November 13, 2014

Latest Lame Low-Turnout Excuse: ‘Couldn’t Get Time Off Work’

Well, if this doesn’t beat all.

Based on excuses provided by 63 people (35 percent) out of a “smallish sample” (I’ll say) of 181 nonvoters, the Washington Post’s Christopher Ingraham whined on Wednesday (HT Twitchy) about how “scheduling conflicts with work or school” kept people from voting last Tuesday. This alleged problem calls for solutions like “requiring employers to allow flexible scheduling on voting days,” “making election day a national holiday,” and/or “requiring eligible citizens to vote.” Even if you buy the “I was working” excuse — which I don’t — Ingraham acts as if other means of voting don’t exist, when of course they do.

(more…)

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Initial Unemployment Claims (111314); 290K SA; Raw Claims Down 16% From Same Week Last Year, Top 300K For First Time in Four Months

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:27 am

Predictions: Wall Street Journal — 280,000 seasonally adjusted claims, vs. 278K last week, pendning revision.

Press interest in this report appears to be waning. It’s not in the Top 10 things at Business Insider, and I couldn’t immediately find a prediction at Bloomberg News.

The seasonal adjustment factors are about the same for this year and last year’s analogous week (106.6 last year, 105.7 this year), though they’re both a lot higher than the previous week, meaning that a much higher raw claims number can seasonally adjust downward into a number which fits the trend. I don’t quite see why this week’s 2014 and 2013 factors should differ so much from the previous last week.

The report will be here at 8:30.

HERE IT IS (permanent link), with a result I find a bit surprising:

SEASONALLY ADJUSTED DATA

In the week ending November 8, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 290,000, an increase of 12,000 from the previous week’s unrevised level of 278,000. The 4-week moving average was 285,000, an increase of 6,000 from the previous week’s unrevised average of 279,000.

UNADJUSTED DATA

The advance number of actual initial claims under state programs, unadjusted, totaled 306,889 in the week ending November 8, an increase of 39,968 (or 15.0 percent) from the previous week. The seasonal factors had expected an increase of 27,277 (or 10.2 percent) from the previous week. There were 364,167 initial claims in the comparable week in 2013.

Well, maybe it’s a blip with no long-term significance, but this is the first time raw claims have topped 300,000 since mid-July. If they don’t fall below roughly 294,000 next week, we’ll get a seasonally adjusted reading above 300K.

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Thursday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (111314)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 6:05 am

This open thread is meant for commenters to post on items either briefly noted below (if any) or otherwise not covered at this blog. Rules are here.

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Positivity: Religious freedom battle ‘daunting,’ but bishops urged to persist

Filed under: Health Care,Life-Based News,Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

From Baltimore:

Nov 12, 2014 / 05:05 pm

The leader of the U.S. bishops’ religious freedom committee encouraged his fellow bishops not to lose heart, but to place their trust in God, in the ongoing battle for religious liberty.

“Sometimes it might seem that fighting or struggling against threats to religious liberty is a daunting task,” Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore acknowledged, but we know that “with God all things are possible.”

“And we realize that with prayer is the ultimate source of our wisdom and our strength and our pastoral love in these struggles,” he stressed.

Archbishop Lori addressed the U.S. bishops at their annual fall assembly in Baltimore on Nov 11, giving an update on the Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty, which he chairs.

He listed current affairs that the committee is keeping a close eye on, which include new state proposals requiring all health plans to cover abortions with no religious exemptions.

In a similar case in August, California’s state Department of Managed Health Care declared that employee health plans at two Catholic universities limiting abortion coverage were in violation of state law.

The state’s Catholic conference had deplored the action, saying it “directly targeted” Catholic institutions and calling it “government coercion of the worst kind” and a “flagrant violation of their civil rights.” Archbishop Lori singled out that case as one of particular concern to the committee.

Also among the laws and regulations being monitored by the committee is the HHS mandate, which requires employers to offer health insurance plans covering contraception, sterilization and some early abortion drugs.

The federal mandate has prompted lawsuits from more than 300 plaintiffs. The Supreme Court issued a ruling affecting some of these cases over the summer, upholding the right of closely-held corporations owned by individuals with religious objections to the mandate, such as Hobby Lobby.

However, more than 100 legal cases against the HHS mandate are currently open, the archbishop said. “That’s keeping us all pretty busy,” he admitted. An update to the mandate was recently released and is being studied by the bishops’ religious freedom committee.

