By the numbers

It’s all about the numbers today. Looking for a good sequence of quick picks? Maybe this will be your lucky day. Here are some numbers that stood out to me today.

This week, a 3-mile stretch of the Parkway West, entering the Ft. Pitt Tunnel, was named the 9th most congested stretch of traffic in the nation. Never fear however. All eight above us are in LA and New York. So outside of NY and LA, we’re #1! Woo-hoo!

Suck it, Philly!

Last month’s announcement by President Obama in support of gay marriage was called courageous because it was seen as a move that could turn off black voters. In March, polling showed that a gay rights bill on the ballot this fall in Maryland had only 39 percent support amongst black voters. This week, the same poll revealed that 55 percent of black voters approved of the bill, with only 36 percent in opposition. That is a 36-point swing in two months. Nothing moves 36 points in two months in American politics. Nothing. The same kind of shift was identified in North Carolina, where black support of gay marriage is up 12 percent since the state changed their constitution banning it. Could it be that America is just waiting for President Obama to provide some leadership on the issue? Was his endorsement that much of a game-changer? No other issue has changed as quickly in this country as the issue of gay marriage.

Pirates’ fans love to bemoan their teams low payroll and the inequality of money in baseball. Interestingly, as of tonight, with more than 1/4 of the season in the books, of the top 5 payrolls in baseball this year, 4 are at .500 or below and 3 are in last place in their division.

Of course, big money teams can always spend money mid-season to fix what ails them, but still… $150 million won’t necessarily buy you what you think it would.

Over thirty states have or will be considering legislation that would require voters to present government-issued photo ID in order to vote. Most all of these efforts are GOP-led and are said to be necessary to prevent voter fraud. Problem is, voter fraud has not really been a big problem in this country. Rolling Stone recently reported that: “A major probe by the Justice Department between 2002 and 2007 failed to prosecute a single person for going to the polls and impersonating an eligible voter, which the anti-fraud laws are supposedly designed to stop. Out of the 300 million votes cast in that period, federal prosecutors convicted only 86 people for voter fraud – and many of the cases involved immigrants and former felons who were simply unaware of their ineligibility.” 86 people. 86 votes. Out of 300 million. Over 5 years. That’s really going to swing the election.

And for this, studies suggest that up to 11 percent of American citizens lack the proper government-issued ID, and would be required to navigate the administrative burdens to obtain it or forego the right to vote entirely. Of course, this will most significantly affect the elderly, the poor, immigrants, and college students. For instance, in Texas, you can register to vote with a handgun permit, but not a college ID. Most states now require a valid driver’s license, will accept an NRA ID as well as a hunting license, but refuse to accept a valid student ID for voting purposes. Thousands of students across the country will be denied absentee ballots as well. Why? Because it is obvious that a majority of students support President Obama. You know, I thought it was Stalin and Hitler who won elections and support by eliminating the opposition. Guess somebody has been studying history. What does it say about your party that your best chance to win is with fewer people voting?

This must be keeping NBA commissioner David Stern up at night. You know how all the big-time free agents want to go to the bright lights of the big-market teams to maximize their earning power? Problem is, that doesn’t always equal wins. Of the four teams left in the NBA playoffs, 3 of them represent the 28th (San Antonio), 40th (Indianapolis), and 50th (Oklahoma City) media markets in the country. If you were wondering, Pittsburgh is 25th. (All according to Arbitron.) You know he’s doing all he can to pray that Miami (12th) makes it to the finals. Otherwise, it could be a ratings disaster for the NBA. You can throw out the record books when Oklahoma City and Indianapolis get together!

(UPDATE: Miami won tonight. Stern will get his big market team in the East. He’s still screwed in the West. Plus, NBA is the only league without parody. While the NFL and MLB and NHL only have a handful of teams that have never won it all, half of NBA teams have never won a championship. This is a league that is comfortable with a small group of elite front-runners. Go home and get your shine box, Indy. You’re not ever winning anything in this league!)

As in 1 transformative moment. I love the picture floating around this week. It was take two years ago when a State Department employee brought his or her children to meet the President. They were each allowed one question. This little boy’s question had to do with the President’s hair. He wanted to know if the President’s hair was just like his. I guess his little brain just couldn’t believe the fact that someone with hair like his was actually the President of the United States. President Obama allowed him to see for himself. If this isn’t the iconic photo of Obama’s presidency, I don’t know what is.

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About carpetbagger

Tom and Jean are just a couple of Chicago transplants in Lawrenceville, a neighborhood of Pittsburgh.

Posted on May 24, 2012, in Pittsburgh, Politics, Sports and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Gay Marriage: There has been considerable time and effort given to coaxing more same-sex marriage support from the black churches. In fact, it was key to getting the law passed in Maryland when a couple of black pastors spoke in support, to the General Assembly. Also, the NAACP has publicly come out (so to speak) in favor.

    Voter Fraud: The Republicans have to do SOMETHING to address the fact that they mainly represent 1% of the people, so this is one more weapon in the arsenal. It’s not even cynical to suggest that their anti-voter fraud legislation is about vote suppression, it’s stone cold fact. Those numbers (which have been around for some time) prove it. No rational person could conclude that ID-related voter fraud is a more serious concern than putting up barriers around the Constitution-given right to vote.

    Lastly: Love that picture.

    • Yeah, I’m not saying it was all Obama, but the NAACP had plenty of time to give their support but they waited until after the President. My only criticism is that they all waited until AFTER the North Carolina vote to lead on the issue.

      Won’t be surprised to see some kind of “only rich people can vote” bill at some point. Maybe they’ll go all colonial and make land ownership a prerequisite for voting. I think their goal is for all voting to be done in board rooms. :^)

  2. I love kids points of view. He has no idea now, but what he asked is amazing

  3. number 86 leading into 11 devastates me.
    I helped register voters for the last presidential election and it was a nightmare – I can’t believe it’s going to change.
    pittsburgh 25th? why am i always surprised to not be better than great?
    thank goodness you ended with all the warm fuzzies of #1

    i loved this post

  4. I was surprised to read/hear that it was the Parkway West, not the East, that was the ninth-most congested. How could the latter not be ranked above that?!

    Great post, by the way. I love stats and numbers. :-)

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