America: Politically Correct, and Politically Free


Pew research looks at the level of support for free speech across the globe and finds that it's highest (according to their measure) in the U.S.:

Enshrined in the Bill of Rights, free expression is a bedrock American principle, and Americans tend to express stronger support for free expression than many others around the world. A 38-nation Pew Research Center survey conducted in 2015 found that Americans were among the most supportive of free speech, freedom of the press and the right to use the internet without government censorship.

Moreover, Americans are much more tolerant of offensive speech than people in other nations. For instance, 77% in the U.S. support the right of others to make statements that are offensive to their own religious beliefs, the highest percentage among the nations in the study. Fully 67% think people should be allowed to make public statements that are offensive to minority groups, again the highest percentage in the poll. And the U.S. was one of only three nations where at least half endorse the right to sexually explicit speech. Americans don’t necessarily like offensive speech more than others, but they are much less inclined to outlaw it.

To get a summary measure of support for free expression around the world, we built an index based on five survey questions about free speech and three about free media. Using this measure, Americans emerge as the biggest supporters of free expression among the 38 nations studied. And unlike so many other issues in the U.S., wide open, free-ranging public debate has an appeal across party lines. There are relatively few differences between Democrats, Republicans and independents when it comes to free expression.

However, there are some important generational differences on this issue. For instance, 40% of U.S. Millennials think the government should be able to prevent people from making statements that are offensive to minority groups, compared with 27% of those in Generation X, 24% of Baby Boomers, and just 12% of Silent Generation Americans. Nonwhite respondents (38%) are also more likely to hold this view than whites (23%).

Apart from debates over whether offensive language should be legal, most Americans believe people are just too easily offended nowadays. In a 2016 Pew Research Center survey, 59% agreed with the statement “Too many people are easily offended these days over the language that others use,” while only 39% said “people need to be more careful about the language they use to avoid offending people with different backgrounds.”

Yet another stereotype of American society down the drain. Germans consider America to be the homeland of political correctness, the dastardly censorship of controversial views which is spreading like a virus into German society. This impression, like so many others, is created by selective German news coverage. Most Germans still unthinkingly rely on the mainstream media to decide what it's important to know about the United States.

Which they do, according to their own narrow, nearly-identical criteria, determined by the tastes and preferences of educated urban haute-bourgeois Germans. And they have decided, for reasons which would be interesting to know, that Americans are afflicted by the worst case of political correctness on the globe. Journos pounce on every story showing the excesses of politically-correct scolding in the United States. 

Yet what Pew shows us is that Americans likely have the highest tolerance for offensive speech of anyone in the world.

The problem here is one of definition. Political correctness as a tendency of private persons in civil society to denounce someone's remarks, or Halloween costume, or state flag as offensive. There is a lot of that sort of thing in the United States. And there is certainly some chilling effect on college campuses, which are full of people whose job is essentially to have opinions.

Yet in another way, America is much more free than all other nations on earth. The Constitution and American culture prevent the government from punishing offensive speech to a greater degree than anywhere else. In America, the government cannot pre-emptively stop a newspaper from printing offensive speech, or stolen secret documents. Publications generally cannot be seized after they're printed. Ordinary citizens may advocate violence, deny the Holocaust, use ethnic slurs, and espouse racism without fear of government intervention. (As long as these are words alone -- you can still be punished for actions such as workplace discrimination or bias-motivated hate crimes). You can neither be punished by the government nor sued for money by a private citizen for an insult, not matter how vicious or crude it is. You can protest at the funeral of a soldier with signs which insult "fags" and say "Thank God for Dead Soldiers".


In almost all other countries on earth, any one of these actions or statements could expose you to criminal prosecution by the government or an order to compensate victims with money damages in civil court. Not in the U.S. And, as the Pew survey shows, the majority of Americans approve of this state of affairs. Even millennials, the most PC group of them all, are not clamoring for restrictions on free speech.

So in the United States, if you say something quite rude and non-PC, you may be castigated on Twitter and denounced by your audience.

If you say the same thing in many other countries, you could be hit with a government-imposed fine or civil damages verdict. Perhaps even a prison sentence.

