Tag: Conservatives

Hypothesis testing about the 2016 elections

As a political scientist, there’s nothing like testing theories. One of the prevalent theory is that in a Western liberal democracy, to win a general election, you have to be the closest candidate to the center. Ever since Reagan won over, with the Democrats flocking towards him, and Thatcher did the same in UK, it has never been proved wrong.

Recently, these two new charts came to my notice, from YouGov.

Parties leaders left right spectrum-01

Tony Blair man of the people-01

Since Blair, Labour never won the election, because the Tory candidate was closest to the center.

2016, is a unique year, in both UK and US, and it is perhaps the golden opportunity to find out, if this hypothesis is true. Corbyn is hard left and Trump is hard right. According to this hypothesis, they will never win, and in this case the candidates closer to center, Hillary Clinton in US, and Theresa May in UK will sweep the polls.

We shall find out if that theory is universally true.

Excited?

Barry crashes the Brexit party!

So, this happened.

3fa2ebac-c1d6-416f-a86c-d643be1b2e2d

If you’re living under the rock (or you’re American) then you probably don’t know that UK is heading for a Brexit vote in a month, a situation, where ideologies are blurred and a civil war is raging.

In that moment, enter Barack Obama with the casual Chicago game. Now, say what you may about this guy, or his politics, but one has to admit, he is perhaps the greatest and the most gifted extempore speaker of his generation. Well, maybe Bill Clinton, at his prime, not at his diminished stage like now, was better than Barry. But anyway, he changed the game, in a way David Cameron couldn’t have imagined, and the backlash from the “out” camp was severe. Socialists were livid that an American President is dictating another country how they should vote. Rebel Conservatives and ultra-right wingers are livid as well.

Some of them do have a point. Without going into the merits of BREXIT, it is unbelievable to think any country, or even the British PM urging Americans to sign and ratify UNCLOS, or form a borderless union with Mexico and Canada, or join AIIB led by China. Not going to happen. Ever.

Also, curiously, this campaign has divided the left. I mean, by definition, if you’re a red-blooded Marxist, you should be against a free trade espousing, neoliberal, hegemonic union, which dictates economic policies of small countries, crushes left movements like Greece, and throws its military weight around, right? 

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Why I will never vote for Trump #NeverTrump

My name is Marybeth Glenn, and I go by the handle @MBGlenn on Twitter, and I’m also the sarcastic mind behind the The Collision Blog. I was obsessed with writing and American history by the time I was 10, so political involvement naturally followed. I’m a small government conservative who refuses to be fed my opinions by the media talking heads, and I think this world would be a much better place if we all laughed a little more, researched a lot more, and stood by our principles – regardless of their popularity.

Which brings me to the reason for this post: I will never vote for Donald Trump.I have various reasons to oppose a Trump presidency, but first and foremost would be the preservation of conservative heritage. We are the movement that fought slavery, championed equal rights, and stood with minorities for civil rights. We are the movement of compassion, decency, and inclusion. I will not be an obsequious accomplice to the overhaul of every principle that gives this movement worth. Trump stands for anger, bitterness, and the disregard of minorities, women and ethical conservatism.

To stand by and allow his rise, or vote for such ideology out of desperation, would be to aid in ordering the assassination of our moral compass.

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Beyonce, Iraq, and conservative political correctness

Conservatives have a tendency to associate “political correctness” with liberalism. That is a mistake, because doing so would politicize the term. Critics of political correctness shouldn’t discriminate when opposing PC.

What would you call an incident where someone made a speech expression and then that person’s critics expressed unreasonably emotional outrage, twisted the facts, and then tried to boycott that person? When Rush Limbaugh tried to buy the NFL’s Rams as part of an ownership group and was forced to drop out after a campaign that involved Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton argued that views he had expressed were too racist (some of which were fake quotes, which CNN apologized for). Limbaugh attributed it at the time to “political correctness.”

Now go back to the NFL and there is currently another outrage-induced racial controversy going on. Only this time, it’s conservatives who are outraged and calling for a boycott.

Beyonce and Black Panthers

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Clock Kid and the jumping the gun in the outrage cycle

We got played. Liberals got played. Obama really got played by agreeing to meet with the Clock Kid and then having him announce the next day: I’m moving to Qatar. With so many fake news stories feeding conspiracy theories about him, he doesn’t need to help manufacture stories.

And I got played. I admit I was conned into writing a story about Clock Boy Ahmed right when it was in the news in September.

I stand by much of what I wrote–that just like the “Poptart Gun Kid”, neither should the Clock Kid have been punished for something that clearly wasn’t a weapon. But with all the unhinged attention focused on Clock Kid I should have known something was up.

