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Archive for April 6th, 2017

Gottman Institute’s observations on relationships

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From the “About” page at Gottman.com:

In the beginning, Dr. John Gottman’s research was devoted to the discovery of reliable patterns in observational data. He wanted to see if there were indeed patterns of behavior, or sequences of interactions, that could discriminate happy from unhappy couples. It was not at all clear that these patterns existed. Dr. Gottman and his colleagues began developing the math for sequential analysis, which now is a well developed methodology. They began discovering consistent sequences that differentiated happily married from unhappily married couples, which Dr. Gottman wrote about in a book called Marital Interactions: Experimental Investigations.

In the 1970’s, systematic observation of couples started in the Gottman lab. Psychology at that time was having a great deal of difficulty establishing reliable patterns in the personality of one individual. Advice suggested that psychologists should not study couples, because the unreliability in studying one person might be squared in studying two people. That advice was wrong. Dr. Gottman showed that there was tremendous regularity in a couple over time.

In a series of research studies, Dr. Gottman developed new observational coding systems with his colleagues, and the lab applied brand new methods for studying sequences of interaction. They built a device called a “talk table,” in which people could interact and also rate how positive or negative their intentions were and how positive or negative were the impacts of the messages they received.

In 1975, Robert Levenson and John Gottman teamed up to combine the study of emotion with psycho-physiological measurement and a video-recall method that gave them rating dial measures of how people felt during conflict. They discovered Paul Ekman and Wallace Friesen’s Facial Affect Coding System (FACS), and Dr. Gottman subsequently developed the Specific Affect Coding System (SPAFF).

Dr. Gottman began applying time-series analysis to the analysis of interaction data. He wrote a book on time-series analysis to explain these methods to psychologists, and developed some new methods for analyzing dominance and bidirectionality with his colleagues. In 1980, Dr. Gottman and Levenson received their first grant together and began attempting to replicate their observations from their first study.

The Gottman lab at the University of Illinois also studied the linkages between marital interaction, parenting, and children’s social development (with Lynn Katz), and later at the University of Washington involved studying these linkages with infants (with Alyson Shapiro). Learn more about the research on parenting.

Gottman and Levenson discovered that couples interaction had enormous stability over time (about 80% stability in conflict discussions separated by 3 years). They also discovered that most relationship problems (69%) never get resolved but are “perpetual” problems based on personality differences between partners. Learn more about the research on marriage and couples.

In seven longitudinal studies, one with violent couples (with Neil Jacobson), the predictions replicated. They could predict whether a couple would divorce with an average of over 90% accuracy, across studies using the ratio of positive to negative SPAFF codes, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (Criticism, Defensiveness, Contempt, and Stonewalling), physiology, the rating dial, and an interview they devised called the Oral History Interview.

In 1986, John Gottman and his colleagues built an apartment laboratory at the University of Washington that was dubbed the “Love Lab” by the media. This is where they discovered the basis of friendship and intimacy and its relation to conflict in their Bids and Turning Coding System. With that work they discovered how couples create and maintain friendship and intimacy and how it’s related to conflict.

When 14-year longitudinal data became available Levenson & Gottman discovered a second dysfunctional pattern, emotional disengagement. It was marked by the absence of positive affect during conflict (no interest, affection, humor, or empathy). Now they could predict not only if a couple would divorce, but when. Couples who had the Four Horsemen divorced an average of 5.6 years after the wedding, while emotionally disengaged couples divorced an average of 16.2 years after the wedding.

Levenson and Gottman also conducted a 12-year study of gay and lesbian couples, work they published in two papers in the Journal of Homosexuality. Learn more about the research on same-sex couples.

In 1994, Dr. Gottman began working with his wife, clinical psychologist Dr. Julie Schwartz-Gottman, developing the Sound Relationship House (SRH) theory and interventions based on John’s research. Together, they designed both proximal and distal change studies. In a proximal change study, one intervenes briefly with interventions designed only to make the 2nd of two conflict discussions less divorce prone. In one of these studies they discovered that a 20-minute break in which couples stopped talking and just reading magazines (as their heart rates returned to baseline) dramatically changed the discussion so that people had access to their sense of humor and affection.

