Arizona Eagletarian

Arizona Eagletarian
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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Mona Charen shows Chris Christie what sophistry really looks like UPDATED 8:15 pm MST 10-31-14

Apparently today's print edition of the Arizona Republic published a piece by syndicated columnist and right-wing/ALEC apologist Mona Charen claiming Democrats in America,
Democrats want everyone to vote: old, young, white, black, Hispanic, Asian, citizen, non-citizen. Wait, what was that last one again?
I don't find the column on but I did find it at Ms. Charen goes to great lengths to justify Voter ID laws ("passed in 30 states so far"). She cites
Voter ID laws, passed by 30 states so far, are efforts by legislatures to ensure the integrity of votes. Being asked to show a photo ID can diminish several kinds of fraud, including impersonation, duplicate registrations in different jurisdictions and voting by ineligible people including felons and non-citizens.
The Democrats have made a number of arguments against voter ID laws. They argue a) that the problem of voter impersonation or in-person voter fraud is nonexistent, b) that black and poor voters are more likely than others to lack a valid ID and c) that Republicans are attempting to "suppress" the votes of Democratic constituencies in a bid to revive Jim Crow.
To believe a), you must assume that Americans, who engage in widespread tax evasion (an estimated $2 trillion in income goes unreported), insurance fraud (an estimated $80 billion worth in 2006), identity theft (15 million victims annually) and thousands of other deceptions and crimes large and small, are perfect angels when they step into the voting booth. Vote fraud simply "doesn't exist," pronounced Attorney General Eric Holder. 
Charen's "logic," that to believe Republicans' efforts are aimed at suppressing voting rights of citizens, one MUST assume Americans -- who, she cites commit rampant tax evasion, insurance fraud and identity theft -- are perfect angels when they vote is simply bullshit.

The Republican motive for suppressing voting rights is neither rationally or logically connected to deceptive practices of Americans. BUT GOP deceptive practices ARE responsible for the persistent Republican claims their intent is to protect the "integrity of the vote."

For the sake of argument, let's say Charen is right about those deceptive practices.

She blames AMERICAN citizens' conduct for Republicans imposing restrictions that most definitely hinder the rights of actual law-abiding AMERICAN citizens, when her premise is that Democrats want NON-citizens to vote.

Do you need me to identify which fallacies she employs to make her case? Isn't it blatantly obvious on its face?

She further cites research that "three professors from Virginia universities answer in the affirmative."
Using an enormous database of voters nationwide (32,800 from 2008, and 55,400 in 2012), the authors find that about one-quarter of the non-citizens who participated in the survey were registered to vote.
Studying survey responses, the authors judge that non-citizen voters tend to favor Democratic candidates by large margins.
Shocking, right? Well, um, not quite.

By the way, Charen does not name the researchers or the universities. Nor does she quote ANY text or statistics from the study. I was able to locate reference to the study but in order to gain access to it, I would have to pay $19.95.

The key to understanding Ms. Charen's claims is in scientific concepts of peer review and replication. She doesn't cite any peer review as having (yet?) been done on this study.
Peer review is the evaluation of work by one or more people of similar competence to the producers of the work (peers). It constitutes a form of self-regulation by qualified members of a profession within the relevant field. Peer review methods are employed to maintain standards of quality, improve performance, and provide credibility.
Second, can the findings be replicated independently?
Replication is a fundamental tenet of science, and the hallmark of peer review is that other researchers can look at data and methodology and determine the work's validity.
That Ms. Charen takes an incredible leap across a chasm that is not spanned by logical reasoning and pronounces conclusions based on one study that has not been replicated is telling indeed. But not as telling as blaming the deceptiveness of American citizens for the GOP strategy to suppress the voting rights of American citizens.

The salient fact of this matter is that Mona Charen's column may be the best example of actual sophistry since Chris "shut down that bridge" Christie attached that label to Brahm Resnik's reporting.
soph•ist•ry (ˈsɒf ə stri) 
n., pl. -ries.1. a subtle, tricky, superficially plausible, but generally fallacious method of reasoning.2. a false argument; sophism.

The bottom line is that Charen did NOT make a valid argument for depriving actual American citizens the right to vote. And those are, without question, the real ramifications and in my opinion the real intent of Voter ID laws.
The most significant election problems will likely occur in Texas, where a voter-ID law struck down twice as discriminatory—most recently as an “unconstitutional poll tax”—is now in effect because the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act. Six hundred thousand registered voters in Texas don’t have a valid voter ID, but the state had issued only 279 new voter IDs of September. If you think voter-ID laws don’t disenfranchise people and aren’t discriminatory, read this Guardian story on Eric Kennie, one of the 600,000 Texans who won’t be able to vote.
Here's one of their own, Paul Weyrich, in 1980 spelling out the intent.

And from

UPDATE           UPDATE           UPDATE

H/t to Donna Gratehouse of Democratic Diva for this update.

Not only is the study referenced by Ms. Charen not peer reviewed, but the authors themselves discount the appropriateness of their study for making the conclusion Charen drew.
...they note their research has "obvious limitations" and that, despite their claim about Franken, "extrapolation to specific state-level or district-level election outcomes is fraught with substantial uncertainty."
Subsequent to when Charen's op-ed was first published, in the Washington Post,
Three days later, the blog featured a follow-up post headlined, "Methodological challenges affect study of noncitizens' voting," by University of California, Irvine assistant professor of political science Michael Tesler.
He notes that the study's findings are based on use of Cooperative Congressional Election Study data from opt-in internet survey data constructed by the polling firm YouGov to be nationally representative of the adult citizen population. Its use for being representative of the nation's noncitizen population, Tesler writes, "seems tenuous at best."
Tessler says a bigger problem is that some respondents might have simply checked the wrong box regarding their citizen status. The study's authors say that if most or all "noncitizens" actually did this, then the data "would have nothing to contribute concerning the frequency of noncitizen voting."

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