Indeed, as I wrote at the end of the article:

Now there might be some truth to the arguments noted by Allahpundit at HotAir.com that liberals really exploded in disproportionate fashion over this particular story. In fact, that President Obama tweeted about it and that CAIR started a “hold up actual clocks” (as opposed to the refashioned-digital-clock-parts-inside-a-pencil-case style favored by the student) Twitter campaign shows that it might also be an example of Twitter outrage culture gone crazy.

So be it. But the headlines–on both sides–should put the actions first and put the identity of the subject in the text of the story.

Well, now Clock Kid’s family announced they are moving to Qatar, which I hope–but sadly don’t expect–means we won’t have to hear about him ever again. So much for the talking point that they are just a moderate Muslim family of would-be scientists. Bill Maher already took apart part of the claim by noting “He didn’t invent anything!”

He took the guts out of a clock radio that he bought in the store and then put it in a pencil box. Okay, this is like pouring Cheerios into a bowl and saying you invented cereal.

So now Clock Kid is moving away from a high school that suspended him to live in a country treats all of its citizens like high school students with no rights. “Leggings are not pants,” Qatar’s tourism authorities tell visitors. Their government is like one big hall monitor.

Moreover, Qatar will also have you arrested for “blasphemy,” for drinking alcohol, certainly for drawing certain cartoons, and for writing poetry considered critical of the ruling family. That’s before we even get into how great their labor protections are for the indentured servants slaves working on their World Cup stadium.

According to the International Humanist and Ethical Union,

The USA raised the 15-year sentence against poet Mohammed al-Ajami for a poem considered critical of the ruling family[3]. This case exemplifies the deeply worrying situation for freedom of expression in the country. Qatar’s defense during the UPR that Mr al-Ajami’s trial was a fair one[4] addresses only his rights in the context of the justice system and not his primary right to freedom of expression.
Whilst we note a number of states’ commendations when it comes to empowering women in Qatar, we remain deeply concerned at the overall situation for women. For example, provisions of Qatari law entrench a marked inequality between women and men[5]. Marital rape is not defined as a crime[6]. Qatar maintains criminal sanctions against sexual activity between consenting same-sex adults, and extramarital sex is subject to corporal punishment[7].

So have fun in Qatar, Clock Kid. If you end up loving living in a country with such Sharia Law, then maybe the United States really isn’t for you.

And everyone who wrote about it unquestioningly and all the tech leaders who invited him to join their companies, own up to having jumped the gun. He probably won’t be the next Thomas Edison but at least he won’t be the next A.Q. Khan, either, not with the scientific ability he displayed.

Weekly reading list

Over the week, We decided that we will link to our publications as blog posts here, for the readers to decide on what subjects they wish to read up. Both Mitch and I write for various publications, so this is going to be a digest or links for our readers. I start this week…

  1. I delve into Russian gains and losses in Syria. There’s heavy analysis in media whether Russia is acting out of strength or weakness, but I conclude that’s a false choice…as we should be more careful in thinking on what Russia is looking to achieve in the first foreign intervention outside the Soviet sphere in a quarter of a century. The results are, somewhat mixed… Blessed Bombs
  2. I was covering the Conservative conference in Manchester, and I analyse that. The Tories are putting up a show of unity and confidence which I dispute.
  3. A short historical analysis on why Turkey is a unique country, and why it faces so much violence, in light of the terror attack in Ankara, the worst in the history of modern Turkey.

Happy reading!

The Contradictions of a Trump Supporter

The appeal of Donald Trump to Republicans remains baffling.

He’s leading in the early primary polls in a party that opposes socialized healthcare, despite praising socialized healthcare in the first debate. He’s a classless bully winning supporters who once called Obama a classless bully. He’s a billionaire who brags about using his ties to politicians to enrich himself who is hailed as a populist man of the people.

In order to try to understand why Trump supporters support Trump, I look to Trump’s PR outlet, Breitbart. It’s a website that, when a Buzzfeed journalist wrote an article that portrayed Trump honestly (and thus somewhat negatively), wrote a long article reciting Trump’s one-sided attack on the reporter, McKay Coppins.

The article by famous Breitbart writer Matthew Boyle attacks Coppins for allegedly doing things that Trump’s supporters cheer Trump for doing. Case in point:

Trump himself said Coppins is a “scumbag,” recalling that at his Florida resort, Coppins said he wished his wife looked like two beautiful women who had just walked by.

We know it is terrible to compliment women on their looks, since Trump is so politically correct.

But Trump himself complimented his own daughter on her looks in a creepy way:

“Yeah, she’s really something, and what a beauty, that one. If I weren’t happily married and, ya know, her father …”

Rolling Stone interview

Of course he also attacked his opponent Carly Fiorina for her looks:

“Look at that face!” he cries. “Would anyone vote for that? Can you imagine that, the face of our next president?!”

