clearly be between Mitt Romney and John McCain, with Romney slightly trailing McCain because the core of the Republican party--religious conservatives--split between he and Mike Huckabee. While Huckabee had little to no chance of winning the nomination, he stayed in the race anyway and claimed more delegates on Super Tuesday than Romney, because he carried the southern states and their fundamentalist Christian voters. Huckabee's showing on Super Tuesday so weakened Romney's campaign that he had to withdraw only a few days later, making the remaining primary season little more than a coronation party for McCain. Thankfully for Democrats, Edwards bowed out nobly before Super Tuesday. This allowed Obama and Clinton to wage an even handed campaign for the core of the party. Because Edwards did not needlessly leech votes from either Clinton or Obama, we now have anything but a drawn out Clinton coronation. We have a true race, with candidates on seemingly equal footing. It should be exciting.

Friday, February 8, 2008

The Wisdom of Fred Phelps.

I'd be remiss if I didn't share this link with you. It gave me a chuckle, and one thing everyone could use on a Friday afternoon is a good chuckle.

Apparently, Huckabee just isn't homophobic enough for everyone. Who would have guessed.

"What About the Children!" Gone Wild.

It hurts me to have to criticize Washington in front of all you Californians, it really does. But, Washington just might be losing the plot.

Apparently, my home-state's legislature has a few members who have gone off the deep end.

Bill would limit smoking in cars carrying children.

I have no clue as to how these lawmakers would propose adequate enforcement of such a thing. Let's start with measurable limits of harmful material. Was this experiment conducted in a car that had its windows rolled up? Could the potential harm be significantly diminished if the car had been moving and its windows were rolled down?

Next, how would an officer punish this? Is it something an officer could pull someone over for if s/he happened to spot a smoking driver go by with a child seat in the back, regardless of whether or not s/he saw a child in that child seat? If, during the progress of a vehicle stop for something unrelated, could the smell of cigarette smoke coming from the car be enough to issue a citation?

Finally, Rep. Schual-Burke has a classic quote at the end of the article. Try reconciling her two sentences. 1) The government isn't telling you can you can't smoke in the privacy of your own car. 2) "We're saying...don't do it when they [the children." Sure sure.

In conclusion, I'd expect this sort of silly taking-things-too-far approach from somewhere like Berkeley, but not my beloved Washington.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Beware: Superficial Analysis Ahead.

Call me a sucker for a charming speaker. But one thing that must be clear by now is that, regardless of your political positions, Obama is the most inspiring candidate in the race.

Granted I've only been around long enough to pay attention to the past few presidential election cycles, but I cannot remember anything in the '96, '00, or '04 campaigns that galvanized so many people with a positive attitude and seemingly genuine faith in a candidate, not any candidate that had a shot of winning at least.

It often goes unstated how important "gut feelings" are when it comes to selecting a candidate. Politicians are like professional athletes in the sense that they have a certain script they need to follow when addressing the public. (i.e.: "Just got to take things one game at a time" = "I will work hard to get bi-partisan legislation through") And whether it is right or fair, the presentation of that script can be decisive in a candidate's appeal. Gore was a robot in both appearance and presentation, Kerry was ghoulish and uninspiring.

Now we come this year's Democratic field. Before Johnny Edwards bowed out, he had a strong appeal along the fighting-against-big-corporations-for-the-common-man element, which plays well among the young and angry, the downtrodden, or members of student groups that "jokingly" get referred to as "Stalinists" by their classmates.

Ms. Clinton? Well, perhaps I'm bias, but I'd rather watch paint dry. If I was at one of her speaking engagements, I'd probably feel like Bill Murray in Caddyshack, "Hey Lama, how about a little something, you know, for the effort?" I know they're canned lines, but infusing a little passion into your speech wouldn't turn me off. I've seen bar stools with more stage presence.

That brings us to Mr. Obama. I don't think much needs to be said on his behalf.

And the original speech:

Political Future's Market Backing Obama

Well, here we have it. The Iowa Electronic Markets are backing a new candidate. I figured the market would shake out after Super Tuesday, and indeed it has. Barack Obama has been anointed official front runner status. As of February 6, 2008, the day after Super Tuesday, Obama was trading at a higher price than Hillary Clinton, $54.20 to $44.00. As of today, February 7, 2008, he has increased that lead to $58.60 to $40.80. I imagine this is a combination of his strong showing on Super Tuesday, but also the revelation that Hillary Clinton is running out of money while Obama has raised oodles of money, $5.6 million in one day after Super Tuesday. The Hillary camp has just announced that they've raised some more money, but clearly not at the level of Obama. So, with that being said, so long as Obama keeps the money coming in, I think he'll have a distinct advantage over Clinton in the upcoming primaries.

Happy Chinese New Year!

