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Snark

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from David Daley in Salon, Camille Paglia takes on Jon Stewart, Trump, Sanders: “Liberals think of themselves as very open-minded, but that’s simply not true!”

excerpt:

I think Stewart’s show demonstrated the decline and vacuity of contemporary comedy. I cannot stand that smug, snarky, superior tone. I hated the fact that young people were getting their news through that filter of sophomoric snark.  Comedy, to me, is one of the major modern genres, and the big influences on my generation were Lenny Bruce and Mort Sahl. Then Joan Rivers had an enormous impact on me–she’s one of my major role models.  It’s the old caustic, confrontational style of Jewish comedy. It was Jewish comedians who turned stand-up from the old gag-meister shtick of vaudeville into a biting analysis of current social issues, and they really pushed the envelope.  Lenny Bruce used stand-up to produce gasps and silence from the audience. And that’s my standard–a comedy of personal risk.  And by that standard, I’m sorry, but Jon Stewart is not a major figure. He’s certainly a highly successful T.V. personality, but I think he has debased political discourse.  I find nothing incisive in his work.  As for his influence, if he helped produce the hackneyed polarization of moral liberals versus evil conservatives, then he’s partly at fault for the political stalemate in the United States.

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Politics as Performance Art

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from David Daley in Salon, Camille Paglia takes on Jon Stewart, Trump, Sanders: “Liberals think of themselves as very open-minded, but that’s simply not true!”

excerpt:

Politics has always been performance art.  So we’ll see who the candidates are who can think on their feet.  That’s certainly how I succeeded in the early 1990s.  Before that, the campus thought police could easily disrupt visiting speakers who came with a prepared speech to read.  But they couldn’t disrupt me, because I had studied comedy and did improv!  The great comedians knew how to deal with hecklers in the audience.  I loved to counterattack!  Protestors were helpless when the audiences laughed.

So what I’m saying is that the authentic 1960s were about street theater–chaos, spontaneity, caustic humor. And Trump actually has it!  He does better comedy than most professional comedians right now, because we’re in this terrible period where the comedians do their tours with canned jokes. They go from place to place, saying the same list of jokes in the same way.  But the old vaudevillians had 5,000 jokes stored in their heads. They went out there and responded to that particular audience on that particular night.  They had to read the crowd and try out what worked or didn’t work.

Our politicians, like our comedians, have been boring us with their canned formulas for way too long.  So that’s why Donald Trump has suddenly leapt in the polls.  He’s a great stand-up comedian. He’s anti-PC–he’s not afraid to say things that are rude and mean.  I think he’s doing a great service for comedy as well as for politics!

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The Myth of Unbiased Journalism

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From The National Review, There Is No Such Thing as Unbiased Journalism, So Let’s Stop Pretending by David Harsanyi

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If Stephanopoulos had disclosed his charitable giving beforehand, rather than press Schweizer on his past partisanship, he could have asked him: “Listen, I gave money to this foundation, too. I’m a huge fan of the work it does on AIDS and deforestation and working with corrupt Middle Eastern regimes, and I think the entire mission is simply fantastic. What proof do you have that there was a quid pro quo by me or anyone else?”

That would be far more compelling and informative television. Questions are questions, after all. And your outlook doesn’t change their legitimacy.

Read more at: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/418756/there-no-such-thing-unbiased-journalism-so-lets-stop-pretending-david-harsanyi

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Is Stephanopoulis a Hypocrite?

from The National Review VIctor Davis Hanson writes George Stephanopoulos’s Clinton Foundation Hypocrisy Is Staggering

excerpt:

When he attacked Schweizer for a supposed conflict of interest in having been a Bush speechwriter for four months, he assumed that his own much longer tenure as a war-room political flak for Bill Clinton could never impinge on his own objectivity — much less provide the context for his recent donations to the Clinton family foundation.

RELATED: Clinton Campaign Relied on Stephanopoulos for Its Clinton Cash Fact Check

After all, there are plenty of other charities concerned with AIDS and deforestation to help out. (At least Stephanopoulos did not suggest that he was interested in Haitian relief or Kazakhstani internal development.) And the vast majority of charities surely do not skim 90 percent off the top for travel and overhead expenses, as the Foundation does according to news reports. Routing $75,000 to these worthy causes via the Clintons might have meant that the charities ended up with ten cents on the dollar, or about $7,500 of Stephanopoulos’s money to divide up among them. Had he consulted various adjudicators of charity performance, he could have easily learned that giving to something run by Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton was not a very efficient way of saving trees and helping those infected with HIV.

Read more at: http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/418473/george-stephanopouloss-clinton-foundation-hypocrisy-staggering-victor-davis-hanson

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Why Are Polls So Wrong?

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From Bloomberg Megan McArdle writes Pollsters Are Worse Than Ever

excerpts:

I won’t opine on What It All Means. But let’s talk about the surprise factor: The polls were wrong. And as Nate Silver points out, this seems to be a troubling trend, not just in Britain, but around the world. The polls on the Scottish independence referendum were way off. So were the ones that missed the Republican sweep in the 2014 midterms. Israel’s pre-election and exit polls both missed Likud’s solid victory.

We’ve always known that polls had problems. You can get very different answers depending on how you ask the question, as “Yes, Prime Minister” effectively dramatized. Sampling problems arise when people who don’t get chosen for the poll, or refuse to respond, are systematically different from the rest of the population. (This is how the infamous “Dewey Defeats Truman” headline happened.) Even with problems, however, polls remain useful — as long as you keep those problems in mind.

I’ve seen a lot written today about how this shows the need to fix polling. I’ve seen few people asking what seems like the more pertinent question: What if polls can’t be fixed?

Glenn Reynolds comments on the article at Instapundit that demonization of the right by the dominance of media and polling organizations may solicit false polling data.  This would lead to distorted feedback loop that makes news media even less accurate: creating polls that are distorted by an atmosphere created by the media that conducts and reports the poll.

I would contend that polls too often direct questions to a short term outcome dismissing reasons underlying the response.  Racial and gender stereotypes weigh too heavy in analysis when income and other profiles tell a better and more accurate story.

more on this line of thought from National Review’s John Fund, Conservative Voters Give Pollsters Politically Correct Answers . . . and Then They Vote

Silver came up with various explanations for the errors, noting first of all that voters are becoming harder to contact, so pollsters rely less on direct contact and more on online questionnaires. Some of those online polls abandon probability sampling, the bedrock of polling methodology. In addition, he also observed that “some pollsters have been caught withholding results when they differ from other surveys, ‘herding’ toward a false consensus about a race instead of behaving independently.”

I’m not sure that’s the case, but even if it is, the problem of people giving politically correct responses to pollsters isn’t confined to Britain. As Nate Silver concluded, “Polls, in the U.K. and in other places around the world, appear to be getting worse as it becomes more challenging to contact a representative sample of voters.”

Read more at: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/418172/conservative-voters-give-pollsters-politically-correct-answers-and-then-they-vote