Sunday, July 30, 2017

Racist Walking?

In a recent NYT column, a black man described his experiences with white women on the sidewalks.

There are many times in a day when a person is walking toward me and in my path. In these situations, we both generally make minor adjustments upon our approach. Sometimes, and especially with pedestrians who are black, as I am, there's eye contact or even a nod. Almost always, we shift our bodyweight or otherwise detour to make the pass easier for the other. Walking courteously doesn't take much, just soup├žons of spatial awareness, foresight and empathy. In seven years of living and walking here, I've found that most people walk courteously — but that white women, at least when I'm in their path, do not.

Sometimes they're buried in their phones. Other times, they're in pairs and groups, and in conversation. But often, they're looking ahead, through me, if not quite at me. When white women are in my path, they almost always continue straight, forcing me to one side without changing their course. This happens several times a day; and a couple of times a week, white women force me off the sidewalk completely. In these instances, when I'm standing in the street or in the dirt as a white woman strides past, broad-shouldered and blissful, I turn furious.

So white women are racist.

Or... maybe the author sees racism where it doesn't exist. He goes on to say that he asked other black men and one Asian man about it. The black men said that it had happened to them, the Asian man said that white women made way for him but white men didn't.

There's one group that was omitted from that small sample - white men. Being a white man, I'll take the liberty of offering an answer. Yes, it happens to us, too. I've had it happen several times.

I'm going out on a limb here but I'm going to take a wild guess that he didn't ask any white men because he didn't want to know the answer. He's part of a culture that ways that anything that he dislikes must be from racism. But it it happens to white men, too then that blows up his main point.

So, why would women refuse to recognize the men around her? Three years ago a video showed a woman walking through the streets of NYC and getting constant catcalls. Granted this was 10 hours of walking condensed down to a few minutes but it shows that even a woman who refuses to recognize the men around her gets hit on.

So, maybe, what the author saw as racism was a defense mechanism. But that draws all the wrong conclusions. It places the blame on men. Instead of being part of an oppressed group, he becomes one of the oppressor class. And what fun is that?

Friday, July 28, 2017

What Happened or What "Happened"

Hillary Clinton's new book on the 2016 election will be out September 12. It was just announced that the title will be "What Happened" and will feature Hillary letting her guard down.

The release date of the book is ironic because the date is the anniversary of when she lost the campaign. Two events - her "basket of deplorables" speeches coming to light and her collapse at the 9/11 memorial and subsequent conflicting stories about its cause stopped her campaign dead in its tracks.

Clinton has a long history of self-serving books. This one promises to be different but it also promises to connect the dots between Russia and Donald Trump. So, will it be an honest account of the Clinton campaign including all of the missteps at the top or will it be a justification for everything that Hillary did, full of conspiracy theories. Here's some things to watch for:

The email server. Nothing hurt Clinton's campaign more than her decision to use a private email server rather than the official one at the State Department. She has previously given questionable justification for that. Will she finally admit that she wanted total control over her correspondence, even if it meant making it less secure? In a related question, will she mention that her emails got onto the laptop of Anthony Weiner because her aid,Huma Abedin, was forwarding them to Weiner to print? Previously Hillary has blamed the FBI's reopening of the email investigation for her loss. Will she admit that there would have been no investigation without these decisions?

Her collapse and her health. Her collapse at the 9/11 memorial capped weeks of speculation about her health. Even after her collapse it took days before her campaign admitted that she was suffering from pneumonia. Until the news release went out, most of her staff had no idea that she was sick. How will she explain that? And how healthy is she really?

Russia Hackers released two troves of emails, the first from the DNC server and the second from one of her top campaign officials. There is evidence to indicate that Russian hackers were involved. There is a much weaker case that the Russian government was involved. Assuming that Putin was personally involved in this, he might have done it out of spite because he dislikes Hilary and feared that as president she would try to force him out of office. Will Hillary admit this or will she push the theory that Trump colluded with Putin in exchange for future favors?