In addition, Archbishop Lori noted the growing threat to religious liberty being posed by “laws redefining marriage.” Such laws have led to businesses and religious entities being threatened with fines or closure for seeking to maintain their longstanding beliefs on marriage.

Despite the ongoing challenges in the realm of religious freedom, the archbishop called for hope.

Go here for the rest of the story.

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November 12, 2014

Republican Wave Drowns Pollsters

Filed under: MSM Biz/Other Bias,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 11:38 pm

If they’re right from now on, it will it only be by accident.

____________________________________

This column went up at PJ Media Monday evening and was teased here at BizzyBlog Tuesday morning.

____________________________________

Despite all of their supposed science, improved methodologies, and sophisticated turnout models, nation’s pollsters have just suffered through their worst midterm elections drubbing in 20 years. The last time they were off this badly was when they woefully underestimated Republican gains in the Newt Gingrich “Contract with America” midterms of 1994.

In this year’s U.S. Senate races, preelection “tossup” predictions really meant “comfortable Republican wins” in three instances — Georgia, Iowa and Kansas, where Republican victory margins were eight, nine, and 11 points, respectively. Four of the others — Alaska, Colorado, Louisiana, and North Carolina — went the GOP’s way, or appear destined to. The Democrats sole tossup triumph was in New Hampshire. Additionally, soon-to-be Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s race in Kentucky and the Arkansas Senate contest were both supposed to be fairly close. Instead, they were 16-point and 17-point blowouts, respectively.

Additionally, an expected easy ten-point Democrat win in the Virginia Senate race turned into a one-point nailbiter. I think it’s entirely possible that a comprehensive audit of the Old Dominion State’s results throwing out the ballots of foreign nationals and all others who illegally voted would have turned Ed Gillespie’s 17,000-vote loss into a win. Even if going through the exercise didn’t make up the margin, it would have been an ideal opportuinty to make an important point about election integrity. Unfortunately, Republicans all too often concede prematurely.

The polling fails in governors’ races were in some respects even worse, especially since two ordinarily solid blue states went red. Republicans’ five-point win in Maryland came after almost every post-Labor Day poll showed Larry Hogan’s Democratic opponent with a double-digit lead. The Democratic incumbent’s situation in Illinois was tougher, but he still was expected to beat back a challenge from Republican Bruce Rauner. Instead, Rauner won by five points. Finally, despite all-out attacks by Paul Krugman and others at the New York Times, the GOP’s Sam Brownback outperformed the polls by six points in defeating his Democratic challenger in Kansas. A Times preelection editorial claimed that Brownback’s tax cuts we “on trial.” Well, they won with the voters.

This time, pollsters’ usual excuses won’t cut it. Their models overestimated black and Hispanic turnout, even though, based on history, everyone should have expected significant apathy going in. And sure, there were last-minute Democrat gaffes which the polls had no way to pick up. Michelle Obama’s flat-out lie about job growth in Illinois and Joe Biden’s tagging of incumbent Republican Senator Pat Roberts’ opponent in Kansas as a de facto Dem on Election Day certainly helped Republicans, but they don’t fully explain the unpredicted shellacking Democrats took in those two states.

There are two far more fundamental problems pollsters face. I don’t see how they can overcome either.

As succinctly stated by Pew Research’s Center for the People & the Press in 2012: “It has become increasingly difficult to contact potential respondents and to persuade them to participate.”

A chart at Pew’s related report based on its own experience lays it out:

PewTable9percentPollCooperation2012

Framing the chart’s results in negative language:

  • Between 1997 and 2012, the failure rate in contacting a potential survey participant almost quadrupled, rising from 10 percent to 38 percent. That’s not at all surprising. Caller ID was less common 17 years ago. Today, many targeted participants won’t pick up their phones if they don’t recognize a call’s origin phone number, or if the call comes in as “private” or “restricted.” Many families, whose members already have their own individual wireless phones, never bother to check messages left at their households’ landline phones, which many pollsters still usually treat as their main number.
  • During the 15-year period studied, the failed-to-cooperate rate among those who were contacted increased from 57 percent to 86 percent. In other words, by 2012, six out of seven people contacted were refusing to go ahead with an interview, begging off before its completion, or getting terminated by the pollster for incoherence.

Combining these two problems caused Pew’s survey completion rate to plummet by 27 points, or 75 percent, in 15 years. In 2012, fewer than one in ten contacts ultimately resulted in a completed interview. It would be quite a surprise to see any kind of improvement in that figure in the past two years, while it’s quite easy to imagine that the completion rate is even lower now. There’s also no reason to believe that Pew’s experience is materially different from what other pollsters are facing.

