Jon Cazares

Jon Cazares

Well, we know how most of this story plays out in the media. Liberals laugh at anything conservatives say. Conservatives laugh at anything liberals say. And none of that gets us closer to the truth. So, I thought I would try and round up simple facts. The who, what, when and where. As to the “why,” well - we don’t know exactly why some of these things happened. I’ll let you speculate. 

A timeline: 

More than a week before the infamous Trump / Ukraine phone call in question, the U.S. President froze almost $400 million dollars in military aid to Ukraine. The reason? The White House claims they were reviewing where the military aid goes, as there have been concerns about corruption within the Ukraine government; and questioning the level of support from other countries. As in, “If no one else is giving Ukraine military aid, why should we?” 

Okay. Fair enough. The problem is that, despite pressure from the Ukraine asking the reasonable, “Why are you delaying military aid? We seriously need it,” the WH did not respond to Ukraine. 

Which leads to the phone call. At this point, Trump has cut off military aid to Ukraine and has not given the Ukrainian government an explanation for doing so. This is the first time the two Presidents have spoken and the first time the President, or any from the State Department, has discussed military aid with Ukraine - since the freeze. 

In an unclassified rough transcript of the call, the two Presidents, on speaker phone with approx. 30 other people in the oval office listening in, exchange pleasantries for a while. Then President Trump says: 

“... I will say that we do ·a lot for Ukraine. We spend a lot of effort and a lot of time. Much more than the European countries are doing and they should be helping you more than they are. Germany does almost nothing for you. All they do is talk and I think it's something that you should ·really ask them about. When I was speaking to Angela Merkel she talks (about?) Ukraine, but she doesn't do anything. A lot of the European countries are the. same way, so I think it's something you want to look at but the United States has been very very good to Ukraine. I wouldn't say that it's reciprocal necessarily because things are happening that are not good but the United States has been very very good to Ukraine.”

Then Zelensky says:

 “I would also like to thank you for your great support in the area of defense. We are ready to cooperate for the next steps … ready to buy more Javelin (missiles) from the United States for defense purposes.”

And Trump says, “I would like you to do us a favor, though …” 

At that point President Trump asks Zelensky to investigate Hunter Biden, the son of his chief political rival, Joe Biden. You see, Biden’s son, Hunter, was on the board of directors for Burisma, a Ukrainian gas company while the company was under investigation for some undisclosed reason. 

Trump says about that:  

"There's a lot of talk about Biden's son, that Biden stopped the persecution and a lot of people want to find out about that so whatever you can do with the attorney general would be great. Biden went around bragging that he stopped the prosecution so if you can look into it. ... It sounds horrible to me."

So, to be clear and from my understanding of “the investigation,” it seems as if there was an investigation into Burisma for - something. And the prosecutor in charge of the investigation was removed and replaced with another prosecutor. Which is what President Trump is referring to when he says, “Biden (Joe) stopped the persecution…”   Implying the first prosecutor was on to something ... and Joe Biden used his power and influence and had him removed in order to protect his son, Hunter. 

The phone call ends with the President of Ukraine basically saying that yes, we’ll help you in any way we can. 

Then, according to multiple White House aids, and per the Whistleblowers allegations, WH lawyers “directed” aids to remove the transcript from the computer system and place it into a separate system designed for “sensitive intelligence.” This would seal the transcript and prevent it from getting out to the public. 

Enter the Whistleblower. After hearing about the phone call from multiple sources the Whistleblower wrote to the chairman of Senate Committees on August 12th, expressing “concern over Mr. Trump’s phone call with the Ukrainian President,” calling it an abuse of power and broke down a detailed analysis of the subsequent cover up / lock down of phone call / transcripts because - everyone in the room knew what the President of the U.S. had just said and done was illegal.  

The story broke in the Wall Street Journal on September 21st

President Trump and his personal lawyer Rudi Giuliani at first denied the story, but then confessed on camera that both did indeed pressure the Ukrainian President to investigate the son of Trump’s chief political rival. So, it’s clearly a true story. 

Then, the transcript of the phone call in question was released confirming the vast majority of the Whistleblower's initial testimony. 

Then, Nancy Pelosi said, “We’re moving forward with an official impeachment inquiry.” 

