Can You Poll Me Now?

Nate recently addressed the topic of polling and cell phone proliferation last week. I’ve been poking around to see if I could find anything substantive to add to the discussion. So far I haven’t found much. Nate correctly points out that fully 25% of the adult population no longer has a landline. He posits that this translates into a disadvantage to Democrats in polling.

My take on this has to do with the young adult vote. If people in the 18-25 demographic turn out in great numbers then I think the bias will turn against Republicans. I think the use of landlines is even less in this group. My guess is well over half of this cohort are cell phone only. And my other guess is this age group probably thinks the Republicans are as bat-shit crazy as I do.

I haven’t found any examples of people looking into this very seriously but one thing for certain: this ain’t your father’s polling. If my suspicions are correct, then the only people being consistently polled are landline users age 40 and higher. It seems reasonable to conclude that this demo might skew conservatively.

I have yet to see any satisfactory explanation that addresses this topic aside from Nate’s. I would welcome any input or references from anyone out there that adequately covers the steadily increased use of cell phones and their effect on political polling or any credible pollster that is taking real steps towards including cell phone usage in their numbers.


About Mr. Universe

Mr. Universe is a musician/songwriter and an ex-patriot of the south. He currently lives and teaches at a University in the Pacific Northwest. He is a long distance hiker who has hiked the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail. He is also an author and woodworker. An outspoken political voice, he takes a decidedly liberal stance in politics.
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111 Responses to Can You Poll Me Now?

  1. Mr. Universe says:

    If anybody is poking around over at the NYT, please drop a hint that this is being discussed here. I’d like to see some input from everybody on this.

  2. shrinkers says:

    I’m way over the 40+ line. I have cellphone only. I’ve never been polled. I’m far left. Don’t know what any of that means.Except — you under-40 crowd? Are you listening? Not all of us old farts are Teapers. Try to remember that the flower children of the 1960s are now over 50.If you don’t know what “flower children” are, rest assured — we’re not Teapers.

  3. shortchain says:

    Coincidentally, we just got a call from Rasmussen reports. Had them put us on their do-not-call list. I haven’t been polled for 10 years, and I’ve talked to many people who do the same.My question is: what is the effect of an angry subset of the sample space? By that, I mean that the angry people are likely to be more willing to be polled (this is akin to the “shy Tory” phenomenon). I’m pretty confident that this question can only be answered after the fact.

  4. Morty says:

    I’m over 60 and haven’t had a landline in 7 years. I’ve not voted for a Republican since 1980.

  5. Jeff says:

    I thought that when Nate addressed the cellphone issue, he said that he didn’t think it was a problem — YET. My recollection is that he said that pollsters typically weigh their samples, so that if people 18-29 should be 14% of the population, but their sample consists of only 7% in that cohort, then they would double-count their responses.I imagine that would work as long as the no-cell crowd had similar demographics to the land-line folks. Since pollsters already do all sorts of weighing and manipulating of the raw data (how do they really have any confidence in likely vs. registered voter distinctions?), this is just one more factor to deal with.And concerning the question of “how can they be accurate if I’ve never been polled?” When you consider the number of people and phone lines in the country, compared to the exceedingly small sample size needed for a poll, then it’s more astonishing to be called (although on Sunday I received TWO polling calls in the course of 3 hours, but neither was about politics).

  6. Realist says:

    @Jeff,I imagine that would work as long as the no-cell crowd had similar demographics to the land-line folks.So do I, but I don’t think the no-cell crowd has similar demographics to the land-line folks. While I recognize that anecdonal evidence is hardly evidence, it’s all I have in this area. And the anecdotal evidence I have says that the more liberal a young person is, the more likely that person is cell-only.I suspect it has to do with the very nature of liberal vs. conservative. Conservatives are, by nature, more…conservative, which (in a correlative fashion) makes them less likely to embrace the latest fads. So if the movement is toward those newfangled wireless phones at the expense of a landline, liberals will lead the charge.I realize I’m overgeneralizing, but there seems to be something to it, from the people I know.

  7. shrinkers says:

    I suspect that everyone will be surprised in two weeks. And I mean that literally, everyone on both sides.And the next two years will be interesting. Sarah Palin just threatened to kill the Republican Party. O’Donnell admitted she knows nothing about the Constitution. Feingold is ahead in his race. So is Pelosi. So is Reid.The Teaper candidate for Governor here in Minnesota is trailing badly. Miller is fighting for air. So is Rand Paul.If the Teapers win, they will try to destroy the country. If they lose, they will claim conspiracy, and try to destroy the country. The Republicans (as filistro has often pointed out) have played the expectations game badly. Anything short of a billion additional Republican seats will be seen as a loss.We live in interesting times.

  8. Mule Rider says:

    I have a feeling this “cell phone issue” is to the Left in 2010 what the “Bradley Effect” was for the Right in 2008…something (false) to pin their hopes on so that they could convince themselves of a more favorable outcome for their respective side come Election Day. Sorry, not gonna happen. As it’s been pointed out numerous times, just because the 18-29 crowd is harder to reach doesn’t mean it’s impossible to get a reasonable pulse for how they feel and who they’re going to vote for. Anyway, for what it’s worth, I’m cell-phone only, 31 years of age, and not planning on voting for a Democrat in this election.

  9. Mule Rider says:

    Seriously, would it be possible for you to get away from the over-the-top hyperbole:-Sarah Palin just threatened to kill the Republican Party.-If the Teapers win, they will try to destroy the country. -If they lose, they will claim conspiracy, and try to destroy the country.-Anything short of a billion additional Republican seats will be seen as a loss.or outright lies:-Feingold is ahead in his race.-Miller is fighting for air. So is Rand Paul.You probably don’t care what I think, but I don’t see how anyone else can take you seriously when you spew nonsense that far off-base.

  10. filistro says:

    -Anything short of a billion additional Republican seats will be seen as a loss.Yes, that was shocking hyperbole. He should have said “anything short of a MILLION additional Republican seats…” 🙂

  11. parksie555 says:

    Shrinkers – Are you nuts? There have been 15 polls of the Wis Senate race in the last month. Feingold led in exactly one of those polls, and it was almost a month ago and of RV, not LV. Feingold is toast. You really want to bet on a race Nate has the R at a 90% + win percentage?And Reid is at best tied. Of the three polls since the the beginning of October that Reid leads in one was RV, and another was known Dem shill PPP.And as far as KY, the only poll Conway has led in since the beginning of Sept was RV.PA Senate I am worried about. Philly is a cesspool of SEIU and welfare leeches and the AFCSME ad dollars are absolutely blanketing the local airwaves. Hopefully it rains here on election day and the lazy bastards stay home.

  12. shrinkers says:

    @parksie, MuleMade ya look! :-)Seriously, I don’t care all that much who is ahead in the early polling. Midterms mean the party in power almost invariably loses some seats. In this case, that will be particularly so since the Democratic tidal wave of the last two election cycles gave them a bunch of seats in districts that are traditionally red. And while the DEms have been trying to govern for the last two years, the R’s have been 24/7 campaigning and propagandizing. So yeah, there’ll be loses. But as I said, I suspect there will be plenty of surprises to go around.@filistro – I took some poetic license with the numbers on the expectations game. You’re right, mere millions is closer to the mark. To hear the Republicans tell it, there shouldn’t be a single Democrat left in either chamber of Congress.

  13. shrinkers says:

    @Mule Rider I have a feeling this “cell phone issue” is to the Left in 2010 what the “Bradley Effect” was for the Right in 2008You certainly could be right. And I’m sure that possibility has occurred to nearly everyone, on all sides.I think, though, that this reveals one common (not universal, but common) difference between the right and the left. Conservatives frequently make hard and certain prediction, proclaiming, without compromise, that this or that most definitely will or won’t happen. How many times on the old FiveThirtyEight did PK or Bart confidently predict that the Health Care Reform Bill was absolutely dead? For how long has Bart been forecasting a tsunami of biblical proportions!? (And yes, I do agree, that if the Republicans take Congress, it will be a disaster for the world unequaled since the days of Noah.)Liberals and Progressives, meanwhile, tend (not always succeed, but tend) to be more moderate in their predictions and expectations. They’ll say “It seems like this will happen,” or “I think it’s like that,” or “I’m prediction X, but I could be wrong.”Case in point — many conservatives were betting the farm on the Bradley Effect, absolutely convinced that people lie to pollsters about whether they’ll vote for a black man, and that, therefore, there was no doubt, absolutely, McCain would triumph.On the other hand, most progressives who talk about cell phone polling say things like, “You know, I’m not convinced the current polls are accurate, because I suspect young people with cell phones are being undercounted. But I could be wrong.”This is one of the reasons why liberals seem more reality-based than conservatives. Since neither side seems to be any better at predicting the future, an awareness and admission of one’s fallibility would seem to be a prerequisite for keeping one foot in the real world.But, of course, I could be wrong.

