Imagine a presidential debate between a Senator Mike Davis and Governor Betty Neilson. Throughout the entire debate, the Neilson refers to the senator as “Senator” or “Senator Davis.” In turn, Davis consistently refers to Neilson as “Betty.”

This would largely be considered a textbook example of sexism. Absent some greater context, I’d probably cringe at it myself. Even if I supported Davis.

I’ve commented before that in Deseret, my wife and other non-LDS female physicians were constantly referred to by their first name while male doctors of any religion (and female LDS ones) got the Doctor honorific. They did this in front of patients, which is a no-no. That LDS women got the “Doctor” treatment suggests it wasn’t entirely a matter of sexism but also of respect. But male gentiles got the respect regardless.

There’s nothing wrong with going by one’s first name, as a physician or anything. Clancy had intended to do so until she kept running into the problem of patients not taking her seriously, or slipping into calling her a nurse. So she goes by Dr Himmelreich largely to avoid that.

I had for the longest time avoided calling Hillary Clinton “Hillary.” This was an inconvenience in many respects because “Clinton” was typically a reference to Bill Clinton. It’s for the same reason that George W Bush was Dubya, W, or sometimes Shrub instead of just “Bush.” And Jeb is Jeb, of course. But even taking these things into account, I was very conscientious about it all. Then Hillary Clinton decided Hillary was okay and I stopped worrying about it. Even despite that, people have “called me out” for using her first name. As she gets closer to becoming president, I do refer to her as Clinton more and more, just as “Bush” gradually came to refer to the younger rather than the older.

To get back to Davis-Neilson, it’s noteworthy that while Hillary Clinton’s supporters are claiming sexism in the moderation of the last debate (because Clinton was interrupted more than once), less attention has been paid to the fact that he called her by her honorific while she referred to him as Donald. Trump really prefers to be called Mr Trump. She didn’t extend him that courtesy and likely declined to do so precisely for that reason. She wanted to get under his skin and make him do something stupid.

Nobody, of course, is going to call this sexism. Nor should they, even though it’s something Trump would have been called out for under different circumstances (that she accepts “Hillary” complicates things).

My point isn’t poor-old-Donald or anti-PC. But rather as an illustration that it’s complicated. Because the sexism being complained about absolutely exists. But it doesn’t exist in every manifestation. It’s not unlike how half of the lines of attacks against Bill Clinton (womanizer! Slick!) and George W Bush (dumb, unsophisticated, lazy) would suddenly take on a huge racial component when lodged against Obama in a very similar manner.

Which leaves the discussion in an awkward place. It’s easier to say “This wouldn’t happen if it was a white male” but that’s rarely accurate. It’s easier to say “This has nothing to do with race or gender” even though that’s probably wrong because race and gender can amplify or color particular arguments. The truth, that maybe this attack would be used anyway against a white guy but more likely under circumstances in which it is warranted and probably to lesser effect, doesn’t fit into a headline.

Category: Coffeehouse

Sitting in the Linky Friday queue is this item:

The Christian Science Monitor has a good article on grandparents raising the children of their opioid-addicted children. My wife runs into this a lot.

As it happens, this has hit a bit closer to home than that.

My brother Oliver has a new daughter. Tentatively. They have apparently applied for and gotten custody of his niece, Nora. They are hoping to make it permanent. Oliver’s brother-in-law in apparently (back) in jail, and the baby’s mother has a rather serious drug problem. His mother-in-law might take Nora in, but has her hands full with another grandchild.

Nora’s mother is expected to contest the adoption. She’s lost Nora a couple of times, but gotten her back each time. This time the judge said that either the kid was going home with Oliver and Kelsey or was going into foster care. She actually had to think about it, apparently, before agreeing to keep Nora in the family. (I don’t know the timeline, but my impression is that they did not apply for the adoption until after this).

We haven’t inquired too much into whether the problem was neglect or abuse. All that was said was that she was “treating Nora badly.” Kelsey approached Oliver about adoption and he was completely on board with it. They’d only planned for two kids (which they presently have), but family duty and a quickly-obtained love for the child added a third.

