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Thursday, August 13, 2015

Cruising the Web

Rick Wilson is a Republican operative so he's the sort of person that Trump supporters detest. But he's also quite perceptive. And he has a dynamite column, "You Hate It From Barack Obama. But You Love It From Donald Trump," pointing out that Trump does so many of the things that Republicans tend to hate about Obama. The list is quite illuminating.
You hated Barack Obama’s cult-like followers, with their mindless stares of adoration, their impervious barrier between emotion and reason, and their instant fury when confronted with the facts about his record, his history, or his philosophy.

But you love it from Trump.

You hated Obama’s shallow, facile rhetoric, with its hollow promises and loose, lowest-common-denominator word-vomit disconnected from any real policy.

But you love it from Trump.

You hated how Obama was gleefully lying to credulous low information voters, filling them with empty promises of economic prosperity that would never come, based on plans that could never be achieved.

But you love it from Trump.

You hated how Obama lied about his positions on single-payer healthcare, gay marriage, gun control, and abortion to get elected, knowing that if he ever revealed the truth about what he believed that he’d be unelectable.

But you love it from Trump.

....You hated how Obama’s naive ignorance of the real and brutal world of international affairs was papered over by his hollow promises to make the world respect the United States again.

But you love it from Trump.

You hated Obama’s casual disdain for people who weren’t from a major city where, you know, all the rich, smart, educated, liberal people like him live.

But you love it from Trump.

You hated Obama’s elite credentialism, and how he yielded his Harvard and Columbia degrees to browbeat his aspiring-class opponents from outside the meritocracy, and how he used them to cow an already docile press.

But you love it from Trump.

You hated that smug, arrogant, sneering affect that took hold the moment he thought the cameras weren’t looking.

But you love it from Trump.

....You hated Obama’s support for bail-outs, too-big-to-fail, and big, taxpayer-funded government intervention in dying industries.

But you love it from Trump.

You hated his comfy alliance with Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, and the odious Clinton crime family.

But you love it from Trump.

You hated his cavalier disdain for private property rights.

But you love it from Trump.
It really is amazing, but it's so true. There is as much of a cult of personality about Trump as there is/was about Obama. Robert Tracinski writes about this.
After Donald Trump’s bombastic performance in last week’s debate, it’s clear that the key to his appeal is not his policy positions, which are all over the map. No, it’s all about his personality, and the paradox is that the more unpleasant his personality is revealed to be, the greater his appeal to his core group of supporters.

For example, one of my readers responded to my article criticizing the new EPA rules on power plants by touting Trump as the only candidate with “the balls” to dismantle the EPA. In reality, there is no basis in Trump’s background, his ideology (if he had one), or his public statements to think he would do anything in particular with the EPA. But that’s how Trump is regarded: as a cure for what ails you, as an all-purpose tonic for whatever somebody thinks is wrong with our current system.

People are projecting onto Trump what they want to see. They are pouring into him their fantasies about what could be accomplished by a strong leader who doesn’t care about making people angry. But that’s a dangerous fantasy to indulge.

To be sure, every presidential election is about personality. We are electing a leader who is going to make important decisions and will have to stick to them in the face of opposition. So when we look at a candidate, we’re not just looking at the values he endorses, the ideas he claims to believe, or the specific platform he has announced. We’re also asking whether he’s the sort of person who really means what he says, whether he has the guts to stand up to opposition, whether he has the charisma to rally other people to his cause, and whether he has the negotiating skills to broker deals without getting taken for a ride.

But there’s a difference between this kind of judgment about character and a cult of personality. The cult of personality is a general faith in the leader—whereas a considered judgment about a candidate is based on specific facts about the candidate’s record and past performance. So we might look to a candidate’s record in the Senate. Did he stand up against legislative cave-ins? Has he shown a willingness to buck the establishment? Or we might look to his term as governor. Did he accomplish something important? Has he faced down opposition without folding?

