Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Cruising the Web

So someone got to Trump to let him know how awful his press conference with Putin went and they've come up with a hostage-tape sort of correction to pretend that he actually wanted to say "I don't see any reason why it wouldn't be Russia" instead of when he actually said "would be Russia." Yeah, that's the ticket.



We're really in the post-modern presidency. I wonder if all those Trumpbots who were defending what he said on Monday will now turn around and change their tune. Won't they feel stupid for having defended him?

I bet they were up all night figuring out a way for him to take back what he said without acknowledging that he made a major mistake that everyone except his most fervent admirers condemned. But does anyone really believe this explanation? Of course not. It's all to put some chum in the water to give his defenders a hook for a new defense.

Jonah Goldberg notices that it still doesn't make sense.
Well, in his walk back today, Trump goes out of his way to say that it “could be other people also.” So apparently he’s saying that yesterday he meant to say that he couldn’t see any reason why it wouldn’t be Russia and Russia alone who meddled in the election. Today, he’s saying that he can see how it might be lots of other people or countries?

Again, it’s good that Trump is trying to fix the damage, and it’s good that people in the White House (presumably) made him do it (the reporting on that will be fascinating). Still, I expect he’ll fall back into a “you’re damn right I ordered the code red” admission that contradicts this admission sooner rather than later. Though I hope he doesn’t.
I'm glad he's come around, to some extent, to acknowledging Russia's involvement and the election. But his moral equivalence still stands.


David French argues against those who want to argue that it doesn't matter so much what Trump says about Russia, but what he does. For example, Ben Shapiro rightly excoriated Trump yesterday but also argued that what Trump says doesn't really matter uness his rhetoric is backed up by actions as, for instance, they've been on tariffs. French writes,
Trump’s rhetoric is a problem.

For a very long time, conservatives and liberals have agreed on a fundamental point of foreign policy and international diplomacy. Words matter. A great deal. The messages we sent to friends and enemies impact the real world in significant ways.

In fact, throughout the Obama administration, Republicans and Democrats knew so well that words matter that they fought a series of ferocious political battles about the correct words to use at home and abroad.

Should Obama say that American rivals and enemies have “legitimate grievances” with America?

Should Obama use the word “Islamic” when describing our terrorist enemies? After all, as we were endlessly told, “If you can’t name the enemy, you can’t defeat the enemy.”

Was it accurate to characterize Obama’s early foreign trips, including his famous Cairo speech, as an “apology tour”?

It was right to fight over these words. After all, a nation that wrongly believes its own missteps are a prime cause of our enemies’ actions is more likely to display weaknesses that enemies can exploit. A nation that believes its enemies are motivated more by, say, economics than religion is a nation that will make specific adjustments in its strategies and tactics overseas. And, critically, foreign powers listen to that rhetoric as a barometer of American intentions and American will. They take actions based on our words.

But now we’re supposed to believe that words don’t matter?


Ramesh Ponnuru wonders
why people, including Trump, are having trouble acknowledging more than one truth about the election.
But it ought to be possible to acknowledge all of the following truths at the same time: Hillary Clinton was a lousy candidate. Trump was a better one than a lot of people thought he would be. Americans cast their votes with free will, their votes were counted accurately, and the result under our electoral system was that Trump was duly elected. And Russia manipulated the flow of information, to the extent it could, to help Trump get elected.
Byron York explains why Trump has been so stubborn on the whole question of Russian interference.
There have always been two parts to the Trump-Russia probe: the what-Russia-did part, which is the investigation into Russia's actions during the campaign, and the get-Trump part, which is the effort to use the investigation to remove him from office.

Trump's problem is that he has always refused, or been unable, to separate the two. One is about national security and international relations, while the other is about Donald Trump.

The president clearly believes if he gives an inch on the what-Russia-did part — if he concedes that Russia made an effort to disrupt the election — his adversaries, who want to discredit his election, undermine him, and force him from office, will take a mile on the get-Trump part. That's consistent with how Trump approaches other problems; he doesn't admit anything, because he knows his adversaries will never be satisfied and just demand more.

But Trump's approach doesn't work for the Trump-Russia probe. There's no reason he could not accept the verdicts of the House Intelligence Committee, the Senate Intelligence Committee, the Intelligence Community, and, yes, Mueller, that Russia tried to interfere in the election. There would be no political loss, and, in fact, great political gain, for Trump to endorse that finding.

At the same time, there is nothing wrong with Trump fighting back hard against the get-Trump part of the investigation.
Trump isn't the only one who can't separate the two - his opponents also assume that any evidence of Russian interference in the election means that Trump was colluding with Russia.


Ilya Shapiro writes about the silly bureaucratic laws that Virginia is considering to require parents who volunteer in their kids' pre-schools to undergo 30 hours of training before they can help out in their child's classroom.
As reported by the Washington Post, however, the Virginia Department of Social Services is considering regulations that would require co-oping parents instead to undergo approximately 30 hours of training—just to help in the classroom a few hours each month, completing daunting tasks like passing out snacks and sweeping the floors.

My wife, who is planning to be our “participating parent,” will be devastated if the regulations are adopted. She’s a full-time lawyer and when she’s not working she’s making sure that our sons are fed and happy. (I do that too, but we’ll leave aside the issue of marital negotiations over child care and other household chores for another time.)

She’s proud that she can balance work and family while being involved in our son’s preschool—she’s going to chair the hospitality committee! She willingly underwent a background check that was in several respects more intense than that for her top-secret security clearance, all because she wants our son to feel loved and supported during his first few years of school. But as a working mom, she simply can’t take nearly a week off work to complete the training the Virginia Department of Social Services is contemplating.

She’s not alone. Many parents choose co-oping preschools because they want to participate directly in their children’s education. Indeed, parental involvement in education is associated with improved academic achievement and fewer behavioral problems. Parental involvement can also be especially comforting for preschoolers, many of whom are as young as two years old and in an institutional environment for the first time in their lives. The fact that parents volunteer in co-oping preschools is an advantage, not something onerous regulations should discourage.
Wow, how times have changed. Both my daughters went to this sort of cooperative preschool. I didn't need any training to help out. I just had to sign up for the days I was available and bring in a snack. It's a sorry situation that parents are assumed to need 30 hours of training in order to play with a bunch of two-year-olds.


Those required hours of training are just part of a trend to treat care of toddlers as if it's as challenging as being a doctor. Juliana Knot writes about the increasing requirements to be a daycare worker.
Earlier this summer, Washington D.C. enacted regulation that forces all daycare personnel to have a college degree. Under the new law, daycare directors must earn bachelors degrees, and daycare teachers must earn associates degrees.

D.C. officials say this will improve the quality of care for low-income children. Better educated teachers will supposedly propel children who lack the resources of their wealthy peers to do better in school later on.

These new restrictions are suffocating small daycares whose staff can’t afford to pursue a degree. Daycares that have served the D.C. area for decades are shutting their doors as a result of these new regulations....

However well-intentioned they may be, rules mandating degrees are harming small businesses and worsening the problem they’re trying to improve.

Teachers don’t need a four-year-degree to change diapers and tie shoes.
What makes a good daycare worker is someone who cares. Experience with babies and little kids is what helps, but that isn't the sort of experience you get in a classroom.
Sending these daycare teachers back to school deprives them of their most valuable skill set: experience. These caretakers will go to college, carrying books rather than babies, and come back as worse teachers as a result.
The real losers of this law will be low-income workers who are good at taking care of little children, but can't afford to go to college. It also will raise the cost of daycare which makes life even more difficult for parents who are having enough trouble, especially in an expensive city as Washington, affording daycare.


Some laws are so mysterious. For example, it somehow makes sense for the Las Vegas Resorts International hotel to sue the victims of the massacre there in order to forestall those victims suing the hotel. This is their argument:
They do not seek money from the victims but do ask that a judge decide if the 2002 act is applicable, and if so, determine that future civil lawsuits against the company are not viable.

Debra DeShong, a spokeswoman for MGM Resorts, released a statement about the litigation Monday.

