The Intermission Is Over
CNN has done us a favor in a way: Trump remains the central issue of our time.
The reason so many are freaking out about CNN’s astonishing ad for the Trump re-election campaign this week is that he was on tip-top form. Donald Trump is, as a performer, in a class of his own. From the second the show began, he was in command: withering, funny, sharp, powerful. He may be one of the most effective and pathological demagogues I’ve ever encountered: capable of lying with staggering sincerity, of making up stories with panache: shameless, and indefatigable.
Now think of Joe Biden, peace be upon him. He can barely get a sentence out without a mumble, a slur, or a confused expression. He seems frail and distant. In a direct contrast between the two old men, there will surely be some voters — and maybe many — who simply back the man who seems capable of doing the job vigorously for four more years. There hasn’t been this kind of contrast since Clinton-Dole (and Dole in 1996 was sharp AF) and Reagan-Mondale (it took Reagan’s debate genius to destroy the concern). Trump, in stark contrast, bulldozed the host Kaitlan Collins, who was far more in charge of facts and details than Biden will ever be.
Shamelessness has a huge appeal. It’s why we can’t see a production of Richard III without at some points egging on the child-murderer. And I confess that watching the deposition conducted by Robbie Kaplan, he got me. When Trump says to Kaplan, after dismissing Carroll as “not his type,” “You would not be my choice of mine either, to be honest with you. I hope you’re not insulted,” I LOLed. It was disgusting — but how could you not laugh at the effrontery?
At one point in the CNN show, Trump took the performance up a notch — sympathizing with E Jean Carroll’s husband:
He was a newscaster, very nice man. She called him an ape, happens to be African-American. Called him an ape — the judge wouldn’t allow us to put that in. Her dog or her cat was named “Vagina,” the judge wouldn’t allow to put that in.
Sorry, but the way he delivered the word “vagina” was worthy of a good stand-up. And the affect — the lone ranger telling the truth while prissy elites tut-tut — channels a vast swathe of the public mood.
The issues are also turning Trump’s way. As Title 42 expires today, a huge influx of fraudulent “asylum” seekers is on the verge of overwhelming what border we have left — some with court dates as far away as 2027. Virtually none will be deported ever. A Marine veteran has been charged with manslaughter after manhandling an out-of-control black man on the subway: a trial that’s catnip for the right. People have vague memories of a pre-Covid economic boom and associate it with Trump. Ukraine will be an increasing headache for Biden, as horrible decisions loom at some point if Ukraine can’t win full liberation of their country.
Biden is tethered to Kamala Harris, who will be seen by many as a possible president by default if Biden kicks the bucket in a few years. And she is an even worse politician and manager than Hillary Clinton. The MSM has spent the last few months attempting to destroy the only viable alternative to Trump, DeSantis, because they’ve actually convinced themselves of a looming “Biden blowout.”
I say the emergency is still here; that Trump is more likely than not returning to the White House as of now; and the interlude of these few precious years when this monster wasn’t daily assaulting our constitution, sanity, and our sense of decency is over.
Get used to it; and strap yourselves in.
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Truths, Damned Truths, And Statistics
I’ve left Twitter now — as so many of you regularly lobbied me to, and it does indeed feel better. But I still look at it, the way you look at your own poo before flushing. And now and again, some micro-debate offers some light on our tortured and polarized discourse — and illustrates how easily we are talking past each other so often, or missing the point entirely.
Murder and violent crime statistics by race are a particularly fraught area. They are among our most solid stats — because dead bodies and injuries can be very hard to cover up, and because for the most part we have racial identities for perpetrators and victims. And yet any limited perusal of them can lead to extreme anxiety. And so it was this week, when an anti-woke tweeter posted a graph about media coverage of inter-racial murders. The tweeted meme is above — and it blew up to over 17 million views because Elon Musk commented on it approvingly, and left-Twitter had a fit.
The core point of the meme, I think, is that the media devotes much more attention to white-on-black “violent crimes” than black-on-white, even though the latter is almost ten times as common as the former — 547,948 compared with 59,778. (For example, did you hear about the homeless black man in Tulsa last week who fatally shot two white strangers in the back of the head? Of course not.) The meme was spurred by the horrible Jordan Neely incident, when a multi-racial group held down an erratic and threatening black man with mental illness, and a white man choked him to death.
One credible answer to this bias, of course, is that the media often prefer man-bites-dog to dog-bites-man stories, precisely because they’re rarer. So why not focus on a dramatic example, like Neely’s? Another plausible answer is that the elite media are dedicated to the proposition that we live in a “structurally racist” society and so regard whites’ murdering of blacks as more troublesome in the context of “systemic power” than blacks’ murdering of whites.
But neither of these interpretations were raised in response. Instead, critics of the meme, while acknowledging that the stats were correct, insisted that other context was crucial, and leaving it out was deceptive and racist. And they have a point. This is data scientist Kareem Carr’s argument:
In a truly race-blind society, where most of the people are white and where victims are being selected purely at random, the vast majority of crimes committed by black offenders should involve white victims. This should be our default hypothesis.