Her campaign. The book Shattered paints a picture of a campaign in disarray with no clear lines of authority and an ever-expanding set of people at the top. Hillary herself became increasingly distant from the campaign, seldom meeting face to face and using speaker phone for important meetings. What will she have to say about this? What of the decision that it was too difficult and expensive to try to convert Trump supporters? Instead of trying to persuade Republicans, the Clinton campaign ran negative ads for months to try to suppress Trump voters and relied on get-out-the-vote efforts to reassemble the Obama coalition. Will she admit that this was her strategy and that it was a mistake?

Trump looming over her. During the second debate, Hillary executed a practiced move, leaving her seat and walking across the stage to position herself between a camera and Trump. Her press released a statement about how women have to face angry men "looming" over their shoulder and Hillary talked about how Trump was following her around the stage when he never left his seat. Will she admit what really happened or will she continue to talk about Trump looming over her? This is a small point but I already saw it mentioned in a Huffington Post article on Hillary's book.

In short, will Clinton admit to the many mistakes and missteps that she and her campaign made or will she use this new book to justify everything she did and place the blame everywhere else? Personally, I don't think that there's a chance in the world that Hillary will write an honest account of the election. She will justify every decision, skirt over the inconvenient parts and blame everyone but herself.


Wednesday, July 26, 2017

How to Condescend While Saying Not To

In a recent column in USA, card-carrying member of the resistance, Andrew Redlawsk suggests that liberal should listen and not condescend when talking with Trump Voters. He then manages to be amazingly condescending.

My typical response to conservatives who see me as a smug, elitist hypocrite for not being tolerant of their beliefs is that I'm "intolerant of intolerance," but I've realized that that mistake is the issue. No, we don't have to accept and respect others' bigotry or ignorance, but it's incredibly important that we understand where it comes from and why it exists.
With this sweeping statement, he tars everyone in the opposition as ignorant bigots.

The folks who voted for Trump are by and large people who see progressivism, and specifically concepts like political correctness and intersectionalism, as an attack on all of those deeply held feelings of what America "is." To them, our movement is an assault on their Field of Dreams. They're afraid of losing their (yes, white and Christian) America in the tidal wave of cultural shifts that have occurred over recent decades.

Is calling them racist going to change that? Is calling them bigots going to do it? Hateful? Monsters? Ignorant? Uneducated? Privileged? We don't have to agree with it, but we have to attempt to understand it.

And yet, he's already called us bigots.

The only way The Resistance succeeds is if we fundamentally change our tactics. We must realize that the way into these hearts is to respectfully suggest that the causes we fight for actually align with their deeply held patriotism and love for America. That yes, our marginalized communities may look different and speak a different language, but they want all the same things you do, and they want to have them in this incredible country we've built together. They also want to have their Field of Dreams. That's why they came here in the first place! And isn't it the American Way to do everything we can to give them that opportunity?

Actually, most progressives equate patriotism with nationalism and then lump it in with fascism. American flags are seen as micro-agressions. To progressives, America is a racist patriarchy. And he's still assuming that conservatives are anti-foreigner. He made the typical mistake of equating positions against illegal immigrants with being anti-foreigner.

But what this also means is that we as progressives need to stop getting so offended by everything and learn to put ourselves in others' shoes. All of our experiences — conservatives and progressives alike — give us unique perspectives, and it is absolutely unhelpful to say things like "it's not our job to teach you" when someone comes to us with questions.

Actually, it is our job.

This sounds good but he doesn't actually want to see things from a conservative point of view. He wants us to see things from his point of view. He wants to teach us the error of our ways.

To summarize: Progressives, stop insulting, stop shaming, and stop condescending. Start listening. Start teaching.

Good advice. Too bad he's not taking it.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The Left's Hamburger Problem

Business Insider has an observation on a big problem that the Democrats have - their judgementalism. The point is this is that most Americans agree with the Democrats on specific policies but are repelled by the constant judgement from the left.

The Business Insider article is approaching the subject from the left. I'll address it from the right.

The Obama years were very good for the left. They achieved their main goals, then, emboldened by their victories, they moved the goalposts. A lot. They also doubled down on their gains.

The LGBT alliance is an example. When Obama ran in 2008, he felt that he could not win if he supported gay marriage. Not long after his election and while gay marriage was still not recognized in several states, the left decided to use the power of the government to force a consensus. If a baker or photographer refused service because of religious convictions then that person was publicly pilloried and run out of business. The message was that this is the new order and no dissent will be allowed. Even people like me who have supported gay marriage since before it was fashionable were shocked by the vindictiveness of this.

