Friday, May 01, 2015

Cruising the Web

Now that Bernie Sanders has entered the race, he has become, as Byron York writes, he has become the "new Elizabeth Warren."
A new Iowa survey by the Democratic polling firm PPP finds Clinton with an overwhelming lead over the Democratic pack — no news there. But PPP also found that, while the former secretary of state is the choice of 62 percent of Democrats surveyed, Sanders is now in double digits, with 14 percent saying they support him. (Martin O'Malley is at 6 percent, Jim Webb at 3 percent, and Lincoln Chafee at two percent, while 13 percent say they are not sure who they support.)

Given the peculiar character of the Democratic race, just being in double digits qualifies a candidate as a legitimate opponent of Clinton. And PPP numbers also put Sanders in double digits in New Hampshire. "We've now found that in both Iowa and New Hampshire, Sanders is the second choice," says PPP director Tom Jensen. "If there really is a desire on the far left for anyone else — now that they're not going to get Warren — Sanders may be their guy."

What appears to have happened is that Sanders has become a stand-in for Warren among those Democrats who wanted the Massachusetts senator to run and are disappointed that she has declined. They have now transferred their support to the next-best candidate to represent their point of view, and that is Sanders.
I think that at some point, one of these lesser candidates will emerge as the winner of the votes of Democrats who are dissatisfied with Hillary Clinton as their party's candidate. Bernie Sanders may well be the only reasonable candidate on the left of Hillary Clinton in the Democratic race and if that is so, his vote totals would be artificially inflated because as he becomes the repository of the ABC votes - Anyone But Clinton. So the question will become, how low a vote for Hillary will be necessary for the media to regard it as a major slap in the face. She'll win the primary and caucus votes, but would a vote of maybe 60 or 70% be alarming for Democrats if her only opposition is Bernie Sanders, Martin O'Malley, and James Webb?

Sean Trende analyzes whether Hillary Clinton can keep the Obama coalition together and turning out in the same numbers and how that concern explains why she's moving to the left in her current race for the presidency.
This brings us back to Beutler’s argument that the decision to shift leftward is made by the Clinton campaign from a position of strength, and provides evidence of a belief that Obama’s coalition is both transferable and larger than the Republican coalition.

I would call this the optimistic interpretation (from a liberal perspective) of her moves, even if you accept that this is simply cynical gamesmanship on her part. The pessimistic interpretation would stem from one of the theses of my book, “The Lost Majority”: that Obama modified Bill Clinton’s coalition into a narrower, deeper one. This enabled Obama to win a victory in 2008 that was almost as large as Clinton’s 1996 win without bringing Appalachians or working-class whites on board. The problem with such a coalition is that it doesn’t allow for much flexibility: At least for now, Democrats have to run up the score with different groups in order to win.

Under the pessimistic take, the Clinton Coalition is simply gone. Bill Clinton had managed to keep Appalachian voters and working-class whites in the Democratic camp through skillful positioning and a bit of luck. But over the course of the next decade, these voters finally broke with the Democrats. This occurred at the presidential level in 2004 and 2008, then occurred at the senatorial level in 2010 and 2014, when relatively conservative Democrats like Mark Pryor and Mary Landrieu found they could no longer win with a Clintonian formula (in fact, they couldn’t come close to winning). This was a break that was a long time coming, but given that it has filtered down to congressional and even state legislative offices, it seems like it will be difficult to reverse.

So from the pessimistic standpoint (again, from the liberal perspective), Clinton is running leftward not because she believes it is the best way to win, but because she believes that she has no choice.

Jonah Goldberg is struck by how many liberals don't like to call themselves liberals. They're progressive or pragmatic, but not liberal.
Meanwhile, with the obvious exception of gay rights, the country simply hasn’t moved left with the Democratic party. In 2012, political scientist James Stimson found that the American public was more conservative than at any time since 1952.

This is one reason Obama’s “what works” presidency hasn’t worked for the Democrats. By committing to a left-wing agenda — while pretending it’s pragmatic — the Democrats have been hollowed out in Congress and in state governments across the country. Obama had hoped to restore confidence in the competence of government. Instead, government’s reputation is in tatters.

