Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Cruising the Web

Now we know how out of touch Hillary and Bernie are. This is what they each listed as their top three priorities.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who is running as a Democrat, said his priorities would be healthcare for everyone, a $15 minimum wage, and creating new jobs through infrastructure spending.

Clinton named economic issues like jobs and equal pay for women, building on Obamacare, and finding ways to unite the country and end the "mean-spiritedness" seen in the last several years.
Notice what is missing? Recent polls of what issues the public thinks are most important show some combination of the economy and jobs, health care, and terrorism. The minimum wage and equal pay for women don't make the list. Of course, Hillary is still relying on dishonest statistics about a gender gap in wages. Ashe Schow notices that Hillary has even changed her terminology of what she is calling for.
As Clinton rattled off a list of standard talking points, she included the wage gap, saying she would ensure "equal pay for women's work," a play on the claim "equal pay for equal work."

She can't say "equal pay for equal work" because that is not what causes the gender wage gap. The wage gap is caused by the different choices men and women make in their careers, including what fields they choose and whether they take time off to raise a family. There is no concrete evidence that discrimination causes any part of the gap, as Harvard economics professor Claudia Goldin recently noted....

But as was evident by the loud applause and cheering from women in the audience, it's clear that continually spewing an obvious lie — the suggestion that women are being discriminated against and that government can "fix" the problem — is a win for Democrats.

I don't know how many times fact checkers and journalists and economists and professors will have to debunk this myth for it to actually die.
And, of course, there are all sorts of laws barring an employer from paying men and women differently for the same work. So Hillary needs to make up a new term about "women's work." What does that mean? The term seems reminiscent of comparable worth theory which argues that jobs that women do should be compensated at the same rate as comparable jobs that men do.

And Hillary has some nerve talking about how she wants to end mean-spiritedness in the country. This is the woman who lists Republicans as one of her enemies and regularly accuses Republicans of wanting to keep women, minorities, and the poor down. Listen to any Hillary speech when she talks about Republicans and see how much she wants to unite the country and end mean-spiritedness.

And notice that neither candidate seems too interested in other issues that the public is concerned about such as terrorism or foreign policy or illegal immigration. Of course, we know that Hillary thinks that everything is hunky dory with Obama's foreign policy and she wants to go further than Obama did in admitting more immigrants.

Somehow, neither Hillary nor Bernie mentioned climate change as one of their priorities. That is usually one of their top issues.

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As soon as Donald Trump started playing the 9/11 card after Ted Cruz impugned his "New York values," I wondered to my husband how much Trump had donated to 9/11-related charities. And now Red State has done the research and can't find any evidence that he gave money at all to such charities.
Whether you accept or reject the billionaire’s twisted interpretation of Senator Cruz’s remarks, IRS documents show one thing for certain: Donald Trump didn’t put his money where his mouth (currently) is.

According to a thorough review, Trump didn’t see fit to give any of those millions of dollars he is always bragging about to help out the men, women, children, cops, firefighters, office workers … hey, let’s just call them New Yorkers, who were killed or who lost someone in the terror of September 11th. In fact, his supposedly philanthropic foundation hasn’t given them a single penny.

Take, for example, this 2003 report from The Foundation Center on the “unprecedented outpouring of charitable support that followed the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.” On this list of institutional donors you will see no listing for the Donald J. Trump Charitable Foundation. That’s because he made no donation to any of the listed charities set up for victims and families of 9/11.

This donation dearth includes, and this will be important later in the article, the American Red Cross Liberty Disaster Relief Fund, specifically formed for 9/11, to which Trump’s charity also gave zero dollars. (Emphasis in original)
The only charity related to 9/11 they can find that he donated to was $1000 to a Scientology program to us L. Ron Hubbard's "Purification Rundown" for workers.
This is not out of date information. Trump’s own “summary of net worth” statement, released as part of his campaign, lists no 9/11 donations. And the New York Daily News reported just last year that two separate reviews of Trump’s charitable organization “found just one donation by the Foundation to a 9/11-related cause”, the aforementioned grand to Scientology. The Associated Press also finds evidence of Trump’s supposed charitable side “elusive.’

In response to the Smoking Gun’s report that Trump had not donated to 9/11 charities, his campaign cited donations to the American Red Cross and the Marine Corps Law Enforcement Fund as evidence of his giving. These were not listed as 9/11 charities in the comprehensive report from The Foundation Center for the obvious reason that they are not 9/11 charities. You have probably given blood at the Red Cross. This does not make you a 9/11 charity donor either.