According to the statement, “The Federal Court is an appropriate venue for these cases and provides those affected with the opportunity for a timely resolution. Years of drawn out litigation and hearings are not in the best interest of victims, the community and those still healing.”
A lawyer for some of the victims is not impressed.
MGM is a Nevada company, so any lawsuits belong in state court, Eglet said. He viewed the decision to file the complaints in federal court as a “blatant display of judge shopping” that “quite frankly verges on unethical.”

“I’ve never seen a more outrageous thing, where they sue the victims


What is up with Elon Musk? Why would he attack one of the men chiefly responsible for the rescue of the Thai soccer team and call him a pedophile?
Tesla's stock fell Monday after a British diver involved in the mission to save 12 Thai boys and their soccer coach said he is considering legal action against Elon Musk because the company's boss labeled him “pedo guy.”

Spelunker Vernon Unsworth had called a submarine crafted by a team of Musk’s technicians a “PR stunt.” Billionaire Musk suggested the vessel — made out of a SpaceX rocket part — could be used to assist rescuers in freeing the soccer team from a flooded cave system in Chiang Rai.

“He can stick his submarine where it hurts,” Unsworth said of Musk’s submarine idea in an interview with CNN. “It just had absolutely no chance of working. He had no conception of what the cave passage was like.”

In response, Musk launched a scathing attack on the cave explorer on Twitter. On Sunday, he said in a now-deleted series of tweets that he would release video footage of the cylindrical vessel sailing through one of the caves.

He then made the baseless claim that Unsworth was a pedophile, saying: “Sorry pedo guy, you really did ask for it.”

After another Twitter user challenged him on his remarks, Musk said: “Bet ya a signed dollar it’s true.”

Those tweets have since been deleted.

“I believe he’s called me a pedophile,” Unsworth told The Guardian newspaper. “I think people realize what sort of guy [Musk] is.”

When asked whether he would consider pursuing legal action against the Tesla CEO, Unsworth reportedly said: “Yes, it’s not finished.”
The man is a billionaire yet he can't stop himself from launching a crude attack on someone who criticized him. Hmmmm. Sound familiar? Musk is a serious jerk.


Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Cruising the Web

Trump had to know that, if there were a press conference, he would get questions about Russian hacking in our election. He had time to figure out some sort of answer that didn't absolve Russia of all guilt. Instead he just brushed away all concern that it could have been Russia doing the hacking. I guess if our intelligence services investigate and say Russians were hacking into the computers of political figures during our election, Trump's immediate response is to pretend not to believe them. Unfathomable for a U.S. president to act that way.


So, on one hand he has his own Director of National Intelligence telling him that it's Russia. On the other hand, he has Putin denying it. And Trump can't decide which of them to believe! At that point, I'd resign if I were Dan Coats.

When it comes to talking about bad relations with Russia, he blames the U.S. Forget about that whole invasion of Ukraine and aid to genocide in Syria. It's all the U.S. and former presidents who are at fault.

Remember when conservatives zapped Obama for his apology tour of foreign countries. We'll see how many of Trump fans are just a bit disgusted about Trump's performance with Putin. As Allahpundit writes,
Three days after members of Russian intelligence are indicted for hacking American citizens to try to influence a U.S. presidential election, Trump can’t find anything about Russia to complain about. It’s his own MAGA Apology Tour featuring one very special country, coincidentally the same one that waded into the 2016 campaign on his behalf. The cherry on the sundae is this tweet from Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which couldn’t restrain its own mocking contempt for him. A spirit of mutual conciliation before a summit would have required them to say something here along the lines of “there’s blame to go around, both sides have made mistakes, today is a new chapter,” blah blah. Instead the MFA took that view that if their enemy’s going to punch himself in the balls by belittling his own country, why rescue him from it?

It used to be that Republicans hated the "Blame America first" mentality in political leaders. I guess that, with Obama and Trump, that's all over. It's rather appalling.

Trump is basically absolving Russia of all blame in our bad relationship these days, as he said in this tweet,


Jim Geraghty has some questions based on this Trumpian bit of bombast.
Just for the sake of argument, let’s put aside the allegations of hacking and stealing data and then funneling it through WikiLeaks during the 2016 election.

Did the United States make Russian intelligence use that Novichok nerve agent in Salisbury, England?

Did the U.S. make Russian-aligned separatists use a Russian military anti-aircraft missile to shoot down a Malaysian Airlines jet, full of innocent civilians? More than a few aviation experts will contend that a Boeing 777 cannot easily be mistaken for a military aircraft, and air-traffic and radar records indicate that no Ukrainian aircraft was within 30 miles of the Malaysian Airlines plane — meaning either the separatists knew it was a civilian jetliner and fired anyway, or the Russian military handed off anti-aircraft weapons to militants so utterly incompetent that they couldn’t distinguish between military and civilian aircraft. In any other context, we would consider that state-sponsored terrorism.

In 1983, the Soviet military shot down Korean Airlines Flight 007, and President Reagan held a nationally televised address calling it “a crime against humanity” and “an act of barbarism, born of a society which wantonly disregards individual rights and the value of human life and seeks constantly to expand and dominate other nations.” He suspended negotiations on some issues and pushed for other countries to bar Aeroflot, the Soviet airline, from their skies.

I seem to recall a lot of us finding Obama’s response in 2014 muffled. There’s no statute of limitations on accountability; the Trump administration could press Putin’s regime hard on this, but they choose another path.

The four-year anniversary of the attack on Malaysian Airlines is tomorrow.

Did the U.S. make the Russian military roll into Crimea?

When Syria’s Bashar al-Assad uses chemical weapons, after the regime in Tehran, who’s the first to defend him? Why is Russia so eager to end investigations into the use of chemical weapons in Syria, using veto power at the United Nations again and again?

I recall during the election, an esteemed former colleague — who at one point knew Russia pretty darn well — insisting that Russia was “going to help us defeat ISIS.” Unfortunately, Russian forces have sometimes refused to strike ISIS targets in parts of Syria they control. In Syria, Russia has been absolutely brutal in hitting anti-Assad forces, inflicting plenty of civilian casualties, yet they never brought that ruthless ferocity to the fight against ISIS.

And at least once, some forces aligned with theirs took shots at our forces. Why did a large group of Russian mercenaries fire upon American special forces in Deir al-Zour Province in Syria? (They paid the price; anywhere from 200 to 300 members of the opposition died, and no Americans were harmed.)

Why does the Russian military conduct mock invasion drills just beyond the territorial waters of NATO members?

Just how is the United States supposed to react to this steadily worsening record of aggression? In this context, why would anyone find Russia hacking, stealing data, exposing private emails, and perhaps even mixing in some disinformation so unthinkable?

At what point do we hold Putin and the Russian government accountable for its actions?

Trump said at a recent rally: “Putin’s fine. He’s fine. We’re all fine. We’re people.”

No, he’s not “fine.”

Gosh, I wish that Trump had some courses in history when he was at his fancy prep school at at Wharton. Maybe then he wouldn't be so blithe about tyrants. His supporters love that Trump is tough. Do they love it when he rolls over and talks in such a conciliating manner to Putin? Is toughness only admirable when it's directed at the media, the Democrats and the EU?

If you're a Trump person, just ask yourself what your reaction would be if Obama had talked like in a press conference with Putin. You'd be outraged. And rightly so. Just because the media are unbalanced in how they covered Obama's supine posture toward the Russians and Trump's blathering, doesn't mean that conservatives should just brush off Trump's behavior here. Why can't we condemn both since the behavior of both was contemptible?

This is how I view it.



I guess that Trump is so insecure about his election victory that he can't bear to admit that there might have been anything irregular about his victory. That displays a real frailty in his character. As Ben Shapiro writes,
That doesn’t mean, as Democrats have suggested, that Trump is in bed with the Russians. Far more likely, it means that Trump’s ego is one giant gaping wound, constantly draining rage over the suggestion that his 2016 election victory was somehow ill-won. To the refusal of former FBI director James Comey to publicly clear him in the collusion investigation, Trump responded by firing Comey; now he’s responded to the Mueller investigation’s indictment of twelve Russian government hackers by proclaiming that Putin might be innocent after all. This isn’t about some nefarious plot. It’s about Trump’s ridiculous ego problem.

None of that acts as justification for Trump’s behavior, of course.

But it does explain why when Trump says stuff, it often doesn’t matter.

