Friday, March 18, 2016

Cruising the Web

So how are your brackets doing? Baylor and Purdue losing hurt me. I had Purdue going much further, but I suspect that is because deep down, Mitch Daniels, who is now the president of Purdue, is one of my favorite politicians so I had a soft spot for his school. Such is the research I put into these things. Last year I read a bunch of the experts and followed a lot of Jay Bilas's recommendations and my bracket stunk. This year I filled two brackets out very quickly with no real research involved. We'll see if that works better.

I watched the second half of the Yale-Baylor game. That was exciting. Just because Duke beat them overwhelmingly in November, doesn't mean that it will happen again in March, but I'm hoping so. Even if I have to hear yet again about the player who took a year off to tour with the Whiffenpoofs. But did they have to schedule the game on Saturday when I'm at a quiz bowl tournament with my team? Argh! Fortunately, there is an app for that.

I love this answer that the Baylor player made when a reporter asked him how Yale managed to outrebound Baylor, a team known for its rebounding.

Here is a nice story on two days spent with Jay Bilas. It's a crazy time of year for him, but he loves it. I agree with him that there is something seriously skewed about how college sports work with everyone making a lot of money except the athletes involved. His arguments make a lot of sense.

Saturday will end with the much-anticipated rematch of the Spurs and the Warriors. I have been anticipating that since the Warriors creamed the Spurs earlier this year. Even though I like and appreciate the Warriors, there is something about the Spurs that I just really admire and enjoy. I'll be pulling for them. Here is am SI profile of Kawhi Leonard who has to be the most modest superstar since...Tim Duncan.

You might be able to tell how I've been filling my spare time as I inhabit the Slough of Despond over today's politics. I'm limiting my consumption of political news so I don't get too angry or depressed. I don't know what I'll do when basketball season is over. I don't think I can convince myself to give a hoot about hockey or baseball. I'll just have to read books.

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Charles Krauthammer discusses the air of violence in this year's politics. And it's not coming from Donald Trump.
The immediate conventional wisdom was to blame the disturbance on the “toxic environment” created by Trump. Nonsense. This was an act of deliberate sabotage created by a totalitarian left that specializes in the intimidation and silencing of political opponents.

Its pedigree goes back to early-20th-century fascism and communism. Its more recent incarnation has been developed on college campuses, where for years leftists have been taunting, disrupting and ultimately shutting down and shutting out conservative speakers of every stripe — long before Donald Trump.

The Chicago shutdown was a planned attack on free speech and free assembly. Hence the exultant chant of the protesters upon the announcement of the rally’s cancellation: “We stopped Trump.” It had all of the spontaneity of a beer-hall putsch.
And that is going to continue. They were successful so it will continue. And why stop at Trump? It will happen for Cruz and Kasich, if he catches fire. And Hillary won't be immune either. It's the politics of thuggery.

But, as Krauthammer continues, Trump shares the blame for other acts of thuggery.
But there’s a second, quite separate form of thuggery threatening the 2016 campaign — a leading candidate who, with a wink and a nod (and sometimes less subtlety), is stoking anger and encouraging violence.

This must be distinguished from what happened in Chicago, where Trump was the victim and for which he is not responsible. But he is responsible for saying of a protester at his rally in Las Vegas that “I love the old days. You know what they used to do to guys like that . . . ? They’d be carried out on a stretcher, folks.”

He told another rally that if they see any protesters preparing to throw a tomato, to “knock the crap out of them . . . I promise you I will pay for the legal fees.” Referring in an interview to yet another protester, Trump said “maybe he should have been roughed up.”

At the Vegas event, Trump had said, “I’d like to punch him in the face.” Well, in Fayetteville, N.C., one of his supporters did exactly that for him — sucker-punching in the face a protester being led away. The attacker is being charged with assault.

Trump is not responsible for the assault. But he is responsible for refusing to condemn it. Asked about it, he dodged and weaved, searching for extenuation. “The man got carried away.” So what? If people who get carried away are allowed to sucker-punch others, we’d be living in a jungle.

Trump said that it was obvious that the cold-cocker “obviously loves his country.” What is it about punching a demonstrator in the face that makes evident one’s patriotism? Particularly when the attacker said on television, “Next time we see him, we might have to kill him.”

