In response to the letter sent by FBI Director James Comey to eight Republican committee chairman in Congress, Hillary for America Chair John Podesta released the following statement Friday:
“Upon completing this investigation more than three months ago, FBI Director Comey declared no reasonable prosecutor would move forward with a case like this and added that it was not even a close call. In the months since, Donald Trump and his Republican allies have been baselessly second-guessing the FBI and, in both public and private, browbeating the career officials there to revisit their conclusion in a desperate attempt to harm Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.
FBI Director Comey should immediately provide the American public more information than is contained in the letter he sent to eight Republican committee chairmen. Already, we have seen characterizations that the FBI is ‘reopening’ an investigation but Comey’s words do not match that characterization. Director Comey’s letter refers to emails that have come to light in an unrelated case, but we have no idea what those emails are and the Director himself notes they may not even be significant.
It is extraordinary that we would see something like this just 11 days out from a presidential election.
The Director owes it to the American people to immediately provide the full details of what he is now examining. We are confident this will not produce any conclusions different from the one the FBI reached in July.”
According to reports, newly found emails is leading the FBI to reopen the probe against Hillary Clinton. FBI director James Comey sent a letter to the House Judiciary Committee notifying them that the bureau has:
“learned of the existence of emails that appear to be pertinent to the Clinton investigation.”
Below is the letter that FBI director James Comey sent to the House Judiciary Committee
This news broke right before the Republican nominee Donald Trump came out on stage at a campaign rally in New Hampshire. When Donald Trump announced the breaking story, the crowd went wild. He went on to say
“Wow, what a story, huh? The rest of my speech is so boring compared to that.”
This could be the October surprise that the Trump campaign has been waiting for. With only 11 days left before the election, it certainly opens the door for a Donald Trump comeback win on Nov. 8th.
The Hillary campaign has not as of yet made any comments on this breaking story if they do we will make sure we update our readers.
Many political commentators credit Donald Trump’s rise to white voters’ antipathy toward racial and ethnic minorities. However, we believe this focus on racial resentment obscures another important aspect of racial thinking.
In a study of white Americans’ attitudes and candidate preferences, we found that Trump’s success reflects the rise of “white identity politics” – an attempt to protect the collective interests of white voters via the ballot box. Whereas racial prejudice refers to animosity toward other racial groups, white identity reflects a sense of connection to fellow white Americans.
We’re not the first to tie Trump’s candidacy to white identity politics. But our data provide some of the clearest evidence that ongoing demographic changes in the United States are increasing white racial identity. White identity, in turn, is pushing white Americans to support Trump.
When we talk about white identity, we’re not referring to the alt-right fringe, the white nationalist movement or others who espouse racist beliefs. Rather, we’re talking about everyday white Americans who, perhaps for the first time, are racially conscious.
The concept of “garden variety” white racial identity stands in contrast to conventional wisdom. In the last three decades of scholarship on whiteness as a race, the prevailing view has been that most whites fail to notice their own whiteness. In a society dominated by white people, whiteness simply fades into the background. Just as fish fail to notice the water around them, whites are unlikely to think about how they are members of a distinct group.
Our research shows that the era of “white invisibility” is coming to a close.
Non-Hispanic whites are projected to become a minority in the year 2044. This increasing diversity across the country is making whites’ own race harder and harder to ignore. Political and social phenomena, from Barack Obama’s presidency to the Black Lives Matter movement, are making whiteness even more salient to white Americans.
Trump and white identity politics
As whites increasingly sense that their status in society is falling, white racial identity is becoming politicized. Trump’s promise to “make America great again” speaks to these anxieties by recalling a past in which white people dominated every aspect of politics and society. That’s why media outlets from New York Magazine to The National Review have dubbed Trump an “ethnonationalist” candidate.
Hillary Clinton counters Trump’s exclusionary rhetoric with her message that all Americans are “Stronger Together.”
