Friday, September 30, 2016

A biased and misinformed "moderator"

Debate moderator Lester Holt’s claim that the New York Police Department’s “stop and frisk” practice was declared unconstitutional because it was racist, an assertion seconded by Hillary Clinton, was more evidence that Holt was heavily biased toward Clinton. The actual facts surrounding the case against “stop and frisk” are these: In the 1968 Terry v. Ohio case, an 8-1 Supreme Court ruling upheld as constitutional law enforcement’s practice of stopping and frisking individuals who they deemed reasonably suspicious. This law has never been overturned and is practiced by police departments across the country to this today.

Holt’s reference to it being declared unconstitutional is based upon a ruling by federal Judge Shira Scheindlin, who ruled in 2013 that the NYPD’s application of the law was racially biased and therefore unconstitutional. Judge Scheindlin was later removed from the case under allegations of her own bias against police — just as Donald Trump correctly noted Monday night. It has been argued that Scheindlin’s ruling would have been overturned based on the circumstances surrounding the case, had then-newly elected mayor Bill de Blasio chosen to pursue it. The judge’s ruling was not concerned with the constitutionality of “stop and frisk” in general, but the specific manner in which it was applied in New York City. Holt completely misrepresented the case in order to challenge Trump’s statements on law and order. Clearly, Trump was correct and Holt was wrong.

The nuances of political gamesmanship are something the Leftmedia has become very adept at applying. It’s always a good practice to apply a healthy level of skepticism to any political claim, especially if the claims are made by the mainstream media.



Narrative-Building Has Become a Political Obsession

Jonah Goldberg
The most exhausting thing about our politics these days — other than the never-ending presidential election itself — is the obsession with “shaping the narrative.” By that I mean the effort to connect the dots between a selective number of facts and statistics to support one storyline about the state of the union.

Narrative-building is essential for almost every complicated argument because it’s the only way to get our pattern-seeking brains to discount contradictory facts and data. Trial lawyers understand this implicitly. Get the jury to buy the story, and they’ll do the heavy lifting of arranging the facts in just the right way.

President Obama understands this too. Just consider the way he talks about terrorism — often reassuring Americans that they’re more likely to die in a bathtub accident than in a terror attack.

And he’s right. On the other hand, bathtubs aren’t trying to get nuclear weapons. Nor are bathtubs destabilizing the Middle East (often killing massive numbers of non-Americans) or otherwise plotting to conquer the world.

Obama’s goal is obvious. He wants the story of terrorism to lose its potency and recede from our politics. Secretary of State John Kerry recently suggested as much when he said, “Perhaps the media would do us all a service if they didn’t cover [terrorism] quite as much. People wouldn’t know what’s going on.”

This mindset helps explain the now-familiar pattern whereby the Obama administration responds to a terror attack by slow-walking acknowledgement of reality. First there is the reluctance to call it terrorism, then the reluctance to call it Islamic terrorism, and finally the reluctance to admit that it was plotted or inspired in any way by the Islamic State or al-Qaida. Lone wolves are the new fallback, because they are self-radicalized and hence not part of some larger challenge — or story.

One problem with this effort to so aggressively edit the terrorism narrative in real time is that it sows skepticism about the truthfulness of our political leaders.

Another is that it inadvertently fuels a story that the Obama administration, like the Bush administration before it, rightly wants to downplay: that Islam itself is the problem. If all of these “homegrown” “lone wolves” are “self-radicalizing” — without aid or assistance from foreign powers — you can see why some people might conclude that Islam itself is the source of extremism.

Republicans are hardly immune to the temptation to drive a storyline ahead of the facts. Donald Trump says our country is a “divided crime scene” and that African-American “communities are absolutely in the worst shape that they’ve ever been in before. Ever. Ever. Ever.”

This storyline, never mind this paragraph, desperately needs an editor.

But so does the tale of an “epidemic” of police “hunting” unarmed black men — in the words of some activists.

There’s no disputing that the unwarranted use of deadly force by police is a legitimate concern. But the narrative — increasingly pushed by Hillary Clinton in an effort to rev up African-American voters — that it is open season on black men not only does a disservice to the police, it also makes it harder to put the problem in perspective.

What might perspective entail? It happens to be true that young black men are more likely to die in domestic accidents than at the hands of the police. Of course, if a politician said that, liberals would attack him or her for minimizing the issue — just like conservatives attack Obama for his bathtub comments.

The anger wouldn’t be over the veracity of the claim, but the attempt to dilute the narrative.

I’m not naive. Crafting stories to serve political purposes is as old as politics itself. But the problem seems to be getting worse.

Perhaps it’s because our country is so polarized and our media environment so balkanized and instantaneous. Politicians and journalists alike feel compelled to make facts serve some larger tale in every utterance.

The reality is that life is complicated and every well-crafted narrative leaves out important facts.



Clinton Promises Malaise in the Name of 'Fairness'

A look at Hillary's plan for taxes and the economy

Hillary Clinton used a fair portion of her awful debate appearance Monday to sell America on her economic vision. Though she framed taxes as the typical leftist issue of “fairness,” whether or not she openly admitted she is going to raise taxes on the middle class, her plans for this country’s fiscal future mean dark days for everyone.

