The first debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump
Things to digest over the weekend
The social media tale of the tape
The increased gnashing of teeth among various leftists over the last week or so is indicative of fraying nerves. As we head into the debates, Hillary Clinton has had her substantial summer lead at the very least dwindle in most polls, and outright flip to a Trump lead in others. Officially, the election is currently a dead heat, but my feeling is that the tide has turned for Trump.
I suspect some on the left are starting to feel this as well, and they are not happy about it. It possibly starts all the way at the top, with Clinton herself. Consider this video today, which went viral:
I’m not sure what that video is from. I suspect it was some sort of private message to a group of donors, perhaps unions. Whatever it is, it obviously wasn’t meant for public consumption. That said, even if it wasn’t it isn’t a good showing for Clinton. She starts out speaking in a normal, if elevated tone when speaking about Trump and his aversion to unions. Then, out of nowhere, she starts screaming, wondering aloud why she isn’t ’50 points points ahead.’
The random escalation in tone, when she is speaking in a room by herself as opposed to a rally crowd, is absurd looking on its face. It just screams ‘crazy.’ That, combined with her subject matter, her disbelief that she hasn’t blown Trump away, is telling. It suggests that she expected this election to be a cakewalk. She thought that all she had to do was show up to a few events per month, talk about how ‘racist’ Trump is, sit back, relax, and prepare for her coronation in January. That isn’t how it’s gone, and she is clearly upset about it.
Of course, she still might be right. At the very least, however, Trump has made things too close for comfort for Clinton and her supporters on the left.
Some, like Charles Lane in the Washington Post article seeks to take an more measured approach to understanding why Trump is maintaining his appeal:
Why do so many Americans support Trump despite months and months of negative, truthful coverage about him?
To be sure, there has been too much media puffery about Trump, whether unfiltered live coverage of his rallies by cable networks or Jimmy Fallon’s sickeningly friendly tousling of the Republican candidate’s hair on “The Tonight Show.” Journalists were slow to take him seriously at the beginning of the Republican primaries.
The fact remains, as Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) noted in an interviewwith the Times published Sunday: “Nobody is confused about the differences between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. . . . Is she perfect? Of course not. But you’ve got enough information to make the choice.”
What must be going on is that people — an alarmingly large number of people, it seems — back Trump even though they know, or could easily learn, that he is a charlatan, clueless about policy, bizarrely sympathetic to Russia’s dictator, disturbingly prone to offending women and minorities, and a serial liar to boot.
Note how he states, matter of factly, that Trump is a racist and sexist, implies he has fascist sympathies and has no idea about policy. In reality, these beliefs are merely a list of opinions. Incorrect opinions at that. However in the mainstream, they have been elevated to a level of truism right up there with mathematical identities such as ‘1+1=2.’ To those with this very left leaning, mainstream worldview, it defies any sort of logic that someone could even think to cast a vote for Trump.
Lane goes on to explain that Trump is benefiting from a sort of ‘jury nullification’ writ large. Since the electorate feels the system is rigged, he reasons, they are more than willing to forgive Trump of the ‘crimes’ that system itself has alleged, particularly because Trump is promising to smash that system. There is some truth to this.
Lane ends by expressing a sort of sadness, that the journalist industry he is a part of has lost its ability to influence and guide the discussion.
Drew Magary has a quite different take. He took to GQ to deliver this delectable screed. Here’s a sampling:
As I’ve discussed before, this election is starting to erode the power that screaming ‘You’re Racist!’ has had over political discourse over the years. This is behind a lot of the skittish behavior apparent in the commentaries by Magary, Pierce, and those who are so brutally critical of Jimmy Fallon.
They are starting to notice that repeating racist/sexist/bigot/whatever over and over again isn’t moving the needle the way it once did. This is largely because of the fact that those terms have come to describe more and more things, to the point where this saturation has completely rendered these terms meaningless. When correcting someone’s grammar can be considered a potentially racial offense, we have reached the point at which people will instinctively start to tune out when wailing ‘but he’s racist!’ is the main argument presented.
A more nervous group of individuals over Trump’s strength is the media, as well as the pundit class. Their consternation is revealed in the reports of Trump’s campaign spending, or relative lack thereof:
Hillary Clinton’s campaign and its allies are outspending their Republican counterparts by a factor of about five to one, according to a new analysis released Tuesday.
But the former secretary of State has failed to put away Donald Trump, and many anxious Democrats are baffled as to why the race remains so close.
