Thursday Open Thread


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  1. So with the election being a bit less of a focus, here is my promised post on peer review, and it's alternatives.

    Selection, wherein peer review is often invoked, occurs at 2 stages - before the project to get funding, and after some result to get published.
    The need discussed in the previous thread of including more statisticians could be included as a funding requirement.

    The only real alternate selection model I have seen is DARPA's program manager model, where a civil servant is the single final selector, albeit sometimes in consultation with a peer review-esque advisory panel.
    I am unaware of any journals that don't use the model of a PM-like gatekeeper, and then a panel. I could be wrong about that. And as online access becomes more and more robust journals are having to justify their value more and more. Might be some interesting room for innovation.

    Flaws in peer review include bias, network effects (old boy's clubism), and risk aversion.

    The PM-style is higher risk, but also higher reward. An individual's intuition is more likely to be incorrect than a groups, and they are if anything more amenable to bias. But sometimes they hit it out of the park in a way that the more conservative peer review style would never.

    About intuition. After the wheat is separated from the chaff, it's intuition that chooses between the top clearly meritorious proposals. Personally, I've always found this a bit of a coin flip more than a meritocracy. Which seems suboptimal but also unavoidable.

    So, what ways are there to improve selection of scientific research, both for funding and for publication?

    1. I think a lot of what's needed is dropping the current required p level from the current 0.05 to something more like 0.01 or lower. There are just too many studies being done for a significance level of 1 in 20 to be a valid choice. It produces too many false, irreproducible results.

      In the hard sciences it's not unknown for 5 or 8 sigma to be the cutoff, not a measly 2 sigma.

      1. I think that depends. Anecdote: a colleague once asked if I could spare some time. He had been doing some ornithological work, and had some novel results. He spent a couple of hours walking me through it. He built a multi-step case for his thesis. It was vary noisy data, and the P-values were all like 0.2 - but each step also made good biological sense. In total, and approaching the problem from multiple directions, he had a very compelling case.

        In general, statistics shouldn't be used in a formulaic, black box kind of way. If your p=.0001 results don't make sense, you should at least look harder (see, e.g., the 'Spurious Correlations' web site). If your results make sense, but the data is inherently noisy, it may not make sense to discard the hypothesis. Statistics, very fundamentally, doesn't give answers in black and white, only in shades of gray.

        1. Ecology and evolution, in particular, tend towards noisy data, which is why p<0.05 is widely accepted in those fields, and often appropriately so.

          I'd argue in your colleagues case that a bayesian approach might better capture the statistical likelihood, and phrasing it in a bayesian way would make it plain where problems with the assessment of likelihoods is most vulnerable to challenge - much more useful than trying to just find a statistical test and run it. Even if you can't get to statistical likelihood, there's also value in publishing such work as a springboard for future scientific hypotheses and investigation - someone might design an experiment that could help suss out some of the mechanisms, and thus cut through the noise. (ie, statistics isn't everything, theoretical frameworks can also be valuable even without statistical support, so long as no one mistakes a 'here's a framework for this problem' with 'here's proof this is how things work').

          Experimental work should be held to a higher standard, especially when it can be conducted in a controlled setting. (Which is why certain areas of physics use rather strict p-value requirements. More fields should consider the advantages and disadvantages of their study settings, and appropriately adjust acceptable p-values.)

          Some areas of psychology apparently allow p<0.1. This is abominable. I can't think of any hard science which ever allows something so lenient.

          (More replication is of course good - and should be encouraged).

          1. I'm mainly concerned about the p value in relation to the number of studies: It basically guarantees a flood of false positive results, and then the journals aren't terribly interested in publishing papers that just follow up on somebody else's research.

            P<0.05 is basically only good for suggesting that you should do a more rigorous follow up. It really shouldn't be interpreted as an actual finding.

            1. The problem with using a more rigorous p value is one of time and funding, and missing results due to it. Let's illustrate with an an example

              Say you have a new pesticide. And Professor A does a toxicity study on pesticide, and finds that it affects the cognitive ability of mice, with a p = 0.04 (n = 10). Today, he could publish those findings, and other professors who see similar results could contact him about the results they see. Then the publication could be used to get funding to do a more robust study. Which may increase the p value, as the number of subjects go up. Which is likely, it was already a 95% chance.

              But what happens with a p = 0.01 cutoff? Professor A does the toxicity study, with 10 mice, again seeing a p = 0.04. But that's "not significant." Professor A then can't publish these results. Other professors never see the results. Professor A can't get funding to further pursue a more robust study, because his results "aren't significant". The "95% chance" isn't good enough...

        2. I agree with this. When we begin to learn hypothesis testing we are told that appropriate significance levels depend on lots of things, not least the danger of being wrong one way or the other.

          But then all that goes away, and everything is .05. It struck me as mysterious at the time, and still does.

        3. Trying to put a bit of structure around some of the things mentioned above, does the below seem reasonable as a rough mental model?
          1) reviewer rough-estimates the a priori likelihood L that claimed effect is real, the likelihood F that the paper is experimentally or analytically flawed, and the number of attempts A (by anyone) which would have resulted in such a submission to this journal if successful
          2) the paper is likely wrong (flawed or a fluke) if F + Ap >> L i.e. if p >> (L-F)/A, and likely right if p << (L-F)/A
          3) Admittedly, the estimates are tough, especially that for A. But it seems worth identifying the manner in which each of these factors (whether explicitly estimated or not) should nudge a reviewer's intuition.
          4) Note also that the difficulty of obtaining a given p-value in a given field doesn't factor in at all.

          1. Rather than broad algorithmic rules, this looks to me more like you want an expert statistician required to be on the team if you're doing any kind of population study or even Monte-Carlo simulation.

            1. I don't have experience myself, but my daughter who is doing PhD work sometimes consults with statisticians when doing genome wide association studies. I get the impression that's a pretty common practice.

              1. GWAS is a whole different ball of wax from typical experimental design.

                1. If(?) GWAS seems an odd bird now, I don't think that will last. The need to make decisions in scenarios with many moving parts, many uncertainties, and increasingly immense data volumes and rates is exploding. This is the wheelhouse of statisticians.

      2. You basically hint at this below, but rather than looking for lower p values, there should just be more focus on replication. To get there, it seems like we need much better incentives to replicate studies, since neither journals nor institutions seem to value it much today.

      3. Is that really going to solve much? No matter what p-values are required for publication, it's still possible to p-hack, to extrapolate conclusions unwarranted by the data, and to commit methodological errors which call into question your results.

        It seems to me like the most important, impactful errors in science have root causes besides a 1/20 statistical fluke.

    2. I would require that the raw data and analysis details of publicly funded research be put in a public archive. That doesn't help you make good picks in this round, but it helps in subsequent rounds because it will be easier to find the charlatans^H^H^H^H^H^H those who overemphasize getting published over doing quality research.

      As a side benefit, it lets others later use the data for other purposes.

      It would probably also be a good idea to be willing to fund more replication of some studies. If a study finds result X, which causes the whole community to charge off in some new direction for the next two decades ... that's a lot of wasted effort if X ultimately proves false.

      1. Good news on that one. The GREAT Act is already moving in that direction.

        Though this is a helluva lift, given the need track analysis methods and tie them to the raw data, and proprietary issues that need to be worked out with universities. But implementation is absolutely ongoing.

        The issue with replication is both funding and publication. Replication studies are not sexy, so Principle Investigators don't want to do them either. Perhaps some way to tie them to an equipment grant that would let them purchase something to help their research interests...

        1. Does that mean you supported the Trump administration’s executive order to ban the use of secret science at the EPA?

          Seems like it should have been non controversial to me:

          “These additions and clarifications to the proposed rule will ensure that the science supporting the agency’s decisions is transparent and available for independent validation while still maintaining protection of confidential and personally identifiable information,” said Wheeler.

          1. I support public data for publicly funded research to the greatest extent possible, and to address whatever barriers are making a greater extent not possible.

            I've heard no such justification about the EPA, but I don't really know that issue.

          2. You'd think it wouldn't be controversial, but it is somehow.

            Joint statement on EPA proposed rule and public availability of data (2019)

            "As leaders of peer-reviewed journals, we support open sharing of research data, but we also recognize the validity of scientific studies that, for confidentiality reasons, cannot indiscriminately share absolutely all data. Datasets featuring personal identifiers—including studies evaluating genomes of thousands of people to characterize medically relevant genetic variants—are but one example. Such data may be critical to developing new drugs or diagnostic tools but cannot be shared openly; even anonymized personal data can be subject to re-identification, and it has been a longstanding practice for agencies and journals to acknowledge the value of data privacy adjustments. The principles of careful data management, as they inform medicine, are just as applicable to data regarding environmental influences on public health. Discounting evidence from the decision-making process on the basis that some data are confidential runs counter to the EPA stated mission “to reduce environmental risks…based on the best available scientific information” "

            I've looked at the latest version of the rule, and it actually does allow for personally identifiable data to be anonymized, so long as there's some mechanism for verifying it. They also have provisions for "tiered access" to confidential data sets.

            1. Did you read this part:

              even anonymized personal data can be subject to re-identification,

              Of course, a conspiracy is your preferred explanation for the opposition. It always is.

              1. Yeah, theoretically if there's enough data in the anonymized data set, and you have other data sets that share parts of that data but aren't anonymized, you can re-identify. It's not as simple as flipping a database toggle.

                But taking the conclusions of research on faith, because you're not allowed to look at the data?

                Screw that, that's not science. That's "trust me", and science doesn't do "trust me". It verifies.

    3. The DARPA model is a good one as long as the agency overseers agree to accept a number of failures in high risk-high payoff proposals.
      Is it better than the usual NSF panel review? Not clear.
      Moreover the NSF reviews can be (and have been) gamed by agency officials.
      The worst case I know of was an NSF Center proposal that got so far as a site visit by the review panel. The panel gave a "must fund" recommendation, only to have the National Science Board mark down the final review by two grades because the reviewers were "brainwashed by the MIT team" that made the proposal

      1. You absolutely want a mix in your research enterprise.

        It's natural to confuse charisma with the merit of research. Purely in-person proposals are not a great idea for that reason, unless you're talking an iCorp marketing pitch.

        1. I hear you.
          But the NSF center review process has at least two (and maybe three) panel reviews to pass before any site visit is granted.
          The instance I refer to is a strong indicator of animus by a senior NSF official. It had nothing to do with charisma. I know all of the reviewers and none are (or were) easily fooled.

          1. Yeah, not sure how one can control for higher-ups thinking they have all the answers in any research paradigm. The PM leans into that, while peer review tries to mitigate it. But one can only do so much.

        2. One other anecdote.
          I made a 5 minute comment in person at DARPA on a Thursday morning and had funds available to commit on the following Tuesday.

          1. That's really impressive. Unless you were already on a financial vehicle with then looking for more obligation, in which case that timeline is about what I see.

            DARPA's business processes seem remarkably low burden and streamlined in general, but they are also kind of an idiosyncratic walled city.
            Which might be the secret to their success.

          2. Works both ways.
            One time our DARPA PM and his financial admin brought in all his funded groups to do in-person presentations, all in one room in one day, no warning that it was anything other than a routine quarterly update. Guys were getting a "you're out" on the second or third follow-up question, basically unemployed on the spot for those paid off soft money. Other groups asked to come up with Statements of Work for new money they hadn't even asked for.