In 1996, Drs. Julie and John Gottman co-founded The Gottman Institute to bring this research to the world. We are committed to an ongoing program of research that increases the understanding of relationships and adds to the development of interventions that have been carefully evaluated. Read more about our mission.

Written by LeisureGuy

6 April 2017 at 5:56 pm

Posted in Daily life, Science

Why White Parents Won’t Choose Black Schools

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Abby Norman writes at the Huffington Post:

Last year when I attempted to pick my daughter up from school, the volunteers in the carpool line tried to put a fourth grader in my car, not the four year old I was attempting to retrieve. Both of us were vehemently shaking our heads, both of us looked totally confused, but the man with the radio would not be deterred. There are only a handful of white kids at my daughter’s school, and only two of them are car-riders. One of them gets picked up by her mom, the other, her dad. This white girl went with the white mom, and I was a white mom. This must be the right van.

This slightly awkward, but hilarious interaction strikes at the heart of the change in our neighborhood. While we were once one of the only white people in the neighborhood, most of the abandoned houses are now snapped up and fixed up by young white couples, often with kids. Those kids don’t go to our school.

Though my daughter is not the only white kindergartner in my neighborhood, she is the only white kindergartner in her class. My new neighbors, ones who come into the neighborhood raving about how much they love it, do not send their kids to the school. While they love my neighborhood, they do not love my school.

A friend and I were recently chatting about her move to the neighborhood next to mine. I was surprised that she didn’t even look across the dividing line road we live about two blocks from. She shrugged her shoulders, “yeah, I really like your house but our real estate agent said we shouldn’t even look there because of the schools.” Because of the schools. The school I send my daughter to. She did not look at the houses with more square footage and a smaller price tag because someone who has never been in the school doesn’t find it suitable.

This summer, when I told the other moms at the pool where my kids went to school, I was repeatedly told to move them. This from women who had never ever set foot in my school. They had not had contact with our deeply passionate, and very responsive principal, had not met the Pre-K teachers who my daughter loves more than Santa. They had not toured the various science labs, or listened as their child talked incessantly about robotics. They don’t know that every Tuesday, Juliet comes home with a new Spanish song to sing and bothers me until I look up the colors in Spanish if I can’t remember them from high school. Juliet loves her school. Her mother, a teacher at a suburban school, and her father, a PhD candidate at the state university, both find the school completely acceptable, more than acceptable. We love it, too.

But my neighbors will not send their kids there and my friends won’t even move into the neighborhood. They will whisper about it. They will tell their friends not to go there. They will even tell a stranger that she should move her kids immediately as they both wait for their children to come down the water slide. But they will not give the neighborhood school a chance. They will even go to great lengths to avoid the neighborhood school.

In July, through the neighborhood list serve I got invited to attend the charter school exploration meeting. A group of parents were attempting to start a charter school to center on diversity. They wanted a Spanish program and a principal that was very invested in the neighborhood. After inquiring I discovered the local elementary school had not even been contacted. The one with a principal who left his high profile high school job and came back to his neighborhood to an elementary school where he immediately implemented a Spanish language program. Before starting their own charter school, not one person had bothered even contacting the school already in existence. The school that has made huge strides, and could do even better with some parents who had this kind of time and know how. No one was interested in the school of the neighborhood.

The same people who were questioning the school I picked for my girls and starting their own charter school, wanted to talk to me about the This American Life Podcast about segregated schools. They wanted to talk to me about things I already knew. Our schools are more segregated than they have ever been. Our educational system is deeply inequitable. Things are only getting worse. They shook their concerned liberal heads in sadness wondering what they could do. Then they made sure their child got into the very white, pretty affluent charter school that is not representative of their neighborhood. When one didn’t exist, they took their resources and began creating one.

When I am able to move past the anger, the frustration that people are talking about a school they know nothing about, I listen to what they say. Behind all the test score talk, the opportunity mumbo jumbo that people lead with, I feel like what is actually being said, and what is never being said is this: That school is too black.

The people who are moving into my neighborhood want their children to have a diverse upbringing, but not too diverse. They still want a white school, just with other non-white children also participating. They want to go to the Christmas pageant and not have their white sensibilities violated because the other parents are too loud and boisterous and it makes them uncomfortable, for really no good reason. They don’t want their kid to notice her whiteness in Pre-k and then find out while addressing that question, that while they already own great books about diversity, the only children’s books specifically about whiteness are published by the KKK. They don’t want their child to ask them why Quintavious’s sister says she doesn’t like white people. They don’t want to have to wonder when the teacher calls, if they are getting extra attention because white parents are often perceived as overbearing. They want diversity, just not too much.

And I get it. I do. It is hard to not always be comfortable in a place you had once thought of as completely familiar. It is weird when you and your child have some different cultural touchstones that you thought of as universal but are actually white (I am looking at you, birthday song.) It is kind of tricky to explain MLK day and black history month to a kindergartner who is the only one in her class that looks like the oppressor, the only kid that has benefited from the oppression being exposed. It is just way easier for white kids to talk about black history at a white school.

But why are we choosing easier and comfortable? White people get to be comfortable in most of American society. It took me until I was an adult to be somewhere white feelings were not centered. That stripping of privilege felt awful and unfair, even when it wasn’t. My kids already know what that is like.

It is a gift for my kids to learn in an environment where their experiences are not the experiences of the majority of the kids in the room. Amidst the discomfort, the worrying about what to tell my kid when she asks complicated questions about race in her simple vocabulary, I have found so many gifts. . .

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Written by LeisureGuy

6 April 2017 at 5:42 pm

Posted in Daily life, Education

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Convicted scammer creates federal PACs from prison: he can’t vote, but can seek campaign cash

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At the Center for Public Integrity, Rachel Wilson reports how the PAC laws need to be tightened:

Angelo Pesce is serving a 10-year prison sentence in Illinois for “theft by deception.” While behind bars, he’s barred from voting.

But that hasn’t stopped Pesce from apparently creating “Impeach the Assole” — a crudely named federal political action committee formed last week to raise political campaign cash — and another dubbed “Angelo Pesce Defends Pedophiles.”

No federal law prevents Pesce from forming a PAC or soliciting money for it. And he doesn’t have to tell unsuspecting donors he’s an inmate at Taylorville Correctional Center, having scammed a woman out of nearly $100,000.

Pesce’s situation is the latest reminder of a nagging problem with political committees: While most PACs follow the rules, there are few safeguards against hucksters looking to make a buck.

With some PACs, “people donating think it’s a legitimate organization, but sometimes the creators take your money and run,” said Brett Kappel, a Washington, D.C., campaign finance lawyer.

“There is no rule that a PAC is barred from buying a boat and riding off into the sunset,” added Brendan Fischer, associate counsel at the Campaign Legal Center.

As a practical matter, that makes it close to impossible for a misled political donor to recover his or her money.

A message the Center for Public Integrity sent to an email address Pesce provided in paperwork filed with the Federal Election Commission was not returned. The prison where he’s an inmate doesn’t allow reporters to contact inmates by phone unless they appear on a pre-approved list.

Creating a federal political committee is relatively simple: just fill out a few forms and submit them to the FEC. . .

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Written by LeisureGuy

6 April 2017 at 3:03 pm

County prosecutors leaning hard on Arizona governor to veto civil forfeiture bill

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Prosecutors and police absolutely love the idea that they can rob you if they want to, even if you have done nothing criminal. Howare Fischer reports for the Arizona Capitol Times:

Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery is asking Gov. Doug Ducey to veto legislation to make it more difficult for him and other prosecutors to seize property unless changes are made in the measure.

And the governor said he is listening.

The governor, for his part, said he wants to see some sort of legislation.

“I think this is an area of law in need of reform,” Ducey said.

But Ducey said he is getting lobbied by prosecutors to quash the measure if it arrives on his desk in its current form. And he would not say whether he is willing to sign this legislation which was approved unanimously by both the House and Senate.

“I’ve heard from people I respect on both sides who I think are making very significant points,” the governor said.

Montgomery said on Tuesday he does not believe it is necessary to change the law so that a judge would have to find there is “clear and convincing evidence” that the cash or property a prosecutor wants to take is linked to a crime before it must be forfeited to the state. He said the entire controversy has been “generated by groups on the right who have also used it for fundraising.”

The county attorney said there’s nothing wrong with the current “preponderance of the evidence” standard, even though that is far easier to prove. Some proponents of the change said the higher standard is appropriate, especially as there is no requirement of prosecutors to actually charge anyone with a crime.

