Category Archives: Politics

‘America Deserves Better’

After the debate last night, one of the more common refrains was that America deserves better, America can do so much better, or the American People were the losers of this debate, and similar sentiments.

The simple answer is this: No, America does not deserve better.

Andrew Breitbart once said that politics is downstream from culture, so if one is wondering why our politics are in the gutter, the first place to look is upstream at the culture.

And what you’ll find there is a culture which has been in decline for decades now.

Earlier this morning, the Wall Street Journal had this piece about the debate in which the following was written in response to the outrage over the Trump Tapes last Friday:

Our email inbox is filled with Republicans saying this is a double standard because while Mr. Trump may talk like a lout, Bill Clinton acts like one and Hillary Clinton enables him. Oh, and Democrats still revere JFK, who was a sexual predator in the White House.

 

This is all true, and it is a bit much to see the same liberals who said Mr. Clinton’s actual exploitation of an intern was merely about sex, or who called Paula Jones trailer trash, now wax indignant about Mr. Trump’s bragging. The same moralists who celebrate misogyny in pop music and a sex-crazed culture are also conveniently outraged by a man who was marinated in that culture before he entered politics.

This is spot on. We have a culture which celebrates autotuned, dumbed down music as fine art, has no qualms with the ubiquity of pornography, and eschews personal responsibility, whether that be in the realm of our diets, our commitments to marriage vows, or any hardship which may befall us. We’ve gone from scoring a touchdown and handing the ball to the ref and high-fiving our teammates, to grown men twerking in the endzone.

I don’t say this to make judgements, as I’m far from perfect in any of these matters. I only say this to highlight the fact that a culture with an eroding morality, while at the same time allowing everyone with a pulse to participate in the political process, is going to end up with nothing more than mudfights.

If everyone is granted the same rights to vote, the only way to win over a majority is going to be through an appeal to emotion, going down to a base level which all of us can relate to regardless of our individual variations in intellect and education.

This is something many have failed to understand, particularly when analyzing Donald Trump. Based on your competitive college debate rules, Trump probably hasn’t won any of the debates he has participated in throughout this election cycle.

Actually, let me rephrase that.

Based on pre-cultural decline competitive college debate rules, Trump hasn’t won any of the debates he’s been in.

That isn’t because he doesn’t possess the intellectual rigor to debate on that level. It’s because he possesses the intellectual rigor to understand that the current electorate, with its almost negligible attention span, has no time for nuanced policy discussions.

Barack Obama didn’t win his candidacy in 2008 because he flawlessly opined about the intricacies of Wall Street regulation and cap and trade. He won because he kept saying ‘Hope and Change,’ and this tapped into an emotional vein commonly felt among millions of people. That was what carried him to the presidency.

The chattering classes understood this to a large degree back then (recall Chris Matthews tingling leg), but this time around they want to judge Trump on a highly technical policy wonk basis.

The rise of the ‘fact checker,’ more aptly described as pedantic geeks with little grasp of normal human expressions, such as sarcasm and facetiousness, is emblematic of the punditry missing the mark.

Nobody gives a shit if Trump ‘lied’ by saying that Clinton ‘acid washed’ her server, when she actually used ‘BleachBit.’ The point is that she tried to destroy evidence of wrongdoing, which itself constitutes wrongdoing. The ‘fact checker’s’ subsequent attempt to declare the entire argument invalid on such technicalities would be laughable, but for the fact these positions are elevated to legitimacy by a media pushing an agenda.

That Trump relentlessly blows through these sort of ‘fact checks’ is to them evidence of the absence of intellect in the Trump campaign as a whole. The reality is that Trump understands that disseminating truths and half truths with a dose of emotion embedded is far more effective.

If we’re going to have a culture which embodies the Marcuseian dictum of ‘whatever feels good is good,’ we shouldn’t be surprised that our politicians have evolved to be world class liars who specialize in lying to the public, ensuring their stranglehold on power by playing to that feelgood element.

Any politician who is honest, and was prepared to be principled on things such as the unsustainability of entitlements, wouldn’t last long in the politics game. So those lamenting the reality show nature of this election, I’d submit this: If you really want a Lincoln-Douglas level of debates, you need a Lincoln-Douglas electorate, with a Lincoln-Douglas grasp of the English language, and a moral and intellectual pedigree befitting that level.

Until you get there, stop moaning, and stop promoting cultural changes which advance the dumbing down of society.

 

 

 

Second Debate Review – Always Darkest Before the Don

Last week, speaking at a rally in Colorado, Donald Trump said the following, recounting his trials and tribulations during the early 1990s real estate crash:

In the early 1990’s, they splashed the front pages with stories about how Donald Trump — me, they said I was finished. Everyone said I was done. There were front page articles in the Wall Street Journal and New York Times, among many others. They were thrilled and delighted.

 

The only person that didn’t think I was in trouble was a guy named Donald J. Trump. I didn’t think I was in trouble, I didn’t know what they were talking about. The power of positive thinking.

The last 48 hours have been full of similar howls of glee from the mainstream media declaring the end of the Trump campaign, following the hot mic tapes from 2005. The GOP was pulling funding, countless Republican congressmen disavowed Trump. Pressure was on for Trump to drop out of the race. Pence was rumored to have wanted off the ticket. Paul Ryan invited Trump from an event in Wisconsin. The end was nigh.

This would have been true if the candidate was your standard GOP Republican. He would have folded and begged for forgiveness. Not Trump. Trump is made of different stuff, and he showed that in this debate tonight. He won, and won handily. This was evidenced by most of the mainstream media, predisposed to a Clinton victory, being forced to declare that it was a draw. Here are my thoughts, in no real order:

  1. The Bush tapes, and the subsequent framing of Trump as the ultimate misogynist opened the door for Trump to bring up the skeletons both Hillary and Bill Clinton have in this arena. Having said that, Trump was walking a fine line. If he went nuclear and reduced Hillary to tears, he’d have lost the argument, despite being right on the facts. When the debate started, Trump was rather ‘soft,’ apologizing for his comments on the hot mic, but reiterating that it was merely locker room talk. If it was up to Trump, it would have been left there. Even when Anderson Cooper outright accused him of sexual assault, Trump remained cool and stuck to his message. Clinton raised the stakes when she went on a lengthy soliloquy insinuating Trump was a bad person. Trump had no choice but to respond.

1a. Trump’s escalation was almost flawless. He established the point that words are meaningless, compared to actions. He then calmly went through the sordid history of Bill Clinton, and Hillary Clinton herself, acknowledging that their victims were present in the audience. (This was an absolutely devastating move by Trump. Bill Clinton, upon entering the venue looked as though he was walking to face a firing squad. Hillary was clearly unnerved early on in the debate as well.) Clinton had no answer for this. Trump threaded the needle by being forceful without coming off as a bully.

