Patterico's Pontifications


Charles Johnson: An Unlikely Crusader Against Racist Comments

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 2:21 pm

Charles Johnson has been on a little jihad about racist comments on conservative sites — which is odd for several reasons. Notably, he has no evidence that the comments were left by conservatives, and indeed he used to complain that liberals had planted phony comments on his own site:

One type of troll we see all the time at LGF is known as a “moby,” after the pop star Moby—who publicly advocated posting “false flag” comments at right wing web sites, posing as extremist nut jobs, in order to discredit those sites.

Johnson complained about this practice again here:

But the important thing to note here is: this creep was what we call a “moby,” calculatedly posting over the top comments to discredit LGF. In truth, as you can see by following the link to the “Anti-Neocons” site above, this stalker is rabidly pro-Palestinian—but it was posting rabidly anti-Palestinian comments at LGF. This is solid proof that at least some of the comments at LGF are being planted with deliberate intent to deceive and defraud.

That was then; this is now. These days, Charles Johnson trolls sites like Hot Air and, and trumpets every single comment with racist overtones as evidence of the racism of conservatives in general, and those sites in particular.

Indeed, one of Johnson’s buddies (with whom he is still friendly) actually admitted planting racist comments at Hot Air in 2009. Specifically, in September 2009, trusted LGF Lieutenant Killgore Trout went over to Hot Air in the middle of the night to plant some racist comments. Ace described what happened:

Apparently CJ’s moderator Kilgore Trout went over there last night and started posting racist stuff. To see, he said, if it would be cleaned up.

It wasn’t. Because both Allah and Ed were asleep. It being the middle of the night.

Actually, it’s only arguably racist if you yourself believe that wookies = black people, which Kilgore Trout does.

So he spammed the threads with this, and it wasn’t cleaned up to until the AM.

Obergruppenkommander Charles’ conclusion? They’re racists.

Chuckles furiously denounced Killgore Trout for his actions said “I can’t really applaud” Killgore Trout’s actions . . . but claimed that Killgore Trout’s middle-of-the-night actions showed that “his point is absolutely valid. They’re accepting a disgusting amount of racism and extremism at Hot Air.” This despite the fact that within an hour of Johnson’s comment, the comments at Hot Air were starting to disappear, as Killgore Trout (who is apparently still a welcome and valued member of LGF) reported at the time.

In essence, Chuckles’s lieutenant said: look, the conservatives tolerate people pissing on their houses. To demonstrate, I will go piss on their house in the middle of the night, and if they don’t clean it up until morning, I have made my point! Bwa-ha! To which Charles responded: I can’t really applaud him pissing on their house . . . but they sure do seem to tolerate it.

I guess Charles, former moby hunter, now believes that Killgore Trout was the only liberal guy who ever planted racist comments on conservative sites.

The funny part about Charles being Mr. Racist Comment Nazi is that his site used to be the home of perhaps the most notoriously virulent, ugly, hate-filled set of comments in the blogosphere. For example, here is a piece by Glenn Greenwald documenting several comments by LGF commenters talking about how they wished that Al Qaeda would carry out a planned murder plot against Jimmy Carter.

I always defended Charles on this point, because the volume of comments he had was such that it would be unfair to attribute to him the viewpoints of his commenters. Indeed, Charles made the very same point in response to complaints by CAIR that his site was a hate site:

If either of you had bothered to do your jobs, you would have learned that:

* There are more than 25,000 registered users at LGF.

* There are often more than 5,000 comments posted every single day.

* It is run by *one* person, and comments such as those quoted by CAIR are policed and deleted as soon as possible. But this is an open discussion forum, and comments do not represent the opinion of LGF — as the disclaimer states on every single page of comments.

But Hot Air easily has 25,000 registered users and probably has well over 3 million comments since its founding. I bet I am underestimating this. Yet Charles supported his lieutenant’s argument that comments planted there in the middle of the night demonstrated racism because they were not cleaned up until the next morning.

