Friday, December 02, 2016

Sorry, I won't be able to post today. My colleagues and I are attending the National Council for Social Studies conference in Washington this weekend.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Cruising the Web

Ah, so this is how priorities work in Obama's America.
The Department of Health and Human Services is raiding several of its accounts, including money for Medicare, the Ryan White AIDS/HIV program and those for cancer and flu research to cover a shortfall in housing illegal youths pouring over the border at a rate of 255 a day.

HHS is trying to come up with $167 million to fund the Office of Refugee Resettlement that is accepting the youths, according to the Center for Immigration Studies.

Policy Director Jessica Vaughan said that insiders have told her that the funding crisis has forced the department to squeeze programs for money.

The Democrats now are fantasizing about alternate history in which Hillary Clinton actually won the election. It's not enough that she won the popular vote, they have to inhabit a fictional universe that chose her for the election.
After spending weeks complaining that the proliferation of “fake news” led to Hillary Clinton’s electoral demise, progressives are now openly using fake news to self-soothe.

Newsweek, which gained notoriety in the 1990s as a news weekly you could find on dentist office waiting room tables below Highlights and Zoobooks magazines, took the extraordinary step this week of publishing President Hillary Clinton fan fiction.

In a piece entitled “Dispatches From The Alternate Universe Where Hillary Clinton Won,” Newsweek’s Zach Schonfeld compiles excerpts from pre-written news stories anticipating the former secretary of State’s victory.

It’s apparently common practice for publications to have a vault of stories that forecast election results, Schonfeld writes. Preparing content before a major event makes sense to a degree, as newspapers often prepare obituaries for public figures long before they die. What doesn’t make any sense, however, is to publish a month later pre-written content that forecasted the election night incorrectly....

It’s clear these “dispatches” aren’t part of an effort to be more transparent with the American electorate, whose trust the media stomped on to virtue-signal obnoxiously. Its purpose is to serve as a balm for those still licking their wounds after Clinton’s defeat — and that’s what makes this collection of stories all the more troubling. The media are literally using their stories that falsely predicted the election to soothe themselves after things didn’t turn out the way they’d hoped.
They're deeper in that bubble that SNL satirized.

Then we have Washington Post's Wonkblog engaging in some fantasy line-drawing to see if the state's geographical lines were moved a smidgeon here or there would win the Electoral College for Hillary Clinton.
Here's a fun little thought experiment demonstrating the fundamental arbitrariness of the electoral college: Had two state borders been drawn just a little bit differently, shifting a total of four counties from one state to another, Hillary Clinton would have won the election.

Take a look at the imaginary map above, which comes from an nifty online tool called Redraw the States. It was created by Kevin Hayes Wilson, a mathematician and data scientist working in computer science education.

This map moves Lake County, Ill. to Wisconsin, turning that state blue. It moves Escambia, Santa Rosa and Okaloosa counties from the Florida panhandle to neighboring Alabama. That's enough to turn Florida blue. With victories in Wisconsin and Florida, Clinton squeaks to victory in the electoral college, 270 to 268.
I'm sure that is very comforting to Democrats. Hey, let's go back in history to the 1840s when Florida and Wisconsin became states and redraw those lines and save Hillary Clinton in the future. It's a pleasant fantasy. Boy, how prescient were those politicians back int he 1840s. They knew exactly which counties to put where so as to help Trump get elected some 175 years later. Too bad they couldn't have worked out that whole slavery and secession deal while they were at it.

Then there is the point that I've seen Vox and some liberals on Twitter crowing about: Not only did Hillary Clinton win the popular vote, but Democratic candidates for the Senate got more votes than Republicans. Really? Don't people understand how Senate elections work? There were only a third of the senators up for election. Aaron Blake explains why this is a meaningless factoid that betrays more about its fans' ignorance than anything significant.
Democrats owe almost that entire advantage to one massive, fluke-y state. The biggest state in the union — California — just happened to be holding a Senate contest on Election Day. A race between two Democrats. (The state has a unique “top-two” primary system.) That meant the 11.6 million votes counted there so far have all been ballots cast for Democrats. That's basically 1 out of every 8 Senate votes nationwide handed to the Democrats at the outset. (At the time of the USA Today report, only 8 million votes had been counted, so Democrats' Senate popular-vote advantage has actually grown by millions since then.)

In a normal Democrat-vs.-Republican election in California, the Democrat might have gotten 7 million votes and the Republican 4.6 million votes — a margin of 2.4 million votes. In this case, the margin was 11.6 million, a 9-million-or-so vote swing, which basically accounts for Democrats' entire advantage in the nationwide Senate popular vote.

Another factor in all of this: Only about two-thirds of the country holds Senate races in any given election, meaning that the lean of the popular vote is very reliant upon which states are up that particular cycle.

This year, the two biggest, bluest states in the country — California and New York — happened to be up. The biggest GOP-leaning state, Texas, was not. Democrats netted 11.6 million votes in California and nearly 3 million in New York, where Sen. Charles Schumer (D) won in a walk, 67 percent to 26 percent.

By contrast, Republicans won by 1 million votes in only one state — Ohio — not because they didn't do well, mind you, but because basically none of the red states were big enough to give the party such a wide popular-vote win.


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So which party is more excited that Nancy Pelosi will continue as the Democratic leader in the House? She has been masterful in keeping her party together to vote in lockstep and helped pass crucial parts of the Obama agenda in 2009 and 2010. And so she is part of the problem for the Democrats that has seen them lose control of the House in 2010 and unable to make much headway. She's associated in the public's mind, or at least in the mind of those people who follow politics and know who she is, with far left policies and claiming that they had to pass Obamacare in order to find out what is in the bill. In an era when Democrats are struggling to appeal to the white voters they lost in 2016, having a San Francisco politician as their leader doesn't seem to be the answer. And clearly members of the Democratic caucus realize this since almost one-third of them voted against her.
But Pelosi’s margin of victory, 134 votes to 63 for Ryan, signaled a large degree of discontent with her leadership after 14 years atop the caucus and, more broadly, with the Democratic policy agenda that many lawmakers say has grown stale. While she cleared her self-declared margin of victory, a two-thirds majority, many Democrats were stunned that almost a third of the caucus was willing to vote for a backbench lawmaker with no major policy or political experience.
That vote split may well indicate that Pelosi will have more difficulty herding her members to vote in lockstep in the upcoming session. There may well be those who voted for Tim Ryan who would be open to working with Paul Ryan on selected issues. We can but hope.


Remember how the media was up in arms the first week after the election that Trump was taking so much time to make his cabinet nominations? The storyline for a few days was that the Trump transition was in disarray and way behind schedule because Trump hadn't planned on winning. Well, actually he is making choices at a historic pace.
A Daily Signal analysis of Cabinet nominations dating back 40 years reveals that President-elect Donald Trump is outpacing all of his predecessors, including George H.W. Bush, who was a sitting vice president at the time of his election.

Trump’s selection of Jeff Sessions as attorney general on Nov. 18 made him the second-fastest president-elect in recent history to pick a Cabinet nominee. He added another on Nov. 23 with Besty DeVos as education secretary.

In the fourth week of the transition, Trump has named four nominees: Rep. Tom Price at the Department of Health and Human Services, Elaine Chao at the Department of Transportation, Steven Mnuchin at the Treasury Department, and Wilbur Ross at the Commerce Department.

The speed of Trump’s choices is even more surprising given that Bush enjoyed the continuity of Republican government in 1988; two of Bush’s three nominations in November 1988 were holdovers from the Reagan administration. With his selection of Price and Chao, Trump is now the fastest president-elect in 40 years to fill four Cabinet roles.
Philip Bump has more stats comparing Trump's pace on nominations. I also was surprised to see that he was so ahead of Obama in 2008 since it was so clear that Obama was going to win that election and should have had a head start.

I was rather pleasantly surprised during the baseball playoffs and World Series that there was so little discussion of the politics of the Ricketts, the family that owns the Chicago Cubs. They were active in the primaries giving money to oppose Trump in the primaries, but then switched to supporting him during the general election.
During the primaries, the Joe and Marlene Ricketts gave $5.5 million to the anti-Trump group Our Principles PAC. Now, they are donating at least $1 million to a pro-Trump Super PAC, the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Even though the Ricketts supported other candidates during the primary, they believe it is time to unite behind the nominees,” Ricketts’ political strategist Brian Baker told the publication. “This is all about helping Republicans win in the fall.”

Back in February, Trump sent out a tweet that read, “I hear the Rickets [sic] family, who own the Chicago Cubs, are secretly spending $’s against me. They better be careful, they have a lot to hide!
It didn't take long for the family to decide they wanted Hillary to lose more than they worried about Donald Trump. I watched just about every minute of the Cubs in the playoffs and the World Series and didn't hear this mentioned at all. A few Cubs fans said they wouldn't support the Cubs because of the Ricketts' support for Trump. There didn't seem to much of a problem with disaffected fans holding back from celebrating the Cubs' victory in the World Series. And now Trump has picked a member of the family as his Deputy Commerce Secretary.
Mitt Romney isn't the only former critic of President-elect Donald Trump who may become a key member of the incoming administration.

Trump chose Todd Ricketts, an outspoken opponent of Trump's presidential bid, as his deputy commerce secretary.

Ricketts backed Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker early in the GOP presidential primaries; his brother Pete Ricketts, the Republican governor of Nebraska, supported Trump after he became the presumptive nominee in May.

At a rally in Nebraska that month, Trump took a jab at Todd Ricketts.

"I love Pete, but I think his brother doesn't like me as much as he does," Trump said. "I like him so much, I'm starting to like the Chicago Cubs again." The Ricketts family has owned a controlling stake in the Cubs since 2009....

His father, Joe Ricketts, is the billionaire founder and a former CEO of online brokerage TD Ameritrade, and he founded the digital news site DNAinfo in 2009.

Todd Ricketts' brother Tom Ricketts is the chairman of the Cubs, and Todd Ricketts, Pete Ricketts and their sister, Laura Ricketts, are members of the team's board.

Pete Ricketts is in his first term as the governor of Nebraska.
I wonder how many Cubs fans are willing to give up their lifelong support for the team because a member of the family is in the Trump administration.

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The Federalist combats the hit piece from Politico on Trump's nominee for HHS, Representative Tom Price.
On Tuesday evening, Politico released an “article” discussing Department of Health and Human Services nominee “Tom Price’s Radically Conservative Vision for American Health Care.” The piece’s first sentence claimed that “gutting Obamacare might be the least controversial part of Tom Price’s health care agenda”—a loaded introduction if ever there were one.

The article goes on to quote seven separate liberal analysts, including the President of Planned Parenthood, while not including a single substantive Republican quote until the very last paragraph of a 27-paragraph piece. Given this opinion piece masqueraded as “journalism,” it’s worth pointing out several important facts, falsehoods, and omissions in the Politico story.

CLAIM 1: Republicans “may look beyond repealing and replacing Obamacare to try to scale back Medicare and Medicaid, popular entitlements that cover roughly 130 million people, many of whom are sick, poor, and vulnerable.”

FACT: It’s ironic that the Politico reporters suddenly care about the “sick, poor, and vulnerable.” I’ve been writing about how Obamacare encourages discrimination against the vulnerable literally for years, including a few short weeks ago. If any Politico reporters have written on how Obamacare encourages states to expand Medicaid to able-bodied adults rather than to cover individuals with disabilities, I have yet to read those articles.

This week came a report that no fewer than 752 individuals with disabilities have died—yes, died—while on waiting lists to receive Medicaid services since that state expanded coverage under Obamacare to able-bodied adults. If the Politico reporters—much less the liberal advocates the reporters interviewed for the article—care so much about the “sick, poor, and vulnerable,” when will they cover this Obamacare-induced tragedy?
Read the rest. This is what happens when media that have not been following conservative debates and discussions over health care for the past decade try to get up to speed by reading Democratic talking points.

What is really amusing is that we've heard throughout Obama's presidency that the Republicans have presented no plan for health care and are simply just about opposing Obamacare. And now all of a sudden the media deign to tell us that this terrible man, Tom Price, has put forth several proposals for reforming health care.
The 62-year-old lawmaker, who represents a wealthy suburban Atlanta district, has played a leading role in Republican opposition to the law and has helped draft several comprehensive bills to replace it. The GOP-led House has voted five dozen times to eliminate all or part of the ACA but has never had a chance to accomplish its goal as long as President Obama has been in the White House.
Of course, the media basically ignored those plans, but now suddenly remembers that they were proposed.

Ilya Shapiro presents a cogent argument
for doing away with filibusters for all judicial nominees.
While it’s senators’ prerogative to vote against any nominee they think would be bad for the country—I previously argued that Republicans should vote against essentially all judges Hillary Clinton names—judicial filibusters have always struck me as strange and sordid. Until Democrats began a systematic blockade of George W. Bush’s judicial nominees in 2003 (most notoriously Miguel Estrada, because of his ethnicity), the only judicial filibuster was the bipartisan opposition to Lyndon Johnson’s attempt to elevate Abe Fortas to chief justice in 1968.

The Senate runs largely on tradition and precedent, and while the idea that a super-majority is needed to allow legislation to proceed to a final vote is seen as part of the body’s “cooling off’ function, filibustering nominations has long been considered illegitimate. Accordingly, when Harry Reid (D-NV) abolished the filibuster for executive and lower-court nominations in November 2013, he ironically restored Senate practice to what it was before his own machinations of a decade earlier. (Would that Bill Frist (R-TN) had acted so boldly then.)

There’s no reason not to extend that “nuclear option” to the Supreme Court as well, as progressive legal scholar Erwin Chemerinsky argued three years ago.
The argument that the Republicans made in response to the filibuster of Miguel Estrada was that every nominee deserves an up or down vote. That argument still stands.

Remember the riots that broke out this summer when Keith Scott was killed in Charlotte and his family claimed he was unarmed and simply been reading a book/ Well, today the Charlotte-Mecklenburg district attorney Andrew Murray announced that they wouldn't be filing charge against the policeman who shot Scott and then explained how all the claims from the family and supposed witnesses were false.
Evidence in the case shows that Scott stepped out of his SUV with a gun in his hand, Murray said, and ignored at least 10 commands from the five officers on the scene to drop it.

Murray said that Scott bought the gun – a Colt .380 semi-automatic that had been stolen in Gaston County – 18 days before the confrontation for $100. One bullet was found in the chamber of the cocked gun, the safety was off and Murray said Scott’s DNA was found on the grip and slide.

The person who sold the gun to Scott admitted to doing so when confronted by state and federal law enforcement, according to a prosecutor’s report on the shooting. “The seller said that Scott asked him to find him a weapon because he was having problems with his wife and her family, specifically his nephew,” the report said.

Murray said that speculation in the community that Scott was unarmed – initial reports from a family member on Facebook said he was holding a book – were untrue.

“A reading book was not found in the front or back seats of Mr. Scott’s SUV,” Murray said.

Officer Vinson’s gun was examined after the shooting and four bullets were missing, Murray said. Analysts determined that the four shell casings found on the scene were fired from Vinson’s weapon. Scott suffered three gunshot wounds. Guns taken from the other officers at the scene had not been fired, he said.

People who claimed on social media that they had seen the shooting and Scott was unarmed later recanted – three people who’d made the claim told State Bureau of Investigation agents in interviews that they hadn’t actually seen the shooting, Murray said.
it 15 veteran prosecutors in his office and they were unanimous in their recommendation that there was insufficient evidence to charge Vinson in the case. Two of those prosecutors were African-American and one was Latino, Murray said.
Gee, perhaps it would be wise to wait a bit before pouring into the streets and protest against the police. People still believe that Michael Brown had his hands up when he was shot. "Hands up, don't shoot" has become a slogan for those protesting police brutality even though the whole story was a lie.
As David French writes,
Activists are fond of saying that cops have to “build trust” with with the communities they police, but this obligation runs both ways. Members of the community shouldn’t lie about cops.

How many more costly hoaxes will we have to endure before the mainstream media starts treating activists’ claims with the skepticism they deserve? No one doubts that there are bad cops who do bad things, but we almost always only know that later – after investigators have had an opportunity to do their work. There is a reason why we don’t leave justice to the streets.

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Well, this is a scary thought.
But there's another security consideration that may have dawned on folks along with the need to protect Trump's Gold House in Midtown: What about all of those Trump-owned and Trump-branded properties across the globe? Thanks to a hundred thousand voters in the Midwest, anything with the word “Trump” emblazoned across its front just became a huge possible target for international terrorists. What to do about those? Protecting Trump Tower is relatively easy. Protecting a Trump-branded resort in Indonesia is something else entirely, and raises a slew of questions. How? Who?

“Just from a pure protection perspective, it's going to be darn near impossible to try to carry out any sort of attack on Trump the president-elect or the White House or any high-value target,” Fred Burton of the security firm Stratfor told me when I spoke to him by phone Monday. “However, you certainly have a tremendous number of other branded properties around the globe that pretty much become then pushed into the soft-target arena.” Burton knows what he's talking about, having served as deputy chief of counterterrorism for the State Department's Diplomatic Security Service....

Burton seized on Trump-branded hotels and resorts as particularly difficult to protect. Citing the attack at a hotel in Mumbai in 2008, he pointed out that hotels are in the business of making it easier for people to see how they operate. “Hotels are in many ways embassies of the future,” he said. “The perfect kind of soft-target set.”

“Anybody can rent a room as long as you have the money, and you can conduct a base of operations from your room,” Burton continued. “It presents a unique challenge from an insider threat perspective in that your customer has the opportunity to look at your target set online, can go in, rent a room, can walk the establishment and conduct a fairly comprehensive pre-operation surveillance package by just renting a night or two in the room.” What's more, hotels see huge amounts of other vulnerabilities. “You're dealing with outsourced guard contracts. You're dealing with a large number of deliveries every day. Trucks. You've got international foreign guests,” he said. “If I was saddled to write the threat assessment here, [hotels] would be first and foremost at the top of my list.”
Then add in all the Trump businesses around the world. It is truly scary.

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Pakistan has released a readout
of a conversation that the Pakistani Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, had with Donald Trump. Countries don't usually do this. I would think that they would be especially wary about doing it and embarrassing an incoming president. But when you read this, assuming it's an accurate portrayal of what Trump said, it is so clear how clueless Trump is about foreign policy. He sounds like the worst caricature of himself. Alec Baldwin would have played Trump with more diplomatic intelligence than this.
rime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif called President-elect USA Donald Trump and felicitated him on his victory. President Trump said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif you have a very good reputation. You are a terrific guy. You are doing amazing work which is visible in every way. I am looking forward to see you soon. As I am talking to you Prime Minister, I feel I am talking to a person I have known for long. Your country is amazing with tremendous opportunities. Pakistanis are one of the most intelligent people. I am ready and willing to play any role that you want me to play to address and find solutions to the outstanding problems. It will be an honor and I will personally do it. Feel free to call me any time even before 20th January that is before I assume my office.

On being invited to visit Pakistan by the Prime Minister, Mr. Trump said that he would love to come to a fantastic country, fantastic place of fantastic people. Please convey to the Pakistani people that they are amazing and all Pakistanis I have known are exceptional people, said Mr. Donald Trump.
Geez, is this the guy who is going to be talking to foreign leaders for the next four years?

The Washington Post points out how different the tone of this conversation is to what Trump has said publicly about Pakistan.
Lavishing praise on the Pakistanis would be a major turnaround for the president-elect. In 2012, Trump took to his favorite social media platform, Twitter, to denounce Pakistan.

On Jan. 17 of that year, he wrote: “Get it straight: Pakistan is not our friend. We’ve given them billions and billions of dollars, and what did we get? Betrayal and disrespect — and much worse. #TimeToGetTough”

...Trump has also spoken highly of Pakistan's archrival, India. During his campaign, he courted the Hindu-American vote, and said that in a Trump presidency, India and the United States would be “best friends.”

“There won’t be any relationship more important to us,” Trump said in Edison, N.J., at a rally organized by self-described Indian nationalists.

Pakistan is a major beneficiary of U.S. assistance and is slated to receive almost $1 billion in economic and security assistance in the 2017 financial year.

Sharif, the Pakistani prime minister, is markedly less loved in his country than Trump's praise would make it seem. He is dogged by allegations of corruption, and the release of the Panama Papers last summer appeared to confirm many Pakistanis' suspicions. He is being investigated for conflicts of interest stemming from four luxurious apartments occupied by members of his family in London, and has vowed to step down if found guilty of siphoning funds.
I don't know if Pakistan released this summary to try to make their prime minister look good or maybe to demonstrate that Trump won't be so harsh on Pakistan as he's said in the past. Or maybe they just enjoyed making him look stupid. I doubt if they achieved the first two goals, but they certainly did the last one.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Cruising the Web

Donald Trump spent another day distracting attention away from his cabinet picks and decisions for his new term by tweeting out silly stuff. Today it was his tweeting that flag burners should be stripped of their citizenship or jailed. Of course, the Supreme Court has made this impossible by ruling that flag burning is protected as freedom of speech. Just about everyone responded by reminding us that this can't be done and casting done. My first thought when I saw this was "Geez, here we go again with Trump tweeting out stupid stuff betraying his ignorance about the Constitution and how are system works." But then I thought remembered what a big deal this was back in the 1980s when the decision, Texas v. Johnson, was issued and how George H.W. Bush made it part of his 1988 presidential campaign. I still remember his visiting a flag factory to paint a contrast with Michael Dukakis. While I don't have all that high opinion of Trump's knowledge of how our system works, I do find it hard to believe that he was unaware of this issue or the attempts that have been made in the past to outlaw flag burning. Even Hillary Clinton got in on the act, along with Barbara Boxer back in 2005.
President-elect Donald Trump is coming under fire that there should be “consequences” for flag burners, but in 2005, Hillary Clinton backed a bill that would have criminalized burning the American flag.

While she was senator of New York, Clinton co-sponsored the Flag Protection Act of 2005, which would have outlawed “destroying or damaging a U.S. flag with the primary purpose and intent to incite or produce imminent violence or a breach of the peace.”
I don't remember anyone getting outraged about Clinton's attitude toward the First Amendment back then.

Even though antagonism toward flag-burning is very popular and it's hard to go wrong with a politician talking about respecting the flag, it still seems like such a non sequitur and a bad idea to distract attention from how he's putting together his new government. So I'm just about ready to buy James Taranto's theory of what Trump is doing with all his dumb tweets.
But why does he persist with the crazy tweets? Maybe he can’t help himself, but even that doesn’t preclude the possibility that there’s method to the madness.

For one thing, the outrage it draws provides opportunities to highlight Trump’s critics’ hypocrisy. Example: After the flag-burning tweet provoked vigorous defenses of the First Amendment, many people pointed out that then-Sen. Clinton was a lead sponsor of the Flag Protection Act of 2005. And of course her lukewarm endorsement of the Stein recount effort occasioned many reminders of how aghast Mrs. Clinton was when Trump refused to commit to accept the outcome of the election she was supposed to win.

For another, it confuses antagonistic journalists. It draws attention away from consequential stories that might be awkward or damaging to Trump, such as the potential conflicts of interest posed by his businesses....

From “we begin bombing in five minutes” to “the Cambridge police acted stupidly,” presidents have been bedeviled by “gaffes.” It’s possible Trump has come up with a way of neutralizing the risk—by making odd statements so often that they’ll eventually stop making news. In the best-case scenario he’ll help restore the balance of power in government by making fools of those who hang on the president’s every word.

And if nothing else, it’s entertaining. Charles Murray of the American Enterprise Institute—perhaps the most intensely anti-Trump person we encountered all year, which is saying a lot—tweeted this morning: “An ignoble confession: The next day’s news if Hillary had won would have been so depressing. Now, I can’t wait. Like watching a cliffhanger.”

Perhaps Trump is being crazy like a fox and is baiting his opponents into taking action to get great numbers of people siding with him in their moral outrage.
Will anti-Trump protesters be dumb enough to take the bait?

.....The big question in the coming days and weeks will be whether anti-Trump protesters have the self-control and self-awareness to realize that burning any American flags will play directly into Trump’s hands. As Charles pointed out, a ban on flag-burning is extremely popular, and most Americans instinctively detest the sight of the flag being burned. That’s the sort of provocation that raging anti-American mobs in foreign countries embrace. Of course, it’s likely that the most passionate – some would say unhinged – activists opposed to Trump are more interested in their own emotional catharsis than persuading the public about policy decisions.

Regardless of>ica,” because it will have the same effect on public opinion.
Noah Rothman thinks that Trump's tweets are simply "playing the public for fools.
Given the clumsy and unsophisticated messages he disseminates, it is easy to underestimate how elegantly Donald Trump wields his Twitter account. It is a populist cudgel with which he hectors his adversaries, validates his supporters, and presents himself to the nation as an accessible and relatable figure. Trump uses this asset to his advantage, albeit in ways that horrify Americans with a sense of civic decency....

Trump regularly primes the nation to engage in comfortably familiar fits of emotional pique over settled arguments (the constitutionality of flag burning has long been reconciled, but the practice is wildly unpopular). All the while, Trump manages to evade broader scrutiny over his complex conflicts of interest, none of which he seems all that eager to resolve and some which could put the country on a collision course toward a constitutional crisis....

These are scandals in the making, and scandals have a way of snowballing. Scandals related to personal corruption can make an administration toxic. They steal away friends, stiffen the resolve of adversaries, and make compromise impossible, even for members of the same party. The longer Donald Trump can keep the public’s focus off of that which matters and on frivolous, fabricated controversies, the longer he can postpone an inevitable clash with Congress. In this, Trump’s greatest assets are a public that demands nothing too complicated from the arbiters of political discourse and a media culture that is all too eager to oblige.

Or maybe people are just giving Trump too much credit and his Twitter is just an expression of his id and really has no more meaning or method than that.

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Jim Geraghty has a great rant
about the Ohio State University killer and his blaming his actions on how people treat Muslims.
But what comes through most is this whining sense of victimhood, that he’s forced to commit these atrocious, barbaric attacks on innocent people out of a righteous sense of self-defense to protect his feelings.

“I am sick and tired of seeing my fellow Muslim brothers and sisters being killed and tortured EVERYWHERE. Seeing my fellow Muslims being tortured, raped and killed in Burma led to a boiling point.”

See, Muslims aren’t being killed and tortured everywhere. It would be nice if someone close to him had told him that, and if fewer people helped fuel that rage-inducing falsehood. If he ever bothered to read a book or the news about places like Syria and Iraq, he would have learned that Muslims are mostly being killed and tortured by fellow Muslims. Who does he think are the majority of ISIS victims? Who does he think are blowing up mosques from Iraq to Yemen? Who does he think blew up those Muslims in the hospital in Quetta, Pakistan, or the Syrian refugee camp in Jordan,or set off the car bombs in downtown Kabul, Afghanistan, or the minivan filled with explosives in central Baghdad? It’s not Westerners! You don’t see American communities churning out waves and waves of gleeful suicide bombers!

Burma? Burma? If you’re so mad about that, buy a plane ticket and go on a rampage over there. What, you think the students at OSU secretly control the levers of power in Naypyidaw? (That’s the Myanmar capital, and don’t feel bad, I had to look it up, too.)

He’s convinced he and his fellow members of his faith are victims of an aggressive, malevolent West.

He believes this while attending class at Ohio State University. Nobody’s oppressing him. No one’s imprisoning him without charges, trial, or appeal. Nobody’s trying to kill him. No one’s closing his mosque, or banning his faith. He’s got a better life with more opportunities, freedom, and material abundance than probably 90-some percent of his fellow Muslims around the world. And he still thinks he’s a victim of a malevolent America, and that everyone around him is a legitimate target for retribution....

Is this guy a jihadist? Sure. Even worse, he’s a whiny Millennial jihadist, who thinks that everything in life is so uniquely unfair to him, and that he’s unjustly victimized everywhere he goes. In an interview with the campus newspaper this summer, he said, “If people look at me, a Muslim praying, I don’t know what they’re going to think, what’s going to happen. But I don’t blame them, it’s the media that put the picture in their heads.”

What, the unfair picture that any pious Muslim could be sympathetic to terrorists, a ticking time bomb, and full of murderous rage against everyone around him? Yeah, you sure showed us, pal! Allow me to float the theory that some people around this guy warily treated him like he was a nascent jihadist because he acted like a nascent jihadist.

Jay Cost looks at what Obama has wrought for his party.
When President Obama took office in 2009, Democrats claimed 257 House seats, 60 Senate seats (after Arlen Specter switched sides), 28 governorships, and total control of 27 state legislatures. Many pundits figured that the Republican party was turning into nothing more than a regional coalition, with little strength outside the South.
Since then there has been quite a list of losses many of which can be basically laid at Obama's door. From off-year elections in 2009 through the Republicans regaining the House in 2010. Obama got reelected but with fewer votes than he did in 2008, making him the only incumbent president to accomplish that feat. Then came the losses for the Democrats in 2014 giving control of the Senate to the Republicans. And 2016 was a surprising debacle for the party.
To be sure, it is typical for the party of the president to shed offices during his tenure. Generally speaking, voters tend to utilize the opposing party as a way to check the president—and over the course of eight years this can amount to a fairly substantial shift in power. Dwight Eisenhower, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush, for instance, all entered the White House with their party in total control of Congress but left with the opposition in total control. Even under Ronald Reagan, who was enormously popular for most of his tenure, the GOP lost the Senate in 1986.

What makes Obama unique is the magnitude of his party's defeat. When he entered office, he and his party had broad control of the government. When he leaves office in two months, the opposition will have broad control of the government. That is quite extraordinary. In fact, during the postwar era, no two-term president has lost more U.S. House seats and state legislative seats than Obama.
While Obama is personally popular, his policies aren't. And he's contributed to the public losing faith in the liberal solution to policy problems.
Obama seems to have given big government a bad name. When he was elected in 2008, the exit poll found that 51 percent of Americans thought the government should do more, compared with 43 percent who thought it should do less. But in 2016, after eight years of Obama, the exit poll found that 45 percent thought the government should do more, compared with 50 percent who thought it should do less.

While people still like Obama, they haven't much cared for his policies—and time and again they have taken their frustrations out on his fellow partisans. Those hardy Democrats who have managed to survive the party's annihilation during the Obama years may think twice before asking him to jump into the political fray after he retires.
Of course, the Republicans shouldn't get too gleeful. They've yet to see how the public will respond to their policy initiatives especially after the Democrats get through demagoguing and demonizing such proposals. While Obama turned out not to be all that successful as a spokesman for his own policies, I can't see Trump as a great salesman for any policy proposal. He never seemed fluent with the conservative positions that he was supposedly supporting during the campaign. Perhaps he'll do better if he's in on the policy design from the get go, but I have serious doubts.

President Obama has his own explanation for what has gone wrong for his party - it's Fox News' fault plus his own focus on international affairs.
In this election, [white working class voters] turned out in huge numbers for Trump. And I think that part of it has to do with our inability, our failure, to reach those voters effectively. Part of it is Fox News in every bar and restaurant in big chunks of the country, but part of it is also Democrats not working at a grassroots level, being in there, showing up, making arguments. That part of the critique of the Democratic Party is accurate. We spend a lot of time focused on international policy and national policy and less time being on the ground. And when we’re on the ground, we do well.
Well, except for all those Democrats who have lost their jobs during the Age of Obama.

And then there are the powers that Obama has stretched out and now will hand over to Trump.
In all the outrage about the unhinged things Donald Trump keeps tweeting and saying, there’s been almost zero criticism at the fact that Obama will be partly responsible for the extraordinary scope of powers Trump inherits. The Obama administration has not only done nothing to curtail the slew of extreme national security and war powers that Trump is about to acquire since the election – the White House is actively expanding them.

One of the most undercovered aspects of Obama’s legacy has been how he has waged war, unilaterally expanding the original 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) against the perpetrators of the September 11 attacks almost beyond recognition. It’s currently being used to legally justify the administration’s war on Isis in about a half dozen countries (that we know of), despite Isis not being in existence at the time AUMF was passed. It’s also being used to authorize action against a host of other groups, though who they are is classified.

Now, the Obama administration has warped the AUMF even further. As the New York Times reported on Monday, the White House is claiming it can use the 2001 law to go after al-Shabaab in Somalia, another group that didn’t exist in 2001, which the Times openly states in its lead paragraph “will strengthen President-elect Donald J Trump’s authority” to wage war when he enters office.


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It's nice to see Oklahoma continuing the tradition of sending a senator to Washington who is serious about cutting wasteful spending. Senator Tom Coburn was one of my favorite senators with his common-sense approach to the role of the federal government. And now Senator James Lankford of Oklahoma is continuing Coburn's tradition of issuing an compendium, the Wastebook, listing silly government spending.
If Shakespeare is performed without the bard’s immortal words, is it really Shakespeare?
The National Endowment for the Arts has committed $10,000 of taxpayers’ money to test that question — one of dozens of projects to make the wasteful spending list of Sen. James Lankford, an Oklahoma Republican who’s continuing the tradition of former Sen. Tom Coburn’s annual Wastebook.
The National Science Foundation again comes in for an outsized share of criticism for its research spending, including a $1.8 million grant to a university that spent some of the money on embroidered Snuggies, the robe-style blankets that are a staple of As-Seen-On-TV trinket advertising.
It's not just silly grants that Lankford is highlighting. There are more serious items on the list.
Mr. Lankford’s compilation of bogus spending ranged from questionable spending to agency mismanagement to broader policy decisions that, the senator said, showed just how far off track the government has gone.
One of those is the administration’s decision to ship Iran some $1.7 billion in payments tied to the Islamic Republic’s release of American hostages. Also facing scrutiny was the Obama administration’s call to spend $750 million to boost Central America, as a way of trying to stop the surge of illegal immigrants from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.

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Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Cruising the Web

National Review put together a montage of how some in the media reacted to Castro's death.
Austin Yack compiled a list of the "Ten Most Outrageous Reactions to Castro's Death" by world leaders. It really is a shameful collection.

Meanwhile, David Pryce-Jones reminds us of just two of Castro's victims.
At this moment, there comes to mind Huber Matos. A Cuban intellectual, a teacher, he took part in the 1959 seizure of power but then failed to please Fidel Castro, his erstwhile comrade, now self-styled Máximo Líder. So he spent 20 years in prison, much of it in solitary confinement in an underground cell a few feet wide, allowed to dress only in his underwear. He will have to stand for the three or four million persecuted and exiled Cubans.

And there also comes to mind the uncounted number of men summarily executed, mostly humble men whose names are past recall. Arnoldo Ochoa Sanchez will have to stand for them. A ranking general, he commanded the Cuban auxiliaries sent at Moscow’s behest to fight in Angola. On his return, he was made to pay for the failure of this campaign, explicitly accused of damaging the credibility of the Máximo Líder. In a so-called Court of Honor, he confessed his guilt in the public abasement long since practiced and perfected by the Soviets, and the firing squad finalized another judicial murder.
But the stories of victims like this get ignored when President Obama simply refers to "the countless ways in which Fidel Castro altered the course of individual lives, families, and of the Cuban nation." Really? Altering the course of individual lives is what we're now calling imprisoning thousands and executing political enemies? Jimmy Carter's statement simply refers to how he Rosalynn foundly remember their visits with him and "his love of his country." Pierre Trudeau had asked Castro to be an honorary pallbearer at his funeral and his son, the current Canadian Prime Minister embarrassed himself with his statement on Castro's death.
It is with deep sorrow that I learned today of the death of Cuba’s longest serving President.

Fidel Castro was a larger than life leader who served his people for almost half a century. A legendary revolutionary and orator, Mr. Castro made significant improvements to the education and healthcare of his island nation.

While a controversial figure, both Mr. Castro’s supporters and detractors recognized his tremendous dedication and love for the Cuban people who had a deep and lasting affection for “el Comandante”.
Castro was "legendary," although "controversial" with "tremendous dedication" to the people his policies imprisoned and impoverished. What blind ignorance.

The National Review r
eminds us of another of Castro's victims and the contrast with his fans around the world.
Fidel Castro was the most popular dictator in the free and democratic world. Stalin lost his luster after the Secret Speech in 1956. Mao lost his luster, or some of it, in the wake of honest accounts of his rule (by his doctor, Li Zhisui, for example). Ho rode high for a while, but not after the reeducation camps and boat people.

But Castro? In 2002, Carole King, the American singer-songwriter, crooned to him her hit song “You’ve Got a Friend.” He certainly did, a great many of them.

Why did they love him? Why do they still? For one thing, they see him as that defier of the yanqui colossus. But also, they have bought, and propagated, three myths: that the dictatorship has been good for literacy, good for health care, and good for black people (“Afro-Cubans”). All of this is untrue. All of it has been thoroughly debunked.

But, as Armando Valladares says, “What if it were true? Don’t people have literacy and so on in countries that are not cruel dictatorships?”

Valladares was a prisoner in the Castros’ gulag for 22 years. In 1986, he wrote the memoir Against All Hope, earning him a designation: “the Cuban Solzhenitsyn.” That book and others punctured the lies of the Cuban regime. One of the others was Before Night Falls (1993), the memoir by Reinaldo Arenas. It was made into a movie, and an opera, too. Then in 2012 there was the amazingly honest movie Una noche (One Night).

Mainly, however, the Castros’ fog machine prevailed. And opinion leaders in free countries remained indifferent to Cuban suffering, when not outright supportive of the dictatorship.
Here is more on Valladares' story of how he spent 22 years in the prison camps for refusing to put up a sign saying "I'm with Fidel" on his desk in his office at the Ministry of Communication for the Revolutionary Government.
Valladares would spend time in different prison camps for the next 22 years. The first, La Cabaña, forged some of the very worst memories. “Each night, the firing squad executed scores of men in its trenches,” he told the Becket Fund, which last year honored him with its Canterbury Prize, given annually to a person who embodies an unfailing commitment to religious freedom. “We could hear each phase of the executions, and during this time, these young men — patriots — would die shouting ‘Long live Christ, the King. Down with Communism!’ And then you would hear the gunshots. Every night there were shootings. Every night. Every night. Every night.”

Years passed, and the communists fixated on enrolling prisoners in reeducation programs. Valladares, still early in his sentence, was offered the chance at “political rehabilitation” but refused to comply. He was sent to an even more brutal prison, and the government ramped up its efforts to break his spirit.

“I spent eight years locked in a blackout cell, without sunlight or even artificial light. I never left. I was stuck in a cell, ten feet long, four feet wide, with a hole in the corner to take care of my bodily needs. No running water. Naked. Eight years,” Valladares recalled. “All of the torture, all of the violations of human rights, had one goal: break the prisoner’s resistance and make them accept political rehabilitation. That was their only objective.”

After nearly a decade, prison officials adjusted their terms. If Armando would simply sign a document renouncing his beliefs and embracing Communism, he could return to his family. The choice was simple: physical freedom or spiritual liberty.

“For many people, it wasn’t practical to resist. Better to sign the paper and leave,” Valladares said. “But for me, signing that paper would have been spiritual suicide.”
Such moral courage is just beyond my comprehension. He became a poet using his own blood as ink and found comfort in his religion. This man's story should be as well known in the U.S. as Nelson Mandela's was in the years of apartheid. But being a dissident against Castro and suffering to maintain his own principles is just not as appealing.

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Kevin Williamson remarks on the irony of a socialist leader who became a multi-millionaire while those Cubans he supposedly was so devoted to lived impoverished lives.
Fidel Castro was a funny kind of Communist. He died either a billionaire or just short of it and made sure his family grew wealthy, too. That’s par for the course with these champions of the people: María Gabriela Chávez, the daughter of Castro’s Venezuelan comrade, is one of the richest women in the world, with a net worth nearly twice that of Silicon Valley investor Peter Thiel — a neat trick for someone who has never had anything that you’d really consider a job. Castro could have given the Kardashians a lesson in tackiness: He liked to wear two Rolex watches on the same wrist in a gaudy display of personal wealth.
Here are some more details that those political leaders talking about what a legendary leader he was are whitewashing from their remarks on his death.
Any political threat was potentially a mortal threat. That meant not only that dissidents were tortured and murdered but that any potential source of social instability was treated as though it were treason. Homosexuals were sent to gulags (the Military Units to Aid Production) where they were remanded without trial to forced labor. Later, when HIV made its appearance in Cuba, those infected were imprisoned in sanitaria; incredibly, life for ordinary Cubans grew so miserable and dire that some young Cubans intentionally contracted HIV, because they had heard that sanitarium prisoners were fed three times a day.

If you want to maintain absolute control over a people in that condition, you simply cannot allow the free flow of information. American liberals may be naïve enough to fall for your imaginative fictions of universal health care and literacy (strange that the same progressives who believe that 9/11 was a hoax accept Cuban government statistics without question) but ordinary Cubans are not in the main afflicted by expensive miseducation. Their minds must be carefully pruned.

The answer, of course, is to ban “terrorist” literature. The speeches of the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.? Terrorist propaganda. The U.N. Declaration of Universal Human Rights? Terrorist literature. The great civil libertarian Nat Hentoff dedicated a great deal of work to documenting these stories. He was denounced as an outside agitator. “What does Mr. Hentoff know of the real Cuba?” one Castro sycophant asked.

“I know that if I were a Cuban, I’d be in prison,” he answered.
Terry Glavin writes in Macleans that Justin Trudeau's fatuous statement on Castro's death has turned him from the personification of cool to a laughingstock.
Trudeau made himself synonymous with Canada. He made Canada cool again. It was fun while it lasted.

By the early hours of Saturday morning, Havana time, Trudeau was an international laughingstock. Canada’s “brand,” so carefully constructed in Vogue photo essays and Economist magazine cover features, seemed to suddenly implode into a bonspiel of the vanities, with humiliating headlines streaming from the Washington Post to the Guardian, and from Huffington Post to USA Today.

....And so, from far-off Antananarivo, Madagascar, where he was attending the 80-government gathering of La Francophonie, Trudeau’s lament for the last of the Cold War dictators ended up confirming every wicked caricature of his own vacuity and every lampoon of the Trudeau government’s foreign-policy lack of seriousness.

....Whether or not Trudeau saw any of this coming, he didn’t appear to notice that he was delivering a speech to La Francophonie delegates in Madagascar that emphasized justice for lesbian, gay and transgender people, while from the other side of his mouth he was praising the legacy of a caudillo who spent the first decade of his rule rounding up gay people for “re-education” in labour camps. Homosexuals were irredeemably bourgeois maricones and agents of imperialism, Castro once explained.

To be perfectly fair, Trudeau did allow that Castro was a “controversial figure,” and nothing in his remarks was as explicit as the minor classic in the genre of dictator-worship that his brother Alexandre composed for the Toronto Star 10 years ago. Alexandre described Castro as “something of a superman. . . an expert on genetics, on automobile combustion engines, on stock markets. On everything.” As for the Cuban people: “They do occasionally complain, often as an adolescent might complain about a too strict and demanding father.”
So by all means, ignore the arrests and imprisonment of all who criticize the Castros or the inequities of their vaunted (by the West) health care system or the way that the Castro family's nepotism has put relatives in key positions. Those in the media should be particularly critical of Castro's regime.
Independent publications are classified as “enemy propaganda.” Citizen journalists are harassed and persecuted as American spies. Reporters Without Borders ranks Cuba at 171 out of 180 countries in press freedom, worse than Iran, worse than Saudi Arabia, worse than Zimbabwe.

So fine, let’s overlook the 5,600 Cubans Fidel Castro executed by firing squad, the 1,200 known to have been liquidated in extrajudicial murders, the tens of thousands dispatched to forced labour camps, or the fifth of the Cuban population that was either driven into the sea or fled the country in terror.
But he wore cool fatigues and was in opposition to the United States and that was enough.

Some of the entries under #trudeaueuologies and TrudeauEulogy are really quite funny. This is why, for all its fault, I still enjoy Twitter.








People are so very clever sometimes. Read the rest for yourselves. Crowd-sourced snark is what the internet sometimes does best. Terry Glavin is right - in one brief statement, Trudeau went from being cool to being a laughingstock.

Of course, Black Lives Matter wants to assert their fondness for Fidel and fight back against the idea that he was a bad guy.
The movement posted said they felt an 'overwhelming sense of loss' of the death of the controversial former Cuban leader on Friday.
'Although no leader is without their flaws, we must push back against the rhetoric of the right and come to the defense of El Comandante,' the movement wrote in an un-bylined article titled 'Lessons from Fidel: Black Lives Matter and the Transition of El Comandante'.

They also thanked Castro for harboring Assata Shakur - a former Black Panther member and convicted cop killer who is on the FBI's Most Wanted Terrorists list - who they say 'continues to inspire us.'

Shakur, who some described as the 'soul of the Black Liberation Army, was linked to the 'execution-style' murders of four New York police officers between 1971 and 1972 which spurred a nationwide manhunt.

She was cleared but in 1973, she was involved in the fatal shooting of another officer in New Jersey. After several mistrials, she was jailed but later escaped and fled to Cuba.

They also express their thanks for granting refuge to Michael Finney, Ralph Goodwin, Charles Hill and 'so many other Black revolutionaries who were being persecuted by the American government during the Black Power era.'

Hill, another cop killer, was being hunted by police for the murder of a New Mexico state trooper when he hijacked an airplane from Albuquerque and flew to Havanna.

His two accomplices Finney and Goodwin also fled to Cuba. All three men were members of the Republic of New Afrika, a black power militant group that sought to turn Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina into a separate nation for African-Americans.

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Karol Markowicz is rightly dismayed at the Democrats joining in with Jill Stein's baseless requests for recounts in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Michigan. There is no reputable election expert who thinks that there is a chance of overturning Trump's leads in those states. This is just a baseless move by Jill Stein to gather some money and media attention.
Third-party liberal candidate Jill Stein last week launched a fundraiser ostensibly to get enough cash to file for a recount in three close states: Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. Yet as the money rolled in from gullible leftists, she kept raising her cash target. Heading into the weekend, it stood at $7 million, a threefold increase from its not-so-humble beginnings.

Stein is, quite clearly, running a “scam-PAC” — a political action committee designed to bilk supporters of their hard-earned cash and laugh all the way to the bank, while building an email contact list for future fundraising endeavors. Stein even confirmed she couldn’t “guarantee” the money would be spent on a recount. Even if a recount were forced, the extra cash would stay with Team Stein.

Worse, the DNC is allowing it. Donna Brazile tweeted, “As Interim chair of the DNC, I have received info and more regarding #AuditTheElection. At this time, the DNC has not issued any statement.” For one of our two major parties to “no comment” accusations of a stolen election should concern all Americans.

During one of the general-election debates, Trump was asked whether he would accept the results if he lost. He famously said, “I will tell you at the time. I’ll keep you in suspense.”

He was rightly pilloried from all corners. The RNC was quick to put out a statement that they would “accept the results and the will of the people.” Trump’s daughter Ivanka, his running mate, Mike Pence, and even his own spokesperson put out statements that the results would be respected. Trump supporters like Hugh Hewitt criticized him, saying, “It is outside the norm of American political rhetoric to express a contingent acceptance of the result.”

Hillary herself responded, “That’s horrifying.” So where’s that horror now that her supporters carry “Not My President” signs and Stein runs a scam-PAC aimed at Hillary’s own voters?

Where are the Democratic Party’s grownups? Their silence suggests they think it benefits them to keep their supporters angry. That’s no way for people in leadership roles to behave. America needs two strong political parties that take our values and institutions seriously and not just when they win — after all, that’s what the Democrats said when they thought Republicans were being intransigent.

“Give Trump a chance” has been the post-election mantra from his support
It's working for Stein - she is raising money and getting attention. Newsbusters reports that the media have paid 12 times as much attention to her recount requests as they did to her throughout the election.
When Jill Stein was the Green Party’s candidate for U.S. president, the networks only gave her 36 seconds of coverage. However, as soon as she launched a campaign to contest the presidential election and demand a recount of ballots in several key states, the evening news shows on ABC, CBS and NBC managed to find 7 minutes and 26 seconds of coverage for her in just four days. That's more than 12 times as much coverage as in the entire campaign.

Of course, Donald Trump is making himself ridiculous with his ludicrous and baseless claims that he would have won the popular vote if "millions of people who voted illegally" hadn't been allowed to vote. Oh, geez. Now we have the president elect tweeting about conspiracy theories to cast doubt on the election results. And he's singling out Virginia and New Hampshire, two states that actually have require IDs in order to vote. It's really funny that he's alleging fraud while chewing out Hillary for signing on to efforts alleging that the election was rigged. The man clearly has no concern about the dangers of continued delegitimizing our nation's elections. Allahpundit makes this same point.
Tangentially, with lame efforts now afoot in the electoral college and in Jill Stein’s recount of Wisconsin and Pennsylvania to undermine the legitimacy of Trump’s victory, why would Trump himself call into question the integrity of the election? His message right now should be to hail the glorious splendor of a free and fair vote. Instead he’s screwing around on Twitter with this, inadvertently undermining the process that just made him president
Philip Bump at The Fix in the Washington Post thinks that Trump just can't stand losing so he has to allege fraud to explain any defeat even though there is zero evidence of voter fraud that might have cost him the election in those states. It must gripe him that Hillary actually won the popular vote. So he has throw some shade on her popular vote victory.
Trump's frustration that he'll be inaugurated despite having less demonstrated support than his opponent is the most likely explanation for his tweets. He's clearly annoyed that Clinton agreed to participate in Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein's efforts to review balloting in Wisconsin and other Midwestern states (an annoyance also made clear on Twitter). It's remarkably similar to what happened when he lost the Iowa caucuses to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.): At first, he accepted the result as it was. Within a day or two, though, he began lashing out at Cruz, accusing him of stealing the vote in the state....

Of course, there's no evidence that Cruz did anything that could be identified as “stealing” the election. But that wasn't the point. The point was that Trump was mad. (Incidentally, this was also the genesis of “Lyin' Ted.")

There has been some social-media speculation that Trump is laying the groundwork for federal efforts to curtail voting access. That's probably backward. It's more likely that Trump is leveraging long-standing, unfounded murmurs of rampant voter fraud as a way to assuage his ego, just as he claimed that Cruz stole the election to save face.

Now the Clinton campaign has signed on to the Stein requests for recounts. There has never been a recount that has made up the thousands of votes that Hillary is behind in these three states. So, when this is all over, she will, once again, lose to Donald Trump. Reportedly, some of her closest allies are very annoyed at her being dragged into this story.

Clinton loyalists must really be ticked at Jill Stein. If we can assume that Green voters would have chosen Clinton if she weren't on the ballot, the number of votes that Stein won in key states was greater than the margin of victory of Trump in those states. For example, Stein got about 50,700 votes in Michigan which Trump won by 10,704 votes. While some have claimed that the combined vote for Jill Stein and Gary Johnson might have cost Hillary Clinton the election in key states. However, the evidence seems rather shaky that even if we could guess how those voters might have voted otherwise or if they would have turned out to vote, it's not clear that their absence would have made a difference.

The WSJ
looked at this question and concluded otherwise.
The third-party vote doesn’t appear to have been the key factor in Democrat Hillary Clinton’s defeat at the hands of Republican Donald Trump last week.

A Wall Street Journal analysis of the third-party vote across eight states that all tilted Republican shows that Mrs. Clinton would have needed to win a large percentage of a fickle, independent and often-misunderstood group of voters in order to flip enough states to affect the outcome of the election.
Their conclusion in just the states that Jill Stein is contesting is that Clinton would have had to win 70% of the Johnson/Stein votes in order to win those states and swing the election.
It's not clear that those voters would have voted for Clinton. Libertarians aren't naturally attracted to the Democratic Party or Clinton's decidedly non-libertarian policies. I suspect that there were quite a few Libertarian voters who, like some in my family, couldn't bring themselves to vote for either Trump or Clinton and so just voted for Gary Johnson. If he hadn't been on the ballot, they may well have left the presidential line blank or, as I did, written in someone whom they knew would have no choice.

By the way, the only high-profile elections that have been overturned by recounts involved differences after the election of only a few hundred votes, nothing like the thousands separating Trump and Clinton in those three states.

The Washington Post has an interesting article about how the urban-rural divide that we've observed in the U.S. exists in much of Europe also.
What shaped European politics over the past two years might appear to some like a revolution of rural Europe rising up against the establishment and economic winners.

Support for Britain leaving the European Union was highest in rural areas in the June referendum.

It is also “rural France” that might empower far-right politician Marine Le Pen next year.

In Germany, the urban establishment underestimated the backlash the recent influx of refugees would provoke in less densely populated areas.

In northern Europe's biggest countries, the rural-urban divide appears to have shaped Europe in 2016. There is no reason to assume that 2017 will be any different. The divide could affect northern Europe to a much greater extent than southern Europe, however, where cities rather than rural areas are increasingly the source of frustration.

Rural northern Europe has been in crisis for years, as younger and educated men and women have moved to cities to find employment.
There are some interesting maps included.