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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Cruising the Web

Well, those are depressing results. I have that same sense of just not recognizing my country as when people were going bananas over Barack Obama in 2008. But I could better understand how people were deceived by what he was saying and not understanding who he truly was given how the media portrayed him as this enlightened savior who would save us from the taint of racial prejudice and partisan divide. I knew it was hooey back then and so it has proven to be. But Donald Trump? I can read all the analyses about how people are angry and admire him for being strong and speaking out on what they believe. But he so clearly is a Johnny-come-lately to those beliefs. And his whole demeanor is so off-putting and his concept of what it would take to govern is so idiotic, yet people seem to buy the entire shtick. I just find it very depressing.

John Kasich was able to camp out in New Hampshire much the same way almost the way that Jimmy Carter camped out in Iowa in 1976. He was able to appeal to independents and to skate above the fray because his opponents didn't seem to realize that he was surging and so they didn't attack him. They were all too focused on attacking Rubio. Well, that worked out in bringing down Rubio, but it didn't help Christie; it just left a path for Kasich to win second. But he doesn't have much of an operation outside of New Hampshire and now he has to go into the South where he won't be able to use independents. Maybe he'll attract some of the donor class money that was betting on Rubio as the most electable. But his opponents will make sure that he'll now have to answer for how he instituted Medicaid expansion in his state by going around his legislature. And just talking about how he'll be able to go through the Pearly Gates and those who oppose Medicaid expansion won't will not, I expect, sell all that well in the South. Jay Cost argues that Kasich could maybe lose in the South and still put together wins in the northern states, particularly the ones that go on March 15 when the primaries are winner-take-all.
It's a highly unlikely angle. He will probably struggle to raise the funds he'll need. But if he holds on somehow, while Rubio and Bush pummel each other to pieces, and the party is staring at either Trump or Cruz, the money might swing to Kasich.

Isn't the Kasich case at least as persuasive the Bush case? Bush has spent tens of millions of dollars, only to finish less than one point better than Kasich in Iowa, and four or five points worse than Kasich in New Hampshire. The only thing Bush has going for him is money—but money runs out.

The Bush team is surely satisfied to have defeated Rubio tonight, but the obsession with the junior senator from Florida masks a glaring weakness so far exhibited across the two states, and indeed the national polls: Republican voters so far do not seem willing to give him a serious look. If Rubio fails to right the ship, and Bush continues to struggle, why can't the money go to Kasich eventually? And if the money goes to him, why can't the votes?
It's the path that Rubio was hoping to take, but now faces more barriers than he anticipated having. Perhaps Kasich could swing into the lead in that so-called establishment lane.

Jeb Bush lives to fight another day. Perhaps he's recovered his stride and his brother's and Lindsay Graham campaigning for him in South Carolina will help him there. I don't see it, but I've given up having any sense of what Republican voters want. I think the real victor in the GOP race other than Trump was Cruz who certainly beat expectations that he couldn't finish in the top three in New Hampshire. Perhaps he got some of the libertarian support that Rand Paul would have garnered if he were still in. And he probably also benefited from Rubio's fall. He hardly campaigned in New Hampshire and spent only $600,000 compared to the $36 million that Bush and his super PAC spent and the $15 million that Rubio spent. Bush can be happy that he is not dead yet, but will he be able to do better than fourth place? I don't think so. And remember that Bush was predicting for a long time that he was going to win there.

I don't know if Rubio can recover. His speech struck the right tone of humility and determination, but we'll see if the bell can be unrung on that debate performance. My feeling was that the performance wouldn't matter as much as weeks passed if he can dispel the accusations of being robotic. There's actually another debate on Saturday night in South Carolina. He'll have a chance to demonstrate that last Saturday's debate was an anomaly. We'll see if he can do it. And we'll see if Christie is still in the race but he, at least won't qualify to be in the SC debate which will feature only the top five candidates from New Hampshire as well as the top three From Iowa and the top five in the average of national polls. As Roger Simon writes, "Karma's a bitch." Simon recounts observing Rubio in some private moments with his kids and at a hotel in New Hampshire and concludes that "Marco Rubio is a helluva nice guy." Well, we all know where nice guys finish in politics.

Or will Bush and Cruz pick up the slack? It seems that the Rubio and Bush campaigns are ready to attack each other in a bloodbath in South Carolina. That may just help Cruz there. Maybe the support of Tim Scott and Trey Gowdy will help him in South Carolina but he'll have to dispel the sense that his moment may just have passed.

And with Cruz, Bush, Kasich, and Rubio battling it out, Trump will float above it all like the bloviating buffoon that he is.

I'm used to voting for the candidate whom I dislike the least. Never have I felt that so keenly as I do this year.

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I feel so depressed over the state of the Republican race that I can't even fully enjoy the schadenfreude of Hillary's humiliation. But it is delicious to see her dishonesty finally bringing her down. And she brought it all on herself. She's the one who decided that she needed a private server to keep her emails secret from FOIA requests. She's the one who, with her husband, focused so much on making money that they ignored how it would look to get huge speaking fees from Wall Street firms or companies and countries who had business before the State Department. The chickens that are coming home to roost could fill the KFC daily supply.

And now they head into the South where the last card Hillary has to play against Bernie is the race card since that whole gender unity doesn't seem to have worked for her. Politico examines how the Democratic primary is "about to get racial."
If Sanders is truly going to become a Barack Obama-style Clinton-slayer of 2016, he knows he’s going to need to start racking up Obama-level support among non-white voters, and quickly, because the Democratic primary is about to come down to race.

The Sanders campaign understands this, which is why the first campaign stop after his blowout victory in New Hampshire is a breakfast meeting Wednesday with the Rev. Al Sharpton in Harlem’s iconic Sylvia’s restaurant.
Sanders, who represents the overwhelmingly white state of Vermont in the Senate, has yet to prove he has the ability to win minority voters -- a critical component of the Democratic Party coalition. He’s said he’s confident non-white voters would come to him once they heard his message -- and aides consistently repeat that claim – but his close defeat in Iowa and landslide win New Hampshire, two states that are just as white as Vermont, haven’t answered any of the questions.

The next two early states to vote, Nevada and South Carolina, have much larger Latino and African American populations, which means he no longer has the luxury of appealing to his base of white liberals.

“He can’t get there from here. She can win with everything he’s got,” said Joe Trippi, who faced a similar problem when he was trying to figure out the math for the 2004 campaign of Howard Dean, another Vermont liberal popular among white progressives, but one who didn’t have a primary opponent with the kind of strength among African-Americans and other minority voters that Clinton’s shown in 2008 and so far in this race.

“Once you leave New Hampshire, the Democratic Party is 44 percent non-white,” Trippi said. “What Iowa should have told everybody is that they’re probably going to dead heat each other among the 56 percent of white Democrats—and that’s probably being generous to him, because of all the conservative and moderate white Democrats elsewhere around the country.”
Ugh. If we thought the way that Hillary tried to shame women into voting for her, wait to see two old white candidates pandering to minorities.

This whole race is going to get a whole lot uglier before we achieve any clarity. And I anticipate more days where I feel as depressed about our political system as I do today.

