Progressive outrage should not be taken too seriously because it is not intended to be serious. When Barack Obama invites rapper Kendrick Lamar into the White House and announces that his “To Pimp a Butterfly” is the president’s favorite song of the year — whose album cover shows the corpse of a murdered white judge, with Xs in place of eyes, on the White House lawn, as African-American youth toast his demise with drinks and cash — do we really assume that progressives like Obama believe in stopping hate speech and imagery, or perhaps even believe in anything at all?
Donald Trump, to progressives, supposedly harmed the Constitution and threatened our democracy because he would not say, after the WikiLeaks revelations, that he would accept the outcome of the election if he thought it was rigged. Yet after Clinton’s defeat, suddenly irate progressives have lodged conspiratorial charges that voting machines (miraculously only in swing states Hillary lost) were supposedly rigged, that the Electoral College should be dropped, and that electors should be bullied to ignore their pledges. Did anyone ever believe their original outrage at Trump’s suggestion that election results might be rigged? Are we now to have recounts in Nevada, Colorado, New Hampshire, and all the close states Trump lost, and then on into spring more recounts of recounts, until the last count achieves the desired result?
The Democratic party leadership is no longer an alternative to corporate wealthy America, but is corporate wealthy America, albeit in a new garb of jeans and flip-flops, Silicon Valley–style. The small-business person, assembly-line worker, and non-government wage earner mostly now vote Republican. Progressivism is a pyramidal capstone of wealthy elites who have the influence and money to embrace boutique positions and the cunning to profess egalitarianism, all while they lead private lives that would otherwise be condemned as illiberal and apartheid-like. So affirmative action ends up providing high-cheekboned Elizabeth Warren entry into Harvard Law School, the same way that progressive investigative journalism is reduced to Politico’s “hack” Glenn Thrush (who asked the Clinton campaign to fact-check and approve his article), and in the manner that philanthropy is reduced to the Clintons’ piling up of millions by selling influence. We are a long way from Harry Truman’s working classes.
What exactly is the Democratic criticism so far of Trumpism? That he is jawboning companies not to lay off thousands of workers and leave the country? That he is barring revolving-door lobbying for five years? That he raised and spent too little on his amateurish campaign, had too few bundlers, and did not hire enough professional handlers? That he met with the press too much and mouthed off on the record? That too many working-class people voted for him and not enough of their supposed Silicon Valley, Wall Street, beltway, and Hollywood betters did? That conservative pundits had their columns fact-checked and researched by the Trump campaign? That the Republican party sabotaged his primary competitors to give him the nomination? Or that he wants impoverished miners to work again and export coal?
The Democratic party for now is reduced to a loud racist/sexist/homophobe broken record that fewer and fewer are listening to — including many of the Democratic elites who continue to play it.
Tuesday, November 29, 2016
Democratic Party Hypocrisy on Racism, Sexism, Homophobia | National Review
Friday, November 25, 2016
Statistical disparities do not automatically mean discrimination.
This is a football story with both political and legal implications. It was fourth down in a National Football League game, and the punting team came onto the field. The other team went into their formation to defend against the punt. Then somebody noticed that the man set to kick the punt was black.
“Fake!” one of the defenders cried out. That cry was immediately echoed by others, and the defending team changed their formation, to guard against the kicker either running with the ball or throwing it. But, in fact, he punted.
Why did anyone think he was not going to punt the ball? Because chances are no one on that field had ever seen a black football player kick a punt. As someone who has watched NFL games for half a century, I have never seen a black player either punt the ball, or kick a field goal or a point after touchdown. I have seen hundreds of black players score touchdowns, but not one kick the point afterwards. I have seen a black president of the United States before I have seen a black kicker in the NFL.
Politicians, the intelligentsia, and even the Supreme Court of the United States have been saying for decades that statistical disparities between racial groups indicate discrimination. If so, then the racial disparities among kickers in professional football exceed those in virtually any other job anywhere.
But is it discrimination? The very same people who employ blacks at every other position on a football team are the people who hire kickers. Why would they be willing to hire black players in other positions that pay a lot more money than most kickers get, but draw the line at hiring black kickers?
In this situation, discrimination is an explanation that doesn’t even meet the test of plausibility.
At the other end of the ideological spectrum, there are those who attribute differences in racial representation to genetics. Are blacks genetically incapable of kicking a football? Somehow black colleges have been playing football for generations, without having to recruit white players to do the kicking.
But if neither race nor racism can explain why black kickers are so rare in professional football, what can possibly explain it? One of the most obvious possibilities is routinely ignored in many cases of group disparities: Different individuals and groups have different things they want to do.
If black youngsters who are dreaming of an athletic career don’t happen to be dreaming of becoming kickers, then it doesn’t matter whether they have both the innate ability and the opportunity.
It is very doubtful if any of the guys who grew up in my old neighborhood in Harlem ever became ballet dancers. Is that because black guys can’t dance? Some of the best male tap dancers have been black. Is it because nobody would hire black male dancers? Some black male tap dancers have starred on the stage and danced in movies. Just not in ballets.
Many of us have been so brainwashed over the years — by sheer repetition, rather than by either logic or empirical tests — that statistical disparities are automatically taken to mean discrimination, whether between races, sexes, or whatever.
The plain fact that different individuals and groups make different choices is resolutely ignored, because it does not fit the prevailing preconceptions, or the crusades based on those preconceptions.
Women make different career choices than men, and wisely so, because men do not become mothers, and being a mother is not the same as being a father. And we can’t make them the same by simply calling them both “parents” or saying that “the couple” is pregnant.
Discrimination can certainly cause statistical disparities. But statistical disparities do not automatically mean discrimination.
When some racial or ethnic groups have a median age that is 20 years older than the median age of some other racial or ethnic groups, how surprised should we be to find members of the younger groups far better represented in sports and members of the older groups far better represented in jobs that require long years of experience?
Statistics are no substitute for thought — certainly not in government policies, and especially not in Supreme Court decisions.
Monday, November 21, 2016
Guns & Stand Your Ground Law: Journal of the American Medical Association Study is Fatally Flawed | National Review
Guns & Stand Your Ground Law: Journal of the American Medical Association Study is Fatally Flawed | National Review
And this from the NRA-ILA:
On Monday, the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) published a paper on American self-defense law so fundamentally flawed that it is hard to view its publication as anything other than an act of propaganda.
The paper’s title describes its purported purpose: “Evaluating the Impact of Florida’s ‘Stand Your Ground’ Self-defense Law on Homicide and Suicide by Firearm” — and its implicit conclusion is that “Stand Your Ground” is bad public policy because it fosters unlawful killing. Indeed, one of the paper’s authors, Antonio Gasparrini, makes this conclusion explicit in telling the U.K.’s Daily Mail that “this study highlights how Stand Your Ground is likely to be a cause of the rise in Florida murders” (emphasis added).
In fact, the paper does not, and indeed by its very methodology cannot, do anything of the sort. The paper’s defects are numerous, but I shall focus on just two.
First, the paper conflates “homicide” and “murder,” and thus cannot result in valid findings with respect to “murder” in particular or with public safety in general. Second, the study contrasts Florida’s Stand Your Ground law with a set of four purportedly non–Stand Your Ground states. One of the four states in the control set, however, routinely applies Stand Your Ground doctrine in much the same manner as does Florida. This failure of methodology substantively invalidates the paper’s findings, and should have been identified in peer review long before publication in JAMA. (The widespread defects in the peer-review process of even, or perhaps especially, premier scientific journals are another subject entirely).
‘Homicide’ and ‘Murder’ Are Not Synonyms
It is a common misconception that “homicide” and “murder” are essentially synonymous. They are not, and the authors should have explicitly noted the distinction in their methodology. Instead, they fail to even vaguely reference this essential issue until the third-to-last sentence of the paper. (Why this was buried in such a manner is left to the reader to consider.)
“Homicide” merely means the killing of a person by a person. “Murder” refers to the subset of homicides that are unlawful. This distinction is vital for public-policy discussion, because homicides that do not qualify as murder are not only lawful but are in many cases a social good. A few hypotheticals illustrate clearly why this is so.
An intended rape victim who shoots and kills her rapist to stop his sexual assault has committed a homicide. She has not, however, committed a murder. Her homicide of the rapist is lawful self-defense and by any reasonable moral standard is preferable to the alternative of compelling her to allow herself to be raped. Similarly, a homeowner who shoots and kills an armed felony intruder has committed a homicide but not a murder. In both cases, the killings qualify as lawful self-defense.
As a final example, and to draw an analogy to a recent well-publicized event, if a lawfully armed citizen shoots and kills a terrorist ruthlessly gunning down unarmed gay people in a Florida nightclub, he has stopped a murderous act of terrorism, not committed a murder. This to-be-wished-for outcome was prevented at the Pulse massacre by laws that prohibit firearms in locations that serve alcohol, a prohibition ignored by ISIS-allegiant Omar Mateen. (Criminals ignoring the law is a common mechanism of failure for preemptive gun-control laws generally, and is perhaps a matter worthy for a paper published in JAMA.)
By failing to distinguish between “murder” and “homicide,” the JAMA paper conflates unlawful and lawful killings. Indeed, it is quite possible that fully 100 percent of the increase in Florida homicides, which the paper attributes to the Stand Your Ground law, were in fact lawful acts of self-defense, the alternative to which would have been the murder, maiming, and rape of innocent victims. If so, the effect of the Stand Your Ground law has been to reduce the murder, maiming, and rape of innocent victims, arguably the very social good intended by its passage. For some reason, however, I see a remarkable absence of press coverage of this paper headlined, “Stand Your Ground Law Shown to Safeguard Innocent Life.” Odd, that.