The amount of politically-correct scolding in a country has no relation to the level of genuine freedom of expression. After all, politically-correct scolding is freedom of expression. The U.S. is a hotbed both of political correctness and of free speech.

After Hillary Wins

For those of you interested in the current election, Kevin Drum maps out what will happen after Clinton wins in November, which is now all but a certainty:

  • The Republican Party will completely disown and repudiate Donald Trump....
  • With few other choices around, Paul Ryan becomes the undisputed leader of the Republican Party.
  • After the election Republicans will do their usual "autopsy," and it will say the usual thing: Demographic trends are working against them, and they have to reach out to non-white, non-male voters if they don't want to fade slowly into irrelevance. In the last 25 years, they've won two presidential elections by the barest hair's breadth and lost the other five—and this is only going to get worse in the future.
  • Hillary Clinton will remain the pragmatic dealmaker she is. And despite the current bucketloads of anti-Hillary red meat that Republicans are tossing around right now, most of them trust her to deal honestly when it comes to political bargains.

This means that the next four years depend entirely on Paul Ryan. So what will he do? I maintain that this is a very open, very interesting question.

I've gotten some pushback lately for a couple of posts where I've gone soft on Ryan. But here's the thing: when it comes to Ryan's budget policies, I have nothing but contempt for him. Here's a typical post of mine from a few years ago, and there are plenty more just like it. But it's foolish to insist that simply because someone disagrees with my politics they're either stupid or irredeemably evil. Ryan is neither.

So what will Ryan do? One possibility, of course, is that he'll take the simplest route: endless obstruction, just like 2009. Republicans may be a divided party, but one thing they all agree on is that they hate Hillary Clinton and they want to prevent her from doing anything.

But there's another possibility. Ryan is not a racial fearmonger. He's always been open to immigration reform. He's consistently shown genuine disgust for Donald Trump. He's been open to making low-key deals in the past. He's smart enough to know precisely the depth of the demographic hole Republicans are in. And despite being conservative himself, he may well realize that the GOP simply can't stay in thrall to the tea party caucus forever if it wants to survive....

It's also possible that he wants to run for president in 2020, and if that's the case he'll do better if he has some real accomplishments to show over the next four years. Running on a platform of scorched-earth obstruction might get the tea partiers excited, but that's not enough to win the presidency.

So maybe Ryan decides that now is the time to try to reform the Republican Party. Once he wins the speakership again, he makes clear to the tea partiers that they're finished as power brokers: he's going to pass bills even if it means depending on Democratic support to do it. He reaches out to women and minorities. He passes immigration reform. He makes sure that budgets get passed and we don't default on the national debt. He works behind the scenes with Hillary Clinton in standard horsetrading mode: she gets some things she wants, but only in return for some things conservatives want.

This could go a long way toward making him the next president of the United States. If he plays his cards right, Clinton might suffer with her base for selling them out on some of the deals she makes. Ryan will get the tea partiers under control and have some accomplishments to run on. He'll soften the nonwhite disgust with the party enough to pick up some minority votes. Maybe the economy helps him out by going soft in 2019. And he's already got good looks, youth, and an agreeable speaking style going for him.

So which Paul Ryan will we get in 2017? The movement conservative who breathes fire and insists that Hillary Clinton will never get one red cent for any of her satanic priorities? Or a conservative but realistic leader who's willing to make deals as a way of bringing the Republican Party back from the brink of destruction that Donald Trump has led them to?

The one thing Drum leaves out is that if Ryan takes the pragmatic approach, the Republican party could split into the Chamber of Commerce and Trump/Tea Party factions. The odds against this are still very heavy, since everyone knows that splinter parties quickly fade into irrelevance in America's two-party, first-past-the-post system.

But if each splinter party believes it has a genuine chance of winning (i.e., taking over a 'reconstituted' Republic Party after the civil war), they might just do it. And if that happens, all bets are off. There would surely be a push to change the American political system to make it more friendly to smaller parties.

