Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted)

It’s Impeachment Time!

This poll is not scientific, but it’s still quite interesting, especially when one realizes that, according to any poll results from the past 18 months, Bush’s approval rating are astonishingly low, particularly for a second-term war-time prez.

[Added 1945 in response to blog SiBling, James]

Since blog SiBling, James, is being cranky, I will also cite some information from the linked MSNBC explanation as to why this poll is not scientific.

First, the linked document points out that;

While a poll of 100 people will be more accurate than a poll of 10, studies have shown that accuracy begins to improve less [sic] at about 500 people and increases only a minor amount beyond 1,000 people.

You will notice that more than 281,322 people have responded to this poll as of the time that I added these comments. That alone, means it is hardly scientific.

Additionally, even though no one can vote more than once, even when they have multiple ISPs from which to access the internet (yes, I tested this myself), we still do not know who is voting. Further, according to the linked document, polls such as this one are targeted to adult Americans, so a flock of kids or non-Americans (you know, people such as Lebanese or Palestinians) could significantly skew the results. Besides, these polls are targeted towards people who choose to respond, so that automatically selects for respondents who are most passionate about the topic, removing the “average American” who (probably?) doesn’t care enough to vote. Of course, let us not forget that not all Americans have internet access, so that also removes a significant portion of people from polling results. Finally, the linked document points out that;

MSNBC’s Live Votes are not intended to be a scientific sample of national opinion. Instead, they are part of the same interactive dialogue that takes place in our online chat sessions: a way to share your views on the news with MSNBC writers and editors and with your fellow users. Let us know what you think.

And that was precisely my purpose for linking to this poll here; I wanted to get my readers to react by discussing their thoughts regarding this question.

So, in the spirit of equal opinionation, I will share my thoughts regarding this question, although I’d rather read what you have to say on this issue. Probably not surprising to most of you, I think that Bush should be impeached because he and members of his administration have shown little, if any, respect for international law and organizations, for the American constitution and this country’s laws, for basic human rights, nor does he appreciate the requirements for maintaining international peace and security nor does he have any respect for Americans or for our elected officials. Lest you think I am a crazy person, let me mention that even some Republicans wish for him to be impeached.



  1. #1 Dendroica
    July 29, 2006

    I would not put much stock in an online poll, but I do get the sense that the media lags well behind the general public when it comes to assessments of Bush’s popularity, and the popularity of his war. I don’t think the country is really ‘divided’ about this issue.

  2. #2 James Hrynyshyn
    July 29, 2006

    I am a bit surprised to see such a poll mentioned here without at least some mention of why the results are wildly inaccurate. It is anything but scientific. The respondents are anything but random. There’s very little of value in these things. Conventional “scientific” polls are problematic enough; we don’t need to introduce even more biased information in our brains.

  3. #3 GrrlScientist
    July 29, 2006

    i included a link to a lengthy explanation by MSNBC about why this poll was not scientific, isn’t that good enough?

  4. #4 Alon Levy
    July 29, 2006

    Schadenfreude aside, I’m not sure it’s a good idea for Cheney to become President, seeing as how he presided over most if not all of these illegal activities.

  5. #5 Walter
    July 29, 2006

    These polls are pretty pointless, no matter the topic. All this shows is that a lot of liberal and/or Democratic bloggers are linking to it and their readers are taking it for kicks. And as far as the media lagging behind the general public in assesments of Bush’s popularity… huh? That’s all some news organizations (i.e. cable networks) seem to do these days, poll, poll, poll. Public opinion is a harder thing to guage than some people realize, and no offense Dendroica, but I heard similar arguments coming from the left right before the 2004 election. I guess elections are the only polls that count — and before you say anything, I’m surprised as anyone to suddenly sound like I’m backing Bush.

  6. #6 GrrlScientist
    July 29, 2006

    impeachment does not result in removal of the chimp from office; it is a vote of “no confidence”.

  7. #7 wolfwalker
    July 29, 2006

    [[ impeachment does not result in removal of the chimp from office; ]]

    Um, actually, that’s exactly what it does do. United States Constitution, Article II, Section 4. “The President, Vice President and all civil officers of the United States, shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.”