It’s Hard to Effectively Study What You Don’t Actually Understand
The second fundamental error in this paper is that the authors have a basic ignorance of the legal principles they are purporting to study. This is perhaps not surprising given that their listed associated academic departments include “Social Policy and Intervention,” “Hygiene and Tropical Medicine,” and “Biostatistics and Epidemiology,” but nothing actually related to law. (Incidentally, I extend an open invitation to researchers desiring insight on these legal issues.)
A key facet of the paper’s methodology is a contrast of Stand Your Ground in Florida to four purportedly non–Stand Your Ground states: New York, New Jersey, Ohio, and Virginia. Although it is true that New York, New Jersey, and Ohio impose a legal duty to retreat on all defenders who have the safe means to do so before they are permitted to resort to deadly force in self-defense, this is not the case for Virginia.
In fact, Virginia takes a unique approach on whether a defender has a legal duty to retreat or has the right to stand his ground. Under Virginia law, a defender who has made a “contribution to the affray” — that is, someone who is not an entirely innocent party in the conflict — does indeed have a legal duty to retreat before using deadly force in self-defense. In that subset of self-defense scenarios, Virginia acts much like the duty-to-retreat states of New York, New Jersey, and Ohio.
A defender who has not made a “contribution to the affray,” however — someone who is in every sense the innocent victim of an act of criminal predation — has absolutely no legal duty under Virginia law to retreat before they may use deadly force in self-defense. Because of this, to include Virginia among the set of non–Stand Your Ground states used as a contrast for Florida is to fundamentally undermine the study’s methodological validity on this point.
My reading of the paper’s methodology suggests that the authors fell into this error because they mistakenly believe that America’s Stand Your Ground laws are to be found only in statutes, the laws created by the state legislatures. This is a grave error. America also recognizes case law, the laws created by decisions of courts. That this is the cause of the authors’ error here is suggested by the fact that the paper claims that Stand Your Ground doctrine is the law in a minority of 23 of the 50 states. In fact, 35 states impose no legal duty on a defender to retreat. The states the authors missed largely enacted Stand Your Ground not through statute but through case law, and generally many decades before Florida adopted its Stand Your Ground statute in 2005.
For example, California instructs its juries in self-defense cases that a defender may not only stand his ground, he may even pursue his attacker if necessary for his safety. This position makes California one of the most aggressive Stand Your Ground states in America, and its stance is based on its case law dating back to 1898. At the same time, California has not a single Stand Your Ground statute on the books. It is noteworthy that the authors erroneously fail to include California as among the Stand Your Ground states.
This second error strongly suggests that not only did the authors either not understand or choose to conceal the vital distinction between “murder” and “homicide,” they fundamentally don’t understand how the legal doctrine of Stand Your Ground is implemented or created in American law.
Research or Propaganda?
In closing, I note that in the third-to-last sentence of the paper the authors write: “Our study examined the effect of the Florida law on homicide and homicide by firearm, not on crime and public safety.” Wait, what? And you waited until the very end of the paper to explicitly disclose this highly relevant fact?
Then, pray tell, what was the purpose of writing the paper in the first place? Indeed, the same question must be raised with respect to JAMA’s decision to publish the paper. If the paper is not informative or useful for public-policy purposes, given that it explicitly concedes that it does not address “crime and public safety,” then exactly what is its purpose? Surely the purpose could not have been to serve merely as propagandistic raw materials for anti–Stand Your Ground headlines by a naïve popular press eager to uncritically accept JAMA’s prestige? Surely not.
The paper’s conflation of murder and homicide and its basic ignorance of the legal principles in question are only the beginning of its authors’ errors. The two described above, however, should be more than sufficient to compel JAMA to immediately retract this paper because of its fundamental flaws in methodology and frank lack of utility.
And this from the NRA-ILA:
This week, the Journal of the American Medical Association’s (JAMA) online Internal Medicine Network published a “study” by a team of academics in England that purports to analyze “the Impact of Florida’s ‘Stand Your Ground’ Self-defense Law on Homicide and Suicide by Firearm,” with the authors concluding, “implementation of Florida’s stand your ground self-defense law was associated with a significant increase in homicides and homicides by firearm but no change in rates of suicide or suicide by firearm.”
You’d think with a conclusion like that, the study found that the Florida law actually had a negative impact on public safety. But you’d be wrong. Rather, this article stands as but another example how anti-gun scholars continue to perpetuate bad science in order to push their agenda with improper methodology, misleading claims, and a purposeful failure to follow base statistical protocols in conducting an analysis.
An incisive rebuttal to the study published in National Review points out that even taken at face value, the findings have virtually no significance for public policy. Indeed, the JAMA authors admit near the end of their paper that “[o]ur study examined the effect of the Florida law on homicide and homicide by firearm, not on crime and public safety.”
This caveat is necessary because “the study” completely ignores the essential question of whether the firearm-related deaths it focuses on arose from unlawful aggression or lawful self-defense.
The whole point of a Stand-your-ground law, of course, is to give innocent people who are threatened by unlawful violence another possible option in determining how to safely respond. It negates the mandatory duty to retreat before resorting to lethal defensive force, allowing the individual who is actually subject to the threat to determine whether retreat or countermeasures are the safer option.
While the authors of the JAMA study likely disagree, if fault and justice have anything to do with the law – and they should – self-defense is not an outcome to be deplored. Putting the law on the side of innocent victims is not a flaw of Stand-your-ground laws. It’s the point of them.
In short, because the authors don’t account for the differences between those homicides which are justifiable self-defense and those which are not, their “study” fails to provide any real insight on the effects of the law. This, of course, is by design. Pushing the biased narrative that Stand-your-ground is problematic is their point, not whether the law had a positive or negative impact on public safety.
As the National Review article further explains, the authors of the JAMA study also erred in failing to understand that some jurisdictions impose Stand-your-ground by statute, while in other states the doctrine has arisen through court decisions. Thus, the authors mislabel one of the four states they use as a “comparison” group as lacking Stand-your-ground, when in fact that state incorporates the principle in its common law.
In other words, the authors couldn’t be bothered with researching even the most basic question of which states have Stand-your-ground and which do not. This is often the case where public health researchers move beyond their normal field of expertise. The fact that the authors also fail to control for a host of other social and economic variables that likely impact the number of homicides in any given year is further proof of their general incompetence to answer a complex research question related to Stand-your-ground in Florida or anywhere else.
Which brings us to a broader point. A popular myth pushed by the media is that the NRA somehow exercises a “stranglehold” on scientific inquiry into the causes and cures for violence committed with firearms.
That’s not true, and it couldn’t be true. Academic researchers are free to study whatever they want. And private entities can fund whatever research they want.
Even governmental entities can fund or conduct research related to violence committed with firearms. And they do.
There is, however, a federal appropriations restriction that applies to the Centers for Disease Control and to the National Institute of Health that prohibits the use of taxpayer money “to advocate or promote gun control.”
And therein lies the difference.
The funding restriction arose from the fact that it was the stated intention of certain CDC officials during the 1990s “to systematically build the case that owning firearms causes deaths” and “to convince Americans that guns are, first and foremost, a public health menace.”
In other words, the officials did not approach the subject in the spirit of open-minded scientific inquiry. Rather, they hoped to use the veneer of science and government to “discover” answers through “research” that were preordained by their politics.
That bias applies to such research efforts is not NRA’s fault. It’s the fault of an academic community whose research output has repeatedly been exposed as shoddy and haphazard at best and transparently agenda-driven at worst.
Like the media itself, public health researchers have sullied their own reputations and earned the skepticism of the gun-owning community and the larger community of critical thinkers.
Public funding of these sorts of efforts will hopefully remain curtailed under the Trump administration. But the studies will persist, because the antigun agenda that underlies them persists. And the private billionaires funding that agenda – including George Soros and Michael Bloomberg – will continue to need outlets for their prohibitionist expenditures.
We know the mainstream media will not approach this sham science skeptically. But gun owners and policymakers should.
Sunday, November 20, 2016
What American law professors forgot and what Trump knew - Chicago Tribune
It was lonely being a Donald Trump supporter in the legal academy. Of my thousands of colleagues teaching law in this country, I don't think more than a few dozen believed that he would have made a better president than Hillary Clinton, and not more than a handful of us were willing to go public with our support.
It has always been a risk to be a Republican teaching in a law school, where many teachers see a thin line between support for the GOP and bigotry or insanity. And yet, enough Americans liked what they saw in Trump to give him a smashing Electoral College victory.
How did it come about that law professors grew so out of touch with much of America?
To a hammer everything looks like a nail, and to a law professor everything is a problem in jurisprudence. Accordingly, it's my guess that the legal academy, over the past 80 years or so, began to wander too far from common sense, or, to be more precise, to depart from the essentials of the rule of law. Law professors forgot the most important notion that undergirds our legal system — the basic principle endorsed by the framers, that ours is a government of laws, not men (or women).
What this is supposed to mean is that we adhere to the original understanding of our Constitution and laws, and that if legal change is to be accomplished it is done not by judges or presidents, but by legislators or the American people, through constitutional amendments.
