Friday, April 30, 2010

Lying with Statistics 101: Rasmussen Polls do not count Obama Supporters

Very interesting video here:
Scott Rasmussen of Rasmussen Polls answers a question about what is meant by "likely voter".
When you read the polls at Pollster.com, you will notice the designation "LV" next to the results reported from Rasmussen Polls. "LV" stands for "likely voters." In his answer to the question, Scott Rasmussen admits that minorities and young people generally do not qualify as likely voters, or at least are less likely to qualify. As such, their opinions are simply not counted to the poll results.

WHAT THIS MEANS, oh you FoxNews loonies, is that when Fox News reports that the President's approval rating is below 50%, what they are really saying is that the President's approval rating is below 50% if you disregard the opinions of two giant segments of his supporters.

THE LESSON. I rarely get into a discussion about politics with a Wingnut when they don't cite to some Rasmussen Poll or another. Since these poll numbers are unreliable, they actually undermine the propositions for which they are cited. Do not use Rasmussen Polls as support for arguments.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

"Imagine if the Tea Party Was Black" - Tim Wise

Let’s play a game, shall we? The name of the game is called “Imagine.” The way it’s played is simple: we’ll envision recent happenings in the news, but then change them up a bit. Instead of envisioning white people as the main actors in the scenes we’ll conjure - the ones who are driving the action - we’ll envision black folks or other people of color instead. The object of the game is to imagine the public reaction to the events or incidents, if the main actors were of color, rather than white. Whoever gains the most insight into the workings of race in America, at the end of the game, wins.

So let’s begin.

Imagine that hundreds of black protesters were to descend upon Washington DC and Northern Virginia, just a few miles from the Capitol and White House, armed with AK-47s, assorted handguns, and ammunition. And imagine that some of these protesters —the black protesters — spoke of the need for political revolution, and possibly even armed conflict in the event that laws they didn’t like were enforced by the government? Would these protester — these black protesters with guns — be seen as brave defenders of the Second Amendment, or would they be viewed by most whites as a danger to the republic? What if they were Arab-Americans? Because, after all, that’s what happened recently when white gun enthusiasts descended upon the nation’s capital, arms in hand, and verbally announced their readiness to make war on the country’s political leaders if the need arose.

Imagine that white members of Congress, while walking to work, were surrounded by thousands of angry black people, one of whom proceeded to spit on one of those congressmen for not voting the way the black demonstrators desired. Would the protesters be seen as merely patriotic Americans voicing their opinions, or as an angry, potentially violent, and even insurrectionary mob? After all, this is what white Tea Party protesters did recently in Washington.

Imagine that a rap artist were to say, in reference to a white president: “He’s a piece of shit and I told him to suck on my machine gun.” Because that’s what rocker Ted Nugent said recently about President Obama.

Imagine that a prominent mainstream black political commentator had long employed an overt bigot as Executive Director of his organization, and that this bigot regularly participated in black separatist conferences, and once assaulted a white person while calling them by a racial slur. When that prominent black commentator and his sister — who also works for the organization — defended the bigot as a good guy who was misunderstood and “going through a tough time in his life” would anyone accept their excuse-making? Would that commentator still have a place on a mainstream network? Because that’s what happened in the real world, when Pat Buchanan employed as Executive Director of his group, America’s Cause, a blatant racist who did all these things, or at least their white equivalents: attending white separatist conferences and attacking a black woman while calling her the n-word.

Imagine that a black radio host were to suggest that the only way to get promoted in the administration of a white president is by “hating black people,” or that a prominent white person had only endorsed a white presidential candidate as an act of racial bonding, or blamed a white president for a fight on a school bus in which a black kid was jumped by two white kids, or said that he wouldn’t want to kill all conservatives, but rather, would like to leave just enough—“living fossils” as he called them—“so we will never forget what these people stood for.” After all, these are things that Rush Limbaugh has said, about Barack Obama’s administration, Colin Powell’s endorsement of Barack Obama, a fight on a school bus in Belleville, Illinois in which two black kids beat up a white kid, and about liberals, generally.