It’s not as if we’re in a robust economy right now. The Census Bureau would have us believe that we’re in good shape. After all, median household income rose 5.2% in 2015, the first jump since 2007, and the biggest since 1968. That should be good news, but it’s really just manufactured good news.

The Census Bureau changed its reporting methods to measure income, the result being that reported income actually appears more than actual income. And in time for election season, too. What a coincidence. This explains the supposedly mysterious question as to why Americans are making more money but don’t feel like they are getting ahead. Answer: they are not making more money.

This gimmick, along with the economic fantasies being spun by Barack Obama to shore up his legacy and put Clinton in the White House, have the electorate confused. That’s just how the Left wants it.

That is also why Monday night’s debate moderator Lester Holt was able to get away with his opening statement: “There are two economic realities in America today. There’s been a record six straight years of job growth, and new census numbers show incomes have increased at a record rate after years of stagnation. However, income inequality remains significant, and nearly half of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck.”

The very premise was part White House press release, part Bernie Sanders stump speech.

Clinton also trotted out the usual lie that George W. Bush’s tax cuts “for the wealthy” caused the recession. That’s baloney. First of all, Bush’s tax cuts were for everyone, not just the wealthy. Second, and more important, it was Hillary’s husband who set the stage for the financial crisis with his home lending policies.

As for Clinton’s tax plan, there should be no confusion about its true nature. She spoke wistfully Monday night about the great 1990s when “Bill” was president. And there were some good economic years during that period. The trouble is she isn’t going to come remotely close to achieving those budget surpluses and strong business and investment sector with the policies she wants to implement or expand.

On the contrary, Clinton doesn’t even consider capping the growth of federal budget deficits, and calls for $1.8 trillion in new taxes to fund new projects. She isn’t looking to rein in the size of the government as Republican policies of 1990s did. She wants to push the federal government into more areas of our daily lives while refusing entitlement reform and spending cuts, and our reward will be to pay through the nose for it.

Hillary is nothing if not thorough in her tax plan. No one will be spared. Sure, the $350 billion income tax hike and the $275 business tax hike are meant to target the top earners, as is a $400 billion “fairness” tax, which is about as arbitrary a tax as one might conceive.

Clinton calls to raise the capital gains tax (which millions of middle class Americans pay), taxes on stock trading, and implement an “exit tax” on income earned overseas. And she wants a 65% death tax for the largest estates, with jacked up rates for estates that fall into lower income categories. This would crush small businesses that even she admitted Monday create most of the jobs in America.

The problem with all these taxes is that they will stifle growth. Donald Trump spoke frequently Monday night about how American business is in apocalyptic shape. Clinton just shook her head and smiled. But that’s all she could do. She’s never worked in the private sector, so she cannot truly relate to what a majority of American taxpayers are experiencing. After all, she just funnels her income into the Clinton Foundation.

It makes perfect sense that Clinton is the Democrat nominee for president. She is the poster child for statist, centralized policies in which every citizen really works to fund the government so that it can become larger and more intrusive. And her central message Monday was that the government under her direction will spend your money better than you will. She says her tax policies will help our economy. What she really wants to do is continue the transformation of America that Obama started.



Lessons From Norway's Refugee Policy

With much of western Europe mired in a mostly self-inflicted migration crisis due to their liberal open-door policies, one country stands out for its decidedly non-politically correct policies on immigration. In 2015 Norway adopted an immigration policy it termed “strict but fair.” Since Norway is not a member of the European Union, it was not obligated to accept any refugees, however it elected to accept 8,000 migrants, but on its own conditions. Norway’s primary concern was to prevent uncontrolled migration. Similar to Donald Trump’s reasoning in his call to limit immigration, Norway’s government understood that its first obligation was to Norwegians, as any immigrants that were to be accepted would need to be carefully vetted along clear guidelines that would both prevent economic strain and preserve distinct Norwegian cultural and character.

Sweden, the country to the immediate east of Norway, took a much more liberal open-door approach, welcoming in well over 280,000 migrants since 2013. Sweden’s radical policy has proved to be untenable and increasingly unpopular with Swedes, which has given popular rise to the Sweden Democrats, a controversial immigration-restrictionist party that more than doubled its presence in the nation’s 2014 election, becoming the country’s third largest party. As public dissatisfaction continued to grow and the cost for migrant services swelled to 7% of the 2016 budget, the Swedish government finally enacted laws to impose border controls. With the lack of immigrant vetting and assimilation, the social impact upon Sweden is yet to be fully realized.

Norway’s Norwegian-first policy in regards to immigration is the fairest both to its own citizens, but also to those refugees who are genuinely seeking refuge and help assimilating into a new and better life.



For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated),  a Coral reef compendium and an IQ compendium. (Both updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten. I also put up occasional updates on my Personal blog and each day I gather together my most substantial current writings on A WESTERN HEART.

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