Yet another dynamic that is being exposed during this election is the deterioration of the legacy media, and by extension legacy politics and punditry. Hillary Clinton is running a campaign from the 80s and 90s – pandering, carefully crafted, focus group tested phrasing, accumulating a big warchest to spend on huge ad buys, etc.
Similarly, the punditry is from years gone by. Countless times I’ve heard pundits on various cable news channels going on about how Trump needed to ‘pivot,’ how his ‘ground game’ was lacking, and things of that nature. Those are chapters straight out of a conventional campaign playbook.
Trump has completely thrown that playbook out the window, and perhaps forever changed the way campaigns are run. Instead of doing huge ad buys, he interacts with his 20+ million followers on Facebook and Twitter. Because of the increasing move from TV to social media among the populace, these impressions are likely to have more of an impact than any ad buy would. It is well known that more and more people get their news from their Facebook feeds rather than the 6 o’clock evening news.
This means that in going directly to the people, with a much more robust message, Trump can circumvent the media and its gatekeepers. This, combined with the fact Trump has a more concrete message has meant that his campaign is having a much more profound impact on people. In comparison, the Clinton campaign’s traditional strategy of 30 second ads full of regurgitated soundbites are easily dismissed, if they are even seen at all by a public which is watching less TV in the first place.
To be sure, there are a few Trump-specific features to his campaign that make his robustness possible. The bottom line is that the public is starting to tire heavily of the DC class in general, which renders the hundreds of millions the Clinton campaign has and will spend utterly meaningless.
If Hillary loses, the fact that she is a walking stereotype of DC politicians will be the biggest reason as to why. Moreover, being that way for the best part of 30 years in public life, Hillary Clinton can’t change. That is simply who she is, a dying breed of politician. Even if she does manage to scrape by, she will probably be the last of her kind.
Breaking down the inflation which has persisted over the last 25 years
Hillary Clinton tries to bounce back from her ‘Deplorables’ gaffe
Colin Kaepernick’s protest of the national anthem has been a hot topic of conversation of late, with everyone from news outlets, to political shows to sports shows having guests on to weigh in with their opinion. His rationale for the protest has been the following, in his words:
I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.
This, combined with his decision to wear the following socks, depicting police officers as pigs, suggests that his main concern has been the treatment of black Americans by police officers.
I respect Kaepernick’s right to engage in protest of the flag, and the national anthem. Indeed, the very flag and national anthem is what confers upon him that right. Much of the discussion I’ve seen on the subject has centered around whether Kaepernick’s protest was done in the right way, whether it was wise of him to use NFL games as his platform, and things of that nature.
All of this assumes that his protest is legitimate in the first place. I contend it isn’t. Consider the following passage, taken from this recent article in the Washington Post addressing the subject of the racial distribution of police shootings:
In 2015, The Washington Post launched a real-time database to track fatal police shootings, and the project continues this year. As of Sunday, 1,502 people have been shot and killed by on-duty police officers since Jan. 1, 2015. Of them, 732 were white, and 381 were black (and 382 were of another or unknown race).
But as data scientists and policing experts often note, comparing how many or how often white people are killed by police to how many or how often black people are killed by the police is statistically dubious unless you first adjust for population.
According to the most recent census data, there are nearly 160 million more white people in America than there are black people. White people make up roughly 62 percent of the U.S. population but only about 49 percent of those who are killed by police officers. African Americans, however, account for 24 percent of those fatally shot and killed by the police despite being just 13 percent of the U.S. population. As The Post noted in a new analysis published last week, that means black Americans are 2.5 times as likely as white Americans to be shot and killed by police officers.
U.S. police officers have shot and killed the exact same number of unarmed white people as they have unarmed black people: 50 each. But because the white population is approximately five times larger than the black population, that means unarmed black Americans were five times as likely as unarmed white Americans to be shot and killed by a police officer.
Passages such as this are used to buttress the point that people like Kaepernick are making with respect to police brutality. The problem with this analysis, which compares the numbers of fatalities to population, is that it assumes that each segment of the population commits crimes at the same rate. This isn’t true. From the Post article:
Because detailed FBI data on crime can lag by several years, the most-cited statistics on this point refer to 2009 data. According to that data, out of all violent crimes in which someone was charged, black Americans were charged with 62 percent of robberies, 57 percent of murders and 45 percent of assaults in the country’s 75 biggest counties — despite the fact that black Americans made up just 15 percent of the population in those places.
The following table shows the distributions of violent crimes by race, both of the offender and perpetrator, from 2012-2013, with homicides excluded:
From that chart, and the Washington Post story, we can glean that black people commit more violent crimes than their 13% population share suggests they should. As a result, we should rationally expect that there will be more run ins with police, and thus more police shootings involving blacks.