    I won’t bother arguing whether or not Bush should be impeached. I’ll say only that while I disagree with him on the vast majority of his policies, I have seen no evidence that anything he’s done was actually illegal. Deceptive, certainly — but then, you can’t do the job of the presidency without being deceptive. Unethical, probably. Immoral, probably. Carefully arranged to dance along the very edge of legality, no doubt. Often foolish and shortsighted, fordamnsure. Politically unpopular — no question of that! But illegal? I don’t think so.

  8. #8 GrrlScientist
    July 29, 2006

    okay, then why was clinton allowed to remain in office after being impeached? i originally thought that impeachment meant “removal from office” too, and then learned differently during that event.

    basically, impeachment is the first of two steps required to remove a publically-elected official from office. simply being impeached does not remove an elected official from office.

  9. #9 Joseph j7uy5
    July 30, 2006

    Impeachment is the process of putting the President on trial before Congress. The President is removed from office only if convicted.

    See Wikipedia: Impeachment.

    It is a very hot issue, and it would be difficult to do a poll that everyone would regard as free of bias. Nonetheless, polls have been done. The results can be found here.

  10. #10 quitter
    July 30, 2006

    I think the expression to describe this is that the poll has been “freeped.”

    The expression freeped or freeper comes from the free republic and their mobbing of online polls by calls to readers to purposefully skew the results to favor the outcome they desired. After doing this a few times the lefty blogs figured it out as well, and clearly are doing the same thing, however, I believe it is still called freeping the poll.

  11. #11 ebohlman
    July 30, 2006

    Impeachment corresponds to the criminal-law concept of indictment. Thus, Clinton was “charged.” In both the impeachment process and criminal law, one can be “convicted.” Clinton wasn’t (neither was Andrew Johnson, who was also impeached; Nixon resigned before impeachment could take place).

  12. #12 Hans
    July 30, 2006

    1. Clinton wasn’t impeached, I’m a bit shocked that there is any confusion about this.

    2. I truly believe that the true average american opinion is close to that figure. The problem is just that the average Joe is too intimidated by the aggressive supporters of Bush (minorities none-the-less) to speak up about it.

  13. #13 wolfwalker
    July 30, 2006

    [[basically, impeachment is the first of two steps required to remove a publically-elected official from office. simply being impeached does not remove an elected official from office. ]]

    Right. I think you’re confused because of the poll wording: the question “should Bush be impeached?” clearly uses “impeached” as shorthand for “impeached, convicted, and removed from office.” This sort of thing is one of several reasons why I distrust all polls. I’ve seen even the best formal, “scientific” polls, run by the biggest names in polling, word questions in ways that are open to interpretation, so that the poller never knows exactly what question the poll-ee thinks he’s answered.

    Hans, Clinton was most definitely impeached by the House (the first step). He was then tried by the Senate but not convicted.

  14. #14 GrrlScientist
    July 30, 2006


    end of story.

  15. #15 McVeigh was a Patriot
    July 30, 2006

    What I don’t like about these polls is that they don’t give enough options.

    “Yes, he should be impeached because that would prevent the niggers and Jews in Congress from stealing more of my money, property and liberty.”

    “Yes, he should be impeached, but only after the nigger and Jew Democrats and statist Republicans in Congress are lynched for their countless crimes against the Constitution and American liberty.”

    “No, I would prefer a Boeing 767 slam into a join-session of Congress during the President’s State of the Union speech.”

  16. #16 ed
    July 30, 2006

    I think the purpose of the poll is to see if it would be possible to get rid of this burden upon the American people in particular and the world in general. Are there enough people in agreement to do that or is it even possible? Who actually decides to impeach a president? I’m not a political person and know very little about this sort of process. But, I do know this regime is ruining our country. And to think I even voted for the man the first time. I can’t say I’m sorry, enough.

  17. #17 Mike the Mad Biologist
    July 30, 2006

    Clinton was charged, but the impeachment did not pass the Senate. Clinton, however, was censured (which carries no legal penalties).

