A Poll That Is Invaluable To Show How Useless Polls Are

The purported results of a Monmouth University survey make no sense whatsoever, which is illuminating…about why we should pay no attention to polls.  This one was supposed to show the impact of the endless January 6 Commission hearings. Apparently they have had no impact at all. 38% of adults said they believe Trump was directly responsible for the Jan. 6 riot compared to 42% who said the same in June before the hearings began. Well, anyone who believed President Trump was directly responsible for the riot is a) an idiot b) not interested in facts or evidence or c) so biased and determined to believe all anti-Trump media spin that they probably didn’t watch the hearings anyway.

That, of course, is what is so absurd about the poll. It didn’t isolate respondents who watched the hearings or paid attention to them from those who did not. This feature appeals to elude the news media. For example, the Washington Examiner writes, “Another 32% said they don’t believe Trump did anything wrong after viewing the hearings, compared to 30% the month before.” Wrong. All the poll shows are the numbers in June and in August after the prime time hearings were shown.  The numbers don’t reflect what respondents who watched the hearings thought before and after them. Continue reading

Gallup Finds “Media Confidence Ratings at Record Lows”…Well, Good!

Why “good”? It’s obviously not good that the trustworthiness of journalism has declined so precipitously. What is good, since the news media has proven itself to be so biased, irresponsible, dishonest and untrustworthy, is that the public is waking up and no longer trusts it. That minimizes the damage. It does not solve, however, the existential danger to our democracy of having a propaganda system instead of objective and reliable reporting.

Sure, this is a poll, and polls themselves are biased and unreliable. Gallup and Pew, however, are the most reliable of the pollsters, and this one at least seems right. 11% trust in TV news is essentially no trust at all: that number represents the moron component that shows up in every poll. (The 16% trust level in newspapers is irrationally high.) Continue reading

Thursday Ethics Thinkin’ And Theorizin’, 7/14/2022: The Horror…The Horror…

I just stumbled upon that video from “The Red Skelton Show,” vintage early Seventies. The ethical values being destroyed here are competence and respect (for the audience, for the culture, for the nation, for music and dance.) You can learn so much from the thing, and yet it raises so many questions…like, how did the culture devolve from “Good Morning!” in “Singing in the Rain” to this slop in 20 years? Is this what killed movie musicals—a sudden lack of taste? What caused it? Did the choreographer know he or she was presenting shit? How could he live with himself? They paid someone to create that! Did Simon and Garfunkel see this? Why didn’t they kill themselves? How do we explain Liberace to future generations? How can anyone claim that the US is a nest of white supremacy when whites publicly humiliated themselves like this? Seeing those dancers with their insipid expression and their ridiculous outfits made me want to rip my skin off.

If the United States could survive the Seventies, it can survive again. This video gives me hope and perspective, and I will regard it as beneficial on balance, provided that I can get it out of my brain before it drives me stark, raving mad.

1. Least surprising poll result of the year: A Pew Research Center poll determined that, among reporters who say their outlet’s audience leans left, 30% support “equal coverage for all sides,” and 69% said that “it is not always deserved.” I have problems with Pew’s framing of the issue—you know, polls. Presenting the facts fairly and objectively shouldn’t involve “sides” at all. The objective should be to explain events and issues without picking or having “sides.”

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If This Harvard-Harris Poll Is Correct, The Public Is Confused But Not Corrupted Regarding Abortion

I don’t trust polls, and I really don’t trust Harvard. However, the new poll by Harvard’s Center for American Political Studies and the Harris Poll gives me hope, and, I confess, I especially appreciate it because it reflects what I thought was the case anyway. The abortion-related polling is at the end of the poll report, but I don’t think that’s why the mainstream media has concentrated on the topics represented earlier. You will see why.

The poll is here. Predictably, it indicates that the American public doesn’t understand the law or the function of the Supreme Court as well as an educated and civically responsible populace in a democracy should, but then they have been manipulated, deceived and under-educated on these matters. It also indicates, contrary to the claims of the pro-abortion forces, that the public isn’t fooled: it knows that there is more to an abortion than a woman’s “choice.”

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Once Again, An Analysis Of A SCOTUS Decision Is Distorted By Emotion And Ignorance

This is a problem. And I’m just talking now about the previous SCOTUS ruling that launched a freak-out yesterday. As you probably know by now, the leaked SCOTUS ruling rebuffing Roe v. Wade is no longer a leak.

The Supreme Court ruled 6-3 to strike down a restrictive “needs-based” concealed carry laws in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen.  Even though Justice Thomas’s majority opinion was tight and clear as well as consistent with SCOTUS precedent as well as, of course, the Bill of Rights, such worthies as President Biden claimed that, in the President’s words, the ruling contradicted “common sense and the Constitution.”

What are the odds that Joe read the opinion before declaring that? I’d say “none.” Making such a statement while carrying the presumed authority of President without knowing what the Court’s analysis was is completely unethical and an abuse of position.