    4. "So, what ways are there to improve selection of scientific research, both for funding and for publication?"

      Select about one in 10 papers at random for thorough review, and for every selected paper whose results can't be replicated, drop the author into the Sarlacc pit.

  2. Lessons from the 2020 Election:

    Lessons for Trump: People are sort of right but actually they're sort of wrong in the advice you've been given since 2016. You could have stood to be nicer. You probably would have won had you more judiciously cultivated connections and not needlessly pissed off potential allies and generally acted the jerk as much. But make no mistake, you lost primarily due to COVID and fallout from it that could not be avoided by a president of average ability, specifically the adjustments to voting protocol and just the general emotional anger from such things that has to be directed somewhere helped along by the Dems.

    Lessons for Dems: This was an expensive victory for uncertain gains against a stronger than expected opponent so you'll be looking for what worked this year and double down on it. More open borders to swamp the votes of Americans is a given obviously. The decisive success of the new COVID voting protocols proves conclusively as both sides know that the left benefits from ignorant and disengaged voting. You will probably want to lobby to make these permanent. Your allies in Big Tech and the MSM were by far the most successful weapon in this years tool box. In the future if you are successful enough for long enough against the Republicans you will probably split into 2 opposing factions. A corporatist technocratic progressive faction that will inherit many of the weaknesses of the right and a far left activist faction. Both of you would do well to prepare accordingly.

    Republicans: This election shows you don’t have to play by the rules the establishment dictates and the overton window doesn’t necessarily have to move left. Unfortunately I’m not sure the leadership is smart enough to learn this lesson. The most likely although by no means certain scenario is that the GOP continues down the path of compromising itself into a lite version of the opposing party ala European conservative parties, that they were on before Trump. As an alternative consider shoring up your actual weaknesses. You are far less organized than your opponent and far less vertically integrated into society as you've let the traditionally conservative sectors in the military, churches, and business slip away and are basically no longer a party with any institutional support let alone the 'party of the rich and corporations' both of which stabbed you in the back and left long ago. Develop a clear and unapologetic message, that provides a clear alternative more than just not doing what the Left wants that takes and improves what worked for Trump while sanding off the rougher edges. Work on elections and beyond just elections, adopt a broader total strategy and you might stand more of a chance.

    Far Left: Once again it is shown you are not as powerful as everyone thinks. Why you have such a hold over people remains a mystery.

    Social Right: In a way this Presidency has probably been more aggravating for you than anyone else. You have a figure with the boldness to tackle what you perceive as the sacred cows and the social justice cult in a way no politician has before but at the same time they were unfocused and without a broad vision to truly win through and really get to the core of the problem. Its a melancholy end but at least you no longer have to be frustrated at the President getting 9/10ths of the way there and not hitting the points you want. Better luck next time.

    Big Tech/Big Media: It worked. You can blatantly swing elections and you will get away with it. We will expect everything we’ve gotten from you and more. Beware any who cross you. They ain’t seen nothing yet.

    China: You have pulled off what is probably one of the biggest single PR coups in history. Its not every day you practically intentionally help a killer plague spread across the world and have the entire global community just shrug and continue to buy your junk. Thank Mao for the US election redirecting all the blame for COVID to Trump. The gaslighting has been so effective you’d think he personally cooked it up in his personal lab if you were an alien visiting earth. BTW you can also interfere in the election as a foreign country 10x more than Russia and nobody will care as long as its in the right direction.

    Mitch McConnell:: A bit of a wimp but a surprise reveal as one of the more crafty politicians of the age.

    Nate Silver: You're a hack.

    Biden: I guess even open pedophiles can become President now. Thats encouraging.

    1. It fortunate for AmosArch that "pedophile" isn't a vulgar insult -- although "sl_ck-j_w' and 'c_p succ_r' are, to the point of precipitating censorship -- at least, not at a White, male, movement conservative blog that fancies itself a champion for free expression.


      1. Oh look, Artie is "contributing". Here's your participation trophy. Move along bigot.

        1. Ask the proprietor to ban me. His trigger finger might be itchy after that election.

      2. How long have you been a leftwing extremist idiot? Inquiring minds want to know.

    2. This is a good analysis. I think the best course for Republicans at this point with respect to big business (which means finance and tech, the only industries America has left) would be to operate as a protection racket, reminding them that they can be subject to various punitive governmental measures unless they pay up and shut up. This tactic will require the Republicans to lose the vestigial sympathy they have for big business. They can use the money and airspace gained by this tactic to increase their appeal to the nationalist and socially conservative elements of the population, which include lots of minority voters and potentially constitute a majority of the country.

      This will alienate the Conspirators, but they are tiny minority, most of whom don't like the Republicans anyway, so it makes sense to let them go the way of Kerensky, their apparent role model.

    3. "I guess even open pedophiles can become President now."

      Donald Trump and Bill Clinton have already been president. Biden is hardly a trailblazer in this respect.

      1. Thats why I said 'open' whatever those other guys allegedly did they didn't do it repeatedly in front of cameras broadcasting directly to the world.

    4. How do you conclude Silver is a hack?

      1. His model was 8+ points off in several key states. That is not worth anyones time.

        1. I believe Silver's model was off by just under 8%-points only in Ohio and Wisconsin (and that figure may decrease as more votes are counted). It was off by an average of about 4%-points in the battleground states. While that's nothing to crow about, it's not atypical for how far off the polls have historically been and doesn't render the polls or his model anywhere close to being useless hackery.

          1. It was off by 9 in Maine with regard to Collin's reelection, which seems pretty important.

            1. Over the nine most competitive races, it was off by just over 4%-points.

              1. 4 % in 9 instances is quite large, particularly because the error was always in the same direction. Also if you look at his poll ratings system, most of the more accurate pollsters like Rassmusen (C+) had bad grades while some of the much further off off pollsters like Survey USA (A) have good grades.

                1. We know 4%-points is jot atypical for the presidential election, and while I don't have the data, it is likely not atypical for the Senate either. The pollster ratings are based on past performance over many elections. Don't make too much of the performance in a single election.

        2. Silver of course doesn't do polling himself, but works with polling data. So if the polls are bad his models are going to be bad.

          That said, he does undertake to evaluate polls, so that's a problem, and he has, since the election, been defending polling accuracy to what seems to me to be an unwarranted degree.

          I don't agree he's a hack, but he needs to rethink his methods. It may well be the case that polling as we know it is finished, and we need to use other methods if we want to make reasonable projections of election outcomes.

          1. For polls to be useful they have to be reasonably accurate (a 4%-point error some of the time is not unreasonable) and not biased towards either party. Given 2016 and 2020, pollsters will have to evaluate whether such a bias now exists (it hasn't if you back at the totality over 20 or 40 years).

    5. I figure trump lost because he told his peeps not to use mail-in or absentee ballots. He effectively reduced his own total turnout, as his campaign was much more dependent on voters getting to the polls on just that one day. If he had said to his peeps, use what the Dems are using, mail in, absentee, and early voting, he could have cleaned up.
      But Trump always seems to play for the excuse for failure. Similar to his business plans for the past 40 years. Failure is not a bug, but rather a feature for making money, as long as he plans ahead that the brunt of failure falls on someone else. His campaigns for 2016 and 2020 were both built around scapegoating and blame for failure to win. Only anomaly was that he actually did win in 2016, but still complained bitterly about the unfairness of it all.

      1. I read a quiz today that explains why Trump lost. It's titled :

        Our Two Presidents, a Tale of Two Tweets,

        "I extend my deep condolences to the loved ones of the peacekeepers, including 6 American service members, who died on Tiran Island, and wish a speedy recovery to the surviving American. I join all Americans in honoring their sacrifice, as I keep their loved ones in my prayers"

        "@FoxNews daytime ratings have completely collapsed. Weekend daytime even WORSE. Very sad to watch this happen, but they forgot what made them successful, what got them there. They forgot the Golden Goose. The biggest difference between the 2016 Election, and 2020, was @FoxNews!"

        Guess which one was from Biden & which from Trump, you have all the evidence you need to explain the election results.

        1. Guess which one was from Biden & which from Trump

          That's easy. Neither was from Biden.

          1. Something in a Right-wing-type always yearns to be stupid. Otherwise, how did they end-up with a dayglo painted orange imbecile as cult Lord? In short, you fail:

            Seven international peacekeepers, including five Americans, were killed Thursday when a U.S. Army Black Hawk helicopter crashed during a routine mission in Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. President-elect Joe Biden expressed his condolences to family members of the deceased in a tweet Thursday :

            "I extend my deep condolences to the loved ones of the peacekeepers, including 6 American service members, who died on Tiran Island, and wish a speedy recovery to the surviving American. I join all Americans in honoring their sacrifice, as I keep their loved ones in my prayers"

            You can't say I didn't set you up with the easiest of quizzes, but I'm guessing you were always a hopeless student, even as a child.

            1. Wow, someone lost their sense of humor in the wee hours. This must be some of that "time to heal" stuff I've been hearing about. LOL

              Spelling it out for the back of the class, it's been quite clear for some time that Biden doesn't author his own tweets. Correspondingly, it's been quite clear for some time that Trump does.

              Thus, your cutesy comparison is apples and oranges. (But don't despair -- I'm sure there's some sort of super-woke explanation of how that's actually a perfectly valid comparison, right up there with 2+2=5.)

              1. You're kinda missing the big picture :

                (1) The Biden statement was a Biden Statement, just the same as Trump's. Just because he didn't grunt, fart or belch doesn't mean you get to define it out of existence. Joe's statement was just as authentic as Don's - it's a question of character not authenticity.

                (2) Apples & oranges how? Biden's response to the Egyptian tragedy will be how he communicates and presents himself during his presidency. Trump's grossly stupid and buffoonish screed was how he's communicated & presented himself during his presidency. Apple meet apple; orange meet orange.

                1. Apples & oranges how?

                  Words that the person in question was actually capable of forming, as opposed to words that others put in his mouth in an effort to create a pitch-perfect sculpted persona (which is sadly frustrated whenever the man actually opens his mouth outside the presence of a teleprompter).

                  I fully credit you with not truly being this obtuse.

                  1. Uh huh. Biden's statement was authentically Joe Biden, full stop. Trump's was authentically Donald Trump. Don't attempt to blame the obvious (and ugly) difference between the two statements (and persons) on shadowy figures manipulating Biden. That shtick blew-up after the first debate. Biden was Biden & Trump was Trump on live national TV for over ninety minutes.

                    Know what we saw then? The same thing we see in the two statements above.

      2. It doesn't seem like the reason he lost to me. I supported Trump but the election results seem to indicate it was Trump battle fatigue. Enough voters split their tickets voting for GOP congressmen and Senators and not voting for Trump to cost him the election. I'd like to see more analysis on that but that's my theory. Along with Trump, Pelosi and Schumer were the biggest losers. The biggest winners were Biden and Mitch McConnell.

        There isn't any doubt that Trump is divisive, that is a lot of his appeal. If you are conservative or moderate but don't appreciate the divisiveness then Biden presidency hamstrung by a GOP Senate and an almost evenly split house backed up by a 6-3 supreme court seems like a decent compromise.

