Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

Waldmann’s predictions for the US Senate

Lifting some more from Angry Bear Robert Waldmann’s more personal musings at Stochastic thoughts:

Friday, November 02, 2012
I know I will regret this. I’m not drunk enough to do this yet (8:54 PM)
Now I am (9:30 PM)

If not specified I predict that the same caucus will keep the Senate seat (so for Connecticut the Democratic Caucus not the Connecticut for Lieberman party)

Senate

Maine…             King (I) who will caucus with Democrats
Massachusetts…Warren (D)
Virginia…           Kaine (D)
Florida …………..Nelson (D)
Indiana …………..Donnelly (D)
Missouri………… McCaskill (D)
Wisconsin ………Baldwin (D)
Nebraska ……….Fischer (R)
N Dakota ……….Berg (R)
Montana …………Rehberg (R)
Arizona ………….Carmona (D)
Nevada …………..Heller (R)

Mostly I just predict the candidate who is ahead in the average poll will win. For 6 races this margin is tiny and I think:

Virginia: Some averages show this closer than close. An important reason is a Roanoke College poll which shows Allen (R) up by 5. Roanoke doesn’t poll outside of Virginia and doesn’t have much of a track record. Their numbers bounce around a lot. I guess that they don’t do much demographic weighting so the sampling error is equal to the stated sampling error (most pollsters weight to make their sample of adults match census data on some dimensions reducing sampling error then ignore this when making cautious estimates of standard errors). So I weight them less nudging Kaine into a lead.

In Wisconsin again the averages are very close with Baldwin very slightly ahead. There are some pollsters which I suspect of overestimating Republican vote (Wenzel Strategies and Rasmussen). This is enough to make me guess that she will slightly outperform the average poll which implies Senator Baldwin.

N Dakota is very close. Without looking at polls I would guess a Republican is more likely to win. The basically tied polling doesn’t move my posterior appreciably from this prior.

Montana is very close. In spite of my gross error in 2004, I still have some sense that undecideds break against the incumbent (Tester (D)). Also many polls name the libertarian. I think slightly more people say they will vote for a no hope of winning third party candidate than actually throw their votes away and I assume that their second choice is Rehberg.

Carmona is slightly behind in Arizona. I am counting on Hispanic citizens who are even more reluctant to talk to pollsters in English than to vote.

Nevada is close too, but not close enough for me to bet on the hard to poll Hispanics effect and the strength of trade unions and Democratic turn out the vote efforts.

New Senate guess is same as the old Senate with 51 Democrats 2 independents and 47 Republicans.

Update: ooops that’s embarrassing. New Senate guess Democrats gain one with 52 Democrats 2 independents and 46 Republicans. I see I agree with Nate Silver except on Indiana and Arizona. I am quite confident about Indiana. Silver’s model doesn’t consider whether there has been a big event like a candidate saying rape babies are gifts from God. So the Howie DePauwe poll showing Donnelly ahead by 11 is just tossed in the smoothed average. I am not at all confident about Arizona (or for that matter Montana where Silver gives Tester (D) a 33% chance).
/update

Sanders will remain a more reliable Democrat than any Democrat. King will cause the caucus about as much heart ache as Lieberman. If my guesses are right, the Democratic caucus will move left with conservadem Ben Nelson gone, centrists Conrad and Tester gone, liberal Warren added, and mainstream Democrats added (2 replacing outgoing mainstream Democrats). The Republican caucus would move to the right with moderate Snowe sometimes pseudo moderate Brown and not as extreme as Cruz anyway Hutchison gone. So I guess the Senate will be less harmonious and more partisan hard as that is to imagine.

Warning. My predictions are almost always wrong (my 2010 Senate predictions were correct).

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Dean Baker ponders the lack of focus on Social Security

Dean Baker ponders the lack of focus on Social Security via Alternet:

It is remarkable that social security hasn’t been a more issue in the presidential race. After all, Governor Romney has proposed a plan that would imply cuts of more than 40% for middle-class workers just entering the labor force . Since social security is hugely popular across the political spectrum, it would seem that President Obama could gain an enormous advantage by clearly proclaiming his support for the program.

