Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Cruising the Web

As Adam Garfinkle writes of Obama's accusations that his opponents are just like Iran's hardliners,
The tone of the President’s speech, part of it certainly, was unpresidentially shrill. It violated Sidney Hook’s rule that a decent person first meet the arguments of his opponents before disparaging their characters. The President did not first meet and defeat the arguments of the critics. He first smeared the whole lot as, essentially, a bunch of neoconservative warmongers who gave us the disastrous Iraq War. His reference to “tens of millions of dollars in advertising” is especially noxious, as if opponents do not have a right to make their arguments, and as if Democratic politicians know nothing of political advertisements.
Garfinkle then goes on to explain how Obama has been lying about this deal. It's a long and demoralizing list. And then Garfinkle discusses what the deal means for Israelis and Obama's arrogant assurance that he knows what is better for Israelis than Netanyahu.
The former claim reminds me of leftwing “progressive” consciousness-raising from the 1960s. The New Left types claimed to know what was in the best interest of laborers better than laborers themselves, even though the vast majority of these kids did not come from proletarian homes. I did, and so naturally they came across to me as a bunch of arrogant and cluelessly presumptuous jackasses. Even if the President thinks he knows what is best for Israel, more so than its own democratically elected leader, it is unwise to say so publicly.

As to the second claim, well, there’s no secret about the reason for Netanyahu’s judgment as of November 2013, and in this most Israelis are of the same view: The November 2013 deal enshrined Iran’s right to enrichment. That is the crucial concession that changed the purpose of the negotiations from where they started to where they have ended up. Now, the President and the Secretary posture as though it’s the Holocaust that is to blame for all this anxiety and opposition. They profess to “understand” and “sympathize” with this. They therefore raise themselves up to the status of amateur psychoanalysts, with Israel the one lying there on the couch. This is condescending in the extreme, and it is also happens to be misleading sanctimonious bullshit.

Israelis, and Jews around the world, are worried because they see the unfolding of a regional proliferation nightmare all around them....

What Israelis and Jews are looking at is the possibility, just 10 or 15 or 25 years down the road—which is as if a few seconds in the long skein of Jewish history—that millions of Jews (and plenty of Arabs and others) could be killed in a single afternoon and the State of Israel rendered non-viable. What this means to thoughtful Jews is that the very continuity of the Jewish people could be called into serious question. What kind of future could the Jewish people have, and what could possibly be its character, after such a calamity? This is what is at stake deep in the hearts of Israelis and Jews, and for the President and the Secretary of State to fob it off as an irritating wisp of mere paranoia or irrationality is deeply unsettling, all the way, I think, to tragic.

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The Tablet, an online Jewish magazine which tends to be liberal and, like most American Jews, supportive of the President excoriates the administration and its allies in government and the media for the anti-Semitism of their attacks on Senator Schumer and Republican opponents of the Iran deal.
What we increasingly can’t stomach—and feel obliged to speak out about right now—is the use of Jew-baiting and other blatant and retrograde forms of racial and ethnic prejudice as tools to sell a political deal, or to smear those who oppose it. Accusing Senator Schumer of loyalty to a foreign government is bigotry, pure and simple. Accusing Senators and Congressmen whose misgivings about the Iran deal are shared by a majority of the U.S. electorate of being agents of a foreign power, or of selling their votes to shadowy lobbyists, or of acting contrary to the best interests of the United States, is the kind of naked appeal to bigotry and prejudice that would be familiar in the politics of the pre-Civil Rights Era South.

This use of anti-Jewish incitement as a political tool is a sickening new development in American political discourse, and we have heard too much of it lately—some coming, ominously, from our own White House and its representatives. Let’s not mince words: Murmuring about “money” and “lobbying” and “foreign interests” who seek to drag America into war is a direct attempt to play the dual-loyalty card. It’s the kind of dark, nasty stuff we might expect to hear at a white power rally, not from the President of the United States—and it’s gotten so blatant that even many of us who are generally sympathetic to the administration, and even this deal, have been shaken by it.

As James Taranto writes,the logic behind the accusations don't even make sense.
It should be noted that there is a tension, if not an outright contradiction, between the “dual loyalty” charge and the “sellout” one. The former presupposes that Schumer is more interested in Israel’s interests than America’s. It also presupposes that the deal serves America’s interests and harms Israel’s—a claim even the president denies. Obama argues that it serves both countries’ interests; Schumer’s view—with which we agree—is that it is harmful to both.