To test our ideas about Trump and white identity politics, we surveyed a nationally representative sample of about 1,700 white Americans. The survey covered racial identities, attitudes and political preferences. In examining the relationship between white identity and ethnic diversity, we chose to focus on an ethnic minority of particular salience in contemporary politics: Hispanics. More than any other group, Hispanics have been in the Trump campaign’s crosshairs.
Do whites from heavily Hispanic neighborhoods show stronger white racial identity? To measure identity, we used a widely used questionnaire. On a five-point scale, participants rated their agreement with items such as “Being a white person is an important part of how I see myself” and “I feel solidarity with other white people.” As shown in the graph below, there is a positive relationship between exposure to Hispanics and white respondents’ sense of racial identity.
And does white identity lead to support for Donald Trump? We examined the relationship between white identity and respondents’ likelihood of supporting Trump for the presidency versus Hillary Clinton or several Republican primary challengers. Consistent with others’ analyses, white identity strongly predicts a preference for Trump.
Whites at the high end of the racial identity scale are more than four times as likely to support Trump than those at the low end of the scale. Perhaps that’s because whites highest in racial identity are also the ones most likely to harbor negative attitudes against Latinos. Indeed, we found white identity was significantly correlated with another characteristic – prejudice.
However, differences in prejudice don’t explain the relationship between white identity and Trump support. The pattern in the figure above was tested while statistically controlling for levels of anti-Hispanic prejudice. Because the relationship between identity and support for Trump remains strong, we are confident that white identity independently predicts greater Trump support.
We’ve seen that living close to Hispanics leads whites to develop a strong sense of racial identity and that strong racial identity is associated with support for Donald Trump. We should therefore expect whites in heavily Hispanic neighborhoods support Trump more often than those in neighborhoods with fewer Hispanics. This prediction gains credence from work by political scientist Ryan Enos, who finds that everyday exposure to Latinos can increase support for restrictive immigration policies.
Whites’ support for Donald Trump is, in fact, greatest in areas with a large Hispanic population.
These findings leave open a crucial question: Do whites in heavily Hispanic neighborhoods support Trump because they tend to be high in white identity? Using a statistical approach called “mediation analysis,” we tested whether white identity accounted for the relationship between exposure to Hispanics and support for Trump. We found that identity does indeed serve as a significant link between Hispanic exposure and Trump support.
Trump, despite his outsize importance as a candidate and symbol, will eventually fade from the political scene. We therefore sought to examine the interplay of demographics and identity beyond the context of his candidacy. Specifically, we asked respondents for their views on white identity politics itself.
We had participants rate their agreement with a series of statements. For example, “There is nothing wrong with a white person choosing to support a political candidate because that candidate is white” and “Blacks, Latinos, and Asians engage in ‘identity politics,’ and there’s nothing wrong with whites doing the same.”
Exactly the same patterns emerged for these questions as for Trump support: Endorsement of white identity politics was highest in heavily Hispanic neighborhoods and was strongly correlated with white racial identity. These results suggest that America’s growing ethnic diversity is creating a politicized form of white identity that has clear repercussions for future elections.
Why does it matter that whites’ politics are driven by concerns about the interests of their racial group? It suggests that racial bias increasingly reflects attention to the welfare of one’s own group rather than animus toward other groups. These collective concerns are only going to become more pronounced as the nation becomes more diverse.
Recent research in social psychology suggests that when whites engage in discrimination based on their perceived collective interests, it’s hard to convince them that such discrimination is wrong. After all, doesn’t every group have a right to prioritize its own members? We believe our results portend increasing difficulty in achieving the democratic aim of getting race out of American politics.
Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. axed Joel Schmieg’s column that addressed a recording of comments made by Donald Trump to Access Hollywood’s Billy Bush about woman, which was later dismissed by the Republican nominee as “locker room talk”.
