Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Cruising the Web

Joshua Green of the Boston Globe warns against people underestimating Ted Cruz and assuming that, just because his peers int he Senate can't stand him, that voters will also despise him. What I find striking is how Donald Trump has made Ted Cruz possible. Without Trump, would so many Republicans be supporting Cruz?
But as they often do in politics, events have a way of interfering with our preconceptions. Bush flopped, and, until recently, Trump looked like the strongest candidate in the field. “Trump, in a funny way, has normalized Ted Cruz,” former house speaker Newt Gingrich said after Wisconsin. Even so, Trump’s emergence as the GOP front-runner hasn’t caused much of a thaw in the way Washington Republicans feel about Cruz, even as the prospect of Trump atop the ticket terrifies them....

by and large, these delegates are state and local party officials from around the country who don’t see things the way their counterparts in Washington do. By piling up wins in states like Wisconsin, Cruz gains strength, support, and credibility in the eyes of these Republicans. If Trump comes up short, they’re likely to back Cruz and deliver the same kind of rebuke to their party’s Washington establishment as Democrats did by choosing Obama eight years ago.

Steven Hayward has a suggestion from Reagan's failed 1976 campaign. When there was a fight at the convention, Reagan threw a Hail Mary pass by naming his vice presidential candidate, Pennsylvania moderate senator Richard Schweiker. It didn't work. But perhaps Ted Cruz could do the same sort of thing ahead of the convention and name his proposed running mate.
But I wonder if it might work this year. Cruz has shown himself the better tactician so far, and I can easily imagine him naming his choice as a running mate—probably someone that would generate some excitement like South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley (who has very strong poll numbers in her state right now) or perhaps Carly Fiorina—and challenge Trump to name his running mate ahead of the convention. I’m guessing Trump’s running mate selection process is as haphazard and chaotic as the rest of his campaign, and a running mate challenge might well introduce a new level of uncertainty among delegates, and a fresh opportunity for Trump to make a mistake, like an ill-considered attack on Cruz’s running mate choice, or an impetuous choice for running mate like Ben Carson.

Yesterday Trump mused about both Scott Walker and Marco Rubio as potential running mates, both of whom will beg off, but this raises a question: who would want to kill their future political chances by agreeing to being Trump’s running mate? (The one obvious possible exception: John Kasich.)
Kasich keeps denying that he would accept the vice presidential nomination from Donald Trump. I think Hayward is exactly right that it would be a career killer for anyone to associate his or her name with the Trump candidacy. Look what has happened to Chris Christie's reputation since he endorsed Trump. The best that Trump could do is to come up with the sorts of nonentities that he put together for his foreign policy team. Perhaps Kasich would be willing to swing his delegates to Trump in exchange for the ticket, but I just don't think that Kasich wants to throw his reputation down the toilet by associating himself with Trump. Although one RNC honcho who is on the convention's rules committee is anticipating such a move.
"I would venture to bet that what eventually will happen is we're gonna see two of the candidates cut a deal," Evans said. "And they're gonna say, you get your delegates to us, you'll be the VP, we're gonna run as a ticket. And literally, what you could do in the oddest sort of way, is have the first ballot be two ticket ballots: Trump-Kasich versus Cruz-Rubio. Now that would be wild, because I've run the scenarios on that, and there is no way to predict how such a vote would turn out."

A lot of pundits have focused on Kasich, and whether or not his prolonged run is really just a ploy to force him into the VP slot. Kasich has repeatedly denied this. Last night, in a special interview with his family and Anderson Cooper, Kasich trotted out his oft-repeated line "I would be the worst vice president ever" and reiterated that he's sticking in to win the nomination through the ballot process.

What's interesting is Evans's mention of Rubio, who has largely been absent from the limelight after dropping out. The commonly accepted logic is that Rubio pushing for the Presidential nomination during a vote-a-rama at the convention would be bad news for the GOP, but as a Cruz VP choice?

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President Obama's lackadaisical attitude towards Hillary Clinton's private server and how she treated classified information is sure different from how his administration has treated other leaks of classified information.
When President Obama defended Hillary Clinton’s email practices in a television interview over the weekend by saying, “there’s classified, and then there’s classified,” he was only repeating what critics of government secrecy have long contended: that most of what is classified is merely sensitive, a little embarrassing or perhaps a policy debate still in progress.

But these are distinctions the Obama administration has not necessarily made in its treatment of classified information when dealing with news organizations, whistle-blowers or government officials accused of leaking information.

The White House has overseen some nine leak prosecutions, compared with just three under all previous presidents, drawing sharp criticism from news media advocates....

