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Archive for January, 2012

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To Liberal Bloggers, One UW Prof’s as Good as the Next!

I’m not visiting Marquette Law School Professor Charles Franklin’s press guy, so it’s not my job to defend the guy full, or even part-time.  But I just wanted to point out a major league fallacy being pushed by a number of big-name liberal bloggers out there in the state trying to discredit his recent poll on potential recall match-ups against Gov. Scott Walker.

First, there’s former Feingold press flack Jud Lounsbury over at “Uppity Wisconsin.”

Charles Franklin, who was widely criticized in 2010 for tweeking his poll results to fit the wishes of the rightwing group WPRI, has released another stinker.

Then there’s “The Chief,” who is actually defending Franklin’s polling and methodology in his post.

Perhaps the silliest attack is that Franklin is himself a conservative, and thus has a motive to skew his polls as such, based solely on two pieces of evidence: he conducted the poll for Marquette Law School (an institution so conservative that it employs noted reactionary Russ Feingold) and that he once conducted a poll for WPRI. If this were true, then Franklin would also be a flaming liberal because he sold Pollster.com, of which he was a co-founder, to the Huffington Post. He can’t be both.

But perhaps the piece de resistance comes from failed Democratic U.S. Senate candidate, failed Democratic gubernatorial candidate, and the man who gave us the 1982 NFL Players Strike, Ed Garvey over at “Fighting Bob.com.”

Whose poll is it if it is not Marquette’s? Did JS ask or are they part of the deal? Recall we have been flashing the yellow caution light about UW-Madison’s Pol Sci prof Charles Franklin. He was part of the UW-Madison partnership with extreme right-wing Bradley Foundation’s WPRI. Bradley would pay Franklin and his fellow poli sci profs and Franklin would lend the UW’s good name to polls. WPRI would give final approval to the wording, timing, subject matter and they agreed to spin results with MJS! In fact, MJS would get the information ahead of all other media. Tsk, tsk, and whoa Nelly. Who conducted this “new Marquette poll”? Why none other than Dr. Franklin: this is the first of a series being conducted by Charles Franklin, co-founder of pollster.com and a visiting professor at Marquette on leave from UW-Madison. Because he is on leave, he will argue that neither he nor Marquette are covered by the Open Records law that tripped him when the WPRI deal was exposed by FightingBob.com.

Ed, do yourself a favor and don’t trust your memory.  Trust your archives.

It wasn’t Charles Franklin who was on retainer with WPRI for “the failed polling” as they put it.  It was his colleague Prof. Ken Goldstein.

Here’s how Pollster.com’s co-founder and former Democratic pollster Mark Blumenthal explained it in a posting on March 9, 2010:

The AP story — which is well worth reading in full — includes complete details plus a reaction from [UW Political Science Professor] Goldstein who says he is “stunned, flabbergasted, amazed — every single adjective you can come up with” as the criticism he has received.

Our own interests in this story are as follows: Pollster.com co-creator and contributor Charles Franklin is a member of the UW-Madison political science department and a friend and colleague of Goldstein but, he tells me, was not personally involved in the WPRI polling. Also, well before the WPRI polling project, my assistant Emily Swanson worked for Goldstein as an undergraduate at UW-Madison.

If nothing else, this episode demonstrates the increasing difficulty consumers of polling data have in identifying potential conflicts in the sponsorship and funding of public polling. Simply identifying polls sponsored by a political campaign or political action committee or conducted by a campaign pollster — something we try to do on Pollster.com — is obviously not enough. In this case, a University of Wisconsin news release billed WPRI as a “non-partisan, non-profit think tank [that] has been conducting independent, annual polls on politics and issues for more than 20 years.” Yet the Institute acknowledged to AP what their report characterized as a “free-market, limited government slant and receives funding from the Bradley Foundation, a Milwaukee group that supports numerous conservative causes.”

Not sure what I’m proud of in this blog post.  That I continued to prove Ed Garvey’s lost most of his marbles, or that there are at least two other liberal bloggers in Wisconsin still willing to take what he writes, run with it sight unseen and fail to fact-check it for themselves?