However, this would be considered a radical change. Further, the American constitutional system would have to be changed to create a genuine Parliamentary system, and there's zero support for that. But the US system could easily be made more flexible right now, as 2004 candidate Howard Dean explained in a recent New York Times editorial:

It’s as easy as 1-2-3. Voters have the option to rank the candidates from first to last, and any candidate with a majority of first choices wins, just as in any other election. But if no candidate has a majority, you hold an “instant runoff” tally in order to compare the top two candidates head to head. Candidates in last place are eliminated, and their backers’ votes are counted for their next choice. When it’s down to two, the winner earns a majority of the vote.

.... Ranked-choice voting represents the latter — and better — approach. Voters can support their favorites while still voting effectively against their least favorite. Having more competition encourages better dialogue on issues. Civility is substantially improved. Needing to reach out to more voters leads candidates to reduce personal attacks and govern more inclusively.

Some critics suggest it’s a crutch for independents and minor parties because they can compete without being spoilers and may earn invitations to more debates. Others suggest it’s a trick to make it harder for third parties to win. But the reality is that everyone would need to accept the challenge of being responsive to more voters. That’s a challenge that many major party backers like me are eager to embrace.

This would enable a kind of strategic voting in American elections. It would also foster a sort of coalition-building process during the election, as candidates who can't get a majority of first-place votes reach out to other parties for second-place votes. Whether this would genuinely improve civility remains to be seen. I actually think it might, and would support it.

There's More Routine Political Violence In Germany than in the USA

A Republican Party office in Orange County, North Carolina, was firebombed, and the attackers sprayed graffiti calling on 'Nazi Republicans' to leave. This was considered so unusual and ominous in the USA that it made national headlines. And it comes during what is unquestionably the most divisive and emotional Presidential campaign in modern history. Hillary Clinton responded:

Yet political violence of this sort of thing happens every single day in Germany. Members and employees of the right-wing AfD have been shot at (g), beaten (g), and targeted with demonstrations blockading the entrance to their own homes "mourning" their deaths (g). The AfD has created a central registry (g) of criminal attacks against its members and employees. The car owned by the chairwoman of the AfD was destroyed in an arson attack (g). Both right-wing (g, in Dresden) and left-wing (g, in Berlin) hooligans rampage through the center of large German cities, attacking people and things they associate with their political enemies, causing millions of Euros in damage. The offices of the left-wing Die Linke party have been attacked hundreds of times (g). Attacks on police officers in Germany are rising steadily (g) and becoming a problem for recruitment (g).

Of course, there have been riots, looting, and fatal shootings in the US related to protests against police violence. Once again, the disastrous consequences of the large number of guns circulating in the US can be seen. But aside from these spectacular incidents, the level of routine politically-motivated property damage and physical attacks is probably higher in Germany than in the United States. Just as the overall level of violent crime in Germany is higher than in the US.

Germany is not on the brink of collapse, and serious injury or death from these events is extremely rare. But the notion that Germany is an Arcadia of reasoned discourse while the US is a Wild West nightmare of flying bullets -- an assumption that underpins much German reporting -- is false.

UPDATE -- A Massachusetts Democrat started a Gofundme page to repair the burned Republican field office and raised $13,000 from fellow Democrats within hours.

German Immigration Policy is Extreme, Vol. XXII

The point can't be made often enough: Germany's immigration policy is extreme and irresponsible. 

Letting hundreds of thousands of able-bodied young males from the world's most violent and unstable areas into your country is extreme and irresponsible.

Not subjecting them to background or security checks is extreme and irresponsible.

Allowing thousands people with obviously fraudulent passports (g) to enter your country is extreme and irresponsible. Over 2200 people entered Germany with fraudulent passports. Although this is a crime with a sentence of up to 5 years in Germany and presumptively disqualifies you from claiming asylum, nothing was done.

And now for a look at a non-extreme policy. Here's an excerpt from the second US Presidential debate in which Hillary Clinton explains her proposal to permit 65,000 refugees from the Syrian civil war to relocate to the US:

Well, first of all I will not let anyone into our country that I think poses a risk to us. But there are a lot of refugees - women and children - think of that picture we also that four-year-old boy with the blood on his forehead because he'd been bombed by the Russian and Syrian air forces. There are children suffering in this catastrophic war, largely I believe, because of Russian aggression. And we need to do our part. We by no means are carrying anywhere near the load that Europe and others are.