But the “sellout” charge—or “it’s money,” in Zakaria’s more genteel formulation—doesn’t even credit Schumer with sincere concern for Israel. Which raises the question: If his critics think all he cares about is money, why do they keep mentioning that he’s Jewish? If you know your anti-Semitic tropes, the question answers itself.
Taranto also points out that the former Saudi ambassador to the U.S., Prince Bandar bin Sultan, has also published a column opposing the deal.
Was Bandar motivated by a concern for Israel or a desire to get his hands on Aipac’s money? Again, the question answers itself. Riyadh and Jerusalem are anything but friends; they just happen to have a confluence of interests when it comes to the Iran deal.

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Yet more lies from Obama about people opposing his Iran deal. He told Fareed Zakaria that Netanyahu had not offered any alternative to the deal. That was ignoring the alternatives that Netanyahu presented in his speech before Congress this year. That's not an obscure location for a speech, but Obama totally lied about his opponent's' lack of alternatives. But of course, in Obama's mind, if you don't support him, you don't have an alternative. That's been his MO since he became president on the stimulus, Obamacare, environment, or foreign policy.

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Hillary Clinton's campaign has come up with the funniest defense yet of her using her own private server for her email. Apparently, she did this because the State Department gets hacked sometimes. That is the State Department of which she was the leader. And, of course, the Clinton private server would be so much more secure because it was protected by Secret Service guards. Yeah, that all makes sense.

Byron York details how the Black Lives Matter movement was able to derail a Bernie Sanders event in Seattle, one of the most progressive cities in the nation.
Sanders finally surrendered completely and left the stage. Moving into the crowd to shake hands, he told a reporter the hijacking of the rally was "unfortunate, because among other things, I wanted to talk about the issue of black lives." A lifelong liberal who took part in the 1963 March on Washington, Sanders is trying desperately to mollify the Black Lives Matter groups, but so far, nothing he has said or done has been enough.

Why put up with the harassment? Because for Democrats, having alienated growing numbers of white voters, black votes matter now more than ever.

"It's tough to overstate just how critical black voters have become to today's Democratic coalition, particularly when it comes to the Electoral College," note Amy Walter and David Wasserman in a recent study from the Cook Political Report.

"Deconstructing exit poll data from 2012, African-American voters accounted for Obama's entire margin of victory in seven states: Florida, Maryland, Michigan, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia. Without these states' 112 electoral votes, Obama would have lost decisively." (Hispanic voters, many clustered in states that are already Democratic, were not nearly as important to the Democratic candidate.)

So Sanders stepped back and gave the protesters the microphone. And probably not for the last time.
So when will these protesters take on a Clinton event?

Hillary Clinton is going after for-profit colleges. Of course, she's not telling audiences about how much money the Clintons have gotten from such colleges.
When Hillary Rodham Clinton, the 2016 presidential candidate, unveiled her college affordability plan on Monday, she sounded every bit the critic of for-profit universities. But Mrs. Clinton, the spouse, benefited to the tune of millions of dollars from that same industry in a business relationship her husband enjoyed as recently as this spring.

Former President Bill Clinton collected more than $16 million from 2010 to 2014 as honorary chancellor of Laureate Education, a for-profit company that runs 80 education institutions around the globe, according to recently released tax returns. Four of its six U.S. colleges were flagged on the Education Department’s list of schools whose access to federal financial aid was being monitored out of concern over financial irresponsibility.

The Clinton Foundation also lists Laureate International Universities as one of its donors, giving $1 million to $5 million during the first half of this year. Mr. Clinton praised the company when he stepped down in late April, less than two weeks after his wife officially entered the presidential race.

Over the years, Mrs. Clinton collected political donations from Laureate’s CEO, Douglas Becker, including a $2,000 donation in 2005 to her Senate re-election campaign and $2,300 in 2007 to her first presidential campaign, Federal Election Commission records show.

Steve Barron looks at the blunders of Mayor de Blasio. He was nailed for his politically motivated opposition to Uber and that's just the last in a long list of bad moves.
But the popularity and success of Uber and its competitors have made it impossible for the mayor to assist his taxi-industry contributors, even as the value of their medallions has plummeted. As with the horse carriages that de Blasio promised to ban, few mechanisms exist that allow a mayor to eliminate legal businesses by edict.

The mayor thus adds to his list of political defeats. He was unable to get a special tax levied on the ultrarich in order to fund universal pre-Kindergarten. He vowed to kick charter schools out of city-owned property and was rebuffed soundly. He swore he would return the state senate to the Democrats, and in response, the Republicans won an absolute majority. He was humiliated in this year’s round of budget negotiations and was given only a one-year extension on mayoral control of schools.

And that list doesn’t even touch de Blasio’s purely political missteps. He married himself publicly to Al Sharpton, swearing to “hang out with him” more, even as criticism of the relationship increased. He alienated the centrist wing of the Democratic Party, including its donor base, by suggesting that Hillary Clinton needed to prove herself to him before he would endorse her campaign for president. He leaned on the Working Families Party to endorse centrist governor Andrew Cuomo, who turned around and created a bogus Women’s Equality Party that siphoned WFP votes.
New Yorkers are getting what they voted for when they chose de Blasio. And they're getting it good and hard.

