There’s No Such Thing as an Accurate Public Opinion Poll

Posted: 8th May 2015 by AUDIOMIND
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polls

Suppose I wanted to claim that almost all Americans favor lower taxes on the rich. How would I show this? Easy, conduct a public opinion poll asking what the highest income tax rate should be. Here’s an example from 2012:

Three-quarters of likely voters believe the nation’s top earners should pay lower, not higher, tax rates, according to a new poll for The Hill.The big majority opted for a lower tax bill when asked to choose specific rates; precisely 75 percent said the right level for top earners was 30 percent or below.

The current rate for top earners is 35 percent. Only 4 percent thought it was appropriate to take 40 percent, which is approximately the level that President Obama is seeking from January 2013 onward.

Of course today the top income tax rate is 43.4% at the federal level, and over 50% in states like New York and California. Very few people favor taxes that high.

Now suppose I favored much higher taxes on the rich, how would I show that voters agree with me? Easy, conduct a public opinion poll and ask whether we should impose heavy taxes on the rich, for purposes of income redistribution:

Since 1998, Gallup has asked Americans whether they believe the government should “redistribute wealth by heavy taxes on the rich.” This year, 52 percent agreed, tying the all-time high set in 2013. While there’s plenty of disagreement about who exactly counts as “rich,” a bare majority of the country seems to think we should be soaking them. (I couldn’t agree more.)

Notice that Slate reporter Jordan Weissmann cites the poll he agrees with and not the one he doesn’t agree with. For myself, I rarely trust any poll, especially on complex public policy issues, because the answer entirely depends on how it’s framed. Indeed, it’s even worse than you might think. It’s not a question of finding the public’s “true beliefs,” as there is no such thing. Trying to find true beliefs is like trying to nail jello to the wall. You can change opinion by simply asking a question. (Insert Heisenberg Uncertainty analogy here.) Thus, if you asked people if they’d rather spend $4 million executing a killer or $2 million on life imprisonment, the simple reporting of the relative costs might sway people against the death penalty, as most now assume the death penalty is cheaper. They’d learn something merely by listening to the question and that would affect their opinion.

If you say we should ask the most basic question possible, untainted by any information that might sway opinion, then you are asking for the most ignorant views of the public. Is that what you want—pure untainted ignorance?

In any case, public opinion polls don’t matter and are rarely accurate in providing fact. The point is not to measure public opinion, the goal is to change and manipulate it.

You’re Either A Cop or Little People

Posted: 9th April 2015 by AUDIOMIND
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US Constitution - We The People

“You’re either a cop or little people.”—Police captain Harry Bryant in Blade Runner

For those of us who have managed to survive 2014 and part of 2015 with our lives intact and our freedoms hanging by a thread, it has been quite a spectacle of crackdowns, clampdowns, shutdowns, showdowns, shootdowns, standdowns, knockdowns, putdowns, breakdowns, lockdowns, takedowns, slowdowns, meltdowns, and never-ending letdowns.

We’ve been held up, stripped down, faked out, photographed, frisked, fracked, hacked, tracked, cracked, intercepted, accessed, spied on, zapped, mapped, searched, shot at, tasered, tortured, tackled, trussed up, tricked, lied to, labeled, libeled, leered at, shoved aside, saddled with debt not of our own making, sold a bill of goods about national security, tuned out by those representing us, tossed aside, and taken to the cleaners.

We’ve had our children burned by flashbang grenades, our dogs shot, and our old folks hospitalized after “accidental” encounters with marauding SWAT teams. We’ve been told that as citizens we have no rights within 100 miles of our own border, now considered “Constitution-free zones.” We’ve had our faces filed in government databases, our biometrics crosschecked against criminal databanks, and our consumerist tendencies catalogued for future marketing overtures.

We’ve been given the runaround on government wrongdoing, starting with President Obama’s claim that the National Security Agency has never abused its power to spy on Americans’ phone calls and emails. All the while, the NSA has been racing to build a supercomputer that could break through “every kind of encryption used to protect banking, medical, business and government records around the world.” Despite the fact that the NSA’s domestic surveillance program has been shown to be ineffective at preventing acts of terrorism, the agency continues to vacuum up almost 200 million text messages a day.

We’ve seen the police transformed from community peacekeepers to point guards for the militarized corporate state. From Boston to Ferguson and every point in between, police have pushed around, prodded, poked, probed, scanned, shot and intimidated the very individuals—we the taxpayers—whose rights they were hired to safeguard. Networked together through fusion centers, police have surreptitiously spied on our activities and snooped on our communications, using hi-tech devices provided by the Department of Homeland Security.

