Please, Make It Stop …

Just encountered a woman on Facebook who was screaming that Hillary Clinton plans to privatize Social Security.

This particular panic came about because of a headline on an opinion piece in Forbes titled “Clinton Might Be Moving Toward Social Security Privatization” that offered absolutely no evidence of anyone on the Clinton team thinking about SS privatization. Do read it; it’s short. Basically, the author says that Social Security is a mess, and how else will Clinton save it but privatization? Seriously; that’s the argument. I am not making this up.

There’s a lot of regressive stuff I fear Clinton might pull, but that is not one of them. Remember all the crazy we went through with Dubya’s privatization plan more than a decade ago? The more Bush talked about his plan to “reform” Social Security, the less popular the idea got. And that was before the 2008 crash.

Having invested so much political capital in this issue, President Bush embarked on the first of what proved to be a long series of tours crammed with events at which he pitched his plan to the people. It soon became apparent that it would be a tough sell. Within weeks, observers noticed that the more the President talked about Social Security, the more support for his plan declined. According to the Gallup organization, public disapproval of President Bush’s handling of Social Security rose by 16 points from 48 to 64 percent–between his State of the Union address and June.

By early summer the initiative was on life support, with congressional Democrats uniformly opposed and Republicans in disarray.After Hurricane Katrina inundated what remained of the President’s support, congressional leaders quietly pulled the plug. By October, even the President had to acknowledge that his effort had failed.

Since then, Democrats have been running on promises to protect Social Security from the evil machinations of privatizing Republicans. Even Debbie Wasserman Schultz said Bush’s plan would put “Americans at risk of losing their retirement savings with the ups and downs of Wall Street.” The 2016 Democratic Party platform plainly states “We will fight every effort to cut, privatize, or weaken Social Security, including attempts to raise the retirement age, diminish benefits by cutting cost-of-living adjustments, or reducing earned benefits.”

In short, this is an issue in which the Dems have absolutely no wiggle room. And I don’t think they’re so stupid they don’t know that. If on the remote chance Clinton were to offer a Bush-style plan as part of some “grand bargain” with a Republican Congress, the political fallout on the entire Democratic Party would be radioactive.

So, while I distrust Clinton in many areas of policy, privatizing Social Security is very low on my list of Ways Hillary Might Sell Us Out.

And the whole point of that Forbes article was planting that headline in the magazine, so that soft-headed progressives and Greenies would link to it and get hysterical, possibly costing Clinton some votes. It was bait.

Yesterday I linked to an article by Josh Marshall that explains what “oversampling” means to a pollster.

Campaigns do extensive, very high quality polling to understand the state of the race and devise strategies for winning. These are not public polls. So they can’t affect media polls and they can’t have anything to do with voter suppression.

Now you may be asking, why would the Democrats skew their own internal polls? Well, they’re not.

The biggest thing here is what the word ‘oversampling’ means. Both public and private pollsters will often over-sample a particular demographic group to get statistically significant data on that group. So let’s stay you have a likely voter poll with 800 respondents. The number of African-Americans in that sample is maybe going to be 100 people, maybe less. 800 people is a decent sample for statistical significance. 100 is not. So if you’re trying to draw conclusions about African-American voters, levels of approval, degree of opposition or support of a candidate, demographic breakdowns, etc. you need to get an ‘over-sample’ to get solid numbers.

Whether it’s public or private pollsters, the ‘over-sample’ is never included in the ‘topline’ number. So if you get 4 times the number of African-American voters as you got in a regular sample, those numbers don’t all go into the mix for the total poll. They’re segmented out. The whole thing basically amounts to zooming in on one group to find out more about them. To do so, to zoom in, you need to ‘over-sample’ their group as what amounts to a break-out portion of the poll.

In other words, campaigns and parties do not “oversample” demographic groups in order to generate fake poll numbers. That hasn’t stopped half the Intertubes from reposting headlines like WIKILEAKS BOMBSHELL EXPOSES Clinton Campaign and Mainstream Media “RIGGED POLLING”. And the people posting this that I’ve seen are lefties. The links are followed by comments such as “Money talks and if they don’t listen, thee is always the threat of imminent ‘suicide’ to keep witnesses silent.”

I mean, I’m as weary of knee-jerk rah-rah yay for our side as anybody. But this perpetual screaming hysteria is absolutely exhausting. I wish there were nothing on the Web but cats and babies.