“That’s usually from very narrow minds who couldn’t understand that the entire focus of a process like this is on the property, not the person,” Montgomery said, with the laws designed to deprive criminals and their organizations of their assets versus locking someone up. He said that’s why the standard of proof is different.

“Some of these pretend conservative organizations usually understand the difference between criminal courts and civil courts,” he said.

Montgomery did not name names. But the legislation was supported by a broad spectrum of groups, ranging from the American Civil Liberties Union to the Free Enterprise Club, the Institute for Justice, the Goldwater Institute and Americans for Prosperity.

“But they’ve somehow forgotten it when it came to this issue,” he said.

Despite those complaints, Montgomery insisted the real reason he wants a veto is because HB 2477 would give each county’s board of supervisors the power to approve — or veto — how the proceeds are spent. And worse yet from his perspective is that the supervisors could hire another attorney to advise them on how the elected county attorney should be spending the cash.

Rep. Eddie Farnsworth, R-Gilbert, who crafted the legislation, sniffed at Montgomery’s objections to the oversight. He said that’s the purpose of the elected supervisors who control the county budget.

And he rejected Montgomery’s contention that there’s no reason for the board to be able to hire outside counsel for advice.

“If you’re going to have a board that has oversight,  it makes absolutely no sense that the person they have oversight of gets to choose who’s going to give them the legal advice to decide if they’re engaging in lawful practices,” Farnsworth said.

Montgomery also complained about . . .

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From an article in the Tampa Bay Times:

In 2014, for the first time ever, police took more from American citizens than burglars did, according to economist Martin Armstrong, who used statistics from the FBI and Institute for Justice. Police departments use the money, cars and homes seized through civil asset forfeiture to support their budgets.

Written by LeisureGuy

6 April 2017 at 2:52 pm

Federal Judge Sees New York State Conspiracy to Thwart Care for Mentally Ill

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It’s a very bad sign when the state actively works against the interests of its citizens while hiding its actions from the courts. Joaquin Sapien writes in ProPublica:

A federal judge in Brooklyn has accused state officials of secretly trying to subvert a landmark court order to improve care for thousands of mentally ill residents of New York City.

Three years ago, U.S. District Judge Nicholas Garaufis ended a prolonged lawsuit against New York state by ordering the Department of Health to begin moving as many as 4,000 mentally ill residents housed in group homes to less restrictive environments where they could live more independently. As part of his order, the judge had laid out a timetable for the state to meet its obligations to men and women who had long lived in homes marked by neglect and abuse.

But at a hearing last month, Garaufis angrily charged that officials with the Department of Health appeared to have hatched a plan with the operators of the troubled group homes to get out from under his court order.

“There’s some sort of a deal,” Garaufis said. “That’s how it appears. And we’re going to find out exactly what the deal is, because if there is a deal, I would consider it a fraud on the court.”

A spokesman for the Department of Health said there was no secret plan, and that the state remained committed to meeting its obligations under the court order. A spokesman for the attorney general’s office, which has represented the state in the litigation for more than a decade, denied its lawyers were complicit in any effort to subvert the court order. The attorney general’s office has in recent weeks sought to distance itself from the Department of Health.

The development amounted to a remarkable moment in a case that began 15 years ago with a series of exposés in The New York Times. The articles portrayed a life of misery and exploitation for vulnerable people who had been discharged from state psychiatric hospitals only to wind up effectively warehoused in for-profit homes run by operators little interested in the well-being of their residents.

Lawyers for the residents soon filed suit, and what followed were years of hearings, depositions, a lengthy trial, a successful appeal, and eventually the intervention of the U.S. Department of Justice. Ultimately, Garaufis issued his order, and installed an independent monitor to make sure the state made good on its promises to first assess, and then relocate, residents from some of the biggest and most troubled adult homes in New York City.

Garaufis was alerted to the idea that the state was working to undercut his order in February as the Department of Health prepared to update the court on its progress in relocating residents. Garaufis said the scheme, as he saw it, involved efforts by the adult home industry to have critical regulations at the heart of the 2014 settlement effectively voided. The regulations limited the ability of home operators to accept new mentally ill residents.