Now that Trump is being excoriated not only by the Democrats and the media, but also by prominent Republicans, the White House must be scrambling to spin his disaster of his press conference. So Trump put out this tweet. What do you bet that this was composed by his aides.
It's not going to be enough to erase the terrible impression from what he said off the cuff from his own mouth.


I don't think anyone is going to buy Trump's latest tweet. As the Washington Examiner comments,
If this is how Trump talks about agencies in which he has “GREAT confidence,” I’d love to hear how he talks about the ones that have lost his favor.

Shapiro argues that it really doesn't matter what stupid stuff Trump says because people just tune him out. They're more interested in what he does than what he says.
The rest of the world has already dismissed Trump’s verbiage on various occasions. Last week, for example, he tore into NATO; according to the Wall Street Journal, he even told NATO members that he would “do my own thing” if members didn’t increase their military spending. What was the upshot? Nothing. Leaders at NATO quickly closed ranks and stated that NATO was as strong as ever, ignoring Trump’s pyrotechnics. They figured, correctly, that Trump’s national-security establishment isn’t going to facilitate a pullout from NATO and that if they gave him some sort of rhetorical victory, he’d go back to watching Shark Week.

When it comes to trade, however, Trump’s words matter — because they’re backed by policy. Trump’s tantrum at the G-7 had real ramifications for American policy because he immediately used his executive power to launch tariffs at a bevy of American allies.
That's an interesting argument. Now the question is whether Trump's idiotic and disturbing comments on Russia matter.
So, is Trump’s Russia policy more like NATO or more like the G-7? Putin probably figures it’s more like NATO: If he were to suddenly invade Lithuania, Trump couldn’t be trusted to stand down. And were Putin to escalate his election intervention, even those working within Trump’s defense establishment couldn’t be trusted to stand idly by — after all, Trump is bashing his own Justice Department, which is ably prosecuting Russian agents.

The Trump administration’s Kremlinology, in other words, isn’t the same as the Obama administration’s Kremlinology. Republicans were constantly enraged by Obama’s words because his softness was constantly backed by policy — the Obama administration and Obama weren’t two separate entities. The same simply isn’t true of Trump, whose administration operates independently of the president at a variety of levels.

Again, that’s not a defense of Trump. But it is an argument that the panic induced by his verbiage should be tempered with the knowledge that he says a lot of stuff, and that members of his own administration ignore most of it when it comes time to implement policy. They know it, Putin knows it, and the press knows it. Only Trump seems blissfully unaware of the disconnect between the nonsense he spews and the policy his administration promulgates. In this case, we’re better off for that disconnect.


Of course, whenever Trump says something especially idiotic, Hillary Clinton pops up to say, "Hold my beer." Here she is imagining what the country will be like if Brett Kavanaugh gets to sit on the Supreme Court.
"I used to worry that they [the Republicans] wanted to turn the clock back to the 1950s. Now I worry they want to turn it back to the 1850s," Clinton said.
Yes, because Kavanaugh will vote to bring back slavery.

A little bit of hyperbole goes a long way. Perhaps Hillary didn't learn that the Democrats were the party supporting slavery and Jim Crow.


Yeah, this doesn't sound like it would hold up to constitutional scrutiny.
Even before the U.S. Supreme Court dealt a blow to public unions in June, some states were making moves to soften that potential blow.

In May, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed a bill that limits the amount of time government employees can withdraw from their union. They now have just 10 days a year -- the ones immediately following their work anniversary -- to make that decision.
If members have to right to withdraw from the unions, why should they be limited to a ten-day period? And remember, the Janus decision ruled that unions had to use an opt-in rather than an opt-out system for members. Workers aren't indentured servants who are bound to their union masters for a year.


Ah, so now it's an education problem that the homeless don't know enough not to poop on the sidewalk.
San Francisco Mayor London Breed, in her first one-on-one interview since taking office, said homeless advocacy groups that receive funding from the city need to better educate the homeless to "clean up after themselves."

"I work hard to make sure your programs are funded for the purposes of trying to get these individuals help, and what I am asking you to do is work with your clients and ask them to at least have respect for the community — at least, clean up after themselves and show respect to one another and people in the neighborhood," Breed told the Investigative Unit, referencing her conversations with nonprofit groups aimed at serving the homeless.

When pressed about whether her plan calls for harsher penalties against those who litter or defecate on city streets, Breed said "I didn’t express anything about a penalty." Instead, the mayor said she has encouraged nonprofits "to talk to their clients, who, unfortunately, were mostly responsible for the conditions of our streets."

A recent NBC Bay Area investigation went viral after exposing an alarming amount of trash, drug needles, and feces scattered across San Francisco.

The report centered around a 153-block survey of downtown San Francisco, which revealed trash on every block, 100 needles, and more than 300 piles of feces along the 20-mile stretch of streets and sidewalks.

On Friday, two days after Breed's inauguration, the new mayor during an afternoon stroll saw firsthand the reality and challenges of the city. Video recorded by NBC Bay Area shows a man prepping a needle as Breed walked by....

"I will say there is more feces on the sidewalks than I’ve ever seen growing up here," Breed said. "That is a huge problem and we are not just talking about from dogs — we’re talking about from humans."

San Francisco is slated to spend nearly $280 million this year on housing and services for the homeless — a roughly 40 percent increase compared to just five years ago. Over that same span, however, the number of homeless in the city has largely remained the same at about 7,500 people, according to city counts....

San Francisco spent $65 million on street cleaning last year and plans to add nearly $13 million in additional spending over the next two years.

"I don’t think that the city is poorly spending what it already has," Breed said. "I spend a lot of time on Fillmore Street. I see the people who are part of a program, out there power washing. They’re out there doing what they can to keep the community clean, almost every day, and then right after they leave, maybe an hour or two later, the place is filled with trash again."
I'm going to go out on a limb here and say it's not an education problem. Rachel Alexander comments,
The problem arose because the government has looked the other way at the homeless for years. Instead of cleaning up homeless encampments, the city let them exist and expand until recently. The city has even encouraged the homeless to continue living this way by providing free needles for drugs. This mindset is all part of the Democrats’ nonjudgmental-ness.

And what’s happened to the “ticky-tacky” houses that “all just look the same,” so despised by Pete Seeger in the 1962 song “Little Boxes?” Despite the fact that many of the homes and apartments are small and located close together, San Francisco now has the highest rent in the world. The average monthly rent is $3,500. A median-priced home sells for $1.5 million, but only a paltry 12 percent of residents can afford this. Some people live in RVs because it is all they can afford. Residents are leaving the city in droves due to the high cost of housing. San Francisco lost more residents than any other U.S. city in the last quarter of 2017.

Onerous zoning regulations and building codes have increased the cost of housing. Height restrictions waste valuable space. In much of the city, it is illegal to build anything taller than 40 feet. One resident built a “pod” in his friend’s living room in order to obtain affordable rent, but the city found out and made him move out.

Due to the high cost of living, a family making $117,400 annually is considered “low income.” A family making $73,300 is “very low income.” The minimum wage is $15 an hour, but it’s not enough to rent a two-bedroom apartment. In order to live comfortably in San Francisco, an annual salary must be at least $110,000.

San Francisco ranks fifth in the world for worst traffic congestion. One commuter observed, “It’s almost unbearable. And it doesn’t matter what time of day or what day of the week. It’s just unbearable." Traffic during rush hour is even more congested than in Los Angeles.

Years of putting transportation dollars into mass transit instead of the highways has resulted in a lopsided situation for drivers. Democrats thought by neglecting the highways they could force people into mass transit, but like most Democrats’ delusional ideals it doesn’t work.

This doesn’t even touch on the permissiveness of the sanctuary city policy. There seems to be no end in sight to the misery as long as the Democratic machine stays in power. The flight out of the city is only going to accelerate. The differences between the haves in the red areas of the country and the have-nots in the blue areas like San Francisco will continue to widen.
If you had a business looking to relocate, is there any way that you would consider San Francisco? Not if you care about the standard of living for your employees. And if your company is already there, you got to be looking at the possibilities of moving.




