Useless poll, no. MMCX

Okay, I could admittedly spend a whole blog trumpeting mis-use of public opinion polls, but sometimes I just cannot let it go by.  Especially, when as in this latest Washington Post poll on financial regulation, the Post is using the results to frame all its stories on the matter.  Here's the question that really gets me: "Do you support of oppose having the federal government regulate the complex financial instruments known as derivatives?"  43% support and 41% oppose.  Well, clearly we've got closely divided opinion.  Or, more like it, I'd guess upwards of 75% of respondents were lying so as to not sound ignorant. The vast majority of truthful respondents, answered "no opinion" but they were only 17% of the poll.  If you believe that 83% of Americans have even the slightest clue what financial derivatives are (much less understand what regulating them would entail), I've got a bridge to sell you.  


Arizona’s immigration policy

I've been a little slow to comment on the recently passed legislation on immigration in Arizona.  (Here's EJ Dionne's nice quick take on the matter).  As written, the law may be Constitutional, but I truly see no way that it can actually be enforced in the real world which does not end up being a blatant violation of civil rights (i.e., selective enforcement on the basis of ethnicity).  The law gives Arizona police the power to search anyone they have probable cause to believe is an illegal immigrant.  That sounds all well and good, but in the real world, just what is "probable cause" to believe someone is an illegal immigrant? Hmmm, something tells me it might have something to do with a person's ethnic appearance and language.  As soon as you start checking for evidence of legal status based on these factors, you are violating civil rights and thus the Constitution.  Selectively asking for proof of citizenship only for persons who fit a certain stereotype is a clear violation of the 14th Amendment (my favorite) proposition of "equal protection under the law."  

On a sort-of-related note, actions like this might help the GOP short-term, but long-term makes it ever more likely they will have permanent minority party status.  Building a party off the anger of angry white men is just not a good long term strategy as they are an ever-shrinking (thank goodness, does that make me a self-loathing white male) portion of the electorate. 


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