President Falwell’s reason for pulling the article was that the school’s newspaper Liberty Championwas already publishing a medical student’s pro-Hillary Clinton letter to the editor on the opinion page, making Schmieg’s column “redundant.” This lead to Joel posting the article on Facebook.
The TSS Staff and writers are strong proponents of free speech. We could care less if its pro this or anti that, we just want a place where there can be a free exchange of ideas that create dialog. With this in mind, we decided to reach out to Mr. Schmieg and offered him our site to publish his article. Mr. Schmieg has given The Systems Scientist permission to “republish” his article on our site.
As a former male athlete, I know exactly what high school guys talk about when they think they are alone. It absolutely can be vulgar and objectifying to women. But here’s the thing — I have never in my life heard guys casually talk about preying on women in a sexual manner.
Trust me, I hated the way the guys talked on the field during practice or in the halls at school. It was downright dirty. Some would call it “locker room talk.” In other words, guys talking about the things they supposedly did with their girls. The conversation never turned to the things they were going to do to a girl.
While I do not condone premarital sexual activity, guys talking about the things they do with their girlfriends is part of today’s culture. On the other hand, when a guy talks about what they are going to do to a girl, that is when it is no longer locker room talk, but pre-meditated sexual assault.
Some examples of this kind of talk are “I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait.” This is not a joke. Men do not casually say things like this. This is not locker room talk. Anyone who says otherwise is just trying to excuse the terrible things they or others have said.
If a high school male was heard talking like this, I would hope appropriate action would be taken. This might involve counseling and some sort of punishment. Not because punishment would magically fix what he said, but to ensure he understands the severity of what he said. So he understands that sexual assault is not a joke. So he understands that women are to be cherished, not spoken of as property.
But when an adult in his late 50’s says things like “when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything,” that should be a major red flag. “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks,” Luke 6:45.
The things that come out of a man’s mouth when his guard is down is probably what is in his heart.
With that said, everyone deserves forgiveness for things that seem to be in the past. But in this instance, the words said do not seem to truly be in the past. He was never accosted for his atrocious words. And most importantly, it seems the words spoken are par for the course.
Donald Trump may have issued an apology for the words he said, but the fact that he can brush them off with a description of “locker room talk,” tells me that he does not believe what he said is truly bad. It tells me that this man says things like this all the time because it is casual talk to him.
Ladies, please hear me when I say the words spoken by Trump are not normal. That is not what decent men talk about. Not even in high school. You mean so much more than that, and you deserve so much better than that.
What can be learned from three pseudo-debates between one corrupt, millionaire liar with strong establishment ties and one corrupt, billionaire liar with frighteningly fascistic tendencies? (Both of whom—by coincidence or not—were long-time friends and mutual supporters.)
Nothing, of course. At least, nothing that should be new to us.
Fortunately, there are some clear, important lessons to be learned from this nightmare of an election, if we pull back the curtain of partisan spin and identity politics. That is the one silver lining in all of this. But we had better learn these lessons now, or else be left with nothing but trash today and indefinitely.
But first we must ask ourselves: How have we reached the point where these are our only two options? Where we are forced to choose between the gallows and the hemlock, and all third options are likely to be futile and risk having our more frightful method of execution forced upon us?
How have we reached the point where the best argument for party A’s candidate is “Would you rather be hung?!” and the best argument for party B’s candidate is “Would you rather drink poison?!”
Where we go back and forth yelling and screaming at each other over which of the two representative candidates who doesn’t represent us is less horrible, evil and dangerous than the other.
All this expended energy and passion and division, and for what? To escape the gallows for the hemlock, or vice versa?
How long has it been this way? How many other elected positions in our government offer similarly restricted and terrible options?
This is democracy?