Byron York points out
that just about everything that was in Mueller's indictment of Russian hackers was in the much derided House Intelligence Committee report led by Devin Nunes that was put out a few months ago.
That assessment was the House Intelligence Committee's "Report On Russian Active Measures," sent to the Intelligence Community on March 22 and released publicly in heavily-censored form on April 27. It laid out much of the information contained in Count One of the Mueller indictment, the heart of Mueller's case that 12 Russian military intelligence agents hacked Democratic Party computer systems and the Clinton campaign and then disseminated the stolen information.


Actually, it's a good question.

But Miss South Carolina isn't going to be sitting in the U.S. House of Representatives.

David Harsanyi adds
,
For one thing, there’s no such thing, nor has there ever been such a thing, as an Arab “Palestine.” There are a number of books Ocasio-Cortez could read about Arab history — or about the Turks or the Ottomans or the Jewish presence in Israel going back to 1500 BC, or even about situation that existed from 1947-1967 — but nowhere will she ever find a chapter on an independent Arab nation-state called “Palestine.” The idea itself is largely a post-World War II invention. You might hope that a Palestine will one day exist, but none has ever existed before.

Second, Ocasio-Cortez might not know this, but there are no “increasing settlements” in Gaza, the topic of the initial tweet Hoover was asking about, because there are no settlements in Gaza. In 2005, Israel conceded Gaza a large amount of autonomy, and with it the ability to conduct multi-party elections and live peacefully with its neighbors. In the process Israel dismantled all Israeli “settlements” in the Gaza Strip and expelled around 8,000 Jews who would have been massacred otherwise.

It’s debatable that Gaza can even be described as “occupied.” It was the Palestinians who decided to elect Hamas, and Hamas that decided to engage in the murder of its political opponents and then a suicidal struggle with Israel, rather than concern itself in any serious way with the humanitarian conditions of its own people.

Then again, maybe Ocasio-Cortez is just conflating Gaza with the West Bank, and believes in the ethnic cleansing of Jews from the latter area. Perhaps she believes, like Hamas, that Israel itself is a “settlement”? Ocasio-Cortez says she supports Israel’s “right to exist,” but perhaps one day she can clarify what that means to her.

Ocasio-Cortez might also be unaware that it’s not only Israel that implements sanctions against Gaza — because, after all, every time it loosens them, the first thing Hamas does is import weapons — but Egypt and the internationally recognized Palestinian authority of the West Bank. They all impose sanctions against Gaza because Gaza isn’t merely the home of a terror organization, it allies with other terror organizations around the world and Iran (but I repeat myself).

Worst of all, though, after admitting she really doesn’t know anything about the situation, Ocasio-Cortez still argues that what the IDF did to thousands of violent rioters, who attempted to bum rush the border and attack civilians on the other side, was no different than a domestic police force massacring peaceful protesters in the United States.
The lens through which I saw this incident as an activist, as an organizer — 60 people were killed in Ferguson, Missouri, 60 people were killed in the South Bronx, unarmed, 60 people were killed in Puerto Rico — I just look at that incident … just as an incident, and to me it would just be completely unacceptable if that happened on our shores.
We know that Hamas was using civilians as human shields and cannon fodder, and the resulting death tolls as propaganda. We know that many of the most dramatic instances of Israeli violence, including a young child dying at the riots, were more examples of Hamas playing the Western media. We know that at least 20 of those shot by IDF snipers were members of the military wing of Hamas, which is to say the terror wing.

The problem with seeing things through the lens of an “activist” or an “organizer” first is that you’re enticed to take positions that align with your preconceived ideological notions about oppression and “colonizers” rather than the facts. Then again, reflexively anti-Israel and anti-Semitic positions are becoming standard among the activist Left that Ocasio-Cortez aligns herself with. So it’s not really surprising to see socialists embrace it. But is it the future position of the Democratic Party?




Monday, July 16, 2018

Cruising the Web

Kevin Williamson has some perceptive things to say about judicial activism.
With the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, you’re probably going to be hearing a lot of dumb things from your left-leaning friends about judicial activism, the power of precedent, and constitutional rights. A few things you’ll want to keep in mind.

Overturning a law as unconstitutional isn’t “judicial activism.” Failing to adhere to a Supreme Court precedent isn’t judicial activism either. If the law is in fact unconstitutional — meaning in conflict with the actual text of the Constitution — then throwing it out is not judicial activism: It is the Court’s duty. Likewise, if a precedent has no basis in the Constitution, then overturning it is not judicial activism: It is the Court doing its job....

Likewise, there are many legal scholars — including pro-choice ones — who believe that Roe v. Wade was a bad decision, an embarrassing act of pure judicial activism in which the justices of the Supreme Court, led by Harry Blackmun, substituted their own moral preferences for the actual letter of the law. Until fairly recently, it was common for liberal lawyers and judges to acknowledge the defects of Roe — even Ruth Bader Ginsburg has criticized the decision. Don’t expect to hear very much of that intellectual honesty now, of course: Cowardice and conformism are the rule of the day.

Most critics of Roe hold that the Constitution is in fact silent on the question of abortion. Roe is based on an inferred right to privacy that appears nowhere in the actual text of the Constitution, a right that is, as currently construed, almost infinitely plastic. The same vague right to privacy that supports Roe could just as easily be used to nullify gun laws or business regulations. Even if you support abortion rights, you should consider the possibility that Roe has no real basis in the Constitution.

On the other hand, several of the recent Supreme Court decisions hated by the Left — especially Citizens United and Heller — are based on protections that are actually specified in the Bill of Rights. The First Amendment really does protect political speech, which is what Citizens United was about. The Second Amendment really does enshrine the right to keep and bear arms, which is what Heller was about. Maybe you think the Constitution should be amended to allow for stricter regulation of political speech or to restrict firearms ownership. That’s fine — and there is a process for amending the Constitution. But, for the moment, the Constitution says what it says.
So what then is judicial activism? As Williamson tells us, it's when judges substitute their preferences for what is actually in the Constitution or a law.
Which brings us to the question of what judicial activism actually is. Properly understood, the question of whether there should be a legal right to abortion is separate from the question of whether there actually is a legal right to abortion in the text of the Constitution. It is fanciful to believe that there was in fact a constitutional right to abortion lurking in the document for nearly 200 years, unnoticed by the men who wrote and ratified it, and then discovered by Justice Blackmun et al. Judicial activism is what happens when judges abuse the power entrusted to them, choosing to act as politicians making policy rather than as judges upholding the law even when they wish the law were other than what it is.

If the Constitution is silent on abortion, then abortion becomes — as it should be — a political question to be settled through democratic processes. States will debate and propose laws restricting abortion rights or protecting them, and Congress may consider legislation of its own. The people’s elected representatives will vote on the question. There will be compromises and, one hopes, an eventual consensus. That is how social questions of this sort are supposed to be sorted out, rather than through the fiat of nine black-robed academics empowered to impose their own will on the republic at large.

The definition of “unconstitutional” isn’t “I don’t like this, and I wish it were different.” The definition of “constitutional” isn’t “I like this and want to keep things this way,” either.
That all seems so clear, but having taught this subject for 16 years now, I know that students are just attracted to using the argument that times have changed and so our understanding of the Constitution should change.

This is the best and most succinct argument against judicial activism that I've ever seen.

And this guy went to law school and used to be his state's attorney general. Amazing.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo pledged to sue if the Supreme Court rolls back Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that made abortion legal nationwide.

Speaking to a crowd in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., on Wednesday, the Democrat said Republicans in control of the state Senate may soon lack an excuse for not codifying on the state level the protections underlined in Roe v. Wade and called on them to do so immediately.

"We now need to codify Roe v. Wade, which will actually increase the protections in New York," he said. "God forbid they do what they intend to do, which is overturn Roe v. Wade. I want to get it done before the Supreme Court does that, because I don't want any gap in a woman's right to protection, and we have a better legal case when the Supreme Court acts because I will sue when the Supreme Court acts."
I'm not sure whom he thinks he can sue if he doesn't like a Supreme Court decision. Witness how the pro-life side did not sue the Supreme Court after 1973. Instead they worked through the states to try to trim back the laws on abortion. You know - using political means to address a policy issue just like Cuomo wants to do to make sure that New York continues to allow abortions. That's what all the states would have to do if Roe were overturned. But there is no lawsuit involved. But Cuomo can go bloviate about bringing a lawsuit because he probably assumes that the audience he is targeting is just clueless and won't care that he's spouting nonsense. Sadly, he's probably right.


