Author: brewbooks

Ten Years of Walking

Ten Years of Walking

“Chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken.”

Warren Buffett

I’ve got a habit. I walk, hike and run a fair amount every day. Perhaps my favorite activity is to hike – at some speed between a trot and a gallop. I also love numbers and have used a pedometer to keep track of my miles walked each day for the last ten years: 2012 to 2021. I made spreadsheets each year and have looked at the data trends over each week and each month of a year. This is an update from my previous post Quantifying Hiking and Running Part 1 with eight years of data.

Thus, I have now accumulated ten years of walking data:

Table 1: Yearly Mileage
Year Miles Age
2021 3001 63
2020 4347 62
2019 3174 61
2018 3387 60
2017 3286 59
2016 2754 58
2015 3117 57
2014 3008 56
2013 2634 55
2012 2470 54

Table 1 shows the sum of my walking (in miles) for each month of the last ten years:

YearJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear Total
Table 1: Miles walked per month, 2012 to 2021

I also like to see the cumulative amount I have walked each month over the course of a year. Table 2 summarizes my walking progress each month over the course of a year:

Table 2: Cumulative Miles Walked per Month, 2012 to 2021

The total over ten years is 31,182 miles or 50,186 km. That’s an average of 260 miles or 418 km a month.

A few things worth pointing out:

First, I had my biggest walking year in 2020 – during the COVID pandemic I walked 4347 miles (6996 km). The reason for this high mileage was I entered the Great Virtual Race Across Tennessee 1000K race. In this four month long virtual race, I covered 1907 miles ( 3069 km) from May through August. Another way I covered miles in 2020 was by walking and running every street in my town. One reason I covered many miles was to see what it would be like to hike the Appalachian Trail – a goal of mine that I thought I might do in 2020 or 2021.

Next, for six years I covered was in the 3000 mile (3001-3387 mi; 4829-5451 km) range. I first broke 3000 miles in 2014 and again in 2015. I was able to cover more than 3000 miles again from 2017 to the present. I started trail running in 2017. I was able to complete the Badger Mountain 50 mile race; it was slow and steady. Another 2017 challenge was finishing the Issy Alps 50k, that was far tougher than the Badger Mountain race for me.

In 2018, I tried twice to run 100 mile races: Badger Mountain 100 (69 miles) and Bryce Canyon 100 (81 miles). While I didn’t complete them, I learned much. I still think I may do a 100 mile distance,, however, my current thought would be to walk rather than run. From 2017 to the present, I have had some great hiking, fastpacking and backpacking adventures with my friends.

My favorite year was 2015. I achieved no major milestones in running, backpacking or hiking. What I did accomplish was to recover from surgery on my esophagus to treat achalasia, a rare disease that I have. Achalasia has been a challenge for me. There is no cure or much known about the disease. Thanks to the work of my medical team, lead by thoracic surgeon Dr. Brian Louie, I was able to return to a vigorous life. My view going forward after my January, 2015 surgery has been “carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero” (“Seize the day, put very little trust in the future.”) As an achalasia patient, I am grateful to be able to explore the world by covering as many miles as I can.

I had some low mile years. Why? For 2012 and 2013, the answer was full-time work got in the way of walking. I was able to retire from full-time work in September, 2013. I did some part-time work in 2014 and 2015 as well as attending college to learn biology, From 2016 to the present, I have been active in volunteer work at some non-profits but have much more time to spend outdoors.

My worst year was 2016. It wasn’t the lowest mile year but it was the most annoying. I kept injuring my right knee, then my right hip, then my left knee, then my right knee. I think there were two things that caused these problems. I was running a lot on hard surfaces ( I was training to run the Philadelphia Marathon with my brother). More important, the muscles of my right knee were much weaker than my left knee – which I figured out with the help of my doctor in December, 2016. So, after 2016 I minimized running on hard surfaces, started strength training and switched from cushioned shoes to zero drop trail running shoes. The important lesson for me: Avoid injuries if you want to cover miles.

Figure 1: Cumulative monthly miles for selected years 2012, and 2018 to 2021

Figure 1 illustrates how I’ve done over the last ten years. The bottom set of points are from 2012; my lowest mileage year. The top set of points are for 2020; my highest mileage year. There are three sets of data in a range in between the lowest and highest. These are years 2018, 2019, and 2020.

I want to write in the future about my daily tracking methods – many times the fact that I was behind my goal got me motivated to do more miles. What I do every single day is how I cover many miles in a year. Another useful topic is how walking has affected my health; in general it’s been very positive but I ought to write my lessons learned.

Let me close by thanking all my friends and family who have put in miles with me. I always enjoy the company; hopefully you do as well. Of course, sometimes I have an excessive number of words per mile! Well, I have to dash off now; got a few miles to cover today.

