Consuming Garbage

Many decades ago, I was an undergrad in Northwestern University’s School of Business. Statistics and marketing were mandatory courses. Donald Trump, some years later, was an undergrad at Wharton. The curriculum was much the same. We both were aware of the dangers of using tainted data—surveys asking the wrong or improper questions or focus groups skewed one way, or the other can lead to disastrous results. New coke and the Ford Edsel resulted from avoiding the tough but right questions. Instead, they went with those likely to confirm what you already thought. Everyone in business school has heard the cautionary, “dogs don’t like it story.” The last thing you want to do is fool yourself.

Possibly an awful polling question asked in slightly different versions by several organizations led to the worst foreign policy disaster in memory. In my last post, I referred to the Dispatch article showing how you asked the “should we remain in Afghanistan question,” yield widely differing results. 

 The “Do you approve or disapprove of Biden’s plan to remove the troops from Afghanistan?” is a version of the eternally high polling “Are you in favor of world peace.” “Everyone is for world peace. However, if we add you lose all your freedom to attain it, the results reverse. “Do you think the U.S. should remove all military troops from Afghanistan, or should some U.S. troops remain for counter-terrorism operations?” elicits a some troops’ stay majority.  

We’ve all heard the quality of the data concept, “Garbage in Garbage out.” There’s a variation “Garbage in Gospel out.” The latter applies here. The Bernie Saunders peacenik group has long dominated the left. Add the Trump “America First” bunch, and the Rand Paul “never get involved overseas” libertarians. You have many people emotionally ready to accept and repeat the 70+ percent favor pulling out foolishness.

The question is why “reputable polling operations” would ask the Afghan question in this manner. They have to be aware this is sure to mislead. If a student taking Statistics and marketing is taught this is rotten practice, why would pros make the error? We know polling in the 2020 election was the worst ever. Why leaders would make such an important decision based on a faulty polling question must’ve been because it gave them the desired answer.

Donald Trump especially had to know his claimed pullout support was bogus. If he wanted to know how Americans thought about Afghanistan, he would’ve demanded the right questions. Maybe he wasn’t the great student he claims to have been.

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Sometimes You’d Rather be Wrong

On March 9th, less than two months after Biden’s inauguration, I posted “The Dog ate Biden’s Homework.” I warned the new administration’s capabilities weren’t as advertised. We already had an out-of-control Southern Border. A total misunderstanding of “Project Warp Speed” led to kids not being in school and an unneeded $2. 1 billion in additional spending. The vaccines combined with those naturally immune allowed a return to everyday life and a rapidly expanding economy. With substantial pent-up demand, the last thing we needed was additional relief. It all but guaranteed inflation. The administration appeared to be unaware of any of this.

At the time, I concluded, “Much of the new administration’s problems arise from the same flaw, lack of preparation. One of the primary reasons put forth for electing Biden was competence. Joe and those around him knew what they were doing. It appears they don’t.” 

In subsequent posts, I spelled continuing errors of judgment. It became clear the question wasn’t what the administration got wrong but could they get anything right. Gathering and understanding information and analyzing data was beyond their capabilities. They heard what they wanted to hear and expected the outcomes they desired.

If you’re surprised by the present Afghanistan debacle, you weren’t reading Detour on the Road.” The longer the inept stay in control, the greater the failures. On the other hand, the mainstream media willingly continued the myth of Biden competency. Further, the media bubble likely contributed to the resulting disaster.

Now we have the media suddenly aware the administration was ineffective. If I could see the flaws, they had to be visible to those with the big newsrooms. I and others questioned abandoning Bagram Airbase in the middle of the night. The slow extraction of Afghans was visible to all. They chose to ignore and cover-up.

When Hunter Biden’s laptop surfaced, they refused to cover it. Instead, they promoted a bogus Russian disinformation operation put forth by left-leaning former intelligence people. To date, no one has disputed the computer’s ownership or contents. Rather than alerting the public Joe Biden wasn’t up to the job, they covered -up the possibility he was corrupt as well.  

One of the favorite media tricks is the use of simple issue poll questions eliciting a one-word response. Sarah Isgur and Chris Stirewalt in the Dispatch understand how it contributed to the administration, and others misreading the situation. The question asked matters. On Afghanistan, “The Hill asked:

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The Dark Dawn of Delta

The rapidly spreading Delta variant of Covid is spawning a slew of bad policy decisions and threatens even more. A drumbeat for stern action appears across the legacy media. The New York Times editorial board and its OP-ED page demand vaccine and masking mandates. A Nobel prize-winning Economist tells us it’s time to forget “Nudges” and get tough. The most comprehensive rant I found was in the USA today and reprinted in other Gannett Newspapers. It takes up an entire newspaper page. 

All point to a shared view the unvaccinated are selfishly endangering society and must be forced to change their ways. These rubes can’t understand the science, so for safety’s sake, action is warranted. Forget the carrots and pick up the club.

As I’ve previously pointed out, there are plenty of legitimate reasons to hesitate to take the shot. Ignoring rather than recognizing the rationales is the modus operandi for the media. This mind frame is resulting in a manual of how not to reach people. It is splitting the country even further without solving the problem. Instead of taking my advice and selling people, the Biden Administration and its media allies make the situation worse.  