The the LGBT lobby moved the goalposts some more. Trans rights came out of nowhere and suddenly became the law of the land. Not only are we to accept transsexuals but suddenly the whole concept of gender binary is being questioned. We're being scolded for announcing the sex of babies instead of letting them grow up as gender neutral beings until they can decide for themselves. We're even being scolded for "forcing" gender onto our pets.

This is a huge social leap and the left is totally unforgiving of anyone who was left behind. It's also moving ahead of science and anyone who questions this on medical grounds is browbeaten.

Then there's Intersectional feminism. This holds that our culture is inherently racists and sexist. Straight, white, cicgenered males are considered the worst of the lot. No one likes to be told that they are irredeemably racists/sexist/etc. Or that their race/sex/orientation/religion make their views irrelevant. This is a movement that eats itself. Just today black, queer protestors marched on the local Stonewall Union.

It's hard to get people to vote with you when you are telling them that they are terrible people. Just ask Hillary Clinton and her basket of deplorables.

The list goes on. The left is constantly worrying about global warming but, as the Business Insider points out, their remedies tend to match their lifestyle. This is particularly true of the rich elite who emit more carbon than a family of four in order to fly half-way around to world to preach carbon reduction.

The left holds a great deal of the country in contempt while counting on them for ever-further march to the left.

If they want to stop the hemorrhaging, the left needs to start being more tolerant.  

Monday, July 17, 2017

Trump Jr - three possibilities

Given the known facts about Donald Trump, Jr's meeting with a Russian attorney, I can think of three possibilities. I'll list them below but first I want to make a few observations.

First, the term "ties to the Kremlin" is kind of like "degrees of Kevin Bacon". Virtually every highly-placed person from Russia will have some sort of ties with the Kremlin. This is part of doing business. The lawyer also has ties to the group hired to do opposition research on Trump, Sr, for rival Republicans and later the DNC.

Simply trying to get background information, even information acquired by the Kremlin, is not unusual. The "Trump dossier" that was publicized shortly after Trump was inaugurated was supposed to contain KGB information and no one blinked an eye at the DNC being involved with that. No one was bothered by the DNC doing opposition research with the help of Estonia, either.

So, what are the possibilities?

1) The lawyer lied about having dirt on Hillary Clinton in order to get an appointment to talk about her pet cause, adoption of Russian children. This is Trump, Jr's story.

2) The lawyer made an agreement to release DNC emails in exchange for some concessions. That's a lot of negotiations in a single 20-minute meeting with no known follow-ups or face-to-face with Trump, Sr. Still, this is the story that the Left and the press believe. The closest to proof for this is that Grucifer 2 released the DNC emails shortly after the meeting.

3) The meeting was a set-up by the group doing opposition research on the Trumps in order to provide an excuse for the Obama administration to monitor the Trump campaign. The Lawyer claimed to have dirt on Clinton then changed to the adoption story once she'd gotten her meeting. As I mentioned before, the lawyer has as many ties to the opposition research group as to the Kremlin. Also, she was allowed into the country after her visa had been rejected. The timing of the requests to monitor the Trump campaign match this scenario as well as the release of the emails matches the second one.

Personally, I think the first one is the most likely. It fits the known events the best. The Left is grasping at any contact with anyone from Russia as proof of collusion. Some people on the Right are doing the same thing with the Obama administration's tapping of Trump communications.

My main point is that we don't know for certain what happened in the meeting. It's silly to insist that the second possibility is the only one and shows Trump Derangement Syndrome.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Trump jr and the Russians

Reading over the reactions to the news that Donald Trump jr took a meeting with a Russian lawyer who claimed to have information from the Russian government that would be damaging to Hillary Clinton, I'm struck by a couple of things that no one mentions:

1) At no time did the Trump campaign actually release any damaging information about the Clintons. Yes, emails from the DNC server and one of Clinton's campaign advisors that cast the Clinton campaign in a bad light were released but any link between these and this lawyer are highly tenuous. The lack of any real dirt matches Trump jr's assertion that the lawyer just used that as a pretext to get a meeting.