        I said before the election that maybe holding a vote on Barrett might reduce the urgency of conservative voters to reelect Trump. But who knows, I can't say I'm not glad she is safely on the court and packing the court extremely unlikely now.

        1. The GOP lost one seat in the Senate though, so I don't see how McConnell is a big winner. Perhaps the biggest victory was Maine. The Democrats very well might control the Senate in 2022, since just from a cursory look there are 4 GOP seats I would consider vulnerable (GA, WI, PA, and NC), with retiring Republican incumbents in PA and NC, and only one Democrat seat (AZ).

          I agree your reason for Trump's loss was a contributing factor; he was enough of a turn-off for enough otherwise Republican voters.

          1. Retaining control of the Senate was a big win for McConnell no matter how you spin it (assuming at least 1 win in Georgia of course, but the odds are looking good). 23 of the 35 seats up were Republicans and the Democrats were a solid favorite to take control, McConnel did better than expected and retained control, that's winning in any rational view, if you doubt that then ask Chuck Schumer who won.

    6. With regard to the Nate Silver dig, is there a conservative predictor who had a higher Brier score than 538 state by state in the presidential election? Bonus points if they have a track record of success over multiple years or success in the House/Senate races.

      Note that the Economist's Brier score state by state for the presidency was higher than 538, but they were even more confident of a Biden victory. So it would seem one big problem with the 538 model was that it wasn't confident enough about the obvious states. Also note that they only missed two states (based on current counts): Florida and North Carolina.

      This said, I'd very much like to see serious, mathematical predictions from someone on the right though, to try to elucidate where left-wing forecasters might be going wrong.

      On another note, I believe Trump lost for three reasons, which I think differ and somewhat disagree with yours:

      1. He personality was off-putting. Many people don't like him simply because they don't think he's a good person.

      2. COVID happened and his response was divisive. Often, catastrophes can unite the country. Look at Bush's approval rating after 9/11. But instead of COVID becoming a demonstration of how Trump could effectively respond to a crisis, it became a political and cultural battleground, in large part due to the president's own words and actions.

      3. Trump specifically discouraged his supporters from voting by mail. There was an article in Reason about this. Mail-in voting probably doesn't help either party, but it does if one party specifically discourages it's voters from voting by mail. How many more voters could Trump have received if he emphasized how easy it could be to vote by mail rather than preparing a "fraud" narrative? Perhaps it could have made the difference in PA, AZ, WI, MI, and GA.

      1. It occurred to me after writing this that state by state Brier score has a flaw when it comes to measuring electoral results: different state results are correlated.

  3. ***chuckle***

    The Religious Liberty Task Force which Jeff Sessions established at the Department of Justice in July 2018, was used to help a mosque in Connecticut.

    1. Why does that deserve a chuckle? The DOJ, under Barr, followed through with protecting religion, of all types, even Islam.

      One would think that would be to the credit of the persons involved.

      1. Giggle giggle...stupid conservatives not forcing minorities into concentration camps. ~Proud Leftist

  4. See the recent disparate applications of Benford’s Law; to ballots and to CoViD reporting. Evidence of corruption.

    Read and understand James Franklin’s The Science of Conjecture: Evidence and Probability Before Pascal

    Before the calculus of logic we had only rhetoric with which to seek truth. Eschew eristic that seeks only to discredit and defeat one’s opponent.

    1. Would large-scale ballot frauds be so stupid as to only vote for Biden and not distribute a few Trumps in the batch? To only vote for president and nothing else on the ballot?

      Wether true or not, these things should be trivial to discern. Are there any kinds of detailed statistical analyses like this ever done? Do certain districts have stats way out of whack with similar or nearby districts?

      Why is this all in the apparent realm of hot air?

      1. "Would large-scale ballot frauds be so stupid as to only vote for Biden and not distribute a few Trumps in the batch? To only vote for president and nothing else on the ballot?"

        Would someone who rented a van, filled it with explosives, and parked it in the basement of the World Trade Center, be so stupid as to go back to the van rental company afterwards to get a refund?

      2. "Would large-scale ballot frauds be so stupid as to only vote for Biden and not distribute a few Trumps in the batch? To only vote for president and nothing else on the ballot?"

        To believe in massive ballot fraud you'd have to believe that the democrats were clever enough to tilt the presidential race but were simultaneously unable to tilt the house and senate races, both national and statewide.

        Occam's razor may be of some utility here.

        1. The Senate races may have been similarly tilted. House races are done by district, Democrats would only be likely to influence House races where the incumbent is a Democrat. They may not have realized in time that they needed to game some of the elections for formerly-blue seats.

    2. "...Benford’s Law; to ballots .... Evidence of corruption."

      If this is referring to people saying that Benford's law shows vote fraud in Chicago ... that's a misapplication of Benford's law.

      It's worth watching the whole video, which is really well done, but the gist is that Benford's law only applies when the numbers in question span more than one, and hopefully several, orders of magnitude. And since precinct boundaries are chosen so their sizes don't vary by more than an order of magnitude, you would not expect them to follow Benford's law. Benford's law is a great forensic tool, but it's just not applicable here.

      1. Right. I watched that, thought he was on to something, but it kept bothering me. Then I worked out myself that it wouldn't really apply if the districts were generally the same size, and finally fell asleep.

        I'm more interested in the study somebody did on the vote ratio in incoming absentee ballots on given days.

        Because absentee ballots are essentially shuffled by their passage through the post office, unlike returns from this precinct then that precinct, they tend to be very consistent over time. (After an initial jump due to the first returns usually being from urban precincts, where the mail is faster.)

        And this was the pattern seen in most states. But, curiously, not all of them.

        Now, I wouldn't say this is proof of fraud. But it does suggest that the results should be looked at very closely in these states.

        1. This article is terrible. It uses Florida as a baseline and doesn't acknowledge that the order that Florida counts ballots in is completely different than in Wisconsin or Pennsylvania, and then is SHOCKED that the distribution of votes, which is highly correlated to voting mechanism, isn't the same. There's an assertion that "all the other states" look basically the same, but the only other state he shows data for is Virginia, and that graph looks much more like the Wisconsin/Pennsylvania graphs than the Florida graph.

          What actually happened is that in-person votes tended to skew towards Trump and mail-in votes tended to skew towards Biden. If you report results for them all at the same time, as in Florida, you'll see a nice steady line because the ratio stays roughly the same. If you count the different types of ballots in different orders, and particularly if you wait until you're mostly done counting the in-person ballots to start with the mail-in ones, the line won't be nice and straight and will instead show you what type of ballot is being counted over time.

          1. I think you've missed the point here, which was to do only with the variation over time of absentee ballots.

            In person votes normally skew all over the place, because they're coming in from precincts that could range anywhere from 60% Republican to 100% Democrat. And they come in that way, segregated by precinct.

            Absentee ballots skew Democratic because Democrats use them more than Republicans, but they do so in a very uniform manner over time, because the absentee ballots coming in on any given day are coming in from all over the state, not from particular precincts.

            So you've got this cloud of in person votes all over the place with a nice clean line of absentee ballots running through it, and once the initial hiccups are past, that line is usually dead flat.

            So, look at that scatter chart for Florida: The first third or so you've got in person and absentee both being counted, and you've got that cloud with a line. Then the in person count is done, and just the line remains. That line is the absentee ballots.

            Only it isn't flat for some states, and why? Why would absentee ballots arriving on one day have one ratio, and arriving on another day have a different ratio?

            Now, maybe there's a good reason why it isn't flat. I said this isn't proof of fraud, it's an indication that something needs to be explained.

            I'm asking for the explanation.

            1. No, I'm not missing the point--I'm saying his methodology does not in any way support the argument. In Florida, most of the absentee ballots were pre-counted, so the reporting throughout the night is a mix of both in-person and absentee ballots. Importantly, the majority of in-person ballots in Florida are in the initial data drops, not at the end.

              All of the other states that he's focusing on couldn't pre-count mail-in ballots and it's slower to do so, so the early part of the graph represents one type of ballot and the later part represents another type of ballot. They don't look like Florida because they're counting ballots in a different way than Florida. I realized that he also included a graph of Minnesota as "normal". Well guess what, like Florida, Minnesota pre-counts its absentee ballots. Whereas Virginia, which he acknowledges there's no allegations of fraud, waits until the polls close to start counting and ends up looking exactly like the places that look "suspicious to him".

              He even accidentally makes the point in the post: what happened at 3 AM in Wisconsin? Oh, they got all the absentee ballots from Milwaukee. Is it surprising that these were more Democratic-leaning than whatever they were counting beforehand? No, that's not surprising at all and it's exactly what's reflected on the graph.

              1. Ugh. Importantly, the majority of mail-in ballots in Florida are in the initial data drops, not at the end.

              2. He even accidentally makes the point in the post: what happened at 3 AM in Wisconsin? Oh, they got all the absentee ballots from Milwaukee. Is it surprising that these were more Democratic-leaning than whatever they were counting beforehand? No, that’s not surprising at all and it’s exactly what’s reflected on the graph.

                This struck me also. Assuming that the absentee ballots counted in some time interval are a random sample of absentee ballots, as he seems to be doing, is dubious.In fact, he notes that a shift towards Trump in the later-arriving ballots is possibly due to rural votes taking longer to arrive.

                You'd really have to dive into the mechanics of collecting and counting these votes to make anything of the data.

                1. Right. I keep saying: This isn't proof of fraud, it merely demands explanation, rather than assuming it's just peachy. I'm not excluding that there could be reasonable explanations.

                  "In fact, he notes that a shift towards Trump in the later-arriving ballots is possibly due to rural votes taking longer to arrive."

                  No, you're misunderstanding that. The "hockey stick" feature at the left end of the plot is due to that: Urban ballots start arriving sooner than rural ballots. But that factor only lasts a day or so, then both have ballots arriving, and the curve goes flat in most states.

                  1. But there is an explanation--the graphs differ based on whether the mail-in ballots were pre-counted or not. The end. All of the graphs where the ballots were pre-counted have the smooth line to the right, and all of the graphs where the ballots weren't pre-counted have the shifts.

        2. Here's a possible explanation among many: there's a correlation between the votes that were reported late and the votes in big cities. This could be because the delivery of ballots or vote counting was delayed, depending on how things work in that state. Since votes in big cities are more democratic, it creates that pattern.

          Also, it's unclear to me how the assumptions about mixing would be correct, since aren't absentee ballots mailed to and counted in the county they originate.

          But also, even the I take the claims in the Tweet at face value, there's no attempt to show statistical significance, and also purely statistical analysis is insufficient evidence of fraud, IMO.

    3. Are you referencing this:

      These data were only for Chicago and I don't know how the rest of the country measured.

      1. Yes, thanks, I thought I was including a hyperlink but whiffed it somehow.

        Yes, that fellow only talks about Chicago, but presumably precinct sizes are pretty universally sized to not vary by orders of magnitude??

  5. So Governor Cuomo here in New York just issued a rule prohibiting private residences from having more than 10 people gather either indoors or outdoors. If the household already has 10 people then no guests at all are permitted.
    Doesn't this rule violate Griswold v. Connecticut?