Since Franklin Roosevelt lambasted the U.S. Supreme Court for its "horse and buggy" definition of interstate commerce, however, the court, in recoil, has felt an obligation to rewrite the Constitution to meet the needs of the times, as the Supreme Court under Justice Earl Warren did with abandon, and as subsequent courts have done, most notably with Roe v. Wade and Obergefell v. Hodges.
The court has advanced the cause of human rights, undeniably, but at a cost of self-government by the American people.
This has been justified in the legal field through theories arguing that the Warren Court was engaged in teasing out "principles" of justice inherent in the Constitution, and, more boldly, by theorists who maintained that, at bottom, all law is politics.
A rear-guard action in the academy was maintained by those who lamented the Warren Court's failure to adhere to our tradition that the Constitution should be neutrally applied, without a thumb on the scale to implement policies favored by the justices. That view was best expressed by the late justice and former Chicago law professor Antonin Scalia, who ridiculed the idea of a "living Constitution" and maintained that the only valid jurisprudence was one that assigned law-making not to the judges but to legislatures. It is no coincidence that President-elect Trump singled out Scalia as his favorite justice. And it is probably no coincidence that President Barack Obama's executive orders stretched the law and Constitution to new lengths, often beyond the breaking points. He went to Harvard Law School in an era when critical legal studies, which challenge and overturn accepted legal norms and standards and practices, were at their zenith.
It seems to be well understood that some conservatives (I'm one) adhered to Trump early on because of the view that he would appoint a conservative like Scalia to the Supreme Court. But I can't help but wonder whether the many millions who voted for President-elect Trump also understood what the legal academy had all but forgotten, that what was at stake in the past election was nothing less than the rule of law and self-government itself.
Saturday, November 19, 2016
You Are Still Crying Wolf | Slate Star Codex
A New York Times article from last September that went viral only recently: Crying Wolf, Then Confronting Trump. It asks whether Democrats have “cried wolf” so many times that nobody believes them anymore. And so:
When “honorable and decent men” like McCain and Romney “are reflexively dubbed racists simply for opposing Democratic policies, the result is a G.O.P. electorate that doesn’t listen to admonitions when the genuine article is in their midst”.I have a different perspective. Back in October 2015, I wrote that the picture of Trump as “the white power candidate” and “the first openly white supremacist candidate to have a shot at the Presidency in the modern era” was overblown. I said that “the media narrative that Trump is doing some kind of special appeal-to-white-voters voodoo is unsupported by any polling data”, and predicted that:
If Trump were the Republican nominee, he could probably count on equal or greater support from minorities as Romney or McCain before him.Now the votes are in, and Trump got greater support from minorities than Romney or McCain before him. You can read the Washington Post article, Trump Got More Votes From People Of Color Than Romney Did, or look at the raw data (source)
Trump made gains among blacks. He made gains among Latinos. He made gains among Asians. The only major racial group where he didn’t get a gain of greater than 5% was white people. I want to repeat that: the group where Trump’s message resonated least over what we would predict from a generic Republican was the white population.
Nor was there some surge in white turnout. I don’t think we have official numbers yet, but by eyeballing what data we have it looks very much like whites turned out in equal or lesser numbers this year than in 2012, 2008, and so on.
Trump has gone from campaign stop to campaign stop talking about how much he likes and respects minorities and wants to fight for them.
And if you believe he’s lying, fine. Yet I notice that people accusing Trump of racism use the word “openly” like a tic. He’s never just “racist” or “white supremacist”. He’s always “openly racist” and “openly white supremacist”. Trump is openly racist, openly racist, openly racist, openly racist, openly racist, openly racist, openly racist. Trump is running on pure white supremacy, has thrown off the last pretense that his campaign is not about bigotry, has the slogan Make American Openly White Supremacist Again, is an openly white supremacist nominee, etc, etc, etc. And I’ve seen a few dozen articles like this where people say that “the bright side of a Trump victory is that finally America admitted its racism out in the open so nobody can pretend it’s not there anymore.”
This, I think, is the first level of crying wolf. What if, one day, there is a candidate who hates black people so much that he doesn’t go on a campaign stop to a traditionally black church in Detroit, talk about all of the contributions black people have made to America, promise to fight for black people, and say that his campaign is about opposing racism in all its forms? What if there’s a candidate who does something more like, say, go to a KKK meeting and say that black people are inferior and only whites are real Americans?
We might want to use words like “openly racist” or “openly white supremacist” to describe him. And at that point, nobody will listen, because we wasted “openly white supremacist” on the guy who tweets pictures of himself eating a taco on Cinco de Mayo while saying “I love Hispanics!”
But doesn’t this still mean there are some white supremacists? Isn’t this still really important?
I mean, kind of. But remember that 4% of Americans believe that lizardmen control all major governments. And 5% of Obama voters believe that Obama is the Antichrist. The white supremacist vote is about the same as the lizardmen-control-everything vote, or the Obama-is-the-Antichrist-but-I-support-him-anyway vote.
4. Aren’t there a lot of voters who, although not willing to vote for David Duke or even willing to express negative feelings about black people on a poll, still have implicit racist feelings, the kind where they’re nervous when they see a black guy on a deserted street at night?
Probably. And this is why I am talking about crying wolf. If you wanted to worry about the voter with subconscious racist attitudes carefully hidden even from themselves, you shouldn’t have used the words “openly white supremacist KKK supporter” like a verbal tic.
5. But even if Donald Trump isn’t openly white supremacist, didn’t he get an endorsement from KKK leader David Duke? Didn’t he refuse to reject that endorsement? Doesn’t that mean that he secretly wants to court the white supremacist vote?
The answer is no on all counts.
6. What about Trump’s “drugs and crime” speech about Mexicans?
Trump said that:
When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.
Note how totally non-racist this statement is. I’m serious. It’s anti-illegal-immigrant. But in terms of race, it’s saying Latinos (like every race) include both good and bad people, and the bad people are the ones coming over here. It suggests a picture of Mexicans as including some of the best people – but those generally aren’t the ones who are coming illegally.
Since everyone has been wrong about everything lately, I’ve started thinking it’s more important than ever to make clear predictions and grade myself on them, so here are my predictions for the Trump administration:
1. Total hate crimes incidents as measured here will be not more than 125% of their 2015 value at any year during a Trump presidency, conditional on similar reporting methodology [confidence: 80%]
2. Total minority population of US citizens will increase throughout Trump’s presidency [confidence: 99%]
3. US Muslim population increases throughout Trump’s presidency [confidence: 95%]
4. Trump cabinet will be at least 10% minority [confidence: 90%], at least 20% minority [confidence: 70%], at least 30% minority [30%]. Here I’m defining “minority” to include nonwhites, Latinos, and LGBT people, though not women. Note that by this definition America as a whole is about 35% minority and Congress is about 15% minority.
5. Gay marriage will remain legal throughout a Trump presidency [confidence: 95%]
6. Race relations as perceived by blacks, as measured by this Gallup poll, will do better under Trump than they did under Obama (ie the change in race relations 2017-2021 will be less negative/more positive than the change 2009-2016) [confidence: 70%].
7. Neither Trump nor any of his officials (Cabinet, etc) will endorse the KKK, Stormfront, or explicit neo-Nazis publicly, refuse to back down, etc, and keep their job [confidence: 99%].
8. No large demographic group (> 1 million people) get forced to sign up for a “registry” [confidence: 95%]
9> No large demographic group gets sent to internment camps [confidence: 99%]
10. Number of deportations during Trump’s four years will not be greater than Obama’s 8 [confidence: 90%]
If you disagree with me, come up with a bet and see if I’ll take it.
Wednesday, November 16, 2016
The ‘Excellent’ Electoral College - WSJ
Hillary Clinton looks likely to win the popular vote for President, and so arrive the perennial calls for a direct popular election. Even Donald Trump said on CBS’s “60 Minutes” this weekend that he’d prefer “simple votes.” But the Electoral College, for all its imperfections, is still a better way to choose a President.
The fact that Mrs. Clinton won the popular vote may console Democrats, but if that were the measure of victory we would have had a different campaign. Both candidates would have parked themselves in populous states like New York, and Mr. Trump would have spent weeks in Texas. As it is, the Republican nominee didn’t compete in Illinois or California, allowing Mrs. Clinton to pile up big majorities. Mrs. Clinton’s advantage in California alone—more than 2.7 million votes—accounts for more than her projected margin of victory of about two million.
One feature of the Electoral College is that it picks a decisive winner as early as possible. Mr. Trump’s victory across the Midwest gave him a solid majority in the Electoral College that everyone acknowledged. There was no waiting for absentee ballots or recounts. If you think a recount in one state like Florida in 2000 was corrosive, imagine a tight popular vote with contested results in 50 states and thousands of counties. The opportunities for fraud, or claims of fraud, would be endless.
The system also tends to narrow the field to two candidates who have a plausible path to 270 electoral votes. This is a weakness when the major parties produce two unpopular nominees, but that is an argument for the parties choosing better candidates. The Electoral College reduces the relevance of fringe candidates who could otherwise force themselves into importance in a national poll. Most voters in the end abandon third-party candidates so they won’t “waste” their vote. That’s what happened this year as voters moved away from Gary Johnson or Jill Stein.
Democrats gripe that their candidate won the popular vote in six of the past seven presidential elections but won only four. Yet before Tuesday they were saying Mrs. Clinton had the Electoral College advantage even if she lost the popular vote. They could be right in the future. The point for the country is whether the Electoral College helps elect a clear and legitimate winner, and this year it did so again.
