Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Cruising the Web

Jim Geraghty dispels the myths being propagated by the Trump campaign and its Drudge mouthpiece. The delegates chosen in Colorado and Wyoming were not the result of "voterless elections" Wyoming actually had record turnout for its precinct caucuses and county conventions.

And of course, his whining about the rules doesn't include the winner-take-all rules that have given him more delegates than the percentage of the votes he won in quite a few states. As Arnold Steinberg notes, those rules don't bother him. He's just complaining about who the actual delegates are when they're chosen and that they're not his supporters even though his campaign couldn't bother to get organized to try to get his supporters chosen.
Thus far in the primary process, in several states Trump has received a higher percentage of delegates than he received votes in that state. This was based on the rules for each respective state, and Trump never complained when the rules favored him. And his opponents, when they lost to Trump, did not complain of unfairness when Trump received that disproportionate number of delegates.

Now that Trump has lost a several states, he charges foul play. But the more plausible explanation is that, in his novice approach, Trump did not do what he does in business — learn all there is to know before acting, negotiating, closing the deal. He and his amateur team seemed, if not ignorant, then oblivious to the rules that were in existence for various periods of time, the rules even in some cases predating his announcement of candidacy. And the need for a majority of delegates to win the nomination is historic, not exactly a new development.
As Trump whines now about the RNC rule that the nominee win a majority of the delegates at the convention, what would he do about the very same provision in the Constitution that the winner of the presidency win the majority of the Electoral College votes?

Steinberg recommends that Cruz connect Trump's incompetence back to Trump's claims that he will be the very best at running the government.
Meanwhile, Ted Cruz has failed to connect the dots. While Trump is setting up a narrative that anything short of the nomination is an act of theft — stealing the nomination from him — the Cruz team has failed to focus on this: Trump’s operation was quite incompetent in its failure to research the rules and act on them. And connecting the dots is to say that this failing reflects on Donald Trump as commander in chief of the Trump campaign. Instead, Cruz seems to suggest that Trump is a bad sport, hardly convincing to voters if they buy the Trump premise that the game is rigged.
This seems like an obvious line of attack; I and many other analysts have been making that connection; Cruz should also start doing so.

Alyssia Finley explains in the WSJ which regions of New York the three GOP candidates are targeting so you can have a guide to pay attention to if you're watching the returns come in tonight. They also explain why Cruz needs Kasich to stayign the race.
Despite Mr. Cruz’s complaints, he appears to benefit from Mr. Kasich’s continued presence in the race. The Ohio governor draws at least some Republicans from Mr. Trump, and Mr. Kasich prompts people to vote who might otherwise sit out primaries. Every additional voter for Mr. Trump, and every voter who decides to stay home, makes it more likely he can exceed the 50% threshold in winner-take-most states.

If the goal is to prevent Mr. Trump from getting to 1,237 delegates and securing the nomination, then Mr. Cruz needs Mr. Kasich in winner-take-most primaries like New York’s—and Connecticut’s on April 26.

In Maryland and Pennsylvania, which also vote on April 26, polls show that Mr. Kasich has a better shot than Mr. Cruz of winning moderates in suburban congressional districts. Peeling off even a few delegates there would also dent Mr. Trump’s chances of amassing a delegate majority.

Mr. Cruz wants the Ohio governor to drop out so that he can present himself as the only alternative to Mr. Trump in the increasing likelihood that the race is decided at the convention. In later winner-take-all states like Indiana and Nebraska, Mr. Kasich has the potential to play a spoiler. But at this point, Mr. Kasich appears to be helping more than hurting Mr. Cruz.

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I realize that this president will do everything he can to avoid confrontations in his relations with foreign countries, but sometimes a president has to take a firm line. But not this guy.
President Obama did not raise Russian military provocations against a Navy warship and Air Force intelligence jet last week during a Monday phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin, the White House disclosed Monday.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said the president had “an intense discussion” by telephone with Putin, but not about two dangerous aerial actions by Russian warplanes.
Why would Putin care about anything Obama had to say about Ukraine when his planes can buzz close to our ships in the Baltic and Obama does nothing about it?

