Sunday, October 28, 2012

Hurricane Sandy. Unprecedented As Long As You Ignore The Precedents

The loonies are out in force.
“I’ve never seen anything like this and I’m at a loss for expletives to describe what this storm could do.”
Yes, I’ve never seen anything like it either nor have our modern meteorological tools. As I wrote yesterday afternoon, we don’t know whether our tools are up to the task because no storm of this nature has occurred in the modern meteorological era….

“Isn’t it strange that a hurricane in the Bahamas would somehow turn into a monster mega-storm and slam into the Northeast at the end of October? Aren’t hurricanes supposed to weaken as they move north over cold water? What the hell is going on?
The answers are… yes, yes, and we’re not completely sure. This is a beyond-strange situation. It’s unprecedented and bizarre.
What a crock of shit.  I spent five minutes and found three October storms with similar profiles to Sandy. All three originated in the same spot in the Caribbean. All of them intensified as they moved north. Two of them plowed straight into the North American continent. Hurricane Irene, in 1999 (ancient history I guess) intensified into a Category 2 hurricane over the same water Sandy has held (barely) its Category 1 status.
Hurricane Hazel, in October 1954, intensified as it moved north through the Bahamas to strike the Carolinas as a Category 4 storm. Hurricane Isabell, in October 1964, also intensified into a Category 3 storm as it moved north over the same waters as Sandy before striking near the North Carolina/Virginia border.

Just imagine what I could have found had I looked before 1950?

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Who Is More Civil?

I just did a little Google experiment by searching for the following terms:

"X should be shot"
"X should be killed"
"X are evil"

Where "X" is either the word Republicans or the word Democrats.

Using the word "Republicans" returned 217,400 responses.
Using the word "Democrats" returned 85,100 responses.

Just sayin'.

A Confession

I have a confession to make.

I have not voted in an election, of any kind, since 1998.

I fell out of the habit on voting when I lived in Washington, DC. Voting in DC is a pointless prospect (for everyone) as there are no competitive elections there, and, besides, the local pols are hopelessly corrupt. After I left DC I lived in five different places in three years. Not a situation that encourages civil engagement to any great degree.

In the meantime, I continued to think about and, once I started this blog, write about politics. However, I found I was content to leave things in the realm of opinion. Sure, I had a rooting interest, but not at a level that required my participation.

I began this election cycle with no intention of that changing. Romney was always the most likely to emerge from a decidedly lackluster group of Republican candidates and, for me, there was nothing all that appealing about the prospect. It must be said, in all honesty, my feelings concerning Romney really haven't changed over time. I will never think, "Wow! I get to vote for Mitt!"

So what happened to get me motivated to register and vote? In a word, Benghazi.

I have not written much of anything about the attack and its aftermath, mostly because it would have been a string of invective fit to make a longshoreman blush. The initial responses of the Obama administration (to blame a YouTube video, and to attack Romney in a bid to gain a temporary political advantage) were bad enough, but as September wore on I was still content to criticize and stay on the sidelines. However, by the dying days of September, as the ineptitude and duplicity of the Obama administration became increasingly apparent, my disgust level reached an intolerable level. Writing out my opinions and standing on the sidelines was not going to cut it anymore.

In a sense Obama will accomplish the impossible on election day; he will make it possible for me to vote for Mitt Romney with enthusiasm.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

A Tale Of Two Polls

I mentioned last time out that the more Obama friendly polling assumes Democrats will enjoy similar advantages in enthusiasm compared to Republicans that they did in 2008. You can see this assumption built into some of the polling. For example, this recently released Time magazine poll which shows Obama up 5 points in Ohio and which many lefties are convinced means the election is over.

If you look at he internals of the poll you discover the pollsters have broken down the Ohio electorate as follows:

Democrat: 37%
Republican: 28%
Independent: 29%

(The numbers don't add up to 100% in the above because 40 something respondents answered something else.)

Now, lets compare this to the Suffolk University poll which found the race a dead heat.

Democrat: 39%
Republican: 35%
Independent: 27%

Very, very different samples, you will agree. So different, in fact, that the Time sample seems to be measuring an "Ohio" in a alternate universe (presumably one in which the sky is always fuchsia.) Indeed, no other poll listed by Real Clear Politics is claiming Independents outnumber Republicans in Ohio. However, that is the sample Time is using. When you look at the exit polling from 2008, when everything, and I mean everything was breaking in Obama's favor the partisan split between Democrat and Republican was only +8D. That's right, Time is telling us this election will break even more favorably for Obama than 2008 at +9D.

The way they achieve this "result" is by skewing the gender numbers. In the Time sample a full 65% of Democratic respondents are women, in the Republican sample its a 50/50 split (exactly.) The only way they make the whole thing not look ridiculous is by making the Independent sample skew male heavy at 57%.  As males as a group break heavily for Romney this gender imbalance has the effect of depressing Romney's vote total among Republicans and pumping up Obama's score among Democrats. Time has Romney winning among Republicans by 84% to 11%, while McCain won 92% to 8%.  Meanwhile they have Obama winning amongst Democrats 92% to 6%, while in 2008 those numbers were 89% to 11%.

Among Independents Romney is ahead 53% to 38%. In 2008 Independents went for Obama by a 52% to 44% margin.

Any way you want to slice it, it don't add up.

What A Difference A Month Makes

I put together a little chart looking at ten prominent "battleground states" to see what the last month or so has meant for the poll numbers. (Positive numbers = Obama lead; negative numbers = Romney lead).

It certainly looks like there has been a lot of erosion of support for Obama, doesn't it?

