Friday, April 08, 2016

Cruising the Web

Bill Clinton's response to the BLM protester indicates what happens when a politician will defend his position instead of surrendering to the pressure of hecklers. A lot of what he said was totally legitimate, but it's just not what politicians should do. However, what is clear is that he regards Hillary's campaign as a chance to talk about his own presidency. That seems more important to him than advancing Hillary's race. And getting into a shouting match with a black protester is not going to help Hillary. I doubt that they wanted to spend the day defending Bill.

Paul Mirengoff notes that Clinton's rant demonstrates that Democratic candidates have been able to keep black voters in line for years by mouthing platitudes and promises to them. But they're not accepting it anymore.
Big Dog barked back today at Black Lives Matter protesters who interrupted his speech. Clinton shouted over the protesters for over more than ten minutes, rejecting their claim that Hillary’s use of the term “superpredator” in a 1996 speech about crime was racist and made her complicit in the murder of African-Americans. (Hillary, by contrast, says regrets saying “superpredator.”

....With the emergence of Black Lives Matter, moreover, future Democratic presidents and Congresses probably won’t be able to maintain their lock on the minority vote by making gestures and taking occasional crap. They will have to redistribute money to minorities, free criminals, overturn housing patterns, and so forth.

Whites are already alienated from the Democratic party. However, we shouldn’t assume, as many analysts appear to, that the Republican share of the white won’t increase dramatically if the Democrats embrace Bernie Sanders style socialism, redistribute money and benefits along racial lines, and go noticeably soft on crime.

If Bill Clinton (our “first black president”) is repulsed by Black Lives Matter dogma, then surely the vast majority of white Americans and many minority group members are repulsed too. But Democratic office seekers (as opposed to one spouse of an office seeker) have shown no willingness to stand against this dogma. They eschew Sister Souljah moments and increasingly embrace policies that are antithetical to what such moments would imply.
Liberals are not so enamored of Bill Clinton's performance. Michelle Goldberg writes at Slate,
At a time when Hillary Clinton is dependent on black voters and campaigning with mothers who’ve lost sons to police violence, Bill Clinton yoked her to his own discredited policies. He reminded everyone that, in defense of his bill, she’d once spoken about underage “superpredators,” language she has since apologized for. Then, Bill Clinton aped the maddening right-wing tendency to derail conversations about criminal justice abuses by invoking black-on-black crime. He might as well have said, “All lives matter!”

It was a mess, but it’s not the first mess he’s caused for his wife’s campaign. Just a couple of weeks ago, he decried “the awful legacy of the last eight years,” which sounded a lot like a condemnation of the Obama presidency—a presidency that Hillary Clinton is doing her best to tie herself to. And in February, Clinton said that if the system is rigged, it’s because Americans “don’t have a president that’s a changemaker.”

One might attribute this repeated clumsiness to the fact that Bill Clinton is getting old; his hearing is bad, and on the trail he looks frail and wan. Perhaps he’s simply slipping, mentally. But let’s remember that Clinton caused similar problems for Hillary in 2008. There was the time he tried to diminish Obama’s victory in South Carolina by noting that Jesse Jackson won there as well. The time he described the idea that Obama had gotten the Iraq war right as “the biggest fairy tale I’ve ever seen.” The time—it hurts to remember it—when he complained that the Obama campaign “played the race card on me.”
Goldberg notes that Bill Clinton's awkwardness only seems to show up when he's campaigning for Hillary. Psychologists would have a lot of fun analyzing that.

What fun to see the talking heads have to spend a day or two debating whether Bill was right in what he said to the heckler or was a total political disaster for his wife.

What we're seeing now is the deep divide that this campaign has revealed within the Democratic Party. We've been so riveted by the Trump Show on the Republican side that we haven't paid enough attention to what is going on among the Democrats. Chris Deaton writes at the Weekly Standard of the rift among the age cohorts voting for Bernie and Hillary,
The youth movement of Sanders's campaign has helped him engineer a stronger national challenge to Clinton than was imaginable, but it may not be enough to deny her the Democratic nomination. What it can do is signal that the party has a youth problem moving forward — quite a wonder on the heels of the Obama years.

As Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi wrote, reflecting the sentiments of a twenty-something Sanders backer: "For young voters, the foundational issues of our age have been the Iraq invasion, the financial crisis, free trade, mass incarceration, domestic surveillance, police brutality, debt and income inequality, among others. And to one degree or another, the modern Democratic Party, often including Hillary Clinton personally, has been on the wrong side of virtually all of these issues."

How nicely that dovetails with the same Trump sympathizers who have whacked the GOP for its treatment of immigration and trade. And how much less attention the campaign has paid to the Democratic crack-up.

No worries, though. Recent trends indicate there should plenty of time to make up for it. The Harvard Institute of Politics has found that the trust young voters have in major government institutions has waned continually since 2009, and trust in the presidency cratered at 32 percent in 2014 — a decrease attributable mostly to young Democrats. A Reason-Rupe survey of millennials found that pluralities don't trust Republicans or Democrats to handle 12 of 15 major issues polled. This is the sort of broad dissatisfaction that doesn't vanish overnight.

Just ask the GOP. The Democrats' turn is coming.

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And now Republicans will have the audio to use of Bernie Sanders saying why Clinton is not "qualified" to be president. What fun.
"She has been saying lately that she thinks I am quote-unquote not qualified to be president,” Sanders said. “Let me just say in response to Secretary Clinton, I don’t believe that she is qualified if she is through her super PAC taking tens of millions of dollars in special-interest money. I don’t think you are qualified if you get $15 million through Wall Street for your super PAC.”

As the video of Hillary trying to swipe her card in the NYC subway as she participates in photo op went viral yesterday, you might want to visit other everyday things that Hillary has struggled doing. She hasn't lived as an everyday person since the early eighties. No wonder she has trouble.

Remember when the media made up a fake story in 1992 that George H.W. Bush didn't know how cash registers read zebra stripes and used it as a metaphor for how Bush couldn't relate to the lives of ordinary people? That was actually a myth that the New York Times perpetuated. Actually, Bush was marveling at a technology that could read a zebra stripe that had been damaged or partially ripped off. But, as Snopes explains, the media totally mischaracterized that moment to portray Bush as out of touch with the American people. We'll see if they use Hillary's five swipes at the subway as a similar opportunity to advance a storyline of how out of touch she is.

Now her campaign is blasting white noise at reporters.
Reporters outside a Colorado fundraiser for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were unable to listen in on the Democratic presidential candidate's remarks after staffers blasted a static noise machine in their direction.

Clinton, who was holding a fundraiser Thursday evening in Colorado, was speaking outside at a private residence. Just when she started to speak, according to CBS Denver's Stan Bush, campaign staffers directed a speaker spewing out static noise at reporters hanging out across the street.

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Fred Barnes takes on the Kasich argument
that poll results showing him doing a lot better than Cruz and Trump against Hillary are reasons to nominate him.
The problem is a simple one: Voters in primaries are rarely persuaded by this argument. Even if they believe electability matters, they tend to believe the candidate they favor is electable. This is especially true when Republicans look at Clinton as the Democratic nominee. They think she's beatable by their candidate, even if polls indicate otherwise.

Charlie Black, who's been involved in GOP presidential races since 1972, says electability has never worked in primaries. "I've tested it over the years in polls," Black says. "Primary voters don't care about electability."

Exit polls bear this out. In last week's Wisconsin primary, only 11 percent said electability was "the top candidate quality." In contrast, 34 percent said the top quality was that a candidate "shares my values," 34 percent said a candidate's ability to "bring change" mattered most, and for 20 percent the most significant quality was telling it "like it is." Kasich finished a distant third in Wisconsin with 14 percent of the vote.

Voters in other primary states were similarly indifferent to electability.
If electability were so important to primary voters, Marco Rubio would still be in the race.

W. James Antle has a recommendation for Donald Trump. If Trump wants to demonstrate he can run the Executive Branch, try fixing his campaign instead of whining about how Ted Cruz is better organized than he is.
But the entire basis of Trump's appeal is that he is a master negotiator, a skilled deal-maker who can bring people to the table together to get things done. What he lacks in policy expertise and governing experience, he can make up for in managerial prowess and his skills at hiring the right people.