It’s a pretty sad situation, though Nora is cute as a button and is apparently getting used to the new arrangement.

So, basically, drug addiction sucks. Sometimes I’m glad the CPS gets involved. I’m happy for Oliver, Kelsey, and especially Nora.

Category: Home

To be honest, I didn’t like Harvey from the first time that I met him. Since managed to win the hand of my wife’s cousin Gabrielle, I actually expected to like him because I think she’s tops. And being chubby and short, he didn’t win her over with good looks. So I expected him to be a good guy. And he may be one, just not to his wife’s family. And the nature of the infractions are such that I don’t think he’s singling them out. He more or less exudes a greeting of, “Hi, I’m Dr Harvey Melancon. Glad to meet me, I’m sure.”

When he met my wife and she told him that she was going into rural family medicine, he basically responded that he fortunately didn’t need to do anything like that because he graduated in the top half of his medical school class. (Clancy graduated in the top third, for the record.)

When it was mentioned that Lain has a developmental delay, his response was to explain how the twins have met and exceeded every single developmental benchmark and how terrible he’d feel if he had a kid that was delayed.

Last year, Harvey was asked not to return to his medical residency. That… doesn’t happen often with family medicine residencies. It’s not as hard as flunking out of medical school, but it’s not something taken lightly. And if it happens to you, well you’re screwed.

He claims that he was not asked to return due to his principled opposition to birth control. Which… is not likely true. With perhaps some exception somewhere, there are protocols and requirements in place. Doctors do not need to dispense birth control if it’s against their beliefs, just as they do not need to perform abortions. They do, however, have to be willing to refer patients to someone who can fulfill that need. So you don’t have to do it, but you can’t turn anybody away, either. That’s the deal. Clancy bit her tongue so hard on that it figuratively bled.

Chances are he was booted for another reason. But as I say, if this happens to you… you’re screwed. It happened to someone in Clancy’s residency for reasons of utter incompetence. She never found another residency, and last Clancy heard works as a psychotherapist. Harvey, likewise, has had no luck whatsoever finding another residency. (Which is another indication that he’s not being on the up-and-up because if it was about birth control, there are residencies that would accommodate him.) Unlike Clancy’s former colleague, he was not dismissed mid-session. But no luck.

Which leaves me worried about Harvey, Gabrielle, and their three kids. Well, mostly Gabrielle and the kids. She is a physical therapist and therefore can bring in some money while he’s out of work. However, going to medical school is really expensive. My wife had a free ride for undergraduate and went in-state for medical school and still graduated six figures in debt. We’re able to pay it off because she’s earning a doctorly income. But it’s quite a bit of money. And the apparent (?) end of his medical career occurred after all that money had been spent.

I actually feel bad for him in part because I don’t think it was the birth control. I think he was just in over his head, like Clancy’s colleague, and I can more easily forgive falling short than the bullheadedness of failing to abide by the compromise laid out above. The system is pretty unforgiving about that. It’s hard to fail out of medical school, and starts getting easier to fail after the debt is accumulated and before you can really start paying it off.

Category: Hospital
Life goes on, but hopefully not barreling through a crowd of people.


In response to a video of kinetic protesters ganging up on a car, Glenn “Instapundit” Reynolds tweeted the following to the right. Needless to say, it stirred up some controversy and backlash. Some went so far as to call his tweet an appeal for “mass murder”, though others stuck with terminology “vehicular assault.”

It didn’t take long for Twitter to act, and Reynolds’s account was suspended. What followed after that was reasonably predictable, with various critics and defenders, mostly along predictable lines. Reynolds defended himself thusly:

Sorry, blocking the interstate is dangerous, and trapping people in their cars and surrounding them is a threat. Driving on is self-preservation, especially when we’ve had mobs destroying property and injuring and killing people. But if Twitter doesn’t like me, I’m happy to stop providing them with free content.ANOTHER UPDATE: Was just on Hugh Hewitt talking about this. Since Twitter won’t let me respond to — or even see — my critics, let me expand here.I’ve always been a supporter of free speech and peaceful protest. I fully support people protesting police actions, and I’ve been writing in support of greater accountability for police for years.But riots aren’t peaceful protest. And blocking interstates and trapping people in their cars is not peaceful protest — it’s threatening and dangerous, especially against the background of people rioting, cops being injured, civilian-on-civilian shootings, and so on. I wouldn’t actually aim for people blocking the road, but I wouldn’t stop because I’d fear for my safety, as I think any reasonable person would.“Run them down” perhaps didn’t capture this fully, but it’s Twitter, where character limits stand in the way of nuance.

