Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Don't Obsess Over Polls.

This year in particular, pundits, hosts, and candidates have been fixated on one thing - poll numbers.  While polling is important in a presidential race, it is important to remember polls are not that important in this early stage of the election.

Don't worry.  You have a statistics major turned data science major here to break it down for you.

This year in particular on the Republican side polls have been placed in higher importance due to the fact that it determines which stage the candidates will be on for the debates.  It is important to make the top 10, but every candidate who made the top 10 is doing the one very crucial thing right now: consistently polling decently.

I check RealClearPolitics every single day to watch the polling numbers.  At this point, it's not that important to be trending up or getting concerned when your candidates poll numbers are trending down.  As long as they are maintaining some sort of consistent polling, then they are doing fine because he or she is keeping his or her name on the map.

Three-quarters of primary voters will not choose their candidate until about a month out from the election in their state.  Therefore, you can start looking at and worrying about trends at the beginning of January for the states of Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Nevada.  Until then however, I would say you should more likely pay attention to the favorable-unfavorable rankings and the percentage of people who would never vote for the candidates.

If you still want to look deeper into current polls, it is important to keep in mind the statistical errors of these polls.  When a reporter announces something along the lines of "Donald Trump increases his lead by another 3 points" or "Jeb falls 5 points in the latest poll," take it with a very large grain of salt.  Being this far out from an election, the polls being conducted are not going to have the same precision as before the general.  Therefore, they tend to sample less people, which results in a higher margin of error, sometimes upward of 5%.

Just think about that for a second.  You have all these candidates on the Republican side polling about 5%.  If there is a large error in the polling for whatever reason, they could possibly actually have 10% support or >1% support.  That would either put them at the front or back of the pack.

The lesson here is that it is important to slow down and not consider every newly released poll as certain, not to be challenged polling percentages of the candidates.

Finally, don't believe every poll that you see.  Here's a good recommendation: if it's a reputable enough poll to be used in the RealClearPolitics average, then it was most likely scientifically conducted properly.  If not, I personally do not trust the poll, unless the organization who conducted the poll has a reputable history in the field.

I bring this up due to the recent polls after the debate.  People from all over the internet pointed to the Drudge Report poll as proof that Donald Trump won the debate.  This poll was not scientifically conducted in any way.  It was literally Drudge Report readers who voted in the poll, which automatically has a significant bias in the sample if the population you are looking for is Republican primary voters.

If there is any reason to suspect bias in a poll, throw it out.  If it was conducted by a website, throw it out.  If there is a significant backing of a candidate by an organization, throw it out.  If you click on the poll to view the actual data and it directs you to a Twitter post, throw it out.  (Yes, that did happen yesterday.)

The only online poll I would even possibly consider, though examining with much more scrutiny and caution than others, is a YouGov poll, which have shown to be fairly consistent with reputable polls.  However, there are still serious doubts over possible biases still present.

Overall Lesson:  Don't worry about polls so much.  Not every poll is a make or break.  Question every polls findings.

If you are looking for reputable sites in order to look at and analyze polling data, I recommend the following:
  • realclearpolitics.com
  • fivethirtyeight.com
  • gallup.com

Friday, August 7, 2015

Why Megyn Kelly Deserves Your Respect.

Megyn Kelly was one of three debate moderators for the first GOP debate.  She delivered some of the toughest questions of the night, not because she was attacking the candidates, but because she is a serious journalist bringing up serious concerns the American electorate have about the candidates running for President of the United States.  Because of this, she deserves your respect.

In the day following the debate, Megyn Kelly received a lot of heat from those online, claiming she was attacking candidates, particularly Trump, with her hard-hitting questions.  Some went so far as to claim that it was not a debate, but an "inquisition" loved by the liberal media.

So what.  Megyn Kelly came out there and delivered the toughest questions she and the debate prepers could come up with because if they are not asked now, they will be asked in the future.  You should be thanking Megyn Kelly and Fox News for that performance because it provided significant insight into who are the real Republican contenders and who are the men who needed to be escorted off that stage.  In a crowded field of 17, candidates have to go, and candidates need to go quick so we as a party can sit down with only the truly viable options in front of us before going into the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary next year.

Just think for a moment though.  This was preparation for the general election.  The Clintons don't play nice; the Clintons play dirty, and they play to win.  If your candidate couldn't handle the questions in the debate or felt victimized by the questions he was asked, then he isn't fit to be the Republican Party's nominee for the President of the United States because he will get smoked in the general election.

Megyn Kelly had a job in this debate.  Deliver hard-hitting questions that spark interesting debate and show the electorate where the candidates stand on issues that are important to them, and she did a fantastic job.

Now, Trump felt personally victimized by Megyn Kelly's questions in the debate.  Good.  The reason he feels this way is because no reporter has been asking him significant, hard-hitting questions about where he stands on policy issues and his electability.

The question he seemed most victimized on, even addressing Megyn Kelly personally in his response is the following exchange:

Later that night, he followed up on that promise not to be nice to Megyn Kelly on his Twitter account, calling her "overrated and angry," "hostile and unprofessional," and a "bimbo."

He exactly proved her point.  On the world stage, when somebody doesn't like you or treat you the way you want to be treated, Trump cannot resort to name-calling.  It is childish and makes him unfit to lead any nation.

Additionally, she asked a valid question concerning when he actually became a Republican because his policy issues have been all over the political spectrum his entire life.

However, it wasn't just Trump who got pressed with difficult questions from Megyn Kelly.  Scott Waker received what I think was the toughest question of the night, and I think he also answered it extremely poorly.

Megyn Kelly also started the most memorable exchange of the night between Chris Christie and Rand Paul, exposing a great ideological rift in the party and distinguishing which candidates stood on which side.  (Just a fact check: Chris Christie was a corporate lawyer during the 9/11 attacks, not a governor.  The FBI has also stated that the NSA program has not prevented a single terrorist attack.  But that's my ideological input.)

One final example: Megyn Kelly pressed socially conservative John Kasich on his opinion of gay marriage, which was one of the toughest questions of the night.  However, with such tough questions can come even better answers, such as in this case.

Therefore, Megyn Kelly was not going after any one candidate.  She was asking tough questions in order to inform the American voters on the candidates and help them determine which candidates align most with their own views.  This wasn't an interview; this was a Presidential debate.  She did a fantastic job and deserves your respect for asking the hard questions the majority of America wanted to and needed to hear the answers to.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

The Winners and Losers of the First Debate.

The first GOP debate finally got underway last night.  Here are the most memorable moments, and the winners and losers from the first debate.

LOSERS: Everyone from the 5 P.M. debate except Carly Fiorina.

Looking back on the first debate, I cannot tell you anything Rick Perry or Rick Santorum proposed.  I only remember Lindsay Graham because he suggested anyone who doesn't want to put troops on the ground in the Middle East isn't qualified to run for president.  From there, I can't even remember everyone else on the stage.

WINNER: Carly Fiorina.

Not only do I think she was the winner of the 5 P.M. debate by a landslide, I thought she was the best candidate out of both fields tonight.  Her answers were sharp, witty, didn't seem scripted, and had great details on policy positions laced throughout her answers.  She was AMAZING.  Period.  She deserves to be debating on the prime time stage.  She would have taken on Trump harder than any of those on the prime time stage.

LOSER: Donald Trump.

It's never good to start a debate when you're getting booed by an entire arena within the first 5 minutes.  That's exactly what he did, and the answers did not get much better from there, defending very hateful and derogatory comments he has made of women on his twitter account.  The study group showed Republicans were disappointed with Trump after the debate, and I can almost guarantee you will start to see his numbers go down in the coming days.

WINNER/LOSER: Chris Christie and Rand Paul.

Chris Christie and Rand Paul picked some fights tonight, most notably with each other.  No doubt in doing so, they generated headlines and stories about themselves, most likely to help their poll numbers in the short run.  However, it is uncertain whether these will last.

In the back and forth between Paul and Christie, I believe Paul came out on top with the Hughazi remark.  However, not everybody saw it that way, and some people thought Paul took it too far tonight.

In Christie's ruff up with Huckabee, Christie did make an important point, though not politically popular.  There is no way we can sustain social security without entitlement reforms, and every honest economist will tell you that.  However, this is not politically popular and could possibly hurt him in the future.

LOSER: Jeb Bush.

He didn't do anything memorable.  His answers were weak, and he still couldn't answer the question on Iraq, even though it has to be at least the fourth time he's received the question.

WINNER: Mike Huckabee.

Huckabee has a strong debate performance, provided substantive answers, and has a very memorable closing statement.

LOSER: Scott Walker.

I really like Scott Walker, but I think he performed terribly.  No answers were memorable to me, except his abortion answer, which I thought was a complete dodge and a terrible answer.  He severely under-performed.

