7.22.2015

IS THE LEFT CONFUSED?

       One need not be a master of logic to see the major contradictions in the Left’s philosophy. They can only be understood in the context of duplicity or low intelligence. How does one reconcile these typical examples of liberal thinking?

       For the last 60 or more years, they have been telling us that smoking cigarettes is dangerous to your health. Smokers have been alienated, and tobacco manufacturers have been demonized and sued for profit, but
       Smoking marijuana, to them, is cool.

       A single African-American losing his or her life in confrontation with police officers brings out Sharpton, Jackson et al. unleashing angry protests, major property destruction and chaos across America, but
       The murders of thousands of young black males by other young black males in American cities, and the aborting of hundreds of thousands of black babies somehow don’t make hay.

       Catholic nuns are threatened with legal actions for standing by their traditional beliefs, but
       The idea of sharia law in American cities is, well... peachy.

       Confederate Battle Flags; and Old Glory displayed on the lawns of WWII vets offend liberal sensibilities, but
       Mexican flags displayed at U.S. public schools and Ol’ Glory spat upon at sporting events in the U.S. doesn’t.

        Tyrannical anti-America leaders and regimes in the Middle East are negotiated with in good faith, but
        Our primary ally in the region isn’t.

        The Food Stamp Program, administered by the Dept. of Agriculture, runs ads encouraging folks to get on the Program, and will distribute to more than 47 million people, but
         The National Park Service, administered by the Dept of the Interior, asks us Please Do Not Feed the Animals. They will grow dependent on handouts and will not learn to take care of themselves.

       America’s “fat cats,” especially Wall Street moguls, are demonized by liberal Democrats in Congress, but
       Many of the most wealthy Congressmen are liberal Democrats who privately enjoy the benefits of the swells, while the rest are trying their best.

       Want to take guns out of the hands of law-biding citizens, passing laws restricting aspects of guns, ammunition, licenses; who may or may not own guns, and disarming the U.S. military on home soil so they cannot defend themselves with their own guns, but
       Let’s not offend street criminals and gangs with bothersome policies like “stop-and-frisk.”

       Constantly bellyache about needing more money for “education” (meaning more money for the teachers union and the Education Dept... not things students actually need) to help raise student scores, but
       Fight tooth and nail to stop charter schools, and would like to tax private (non-union) schools out of existence because they actually help students.

       Pander to big donors in the gay and lesbian lobby groups, atheists, trannies, felons and unnatural souls of every description; those addicted to drugs, alcohol, porn, gambling; abortion mills, but
       Ugh! The U.S. military, and those nasty Catholic nuns helping terminally ill people

       Shiny awards statuettes and kudos for even the worst of Hollywood films, tv, “music,” art and anything else designed to belittle and insult traditional America, but 
       Curses on those few films, music and art which support traditional America, attract large audiences, and (incidentally!) make big money. Use Federal agencies to dig up dirt on such producers and go after them.

       On the other side, with very few exceptions, Republicans call themselves champions of traditional American values but 
       Have been cowardly in their failure to fight those who aggressively denigrate these same values.

       Damn the phonies, scalawags and liars on both sides. No buts.


7.16.2015

THE IRANIAN DEAL: SNOOKERED AGAIN

Does anyone actually believe that had the President and his State Department negotiated a perfect deal, favoring the United States on every point, that Iran would live up to its part of the bargain?

On the other hand, does anyone actually believe that now that the President and his State Department have capitulated on virtually every point of the bargain, that Iran will even now live up to its part of the bargain?

Of course not. No matter how the negotiated deal ends up, Iran will simply continue on its path to getting a nuclear bomb, inventing ridiculous excuses for every transgression. All of this “deal negotiating” is just a stalling tactic benefiting both parties. For Iran, it has allowed them to get closer by the week to their goal: a bomb with which to obliterate – or at least threaten and hold for ransom – the “Little Satans,” Israel, Rome, and then the “Big Satan,” America.

Did UN or world condemnation of Iran’s nuclear dreams have any effect on its leadership? No. 

Did economic sanctions on Iran have any effect on its leadership and their pursuit of the bomb? No. But it was successful in hurting the Iranian people enough that they gathered around their leaders, shouting “Death to Israel!” “Death to America!”

On the other side of the table, President Obama takes victory laps for a deal in which his nation and its allies got nothing. Or perhaps it’s his close adviser, Iran Maiden Jarret, who is doing the lapping. Somehow, by unknown means, the Administration manages to intimidate Congress to the point they go along with every action he demands – each of which somehow does more harm than good to America.

None of this is by accident. It is all by the playbook. Soften up the American people, create dependency on government, create dissent and chaos at every turn, pit Americans against one another.