In a case involving Thomas A. Drake, a former official of the National Security Agency accused of wrongly providing information about the agency’s practices to a newspaper, the judge blasted prosecutors for putting Mr. Drake through “four years of hell.” He was sentenced to community service.

“If you’re on trial for unauthorized disclosure of classified information, you don’t get to say, ‘there’s classified, and then there’s classified,’ ” said Steven Aftergood, who directs the Project on Government Secrecy for the Federation of American Scientists.

The president, Mr. Aftergood said, may have been simply stating the truth about the subjective nature of the classification process. But his statement, delivered on “Fox News Sunday,” Mr. Aftergood said, “failed to grapple with the fact that a bunch of people in his administration have been caught up in a meat-grinder as a result of classification policy.”

During the Obama administration, a midlevel State Department official was prosecuted for telling a Fox News reporter that North Korea would most likely react to sanctions with more nuclear tests. The former director of the C.I.A., David H. Petraeus, was prosecuted for giving his mistress, who was writing a biography of him, notebooks full of classified information, though he received a light sentence, which may have reflected the view that little in the notebooks was still operationally important.
Things look totally different when the leader for the Democratic nomination is involved.

Mollie Hemingway examines Hillary Clinton's qualifications and finds them sparse indeed.
I believe I first heard her called “unqualified” when she was driving HillaryCare into a ditch as first lady. Or was it when she fired the White House Travel Office staff and replaced them with close friends? Or was it when she blamed her husband’s inability to act in an even remotely decent fashion on a conspiracy theory? I honestly don’t remember when it was, except that it was decades ago.

Since then, she had a very nice time in the Senate, during which she got along well with colleagues but accomplished absolutely nothing memorable. Unless you think that it’s memorable to sponsor bills to establish an historic site in New York, name a post office, or designate a portion of New York’s U.S. Route 20 as the Timothy J. Russert Highway. She did vote to invade Iraq, so there’s that. She was somehow completely out-organized and out-hustled for the Democratic nomination for president in 2008, before being given a keep-your-friends-close-but-your-enemies-closer job as Secretary of State in the Obama administration.
As Hemingway points out, there is a difference between having jobs and being qualified. She lucked into jobs because of her husband and because she lost the nomination in 2008. But she doesn't have any true successes to point to in her time as Secretary of State. What she does have are scandals and sleaze. And it isn't sexist to point out Hillary's lack of accomplishments or qualifications for being president.

Stuart Rothenberg notes that,
while the Republicans are having their own problems moving too far to the right, the Democrats are also being driven to the extreme.
But instead of Democrats responding by positioning themselves in the political center where they could maximize their appeal, many Democrats are embracing their own version of ideological extremism.

Bernie Sanders’ uncompromising anti-business rhetoric and agenda, combined with the energy of “progressive” forces in the Democratic coalition, reflect a significant turn to the left by a party that once stood for pragmatic change, not “revolution.”
Though the Vermont senator’s supporters won’t like to hear it, Sanders has plenty in common with both Donald Trump and Ted Cruz.

Like Cruz, Sanders is an ideologue who resists compromise. And like Trump, Sanders has simple answers to complex problems and sounds as if he doesn’t appreciate the dramatic, and often deeply unsettling, consequences that his policies would produce.

“Break up the banks,” roars Sanders, as if that would solve part of the nation’s economic problems without creating any new ones.

“It’s Time to Make College Tuition Free and Debt Free” asserts Sanders (on his website), without discussing the ramifications of doing so or acknowledging the true cost or the inevitable disruptions....

Whereas Trump maligns Mexicans, Muslims and members of the media, Sanders is equally demagogic when he talks about corporate America, Wall Street and his most frequent scapegoats, “millionaires and billionaires.”

Yes, there are people on Wall Street who are selfish, vain, narcissistic, underhanded, deceptive and greedy. And yes, some of them break the law and ignore the public’s interest. But most people who work on Wall Street or run American companies are not like that. And plenty of people who do exhibit those negative qualities are not on Wall Street, in corporate America or millionaires and billionaires.

Many of them are not even Republicans.
The real problem is that Sanders' wild-eyed radicalism is pulling Hillary so far to the left that she will be falling off the ledge.

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David Harsanyi contemplates the Obama administration's moral equivalence about World War Two. There are murmurings that Obama will tour Hiroshima when he visits Japan for the G-7 meeting and offer some sort of apology for winning World War Two by dropping the nuclear bomb there.
It would not be a great leap for Obama. Having a high-ranking American official visit the museum already lends credence to the Japanese notion that the U.S. bombing was gratuitous. On top of this, Kerry blames “nuclear weapons” — rather than Japan’s fanaticism and nihilism — for Hiroshima. So we’re on our way.