Coincidence? Nope.
According to a report released Sunday by the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), the $15 minimum wage has caused Seattle restaurants to lose 1,000 jobs — the worst decline since the 2009 Great Recession.

“The loss of 1,000 restaurant jobs in May following the minimum wage increase in April was the largest one month job decline since a 1,300 drop in January 2009, again during the Great Recession,” AEI Scholar Mark J. Perry noted in the report.

The citywide minimum wage increase was passed in June of last year. The measure is designed to increase the city minimum wage gradually to $15 an hour by 2017. The first increase under the plan was to $11 an hour in April. According to the report, Seattle restaurants have already faced severe consequences as a result. In contrast, in the six years since the 2009 financial crisis, the industry has been recovering in areas without the $15 minimum wage.

“Restaurant employment nationally increased by 130,700 jobs (and by 1.2%) during that same period,” the report also noted. “Restaurant employment in Washington increased 3.2% and by 2,800 jobs.”

Matt Lewis is worried about Rubio's stance on abortion as he writes an anti-Rubio ad for Hillary.

"Jon Stewart, Patron Saint of Liberal Smugness" - Sounds about right.

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Donald Trump praised Canada and Scotland's health care programs. He's either a true liberal or he just doesn't understand how health care works in those countries.
His praise of Scotland’s system, for example, demonstrated that he is unaware of its role in creating one of the UK’s worst public health disasters. It works so “incredibly well” that tens of thousands received contaminated blood transfusions over two decades, resulting in at least 2,000 deaths and countless Hepatitis and HIV infections. Last spring, the Scottish Health Secretary found herself desperately trying to mollify an outraged public after a dilatory and unnecessarily protracted government inquiry produced widespread charges of “whitewash” by offering one generic recommendation.

As to Canada, it’s abundantly clear that Trump has never heard of the Naylor report, released last month by a blue ribbon panel led by a former president of Toronto University. To give you the general flavor of the report, it uses the term “arrested development” to describe the Canadian single-payer system: “Patients told us about limited access to a variety of services.… They also observed that the narrow scope of Medicare [the name of their national system] led to large out-of-pocket expenses for many Canadians, particularly those without work-related private health insurance plans.”

That’s right. One of the single-payer systems praised by “the Donald” works so poorly that its patients must buy private health insurance to get decent medical treatment. And yet Trump reserves some of his worst verbal abuse for the free market providers of such coverage. As he put it during the debate, “I have a big company with thousands and thousands of employees and if I’m negotiating in New York or New Jersey or California, I have, like, one bidder. Nobody can bid. You know why? The insurance companies are making a fortune because they have control of the politicians.”

If Trump’s rant seems confusing, it’s because he’s confused about his topic. The point he’s groping for involves the inability of some companies to buy insurance across state lines. But he has failed to do his homework. As John Merline writes at Investor’s Business Daily, “What Trump apparently doesn’t know is that companies like his typically provide insurance benefits under ERISA, which allows multistate firms to offer uniform health benefits to workers, wherever they live.” In other words, Trump doesn’t know how the insurance market works, even for his own business....

The problem here, if it’s not obvious, is that “the Donald’s” instinctive reaction to Obamacare is not that of a conservative. When genuine conservatives think about Obamacare, they think about its dubious constitutionality, its dramatic expansion of government, its abuse of individual liberty, its attack on religious freedom, its interference with the doctor-patient relationship, its government-imposed rationing, its illegal use of federal funds for abortion, ad infinitum. People whose first reaction to a question about Obamacare is to denounce the insurance industry are called Democrats.

Stephen Hayes analyzes how Donald Trump has answered substantive policy questions. If Trump's complaint is that the was asked gotcha questions, then he should have been able to clean up the floor with the substantive questions he was asked. But he is incoherent on those questions. Apparently, the only subject he's truly comfortable talking about is ...The Donald.
Donald Trump says he wants to talk about issues.

In a telephone interview on Meet the Press yesterday, Trump said he was looking forward to interviews where he could talk about policy. “I want to get back to the country,” he insisted. “We have such problems. We have unemployment that’s incredible. We need jobs. We have to get jobs back from China. That’s the subjects [sic] that I’m good at.”

But rather than offering details on his plan to get jobs back from China, Trump abruptly changed the subject to his favorite topic: Trump.

“By the way, during that whole debate, which was 24 million people, and if I wasn’t on they would have had two million people, and everybody admits that.”