“By ignoring the electorate and steering the country in an unmistakably progressive direction his final two years in office,” National Journal’s Josh Krauhaar wrote in February, “he’s ensuring that his presidency will be more of an eight-year mirage for liberals, rather than one known for winning lasting support for policies that would move the country in a leftward direction.”

Poor Hillary Clinton. She spent the last 20-plus years trying to convince the country she wasn’t as left-wing as people justifiably believed she was, and now she must risk whiplash as she veers to the left to reassure the base — and to block a potential Elizabeth Warren run and a real presidential bid by avowed socialist Bernie Sanders. “She seems always to be zigging when history zags,” writes the Washington Post’s Chuck Lane.

Watching her pretend to be a populist is painful, like watching some of the joke contestants on American Idol tonelessly warble to a panel of snickering judges.

Now, it is certainly true that Republicans are not without their problems. They desperately need coaching on how to talk about issues in a way that doesn’t alienate voters. But one of the reasons they need tutoring in this regard is that the press which reports on their campaigns is even more out of touch with reality than the allegedly out-of-touch Republicans they opine on.

If someone nods along when Obama ludicrously claims to have no ideological agenda, it’s no surprise he’ll shake his head when a conservative admits to having one. But at least the conservatives aren’t lying.

Michael Barone laughs at the defense that Hillary's supporters are putting forward.
Some of Hillary Clinton's defenders have taken to saying that voters shouldn't pay attention to the latest Clinton scandals — the gushing of often undisclosed millions to the Clintons and their organizations by characters seeking official favors — because the charges are just one more in a long series: Whitewater, the Rose law firm billing records, the Buddhist temple fundraising, the Lippo Group.

So, the theory goes, because the Clintons have been accused of so many scandalous doings before, people shouldn't be concerned now about Secretary Clinton's actions that helped certain donors turn over 20 percent of U.S. uranium reserves to a state-run Russian company.
There's also, as Barone points out, a difference between the public rallying around an incumbent president than voting for a presidential candidate.
Hillary Clinton is in a different position. She is a candidate, not an incumbent. Candidates are easily dispensed with, as former Sen. Gary Hart learned when the photos of him sailing on the "Monkey Business" appeared in May 1987 when he was seeking the Democratic nomination for president. His staffers vowed he would hold onto his support, but it wasn't his to hold on to. He quickly withdrew and faded from view.

Hart's position in 1987 was weaker than Clinton's position today. His lead in Democratic primary polls was not overwhelming, and there were other serious active or potential candidates in the field or just over the horizon. That's because even in Ronald Reagan's 1980s, Democrats of varying ideological stripes were winning major offices around the country. Democrats had reason to think they had a good chance of nominating a strong ticket without Hart.

Today's Democrats fear they are not in this comfortable position. They've been losing most elections lately in constituencies beyond those where their core constituencies — blacks, some Hispanics, gentry liberals — are clustered. They don't have many prominent plausible alternative candidates.

Absent Hillary Clinton, they would be faced with a choice of tax-raiser Martin O'Malley, socialist Bernie Sanders, Reagan appointee Jim Webb, former Republican scion Lincoln Chafee, or the gaffe-prone Joe Biden. None run as well as Clinton in general election polls.

But how strong is Clinton? Her numbers have been declining and she runs under 50 percent against lesser-known Republicans in most national and target-state polls. All voters know her and most don't favor her. She runs stronger in polls of all adults, not just registered voters. That gap suggests she could have a hard time inspiring maximizing turnout.

The argument that the Clintons have always faced scandal charges is intended to shore up her support. But it may have the opposite effect.
That prospect must terrify many Democrats.

And when every day a new story seems to appear about undisclosed foreign money pouring into the Clinton coffers, Democrats are rightly terrified.

Even someone who apparently admires her a great deal as Joe Klein does is dismayed.
In recent days, I’ve spoken with a bunch of Democrats about the Clinton mess. Inevitably, their first reaction is political. The Clintons were “sloppy” but probably didn’t do anything illegal. It’s “good” that this came out early, they argue; it’ll be forgotten by the time the election rolls around. She’s still a lock for the Democratic nomination and probably the presidency, it is said. And how much worse is this than the parade of Republicans crawling to Las Vegas to kiss the ring of the loathsome Sheldon Adelson, in return for $100 million in campaign -contributions—or the Koch brothers’ auditions? Isn’t this what American politics is all about now?

There is a moral distinction, however, between campaign-related moneygrubbing and the appearance of influence peddling. And in practical political terms, while the Clinton Foundation crisis may not prove damaging during the primary campaign, it may come back to haunt Hillary in the general election—just as Bain Capital did Mitt Romney in 2012. True enough, my Democratic interlocutors say, but there’s a lot of real enthusiasm out there for Hillary. She’s historic. She’s smart and moderate and experienced. She’s probably better prepared for the presidency than any of her rivals. Then I ask them: Let’s leave the politics aside; how do you feel about the way the Clintons ran their foundation? “Nauseated,” said one. “Atrocious,” said another. “It’s no surprise,” said a third.

And I suppose that you do have to assume the worst about the Clintons—“to be cynical” about them, as the young reporter told me. How sad. Their behavior nudges up against the precise reason Americans, in both parties, have grown sick of politicians. It’s near impossible for Hillary Clinton to go around saying, with a straight face, much less a sense of outrage, that the “deck is stacked against” everyday Americans when Bill’s partying with the deck stackers. Even if the appearances of impropriety were for good causes, shouldn’t the arrant naiveté of it all disqualify her from the presidency?
Of course, Klein feels that the Republicans would be a worse bet for the presidency. That's why the guy who so brilliantly skewered the Clintons in Primary Colors is so very disappointed now.

So much for President Obama's pretense of wanting to work together with the Republican Congress:
President Obama spent years tarring House Republicans as the cause of a “do-nothing” Congress, but House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.) has turned that critique back on him.

Obama welcomed the new Congress by issuing veto threats about once every five days, on average, McCarthy’s team points out.

“In the first 100 days alone, President Obama threatened to veto 22 bills, including 17 House-passed bills with bipartisan support,” according to a new post on the majority leader’s website. “He has now issued nearly 25 veto threats since the beginning of the new year.”

The post notes that two of those “bills were so bipartisan that they passed committee by a voice vote.”

There are quite a few commentators on the protesters and rioters in Baltimore about how what they are trying to communicate about their situation. Ian Tuttle wonders exactly what they're trying to communicate.
I am not insensible to the notion that those things could lead to riots — but drawing attention to structural injustices, to a lack of economic opportunity, or to metal in the water supply is clearly not what these particular “protesters” are trying to communicate.

Consider their targets: not government facilities responsible for the “state-sponsored violence” that the above commentators blamed for the riots, but pharmacies and shoe stores and a check-cashing service. They did not go searching for weapons to defend themselves from, in Dyson’s words, “the forces of oppression,” but for Pringles, Pumas, video games, and condoms. Under the hashtag “#BaltimoreLootCrew,” rioters have been posting photographs of their prizes. At least one user — who yesterday posted a picture of four new iPhone 6’s — has suspended his account.
There is clearly quite a bit of angry frustration, but there is also a lot of joy in destruction random businesses and stealing stuff. A lot of these rioters are trying to communicate that they like taking stuff without paying for them.

One store owner whose family had owned a sports shop for 35 years in the same location spoke up about the real losers.
Levy isn't just a store owner, he's also an employer of people living in the neighborhood who need to provide for their families. A million dollars in product were lost and employees can no longer be paid.

During an interview on The Norris and Davis Show earlier today, Levy talked about the damage to the store and to the people who work for him. The interview starts the three minute mark.

"It's terrible man. It's terrible. A lot of people lost a lot of jobs and they don't know where to go from here." he said. "The owners we’ll be okay, you know it's going to take months and months to get ourselves situated but the poor people who depend on these weekly salaries it’s a terrible thing."

Some of the same people who are in the streets rioting over a supposed lack of opportunity are the same people destroying opportunity for people in their own communities.

Along the same lines, will CVS rebuild its burned-out store that was destroyed in the riots? Eleanor Clift wonders if they'll return.
CVS was heralded for choosing to put a store in a struggling neighborhood. But did riots scare the corporation out of rebuilding?

Its burning store riveted viewers as the cable news networks covered the destruction in Baltimore. But since it’s [sic] new outpost went up in flames, CVS corporate has been very quiet.

Analysts have described how critical the pharmacy was to a poor neighborhood with few services and no supermarket. Not since CVS made the socially-conscious decision to stop selling cigarettes in its stores has its name been invoked so many times on national television.
She can't get an answer from the company as to whether they'll rebuild in the same location. Given how areas of cities burned out in riots during the 1960s have never really recovered, people are right to worry.

ABC's Jonathan Karl has been one of the toughest questioners of White House press spokesmen. He had a good question yesterday.
Thursday at The White House press briefing, ABC News chief White House correspondent Jonathan Karl questioned Obama press secretary Josh Earnest over the administration’s refusal to condemn Hillary Clinton over not complying with the disclosure agreement she had with them to report all foreign donations to the Clinton Foundation during her tenure as secretary of state.

When Earnest said no laws had been broken, a frustrated Karl asked if “out and out bribery” was the only thing that would be a problem for the White House?

Earnest would only say the Clinton Foundation is correcting the mistakes.
Offering up the defense that nothing illegal can be proven seems to be a mighty low ethical bar for the administration and Clintons to establish as their ethical guidelines.

A victory for common sense and the rule of law from the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court ruled unanimously Wednesday that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission must make "good faith" efforts to seek reconciliation before it sues a business for discrimination, under Title 7 of the Civil Rights Act. The decision was a strong rebuke to the commission, which had previously asserted that the courts had no jurisdiction over its reconciliation process.

"Congress imposed a mandatory duty on the EEOC to attempt conciliation and made that duty a precondition to filing a lawsuit. Such compulsory prerequisites are routinely enforced by courts in Title VII litigation. And though Congress gave the EEOC wide latitude to choose which 'informal methods' to use, it did not deprive courts of judicially manageable criteria by which to review the conciliation process," the court ruled in the case EEOC v. Mach Mining.

The opinion was authored by Justice Elena Kagan, an appointee of President Obama.

The case has been closely watched by business groups, since the commission's stance effectively eliminated one of the main defenses used by employers when facing a discrimination complaint. The Chamber of Commerce highlighted the case in a lengthy study published last year that argued the commission under Obama was pursuing a "scorched earth" litigation strategy against employers.
Another unanimous slap at the Obama administration position from this Court. This has become a pattern.
s the world awaits the Supreme Court’s rulings on Obamacare and gay marriage, pundits have engaged in a phony war that misses a larger story: the court’s rejection of the government’s extreme claims of unlimited federal power. Indeed, the Obama administration has already lost unanimously 20 times, having passed in its first five years the Bush DOJ’s number across two full terms (15).

While it’s still too early to make conclusions about the current Supreme Court session, in its previous three terms—effectively in the 30 months from January 2012 to June 2014—the government’s goose-egg rate was three times Bush and double Clinton (23 in eight years).

Again, those are statistics for cases in which President Obama failed to pick up even the votes of his own nominees. The overall rate looks even worse: in the last two terms, the solicitor general’s office won 39 and 55 percent of its cases, against a 50-year average of about 70 percent.

Howard Kurtz wonders when "thug" became a racist term.
The T-word, of course, was used by the first African-American president of the United States. And the White House hasn’t issued any “clarification” about that.

There’s no way that people who merely protest, or everyone in an impoverished neighborhood, should be smeared as thugs. But this whole thing strikes me as a sideshow, empty calories for the media.

What we should be debating is how police deal with urban disturbances, how to address the poverty and dysfunctional families that create fertile conditions for riots—complicated stuff that isn’t going to be neatly resolved in time for the Sunday shows.

But I guess it’s easier to beat up on people who allegedly use the wrong words—or change their minds about what words are acceptable.

Millennials don't seem to trust anyone except the military, small businesses, and the police. And those numbers on the police might not last.