2. One of the most important lines of the night was when Trump checked the moderators, Anderson Cooper and Martha Raddatz, two obvious Clinton fans, with the quip ‘one on three,’ referring to the fact that both of them were on Clinton’s side. One of the themes I’ve been harping on is that the coordinated attacks on Trump from the media and political establishments would only be effective to a point, because the ganging up on Trump would end up with him looking a victim. There was a clear change in the way the moderators behaved after that. To be sure, they were argumentative with Trump and interrupted him more than Clinton. But Trump completely nullified any sort of future ‘gotcha’ moment or ‘fact checking’ crusade the moderators had planned because he subtly put it into the mind of the viewer that everyone was against him. Incredibly effective.

3. The Wikileaks and Email portion of the debate was probably the highlight of the night, and should Trump go on and become President, some of those clips will be replayed for decades. In response to a question about Clinton’s Wall Street speech transcripts, in which she said that politicians should have public and private positions on things, she gave the following answer:

Trump followed it up with this:

From this point on, Trump was unstoppable.

4. I suspect the media will run with this moment more than anything else in the coming hours and days:

Even in the comments to that video, there are charges of ‘fascism,’ because Trump is promising to go after Clinton should he win. These accusations couldn’t be further from the truth. Why that is would be too lengthy to get into here. Suffice to say that most of those on the left and GOPe accusing Trump of fascism are merely projecting. It’s Trump supporters who are getting beaten in the street, having their property vandalized and threatened, merely for being Trump supporters. It is Trump himself who is facing all sorts of dirty tricks from all angles, merely because he stands in opposition to and is a real threat to the establishment power dynamic. He put the fear of God into them all with that remark.

The theory that Hillary Clinton was never prosecuted by the FBI was because if Hillary went down, the whole power structure of the Beltway Elite were coming with her looks more plausible by the day. You can rest assured that Barack Obama will pardon Clinton before he goes, and Trump will actually clean DC.

5. Trump was at his weakest when talking about Syria. He is fundamentally right, mind; the Russians are not our enemy, despite Clinton’s protestations throughout the evening. Trump’s problem was more stylistic in nature. He was rambling a bit too much for my taste. He was correct to blatantly disagree with Pence’s position. Pence holds the incorrect GOPe and Clinton view that the Russians are our enemy. Even though that will be another big talking point on TV, he was right to stand his ground.

6.  Further evidence that Trump won handily came in the shape of CNN being caught rigging an ‘unbiased’ focus group after the event:

It also released a ‘scientific’ poll made up of 58% Clinton supporters.

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Again, they came right out and declared that the polling group was made up of 58% Clinton supporters, and declared with a straight face that this ‘scientific’ poll showed Clinton won the debate 57-34. This disingenuous bullshit is being repeated on Twitter, attempting to fool the people into thinking that merely inserting the word ‘scientific’ into a description of a poll makes it accurate, or representative of anything. ‘Polls’ like these, and the ones using heavy D samples are simply meant to demoralize Trump supporters into thinking that he has no chance. The onslaught of coordinated fear and rumors over the Bush Tape was a clear example of that as well. And people wonder why the mainstream media is dying.

7. Finally, all of the GOPe weaklings, Paul Ryan the most prominent, need to hang their heads in shame. They’ve been exposed, yet again for the world to see. While President Obama ran roughshod over them for 8 years, they stood there and took it, not lifting a finger to advance the interests of the American People who put them in position to do just that. Yet, the minute someone says rather uncouth things on tape, or elsewhere, the knives come out.

The Paul Ryans, Ben Sasses, Mitt Romneys, and Jeb Bushes of the world are a dying breed of politician. Their deceit and backstabbing will never be forgotten. As for Trump, what he has accomplished as a political neophyte will be studied for the next 200 years, win or lose. He can celebrate his victory tonight, but the GOPe/Democrat/Media coalition, the Political Industrial Complex will not rest. We will see more polls with heavier and heavier Democrat samples. We’ll see more hit jobs, perhaps more smear attempts such as the Bush tapes. This behemoth won’t quit, because it is fighting for its survival.

 

The Trump Tax ‘Bombshell’

Last night, the New York Times continued its attack on Donald Trump by dropping this ‘bombshell,’ publishing a leaked copy of part of Trump’s 1995 tax returns.

Here’s the bottom line: Trump declared a loss of over $900 million in 1995. By law, one is allowed to carry forward losses in one year to future years, which reflects the simple fact that the life cycle of a business doesn’t necessarily line up perfectly with the date.

In other words, if a business has a $5 million loss in one year, and a $6 million profit in the next, during the year with the losses, no taxes were paid. In the year in which the profit was made, the profits from the prior year is ‘carried forward,’ to reflect the fact that the business made a $1 million profit across two years. The IRS allows one to apply losses for up to 18 years, as long as it exceeds income made over that time.

Nothing about this is illegal, or even uncontroversial. The guy who owns a dry cleaner at your local strip mall faces these issues.

Yet the NYT used intentionally misleading language for the sole purpose of duping a misinformed electorate into thinking Trump has somehow gamed the system at the expense of the little guy.

The title of the piece itself is ‘Trump Tax Records Obtained by The Times Reveal He Could Have Avoided Paying Taxes for Nearly Two Decades.’ The use of the word ‘avoided’ is intentional, suggesting Trump did something sneaky. The bottom line is you don’t pay taxes on a loss, so Trump didn’t ‘avoid’ anything.

The piece spends a great deal of time talking about how the loss represented a devastation and heartbreak for those affected, while Trump was able to skate through unscathed because of extraordinary tax privileges apparently only he was privy to.

The truth is that the real estate industry was decimated in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Plenty of developers were devastated in a similar fashion to Trump. The difference was that Trump was the most high profile of the developers at the time, and as such his business trials and tribulations were in the public domain. To the extent he was fortunate lies in the fact that most developers would have been totally wiped out by a near $1 billion loss. Trump wasn’t, because he convinced the banks to work with him, so he didn’t have to liquidate all of the holdings he had already built up. Call it luck, or great negotiating, but that’s what happened. Nothing nefarious.

Yet, it will play that way to the average voter, for whom these sort of dealings are completely foreign. The concept of carrying forward a loss won’t resonate with them, and therefore they’ll be amenable to the Clinton spin that Trump is bilked the public for years.

It also represents an opportunity for Trump if indeed Clinton/the media keeps playing this line. It will almost surely come up in the next debate, at which time Trump needs to point blank state that there was nothing controversial, let alone illegal about what happened. The fact that the Clinton campaign and the media are portraying it that way can only mean one of two things.

One possibility is they do not understand even the most basic of tax law, accounting, and general business, and therefore cannot be expected to understand anything about creating jobs. Why would Clinton or the media understand anything about business or the economy, given Clinton has only worked in the public sector and the NYT’s support of failed neoliberal Keynesian economics?

The other possibility is brazen dishonesty, in knowing the average voter takes much better to a simple ‘Trump avoided taxes!’ one liner than the far lengthier, legal and accounting arguments such as what I’ve put forth here.

Furthering the dishonesty angle, there is a potential legal issue here involving the NYT releasing the leaked tax information. The Washington Post discusses it here.

So in a twist of irony, the NYT may have broken the law…to show that Donald Trump followed the law in his tax dealings. And people wonder why the mainstream media is failing.

They’re even bragging about the whole thing. The author of the piece has just written this article, breaking down the events leading to the piece. The way she describes it one could think she had solved the Jimmy Hoffa mystery rather than a data point corroborating an old saga that we already knew. Trump literally wrote a book about this period in his life, The Art of the Comeback.

The fact the leak came from Trump Tower itself is also rather intriguing. Did Trump himself leak the documents, so as to control the narrative, which he is known to do? The next few days should answer that.

Trump could use this saga to his advantage rather easily. It has been public information for decades that Trump had losses in the billions in the early 90s. Yet he is here, richer than ever. Losses happen, especially in business. But to be down on the mat, and then get up and triumph, is America in a nutshell. And this is precisely what Trump is trying to do with the country as a whole. The country is down, and trying to get back on its feet, and then some. Trump has been there, done that.

The indignation over Trump’s honest failures, compared with the silent acceptance of the dishonest enrichment of the Clintons stands as one of the clearest examples of what this election is all about. Because Clinton is on the ‘right side of history’ in terms of social justice nonsense that plagues the nation, her sins are forgiven, while Trump credits are manufactured into sins because of his resistance to the march of social justice.

Reality Doesn’t Care About Feelings, Volume 4 – The Larger Importance of the Machado Saga

Donald Trump further addressed the Alicia Machado saga yesterday with a series of early morning tweets on the matter:

The conventional political wisdom is that Trump stepped in a well laid trap that Hillary Clinton set for him. What he should have done was largely ignored the situation, maybe dealing with it in one abrupt sentence and then pivoting to something else. I think that this is a special case for a few reasons.

First, recall that it was Hillary Clinton who introduced Alicia Machado into the public conscience at the debate:

Hillary Clinton’s candidacy has been more an anti Trump plea than a pro Hillary one. The vast majority of her case has been ‘vote for Clinton because Trump is a sexist bigot.’ The use of Machado in this manner is entirely to buttress that argument. Machado is to be the smoking gun that proves Trump is a sexist, and thus Trump is disqualified.

Yes, in reality this IS side issue. But since Clinton has made such side issues central to her argument, it was necessary for Trump to address it, in my view. Had he let it slide, Clinton would have been able to parade Machado out constantly over the next month or so in an effort to influence the public with her sob story.

Furthermore, Trump is 100% in the right on this issue. For a start, the claim that he called her ‘Miss Piggy’ and ‘Miss Housewife’ are totally unsubstantiated claims. It is only Machado who is pushing that story. The background to the whole thing as follows:

  • Trump owned the Miss Universe pageant, which Machado won in 1996, the year before Trump bought it.
  • Machado then proceeded to gain weight, about 50-60 pounds.
  • The sponsors, and Miss Universe wanted to fire her, because the weight gain was in violation of her contractual obligations 
  • Trump stepped in and saved Machado’s job, by giving her a chance to lose the weight.
  • Trump made a media spectacle about it, in which he joked about his own weight problems, while addressing the serious issue that faces us all in this regard. It is below:

That was it. Now, 20 years later, Clinton has put Machado forth as the star witness in the prosecution of Trump’s sexism.

The problem for Clinton is that the credibility of Machado has now become an issue, and rightly so if she is going to be cast in this role as star witness.

In 1998 Machado allegedly drove a getaway car from a murder scene in Venezuela. She then used her connections to drug dealers to allegedly threaten the life of the judge in the case. Less criminally, she appeared on a Spanish reality show and had sex on camera with another castmate – who was not Bobby Abreu, the baseball player she was engaged to at the time. She also had the child of a Mexican Drug Lord, who is an American citizen by virtue of being born here.

Machado also claimed that because of Trump, she developed an eating disorder that is still with her today. However, in this Washington Post article, she clearly describes her problems with eating before having won the competition, which means it was before she had even met Trump, who did not purchase the pageant until a year later:

“I was anorexic and bulimic, but almost all of us are,” Machado says without so much as a blink. “When I was preparing for Miss Universe, it was an obsession for me to not gain weight. By the time I won, I was actually recovering. But the year leading to it, I didn’t eat at all. And whatever I ate, I threw up. I weighed 116 pounds when I won. I was skeletal.”

In response to all of this being brought up, Machado had this to say in defense:

“He can say whatever he wants to say. I don’t care,” she emphatically stated. “You know, I have my past, of course. Everybody has a past, and I’m not a saint girl, but that is not the point now.”

 

“That moment in Venezuela was wrong, was another speculation about my life because I’m a really famous person in my country because I’m an actress there and in Mexico, too,” she continued. “And he can use whatever he wants to use. The point is, that happened 20 years ago.”

In short, Machado, an individual with a questionable past and shaky moral values, told a story which is uncorroborated, and then told a provable lie which goes to the heart of the very story she is trying to tell. Ye she is being treated like an ‘angel’ as Trump put it his tweet.

While it is true that everyone has a past, most people’s pasts don’t include being involved in murders and judge intimidation. Furthermore, we are actually supposed to absolve her from being involved with a murder and judge intimidation simply because it was 20 years ago. Yet, we are supposed to crucify Donald Trump for allegedly calling a woman fat…20 years ago.

It boggles the mind of anyone with the slightest bit of rationality, which explains why the mainstream media decided to go all in and bat for Clinton/Machado.

The NYT wrote the following about the allegation that Machado appeared in a sex tape:

Ms. Machado appeared in a risqué scene on a reality television show, but fact-checkers have discovered no sex tape.

I’ll allow Paul Joseph Watson to explain why this nonsense stretches credulity.

Even more hilariously, the mainstream media has dug up this video of Trump from 2000:

The video was part of a 2000 Playboy softcore film. This is seemingly the intro sequence or something, I’m not entirely sure. What it shows is Trump welcoming Playboy models to New York City by pouring champagne on a limousine on a public NYC street in broad daylight, everyone fully clothed. And this is being cited as evidence of Trump as an ‘adult film star.’ A Clinton spokesperson said this:

There’s been a lot of talk about sex tapes today, and in a strange turn of events, only one adult film has emerged today, and its star is Donald Trump.

In short:

Knowingly having sex on film which is to be publicly aired = not a sex tape

Pouring champagne on a limousine in a public street, fully clothed = adult film star

The Big Picture

I’ve painstakingly gone through these details to show what a bizarro, upside down clown world we currently live in. As long as you are a person with views outside the politically correct, establishment approved norms, you are subject to having this sort of treatment foisted upon you.

And this is the larger aspect of the Machado saga. The fact that these sort of nonsensical forays into identity politics are a staple of political campaigns is something that needs to be nipped in the bud. While other politicians of lesser fortitude would have allowed themselves to be bullied by these tactics, I commend Trump for standing up to ambushes like these, because at the end of the day they do nothing but insult the intelligence of the average person.

By virtue of Clinton dramatically introducing Machado to the world on a Presidential Debate sage in front of 100 million people, backed by a complicit media which had Machado puff pieces and TV interview spots at the ready, this was always intended to be a big campaign issue. The aim was to turn women away from Trump en masse. If Trump is able to successfully combat this pathetic mode of political attack, he might render it useless in the future, to the benefit of the political discourse of this country generally.