Tom Wilson of Commentary
looks at poll results from British Muslims who live in areas with 20% or higher Muslim density. The results are disturbing. In addition to the high percents who have distinctly anti-Semitic opinions agreeing that Jews have too much influence and complain too much about the Holocaust, a significant percent also hold views rejecting the values of the British society in which they live.
Inevitably, for a hard core minority, these views stray into justifying violent extremism. For instance, 24 percent of British Muslims said it would be acceptable for organized groups to engage in violence to protect their religion, and 22 percent said they would sympathize with using violence to fight “injustice” by the police, and 20 percent agreed with the same when it came to using violence to fight the government. While only 7 percent said they actually supported Islamic State, two-thirds said they would not tell the police if they knew a fellow Muslim was actively supporting terrorism in Syria.

What we are confronted with here may, for the most part, only be a very extreme minority within a minority. But as we have seen with previous attacks, it can only take a handful of very determined radicals to inflict mass casualty terror attacks. These individuals are emerging from a much wider social milieu, such as the one that has now formed in Molenbeek. And after all, the Islamic State cell that hid out in Molenbeek for months after the Paris attacks weren’t able to do so without cooperation and acquiesce from at least some of the locals. Indeed, we saw how following the arrest of ringleader Salah Abdeslam the Belgian police came under attack from local youths in that neighborhood.

Almost every major European city now has its own Molenbeek. Given the large number of Middle Eastern and North African migrants currently entering Europe, these neighborhoods will almost certainly mushroom. The ICM poll of British Muslim opinion gives a snapshot of how these areas can become host to an extreme subculture radically opposed to the democratic values of the surrounding society. What we are still waiting for is for Europe’s political establishment to come up with some kind of explanation for what they intend to do about any of this.
I don't know what politicians can do about such results. These views within such enclaves are already prevalent. Here in the U.S. we have a few such enclaves here, but we have the time to devise strategies to avoid the expansion of such communities harboring such extremists. I just worry that we'll close our eyes to this problem just as so many in Europe have already done so.

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As always, President Obama is eager to kowtow to the Iranians.
Just how far will President Obama go to protect the nuclear deal with Iran — which he sees as central to his legacy? We’ll be finding out soon.

Tehran is loudly threatening to pull out of the accord unless it gets access to the US financial system. It would have to settle for the measly $150 billion in cash it’s already pocketed, plus the end of global sanctions.

Valiollah Seif, head of Iran’s central bank, charged last Friday that Washington isn’t living up to its part of the deal because “we are not able to use our frozen funds abroad.” Unless that’s resolved, he said, “the deal breaks up on its own accord.”

Don’t expect Team Obama to even think about calling Iran’s bluff.

In fact, the State Department has already written all 50 governors asking them to reconsider their states’ sanctions on Iran.

Yet most of those sanctions aren’t about Iran’s nuclear program but its support of terrorism, its missile program, its general oppression of its own citizens, etc.

And the Financial Action Task Force, a global body that combats money-laundering and terror-financing, just declared it remains “exceptionally concerned” about Iran’s continued financial support for international terrorism.

Indeed, FATF urged all members to “apply effective counter-measures” to protect their financial sectors against “risks emanating from Iran.”

Yet the administration is reportedly moving to do the opposite — looking to let Iran access dollars via a Hong Kong clearinghouse.

It’s one reason this rancid deal was never submitted to Congress as a treaty: Obama keeps having to change the terms to please Tehran. As things stand, he’ll likely keep on with it until Iran gets everything it wants.

Nate Cone thinks that Indiana will be the key state to either stopping Trumpomentum or propelling him to winning a majority of the delegates. And we have no idea how Indiana will go.
It may sound strange, but when you start gaming out the rest of the primary contest, it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that his quest to reach a majority of delegates before the convention could all turn on Indiana. If you divvy up the states by expected results, Mr. Trump wins big in the East and West Virginia, loses the winner-take-all rural Western states, and earns his expected share of proportional delegates in Washington, Oregon and New Mexico.

That puts him about 175 delegates short of the required 1,237. Only two real tossup states remain: California (172 delegates) and Indiana (57).

You can see the basic issue: If he doesn’t win Indiana, he has to sweep California and get some lucky breaks elsewhere, which isn’t realistic. He would need an upset in a state like Montana, in a region that has been hostile to him.