  14. Mule Rider says:

    “Conservatives frequently make hard and certain prediction, proclaiming, without compromise, that this or that most definitely will or won’t happen.”And liberals (or at least YOU) are guilty of extrapolating the comments of just one or two people to make a generalization and stereotype an entire group. See below.”How many times on the old FiveThirtyEight did PK or Bart confidently predict that the Health Care Reform Bill was absolutely dead?”And how many people are PK and Bart? Two, right? Unless I’m incorrectly using the digits on my right hand. Please don’t let what less than a handful of people on the “right” say define what everyone else says or thinks or assume they have a similar approach. “Liberals and Progressives, meanwhile, tend (not always succeed, but tend) to be more moderate in their predictions and expectations.”Horse-hockey! I’ve read countless comments on MSNBC, the new 538@NYT, and even THIS SITE, and I can’t tell you how many absolutes I’ve seen lefties proclaim…”no way this happens,” “he/she’s not losing,” “PA/WI/CA WON’T vote Republican…guaranteed!” etc. “This is one of the reasons why liberals seem more reality-based than conservatives.”No, your ignoring the mountains of evidence to the contrary is one of the reasons conservatives believe liberals to be more “reality-detached” than most anyone else. The only reason liberals seem (seem being a key word as it doesn’t mean it’s accurate) more measured in their assessments this year and aware of possible failure is because they are the ones up against the headwinds. Hit the rewind back to 2008 and you’ll find ample evidence of the cocky, absolutist speak from the left about their successes (or Republican failures). I still contend you see plenty of it now; the problem is that you don’t see it because you’re looking at the world through such a deep shade of blue-colored glasses.

  15. Mule Rider says:

    “many conservatives were betting the farm on the Bradley Effect,”No doubt there are/were “many” but I’d bet a dollar to a doughnut that the proportion is no more than among the Democratic crowd this year betting the farm on the “cell phone effect” or “Rasmussen bias.”

  16. shrinkers says:

    Hey, Mule, can we compare my moderate and measured comment with your somewhat more vitriolic one? Can we then reassess which side tends to be more careful in its approach?Admittedly, a handful of examples is not the full totality of the population (but then, how are polls conducted?) And also, anecdote does not become data with the addition of further illustrations. Nevertheless, see? I just did it again, adding caveats and an admission of limitations. Your turn. Might your analysis be wrong?

  17. filistro says:

    I really don’t know what to think. A couple of months ago this looked to be a pretty dull election … for the Dems, at least. (Blowouts are not all that interesting, except for the blowhards 🙂 Suddenly it’s EXCITING! Sestak pulls into a slim lead! Conway is slightly ahead! Angle and Reid are neck and neck! Joe Miller is fading! Nate doesn’t know WHAT to think!!But… correct me if I’m wrong… this is what always happens, no? Races tighten. Suspense builds. Hearts begin to race. And then, barring some hugely unforeseen event, things turn out to be pretty much the way they were looking before all the nail-biting began. I never expecetd the Senate to flip… and I don’t WANT Dems to hold the House narrowly, which would just give us more-of- the-same-only-worse. I want the Reps tagged with that sticky mess, which they so richly deserve. However, the House and Senate have never flipped separately. So eiethr Bart is right and we WILL be witnessing “history” of a sort… or historical precedent will prevail and Dems will narrowly hold the House.Either way… the presidential contest over the next two years will be delicious fun to watch. I’m already looking past this election ahead with to the GOP nominating process. There are some fascinating possibilities in the various scenarios surrounding that nomination. (Many of them will depend on the results on Nov 2. Alas… none of them bode well for the Grand Old Party.)

  18. Mule Rider says:

    “Hey, Mule, can we compare my moderate and measured comment with your somewhat more vitriolic one?”Vitriol takes on many shades, my friend. Yes, I can be blunt and occasionally prone to swear words and snide/derogatory remarks (although I’d love to see what you thought was “vitriol” above as I don’t think you’ll find a good example of any), but you don’t find me saying things about Democrats in the ways you’ve articulated about Republicans/TeaPartiers above. So let’s compare/contrast who is measured and who isn’t. You’ve insinuated – no, outright accused – TeaPartiers of being out to “destroy the country” whether they are successful in the election or not and a Republican-controlled Congress would be a worldwide disaster on par with the Biblical flood. Yeah, you’ll hear me complain about/disagree with Obama or a handful of other Democrats/liberals/progressives, but I never act as though Democratic control equates to the country self-destructing or potential for worldwide disaster.So, again, you accuse elements of the Right with trying to destroy the country and for bringing about worldwide disasters yet I accuse Obama and some Democrats of not being good or effective leaders. And yet I’m the one who is vitriolic and you’re the one who is “measured”? Give me a break.

  19. Mule Rider says:

    “Can we then reassess which side tends to be more careful in its approach?”Yeah, I’m dying to hear your “assessment” of how I’m “vitriolic” and you’re “measured” when you’ve done nothing but spew over-the-top, frothing-at-the-mouth hyperbole and I’ve merely raised a few points of disagreement.You’re pretty thin-skinned if you equate what I’ve said here as “vitriol.” That’s all I have to say about that.

  20. filistro says:

    Looking ahead… I have a question specifically for Jeff, parksie and robert verdi (and any other moderate R’s who may be lurking here.)What will be your personal reaction if Sarah Palin wins the GOP nomination? Note: I don’t mean your emotional reaction, as in surprise, alarm, resignation, etc. I mean, what would you as a politically active Republican DO in this event? Would you support her? Detach yourself from the process? Actively look for some third party moderate to get behind?TIA…

  21. filistro says:

    I guess that last question of mine should also include Muley, who despite his combative manner toward Dems is, I think, nevertheless a “moderate Republican.”

  22. Jeff says:

    I have a question specifically for Jeff, parksie and robert verdi (and any other moderate R’s who may be lurking here.)What will be your personal reaction if Sarah Palin wins the GOP nomination?I’ll hope for a 3rd party candidate I can vote for without holding my nose. Probably libertarian.I’m rooting for Mitch Daniels to get into the race. I think he’s terrific and has the creditials. Cost cutter who improved services.

  23. shrinkers says:

    @filistroI don’t WANT Dems to hold the House narrowly, which would just give us more-of- the-same-only-worse. I want the Reps tagged with that sticky mess, which they so richly deserve.I have to disagree with you here. A number of commentators are listing the legislative accomplishments of the last 20 months, and the list is long and impressive. despite Republican obstructionism, this has actually been one of the most productive Congresses in the last half century. Obama and the Democratic leadership have accomplished more in 20 months than the last 12 years of the previous two Democratic presidents. Even with narrower majorities in both houses, I’d expect the next Democratic Congress to do nearly as well, since most of the people who would lose their seats are Blue Dogs.And even with the rather vile and violent nonsense from the Teapers (near riots in last year’s Town Hall meetings, the birther nonsense, dark hints of “Second Amendment” solutions, etc.) Obama’s approval rating is fairly good. Better than that of many other presidents at this point (including Reagan). And, compared to Congress, his approval rating is better than any president since about Johnson, with the exception of Bush the Elder.Two more years for the economy to recover, two more years for the effects of HCR to overwhelm the nonsense from the right, two years for it to sink in that DADT has been repealed, two more years of Teaper silliness (including, Gods wiling, a couple of them in Congress), Bush’s Afghan war finally winding down as Obama begins to bring the troops home — I think 2012 will look very different from how 2010 looks.

  24. Jeff says:

    Either way… the presidential contest over the next two years will be delicious fun to watch. I’m already looking past this election ahead with to the GOP nominating process. There are some fascinating possibilities in the various scenarios surrounding that nomination. (Many of them will depend on the results on Nov 2. Alas… none of them bode well for the Grand Old Party.)=================YOU’ve nailed what I’m hoping for. Speaker Pelosi returned to her comfortable military jet. She’s the gift that keep on giving.It would be interesting to have a thread about 2012–

  25. shrinkers says:

    Sorry I messed up the italics.

