Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Cruising the Web

Here's a depressing thought: P. J. O'Rourke argues that "Donald Trump is America."
But Trump will be the first candidate to—like the American legend that he is—tell tall tales about all the money he’s got. Trump is a financial Paul Bunyan, Johnny Appleseed, and Davey Crockett rolled into one, according to Trump.

If Trump’s critics don’t think this is typical of modern Americans, they haven’t looked at our online dating profiles.

Also typical of modern Americans is Trump’s bad taste. True, he doesn’t dress the way the rest of us do—like a nine-year-old in twee T-shirt, bulbous shorts, boob shoes, and league-skunked sports team cap. And Trump doesn’t weigh 300 pounds or have multiple piercings or visible ink. He puts his own individual stamp on gaucherie. And we like it. We’re a country that cherishes being individuals as much as we cherish being gauche.

Trump’s suits have a cut and sheen as if they came from the trunk sale of a visiting Bombay tailor staying in a cheap hotel in Trump’s native Queens and taking a nip between fittings. Trump wears neckties in Outer Borough colors. And, Donald, the end of your necktie belongs up around your belt buckle, not between your knees and your nuts. Trump’s haircut makes Kim Jong Un laugh.

Americans appreciate bad taste or America wouldn’t look the way America does. And the way America looks is due, in no small part, to buildings Trump built....

Trump’s chief domestic policy will be to be on TV. That’s one more reason he’ll get elected. We can relate to Trump. The first and foremost goal of all Americans is to be on TV.

As President Trump will be able to be on TV all the time, 24/7. Just doing his hair in the makeup room during commercial breaks should keep him too busy to push other birdbrain domestic policies the way some presidents have. And he can yell “You’re fired!” as much as he wants. It will make for a healthy turnover in cabinet appointees such as Ivanka, Dennis Rodman, Larry King, and Vince McMahon.

And Trump understands the economy. He’ll push America’s economic growth forward the same way he pushed his own—with debt and more debt. Average American household debt is more than $225,000. The average American family’s credit card debt is almost $16,000. Trump restructured $3.5 billion in business debt and $900 million in personal debt between 1991 and 1994. We Americans know a leader when we see one. And we love debt. Otherwise America’s national debt wouldn’t have gone from $15 billion in 1930 to $18 trillion today. Tomorrow, with Trump in the Oval Office, the sky’s the limit.

Jim Geraghty wonders at how progressives can still argue for more and more government control of different aspects of American life even in the face of more and more evidence of the failures of government.
The story of the Obama era is the story of one colossal federal-government train wreck after another. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms shipped guns to Mexican drug cartels in Fast & Furious., allegedly designed to promote openness and accountability, ended up filled with bad data.

The stimulus “was riddled with a massive labor scheme that harmed workers and cheated unsuspecting American taxpayers.”

The president stood in front of the White House, urging the American public to use when it wasn’t working.

The U.S. Secret Service, which began the Obama presidency by allowing the Salahis into the White House and stumbled through one humiliating scandal of unprofessional behavior after another.

The Obama administration toppled the government of Libya -- without any supporting act of Congress -- then sent Americans there and ignored the security requests from our ambassador.

The NSA hired Ed Snowden and gave him the keys to the kingdom after a month.

Veterans died, waiting for care, while the branch offices of the VA assured Washington everything is fine.

We traded terrorists for a prisoner, sealing the deal with an assurance to the public that Bowe Bergdahl “served with honor and distinction.”

The IRS data breach. The postal-service data breach. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration hack. The data breach at federal contractor US Investigations Services, which performs background checks on DHS, ICE and border-patrol units.

And now, the epic OPM hack.

We are governed by progressives who have an infinite faith in the federal government’s ability to manage enormously complicated tasks and almost no interest in ensuring the government actually does those tasks well.
But when do actual facts change the views of those with ideological blinders.

And here's today's Clinton scandal.
When Condoleezza Rice headlined a 2009 fundraising luncheon for the Boys and Girls Club of Long Beach, she collected a $60,000 speaking fee, then donated almost all of it back to the club, according to multiple sources familiar with the club’s finances.

Hillary Clinton was not so generous to the small charity, which provides after-school programs to underprivileged children across the Southern California city. Clinton collected $200,000 to speak at the same event five years later, but she donated nothing back to the club, which raised less than half as much from Clinton’s appearance as from Rice’s, according to the sources and tax filings.

Instead, Clinton steered her speaking fee to her family’s own sprawling $2 billion charity.

The Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation, which has come under scrutiny for its fundraising and fiscal management, has taken in as much as $11.7 million in payments from other nonprofit groups. The money was paid for speeches given by Hillary Clinton; her husband, the former president; and their daughter, Chelsea Clinton, since the end of Bill Clinton’s presidency in 2001, according to a POLITICO analysis of a list of speeches voluntarily released last month by the foundation.
but then she's all about helping the little guy, the "everyday Americans," as she calls them. Well, except when there is money to be made. Then she's got her true priorities straight.