If the Obama administration is intent on historical score-keeping there’s plenty to talk about. Japan aligned itself with one of the great murderers of the 20th century (though it needed no help initiating genocide) and launched numerous invasions and a war that cost the U.S. hundreds of thousands of lives and billions in treasure, both fighting Japan and helping it create a stable, liberal state after the war.

It’s not like the Japanese have ever truly apologized for the butchery, mass rape, destruction, and aggression that made Hiroshima a reality. Has any Japanese foreign or prime minister strolled through the gut-wrenching exhibit about the Nanking massacre? The first time any Japanese official apologized for the Bataan Death March was 2009 — and then only an ambassador.

Of course, revisiting Japan’s 70-year-old offenses at a G-7 Summit would be ridiculous and counterproductive. As is the compunction of Obama’s officials to “acknowledge” or apologize for the alleged sins and moral deficiencies of the U.S. every time they get on an international flight — a grating habit since 2009.

After all, Kerry could have said that Hiroshima was “a reminder of the depth of the obligation every one of us in public life carries to stop extremist regimes like Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.” Or he might have said Hiroshima was “a reminder of the depth of the obligation every one of us in public life carries to ensure that we are well prepared for the next force that threatens peace.”

Instead our motto the past eight years has been, “Strength Through Moral Equivalence.”
Obama has repeatedly gone around the world apologizing for America's past behavior. I wonder if Obama recognizes the reasons Truman chose to drop the bomb and the estimates he was looking at for both American and Japanese casualties if we invaded the home islands of Japan.

Bill Clinton can't stop talking about himself. Well, isn't that always been true of the guy?

The National Journal looks at how poorly Hillary is doing among the voters who powered Obama to victory in two elections.
But Hil­lary Clin­ton is fa­cing a ser­i­ous prob­lem with her own party’s base in the on­go­ing primary against Bernie Sanders. She’s be­ing soundly re­jec­ted by mil­len­ni­als, a core ele­ment of Barack Obama’s co­ali­tion, while gen­er­at­ing only mid­dling en­thu­si­asm from His­pan­ics and Afric­an-Amer­ic­ans. Without Obama in the race, Clin­ton ex­pec­ted black voters to once again be a pil­lar of her sup­port. And the more po­lite tone of the Demo­crat­ic cam­paign has turned nas­ti­er in re­cent weeks, with Sanders call­ing Clin­ton “un­qual­i­fied” to be pres­id­ent and Clin­ton’s hus­band re­buk­ing Afric­an-Amer­ic­an pro­test­ers on the cam­paign trail for be­ing ob­li­vi­ous to the crime-fight­ing suc­cesses of his ad­min­is­tra­tion.

The num­bers don’t lie. As my col­league Ron Brown­stein noted, 71 per­cent of Demo­crat­ic voters un­der the age of 30 have flocked to Sanders—even though it’s been clear for a month that he faces near-im­possible odds of win­ning the nom­in­a­tion. For the second straight elec­tion, Clin­ton has al­lowed an in­sur­gent to cap­ture a his­tor­ic share of the Demo­crat­ic Party’s primary votes. She is now stag­ger­ing to the Demo­crat­ic nom­in­a­tion with a shrink­ing 1-point lead over Sanders in the latest Real­Clear­Polit­ics av­er­age of na­tion­al primary polls.

Demo­crat­ic turnout has plummeted in nearly every state from 2008, in­clud­ing in areas with large non­white vot­ing pop­u­la­tions. His­pan­ics stayed home in Texas, con­trib­ut­ing to a nearly 50 per­cent drop-off in turnout from eight years ago. In Geor­gia, Afric­an-Amer­ic­ans didn’t vote in large num­bers, cut­ting the state’s Demo­crat­ic turnout from over 1 mil­lion in 2008 to only 765,000 in 2016. The fast-grow­ing Pu­erto Ric­an pop­u­la­tion cen­ter of Flor­ida—Or­ange County—saw Demo­crat­ic turnout dip by 16,000 voters from eight years ago. Cuyahoga County, the Demo­crat­ic base of battle­ground Ohio, saw a whop­ping 44 per­cent de­cline in party voters.

