Thursday, May 12, 2005


To Jim Lampley and Other Clairvoyants

Sports announcer Jim Lampley is a perfect example of how the Huffington Post celebrates celebrity. Arianna herself promotes his latest commentary on the front page of the site.

Unfortunatley for Lampley, he proves himself the Black Knight of political discourse.

It's almost too easy, but here's a Fisking of his latest.

Byron York has treated me fairly and without rancor, and I am grateful for that. Certainly I am more in his wheelhouse than mine, and I'm honored that he saw fit to engage me in this little set-to we've conducted since Monday. I fired a lead right, Rep. John Conyers Oh, you mean the LaRouchie Congressman. shouted encouragement from my corner, then York delivered a hook to the body. I shot back an uppercut, then he loaded up a right hand and attempted to bring an end to the discussion. Why the boxing analogies? Do you think they will convince people you're winning? Because Democrat pollster Mark Blumenthal thinks you've been swinging and missing.

Byron York's most recent refutation of my charge that irregularities in the 2004 Presidential election demand criminal investigation cites quotes from the report of Edison/Mitofsky, the two-company partnership which provided exit polls to the major television networks, on the vast discrepancies between those polls and the official results of the election. The report, which Mr. York has helpfully highlighted in his second post and which runs to about eighty pages, essentially offered the conclusion that an five-and-a-half point gap between final poll numbers and the national popular vote tabulation-- a variance more than four times the statistical margin for error of 1.3%-- can be attributed to shy Republicans. There are dozens of conclusions throughout the Edison/Mitofsky report, including this one on page 39: "Some have suggested that the exit poll data could be used as evidence of voter fraud in the 2004 Election by showing error rates were higher in precincts with touch screen and optical scan voting equipment. Our evaluation does not support this hypothesis." There were factors that were found to have definitely contributed to the errors, including a significant difference in the average error per precinct based on the age of the interviewer! Other factors that had marked impacts included how far from the exit the pollster stood and if there was bad weather. The Washington Post summarized the conclusion: "procedural problems compounded by the refusal of large numbers of Republican voters to be surveyed led to inflated estimates of support for John Kerry." Perhaps focusing on what York actually said or on the source materials he cited rather than how a newspaper article chose to summarize a source would be a better form of argument. With this, in effect, York dismisses the exit poll variance argument.With an 80-page detailed report showing how the errors have no correlation with the voting systems accused of being centers of fraud and showing that errors in some noncompetitive states were greater than in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida, how dare York dismiss this argument. After all, the noted social scientist Jim Lampley has spoken!

I could go on at length here about the curious disconnect between the actual data in the report and its guesswork conclusion, how Edison/Mitofsky systematically validate all their sampling choices and their methodology, in effect eliminating any logical underpinnings for their ultimate summation, all the while selectively ignoring the lopsided skewing of pro-Bush discrepancies in the most critical swing states. Please, why don't you? Could it be that Edison and Mitofsky engage in detailed logical statistical analysis that you cannot begin to attempt to rebut except by smearing them under the guise of saying what you won't do? I could spend some time dissecting what I believe is an obvious whitewash, a delicate sidestep away from the potential public relations disaster of being tied forever to the most notorious election theft in history. I'm sorry. Dissecting it would require facts and logical analysis, not namecalling. Perhaps if you had proven yourself able to dissect anything mathematical, you might have some credibility here.

But none of that is necessary, because the entire Edison/Mitofsky report is irrelevant to the argument, given that it is based on the assumption the final official vote tally is accurate. No, it's not. There are systematically greater error rates associated with characteristics such as the age of the interviewer. This FACT is inconsistent with the hypothesis of fraud. To argue that there was less fraud going on in precincts with older interviewers is downright silly. It's part of the scientific method that if the facts do not fit a hypothesis, it's time to discard the hypothesis. You are not supposed to disregard the facts. Make no mistake: my argument is that the final official vote tally is anything but accurate, that it is the product of massive vote fraud carried out through the programing of Diebold voting machines and various other machinations aimed at suppressing, destroying or losing Kerry votes. Do you actually understand what you are saying? Among the things you're saying is that "suppressed" Kerry votes - meaning people who DID NOT show up to vote - were still counted in the exit polls. My argument is that what were accurate were the exit polls. Your argument has been debunked by professionals, including Democrat partisans. As one Ivy League research methodologist has noted, "Apparently the pollsters at Mitofsky and Edison have found it more expedient to provide an explanation unsupported by theory, data or precedent than to impugn the machinery of American democracy." So because one unnamed "research methodologist" at an unnamed "Ivy League" school says it, it must be true. Never mind that their explanation is based in detail on the actual data, that there is precedent, because there have been significant errors in the past, especially in the 1992 election, which was not conducted using computerized vote-counting equipment, and that the explanation is itself a theory. Surely you must be able to hire researchers who could do a better job for you than this.

Various statisticians have reported that the odds on the occurrence of variances from exit polls to actual results such as were produced in this election range up to 959 000 to 1. That assumes that the samples were random. Now ask the statisticians what they have to say about differential error rates based on the age or education of the interviewer. Sounds like DNA. You obviously don't know much about DNA either. DNA testing doesn't have to worry about differential response rates or interviewer bias. As US Count Votes notes in a statistical abstract, "No matter how one calculates it, the discrepancy cannot be attributed to chance." Who has attributed anything to chance?

So let me put it in Foxspeak. Let me put it in Lampley-speak. Lampley takes a right to the jaw from the facts. He goes down. One. Two. Three. Four. Five. Six. Seven. Eight. Nine. Ten. It's over. The winner by a knockout: the facts. If all the circumstantial evidence related to potential vote fraud in this election were gathered up into one big file for the Scott Peterson jury, they'd convict. If all the "evidence" you have were gathered together, no prosecutor would file charges. You've worked around boxing for decades. You should have a long experience with counting things that are rigged. Of courese, we've never heard you say that a fight was fixed. Instead of seeing it where it does occur and you have some clue of what you speak, you're fighting phantoms. The jury that might look at all this and acquit? O.J. Simpson. What does your friend and ally, Mr. Conyers, say about this comparison? Politics make strange bedfellows. Really? Who is in bed with you again? We have John Conyers and the Lyndon LaRouche movement. We also have Keith Olbermann and half the posters on Daily Kos, democratic Underground, and a couple other blogs. Who am I missing? Oh yes. Political professionals, polling experts, and serious commentators, even on the left.

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