David Harsanyi, writing at RealClearPolitics, accurately writes,

The modern left doesn’t even bother pretending they believe the Supreme Court has a responsibility to act as a separate branch of government and adjudicate the constitutionality of law. Rather than even ostensibly offering legal reasons for their ire, Democrats simply demand the Supreme Court uphold public sentiment (or, rather what they claim is public sentiment), even though SCOTUS exists to ignore those pressures. The fact that that attitude has congealed as the norm in one of our major political parties does not bode well for the future of the Republic.

It is particularly disheartening that the three liberal justices in their dissent stooped to fueling this distortion of the Court’s role. Their arguments were almost all irrelevant to the  constitutional issues and the Court’s previous rulings regarding the Second Amendment. Instead, Sotomayor, Breyer and Kagan took the low road of evoking recent shootings and incidents of gun violence as if current events should permit the limiting of explicit Constitutional rights. 

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When Polling Is Unethical

Gallup is both one of the oldest polling organizations and among the closest to objective, making it doubly irresponsible when it injects nonsense and ignorance into policy debates. This is what it did with two recent polls, headlined thusly: “Steady 58% of Americans Do Not Want Roe v. Wade Overturned” and ‘Pro-Choice’ Identification Rises to Near Record High in U.S.”

The immediate response here is “So what?” Abortion, at least since the misbegotten Roe v. Wade SCOTUS ruling in 1973, is matter of Constitutional law and individual rights, and neither of these are determined by popular opinion.. Nor should they be. Yet the reflex refrain of demagogues and the habitually dishonest when they are out of legitimate arguments is “the public overwhelmingly supports/opposes [fill in the blank],” a contention that inevitably depends on polling.

The threshold question Gallup asked its respondents on the abortion issue was “With respect to the abortion issue, would you consider yourself to be pro-choice or pro-life?” Useless. Did Gallup define what “pro-choice” or “pro-life” meant? Nope. Do “pro-choice” Americans believe a potential mother should be able to “choose” to kill a viable fetus right up to the moment of birth? Do they believe that abortion involves the taking of a life at any point? Ever? Do they care? Who knows? I don’t think most of those who responded that they were “pro-choice” know. It’s garbage in, garbage out: the poll results are meaningless, but they will still be cited as if they are profound.

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Andrew Sullivan On The Dobbs Leak Freakout

It has been fascinating to watch Andrew Sullivan, a conservative turned Trump-deranged progressive during from about 2015 on, express his rising dismay at his adopted “side’s” drift to totalitarianism as it uses lies as metaphorical oars in the stream of public opinion.. Sullivan is too emotional to be a reliable pundit, but he’s smart and writes like an angel. His current essay about how Democrats and progressives have abandoned even the pretense of rationality is instructive.

He also mounts an impressive list of ridiculous statements by abortion fans and supposedly trustworthy progressive commentators that are signature significance. Nobody should trust people who say or write garbage like this. Ever. Here are some of Andrew’s gems, only some of which I had stumbled over earlier (the comments in parentheses are mine, not Sullivan’s):

  • Roxane Gay tweeted:“I have typed and deleted a great many comments What do you say when nine people can dictate what happens to your body? It’s ridiculous and hateful.” [That is not, of course, what a reversal of Roe would mean, but disinformation has always been at the heart of the “pro-choice” position.]

  • “The Atlantic’s Adam Serwer announced that the court had abolished the entire 20th century. Yep: no more suffrage for women! Jim Crow now!”

  • Jessica Valenti: “Stripping women of their humanity and rights isn’t a consequence of the ‘pro-life’ agenda, it’s the entire point.” 

  • The Washington Post’s now thoroughly insane Jennifer Rubin: “The right-wing justices and their supporters appear ready to reject one of the Founders’ core principles: that religion shall not be imposed by government edict.” (The smear that opposing Roe constitutes a religious edict is truly despicable, and a lot of abortion fans are stooping to it.)

  • Kurt Andersen another one:“It really is kind of remarkable that only one in five Americans call themselves Catholic, but of the Supreme Court majority apparently about to permit abortion to be outlawed, all but one are Catholic and that one was raised Catholic.”

  • Kamala Harris (who supports her adversary’s position every time she tries to counter it, whatever the topic) was, predicably, Kamala-like:

    Those Republican leaders who are trying to weaponize the use of the law against women. Well we say, ‘How dare they?’ How dare they tell a woman what she can do and cannot do with her own body? How dare they? How dare they try to stop her from determining her own future? How dare they try to deny women their rights and their freedoms?

To this and more, Sullivan observes,

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Self-Delusion? Magical Thinking? Blindness? Stupidity? Dishonesty? What’s The Matter With 80% Of Democrats?

Dana and I are reacting to a new Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll. I know, polls. Also Harvard. Nonetheless, I don’t understand this at all...

