The panel of the High Court reviewing a petition from The Movement for Quality Government in Israel to demand a State Commission of Inquiry on the summer, 2006, war in Lebanon, rejected the petition in a 4-3 vote. As Haaretz reports, the Justices nonetheless criticized the government for creating a much weaker panel to review the actions leading up to and during the war, which the petitioner sought to replace with a more independent State Commission:
The High Court’s abstention does not indicate its contentment with the way in which the government made the decision, nor does it give its seal of public approval for appointing the committee…
I have not followed the Ecuador vote closely, but I had the impression, from reports of opinion polls, that it was going to be close. But, PoliBlog notes a report that Rafael Correa appears to have won around 65% in Sunday’s two-candidate runoff for the presidency. 65-35 is not close. This is a surprise. (Update: Greg Weeks reports 57%; that still is not close.)
Why were polls off by so much? I don’t know enough about Ecuadorian politics or polling to know, but if Correa really won around 65% it would be quite a polling failure. Such a result would also be surprising inasmuch as the first round was so fragmented. Correa won only 22.8%, which placed him four percentage points behind the first-round leader, Alvaro Noboa. The third and fourth candidates had 17.5 and 14.8 percent, respectively. That both of these candidates were from nominally leftist parties is presumably key to Correa’s having apparently picked up so much of their support. Even so, the polls did not track that.
Despite the “mandate” of the presidential runoff, governing will not be easy. It never is in Ecuador, where the “fixed term” of the presidency is not to be taken for granted. The unicameral congress that was elected–using open-list PR* in mostly low-magnitude districts–at the same time as the first round of the presidential election will have no single party with even 30% of the vote (and the largest is Noboa’s party). I do not even see Correa’s own alliance (it is not a party) in the alphabet soup of results. The second largest party in congress, with just under a quarter of the seats, will be the Popular Socialist Party, which significantly out-polled its own persidential candidate (who came in third). Rarely have I seen so little correspondence between first-round presidential and PR-congressional voting. I guess that’s why various scholars use Ecuador as a prime example of the “inchoate” or “uninstitutiuonalized” party system.
* The link on the congressional result is to Adam Carr’s site, which gives the preference votes for the elected candidates in each district.
At least I thought this was now an open-list system. But in looking more closely at the votes totals, some of the elected candidates are shown with a “personal vote” that is greater than that of their party. So, now I am confused as to what this electoral system is.
As noted by Alex, the recent Dutch election gave us what must be a world first: parliamentary representation of an animal-rights party. The large parties of the left and right (Labor/PvdA and Christian Democratic/CDA) combined for less than half the seats. As Wilf noted in a post-election comment (on the citizens assembly thread), the outcome as a whole seems to confirm what I had indentified from the assembly proposal to be a citizen preference for fragmentation. Indeed, Dutch voters will be represented by quite a managerie of political parties.
The Democrats-66, a liberal party that has long promoted political reforms, collapsed to just three seats.
I wonder what, if any, implications this outcome will have for the work of the citizens assembly.
No, this is not about 2000, thought the sixth anniversary of the coup that “legitimized” the Florida fraud of that year will be upon us soon. Rather, this is about the under-vote rate this year in the the state’s 13th House district (yes, the one formerly held by the Fraud Facilitator herself), which is, at the very least, suspicious.
More at LGM, whose concluding remarks this comparative psephologist most wholeheartedly endorses:
If we keep up the local control fetish and the lack of an effective recount process (which is exacerbated by electronic voting), it’s not a question of if we’ll get another 2000, but when. [emphasis added]
It is an interesting idea, and something I have pondered for Fruits and Votes, given the evident segmentation of the readership on my “core” topics (and my various peripheral ones).** I’d be curious to know what readers think. (Not that I would know how to implement the idea at the moment; in fact, Professor Bainbridge himself is asking his readers for advice on how to fine-tune the concept. I wish he was seeking that advice in public comments, rather than via private e-mail.)
** On the other hand, Althouse suggests that mixed-topic blogs are better, though concedes that the concept may appeal to those “who want to write about their professional subject in a style that they worry is not entertaining enough for lay readers.” Maybe that applies to F&V? On the other hand, this segmentation concept is what I have already tried to accomplish with the categories (“orchard blocks” listed down the left sidebar), most of which also have their own sudomains, for example:
I am not sure the extent to which visitors use the categories or are even aware of the subdomains, though the latter are a very useful way for me to direct someone (especially my students) to a set of posts/plantings that are on a specific topic, and in a way that is easy to remember. I have created a “mshugart.net” domain, which should be even easier (e.g. japan.mshugart.net), but I have not made it functional yet. Maybe during winter-solstice break.
[This may, or then again may not, be my first article with more text in footnotes than in main text!]
Ballot measures for IRV and STV won in all four jurisdictions in which they were on the ballot in the US midterm elections:
Oakland, California (IRV for all city offices)
Davis, California (STV replaces at-large plurality for city offices*)
Minneapolis, Minnesota (IRV for major offices, STV for some others)
Pierce County, Washington (IRV for nearly all county offices)
All passed quite easily, with the closest being 54% (Pierce County).
The first group of Bnei Menashe, 218 people, has completed aliya, the first since Israel’s Sephardic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar confirmed the group’s halachic status.
Mizoram is one of the easternmost states of India, along the border with Burma. As noted by the JPost:
the Bnei Menashe trace their ancestry back to Menashe, one of the 10 tribes of Israel exiled by the Assyrians some 27 centuries ago.
Despite wandering in exile for so long, they managed to preserve a strong sense of pride and Jewish identity, keeping Shabbat, following the laws of family purity, circumcising newborn males on the eighth day and passing down across the generations a deeply held belief that they would one day go home again to Zion.
There are about 7,000 Bnei Menashe in Mizoram and the neighboring state of Manipur. Haaretz adds:
The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews had wanted to bring the entire group to Israel in a sensational event, but was pressured to cancel the plan by the Foreign Ministry after it became clear the Indian government was not pleased with the idea.
I then checked to see if one of the major papers of India, the Hindustan Times, was covering the story. Not at all. In fact, the only search result on “Bnei Menashe” is one from August, 2005, at the time of the evacuation of Jewish settlements in Gaza. That report noted there were about “146 members of the Bnei Menashe tribe [in Gaza], who immigrated to Israel from Manipur and Mizoram during the past decade.”
Remarkably, the Bnei Menashe still must undergo “conversion” before making aliya in order to be accepted as Jewish by Israel’s keepers of who is and is not a Jew.
So, the LA Times has noticed academic blogs. Tyler Cowen, of Marginal Revolution fame (yes, fame!), even got his photo on the front page of the business section. (And, yes, “slide-rule celebrities” is the Times’ wording, not mine.)
Continuing the theme of the previous planting here…
The LA Times reported yesterday that the Angels were considering trading for Vernon Wells or Andruw Jones before they signed Gary Matthews, Jr., to what has to be one of the worst free-agent contracts in many years. The asking price in the trade talks was too high.
The Times indicated that the Blue Jays are believed to have asked for Scot Shields and Ervin Santana. Too high a price? Yes, I like Santana, though I am a little less high on him than I was before his failure to grow in 2006 on his promising 2005 campaign. I understand the reluctance to trade a young and promising starting pitcher, but the organization is strong in pitching and practically devoid of outfield talent. Scot Shields has emerged as one of the best set-up men in the game, but relief pitchers are replaceable. When the Angels used him for 148.1 innings in 2003, he was really valuable (ERA of 2.85, which is about his career level). But his innings totals have declined every year (105.1, 91.2, 87.2) and he is now going on 32.* His record screams “trade me while they still think I am good!”
I don’t think either of these pitchers is untouchable, if they could be traded for a very good hitting outfielder in his prime. While Gary Matthews, Jr., did not cost any players, he is neither a very good hitter nor in his prime.
However, in comparing his recent stats with those of Wells, I was a little surprised at what I found. Wells is turning 28, and has a career .828 OPS and is a superlative defensive player. In the last three years his OPS is .831 (.338 & .493)–pretty good. However, he has a huge bonus from playing in Toronto: .936 (.364 & .572) at home, against .732 (.314 & .418) on the road.
Matthews over the last three years? OPS of .817 (.349 & .468), with essentially no difference home vs. road. Over the last three years, when we take the Toronto effect out of Wells, Matthews has had better batting stats.**
Jones, on the other hand, is going on 30 and has a career .850 OPS; .884 (.352 & .532) in his last three years. Jones has a very slightly better home than road OBP (.362 vs. .342), compensated by the power being a little better on the road (.551 vs. .511).
Jones, like Matthews, is most likely in decline, while Wells is in his prime. Even so, these statistical comparisons do not make me feel any better about getting Matthews, though they do make me feel a little better about not getting Wells.
With the Angels apparently unwilling to trade a 32-year-old set-up man with declining innings totals or trade from their strength in starting pitching, they are going to be left to over-pay in this year’s free-agent market. And one would be hard pressed–at least so far–to find a better definition of over-paying than five years and fifty million dollars for a 32-year-old outfielder coming off a career year.
* In 2003 Shields made 13 starts and 31 relief appearances; he has not started a game since then. Obviously, this accounts for the big drop in innings from 2003 to 2004. But it has continued to drop even as he has become exclusively a reliever. Whether this is because the Angels don’t think he can handle 100+ innings a year anymore, or is just a mis-use of his “rubber arm,” he is less valuable to the team the less he is pitching, and he is pitching less and less over time.
** How much of that is 2006? A lot. Matthews had OPS of .811, .756, and .866 in the last three years. Even so, his worst year overall of the last three is still better than Wells has been over the full three years on the road. And Matthews abysmal 2005 was mostly a product of collapsing at home (.672!), while he was adequate on the road even that year (.842).
I remember, thirty or so years ago, when, just in time for Thanksgiving, the Angels signed Bobby Grich. Now, that was something for the fan to be thankful for. In 2006, we get “treated” to the signing of a 32-year-old center fielder with a career OBP of under .340, who just came off a by-far career year, which apparently made him “worth” fifty million over five years.
I was going to go on (and on) about what an utterly bad decision this was, but I see 6-4-2 beat me to it. Yeah, what he said.
I wonder when Arte is going to remember that he did not make his fortune in outdoor advertising by employing a staff that put big billboards along backroads.
It keeps the actual party-list PR in a nationwide constituency, but proposes two major changes:
1. The d’Hondt formula should be replaced by the simple quota & largest remainder formula because it is fairer to smaller parties.*
2. Voters should get more power in determining who will be elected from the party lists. Normally the top candidates are elected; lower-ranked candidates can only get elected if they obtain 1/4th of a simple quota (only 10% of MPs get elected this way).
The Citizens Assembly proposes that a voter can vote for the whole list or for one candidate. The seats are distributed “proportionally” between the top of the list and the most vote-getters: if party A gets 20 seats, 40% of A-voters vote for the entire list, and 60% vote for some candidate on the list, then the top 8 are eleted and the 12 other seats go to the 12 candidates with the highest personal score.
That would be an interesting way of attempting to split the difference between open and closed lists. Elsewhere, I have proposed intra-party d’Hondt, allocating seats based on the shares of the votes cast for the list (as a whole) or to specific candidates. Neither intra-party d’Hondt nor this Dutch proposed method has ever been used, to my knowledge. My quick expectation would be that this proposal would allow the election of candidates with smaller personal-vote shares than would intra-party d’Hondt. That may be precisely consistent with the citizens’ goals, but in many other jurisdictions, the intraparty fragmentation promoted by rules in which large numbers of seats are filled by simple rank in preference votes has produced considerable dissatisfaction.
Apparently, the citizens like fragmentation, on both the intraparty and interparty dimension. I have just discussed the intraparty dimension. Regarding the interparty dimension, the decision to change from d’Hondt divisors to simple quota and largest remainders (SQLR) also would favor fragmentation. The proposal favors SQLR because it is “fairer” to small parties–overly so, I would argue. It can allow a party or faction thereof to split off and present its own list, with the result that the separate lists of the formerly unified party can obtain more seats collectively with the same votes than they could have running on one list. For this reason, many countries (including the Netherlands, previously, and Colombia most recently) using PR have abandoned SQLR for d’Hondt. A threshold can help overcome this effect, but the existing Dutch threshold is very low (about 2/3 of 1% of the nationwide vote).
Bancki reports that he can find only a Dutch text of the full proposal. If anyone reading this also reads Dutch, please post in the comments any additional information you can glean from the report.
I wish I could say this was a surprise. After months of claiming otherwise, there is now growing evidence that the IDF General Staff itself selected targets throughout Lebanon to be hit with cluster munitions.
The attempt to fight a war against a popular militia with air power was foolish enough. Using cluster bombs to do so is criminal. There is no other word for it. Cluster munitions are designed for their effectiveness at killing large formations of enemy troops, because each shell contains hundredes of bomblets that disperse in a wide area. Used in towns and cities, they kill civilians. This is the very opposite of the “precision” targeting the Israeli government officials claimed to be using during the summer war in Lebanon. In fact, a reserve officer states that his orders were to “flood” the areas being targeted.
One of the great signs of fall in these parts is the the persimmon trees. Just as their leaves begin to drop, the fruit reaches its peak color as it nears maturity.
Pictured just before sunset on a recent day, this is a row of five different Asian varieties, all with fruit. The one on the left is ‘Maru,’ then ‘Chocolate’ (only one fruit, not visible in the photo), ‘Tamopan,’ and then the two with really heavy crops this year (barely distinguishable in the most distant part of the photo: ‘Matsumoto Wase’ and ‘Coffecake’ (‘Nishimura Wase’). The latter was previously pictured here just over a year ago–actually, in late August: Like almost all of our fruits, the ‘Coffeecake’ is much later this year than usual.
North San Diego County is a major producer of persimmons, and entire groves can be seen with these reddish orange orbs this time of year. Almost all the commercial production is of ‘Jiro’–like ‘Matsumoto Wase,’ a Fuyu type. I find ‘Jiro’ and its close cousin, ‘Imoto,’ rather bland. ‘Matsumoto Wase’ is, in my opinion a superior non-astringent persimmon. The other varieties mentioned above are all astringent,* meaning they need to be rather soft and fully ripe before they are edible, whereas the non-astringent types are best when they are still a bit firm and even crunchy.
The most famous astringent Asian persimmon is the ‘Hachiya,’ which has to be almost slimy-soft before it can be eaten. They are very much an acquired tast–or, rather, an acquired texture. I like them, and we have one of these trees, too. Many people, however, think they do not like persimmons because all they know is ‘Hachiya.’ (Frankly, I will take a ‘Hachiya’ or another astringent variety, if fully ripe, over a Fuyu type any day, if I had to choose. Fortunately, I don’t have to choose.)
There are also American persimmons, native to eastern North America. I am not aware of these being grown here, and I have never tried one.
* I was just looking back at the catalogue descriptions (which are interesting for their own sake) that are quoted in my previous planting, linked above. The ‘Coffeecake’ is supposedly non-astringent. Not in my experience!!
One of the best of all fruits is the cherimoya. Relatively little known in the USA, it is a super-sweet custardy fruit that originates in high Andean valleys. It just so happens that the coastal belt, slightly inland, extending from Santa Barbara to north San Diego County has a climate that is nearly identical in terms of temperature swings and humidity to the tropical, but high-elevation, homeland of these fruits. Good news for us–they grow great here!
The photo below shows a very large fruit on our tree of the ‘Helmuts’ variety (one that I have never tasted). There is a much smaller fruit just up the branch.
One of the other trees offers a far less pleasant sight. This tree–a seedling, that is, not a named variety–is laden with fruit, but the fruit has gotten covered with mealybug (or some similar pest).
It will take some spraying of water to dislodge the pests and then a wrapping of the trunk with tanglefoot (a sticky substance applied to a band of tape around the trunk) to keep the ants out. As with many sucking insects in fruit trees, ants maintain colonies of these insects in trees to provide honeydew for their own consumption. These pests can scar fruit, but if removed, the fruit itself usually turns out OK. That is, not saleable, but edible.
If by my laws you walk, and my commands you keep, and observe them,
then I will give-forth your rains in their set-time,
so that the earth gives-forth its yield
and the trees of the field give-forth their fruit.
--Vayikra 26: 3-4