  26. mostlyilurk says:

    parksie555 wrote:PA Senate I am worried about. Philly is a cesspool of SEIU and welfare leeches and the AFCSME ad dollars are absolutely blanketing the local airwaves. Hopefully it rains here on election day and the lazy bastards stay home.Wow,just wow….

  27. filistro says:

    @Jeff… I’ll hope for a 3rd party candidate I can vote for without holding my nose. Probably libertarian.Thanks Jeff. That’s what I expected you would say. I’ve been studying the dynamics and process of the GOP nominations in the last cycle (plus the attitudes of moderate R’s like you vs. those of the Freepers) and will be putting up a post about it all soon after the election.

  28. filistro says:

    mostlyilurk… yes, what parksie just said is pretty horrific. Really despicable, actually.But parksie is normally a pretty nice guy and we need to cut him some slack. He’s cranky because his baseball team is, alas, not doing all that well in the NLCS… 😦

  29. Mule Rider says:

    fili,You’re free to call me that, but I don’t consider myself a “moderate Republican”…more like an independent conservative/libertarian with a sprinkle of centrism/pragmatism/progressivism, but that’s a pretty convoluted way of expressing one’s identity. Anyway, if Sarah Palin is an option for President in ’12, I will NOT be voting for her. If Obama has come to his senses (possibly in having to work with a Republican Congress), I might consider a vote for him. If he still seems to suck, I’ll just sit out or maybe wait and see if a viable (NOT a Bob Barr or Ralph Nader type) 3rd party candidate steps up a la Ross Perot in 1992.

  30. filistro says:

    @Muley… Anyway, if Sarah Palin is an option for President in ’12, I will NOT be voting for her. If Obama has come to his senses (possibly in having to work with a Republican Congress), I might consider a vote for him. If he still seems to suck, I’ll just sit out or maybe wait and see if a viable (NOT a Bob Barr or Ralph Nader type) 3rd party candidate steps up a la Ross Perot in 1992.And they all wonder why I like you! :-)Thanks, Muley. Again, pretty much what I hoped/expected you would say.There’s no doubt we are in for some interesting times.

  31. shrinkers says:

    Mule, Jeff — I’ve decided I could like you guys.

  32. Mule Rider says:

    I’ve already decided I DO like you, shrinkers. I’m just amazed/confounded by some of the things you say.

  33. shrinkers says:

    @MuleTeaPartiers of being out to “destroy the country” whether they are successful in the election or notThe rhetoric of wanting to privatize Social Security, repeal HCR, cut taxes while balancing the budget, build boarder fences, strengthen anti-abortion laws — all that coupled with opposition to same-sex marriage, people like O’Donnell wanting to teach “intelligent design” in the classroom, opposition to unions and to workplace protections, desire to deregulate farther and to repeal the recent new banking and credit regulations — add to that calls for “Second Amendment remedies” and succession and repeal of various Amendments — yes, this would all be rather destructive. and a Republican-controlled Congress would be a worldwide disaster on par with the Biblical flood. 1) it is the conservatives who have been talking about a “tsunami” (universally recognized as a destructive event), and2) we saw what the Republicans did last time they were in power, including two (2) unnecessary wars, a decade of a stagnant economy leading to the greatest global economic meltdown in a hundred years, America angering our allies and emboldening our foes, falling test scores in our schools, nothing down to shore up Social Security or Medicare or to improve America’s health care system, a president who ignored Congress and called the Constitution “just a God damned piece of paper,” a vice president who tried to place himself outside of all three branches of government, a regressive and activist Supreme Court who is handing our elections over to big business and foreign interests — so yes, it would be something of a disaster to have those guys back in power. And these were the folks far more moderate than the current crop of Teapers — and most of that crop are even too far out for you, Mule.

  34. shrinkers says:

    Check this out:http://www.aolnews.com/surge-desk-elections/article/christine-odonnell-first-amendment-question-floors-audience-video/19680390“Where in the Constitution is separation of church and state?” O’Donnell asked. Upon hearing her words, the audience in the room burst into laughter. Priceless.

  35. GROG says:

    shrinkers said:If the Teapers win, they will try to destroy the country. If they lose, they will claim conspiracy, and try to destroy the country.I know you love talking points, but why don’t you list specific policies that Republicans support or reject that prove they are trying to destroy the country. Then we can have an honest, adult conversation on the topic.

  36. GROG says:

    shrinky,I apologize. I did not see your post at 10:53. Outstanding job.

  37. Mr. Universe says:

    He’s cranky because his baseball team is, alas, not doing all that well in the NLCS…Ouch. Hit him in the baseballs.

  38. Mule Rider says:

    “a president who ignored Congress and called the Constitution “just a God damned piece of paper,””This is why it’s hard to take you very seriously.http://www.factcheck.org/askfactcheck/did_president_bush_call_the_constitution_a.html

  39. Mule Rider says:

    “Outstanding job.”Yeah, insomuch as they illustrate that basically any idea for how to run the country that doesn’t completely square with his own worldview is automatically an attempt to “destroy” it.

  40. Mule Rider says:

    shrinkers, I have to say that while I share some (many?) of your concerns, not all of those problems started on January 20th, 2001 and have been ongoing trends of decline for several decades now, irrespective of which party has been guiding policy.

  41. shrinkers says:

    I apologize. I did not see your post at 10:53. Outstanding job.Thanks, GROG. Appreciated. And I agree, detailed discussion of particular policies is far better than general sweeping statements. It’s just that in a discussion of large-scale political events, a sweeping statement or two will sometimes erupt. One is, of course, then justified in asking for specifics.

  42. Mr. Universe says:

    “Where in the Constitution is separation of church and state?” O’Donnell asked.I saw this and was dumbfounded. She asked it with such bravado as to presume that seperation of church and state never existed in the Constitution. I mean, how do you respond to that? It’s like saying ‘So you mean the sun rose in the eastern sky this morning?’Ummmm, yeah. It did.Jeez, did you read the Constitution or is it just a doctorine you conveniently alter to support your worldview and hope we don’t notice?WHAT…THE…FUCK?

  43. shrinkers says:

    shrinkers, I have to say that while I share some (many?) of your concerns, not all of those problems started on January 20th, 2001 and have been ongoing trends of decline for several decades now, irrespective of which party has been guiding policy.A fair enough point. However, that means those issues were not fixed while the Republicans were in power, and had the chance to do something about them. And in fact, in many cases (such as failures of regulatory agencies), the current Republican team is proposing that we continue, enlarge, or reinstate the very policies that were problematic to begin with.Our current President, in contrast, has been taking great strides toward addressing many of these issues. For instance, sane financial and regulatory reform, finally getting some real health care reform, a bipartisan commission on the budget, pay-go and a discretionary budget freeze, tax cuts for 95% of the population, repeal of DADT, making it easier for a woman to sue an employer if she is raped or if she is not paid commensurate with men, classifying violent crimes committed on the basis of sexual orientation as “hate crimes”, insisting that the President remain within the bounds of the law and that the Justice Department must defend and faithfully execute even laws that the Administration disapproves of — the list goes on and on and on.So yes, many of those problems began before 2001. But they were all either ignored or made worse during the subsequent eight years. And Republican politicians today, as a rule, are supporting positions that would return to the neglect or outright destructive behaviors of the previous Administration.

  44. shiloh says:

    But p555 is normally a pretty nice guy and we need to cut him some slack.Why?ok, liberals have empathy for whining/hyperbolic winger trolls ’cause at the very least, they are somewhat entertaining …

  45. shrinkers says:

    @Mr. Universe Re: O’Donnell I could see someone like Bart questioning whether the Establishment Clause actually calls for a “separation of church and state”, or merely prohibits embracing a particular religion (of course, that argument would ignore 200 years or judicial decisions). But to raise and defend such an argument, one would have to well-versed in Constitutional matters, and, specifically, in the text of the First Amendment.The subsequent discussion after O’Donnell’s initial stunning question made it clear she was completely unfamiliar with the First Amendment. So she asked the question, not to raise a subtle (if questionable) interpretation of the Establishment Clause, but from all appearances simply because she did not know, and was shocked to discover, that the First Amendment prohibits the establishment of religion, and protects the free exercise thereof. And she is, apparently, a prime example of what the Tea Party has to offer us. And some wonder why I think having people like that in Congress would not be beneficial for our country.