Beyond politics, tactics like this are meant to silence. In the context of who deserves to be president, whether Trump called a woman fat years ago has no relevance. Yet is being presented in order to push the narrative of ‘sexism,’ which in turn is a weapon wielded by leftists in order to silence dissent. In the current climate, all one has to do is utter the word ‘sexist’ or ‘bigot,’ and you win the argument by criminalizing the opposition. Trump exposing the media and Clinton engaging in this intellectually lazy behavior will benefit the country culturally.

That Clinton would even pull this sort of early ‘October Surprise,’ with such a terribly flawed case and terribly flawed ‘victim’ could smack of desperation. But beyond this, for it to work would require female voters to discount the list of women Clinton allegedly intimidated to stay silent about Bill Clinton’s mistreatment of them. It would require female voters to discount the incompetence shown in allowing 4 Americans to die in Benghazi, the corruption and cronyism alleged in the Cinton Foundation and Wall Street speeches, which allowed the Clintons to go from ‘dead broke’ to having a net worth in the hundreds of millions. Female voters would have to discount the incompetence and/or outright criminality involved in deleting emails from a private server which held classified government information, her complicity in thrusting the United States in to foreign war after foreign war costing thousands of lives and creating chaos in the Middle East and an unprecedented migrant crisis, all while accepting money from countries with atrocious records with respect to the treatment of women. Female voters would have to side with a media establishment which blatantly covers for and aids Clinton in her bid for the presidency, because it’s ‘her turn.’

All because Trump may or may not have called a woman Miss Piggy 20 years ago.

 

 

Weekend Reading, Plus Debate Preview

First, the debate:

Pat Buchanan thinks Trump can win the debate if he merely exceeds the very low bar which has been set for him:

With only a year in national politics, he does not have to show a mastery of foreign and domestic policy details. Rather, he has to do what John F. Kennedy did in 1960, and what Ronald Reagan did in 1980.

 

He has to meet and exceed expectations, which are not terribly high. He has to convince a plurality of voters, who seem prepared to vote for him, that he’s not a terrible risk, and that he will be a president of whom they can be proud.

 

He has to show the country a Trump that contradicts the caricature created by those who dominate our politics, culture and press.

I tend to agree. This debate is almost entirely about Trump. He is the reason behind all the hype, he is the reason why there will be potentially a Super Bowl level audience. At the same time, he has a higher burden of proof. Right now, the substantial portion of the electorate that is on the fence with him has concerns over his ‘temperament.’ He has been made out to be a loose cannon that will go off at the slightest provocation. Some have intimated that the next major global conflict may arise because of a Tweet.

Trump is also made out to be totally clueless when it comes to policy, in particular foreign policy. These narratives have more or less stuck to Trump, and his success has come in spite of them. The debate offers Trump the opportunity to show the nation that he is taking the office of the presidency seriously. He has to show some basic awareness of the global situation around the world, avoiding a Gary Johnson Aleppo situation.

Stylistically, Trump would do well to avoid the bombast that was a feature of his Republican debates. This is not because it is a negative in and of itself, but because it is overkill. It feeds into the narrative that he is a loose cannon. If Clinton tries to play it tough, in an attempt to show she isn’t afraid to back down to ‘bullies,’ Trump turning the tables and being the smiling charmer that he can be would be devastating.

If Clinton reverts to her natural Typical Politician demeanor, Trump might have to be a bit tougher. He will have to be careful though, due to his reputation and because of the fact that Clinton is a woman. Despite the feminist Strong Independent Woman rhetoric which underpins her candidacy, there’s no doubt in my mind that the ‘sexism’ card will be used if Trump is seen in any way as bullying. Indeed, Obama intimated that it was sexism that was the only reason the election is close.

A word on the moderator, Lester Holt. Due to the fact that the media is in opposition to Trump, I expect the debates to be a Hillary + moderator tag team versus Trump. Undoubtedly, Hillary Clinton, along with Holt, will attempt to play on the loose cannon narrative in an attempt to create some sort of memorable moment of Trump exploding. Trump will score a major blow if he explicitly points this out in real time. There will surely be a moment when the moderator tries to go out of bounds to get Trump. It may be some sort of obscure historical fact, or digging up an old tweet or Trump quote in an interview. If Trump is able to get through this moment, and even reframe it to his advantage,  it’ll be a win.

As for the substance, Hillary Clinton will obviously be more ‘informed,’ in the sense that she is far more skilled at delivering memorized, focus group tested, inane political talking points than Trump is. In comparison, Trump will sound less scholarly.

This won’t matter as long as Trump sticks to his main messaging, perhaps reminding the public that all of the knowledge Clinton and those of her ilk possess has had disastrous real world results in the Middle East, the economy and elsewhere. All talk no action.

Personally, I believe the mainstream media will declare Clinton the winner, no matter what happens, apart from a health issue on her part.

Other Things to Read this Weekend:

An accurate take on the recent goings on in the Syria Conflict:

What happened in Syria is painfully obvious: the Pentagon sabotaged the deal made between Kerry and Lavrov and when the Pentagon was accused of being responsible, it mounted a rather crude false flag attack and tried to blame it on the Russians.

 

All this simply goes to show that the Obama Administration is in a state of confused agony.  The White House apparently is so freaked out at the prospects of a Trump victory in November that it has basically lost control of its foreign policy in general and, especially, in Syria.  The Russians are quite literally right: the Obama Administration is truly “not-agreement-capable”.

 

Of course, the fact that the Americans are acting like clueless frustrated children does not mean that Russia will reciprocate in kind.  We have already seen Lavrov go back and further negotiate with Kerry.  Not because the Russians are naive, but precisely because, unlike their US colleagues, the Russians are professionals who know that negotiations and open lines of communications are always, and by definition, preferable to a walk-away, especially when dealing with a superpower.  Those observers who criticize Russia for being “weak” or “naive” simply project their own, mostly American, “reaction set” on the Russians and fail to realize the simply truth that Russians are not Americans, they think differently and they act differently.

Staying in the vein of American interventions, some Libyans are starting to regret the backing of the US in getting rid of Gaddafi:

As stated by Libyan medical student, Salem:

 

“We thought things would be better after the revolution, but they just keep getting worse and worse.

 

“Far more people have been killed since 2011 than during the revolution or under 42 years of Gaddafi’s rule combined.

 

“We never had these problems under Gaddafi.

 

“There was always money and electricity and, although people did not have large salaries, everything was cheap, so life was simple.

 

“Some of my friends have even taken the boat to Europe with the migrants because they feel there is no future for them here.

 

“I would like to escape this mess and study abroad but I have been waiting a year for a new passport and, even when I do get one, it will be hard to get a visa because all the embassies left in 2014.

 

“So now I feel like a prisoner in my own country. And I have started to hate my own country.”

