Thursday, February 04, 2016

Cruising the Web

Given that Ted Cruz has a liking for reading Dr. Seuss aloud, I have a suggestion for the next Dr. Seuss book he can read to the public as he responds to Donald Trump's malarkey.

That doesn't mean that the Cruz campaign wasn't clearly playing all the angles in Iowa. It was a bit nasty to jump all over the announcement that Carson was leaving the state and to imply that he was going to drop out. And I didn't like his vote shaming flyer that was disguised as a mailing from the Iowa government. Sure, it's an old-time voting technique that lots of other campaigns have done, but it's still distasteful I am not sure how much this will hurt Cruz. Clearly, Trump has yet again found a way to dominate the media and swallow up coverage of Cruz's victory in Iowa. But it didn't hurt Cruz in Iowa to have the focus the weekend before the vote devoted to criticism of his mailer. John Hinderaker has a good point about how, if at all, this might damage Cruz.
The conventional wisdom is that mini-scandals like these hurt a candidate when they reinforce a negative perception that voters already have. I think that is the case here. One knock on Cruz is that he is desperate to be president and will do anything to win. While I have generally admired Cruz, I think that critique has merit. My guess is that quite a few voters who have heard that Cruz will bend the rules to win now believe that what they have been told is true. Will that sink his candidacy? No, but it certainly won’t help. And it leaves him vulnerable to worse damage if similar incidents occur later in the campaign.
And it will be a distraction going into the vote in New Hampshire on Tuesday. But I don't think it will help Trump at all. He just comes off as a whiny brat who would rather make these sorts of nonsensical accusations than talk about the issues that people really care about. For a guy who portrays himself as the ultimate winner, a strong guy that voters should put their dependence on, Trump seems to be pushing people to keep remembering him as a loser.

And as David Harsanyi points out, there is no evidence that the Cruz passing on rumors about Ben Carson dropping out turned out to hurt Carson in the Iowa caucuses.
Where is the evidence that the CNN story or the Cruz tactic changed the dynamics of the race at all? Carson’s RealClearPolitics polling average was 7.7 percent—with some of the better polling putting him at 9 percent. One poll even had him at 10 percent. He finished the night with 9.3 percent of the vote. This seems right, and probably a little better than expected. Carson’s numbers had taken a nosedive since peaking on Nov. 1st, and there was no evidence that a Carson surge was underway. Quite the opposite, in fact.

Even if we concede, for the sake of discussion, that Carson lost two or even three thousands voters to the rumor (which is pushing it), nothing changes. Even if Carson finished at 10 percent or 12 percent, the political outcome is the same. To believe Trump was cheated out of the race, you have to accept that Carson lost more than six thousand supporters, and all of them went to Cruz. Well, Carson pulled in a little over 17,300 votes.

In truth, it’s far more likely that any Carson defecting voters would have dispersed somewhat evenly among the other major candidates. Let’s go big, though, and say Carson lost 15,000 supporters. According to a not-very-scientific NBC poll in early January, Cruz and Trump were tied as the second choice of Carson supports, at 26 percent each. Trump would have been in the same place.

Donald K. Trump, Will you Please Go Now?

Every time I think he's plumbed new depths of ridiculousness, he digs in deeper. Apparently, he thinks poll results say more than actual votes. And if you pay attention to the polls, he clearly won Iowa. It's all clear.

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Donald Trump gets the much-valued Jimmy Carter endorsement.
Jimmy Carter would pick Donald Trump over Ted Cruz, but he doesn't think Trump will make it that far.

“I think I would choose Trump, which may surprise some of you,” the former Democratic president said during an appearance at Britain’s House of Lords on Wednesday afternoon. He was asked who he would pick for the GOP nomination.

“The reason is, Trump has proven already he’s completely malleable,” Carter explained. “I don’t think he has any fixed [positions] he’d go the White House and fight for. On the other hand, Ted Cruz is not malleable. He has far-right wing policies he’d pursue if he became president.”
Gee, being called malleable by Jimmy Carter - doesn't that give Republicans confidence in Trump. It almost makes me wonder if Carter is not so appalled by Trump that he decided that the best thing he could do to harm Trump was come out in support of him while delivering the sort of back-handed compliment that would repel Republicans.

Donald Trump has come out blaming his team in Iowa for his loss there. Kevin Williamson points to the irony of that excuse that I had actually been thinking when I read that.
Donald Trump’s professed strategy — for everything — is: I’ll find the best people, the smartest people, terrific people, and those terrific people will come up with the best solutions possible. Implicit here is a pyramid of terrificness with Donald Trump at its apex.

