Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Voter/Consumer Research Responds

As promised, the response from the Voter/Consumer Research company:

Christopher, thank you for your interest.

While we don’t release specific data on any of the studies fielded at our phone bank, I can tell you the average percentage of interviews for nationwide studies that are conducted in Spanish. On average, for studies that have a nationwide sample, conducted with registered voters only, the average number of responses in Spanish is 2.4%.

Brenda Wigger
Voter/Consumer Research
That was prompt.

So...that's the end of research. The 2000 Census gives information on people over 18 who speak English poorly, but that doesn't have anything to do with voter registration; and I can't get the RNC figures to work on.

The 17% gap between the two polls taken 3 days apart, must go unexplained.

Monday, May 29, 2006

A Marine Speaks Out

From the Washington Post, courtesy of Drudgreport:
Mr. Murtha's Rush to Judgment

Sunday, May 28, 2006; B06

A year ago I was charged with two counts of premeditated murder and with other war crimes related to my service in Iraq. My wife and mother sat in a Camp Lejeune courtroom for five days while prosecutors painted me as a monster; then autopsy evidence blew their case out of the water, and the Marine Corps dropped all charges against me ["Marine Officer Cleared in Killing of Two Iraqis," news story, May 27, 2005].

So I know something about rushing to judgment, which is why I am so disturbed by the remarks of Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.) regarding the Haditha incident ["Death Toll Rises in Haditha Attack, GOP Leader Says," news story, May 20]. Mr. Murtha said, "Our troops overreacted because of the pressure on them, and they killed innocent civilians in cold blood."

In the United States, we have a civil and military court system that relies on an investigatory and judicial process to make determinations based on evidence. The system is not served by such grand pronouncements of horror and guilt without the accuser even having read the investigative report.

Mr. Murtha's position is particularly suspect when he is quoted by news services as saying that the strain of deployment "has caused them [the Marines] to crack in situations like this." Not only is he certain of the Marines' guilt but he claims to know the cause, which he conveniently attributes to a policy he opposes.

Members of the U.S. military serving in Iraq need more than Mr. Murtha's pseudo-sympathy. They need leaders to stand with them even in the hardest of times. Let the courts decide if these Marines are guilty. They haven't even been charged with a crime yet, so it is premature to presume their guilt -- unless that presumption is tied to a political motive.


Jacksonville, N.C.

The writer served as a Marine enlisted man in the Persian Gulf War and most recently as a platoon commander in Iraq.
Just so.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Cracking the RNC Code?

There's plenty of dust roiled by RNC Senior Advisor Matthew Dowd's "internal" memo to the powers that be. An example of the memo's startling conclusions:
Public polls show that Americans want the government to solve the immigration problem. The public strongly supports a comprehensive approach. For instance...Eighty percent (80%) in the FOX News poll (4/4-4/5) support increasing the number of officers policing the border, and Gallup (4/6-4/7) shows 81% believe increasing the number of Border Patrol agents will be an effective way to reduce illegal immigration...More than two-thirds of voters – and equally large numbers of Republicans – support creating a temporary worker program. FOX News (5/16-5/18) found 63% of all voters support a temporary worker program and 63% of Republicans supporting it too. Similarly, CBS (5/16-5/17) found 61% of Americans and 62% of Republicans support a temporary worker program.
…Examining RNC internal polling sheds even more light on the immigration debate. Our most recent poll (5/21-5/23) by Voter/Consumer Research finds:
Overwhelming support exists for a temporary worker program. 80% of all voters, 83% of Republicans, and 79% of self-identified conservatives support a temporary worker program as long as immigrants pay taxes and obey the law.
My inner nerd refused to buy this pig in a poke. Since when has anything that excites 4/5ths of self-proclaimed conservatives, also captured the minds of 4/5ths of the electorate? I seriously doubt we can swing that many self-declared Republicans! At our best, we could swing 2/3 of the electorate behind us. And conversely, that which excites the majority of non-conservatives will not reverberate within our Right-Wing Echo Chamber.

A gag reflex is all well and good, but I had to start the detective work to explain this anomaly from Mt. Olympus.

