Part 3—Hillary Clinton's admission:
Some of the questions which get asked in our ubiquitous surveys and polls are extremely straightforward. One such question is this:

"If the election were held today, which candidate would you vote for?"

That question is straightforward to the point of being simple-minded. Everyone knows what's being asked. In part for that reason, responses to that question tend to yield useful data.

That question is extremely straightforward. Other times, our academicians and researchers may perhaps get a bit "creative" in formulating their survey questions.

This may not be a great idea. For one thing, academicians' less-than-fully admirable values may even start shining through.

Consider this murky, perhaps unfortunate survey question. It has been asked as part of the General Social Survey dating at least to 1977:
Question from the General Social Survey:
"On the [sic] average (Negroes/Blacks/African-Americans) have worse jobs, income, and housing than white people. Do you think these differences are because most (Negroes/Blacks/African-Americans) just don't have the motivation or will power to pull themselves up out of poverty?"
Yesterday, we discussed some of the problems with that venerable survey question. Before we examine the way different groups responded to that question last year, might we consider one of the ways the values of our upper-class researchers may perhaps be announcing themselves in that question's wording?

GSS researchers ask that question about "most Negroes/Blacks/African-Americans" and about no other group. In truth, few groups have ever shown more mettle in emerging from abject economic subjugation, but the academicians continue to ask a question which seems to suggest that most most Negroes/Blacks/African-Americans remain in poverty today, which is of course untrue.

Beyond that, note the unfortunate wording. Along the way, many African-Americans worked at the types of jobs at which they were permitted to work. For example, they may have worked as railroad porters and as maids, not as academicians.

To the people who run the GSS, those were "worse jobs" than the lofty positions they themselves hold today. The researchers couldn't even bother themselves to use a term like "lower-paying jobs" as they formulated the question they've asked for the past forty years.

In short, this less straightforward, "creative" question may perhaps let us ponder the less-than-fully attractive values which may sometimes be found at the top of our liberal world. Such questions may also be full of "triggers" which help direct the types of responses the questions will receive.

The most ridiculous question of this type is another "creative" question which has been asked for decades in the "social science" game. We refer to the question in which respondents are asked if blacks deserve "special favors" to help redress the effects of past discrimination.

"Special favors!" What could possibly be the right way to answer that loaded question? Since no conservative would ever be likely to say that anyone deserves "special favors," the question almost seems designed to create an exaggerated sense of tribal division.

The wording of that common question is transplendently clueless. However one imagines its provenance, the question about those "special favors" has been routinely asked for decades.

Today, we liberals cite responses to that question as a marker of The Others' "racial resentment." That's a newfangled (and meaningless) academic term which seems to have been created so professors and partisans can claim that they really aren't trying to measure The Others' "racism."

At any rate, that GSS question about These Unmotivated Blacks Today strikes us as a very poor survey question. In effect, it's an "inkblot" question, one which seeks an instant reaction to a rather peculiar, counterfactual scenario which the researcher has proposed.

In her new book, What Happened, Hillary Clinton cites responses to that question as evidence of the fact that half The Others are "deplorable / irredeemable," just as she said last year. In fairness, she does make passing mention of the way We Flawless Liberals responded to that same question.

On Monday, we showed you Dan Merica's (accurate) account of what Clinton says in her book. Below, you see the fuller passage from her book, in which she says she was right on the substance, if not on the politics, when she trashed Those Trump Voters last year:
CLINTON (page 413): I'm not saying that all Trump voters are racist or xenophobic. There are plenty of good-hearted people who are uncomfortable about perceived antipolice rhetoric, undocumented immigrants, and fast-changing norms around gender and sexual orientation. But you had to be deaf to miss the coded language and racially charged resentment powering Trump's campaign.

When I said, "You could put half of Trump's supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables," I was talking about well-documented reality. For example, the General Social Survey conducted by the University of Chicago found that in 2016, 55 percent of white Republicans believed that blacks are generally poorer than whites "because most just don't have the motivation or willpower to pull themselves up and out of poverty." In the same survey, 42 percent of white Republicans described blacks as lazier than whites and 26 percent said they were less intelligent. In all cases, the number of white Democrats who said the same thing was much lower (though still way too high).

Generalizing about a broad group of people is almost always unwise. And I regret handing Trump a political gift with my "deplorables" comment." I know that a lot of well-intentioned people were insulted because they misunderstood me to be criticizing all Trump voters. I'm sorry about that.

