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Friday, August 28, 2015

Cruising the Web

Sean Trende and David Byler have given political junkies a big gift by providing a tool to try to figure out how shifts in the percentage of the GOP share of the 2016 vote of whites, blacks, Hispanics, and other ethnic groups and then plugged in their estimates of turnout of those groups to see how this would change the Electoral College vote. It's fascinating to see what effect a shift from 2008 or 2012 splits could have an impact on the election. There are some surprises in their results. What is clear is that, for the GOP to win, they need to increase their share of the non-Hispanic white vote. That would make a difference while changes in the Hispanic vote, unless there is a cataclysmic shift, would not make much of a difference in the Electoral College.
First, note the limited electoral impact of Hispanic voters. All other things being equal, Republicans would have to fall to 8 percent of the Hispanic vote before another state flips to the Democrats (they would lose the popular vote by almost 10 points in this scenario). For all the talk of Texas potentially voting Democrat, that doesn’t happen until Republicans drop to 5 percent of the Hispanic vote.

On the other hand, Republicans would have to win 49 percent of the Hispanic vote to win the popular vote (with other vote shares and turnout rates being equal to 2012), but they would still lose the Electoral College, 289-249. Republicans would have to improve to 63 percent of the Hispanic vote before they would win the Electoral College. This is, incidentally, similar to findings from FiveThirtyEight in 2013.

Second, note the impact of a potential reversion to mean in vote share and turnout among African-American voters. While Republicans won only 4 percent of the black vote in 2008 and 6 percent in 2012, the typical Republican vote share is between 9 and 11 percent. Note also that, historically, African-American participation has lagged white participation by about six percentage points: Black participation lagged white participation by five points in 2000 and 2010, by six points in 1998, 2002, and 2014, and seven points in 2004. The gap was 11 points in 2006.

So the question is: Is the mid-single-digit vote share Republicans received in 2008 and 2012 the rule now? Likewise, is African-American participation going to be equal (or slightly ahead of) white participation going forward? Perhaps the best argument for a reversion to mean is that African-American voting patterns and participation rates in 2010 and 2014 looked an awful lot like those of 1998, 2000, 2002, and 2004. This suggests that President Obama’s popularity among African-Americans may not be transferrable....

Third, we note that Republicans don’t have to put up a historically good performance among minority groups to win the election. Take the 2014 exit polls. If Republicans win demographic groups at the rates they did in that election, they would win the popular vote by around three points, and carry the Electoral College, 295-243. In this scenario, Nevada, New Mexico, and Wisconsin vote for the Democratic candidate by three points or less, while Colorado and Pennsylvania for the Republican candidate by three points or less.
I have given up on the pipe dream of the GOP winning Pennsylvania. I would think Colorado would be more of a possibility of being in reach. Anyway, this is a very fun tool to play around with. And it's fascinating to see how increasing their percentage among minority groups is not the magic bullet that so many analysts think it is. However, I would hate to see the country divided more and more into two parties divided by race even more than they are today.

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Here is a reminder of the involvement of Iran in killing Americans.
Saudi Arabia has arrested the mastermind of the 1996 bombing of the Khobar Towers housing complex in which 19 U.S. service members were killed and 372 injured, a Saudi-owned newspaper said Wednesday.

Ahmed al-Mughassil was arrested in Beirut and handed over to Saudi custody, the pan-Arab Asharq al-Awsat daily said. A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed the capture to the Associated Press.

The announcement of his arrest is a convenient reminder for opponents of President Obama's nuclear deal with Iran that Tehran has been a major supporter of terrorist attacks that have killed U.S. service members. One prominent national security expert called the timing of the arrest "suspicious."

The June 25, 1996, attack has long been blamed on Iran, and a U.S. court in 2006 ordered Tehran to pay $254 million to the families of 17 of those who died. The Supreme Court is now considering whether nearly $2 billion in frozen assets belonging to Iran's Central Bank can be used to pay the judgment.
Yu. Those are our partners in peace whose word we're supposed to trust.

Meanwhile, the State Department doesn't care that almost 200 retired admirals and generals oppose the Iran deal.
State Department Spokesperson John Kirby on Wednesday laughed off a letter from 195 retired admirals and generals opposing the Iran nuclear agreement, and dodged questions about why letters of support for the deal being touted by the government should be believed when they have far fewer signatures on them than the letters opposing it.

The Obama administration had hyped a letter from three dozen retired admirals and generals in support of the deal, only to be trumped by a letter sent to Congress on Wednesday in which 195 retired admirals and generals rejected the deal. The administration also put out a letter from rabbis in favor of the deal, but opponents of the deal immediately followed suit with more than twice as many signatures against it.

"It's getting to be kind of a weekly exercise ... [F]irst the administration comes out and promotes a letter by a certain number of former or current officials, and then the opponents of the Iran deal come out with a larger number," said Associated Press reporter Matt Lee.

Kirby laughed and seemed to reject the question by saying, "It's not about the numbers, Matt."

...."It's not about the numbers of who supports it," Kirby said after being pressed by Lee again. "And to pick a hundred of this type of person versus 50 of this person — it doesn't — that's not the relevant metric here. So let me just —"

If that's not the relevant metric, why promote it in the first place, questioned Lee. Kirby said the Obama administration is merely trying to "point to those who are in favor of the deal" and "their expertise."

"So the people that you got to sign your letter are more expert and are better qualified to comment on this than the much larger number that the opponents have gotten?" asked Lee.

Here is a scary report about how Iranian hackers have figured out how to get around GMail's security to hack accounts and change passwords.

Iran isn't the only country playing Obama for a fool. Putin has been doing it throughout Obama's presidency. Charles Krauthammer looks back at the failed reset policy that Obama and Hillary have trumpeted.
On September 5, 2014, two days after President Obama visited Estonia to symbolize America’s commitment to its security, Russian agents crossed into Estonia and kidnapped an Estonian security official. Last week, after a closed trial, Russia sentenced him to 15 years.

The reaction? The State Department issued a statement. The NATO secretary-general issued a tweet. Neither did anything. The European Union (reports the Wall Street Journal) said it was too early to discuss any possible action.
The timing of this brazen violation of NATO territory — immediately after Obama’s visit — is testimony to Vladimir Putin’s contempt for the American president. He knows Obama would do nothing. Why should he think otherwise?

● Putin breaks the arms embargo to Iran by lifting the hold on selling it S-300 missiles. Obama responds by excusing him, saying it wasn’t technically illegal and adding, with a tip of the hat to Putin’s patience: “I’m frankly surprised that it held this long.”

● Russia mousetraps Obama at the eleventh hour of the Iran negotiations, joining Iran in demanding that the conventional-weapons and ballistic-missile embargoes be dropped. Obama caves.

● Putin invades Ukraine, annexes Crimea, breaks two Minsk cease-fire agreements and erases the Russia-Ukraine border — effectively tearing up the post-Cold War settlement of 1994. Obama’s response? Pinprick sanctions, empty threats and a continuing refusal to supply Ukraine with defensive weaponry, lest he provoke Putin....

It began with the reset button, ostentatiously offered less than two months after Obama’s swearing-in. Followed six months later by the unilateral American cancellation of the missile shield the Poles and the Czechs had agreed to install on their territory. Again, lest Putin be upset.

By 2012, a still clueless Obama mocked Mitt Romney for saying that Russia is “without question our No. 1 geopolitical foe,” quipping oh so cleverly: “The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back.” After all, he explained, “the Cold War’s been over for 20 years.”

Turned out it was 2015 calling. Obama’s own top officials have been retroactively vindicating Romney. Last month, Obama’s choice for chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff declared that “Russia presents the greatest threat to our national security.” Two weeks ago, the retiring Army chief of staff, Raymond Odierno, called Russia our “most dangerous” military threat. Obama’s own secretary of defense has gone one better: “Russia poses an existential threat to the United States.”

Turns out the Cold War is not over either. Putin is intent on reviving it. Helped immensely by Obama’s epic misjudgment of Russian intentions, the balance of power has shifted — and America’s allies feel it.

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Jim Geraghty warns that running against Biden instead of Clinton should be a concern for Republicans.
Picture the day Vice President Joe Biden wins the Democratic nomination for president in 2016.

Suddenly, the classified information Hillary Clinton stored on a private, insecure e-mail server is just grist for a juicy FBI investigation — not a defining issue in the presidential race. Suddenly, Clinton’s problematic record at the State Department is downgraded to a minor sub-section of the Republican argument against President Obama’s foreign-policy performance as a whole. Suddenly her pledge to Charles Woods, the father of a Navy SEAL killed in Benghazi, that she’d “make sure that the person who made that film is arrested and prosecuted” is a historical footnote, not a key revelation into the character of the Democratic nominee.

With Biden as the nominee, the Clinton Foundation and its shady, favor-seeking foreign and domestic donors vanish as a campaign issue. So do the thorny questions of quid pro quo impropriety, real or apparent, created by those donors’ favor-seeking while Clinton sat atop the State Department.

Democrats would shift from a candidate with terrible retail politics skills to one who was born to schmooze — although perhaps Biden’s style is a bit “hands-on.” Their standard-bearer would no longer be a woman widely known as a “congenital liar,” but a man whose struggles with message discipline are the stuff of legend — a man seen as too verbally reckless to knowingly lie to people.

They would go from a nominee who has abysmally hostile relations with the press to one who is seen as wacky and entertaining. For reporters, the supreme challenge is getting access to Clinton and, on those rare occasions when she takes their questions, getting her to spout anything other than focus-grouped pabulum. The supreme challenge with Joe Biden is getting him to stop.
I agree with Geraghty's point. At this point Hillary is such a damaged candidate that opposing her might be a lot easier than anyone thought it would be six months ago. I can well imagine that the media would cover Biden in a fond manner downplaying any gaffes as just funny ol' Joe being himself.

Michael Barone examines the dangers to the Clinton campaign from Joe Biden. She's may have already lost what Barone calls the Birkenstock Belt, a large part of the Democratic coalition. Right now she's winning the black vote, but what could happen if it shifted to Biden as Obama's heir. That's why the Clinton campaign is doing all they can behind the scenes to discourage Biden from voting even as she says suitably friendly things in public that no one believes she really means. She's lining up endorsements and making public all her organization in place in key states while she going to be fundraising constantly after Labor Day.

Barone then goes on to contemplate what could happen if those Trump supporters who have not voted previously in GOP primaries come out to cast their votes for him.

Hillary has flipped her position on ethanol now that she needs the vote of Iowans.
During the 2002 debate over an energy bill that included an ethanol mandate, Clinton took to the Senate floor to say that while she believed ethanol had potential, she couldn't support "an astonishing new anti-consumer government mandate — that every US refiner must use an ever-increasing volume of ethanol."

Earlier this year, Clinton wrote in a local Iowa paper that Iowans "deserve to be able to get ahead and stay ahead. To make that possible," she supports the ethanol mandate.
The ethanol mandate is a prime example of the government surrendering to pressure from Iowans manipulating their early caucuses to get politicians to endorse a policy that does nothing but negatively distort markets.
Ethanol mandates drive up gasoline prices for drivers, food prices for shoppers and feed prices for ranchers. They deplete water supplies, waste cropland and corrupt our politics. Hillary Clinton knows this. But she also knows how important the Iowa caucuses are.

Some commentators frame this tawdry story as one state's avaricious self-interest at the expense of the public interest. This is true. Iowans should be ashamed that they use their privileged position in American politics to enrich themselves. It is cronyism, distilled.

Free and enlightened societies are built on the opposite idea: That those who are given a privilege are thereby bound to pursue the broader good. Republics and economies are ruined when the insiders use their inside post to enrich themselves and their friends.

Iowans are, in a sense, trustees of the Republican and Democratic primary voters in 49 other states. Through the ethanol boondoggle, they break that trust.

But Iowans and the corn lobbyists don't get all the blame. The politicians who sell out to them bear the ultimate culpability. And selling out is not inevitable.

Rich Lowry writes that Trump's success is a mark of the failures of the other GOP candidates particularly Bush and Walker.
The weakness starts at the top, or what was supposed to be the top. In the normal course of things, the establishment front-runner provides coherence to the field. Hence, the expectation that the field would have Jeb Bush and a not-Bush, or maybe two. For the moment, this assumption has collapsed, as the current shape of the field is Trump and everyone else.

This is quite the comedown for Bush. His “shock and awe” has turned into getting sand kicked on him at the beach by a loudmouth and bully. It’s not just that Bush is trailing Trump badly in the polls; he has acceded to the terms of the debate being set by the mogul. It wasn’t long ago that Bush swore off talking about Trump, as basically beneath him. Now, he is sniping with him daily.

Before he got in the race, Bush spoke of only wanting to do it if he could run joyfully. Little did he know that he would be joyously grappling with an ill-informed blowhard who takes it as his daily obligation to insult Bush and trample on the pieties he holds dear.

In the argument with Trump over mass deportation, clearly Bush is right. But the split screen with Trump doesn’t necessarily do him any favors. Trump is such a forceful communicator that he comes off as some sort of throwback alpha male, whereas Bush is such an earnest wonk he looks and sounds like a sensitive dad from a contemporary sitcom. It’s like watching a WWE wrestler get a stern talking to from Ned Flanders.

How stupid is the Jeb Bush campaign to tout the endorsement of Eric Cantor? Whom do they think that will impress? How hard did they have to search to find a way to underline how out of touch Bush is with conservative voters?

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The FEC is getting overburdened having to process all the jokey candidates running for president.

And here's what Obama has done for his own party.
Since President Obama took office, 85 of 98 state legislative bodies got more Republican....

Overall, of the 98 state senates and houses/assemblies, the Republicans saw gains in 40 upper chambers and 45 lower ones. Meaning far fewer elected Democrats, and a smaller bench. Many of those Democrats are necessarily from swing districts, as our Aaron Blake pointed out last year -- the sort of districts from which parties like to recruit.

How many Democrats are we talking about? According to the NCSL data, there were 4,082 Democrats in state senates and state houses in 2009. In 2015, there were 3,163 -- a decrease of 22.5 percent.

That's 900-plus fewer Democrats to move up the ladder.
That's why the Democratic bench is so weak and they're looking towards septuagenarians as their most promising presidential candidates. And it's going to cause them recruitment problems as they search for Democrats to run for governor, senator, and representative.

Here are some suggestions on how to resist the "Left's culture control" machine.

William Sousa defends Broken Windows policing.

Josiah Peterson refutes Elizabeth Warren point by point on Planned Parenthood. She was dishonest and repeatedly misstated Republican positions.

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The PUblic Interest Legal Foundation has determined that 141 counties in the United States have more registered voters than people alive.

Oh, geez. Vox doesn't know the difference between the National Rifle Association and the National Recovery Administration.

So which superhero does each GOP candidate remind you of?

Take a break from depressing news and discouraging political analyses and listen to this interesting podcast about Deflategate.
AEI economist, Stan Veuger deflates the erroneous and infamous Wells Report fueling the prosecution. After examining all evidence, he has concluded that there’s “no direct evidence that the Patriot’s balls were deflated.”

Later, Houston Chronicle writer and lawyer, Stephanie Stradley sorts through the legalese of the Tom Brady suspension. Yahoo Sports Reporter, Andy Behrens, gauges how the case could impact Fantasy Football rosters this season. And the Washington Post’s Sally Jenkins weighs the potential legacy fall out from the case.
I found it very interesting, especially the consensus among the reporters that the NFL really overreached and misled the public about their investigation.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Cruising the Web

Jonah Goldberg has a great column noting how so many Democrats are horrified at the thought of reinterpreting the Constitution concerning birthright citizenship.
Now bear in mind, all of these Democrats oppose justices who believe the Constitution should be read narrowly, according to the original intent or plain meaning of the text. They like justices who worship at the altar of the “living Constitution” — you know, the mythical document that magically provides rights never imagined by the Founding Fathers.

Meanwhile, the front-runner for the Democratic nomination, Hillary Clinton, announced that one of her four central goals is to change the First Amendment. She wants to do this on the grounds that we must do anything we can to get rid of “unaccountable money” in our political system.

Never mind that this is a funny position for a woman who plans on raising a reported $2 billion to win the presidency and whose foundation — which is neatly aligned with her political ambitions — is awash in foreign money. If only she hadn’t scrubbed her illicit private email server, I’m sure she could allay any fears that she is tainted by unaccountable money.

And yet, where is the outrage?

It isn’t coming from activist groups like People for the American Way, an organization founded to uphold the First Amendment. It has denounced the Republican effort to tinker with the 14th Amendment as an affront to human decency, but it applauds Clinton’s desire to tamper with the First Amendment as proof of her commitment to democracy.

Some Republicans disagree with the Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Wong Kim Ark (1898), which applied the 14th Amendment to immigrants born here. Some Democrats disagree with the court’s decision in Citizens United v. FEC, which says the First Amendment applies to groups of citizens acting in concert. Both, or neither, may be right, but only Republicans are forbidden from acting on their conviction.

Whenever a Republican is asked about potential court appointments, he must swear that he will offer no “litmus tests,” specifically on abortion. But Democrats routinely vow that they will only appoint living constitutionalists who see a right to abortion-on-demand lurking between the lines of the Bill of Rights. Clinton recently added a new litmus test. She’s told donors — accountable ones, no doubt — that she would only appoint justices who would overturn the Citizens United decision.

Don’t strain yourself trying to hear the outrage. Outrage is saved for Republicans.

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Aaron Goldstein contrasts Ben Carson's reaction to the question Megyn Kelly asked him during the debate to the three-week tiff that Trump has been nursing against Kelly. I'd forgotten the question she asked him.
For all intents and purposes, Kelly basically asked Carson if he was an idiot. And yet unlike Trump, Carson didn’t tell Kelly she wasn’t being very nice. Instead, he handled himself with grace and dignity. I’ve had some deep reservations about Carson, but there is something to be said for not becoming defensive when something is asked of you. I’m sure Carson didn’t care for Kelly’s question, but we don’t see him whining about being asked a tough question nearly three weeks after the fact. In which case, perhaps Dr. Carson can give Trump a prescription that will toughen his thin skin.

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Christina Hoff Sommers nails it.
In August 2014, 12 members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard charged into 28-year-old artist Atena Farghadani’s house, blindfolded her, and took her to prison.

She had posted a satirical cartoon on Facebook to protest proposed legislation to restrict birth control and women’s rights. Farghadani has since been found guilty of “spreading propaganda” and “insulting members of parliament through paintings.” She has been sentenced to 12 years in prison.

Farghadani is one of millions of women whose basic rights are being ruthlessly violated. In countries like Iran, Yemen, Egypt, and Cambodia, women are struggling for freedoms most women in the West take for granted.

But American feminists are relatively silent about these injustices — especially feminists on campus. During the 1980s, there were massive demonstrations on American college campuses against racial apartheid in South Africa. There is no remotely comparable movement on today’s campuses against the gender apartheid prevalent in large parts of the world. Why not?

Today’s young feminist activists are far too preoccupied with their own supposed victimhood to make common cause with women like Farghadani.

This past year I visited and spoke at several US campuses, including Yale, UCLA, Oberlin, and Georgetown. I found activist feminist students passionately absorbed in the cause of liberating themselves from the grasp of the oppressive patriarchal order. Their trigger warnings, safe spaces and micro-aggression watches are all about saving themselves from the ravages of the male hegemony.

It’s not that they don’t feel bad for women in places like Iran or Yemen. They do. But they believe they share a similar fate.

And they can cite a litany of victim statistics from their gender studies class that shows their plight. Someone needs to tell them that most of those statistics are specious and that, although the threat of harm is a human constant, they are among the most liberated and privileged — and safest — people on earth.

Because their professors would not tell them, that someone turned out to be me; for this I was furnished with a police escort on more than one occasion.

Samantha Power, the able US ambassador to the UN and human rights champion, recently addressed the graduating class of Barnard College. Instead of urging them to support women struggling against oppression in places like Afghanistan, she congratulated them for waging a parallel struggle on the US campus.

She cited Emma Sulkowicz — a much-publicised Columbia University student who carried a mattress for months to protest her alleged rape by a fellow student — as a symbol of ongoing oppression of US women, and compared her plight with those of young women in Afghanistan struggling for elementary gender justice.

Never mind that a campus discipline committee found the accused not guilty; never mind the questionable basis of Sulkowicz’s public shaming campaign. Sulkowicz lives in a country where laws, institutions, and customs protect her. The women of Afghanistan do not. Afghan women are coping with the Taliban; Sulkowicz is coping with Columbia classmates. The US ambassador to the UN should be able to distinguish the two.

It is not my view that because women in countries like Iran or Afghanistan have it so much worse, Western women should tolerate less serious injustices at home. Emphatically they should not.

But too often, today’s gender activists are not fighting injustice, but fighting phantom epidemics and nursing petty grievances. Two leading feminist hashtags of 2015 are #FreeTheNipples and #LovetheLines. The former is a campaign to desexualise women’s breasts; the latter promotes stretch-mark acceptance. If the imprisoned women of Iran and Afghanistan were free to tweet, what would they say about these struggles?
It is so very true. And these so-called feminists should be called on their misplaced values at every turn.

Tevi Troy has an interesting column looking at what the 2016 GOP candidates are reading - or claiming to be reading. It gives a look at what they consider important.

Marc Thiessen reminds us of an ominous precedent that should worry Hillary Clinton.
Hillary Clinton likes to point out that she is not the first senior national security official to conduct official business on a home computer system. She’s right about that, but the precedent should not give the Democratic presidential front-runner much comfort.

Former CIA director John Deutch was also found to have stored classified documents — including top-secret intelligence — on computers in his homes in Bethesda and Belmont, Mass., leading to an investigation by the CIA inspector general and a criminal investigation by the Justice Department. Deutch was stripped of his security clearance and ended up reaching a plea agreement admitting to his crimes — but was saved by a last-minute pardon from none other than . . . President Bill Clinton....

On Feb. 18, 2000, the CIA inspector general issued a scathing report in which he found that throughout his tenure as director, Deutch had processed “large volumes of highly classified information” on unprotected home computers. After the computers were seized, he wrote, “a technical exploitation team, consisting of personnel expert in data recovery, retrieved the data from Deutch’s unclassified magnetic media and computers” and found “classified information . . . related to covert action, Top Secret communications intelligence and the National Reconnaissance Program budget.”

Among the classified documents found on Deutch’s hard drive and memory cards were multiple memorandums to the president and vice president that “contained information at the Top Secret/Codeword level.” The specific information was redacted in the inspector general’s public report, but Newsweek reported that it included documents related to Iraq and a 1996 terrorist bombing in Saudi Arabia that killed 19 U.S. troops.

In one case, the data recovery team discovered that “[t]he files on [a memory] card with the unclassified sticker had been erased; however, the contract network engineer was able to recover data by the use of a commercially available software utility.” He found top-secret information on it.

Another parallel with Clinton: The inspector general found that Deutch had used the same unclassified computers to process both classified information and conduct personal business, which made the “classified information residing on Deutch’s computers . . . vulnerable to possible electronic access and exploitation.”
Not quite a joke, is it - even on Snapchat?

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Robert Tracinski has a typically intelligent column trying to figure out how many of Trump's supporters would follow him if he were to run as an independent candidate. Would he have the impact of a Perot, a Nader, or be more like Ron Paul. Tracinski breaks down Trump's supporters into six different groups and postulates that it depends how large each group is among the Trumpians since each group has a different likelihood of voting for Trump in a three-way race.
1) “Low-information voters” who don’t really know much about Trump or his policies, but hey, he’s a celebrity, so they tell pollsters they’re voting for him.

2) Actual conservatives who like Trump because he’s a tough-talking “fighter” and a businessman who “gets things done.”

3) Disgruntled non-ideological independents who normally don’t vote because “it never makes any difference.”

4) Single-issue anti-immigration fanatics.

5) Archie Bunker types who normally vote Republican because they see it as the party of “identity politics for white people,” the ones who want the country to be run by and for “people like me.” These are the folks on Twitter and in the comments fields of my articles who extol the virtue of “European” immigrants, without realizing that “Hispanic” derives from the word for Spain, and that Spain is in Europe.

6) Outright racists who don’t normally vote because neither party has the guts to embrace White Power.

Obviously, if it’s mostly 1) and 6), we can expect the Trump phenomenon to flame out quickly. Group 1 is large, but their political interest is fleeting and they don’t tend to turn out for actual elections. Group 6 is, thankfully, quite small. And the more Group 1 actually hears about the people in Group 6—say, the guys who were inspired by Trump’s rhetoric to beat up a Hispanic man in Boston, or the guys shouting “White Power” at the Trump rally in Alabama—the more they are going to decide they don’t want to be on this particular bandwagon.
Read the rest. Obviously, we don't really know how large each group is, but Nate Cohn has some analysis in the NYT using Civis polls which polls only from registered voters. This gives us some insight into what fraction of Trump's support comes from people less likely to vote. The Civis poll showed Trump with 16% rather than the 22% which other polls are averaging. Of course, those who are not registered to day could certainly register before primaries begin. But the analysis is certainly interesting in this moment when all we have to go on are polls.

Though, if we're to believe the Huffington Post, Trump is getting ready to promise that he won't run as an independent.

One thing that Trump is extremely good at is garnering media attention. Every day there seems to be another storyline about Trump that monopolizes the media. Nate Silver marvels at Trump's ability to keep himself in the news.
What’s interesting is how Trump seemed to go out of his way after the debate to ensure that he’d remain the center of attention, with his tirade against Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly (a feud that he’s since resurrected). That tended to drown out most of the coverage of whether, say, Fiorina or Kasich had gained momentum after the debate, perhaps preventing them from having the sort of feedback loop of favorable attention that can sometimes trigger surges in the polls.

I don’t know whether this was a deliberate strategy on Trump’s behalf. But if so, it’s pretty brilliant. Trump is perhaps the world’s greatest troll, someone who is amazingly skilled at disrupting the conversation by any means necessary, including by drawing negative, tsk-tsking attention to himself. In the current, “free-for-all” phase of the campaign — when there are 17 candidates and you need only 20 percent or so of the vote to have the plurality in GOP polls — this may be a smart approach. If your goal is to stay at the center of attention rather than necessarily to win the nomination, it’s worth making one friend for every three enemies, provided that those friends tell some pollster that they’d hypothetically vote for you.

Is it sustainable? In the long run, probably not. There are lots of interesting candidates in the GOP field, whether you’re concerned with the horse race, their policy positions or simply just entertainment value. Sooner or later, the media will find another candidate’s story interesting. Cruz has a lot of upside potential in the troll department, for instance, along with better favorability ratings than Trump and a slightly more plausible chance of being the Republican nominee.

But there’s not a lot of hard campaign news to dissect in August. Fend off the occasional threat by throwing a stink bomb whenever another story risks upstaging you, and you can remain at the center of the conversation, and atop the polls, for weeks at a time.

John Podhoretz sees parallels between Obama and Trump.
In fact, what Trump is promising is simply a different form of Obamaism, and that is what perversely makes him attractive to so many people.

Obama’s astonishing second-term efforts to do an end-run around the constitutional limits of the presidency have given Trump’s approach peculiar resonance with certain conservatives.

They’ve watched in horrified amazement as Obama has single-handedly postponed parts of the Affordable Care Act; unilaterally installed people in federal jobs (at the National Labor Relations Board) that require congressional consent and announced in November 2014 that he’d cease enforcing certain immigration laws and effectively grant protection to 5 million so-called “dreamers” — when it is his constitutional obligation to enforce existing laws passed by Congress.

Trump is, in effect, promising to be a right-wing Obama, to run roughshod over the rules to fix things Obama and other politicians have broken.

It’s easy to see why this is seductive.
George Will writes on this same theme of noting that conservatives excoriate Obama's unilateral actions, yet seem to desire the GOP to act in the same way.
Some supporters simply find Trump entertainingly naughty. Others, however, have remarkable cognitive dissonance. They properly execrate Obama’s executive highhandedness that expresses progressivism’s traditional disdain for the separation of powers that often makes government action difficult. But these same Trumpkins simultaneously despise GOP congressional leaders because they do not somehow jettison the separation of powers and work conservatism’s unimpeded will from Capitol Hill.


For conservatives, this is the dispiriting irony: The administrative state’s intrusiveness (e.g., its regulatory burdens), irrationalities (e.g., the tax code’s toll on economic growth), incompetence (Amtrak, ethanol, etc.) and illegality (we see you, IRS) may benefit the principal architect of this state, the Democratic party. This is because the other party’s talented critics of the administrative state are being drowned out by Trump’s recent discovery that Americans understandably disgusted by government can be beguiled by a summons to Caesarism.

Trump, who uses the first-person singular pronoun even more than the previous world-record holder (Obama), promises that constitutional arrangements need be no impediment to the leader’s savvy, “management” brilliance, and iron will. Trump supporters consider the presidency today an entry-level job because he is available to turn government into a triumph of the leader’s will.
I would sure hate to see Republicans embrace the idea that our leaders should act as unilaterally as Obama has, but I'm afraid that they will. Once that elastic of presidential power gets stretched out, it never bounces back to the vision the Founding Fathers had.

Amusingly, Donald Trump had a very different opinion of Megyn Kelly's debate moderating skills back in 2011 when Trump was toying with the idea of moderating a GOP debate.
Kelly asked, “Do you really think you’re a better moderator than I am?”

Trump responded, “No, I could never beat you. That wouldn’t even be close. That would be no contest. You have done a great job, by the way, and I mean it.”

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Politico has a long article about what is going on behind the scenes as Biden weighs running for office. He seems to clearly not have made up his mind. Reportedly, his family is still rather ambivalent.Contrary to some reports, Obama leans to supporting Clinton over Biden.
Obama, according to current and former West Wing officials, is more inclined to support Clinton’s candidacy. Despite her woes, he sees her as a more electable candidate and a more effective keeper of his policy legacy. He’s done everything but endorse her already, putting his vast fundraising network in the hands of Clinton’s super PAC allies. Two of Obama’s top White House aides, John Podesta and Jennifer Palmieri, are running Clinton’s campaign and report regularly to their old West Wing friends — including the president.

But Obama has told people around him to give the vice president “space” to make his decision, and urged his staff not to make Biden feel pressured not to run.
Meanwhile, he can spend the time he's using to make up his mind to keep his name out before the public. As Harry Enten notes how Biden is keeping the media interested, there are still some interesting data about the success of candidates who jump into the race late.

The media used to pride itself on not talking about minor presidential children. But the NYT throws that circumspection out by running an article about how Malia Obama is influencing fashion. She's stepping into the gashonista shoes of her mother whom fashion writers have spent years raving about.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Cruising the Web

Rich Lowry reminds us of how many supposedly smart people have expressed their envy of China's leaders and government. It's time to stop that idiocy.
China long ago replaced Japan as the Asian boogeyman whose superior economic model is going to sweep all before it. This is such a readily accepted article of faith that it is held, in its various forms, across the spectrum from self-consciously cosmopolitan elites like Thomas Friedman to bombastic populists like Donald Trump.

Friedman, the New York Times columnist, has written, “I cannot help but feel a tinge of jealousy at China’s ability to be serious about its problems and actually do things that are tough and require taking things away from people” (including, it must be said, their freedom).

Such is his regard for China’s governance that he confessed in one column to impure thoughts: “Forgive me, Heavenly Father, for I have cast an envious eye on the authoritarian Chinese political system, where leaders can, and do, just order that problems be solved.”

Trump routinely rues how much smarter China’s leaders are than ours, and in his announcement speech noted, with regret, how China “has bridges that make the George Washington Bridge look like small potatoes.”

It is manifestly true that a closed, low-income economy that adopts some market reforms can grow quickly; that a dictatorial government can manipulate the economy to serve its ends and that government-directed investment can build lots of bridges.

None of this, though, makes for a sustainable, First World economy, let alone a juggernaut that should be feared and envied by the United States.

China might have bright, shiny airports and gauzy GDP numbers, but that is window dressing on a badly distorted economic system that is being managed about as well as you’d expect by a group of corrupt, self-interested statists, which is to say not well at all.

Some perspective is in order with regard to China’s economic position vis-à-vis the United States. As Derek Scissors of the American Enterprise Institute points out, “American national wealth is almost twice that of China and Japan combined,” and “the average American makes 12 times as much annually as the average Chinese.”

China’s double-digit growth numbers might be impressive, but even assuming that they can be believed, they aren’t as telling as they seem.

“Remember,” Paul Dibb and John Lee write in a report for the Australian-based Kokoda Foundation think tank, “that the Soviet Union officially tripled in size from 1950 to 1973, yet its economic model was fundamentally flawed as we realized in hindsight. GDP is essentially an accountant’s tool used to document final economic activity within a country in any given year. But GDP does not measure whether economic activity is productive, profitable or even commercially irrational.”
There are lessons to learn from China's economic earthquake.
Do not blame President Obama for poor decisions by the Chinese government. But remember that America might be in the same boat today if, instead of wasting a mere $1 trillion on a stimulus package, he had taken the advice of his party's progressive wing and pursued a stimulus package several times as great.

The first U.S. casualty of China's implosion is Obama supporters' argument that a boom in the U.S. stock market signals that five years of stagnation will soon come to an end. Obama was recently quoted crediting himself with restoring people's 401(k)s, a claim he might live to regret.

The second casualty, one can at least hope, will be the ignorant rhetoric on trade that comes from Sanders, Donald Trump, and the other blowhard politicians who constantly abuse China as the source of America's economic ills. To whatever extent America suffers, it will be because trading partners tend to flourish together rather than at each other's expense. As China's stature in the world economy declines, these demagogues will finally get the "victory" they wanted, and Americans might discover it is not so sweet.

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This is what happens when everything is politicized.
The Pentagon’s inspector general is investigating allegations that military officials have skewed intelligence assessments about the United States-led campaign in Iraq against the Islamic State to provide a more optimistic account of progress, according to several officials familiar with the inquiry.

The investigation began after at least one civilian Defense Intelligence Agency analyst told the authorities that he had evidence that officials at United States Central Command — the military headquarters overseeing the American bombing campaign and other efforts against the Islamic State — were improperly reworking the conclusions of intelligence assessments prepared for policy makers, including President Obama, the government officials said.

Ah, the irony.
In the jubilation of the Obama election victories of 2008 and 2012, the Left warned Republicans that the party of McCain and Romney was now “too old, too white, too male — and too few.” Columnists between 2008 and 2012 ad nauseam berated Republicans on the grounds that their national candidates “no longer looked like America.” The New York Times stable crowed that the Republicans of 2008 were “all white and nearly all male” — not too long before McCain chose Sarah Palin as his running-mate. In reaction to the defeats of McCain and Romney, Salon and Harper’s ran stories on the “Grand Old White Party” and “Angry White Men.”

For Democratic progressives, Hawaiian Barack Obama could not be of mixed ancestry and decidedly middle class, but simply “black” or “African American” — as if he had shared the Jim Crow experience of Clarence Thomas. Nor was there any allowance that race itself had become hard to sort into neat categories in a nation of immigration, intermarriage, and assimilation, in which millions of Americans were one-half this and one-quarter that. Rachel Dolezal and Shaun King proved that well enough by successfully constructing themselves as white for quite a long time.

Liberals had reversed the vision of Martin Luther King Jr.: The color of our skin, not the content of our character, is what matters. Superficial appearance, the ossified politics of the tribe — the curse of the world outside the United States, where corpses have piled up in the Balkans, Rwanda, and Iraq — alone mattered. Identity politics dictated that a shrinking white insular conservative party lacked the Democrats’ “inclusiveness” and “commitment to diversity.” Icons like Barack Obama were what mattered.

So we come to 2016, and the Democrats, of all people, are suddenly in danger of being the washer calling the dryer white. Who exactly are the serious and not so serious presidential candidates of each party?

On the Republican side, there is plenty of diversity as defined by liberals — Ben Carson, Carly Fiorina, Bobby Jindal, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio.

And on the Democratic side? The only representative of “diversity” is Hillary Clinton, who counts by virtue of being female, but who is white and soon to be 68, a fixture on the national political scene for more than a quarter of a century. Her claim on the nomination seems to be that it’s “her turn,” as if Democrats in the post-Obama era nominate their candidates on the basis of seniority and waiting patiently in line. Her status and connections are apparently seen as exempting her from the consequences of violating federal laws that apply to other public servants.

Her opponent is, in traditional liberal parlance, an old white guy and equally a political fixture, the 73-year-old socialist Bernie Sanders, independent senator from Vermont, who has been running for or holding some office for the last 40 years.

What happens if the Democrats cannot choose between an avowed socialist who is not registered in the party whose nomination he seeks, and Hillary Clinton, who has a felony-indictment sword of Damocles over her head?

It is said that perhaps Secretary of State John Kerry might run, a 71-year-old white guy who has done nothing but politics for the last 30-plus years. He followed Clinton as secretary of state, so why not also as presidential candidate? But if Kerry’s loss in the 2004 presidential race, or his ponderous and pontificating style, still grate on Democrats, there are plenty of other old white guys who could step up.

Al Gore is sometimes mentioned, a 67-year-old white male and former Washington insider. But if Gore’s propensity for occasional hysterics and his multimillion-dollar green hypocrisies are a problem, the Democrats can turn to 72-year-old white guy Vice President Joe Biden. Biden has been a Washington fixer who has done nothing outside of politics for the last 40 years.
That's why it's so funny to see liberal writer, Michael Tomasky, fret about how ugly a Biden-Clinton race would quickly become.
Why? Three reasons. The first has to do with race and gender and history. When Clinton announced in 2007, she was going to be the first woman president. Then Obama got in, and he was going to be the first black president. He totally trumped her on the history-maker scale. I realize not everyone saw it that way, but in general terms, given the, ah, special racial history of this country, and given the role the Democratic Party played in changing that history for the better, Obama had the larger and more morally urgent historical claim to make in the minds of most Democrats and liberals. The woman would have to wait, as women so often do.

Well, she’s waited. Not that she had any choice in the matter, but she did. And now, to a lot of Democrats, it’s her turn. The party can make history twice in a row. Imagine!

So now, an old white guy is going to saunter in and step on that? And if he’s going to do it, he’s not going to be able to do it politely, which brings us to reason number two why this would get ugly. Biden is not going to get anywhere with a campaign that says: “I have better ideas than Hillary Clinton does,” because he probably doesn’t, and she has perfectly fine and laudable ideas, even if a lot of liberals don’t want to admit that yet.

No. He’s going to have to run a campaign that says, sub rosa: “I’m a stronger and safer nominee because she’s corrupt.” Because that’s the only argument, is it not? He can’t out-populist her, really, even with Warren promoting him—he’s been in politics for 40 years and he’s always been a pretty conventional establishment liberal on economics. He can maybe say he has more experience, but she’s got plenty of that, and it’s not a deficiency; it would be like Tim Duncan saying “I have more experience than LeBron James.” Yeah, you do. So what?

Biden would have no choice but to build a run around the idea that she’s too risky. He or his surrogates will need to press the idea that the party could nominate Clinton and then next fall, Trey Gowdy finds that Holy Grail email that brings the whole thing crashing down. In other words, his candidacy is going to have to be built around what is in essence a Republican Party talking point.

And if he goes for the jugular, the Clinton team will surely respond in kind. They’re not wallflowers, those folks. They know how to fight. And they’d be fighting on behalf of the millions of Democratic women out there for whom it’s Clinton’s time. That’s her emotional rationale. But Biden has an emotional rationale, too: Beau. Where women will be protective of Hillary, Biden’s backers will be protective of him, too, because of his war hero son’s death.
I heard Tomasky being interviewed on the satellite radio POTUS channel as I drove home yesterday and he seemed really put out that Biden would think of challenging Hillary. And he was pretty contemptuous of the idea that Warren would jump in as Biden's suggested running mate. Maybe that is just how one liberal Hillary supporter sees thing, but I imagine that there are also a whole lot of Democrats who are terrified that Hillary's woes will bring down the party just when the Republicans seem to be flummoxed by the whole Trump phenomenon.

Meanwhile, a Boston Herald reporter explains why Warren should be very wary by hooking her wagon up to the Biden freight train.
Unless Elizabeth Warren wants to brand herself a Class A phony on consumer protection and gender equality, she shouldn’t hitch her wagon to Joe Biden’s runaway train.....

Then there’s the glaring political conflict over Biden’s cozy relationship with credit card companies and financial services institutions.

When he was the senator from Delaware, Biden made deals benefiting MBNA — which is now a subsidiary of Bank of America — at the expense of consumers. His support of the “Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005” made it harder for consumers to get bankruptcy protection.

Given Warren’s claim to fame as the sheriff of Wall Street and the protector of the consumer, a political marriage to Joe Biden would tarnish her credibility.

It’s also important to note that for the past 20 years Biden was the single-largest recipient of campaign donations and PAC money from MBNA, according to multiple reports. Please, somebody tell Elizabeth Warren.

Then there’s Biden’s embarrassing racial and ethnic slips and occasional four-letter words. To say he’s committed gaffes over the years is an understatement.

For all the reporters and talking heads in the media who criticize Donald Trump for being politically incorrect, they’ve been hypocritically silent when it comes to President Obama’s veep, who has been one of the worst PC offenders of his generation.

If Biden pulls this off, prepare to hail the serial-groper-in-chief.

Reading through the released Hillary emails, Brendan Bordelon identifies the tone of sycophancy from her top aides. There was also a clear effort to insulate her so that she was hearing mostly praise from her underlings.
E-mails between Clinton and her personal advisers, meanwhile, were brimming with fawning praise for the secretary. Dozens of times, Mills forwarded messages from State Department observers and lower-level staffers congratulating Clinton on a successful speech or media appearance. “A little positive reinforcement to pass on to the S,” read the subject line of one March 28, 2009 e-mail, in which a University of Southern California lecturer called her trip to Mexico a “stunning success” and “jaw-dropping.” Mills also forwarded an April 30, 2009 message from Paul Begala, a former Clinton adviser. “I gave Sec. Clinton an A+ in our dopey CNN report card last night,” he wrote. “So did Donna Brazile. The only two A+’s all night.” Clinton would sometimes ask her staff to print the more effusive commendations.

Many other e-mails contain news reports or editorials complimentary of Clinton’s tenure. “Andrew Sullivan with the Hillary love,” read one e-mail from September 16, 2012, which included a positive op-ed from the Boston Herald. “Higher ground is where all great solutions and triumphs are found and scaled,” wrote Roy Pence, a Clinton-family friend included on the e-mail chain. “HRC, once again, is taking people there.” A perusal of the documents revealed no e-mails highlighting negative media coverage of the secretary.

Some of the e-mails show an apparent desire to bolster Clinton’s confidence in the shadow of President Obama. In one especially effusive e-mail, Reines praised Clinton’s July 26, 2009 appearance on Meet the Press. “You threw a perfect game — or at least a no hitter,” he wrote, saying her performance proved “you’re in a class all your own (including the President who became enmeshed in the Gates incident.)” While not officially a State Department employee, Clinton shadow adviser Sidney Blumenthal attacked President Obama while simultaneously congratulating Clinton. “I don’t know about details of Obama’s plan, but you looked terrific at the speech,” he wrote on September 11, 2009. In an August 22, 2011 missive lauding Clinton for presiding over the fall of Libyan dictator Moammar Qaddafi, Blumenthal struck out at the “flamingly stupid ‘leading from behind’ phrase,” which the Obama White House was using to describe the intervention.

At times, Clinton’s inner circle seemed aware of the lengths they’d go to buck up their boss. “Your arrival in Kabul landed the front page picture in the NYT and sparked an on-line poll in Huff Post about your coat. At last check, its favorability rating is 77 percent,” wrote Crowley in a rare direct message to Clinton on November 19, 2009. Reines, CCed on the message, quickly wrote back. “Now I know why Huma has been at a computer all day clicking the mouse incessantly,” he quipped.
This gives an insight into her style of leadership: surround herself with yes-men and insulate herself as much as possible from everyone else.

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Amidst the debates on the Republican side on immigration, Byron York takes a look on what Clinton has said on the subject.
In a Cinco de Mayo appearance in Nevada a few months ago, Clinton staked out a policy wherein she pledged would go beyond President Obama's already-expansive (and arguably unconstitutional) approach.

First, Clinton pledged to uphold Obama's unilateral executive edict giving legal protection to immigrants who came to the United States illegally as children.

Second, Clinton pledged to uphold Obama's court-challenged unilateral executive edict giving legal protection to the parents of many of those children.

"I will fight to stop partisan attacks on the executive actions that would put Dreamers ... at risk of deportation," Clinton said. "And if Congress continues to refuse to act, as president I would do everything possible under the law to go even further ... and deal with some of these other issues, like the re-unification of families that were here and that have been split up."

Third, Clinton promised citizenship to the roughly 12 million immigrants in the country illegally. "We can't wait any longer," she said. "We can't wait any longer for a path to full and equal citizenship."

And fourth, just as important as what Clinton said was what she did not say. The key to making any immigration changes, for many voters, is to increase security at the border and institute real interior enforcement; it seems likely voters would accept some combination of security and legalization. But did Clinton talk about that in her Cinco de Mayo presentation? No.

There's no doubt Clinton has moved far to the left on immigration in the last decade. Asked about the subject during a 2003 radio interview, she said, "We've got to do several things and I am, you know, adamantly against illegal immigrants. ... We've got to do more at our borders, and people have to stop employing illegal immigrants."

During her campaign for the White House in 2007, Clinton pledged, "I will not support driver's licenses for undocumented people."

And even more recently, in 2014, when there was a flood of unaccompanied minor children crossing the border into the United States illegally, Clinton said, "They should be sent back as soon as it can be determined who the responsible adults in their families are ..."

All that is out the window now as Clinton, desperate to keep the Obama coalition intact for 2016, adopts many of the positions of the immigration activist groups that set the agenda on the left.

Frank Luntz is amazed that people in his focus group are ticked off at the Establishment. Ace is shocked that he's shocked and hasn't, apparently, read anything about the appeal of Donald Trump. Luntz represents the cluelessness of the political consultant class who just don't know what people are thinking.
I have previously said -- and I've said this a dozen times before, especially in the 2007 amnesty fight -- that the Establishment in DC, paid millions and feted as gurus of the political pulse of the nation -- knows far, far less than the base than the average low-level blogger who bothers to read his comments and talk with them.

By the way, of course: That's expressly the reason Andrew Breitbart read the comments, especially here. Well, one reason was that he simply enjoyed them. But the other reason, he told me, was to figure out where people, as a mass, were on issues, where their passion was, where they were going.

You would think that these well-paid consultants, claiming the ability to channel the sentiments of the party, would do this very most basic sort of research into the national mood.

It's all open source, assholes. You don't have to pay a dime to do what Breitbart used to, which is to use some program to suck up all comments into a file so he could read them when he didn't have the internet (on a plane, etc.)

But no -- High Guru Frank Luntz is shocked to the point of his legs shaking as the world reels beneath his feet to discover the grassroots really, really despises the Establishment, and no longer trusts them, and in fact considers them political enemies in the same way they consider the Democrats to be political enemies.

This is news to them.
Meanwhile, Ace is disgusted at Trump's gratuitous slamming of Megyn Kelly on Monday.
What is Trump's plan? Or, rather: What would be Trump's plan, if he were capable of planning?

Well, he'd take his starting base of support -- a not-inconsiderable base, given that he's at 35% in New Hampshire -- and use that to win the nomination, over the protestations of the Establishment.

Then, having beaten the Establishment, he would leave them with little other choice but to accept that he has won, and begin supporting him, and saying nice things about him for once.

The Establishment wouldn't like that, but they would probably have to go along with it.

Part of the reason Trump still lags in head-to-heads with Hillary or Biden or Sanders, despite pulling some support, I'm guessing, from blue-collar voters who typically vote Democrat, is that many white-collar Republicans will not support him, at least not yet.

So, Trump's plan should be to win the nomination over their heads, just bull right over them, but then, later, co-opt most of those recalcitrant I'll-never-vote-for-a-low-class-guy-like-Trump Comfortable Class Respectable Republicans and get their support too.

That should be the plan -- that's how he could, conceivably, win.

Which makes it all the more strange that he just can't seem to stop attacking a major, major Establishment avatar, Megyn Kelly, who has a huge microphone and, PS, is one of the most respected anchors on the right, oh, and also, by the way, pissing off the most important Republican institution, which isn't the RNC, of course, but rather FoxNews.

What could he possibly be thinking?

Answer: He's not thinking, he's emoting, Megyn Kelly made him feel bad with her pointed questions and Insolent Journalism and now he's going to obsess about that hurt forever and ever, as he did with Rosie O'Donnell.

It's one thing to burn your bridges behind you. It's quite another thing to burn the bridges which are absolutely required for your passage before you've crossed them at all.

This is, as they say, worse than a crime; this is a mistake. And a very troubling one, coming, as it does, from a place of pure uncontrollable emotionality and id.

It does not presage well for a Trump presidency -- he'll have plenty of people talking smack about him as president, and, as president, do I trust that he will limit his zest for payback to Twitter?

Or do I start to fear he'll be a Lois Lerner type?

This worries me. He does not seem capable of just shaking it off and moving on. He seems to be frozen forever at his point of psychological pain.
It just seems so unnecessary which means that Ace is onto something. Trump can't get beyond someone who, according to him, has dissed him by asking a tough question quoting his own words back to him. Is that what a Trump presidency would presage - petty obsessions with imagined insults if he doesn't get suitably obsequious questions and commentary. We have an extremely thin-skinned president right now and it's not attractive. Now Obama is calling opponents of the Iran deal "crazies." I guess the majority of the American people are also crazies. I guess that's Obama's equivalence of Trump calling people he doesn't like "losers." Obama is often eager to return insults that he's received. Trump is even worse. Trump's skin is stretched so thin that we can almost see that magnificent brain that he's always bragging about.

Above I linked to a story about how the aides writing Hillary on her private server were such obsequious yes-men. Is there any indication that Trump likes to have people around him who criticize him or his ideas?

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Peggy Hubbard is a heckuva woman. It's almost shocking that someone could so passionately say what is so obvious.
Peggy Hubbard, the woman who posted a #BlackLivesMatter rant that went viral, appeared on CNN tonight to tell Don Lemon why she thinks the movement has misplaced priorities.

Her main frustration is that a nine-year-old black girl was killed in a drive-by shooting, but no one cared, and at the same time, protesters rioted after someone who reportedly pointed a gun at cops was shot by the police.

Hubbard told Lemon that police officers across the country are worried either about being killed or being “the next Darren Wilson” because of the strong anti-police sentiment.

Lemon read some of the nasty responses she’s gotten for her outspokenness (including at least one invocation of the n-word) and asked for her response. Hubbard replied, “Bite me.”

Alum Bokhari writes at Breitbart on the "Rise of the Cultural Libertarians." Now that's a movement I could really get behind!

Free expression. No idea is too dangerous for cultural libertarians, who want total artistic and intellectual freedom. They often indulge in deliberately outrageous jokes and wacky opinions to test the boundaries of acceptability. Little wonder that the movement’s leaders often attract large followings from the the chaotic, politically incorrect world of anonymous imageboards like 4chan.

Resisting identity politics and public shaming. The movement can also be seen criticising modern methods of cultural control and the neo-puritanism they say has infected modern cultural criticism. The newest of these is a rash of social justice-inspired online vigilantism where professional offence-takers use the power of social media to destroy the reputations and careers of their targets. Justine Sacco, who faced global outrage and the loss of her job over a single politically-incorrect joke, is one well-known victim. Astrophysicist Dr. Matt Taylor and biochemist Sir Tim Hunt were also victims of this modern form of thuggery.

A sense of humour. Cultural libertarians combat anger with ridicule. There is a certain preposterousness to bloggers and social media addicts setting themselves up as a new priesthood, which makes them easy targets for comedy. As MIT Technology Review editor Jason Pontin puts it: “Tyrants, authoritarians and activists all hate the sound of laughter.” Cultural libertarians understand this instinctively.

An end to nannying and “safe space” culture. Arrayed against the cultural libertarians is the control freakery of the establishment, left and right, and the second coming of political correctness as embodied in campus safe space movements. This latter movement claims that students are too fragile to be exposed to dangerous ideas, and that even mildly offensive speech can cause permanent emotional damage. On the internet, these activists enjoy the support of outlets like Vox and Buzzfeed.

Defending personal freedom. Cultural libertarians may have their own opinions about how people should live their lives, or have low tolerance for offensive speech. But what distinguishes them from their opponents is their rejection of attempts to impose personal standards on others.

Defending spaces for uncomfortable opinions. Reason columnist Cathy Young is a critic of the “misogynistic rhetoric” of masculinist bloggers like Daryush Valizadeh, but nonetheless defended Valizadeh’s right to speak after activists launched a campaign to ban him from Canada. Cultural libertarians are serious about protecting the the freedoms of people they despise.

Fact over feelings. Hand in hand with their commitment to free speech goes a loathing for narrative-led journalism. Cultural libertarians are highly critical of “feelings over facts” in general, but particularly where it gives rise to failures in reporting such as the Duke Lacrosse case, the Rolling Stone debacle, “Mattress Girl” Emma Sulkowicz and GamerGate.
Read the rest. I agree with every word.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Cruising the Web

So if Obama is supporting Biden over Hillary is that just part of Obama's war on women?

Ben Carson has a very good column in USA Today about what blacks should really be doing instead of trying to disrupt politicians' speeches.
This is where we should march:

Let’s head down to the board of education. Teaching is a tough job and thank God there was a teacher who convinced me that I was not dumb, but our schools are failing and we have no power to abandon them. The actions of rogue police officers take black lives one at a time. Our public school system has destroyed black lives not in the ones and twos, but in whole generations.

The schools don’t teach and our children don’t learn. Too many public schools are controlled by teachers unions focused more on the convenience and compensation of adults rather than the education of children who started out far behind. Their failures don't kill as quickly, but they do kill as surely as a bullet.

Let’s confront the entertainment industry that lines its pockets by glamorizing a life where black men are thugs and our women are trash. Let’s tell them we plan to start talking with our wallets.

It is time for them to pick on someone else because we have had enough. Demeaning women is not art, and it shouldn’t be profitable. Neither is glorifying violence and equating prison time with authenticity. Straight Outta Compton, #1 in movie theaters, is just the latest example. You only have to watch the trailers.

Let’s go down to city hall. Living behind a door with three deadbolts is not living in freedom. Being too scared to walk around your block at night is not the pursuit of happiness we were all promised.

Let's go over to the crack house. We need to tear it down. Profiting from selling poison to our children and destroying lives must not be the ambition of our children. These monuments to our destruction deserve our active scorn not our silent acceptance.

We should go to Washington. For decades they have fought the "War on Poverty." Poverty won. We lost.

Over 19 trillion dollars has been wasted, but can anyone identify a single battle won as a result? We certainly have not helped the poor “lift themselves out of the ruts of poverty” as Lyndon Johnson promised — far from it. These programs have been a great American failure.

We should have a talk with the Democratic Party. Let's tell them, we don’t want to be clothed, fed and housed. We want honor and dignity.

We don't want a plan to give us public housing in nice neighborhoods. We want an end to excuses for schools that leave us without the means to buy our own houses where we choose to live. We want the skills needed to compete, not a consolation prize of Section 8, Food Stamps and a lifetime of government paperwork.

Finally, we need to go over to the Republican Party. We need to tell them they have ignored us for too long. They need to invite us in and listen to us. We need to communicate and find a different way.

There are many things to be angry about when you are consumed by hopelessness. Bernie Sanders isn’t one of them.
This is very nicely done. If he talks like this on the next debate, he'll go even higher in the polls.

The WSj asks a decent question: Is it better for a candidate to "represent the agenda of one rich guy or 1,000 rich guys?" The implication of Trump's claiming that he would be a better leader because he would not be beholden to any special interests since he wouldn't need their money is that only rich guys could run for office.
But most politicians aren’t rich, which means they have to raise money from others. This has the benefit of testing the level of their support as well as forcing them to build political coalitions. The broader their support, the less likely any single donor or constituency would have inordinate influence.

Campaign money also increases political competition. Without donations, politicians who aren’t wealthy or well known would never be able to wage a competitive campaign for the White House. A major reason this year’s Republican field is so wide and deep is because candidates have access to more donations via super PACs. Americans should want a system in which middle-class candidates like Marco Rubio or Scott Walker have a chance to be President.

“I know how the system works better than anybody,” Mr. Trump also says, explaining that accepting a large donation creates an obligation to return the favor. Favors to campaign donors happen every day in Washington, but politicians also often disappoint their campaign supporters once in office. Politics attracts many despicable characters, but some of the people drawn to government service are there because they are animated by a cause....

The stolen base in the Trump argument is that if elected the other candidates would have agendas but he wouldn’t. The truth is that even if he never takes a nickel from a lobbyist, Mr. Trump will still be influenced by his largest campaign donor—himself. To say the least, he’s never been shy about pursuing his interests.

In business that’s fine and plastering his name everywhere has built a well-known brand and accumulated a fortune that may even be as large as he says it is. But it’s naive to examine his career and conclude that he lives only to serve others. It’s not clear to us why the agenda of one rich guy in Manhattan is superior to one that incorporates the views of a thousand rich guys across the U.S.

Then again, Mr. Trump is new to the presidential campaign and on Sunday he said he also is open to taking contributions, large and small, as long as there are “no strings attached.” Like any other politician.

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This is how oppo research is done as Republicans are dumpster diving at the Clinton Library for information on Hillary. I guess they should start working up their oppo on Biden and Warren.

The teachers unions never give up trying to keep members from opting out of their union.
The Mackinac Center charged that the Michigan Education Association arbitrarily changed the address that teachers must mail if they want to invoke their right to opt out of the union under the new state law. The union quietly changed the address two months before the 30-day period during which it accepts the letters.

People who sent letters to the union headquarters in East Lansing received letters in response explaining that the requests would only be accepted if mailed to a separate post office box. The procedural change was quietly announced at the bottom of the "members only" section of the union website and became effective June 3. The union accepts the letters only during August, so a person who missed the announcement also could easily miss the deadline by the time he or she received the letter rejecting the initial request.
Consider it the Brezhnev Doctrine of union membership.

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John Leo has a collection of things that are now racist that you might never have realized were racist.
2. M.A.s may be racist, postmasters too. Stephen Davis, master of Pierson College at Yale, says the word “master” in his title is severely upsetting some students and driving them off campus. He wants Pierson and Yale’s eleven other residential colleges to have “heads” rather than “masters.”

3. Liking white meat is racist. Writer Ron Rosenbaum said in Slate that racism accounts for the popularity of white-meat turkey over more flavorful dark meat. “White meat turkey has no taste,” he explained. “Despite its superior taste, dark meat has dark undertones for some. Dark meat seems to summon up ancient fears of contamination and miscegenation as opposed to the supposed superior purity of white meat.”
Gosh. I like dark meat better than white meat. I wonder if that will help cancel out the fact that I have a Master's degree.

Sugar protectionist tariffs is sending jobs overseas.
Sugar-using industries now have a big incentive to relocate from the United States to countries where access to their primary ingredient is not restricted.

If the government wants people making Oreo cookies and similar products to keep their jobs, a logical starting point would be to eliminate the U.S. sugar program, including barriers to imported sugar.

This obvious connection between the lost jobs and sugar quotas was missed by many observers. According to one online commenter: “This is why tariff[s] on products coming to U.S must be raised.”

That’s backwards. When protectionist policies like the U.S. sugar program lead to offshoring, the response shouldn’t be to pass new laws to discourage such offshoring or to raise tariffs even higher. The response should be to eliminate government policies that encourage offshoring in the first place.

The loss of Oreo cookie jobs should reinforce a lesson on the job-destroying aspect of protectionist trade policies.

According to a 2006 report from the government’s International Trade Administration: “Chicago, one of the largest U.S. cities for confectionery manufacturing, has lost nearly one-third of its SCP manufacturing jobs over the last 13 years. These losses are attributed, in part, to high U.S. sugar prices.”

That lesson appears to be lost on unions that are supposed to represent the workers losing their jobs in Chicago.

Another policy fail for government putting its thumb on the scales.
Berkeley’s pioneering soda tax is failing to hit consumers as much as public health advocates had hoped, with stores only passing on 22 percent of the tax to customers.

Berkeley, Calif. was the first city in the nation to vote for a soda tax, with supporters arguing the higher price would cut consumption of sugary drinks and help tackle obesity. The law took effect in March and forced distributors to pay a 1 cent tax per ounce of soda. However, Berkeley’s store owners have refused to play ball and have only passed on a fraction of the price increase to consumers.

Economists John Cawley of Cornell and David Frisvold of the University of Iowa gathered price data from all Berkeley’s groceries, supermarkets, pharmacies, convenience stores and gas stations. Prices in these stores were then compared to a sample of shops in San Francisco. Published in the National Bureau of Economic Research, the paper found that just 21.7 percent of the tax was passed to customers.

“These results imply that the Berkeley soda tax, because it is passed through to consumers to a lesser extent than anticipated, will result in less of a reduction in consumption, and thus less health improvement, than anticipated,” the study said....

Sin taxes have come under fire from economists for being regressive and hitting the poorest consumers hardest. A recent study by the Mercatus Center concluded that “sin taxes — taxes that are intended to change the behavior of consumers—are one prominent category of taxes with a disproportionate effect on the poor.”

To demonstrate the regressive nature of sin taxes Mercatus cited a study in the U.K. showing the poorest 20 percent of households spend roughly $2,000 per year on sin taxes, amounting to around 11.4 percent of their disposable income. (RELATED: Sin Taxes, Zoning Laws And Occupational Licensing Are Holding Back The Poor)

Poor British households spend almost 40 percent of their disposable income on sin taxes, compared to households in the top 20 percent who spend just 15 percent.

The Iran deal is making strange bedfellows.
Behind Riyadh’s ire is the sense that, in its pursuit of a nuclear accommodation with Tehran, America is tilting away from its traditional Middle East allies and toward Iran’s ayatollahs. For these Arab states, the new Washington dispensation means forging security arrangements that a few years ago would have seemed unthinkable. Perhaps the most astonishing of these developments is the nascent alliance between Saudi Arabia and Israel.

Anwar Eshki, a retired major general in the Saudi armed forces, has spearheaded Riyadh’s outreach to Jerusalem. He made history in June when he appeared on a panel in Washington, D.C., with Dore Gold, the newly appointed director-general of Israel’s Foreign Ministry. At that event, Gen. Eshki outlined a vision for the Middle East that included Arab-Israeli peace, regime change in Tehran, democracy in the Arab world and the creation of a Kurdish state. And while Gen. Eshki says his outreach to the Israelis is a purely private enterprise, it hasn’t been interpreted that way in the region, in large part because he is a prominent and well-connected figure in the Saudi security establishment.

Trump's petty and tasteless revenge continues as he resumes his attacks on Megyn Kelly.
“I liked The Kelly File much better without @megynkelly,” Trump tweeted. “Perhaps she could take another eleven day unscheduled vacation!”

The Republican candidate’s critique of Kelly was the latest in a revenge campaign since the two clashed over the GOP presidential debate on Aug . 6

He tuned in Monday night to attack her return to the anchor desk.

“@megynkelly must have had a terrible vacation, she is really off her game,” Trump lamented. “Was afraid to confront Dr. Cornel West. No clue on immigration!”

Trump supporters also chimed in with an online onslaught against Kelly. The Donald retweeted one hater who said, “The bimbo back in town.”
I guess this will make his poll numbers climb.

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This will give people more confidence in the EPA.
U.S. officials knew of the potential for a catastrophic "blowout" of poisonous wastewater from an inactive gold mine, yet appeared to have only a cursory plan to deal with such an event when a government cleanup team triggered a 3-million-gallon spill, according to internal documents released by the Environmental Protection Agency.

The EPA released the documents late Friday following weeks of prodding from The Associated Press and other media organizations. While shedding some light on the circumstances surrounding the accident, the newly disclosed information also raises more questions about whether enough was done to prevent it.

The Aug. 5 spill came as workers excavated the entrance to the idled Gold King Mine near Silverton, Colorado, unleashing a torrent of toxic water that fouled rivers in three states.

A June 2014 work order for a planned cleanup noted the mine had not been accessible since 1995, when the entrance partially collapsed.

"This condition has likely caused impounding of water behind the collapse," the report said. "Conditions may exist that could result in a blowout of the blockages and cause a release of large volumes of contaminated mine waters and sediment from inside the mine."
Yet they seemed totally unprepared for what their studies said may happen to actually happen.

The dumbest college courses for 2015. Don't you want to pay thousands for your kids to take these courses?

And this is how CNN changee its headline for its US and international editions. Because the biggest part of the story of brave men stopping a terror attack on a French train was that a minor French actor got a minor injury in the attack.

Allen Guelzo has an interesting essay about the role of religion in the Civil War and the impact that the War had on religious faith in the country.