McConnell reply to Biden voting rights speech

On 11 January 2022, President Biden gave a speech titled: “Remarks by President Biden on Protecting the Right to Vote“.  I listened to the President’s speech and found it to be extremely divisive. I also read the speech transcript, provided by the White House.

The next day. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell  replied to the voting rights speech in the Senate. I listened to his speech on CSPAN2. There was also no edited transcript of the speech available so I made one. I did my best to reflect what Senator McConnell said. Any errors are due to me. I added a few links that explain a few references Senator McConnel used. Here’s my transcript of the McConnell  speech:


Twelve months ago, newly inaugurated President Biden stood on the steps of the Capitol and here’s what he had to say:

“…. my whole soul is in this:

Bringing America together.

Uniting our people.

And uniting our nation.”

Yesterday, that very same man delivered a deliberately divisive speech that was designed to pull our country further apart.

 Twelve months ago, this President said we should not see each other as adversaries but as neighbors. Yesterday, he called millions of Americans his domestic enemies.  

Twelve months ago, this President called on Americans to join forces, stop the shouting, lower the temperature, but yesterday he shouted that if you disagree with him, you’re George Wallace. George Wallace. If  you don’t pass the laws he wants, you’re Bull Connor  and if you oppose giving Democrats untrammeled one-party control of the country, well, you’re Jefferson Davis

Twelve months ago this President said disagreement must not lead to disunion. Ah, but yesterday he invoked the bloody disunion of the Civil War, the Civil War,  to demonize Americans who disagree with him. He compared — listen to this — a bipartisan majority of senators to literal traitors. How profoundly, profoundly unpresidential. 

Look, I’ve known, liked, and personally respected Joe Biden for many years. I did not recognize the man at the podium yesterday. 

American voters did not give President Biden a mandate for very much. He got a tied Senate, negative coattails in the House, the narrowest majorities in over a century. The president did not get a mandate to transform America or reshape society. But he did arguably get a mandate to do just one central thing that he campaigned on. Here’s what that was: bridge a divided country, lower the temperature, dial down the perpetual air of crisis in our politics. That is the one central promise that Joe Biden made. It is the one job citizens actually hired him to do. It is the one project that would have actually been consistent, consistent with the Congress the voters elected. 

Ah, but President Biden has chosen to fail his own test. The President’s rant, rant yesterday was incoherent, incorrect, and beneath his office. He used the phrase Jim Crow 2.0 to demagogue a law that makes the franchise more accessible than in his own state of Delaware. He blasted Georgia’s procedures regarding local elections officials while pushing national legislation with almost identical language on that issue. 

The president implied things like wildly popular voting ID  laws to be listen to this: “ totalitarian.” Totalitarian?. Ironically on the same day Washington, D.C.’s Democratic mayor told citizens to bring both a photo ID and a vaccine card any time they leave the house.

 The President repeatedly invoked the January 6th riot while himself using irresponsible delegitimizing rhetoric that undermines our democracy. The sitting President of the United States compared American states to totalitarian states. 

He said our country will be an autocracy if he does not get his way; if he does not get his way. So the world saw our commander in chief propagandize against his own country to a degree that would have made Pravda blush. There was no consistent standard behind anything the president said. He trampled through some of the most sensitive and sacred parts of our nation’s past. He invoked times when activists bled and when soldiers died, all to demagogue voting laws that are more expansive than what Democrats have on the books in his own home state. 

Georgia has more days of early voting than Delaware or New York. Georgia has no-excuse absentee voting which Delaware and New York do not have. If Georgia or Texas present Jim Crow emergencies, then so do a whole lot of democratic-run states. The senate Democratic leader has gone on cable TV saying Georgia is greatly restricting or eliminating early voting. That’s a lie; provably false. Georgia has more early voting than New York. 

The Democratic leader has tried to fearmonger about one rural Georgia county that condensed multiple voting locations into one, one rural Georgia county. Well, the county is overwhelmingly Red. They were clearly not involved in trying to suppress Democratic votes; 70% Republican in that one county in 2020. 

So take a step back for a minute. President Biden’s story is that democracy is on death’s door. but he spent nine months chasing a reckless taxing and spending spree before addressing it. Must not be that much of an emergency. 

Citizens are meant to believe a return of Jim Crow is on the table. but this is only President Biden’s sixth priority after he was blocked from spending $5 trillion on windmills and welfare. Democrats’ own behavior refutes their false hysteria. 

Twelve months ago the president said that politics need not be a raging fire destroying everything in its path. That was just twelve months ago. But yesterday he poured a giant can of gasoline on the fire. 

Twelve months ago the president said every disagreement doesn’t have to be a cause for total war, but yesterday he said anyone who opposes smashing the Senate, smashing the Senate and letting Democrats rewrite election law is a domestic enemy and  listen to this: a traitor like Jefferson Davis. 