The first scrutiny of Mr. Dowd's latest sales pitch reveals: he fudges. A lot.
...in the FOX News poll (4/4-4/5) support...and Gallup (4/6-4/7) shows...FOX News (5/16-5/18) found...CBS (5/16-5/17) found...Our most recent poll (5/21-5/23) by Voter/Consumer Research...
Surely this is bad technique? Surely a Senior Advisor isn't arguing the President's mid-May address changed nobody's mind--surely those April poll results ought to gather dust in the archives?

Apart from using polls from all over the calendar to make a point, Mr. Dowd is very selective in his consideration of poll results. I can't get under the hood of that CBS poll, but FOXNews graciously makes theirs available:
Allowing illegal immigrants who have jobs in the United States to apply for legal, temporary worker status?
Approve--Oppose--Depends--Don’t know
That's as Dowd reported; but check out the very next question!
Trying to send as many illegal immigrants back to their home countries as possible?
Approve--Oppose--Depends--Don’t know
Of course, there's plenty of argument about how many deportations are "possible".
It's a lot more than we've been doing.
2/3 of Republicans want more deportations; 1/2 of Democrats; a firm majority of the electorate overall.

Mr. Dowd must have blinked when he transcribed the FoxNews poll.

(BTW: Apparently most Americans want illegal aliens to get in line to apply for the guest worker program, and then want the line raided by la migra. Muhahaha.)

I tried to find the internals for the Voter/Consumer Research poll of 5/21-5/23. Their website hasn't got any links to poll results; it does have this interesting paragraph under "Quantitative Data Collection":
Bilingual Interviewing.
Throughout the years, we have successfully administered thousands of bilingual research projects ranging from customer satisfaction surveys to complex technology related surveys. Our bilingual interviewing team proves to be one of the best in the nation.
Our first priority in considering an interviewer to be on our bilingual staff is they must have demonstrated outstanding performance as an interviewer on a repeated basis. The interviewer is then required to successfully pass a Spanish reading test. Once this process is complete, the interviewer can then join our Spanish team.
As part of our CATI system, English-only speaking interviewers can route Spanish calls to Spanish speaking interviewers, thereby allowing them call back the respondent to begin the survey in Spanish.
Well well.
It would be folly to argue direct causation between reliance on Spanish, and any stance on immigration reform: think of the ongoing differences, politically, between Olvera Street and Little Havana.

But I don't think it can be denied that it is important, for the results of the survey, that the number of Spanish-speakers remain proportionate to the general public at large--else, as with any other disproportionate demographic factor, a huge skew is introduced that won't be calculated into the margin of error.

Was the VCR poll bilingual?
Was the sample skewed?

I can't check online, the internals of the poll aren't presented.

So I asked Dan Kessler, Voter/Consumer Research's Vice President and given email contact.
Just a curious private citizen with a question regarding this poll.
What percentage of the survey sample responded in Spanish?

Thanks for your attention,

(The Yell) Jr
There my inquiry must rest for the time being. I'll post any reply I may receive.

In the meantime, as an exercise for the reader:
Can anybody explain how a FOXNews survey of 900 adults on May 16-18 found 63% of America wanted the guest worker program, but the VCR poll done three days later found support at 80%?

Saturday, May 27, 2006


I've been posting elsewhere so much I've been neglecting my own blog!

I don't know why so many high officials of the US government feel the need to blurt out warnings of imminent doom.

It doesn't serve the cause of justice, or our military, or any political faction either, to rush to judgement. It may be personally useful to these folks to be known unto the media as reliable sources. They deserve to be known unto us, as unreliable public servants.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Dumb, Stupid, Bad, Wrong...

Talk about coming full circle... The House of Representatives thinks nobody on earth can execute a search of a Congressman's Capitol office...
(White House spokesman Tony) Snow also said the Justice Department executed search warrants and didn't "raid" the office. "I think using the term raid makes it sound a little like the calvary is storming into the halls of Congress," he said.

The search warrant was issued by a federal district judge, based on an affidavit from FBI investigators outlining some of the evidence that has accumulated in the case, including video tape of Rep. William Jefferson accepting $100,000 in $100 bills from an FBI informant, who agreed to have her conversations with the congressman taped.

Agents later found all but $10,000 of the cash — in marked bills — hidden in a freezer in one of the congressman's homes, according to the affidavit.

