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Time To End The Democrats' Free Ride

This column from David Limbaugh sums up what I feel about the current debate over Iraq.

For liberals like Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne, it is far worse for Vice President Dick Cheney to accuse congressional Democrats of playing into Al Qaeda's hands on Iraq than for Democrats actually to play into Al Qaeda's hands on Iraq.

It's perfectly fine for liberals to liken Bush and Cheney to Adolf Hitler or falsely accuse them of lying us into war in Iraq to steal its oil. It's perfectly fine for liberals to attribute failures in the federal response to Hurricane Katrina to alleged Republican racism.

U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney prepares to board his plane as he departs Sydney Sunday, Feb. 25, 2007. Cheney's plane from Sydney landed in Singapore on Sunday, but officials said it was a scheduled refueling stop and that the plane was not diverted. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)

But don't you dare question the wisdom of the Democrats' proposals on Iraq in such a way as to cause the hypersensitive to infer you were challenging their patriotism.

Apparently to Dionne and other like-minded liberals, the potential dire consequences of the Democrats' policies on Iraq are not appropriate for discussion and debate because they might make Democrats look bad, or even feel bad -- and those are far worse evils than throwing our national security in the toilet.

If you have not already read it, be sure to read Jay Tea's related thoughts on opposition to the surge. I agree with David and Jay and I think a lot of others are getting tired of tip-toeing around it, too. Some of the anti-war, anti-surge debate has been anti-American, and as Jay put it, "craven," and it is about time to call it like it is.

Update: Spiritbuilders blog notes some ulterior motives from some who say their goal is to support the troops. From quotes in this post, Washington Post's Dana Priest seems more concerned with scooping the competition than the conditions in military hospitals and in this post a tactic of some on the left is summarized.

"We really, really support the troops. We said it in our resolution. You (the administration) obviously hate them as you treat them like crap. We just want our beloved soldiers to come home."


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Comments (46)

Some of the anti-war, an... (Below threshold)
mantis:

Some of the anti-war, anti-surge debate has been anti-American, and as Jay put it, "craven," and it is about time to call it like it is.

I guess you didn't get this far in Limbaugh's column:

Questions about the Democrats' patriotism pale in comparison to real issues at stake in the war on terror.

But by all means, go ahead with your campaign to label people as anti-American; it is after all a very important cause that you on the right have been so accommodatingly "tip-toeing" around for so long. Maybe if you could get a senator to form a committee to investigate such anti-American debate....

You'll notice, Lorie, that Jay's posts are actually discussing the actions of Congress and the potential consequences of us leaving Iraq vs. staying. He is not simply saying, as you seem to be, that we need to start shouting "anti-American!" as if that hadn't been happening all along.

"But by all means, go ahead... (Below threshold)
JB:

"But by all means, go ahead with your campaign to label people as anti-American; it is after all a very important cause that you on the right have been so accommodatingly "tip-toeing" around for so long."

Thanks for proving Limbaugh's point.

If the shoe fits...

Thanks for proving Limba... (Below threshold)
mantis:

Thanks for proving Limbaugh's point.

What was his point and how did I prove it, in your mind?

The Tinkerbell Plan:<... (Below threshold)
Robert the original:

The Tinkerbell Plan:

Withdraw troops to Okinawa, close eyes, believe.

It would be nice if "coat-... (Below threshold)
BarneyG2000:

It would be nice if "coat-tail" Dave would provide at least one quote where a member of congress called Bush, Hitler?

You know, just to establish some credibility.

"We really, rea... (Below threshold)
"We really, really support the troops. We said it in our resolution. You (the administration) obviously hate them as you treat them like crap. We just want our beloved soldiers to come home."

(and the unstated portion is--)

So we can all live peacefully under sharia law.

Murtha's plan calls for the... (Below threshold)
BarneyG2000:

Murtha's plan calls for the proper training of troops, before deployment.

http://www.examiner.com/a-587827~2_Army_Units_Will_Forgo_Desert_Training.html

Rushed by President Bush's decision to reinforce Baghdad with thousands more U.S. troops, two Army combat brigades are skipping their usual session at the Army's premier training range in California and instead are making final preparations at their home bases.

Army officials say the two brigades will be as ready as any others that deploy to Iraq, even though they will not have the benefit of training in counterinsurgency tactics at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif., which has been outfitted to simulate conditions in Iraq for units that are heading there on yearlong tours.

They will be "as ready" as any other unit? So, all units are under trained in counterinsurgency?

What could possible go wrong?