  46. Mule Rider says:

    “And some wonder why I think having people like that in Congress would not be beneficial for our country”There are people that know it backwards and forwards in BOTH parties that serve in Congress right now that treat it like a “goddamn piece of paper.”I’m appalled by O’Donnell’s ignorance, but let’s not act like knowledge of the law necessarily means someone will abide by it.

  47. Mule Rider says:

    Liberals may have “empathy” for our whining/hyperbolic selves but we just flat-out pity your dumbasses.

  48. shrinkers says:

    I’m appalled by O’Donnell’s ignorance, but let’s not act like knowledge of the law necessarily means someone will abide by it.Again, a fair point. I bet we could both name people whom we’re each convinced were quite familiar with the Constitution, and chose knowingly to violate it.Still, I would not knowingly vote for or support the election of someone that ignorant. I’d advise such a person with a desire for public office to get some education first, then come back and try again.Whether we agree with someone’s policies or not, I think we have the right to expect — and to demand — that our elected officials were conversant with the Constitution. Which, by the way, they swear to defend, so it would be in their own interest to know what they were swearing to.

  49. Mr. Universe says:

    Mule brings up a good point. You don’t actually open the ‘Help Wanted’ section in the classifieds and apply for the job of Representative. You have to convince your constituency that you ARE qualified. Most of that has to do with your past record which O’Donnell has little to rely upon.Unfortunately, politics to many people is equal to a pageant. We tend to elect the photogenic and charismatic over the well qualified. Image is everything these days. Apparently you can be forgiven for learning on the go as long as you look good doing it.

  50. Mule Rider says:

    “Unfortunately, politics to many people is equal to a pageant. We tend to elect the photogenic and charismatic over the well qualified. Image is everything these days. Apparently you can be forgiven for learning on the go as long as you look good doing it.”I hear this one a lot and it gives me a chuckle. I guess most on the left don’t realize this was precisely the same argument AGAINST electing Obama in 2008, yet they sure like to play that card now in denouncing conservative candidates they feel are unqualified to run. By almost any standard, Obama was the charismatic neophyte while McCain was the boring (ugly!) but qualified veteran. One had a brief Senate (and overall political) career but was arguable good-looking, young(er), and talked a good game. The other had 30 years in office and was considered one of the more pragmatic and competent members during that time, but his problem was he was in his 70s, looking pretty weathered, and hardly ignited any inspiration with his often awkward declarative sentences.

  51. parksie555 says:

    Worst thing about the O’Donnell comment was that the site of the debate was a law school. It was a radio debate and there was an audible gasp when she said “You’re telling me that the separation of church and state is found in the First Amendment?” Rather embarassing.

  52. Realist says:

    @Mule Rider,let’s not act like knowledge of the law necessarily means someone will abide by it.No, but someone who has knowledge of the law has a much easier time abiding by the law than someone who is completely ignorant of it.

  53. Scott says:

    As much as I’d like to believe that the cell phone effect is real, I can’t believe it until we see it…

  54. filistro says:

    @Scott As much as I’d like to believe that the cell phone effect is real, I can’t believe it until we see it…Hey Scott… me too! :-)If I understand Nate correctly, he does think this is the first election cycle where the cell phone effect will actually be a real factor.But nobody knows if it will be a significant factor… or even be quantifiable after the fact.

  55. shrinkers says:

    @ScottAs much as I’d like to believe that the cell phone effect is real, I can’t believe it until we see it…I agree with you completely. Which is one of the many reasons I’m not making any predictions for this election season.@Mule RiderI guess most on the left don’t realize this was precisely the same argument AGAINST electing Obama in 2008No, we do realize that, and we haven’t forgotten. It was a false meme put out by the right. Obama was very experienced — a constitutional scholar, someone who have been involved in community organizing and in Illinois politics, and a US Senator. Yes, the right wing laughed at those qualifications — but in fact, he had more experience that Abe Lincoln did, and more experience as an elected official than Ike.The right wing did put out the meme that all Obama knew how to do was give a good speech. Yet everyone who knows him, and all the people he worked with in the Senate, said otherwise.Thank you for reminding us of the empty and dishonest propaganda the right wing likes to throw around. I suppose there may have been people in danger of forgetting. Which may be why there are people willing to vote for Teapers.You do make a good point about McCain — that is, that he had more experience. Which just goes to show that, while experience counts, it isn’t the only valid qualification. The two people alive today with the most experience at being president are Bush 2 and Clinton — three people, if you include Cheney — and there is no way you’d get me to vote for two of those three, even if they were all Constitutionally eligible.So yes, it’s a balance between amount of experience, types of experience, and thousands of other factors, some more obvious, some less so — including things like stance on issues, likelihood of finding good advisers to fill in experience gaps, quickness of mind, education, etc. etc.And yes, some shallow stuff too — how well does the candidate work before a camera, or before a crowd? — stuff like that. And what one person likes or thinks is important, another will sneer at.I want someone much smarter than I am to be President, or to be a Senator. I think there are other people who want someone they can have a beer with, someone who is “like them.”

  56. Mule Rider says:

    That’s bullshit, shrinkers, and you know it. I’m not talking about a “false meme.” You’re resorting to your bullshit left-wing talking points again.Mr. Universe made a valid point about Christine O’Donnell, and thought it wasn’t mentioned directly, it was implied that she leaves much to be desired when it comes to qualifications for the job. I wasn’t trying to demean Obama’s smarts or savvy or any of that, but any objective observer should be able to look back at 2008 and say he was far less qualified for the presidency than was McCain, but he was “forgiven” because he was young, good-looking and talked a good game and people thought it was worth the risk to let him learn on the job. People wrote McCain off for being an old fuddy-duddy, but he was vastly superior and more qualified to be president than Obama. It’s not even close.

  57. Mule Rider says:

    “Yet everyone who knows him, and all the people he worked with in the Senate, said otherwise.”And yet his daily failures prove otherwise.

  58. Eusebio Dunkle says:

    @MR”I hear this one a lot and it gives me a chuckle. I guess most on the left don’t realize this was precisely the same argument AGAINST electing Obama in 2008, yet they sure like to play that card now in denouncing conservative candidates they feel are unqualified to run. “This is not unique. This is the core problem with tribal politics, e.g. party support and the examples are continuously flowing from politicians and their supporters. It’s not the issue, it’s the team. It’s why the left/right can each trample some rights while attacking the other as fascist/socialist for trampling other rights. It’s why the left/right can attack an opposition POTUS for the same foreign policy as a friendly POTUS. It’s why pork/stimulus/tax cuts/spending programs/corporate subsidies are bad unless they flow my pockets. It’s why party supporters, aka the majority, are crazy hypocrites or deliberately ignorant.

  59. Scott says:

    Re: McCain being more qualifiedIsn’t that a bit relative? What if a candidate’s ideology or record are part of your personal qualifications?

  60. Eusebio Dunkle says:

    @MRBy any quantitative metric, BHO is competent. That is, he’s getting stuff done and doing so in spite of stiff opposition. You need to remove that partisan filter.The more I reconcile the POTUS with the candidate the less I like him (I did not vote BHO), but regardless of my political flavor I can recognize that he is getting things done, and more or less in the wishy-washy compromised way he wants it.All talk of failure is either ignorant or political.

  61. Mule Rider says:

    “By any quantitative metric, BHO is competent.”Sorry, competence isn’t really something you can quantify. Academic achievement, legislative successes, etc. I can agree with, but competence is a purely qualitative/subjective trait. “You need to remove that partisan filter”I need to remove MY partisan filter? How about shrinkers who went bat-shit nuts and started hurling accusations of me reviving right-wing memes and propaganda just because I suggested that, based on Mr. Universe’s words, O’Donnell-Coons is an apt comparison to Obama-McCain? “All talk of failure is either ignorant or political.”I can guarantee you I’m not speaking from a position of ignorance. And it’s your opinion that my accusations of “failure” are political, but I contend I’ve made an honest assessment of his administration and its policies over a nearly 2-year period and I’m not impressed.

  62. Mule Rider says:

    “Isn’t that a bit relative? What if a candidate’s ideology or record are part of your personal qualifications?”Yes indeed! My only point is to illustrate the fallacy in tearing down someone like Christine O’Donnell (loathesome as she may be), or more appropriately the people who vote for her, just because she’s lacking in more observable experience/qualifications/knowledge than Coons yet ignore that we were faced with a similar choice between Obama and McCain. Granted, Obama does seem to have better peripheral qualifications than someone like O’Donnell, but keep in mind the office he was running for fully occupies one-third of our three branches of government while a Senator from DE is much less influential.