One week ago President Biden gave a January 6th lecture about not stoking political violence. 

One week ago. Yesterday,  with the world’s largest mega phone, he invoked the literal Civil War and said we’re on the doorstep of autocracy. Talk about domestic enemies. Rhetoric unbecoming of a President of the United States. In less than a year, restoring the soul of America has become this: “Agree with me or you’re a bigot. agree with me or you’re a bigot.” From lowering the temperature to invoking totalitarian states and the Civil War. 

So this inflammatory rhetoric was not an attempt to persuade skeptical Democrat or Republican senators. This whole display, this whole display.

In fact you could not invent a better advertisement for the legislative filibuster than a President abandoning rational persuasion for pure demagoguery. You could not invent a better advertisement for the legislative filibuster than what we have just seen, a president abandoning rational persuasion for pure, pure demagoguery. A President shouting that 52 senators and millions of Americans are racist unless he gets whatever he wants is proving exactly why the framers built the Senate to check his power. 

This whole display is the best possible argument for preserving, preserving the Senate rules that extend deliberation, force bipartisan compromise, and let cooler heads prevail. Nothing proves it better than this episode. It offers a perfect case study in why Senator Biden was right about the filibuster and President Biden is wrong. 

One respected scholar explained it this way: “The smallest majority we’ve ever seen in our politics is trying to change the rules for how people get elected in every single state.” That’s just about the best argument for the filibuster you could possibly imagine. 

So, Mister President, the citizens of the greatest country in the world deserve for their elected officials to treat them like grownups. Adults of America deserve to hear from the adults in Washington, D.C. 

So I’ll close with some basic truths. Obviously our country is more divided than it should be. No doubt. In recent years I have vocally criticized people across the political spectrum who have sought to legitimize elections when they win and delegitimize democracy when they’re polling badly or when they lose. I criticized the top Democrats’ hysteria after 2016 when their rhetoric had 66% of democrats across America falsely convinced  that Russia had hacked our voting machines and changed the tallies. 66% of Democrats thought that after 2016. 

I criticized Speaker Pelosi and House Democrats who spent the runup to 2020 hyping conspiracy theories and suggesting that the election would presumptively be illegitimate if their side lost. 

In December 2020 and January of last year, our side of the aisle defended the constitutional process despite political pressure and we had, of course, a literal mob. But now it is President Biden and Leader Schumer and other Washington Democrats who don’t like their poll numbers. So they are reversing their tune yet again. 

The people who spent November 2020 through January 2021 preaching sermons about the strength and sanctity of our democracy are undertaking to delegitimize the next election in case they lose it. We have a sitting president, a sitting president invoking the Civil War, shouting about totalitarianism and labeling millions of Americans his domestic enemies. We have a Senate Democratic leader who now frequently calls American elections, quote, “a rigged game.”

Look, this will not be repaired with more lies, more outrage, and more rule breaking. Unfortunately, President Biden has rejected the better angels of our nature. So it is the Senate’s responsibility to protect the country. This institution was constructed as a firewall against exactly, exactly the kind of rage and false hysteria we saw on full display yesterday. It falls to the senate to put America on a better track. It falls to us. 

So this institution cannot give in to dishonorable tactics. We cannot surrender recklessness. We have to stand up, stand strong, protect the Senate, and defend the country.

Addendum to  Reaction to John Broderick’s “Make no mistake. America is broken.”

This section provides supporting analysis for my reaction to John Broderick’s “Make no mistake. America is broken.”  The first two paragraphs are covered in detail. I will likely parse this further into at least one more Appendix.

First paragraph

The first paragraph begins by stereotyping an undefined segment of the US population. Broderick states:

“The entire idea behind democratic rule is subverted every day by a minority of our population ,…”[1]

Who are this minority of our [US] population? While not explicitly stated, I believe that Broderick implies that citizens who voted for President Trump and Republican candidates in 2020 constitute “a minority of our population who distrust any government they don’t control.  The reality is that President Biden won the 2020 election but it was a close race :

 “Trump won 74,222,958 votes, or 46.8 percent of the votes cast. That’s more votes than any other presidential candidate has ever won, with the exception of Biden ….
When you look at the smallest popular vote shift needed to give Trump a victory, the 2020 election was close. Indeed, it was even closer than 2016. If Trump picked up the right mix of 42,921 votes in Arizona (10,457), Georgia (11,779), and Wisconsin (20,682), the Electoral College would have been tied at 269 all. The House would have then decided the election. Republicans will hold the majority of state delegations in the new Congress, and they undoubtedly would have chosen Trump.[3] 

Now, I struggle to understand how: “The entire idea behind democratic rule is subverted every day…” We are a union of people, we elect our representatives and President, however we aren’t a pure democracy ruled by the majority. We are a representative government.  Because a majority of one political party is in power for a period of time doesn’t imply that the actions of the minority constitute daily subversion. After all: “The United States, under its Constitution, is a federal, representative, democratic republic, an indivisible union of 50 sovereign States.” [3]

The fact that a minority group of citizens may disagree with a majority is true. As Broderick states: “by a minority of our population distrust any government they don’t control,…”  This has been true for most of the history of our Republic. In current terms: most Democrats don’t trust Republicans; most Republicans don’t trust Democrats. This distrust is a type of tautology in American politics. The first instance in American politics that I know was in the election of 1800 when Democratic- Republicans supporting Jefferson distrusted the Federalist under John Adams.

