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Friday, November 10, 2006

Good For Dems, Good For Iran

Reuters reports:

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Friday called U.S. President George W. Bush's defeat in congressional elections a victory for Iran.

I guess I wasn't the only one who concluded that.

Mike Responds

Pray tell me, liberal friend, how will government "work" better under Democratic control?

I really need to have specifics from you on this one as my premise is that the level of government spending has no relation to the general welfare. The recent Republicans have managed to create even MORE government in these United States and it ain't "working".

Will there be some change in mechanism that suddenly makes large government expenditures beneficial to the economy and the people overall? Is there some sort of magic pixie dust that Democrats possess that makes their version of government "work"?

What I "get" is that after 50 years of Great Society spending... the proportion of people living below the poverty line hasn't changed one iota. In 1968 the official poverty level was 12.8%... in 2005 it was 12.6%. I expect a lot more for my trillions of tax dollars, don't you?

I find this to be prima facie evidence that government doesn't "work" for below average Americans. Perhaps you, my liberal friend, have a different idea of how government works. My surmise, however, is that higher government spending levels makes you feel as if something good is happening.

I am sorry, but when it comes to taking trillions of dollars from working families I need something more tangible than a feeling that government "works". The facts surrounding what government can and can't do are pretty clear to anyone willing to put aside their feelings and look at evidence. There is little that the Federal government can do efficiently, and bureaucrats prove it everyday.

As for Social Security: there is nothing that is going to make 2+2 equal 5... no matter if Franklin Delano Roosevelt himself told us that during a fireside chat. We are kidding ourselves that SS will not run out of money under the present scheme. The program was designed from the get-go as a "take from the current taxpayer and give to the elderly" and when it turns out that the elderly outnumber the taxpayers.. the system will go bust.

It will take a crisis for Congress to act, and that crisis is coming... just about the time I am set to retire. GWB was right, it's easier to fix now than later. But who in Washington will sacrifice
his/her popularity among senior voters in order to preserve future seniors? No one.

Just because a solution is politically unpopular doesn't make the problem go away.

While I am looking at history, I would remind our liberal friend that the majority party's losses on Tuesday are not far from the norm for 6th year losses for the party holding the White House. That has happened to White House occupants from either party. I believe that the Democrats were born Monday on third base... and on Wednesday they're congratulating themselves for hitting a home run. I say again, let the dog have its day.

As I made clear in my post, if we had lost 14 House seats and 5 Senate seats REPUBLICANS would be crowing... with as little reason as the Democrats are doing today. Politicians on both sides of the aisle celebrate victories and ascribe to themselves mandates they didn't earn.

The proof is in how you execute once you've won... by 500 votes in Florida or by 3,000 votes in Montana and Virginia.

However, perhaps our liberal friend is concerned that I am "name calling" with my dog and queen references. I infer this from the "polarization" reference. If you think that Republicans are polarized, I would refer you to Democrat comments from any time in their history.

(My over-riding theory about how Democrats operate remains the same. Their policies are not successful and what makes them successful is their talent for calling the opposition evil...and driving that feeling home early and repeatedly. It works for them.)

I would point out that no President since Lincoln has been called more vile names than the current President. "Incompetent", "loser", "racist" are just a few of the epithets hurled at a sitting President by Speaker Pelosi (D) and Leader Reid (D). My light joking about San Francisco queens and dogs having their day is extraordinarily mild in comparison to what Democrats have called GWB, Cheney and our uniformed troops.

To Dick Durbin (D), our troops guarding terrorists are akin to "Nazis.. Pol Pot...the Soviet gulag...". If anyone needs an historical reference, those were regimes that committed mass murder on a scale that is unimaginable to civilized societies. Where were these outlandish statements made? Not on the campaign hustings but the floor of the US Senate, that famous "cooling saucer" where calmer heads are said to prevail. And where was this speech reported and analyzed in the famous NY Times? Answer: nowhere... it didn't rate even a single line of type in that paper.

In contrast...how many of us knew what "macaca" meant before the press educated us? That obscure word generated close to a dozen front page headlines in the Washington Post. I wonder what dictionary they had to consult to define this single word uttered by a Republican. I doubt that ANYONE in the room, including George Allen (R) knew it was an insult. But according to the Washington Post, it was proof that a Republican is just another name for a throwback racist slaveowner.

And whether John Kerry (D) meant it or not, he insulted the troops. He compounded the problem by assuming a "I will not be Swift-boated" stance the next day because someone told him he needed to be tough. What he needed to do was be less insulting... to troops or the President.

So long, Johnny. We really have come to know ye, that's why your quest for the Presidency is now irretrievably lost.

I invite comments from our liberal friend. I would especially invite the introduction of even more facts that contrast or compare to the arguments I put forth.

If it were a fact that liberal policies "work" I'd be a liberal. But as it stands the facts are on the side of the free market and conservative policies. What started out with Ronald Reagan so many years ago as one thing has been perverted into another thing that conservatives won't support in elections.

