EppsNet Archive: Politics

Poll: Most Black Americans Don’t Want Confederate Statues Removed

22 Aug 2017 /

NPR and PBS News Hour conducted a poll asking whether statues “honoring leaders of the Confederacy” should “remain as a historical symbol” or “be removed because they are offensive to some people.”

Results by race:

White: 65 percent of respondents said the statues should stay, 25 percent said they should be taken down and 8 percent were unsure. (I know these numbers don’t sum to 100 percent but I’m taking them directly from the link above.)

Black: 44 percent stay, 40 percent remove, 11 percent unsure. (Same comment as previous.)

Latino: 65 percent stay, 24 percent remove, 11 percent unsure.

The media, which according to a Harvard University study are very biased against Donald Trump, have been flogging him with this issue for the past week and a half, the thinking being that anyone who doesn’t support the removal of Confederate statues is a white supremacist, in which case 75 percent of white Americans are white supremacists, as are 60 percent of our black citizens and 76 percent of Latinos.

Confederate General Thomas

Confederate General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson


No Political Violence on the Left?

20 Aug 2017 /

I’m still shaking my head on this one:

https://twitter.com/charlesmurray/status/899240201532448768?t=1&cn=ZmxleGlibGVfcmVjcw%3D%3D&refsrc=email&iid=77f9160ca4fa4b6aa987bb96570d37b3&uid=15906468&nid=244+285282305

Even left-wing stalwarts like The Atlantic know that the Post’s “no violence on the left” premise is bogus:

https://twitter.com/charlesmurray/status/899240201532448768?t=1&cn=ZmxleGlibGVfcmVjcw%3D%3D&refsrc=email&iid=77f9160ca4fa4b6aa987bb96570d37b3&uid=15906468&nid=244+285282305

Look how peaceful and non-violent everyone is in the Post photo.

Contrast that with, for example, these protesters at Berkeley earlier this year:

Milo 'protesters' at Berkeley

Milo 'protesters' at Berkeley

I’m drawn to Berkeley examples because our son went to Berkeley and still lives in the area, because I know some current Berkeley students, and because Berkeley, ironically, used to be synonymous with the Free Speech Movement.

The photos above show the protesters who showed up to violently shut down a scheduled talk by Milo Yiannopoulos, but the same thing seems to happen whenever any university schedules a conservative speaker.

Here are a couple more left-wing protests, in Chicago and Charlottesville:

More Dead Cops

We could go on and on with this . . . we’ve all seen this before so I don’t know who the target audience is for the Post’s “no violence on the left” argument.

And of course Steve Scalise couldn’t be reached for comment because he’s still in inpatient rehabilitation after being shot by a Bernie Sanders supporter a couple of months ago.

It looks to me like there’s plenty of bigotry, intolerance and hatred at both ends of the political spectrum.

The Post’s argument seems to be that while left-wing violence is the work of outsiders and lone nuts, militia culture and violent resistance on the right exists “on unprecedented scales.” The best examples the Post was able to come up with are Ruby Ridge, the Oklahoma City bombing, and the Dylann Roof murders in Charleston, two of which happened 20+ years ago and all of which involved one guy, or one guy and an accomplice, or one guy and his family.

Ruby Ridge was a “we thought they were up to something so we had to kill them” government siege and Randy Weaver was not convicted of anything except missing his original court date and a bail violation.

Do those examples indicate organized right-wing violence “on unprecedented scales”? I’d say no, but make up your own mind.

The Post concedes that “occasionally violent groups” such as Antifa are “worrisome,” which sounds like a word my grandmother would have used. But these groups are “loosely banded, disorganized and low scale . . . incomparable to the scope and breadth of organized violence demonstrated by the extreme right.”

Such as?

“Organized militias that are well armed, well trained and well networked” and “armed to the teeth.”

I don’t know what sort of data the Post combed through to come up with that rigorous characterization (“armed to the teeth”?), but I’ve never seen an estimate of more than 10,000 active white supremacists in a country of 320 million people. We’re talking about an insignificant number of confused, poorly organized losers.

As an example of what a well-trained, armed to the teeth, organized militia can accomplish, the Post cites last year’s armed standoff at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon.

The result of that was one militant killed, one militant wounded and 27 militants arrested and indicted. I hate to think what a disorganized, poorly trained militia could have done.