The GOP has plenty of people with pretty good records on this. Ted Cruz and Rand Paul have shown they’re not afraid to lock horns with the GOP establishment. Scott Walker and Chris Christie have pushed through state-level reforms against vicious opposition. You may not like the specific positions of some of these candidates—the overlaps between Chris Christie supporters and Rand Paul sympathizers has got to be pretty much nil. But there’s almost certainly someone other than Trump in this race who has a longer, more consistent track record for promoting any particular policy preferences.

That’s not what support for Trump is about. Support for Trump is not about what a candidate has actually done. It’s about how loudly and recklessly he’s willing to break things. Support for Trump is a protest vote, but not a rationally considered protest vote in favor of a specific cause. It’s an expression of general, unfocused rage. Trump supporters just want someone who’s willing to turn over the tables and call people names and burn the place down. And that’s why the more unpleasant Trump is—the more he insults lady reporters and boasts about how rich he is, the more he thumps his chest about how sexy he is and calls everybody else a loser—the more they love him.

The result is a disturbing kind of cult of personality....

What doesn’t get the job done is, from my experience, the favorite activity of Donald Trump’s supporters: insulting people on the Internet. So no wonder they want to short-circuit the system and indulge the fantasy that they can push through their agenda, whatever it is, just by electing a guy who will insult people on a bigger scale.

There will always be those who lose patience and long for someone to sweep in and knock everything over and be strong enough to bring everyone to heel. That’s a dangerous illusion, though there are some people who want it enough not to care what their strong man really stands for.
There is something really appalling about the idea that we would want a leader who is strong enough to barrel through any opposition to accomplish his goals. As Rick Wilson points out, we have hated that attitude and those actions from Obama; why cheer it on from Trump? And ask yourselves, what about if Trump wants something that you don't agree with? What if he reverts to the natural positions he's held in the past like supporting a single-payer health plan or the use of eminent domain for private businesses or bailouts for companies deemed too big to fail? What if he uses all the forcefulness that people were cheering for today to push through those sorts of policies without regard to constitutional limitations - just like Obama has? As Sir Thomas More says in A Man for All Seasons,
And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you — where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast — man's laws, not God's — and if you cut them down — and you're just the man to do it — d'you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then?
This is the road Obama has put us on; it's a dangerous road even if a guy you like is promising to do the same thing.

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This is absolutely wonderful! Who knew that a movie about Hitler's downfall could yields such humor again and again?
(Link via David French."

The threat from cyber criminals gets scarier every day.
Hackers from Syria and Iran are on the prowl to hold a neighborhood or city's gasoline supply up for ransom, or, worse, cause it to spill and explode, with Washington being high on the target list, according to a new report.

The report, issued over the weekend by a group of digital security sleuths, found that a number of groups, including the notorious Syrian Electronic Army — known for hacking news groups — are looking for soft targets they can take control of easily through the Internet, and use to cause a variety of mayhem.

The report shows that retail gasoline stations offer such opportunities, with recent targets showing up in the nation's capital.

And then there is this.
An international hacking ring armed with tens of thousands of corporate secrets pocketed more than $100 million from illicit trades, targeting a core vulnerability of the financial system in one of the digital age's most sprawling insider-trading schemes, federal investigators said Tuesday.

Since 2010, more than 30 hackers and traders across the U.S., Ukraine, Russia and other countries coordinated to steal and profit from more than 150,000 press releases, which were scheduled to be delivered to investors from corporate wire services Business Wire, PR Newswire and Marketwired.

With advance details on financial performance and corporate mergers from dozens of companies — including Bank of America, Boeing, Ford Motor, Home Depot, defense contractor Northrop Grumman and Smith & Wesson — the team made rapid and lucrative trades from shared brokerage accounts, funneling the money through shell companies and offshore bank accounts in Estonia and Macau.
There seem to be a couple of such stories every day. We don't seem to be able to keep up with the hackers' skills.

Wendy's CFO and CEO explain how a higher minimum wage affects their company.
So the company will now use machines to do jobs that used to be done by people who have become too expensive to employ. We keep hearing that these minimum-wage laws benefit restaurant workers. But since many will no longer be working in restaurants at all, the reasonable conclusion is that the activist campaigns to raise the minimum wage are mainly intended to benefit the unions that back them.

On last week’s call with securities analysts, Wendy’s CEO Emil Brolick was asked how the franchisees who own and operate Wendy’s locations could raise prices to offset the higher wage costs in places like New York. He replied that “our franchisees will likely look at the opportunity to reduce overall staff, look at the opportunity to certainly reduce hours and any other cost reduction opportunities, not just price. You know there are some people out there who naively say that these wages can simply be passed along in terms of price increases. I don’t think that the average franchisee believes that.”
But, of course, such realities don't mean anything to demagoguing politicians.

The VA scandal just gets worse and worse.
More than 35,000 combat veterans are being denied health care enrollment by the Department of Veterans Affairs because of a computer system error, according to an internal document obtained by The Huffington Post.

Scott Davis, a program specialist at the VA's Health Eligibility Center in Atlanta and a past whistleblower on VA mismanagement, provided HuffPost with a recent VA analysis of the number of combat vets, by city, who are listed as "pending" for health care enrollment because they didn't complete a so-called means test, which assesses their household income. Many vets have to submit a means test to be enrolled, but it's not required for combat vets, who are automatically eligible for five years of free care. The policy is spelled out on the VA's website.

The document shows that 35,093 combat vets who applied for health care aren't getting it because the VA system has erroneously flagged them as needing to submit a means test.

Jeffrey Lord writes about becoming the new token conservative commentator on CNN. I'm glad when media outlets suddenly realize that they need an actual conservative on board because the world of conservatism is foreign territory for them. It's like having an anthropologist to explain the customs of some obscure culture recently discovered on a Pacific island.

This is one way Clinton can avoid the Black Lives Matter protesters, but I don't know how often that would work.

The federal government does not have a good history on their nutritional recommendations.

The Democratic Party is removing ties to Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson state by state. But what about FDR and his executive order to intern Japanese Americans? By the same logic, shouldn't that be enough to cancel out everything else he did?

Yet another lawless exercise of executive power by the President.
One of President Obama’s legacies will be his abuse of executive authority, and his hits keep coming. On Friday a federal appeals court struck down a ruling of the National Labor Relations Board because, incredibly, its acting general counsel was in the job illegally.

The scofflaw was Lafe Solomon, whom readers may recall for his legal complaints against the likes of Boeing for wanting to build planes in right-to-work South Carolina instead of union-dominated Washington. It turns out Mr. Solomon was the one violating the law.

A unanimous three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down a 2014 NLRB ruling against an Arizona ambulance company, SW General. The panel found that Messrs. Solomon and Obama had violated the Federal Vacancies Reform Act, which generally holds that a person cannot serve as an “acting” officer of an agency while also nominated for the post.

Mr. Obama directed Mr. Solomon to serve as NLRB acting general counsel in June 2010. Six months later he nominated Mr. Solomon for the post. The Senate refused to confirm him and he left the NLRB in November 2013. Yet before he departed Mr. Solomon issued the complaint against SW General and many other companies.

Congress passed the vacancies reform law to prevent precisely this kind of presidential gambit. In 1997 Republicans blocked the nomination of Bill Lann Lee for assistant attorney general at the Justice Department. President Bill Clinton then named Mr. Lee in an “acting” capacity—a move designed to let him serve the remainder of the Administration without Senate approval. Congress then tightened the rules, which Messrs. Obama and Solomon violated so flagrantly that the Administration barely offered a defense in court.

Judge Karen Henderson, a George H.W. Bush appointee, wrote the opinion and was joined by two Obama appointees. The ruling only applies to the SW General case, but it is an open invitation to Mr. Solomon’s other corporate targets to seek relief as well.

This is the third legal strike against Mr. Obama’s NLRB. The D.C. Circuit ruled against his recess appointees in 2013 and the Supreme Court did the same in 2014. The evidence builds that this is the most lawless Administration since Richard Nixon’s.