Larry Arnn discusses the constitutional underpinnings of the Electoral College nearby. The Founders selected the system in part to moderate the worst impulses of a concentrated majority. Even after last week’s political earthquake, Alexander Hamilton’s words for the Electoral College in Federalist No. 68 hold up: “If the manner of it be not perfect, it is at least excellent.”
The Electoral College Is Anything But Outdated
In a deeply divided nation, a candidate shouldn’t be able to win by appealing only to urban sophisticates.
By LARRY P. ARNN
Nov. 14, 2016
The outrage from Hillary Clinton supporters came immediately: Donald Trump might have won the Electoral College, but he appears to have lost the popular vote. This was said to be a violation of democracy, one that defied the principle of “one man, one vote.” A Yale professor slandered the Founders by telling the website Vox that the Electoral College was created to protect slavery.
We can think about this better if we understand two things: What does the Electoral College do, and why does it do it?
On Dec. 19, the electors of every state and the District of Columbia will meet. Each state has the same number of electors as it does U.S. senators and representatives combined. The state legislature decides how the electors are selected.
The chosen electors are bound by custom everywhere and by law in many states to support the presidential candidate who won their state’s popular vote. If they fail to vote this way, they will be “faithless electors.” This has happened but rarely in the history of the presidency.
Everything about this process is as the Constitution directs, with the exception of the last bit. Nothing in the founding document requires electors to support the candidate who wins the popular vote in their state. In America’s early years many states did not even conduct popular presidential elections.
Instead electors were picked by state legislatures or by governors. The Framers had the idea that the electors, in choosing a president, would vote their consciences after deep discussion—and sometimes this happened. Often, however, electors were selected because they had declared support for a particular candidate.
As the practice of holding a popular vote spread, it was natural that the electors would follow those results. Still, the Electoral College continues to recognize that Americans vote by state—in the same way that they elect the Senate and the House, and the same way that they voted those many years ago to ratify the Constitution.
But now there is a national movement to require that electors support the presidential candidate who wins the national popular vote. The proposal, called the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact, has been passed by 10 states and the District of Columbia. Implementing this practice would be a disaster.
Consider for a minute why the Electoral College was invented. Although it is odd, it is also a plain expression of the Constitution, part of the structure that has made America’s founding document the best and longest lived in history.
The Constitution reflects the paradox of human nature: First, that we alone among earthly things may exercise our own volition; second, that sometimes we exercise such power badly. This is why we require laws to protect our rights, as well as restraints upon those who make and enforce those laws.
The Constitution is paradoxical most of all about power, which it grants and withholds, bestows and limits, aggregates and divides, liberates and restrains. Elections are staggered, so as to distribute them across time. The founding document also divides power across space; the people grant a share of their natural authority to the federal government, but another share to the states where they live.
This innovation is most directly responsible for the greatness of the United States. Think what the Founders achieved: They invented a way of governing, and they extended it without benefit of kings or colonies across a vast continent, bigger than they could imagine, until they got to the other side 30 years later. The magnificent Northwest Ordinance granted free government to the territories, then representative and independent state government thereafter. Ruled from Washington, the nation could never have settled this land in freedom nor made it so strong.
The practical political equality that the American people have achieved depends entirely upon their ability to spread political authority across a vast area. In American political life, it matters how many people are in favor of a given thing. It also matters where they live.
Mr. Trump joins John Quincy Adams,Rutherford B. Hayes,Benjamin Harrison and George W. Bush as the only presidents who won without the popular vote. After 2000, this is the second time in recent years—a product of the deep and wide division in America between the urban and the rural, the sophisticated and the rustic, the cosmopolitan and the local.
It is a shame that the winner this year, Mr. Trump, lost the popular vote by a whisker. But it would be as much or more a shame if Mrs. Clinton had prevailed despite massively losing the geographic vote, the vote across space, the vote that reflects the different ways that Americans live.
We forget that it is a historical rarity to have an executive strong enough to do the job but still responsible to the people he governs. The laws in the U.S. have worked that miracle for longer than anywhere else. Remember that the Electoral College helps establish the ground upon which the American people must talk with each other, while ensuring that they are not ruled as colonies from a bunch of blue capitals, nor from a bunch of red ones.
Tuesday, November 15, 2016
Bruce Schneier writes on election security
It's over. The voting went smoothly. As of the time of writing, there are no serious fraud allegations, nor credible evidence that anyone tampered with voting rolls or voting machines. And most important, the results are not in doubt.
While we may breathe a collective sigh of relief about that, we can't ignore the issue until the next election. The risks remain.
As computer security experts have been saying for years, our newly computerized voting systems are vulnerable to attack by both individual hackers and government-sponsored cyberwarriors. It is only a matter of time before such an attack happens.
Electronic voting machines can be hacked, and those machines that do not include a paper ballot that can verify each voter's choice can be hacked undetectably. Voting rolls are also vulnerable; they are all computerized databases whose entries can be deleted or changed to sow chaos on Election Day.
The largely ad hoc system in states for collecting and tabulating individual voting results is vulnerable as well. While the difference between theoretical if demonstrable vulnerabilities and an actual attack on Election Day is considerable, we got lucky this year. Not just presidential elections are at risk, but state and local elections, too.
To be very clear, this is not about voter fraud. The risks of ineligible people voting, or people voting twice, have been repeatedly shown to be virtually nonexistent, and "solutions" to this problem are largely voter-suppression measures. Election fraud, however, is both far more feasible and much more worrisome.
Here's my worry. On the day after an election, someone claims that a result was hacked. Maybe one of the candidates points to a wide discrepancy between the most recent polls and the actual results. Maybe an anonymous person announces that he hacked a particular brand of voting machine, describing in detail how. Or maybe it's a system failure during Election Day: voting machines recording significantly fewer votes than there were voters, or zero votes for one candidate or another. (These are not theoretical occurrences; they have both happened in the United States before, though because of error, not malice.)
We have no procedures for how to proceed if any of these things happen. There's no manual, no national panel of experts, no regulatory body to steer us through this crisis. How do we figure out if someone hacked the vote? Can we recover the true votes, or are they lost? What do we do then?
First, we need to do more to secure our elections system. We should declare our voting systems to be critical national infrastructure. This is largely symbolic, but it demonstrates a commitment to secure elections and makes funding and other resources available to states.
We need national security standards for voting machines, and funding for states to procure machines that comply with those standards. Voting-security experts can deal with the technical details, but such machines must include a paper ballot that provides a record verifiable by voters. The simplest and most reliable way to do that is already practiced in 37 states: optical-scan paper ballots, marked by the voters, counted by computer but recountable by hand. And we need a system of pre-election and postelection security audits to increase confidence in the system.
Second, election tampering, either by a foreign power or by a domestic actor, is inevitable, so we need detailed procedures to follow -- both technical procedures to figure out what happened, and legal procedures to figure out what to do -- that will efficiently get us to a fair and equitable election resolution. There should be a board of independent computer-security experts to unravel what happened, and a board of independent election officials, either at the Federal Election Commission or elsewhere, empowered to determine and put in place an appropriate response.
In the absence of such impartial measures, people rush to defend their candidate and their party. Florida in 2000 was a perfect example. What could have been a purely technical issue of determining the intent of every voter became a battle for who would win the presidency. The debates about hanging chads and spoiled ballots and how broad the recount should be were contested by people angling for a particular outcome. In the same way, after a hacked election, partisan politics will place tremendous pressure on officials to make decisions that override fairness and accuracy.
That is why we need to agree on policies to deal with future election fraud. We need procedures to evaluate claims of voting-machine hacking. We need a fair and robust vote-auditing process. And we need all of this in place before an election is hacked and battle lines are drawn.
In response to Florida, the Help America Vote Act of 2002 required each state to publish its own guidelines on what constitutes a vote. Some states -- Indiana, in particular -- set up a "war room" of public and private cybersecurity experts ready to help if anything did occur. While the Department of Homeland Security is assisting some states with election security, and the F.B.I. and the Justice Department made some preparations this year, the approach is too piecemeal.
Elections serve two purposes. First, and most obvious, they are how we choose a winner. But second, and equally important, they convince the loser -- and all the supporters -- that he or she lost. To achieve the first purpose, the voting system must be fair and accurate. To achieve the second one, it must be *shown* to be fair and accurate.
We need to have these conversations before something happens, when everyone can be calm and rational about the issues. The integrity of our elections is at stake, which means our democracy is at stake.
Saturday, November 12, 2016
Clayton Cramer.: Another Popular Lie
I understand that on some social media sites, Trump's victory is being blamed on Southern states closing black precinct polling places, so blacks couldn't vote. This seemed implausible, and should generated a storm of lamestream media whining. What I found was this story about how expiration of the Voting Rights Act allowed state and local governments to consolidate and reorganize precincts without federal supervision. There was no closing of polling places on Election Day; these stories are from before Election Day.
Of course, you could find out where your polling place was with a phone call, but that would require you to care. Black voting was down from 2008 and 2012 because there was no black man running for President. The progressives just don't like admitting their voting base is racist.
Friday, November 11, 2016
I voted for Pence, but the only way to do that was to darken Trump's bubble on the ballot.
So I did.