2) If it's illegal and possibly treasonous to take a meeting with someone offering information from the Russians then what about the Trump dossier - the one that supposedly contained information straight from the Kremlin? That was part of a paid opposition research project started under the Republicans and continued under the Democrats. How can it be illegal to meet with someone who is offering such information but perfectly alright to pay someone to gather such information directly from the Russians? No one said a peep about that when the contents of the dossier were released.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Will There Be a 2018 Wave Election?

Common wisdom in DC is that the days of the Republican congressional majority are numbered. The 2018 election will be a wave election that gives the Democrats control of both houses. I've written about this before on general terms but details are emerging warranting an update.

The case for a wave election is based on a few suppositions: Waves are inevitable, Changing American demographics favor the Democrats, The electorate wants more socialism, and The voters will be so repulsed by President Trump that they will turn on the Republicans.

Waves are Inevitable. Obama and Clinton both entered office with majorities but had wave elections in their first midterm that delivered both houses to the Republicans. George W Bush entered office with a majority but lost it in his second midterm election. Going back further, the Republicans too the Senate when Reagan won in 1980 but lost it in his second midterm. That makes it seem like Congress is up for grabs. A longer look tells a very different story.

Here's a chart showing which party controlled Congress since the founding of the Republican party.

 This tells a very different story. The Republicans controlled Congress most of the time from its founding until the Great Depression. The Democrats dominated Congress until the 1994 wave Since then the Republicans have controlled the House and the Senate has been split but slightly favoring the Republicans. This shows that wave elections do happen but are not as inevitable as the Democrats expect.

Changing American demographics favor the Democrats. Also known as Identity Politics, this is appealing to minority voters as a block. The percentage of straight, white voters is declining and the Democrats hope to pick up the minority vote by appealing to specific causes important to the minorities. The biggest push on this has involved illegal immigrants, a subject important to Hispanic leaders. Hillary Clinton's campaign strategy was to appeal to the Obama coalition while trying to discourage Trump supporters from voting. While this may be a viable long-term strategy, current demographics don't support it. Obama won by mobilizing a record minority turnout. Many of these people were not voting for Obama's policies (in fact, videos taken during the election showed that many voters had no idea what Obama's policies were). They voted for the first black candidate and the son of a sort-of immigrant, Even Obama's coalition weakened between his first election and his reelection and it fell apart completely when Obama was replaced by a rich white women. At the same time, the Democrats' identity politics drove away the white working-class that had been their backbone for decades.

Identity politics might be the wave of the future but the Democrats have to survive as a party until that future arrives.

The Democrats have another problem - the minority vote is highly concentrated. This is often chalked up to gerrymandering but it's also a voting rights issue. In order to maximize the number of minority candidates in Congress, the lines are drawn to make minority/majority districts. This is great for minority candidates but bad for the Democrats.

The electorate wants more socialism. In the wake of Bernie Sanders's campaign, many Democratic strategists have decided that they need to outright attack capitalism and propose sweeping socialist reforms. While most people see Obama as the furthest left president since LBJ or possible FDR, they see him as a disappointment. The loss of four special elections convinced them that the candidates should have campaigned further to the left and that this is the future for the party.

There are real problems with this approach. When the Democrats retook Congress in 2006, it was by recruiting moderate candidates to run in conservative states. These so-called Blue Dog Democrats were purged from the party as it drifted left and the last of them were defeated in the 2010 Republican wave. Hillary Clinton ran well to the left of her husband and lost the election.

Enthusiasm for socialism varies by state and the states that support it the most are already solidly Democrat. It doesn't do the party any good to win over more voters in California (as Hillary found when that state gave her the majority of the popular vote).

There's also the problem that socialism doesn't work. California is falling apart and other socialist pushes such as the $15/hour wage are failing as economic reality sets in.

The voters will be so repulsed by President Trump that they will turn on the Republicans. This one should seem familiar. A bit over a year ago the Democrats were convinced that Trump was so unpopular that he would pull his entire party down with him giving them total control of the government (after Clinton appointed a liberal justice to replace the conservative Scalia in the Supreme Court). We can see how well that worked out for them.