  63. Eusebio Dunkle says:

    “…competence is a purely qualitative/subjective trait.” I like this definition from wikpedia, “Competence is a standardized requirement for an individual to properly perform a specific job. It encompasses a combination of knowledge, skills and behavior utilized to improve performance. ..”I’m not really sure what your problem with measuring competence is, but hundreds of thousands of human resource departments all over the world have managed to do it.”I need to remove MY partisan filter? How about shrinkers ..”I generally think it a compliment when people respond to me.”I’m not impressed.”Nor am I, but I don’t see what that has to do with competence. To go the extra yard and call him a failure (especially making such a claim so prematurely) requires an outstanding and well sourced argument. In fact, I think you are necessarily speaking from a position of ignorance because today’s history has not yet been written, but this isn’t mutually exclusive from being political.

  64. Mule Rider says:

    “I think you are necessarily speaking from a position of ignorance because today’s history has not yet been written”Ahh, now we’re getting down to the crux of the argument. If I’m ignorant of anything, it’s of the future. Well, all I can say is guilty as charged; however, I make a living predicting the future based on historical trends, and applying that same rigor in understanding the presidency and Obama’s first two years in office, I don’t have much hope for improvement over the next two (six) years.

  65. Eusebio Dunkle says:

    @MR,I do not disagree, but I was still speaking strictly of his competence to date. We’re all ignorant of recent history. We simply can not filter out the noise and find the signals. It becomes easier with hindsight. I’m not expecting an improvement either, but I think he’ll continue to gain the knowledge, skills, and behaviors necessary to complete the tasks facing POTUS. Whether you or I agree with the results is another matter. To me, a presidential failure is health care under Clinton or immigration or S.S. privitization under Bush II. Even with those monumental failures, yet I wouldn’t label either a failure. When I think of failure I think democrats/whigs leading to the Civil War. What are BHO failures?

  66. filistro says:

    @Muley… (perhaps the other side of Eusebio’s question)… what specifically did you want Obama to accomplish in these first two years that has not yet been achieved?

  67. Mule Rider says:

    “What are BHO failures?”Oh man, you put it right up on the tee for me, but I’ll avoid a lengthy set of talking points on focus on two main issues. First, the war(s). If there was one thing I was hoping to get out of an Obama presidency in spite of other disagreements was a smart and expeditious exit from our engagements in Iraq and Afghanistan. And what has happened? Well combat operations have “ended” in Iraq but we’ve still got 50,000 of our men and women there. Yeah, some end. To me that’s just a sugarcoat/whitewash of what it really is…an occupation. And we’re sitting there wasting millions of dollars just in case “shit hits the fan” again, and it inevitably will. And Afghanistan? We’ve escalated that conflict and it’s getting bloodier and less winnable. You can’t pussyfoot around with war, but that seems to be what we’re doing, and we’re just losing more and more precious lives through attrition. I can’t blame Obama entirely as Bush got us off on the wrong foot, but dammit he could be doing more to wrap it up.My next big issue (and a primary reason I consider him a failure at this point) is his insistence of uber-partisanship and demagoging issues. I don’t know how he’s pulled it off – because it’s so transparent to me – but he’s simultaneously argued for a post-partisan era while demonizing those with a different worldview as evil or trying to destroy the country. You can’t have it both ways, yet he seems to want it that way. Anyway, his demagoging and campaigning has taken his focus away from necessary issues related to the economy, and he hasn’t really done much to help fix the fundamental problems we have, just tinker around the edges on things that are quasi-related or totally unrelated.

  68. filistro says:

    So really… the only thing you specifically wanted him to do that hasn’t been done is ending Bush’s wars?

  69. Mule Rider says:

    “ending Bush’s wars?”If he doesn’t do what’s necessary, they’ll quickly become HIS wars. Well, I don’t think Obama can ever “own” Iraq, but more and more of the blood of Afghanistan is on his hands, no doubt about it.And he has failed to lead on the economy, doing more demagoging and tinkering with side issues like health care (which are admittedly important but don’t alleviate 10% UE, sluggish GDP growth, declining wages, rising food/energy costs, issues with SS and Medicare, debt, etc.) rather than very real and important economic matters.

  70. Mule Rider says:

    And it’s funny how he sure likes to blame Bush for so all of the bad, but he likes to take credit for any good that came from the Bush years…http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/39759042/ns/business-going_green

  71. filistro says:

    @Muley… rather than very real and important economic matters.Like what? Sorry to be so persistent, but apart from ending the wars, you haven’t yet listed even one specific thing you wanted Obama to do that he hasn’t.I’m hammering on this because I think this is the same attitude that persists throughout the country… people think he somehow “hasn’t done enough”… but then they’re unable to say what they think he should have done apart from generalities like “more” or “helping the economy” or “making things better.”And this is your area of expertise… so if YOU can’t name specifics, I wonder if there really are any.

  72. Mule Rider says:

    Number 1 item would be the tax code. Tinkering around with “$400 credits to working families is bullshit and doesn’t do a damn thing in the big picture. Overhaul the whole damn thing. Make it simple. Make it progressive. I have a MS in economics and it’s getting almost too hard for me to figure out each year. That’s ridiculous and just encourages gaming the system. Tax all income the same, be it earnings, dividends/investment, interest, gifts, etc. Eliminate ALL credits for things like mortgage interest, student loans, charitable giving, etc. (I’m torn on how to handle marriage and child tax credits, but if the rest of it is simplified, that’s not a big deal). Index the damn thing to the average median income. If it’s $40,000, then the marginal rate on that first $40,000 is 0%. Tax the next bracket at 25% from $40,000 to some multiple of the median income, let’s say 5, for example, so up to $200,000. Tax the next bracket at 37.5%. We’ll say the upper limit for that bracket is 20 times the average median income, so $800,000. And then tax anything above that at 50%. I can guarantee you that will help get the economy going. It will solidify revenues. It will keep the extremely wealthy from gaming the system and hoarding money. It will keep money in the pockets of lower and middle income people to spend how they choose. It will lower the costs of government and make the private sector more efficient by eliminating all of the excess bureaucracy that’s in place (IRS and numerous independent tax agents) just to make sure people can abide by the current convoluted (but completely unnecessary) system. That would be step 1.

  73. filistro says:

    So you’re upset that Obama didn’t overhaul the tax code in his first two years? During the worst economic downturn since 1930? With a Congress so bitterly divided it took literally months to pass tiny, positive reforms on the margins like slightly increased tax breaks to small business?C’mon, Muley.

  74. Mule Rider says:

    Number 2 would be to address the cost of government spending and entitlements. I’d back a fervent effort to attack and eliminate Medicare fraud, but not knowing too much else about the program, I can’t speak on any more specifics. I’d tackle SS and military spending. With SS, I’d return it to its original intent – a safety net for those who just happened to lived a litlte “too long” and not their primary retirement source. People couldn’t draw until they were 62 back in the day when the average life expectancy was 65. We’ve barely moved the needle forward and most people live well into their 70s or 80s nowadays. Push the minimum age to 70, at least. You might not have to tweak the benefits much if you do that but still keep it solvent. Hell, if the thing starts running a massive surplus at some point, consider lowering the age again. But as long as it’s trajectory is insolvency/bankruptcy, we all need to sacrifice by delaying a draw against that entitlement program.For military spending, I’d recommend a 20% cut across the board and would take our servicemen and women out of nearly every foreign land we currently occupy except for some strategic allies where it makes sense (Canada comes to mind with NORAD). And I’d recommend a 10% cut across the board for the rest of government spending, including government salaries and wages. Study after study shows that gov’t workers get bloated salaries/benefits compared to the private sector even when you make apples-apples comparisons to people who do the exact same type of work. That shit needs to stop. I know for a fact that their (gov’t workers) incomes have been on a steady trajectory higher in recent years while private sector wages have declined. That should NEVER happen, and I would correct for it, mostly by adjusting the higher end pay scales (GS-12 and higher) lower at a graduated rate.

  75. Mule Rider says:

    If he’s not seriously considering what I’m prescribing, no matter how radical/difficult it would be to push, then he’s not serious about taking this country in the right direction and ending its economic malaise. Either that or he’s simply ignorant and doesn’t understand what it would take to fix the mess we’re in.