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Cruising the Web

Now that we've absorbed how awful Rubio looked when he kept repeating his line during the debate that Obama knows exactly what he was doing, it is worthwhile to consider whether Rubio's actual point is correct. I thought it was; Rubio's mistake was to keep repeating it instead of moving on to other reasons why he is qualified to be president. But the argument that the problem with Obama was not that he was inexperienced, but what he believed and went on to accomplish as president. Andrew McCarthy has reflected on that point and has reconsidered that Rubio's point is correct.
Christie contends that the Obama who ran for president in 2008 was an unaccomplished, hyper-programmed, first-term senator who was utterly unprepared to be president. That, according to Christie, has caused seven years of amateur-hour governance. To elect Rubio, he thus concludes, would be to invite another disastrous presidency led by an untested young man who would be in way over his head.

This analogy to Obama, rather than Rubio’s own alleged failings, was the part of Christie’s case that Rubio seized on. To some extent, this is understandable: Rubio is on surer footing talking about Obama than about his own record of accomplishment, the best known aspect of which is pushing through the senate, in collusion with Obama, a bipartisan immigration bill that is anathema to the GOP base (but, by the way, would have been fine with GOP “moderates” like Christie).

Yet Rubio also had an important point: Christie’s premise is dead wrong. Obama has not steered the Titanic into an iceberg because he is an unprepared, untested amateur. He has done it quite deliberately, at times masterfully, because Obama believes in the policies that constitute the iceberg. He is a movement leftist with a transformational agenda and an Alinskyite’s understanding of the extortionate uses of power. Authoritarian rule, government-controlled health care, open borders, runaway spending, Islamist sympathies, crony-capitalist green energy – these are not initiatives Obama stumbled into because he was unprepared. Obama has studiously taken the country where he wants it to go. And he has rolled over the old experienced hands to do it – so much for amateur hour.
McCarthy goes on to criticize Christie's record as governor and then to argue that the President has accomplished Obama's own goals when he pushed through Obamacare, the stimulus, Dodd Frank, and the Iran deal.

And, fortunately for Marco Rubio, Rush Limbaugh spent a good part of his show defending Rubio's point and praising him for seeing Obama as he is and saying that Obama knows what he's doing.
Rubio's point, no, no, no, no, no. Obama's not incompetent. He's not inexperienced. He's doing exactly what he wants to do. And none of these Republican moderates will go there. You want to know why? You want to know why? You want to know why they cannot agree that Obama's doing this on purpose? Very simple. They cannot agree that Obama's doing it on purpose. They do not dare say that Obama's doing it on purpose because they have all worked with Barack Obama, in one way or another, every one of these governors, many of them, and even a lot of Republicans in the House and Senate have worked with Obama to advance certain elements of the agenda.

We've worked with Obama on the spending bills. We have worked with Obama, or we want to, on amnesty and immigration. There are some on the Republican side who want to work with Obama when it comes to issues on the so-called War on Women. But when you have worked with Obama, when you have asked Obama to come to your state, and when you have embraced Obama and done everything you can to get assistance from Obama, well, you can't turn around and then say Obama is purposefully trying to transform the country 'cause that makes you look like an idiot.
Hmmm. Which governor has embraced and Obama and "done everything you can to get assistance from Obama"? I'm not sure that I buy that the governors want to paint Obama as incompetent so they can hide their cooperation with him. I think they're just saying it as a proxy for attacking the inexperience of Rubio and Cruz.

I'm not sure how many people still get their opinions from Rush Limbaugh and if he has a big audience in New Hampshire, but his defense of Rubio for the second time in a week has to be the best news that Rubio has had since Saturday's debate.

Meanwhile, Mark Levin spent a lot of his show ridiculing Chris Christie. First he demonstrates how Christie repeats his one-liners over and over just as he accused Rubio of doing. Not that that is unexpected. These guys are giving their standard speech over and over. Of course, they're repeating the same lines. Then Levin blasts Christie's record in New Jersey. And he points out that Christie is more liberal than Rubio, especially on amnesty and gun control.

Marc Thiessen points
out how "scripted" Chris Christie is. He also repeated himself in the debate and repeated lines from his stump speech. They all do it. And why shouldn't they? Not everyone hears their stump speech. And if the speech is their best argument why people should vote for them, why shouldn't they use it?
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Who are you calling scripted, Gov. Christie?
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New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie speaks at a campaign town hall meeting in Hampton, N.H., on Sunday. (Katherine Taylor/European Pressphoto Agency)

By Marc A. Thiessen February 8 at 9:47 AM

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie pummeled Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) for being overly scripted during the New Hampshire debate, pouncing when Rubio, for the third time, repeated his stock line that President “Obama knows exactly what he is doing” by moving the country to the left. “There it is, there it is,” Christie declared. “The memorized 25-second speech. There it is, everybody!”

It’s the moment everyone is talking about. But there is one small problem. While Christie attacked Rubio for using memorized, scripted lines, the governor used his own memorized, scripted lines during the very same debate.

Marc Thiessen writes a weekly column for The Post on foreign and domestic policy and contributes to the PostPartisan blog. He is a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. View Archive
When asked about the problem of drug addiction in New Hampshire, Christie gave an impassioned answer: “I’m pro-life,” he declared, “and I’m pro-life not just for the nine months in the womb, I’m pro-life for when they get out and it’s a lot more complicated. Sixteen-year-old, heroin-addicted drug girl on the floor of the county lockup, I’m pro-life for her life. . . . Every one of those lives is an individual gift from God.”

It was a moving statement — and it was taken almost verbatim from a speech he gave in October at Shooter’s Tavern in Belmont, N.H. “I’m pro-life,” Christie said back then, “and I think that if you’re pro-life, you’ve got to be pro-life for the whole life, not just for the nine months they’re in the womb. . . . But when they get out, that’s when it gets tough. The 16-year-old girl on the floor of the county lockup addicted to heroin, I’m pro-life for her, too. Her life is just as much a precious gift from God as the one in the womb.”

There it is, everybody: Rubio was not the only candidate on the debate stage with a “canned speech that he’s memorized.”

Christie has also used some version of the same line contrasting his executive experience with Rubio’s alleged inexperience as a legislator in each of the past four debates. In New Hampshire, Christie declared, “This is the difference between being a governor who actually has to be responsible for problems” and then a few moments later repeated “When you’re a governor, you have to take responsibility . . . We have to take responsibility as executives.” Christie used the same construct in the Iowa debate (“That’s the difference between being a governor . . . and being someone who has never had to be responsible for any of those decisions”) . . . the South Carolina debate (“this is the difference between being a governor and a senator. See, when you’re a senator, what you get to do is just talk and talk and talk . . . When you’re a governor, you’re held accountable for everything you do”) . . . and the Nevada debate (“This is a difference between being a governor and being in a legislature . . . You have to be responsible and accountable”).

Let’s be clear: There’s nothing wrong with any of this. Every politician has a “stump speech” he or she repeats over and over on the campaign trail. Every politician uses language from his or her stump speech in the debates. And every politician repeats the best lines over and over and over. It’s called message discipline. It’s how elections are won.

And, by the way, Christie and Rubio were not the only ones up on stage practicing message discipline Saturday night. In a December speech in Nashville, Ted Cruz railed against what he called “bipartisan corruption” of career politicians in Washington. In Saturday’s debate, he told New Hampshire voters “I will always stand with the American people against the bipartisan corruption of Washington.” In his closing statement in the first GOP debate, Donald Trump declared: “The country is serious trouble. We don’t win anymore.” In his closing statement at Saturday’s New Hampshire debate, Trump told us (for the gazillionth time) “Our country that we love so much doesn’t win anymore. . . . If I’m elected president, we will win, and we will win, and we will win.”