Finally, Bush has bent to t... (Below threshold)
BarneyG2000:

Finally, Bush has bent to the will of smarter and more informed persons (Democrats) and not the neocons in his party:

WASHINGTON - The United States and the Iraqi government are launching a new diplomatic initiative to invite Iran and Syria to a "neighbors meeting" on stabilizing Iraq, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Tuesday.

The move reflects a change of approach by the Bush administration, which previously had resisted including Iran and Syria in diplomatic talks on stabilizing Iraq.

It has long been the position of the Democrats (endorsed by the ISG) that a diplomatic solution is called for.

The Tinkerbell Plan:<br ... (Below threshold)
Brian:

The Tinkerbell Plan:

Withdraw troops to Okinawa, close eyes, believe.

Sorry, for years that plan has been:

Leave troops in Iraq, close eyes, believe.

Of course, when the shoe wa... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

Of course, when the shoe was on the other foot..i.e Clinton's campaign in Kosovo in 1999...Expressions like 'quagmires', 'attacking a sovereign nation', crippled militaries' ( the US and Nato forces) 'warmongering' were all grist to the mill when charging Clinton with potentially bringing down the mutually assurred destruction (of the US and Nato).See The new NATO: warmongering peaceniks by David Limbaugh.

Some of the anti-war, an... (Below threshold)
Brian:

Some of the anti-war, anti-surge debate has been anti-American, and as Jay put it, "craven," and it is about time to call it like it is.

The poll found that 64 percent of Americans now say the war in Iraq was not worth fighting -- up 6 points from last month to a new high.


According to the poll, two-thirds of Americans oppose Bush's plan to send an additional 21,500 troops to Iraq. An equal number favor reducing U.S. military and financial support if the Iraqis fail to make progress restoring order.

What's "craven" is calling a super-majority of Americans "anti-American". How can you look in the mirror without laughing?

Barney,Don't be fo... (Below threshold)
Heralder:

Barney,

Don't be fooled, no one from Syria or Iran will leave that meeting alive. ;)

Posted by: Brian at Februar... (Below threshold)
yo:

Posted by: Brian at February 27, 2007 02:26 PM

Polls. Polls. Polls.

WaPo also published a poll which stated 1/3 of Americans (or the 1002 Americans polled) didn't know which year 911 occurred.

Of that 1/3, 16% said that they had no idea, 6% gave a year previous to 2001 and 8% of those geniuses gave a later year.

I wonder how many of them oppose Bush's plan, as well.


I also find it rather cheeky that you consider 64% of the 1082 people who bothered to answer the phone when called for this poll a "super-majority."

Dude, polls are not something I'd recommend hanging your ideological hat upon.

yo,When the facts ... (Below threshold)
P. Bunyan:

yo,

When the facts don't fit into your fabricated reality, biased polls become "facts".

Just see Hugh's comments in Jay's earlier post for another examples of this.

P.,I don't even ca... (Below threshold)
yo:

P.,

I don't even care if a poll is biased, or not. The tactic of extrapolating the results from 1082 people to be representative of the population of America just seems silly (for any poll).

Of course by saying that, I'll incur the wrath of statisticians everywhere, now; but, screw them, too.

Heck, based on a poll of my immediately family taken back when I was an infant, I am the "bestest, cutest, most snuggly baby" of the modern era (Baby Jesus, apparently gets the #1 nod).

What's "craven" is calli... (Below threshold)

What's "craven" is calling a super-majority of Americans "anti-American".

Quiet Brian! You're not supposed to remind them that they're calling 65% of the American people yellow-bellied, Al Qaeda-loving cowards. We should be encouraging that kind of talk, not discouraging it. After all, we still need to pick up 9 more seats in the Senate for a filibuster-proof majority.

Well I'll own my part Lorie... (Below threshold)
Hugh:

Well I'll own my part Lorie. Neither Bush nor Cheyney are as evil as Hitler, though our historically challenged Secty Of State thinks Sadaam was. I don't think we went to war for oil, or at least I have never seen any evidence to that effect. But what i absolutely believe is that we lied to and deceived and that it continues on a regular basis.

You keep on calling folks ant-American Lorie. It continues to demonstrate how shallow your thinking is and you continue to feed the perception of the moral and intellectual bankruptcy of the extreme right. We'll celebrate again in 08.

"We should be encouragin... (Below threshold)
Lee:

"We should be encouraging that kind of talk, not discouraging it. After all, we still need to pick up 9 more seats in the Senate for a filibuster-proof majority."

Bingo! The more often the conservatives claim their superiority of us average Americans the more votes they lose. Let them prattle on.....

The tactic of extrapolat... (Below threshold)
Brian:

The tactic of extrapolating the results from 1082 people to be representative of the population of America just seems silly (for any poll).