Trump might drag the party down eventually but it will be his policies that do it. Clinton and Obama pushed hard-left policies in their first terms and were punished for it at the polls. Bush's war in Iraq and the financial crisis dragged the Republicans down in 2010 and 2012. Trump's approval ratings are low but this is misleading. The people who voted against him really, really hate him while the people who voted for him are milder in their support. And the Democrats, particularly minority leader Nancy Pelosi, are just as unpopular.

The Democrats have also spent the last year denigrating anyone who voted for Trump. Last September it was Clinton's "basket of deplorables". After the election, memes were flying around social media condemning anyone who voted for Trump as a racist and sexist. People were demanding that any Trump supporters remove themselves from their feeds. Now the Democrats expect that same group of people to support them. This is not a winning message.

The truth of the election is that it is really out of the Democrats' hands. The election will be a referendum on the performance of Trump and the Republicans. The strength of the economy and the overall satisfaction on health care are big factors. Trump made several big promises. If he's seen as keeping them and presiding over a strong economy then the Democrats are in trouble. If a recession hits or Trump involves us in an unpopular war then they will make gains.

Even their resistance can hurt them. If things go well then they will be seen as hurting progress and the Republicans will run against their obstructionism.

The bottom line here is that the 2018 Democratic wave might not happen at all and there's little they can do to change things

Friday, July 07, 2017

Punching Down

After terrorists attacked the editorial offices of the Paris-based satire newspaper Charlie Hebdo, some on the Left implied that they deserved it for "punching down" instead of "punching up" meaning that they should only have satirized the powerful. That seemed offensive to me since the "powerless" that they were accused of attacking had guns and bombs and were willing to use them.

Keep that in mind when judging CNN's coverage of a short clip showing President Trump hitting someone with a CNN logo over his head. CNN issued this statement:

CNN is not publishing "HanA**holeSolo's" name because he is a private citizen who has issued an extensive statement of apology, showed his remorse by saying he has taken down all his offending posts, and because he said he is not going to repeat this ugly behavior on social media again. In addition, he said his statement could serve as an example to others not to do the same.
CNN reserves the right to publish his identity should any of that change.
After heavy criticism, CNN backed off a bit from this statement. Some people called it blackmail. While that is debatable, it is certainly an example of punching down. CNN knows that publicizing this person's name will cause him no end of problems up to and including threats on his life.

This person didn't do anything wrong. He made a silly clip. Apparently he's made others that CNN found offensive. But lots of people post things online that CNN would find offensive and they don't threaten to publicize any of those people. This person's main sin was that President Trump used his meme. Otherwise CNN would never have given him a second (pr possibly first) thought.

That they bothered digging into who made the clip in the first place was an inappropriate use of their time. It was punching down. Then they doubled down on it by threatening to ruin the guy's life if he didn't change his ways. A news organization should not make itself arbiter of someone's behavior.

CNN's staff has complained that they have received death threats. Considering the reactions from the left to the Charlie Hebdo attack, would they also condemn CNN for punching down or would they circle the wagons around one of their own?

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

A Muslim Comes to Minnesota - and Projects

The Washington Post had an article about a Muslim doctor who moved to rural Minnesota. Things started out great but they took a nosedive with the election.

There's a take-down of the article here on Power Line but there are a lot of aspects that they missed.

Dr. Ayaz Virji, a doctor in internal medicine moved to Dawson, Minn. along with his wife, Musarrat, and children. He was given a warm welcome and felt perfectly comfortable in his new home. The butchers even learned how to do halal meat.

Then came the election. Donald Trump carried Dawson by 6 points. Virji was in a rage over Trump's win and began noticing that the people around him seemed to be avoiding him.

He gave a couple of talks on Islam. The first was well-attended and politely received. The second attracted fewer people and was attended by some bible-bearing hecklers. The Washington Post's reporter attended a 3rd talk. Here are a few quotes:

He glanced at his outline and made the point that of course ­Islam has its zealots, and he condemns them.

"But that's not what we're talking about," he said. "Because if you say, 'That's Islam,' then that's like me saying, 'Well, Christianity is David Kor­esh,' " he said, referring to the cult leader.