His homes in New Orleans and the Washington area were searched by FBI agents last August.

"Nothing I have learned in the last 48 hours leads me to believe that there was any necessity to change the precedent established over those 219 years," Hastert, an Illinois Republican, said in a statement Monday.

Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi of California said congressional independence from the executive branch protects Americans from abuses of power.

"Justice Department investigations must be conducted in accordance with Constitutional protections and historical precedent," she said.
So the party that impeached President Clinton for lying to a grand jury, wants to argue that a federal judge can't issue a search warrant against a Congressman in a felony case?

Equality before the law is our 219-year-old tradition! Has the House GOP forgotten what stinking crimes were carried out under the Capitol Dome in the early 1990s? The House bank? The House post office?

How far down does this imaginary immunity from the combined power of the other two branches of government extend? No search warrants? How about subpoenas? How about arrests?

How can our guys be stupid enough to push this six months before the election? What percentage of the United States electorate gets a warm fuzzy knowing their Congressman has immunities that their own homes lack?

Maranatha O Lord!

Monday, May 22, 2006

DVC: Dark Portent

I saw DVC this weekend.

There are plenty of great rebuttals to the film, and Lex Communis has most of them.

I think the best way for a Christian to refute the DVC is to open with the Resurrection. That's something every Christian will feel comfortably confident talking about, and something Dan Brown's novel and film skip altogether.

If there's no Resurrection, there's no point playing around with a "miracle gene" handed down through two thousand years of Frenchmen (2000 years of "free-thinking" French women and no bastardy?)
If Christ died and came back, where's the fraud in proclaiming his divinity?--And in spite of Prof. Joseph Campbell, Christ is not held to have died and arisen intact and unchanged as Osirus or any other god-myth I ever heard of. The Risen Christ, in the time before the Ascension, was a clearly different personality than the man who wept blood in Gethsemane. He was physically unrecognizable, He liked to teleport to and fro, He really enjoyed breaking up dinner parties of the Apostles. I don't mock--He was preparing some pretty dense friends of his for a lifetime of roadwork, spreading the news to all the world that Jesus was a lot more than just some inspiring dude from Nazereth. Snap out of it, I Am Who Am!

As for the stupid stereotypes of Catholics: anybody who thinks flagellant monks tour the capitals of Europe conversing in Latin--apart from believing they'd pack a Glock for God--can be stood off with Stultus est.

Yeah, 'it's just fiction'. So's Birth of a Nation. And if you don't accept the social context of the drama, then the emotional reactions of the characters to that social context will seem bizarre. If you don't think free negroes will destroy the Great White Way, you won't enjoy Birth of a Nation, which is a drama about fictional characters confronting that 'crisis'. Likewise, if you don't think faith in Christ is the worst thing to happen to humanity, you won't really enjoy The DaVinci Code.

Apart from that--apart from the blasphemy, bigotry, and historical relativism-- it's talky.

The police psychiatrist explaining Norman Bates' psychotic spree--Indiana Jones explaining the Ark of the Covenant--Morpheus explaining the Matrix--Gandalf explaining the One Ring-- not only was Tebing's explanation of the Grail longer than any of those, it felt like it was longer than all of them put together. Ron Howard tries to help by creating images of dancing pagans lynched by cross-toting barbarians, but he'd have done better to throw the money into tighter editing. If you consider those four examples above, you'll notice the industry is becoming more and more forgiving of lengthy speeches.

Not a good thing.

Inside of five years, expect a thriller where the heroes dodge the posse by hiding in the gallery during the State of the Union address, and the director stays with them for twenty minutes.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Rep. Calvert Responds

This week I wrote my congressman, Ken Calvert, asking him to oppose any amnesty bill.

His reply:

May 18, 2006

Mr. (The Yell) , Jr.
(The Laird's House)
Riverside, CA 92509-6225

Dear Mr. (TheYell),

Thank you for contacting me regarding immigration reform. I
appreciate the opportunity to respond.

I am categorically opposed to giving amnesty to illegal immigrants
and support enforcement efforts to gain control of our borders.
Recent protests by pro-immigrant rights groups will not influence
my commitment to controlling the borders and opposing amnesty.
I think the May Day protests were rather ironic since the economy
rolled on just fine and many people reported that the freeway was
free of gridlock.