Broderick implies that this segment of our society lacks understanding of science. I vehemently disagree with the description of 74 million Americans who:  “ignore science they don’t understand yet don’t like while callously putting others at risk…” [1]  Broderick implies but leaves unstated that the science being ignored regards our current COVID pandemic. 

  “ignore science they don’t understand yet don’t like while callously putting others at risk…” [1]

A segment of our society questions COVID medical proclamations by experts that are to be accepted by all in the name of science. Dissenting opinions aren’t welcomed, in fact, they seem to be removed from most social media. What we need are scientific results that an average citizen can understand; that would reduce the doubt, uncertainty and fear. Here is how  one of my most respected teachers, Nobel laureate physicist Richard Feynman, described science: 

” …. As a matter of fact, I can also define science another way: Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts.​

​When someone says, “Science teaches such and such,” he is using the word incorrectly. Science doesn’t teach anything; experience teaches it. If they say to you, “Science has shown such and such,” you might ask, “How does science show it? How did the scientists find out? How? What? Where?”​

​It should not be “science has shown” but “this experiment, this effect, has shown.” And you have as much right as anyone else, upon hearing about the experiments–but be patient and listen to all the evidence–to judge whether a sensible conclusion has been arrived at. ….

I think we live in an unscientific age in which almost all the buffeting of communications and television–words, books, and so on–are unscientific. As a result, there is a considerable amount of intellectual tyranny in the name of science.”[5]

​ From what I can see, the science behind the vaccine mandates is questionable. What I don’t understand is how the risks outweigh the benefits for someone who is 20 years old? How about a child who is age 5?  To echo Richard Feynman: “Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts.​” I believe our citizens have a right to hear the latest evidence and judge whether a sensible conclusion has been arrived at. 

Does someone who is unvaccinated put others callously at risk? The important premise here is that vaccination reduces the rate of transmission. What is the evidence that substantiates that the rate of transmission is reduced in vaccinated people in December, 2021?   I do see evidence that vaccination reduces the severity of COVID in older people with comorbidities. Thus,  vaccination likely reduces the impact from COVID on the health care system and is prudent. Of course, not smoking tobacco (or marijuana) would also reduce  the impact from  lung cancer on the health care system and is prudent. Yet, smoking cessation is not mandated in the US.

“disparage and restrict voters of a color different than their own…” [1]

From what I see, there is some evidence that supports:  “disparage and restrict voters of a color different than their own…” [1]

Unsaid is that white Republicans are the disparagers and restrictors. The issues regarding restriction of voters are complex and I should spend time understanding them better. As to the claim of disparagement – our society might strive to be courteous to all. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 enabled many of our citizens to gain the vote. A number of other acts have strengthened voting rights.States are responsible for the administration of elections.

“The administration of elections, including regulation of political parties, ballot access, and registration procedures, establishment of polling places, provision of election-day workers, counting and certification of the vote, and all costs associated with these activities, are the responsibility of the States. In performing these functions, the States are subject to the requirements of the Constitution and Federal law…” [3]

 A state may pass a law that violates the requirements of the Constitution and/or Federal law. If this happens, then the judicial system can be used to overturn such a law. This can be a slow, painful process. Some cases may have to go to the Supreme Court. 

“… and despise immigrants striving to be free.” [1]

Many Americans want immigation laws and processes enforced. What is the purpose of a law that isn’t enforced? 

I do not see evidence that large numbers of Americans despise immigrants. My mom’s parents came to the US from Ireland with nothing. In modern terms, they were chain immigrants. When I was young, I learned the words of Emma Lazarus on the Statue of Liberty: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, …”   I believe those words still represent an American ideal; I bet most other Americans do as well.

Let me next cover the middle passage of the first paragraph:

“Their view of our Constitution is most often fanciful, contradictory and uninformed and their idea of freedom is twisted and self-absorbed.”[1]

 First, I bet most Americans haven’t read the Constitution in many years. It’s worth studying for all of us. There are many views that can be taken regarding the Constitution; each of our Supreme Court justices has a view – they don’t all agree. In this passage, I think Broderick is using an Ad Hominem argument to attack the views of a group of Americans who may have views that differ from his regarding the Constitution and role of government in our society. 