  76. filistro says:

    Muley… your suggestions are thoughtful and well-reasoned. I even agree with a lot of them :-)(After the election you should pull some of this into an article and submit it to Monotreme or Mr U. for posting. I’d really like to see a full discussion of your ideas.)But what I’m asking right now is whether you honestly think it’s fair for people to blame Obama for not having tackled any of this in his first two years, given the economic and political climate he was working in.

  77. Mule Rider says:

    Other things come to mind……he should end government support of the corn ethanol industry. That’s having a chilling impact on our farm economy that will wind up passing on bitterly high costs to consumers. …he should quit propping up failures in the economy and take Andrew Mellon’s advice to “liquidate labor, liquidate stocks, liquidate farmers, liquidate real estate… it will purge the rottenness out of the system. High costs of living and high living will come down. People will work harder, live a more moral life. Values will be adjusted, and enterprising people will pick up from less competent people.”

  78. Eusebio Dunkle says:

    @MRGood answers on the war. Our differences lie in expectations. I think BHOs rhetorical vagaries (smartly) allows a messy inefficient war draw down to be a success. He, more or less, told us it would be hard and messy. Compared to say, predicting imminent success with low casualties and a small investment.Domestically, I agree that he has failed to act like a leader. I often wonder if this is lack of ability (certainly didn’t show while campaigning) or due to potential reaction opposition. We’d certainly have even more entertaining cable news if he could be labeled Marxist/Muslim AND a commanding, powerful leader. But I do not see demagoguery. I see an expedient narcissistic politician (trying) to craft his way right of center into the history books. IMO, he’s still a war criminal and a corporate democrat. If anything his narcissism keeps his eyes focussed past the horizon.

  79. Mule Rider says:

    “blame Obama for not having tackled any of this in his first two years, given the economic and political climate he was working in.”I don’t blame Obama necessarily for not being able to fix everything all at once, and I certainly don’t blame him for causing much (or really any) of it. But I do take issue with where his priorities have been versus where I think they should be. Of course, he’s gotten plenty of advice on what his priorities should be, and they seem to differ with what I’m prescribing. Guess everyone has an opinion.

  80. Mule Rider says:

    “But I do not see demagoguery.”Guess that’s up to interpretation, but when I hear a speech from him and he delivers soaring rhetoric about how a choice for him vs. his political opponents is the difference in choosing hope and change vs. fear and hate, I can’t help but interpret that as a bit of demagoguery.

  81. shiloh says:

    The subject of this thread: polling and cell phone proliferationcarry on

  82. Realist says:

    @Mule Rider,You have quite a laundry list of things you feel are real, and important economic matters:10% UE, sluggish GDP growth, declining wages, rising food/energy costs, issues with SS and Medicare, debtI certainly don’t disagree that these are all important things. I’d like to hit these one by one, starting from the end:Debt is a serious problem, and I won’t sugarcoat it. The responsible thing is to raise taxes and cut spending. The consistency with which people win elections by essentially promising to cut “your” taxes and cut spending on “other people” (the words in quotes depend on the targeted constituency) is damning evidence against this happening. When the occasional responsible person shows up, that person is either thrown under the bus or marginalized. Either way, nothing happens, and things get worse.Social Security and Medicare are the same way. We must either decide that those are important services, and tax ourselves accordingly, or that they are not, and dismantle them in a clear and public way. But instead we do neither, because neither path is as politically expedient as kicking the problem to the next Congressional class.Rising food/energy costs are tightly linked. The 20th century saw a conversion of our food system to one that is heavily petroleum dependent, from fertilizer, to mechanical agriculture, to shipping food over huge distances. Simple economic forces alone won’t change this in the near term. Shifting to a real renewable energy based economy will help tremendously, but that will have short-term costs that are hard to sell.Declining wages are the side effect of relatively cheap energy and low trade barriers, coupled with historically high wages in the US relative to much of the rest of the world. Since the US doesn’t control the cost of petroleum, the primary energy source of the world, the only other thing we can do is put up various forms of trade barriers. Those cause some really unpleasant side effects as well.Sluggish GDP growth and high unemployment are direct results of the economy and the amount of work being offshored. Protectionism can address the latter, but the former requires a more complicated calculus.

  83. Realist says:

    @Mule Rider,I agree with you regarding the tax code, though I like the idea of replacing national income tax with a national sales tax, mostly because it taxes a larger base, sine it includes money made on illegal transactions. I suspect, though I don’t have the data to prove it, that the tax rate for us law abiding folk would go down as a result.You’re mistaken about the Social Security problem. Average lifespan has gone up, yes, but about half that rise is due to reductions in infant and childhood mortality. I agree that we should raise the age, but not by as much as you propose.Medicare fraud is only worth addressing if the cost of auditing and prosecuting is lower than the cost of the fraud. I don’t know if it is…does anyone else here?I agree in principle with your military position. I don’t know enough of the details to say whether the specifics you outline are the way to go, though.Re: government wages, are you proposing that they be indexed to some sort of economic guide?I fully agree with you on ethanol. That was a mistake of epic proportions that will come back to bite us hard.”Propping up failures in the economy” is a tougher one. I agree that we shouldn’t encourage failure, but at the same time a single failure of a large employer can have devastating impact on local or national economies. Some sort of soft landing helps immensely.

  84. DC Petterson says:

    On the wars:Afghanistan first, because it’s the most clear. During the campaign, Obama said time and again that we had to fight that war. The Taliban is there, and al Qaeda is there. We need to cripple them. So the fact that we are still in Afghanistan — in fact, we’ve escalated — is exactly in line with his campaign promises. Anyone who is “disappointed” with the way he’s handling it just didn’t listen to what he said he was going to do.But note that he has promised to start drawing troops out by a specific date, and his strategy is forcing the Taliban to begin cooperating with the new Afghan government. He is keeping his promises in Afghanistan.Iraq — he drew combat troops out on schedule. The Iraqi government has set a firm date (I believe it is December of next year — someone can correct me) for the withdrawal of the remainder. Again, as promised, Obama is winding that war down in a responsible way, as quickly as it can reasonably be done.The criticism that he hasn’t ended the wars yet in on a par with the criticism that he hasn’t magically repaired the economy yet. These were very, very deep holes the last Administration left the country in. It takes a while to climb back out.For goodness sakes, it takes two or three years to make a movie. Peter Jackson worked for nearly a decade on The Lord of the Rings. But in 20 months, Obama is supposed to repair the greatest economic disaster since the Great Depression, end two wars, restructure the tax code, end DADT, repeal DOMA, fix our education system, personally swim to the bottom of the Gulf and plug an oil gusher with his X-ray vision, build a border fence / Berlin Wall all the way around the country, end the Federal Bush deficits, cut taxes, fix Social Security and Medicare, enact Health Care Reform, and repair strained relations with America’s allies. Geez. What was he supposed to do in his second week in office?Do note, many of these problems — maybe most of them — have been around a very long time. Which means Bush and the Republican Congress did nothing about them (other than making most of them worse) for eight years. Obama is supposed to clean up Dodge before his first midterm.And the people most vocal in their criticism are the people who have done all they could to slow things down.

  85. DC Petterson says:

    Social Security can be easily fixed:1) raise (or eliminate) the cap on earnings subject to FICA. If the cap is eliminated entirely, the rate can be substantially reduced. This not only increases revenues, it also makes the tax less regressive.2) means-test the benefits. People whose retirement income is over, say, $100,000 / year (indexed for inflation) don’t get Social Security payments. This reduces cost.3) wait for the Baby Boomers to die. We’re often told that the Social Security Trust Fund will be depleted around the year 2039 (different estimates give slightly differing dates). This is by design: Prior to about 1980, Social Security was on a pay-as-you-go schedule — current workers pay in, and retired workers draw out. There were enough people working to fund the retirees. But it was realized in the late 70s that when the Baby Boomers started to retire, there would be too many retirees and not enough workers. So the FICA tax was increased, to build up a sizable surplus, so that when the Boomers did retire, there would be money available. Well, Boomers are starting to retire about now. We’re beginning to draw out of the Trust Fund. Thus, you hear dire warnings that “We’ve begin to pay out more than we’re taking in!!!!” Don’t let that scare you. It was supposed to happen. Starting about now.The Trust Fund will be emptied about the ear 2039. The Boomers will have died off about then. Panicked people scream “Social Security will RUN OUT OF MONEY!!” It’s supposed to. Starting about 2039, there will again be enough workers to pay for the number of retirees, and Social Security will return to the original pay-as-you-go format.We’re beginning to draw into the Trust Fund a little earlier than anticipated. And with increased life span, we will need to draw out a bit more than originally calculated. So we need to slightly increase revenues, or slightly decrease expenses, or both. See points 1) and 2) above.

