I noticed something interesting in the recent British election in which Boris Johnson came out the majority winner. To put it in context, remember that the media all reported the race as too close to call, with Johnson’s party coming out with a plurality, resulting in a minority government.
The night of the election, the exit polling showed a smashing win for Johnson’s Conservatives, with a projected majority of 384 seats, and a smashing defeat for the previously reported polls. The British media reporting on the win projected that the final tally may not be 384, but that the particular poll in question had never been off by more than 15 seats and it was reliable to assume the majority would hold near 384.
Well, it didn’t. The final tally was 365. This is still a Conservative victory, but the media has cruised right on by the fact that their revered, never-wrong-by-15 poll was wrong by 19 – a greater-than 20 percent error.
This is significant. In today’s hyper-politically charged atmosphere, I think this fact is worth noting, as it goes to audience manipulation by the media. To be clear about media, I am one, have been for a while, and know what I’m saying.
The fact is, media outlets run on ads and ads run on audience. No audience hangs around to hear the end of a foregone race. It’s like last Sunday’s Kansas City Chiefs v. Chicago Bears game where people leave in the 4th when the score hit 23 to 3. Life’s demands are pressing, and this one’s done.
So, it is in the media’s interests to create political drama to keep people’s attention from wandering off.
Concurrently, politicians need to advertise where the audience’s attention is focused, and they spend millions of dollars and spread the spend over years, so you have millions of ad dollars in play, a contentious political environment and a handful of national news outlets competing for their share of the millions.
Along come the polls. You may recall the 2016 election. I sent out an e-letter the morning of the election pointing out that I thought, despite every poll showing a landslide victory for Clinton, that there was something wrong in the polling reports, and I called a Trump win. I am not a cheerleader. I also do not have a history of making wrong calls. I did, however, have enough confidence in my sources and the way I read them that I called the election correctly, and was very lonely in that prediction until about 1:00 the next morning.
Does this mean I’m some kind of super-pundit? Not at all. It does, however, mean I have a great deal of skepticism about what the media is up to with its reporting, I watch other sources and I make sure I am educated about markets. At this point, I guess the upshot is that the credibility of polls is very suspicious, and it appears they are being manipulated by the media to generate excitement between the two parties as if they are each some kind of sports team, with the media being the beneficiary in both sports and politics.
And the kicker is, even if the press is acting totally outside the facts and is doing so for money and fame, there is essentially nothing we can do about it. The press is protected.
Another thing I am concerned about it is the manner the House has conducted its “impeachment” proceeding against Trump. If we take off our blue or red jerseys and just look at the facts, they seem to be concerning.
For example, take the existence or non-existence of the “whistleblower.” The lawmakers and pundits are crawling all over the concept of whistleblower like a colony of ants. “Can we call him? Should we call him? Is he protected? Should he be protected…..” Endless.
A better question, it seems to me, is, “What if the whistleblower is actually Christopher Steele, Adam Schiff, Rod Rosenstein or James Comey?” If it is, then anonymity would work against the people.
I was a whistleblower, once. I was working my way through college and ended up repossessing furniture for a rent-to-own scam – er, company. I was also working with the county attorney. The outfit in question was doing stuff like letting a customer miss a payment early in the contract, letting them pay out the (outrageous) contract, then invoking the repo clause based on a late payment months or years earlier. This, by the way, is the contractual essence of the Whitewater scam that the Clintons were involved in.
Anyway, I thought I found a violation, reported it to the county attorney, the managers were listening in and I got fired. There was no protection for whistleblowers, then, and I was both happy to take the risk and happy to get fired.
The point is, from my perspective a whistleblower should be operating based on his or her own moral convictions and, as Henry David Thoreau pointed out in his seminal Civil Disobedience, should be willing to bear the cost of his or her actions. I can understand that people don’t want to lose a job, but if the protection of a few leads to an anonymous shadow from which to shoot people in the back, then any virtue intended in the protections is lost.
I’m not saying I think Comey or Rosenstein wrote the whistleblower report. I AM saying there is something rotten when Schiff first says he doesn’t know the whistleblower, then he does; will certainly call the whistleblower, then does not. We are not idiots and we are owed the right to know what our elected representatives are doing. And why.
It was painful to see Joe Biden attack an 85-year-old Democrat supporter in Iowa. Biden called him old and fat, and challenged him a push-up contest or IQ test. I can’t do push-ups because of a back surgery, but I’d like a piece of that IQ action. I may not be the sharpest knife in the block, but I would be happy to expose my score to the world simply for the privilege of holding one of these guys to account. Biden may be as smart as he thinks he is, but I have my doubts, and it would be interesting to us all to see.
So with that, we head into Christmas, 2019. What a year it’s been. It appears Trump and China have patched things up between them, but it remains to be seen what the outcome will be for secondary wood products in America. I’m thinking it will be good, with some imports from China getting back on track, and with increased costs of compliance and more accountability for China. The essence of a deal is something for both parties.
For those of us at Wood Industry US, we continue to believe in the ultimate good of mankind, the inherent failings of us all and the chance, if we take it, of making things right on our side of the street. My special thanks to Nicholl Spence at NS Graphic and Web Design, Mike Edwards at Edwards Media and Design, our never-slow-down associate publisher, Stephen King, all our associates in the world of circulation auditing, database management, IT and printing, and, of course, my faithful, loving and ever-attentive wife and partner, Lee Ann.
Merry Christmas from all of us to you and yours.