All of this would seemingly make Charles Johnson the least likely person on Earth to lead a charge about comments on conservative web sites.

So I decided to confront him with this recently on Twitter. I laid out six simple facts that underpin the argument I made above:

Since Johnson really has no response to these arguments, I predicted that he wouldn’t confront my facts, but would smear and sneer.

And what do you think he did?

Again: he didn’t disappoint:

Hm. Does Charles Johnson know that the guy on Twitter famous for using the #winning tag was actually a huge loser whom everyone was laughing at?

Anyone misguided enough to see Johnson as a serious pundit who engages in rational debate needs to stop sniffing glue and read the above exchange. Note the facts I cite, and the sneers, strawmen, and insults I get in response.

It really makes you wonder how this guy has any credibility with anyone these days.

UPDATE: Thanks to Instapundit for the link. I hope new readers will bookmark the main page and return often. Also, I can be found on Twitter as @Patterico. Make sure to follow me there!

Advocacy polls are real polls

Filed under: General — Karl @ 10:35 am

[Posted by Karl]

Jonathan Chait disagrees. He’s wrong, as he is about many things.  But he’s wrong in ways worth discussing.

Chait’s target is the recent Third Way poll of independent voters, which he doesn’t like because “Third Way is an intra-party lobbying group that urges Democrats to adopt moderate, pro-business policies” and its poll tends to support its positions.  He notes that if you frame poll questions differently you can get findings like those from Greenberg Quinlan Rosner (taken for the Center for American Progress), such as 81% agreeing that “[r]egular people work harder and harder for less and less, while Wall Street CEOs enjoy bigger bonuses than ever.”

To be sure, the wording of poll questions matters.  However, Chait does not bother to quote the questions in the Third Way poll.  It appears he does not like questions such as:

I’m going to name some topics that have angered some people in America.  For each one, please tell me if it makes you very angry, somewhat angry, not too angry, or not angry at all.

The poll then asks about: Congressional gridlock; the national debt; Wall Street bailouts; America falling behind its global competitors; the wealthy not paying enough in taxes; the next generation’s ability to achieve the American Dream; corporate profits; and China’s economic rise.  Another question that seems to bother Chait is: “What do you think would be the most effective way to strengthen our economy?”, giving reducing the deficit, reducing taxes and regulations, and reducing income inequality as options.  Had Chait actually quoted the poll’s questions, it might have occurred to his readers that those questions sound much more neutral than the GQR questions he did quote.  Indeed, the basic Third Way findings on economic opportunity vs. economic fairness are not much different from those of Gallup and Pew.

However, the issue of question neutrality goes to a larger problem with Chait’s general concept of “real” public opinion polling:

Pollsters understand that very slight differences in the wording of a question, or even in the ordering of questions, can produce dramatically different results. Polls that are actually designed to measure public opinion take great precautions to avoid tilting answers one way or another. They try to frame questions in as neutral fashion as possible, and when they do ask questions that gauge people’s ideological views, they measure it by looking at changes.

So, for instance, a poll might ask if you prefer a larger government with more services, or a smaller government with fewer services. That is a classic polling question. It’s not an accurate snapshot of public opinion, though, because even though it’s posed in a completely neutral way, in frames the question in abstract terms rather than specific terms. Its value as a measuring tool is simply that polls as the same question in the same way every year, and the changes in response to the same question can help tell you how public opinion is changing.

This is a wildly reductive view of public opinion polling, and especially reductive of political polling.

The information gathered from the sorts of polling Chait describes is valuable — even if the polls generated for the establishment media and by entities like Gallup and Pew often fall short of the ideal.  However, it does not logically follow that “advocacy” polls are not “real” polls.  The issue is the quality of a given poll for its purpose.

For example, another poll from Greenberg Quinlan Rosner — this time for Democracy Corps — looks at several of the messages Pres. Obama and Democrats have been putting out and tests them against hypothetical GOP messages (which are debatable, but beyond my scope today).  It is not remotely neutral, but highly informative about public opinion for those actually conducting campaigns.  It is advocacy polling like this (which the White House or the DNC surely conducts internally) that explains why Obama is mostly attacking the GOP instead of leading with claims that America is back or has made progress on job creation.