Indeed. And when you look at all violent crimes stats — intra-racial as well as inter-racial — you see that, in Carr’s words, “the vast majority of violent crimes in America involve white victims and white offenders.” He goes on to say that since blacks are in general younger and poorer than whites, that also helps explain the gap.
So this association of African-Americans with violent crime is just the usual white supremacy at work, right? The graph, although entirely accurate so far as it goes, was just an example of Musk magnifying “crude racism,” according to Aaron Rupar? It is mercifully true that, despite Eric Cartman’s fervent wishes, America has very few inter-racial murders compared to intra-racial murders, because murder tends to happen where you live and isn’t usually racially motivated. The hyping of inter-racial murder is intrinsically inflammatory. Which is why some suspicion of the tweet was perfectly reasonable.
But in the middle of all this — tip-toed around and barely mentioned — is something staring us in the face. It is still true that there are ten times the number of black-on-white violence than white-on-black (and, as Noah Carl notes, “the total number of violent incidents committed by blacks against Asians is 89 times greater” than Asians against blacks). On the most serious violent crime, murder, the stats are also staggering: in 2021, of all murderers in America whose race was known, a full 60.4 percent were black — overwhelmingly male and young. So if you narrow it down to young black men, around 3 percent of the population is responsible for well over half the murders in America. In Minnesota, African-American males make up 3.2 percent of the population and commit 76 percent of the homicides and 87 percent of the burglaries. That’s a ratio that is resilient and persistent.
If aliens arrived on Earth and looked at the murder stats in America, the first thing they’d note is how murderous the US is compared with every other developed country (largely, to my mind, because of so many guns). But the second thing they’d notice is surely this: so much murder committed by such a small, discrete population. It overwhelmingly affects those who live in neighborhoods where young black men live, which is why, as a new survey just found, by the age of 40 in the city of Chicago, “about 56% of Black respondents and nearly 55% of Latinos said they had seen someone else get shot, compared with nearly 26% of White respondents.”
This inequity — being subjected to constant, daily violence — is the one inequity the left appears uninterested in. (Just 17 percent of white liberals consider crime “an extremely important” issue, compared to 45 percent of black liberals — and 60 percent of black conservatives.) The violence African-Americans are now terrorized by every day is far higher than it was in 2020 — when the left came out in force to demand, yes, less policing and more lenience for violence. But to actually note the crisis in this sub-population, and to focus on it as the core problem, is deemed racist.
This madness reminds me of the misguided idea that during the monkeypox epidemic, we shouldn’t note that gay men with very high rates of sexual activity were the key demo. Why? Because it fed into stereotypes that gay men are promiscuous — and we all know how homophobic that trope is. But — surprise! — it was simply true that gay men were the primary vectors for the disease, because it is simply true that gay men are more promiscuous. It made total sense to focus almost entirely on them. And the push for vaccines and safer behavior worked. You think we would have done better if we’d vaccinated everyone at random? When gay men, like African-Americans with respect to murder, were the most likely to be victims as well as perpetrators? And like the subset of young black men regarding violence, the subset of young gay men have the lion’s share of sex compared to homosexuals in general.
Biden’s woke Department of Justice actually wants to bar law enforcement from using any of these racially specific crime statistics in “making decisions about where and how to focus their activities.” The aim is deliberately to ignore the 3 percent committing over half the murders in the country, and focus randomly on the 97 percent (including the vast majority of African-Americans) who don’t. It’s insane — the kind of racial equity for criminals that leads to grotesque racial inequity for victims. African-Americans are 13 percent of the population and make up more murder victims than every other race combined. In Chicago, for example, 79 percent of murder victims are black.
Why exactly are young black men uniquely responsible for this level of violence? The whole Twitter debate — and elsewhere, of course — is dedicated to changing the subject. (The old blogosphere was far better at debating such topics.) The answer is obviously, like many social phenomena, multi-determined: class, region, a collapse of religion, a lack of inherited wealth, predatory lenders, a subculture within black culture that celebrates violence and adultery, the glorification of guns in hip-hop, an aversion to “acting white” in school; unstable family structure; absent fathers; some racist cops — and, yes, a horrific history of white supremacy — are all surely implicated. It would take a grueling long national discussion to come to some agreement on this, and then to grapple with some way forward to tackle it.
But we’d rather accuse each other of crude racism, suggest distractions, offer yet more largely irrelevant context, blather about abstractions like “structural racism” 60 years after Jim Crow, blame all cops, or promote denial, than do any of this. “I don’t give a fuck whose fault it is,” Glenn Loury fumes. “We’re going to have to deal with the reality that this is a social dysfunction.”
Just not any time soon.
