Monday, January 25, 2016

Cruising the Web

My deepest hope for this election is to elect someone who will roll back as much of Obama's bad policies on the economy, foreign policy, regulations, as well as his multitude of executive actions that have bypassed Congress. Thus, it is imperative to defeat Hillary Clinton with the most conservative, electable candidate. That is one of the main reasons that I have opposed Donald Trump. He is not a conservative, has never been a conservative, and is clearly now only pretending to be a conservative. Add in his seeming authoritarian view of the presidency as a job where he can just decree something and it will be so, a view of constitutional separation of powers that is even worse than Obama's. So I fully support National Review's issue opposing Trump because he is no conservative.

For those who don't believe Trump is a conservative, listen to his own words as presented in an ad by an anti-Trump PAC.
Just having a web ad doesn't do much and I don't know how much money they have to air on TV. I think it's powerful, but I don't think such attacks will do any good just as I don't think that National Review's compilation of many diverse conservatives explaining what they don't like about Trump will have any effect whatsoever since I don't think that most of the people supporting Trump truly care about conservatism. If they did, they wouldn't support him. Perhaps they like his pretense of a stand on immigration or they enjoy how his statements destroy political correctness. Or his tone expresses their own anger. Or they enjoy his celebrity and ridiculing of his critics. I don't know. It's all been beyond me at this point. When I see conservatives on TV or hear them on the radio or read the emails that my readers send me praising Trump, I'm continually astounded and simply befuddled.

Of course, if Trump were running against just one or even two other Republicans, Trump's numbers wouldn't be so impressive. That is why I am so irritated by all the attacks that the other Republicans are making against each other. Talk about a circular firing squad. I've been leaning toward Marco Rubio because I think that he has the best chance against the Democrats. Robert Tracinski explains Rubio's strength for the general election.
Ideally, the person who wins the primaries is the person who is able to add together the ideologues, the populists, the libertarians, the hawks, the religious voters, and so on. He must then continue to add on the independents, the moderates, the conservative Democrats, and so on.

On paper, the person most capable of doing this is Rubio. He had just enough Tea Party credentials — having defeated a big-government Republican — to appeal to the radicals, but his earnest demeanor and interest in forging political compromises would make him acceptable to the moderates and establishment. As for the ideological wing of the right, here I must confess my own preference. I have found Rubio very appealing because when it comes to the big intellectual and policy issues, he is able to talk substantively and eloquently, in a way that indicates he understands the issues first-hand and in detail. If you’re from the ideological wing of the right, you’re used to having politicians throw out a bunch of well-worn slogans to indicate their loyalty to your cause — but what you really want is someone who is capable of going beyond slogans and understanding the issues. Rubio consistently does that. I don’t always agree with exactly where he stands, but his ability to deal with politics on a thoughtful, intellectual level makes me think he is reachable by rational argument, which is what we ideologues look for above all....

And if he wins, Rubio has the clearest path to winning in the general election, because he is by far the best equipped to continue an additive strategy, appealing to independents, moderates, and conservative Democrats, and by generally appearing idealistic, thoughtful, and sincere. Judging from the lame attempts so far at personal attacks on him, he will be impossible for the mainstream media to demonize. (By contrast, the combative radicalism that makes Cruz appealing also makes it very easy to demonize him, and Trump — who is famous for hosting a show in which he fires people on live TV — is already demonized.)
But Rubio has been decimated by attacks from the other candidates, particularly from Jeb Bush's Super PAC. If what John Podhoretz alleges that Bush's Super PAC, Right to Rise, has thrown $20 million or 35% of its money on attacking Rubio, basically out of personal resentment that Rubio didn't defer to Jeb Bush, that is truly disgusting. It hasn't helped Bush make any progress, but it has stalled out Rubio. They're not attacking the other so-called moderates in the same lane as Bush like Christie and Kasich. And they haven't attacked Cruz and just one minor ad against Trump. Instead, their money is targeted specifically against Rubio.
Here’s the thing. Mike Murphy — a hilarious and punchy guy with whom I’ve had a long friendly acquaintance that I suspect will not survive the publication of this column — is anything but crazy. But he is often angry.