But even though Indiana may be pivotal — it awards its delegates on a winner-take-all basis by congressional district and statewide — the state is a big mystery because there hasn’t been a single poll there. That’s not just because of East Coast media bias (although it may be part of it); it’s a tough state to poll. Indiana law prohibits automated polling, the go-to method for many low-cost pollsters.

The state does not have party registration, which makes it modestly more challenging and costly for pollsters to conduct surveys of the voter registration file. Many of the prolific public pollsters employ the random-digit dialing method, like Quinnipiac, and have no history in the state. I suspect that a few pollsters will ultimately field surveys, but there won’t be many.

Jim Geraghty has dived into Bernie Sanders' tax returns and found something interesting.
Bernie Sanders released his 2014 tax return this weekend, revealing that he and his wife took $60,208 in deductions from their taxable income. These deductions are all perfectly legal and permitted under the U.S. tax code, but they present a morally inconvenient, if delicious, irony: The Democratic socialist from Vermont, a man who rages against high earners paying a lower effective tax rate than blue-collar workers, saved himself thousands using many of the tricks that would be banned under his own tax plan.

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Oh, yuck. What type of father will speculate in public about his baby daughter's potential breasts? Donald Trump, apparently.
I'm totally skeeved out with that clip. Trevor Noah is exactly right that, while that video clip won't make any difference to Trump supporters, there is something quite off-putting in the way that Trump seems to reduce women to the sum of their body parts. That is why, as Abby McCloskey warns Republicans, Trump as the nominee would probably lose the women's vote by largest margin ever recorded. Cruz isn't doing much better, but at least he's in Mitt Romney range with women voters. Kasich does much better with them.
In other words, it’s not the party. It’s the candidates. If Republicans want to win a general election, it’s worth considering what women voters want.
My school recently had a day in which we provided students with many different ways of looking at paradigm shifts in human history. I worded with 11th graders for whom the focus was all sorts of shifts in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Some teachers looked at the changes in music, art, poetry, and physics. I led my groups into pondering what a change it has been in politics for women to get the vote. I tasked them with imagining how American politics and government policies would be different today if women still didn't have the vote so they could appreciate what a change that has made. As McCloskey points out in her piece, women care about different issues. And the main difference between men and women is not abortion and contraceptives, as the Democrats would have it.
According to the Pew Research Center, women are more likely than men to favor government intervention for the poor (by nine points), children (ten points), and the elderly (by eleven points). Women are also more likely than men to prioritize education and environmental reforms. This does not mean that Republicans need to convert to a big-government agenda. But they should do a better job connecting the dots to show how their policies help the most vulnerable....

And it means talking about the traditional conservative agenda in a more personal way. Tax reform, regulatory reform, and fixing the debt would go a long way toward improving the economy and thus helping women have more opportunity, but candidates should not explain this in cryptic supply-side rhetoric. According to a recent poll in Ohio, when Republican women were asked about the message: “We should support job creators and not punish them with higher taxes and regulation,” 46 percent strongly agreed. When the message was phrased in a more personal way: “We should make it simpler and easier for Americans to start up small businesses or work for themselves from home,” 64 percent strongly agreed.
Running the candidate who talks all the time about women's physical looks is no way to win over these women voters.

Terry Teachout provides an interesting parallel from British history for Donald Trump's demagogic populism - the British fascist leader, Sir Oswald Mosley.
The coming of the Great Depression heightened Mosley’s sense of urgency, and he developed an economic-reform program whose principal planks were high tariffs and corporate-style central planning. When his colleagues declined to endorse it in toto, he left the party in 1931, declaring himself to be “in a hurry because we believe that if the present situation is allowed to drift on, a catastrophe will overwhelm the country” and predicting that “drastic and disagreeable measures will have to be taken….We shall not shrink from that final conclusion, and will organize to stand between the State and ruin.”

Many observers, including Shaw and Harold Macmillan, believed Mosley was making a fatal mistake and that he would have inevitably ascended to leadership of the Labour Party had he been patient enough to play by the rules. In fact, Mosley, who feared “the tyranny of communism with its iron control of all human affairs,” had concluded that it was his destiny to lead an anti-Communist dictatorship in order to save England from violent revolution. His first step toward power was to launch what he called the New Party, whose slogan was “Britain First.” But the NP met with the fate of most third parties, splitting the Labour vote and putting Conservative candidates into office who might not otherwise have been elected.