Nobody has actually admitted that, of course, and while Trump is correct that he was a major factor in generating a big audience, interest in this year’s GOP contest is high even without him. The play-in debate drew six million people at 5 p.m. – an extraordinary number not only because it aired outside primetime, but also because it featured candidates all polling below 3 percent.

But facts are no impediment for a Trump with momentum and he was rolling. Trump declared once again that he wants to talk about issues and then once again changed the subject to his greatness.

“You would have had just another debate that nobody would have watched,” he said. “So, you know, that’s one of those things. But I want to get back to jobs. They didn’t ask me one question about jobs! And every single poll says I am the best by triple digits on jobs and the economy.”

A triple digit lead? In every single poll? Perhaps that’s just one of those things.
I guess they don't teach basic math at the Wharton School of Finance where Trump repeatedly tells us he attended and did extremely well.

What would all the Trump supporters say of other politicians who evaded policy questions and just turned every answer back to himself. One who demanded to do phone interviews instead of appearing on camera so that no one can see if he's reading notes while answering? What if Hillary behaved thusly? The accusations would fly about how this is typical politics.
And that’s the big point. Despite the claims of his supporters, Trump isn’t so much a departure from politics-as-usual as he is a sort of mutant, exaggerated version of it.

He does the same things they do, only bigger and more outrageously and, on occasion, more luxuriously. He flip-flops like an everyday politician and he whines like an everyday politician. He evades questions like everyday politicians and makes up statistics like everyday politicians. He uses strawmen like everyday politicians and misspeaks like everyday politicians. He craves media attention like everyday politicians and lies like everyday politicians.

Trump isn’t the solution to our broken politics so much as he’s the outsized avatar of it.

Rand Paul is doing so poorly in the polls that he has decided to make his mission attacking Donald Trump. He has a column in the IJR asking people not to fall for a "fake conservative." All he has to do is list positions that Trump has taken in the past.
In 1990, he said if he ever ran for office, he’d do better as a Democrat. He became an independent briefly in 1999 before he switched back to registering as a Democrat. In 2004, he identified more of his beliefs as those of a Democrat, especially on economic policy, stating on CNN that“it just seems that the economy does better under the Democrats than the Republicans.” He only registered as a Republican in 2009 before dropping the party again in 2011, only to re-register in 2012.

This is a guy who said in 1999 that he was a strong supporter of the United Nations. He was for partial birth abortion before he was against it. He lavished praise on the bank bailouts. He was for Obamacare before he was against it and has said he’s “liberal on health care.”

In the debate, I reminded Trump that conservatives in the GOP have spent decades opposing a single-payer system like the socialized medicine of Canada and England. He responded that I hadn’t heard his answer. The problem is, I had heard his answer and, like many of his answers, it made absolutely no sense. What I heard was that he was once for a single-payer system—today, he’s against Obamacare but still kind of likes the concept of single-payer and isn’t sure it works.

No conservative in America supports a single-payer government-run healthcare system, and yet around 25 percent of Republicans seem to favor Trump. How can this be possible? How can a quarter of the GOP support a guy who was a Republican, then an Independent, then a Democrat, and then a Republican again?

Are conservatives really willing to gamble about what Donald Trump really believes in?

....Bill Clinton is under fire for accepting donations and high speaking fees from foreign governments while Hillary served as Secretary of State. I think it’s despicable that politicians like Hillary sell access. But isn’t it equally despicable for people like Trump to buy access?

It makes me sad to think that Tea Party awakening could be hijacked or hoodwinked by a guy who supported the bank bailouts, supported Obamacare, and continues to support the Clintons.
I don't imagine that that will do much for his own candidacy since he is not the second choice of many Trump followers.

Rick Perry's funds are so depleted that he has had to stop paying his staff. The GOP race is starting already to shake itself out.

Bobby Jindal says that he'll randomly mention Donald Trump in order to get some media coverage. He then goes on with a great riff on the Democratic race.
The real “clown show,” Jindal says, is on the Democratic side.

On Hillary Clinton: “The Democrat candidate in first place is under investigation by the FBI,” Jindal says.

On Bernie Sanders: “The Democrat candidate in second place calls himself a socialist,” he says.

On Martin O’Malley: “The Democrat candidate in third place claims that ISIS was caused by climate change.”

And finally: “The Democrat candidate in fourth place thinks that America should be using the metric system,” Jindal says. That’s um — wait, we’ll think of his name in a minute — Lincoln Chafee.

Jindal concludes his stump speech: “Also, did I mention Donald Trump?”
That is really very good.

Another candidate is going to enter the Democratic race - Harvard Law professor Lawrence Lessig. He wants to run as a protest vote to pass legal protections for voters.

The L.A. Times profiles Bret Baier whose amiable demeanor seems like the real thing.