From the consistently good Jefferey Snider at Alhambra: Like Everything Else, History Repeats (Almost Exactly) Because Power Truly Corrupts:

As with almost everything with regard to global monetary policies, the Fed merely copied the Bank of Japan with about a decade lag (give or take a few years). The idea of “lower for longer” wasn’t made in the USA, it was designed and first implemented overseas by the Japanese. Every policy statement since the FOMC’s December rate decision could have easily just reprinted what I quoted above.

 

And US monetary officials are making the same mistake the Japanese made; they would only get as far as a second rate hike in early 2007 because of it. The reason is the same as now – they mistook the absence of contraction as if it were the start of stable, renewed growth. Not paying any attention to actual monetary conditions, it didn’t matter how narrow the data was in furtherance of that interpretation; BoJ policymakers saw what they wanted to see and used that as if the appropriate standard. In their case it was the CPI back on the plus side (but only temporarily), while in the US since 2014 it has been the official unemployment rate that excludes far too many.

Speaking history repeating, Fannie and Freddie are reverting to housing boom tactics to spur on home buying:

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are lowering mortgage standards.  On Monday, the two government-backed housing giants revealed a new program designed to boost mortgage origination among first time buyers and those with low to medium incomes. The new program, which will initially be limited two non-bank lenders, will allow borrowers to include the income of residents that aren’t actually on the mortgage, as well as make it easier for borrowers to include income from second jobs.

 

While these changes may strike some as sensible, anyone who has seen The Big Short would have valid concerns in the oversight of these looser lending standards – especially when you consider that the companies responsible for mortgage origination will not be the ones holding the mortgages, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will. It’s always easier to make loans when you know the taxpayers are the ones that will be holding the ris

 

 

Authenticity vs. Focus Group Approved Bureaucracy – The Choice is Yours

In yesterday’s post, I wrote the following about Trump’s unorthodox campaign, and why it was a bonus rather than a hinderance:

Trump has completely thrown that [conventional campaign] 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.

Almost straight away, I ran into this article in the Washington Examiner detailing the differences between Trump and Clinton’s social media game, which affirmed much of what I said yesterday:

In just a year, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and his close-knit family and team of social media warriors have shattered Internet records, collecting over 30 million followers and fans and generating billions of views, according to a Secrets analysis.

 

 

“The success to our social media is all Mr. Trump and his messaging. What sets his social media apart from the rest is simple — since day one, he has been directly involved and he LOVES communicating with the American people,” a top aide emailed.

A small team, communicating a distinct message directly to the people. It helps that the message is one that cuts rather deep, but that is beside the point. On the reach he is getting, the article points to his nearly 30 million followers on various social media accounts:

That’s a total reach of over 30 million. And just looking at Facebook activity, the campaign has registered 11.5 billion impressions.

 

By comparison, Democratic challenger Hillary Clinton, who has had a decade of experience developing an online network, has fewer followers than Trump. And even when including her popular daughter’s followers and the huge network former President Bill Clinton has, her reach is still short of Trump’s.

 

Scavino said that Trump’s fast startup is historic. “It has never been seen before. It will never be seen again. His social media platforms outperform those of Fortune 50 companies.”

Many pundits have pointed to the fact that Hillary Clinton has a ‘deep bench’ of surrogates, including the last two Democratic presidents, the current vice president, First Lady, former Democratic nominee and various A list celebrities. Meanwhile Trump has lukewarm support from the top brass in the Republican party, and virtually no support from the ‘old guard,’ such as the Bush family and former nominee Mitt Romney.

That would be well good for Hillary Clinton if the electorate as a whole was still transfixed by the allure of slick Beltway politicians pushing Politics as Usual on the masses. By all accounts, the electorate is growing weary of that lot, and is amenable to a candidate who goes to the people. In 2016, the way to do that is through social media, and the Trump campaign is clearly ahead of the curve here.

And it’s all being done without the huge social media team Clinton and others in the political world, like the White House, have. Clinton, for example, has at least 100 staffers working social media platforms for her. Trump has 131 total staffers for the whole campaign, according to Federal Election Commission records.

 

At Trump Tower it’s basically the Trump family, with Scavino on the road putting out news and features about events as they happen from Trump Force One.

Just in case you needed yet another example of the efficiency gulf between a businessman versus a bureaucrat. Trump is getting more done with a handful of people than Clinton is doing with hundreds. Just like in the primary, when Jeb Bush spent more to earn 1 of his 3 delegates than Trump did to earn all 1400+ of his. A good message is superior to money, prestige or name brand politicians. This is perhaps the most satisfying part of the campaign.

“We do not have consultants to review messages. We don’t have focus groups, to get their reactions to messaging. We don’t have a public relations firm, like Hillary, where we spend millions of dollars on ‘PR’ to craft messaging. We don’t have 15 people viewing each and every post — before it goes out. We don’t have more consultants crafting additional messaging, should Plan A not work out. We don’t have 45++ staffers working on executing posts via Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and now Snapchat — it’s just me with Mr. Trump traveling the United States of America,” said Scavino.

One of the scourges of the modern age has been the obsession with putting forth a ‘polished’ appearance, in many cases at the expense of substance. This is not to say that appearance is meaningless, far from it. But the hyper focus on appearances has left much of politics extremely stale and boring. Politics has devolved to a battle of the best crafty sound bite one can muster. This has created a class of consultants and PR experts who get paid handsome sums to put forth the perfect message.

The problem with that perfect message is that it has to be utterly forgettable. If you can’t say this because it will offend one group, and can’t say that because it will offend another, you’re left with extremely boring messages like ‘Stronger Together,’ which ultimately mean absolutely nothing.

Conversely, while Trump has said ‘controversial’ things, at the very least he’s made people think, and have serious dialogues about certain issues. Trump understands that you can’t please everyone, so there’s no point trying. You go with what you think is right, and the let the rest take care of itself.

Further Thoughts On ‘The Deplorables,’ and Pepe Memes

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The above photo is of Hillary Clinton emerging from her daughter Chelsea’s apartment after her fainting episode on Sunday morning at a 9/11 memorial event.

What is interesting about the photo is the irony of the sign in the foreground. On it reads a well known quote from Mike Tyson. “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.”

If the general election has been a boxing match so far, the first rounds were about even, up until the end of the Democratic convention. After that, all hell started to break loose for the Trump campaign, or at least that was the manufactured perception.

As I outlined in my recap of the summer that was in the election, the media was able to create almost constant drama over various things Trump had said, from the Khan fiasco, to the ‘second amendment people’ comment, among other things. These side issues were enough to continually distract attention from the issues at large and focus them on ‘gaffes’ which would have buried most candidates.

Trump is not most candidates, however, and as such he was able to come out the other side with minimal damage. To continue the boxing metaphor, the Clinton campaign and their sidekicks in the media got a flurry of early punches to the Trump body, but nothing that really hurt him. They expended a lot of energy in doing so, which leaves them susceptible to wearing down into the later rounds.

To be sure, Trump did change his management team, and rolled out a more buttoned up approach which still remained consistent to his views and his tone. Things were ticking along nicely for the Trump campaign, having picked up some momentum from his statesman-like trip to Mexico, his immigration speech, and his outreach to minority groups.