As noted above, there was a Red Cross fund set up specifically for 9/11, which Trump neither laid claim to in his statement nor gave to with his charity. He could have named it. He didn’t.

By the way, this big time billionaire “philanthropist” also failed to pitch in after Hurricane Sandy.

So Trump’s charitable organization has made no donations for Hurricane Sandy relief, and no donations for 9/11, despite his New York Values and his frequent invoking of 9/11. He has thrown a paltry grand at a Scientology program, though.

But there is at least one group he was more than happy to pony up for: The Clinton Foundation, to whom he gave $100,000 and a quarter million dollars (at least). Yeah.

Trump’s New York values, folks. Fuggedaboutit.
Whoosh! That's quite a contrast. The Smoking Gun also reports that he didn't make any donations after Hurricane Katrina.
In addition to whiffing on 9/11 charity, Trump made no donations to organizations providing aid in the wake of Hurricane Katrina’s destruction of New Orleans and other Gulf Coast areas in 2005.

When not reminding voters of his 11-figure, three-comma net worth, Trump makes sure to mention that he is the world’s preeminent real estate developer. Yet, the Master Builder offered no help in renovating a single home in New Orleans, where Trump was angling to cash in on a skyscraper project.

Days before the hurricane hit, plans were announced for a Trump International Hotel & Tower to be built in downtown New Orleans. The $400 million project was to rise 70 stories, making it the tallest building in Louisiana. The development, to which Trump licensed his name, eventually became just another Katrina casualty, with its vacant real estate parcels being sold at a sheriff’s foreclosure auction in 2011.
He also has given minimal donations to groups that help the armed forces. In fact, his charitable giving is dwarfed by that of....Leona Helmsley. The Smoking Gun report is quite devastating to any reputation Trump would like to have as someone who cares about others and actually does something about.

I hope that journalists or people at his events will start asking him about this. See what he says when his hypocrisy is exposed. There is something quite despicable about using 9/11 to support his political ambitions. It was disgusting when Hillary did it to try to explain all the Wall Street donations she got and it's disgusting when Trump does it.

Gosh, every week we get another entry into the Hillary Scandal Chronicles. Now, we're learning that the State Department asked Hillary to use the government network for her email and Huma Abedin shut that down.
Bombshell emails from the State Department show that a top official at the agency suggested to Hillary Clinton’s aide, Huma Abedin, in Aug. 2011 that the then-secretary of state begin using a government email account to protect against unexpected outages of her private email server.

But as the emails show, Abedin pushed back on the suggestion, telling the official, Stephen D. Mull, then the executive secretary of the State Department, that a State-issued Blackberry equipped with a state.gov email address “doesn’t make a lot of sense.”

Besides showing that Clinton’s top aides were against the idea of her using a state.gov email account, the emails show for the first time that top State Department officials were aware of Clinton’s private email server arrangement.

The NYT has a profile of Heidi Cruz and the difficulties the couple has faced with both pursuing high-level jobs in different cities. I think it will be hard for liberals to paint Ted Cruz as someone who doesn't respect working women or smart women, but I'm sure they'll try. I do wonder if there will be whisper campaigns against a wife who works at Goldman Sachs and is now a major fundraiser for her husband.
Inside the campaign, Mrs. Cruz has built a model that seems lifted from Wall Street, with donors labeled “investors” who are privy to “quarterly investor meetings” to discuss the “product.”

She also helped recruit an important fund-raiser, Lila Ontiveros, after Ms. Ontiveros left Goldman Sachs.

At times, the dual role of Goldman executive and political spouse has attracted attention, tugging the firm’s name into contentious political debates. For example, when Mr. Cruz helped cause a government shutdown over President Obama’s health care law, Mr. Cruz was pressed into acknowledging that he was covered by his wife’s Goldman plan, valued at more than $20,000 a year.

And this month, Mr. Cruz said his 2012 Senate campaign had failed to properly disclose large loans from Goldman and Citibank, muddying the couple’s tale of having poured their life savings into the race.

Last spring, Mrs. Cruz took an unpaid leave of absence from Goldman, immediately focusing on fund-raising for the campaign. By the fall, she had begun appearing often at her own public events and, on occasion, taking their daughters to accompany Mr. Cruz at his.

Richard Fernandez points out the difference between Hillary and Bernie's approach to their campaigns.
The administration narrative -- which is Hillary's too -- is that is all is well. Obamcare is fine,the economy great, world peace at hand. If you're worried it's because you're irrational; a dumb hater. By contrast Bernie Sanders and Trump are running on the theme that things are bad and the average Joe is being screwed over by the banks, the insiders and the Man.

One side is running on Hope and Reassurance. The other is running on Anger. So far, anger is is holding its own and may be gaining the upper hand.
Meanwhile, Ann Althouse echoes something I've been thinking about the Democrats for several years now.
Why did Democrats stand back and allow Clinton to run unopposed? She lost in 2008, so why was she entitled to this clear path they gave her? One guy, not even a Democrat, stepped into the path with her. That he's caused her so much trouble makes it obvious that she didn't deserve that deference.

I know there's another guy. I'm sure his utter irrelevance has some meaning. What gets me is the cession of the party to the Clintons. How can a party be so inert, so uninspiring? Why did Obama leave it in such a condition that it should offer up only the elderly woman who lost to him 8 years ago, offer her up as if she's so decidedly right that no one else should even compete? What deadness! Such deadness that a significantly more elderly man drops in and feels like the future. How could a party lapse into this predicament?

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This is just typical of how the most liberal of media figures are working to help out Hillary.
NBC journalist Andrea Mitchell turned the issue of Bill Clinton’s past sexual indiscretions — which includes numerous affairs and accusations of sexual assault — against Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders during Sunday’s Democratic presidential debate, taking him to task for answering a question about the issue last week in Iowa.

“You called Bill Clinton’s past transgressions ‘totally, totally, totally disagraceful and unacceptable,'” began Mitchell, who moderated the debate with her colleague Lester Holt. “Do you regret saying that?”
Why would this be a question for Bernie Sanders? And the premise seems to be that Bill Clinton's past transgressions were not disgraceful and unacceptable. I well remember a whole parade of Democrats and media figures opining back in 1998 that Bill's behavior was indeed disgraceful and unacceptable, but it just did not rise to the level of impeachment. They said that over and over. Does Andrea Mitchell disagree? How would she characterize Bill's personal behavior?

Every time I see Andrea Mitchel, I wonder what she and Alan Greenspan have in common. After all, Greenspan began his ideological life by being part of Ayn Rand's circle. I just wonder what Mitchell and Greenspan talk about. But then again, I can't understand Mary Matalin and James Carville. I'm not saying that both members of a couple have to agree politically or ideologically. But when their whole lives revolve around their ideology or party, then it just seems mystifying how they get along. And I find this especially difficult when one party argues that the other has evil motives to hurt substantial populations of the country. How do you respect and love someone who adheres to that party?

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Jed Babbin has some good questions
about the incident last week when our sailors were captured by the Iranians near Farsi Island and forced to make a propaganda video.
Question 1: We know that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps has a naval base on Farsi Island. From there, they have based “swarm” attacks — made by bunches of small armed boats — against other nations’ ships from time to time. From what we know so far, it appears that the refueling for the two riverine boats was planned to be near Farsi Island. Given wind, currents and the possibility of human error, what idiot decided to refuel the boats so near an IRGC naval base?

Question 2: What orders and rules of engagement told the sailors what they had to do if they encountered Iranian forces? The military code of conduct requires commanders not to surrender while anyone is capable of fighting. Through Iran has been at war with us since 1979, we’re not at war with them. The president gives every indication that he regards the Iranians as friends. Did the ROE require the sailors to not fire until fired upon? Just what did they say?

Question 3: Did the boat having engine trouble report that fact to higher command? If it did, was its location, and that of the second boat, tracked by satellite or otherwise? If not, why not? If the boats were tracked, were there any forces available by air or sea to rescue them from Iranian forces?

Question 4: What force confronted the two boats on Tuesday and took them prisoner? I’m not, on the basis of what we know, going to say that the ten sailors had to fight and lose their lives in a futile battle. Running was probably not possible given the disability of one boat’s engines, but surrender can’t be the first option. Nartker or one of the other sailors must have radioed for help when the Iranians approached. What was the response? Was there a Benghazi-like “stand down” order from higher ups? Just how far up the chain of command were people aware of the boats’ predicament and what did they do?

Question 5: What training in the Code of Conduct did the sailors receive? Nartker is reportedly a 2011 graduate of the Naval Academy and had to know his duties under the Code. He likely was in command of the two boats. At this point, I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt on the surrender, because he may have confronted an overwhelming force. But he must have known that making his apology to the video would lend aid and comfort to the enemy that captured his command. His conduct should be investigated and he may have to be court-martialed.
I hope that Congress will pursue such questions and we'll start to get some answers. There seems to be a lot more to this episode than the way it was portrayed by the Iranians and our government. At least we should know if this sort of episode can occur again or if our military will have different instructions on how to behave in case of a confrontation with Iran.

Anti-Semitic attacks on France's Jews continue.

Meanwhile, liberal academics are fixated on punishing Israel. Fortunately, their most recent efforts in the American Historical Association to push for a boycott of Israel has failed.
Historians this Saturday, at the annual meeting of the American Historical Association, resoundingly rejected an anti-Israel resolution. The final vote was 111-51 against the resolution which, among other things, would have committed the AHA to “monitoring Israeli actions restricting the right to education in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.”

The proposal that an association of American academics devoted to the study and promotion of history and historical thinking would monitor the actions of a sovereign state in the Middle East gives one an idea of the arrogance of the crafters of the resolution. What next? Shall they constitute themselves as a peacekeeping force? Another piece of the resolution, a call for the “reversal of Israeli policies that restrict the freedom of movement,” without any regard for Israeli security needs, gives one an idea of the moral and intellectual seriousness of the resolution.
Fortunately, some liberal historians worked against this resolution. It is particularly disgusting to have historians push for this sort of resolution. As Jonathan Marks writes,
there is still an audience for the view that the integrity of scholarly organizations demands that they avoid becoming vehicles for political activism. As Herf put it last year, after a similar resolution failed a crucial procedural vote:
Accustomed as we are to spending hundreds of hours working on thousands of documents to ascertain what actually happened in the past, it was absurd for us to presume that as historians we could determine where a bomb fell in Gaza or what the details of a particular travel entry issue were. Presumably, members realized that they should not be railroaded into reaching decisions about important resolutions on the basis of political opinions rather than the norms of scholarship.

Paul Mirengoff explains how Obama's release of Iranian criminals for the exchange for the hostages being held by Iran will facilitate Iran's propping up Assad.

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Sean Higgins explains how the administration has gotten around the law to set up a slush fund to send money to liberal groups.
In a little-noticed November report, Bank of America announced that it had donated more than $60.1 million to various charitable funds and nonprofit groups.

The donations were a good deal for Bank of America. For every dollar the bank gives, an independent monitor for the deal credits the bank with $2 toward the record $16.6 billion settlement with the Justice Department on financial fraud charges it signed in August 2014. To date, the donations have reduced that penalty by $138 million.

Ordinarily, this practice would be illegal. Not on the bank's part, but on the government's.

Federal law says that any funds obtained by a government official, such as a Justice Department prosecutor, must be deposited with the Treasury Department. Officials cannot instruct anybody making a payment to direct the funds anywhere else, much less offer them a deal if they do.

Yet President Obama's Justice Department has found a legal workaround to do just that in two of the biggest financial fraud settlements the government has ever obtained. Left-leaning nonprofit groups who would be eligible for the donations lobbied for this, according to Republican critics.

How does the Justice Department do this? By arguing that these are "voluntary" donations by the banks and therefore not funds that would otherwise go to the Treasury. Never mind that the banks would violate their plea agreements with the department if they did not make the payments.

"It's a cute lawyer's trick," said Paul Larkin, senior legal research fellow with the conservative Heritage Foundation. "Rather than take the money and then hand it out, which they cannot do, they tell the bank to give it directly. It's really an effort to funnel public money to private parties."
Does it surprise anyone that the Obama administration would find tricks to funnel money to liberal community organizations?

Leon Wolf points
to this bit theology from Donald Trump as he explains that he doesn't ask for forgiveness from God and that doesn't matter because he has good poll numbers. Because we know that religious belief is all based on poll numbers.
The coup de grĂ¢ce, however, was Trump’s appearance with Jake Tapper on CNN’s State of the Nation. As my colleague streiff noted, this was the third time Trump was asked whether he has ever asked God for forgiveness, because his the previous two times he has answered this question, he gave answers that were almost too bizarre to be believed.

This time, not only did he repeat the fact that he’s never even felt it necessary to ask God for forgiveness, but he seemed to bizarrely claim that his poll numbers validate this approach:
TAPPER: Do you regret making that remark (about not asking God for forgiveness)?

TRUMP: No. I have a great relationship with God. I have a great relationship with the Evangelicals. In fact, nationwide, I’m up by a lot, I’m leading everybody. But I like to be good. I don’t like to have to ask for forgiveness. And I am good. I don’t do a lot of things that are bad. I try to do nothing that is bad. I live a very different life than probably a lot of people would think. And I have…

TAPPER: Always? Or just now?

TRUMP: …a very great relationship with God and I have a very great relationship with Evangelicals. I think that’s why I’m doing so well with Iowa.

TAPPER: The life you have now, when you say you try to do good, that sounds very different from decades of tabloid, media coverage, in New York, in which some of your wilder escapades were…

TRUMP: I’m talking about over the last number of years. I’m leading a very good life. I try to lead a good life. And I have. And, frankly, the reason I’m doing so well in Iowa, and leading the polls, including the CNN poll where I’m 33 to 20 in Iowa….

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Bret Stephens marvels
at the efforts by liberals to normalize Iran and ridicule conservatives for continuing to demonize Iran's government.
Today’s liberal foreign policy, to adapt Churchill, is appeasement wrapped in realism inside moral equivalency. When it comes to Iran policy, that means believing that we have sinned at least as much against the Iranians as they have sinned against us; that our national-security interests require us to come to terms with the Iranians; and that the best way to allay the suspicions—and, over time, diminish the influence—of Iranian hard-liners is by engaging the moderates ever more closely and demonstrating ever-greater diplomatic flexibility.

That’s a neat theory, proved wrong by experience at every turn. The Carter administration hailed the Ayatollah Khomeini as “a saint.” Our embassy was seized. Ronald Reagan sent Khomeini a birthday cake, along with secret arms, to facilitate the release of hostages in Lebanon. A few hostages were released, while others were taken in their place. The world welcomed the election of “moderate” President Mohammad Khatami in 1997. Iran’s illicit nuclear facilities were exposed during his second term.

In 2009, on the eve of presidential elections, the New York Times’s Roger Cohen celebrated “the vibrancy of a changing, highly educated society” that he had found on his visits to Tehran. “The equating of Iran with terror today is simplistic,” he wrote. After the election, he ran for his life from the terror of the same street militia that had murdered Agha-Soltan.

Now we’re supposed to believe that the change Mr. Cohen and others had hoped for has finally arrived. The proof, supposedly, is that the regime has so far kept to its nuclear promises (in exchange for a $100 billion windfall), that it swiftly released U.S. sailors (after scoring a small propaganda coup), and that it let the other hostages go (though only after very nearly taking the wife and mother of one of those hostages in his turn, and then after an additional $1.7 billion reward from the U.S.).

Are these signs of a new-and-improved regime? Or merely one that is again being given good reasons to believe that it can always extract a bribe for its bad behavior? The notion of moral hazard, fundamental to economics, has a foreign-policy dimension, too. Any country that believes it will never be made to pay the price for the risks it takes will take ever-greater risks. It’s bad enough when the country in question is Greece. This is Iran.

Jazz Shaw links to a NY Post story that New York City's infamous "rubber rooms" for bad teachers who have been accused of incompetence or misconduct but protected by the teachers unions have returned.
he city’s infamous rubber rooms have rebounded.

In one of the “reassignment centers,” 16 exiled educators sit in a city Department of Education building in Long Island City, Queens, including a dozen packed into one room — where they do virtually no work.

They listen to music, do crossword puzzles, chat — and as this exclusive Post photo reveals, doze on the taxpayer’s dime.

The rules forbid beach chairs and air mattresses, but not nap time. The teacher sprawled on the floor, pulled a wool hat over his eyes to shut out the fluorescent lights and slept.

Others prop up two chairs to recline or just lay their heads on the table. “It’s gone right back to the way it was in the old days, an old-fashioned rubber room,” one banished teacher said.
Of course, the city denies that these rooms where reassigned teachers who do nothing while being paid by the city according to the teachers' contract exist. However, the NY Post has pictures of the teachers killing time while being paid.
Several teachers on the payroll have been benched for up to five years due to a stunning bureaucratic breakdown. The 2010 deal required the independent arbitrators who conduct termination trials to issue a decision 30 days after a hearing, so that vindicated teachers could return to work and bad ones could be axed.

But decisions still come months — or even years — late. The DOE says it can’t enforce the rule.

“They’re just letting me sit here,” said a teacher removed from the classroom nearly five years ago on charges of physically abusing children, which he denies. His trial ended four years ago. He makes about $70,000 a year.
I hope New Yorkers appreciate where their tax money is going.

How amusing that conservative talk radio is now turning on Donald Trump because he attacked Ted Cruz. They've been dancing with the devil, but now they don't like how he's leading them around the floor. Many in talk radio love Cruz because of how he shut down the government, briefly, over Obamacare. They like him because he ticks off the GOP in Congress. And now Trump is attacking him for not working nicely with Mitch McConnell and other GOP leaders. That's just what conservative talk radio hosts like Rush Limbaugh and Mark Levin like about Cruz.