As you may know, I helped write a provision included in a recent
bill, numbered H.R. 4437, addressing illegal immigration that
passed the House by a vote of 239-182. Specifically, the provision
that would require all employers to use an automatic employment
verification program that would check all employees' name and
Social Security Number. A voluntary program, called the Basic
Pilot Program, is currently in use in all 50 states and has run
successfully for a decade. I support making this program
mandatory because I believe it is one way to turn off the "job
magnet" and stem the tide of illegal immigration.

H.R. 4437 included a number of other proposals to enforce
immigration laws including extending the U.S.-Mexico border
fence for the entire length of the border, eliminating the diversity
visa lottery, and increasing penalties for illegal immigrants and
those who encourage illegal migration. The Senate is considering
an immigration reform package and then a House-Senate
conference committee will work out the differences between the
Senate's version and H.R. 4437. I will continue to support
legislation focusing on an enforcement-first approach and will
encourage my colleagues to do the same.

You may also be interested to know that I am committed to making
English the official language of the U.S. I cosponsored a bill, H.R.
997, that would declare English to be the official language. The
attention given to a Spanish-language version of the Star Spangled
Banner simply proved our need to declare English the official
language of our country.

Once again, thank you for contacting me. Please feel free to do so
again on any issue of importance to you. In the meantime, I invite
you to visit my Internet website at www.house.gov/calvert.

Ken Calvert
Member of Congress
We'll see what he does when the conference committee comes back; I feel better about his attitude going into that process.

Monday, May 15, 2006

No Sale

The President's address was a disappointing rehash of the same proposals he's been making for several years.

I believe the guest worker program is illegal discrimination on the basis of national origin.
Further, I believe it deprives the market of a vital corrective mechanism. When employers offer too low compensation for duties, they will suffer a lack of qualified applicants. The solution is to offer better compensation or lighter duties, not to import Third World laborers.
And finally, whenever we have tried to tie workers to employers by law--whether indenture, sharecropping, or company credit--the result has been exploitation.

It is inane, bordering on deceitful, to speak of the cooperation of state, local, and Mexican governments in halting illegal immigration. Los Angeles, the California legislature, and the Mexican government, are all lining up to spend tax revenues to expedite the hiring of illegal labor. To wait for them to act as certain Arizona and Colorado entities in cracking down on illegal immigration is futile. To offer no penalties for such refusal is counterproductive.

It is pointless to stress the tough requirements of a guest worker program, when you announce that long-term violators have an equity claim against deportation. The law, as written, does not care how long an illegal alien has been in residence. Whether one day or ten years, it is still illegal to employ them. The President and much of the Senate wishes that would just go away. That's amnesty.

It is amnesty, to rewrite the law, rather than enforce it, because you think it "unwise" and "unrealistic" to perform your duty.

The bulk of illegal laborers in the United States have no desire to renounce all foriegn allegiance and pledge themselves solely as Americans; it is no penalty to them to restrict their ability to make such a pledge while permitting their enjoyment of the black market economy.

I'm going to write my Congressman and ask him to hold the line against any compromise of American soveriegnity--such as the President's plan. I not only think that's the principled reaction the House should take...it is the smart plan heading into the election.

Some people are already claiming this marks the end of the Bush Presidency. Not quite; I think he has staked out a losing position, but it has been the losing position he's had all along, really. It probably indicates a lack of influence for the rest of this Congressional term, speaking as someone who hopes the Congress gets up on its hind legs and stands him off. But, since I think that'd preserve the GOP majority, I don't see that as a loss.

The main reason I think the President will personally overcome the negative attitude towards his policy, is his attitude. He continues to be a man whom you can oppose but appreciate. This was a firm rejection of the "base" (and I think the majority of the country as well) but it was not a slap in the face.

There are too many in the Party who run out and denounce us conservatives as 'immature', 'crybabies', 'fanatics', 'Nazis', people who just don't understand that wanting the black market economy shut down cold is impossible. These 'Republicans' make it clear that we're intolerable brats who need to shut up and obey orders.

And oh yeah---get out the vote.