But President Obama has consistently refused to rise to the defense of social security. In fact, in the first debate, he explicitly took the issue off the table, telling the American people that there is not much difference between his position on social security and Romney’s.

On its face, this is difficult to understand. In addition to being good politics, there are also solid policy grounds for defending social security. The social security system is perhaps the greatest success story of any program in US history. By providing a core retirement income, it has lifted tens of millions of retirees and their families out of poverty. It also provides disability insurance to almost the entire workforce. The amount of fraud in the system is minimal, and the administrative costs are less than one 20th as large as the costs of private-sector insurers.

In addition, the program is more necessary now than ever. The economic mismanagement of the last two decades has left the baby boomers ill-prepared for retirement – few have traditional pensions. The stock market crashes of the last 15 years have left 401(k)s depleted, and the collapse of the housing bubble destroyed much of their housing equity, which has always been the main source of wealth for middle-income families.

It would be great if we had reason to believe that the generations that followed had better retirement prospects, but we don’t. Even in good times, the 401(k) system does more to enrich the financial industry than to provide a secure retirement income. Any reasonable projection indicates that social security will provide the bulk of retirement income for most middle-class retirees long into the future. In this context, the idea of cutting back benefits, even for younger workers, seems misguided…

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The GOP, rape and abortion, and the place of God in political discourse

by Linda Beale

The GOP, rape and abortion, and the place of God in political discourse

Remember GOP candidate Akin and his comments about no-pregnancies-from-legitimate-rape, suggesting somehow that most rapes are not legitimate and are maybe sought after by the one raped as well as by the rapist?  Akin revealed an incredible lack of understanding about what rape means to women in terms of the devastiating difficulty of the experience itself and its long-term impact on a person’s well-being and sense of self.  At the same time, he showed an incredible naivete or lack of competence in judging science from hearsay in his belief that women who are raped can prevent pregnance (apparently by some kind of magic).  Akin has come to symbolize for me the problem of the far-right’s dominance of the GOP in terms of inability to distinguish fact from convenient fiction, scientific theory from dogmatic beliefs and wishes, or societal realities from ideological wishes.

Now we learn that Richard Mourdock, GOP Senate candidate in Indiana, supports banning abortion in all circumstances other than when the life of the mother-to-be is endangered.  When asked about pregnancies that result from rape, he insisted that he thought the woman should be forced to carry out the pregnancy because “even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that is something that God intended to happen.”  (He has since “apologized”, if you can call a statement that others have “misinterpreted his comments” an apology.  See Aaron Blake and Chris Cillizza, Mourdock apologizes for ‘misinterpretation’ of rape comments, Obama campaign pounces, The Fix, Washington Post (oct. 24, 2012).

This is just another example of the GOP’s deaf ear to what they impose on women–even what may be construed as a “war on women” because of their unwillingness to treat women as equals in so many ways, including in having appropriate choices about their own bodies.  Because the mostly white males that make up the GOP political class never are in the position of being impregnated by a criminal rapist or carrying an embryo from a few cells through its development into a fetus and then delivering a baby that they will need to love and cherish throughout its life, they can easily say that if you got pregnant in a rape, the new life form that is represented by the joining of your egg cell and the rapist’s sperm cell is something “God intended to happen” and therefore you must preserve that life.  Mourdock doens’t understand what it means to become pregnant and carry that pregnancy through to fruition or what it would be like to carry the child of your rapist and to give birth to that child.  Mourdock, I dare say, doesn’t begin to comprehend the violation to self that rape signifies to women.  And the Obama campaign is correct in noting that “a Republican Congress working with a Republican president Mitt Romney would (feel) that women should not be able to make choices about their own health care.”  Id.

GOP NRSC chairman John Cornyn supported Mourdock, saying that we all “believe that life is a gift from God.”  Id.  But it is an obvious fact that we humans destroy life on a massive scale–from baby lambs slaughtered to “celebrate” Easter to mature wild horses slaughtered to satisfy other countries’ craving for meat, from death penalty murders by the state to drone murders by the military.  The right’s fixation on abortion appears to have much more to do with the desire to keep women in a submissive state than it has to do with cherishing  lives-to-be or existing life.  If life is so cherished, why doesn’t the GOP support a vegan diet, elimination of the death penalty, funding for adequate pre-natal and post-natal care for those in the lower 40 percent of the income distribution, and diplomacy over military solutions to international disputes?