The definition of racism keeps expanding. Now if you explicitly say you're not interested in race, you are being racist. My alma mater, UCLA, has a faculty training guide warning professors against certain newly objectionable phrases.
The guide, first exposed by the student-run The College Fix, uses the same argument to condemn a number of seemingly innocuous statements, such as:

“I believe the most qualified person should get the job.”
“Affirmative action is racist.”
“Everyone can succeed in this society, if they work hard enough.”
“When I look at you, I don’t see color.”
“I don’t believe in race.”
“Gender plays no part in who we hire.”
Such sentences now can be regarded as micro-aggressions that might cause students to wig out and be unable to learn.
But [former UCLA professor] Groseclose believes political correctness has jumped the shark when it can be considered a harmful “micro-aggression” to say something opposed to racism. He said the climate at universities is now so bad that even some liberal professors operate in fear.

“Just before I left UCLA, a liberal colleague and I talked about how disgusting the new micro-aggression policy is. I asked him if he ever worried about being dragged before some investigatory board via some trumped up charges. He responded, ‘That’s why, around here, I just try to minimize my contact with other humans.’”
Just what we want - professors who try to minimize their contact with students. Elizabeth Price Foley comments on Instapundit.
Alumni of the UC system should immediately cease wasting their charitable dollars on such an anti-intellectual, fascist institution. And any intelligent young person should avoid it like the plague. The system has clearly been captured by individuals with micro-brains possessing micro-tolerance and micro-confidence. It is–like too many institutions of “higher” learning–a place where critical thinking goes to die.
Well, I can totally cut my donations to UCLA if I'd ever donated a cent to them.

This is how crazy the government effort to punish parents for not having 100% control of their children has become.
Child Protective Services is in the hot seat again — this time in Florida, where officials placed two brothers into foster care and then in the care of a relative after one, 11, was found playing basketball alone in his own yard.

“This story is so incredible, some people almost can’t believe it—and I can see why,” writes Lenore Skenazy of Free-Range Parenting, who first broke this story last week when the mom, who has requested anonymity, contacted her for advice. “It is as crazy as Maryland’s Child Protective Services accusing Danielle and Alexander Meitiv of negligence for letting their kids walk home from the park in Silver Spring. Unfortunately, sometimes this kind of thing happens.”
So government authorities, having solved all other problems, now think it is better to remove children from their parents and put them in foster care rather than simply talk to the parents and figure out that the boy was never in any danger at any time.
“We still do not have our children, we are fighting for our own freedom and due to the nature of my employment I am no longer employed,” she wrote. “My son was in his own yard playing basketball, not in the street or at the park. The authorities claim he had no access to water or shelter. We have an open shed in the back yard and 2 working sinks and 2 hoses. They said he had no food. He ate his snacks already. He had no bathroom, but the responding officer found our yard good enough to relieve himself in while our son sat in a police car alone. In his own yard, in a state, Florida, that has no minimum age for children to be alone.”

....But as far as the case sounding shocking to many, it shouldn’t, according to David DeLugas, an attorney with the National Association of Parents (who has also confirmed the Florida story through court documents and communications with the family’s lawyer). “This happens more often than people imagine,” he tells Yahoo Parenting. “Those who are in disbelief I think just don’t want to believe it. I think it’s because people can’t fathom that, in our society, CPS wouldn’t do this without good reason.”

But as we’ve seen time and time again, DeLugas notes, that isn’t always the case. “But we should be asking: Is [being put into foster care] more damaging to the kid than what would’ve occurred with him playing in the yard? He wasn’t hurt, he wasn’t in distress, he was not in imminent harm. So why are they police doing anything? Why?” When police are called in this type of situation, he notes, they may want to just swing by and see if the kid in question is okay — and if he or she is, then go on their merry way. But what tends to happen in many cases, he says, is that the call from a neighbor “unleashes this crazy scenario that has no benefit to society.”
For people of my generation, this is so very alien. I can well remember leaving my house in the morning at about this age and not returning except for lunch and then going out wandering the neighborhood for another few hours. Meanwhile, I wonder how many children who are already in foster care slip through the cracks regarding the quality of the care they're receiving there.

Just in case you had any doubt, Harry Enten uses one chart to explain Donald Trump isn't a real candidate.

Anthony Sacramone writes at Intercollegiate Review at how progressives are killing comedy.
The ’60s generation that was tired of the phony, the hypocrite, the poseur wanted to hear the language of the streets, because that was deemed “authentic” and spoke to the real experience of “the people.” It wasn’t the stage English of white elites. The Left understood the power of language, even of a single word. But history is fickle, and that generation has given birth to one that has swapped out Carlin’s seven dirty words, with which it is quite comfortable, for others that reflect unacceptable attitudes toward power. Regardless of humorous intent or context, such attitudes—denoted and denounced as sexist, racist, homophobic, transphobic, Islamophobic—are likely to get a comic offender booted and boycotted.
He wonders how Lenny Bruce would be treated today. I think we all know the answer to that.