Then Clinton made the ‘deplorables’ comment. Speaking to a group of wealthy donors last week, she declared that half of Trump supporters could be placed into a ‘basket of deplorables.’ She said that these were the racists, sexists, homophobes, and so forth. The other half were those who she said has lost hope economically and were just hoping for a Trump miracle to save them.

In short, she declared that Trump’s support consisted of either bigots or hopeless people.

On Monday, responding to Clinton’s comments, Trump said the following in a campaign speech:

Clinton was using a very deliberate page from the Democratic Playbook – smearing someone with one of those names in order to scare them out of voting for change. She just took it to a whole new level by applying it to tens of millions of people.

 

She used these vile words in order to bully and intimidate honest citizens out of seeking government reform.

 

People who want their immigration laws enforced, and their borders secured, are not racists. They are patriotic Americans of all backgrounds who want their jobs and families protected.

 

People who warn about Radical Islamic Terrorism are not Islamophobes. They are decent American citizens who want to uphold our tolerant values and keep our country safe.

 

People who support the police, and who want crime reduced, are not prejudiced. They are concerned and loving citizens whose hearts break every time an innocent child is lost to preventable violence.

Trump captured a point which I articulated in my initial post on the subject, namely that for years the left has tried to pathologize anything that they disagree with. You simply couldn’t just be wrong if your views differed, you were somehow evil. Hillary Clinton even used the word ‘irredeemable’ in her description of some of those in that Basket of Deplorables.

Given the punishment for harboring bigoted views is generally social ostracism and ridicule, and the threshold for being considered a bigot becoming increasingly easier to satisfy, what Clinton calls for entails the ostracism of people for wanting simple things like a strong border, for example.

In other words, it is an overplay of the leftist hand, which may start to get them into trouble with everyday Americans who don’t appreciate being called a bigot just because they exist.

In attempting to deflect attention from the huge mistake Clinton made making that comment, her campaign has focused on these threads over the last 5 days:

Pepe The Frog Memes

A few days ago, Donald Trump Jr. posted this image on his Instagram:

screen-shot-2016-09-12-at-4-21-53-pm-1-e1473714136769-668x501

It’s a photoshopped riff on the movie The Expendables, but what caused a stir was the green frog. That frog, is a cartoon character called Pepe. It was created back in 2008, and became an internet meme on the message board 4chan some time later, well before the campaign.

The meme has quickly spread, and it has been used in a myriad of ways. One thing about memes is that they are very much used for different purposes, by different people. Consider these Kermit the Frog memes:

kermit-memes-but-thats-none-of-my-business-tho-1-what-the-vogue3

The same meme, used by different people, for different reasons.

Now that you sort of understand memes, let’s look at the Pepe meme. According to the media, the Pepe meme is a ‘white nationalist symbol.’ Here’s Chris Matthews giving a news report on the Don Jr. Instagram:

While it is true that the Alt-Right has adopted Pepe, and while there are plenty of Nazi/White Nationalist themed memes floating around the internet, it is important to understand them for what they are.

Trolling, plain and simple.

This goes back to the ‘basket of deplorables’ comment, and her entire campaign before that. It has been about calling any and everyone who happens to agree with anything Trump says a bigot. The culture in general has conformed to that sort of standard, with Trump’s candidacy being such a breath of fresh air in large part because of the way it eschews politically correct discourse and sanitized ideas.

The memes are essentially saying ‘if you’re going to stand there and scream racist/sexist/homophobe all day, I’m going to give you something to actually scream about.’ Case in point:

h6xf3o

Here we have a Pepe meme, which is a depiction of a scene from the movie American History X, about a neo-Nazi. The swastika tattoo, and the portrayal of violence against a woman combines themes like racism, sexism, and anti-semitism all into one image. It is designed to give oversensitive individuals a conniption, and if you got one from looking at that image, the image did its job. You’ve been trolled.

In the Chris Matthews clip, after he gets done, an analyst comes on and starts hyperventilating about how much of a concern it is that Don Jr. posted that meme. That exact reaction is the only reason these memes were posted in the first place. The fact that mainstream media outlets threw fits over this was exactly what the people on 4chan wanted to see. The pained reaction was the prize.

Hillary Clinton’s campaign fell right into this trap face first when her campaign officially put out an ‘explainer‘ for  the Pepe memes.afafaead

It’s especially rich considering Clinton never tires of calling Trump ‘thin skinned’ and declaring that his Twitter battles may pose a national security risk.

Yet it is her campaign which has been riled up over a cartoon frog meme.

Birther Rehash

Yesterday the Washington Post did an interview with Trump, and decided to bring up the birther issue:

In the interview, conducted late Wednesday aboard his private plane as it idled on the tarmac here, Trump suggested he is not eager to change his pitch or his positions even as he works to reach out to minority voters, many of whom are deeply offended by his long-refuted suggestion that Obama is not a U.S. citizen. Trump refused to say whether he believes Obama was born in Hawaii.

 

“I’ll answer that question at the right time,” Trump said. “I just don’t want to answer it yet.”

 

When asked whether his campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, was accurate when she said recently that he now believes Obama was born in this country, Trump responded: “It’s okay. She’s allowed to speak what she thinks. I want to focus on jobs. I want to focus on other things.”

 

He added: “I don’t talk about it anymore. The reason I don’t is because then everyone is going to be talking about it as opposed to jobs, the military, the vets, security.”

Clinton got wind of the interview, because shortly after it was published, she brought it up at an event she was doing. She stated:

He was asked one more time where was President Obama born, and he still wouldn’t say Hawaii. He still wouldn’t say America.

 

This man wants to be our next president? When will he stop this ugliness, this bigotry? Now, he’s tried to reset himself and his campaign many times. This is the best he can do. This is who he is.

The Trump campaign responded with an excellent reframe, blatantly reminding everyone that it was the Clinton campaign – back in 2008 – which first raised the questions as to where President Obama was born:

Hillary Clinton’s campaign first raised this issue to smear then-candidate Barack Obama in her very nasty, failed 2008 campaign for President. This type of vicious and conniving behavior is straight from the Clinton Playbook. As usual, however, Hillary Clinton was too weak to get an answer. Even the MSNBC show Morning Joeadmits that it was Clinton’s henchmen who first raised this issue, not Donald J. Trump.

 

In 2011, Mr. Trump was finally able to bring this ugly incident to its conclusion by successfully compelling President Obama to release his birth certificate. Mr. Trump did a great service to the President and the country by bringing closure to the issue that Hillary Clinton and her team first raised. Inarguably, Donald J. Trump is a closer. Having successfully obtained President Obama’s birth certificate when others could not, Mr. Trump believes that President Obama was born in the United States.

 

Mr. Trump is now totally focused on bringing jobs back to America, defeating radical Islamic terrorism, taking care of our veterans, introducing school choice opportunities and rebuilding and making our inner cities safe again.” – Jason Miller, Senior Communications Advisor

Both this and the Pepe fiasco both serve the same end. These episodes, to the extent they stick, allow Hillary Clinton to attempt use the same bigot/racist/sexist canard she was trying to use when she made her Basket of Deplorables comment. The issue she might have is that the general public may be at their wits end when it comes to this kind of thinking.