For all Trump's crassness in how he has handled NATO and his crude comments on America's relationship with Europe, he does have a point that it's about time that the European nations contributed more to this alliance. Michael Brendan Dougherty points out that the U.S. under Obama was making the same warning. This is not new, it's just being phrased in less than diplomatic language.
Now Gates’s prediction that patience would begin to run out is coming true, as President Donald Trump reams out the Europeans. Given the increasing exasperation of U.S. presidents, Europe should have anticipated this problem. First, the U.S. cajoled. Then, under Obama it began to warn. And now, under Trump, it bellows. The U.S. is letting Europe know that it can treat this partnership for what it’s worth.

It is time for Europe to grow up. Many of the criticisms their publics, their press, and their politicians throw at Trump and America have some merit. It’s true that Trump is undiplomatic and he can be obnoxious to allies. Many Europeans are currently advertising their revulsion at Trump’s family-separation and detention policies at the border. Those policies deserve criticism.

But, Europe is the continent whose migration policies have turned Libya into a smuggler’s paradise. It was European migration policies that tolerated the sordid Calais jungle. It was Europe that recently cut a deal with the petty tyrant Erdogan to keep migrants out. And it is Europe that is preparing to set up encampments outside its borders to deal with migrants. What do you think those will look like?
But it's so much easier to demonize the U.S. for our own problems in finding a humane way to deal with illegal immigration than to look in their own mirror.
The continent has real problems and real security challenges. It has real self-regard and sees its political union as a means of putting itself back at the center of the world’s affairs. But, in truth, it has almost no ability to project its power domestically, much less abroad. Only France seems able to maintain its sordid Africa policies.

Sometimes friendships turn toxic. And like anyone who has been enabled and enfeebled by a relationship, Europe is lashing out as it is discovering the truth about what the U.S. really thinks of it. Let it lash out for a bit. This is a partnership based on deep ties of history, civilization, and mutual interests, and one side of it really does have to grow up, and make decisions like an adult.

And while we all wish that Trump would talk differently about Putin and Russia's interference in our election, let's not pretend that Obama was some tower of strength versus Russia. Remember this is the guy who told Medvedev about the flexibility he would have after the 2012 election and ridiculed Romney's warnings about Russia being our number one geopolitical foe. Jimmy Quinn writes at NRO,
Now, whether it’s true that Russia is America’s No. 1 geopolitical foe can be debated — especially given China’s aggressive efforts to expand its reach through infrastructure projects around the world (though I would argue that Russia has taken a more active role in opposing the United States in international fora and on the geopolitical chess board). What’s clear, though, is that Barack Obama underestimated Vladimir Putin’s pretensions to imperial grandeur, hence his hot-mic moment with Medvedev in 2011: “I’ll have more flexibility after the election.”

Smug’s tweets, made partly in jest, remind us that under the previous administration, American policy towards Russia was so anemic as to enable Moscow’s meddling in Syria, Ukraine, and, eventually, the United States. In fairness to the previous administration, it’s not clear that a more assertive U.S. foreign policy would have dissuaded Putin from playing on the political fault lines that made the United States an appealing target. What is clear, though, is that Bashar al-Assad (and his friends in Moscow and Tehran) is close to winning the Syrian civil war, leaving a charnel house of a mess in his wake, and that Ukraine could have used anti-tank weapons years ago.

Some of the current president’s foreign-policy actions have disproved the previous administration’s dogmas in these areas. Punitive strikes against the Syrian regime for gassing children did not lead America toward Vietnamesque mission creep. Equipping the Ukrainians with lethal defensive aid (truth be told, Congress deserves credit for this, not the president) did not lead the United States down an escalatory spiral into war with Russia.

The absolute reversal of roles in party attitudes toward Russia, would have seemed impossible back in 2012, but the Democrats, four years after Obama won reelection, have started to see the light. Expressing concern about Russia’s influence, once unfathomable to progressives, seems to have found a resurgence in the new political context. Could it be that the furor over election interference has created a new generation of left-wing hawks? I’m doubtful. This is probably just rank political opportunism to take advantage of Donald Trump’s bizarre rhetoric on Russia, lacking sincere follow-through in terms of policy.

But as long as the Democrats want to play their faux anti-Russia game, we might as well hold them to a repudiation of Obama’s feckless policy of acquiescence and move them toward an embrace of assertive policies that hold Putin to account.
All that is true, but it would be nice if Trump could sometimes make his rhetoric on Putin and Russia indicate that Putin isn't "fine" as Trump said last week. Putin isn't fine. He's a vicious dictator who is killing his own people who criticize or oppose him. I wish that the administration would show one-half as much anger about Russian interference in our election as they do with CNN's biased reporting. As Matthew Continetti warns, I sure hope that Trump doesn't get suckered into some sort of deal with Putin.
The Russians look at ceasefires and arms control the way you and I look at dieting and nutrition: as pledges that work to one's advantage in the short term but are ineluctably broken. There is no reason to expect Russia has either the intent or even the capability to act on its promises of diplomatic comity. It's almost as if Russia can't help being the bully, especially in regions it considers important such as its near abroad and its beachhead in the Middle East, and especially when it senses an opportunity and feels emboldened. Which is how it feels right now.

No mystery why. Heading into next week's summit in Helsinki, President Trump has made plain his displeasure with NATO, his willingness to take the same personal tack with Putin ("Putin's fine. He's fine") that he did with Kim Jong-Un, his open-mindedness about the future of Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014 ("What will happen with Crimea from this point on? That I can't tell you"), and his desire ultimately to remove U.S. troops from eastern Syria.

The move for Putin is clear: trade assurances that Iranian forces will leave Syria in exchange for American withdrawal from same; or U.S. acknowledgment of Russian sovereignty over Crimea; or reduction in stepped-up NATO military exercises; or extension of the 2010 New START Treaty; or sanctions relief; or some combination thereof.

Such a deal might tempt the president. News of a diplomatic coup has the potential to bolster an approval rating that has been drifting down since early June. Success with Russia would draw attention away from North Korean backsliding and intransigence. And a breakthrough with Putin would allow Trump to say that his years of avoiding moralistic condemnations of the Russian leader have paid off. He'd be making a grand gesture on the world stage, while thinking of the Nobel Peace Prize.

But he would be wrong to make a deal with Putin, or agree to any concessions in which reciprocity is not verifiable, concrete, and upfront. What happened in Daraa was a classic lesson in Russian diplomacy: talk bigly and nicely, then wait for the democracies to look inward and become distracted before making your next advance on the ground.


Jonathan Turley takes a common-sensical, dispassionate approach
to the news of the indictments of Russian operatives hacking the Democrats in 2016. Basically, it wasn't all that much new and it still didn't indicate any known collusion by the Trump campaign.
As for the information shared by the Russian units, it is was rather underwhelming even to the recipients. For example, Guccifer 2.0 sends a Trump associate what is described as “the turnout model for the democrats entire presidential campaign.” The Russians were eager to help, even saying in similarly stilted language, “please tell me if i can help u anyhow … it would be a great pleasure to me.” However, the recipient simply responds that the information is “pretty standard.”

Indeed, much of this effort may have been much too “standard” for some of us to admit. The continued shock and revulsion expressed by many leaders at the thought of such interference is a tad forced. The United States has intervened in foreign elections for decades, including leaking stolen documents. Not long ago, our hacking of our own allies, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, was revealed. Many nations regularly try to influence elections and this is nothing new for the United States, either as the culprit or as the target of such efforts.

In other words, if there were a real hunt for election witches, we would find ourselves at the head of the line to the pillory.

Does that mean that the Mueller investigation is somehow invalid? Of course not. This remains an attack on our system, there is still work to be done, and we should all want the FBI to continue that work unimpeded.

With minutes of its release, the latest indictment was unrecognizable after being put through the centrifuge of the Washington spin machine. The fact is that the indictment largely confirmed what we knew. It shows an effort by the Russians to undermine Clinton and influence the election; it also shows no evidence of knowing collusion and, indeed, very limited evidence of unknowing collusion.