 “They live in a self-interested, imaginary world with no social compact and no reciprocal responsibilities.”[1]

It takes two to tango. There are some liberals who agree that some conservatives fulfill Broderick’s description. On the other hand, there are people on the left who believe they are entitled to others’ hard earned savings, that the government can keep distributing them money forever, that billionaires are all evil. My point is that there are people on the left that also: “live in a self-interested, imaginary world with no social compact and no reciprocal responsibilities.”

“They disgrace the service and sacrifice of so many Americans who unselfishly gave so much to protect rights they neither understand nor honor.”[1]

 I’ll just say that I see no foundation for this statement. Again, I assume that Broderick’s undefined use of  “They” represents Republicans who have voted for members of their party to represent them in Congress and President in 2020. In fact, Republicans are much more likely to elect to Congress  Armed Forces veterans who did “ service and sacrifice.” Here’s some details:

 Of the 535 voting members of Congress, there are  91 veterans (17%) in the 117th Congress. [6]  The Republicans members of Congress represent 69% of the veterans in Congress. Why did I choose veterans?  Because they all swear an oath that includes: “solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same;… “[7]  There’s not an expiration date on the oath, thus, veterans are on the frontline of those: “who unselfishly gave so much to protect rights.”   As of 2018, 7% of the adult Americans were veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces in 2018..[8]  I’ll extrapolate from the data on members of Congress  that a majority of veterans vote Republican. There is no evidence that a broad majority of Republicans (or Democrats) “disgrace the service and sacrifice” of other Americans.

Now, to the final section of the first paragraph:

“They support the Big Lie with zero proof; a Lie that any rational American would reject. Every federal judge found no evidence because there was none. It is the same Big Lie that even President Trump’s hand-picked Attorney General William Barr disowned.”[1]

The first sentence: “They support the Big Lie with zero proof; a Lie that any rational American would reject.” needs to be dissected. “Big Lie” is an emotionally charged term that refers to at least three separate efforts by President Trump and some supporters to dispute the 2020 election results. Two efforts were legal, although quite unpopular with Democrats. First, there was election litigation at the state and federal level. Next, there were objections in Congress to some state electoral college returns. In both these cases there wasn’t  “zero proof’” The proof may have been flawed or weak proof. Finally, there was illegal rioting within the US Capitol on 6 January 2021 (which Broderick addresses in the more detailed second paragraph.)

A number of court cases were litigated at the federal and state level seeking  to overturn the 2020 Presidential election results in battleground states such as Arizona, Georgia,and Wisconsin.  “Every federal judge found no evidence because there was none.” [1] isn’t measurable; we can’t ascertain if the judges found no evidence. A more complete statement regards the voting of Federal judges  in cases brought before them:

 “Of the 44 votes (in 13 cases), only one vote favored Trump—and did so just barely. (Note: The 13 cases include the U.S. Supreme Court’s rejection of Texas’s original jurisdiction filing challenging other states’ election results, but not the several nine-vote certiorari denials.”[9]. 

Of the 44 votes, 30 of them (68%) were cast by Republican appointee judges. [9] At a state level, there were election cases with some votes cast in favor of the Trump litigation: 

“Most pro-Trump votes came in dissents in the multi-judge appellate courts. These judicial disagreements might reflect the fact that appellate judges often dealt with less frequently litigated questions, such as those involving appellate courts’ original jurisdiction, and appellate judges, in any event, may regard themselves as less bound by precedent than first-instance judges.”[9]

Next up, the statement about former Attorney General Barr: It is the same Big Lie that even President Trump’s hand-picked Attorney General William Barr disowned.”[1]  It is true that Barr didn’t support the election litigation by the legal Trump team. Here is a  Barr quote:

“My attitude was: It was put-up or shut-up time,” Barr told me. “If there was evidence of fraud, I had no motive to suppress it. But my suspicion all the way along was that there was nothing there. It was all bullshit.”

“You know, you only have five weeks, Mr. President, after an election to make legal challenges,” Barr said. “This would have taken a crackerjack team with a really coherent and disciplined strategy. Instead, you have a clown show. No self-respecting lawyer is going anywhere near it. It’s just a joke. That’s why you are where you are.” [10]

Now, I will go along with Mr. Broderick that the decision of most judges taken with the statements by former Attorney General Barr indicate a low chance of Presidential election fraud in 2020. On the other hand, from the facts I can find, statements such as “zero proof”, “no evidence” and “Big Lie” are emotionally charged terms that don’t seem supported by the facts. 