Imagine that a black pastor, formerly a member of the U.S. military, were to declare, as part of his opposition to a white president’s policies, that he was ready to “suit up, get my gun, go to Washington, and do what they trained me to do.” This is, after all, what Pastor Stan Craig said recently at a Tea Party rally in Greenville, South Carolina.

Imagine a black radio talk show host gleefully predicting a revolution by people of color if the government continues to be dominated by the rich white men who have been “destroying” the country, or if said radio personality were to call Christians or Jews non-humans, or say that when it came to conservatives, the best solution would be to “hang ‘em high.” And what would happen to any congressional representative who praised that commentator for “speaking common sense” and likened his hate talk to “American values?” After all, those are among the things said by radio host and best-selling author Michael Savage, predicting white revolution in the face of multiculturalism, or said by Savage about Muslims and liberals, respectively. And it was Congressman Culbertson, from Texas, who praised Savage in that way, despite his hateful rhetoric.

Imagine a black political commentator suggesting that the only thing the guy who flew his plane into the Austin, Texas IRS building did wrong was not blowing up Fox News instead. This is, after all, what Anne Coulter said about Tim McVeigh, when she noted that his only mistake was not blowing up the New York Times.

Imagine that a popular black liberal website posted comments about the daughter of a white president, calling her “typical redneck trash,” or a “whore” whose mother entertains her by “making monkey sounds.” After all that’s comparable to what conservatives posted about Malia Obama on freerepublic.com last year, when they referred to her as “ghetto trash.”

Imagine that black protesters at a large political rally were walking around with signs calling for the lynching of their congressional enemies. Because that’s what white conservatives did last year, in reference to Democratic party leaders in Congress.

In other words, imagine that even one-third of the anger and vitriol currently being hurled at President Obama, by folks who are almost exclusively white, were being aimed, instead, at a white president, by people of color. How many whites viewing the anger, the hatred, the contempt for that white president would then wax eloquent about free speech, and the glories of democracy? And how many would be calling for further crackdowns on thuggish behavior, and investigations into the radical agendas of those same people of color?

To ask any of these questions is to answer them. Protest is only seen as fundamentally American when those who have long had the luxury of seeing themselves as prototypically American engage in it. When the dangerous and dark “other” does so, however, it isn’t viewed as normal or natural, let alone patriotic. Which is why Rush Limbaugh could say, this past week, that the Tea Parties are the first time since the Civil War that ordinary, common Americans stood up for their rights: a statement that erases the normalcy and “American-ness” of blacks in the civil rights struggle, not to mention women in the fight for suffrage and equality, working people in the fight for better working conditions, and LGBT folks as they struggle to be treated as full and equal human beings.

And this, my friends, is what white privilege is all about. The ability to threaten others, to engage in violent and incendiary rhetoric without consequence, to be viewed as patriotic and normal no matter what you do, and never to be feared and despised as people of color would be, if they tried to get away with half the shit we do, on a daily basis.

Game Over.

Tim Wise is among the most prominent anti-racist writers and activists in the U.S. Wise has spoken in 48 states, on over 400 college campuses, and to community groups around the nation. Wise has provided anti-racism training to teachers nationwide, and has trained physicians and medical industry professionals on how to combat racial inequities in health care. His latest book is called Between Barack and a Hard Place.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

A guest post: Thank you for sharing L.G.

A friend of a friend is urging her friends to sign a petition to, "Take back our country." My friend Responded by sending a copy of "An Open Letter to Conservatives" which was republished by aboxofrain on March 27, 2010. The original writer wrote back the following and my friend's response follows the spammer's reply.

What follows is not only an exceptionally frightening example of how indoctrinated some people have become, but also an excellent and effective response to those that are convinced that what they hear on Fox are their own ideas. Ignorance can only be battled with intelligence. We thank you for sharing your exchange with us.

Response my friend received:

Intro: When Liberals can't win on substance, they play the race card and accuse Republicans of being racist and hateful. They have no other route to take.