"So Islam is not what you see on TV, okay?" he said. "I know Fox News. It's not news. It's the WWF, okay? Don't use them as my spokesperson. When you say, 'These people are animals and we have to blow them up,' don't say, 'This is Islam.' It's not. And 99.9 percent of us will agree we need to condemn these people and it hurts us even more because they're saying that God said this? Muhammad said this? Never in a million years."


He began pacing a bit. People were listening.

"Do you guys know who the LRA is?" he said, referring to the Lord's Resistance Army, the cultish Ugandan rebel group blamed for the deaths of more than 100,000 people. "How many of you knew about that? I want you to raise your hands."

Two hands went up.

"How come you don't know about that?" Ayaz said.


He began talking about Trump's former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, who had referred to Islam as a "vicious cancer."

"There are 1.6 billion Muslims in the world! Now, according to General Flynn, we have to purge them? 'We have to purge the world of Islam!'" he said in a mocking voice.


He was far off his outline now.

"You can sense I'm angry about that," he said. "Wasn't Jesus angry when he went into the temple and knoc ked over the tables of the money changers? He was angry. Injustice should make us angry! Okay? I am angry about the election. Because there is injustice there, and I have felt that within my family. And with the burning of mosques? And something like 150 bomb threats to Jewish synagogues? We should think."
You can tell a lot about VIrji from these excerpts, but probably not what the WaPo reporter expects.

General Flynn did not call for eliminating Islam, he called for eliminating Islamists - the same radicals that Virji had already condemned.

The mosque burnings were not the product of hostile right-wingers. The bomb threats were from an Israeli and a liberal.

I looked up the Lord's Resistance Army. It is part of a civil war in Uganda. While it had a peak strength of as many as 3,000 ten years ago, it is currently rated as having been reduced to 100 members. Compare that with ISIS which had a peek strength of 50,000-200,000 and Al-Qeada with 72,000,92,000.

The KKK hasn't had any real power or support since the 1960s and has a membership somewhere in the 3,000-6,000 range (down from 6 million in the 1920s). The KKK was never a religious organization, either. It was purely an instrument of oppression.

So here's the thing: Dr. Virji repeats a lot of bad information while railing at Fox News for giving misinformation. He believes everything bad he hears about Donald Trump and his associates then projects his anger onto the townspeople around him. He is also overly defensive about Islam. The Lord's Resistance Army is in no way comparable to the Muslim terrorist groups, being both smaller and limited to Uganda. Americans haven't heard of it because it is one of thousands of militant groups that have never affected Americans. Dr. Virji knly knows about it because he went looking for militant Christian groups. The only reason for mentioning it and the KKK is a childish "you guys do it, too".

It's telling that Dr. Virji said that people started being distant to him after the election. What changed? The implication is that Trump's election was a signal to start avoiding Muslims but it is very possible that Dr. Virji himself was driving people away. The day after the election he shouted at the hospital staff. And he took the election personally. He cannot believe that the people around him could have had any valid reasons for voting for Trump. He sees the election as a direct insult.

"I think some people are coming from Dawson to be supportive," she offered.

"I know a way they could be supportive," he said, thinking once again of the vote.

"Maybe they are sorry," Musarrat said.

"Would be nice if they said it," Ayaz said. "I don't think they regret it."

So he wants the people of Dawson to apologize directly to him for their vote for president. And, by the way, he seems to be lumping in the 44% who voted for Clinton with the 56% who voted for Trump. Trump won the state so everyone is at fault.

The article implies that the town of Dawson became less accepting after the election but I have an alternate explanation. I suspect that it's a combination of Dr. Virji seeing slights where they don't exist and him driving people away. I'd certainly keep my distance from him after the angry rants the article described. How often has he told the people around him that they betrayed him and that he should quit his job and move? The article quotes him saying that twice.

The Washington Post reporter meant to show how a small town in America become less welcoming to a Muslim in the wake of the election but it really showed how the Muslim in question relies on questionable news sources to feed his sense of outrage then he projects that outrage against people who have done nothing to deserve it. And the Post is so caught up in their anti-Trump narrative that they don't see it themselves.