The last section of the paragraph covers recent polling of Americans regarding the 2020 election results:

“Incredibly, according to some recent polls, sixty percent of Republicans still believe that the election was stolen, too. They have zero proof as well. Do facts matter anymore? Is truth too inconvenient to be honored? For an increasing number of Americans, facts don’t exist or at least facts that don’t serve their ends.”[1]

A December, 2021 University of Massachusetts Amherst Poll provides data to help confirm or deny the  “sixty percent of Republicans assertion”. The assertion is partially correct; a summary of the poll states: “The poll of 1,000 respondents found that only 58% of Americans believe that Biden’s electoral victory was legitimate,…” [11]  Here’s a summary of one of the questions from the poll:

Table 1:  Do you believe that Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election was legitimate or not legitimate?”December, 2021 data [12]

Definitely legitimateProbably legitimateProbably not legitimateDefinitely not legitimateI’m not sure
UMass Amherst Poll conducted online 14-20 December, 2021 by YouGov.[15]
Nationally representative sample of 1000 respondents. Margin of error 3.1%

If we look at the row of data for Republicans and assume that “election was stolen” means the same as “Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election was definitely not legitimate” then at least 46% of Republicans believe the election was stolen. If we add the 25%of Republicans who believe ““Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election was probably not legitimate” then 71% of Republicans believe the election was stolen. The UMass Amherst poll result supports Broderick’s case that there’s a strong polarization between Democrats and Republicans. Some Republicans are not definite in their opinion that President Biden won or lost; others are not sure.This is also true to a lesser extent for Independents and even a few Democrats.

So, I thought it would be useful to look at the same data using a different lens. I binned those who aren’t completely polarized separately. In Table 2, I used the data in Table 1 but  I created a new category “In the Middle” 

Table 2:  Do you believe that Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election was legitimate or not legitimate? December, 2021 data  [12] Added category “In the Middle” =

 (Probably legitimate + Probably not legitimate + I’m not sure)

Definitely legitimateIn the MiddleDefinitely not legitimate
UMass Amherst Poll conducted online 14-20 December, 2021 by YouGov.[15]
Nationally representative sample of 1000 respondents. Margin of error 3.1%

Broderick asserts: “They have zero proof as well. Do facts matter anymore? Is truth too inconvenient to be honored? [1] Regarding the 2020 presidential election outcome;  Table 2 indicates to me that 32% of Americans aren’t definite in their convictions. 

The final sentence of the first paragraph states: “For an increasing number of Americans, facts don’t exist or at least facts that don’t serve their ends.”[1] 

Table 3:  Do you believe that Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election was legitimate or not legitimate?” April, 2021 data[ 16]

Definitely legitimateProbably legitimateProbably not legitimateDefinitely not legitimateI’m not sure
UMass Amherst Poll conducted online 21-23 April, 2021 by YouGov.[15]
Nationally representative sample of 1000 respondents. Margin of error 3.4%

Table 4:  Do you believe that Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election was legitimate or not legitimate?  Comparison of December, 2021[12]  to April, 2021 data[16] Added category “In the Middle” =  (Probably legitimate + Probably not legitimate + I’m not sure)

Definitely legitimateIn the MiddleDefinitely not legitimate
All – Apr, 202149%27%24%
All -Dec., 202146%32%22%
Dec, 21 – Apr, 21-3%5%-2%
UMass Amherst Poll conducted online 21-23 April, 2021 by YouGov.[15]
Nationally representative sample of 1000 respondents. Margin of error 3.4%

 I compared the results from April, 2021  to December, 2021 in Table 4. Broderick’s hypothesis isn’t supported. Within the margin of error, the poll shows it’s likely that in the eight months from April to December, 2021, a decreasing (not increasing) number of Americans believed that Joe Biden’s victory in the 2020 presidential election was not legitimate. Also, the number of Americans who were not definite regarding the legitimacy of Joe Biden’s victory increased. [17]

Second paragraph

Now, on to the second paragraph which starts: 

“Too many Americans live in a conspiracy-laden echo chamber of their own creation …” [1]

 I must agree, however, these echo chambers exist for both Republican and Democratic Americans. There aren’t many places for an American citizen  “in the middle” to find the truth. In fact, my own view of Broderick’s piece is that it has the rhetorical resonance of a reverse polarity echo chamber. [18] 

“and embrace the American flag …. support the police 100 percent.”[1]

I have to agree with Broderick’s statement in that I was sickened to see the American flag paraded in criminal activity, much as I am disgusted to see those who burn our flag during the June, 2021 riots at the US Federal courthouse in Portland, Oregon. [19].

 “Many of those people presented with clear and graphic proof that misguided Trump supporters attacked our government on January 6th have concocted the bizarre notion that the FBI or Antifa were behind the insurrection. They have zero proof of that as well yet they hold to it senselessly even as the Proud Boys and others are being prosecuted or plead guilty.”[1]

 I wanted to look through both a  Republican lens and a Democrats lens at the causes of the Jan. 6 Capitol riots. Again, the December, 2021 University of Massachusetts Amherst Poll provides data to help understand how Republicans and Democrats  assign responsibility for the Jan. 6 Capitol riots.

