Obama Might Lose (And He Might Win)

Obama Might Lose (And He Might Win)

Today it's apparently big news that many Democrats now fear that the president won't get reelected.


I'm staying with my prediction based on common-sense political science that the election will be close. So the Democrats (and Republicans) should be full of fear, but not despair.  Luckily, it's that exact mood, the philosopher Hobbes tell us, that makes us most effective in inventing change and mobilizing power, money, and people.

2008 represented the extreme of the president's electoral popularity.  People really bought that charismatic hope and change stuff,  that Obama's excellent speechifying and campaigning would translate into highly competent, transformational governing. Obama way, way outspent McCain, and McCain's campaign was flat, confused, and generally incompetent.  Not only that, people were ticked off at the Republicans'—and especially President Bush's—record of serial screw-ups.  

2010 represented the extreme of the Republicans' electoral popularity these days—what with the Tea Party enthusiasm and a high level of indignation directed against ObamaCare. 

The Democrats are concerned—and even crying foul—because they won't be able to outspend Romney and his allies.  They're whining that money buys elections, forgetting that it contributed big-time, at least, to their victory in 2008.  The truth is that the two candidates will be pretty equal when it comes to funding.  They'll both be able to spend A LOT, just about as much as they want.

Democrats are also concerned because the damage done to Romney by the primary in-fighting has largely worn off.  (It almost always does.)  And they've figured out that Romney has much more self-discipline and (despite his lack of military service and his religious devotion) a much more animated killer instinct that McCain.

Another sign of Obama's weakness is that about nobody is saying that he should campaign on his record of success.

The economy, Democrats admit, remains in bad shape.  And people are pretty anxious about their precarious situations and the 40% or so of their personal and family wealth that's disappeared over the last five years or so.

So, as the article says, the advice being given the president is to make real clear that our economic woes remain the Republicans' fault.  

Students of The Federalist know that one reason our Framers created a UNITARY executive is to focus responsibility on the president.  Because he's bound to be held responsible, he's incentivized to take responsibility.  He knows his chances for reelection will largely depend on answers to the searching personal question:  "Are you better off than you were four years ago?"

Hoover, after all, could say with great plausibility that the Depression wasn't his fault, and he was doing everything he could to bring it to an end.  The voters in 1932 didn't really care whether or not it was his fault.  It happened on his watch, and there was little evidence anyone could feel that things were getting turned around.

It's interesting, as I've said before, that the president and his supporters aren't even trumpeting their responsibility for the beneficial changes they really believe ObamaCare will bring us.

Why does Obama even have a chance—a good chance—of getting reelected?

He remains personally somewhat popular. People still want him to do well. Romney doesn't inspire love and so far only so much confidence, and his record of getting real, real rich at Bain is viewed with suspicion and incomprehension by most Americans.  And our country, after all, is pretty evenly divided on the issues that really do divide our two parties.  We can't tell how the Mormon thing will play out yet.

I've said before that we're lucky to have two decent guys with wonderful families running. They both speak well and are very smart.

But at this point:  Most Americans aren't thrilled with having either of them as president.  That might be the main reason the outcome of the election is so difficult to handicap.

All we can say is that the polls show a tie, and that the battleground states really are battlegrounds.

Massive 'Darth Vader' isopod found lurking in the Indian Ocean

The father of all giant sea bugs was recently discovered off the coast of Java.

A close up of Bathynomus raksasa

SJADE 2018
Surprising Science
  • A new species of isopod with a resemblance to a certain Sith lord was just discovered.
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Volcanoes to power bitcoin mining in El Salvador

The first nation to make bitcoin legal tender will use geothermal energy to mine it.

Credit: Aaron Thomas via Unsplash
Technology & Innovation

This article was originally published on our sister site, Freethink.

In June 2021, El Salvador became the first nation in the world to make bitcoin legal tender. Soon after, President Nayib Bukele instructed a state-owned power company to provide bitcoin mining facilities with cheap, clean energy — harnessed from the country's volcanoes.

The challenge: Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency, a digital form of money and a payment system. Crypto has several advantages over physical dollars and cents — it's incredibly difficult to counterfeit, and transactions are more secure — but it also has a major downside.

Crypto transactions are recorded and new coins are added into circulation through a process called mining.

Crypto mining involves computers solving incredibly difficult mathematical puzzles. It is also incredibly energy-intensive — Cambridge University researchers estimate that bitcoin mining alone consumes more electricity every year than Argentina.

Most of that electricity is generated by carbon-emitting fossil fuels. As it stands, bitcoin mining produces an estimated 36.95 megatons of CO2 annually.

A world first: On June 9, El Salvador became the first nation to make bitcoin legal tender, meaning businesses have to accept it as payment and citizens can use it to pay taxes.

Less than a day later, Bukele tweeted that he'd instructed a state-owned geothermal electric company to put together a plan to provide bitcoin mining facilities with "very cheap, 100% clean, 100% renewable, 0 emissions energy."

Geothermal electricity is produced by capturing heat from the Earth itself. In El Salvador, that heat comes from volcanoes, and an estimated two-thirds of their energy potential is currently untapped.

Why it matters: El Salvador's decision to make bitcoin legal tender could be a win for both the crypto and the nation itself.

"(W)hat it does for bitcoin is further legitimizes its status as a potential reserve asset for sovereign and super sovereign entities," Greg King, CEO of crypto asset management firm Osprey Funds, told CBS News of the legislation.

Meanwhile, El Salvador is one of the poorest nations in North America, and bitcoin miners — the people who own and operate the computers doing the mining — receive bitcoins as a reward for their efforts.

"This is going to evolve fast!"
NAYIB BUKELE

If El Salvador begins operating bitcoin mining facilities powered by clean, cheap geothermal energy, it could become a global hub for mining — and receive a much-needed economic boost in the process.

The next steps: It remains to be seen whether Salvadorans will fully embrace bitcoin — which is notoriously volatile — or continue business-as-usual with the nation's other legal tender, the U.S. dollar.

Only time will tell if Bukele's plan for volcano-powered bitcoin mining facilities comes to fruition, too — but based on the speed of things so far, we won't have to wait long to find out.

Less than three hours after tweeting about the idea, Bukele followed up with another tweet claiming that the nation's geothermal energy company had already dug a new well and was designing a "mining hub" around it.

"This is going to evolve fast!" the president promised.

How Pfizer and BioNTech made history with their vaccine

How were mRNA vaccines developed? Pfizer's Dr Bill Gruber explains the science behind this record-breaking achievement and how it was developed without compromising safety.

How Pfizer and BioNTech made history with their vaccine
Sponsored by Pfizer
  • Wondering how Pfizer and partner BioNTech developed a COVID-19 vaccine in record time without compromising safety? Dr Bill Gruber, SVP of Pfizer Vaccine Clinical Research and Development, explains the process from start to finish.
  • "I told my team, at first we were inspired by hope and now we're inspired by reality," Dr Gruber said. "If you bring critical science together, talented team members together, government, academia, industry, public health officials—you can achieve what was previously the unachievable."
  • The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine has not been approved or licensed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), but has been authorized for emergency use by FDA under an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to prevent COVID-19 for use in individuals 12 years of age and older. The emergency use of this product is only authorized for the duration of the emergency declaration unless ended sooner. See Fact Sheet: cvdvaccine-us.com/recipients.

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