Of course, there’s another issue here, one that cannot seemingly be addressed any more in the public arena.  It is politicians’ pervasive reliance on their own personal beliefs in and about “God” as a justification for political and governmental action or inaction, the incremental encroachment of an outspoken minority’s religious beliefs on the available options for the vast majority who may not share them.  Mourdock’s statement implies that all Americans must necessarily believe in (his version of) God, since he is asserting that legislation on abortion must take (what he deems to be) God’s plans into account.   And whatever happens, it must be (his) God’s intent.  Thus, in spite of Mourdock’s denial that he is saying that (his) God preordains the rape as well as the pregnancy, it is hard to escape the conclusion that he must ultimately believe that, since the pregnancy would not have happened in these cases without the rape.  And thus he ultimately is suggesting that rape isn’t quite so bad as any woman who has been raped– or has imagined being raped, or has known someone who was raped –knows it is.

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Ok class, let’s review before the exam (election)

I’m sure you are all feeling kind of blah. You have this final exam for this session and I can tell by your performances on the quizzes that you are still confused. The problem solving portions of the quizzes have been very telling. So lets review.
 
You’re taxes are not too high. It’s your income that is too low! Remember this and you will be able to solve enough of the problems to obtain a passing grade and graduate. And class, no one running today for president gets this. It is why President Obama looked like such a dufus in the debate. Romney took a step to his left… right into Obama’s policy space. Where does one go to gain more space when they have walled up the door to the left of them as President Obama has?
 
Let’s get something real clear from the beginning. Unless you are acquiring the majority of your money from money YOU ARE NOT A CAPITALIST 
 
 
Second: A MARKET IS NOT AN ECONOMY.

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An opinion on Thumtack.com/GW University Small Business Political Survey

I was forwarded an early look at a survey that was produced by George Washington University’s School of Political Management in conjunction with Thumbtack.com. As some readers know, I am an honest to goodness small business owner. Two business actually and they are as different as say a private practice physician and a florist. So…………I guess this is what has lead to a request of me to opine on this survey’s results.
 
 
I googled Thumbtack.com. I had never heard of them. There is some controversy out their regarding their business model. Yet, Thumbtack.com claims 250K users. The survey was of 6000 plus of their members. They have taken some steps to assure their sampling represents the distribution of small business throughout the nation. I’m going to trust that GW’s school knows how to do and produce a scientifically valid survey. Thumbtack.com had teamed up with Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation early this year. This work attempted to come up with a ranking of business friendliness based on the experiences of small business within a given state.
 
The headline, take away finding is presented as follows:
 
40% of all small business owners nationwide rate the economy and jobs as the most important factor in choosing a president. Ethics, honesty, and corruption in government is the second-most important factor for small businesses.
Considering ethics, honesty and corruption came in at 15% and the next item to be ranked the top issue was so ranked by 6% with the percentages becoming smaller to 2% for the issue of foreign policy I would say 40%ranking the economy and jobs the number one issue is kind of an intuitively expected finding because every other issue considered in the survey fell so far behind.  After all, we are talking business owners.
 

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White working class

John Quiggin writes at  Crooked Timber on a not new discussion on what constitutes “white working class” or “whiteworkingclass” used in media descriptions.  In comments there are several who tackle the question well….Bruce Wilder for one.  I am not sure there is a clear answer without considering geographical issues and histories, rural/city/suburb issues, and such, but has implications for who we notice as important.

All became clear(or, at least, clearer) when I discovered that US political discussion uses two very different (though correlated) concepts of “working class”. The first is the more or less standard one – people who depend on wage labor (normally in manual or low-status service occupations) for their income. The second, specific to the US, and standard in most political polling, is “people without a 4-year college degree”, a class which includes such horny-handed sons and daughters of toil as Bill Gates and Paris Hilton. More prosaically, it includes lots of small business owners, and (since college graduation rates were rising until relative recently), over-represents the old.

