Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Cruising the Web

Noah Rothman wonders if Democrats may come to regret Obama's presidency.
Barring a spectacular collapse on the part of the Republican Party in 2016 – a feat that the GOP is perfectly capable of manufacturing – the president will leave behind him an opposition party that is in as strong an electoral position as at any point in the last century.

Barack Obama’s signature health care law is imploding with the slow and steady pace of a celestial body. The Affordable Care Act is failing to meet enrollment projections, is losing one local cooperative after another, and is imposing unsustainable burdens on Medicare and Medicaid – making the case for entitlement reform that much more urgent. Today, the likely Democratic presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, has joined every Republican presidential candidate in conceding that the next president will reform ObamaCare. To what extent depends on the party in power.

A president who was elected to end American wars in two nations will leave with U.S. soldiers still fighting and still dying in Iraq and Afghanistan. What’s more, his feckless approach to foreign affairs has opened up new theaters in America’s post-9/11 campaigns. American troops are today on the ground in Syria, and that commitment is only likely to expand next year. The radical Islamic terrorist threat is gestating in a fourth theater, Libya, and it may soon demand American attention. Obama’s reluctance to meet threats to Western security head-on has led Americans to warm again to the prospect of sending expeditionary forces abroad. The latest Quinnipiac University survey to ask whether the U.S. should send combat forces to Iraq and Syria found 52 percent of respondents approving, including 41 percent of self-described Democrats and 45 percent of independents.

Obama is counting on the power of the presidential pen to enliven otherwise morose left-wing Democrats. The president’s final State of the Union address promises to be grand theater – so much of the president’s legacy hinges on 2016. If Democrats fail to win the White House for a third consecutive term, it will not be long before liberals take stock of the president’s works and despair. So many of Obama’s achievements were temporary and tactical, and they will not survive the next administration. Unless Republicans nominate and elect a true Cincinnatus, Democrats will come to loathe the executive powers Obama expanded to achieve his short-lived victories as one by one those powers are deployed to achieve conservative ends.

Hillary Clinton could still secure many of Obama’s achievements if she wins in November. If, however, Republicans retake the people’s house in 2017, the Democratic consensus opinion will soon settle on the notion that the Obama presidency was a period of unrealized promise – one they are unlikely to see again in their lifetimes.
Probably, it's more likely that they'll blame Republicans for Obama's failures.

This is the Obama economy.
The stock market closed down for 2015 reversing one of the few positive accomplishments under the Barack Obama presidency. This has been a pretty prosperous time for the top two percent. For most Americans though — not so much.

A new report from Sentier Research based on Census data finds that median household income of $56,700 at the end of 2015 stood exactly where it was adjusted for inflation at the end of 2007.

That’s eight years of virtually zero income gain. And President Obama and his Washington political pundits wonder why voters are in such a cranky mood.

Last week the Joint Economic Committee of Congress issued a report on the Obama recovery loaded with even more dismal news. On almost every measure examined, the 2009-15 recovery since the recovery ended in June of 2009 has been the meekest in more than 50 years.

Shop Amazon - Kindle Book Deals - up to 85% Off

Shop Amazon Fashion - Women's Running Shoes

Shop Amazon Fashion - Men's Running Shoes

It's funny how Bill Clinton can't answer a question about whether questions about his past are fair game. He babbles a bit and then says that the "Republicans have to decide who they want to nominate." Yes, that's true, but it wasn't the question. I don't think he has an answer.

Mollie Hemingway has an answer.
Finally, why the heck wouldn’t it be “fair game?” It’s of course fair game to ask how the president of the United States acted in a predatory fashion toward an intern. In what world would that not be fair game?

....So yes, if Hillary Clinton wants to run for office, tweet about rape culture and bring ol’ Bill out to help her, it’s all fair game. And it’s a game that does not play to her strengths. Donald Trump was smart to bring it up, particularly in the fashion he did. He’s not saying either Clinton’s behavior is disqualifying, just that they can’t play the sexism card with him without him bringing it up.

And in the same way that Trump reminded Republican voters this week about why they rejected Christie in the first place (hint: Obama embrace in the Fall of 2012), Trump is reminding all Americans why they grew so weary of the Clintons so long ago.