Thus far the Clinton campaign’s response to being pegged back by Trump is to double, triple and quadruple down on the ‘You’re Racist!’ argument. It is extremely weak, as none of this has anything to do with the real issues of employment, trade, the economy, national security and immigration. That Clinton is trying ever so hard to keep the discussion away from policy is telling. It suggests that Trump’s message is catching on.

 

 

Reality Doesn’t Care About Feelings, Volume 3 – The Colin Kaepernick Protest

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.

0901-colin-kaepernick-socks-getty-zoom-3

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:

ncfs-table

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.

 

[Study finds police fatally shoot unarmed black men at disproportionate rates] 

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:

contact-with-police

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.

The “Trump Just Doesn’t Know What He’s Talking About” Argument is Based on a Flawed Analogy

In my view, one of Donald Trump’s biggest hurdles to the presidency is the idea that he has no idea what he’s talking about with respect to many issues, but mostly in terms of foreign policy. Since Hillary Clinton has spent nearly three decades in and around Washington DC as First Lady, Senator, and Secretary of State, during which time she’s flown around the world to meet with leaders and diplomats, and actually been in the ‘war room’ when key decisions were made, she is the candidate we should trust with the nuclear codes. Donald Trump, on the other hand, is a buffoon business tycoon who shoots off at the mouth with little regard for any fall out.

Or so the story goes.

Last night at NBC’s Commander-in-Chief Fourm, Matt Lauer touched on this point with Trump, asking him the following:

So many of the issues that we’ve talked about with you, Mr. Trump, tonight, and Secretary Clinton, are so complex that even career military people and career diplomats and politicians have trouble getting their arms around them….You’ve had a very different background, in business. So nobody would expect you to have taken over the last 20 years really deep dives into some of these issues. But I’m curious about what you’re doing now. What kind of research are you doing now? What kind of homework are you doing? What kind of things are you reading as you prepare for the day in two months where you might be elected the next president of the United States?

On the surface, it’s a good question. Trump really does have no experience in the narrow arena of Geopolitics and military conflict, at least compared to Hillary Clinton. The issue is that in this case, Clinton’s experience may actually be a big negative. Thus the premise of the question is flawed.

The root of the flaw is the false equivalence being made between foreign policy and a discipline like physics. Physics is a scientific discipline which is founded on universal principles and phenomena in the natural world which are known to be true. Foreign policy is the extension of a political ideology onto a world stage.

In other words, people are wrong to be making the following analogy:

Trump is to Hillary Clinton in Foreign Policy, as a Physics 101 student is to Stephen Hawking in Physics

Again, this would hold if foreign policy was based on falsifiable arguments and hypotheses the way physics is. The reality is that it simply isn’t.

Donald Trump is extremely ignorant, when looking through the tinted lens of the post WWII US foreign policy of interventionism, nation building, and soft imperialism. He sings an unabashed America First song, in direct contrast to what he correctly terms the ‘false song of globalism.’ His views on the place of the US military in the world seems to be ‘Peace Through Strength,’ rather than the more passive aggressive, relative half measures the US has currently been undertaking in war.

This doesn’t represent ignorance, but a complete difference in views. Which is fine when we’re dealing in an ideology based arena such as foreign policy. Trump is not arguing that Bernoulli’s Principle doesn’t exist. He is arguing that the current ideology has failed us and we must try something different.

And on that point, there is little to argue about.

Regardless of what you think about the intentions, the bottom line is that the ‘Russian Reset,’ the Syrian Red Line, toppling Ghadafi in Libya, the Arab Spring, Benghazi, and setting the foundation for the Iran deal had disastrous outcomes. The destabilization created room for ISIS, which now has a gigantic swath of land in the Middle East from which it is fanning out terror operations worldwide.

This is not a partisan argument either – the Bush administration had numerous blunders in the foreign policy arena as well, chief of which being the handling of the Iraq War.

Trump stands against both Republicans and Democrats, which is why he’s been pilloried by both sides. Just last month, 50 former GOP national security officials wrote an open letter imploring Americans to steer clear of Trump because of the ‘danger’ he represents.

 

This merely confirms the fact that Trump is a true agent of change. Both the Republican and Democrat establishments have been happy to feed the Military Industrial Complex for decades, despite the warnings of President Eisenhower. To people like those who wrote that open letter, the ‘danger’ is that the status quo is disturbed.

Regardless of the outcomes of the wars and skirmishes America has been involved with over the last few decades, regardless of the bloodshed and the lives lost, the elites in the government and those in the defense industry have reaped rewards.

Trump doesn’t care about the status quo. He cares about America engaging in foreign policy that benefits the people, as opposed to the special interests in government and the defense industry. As such, his advisers are outsiders, just like he is.

Consider Michael Flynn, a retired lieutenant general who served in the Obama administration as the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency. He was ultimately forced out of the role in 2014:

Stars and Stripes said Flynn “did not leave the Obama administration on warm terms,” adding that, “in 2014, he was effectively forced out of the Defense Intelligence Agency as part of a leadership shake-up after clashing with officials over his management style and vision for the agency.”

 

Flynn explained his firing, according to the New York Post, by saying he “knew then it had more to do with the stand I took on radical Islamism and the expansion of al Qaeda and its associated movements. I felt the intel system was way too politicized, especially in the Defense Department.”

Despite being a Democrat, he has been one of Donald Trump’s key advisers, even making the short list to be his Vice Presidential pick. The reason for this is that Flynn, like Trump, disagrees with the the way the establishment is taking to foreign policy, if not the basic ideology itself.

That Trump may not be well versed in some of the political lingo, some of the more detailed strategic points, or arcane historical facts which may affect policy is not automatically disqualifying. After all, Barack Obama was similarly cast as inexperienced, and ill-informed on matters of foreign policy – by none other than Hillary Clinton back in 2008.

Given Obama’s election, the country obviously didn’t think those claims were valid. It is rich, however, that the same Obama-turned-Clinton supporters are now claiming that Trump has no clue what he’s doing, and doesn’t have the experience.

This is because Obama, of ‘adequate’ experience, exercised that wisdom to put Hillary Clinton in the Secretary of State position, which led to the aforementioned failures of her tenure. These failures are currently being touted as the evidence of the requisite experience needed to be president, that Trump lacks. It’s not a very convincing argument coming from Obama and Clinton.

The bottom line is that the type of experience matters. Trump’s experience has been in business, overseeing large complex problems by giving it direction, and making sure the right people are in charge to take care of things at a more local level. This translates almost directly to what he would have to be doing as a President. It is up to those underneath a President Trump to carry out the day to day grunt work involved in getting the job done. Trump’s job is to hire the best people, who will give him the best information, to then devise strategy based on this information within the framework of an overarching goal, and then to implement it. In short, true leadership is the ultimate job of the President.

Trump has been doing this for his entire adult life, to great success. In that respect, he is far more qualified than the perpetual failure Clinton has ever been.

Why the ‘Resolution’ of Hilary Clinton’s EMail Scandal Helps Trump

This morning, FBI Director James Comey held a press conference in which he declared that the FBI was to recommend that the Department of Justice did not pursue criminal charges against Hillary Clinton for her handling of classified information via her personal email system.

There is nothing particularly surprising about that on it’s own. Very few people actually expected Clinton to be indicted. What was surprising is the fact that Comey laid out a detailed explanation of the evidence that they did have of her wrongdoing. The following is a snippet:

Although we did not find clear evidence that Secretary Clinton or her colleagues intended to violate laws governing the handling of classified information, there is evidence that they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information.

 

For example, seven e-mail chains concern matters that were classified at the Top Secret/Special Access Program level when they were sent and received. These chains involved Secretary Clinton both sending e-mails about those matters and receiving e-mails from others about the same matters. There is evidence to support a conclusion that any reasonable person in Secretary Clinton’s position, or in the position of those government employees with whom she was corresponding about these matters, should have known that an unclassified system was no place for that conversation. In addition to this highly sensitive information, we also found information that was properly classified as Secret by the U.S. Intelligence Community at the time it was discussed on e-mail (that is, excluding the later “up-classified” e-mails).

 

None of these e-mails should have been on any kind of unclassified system, but their presence is especially concerning because all of these e-mails were housed on unclassified personal servers not even supported by full-time security staff, like those found at Departments and Agencies of the U.S. Government—or even with a commercial service like Gmail.

To be sure, the use of the term ‘extremely careless’ is a synonym for ‘gross negligence,’ which in fact is a felony crime when applied to the handling of classified information, as per 18 U.S. Code § 793, section f. Indeed, the mere fact that Clinton had set up a private email server to house what is essentially government property is a violation of that code.

Long story short, the director of the FBI admitted point blank that Hillary Clinton committed a felony, however it was not going to recommend any sort of indictment to the DOJ.

The Clinton campaign predictably was relieved by it, and moved quickly to intimate that that the matter was now put to bed.

I wouldn’t be so hasty. In fact, I believe that Trump has been handed a gift here.

In being so explicit, the FBI has essentially destroyed many of the outs the Clinton campaign, and indeed the media who undoubtedly leans her way, would try to employ. Had Comey come out and given some sort of boilerplate statement full of legalese, any Clinton surrogate could merely point to the fact that an investigation had been done, and there was no evidence of wrongdoing.

By saying there was evidence of wrongdoing but no charges forthcoming, the FBI has basically confirmed to the American public that one of Trump’s main talking points – that the system is corrupt and rigged – is absolutely true. Furthermore, Hillary Clinton is the poster child for that corruption and she is running for president, thereby leaving Trump as the more honest candidate by default.

Trump already had plenty of staying power thanks to his status as the ‘outsider’ versus the ‘establishment’ representative that Clinton is. To the extent that there are any fence sitters who didn’t buy the claim that there was a group of insiders colluding against the public from within the chamber halls of Washington DC, they have now been shown an incontrovertible, in your face example of the system at work. One set of rules for the insiders, another for the rest of us. Crooked Hillary indeed.

To focus more on the election, Comey’s report rubbishes the main Clinton campaign rationale for voting for her over Trump. According to that view, Clinton’s experience, steady hand, competence, and extensive understanding of global politics built up over 20 years was vastly superior to Trump. The rationale was that we needed someone who knows what he or she is doing to guide us through the treacherous waters of modern geopolitics.

The simple rebuttal to that now is that were Hillary Clinton to apply for a job in the government today, she would be barred from access to sensitive information of any kind, owing to the ‘carelessness’ she displayed with classified material in the past. Comey said as much, saying:

To be clear, this is not to suggest that in similar circumstances, a person who engaged in this activity would face no consequences. To the contrary, those individuals are often subject to security or administrative sanctions. But that is not what we are deciding now.

In short, part of the penalty for doing what Clinton did would be ‘security or administrative sanctions.’ In other words, termination or a loss of security clearance. Given that Clinton is now running for an office which holds the ultimate security clearance, Comey is essentially saying that any other person would be disqualified from seeking any position involving sensitive information, let alone the presidency. But Hillary Clinton isn’t any other person. One rule for the establishment, another for the rest of us.

Once again, Comey stated that:

There is evidence to support a conclusion that any reasonable person in Secretary Clinton’s position, or in the position of those government employees with whom she was corresponding about these matters, should have known that an unclassified system was no place for that conversation.

According to Comey, Hillary Clinton did not act in the way a reasonable person should have in that position. This is important because it speaks to Clinton’s competence and professionalism.

If she is indeed the most qualified, wisest, most experienced person to run, as is the argument posed by her supporters, how is it that she failed in such a fundamental aspect of her job as Secretary of State? This episode has shown that Clinton is either stunningly incompetent, or stunningly corrupt. Pick one.

As time goes on, expect the Clinton campaign, and indeed the media, to shut down those who would bring this criticism. There would be an attempt to marginalize it by saying it was old news, or a tired Republican conspiracy, or something of that nature.

And to a certain extent, they will have a point. At a certain point, the average voter will tire of hearing about emails and will perhaps start to tune out when the argument is made.

It’s potency lies in the fact that it is a destroyer of Clinton’s main argument – that she is the cool, experienced head, the adult in the room as it were. Trump must focus on the point that competent, experienced leaders don’t put the safety of Americans at risk via negligence.

Cool heads don’t try and destroy evidence after the fact, as Clinton has done deleting emails. Honest players don’t set up servers specifically to house government property outside the purview of government eyes, and lie about it repeatedly afterwards.

And speaking of lying – Comey’s admission casts further doubt on everything Clinton had said before in regards to this issue. Breitbart ran a piece deconstructing how what Comey relayed this morning was different than what Clinton had been telling the public about the saga:

1. FALSE: Hillary Clinton never sent any classified information, or emails containing information marked “classified.”

2. FALSE: Hillary Clinton turned over all work-related emails to the State Department.

3. FALSE: Hillary Clinton was allowed to use a private e-mail server.

4. FALSE: Hillary Clinton’s server was not hacked by foreign adversaries.

5. FALSE: Hillary Clinton had only used a single mobile device for email.

Does this mean that Clinton may have perjured herself in the various hearings she engaged in on this matter, and others? Who else in the Obama Administration knew of Clinton’s setup and said nothing about it? Did Obama himself know? If so, there would be grounds for further legal action. The web of disaster for Obama and the Democratic party threatens to be vast if a domino such as this fell.

As such it is entirely possible that Comey, feeling ‘pressure’ had to stall and eventually shut it down so as to not turn the wrath of the entire DC machine on his head. It further goes to the view that our government is hopelessly corrupt, and their only interest is in themselves, rather than the American people. Episodes such as this should make it clear as day that an outsider is needed, to clean up the vast mess that is American politics.

The failures of the post WWII status quo are starting to pile up higher and higher. It is up to the public to act accordingly.