Then, no one has been able to find any wrong doing with Hunter Biden during his tenure with the gas company in question and even the Ukrainian prosecutor himself, the one who was investigating Hunter Biden’s gas company came out and said, “We investigated Hunter Biden and he didn’t violate any laws.”

And now we’re finding out that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was also on the July 25th phone call with the Ukrainian President which is not exactly what WH officials have told the media. Pompeo is now being subpoenaed for not turning over information and documents pertaining to the call. As are many, many others including AG William Barr and Rudy Guilianni. 

Okay. So what does this all mean? 

Well, first of all, if you’re the President of the U.S. and you withhold aid to a foreign power and use those frozen assets as leverage to pressure said foreign power to investigate a political rival of yours then …  you’ve probably just broken multiple federal law. Which would make it an impeachable offence. 

Now, you can say, “But what the President did wasn’t THAT big of a deal - so I don’t care if it’s illegal.” 

Fair enough. You are entitled to that opinion. 

But … despite that opinion, it very well might be illegal and it might be a gross misuse of power. Either way, an investigation into the matter is - a totally reasonable way to handle this!  

Remember, “impeachment” does not mean “remove from office.” Impeachment means, “put the President on trial.” Perhaps the President will be removed from office, perhaps not. Bill Clinton was impeached, as in - he was put on trial. As you know, he was not removed from office despite Ken Starr running the most costly federal trial in history costing American taxpayers $70 million.

So, the impeachment inquiry is moving forward. 

A new poll from CNN shows Republican support for Impeachment Inquiry is climbing. Even Hilary Clinton weighed in. (Which, please, Hilary - for the love of God - please shut up and go away before you lose the Democrats another election that you won’t even be in!). 

Like it or hate it, the impeachment inquiry is rapidly moving forward for legitimate reasons. But, that doesn’t really mean that anything will come of it. Or, even if it does go to an impeachment trial, that doesn’t mean much will come of that, either. 

It’s only just the beginning.

 

Monday, 23 September 2019 20:12

Movie Pass goes "the way of the dodo."

Last week parent company Helios and Matheson hammered the final nails into the MoviePass coffin. For those who do not know, briefly - MoviePass was a monthly subscription plan that offered users to see one movie per day for approx. $10 per month. That means you could see up to 31 movies per month - for $10. Now, it was like a Mastercard backed debit card with MoviePass loading money onto your card in order to pay full price for your ticket. But since you’ve already paid the monthly or yearly subscription cost - you don’t owe any more money. You pay approx. $10 per month to see, let’s say - six movies. But MoviePass loaded FULL PRICE cost on your card to cover the ticket. So, while MoviePass paid approx. $70+ to cover the cost of your six movies, it only recouped $10 from you. Which, as we all like to say, “Sounds too good to be true.” 

But, it wasn’t. It wasn’t sustainable … but it was true! I bought the yearly MoviePass subscription for about $85 plus a one time sign up free for $20. And in the year I used Movie Pass I saw forty two movies. Which means I paid about $2.5 per movie. So, I happen to know that MoviePass was legit. 

That being said, the deal was too good to be sustainable without additional revenue support because, as you can see, MoviePass lost a lot of money on me alone. You multiply that by the 3 million subscribers they had and you can understand why MoviePass was posting $170 million losses per quarter. 

But they had a plan to make money - try to get the theater chains to give them a very, very small percentage of the box office but mainly - the concessions. Theater chains make the majority of their money selling you popcorn and soda.  MoviePass was trying to show the chains, “Look, about ten percent of moviegoers come to your theater chain and use MoviePass. Don’t you see how important that is? We could just tell them to take their business to another chain. Don’t you think you should give us say, 1% of your concession sales?” 

It was a fine plan. But all the theater chains said, “Nope.” 

But MoviePass had more plans. Produce their own movies and profit off them. But they disastrously chose Gotti, a John Travolta nightmare of a film which has, um - a 0% rating on rotten tomatoes. I’ve never seen a movie get worse ratings. MoviePass lost a ton of money on that film. 

So that plan didn’t work for MoviePass either. But hey, they still had three million subscribers - they must be able to do something with them, right? 