10 Reasons That NY Times Chart Might Not Mean What You Think It Means

14 Aug 2017 /

From the New York Times:

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/08/07/opinion/leonhardt-income-inequality.html
  1. Money is not the only metric for measuring life outcomes. Charts and articles like this seem to reflect an inappropriate obsession with narrowly materialist values.
  2. If you do want to measure your life with money, it looks like the 99th percentile is where you want to be. Why aren’t you there? Why aren’t you a CEO? Why aren’t you making a million a year? If you can’t figure out how to get there, don’t begrudge the people who did figure it out. If you don’t have the education, motivation, intelligence or skills to get there, don’t begrudge those who do.
  3. The amount of wealth is not a fixed amount. It’s not a zero-sum game. If it were, it would be concerning that a few people are very wealthy. But it isn’t.
  4. The distribution of income has to be skewed to the right because income is bounded on the low end by zero but not limited on the upside.
  5. If you can’t imagine why income inequality exists, consider that 25 percent of Americans think the sun goes around the earth.
  6. If you can’t imagine why income inequality exists, consider that half the residents of Detroit can’t read.
  7. People who get upset at the realization that some other people have more than they do make excellent targets for politicians who promise, in return for your vote, to rob the people you envy.
  8. Winners may have more money but losers get more hugs.
  9. I see a lot of articles about income inequality but I don’t meet a lot of ordinary Americans who are concerned about it.
  10. There seems to be a confusion of cause and effect. Did income rise the fastest for people in the top one percent or did people get into the top one percent because their income rose the fastest? If that isn’t clear, consider an example: Did Mark Zuckerberg’s income go way up because he was on the right side of that chart or is he on the right side of the chart because his income went way up?

Identity Politics = Liberal Suicide?

13 Aug 2017 /

Mark Lilla is professor of the humanities at Columbia University. He’s got a book coming out, The Once and Future Liberal: After Identity Politics.

As you might have surmised from his job title, Lilla is a liberal himself. His concern is “the divisive, zero-sum world of identity politics” and its negative effect on liberalism in America.

Here’s an excerpt of an excerpt published in the Wall Street Journal:

As a teacher, I am increasingly struck by a difference between my conservative and progressive students. Contrary to the stereotype, the conservatives are far more likely to connect their engagements to a set of political ideas and principles. Young people on the left are much more inclined to say that they are engaged in politics as an X, concerned about other Xs and those issues touching on X-ness. And they are less and less comfortable with debate.

Over the past decade a new, and very revealing, locution has drifted from our universities into the media mainstream: Speaking as an X… This is not an anodyne phrase. It sets up a wall against any questions that come from a non-X perspective. Classroom conversations that once might have begun, I think A, and here is my argument, now take the form, Speaking as an X, I am offended that you claim B. What replaces argument, then, are taboos against unfamiliar ideas and contrary opinions. . . .

The politics of identity has done nothing but strengthen the grip of the American right on our institutions. It is the gift that keeps on taking. Now is the time for liberals to do an immediate about-face and return to articulating their core principles of solidarity and equal protection for all. Never has the country needed it more.


One Thing I Can’t Tolerate is Intolerance: The Google Memo

8 Aug 2017 /

The now-famous Google memo was first published by Gizmodo under the headline Here’s The Full 10-Page Anti-Diversity Screed Circulating Internally at Google.

If you’re interested in the topic, you should read the memo yourself, otherwise you’re going to get a terribly slanted second-hand judgment, e.g., “anti-diversity screed.” I’ve read it and I don’t think it’s “anti-diversity” and it’s definitely not what I’d call a screed.

I’ve seen that word — screed — used by multiple sources. That’s one way of dismissing and declining to engage with an opinion you don’t like: give it a label like “screed,” suggesting that the author is angry and irrational and not fit to have a discussion with.

In my reading though, I found the original memo to be academic and clinical, much less screed-like than the responses I’ve seen.

As usual (in my experience), the most intolerant people in the mix are the ones presenting themselves as champions of tolerance, diversity, acceptance and mutual respect. They love people of all genders, skin color, hair color, eye color, etc., but they have no tolerance at all for anyone who doesn’t think exactly the way they do.

If you have an opinion that doesn’t fit the preferred narrative, you are harmful and stupid, you shouldn’t be allowed to hold a job and you shouldn’t feel safe in giving voice to your opinions.

The argument against expressing an opinion like the author of the Google memo is, as I understand it, that it’s considered hostile and unwelcoming to women who might want to work in the field of technology.

Google chief executive Sundar Pichai said in firing the memo author: “The memo has clearly impacted our co-workers, some of whom are hurting and feel judged based on their gender.”