It should be no great revelation that all of the candidates have a core message they are trying to get across and well-rehearsed lines to make their point. Trump wants you to know he’s going to make America great again. Cruz wants you to know he will take on the Washington establishment. Christie wants you to know that he has executive experience. And Rubio wants you to know that he is the best candidate to take on Hillary Clinton and replace Obama.

So the idea that Christie had some great “gotcha” moment catching Rubio repeating “scripted” lines is absurd. Everyone uses a campaign script in presidential debates — including, it seems, a certain governor from New Jersey.
One of my readers in the comments pointed to this post by Neo-Neocon that looks at the actual transcript of the Rubio-Christie exchange. And her point is that it reads a lot differently than it seemed listening and watching it.
Strangely enough, when I actually went back to the transcript of the debate (something very few people seem to have done), I was very surprised to find that Christie was startlingly wrong. What’s more, Christie was repeatedly ignoring Rubio’s main point and repeating his own flawed premise. Rubio was repeating himself in response because Christie kept restating the error.

When people (and that most definitely included me) listened to the debate, they didn’t catch it. It happens fast, and you have to be tracking the back-and-forth very very carefully. But going back to the transcript and reading closely, I found it fairly clear.

Unfortunately, because of Christie’s emphasis on Rubio’s repetition (as though that has any deep meaning), Rubio’s point got lost. Rubio would have done well to have specifically said something like “You keep repeating your error and that’s why I’m repeating my answer,” but that was his biggest failure, and it was rhetorical.

Those who believe that it was Christie who had a good night must believe it’s true that Obama is a bad president because of inexperience, because that was Christie’s position. In other words, Christie’s answer to the “knave or fool?” question for Obama is: fool.

That, IMHO, makes Christie a fool about the biggest question of Obama’s presidency, and in addition a fool about the danger the left presents. Rubio was trying to say that. Too bad Christie’s belittling of Rubio’s method of saying it fooled so many listeners.

I wonder: would people have liked it better if Rubio had just let the analogy of his inexperience with Obama’s inexperience—and the idea that that’s the source of Obama’s “errors”—stand? Or would it have been better if, instead of saying “Obama knows exactly what he’s doing” several times, Rubio had said “Obama is aware is the meaning and consequences of his own actions, and is therefore culpable rather than incompetent?” Yes, Rubio repeated himself for emphasis, but he also said plenty of other things that evening (and elsewhere) that weren’t in his stump speech. And of course Christie, and the others, repeat themselves all the time.
She adds something I had noticed but been too lazy to look up the transcript to check. Christie ignored Rubio's attacks on him and basically let those stand while pontificating about Washington politicians.
(2) Christie had no answer to Rubio’s charge about his snow removal faux pas (and it was Christie who cited snow removal as some sort of experience relevant to the presidency, which it is not)
(3) Christie had no answer to Rubio’s charge about Christie’s budget failings.

Actually, of Rubio’s three points, Christie only even attempted to answer one—the snow removal charge. And he did so ineffectively.]
I think the debate will depress Rubio's total today. It hurts him that it took place so close to the voting and that so much of the commentary was devoted to that moment rather than any other topic. And the media all bought into the same interpretation so it got repeated over and over how robotic Rubio seemed instead of a discussion of his actual point. If the vote were next week, I think this would have all blown over by then. So, we'll have to wait until tonight to see if Dixville Notch's vote for Kasich presaged anything or nothing.

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James Taranto explains why younger women are not so impressed with the opportunity to vote for Hillary Clinton to be the first woman president. Hillary Clinton wants young women to realize that the struggle for women is not over.
Whether or not the “struggle” is “over,” it is surely far less arduous today than when Mrs. Clinton completed her bachelor’s degree in 1969. Women today attend and finish college in considerably greater numbers than men, and many of them go on to hold high positions in business, politics and other institutions. Thirty years ago, for example, the Democratic caucus in the U.S. Senate was all-male; today, it is one-quarter female.

In addition, consider the example the Democratic Party set for young women in 2008. Then as now, Mrs. Clinton entered the race as the inevitable nominee. But she lost to a younger man with superior political skills. Mrs. Clinton and her supporters (except a few die-hards who called themselves PUMAs, an acronym for “Party Unity My Ass”) accepted the result and united behind Barack Obama and his male running mate.

Then John McCain put a woman on the Republican ticket, a first for either party since Geraldine Ferraro in 1984. Democrats reasonably enough viewed Sarah Palin as a threat, to which they responded by attacking her viciously, often in ways they would have denounced as sexist had the target been a liberal woman.

Are women who supported Obama over Mrs. Clinton and Obama-Biden over McCain-Palin going to hell? We don’t recall Albright having said so. The Democratic Party as a whole behaved in 2008 exactly the way older feminists are faulting young female Democrats for behaving today: It prioritized ideology and party over the advancement of individual women.

To our mind it is the behavior of older liberal women that begs to be explained. It’s understandable that they’d like to see a woman become president, and even more understandable that they want it to be someone like-minded as opposed to, say, Carly Fiorina or Sarah Palin. But at a time when there is no shortage of capable Democratic women who hold or have held high office, why does it have to be Mrs. Clinton?

Perhaps the answer can be found in the compromises that older Democratic women made to protect Bill Clinton. In January 1998, when Mr. Clinton’s sexual relationship with White House intern Monica Lewinsky was first revealed, then-Secretary of State Albright announced after a cabinet meeting: “I believe the allegations are completely untrue.” When they turned out to be completely true, “I clearly was deeply disappointed, personally,” Albright told PBS’s “Frontline.” But she remained in his cabinet until the end of his term in 2001.

When Kathleen Willey accused Mr. Clinton of sexual assault, Steinem wrote a New York Times op-ed—it seems to have vanished from the Times website but was picked up elsewhere, including in the Philadelphia Inquirer—minimizing the charges, along with Paula Jones’s sexual-harassment claim:

The truth is that even if the allegations are true, the president is not guilty of sexual harassment. He is accused of having made a gross, dumb and reckless pass at a supporter. She pushed him away, she said, and it never happened again. She went to see him three more times in the same private setting without any repeat of unwelcome behavior.
In her original story, [Paula] Jones essentially said the same thing. She went to then-Gov. Clinton’s hotel room, where she said he asked her to perform oral sex. She refused, and even she claims he said something like, “Well, I don’t want to make you do anything you don’t want to do.”

