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Thursday, April 21, 2016

Cruising the Web

Boy, this GOP electoral system sure is rigged.
Cruz won more votes in the Wisconsin primary — 531,129 — than Trump appears to have won in New York. With 98 percent of precincts counted, Trump has 518,601 votes in his home state. On the other hand, Trump will win at least 90 of New York's 95 delegates to Cruz's zero; in Wisconsin, Cruz's big victory earned him 36 delegates, to Trump's six.
Allahpundit adds,
With 99 percent reporting this morning, Trump’s now at 522,000 and change in New York. If you don’t like the Wisconsin comparison, we can do home-state comparisons instead. In Texas, Cruz got 104 delegates, about 15 more than Trump will get out of New York, despite pulling in more than twice the number of popular votes (1.2 million) that Trump did last night — and Cruz did it back when the field was bigger and he had to compete with Marco Rubio for conservative support. In Ohio, Kasich won 66 delegates on the strength of 950,000 votes, which means he got fewer delegates than Trump got last night despite topping his New York vote haul by 400,000 votes. In Texas and Ohio, Trump himself received more popular votes (around 750,000 in each) than he received in New York and won a grand total of 48 delegates for his trouble. In fact, thanks to the delegate “bonuses” that state and district winners receive, Trump overall is actually receiving slightly more delegates per percentage point of the popular vote he gets (1.22) than Cruz is (1.14). Shouldn’t every vote count equally?
Ben Shapiro makes a similar point.
Trump lies to say that the system is rigged. The real rigged system is the one that gives 95 delegates to New York, which hasn’t voted Republican since 1984, and 155 delegates to Texas, which hasn’t voted Democratic since 1976 – and New York is essentially winner-takes-all, while Texas is proportional representation, plus Texas had 2.7 million voters, while New York had significantly less than 700,000 votes total. The system is rigged for outsized impact in blue states that will not be up for grabs in November.
This is what we get if we start competitively whining about how rigged the system is. The Republican Party can meet after this year's election and decide if they want to do a wholesale reorganization of the rules for how they choose a nominee. But the time to do that is not in the middle of this year's election when we're nearing the finish line, but still have states left to vote.

Meanwhile, Trump's victory in New York was no surprise. Maybe he outperformed the polls, but he was already projected to win overwhelmingly in New York. That victory was already figured into the projections that he would not win a majority of the delegates for the first ballot vote in Cleveland. Michael Brendan Dougherty writes,
Regardless, the basic dynamic of the election is set. Nothing that happened in New York suggests that Trump has made a giant leap out of the tar pit into which his candidacy has sunk. A real frontrunner would be planning his convention, and getting his donors to max out in preparation for the national campaign. Trump is not racking up real endorsements. Nobody is putting pressure on his rivals to drop out and endorse him. He is limping to the finish line. He may cross it. Hey may come so close that the party just gives him a pity-shove over it. He may fail just enough for Cruz to make a convention play. In any case, absent a white knight, the party will nominate Trump or Cruz, both of whom are unpopular sure-losers.

Trump doesn't seem to have anything up his sleeve to change this dynamic. Earlier in the primaries, when it seemed like media or voter attention was drifting away from Trump, he simply announced a more extreme position on immigration or trade. It allowed him to seize the initiative, and the press. He would occasionally hint that some of this was just for the rubes voting for him. He said that, as president, he could become politically correct.

Whatever his sincerity, Trump doesn't seem likely to try it again. Either he genuinely is out of populist tricks or he thinks that any more attempts would harm him in the general election. On a talk radio appearance before the New York votes came in, Trump was asked if he would change anything from the beginning of his campaign. He replied, "I guess I could have toned a couple of words down or thoughts down, would have been nice." Regrets, he has a few.

Trump also hasn't done anything to unite himself with the parts of the party that have opposed him so far. He announced a plan to list a number of judges from which he would select Supreme Court nominees. Social conservatives remain unmoved. His announcement of his foreign policy advisory team was as reassuring as entering into the most important meeting of his life with a joy-buzzer and a can of nuts filled with a gag-snake ready to pop out. Trump has quite literally spent more time trying to reconcile with Megyn Kelly of Fox News than with the party that he is dividing and maybe-sorta-almost-not-quite conquering.
As Jeremy Carl writes, nothing about the analysis of whether or not Trump can win on the first ballot has changed because of his victory in New York or his anticipated victories in the Acela corridor primaries next week.
Even in a best-case scenario for Trump, he can probably gain no more than ten or 15 delegates above current projections, still leaving him far off pace to clinch the nomination. On the downside, if he unexpectedly loses anywhere on April 26, his path to 1,237 delegates is almost certainly foreclosed. An April 26 sweep is already priced into Trump’s stock.
Just as people were writing before Tuesday's vote, it is going to come down to Indiana and California. We shouldn't be too impressed by Trump's winning the relatively small number of Republicans voting in New York.
Even in Trump’s New York victory, there were warning signs for any mainstream GOPers tempted to get behind him. According to exit polls, he took 63 percent of the over-45 vote but just 50 percent of those 45 and under. He took just 52 percent of working-class (under 50K family income) Republicans, far short of the 63 percent he took among wealthier Republicans. And perhaps most important, he won less than half as many votes as Hillary Clinton and just two-thirds as many as Bernie Sanders. His “dominant” performance was only dominant in the context of a state with a small minority of GOP voters. GOP turnout was up moderately compared with 2008 (the last open-seat presidential race in New York) but there was absolutely nothing in New York’s GOP turnout to suggest that Trump would be a game-changer in terms of putting new states in play. In fact, Trump took just 50 percent of independents, far worse than his share among New York’s atypically liberal Republicans.

Nor was the news much better for Kasich, the Baghdad Bob of the 2016 campaign, who was busy yet again claiming momentum after another 30-point-plus shellacking. There is much to suggest that his performance in New York was something of a one-off, though he’ll likely do respectably on April 26 because of the relatively favorable demographics of the states voting then. After that, things look bleak for Kasich, unless you assume that his only role in the race is to help Trump win the GOP nomination.

Looking at New York’s exit polls, there’s substantial evidence that Cruz’s “New York values” comments hurt him there — which won’t be a problem for him next week. The exits showed that Kasich dominated among the #NeverTrump crowd in New York. Among the 24 percent of voters who said they would not vote for Trump if he were the GOP nominee, Kasich won a staggering 72 percent of them, far better than he had ever previously done with this demographic. He won 40 percent of voters who decided in the last week (far better than his 25 percent overall), suggesting that he maximized his value among late deciders. And perhaps most surprisingly, he beat Cruz among self-described conservatives and Evangelical Christians. The exit polls strongly indicate that Cruz and New York had a passionate, mutual non-love affair, so much so that he dramatically underperformed even in his strongest demographics. Don’t expect a repeat of that going forward.

In a week’s time, we’ll likely be back here analyzing some more Trump “victories.” But his win in New York and a follow-up sweep on April 26 are just what he’s expected to do. And he’ll have to exceed, not just meet, expectations in May and June if he wants to win the nomination.
Allahpundit links to this great line from Ben Shapiro summarizing up the New York vote.
The Smartest, Toughest People In The World™ voted overwhelmingly for a loudmouth braggart liar con man who whines about how mean Ted Cruz is to New Yorkers for suggesting they are leftists who vote for loudmouth braggart liar con men.

Naturally, the media declared the Republican nomination race over.
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The Weekly Standard details the debacle that has been Michelle Obama's meddling in the school lunch program.
Trusting students and even school administrators to figure out healthy meals on their own isn't exactly what the National School Lunch Program is all about. The program, administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, issues mandates and then punishes schools that don't meet the standards the bureaucrats set. And those standards keep getting stricter: In 2010, Washington put new calorie, sodium, sugar, and fat limits in place.

School lunches are just one of the child nutrition programs administered by the USDA. And as the Washington Free Beacon has reported, the department is proposing new rules for the programs, rules to be enforced with fines and other punishments. The USDA says it is "proposing to establish criteria for assessments against State agencies and program operators who jeopardize the integrity of any Child Nutrition Program." In plain English, "assessments" means "fines." The government's proposal also threatens "eliminating cost-reimbursement."

Cost reimbursements have been both a carrot and a stick. When first lady Michelle Obama championed rewriting the old school lunch menus along new and improved nutritional guidelines, the idea was to limit portion size and increase kids' consumption of fruits and vegetables. To encourage school districts to participate in the program, the government increased the amount it would reimburse schools per meal and increased, as well, the number of children eligible for reduced-price and free lunches. The reimbursements were offered as a way schools could offset the cost of the new and more expensive menus. But once those reimbursements are built into their budgets, schools are that much more bound by federal mandates, because they can't risk losing the subsidies.

And so the mandates get even more onerous. In 2014, the USDA enacted "Smart Snacks in Schools" rules that set nutrition guidelines for any foods offered at school—whether part of the lunch program or not. The rules specified breads be at least half whole-grain. Fat could account for no more than 35 percent of calories. And there are limits on calories, along with restrictions on salt and sugars.

The trouble with the mandates isn't that schools have trouble making the meals, but the fact that kids don't like them very much.

That might not have mattered as much if the USDA hadn't been reducing the reimbursements that had made the program attractive to schools in the first place. But add to the losses of reimbursements the losses because kids won't buy the food being offered, and the program looks less and less attractive. Penn-Trafford business manager Brett Lago told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that the district has been losing about $20,000 per year because of low student participation in the lunch program. "We are not in this to make a profit," Lago said. "Our goal is to break even as possible." The program is wasteful, he said, requiring students to take fruits and vegetables they don't want.
No wonder that some schools and states have been bowing out of the entire school lunch program. The ones who can't do that are the poorer schools and school districts.