One of the critical lessons we must firmly come to terms with is that, while our government has a sort of democratic structure, it now effectively functions as a plutocracy: a government of the wealthy or controlled by the wealthy. Indeed, a recent Princeton study suggests this is not a fancy exaggeration, but quite nearly approximates the truth. And given that research also suggests we Americans vastly underestimate our country’s level of income inequality, we might also vastly underestimate our country’s inequality of political power—or just how thoroughly our policies are dictated by the interests of the wealthy and of moneyed (mostly corporate and financial) groups.
Maybe nothing exemplifies this better than this presidential election between Donald Trump, a quintessential member of the economic elite, and Hillary Clinton, a quintessential member of the political elite—and one who has well served the economic elite and moneyed interest groups, and who is well into the category of economic elite herself.
Now, some could read this and react with the old accusations of class warfare or hating the rich. Of course, that is missing the obvious point. Any society that is ruled by a select portion of people is naturally going to benefit that portion of people, more or less at the expense of the others. And any society whose functions are dictated by a select portion of people is naturally going to see that concentration of power swell even further, unless changes are made.
The question is, what sort of changes should be made?
Needless to say, there are many. But a foremost priority should be in trying to limit political corruption and, in particular the pestilent influence of money in politics. There are two main areas of concern related to this:
Campaign Contributions: We need to lower the limits on private campaign contributions from individuals and organizations, have tighter legal restrictions on direct and indirect contributions and fundraising, and consider some sort of public campaign financing. This would help limit electoral bribery, political favors, and other forms of corruption as well as give candidates who wish to represent the people without kowtowing to special interests a better chance of getting their voices heard and getting nominated and elected.
As an example, limiting campaign donations to $100 or $10 per citizen could go a long way in leveling out the playing field, as it would allow nearly all Americans to contribute the maximum amount allowed to the candidate or party of their choice, rather than only big money donors.
Public funding of campaigns could also help.
Paid Lobbying. This refers to the practice of special interest groups hiring individuals, typically lawyers with good political connections, to influence government or one of its relevant members to support particular legislation or policy. The courts have largely considered this to fall under the First Amendment rights of free speech and the right to petition the government. But for lobby groups and especially those representing the largest of corporate firms, too often these rights cross the line from petition to legalized bribery, or else make it all but impossible for elected officials to go against the will of the dollar. One partial remedy—as advocated by Harvard Law professor Lawrence Lessig, an anti-corruption expert, if you will—would be to prohibit political contributions from non-citizens such as corporations, foreign governments, foreign nationals, and all dark money groups. This would not prevent moneyed interests from funding open, “in-the-light” advocacy groups that themselves contribute to campaigns, but it would be a good start.
Removing the lock of money on our political system will not make our government perfectly free of corruption and misdeeds, but it is an utmost priority. And, fortunately, I think it is one that most of us, regardless of our ideological perspective, can agree upon.
Resolving the problems related to this issue will not be easy, but it is possible. However, we must overlook our ideological differences, cease our partisan bickering and senseless division, and work together in order to do so—no matter how strongly we disagree on everything else. For unless we do, none of our needs or wishes are going to be met.
This much is certain.
We cannot rely on politicians. But together we can rely on ourselves.
Russell A. Clemens is a guest political writer for The Systems Scientist. You can connect with him directly in the comments section. He is always happy to engage readers of different political persuasions.
On a cool fall Saturday afternoon, the Republican nominee Donald J. Trump gave his own Gettysburg address. During this address, which sounded more like a State of the Union speech than a campaign speech, the Republican nominee rolled out a contract with America. This contract details a ten point plan that Donald Trump will enact in the first 100 days to fight against government corruption, bring change to Washington, and to help restore the American people’s faith in the political system.
Whether you like Donald Trump or hate him, I really want to encourage you the reader to read the transcript of the speech for yourself. I ask this because I feel that as a society we have far too many times allowed events to be told to us and filtered by the pundits, media, and elites, rather than go to the primary source. I’ll give you an example of this. On MSNBC, they had a guest who dismissed Donald Trump’s plan. His reasoning?