I truly believe Reagan's statement on his inauguration:

"In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem. From time to time we've been tempted to believe that society has become too complex to be managed by self-rule, that government by an elite group is superior to government for, by, and of the people. Well, if no one among us is capable of governing himself, then who among us has the capacity to govern someone else? All of us together, in and out of government, must bear the burden. The solutions we seek must be equitable, with no one group singled out to pay a higher price."

These words remain true today.

I will also quote from John Adams, a favorite of Think Tanker Skip March. Let it be the basis for our discussions among liberals and conservatives:

"Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of the facts and evidence".

I look forward to the debate. It's what has made this country great, the competition of ideas.

-- MTT

Save The Haloes For Angels

Conversation with a liberal:


Neal, does your friend MTT on ettu still not get it? People want a govt that works - not this "queen of SF" and "let the dog have its day" stuff. That polarization was a reason why the election was lost in the first place. Sure looked like people voted centrist, ie Casey over Santorum, a two term incumbent.

Neal -
I think it is primarily the Abramoff thing coupled with the hypocrisy of claiming to be for small govt and spending like drunken sailors. When a majority of Americans poll that they are for smaller govt, they will not reward big spenders. Good to clean them out. If Dems go there, no luck in 2008.

Smaller govt yes, but people still want SS i.e. No congressman would touch the "reform" issue after Bush's road show on the personal/private account dialogue. People know the deficit spending that's gone on really jeopardizes the program viability. Reality is SS may be tempered, but will never truly go away. Just not enough votes out there. Tell MTT he needs to compromise a tad bit!

Economic literates should be aware of the basic failing of the program. But maybe it continues due to an over-riding belief in the benificence of government---at least your party's.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

More From Mike

Neal and I certainly did get it wrong.

Bill Kristol had it right. (Damn him!) He predicted a loss of "between 20-30 seats".

Was it a landslide? No. But as someone pointed out yesterday, if the Dems had won only 14 House seats and 5 Senatorial seats then we Republicans would have declared those losses a victory. Let the dog have its day.

Democrats will naturally declare a mandate, Nancy Pelosi will be queen for a day (boy, that sure means something different in San Francisco!) and there is no doubt in my mind that Howard Dean thinks himself an even bigger genius this morning.

But, my friends, there is a silver lining among our clouds today:

A Republican administration and a Democrat Legislature means a bigger chance of gridlock. That means less government spending for all of us... a good thing.

Maybe this will serve as a wake-up call to the Republicans. The bastards have been thrown out. In the 12 years as the majority, the Republicans became more and more like the Democrats we all loathe.

The Republican strategy was to consolidate their hold on power when it should have been their strategy to re-shape government in a conservative image. The only palpable difference between big-spending Democrats and big-spending Republicans was support for the War on Terror. With the help of the MSM, the war issue has divided us.

The Bush Administration has had three glaring weaknesses that lead to yesterday's losses:

A seeming inability to articulate what has gone right... the overthrow of Afghanistan, the overthrow of Saddam, the economy, homeland security and re-shaping the Judiciary have all been outrageous success stories. It seems that President Bush needed to be jabbed with a high-voltage cattle prod before he would talk about these issues.

The lack of a veto on profligate spending bills. Immediately after taking the oath of office, Ronald Reagan went into the White House and signed a memorandum freezing the hiring of Federal Employees. He was that SERIOUS about controlling the Federal budget. Would that today's Republicans reflected that kind of commitment to changing the way Washington works. Instead, Republicans tried to buy voters' support... just like Democrats.

That whole "new tone" thing. It sounded nice, but it should have been completely abandoned at the first instance of Democrat defection. When you are the majority, ACT like the majority! Dictate terms and if the opposition howls, hit 'em harder! You don't think that's what the Democrats have in mind this morning?

Maybe being relegated to the minority will wake up the Republican party. I know that Charlie Rangel and Alcee Hastings are motivation for me to work harder for the next election.

You win some elections, you lose some elections. Let's not commit mass seppuku. The country survived Bill Clinton, it will survive Nancy Pelosi.

I will be out in San Francisco next week. I'll report from behind enemy lines.

-- MTT

The Break That Refreshens

Just when you start feeling depressed over the end of a vacation that ends with your party’s trouncing in an election, we see something that places priorities in a proper perspective.

Every morning, I wake the kids up, make them breakfast, get them dressed, make their lunches, ensure their backpacks are properly packed, get them washed and dressed and wait with them at the bus stop. Any votes for Father of the Year?

So as I am thinking about what the Dem ascendancy means to our republic, and feeling a little low about it, I see what the kids are doing at the kitchen table. I fed them each a hearty and healthy breakfast of a half of a chocolate chip muffin (call DIFUS after reading the whole post, please). I see my 9-year old daughter is pulling out the chocolate chips and placing them in a pile on the side of her plate. Then she eats the muffin part, saving the chips for last. I then looked over at my 6-year old son and he is mining the chocolate chips as well. His older sister taught him that one, of course.