Gosh, Pennsylvania has a screwy method of delegate allocation.
Pennsylvania, which holds its primary next Tuesday, uses a nonbinding “loophole” primary — and that could cost Donald Trump the Republican nomination.

If the state adopted the delegate rules of any other primary, he would probably be an even-money favorite, or better, to amass the 1,237 delegates needed before the convention.

Instead, his chances may come down to the whims of 54 unpledged Pennsylvania delegates.

No other state leaves so many of its delegates unbound — allowed to vote for whomever they please at the convention. That’s because it conducts its loophole primary in two parts. First is the “beauty contest,” which is a presidential primary preference vote. The winner of the beauty contest gets all of Pennsylvania’s 17 at-large and bonus delegates.

But the remaining 54 — the three delegates awarded to each congressional district — are unbound and elected in the delegate selection primary. In this part, voters directly elect delegates to the national convention. What makes Pennsylvania’s G.O.P. delegate selection primary so distinctive is that the ballot includes no guidance on whom a delegate will support at the national convention (the prospective Democratic delegates commit to a candidate). A voter will just see a list of names — some of whom might be recognizable, but others might as well be Joe Schmo....

Mr. Trump would be favored to win a majority of Pennsylvania’s 71 delegates under any other primary system. He leads by at least nine percentage points in every survey in the state, and is ahead of Ted Cruz by an average of 44 percent to 28 percent, according to The Huffington Post Pollster. He’s up by a similar margin of 46 percent to 30 percent in The Upshot’s demographic-based model. Our model gives him an edge in 15 of the state’s 18 congressional districts.

In a standard proportional allocation, Mr. Trump would probably be on track to win at least 40 of the state’s delegates. In a winner-take-most system, like Indiana’s or California’s, Mr. Trump would be favored to win at least 60 delegates.

Of course, we really have no idea what is going on in Indiana.
For all we know, Trump is up 20 points in Indiana. And if that is the case, then the pundit class is seriously underestimating the likelihood of a Trump nomination. On the other hand, maybe Cruz is well ahead, in which case the prospects for a contested convention are even more likely than now assumed.

So ESPN has demonstrated how inclusive they are by firing Curt Schilling for tweeting out something with which they disagree. There does seem to be a bias at ESPN against the expression of conservative views compared to liberal views.
ESPN might have no problem getting rid of conservative pundits, but the network has tolerated extreme liberal positions in the past without firing anybody. ESPN employee Tony Kornheiser compared the Tea Party to ISIS and insinuated the Tea Party was attempting to “establish a caliphate.”

Kornheiser is still cashing pay checks from ESPN....

It’s a fair point. Furthermore, ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith seems to speak on political and racial issues with abandon and has only been suspended for comments related to the Ray Rice affair.

So has Schilling been fired for being conservative and espousing conservative ideas, or was he fired because of the method of delivery of those messages?
Was Schilling just too in-their-faces about expressing his views?Larry O'Connor at Hot Air comments.
Frankly, when I turn on ESPN, I want to hear about sports, not politics. I see politics everywhere I go in my life. Baseball, football and hockey are supposed to be entertaining distractions from my everyday life. I don’t like it when liberal commentators (like Kornheiser or Michael Wilbon) are lecturing me about racial issues or the name of the Washington Redskins. I want to hear about sports.

And that’s what makes the firing of Schilling all the more outrageous. You see, his comments were made on his Facebook page, not over the air on ESPN. Is Schilling not allowed to express his own personal feelings in whatever way he chooses in his private time? And, if so, why are Kornheiser, Smith, Wilbon and others allowed to be just as political while on the air?
I would be happy to never encounter political views except in political venues. I'm sick of hearing them expressed on sports and cultural shows. I'd also be happy to turn on such shows and not see President or Mrs. Obama on those shows. But that horse has left the stable. Now it behooves ESPN to be fair, but I guess that is expecting too much.

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This is how much the Obama administration respects the checks and balances of our system of government. Now, he is just basically flipping off Congress.
Federal health officials refuse to give Congress hundreds of subpoenaed documents on Obamacare’s failed co-ops so that people will continue enrolling in the deeply troubled program, a congressional leader said Tuesday.

Twelve of the 23 co-ops created in 2011 under Obamacare at a cost of $2.4 billion have failed, and another eight of the remaining 11 are likely to go under this year. But the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) won’t hand over documents subpoenaed months ago by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform....

The committee sent a letter to HHS Acting Administrator Andrew Slavitt in November, demanding the documents about criteria for determining co-op sustainability and viability, co-op and exchange corrective action plans, the financial status of each co-op and exchange, the total federal taxpayer funds expended on each co-op and exchange, and any plans to recoup federal funding provided to failed co-ops and exchanges.

When most of the requested documents were withheld, the committee issued the February 2016 subpoena Chaffetz says HHS officials are now defying. “Our efforts to obtain information about these programs have been met with unexplained delays and what seems like bad faith,” he said.
Of course, this administration in allowing the legislature to find out how federal money is being spent and how they project it will be spent. They need to hide the failure of the whole project.

The National Enquirer is going full out in its crusade against Ted Cruz. Now it's linking Cruz's father with Lee Harvey Oswald.

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I was very happy that Harriet Tubman was the choice to replace Andrew Jackson on the $20. Of all the females suggested, she was the most worthy. But, apparently, there are some Social Justice Warriors who are never satisfied. Now there are some who are complaining about putting her on currency because money was used to buy slaves so she wouldn't have approved of money.
Others found it insulting to Tubman’s legacy — and frankly ironic. The abolitionist icon, after all, fought the oppressive system that launched our economy. Why would she want to become a symbol of it?

....As chatter grew about why Tubman should become the first woman to grace our paper currency — accompanied by a simultaneous activist-run web campaign to get a woman on the $20 bill — writer Feminista Jones presented a controversial counter-argument in an essay that went viral. There’s no place for women, especially women of color, she asserted, on America’s money.

Wrote Jones:

Harriet Tubman did not fight for capitalism, free trade, or competitive markets. She repeatedly put herself in the line of fire to free people who were treated as currency themselves. She risked her life to ensure that enslaved black people would know they were worth more than the blood money that exchanged hands to buy and sell them. I do not believe Tubman, who died impoverished in 1913, would accept the “honor.”
Apparently, Feminista Jones thinks that capitalism caused slavery and the degradation of women. Because without capitalism, women and blacks would have been free and equal throughout history? Wait a minute. Didn't slavery and the degradation of women exist millennia before capitalism was an economic theory put into practice? But such fact-based history would not serve the cause of decrying everything about America and twisting the efforts of to honor a woman, any woman ever. This is all kinds of stupid.

And there is no indication that Harriet Tubman, the actual person rather than the symbolic entity in Feminista Jones' head, had anything against money.
Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, a professor of history and African American studies at Harvard University, saw the development as positive. Tubman wasn’t against money, she said. She spent it to pry others from slave owners.

“She used hers to go back into a place where she had a bounty on her head,” Higginbotham said. “It says something about how she thinks about money. She used money as a way to help mankind.”

(At the end of her life, it turns out, Tubman received a pension check every month for being both a veteran and the widow of a veteran. The amount? $20.)
Some on the other side of the political spectrum are touting the fact that Harriet Tubman was a gun-toting Republican.

The NCAA is a rather despicable institution as it tries to make lots of money off of college athletes while maintaining a sanctimonious purity over supposed "student-athletes." Now there is this delicious story of what a hypocritical sleaze Mark Emmert, the president of the NCAA is.
NCAA President Mark Emmert made a pretty big promise to his employer in 2006.

After becoming one of the nation’s highest-paid public school presidents at the University of Washington, Emmert signed a pledge form that year to give some of his money back to the school — $100,000 to go toward a scholarship fund.

But he never followed through on that pledge, and that makes him a hypocrite, said Jay M. Glazer, a big Washington booster and philanthropist.

“The president of the university is the lead fundraiser,” said Glazer, not to be confused with the NFL analyst for Fox Sports. “We’re all expected to pay (our pledges). … Your integrity is on the line. You don’t make up phony stuff.”

Records obtained by USA TODAY Sports show $51,000 of the $100,000 pledge was paid by January 2010, but the rest of the pledge went unpaid after Emmert left UW, his alma mater, to become president of the NCAA later that year. Another person with knowledge of the situation confirmed the pledge was only half-paid, leading the university to endow the scholarship at half its planned amount....

In October 2006, the university board of regents gave Emmert an annual raise of more than $100,000, increasing his compensation to more than $700,000. Less than a month later, Emmert signed his $100,000 pledge form, promising to fulfill it with five annual payments of $20,000, starting in January 2008, according to records obtained by USA TODAY Sports. The records show the last payment toward the pledge was received by January 2010. Emmert was named NCAA president in April 2010.

In April 2013, a university vice president sent a letter to Emmert, politely reminding him of his pledge and noting that a deadline was approaching in a program that would have provided matching funds for his donation.
Emmert earns close to $2 million as head of the NCAA. But he can't live up to his promises and the university missed out on the matching funds of $50,000 that they would have gotten if he'd paid what he promised. Now we know that he's an even bigger jerk than I had previously thought.

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