Data on US voting patterns is surprisingly scarce, but Andrew Gelman has a big data set confirming the point that Republican voting rises with income

As the pie chart below illustrates, the biggest group in the Republican voting base, and the group with which they do best is that of middle/high income whites without college degrees (the percentage after the group name gives the Republican share of the vote for that group). There’s nothing surprising in this, since all three variables are correlated with Republican voting. It’s the practice of calling this group “working class” that causes the confusion.

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The war against women

by Maggie Mahar    (The author of Money-Driven Medicine: The Real Reason Health Care Costs So Much (Harper/Collins 2006), Mahar also served as the co-writer of the documentary, Money-Driven Medicine (2009), directed by Andrew Fredericks and produced by Alex Gibney.
Before she began writing about health care, Mahar was a financial journalist and wrote for Barron’s, Time Inc., The New York Times and other publications. (Her first book, Bull: A History of the Boom and Bust 1982-2003 (Harper Collins, 2003) was recommended by Warren Buffet in Berkshire Hathaway’s annual report.
)

As the Republicans Take Tampa, Consider What a GOP Victory Would Mean for Women’s Health

For decades, Republicans have opposed abortion. This, we know, and so it comes as no surprise that Mitt Romney, the Party’s presidential candidate, has called “Roe vs. Wade“ one of the darkest moments in Supreme Court history.”

But what some call the “war against women” is escalating. This year, the Republican platform calls for a constitutional amendment that would make abortion illegal.

In 1976, the GOP blueprint acknowledged that “the question of abortion is one of the most difficult and controversial of our time,” and the Party called for “a continuance of the public dialogue on abortion,” which it called a “moral and personal issue.” Just eight years ago, the preamble to the Republican platform declared: “we respect and accept that members of our party have deeply held and sometimes differing views.” But today, there is no such language in a platform that calls for “a human life amendment to the Constitution,” and declares that “abortion is detrimental to women’s health and well-being.”

Meanwhile Alabama, Arizona, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Ohio all have passed legislation outlawing abortion after 20 weeks, even though, as the Center for American Progress’ Emillie Openchowski points out “complications are sometimes discovered after this point in a pregnancy that could cause serious harm to the woman. In those states, a woman would be forced to continue the pregnancy, no matter the risk to her health.” This is frightening.

While Republicans parade women across their Tampa stage– and avoid talking about what they have quietly embedded in the Party platform–it seems a good time to consider what a Republican victory would mean for women’s health.

Turning Back the Clock: Contraception

Susan Faludi’s Pulitzer-prize winning 1991 book, Backlash, is subtitled: “The Undeclared War Against American Women.” Twenty-one years later, it seems the war is out in the open . As a recent New York Times editorial observes: “Having won on abortion, social conservatives are turning to birth control.”

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) promises women access to contraception without co-pays, an idea which enjoys widespread popular support–at least among women. Nationwide 80% of women voters support the idea, according to a June survey by Hart Research Associates. An earlier Hart poll revealed that 77% of Catholic women and 72% Republican women approved of free birth control. By contrast, just sixty percent of all men embrace the proposal. Still, that’s a majority.

Who, then, actually opposes making birth control available to all women, regardless of income?
The extreme conservatives who now run the Republican Party have made their feelings clear. In February, House Speaker John Boehner, stood on the House floor, and promised to overturn any rule requiring employers to pay for birth control for their workers:

“It must not stand and it will not stand,” delcared Boehner, who believes that bosses who object to birth control should not be forced to cover contraception. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky, along with Senators Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H.; Roy Blunt, R-Mo.; Marco Rubio;, R-Fla.; and John Thune,quickly joined in, arguing that this provision is a threat to religious freedom.

The right-wingers who now control the GOP seem to view contraception as a “women’s issue” that should be decided by men. Thus, at a House Oversight Committee hearing, House Republicans convened a panel on denying access to birth control coverage with five men– and no women.

As for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, in a Fox interview just last Sunday, he said: “of course women have a right to use contraception”– if they can afford it.

In March Romney told a Town Hall meeting that if “a woman wants access to free birth control” she “should vote for the other guy,” adding, “there are a lot of things that we have in our society that we may like,” but that government should not be paying for.” This suggests that “the Pill” is a luxury, like a $75 blouse.
Romney also has endorsed the “Blunt amendment” that would let any employer drop health insurance coverage for contraception and other health services on religious or moral grounds.

Here we are not just talking about Catholic colleges and hospitals. President Obama is making special provisions to accommodate their concerns. But the Republican “Blunt amendment” would go further, to include private companies such as Hercules Industries, a Denver-based heating and air conditioning company.

Co-owner Andy Newland objects to birth control, and in July, the company obtained an injunction from a federal court, allowing it to delay complying with the law until three months after the case is decided.

The Cost of Contraception
According to Fox News’ Greg Gutfield, “Anybody can afford birth control.” In July, he asked his audience, “How much more affordable can you make it? . . I mean, do we–should we start up like a ‘buy the pill’ campaign? Like ‘feed the children’ where we make sure we all adopt one woman and pay for her pills?”
Gutfield is, of course, wrong about the cost. In recent years, birth control has become extremely expensive for low-income women, even if they are insured. Co-payments for pills typically range between $15 and $50 per month, and for other contraceptive devices, such as IUDs, co-pays and other out-of-pocket expenses can reach into the hundreds of dollars.

“Since the average American woman wants to have two children,” Planned Parenthood points out, “she‘ll spend approximately five years pregnant, postpartum, or trying to have children, but 30 years trying to prevent pregnancy. That can add up to thousands of dollars spent on prescription birth control.”
Little wonder that, according to a recent survey, more than one-third of American women voters have struggled with the cost of prescription birth control at some point in their lives, and, as a result, have used birth control inconsistently. Planned Parenthood reports that “this number rises dramatically among younger women, with more than half (55 percent) mentioning a time when they could not afford to use birth control consistently.”

Thus, “In the U.S., half of all pregnancies are unintended.” Inevitably, a great many uniplanned pregnancies end in abortion. “If we are serious about reducing the unacceptably high rate of unintended pregnancies in this country, we need to get at the root cause and take practical steps to increase access to affordable birth control,” Planned Parenthood observes.

Without the Affordable Care Act– What Women Would Lose
The GOP platform states that a Republican President would use his waiver authority “on his first day in office” to halt progress in carrying out the Affordable Care Act. Romney has pledged to repeal health reform during his first 100 days in the White House.

This means that insurers selling policies in the individual market would be able to continue charging a women at least 30 percent more than they would charge a man for exactly the same policy–even if the coverage did not include maternity benefits.

Women also would lose free access to a list of preventive services that the ACA requires that insurers offer without co-pays, and without applying deductibles.

For women, the essential preventive services include: free screening for cervical and breast cancer; breastfeeding support, supplies, and counseling; well-women visits, prenatal care, screening and counseling for sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV; screening for gestational diabetes; and screening and counseling for domestic partner violence.

Planned Parenthood and Title X
Mitt Romney has pledged that he will “get rid of” Planned Parenthood, an organization that operates nearly 800 health centers throughout the United States, offering sexual and reproductive health care for the nearly three million women and men who visit these centers each years. While helping women avoid unintended pregnancies, Planned Parenthood also provides roughly 770,000 Pap tests and nearly 750,000 breast exams annually, along with more than four million tests and treatments for sexually transmitted infections. At sometime in their lives, one in five American women have found help at Planned Parenthood.
During his Sunday interview on Fox, Mitt Romney reiterated his desire to defund the organization, arguing that taxpayer dollars should not fund abortion.

Here is the truth: abortion constitutes only 3 percent of Planned Parenthood’s services and abortion is covered by private funds. Federal dollars are not used.