So, ignore the exclamations of “O Goody Ruskies.” We can be outraged by the Russian operation without being hypocrites as to our own history. Likewise, we can support the Mueller investigation without ignoring the fact that no credible evidence has thus far arisen against Trump on collusion.

In other words, if you want to find witches, start by not being chumps.


There are just so many delicious ironies in this story.
A California-based company that sells "Make America Great Again" hats similar to the official hats sold by the Trump campaign says its prices may rise in response to trade tensions with China prompted by President Trump's tariffs.

David Lassoff, who runs the company IncredibleGifts, told ABC News that prices of the hat could double from between $9 and $12 to at least $20 if he is forced to abandon his Chinese manufacturers and make the hats in the United States.

The hat, Lassoff said, is his website's best-selling item. He claims to have sold hundreds of thousands of the hat.

"We usually sell the MAGA hats for around $9 to $12. But it could go up to $20 if we had to make them in the U.S. and embroider them here," Lassoff said.


There was some gasps of outrage at the news last week that Elon Musk has donated to a PAC to elect Republicans this year. But that's what many rich people do - they donate to the party in power in order to try to get benefits. This is nothing out of the ordinary. And Musk's donations just follow his personal interests which is why he's donated to both parties.
Because Musk has become a constant fixture in the news cycle lately, his political contributors are A Thing, but it’s worth noting that he’s been giving to Republicans for years. According to data collected by Open Secrets, he’s put cash in the pockets of Republicans since 2003, when he gave $2,000 to George W. Bush during his re-election campaign. He also, at various points, put cash in the coffers of candidates like accused child sex abuser Dennis Hastert and Dana Rohrabacher, a man who believes it is okay to refuse to sell your home to a gay person. In total, he’s given about $300,000 to Republican candidates and PACs.

The thing is, over the same stretch of time Musk also gave a lot of money to Democrats. He backed John Kerry’s candidacy for president in 2004, gave to the Obama campaign in 2008 and 2012, and donated multiple times to Hilary Clinton’s presidential aspirations in 2008 and 2016. Per Open Secrets data, he gave nearly the same amount to Democratic causes between 2003 and 2018 as he did to Republican causes—at least prior to his latest round of political donations that focus primarily on Republican candidates and efforts.

Since this quarter’s generous donations to the Protect The House PAC surfaced, Musk has taken some heat for giving money to candidates who clearly do not align with some of his own personal views. For example, per Motherboard, Musk called burning fossil fuels “the dumbest experiment in history, by far.” Yet he’s giving money to a political party that generally denies the existence of climate change. Musk’s buddy Kevin McCarthy—who backed President Trump’s decision to pull out of the Paris Climate Agreement—is about as bad as it gets on the issue with just a three percent approval rate on environmental issues from the League of Conservation Voters.

That’s because whatever Musk’s personal ideology is, his political one is much simpler: Elon Musk gives money to whoever may benefit Elon Musk the most.

Republicans are currently in power, and his companies rely to varying degrees on government support. Tesla benefited from federal tax credits that could reach as high as $25,000 provided to buyers of electric cars (though that has now expired); SolarCity, now part of Tesla, is helped by a similar credit that allows homeowners to deduct 30 percent of the cost of solar panels; nearly half—more than $5 billion worth—of SpaceX contracts come from the federal government, per Real Clear Policy. At the risk of losing any of that business, it’s easier for Musk to kiss the ring than to take a stand—and business has been damn good for Musk under Trump and company.

Even on the occasions that Musk flexes some personal morality, it’s often motivated by what’s best for business. As The Ringer pointed out, he sat on a Trump advisory council for months, remaining on board even as Trump accused President Obama of wiretapping him, issued his first failed travel ban that targeted Muslims, and fired FBI director James Comey. He only departed when Trump decided to ditch the country’s commitment to the Paris climate accord—a set of standards that would benefit his companies that focus on alternative sources of energy.

Elon Musk’s political donations—like those from most billionaires in charge of massive corporations, even those in the ostensibly left-leaning Silicon Valley—are less partisan and more pragmatic, but that doesn’t make those contributions and the system of politics that encourage them any less cynical or gross.


Steven Greenhut looks at a dumb idea
out of California's legislature. I know this will shock you. Greenhut is writing about the heavy burdens that California places on people trying to earn a living, many of them low-income people who can't afford the education and certification requirements or exorbitant fees just to do a job that in former years people didn't need any sort of government imprimatur.
If you shampoo hair for pay at, say, elderly people's homes or at a salon—and haven't spent as much as $19,000 at a barbering and cosmetology school—then you are an outlaw. It's illegal to do so in California. The Board of Barbering and Cosmetology posts this Frequently Asked Question on its website: "I would like to hire a person for the sole purpose of shampooing or preparing consumers services; can I do this?" The answer: "No, only a licensed barber, cosmetologist or apprentice can wash a consumer's hair or prepare a consumer for services."

Did I mention that a shampooer needs 1,500 hours of training, whereas a first responder/emergency medical technician only needs 120 to 150 hours of training? The Morrell bill passed the full Senate with only two "no" votes, but was killed last week in the Assembly Business and Professions Committee on a 14-3 vote in spite of the fact that most of us have shampooed our own hair for years without calamity.

The hearing room was packed with students from local cosmetology schools. It should surprise no one that the main beneficiaries of the current rules are the schools that charge hefty tuitions for such training, nor should it be a surprise that the state bureaucracy (the Department of Consumer Affairs) estimated excessive fee-revenue losses if the bill became law. Those estimates are hard to fathom given how unimaginable it is that people currently go through the whole licensing rigmarole and then only use the degree mainly to shampoo and arrange hair.

But government agencies see any kind of minor regulatory rollbacks as a threat to their authority. There's always that fear of the slippery slope. There's also an economic term known as "regulatory capture." It's typical in all aspects of government for industries that are being regulated to dominate the agencies that do the regulating.
All those nice legislators who don't give a hoot about the little guy and just want to help out the schools that have probably been donating heavily to them. It reminds me of the absurd requirements that many states place on people to get certified to teach. The real beneficiaries of such requirements are the colleges that want to keep enrollment up in their education departments. I think people could learn enough to teach from a class or two on discipline and planning and then a semester or year as a student teacher. Most of the other stuff I had to take to be certified was pretty darn worthless. And just about all of it was taught by university professors who had never taught students below the college level. So I have great sympathy for these students at cosmetology schools who want some relief.


At least New Jersey is wising up to how stupid such policies are and how destructive they are of the hopes of low-income people to improve their lot.
Brigitte Nzali was stunned the first time she was slapped with a fine for braiding hair without a cosmetology license in her trendy salon in Blackwood, Camden County.

Why should she have to pay $18,000 to go to beauty school and spend 1,200 hours to learn a skill that’s steeped in African culture that requires little more than experienced, nimble fingers and a healthy dose of creativity?

“I learned how to do this from my mother. I was 11. It’s my culture. It’s my passion,” said Nzali, a stylish woman with eye-popping tresses who was born and raised in Cameroon and educated at the Sorbonne in Paris. “We don’t use any chemicals. It’s all natural, a very safe procedure.”

....Nzali can’t recall how much she’s been fined over the years, but after a few encounters with licensing agents, she decided to fight back. She spoke out against the legal requirements that tie braiders’ hands and helped persuade lawmakers to pass a bill last week — unanimously — that would free her and fellow braiders from having to obtain a state license.

Gov. Murphy is expected to sign the measure within 30 days. Twenty-five states have already enacted such an initiative, and Pennsylvania lawmakers are weighing similar action. In Pennsylvania, braiders must be licensed and must complete 2,000 hours of training in a beauty school, which covers a gamut of topics including hair styling and coloring.

In recent months, Nzali teamed up with the nonprofit Institute of Justice, which battles government overreach and abuse, and later joined with the conservative Americans for Prosperity, which also took up the cause and lobbied for a change in the law.
Why should this be a conservative issue? Don't liberals care about such individuals? Thankfully, some do.
Last week, lawmakers in Trenton voted unanimously in favor of the law change, which had been proposed by state Assemblywoman Angela McKnight, a Hudson County Democrat, in May.


Steven Hayward has a laugh at the "bright new future" of the Democratic Party - Democratic Socialism. Yeah, this is a platform to win the future.