Well, MoviePass made wrong choice after wrong choice when, in an attempt to lower the amount of money they were burning each month put all sorts of minor restrictions on subscribers - restricting repeat views, ticket verification, blocking out some new blockbusters, then only offering a few movies to choose from each week. Then reverting all of those changes and going back to “See whatever movie you want whenever you want” but … we’re raising the price. 

Basically, their subscribers lost all faith in MoviePass and bailed en’ mass. I stayed until the end of my one year contract but, to be honest, I was only able to see a single movie in the last two months of my subscription because of the restrictions MoviePass put on accounts. 

So, I didn’t renew. And they didn’t ask me to. We parted company about six months ago. And now they’re gone. MoviePass certainly was a bold plan and people certainly liked their initial idea so much that lots of other folks noticed and now there are all sorts of rival plans out there, but they are usually restricted to a specific theater chain. So, for example: the AMC card only works at … well, AMC chains. And that’s what made MoviePass unique. It was a Mastercard that you could use anywhere that accepted Mastercard which means it was highly accessible. 

In the end though, MoviePass was just managed poorly. Too many poor choices, too many subscription changes, too many partnerships with other companies that always felt more like a “get rich quick with this partnership” scheme and not an actual legitimate partnership that was going to help MoviePass in the long run. I’ve also recently found out that the guy who took over Helios and Matheson, and therefore MoviePass, was a man named Ted Farnsworth. And, Mr. Farnsworth has lawsuits and failed companies trailing behind him a mile long. 

According to theverge.com

“Mr. Farnsworth … been sued numerous times, according to the Miami Herald, and he found his way into a chief executive role after years spent racking up legal disputes in Florida, related in some cases to real estate investments and other inscrutable financial dealings. The Herald reports that Farnsworth has registered more than 50 companies over the last 30 years, a majority of which have shuttered.”

MoviePass may have been doomed before it even had a chance to thrive. But still, it was a great nine month run for MoviePass ... and then it wasn't.  

This really does need to be seen to be fully appreciated. The Performing Arts Crew Dance Team (PAC) at Walden Grove High School in Sahuarita, Ariz., have struck dancing viral gold (again) with their Avengers themed homecoming pep rally dance which they performed Friday Sept. 6th. (Video linked to the front page and at the bottom of this page). 

I had never heard of these kids until today when I saw the Avengers video. Immediately after I finished I was thinking, “Hmmm. What else have these kids done?” I was not disappointed because as it turns out, this is not their first rodeo. In 2018 PAC recreated the entire Harry Potter story through dance.  And of course, their super charming 2016 homage to Pixar. I guess they even made it to the quarterfinals of America’s Got Talent. Clearly, their dance program has their finger on the pulse of what high schoolers dig. 

Back to their current Avengers routine. Their dance covers the entire storyline of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) and it’s pretty detailed. It goes without saying that it’s also epic and awesome! Many, many times specific dancers are choreographed to dance the way their Marvel character reacts in combat. For example, the multiple “bow pulling” dance moves that the Hawkeye dancer recreates.  It’s all very well thought out and lovely. 

Kristi Lopez is one of the school’s coaches and choreographer of the routines told Yahoo Entertainment none of the students are trained dancers, but they practiced several hours a day, seven days a week for a few months. And while most of their videos have gone viral, the new Avengers dance has really exploded, amassing three million views in one week. 

It’s totally worth the seven minute watch.

Weird, but delightful news! Buck’s T-4 Lodge in Big Sky, Montana (about 45 minutes from Yellowstone National Park) had an uninvited guest wander into the motel and take a nap. A young black bear made his way into the ladies bathroom, climbed up on the sink and hung out for a while. In this case, “hung out” means, “took a huge dump.” Which is kind of hilarious. 

Staff tried their best to coax the bear out but the little bear that could was unfazed and opted to climb onto the sink and chill.  Apparently, staff had heard the bear banging around outside and one even saw him through the window but no one actually expected the bear to climb up an outside wall and slip through a window into the building - which is precisely what the crafty little guy did. Which is how he ended up in the bathroom - and that’s how he was stuck. He was unable to climb back out and obviously didn’t understand how to open a door. So he pretty much decided to just take a nap on the sink. 