Indeed, when comparing the police shootings by race to the violent crimes committed by race, which is the relevant comparison, the distributions match up relatively well.
From the Washington Post quote earlier, from Jan 2015 to July of 2016, 49% of police shootings involved whites, who according to the Bureau of Justice stats from 2012, commit 42% of violent crimes.
24% of police shootings involved blacks, who commit 22% of violent crimes.
27% of police shootings involve the rest of the races, or unknown, a group which according to the Bureau of Justice commits 35% of violent crime.
If anyone should feel aggrieved, its whites, who are shot by police at a higher rate than they commit violent crimes, excluding homicide. Yet that isn’t the narrative.
The Washington Post tries to temper analysis such as that by claiming the crime level in a particular community doesn’t affect the rate at which police kill, and by stressing the fact that unarmed blacks are killed at a greater rate to whites:
Despite these arguments, police reform advocates and researchers as well at The Post’s own analysis has consistently concluded that there is no correlation between violent crime and who is killed by police officers.
A 2015 study by a University of California at Davis researcher concluded there was “no relationship” between crime rates by race and racial bias in police killings.
In a report covering 2015 data, Campaign Zero compared violent crime rates of 50 major cities to the rate at which police officers killed people, concluding that there was no correlation.
As part of its data effort, The Post tracks the “threat level” of each person who is shot and killed by a police officer: Were they shooting at the officer? Were they threatening the officer? Were they fleeing?
Overall, the majority of the people who have been shot and killed by police officers in 2015 and 2016 were, based on publicly available evidence, armed with a weapon and attempting to attack the officer or someone else.
But an independent analysis of The Post’s data conducted by a team of criminal-justice researchers concluded that, when factoring in threat level, black Americans who are fatally shot by police are no more likely to be posing an imminent lethal threat to the officers at the moment they are killed than white Americans fatally shot by police.
The study also sought to answer whether officers were more likely to shoot and kill someone who is unarmed if the shooting happened to occur in a high-crime area. They concluded that is not the case.
“The only thing that was significant in predicting whether someone shot and killed by police was unarmed was whether or not they were black,” said Justin Nix, a criminal-justice researcher at the University of Louisville and one of the report’s authors, said in April. “Crime variables did not matter in terms of predicting whether the person killed was unarmed.”
“This just bolsters our confidence that there is some sort of implicit bias going on,” Nix said. “Officers are perceiving a greater threat when encountered by unarmed black citizens.”
Regarding the point about there being no correlation between high crime areas and police shootings, that might be true, but it doesn’t show that there is any bias involved in either direction.
As for the unarmed argument, it is riddled with holes. Blacks may be more likely to be ‘unarmed’ when shot by police, but that is hardly the full story. Heather Mac Donald details this in a piece she wrote back in February:
In August of 2015 the Post zeroed in on unarmed black men, who the paper said were seven times more likely than unarmed white men to die by police gunfire. The article noted that 24 of the 60 “unarmed” deaths up to that date — some 40 percent — were of black men, helping to explain “why outrage continues to simmer a year after Ferguson.
But the numbers don’t tell the whole story. It is worth looking at the specific cases included in the Post’s unarmed victim classification in some detail, since that category is the most politically explosive. The “unarmed” label is literally accurate, but it frequently fails to convey highly-charged policing situations. In a number of cases, if the victim ended up being unarmed, it was certainly not for lack of trying. At least five black victims had reportedly tried to grab the officer’s gun, or had been beating the cop with his own equipment. Some were shot from an accidental discharge triggered by their own assault on the officer. And two individuals included in the Post’s “unarmed black victims” category were struck by stray bullets aimed at someone else in justified cop shootings. If the victims were not the intended targets, then racism could have played no role in their deaths.
Mac Donald further lists several examples of various incidents in which the perpetrator was literally unarmed, but still posing a threat to the officer in various ways. Perpetrators attacking with their fists, using the officer’s own equipment, or a car were considered unarmed. Innocent victims who may have been caught in crossfire of a police shootout are also included among the unarmed figure. The fact that blacks are more likely to resist arrest or engage in a confrontational manner is why the figures of unarmed black shootings are disproportionately higher.
And what of ‘Driving While Black?’
This was a common refrain uttered after Sandra Bland’s death last year. This goes to the notion that while perhaps police treat all suspects in a similar manner after the interaction has been initiated, there is bias in the choice of police to interact with the population.
In other words, police racial profiling is a big issue. Vox said as much in an article on the subject, stating that black people were more likely to be stopped than whites.