Her lawyers now allege that, as a result of the incident, Jones was slighted in her job as a state employee and even suffered long-lasting psychological damage. But there appears to be little evidence to support those accusations.
Jones actually said Mr. Clinton dropped his pants and ordered her: “Kiss it.” And in a line that was cut from the Inquirer version of the op-ed, Steinem also observed: “If any of the other women had tried to sell their stories to a celebrity tell-all book publisher, as Ms. Willey did, you might be even more skeptical about their motives. But with her, you think, ‘Well, she needs the money.’ ”

That was all too much even for the New York Times editorial board, which observed:
For feminist leaders, wrestling over legal standards misses the danger involved. Social pressures have greatly restricted the acceptable range for sexual talk or gestures by men in the workplace. That has been a healthy development, based on years of legal work and exhortation by women’s advocacy groups. The Clinton case raises the very real possibility that if the President is seen as getting away with gross behavior, more bosses will feel free to behave abominably.
And Albright and Steinem were far from alone. Virtually the entire feminist establishment—you’ll pardon the phrase—defended Mr. Clinton. A September 1998 Inquirer news story: reported on a news conference where “such feminist stalwarts as Betty Friedan, Eleanor Smeal and Patricia Ireland” answered “a reverberating question posed by Clinton’s opponents: ‘Where are the women?’ ”:
The answer, they said one by one, was steadfastly on the side of a president who has stood with them on such issues as abortion rights, family leave, violence against women, pay equity, minimum wage, Social Security and child care.
Friedan, widely viewed as the founder of modern feminism, said in an interview that the leaders decided to speak out “because we don’t want to see feminism used to bring down a president whose basic public policies have been good for women.” She added that the use of a sexual tryst to undo Clinton’s presidency could harm the issues key to the women’s-rights movement.
Exactly how Mr. Clinton’s departure from office would “harm” those “issues” was not made clear and is still a puzzle all these years later. After all, had the Senate convicted the president (or had he resigned), his successor would have been Al Gore, a fellow Democrat.
I'm sure that young women today don't know all this history. But it is worth remembering when these aging feminist leaders chastise females for not supporting Clinton.

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With all the discussion by Bush, Kasich, and Christie about how they're more qualified because they have been governors, William McGurn makes an interesting point about a rhetorical advantage that a senator might have in running for president. The governors talk about what they've done which means that they're talking about the past.
Which brings us back to the senators. By the nature of the job, a senator shines when he opposes a president. In this race, Mrs. Clinton’s pitch that a victory for her will effectively be a third Obama term may feed this rhetorical advantage. Without an executive record to boast about, Mr. Cruz and Mr. Rubio are forced to campaign on what their presidencies would mean for America’s future—and draw sharp contrasts with the vision Mrs. Clinton is offering.
I don't know if that ability to focus on the future cancels out being able to point to a solid record of accomplishments. But then none of these three governors have totally unblemished records to appeal to a Republican electorate. Kasich is positioned to appeal to independents because of the way he's governed sometimes. That won't translate in other states. I'm not sure where he makes a stand after New Hampshire.

And here is Kasich's argument to appeal to Democrats.
A possibly very confused voter at a John Kasich town hall in Windham, New Hampshire, wanted to know why she should vote for the Ohio governor in the "Democratic primary" — and Kasich, a Republican, didn't correct her. The question did not seem to be a slip of the tongue, either: The voter said she was having a hard time deciding between Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, and John Kasich in the "Democratic primary" and wanted to know why Kasich should have her vote.

"Isn't that interesting," Kasich said as the crowd around her gasped. However, without mentioning his political allegiance or correcting the voter, Kasich went on to position himself as a good compromise between Sanders and Clinton saying, "One of them's too hot, one of them's too cold, but I've got the right temperature."
My takeaway - Kasich sees himself somewhere between Sanders and Clinton. Sounds about right.

Jason Hart writes at Conservative Review t
o explain how Kasich became the "top Obamacare cheerleader" for the Republicans.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Ohio Gov. John Kasich both implemented Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion in their respective states. Medicaid expansion – which puts working-age adults with no kids and no disabilities on welfare – is responsible for three-fourths of all Obamacare enrollment nationwide.

Unlike Christie, who has the sense to downplay his Obamacare expansion, Kasich built his whole campaign around a decision that has already cost taxpayers $6.4 billion.
Even after the Supreme Court ruled that states didn't have to enact the Medicaid expansion, Kasich went ahead to plan to expand it.
To win lawmakers’ support, Kasich’s health policy team lied about how Obamacare expansion would be paid for, warning that a failure to expand Medicaid would “NOT keep $2.4 billion in Ohioans’ federal tax dollars in Ohio ($13 billion over seven years).”

The governor made this falsehood a focal point of his 2013 State of the State address, telling the General Assembly Obamacare expansion was “an unprecedented opportunity to bring $13 billion of Ohio’s tax dollars back to Ohio to solve our problem.”

Of course, there is no Obamacare warehouse in D.C. piled full of Ohio money and New Jersey money and California money waiting to be shipped out. Obamacare expansion is paid for with a blank check of new federal deficit spending – and, starting next year, a state share that starts at five percent and ratchets up to 10 percent.

Kasich combined his false claims about “Ohio’s tax dollars” with pseudo-Christian rhetoric, accusing legislative opponents of ignoring the poor. State lawmakers didn’t buy it.

The Ohio House stripped Obamacare expansion from Kasich’s budget, to the governor’s dismay. In the waning days of the fiscal year, Kasich told the press Obamacare critics were risking eternal damnation.
Even though the Ohio legislature stripped out the Medicaid expansion from their budget and included an explicit ban on that expansion, Kasich used the line-item veto to strip that ban out and went ahead to expand Medicaid unilaterally. And his decision, while maybe ensuring he gets to walk through the Pearly Gates, is costing his state plenty.
Kasich’s Obamacare expansion was $1.5 billion over budget in its first 18 months, with 2015 enrollment exceeding Kasich’s projection for 2020. Instead of apologizing to the skeptics who were right all along, Kasich has traveled the country chewing out Obamacare critics in other states.

Fast forward to February 2016, and Kasich’s Obamacare expansion has enrolled 650,000 Ohioans at a cost of more than $6 billion in new federal spending.

What has Kasich done to address this glaring policy failure during his presidential campaign?

The governor has tweaked his $13 billion cost projection to $14 billion, and now insists that’s the amount of “Ohio money” Obamacare expansion is “bringing back” to the state. Based on the latest Ohio Department of Medicaid data, Kasich’s Obamacare expansion will cost federal taxpayers double his original 2014-2020 estimate.

Kasich boasts of Ohio’s slow Medicaid growth rate, deliberately using a 2014-15 budget figure that excludes Obamacare expansion; Kasich says he slowed Medicaid growth to 2.5 percent annually, but he increased Medicaid spending by 33 percent in his first term.

And, in one of the boldest lies of this election cycle, Kasich is bragging in his final New Hampshire ad that he “rejected Obamacare.”
All of Kasich's maneuvering to expand Medicaid despite the legislature's disapproval and the budgetary problems that now presents for his state hasn't received much attention because he's been floating beneath the radar. If he does well tonight in New Hampshire, expect to hear a lot more about this.

Ramesh Ponnuru notes
that Kasich is defending his actions of going around the legislature by saying that they secretly wanted him to do that but didn't want to go into primaries having voted for it. So Kasich intuited their secret desires and went ahead to doing it on his own. Don't we want a "father of America" who can figure out the legislators' secret desires so he can go around and act on his own. Not even Obama claims that. Ponnuru writes,
On Kasich’s own account, the point of this arrangement was to prevent accountability to primary voters by making legislative responsibility indirect. And that’s the basic problem with his answer, even if it turns out that he’s entirely right about what legislators were thinking (which I doubt). We shouldn’t care about presidential unilateralism because it offends the self-regard of legislators. We should care about it because it undermines our system of divided, checked, and accountable power. It doesn’t become better if the legislators agree to it because they would rather evade political accountability. For Kasich to say that as president he would unilaterally set policy only after consulting with legislators in this fashion should be the opposite of reassuring.
But hey, he wants to be the "father of America" so we should let him do whatever he wants.