And what was Trump’s explanation for his poor performance in Iowa? “People told me my ground game was fine.” I.e., “I got bad advice.” As it turns out, Trump could not find the best people, the smartest people, terrific people for the relatively straightforward process of identifying supporters in Iowa, the population of which is less than half of Long Island’s, and getting them to caucus locations.

Bend Beijing to his will? Construct thousands of miles of effective barriers across the Mexican border? He couldn’t get his team to the Dunkerton Community Hall and Bunger Middle School when it really mattered.

Trump cannot accept responsibility for his mistakes, which is a crippling disability for any leader. He blames his underlings while insisting that the most important skill he brings to the contest is his ability to choose the right people for the job.
This is the man who thinks he doesn't need to give any hint of how he would address any foreign policy problem or the wars we're engaged in because he's just hire the best people. Well, why doesn't he hire better campaign operatives? And we now find out that his staff was giving him good advice and he just ignored it.
n the lead-up to Donald Trump’s loss in Iowa, staffers sought additional funding for campaign infrastructure and were denied.

Now, six days from the New Hampshire primary and looking for his first win, Trump is still refusing to shake up his ground game. He has added just one paid organizer in the state, a move that came a month ago. Instead, he is pushing ahead with plans to campaign outside of the state in the final week of voting and will count on the glamour of famous surrogates, including his sons, who plan to tour New Hampshire beginning this weekend.

Even as Republicans here warn that Trump does not appear to have the ground game to match his sky-high expectations and the campaign grapples with internal disagreements about investments in infrastructure, campaign manager Corey Lewandowski said Trump should and would stay the course heading into Monday’s primary.

“Two completely separate states, two very different races,” he said. “No Republican in the history of the modern Republican Party other than an incumbent president has won both the states of Iowa and New Hampshire.”

Trump enjoys much larger polling leads in New Hampshire and South Carolina than he did in Iowa — and voter turnout efforts matter less in these primary states than in caucus states.

But there is tension inside the Trump campaign about the robustness of its field and data operations. One person familiar with the disagreements said Trump’s state directors have been denied funding for their field and data requests.
I hope his employees realize that they can't win. He'll resist their good advice and then blame them when things don't turn out his way. Or he'll blame both them and Ted Cruz's dirty tricks.

The Washington Post looks at how and why Tim Scott chose Marco Rubio for president. I didn't find his choice all that remarkable considering who else is running. Why wouldn't he pick a senator who is basically congenial to his views rather than one who wasn't or the governors. I assume he never considered Trump, but perhaps he did. But it was interesting to read how he went about making up his list of pros and cons.

It seems that Hillary Clinton isn't the only member of an Obama administration who didn't understand the importance of not sending sensitive information by unprotected emails.
The State Department has confirmed that Clinton’s successor as secretary of state, John Kerry, sent her a message, now deemed secret, from his personal e-mail account.

At the time (May 2011), Kerry chaired the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, with access to top-level secrets. But since Kerry sent the message, he presumably knew Hillary also wasn’t using a government e-mail address.

Same for President Obama: He claims he first learned about Clinton’s private e-mail address from news accounts — but it turns out he and Hillary exchanged at least 18 ­e-mails, which State refuses to make public.

Uh-oh: What did the president know, and when did he know it?

....Which raises the question of whether the president, by communicating with Hillary over her unprotected server, also mishandled classified information. Will that play a role in the final call on bringing criminal charges in Clinton’s case?

The scandal, in short, is about more than just Hillary Clinton now.
And now we learn that, as first lady, even though she didn't have security clearance, she still saw classified information. The Daily Caller finds an interview that she did with George Stephanopoulos during back in 2007 while she was running against Obama.
STEPHANOPOULOS: How about in the White House? The New York Times wrote this week that you did not attend National Security Council meetings, you did not receive the president's daily briefing, didn't have a security clearance. And that calls your experience in the White House into question.

CLINTON: Well, I just disagree with that. You know, I can imagine what the stories would have been had I attended a National Security Council meeting. You were there. I think you can vouch for that.

But I had direct access to all of the decision-makers. I was briefed on a range of issues, often provided classified information. And often when I traveled on behalf of our country. I traveled with representatives from the DOD, the CIA, the State Department. I think that my experience is unique, having been eight years in the White House, having, yes, been part of making history, and also been part of learning how to best present our country's case.
The Daily Caller talks to a security expert who handles security clearance and Freedom of Information Act cases.
“Although a first lady does not have a security clearance, per se, I think most of us expect that married people will discuss professional matters with each other in private, even if they are the president and first lady,” Moss told The Daily Caller, adding that as the “ultimate Original Classification Authority,” the president “can, technically speaking, choose on his own authority to disclose to his spouse certain classified information.”

“If that is what she is claiming occurred…and the information is solely provided verbally, then this is an interesting but ultimately minor insight into White House operations,” said Moss, noting that Clinton did not clarify the source of the information in her interview with Stephanopoulos.

It is also noteworthy that when Clinton bragged that she received classified information as first lady, she mentioned it in the context of having “direct access to all the decision-makers.”

....But if Clinton was indicating in her 2007 interview that she was given access to classified documents or that officials other than her husband were giving her access to classified information, “then there are numerous questions and concerns that would obviously be raised about the appropriateness of that having happened,” says Moss.

“The first lady is not a constitutional officer and the position does not require access to classified information,” he said, adding that he struggles to imagine a scenario where it would be appropriate for anyone other than the president to provide such information to their spouse.
Have other first ladies gotten classified briefings or is it just Hillary who was breaking the law?

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Betsy McCaughey explains
how Obama is giving a huge present to lawyers with his "'diversity' diktat."
If you’re a white male looking for a job, your search just got harder.

Claiming women aren’t getting paid enough, President Obama wants to make it easier to accuse employers of gender discrimination and hit them with class-action lawsuits. A new regulation proposed on Friday will require all employers with 100 or more workers to report how much their workforce is paid, broken down by race and gender.

The rule, slated to go into effect in September 2017, will cause headaches for employers and anyone — man or woman — who works hard and expects to get ahead based on merit. The winners are federal bean counters, class-action lawyers and the Democratic Party, which is playing up the gender “wage gap” as usual during this election year.

Never mind that the gap is largely fiction. Or that Uncle Sam’s social engineers are foisting their cookie-cutter vision of a politically correct workplace on employers, denying them the freedom to hire and promote based on merit.

Race and gender discrimination is already against the law. As it should be. But seniority, education and merit often explain salary differences.

That won’t be good enough in the future. Employers will have to change their policies to avoid these differences — for example, not preferring the job applicant who has a college degree over the applicant who doesn’t, unless the job can be shown to require college skills. The burden is on employers. It’s assumed they’re discriminating, in other words, and they have to prove they’re not.
The harm that this president has done to our country and government keeps going on and on.

Universities keep trying to deprive students of their rights. The College Fix reports on a proposal at the University of Iowa to give the school the power to search fraternities and sororities without a warrant.
Fraternities and sororities could find their residences searched without a warrant – even those that are privately owned – under a rule being considered by Indiana University-Bloomington.

The College Fix, which does a great job of letting us know of the craziness going on in universities, reports on how Georgetown Law School wants to deny its students the right to engage in political speech.
Since September it has prevented students who support Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders from distributing campaign material and primary voting information – tabling either inside or outside,...

The law school claims that its tax-exempt status is threatened if it lets students engage in campaign-related activities on campus or use university resources for political activity.
They don't even want students to distribute leaflets, display posters, or transmit campaign materials over the internet. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education has written Georgetown Law to explain how they are totally misinterpreting the law.
Georgetown Law fails to recognize the distinction between institutional expression and that of individual students and student organizations, which are strongly presumed to speak only for themselves and not their institutions. Provided that students and student organizations comply with relevant policies applied in a content-neutral manner to all individuals and groups, the university does not face a threat to its tax-exempt status by permitting them to engage in partisan political speech.
It makes one wonder about the sort of education people are getting at Georgetown Law if they don't understand this difference.

David French
links to this story in the Chronicle of Higher Education about how colleges are establishing "bias-response" teams. The purpose of such teams is to allow students to report when they perceive bias on campus. French comments,
Universities are playing a dangerous constitutional game. They’re trying to deter speech they don’t like while avoiding creating policies or procedures that are plainly unconstitutional. As a result, they often do is create a “process-is-punishment” mechanism that subjects offending students to intrusive and humiliating investigations all the while claiming to any watching free speech advocates (or federal judges) that they’re not actually prohibiting protected speech, they’re just “investigating complaints.”

Moreover, if you think the participants are overzealous college students, think again. The team members are often “student-affairs officers or professors.” And campus censorship is always accompanied by a healthy dose of coddling. This is just pitiful:
[A]t the University of Oregon, volunteers armed with cards and information attend events — protests, for instance — that are deemed potentially upsetting and tell offended students what they can do and where they can go for help.
I know from speaking to countless college students that bias-response teams have a profound chilling effect on free speech. In schools where teams are active, it’s the rare college student who has the intestinal fortitude to speak freely on matters of race, class, gender, or sexuality if their views are out-of-step with campus ideologues. Bias-response teams are ripe for legal challenge and legislative intervention. Do state lawmakers really want their universities to spend money on the speech police?
It really is frightening to see how far colleges are going these days to protect students from anything that might upset their tender sensibilities. Freedom of speech be damned!

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Jeff Jacoby ponders Hillary Clinton's qualifications for the presidency. Both Senator Cory Booker and James Carville think she's the most qualified candidate since George Washington. How do they even say such things. Apparently, one unremarkable term as senator and four years as Secretary of State that strains people's creativity to list her accomplishments equals whatever other qualifications any other president has had. Oh, and she rode into the White House with her rogue of a husband. These ware all just titles; they're not accomplishments. Jacoby remembers another president who had a truly sparkling resume.
If imposing resumes augured presidential greatness, James Buchanan would be on Mount Rushmore. Prior to becoming the 15th president of the United States, Buchanan was a member of the Pennsylvania legislature, was elected five times to the US House of Representatives, and served as ambassador to Russia. He went back to Congress after his diplomatic tour in St. Petersburg, spending 10 years as senator from Pennsylvania — a post he resigned in 1845 to become secretary of state. He was offered a seat on the Supreme Court, which he declined, but later returned to diplomacy as America’s ambassador to Great Britain.

When Buchanan was elected president in 1856, it doubtless seemed to many that a candidate with such glittering political credentials was destined for brilliance in the White House. But Buchanan failed miserably as president. He was hesitant to lead, paralyzed by the secession crisis, and unwilling to hear dissenting viewpoints. Moreover, as presidential historian Alvin Felzenberg writes, Buchanan was a cynical operator who “betrayed a cavalier attitude toward ethics, both public and private, and seemed to believe that most everyone else did as well.” By the time he left office, the nation was on the brink of civil war.

Buchanan was succeeded by the president Hillary Clinton says she finds most inspiring: Abraham Lincoln. One of the most heroic figures in American history, President Lincoln was also, in conventional terms, one of the least qualified. A single term in Congress, an unremarkable stint in the Illinois legislature, a failed Senate campaign — nobody could have called Lincoln’s pre-presidential career a dazzling political success. Yet it was he who preserved the Union, ended slavery, and saved the “last, best hope of earth.”

A list of offices held is a flimsy guide to the quality of a presidential candidate. Integrity, vision, humility, consistency of purpose, a willingness to learn — those are far more reliable indicators of excellence in a potential president. Clinton has a fine resume. But history repeatedly reminds us that it takes more than that to make a fine president.
My students often ask me who my favorite president is. That's easy. In my mind, no one, not even Washington, measures up to Lincoln. And when they ask me who the worst one was, I tell them that James Buchanan retired the prize. But he was also Secretary of State, so he must have been great. If we were going to rate presidents who had also served as Secretary of State, John Quincy Adams wins that race hands down. I think he was perhaps the best Secretary of State we ever had. He was clearly one of the best qualified men to be president having served as a diplomat ever since he was a young man. Unfortunately for him, he was president in the era of Andrew Jackson and he just couldn't compete.

Daniel Henninger has been looking over the polling data from Iowa and discovers that Trump lost the election for those who considered economic issues the most important.
On the central conservative issue of government spending—Iowa Republicans’ top concern at 32%—Mr. Cruz led with 27% to Mr. Trump’s meager 19%. Mr. Trump also trailed Marco Rubio here.

Sophists might argue that spending is Republican code for suppressing outlays on Social Security and Medicare, which Mr. Trump, with an eye toward the general election, has said he won’t do. Then let’s move on to the less partisan subject of jobs and the economy, which Iowa Republicans’ identified as their second most-pressing issue. Marco Rubio won them with 30% of the vote.

At the margin, Mr. Trump lost votes to Messrs. Cruz and Rubio on spending and to Mr. Rubio on the economy.
Henninger points out that the unemployment rate is low in both Iowa and New Hampshire, but higher when we start turning to the Southern states. And it's particularly high among black men. So he argues that "It's the economy, stupid" should still be the mantra for the 2016 election.

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