A university is just a group of buildings gathered around a library. ~Shelby Foote

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

My head just might explode!

Aye! Carumba! I turn on the News at 9 and here the following things in rapid succession:

First off, the (supposed) skew in that poll is not 7%. First, you remove the 5% of other (which is usually an unintelligible or unreadable response) leaving 95%. Now you can approach the reaminder two ways: split it three ways (which is what you seem to be suggesting, since your complaint seems to be based around the poll showing fewer Republicans than Democrats). So each of the Repubs, Democrats, and INdependents should be 31.67%. Thus At 35% and 25%, the sampling would be 3.33 % off, which is less than half of what you were claiming, and approximately the MOE of the poll.

Which doesn't make much sense to me, since I see no reason to expect 31.67% democrat, 31.67% republican and 31.67% independent. Independents are irrelevant-- the point is that given studies like this and the obvious trend in the last decade to elect more republicans, I see no reason to think that the % of self-identified democrats or republicans shouldn't be equivalent or nearly so, not seperated by 7 percentage points in favor of democrats. Indeed, if you factor out the Others and Independents, the skew is even more striking. Let's dump the 50 Others from our pool of 1007 and the 32% of Independents from our pool, leaving 635 individuals that identify themselves as one party or the other and might reasonably be expected to answer most of the poll questions along party lines. Of the remaining pool--635 remember-- 352, or 55.4%, of respondents identified themselves as democrats, compared to 283, or 46.6%, identifying themselves as republican. A skew of 8.8 and well beyond the MOE of the study. Ain't statistics grand?

And yes, I know the questions I proposed were biased-- my point was that the question that actually WAS asked has an inherent bias against republicans rather than being value neutral. By way of comparison, I offered alternatives that were clearly biased against democrats. And not having the word filibuster is also prejudicial as that is the term the argument has been framed with in nearly every piece I've read on the dispute-- that's what people associate with the argument, should we or shouldn't we get rid of the filibuster. Leaving it out, takes the whole thing out of context and leaves people with some sort of theoretical "should we change the rules" question rather than asking the actual question they want studied.

Finally, while filibusters have been in use for nearly 200 years, they have never before been used to stop up and down votes on sub-Supreme Court nominees, and only once for a Supreme Court nominee. And changing the rules on cloture is certainly no new addition to senatorial conduct, either, no matter how many times the democrats call it the nuclear option. But whether the democrats are justified in their use of the filibuster (I don't believe they are-- if the nomination makes it out of committee, the nominee should be, and always has been, allowed an up or down vote) was not the point. The point was that the question was misleading, but touted as significant despite this, by the Washington Post and ABC News.

Ackphblllt! Sorry, hairball. Too much nashing of teeth, I think, and holding my brains inside of my ears probably didn't help. All right, I'm off to sleep. Could be light blogging over the next few days. On the plus side for some, I hope to use the time to do some writing.


Independents are irrelevant Nick?

removing them from the equation would be like if I objected to the last election by saying that if you removed the Republicans from the equation, Kerry won.

You start by saying the numbers of republicans are underrepresented, then remove independents altogether to exaggerate the differences that you claim are because of bias.

the object of a sample is to SAMPLE, Nick, not to pick and choose. If the results don't agree with your preconceptions of what you think it should come out, you have to take it up with reality, not me.

I stand by my math.
Hey Nick! Please forgive me for using this blog to get your attention: if you ever answered email, I wouldn't have to be so brassy!

There's only a couple of slots left in the JJ Ace Bait, Story, and Taxidermy Emporium. If you want to know more, or perhaps actually cut some bait yourself, please get hold of me at Pretty Lights as soon as possible.

The above will tell you all you need to know about judicial filibusters.

From the article:

Sen. Barbara Boxer is a longtime opponent of judicial nomination filibusters. Or she was. Suddenly the light has dawned, and she realizes how wrong she was to oppose them: "I thought I knew everything. I didn't get it. . . . I am here to say I was totally wrong."

Other Democratic senators have had similar changes in belief: Joe Biden and Robert Byrd, Tom Harkin, Ted Kennedy, Joe Lieberman, Pat Leahy, Chuck Schumer and their erstwhile colleagues Lloyd Bentsen, and Tom Daschle have all vigorously opposed the use of the filibuster against judicial nominations. Mr. Schumer was for voting judicial nominations "up or down" without delay. Mr. Leahy flatly opposed a filibuster against Clarence Thomas's Supreme Court nomination: "The president and the nominee and all Americans deserve an up-or-down vote." Mr. Harkin believed "the filibuster rules are unconstitutional," Mr. Daschle declared that "democracy means majority rule, not minority gridlock," and Mr. Kennedy that "senators who believe in fairness will not let the minority of the Senate deny [the nominee] his vote by the entire Senate."

But that was then, when Democrats controlled the Senate. Now, they are a frustrated minority and it is different. Mr. Leahy has voted against cloture to end filibusters 21 out of 26 times; Mr. Kennedy, 18 out of 23. Now all these Senators practice and defend the use of filibusters against judicial nominees.

It wasn't me who coined the term "situational ethics" on this blog, but that term sure describes the democrats.
I'd just like to respond the Social Security part of your ramblings. You lamented the death of 'private accounts' and said it will probably lead to higher taxes. I have only one question about private accounts: "Where does the money come from?" Last time I checked Social Security isn't running a surplus; every dime that you and I pay in gets paid out to someone receiving benefits. Therefore, if we are going to start putting a percentage into private accounts, where does that money come from? Are we going to pay more in so that we can put the 'extra' into the accounts? (Unlikely that anyone would want that. I'd rather just keep putting it into my 401k. And we know that a tax hike would be remembered next election.) Are we going to cut benefits to people currently receiving Social Security? (Really unlikely since Seniors would make sure that no one got re-elected if that were done.) That just leaves one solution, we borrow the money. So we borrow money, but when ad how does that money get paid back? I'd assume that it would be higher taxes, just not higher taxes now.
I am not against the idea of private accounts, although I worry about who would really benefit from them. But just tell me where the money comes from so I can make a real decision.
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