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A member of the Yale admissions committee reveals
some of the secrets of who gets in. This has to be the most original admissions essay topic I've heard of.
The applicants were an impressive lot. A girl wrote a brilliant feminist essay — worthy of Harper’s, really — about gender and socialization, revealing that she was a phantom serial farter in public and yet no one ever suspected because of her gender.
Who knew that flatulence was gender biased?

It's not good when insiders say that socialist Bernie Sanders "is winning the economic argument" against Hillary Clinton.

The New York Times looks at Joe Scarborough's hate for Marco Rubio. It makes sense that Scarborough was a Charlie Crist supporter. And the NYT doesn't mention that his former wife was an aide to Jeb Bush.

Well, this is just charming. Trump repeated when someone in his audience called out that Cruz is a pussy. Just the role model we want in the White House. I remember during the Monica Lewinsky scandal when I was teaching in middle school and sixth grade girl was found to have given oral sex to several boys in the locker room. They all defended themselves by saying that the President had done it and said that that wasn't sex so it was okay. It was horrifying to realize what these children had picked up from Clinton. If Trump continues to receive acclamation across the country, I'm sure I'll hear students using this sort of language and figuring it's no big deal because the leading GOP contender uses it. Just lovely.

Beyond Trump's increasing public vulgarity, he is also letting his more radical side show through. As Byron York writes, Trump sounds almost like Bernie.
In a nearly one-hour speech, Trump railed against pharmaceutical companies. He railed against oil companies. And insurance companies. And defense contractors. And he set himself against a political system that he said allows big-money corporate "bloodsuckers" to control the government with campaign contributions.

"Whether it's the insurance companies, or the drug companies, or the oil companies, it's all the same thing," Trump said. "We're never going to get our country back if we keep doing this."

Trump promised to allow the government to negotiate drug prices — a common position among Democrats but rarely heard at nominally Republican events. He said he would not raise military spending, arguing that the nation's defenses can be improved without increasing its already huge Pentagon budget. He promised tough sanctions on American companies that move jobs overseas.
Just what the country needs - more government interference in the medical field. Apparently, Trump doesn't understand the cost/benefit considerations a pharmaceutical company must make when it conducts research into new treatments. It's one thing for a Democrat to rail against high drug prices, but it's disturbing when the GOP frontrunner does.

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This is cute. Marco Rubio gives tidings of salvation for young women bound for hell for not supporting Hillary.

Not the headline the Clinton campaign wants on the morning of the New Hampshire vote.
FBI formally confirms its investigation of Hillary Clinton’s email server

This is how persecuted some college kids are. Some Northwestern University students are complaining that they didn't get solos in a school burlesque show.
Students at Northwestern University are complaining that an upcoming burlesque performance at the school is not a “safe space” because the group of students selected for solos wasn’t inclusive enough.

According to the school newspaper, the Daily Northwestern, every single student who tried out was cast, but only some of them get solos.

This is, of course, the normal way of doing things — and seeing as small children in church Christmas pageants are able to handle it, you’d think that these adult students would be able to handle it, too.

But no. They’re offended, and the directors are actually changing the show to appease these whiners.

“It was brought to our attention that there are people in our community who feel that those solos and duets and trios are not best representing what the Burlesque community is,” co-director Avril Dominguez told the Northwestern.

“We do have a very inclusive and representative cast at large [and] we’re taking that criticism into account and really trying to reestablish a safe space,” she continued.

Rich Lowry notices that the Republican candidates are back to basically ignoring Trump except for Bush's attack on Trump's efforts to use eminent domain to take an elderly lady's house away so he could build a parking garage for his casino.

This is maybe a sign of Jeb Bush's basic decency or a pledge to disarm himself rhetorically if he should become president.
Jeb Bush vowed Monday that he will not scapegoat President Obama for any challenges he faces should he be elected president.

“My pledge to you: When I’m president I will not blame Barack Obama for a single thing,” he told listeners at the Nashua Country Club in Nashua, N.H. "The day that I’m sworn into office, I’m on watch — whatever it is."

“I am really tired of politicians that blame their predecessors,” the Republican White House hopeful added. "I have a personal kind of feeling about it having watched it for a while.

“I hope you want a president who actually accepts accountability and responsibility but also has the skills to fix the mess that exists. I hope you want a leader who’s focused like a laser beam on the mess in Washington, D.C.”
I can see how he would feel that way given how Bill Clinton and Barack Obama spent a lot of time bashing Jeb's father and brother respectively. So it's admirable that Jeb doesn't believe in blaming someone else. But I'm not sure that the Republican electorate is eager for someone who won't continue to expose how Obama weakened the country.

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Apparently, with same-day registration, it would not be that hard for people who have moved to New Hampshire to campaign for a candidate to also vote in the election.
Some famous political operatives have done this in the past, including New York resident and niece to the Vice President, Alana Biden, who volunteered for the Obama-Biden campaign in 2012 in New Hampshire and voted in New Hampshire. She simply said she was living (with eight other campaign staffers) in New Hampshire on Election Day.

As Secretary Gardner has stated, “working on political campaigns is not sufficient evidence” to make someone eligible to vote in New Hampshire. Secretary Gardner personally witnessed vote fraud in 2008 when AmeriCorps volunteers who planned to leave on December 1 registered at the polls and voted....

Importantly, data from the State Election Results published regarding the 2012 and 2014 general elections by the N.H. Secretary of State demonstrated the margin of victory for the winning candidate in the races for governor, U.S. Senate and U.S. President was less than the number of votes cast Election Day by same day registrants. A few votes from out-of-state people can literally change the winner of a race.
The state is small enough that some elections could actually be swayed by such fraudulent voters. But the Democratic governor has blocked any reform.

Ladies and Gentlemen: Your military under the Democrats.
The Pentagon is ordering the top brass to incorporate climate change into virtually everything they do, from testing weapons to training troops to war planning to joint exercises with allies.

A new directive’s theme: The U.S. Armed Forces must show “resilience” and beat back the threat based on “actionable science.”

It says the military will not be able to maintain effectiveness unless the directive is followed. It orders the establishment of a new layer of bureaucracy — a wide array of “climate change boards, councils and working groups” to infuse climate change into “programs, plans and policies.”

Monday, February 08, 2016

Cruising the Web

How ironic that the candidate who burst on the scene and climbed in the polls based on his ability to communicate should have gotten tripped up in a debate and communicate so badly that his response instantly became a derisive meme. I don't know how much it will hurt Rubio, but it can't be good for him that the political conversation a couple days before the New Hampshire vote was about his speaking glitch, a glitch that seemed to confirm the criticisms that all his opponents have been making about him. Perhaps he'll be saved by the fact that most people will be more focused on the Super Bowl than the debate. But I bet everyone will have heard about it. I actually don't think that the point Rubio was making was a bad one. I think he's right that the problem with Obama was not that he was inexperienced, but what he sought to achieve and mostly accomplished. Rubio's problem was that he didn't seem prepared to say anything once he had made that original point. He needed another argument, but didn't have one. He actually did well for the rest of the debate. We'll see how it all plays out on Tuesday. Either that glitch moment will be remembered like Rick Perry's "Oops" moment that killed a promising campaign or it will be forgotten if Rubio does well despite it. Though it will dog him as long as he's in the campaign.