For those who live outside of the US, you won’t understand just how much regulation the largest government on the planet can inflict, nor will it be easily understood just how much tax is being paid by business. There is a reason manufacturing has left the US in droves. I haven’t looked up historic records of such things, but the loss of American manufacturing capability has to be the single greatest migration of business in human history. Again, bulk math drives the situation. When a situation creates pressure for action the people or businesses respond to those pressures in kind. If the costs and regulations are higher in one area than another, like gas law, the business will flow from high pressure to low at a non-zero rate only slowed by the frictions caused by such movement.And that's why my feeling after the election was one of relief.
And flow it has. From America to the rest of the world. To business friendly countries like China, Tiawan and now even VietNam. Countries with leaders who understand math outweighs feelings and oddly enough – Capitalism. These are people who understand that personal spaces and micro-agression are foolish in their very concept. They laugh at us – literally! These are folks who get that a building is very unlikely to really harm the planet and far more likely to provide a service to the population. They know that global warming is not a real threat but is an excellent economic business relocating pressure to use in against people who think it is. You know, common sense things like that which America’s liberals generally fail to understand.
Despite this flow of business away from America, and in fact completely without regard for said flow, American liberals actively wish to destroy business. The young generation has been taught that all business is greed and greed is a greater evil than not eating. See we live in a country where people aren’t starving, they have grown up without even the hint of a day without food. They live in cities and eat food transported to them from all over the world. They go to schools where indoctrination and acceptance of liberal belief is primary, feelings are a close second and math and science drop way down the list as useful things to understand. The acceptance of illogic is foundational to modern American liberalism. Fakenomics, global warming doom, cow farting is destroying the planet for gods sake, are part and parcel of the system they unwittingly serve.
I’m extremely disappointed with the protests in the cities to Trumps election. While it was often quoted by the fake media that Clinton’s supporters were more educated than Trump, what was nearly unreported was that Trump even won the now known to be inaccurate polling results among people who made more than 30,000 per year. I personally define this group as functional people. The protesters in the cities were obviously a young crowd, and were apparently really focused on Trump racism – because the media here spends much of its time telling people that republicans and conservatives are racist. After the endless liberal media channels realized that all of their advertising for Clinton, all of their unpaid and unabashed support for the democrats wasn’t enough to put a crook in office, that is when the lashing out began. I heard them repeatedly discuss Republican anger and hate, it was the uneducated rural folk who voted, that their anger against the billionaires was the problem. Never once in the first few hours following the election did they discuss that it was regulation, taxation, or of course the utter lack of common sense espoused by the current Democrat governance. Certainly not the fact that Hillary was and is a face-palm obvious criminal.
Then there were the protests. What was most disappointing to me about the protests was the fake claims of Trump racism, because I didn’t know of any examples. I took a minute to search the internet for examples of racism that Trump has exhibited and quickly found the exact sort of illogical argument the liberals have been so well trained to accept with religious fervor. From the Huffington post, an article titled – Here Are 13 Examples Of Donald Trump Being Racist.
The article goes on and on with completely nonsensical claims, he didn’t hire ‘mostly minorities’ in one casino, the very definition of minority means less of them. The gave an example of one person who apparently made outrageous claims which the post didn’t even attempt to verify – even with a second opinion. Trump didn’t disown David Duke quickly enough for them, Trump didn’t use the right politically correct language, he accused a Bridgeport casino of being run by non-Indians mafia types, on and on but outside of the unsubstantiated outrageous claims by some guy who was clearly not a Trump supporter and for all we know doesn’t even exist, they had no actual examples of racisim.
- Attacking muslim gold star parents.
- Muslim is not a race, it is a religion. The argument with them was an avoidable situation but it certainly cannot be characterized as racist. It is an unhealthy religion too but in today’s liberal-think I’m not allowed to have that opinion but as a sexist republican, I cannot accept a religion which treats women so badly and by its own tenants doesn’t allow them the choice to exit. I also recognize it as an authoritarian government structure rather than a religion. — But again, whether you can figure that out or not, it is not racism to have an argument with a Muslim.
- He claimed a judge was biased because he was a Mexican
- So, while making policy which is clearly against Mexico, it is racist to even argue that a Judge from that region might be biased? I think even the slightest bit of common sense says otherwise. Oh, and Mexico is a country, not a race so again the argument defies logic.
- The justice department sued his company twice for housing discrimination.
- Lawsuits are not racism. They cannot be by definition. In business, you get sued, you go to court, you have problems with all kinds of people, you are a continual target for the Federal government. We don’t know the details of these suits and neither does the post. Did Trump do something racist in 1972, maybe, but calling the lawsuit an example of racism is completely bogus.
One of the points the article attempted was the condoning of the beating of a black lives matter protester. Remember the apologies by the political left when they said ‘All Lives Matter’ and the backlash from the African community? Boy I do. And the backlash when people say blue lives matter.. Well the Post displayed a short video with the claims that the protester was being kicked on the ground. Since that time we have learned that the ‘protesters’ were being paid by the Democrat party to deliberately incite violence at these rallys. A crime for sure, but again the left-wing press is nowhere to be found when that absolutely damning video and email evidence of CRIMINAL activity by the Democrat party was produced. It is not racism to disagree with these people.
The problem with an objective reading of the Post article, is that none of the 13 examples are Trump racism. The language is inflammatory which you can tell from the title. It probably makes readers feel a certain way, but it logically is not racism.
In direct contrast, the liberal party of America is openly racist. Black lives matter might have started with a good thought but it is nothing but an anti-white hate group which is more violent, more popular, and more numerous than the also=evil KKK itself. The group is openly anti-white, openly anti-law and represents an evil sickness within the African community. The KKK and Black lives matter are equal groups in all things racist. Images and video of white people being beaten, abused and attacked for the sole crime of being white are quite common, and instead of rejecting the hate, liberals embrace it even inviting them to the white house because it is a popular movement. And because white people have pale skin.
The liberal party of America is also sexist. The LGBT community leads the way in this with anti-marriage, anti-male rhetoric of the worst kind. What is worse is that the worst of these groups are openly supported by the liberal media as a solution to a problem which largely doesn’t exist. While decrying Hillary’s loss as sexism, the media openly campaigned for a Woman simply because she was female and a black man simply because he was black. While you may agree that we need a woman in the White house, the very statement is sexist BY definition! While a black man is in the white house, promoting him simply because he was black was 100% racist, and much of the liberal media did exactly that in both cases. I was raised that all people are equal under the law, not that some are more equal than others and that IS how I chose to live my life.
Why isn’t the goal simply finding the best person with the best qualities is beyond me. Like all of my friends, we don’t care one whit what color a persons skin is. We don’t care what sort of hardware they hold in their pants. I liked Fiorina (a woman) first and then Carson a very smart doctor who, if you give a crap about such things, also happened to have black skin. Contrast that with the liberals in power promoted a woman’s candidacy over any shred of common sense simply due to the SEX she represented. They wanted to repeat the feat they performed with a black man, so the so-smart yet math-ignorant elitists in media, who would control rather than report, espoused the virtues of A CROOK in public for nearly two years. Hillary Clinton is a liar, a cheat, a theif and would sell the United States of America at the drop of a hat — because she already has. The media directly cheated the public to do so as well, handing Hillary debate questions (we will likely find out more about that in the future), coordinating with the DNC on what questions to ask Trump, actively colluding to destroy Sanders. All of which they did while holding their heads aloof and pretending that it was simply reporting. It is not only CNN which has this problem.
So my Trump voting “problem” these left-wing fools can’t understand, is NOT sexist, it is NOT racist, it is not anger against billionaires, it is not the desperation of a failing middle class individual that drives our decision, and nor is it some confused hillbilly in a pickup truck with two teeth and a dog —– it IS logic. A skill that the left-wing schools in America have successfully removed from the curriculum’s of our universities and high schools. How that particular bit isn’t obvious to the media, is as shocking to me as not being able to point out the sun on a clear day at noon.
So watching those young folk storm the streets in protest makes me sick to my stomach. The evils they represent are completely unknown to them. They are oblivious to the hunger and anguish which will be created by a collapsing economy under the pressures of an all powerful central government. The lassez fair shoulder shrugs they give when you talk about manufacturing leaving the country combined with the angry vitriol over climate change doom when one is in evidence and the other is not, are just another symptom of their immense ignorance. I very much fear for America because while we might have a supreme court with a bit of common sense in the future, we simply cannot overcome that much stupid in the long term. When a crook can garner that much of the vote, what hope do we have? When people have their heads up their asses, literally protest and cry as that same crook is not put into the highest position of the country, how can any other form of logic be expected to form within their minds.
But for now I will relax a little while understanding the really good news; that our supreme courts eventual transformation into the extreme court, that increased tax rates on the highest taxed businesses in the world, and that increases in the endless draconian regulation of the US federal, state and local governments
…… won’t be happening today!!
I voted for Pence, but the only way to do that was to darken Trump's bubble on the ballot.
So I did.
Thursday, November 10, 2016
Let’s Be Honest: Hillary Clinton Doesn’t Care about Black People | The Progressive Army
When it comes to communities of color, many celebrities (now including West himself), have chosen to pursue a “safer,” less controversial route by ultimately siding with power over the people. During election 2016, for example, most celebrities of color have fawned over Hillary Clinton, a political figure whose neglect and abuse of marginalized groups is well established. Getting more specific, one can count popular black figures willing to hold Clinton publically accountable on one hand. Two such figures are San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who has excoriated Clinton for her racism, and Dr. Cornel West, who opted to endorse Jill Stein for president after backing Bernie Sanders in the primaries instead of the person he refers to as a “neoliberal disaster.” In the storm of mainstream praise for Clinton regarding her supposed willingness to “listen” to marginalized communities, Kaepernick and West have served as lighthouses, and for a good reason.