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks officers were called in and had to tranquilize the bear but it sounds like the little guy was unharmed in the process and so officers picked up the sleeping bear and removed him from the hotel. Officers then checked his vitals and released him in a remote area of Montana.

Talk about "smarter than the average, bear!" 

I like this news. A lot. 

Facebook (which owns Instagram) will have a new feature for when a user searches for vaccine related content. The new feature in question pops open a window offering educational information about vaccines and will connect the user to either the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) if you are a US user and to the WHO (World Health Organization) if you are outside the US. This is all designed to tackle the rapidly spreading anti-vax movement that has single handedly brought back the measles with outbreaks in 31 states. The measles, a disease eradicated from the US in 2000! And it's back! 

Thanks, anti-vaxxers! =(

Well, FB is pushing against anti-medical science with their new educational pop up windows. 

Thanks, Facebook! =)

The full Facebook press release: 

We are working to tackle vaccine misinformation on Facebook by reducing its distribution and providing people with authoritative information on the topic. We are starting by taking a series of steps:

  • We will reduce the ranking of groups and Pages that spread misinformation about vaccinations in News Feed and Search. These groups and Pages will not be included in recommendations or in predictions when you type into Search.
  • When we find ads that include misinformation about vaccinations, we will reject them. We also removed related targeting options, like “vaccine controversies.” For ad accounts that continue to violate our policies, we may take further action, such as disabling the ad account.
  • We won’t show or recommend content that contains misinformation about vaccinations on Instagram Explore or hashtag pages.
  • We are exploring ways to share educational information about vaccines when people come across misinformation on this topic.
  • Update on April 26, 2019 at 10AM PT: We may also remove access to our fundraising tools for Pages that spread misinformation about vaccinations on Facebook.

How This Will Work

Leading global health organizations, such as the World Health Organization and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have publicly identified verifiable vaccine hoaxes. If these vaccine hoaxes appear on Facebook, we will take action against them.

For example, if a group or Page admin posts this vaccine misinformation, we will exclude the entire group or Page from recommendations, reduce these groups and Pages’ distribution in News Feed and Search, and reject ads with this misinformation.

We also believe in providing people with additional context so they can decide whether to read, share, or engage in conversations about information they see on Facebook. We are exploring ways to give people more accurate information from expert organizations about vaccines at the top of results for related searches, on Pages discussing the topic, and on invitations to join groups about the topic. We will have an update on this soon.

We are fully committed to the safety of our community and will continue to expand on this work.”

Monday, 02 September 2019 15:47

Labor Day weekend news round up

I don’t know about you but I was hoping to have a relaxing weekend of BBQ, beer and games. Instead, Hurricane Dorian was upgraded to a Category 5 and absolutely devastated the Bahamas. Dorian is expected to remain Category 5 and hit parts of Florida and Georgia but meteorologists hope a wind shift will push the hurricane a bit East and the two coasts will avoid the worst of the storm. 

Another mass shooting killing rampage happened, this time in West Texas. A 36 year old man was fired from his job and then, a few hours later started massacring citizens. At least 7 people were killed with another 20 wounded. It ended when police rammed the shooter’s vehicle and, as he tried to exit the stolen car, police shot him dead. 

A 75 foot boat called the Conception caught fire off the coast of Southern California. At least five people have been rescued but the ship was entirely ablaze and it looks unlikely rescuers will find other survivors. Approx. 30 people, maybe more, were on board. 

For thirteen weeks protestors in Hong Kong have been battle state authorities. That’s - thirteen weeks! Hong Kong is obviously a city in China but for more than a century it was a colony of the United Kingdom until 1997 when the British handed it back to China. The problem being is that Hong Kong still has a political and legal system based off British rule which is known as the Basic Law, and it guarantees freedoms that Chinse outside Hong Kong do not have. These include freedoms such as the right to a free press, free speech and the right to protest, etc. 