Everytime those clowns get in front of the camera and make the "Stomp the Base!" speech, conservatives think: If Democrats win, this guy gets fired, and after a term in the cold we can come back with decent Republicans; but if he's re-elected, he'll be spitting on us 'til he commutes to floor votes in a motorized wheelchair.

President Bush has the class to chill the schadenfreude.
We think: This guy is a decent Republican, he just needs kicked in the ass 'til his head pops out. We can't throw him to the Democrats.

That appreciation should carry the Party through 2006; but I don't like to think what will happen in 2008 when the jerks run the show.

Anyhow, that's remote speculation.

For tonight: Thank you, Mr. President.

But no thanks.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Paul Mirengoff of Powerlineblog has this to say about conservative GOP defectors:
First, conservatives need to understand that the failure of Republicans to govern as strong conservatives is not the result of moral defects (although some can be found). The core problem is that conservatives do not make up a majority of the electorate. Republicans need the base, but they also need swing voters -- they can't win without both. A defeat at the polls won't change this. Instead, it will give liberals a chance to govern. They likely will do this in a center-left fashion or worse, and conservatives will be the main losers.
While it is definitely true that most of the American public would not describe itself as strong conservative, it can't be shown that the bulk of the electorate will vote against a conservative government. That hasn't been true since the Gingrich Revolution in 1994. The GOP did not have an electoral mandate to eliminate baseline-budgeting from social spending, but they not only pushed it, they won it, and were not booted for it by the non-conservative majority.

There is a further contemporary example to refute this theory of the anti-conservative electorate: Pennsylvania. The GOP spent dozens of millions of dollars two years ago to re-elect Senator Arlen Specter, smothering the more conservative challenger Pat Toomey on the grounds that the PA electorate just wasn't conservative, and Sen. Specter's blend of gray was just right.

Now the GOP is spending dozens of millions to re-elect Sen. Rick Santorum, a much more solid conservative, in the same state.

If that's at all possible, then why wasn't Pat Toomey viable?

Let me borrow military terminology for a discussion of political battles.

Almost two years ago I argued conservatives are politically motivated by the strategic goal of altering federal policy.

We're now being told flat-out, that altering federal policy in a conservative direction is tactically possible--the legislative votes could be won, but operationally undesirable--future elections might become more difficult. Because of the strategic fixation of conservatives, that approach is doomed to alienate conservatives.

The re-election of both Senators Specter and Santorum would be a tactical coup; but a strategic failure. Sadly, the political leadership of the party believes that strategic failure isn't a liability.

Blogging on the Fly

Job-blogging as my computer seems to reject internet access.

So now the USA Today wants us to be outraged that NSA continues to be effective in hampering terrorist telecommunications. Federal law has been pretty clear on the issue: computer scans of telecom data are constitutional in ways human surveillance is not, because computers can be relied on to ignore context and capture only the pertinent information.

Also, does anybody remember the Clinton counterterrorism database? To counter the threat of domestic terrorism from the extreme right, Clinton's Justice Dept. monitored political activity and created a database with names, dates, and political meetings of hundreds of Americans. Cross-referenced by name and subject; request data on anti-abortion activism and you'd get Catholic bishops as well as the Army of God.

Bear that in mind the next time somebody touts all the increased spending Clinton called up to fight terrorism. And whenever somebody moans that an NSA computer has a database of call activity to help write search algorithms.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Where's the Beef?

It's a matter of historical fact that for over 20 years the GOP has been wooing conservatives on a national level with the theme that the GOP stood eager and ready to enact the conservative agenda, only it was frustrated by the lack of institutional control. Partisan control of the branches of government would translate into ideological reform of federal policy--we were told.

And it worked wonderfully: the House changed hands for the first time in forty years; the partisan majority in the Senate increased with each election; and Bush won re-election with the highest turnout as both absolute numbers and percentage in decades.

But so what? "Where's the beef?"

Some very smart people--Hugh Hewitt is probably the most prominent example-- have made the very dumb mistake of thinking this is a permanent formula for bringing energetic conservatives to the polls.

In fact, they think they've hit the winning solution to permanent partisan control: promise conservatives that they'll enact the conservative agenda ASAP, and promise the center that they will actually do no such thing for the forseeable future.

