Tag Archives: Electoral College

The Problem With Statistics

Statistically speaking, former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, just won the 2016 presidential election. She received the majority of the popular vote. Statistically speaking, and in reality, Donald Trump won last week’s election because in the United States we have this thing called the Electoral College, and the billionaire businessman garnered more than enough electoral votes to claim victory. Both Clinton and Trump “won” this year’s presidential election, and therein lies the problem with statistics. They don’t always tell the whole story. We all know only one person was truly victorious and will soon get to occupy the Oval Office as our new Commander in Chief.

I was kind of expecting Hillary to win the 2016 presidential election, but I certainly wasn’t shocked, or even that surprised, when The Donald came away with the victory. There’s been a lot of speculation as to why Clinton lost the election: Her base was much less enthusiastic than Obama’s was in 2008 and 2012; She was an establishment candidate in an election year primed for an “outsider” to win; And those darn e-mails. I think the Democratic nominee’s loss had more to do with the frequently mentioned, but rarely discussed, 10% of undecided voters. Again, it’s about the statistics. However, neither the pollsters, nor the so-called experts, seemed overly concerned with taking the time to consider what impact the number of estimated undecided voters might have on election day.

To the contrary, I had given the undecided voters plenty of thought leading up to the election, and I had an inkling a good portion of the 10% probably weren’t really undecided. I had a difficult time believing there were still so many people, a couple of weeks before the election, who did not know which candidate they were going to cast a ballot for…or against. I assumed a majority of the “undecided” were closet Trump fans whom most-likely feared the backlash that typically comes with revealing such a thing. Admittedly, I was a tad surprised Trump won the electoral vote, and Clinton secured the popular vote. I had a sense it was going to be the other way around.

By the way, I adamantly oppose electing our nation’s leader via the Electoral College. I felt this way long before the 2016 election, and my sentiments on the subject have not changed. I’m sure the Democrats aren’t too pleased with the system either after losing two out of the last five elections only because of the Electoral College. (Maybe the system is rigged after all.) The current presidential election process just doesn’t seem fair, but that is the system we honor at this time, so there’s no use in complaining. Now back to the topic at hand. Statistics are subjective at best. Many times stats are not only misleading, but they’re purposely distorted in an attempt to provoke us or to “prove” a reporter’s weak point.

For example, since Trump’s victory the media has routinely been using the phrase “a nation divided” when referring to the sparse protests around the country. I think the word divided falsely gives the impression that half of America’s population has taken to the streets. Of course, that is far from accurate. In reality, only a few thousand people, out of approximately 319 million people nationwide, are publically protesting the soon-to-be 45th President of the United States. The number of protesters is microscopic and is a far cry from “a nation divided.” Once again, our trusted media seems willing to attain a story at the expense of the truth.

I never used to be so cynical concerning the media, but I’ve been finding more and more evidence that (like many of our politicians) our mainstream media specializes in false claims, half truths, and out and out lies. Often times statistics are used to give credence to such blatant dishonesty, but the data doesn’t mean much when it’s obviously skewed. I’ve also discovered that many articles appear harmless on the surface, but after further exploration they are found to be steeped in bias and fail to give an entirely accurate depiction of the real story. I think the mother of all dishonest reporting is when a journalist uses both slanted statistics and deceptive headlines when trying to “prove” their feeble point.

For instance, last month I could not help but notice a story in The Arizona Republic (Oct. 6th, 2016). I was curious about the enlarged words and accompanying statistics, directly beneath the headline, more so than the headline itself. I might’ve skipped the article on corporal punishment in schools, but I was so dumbfounded by the sobering stats that were listed. I couldn’t believe I was reading “African-American children in a few southern school districts about 50% more likely than white students to be smacked or paddled by a school worker.” I was even more flabbergasted when reading that in some of those school districts “black children are more than 500%, or five times as likely, to be spanked or paddled.”

I thought how unfair. How can that possibly be? Maybe there is something to all the recent chatter regarding Black oppression. I don’t know how anyone could read those words and not conclude that that’s racial discrimination. But wait. About midway through the story, in much smaller print, the reporter includes a quote from the leader of the corporal punishment study, Elizabeth Gershoff. The researcher said, “The higher prevalence of corporal punishment for black students doesn’t necessarily imply discrimination within schools or classrooms. In many of these districts black students – and presumably black educators – are in the majority.”