More about Hong Kong’s Basic Law, from wikipedia: 

  • All Hong Kong residents shall be equal before the law. Permanent residents of the HKSAR shall have the right to vote and the right to stand for election in accordance with law.
  • Hong Kong residents shall have, among other things, freedom of speech, freedom of the press and of publication; freedom of association, freedom of assembly, freedom of procession, of demonstration, of communication, of movement, of conscience, of religious belief, and of marriage; and the right and freedom to form and join trade unions, and to strike.
  • The freedom of the person of Hong Kong residents shall be inviolable. No Hong Kong resident shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful arrest, detention or imprisonment. Arbitrary or unlawful search of the body of any resident or deprivation or restriction of the freedom of the person shall be prohibited. Torture of any resident or arbitrary or unlawful deprivation of the life of any resident shall be prohibited.
  • The provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and international labour conventions as applied to Hong Kong shall remain in force and shall be implemented through the laws of the HKSAR.

Well, Beijing and the rest of China is pushing back against Basic Law and the citizens of Hong Kong are not having it. Hence the thirteen weeks of protests up to and including several violent clashes with police. 

Finally, the Amazon rainforests continue to burn and comedian / actor Kevin Hart was seriously injured in a car accident

Maybe next year I’ll be able to round up all sorts of heart warming stories that occurred Labor Day weekend but this year - not so much.

Friday, 30 August 2019 20:48

Hurricane Dorian upgraded to Category 3

Hurricane Dorian has been upgraded to a Category 3 and expected to hit the Florida coast on Monday. Upon landfall it will probably pick up enough additional wind force to upgrade to a Category 4. 

Florida is currently under a state of emergency and residents are preparing for the worst. These hurricanes keep coming and they seem to be more destructive and more costly. And why is that? Well, last year my co-worker wrote a strongly worded story titled “Hurricanes should blow climate deniers’ eyes, minds open.”  In it he writes:

“While I wish the best to all those affected by Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma, I also hope climate change deniers affected by the hurricanes realize their denial of climate change contributed to their current situation and will contribute to worse situations in the future.

Mother Earth is doing her best to convince climate denying Americans that global warming is no hoax and that people are responsible for the increasing instances and intensity of weather disasters. She started by flooding the Gulf Coast with category-three hurricane, Harvey, which AccuWeather predicts will cost America more than Hurricane Sandy and Hurricane Katrina combined.”

His story makes compelling arguments and he links to more than a dozen reputable sources and studies.  He wrote that more than one year ago and he was correct in predicting that this year the hurricanes would be much, much worse.

And they are. And now all we can do is rebuild and assist those that are in need. And we’ll probably have to do it again. And again. And again.

If you can, donate to the Red Cross.

This is a developing story and will continue to be updated. 

In the last year there have been more than 74,000 fires in Brazil which is approx. 80% more fires than the previous year. Eighty percent! Now, it’s true that Brazil is a large place and fires occur. Fair enough. What’s particularly out of the ordinary is that more than 50% of those fires are happening in the Amazon Rainforest.  Which is bad. Obviously, the rainforest is of huge import to local inhabitants but also is of significant import to the world as a leading supplier of fish, meat, root vegetables and fruit. And, it’s true that the rainforest does supply oxygen into the atmosphere but it’s not quite the “20% of the world’s oxygen comes from the Amazon,” as many recent new sites and celebrities claim. I’ll let National Geographic explain more about that in their recent, “Why the Amazon doesn’t really produce 20% of the world’s oxygen: Of the many important reasons to worry about the thousands of fires raging in the world’s largest rainforest, oxygen supply is not one of them.” 

So … why so many fires this year? 

Global warming perhaps, but it does seem that a lot of them are man made. “Slash and burn” deforestation, which is the practice of cutting down forests, drying the area out and then setting the area on fire in order to make room for … other things (but usually pastures for cattle as Brazil is one of, if not THE top exporter of beef) - is the main reason for the fires. And, as anyone with common sense and reason can tell you - sometimes even “controlled fires” get out of control. Hence the mess the Amazon is currently in. 

While it’s true that wildfires happen every year, this year there have been SO many wildfires in the Amazon that the G-7 even offered to assist. The G-7 being the Group of Seven, which is the international intergovernmental economic organization consisting of the seven largest IMF-described advanced economies in the world: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

So, the G-7 has the resources to assist but, in a really dumb plot twist, Jair Bolsonaro, the President of Brazil, said he would only accept aid from the G-7 -  if the President of France, Emmanuel Macron apologized to him. 

