Monday, June 15, 2015

Cruising the Web

So Hillary gave her big new rollout speech this weekend telling us all how she is going to fight, fight, fight for all of us. As Byron York points out, she's using the same words as she did in 2008.
The last time she ran for president, in the most intense days of her Democratic primary battle with Barack Obama, Clinton did the same "fighter" thing, and it didn't work.

"I am a fighter," Clinton said in a February 26, 2008 Democratic debate.

"I am a fighter," Clinton said in a March 7 campaign appearance in Wyoming.

"I am a fighter," Clinton said in an April 5 stop in Oregon.

"I am a fighter," Clinton said in an April 26 stop in Indiana.

And so on.

Clinton also used Saturday's speech to emphasize her determination not to quit even when facing adversity. "I think you know by now that I've been called many things by many people — 'quitter' is not one of them," she said.

But Clinton also used the "I'm not a quitter" routine in the 2008 campaign. She said it mostly toward the end of the race, when she had pretty much lost and a number of her fellow Democrats wanted her to quit so they could get on with supporting Obama for president.

Whatever the case, Clinton decided to put fighting and not quitting at the heart of her relaunch speech Saturday. No, they didn't lead to success in 2008, but maybe this time will be different.
She mocked the GOP as the party of "Yesterday," all the while she was using themes from FDR's presidency and references to her husband's presidency as she promised to continue the policies of Obama's presidency. So who is the candidate of yesterday?

And this fierce self-proclaimed fighter didn't bother to enunciate a policy on the issues du jour - presidential trade promotion authority and what to do about ISIS. A. B. Stoddard writes,
On Wednesday Obama announced a shift in his strategy for fighting the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), sending 450 additional U.S. troops to Iraq to bolster the training of defense forces there. Since announcing her plans to run for president, Clinton has said little of the burgeoning wars in Iraq and Syria, except that she was wrong to support the 2003 war in Iraq and that, in the face of ISIS gaining strength and territory, it will be up to the Iraqis to protect their own country.

On trade, Democrats supporting the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal are being slammed by the AFL-CIO and other labor groups for backing Obama on the measure. Meanwhile Clinton, who helped negotiate the agreement and promoted it during her tenure as secretary of State as “the gold standard” of trade deals, has taken little heat from Big Labor. Though it is clear she has access to every detail and Obama could use her help to pass the TPP, she continues to insist she can’t pass judgment until she sees the final product.

Clinton has worked hard to avoid the press since announcing her candidacy.
And she's such a brave fighter that she's treating journalists as if they have Ebola.
Separated from the throng of Clinton supporters, journalists shuffled forward like livestock through a cattle chute, smiling Hillary volunteers watching their every move.

Blocked by yellow tape, metal barriers, and security officers, reporters could see — but not speak to — the crowds lined up along the shoreline of New York City’s Roosevelt Island for the Democratic frontrunner’s triumphal campaign relaunch. Black SUVs with tinted windows streamed past checkpoints manned by men in suits, while journalists and supporters ran a gauntlet of airport-style security, complete with metal detectors and police bag checks.

At the Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park on the island’s southern tip, journalists were corralled into a press area fenced in by metal barriers on all four sides. Without “special clearance,” one staffer informed a reporter, mingling with the crowd was strictly forbidden.
She's such a brave fighter that she can't speak on issues of the moment and not only won't answer questions from the media, but she won't allow journalists to talk to her supposed supporters.

And now the campaign is denying access to a pool reporter, David Martosko of even though the poll of reporters was formed at the request of the Clinton campaign to have one reporter, photographer, and videographer to travel each day. The campaign is not supposed to have a say over whom is chosen. Just the type of thing to infuriate the media. You'd think these people had never run a campaign before.

Philip Klein ridicules how the Clinton campaign spins her refusal to take a position on TPA.
On ABC's "This Week" Sunday, host George Stephanopoulos pressed Clinton adviser Joel Benenson to answer a rather simple question — whether his candidate supports giving "Fast Track" authority to the president on trade deals.

Benenson tried to dismiss the debate as insider Washington "political jockeying," and said she's waiting to see what the final deal looks like.

Then he coughed up this gem: "She wants to see the final deal, she wants to make sure it protects American workers, and that's what she's fighting for."

....To recap, right now there's a major trade fight, pitting unions and progressive activists against President Obama. Most people would see "fighting" in this case as staking out a clear position, and adding her prominent voice to the debate while it's ongoing, in hopes that the final deal is closer to reflecting what she says she believes about protecting American workers. Instead, she's "fighting" by sitting at ringside and dispatching surrogates to promise that she'll take a position after the fight is over.

