President Obama’s Main Weakness

Yes, Republicans are reptiles and Democrats actually care about others; the Republicans use this fact to “play political chicken” with the President. Yes, President Obama should be tough on them….but he won’t. “That wouldn’t be nice”.

Then again, he ran on a platform of “getting along”.

Note: the Republicans don’t have anything like a mandate for their policies such as “repealing the HCR bill”.

November 9, 2010 Posted by | 2010, 2010 election, Barack Obama, political/social, politics, politics/social, Republican, republican party, republican senate minority leader, republicans, republicans political/social, republicans politics | Leave a comment

9 November Posts (2010)

Statistics Education
We’ve just gone through linear regression in class and I stumbled on the Anscombe’s quartet example: basically it is canned data that “games” the regression algorithm. The regression coefficients and “r” value agree up to 2 to 3 decimal places even though the data sets themselves, when plotted, do not resemble each other:

Obviously the outliers cause problems in a couple of cases. But the lesson: look at a plot!

Philosophically, a regression line is a type of projection and when one does a projection, one loses information. And in pathological projections, one can lose a LOT of information.

Politics Surprise, Dick Morris wildly overestimated how many seats the Republicans would pick up. But in his defense (and I hate defending Dick Morris), he saw the possibilities of this sort of thing happening back when Intrade saw it unlikely and he aimed the Republicans to aim high.

Trivia: a Naval Academy classmate (1981) took a “safe” Democratic seat (MN-08).

Sarah Palin: she reads the newspapers, but doesn’t understand what she reads:

In remarks delivered at a Phoenix convention, and first leaked by the The National Review, Palin criticized the Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing policy, in which the bank will purchase up to $600 billion of new U.S. government debt (as part of a plan that could reach $900 billion), and urged Fed chairman Ben Bernanke to “cease and desist.”

As HuffPost’s Shahien Nasiripour noted Monday, the Federal Reserve operates independently of any other government body, and so political criticism of it is unusual.

Even more unusual were the specifics of Palin’s critique: As WSJ’s Sudeep Reddy pointed out Monday, she doesn’t get all of her facts right. In response to Palin’s assertion that “everyone who ever goes out shopping for groceries knows that prices have risen significantly over the past year or so,” Reddy wrote Monday that “Grocery prices haven’t risen all that significantly, in fact.” He notes that prices have actually increased only 0.6 percent over the past year. It’s the lowest rate on record — so low that it inspired a high-profile Twitter fight late last month.

But Palin would have none of it. She wrote in her Facebook note, “That’s odd, because just last Thursday, November 4, I read an article in Mr. Reddy’s own Wall Street Journal titled ‘Food Sellers Grit Teeth, Raise Prices: Packagers and Supermarkets Pressured to Pass Along Rising Costs, Even as Consumers Pinch Pennies.’ She continued:

Now I realize I’m just a former governor and current housewife from Alaska, but even humble folks like me can read the newspaper. I’m surprised a prestigious reporter for the Wall Street Journal doesn’t.

Those arrogant elitists! Oh wait:

Reddy has responded to Palin on Twitter, pointing out that she has actually misread the WSJ article she refers to. As Reddy notes, the article’s first sentence discusses “the tamest year of food pricing in nearly two decades.”

The source of confusion comes in the next paragraph. The article says the cost of goods has risen, a burden that food sellers must decide whether to pass on to customers via prices. The rise in prices hasn’t actually happened yet. Palin omits this key fact.

Damn…maybe Gov. Palin needs a Cliff-notes version of those “harder” newspapers. 🙂

Anyway, remember that she is a leading candidate to head the Republican 2012. But hey, we are talking about representative democracy and she well represents most Republicans. 🙂

Speaking of “teh stupid”, I sure miss Christine O’Donnell. So I had to read this to get my “fix”. Ok, it is a routine article that answers the question: “could she have won had those Republican meanies given her more money? Guess at the answer.