Obama believes his “legacy” will include an historic accord with Iran. Perhaps his legacy will also include bringing our nation to its knees. He fancies himself a thinker, not a fighter. He hopes to avoid any meaningful military action during his last year in office, leaving our next president, whoever he or she might be, holding the bag; agonizing over whether or not to authorize the use of severe military action. Knowing that ultimately he or she will be blamed for negating all the “good” Obama did to “save the world from nuclear holocaust.”

In the end, mankind never learns; history repeats itself – but as weapons grow more destructive – each repetition fills graves faster. Iran’s leaders will only be affected, just as all the world’s tyrants have ever been, either by overwhelming economic deprivation or overwhelming force. Given the weak knees in Europe, and the connivers to the east, the former is not very likely to happen.

So, in the end, all this posturing by our President and his cuckold minions means nothing. Iran will do what its Persian soul dictates. And, if there remain any American leaders who still believe in their Constitutionally sworn duty to protect their nation from enemies foreign and domestic, America will be forced to do what it has to do.

The fine points of this nuclear deal? To quote Hillary Clinton once again, “What difference, at this point, does it make?”


7.07.2015

FRANK LUNTZ, PSEUDO-SCIENTIST

So, we hear about a spat between Donald Trump and researcher Frank Luntz, head of Luntz Global, which claims to specialize in message creation and image management for commercial and political clients. Luntz is often seen on FOX, conducting live focus groups in which a carefully-chosen audience is given electronic dials which register the degree of its reactions to tv commercials, sound bites from political speeches and such. The wiz-bang dials and attendant graphs are intended to lend an air of science to his show.

I know a little about message creation and research. What Mr. Luntz does is less science, more puppet show.

I was for many years Creative Director of a major international ad agency, headquartered in New York City. You could say I was a “Mad Man.” One fine day, the Director of Research at our agency came by my office for what had become a regular, friendly visit. She was well known in the field, and I enjoyed her company. She spoke with a charming European accent, but unlike myself, was inclined to treat advertising less as art, more as business.

At the time, I was working on a major advertising campaign for a well known client – an American institution. This client was about to invest tens of millions of dollars in a national ad campaign. My creative team had spear-headed the ad ideas which got client approval provided we could show positive testing (research results) of the idea (or as we called it; the concept).

Having got past our small talk, my colleague flat out asked me how I wanted the test results to come out. She realized how important this project was to our ad agency, to our client, and to me and my staff. She was prepared to help.

On the subject of audience research, polling, focus group testing and such, her attitude was, it’s pseudo-science. She could manipulate. She could guarantee the results.

This particular testing would be done via a “focus group” similar to Mr. Luntz’s. Our agency had a special conference room dedicated to this purpose. Since we were located in midtown Manhattan near Grand Central Terminal, our independent test firm often gathered volunteers from crowds of commuters coming and going through Grand Central. They would gather in our conference room; about 10 or 15 subjects and a test firm moderator – someone like Mr. Luntz. The session would be taped. The moderator began chatting and asking questions from a questionnaire generated by the moderator and our Research Director. The subjects might be shown a film or tv storyboard, or music, or whatever was being researched. The questions generally involved the subjects’ reactions to what they were being shown; likes, dislikes, why, et cetera.

This conference room was nicknamed the “fish bowl” because there was a second, smaller room, separated from the conference room by a “two-way” mirrored wall. The smaller room was darkened so our ad agency people were able watch the proceedings, unseen. We could also send spontaneous questions to the moderator. Sitting in the dark, listening to the spontaneous thoughts of the subjects, it was often difficult to not burst out laughing. These were obviously intelligent people, but when verbalizing their reactions to ideas, celebrities or music, they often sounded like idiots.

The reactions were charted, data tabulated, tapes edited and presented to our clients a few days later. There were certain “norms” against which the results were compared, and adjustments were made to the bottom lines if warranted.

In the 1930s, George Horace Gallup himself was VP in charge of copy research at another major ad agency; it was there that Mr. Gallup first formed his own polling firm, the American Institute of Public Opinion. There has always been a close relationship between advertising, audience research and politics.

In the 1960s, journalist and Washington insider Joseph Alsop argued that many people believe polling is an exact science. To the contrary, Gallup’s polling record up until then had demonstrated that if it was science, just how imprecise science could be (see Alsop’s New Yorker article).

Gallup, I am told, was fond of quoting French bishop, politician and Napoleonic diplomat Charles Maurice de Talleyrand’s 18th Century maxim: “The only thing wiser than anybody is everybody.” Hence Gallup expanded his sampling of opinions to as broad a cross-section of America’s electorate as his new organization could muster. To be fair, if success in this field is measured by how many election results match the polling stats, Gallup had some bull’s eyes along with the failures. Even a blindfolded man throwing enough darts is bound to hit a target. Occasionally. But would you bet money on his next throw?