It’s these little things that show us why we had children. To distract us from “saving the world”.

The Election's Meaning and Cause

While the election is being called "a rejection of Bush", too many Democrat winners ran and won on conservative to moderate platforms (see Shuler). As Larry Kudlow has surmised, this means that the "boll weevil" Dems will likely disallow many of the excessive policies if the Pelosi libs. The Pelosis may want tax hikes. Let's see.

In this era of terrorists plotting almost anything anywhere, a new approach that is less than diligent, means peril to our citizens. The next 2 years may provide the American public a nice test of what the new party in power in the Capitol spells if given the White House in 2008.

Hugh Hewitt's recap of why the Republican lost deserves requote:

The long and short of this bad but not horrific night was that majorities must act like majorities. The public cares little for the "traditions" of the Senate or the way the appropriations process used to work. It demands results. Handed a large majority, the GOP frittered it away. The chief fritterer was Senator McCain and his Gang of 14...

Mike Taylor and I were both very wrong. So be it.

Mike Taylor adds:

We worked the phones for Shays a few days and voted for Lieberman.

What happened to the rest of you?

-- MTT

Monday, November 06, 2006

Pay no attention to that poll behind the curtain!

Mike Taylor provides this election coverage:

This morning's news about the "generic poll" may give heart to those of us who favor conservative candidates. Today's headline from USA Today is:

You know that "generic" question that news analysts constantly refer to, it goes something like this: "If the elections for Congress were being held today, which party's candidate would you vote for in your Congressional district?"

Smart voters, such as yourself, realize that this poll question is meaningless and generally unpredictive of actual election results. (See, I respect your intelligence, whether you're in the military or not, unlike some Massachusetts Democrats I could name!)

Why is the predictive value of this question so poor and why report it at all? I don't know the answer to the second part of the question. But there is one important reason why this generic question is unpredictive: sample stratification.

There are 435 separate House races in the United States. Each one of those districts is holding a unique and mutually exclusive House election. If you live in Connecticut's 4th District, as I do, you can't vote in Missouri's 4th District nor in California's 28th. I can only vote it one house race, I can not vote in all of them. (Insert Democratic voting irregularities joke here..)

That means that each race is highly, exclusively STRATIFIED. Let's look at a simple example of stratification:

District A: 9 of 10 voters will vote for the Democrat.

District B: 6 of 10 voters will vote Republican.

District C: 6 of 10 voters will vote Republican.

TOTAL SEATS WON: 2 Republican, 1 Democrat
VOTE COUNT: 30 Total: 17 Democrat, 13 Republican

That means that there will be a majority of Republicans elected in these three races... but generically, Democrats "win" by capturing 17 of the total 30 votes (57% of total votes cast). How meaningful is that "win" to Democrats? I guess it might make their egos feel a littel less battered come Wednesday.

All this is simple statistics, yes? Because you're a very smart voter I can anticipate your follow-up question: Why don't pollsters know this and adjust their polling techniques?

The simple answer is: to correctly collect a stratified sample among 435 Districts would cost time and money. A LOT of time and money.

By now, you've all seem sample summary statistics and have probably noticed that most polls are conducted among 400 respondents or so. (I say again, you noticed because you're a smart person! Good looking, too.) A sample of 400 voters will yield a very low "expected error rate".

Generally, in the survey business a sample of 125 is considered to be fairly predictive, stable... and cheap. A sample of 400 approaches the point of diminishing returns, collecting more than 400 responses does not significantly reduce the expected error rate, but it does cost money to keep collecting responses!

If you read the sample statistics for this generic poll (Gallup) you will find:
Poll results are based on telephone interviews with 1,516 National Adults, aged 18+, conducted November 2-5, 2006.
A sample of 1,500 adults seems very large in comparison to 125... and even robust when compared to the average poll sample of 400. But since those 1,500 respondents are divided among approximately 435 House races, that makes each individual District sample about 3.5 responses per District! That is, if the sample is sufficiently stratified.
How does that sample size of 1,500 look now?
If you wanted to conduct a relatively stable generic poll taking into account all 435 House Districts you would need 125 responses X 435 Districts or 54,375 responses... that's Fifty-Four Thousand responses.
You can see how the money needed to conduct a good generic poll in an off-year election becomes an important factor.
So, although the generic poll trend looks better for Republicans this morning, it is all going to come down to individual races.

My prediction: I am with Hugh Hewitt (http://hughhewitt.townhall.com/) and I predict that Republicans will hold both the House and Senate come Wednesday morning.
I can't wait for the Main Stream Media meltdown that will follow.

-- Michael Taylor

Excellent job, Mike. This, loyal readers, is from someone who actually knows about polls from a professional point of view.

I might add:

We will find out tomorrow from what I like to call an "actual election" with voters cast by "actual Republicans'. That may skew some of the results a little.

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