If it’s hurtful to judge people based on their “gender,” why isn’t it hurtful to say that the percentage of males working in technology is unacceptably high and should be reduced? (I know nobody says it that way. They say “increase the percentage of women” but it’s the same thing.)

Why isn’t it hurtful to implement policies to reduce the percentage of males working in technology? Why isn’t it hurtful to hire “diversity” personnel whose job it is to reduce the percentage of males in technology?.

Depending on which groups you’re in, you’re either not allowed to be discouraged by anything or you’re entitled to be demoralized by absolutely everything.

Thus spoke The Programmer.

Related link: Where are the additional women in technology supposed to come from?

 

Irony alert

“By ‘diverse mix of voices,’ we mean non-white females. Look at the picture. Oh, you thought it meant a diversity of opinions?! Well, in that case, you’re fired.”

 

TL;DR from Google memo

  • Google’s political bias has equated the freedom from offense with psychological safety, but shaming into silence is the antithesis of psychological safety.
  • This silencing has created an ideological echo chamber where some ideas are too sacred to be honestly discussed.
  • The lack of discussion fosters the most extreme and authoritarian elements of this ideology.
  • Extreme: all disparities in representation are due to oppression
  • Authoritarian: we should discriminate to correct for this oppression
  • Differences in distributions of traits between men and women may in part explain why we don’t have 50% representation of women in tech and leadership. Discrimination to reach equal representation is unfair, divisive, and bad for business.

They’re the Oppressors Now

10 Jun 2017 /

The Washington Post has an update on Brian Talbert, a gay man denied entry to the Charlotte Pride Parade because he voted for Donald Trump:

Talbert — a 47-year-old North Carolina native — said he was one of about 50 people who attended the first pride parade in Charlotte in 1994. He recalled that Christian demonstrators threw rocks and bottles at the marchers and that someone spit in his face. More than two decades later, he said, the discrimination continues — but this time it’s being directed at him by the gay community.

Talbert said he feels betrayed because it shouldn’t matter who you vote for.

“I want them to realize that they’re doing the exact same thing they say bigoted people are doing to them — they’re the oppressors now,” he said. “It’s disgusting, and every gay person in America should feel ashamed.”


One Thing I Can’t Tolerate is Intolerance: Gays for Trump Edition

8 Jun 2017 /
http://www.fox5ny.com/news/259656209-story

Well, so much for acceptance and tolerance . . .

The banned group is called Gays for Trump. Brian Talbert, a member of the group, said, “It was going to be fun. We wanted to be energetic. We wanted to show that we weren’t the racist, bigot, misogynistic . . . We wanted to show that we are Americans, love our country and our president. We wanted to be there to celebrate gay pride. Everything fell into place except being able to celebrate who I am.”

Where that strategy fails is that showing Trump supporters are not anti-gay, racist, bigots, misogynists, etc., is not part of the mainstream gay agenda. Quite the opposite. The agenda is to keep that stereotype alive and keep those labels in play.

“For a group of people to claim to want tolerance, acceptance, and give it to every single person you can imagine to give it to, for them to sit back and judge me for exercising my right as an American to choose my leader without judgment is hypocritical,” Talbert said, stating the extremely obvious.

A spokesperson for the Charlotte Pride organization said in written statement:

“Charlotte Pride envisions a world in which LGBTQ people are affirmed, respected and included in the full social and civic life of their local communities, free from fear of any discrimination, rejection, and prejudice.”

Unless they happen to be Trump voters, in which case take a hike . . .


Big Losers

27 May 2017 /

I saw this headline on an AP story today — Poor and disabled big losers in Trump budget.

The story includes a photo of the budget (see below), so I think it’s safe to say that the AP writer didn’t read the entire thing before announcing who the “big losers” are. He’s just flogging his own agenda. (See also Harvard Study Says Media Are Very Biased Against Donald Trump)

2018 budget

“Trump’s plan for the budget year beginning Oct. 1 makes deep cuts in safety net programs . . .” the story says.

What’s the difference between a “cut” and a “deep cut”? The latter sounds mean and scary. Why not just say something factual like “10 percent cut” or “50 percent cut” and let readers put their own characterization on it?

“Safety net programs” is also a loaded expression.

“Trump’s budget would cut the food stamp program by $191 billion over the next decade.” OK, there’s a factual assertion. But the government doesn’t use zero-based budgeting, in which each year’s budget starts at zero and all expenses must be justified for each new period. Government budgeting calls for incremental increases over previous budgets.