We also know that black drivers are more likely to be stopped by US police. In 2013, the Bureau of Justice Statistics found that about 12.8 percent of black drivers reported being pulled over in 2011, while about 9.8 percent of white drivers and 10.4 percent of Hispanic drivers did.
That statement means nothing by itself. It could be, for example, that there are more repeat offenders in the 9.8% of whites who got pulled over, which wouldn’t necessarily mean there was a bias in police stops.
The very study that Vox links to has the following chart, which is more relevant to the point at hand:
The relevant column is the second column, which shows that whites made up roughly 65% of street stops, and 69% of traffic stops. Blacks made up 12% of street stops and 14% of traffic stops. Hispanics made up 15% of street stops and 12% of traffic stops.
The population distribution of each group is, according to 2010 census data the following: 63.7% white, 12.2% black, 16.3% Hispanic. In short, there is little to no bias shown by police in stopping people. Vox must have missed this chart in the report they cited.
All in all, there is nothing that shows that there is some sort of bias shown by police officers against blacks which necessitates outrage, let alone public protests from the likes of Colin Kaepernick.
The bottom line is that if you want to avoid being killed by police, you would do well to first avoid committing a crime. Failing that, or perhaps if you find yourself involved in a police stop despite not having committed a crime, avoid confrontational attitudes with the officer, do not resist arrest if it comes to that, and do not try to fight the officer or grab any foreign object in an attempt to injure the officer.
Follow that, and your chances of not becoming another statistic are quite high.
In my piece on the fall out over Matt Lauer’s performance at an NBC presidential forum earlier this week, I made the point that the outrage is founded on an ever shifting understanding of objectivity as it pertains to the media. Of the outrage, I wrote:
Herein lies the crux of the angst from the media, and those on the left over Lauer. Those parties have all declared Trump to be an uncouth buffoon who says offensive things and thus isn’t fit to be president. That basic assertion is a given, a concrete foundation from which everything else follows.
To this end, Matt Lauer’s greatest sin on Wednesday night was that he didn’t spend the entirety of his 30 minutes with Trump calling him a racist, sexist, bigot, homophobe, Islamophobe, Transphobe, whatever phobe repeatedly. That would have been ‘doing his job.’
I’d like to expand on this a bit further, if I may.
Back in January, the Huffington Post decided that a disclaimer should accompany each and every article it posts which relates to Donald Trump. It reads like this:
Note to our readers: Donald Trump is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, birther and bully who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.
It serves as a Surgeon General-esque warning to readers: ‘You are consuming content the subject of which is a really bad person. Be careful.’ On the back of that declaration, many mainstream journalists feel no compunction in writing about Trump and his supporters in increasingly disturbing ways.
They’ve declared Trump and his supporters to be deluded, and as such the ‘sane’ leftist has a direct duty to ‘un-delude’ the Trump supporter, as one would do if one had a friend or family member who obviously needed Institutional care. Some have taken the route that Trump and his candidacy represents the extinction of democracy, and thus is a threat to the Republic. More worryingly, others have advocated outright violence at Trump rallies.
The leftists’ recent self described abandonment of objectivity in the face of a supposed existential threat would make perfect sense if there was objectivity in their viewpoint in the first place.
On the surface, there is. The main charges against Trump – racism, sexism, xenophobia, and Islamophobia – are real phenomenon with clear definitions. The issue is that none of them actually apply to Trump, objectively speaking.
The charge of racism is based on Trump’s stance on immigration, in particular his comments on illegal immigrants from Mexico. Regardless of Trump said, the bottom line is that ‘Mexican’ isn’t a race. The charge of sexism is largely based on public comments Trump has made which ultimately amount to the same type of locker room talk men have had with each other in one form or another since the beginning of time. Women have their own version of this sort of crude talk as well. Neither of it is sexist.
Showing affection to one’s own country, wanting to advance its interests while preserving its culture and history is not xenophobic. Wanting to curb immigration from a group of people which have inflicted disproportionate amounts of terror against us does not amount to Islamophobia.
This is all objectively true, yet those on the left are steadfast in their condemnation of Trump as a bigot. Consider this from former President Bill Clinton from a stump speech earlier this week:
In it, he says of Trump’s Make America Great Again campaign slogan that ‘if you’re a White Southerner, you know exactly what it means…What it means is that I’ll move you back up on the social totem pole, and other people down.’
Never mind that Clinton also used the phrase Make America Great Again during his 1992 presidential run, as is shown in the end of that video.