    1. As my Con Law professor asked, mockingly: "So what does this mean? Is that a rule, that the police can't search marital bedrooms? So if a murderer hides the evidence in his marital bedroom the police are powerless?"

    2. Sorry, I'm just not seeing the relevance of a case that held that married people have the right to use birth control to excluding guests in an attempt to stave off a pandemic.

      1. Very simple. There is a right to privacy. Does the desire to stave off a pandemic trample all rights?

        1. It's a little more nuanced than that. The right to privacy does not include the right to commit a murder so long as you do it in the privacy of your own home.

          1. of course not. So murder you cannot commit but contraception is ok. What's the difference? Because the right to privacy espoused in Griswold protects people from essentially doing what they want (of course not murder or other 'real' crimes) in their own homes. So inviting 11 people for a sex orgy or for prayer services would be OK but Thanksgiving dinner would violate the governor's order? That is so arbitrary as to border on the ridiculous.

            1. The most obvious difference is that using contraception doesn't hurt anyone else. And I haven't read the governor's order but I'll be surprised if it distinguishes *why* you are inviting that 11th person. Sex orgies, prayer services and Thanksgiving dinners are most likely all covered under it. The illegality lies in the 11th person being invited, and not what happens once he gets there.

              And even if the 11 of you don't care if you get Covid, you're increasing the risk for everyone else. It might be nice to eventually get the pandemic under control.

              1. I see your point and I accept. So now the question is does the governor, any governor, have such sweeping power, as an executive, to ban the 11th person from showing up even if the 11 people want to engage in constitutionally protected activity to fight a pandemic?
                Is there any check on what the governor, any governor can do?
                It seems these emergency powers are limitless. I don't mean to sound alarmist but are there any limits to this emergency pandemic fighting power?

                1. How do stop signs, traffic lights, center lines, and 'no parking in intersection' signs relate to the 'sweeping power to prevent people from associating' that seems to concern you?

                  1. Yes, Artie, how do those things that no one mentioned have anything to do with the topic of discussion? Did you have a stroke?

                    1. Vinni,
                      To have a stroke one needs to have a brain to begin with.

                    2. You guys seem more cranky than usual today. Did the election results arrive in your towns by stagecoach today?

                2. That's a question of state law, and it varies from one state to another. The courts have placed some limits on it; the Michigan Supreme Court held that the governor's use of the emergency powers had gone too far.

                  Here's the question on the other side: We are lucky (if lucky is the right word) that the virus is of relatively low virulence. Most people who get it don't develop symptoms, and most people who get it don't die. But suppose it were a different virus with a much higher virulence rate. Suppose that 50% of everyone who contracted it would be dead in a week. At that point the stakes are much higher, and the governor's powers are probably much greater as a result.

                  And that's part of the real issue here. A lot of the pushback against the closure orders and mask orders is from people who really aren't convinced that it's all that much of an emergency, just because the virulence rate is so low. They may have a point. But I'm worried about the precedent they are setting if something far more nasty does show up. And, I'm also worried about the governors over-reacting and thus creating a "boy who cried wolf" situation if something far more nasty does show up. This has not been well handled no matter which side of the issue you come down on.

          2. But, that's kind of the point: You've got a case supposedly based on a right to privacy, but is that right ever generalized to other cases?

            Typically not, which suggests that it's just a rationalization.

          3. Well then why didn't police arrest all those murderers at the Biden victory parties or BLM demonstrations?

            But in any case there are laws against murder, and the crime in all its degrees spelled out. Can you point me to any law that prohibits more than 10 people in a house for a meal or football game or prayer service?

            If there is no law against it then what are the police enforcing other than the diktat of a fascist governor?

    3. Learn from history. Ancient Greece, Rome, Hitler, Venezuela, and many others: emergencies are used to get emergency powers to neo-Dear Leaders, who never give it up.

      George Lucas used it as the basic plot for the prequels. As Jar Jar moves to grant Chancellor Valorum emergency powers, the senate applauds wildly, and Padme sighs, "So this is how liberty dies -- with thunderous applause."

      If Trump did anything good, it was refusing to become national dictator and merely recommending actions to states and leave it up to them.

      Well, look who is coming down the pike, to happily use national dictatorial powers to thunderous applause.

      Watch for this problem. Many of the worst turns in history start right here.

      1. And I loudly and seriously mean yes, you, dear readers. You are the thunderous applause behind all those historical evils.

        Nobody ever thinks they are...until it is too late.

        1. If Trump did anything good, it was refusing to become national dictator and merely recommending actions to states and leave it up to them.

          Excuse me, but didn't Trump use a (non) emergency at the border to behave like a tyrant - redirecting funding to pet projects, initiating deliberately cruel policies for political gain, etc.?

          Yes, emergency powers can be abused, but the US has faced the Civil War and the Great Depression without devolving into tyranny.

          The pandemic will be the same.

          1. Strange definition of tyrant you've got there.

            All of the predictions of "literally Hitler" and this is what you've got to show for it?

            1. Can you read?

              What I said was Trump was behaving "like a tyrant" in a certain specific situation.

              And you might give me a cite to some serious person who made a "literally Hitler" claim about Trump. I'm aware of those who did that for Obama.

          2. Have you seen the "apprehensions / inadmissibles" chart for the southwest border? The number of people illegally crossing that border skyrocketed in mid-2019, peaking in May. Having to deal with almost 3 times the normal volume of that kind of traffic is an emergency.

            1. I recall at that time Reason was running articles premised on obsolete data, even though the new data showing the spike were available. But that seems to have been a common tactic on the part of open borders advocates, Reason wasn't pioneering it.

          3. "the US has faced the Civil War and the Great Depression without devolving into tyranny"


            1. Insisting that the post-Civil War USA has become a tyranny, or that the New Deal was tyrannical is...pretty special.

              1. I think M L still resents Reconstruction, and is one of those who equates the New Deal with a Stalinist takeover.

              2. Yeah, never mind those concentration camps FDR put people in. Everybody does that.

                1. I called out Sarcastro for calling the immigration detention facilities 'concentration camps', and I'm going to call out you for calling the WWII Nisei camps 'concentration camps'.

                  He disagreed, and no doubt you will, but I have visited actual Nazi concentration camps (and oddly enough, a WWII internment camp) ... and the actual Holocaust camps shouldn't be minimized by calling other things concentration camps.

                  I know, Boer War and all that. But, IMHO, things changed in the 1940's.

                  Have you ever visited Auschwitz/Buchenwald/etc? There is just the most palpable horror floating in the air. Don't minimize that.

                  1. After our discussion back in...January? December? Like a year ago, I did back down, IIRC.
                    You're right that the term being technically correct is hardly the whole story, and invoking Nazi death camps was rabble-rousing and inaccurate.

                    1. Got it. I don't follow here all the time (we have a place in the mountains that doesn't have internet), missed the follow on. Good for you.

                    2. I do try to use pushback for introspection, when its good!

          4. Congress had already given him authority for all of those actions, specifically redirecting funds to defense construction projects, and multiple laws delegating immigration powers to the president, that's why most of his actions were upheld.

            Trump had more statutory backing for those actions than Obama did for DACA.

            1. Congress did not give him that authority, given the crisis was Congress didn't vote how he wanted.

              Your selective formalism will the death of us.

      2. You are arguing against the existence of exigencies. because history shows they lead to tyranny.
        That is both factually wrong and practically ridiculous, and meshes quite well with the 'why is libertarian messaging not catching on' below.

        Are is not the same as can.

        Sometimes cars are used for violence. That does not mean all cars are to be avoided.

        1. Your analogy proves his point. We treat the driving of a car as a potential danger. We require citizens to take a written and driving test, and teenagers to take lessons, before we grant them a license. And we have an elaborate system of fines and points to discourage abuse, and at the extreme, that can lead to losing your license.

          We don't have anything like that to control the potential for tyranny and abuse when politicians invoke emergency power to deal with an emergency.

          How about a law that if a governor or mayor is found to have violated the Constitution when invoking "emergency" powers, that he/she be disqualified from any elected office for two years? I know such a law will never pass, and will be struck down if it did, but that would be the equivalent of your analogy.

          1. Jailing politicians who make a decision the courts strike down is not a serious solution, and you're smart enough to know that.

            1. DId you read the post? I said it would not pass.

              Your are ignoring the point. Like driving, emergency powers are dangerous. But unlike driving, there are few negative incentives to abusing that dangerous license.

              (And who said jailing? I said disqualify from office. The politician is still free, and can work at making an honest living like the rest of us schlubs.)

              1. See below.
                We already have judicial checks.

                We don't add personal risk to policymaking. And that's worked fine. And there are very good reasons for that. Some of them are themselves about avoiding tyranny!

                We need to fix specific levels of discretion laid out (e.g. pandemics and the DPA and the EPA), but what you have is a solution that shows more spite at politicians than anything useful.

                Let me lay it out like this: if someone is making a dictatorial power grab it's for all the marbles; no about of punitive nonsense will be a bar if they plan to destroy the rule of law.
                And for someone not doing so, you're just adding unnecessary personal risk.

                1. " if someone is making a dictatorial power grab it’s for all the marbles;"

                  Hhistory refutes that assertion. Tyrannical powers are often gained incrementally, with a veneer of legitimacy.

          2. Whatever, not jailing but something like disbarring.

            It's still unrealistic with how judicial review works.

      3. I am going to make the most important point:

        Padme made a call for a vote of no confidence in Chancellor Valorum.

        Jar Jar called for a vote for emergency powers for Chancellor Palpatine.

  6. By and large men are utter perverts and pigs when it comes to the topic of sex. A beast that will do anything to propagate. A man laughs along with everybody else at a fellow pervert being caught for whatever perverted transgression but the truth is without severe amounts of social conditioning and fear of punishment they would be getting punished alongside their friend. Those men who claim they are above this are generally A: physiologically abnormal or B: lying/ in denial. Usually the latter.

    Much of the law is dedicated to being at war with this eternal truth. Historians talk a lot about how women's sexuality has historically been repressed but the strictest Sharia on females ain't nothing compared to the fundamental conditioning a male goes through to be a proper citizen.

    Of course this instinct cannot be unchecked in our current conception of civilized society. In the past though there was an generally underlying acknowledgement that it existed and was fundamental. And maybe not intrinsically a completely evil thing as long as it was under just what control was necessary and channeled out positively in more acceptable ways.

    Modern law and mores on the other hand take a more hardline stance tending to see it as a completely evil and unacceptable thing that must be extinguished or that it doesn't exist at all, even the idea is offensive, and men should have the same type of sexuality as women and this should be able to be deactivated completely at the flip of a switch as needed. As with previous attempts at repression of sexual instincts this tends to backfire and lead to even worse or abnormal behavior that leaks out behind the scenes.

    Perhaps there is some wisdom in going back to some of the older ways.

    1. Assuming that you're right about men being perverts and pigs, you seem to be arguing that we shouldn't attempt to civilize our baser animal instincts. I don't even want to think about what society would look like if that principle were applied to other areas.

    2. You're assuming nature and ignoring nurture.

    3. You know, we're living in a society! We're supposed to act in a civilized way! -- George Costanza (1991)

    4. This is pretty well obscured, but I think the goal is to lay the groundwork for resurrection of the "She was asking for it" defense.
      No thanks.

      1. Further than that, the "it doesn't matter what she wants, I wanted it" defense.

      2. the goal is to lay the groundwork for resurrection of the “She was asking for it” defense

        A less antagonistic take would be, "He was staring at my tits," should not be a crime or grounds for a harassment suit in and of itself. Not sure why you jump to the conclusion he was trying to justify rape.

        1. It reads like the intro to an incel manifesto.
          Page 2 probably promises death to all the Chads and Stacys.

  7. The following is a quotation from Talia Levin:

    "Most people don’t start out waving swastikas. They are being led to this place by “launderers,” people who seem reasonable and who introduce racist ideas subtly, and give people permission to engage in hate that is more socially acceptable. The launderers can be YouTubers and right-wing influencers. They may start out saying there are too many women in Star Wars movies, or that lady Ghostbusters have ruined their childhood. It soon becomes easier and easier for them to say that feminism is harmful garbage that has caused them to be unhappy. From there it’s not a long journey. The slope is greased by people with high production values and a lot of money behind them.

    "They are not weird toothless masturbators living in their mothers’ basements. Every member of the organized racist movement that I surveilled, spoke to, and catfished was a person — a human being with complexity and dimensionality who has made amoral choices. Their humanity is an integral part of the portrait but it does not absolve them. They make the choice to disseminate evil. It makes them more worthy of condemnation. They have chosen to spread hate and fear. They have chosen to follow an ideology that makes them feel like heroes for hurting people who are already hurt."

    1. Of course, one can say the same thing about any political persuasion, perhaps even more so. "Most people don't start off wearing Mao T-shirts, or setting up fake guillotines. They are led to this place by 'launderers' who introduce class warfare ideas subtly. and give people permission to engage in hate that is more socially acceptable. The launderers can be YouTubers and left-wing influencers. They may start out saying that landlords make too much money, or that Wall Street vultures are pushing people into poverty. It soon becomes easier and easier for them to say that capitalism is harmful garbage that has caused them to be unhappy. From there it’s not a long journey. The slope is greased by people with high production values and a lot of money behind them."

      “They are not weird blue-haired, whole-body-pierced hippies living in a commune. Every member of the organized communist movement that I surveilled, spoke to, and catfished was a person — a human being with complexity and dimensionality who has made amoral choices. Their humanity is an integral part of the portrait but it does not absolve them. They make the choice to disseminate evil. It makes them more worthy of condemnation. They have chosen to spread hate and fear. They have chosen to follow an ideology that makes them feel like heroes for negating and denigrating successful, hard working people."

      1. I think I see a little bit of a difference there, having to do with Molotov cocktails, and actually wearing shirts with pictures of mass murderers on them.

        I think maybe what's called for here is a relentless determination to distinguish, "I don't like it" and "evil".

        1. I think I see a little bit of a difference there, having to do with Molotov cocktails, and actually wearing shirts with pictures of mass murderers on them.

          Not sure what your point is. Is there a difference between wearing a t-shirts with pictures of mass murderers on them and carrying mass murderers' and slavers' flags?

          Or maybe
          carrying their flags.

          1. Well, I guess you could argue the shirts. The Molotov cocktails? Not so much.

            1. What about the kidnap and murder plots? Are they not as bad as molotov cocktails?

              1. Sure, but if you look into the details, that was left-wingers, too.

                You don't have to be right-wing to hate Whitmer, shockingly.

                1. That's not true, but I'm not interested in having the same dumb fight again.

                  We don't need to fixate on that example, though plenty of extremist violence from the right, and at about a four to one ratio as left-wing extremist violence in the US:


                  1. That calculation only makes sense if you discount or ignore the vast majority of left-wing violence. Pretty much every BLM/George Floyd protest that devolved into violent rioting is by any sensible definition, extremist violence. Yet the authors of that paper could only find 12 instances of left-wing extremist violence in the first 8 months of 2020 (see their Fig 1). Please.

                    1. "This report focuses on terrorism—not other issues, such
                      as hate crimes, protests, riots, or broader civil unrest. "

                    2. @jb

                      that makes it a meaningless report. It is like the people who say that COVID only killed 6,000 people because everyone else had some comorbidity.

                    3. Well, Brett was trying to argue that people on the left were throwing Molotov cocktails and people on the right do nothing worse than wearing t-shirts. That's obviously not true, as the report makes clear.

                    4. The left were rioting in a major way this summer. Estimated damages in the billions. Numerous assaults, arson of occupied buildings. Whole areas of cities taken over and turned into cheesy Mad Max remakes.

                      I'm pretty sure I'd have noticed the right doing anything similar.

                    5. @jb that is a fair point, but when you add up all the molotov cocktails, I am confident we know who threw them

                    6. I'm not saying that there was no left-instigated violence, just that it's absurd to pretend that one side is full of violent thugs and the other side is all nice peaceful t-shirt wearers.

                2. And Bowers and Roof and Cesar Sayoc and James Alex Fields are all leftists too.

      2. dislucky, there's a fairly significant difference, though, in that racism and misogyny are intrinsically evil in any amount, whereas reasonable minds can differ on the extent to which it is appropriate to regulate Wall Street and landlords.

        It is possible to support Regulation X for Wall Street without being a murderous Marxist; lines can and do get drawn. It is not possible to give any quarter whatsoever to racism without, to that extent, denying the equality and full personhood of minorities.

        1. OTOH, should we really be distinguishing between wearing pictures of Hitler, and wearing pictures of Che, in terms of social opprobrium? Why is it that left-wing mass murderers get treated as edgy pop culture, and right-wing mass murderers get treated as unalloyed monsters?

          " in that racism and misogyny are intrinsically evil in any amount"

          But not misandry?

          I guess I'd argue that they're intrinsically stupid in any amount. I'm not sure I'd go as far as intrinsically evil, depending on the context. Dating, say?

          1. Brett, that depends on who you ask I suppose. I personally am just as offended at T-shirts of Che and Fidel Castro as I am by pictures of Hitler, albeit for different reasons. And, Che and Castro were both virulently misogynistic and homophobic; Cuba had a gay rights movement at the time Castro took over and he had them all shot.

            And yeah, misandry is bad news as well, though I would argue that historically misogyny has been far more of a problem.

            1. Different reasons? The mass murder wasn't enough commonality?

              Historically misogyny has been more of a problem. I'd argue that presently misandry is the bigger problem.

              1. Misandry and misogyny are both issues because for the first time, men are beginning to be at the receiving end of sexism. Which does not justify it, but it does show that it's an issue of whose ox is being gored. And getting rid of one would likely end the other, or at least make strides in that direction.

                Dead bodies are dead bodies whether Hitler killed them or Castro killed them. However, there are also other reasons, in addition to dead bodies, to despise both of them, and those sets of reasons are not a perfect overlap.

                1. "Misandry and misogyny are both issues because for the first time, men are beginning to be at the receiving end of sexism."

                  What we used to have was a system that benefited men in some ways, and women in others. And I'm not even going to bother trying to argue that it didn't benefit men more.

                  But what's been happening is that the men have been losing their advantages, and the women being freed of their disadvantages, while the converse isn't taking place. So the system is actually becoming net matriarchal.

                  For instance, women can get abortions, but men still get stuck with child support. A profession men dominate is a problem. If women dominate a profession, it's a non-issue. If two drunk people have sex, does the woman ever get charged with rape?

                  1. Brett, I would need to know which specific professions you have in mind, but I suspect most female-dominated professions are professions that most men choose not to go into. If you want to be a preschool teacher or a social worker, nobody is going to stop you; that's just not a career path most men choose. Nursing, on the other hand, used to be a female dominated profession, but no longer, and that fact that it pays a lot better than it used to has something to do with it.

                    With regard to abortions and child support, that's a function of its the woman's body that's going to be used for pregnancy for nine months, so of course she has more of a voice in it. But in both cases, there is a well known cutoff point for when to decide whether you wish to be a parent: For the man, it's the moment the sperm leaves his body; for the woman, it's up until it's too late to perform an abortion (which varies by state law). So whichever deadline is yours, be sure you comply.

                    1. Women have literally fished spent condoms out of the trash, inseminated themselves with them, and gotten child support. They've gotten child support after paternity tests have proven the guy had nothing to do with it.

                    2. Brett, and the law should be changed to preclude those results. But as egregious as those results are, they are not a justification for misogyny. Sure, some women behave badly. So do some men.

                    3. I'm not saying it's a justification for misogyny. I'm saying it's a demonstration of misandry.

                    4. I'm not even sure it's a demonstration of misandry. The view of the courts is that there is a child, the child needs support, the parents are obligated to support the child, and the needs of the child are more important than what is fair to the father. On those occasions when fathers are the custodial parents, mothers pay child support too.

                      And while I would support changing the law so that cuckolded husbands and men whose used condoms were stolen aren't on the hook for child support, this is a situation in which there is no good solution and the final result is going to end up being terribly unfair to someone.

          2. should we really be distinguishing between wearing pictures of Hitler, and wearing pictures of Che, in terms of social opprobrium?

            Should we really be distinguishing between pictures of Che and statues of Confederate leaders?

            How do the Cuban government crimes from 1960 to today stack up against the crimes of the slaveholders over the 60 years preceding the Civil war? How many lives did slavery and the slave trade itself shorten? Here's a start: The slave population of the soon-to-be Confederate States in 1860 was about 3,500,000.

            So bitch about Che t-shirts all you want, But as long as you defend the Confederate flag-wavers I won't take your moral outrage seriously.


        2. Krychek, this isn't true and is belied by your quote "They may start out saying there are too many women in Star Wars movies, or that lady Ghostbusters have ruined their childhood." This is misogyny in a small amount, but is certainly not intrinsically evil, at least by any reasonable standard. It is possible to support traditional families, or traditional media portrayals without being a murderous Nazi. But according to the quote, even that is a gateway drug in to Nazism.

          1. dislucky, "traditional" is, in this context, code for woman aren't entitled to be treated as fully equal to men. It doesn't matter that you dress it up in polite language; it's still there.

            And ultimately, it doesn't matter *why* someone is being misogynistic -- because of his religion, or because he thinks its a tradition, or because he thinks some roles should just be filled by men, or because he hates women. The harm to women from misogyny is just as great no matter the motivation.

            1. Krychek, this is absolutely just your interpretation of traditionalism, and you know traditional people will disagree vehemently with you. You could just as well Wall Street regulation is codethat people aren't entitled to own property, start businesses, or innovate. See, it's intrinsically evil!

              And ultimately, it doesn’t matter *why* someone is engaging in class warfare, because of inequality, because he feels he is getting a raw deal, or just because he hates wealthy, successful people. The harm to society from class warfare is just as great no matter the motivation.

              1. Whether traditional people disagree with me depends on how you define traditional. You seem to be defining it to include misogynists. And if they disagree with me, I'm fine with that.

                1. No, traditional means traditional roles for men and women. It may conflict with your values. But the traditionalists would definitely disagree that it means " women aren’t entitled to be treated as fully equal to men." They would not call it misogynystic at . If you want to call that evil misogyny, well then it shouldn't surprise you that Wall Street regulation can be called evil Marxism, evil socialism.

                  1. dislucky, what is "traditional roles for men and women" if not misogyny? It's just another way of saying that there are some things women shouldn't be allowed to do because they're women. How is that not misogyny? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet, and misogyny by any other name has the same stench.

                    And you "can" call Wall Street regulation evil socialism; a lot of libertarians do. Your right to call it that is protected by the First Amendment. But words have meaning, otherwise communication is impossible, and by no objective definition is regulation the same as socialism.

                    You remind me of an old anti-Semite I once knew. Whenever someone said anything bad about anti-Semitism, his response was that he defined anti-Semitism as rejecting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. That nobody else defined it that way gave him no pause whatsoever.

                    1. Krychek, what is Wall Street regulation if not violence and forced labor? It’s just another way of saying that the government should be allowed to steal and force the companies to perform unpaid labor, just because they have the guns. How is that not violence? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet, and violence by any other name has the same stench.

                      If you find that absurd, I find your definition of traditional roles and misogyny equally if not more absurd. In traditional roles, there are things that men are not supposed to do as well as women (allowed is too strong a word, most traditionalist aren't against switching of roles sometimes). This does not even come close to prejudice against women.

                      And you “can” call traditional roles evil prejudice against women; a lot of leftists do. Your right to call it that is protected by the First Amendment. But words have meaning, otherwise communication is impossible, and by no objective definition is traditional roles the same as prejudice against women..

                    2. “traditional roles for men and women” if not misogyny? It’s just another way of saying that there are some things women shouldn’t be allowed to do because they’re women. "


                      The newest Supreme Court justice believes in “traditional roles for men and women”. What has she not been "allowed" to do?

                    3. Bob, I am disinclined to take seriously a supreme court justice (or anyone else) who claims, on the one hand, that she believes in traditional roles for men and women, and who, on the other, has a hyphenated last name. That she kept her maiden name tells me that she doesn't really believe in traditional gender roles, at least not for herself.

                      dislucky, the government has the right to do some things that I don't have the right to do. I cannot, for example, lock someone in a prison or kill him for committing something I consider a crime. So your premise -- that the government and the citizenry are on equal footing -- is ridiculous to start with. And since you start with a deeply flawed premise, your conclusions aren't any better.

                    4. Krychek, You may think that it is ok for the government to commit violence in the name of addressing inequality, which justifies Wall Street regulations. And I think it is ok to have a traditional society, which justifies traditional gender roles. Glad we cleared that up.

                      But according to the slippery slope of Talia Levin, advocating any government violence should lead to gulags and guillotines. The same way advocating any gender traditionalism leads to the Handmaids Tale.

                      Can you maybe, perhaps, just for just a second, consider that gender traditionalism, such as that practiced the Amish, is not the same thing as the Handmaids Tale? And I will also grant the courtesy of considering that some economic regulations are not the same as the Great Leap Forward.

                    5. Krychek, to be sure, I don't agree that the government should have any right to commit violence at all in the name addressing inequality. As bad as you think traditional gender roles in the style of the Amish is, be assured I find such government violence even more repugnant. But I wanted to see if you actually agree with Talia Levin, and if you are consistent about where you apply her "principle".

                    6. dislucky, you seem confused on the concept of government can do things private individuals can't. Whatever may be my views on the Amish (my mother was raised Mennonite, by the way, though not Amish), any woman there is free to walk away. In fact, there are plenty of government social services available to help her if she chooses to walk away. And if she chooses to stay, it's none of my business. If the government were imposing Amish social customs and mores, then you'd have a point. But because there is no government involvement, the Amish are free to do as they please and I am free to believe their system is evil. And the fact that you seem not to understand the difference between government conduct and private conduct crashes your entire argument that follows.

                      With respect to Wall Street, however, even apart from the government/private distinction, regulation is fundamentally different from misogyny because misogyny is an either/or and regulation is not. A little bit of misogyny is like being a little bit pregnant: It's a binary. There is no continuum. Regulation is a continuum. So again, your analogy crashes because the two things don't have in common what you need them to have in common for it to be a good analogy.

                    7. No Krychek, I disagree. Government cannot do whatever it wants. There are certain things that are just off limits, like violence in the name of addressing inequality If misogyny is binary, so is regulation. A little bit of violence in the name of addressing inequality is like being a bit pregnant, it's either or. And it's absolutely and irredeemably evil.

                      With regard to Wall Street regulation, I would also agree that if the regulations were voluntary and the companies could choose to walk away, the regulations wouldn't be evil. Just like you may agree that voluntary Amish society may not be evil.

                      Either way, so as to not get off track, I think most who advocate traditional gender roles are not advocating that the government impose them top down, just that society should voluntarily organize that way. Certainly I would think people who complain about Star Wars don't have grand plans for a Handmaid's Tale society. Do you now agree that it's not evil?

                    8. No, dislucky, what I would agree is that you use wildly bad analogies, cling to those analogies even after it's been explained to you why they don't work, and are unable to follow a simple argument from A to B to C to D. Bye.

                    9. Krychek, you can't agree with even the most simple, reasonable, things. Like that the Amish aren't evil. And this, folks, is why we can't have dialogue.

                      By the way Krychek, because of your support for unjust government violence and repression, you are deeply, insidiously Evil. With a capital E. You would make Comrade Stalin proud.

      3. Let's not make the error of conflating criticism of the recent ghostbuster movie 'because they were female' with all criticism of the recent ghostbuster movie.

        (It simply wasn't as funny as the original, and was never going to be. There was no reason to remake ghostbusters. The 80s had vastly better comedic actors. The long-rumored Clue remake annoys me, because none of those actors could today be equaled, much less surpassed. Why would i see that when I can just watch perfection?)

        Hollywood needs to drop their obsession with remakes and start making original movies again. Any movie they remake is going to be something that was great the first time, and surpassing that will be hard. Any movie that could be noticeably improved will never be considered for a remake. As such, the original will always be better, and it's trivial today to just rewatch the original.

        1. Basically any time you remake a film just so that you can switch the gender or race of the protagonists, you know it's going to be a dog, because only humorless ideologues think that's worth doing. And humorless ideologues don't make good movies.

          I think the obsession with remakes is due to a combination of risk aversion, (The first time was a success, the second should be, right?) and a desire on the part of said ideologues to displace cultural treasures.

          The worst remake I've encountered lately was of The Color Out of Space. The 2010 version is a treasure, a phenomenally good take on the Lovecraft story. Just cinematically amazing. It's a German film, and watch the sub'd version, as the dubbed version has flakey sound.

          The 2019 Nicolas Cage remake is... A Nicolas Cage movie. I'm not sure it's necessary to say anything more.

          What annoys me about all these remakes is that there's a huge amount of good SF novels out there that would make amazing movies. But the studios don't want to take the chance on them.

    2. Either that, or people are planting the idea the right should be synonymous with Nazis to benefit the left, by making the exact same statements the above complains about.

      How 4d chess do you want to go?

    3. These "launderers" she is describing seem to merely be people describing the world in a more accurate way than Talia Levin would like. The new Star Wars movies are pretty bad, lady Ghostbusters was pretty bad, modern feminism, having achieved all of its goals related to actual equality of opportunity has redirected its aim at selective equity of result. Charles Murray has the better of the argument compared to those that slander him.

      If learning these truths turns people into Nazis, its because people like Talia chose to draw a line of "respectability" that make Murray and Ghostbuster critics outside the realm of respectability, so telling the truth just puts you on the other side of a line. And if the truth is already out of bounds, some people declared out will prance around to the even more extreme positions.

  8. (Note: I am only "casually political" - I don't typically participate in online discussion; I just watch passively from afar. Thus, my opinions are probably not very strongly forged through the fire of aggressive internet debate. I just think about things philosophically, and would like some answers. Please be kind 🙂 )

    I've been thinking a lot about how to make libertarians likeable from a more general POV. I think anyone can say "if you care about liberty and freedom, you'll like libertarianism," but a problem I see (for instance, when I have to debate my EXTREMELY-leftist brothers) is that the opposition basically deflates debates before they ever start by saying "all you care about is money."

    Obviously, that's not the case, but I honestly see where they get that POV, because so much of online libertarian debate focuses on free market capitalism.

    My thoughts are, the party needs to take a long look at how to be more appealing, while still offering the same end goal. The year 2020 is a great example of how the messages get flipped upside down. Our personal liberties have been assaulted more than ever this last year with COVID lockdown mandates and overaggressive law enforcement policies that don't seem any closer to being fixed. However, the talking points I keep seeing coming up from libertarian-minded journalists, bloggers, think-tanks, etc is "We just have to get that free-market capitalism going and everything will be alright!"

    The problem with this approach is, most people have tuned it out the way we tune out website advertisements - it's become so much white noise, that as human beings, we literally don't hear it anymore.

    What I think we (and any potential 2024 candidates #JustinAmash2024 ) need to be focusing on is not "the Free Market Is Amazing, All Should Accept," but rather "These Are The Reasons Why Personal Liberties MUST Be defended, and here is now we do that." The differences are subtle, but extreme. If someone like Amash (or whoever) can start talking about it now, and change the tone of the conversation of libertarianism *in the mainstream* to topics of police reform (for liberty's sake), or ridiculous COVID mandates (for liberty's sake), and talk about other major issues that people actually care about (eminent domain, *somehow* talk about the environment from a liberty-focused POV, not sure how to do that yet, immigration rights, voting rights, civil-living-situation rights, etc), *all without resorting to the "Free-Market-Capitilism" buzzwords (which I really think a lot of Americans have tuned out) ... do we have a shot to change the narrative? Could someone like Amash (or whoever, I just happen to like him) spend the next four years building a solid platform on liberty and freedom, without focusing too much attention on the market, and actually appeal to a reasonable majority of rational Americans?

    Thanks for any responses. Sorry if I rambled a bit, again, I don't do the internet discussions too often.

    1. The big problem i see is that the 'market', directly or indirectly, is involved in most human action. Its hard to talk about freedom in any detail without economics coming into it.

    2. Sadly, not sure what to do about your family situation.
      But if you're talking about personal interactions with new people, I just don't bring up my, or their, party affiliation at first. In my experience, if I keep the conversation to talking about ideas, by the time I do say I'm a libertarian the reaction is "You're a libertarian?" instead of "You're a LIBERTARIAN!!!"

  9. Perhaps there is common ground in this forum on the heartbreaking loss of Alex Trebek.

    1. Josh R....He lived well, and he died well (according to press reports, he spent his last day in his favorite outdoor swinging bench, with his wife). Not many people can say that.

      Baruch Dayan Ha'Emet - Alex Trebek

    2. A year ago today I posted on Facebook "If I ever get on Jeopardy and don't know the clue for final jeopardy, I will write 'What is genre genre genre genre genre genre genre.'" I will never have that chance.

  10. Bellwether counties. Remember those? A very interesting and consistent phenomenon.

    The Wikipedia page for bellwether counties has been completely destroyed in recent days, and now includes a tiny fraction of its previous content. Why is that?

    It appears Donald Trump carried virtually all bellwether counties in 2020, perhaps more than 90% of them. That is an extremely fascinating fact. What does it mean?

    Well, assuming that there weren't pallets full of fraudulent ballots or other chicanery in this election, it suggests that a historic realignment is taking place.

    1. It's certainly put paid to Jack Balkin's thesis that the Reagan era was dying, and a new era of Democratic dominance was dawning.

      There may be a realignment coming, but it doesn't look like it will inevitably be to the advantage of Democrats.

      1. Should Republicans demonstrate they are capable of getting the most votes in a national election more often that once every three decades -- or show that the tide of the culture war has subsided, if not reversed -- before declaring conservative ascendancy in America?

        The Democratic presidential candidate has finished roughly five million votes ahead, on average, during those three decades.

        Bellwether counties? Likely changing or, more likely, disappearing.

        1. No, they shouldn't. Instead, they should Make America States Again. I don't care to impose my preferred form of government on others, nor to have others impose theirs on me. To maximize this principle, decentralize power. It's called federalism.

          1. Your vision for America is extremely radical, even around here, though.

          2. Apart from implying you might want to get rid of the union entirely, you want no admin agencies at all, and federal budget at pre-Civil War levels!

          3. Figure a way to get enough votes to enact your stale preferences, or stand aside and let your betters handle this.

            Culture wars have consequences.

            Mostly for bigoted, superstitious clingers.

  11. I've spent this week trying (and failing) to ollie on a skateboard. I think it's time to pursue other interests.

    1. I was today years old when I noticed the cool little drop-down menu at the top of each post.

  12. Some points (Senate control, presidential margin, a rogue state legislature) are undetermined, but most FantasyEOTUS predictions have been resolved. Check entries against this:

    1. President: Biden
    2. Biden states: 25
    3. Biden delegates: 306
    4. House control: D
    5. Senate control: ?
    6. Margin >2: Yes
    7. Margin>4: ? (likely yes)
    8. Margin >6: ? (likely no)
    9. Margin >8 No
    10. Margin>9.9: No
    11. PA: Biden
    12. AZ: Biden
    13: FL: Trump
    14. GA: Biden
    15. TX: Trump
    16: IA: Trump
    17. NC: Trump
    18. OH: Trump
    19. CNN call: No
    20. Network call: No
    21. Fox call: No
    22. Rogue state: ? (likely no)
    23. House chooses: No
    24. Jorgenson >2: No.
    25. Hawkins >.5: No.

    I intend to check during the weekend or sooner to determine whether the undetermined predictions could influence identification of the winners.

    1. Heh, I was off by 3 states, everything else fits my list though.

  13. I'm curious to hear if the actual attorneys posting here expect any of Trump's lawsuits to go anywhere. So far, they're something like 0 for 12, unless you count Scalia telling PA they have to do something they were already doing anyway.

    So, are there any likely winners here? Will a court really invalidate 1.2 million ballots in Michigan? Throw out all the mail-in ballots in PA?

    Bonus points for speculating whether the filing attorneys face sanctions under ABA rule 3.1 or rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

    1. Alito.
      Don't diss Scalia like that 😛

      1. Did I say Scalia? I meant to say Rehnquist. (c:

        1. Was that from Season 3 of Fear the Adjudicating Dead?

          1. Abbott and Costello, "Who's on the Court?"

            "I don't know."

            "Third Circuit."

    2. I could see some minor victories, but basically Roberts screwed Trump over by rejecting the pre-election challenges to non-legislative election law changes.

      At this point, the damage is already done, and if you could prove fraud, and on the necessary scale, the only remedy available would be decertifying election results, which the Court would be very reluctant to do in a Presidential election.

      I think Trump is not anticipating these lawsuits getting him a second term; You notice that he's not making public appearances anymore, and the photos of him look tired?

      I think he's trying to establish a record for pushing for election reform going forward, so that the 2022/24 elections might be cleaner.

      1. 1) Trump does not worry about establishing records going forwards; he doesn't do presentment.
        2) Even if he did, a bunch of cases being thrown out of court aren't how you get there.
        3) He's fundraising out of this and holding a big honkin' rally in my neighborhood this weekend.

        Grifting theatrics done at the expense of faith in our democracy.

        1. "faith in our democracy"

          Like this?

          68% of Americans think elections are rigged.
          11:15 PM · Jul 14, 2014

          Ronald Klain@RonaldKlain
          Jul 14, 2014
          Replying to
          @voxdotcom That's because they are.

          1. Lol. Faith in our democracy!

            No, we should have less faith in our democracy.

        2. "faith in our democracy."

          Or how about this?

          Samantha Power@SamanthaJPower
          Nov 7, 2018
          If #Georgia were a country, and I were UN Ambassador asked abt yesterday’s election, in diplo-speak I would express “serious concern” & call for “impartial, credible voting process overseen by independent body.” We routinely call out nations for equiv of Kemp’s blatant meddling

          1. Georgia is a country. 🙂

        3. "faith in our democracy"

          Is this faith in our democracy?

          October 26, 2020 By Jordan Davidson

          “I was the candidate that they basically stole an election from,” Clinton said Monday on the New York Times podcast “Sway.”

      2. Paranoid, delusional, disaffected clingers are perhaps my favorite culture war casualties.

        Mostly because mocking them is so easy and so enjoyable.

        Well, that and the bigotry.

        Carry on, clingers . . . but remember, only so far as your betters allow.

      3. OK; I stopped laughing and now move on to the question phase of my response :

        (1) Where did Roberts screw Trump over except in Pennsylvania, where the ballots delivered after Election Day have been counted separately and are in nowhere-near sufficient numbers to make any difference?

        (2) What "damage is already done"? Please be specific.

        (3) Which is more likely : That courts would be reluctant to intervene if large-scale election fraud was proved, or no large-scale election fraud exists?

        (4) How addled a Trump Cultist are you to think this election fraud flailing nonsense isn't a selfish butt-hurt man-child refusing to face reality, but forward-thinking altruism of a noble leader hoping to reform the elections of future ages?

    3. Here’s one of the complaints that have been filed, this one alleging that an eyewitness observed tens of thousands of fraudulent ballots. With respect to some of the ballots they alleged that, “Many times, Defendant election officials and workers inserted new names into the QVF after the election and recorded these new voters as having a birthdate of 1/1/1900 (Exhibit B).” If so, it shouldn’t be difficult to do a search for voters have that birthdate and checking them out. One would expect some results pretty soon, unless they have not been allowed access to the files and listings.

      1. 1/1/1900 is the default value for when the birthdate is unknown, or is not being recorded for privacy concerns (victims of domestic abuse, e.g.)

        Properly designed software would allow a null value for this field, but apparently it doesn't so the clerks have instructed users to enter 1/1/1900.

        Not a sign of fraud at all.


        1. Not a sign of fraud at all.

          The best they're going to do is identify a subset of ballots to subject to scrutiny. I guess they could start with those lacking a birthdate, if they think that’s a promising group. According to Steve Cortes, who works for the Trump campaign, another group to examine would be mail-in ballots on which a vote was cast for Biden and nobody else on the ballot. I guess the thinking is that people trying to complete and submit a lot of ballots in a short period of time might choose this strategy, but that this pattern is curious given how contested the senate races in Georgia were. According to Cortes, Trump’s vote total in Georgia was only 818 more than the totals for the Republican senatorial candidates but for Biden the difference was 95,901.

          Cortes thinks that another suspect area would be counties in which Biden greatly out-performed Obama. For example, Obama won Montgomery County, Pa. by 59,000 votes but Biden won it by 131,000 votes. Obama won 233,000 votes in 2012 and Biden won 313,000 in 2020 but the population only grew by 22,000 during that period. Again, this doesn’t prove anything. Cortes would just use this as a heuristic to identify ballots to verify.

          The thing is, that they need to come up with some results in order to get a court to keep the state from certifying a winner. If they don’t do that in time then I guess they’re only left with objecting to the electoral vote count on January 6 when the votes are opened before a joint session of Congress.

  14. WordPress is stopping me from posting due to an unsafe request. Wut?

  15. Of course, not many on this forum will agree with me that protracted delay in starting the transition invites trouble. Nevertheless, if any of you lawyers can imagine legal tactics to force the formal transition process to begin, I would be interested to hear whatever you have to say.

    1. Not a lawyer, but don't expect that they'll be needed for this one. GOP senators have broken step and support starting the
      transition, at least in regards to the PDB.

      Lankford went first, I think, now followed by Grassley, Lindsey Graham, John Thune , Marco Rubio, and Rob Portman.

      Now, I"m not exactly sure what seven GOP senators can do to *force* the issue, but I'd expect something to give soon.


    2. It seems, to me, that the sort of delay we have right now is trivial and expected. If it lasts beyond mid December (aka after the formal EC vote) then it will get to slightly problematic, and after Jan 1 significantly.

      After the EC vote the transition process I think is basically not under control of anyone besides the permanent White House employees. Perhaps Trump's team could ask for an injunction against them, but I doubt it would be granted. Biden's team could, theoretically do the opposite and go to court to get a writ compelling those WH employees to work with the transition, but I doubt they would need that.

      1. The GOA has said they're following existing precedent: The transition starts when either somebody concedes, or the EC votes, which ever comes first.

      2. "it will get to slightly problematic, and after Jan 1 significantly"

        We never used to have these elaborate "transitions". There will be no harm done to anyone if it never starts.

    3. I don' t think the start of transition will be delayed any more than in 2000, when the Democrats delayed it until the EC had voted. So we're good. Actually, I expect it won't be delayed by more than a couple weeks more, tops. Probably all be over by Thanksgiving, one way or the other.

      1. Brett, by what process of divination was anyone in 2000 able to discern whether it was Gore or Bush who delayed the transition? Even with hindsight you can't say which it was.

    4. The Presidential Transition Act makes funding, space, and services available to the President-elect and Vice President-elect, and defines

      The terms ‘President-elect’ and ‘Vice-President-elect’ as used in this Act shall mean such persons as are the apparent successful candidates for the office of President and Vice President, respectively, as ascertained by the Administrator following the general elections held to determine the electors of President and Vice President in accordance with title 3, United States Code, sections 1 and 2.

      The Administrator claims she is waiting until there is a "clear winner", but as the Act only requires an apparent winner her inaction could be challenged in court. It's hard to imagine though it will continue long enough for that to happen.
      One might think this would affect her career, but since she was an ex-RNC staffer and a political appointee she probably wasn't in line for one anyway.

  16. I listened to an interesting interview of the authors of a book, Trump’s Democrats, that was trying to explain why many traditional Democrats voted for Trump. One of the reasons they gave was that Trump appeals to people for whom an “honor culture” is very important. According to one description of this:

    In honor cultures, it is one’s reputation that makes one honorable or not, and one must respond aggressively to insults, aggressions, and challenges or lose honor. Not to fight back is itself a kind of moral failing, such that “in honor cultures, people are shunned or criticized not for exacting vengeance but for failing to do so”. Honorable people must guard their reputations, so they are highly sensitive to insult, often responding aggressively to what might seem to outsiders as minor slights. It might seem that knowing people would respond this way would lead to people to “walk on eggshells” so as to avoid offending others, but this would be a sign of cowardice. So because insulting others helps establish one’s reputation for bravery, honorable people are verbally aggressive and quick to insult others.

    According to one theory, an honor culture gives way to a “dignity culture,” which has given way to a “victimhood culture.” I don’t know about that, but the notion of an honor culture at least provides me with some kind of an explanation for Trump’s insistence on responding to insults with tweets containing counter-insults where it would seem that maintaining a presidential demeanor and refusing to lower himself would have been a much better approach. Perhaps this is the dignity culture.

    In any event, that dynamic at least provides the framework for some kind of understanding of some of Trump’s actions and for his appeal to many people.

    1. You may have read it already, but Hillbilly Elegy (J.D. Vance), expounds on this at length from a conservativ-ish position.

  17. Why are so many Volokh Conspirators unwilling to publish comment about Trump's ridiculous litigation-public relations campaign and his refusal to acknowledge the election result?

    Are these professors still intimidated by Trump, even after he lost?

    Are they figuring they'll humor Trump with cowardly silence a bit longer, hoping his fans vote in the Georgia runoffs?

    I've heard Trump is so despondent his aides are worried, and that they had Ted Cruz call the President just to give Trump another chance to call Heidi Cruz a hideous pig, figuring that might lift his spirits and knowing that Ted would do it.

    1. "Why are so many Volokh Conspirators unwilling to publish comment about Trump’s ridiculous litigation"
      Because the litigation is irrelevant to how the country will be governed.
      It is called economy of effort

      1. Under that test, RAKL would rarely post here.

        1. True enough.
          But like DJT, he operates with no filter on what comes into his head.

    2. Likely for the same reason none of them were commenting on all the pre-election litigation by Democrats trying to change the rules at the last minute. It's not really in their wheelhouse.

  18. I think the era of political polling is over.
    I know I'm following in a long trail of previous hot takes over the past decade or so.
    But as fewer and fewer people answer the phone, more and more effort is required to revector respondents to reflect the population of likely voters. As that respondent pool continues to shrink this revectoring special sauce will have to get increasingly radical, and therefore the subjectivity will increase more and more until they're editorials with a quantitative patina more than anything else.

    I think we're close enough that I'm not going to be giving any credence at all come 2024.

    1. Remains to be seen. It could be the problem is just with turnout models, since turnout was exceptional this year.

      It could also be that the shifts away from live caller polling just haven't been radical enough yet and someone will figure it out. Will be interesting to see how the more online pollsters did this cycle.

      1. There seems to be two problems in the Biden-Trump polls :

        1. A general error of 3-4 points at the state level

        2. A larger error in the upper midwest - from Michigan east into Pennsylvania (which Silver says shares many traits with midwest states.)

        The general error isn't that far outside of a normal margin of error, though it consistently undervalued Trump support. But the Midwest phenomena is more of a mystery, given it occurred in 2016 as well. Pollsters thought they solved the problem thru weighing by education, but apparently that wasn't it.

        1. I think that is a very good analysis of what pollsters need to figure out. To Silver's credit, in his simulations where there is a polling error, it will often propagate throughout the upper Midwest.

    2. Or pollsters will just need to start going door to door. Door to door salesmen basically don't exist anymore because robocalls are so much cheaper, which means people are not as burned out anymore in talking to someone who shows up on their stoop.

      1. There's also a certain amount of paranoia in many households - "is this stranger at my door casing the joint for a possible burglary? Is he up to anything else nefarious?"

      2. I think maybe they have to do more to convince people being polled that their responses really are anonymous. Internal transparency, bonding, something like that.

        The problem here is that we've now been through years of headlines about organizations promising data privacy, then monetizing the data anyway. Violating privacy after promising to respect it is a common business model today.

        Of course, people wouldn't be so concerned about their answers remaining anonymous if the left weren't compiling lists and acting on them.

    3. I think you are wrong because polls are more about providing narratives to media companies that they can choose to run with and not really about being accurate. To the extent accuracy is a goal, its at best a tertiary goal of polling.

      1. Given how polls have been pretty accurate in the modern era up until this point, I think your cynicism is unsupported.

        1. Polls have been more accurate in the very recent past than before 2000.

          1. On second thought, those data suggest the polls have been just about the same.

    4. My take is that political polling will continue to survive, but will need to adapt an change methodologies. The old way of calling people on the phone seems to have outlived its usefulness, the question is what replaces it?

      I find it somewhat ironic that now that facebook, google, et. al. know far more about all of us than we could have imagined a decade ago, the ability to accurately predict election results is less than it used to be.

      Or at least according to the publicly released polling results. I'd be shocked if there aren't teams at facebook and google attempting to use their data to predict election results and another team figuring out a way to monetize it.

    5. Sarcastr0...It is a methodology problem, and a data collection problem. If you want accurate and predictive polling, you need to do mixed-mode data collection. And sample stratification is key.

    6. Nate Silver called the presidential race successfully, with respect to result and -- as Biden's lead continues to increase -- margin.

      Nate Silver called damn near every state correctly.

      Nate Silver called House control correctly.

      Nate Silver indicated the Democrats were likely to control the Senate . . . and it's still a toss-up.

      Nate Silver indicated the road to the White House ran through Pennsylvania.

      Some people had worse election days. Like Pres.-eject Trump and his base of disaffected losers.

      1. Nate Silver called the presidential race successfully, with respect to result and — as Biden’s lead continues to increase — margin.

        So a prediction of Biden winning Wisconsin by 8.3 is still a successful call when Biden wins by 0.7. But why are the errors always skewed towards the Democrats?

        1. I agree with you that looking at the result is not the proper way to analyze polls or poll aggregators. We should like at the error as your Wisconsin example makes clear. However, the polls aren't always skewed. The polls underestimated Obama in 2012 and Gore in 2000.

        2. I asked this elsewhere, but was there a serious predictor (with percentages assigned to each state), which you feel is better? Bonus points if they support Trump or don't support either major party.

          1. The Trafalgar Group drew ridicule prior to the election for seeing the race as a lot closer than other polls saw it. They claimed to have secret techniques for determining who was really going to vote and how they were really going to vote. For example, they thought that who owned a hunting license could help with prediction. Maybe this reading the tea leaves approach is the kind of thing pollsters will have to go through until we get a Republican presidential candidate people won't feel the need to hide their support for in order to avoid social blowback. Some claim that pollsters have an incentive to reduce the vote for candidates of which they disapprove, but for a legitimate polling organization that must be outweighed by far by the desire to get it right.

            1. (1) The Trafalgar Group was correct in predicting races would be close, but its actual record was worse than Nate Silver's. The latter's 538 missed two states out of the battlegrounds: Florida & North Carolina. Trafalgar whiffed on Pennsylvania, Michigan, Arizona, and Nevada.

              (2) The timid Trump voter afraid of "social blowback" was always a goofy theory. Why does he exists in Michigan but not in Georgia or North Carolina? Why does he exist in Wisconsin but not Arizona? Why doesn't he exist in California, where the "social blowback" against his perverse nature should be at the maximum? The polls were off in Florida, but everyone knows the cause and it isn't reticent Trump voters afraid of disapproval.

              The worst polling mistakes were concentrated in one geographic area from Michigan east thru Pennsylvania. No one knows why this area is proving difficult to survey (2016 & 2020), but the shy Trump voter afraid of "social blowback" doesn't seem a very likely cause.

              1. It looks like Rasmussun did pretty well, another pollster subject to ridicule.

              2. “The timid Trump voter afraid of “social blowback” was always a goofy theory.”

                I don’t know. The effect of social desirability bias on polling has been demonstrated. “We find suggestive evidence that SDR correlates with county-level voting patterns.” Why would you assume that SDR does not affect polling results at all, just because we can’t explain California? As far as Georgia, North Carolina and Arizona are concerned, the Democrat strength is a new thing and one might expect to see more tolerance of voting for Trump.

                “The polls were off in Florida, but everyone knows the cause and it isn’t reticent Trump voters afraid of disapproval.”

                What was the cause?

              3. If we accept the premise that Trump outperforming polls is some consistent phenomenon, I think it's much more likely that Trump voters are less likely to respond to polling phone calls for some reason than they are to be shy about their Trump support.

    7. I think the era of political polling is over.

      The problem of people not answering their phones certainly adds to the imprecision of the polls. But why is the error always skewed towards the democrats?

      1. It's not.

        Don't only look at the last 4 years.

      2. Or hell, just look at 2018.

  19. The pope today declared that although Keith Richards is still God, Joe Biden is America's next president.

    Way to go, pope.

    1. Ah, you mean this article:

      The Pope went on to say, "thank you for all the fuss over the American election, which allowed me to release my McCarrick whitewash report when fewer people were paying attention."

      1. From the lesser-known protocols of the First Vatican Council:

        "If anyone should deny, that the Pope can certify the results of an American election, and bind the consciences of all good Catholics to accept the certification, let him be anathema."

        1. Admittedly, one of the traits of good parody is that it rings true.

          1. Who cares what the pope says?

            He works for Keith Richards; what Keith says goes.

            1. This would also explain why the Senate has to keep holding hearings on Crossfire Hurricane.

  20. Prof. Volokh is promoting Parler. Don't join. They require your social security numer (why?) with no promise of privacy, responsibility, accounatability or encryption - read their TOS. Bad professor.

    1. Parler appears to be another of the wingnuts' downscale, separatist organizations -- pale facsimiles of American mainstream entities, formed in the way conservatives have created the clinger ACLU, the clinger NAACP, the the clinger AARP, etc.

      1. This is the one thread every week that (usually) isn't full of your insults. Can you just knock it off for this one thread, please?

    2. I'm not impressed with it, either. I've got some long time friends who are getting tired of FB's censorship, and we're looking into hosting our own small forum.

      I think some of the problems of FB and Twitter are just inherent to the central server model of internet service. What's needed is a distributed system without that built in choke point.

      You create choke points, people who want to choke them gravitate there.

      1. Sounds like clingers are painting themselves into ever smaller, more desolate corners at the fringe of our society, in several respects.

        1. 14 posts, every one of them an insult. It's all you've got bigot. Hold onto that anger Artie.

    3. I don't recall Prof. Volokh promoting Parler, but I might have missed it.

      Interesting read about Parler here:

      Parler appears to be bankrolled by Russia, but take what you read on the interwebs with due skepticism.

      In any case their TOS requires you to pay any legal bills they might encounter resulting from your posts, so I'd run, not walk, away from the service.

  21. As ridiculous as Trumps theory of voter fraud are the replies are equally fallacious.

  22. Interesting to see the drama play out about Biden's daily briefings. Several prominent Republicans are breaking with Trump to a degree and making the point that providing those briefings is responsible because Trump's challenges are not guaranteed to succeed. The President would be unwise to ignore them, the Republican members of Congress want an excuse to distance themselves from Trump and this could be the opening they have been looking for.

    1. 4D chess, Trump is intentionally giving R's an excuse to distance themselves.

      Or he's just being a dick.

  23. How is it that Republicans do not understand that calling elections into question calls their own election into question?

    1. Vox in 2014: "68% of Americans think elections are rigged."

      Ronald Klain, Biden's chief of staff, in response: "That's because they are."

      1. Klain was responding to Vox talking about gerrymandering and incumbent reelection rates.

        Why did you not bother with the context? Why do you insist on being deceitful?

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