And what’s been happening here is in part the flowering of a seed of rage that has been growing within the precincts of what insiders call “Jebworld” for a year.

I’ve been told by people in the know in Florida and elsewhere that Jeb’s campaign intimates (and Jeb himself, for all I know) believe strongly that, out of loyalty, Rubio should have passed on a 2016 run. Back in 1998, Jeb offered crucial support to Rubio at a very early stage in his career and along the way as well.

Rubio’s decision to run is therefore viewed as a deep personal betrayal. And I mean very, very deep — so deep that senior members of Bush’s staff last summer began calling Rubio “Judas.”

I’ve also heard that in attempting to raise new money for Jeb while Bush was sinking quickly in the polls a few months ago and convince others not to give to the other Floridian, Murphy was privately very clear that he was going to go for Marco’s jugular no matter what.

In other words: Maybe Jeb wasn’t going to be the nominee, but it for damn sure wasn’t going to be Marco, either.

It’s a political Oedipus complex in reverse.
The Bush family has a long history of acting like gentlemen in politics. Think of how neither George H.w. Bush nor George W. Bush have publicly criticized their successors despite how Clinton and Obama consistently bad-mouthed their predecessors. Jeb has usually seemed as a decent guy. But, by taking such a low road against Rubio, he has just ended up helping Trump. I wasn't supporting Bush during this contest, but I had good feelings for him because of his support for charter schools and vouchers in Florida. Now, he's totally lost me.

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It's also disheartening to see how so many Washington Republicans are coming out publicly against Ted Cruz. I can understand that they don't like him, but the idea that somehow Trump would be better than Cruz because they think that Trump is easier to work with just betrays how cynically such Republicans are about conservatism. They think they can do business with Trump.
Of course, this willingness to accommodate Mr. Trump is driven in part by the fact that few among the Republican professional class believe he would win a general election. In their minds, it would be better to effectively rent the party to Mr. Trump for four months this fall, through the general election, than risk turning it over to Mr. Cruz for at least four years, as either the president or the next-in-line leader for the 2020 nomination.

And, even if Mr. Trump somehow found his way into the White House, the longtime Washington hands envision him operating as a pragmatist, leaving their power unchecked.

“We can live with Trump,” said Richard F. Hohlt, a veteran lobbyist, reflecting his colleagues’ sentiment at a Republican National Committee meeting last week in Charleston, S.C. “Do they all love Trump? No. But there’s a feeling that he is not going to layer over the party or install his own person. Whereas Cruz will have his own people there.”

....Mr. Trump is also a recognizable type in the political world. A wealthy businessman, he has given money to donation-hungry candidates for decades, often welcoming the supplicants to his Manhattan office. He has also employed a small stable of lobbyists in Washington, such as Mr. Black, and in state capitals to promote his real estate and casino empire. He has had large law and lobbying firms on retainer.
They've worked with Trump in the past and they hope they can work with him again. Plus they just can't stand Cruz. Do they care about ideology? Not really.

Ben Domenech explains another reason why they want to stop Cruz.
Coming as it does from so many Washington politicos who have for years said it was beyond the pale to attack fellow Republicans, and how dare conservatives not rally behind their chosen candidate, the hypocrisy here of rejecting a lifelong Republican in Cruz for a Republican of convenience in Trump is laughable. The motivations are obvious: first, there is the personal animus; second, the partisan belief Cruz would fail and Trump would succeed; third, the cynical view that Trump would be a better working partner than Cruz.

Except there’s one more thing going on here too – the recognition of a threat to the existing order not of Ted Cruz the man, but Ted Cruz the model. Yes, Cruz himself is an existential threat to the established order in Washington, someone with the potential to reorient a party coalition and blow up the existing gravy train. But everyone in Washington who depends on that order is convinced that he’s a general election loser. So why the palatable underlying fear for the disruption a Cruz nomination could bring? If they’re so certain he’s going to lose, why worry?