  86. Mule Rider says:

    shrinkers/DC, It’s hard to take you seriously about the war effort when you offer such loony-toon remedies for SS that are completely detached from reality. I love how you’re trying to increase the contribution amount from high income earners (fully ignoring there’s presently a cap on what they can draw) while simultaneously exempting them from being able to draw from it if they happen to be fortunate enough to enter their twilight years with ample funds from other sources. What a disgusting and egregious example of forced redistribution. For shame!Why don’t we just cut out the subtleties of doing it via social security and mandate that everybody making $100,000 a year or more write a series of big fat checks (do tell what you think would be “fair”) to an assigned list of lower class people. That’s essentially what you’re prescribing.

  87. Mule Rider says:

    “Anyone who is “disappointed” with the way he’s handling it just didn’t listen to what he said he was going to do.”We can debate this till we’re blue in the face but Obama clearly ran on platform that included plenty of “anti-war” rhetoric; however, there’s been no indication that he’s winding things down any faster or doing much of anything different than if McCain had won or Bush had magically been around for a 3rd term. To suggest otherwise is intellectual dishonesty.

  88. Realist says:

    @Mule Rider,It’s hard to take you seriously about the war effort when you offer such loony-toon remedies for SS that are completely detached from reality.It’s hard to take you seriously about anything when you call their proposed remedies “loony-toon” and “completely detached from reality.”Their proposals would certainly address the solvency of Social Security. That you find the cost and method of doing so doesn’t make it “loony-toon” or “completely detached from reality.” It simply makes it a solution that comes at a cost that you do not wish to bear.You can certainly argue about whether the approach is “fair,” and provide an explanation as to what would be a more “fair” solution, but that’s not what you chose to do.

  89. Realist says:

    There was an adjective missing in the previous post…should have read “That you find the cost and method of doing so distasteful doesn’t make it…”

  90. Mule Rider says:

    “You can certainly argue about whether the approach is “fair,” and provide an explanation as to what would be a more “fair” solution, but that’s not what you chose to do.”Forgive me then for being so blunt (never mind that’s exactly what some of the rabid regulars do here all the time in calling out conservatives as frothing-at-the-mouth, bat-shit crazy lunatics out to destroty the country/world), but I vehemently disagree with a policy that so explicitly punishes/rewards different segments of society. His argument is that if you’re fortunate enough to enter retirement with ample funding sources other than social security, then too bad, you’re cut off from social security because you’ve worked hard and saved smartly. On top of that, the group that has worked hard and saved wisely for retirement, he’s asking them to shoulder a much bigger share of the cost, even though many of them are going to be cut off from drawing from it later on. That’s an unacceptable proposition in my opinion, and I refuse to live under a system like that, and I feel like that opinion is shared by a very strong majority of people. Like I said, though, if he’s going to be that radical about redistributing wealth, why sugarcoat it by going through a medium like social security. Hell, why not authorize the gov’t to just seize assets from the wealthy and hand out the loot as they see fit.

  91. Mule Rider says:

    “and provide an explanation as to what would be a more “fair” solution, but that’s not what you chose to do.””Actually I did provide what I thought would be a more “fair” solution. Aggressively push back the age someone is first eligible to draw to the late 60s or early 70s, if necessary to make the program solvent. If it starts taking in “too much” money, by all means lower the age. A different solution I would propose is to “privatize” it (don’t worry, I just heard all of the howls and exploding heads from here so no need to put it in writing). But I wouldn’t do it in such a way that there is ever any risk to the money that’s being put in there. That way, people would take “ownership” of their account/funds. Say someone dies early, there would be no impact on the dollar value of the account that would be passed on to the surviving heirs. I know that SS currently pays out to surviving spouses, but I believe it’s at a reduced rate, and I don’t believe (adult) kids see a dime. What I’m proposing would definitely leave the family with something.

  92. Realist says:

    @Mule Rider,See, that’s a much better way of discussing it.OK, so what you’re proposing is that the program be turned into a formal pension program, rather than the hybrid program it has been to date.By hybrid, I’m referring to the compromise that enabled Social Security to be created in the first place. It’s a mix of pension, welfare, and disability insurance, all rolled into one.Maybe it’s worth breaking those out separately. Would you propose elimination of the welfare and disability portions altogether? Or would you replace them with something else? And if you’d replace them, what would you replace them with?

  93. Mule Rider says:

    “Would you propose elimination of the welfare and disability portions altogether?”To be honest, I haven’t put too much additional thought into that aspect of the program and am more concerned with the pension aspect of it. I’d have to look at it closer, but I don’t think I’d eliminate/replace the welfare/disability aspect of the program, but it could maybe use a tweaking.

  94. Realist says:

    I have nothing against converting the pension portion of the program to a formal pension. Most people think that’s what it is, anyway, so it should probably be formalized. Of course, at the very least this would require that we take some general-funds money to pay for the money collected by the first recipients waaaaaay back, since they got money without having made contributions.But the welfare and disability aspects of the program are important. In essence, DC’s proposal would shift the balance somewhat in the direction of welfare and disability insurance in order to maintain solvency.The caps make sense for the pension portion, and maybe the disability portion, but make no sense at all for the welfare portion. Ultimately, the confluence and confusion of the multiple roles of Social Security are what leads to partisan sniping, rather than constructive analysis.

  95. shortchain says:

    Realist,There’s been enough discussion of the issues involved with SS that you can find if you like. Do keep in mind that the original purpose of SS was to alleviate the problem of the elderly poor back then.When I was a kid there were still county poorhouses and county welfare farms and believe me, it would take a person with very little empathy to want to go back to that.

  96. Realist says:

    @shortchain,I’ve read numerous discussions of Social Security, and I’m well aware of the original purpose of the program.It’s all well and good to talk about what it was designed to be, but that’s not what it’s being perceived as today, and therefore not how it’s being managed today.By analogy, he federal income tax started out as a minor supplement to the national government tax revenues, and applied to a small fraction of Americans. But that’s not the reality we have today, so it’s less meaningful to talk about it in those terms.Similarly, we probably should be looking at Social Security as three separate programs. Maybe it’s worth formally splitting them up. But that doesn’t mean abandoning them.

  97. DC Petterson says:

    Mule disapproves of my proposed solution to Social Security. That’s entirely cool for two reasons: 1) this is a democracy, and if you disagree, you can vote against a proposal (or vote for someone who opposes it), and 2) my proposals aren’t going to be put into a possible bill any time soon anyway.Since the US tax and regulatory structure currently gives great benefit to people who make large sums of money (witness the previous decade, as wealth was increasingly concentrated among the most wealthy 5%), I see good reason to ask people in those high income levels to contribute a small portion of their wealth back to the nation that made them wealthy. As shortchain pointed out, Social Security was created to help keep America’s elderly out of poverty. It has served that purpose very well, and can continue to do so with just a little tweaking.Raising the retirement age, or reducing benefits in some other way, might keep it solvent as well. But of course, Mule’s criticism of my suggested approach can be applied as well to his. Why require people to work longer so they can draw benefits they have already worked toward for perhaps four decades? Why adversely impact so many hundreds of millions of people, when there are other solutions that will cause virtually no hardship to anyone? (Do not tell me that millionaires will be adversely impacted by a minor increase in their FICA taxes.)There is a basic difference in approach to citizenship here. One liberal approach is to claim that we are all in this together. We, as a nation, should rely upon each other, and should help each other. Keeping anyone out of poverty benefits the whole nation. It makes sense economically, it makes sense socially, and it’s good for the soul. I can’t imagine a Christian objecting to this idea.One conservative approach is that we are, or should be, each pretty much on our own. We are not our brothers’ keeper, and we are not responsible for helping each other. The buyer should beware; governmental intrusion should be kept to a minimum (except in matters of sexuality).Certainly both of these approaches can be taken too far. And in a pluralistic society, compromise is necessary.My personal feeling is that if you don’t want to contribute to society, you should not be allowed to benefit from that society either. I make a very comfortable living, and I am happy to contribute what I can. My taxes are far too low. I would be one of those people who wouild pay more if the FICA cap was raised or eliminated. And I’d be happy to do so; I want America and Americans to prosper.America can be more than it is, more than it would be if we continue to pretend we live in the Wild West.