But we will have vetting that is as tough as it needs to be from our professionals, our intelligence experts, and others.

The point is not whether you agree with this plan, or whether you think Clinton will do it right. The point is that this is the center-left position on refugee relocation -- women and children first, and strict security checks. A policy that balances humanitarian refuge with the legitimate interest in protecting domestic security.

The German government, by contrast, followed (and is still somewhat following) a kind of extreme left, open-borders, masochistic policy. It has intentionally refused to balance security with humanitarian imperatives, instead deciding to allow hundreds of thousands of random strangers into its country with no background checks at all, despite blatant evidence of fraud and concealment. The recent revelation that a 22-year-old Syrian male "refugee" was an ISIS operative who planned to bomb a German airport is only the latest evidence of how this policy has increased risks for ordinary Germans.

This is the necessary context to understanding why support for Merkel's party is dropping and the right-wing AfD party is increasing. Merkel, for reasons historians will speculate about forever, abandoned the sensible center-left consensus on this issue embodied by Clinton and instead chose an extreme-left policy which no other nation on earth thinks is responsible.

43% of Criminals in Hamburg...; or Why Germans Are So Ignorant About Crime in Their Country

Much debate in Germany revolves around the question of whether foreigners commit more crimes than Germans. Whenever this subject comes in mainstream German television talk shows, the responses fall into four predictable categories:

  • Those on the center-left (and everyone to the left of them) get up on their hind legs and immediately start lobbing rhetorical smoke-bombs about "over-generalizations" and "stoking prejudice" and "doing a disservice to the millions of hard-working...", etc.
  • Those on the far right consider all immigrants potential criminals, but hardly care, since they would oppose even the most law-abiding immigrants because they want to keep Germany Deutsch. However, their views don't really matter, since people this far right are never given a chance to air their views on mass media.
  • Those on the center-right do occasionally mention statistics, but are too afraid of being labeled xenophobic to say anything specific. They quickly revert to waffle about "criminal structures", "inadequate integration", "challenging and supporting", etc.
  • Those on the right (including the AfD, which contrary to common belief does not (g, pdf) oppose all immigration) say what the numbers show: that foreigners are over-represented in crime statistics. Representatives of this political tendency were almost never invited onto German talk shows until the rise of the AfD made this inevitable. Aside from the AfD, the only other talk-show guests who mention this are are representatives of the Hungarian or Polish or Czech governments who are invited to be the ceremonial punching bag of everyone else on the show, including the moderator.

These programmed responses and euphemisms make informed debate on this issue nearly impossible. One by-product is that most Germans have no idea that foreigners are vastly over-represented in German crime statistics. Dozens of times, I pointed this fact out in class, only to be challenged by students who didn't believe the numbers, some accusing me of "peddling right-wing propaganda". Needless to say, all of the students were keenly aware that blacks are over-represented in American prisons relative to their numbers in the population. Yet they had no idea the same thing was happening in their own country.

So now, in the service of just plain information, a story that appeared in the Hamburger Abendblatt newspaper a few weeks ago, then quickly fell down the memory hole. The report was based on a confidential police report leaked to the newspaper. The story appears to be pay-walled, but a confidential source furnished me with the paper originals at a 4 AM meeting in an abandoned parking garage, in return for guarantees of confidentiality and a substantial cash payment. I can now reveal the following statistics:

  • In the first half of 2106, Hamburg police investigated 38,000 criminal suspects.
  • Of these, 16,600, or 43%, did not have German nationality.
  • 3882 suspects, or 9.5% of the total, were "refugees" (that is, recent migrants)
  • These numbers do not reflect offenses merely against immigration laws, those were removed from the calculation to avoid distortion.
  • In all of 2015, Hamburg authorities investigated 68,868 criminal suspects, of which 28,400 (41 percent) were foreigners.
  • The crimes most often committed by refugees were assault (1014 cases). Refugees were also responsible for 30.6% of all thefts and 27.5% of all drug smuggling and distribution offenses.
  • Refugees also committed 18.2% of all cases of "sexual insult" and 18.9% of all more serious sexual offenses. A majority of these cases resulted from New Years' Eve in Hamburg.