  18. #18 Alon Levy
    July 30, 2006

    What I don’t like about these polls is that they don’t give enough options.

    You’re right. Personally, I think Bush should be impeached because he’s so delusional he thinks the Holocaust really happened.

  19. #19 quitter
    July 30, 2006

    Where do you people on scienceblogs get your trolls?
    They’re unbelievable. You have a legitimate anti-American terrorist commenting. I can’t even believe it.

    I’ve had libertarian trolls and conservative trolls. But you guys on scienceblogs get germ-theory deniers, HIV-deniers, holocaust-deniers, and now a pro-McVeigh terrorist? Where do you find these people?

    You read that and you think, screw banning, call the FBI.

  20. #20 Marc Country
    July 30, 2006

    From the White House web page:

    “In 1998, as a result of issues surrounding personal indiscretions with a young woman White House intern, Clinton was the second U.S. president to be impeached by the House of Representatives. He was tried in the Senate and found not guilty of the charges brought against him. He apologized to the nation for his actions and continued to have unprecedented popular approval ratings for his job as president.”

    As a Canadian, I can verify that I have participated in the poll… I didn’t notice anything on the poll suggesting it was a question only US citizens were qualified to answer.

  21. #21 David
    July 30, 2006

    have you ever noticed that..

    – “this survey is whack because liberals are passing it around to their buddies! it can’t be accurate!” ..and what stops conservatives from voting or passing it around?

    – “this survey is wildly inaccurate!” ..and there are thousands of other surveys that are deemed scientifically accurate and reflect similar values?

    – that the “facts” in a lot of comments are anything but fact?

    – that iraq is a “shining example” of democracy.. hey, it’s a fact, right?

    – that the world loves us! ..winning the hearts and minds, isn’t that why britain, the US, and israel are the only countries NOT supporting an immediate cease fire?

    why is it that people fire from the hip with utter abandon, almost completely unaware of what is really going on?

    personally i think that bush and his administration should be tried for war crimes, and crimes against humanity. congress should be routed out and replaced with politicials that have at least 0.5% genuine interest in the welfare of it’s country and people.

  22. #22 Q. Pheevr
    July 30, 2006

    It is actually quite possible to vote twice (or more) on the poll, even from the same IP address. The poll uses cookies to keep track of whether you’ve voted, so to vote again, all you need to do is delete the cookie, or open up a different browser.

    So, yes, the poll really is useful only for provoking discussion, and its results should be taken with an ocean of salt. (On the other hand, seeing that 87%, unreliable though it is, warms the cockles of my heart.)

  23. #23 Alon Levy
    July 30, 2006

    I’ve had libertarian trolls and conservative trolls. But you guys on scienceblogs get germ-theory deniers, HIV-deniers, holocaust-deniers, and now a pro-McVeigh terrorist? Where do you find these people?

    Well, it has to do with the fact that Scienceblogs has high-profile blogs dealing with Holocaust denial and alternative medicine. If you think that’s bad, I know a blog that after bashing the Islamist reaction to the Jyllands-Posten cartoons got several Islamist trolls. One of them even agreed with me completely seriously when I wound him up with an International Jewish Conspiracy joke.

  24. #24 nikolai
    July 31, 2006

    Clinton was impeached for a blow job, but as yet, Bush has not been for far worse. What does that tell you? The Republicans were able to at least impeach Clinton if not convict him, but the Democrats are either so powerless, or afraid, or both, that they will not even begin discussing the impeachment of Bush, at least not in Washington. “They [Republicans] have the power and they know how to use it.” The man I’m quoting? Bill Clinton. Does this post sound like it’s coming from a Republican? Well, it’s not. I’m an Independent and a former Democrat who voted twice for Clinton. All I’m doing here is pointing out the awful truth, painful tho it may be…

  25. #25 wolfwalker
    July 31, 2006

    “Clinton was impeached for a blow job, but as yet, Bush has not been for far worse. What does that tell you?”

    Would someone please tell me what Bush has done that was actually illegal?