But too many of Trump's core supporters do hold views that I find—there's no other word for it—deplorable.
Clinton can find no other word for it! We regard that as a major problem, of politics, morals and substance.

In fairness, Clinton's first statement is perfectly accurate, even in retrospect. She never said that all Trump supporters were deplorable / irredeemable. Even in real time, she only said that half his voters should be consigned to the regions of Hell, where they could roast in eternity.

That said, she didn't explain, in real time, how to separate the deplorables from the redeemables. And in the real world, when a candidate makes a sweeping condemnatory claim about half her opponent's supporters, all her opponent's supporters will likely feel that they've been condemned, along with their favorite aunts, who may be named Myrtle, and their sainted mothers.

Every candidate says something unwise or even dumb in the course of a long campaign. Clinton acknowledges that her statement was politically unwise. What's surprising is the fact that she continues to defend her claim on the merits. Also surprising, and unimpressive, is the way she does so.

Clinton still seems to be saying that 55 percent of white Republicans gave the "deplorable / irredeemable" answer to that inkblot GSS question about These Blacks Today. Their answer to that inkblot question burned the scarlet D onto their breasts.

That said, uh-oh! As Clinton pens this defense of her past remarks, she makes a fleeting admission. Some members of Our Own Master Tribe gave the deplorable answer too! This raises a troubling question:

How many deplorables do we have, Over Here, within our own liberal tents? Clinton admits that the number is "way too high." (She never says what the desirable number would be.) But she also seems to say that Our deplorables are "much fewer" than Theirs.

Tomorrow, we'll show you the actual numbers. We'll ponder what those numbers might mean. For today, we'll only say this:

To our eye, the numbers from our two warring tribes are much closer than Clinton's passage might make you suspect. Does she even know what the full set of numbers looks like?

We have no earthly idea. Our discourse is narrative all the way down. We rarely have time for full facts.

Tomorrow: And the most deplorable is...


  1. The question quoted by Somerby says:

    "On the [sic] average (Negroes/Blacks/African-Americans) have worse jobs, income, and housing than white people."

    First, there is no need to stick in a snider [sic] after the usage "on the average" which was a widespread colloquial way of discussing averages. Keeping in mind that survey creators would have wanted to avoid technical jargon, they are using language that might be more familiar to responders, especially those of 40 years ago.

    Second, average incomes, net worth, jobs, housing are lower for African Americans. A survey in the news yesterday described the tendency to think there has been more economic improvement than exists for African Americans. African Americans tend to be underrepresented in higher status and higher paying jobs, from engineering to congress. Somerby can argue that being a Porter is an honorable profession, and no one says it isn't, but his quibble about jobs is wrong, especially statistically, which is what is meant by the phrase "on the average." African Americans continue to have lower incomes than whites, despite improvement.

    Somerby wants to focus on individual words and avoid the overall meaning of such a question, which invites racial stereotyping in order to measure racism. It does not measure anyone's beliefs about the status of jobs held by African Americans and it does not measure knowledge of economic progress of racial minorities. No one is invited to dwell on any word or fact in such a question -- there isn't time to do that and no one does unless they have a cognitive disorder.

    Somerby doesn't like surveys. He thinks they are a bad way to get in depth understanding of anything. In his ignorance, he confuses qualitative and quantitative research techniques. He doesn't know what surveys are for and he doesn't know, because he has never taken a course on social science research, that in-depth interviews are used to gain qualitative understanding of a phenomenon, and that the two are used together to both develop survey questions and to understand the responses. Somerby instead thinks he has found a glaring flaw in social science that invalidates any conclusions about racism among Republicans and Democrats. Instead he is behaving like an ignorant jerk.

    "To our eye, the numbers from our two warring tribes are much closer than Clinton's passage might make you suspect. Does she even know what the full set of numbers looks like?"

    If anyone knows what the full set of numbers looks like, it will be Hillary Clinton. If anyone knows what it is like to be on the receiving end of Republican deplorable behavior, it is also Hillary Clinton. Not Somerby, who is himself behaving more and more like an ass these days.

    1. Shhh. Bob's running interference for white supremacists. Let's not muck it up on him by showing how much of a fool he is being.

  2. I finally noticed that there's a kind of "bait and switch" in the question, which led me to misread it. The first sentence makes a statement about blacks being poorer than whites "on the average". So, I assumed that the second sentence asked the reason for this difference. but, as Bob points out, the question is not about blacks "on the average", but rather about "most blacks." And, the second sentence asks about blacks "pulling themselves out of poverty", rather than about the causes of economic differences between races.