Whoa! That’s lynch talk. And rather than condemn that man, Trump said he would be instructing his people to look into paying his legal fees.

This from the leader of the now strongest faction in the Republican Party, the man most likely to be the GOP nominee for president. And who, when asked on Wednesday about the possibility of being denied the nomination at the convention if he’s way ahead in delegates but just short of a majority, said: “I think you’d have riots,” adding “I wouldn’t lead it but I think bad things would happen.”

Is that incitement to riot? Legally, no. But you’d have to be a fool to miss the underlying implication.
It doesn't make Trump Hitler. That's foolish talk. I can't stand when people make hyperbolic analogies like that. Compare Hitler to Stalin or Mao, but don't compare him to an American politician just because you don't like him.

But Trump's rhetoric is contemptible and unworthy of a leading candidate who brags about how he's going to bring the country together.
There’s an air of division in the country. Fine. It’s happened often in our history. Indeed, the whole point of politics is to identify, highlight, argue and ultimately adjudicate and accommodate such divisions. Politics is the civilized substitute for settling things the old-fashioned way — laying your opponent out on a stretcher.

What is so disturbing today is that suffusing our politics is not just an air of division but also an air of menace. It’s being fueled on both sides: one side through organized anti-free-speech agitation using Bolshevik tactics; the other side by verbal encouragement and threats of varying degrees of subtlety.

They may feed off each other but they are of independent origin. And both are repugnant, both dangerous and both deserving of the most unreserved condemnation.
There are people who write me or comment on my blog to excuse Trump's rhetoric because of how the leftists have targeted him. What they don't get is that both are contemptible and dangerous for our politics. Yes, I'm disgusted with how the left has been blocking conservatives from speaking on college campuses for years and the leftists administrations have been caving under to such actions for a long, long time instead of expelling a few students. That would have really cut down on such behavior, but the silence from administrators and professors has allowed these hecklers and protesters to have free reign over who can speak on their campuses.

This has now spread to politics. But it doesn't mean that we should close our eyes to Trump's signaling to his supporters that a little violence is the proper response and he'll pay their legal fees. And his remarks about there being riots at the convention if he doesn't get the nomination are of the same ilk. He could have said that his followers would be very upset and not vote for any other GOP candidate or they'd leave the party, but he chose to talk about riots. That was a signal to his followers and to the Republican leaders of what might happen if they don't hand him the nomination even if he doesn't win it at the convention. He chose to talk about riots instead of a political response. Do you think that choice of word was random? I thought the appeal of Trump was that he says what he means. And now his followers say that they love him for the way he talks but we should just choose certain language and ignore it. He means what he says except when he doesn't? Is that the best you've got for why you like him?

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Matthew Continetti identifies
the major element of Barack Obama's character that has driven his foreign policy - he's a narcissist.
Russia announces the withdrawal of its forces from Syria. The decision is a surprise—President Obama is shocked. This is a feeling he experiences often.

He was astonished when Vladimir Putin intervened in the Syrian conflict in 2015. He was startled when ISIS conquered a fair portion of Mesopotamia in 2014. He was jarred when Putin invaded Crimea, and launched a proxy war in eastern Ukraine that same year. Rogue states pursue policies contrary to what Obama the Wise sees as their self-interest, and the presidential response never varies. He is stunned. He is saddened. He is sanguine.

Bewilderment happens when reality dispels illusions. I used to think President Obama’s illusions were simply the product of his ideology, of his faith in the universality of human reason, in the idea of historical progress, of his ambivalence toward American power. But after reading Jeffrey Goldberg’s epic, absorbing, revealing interview with the president in The Atlantic, I have come to a different conclusion. It’s not just ideology that drives Obama’s cluelessness. It’s narcissism.

If there is a theme to Goldberg’s article, it is this: Barack Obama knows better. He knows better than the “foreign policy establishment” that his team snidely dismisses as controlled by Jewish and Arab money. He knows better than the elected leaders of Great Britain, France, and Israel, and the monarchs of Saudi Arabia and Jordan, of whom he is so contemptuous. (Angela Merkel of Germany, Goldberg reports, is “one of the few foreign leaders Obama respects.”) And he knows better than his critics, whose arguments he pores over in obsessive detail, coming up with explanations, rebuttals, and straw men to dismiss them.