Election campaigns are not waged solely in the editorial bullpens of the New York Times and Washington Post, or the offices of Gallup.  Rather, beyond the fundamentals of peace and prosperity, they are driven by candidates and their messages.  The candidates, their supporters and their messages are not neutral.

In short, to suggest that advocacy polling is not “real” is in some senses exactly backwards.  And to compare the recent Third Way poll to the Center for American Progress poll is laughable.  Indeed, Third Way’s “advocacy” here rests primarily on the general, neutral approach of its poll.


Ken at Popehat Trashes the Affidavit in the Zimmerman Case

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:57 am

I can’t say I disagree:

It’s a piece of crap.

. . . .

The affidavit takes the lazy way out, starting with a paragraph that says, in effect, “we investigated a bunch of stuff, and here’s what we learned,” followed by a narrative of what the affiant believes happened. Almost nothing is specifically attributed — that is, for most facts asserted in the affidavit, it is impossible to determine whether a witness told the affiant the fact, how the witness knew, or whether it is just a conclusion drawn by the affiant.

This makes the argumentative and conclusory elements of the affi[dav]it that much more problematical. For instance, the affidavit states that Zimmerman “profiled” Martin. But it’s impossible to determine if (1) that’s the affiant’s characterization of the narrative that follows, or (2) that’s intended as a separate factual assertion based on unspecified facts or evidence or witnesses. Similarly, the affidavit makes numerous statements about what Zimmerman thought or intended. It is impossible to determine whether these statements are (1) conclusions based on Zimmerman’s actions and statements to the 911 dispatcher, (2) admissions Zimmerman made in some unspecified statement, or (3) mere argument.

. . . .

This is not the worst affidavit I’ve ever seen — but it’s damn close, and the decision to proceed based on it in such a high-profile case is stunning. . . . An affidavit like this makes a mockery of the probable cause process. There’s no way that a judge reading this affidavit can make an intelligent or informed decision about the sufficiency of the evidence — even for the low hurdle of probable cause.

A guy did some stuff, and so . . . murder!

Yeah, they could be a little more specific. Or . . . maybe they couldn’t.

More criticism from Empty Wheel, Talk Left, and CBS News. Racist right-wing racisty racists one and all. Thanks to narciso for all the links. Yeah, this thing is a piece of crap, all right.

Another Piece of Evidence Supporting Marco Rubio for VP: Alberto Gonzales Doesn’t Like Him!

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:52 am

The best evidence that Marco Rubio should be the vice president has emerged:

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio would not be a wise pick for number two on the GOP ticket this year, former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales told CNN Saturday.

Rubio is not ready to be president, Gonzales said, and the vice president “must be ready on day one.”

Tell us more, Alberto!

Rubio might generate interest among Latinos “for the first 12 hours if selected for the number two spot, but that won’t last,” Gonzales said.

The Republican Party should do more to court Latinos, Gonzales said.

“We haven’t seen the GOP reach out to Latino voters (in the primaries). We’ve seen them alienate that vote,” he said.

By . . . being against illegal immigration? Is that it?

Look. I articulated a couple of the main objections to Alberto Gonzales in this post:

In the University of Michigan racial-preference cases, Gonzales prevented the Bush Administration from arguing that racial preferences are always unconstitutional. As a Texas Supreme Court justice, Gonzales voted to gut a parental notification requirement for abortions, by giving an overly broad interpretion to a judicial bypass provision.

Just to name a couple of things.

So excuse me if I not only don’t particularly care about Mr. Gonzales’s opinion — I actually consider it an indicator of the incorrect position.

UPDATE: In the same article, we see that Rubio claims he won’t be the vice president. I wouldn’t let a statement like that get in the way of the ideal ticket. Offer it to him and let’s see what he does.

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