Jim Geraghty explains
why Rubio's glitch may not be as bad as so many in the media are saying.
The gaffe is going to hurt him because it’s so unexpected, in an area perceived to be Rubio’s strength. Since I first interviewed him in August 2009, Rubio came across as prepared, smooth, cool under fire, a natural communicator. Rubio seemed to panic, and most of us thought he was the kind of candidate who didn’t panic anymore.

Keep in mind, one of the reasons you’re hearing so much about Rubio’s bobble last night is because an enormous number of people are invested in that narrative: all of Rubio’s rivals, particularly Trump, Christie, Cruz and Bush; television producers who want good video and drama and are eager to see a new storyline (“Can Rubio Come Back?”); Rubio campaign correspondents tired of hearing the same speech from Rubio at every stop; and Democrats and the liberal media (I repeat myself) who are eager to defuse a candidate who could be seriously threatening to them in general election.

Still, what’s at the heart of the critique? That Rubio rehearses his answers? It’s campaigning malpractice not to do that. That Rubio often answers in 25-seconds? That’s usually how much time he has in these debates. That Rubio often repeats his lines? Hey, did you know Chris Christie used to be a prosecutor? That John Kasich’s dad was a mailman? That Donald Trump thinks this country never wins anymore? All of these candidates repeat their lines. Most Americans don’t watch a lot of politics; every appearance is an introduction to voters.

Is the critique that Rubio’s not smart, he’s just good at memorizing his lines? Eh, probably not, Christie’s own statement was, “I like Marco Rubio, he’s a smart person and good guy, but he simply does not have the experience to be president of the United States.” (The guy elected to statewide office in 2009 is knocking the guy elected to statewide office in 2010.)

Rubio can and probably will undo the damage by being himself. If you’re accused of only having 25-second answers, sit down for interviews and give lengthy, detailed answers. When challenged on not having done much in the Senate, Rubio has to emphasize his work to eliminate the risk corridors in Obamacare. (Our Yuval Levin: “Rubio was without question the first and most significant congressional voice on this subject, and if he hadn’t done the work he did, the risk-corridor neutralization provision would not have been in last year’s (or this year’s) budget bill.”) When he’s accused of never running anything, Rubio should talk about running Florida’s House and passing the largest tax cut in Florida’s history (at least to that point), reforms to the state insurance market and (ahem) new restrictions on eminent domain.

Rubio can overcome this; the problem is that he had been closing on Trump in New Hampshire and now anything but a distant second seems hard to picture. That makes South Carolina, traditionally one of the king-makers on the GOP primary schedule, much more important for Rubio.
Perhaps he can recover, but the question is why he didn't talk about those things on Saturday night. Maybe he should hire Jim Geraghty as an adviser.

I also suspect that Christie's dogged, and even mean-spirited, attacks on Rubio won't end up helping Christie. He just came off ugly. And then he repeated himself over and over again. Anyone who has watched any of these debates has heard Christie making fun of Cruz and Rubio for being senators and talking about all the tough decisions and leadership he has shown as a governor. And he must have mentioned at least four times just during this last debate his experience as a U.S. Attorney. And he spent last week repeating that Rubio is the Boy in the Bubble over and over and over. So it's not like he isn't scripted.

A lot of Republicans still haven't forgiven Christie for his enthusiastic embrace of Obama during Hurricane Sandy right before the 2012 election, but he lost me a bit earlier when he spoke at the Republican convention. Everyone expected a red-meat sort of speech, but he chose otherwise. Instead, he barely mentioned Romney and talked all about himself and what he did in New Jersey. His purpose there was to help the Republican ticket, but he made it all about himself. Saturday night, I just wanted to quote Christie back at him to "Sit down and shut up."

So I think that the candidates who benefited from Christie's attack on Rubio will be Kasich and Cruz. Maybe Bush who had the best moment of his entire campaign. I suspect that they'll all be bunched up close for second place. I can see Trump sinking since his attack on the audience for being full of donors was so lame and just one more example that he gets whiney whenever he faces opposition.

Governor Kasich remains high in the polls for New Hampshire. And his campaign is triumphantly leaking that their internal polls show that he is surging and Rubio is sinking. I guess that is what happens when a candidate like Kasich camps out in the state. While I liked Kasich back in the 1990s, I find his attitude now so smugly self-congratulatory and annoying. I thought this comment he made in response to Trump's dropping the F-bomb was actually more off-putting than Trump's vulgarity.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich lashed out at Trump's dirty language, as well, saying on Friday that someone running to become the president should not carry themselves that way.
"I mean, you're the president of the United States. You're the father of America. Act like it," Kasich said.
This is, apparently, a popular image with Kasich. He regards himself as the "father of Ohio."
asich said he had learned to be more like the father of his state. It was a telling analogy; Gingrich had suggested to me that having raised twin daughters (they’re now 15) had mellowed Kasich considerably over the years, as fatherhood often does.

“My wife told me that one time,” Kasich said. “She said, ‘You’re the father of Ohio. Would you act like it?’”
Ugh! I don't want any politician who regards his role to be the "father" of a state or the country. That is literally too paternalistic a view. It betrays how Kasich is not a true conservative. We should not be looking for any leader who wants to serve in loco parentis for the country. The fact that Kasich seems to sincerely believe that that is his role and that would be the role of a president is quite a disturbing insight into Kasich's view of the role of government. It also helps to explain his view of Obamacare which he is now lying to voters to say that he "rejected" it for his state. Bre Payton explains.
In a new ad, Ohio Gov. John Kasich claims he “rejected Obamacare,” a claim that is absolutely false.

This is the same governor who in 2013 unilaterally imposed Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion in Ohio and bypassed the Republican-controlled legislature to do so. Yet today he is attempting to pull the wool over New Hampshire voters by telling them he opposed Obamacare....

Kasich has repeatedly tried to claim the Medicaid expansion was an entirely separate deal from Obamacare, when in fact it is the backbone of controversial healthcare law.

His decision to expand Medicaid has resulted in a huge uptick of Obamacare enrollees, which Ohio taxpayers are now on the hook to pay for. To put it another way,“Kasich’s decision to opt in to Medicaid expansion is responsible for 76 percent of Ohio’s Obamacare enrollment.”

So his claim of “rejecting Obamacare” is a flat-out lie, which isn’t all that out of the ordinary, as politicians often tell falsehoods and half-baked truths to sell themselves as candidates. But what is truly surprising is how shameless Kasich is about it.
And, as Payton points out, that isn't the only outright lie that Kasich is telling voters.
This isn’t the only whopper he’s told while on the campaign trail in the Granite State, either. During an event in New Hampshire on Wednesday, Kasich took a swipe at opponent Ted Cruz by telling attendees that Kasich doesn’t like to invoke God while campaigning.

“I don’t go out and try to win a vote using God,” he said. “I think that cheapens God.”

Remember, this is same man who has repeatedly used God as his reason for expanding Medicaid and invoked St. Peter during a legislative debate to justify his actions: “Now, when you die and get to the meeting with Saint Peter, he’s probably not going to ask you much about what you did about keeping government small. But he is going to ask you what you did for the poor. You better have a good answer.”