I think some of the frustration with Twitter on the part of many of Reynolds’s defenders is rather legitimate. In some cases, I disagree but think they are touching on something about the dynamics of politics, celebrity, and Twitter. Where they take action and where they don’t. Flagging Reynolds does seem (at best) random compared to a lot of trangessions that are let slid.

But seriously, this is not the hill to die on. If Reynolds had wanted to tweet about getting away, he could have done so. He didn’t. There are two reasons that a driver in such a terrible situation might run somebody over: To get away, or to inflict injury. If you’re advocating action that could result in both of those things, you need to be very clear about which of those things is your goal. Reynolds, intentionally or not, went for the unacceptable one.

Had the drivers hurt someone in the process of getting out, I honestly wouldn’t have been too bothered. If there was a recorded phone call prior to that saying he was going to “Run these assholes over!” with a note of enthusiasm, then that might be a different story. Maybe. Those kinetic protesters did put themselves in harms way, but that’s not a blank check to do whatever. Put those words in a recording, and an obvious attempt to plow through people rather than simply get out, then the driver has some explaining to do. I might be loathe to want to prosecute, but at the very least such actions should not be applauded or encouraged.

That doesn’t mean that he needed to be permanently banned, and he wasn’t. He just had to delete the tweet and everything was restored. There appear to be some glitches in the process, but by and large this all seems within parameters both for Twitter and Reynolds. Reynolds said something he shouldn’t have, which happens. Twitter took action, but nothing earth-shattering, and life goes on. At least it should.

Category: Newsroom

Ecigarette maker NJOY is calling it quits:

The company filed for bankruptcy protection on Sept. 16 in Delaware federal court, burning some high-powered Silicon Valley investors, including Sean Parker, co-founder of the now-defunct Napster, and PayPal founder Peter Thiel, who were part of a $70 million capital round that valued NJOY at $1 billion in 2013. Singer Bruno Mars is also an investor in NJOY and a fan of the e-cigarettes, which heat nicotine-laced liquid into vapor.

Parker, who ponied up $10 million to put into the company, said at the time that electronic cigarettes had the potential to make regular cigarettes “and all the harm they cause obsolete.”

The filing comes just five months after new federal regulations from Food and Drug Administration threaten the fast-growing multibillion-dollar industry that includes tobacco giants Altria and Reynolds, which own MarkTen and Vuse, respectively.

The funny thing about that third paragraph is that there is nobody less threatened than Altria and Reynolds. They have the money and resources to make it through the FDA’s hurdles. They will likely be the last to fall. And if they do fall, then there is no ecigarette industry to threaten their profits from ecigarettes. Though media outlets have persistently parrotted public health advocate lines that ecigarettes are the latest invention of Big Tobacco, the real pioneers were companies like NJOY that forced Big Tobacco’s hand. NJOY’s failure is literally Big Tobacco’s success.

That being said, as a first order of effect it’s hard to blame NJOY’s fall on the FDA’s Deeming regulations. Their sales fell to a tenth of their high mark in an industry that’s growing. They failed because they had a shoddy product. Where the FDA comes in is that it turned off the light at the end of the tunnel. Without the FDA regulations, they might have been able to pivot into different products, change their focus, or any number of other things. Instead, they are going to be required to spend millions of dollars just to keep their current lackluster product on the market. And unlike Big Tobacco, they just don’t have the resources to do so.

