Monday, September 24, 2012

Cinfici Is Polled by Susquehanna

               I was polled by Susquehanna Polling and Research on September 18.  The poll of likely voters suggests the presidential race is a dead heat in Pennsylvania, contrary to other polls.  It also suggests that the contest for the seat of the United States Senate representing the Keystone State is much closer than in other polls.

It was the second recent poll conducted by SP&R showing such a result.  The first was an internal Republican poll, the second one a public one for a media outlet.  Both polls were dismissed by liberals as apparent outliers, but they reflect pollster James Lee’s belief that turnout will not be as high in 2012 as it was in 2008.  It also reflects President Barack Obama’s consistent approval ratings measured by nearly all pollsters below 50% in Pennsylvania and higher Republican enthusiasm in the Commonwealth for casting ballots than that of Democrats.  The Republican State Committee of Pennsylvania cited the internal poll as evidence for why the Romney-Ryan campaign should target their state as a battleground and not abandon it to their opponents, as the liberal media have speculated.  SP&R is a reliable, widely used polling organization.

Despite a Democratic voter registration advantage of 13% – over a million people – Republicans dominated the 2010 Election in Pennsylvania with higher voter turnout and a greater crossover of Democrats voting for Republican candidates than vice versa.  See my post from November of 2010, Pennsylvania Proves the Key State for the GOP,  Indeed, Susquehanna’s poll suggests Obama is trailing in the Democratic western Pennsylvania counties that have been trending Republican in recent years.  They are inhabited by the “bitter clingers,” the western Pennsylvanians Obama insulted during the 2008 presidential campaign as bitterly “clinging” to “religion” or “guns.”  The closer Senate race is reflected in the latest Rasmussen poll and may be the fruit of Republican nominee Tom Smith’s television advertisement campaign.  Smith’s campaign is tying the Democratic incumbent to Obama, which may also be contributing to the erosion of support for the President in the Keystone State.

I have been polled several times over the last few years since before I launched this blog in 2008 in statewide or local races, both in public and internal polls, including by major pollsters.  See my posts: Cinfici Is Polled by Rasmussen Reports, from March of 2010, and Cinfici is Polled Again, from October of that year,  I do not have great confidence in polls generally, much less for how the media reports them, (See my post from earlier this month, The Media’s Error on the Margin of Error in Polls) but the more scientific polls are, the more credible they are.  I post reports of when I have been polled in order to lend credence to the results.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Personal Notes, September 2012

           Now that the summer is ending, I wanted to post about some noteworthy events I attended during that season, among others.

            I attended the annual wreath-laying by District 7 of the Order Sons of Italy in America at the monument of the 39th New York Infantry Regiment, the “Garibaldi Guards” at Gettysburg National Military Park.  The unit was made up of immigrants from various European countries, including Italians, and was named for Italian General Giuseppe Garibaldi, who played a key role in the unification of Italy in 1861.  The Garibaldi Guards helped repulse Longstreet’s Advance (“Pickett’s Charge”) on July 3, 1863 during the Battle of Gettysburg, the turning point of the American Civil War.  It was an honor to participate in a patriotic, religious and ethnic heritage event on the battlefield – the first time I have ever participated in a public event there, other than being on or leading tours of it.

I also attended the opening of the Republican Victory Center in Berks County, Pennsylvania attended by Rep. Charlie Dent (R-PA) and a Member of the British Parliament, Guto Bepp, a Conservative from Wales, as well as several state legislators and local elected officials.  I also met with Rep. Joe Pitts (R-PA), a conservative who would be my new representative if he is reelected because of reapportionment and redistricting.  I am currently represented by Rep. Jim Gerlach, who has served well, including his representation of Reading and Berks County.  I am looking forward to being represented by Pitts, whose district will include all of Reading.

I can report anecdotally in my discussions with Pennsylvania voters, including in contacts with them at various political events other than those mentioned in this post, that there is a sense of urgency about this year’s General Election.  The feeling is one of dread about America going off the “fiscal cliff,” the continued economic weakness and the decrease of liberty from a corresponding increase in government power and from redistributionism.  The fear is that this election represents the last opportunity to save the United States from the doom that would result from a continuation of these policies under President Barack Obama and a Democratic Congress.  There is hope, however, that the sound fiscal policies of a Romney-Ryan Administration and Republican Congress would restore America to fiscal soundness and prosperity.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Attack on the U.S. Consulate in Libya Was an Act of Jihad, Not Anger

            There has been considerable controversy about whether the attack on the United States Consulate in Benghazi, Libya that resulted in the death of the U.S. Ambassador and three other Americans, like the violent protests targeting U.S. embassies in other Muslim states, was a terrorist attack or a spontaneous protest sparked by anger about an anti-Islamic movie made by a resident of the United States.  At first, the Obama Administration denied that it was a terrorist attack, insisting it was a spontaneous result of anger, only now to admit that it was.

            As an attack on a diplomatic facility – a government building – and on the government employees therein, it was not an attack on innocent civilians, meaning civilians as opposed to official policymakers.  Although the attack could terrorize innocent American civilians from visiting such facilities, it did not terrorize most Americans.  Therefore, the attack was not a terrorist attack, but was a violent act of Jihad (Islamic holy war) by militant Islamists.  Indeed, it was an act of war against the U.S.  

            I have striven through numerous posts to this blog to distinguish between the evils of militant attacks and the worse evil of terrorism, the targeting of innocent civilians in order to intimidate the populace into giving into the demands of the terrorists, in order to avoid a dilution of the word terrorism and to treat the threat from terrorists even more harshly than from other militants.

            But the point is that the attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya was not a spontaneous protest by ordinary Libyans angry about an anti-Islamic movie that insults Mohammed.  It was planned by Islamists like al-Qaeda.  The anti-Islamic video was an excuse for anti-American violence, not the cause.  The cause was Islamism.  The timing was September 11, the anniversary of al-Qaeda’s worst terrorist attacks.  Even al-Qaeda’s claimed retaliation for the killing of the terrorist organization’s second in command was an excuse.

            The Ambassador was loved by the Libyan people, some of whom tried to save his life.  He had served in the Middle East with the Peace Corps and Foreign Service, even traveling to Libya during the Civil War to establish relations with the rebels fighting to overthrow Muammar Qaddafi with Western assistance.  An American government official liked by a Muslim population is intolerable for Islamists.

            The Obama Administration appeared more concerned about the feelings of Muslims, before, during and after the attack, than security at American diplomatic facilities.  Adequate security might have prevented the attack or at least ameliorated it.  It is also true that President Barack Obama’s policy of engagement with Muslims, which Islamists interpret as weakness, failed to deter the attack in the first place.  However, just as the anti-Islamic moviemaker did not cause the jihadist attack, neither did Obama’s policies.  Militant Muslims engaged in Jihad did.  The point is similar to placing the blame on the September 11 Attacks on the terrorists who committed them and not on Americans (e.g. because of President Bill Clinton’s repeated failures to respond adequately to terrorism, inadequate airline safety, intelligence failures, etc.) who, although they made unintentional errors, were unable to prevent them.  A larger trend in the United States in recent decades – one that conservatives should be especially mindful to avoid – of an increasing inability to recognize the sole responsibility of individuals for their own actions is discernable here.

Nevertheless, the attack reminds American people that the threat from terrorism targeting Americans, including from al-Qaeda, remains, despite the death of Osama bin Laden.

Pennsylvania News: Small Business Regulatory Reform; Work Requirement for Welfare; Natural Gas Impact Fees

Governor Tom Corbett, a Republican, signed the Small Business Regulatory Reform act approved by the Republican majority General Assembly, which requires the impact of regulations on small businesses to be assessed.  If the regulation adversely affects business, the regulatory agency must substitute a less-burdensome regulation.

Corbett also rejected the potential waiver offered by the Obama Administration of the work requirement for welfare recipients, according to the Commonwealth Foundation.

Pennsylvania reported that the Commonwealth has received $206 million in impact fees for natural gas drilling this year.  Last year, the state legislature passed and Corbett signed a principled impact fee into law, resisting pressure to single out the natural gas industry to impose a tax on natural gas drilling in addition to all the usual state corporate income and asset taxes they already pay.  This figure does not include all of those taxes paid to county and municipal governments, as well as all of the tax revenue generated from tens of thousands of jobs and other economic activity, including royalties for landowners.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Remembering Captain Kathy Mazza and the Other September 11 First Responders

               My cousin, Kathy Mazza-Delosh, a Captain in the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey who was killed in the line of duty in the September 11 Terrorist Attacks, was among the heroic first responders lost in the massacre who were remembered at a ceremony in Reading's City Park yesterday.

               A nurse by training, Mazza rushed to the North Tower of the World Trade Center after it was hit by a terrorist-guided passenger jet.  She helped people escape from the crowded lobby of the building by shooting out the windows with her service revolver.  After the South Tower was hit and collapsed, Mazza and several of her colleagues were attempting to rescue someone from the North Tower when it collapsed, killing them.  Their bodies were found in February of 2002.

               Mazza was included in local newspaper and television stories.  The link the the Reading Eagle story may be found here:  The link to the WFMZ-TV story may be found here:  All of the non-governmental civilians quoted are my family members.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Reflection on the 11th Anniversary of the September 11 Terrorist Attacks

We recall all those killed in the massacre of the September 11 Terrorist Attacks and the bravery of the many first responders and other heroes on that day.  We also thank the soldiers, intelligence agents, and other countless other public servants who have served in the War on Terrorism, at home and abroad, including in Afghanistan and Iraq, and recall all those who have fallen.

We praise all the elected officials, from Presidents and Congress to state and local officials who have initiated and continued anti-terrorism polices.  United States President Barack Obama deserves credit for continuing most of his predecessor, George W. Bush’s, policies in the War on Terrorism that have kept us safe from another massive terrorist attack for eleven years, a result which, immediately after the attacks, few would have predicted.  Regrettably, several of the Obama Administration’s policies have left Americans more vulnerable to terrorism and other militant attacks, as I have noted in previous posts.  In this matter, nothing less than perfection is acceptable.  Although Obama has been good, he has not been perfect, either at home, or in Afghanistan or Iraq.  Thankfully, we have not yet paid the price for foolish policies.  

Today, however, we focus on remembering all that we lost on September 11 and being thankful that we have not lost more and grateful for life and liberty, while we must continue to advocate for the right policies to avoid another dark day like the one eleven years ago.  May God Bless America.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Thank President George W. Bush for Saving New Orleans from Flooding from Hurricane Isaac

The levees the Bush Administration had the Army Corps of Engineers construct around New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina apparently spared the city from catastrophic flooding after Hurricane Isaac.  Isaac was far weaker than Katrina in terms of wind speeds, but because it was much slower-moving, it dumped much more rainfall on the area and produced a higher storm surge in some areas of Louisiana outside the Crescent CityNew Orleans was spared from such inundation because the levees held, unlike after Katrina.  Former President George W. Bush and the Republican Congress that approved the appropriation of billions of American taxpayers’ dollars for the project will probably receive little or no credit in the media for saving New Orleans from far worse flooding.  They and the American taxpayers deserve thanks for their successful efforts.

I also note a contrast between the way the disaster of Hurricane Isaac was handled by Louisiana’s Republican Administration under Governor Bobby Jindal than the way the catastrophe of Hurricane Katrina was handled by the Democratic Administration before, during and after the storm, despite warnings beforehand from the Bush Administration.  Jindal had also won praise for his state’s handling of the BP oil spill two years ago, which, unlike hurricanes, was a matter of federal responsibility because it took place offshore and oil drilling is federally regulated.  The Pelican State Governor was among the many critics of the bureaucracy of the Obama Administration during the oil spill for hampering his efforts.  Louisiana was better prepared for this storm and its citizens took heed of the storm warnings more than the last time. 

Saturday, September 1, 2012

The Media’s Error on the Margin of Error of Polls

               The media usually reports polls in a number of erroneous or misleading ways.  One of the most common regards the margin of error.  I shall examine the other errors and misleading expressions in future posts.

               The margin of error is the statistical degree of deviation, usually based upon at least a 95% degree of confidence.  The margin is determined by the sample size, as is the degree of confidence.  The larger the sample size, the lower the margin of error and the higher the degree of confidence.

               The margin of error refers to each figure of results in a poll, not the difference between the two figures, as the media erroneously reports it.  Thus, the results may represent a statistical tie, even though the difference between two results in a poll may be greater than the margin of error for the total sample.

               For example, if Candidate A’s result is that he is favored by 49% of those polled and Candidate B by 44% and the margin of error is plus or minus 3%, then their race is within the margin of error.  Candidate A’s result is plus or minus 3% of 49% (i.e. 46%-52%) while Candidate B is plus or minus 3% of 44% (41-47%).  Because the ranges for Candidates A and B overlap (i.e. Candidate A’s lowest possible low is lower than Candidate B’s highest possible high), their race is a dead heat.  The media would therefore be wrong to report the result of such a poll as “outside the margin of error.”

               Note: A poll of polls using the same type of polling sample should produce a margin of error and a degree of confidence commensurate with the total number polled.  For example, the results of a poll of 300 registered voters and a margin of error of plus or minus 5% should not be averaged with a poll of 1,000 likely voters and a margin of error of plus or minus 3%.  Not only are the polling samples different, but even if they were the same, a new margin of error and degree of confidence should be calculated based upon the combined results and then the combined total could be reported instead of averaging the results of the two polls as if they are of equal weight, margin of error and degree of confidence.  In other words, averages of the results of polls are inaccurate because they do not take into account these factors.  Instead, the results using similar polling samples should be combined and weighted as if they were one poll.