“Wait. What? Apologize to him? For what?” - Was my first thought. 

Well, I guess there was some social media stupidity that happened and fragile male egos were bruised. You see, on the public Facebook page of President Bolsonaro, a supporter posted a meme comparing the wives of the two men implying that the President of France was jealous that President Bolsonaro’s wife was, basically - younger and hotter, and then claimed Macron (of France) was jealous. 

BUT THEN - the Bolsonaro account responded to the post with, “Hah! Don’t humiliate the guy!”  

Which led President Macron (of France) to respond with: 

"He had extremely disrespectful comments towards my wife. What can I tell you? It's sad. It's sad for him and for Brazilians. I think that Brazilian women are probably ashamed to read that their president has done that. I think that Brazilians, a great people, are a bit ashamed of this behavior. As I have a lot of friendship and respect for the Brazilian people, I hope that they will quickly have a president who is up to the job."

Well, to be honest - that’s a pretty fair response but … as I previously mentioned - it sounds like Brazil’s President had his fragile male ego wounded which led him to turn down G-7 aid to help his burning rainforest unless the President of France apologized!

Sigh.

Do you ever just kind of wish that, I don’t know … adults were in charge? 

Well, guess what? There are clearly adults advising the President of Brazil because they convinced him to change his mind - Brazil WILL accept G-7 aid to combat the fires which amounts to $20 million in aid and will not do so on the condition of the President of France apologizing. 

This is not the first time Macron and Bolsonaro have clashed and it probably won’t be the last, but at least this time, the good guys one. The "good guys" being, “whomever assists with the Amazon wildfires.”  Let’s hope the good guys can now cut those fires down.

Foodie showdown! 

For those who have not heard - the Impossible Burger is restaurants (and chains) hottest trend right now! If you’re unfamiliar with the Impossible Burger allow me to fill you in. The Impossible Burger is a meat free burger made entirely of soy, potato, flavored with plant molecules with added coconut and sunflower oils to give it that meat sizzle. If you want to learn more about the science behind the Impossible Burger head over to the main site of Impossible Foods, they can explain it much better than I.  

But, basically, it looks like a burger, tastes much like a burger and has just as much protein as a burger. Only, it’s not a burger and it doesn’t have an ounce of meat or use a drop of animal product. Vegetarians, vegans and even meat lovers are giving the Impossible Burger rave reviews and more and more fast food chains and restaurants are putting them on the menu. 

Well, the folks over at Arby’s have gone a different route and told media the roast beef loving chain will never sell “fake meat.”  A rep for Arby’s went as far as saying: “The chances we will bring plant-based menu items to our restaurants, now or in the future, are absolutely impossible.” Fair enough, their motto is “We have the meats.” 

Um, okay. Of course, maybe that’s what they say today and maybe they’ll change their mind tomorrow. I mean, it does seem a bit weird to me that a restaurant chain has no interest in selling food that is extremely popular - but whatever - maybe they have their own thing happening! 

And boy do they ever! 

Arby’s is going to start selling carrot sticks that aren’t carrots! You read that right. The “Marrot,” as they call it, looks like a carrot but is actually made entirely out of - you guessed it - meat! The Marrot is seasoned turkey breast cut, rolled, cooked, then oven-roasted, then finished with a brulee of maple sugar to make it a bit more carrot crunchy. 

Um. Okay. Sounds kind of silly to me. But I’m sure the idea of a plant based fake meat burger sounds kind of silly to others so I guess it’s all fair game. 

But still, we now live in a world where you can have a plant based burger and a meat based carrot. But probably not at the same place. 

The Impossible Burger is currently being served around the country in a large variety of restaurants, several chain restaurants such as White Castle, Burger King and KFC, and sold at select co-ops and supermarkets. The Marrot is currently in the planning stage but Arby’s hopes to test market it in select cities soon which means, depending on customer response, The Marrot may or may not ever be a big thing.  

CNN has released a new poll about the Democratic candidates and it revealed a huge increase in Biden support and a huge drop in interest in Harris. The Biden rise does not exactly surprise me, the Harris decline surprise me a bit. But whatever. There are still something like eighteen candidates in the race, pretty soon some of them are going to be dropping like flies. 