Mitt Romney’s fiscal plan also proposes eliminating Title X—the main federal family-planning program supported by President Nixon and then-Congressman George Bush Sr. at its creation in 1970. Title X does not pay for abortions, but it prevents abortions and unintended pregnancies by the hundreds of thousands each year. It also pays for cancer screening and some abstinence counseling for teenagers.
In Texas Republican Governor Rick Perry already has rejected Title X money, assuring that countless poor women in his state will be denied access to all reproductive health care, from birth-control pills to Pap smears.

Misogyny: The Elephant in the Room
That both Bush and Nixon supported Title X serves as a reminder of how much the Republican party has changed. As New York Magazine’s Frank Rich points out in a marvelous piece titled “Stag Party”: “For much of its history, misogyny was not the style of the party of Lincoln. For most of the twentieth century, the GOP was ahead of the curve in bestowing women’s rights

Today, many Americans under 40 have no idea how different the GOP (not the mention the country as a whole) was 25 or 30 years ago.

Rich takes us back, reminding us that Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater (who in 1964 was considered ultra-conservative) was married to a woman who had been “inspired by birth control pioneer Margaret Sanger.” Thus, Peggy Goldwater “would help build one of the nation’s largest Planned Parenthood affiliates.”

Barry Goldwater favored abortion rights. “‘I think the average woman feels, My God, that’s my business,’ and that’s the way we should keep it,” he said late in his career.
Rich goes on to reveal that “Prescott Bush, the Connecticut senator who sired a presidential dynasty, was another Sanger enthusiast and treasurer for the first national Planned Parenthood fund-raising campaign. His son, George when a congressman in the sixties, was an ardent birth-control advocate and the principal Republican author of the trailblazing Family Planning Act of 1970.

“Capitol Hill colleagues jokingly nicknamed him ‘Rubbers.’”

Even Richard Nixon, that much misunderstood liberal Republican, favored the Equal Rights Amendment and in 1972 signed the Equal Employment Opportunity Act to strengthen the policing of workplace discrimination.”

But Nixon was nothing if not a study in anguished contradictions. “At the tail end of the Nixon presidency,” Rich notes, “the GOP started backing away from its traditional beneficence on women’s issues.” In a telling shift, “Nixon vetoed a bipartisan bill enabling child care for the millions of mothers then rapidly joining the workforce.”

Looking back, the timing makes sense. Both Watergate and Nixon’s “enemies’ list” foreshadowed the deepening parenoia that would lead to a purge with the Republican party itself.
Granted, it would be two decades before the GOP’s “Big Tent” collapsed. The liberal and moderate Republicans who I had admired in the 1970s and 1980s (Nelson Rockefeller, Lowell Weicker, and Charles Mathias, to name a few) would disappear. But it was not until the 1990 that the long knives came out, and moderates began to be sliced out of the party. Some gave up and retired.

Why did Nixon kill the childcare bill? Rich explains: “His veto was accompanied by a jarring statement that child care would threaten American families by encouraging women to work,” The inspiration for this unexpected reactionary broadside came . . . from political strategists eager to exploit the growing backlash against the sixties feminist movement.”

Backlash–As Male “Influence and Power” Declines

What we are seeing in the GOP today is a continuation of the pay-back that Susan Faludi described in her 1991 book, Backlash.

Conservatives like to claim that “The War Against Women” is a metaphor manufactured by Democrats as they prepared for the 2012 election. This simply is not true. Long ago, women such as Faludi saw that herd of elephants coming our way.

In fact, as Rich points out, in 1996 “Tanya Melich, the daughter of a state senator in ultraconservative Utah” who grew up “to be a stalwart New York Republican and a 1992 Bush convention delegate, wrote a book titled The Republican War Against Women. “These days,” he writes, “her eyewitness account of her party’s transformation seems more pertinent and prescient than ever.”

The anger that Republicans direct toward women that can be traced to the “women’s movement” of the 1960s. Men feared that women would take their jobs. Husbands were threatened; once their wives had some financial independence, they might decide to strike out on their own. Fathers realized that the “Pill” would give their daughters sexual freedom: marriage could become a choice, not a necessity.