Well, happy lunar new year, as well- to include all the other Asian Americans out there! As America re-examines itself with the inclusion of two minority candidates in a heated Democratic primary, I thought I might celebrate the new year with a poem that really made me think about what it means to be Asian and living in America.

I was first introduced to Alvin Lau through this poem, "Asia America, Where Have You Gone?," and it really sent a shiver down my spine. He asked, in sum, "Now that the Asian American community is here in America, where are we going? How will we define ourselves in the future?" With his poem, Lau eloquently attempts to jump start the dialogue in the hope that others in the community will respond. For me, it raised many questions and concepts about "identity" that are often talked about, but never fully fleshed out. What particularly caught my attention was that Lau managed to do express this sense of "vagueness" in the community so articulately, in a manner I had never seen from an Asian American. It was simply powerful.

Now, I realize that not all of our readers are Asian American, so I don't expect all of what I've said to apply to all of you. Regardless, it's still, flat out, a great poem. So whoever you are, hopefully you'll be able to enjoy the merits of the poem in your own way. Happy New Year!

Thank you to all of those who made it out to our Super Tuesday happy hour!

Thank you to all the USF Law and Hastings students who made it out to Kezar Pub to come to our ACS Super Tuesday happy hour! It was great fun and I'm glad we were all able to enjoy watching the returns together. I hope we can do it again! Here are some pics to keep you amused!

Monday, February 4, 2008

CA House Member Super Tuesday Endorsements

Picked this up off the LA Times political blog, Top of the Ticket. Here are who each House member, Dems and Repubs, are supporting:



Mike Thompson (District 1, St. Helena); Doris Matsui (#5, Sacramento); Lynn Woolsey (#6, Petaluma); Ellen Tausher (#10, Alamo); Tom Lantos (#12, Burlingame); Dennis Cardoza (#18, Atwater); Brad Sherman (#27, Sherman Oaks); Hilda Solis (#32, El Monte); Diane Watson (#33, Los Angeles); Lucille Roybal-Allard (#34, East Los Angeles); Maxine Waters (#35, Los Angeles); Jane Harman (#36, Venice); Laura Richardson (#37, Long Beach); Grace Napolitano (#38, Norwalk); Joe Baca (#43), Rialto); Loretta Sanchez (#47, Garden Grove).

BARACK OBAMA (7 total):

George Miller (District 7, Martinez); Barbara Lee (#9, Oakland); Anna Eshoo (#14, Menlo Park); Zoe Lofgren (#16, San Jose); Adam Schiff (#29, Burbank); Xavier Becerra (#31, Los Angeles); Linda Sanchez (#39, Lakewood).

UNDECLARED (11 total):

Nancy Pelosi (District 8, San Francisco); Jerry McNerney (#11, Pleasanton); Pete Stark (#13, Fremont); Mike Honda, (#15, San Jose); Sam Farr* (#17, Carmel); Jim Costa (#20, Fresno); Lois Capps (#23, Santa Barbara); Howard Berman (#28, Valley Village); Henry Waxman (#30, Los Angeles); Bob Filner (#51, Chula Vista); Susan Davis (#53, San Diego).

* Had supported Chris Dodd, who ended his candidacy after a poor showing in Iowa.


MIKE HUCKABEE (1 total):

Duncan Hunter (District 52, Alpine).

JOHN MCCAIN (2 total):

Dan Lungren (District 3, Gold River); Darrell Issa (#49, Vista).

MITT ROMNEY (5 total):

Wally Herger (District 2, Chico); Buck McKeon (#25, Santa Clarita); Dana Rohrabacher (#46, Huntington Beach); John Campbell (#48, Irvine); Brian Bilbray (#50, Carlsbad).

UNDECLARED (11 total):

John Doolittle (District 4, Roseville); George Radanovich** (#19, Mariposa); Devin Nunes** (#21, Visalia); Kevin McCarthy (#22, Bakersfield); Elton Gallegly (#24, Simi Valley); David Dreier** (#26, San Dimas); Ed Royce** (#40, Fullerton); Jerry Lewis** (#41, Redlands); Gary Miller (#42, Diamond Bar); Ken Calvert** (#44, Corona); Mary Bono** (#45, Palm Springs).

** Had supported Rudy Giuliani, who ended his candidacy after a poor showing in Florida.

The Iowa Electronic Markets

The Iowa Electronic Markets are the granddaddy of political futures markets. A "futures market" is "an auction market in which participants buy and sell commodity/future contracts for delivery on a specified future date. Trading is carried on through open yelling and hand signals in a trading pit." For the IEM, trades are done electronically instead of in a live pit. The commodity for sale are the political candidates. And the market is the race for the democratic nomination.