WINNERS/LOSERS: Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, John Kasich.

Some people viewed their performances as good.  Some people viewed their performances as bad.  Personally, I can't remember any significant responses, so I think they failed in their duty to create headlines with their statements.

Additionally, I know these three, as well as others, kept bring up their parents' backstories.  I really don't care to know if your parents are immigrants, or an alcoholic, or a mailman, etc.  I want to know what specific policy measures you would like to put into place for America.  Unless your parents or a life event specifically relates to your policy, I don't want to hear your sob story.  That's not going to help America in any way.

 WINNER: Ben Carson.

Ben Carson came out of the gate slow and got lost in the more combative debaters for what seemed like over an hour.  However, his answer to his last question was spot on and resonated with Republican voters.  Then, he had the best one liner of the night in his closing statement.  I don't think there was any clear cut winner of the prime time debate, but if I had to chose one, it would be Ben Carson specifically for his closing statement.

My Rankings:

Rankings Before                                                    Rankings After
1) Rand Paul                                                          1) Rand Paul
2) Scott Walker                                                      2) Carly Fiorina
3) Ben Carson                                                        3) Ben Carson
4) Carly Fiorina                                                     4) John Kasich
5) John Kasich                                                       5) Scott Walker
6) Mike Huckabee                                                  6) Mike Huckabee
7) Chris Christie                                                     7) Ted Cruz
8) Ted Cruz                                                            8) Marco Rubio
9) Marco Rubio                                                      9) Jeb Bush
10) Jeb Bush                                                          10) Chris Christie
11) Donald Trump                                                 11) Donald Trump

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

The GOP Debate Drinking Game.

***Disclaimer: I am not held liable if you actually decide to play this game.***

Starting the Game

When the Megyn Kelly, Bret Baier, and Chris Wallace begin to introduce the candidates and explain the rules of the debate, pour your glass.  This is about to get good.

Choosing Your Candidates

You must choose two of the ten prime time candidates.  Whenever your candidate goes over their allotted time, take a drink.  Whenever another candidate or moderator mentions your candidate by name, take a drink.  Whenever your candidate mentions another candidate on the stage by name, take a drink.  Whenever your candidate dodges the question, take a drink.  Whenever your candidate gets applause from the audience, take a drink.

Your options are:

Donald Trump
Jeb Bush
Scott Walker
Mike Huckabee
Ben Carson
Ted Cruz
Marco Rubio
Rand Paul
Chris Christie
John Kasich

Choosing Your Moderator

You must choose one of the three moderators.  Whenever your moderator cuts a candidate off, take a drink.  Whenever your moderator pushes back against a candidate's response, take a drink.  If a candidate attacks a moderator for their questioning, take a drink, and if that attack is directed towards the media as a whole, no matter what moderator you have chosen, you must take a drink.

Your options are:

Megyn Kelly
Bret Baier
Chris Wallace

Choosing Your Domestic Issues

You must choose four out of the thirteen options for domestic policy.  Whenever a question is asked by the moderator pertaining to that subject, you must take a drink.  For each additional two minutes the conversation and questions remain on that topic, you must also take a drink.

Your options are:

Abortion/Planned Parenthood
Tax Reform/IRS
Religious Freedom/First Amendment
Gun Control/Second Amendment
Education/Common Core
Illegal Immigration/Sanctuary Cities
Social Security/Welfare/Entitlements
The Economy/Jobs
Criminal Justice/NSA/Civil Liberties
Race Relations/Law Enforcement
Veterans/Veterans' Healthcare
National Debt/Deficit

Choosing Your Foreign Issues

You must choose two of the eight following topics related to foreign policy.  Whenever a question is asked by the moderator pertaining to that subject, you must take a drink.  For each additional two minutes the conversation and questions remain on that topic, you must also take a drink.

Your options are:

Iran/Nuclear Deal
ISIS/Terrorism/Homegrown Terrorism
Vladimir Putin/Russia/Ukraine
European Allies
China/Cyber Security

Choosing Your Key Words and Phrases

You must choose two of the ten key words or phrases almost certain to be used at some point in the debate.  Whenever the word or phrase is mentioned, you must take a drink.

Your options are:

Middle Class
Barack Obama
Hillary Clinton
Islamic Terrorism

Choosing Your Reach Words and Phrases

You must choose two of the five very unlikely phrases to be used.  If one is used at some point in the debate, finish off the rest of your glass and pour another one.