(Note: There has been no recent data released for North Carolina as Obama is no longer viewed as being competitive in the state. I used the latest available data, October 18th, for the later North Carolina average. All data gleaned from Real Clear Politics.)

As a point of comparison, here are the current poll numbers compared with the actual results of 2008.

Many of the "predictive models" have been assuming 2008 levels of enthusiasm for Obama in the tailoring of their samples. However, its difficult to see that enthusiasm when you look at the numbers.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

An Analogy (Presented As If Tweeted)

Grapes are like twelve pressure treated 2x4s.

If you don't understand why that is you must be an idiot.


Thursday, October 18, 2012

Thank Goodness. I've Been Delisted.

There is something kind of quaint about "blogrolls" in this day and age. Those of us who have been writing these sorts of things for awhile can certainly remember a time when getting added to this or that blogroll was viewed with a generous amount of satisfaction.

As the technology has changed so has the need for hyperlink collections diminished. I still use my blogroll to quickly jump to sites, but even I largely use Twitter and aggregators like Memeorandum to see what is new. Still, I try from time to time to clean up my links. You will notice I break the links up into two groups. The first group, the "Roll of Honor" included those site which reciprocated with a link back to The Iconic Midwest. The "Link We Life (Mostly)" section includes sites that have not reciprocated.

Today, I am rather relieved to remove The Moderate Voice from my roll of honor. Once upon a time this would have been a melancholic occasion, but those days have long since passed. Whatever TMV was back in the day, it has become the kind of site I feel like I need to take a shower after visiting. The kind of tin foil hat wearing conspiracies you would expect to find only in the bowels of The Daily Kos have become the everyday fodder at TMV. They have become so warped that they consider places like Little Green Footballs and Kiko's House as "centrist voices." Look, I link to Kiko's on my blogroll, but I wouldn't call "centrist" a blog that routinely has posts such as "America's Most Dangerous Organized Crime Family: The Republican Party". (As for the hate-fest that is LGF, the less said about it the better. Rank partisanship of the Kiko's House variety is fine. The dehumanizing rhetoric of LGF is not. It's more than a little scary that TMV sees no distinction worthy of making here.)

Ah well...sadly it is the way it is these days.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

They Got Nothing

You know things are getting bad in Democrat-land when their only response to people who are worried about getting a job or holding onto the the multiple jobs they are taking just to make ends meet is to say "Romney said 'Binders of Women'!"

Wow. They must really disdain the American people to believe they would be swayed by such crapola.

On the other hand, it isn't like they have any ideas to offer.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Do No Harm

If someone were to try to pin me down about why I view the world, and in particular the American political landscape, the way I do it would most probably boil down to a few main points. Some of them would touch upon my own eccentricities (e.g. I am an incorrigible contrarian), but mostly my political principles stem from a belief that ideology is neither inevitable nor desirable. This is the reason that while I am certainly right of center as such things are measured in American political discourse, you will find no Randian nonsense here.

My biggest beef with ideology is that it acts as a replacement for thinking. When presented with a question or with a situation in the real world that needs addressing, the ideologue responds automatically with a canned answer. Wed this approach with a belief in the moral superiority of their brand of ideological thinking and you have a recipe for disaster on a large scale.

Affirmative action is a classic case in point. The confluence of ideology and rampant moralizing has produced a toxic brew that has positively harmed minority students in this country despite the "best intentions" of the Left. Tragically the ideologically fevered are simply unable to see the truth of this and are therefore doomed to keep inflicting this harm upon minority students.
There is now increasing evidence that students who receive large preferences of any kind—whether based on race, athletic ability, alumni connections or other considerations—experience some clear negative effects: Students end up with poor grades (usually in the bottom fifth of their class), lower graduation rates, extremely high attrition rates from science and engineering majors, substantial self-segregation on campus, lower self-esteem and far greater difficulty passing licensing tests (such as bar exams for lawyers).
The most encouraging part of this research is the parallel finding that these same students have dramatically better outcomes if they go to schools where their level of academic preparation is much closer to that of the median student. That is, black and Hispanic students—as well as the smaller numbers of preferentially admitted athletes and children of donors—excel when they avoid the problem of what has come to be called "mismatch."
... Even as social scientists have transformed our understanding of affirmative action, universities don't seem to be paying attention. Consider the University of California system, which since 1998 has been legally precluded (by Proposition 209) from considering race in admissions. Throughout the past 15 years—most recently in a brief submitted to the Supreme Court—university officials have denounced race neutrality and pointed to the substantial drop in freshman black and Hispanic students at the system's two flagship schools, Berkeley and UCLA.
Yet race-neutrality has produced stunning benefits for minorities in the UC system as a whole, as shown in a data set that economists obtained from UC administrators. Black, American-Indian and Hispanic students made up 26% of all U.C. freshmen in 2010, up from 16% in 1997; the number of B.A.s earned by black and Hispanic students in four years rose 55% between 1995-97 and 2001-03, while the number with GPAs above 3.5 rose 63%.
So, even in the face of overwhelming evidence that not mismatching students via affirmative action has led to dramatic improvements for minority students in California, the ideologues still want to impose their failed ideas upon everyone. It is as if they are saying, "We would rather harm minority students than have them succeed on anything other than our own terms." I'm sorry, but there is nothing noble or moral about such a position. The only thing that should matter is what is best for students, i.e. under what conditions are they most likely to succeed? Nothing else matters very much. Lousy ideology matters not at all.

Monday, October 08, 2012

Happy Columbus Day

And I mean it. No, holier than thou crapola here.