In other news — the text of the talk I gave Sunday is posted here.

26 thoughts on “Please, Make It Stop …

  1. As we are under 2 weeks, the phrase ‘flinging poo’ describes the hysteria we will need to endure for a dozen days. There will be the ridiculous – expect democratic big-shots to declare that the race has tightened up in the last few days to try to gin up the maximum vote out of fear Trump is in a comeback phase. Any propaganda from the left will pale in contrast to the paranoia of the right, watching the WH, the USSC and the Senate slip from their grasp. (Or at least their imaginary grasp) The anguish will be real, anyway.

    None of this will be pretty but – I should be ashamed – watching Donald thrash in defeat like a harpooned whale (apologies to my friends at Greenpeace) will be a delight. I am that petty and I am that vicious – the conservative movement that selected Trump deserves to suffer and fail until a conservative movement with some dignity and honor emerges to make legitimate arguments on substantive issues.

  2. Thank you Maha, and I feel the same about the hyper jump-to-every-headline nonsense going on right now. This is particularly the case with email stuff, where a headline screams scandal and the article below is ho-hum standard campaign affair. It’s tough to pay attention to it at this point.

  3. So much for my metta, Maha. Trump is still a big bag of shit.

    Seriously..I real enjoy the way you can communicate.

  4. I’m doing my best to repost cat pictures on Facebook to combat the political poo which is polluting my feed. I’d have to unfriend some folks to get the political stuff down to a minimal level, and since I like the people, just not their political postings, I’ll keep ’em and just repost every kitten picture I can. I hope that by November 10th all I see are kittens.

  5. “until a conservative movement with some dignity and honor emerges to make legitimate arguments on substantive issues.”

    Doug – absolutely.

  6. First thought, I’m going to read the text of your talk later, maha, right before I go to bed, to calm me down after another day of pre-election angst – especially the crap put out there as bait by Reich-Wingers to demoralize us lefties.

    My second thought is that the people who, when young, excel at the game of Twister, go on to politics and become either Republican politicians, consultants, or pundits. If you can do that kind of twisting with your body, doing it with words is easy!

    Less than two weeks to go until the election.
    Exactly two weeks to go before whatever remains of the Republican Party, starts trying to impeach Hillary Clinton.

  7. thanks again, Maha. 1 quibble: I suspect that the piece in Forbes that you quote was not written to rile the left, so much as to keep SocSec privatization in the limelight among the people Paul Krugman calls Very Serious People (VSP’s) – the pundit set. Remember, this is FORBES – their audience is Wall Street, not us. The political point is more likely to make Clinton more palatable to them, not less palatable to us.

    More likely, it exists as part of the noise stream for the VSPs – this one links to two other sources, and now the VSPs can quote all three; quoting newspaper articles is a great way to generate imaginary “facts”. Remember Judith Miller – may she rot in a dungeon in the Hague.

  8. I think elkern has got the political point right.

    And I think we’re witnessing some media suffering their “last throes,” if I may borrow a phrase from Dick.
    The 24-hour news cycle has been reporting endlessly on news that hasn’t happened yet and it doesn’t look like we’re gonna get ourselves weaned from it all anytime soon. but the election matters a lot. It’s a real struggle, isn’t it?

    I’ve been reminiscing about the days when the pundits mocked Ted Turner for his CNN idea. Little do we know, usually.

    ps. Thanks for posting your text – I needed that!

  9. I was just reading an article about Newt Gingrich’s heated exchange with Megyn Kelly over the issue of Trump being a sexual predator. I was wondering if Newt could be considered a sexual predator because he was shagging Calista while he was still married. I don’t know the details of who initiated that illicit affair so I can’t say with certainty whether Newt was a predator or a victim. But I do know that regardless of how their sexual liaisons came to be, that Newt is an serial adulterer. Whether Calista would be considered an adulteress by engaging in adultery with Newt leaves open the question, if she was unmarried does she still qualify as an adulteress, or is she just a common paramour.
    I guess what I’m trying to clarify in my own mind is to understand what I see as the total hypocrisy coming from Newt. I’m puzzled in trying to establish what exact constitutes a sexual predator. Is there a number of incidents that triggers qualification to be considered a sexual predator, or can someone like Newt whose serial adultery would strongly point to predatory behavior be excused because of the nature and low volume of his offenses?