When I talk about their product, I should clarify. Though they sell different things, NJOY focused primarily on cigalikes and closed systems. They’re not bad products exactly. I quit smoking with Blu, which was a similar product. Others, though, have found their product not remotely satisfactory as a cigarette replacement and I myself would have had a much smoother transition if I’d gone straight to vape pens or some other more efficient device. Blu is still around, though they have gone from being front-and-center at the cigarette counter to something you see down at the bottom right tucked out of the way. There may be a market for items that give a poor vape but retain the look and feel of cigarettes, but it’s likely pretty limited, and NJOY’s model seemed built around it.

Some public health advocates seem to be celebrating this development, while some pro-vape people say it portends bad things. I believe it’s mostly irrelevant. I’m not worried about NJOY. I’m worried about vape shops, independent dealers, and the like. The main thing I will miss about NJOY is that they had a good media presence and were one of the better known brands that had never been associated with tobacco companies. They were an easy company to cite when someone said that the whole thing is a front for Big Tobacco.

Category: Newsroom
We don’t need to let everybody into the debates. However, debates should be more than just a selection mechanism but also a platform for introduction and discussion.


Category: Statehouse

Some terms have a technical meaning and a common meaning, and the common meaning has a “normative slant.” The technicians know how to use the terms in the technical sense. But sometimes the common meaning slips in, in such a way that using the term ends up making two arguments with one word.

If one isn’t careful, using such terms can lead  to confusion. Who’s to blame is not always clear. It could be the technician who uses the term or it could be interlocutor who misinterprets or misidentifies the technical meaning.

I have a list of three terms here, in ascending order of how knowledgeable I am about the technical definitions.



Title(s) of technicians. Economist; political scientist.

Technical meaning. The extra amount one is willing to spend to get the next widget. Or, somewhat less technically but still bound up with what technicians mean: the amount of change a given policy will bring about in a given direction.

Common meaning. An amount that is unimportant or trivial.

Normative slant to the common meaning. Mostly neutral, but it can swing either way depending on whether “amount” in question is good or bad.

Possibilities for confusion. When people speak of changes “on the margins” or assert that such and such policy will bring about “marginal” changes, they may have in mind the technical meaning. But sometimes they let slip in or leave unaddressed the common meaning. If it’s a somewhat harmful, but in his/her opinion necessary thing technician is advocating, he/she leave themselves open to the charge that he/she is minimizing the harm.

Sometimes, too: The size of the margin–not whether a marginal change will be brought about–is really what is under dispute. Simply pointing out that change (for the better or worse) will occur along some margin does not 1) demonstrate how much the change will be and 2) whether the change is worth it.

Exploitation (Marxist version).

Title(s) of technician(s). Marxist theorist; activist.

Technical meaning. Expropriating the surplus value of a worker to pay the profits of the person to whom the worker sells his or her labor. (Other technicians may have other meaning, but I’m focusing on the Marxist version.)

Common meaning. Somehow compelling someone to do something that they don’t want to do and that harms them.

Normative slant to the common meaning. Bad.

Possibilities for confusion. One sometime activist I knew who was steeped in Marxist theory often used the word “exploitation” to great emotional effect when describing the treatment of workers and the need for a revolution. And yet if you bring up examples of workers being treated well or workers as a whole benefiting from the prevailing economic system, then that same Marxist will fall back on the more technical meaning of “exploitation” and explain what they really meant was that the workers’ surplus value, etc., etc.


Title(s) of technician(s). Historian.

Technical meaning. Representing the phenomenon of change over time. I believe it can represent persistence over time as well. The key point is that change happens (or doesn’t) but it can be explained by people’s decisions or by contingent, unforeseen happenings. This is probably a modern conceit. Historians in earlier times sometimes appealed notions of “forces of history” or “cycles of history” or “spirits of history” (e.g., Zeitgeist, Volksgeist, Ortgeist). I’m not saying my definition is true for all times and places and people, just that it’s the prevailing definition among those who were trained professionally in history and abide by professional history’s norms.

Common meaning. True and factual story of what happened.

Normative slant to the common meaning. Good.

Possibilities for confusion.There are at least two ways we sometimes commingle the technical and common meanings. One is simply using the common meaning when it suits us and then relying on our status (such as it is) of “historian” to claim that it’s truth.