Logic will tell you, that Democrats think we are ignorant. That we need the government's assistance to take care of us. They are big on government handouts because they want to paralyze us and make us dependent on them instead of us taking "personal responsibility" and taking care of ourselves. The Republican party believes YOU can do it without government assistance. That YOU are smarter than the government and that YOU don't need them in the long run.

Hypothetically speaking, when a young man turns 18 and has had his parents fening for him his whole life, bailing him out and providing for him way beyond his needs, basically spoiling him, chances are he's going to grow up a man with a sense of "entitlement". Like it is a right he posesses to be taken care of just because he is alive, that he gets what he wants whether he works for it or not. Obama, and people of his likes have the belief that everyone is entitled to money, education, healthcare, and everything else. That is a socialistic mentality.

True Republican Conservatives believe all those things are priviledges not rights and should only be aquired through hard work and personal responsibility. Is that not only logical? We hold those believes with our own children, why not politically? Unlike Bush haters, (You know the "Bush lied, kids died", "We went to war for oil" people), I am not a conspiracy theorist but the Democrats outlook on big government makes ME even wonder what they're REALLY cooking.

The Republican party stands for: Personal responsibilty, accountability, small government, the right to life and fiscal responsibility. If you're in debt, you don't buy a brand new Mercedez Benz (hense Obama's Trillion dollar stimulus package) And above all, upholding and preserving this country's founding morals and beliefs--- opposite of everything Obama stands for.

When Obama's pastor of 20 years, Jeremiah Wright is giving a sermon and hollering "Not Bless America, GOD Damn America!" I think that should be a cause for concern, but that's just me. And this man was not only Obama's pastor, he was his mentor. He molded Obama's outlook on life and politics. Remember, Wright preaches "black theology" which focuses more on social sciences than on religion, not typical Christianity for sure. It is "Marxism" concealed to look like Christianity. You didn't hear that from the Hollywood crowd and the mainstream media, or as they're more commonly known the "lamestream media".


Myspace, Yahoo, CNN, MSNBC and almost every media outlet refused to even bring up these tough questions about Obama and his affiliations with radical people such as Jeremiah Wright and William Ayers (an american terrorist who blew up buildings here in the U.S but was not sent to jail based on a "technicality") during the campaign because they are and have always been in the tank with him and the Democrats. They knew that if there was widespread knowledge of it by the public, there would have been a backlash and Obama wouldn not have been elected.

But the media is not part of typical America, they do not understand everyday Americans. They belong to a group of elitists who after reporting their "so-called" fair and balanced news coverage, hang together on their verandas in Malibu drinking champaign and congratulating themselves. They don't care about you or America. The whole world could come crashing down around them and they'd still be sitting pretty with a cocktail in their hand, right?---REMEMBER THAT.

"To take from one, because it is thought his own industry and that of his fathers has aquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whos fathers, have not exercized equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association, the guarantee to everyone the free exercise of his industry and the fruits aquired by it."---Thomas Jefferson April 6 1816

And people, I didn't copy this from some conservative blogger. I actually DID write this myself, unlike some people I know.

Requirements for any response to my blogs:

1. Know what you are talking about
2. Have actual facts to back them up.
3. No talking points you heard from your liberal friends or MSNBC.
4. Have actually written it yourself and not copied and pasted it.

(I like to speak to intelligent people, not brainwashed people.

Thanks you all! And BTW: I'm not trying to upset anyone, I'm just exercizing my freedom of speech as was done so very boldly during the Bush Administration.

And my friend's reply:

It is always odd when someone comes out against their own self interest in such a blatant way as you have.

Your response to me is actually quite silly on its face. On the one hand you reject the article I sent you by telling me not to respond with something that someone else wrote, while you yourself are mimicking Glenn Beck almost word-for-word.

I do not know exactly why you have chosen not to respond to the salient and well-cited points made in the article I sent you. It was my intention to engage in a meaningful debate. It was not simply sent as an invitation for you to continue your inane rant about things like personal responsibility and small government. These arguments, of course, fail instantly. First, the U.S. Constitution actually MANDATES that the federal government provide for the general welfare (its in the preamble). Second, the size of both the Federal government and the federal deficit both grew at an unprecedented rate under Bush, Jr. while both were shrunk under Clinton (Clinton actually eliminated the deficit.) Since this is beyond debate, these assertions barely merited a response.

As to your other points, you appear to be confused about the difference between socialism and social responsibility. Is caring for your fellow man some kind of evil? Again the U.S. Constitution mandates that Congress provide for the general welfare. The founders, including Mr. Jefferson, recognized social responsibility as an absolute imperative for a functioning civilization. Or were the founding father's "socialists" as your definition would imply.

To the extent that health care reform is a social benefit, it is clearly of benefit to anyone who has to provide for their own health care. The health insurance companies cannot do this. That is why they exclude people with pre-existing conditions and deny benefits to their insured on a regular basis. If private insurance were capable of providing health care to everyone who needed it, the government would not have to be involved. There are only two groups of people that have a principled argument against health care reform: The very, very wealthy who can afford health care on their own (i.e. no employer contribution) and the health insurance companies themselves. You however appear to equate the government's intervention in seeing that all Americans can received basic medical care with "socialism", and "Marxism". How does this argument fare when applied to Social Security and Medicare? It doesn't. By your logic, these programs must be dismantled too.

The republican party's relationship with labor would also appear to be against your own self interest. Reagan set the tone by weakening, for the first time, the power of labor to collectively bargain. He set the tone by laying off all of those air-traffic controllers in the 1980's when they decided to strike. Does this create opportunity or does this silence the voice of the American worker? Take a look at this recent mine disaster in West Virginia. Why was this corporation allowed to run roughshod over the government's safety regulations? Why was there no power in the labor union to insist that if the mines weren't safe the workers wouldn't show up? You need to read Upton Sinclair's "The Jungle" to understand why labor needs to be protected by unfettered corporate power. I cannot believe that you advocate for removing for workplace and employment protections.

You are not a corporation and corporations are not people. In fact, their interests are quite different. Republicans confuse this issue intentionally and relentlessly. I agree with you wholeheartedly that that the freedom of the individual in America must be protected at all costs, but protecting the freedom of the individual necessarily means limiting the power of corporations and only the government has this power. The insurance companies were shifting the burden of the uninsured onto the government (who pays when an uninsured person gets a heart attack and is raced to the emergency room?) Should the free market be costing the taxpayers money? That's not a free market. That's corporate entitlement.

Why should corporations be permitted to charge their mistakes to the government but not individuals? It was Bush's bailout of the banks-- not Obama's. Where did this fact get lost?

As to Obama's minister, you have simply neglected context and in doing so, you have also neglected common sense. "God Damn America" for not fulfilling her mission of ensuring equal rights for all? Does that mean, "I don't like America." Quite to the contrary, it means I love America and want her to be better. It means that people shouldn't have to die in the streets from easily preventable diseases. If I can save a life by spending a few dollars and I don't do it, then God Damn me too!

Republican policy has lead to the greatest wealth stratification not only in the history of America, but also in the history of democracy. I do not believe that you could be so naive as to think that you have access to the upper echelons of wealth that Republican policy is designed to protect. In fact, you could not survive in the type of plutocracy you envision.

The principles of the Republican party are diametrically opposed to the self-interest of a single, working class, mother living with her parents. Yet you espouse them vociferously.
Why?

You should understand that the republican party is really two parties: First, it is the party of the corporation and in this guise, it espouses a philosophy of free markets, small government (meaning no government regulation of business), lower taxes on the wealthiest individuals and corporations, fewer labor rights, elimination of public social services. This party creates wealth stratification. It keeps the poor in the ghettos and uneducated (I mean, after all, how do you pay for public schools and colleges without taxes). But this is understandable: the rich want to protect the rich.