Jason Hart, a friend and former colleague of mine, obsessively catalogues Kasich’s numerous hypocrisies, and has outlined all the times Kasich has cited Matthew 25 as justification for his decision to expand Medicaid.
I guess Kasich appeals to the independents who can vote in the GOP primary in New Hampshire. Among my circle of friends, the only ones who like Kasich are Democrats. And perhaps he appeals to more moderate Republicans and those who think he would make it more possible to win Ohio. I just find him quite sanctimonious and unappealing. He wears thin very quickly.

So I'm anticipating a couple of dismal days in both sports and politics. First, the Panthers lost. I wasn't terribly emotionally invested in them since I'm basically a Patriots fan. And it's nice for Peyton Manning to go out on top. I like it when "old" guys do well. But living in North Carolina, it has been hard not to get caught up in the Panthers excitement. Our professional sports teams don't often generate that excitement. And then I'm very nervous about Duke playing Louisville tonight. And then tomorrow, I'm afraid that several candidates I don't like will do well in New Hampshire and we'll not be any closer to shutting down the Trump show. Oh, well. Maybe I'll just have to read books instead.

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It's amazing how feminists care so much about showing respect for women except when their ideology gets in the way. Legal Insurrection catches Gloria Steinem's view of women voting for Bernie Sanders.
In an interview with Bill Maher, Steinem—a purported feminist and icon among some on the feminist left—has found a new and exciting way to diminish women who don’t think as she does: she explains that the support of young women for Bernie is actually rooted in their desire to attract boys.

She argues that Bernie’s female supporters are boy crazy and appears to be doing so as a means of demeaning these women. They’re just silly little girls who aren’t clever enough to understand politics and are only interested in his candidacy because “that’s where the boys are.” Clearly, if they had more sense, they’d support Hillary as she does.
Wow. I guess women don't have their own minds if they don't support a liberal women. Madeleine Albright chimes in with her contempt for women who aren't supporting Hillary.
At a rally before a few hundred people on Saturday, former secretary of state Madeleine Albright suggested that women who vote for Bernie Sanders are buying a one-way ticket to “a special place in Hell."

"There are some that are out there that don't understand the importance of why young women have to support Hillary Clinton," Albright said as she stood next to Hillary Clinton inside the gymnasium of Rundlett Middle School. "The story is not over. They are going to want to push us back. Appointments to the Supreme Court make all the difference."

"We tell our story about how we climbed the ladder, and a lot of you younger women don't think you have to—it's been done. It's not done," Albright continued. "And you have to help Hillary Clinton—[she] will always be there for you. And just remember, there's a special place in Hell for women who don't help each other."
Of course, Albright didn't feel that way when it was women making allegations of sexual assault and misbehavior against Bill Clinton. That's totally different, of course. And Hillary thinks that any objection to Albright's words is just "people getting offended about everything these days." That from the woman who accused Bernie Sanders of sexism because he said that "all the shouting in the world is not going to" keep "guns out of the hands of people who should not have those guns." Apparently, using the word "shout" is a secret slap at Hillary for being a woman. And she thinks people are being excessively politically correct. Please.

Liberals always seem to think that people's racial or gender identity should determine their political ideology. Think of all the ugliness directed against Clarence Thomas because he dares to be a conservative. And now we're seeing the same sort of ideological bigotry against Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio for being Republicans of Hispanic origin.

Tom Knighton of Same Page Nation
has a wonderful take-down of an opinion column by Roberto Suro in the New York Times which purports to show that Cruz and Rubio aren't really Latino. Suro asks why people haven't been celebrating that two Latino candidates did so well in Iowa.
The answer is not that complicated: Neither Mr. Cruz nor Mr. Rubio meets conventional expectations of how Latino politicians are supposed to behave.

Neither of these candidates claims to speak for the Hispanic population or derive a crucial portion of their support from Hispanics, and neither bases much of his political identity on being a Latino. To varying degrees they oppose legalization for unauthorized immigrants, a policy that is central to most organized Latino political interests and that is supported by a great majority of Latino elected officials and Latino voters.
You got that. There are political positions that a Hispanic politician should espouse. And if they don't, they are violating the expected norms. And liberals get to determine what those norms must be. Knighton writes,
This is the problem with American politics today. There’s a belief that identity should trump conscience. A belief in identity purity, that if you do not agree with particular policies, you’re effectively thrown out of whatever group. A woman who opposes whatever feminists want isn’t a real woman. A black man opposed to affirmative action isn’t really black either.

And Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio aren’t really Latino because they don’t support amnesty....

Isn’t stuff like that how we ended up with Jim Crow laws?

Of course, Cruz’s and Rubio’s parents immigrated in compliance with U.S. law. There is no betrayal at work here for expecting others to do the same. But that doesn’t matter. Support for anything other than amnesty is allegedly anti-immigrant or something.
Jazz Shaw adds,
This is the ironic – and perpetually insulting – reverse of the “fears” many Democrats had about Barack Obama during both elections. Would he be the President of all Americans or just black Americans? He was continually referred to as brave when he decided to talk about racial issues, but his own party always seemed to fear that his race also hindered him in being effective on that front. But when the conversation swings over to Republicans it’s simply a betrayal to not base your entire candidacy on your ethnic heritage.
He goes on to list female Republican women or Senator Tim Scott whose achievements get ignored by the media because they're not Democrats.

Wouldn't true respect for women, blacks, and Hispanics be to respect them enough to allow them to have their own opinions just as white voters do instead of trying to keep them confined to the "liberal plantation"?

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This is the real sign that Democrats are worried about running against Marco Rubio. They're already trying to convince the public that they could easily defeat him. The plan is to portray him as too conservative on social issues and untrustworthy on immigration. In fact, it sounds a lot like what Bush, Kasich, and Cruz are saying about Rubio now. It's rather ironic that both sides are attacking him for the same things.

But Rubio has a good answer for the attacks on his abortion position when CNN's reporter debates him on the issue.

Jim Swift catches Hillary Clinton's new campaign promise. She will take a firm stand against "bad things." Good to know.

The NY Times looks at how the Department of Veterans Affairs were able to hide their treatment of veterans for so very long despite complaints that at least 40 veterans had died while waiting for appointments. It turns out that it's Bernie Sanders' fault.
Despite mounting evidence of trouble at the Department of Veterans Affairs, Senator Bernie Sanders, then the chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, initially regarded the complaints as overblown, and as a play by conservatives to weaken one of the country’s largest social welfare institutions.

“There is, right now, as we speak, a concerted effort to undermine the V.A.,” Mr. Sanders said two weeks after the story was picked up by national news organizations. “You have folks out there now — Koch brothers and others — who want to radically change the nature of society, and either make major cuts in all of these institutions, or maybe do away with them entirely.”
Well, of course. It was the Koch brothers' fault. Wouldn't that be your first guess if you heard reports of malfeasance at the VA?

The NYT continues to lay out Sanders' lack of action in a story that could be regarded as an in-kind contribution to the Clinton campaign.
Mr. Sanders’s chairmanship of the committee, his most notable leadership post in the Senate, has become a go-to credential in his upstart quest to win the Democratic nomination for president. He routinely boasts of praise from the largest veterans organizations, who lauded his fight to expand benefits. And he frequently speaks of how he helped devise the wait time fix and was able to “crack the gridlock” of Washington, as one of his campaign mailers put it.