Is there any more concise encapsulation of the absurdity of Hillary Clinton's campaign?

Philip Klein notes the paucity of accomplishments that Hillary could tout in her speech.
Beyond that, the speech demonstrated that despite claiming decades of experience, she has little to show for it in terms of actual accomplishments — and those accomplishments she does take credit for can be easily exposed as fantasy.

"I've stood up to adversaries like Putin," she said, even though her time as secretary of state started with a botched "reset" with Russia. Is her argument going to be that Putin waited until after she left office to invade Ukraine?

She also said she "reinforced allies like Israel" even though she was harshly critical of the Israeli government as secretary of state, even having the department brag about how she berated Prime Minister Netanyahu during a phone call.

Then she offered this sad boast: "I was in the situation room on the day we got bin Laden."

I was in my apartment, and deserve just as much credit for the bin Laden operation.

Sadly, as Senator Flake fo Arizona points out, earmarks are still quite common in our budget despite Republicans claiming that they got rid of them. Republicans and Democrats are both guilty.

Kevin Hassett of AEI has produced a study taking the air out of the Wells Report in deflategate.
The Wells report’s main finding is that the Patriots balls declined in pressure more than the Colts balls did in the first half of their game, and that the decline is highly statistically significant. For the sake of argument, let’s grant this finding for now. Even still, it alone does not prove misconduct. There are, after all, two possibilities. The first is that the Patriots balls declined too much. The second — overlooked by the Wells report — is that the Colts balls declined too little.

The latter possibility appears to be more likely. The Wells report notes the expected pressure for the footballs at halftime in the Patriots-Colts game, factoring in the decline in pressure to be expected when a ball, inflated in a warm room, has been moved to a cold outdoor field. If the Patriots deflated their balls, their pressure levels at halftime should have fallen below the expected level, while the Colts balls at halftime should have hovered around that level.

But when we analyzed the data provided in the Wells report, we found that the Patriots balls declined by about the expected amount, while the Colts balls declined by less. In fact, the pressure of the Colts balls was statistically significantly higher than expected. Contrary to the report, the significant difference between the changes in pressure of the two teams’ balls was not because the pressure of the Patriots balls was too low, but because that of the Colts balls was too high.
If you are interested in the statistics behind their conclusion, you can read the study here.

Yet another example of what an immoral institution the United Nations is.
A United Nations committee recently granted official observer status to the Palestinian Return Center and denied it to a group called Freedom Now. Welcome to the latest U.N. exercise in undermining human rights.

The Palestinian Return Center advocates for Palestinian refugees by, among other things, hosting Hamas leaders at conferences. For its ties to the terror group, Israel designated it an “unlawful association” in 2010. Freedom Now gives pro bono legal help to such political prisoners as China’s Liu Xiaobo and Iran’s Abdolfattah Soltani. Vaclav Havel, the Czech dissident-turned-statesman, was Freedom Now’s chairman until his death in 2011.

Freedom Now applied in 2009 to the U.N.’s Economic and Social Council (Ecosoc) for “consultative status,” which brings official credentials, access to buildings and other practical conveniences within the U.N. But the Ecosoc committee that handles these requests is dominated, like so many other U.N. bodies, by dictatorships. So for six years diplomats from China, Cuba, Iran, Sudan, Russia, Venezuela, Azerbaijan and other tyrannies kept Freedom Now’s application in limbo.
What is sad is how so many buy into the idealistic vision of what the United Nations could be instead of realizing what a sinkhole of corruption it really is.

The WSJ reminds us of one of the great moments of many great moments from Milton Friedman - the moment when he schooled Phil Donahue on greed.
Phil Donahue: When you see around the globe the maldistribution of wealth, the desperate plight of millions of people in underdeveloped countries, when you see so few haves and so many have-nots, when you see the greed and the concentration of power, did you ever have a moment of doubt about capitalism and whether greed’s a good idea to run on?

Milton Friedman: Well, first of all, tell me, is there some society you know that doesn’t run on greed? You think Russia doesn’t run on greed? You think China doesn’t run on greed? What is greed? Of course none of us are greedy. It’s only the other fellow who’s greedy. The world runs on individuals pursuing their separate interests. The great achievements of civilization have not come from government bureaus. Einstein didn’t construct his theory under order from a bureaucrat. Henry Ford didn’t revolutionize the automobile industry that way. In the only cases in which the masses have escaped from the kind of grinding poverty you’re talking about, the only cases in recorded history are where they have had capitalism and largely free trade. If you want to know where the masses are worst off, it’s exactly in the kinds of societies that depart from that. So that the record of history is absolutely crystal clear that there is no alternative way, so far discovered, of improving the lot of the ordinary people that can hold a candle to the productive activities that are unleashed by a free enterprise system.

Donahue: But it seems to reward not virtue as much as ability to manipulate the system.

Friedman: And what does reward virtue? . . . I think you’re taking a lot of things for granted. Just tell me where in the world you find these angels who are going to organize society for us.
You can start watching the interview here.

Just in case you thought Bill Clinton had changed, he recently displayed the same smarmy virtuosity that gave the definition to the adjective Clintonian in the first place.
Bill Clinton sat for an interview with Bloomberg News on Wednesday to talk about, among other things, the controversy surrounding the Clinton Foundation and his wife's 2016 presidential bid. And, in the course of that conversation, he let loose with this stunner: "Has anybody proved that we did anything objectionable? No."

Um, what?

This is the latest in a string of statements by the former president that suggest he still doesn't grasp why the Clinton Foundation questions continue to swirl and, because of that lack of understanding, remains unable to effectively parry them.
Remember, in Clintonworld, if nothing has been proven against them, well, then they're as clean as the driven snow. Chris Cillizza is not impressed.
Clinton's argument boils down to the idea of a burden of proof. As in, if there's something truly objectionable in what the foundation has done, then someone should prove it. Legally speaking, Clinton's right. If you think he or the foundation broke some sort of law, then you should need to provide conclusive evidence of when, where, why, what and how.

But of course, what we are mostly talking about when it comes to the Clinton Foundation is the gray area between contributions made by donors and decisions made by the foundation that benefited those people. Proving that sort of quid pro quo in a legal setting is virtually impossible barring a smoking gun -- like an e-mail that says: "Mr. X gave $300,000. Let's fund his project now."

In politics, however, gray areas can be exploited to great advantage by your political opponents. Raising questions about the timing between donations to the Clinton Foundation and decisions made that lined the pockets of those donors is totally within the bounds of acceptable -- and effective -- negative messaging. Republicans don't need to prove that the Clinton Foundation did anything untoward. The burden of proof that there was no wrongdoing lies with the Clinton Foundation.

Barack Obama still seeks to perpetuate the myth that Obamacare is working. Steve Moore writes at Forbes to refute every one of Obama's claims. For example,
In March, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated that Obamacare will result in a total of 1 million fewer people enrolled in employment-based coverage in 2015, increasing to 8 million fewer enrolled in employment-based covered by 2018. That’s a lot of people who haven’t been able to keep the health insurance that they like....

In March, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated that Obamacare will result in a total of 1 million fewer people enrolled in employment-based coverage in 2015, increasing to 8 million fewer enrolled in employment-based covered by 2018. That’s a lot of people who haven’t been able to keep the health insurance that they like.

And here is aguide to the "Hillary Clinton's 15 biggest scandals." And these are only the recent ones and don't include ones from the 1990s.But hey, don't look there, let's focus instead on Marco Rubio's college loans and mortgage.

The world of everyone gets a participation ribbon has now spread to handing out valedictorian honors where one Ohio high school has now honored 72 students with valedictorian honors.

I know you're all pretty broken up about the demise of the meaningless Iowa Straw Poll which the Iowa Republican Party just cancelled. However, Nate Silver has a legitimate question. If the Iowa Straw Poll is so useless, why should we still have the Iowa caucuses?
t consists of a tiny and unrepresentative sample of voters in a small, overwhelmingly white state. Its importance depends almost entirely on the perceptions of the political elites and the news media. The spin after the vote often matters as much as the vote itself. Its rules can be surprisingly informal, to the point that baked goods are sometimes exchanged for the promise of a vote. And it has a terrible track record at predicting the GOP’s presidential nominee.

If you’ve been following the news, you might assume that I’m referring to the Iowa Straw Poll, which the Iowa Republican Party decided to cancel on Friday. But all the points I raised above also apply to the Iowa caucus
I'd be quite happy to get rid of the Iowa caucuses. They're unrepresentative and slanted against all but the most activist and motivated voters. Your average voter doesn't want to go spend a couple of hours on a snowy winter evening participating in the caucuses. If people are so upset about people having to show a photo ID to vote, how about having to pay for a babysitter in order to spend the evening at the caucuses?

Old Economy Steve - and how he infuriates young people today.