  10. And now we have certain conservative luminaries, including members of the Senate, saying they will refuse to do anything regarding maybe future president Clinton’s Supreme Court appointments. But, the Intercept, Green Party, Breitbart, Drudge fantasists are worried about emails and illuminati. I’m just hoping Dems win big.

  11. KC – please, PLEASE don’t lump us Greens in with (shudder) Beerbart & Drudge! We (Greens & Democrats) can – and should, even MUST – be allies against the crazy Right. And yes, I often remind other Greens of this.

    I attended a Debate for the Congressional candidates in my district a couple days ago, which included the Green & Libertarian candidates. The Green candidate got way more applause than the Republican, and had many positive things to say about our incumbent Democrat, while also holding his feet to the fire about Global Warming, Military Keynsianism, & Medicare-for-All (Single Payer option to fix ACA).

    And it seems to have helped shift our congressman to the left a bit. When I asked him about Global Warming a couple years ago at a campaign stop, he waffled. This time, he talked about it as an important priority (though he’s still more focused on bringing home the bacon).

  12. Swami,
    You’re misunderestima-standing that paunchy, thimble-dicked, thrice married,albino lizard:
    Newt is a good ol’ country horn dog, and t-RUMP is a good ol’ city horn dog!

    Bill Clinton is the sexual predator.
    And so is Obama, because… well, he’s married to Michelle who, if either Newt or t-RUMP made a pass at her, she’d knock them out.
    Or, better yet, take them up on their pass, and screw them to a cardiac arrested death!!! *

    *My sincerest apologies to the wondeful, beautiful, and soul-rich Michelle, who has far too much taste to even be left alone in he same room as those vermin in human forms – and to anyone who reads this noble blog, for the horrible images I just planted in your brains.

  13. A friend and I used to argue, that if Hillary became president, how would her experience with coordinated GOP obstruction stack up to Obama’s. Boiling our positions down to their essence, it was who would they hate/fear the most as President, a black man or white woman. My vote was for the black man. Looks like my friend was right.

    Mitch McConnell had set the bar pretty low with his declaration that the congressional GOP’s job would do all it could to make sure Obama is a one term president. But its pretty brazen for them to say now, before the election is even over, that they will oppose any supreme court nominee Clinton puts forward. And I don’t think there has ever been impeachment talk before a nominee was elected, not even with Obama.

    I don’t think there has ever been the case of such institutionalized, irrational fear and hatred of a politician by the opposition, ever. And they’ve been beating this drum for so long that you can hear the irrationality in the comments of voters.

    Its not just about Trump. The GOP/right wing is really sick. My fear is how does this reach a head, and what happens when it does?

  14. csm,
    Today’s modern GOP – a bastion of traitorous, treasonous, slugs that even rocks would be ashamed to have hiding under them!

    Here’s the traitorous, treasonous slug’s latest whine, it’s about the Supreme Court:
    YOU Libtards can’t get ANY thing you want, because WE CAN’T GET EVERY FUCKING THING WE WANT!!!

    Obviously, their parents didn’t spank them enough.
    Or, leave them ‘home alone’ when there were criminals nearby.
    Or, cover them in bacon fat and leave them near hibernating bear’ss den’s in the springtime, and tell them, “Wait here! Teddy will come and humg you!!!!!”

  15. Doug,
    If I were the DA, I’d have asked for public spankings for all of the Bundy Bunch!
    Two hours of pants-down, public spankings – each – one by one.

    And then, for their seditious, traitorous, treasonous behaviour, sentence each one to a couple of days in the public stocks – followed by life in prison, with NO chance for parole!

  16. If stupidity were a crime I’ll be in Super Max.
    Gulag, you’re being too hard on the Bundy boys.You have to take into consideration how their pa done brought ’em up. They had an overdose of that Moroni baloney so I think just a few years of self reflection from behind bars should help them get their heads right. There’s no point in completely destroying their lives…the major portion of their offense was stupidity.

  17. Swami,
    Their (background) hero, Adolf Hiltler, once said, “There is no reward for failure, but death!”

    I surely wish all of the conservative yahoo’s paid attention to THAT line.

  18. Looks like the Bundy’s got a jury every bit as brick-stupid as the gang that let George Zimmerman go. This is why people like Trump can come within a few points of the White House. The verdict emboldens any tappy idiot to take over any public area, eating cheetos and trashing the place before running home to mommy.

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