There are currently about 25,000 refugees in Hamburg, out of a population of 1,814,597 (g) million. So refugees are 1.37% of the population. But it sure looks like they are committing crimes way out of proportion to the raw numbers.

We can't say exactly how over-represented refugees are among criminals in Hamburg, since it's entirely possible a single refugee enriched the crime stats with 7 pickpocketings, 3 simple assaults, and one sexual assault. This is known to police and criminologists as the 80/20 rule of thumb: 80 percent of all crimes are committed by 20% of the people; 80% of all police calls are to the most unruly 20% of the city, etc.

Without a detailed breakdown of the identity of the offenders, we can't know for certain just how disproportionate the rate of crime among refugees is. And of course cops and politicians will use this gap in the knowledge -- which they themselves created -- to constantly muddle the issue: "This doesn't necessarily mean refugees are more criminal, because it just might be a small number of refugees committing most of these crimes." Kind of like the boy who killed his parents and threw himself on the mercy of the court as an orphan. This also raises the question of why Germany imported these one-man crime waves and allows them to stay, but those are questions for another post.

It should also be remembered that there is some unknown number of people who have German citizenship, and are thus accounted for as German nationals, but were not born in Germany. German authorities intentionally fail to keep records on these numbers, but they're probably at least another 15-20% of criminals.

So, to sum up, here are a few : Most immigrants aren't criminals, but most criminals are immigrants, or were not born in Germany. Most immigrants are law-abiding, but immigrants as a whole commit crimes at a much higher rate than Germans.

See, now you know the truth. Let it set you free!

Junkies to the Right of me, Dealers to the Left


Underneath the central train station in Frankfurt am Main is a large network of underground passageways lined with shops. It's ugly, but it lets you navigate to the various parts of this massive central transportation hub without crossing the busy streets which surround the central station.

And now, as the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reports (g), it's home to gangs of drug dealers, mostly young males from North Africa who "arrived with the stream of refugees". They hang around in small groups, openly offering and selling marijuana, crack, heroin, and pills. With them, of course, come the junkies, who sometimes shoot up in crevices and under stairways, in view of passers-by.

The police no longer bother to arrest them, since simple drug dealing is not a jailable offense in Germany, and they're back later the same day. The fact that these are illegal immigrants committing crimes on German soil in a highly public place means nothing, since drug dealing does not affect their asylum applications. Of course, the vast majority of these applications are frivolous, but they will take years to decide anyway. And, of course, won't result in actual deportation even if the asylum application is rejected.

This is all happening in literally one of the busiest transport hubs in the world, used by 450,000 (g) people every day. Which means every day, probably hundreds of parents have to come up with answers to questions from their curious children: What's wrong with that man? What' sticking out of that woman's arm? What's 'grass'? And thousands of foreigners get their first impression of the financial capital of Europe as a place where the state is so disorganized or bankrupt or weak that it can't even stop a drug market in the heart of the city.

And, of course, thousands of Germans commuters will ask why their elected representatives and their legal system can't seem to stop this humiliating spectacle. They live in a heavily-regulated society which has red-light cameras to detect traffic violations, requires an ever-increasing number of special permits which motorists must buy to drive various places, and has teams of roving enforcers making sure mom-and-pop shop owners don't play the radio without paying royalty fees.

But this state cannot prevent people who are not even legally in the country from openly dealing drugs and ruining yet another public place.

I find it hard to blame more and more Germans for voting for the only political party to bluntly say: "This is unacceptable and must stop immediately, and if that requires changes to the law and to our funding priorities and especially to our immigration policies, the time to start with those changes was yesterday." What mainstream opinion denounces with that tiresome cliche "populism" sounds like common sense to more and more Germans. The AfD is quickly catching up with the rapidly-imploding Social Democratic Party.