“It was far too audacious and would cause nothing but chaos in Washington.”
Yet this pundit gave no further explanation whatsoever on why he felt this way. He just said it expecting the viewers to take him at his word. The anchor also didn’t push the guest to back up his claim!
We are in the midst of a voter revolt that is tired of a do-nothing congress that is more concerned about holding their grip on power rather than helping the little person in America. Congress is hated more than the worse movie character ever, Jar Jar Binks. Voters want an outsider that will shake up Washington; they want chaos!
Donald Trump has encouraged people to “Make America great again.” The underlining thinking behind that campaign slogan is for Americans to think and dream big once again. So it makes sense that the candidate would lead by example, by coming out with a big plan. Donald Trump is leading by example.
The reason why this ten point plan, I believe is a game changer, is that it outlines for the first time what kind of change the outsider Donald Trump wants to enact. It is no longer bombastic hyperbole. It is now policy. I admit, the plan does lack details, but that is done on purpose. It’s a brilliant use of psychology and here’s why.
Donald Trump is a businessman who negotiates deals. And as a negotiator you always leave yourself wiggle room to modify, so you can claim that you got what you really wanted.
Another reason why this plan is a game changer is that it draws a stark contrast with his opponent, who is the ultimate insider, Hillary Clinton.
If Donald Trump can stay on message and hammer this plan until election day. Donald Trump has done things ‘outside the box’ and it has worked and because of this, he has a very good chance of pulling out the win because of that. We will see come Nov. 8th.
Robert J. Garrison is a political and religious writer for The Systems Scientist. You can connect with him directly in the comments section, follow him on Twitter or on Facebook, or catch up on his articles in the Archives.
If corporate money controls our politics, as Bernie Sanders and others have claimed, then how did the Republican Party – the reputed party of business – manage to nominate a candidate whom almost no one in Big Business supports? And why have so many been so silent about it?
A recent article in the Wall Street Journal reports that not one CEO at a Fortune 100 company has donated to Trump’s campaign, whereas one-third supported Mitt Romney in 2012. Many in business have said privately that they are terrified of a Trump administration and the possibility of trade wars and ballooning deficits, yet few CEOs vocally oppose him.
So why isn’t a CEO social movement taking to the barricades against a Trump presidency? One possibility: To mobilize a movement, you need a social network, and CEOs no longer have one.
In other words, corporate America’s “old boys’ club” is dead. The question is: Is that entirely a good thing? As our research – and Trump’s rise – shows, not necessarily.
Building the old boys’ club
For most of the postwar era, American corporations were overseen by a group of elite executives and directors who all knew each other or had friends in common. In 1974, there were roughly 100 people (all male and all but one white) who each served on five or more corporate boards.
Corporate America was controlled by an “old boys’ club.”
Social network analysis shows that the board members of any two corporations were rarely more than three or four degrees of separation apart. A sneeze in one boardroom could have triggered a flu epidemic infecting more than 90 percent of the Fortune 500 within a few months.
Louis Brandeis, who served on the Supreme Court from 1916 to 1939, warned about this concentration of power in his 1914 book “Other People’s Money: And How the Bankers Use It.” To him, the network among corporate directors was an “endless chain” that served as the “most potent instrument of the Money Trust.”
In the 1950s, sociologist C. Wright Mills labeled this group the “power elite,” interweaving business, government and the military, and subsequent researchers documented how pervasive these ties were.
The heyday of corporate influence
President George W. Bush’s first cabinet may have been the high-water mark of the corporate network’s influence.
A few highlights: Before he became vice president, Dick Cheney served on the boards of Electronic Data Systems, Procter & Gamble and Union Pacific. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld had previously been CEO of GD Searle and General Instrument and served on the boards of Amylin Pharmaceuticals, Gilead Sciences and Tribune Co. Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill was CEO of Alcoa and director of Eastman Kodak and Lucent Technologies. And Labor Secretary Elaine Chao was on the boards of CR Bard, Clorox, Dole, HCA Healthcare, Marine Transport, Millipore, Northwest Airlines, Protective Life and Raymond James Financial.