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Japanese Neuroscientists: Yeah, An Intersect is Doable

If this can happen, this will blow all of our minds.  Literally.

Experiments conducted at Boston University (BU) and ATR Computational Neuroscience Laboratories in Kyoto, Japan, recently demonstrated that through a person’s visual cortex, researchers could use decoded functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to induce brain activity patterns to match a previously known target state and thereby improve performance on visual tasks.

Think of a person watching a computer screen and having his or her brain patterns modified to match those of a high-performing athlete or modified to recuperate from an accident or disease. Though preliminary, researchers say such possibilities may exist in the future.

“Adult early visual areas are sufficiently plastic to cause visual perceptual learning,” said lead author and BU neuroscientist Takeo Watanabe of the part of the brain analyzed in the study.

Neuroscientists have found that pictures gradually build up inside a person’s brain, appearing first as lines, edges, shapes, colors and motion in early visual areas. The brain then fills in greater detail to make a red ball appear as a red ball, for example.

Researchers studied the early visual areas for their ability to cause improvements in visual performance and learning.

“Some previous research confirmed a correlation between improving visual performance and changes in early visual areas, while other researchers found correlations in higher visual and decision areas,” said Watanabe, director of BU’s Visual Science Laboratory. “However, none of these studies directly addressed the question of whether early visual areas are sufficiently plastic to cause visual perceptual learning.” Until now.

For those unaware with the NBC comedy / drama / action show “Chuck,” this pretty much highlights what they’ve called “The Intersect 2.0” in the series.   This newer Intersect was a massive governmental computer database which had all the government’s intelligence secrets in, but also allowed the person with it to access skills they never previously had such as kung fu, other languages, weapons use and so on.

Here’s a link to a montage at YouTube.  I’d embed it, but either NBC or Warner Bros. is not too happy with mass distributions of their content.

The two-hour series finale of “Chuck” is tomorrow night on NBC and 8 / 7 C.

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Seriously, He Went There?

DPW’s Graeme Zielinski loses it on the Marquette University Law School poll done yesterday by attacking the pollster himself visiting professor Charles Franklin.

From WisPolitics’ PM Update last night:

“He is a Republican, not a credible pollster with a poll that is not credible.,” Zielinski charged.

Zielinski criticized the geographic and gender sampling in the poll and said the results contradict four professional polls.

Franklin told WisPolitics.com that he has never been affiliated with either the GOP or the Democratic party and has always conducted polls in a non-partisan way.

“I simply have no clear idea what they’re talking about,” he said. “I haven’t contributed to any candidates, I have never taken a public position supporting anyone, if they’d like to check me in databases for FEC and [the Wisconsin] Democracy Campaign, they’re welcome to.”

Really Graeme, really?

Attacking the pollster first off is the action of losers.  What’s next?  Attacking 5 year-olds?  (See here for more details.)

I’ve chatted with Professor Franklin both professionally and personally many times, I honestly can’t pin down where the guy is politically.  The best I can run with is he’s some sort of mad scientist type who’s more caught up in where the numbers crunch together on the issues of the day than the issues of the day themselves.

I can recall in 2008, when Professor Franklin was part of a team of political scientists which put together “The Big Ten Poll” and showed Barack Obama winning Wisconsin and other battleground states handedly, not a lot of Democrats complained back then.  When asked by NRO’s Jim Geraghty for my thoughts on that specific poll, I remember saying to “Mr. Campaign Spot,” something akin to “Honestly, given who did it, I have a hard time challenging it.”

The guy spends his election nights locked in a room in New York crunching numbers with other eggheads for ABC News for pete’s sake!

Finally, and I ask this of Zielinski just so he has some form of “face palm” moment later on in the day, but when you talk to former Barrett staffer Eric Kleefeld of the liberal news site “Talking Points Memo” today with whatever hit you’re trying to get out to them, ask him who TPM uses as its poll aggregator.