Americans are familiar with cities like Frankfurt going to hell in a handbasket, 'cause we watched it happen to New York on our TV sets: "New York City is depicted as a dysfunctional, crime-plagued, vermin-infested, smog-choked, polluted, grimy, sleazy, seedy, corrupt, racially-divided, poverty-ridden, morally-and-financially-bankrupt Wretched Hive filled with Apathetic Citizens, hostile jerkasses, violent psychotics, drug addicts, deviants, a crumbling infrastructure, and not enough parking spots."

Unless there's a big change, many of these German citizens (and not just the ethnic Germans) will turn their back on the decaying, increasingly lawless public sphere by sealing themselves off in gated communities and secure apartment blocks, putting their children in private schools, and buying a car.

Germans, to escape all this, will begin living like Americans. Just look up the phrase "white flight".

Thefts in German Trains and Stations up 25% from 2014 to 2015

German authorities have just released data showing a 25% increase (g) in thefts in German trains and train stations from 2014 to 2015, from 35,800 to 44,800 cases. Even the 2014 number, 35,800, represented a 20% increase from 2013. The authorities blame foreign organized-crime gangs.

You know who this affects? Every able-bodied person in Germany. Millions of Germans use trains every day, and therefore have to enter into areas where thieves are increasingly active, and the government is powerless to stop them. The police can do nothing but issue helpless-sounding tips on how to avoid being targeted.

Another communal public amenity which Germans must use becoming increasingly dangerous, another Nice Thing gone, another data point showing the gradual -- in this case, not so gradual -- decline in living standards in Germany.

Drip, drip, drip.

A lot of Germans are going to ask the perfectly reasonable question: "Why can't our government stop foreign criminal gangs coming into our country to rob us?"

And getting no straight answer from any party except The Irresponsible Populists.

Nuts and Rocks: The Right Analogy About Immigrants and Crime

As German news sources repeat over and over, the German FBI, the Bundeskriminalamt (BKA), has insisted that migrants are no more violent than "comparable" Germans, although there is never any detailed information about what the BKA considers "comparable" in the news reports. In any event the BKA report for the beginning of 2016 recorded 69,000 (g) attempted and completed crimes by foreigners, mostly theft and fraud.

Is this a problem? It depends on your perspective. If you think Germany has an obligation to offer a new life to millions of randomly-selected people from around the world, then you'll argue that some extra crime is to be expected, and we'd do best simply to ignore it.

The other perspective would be that Germany should proactively screen out as many criminals as possible. This is nowhere near as hard as people make it out to be. We have lots of information about what predisposes someone to crime. Past criminal history, low IQ, low impulse control, low levels of education, status of being a young male. Everyone who seeks to enter Germany without an existing job offer or university acceptance should have to provide detailed information and complete a series of tests.

Immigration into another foreign country is not a human right, except for refugees (and even refugees have a right only to locate to the first country in which they are no longer persecuted. The rest is migration). Countries are free to place whatever restrictions they choose on who gets to enter their country.

Germany is more stable, prosperous, safe, orderly, and humane than 95% of nations on earth. This leads to two conclusions. First, Germany has a lot of leverage, because tens of millions of people want to come live here. Second, Germany has a lot to lose, because letting in (1) large numbers of (2) the wrong kind of people could damage Germany's stability. As the German Social Democratic jurist Ernst-Wolfgang Böckenförde once said (pdf), "The liberal, secularized state is nourished by presuppositions that it cannot itself guarantee." Import enough people who don't share those presuppositions and you import social conflict.

This is why I say the ideal crime rate among immigrants is 0%. That is, Germany should aim to import people who are less likely to commit violent crimes than "organic Germans", to use the phrase which has popped up in Germany lately (bio-Deutsche). We'll never get to 0%, of course, but that should be the goal. We can certainly eliminate 80% of violent crime by migrants by not allowing in any uneducated, low-IQ young males.

The right analogy, in my view, is nuts and rocks. Here's my argument. When you harvest nuts, a certain number of small nut-shaped rocks enter the hoppers. If you bite down on a rock thinking it's a cashew, you may well lose a tooth, or more. In fact, this is one of the main sources of business for personal-injury lawyers. These days, food companies have gotten very, very good at removing rocks from nuts before they reach the consumer. 