    1. David, the question is asking whether you think blacks are lazy.

    2. The question is clearly bungled. That aside, if the same question were posed to the hardcore conservative voters, sans the race reference -- namely: "do you think most people are poor because they don't have the will power, blah-blah-blah" -- the answer is would have been the same.

    3. The question includes the disparity between black and white incomes. If all poor people lack will power, why are blacks doing worse than whites? That is inherent in the question and that is what you are trying to duck.

      How would most conservatives explain the disparity in poverty rates and income experienced by blacks and whites in the USA? You tell me.

  3. The usual phrase is "on average". The author of the survey didn't have the motivation or will power to edit it. Whether that's because of nature or nurture is anyone's guess.

    1. They perhaps wanted to keep the question consistent across 40 years of data collection.

  4. "Our discourse is narrative all the way down."

    Of course it is. Well, the liberal PC 'discourse' anyway. Meaningless bullshit narrative, for idiots.

    Anyhow, do you really believe the old witch wrote one single sentence in that 'book' herself? What's the point of all this? Do you reckon she even read the 'book'?

    1. Your projection is amazing, comrade. Hebetudinous, but amazing.

    2. Former fox news executive and Roger Ailes protege Joe Lindsley has the following tidbits (from a forthcoming book; you should look it up):
      "Everything must be made into a
      narrative … Facts don’t matter.” (quote from Ailes)
      Fox produces
      "hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of paranoid, angry, and agitated voters. " and
      "Fox News Channel is more a brand than a news outlet, and Ailes succeeded in convincing a large part of the American people that Ailes was on their side." (says Lindsley).

  5. One thing about the 'special favors' is that when some people go high, others go low.

    According to Kaiser in 2015 the poverty rate for whites was 9% and for blacks it was 24% and for hispanics was 21% and for the whole country it was 14%.

    This, of course, is horrible, and it should be fixed. Now a ridiculous idealist like myself would fix it by making the poverty rate the same for all races - at 0%.

    Others, on the left, are adamant that we need to fight against racism BEFORE we fight against poverty. Of course, any racist white person can see that that would mean - more white people living in poverty.

    Others will scoff at the notion that it is a "zero sum game", but clearly it is, because the simplest way to get out of poverty is - get a good paying job. Turns out though, that there are a limited number of such jobs and that for every person X who gets such a job that means other people, Y, and Z who applied for that job do NOT get it.

    The other, ubiquitously promoted, path out of poverty is - get an education. Which is generally just a step on the way to - getting a good paying job. Clearly that is a valid answer for an individual (or can be - it didn't work so well for me and my worthless advanced degrees) but does not work for all of society because it still leaves you with a limited number of good jobs. Only now you have janitors and cab drivers who pretty much wasted years of their life learning to weld or to solve differential equations.

    But never mind that, high income white people with parents who have connections, or who are secure in their high status career with shake their heads at the racist white working class who often does not want to be held back just so others can get ahead.

    1. I have no doubt the job market feels zero sum to frustrated white job seekers but the unemployment rate and the number of unfilled positions suggest their perception is wrong. Oddly, blue collar workers have always relied on connections (family and friends) to get jobs, much more than black workers who have more often used civil service exams and want ads to find work. It used to be that you couldn't get a union apprenticeship without a relative in that trade.

      While people do not necessarily wind up in the professions for which they prepared, their education is not wasted. It is always a credential that tells employers an applicant has basic skills, can follow directions and work independently, has persistence, and was willing to work toward a goal. Those are transferrable skills that are valued by employers and get people jobs. There are no worthless advanced degrees.

      When people have difficulty in the job market due to age or disability, they generally use self-employment as a way to use their skills. This can mean consulting or temp work, or starting a business. Someone with education has the means to do that and is not so much at mercy of employers when there are circumstances limiting their employability.

      Dr. T. mentions welding. There are still jobs available for welders. If someone is driving a cab instead, it is by choice.

      Self-pity is the enemy of success. Blaming external circumstances, whether one blames the economy or those minorities stealing white jobs, is salving to the ego but it undermines individual responsibility by suggesting there is nothing one can do about it except gripe. It is a passive stance.

      Members of minority groups that have experienced ongoing discrimination are nevertheless urged to double their efforts, become twice as qualified, and keep trying to find the position where they will be hired despite discrimination. Go see the movie Hidden Figures. Many women who were not black also broke through that pink collar ghetto to gain professional level employment via education, persistence, finding the person who would give them a chance, and being qualified to do the work. Yes, the feminist movement included a lot of griping about those underqualified white men who are always promoted ahead of women, but things changed only because women kept applying and showed they could do the work.