Even in the rare situation where Trump doesn't know what to do himself, he can identify someone who does and bring them aboard. Any deadweight that isn't getting the job done will hear his cold television catchphrase: "You're fired!"

So why can't Trump bring together the Republican Party after winning 20 states and amassing a sizeable delegate lead? Why hasn't he put together a world-class campaign organization and fired the people who keep getting outhustled by Cruz in caucuses and the vital state-level hunt for delegates?

....Trump needs organization to win the remaining delegates he needs to secure the Republican nomination. He needs diplomacy and negotiation to bring together the party he has divided in the process of becoming its front-runner. He needs persuasion to expand beyond his base of true believers and add cars to the Trump train.

Instead Trump has been doubling down on the things that have worked for him in the past. That strategy may appear to have been validated if, as expected, he wins New York in a landslide and puts Wisconsin in his rearview mirror.

But there are growing signs of disarray and discord within Trump's campaign. He has gained less ground than Cruz in the national polls and won fewer delegates since the field has winnowed, maintaining his front-runner status because he enjoyed such a large advantage to start with. His once cordial relations with Cruz have become acrimonious, and his head-to-head numbers against Hillary Clinton have deteriorated.

These last two problems will further curtail the already limited appetite among Republicans for doing him any favors if he arrives of the convention just short of a majority.

Running a campaign and running a country aren't the same thing. If it were, Barack Obama would be headed to Mt. Rushmore rather than mediocrity. But Trump has a chance to show us that his boasts about the unique skillset he'd bring to the Oval Office are true.

Of course, his supposed business acumen is nothing like what he likes to pretend it is. The NYT reports on another one of his failed enterprises.
For Donald J. Trump, it is a long-held legal strategy, if not a point of pride, to avoid knuckling under to plaintiffs in court.

“I don’t settle lawsuits — very rare — because once you settle lawsuits, everybody sues you,” he said recently.

But Mr. Trump made an exception when buyers of units in Trump SoHo, a 46-story luxury condominium-hotel in Lower Manhattan, asserted that they had been defrauded by inflated claims made by Mr. Trump, his children and others of brisk sales in the struggling project. He and his co-defendants settled the case in November 2011, agreeing to refund 90 percent of $3.16 million in deposits, while admitting no wrongdoing.

The backdrop to that unusual denouement was a gathering legal storm that threatened to cast a harsh light on how he did business. Besides the fraud accusations, a separate lawsuit claimed that Trump SoHo was developed with the undisclosed involvement of convicted felons and financing from questionable sources in Russia and Kazakhstan.

And hovering over it all was a criminal investigation, previously unreported, by the Manhattan district attorney into whether the fraud alleged by the condo buyers broke any laws, according to documents and interviews with five people familiar with it. The buyers initially helped in the investigation, but as part of their lawsuit settlement, they had to notify prosecutors that they no longer wished to do so.

The criminal case was eventually closed.

Mr. Trump’s campaign for the Republican presidential nomination rests on the notion, relentlessly promoted by the candidate himself, that his record of business deals has prepared him better than his rivals for running the country. An examination of Trump SoHo provides a window into his handling of one such deal and finds that decisions on important matters like whom to become partners with and how to market the project led him into a thicket of litigation and controversy.

Stephen Hayes ponders the Trump campaign's plan to have the candidate start giving more policy-oriented speeches. Well, the success of that effort depends on Trump's ability to understand and explain the policy positions that his campaign convince him to take. He hasn't demonstrated an ability to be coherent in the past. Hayes uses Trump's ramblings on trade policy as an example of how incoherent Trump can be. It really is a goulash of gibberish. He goes from suggesting a 45% tariff on Chinese goods to denying that he ever said that even when there is tape of him saying it and then eventually saying that "If they don't treat us fairly, hey, their whole trade is tariffed" Huh? Read the whole thing.
Such incoherence is not the exception. It's the rule—in many ways, it's the defining characteristic of Trump's attempts to talk about policy. It's Trump being Trump. Hoping that Trump can be a policy wonk is like wishing your mule could become a thoroughbred.

So Trump says he'll rebuild the U.S. military and in the next sentence says he will cut military spending. He opposes entitlement reform and promises not to raise taxes but says he can eliminate $19 trillion in U.S. debt in eight years. He's been for and against amnesty, for and against changes to abortion law, for and against fighting ISIS, for and against outsourcing, for and against H-1B visas, for and against the Dream Act, for and against single-payer health care, for and against the Obamacare mandate, for and against gun control, and on and on.

Even if he delivers a series of well-written policy speeches, a turn toward substance will require Trump to spend more of his time in interviews trying to resolve these many differences and otherwise explain his newly developed positions. And he will be pressed for details. It won't be enough simply to declare that he'd eliminate ISIS, for instance. He'll have to explain how. And he'll have to do so in a way that's better than he's done in the past.
Every time reporters have pressed him on details, he's descended into more incoherent babble. When the Washington Post asked him about using tactical nukes against ISIS, he talked about how he counterpunched against Bush and Rubio. When pressed again about using tactical nukes, this was his response:
Trump: I'll tell you one thing, this is a very good-looking group of people here. Could I just go around so I know who the hell I'm talking to?
This is not a man prepared to engage in depth on any policy issue. No wonder he refuses to debate anymore.

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The National Post celebrates Mark Steyn's performance in a Toronto debate on immigration.
In his opening statement, Steyn reviewed the present tumultuous situation in Europe. He made it clear that the majority of people streaming into and across the continent are not traditional refugees at all, but male economic migrants, mostly not from war-torn Syria. He, and later Farage, painted a grim picture of the impact that culturally sanctioned aggression is having on communities exposed to critical numbers of migrants, particularly on women and young girls — Steyn cited actual disturbing cases — who are bearing the brunt of the radiating anarchic dynamic inherent in the circumstances.

To some audience members..., Steyn dwelt excessively on the sexual crimes we’ve all read about in Cologne, Hamburg, Malmö and elsewhere. So it apparently seemed to Arbour and Schama, because they mocked Steyn for it in their rebuttals. Arbour sneered at both Steyn and Farage as “newborn feminists” (she got a laugh), while Schama disgraced himself with “I’m just struck by how obsessed with sex these two guys are, actually. It’s a bit sad, really.” (That got a very big laugh.) I took one look at Steyn’s glowering face after that remark — Schama will regret having said it to his dying day, I know it — and I kind of felt sorry for those two liberals, because I knew what was coming.

Steyn slowly rose and riposted, in a tone of withering contempt, “I wasn’t going to do funny stuff. I was going to be deadly serious. (But) I’m slightly amazed at Simon’s ability to get big laughs on gang rape.” Vigorous applause. He went on, “Mme Arbour scoffs at the ‘newfound feminists.’ I’m not much of a feminist, but I draw the line at a three year old … and a seven year old getting raped.” Vigorous applause.

I think that was the moment those of the audience who did change their minds got it. The pro side was happy to talk about “your tired, your poor, your huddled masses,” because they’re abstract images, which liberals like. The words were fresh and meaningful then, but today merely a nostalgic homage to a 19th century immigration adventure with no deep similarities to today’s situation. They’re feel-good words but that shouldn’t make the poet who wrote them in 1883 the author of global refugee legislation in 2016. When Arbour and Schama didn’t like the opposition’s message — no images, just descriptions they interpreted as racist — they chose to shoot the messenger with ridicule, a debating error and an intellectually dishonest strategy.

A civilized culture, which takes centuries of painstaking collaborative work to create, can be easily destroyed, and quickly. This is a reality conservatives understand, but liberals, consumed by guilt for past collective sins, and morally disarmed before the Other, choose to ignore. The Munk debate illuminated this important distinction, and for a change, realism won.

What a surprise.
More than two months after Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump claimed to have raised $6 million for veterans' charities at a fundraiser held on the eve of the Iowa caucuses, most of the organizations targeted to receive the money have gotten less than half of that amount.