For example, if the cost of Program X is budgeted to increase 10 percent per year, and we “cut” it by 5 percent, the cost still goes up 5 percent. We can have budget cuts and more spending at the same time.

So “Trump’s budget would cut the food stamp program by $191 billion over the next decade” actually means something like — I don’t know the actual numbers, but something like “The cost of the food stamp program would have gone up by $800 billion over the next decade but because of the $191 billion ‘cut,’ it will only go up by $609 billion.”

Also — numbers in a federal budget look really big because the US is a big country with a lot of people — 320 million. If you wanted to give every person in the country 5 dollars, you’d need to have more than $1.5 billion on hand to do it.

A small number — 5 bucks — becomes a big number — $1.5 billion — when you project it to a national scale.

Food stamp costs of $191 billion over a decade comes to $19 billion per year. How many people receive food stamps? About 45 million. So $191 billion is only about $400 per person per year.

I saw Elizabeth Warren on YouTube emoting about the budget: Blah blah blah Donald Trump blah blah blah Betsy DeVos blah blah blah …

I could be wrong but I don’t think Elizabeth Warren or fans of Elizabeth Warren really care about people on food stamps, at least not enough to help out of their own pockets. I think they care about having the power to deem things worthy and then make other people pay for them.

Elizabeth Warren didn’t say “I am personally contributing $400 per year and I want all of you who are as outraged about this as I am to contribute $400 per year to make up the difference in the food stamp budget.” What would happen if she did?


Harvard Study Says Media Are Very Biased Against Donald Trump

23 May 2017 /

According to a Harvard University study, the mainstream media are very biased against Donald Trump.

Here’s a chart from the study, showing that the tone of some news outlets is negative in as many as 98% of reports:

Tone of Trump news coverage

I’ve noticed that even our local news station is about 90-10 negative on Trump coverage.

We have to look at the way the media handled Trump before he was elected. How many newspapers in the entire country endorsed Trump for president? I don’t think the number is zero but it has to be very close to zero.

Some newspapers — The Washington Post and New York Times come to mind — were virulently anti-Trump on the editorial page, which bled over into the news coverage.

Every news network except Fox was anti-Trump, the only positive news being that he was most definitely not going to be elected. Well, actually it was that he was definitely not going to be the Republican nominee, and then that he was definitely not going to be president.

The Huffington Post refused to cover Trump at all as part of its political reporting. All Trump news was published in the entertainment section.

And then he was elected president!

So everyone in the media had to either a) recalibrate their self-image from “We are super smart people who knew in advance that Trump would never be president” to “We are the dumbest people in the universe,” or b) commit to spending the next four years (at least) finding ways to say “we told you so,” e.g. “We told you he was a monster,” “We told you he was a moron,” We told you he was crazy,” etc.

Here’s a chart showing the tone of Trump coverage compared to other recent presidents:

Tone of Trump coverage

The media are setting a new standard for unfavorable press coverage of a president. No president in recent history is even close. Note that the media were mostly cheerleaders for President Obama.


Why Should Men (or Women) Have to Pay for Prenatal Coverage?

10 Mar 2017 /

Illinois rep asks why men should have to pay for prenatal coverageLA Times

Evidently the LAT thinks this a hopelessly stupid question, but why? ObamaCare requires that all health plans cover pregnancy and childbirth, even though pregnancy and childbirth insurance is expensive and many people (including women) don’t need or want it.

Why is a man or woman not afforded the option to buy a less expensive health plan without pregnancy and childbirth coverage? Why is that not an option?

Even though the LAT frames the issue as a stupid question asked by a stupid white male, why should women in their 50s or 60s or 70s be paying for pregnancy and childbirth insurance? Or women of any age if they don’t want it?

Why is this law restricting our options and forcing people to pay for expensive things that they don’t need or want?


Nothing Can Bring You Peace But Yourself

3 Mar 2017 /
Ralph Waldo Emerson

A political victory, a rise of rents, the recovery of your sick, or the return of your absent friend, or some other favorable event, raises your spirits, and you think good days are preparing for you. Do not believe it. Nothing can bring you peace but yourself.

— Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Self-Reliance”

One Thing We Can All Agree Upon

23 Jan 2017 /

I don’t know if the Trump inauguration was the most watched in history but I know it was watched by more people than the Hillary Clinton inauguration . . .


One Thing I Think We Can All Agree Upon

19 Jan 2017 /
Hillary Clinton

Thank God Almighty this woman is not going to be the next president of the United States.