We’ve been deemed suspicious for engaging in such dubious activities as talking too long on a cell phone and stretching too long before jogging, dubbed extremists and terrorists forcriticizing the government and suggesting it is tyrannical or oppressive, and subjected toforced colonoscopies and anal probes for allegedly rolling through a stop sign.

We’ve been arrested for all manner of “crimes” that never used to be considered criminal, let alone uncommon or unlawful, behavior: letting our kids walk to the playground alone, giving loose change to a homeless man, feeding the hungry, and living off the grid.

We’ve been sodomized, victimized, jeopardized, demoralized, traumatized, stigmatized, vandalized, demonized, polarized and terrorized, often without having done anything to justify such treatment. Blame it on a government mindset that renders us guilty before we’ve even been charged, let alone convicted, of any wrongdoing. In this way, law-abiding individuals have had their homes mistakenly raided by SWAT teams that got the address wrong. One accountant found himself at the center of a misguided police standoff after surveillance devices confused his license plate with that of a drug felon.

We’ve been railroaded into believing that our votes count, that we live in a democracy, that elections make a difference, that it matters whether we vote Republican or Democrat, and that our elected officials are looking out for our best interests. Truth be told, we live in an oligarchy, politicians represent only the profit motives of the corporate state, whose leaders know all too well that there is no discernible difference between red and blue politics, because there is only one color that matters in politics—green.

We’ve gone from having privacy in our inner sanctums to having nowhere to hide, with smart pills that monitor the conditions of our bodies, homes that spy on us (with smart meters that monitor our electric usage and thermostats and light switches that can be controlled remotely) and cars that listen to our conversations and track our whereabouts. Even our cities have become wall-to-wall electronic concentration camps, with police now able to record hi-def video of everything that takes place within city limits.

We’ve had our schools locked down, our students handcuffed, shackled and arrested for engaging in childish behavior such as food fights, our children’s biometrics stored, their school IDs chipped, their movements tracked, and their data bought, sold and bartered for profit by government contractors, all the while they are treated like criminals and taught to march in lockstep with the police state.

We’ve been rendered enemy combatants in our own country, denied basic due process rights, held against our will without access to an attorney or being charged with a crime, and left to molder in jail until such a time as the government is willing to let us go or allow us to defend ourselves.

We’ve had the very military weapons we funded with our hard-earned tax dollars used against us, from unpiloted, weaponized drones tracking our movements on the nation’s highways and byways and armored vehicles, assault rifles, sound cannons and grenade launchers in towns with little to no crime to an arsenal of military-grade weapons and equipment given free of charge to schools and universities.

We’ve been silenced, censored and forced to conform, shut up in free speech zones, gagged by hate crime laws, stifled by political correctness, muzzled by misguided anti-bullying statutes, and pepper sprayed for taking part in peaceful protests.

We’ve been shot by police for reaching for a license during a traffic stop, reaching for a baby during a drug bust, carrying a toy sword down a public street, and wearing headphones that hamper our ability to hear.

We’ve had our tax dollars spent on $30,000 worth of Starbucks for Dept. of Homeland Security employees, $630,000 in advertising to increase Facebook “likes” for the State Dept., and close to $25 billion to fund projects ranging from the silly to the unnecessary, such as laughing classes for college students and programs teaching monkeys to play video games and gamble.

We’ve been treated like guinea pigs, targeted by the government and social media for psychological experiments on how to manipulate the masses. We’ve been tasered for talking back to police, tackled for taking pictures of police abuses, and threatened with jail time for invoking our rights. We’ve even been arrested by undercover cops stationed in public bathrooms who interpret men’s “shaking off” motions after urinating to be acts of lewdness.

We’ve had our possessions seized and stolen by law enforcement agencies looking to cash in on asset forfeiture schemes, our jails privatized and used as a source of cheap labor for megacorporations, our gardens smashed by police seeking out suspicious-looking marijuana plants, and our buying habits turned into suspicious behavior by a government readily inclined to view its citizens as terrorists.

We’ve had our cities used for military training drills, with Black Hawk helicopters buzzing the skies, Urban Shield exercises overtaking our streets, and active shooter drills wreaking havoc on unsuspecting bystanders in our schools, shopping malls and other “soft target” locations.