Mosley then decided that his best bet was to abandon conventional party politics and lead a populist mass movement that would stand ready to “take control in a revolutionary situation” if and when “the little men of talk and of delay” fell from power. In common with many Britons on both left and right, he was fascinated by Italy’s Benito Mussolini, whom he met in 1932 and found to have “the quickest and clearest mind of any statesman I have met.” Accordingly, the New Party was disbanded, and he organized the British Union of Fascists in October. “I have finished with the people who think,” he said. “Henceforth I shall go to the people who feel.”
That doesn't mean that Trump is a fascist or an anti-Semite. He is not an American Blackshirt. But there are echoes of Mosley's methods and rhetoric.
For all his gross excesses, Trump has never said or done anything to suggest that his ultimate goal is to wield dictatorial power, nor has he himself so much as flirted with the Mosley-style anti-Semitism that is a traditional part of the fascist package (though he has remained disturbingly silent about the open and extreme anti-Semitism of many of his “alt-right” supporters).

That said, several important similarities between the two men are plain enough to see. Insofar as Trump’s policies lend themselves to coherent explication, they are broadly congruent with Mosley’s “Britain First” nationalism, if not with his espousal of left-wing corporate-state socialism. Like Mosley before him, Trump is an opponent of free trade and unrestricted immigration who believes—or affects to believe—that high tariffs and a closed border will strengthen the American economy. He has also cultivated a swaggering, bullying belligerence of manner that is unmistakably reminiscent of Mosley, as are the racially charged rhetoric of his speeches and the growing willingness of his supporters to use violence to eject protesters from his rallies, a practice that he more or less openly encourages.
Read the rest of Teachout's essay. It's an intriguing history lesson. As a lover of history, I've been struck by the efforts by so many to find parallels between Trump and a list of other figures from history. I have seen several parallels to other historic figures such as Huey Long, Randolph Hearst, and George Wallace. But I've come to the conclusion that Donald Trump is truly sui generis.

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Hillary Clinton complained that she didn't get any questions about abortion in the last debate. Well, David Harsanyi has some questions for her.
Perhaps Hillary could clarify her position by answering this question: “Do you support the legal right of women to have abortions in the late third trimester even if their life is not threatened in any way?”

Some potential follow ups:

Have you ever been to a NICU unit? What is the moral or scientific difference between disposing of (or whatever euphemism for “killing” you’re comfortable with) a viable baby in utero or in the hospital?

....Do you believe women should have the legal right to have abortions as a means of selecting the sex of their babies? How about eye color?

At the debate, Hillary pivoted off her support of overturning the First Amendment via Citizens United to bring up abortion again. “The only people I would appoint to the Supreme Court are people who believe Roe v. Wade is settled,” Hillary said, who is malleable on free expression but not on late-term abortions.

So, question: If new science comes to light—if, for instance, science proves a fetus can feel pain and is sentient at 20 weeks—would you change your mind? Or is abortion an inherent human right that can’t be amended no matter what evidence surfaces?

When then-presidential candidate Rand Paul, whose rhetoric on life issues is far less cowardly than that of most Republicans, was attacked by Debbie Wasserman Schultz, he asked her if she thought it was okay to kill a “seven-pound baby in the uterus.” Her answer: “I support letting women and their doctors make this decision without government getting involved. Period. End of story. ”

So yes. No limits. This position, judging by almost any poll, is considered extremist by a majority of Americans, including women. Yet the media fails to dig in as they might with someone like Todd Akin, who has similarly odious positions. Why aren’t we asking every Democrat, including Hillary, if he or she believes there should be absolutely no limits on abortion, period? “Do you believe the act of killing a seven-pound, viable baby in the uterus for convenience is immoral?”

Ask her.