Your options are:

You're fired
Obama is right
John McCain is not a war hero

Refilling Your Glass

Whenever you hear any of the following, you must refill your glass.

My first day in office

Losing the Game

Losing the game entails having to finish off any alcohol still left in your possession.

You lose the game if any of the following happen:

1) Hillary Clinton shows up on stage.

2) Donald Trump and Chris Christie leave their podiums to settle their squabble Hunger Games style.  (At this point, you must place your bets on which candidate will win.  If incorrect, you must go to your neighbors house and ask for more alcohol.)

3) Chris Christie has a heart attack and Dr. Ben Carson or Dr. Rand Paul performs surgery on him, while continuing to answer debate questions.

4) Donald Trump takes a phone call in the middle of the debate.

5) The ten candidates hold hands and sing "Kumbaya."

Have a wonderful time watching the debates.  Let the 2016 election cycle begin!

Friday, June 26, 2015

Why America Lost in Today's Gay Marriage Ruling.

America lost today when the Supreme Court of the United States legalized gay marriage in all 50 states because the Constitution was undermined in order to enact judicial tyranny.

Truth be told, I am not a supporter of gay marriage, but that is not why I am upset with this ruling.  I am upset with this ruling because the Supreme Court has now stretched the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution, which was ratified due to slavery, so far as to justify not only abortion, but now gay marriage.  In the process, the Court has ruled the Fourteenth Amendment has rescinded the power delegated to the states and has driven a stake through the heart of the Tenth Amendment.

The reality of this entire situation is that the Court has not extinguished the flame, but has thrown gasoline onto the fire to intensify the sentiments between the LGBT and religious communities.  This may be the next Roe v. Wade.

In using its authority to alter the rules of the individual states, the Supreme Court enacted judicial tyranny on the people in those states.  You would think experts on the Constitution would understand the importance of the Tenth Amendment was to allow diversity of opinion between the residents of the states and allow people to move to the state they saw most fit for them.  However, in this ruling, the country has not embraced diversity, but smother it by telling citizens of every state you must live under this federal rule, even though the power was not dictated to the federal government, but the states, in the Constitution. 

From here, this ruling will have lasting impacts that will eventually have to be taken back to the Supreme Court.  This issue is far from over.

The first of these regards religious freedom.  Should a store owner be forced to partake in part of a gay ceremony, such as baking the cake or providing the flowers, against his or her will?  I fear with the current sentiment of the Court that if a case like this was brought before them, they would rule against religious liberty and the First Amendment.  If the Fourteenth Amendment has enough power in the eyes of this Court to overrule the Tenth Amendment, what is to stop it from overruling the First Amendment?  In this instance, religious individuals would essentially have to leave their religion in the church pews, and as a Christian, I would feel persecuted by the government of the United States of America.

The second issue that arises is the question: will this finally be enough for the LGBT community?  They say they were fighting for equality, and according to what they've been saying, they now have it.  However, will the LGBT engine shut down or will they continue to try to assert their new found authority?

The ruling today makes it clear that religious leaders will not be forced to perform same-sex weddings.  However, there is already cause for concern among the religious, which was raised by Justice Alito during the oral arguments for this case.  The Obama administration could now say religious institutions, such as the Catholic Church, are not serving the public interest because they are not abiding by the law of the land by condoning same-sex marriages.  As a result, the IRS could threaten to take away tax-exempt statuses and the administration could threaten to place them on a list of hate groups.  That is, unless you perform same-sex weddings.  There is also cause for concern among religious colleges.

Lastly, in the face of yesterday and today's rulings, it might be fair to say the Constitution really has no authority anymore over America.  It seems justices go into cases looking for a way to justify their means.  A perfect example is Chief Justice Roberts.  Yesterday in the Obamacare case, he had a lose interpretation of the reading of the law in order to justify it.  However, in today's gay marriage case, he had an extremely strict reading of the Constitution to not justify gay marriage.  It seems as though all the justices have become polarized, not looking at the facts of the case, but rather finding justification for their political beliefs.

For government officials who hold a 1/9 of a branch of the federal government in their hands and seem to have become extremely polarizing, it should worry every American that these officials sit on the bench for a life sentence, without fear of any consequences due to their actions.  The United States of America should not be held to the judicial tyranny of five members on a bench that do not face consequences due to their actions.