This is a cool website looking at what percent of certain occupations are Republicans or Democrats. I'm not sure where they are getting the data from, but I don't find much surprising here.




























































Friday, July 13, 2018

Cruising the Web


The WSJ thinks
that Justice Alito's majority opinion in the recent Janus case has been vindicated. The majority ruled that public-sector unions' actions are inherently political so non-members shouldn't be forced to pay fees. The unions argued that they were mostly involved in collective bargaining and that wasn't political. But the American Federation of Teachers' recent actions at their annual convention demonstrate how political the union's ordinary actions are.
Most of the 90 some resolutions promote such progressive objectives as single-payer health care, free college and opposition to the Dakota Access pipeline. The union’s Berkeley affiliate wants President Trump’s “immediate resignation or removal.”

A resolution denounces Mondelez for moving Nabisco cookie production to Mexico and urges local affiliates to pressure “employers to sell or carry only Nabisco products made in free union workplaces in their schools and on their campuses.” Who knew cookies were a subject of collective bargaining?

Another resolution calls “on school districts, colleges and universities to offer their students diverse views about military service and the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, balancing arguments for military service and ROTC training with the arguments of critics of military service, including its health risks.” Another urges support for “anti-war groups.”

The model U.N. even advocates for the removal of the U.S.’s Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system in South Korea, which “enhances the effectiveness of a U.S. first strike with nuclear weapons by drastically weakening any nuclear retaliation by a potential target nation such as China or North Korea.”Prior to Janus, public unions could spend non-member agency fees—typically 60% to 80% of dues—on member communications, rallies and conventions under the pretext that these expenditures related to collective bargaining. But the AFT’s resolutions support Justice Samuel Alito’s majority opinion in Janus that nearly all public union spending is political, including their positions in collective bargaining.
It's hard to argue that these actions don't demonstrate political positions. That's fine, but people shouldn't be forced to subsidize those activities. As Bret Stephens writes about the history of the policies that the Democratic Socialists of America advocates.
The Democratic Socialists of America, of which Ocasio-Cortez is a member, believe in economies defined by state-owned enterprises and worker-owned cooperatives. Versions of this have been tried to varying degrees before: Israel in its first decades; post-independence India; Sweden in the 1960s and ’70s.

It always led to crisis: hyperinflation for Israel in 1980s; an I.M.F. bailout for India in 1991; a banking meltdown for Sweden in 1992. It’s usually a recipe for corruption: State-owned enterprises such as Pemex in Mexico or Eskom in South Africa are local bywords for graft and mismanagement. It frequently leads to dictatorship. Hugo Chávez was also a democratic socialist.

People used to know this stuff. That someone like Ocasio-Cortez apparently doesn’t is a fresh reminder that, in politics as in life, the most obvious lessons are the ones you can least afford to stop teaching.
And the desire of such socialists to have open borders immigration creates a toxic policy mix when combined with their desire to expand social welfare policies.
Today’s social democracy falls apart on the contradiction between advocating nearly unlimited government largess and nearly unlimited immigration. “Abolish ICE” is a proper rallying cry for hard-core libertarians and Davos globalists, not democratic socialists or social democrats. A federal job guarantee is an intriguing idea — assuming the jobs are for some defined “us” that doesn’t include every immigrant, asylum-seeker or undocumented worker.
Adopting such confused policies are going to create future difficulties for the Democrats.
It’s possible Democrats will surrender to the illusion that they can have both, puffing the sails of Ocasio-Cortez and her fellow travelers. But a Democratic Party seriously interested in defeating congressional Republicans in the fall and Trump in 2020 isn’t going to win by turning itself into a right-wing caricature of the left, complete with a smug embrace of whatever it conceives to be “socialism.”

If Trump is the new Nixon, the right way to oppose him isn’t to summon the ghost of George McGovern. Try some version of Bill Clinton (minus the grossness) for a change: working-class affect, middle-class politics, upper-class aspirations.

I’ve written elsewhere that a chief danger to democracy is a politics in which the center bends toward the fringe instead of the fringe bending toward the center. It’s the way Trump became president. But the antidote to one extreme isn’t another, and Democrats will only win once they reclaim the vital center of American politics.

The center is Dayton and Denver, not Berkeley and Burlington. The center is Harry Truman and Daniel Patrick Moynihan, not Eugene Debs and Michael Harrington. Democrats who want to win should know this.


As the Democratic Party seems to be absorbing more and more socialist positions. And this will have an effect on the party.
The media try to tell us that the Democratic Socialists aren't really communists. Unfortunately, they haven't checked in with the DSA.



Rich Lowry examines
the whole "Abolish ICE" movement. Those protesting against ICE don't seem to understand that we will need some sort of agency to police immigration to keep deport criminals. Or do they?
Given the enormous number of criminal illegal aliens — nearly 1 million — ICE has plenty of work. Almost all of its arrests and deportations are of people who have criminal convictions, have been charged with a crime, or have been ordered removed by a judge.

During the last few weeks of June, ICE served an arrest warrant on a Brazilian man facing sex charges in Massachusetts. He will be deported after his prosecution, and had entered the country illegally once before. It deported a Liberian national who served as a bodyguard for war criminal Charles Taylor. It removed an Ecuadorian man wanted for rape, an El Salvadoran national affiliated with MS-13, and an Irish member of the “Cock-Wall Gang,” and transferred custody of them to law enforcement in their home countries.

This is not exactly fodder for protest, or is it? An ICE action in Oakland, Calif., last year stirred up an immediate impromptu anti-ICE protest outside the house in question. It turns out that the agents were executing a search warrant related to a sex-trafficking investigation, which presumably even Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez would support.

Assuming that Democrats support this kind of enforcement, who would carry it out if not ICE? Going back to the pre-ICE status quo would mean reuniting all immigration functions in an agency like the INS housed at the Justice Department and directly under the control of none other than Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
I love all these efforts by the left to increase the power of the federal government which means giving more power to the Trump administration. So all the Democrats have is a plan to abolish ICE and then figure things out later. Yeah, like that worked so well when Republicans said we should get rid of Obamacare and then didn't have any plan they agreed on.
One way to ramp up enforcement without increasing deportations would be an E-Verify system that required employers to reliably verify the legal status of workers — but Democrats oppose that, too.

“Abolish ICE,” whatever its power as a slogan on the left, is almost surely bad politics. It’s as if during the ferment over Black Lives Matter, Democrats came out for abolishing police departments and starting over — consequences be damned.
Given how many Democrats, particularly those running for the presidency in 2020 are in favor of abolishing ICE, this should be fun.
House Republican leadership said Thursday that they will bring Democrats’ new, controversial bill to abolish U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to the floor for a vote.

The legislation, introduced by Progressive Caucus leader Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI), would “convene a commission of experts to provide a roadmap for Congress to implement a humane immigration enforcement system that upholds the dignity of all individuals, which includes terminating the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) within one year of enactment.”

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) is reportedly planning to bring the bill up for a vote.

“Democrats have been trying to make July 4th about abolishing ICE which is a radical, extreme position that would lead to open borders and undermine America's national security,” House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) told The Hill. “I think it's the wrong approach. I think everyone ought to be on record about where they stand on that issue.”
It should be illuminating to get everyone on the record. This is a good wedge issue for Republicans.

UPDATE: Democrats who called for abolishing ICE are now extremely ticked off that the Republicans are actually going to introduce their bill for a vote. How dare they! So they've figured out how to get back at those eeeevil Republicans - they'll vote against their own bill! There! That'll show them.
Three Democratic congressmen declared on Thursday that they will vote “no” on their own legislation if House Speaker Paul Ryan puts their bill on the floor.

Reps. Mark Pocan of Wisconsin, Pramila Jayapal of Washington and Adriano Espaillat of New York introduced the Establishing a Humane Immigration Enforcement Act earlier Thursday, which would abolish ICE within one year of enactment, and also assemble a commission tasked with setting up a new immigration enforcement agency.

Hours later, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy announced he planned to bring the proposed “Abolish ICE” bill to the floor, reported The Hill.

The three congressmen promptly released a joint statement accusing Ryan of not taking their bill seriously, and as an act of protest, they will vote down their own legislation and instead use the opportunity to discuss Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, President Donald Trump’s zero-tolerance immigration policy and ICE.