The second is to speak as if merely demonstrating that a given belief or position or attitude is “ahistorical” we have therefore invalidated it. This is wrong, or at least “confusing,” because it assumes that historicality is the only measure by which to judge things. It judges people by the standards of professional historians even if those people did not claim to be abiding by those standards in the first place.



There’s a lot I don’t know about the above terms. I’m least confident with “marginal.” Not being an economist or trained in economics, I suspect I’ve got it wrong on some level. So please correct me.

I feel a little bit more confident about “exploitation” and Marxism. But to be clear I’ve never read Marx to any significant degree, and most of what I “know” comes from reading Marxist-inspired historians and talking with people like my sometime activist acquaintance. And perhaps the “confusion” I talk about is just an anecdatum from my activist acquaintance.

Even with “historical” I might be off despite my training. In my anecdotal observation and experience, historians aren’t usually trained in grad school to examine the assumptions of history. Instead, grad school socializes them into the norms of the profession, and among those norms are the assumptions I mention above. My experience is no exception: I’ve given these assumptions some thought, but haven’t really investigated them systematically.


My takeaway, though, stands. We should beware how we use technical terms. It’s not only that there’s room for confusion, there’s also room for deception or at least lazy argumentation. And while the blame can’t always rest with the technicians, it sometimes can.

Category: Market, Statehouse


I know that I often talk about (and complain about) the liberal skew of Hollywood productions. Which I think is fair, but I should also point out when they do something I would like to see more of. I had an email exchange recently about politics and entertainment which reminded me of a post I’d long wanted to write about The Good Wife. This post assumes that you have not watched the show, and don’t care to, and will have some relatively inconsequential (or predictable) spoilers.

The basic premise behind The Good Wife is Alicia Florek as a protagonists whose husband is caught in a sexy political scandal, forcing her to transition from a Stay-At-Home-Mother back into the workplace, in this case a law firm. For the most part, though, it’s a political and legal drama with Alicia at the center of it, both in court and with her husband on the political stage.

The show takes place in Chicago, which means that almost all of its politics are going to be skewed to the left. Along these lines, it would have been easy and inconspicuous for conservatives to be notably absent and their view either unrepresented or poorly represented and liberal perspectives to be embedded in the show across the board. For the most part, this is how the show ran for the first few seasons. Though even early on, there were exceptions and indications that they weren’t going to stick with that formula.

The show had (basically) three elections over its run, with almost all of the participants being Democrats because Chicago. In all but one race[1], the Floreks found themselves up against somebody running to their left. This served to moderate the Floreks, comparatively speaking, as they pursued white and/or centrist voters[2]. This lead to a decent plot thread wherein a member of the Florek family figured out that they were targeting the white vote specifically against his black opponent. But it introduced a degree of ambiguity that served the show well.

Sometimes shows with politics to go out of their way to make all of the bad guys Republicans[3]. They managed to avoid that by recognizing that when they needed an unexpected racist that it might be better to make him a progressive liberal that everybody in the office looked up to. Little things like that matter, especially given “Family Values Republican actually a sexual deviant” is more a cliche than a twist, at this point.

They also introduced Kurt McVeigh (no relation), a reasonably well-developed rightwing character. He was introduced as a ballistics expert, but became the romantic interest to Diane, the most liberal character on the show. Setting aside political preferences and such, it interwove liberal and conservative characters in a way that I would really like to see more of. It’s not just about having different perspectives represented, but it makes for more entertaining television when everybody in the room doesn’t share the same basic orientation.

Where the show really hit its stride in this regard was in the later seasons, when I think they were running out of ideas to keep the show going. Among other things, they brought in Oliver Platt as a conservative character who hired the firm and used Diane to bounce ideas off of. This lead to a great episode where they talked about RFRA and gay wedding cakes. Platt and company talked about the prospects of a cake baker, and eventually isolated a wedding planner as the best case to find and bring suit. Diane, who fell squarely on the side of gay couples, got the last word. But nonetheless it was well done. And from there, Diane went on to help one of Platt’s intermediaries with a PP Video case that she viewed as a First Amendment issue, much to the chagrin of everybody else at the firm.