More on this:

November 9, 2010 Posted by | 2010, 2010 election, political humor, political/social, politics, politics/social, Republican, republican party, republicans, republicans political/social, republicans politics, sarah palin, statistics | Leave a comment

The Real Lesson of 2010: The R’s won their tantrum but

We influenced public policy forever:

The big picture isn’t about winning or keeping power. It’s about using it. I’ve made this argument before, but David Frum, the former speechwriter to President Bush, has made it better. In March, when Democrats secured enough votes to pass the bill, he castigated fellow conservatives who looked forward to punishing Pelosi and President Obama “with a big win in the November 2010 elections.” Frum observed:

Legislative majorities come and go. This healthcare bill is forever. A win in November is very poor compensation for this debacle now. … No illusions please: This bill will not be repealed. Even if Republicans scored a 1994 style landslide in November, how many votes could we muster to re-open the “doughnut hole” and charge seniors more for prescription drugs? How many votes to re-allow insurers to rescind policies when they discover a pre-existing condition? How many votes to banish 25 year olds from their parents’ insurance coverage?

Exactly. A party that loses a House seat can win it back two years later, as Republicans just proved. But a party that loses a legislative fight against a middle-class health care entitlement never restores the old order. Pretty soon, Republicans will be claiming the program as their own. Indeed, one of their favorite arguments against this year’s health care bill was that it would cut funding for Medicare. Now they’re pledging to rescind those cuts. In 30 years, they’ll be accusing Democrats of defunding Obamacare.

Most bills aren’t more important than elections. This one was. Take it from Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican leader. Yesterday, in his election victory speech at the Heritage Foundation, he declared, “Health care was the worst piece of legislation that’s passed during my time in the Senate.” McConnell has been in the Senate for 26 years. He understands the bill’s significance: It’s a huge structural change in the relationship between the public, the economy, and the government.

So laugh that you managed to convince the country to vote in your idiots. You still lost.

But the country won.

November 7, 2010 Posted by | 2010, 2010 election, health care, political/social, politics, politics/social | Leave a comment

6 November PM (2010)

Some interesting election analysis stuff

There have been some simplistic conclusions about the recent midterm elections. Some are saying “this represents a rejection of Barack Obama”. Some point out the (true) fact that most of the losses came from “blue dog” districts. I’ve given some numbers here and here. My point is much of this was a case of Republicans “coming home”; think of this as a “regression to the mean” effect.

Yes, this isn’t a surprise. But when one tries to make finer conclusions such as “support for the health care bill hurt/didn’t hurt” one has to go beyond “who won” and “who lost” in as “X number of D’s voted against HCR and lost where as Y number voted for it and a much smaller percentage lost seats”. Those numbers are true but misleading; here is why.

I thank Dr. Andy for sending me this in the comments. I am puzzled as why he is so giddy given what this election means for science (example , more examples here) You’d think that someone who got a Ph. D. in biology and a M. D. would have more respect for science than that.
But get ready for 2012 where we’ll see Presidential candidates like this one:

or these:

Perhaps he should bone up on blood letting so he can help patients heal by bleeding out their “evil humors”?

More election/poll analysis
Here Nate Silver explains the difference between “house effect” (polling differently than the other pollsters on a candidate or perhaps on the candidates of a particular type) and “bias” (being off in your predictions).

Example (and I am making this up for demonstration): say you were looking at polls for the Illinois governor’s race. Say most polls showed Brady up by 4, but one poll showed Quinn up by 1. The single poll that consistently had a higher number for Quinn is said to have a “house effect”. However that poll would have proved to not be “biased” as that seemingly “pro-Quinn” poll turned out to be the only correct one.

On the other hand if one poll always had Democrats getting 4 points more than they actually got, that poll would be “biased”.

Political humor Now this is a close election: two candidates ended up getting exactly the same number of votes (though 18 votes are still out which could resolve the election). Look at how the law requires the election to be decided in the event that those votes go 9 apiece.

Hacking: most of the time, I disapprove of hacking or other “denial of service” schemes. But this computer “pranking” of Sarah Palin’s facebook page IS funny…and harmless.

Political Thoughts: What Now?
It is clear that income inequality is growing. In general, Republicans don’t have a problem with this as they tend to see life as a contest with “winners” and “losers” (e. g., at a marathon race, no one complains that the winner will finish in less than one third of the time of the slow pokes in the back of the pack). Remember that the Gilded Age is a type of Republican Utopia.