For IEM, the future's market is "winner take all." So, if you bet the winning candidate, you win $1 per share (you can't purchase a share for over $1 as, logically, it would make the investment an automatic loser). If you lose, you get nothing. So, if some one were to purchase a share of John Edwards for $0.10, and Edwards to end up the nominee, they would get $1.00, thus netting a handsome $.90 per share. If you had bet against Edwards, no matter what you originally bet, you wouldn't get nothing, thus losing your entire investment.

The IEM is an important tool at measuring the nominee race because it is fairly accurate at predicting outcomes. has a pretty good explanation, but the general idea is also described by Russ Ray, Ph. D., of Risk Management magazine. He explains that "predication markets are able to flush out information that otherwise would not be available. Individuals around the world have different tidbits of inside information, and they know that using such information can enable them to earn a profit. Prediction markets are able to quickly and and successfully aggregate such information as no other mechanism can.

Through out the course of the next few months, Citizen Kendrick will be giving you updates not only on the democratic nominee markets, but eventually the presidential markets. So, stay tuned, and happy trading!

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Pre Super Tuesday Iowa Electronic Market Data

Here is the most recent Iowa Electronic Market graph for the 2008 democratic nominee. For a closer look at the numbers, you can go here. For the most part, it can clearly be seen that Clinton has, far and away, been the run away favorite. This all changed very suddenly come January and the Iowa primary, which Obama won handily. After that, investors overreacted and had an abrupt swing. And then just as abruptly, swung back the other way around to stabilize and favor Hillary again.

As we creep towards Super Tuesday, the charts clearly show Obama is gaining ground. Curiously enough, it appears Clinton still has a significant advantage, one that is must more pronounced than the polls. While the polls show Hillary and Obama in a virtual dead heat, the market shows a more favorable gap for Hillary.

Indeed, Obama has been making strides in the market, but, coming into Super Tuesday, those strides have been very volatile. It likely means the market is unsure about Obama, and aren't quite ready to commit, so are defaulting on Hillary until Obama can prove otherwise. Most likely, this decision will happen after Super Tuesday.

Given this uncertainty, however, it still doesn't explain why Hillary is still so favored over Obama. If polls believe the race is tight, why don't investors bet on Obama since he seems to have as equal chance of winning the nomination as Hillary? It seems reasonable to believe that if people think the outcome could go either way, then investors would plan for this. It seems natural that an equal number of investors would bet on Hillary and Obama. If anything, they might at least bet on Hillary, but hedge with Obama, thus, at least driving Obama's stock higher and Hillary's stock lower.

This is further confusing as investor's were already burned with Obama's win in Iowa, so here one would think they would give Obama more credit and bet more conservatively, evening out the two candidates. One explanation is that in Iowa, Obama took the nation, and thusly the market, by surprise. As markets hate uncertainty, they acted somewhat irrationally, and violently drove up Obama's stock at the expense of Hillary, only to later reverse themselves. The situation here is very different. Obama is already a known commodity, so investors know the odds. Yet still, they refuse to put faith in him. This indicates that despite what the polls and the press say, the 56,388 traders on the IEM seem to think they both have it wrong (meaning the market is correct). That in fact the race is close, but not as close as pundits would lead the public to believe. Of course, it's entirely possible the two prices will move closer together all the way until Tuesday. If this is the case however, why don't investors stake out their positions earlier? Well, whatever the reason, I'm sure this will all be figured out on Tuesday.

Official ACS Endorsement

The time has come, and ACS USF can no longer sit on the sidelines. Other student groups have endorsed, and have gotten away with it. We have to come out in favor of one side or the other.

If you want to know who the ACS is endorsing, highlight the blank area below to reveal the endorsement:

USF ACS endorses the World Champion New York Giants in 2008!

Eddie Sutton Wins Number 800

Well, he finally did it. USF Men's BBall coach, Eddie Sutton, accomplished what he came to USF to do: win his 800th game. And he did in in style against the terribly awful Pepperdine Waves (7-15 overall, 1-5 conference). Not that the Dons are much better (they had to battle back from a 19 pt. half time deficit). This win brings their season to a 6-15 overall, 2-4 in conference. Indeed, this is truly an accomplishment. I doubt we'll see many other college basketball coaches reach this milestone. He's quite a ways, however, from the top of the list. Texas Tech coach, Bob Knight is atop that heap with a record of 902-371.

As much as I'd like to celebrate, the Dons need a plan to start rebuilding their basketball program. Sutton has already indicated he will not stay for next year, that all he came here to do was to get win 800 and then get out. With that being said, USF athletic director, Debra Gore-Mann, has a huge roll to fill in order to jump start our mediocre mens basketball program. Well, such as it is, congratulations Coach Sutton! Enjoy it. And win us some more games! Go Dons!

Friday, February 1, 2008

A Clean Fight in LA

I was wrong. Hillary and Obama had a generally clean debate. What a nice change of pace for once. I guess voters really do have an impact on the tone of the campaign. Now, we wait for Super Tuesday.