Table 5 summarizes the poll results using a Republican lens to rank responsibility. The poll listed eight possibilities for responsibility, as indicated in the first column. The next  columns are the percent of Republicans or selecting an Individual(s) or Group as responsible. The responsibilities are ranked  from the greatest to the least selected cause by Republicans. 

This poll does partially support Broderick’s assertion given that 20% of Republicans believe that Antifa was responsible for the Jan. 6 Capitol riots, the third most supplied answer. In the ranking of responsibility by Republicans, the most common blame was placed on the Democratic party, followed by the Capitol police. 

Table 5  January 6th Responsibility by Party, ranked from leading to least responsibility by Republicans [20]

Responsibility for Jan. 6 Capitol RiotsRepublican LensRepublican
Democratic Party30%
U.S. Capitol Police24%
President Joe Biden8%
Former President Donald Trump7%
White Nationalists7%
Republican Party4%
Former Vice President Mike Pence1%
UMass Amherst Poll conducted online 14-20 December, 2021 by YouGov.[15]
Nationally representative sample of 1000 respondents. Margin of error 3.1%

Table 6 uses the same method as Table 5 except the responsibilities are ranked  from the greatest to the least selected cause by Democrats. In this case, there is one primary responsibility: Former President Trump.

Table 6  January 6th Responsibility by Party, ranked from leading to least responsibility by Democrats [20]

Responsibility for Jan. 6 Capitol RiotsDemocratic LensDemocratic
Former President Donald Trump75%
White Nationalists10%
Republican Party8%
Democratic Party4%
U.S. Capitol Police1%
Former Vice President Mike Pence1%
President Joe Biden0%
UMass Amherst Poll conducted online 14-20 December, 2021 by YouGov.[15]
Nationally representative sample of 1000 respondents. Margin of error 3.1%

How far have we fallen? How dangerous is our descent? How much destructive nonsense, ill-will and subversive conduct can we tolerate and still sustain democratic rule in America?[1]

A start to answering these questions might be: How polarized is our country? I decided to look at the poll results side by side and calculate a measure of polarization. For each of the eight responsibility choices, I calculated the absolute value of the difference between Republicans and Democrats. For example,  7% of Republicans  and 75% of Democrats thought former President Trump was responsible. If we calculate the Republican minus the Democratic responses (7% – 75%)  – we get -68%. The polarization may be thought of as a magnitude, so I used the Absolute value of -68% which is 68%. A large value indicates a high degree of polarization between people of both parties. Of course, one can say this just confirms what we all feel but I wanted to quantify the degree of polarization. The results are listed in Table 7.

Table 7  January 6th Responsibility by Party, ranked by polarization.

Responsibility for Jan. 6 Capitol RiotsPolarization LensRepublicanDemocraticPolarizationABS (Rep. – Dem.)
Former President Donald Trump7%75%68%
Democratic Party30%4%26%
U.S. Capitol Police24%1%23%
President Joe Biden8%0%8%
Republican Party4%8%4%
White Nationalists7%10%3%
Former Vice President Mike Pence1%1%0%
UMass Amherst Poll conducted online 14-20 December, 2021 by YouGov.[15]
Nationally representative sample of 1000 respondents. Margin of error 3.1%

Former President Trump being responsible is the most polarizing response in the survey with most Democrats holding him responsible. Yet, some Republicans also attribute responsibility to him.  The next most polarized response is to attribute responsibility to the Democratic Party, an answer most favored by Republicans (and a few Democrats). The next two most polarized responsibilities (U.S. Capitol Police and Antifa) are held by Republicans and almost no Democrats. 

Mr. Broderick asks three important questions. I struggle with how to quantify answers. Perhaps some smart academics can help figure this out. When I look at the degree of polarization, I see that we need to do a lot of work to understand the driving forces between such disconnects. It is very indicative of fracturing in our country, not a good state of affairs. Still, I believe there’s a possibility that dialog can once again occur from members of both parties. 

“Free speech is protected and cherished under our Constitution but not efforts in plain sight to subvert or destroy our country. Actions speak louder than words.”[1]

More than 700 rioters have been arrested and 150 have pleaded guilty. 270 rioters face felony charges.  [21]

Rioters are being prosecuted, convicted and sentenced are actions that do speak louder than words. Our judicial system is still working.  

Appendix A: Word Count Analysis

Appendix B – Factionalism and  Federalist Papers No. 10

Appendix C – Counting of electoral votes and confirmation of the 2020 Presidential election

Notes and Sources

Appendix A: Word Count Analysis

This appendix is a supporting page for Reaction to John Broderick’s “Make no mistake. America is broken.