If he doesn’t say “Charles Franklin” as his answer, I guess they must have switched up who they were using in the past few months.

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Cartoon of the Day

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Cartoon of the Day

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1,000 Days

Great video from the House GOP on the Senate Democrats failure to pass a budget in 1,000 days.


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Smithsonian to Have Swap of Space Shuttles

Got to see Enterprise at the Udvar-Hazy Center sometime in 2009.  It’s a great addition to the ever-expanding exhibits the Smithsonian has out at its hangar over at Dulles International.

Enterprise is now moving to be part of the permanent joint carrier-shuttle museum of the U.S.S. Intrepid (CVS-11)So the shuttle will join it as part of a floating exhibit in the New York area.

Or so the plan goes…

Udvar-Hazy is now getting the Space Shuttle Discovery to replace the Enterprise. 

The Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum is preparing to welcome the space shuttle Discovery into its collection.

Smithsonian Secretary Wayne Clough (cluff) says the shuttle will be flown to Washington Dulles International Airport on the back of a Boeing 747 in April. A flyover is planned above the nation’s capital before Discovery makes its final home at the museum’s massive hangar in Northern Virginia.

Clough said Monday the flyover is planned for April 17. A museum spokeswoman later said the flyover has not been confirmed, and details are still being finalized.

A formal welcome ceremony is planned for April 19 at the museum’s Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Va.

Shuttle Endeavour will travel to the California Science Center in Los Angeles in the second half of the year.

The final shuttle, Atlantis, will be on permanent display at the Kennedy Space Center Complex in Florida.

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Irony Defined

Say you’re a political party in a medium-sized state somewhere in the Midwest.

Say there’s a former governor who’s making a bid for the United States Senate after

Say as a political party you make a big stink when the former governor asks for extensions to his financial disclosure forms.

Also says you get so involved in the attack on the absent financial disclosure forms you announce in the past week you’ve built a website about it.

What do you call it when you fail to file your own fund raising numbers by deadline?

The state Republican Party reported raising $205,900 over the recall period, spending $378,300 and having $128,000 in cash. The state Democratic Party had not filed its report by deadline.

Yes, that’s irony folks.

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National Dems Unhappy with Planned Labor Spending in Walker Recall

What’s the old saying again; “Cutting off your nose to spite your face?”

Organized labor’s plans to spend heavily to recall Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) has sparked angst on the left that the effort will come at the expense of Democrats in other states.

The funding disparity between groups allied with either Republicans or Democrats is one of the biggest concerns for New York Sen. Charles Schumer, the Senate Democrats’ chief political strategist.

Unions have made ousting Walker a top priority and are poised to spend heavily in Wisconsin. But Democratic strategists and some senior political experts within the labor movement believe the initiative should have been launched before the November presidential election.

Labor officials are also looking at investing resources in Indiana, a red-leaning state, to battle controversial right-to-work legislation backed by Gov. Mitch Daniels (R).

But the Wisconsin fight will consume far more resources. This is a stomach-churning prospect for Democrats and their allies because the labor expenditures could come just months before the general election, when money will be needed for more important battlegrounds such as Ohio and Florida.

“Some were asking us whether we could wait until after the election, but we can’t. This is too big a deal,” said one labor official.

A decision by labor unions to spend millions on a state-level political battle means Democrats will have that much less outside money helping President Obama and congressional candidates this fall.

Some thoughts:

1)  Anyone bitching about the money Walker is raking in is a union hack, a liberal activist, or just a complete and utter dip-$#!+.

Everyone knows the union money is coming and Walker’s campaign would be run by a fool if he wasn’t raising money to prepare for it.  Simple as that.

2) Remember when there was talk DC didn’t want Wisconsin Democrats to go through the recall?  This was the reason why.

3) Heard this long before the recall even started from a GOP strategist, but the million recall signature number was not for Wisconsin consumption — it was for DC’s.  If Democrats in Madison can show the folks out in Washington there was a fight here money other than labor’s would be coming down the road.

It’s too early to know yet if the WisDems were successful on that end.


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