Hey look, I understand party loyalty, though I’ve never experienced the urge myself. I even understand the desperation of human beings who lack the fortitude to face their terrible mistakes, and who stick their fingers in their years, close their eyes and shout “NANANANA!” to avoid facing their accountability. But can 80% of Democrats  really look themselves in the mirror after declaring President Biden’s first year a success? What would a failure look like to such people?

How can one have an intelligent discussion or debate with someone who considers the record of the Biden Administration and thinks, “This is GREAT!”? How can democracy function with such a large number of participants living in an alternate reality? 80% of Democrats, according to that poll, have accepted that “FAILURE IS SUCCESS,” a fitting addition to Big Brother’s

I just don’t understand it.

Surely Trump Derangement can’t cripple a mind this completely, can it? To make a previously rational American think that success is defined by not having someone he or she detests in the White House, even though by most objective measures that hated leader was far more effective and and got better results that his successor? Really?

Could this be climate change mania, where success is defined entirely by having anti-climate change policies that are symbolic only, and that cannot possibly move the next century’s world temperature a fraction of a degree down, while none of the real and dangerous consequences of such virtue-signaling foolishness—like making the U.S. dependent on Russian oil—matter to the malady’s sufferers?

Ethical citizenship requires staying informed, objective, responsible and sane.

Sunday Ethics Fugue: Looking Like America

1. Right on cue...I am seeing an explosion of articles explaining why it is crucial that the Supreme Court “look like America.” This is one of many logically indefensible statements that is pounded into the brains of weak-minded members of the public because it sounds rational if you don’t, or can’t, think about it very hard. What is important about the membership of the Supreme Court is that it contain the best and least biased judicial scholars and legal analysts available, because then we will have the best Supreme court available. I don’t care what the Justices look like, and neither should anyone else. If the nine best legal minds happen to be black, great. If they are all female, or trans, or gay, or in wheelchairs, I don’t care, and neither should anyone else. What drives this particular brand of lookism is the presumption of bias, and judges are supposed to be, indeed are required to be, as free as bias as possible. Bias leads to lousy judges and lousy decisions. The “Make SCOTUS look like America!” crowd, which is almost exclusively on the left, want to substitute a balance of biases standard for the “as little bias as possible” standard. And, of course, the new eruption of this dumb theory is in order to make President Biden’s indefensible decision to place race and gender first among the priorities for picking Breyer’s replacement seem fair, just and rational, when it isn’t. It’s just political pandering.

2. This is a novel way to try to justify the anti-white bias...Jamelle Bouie, the full-time, race-baiting, race-obsessed black pundit formerly of Slate and now with the Times, was given an astounding two full pages in today’s Sunday Review to argue that history hasn’t sufficiently described just how awful slavery was. See, it wasn’t just evil, it was really, really, really evil. “Evil beyond measure!” Thus, we are supposed to extrapolate, it was so unimaginably evil that no current day policies devised to compensate for and make amends for that evil by the descendants of those not enslaved can ever be enough. (So stop bitching about giving blacks an edge in employment forever, because even that won’t be enough.)

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Morning Ethics Warm-Up, 1/21/2022: Christmas’s And Meat Loaf’s End Edition

Meat Loaf has died. The hilariously theatrical pop singer with the big voice was responsible for one of the great ethics songs: “Paradise by the Dashboard Lights.” It packed almost everything into one epic musical journey: temptation, non-ethical considerations vs. ethics, betrayal, consequences and cosmic retribution.

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Absent a last-minute reprieve or a relapse of whatever it is that I’ve been battling, this looks like the final day for our especially lovely, inspiring Christmas tree. I always feel like I’m making the world a little meaner and less hopeful when I take it down. This post, from three years ago, still stands.

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In U.S. ethics history, January 21 stands for one of the more significant pardons in American Presidential annals, because in 1977 Jimmy Carter pardoned all those young men, hundreds of thousands of them, who had fled to Canada rather than risk being drafted to fight in Vietnam. (Only half came back. I am tempted to say, “Good!,” but I won’t…) Those who left as a matter of principle and those who ran off because they wouldn’t have fought for their country under any circumstances (this was the era of “Better Red than Dead,” after all) were treated the same. It was a utilitarian trade-off, and whether the President’s decision was unethical (my Vietnam vet friends said it made them feel like suckers) or ethical (it definitely helped heal the national divisions over that misguided conflict), it was certainly brave and consequential. For example, that single act probably killed the draft as much as anything else.

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Feel free to debate that issue here; I’m not up to it today myself. There won’t be the usual Friday Open Forum because there was one just two days ago (and it’s still open!). Full disclosure: in my fevered state, I really thought it was Friday when it was Wednesday.

1. This video is worrisome if it’s genuine, and it may not be. A young woman freaks out after getting a positive Wuhan variant test result, and acts as if she’s been sentenced to die on the rack and wheel. I fear this is what two years of politically-driven pandemic hysteria is turning our rising generations into: cowards, whiners, phobics and weenies. Her tearful lament ““The coolest characteristic about myself is that I haven’t gotten it!” is particularly nauseating. Continue reading