Monday, August 10, 2015

Cruising the Web

I just can't get the idea that Trump supporters have that the way to fight party leadership and supposed RINOs in the party is to cheer on a guy who was a Democrat up to a few years ago, brags about bribing Democratic politicians with campaign donations, supports a single-payer health care plan simply because he is s supposed truth-teller whose negotiating strengths will be enough to deal with Putin, the Mexicans, China, and Iran. Yet they also believe that this tough guy can be harmed by a few questions about his record from debate anchors. Apparently, Megyn Kelly had the same thought commenting, "If you can't get past me, how are you going to get past Putin."

Jonah Goldberg makes this very point with regard to complaints about the opening question asking the candidates to raise their hands if they wouldn't foreswear a run as an independent.
I don’t have much use for defenses of Donald Trump in general, but the one I have the least patience for is that the opening question to all the candidates of whether they would support the eventual GOP nominee and forgo a third-party run was “unfair.”

Just to set the stage: This was literally the stage — like the physical stage — of the next Republican convention. This was the first debate in the contest for the nomination to lead the Republican party. Donald Trump is the frontrunner in the polls for that nomination and he has, several times in recent weeks, suggested he might take his marbles and go if he’s not the nominee. But it was unfair to ask him about it?

Imagine there’s an election for your high-school chess club or your local Shriners group or the Regional Association of Men Who Eat Over the Sink (I’m treasurer). And one guy has been saying over the last couple weeks that if he doesn’t get elected the next president he will quit this organization and set up a rival one. You don’t think it’s fair to ask him about that?

But wait, as an oppo-researcher says to his boss when playing him a video of a Debbie Wasserman Schultz press conference, “Hold on. It gets dumber.”

Contrary to what you might have read over the urinal at Mother Jones, Bret Baier doesn’t work for the GOP. So even if you think it’s unfair for a Republican to expect an answer to that question — which is crazy talk — you have to have your head so far up Donald Trump’s red-velvet-lined ass you can see the glow of the nickel slot machines, to think it’s out of bounds for a journalist to ask that question.

And by the way, what’s up with the whining? All I ever hear from Trump supporters is how “he fights” and “he doesn’t back down” and — of course — “you just don’t get it.”

Well, if it’s too mean to ask this “fighter” to hold up his hand to answer a question he basically begged the world to ask him, is he really deserving of the label?

Given that he is today's front-runner, he should be able to withstand tough questions. As Carly Fiorina pointed out, Chris Wallace also asked Trump a tough question, but Trump didn't attack him. And it shouldn't be a surprise that those questions revolve around his record as both a businessman and public figure who has made many boorish comments about women. Long before he got into this year's race, he had been known for saying ugly and sexist things about women's looks. So don't believe his claims about being phenomenal to women. Read his record of things he's said and how he's treated beauty contestants. This is not being non-PC, that is being a boor. And it shouldn't matter if he made the comments about Rosie O'Donnell, Cher, or Megyn Kelly. He couldn't knock Kelly's looks so he made a comment that was clearly about PMS being responsible for her asking a perfectly legitimate question about his comments about women. It took him a day, but he came up with the defense that he was talking about her nose. Come on! If that was his purpose, why wouldn't he have said nose when he said eyes? Why talk about blood at all? Would his defenders be so quick to defend Bill Clinton from commenting on TV about how a woman would make a pretty picture on her knees? Would they accept such comments about their mothers, wives, sisters, or daughters? Why does this one boor get a pass.

As Jonah Goldberg writes, "rudeness is not a conservative principle."
This is as good a time as any to make a simple point, one I make to young conservative activists all the time. Just because being rude or crude is un-PC that is not, in itself, a defense of being rude or crude. You would think social conservatives in particular wouldn’t lose sight of this. But many have, at least going by my email and twitter feed. In the debate, Trump defended his long record of piggish comments about women on the grounds that we don’t have time for political correctness. I agree with that. But surely we have time for a modicum of good manners? We are now in the crazy stage where people are shouting at me that I (or Charles Krauthammer, or George Will or Erick Ericson or Kevin Williamson) must be a liberal if I don’t support Trump. Never mind that the objective evidence leans overwhelmingly that support for Trump puts your conservative convictions in doubt. Are we really going to go down the insane path of saying that real conservatives must abandon good manners and respect for women to demonstrate their purity? Count me out of that nonsense.