The reality is that duplicity reigns supreme in Clintonian rhetoric. From internal discourse to public speeches and related policy, Clinton and her campaign prefer to play to “both sides,” always at the expense of the most vulnerable. While canned statements by Clinton and her surrogates may open with an embrace of the Arab-American community, for example, subsequent lines create a false dichotomy of “good,” patriotic Arabs and “bad,” subversive Arabs, with the former charged with the undue burden of gathering intel on the latter. Likewise, when Clinton speaks about police brutality against black people, she immediately follows that assertion with calls to obey law enforcement officers, simultaneously creating a false equivalence between the two groups that minimizes violence against unarmed civilians. Most recently, Clinton has emphasized the importance of listening to “all voices” in a dispute over land use in the construction of an oil pipeline in North Dakota, with one voice being that of indigenous water protectors and their allies, while the other is that of heavily armed police and privately-contracted security forces with attack dogs and machine guns at their sides. The incongruence is glaring.
Despite the magnificent fluency of Clinton’s doublespeak and triangulation, Clinton supporters continue to applaud her “progressivism” on racial issues, while her political record, words, and behavior during both the 2008 and 2016 elections indicate otherwise. Clinton’s reluctance to fully embrace policies that would disproportionately benefit marginalized groups is well documented. Furthermore, correspondence exposed over the course of the election, in particular, the most recent leak of Clinton campaign manager John Podesta’s emails, provides further confirmation of what some of us already know: Hillary Clinton doesn’t care about black people. Unfortunately, other marginalized groups have not fared well on Clinton’s watch either, a problem that will no doubt continue should she become president. As her leaked private speeches readily intimate, Clinton’s primary concern is the happiness of her donors, whose interests she thinly veils with platitudes sufficient enough to appease her voter base.
This concern is in no way exclusive to Hillary Clinton. On the contrary, many figures in our current political state serve in office not to represent the needs of their constituents, but to fatten their respective wallets and contact lists. The reality, however, is that at the moment, only the Clinton campaign’s email correspondence has been made available to the public. It is Clinton and her campaign staffers whose words convey a sense of indifference toward the concerns of people of color. While one can argue that the attitudes members of the campaign express toward marginalized groups are not those of Clinton herself, it bears considering the adage that the culture of a company starts at the top.
It is this culture that we must consider in greater depth. As Clinton’s team and those in their indirect employ in the media insist that voters have an obligation to support Clinton to “protect” marginalized groups from the wrath of Trump and his supporters, it is of the utmost importance that we familiarize ourselves with the attitudes they hold of the groups they purport not only to represent, but to “save.” The public rhetoric of the Clinton campaign and its supporters toward people of color takes a page out of Rudyard Kipling’s imperialist and paternalistic poem “The White Man’s Burden,” now refashioned for the twenty-first century, and should not slip under the radar unnoticed.
Patterns of Neglect
As with Kipling’s vision of the U.S. government toward its new foreign subjects at the turn of the twentieth century, Clinton’s team has sought to offer the bare minimum to its “captured minority” electorate. Despite all the careful details in Clinton team emails – from the countless speeches staffers edit to tweets they mull over for hours to get just right – substance is noticeably absent from the output. This approach is by design. In several instances, those working on the campaign actively discourage the slightest mention of policy, seemingly less in the interest of caution than to explicitly avoid accountability for anything said on the record. Take, for example, the suggestion to emphasize feeling over substance in September of 2015 from policy advisor Kristina Costa about a Clinton op-ed in the Spanish-language paper La Opinión. Costa says the team must “lay out a passionate case for why HRC stands with the Latino community and call out the Republicans for their rhetoric, rather than leaning on policy positions.” Similarly, in a June 2015 discussion over a tweet regarding the debt crisis in Puerto Rico, policy advisor Ann O’Leary notes with caution that she and Clinton “don’t want to suggest a bailout,” and instead “want to suggest that [they] should partner to solve the problem.” Clinton’s subsequent endorsement of the vulture-fund backed PROMESA bill, and her continued support from big banks demonstrate that “suggestions” are likely all that Puerto Ricans will get from Clinton in their fight for economic sovereignty.
Consider this approach to avoid solidifying policy positions alongside information from a leaked March 2016 DCCC internal memo that advises Democrats in a set of “best practices” to follow when dealing with Black Lives Matter activists in person. Democrats are encouraged to limit contact with activists to “personal or small group meetings” that give the appearance of concern without “offer[ing] support for concrete policy positions.” This method of neutralizing confrontational forms of activism continues into the present, with Clinton having met on several occasions with two well-known figures of Black Lives Matter, though no video footage or transcript of the most recent meeting in late October has been released to date. Shortly following the meeting, Clinton received their endorsement, which the Black Lives Matter network clarified does not speak for the entire movement.
This fear of confrontation pervades the Clinton campaign emails, as staffers express concern on several occasions of being held publically accountable not only for Clinton’s record on the issues, but her gaffes during the campaign. In February of this year, with the South Carolina primary fast approaching, protester Ashley Williams revived criticism of Clinton’s use of the racially charged term “super predator” during a speech she gave in 1996 in support of the now infamous Crime Bill that expanded the U.S. prison system by astronomical proportions.
Though an exasperated Clinton responded to Williams claiming that she had not discussed the issue because “nobody’s ever asked [her] before,” emails between staffers show that Clinton was indeed well-aware of the issue and her team was crafting a preemptive response. As noted below, just days before Williams’s protest, the Clinton camp had been preparing to address the issue briefly during an interview slated with the Tavis Smiley show, then have Clinton “pivot to [her] Senate record.” What they penned during the exchange of emails went on instead to become the text for Clinton’s expression of regret over her use of the term “super predator” that Washington Post columnist Jonathan Capehart cited in his article about the protest.
Similarly, in another fraught exchange two weeks later, Clinton staffers went into full damage control mode to soften the blow from dismay over ahistorical claims Clinton made during Nancy Reagan’s funeral. In a moment of reflection on Nancy Reagan’s time in the White House, Clinton lied – later claiming she misspoke – that the Reagans had “started a national conversation [about HIV/AIDS] when before nobody would talk about it, nobody wanted to do anything about it.” What Clinton claimed was Nancy Reagan’s “very effective, low-key advocacy” that “penetrated the public conscience” was anything but, as both Reagans maintained a cold silence amid thousands of deaths from AIDS-related complications during the early years of the HIV/AIDS crisis in the United States.
As Clinton’s history has demonstrated with disturbing predictability, if she is consistent about one thing, it is that she has sided with the powerful far more than those dealing with considerable adversity. As writer and income equality advocate Katherine Geier has argued, despite Clinton’s claims she is a champion for the less fortunate, she has repeatedly prioritized the interests of their oppressors instead. Clinton’s record bears out this assertion. After hearing Martin Luther King, Jr. speak in 1962, Clinton not only campaigned for virulently racist presidential candidate Barry Goldwater in 1964, but as recently as 1996 expressed pride in having been a “Goldwater Girl.” Decades after spending her honeymoon in Haiti, she, her husband, and their associates would go on to misuse funds meant for hurricane relief in the nation, orchestrate handing over power to a corrupt puppet government, and attempt to exploit the nation’s natural resources.
Hillary Clinton giving a speech to promote investment in HaitiAfter graduating from law school, Clinton briefly interned with the Children’s Defense Fund, though the time she spent “defending” lower-income women and their children clearly was not enough to dissuade her from advocating for the dismantling of programs and protections they depended on to survive. After her time at CDF, Clinton went on not only to serve on the board of Walmart, a corporation notorious for union busting, low wages, and employee mistreatment, but also to campaign alongside Bill as he gutted the welfare system. Similarly, years after declaring that “women’s rights are human rights” at a conference in Beijing in 1995, she repeatedly violated the human rights of women and girls by voting in 2002 to authorize the Iraq War, by orchestrating (and subsequently defending) intervention in Libya in 2011, by facilitating massive weapons deals to Saudi Arabia to attack Yemen, and by backing a 2009 coup in Honduras that has resulted in the murders of activists and an increase in femicide. The body count in the aforementioned acts of state terror, particularly of women and girls, continue to rise on a daily basis.
The examples above form just the tip of the iceberg, providing a mere glimpse into a larger pattern of violence Clinton engages in and that her team regularly papers over with displays of “charity.” What expands into the territory of harmful policies and practices begins first as a form of disaster capitalism at the electoral level. Over the course of the primary and well into the general election, Clinton has cloaked herself in the suffering of others, relying on a type of atmospheric adversity or empathy by proxy, while her own social status and immense privilege prove she could not be further removed from the downtrodden groups for whom she claims to “fight.” Amid these glaring contradictions, Clinton’s campaign continues to search for people with so little to lose they are willing to place their faith in a person who has shown time and time again that she cares more about a photo op than their wellbeing.
In the United States, crises in black communities, in particular, have provided fertile ground for the Clinton campaign to cultivate its supposed social justice bona fides, and when they come to harvest, they are well rewarded. From the prevalence of toxic, lead-contaminated water in Flint, Michigan to the relentless extinguishing of lives by trigger-happy police officers and homegrown racist terrorists, black tragedy has been Clinton’s greatest boon. Discussions in leaked emails demonstrate the ways the Clinton campaign has repeatedly used human suffering to its electoral advantage.