I’m not saying polling isn’t of value. I’m saying it has been corrupted. A cozenage in the trick bag of politicians and the media. It doesn’t simply measure; it attempts to influence. Which is precisely what Frank Luntz attempted to do.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I cringe when I hear a politician, pundit or adviser, using a polling statistic, declares “...The American people believe such and such...” Hogwash! No one, not even Gallup, knows what “the American people” believe. There are well over 300 million Americans. Opinions are infinitely nuanced and quixotic.

The worst part is, when a presidential candidate wins by, say, 51% of the vote, it means the other 49% are treated like irrelevant losers for at least the following four years! Presidents often can’t shake their party associations, so 49% of the voters go under-represented. This is why polling should not be used as a partisan tool. But no thinking person believes it isn’t. And Luntz proved it.

A well respected exec of another major ad agency also wrote on the subject. He opined that the phraseology of polling is “loaded.” Since questions are usually written or formulated by researchers and pollsters, the result, by intention or not – consciously or not – is that it steers the subject to give responses the pollster wants.

Ask a young “likely voter,” self-identified as “liberal,” if she would vote for Candidate A who promises to lower her taxes and balance the budget; or for Candidate B who also promises to lower her taxes, balance the budget and limit access to birth control. If that’s all the subject hears about the two candidates, the pollster knows he can put a check-mark in column A.

Subjects are human; they come into the process with their own biases or preconceived notions of political parties or candidates they have heard about. Few voters who claim to be neutral, or “undecided,” are actually neutral – whether or not they are aware of their own biases.

Some subjects are reluctant or embarrassed to express what they really think, so may give answers which are politically correct. Once in the voting booth, it may be a different story.

People may not actually know the answers to questions such as “how do you feel about...” or “what’s your impression of so and so...” Most of us have seen interviews with “the man on the street” who can’t even name our current Vice-President. Some can tell you trivial details about the Kardashians or Katie Perry, but can’t reliably name the country to the north or south of the United States. Many younger people have little interest in the machinations of governance. But they vote. And they can be counted on to vote for narrow self-interests.

In recent times, because our voting population seems so evenly divided, results of presidential elections have been uncomfortably, even suspiciously close. One percentage point can make all the difference. Which is why opinion polling is so controversial.
Daily polling, rolling averages and the like, whether intended or not, influence potential candidates and voters alike. These “snapshots in time” are least controversial – least critical – when the spread between major candidates, in the last critical weeks of campaigning, approaches double digits. I know this is a shocking revelation, but politicians will say whatever they believe will get them more votes. If candidate #1 who says “A-B-C” sees his polling numbers go down, looks at candidate #2 who gets a bump in his polling by saying “J-K-L,” candidate #1 will find a way to turn “A-B-C” into “J-K-L.” After awhile, nobody knows who believes what. Opinions? Garbage in – garbage out.

Maybe it doesn’t matter in the long run. People will vote for the candidate they think they know and “like” – especially if that candidate promises things the voter wants or at least agrees with – whether or not that candidate is up to the job. So if polling is nothing more than a measure of popularity, at least it serves some purpose, shallow as it may be.

Oh, if you’re wondering how our ad campaign tested. Our research department announced to our client that it scored higher than any other ad campaign they had hitherto tested for this or any other client. The client was extremely pleased and funded our ad campaign 100%. Quite an accomplishment, eh? Until I remembered my research director’s lesson. The results certainly were influenced by her questionnaire and, I suspect, by our friendship.

Which brings us back to Mr. Luntz. It was clear, watching his focus group opining on Mr. Trump’s campaigning, that Frank had carefully loaded his group, knowing by his pre-interviews that they would not produce fair or balanced responses to Mr. Trump, but would produce the responses Frank wanted. This was far from science. This was Frank’s way of “getting even” with Trump, who had apparently recently declined to participate in some business dealing with Luntz.

Well, polling in politics is not going away. It is my own notion that despite the claim that there are more “conservative” voters than “liberal” voters in the U.S., the conservative candidate needs a minimum lead of 8 honest points in order to beat his opponent. He needs that much to overcome media bias, polling effects, college professors indoctrinating young voters, and shenanigans with the actual votes. Horrors! you say? But think of it. Conservatives tend to be conservative with the vote counting, whereas liberals tend to be, well... liberal with the counting, accidentally overlooking or excluding cast votes of certain groups, et cetera and ad nauseam.

As Joseph Stalin said, “Those who vote decide nothing. Those who count the vote decide everything.”