Of course by saying that, I'll incur the wrath of statisticians everywhere, now; but, screw them, too.

Sure, no problem, we'll just add "mathematics" to the list of sciences those on the right are willing to discard for ideological purposes.

Oh, except when it suits you.

Brian, I have long... (Below threshold)
Heralder:

Brian,

I have long stood by my argument that I disregard polls because sampling such a tiny percentage of the whole and coming to a binding conclusion for the unpolled "super-majority" seems like a huge assumption hiding behind mathmatics.

I've often asked for clarification as to how this works never to get an answer. Either people really don't know, don't care, or can't be bothered to explain statistics to a neophyte like myself.

Question--how many of you h... (Below threshold)
jhow66:

Question--how many of you have EVER been a part of any kind of a national poll?

I can just about be 100% correct when I say that if you go out on the street in NY or SF etc. that 80% could not tell you who the VP is.

So polls are like you know what--

I'd like to see a poll tell... (Below threshold)

I'd like to see a poll telling us how many of those who have taken polls know anything at all about what they're even being asked. How many can't point out the Middle East on a map, let alone individual countries? How many even know who our allies are, what OFF was, or any number of basic facts? A guy told me two days ago that Saddam's trail is a farce and he'll probably be found not guilty on some technicality! Another girl on the radio the other day said Bush was a coke addict and should be impeached for it. And she truly believed it. These are not isolated incidents.

My point is that these people are just as likely to be polled as anyone else. So, as I've said a thousand times, 'Polls are bull****.'

Many of the lefties here have brought up the level of ignorance of Americans when it comes to foreign policy and even our own government structure. So why would they consistently put so much weight on "majority opinion" when we have no idea how much of that opinion comes from such utter ignorance?

Polls can be worthwhile too... (Below threshold)
P. Bunyan:

Polls can be worthwhile tools, but just like any other science the data can be skewed, twisted, and misrepresented to favor the views of those who are taking the poll or paying for it, just as other scientists do based on who's paying for whatever it is their doing.

In 2004, on the morning of the Presidential election, Rasmussen predicted the actual percentages (at least to 1 tenth of a percent) of the final vote with 100% accuracy.

Of course the left-baised pollsters didn't do quite so well. Wishful thinking is not fact, regardless of what the lefties think.

If the poll is honest, fair, and unbaised the results can be remarkably accurate. Unfortunately that's seldom, if ever, the case today.

Those are good points Oyste... (Below threshold)
P. Bunyan:

Those are good points Oyster. Unfortunately there is no intelligence requirement for voting and many politicians care more about votes than doing what's right so even the idiot's opinions matter to them.

Heralder, the math is there... (Below threshold)
Brian:

Heralder, the math is there, but it's not easy to explain. One resource to look at is here. An interesting excerpt from that:

The formulae above for the margin of error assume that there is an infinitely large population and thus do not depend on the size of the population of interest.... The margin of error for a particular sampling method is essentially the same regardless of whether the population of interest is the size of a school, city, state, or country

Although it may be counter-intuitive, the percentage of the population you need for an accurate poll actually decreases with increased population.

Here's a site with a way to visualize that concept: http://www.surveysystem.com/sscalc.htm

Go to the "Determine Sample Size" calculator. Choose a 95% confidence level, and enter a confidence interval of 3 (that's the "+ or - 3%" that polls report).

Enter a population of 1000, and click Calculate. That tells you that you need to poll 516 people to get results +/- 3% with a 95% confidence level. Now up the population to 1000000, and you now need 1066 people. Up the population to 2000000, and you need only one more person (1067). And that's it. You can enter 300,000,000 or 300,000,000,000, and you still need only 1067 to poll.

An oversimplification of why is that when you start getting into huge population numbers, then when you divide other numbers by them, you get really, really, really, small results that you can essentially ignore. For example, the sample you need for a population of 2,000,000 is probably something like 1067.000002 and the sample you need for a population of 300,000,000,000 is something like 1067.0006. So they're both essentially 1067.

Of course, this all assumes true random sampling, which is always difficult to do. There are lots of areas for inaccuracy. But unless one can show a particular bias in any one poll, it's as good as any other.

Thanks for the insight jhow... (Below threshold)
BarneyG2000:

Thanks for the insight jhow, now go back to sleep.

As I said before, polls are... (Below threshold)
jhow66:

As I said before, polls are like----

Question--how many of yo... (Below threshold)
Brian:

Question--how many of you have EVER been a part of any kind of a national poll?