    Richard Nixon clearly and undoubtedly used his power to cover up crimes by his minions. Andrew Johnson clearly and undoubtedly fired a cabinet secretary when the law said he couldn’t. Bill Clinton clearly and undoubtedly committed perjury. Ronald Reagan clearly and undoubtedly kept funding and supporting the Nicaraguan Contras after Congress said he couldn’t. George W. Bush clearly and undoubtedly … did what? Every claim I’ve seen that Bush has committed impeachable offenses has boiled down to either political disagreements or bad information by the claimer. IOW, either the claimer is trying to criminalize policy choices, or the claim is not supported by the facts. Can’t anyone point to an example of his words and/or actions, and then to the law, rule, or regulation that he clearly and undoubtedly broke? Just one example? Please? Come on, show me the data. Be scientists, not senseless partisans.

    (afterthought: please do not try to cite any version of “he exposed a CIA agent,” or “he lied about the Iraq war.” In both cases there’s plenty of reason to doubt that any law was broken. Also, please keep in mind that simple lying in public statements is not in itself an impeachable offense, although perhaps it should be.)

    (afterthought #2: in fact there are cases that will meet my criteria, but they aren’t any of the obvious ones. I’m curious to see if anyone reading this blog will be able to think of any of them.)

  26. #26 novabeatnik
    July 31, 2006

    While it seems obvious to anyone with any sense that the president should be inpeached he seems to have a brilliant strategy regarding the possibiliy. He had to know that we would never impeach being that we would then be stuck with Dick and even if we got rid of him as well it gets even worse as you travel down the list. We would have to get rid of pretty much the entire executive branch.

  27. #27 Q. Pheevr
    July 31, 2006

    “George W. Bush clearly and undoubtedly … ”

    …either ordered or at the very least knowingly failed to prevent military assaults on the Nazzal Emergency Hospital and the Fallujah General Hospital, in violation of the Geneva Conventions and therefore also of the War Crimes Act of 1996.

  28. #28 Webs
    July 31, 2006

    Here’s an example of an impeachable offense by Bush for ya:

    The secret database was built without court warrants or the approval of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. If Bush had “gone to Congress and said, ‘We want to do this without probable cause, without warrants and without judicial review’ it never would have been approved,'” stated Harold Koh, Dean of Yale Law School and the author of the National Security Constitution.

    This is from USA Today’s article intitled, Bush’s Spying Operation Against Americans Exposed as Massive, date: May 14, 2006. Some think that Bush has the authority to do this in a time of war, but this is not true.

    I know you didn’t want this as an example but:

    Lewis Libby, the indicted chief aide to Dick Cheney, has admitted under oath before a Federal Grand Jury that it was George W. Bush himself who authorized Libby to illegally “leak” classified information to New York Times reporter Judith Miller in July, 2003 in an effort to discredit Ambassador Joseph Wilson who had publicly stated that “there is nothing to the story” that Saddam Hussein’s government was trying to buy uranium for a nuclear weapons program.

  29. #29 idlemind
    July 31, 2006


    Seem that some Democrats on the Judiciary Committee are actually working on a list of the Bush Administration’s law violations — a couple dozen or so at last count.

  30. #30 wolfwalker
    July 31, 2006

    Webs, I don’t like the NSA phone-calls database myself, but I have to repeat (yet again) the same question: what laws were actually broken? From what I’ve heard, the President exploited a weakness in existing law to achieve a goal he thought was necessary. The NSA’s database did not and does not contain any actual recordings of telephone calls, like a wiretap does. It only contains records of where calls came from and where they went to. Go look at your last cellphone bill, all the entries for numbers called, when, how long each call lasted. That’s all the NSA got.

    As I said: unethical, immoral, dancing on the very edge of legality — but not quite going over it. I think it should be illegal to get such data without a warrant or at least a subpoena — but that’s not what the law says at this moment.

    idlemind, the Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee are among the most insanely partisan Bush-haters around. I’m afraid I can’t consider them a valid source. Why not? Easy. Just ask yourself: if Republican representatives were claiming they had such a “laundry list” of impeachment charges against a Democrat president, would you pay any attention? The law should apply equally to all. If you wouldn’t call it a crime for a Dem, then don’t try to tell me it’s a crime for a Repub.

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