Worst of all, as women gained power, both in the workplace and in government, this could mean that men would find themselves having to answer to the likes of Elizabeth Warren. (In 2009, when Warren, who is now running to recapture Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat for the Democrats, questioned Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner about 13 billion dollars Goldman Sachs got out the back door of AIG –“Do you know where the money went?” — her tough, probing questions made jaws drop– including Geithner’s. Geithner would later express opposition to her possible nomination to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.)

In Backlash, Faludi quotes Seymour Martin Lipset and Earl Raab, two political scientists who have explored the “politics of backlash”: “The reaction” is driven by “groups which are declining in a felt sense of importance, influence and power,” they explain, “Unlike classic conservatives” Faludi adds, “these ‘pseudo conservatives,’ as Theodore Adorno dubbed them…are not so much defending a prevailing order as resurrecting an outmoded or imagined one.”

She also quotes the historian Richard Hofstadter: “‘America has largely been taken away from them and their kind, though they are determined to try to repossess it and to prevent the final destructive act of subversion.’”

In other words, they are afraid, and when people are “on the run,” some turn mean.
Conservative white men know that the demographics are against them. Before long, they will be outnumbered, and in future years, more and more African Americans, Latinos, Asians and women of all races will be in positions of power.

Let me be clear: I am not talking about majority of white men. My husband, his brother, my son, his father (my ex-husband), and a great many men who I know either personally or professionally do not fit this mold.
But, without question, some white conservative men saw Barack Obama’s election in 2008 as a sign that the country “was being taken away from them.” To Mitch McConnell, Obama’s re-election would constitute what Hofstadter terms “the final destructive act of subversion.”

In a sense, those who feared the rise of feminism in the 1960s were right. The women’s movement would never be snuffed out. Instead, it became part of our culture. Today many fewer women call themselves “feminists.” The vast majority of younger women simply assume that they have a right to work, to assume positions of power in the larger world, to control what happens to their bodies. This is the legacy of the Sixties.

The Violence against Women Act

Women also take it for granted that they have a right to protection against the rage that sometimes threatens them–and their children– in their own homes.

Nevertheless, this year, House Republicans felt free to block renewal and expansion of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), a 20 -year-old law that offers shelter and counseling to women who have been beaten or sexually assaulted by spouses or partners.

In the past, renewal was not even in question. But today, “Some conservative groups view the Violence Against Women Act as “a slush fund for feminist causes that harms men unfairly and encourages the dissolution of marriages,” the New York Times reported .

Last week, I wrote about how and why Republicans were able to block the VAWA on HealthInsurance.Org. Conseratives claim that Democrats “politicized” the issue by turning it into a fight over illegal immigrants, Gays and Lesbians. I do not buy that argument. Nor did all seven Republican women in the Senate. They voted to renew the bill.

That post also explains why it is so important that, in November, women–and men who like women–come out to vote. The turnout, not just in the Presidential contest, but in many Congressional races, will determine who takes over Washington.

Before going to the polls, check out this piece Healthinsurance.org, showing how your elected representatives havevoted on heatlh care reform. Those votes will help you measure where they stand on protecting women’s health.

cross posted with  Healthbeat blog

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Polls and reporting

Lifted from Robert’s thoughts:

by Robert Waldmann

Polls and reporting

It is clear that, whenever respected non-partisan media adopt rigid rules, Republicans abuse those rules. The Swift Boat Veterans for Truth are a very clear example. Since news organizations often present both sides of a debate without fact checking in each article, it is possible for a mass of lies to balance all available documentary evidence. Something similar is happening this year. New polling organizations are appearing and making Rasmussen look like less of an outlier.

A new mechanical approach to covering polls is to present an average of recent polls or a time weighted average of polls or to do what Nate Silver does which he explains very clearly (and which works). It is universally believed by politicians and their campaign staff that a poll which would be good news for a candidate if accurate is helpful to the candidate. This means that an effort to game the new poll averaging system will be based on polls which show higher support than in the population for the candidate the pollster wants to support.

It is obvious that unscrupulous operators are doing this. I have long believed that Rasmussen doesn’t do a terrible job just because they value quantity not quality. The basic problem (says Silver) is that they poll all in one day. This means that they don’t call back day after day if no one answers the phone, which means that they oversample people who are home a lot.