John Podhoretz tries to figure out why other candidates in both parties worry so much about Marco Rubio.
But here’s the real thing about Rubio. I’ve listened to him and watched him talk, both in private sessions and on the Senate floor in speeches you can see on YouTube.

He is, without question, the most naturally gifted off-the-cuff political speaker I have ever seen.

His fluency on subjects ranging from conflicts in the South China Sea to flexible community-college credits is, quite simply, dazzling.

His rivals will go after him with the charge that this is all glibness — and they may score with the charge. He’s a talker, they will say; I’m a doer. Still, most of campaigning is nothing but talk.

Speeches, interviews, debates; talk is what they do.

It’s better to be a good talker than a bad talker, and it stands to reason that it’s therefore better to be a surreally great talker than a good one
Here's another example of how the skills for campaigning for president don't equate with the skills needed for the presidency. We now have a president whose main qualification seemed to be that people liked his speeches and found him inspirational. he hasn't been able to translate that ability to inspire to lead to support for his policies or to persuade opponents to compromise with him. Or to win support from those in foreign countries for his policies. Being a good speaker might well win votes, but it doesn't translate into being a great leader. Rubio needs to demonstrate that he is more than a great speaker.

James Taranto notes the inherent contradiction in Hillary Clinton's message.
Bill Clinton was running against a Republican incumbent whose party had held the White House for three terms. Hillary Clinton is running to succeed a two-term Democratic incumbent in whose administration she herself served. His message to economically aggrieved voters, right or wrong, was fully congruent: Put a Democrat in the White House and your fortunes will improve. Hers verges on self-contradiction: The Democrats have been doing a great job, and it’s time for a change.

After the New York launch speech, Mrs. Clinton went to Iowa, where, as the Washington Post notes, she urged supporters to “be part of our effort to take back our country.” As the Post’s Philip Rucker asked in a tweet: “Take it back from whom?”

When Tea Party types spoke of “taking back” America, Democrats and their media supporters accused them of blowing a “dog whistle” meant to arouse racial prejudice against President Obama. Mrs. Clinton is likely to escape that charge. Still, when George H.W. Bush sought the presidency in 1988—the only time in the past 85 years that a nonincumbent of the president’s party has done so successfully—he did not employ the rhetoric of “taking back” the country.

This is absolutely horrifying.
Child sacrifice is a disturbing and widespread phenomenon in Uganda, serious enough that the government has established a special taskforce.

Activists say child sacrifice is not about tradition, but greed as people seek a quick route to wealth or power and with elections due in 2016 they worry killings are set to increase....

"Now we are going into elections, you will find that there are so many Ugandans, even high profile people, going to witch doctors' shrines," said Binoga.

"Some of them will be so desperate that if they're told to win a seat as an MP 'You must sacrifice a child', they'll do it."

Binoga said there have been five reported cases of child sacrifice so far this year and nine last year, although those numbers are disputed with activists saying the actual figures are higher.

Katie Pavlich notes that President Obama has been consistently anti-police since the beginning of his presidency.

Bret Stephens terms the Democrats today as the New Know Nothings when it comes to foreign policy.
The Democratic turn against trade is part of the wider progressive drift away from the centrist moorings that anchored it in the 1990s and made it a winner. But that drift is also part of the liberal retreat from the world, and from the idea that the U.S. should serve as an economic, political and security anchor for free nations everywhere.

Does it matter to Democrats that TPP is also the economic centerpiece of the “pivot to Asia” that marked Hillary Clinton’s tenure at the State Department? Does it matter to them that China would like nothing more than to see TPP fail, so it can step in with its own version of a Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere? Does it even matter to Mrs. Clinton, or has she also moved on?

As with trade so with terrorism. The old liberal critique of the war in Iraq was that it was a distraction from the real threat to the U.S., al Qaeda and its jihadist affiliates above all.

But now al Qaeda has ceded pride of terrorist place to Islamic State, which is drawing thousands of recruits from the West while gaining ground from Afghanistan to Libya—and Democrats can barely muster a shrug. ISIS rated a glancing reference in Mrs. Clinton’s big campaign speech on Saturday, but that was it. Mr. Obama thinks the effort is worth deploying some additional trainers to Iraq, but not a single combat soldier.

It’s not that Democrats don’t have thoughts or position papers on Iraq, ISIS, the Mideast. It’s just that they don’t particularly care about any of it. Mentally, they’ve checked out of the great-power game. Their world view boils down to a Gini coefficient....

Yet the notable thing here isn’t the behavior of the administration. It’s the indifference of rank-and-file Democrats. Jimmy Carter was a congenital appeaser but at least he had Scoop Jackson to worry about, along with the millions of voters who would become Reagan Democrats. Mr. Obama, by contrast, only has Chuck Schumer. The rest of the Democratic Party seems to have persuaded itself that the wisest foreign policy is to have less of one. Foreign policy begins—and pretty much ends—at home.