Though the above may give a faulty impression, The Good Wife falls squarely to the left, on the whole. But impressive-to-me, they never let that get in the way of telling a good or interesting story. I have multiple motivations for getting on my soapbox on the subject, but the most basic reason I want to see more variety is simply because it can make better stories that way. The legal aspects of The Practice were better than Boston Legal simply by having Helen Gamble (Laura Flynn Boyle) on the show[4]. This doesn’t just apply to legal and political dramas (for those in particular, a skew usually makes narrative sense and there is only one skew they can pull off), but more or less anything where politics is likely to come up.

[1] The exception was the Illinois Governor’s race, wherein Peter was running against Maura Tierney, who was running to his left, and then a general election against Matthew Perry, who played an ideologically nondescript Republican.

[2] Everything in this post is a simplification. They actually spent more time pursuing the black vote, with Peter forming a bond with a black preacher, and so on. But there were two plot threads wherein the Floreks pursued voters that at least some participants were uncomfortable with. Peter’s dogwhistling and later Alicia’s run against a rumored-to-be-gay David Hyde Pierce.

[3] One example, The Event, had a protagonist president and an antagonist vice president, so what were they to do? Why, they decided to make it a unity ticket. That way, the president could be a intimated Democrat and the vice president a Republican. Presto!

[4] Boston Legal did have a couple of conservative characters, but more as foils than anything. Denny Crane was crazy, and Brad Chase was ineffectual. It was – until the end, anyway – better than nothing, but it was what it was.

Category: Theater

After this, I plan to shift back to less partisan/political posts I swear. But here we are, just a few days after Hillary Clinton’s speech and Mike Pence declined to refer to David Duke as deplorable. At first blanch, that looks really bad, and harkens back to Donald Trump’s refusal to disavow Duke.

The problem is that Pence did disavow Duke. Right before he declined to call him deplorable. So the narrative that there’s no extremist too extreme for Team Trump doesn’t especially hold. We can talk about how Of Course they’re willing to ditch Duke because even in Louisiana he’s polling really badly and how this doesn’t absolve Trump of anything. And that’s all true. The frustrating thing for me, though, is that it leaves me defending Trump again because that’s not how the media is covering it. They’re suggesting that he’s down with Duke.

The question is, though, why didn’t Pence simply say that yes of course Duke is deplorable? Especially given his actual willingness to disavow? I mean, this is easy spit and unlike Trump, Pence is a professional?

I think the answer is this:

And this:

Which is to say, Team Trump has decided to own the sneer. They’re not worried about offending Duke, they’re worried about tarnishing their rally cry. Which makes sense. Is it a good move? I’m really not sure. It seems more of a batting down the hatches move for a campaign that needs to get to 51%. (It’s also dishonest, since it is reasonably clear that Clinton was talking about half but not all of Trump supporters, but nobody cares cares about that.) But there aren’t a lot of good paths for him, and this is one. It capitalizes on what even the Clinton campaign seems to concede is a mistake.

I can’t imagine such a move would garner my support for a campaign that otherwise wouldn’t have it, but if it were my candidate I could dig The Deplorables as a rallying cry. It could work.

(Of course, me being me, I’d want to work in a Les Deplorables in the spirit of Les Miserables. Classing up the meme and all that. But that might be the style of a candidate I might support. It obviously wouldn’t work for Trump.)

Category: Newsroom

Since this came on on account of Hillary Clinton’s comments about Trump supporters, I suppose I need to tackle my views on that first:

She shouldn’t have said “half.” That was at once specific and ambiguous. It was not good politics, as evidenced by everything that has happened since. Clinton supporters are blaming the reaction, but there was no memo that went out. This was a predictable reaction, and it turned a hard-to-deny statement – that Trump has a lot of supporters that are pretty bad – and turned it into something else. Some of the reaction would have been there regardless, but the margins matter here. And we’d be spending more time talking about Trump supporters – however many or however few – talking about African-Americans needing to go back to Africa. Instead we’re having a situation where even #NeverTrump conservatives shuffled in their seats.