Seeing as national polls require only a sample of 1067 out of 300,000,000 the odds of you being picked are about 1 in 281,162. Or, about twice the odds of being struck by lightning.

I can just about be 100% correct when I say that if you go out on the street in NY or SF etc. that 80% could not tell you who the VP is.

Then that would be an accurate poll. But it wouldn't mean that Cheney doesn't exist.

Thanks Brian, I appreciate ... (Below threshold)
Heralder:

Thanks Brian, I appreciate the time you put into that...I'll go to the links you provided. Now I feel bad for being lazy enough to not do it myself!

My point is that these p... (Below threshold)
Brian:

My point is that these people are just as likely to be polled as anyone else. So, as I've said a thousand times, 'Polls are bull****.'

But your claim only serves to show how accurate the poll would be! If those people are "just as likely" to be polled as anyone else, that means that the poll is doing an excellent job of choosing a truly random sample of the population, which means it will be highly accurate.

Ok, as someone who's been t... (Below threshold)
mantis:

Ok, as someone who's been trained in survey research I can throw in my two cents about why they are good measuring tools and why you are correct to ignore them.

First, getting the attitudes of large populations from small samples. This absolutely works and can be quite representative of the population's attitudes (with a slight margin of error, of course), if you are able to get a random sample and people answer honestly. That is a big "if", and the "if" is the reason you should ignore them (well, certain types of polls, anyway).

Say you work at a company where every member of the population is known, a random sample of that population is surveyed anonymously, and for those sampled the survey is mandatory. You can be reasonably certain, given that the sample was large enough, that the survey results would be representative of the company population.

On the other hand you have national opinion polls. These only poll people with listed phone numbers, who are home during certain hours of the day, who will answer the phone when a strange number is on the caller id, and who are willing to give their time and answers to a pollster. The fact that only the people who meet those requirements will be surveyed will skew your sample. On top of that, you have to wonder whether they will answer honestly or not (there can be a number of different reasons why they might not). On top of that, you have to consider how the questions are presented. There are all sorts of biases that can occur depending on how questions are phrased and asked (loaded terms and leading questions, order/response bias, gender bias, etc). As if that wasn't enough you can have all sorts of other errors on the part of the pollster.

So there are lots of problems with national opinion polls (and local ones), but the biggest is the fact that people who don't answer the phone and talk to pollsters at a given time, for whatever reason, are not represented. Ever.

I thank you as well, mantis... (Below threshold)
Heralder:

I thank you as well, mantis. The instruction is much appreciated.

Sure, no problem, we'll jus... (Below threshold)
yo:

Sure, no problem, we'll just add "mathematics" to the list of sciences those on the right are willing to discard for ideological purposes.

Oh, except when it suits you.

Posted by: Brian at February 27, 2007 03:38 PM


bok bok bok

First off, who said I was willing to cast off any sciences for ideological purposes? You're making some assumptions about me that aren't based on anything tangible. I didn't comment on either of those posts - for the exact reason that I don't give polls any merit beyond the "Oh, that's interesting" aspect.

Secondly, I'm not casting off statistics (which is a sub-set of mathematics, so not only are you generalizing, you're OVER generalizing; but, I digress) as a science - so much, I'm simply stating that using poll results, as was used to state the mindset of of some mythical "super majority," is just plain silly.


I'm not sure what's wrong with me, recently, but I agreed with Barney, yesterday, and here I am today, agreeing with mantis - I've got to keep the bong in the attic for a few days, I'm assuming.

As an add-on to mantis' point, it's not only the folks who don't answer the phone that we don't hear from, it's also the folks that do answer the phone who don't want to participate that aren't heard, either.

Either way, we may be hearing only from the people that want to be heard. Which, of course, produces a skewed result.

I'm sure someone can show me a fancy powerpoint deck with all sorts of pretty pictures such to prove how polls work, mathematically; but, I still don't think they're worth too much more than the paper upon which they're printed.

I guess the "I support the ... (Below threshold)
nikkolai:

I guess the "I support the troops, but not their mission or CinC" mantra has gotten to some people. It would fry my brain to have to swallow that BS.

Either way, we may be he... (Below threshold)
Brian:

Either way, we may be hearing only from the people that want to be heard. Which, of course, produces a skewed result.

It would be interesting to correlate those people with those who vote.

It would be interesting ... (Below threshold)
mantis:

It would be interesting to correlate those people with those who vote.

I've often thought that myself, but it would be hard because to find out because they don't answer polls!

I always vote in general elections, and usually in primaries, and I don't even have a regular phone line (and even if I did I wouldn't do surveys). I bet there are a lot more out there like me, but how many?

yo and mantis,I as... (Below threshold)
BarneyG2000:

yo and mantis,

I as well have some experience in the industry, so here is my two cents.