I did a word count analysis of each paragraph and sentence of Broderick: Make no mistake. America is broken. Table A1 shows the results. There are five paragraphs listed in the top row. The first column is an index of the sentence location in the paragraph. The word count for each sentence can then be looked up by using the paragraph and sentence. For example, paragraph 1 (P1), sentence 3 index (S3) contains 55 words. The total number of words in each paragraph are indicated in the bottom row. So, P1 has 215 words. Finally, the entire piece contains 581 words, as seen in the rightmost cell of the bottom row.

Table A1: Word Count Analysis by Paragraph and Sentence of Broderick: Make no mistake. America is broken.

Sentence IndexParagraph 1Paragraph 2Paragraph 3Paragraph 4Paragraph 5
Word Count215168108846

Table A2 is a summary of the word count statistics for each paragraph.  Looking at the second cell of the second row, P1 contains (215/581)*100%  words, or 37% of the total words. I have labeled this as % of words in Table A2.  The last row of the table is the cumulative number of words in the document. For example, by the time a reader has finished reading the second paragraph, they have read 37% (P1) and 29% (P2) for a cumulative of 66% of the words in the document.

Table A2: Word Count Statistics by Paragraph of Broderick: Make no mistake. America is broken

Word Count215168108846581
% of words37%29%19%14%1%100%

Table A3 is a summary of the sentence count statistics by paragraph. Looking at the second cell of the second row, P1 contains (14/38)*100%  sentences, or 37% of the total sentences. I have labeled this as % of sentences in Table A3.  The last row of the table is the cumulative number of sentences in the document. For example, by the time a reader has finished reading the second paragraph, they have read 37% (P1) and 24% (P2) for a cumulative of 61% of the sentences in the document.

Table A3 summary of the sentence count  statistics by paragraph.

Sentence Count14986138
% of Sentences37%24%21%16%3%100%

Readability of Long Sentences

There are several long sentences in Broderick’s opinion piece. The longest sentence has 55 words (P1, S3). I evaluated the six longest sentences using the Flesch Reading Ease Score. [22]. The results are provided in Table A4. 

The Flesch Reading Ease Score for the six longest sentences range from “Difficult to read” to ‘Extremely difficult to read”

Table A4 Flesch reading ease score and Interpretation for longest sentences

ParagraphSentenceWord Count% all wordsCharactersSyllablesFlesch reading ease scoreInterpretation
13559.5%344946.4Extremely difficult to read
21417.1%2407118.7Very difficult to read
23345.9%2166221.5Very difficult to read
44345.9%1985730.5Difficult to read
43295.0%1875910Very difficult to read
31284.8%1875318.3Very difficult to read

I also looked at the readability of each paragraph and the entire Broderick document. I relied on two methods. First, I used the Flesch reading ease score calculated by Character Calculator  These scores are presented in the fourth row of the table A5. Next, I calculated my own version of the Flesch reading ease score using the formula: 

206.835 – 1.015*(total words/total sentences) – 84.6* total sentences/total words)

My results were slightly different as seen by comparing the 8th row of the table (Calc. Flesch reading ease score) with the 4th row. One source of the discrepancy was that Character Calculator computed the term  6th as two words instead of one. These minor differences didn’t affect the Flesch reading ease score Interpretation for individual paragraphs or the entire document. In both cases, Broderick’s work was assessed as difficult to read.

Table A5 Flesch reading ease score and Interpretation for Broderick document [1]

Word Count215168108846581
Flesch reading ease score45.348.650.945.273.948.0
Flesch reading ease score InterpretationDifficult to read.Difficult to read.Fairly difficult to read.Difficult to read.Fairly easy to readDifficult to read.
Total Words per total sentences15.418.713.514.06.015.3
Total syllables per total words1.731.651.671.761.501.70
Calc. Flesch reading ease score45.347.952.143.673.847.7
Calc. Flesch reading ease score InterpretationDifficult to read.Difficult to read.Fairly difficult to read.Difficult to read.Fairly easy to readDifficult to read.

[22] Flesch Reading Ease Score description: 

“Most times, a readability score helps you know how easy it is to read content or passage. It helps you know the educational level that one has to be in to read a text without a hassle.

The Flesch reading ease score indicates the understandability of a passage with a number that ranges from 0 to 100. It shows how difficult it is to understand the content. The higher scores mean that the content is easy to read and understand.”

The formula for Flesch reading ease score is:

206.835 – 1.015 × (total words ÷ total sentences) – 84.6 × (total syllables ÷ total words)

Interpreted Flesch reading ease scores:

90 – 1005th gradeVery easy to read
80 – 906th gradeEasy to read
70 – 807th gradeFairly easy to read
60 – 708th & 9th gradePlain English
50 – 6010th to 12th gradeFairly difficult to read.
30 – 50CollegeDifficult to read.
10 – 30College graduateVery difficult to read
0 – 10ProfessionalExtremely difficult to read

Source: Flesch Reading Ease Score – Reading and Grade Level Calculator, accessed 7 January 2022