Because the threat smart members of the Washington political elite truly believe in is not Ted Cruz, but the model he represents: that the path for an ambitious freshman politician to achieve leadership of the Republican Party in this day and age is not the normal give and take and deference to leaders and precedent and the way we do things around here, but instead to take a flamethrower to this system from day one. Regardless of whether Cruz wins a general election, his nomination could fundamentally transform the political incentives of the Senate and change the internal dynamics of the Senate Republican Conference. It shows that you can get a shot at the presidency not by playing along, but by playing your own game.

The potential of every two years having someone walk through the door in each new Senate class who thinks they could be the next potential Ted Cruz is an absolute nightmare for those who have thrived in their cushy lifestyles as stewards of the world’s most exclusive club. And that is why his nomination is unacceptable.

Ted Cruz has unleashed his first attack ad on Donald Trump and it is on the subject of eminent domain and how Trump tried to take the house of an elderly widow so he could build a parking lot for his casino. Trump's only defense is that he tried to take the widow's house, but failed. He's proud of what he tried to do. But what will it matter to Trump supporters? Of course not. How many of his supporters care about eminent domain? True conservatives find this despicable behavior, but my guess is that most of his supporters aren't true conservatives and eminent domain is way down on their list os issues they care about. He would have done better running an ad like the one above with quotes from Trump's mouth about how supports Hillary, Obama, partial-birth abortion, etc.

Apparently, the National Review folks are getting hammered by Trump supporters on Twitter and even a lot of Fox folks are excoriating them for attacking the Republican frontrunner. Why should they care whether Trump is ahead in the polls? Jonah Goldberg explains how ridiculous these criticisms are as he asks, "Since when do I have to support Trump just because he's the frontrunner?"
So before we get into it, let me just say up front that rather than this being a low point or an epic fail or a betrayal, this is in fact one of National Review’s finest moments. If it costs us subscribers, or readers, or advertisers (all of which I doubt), so be it. What is it the Marines say? “Pain is weakness leaving the body.” Well, such losses to National Review would be like dross being skimmed off freshly forged steel.


I should be clear: I don’t think everyone who supports Donald Trump is dross. Some are even friends of mine. But I do think they, collectively, are wrong. But they are wrong for different reasons. Indeed, there’s a remarkable diversity of wrongness out there.

Some people believe there are no gradations of wrong; that wrong is an absolute state. Not so. There are whole hierarchies of wrong. If you think 2+2 is 5, you’re a little wrong. If you think 2+2 is a 100-foot lizard destroying downtown Tokyo, you’re very wrong.

Similarly, there are errors based on different kinds of thinking. Many of the people lambasting National Review are arguing ad populum. The people — here defined as a plurality of GOP poll respondents or talk-radio listeners — are for Trump, therefore Trump is not only the right candidate, but he must be a conservative, too.

As I mentioned above, my favorite form of this fallacious argument is that National Review is — or I personally am — required (required!) to support the GOP front-runner. When Donald Trump signed that pledge to support the GOP nominee a few months ago, scads of people asked whether I would do likewise. Can they really not see the category error here? My job — our job — is to write and say the truth as I see it. That’s it. Of course we can be wrong. It’s happened plenty of times. But to think we should be wrong on purpose is to confuse National Review for a press release or a bit of direct-mail marketing.

But the real irony of this “support the front-runner” nonsense is that it runs completely counter to the usual gripe we get — that we’re too supportive of the GOP. Which is it? Are we “GOPe” hacks carrying water for the party? Or are we fools and traitors for not backing the party front-runner just because he’s the front-runner? Trump is a hero “because he fights.” We are knaves and traitors because we fight back.

I have another question: Now that the establishment is rallying to Trump, can I be anti-establishment again if I stay critical of Trump? That’d be nice.

The point here is that “anti-establishment” is not a synonym for “conservative,” as I wrote the other day in the Corner. One of the reasons I can’t stand the use and abuse of the term “establishment” is that it’s like a three-legged pack mule carrying the load for an entire wagon train of assumptions.

“Anti-establishment” is almost entirely devoid of any ideological content whatsoever. An ideological category that can include Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders, Occupy Wall Street, the tea parties, Ted Cruz, Mark Levin, Rush Limbaugh, and Ben Carson is not a particularly meaningful one.

Some reply, oh no, it shows that the people are angry! I hear this all the time. And I agree. And I’m angry too. But you know what? Being angry is not a frick’n argument.
Of course, that is using logic and the pro-Trump people have left logic behind. Perhaps Trump is correct and he could indeed shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and not lose any votes. Perhaps not. But his confidence that he could expresses a deep contempt for his supporters. It's as if he were saying that he knows there is no logic or reason in their support of him.

Another reason why conservative attacks on Trump won't work is what Jim Geraghty points out. Americans seem to like big government.
But what if Americans have heard the arguments for smaller government, understand the arguments — or understand them as well as they’re ever going to — and have rejected them?

Does a country where the popular vote in the last six elections went for Clinton, Clinton, Gore, Bush, Obama and Obama really crave smaller government?

Polling indicates that 70 percent want a smaller deficit . . . but the only spending cut that gets anywhere near a majority support is to foreign aid — about 1 percent of the budget — and even that’s close to an even split. “For 18 of 19 programs tested, majorities want either to increase spending or maintain it at current levels.” People want smaller government right up until the point where it actually affects them.
Once they get elected, politicians don't seem all that worried about lowering the debt.
If the national debt were tangible — a giant monster, rampaging across the landscape — people would mobilize to stop it. But it’s not; it’s just a number on a piece of paper. By the time Obama leaves office, he’ll have added about $8 trillion to the debt, and plenty of Americans — to the extent they’re even aware of it — will feel it hasn’t affected their lives one bit. The interest payments on the debt — $227 billion — don’t “feel” big enough, and aren’t squeezing out other spending priorities enough, to worry people.

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I've been quite amused by all the agonies supposedly being suffered by the black actors who were not nominated for Oscars. I enjoy seeing leftists eat their own. Here is one explanation for why black actors didn't make the cut this year. They had to give away to Hollywood's love of liberal storylines.
But giving awards to people of color is currently the Academy’s second-favorite thing in the world. Its favorite thing is giving awards for performances in movies about upper-class 1940s lesbian college professors who bravely battled both unjust banking practices and homophobia—bonus points if they were persecuted by political or religious conservatives, double bonus points if they worked in Hollywood, and triple bonus points if they existed in real life.

Because the Academy insists on doing its favorite thing, because it insists on giving all its awards to films of this nature, it can’t help but exclude those of ethnicities that weren’t terribly prevalent in 1940s upper-class British academic circles or on McCarthy-era blacklists...., the Oscars have no choice but to fail at racial inclusivity as long as they prefer to shower awards on cinematic stories that exclude most of the races....

And it’s hardly the Academy’s fault blacks were too busy not being allowed to be screenwriters in 1950s Hollywood or that Latinos failed to adequately represent themselves in 1920s Scandinavian LGBTQ circles or that no one of Middle Eastern descent would have been believable as the half-German inventor of the iMac.

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Jay Cost explains why the Republican party hasn't stopped Trump. First, there is no such thing as a united modern political party that operates like the Empire in Star Wars to stop or support a candidate. There are individuals acting in their own interest. An additional tactic is that the other candidates are trying to ignore Trump at the moment. The one with the highest interest in stopping Trump is Ted Cruz and the other candidates may well perceive Trump as a stalking horse to stop Ted Cruz. They hope that Trump can maybe win Iowa and that will stop all of the momentum for Cruz so that their candidate can then shoot through the crowd to take Trump head on. Cost predicts that it is after New Hampshire and South Carolina when the field starts consolidating that we'll see party leaders, senators, governors etc. uniting behind an anti-Trump candidate.
The crucial moment for Trump and the GOP will come after the field consolidates, especially after New Hampshire. There are a large number of candidates who have placed their biggest bet on New Hampshire: not just Bush, Christie, Kasich, and Rubio, but also Rand Paul and Carly Fiorina. No more than two of those candidates should survive the New Hampshire primary, and the South Carolina primary should winnow the survivors down to just one (although the chance that more candidates successfully run this gauntlet is not negligible).

If the Republican party is going to make a move against Trump, look for it to happen toward the conclusion of this consolidation. As presidential candidates fold their campaigns, their endorsers, allies, strategists, donors, and well-wishers will be free to reposition themselves. It is an easy bet that the vast majority of them will prefer the winner of the Bush-Christie-Kasich-Rubio fight to either Cruz or Trump. This will especially be the case if Rubio wins; as a conservative who has worked constructively within the Senate, his appeal among regular Republicans is probably the broadest.

It is then that we should see the balance of the Republican party make a vigorous case against Trump.
Of course, it may be too late by then. We can keep our fingers crossed that Trump's momentum won't be so strong that he doesn't start running the table just as other GOP candidates have done after winning the early states.

Heather MacDonald chastises Hillary Clinton for perpetuating the myth that there is persistent racism in today's justice system.
If Clinton is elected president, we will probably continue to “ignore” the one “very serious problem” that we do have with regard to policing, crime, and race — and that is black crime. The magnitude of black crime dwarfs the fatal shootings by police officers that, according to the Black Lives Matter movement, so oppress the black community. In fact, if we are going to have a “Lives Matter” crusade, it would more appropriately be labeled “White and Hispanic Lives Matter.” Twelve percent of white and Hispanic homicide victims are killed by the police, compared with 4 percent of black homicide victims, as newly revealed in a Manhattan Institute Reality Check. You would never know that truth from the Black Lives Matter movement, however, which makes out the police to be a full-time black-killing machine. Cost's final recommendation is that the party needs to change how the entire process works.
A final point: reasonable Republicans of all ideological stripes should be dissatisfied by the gross inefficiencies of this process—it is needlessly expensive, too focused on trivialities, and forces candidates from the same party to hurl all manner of insults at one another, which only helps the Democrats. There is no rational reason for the way the current rules operate. it is the result of short-sighted decisions and full-blown historical accidents. Our Founding Fathers understood that good rules are necessary for good policy—that is why they drafted the Constitution with such diligence. The same logic holds for how parties select their nominees: if you want good candidates, you need good rules.

Republicans would do well to learn some hard lessons of this process—during which a two-bit, liberal demagogue has dominated the field for seven months—and invest serious efforts in root-and-branch reform of the rules of the Republican nomination process.
And, conveniently, Jay Cost and Jeffrey H. Anderson have such a proposal out there.

That threefold disparity in the rate of officer-involved victimizations is the result of black crime: The number of blacks killed by other blacks is so massive that it overshadows all other homicides. In 2014, 6,095 blacks were killed nationwide, according to the FBI, 93 percent of them by other blacks. That is a sum greater than the number of white and Hispanic homicide victims combined (5,397 in 2014, according to the FBI), even though blacks are only 13 percent of the nation’s population. In 2015, 258 blacks were killed by the police, according to the Washington Post’s open-source database of police killings — representing 4 percent of all black homicide deaths. Officers killed 493 whites and 169 Hispanics — representing 12 percent of all white and Hispanic homicide deaths in 2014. The vast majority of all victims of fatal police shootings — white, black, and Hispanic — were armed or threatening the officer with other forms of potentially lethal force. But the black dominance in violence shows up in cop-killings as well: Forty percent of all police officers murdered from 2005 to 2014 were killed by blacks.
The focus on the Black Lives Matter movement by the media and politicians has served to distract from the real problems in crime that we're facing. And, of course, Hillary Clinton, needing the black vote, is buying right in. And the result will be fewer people who will want to join the police force and more hesitancy by the police in dangerous situations. And the ones who will suffer will be poor minorities who can't get out of crime-infested neighborhoods.

But then Cory Booker has declared that Hillary is the most qualified candidate for the presidency since George Washington. Oh, dear. Does he even have any connection with reality? That doesn't even step up to the bar to attempt to take the laugh test.

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