No, primary turnout doesn’t ne­ces­sar­ily trans­late in­to gen­er­al-elec­tion res­ults. If Re­pub­lic­ans nom­in­ate Don­ald Trump, he’d be a one-man mo­bil­iz­a­tion ma­chine for many of these con­stitu­en­cies. But when you have a can­did­ate who is con­sist­ently un­der­per­form­ing with core ele­ments of the Obama co­ali­tion, it raises ser­i­ous ques­tions about the can­did­ate’s ap­peal. Clin­ton’s Obama-cent­ric cam­paign strategy re­lies on ral­ly­ing the base be­fore reach­ing out to dis­af­fected mod­er­ates. If tout­ing Obama’s agenda and co-opt­ing ele­ments of Sanders’s stump speech can’t rally the party faith­ful, what will?
Josh Kraushaar thinks that Hillary would have done better to have moved to the middle and have left the radical positions to Bernie.
In hind­sight, Clin­ton would have been bet­ter served em­bra­cing the cent­rist “Third Way” polit­ics that her hus­band cham­pioned while not pan­der­ing to the lib­er­al con­stitu­en­cies already aligned with Sanders. If she pitched a plan for eco­nom­ic growth in­stead of lament­ing in­come in­equal­ity, sup­por­ted free trade in­stead of sid­ing with her party’s pop­u­lists against Obama’s trade deal, and stood up to the ex­treme voices in her party (like Bill Clin­ton did last week), she’d be in bet­ter po­s­i­tion to win over the in­de­pend­ents and mod­er­ate Re­pub­lic­ans who loathe Trump and are luke­warm to Cruz.

By veer­ing to the left from the out­set and run­ning on a third term of Obama’s pres­id­ency, she’s made it very dif­fi­cult to win over voters in the middle. She emu­lated the Obama cam­paign’s be­lief that elec­tions are won by ral­ly­ing the base, not by ap­peal­ing to the shrink­ing num­ber of un­de­cided voters. Now, fa­cing res­ist­ance from that very base, she’s be­come de­pend­ent on Re­pub­lic­ans to nom­in­ate someone un­elect­able to get her out of her pre­dic­a­ment.
Ted Cruz might also have trouble winning over the middle. This could be the election when the middle stays home in a totally disgruntled state of mind.

Noah Rothman looks ahead to what may happen if Trump, as seems increasingly likely, loses at the GOP Cleveland convention. I've never bought into his threats to run as an independent. By the July date of the convention, it would be too late to get on the ballot in a lot of states. It would take a lot of money and Trump doesn't seem interested in spending the level of his own money necessary to run such a campaign. He could attempt to take over an existing party that already has access to the ballot such as the Libertarian Party, but they would have no interest in tarnishing their ideology by linking up with Trump. So Trump could just spend his time doing what he does best - going on as many media shows as possible to whine and lie about his loss.
The obstacles before Trump in his effort to get on the ballot, which may be successful in just a handful of states and only after vast sums of Trump’s personal wealth are spent, are prohibitive enough to preclude such an outcome. If Trump wanted the nomination, he would have invested in a campaign apparatus designed to secure it. He did not. His campaign has always been a ploy for earned media, and he has been curiously successful in that objective. If Trump were to fail to win the nomination, he would become not merely a celebrity and a political phenomenon, but a celebrity and a political phenomenon with a righteous grievance to litigate. That’s heady stuff, and the political press would cover Trump the Pretender with the same vigor they applied to Trump the Usurper. If he emerges from the convention without the nomination, the Manhattan real estate heir will become a fixture in the press, perhaps even more so than he is today. And he’ll be a useful tool, too, because his mission will be to undermine the GOP’s political position.

In the immediate wake of a convention loss for Trump, nothing will so preoccupy the GOP as the prospect of reconciliation and reunification. That might seem a daunting, unpalatable, or even undesirable project in the heat of a primary campaign, but the party will need at least nine of every ten registered Republican voters to back the party’s nominee if they are to win the White House. That reconciliation process will be frustrated by Trump, but also by the Democratic Party. Their efforts to brand the GOP “The Party of Trump” will not end merely because the celebrity candidate’s name will not grace the top of the ticket. They will seek to tar the GOP as the party of towering and unrealizable border walls, mass deportations, a ban on Muslims, and punishments for women who seek abortions. They will brand the Republican Party an institution dedicated to misogyny and racial resentment.

Hillary Clinton and her allies will complicate the process of reintegrating Trump-curious GOP voters by seeking to label their one-time affinity for this candidate evidence of their toxicity. Democrats will not merely try to make the party’s eventual nominee in 2016 a radioactive entity, but they will also label any affiliation with a certain segment of the GOP voting base a toxic association. Even if unity between the pro and anti-Trump factions of the party is largely unsuccessful, the Democratic campaign will seek to instill in the general electorate a fear of Trump’s voters and what they stand for. For his part, the ubiquitous Trump will aid Democrats in their effort to nurture in his supporters an irreconcilable bitterness toward the GOP.
It's a bleak picture. I don't think any politician could overcome such odds, and Ted Cruz wouldn't have been the guy I'd pick for walking such a delicate path.