Yes, I know that I am well to the left of most of America; other liberals recognize this as well. Had we compromised just a tiny bit MORE in the Senate, we might have had a trigger-driven public option in the health insurance bill (Senator Olympia Snowe seemed to be interested in this). Yes, the Republicans were more interested in saying “no” rather than honestly engaging in policy formation.

With that in mind, I agree with Paul Krugman: I am for keeping Nancy Pelosi as minority leader; we’d look weak if we didn’t and she has shown skill.

And no, there is no “moral equivalence” between the two sides. None.

(text here)

November 7, 2010 Posted by | 2010, 2010 election, 2012 election, Barack Obama, creationism, Democrats, evolution, political humor, political/social, politics, politics/social, poll, Republican, republican party, republicans, republicans political/social, republicans politics, sarah palin, science, statistics | Leave a comment

As of Now: 52 Democratic Incumbents who ran and lost; most were from very Red CDs

Here is a list of Congressional Districts in which an incumbent Democrat ran and lost AND the seat was filled by a Republican (WV 1: the incumbent Democrat lost in the primary and the primary winner lost in the general election)

I’ve listed the CD’s along with the Presidential winner in 2008, 2004, and 2000. The last number is the number of times that a Republican president won that district (data from here)

So: 26 of these losses came from districts in which 2008, 2004 and 2000 by the Republican presidential candidate.
14 of these had the Republican president win 2 out of the 3 times
6 of these had the Republican president winning once
6 had elected the Democrat every time.

Or, put another way, 40 of the 52 Democratic incumbents who lost represented “red” or “reddish” districts.
This does not include the currently undecided seats nor those in which the sitting Democrat didn’t run for reelection and the seat switched hands.

WV 1 Mc, B, B 3
AL 2 Mc, B, B 3
AZ 1 Mc, B, B 3
AZ 5 Mc, B, B 3
CA 20 O, K, G 0
CO 3 Mc, B, B 3
CO 4 Mc, B, B 3
FL 2 Mc, B, B 3
FL 8 O, B, B 1
FL 22 O, K, G 0
FL 24 Mc, B, B 3
GA 8 Mc, B, B 3
ID 1 Mc, B, B 3
IL 11 O, B, B 2
IL 14 O, B, B 2
IL 17 O, K, G 0
IN 9 Mc, B, B 3
MD 1 Mc, B, B 3
MI 7 O, B, B 1
MI 8 O, B, B 1
MS 1 Mc, B, B 3
MS 4 Mc, B, B 3
MO 4 Mc, B, B 3
MN 8 O, K, G 0
NV 3 O, B, G 2
NH 1 O, B, B 1
NJ 3 O, B, G 2
NM 2 Mc, B, B 3
NY 13 Mc, B, G 2
NY 19 O, B, B 2
NY 20 O, B, B 2
NY 24 O, B, B 2
NC 2 O, B, B 2
ND Mc, B, B 3
OH 1 O, B, B 2
OH 6 Mc, B, B 3
OH 15 O, Tie, B 1-1-1
OH 16 Mc, B, B 3
OH 18 Mc, B, B 3
PA 3 Tie, B, B 2
PA 8 O, K, G 0
PA 10 Mc, B, B 3
PA 11 O, K, G 0
SC 5 Mc, B, B 3
SD Mc, B, B 3
TN 4 Mc, B, B 3
TX 17 Mc, B, B 3
TX 23 O, B, B 2
TX 27 O, B, Tie 1-1-1
VA 2 O, B, B 2
VA 5 Mc, B, B 3
WI 8 O, B, B 2

November 6, 2010 Posted by | 2008 Election, 2010, Democrats, political/social, politics, politics/social, Republican, republican party, republicans, republicans political/social, republicans politics | 5 Comments

Christine O’Donnell Bashes GOP ‘Cannibalism’ For Killing Her Campaign (VIDEO)

Christine O’Donnell’s defeat in Delaware’s election for U.S. Senate on Tuesday night didn’t stop her from making the rounds on the morning talkshow circuit the following day to discuss her loss to Democrat Chris Coons. During an appearance on CNN’s “American Morning,” O’Donnell described the outcome of the race as a “symptom of Republican cannibalism.”

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November 4, 2010 Posted by | 2010, big butts, moron, politics, Republican, republicans | Leave a comment