      White men don't like the competition? Boo hoo. Their reaction to changing circumstances in which both women and minorities are getting ahead should be to work harder, not whine and complain that their lives are being ruined because life is zero sum (even though economists dispute this view of the job market).

    2. Follow directions and work independently.

    3. I suppose you are suggesting that these are contradictory. They aren't. If I ask someone to tidy up the back yard and they come back every 5 minutes, to ask whether I meant the flower beds or just the lawn and whether they should do the edging or just cut the grass, and so on, they are able to follow directions but not work independently. Someone who has done endless college level class projects will understand how to take initiative to accomplish a goal with minimal directions.

    4. David follows directions and works independently. Mao follows directions but still needs coaching.

    5. https://ratfacedman.wordpress.com/2017/07/17/im-too-smart-to-be-poor/

      “I’m Too Smart to Be Poor!”
      These days, the old “go to college” life script is failing. But what about the “become a professor” life script? Even during the long, palmy Boomer afternoon, people knew that professors were poor, didn’t they?

      Come to that, what valuable skills do academics have, exactly? It’s true that many academics have deep insight into interdisciplinary cultural analysis, but it’s not clear who’s going to pay for that or why. Essentially, in becoming an academic, you are betting that something will turn up, because society is morally obligated to pay for academics.

      I don’t want to make too much fun of this–this is a type of decision-making that made some kind of sense in a simpler world. In the brief interval of, say, 1950-1975, ratfacing somewhat receded and people could rely on their intuitions of “decency” and “propriety” as genuinely effective heuristics for making life decisions. There’s a sense in which it’s tragic that this came to an end; there’s a certain nobility to an urbanizing population working out its small-town, stiff-necked Protestant values and creating vast quantities of positive externalities for all to share and enjoy.

      That said, however, I absolutely do want to make fun of various rats manqués who expected social justice sinecures and are instead finding out that universities are run by people who “Think Different“, in the sense that they care very much about posturing as humanitarians and giving their customers curated experiences while ruthlessly exploiting workers, business partners and even their own families.

      Therefore, let’s all laugh heartily at the miserable lives of failure facing the people whose job market looks like this:

      University of Illinois-Chicago.
      Visiting Lecturer-German Basic Language Program Director for AY 2017-2018.

      The Director will coordinate 14 sections in the blended basic German language sequence (first through fourth semester), supervise and train about 10 teaching assistants, teach three advanced language and culture courses, and participate in departmental events, such as the High School Day.

      Qualifications: Candidates must be ABD (PhD preferred), have a strong teaching record, and have a background in Second Language Acquisition or a related field. Native or near-native competency in German is required. Preference will be given to candidates with experience in language program direction, materials development, and computer-mediated learning.

      Currently this is a 67% position for $28.000 and benefits are prorated.
      Reminder: this is around 35% of what a McDonalds manager makes in Chicago. At least it’s slightly more than welfare–although after student loans, it’s probably a wash. No wonder revolution is so much on the academic mind. #FightForFifteen!

  6. Hillary is right. We did not listen to her and now we have this massive train wreck.

    1. Yeah, the economy is better than ever, the jihadists financed and nurtured in Syria by liberal maniacs are being defeated, no new wars started - clearly a moment of liberal anxiety and despair...

    2. Trump is more unpopular than ever, his lies are being exposed daily, his key initiatives collapsed or faltering.

      Clearly a momemnt of utter despair for Russian trolls like 'Mao'

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  8. Somerby has selected a single question from a survey that no doubt included many questions. When you design a scale to measure something, racism for example, you wouldn't do that using a single question. You would include dozens of questions addressing racism in different ways. Then you would aggregate the responses across all of the questions. That way someone who was troubled by the wording of one question or who didn't understand another question would still produce a reliable measurement by producing consistent responses across the rest of the questions. Those questions about race might be buried with questions on other topics so that it isn't obvious to the responder what is being assessed. Researchers don't tend to base an evaluation of racism in a person or society on a single question.

    So, Somerby's belief that he can pull a random question from a survey and criticize that question as a way of discrediting the entire survey, or that by discrediting one survey he has discredited survey research in general, and by discrediting surveys he can discredit social science research, is ridiculous.

    It is like pulling one of Hillary's remarks out of context and criticizing it, with the belief that doing so will discredit her entire statement, and doing that will discredit her as both a politician and a person. Maybe things work like that in philosophy, but they don't in the real world.