There is no doubt that Scott Rasmussen is a very partisan Republican. Rasmussen carefully removes noise without removing bias. They weight by self reported party affiliation. This keeps the numbers from their sloppy swift polls from bouncing around. But they weight using the average party affiliation from Rasmussen polls in the preceding month. This doesn’t remove any oversampling of Republicans which is undoubtedly there. They could weight using the proportions from polls by reputable pollsters. They chose not to. This is a deliberate effort to bias the results. they had an estimated bias of 3.8% in 2010.

The cost to Rasmussen of their demonstrated bias has been less than zero. Liberals ignore them, but Fox News loves them. (In passing, Silver stresses that he is using “bias” as a statistical term and not arguing that the Rasmussen bias is due to partisanship. In contrast, I assert that it is. This is not just because the estimated statistical bias fits Scott Rasmussen’s ideology and party affiliation. It is for the reason given above. There is no legitimate reason to use only old Rasmussen polls to get the proportions of Democrats, Republicans and independents to weight new Rasmussen polls.

I am absolutely sure that Rasmussen does this to generate results pleasing to Scott Rasmussen. I think that the success of this deliberate fraud has earned him emulators. A problem for fraudsters like Scott Rasmussen is that they stand out making their bias obvious. This problem can be solved at modest cost by setting up say 3 other Republican biased pollsters. Poll aggregators are unwilling to exclude pollsters based on their subjective judgment. That means they can be lead wherever the unscrupulous want to lead them. Nate Silver explains this too

But once in a great while, a poll comes along with methodology that is so implausible that it deserves some further comment. The Foster McCollum White Baydoun poll of Florida is one such survey.

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For instance, we have our house effects adjustment, which corrects for most of these tendencies. Based on this poll, and a prior survey the firm conducted in Michigan, we calculate the firm’s house effect as leaning Republican by roughly 11 percentage points relative to the overall consensus. We do not subtract out the entire 11-point house effect from the polling firm’s results — the model allows polling firms to retain some of their house effect — but the model does adjust the poll substantially, treating it as about a 7-point lead for Mr. Romney rather than a 15-point one. That’s still a very good number for Mr. Romney — enough to make him a slight favorite in our forecast for the state — but at least a little bit more reasonable relative to common sense. Is there argument for just throwing the poll out? In this case, perhaps. But as I said, I’d rather design a system where we have to make fewer of those judgment calls and err on the side of inclusivity. Our threshold for calling out a poll’s technique as being dubious, as we have here, is pretty high — but our threshold for actually throwing a poll out is higher.

Silver is by far the most sophisticated aggregator published by mass media. He notes that outrageous nonsense which is pro-Romney by 11 points compared to the average of other pollsters only counts as if it were pro-Romney by 7 points. I think the 11 point estimated house effect is a new record. I don’t like to make predictions, but I am willing to predict that it will be surpassed. The other plainly biased pollsters are “We Ask America” (which belongs to a business lobby) and “Purple Strategies” whose CEO is the notorious Alex “hands” Castellanos one of the vilest partisan operatives in the business.

Lifted from Robert’s Stochastic thoughts

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Tune in, tune out?…seems like ‘toons are the thing to watch 2012

James Kwak offers a take on the election campaign so far, on how information is offered and accepted, and how ‘voters’ choose to respond:

…Democrats should be worried, because Romney and Ryan have the better debating position. Their position is simple and superficially compelling: Government is bad. (Cf. the DMV—it’s state, not federal, and the one in Massachusetts works very well, but whatever; BATF; EPA; IRS; whatever agency your audience happens to dislike. Compare to Apple as if all private sector businesses were like Apple.) Government infringes on individual liberty. Cut down the government and we will have (a) more liberty, (b) more economic growth, and (c) lower taxes.

What do the Democrats say in response? Government is good at some things and bad at some things, and needs to be leaner and more efficient. Or people need government services to succeed. (Doesn’t that sound offensive as soon as you say it, even if it’s true?) Or there’s a moral obligation to redistribute income through the tax-and-transfer system. Or government isn’t really that big when you compare it to history. So taxes should go down for some people and up for some other people.

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