Even if you don’t like Trump, even if you don’t believe in God, thank God Almighty this woman is not going to be the next president of the United States.


Strong Opinions on Betsy DeVos

18 Jan 2017 /

I’m seeing on Facebook that a lot of people have strong (negative) opinions today about Betsy DeVos, who has been nominated as Secretary of Education, despite the fact that 99.9 percent of them had never heard of Betsy DeVos until about five minutes ago.

Why do people suddenly have a strong opinion about someone they’ve never heard of? How is this possible?

Because they’ve been instructed to have a strong opinion about Betsy DeVos in order to be consistent with the image that they have of themselves and the groups they want to fit in with.

BTW I have no opinion about Betsy DeVos at the moment because I had never heard of her until about five minutes ago . . .

Betsy DeVos


That Was Then, This Is Now

12 Dec 2016 /

That was then:

Top Republicans must reject the ridiculous notion that a national election can be ‘rigged.’

New York Times editorial, Oct. 18, 2016

This is now:

[President-elect] Trump should be leading the call for a thorough investigation, since it would be the only way to remove this darkening cloud from his presidency. Failing to resolve the questions about Russia would feed suspicion among millions of Americans that a dominant theme of his candidacy turned out to be true: The election was indeed rigged.

New York Times editorial, Dec. 11, 2016

What Would You Charge for an EpiPen?

29 Aug 2016 /
EpiPen

I don’t mean hypothetically, I mean I literally want to buy an EpiPen from you right now. My kid got stung by a bee, his face is swelling up like a balloon and his lungs are about to shut down.

I see a lot of people are mad at Mylan for charging $600 for EpiPens but they don’t seem to be mad at everyone else in the world who won’t sell them an EpiPen at all.

Not to mention, $600 for a life-saving treatment seems like a pretty good bargain to me.

Hillary Clinton has called for reducing the price of EpiPens. Hillary Clinton has never lifted a finger in a productive enterprise in her life. She will not sell you an EpiPen no matter how much you want or need one.

If the amoral profiteers at Mylan have an obligation to sell cheap EpiPens, why doesn’t Hillary Clinton? Why don’t you?


On-Again, Off-Again Respect for Grieving Parents

2 Aug 2016 /

Hey, remember when the first night of the Republican convention featured Patricia Smith, mother of Sean Smith, one of the Americans slain in Benghazi? Remember how her speech was called a “cynical exploitation of grief”? Or the “unabashed exploitation of private people’s grief” or “the weaponization of grief”? Remember how she “ruined the evening”? How it was,  “a spectacle so offensive, it was hard to even comprehend”? How some liberal commentators said, “Mrs. Smith was really most interested in drinking blood rather than healing”? How her speech represented an “early dip into the gutter”? Remember how a GQ writer publicly expressed a desire to beat her to death?


More People I’m Sick Unto Death Of

1 Aug 2016 /

Is anyone else sick of paying for an ever-expanding army of bureaucrats to meddle in their lives? Or is it just me?


Jill Stein on Leaked DNC Emails

26 Jul 2016 /

The leaked DNC emails are the smoking gun that the Democratic establishment was rigging the game against Bernie the whole time. Instead of running the process impartially and letting the voters decide, top Democratic officials were doing all they could to ensure a Clinton victory, including collusion with journalists to present a pro-Clinton, anti-Sanders narrative.

You want to affirm a corrupt party that just dragged you across the coals? You expect your supporters, who have a vision and who voted for integrity, to follow you into this shithole? Is there no respect here for his campaign and for himself? Are they just going to pretend it didn’t happen?

I think it would be very hard for a self-respecting Sanders supporter, in light of these revelations, to take the beating and humiliate themselves and disrespect themselves, to go into the campaign and support the predator who destroyed them.

How is Hillary Clinton going to hold a candle to Donald Trump? Not only does this destroy the unification efforts within the Democrats, but this destroys Hillary’s ability to portray herself as trustworthy to the American public. They already don’t trust her.


In Politics, An Honest Man Does Not Get Rich

17 Jul 2016 /
Sam Rayburn

I have been unable to save much money in my life. I have been in politics, and in politics an honest man does not get rich.

That’s not true, there are LOTS of rich politicians. Oh wait . . .

[Sam Rayburn was one of the most powerful American politicians of the 20th century. He served as the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives for 17 years, the longest tenure in U.S. history. His savings at his death totaled $ 15,000.]


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