That is why the "brains" of the GOP are willing to throw about $100 million into Pennsylvania, to elect both Sen. Santorum and Sen. Specter. The fact that they are each promising to butt heads on policy is literally irrelevant.

The end result is a very sparse record of achievement compared to similar periods when one party had majorities in both chambers and the White House--such as FDR's tenure, for example.

A Hapsburg empress, looking back on the revolts of 1848, said "The country was administered, not governed." I get the same sense that the GOP would rather punt on every issue, than offend any voters--or RINOs-- with a solution. And that is not just a conservative or Republican problem, it is an American problem.

Straight-Talkin' John: Shaddap!

Sen. McCain was on Imus and opted for an America with clean government and no respect for the First Amendment, over an America where the First Amendment was respected and the government was corrupt.

The problem with McCain's approach to bad government, is that he can't accept the need for personnel changes. That's the traditional approach, which led to the creation of the FBI in the 1920s--to improve American government, by ensuring that criminals are run out of office and into the federal penitentiary.

Senatus McCain has a disease common to Washington, which is to imagine that certain Key People are essential to the operation of the national government. It is lucky for the survival of our democratic system that they are granted office under our Constitution; should the Constitution conflict with their natural primacy, then the Constitution has gotta go.

The solution to officials incapable of resisting bribes, or offering inteference to regulators to incur favors, is unemployment. Anything but the cold turkey treatment will result in further submission to temptation.

McCain needs to hear that until he gets it. Whether he thinks it corrupt or not.

Interrupting the Stream of Consciousness

I'm beginning to realize how out-of-sync my life has become over the last two years.

First there was my lengthy period of under- and unemployment. Then I got hired full-time for graveyard. At least 40 hours a week but no regular schedule.

The days and weeks and months have blurred together seamlessly. I forget what day of the week it is. With the rainy weather these past few months, I also forget how much time has been passing.

Now that I've taken on the paralegal course, I'm having to remember how to adhere to a weekly schedule again. Certain assignments are due in 138 hours; I need to set aside valuable alert-and-awake time to complete them.

Finding that sort of time at all has been difficult lately. As I train another night clerk I have no time online at work (a perk to keep me awake) and the lack of constant responsibility and calculation, with my 8-day workweek, was putting me to sleep standing up.

This next week I must make the effort to knock out that court-attendance project. Also to keep current on my reading for the quiz, and complete the briefings. As well as schedule appointments, make appointments. There's also the library research to do. And oh yeah--sleep.

I'm only taking one course a quarter, which will stretch out my student career to two years or so. I asked some classmates how this starter course compares in workload to some of the other required courses.

They just laughed. I will definitely need to get organized. After I nap for a day.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Zardoz Speaks to You

With the awesome authority and integrity of a giant stone head floating overhead, the Associated Press decrees:
Immigrants Demonstrate Economic Clout
AP - Mon May 1, 4:32 PM ET
Illegal immigrants made their point Monday: Without them, Americans would pay higher prices and a lot of work wouldn't get done. As nationwide demonstrations thinned the work force in businesses from meat-packing plants to construction sites to behind the counter at McDonald's, economists said there can be no dispute within the context of the contentious immigration issue that the group wields significant clout in the U.S. economy.
That's the story, in its entirety, as of 4:45 p.m. PDT on Monday.

Perhaps the Senate needs to hold hearings into the domestic intelligence gathering capabilities of the Associated Press. Figuring that people were supposed to start showing up for work about 1 a.m. PDT (4 a.m. on the East Coast) the AP put together a national survey of employment and price conditions throughout the United States in a mere 13 hours.

Of course it was a rush job; so we can't really expect the AP story to explain:
how it knows all those walkouts were illegal aliens, and not sympathetic citizens;
a single example of a price going up because illegal aliens weren't present;
a single example of a cancelled work order because illegal aliens weren't present;
a single business closed down due to nobody showing up for work;
a single economist lending her name to the article's indisputable conclusion.
Of course we can't expect that just 13 hours after the event started!

And any suggestion that the AP wrote the story two weeks ago and just e-published the first paragraph by mistake, marks you as a member of the right-wing echo chamber. So don't crack wise!

UPDATE: 4 hours later AP has rewritten the article.