So, in a few southern school districts Black teachers are spanking Black children, yet the eye-catching words and statistics of the article certainly implied something entirely different. The story was about corporal punishment in schools, but the writer seemed determined to make it about race. Now more than ever statistics are being used haphazardly, irresponsibly, and even dangerously. During the campaign season we were reminded that statistically there are predominantly more Blacks incarcerated in this country than Whites even though Whites greatly outnumber Blacks. So? Stats also show there are significantly more Blacks playing in the NBA than Whites. Again, so? Not everything has to be 50/50 in order to be fair. I no longer put much stock in statistics because they rarely tell the whole story.


A Positive message

With all of the negative rhetoric running rampant in this great country of ours, especially amongst the presidential hopefuls for 2016, I thought it would be refreshing to write something with a positive message. Therefore, I’m not about to mention the ludicrous protesting happening (again) in Ferguson, Missouri. It makes no sense to me why anyone would be against law enforcement protecting law-abiding citizens from people like Michael Brown. Instead, those protesting insist on honoring the deceased delinquent. What’s even worse is combining all White police officer shootings of Black men into one neat little package. Each incident is entirely separate from the others and deserves the respect of being thought of as such. Regardless, all lives matter, yet there are sometimes dire consequences awaiting those who choose to participate in robbery and resisting arrest.

In remaining positive, I also won’t divulge the fact that Donald Trump is constantly applauded as a “self-made” successful businessman, but in reality he came out of his mother’s womb a millionaire, and he has since owned four businesses that have gone bankrupt. Although there’s something to dislike about every candidate, vying for the presidency of the United States of America, I’ll attempt to solely focus on what I actually like about them. Of course, there’s at least one possible foreseeable problem with that; what I might choose to offer as a compliment may indeed be the exact thing someone else despises about the presidential hopeful. However, this blog is about me remaining positive. If a candidate isn’t even mentioned in this piece…I’m sure that speaks volumes as to what I must think of them.

Donald Trump says he’s in favor of repealing America’s birthright citizenship policy. I agree. I’ve been against rewarding newborns (of illegal immigrants) the automatic right to U.S. citizenship, simply because they were born here, for a very long time. I am also on the same page as Mr. Trump when it comes to his disdain for America’s incessant pursuit of political correctness. The Donald made headlines recently (what’s new?) after responding to a tasteless line of questioning, apparently in a politically incorrect manner, during the first Republican debate for 2016. The business mogul absolutely was singled out and attacked by Fox News commentator, Megyn Kelly, so I say what’s good for the goose is good for the gander. I’m not about to disagree with Trump’s unflattering comments about Rosie O’Donnell either. I’ve heard the former co-host of The View publically berate and belittle him, as well as many others, so I’m fairly unsympathetic when people tend to treat her in the same fashion.

Similarly, Kelly Osbourne was recently lambasted, while guest-hosting on The View, after she said what many perceived as being a politically incorrect statement. The irony is Ms. Osbourne was trying to put Donald Trump in his place, concerning his take on our nation’s illegal immigration problem, when she blurted, “If you kick every Latino out of this country, then who is going to be cleaning your toilet, Donald Trump?” I’m not a fan of Kelly Osbourne whatsoever, but I think her comment was totally correct. Every “day laborer” I’ve ever seen, at least in Arizona, has appeared to be of Hispanic descent. The majority of housekeepers in hotels, all across the United States, seem to be of the Latina persuasion as well.

It’s apparent to me many illegal immigrants are content working America’s less than glamorous occupations, at extremely low wages, just as long as they have the opportunity to continue living in this country. My point is I strongly doubt if Mr. Trump could find a White, legal citizen to clean his toilet unless he’s willing to pay a decent wage. People simply need to lighten up and cut Ms. Osbourne some slack. The other thing I appreciate about Donald Trump is due to his immense wealth he doesn’t have to pander to special interest groups to run a legitimate campaign. The Donald is his own special interest. Oops…I forgot…maybe that last comment wasn’t too positive.

Dr. Ben Carson has said he is not a fan of political correctness either. I admire his candidness, and I relish the fact he’s not a seasoned politician. Dr. Carson also boldly refutes the theory of evolution which is my sentiment exactly. Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton both have been defending Planned Parenthood recently in the wake of the “scandal” involving the family planning center. Videos have surfaced of Planned Parenthood personnel discussing, in a nonchalant manner, the harvesting of babies’ body parts. At a time when most of the other candidates are threatening to defund the agency’s clinics, across the entire nation, Mr. Sanders and Mrs. Clinton are commending the organization’s existence. The released videos are definitely unfortunate, and maybe the government could reduce the institution’s annual funding a bit, but I think Planned Parenthood is a vital agency especially for the younger generation.

I know I was thankful for the family planning center, in the mid-eighties, when I was dating my girlfriend (aka lovely wife) and even after we got married. Fortunately, we were allowed to obtain birth control without parental consent. Who wants to hear their parents’ lectures (or worse yet – them saying no) when a young couple thinks they’re doing the right thing? After our wedding we were able to continue purchasing birth control from Planned Parenthood at an affordable rate. The clinic enabled my wife and I to responsibly start a family when we were certain we could afford raising a child without any financial assistance.

Hillary Clinton has a reputation of reaching across the aisle to get things done. The same can be said of Jeb Bush although probably not to the extent of some other compromising Republicans namely John Kasich and Chris Christie. I’m an avid supporter of bipartisanship, so I have high regard for anybody who’s willing to negotiate, with the other party, to do what’s best for the United States. Mr. Bush, believe it or not, has sometimes been criticized, by members of his own party, for being too liberal. I admire how the former Governor of Florida dismantled affirmative action in his state. I also fancy how he’s a proponent of “three-strike” laws. I believe if a lawbreaker hasn’t learned to abide by society’s rules after already being convicted of two felonies then the miscreant will most-likely never learn. Therefore, repeat offenders should be subjected to harsher sentencing, on their third strike, and kept isolated from law-abiding citizens.

Rand Paul and Mike Huckabee both seem to have a major problem with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Mr. Paul desires to, at the very least, minimize the government agency, and Mr. Huckabee insists the stressful annual event, of filing tax returns, could easily be simplified. Both candidates are in favor of dismantling the IRS and implementing a fairer tax system. Mike Huckabee envisions a new tax system where all tax returns could effortlessly be completed and returned on a standard postcard. That sounds phenomenal to a guy who spends an enormous amount of time each year sifting through numerous tax forms. Rand Paul wants to eliminate foreign aid, and his non-interventionist attitude relating to war definitely tugs at my heartstrings.

Mike Huckabee and Scott Walker are adamantly opposed to transgenders serving in the United States Armed Forces. I would assume our nation’s military is busy enough without having to be inconvenienced with figuring out how to make a confusing situation (both literally and figuratively) like that comfortable for all concerned. I wish the former “Don’t ask, don’t tell” U.S. policy, instituted by the Clinton Administration in 1994, was still in effect today. I have no problem with homosexuals serving, but I don’t think their sexual preference needs to be identified nor celebrated.

I found out, while researching the presidential hopefuls’ positions, that Mr. Walker returned $60,000. of his annual salary, each year for many years, when he was a Milwaukee county executive. It was a promise he made to his constituents when he first ran for the elected position. He did so because he had previously been an outspoken critic of the pay level for county jobs. I commend the Wisconsin Governor for keeping his selfless campaign promise. Governor Walker and the Governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie, have their fondness for the old Patriot Act in common.

The Patriot Act was signed into law by George W. Bush in 2001; however, a key provision of the law that allowed for unlimited access to collected phone data (in essence spying), by the National Security Agency (NSA), was sadly buried in June of this year. The three of us would like to see Section 215 of the Patriot Act resurrected for the sake of America’s national security. To the contrary, Mr. Christie and I dislike famed hacker and traitor, Edward Snowden, for his cunning ways. Hacking into our government’s files and releasing private information is unacceptable under any circumstance. Another thing I like about Governor Christie is that he distinctively advocates for Social Security and Medicare “means testing.” That simply means if people do not need the money they’re receiving, from the entitlement programs, then they should stop accepting the benefits.

Martin O’Malley has a novel idea as well. The Democrat would like to see the Electoral College abolished. I too am in favor of our country’s president being determined by the popular vote instead. I’ve never understood why one person’s vote should be more important than another person’s vote, yet that’s the type of inequality the Electoral College election process promotes. Mr. O’Malley not only has a fine Irish name, but the former Governor of Maryland has stated he “proudly” holds an F rating from the National Rifle Association of America (NRA). I can’t help but fancy his sense of humor.

There you have it: a thorough synopsis of the things I like about many of the candidates who are hoping to occupy the Oval Office in early 2017. It wasn’t all that simple either. However, it’s refreshing to know there are others out there who actually think the same way as I do about certain things. I’m quite aware I offer a glimpse of where I stand, on an array of issues, when revealing all of the aforementioned candidates’ viewpoints I truly respect. I’m proud to be an Independent voter. I’m about the person – not their political affiliation. I’m James McCleary, and I approve this positive message.