Hillary Clinton in Flint
In an email from February, at the height of media coverage of the water crisis in Flint, Demos board member and Planned Parenthood Action Fund chair Gina Glantz congratulates Clinton on a “brilliant” trip to Flint and for “getting ahead of [Bernie Sanders] around ‘caring,’” a word Glantz placed in quotation marks. One could argue that Glantz’s strange punctuation was simply for the sake of emphasis had she not continued in the email to list tragedies similar to the Flint water crisis where Clinton’s “caring” could “be repeated.” In the email, Glantz advises that “there must be any number of low income communities with high rates of asthma or other stuff in South Carolina sitting next to fossil fuel plants belching out toxic material.” While Glantz remarks that these crises were “not on the scale of Flint,” they were “sure to be found all across the country” for Clinton to capitalize on during the primary. A week before Glantz gave the campaign her two cents, another Clinton supporter, megadonor Phillip Munger, forwarded an article about an NAACP-led lawsuit over incidents of voter suppression in Georgia to Podesta and Clinton’s foreign policy and national security advisor Jake Sullivan. With it, Munger left the hint, “This could be like the Flint moment…” as if to imply that the campaign could use black disenfranchisement to secure the nomination, a rather ironic suggestion considering their subsequent silence on election irregularities throughout the primaries.
Upon a Clinton win, two fates await black people in the United States – though likely, in several degrees, other people of color as well: 1) we will be neglected, only to be offered platitudes at best upon complaint and/or 2) we will be used in the interest of sustaining empire. Some people will be happy with one (or both) of these options because we as a people are so well-conditioned. After all, Obama gave us these two options as well, though he was sure to include a third: using us as punching bags in areas where he had failed us, offering scolding sessions instead of policy. It will be much harder for Clinton to scold people of color simply because the optics will be bad and it will appear racist (which, to be honest, it is, even when Obama does it). Clinton will fall back on her usual triangulation instead, and plenty of people of color will happily serve as her consummate apologists. We are watching them practice right now. They will pretend to be concerned about certain issues that affect less economically fortunate people of color, but, ultimately, it will all just be an act, a little dent in an otherwise solid structure of power they uphold in hopes of keeping their positions in line to one day sit atop it.
Tuesday, November 08, 2016
FBI Director Confirms that Hillary Lied, and Mishandled Classified Material
On Sunday, FBI Director James Comey sought to put a cap on the bottle he opened on October 28 when he announced that the FBI was once again investigating Hillary Clinton’s emails, based on a device they had discovered containing what turned out to be approximately 650,000 emails. The device was the shared computer of sexting pervert and former congressman Anthony Weiner and his long suffering wife, Huma Abedin, top aide to Hillary Clinton and a woman with deep ties to the Muslim Brotherhood.
Comey caused an uproar in the campaign, on both sides of the aisle. Democrats and their allies in the media were outraged that Comey would drop this bomb into the campaign with 11 days until the election, and not explain the urgency or the substance of his findings. Many Republicans, and their allies, who were outraged by Comey’s conclusions back in July—namely that Hillary Clinton was guilty of serious violations of the law, but that he didn’t believe that she had any criminal intent, nor that “any reasonable prosecutor” would attempt to prosecute the case against her—were saying that maybe Comey was going to implicate Hillary in serious criminal activity after all. He wouldn’t have reopened this matter, they believed, if he didn’t have something new and serious that he had seen.
Now, the roles are reversed again, with Democrats claiming that Comey’s latest statement represents a complete vindication for Hillary, while Republicans are questioning the timing and point of the whole exercise. Did the FBI, even with their high-tech reading devices, actually go through 650,000 emails in a week, and conclude that there is no there there? And why is the State Department only able to process 500 emails per month? The wheels of justice seem to turn at whatever pace the Democrats need them to.
I have a bit of a different take. In the November 6 letter to Congress, Comey stated:
“I write to supplement my October 28, 2016 letter that notified you the FBI would be taking additional investigative steps with respect to former Secretary of State Clinton’s use of a personal email server. Since my letter, the FBI investigative team has been working around the clock to process and review a large volume of emails from a device obtained in connection with an unrelated criminal investigation. During that process, we reviewed all of the communications that were to or from Hillary Clinton while she was Secretary of State.
“Based on our review, we have not changed our conclusions that we expressed in July with respect to Secretary Clinton.”
While Comey did, in fact, argue back in July that he was not recommending an indictment or prosecution of Hillary, he also drew other “conclusions that we expressed in July with respect to Secretary Clinton.” He had concluded that she lied when she said that she hadn’t sent or received classified materials on her private, unsecured server. She lied when she said that nothing that she sent or received was marked classified. She lied when she said that she only used one device, when in fact she used at least 13 devices, at least two of which were destroyed by hammers. And she lied when she said that she had turned over all of her work-related emails. No, in fact Comey said that there were “thousands” of work-related emails they found that she had not turned over. You can watch here to see Comey draw all of these “conclusions” back in July.
This is what the Clinton campaign is wearing as a badge of complete exoneration, and a closing of the books on her so-called email scandal, which is actually a national security scandal. As we have often pointed out, others have gone to jail, been fined, lost their security clearances and were run out of public life for far less egregious examples of mishandling classified material.
Andy McCarthy, the former U.S. Attorney who successfully prosecuted the Blind Sheikh for his involvement in the first World Trade Center bombing, argued back in July that Comey basically rewrote the law. Comey “conceded that former Secretary Clinton was ‘extremely careless’ and strongly suggested that her recklessness very likely led to communications (her own and those she corresponded with) being intercepted by foreign intelligence services.”
McCarthy added that “Comey recommended against prosecution of the law violations he clearly found on the ground that there was no intent to harm the United States.”
“In essence,” wrote McCarthy, “in order to give Mrs. Clinton a pass, the FBI rewrote the statute, inserting an intent element that Congress did not require. The added intent element, moreover, makes no sense: The point of having a statute that criminalizes gross negligence is to underscore that government officials have a special obligation to safeguard national defense secrets; when they fail to carry out that obligation due to gross negligence, they are guilty of serious wrongdoing. The lack of intent to harm our country is irrelevant. People never intend the bad things that happen due to gross negligence.”
But this has been a corrupt process. The fix was in. It had to be to protect President Obama as well, who knowingly exchanged emails with Hillary on her private server. As Politico pointed out, “President Barack Obama used a pseudonym in email communications with Hillary Clinton and others, according to FBI records…” Those FBI records, released in late September, confirmed what McCarthy had earlier predicted: “As I explained in February,” wrote McCarthy, “when it emerged that the White House was refusing to disclose at least 22 communications Obama had exchanged with then-secretary Clinton over the latter’s private e-mail account, we knew that Obama had knowingly engaged in the same misconduct that was the focus of the Clinton probe: the reckless mishandling of classified information.”
It is possible that America will be electing someone as president on Tuesday who has committed serious crimes that could all be wiped away by a presidential pardon. The media’s failure to accurately cover this story could very well be the cause of a major constitutional crisis, the likes we’ve never witnessed before.
Saturday, November 05, 2016
Maybe the Right-Wing Media Isn’t Crazy, After All | Vanity Fair
Hat tip: Ace of Spades:
Virtually every day during the past year, I’ve digested a daily dose of Breitbart, the alt-right Web site that many journalists, including myself, have described as “Trump Pravda.” A typical day on Breitbart includes any number of articles extolling the rise of Donald Trump, including the massive size of his rallies and (on and off) his fast-rising poll numbers. There are also several pieces attacking the “mainstream media,” usually CNN, The New York Times or The Washington Post. Recently, there have been a slew of pieces from the Clinton WikiLeaks cache, which are part of a larger set of articles showcasing the couple’s venality, arrogance, and sexual peccadillos. The reporting, such as it is, is generally factually accurate, but mean-spirited and fantastically one-sided. If Breitbart were your primary news source, you would receive a view of the election that would be largely distorted and wholly unrecognizable to swaths of the American public.
When I checked the news the other day, it was more of the same. I counted some 20 articles about the presidential race, each espousing the unequivocal view that one candidate is collapsing due to moral failings, financial improprieties, and complete and utter lack of judgment and ethics. Notably, I was not reading Breitbart. Instead, I was reading The Washington Post, delivered to my doorstep, and the attacks were squarely waged not against the Clintons but rather against Trump.
In the Front Section, there was an incredible array of Trump-phobia, ranging from attacks on his business acuity to his ethics (“How Trump got a personal tax break by defaulting on loans”), to his personal knowledge (“Trump’s map of black America needs an update”), to stupid opinions about Trump (“Nader predicts fastest impeachment in history for a President Trump”), to smart opinions about Trump (“A contemptible candidate—and the party to blame for it”).
If you think this is limited to the National News portion of the paper, you would be mistaken. The Metro section, which typically reports on the Washington, D.C. area, was headlined by a news article describing the dysfunction at the Trump campaign in Virginia and a column arguing that Trump watching should be rated R for children. The top article in the Style section sported a massive feature on the Trump meltdown, supplemented by a column attacking Steve Bannon, the C.E.O. of the Trump campaign and the former head honcho at Breitbart. The sports section featured a column attacking Trump and defending, of all things, locker-room culture. Only the Health section lacked a Trump hook. (Trump, as you may recall, temporarily banned WaPo reporters from his campaign events.)