So we know that Trump and his supporters have no problem with men either complimenting or demeaning women for their looks. In the first debate, Trump famously defended his claims that various women were “fat” or “pigs,” calling it politically correct to keep one’s attacks on women focused on substantial reasons–and then he went on to attack moderator Megyn Kelly for having “blood coming out of her whatever.”

Breitbart’s John Nolte, who ranks Trump among his top five favorite candidates and has written positive things about Trump, thought it was “classless” when the Obama campaign released an Tumblr image extolling women to “Vote like your lady parts depend on it.”

So what did Nolte think when Trump referred to Kelly’s lady parts in a much more vulgar way?

Nolte has been supporting Trump and forwarding his attacks on Kelly since the debate:

If anything, debate co-moderator Megyn Kelly is taking on the most damaging post-debate water.

By fearlessly and relentlessly going after a very powerful journalist who works at a very powerful network who he believes treated him unfairly, Trump is sending a painfully obvious message to the rest of the mainstream media: If you don’t treat me fairly you will pay a price.

An article of summaries of 7 Trump tweets

So we know from this that Nolte has no problem with a politician viciously attacking reporters–particularly female reporters and Fox News. So what did he write when President Obama attacked Fox News?

He doesn’t see the opposition as loyal, but as bad players — his enemy. This is especially true of Fox News, which Obama ripped as anti-poor bigots during a Wednesday afternoon summit on poverty.

We’re used to this Obama, the forever-partisan who has never seen himself as president of all the people but only of those who worship him.

Yes, because who would support a demagogue whose followers worship him? Can anyone think of any presidential candidate like that???

Well, Obama is a narcissist with “creepy, narcissistic cult of personality merchandise” on his campaign site, per Nolte. In fact, Nolte even “violate[s] [the] U.S. flag code.”

If this were Mitt Romney putting his “R” logo in place of our stripes, the media would be in Armageddon mode right now over how egotistical the move is and how incompetent any campaign must be to sell something that so clearly violates the flag code of the United States.

I can only try to imagine the media hyperventilating over a campaign promo in the form of a flag. Why? Because it would probably never happen. Nolte and some other conservatives seemed to be the only ones outraged when a particular candidate did that. In a kind of reverse phenomenon, Scott Walker introduced the flag into his logo, and clearly and rightly didn’t get any flack for that. (He did get some flack from a company that thinks he copied their logo.)

The “imagine if a Republican did this” argument is a lazy one used too often by conservatives, because it lets the writer get off the hook from actually analyzing the issue at hand and instead analyzing imagined media bias that didn’t happen. One could look at an actual example that did happen and see if there was proportionate outrage.

For example, if a Republican candidate like Donald Trump put his own face into a portrayal of the American flag (along with Nazi troops), would John Nolte be just as outraged as he was by Obama?

Well, Nolte didn’t appear to write an article either way about that, which does indicate he wasn’t outraged enough when Trump did it to write an article but was outraged when Obama used the flag for his own promotion.

What does Nolte think about vicious, demeaning and mean-spirited comments meant to humiliate their targets? Well, he attacked Obama in 2012 for releasing “a vicious, demeaning, and mean-spirited ad meant to humiliate its target.”

Would calling people “losers,” “scumbags,” “pigs,” people who are bleeding from “wherever,” “loser and a village idiot” (about a farmer in Scotland standing in the way of Trump’s golf course development), a “dummy,” or “a guy that can’t buy a pair of pants” be considered “vicious, demeaning and mean-spirited” comments “meant to humiliate their targets”?

I have created this table to help summarize what is classy and what isn’t:

Classless Classy
Obama selling a campaign promo that uses Obama’s logo in the American flag. Trump tweeting an image of the American flag with his face in it and Nazi soldiers.
Obama issuing an image that says, “Vote like your lady parts depend on it.” Trump stating that Megyn Kelly was “bleeding from her eyes … bleeding from whereever.”
Obama selling a tee shirt that says, “Healthcare reform is still a BFD” [big fucking deal]. Anything Trump says.
Obama “disses” Vegas. Trump says, “Atlantic City is a disaster.”
Vegas tourist industry gets subsidies, benefits from government. Trump brags about how he contributes to politicians to get “something from them,” supports the government using eminent domain for his own private economic development, got a widow’s house bulldozed to build his own parking garage, and tried to get the government to prevent others from opening competing casinos.
Obama’s spokesman tells Fox News reporter not to take it personally when Obama attacks Fox News. Trump attacks Fox News, retweets their reporter being called a “bimbo,” calls conservative columnists “a dummy” and someone “who can’t buy a pair of pants”, among other things.
Politico writes an article about a major Romney donor. Breitbart writes an article about a small-scale Obama donor.
Obama builds a cult-like following with catchy slogans and little substance. Trump builds a cult-like following with catchy slogans and little substance.