We knew that this went on, but Claire McCaskill now tells the story in Politico how she spent money to make sure that the incompetent Todd Akin would win the GOP primary to face her in 2012. She didn't know that he would talk about "legitimate rape," but she knew that he would have a tough time defeating her.
It was August 7, 2012, and I was standing in my hotel room in Kansas City about to shotgun a beer for the first time in my life. I had just made the biggest gamble of my political career—a $1.7 million gamble—and it had paid off. Running for reelection to the U.S. Senate as a Democrat from Missouri, I had successfully manipulated the Republican primary so that in the general election I would face the candidate I was most likely to beat. And this is how I had promised my daughters we would celebrate...

My consultants put together a $1.7 million plan. Four weeks out we would begin with a television ad boosting Akin, which my campaign consultant Mike Muir dubbed “A Cup of Tea.” The production costs were pretty low, about $20,000, because we didn’t have to film anything. We just used pictures and voice-overs. We would spend $750,000 at first and run it for eight or nine days. Then we’d go back into the field and test to see if it was working. If it was, we’d dump in more “McCaskill for Senate” money, and we’d add radio and more TV in St. Louis and Kansas City. The second TV buy would approach $900,000. We hoped that some of our friends watching the TV ads would catch on and some of the outside groups would augment the last week with mail and radio. Sure enough, a radio ad calling Akin “too conservative” that went on the air in the closing days of the primary was paid for by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. We would later find out that their rural radio buy was $250,000.

As it turned out, we spent more money for Todd Akin in the last two weeks of the primary than he spent on his whole primary campaign.

If we were going to spend that kind of money on ads for Akin, I wanted to get him nominated and start disqualifying him with independent voters at the same time. By that prescription, our ad would have to include Akin’s statement that Obama was a “menace to civilization” and that Akin had said of himself that he was “too conservative” for Missouri. This presentation made it look as though I was trying to disqualify him, though, as we know, when you call someone “too conservative” in a Republican primary, that’s giving him or her a badge of honor. At the end of the ad, my voice was heard saying, “I’m Claire McCaskill, and I approve this message.”

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The EPA pollutes a river - Native Americans hurt most.

This is an auspicious development.
Judges across the country are saying “no” to the “yes means yes” standard of affirmative consent for date rape.

The legality of the standard – adopted on California and New York campuses by state legislatures and in effect on numerous other colleges throughout the country – is in question following a series of recent rulings that cite a lack of due process.

“These decisions are harbingers,” said John Banzhaf, a professor at George Washington University Law School and a public interest lawyer. “It does take time for new ideas to percolate through the system.”

Under the standard, the accused, typically a male, has to prove he obtained consent, even if neither party remembers what happened. The standard forces the accused to prove his innocence, rather than be proven guilty.

Proponents of the “yes means yes” law claim it’s a necessary step to combat sexual assaults, which some studies suggest occur at a high frequency on campuses.

But judges in California, Tennessee and Virginia say it goes too far.

A student expelled from the University of California-San Diego had an “unfair” hearing, Superior Court Judge Joel M. Pressman ruled in July. The John Doe accused in the case said he was unable to cross-examine his accuser and other witnesses. He also said he was forced to submit questions to a hearing panel in advance, and many of his questions were then rejected. Pressman agreed this was a violation of his due process rights.

A student found guilty of sexual misconduct by the University of Tennessee because he couldn’t prove he obtained verbal consent had his verdict overturned by a Chancery Court judge on Aug. 4.

A student expelled from Washington and Lee University for alleged sexual misconduct will be allowed to continue with his gender bias lawsuit against the school, U.S. District Court Judge Norman Moon ruled on Aug. 8. In the lawsuit, a Title IX officer at the school is quoted during a presentation she gave to the woman who later accused John Doe. The Title IX officer is alleged to have said “regret equals rape” and “went on to state her belief that this point was a new idea everyone, herself included, is starting to agree with.” Shortly thereafter, an allegation of misconduct was launched against John Doe. The Title IX officer played a significant role in the investigatory process.
Just think about the mindset that wants to enforce a "Regret equals rape" standard. It boggles the mind.

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