His stance on illegal immigration, as shown in the following video from the his 1996 State of the Union address, is almost Trumpian:
So why isn’t Bill Clinton, himself a white Southerner, and thus must have known what Make America Great Again ‘really meant’ when he used phrase himself, who took a tough stance on illegal immigration, a racist?
Well in some circles, he is. This is because of his 1994 crime bill which stiffened penalties for drug violations, which had a disproportionate impact on black communities and increased the black incarceration rate as a result. One of the themes of Hillary Clinton’s campaign was how she was going to distance herself from the ‘racism’ of that bill in order to assure the black community that she is on their side.
Bill Clinton is not the only leftist icon which has his legacy re-litigated in our new age of hyper political correctness and social justice. Figures such as FDR and Martin Luther King have been criticized by leftists for racism and homophobia, respectively. The Washington Post has been called for the expunging of Woodrow Wilson, one of the most progressive presidents ever, from official places of honor. This is in light of protests, ongoing at the time of this writing, over the fact that Wilson’s name still adorns one of the departments at Princeton University. The ferocity of some of the reporting suggests they would like to expunge Wilson from history entirely.
This sort of judgement of historical figures by today’s standard of safe spaces, trigger warnings, and microaggressions leads me to believe that no president in history, up to and including the 2008 version of Barack Obama, is electable in 2016. The vast majority of past presidents would have been disqualified for their racism and/or sexism. The rest, including 2008 Barack Obama would be disqualified for not having the ‘right’ stance on gay marriage.
Obama eventually got with the program, and by 2012 he was singing the correct tune. He had to do so in on order to conform to an ever changing, ever ‘progressing’ culture. The modern left is infused with the Marcusian belief that anything goes as long as it feels good, and doubly so if it represents a break with moral traditions of the past. If Hillary Clinton were to win, I have no doubts that in four or eight years, the candidate that stands before us now will look like an extremist bigot compared to the politician she will end up being in order to conform to the future cultural zeitgeist.
These continual shifts in interpretations and after the fact declarations of bigotry ultimately cheapen those terms, especially since the threshold for being a bigot is continually lowered. If wanting strong borders is now bigotry, there are now hundreds of millions, even billions around the world who now can be described as bigots. The term itself is rendered near meaningless as a result.
This sets the stage for Friday, when Hillary Clinton decided to delineate Trump supporters in the following manner:
You know, just to be grossly generalist, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables.”
“Right? The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic — you name it. And unfortunately there are people like that. And he has lifted them up. He has given voice to their websites that used to only have 11,000 people — now have 11 million. He tweets and retweets their offensive, hateful, mean-spirited rhetoric.
That other basket of people are people who feel that the government has let them down, the economy has let them down, nobody cares about them, nobody worries about what happens to their lives and their futures, and they’re just desperate for a change. They don’t buy everything he says, but he seems to hold out some hope that their lives will be different. They won’t wake up and see their jobs disappear, lose a kid to heroin, feel like they’re in a dead end. Those are people we have to understand and empathize with as well.
She said these remarks at a campaign rally, but she made similar remarks in a television interview that aired earlier in the day, suggesting that these remarks were well thought out, an perhaps even focus group approved.
In trying to demonize half of Trump supporters (a figure in the tens of millions domestically, perhaps hundreds more globally) using terms such as racist, sexist and homophobic, she is trying to levy a serious charge on hundreds of millions. Some outlets have tried to defend Clinton, claiming that because she was disparaging something negative, so it the comments were fine.
As previously discussed, the utter meaningless of those terms owing to their overuse has weakened the charge considerably. To deem Trump supporters racists or sexists is to attempt to attach the stringent punishment for those transgressions, ostracism from society and de-legitimization, to views as simple as having a strong country with strong borders which follows the law.
In other words, you should be silenced if you don’t like illegal immigration, or, you have ever disagreed with, or said something nasty about a woman or a person who is not white. Her remarks then come across as nothing more than a declaration that a whole group of people is unworthy, hence ‘deplorables.’ It is an insult, pure and simple.
Ultimately, this is all those on the left seem to have. The charge of racist/sexist/homophobe was once so grave that it forced society to conform to the leftist dogma in order to avoid those damning labels. In 2016, we’re finally beginning to see the Law of Diminishing Returns reduce that stranglehold. People are no longer scared of those labels, not because they are more emboldened to be bigoted by a person like Trump, but because the terms themselves have less and less meaning when they’re applied to every single transgression, big or small.
In short, when everything is racist, nothing is.
Analyzing the outrage over Matt Lauer’s performance in an NBC forum with Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton