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Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Cruising the Web

As the Democrats struggle to turn the story of the DNC hacks into an attack on Trump by arguing that the Russians are behind the hack and that Putin is trying to help Trump get elected, let's remember when a prominent Democrat actually went to the Soviets for help in defeating Reagan. In 1984 Ted Kennedy approached the Soviets who were then led by the former KGB head, Yuri Andropov, and tried to negotiate help in opposing Reagan. We found out about Kennedy's efforts when Yeltsin opened up the Soviet archives in 1991. Sean Davis links to the story as reported in Forbes.
Picking his way through the Soviet archives that Boris Yeltsin had just thrown open, in 1991 Tim Sebastian, a reporter for the London Times, came across an arresting memorandum. Composed in 1983 by Victor Chebrikov, the top man at the KGB, the memorandum was addressed to Yuri Andropov, the top man in the entire USSR. The subject: Sen. Edward Kennedy.

“On 9-10 May of this year,” the May 14 memorandum explained, “Sen. Edward Kennedy’s close friend and trusted confidant [John] Tunney was in Moscow.” (Tunney was Kennedy’s law school roommate and a former Democratic senator from California.) “The senator charged Tunney to convey the following message, through confidential contacts, to the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Y. Andropov.”

Kennedy’s message was simple. He proposed an unabashed quid pro quo. Kennedy would lend Andropov a hand in dealing with President Reagan. In return, the Soviet leader would lend the Democratic Party a hand in challenging Reagan in the 1984 presidential election. “The only real potential threats to Reagan are problems of war and peace and Soviet-American relations,” the memorandum stated. “These issues, according to the senator, will without a doubt become the most important of the election campaign.”

Kennedy made Andropov a couple of specific offers.

First he offered to visit Moscow. “The main purpose of the meeting, according to the senator, would be to arm Soviet officials with explanations regarding problems of nuclear disarmament so they may be better prepared and more convincing during appearances in the USA.” Kennedy would help the Soviets deal with Reagan by telling them how to brush up their propaganda.

Then he offered to make it possible for Andropov to sit down for a few interviews on American television. “A direct appeal … to the American people will, without a doubt, attract a great deal of attention and interest in the country. … If the proposal is recognized as worthy, then Kennedy and his friends will bring about suitable steps to have representatives of the largest television companies in the USA contact Y.V. Andropov for an invitation to Moscow for the interviews. … The senator underlined the importance that this initiative should be seen as coming from the American side.”

Kennedy would make certain the networks gave Andropov air time–and that they rigged the arrangement to look like honest journalism.

Kennedy’s motives? “Like other rational people,” the memorandum explained, “[Kennedy] is very troubled by the current state of Soviet-American relations.” But that high-minded concern represented only one of Kennedy’s motives.

“Tunney remarked that the senator wants to run for president in 1988,” the memorandum continued. “Kennedy does not discount that during the 1984 campaign, the Democratic Party may officially turn to him to lead the fight against the Republicans and elect their candidate president.”

Kennedy proved eager to deal with Andropov–the leader of the Soviet Union, a former director of the KGB and a principal mover in both the crushing of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution and the suppression of the 1968 Prague Spring–at least in part to advance his own political prospects.
When this story broke in the 1990s, I was horrified at what seemed as close to treason as I could imagine a prominent American senator getting. But the story was quickly buried and Kennedy kept his prominent and powerful position in American politics and his conduct was barely mentioned in all the hagiographic eulogies when he died.

It's cute to see the Democrats suddenly so worried about Russians hacking when they're just shrugging off concerns that the Russians had hacked Hillary's unsecured server. Those were the secrets of the U.S. government, not the documents of a political party.

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After the story of DNCLeaks, is there much doubt that Hillary's server was hacked. If this was indeed done by the Russians, they sure showed a deft sense of timing in their release on the eve of the Democratic convention. It makes us wonder if they have documents from Hillary's server and will release some damaging documents on the eve of the election. That thought must terrorize the Clinton campaign.

Julian Assange is already pointing to Hillary's hypocrisy at condemning what people at the DNC were doing to further her campaign while stifling Sanders' campaign. But Hillary is also saying nice things about Debbie Wasserman Schultz and giving her a job on her campaign.
Now, of course, Hillary Clinton has tried to immediately produce a counter-example by putting out a statement, within hours, saying that Debbie Wasserman Schultz is a great friend, and she’s incorporating her into her campaign, she’s going to be pushing for her re-election to the Congress.

So that’s a very interesting signaling by Hillary Clinton that if you act in a corrupt way that benefits Hillary Clinton, you will be taken care of. Why does she need to put that out? Certainly, it’s not a signal that helps with the public at all. It’s not a signal that helps with unity at the DNC, at the convention. It’s a signal to Hillary Clinton partisans to keep on going on, you’ll be taken care of. But it’s a very destructive signal for a future presidency, because it’s—effectively, it’s expanding the Overton window of corruption. It doesn’t really matter what you do, how you behave; as long as that is going to benefit Hillary Clinton, you’ll be protected.

The Washington Post lists the ten most damaging things in the DNC's leaked emails. I imagine that big donors won't be pleased to read about how members of the DNC referred to them. This tidbit about how a Clinton lawyer advised the DNC how to respond to a Sanders complaint displays a suspicious level of coordination.

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Josh Gelernter has an interesting explanation of why police shoot unarmed suspects. He remembers trying out the FBI's FATS machine which is a simulator for the Firearm Training System.
It works like this: A trainee stands in front of a movie screen, onto which are projected pre-filmed interactions with potentially dangerous suspects (played by actors). The scenes play out differently depending on the choices the trainee makes (different middles and ends are selected by an instructor). The choices the trainee has to make tend to boil down to shooting or not shooting. He has in his hand a gun that shoots light beams. He shoots at the screen, and the FATS machine records where the virtual bullets go.

When I was the trainee, I got killed over and over again. Everything happens very fast: A suspect shoves your partner, and a split second later your partner’s gun is in the suspect’s hand, and you’re dead. A suspect’s hand drifts out of sight behind a kitchen island — even though your partner is shouting at him to keep his hands up — and suddenly he’s holding a gun, and you’re both dead. A suspect charges you, suddenly, and you don’t shoot because you can’t see a gun. He has a knife in his waistband, but before you realize it, you’re dead.

Conversely, a lot of scenarios can be resolved peacefully. People shout and scream, but they keep their hands up, and everyone lives — assuming you don’t get carried away and shoot them. The point of the FATS machine is to prepare agents for the split-second life-or-death decisions that all law-enforcement officers are inevitably required to make. It teaches something that the FBI has learned over decades of dealing with bad guys: that if someone you’re trying to arrest does something with his hands other than keep them in plain sight, there’s a good chance that he’s planning to shoot you. That’s why policemen shout the keep-your-hands-where-I-can-see-them thing so emphatically. They want to be sure that if you do something else with your hands, it isn’t accidental.

It also teaches agents to treat unarmed suspects like armed suspects until they know better. Particularly the ones who charge or attack. The fact is, there’s no way of knowing whether someone is unarmed or just pretending to be unarmed, until he’s been searched.
Gerlernter explains how he came to appreciate the difficulties that police have in making these split-second life-or-death decisions. He recommends critics of the police take a turn at the simulator so that they could understand why it is so important to comply with the police when they demand suspects keep their hands up.
Last year, a self-described “radical political activist” and Black Lives Matter protester named Jarrett Maupin agreed to go through a FATS-style police exercise — not using a FATS machine, but using paintball guns in a parking lot. Maupin was told to question a man behaving suspiciously. The man’s hands disappeared momentarily behind a car, reappeared holding a gun, and Maupin was “killed.” In the next exercise, two unarmed men were having a loud argument. Maupin approached them, one of the men starting walking aggressively toward Maupin — and Maupin shot him dead.

A local Fox affiliate in Phoenix filmed Maupin’s experience (you can watch it on YouTube). Afterward, one of the local reporters tried the same exercise, and got exactly the same results. The reporter asked Maupin what conclusions he’d drawn from the experience. “I didn’t understand how important compliance was,” said Maupin. “But after going through this, yeah, my attitude has changed. This is all unfolding in 10 to 15 seconds. People need to comply with the orders of law enforcement officers — for their own sake.”

Maybe the answer to racial tensions and anti-police protests is for police to offer every member of Black Lives Matter a chance to take the test that Maupin took. Or maybe the police should start doing FATS-machine demos in high-crime neighborhoods, to help people understand the decisions cops are faced with. Maybe they should open FATS arcades. I bet they’d be popular.

In the meantime, though, it’s worth remembering: Policemen, FBI agents, DEA agents, et al., have a very tough job.

Juan Williams argues that, while Clinton won the nomination, Bernie Sanders actually won the entire war by moving the Democratic Party far to the left.
This is not your father’s—or even your older sister’s—Democratic Party. It is far more left-leaning than under Bill Clinton or President Obama.

Almost 60% of Democratic voters agree that “socialism has a positive” impact on society, according to a February poll by OnMessage Inc. and the American Action Network. In Iowa 43% of Democrats said in January that they would use the word “socialist” to describe themselves, a survey by the Des Moines Register and Bloomberg Politics found.

Forty-seven percent of Democrats told Gallup last year that they are both “socially liberal and economically moderate/liberal”—the highest level in the poll’s history. In 2001 only 30% of Democrats described themselves that way. Between 2000 and 2015 the percentage of “Democratic and Democratic-leaning registered voters” who consider themselves liberal has gone up to 42% from 27%, according to a Pew study in February.

Mrs. Clinton has been running to the front of this liberal parade. This month she wrapped her arms around one of Mr. Sanders’s biggest causes by backing tuition-free college at in-state public universities for families making under $125,000 a year.

She broke with Mr. Obama by calling for repeal of the so-called Cadillac tax on health-insurance plans, a priority for labor unions. She gave a sop to the teachers unions by backtracking on her decades-old support for charter schools. It is clear that in this new liberal order of Democratic politics, the unions will be the enforcers.

Mrs. Clinton is now even backing a “public option”—a Medicare-style government program to compete against private insurance companies. This idea was so radioactive during the debate over the Affordable Care Act that Democrats jettisoned it for fear of being tarred as proponents of socialized medicine.

With the implicit support of Mrs. Clinton and her allies, the Sanders coalition added language to the Democratic platform calling to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, put a price on climate-altering emissions like carbon, and abolish the death penalty.
Don't worry. She can flip back during the general election. It's not as if her opponent is known for consistency in his political positions.

Jim Geraghty depicts Tim Kaine as "painfully generic" running mate. Kaine has also mirrored the elastic position on issues that Clinton and Trump have demonstrated.
Kaine’s bland, risk-averse political persona means he’s a fascinating measuring stick of the leftward shift in Democratic politics over the past decade. The 2005 era Tim Kaine sounded downright Republican: “I believe that marriage is between a man and a woman and that marriage is a uniquely valuable institution that must be preserved.” “I supported reducing Virginia’s sales tax on food and prescription drugs. I supported tax reform that eliminated the marriage penalty, reduced everyone’s income tax, and took over 140,000 Virginians off the tax rolls entirely.” He believed in enforcing “the current Virginia restrictions on abortion and passing an enforceable ban on partial birth abortion that protects the life and health of the mother” and “fighting teen pregnancy through abstinence-focused education.”

His campaign literature promised, “Tim Kaine strongly supports the Second Amendment. As the next Governor of Virginia, he will not propose any new gun laws.”

Once he was elected governor, Kaine pushed for tax increases again and again. He began by pitching $1 billion tax increase, as well as increasing car registration fees and imposing steeper fines on drivers who got tickets. Two years later, he proposed a $1.1 billion plan to hike the titling tax and vehicle registration fees. In his final year in office, Kaine proposed increasing the state’s income tax another percentage point to 6.75 percent. Republican state legislators blocked all these proposals.

In 2009, Kaine’s dedication to the party started getting in the way of his day job; he spent “about 30 percent of the workweek, on average” as chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Of course, that was his final year as governor.

Once elected to the Senate in 2012, Kaine “tried to cultivate an image as an abortion-rights champion. He’s pleased reproductive rights’ groups with a perfect voting record.” He discovered that he believed in gay marriage in 2013.

By 2011, Kaine, who once ran ads falsely implying NRA President Charleton Heston praised his record, said he supported measures to restrict the number of bullets that can be fired from a single magazine. Recently he declared that the Orlando nightclub terror attack was “just an additional wake up call that we need to find solutions to reduce this scourge of gun violence.”

Maybe Kaine and Hillary bonded over how lucrative life in elected office can be. While he was governor, Kaine received $186,899 in gifts and travel – Redskins tickets, cases of wine, etecetra. He didn’t get in legal trouble the way Bob McDonnell did because he disclosed all of the gifts on the proper forms.

Just as Tim Kaine changed his political positions in order to improve his political standing, as George Will argues, Mike Pence has also sold his political principles for a mess of pottage.
Pence, a broad-spectrum social conservative saddened by our fallen world, can minister to the boastful adulterer and aspiring torturer who Pence thinks belongs in the bully pulpit. Actually, the sole benefit of Trump’s election would be in making the presidency’s sacerdotal role — the nation’s moral tutor — terminally ludicrous.

In May, Pence endorsed Ted Cruz but larded his endorsement with lavish praise of Trump, who excuses Pence for buckling “under tremendous pressure from establishment people.” In a year of novelties, now this one: A presidential candidate calls his running mate weak.

It will be interesting to see if Pence will defend his defensible opposition, as a congressman, to Medicare Part D, the prescription-drug entitlement. When George W. Bush proposed this bit of “compassionate conservatism,” House Democrats voted 195-9 against it, deeming it insufficiently compassionate to seniors and excessively compassionate to pharmaceutical companies. Nineteen House Republicans, including Pence, voted against it, largely because this was the first major entitlement enacted without provision for funding. To give the Bush administration time to twist arms and dangle enticements, Republicans held open the floor vote for two hours and 51 minutes, twice as long as the previous longest House vote. It passed 216-215.

If pharmacology had been as potent in 1965 as it has become, prescription drugs might then have been included in Medicare. Today, will a pliable Pence amend his convictions and repent his resistance to this now immensely popular entitlement? Trump, Pence’s new lodestar, sees nothing amiss with the existing entitlement system and disparages those (remember the man who used to be Chris Christie?) who think trillions of dollars of unfunded liabilities are problematic.

Pence also has strongly favored free trade, including the North American Free Trade Agreement that Trump calls “the worst economic deal in the history of our country.” Never mind. In 1980, George H. W. Bush denounced Ronald Reagan’s “voodoo economics” until Reagan selected Bush as his running mate, whereupon Bush decided that it was very good voodoo economics. The malleable shall inherit the earth.

Aaron Blake writes at the Washington Post
that the following comment from Hillary isn't going to help her get past her reputation for dishonesty.
In an interview alongside her new running mate, Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Clinton made the highly questionable decision to suggest that she is held to a different standard than everybody else. And that's not a paraphrase — she said "everybody else."
HEre is the cute:
CLINTON: Well first, I will take responsibility for any impression or anything I've ever done that people have legitimate questions about. But I think that it's fair to say there's been a concerted effort to convince people like that young man of something, nobody's quite sure what, but of something. I often feel like there's the Hillary standard and then there's the standard for everybody else.
Yeah, the woman whom the FBI director exposed for lie after lie about breaking a law and then said it wasn't worth it to prosecute her even though it's clear that others were prosecuted for much less, thinks that she's treated by a standard different from the standards used for others.

Blake was also not impressed by this line from Hillary.
Clinton says, "I will take responsibility for any impression or anything I've ever done that people have legitimate questions about."

This quote is so full of qualifiers as to render it almost meaningless. Clinton takes responsibility for any "impression" of corruption and for any actions causing people to have "legitimate questions about" her. Clinton doesn't have an honesty or corruption problem, you see, that's just the "impression" people get. And she also takes responsibility for the "legitimate questions" she has raised about herself — but apparently not for the illegitimate ones?

And it seems she thinks there are plenty of illegitimate ones. "I often feel like there's the Hillary standard and then there's the standard for everybody else" almost sounds like a re-hash of the "vast right-wing conspiracy" — that thing Clinton famously alleged conspired to take down her husband, then-President Bill Clinton, in the late 1990s.

As with that quote, you can bet "the Hillary standard" will be used against Clinton with gusto. It will be used to paint the picture of a candidate who thinks Americans' reservations about her are overblown and based on misinformation. It will be used to suggest Clinton doesn't actually plan on reforming her ways.

Again, we could argue all day about whether "the Hillary standard" exists. But to your average swing voter who thinks the email server thing is a legitimate issue, this sounds a lot like Clinton blowing it off.

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Ah, the real-world effects of increasing the minimum wage.
One of the last classic Brooklyn diners is biting the dust — and soon they’ll all die off due to the state’s minimum-wage increase and other factors, restaurateurs and economic experts predicted Friday.

The owner of the four-decade-old, 24-hour greasy spoon, Del Rio Diner in Gravesend, said his place is closing down because he can’t afford to pay cooks $15 an hour, along with rising rents and expensive Health Department inspection fees.

“The minimum-wage law was the straw that broke the camel’s back. We’d need to raise the burger to $9 from $6.45. I don’t want to do that to my customers. They’ve been good to me. These are middle-class people,” said owner Larry Georgeton, 66....

“The outlook for this business model is bleak. If you’re a diner, going automated isn’t an option. Neither is raising prices on your working-class customers — a $20 sandwich isn’t going to work,” said Michael Saltsman, research director at the Employment Policies Institute, which studies job growth. “It’s too bad because it’s these sorts of restaurants that make neighborhoods unique.”

Other old-school Brooklyn diners such as the Vegas in Dyker Heights, the Mirage in Midwood and the Floridian in Marine Park are also at risk, Saltsman said.
We were in New York on our trip and noticed how many diners there were and were wishing that there were more such diners in Raleigh; it would seem such a shame if such restaurants would end up closing because of short-sighted economic policies.

Slate is concerned that 2016 might be the worst year in human history. Such concerns just betray their historical ignorance.
When news of the truck killings in Nice, France, broke last week, I started seeing variations of the same sentiment on Twitter and Facebook: Is this the worst year ever, or what? (“Dear 2016,” one meme asked. “Y U No End Soon?”) Terror attacks, Zika, Brexit, police shootings, Syria, Trump, record-hot temperatures, the losses of Prince and David Bowie—this has been one unrelenting turn around the calendar. Have terrifying events truly piled up on each other in 2016, in a way they didn’t in any other year in human history? Or is it impossible to judge the awfulness of a year while it’s still unfolding? Do we just notice negative happenings more these days because of our high levels of connectivity? And what does “worst year” even mean—“worst year” for Americans, for humanity, for the planet?
Oh, please. 2016 is nowhere near the worst year in history. So Slate asked a bunch of historians what year they would pick. When my husband told me about this article and the question, the years that I thought of were 1348 as the year the Black Death began in Europe or 1943 when the Holocaust began in earnest in WWII. I could also have picked 1860 as symbolizing the beginning of the Taiping Rebellion in which somewhere between 20 and 70 (that's quite a spread in estimates, isn't it?) million people died as well as millions were displaced. It really dwarfed the American Civil War which began the following year. Other dates could be chosen to symbolize the tens of millions killed by the Soviets or by Chinese communists.

Two of the historians they asked also picked 1348 and 1943. But some of the other choices really mystified me and betrayed a real bias for the United States' history. Two picked 1836 and 1837 because of Indian wars in the US, the Trail of Tears, and the Panic of 1837. Sure, those were bad events, but not the worst for humanity. I realize that it's difficult to pinpoint one year when most events stretch over time. Two historians pick 1876 and 1877 as the years connected to the end of Reconstruction for setting back hopes of racial equality for a century. Really? The end of Reconstruction was worse than the institution of slavery itself? If you're going to pick a symbolic year, how about 1619 for the year that African slaves first arrived in the American colonies or some date in the 1640s when slavery began in large numbers in the Caribbean on the sugar plantations there. What a lot of people don't realize is that about 90% of Africans kidnapped into slavery and brought to the West were brought to Caribbean and South American colonies. The reason that there were so many more slaves in the U.S. by the 19th century was because those brought to the Caribbean tended to die early and those brought to the U.S. were much more fertile thus increasing the number of slaves in the U.S. For the purposes of Slate's inquiry, wasn't slavery worse than Jim Crow? I think some of the reasoning used by Slate's historians betrays a bit more about their own biases than about history.

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Monday, July 25, 2016

Cruising the Web

I yield to few in how much I despise Donald Trump, but I do find that it helps sometimes to ask how the media would react if a story about Democrats were one about Trump and his supporters. Take this story that the DNC big wigs were conspiring to try to use Bernie Sanders' religious beliefs against him. It seems that some of them thought this could be a twofer. They could attack him for not living up to the beliefs of Judaism and portray him as a bad Jew and then they could also hope to turn Southern Baptists in Kentucky and West Virginia against him for being a Jewish atheist. Because those in the Bible Belt probably won't like either an atheist or a Jew, but would dislike the former more intensely. Just imagine if a similar sort of story had broken about Republicans or the Trump campaign plotting to use a rival's religion as a bludgeon against him. The outrage would be through the roof.

It isn't enough to have Debbie Wasserman Schultz pushed offstage at the DNC. The Wikileaks publication should horrify Democrats and electrify Sanders supporters. We'll see if the media spend as much time touting the divisions within the Democrats and the sleazy behavior of the DNC to torpedo Sanders' candidacy as they did trumpeting disagreements among Republicans at their convention. And how convenient that Hillary promptly found a job for Wasserman Schultz in her campaign after the DNC chair has agreed to step down after the convention.

The Philadelphia police union is disgusted
that the Democrats will invite relatives of victims of police shootings to speak at their convention but no relatives of police who have been killed in the line of duty.
"It is sad that to win an election Mrs. Clinton must pander to the interests of people who do not know all the facts, while the men and women they seek to destroy are outside protecting the political institutions of this country," the statement read. "Mrs. Clinton you should be ashamed of yourself if that is possible."

The statement came days after the Clinton campaign announced that former President Bill Clinton would speak Tuesday night along with members of Mothers of the Movement, a group that includes Gwen Carr, mother of Eric Garner; Sybrina Fulton, mother of Trayvon Martin; and Lezley McSpadden, mother of Michael Brown.

Clinton's campaign responded Wednesday, noting that two members of law enforcement are scheduled to speak at the convention, including former Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey.
Jazz Shaw notes that the choice of which relatives of gun violence that they've chosen to have speak at the convention is particularly problematic.
I think most of the police might have been a bit more understanding if the speakers had been family members of people like Tamir Rice or Walter Scott because the circumstances of their deaths obviously elicit a lot more sympathy. But Eric Garner and Michael Brown were both involved in the commission of crimes when their fatal encounters with law enforcement officers took place and Trayvon Martin wasn’t even killed by a cop. At the same time, I have no doubt that there are many, many family members of fallen police officers who would have been willing – or even grateful – to address the crowd at the DNC convention and call for peace and calm. Yet they have been shut out of the proceedings.

That likely sends a powerful message to police around the country and it’s not one they are eager to hear. The support for law enforcement coming from the Obama administration has been tepid at the best of times and I doubt they’re looking forward to four more years of the same.

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Mike Pence's wife started her own business "That's My Towel" selling towel charms to help people differentiate their bath and beach towels from others. I have to say that, when I heard this, I thought of it as the sort of item I see in the catalogs that come to our house touting objects that I didn't even know that people needed. The charms are cute, but our family has never had a problem either sharing towels or differentiating among them. Maybe a lot of families, particularly those with more children, run into that problem. The Pences clearly did and, rather than cursing the darkness, Karen Pence decided to start a business to sell her towel charms. Good for her. People start businesses every day and take that risk. We should applaud people with the entrepreneurial spirit. I didn't think that identifying one's wine glass, but apparently there is a whole market out there for wine glass charms. Why should towel charms be any different? What is notable is how many people decided to mock Karen Pence's business. Erika Anderson chides those who decided to make fun of her business.
Feminist writers and lefty websites will defend women they like without question. They will quote Madeleine Albright’s infamous “There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women” line the moment one of their heroines or standard bearers are criticized.

But when it comes to conservative women, their “open minds” quickly close, as do — apparently — the gates of hell. The Left’s loathsome hypocrisy was on full display as self-proclaimed “feminist” writers opened fire on GOP vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence’s wife, Karen Pence, this week.

Karen Pence owns a business called “That’s My Towel!” She sells towel charms to hook onto beach towels, like wine glass charms, to distinguish similar looking towels at the beach or the pool. It may not be the next Yeti, but it’s her entrepreneurial venture — and she should be commended for it.

The Huffington Post, Jezebel, Fusion and even Forbes are just a few outlets who chose to mockingly spotlight Pence’s business, which has reportedly been “on hold” since her husband was chosen as Donald Trump’s VP pick.

The writers making fun of Mrs. Pence clearly find themselves all too clever as they take cheap digs at another woman’s small business venture. Such bored “journalists” can find nothing of actual substance to dish about the Pences, who appear to be a loving, principled, drama-free family.

No doubt, these same outlets will bemoan the travesties of sexism next week when some conservative calls Hillary Clinton a liar. I’ll be happy to remind them of that time they took glee in stomping on a another female’s business venture because they could find absolutely nothing negative about her to gossip about.

Rather than ridiculing Mrs. Pence for starting her own business even if it's not a product they're interested in, liberals might learn something from what the WSJ calls the "Indiana model" of governance under Mitch Daniels and Mike Pence.
All states have seen declines in the jobless rate, and Indiana’s has fallen to 5% in May from 8.4% in 2013 when Mr. Pence became Governor. The Indiana difference is that the rate has fallen even as the labor force has increased by nearly 187,000. Many states have seen their jobless rates fall in part because so many people have left the labor force, driving down the national labor participation rate to lows not seen since the 1970s. The Illinois workforce has grown by only about 71,000 in the same period, though it is roughly twice as large. Indiana is adding jobs fast enough that people are rejoining the workforce.

The Indiana turnaround began under Mr. Daniels, who took office in 2004 after 16 years of Democratic governors. His command to state employees was “we are here to raise the disposable income of Hoosiers.”

Mr. Daniels inherited a budget mess but eight years later Indiana was a rare state with a triple-A credit rating. He toyed briefly with raising the top personal income-tax rate, which we criticized at the time and was stopped by the legislature. He proceeded to cut the state corporate tax rate to 6.5% from 8.5%. He also took a big political risk by contracting with a private company to operate the Indiana toll road for $3.8 billion.

Indiana adopted right to work in 2012, allowing individuals to opt out of unions, a key signal for many CEOs about the business climate. He passed the most ambitious state-wide school voucher plan in the country, which appears to have contributed to better student performance. The state high school graduation rate has reached 88%, seventh best in the U.S. Mr. Daniels, who is now president of Purdue University, also reformed Medicaid and health care for state employees via health-savings accounts.

Mr. Pence has continued the progress, cutting taxes every year of his tenure even as the state has continued to pile up budget surpluses. He cut the individual tax rate to 3.3% in 2015 from 3.4% and it will fall to 3.23% in 2017, the lowest in the Midwest, according to the Tax Foundation. One reason the tax rate can stay so low and flat is because it applies to a relatively broad base of income with fewer loopholes than more steeply progressive tax codes.

Mr. Pence has also extended eligibility for the school choice program to siblings of voucher recipients, children living in failing public-school districts and those with special needs....Nearly 60% of students in the state now qualify for vouchers.

We could go on, especially regarding regulatory relief. But the broader lesson is that the Daniels-Pence agenda turned around a state that was struggling and has made it a fiscal and pro-growth model. The reforms focused on raising incomes by making the state more hospitable to capital investment and trying to improve the education and skills of all Hoosiers.
Of course, I doubt whether Trump understands the Daniels-Pence reforms and why they worked. And the Democrats don't either. Perhaps Pence can do the country a service by explaining why these conservative policies have been successful and should be emulated.

And while we're admiring the results of Republican governance in the Midwest, look at Wisconsin and how the reforms liberals fought in every venue there are now seeing very successful results.
Five years ago this summer, Wisconsin’s budget-repair law, better known as Act 10, went into effect. The legislation, which significantly curtailed collective-bargaining rights for public employees, was a signature part of Gov. Scott Walker’s effort to close the state’s $3.6 billion budget deficit. It sparked chaos in Madison: Tens of thousands of protesters occupied the capital. Fourteen Democratic state senators fled across state lines in an effort to stop the bill from passing. When it became law anyway, opposition culminated in a failed effort to recall Gov. Walker in 2012.

Looking at the law’s results half a decade later, it is safe to say that it was worth the trouble. Wisconsin’s example ought to embolden reformers everywhere: It’s possible to reform spending on public employees without damaging the quality of services.

Act 10 has saved taxpayers $5 billion since June 2011, according to the John K. MacIver Institute, a free-market think tank in Madison. Local school districts, government agencies and municipalities have acquired more affordable health-care plans, allowing them to put money into classrooms and critical services. Even Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, Gov. Walker’s opponent in the 2012 recall election, used Act 10 to save his city nearly $20 million.

Because the law’s financial benefits have always been indisputable, Democratic lawmakers and teachers unions instead claim that Act 10 has led to increased class sizes and teacher shortages. A 2011 attack ad from a union-funded group claimed, without evidence, that the law was “so devastating that students are without chairs and a government survey found 47 kids in a classroom.” This earned a “false” rating from an independent fact-checker, but similar arguments too often go unchallenged. The top Democrat in the state senate, Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling, claimed only days ago that the “sun is setting on public education.”

A new study from our organization, the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty, disputes that conventional wisdom. The Institute’s Will Flanders, along with Marty Lueken of the Friedman Foundation, conducted a comprehensive survey of Act 10’s effect on teachers’ age, experience, salary and benefits, as well as classroom size. Using data from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction and the U.S. Education Department, the authors found that dire claims about Act 10 are greatly exaggerated.

For instance, the report shows that the number of students per teacher in Wisconsin has kept pace with surrounding states.

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It's a good question. William A. Jacobson of Legal Insurrection asks if anti-Israel academic boycotters will now boycott Turkey after Erdogan has shut down schools, charities, foundations, universities, and trade unions in response to the coup. Erdogan is busy purging universities and their faculty.
I would be against a boycott of Turkish Universities, but the anti-Israel boycotters should not have the luxury of boycotting just Israel and still claim to be acting on principle and not because of implicit if not explicit anti-Semitism.

The Turkish academic purge raises a test for the anti-Israel academic boycotters. Will they devote themselves this coming academic season to an academic boycott of Turkish Universities, in addition to other majority-Muslim nations where minorities are repressed and academic freedom stifled?

Will they, as Curtis Marez said, start but not end with Israel? Or as Alan Dershowitz said, will the boycotters start and stop with the only majority-Jewish nation on the globe?
I think we all know what the answer will be to Jacobson's question. These BDS activists are more about hating on Israel than any principled stand for supporting moral governance of other countries around the world.

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I hope the Olympic athletes are ready for Rio. The problems there keep increasing.
Adding to the list of setbacks and stumbles for the Rio Olympics, the Olympic Village, home to thousands of athletes during the Summer Games, has been called unfit for occupancy.

Sunday was supposed to be move-in day for many athletes, but the leader of the Australian Olympic delegation said its athletes would not be checking in because of problems with the gas, electricity and plumbing.

The opening ceremony for the Rio Games is scheduled for Aug. 5.

Among the issues with housing units at the village are “blocked toilets, leaking pipes and exposed wiring,” said Kitty Chiller, a former Olympic pentathlete whose title is chef de mission in Rio de Janeiro for the Australian Olympic Committee. There is also bad lighting in many stairwells and “dirty floors in need of a massive clean,” she said in a written statement.

“Water has come through the ceiling resulting in large puddles on the floor around cabling and wiring,” Ms. Chiller said.

Ms. Chiller said that delegations from Britain, New Zealand and other countries were experiencing similar problems in the village, which is in an area of western Rio called Barra da Tijuca. Attempts to reach those delegations were not successful.

I would so support bringing jousting to the next Olympics. I bet lots of people would tune in to watch that.

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If you're a Star Trek fan, you might enjoy Ilya Somin's essay on how the franchise embraced socialism.
The Federation isn’t just socialist in the hyperbolic sense in which some conservatives like to denounce anyone to the left of them as socialist. It’s socialist in the literal sense that the government has near-total control over the economy and the means of production. Especially by the period portrayed in The Next Generation, the government seems to control all major economic enterprises, and there do not seem to be any significant private businesses controlled by humans in Federation territory. Star Fleet characters, such as Captain Picard, boast that the Federation has no currency and that humans are no longer motivated by material gain and do not engage in capitalist economic transactions.

The supposed evils of free markets are exemplified by the Ferengi, an alien race who exemplify all the stereotypes socialists typically associate with “evil capitalists.” The Ferengi are unrelentingly greedy and exploitative. Their love of profit seems to be exceeded only by their sexism—they do not let females work outside the household, even when it would increase their profits to do so.

The problem here is not just that Star Trek embraces socialism: it’s that it does so without giving any serious consideration to the issue. For example, real-world socialist states have almost always resulted in poverty and massive political oppression, piling up body counts in the tens of millions.

But Star Trek gives no hint that this might be a danger, or any explanation of how the Federation avoided it. Unlike on many other issues, where the producers of the series recognize that there are multiple legitimate perspectives on a political issue, they seem almost totally oblivious to the downsides of socialism.
Gee, rather like a lot of liberals. Think Bernie Sanders and his supporters - they're totally oblivious to the "downsides of socialism."

Friday, July 22, 2016

Cruising the Web

We spent yesterday in Hyde Park. We ended up spending four hours at the FDR Presidential Library and Museum. They had some very well-done exhibits. Their special exhibit was on the 24 hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor based on the regular reports FDR was receiving on what was happening and the diary entries and memoirs of those who were at the White House that day. It was a tremendous exhibit and helped pull back the curtain to the shock, anger, and determination that our leaders felt at that time.

Another element of the exhibit that I thought was really well done was concerning several controversies of FDR's presidency. They presented relevant primary documents and then quoted from historians praising and criticizing FDR. I hadn't expected to see, for example, such critical works of the New Deal as Amity Shlaes' The Forgotten Man or Jim Powell's FDR's Folly
One controversy concerned whether FDR should be blamed for not letting in Jewish refugees in the 1930s once it became clear what the Nazis had planned for Jews. Apparently, FDR wanted to admit more Jewish refugees even though there were strict limits on immigration in those years and there were also fears that Hitler would send in spies and insurgents hidden among the refugees. So he basically gave up since he feared that any effort to expand the quotas to let in more Jews would be terribly unpopular. I was struck by the contrast with President Obama. FDR didn't consider issuing some executive order to thwart existing laws. He also didn't try to use the bully pulpit to change minds. He complained in private letters, but basically gave up. He would pick his battles. So he was willing to push for a peacetime draft in 1940, an election year, but not to push to save Europe's doomed Jews.

Today we're off to Sagamore Hill to see Teddy Roosevelt's home in Oyster Bay.

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Here's a frightening thought: Trump says, "I am your voice." I don't want to think that Trump voices what I want to say. He sounded more like Pat Buchanan.

And then Trump reminded us that he's been gaming the system all his life so he's the "only one who can fix it." If that argument were a winner, then think of how Hillary could use it.

Trump said that anyone who endorses violence or hatred is not welcome in this country. Well, there goes a lot of his supporters. Remember this is the guy who promised to pay the legal bills of his supporters if they followed his exhortation to "knock the crap our" of protesters.

Put together the way Trump sounded about America and the way Bernie and Hillary talked about the country today and we're living in a very, very dark place.

Ivanka's speech sure sounded like the speech of a registered Democrat. Oh, wait... Isn't there anyone in Trump's circle who understands that the whole women earn 77 cents for every dollar a man earns is a total myth?

So Trump has changed his mind on taxes and is in the midst of abandoning the plan he put forth during the nomination campaign. His plan is closer to Paul Ryan's now. Austin Rose ponders what this means about Trump that he's completely reversed himself on a policy that he proudly put forth a few months ago.
He lied to attract votes. In order to win against candidates of substance, Trump promised the impossible. And then, the day after he officially took power, he reverted to a shoddy substitute of what he campaigned against. Every voter who thought they were getting what Trump promised should be furious. Since the economy is the top concern of Trump voters this season, it’s not exactly a stretch to argue that his tax plan was a major factor in a lot of voting decisions.

He’s a hypocrite.
Trump has pointed out that Cruz didn’t honor his campaign pledge to support the Republican nominee. And yet, just hours before Cruz’s speech, Trump himself broke an arguably bigger promise. Trump’s supporters would be foolish to argue that one action deserves derision while the other does not.

He’s not an economic genius after all. For all of Trump’s supposed business acumen, when left to his own devices he put together a terrible plan. And now, when faced by reality, he is hastily co-opting the policies of better men — exactly as he’s done before. At what point in Trump’s campaign does he show off his famed business skills? He has failed in fundraising, in campaign management, in trade policy, and now in tax policy. This confirms that one of his greatest “strengths” is in fact an unqualified weakness.
Of course, those who like Trump don't like him because of the points in his tax policy. They won't mind that he changed his policy right before he accepts the nomination. But what they are supposed to like about him is that he says what he believes and will do what he has said. Time and again, it seems that he just doesn't care what he said earlier.

This is the definition of stupid.
Cops in Cleveland had to extinguish a Republican convention protester on Wednesday after he inadvertently set himself on fire while trying to burn the American flag.....One cop yelled, “You’re on fire, stupid!” as extinguishers were deployed.
Nothing like demonstrating your stupidity in front of the cameras.

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Theodore Kupfer notices the hypocrisy of the media, particularly the NYT, in their reaction to Trump's interview refusing to say if he would support the Baltic states if Russia invaded them. As Kupfer points out, this is the same NYT that criticized Romney's wanrings in 2012 about Russia.
Donald Trump’s instantly-infamous interview with the New York Times was either evidence that he does not grasp basic principles of foreign policy, has little care for world order, or both. But the justified apoplexy, expressed by pretty much everyone who’s not a paleoconservative or a socialist, is telling of media hypocrisy.

Trump’s demurral to the question, “If Russia came over the border into Estonia or Latvia, Lithuania . . . would you come to their immediate military aid?” met with gasps of horror. But among the horrified were many of the same people who cheered Barack Obama’s dismissal to Mitt Romney’s 2012 comment that Russia is “without question our number one geopolitical foe.”

The New York Times editorial board, in a characteristic display of hackery, wrote at the time that Romney’s remarks “display either a shocking lack of knowledge about international affairs or just craven politics.” They proceeded to issue apologia for the President’s appeasement toward Russia, calling the country “an unsavory player” but insisting that it was not among the “real threats out there.” All of this to defend a candidate that did not take Russia seriously: Obama, you’ll recall, told Romney that the “1980s” want “their foreign policy back.” And Zack Beauchamp, then writing for ThinkProgress, said in 2012: “It’s no secret that neither Romney nor his advisers appear capable of outlining a clear vision of a Romney administration’s foreign policy.”

But the Left now appears to understand the grave threat that Russian bellicosity poses to the Baltic states, to NATO, and to us. The White House press secretary stated: “The cornerstone of [NATO] is the pledge that all of the allies have made to mutual self-defense.” Beauchamp, now writing at Vox, groused: “Donald Trump’s NATO comments are the scariest thing he’s said.” He concluded: “Nice country you got there. Shame if Russia burns it down.”

None of the criticism of Trump’s comments is wrong. But one wonders where the newfound awareness of the Russian threat has come from: The most alarmed are those who just four years ago skewered Romney’s foreign policy, which understood Russia to be a grave geopolitical threat. All we need to complete the trifecta of hypocrisy is the Times editorial board to react indignantly. Let’s see if they apologize to Mitt.

Of course, Trump's approach to foreign policy as revealed in that NYT interview is truly disturbing. Noah Rothman captures the dichotomy between what other Republicans were saying in Cleveland and what Trump believes.
This week, convention speakers like Governors Chris Christie, Mike Pence, and former Speaker Newt Gingrich declared that Hillary Clinton would abandon America’s allies. They added that she is far too lenient with autocrats like Russia’s Vladimir Putin. Donald Trump’s Republican Party is in no position to make that claim. Even as Mike Pence was accepting his party’s nomination to the vice presidency, Donald Trump was actively undermining their ticket. At that moment, the New York Times released the write-up of an interview with GOP nominee in which he made explicit that which he had only previously implied: Under a Trump administration, Vladimir Putin can have his way with Europe.
Instead of asserting that he would protect the Baltic states, he ranted about how other nations aren't paying their bills.
Instead, he went off on NATO member states “that aren’t paying their bills.” When pressed on America’s treaty obligations and whether Trump would abide by them, he said that would depend on whether they have “fulfilled their obligation to us.”

This is dangerous talk. Estonia, in particular, is genuinely and frequently threatened by Russia. It stands between Russia proper and the Moscow-controlled, heavily militarized European enclave of Kaliningrad. In 2007, a Russian cyber-attack brought the country to its knees. In 2014, Russian forces crossed the Estonian border, deployed smoke grenades and communications jamming technology, and kidnapped a border guard who they later put on trial in Moscow as a spy. That a Republican presidential candidate would dare entrain the prospect of letting Russia have its way in the Baltics only emboldens Moscow’s land-hungry president and may lead him to make a deadly miscalculation. Ambiguity about how nations would respond to threats to their interests is how wars begin.

Trump’s grasp of what NATO does, its obligations, what its member states contribute, and what benefits it yields to the United States is extremely tenuous. It should be clear by now that he has no interest in educating himself. The fact that he is married to the notion that NATO is an expense America cannot afford and that it is appropriate to blackmail U.S. allies all over the world into paying for the privilege of Washington’s protection exposes him as a neophyte—or worse....

But taking Trump at his word misses the point. He merely retrofits evolving rationales onto one key preconception, which is and has always been that Vladimir Putin should have a sphere of influence in Europe and Asia in which he can freely operate, even if that comes at America’s expense.

Trump has and continues to defend Russia’s destabilizing and quite nearly catastrophic intervention in Syria—even as Western military assets were already operating over Syrian skies—on the pretense that Russia had an interest in attacking ISIS. But the self-described caliphate was a useful tool for Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, and Moscow generally devoted its attention to striking CIA-backed anti-Assad forces and American-provided weaponry.

Trump has apologized for Putin’s clear involvement in the murder of journalists and opposition figures. “I think our country does plenty of killing,” this supposed champion of American greatness dared to say in the dictator’s defense.

Republicans in Congress have been staunch critics of Barack Obama for not responding more forcefully to Putin’s invasion and rushed annexation of sovereign Ukrainian territory—the first Anschluss of its kind since 1945—and toward the proxy war that continues to rage in Ukraine’s east. Not anymore. Trump’s campaign chairman, Paul Manafort—himself an advisor to Putin-backed dictators in the region—managed to compel Republicans on the party’s platform committee to jettison language committing the party to provide stronger support for Ukraine. After all, as Trump himself said, the Russian-led war in Eastern Europe is “really a problem that affects Europe a lot more than it affects us.”

Get ready for more of this if Hillary is president.
The Democratic National Committee gave inadequate due process when it replaced two male delegates with women “in the name of gender balance,” according to a formal complaint.

Twenty-one Democrats from Vermont filed the complaint with the DNC credentials committee on behalf of the two delegates who lost their spot, saying the delegates were elected by the public just over a month ago.
The DNC doesn't need no stinkin' votes when it has gender balance to accomplish.

Kimberley Strassel detail
s what a missed opportunity this convention was for Trump.
Yet the chance of winning the full allegiance of wary delegates was blown in the first days, when the Trump campaign and Republican National Committee chose to needlessly stomp on legitimate proposals to change the party’s structure with new rules. The campaign lumped these reformers in with the Never Trumpers (despite knowing better), and then rode roughshod over them in committee and on the floor. These are the activists Mr. Trump needs in crucial swing states. Many were left furious at their treatment.

Cleveland was Mr. Trump’s opportunity to highlight his rock-solid running mate, Mike Pence, a man picked in no small part to reassure voters worried about the Trump temperament. Whereas many of the speakers were tasked with rallying the troops in Cleveland, Mr. Pence’s job was to speak to the nation, to introduce a new, more serious, Trump-Pence ticket. He performed beautifully, knocking a masterfully written speech out of the park.

Yet nobody was talking about it the next day. Every headline instead sidetracked to Ted Cruz’s prime-time diss of the nominee. Ultimate responsibility for this act of bad form rests with the Texas senator. Still, Mr. Trump and his team badly miscalculated. Knowing Mr. Cruz’s opportunistic streak, and that he had refused to say whether he would endorse, it was political malpractice to put him into a top time slot on a crucial night.

The convention was Mr. Trump’s opportunity to reinforce one of his biggest selling points: national security. The past six weeks of terror attacks have turned this into a top voting issue, and many Americans want a decisive break from the Obama-Clinton foreign-policy vacuum. Team Trump had dutifully arranged an impressive cast of respected security leaders to make the case for him.

Then in the middle of all this forceful ground-laying, Mr. Trump inexplicably sat for a rambling interview with the New York Times, in which he threatened to abandon NATO guarantees; suggested he would further withdraw the U.S. from world affairs; praised the Turkish president’s authoritarian tendencies; and (in a remarkable Barack Obama impression) said that the U.S. is in no place to “lecture” other countries. Rudy Giuliani, Newt Gingrich and Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn might have saved their breath.

Cleveland was also Mr. Trump’s chance to showcase how many of his former rivals and critics had endorsed him: Scott Walker, Marco Rubio, Ben Carson, Rick Perry, Mike Huckabee, Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell. Instead, Trump adviser Paul Manafort launched the convention by loudly attacking those who had not, berating John Kasich and alienating Ohio Republicans loyal to their governor.
Strassel points out that the incompetence demonstrated at the convention dilutes the message that Hillary Clinton is an incompetent who shouldn't be allowed in the White House.

Awww. Hillary Clinton is considering Tom Vilsack for her running mate. They already have a lot in common.
Tom Vilsack, the former governor of Iowa and President Barack Obama’s current secretary of agriculture, was caught up in a 2004 scandal that resulted in emails being “inadvertently” destroyed. Vilsack partially blamed himself for destroying emails regarding the Iowa Department of Economic Development Foundation. The Des Moines Register had requested the emails.

Vilsack’s response to the controversy, rather ironically, mirrored Clinton’s response to her own email scandal: he basically said he was old and didn’t know how to use email.

“I’m 52 years old, and I don’t know much about technology,” Vilsack said at the time, according to The National Review. “I don’t even know how to send a response to an e-mail, that’s how technologically deficient I am.”
What a great argument to win over the young people's vote.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Cruising the Web

Today I'm blogging from Auburn, New York and the Finger Lakes region of New York. We visited where Harriet Tubman settled in the 1850s and lived until her death. Having learned more about her and how she devoted her life after the Civil War to providing a place for poor, sick black elderly people to live made me even more impressed with this remarkable woman. I hadn't known that, as a child, a man had thrown a two-pound metal disk at an escaping slave and hit her in the head. She suffered ever afterwards from temporal lobe epilepsy and would suffer fits of epilepsy throughout her life, but determined not to let that ever hold her back. She was an excellent choice to replace Andrew Jackson and I recommend visiting the site if you're in upstate New York. They don't have much to see there at the present, but the administrator there gave an excellent and dramatic presentation on her life.

Today we're going to tour the Women's Rights Historical Museum at Seneca Falls. It's rather de rigueur for an American history teacher.

At least thinking about 19th century America helps give me perspective for the terrible state of our politics today.

Jim Geraghty argues that the incompetence of the Trump campaign shouldn't overshadow the message from Monday night at the convention.
Yes, Donald Trump is a flawed messenger for the case against Hillary Clinton, but that doesn’t make the message any less true or compelling. The decision by a lot of big-name Republican lawmakers to skip the Cleveland convention was a blessing in disguise, because it cleared the stage for ordinary Americans who suffered the cruel, random, and deadly consequences of the Obama administration’s policies.

The speeches from the non-politicians on Monday night weren’t always professionally polished or slick. During these presentations, the high-level media risers to the right of the stage seethed with exasperated sighs, gasps of disbelief, and eye-rolling groans. But the speakers told Americans stories they needed to hear — and while Monday’s effort to force a vote on the rule shows Republican delegates aren’t fully unified on the qualities of Donald Trump, the roaring arena showed they are united in fury at the thought of Hillary Clinton continuing the misrule from the Oval Office.

Some Americans might ask, “Why rehash the Fast and Furious scandal?” — and most other Americans won’t even remember the details of the wrongdoing. But Fast and Furious was an early, important example of the Obama administration’s culture of unaccountability.

If a Republican administration had allowed known gun traffickers to make “straw purchases” — legal purchases of firearms in significant quantities to be resold to criminals on the other side of the border — and let more than 2,000 firearms flow into the hands of the cartels, the national outrage from both Democrats and the media would be explosive. U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent Brian Terry was shot to death with one of those weapons....

....are drunk drivers. Illegal immigrants may not be more prone to commit violent crimes than the general population, but it is legitimately infuriating to hear about violent crimes committed by illegal immigrants who are briefly detained by police authorities and then released, or even worse, effectively protected by “sanctuary cities.”

Jamiel Shaw, an African American from Los Angeles, described how his son was killed by an illegal immigrant who was released from jail just one day before the murder, after a conviction that could have made him eligible for deportation.

“For two weeks local politicians supported us, and every black politician in L.A. did too,” Shaw said. “Two weeks after that, everything changed. We learned that the killer was an illegal-alien gangbanger from Mexico, released from jail with a deportation hold, three gun charges, and an assault and battery on a police officer [charge]. And the politicians disappeared.”

The more a political figure wants amnesty or an easy path to citizenship, the less they want to discuss crimes committed by illegal immigrants. According to the House Judiciary Committee, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s 2014 releases included individuals accounting for 86 homicide convictions, 186 kidnapping convictions, 373 sexual-assault convictions, 449 commercialized sexual offenses, 1,194 battery convictions, 1,346 domestic-violence convictions, and 13,636 convictions for driving under the influence of alcohol.
Of course, these messages won't break through the media filter that will spend all its time focusing on the disruptions and mistakes at the convention instead of on the message that these ordinary people had.

And, most importantly, there is no evidence that a Trump victory would do anything to help change the policies that these speakers were talking about.
To watch men and women such as Mark Geist, John Tiegen, and Pat Smith speak is to be reminded of the extraordinary costs of Clinton and Obama’s foreign policy, where “leading from behind” often meant “Let jihadists take charge.” The failure to exert American power not only left Americans exposed and vulnerable to attacks from two-bit Islamic militias, it had the staggering strategic consequence of squandering hard-fought American gains in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

But to listen to Donald Trump — to actually listen to his words, rather than be impressed by his attitude — is to realize that he stands to make things even worse. His foreign policy takes “leading from behind,” magnifies all its failures, and repackages it as “America first.” When you actually look at the details, his foreign policy stands to repeat Obama’s mistakes, compound them with new mistakes, then hide them all behind ignorant, belligerent posturing.

Let’s take, for example, Libya and Iraq. At the heart of the Obama–Clinton Libya failure was the desire to let American allies lead, combined with a deep reluctance to commit sufficient American force to guarantee a favorable outcome. When from the outset a leader vows no “boots on the ground,” he is declaring up front that he is abdicating ultimate strategic responsibility to those who are willing to put skin in the game.

Now look at Trump’s alleged ISIS strategy, just articulated on Sixty Minutes:
Donald Trump: I am going to have very few troops on the ground. We’re going to have unbelievable intelligence, which we need; which, right now, we don’t have. We don’t have the people over there. We are going to use —

Lesley Stahl: You want to send Americans —

Donald Trump: Excuse me — and we’re going to have surrounding states and, very importantly, get NATO involved because we support NATO far more than we should, frankly, because you have a lot of countries that aren’t doing what they’re supposed to be doing. And we have to wipe out ISIS. And speaking of Turkey, Turkey is an ally. Turkey can do it by themselves. But they have to be incentivized. For whatever reason, they’re not. So we have no choice.
Hillary Clinton called, she wants her Libya strategy back. The best that can be said for Trump’s “lead from behind” version 2.0 is that at least it’s a marginal improvement over his previous ISIS strategies — which included ordering American troops to commit war crimes, bombing oil fields (and have Exxon rebuild them in two months), and fantastical notions of calling Bill Gates for help in “closing up” parts of the Internet.
And does anyone believe that a Trump victory would do anything to decrease racial tensions in the country? Clinton would also be a disaster. Sadly, there are no good choices, only choosing the less terrible candidate or declining to vote for either.
Even Trump’s much-vaunted love for “the vets” has its limits. He mocked veteran John McCain for being captured. He’ll threaten civil–military relations and slander the character of our warriors by claiming that troops would obey even his unlawful commands. And he’ll accuse American troops of corruption when it serves his purposes.

Hillary Clinton’s foreign-policy record is appalling. Her Russian reset was a bad joke. The Libyan intervention was a disaster. And the Obama administration she defends is fighting a slow-motion war against ISIS that has allowed it to create and maintain vast terrorist safe havens.

American heroes have suffered because of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. It’s impossible to read accounts of the Benghazi debacle without feeling rage and despair at the administration’s foolishness and betrayal. Clinton deserved every syllable of last night’s searing indictment, but Donald Trump does not merit a single word of praise.

A plurality of Republican voters and the majority of the Republican establishment have chosen to answer a disaster with a disaster. Behind the slogans and behind the belligerence there exists a singular and disturbing reality — a vote for Donald Trump is a vote for American retreat.

McKay Coppins of Buzz Feed takes a look
on why Donald Trump ultimately decided to run for president. He just wanted to gain some respect. He couldn't stand the derision with which he was treated by so many in the media and he just wanted to show them up and also show up everyone who had ever laughed at him since he was a young man.He felt disrespect at Wharton and ever after. It is then that he began his incessant quest for media coverage whether positive or negative. He just wanted to be talked about. As I was reading through the article, I was thinking that he sounded like Carrie getting her revenge for the pig's blood at the prom. And then Coppins used that exact image in describing Trump's reaction to the ridicule heaped on him at the Washington Correspondents' Dinner.
he longer the night went on, the more conspicuous Trump’s glower became. He didn’t offer a self-deprecating chuckle, or wave warmly at the cameras, or smile with the practiced good humor of the aristocrats and A-listers who know they must never allow themselves to appear threatened by a joke at their expense. Instead, Trump just sat there, stone-faced, stunned, simmering — Carrie at the prom covered in pig’s blood.
Then his feelings were hurt when Romney wouldn't have Trump campaign for him in Florida or speak at the convention.

But for Trump, the ultimate insult came at the Republican National Convention in Tampa. “Everybody wanted me to make a keynote speech,” Trump told me. “People were writing me thousands of letters and emails, all going crazy.” Yet despite the pleading of these vast letter-writing multitudes, the Romney campaign turned him down. Trump was indignant. “What, I wouldn’t say the right thing?” he told me. “Hey, I went to the Wharton School of Finance. I did great.” Anyway, as consolation, the campaign said he could produce a short video to show at the convention — but in the end, even that got scuttled.

Trump told me that Romney and his advisers were simply “afraid of me” — worried about how much less presidential Mitt would look compared to him. But people close to Trump said he has never stopped seething over the campaign’s convention snubs.
Coppins explains how Trump's bragging about not taking money from the big donors was basically an accidental result of a major fundraiser trying to get out of telling Trump that he wouldn't work for him.
Nunberg later confessed to me that Trump’s principled stand against the corrupt donor class was little more than lucky spin. “The truth is, he would have raised money if he could have … Donald never had any intention of self-financing.”

It was a pattern that persisted throughout 2015 as Trump and his hodgepodge team tried to assemble something resembling a presidential campaign. Often, he would start out trying to do it the traditional way — wooing rich contributors, courting conservative elites, making offers to top-flight strategists — only to find himself fumbling through yet another unfamiliar universe of taunting insiders.
While other 2016 contenders carefully strategized over how to bag billionaire mega-donors — from the Koch brothers to Paul Singer — Trump simply assumed that his status as a financial peer would do all the selling necessary, two of his former aides told me. But when he tried making his appeals to them, he was spurned — sometimes in humiliating fashion.
He almost backed off running, but his hired supporters talked him back into running.
Trump’s advisers took turns making appeals to his ego, to his patriotism, to his lust for TV cameras — anything they could think of. What finally seemed to do the trick, according to Nunberg, was floating the notion that his haters might get the final word on him in the history books. “I don’t know what’s going to happen in this election,” he recalled telling Trump. “But no matter what, they’re gonna write about it a hundred years from now. And they’re never gonna be able to say you didn’t run.”

Trump adopted this as a kind of mantra in those final, anxious days before entering the race. “They’re never gonna say I didn’t run,” he recited to one aide after another.
It rather reminds me of both LBJ's and Nixon's personal insecurities and how they both used political success as a way to respond to critics. Yup, just what we all are hoping for - to have another leader who views the presidency as a way of working through his own insecurities.

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Peter Robinson's explanation of why he didn't hire on as a Trump adviser and speechwriter helps to clarify why so many experienced operatives aren't signing up with the Trump campaign. Robinson was willing to help write Trump's acceptance speech because he regards a Trump victory as preferable to a Clinton presidency.
A couple of days later, the campaign asked me to sign a non-disclosure agreement. After having a lawyer advise me—note, by the way, that the lawyer is a Trump supporter, one of the few I know here in Northern California—I declined to do so. To speak to the media, to name one provision, the NDA would have required me to seek approval from Trump’s representatives—in perpetuity. Half my friends are in the media. I might as well have sawn off an arm.
While NDAs might be common in political campaigns, I can well understand why someone who comments on politics for a living wouldn't want to sign off on one. I wonder if John McCain wishes that he'd had his campaign advisers sign off on an NDA instead of seeing them write contemptuous campaign books about his efforts and Sarah Palin.

John Fund blames
Donald Trump's cheapness for his inability to get competent help.
One reason for the shambolic nature of Trump’s staff is the difficulty it has in hiring good talent quickly. Just last week, Trump sought $10 million in damages from former campaign aide Sam Nunberg for alleged breaches of his nondisclosure agreement. That action has created paranoia among Team Trump members. “Mr. Trump requires employees to sign and adhere to strict confidentiality agreements,” Trump attorney Alan Garten said in a statement July 13, after Trump announced he was suing Nunberg. “When the agreements are not adhered to, he will enforce them to the full extent of the law, and Mr. Trump’s litigation track record on such matters is outstanding.”
Yeah, nothing like suing a former aide, one who reportedly idolized Trump, to put a chill on hiring new aides.
Trump says his critics don’t grasp that he’s running a different campaign. His social-media accounts on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram now reach nearly 20 million people at little or no cost. Trump still gets heaps of media coverage, and if you really believe his theory that all publicity is good publicity, he comes out ahead from that coverage.

But what Donald Trump is attempting to do is unprecedented in modern presidential politics. It’s true that he pulled off a remarkable feat by parlaying his 95 percent name ID into 14 million votes in the GOP primaries and winning the nomination. But in the general election, he will need 50 million votes. It’s unclear whether simply promoting his brand will win him enough votes.

Trump could nonetheless win the November election. He might perform well against the wooden, lie-a-minute Hillary in debates; terrorist attacks could drive nervous independents in his direction; promised leaks from Hillary’s e-mail accounts via Julian Assange’s WikiLeaks may well materialize. But if this election is close and Trump loses, his failure to spend money on a competent staff, build a ground game, and avoid unforced errors will probably be blamed.

The irony is that a man who claims to be so successful and so enamored of finding “the best” has brought his campaign into its current disrepute because he’s been a cheapskate when it comes to spending money on the Trump presidential brand.
I suspect also that quite a few of the most experienced and best political operatives just don't want to have Donald Trump's campaign on their resume. They probably hope to have years of jobs working for GOP candidates in their future and worry that, in campaigns to come, having worked for Trump will not be a net positive.

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After learning of the Melania plagiarized speech, Ramesh Ponnuru sees the unifying theme to the Trump campaign. Not to toot my own horn, but it's basically what I wrote yesterday. Ponnuru starts off by saying that Melania's speech sounded like it was written about someone other than her husband. And he was right - it was written about Barack Obama.
Trump is campaigning less on a platform than on his own managerial excellence. He will hire the best people and make the best deals, he tells us. Melania Trump’s prime-time plagiarism undermines that story. It is another sign that he is not running a minimally competent campaign.

Controversy over the plagiarism, and the Trump campaign’s excuses for it and denials of it, have dominated coverage of the first stage of the Republican convention. That can’t be what the Trump campaign wanted. But then it’s a little hard to know what it wanted.

Traditionally the role of a political party’s convention is to unify it and excite it for the campaign to come. Campaign manager Paul Manafort chose, however, to attack the popular Republican governor of a must-win swing state on day one. He went after John Kasich for not endorsing Trump, saying that Kasich had embarrassed his state -- simultaneously drawing attention to and exacerbating the party’s disunity.

Party unity would also have been served by a different approach to anti-Trump delegates, although this screw-up may have been the fault of the Republican National Committee more than the Trump campaign. Those delegates were denied a roll-call vote on the convention’s rules, and the process by which they were denied it was not transparent.

The alternative would have been to allow a roll-call vote, which the anti-Trumpers would almost certainly have lost. Then some of the losers could be asked to tell reporters that they had been treated fairly but that most delegates were with Trump. Some of them would have played ball. But instead of doing any of that, the Republicans appeared to be operating from a playbook Manafort got from his dictator clients.

A roll-call vote, it’s true, would have impinged on the convention’s schedule, maybe even going into prime time. It would have been no great loss. Last night had only one and a half good speeches. Rudy Giuliani, agree or disagree with his content, made an effective attack on Hillary Clinton. Mrs. Trump’s speech, though pedestrian, would have been counted as a success, too, if its banalities had not been borrowed.

This is a stunted convention. Many Republican politicians have found somewhere else to be. You might have thought that Trump could at least bring some celebrities to Cleveland; but in fact Mitt Romney’s convention outdid him for star power. (Scott Baio is no Clint Eastwood.) The theme of the first day of the convention was supposed to be “making America safe again.” It turned out instead to be political incompetence.

Ashe Schow wonders if there is a plagiarism double standard given that Joe Biden plagiarized in law school and in campaign speeches, but is now vice president. And Barack Obama plagiarized a Deval Patrick speech and it was a short story that soon died out. And they were running for president, not the spouse of a candidate.

Some in the media are horrified that Pat Smith, the mother of Sean Smith who was killed in Benghazi, gave a speech on Monday blaming Hillary Clinton for her son's death. Jim Geraghty remembers when mothers of those slain in battle were regarded as founts of wisdom when the person being blamed for a son's death was George W. Bush.
Hey, remember when grieving mothers of American men slain in battle had “absolute moral authority,” in the words of New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd?

It will not surprise you to learn that a lot of members of the media seethed at Smith’s speech. Perhaps it was indeed exploitative for the Trump campaign to put her front and center at the convention; she’s grieving and, some will argue, looking for a scapegoat for her son’s death. (Again, I don’t recall this argument coming from any Democrats during the peak of Cindy Sheehan’s public role in antiwar activism. Or the “Jersey Girl” 9/11 widows who endorsed Kerry.)

If you’re one of those folks who found Pat Smith’s remarks shamelessly exploitative, I wonder if you’ll see the same grumbling about the speakers at the upcoming Democratic National Convention:
Also scheduled Tuesday are Mothers of the Movement members Gwen Carr, Mother of Eric Garner; Sybrina Fulton, Mother of Trayvon Martin; Maria Hamilton, Mother of Dontré Hamilton; Lucia McBath, Mother of Jordan Davis; Lezley McSpadden, Mother of Michael Brown; Cleopatra Pendleton-Cowley, Mother of Hadiya Pendleton; Geneva Reed-Veal, Mother of Sandra Bland.
Oh, now it’s not okay to invoke tragic deaths in the name of a political agenda? I’ll keep that in mind next week. Or after the next mass shooting.