In all, the Bush cabinet was directly tied to 21 corporations, two degrees from another 228 and three degrees of separation from over 1,100 companies listed on Nasdaq or the New York Stock Exchange. No administration in history had as many direct personal contacts with corporate America.
Such network ties have a tangible effect on corporate actions. Scholars found that ideas about how to run a corporation spread from board to board through shared directors, just as fads and fashions spread through contact among people. Moreover, a number of studies showed that these connections shaped how corporations and their executives engaged in politics. For example, executives at companies linked together by shared directors tended to donate to the same political candidates.
At the center of this network reigned a small, linked group of powerful executives – Wharton Business School professor Michael Useem dubbed them the “inner circle” – who came to share a common viewpoint about what was best for the long-term interests of American business as a whole. Serving on many boards, particularly big bank boards (which were bigger and often filled with well-connected CEOs), gave this group an expansive view of what was best for all of business and not just particular companies and industries. As Useem’s work showed, this group tended to be prominent in both business and civic life, often including corporate executives, leaders of nonprofit and cultural institutions and former government officials.
Being in regular contact with each other made concerted action possible, which helped them achieve their own aims but could also have positive societal benefits, such as organizing a successful Olympics bid. It also gave the group the potential to influence government policy – for better or worse.
The demise of the power elite
This world of cozy, highly connected boards is now gone.
The JP Morgan Chase board in 2001 had 15 directors, and all but two of them served on other boards. One director served on eight boards including the bank itself, five held five seats each, and another five were on three or four.
As our research shows, before these events, serving on many boards was a source of prestige, and the largest corporations courted well-connected directors. But after the scandals, being a well-connected director became suspect.
For example, in 2002, Forbes published an article that profiled the five directors with the most S&P 500 board seats, asserting that they were too overstretched to provide adequate oversight. In 2004, Institutional Shareholder Services, which advises large institutional investors on corporate governance, began recommending that its clients vote against directors who served on too many boards.
Within a few years, the inner circle had disintegrated.
From group think to kingmakers
Did the demise of the inner circle stop the 1 percent from dictating policy? Well, not exactly.
When a single network connected corporate America, executives were forced to listen to opinions from a range of peers. And although the group skewed Republican on average, individual directors held a range of political opinions.
The most well-connected leaders converged on a preference for more moderate candidates and policies and often ended up donating to both parties’ candidates, not just one. The support of this group was useful, if not absolutely essential, for potential presidential candidates, and it is hard to imagine that a putative anti-establishment candidate like Trump would have passed muster.
The dense web of connections allowed the inner circle to police the corporate ranks and present a unified, middle-of-the-road message to policymakers. Our own research, forthcoming in the American Journal of Sociology, finds that board ties are now too sparse to provide a means for business executives to forge common ground.
CEOs today rarely serve on two or more boards, and, as a result, they no longer have monthly opportunities to hear what peers who support another point of view might think. Those board connections turned out to be a force for political moderation, and annual gatherings in Davos are not enough to replace them.
American politics has arrived at a millennial inflection point. While Mills and his fellow critics lambasted the well-connected corporate inner circle for furthering their own interests over those of the majority of society, we now see that the alternative may be dysfunction and an inability to find common ground.
Extremists in every corner of the political universe can gather power by targeting well-heeled funders like Adelson on the right and George Soros on the left. In this new world, compromise is frowned upon.
While we don’t want to return to a world where a handful of powerful white men held rule over corporate America and by extension the nation, we may benefit from building structures that operate like board ties previously did, acting as a force for compromise and moderation.
To hold together, American society may require new institutions that connect a broad and diverse spectrum of business and nonprofit leaders to each other, forcing individuals to consider the views of their peers.