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Robert Tracinski just has to laugh at Donald Trump's professed admiration for Ayn Rand.
Trump talking about The Fountainhead sounds like a poor student trying to bluff his way through a book report, without even bothering to skim the Cliff’s Notes.

But here’s what makes it really funny.
When I pointed out that The Fountainhead is in a way about the tyranny of groupthink, Trump sat up and said, ‘That’s what is happening here.’ He then recounted a call he received from a liberal journalist: ‘How does it feel to have done what you have done? I said what have I done. He said nobody ever in the history of this country has done what you have done. And I said, well, if I lose, then no big deal. And he said no, no, if you lose, it doesn’t matter because this will be talked about forever. And I said it will be talked about more if I win.’
So Trump pivots from how he supposedly identifies with Howard Roark to a discussion of his favorite topic: how much people are talking about him. It’s one of Trump’s distinctive verbal tics to boast about how well he’s doing in the polls, or about what “everybody says” about how great he is.

To people who have not read The Fountainhead, let me explain why people who have read The Fountainhead are smiling right now. The whole point of the character of Howard Roark is that he doesn’t care whether other people are talking about him. Ayn Rand created Roark as the ultimate individualist, all the way down. Conformity has no pull on his soul, and what other people think of him has no fundamental impact on his “inner emotions.”
Tracinski points out that the Fountainhead character that Donald Trump truly resembles is the bad guy.
There is a character in The Fountainhead who cares deeply about what other people think of him, who is obsessed with the opinions of others. That character is not Howard Roark. It’s Peter Keating, the ultimate conformist, or what Ayn Rand called a “second-hander”—someone who borrows his ideas and goals “second-hand” from others.

In the first half of the novel, while Roark’s independent vision keeps meeting with rejection, Keating rockets to early success by being whatever other people want him to be. His motivation, as Roark eventually realizes, is “not to be great but to be thought great.” He’s not focused on actually achieving something good. He’s focused on wanting everybody to say good things about him.
Sound familiar? Can anyone imagine that Ayn Rand would have admired Donald Trump or bought into his shtick?
That’s what Powers gets wrong about Howard Roark. He does not “rage against the establishment.” He ignores it. (One of the villains dares him to “tell me what you think of me, in any words you wish,” and Roark replies, “But I don’t think of you.”) The point of his character is that he chooses his own set of independent standards and sticks to them. He isn’t ruled by a compulsion to conform to others—or by a compulsion to defy them. But if you talk with Trump’s supporters, you’ll find that defying others is centrally important to them. They can’t tell you much about what voting for Trump will actually achieve. They’re just doing it to stick a finger in somebody’s eye—the essence of a “second-handed” motivation....

Trump is a guy who says he doesn’t care what other people think, then goes on to obsess endlessly about what other people think. He’s exactly the sort of person who would want you to think he’s an Ayn Rand fan, while he really acts like one of her villains.

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How does a Great Dane get stuck in a tree?

Hillary throws de Blasio under the bus for the racist joke in the skit they shared.

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Memo to university presidents everywhere - learn from the Ohio State University how to respond to student protesters. They'd occupied the area outside the university president's office until a university official informed them that, if they didn't leave by 5:00 a.m., the police would arrest them and they would be expelled. They're astounded that it is against the law to occupy a university building, but ultimately, they don't want to be arrested and expelled. Consequences for disrupting the university seem sooooo unfair to them. They don't have the courage of their convictions, but then their convictions are all over the place. Steven Hayward looks at some of their various demands.
We demand complete, comprehensive and detailed access to the Ohio State budget and investments immediately, as well as personnel to aid students in understanding this information.

OSU Divest: Divest from Caterpillar Inc., Hewlett Packard and G4S due to their involvement in well-documented human rights abuses in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and across the globe. . .

Real Food OSU: Sign the Real Food Campus Commitment. Ensure the administration work with Real Food OSU through the entire implementation of the Real Food Campus Commitment, in place of, or as a means of attaining, the university sustainability goal of increased “production and purchase of locally and sustainably sourced food to 40% by 2025.”
I love the little touch that they need to both see the budget and investments and also have someone explain it to them so I guess they can figure out more things to complain about. If they're so upset about what the university is investing in, then they should just leave. Being expelled should be a badge of honor. Apparently, they don't care that deeply.