Being that Trump shares (and to a worse degree) many of the problems Trump’s supporters have with Obama, I wonder why they support Trump? What is it about Trump that makes him different from Obama?

The “Clock Bomb” Student and the Racialization of Issues

A student who brought a homemade clock to school was arrested on suspicions that his clock could be a bomb. Many have said the school and police overreacted, and for a long time conservative commentators have been pointing to examples of schools overreacting to toy guns at school, but in this particular case they weren’t so outraged. Some conservative bloggers defended the school.

Let’s look at the blog Young Conservatives, for example. In the past the blog has posted items criticizing schools for excessive policing of students like these:
Fail: A student is facing a possible year-long suspension from school for playing with toy guns…at his house
See this 7-Year-Old? You won’t BELIEVE why he was suspended from school last week [for having a toy gun]
11-Year-Old Student Suspended for Bringing NERF Bullet and Toothpick to School
“A five-year-old girl from Alabama was forced to sign a suicide and homicide contract after pretending her crayon was a gun. Feel free to face palm.”

That last one was written by Michael Cantrell, so you would think he would have the same kind of outrage to express about the clockmaker’s arrest?

Well, no… He’s defended the school and police and attacking the critics of the school in his article “This Meme Shows What the Media Won’t tell you About the Digital Clock That Caused a Muslim Student to get Arrested.”

What I didn’t mention is that the student was a non-white Muslim, because that shouldn’t be relevant to whether or not it was wrong for him to be arrested. However it has been a leading fact in stories on either side of the debate.

Cantrell also tried to link the story to politics:

As you might imagine, progressive race hustlers immediately started salivating over the incident, chomping at the bit to start tossing out the “racist” label as quickly as possible, politicizing the incident to boost support for the Democratic Party and their push to appear like “tolerant” social justice warrior do-gooders out to save the world.

It’s a story about a local school district and local police… What the hell does it have to do with the Democratic Party?

In reality, they just want to expand the voter base…

What, at all, does this have to do with driving voter behavior? Was the outrage at the student who had a Pop Tart “in the shape of a gun” just meant to “expand the voter base”?

And if this blogger is so outraged at people being suspended for having toy guns and Pop Tarts, then why isn’t he outraged at people being suspended for having clocks? He could use this very story to “expand the voter base” for his side. Instead, too many conservatives are viewing it as a story of a Muslim being arrested rather than a story of a student being arrested due to brain-dead “politically correct” policies against supposed threats.

True, this story has also gotten a lot of attention from liberal blogs because of the boy’s race and religion–for the opposite reason; those bloggers are focusing on their suspicions that he was wrongly arrested due to anti-Muslim stereotypes rather than being wrongly arrested due to “zero tolerance”-type policies. Conservatives always like to attack liberals for claiming minorities are mistreated, but sometimes they are, but even if this case wasn’t about his religion, those who are opposed to zero tolerance should be outraged about it.

Of course I wasn’t at the school and don’t know if the student said or did anything suspicious. I–like the many other bloggers who jumped on this local story–can only rely on the reporting of others. But it seems from this Washington Post article that no one was really suspicious of the clock being a bomb.

The English teacher who said “it looks like a bomb” took it and “kept the clock, and during sixth period, Mohamed was pulled out of class by the principal and a police officer.”

If this teacher really thought it might be a bomb, why would she keep it for some amount of time?

Later the article claims that one of the police who was questioning him said, “It looks like a movie bomb to me.”

The reference to “movie bomb” seems to suggest a fake bomb, a prop.

“It could reasonably be mistaken as a device if left in a bathroom or under a car,” [Officer] McLellan said.

Sure, but look at the context. It wasn’t left under a car. It was in his backpack and then on the teacher’s desk.

The police claim the boy was evasive:

Irving chief Boyd said he did “not have answers to your specific question” about the allegation.

But is being evasive grounds for arrest? If they knew it wasn’t a bomb, what was the arrest for?

It seems like the whole thing was a crazy overreaction. Schools make students abide by a long “code of conduct” with unnecessary rules and prohibitions. People get uptight about so many things that cause no problems. They were apparently scared that the student might have been trying to cause a disturbance, but the teachers and police were the only ones who contrived a disturbance. And police arresting someone for these questionable reasons perhaps is a symbolic of why America has so many people incarcerated.

Now there might be some truth to the arguments noted by Allahpundit at HotAir.com that liberals really exploded in disproportionate fashion over this particular story. In fact, that President Obama tweeted about it and that CAIR started a “hold up actual clocks” (as opposed to the refashioned-digital-clock-parts-inside-a-pencil-case style favored by the student) Twitter campaign shows that it might also be an example of Twitter outrage culture gone crazy.

So be it. But the headlines–on both sides–should put the actions first and put the identity of the subject in the text of the story.

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