Why? Because society has determined, by regulation and lawsuit, that the ideal number of rocks in nuts is 0%. Society decided 1 rock in 1,000 nuts is too much. In fact, 1 in a million is too much. Because if you're the person who bites into that 1 rock among a million nuts, you have suffered a serious, preventable, totally unnecessary injury. Nobody -- not even food packaging companies -- will argue that even 1 rock in a million nuts is an acceptable risk. Because it isn't.

This is the analogy we should use for migrant crime. Germany doesn't have to let any migrants into its borders, except those recognized refugees who flee directly to Germany without transiting a country in which they would be safe. Immigration is a voluntary choice by the receiving country. Allowing immigration is, in theological terms, supererogatory. 

Therefore, any serious crime committed by an immigrant is analogous to a rock among the nuts. It didn't have to happen. It could have been prevented. It's not simply an inevitable fact of life we must all accept. Crime by your fellow-countrymen is. This is why no country allows you to sue the police or the government for personal damages simply for not preventing a crime which happened to you. Not even if they had advance warning you were at risk. If the rule were otherwise, the courts would drown in litigation.

But I think the policy should be different for crime committed by immigrants. These crimes, unlike crimes committed by natives, are not simply part of the background radiation of risk we face. They happened in Germany, to you, only because the German government failed to responsibly screen immigrants. The German government let in a rock among the nuts. And trust me, it's letting in far more than 1 in a million.

We should strike to ensure the number of rocks among nuts in our supermarkets is 0.

We should also strive to make sure the number of serious violent criminals among immigrants to our country is 0.

We'll never get all the way there, but the goal should be clear: 0.

Trump the Narcissist is Moving on to Another Bright, Shiny Object

Now the conventions are over, and low-information voters begin actually paying attention to the Presidential candidates. The tiny cadre of activists who voted in the primaries are now swamped by the much larger group of people who pay no attention to politics except occasionally bothering to vote for President every four years.

They're taking their first look at Trump, and they're not liking what they see:

The first batch of top line numbers are in, and they show Hillary Clinton pulling away from the narrow lead she had over Trump going into last month’s conventions. Her lead, in polls taken in the last few days, varies from three to nine percentage points, depending on which poll you’re looking at.

The challenge now for Trump is cutting into the major deficits he is facing among certain groups where he trails not just Clinton, but Mitt Romney’s levels in 2012: groups like college-educated voters, which Romney won by 4 percentage points in exit polls, but where Trump is now losing in the double digits, according to a new CNN/ORC poll. Trump will also likely need to improve his leads among groups where he is already outperforming past Republicans....

But Trump is also alienating college-educated voters, a group Republicans in the past were able to woo. Trump was behind by three percentage points among voters with a bachelor's degree, who prefer Clinton 44 percent to 41 percent, according to a Morning Consult poll taken in the two days following the DNC. In 2012, Romney beat Obama among college-educated voters 51 percent to 47 percent in the exits.

Trump’s problems with women voters -- who make up a majority of the electorate -- are also increasing the ground he’ll need to cover just to match Romney. Clinton’s lead with women voters is 13 percentage points in the CNN/ORC poll, which is greater than Obama’s 11 percentage point exit poll lead over Romney in 2012.... The CNN/ORC poll finds Clinton leading in this group by 3 percentage points, but there, Trump trounces her 60 percent to 34 percent among non-college educated white voters.

Trump is an exciting outsider candidate who has broken many of the rules which people thought governed American elections. If he had more charisma and better judgment, he could pose a genuine threat to Clinton. But Donald Trump is simply an asshole, subspecies blunt, brash, rich, nasal-voiced, arrogant New York asshole. He always has been and always will be. Americans don't like assholes, and the 310 million of them who don't live in New York don't like New York assholes.

There are intelligent people who support Trump. But many of them are falling victim to what I call the pissing-off-the-right-people fallacy, for lack of a better phrase. This is the tendency to support Person X because X angers and annoys people you believe deserve to be angered and annoyed, despite the fact that X's own ideas and character are obviously deficient. "The key thing is he's made the right enemies!" Or the German version, Viel Feind viel Ehr (many enemies, much honor).