We’ve been told that national security is more important than civil liberties, that police dogs’ noses are sufficient cause to carry out warrantless searches, that the best way not to get raped by police is to “follow the law,” that what a police officer says in court will be given preferenceover what video footage shows, that an upright posture and acne are sufficient reasons for a cop to suspect you of wrongdoing, that police can stop and search a driver based solely on an anonymous tip, and that police officers have every right to shoot first and ask questions later if they feel threatened.

Now there are those who still insist that they are beyond the reach of the police state because they have done nothing wrong and have nothing to fear. To those sanctimonious few, secure in their delusions, let this be a warning: the danger posed by the American police state applies equally to all of us: lawbreaker and law abider alike, black and white, rich and poor, liberal, libertarian and conservative, blue collar and white collar, and any other distinction you’d care to trot out.

The lesson is simply this: in a police state, you’re either a cop or you’re one of the little people. Right now, we are the little people, the servants, the serfs, the grunts who must obey without question or suffer the consequences.

If there is to be any hope in 2015-2016 for restoring our freedoms and reclaiming our runaway government, we will have to start by breathing life into those three powerful words that set the tone for everything that follows in the Constitution: “We the People.”

It’s time to stop waiting patiently for change to happen and, as Gandhi once advised, be the change you want to see in the world.

Get mad, get outraged, get off your duff and get out of your house, get in the streets, get in people’s faces, get down to your local city council, get over to your local school board, get your thoughts down on paper, get your objections plastered on protest signs, get your neighbors, friends and family to join their voices to yours, get your representatives to pay attention to your grievances, get your kids to know their rights, get your local police to march in lockstep with the Constitution, get your media to act as watchdogs for the people and not lapdogs for the corporate state, get your act together, and get your house in order.

In other words, get moving. Time is growing short, and the police state is closing in. Power to the people!

Police Wellness Call on 74 Year Old Man in Gastonia NC Leaves Him Dead Instead

Posted: 11th February 2015 by AUDIOMIND
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James Allen

A North Carolina family asked Gastonia police to check in on a family member who was recovering from surgery. In an ideal world, this would be a wonderful service to be performed by police with a grateful community that would offer them thanks.

Unfortunately, these notions have nothing to do with the business model of modern day policing, which does not serve those it views as its enemy. Indeed, although it might be the public that helps keep the coffers full by various means, it is a public still viewed as the number one threat by the police who benefit from them – by various means.

By that concept, it should come as no surprise that the older man they were called out to check on was the very one they senselessly killed that day.

This past Saturday afternoon, the family asked for a welfare check on 74-year-old James Howard Allen, a Korean War veteran, as he was recovering from heart surgery. The officer first visited the house that night at 10:20 p.m. with no answer.

So of course the next line of action would be for Gastonia police to gather the fire department emergency medical services to bust into the home at 11:30 p.m. The chief said Officer Josh Lefevers announced himself before going into the back door and the officer alleges that Allen was pointing a gun.

With no-hesitation shooting tactics police are repetitively instructed with to ensure threats are eliminated immediately (especially unarmed family pets), one wonders of Allen was ever “challenged to lower the gun down” as the chief insists. “The gun was pointed in the direction of the officers and a shot was fired that fatally wounded him.” This vague but carefully crafted sentence was designed to paint a showdown with the officer having no other choice but self-defense from the gun that was pointed in their direction. (Also note the passivity – “a shot was fired that fatally wounded him.”)

Actually, it was three shots in order to kill, not a random shot that made its way around the room and happened to “wound” Allen.The grieving family and friends who want real answers, did not use such word-painting as they view what happened entirely differently. They see a natural response to an aggressive break-in, and are angered that another solution wasn’t sought first.Allen’s brother-in-law said:

(He) probably woke up, someone’s breaking in on me, so when you’re by yourself you try to protect yourself.

Allen’s friend related that he would have had the same reaction and said:

You kicked the man’s door in. He’s disoriented and he’s in his own house, privacy of his own home.

Years of television programming complete with increasing terroristic stories like these serve the purpose of training the public that they have no rights, especially none regarding self-defense. It’s reported in a way that holds the officer as needing self-defense from a threat – after breaking into someone’s home at night. Not many people question this narrative, but instead will say “oh, he had a gun” or “the cop had no other choice.” Very rarely will they consider that the whole situation didn’t have to happen and certainly did not need that level of escalation.

One neighbor, however, asked a pertinent question:

The thing I questioned is why make a wellness call at midnight?

While the N.C. State Bureau of Investigation will be looking into it, the typical standard for such situations is to simply put the officer on paid administrative leave for awhile.