Why does Obama know better? Not out of any intense study of or reflection on diplomatic and world history and international relations theory. Not because he served in the military or in the diplomatic corps or held senior posts in government prior to election as president. What graces Obama with superior insight and prudence is the simple fact of his own existence. He is his own proof of his superiority.

Goldberg tells us about one of Benjamin Netanyahu’s visits to the states. “The Israeli prime minister launched into something of a lecture about the dangers of the brutal region in which he lives, and Obama felt that Netanyahu was behaving in a condescending fashion, and was also avoiding the subject at hand: peace negotiations.” So Obama interrupted him.

“Bibi, you have to understand something,” Obama said. “I’m the African-American son of a single mother, and I live here, in this house. I live in the White House. I managed to get elected president of the United States. You think I don’t understand what you’re talking about, but I do.”

Now, Barack Obama is a tremendously accomplished man. He is clearly very intelligent and well read, he graduated from Columbia and Harvard, he is the author of two highly praised books and will no doubt write many more in the years to come, he went from nothing to president of the United States in less than a decade, he has outfoxed his Republican opponents at nearly every turn. But his reply to Netanyahu is a colossal non sequitur, a category error of enormous proportions. It makes absolutely no sense.

In what mental universe other than the president’s does being raised in Hawaii and Indonesia and spending adulthood rising through the academy and U.S. political institutions grant someone a deep (or even superficial!) understanding of Zionism, of the Holocaust, of four wars for survival over 25 years, of unending terrorist violence directed toward civilians, of hijackings and kidnappings and bombings and stabbings, of SCUD attacks from Iraq, rockets from Lebanon and Gaza, incitement and de-legitimization campaigns from Tehran? Conversely, what in President Obama’s life story leads him to comprehend the Palestinians, addicted to enmity and resentment and violence, victims of institutional collapse and official corruption, awash and adrift in the worst movements of the last 100 years from nationalism to socialism to pan-Arabism to Islamic fundamentalism?

....Confidence is one thing. But Obama is more than confident. He’s narcissistic. He looks at the world and sees nothing but his reflection: rational, cool, unmoved, and always right. When reality surprises him, it’s not because he’s in error. It’s because Putin or Assad or the mullahs have failed to live up to the standards he’s set for them. Forget about them being true to themselves. They’re not being true to Barack Obama. And Barack Obama, lest we forget, is all that matters.
Remember that Obama burst on the national scene in 2004 telling us “I’m LeBron, baby. I can play on this level. I got some game.” At that point he hadn't accomplished anything politically except give speeches. But there was our clue to his narcissism right there. That's all he needed. Unfortunately, it takes a lot more to govern wisely. But Obama never seemed to get beyond his own self-evaluation. Though I guess that these days, he'd say "I'm Steph, baby."

The Daily Caller reports
that the danger to Hillary from her emails is coming not from the civilian agencies that Obama and Loretta Lynch can influence, but by intelligence and national security law enforcement authorities who are much more immune from political consideration.
There are currently at least four national security investigations, including those by the FBI, Department of Justice, and the inspectors general for the Department of State and the Intelligence Community.

“The way I’m reading this is that there’s this uprising in the national security bureaucracies to prosecute Mrs. Clinton,” Tom Fitton told TheDCNF. Fitton is president of the nonprofit government watchdog Judicial Watch, which is preparing to depose top Clinton aides and possibly her as well, in litigation stemming from the State Department’s maladroit handling of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.

Fitton’s group has also won multiple federal court victories after the release of 55,000 pages of emails sent to and from Clinton regarding her use of a private email address and server located in her New York home to conduct official government business during her four years as the nation’s chief diplomat.

“There’s just this kind of ‘just-the-facts approach’ out of the national security establishment on this,” Fitton told TheDCNF. “I don’t see Mrs. Clinton escaping prosecution here.”

Ultimately, the national security division (NSD) at the Justice Department will decide whether or not to recommend to Attorney General Loretta Lynch Clinton or any of her aides be indicted.

Virtually all former Justice Department and U.S. Attorneys interviewed by TheDCNF described the division, which was created by President George W. Bush in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, as the least politicized division in the department. Charges of partisan management of other Justice Department divisions have been frequently lodged during President Barack Obama’s tenure in the Oval Office.

The little-known division is made up of prosecutors who have backgrounds in military affairs, intelligence, anti-terrorism and espionage. There are no political appointees among the 400 employees working in the division.

“They are straight arrows, a mission-focused kind of approach,” according to Kenneth Wainstein. He was the assistant attorney general who established the division in 2006.

“They focus on the mission. They focus on how those agents achieve that mission, whether it’s stopping terrorism or stopping spies. When they walk into their office, they park their politics at the door,” Wainstein told TheDCNF.

“None of the prosecutors in the National Security Division are going to approach this with a political perspective,” said another former senior Justice Department official from the Bush junior years. “They certainly are not going to be worried about it in terms of partisan politics,” he told TheDCNF.
And that has to scare the Clintons since they're not used to not having politics to fall back on when their own behavior gets them into trouble. And if these officials recommend an indictment and the political officials decline to do so or try to smother it, this will be leaked. We will all know that it is only the politicization of the Justice Department that is protecting Hillary. But we know that now, don't we?

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Suvy Boyina said...

I think you may be right regarding the impacts of statements that Trump is saying. Especially when there's leftists that have it out for you, making those kinds of statements isn't productive to any sort of real dialogue or discourse. You may very well well be correct when you say that this kind of behavior radicalizes both sides.

On the whole riots at the convention thing, that kinda did sketch me out. Every time I hear Trump talk about the issues, I find myself often getting really excited and then he makes some absurd comment that makes me wonder what I'm thinking. Rubio was correct when he said Presidents can't just go around saying whatever they want.

I will also say that, in fairness to Trump, he's not the only person to say that there could be serious issues with the voters in the case of a brokered convention where the party elites completely buck the voters. Ted Cruz is on record as saying that there would be a "revolt" among the voters in the GOP if something like that were to happen.

With all this being said, I've spoken to quite a few people that've told me they've voted for Trump but haven't said anything out loud or even to the people closest to them because of the way they'd be judged or looked upon. Keep in mind that these aren't just poor or working class white people. These are largely people who're successful, intelligent, and willing to consider other viewpoints. Many of these people are legal immigrants too. There's a lot of people in the shadows who support Trump and I think the numbers are much larger than what anyone is willing to admit

Just think about what ends up happening if this kind of militancy from the left continues to occur at this rate. The kinds of things I see from students in school today scares the hell out of me.

When more people that study in college in the United States are reading Karl Marx instead of Alexander Hamilton, that's a real problem. Hamilton was 200 years ahead of Marx, had all the insights that Marx did (and plenty more), didn't say stupid nonsensical things and make assumptions he didn't understand like Marx. Honestly, I wonder how many people that come out of college today even know what The Federalist Papers are. Now, let's add in the people who've actually read them (I have and I think they're brilliant, just like basically everything Hamilton wrote or thought about).

Suvy Boyina said...

On Obama, he hasn't been this radical or ruthless in eliminating the views of others. He's come on college campuses and straight up said that college students are coddled. For all of the hate that Obama gets from both sides (the Bern-bots DO NOT like Obama), I find many admirable traits in him and I think he's done a lot of things well--especially on energy and the environment. I'm gonna go on a rant about shale and then bring it back to Obama.

We're the world's largest crude oil producer and we've shut down all offshore oil production (we shouldn't be drilling in the ocean, too dangerous). When you have an issue with shale drilling in Pennsylvania or in some part of Texas, it stays there. With shale, errors don't cascade.

Bernie Sanders says he'd ban fracking, but it'd be MUCH WORSE for the environment. Sanders doesn't understand the mechanics of fracking or tradeoffs. Most shale wells are usually smaller than a city block and the impacts are entirely localized. The thing about shale wells is that I believe most of our shale wells are profitable at $40-50/barrel. So any time the price starts creeping up, our shale wells come back online and drive the price back down.

Another advantage of shale is that because the oil is tiny bits coming from the microfractures in shale rock formations, you have oil that's much cleaner, less costly to refine, and much less damaging to refine because the microscopic oil particles don't have many contaminants. You end up with is a oil that's clear and yellow instead of thick and black cuz there's less contaminants.

So what does this have to do with Obama? Well, Obama has handled these issues about as well as you could IMO. He placed a ban on offshore oil drilling, but let shale rise in a sensible manner. The way he thinks about risks involving issues like climate change and is sound. In these areas, he's done a good job.

To be honest, I look back at 2009-10 when Obama got elected and I think that he should've actually done some more things. I think cap-and-trade system would be appropriate. We actually have a cap-and-trade system for sulfur dioxide that's been in place since the late 80's and it's worked fantastically. Is cap-and-trade a tax hike? Yea, but we could use the revenues to remove the payroll tax or fund investment in infrastructure or both.

Looking back at what Obama wanted to do in 2009-10, the infrastructure proposals for things like high speed rail (the idea that it needs to take you 10-12 hours to get from DC to Atlanta is something I find ludicrous). I think many of these infrastructure investments are appropriate. Is there a down payment and a cost for these investments initially? Even China has high speed rail from Shanghai to Beijing and China isn't even a developed country.

Obama has often made prudent, intelligent, and well informed decisions on many issues. Obama got slammed by people on both sides with the way he handled dealing with Putin when the issues in Ukraine first started to surface a few years ago. I said it then and I'll say it now, Putin is the guy who's gonna be laughed at in 10 years, not Obama.

Are there issues where he's been wrong or handled poorly? Sure, but he was handed a terrible. When he got power, the budget deficit was 9-10% of GDP, we were dealing with the impacts of a once in a generation financial crisis, and Obama finds a way to reduce the budget deficit to 2.5% of GDP while still providing middle class tax cuts and he's kept most of his promises.

I think Obama is the best President the US has had in decades. In ~10 years, I think it'll end up being consensus about him being a good President.

Suvy Boyina said...

Other things Obama has been on the right side on is on coal. I completely agree with him trying to end coal. Coal is the absolute worst for the environment and even releases more radiation than nuclear energy.

I'm also not sour on the ACA. I think there's some good things in that bill including an individual mandate that allows those with preexisting conditions to get care. Other provisions of the bill that I find helpful are the parts where it allows those under 27 to remain on their parents insurance, which not only brings more young and healthy people into the system, but actually reduces overall costs because the young and healthy cost virtually nothing for insurers. Your ideal insurance client is someone who's healthy and runs low risks for you to insure. From the insurer's standpoint, it's basically free money.

There's parts of the ACA that make no sense like state lines on insurance programs that allow insurance companies to make a killing. The tax on medical devices is something I just find insane. What I liked most on health care from what I heard was what Trump said. Trump said that he wanted to "repeal and replace" the ACA, but I don't think that he does. He says he wants the mandate and wants to break down the state lines and if that's the case, why would you remove the ACA. You'd have to pass the entire bill again and get it through a GOP Congress where half the GOP seems to be Jacksonians (I call the Tea Party Jacksonians because, well, they are) that'll block anything.

lil emmerz said...

There's always the summer olympics after basketball!

Locomotive Breath said...

"But Trump's rhetoric is contemptible and unworthy of a leading candidate who brags about how he's going to bring the country together."

Says the broken record. Quit clutching your pearls while you get the vapors. Speaking of which, who said...

“If you get hit, we will punch back twice as hard,”

“If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun,” Obama said in Philadelphia last night. “Because from what I understand, folks in Philly like a good brawl. I’ve seen Eagles fans.”

There are many more from President Lightbringer. You think Hillary is going to be different?

It's prissy Republicans who won't get in the fight who are going to lose every single time. If you wanted a President who had the conservative political chops in spades and also fight with no holds barred then you should have supported Gingrich four years ago. But you worked yourself into a tizzy over his private life which has nothing to do with public policy and we got apologetic loser Milquetoast Mitt for a candidate and four more years of Obama.

So you get what you deserve - Donald Trump. I'll bet old Newt looks pretty good right now. Here he is spot on as usual.

So go ahead, keep using your forum to slam Trump. Say hello to President Hillary.

Locomotive Breath said...

p.s. Question for today. If Hillary is indicted, elected, convicted and refuses to resign, can she serve as President from prison? I don't seen anything in the Constitution that says she can't.