And, even if you yourself think Trump’s comments are funny or entertaining or not that big a deal or just a gaffe, at least ponder for a second about whether you think they will help Republicans win the presidential election. Everyone loves Reagan. Everyone says we need a great communicator. Well, the point of being a great communicator is to communicate. That is to say, it is to persuade people. If you think that Trump is the right guy for that project, you’re the one who just doesn’t get it.
And if the goal is to win the election with someone who can communicate a powerful message, just imagine how well Trump would do with female voters, especially going against a female candidate. I'm as opposed to PC shackles on language as any other conservative, but one can bemoan what political correctness has done to our culture and still object to someone being a crude boor in public.

And going to war with Fox News and Megyn Kelly just doesn't seem like a winning strategy in a GOP nomination fight. It might work while there are so many candidates among whom voters can split their vote, but that won't always be the case. And remember that the people who come out to vote in caucuses and primaries are the most active and engaged of partisan voters. There are likely to be fewer of them who relish supporting someone who keeps threatening to run as an independent even if it throws the vote to Hillary.

And the irony is how Trump owes Fox for its constant treatment of him as a serious political figure over the years on shows like Hannity and Fox and Friends. It is only when the more serious journalists at Fox treat him like a true candidate for the nomination by asking him the sorts of questions any front-runner, especially one with such a problematic history of obnoxious statements and policy flip-flops, could expect to get. That opening section of the debate was composed of questions probing each candidate's weak spots. Candidates need to be able to withstand such tough questions and GOP voters need to see how they do before we pick a nominee. The questions I objected to were the ones that gratuitously pitted one candidate against another when the journalist asked a question and then mentioned that another candidate had said something differently.

I'd like to hear all those in the media and politics who derided Fox as an illegitimate pretense of a news channel to acknowledge that there are serious journalists there who take a much more "fair and balanced" approach to political coverage than other news shows. There has always been a bifurcation at Fox between the blowhard opinion shows like Hannity and O'Reilly and the straight news shows like Special Report and the Sunday show. Can anyone imagine a universe in which MSNBC would put on a Democratic debate and open up with similar sorts of questions aimed at the candidates' weak spots. Or the rest of the MSM?

There are many, many reasons to oppose Trump. I'd prefer to ground objections on his business record and policy flip flops. But he keeps saying these things that become major kerfuffles and distract everyone from the real issues of the day and so the question devolves back to his character and demeanor, neither of which are political pluses.

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John Kass is celebrating the demise of Donald Trump. Perhaps Kass is being a bit premature, but it is amusing.
There is no cure for the Touch of Death, or Dim Mak as it's known in those cheesy martial arts movies.

Legend and comic books tell us that it is a precise and forceful strike, with delayed yet fatal result, sometimes taking days or weeks to do its work.

It is subtle, quick, almost unseen, and usually delivered by a monk or some warrior priest with a topknot. Uma Thurman used it to great effect in "Kill Bill: Vol 2." When she was done, she flashed a smirk of wistful sadness.

That's what happened to Donald Trump's presidential campaign, which received the Touch of Death from Megyn Kelly, the warrior priestess of Fox News....

But before some of you embarrass yourselves writing angry letters to my editor denouncing me as a liberal Democrat, consider this:

Ask women what they think about it. Don't tell them Trump said it. Tell them a powerful man said it, a rich and arrogant man who gets what he wants. You'll get your answer. Their eyes will tell you. They'll take those eyes with them to the polls.

Just imagine the Democratic commercial, with Kelly's question, the line about a woman on her knees set off in large, bold type on the screen, Trump in red, white and blue, bloviating, an angry puffer fish puffing about political correctness, and later his ugly "blood coming out of her wherever" line.

If by some miracle Trump is the GOP nominee in 2016, all that will remain of the Republican Party will be the bleached skeleton of the elephant. Maybe a couple buzzards.

That Hillary Clinton would be the beneficiary of such TV spots is beyond ironic, since Bill Clinton's priapic presidency hasn't been completely erased from the public mind.

But the Clintons wouldn't run it. Surrogates would.

Trump climbed in the polls by playing the establishment critic, even as he served the establishment's interests by sucking up the media oxygen from true conservatives like Sens. Rand Paul, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.

He plays the tough guy. But he couldn't handle it when Kelly asked him a straight and fair question, without any of that Uma Thurman attitude from the "Kill Bill" movies.

