Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Cruising the Web

Jonah Goldberg addresses conservatives who support Trump. He expresses so much better than I can why I find the appeal of Trump among conservatives so dismaying. It's worth a good long set of excerpts.
Yes, I know that there are plenty of decent and honorable people who support Trump. For instance, my friend John Nolte over at Breitbart is one. He constantly celebrates Trump because Trump has all the right enemies and defies the conventional rules governing politics and media....

But this is not an argument for Trump as a serious presidential candidate. It is really no argument at all. It is catharsis masquerading as principle, venting and resentment pretending to be some kind of higher argument. Every principle used to defend Trump is subjective, graded on a curve. ....

’ve written many times how the phrase “power corrupts” has been misunderstood. Lord Acton’s original point wasn’t that power corrupts those who wield power, it was that it corrupts those who admire it. In a letter to a historian friend who was too forgiving of the Reformation-era popes, Acton wrote:
I cannot accept your canon that we are to judge Pope and King unlike other men, with a favourable presumption that they did no wrong. If there is any presumption it is the other way, against the holders of power, increasing as the power increases. Historic responsibility has to make up for the want of legal responsibility. Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority, still more when you superadd the tendency or the certainty of corruption by authority. There is no worse heresy than that the office sanctifies the holder of it.
Popularity -- which in democracy is a very important kind of power -- works the same way. We routinely forgive the rich and famous for sins we would condemn our neighbors for. Trump’s popularity apparently trumps all standards we would apply not just to our neighbors, but to our leaders. A small example of what I am talking about can be found in Ted Cruz’s vow not to criticize other Republicans -- if by “Republicans” you mean “Donald Trump.” I have a lot of respect for Cruz, but this doesn’t pass the laugh test. The Texan has been lambasting the entire Republican party for his entire time in office. Some of his critiques are valid, of course. But he has shown not an iota of reluctance to criticize fellow Republicans when it’s in his interest. Cruz isn’t criticizing Donald Trump because, as a smart politician, he wants to woo Trump’s followers when/if Trump eventually falters. Similarly, I’m constantly hearing from Trump fans that it’s “disrespectful” for me to criticize the Republican front-runner -- as if these fans would refrain from criticizing Jeb or Rubio or Kasich if they were in the lead.

If I sound dismayed, it’s only because I am. Conservatives have spent more than 60 years arguing that ideas and character matter. That is the conservative movement I joined and dedicated my professional life to. And now, in a moment of passion, many of my comrades-in-arms are throwing it all away in a fit of pique. Because “Trump fights!”

....It is entirely possible that conservatives sweat the details of tax policy too much. Once in office, a president must deal with political realities that render the fine print of a campaign pamphlet as useful as a battle plan after the enemy is met. But in the last month, Trump has contemplated a flat tax, the fair tax, maintaining the current progressive tax system, a carried-interest tax, a wealth tax, and doing nothing. His fans respond, “That shows he’s a pragmatist!”

No. It shows that he has absolutely no ideological guardrails whatsoever. Ronald Reagan once said, “Government is like a baby. An alimentary canal with a big appetite at one end and no sense of responsibility at the other.” Trump is close to the reverse. He’s a mouth at the wrong end of an alimentary canal spewing crap with no sense of responsibility.

In his embarrassing interview with Hugh Hewitt last night, Trump revealed he knows less than most halfway-decent D.C. interns about foreign policy. Twitter lit up with responses about how it doesn’t matter and how it was a gotcha interview. They think that Trump’s claim that he’ll just go find a Douglas MacArthur to fix the problem is brilliant. Well, I’m all in favor of finding a Douglas MacArthur, but if you don’t know anything about foreign policy, the interview process will be a complete disaster. Yes, Reagan delegated. But he knew enough to know to whom to delegate.

If you want a really good sense of the damage Donald Trump is doing to conservatism, consider the fact that for the last five years no issue has united the Right more than opposition to Obamacare. Opposition to socialized medicine in general has been a core tenet of American conservatism from Day One. Yet, when Republicans were told that Donald Trump favors single-payer health care, support for single-payer health care jumped from 16 percent to 44 percent.

I’ve written a lot about my problems with populism. One of my favorite illustrations of why the populist mindset is dangerous and anti-intellectual comes from William Jennings Bryan. “The people of Nebraska are for free silver and I am for free silver,” Bryan announced. “I will look up the arguments later.” My view of conservatism holds that if free silver is a bad idea, it’s still a bad idea even if the people of Nebraska are for it. But Trumpism flips this on its head. The conservatives of Nebraska and elsewhere should be against single-payer health care, even if Donald Trump is for it. What we are seeing is the corrupting of conservatives....

I understand the Noltean compulsion to celebrate anyone who doesn’t take crap from the mainstream media. But when Newt Gingrich brilliantly eviscerated the press in 2012, there was a serious ideological worldview behind it. Trump’s assaults on the press have only one standard: whether the journalist in question is favorable to Trump or not. If a journalist praises him, that journalist is “terrific.” If the journalist is critical of Trump he is a “loser” (or, in my case, a loser who can’t buy pants). Not surprisingly, Hugh Hewitt is now “third rate” because he made Trump look bad. I’m no fan of Arianna Huffington or Gail Collins, but calling them “dogs” because they criticized you is not a serious ideological or intellectual retort. (It’s not even clever.) I think Trump did insinuate that Megyn Kelly was menstruating during the debate. He denies it. Fine. But what in the world about his past would lead someone to give him the benefit of the doubt? This is the same man who said, “You know, it doesn’t really matter what [the media] write as long as you’ve got a young and beautiful piece of ass.”

Trump’s glass-bottom id lets the whole world see his megalomania. He talks about himself in the third person all the time. He explains that Trump is great because Trump is rich and famous. He’s waxed profound on how he doesn’t want blacks counting his money (he prefers Jews in yarmulkes). He makes jokes on national TV about women fellating him. He pays famous people to attend his wedding and then brags about it as if he got one over on them. He boasts in his books how he screwed over business associates and creditors because all that mattered was making an extra buck.

If your neighbor talked this way, maybe he’d still be your friend, because we all have friends who are characters. But would you want him to be your kid’s English teacher? Guidance counselor? Would you tell your kids you want them to follow his example? Would you go into business with him?

Would you entrust him with nuclear weapons?

For a response, read Sundance's post at the Conservative Treehouse expressing anger over the fecklessness of the Republican Congress in not repealing Obamacare or supporting the Corker amendment allowing consideration of the Iran deal to be considered as less than a treaty requiring 67 Senate votes. His point is that the Washington Republicans are not true conservatives any more than Donald Trump might be. He has lots of evidence to indict those Washington Republicans.

I still don't get how anger at Mcconnell and Boehner translates into supporting a faux conservative like Donald Trump. "Because he fights"? But what will he fight for?

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As a reminder, here are 10 Hillary Clinton scandals that you might have forgotten about. It's lists like this that have me hoping that she'll still emerge triumphant from the Democratic nominee race.

Though Robert Tracinski explains why the email scandal could be the one that finally sinks Hillary Clinton. One advantage is that it doesn't involve Bill. It helps that it's about a real issue - national security and involves a crime that other people have been prosecuted before. And it turns her career at State into a big liability.

The media sure take a different response to violent language from the Black Lives Matter protesters than they did to really unobjectionable language from the Tea Party.
For many in the press, the cop killings are tragic. But it's also reckless and unfair to suggest that these murders have anything to do with the Black Lives Matters movement....

Though this caution is commendable, it's worth noting that this same courtesy has rarely — if ever — been shown to conservatives.

Since the Tea Party's informal launch in 2009 with an anti-bailout speech by CNBC's Rick Santelli, the press has blamed the right-wing movement for a number of vicious murders in which it played no role.

For example, on Jan. 8, 2011, when Jared Loughner opened fire on a crowd in Tucson, Ariz., killing six people and injuring 13, including former Rep. Gabby Giffords, some in the press jumped to blame conservative rhetoric.
The examples abound. The media are quite happy to impugn deadly influence to conservatives and totally absolve blame to those changing about killing cops.

The WSJ writes about the refugee crisis that we're observing now as people flee to Europe from the violence in Syria.
The conceit has been that while all of this is tragic, the Middle East has to work out its own pathologies and what happens there will be contained there. But by now we know that what happens in Damascus doesn’t stay in Damascus. First came the terrorist exports, recruited by Islamic State and sent back to bomb and murder in Paris and on trains. Now come the refugees, willing to risk their lives fleeing chaos on the chance of a safe haven in Europe.

The lesson is that while intervention has risks, so does abdication. The difference is that at least intervention gives the West the opportunity to shape events, often for the better, rather than merely cope with the consequences of doing nothing. As difficult as the war in Iraq was, by 2008 the insurgency was defeated and Iraqis were returning to Baghdad. Only after Mr. Obama withdrew entirely from Iraq and ignored Syria did Iraq deteriorate again and Islamic State advance.

Europeans who dislike an America they think is overbearing should note what happens when the world’s policeman decides to take a vacation and let the neighbors fend for themselves. In the modern world of instant communications and easy transportation, the world’s problems will wash up on the wealthy West’s shores one way or another. If Europe isn’t prepared to handle nearby crises, militarily if necessary, be prepared to accept the refugees....

Without economic reform to produce a growth economy, migration on the current scale is going to strain Europe’s welfare state and further encourage the rise of extreme anti-immigration parties like the National Front in France, Golden Dawn in Greece, Jobbik in Hungary and the Pegida movement in Germany. It will also begin to threaten such pillars of the modern European Union as its Schengen policy that allows passport-free travel and migration. Schengen has been a crucial economic safety valve that allows young people in particular to move for economic opportunity when their native country is in recession.

***
All of which underscores that the migration crisis is far more than a humanitarian issue.....

But the larger problem is the retreat by Europe and America from promoting, and if necessary enforcing, a world order built on Western ideals. The migration crisis shows that this failure will eventually compromise Western ideals at home as well as abroad.
Bret Stephens adds in how having a world that prides itself on metaphorically having no fences is not ready for the results that will follow.
Contrast this promised utopia with the mind-boggling scenes of tens of thousands of Middle East migrants, marching up the roads and railways of Europe, headed for their German promised land. The images seem like a 21st-century version of the Völkerwanderung, the migration of nations in the late Roman and early Medieval periods. Desperate people, needing a place to go, sweeping a broad landscape like an unchanneled flood.

How did this happen? We mistook a holiday from history for the end of it. We built a fenceless world on the wrong set of assumptions about the future. We wanted a new liberal order—one with a lot of liberalism and not a lot of order. We wanted to be a generous civilization without doing the things required to be a prosperous one.

In 2003 the political theorist Robert Kagan wrote a thoughtful book, “Of Paradise and Power,” in which he took stock of the philosophical divide between Americans and Europeans. Americans, he wrote, inhabited the world of Thomas Hobbes, in which “true security and the defense and promotion of a liberal order still depend on the possession and use of military might.”

Europeans, by contrast, lived in the world of Immanuel Kant, in which “perpetual peace” was guaranteed by a set of cultural conventions, consensually agreed rules and a belief in the virtues of social solidarity overseen by a redistributive state.

These differences didn’t matter much as long as they were confined to panel discussions at Davos. Then came the presidency of Barack Obama, which has adopted the Kantian view. For seven years, the U.S. and Europe have largely been on the same side—the European side—of most of the big issues, especially in the Mideast: getting out of Iraq, drawing down in Afghanistan, lightly intervening in Libya, staying out of Syria, making up with Iran.

The result is our metastasizing global disorder. It’s only going to get worse. The graciousness that Germans have shown the first wave of refugees is a tribute to the country’s sense of humanity and history. But just as the warm welcome is destined to create an irresistible magnet for future migrants, it is also bound to lead to a backlash among Germans.

This year, some 800,000 newcomers are expected in Germany—about 1% of the country’s population. Berlin wants an EU-wide quota system to divvy up the influx, but once the migrants are in Europe they are free to go wherever the jobs and opportunities may be. Germany (with 4.7% unemployment) is going to be a bigger draw than France (10.4%), to say nothing of Italy (12%) or Spain (22%).

If Germany had robust economic and demographic growth, it could absorb and assimilate the influx. It doesn’t, so it can’t. Growth has averaged 0.31% a year since 1991. The country has the world’s lowest birthrate. Tolerant modern Germany now looks with justified disdain toward the petty nationalism, burden-shifting and fence-building of the populist Hungarian government of Viktor Orb√°n. But it would be foolish to think of Hungary as a political throwback rather than as a harbinger. There is no such thing as a lesson from the past that people won’t ignore for the sake of the convenience of the present.

George Will muses about how extensive the political correctness movement's accusations against people and language previously thought to be perfectly okay has grown. Soon we'll have to rename almost everything.

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Former students suing Trump University allege that it was actually a scam to enrich Trump.
“As soon as I attended the first workshop, I knew I had been scammed,” Guillo said. “Every single workshop, they charged you another amount. Everything was to get you to spend more and more and more.”

Instead, according to lawsuits filed in New York and California, “students” got repeat come-ons to run up credit card debt to buy increasingly expensive mentorships topping out at nearly $35,000 per person.

Students were even advised to fudge their income to persuade credit card companies to increase their credit limits, the lawsuits charge.

An internal Trump U. document titled “surefire script to more purchasing power” suggested deliberately inflating actual income by adding in “projected income” from businesses that did not yet exist.

Students were told to make up a name of this fictional business, but not to include “real estate” in its name.

“Be vague,” the internal Trump U. document states.

In the end, according to the lawsuits, hundreds of students saw their credit scores damaged — and worse.
Is this an example of the business expertise that should convince voters to ignore everything else about him?

An interesting question from Carly Fiorina.
Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina is asking why front-runner Donald Trump can't spend more time attacking the likely Democratic candidate, Hillary Clinton.

Trump has been doing a number on his GOP rivals, belittling many of them for sliding in the polls even as he surges. In the past, Trump has complimented Clinton, and Republicans have cited those clips as proof the GOP should get behind another candidate.

But Fiorina told "Fox and Friends" that Clinton is the one Republicans need to be focusing on.

"For heaven's sakes, I actually wish Mr. Trump would throw a little more heat Hillary Clinton's way," she said.

The Washington Examiner looks at how Trey Gowdy is "reshaping the 2016 presidential election."
As the chairman of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, his investigation is altering the public's perception of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's tenure as secretary of state just as voters prepare to cast their ballots in next year's primaries. The House formed Gowdy's committee in 2014 to investigate the Sept. 11, 2012, terrorist attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

The revelation of Clinton's exclusive use of a personal email address and private server(s) as secretary of state originated from Gowdy's investigation. Now the FBI and inspectors general of multiple executive branch agencies have launched their own inquiries.

Can you beat Donald Trump on foreign policy? This high school teacher got six out of six.

Ralph Benko of Forbes examines how Donald Trump has expanded his fortune on leveraging his name though it has not always been successful given his four Chapter 11 bankruptcies. She's applying the same principle to his campaign by not spending much of his own money and getting huge poll numbers. But what happens, however, if he sinks to number two?
Falling to number two, even in Iowa, could rupture a core element of Trump’s narrative: that he’s a Winner. Leverage even could turn negative.

Trump may not much longer be able to rely on the 100-1 leverage that has taken him this far. Whether deleveraging or facing negative leverage Trump almost certainly will have to start laying out real money to sustain his campaign.

Trump is investing in additional campaign staff. Yet sustaining his momentum is likely to grow far more expensive than that. The cost of political advertising, to supplement earned media, is very substantial. While Trump could, in theory, reach out to big donors doing so would rupture his narrative of being uniquely his own man. He is likely to find himself in a squeeze play.

Deleveraging also changes Trump’s “win-win” calculus. Deferring risk — structuring win-win situations for himself — is Trump’s lifelong M.O....

Donald Trump, notably, never has declared personal bankruptcy. He shrewdly has managed to insulate his personal fortune from the risks of his highly leveraged investments. This implies a certain personal risk aversion.

There is no comparable insulation in politics. There is a real chance he, and maybe soon, will have to begin digging very deeply into his, as reported by Politico, liquid assets of $300M (or maybe only $70M) to sustain his momentum. He blusters that he will do so.

Of course he could….

Yet how deep will Donald Trump desire to dig into his Money Bins once it’s an actual gamble for him? In gambling terms Trump’s always played the role of the house, never the bettor.

It’s not impossible that Trump would spend all of his cash. Yet even $300M would not take him all the way to the White House.

It’s not impossible that he would take out loans against his net worth even further to up the ante. That said, doing either would be utterly contrary to his lifelong practice of gaming the system to lay off risk and keep the upside safe in his pocket.

It is highly likely that the Trump Campaign will begin (and maybe has already begun) to deleverage. Earned media will fade as his novelty wears off. He may even, as Carson’s surge suggests, get knocked out of front runner status.

The cost of maintaining his status will rise. It likely will skyrocket. And it’s on a long shot. Trump does not bet his own money on long shots.

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Ah, the new America of Hillary Clinton.
Attendees at a Hillary Clinton campaign event in Cleveland, Ohio, were asked to sign a pledge promising to vote for the candidate before they were allowed into the venue.
Maybe that's why, as Salena Zito writes, Hillary is not resonating among young voters.
The event here wasn't just a failure to connect with millennials, but a fundamental inability to read her audience and adjust her speech — or perhaps laziness, or a sense of entitlement that she shouldn't have to work this hard for support.
Perhaps it was all of that.

“Fired up! Ready to go!” an early speaker shouted as he prepared the crowd for Clinton. He received only a smattering of polite claps, despite several attempts to get the crowd excited.

Former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, running for a U.S. Senate seat next year, tried the same line, with the same results.
Strickland also tried some good old-fashioned speechifying that ended with him screaming at the audience. The kids kept asking each other, “Who is this guy?” The applause was sparse, the moment awkward.

A good politician would have noticed when he took the stage that the audience was filled with kids who likely did not grow up in Ohio (19 percent of Case Western Reserve University students are foreign-born) and were barely 12 years old when Clinton battled to win the state in 2008.

Instead, Clinton launched into a memorial for Ohio congressmen who were significant long before these kids were politically aware, then thanked the kids for their votes in 2008. (Again, they would have been 12 back then.)

“You lifted me up when I was down and out,” she said, referring to Ohio voters who got her flailing 2008 campaign back on its feet temporarily.

There wasn't the sound of crickets chirping, but no one picked up what she put down.

Clinton spoke for 30 minutes on voter suppression, gun control, women's reproductive rights; she called Republicans “terrorists” and championed foster care. The only time she caught the audience's attention was with a brief mention of college affordability.

It was as if time had passed her by.

This trip was billed as a grassroots support mechanism, with every attendee required to sign a pledge of support before entering the field.

What it showed was a campaign staff that is underachieving at best or failing their candidate at worst, and a candidate trapped by that staff's arrogance and her own insecurity as a campaigner.

Yet, despite standing in all of this political quicksand, Clinton remains the favorite among her party's elite.
It sounds a lot like her 2008 run when her staff seemed to be conducting the campaign like it was 1992 and couldn't adapt quickly to changing circumstances. I know that my 10th graders aren't excited about Hillary clinton. There are some girls who will talk about how they'd like to see a woman president and then add, "but...." while wrinkling their noses. They don't remember Bill Clinton's presidency; they can't remember George W. Bush's presidency. All they've really been aware of is Barack Obama as president and the bloom is off that rose for them. I don't know how much the 18-30 year old demographic resembles the 15-year olds that I teach, but if they do, it is not auspicious for Hillary.

Just great, yet so typical.
Remember the emotional gambits used to sell ObamaCare? I do. I still laugh at the nonsensical stupidity of some of them -- like appealing to our heartstrings with examples like the woman who claimed she’d been forced to wear her dead sister’s dentures. Or Sandra Fluke’s soulful appeal for her coed friends who didn’t have a spare $9 a month for birth control pills.

Fall for tales like this in haste. Repent at leisure.

The president has just rewritten ObamaCare regulations to now require insurers cover (very expensive) transgender operations.

These coverage provisions -- instead of the major medical coverage for serious illnesses most of us would prefer were we given a choice -- continue to drive up the cost of mandatory medical insurance.(Maryland’s Care First, for example, just announced an up to 26% rate increase.)

At the same time Britain’s NHS (one of the left’s hallowed models of a single-payer plan) is denying efficacious cancer medications to those who need it on the grounds the medication is too expensive. Should the tacked-on mandatory coverage provisions increase here, we can either deposit all our GNP into covering healthcare costs or watch as the less politically connected sufferers die of treatable ailments. Money really doesn’t grow on trees.

Just maybe if a then-Democrat Congress had asked themselves whether the people they represent wanted cancer treatment coverage or pills for Flukes and sex-change operations, their choice would have been different.

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According to a new biography of Donald Trump scheduled to come out later this month, "Never Enough: Donald Trump and the Pursuit of Success" by Michael D'Antonio, this is how Donald Trump answers questions about getting deferments during the Vietnam War.
Donald J. Trump, who received draft deferments through much of the Vietnam War, told the author of a forthcoming biography that he nevertheless “always felt that I was in the military” because of his education at a military-themed boarding school.

Mr. Trump said that his experience at the New York Military Academy, an expensive prep school where his parents had sent him to correct poor behavior, gave him “more training militarily than a lot of the guys that go into the military.”

....According to the book, Mr. Trump attended the New York Military Academy after years of rowdy and rebellious behavior at Kew-Forest, a more traditional prep school in Queens. Mr. Trump once recalled giving a teacher at Kew-Forest a black eye “because I didn’t think he knew anything about music.”

He arrived at the military academy — where tuition now reaches $31,000 a year — for eighth grade in 1959 and remained for high school. Like all students at the Cornwall-on-Hudson, N.Y., campus, he wore a uniform, participated in marching drills and was expected to conform to a hierarchy imposed by instructors, some of whom had served in the military.

Despite sitting out Vietnam because of deferments followed by a high draft lottery number of 356 out of 366, Mr. Trump said that he endured the rigors of real military life.

“My number was so incredible and it was a very high draft number. Anyway so I never had to do that, but I felt that I was in the military in the true sense because I dealt with those people,” he told Mr. D’Antonio.

The author seemed taken aback by this claim. Not many of the academy’s alumni “would compare military school with actual military service,” he wrote. “But the assertion was consistent with the self-image Trump often expressed.”
I don't criticize him for getting out of the Vietnam War. I well remember how people would try anything possible to get out of the draft. Yet don't denigrate the training of those who did serve by comparing it to going to a military prep school.

Here's a scary thought.
At some point, political professionals are going to study what Trump has done and begin to figure out how to use what they learn for future campaigns. When that happens, I think we will begin to see a shift in how political campaigns operate. Candidates will begin to look a lot more like reality television stars, and their campaigns will begin to look a lot more like tabloid marketing. That is to say more than they already do.

Here's an example of how polls of people are really silly if they ask about history. As Queen Elizabeth II moves towards becoming Britain's longest serving monarch, a new poll has her beating out Elizabeth I as the greatest monarch. Really? What has she ever done or accomplished?
Many also agree with historian David Starkey's comments that she has never said or done anything memorable - instead acting as a pragmatist whose sole purpose was 'to keep the royal show on the road'.
Well, that's a recipe for greatness - never saying or doing anything memorable.

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