Mollie Hemingway explores the historical distortions in HBO's movie on the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings. Gosh, I feel myself getting furious all over again. At least back then, we could watch the hearings on C-Span and make up our own minds as we heard all the witnesses. Now HBO deliberately ignores the exculpating testimony and evidence so that they can slant the story their chosen way. I remember this as being one of the more convincing pieces of evidence for me.
The other “corroborating witness” claimed that Hill had told her all about the harassment she suffered in a phone call which, it turned out, took place before Hill even worked for Thomas.

And rather than show the dozen female colleagues effusively praising Thomas with still-memorable testimony in favor of Thomas, it shows one, along with two male witnesses.
Watch the video that Hemingway links to of the women who testified on Thomas's behalf.
I watched all of that testimony at the time and found their support of Clarence Thomas so much more convincing than Anita Hill's allegations. And polls showed the public agreed at the time. That is why the left has had to continually lie and distort the story so that they could demonize Thomas.

I just didn't believe that Hill was all that traumatized by the behavior she testified to as she followed Thomas from the Education Department to the EEOC and kept up with him after she left and went to Oklahoma. And I was further struck then and now, how rinky-dink the accusations against Thomas were. He was accused of making a few off-color remarks. That was nothing compared to Bill Clinton's behavior as governor and president, but Hill and other feminists, as Hemingway details, were happy to find excuses for Clinton's behavior.

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John McWhorter takes on
the "contesters" who seek to find something to criticize in whatever piece of art that is being praised. In this case, they are just fed up with the wonderfully popular play Hamilton. Several critics are upset that there isn't enough about slavery in the play. And don't try to appease them by pointing out that most of the actors are actually not white as the people they are playing were. McWhorter rightly castigates those who want to reduce everything to race.
But for all of the searing injustice that black people underwent in Hamilton’s time, in the end black people were but one facet in lives lived as richly as ours, in a society as multifaceted and complex as ours. What is the argument that nevertheless, to our each and every conception of the Founders, race issues must cleave as reflexively as we memorize a French noun with its gendered definite article?

This insistence is akin to similar currents of thought dominant lately, under which race requires standards of assessment and reasoning unknown elsewhere. Example: cultural mixture, often amidst vast differentials in power, has been a default condition of humanity since its origins and generally celebrated as progressive. But we are taught that when it comes to black Americans, to imitate any of our cultural traits such as speech, hairstyles, gesticulations, etc., constitutes “appropriation” subject to, of course, earnest contestation....

The idea that a critical mass of whites are existentially torn up about black people strikes me as wishful thinking, and the frustration of writers like Ta-Nehisi Coates suggests that they would agree with me, if rarely elsewhere, on this. And overall, this country is too vast and protean a mess for the idea to hold up that any single factor, even as massive and tragic as the racial one, constitutes the key to the whole business. Yes, there is race. But there is a humongous deal more, and there always has been.
This questions the idea that any prominent engagement with an Alexander Hamilton is grievously incomplete without, say, as Monteiro would prefer, showing slaves dressing the Schuyler sisters and doing their hair. Of all that life was for those women and Hamilton, why must a musical about these people not just mention and show slavery—which Hamilton, it must be noted, does—but sit down and focus on it? Our contesters tell us that it isn’t right that Miranda decided to focus his musical about Alexander Hamilton solely on the man’s forging of a nation. No, if a depiction of Alexander Hamilton is going to get this much play, then backgrounding his take on the slave trade is as unforgivable as making a musical about Hitler that leaves out the part about the Jews. Really???

....Think about it: if Hamilton included a single slave character or two gliding around with everyone else, or had a song where a slave came out and rapped about his misery, or had a couple of the female chorus members shown doing one of the Schuyler sisters’ hair before the party scene, let’s face it, it would just occasion more contesting. The slaves would be too marginal to the action, would not look miserable enough, not depicted as full human beings, etc. Contesters often put it that the goal is that America “come to terms” with its past on race. But it’s unclear what the expression here even means. Just what would indicate that the terms in question had finally been come to? At what point would the contestation no longer be necessary? How unwelcome such questions are considered is an indication that an end point is not exactly on these critics’ minds—contestation is forever.
Meanwhile, I'll just be happy that there is such a play out there and wait impatiently for the traveling show to come somewhere where I can afford to see it. And I'm thrilled that so many of my students can recite the lyrics of a musical that they haven't ever seen except in a few youtube clips. The contesters can take their contestation and just shut up.