In the past few days, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the Administration’s top medical advisor, took to several media outlets to threaten an avalanche of vaccine mandates just as soon the FDA gives the vaccines full approval. While he didn’t predict the blessing within 30 days, Labor Day or sooner is the unofficial goal. Employer vaccine mandates at your job or desire to participate in everyday life will finally force those Red-State bumpkins to take the shot. Without the possibility of lawsuits over being forced to take experimental medicine, it will be full speed ahead. 

Before the election, Biden and Kamala cast doubt on the Vaccines developed under Project Warp Speed. They expressed fear President Trump was forcing approval without the standard FDA procedures. Previously, we expected Pfizer’s full O.K. by the first of the year. Suddenly it’s anticipated by Labor Day. Could the full-court press by this Administration and its  supporting media be putting the FDA under the extreme pressure they inferred on Trump? It sure looks like it.

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A family get-together on a California Beach led to discussions on a variety of subjects. Coming from Arizona, Utah, and Georgia and being in California, we had wide-ranging dialogue. 

 Whereas Los Angeles demands mask-wearing indoors, we had utter confusion about where to wear a mask in San Diego County. The hotel office required them but seemingly not needed anywhere else. Paying a dollar more a gallon for gas brings home California is a different place. Curtailed services at the hotel and some restaurants pointed to a severe labor shortage. We knew we weren’t in Arizona anymore.

The conversation touched on how Arizona was coping with the massive increase in migrants illegally crossing the border. We shared the problem wasn’t anywhere near the crisis on the Texas border, but that could change. Blocking the Texas border would shift the migrants to our frontier. Of particular concern is the high Covid infection rate among the transients. 

With the grandkids heading back to school, the effect of the Delta variant is on everyone’s mind. Only one of the them is vaccinated. The rest are too young. Our grandchild in Atlanta attends a private school, and the others are in public school Park City, Utah. Neither place is likely to shut down, but masks and other actions are possible. Atlanta is a worry in any case.

The prevalence of crime in Atlanta is a significant concern. While our kid’s neighborhood has been safe, crime is growing across the City. Less policing is taking its toll. Once the police feel unsupported, cops retire, and good recruits are hard to come by. It’s no secret the mayor and others have thrown them under the bus. As a result, the upscale Buckhead neighborhood is in the process of splitting from Atlanta. If it leaves, the City’s tax base will be devastated. This action, in turn, means higher taxes or fewer services, or both. 

Returning to Phoenix, we got the news the U.S. Department of Justice is opening a probe of our Police Department. In all the decades we’ve lived in the City, we have had nothing but excellent city services. Police and Fire are prompt, courteous, and efficient. Yet, no one spoke up for the cops. Not the Chief of Police or the Mayor. Just a few out-of-power city council members. Are we about to join Atlanta and so many other cities with rising crime leading to a decline in livability? 

I wonder how many extended families are having these conversations? If they aren’t, maybe they should. It was great to get out and be together, but unfortunately, problems still are part of our lives.

The Biden Effect Today

July 29 strongly confirms Biden is hell-bent on destroying the recovery. His tool of choice is ineptitude. As I’ve pointed out, on Inauguration Day, the new president was the beneficiary of rapidly increasing injections of amazingly effective Covid vaccines. An already growing economy could only go into overdrive with the spreading Immunity. Momentum was in place to carry us forward with zero input from the Biden team. All Biden had to do was sit back and enjoy the ride. Later in the year, when the memory of the Trump administration had faded, he could take credit for the good times. In any case, a good economy always helps the incumbent Administration.

Instead of preparing a carrot and stick program to overcome the vaccine reluctance the UK had experienced, the Administration has sent mixed messages from the J & J vaccine to the current mask advisories. This confusion is playing havoc with people’s ability to plan for the future. These puzzling missives are spilling into our economy.

The government reported the economy grew at 6.4% rather than the expected 8.4%—quite a miss. Further, unemployment claims rose by a surprising amount. A growing fear of the Delta variant has contributed to investment and hiring hesitancy.

The Administration’s almost $2 billion Covid stimuli extending generous unemployment insurance and adding childcare payments with no work requirement has kept many from returning to work. Lack of workers restricts supply. All that money is floating around, goosing demand while we aren’t producing goods. We already have supply dislocations coming out of the pandemic. All this has led to the classic scenario “too much money chasing too few goos,” for inflation.

Misreading or ignoring of data led to the present disappointments and threatened further damage. It is essential to get out ahead of the fear and confusion. When the trepidation comes from the top, it gets quickly out of hand. On ABC New York, they are looking at the possibility of 4,000 deaths a day in the fall. This prediction is wildly improbable. How can I say this? It’s because I look at what is happening. India, where the Delta Variant originated, had a big spike. The UK, which is a few weeks ahead of us in vaccinations, has significantly increased cases. However, both have topped out::

Instead of growing out of control, the virus appears to be running out of potential victims. Shots in the arm and natural Immunity have narrowed its opportunities. Is this going to happen here? Very likely.

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