I leave you with a quote from Justice Scalia:
The Judiciary is the “least dangerous” of the federal branches because it has “neither Force nor Will, but merely judgment; and must ultimately depend upon the aid of the executive arm” and the States, “even for the efficacy of its judgments.”  With each decision of ours that takes from the People a question properly left to them—with each decision that is unabashedly based not on law, but on the “reasoned judgment” of a bare majority of this Court—we move one step closer to being reminded of our impotence.  

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Bob Beckel Leaves The Five.

It's a sad day for me because I've found out that the one liberal commentator I learned to tolerate has been let go from Fox News after his back surgery, which spiraled into a drug relapse.  Yes, Bob Beckel will not be back on The Five.  Therefore, I think I need to relive some of his finest moments.  (And by that, I mean his most uncensored moments on air.)

The time he stated people like to go nude in public because they were "gang banged" and sexually assaulted.

The first time he dropped the f bomb on national television.

The second time he dropped the f bomb on national television.

The times he dropped the terms "greaseballs"  and "chinaman." 

The time he said visas to Muslim students should be "cut off."

One of the many times he flipped the bird.

The time when he dropped the phrase "you homophobic son of a bitch."

The time he compared radical Islam to interracial dating.

Then there's Bob's loving relationship with Jasper.

But there is no denying there was a good chemistry between the hosts, as shown in the one Daily Show clip I'll watch.

I will miss Bob Beckel and the chemistry the hosts had.  He was the Joe Biden of Fox News.  Hopefully, they find someone as opinionated as Bob to fill his seat.

The Best of Scalia's Dissent on Obamacare.

Well, the Tenth Amendment is dead in the United States of America today as the Supreme Court manipulated the wording "established by the State" to mean the State... or the federal government.  In addition, it only took 21 pages of round-about explanations for John Roberts to do it.

At least the Tenth Amendment did not die without a fight.  Here's the quotes from Anthony Scalia's dissent.

  • "Words no longer have meaning if an Exchange that is not established by a State is 'established by the State.'"
  • "But normal rules of interpretation seem always to yield to the overriding principle of the present Court: The Affordable Care Act must be saved."
  • "Today’s interpretation is not merely unnatural; it is unheard of. Who would ever have dreamt that “Exchange established by the State” means 'Exchange established by the State or the Federal Government'? Little short of an express statutory definition could justify adopting this singular reading."
  • "Imagine that a university sends around a bulletin reminding every professor to take the 'interests of graduate students' into account when setting office hours, but that some professors teach only undergraduates. Would anybody reason that the bulletin implicitly presupposes that every professor has 'graduate students,' so that 'graduate students' must really mean 'graduate or undergraduate students'? Surely not. Just as one naturally reads instructions about graduate students to be inapplicable to the extent a particular professor has no such students, so too would one naturally read instructions about qualified individuals to be inapplicable to the extent a particular Exchange has no such individuals."
  • "Pure applesauce."
  • "Let us not forget that the term 'Exchange established by the State' appears twice in §36B and five more times in other parts of the Act that mention tax credits. What are the odds, do you think, that the same slip of the pen occurred in seven separate places?"
  • "The Court’s decision reflects the philosophy that judges should endure whatever interpretive distortions it takes in order to correct a supposed flaw in the statutory machinery. That philosophy ignores the American people’s decision to give Congress '[a]ll legislative Powers' enumerated in the Constitution. Art. I, §1. They made Congress, not this Court, responsible for both making laws and mending them. This Court holds only the judicial power—the power to pronounce the law as Congress has enacted it. We lack the prerogative to repair laws that do not work out in practice, just as the people lack the ability to throw us out of office if they dislike the solutions we concoct."
  • "Today’s opinion changes the usual rules of statutory interpretation for the sake of the Affordable Care Act. That, alas, is not a novelty."
  • "This Court, however, concludes that this limitation would prevent the rest of the Act from working as well as hoped. So it rewrites the law to make tax credits available everywhere. We should start calling this law SCOTUScare."
I'd go further Scalia.  It's not "SCOTUScare."  It should be Robertscare because John Roberts, appointed by George W. Bush, has screwed conservatives not once, but twice now on Obamacare.  He was give the shot to try to correct his wrong, and what did he do?  He wrote the majority opinion as he paired with the liberal justices.

The Tenth Amendment is dead.  Obamacare will continue to be a failure.  And, John Roberts will be the most hated man in America now.

After this ruling, I just can't wait to see how the court rules on gay marriage.

Read the decision in full here: http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/14pdf/14-114_qol1.pdf