This is why Milo Yiannopoulis and his ilk don't impress me. His shenanigans are enjoyable, and he does make valid points about the stifling effects of political correctness. But just because he sometimes POTRP doesn't mean his political judgment in general is reliable. And indeed, his support of Trump shows he has the political judgment of a rent-boy. A jest I can make about Milo because who's he to complain?

Trump has relied on the POTRP effect to run up huge majorities among lesser-educated white voters, but there still aren't enough of those to win an election. Barring some twist of fate, Trump has no chance. So now he's trying another tack: claiming the election will be rigged:

Hannity, Aug. 1: "You said at a speech today you’re afraid this election is going to be rigged. Explain."

Trump: "Yeah. Well, I’ve been — I’ve been hearing about it for a long time. And I know last time, there were — you had precincts where there were practically nobody voting for the Republican. And I think that’s wrong. I think that was unfair, frankly, than Mitt Romney. You had areas where a lot of people were curious, 'How is that possible?' "

"… and I’m telling you, November 8th, we’d better be careful, because that election is going to be rigged. And I hope the Republicans are watching closely, or it’s going to be taken away from us."

This is what happens when things stop going a narcissist's way: they invent excuses, stage a diversion, complain about the rules, and if all else fails, take their ball and go home. Take it away, Mayo Clinic:

Narcissistic personality disorder is a mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for admiration and a lack of empathy for others. But behind this mask of ultraconfidence lies a fragile self-esteem that's vulnerable to the slightest criticism.

A narcissistic personality disorder causes problems in many areas of life, such as relationships, work, school or financial affairs. You may be generally unhappy and disappointed when you're not given the special favors or admiration you believe you deserve. Others may not enjoy being around you, and you may find your relationships unfulfilling.
Implying that an election will be rigged can be a threat to democracy. It won't bring down the USA, because America's institutions are too strong. But it is irresponsible and dangerous. That's typical of narcissists: when things stop going their way, they stage a tantrum and don't care how much damage they inflict, as long as they somehow manage to reclaim the spotlight.
Now of course there was a candidate in this election cycle who also promised dramatic change, attacked elites, and as a bonus wasn't pathological: Bernie Sanders. Someone who had spent his adult life working to improve the lot of working-class Americans, and is also a genuinely decent, responsible person, as is shown by his decision to enthusiastically support Clinton. He did, however, open up the American political landscape, showing there is huge support for policies and programs that elites considered far outside the Overton window. I hope he stays in the spotlight. 

Enjoying a Casual Afternoon Stroll, Erect Member in Hand


And while we're on the subject, thanks -- I guess -- to commenter Sandro for a link to this Swedish news story from 26 July. This man, according to locals an asylum-seeker from a nearby hostel, approached a 5- or 6-year old child in central Rättvik, Sweden, pulled out his penis, and began masturbating. The father chased the man away with a steel bar. The man apparently wandered around afterward, penis exposed, masturbating, and didn't stop even when someone pointed a camera at him and took pictures. Eventually the police arrested him.

At the risk of belaboring the obvious, this behavior is staggeringly abnormal. There are streakers and flashers and peeping toms in any society, certainly including Sweden. They're virtually all male, of course. But even those people know what they are doing is wrong. They try to limit their period of exposure, so to speak, so they won't be caught. Their behavior certainly indicates bizarre sexual urges, but it doesn't indicate a total break with reality, or complete ignorance (or defiance) of social convention. Walking around a crowded city center in broad daylight masturbating is far beyond flashing. It invariably signals some sort of profound mental disturbance.

The chances of this man ever contributing anything positive to Swedish society are, shall we say, not very encouraging. It should also cast doubt on his asylum claim, for several reasons. First, the UN Refugee Convention specifies that asylum-seekers and refugees are obliged to follow the laws of the country which gives them refuge. Second, if this man has claimed that he fears persecution in his native country, maybe it's because he masturbated in front of children there. Political asylum is meant for people who face unjust persecution, not for those whose activity is blameworthy and criminal.