    When someone does this, I have to ask what his motives are and why he wants to discredit (1) Hillary, and (2) findings of social science about white racism, and (3) social science as a field.

    What is wrong with Somerby these days?

    1. It was Hillary who pulled the single question out of the survey and used it to draw sweeping conclusions about people. As you said researchers don't draw conclusions based on one single question. Hillary did. I don't speak for Bob but I think his point is is that that is silly to draw these sweeping conclusions about these people being deplorable based on a single question… as you have stated.

    2. Hillary didn't pull a single question out of a survey and use it to draw a sweeping conclusion. She drew a conclusion based on a great deal of other evidence and used that survey question to illustrate her point.

      Somerby is being obtuse. You don't have to follow him down that path.

    3. But the point is the survey question she used to illustrate her conclusion is idiotic. Don't you find that interesting? She "drew a conclusion based on a great deal of other evidence and used a survey question to illustrate her point." so she picked a survey question that suggests Democrats are also deplorable racists in huge numbers (millions)? You defend her and I'm obtuse? lol

    4. There is no question that doesn't produce a split along whatever lines you might choose.

      If you ask "I enjoy being a man." you will get a percentage of women that agree with it and a percentage of men that do not. If you ask "I am a human being." yes/no, you will get some people saying no.

      Hillary didn't say all Trump supporters were deplorable or all Republicans. And this survey wasn't given to Trump supporters at all. It just shows that there are more people willing to endorse racist statements among Republicans than Democrats. But Hillary's point wasn't about Republicans. It was about Trump supporters, and it was about being deplorable, something she went on to define more specifically than this single question does.

      I don't have to defend her. This fuss about a single question on a survey is ridiculous and says nothing whatsoever about what % of Trump supporters are deplorable or whether Hillary was right or wrong to call them that. It simply illustrates an aspect of racism.

    5. It's not a fuss. It's not ridiculous really, is it? Hillary used the single question on a survey to illustrate a reality that half of Trump supporters are deplorable. The same question illustrates that a third of Democrats are deplorable also. It illustrates an aspect of liberal racism. It's just interesting. You think it's confirmation bias or what? Seeking backup for her claim, she cited a survey question that paints her supporters in almost as bad a light. But it's true that no one in the Dem camp really looks at the stats. Dems see the survey question and the answer from the Republicans and have their "reality". And Republicans never even see the study unless someone shows them it with the answers from the Dems which confirms their bias that we are idiots.

      Anyway, generalizing about a broad group of people is almost always unwise as we all know. It was a mistake on her part big time.

    6. Dems see the miscreants at the Trump rallies and they know exactly who Hillary is talking about. You didn't see that stuff at her rallies, no matter what the survey said.

    7. It doesn't make sense to assert Trump supporters are racists based on something one saw on TV. That's a baseless assertion. But it was Hillary who brought up the question in the first place. That's what's interesting. By her logic tens of millions of her supporters are deplorable racists.

    8. You cannot assume that someone was a Hillary supporter just because they were Democrats. Lots of them were Bernie and Stein supporters and most probably didn't vote. Also, a bunch of them are themselves minorities. If you controlled statistically for minority status across the two parties, the % expressing racist attitudes might be equal. That would make all white people racist. Interesting idea.

      It makes more sense to assert Trump supporters are racist when you see through your own eyes Trump supporters wearing racist t-shirts, chanting racist slogans, behaving in hostile ways toward others (incited by Trump) and even acting aggressively toward protesters in the parking lots. This isn't a reality show -- it is reality. Trump's supporters behave in deplorable ways, in public, for everyone to see. This is not scripted TV.

      It may be that many people regard all TV as unreal, but a bunch of white supremacists found out otherwise when they were identified and arrested based on photos of their behavior during their so-called march.

    9. Snake: Trump supporters are racists.

      Owl: How do you know that to be true?

      Snake: Of course it's true, I saw it on TV!

    10. If you saw Trump supporters behaving in racist ways on TV at a Trump rally, it would be true that at least some of Trump's supporters are racist.

      This idea that there is fake news and you do not have to believe anything you don't want to believe just because someone calls it fake, doesn't change reality one little bit. It just makes Trump supporters racist and gullible.

      How *clever* of you to use the animal Snake (despised and dangerous) for those you disagree with and Owl (wise) for your own opinion. We are not children here.

    11. Snakes are known for wisdom too.

  9. On average, North Koreans have worse jobs, income, and housing than South Koreans. Do you think these differences are because most North Koreans just don't have the motivation or will power to pull themselves up out of poverty?


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