Rather remarkably, there was virtually no mention of Clinton or any other candidate running for president on this particular day. And so I repeated this little thought experiment again last week and the results were largely the same. The Post should not be blamed for criticizing a candidate who has demonstrated xenophobic, racist, and sexually predatory behavior. But even at the end of perhaps the worst stretch of weeks for a candidate in modern American electoral history, perhaps 45 percent of the electorate, some 55 million voters or so, still will vote for Trump. And some of them may wonder if the Post put their fat thumbs on the electoral scales.
We are all, by now, familiar with the belief among the Republican right that the so-called mainstream media is in fact the liberal media. This is an article of faith that has become a driving force for growth at Fox News and Breitbart, among other news organizations. There is, to be totally fair, some basis for this critique, but it has long ago been hyped and distorted beyond all factual recognition. And there has always been, at the very least, a concerted effort at places like The New York Times and The Washington Post to offer a balanced view, even if that effort is occasionally undermined by inevitable group think and lack of connection with parts of the country.
This effort, whether or not it satisfies a Breitbart or Fox audience, has always set them apart from partisan media like the Washington Times. But this election is different: for the first time in my memory, some of the major media organizations in this country have now abandoned all semblance of objectivity in furtherance of electing Hillary Clinton, or perhaps more accurately, in furtherance of the defeat of Donald Trump.
I recognize that this is Trump we’re talking about here, and that many voters might view his nomination as a one-time mental breakdown of the Republican Party. But let’s not be so sure. Attitude changes like these have a way of normalizing very quickly. I can easily imagine, for instance, a similar response from the mainstream media if Mike Huckabee or Ted Cruz, or some other similarly non-traditional candidate were to secure the nomination of the Republican Party for President in 2020. Having helped successfully scuttle the nomination of one candidate, it may be terribly tempting for our leading organizations and media outlets to seek an encore performance.
There is additional complexity here. We have typically understood the media debate in this country as being waged between right vs. left. But that vertical division within our politics has been replaced by a more dystopian horizontal battle line. Many media consumers now perceive our political struggle as being disputed between establishment members and outsiders, somewhat divorced from political perspective. Many Trumpists will interpret press coverage of the campaign as the establishment rising up to defend their interests from the outsiders, the working class, and the dispossessed. They may argue and believe that Bernie Sanders, were he elected as the Democratic nominee, would also have suffered a media rough ride. We can be doubtful about the truthfulness of that claim, though it is unknowable one way or the other. But our doubt will not diminish the passionate belief of many that this has all been about the revenge of the Party of Davos.
Don’t mistake me for some traditionalist harrumphing that the media is not the way it used to be in the good old days. We had partisan media long before we had objective media. And Trump is an affront to American democracy and common decency, and if this is the price to pay for keeping him out of the White House, so be it. But there is most certainly a price to pay. The next time Fox News or Breitbart caterwaul about media bias, the claim will have substantially more bite to it.
Trump emerged, after all, at a time when news organizations had become increasingly desperate for attention and audience, and the revenues that come with them. And Trump was, in some very real ways, a salvation for news organizations that feared consumer indifference in a race presumed to be headlined by two overly familiar and less than riveting characters in Clinton and Jeb (!) Bush. Their lavish attention to his candidacy enabled the rise of Trump and, whether consciously or not, they are seeking to kill the monster they helped create.
This is not an argument at all for moral equivalency between Breitbart and, say, The Washington Post. That would be ludicrous, but all media organizations are grappling with changing audience expectations and demands. As Emma Roller wrote recently in The New York Times, “The strongest bias in American politics is not a liberal bias or a conservative bias; it is a confirmation bias, or the urge to believe only things that confirm what you already believe to be true.”
Audiences are increasingly seeking, and demanding, news that fits their personal notion of what is important and what is true. This is not only via Facebook and social media but also from the major news providers. I read the comment sections regularly on all these media sites; it is often awful, especially on Breitbart, but it gives you a real window into the most intense media consumers. And judging by these comments, Clinton may win the general election by 3 or 4 points, but she is going to win The New York Times primary by 70 or 80 points. And it is not simply that they have opinions on one side or another; they are routinely demanding coverage that conforms to their world view, and they have the choice to go elsewhere if they are not served.
In a fragmenting media world, with rapidly changing norms and vast choices for consumers, any media company that wants to survive over the long run, will need to factor in the demands of their best customers for news that fits their political biases. That need not be done by changing the facts, as happens too often in many places online, but by offering stories that cement a particular view of the world. That may be good for business, and audience, but it is most certainly not good for the notion of a democracy that depends on some notion of shared values and common discourse.
Hat tip: Ace of Spades:
The Washington Post has been particularly foul -- starting about four years ago, they re-made themselves into, essentially, a Social Justice Warrior blog with a sports section.
More: Don Surber says the press went all in for Clinton -- and got a tie for their spastic efforts.
They've stripped themselves of all credibility, reputability, and, worst of all, influence.
No one will ever believe them again.
No one. Ever
Thursday, November 03, 2016
Stupid vs. Evil? - Charles Krauthammer
To understand the workings of American politics, you have to understand this fundamental law: Conservatives think liberals are stupid. Liberals think conservatives are evil.
For the first side of this equation, I need no sources. As a conservative, I can confidently attest that whatever else my colleagues might disagree about--Bosnia, John McCain, precisely how many orphans we're prepared to throw into the snow so the rich can have their tax cuts--we all agree that liberals are stupid.
We mean this, of course, in the nicest way. Liberals tend to be nice, and they believe--here is where they go stupid--that most everybody else is nice too. Deep down, that is. Sure, you've got your multiple felon and your occasional war criminal, but they're undoubtedly depraved 'cause they're deprived. If only we could get social conditions right--eliminate poverty, teach anger management, restore the ozone, arrest John Ashcroft--everyone would be holding hands smiley-faced, rocking back and forth to ``We Shall Overcome.''
Liberals believe that human nature is fundamentally good. The fact that this is contradicted by, oh, 4,000 years of human history simply tells them how urgent is the need for their next seven-point program for the social reform of everything.
Liberals suffer incurably from naivete, the stupidity of the good heart. Who else but that oracle of American liberalism, The New York Times, could run the puzzled headline: ``Crime Keeps On Falling, but Prisons Keep On Filling.''
But? How about this wild theory: If you lock up the criminals, crime declines.
Accordingly, the conservative attitude toward liberals is one of compassionate condescension. Liberals are not quite as reciprocally charitable. It is natural. They think conservatives are mean. How can conservatives believe in the things they do--self-reliance, self-discipline, competition, military power--without being soulless? How to understand the conservative desire to actually abolish welfare, if it is not to punish the poor? The argument that it would increase self-reliance and thus ultimately reduce poverty is dismissed as meanness rationalized--or as Rep. Major Owens, D-N.Y., put it more colorfully in a recent House debate on welfare reform, ``a cold-blooded grab for another pound of flesh from the demonized welfare mothers.''
Liberals, who have no head (see above), believe that conservatives have no heart. When Republicans unexpectedly took control of the House of Representatives in 1994, conventional wisdom immediately attributed this disturbance in the balance of the cosmos to the vote of the ``angry white male'' (an invention unsupported by the three polls that actually asked about anger and found three-quarters of white males (BEG ITAL)not angry.)
The ``angry white male'' was thus a legend, but a necessary one. It was unimaginable that conservatives could be given power by any sentiment less base than anger, the selfish fury of the former top dog--the white male--forced to accommodate the aspirations of women, minorities and sundry upstarts.
The legend lives. Years ago it was Newt Gingrich as the Grinch who stole Christmas. Today, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman declares the Bush administration the moral equivalent of Jean Marie Le Pen, France's far right, xenophobic, antiSemitic heir to European fascism. Both apparently represent the ``angry right.'' But in America, writes Krugman, it is worse: ``Here the angry people are already running the country.''
This article of liberal faith that conservatism is not just wrong but angry, mean and, well, bad produces one paradox after another. Thus the online magazine Slate devoted an article to attempt to explain the ``two faces'' of Paul Gigot, editorial page editor of The Wall Street Journal. The puzzle is how a conservative could have such a ``winning cocktailparty personality and talkshow cordiality.'' Gigot, it turns out, is ``Janusfaced'': regular guy``plays basketball with working reporters''yet conservative! ``By day he wrote acid editorials ... by night he polished his civilized banter (on TV).''
A classic of the genreliberal amazement when it finds conservatism coexisting with human decency in whatever formis The New York Times news story speaking with unintended candor about bioethicist Leon Kass: ``Critics of Dr. Kass' views call him a neoconservative thinker. ... But critics and admirers alike describe him as thoughtful and dignified.''
But? Neoconservative but thoughtful and dignified. A sighting: rare, oxymoronic, newsworthy.
The venerable David Halberstam, writing in praise of the recently departed Ted Williams, offered yet another sighting: ``He was politically conservative but in his core the most democratic of men.'' Amazing.
The most troubling paradox of all, of course, is George W. Bush. Compassionate, yet conservative? Reporters were fooled during the campaign. ``Because Bush seemed personally pleasant,'' explained Slate, ``(they) assumed his politics lay near the political center.''
What else could one assume? Pleasant and (conservative? Ah, yes, Grampa told of seeing one such in the Everglades. But that was 1926.