New On The Dishcast: Chris Stirewalt
Chris is a political analyst and author. He worked at Fox News for more than a decade until they fired him in the wake of the 2020 election, when he was part of the election team that accurately called Arizona for Biden. He’s now the politics editor for NewsNation and a contributing editor for The Dispatch. His new book is Broken News: Why the Media Rage Machine Divides America and How to Fight Back. He’s also a blast.
Listen to the episode here. There you can find two clips of our convo — on how the unbundling the news corrupted it, and why Trump voters can’t quit him. That link also takes you to a bunch of reader commentary on the recent history of media, as well as listeners on last week’s episode with Nigel Biggar on colonialism. I respond throughout.
Money Quotes For The Week
“Two things can be true: the killing of Neely was an abhorrent, entirely preventable tragedy, and a lot of strident voices from peak #MeToo are suddenly awfully cavalier about the importance of feeling safe on public transit,” - Kat Rosenfield.
“At the center of sissy porn lies the asshole, a kind of universal vagina through which femaleness can always be accessed,” - Andrea Long Chu, trans author of Females, who just won a Pulitzer for New York Magazine.
“Gay movement: the sex you’re attracted to is hardwired at birth, even though there’s no gay gene. Trans movement: your sex is entirely fluid, even though there is a definitive sex chromosome. LGBT movement: you must believe both of those things at once, or else you’re a bigot,” - Vivek Ramaswamy.
“The truth may be stretched thin, but it never breaks, and it always surfaces above lies, as oil floats on water,” - Miguel de Cervantes.
The View From Your Window
Memphis, Tennessee, 4.18 pm
Email Of The Week: "You Sneaky Fucker"
We didn’t get any dissents over last week’s column on Ben Smith’s history of new media, so the next best thing is this email:
I have emailed before about how I subscribe and unsubscribe to the Dish, based on my level of rage at your columns. Short-sighted? Knee-jerk? Stubborn? Borderline obnoxious? I think a lot of people would describe you using at least one of those adjectives.
But your latest column — on Ben Smith’s book — hit me at my core. In 2001, I was a high-school dropout whose factory had just shuttered and moved offshore. Today, I have a Master of Legal Studies degree from a very prominent law school and I’m Director of Operations for a major company. There was a time in between. A time when I was lost. When I did not understand anything about politics, or culture, or how to even find news and news analysis — much less digest and form my own system of beliefs.
In this void, my primary sources of information were Talking Points Memo and The Daily Dish, and the links that took me to other sources of information. TPM and the Dish really taught me how to think. Not what to think, but how to think. How to analyze information, how to differentiate between the sound and the noise. How to find a voice of my own. How to craft an argument, based on facts, and defend it, or modify or change it based on new evidence.
As I approach 50 years old, I try to remain aware of the notion that as we age, our minds can become locked in. We become firmer in our convictions, less willing to change and adapt. And I think it’s mostly because we’re fucking tired.
Everything I thought I knew in 2002 has changed. Since I graduated from college in 2009, it’s changed. Since I graduated from law school SIX MONTHS AGO, it’s changed. It changes so fast, and the way we get the information has changed so much and there is no deliberation, no compromise, no time. It’s exhausting. Your piece brought that into perspective for me. You are just trying to process shit in this exhausting world, which has moved from 30 miles per hour to 100 miles per second in the blink of an eye.
Now, maybe you just pushed my nostalgia buttons, or maybe I had a true revelation. Either way it worked. I truly would not be the person I am today without the Dish and all of its incarnations. Regardless of how many times I subscribe and unsubscribe, regardless of how many rage-filled, incoherent emails I send, I will always be forever grateful.
And we’re grateful back. It’s been a long, wild ride. As always, keep the emails and dissents coming: email@example.com.
In The ‘Stacks
Fukuyama: “The New Right Loves the State.”
Jay Caruso dissents over a David French column on gun glorification.
Cafeteria Duty makes the case for news outlets showing photos of dead kids in school shootings. (The Daily Dish did so when it came to war zones.)
Woke racial discrimination has now arrived in criminal sentencing, at least in Canada.
Radley Balko challenges the perception that sub-$950 shoplifting in California is legal.
Freya India shakes her head at the rise of female infidelity in the name of feminism.
Neil Young, the supposed counterculture warrior, gets a smug comeuppance.
Lisa Selin Davis is five episodes deep into her series of talks with heterodox trans people.
The View From Your Window Contest
Where do you think it’s located? Email your guess to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please put the location — city and/or state first, then country — in the subject line. Proximity counts if no one gets the exact spot. Bonus points for fun facts and stories. The deadline for entries is Wednesday night at midnight (PST). The winner gets the choice of a VFYW book or two annual Dish subscriptions. If you are not a subscriber, please indicate that status in your entry and we will give you a free month subscription if we select your entry for the contest results (example here if you’re new to the contest). Happy sleuthing!
The results for this week’s window are coming in a separate email to paid subscribers later today.
See you next Friday.