That said, apart from the response, I wasn’t as alarmed or agitated as many people are. I believe Trump is uniquely troublesome and believed this back when BSDI-whiners Yglesias-Chait-Krugman were saying he was better than Rubio. So to a degree, all’s fair. But more than that, I saw past the words she used to the point she was making (which is something I do for Trump as well). Those who have signed on to Trump have signed on to a lot of ugliness. Clinton’s job is to make people want to be as far away from that as possible. By separating it into two groups, she was motioning that some of the light supporters can be differentiated from some of the heavy supporters. It was actually something of a generous point, that got lost with the word “half.”

In any event, my view of this is largely instrumental. The biggest question I have is not whether it was a fair or accurate approach, but whether it was an effective one. But it’s hard to separate the two, because the ambiguous inaccuracy helped the statement (apparently) backfire. And at least on Twitter, it’s putting Clinton supporters in a position where rather than uniting the anti-Trump right, center, and left, it’s dividing between those who hate Trump but not enough, and those who hate Trump sufficiently. It’s not a good dynamic.

Which is where things have been lately. I’m seeing more and more references to the notion that any criticism of Clinton should be taken as pro-Trump. That opposing Trump is not enough, but opposing Trump for the right reasons is key. Which reminds those of us in the anti-Trump center-right that the anti-Trump left are not really our friends. That, as the Trumpers say, the things used against Trump today will be used against us tomorrow. That makes me a little less enthusiastic.

By way of example, here is a tweet that caught my attention:

And it’s tweets like this which leave me in a place not of agreement, but of defending Trump supporters. Which is not my preferred thing to do. But if the weapon used against him today will be used against us tomorrow, it has to be confronted.

The argument of the tweet is that the “half” figure is correct because, hey, half of Trump supporters view black folks as more violent than whites. Now, for the sake of this discussion let’s stipulate that this is the bar by which we determine that people are deplorable and irredeemably racist. With that stipulated, BOOM!

But wait, what about a third of Hillary Clinton’s supporters? A quarter of Bernie Sanders’s supporters. All deplorable and irredeemable? Maybe they should be kicked out of the Democratic Party. No, wait, that’s not a good idea, because if they were the Democrats would never win a national election. Which would be silly.

Here’s the thing. There is no magic number wherein above that number demonstrates that a movement is half or fully racist in nature. We can’t look at Hillary Clinton’s supporters and say that the 31% proves nothing, but Trump’s 48% proves everything. That’s just not how it works. But it’s something I see again and again. The marginal differences statistically define the coalitions. I remember a while back a poll suggesting that something like 38% of Democrats wanted to live around other Democrats and 53% of Republicans wanted to live around other Republicans. People pointed this to proof that the Big Sorting was “A Republican” problem and that suggesting otherwise was “Both Sides Do It.”

Because the magical threshold just happens to be in the margins of those two numbers. As with that, with everything. In the case of racism and Trump support vs Clinton support, if you’re using that chart to delineate you’re essentially picking sides on basically 1-in-5 supporters. That’s not exactly overwhelming.

“But wait, they’re not just racist for answering this particular question this particular way! They’re different because Trump supporters are voting on their racism and Clinton supporters aren’t!”

Well, maybe, but that makes the chart useless as evidence. As does speculation that Actually The (52% of) Trump Supporters Are Lying. If they are, then the data is invalid. And there’s not much reason to believe that Trump supporters would more likely lie about this than Clinton supporters, and reason to believe that if we could read minds it would actually be closer. I mean, imagine a Clinton supporter and imagine a Trump supporter and imagine who is self-conscious about holding views widely considered to be racist?

And so here I am, offering marginal support to supporters of a candidate I loathe. In part because if I don’t, I’m buying into the validity of the chart. And after this election, the weapon used against Trump’s coalition will be used against mine.

Category: Elsewhere

Please ignore anything below this, there is experimentation in progress


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Greetings from Stonebridge a fictitious city in a fictitious state located in a tri-state area in the interior Mid-Atlantic region. We're in western Queenland, which is really a state unto itself, and not to be confused with Queensland in Australia.

Nothing written on this site should be taken as strictly true, though if the author were making it all up rest assured the main character and his life would be a lot less unremarkable.

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