Mantis, you are making one big assumption, persons that wont or can't participate have views significantly different than those that participate or would otherwise skew/bias the sample.

My rule of thumb is:
-Look for trend results based on compiled results or earlier studies (usually linear)

-Look if other surveys support or dispute the results.

It is not the math, it is t... (Below threshold)
robert the original:

It is not the math, it is the sample.

The new WP poll admits to almost 100 extra black voters in a sample size of about 1000. To oversample black voters is to oversample Democrats, and far left ones at that.

Many if not most of the polls conducted from left-leaning organizations oversample Democrats, this is known and sometimes the effect is huge.

I remember a poll that showed that over 30% of Democrats think that President Bush blew up the WTC, should we believe that one?

"It is not the math, it is ... (Below threshold)
yo:

"It is not the math, it is the sample."

Good point.

Mantis, you are making o... (Below threshold)
mantis:

Mantis, you are making one big assumption, persons that wont or can't participate have views significantly different than those that participate or would otherwise skew/bias the sample.

That assumption is well founded. Response rates to polls have dropped dramatically in the past two decades, and more recently up to 5% of people don't even have land lines. Response rates can be increased by more rigorous surveys with longer field times, such as those done by Pew and others. However, most election polls have very short field times and do not even do multiple attempts, so they are clearly missing out on a large portion of the population.

Now, your objection, that we don't know whether nonresponse bias is present because we don't know if the nonresponders would give different answers. My problem is that most attempts to deny the problem come from professional pollsters, and why wouldn't they? There have been many studies finding response bias to be significant. And the ones that don't almost always measure demographics. They say if the demographics are the same regardless of the response rate, then there must be no bias. This seems naive to me. If all answers were determined by demographics, then why bother asking the questions? Just ask for demographics and you have your answers! Further, many attempts to measure response bias rely on follow-ups, but ignore the people they can never reach with a follow-up. All of them ignore people without traditional phone lines.

In any case, if my assumption were incorrect, and nonresponse does not necessarily create bias, then why do most election polls weight results to account for it?

Many if not most of the ... (Below threshold)
Brian:

Many if not most of the polls conducted from left-leaning organizations oversample Democrats, this is known

Please explain how "this is known". Because I for one would love to shut down any polling organization that can be shown to be deliberately biasing their samples.

Because I for one would ... (Below threshold)
mantis:

Because I for one would love to shut down any polling organization that can be shown to be deliberately biasing their samples.

Oh, there's plenty, but they're all partisan pollsters who work for campaigns. Then again Kim passes them on as if they were representative.

"In any case, if my assumpt... (Below threshold)
BarneyG2000:

"In any case, if my assumption were incorrect, and nonresponse does not necessarily create bias, then why do most election polls weight results to account for it?"

mantis, weighting a sample is done to bring the sample back to normal (the known stratification of the sample of the surveyed population) and not for non-responsiveness. As an example, if you know that the survey sample is 10% age 24 to 28, but your percent responders in that age range is only 5%, you would weight the sample to bring the distribution of responses back to normal.

I do agree that contact and completion rates are declining resulting in larger samples needed, and more attempts required, but in and by itself does not equal sample error or sample bias.

mantis, weighting a samp... (Below threshold)
mantis:

mantis, weighting a sample is done to bring the sample back to normal (the known stratification of the sample of the surveyed population) and not for non-responsiveness.

No? Here, go surfing. The purpose of nonresponse waiting is "to bring the sample back to normal." I doubt it's reliability as compared to say, demographic weighting.

Mantis, maybe we are saying... (Below threshold)
BarneyG2000:

Mantis, maybe we are saying the same thing. My point was to weight a sample based on the distribution of responses based on the known demographics of the sample.

Your point was that a bias occurs based on behavior (pickup or don't pickup a phone) which can not be measured without running a secondary survey (mail). based on the results of the follow-up survey weighting the results could be necessary (persons that responded by phone answered "X" y-times greater than responders by the mail) and I don't know if anyone runs these types of studies.

Mantis is correct Barney, t... (Below threshold)
Robert the original:

Mantis is correct Barney, the problem all pollsters have with response is getting worse.

Norming can only go so far to correct a bad sample.

About the 5% without land lines Mantis refers to, they could be young folks who adapt faster to emerging technology, or well-off folks with better access to computers, broadband, and with high phone bills.

Whatever their political views, they are omitted from all polls.

Do you think that 30% of Democrats believe Bush blew up the WTC?




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