Saturday, May 18, 2013

Noonan vs Silver...its a rout!

If there was a picture in the dictionary next to the term "pearl-clutching," it would have to be one of Peggy Noonan. She has perfected the art of "oh my, isn't it awful." But the veneer is only skin deep. Underneath she wields a brutality of lies and innuendoes based on the most extreme partisanship.

All of this was on display yesterday in her column titled This is No Ordinary Scandal. She comes out swinging with this opening statement:
We are in the midst of the worst Washington scandal since Watergate.
Yeah, right. I thought the Republicans were going to work on that "overreach" thing. Guess not.

Of course she engages about the scandal trifecta the Republicans are insistent on exploiting...Benghazi, AP/DOJ and IRS. But its the latter that she really wants to focus on. And she gets pretty creative in ginning things up.
The IRS scandal has two parts. The first is the obviously deliberate and targeted abuse, harassment and attempted suppression of conservative groups. The second is the auditing of the taxes of political activists. haven't heard about that second one? Peggy has examples for you. Four of them. Yes, four conservatives who have come forward to say that they had their taxes audited. And she claims that many more will come forward to say the same thing.

Riding in on his white horse to save the day is the man who so vexed the Republicans during the 2012 campaign by not scewing the polls towards a Romney win...Nate Silver.
The I.R.S. publishes data each year on the number of taxpayers it audits. In 2012, it conducted just shy of 1.5 million audits out of 144 million individual income tax returns...

The point is, however, that even with no political targeting at all, hundreds of thousands of conservative voters would have been chosen for audits in the I.R.S.’s normal course of business. Among these hundreds of thousands of voters, thousands would undoubtedly have gone beyond merely voting to become political activists.

The fact that Ms. Noonan has identified four conservatives from that group of thousands provides no evidence at all toward her hypothesis. Nor would it tell us very much if dozens or even hundreds of conservative activists disclosed that they had been audited. This is exactly what you would expect in a country where there are 1.5 million audits every year.

It's a joy to belong to the side of this argument that has things like science, math and facts on our side ;-)

And while being ever-so-cordial in this Noonan take-down, Silver provides just a bit of "stick a fork in this one" at the end.
Ms. Noonan, and many other commentators, made a similar mistake last year in their analysis of the presidential election, when they cited evidence like the number of Mitt Romney yard signs in certain neighborhoods as an indication that he was likely to win, while dismissing polls that collectively surveyed hundreds of thousands of voters in swing states and largely showed Mr. Obama ahead.
Take a bow, Mr. Silver.


  1. It would be great if, even though it is time, so to speak, to stick a fork in it, that this were really done. I can't see that it is, because the GOP is playing one of the few cards they actually have. They are in a position where they have a base that's shrinking in proportion to the general population, but which they yet have to fight for. It's a terrible position. This kind of scandalmongering on thin grounds is not generally appealing to the general electorate in the long run, but there are people who still believe that the Clintons had Vince Foster murdered. Probably some think that Hillary did it herself. They're the audience for this, and they genuinely do eat it up.

    I look at all this and what it means politically is that a lot of the policy that gets headlines is less likely to pass. Obama will still get a lot done, but it will be in all that under-the-radar stuff that doesn't make the papers.

  2. Yes statistically lots of Obama supporters got audited too. But the point is that there was political targeting. And if that was their motive, why wouldn't you expect individual activists to be targets just like conservative groups were as well?

  3. I like how you find fault in one portion of Ms. Noonan's statement but ignore the fact that the rest of the facts are damning against the Obama Administration. That right, I said facts. They are proven. It is proven that Obama knew of the IRS situation in approximately September of 2012. It is also fact that Obama put an end to the IRS practice of discriminating against these conservative political groups once he knew of it, which is commendable. It is also fact that he made sure that this story didn't see the light of day until well after the election. Not that Mitt could've won anyway. But I do find it hilarious that time after time, the Obama Administration has admitted that they do not have knowledge of anything that is going on with the Obama Administration (i.e. Fast & Furious, Benghazi, IRS, AP phone records, etc...). But, I doubt that you, Ms. Smartypants, will post this on your blog but that's just due to the fact that most lib's can't refute facts.
    Neal - Kansas City