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And now he's attacking Fiorina.
Has he ever criticized Hillary Clinton? I can't remember anything he has said about her that is half as critical as what he's said about Republicans. Maybe he senses that there are quite a few Republicans who will think that if they want a person with business experience, albeit with some notable failures, and no political experience who is notable for talking straight and making strong points, Carly Fiorina would be a better bet than he would be.

Byron York reports from the RedState Gathering that the nine candidates who did speak there did exceptionally well.
A parade of Republican presidential candidates marched through — Chris Christie, Rick Perry, Bobby Jindal, Marco Rubio, Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee, Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush, Scott Walker — and not one of them bombed. Not one underwhelmed, disappointed, or mailed it in. Instead, the GOP hopefuls were sharp, fired-up, and focused, even as the embarrassments of the latest Trump controversy threatened to overshadow it all.

Why were they so good? Here's a theory: The candidates prepared like crazy for the recent Cleveland debate, honing their arguments, finding the most effective way to express their positions. Most of that material was never used — there was no time, given the constraints of a big-field debate. Plus, they were terrified of making a mistake in front of the huge Fox News audience. So now, with all that preparation, and with more time — and without the crushing pressure and nerves of the debate — they're letting go with their newly-polished best stuff.

Iran just can't stop making things difficult for President Obama. First they send the commander of the Quds Force to Moscow to buy weapons in defiance of a UN travel ban. Apparently, the Iranian government doesn't give a flip for a UN travel ban. And they sent him just 10 days after the agreement was announced that included lifting the arms embargo on Iran and days before Kerry testified that Soleimani would never be allowed to be relieved of sanctions. Now a senior Iranian official is comfortable mocking Preisident Obama's denial that the Iranians really believe in "Death to America."
A senior Iranian official close to the Supreme Leader recently mocked President Obama’s remarks about the recently signed nuclear accord as “bragging” and accused the U.S. leader of being “under an illusion” about the Islamic Republic’s hate for America, according to translation of Persian-language comments performed by the CIA’s Open Source Center.

Brigadier General Mohammad Ali Asudi, an adviser to the Supreme Leader and official in the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), lashed out at Obama for claiming that the recently inked nuclear accord would moderate Iran and bring it closer to the United States and other Western countries.

“If Obama opens his ears he can hear the voices of millions of Iranians who shout, ‘Death to America’ on various occasions,” such as the Feb.11 anniversary of Iran’s Islamic Revolution, which brought hardliners into office, Asudi said, according to Iran’s state-controlled Mehr News Agency.

Obama “seems to be under an illusion, and when someone is under an illusion he does not know what he is saying,” the IRGC leader said, adding that Obama has been “bragging” about the deal and Iran’s intentions.

Asudi pushed back against a speech earlier this week by Obama in which he claimed that Iran’s anti-American sentiment exists solely among hardliners and not the entire Iranian population.

Asudi claimed that this is simply not true.

“The people of Iran from any strata or tendency will never forget America’s crimes and know that the blood of the Iranian youth and nation is on their [Americans] hands from before the revolution until now,” Asudi said, according to the Open Source Center’s translation.

The president’s comments are meant to keep “the Zionists and the Republicans happy,” Asudi added, noting that he believes America will violate the nuclear agreement in the near future.
So Iran figures they can flip the Obama administration off and not suffer any penalty. The administration is just complaisant to anything Iran does.

Mike Gonzalez at The Daily Signal identifies Obama's foreign policy legacy.
By praising Ethiopia’s repressive regime for being “democratically elected” last week, President Obama was driving home once again something that should be abundantly clear by now: His administration marks a radical departure from previous ones when it comes to democracy promotion.

On the contrary, the Obama legacy will be one of propping up dictatorial regimes around the world. His praise for the government of Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn merely took to Africa what Obama and his foreign policy team have already done on a grander scale in Iran, Cuba and Burma.

To be sure, President Obama was standing next to Desalegn at a joint press conference in Addis Ababa when he spoke. Maybe he didn’t want to be a bad guest. And the president did add that the Ethiopian government has “more work to do.” After a slew of criticism at home, he later also questioned why African leaders cling to office rather than leave after their terms are completed.

But Obama didn’t have to go out of his way to call Desalegn “democratically elected,” let alone do it twice. Nor did he have to make excuses for Desalegn’s government’s horrendous human rights record by recalling the country’s past hardship and the relative infancy of its constitution.

Before he left for Africa, human rights activists and think-tanks had called on Obama to use his trip to promote economic and political freedom—something the president did only in the mildest of ways.

The Ethiopian government, for the record, has been roundly criticized by all major human rights organizations for holding sham elections in May in which Desalegn’s Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF) claimed to have won 100 percent of the vote....

President Obama seems to have very little time for dissidents who fight brutal regimes in troubled lands. The reasons for that are many. My Heritage Foundation colleague Joshua Meservey, an Africa expert, brings up two when he tells me:

President Obama seems uncomfortable with democracy promotion for two reasons. First, he wants to distance himself from President George W. Bush’s agenda, a significant plank of which was democracy promotion. Second, I think he is a product of a certain liberal worldview that believes the U.S.’s and West’s past sins, such as slavery and the Crusades, disqualify them from pushing their values abroad, as doing so implies that the U.S.-led West’s model is superior.

Meservey is right, except what liberals don’t seem to get is that they are turning on its head one of the huge achievements of classical liberalism: the Enlightenment promotion of the idea that some rights are natural, and thus universal.

The 18th-century Enlightenment was all about the universal applicability of such natural rights as life, liberty and the pursuit of property. Except that to modern liberals, the Enlightenment was all about dead white men, so promoting their ideas is culturally insensitive. Ironically, they resemble in this sense the conservatives of the 18th century, who shared Edmund Burke’s belief in each nation’s particularism.

Only up to a point, of course. Liberals still want to push their pet causes on others. Unfortunately, these don’t include democracy or traditional human rights.

I'm not all that impressed with Senator Schumer coming out against the Iranian deal. I suspect he did so only after being sure that the Democrats had the vote to block a veto override. But this is typical pettiness from the Obama team.

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Politico discusses how the debate allowed Marco Rubio to step out from Jeb's shadow.
ut the difference between the two was that Rubio, as he did at the start of the debate, parlayed conflict-driven questions he didn’t want to answer into statements about his candidacy. Judging by the applause, he inspired. Bush didn’t.

And many longtime Jeb fans, friends and former employees were disappointed, particularly in Florida where they remember the former two-term governor as the Florida GOP’s alpha dog, the center of attention and deference. For a decade, he was the tallest or smartest or most-powerful man in the room – if not all three. Comfortable in his own skin, self-assured of what he believed and how he could persuade, Bush could make a convincing case by stuffing hard data in an argument packed with sound logic.

That man was hard to discern last night, except during a brief moment where he cogently defended Common Core.

“Yesterday’s Jeb Bush was Marco Rubio last night,” said one Bush backer who worked in state government under the former governor. “That kills me. And it’s gotta kill Jeb.”

Meanwhile, the Democrats are facing their own problems with the Black Lives Matter folks. They need Obama-level turnout among African Americans so they can't afford to not seem sufficiently obsequious on racial issues. Black activists are fed up with Democrats taking them for granted. Just this weekend Black Lives Matters activists shut down a Bernie Sanders Seattle event. We'll see if the activists have the gumption to disturb one of Hillary Clinton's events.

Kirsten Powers takes on her own party for reflexively defending Planned Parenthood without regard for what has been uncovered about selling baby body parts after abortions.
But in the sordid tale of strategic crushing of the unborn to better harvest their hearts, lungs and livers, many Democrats have incredibly cast an organization with a roughly $1.3 billion annual budget in the role of the innocent and defenseless. Hillary Clinton emerged as Planned Parenthood’s highest profile protector Monday, decrying the “assault” against her allegedly helpless campaign donors.

The Democratic Party shilling for barbarism — whether by politicians, liberal media outlets, union officials or unrestricted abortion advocates — is not likely to be viewed favorably by future generations. These Democrats will be remembered for demonizing the activists who lifted the veil on a previously sanitized process and for seeking restraining orders to silence truth tellers. They will be remembered for publishing dehumanizing decrees — as The New Republic did — that people stop criticizing Planned Parenthood because as a medical matter, “The term baby … doesn’t apply until birth” (that thing on your sonogram is nothing more than a “product[] of conception.”) And they will be remembered for demanding investigations into citizen journalists for meticulously exposing atrocities in our midst.

I don’t use the word atrocity lightly.
After talking with some of my liberal friends this week, I came to understand why this story has made such little headway among the general public. My friends are very intelligent people who pay attention to current events, but clearly had no clue what the recent stories concerning about Planned Parenthood were all about. All they knew was that Republicans were senselessly going after Planned Parenthood yet again. A few had this vague notion that there had been some undercover videos, but only one of them knew what was in the videos. It was yet another indication to me of what a ideological bubble most people live in. If it's not on NPR, they're probably not going to hear about it.

Another example was when I started talking about trigger warnings being called for in colleges for works like Ovid's Metamorphoses. Some of my friends are English teachers, but they had never heard that phrase before and weren't aware of this movement on college campuses. some day it will move to high schools and it will be a surprise to the teachers who have never read a conservative website.

Hypocrisy at the New York Times? No! That's never happened before! The same NYT that is opposed to secret taping of Planned Parenthood officials praised secret taping at animal industries to expose cruelty to animals.
Why the difference? I guess the definitions of “cruelty” and “deception” depend on whose ox–or fetus–is being gored.

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Son of Spengler has a very astute comment up at Ricochet about why Obama has been able to do so much without being blocked by a GOP Congress and how hard it will be to roll his executive moves back.
In fact, Obama has not achieved his successes through formal, Constitutional means, but through executive agencies and the courts. Those democratically-unaccountable institutions are comprised of people who share Obama’s vision and have largely been happy to stretch the boundaries of their institutions’ power and the law. The only arena in which Obama has been obliged to persuade, cajole, or fire is defense; even there, a culture of deference to elected civilian authority has made Obama’s job fairly easy. Otherwise, he just rode the Federal Beast in the direction it already wanted to go. He has been able to spend his days golfing, while the media — a cadre of progressive activists — has been there to cheer him on.

A Republican president will not have it so easy. Bureaucrats outwait elected officials, then outwit them with organizational jiu-jitsu, foot-dragging, and press leaks. Firing clandestinely insubordinate civil servants is no easy matter. Meanwhile, courts suddenly become skeptics of executive power when the executive in question is a Republican, and of duly-passed legislation passed by Republican majorities. The media will not give any quarter. Before the next president can achieve anything on his or her agenda, the ascendant unelected governing institutions must be brought under control. Containment is not enough; only rollback will do.

This will require both competence and vision. Competence and vision such as we saw in the last president who was determined to roll back an evil empire. Do any of the current candidates have that combination? A few give me hope. But even in the best of circumstances, it will be a difficult and bloody battle. May God grant the Republican Party, and the United States, the wisdom to choose well — and the fortitude to stand for liberty.

Here is a story from the Washington Post about how over-regulation of businesses is killing jobs.
Specifically, the D.C. Council has enacted a law — the first in the nation — that would define what personal fitness trainers can and cannot do, require them to register and prohibit them from misrepresenting themselves as physical therapists.

Now, the council is drafting a “technical bill” to fill in the blanks in the original legislation (as drafted, it’s ambiguous, vague and not easily implemented), while the D.C. Department of Health is developing regulations.

If early drafts of the regulations are advanced, D.C. fitness trainers will have to divert their attention from improving lives to bureaucratic burdens: taking courses they don’t need, adhering to methods they don’t believe in, paying fees that will be passed on to their clients and looking over their shoulders at ever-present regulators. The draft regulations even call for a four-year college degree.

The immediate impact would be to make fitness programs less accessible, more expensive and more elitist. Thousands of residents would lose the opportunity to follow programs that will help them get stronger, lose weight and enjoy a better quality of life. Ironically, this comes when the District is exploding with new fitness programs and its residents are becoming fitter.

This also would send the message that entrenched interests can drive up costs and close markets for competitors, preventing new products and services from improving the status quo.

The groups pushing hardest for licensure are entrenched institutions such as the American College of Sports Medicine, the National Strength and Conditioning Association and the Register of Exercise Professionals.

These seemingly credible organizations are advancing a not-so-credible agenda to defend their long-established but increasingly threatened business models and stifle successful competition. They want the licensing because they will profit from it.
This is the same ort of alliance between established businesses and government that has been blocking people from opening up their own businesses as florists, interior decorators, hair braiders. The established businesses seek to drive up the costs for anyone entering the businesses by establishing costly and time-consuming licensing regulations because we wouldn't want customers to have some rogue hair braider or interior decorater or fitness trainer out there. Daniel J. Mitchell links to this video from the Institute for Justice about this issue.