The millennial generation is in for quite a painful collision with reality one day.
About half of young people between the ages of 21 and 37 anticipate being millionaires some day — despite having a collective and crippling $1 trillion in student loan, credit card and other debt hanging over their heads, according to new report from brokerage firm TD Ameritrade.

The survey asked around 1,500 American millennials at what age they thought they’d hit millionaire status. And 53% believe they will become millionaires in their lifetimes, with 7% expecting it to happen by age 30; 19% predicted age 40; 16% said age 50 and 7% of people thought they’d be millionaires by 60 or later. What’s more, 4% of respondents were already millionaires.

This economic optimism is surprising, considering nearly one in five (17%) of these young adults haven’t even achieved financial independence from their parents yet, according to the survey. And the zealous planning to attain seven figures by age 30 seems like a stretch, since the same findings show that millennials don’t even plan to start saving for retirement until age 36; more than a decade, typically, after getting their first job.
No wonder this generation tends to be so clueless when it comes to public policy. If they lack realistic understanding of their own personal finances.


Ed Whelan has an interesting tweet thread
stemming from the observation that Judge Kavanaugh has not only had more female clerks, he's also had quite a few minority clerks. He contrasts that with Ruth Bader Ginsburg who, as a district court judge had never had any black employees. And as a Supreme Court justice has only had one black law clerk.


However, Ginsburg is someone who believes that judges should use disparate impact to judge whether or not a policy is discriminatory toward minorities. If only leftists would remember this sort of thing when they are pushing affirmative action policies.





What a surprise - the moral posturing that Starbucks has recently done with banning plastic straws actually isn't using less plastic than their solution.
The coffee giant says that by 2020 it hopes to have eliminated all single-use plastic straws at its 28,000 stores worldwide. It will now top all its cold drinks with fancy new strawless lids that the company currently serves with its cold brew nitro coffees. (Frappuccinos will still be served with a compostable or paper straw.)

As is to be expected, Starbucks' decision was greeted with universal adulation.

The World Wildlife Fund and Ocean Conservancy both provided ebullient quotes for Starbucks' press releases. Liberal magazine The New Republic praised the move as an "environmental milestone." Slate hailed the Starbucks straw ban as evidence of as a victory for a bona fide anti-straw movement, one that would hopefully lead to bans of more things plastic in years to come.

Yet missing from this fanfare was the inconvenient fact that by ditching plastic straws, Starbucks' will actually be increasing its plastic use. As it turns out, the new nitro lids that Starbucks is leaning on to replace straws are made up of more plastic than the company's current lid/straw combination.

Right now, Starbucks patrons are topping most of their cold drinks with either 3.23 grams or 3.55 grams of plastic product, depending on whether they pair their lid with a small or large straw. The new nitro lids meanwhile weigh either 3.55 or 4.11 grams, depending again on lid size.

(I got these results by measuring Starbucks' plastic straws and lids on two seperate scales, both of which gave me the same results.)

This means customers are at best breaking even under Starbucks' strawless scheme, or they are adding between .32 and .88 grams to their plastic consumption per drink. Given that customers are going to use a mix of the larger and smaller nitro lids, Starbucks' plastic consumption is bound to increase, although it's anybody's guess as to how much.

In response to questions about whether their strawless move will increase the company's plastic consumption, a Starbucks spokesperson told Reason "the introduction of our strawless lid as the standard for non-blended beverages by 2020 allows us to significantly reduce the number of straws and non-recyclable plastic" as the new lids are recyclable, while the plastic straws the company currently uses are not.

This is cold comfort given the fact that even most of the stuff that is put in recycling bins still winds up at the dump. The company did not address, nor did it dispute, that its transition to strawless lids would increase its overall plastic consumption.

The weight of plastic—not the raw number of plastic objects used, or whether those objects are recyclable or not—is what should really concern environmentalists.

Pictures of turtles with straws up their noses are certainly jarring. However most plastic, whatever form it enters the ocean as, will eventually be broken up into much smaller pieces known as micro-plastics. It is these micro-plastics that form those giant ocean garbage patches, pile up on the ocean floor, and leech into the stomachs and flesh of sea creatures.

Reducing the amount of micro-plastics in the ocean thus requires cutting down on the aggregate weight of plastics entering the ocean each year. It cannot be stressed enough that straws, by weight, are a tiny portion of this plastic.

At most, straws account for about 2,000 tons of the 9 million tons of plastic that are estimated to enter the ocean each year, according to the Associated Press; or, .02 percent of all plastic waste. The pollution problem posed by straws looks even smaller when considering that the United States is responsible for about one percent of plastic waste entering the oceans, with straws being a smaller percentage still.


This is a great example about how employment regulations are keeping energetic, ambitious, entrepreneurial individuals from opening their own businesses. A commenter at Ricochet who writes under the appropriate nickname of "Dr. Bastiat," tells of talking to the woman cutting his hair at Sports Clips and what she told him about the difficulties she and her husband faced trying to open up their own businesses.
Kaitlyn (not her real name) just moved here from Georgia. Her husband is an auto mechanic. “He can fix anything with four wheels! Well, except my car – it runs like crap!” She went on at some length about how good he was at fixing things. His plan was to start his own shop once they moved here. They moved into a double-wide trailer that had a nice pole barn out back, which he planned to outfit with electric and a high-end air compressor, maybe even a grease pit, and start his own business.

He spent almost a year working on permits, licenses, inspections, and so on. He spoke to people from the county, city, state, feds, and the EPA. He talked to attorneys, accountants, and consultants to help wade through all the red tape. After about a year, he realized that the start-up costs were more than he was willing to gamble on the eventual success of a business that did not yet exist, so he got a job with the city, maintaining their trucks and mowing equipment. It doesn’t pay very well, but it has good benefits. It’s not a bad job, she says. Nothing to complain about. Everything is ok.

Kaitlyn did a great job on my hair, was very pleasant and personable, and is clearly very intelligent. She said that a few miles from their house, a barber recently retired. She considered buying his shop. She’s always dreamed of owning her own business. She said that’s the whole reason she went to cosmetology school. I said that sounded great – the shop is already set up, it has a large group of established customers, and she could expand from there.

She said that she spent several months looking into it, but she would need permits, licenses, inspections, and so on. I pointed out that it has been a barber’s shop for years, so the inspections, permits, and so on would already be done. She said that it would be a new business, and she would have to pay for all that to be done over again. She spoke with attorneys, accountants, and consultants to help wade through all the red tape – some of the same individuals that her husband had just consulted. She soon realized that the start-up costs were more than she was willing to gamble, so she got a job with a chain. The pay is not very good, and the benefits are lousy.
Both individuals display all the characteristics that should lead to success, but they're blocked by all the government red tape involved in trying to open up a new business. What do all these regulations do to protect the public from a mechanic or barber? If they aren't any good, people won't patronize their businesses. But they don't even have a chance to get started. How many people with an entrepreneurial spirit are blocked by such regulations?

This is where the great French 19th century economist Frédéric Bastiat comes in.
My Uncle Fred (Frederic Bastiat) described this as the seen versus the unseen. Progressives win elections because the benefits they provide are immediate and obvious. They give people free money with taxpayer dollars, or build highways with taxpayer dollars, or start new general assistance programs with taxpayer dollars. They’re working for you, and anyone with eyes can see it. The benefits provided by progressives are seen.

But the damage they cause is mostly unseen. In 30 years, Kaitlyn and her husband could have retired to a very nice community on the Gulf Coast and played golf for the rest of their lives. But they won’t. She’ll still be cutting hair for $12 an hour plus tips, and he’ll still be fixing lawn mowers for the city. Just like they are now.

They didn’t lose a fortune, because they never had the opportunity to earn one. Nothing happened. There they sit. And there they’ll stay.

Progressives may think they’re utopians who dream of a better tomorrow. But, in reality, they are the robotic defenders of the status quo. Everything stays the same because nothing happens. And when things don’t happen, those things don’t make the evening news. They didn’t happen at all, so there’s nothing to complain about. Everything is basically ok. And that’s the way it will stay.


Mitch McConnell is having a lot fun with the media and Democrats' flailing criticisms of Kavanaugh.