Even in the 1990s, it was already shaky to contend that one could credibly generalize about an entire population based on the willing participation of barely one-third of the desired respondent group. Now we’re supposed to believe such generalizations can still be done based on participation rates as low as 9 percent — or even lower, given that this was Pew’s 2012 average.

For all of this not to matter, one would have to believe that there’s no significant difference between the views of those who can and can’t be reached, or between participants and refusers. That premise falls flat on its face once one recognizes that Republicans are twice as likely to distrust the media as Democrats, and that pollsters are usually and properly seen as representatives of the media.

There’s one more wild card which belongs in the mix, namely whether participants are even willing to tell pollsters the truth. Though unrelated (or so we certainly hope), revelations since 2012 about government spying on journalists and its massive data collection efforts relating to citizens’ phone, Internet and other activities might be expected to lead to lower willingness to participate in polls. Those who still participate may be less inclined to express non-”mainstream” opinions in surveys while still doing so in the voting booth on Election Day.

Other than the obvious political lessons everyone but President Obama and many Democrats have learned from this year’s midterms, there’s are two important strategic lessons for poiitical candidates. First, never, ever place full faith in internal or external polls. Second, don’t let up for a single minute until the polls close on Election Day.

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Wednesday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (111214)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 6:05 am

This open thread is meant for commenters to post on items either briefly noted below (if any) or otherwise not covered at this blog. Rules are here.

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Positivity: Pope Francis recognizes ‘heroic virtue’ of 12-year-old boy

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:01 am

From Vatican City:

Nov 8, 2014 / 01:18 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis advanced the sainthood causes for a 12-year-old Italian boy who died late 1970s as well as seven other men and women, recognizing all for their “heroic virtue.”

The Pope authorized the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints to declare the eight laypersons, priests, and religious – including young Silvio Dissegna – as “venerable.”

The move was announced Nov. 7 during an audience with Cardinal Angelo Amato, head of the cause for saints congregation.

Born Jul. 1, 1967 in the Turin province of Moncalieri, Italy, Dissegna was diagnosed with bone cancer early 1978. According to the website dedicated to his cause, www.silviodissegna.org, he spent his illness in prayer, and exhibited a strong devotion to the Rosary. He also offered his sufferings up for the Pope, missionaries, the conversion of sinners, among other intentions. He died on Sep. 24, 1979 in Poirino, Italy.

Also recognized as venerable was Marthe Louise Robin. A french laywoman and founder of the Foyers de Charité, Robin was a mystic and reported stigmatist. She died Feb. 6, 1981.

Another French-born laywoman, Jeanne Mance was founder of the Hotel-Dieu hospital in Montréal, Canada. She died in Montréal on June 18, 1673.

Pope Francis also approved the advancement of the cause to sainthood of fellow Jesuit Fr. John Sullivan, S.J. The Irish priest of the Society of Jesus died in Dublin in 1933.

Others on the list of new Venerables include German priest, Fr. Pelagius Sauter; Chilean Franciscan, Francesco Massimiano Valdes Subercaseaux, O.F.M; Italian Abbot and founder of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Reparationi fo the Holy Face of Jesus, Ildebrando Gregori; and Italian Fr. Raimondo Calcagno, of the Oratory of Saint Philip Neri. …

Go here for the rest of the story.

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ANOTHER Gruber ‘Stupid Voters’ Video Surfaces; Fox’s Megyn Kelly Goes Off

If Jonathan Gruber, the Obama administration and the establishment press thought that Gruber’s faux mea culpa appearance on MSNBC Tuesday afternoon would get them off the hook and avoid the need to deal with and cover the Obamacare architect’s exposure of the left’s mendacity, they were sadly mistaken.

There’s yet another damning “stupid voters” video. Megyn Kelly was all over it Tuesday night, exposing the defiantly silent White House’s and others’ former financial and emotional love for and dependence on the MIT economist’s work.

(more…)

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November 11, 2014

Atlantic Columnist: Progressives ‘Have Every Reason to Be Celebrating’

Far be it from me to talk a leftist columnist out of an ignorant, self-satisfied position which might, if anything, cause his fellow travelers to hit the accelerator a little less aggressively in future political campaigns.