The second republican party, consists of the very poor and uneducated. They have been coaxed in by false patriotism, conservative social values, and racism (all of which happen to make appearances in your post, by the way.) This group ends up espousing against their own interests. The irony is that the republican spin machine has convinced its mostly Christian base that social justice, concern for the poor, and compassion are BAD. Those that require benefits to feed their children, who will not be able to afford college, who require assistance in training for or finding a job or housing; single mothers, the homeless, the unemployed; social security recipients, medicare recipients, disability recipients, and others who benefit from these social programs vote so much against their own self interest, that one cannot help but laugh at them. And in fact, the members of the first Republican party do laugh at them, for instance, by entertaining their corporate donors at lesbian-bondage clubs, while purporting to stand for family values. I'd like to be in that family!

Because these people are not taken seriously by either party, they have self-marginalized and become irrelevant. They have chosen slavery over freedom and deserve their fate. Granted they receive a lot of media attention, but that is because they are a political sideshow. Freakshows get ratings. There is an old legal axiom: "If you have the law on your side, pound the law. If you have the facts on your side, pound the facts. If you have neither the law nor the facts on your side, pound the table." The noise these people make is only to detract from their lack of substance. The lack of a coherent message is a symptom of the disease: the tea-parties were created by corporate lobbyists solely for the purpose of making noise. (Now it may be Frankenstein: free of its corporate masters, its existence is the embodiment of unreasonable danger.)

There is nothing wrong with seeking to serve the greater good and shame on those who have convinced you otherwise. That's what a society is. Your rejection of the article I sent you documenting, with citations, the abuses of the republican party for no reason other than that I didn't write it, is proof of your intention to remain ignorant. Do you realize that you have actually said, quite directly, "don't bore me with the facts, I am only interested in your opinion." It is very, very arrogant for you to reject a progressive point-of-view that is incredibly well supported by facts by saying, "oh, its not supported by facts because its a progressive point of view."

My opinion is that you are an unfortunate victim of media tunnel vision. I fear that you have been exposing yourself only to media that reinforces your own ideas as is made quite apparent from your outright rejection of the well-researched article I brought to your attention and the entirety of the mainstream media. (By the way, because I do not have media tunnel-vision, I am well aware that your reference to "lamestream", is a direct quote from Glenn Beck. I have also heard it used by Sarah Palin and Pat Robertson, so the source of your misinformation is no mystery.)

Your media tunnel vision is a big problem because you accept as fact things that are not fact. For instance your assertion that the President is ignoring what the majority of people in this country want is embarrassingly stupid. Obama won a decisive majority running on the healthcare reform platform and his national favorable rating across all polls, including Fox News shows 51.7% favorable versus 42.5% unfavorable. Even Fox News' independent poll reports 50% favorable to 45% unfavorable. Source: pollster.com.

If you're just talking about the healthcare approval numbers, do you understand that the disapproval numbers include both the tea partiers who didn't want any reform, and the progressives who wanted a real public option? Compromise and ignoring-the-will-of-the-people are two different things. Since I know you well enough to know that you wouldn't intentionally distort the statistics, I must assume that you are repeating a lie that was force-fed to you by media outlets and personalities (Beck, Palin, Robertson) that cater to your preconceived notion. Media tunnel vision is an enemy of principled debate. If we are to continue this debate, please don't resort to Glenn Beck for your arguments. He is truly an idiot.

In sum, as a member of the second republican party your voice is silent in the real political debates of the day and I would urge to analyze for yourself what your interests are and which party and candidates most align with those interests. Don't try to be philosophical. Try to be pragmatic and you can yet save some face. I know that in asking you to do so, I am but a quiet voice against the billions of dollars corporate America continues to spend to keep the second republican party in its service. I hope that your mind has not been so co-opted that it has become unrecoverable.

With pity,
Your Friend,
L.G.
Stay tuned in to see where this conversation goes.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

A-Hole of the Moment: Dr. Jack Cassell

It's not the sentiment that makes him an a-hole. It how he doublespeaks the meaning of the meaning of the message. Watch and enjoy the rationalization of the absurd: