Wednesday, April 23, 2014

I Was Part of the New York Times Flawed Poll On Louisiana Senate Race

I differ from most people that think telemarketers and pollsters should have a place in hell reserved for them where the flames burn a little hotter.

First I think political polling plays a critical importance in our nation.

 Second I have actually done what these folks calling are doing.. I cringe thinking of the verbal abuse I got from folks for a job that was not paying megabucks to say the least.. So when a poll taker gets me on the phone it's their lucky day. I also get that the poor guy  on the other end of the line does NOT get paid unless he or she gets complete responses. So no matter who is running the poll I always complete it no matter who is running it.

I got called last week to take part in a rather extensive poll .

I took particular interest in this poll since it was done by the New York Times. The results of this poll taken in several Southern States where Senate races are hot are in.

See Poll Shows Tight Senate Races in Four Southern States .

As to two of these southern states I think I have some familiarity with the current political dynamics . The first being Louisiana of course and the next to some degree Arkansas since I am just 30 minutes from the border.

 The poll  results today I think show while polling is needed it is still a very tricky business

The results of the polls on the Senate races drew some pretty quick reactions of disbelief in some Republican quarters. Pryor ahead in Arkansas by 10 points ? Mary Landrieu beating Congressman Cassidy 42 to 18 percent ? What ? From what I know this does not depict a reality any of these campaigns think are happening on the ground.

So what happened. First as the Weekly Standard  notes the voting sample used shows a voting public that does not match reality. They say in part :

In other words, the Times and Kaiser have produced a sample in Arkansas that reports they voted in 2012 for Romney over Obama--by one point. But Romney carried Arkansas in 2012 by 24 points. Similarly, the Kentucky sample is +3 Romney when reality was +23. The Louisiana sample is +3 Obama in a state Obama lost by 17, and the North Carolina sample is +7 Obama in a state he lost by 3.

Now how did this happen ?

First this poll had to be one of the longest polls I ever took. It ran close to 30 minutes and I was counting the minutes because the LSU baseball game was on at the time which I was of course missing.

The vast majority of questions were about Obama are / ACA and related Louisiana issues of Medicare expansion. Strangely these questions do not appear in the list of questions that were asked that is provided by the New York Times.

The questions on Obama care related issues seemed to take on a push poll like quality. A push poll is when the questions are phrased in a way to get a result. I am not sure that was the intention but that was I thinking .

I think this might have been an effect of just the cumulative nature of the questions . Further the questions were very detailed at times and the pollster seemed not interested in me putting things into a undecided or don't know category . The pollster was doing what is called a hard sell. He wanted you to make a choice.

I was starting to feel some aggravation at this as this poll went on and on. I can just imagine how some that are not pollster friendly were feeling. This becomes critical because  the who you were going to vote for Senate question came up fairly late.In fact it seem just a sideline of the overall poll itself.

I suspect a good many  of anti Obamacare , and conservative leaning voters bailed on this poll before it was completed and thus their responses were thrown out. . LIKE HEY YOU HAVE TAKEN ENOUGH OF MY TIME sort of thing.

On the flip side if you really are invested in the success of Obamacare /ACA I think it was more likely you would answer questions all day as to the way this poll was set up.Thus you got to the Senate question and had your entire poll answer counted.

So at the end of the day we get a voting sample that just seems so out of whack with reality. If the poll had fewer questions or perhaps more questions on a variety of topics we might have got a poll that seems to reflect in a Louisiana voting public ( the folks that actually vote )  reality.

Again polling is a tricky business.

That being said the fact that Mary Landrieu is only running in the low 40's in a voting sample of Obama + 3 can't be the best news of the day for her.

Can LGBT Rights and Freedom of Association Rights Live In Peace ?

I am getting more invested all the time in finding a sweet spot that reconcile LGBT rights, freedom of association , religious liberty , and other crucial First amendment speech protections. However I fear finding it is going to be some time off.

In the socially conservative leaning town of Shreveport Louisiana there was recently a significant victory for folks with varying degrees of same sex attraction and unjust discrimination. I had no huge problems with the law thought I would added a few amendments if I was in a position to do so .I also got a sense that many in Shreveport were quite fine with the law , as shown by the City Council vote , and these included people across the political and religious spectrum.

In the State of Louisiana Legislature  though a package of bills that deal with LGBT discrimination are going nowhere fast. For instance see here and here .

Now there are many reason for this I suppose. There are those that for various legal reasons do not think we should be extending another suspect classification to another group of people. There is no doubt some of this pressed by people that have a real problem with gay folks. Also I suspect there are great number of business people that while not holding any animus as to gays fear being dragged into Court if they happen to fire someone that is LGBT or fails to hire them for various valid reasons.

However I am wondering if we are seeing something else. That is a push back and  a concern by many because of what they read in the media each day. In other words people that might be open to various pro LGBT bills are worried about being taken for fools five or ten years down the road.

There is no doubt in my mind that one reason for success of gay marriage has been a somewhat Libertarian outlook by many. What does gay marriage have to do with you , or  the people have the right to be left alone to live their lives argument . In other words you  morality police stay out of people's private lives. I have to admit as someone that has some Libertarians leanings this argument has had some appeal to me at times .

However as we are quickly learning  one side did not have a monopoly on being the morality police and they in certain states are attacking with a vengeance.

In California this morning we hear this news that Judges may be prohibited from being involved with the Boy Scouts . This comes right after Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich had to step down following uproar over his apparent opposition to gay marriage. Despite the fact there is no evidence that Mr Eich every discriminated against anyone LGBT !

Then we have news that a politico in New York wants to starts Chick-fil-A war part II .On that issue I think the Anchoress uses that story as a perfect vehicle of what is so so  very wrong about this state of affairs. See her must read post Chick-fil-A! Lay Thyself Toward the Idol or Be Damned!

None of these and   many more incidents that we are seeing don't have a sense of a " right to be left alone " ethos that partly led to the adoption of gay marriage in many states . What does Gay marriage have to do with you was the old question. Well it appears a good bit in certain jurisdictions .

Add to that the whole debate over various efforts to put Freedom of Religion Restoration Acts in various states. Some of these statutes were flawed however others have been unfairly called out as Jim Crow. This is part due to a coalition of LGBT and reproductive right activists that I think were unfair in the criticisms.

All these are of course tough issues and its going to require some leadership on both sides to resolve. However people in all these factions are going to have to finds a way that gives real legal protection to everyone's views and not just give lip service to them . Perhaps I am deluded and there can be no living together and so we shall  endure the battles of all battles over what some call the culture war. However if that is the case there are going to be some real casualties .

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Welcome 2014 Holy Saturday Catholic Converts - Some Of Their Stories

There is some evidence of a Pope Francis effect on converts in Arkansas.  This is seen among folks from " bible churches " and the lapsed.

In San Francisco Vietnamese immigrant, tech entrepreneur finds Catholic faith .

Interesting fact.It was the Africans who pushed for the re-establishment of the catechumenate which every Catholic now knows as “the RCIA” .

This is a interesting convert story from the Diocese of Fort Wayne - South Bend of a person's dad that became Catholic. It turns out his doubts over the doctrine of the Eucharist he had during the RCIA process came to a end in an unexpected way.

In the Diocese of Phoenix the resolve by couple to give their  marriage a second chance leads his wife to the Catholic Church and receiving the Sacraments tonight.

This is such an interesting story about Catholic converts that makes me pause how my Parish is approaching thing. In the Diocese of Nashville many prisoners including those on Death Row have become Catholic and are MEMBERS of the local parish.

Four different paths and 4 different Converts from the Archdiocese of Toronto who will be received into the Church tonight.

This is pretty neat. From the Diocese of Baton Rouge a family of nine from ages 10 months to age 40 are entering the Catholic Church tonight

A small largely Protestant Missouri town has got 24 Catholic converts this year. Including a 78 year old woman

Friday, April 18, 2014

2014 Catholic Converts- Homeless Man Looks Forward to Easter Baptism

Continuing with our 2014 folks that are entering the Church this Holy Saturday a nice story from San Francisco . See Homeless man awaits Easter baptism . 

What a story.

2014 Catholic Converts - Family of Five Enters Church This Week

In my early college days I converted to Catholicism so I take great interest in folks coming into the Church on Easter Saturday. I hope to highlight those stories today and tomorrow.

Here is a interesting one from the Archdiocese of St Louis that is about a whole family  ( all 5 of them ) that will enter the Church this Saturday .

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Will Christians For Expanded Government Regret Stance On Religious Liberty ?

Law Prof Greg Sisk had an interesting post up at MOJ yesterday. See The Spirited Debate About the Role of Government and Religious Liberty Will Continue Well into the Future .

He mentioned something that I have been thinking about when he says " To be sure, specific issues that dominate today's political debates -- such as whether to repeal or reform Obamacare and even the rise of same-sex marriage -- may fade. But the central questions of whether we as a people want a bigger government and, important to the readers of this blog, whether big government can be reconciled with religious liberty are not going away."

 Elsewhere he states " To the chagrin of many progressives of faith that I know, the Obama Administration has heightened the perception that liberal government comes at the expense of religious liberty by taking rather extreme positions on these issues, including before the Supreme Court " .

I think this is very critical and will in fact not only have an influence on Church State relations , but also relations  between Faith Community themselves.

It does seem on a host of issues much of the Protestant Mainline , a growing chorus of progressive Evangelicals,  and indeed some Catholics seem not to be thinking long term about some of their positions.

From various LGBT issues to " reproductive rights " issues it seems they view their cause so just so right that critical First Amendment and religious liberty questions don't enter their mind. For instance are progressive Christians really that comfortable with placing such a divide between Faith and work which goes against the worldwide grain?

I think there is wide agreement that there should not be unjust discrimination against LGBT folks.  However many are actively opposed to any exemptions that would allow dissenting folks of Faith not  to have to contribute to a same sex wedding ceremony such as in the case of a wedding photographer. This has both religious liberty and compelled speech issues. However for many Progressive Christians it seems the use of Government power to stop what they view as an evil is so unlimited there are few qualms about these problems.

The problem seems to be two fold.

 First as a " conservative Christian " too many times it has been so easy not to call out friends I am allied with when they are wrong . I think Progressive Christians have the same problem. It is a pretty natural response.

Second as to the Protestant mainline it seems that many special interest groups , for instance LGBT and Feminists , have a huge stranglehold on key parts of the power structure in various Faith communities. This seems evident when you watch them at their annual national meetings / conventions .

I come from a Catholic tradition that quite frankly both as a theological and practical matter seems to envision a expanded role for Government in people's lives. However the deal was that the Church and State were partners , or at the very least there was limits to where the Government could go on infringing on rights of the faithful. This agreement  looks in peril.

Regardless as Prof Sisk indicates these issues are not going away , and who knows that the next collision of Church and State will be.

However history has shown that regimes that don't respect objector rights and freedoms don't fare well over time. I do fear that progressive Christians  , just like  their secular progressive counterparts  in the early 20th century , are going to regret not giving attention to certain natural rights and / or protections we see in the Bill of the Rights that have been part of our tradition.

Regardless of the future if one sees a expanded role for Government in people's lives as a matter of faith then paying attention to the religious liberty question is going to be important. If not then we are going to have quite a few heated disputes that is going to distract from our core mission of bring folks to Jesus.