Benjamin Studebaker

Yet Another Attempt to Make the World a Better Place by Writing Things

Tag: Ben Carson

So Far Trump Has Been No Worse Than Expected–It’s Senate Dems Who are the Problem

Immediately after the election of President Trump, I wrote a post about what Trump was likely to do once in office. Many people this week have seemed surprised by Trump’s executive actions, but they conform remarkably well with what I anticipated. In this post I want to summarize what we’ve seen so far and what it indicates about where things are going.

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What Really Happened on Super Tuesday

Unlike the British press, which openly acknowledges and parades its biases, many American news outlets like to maintain a pretense of objectivity. But this doesn’t mean that they’re objective, it just means that their biases are more insidious. Many media outlets clearly like Hillary Clinton and dislike Donald Trump, and these views have quietly colored their reporting on the presidential race. Last night Bernie Sanders won as many states as Donald Trump lost, but Clintonites will try to paint the democrats’ race as effectively over while anti-Trumpsters will look for excuses to say that the republicans’ race isn’t finished yet. These media narratives are used to give the press’ favorites “momentum”. If the public believes a race is over, it often is, regardless of whether or not the numbers really make it so. So by crowning a nominee (or refusing to crown one), media outlets exercise power to shape the races grounded in their biases. To understand what really happened last night, we have to look at whether candidates are meeting or exceeding their projected paths to their respective nominations.

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Why Anti-Racism and Feminism Aren’t as Popular as They Should Be

Our society has serious issues with race and gender. In the United States, there is a huge race gap in median family wealth:

The gender pay gap isn’t as bad as it used to be, but there’s still work to be done:

To varying degrees similar gaps persist in most other rich countries. There are also all sorts of additional non-economic disparities as a result of race and gender norms. People associate different behaviors and attitudes with different races and genders, often unintentionally as a result of internalized norms and learned habits. These race and gender norms and expectations box people in and limit their individuality. These norms are forms of arbitrary and unjust prejudice and stereotyping. These things seem obviously oppressive and objectionable in principle. Yet when we survey people about their attitudes toward the political movements that exist to oppose these systems of oppression, we find a remarkable amount of hostility. During the Ferguson protests, 53% of American adults believed that most of the protesters were just criminals taking advantage of the situation while only 31% believed the protests resulted from legitimate outrage over the conditions there. When asked to choose between “Black Lives Matter” and the counter-slogan “All Lives Matter”, Americans go with the latter by an 11% to 78% margin. Only 27% of Americans think new laws are needed to address racial discrimination:

Only 20% of Americans consider themselves feminists (including 23% of women and 16% of men). Despite this, 82% say that men and women should be “social, political, and economic equals”. Given that this is the goal of the feminist movement, this cognitive dissonance is troubling. Why are so many people who agree in principle with the goals of the anti-racism and feminist movements declining to support these movements? I have a theory.

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Why Donald Trump is Still Leading

Over the last week, Donald Trump‘s presidential campaign has taken a dark, foreboding tone. First, he discussed with a reporter the possibility that he might watch mosques and consider shutting some of them down:

Well, I would hate to do it [shut down mosques] but it’s something you’re going to have to strongly consider.

I want surveillance of certain mosques if that’s OK. We’ve had it before.

You’re going to have to watch and study the mosques. Because a lot of talk is going on at the mosques…Under the old regime [Bush administration] we had tremendous surveillance going around and in the mosques in New York City.

And then later in the week, Trump suggested that a black lives matter activist who disrupted one of his rallies deserved to be “roughed up”. Perhaps in the coming days we’ll see Trump’s numbers fall, but so far he continues to maintain his lead:

In 2012, 2008, 2004, 2000, or 1996, this stuff would not fly and Trump would be done. What’s going on? Why is he still here?

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The Third Republican Debate and the Tale of the Terrible Tax Plans

In the third republican presidential debate, the moderators gave the candidates a hard time over their tax plans, and the candidates responded by accusing the moderators of being biased. Said Ted Cruz:

The questions that have been asked so far in this debate illustrate why the American people don’t trust the media. This is not a cage match. And, you look at the questions — “Donald Trump, are you a comic-book villain?” “Ben Carson, can you do math?” “John Kasich, will you insult two people over here?” “Marco Rubio, why don’t you resign?” “Jeb Bush, why have your numbers fallen?” How about talking about the substantive issues the people care about? And Carl — Carl, I’m not finished yet. The contrast with the Democratic debate, where every fawning question from the media was, “Which of you is more handsome and wise?”

This was a clever move by Cruz–republican voters have been trained to believe that the media is out to get them, to suspect that whenever the republicans get asked tough questions that the journalists’ claims are exaggerated or even fabricated. He succeeded in distracting the viewing audience from the real story of the third debate–the deeply flawed tax plans laid out by the GOP candidates.

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