In laying out the alleged secret deal, Garaufis said lawyers for the adult home operators had met with officials from the Department of Health, and that they basically worked together to have a state judge issue a temporary restraining order governing the regulations. The action by the state judge, Kimberly A. O’Connor, triggered a provision in Garaufis’ order.

Under the terms of the federal order, any dispute over the regulations that cannot be resolved in 120 days would mean the entire consent decree governing the residents of the homes would be voided. Why the fate of the settlement was being litigated in state court without his knowledge, Garaufis said, was incomprehensible.

Furious, Garaufis held a hearing on March 22, one he required be attended by the state commissioner of health, the commissioner of mental health and the counsel to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo. He excoriated the group and said he was enraged that the residents of the homes were caught up in politics.

“If I sound dramatic, it is because it is dramatic,” Garaufis said. “It’s about them. It’s about 4,000 people.”

“I will not allow the kind of political, legal activity that is going on in this case behind my back and behind the backs of the plaintiffs to continue,” he said.

ProPublica sent requests for comment to Cuomo’s office, but got no response. A request to speak directly with Attorney General Eric Schneiderman was denied.

At the hearing in March, Garaufis authorized lawyers representing the mentally ill residents to depose an array of state officials and said if a new trial was required, he would conduct it in July, and he would require the state commissioners to attend it. He also said he was intent on exploring possible sanctions against the state.

Lawyers with one of the city’s most prestigious law firms, Paul, Weiss, Rivkind, Wharton and Garrison, have worked on behalf of the mentally ill residents for more than a decade. At the hearing in March, Garaufis allowed a lawyer from the firm to respond to the state’s conduct.

“I don’t even know how to catalogue my outrage,” the lawyer, Andrew Gordon, said. “I mean, whether it’s the court’s efforts, Paul, Weiss’s efforts over the last 10 years, whether it is the fact that it appears that a federal order of this court has been ignored, whether it is the fact that the Department of Health and Office of Mental Health — who are charged with protecting one of the most vulnerable populations — appears to be in cahoots with the adult home industry. I don’t even know where to start.” . . .

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Written by LeisureGuy

6 April 2017 at 2:47 pm

Free Police Body Cameras Come With a Price

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Elizabeth John describes police body-camera tradeoffs in Slate:

On Wednesday, Taser International announced it is changing its name to Axon—and that it is offering every police department in the United States free body cameras, plus free software and data storage for one year. This announcement is a big deal, but not because it’s a great boon to policing. It isn’t.

Since the Ferguson protests in August 2014, lawmakers, watchdog groups, and even many police chiefs have embraced police body cameras as a tool of accountability. The Department of Justice has offered millions to local departments to purchase them. At first, this widespread enthusiasm seemed justified. A body camera on every cop would, in theory, record every controversial police encounter, and its very presence would deter misconduct.

But body cameras have not entirely lived up to that promise. Regulations about how, when, and whether to use them vary widely by jurisdiction. Many police departments have adopted the technology first, intending to figure out the details later. The absence of clear or uniform regulations has prompted concerns that body cameras are becoming surveillance tools of the police rather than an assurance of accountability to the public. In other words, when there are few limits on what can be recorded, it may be that everything and everyone will be.

Even as a surveillance tool, we should expect that the police, along with state and local governments, would be the ones to decide what these tools should do. But that hasn’t proven to be the case, either.

With body cameras, procurement is policy. The model and manufacturer a police department chooses will determine how it’s used in the field. That’s because choices about substantive issues like data production, storage, and sharing are issues of design. Who should be able to decide whether a body camera should be turned on: the officer or someone at the precinct? Should the camera feature a video or audio buffer constantly recording what are often crucial seconds before anyone hits the record button? Should the camera record the video or livestream it? These decisions are made by private companies, not public police departments.

No one is more dominant in this field than the organization formerly known as Taser International, which already controls at least three-quarters of the existing police body camera business, according to a July 2016 New York Times article. Building on its existing relationships with 17,000 of the country’s police departments established through its electric stun gun business, TAxon division has cornered the market on body camera contracts. In fact, the body cameras themselves aren’t nearly as profitable as Axon’s cloud service, which stores the massive amount of data generated by police body cameras and offers departments the software to analyze it. Axon’s cloud service subsidiary, Evidence.com, requires police to purchase yearly subscriptions. Every incentive exists to lock in law enforcement agencies early for these recurring, long-term services. Axon isn’t a really body camera company; it’s building a law enforcement platform.

