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Welcome fellow Men’s Traiters to yet another installment of  State of the Race! With only five weeks and some change left until this miserable election year is behind us – and four miserable years are then ahead of us – we have entered into the final stages of the 2016 presidential election.

The beginning of the end officially kicked off last week with the first presidential debate, and both would-be presidents have been feeling the after-effects ever since. Clinton has been doubling down, doing some solid campaigning, and largely staying on message while fighting off a new wave of controversy that has come to light – so pretty much what she has done the whole campaign.

Trump on the other hand, after his more low-key, stick-to-the-teleprompters attitude for the last month that led to him taking a lead over Clinton in the polls, has returned to his good old self with plenty of Twitter wars, baseless accusations, and doing everything he can to hide his tax history. So, again, pretty much what he has been doing the whole campaign.

The stage is set, first blood has been drawn, let’s dig into everything you’ve missed in this week’s *booming echoing voice* State of the Race!

Clinton

Bad news Trumpettes, Clinton is on the rise following what can only be described as some of the roughest 90 minutes that Trump has ever had on stage. On the debate stage, Clinton may have come off as robotic, unemotional, and not-so-subtly scripted (even down to her “impromptu” zingers which had all the zest and spontaneity of stock footage), but compared to Trump’s easily provoked ramblings, off-kilter tangents, and bad-tempered avoidance of the questions he was being asked, Clinton’s experience as both a politician and master-debater (get it?) shone.

There has even been a noticeable effect in the polls, something which the debates have historically done little to really affect. Yet in this ridiculous – see definition: worthy of ridicule – election year, even the traditional not-so-significant effect of the debates is being overturned, and maybe that should come as no surprise since over 80 million Americans tuned in to watch, making it the most-watched presidential debate in history.

Clinton has been climbing in the polls across the board following Trump’s performance last Monday night. Immediately following the debate Clinton had a four-point lead over Trump, and as of the latest polls has increased that to a six-point lead nationally.

However, it hasn’t been only springtime and roses for Clinton this week. Hillary has been facing down a new controversy thrown at her when of her campaign aides had their email hacked. Amongst its contents was an audio clip of Clinton speaking at a private event back in February when she was still battling with Bernie Sanders to secure the Democratic nomination. In the audio clip, Clinton refers to Sanders’ support base of millennial voters as “Basement Dwellers”.

Conservative sites were quick to attack Clinton over her apparent condescension and elitism, touting her comment as proof that she is out of touch with young Americans. Trump tweeted about her comment,

Predictably #BasementDwellers was trending on Twitter within hours of the audio clip’s release.

Unfortunately for Trump and his supporters, Clinton never called anyone “basement dwellers”, and she certainly never insulted Sanders’ supporters or millennials in general. You can hear the full audio clip here, but what Clinton actually said was,

“Some are new to politics completely. They’re children of the Great Recession. And they are living in their parents’ basement. They feel they got their education and the jobs that are available to them are not at all what they envisioned for themselves. And they don’t see much of a future . . . So that is a mindset that is really affecting their politics. And so if you’re feeling like you’re consigned to, you know, being a barista, or you know, some other job that doesn’t pay a lot, and doesn’t have some other ladder of opportunity attached to it, then the idea that maybe, just maybe, you could be part of a political revolution is pretty appealing. So I think we should all be really understanding of that and should try to do the best we can not to be, you know, a wet blanket on idealism. We want people to be idealistic.”

Rather than an attack on those who were “feeling the Bern”, it is in fact that exact opposite. Clinton was encouraging people to empathize with and understand where millennials are coming from. Yes she refers to them living in their parents’ basement, but it is meant as an example of how devastating an impact the recession of the late 2000’s had on many of them and the challenges that generation is facing.

Clinton’s statement is actually a remarkably sympathetic and compassionate examination of why so many voters supported Sanders campaign, and it was in no way an attack or insult on the millennial generation. Sanders himself has leapt to the defense of Clinton and said that he agrees with that statements she made in the audio clip.

We’ve expressed many times at Men’s Trait that we downright loathe both candidates, but that loathing has always been based on fact and truth. If you want to hate Hillary Clinton, here are some excellent reasons to do so. However, hating her because she called millennials “basement dwellers” is quite frankly ignorant. And that is our brief lesson in the powers of “context” folks.

Trump

Oh good Lord, Donald, you’ve done it again.

How many times can one person receive the label “Worst Week in Political History”? It’s just . . . baffling at this point. Where do we even? How do we even?

*Sigh*

Let’s just get started.

Following the events of the first presidential debate after which Democrats and Republicans alike criticized his performance, Trump kept himself busy most of the week continuing the fight that was he was so easily provoked into by Clinton on-stage. Near to the end of debate, Clinton commented on Trump’s history of sexism and cited former Miss Universe Alicia Machado as an example. Back when Trump owned the beauty pageant he apparently had many problems with Machado gaining weight after winning the contest and referred to her as “Miss Piggy”.

Not content to let even a single insult slide off him, Trump demonstrated once again how thin his skin is by beginning a Twitter war with Machado that culminated in a tirade of tweets in the early A.M. hours of Friday morning.

Though the Trump camp initially denied that Trump had ever made any such comments about Machado, when evidence came to light that proved otherwise, Trump switched tactics. He doubled down on his previous statements and began  defending his fat-shaming of Machado. Trump has since ignored advisors suggestions to let the matter rest as Machado is seen to represent  all the groups that he is most struggling to gain voters in – women, Latinos, and immigrants.

Trump has also begun dropping hints that he plans to attack Hillary during their next debate over her husband’s , former President Bill Clinton, infidelities. He first brought up the issue immediately following their first debate saying,

“I was going to say something…extremely rough to Hillary, to her family. And I said to myself, ‘I can’t do it. I just can’t do it. It’s inappropriate. It’s not nice.”

Well, apparently it is officially on the table now. Trump said during a recent interview,

“Hillary Clinton was married to the single greatest abuser of women in the history of politics. Hillary was an enabler, and she attacked the women who Bill Clinton mistreated afterward. I think it’s a serious problem for them, and it’s something that I’m considering talking about more in the near future.”

Trump, has even gone on to insinuate that Hillary has been unfaithful to Bill, saying,

“I don’t even think she’s loyal to Bill, if you want to know the truth. And really, folks, really, why should she be? Right? Why should she be?”

When Trump, who’s own extramarital affairs have been well publicised, was asked about his own infidelities, he responded,

“I don’t talk about it. I wasn’t president of the United States. I don’t talk about it.”

BUT WAIT, FOLKS! There’s more! On top of all of that, the thing that Trump has been fighting against since the very beginning of his campaign has finally happened.

His taxes were revealed.

Or more precisely three pages of a 1995 income tax return were leaked, but oh, what those three pages showed. The biggest takeaway from the documents is that Trump took a $916 million loss that year which could have allowed him to legally avoid paying any federal income taxes for 18 years.

Trump’s critics immediately pounced on him and cited the tax return as proof of the long stated claims that he is not as good of a businessman as he claims to be. More importantly, they claim it shows that he only cares for himself and not his civic duty.

The Trump campaign has responded to the leak by deploying spokespersons to various new sources to defend his actions. While none of them will confirm or deny that Trump used tax law to avoid paying any taxes for years on end, they have all stated that if he did use tax laws in such a way it only shows what an excellent businessman really Trump is.

Former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani  said of Trump possible tax evasion,

“He’s a genius — absolute genius. This was a perfectly legal application of the tax code, and he would’ve been a fool not to take advantage of it.”

The Clinton campaign was also quick to attack Trump over his taxes, something they have been doing for months now and mentioned rather prominently in the first debate, by releasing a new campaign ad that puts Trump’s taxes in the spotlight and features Bernie Sanders criticising his actions.

But out of all of that the incident that best summarizes just how rough of a week Trump has been having was probably his speech at a rally in Pennsylvania Saturday evening.  Trump was slated to deliver a nine sentence statement regarding the Clinton’s “basement dwellers” comments. After arriving an hour and a half late to the event due to weather, Trump took an exhausting 25 minutes to deliver his small statement.

Trump went from tangent to tangent as spoke, growing more and more heated the entire time. He talked of Clinton not being loyal to her husband, mocked and imitated her near-collapse due to pneumonia last month, called her crazy, and said should be in prison. Trump complained repeatedly about how he had been given a “bum mic” during the debate and spoke about how he could have been doing another season of “The Apprentice” rather participate in the elections.

Overall Trump seemed shaken up, on the defensive, lashing out at anyone he perceived to have wronged him – basically the state he has been in all week long.

State of the Race

It has been a rough week for Trump following the first debate, while Clinton has resurged back to her place on top of the polls. All eyes are now looking forward to Tuesday night’s Vice Presidential debate featuring Trump’s Mike Pence versus Clinton’s Tim Kaine.

Both of the two are “safe” candidates who have a long history of political experience. If you’re expecting the spectacle that was the Clinton and Trump’s debate, you are likely to be disappointed as the two maybe-VPs are likely to only repeat the same arguments that their running mates have already been leveling at each other.

On the other hand, Trump and Clinton’s second debate is slated for next Sunday. Many voters are curious to see if Hillary is going to take Trump to the cleaners again, or if Donald might actually even remotely prepare for the debate this time around.

With all the powers of our incredibly subjective levels of judgement, we here at Men’s Trait are once again prepared to declare our pick for the future El Presidente!

*drumroll*

Hillary Clinton

Honestly at this point in the race, what else did you expect? Trump is scrambling, Clinton is on the rise, and there is a second debate coming up that all the evidence points towards being another Trump defeat. Trump either needs to shut up and calm down, which is what gave him a slight lead last month, or else find a new pile of mud to sling Clinton’s way. If he can’t cause a shift, and soon, then Clinton’s path to the White House is all but assured.

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Sweden’s Move To A 6 Hour Workday Should Make You Very Angry

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Sunset in Stockholm, Sweden
THIS CONTENT WAS REPUBLISHED FROM AN EARLIER DATE.

What would you do with 6 extra hours of free time every week? That’s the question every full-time worker in Sweden is going to have to answer. After years of individual companies making the switch, the entire country is about to embark on an ambitious plan to maintain productivity while also eliminating 17% of the current workweek. Yes, the entire country.

Not only have Swedish workers just been given 312 hours of their lives back each year, but they have effectively been given a rather nice raise as well. In 2014, the average Swede took home about of €30,612 (the equivalent of $34,285) each year, or €2551 ($2857)  a month, which is about €589 ($660) a week. If we break that down over a 36 hour work week (less than the 47 hours the average American works full-time ), that equals €16.35 an hour. With the switch from a 36 hour workweek to a 30 hour workweek, the average take-home hourly wage just jumped to €19.63/hour, or a 20% increase.*

That would make me pretty happy, and I hope our CEO reads this and feels compelled to give all of us at Men’s Trait a 20% raise. We’re not holding our breath, however. Wages in the U.S. have been slightly better than stagnant for decades, and now we have to sit back and watch as an entire nation was just collectively given a raise that we could only dream of in the States.

In the United States, the average earner made $45,230 before taxes in 2014. More than the average Swede, right? Not necessarily. You might have noticed that the amount people in Sweden take home, on average, was €30,612 ($34,285), not what they earned. That’s the net, after tax amount. In the U.S., depending on a worker’s tax bracket, that amount would be at best $33,923, excluding any deductions and credits on their taxes. Depending on the exchange rate at any given moment, people in Sweden might take home more money than Americans. Or Americans might take home more. It’s very, very close.

But each country is different, and the cost of living in Sweden is higher than in the United States. Or, rather no, it isn’t. When we look at just after tax income, not accounting for fixed expenses, the average Swede has more buying power than the average American. Rent and utilities are significantly cheaper for people living in Sweden, making it slightly more affordable than the U.S. overall. Removing just utilities from the equation gives the advantage to Americans for having more buying power. Luxury activities, like eating at restaurants or going to the movies, are more expensive in Sweden than they are in the United States; that’s one financial advantage we have. But Swedes don’t do those things on the same scale that Americans do, so the premium prices affect them less than they would someone living in the States.

Okay, so I’ve rambled for over 500 words about how the Swedes just made a change to how much people work, and then delved into a bevy of numbers comparing the incomes and buying power of Americans and Swedes, only to come to the conclusion that there really isn’t that much difference between the two countries. Both are wealthy countries, with each celebrating a 7.2 OECD Better Life Index score that measures the quality of life for people around the globe, well above the average score of 6.0. So what’s the point?

Just remember, you could be living the American dream in Sweden, only by working at least 312 fewer hours each year. Oh, and the Swedes are guaranteed 25 paid vacation days and 16 paid holidays yearly, plus some paid maternity (56 weeks, or 13 months) and paternity leave (34 weeks), neither of which are guaranteed in the United States.** Now, with this new 6 hour workday, your typical Swedish worker will work 458 fewer hours every year than the average American (this even includes part-time workers)—that’s 19 full days.

Yes, you should be angry. People in Sweden are living the American dream better than we are.

Preston Hemmerich is the Content Manager for 301 Digital Media, overseeing MensTrait.com, OutwardOn.com, DailyBeautyHack.com and more. He enjoys covering food, politics, travel and writing sad attempts at humor.

*This figure does not account for hourly employees, only salaried employees. Some businesses have applied a wage increase to hourly employees to make up for lost hours, but that is not a country wide practice. In reality, this de facto raise disproportionately benefits higher income individuals working salaried jobs.
**Collectively, citizens of the U.S. get nowhere near 41 paid days off a year that Swedish citizens do.

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Pro-Clinton Columnist In Bed With Clinton Staffer — Literally

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Jonathan Capehart and Nick Schmit
THIS CONTENT WAS REPUBLISHED FROM AN EARLIER DATE.

Over the past 24 hours, a flurry of scandal has unfolded involving MSNBC contributor, Washington Post opinion columnist and prolific Clinton supporter Jonathan Capehart.

Writing an opinion piece for the Washington Post, Capehart sought to sling mud at Bernie Sanders — Swiftboat-style — in questioning Bernie Sanders’ past achievements in fighting for civil rights on behalf of African-American communities in the 1960s. (This, itself, isn’t even an original idea, as Capehart was simply jumping on the Establishment’s anti-Sander claims, which continue time after time to be disproved or found to be outright lies. (Here, here, here and here — in case you’d like some background reading.)

But that is not the central thesis of this story. Instead, let’s look a little more closely at Jonathan Capehart himself, and the flurry of lies and misdirections for which he is quickly becoming known.

Capehart, who currently offers his opinions to readers of the Washington Post and viewers on MSNBC, has spent the past five years in a long-term relationship with Nicholas Schmit IV, a long-term Clinton aide. Schmit has served in various capacities for the Clinton family and the US State Department under Clinton since 2004. You can see his full resume on LinkedIn, but we’ve summarized the key timeline of his career here.

2004 – 2007
Schmit graduated from The University of North Dakota in August 2004, and joined the Clinton Foundation, serving in various roles ending with Director of Finance, before leaving to work on Hillary Clinton’s 2008 Presidential campaign.

2007 – 2008
Schmit worked as the Travel Compliance Director for the Hillary Clinton for President campaign, before her primary defeat by now-President, then-Senator Barack Obama.

2008 – 2013?
Schmit returned to the Clinton Foundation as a consultant, before being tapped to join the Clinton-led State Department in various capacities. His last update on LinkedIn shows him moving into the role of Assistant Chief of Protocol for Diplomatic Partnerships at the State Department in February 2013, the same month that Clinton left the State Department.

Whether the last (or any) of the promotions were based on merit or simply Clinton politics as usual is unclear, but regardless, a clear pattern has emerged.

Flash forward to now. In the middle of a heated and contentious primary season that pits the Clinton-establishment against the sweeping change and progress that Sanders promises, and which Obama promised and failed to deliver in full.

If it feels like history is repeating itself, that may be because history is repeating itself, and Clinton is running the same campaign with which lost in 2008.

Instead of taking a neutral position on the matter to help further Clinton’s policy agenda and talk about how Clinton will move the country forward, Capehart has gone out of his way, time and again, to ensure that the Clintons are presented as the only reasonable choice for the Democratic party. The idea of “politics as usual” as a bad thing is clearly lost on him.

It’s clear that Clinton is the favorite of the Democratic party establishment — despite her arguments that being a woman somehow makes her a non-establishment outsider — when 38.0% of the popular vote translates into 50% of the delegates, thanks to the magic of “party rules”. (More about that here.) So it’s not surprising that Capehart may have a preference for Clinton, and it’s not his political positions that are at issue. He is welcome to support Clinton, Sanders, Trump, Bush, or Jill Stein*, should he choose.

The real issue, it would seem, is that despite the fact that Capehart and Schmit have a history of mixing their personal and professional lives, including Capehart attending official State Department events with Schmit, and that they share a home and life together, Capehart, never saw fit to disclose this conflict of interest, despite his years of work as a journalist blogger.

Instead of admitting his mistake and moving on, Capehart has doubled-down and attacked anyone who questions his “journalistic integrity” as an opinion writer, refusing to acknowledge that his story was factually inaccurate and has already been widely disproven:

Whether there’s really any direct connection to the Clinton campaign today remains to be seen and is up for question, but it should not be forgotten that Capehart’s long-term partner has the Clinton’s to thank for his career and that, by extension, the Clinton’s have helped pay for his Washington, DC duplexAnd knowing that, doesn’t it make the whole situation just seem a little slimy and tawdry?

* Disclosure: We love Jill Stein, but understand that she lacks the name recognition to win. (See, Jonathan, that’s how disclosure works.)

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Can Mindfulness Meditation Reduce Police Brutality?

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police brutality black lives matter hands up don't shoot sign protests
THIS CONTENT WAS REPUBLISHED FROM AN EARLIER DATE.

Let’s face it–America has an unfortunate history of police violence used to settle disputes. As of late, there’s been a strain amongst civilians and “The Boys in Blue” largely because of incidents of extreme brutality such as the in-transit death of Freddie Gray, Atlanta Hawks forward Thabo Sefolosha’s broken leg that derailed a stellar season and potential championship run, and the death of Eric Garner which further catalyzed the Black Lives Matter initiative. These incidents are not necessarily indicative behaviors of all officers of the law, but they do highlight a startling trend of over reaction and opting for physical intervention over patient analyzation and verbal reaction in non-life threatening scenarios.

With the recent trend, some people – like Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel, who is under fire for his department’s shooting of LaQuan McDonald –have called for more oversight of our nation’s police forces, while others have called for officers to don 24/7 video cameras to hold them more accountable of their actions. Both are more direct reactions to the problem of police brutality, and I’m certain other effective channels are being explored, but one slightly more “out of box,” conceptual approach could come in the form of optional mindfulness meditation training amongst police forces.

Mindfulness meditation and its concurrent learning practices are well regarded amongst most modern psychologists, though hard evidence of meditation’s benefits have only recently begun to be recorded. That being said, the benefits of mindfulness meditation are surprisingly applicable to overwrought, stressed police officers that could benefit from some sort of emotional release in lieu of unleashing physical abuse. Some empirical benefits of mindfulness mediation include

  • Decreased levels of the stress hormone cortisol, along with fatigue, and anxiety.
  • Sharpens focus of attention and suppresses acceptance of distracting information.
  • Less emotional reactivity, which is likely the key contributor to the instances of police brutality. If emotional reactivity can be curbed, the possibility of non-violent resolutions would hopefully be more likely.
  • More cognitive flexibility, another support parallel that would hopefully enable officers to be able to react intelligibly and logically, before resorting to physical force.

There are countless other qualitative benefits to mindfulness mediation that could prove highly beneficial to police officers across the country while making strides toward a more compassionate and deliberate police force. Mindfulness meditation has already made its way into certain portions of the American police force, as Hillsboro (OR) Police Department began its own mindfulness-training program in 2014, and has already seen substantial growth in the mental resiliency of the department’s officers. Started by Lt. Richard Goerling, the program is focused on Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), which he hopes will help stifle the prevalence of cynicism amongst officers of the law.

Goerling believes that the trend of over-aggression by police is “largely driven by the suffering behind the badge,” things such as PTSD, depression, and personal ware that can negatively affect an officer’s performance on the job. Granted, mindfulness meditation training may not become the most popular method of bridling the trend of police brutality in America, but it is comforting to know that there are police forces that are receptive to the idea of a low cost, low effort method of accounting for one’s actions in order to continue to protect the greater good.

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