Anyway, Biden is clearly viewed as the most moderate candidate. I know there was some recent progressive pushback against his “inappropriate touching” but any common sense analysis of said videos of Biden “inappropriately touching women” revealed them to be ridiculously harmless. And in some cases the women who were on the receiving end of a Biden hug have come out and said things like, “Ummm … he’s my close friend of 40 of years. Of course it’s okay for him to hug me!”  

But while it turned out to be a nonstory, I think the negative coverage of Biden dropped him in the polls a bit. And … well … I also hate to say this but his pretty bad performance in the first debate didn’t help him. But all that seems to be water under the bridge now and moderate American’s are reminding themselves how much they like Biden. Conservatives even kind of liked him in the same way that liberals kind of liked Senator McCain. That seems to be changing though as Biden is the front runner and now FOXNEWS is running attack ad after attack add on Biden’s health - which, to be honest - looks just fine. 

So - does that mean Biden is about to be our new President? Well - not so fast. This all comes from a single CNN poll of 1.001 people with a sampling error of 3.7%.  I know some folks are skeptical of polls but all you need to do is remind yourself is that a poll is a snapshot of voters, it is not a forecast of the future. BUT, even though it’s true that people can change their mind as in “Someone polls for Biden one day but changes their mind the following week to support Sanders,” and it’s true that this does happen. People change their minds. That being said, snapshots of voters are surprisingly accurate. 

I’ll bring Scientific American into the mix of things. According to their 2004 article, “How can a poll of only 1,004 Americans represent 260 million people with only a 3 percent margin of error?” - polls have a margin of error that depends: 

“... inversely on the square root of the sample size. That is, a sample of 250 will give you a 6 percent margin of error and sample of 100 will give you a 10 percent margin of error.” Okay, I think I’m following that. And by the way, that ten percent margin of error is too high and therefore makes a polling of 100  people statistically worthless. So polls with too small a sampling size are not useful. 

Well, just poll more folks! Right? 

Well, it sounds like that’s true - up to a certain point. While it’s true that the more people you poll the smaller your margin of error becomes. Again, from Scientific America: 

“... by surveying 4,000 people, you can get the margin of error down to 1.5 percent … but that is generally a waste of time because public opinion varies enough from day to day that it is meaningless to attempt too precise an estimate.” 

Okay. Fair enough. It sounds like it would take too much time to gather polling data from several thousand people because by the time you compile the data, public opinion may have significantly altered. So it sounds like polling folks in the several thousand range - isn’t worth it at all. Which is why pollsters find the sweet spot to be about “a thousand people,” which puts the margin of error at 3.7% but can be done quickly and in enough time that public opinion hasn’t changed much by the time the poll is released. 

Makes sense to me. 

But what about anomalies? What about human error? What about bias? 

Well, Scientific American covers that too:

“The margin of error is a mathematical abstraction, and there are a number of reasons why actual errors in surveys are larger. Even with random sampling, people in the population have unequal probabilities of inclusion in the survey. For instance, if you don't have a telephone, you won't be in the survey, but if you have two phone lines, you have two chances to be included. In addition, women, whites, older people and college-educated people are more likely to participate in surveys. Polling organizations correct for these nonresponse biases by adjusting the sample to match the population, but such adjustments can never be perfect because they only correct for known biases. For example, "surly people" are less likely to respond to a survey, but we don't know how many surly people are in the population or how this would bias polling results.”

Okay. I think I got it - a poll is a snapshot of voter opinion but again - it is not an actual prediction of exactly what will happen. A 3 percent margin of error means that “there is a 95 percent chance that the survey result will be within 3 percent of the population value.” 

What that means is that pollsters, much like weathermen are better at their jobs than we give them credit for. I mean we have plenty of jokes about both are wrong all the time (especially the weatherman), the opposite is true - polls (and the weatherman) for the most part -  are pretty accurate. 

But anomalies do exist, errors happen. I mean, polls predicting the likely outcome of the 2016 Presidential election could have one candidate ten points ahead one week, and then watch that candidate lose mainly due to Widespread Russian Interference in all 50 States which rendered all the polls meaningless - and handing the election to the other candidate.  

For example.

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