It may not be polite, but it’s ruthlessly effective and efficient.
Michael Tomasky, no member of the vast right-wing conspiracy, also sees trouble for Hillary.
Back last September in Iowa, she said the words: “Today I want to send a message to every survivor of sexual assault. Don't let anyone silence your voice. You have the right to be heard. You have the right to be believed, and we’re with you.” Obviously, “believed” is the operative word there, and quite reasonably, conservatives pounced on it at the time; oh well then, do Jones/Willey/Broaddrick deserve to be “believed”? As Michelle Goldberg noted last week at Slate, a voter asked Clinton essentially this in New Hampshire in December, and her answer wasn’t the greatest: “Well, I would say that everybody should be believed at first, until they are disbelieved based on evidence.”

The other potential complication for Clinton may center around the question of what she did, if anything, to discredit Jones and the others. Jones said this in her interview, too. It’s been a given for years on the anti-Clinton right that Hillary Macbeth orchestrated vicious campaigns to discredit these women. The mainstream press has never really picked this up; to conservatives, that’s because of liberal media bias, to the rest of us, it’s because there’s been no hard evidence of this, and because there exists a long, long, long list of things they’ve accused Hillary of doing that she pretty obviously never did.

Chances are, assuming no corroborating evidence turns up in any of these three cases, most voters aren’t going to be very interested. But Hillary Clinton still has to think through how she handles this. As Goldberg noted in her piece, the politics around sexual harassment and assault have changed a lot since the 1990s, in ways that are for the better in general but sure don’t strengthen Hillary’s hand if/when she has to discuss these cases directly.

In addition, she’ll need to bear in mind when she does talk about all this that for most women voters, this story isn’t about the old “vast right-wing conspiracy,” of which most will have at best a fleeting memory. It’s about the reality of sexual predation in their lives. That state representative from New Hampshire who heckled her was “very rude,” as Clinton said; but she is also a rape survivor, as are millions of other American women. That’s the audience Clinton will need to speak to, not liberals who remember who Linda Tripp was.
We'll have to see, but I would suspect that this personal history limits her ability to cast herself as the golden candidate for whom women have been waiting all this time.

I also think it's such a hoot how the MSM, which doesn't want to talk about Bill's sexual peccadillos and how Hillary defended him by attacking his accusers now have to do it because they are unable to ignore anything that Donald Trump says. Trump has done a lot to hurt the GOP this campaign season, but his making the former president's harassment and outright abuse of women a subject has laid a foundation that might disarm Hillary's whole "war on women" shtick. And it might be enlightening for the younger generation that has no idea of his extensive history of abusing women.

I'd say that it was ironic and sad that Bill's sleazy behavior is, once again, rebounding to hurt Hillary as it has so many times in the past if she hadn't participated by sliming his victims. And liberals who spent the 1990s defending Bill's sexual abuse of women by also attacking the women must now be, in their heart of hearts, a bit sickened that they have to do it all over again.

However, I think the biggest weakness that Bill brings to the Hillary campaign is the scandals revolving on the money that he and his foundation received while she was Secretary of State from countries, companies, and individuals who had business before the State Department. The WSJ reports,
At Hillary Clinton’s confirmation hearing for secretary of state, she promised she would take “extraordinary steps…to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest.”

Later, more than two dozen companies and groups and one foreign government paid former President Bill Clinton a total of more than $8 million to give speeches around the time they also had matters before Mrs. Clinton’s State Department, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis.

Fifteen of them also donated a total of between $5 million and $15 million to the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation, the family’s charity, according to foundation disclosures.

In several instances, State Department actions benefited those that paid Mr. Clinton.
Remember when Democrats thundered about the "appearance of corruption"? That's their whole rationale for wanting to limit campaign contributions. But it's all copacetic if the Clintons do it, whether it was when he was in the White House and they used the Lincoln Bedroom as a toll booth to collect soft money or more recently when they were hoovering up money for their personal coffers as well as their foundation. Here is the sort of sleaze Bill was engaged in.
Mr. Clinton, for example, collected $1 million for two appearances sponsored by the Abu Dhabi government that were arranged while Mrs. Clinton was secretary of state. His speeches there came during and after the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security were involved in discussions about a plan to open a U.S. facility in the Abu Dhabi airport to ease visa processing for travel to the U.S. The State Department supported the facility in the face of substantial opposition from unions, members of Congress and others.
Paul Mirengoff compiled a list of the companies that paid Bill for speeches while they had business pending before Hillary's State Department.
UBS: $1,015,000
Ericsson: $750,000
Goldman Sachs Group: $600,000
Oracle: $500,000
Abu Dhabi Global Environmental Data Initiative: $500,000
World Travel and Tourism Council: $500,000
Renaissance Capital: $500,000
Samsung Electronics: $450,000
Aflac: $300,000
Dell Computer: $300,000
Salesforce.com: $258,000
I'm sure that the Republicans are already working on campaign ads that will run that list on the screen while casting aspersions on the Clinton's ethics.

New Deals Every Day for Home and Kitchen

Star Wars Toys

Sales and Deals in Beauty and Grooming

For those doubting that the Democratic National Committee is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Hillary campaign, here is some more evidence.
Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee have an unusual and apparently unprecedented agreement in which an entity she controls has paid nearly $20 million to the political panel, even as its leadership plays a supposedly impartial role in fostering competition between the former secretary of state and her rivals for the party’s 2016 presidential nomination.

Clinton created a “joint fundraising committee” Sept. 10 that funneled big-money donations in excess of the per-campaign limit to the DNC. In the next 20 days, she raised and gave $600,000 to the DNC, and the figure ballooned to $18 million in the fourth quarter, according to newly released figures–a third of her total haul. Normally the party would only team up with a candidate that way if the candidate was the nominee.

“There is clearly an appearance that Clinton’s ability to raise money for the DNC (and states) through her joint fundraising committee could influence the party during the primaries,” Larry Noble, general counsel of the Campaign Legal Center and the former top lawyer for the Federal Election Commission, told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
No wonder that Debbie Wassermann Schultz arranged the debates so they would get the minimum visibility possible. The question Democrats should have is why, especially given her opponents' reluctance to attack her, the DNC doesn't want the public to see Hillary in a debate.

Matt Lewis points to a potential weakness for Chris Christie - his record of appointing liberal justices to the state bench in New Jersey. I can imagine that being a bigger problem for Christie among the Republican electorate than Rubio having missed some votes in the Senate. It plays to the doubts that many Republicans have already about Christie stemming from the 2008 campaign. But we'll see if anyone makes a point of Christie's judicial nominations. It depends, I bet, how much of a threat they think he might be. A super PAC supporting Rubio is going to air ads in New Hampshire criticizing Christie for his support of Common Core and his expansion of Medicaid while reminding viewers how he embraced President Obama after Hurricane Sandy. They're also going to attack him for the state of the economy in New Jersey and Bridgegate. They must be really worried about Christie taking votes away from Rubio.

Rick Perlstein, no conservative, cheers the "well-deserved fall of Rahm Emanuel." He dislikes Emanuel for the moves that Emanuel made to move to the center as a Clinton adviser and when he was soliciting Democratic Congressional candidates in 2006. As mayor he angered teachers by trying to lengthen the school day.
A fact-check by Chicago’s public-radio station, WBEZ, discovered that many of the facts that the city gave about the decision [to close fifty-four schools] were not accurate. But don’t confuse that inquiry with a joint investigation by WBEZ and the schools magazine Catalyst Chicago which discovered that Emanuel’s claim about high-school-graduation rates—that they would increase by fifteen percentage points—was also a mirage. (Dropouts are reassigned to for-profit online education programs that demand very little work, and then are awarded diplomas from the school they last attended or one near where they live.) Or with the multi-part series by Chicago magazine that blew the mayor’s claims about Chicago’s supposedly declining homicide rates out of the water, too. (One method: categorizing homicide victims as “noncriminal deaths.”)

Now the sins of Emanuel are finally catching up with him. Lucky for him, however, the compounding police-shooting scandal has erased from the news a peccadillo from this past November: the mayor’s press team was eavesdropping and recording reporters while they interviewed aldermen critical of the mayor. A spokesman responded to the press by saying that their only intent was also “to make sure reporters have what you need, which is exactly what you have here.” That made no sense. But then so much of the legend of Rahm Emanuel’s brilliant career makes little sense. The bigger question, perhaps, is what this says about a political party and the political press that bought the legend in the first place. (Links in the original]
So it seems that both liberals and Republicans despise the guy. He's just lucky that Illinois has no recall procedures for mayors.

Featured Deals in Sports and Fitness

Today’s Deals at Amazon

Best-selling Vitamins

A California teacher explains why he's part of a suit to be heard next week in the Supreme Court. He is part of a group which wants to strike down the closed-shop requirements in 23 states that workers who do not want to join a union must still pay fees. Even if a teacher doesn't want to be part of the union, the teacher must still pay about $1000 a year that supposedly covers collective bargaining. The idea is that whatever contract the union negotiates would cover all teachers, even those who are not union members.
But over time I’ve learned that the union’s collective bargaining is every bit as political. The union is bargaining for things I’d never support. For example, in my community, the union spends resources pushing for ever-higher teacher salaries. I’m in favor of a decent salary for teachers, but I think we are already well paid compared with everyone else in the Central Valley.

The area has endured hard times in the past few years. Parents of my students have been laid off, and many are still unemployed. Some have moved in with grandparents or other family members to stay afloat financially. Families struggle to make ends meet. That the union would presume to push, allegedly on my behalf, for higher salaries at the expense of smaller class sizes and avoiding teacher layoffs is preposterous.

The union also negotiates policies on discipline, grievances and seniority that make it difficult—if not impossible—to remove bad teachers. Over three decades I’ve seen my share of educators who should be doing something else. One example that sticks with me involved a colleague whom everyone, students and faculty, knew was incompetent. All on campus knew that he was biding his time until retirement.
I know that, as a teacher, I would oppose any contract that made it difficult to fire incompetent teachers. I've taught in regular public schools where the principals could not fire tenured teachers even though every single person in the school, teachers, administrators, and students, knew how ineffective certain teachers were. I resented having the chaos from those teachers' classrooms affect my classes. I resented having to do extra duties to compensate for inability of those teachers to carry out their responsibilities. I wanted those teachers to be fired for the good of the school and for the sake of those students who had to endure a year with an incompetent teacher. Then I went to work at a charter school and had to give up tenure to work there. And I love it. I like knowing that my fellow teachers will either be dedicated and competent people or they'll be gone. The administration will work with a weak teacher, but if the teacher can't demonstrate improvement, they're not afraid to let that person go rather than force students to endure incompetence. If I were a public school teacher in California, I would be happy to join this suit. Why should I pay $1000 for contract provisions with which I strongly disagree?

Charles C. W. Cooke, who is an ardent defender of the Second Amendment, argues that Obama's executive actions are actually self-defeating.
1) In order to make his actions appear meaningful, Obama is going to have to pretend that they represent serious change. If he does that, though, he’ll permit his opponents to say, “look, we just did big gun control by executive order, we have other things to do, and we’re not doing it again.” That matters. The Left makes great hay out of the “we never do anything” line, and its more effective advocates use our present inertia to justify the need for experimentation. Insofar as there is any, Obama has slowed the momentum for further gun-control. This is not how you win the argument.

2) By taking this route, Obama will help to entrench America’s gun culture — and for little in return. Ceteris paribus, the United States will play host to at least another 20 million guns by the end of December 2016 — many of them so-called “assault weapons.” In addition, the country will welcome another million or so concealed carriers, and another half-million or so NRA members. Every time the president talks about gun control, these numbers increase, and, in consequence, the president’s opponents are strengthened. Not only will this maneuver make it more likely that a Republican presidential candidate will make inroads with pro-gun voters — the ads write themselves: “you don’t want another anti-gun would-be King, do you?” — but it will likely damage the long-term prospects for change. By his own account, Obama wants to reduce, not increase, the number of guns in circulation. If history is anything to go by, this action will do precisely the opposite.

And for what? A minor change to the way in which firearms are sold on the private market? Obama has let his emotion get the better of him here. He and his fellow travelers will likely pay a price.

Kevin Williamson ponders how the government assiduously collects some data and then just doesn't seem to have any interest in other useful information.
An interesting related report comes from the New York Times. Don’t try explaining it to a Trumpkin, but the largest source of illegal immigration into these United States today isn’t farmhands marching stoically across our unsecured southern border, but visitors who enter legally on visas and then refuse to go home when their visas expire. This cohort by some estimates now accounts for more than half of all illegal immigration. But how many overstays are there?

Nobody knows.

In congressional testimony in December, Alan Bersin, assistant secretary for international affairs at the Department of Homeland Security — the most cruelly misnamed bureaucratic concatenation since the Government Accountability Office — was asked by Representative Mark Meadows (R., N.C.) to answer the simple question of how many aliens illegally overstay their visas every year. Bersin’s answer as quoted in the Times was: “We don’t know.”

Why don’t we know? There doesn’t seem to have been an estimate of the problem since 1997, which was a few years before persistent visa overstayers Satam al-Suqami and Nawaf al-Hazmi helped crash airliners into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001.
Williamson reflects on how many times a person traveling abroad must fill out forms and present his passport. Anyone who has traveled to another country knows about all the forms and documents that must be presented to get through customs.
Which is to say, as a citizen coming and going, I present the federal government with a dozen or so opportunities to determine my whereabouts and the legality of same. But we cannot keep track of foreign nationals who are obliged to apply for visas?


From two of the 9/11 hijackers to one of the San Bernardino shooters, our visa program is a real source of national vulnerability to terrorism. And the fact is that the federal government is doing such a catastrophically poor job policing visa overstays that its minions are terrified even to keep track of how catastrophically poorly they are performing.

We are perfectly capable of keeping track of these things: Miss the January payment on your Macy’s card by two days, and financial firms around the world will know instantly, but flout federal immigration law, and the mighty, mighty Department of Homeland Security can’t find its own ass with both hands, much less locate yours.

Coupons for Vitamins and Dietary Supplements

Health and Personal Care Coupons

Deals in Tools and Improvement

Is this behavior by Trump towards the family of his older brother, an alcoholic, an example of the greatness that Trump's admirers prize?
Freddy's son, Fred III, spoke at the funeral, and that night, his wife went into labor with their son, who developed seizures that led to cerebral palsy. The Trump family promised that it would take care of the medical bills.

Then came the unveiling of Fred Sr.’s will, which Donald had helped draft. It divided the bulk of the inheritance, at least $20 million, among his children and their descendants, “other than my son Fred C. Trump Jr.”

Freddy’s children sued, claiming that an earlier version of the will had entitled them to their father’s share of the estate, but that Donald and his siblings had used “undue influence” over their grandfather, who had dementia, to cut them out.

A week later, Mr. Trump retaliated by withdrawing the medical benefits critical to his nephew’s infant child. “I was angry because they sued,” he explained during last week’s interview.
So he brags about his billions which was built on his inheritance from his father. And he turned around and denied medical benefits to a baby born with a disability. Jim Geraghty imagines how Democrats would use that in a campaign ad. Hey, if they used Mitt Romney's dog and blamed him for the death of a woman's death even though she had her own health insurance, what would they do about his denying a baby with cerebral palsy financial help for medical care?

Vanity Fair has a fawning profile of Megyn Kennedy. They really like it that she is tough on conservatives. They don't give any examples of her skewering liberals; I don't watch her show enough to know if many of them go on her show. Maybe she'd be as tough on liberals also if they were more likely to go on her show.

Noemie Emery reminds us of how the media have covered for Obama to downplay his foreign policy failures.
Sometime in the spring of 2007, something strange happened to the Iraqi coverage in the national media — it disappeared. Or rather, as soon as the news ceased to be bad, the media lost interest in covering it. It was not till July, when Michael O'Hanlon reported back from the front that the surge had been working, that the world started to realize what happened. To them, the fact that George W. Bush had succeeded in something was what the press couldn't bear to believe.

Something of the sort is happening now in reverse regarding the current Middle East crises, which make Iraq in 2006 seem calm in comparison. This time the press, which can no longer deny that the world has been going to hell since Barack Obama started unleashing his peacemaking powers, is doing its best to insulate him completely from any possible blame for it all. Where Bush was asked every day if he regretted invading Iraq, Obama is never asked if he thinks leaving Iraq had something to do with the chaos engulfing the region, or the vulnerability of citizens here and in Europe to Islamic State-inspired attacks.

And while Bush was held responsible for every last casualty that occurred anywhere while he held office, Obama is absolved from responsibility for the massacres, rapes and enslavement of innocents that have followed his numerous foreign policy blunders — given a pass as the victim of forces he did not enable and disasters he didn't create.

"Be very glad we don't have a Republican president," Walter Russell Mead told us in May of last year, warning that if such were so we would be enduring a "merciless media pounding" on the series of "failures, mistakes, and false starts" that have been our lot since Obama took office. Instead, we have a Democrat who is allowed by the press to fail quietly, discreetly, and off center stage. Thus, into a second year of beheadings and horror, we see headlines like "Attacks Don't Shake President's Faith in Patient Strategy" (Washington Post); "Speech Was a Plea for Patience and National Unity" (New York Times); and "Obama Addresses a Shifting Landscape," (Washington Post), suggesting support for a put-upon leader facing conditions he never expected to meet.