But a review of his record in the job also shows that in a moment of crisis, his deep-seated faith in the fundamental goodness of government blinded him, at least at first, to a dangerous breakdown in the one corner of it he was supposed to police. Despite inspector general reports dating back a decade that documented a growing problem with wait times, Mr. Sanders, who had served on the committee for six years before he became its head, was quick to defend the agency and slow to aggressively question V.A. officials and demand accountability.

His major objective as chairman was to expand the menu of veterans benefits. It was an ambitious goal, and as with his proposals today for free public college and universal health care, many viewed it as unrealistic. The cost was so high that even Republicans who normally favor more aid for veterans blanched at the dollars involved — while fearing that more offerings would cause even longer waits at the overburdened V.A.

“His ideological perspective blurred his ability to recognize the operational reality of what was happening at the V.A.,” said Paul Rieckhoff, the founder of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. “The reality was that he was one of the last people to publicly recognize the gravity of the situation.”
Although the article does contain some praise for Sanders' concern for veterans and his sincere desire to help them, how soon before Hillary starts using this article in attack ads? And John McCain is right in there doing his mischievous best to help Bernie over Clinton.
Mr. McCain and Mr. Miller, in a call with reporters last fall, said Mr. Sanders had a stronger record on veterans than his rival, Hillary Clinton. “Bernie Sanders worked very hard when he was chairman of the Veterans Affairs Committee,” Mr. McCain said. “He and I had many disagreements, but we were able to come together, finally, after very spirited discussions.”
Just as McCain was happy to voice his concern over whether Ted Cruz is a natural-born citizen, he seems happy to boost Sanders against Clinton. Just doing his bit for 2016"s "operation chaos."

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This is certainly true. Jack Shafer writes at Politico that it's time for the media to stop treating Chelsea Clinton with kid gloves. It might have been appropriate when she was a kid in the White House. but she's 35 years old. She's been an overpaid member of the media and worked at a hedge fund. She's in charger of her parents' foundation. She's a surrogate for her mother. She shouldn't be cushioned from answering questions from the press.

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This is how absurd political correctness works on college campuses these days.
In just the latest instance of taxpayer-funded censorship, students in one University of Florida course have been banned from using words such as “husband,” “wife,” “mom,” or dad” in the classroom and risk losing points off their grade if they don’t comply.

In the syllabus for her “Creativity In Context” class — a required course for any student pursuing a minor in Innovation — UF professor Jennifer Lee informs students of her four paragraph long classroom “communications policy” that she says will enforce “ethical conduct” in the classroom.

“The following policies and guidelines will be followed in this course,” the policy begins, followed by a bullet point instructing students to “Use inclusive language.” The policy mandates that students “[s]peak in a way that does not make assumptions about others based on “norms”, stereotypes, or one’s own identity or experience.”

The syllabus explains that this means replacing the words “boyfriend”/”girlfriend” with the more inclusive “partner” or “significant other.” The rule applies to conversations about married couples too: saying “husband” or “wife” is forbidden. Even the words “mom” and “dad” have a more “inclusive” alternative — students are told to use the word ‘family” instead.
Do Florida legislators know that they're funding a teacher who penalizes for using such terribly ugly words as “husband,” “wife,” “mom,” or dad”? Does the administration at the university approve a professor penalizing students for not obeying her linguistic ideology?

In an effort to supply evidence for those who believes that feminists are humorless hags, NARAL spent the Super Bowl tweeting about how sexist some of the ads were. They really hated that ad with Kevin Hart as a protective father following his daughter on her date. That's the patriarchy denying his daughter her own autonomy or something. And William Dafoe turning into Marilyn Monroe after eating a Snickers was transphobic. Really. And they absolutely hated the Doritos ad with the fetus. Can't have anything "humanizing" a fetus.

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In his great urge to tell us all how bigoted we are against Muslims, President Obama implicitly compared Chicagoans to Nazis. It's a strange juxtaposition of stories that he chose to tell at the National Prayer Breakfast.

I don't get the whole Super Bowl Babies celebration. How many children want to think about what their parents were doing on the day they were conceived? Why would so many parents have told their children that they were Super Bowl Babies so that there would be enough to be in the NFL ad? And is the message to viewers that, when the game is over, they should all go out and conceive? It's just bizarre.

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Saturday, February 06, 2016

Live-blogging the ABC New Hampshire Debate

Oh, gosh. Couldn't they have briefed the candidates when they need to come out? Carson and Trump didn't come out and the ABC announcers forgot Kasich. What an inauspicious opening.

Why ask a question about whether Trump has the proper temperament to be president? What do they think he's going to say? ANd, of course, Cruz ignores what he said previously. This was all predictable. I wish reporters would ask question that we couldn't predict what the candidates would say.

Trump calls out Cruz for not answering the question. I hope all the other candidates will call out Trump when he doesn't answer question.

Ben Carson issues the back-handed insult by saying that he wasn't going to insult another Republican, but then goes on to insult Curz.

Rubio was ready for that question about how ready he is to be president. Nice to give him the opportunity to push his message.

I don't think that Christie's constant denigration of being a Senator is still resonating, but his line about Rubio not being there is truancy not leadership was a good line.

Rubio doesn't help refute Christie's line about repeating memorized lines by repeating himself. I think that's going to hurt him in post-debate analysis.

That was generous of Trump to mention Rubio by name so he'd get another chance to talk and show off about his knowledge on foreign policy.

Christie tells us about how being a federal prosecutor taught him how to deal with North Korea. Isn't he the one repeating his talking points since he mentions that he was a federal prosecutor each debate. And he attacks senators for not being governors. Every one of the candidates repeats his top points.

Christie might not be helping himself in this debate, but he is hurting Rubio. I think this is the weakest I've seen Rubio in all the debates.

How nice to see Mary Katharine Ham on the stage. And her question on his position on health care to Trump was good. All he can say is that his plan will be so much better. And he'll keep people from dying on the street. Is that what he thinks the other candidates' policies would do? I don't think he understands how emergency care works now.

Now Trump tells us how conservative he is. Please. Eminent domain was a necessity for getting parking for his casinos. Good for Jeb to bring that up.

Trump whining about donors in the audience as a total non sequitur is a bad moment for him. It shows how distractible he is.

That exchange over eminent domain and Trump's attack on the audience was maybe the worst moment he's had and the best moment Jeb has had in the debates.

As he shushed Bush for talking over him and then talked over Bush, Trump demonstrated that he can dish it out, but can't take it himself. Good for Jeb to keep going.

It is strange to have the GOP moderators come on during half-time to try to shape people's opinions of what is going on.

Kasich didn't define how he'd change people's interpretation of conservatism.

Do we really need to debate whether Obama is deliberately doing what he's doing or if all he's done has been by incompetence? Rubio needed to get off that point.

Good answer from Christie to explain what happens when a state raises taxes on millionaires.

Guy Benson points out that Trump wants to both bomb the oil and to sell it. That's about it for his strategy to deal with ISIS.

Mary Katharine Ham had a good question for Cruz on how he's going to do all he promises to do. Cruz has a good answer.

Trump answers a question about his deals will be different by saying that he'll make great deals.

How can ABC use George Stephanopolous, a former Clinton aide who donated to the Clinton Foundation and told Hillary he loves her as a commenter on a GOP debate? Bring on Mary Katharine Ham back.