At the Atlantic on Monday afternoon, Richard Reeves, policy director of the Center on Children and Families at the Brookings Institution, claimed that the left shouldn’t be so glum after Tuesday’s election results, because “progressive policies are working.” His very first graph makes a mockery of his claim (bold is mine):

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Man Who Has Surfaced Damning Gruber Vids Faults Media’s Failure to Discover Them

David Weigel's writeup this afternoon at Bloomberg Politics ("Meet the Mild-Mannered Investment Advisor Who's Humiliating the Administration Over Obamacare") is about the guy who has found at least two incriminating videos of Jonathan Gruber revealing the true intentions behind the Affordable Care Act. In some respects, it's well done and interesting.

What’s not well done is Bloomberg’s choice of the pull quote to highlight:

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Yeah, We Need to Post Obamacare Architect Gruber’s Damning Deception Admission

And I have saved it too.

Here it is:

Transcript (most):

You can’t do it (pass the law) politically. You just literally cannot do it.

Okay. Transparent financing … transparent spending. I mean, the, this bill was written in a tortured way to make sure CBO did not score the mandate as taxes. If CBO scored the mandate as taxes, the bill dies. Okay, so it was written to do that.

In terms of risk-rated subsidies, you get a law which said healthy people are going to pay in, it made explicit that healthy people pay and sick people get money, it would not have passed. Ok? Just like the cal – people transparent – lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. And basically, you know, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically, that was really, really critical to getting this thing to pass.

And y’know, it’s the second-best argument. … but I’d rather have this law than not.

The Affordable Care Act’s legitimacy is now indisputable. Without question, it has no substantive legitimacy. On that basis alone, those who choose to ignore and defy it have an airtight defense in fact, if not in law.

Nancy Pelosi infamously said that “we’ll have to pass the health care bill before you can find out what’s in it.”

She should have added, “In the meantime, at least until we pass it, we’re going to deceive you about what’s in it, and we’ll for as long as we can withhold our deception from the American people.”

Fortunately, that wasn’t forever.

Unfortunately, it took 4-1/2 years to learn the truth.

And of course the establishment press pretends it means nothing and ignores it, when it means everything.

___________________________

UPDATE: So Gruber appeared on MSNBC’s Ronan Farrow show to attempt damage control, which only proves two things:

  • First, his lies won’t stand up to any kind of questioning by a legitimate journalist.
  • Second, he was pressured to appear in front of a sympathetic interviewer somewhere, ANYWHERE, so the rest of the press, which was on the verge having to be forced to get his comments out in the open or look absolutely foolish, can now pretend that it’s over, no big deal, and not worthy of being exposed to low-information voters.
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Massachusetts Town Wants to Ban Tobacco; But What About Pot?

A Sunday Associated Press item carried at its national news site informs readers that the town of Westminster in north central Massachusetts is seriously considering a ban on tobacco products. The Boston Globe covered the story in a lengthy report on October 28, and the Washington Post carried a brief item at its GovBeat blog that same day.

None of those three items addressed an obvious question: If it’s okay to ban the sale of a product primarily on the basis of the harm it causes when smoked, what is the justification for legalizing marijuana throughout Massachusetts and elsewhere? Many Bay State observers believe, based on the number of nonbinding referenda passed and the changing public mood, that pot legalization is perhaps two years away.

(more…)

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Latest PJ Media Column (‘Republican Wave Drowns Pollsters’) Is Up

It’s here.

It will go up here at BizzyBlog late Wednesday evening (link won’t work until then) after the blackout expires.

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NewsBusted (111114)

Filed under: NewsBusted — Tom @ 6:20 am

Here we go:

Topics:
– Midterm Elections
– President Obama
– MSNBC
– D.C. Legalizes Medical Marijuana
– Illinois Governor Pat Quinn
– F.B.I.
– Associated Press
– Al Franken

Best Lines:

  • “Washington, DC residents voted to legalize recreational marijuana last week. So now it’s official: DC now stands for ‘District of Cannabis.’”
  • “In related news, Florida voters rejected the legalization of medical marijuana. Exit polls show that much of the pro-marijuana base is just now showing up to vote.”
  • “Despite losing by 5 points, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn will not concede until every vote is counted. Apparently Quinn received nowhere near the amount of votes he paid for.”
  • “News that an FBI agent was posing as a AP reporter came as no surprise to the Assocated Press. The Associated Press employs hundreds of men and women who pose as reporters every day.”
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Tuesday Off-Topic (Moderated) Open Thread (111114)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 6:05 am

This open thread is meant for commenters to post on items either briefly noted below (if any) or otherwise not covered at this blog. Rules are here.

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