In becoming the biggest vendor of police body cameras, Axon is exerting an undue influence on policing itself. Important questions about how body cameras operate and how their resulting data should be treated have been outsourced to a private company. Community oversight over policing is impossible when critical decisions about a surveillance technology have already been made by a vendor.

And Axon is eager to remain dominant in the body camera marketplace. Axon CEO Rick Smith has said that he expects to have facial recognition technology in his cameras sometime in the near future. The company recently acquired two artificial intelligence firms, which suggest that the company intends to apply AI to sift through the petabytes of data in its possession. Police body cameras would be instrumental in collecting “one of the richest treasure troves you could imagine” of data for applications like predictive policing. Whether to incorporate these capabilities are private, not public choices.

The usual mechanisms for police oversight don’t apply here. Want to find out what plans Axon has for future applications of their technology? Axon, like other technology vendors contracting with the police, isn’t subject to public records laws. Axon is a private company beholden to its shareholders, not the communities whose police officers adopt their cameras. Curious about the algorithm used to identify suspicious behavior in body camera video? Like other technology companies providing services to the government, Axon will likely invoke concerns about trade secrets in order to keep such information non-public. (I reached out to Axon for comment, but at the time of publication, there has been no response.)

Body cameras require a careful balancing of interests between . . .

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Written by LeisureGuy

6 April 2017 at 2:02 pm

LA Times editorial series, Part 5: “Conspiracy Theorist in Chief”

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The editors of the LA Times write:

t was bad enough back in 2011 when Donald Trump began peddling the crackpot conspiracy theory that President Barack Obama was not a native-born American. But at least Trump was just a private citizen then.

By the time he tweeted last month that Obama had sunk so low as to “tapp [sic] my phones during the very sacred election process,” Trump was a sitting president accusing a predecessor of what would have been an impeachable offense.

Trump went public with this absurd accusation without consulting the law enforcement and intelligence officials who would have disabused him of a conspiracy theory he apparently imbibed from right-wing media. After the FBI director debunked it, Trump held fast, claiming he hadn’t meant that he had been literally wiretapped.

Most people know by now that the new president of the United States trafficks in untruths and half-truths, and that his word cannot be taken at face value.

Even more troubling, though, is that much of his misinformation is of the creepiest kind. Implausible conspiracy theories from fly-by-night websites; unsubstantiated speculations from supermarket tabloids. Bigoted stories he may have simply made up; stuff he heard on TV talk shows.

This is pathetic, but it’s also alarming. If Trump feels free to take to Twitter to make wild, paranoid, unsubstantiated accusations against his predecessor, why should the nation believe what he says about a North Korean missile test, Russian troop movements in Europe or a natural disaster in the United States?

Trump’s willingness to embrace unproven, conspiratorial and even racist theories became clear during the campaign, when he repeatedly told tall tales that seemed to reinforce ugly stereotypes about minorities. Take his now famous assertion that he watched thousands of people in “a heavy Arab population” in New Jersey cheer the collapse of the World Trade Center on 9/11, an astonishing account that no one has been able to verify. PolitiFact rated that as “Pants on Fire.”

Or his retweeting of a bogus crime statistic purporting to show that 81% of white homicide victims are killed by blacks. (The correct figure was 15%.)

On several occasions he retweeted white nationalists. (Remember the image of Hillary Clinton and the star of David, for instance?)

His engagement with, to put it politely, out-of-the-mainstream ideas has attracted some strange bedfellows. It may not be fair to attribute to his senior aide, Steve Bannon, all the views that were published on the controversial alt-right site Breitbart.com, of which Bannon was the executive chairman. But it is certainly fair to wonder why Trump has elevated to a senior West Wing position a man who has trafficked in nonsense, bigotry and rank speculation.

Of course it was widely hoped that when Trump came into office he would put the conspiracy theories and red-meat scare stories behind him. Perhaps the “lock her up” mantra and the fear-mongering about Mexican rapists and the racial dog whistles and the assertions about Ted Cruz’s father’s connection to Lee Harvey Oswald — perhaps all that was just part of a cynical bid for votes, and it would go away when the election was over.

But there’s no sign of that. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

6 April 2017 at 1:30 pm

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