  98. shortchain says:

    Realist,If we do not understand the history of a program, we cannot expect to modify it in a sensible fashion. Failing to remain true to original purpose is a primary reason for mission creep, for feature creep, whether for federal programs, military missions, or programming projects.The simple fact is that the dysfunctional design of our republic has created the current situation, where, rather than creating a sensible program to solve a particular problem, a Rube Goldberg monstrosity, grafted onto an existing chimera with only vaguely similar functionality, is often the only politically feasible way to get something done. And of course, the difficulty in creating a program then renders a program, once created, into a creature with more lives than a cat.I find it richly ironic that anyone could consider it realistic to imagine that, even before the current partisan divide rendered Congress incapable of the rational consideration of methodologies, it would be possible to cut the Gordian knot of political expediency and simply carve up SS into the three pieces proposed.But if that were to be tried, the way to do it would be to go back and look into the efforts that expanded SS, and see why they succeeded — and why they were not tried as separate programs.

  99. Mr. Universe says:

    Mule said,By almost any standard, Obama was the charismatic neophyte while McCain was the boring (ugly!) but qualified veteran. One had a brief Senate (and overall political) career but was arguable good-looking, young(er), and talked a good gameI have nothing but respect for John McCain. He has served this country with dignity. I am not worthy of being mentioned in the same breath as his service to America. But as an American, I can have a voice in who runs the joint. I chose Obama. No offense to Senator McCain. I just wanted the right person for the job. If this nation needs a hero to open a can of whoop ass, I’ll send John McCain. But right now, I need leadership. I need direction. I demand sanity. I voted for Obama.

  100. Realist says:

    @shortchain,I find it richly ironic that anyone could consider it realistic to imagine that, even before the current partisan divide rendered Congress incapable of the rational consideration of methodologies, it would be possible to cut the Gordian knot of political expediency and simply carve up SS into the three pieces proposed.Despite the name, I don’t mean to imply that I think it’s realistic. But you have to start somewhere in discussion of policy. So I typically like to start with the question of what is mutually agreeable.After that, then it’s worth talking about what’s realistically achievable within the bounds of the political environment.If you try to mix them, it’s too easy to get wrapped around the axle of talking past each other, and nothing is accomplished.

  101. Mule Rider says:

    “But as an American, I can have a voice in who runs the joint. I chose Obama. No offense to Senator McCain.”And that’s perfectly alright. I don’t condemn that choice. I’m just pointing out that before we throw our hands in the air and act all disgusted with some of the Republican “neophytes” running for Congress, let’s not forget that the roles were reversed (party-wise) for the highest office in the land just two short years ago. If Obama can be considered a legitimate choice for President with his relative inexperience but other endearing qualities, then I think people should have the right to choose some relatively inexperienced Republican Congressional members compared to their veteran Democratic opponents and not be ridiculed. I never meant to imply that it was wrong to vote for Obama over McCain or that only experience matters, just that it’s slightly hypocritical to justify a vote for Obama (allowing other factors to outweight his inexperience) but not extend the same courtesy to people voting Republican this time around. You can disagree with them for voting Republican on ideological grounds, but don’t get in a huff because they’re voting for the “inexperienced” guy/gal. That’s all I’m sayin’.

  102. shortchain says:

    I have only a modicum of respect for John McCain — and then only for his service.Of course, as the son and grandson of high-ranking officers, he really didn’t have all that much choice in life path. And he really didn’t distinguish himself in his military career. He absolutely didn’t show any significant administrative, strategic, or even tactical expertise.And then, as a candidate, he picked a catastrophe masquerading as a human being for his VP. A choice which we will have to live with now for years to come — although, thank the FSM, not as VP, merely as a voice like fingernails on a blackboard if we don’t hit the mute fast enough.To pretend that the choice between Obama and McCain is equivalent to the choice between, say, Coons and O’Donnell, is to slide the Overton window into the next room.

  103. Mule Rider says:

    “To pretend that the choice between Obama and McCain is equivalent to the choice between, say, Coons and O’Donnell, is to slide the Overton window into the next room”I call bullshit. To pretend the office of President is in any way comparable to the office of Delaware Senator is to completely ignore reality.

  104. Mule Rider says:

    “To pretend that the choice between Obama and McCain is equivalent to the choice between, say, Coons and O’Donnell, is to slide the Overton window into the next room”I call bullshit. To pretend the office of President is in any way comparable to the office of Delaware Senator is to completely ignore reality. You guys can poo-poo Christine O’Donnell all you want – and I won’t dispute that she’s an ignorant windbag who probably shouldn’t be in any elected position above mayor – but the fact of the matter is that the stakes are exponentially higher when choosing a President versus a Senator.But just keep on telling yourself whatever bullshit you have to hear to justify and explain it

  105. Mule Rider says:

    You guys can poo-poo Christine O’Donnell all you want – and I won’t dispute that she’s an ignorant windbag who probably shouldn’t be in any elected position above mayor – but the fact of the matter is that the stakes are exponentially higher when choosing a President versus a Senator.But just keep on telling yourself whatever bullshit you have to hear to justify and explain it

  106. shrinkers says:

    Mule, we get that you considered Obama to be inexperienced. Others disagree. And we had this argument back in the fall of ’08. And the criticism that the right leveled — that Obama was inexperienced — was clearly revealed as hypocritical nonsense when the right embraced Palin.At any rate, I don’t criticize O’Donnell for her inexperience. I rather agree with your assessment – “she’s an ignorant windbag who probably shouldn’t be in any elected position above mayor,” provided the town she’s mayor of has fewer than a dozen people.At any rate, I think when it comes down to it, you and I aren’t that far apart on the “experience” idea. There are other factors, some of which seem to be far more important at various times and to various people. I put far less emphasis on “charisma” than perhaps you think I do, and far more emphasis on things like apparent intelligence, education, and positions on issues.I don’t feel that an inexperienced candidate should be given a pass because he or she looks good. But I do feel that an inexperienced candidate with a good education, a great deal of brain power, and who surrounds him- or herself with the right people, can find ways to learn fast.And I also think that some people on the right (this does NOT include you) are far more interested in appearance than in intelligence. Many on the right seem to have an absolute horror of anyone smarter than they are. They want to elect people who also have contempt for intelligence and for learning. And I think that’s a very dangerous and counterproductive attitude to have.That’s my main problem with people like O’Donnell and Palin and many of the other Teaper candidates. They, and their adoring fans, are setting the bar far too low — not “inexperience”, but in “stupidity”.

  107. Scott says:

    “That’s my main problem with people like O’Donnell and Palin and many of the other Teaper candidates. They, and their adoring fans, are setting the bar far too low — not “inexperience”, but in “stupidity”.”I simply don’t understand this feeling that we need our elected leaders – especially the leader of the entire GD country – to be “one of us.” I know that I want to be sure that my President is smarter than me, knows more about the law than me, knows more about government than me, and is better-equipped to come up with solutions to fix problems than me.I don’t want someone who, by golly, is just one of y’all and comes down to my level.

  108. shortchain says:

    Muley,Oh, absolutely, one clueless dweeb as a senator won’t compare to a President (what party, again, was it who actually did give us a clueless dweeb and another without a functioning brain as President?)But when you have half a dozen nitwits you are pushing for the Senate, and the sanest and most intelligent of them is a whack-doodle like Miller in Alaska, the damage they can do far exceeds that which a President can manage, especially added to the nut-jobs already there, like Inhofe and DeMint.

  109. Mule Rider says:

    @shortchain,I’m not going to get in a pissiming match with you. It’s obvious that you’re a bitter partisan whose outlook makes any Republican/conservative an automatic nutjob or ignoramus and a Democrat/liberal is automatically sane or smart. There’s no use having dialogue with people who think that all of the problems in this country emanate from only one political party.

  110. shortchain says:

    Muley,Hmmm, your paraphrase of my arguments seems a bit lacking in precision. I’m pretty sure I could find a sane and even competent Republican if I searched hard enough — although it’s a lot harder than it used to be. And the Democrats have shown they are capable, if only clumsily, of participating in the race to the bottom that the implosion of the Republicans has ignited, so they don’t win any plaudits from me except by default.Yeah, the Democrats are often nuanced, weak, and conflicted. But they’re seldom bat-shit crazy like the GOP this cycle. Given the choice between sane and insane, I’ll take sane for 20 bucks.Perhaps that’s too bitter and partisan for you. If so, sorry.

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