Thursday, June 02, 2016

Cruising the Web

Michael Barone ponders the "dogs that didn't bark in 2016." For example, we've heard very little about the abortion issue or an exploration of Trump's pro-choice history. And, Barone argues, it hasn't been a potent issue for rallying support for Hillary Clinton. Perhaps, the whole issue just doesn't matter that much to voters anymore.
Abortions, like divorces and extramarital births, are rare among upscale Americans; they've become a mostly downscale phenomenon. Abortion clinics are closing for lack of demand as well as restrictive state laws. The procedure is disfavored in medical schools, where about half their students are women.

"Choice" — the brilliant euphemism for abortion — is not rallying voters to Hillary Clinton as her strategists have hoped. For women of a certain age, the abortion issue is a proxy for other choices they have made which run contrary to how they were brought up.

These women have been giving Clinton big margins over Bernie Sanders. But younger women, raised to assume they should work outside the home, have voted heavily for Sanders. It's not clear they'll rally to the polls for Clinton in November.
Evangelical voters aren't playing the role in the GOP campaign that they used to.
One reason is the vast change of opinion on same-sex marriage, now supported by about one-third of Republicans and clear majorities of all voters. Religious conservatives dismayed by this may simply be turning away from politics or voting on other issues. You didn't hear candidates boasting they were the strongest gay marriage opponents.
Another issue that didn't play a big role was foreign policy. Mostly what we've heard from Trump, Sanders, and Clinton is a rejection of free trade.
From all three, you've heard moaning about today's economy — and total unawareness that policies they oppose have over the last 70 years built a world of increasing prosperity and growing freedom.

Daniel Henninger argues
that Trump has become a prisoner of his persona which forces him to strike against any real or imagined opponent instead of just keeping quiet and let his real opponent, Hillary Clinton, sink from her own bad news and unpleasant personality. She got bad news last week by the release of the State Department IG report on her private server and emails along with bad poll numbers.
Anywhere else in political history, back to Julius Caesar, 99.9% of political candidates would have stood back and let their opponent bleed in public. Instead, Mr. Trump, the outlier of all time, stanched the bleeding of Mrs. Clinton’s week on Friday by attacking, with extraordinary and extended virulence, the federal judge presiding over the formerly obscure Trump University lawsuit.

He called Indiana-born Judge Gonzalo Curiel “Mexican” and “a hater of Donald Trump,” adding that “I think Judge Curiel should be ashamed of himself.”

And so at the low point so far in Mrs. Clinton’s campaign, Mr. Trump redirected the media’s pitiless glare away from her and back to him.

Politically, this is madness. But I think it is worth distinguishing between two Trump personas: the mad Trump and the MAD Trump.

MAD is an acronym for mutually assured destruction, a Cold War strategic theory which held that if the Soviet Union launched a thermonuclear ballistic-missile attack on the United States, the U.S. would reply in kind, assuring mutual annihilation.

MAD Trump is the shrewd, ruthless politician who threatens Hillary and Bill Clinton and everyone inside the Clinton tong with destruction if they or their surrogates attack him personally.

Mr. Trump launched his MAD strategy after Mrs. Clinton’s stump speech started to say that he isn’t “fit” to be president and that he abuses womanhood. Translation: The Clintons’ famous opposition-research trolls would dump more mud on Mr. Trump after the conventions.
By extending his MAD strategy from Clinton to Republicans like Susana Martinez when she isn't "nice" to him, he is harming his own ability to raise money and rally volunteers for the general campaign.
Politics is about large networks. When Donald Trump attacks one of these individuals so publicly, the aftershocks radiate outward across connected webs of loyalists and fundraisers.

Susana Martinez is chairwoman of the Republican Governors Association. Its members include GOP governors in at least seven important battleground states. Mr. Trump needs their states’ political machinery. Holding a Susana Martinez up to public ridicule is fun for him but increasingly dangerous. In politics, payback can come from innumerable places, and in ways you will never see.

Against this, Donald Trump seems to be betting that he’s the first truly realized media-age candidate. He’ll win the presidency because his public persona is more powerful than anyone’s normal politics. “I won’t change,” he says.

Maybe not, but five months from November’s election I think Donald Trump may be turning himself into a captive inside the cage of his own very familiar persona.

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Hillaryworld has a very lame of why she didn't turn over her emails as required by law.
Mills, Hillary Clinton’s chief of staff at the State Department, was deposed by lawyers for Judicial Watch, the watchdog that has driven most of the key revelations about Clinton’s e-mail transgressions.

Juiciest of all was Mills’ excuse for Clinton’s failure to turn over her e-mails, all official government information, on leaving office: There was “a lot going on.”

“The secretary was not only transitioning, there had been a — we had lost our first ambassador [Christopher Stevens, in the Benghazi terrorist attack] in quite some time, and we were stepping through the sets of issues associated with that,” Mills said.

Hmm. But then Clinton sat on the e-mails for two years, only handing them over after hackers revealed her secret setup.

In fact, the record’s clear that she “went home-brew” precisely to frustrate Freedom of Information Act requests. Worse, Clinton and her inner circle all signed agreements promising to safeguard classified info — then winked as the private server put those secrets at risk.

The rest of Mills’ testimony was just as tendentious, including 40 answers of “I don’t recall” and 182 of “I don’t know.” And the seven attorneys accompanying her objected to roughly 250 questions.

Even when sworn to tell the truth, Hillary & Co. are all about the stonewall.

The excuse that Hillary has been using to defend her use of emails that she forwarded messages so that they were captured by the State Department so she didn't need to turn over those emails from her server is false.
Hillary Clinton’s chief defense of her email behavior is that she tried to forward her messages so they were captured by the State Department — but a Washington Times analysis found she clearly did that only a quarter of the time when she was corresponding with someone outside the department.

More often than not, when Mrs. Clinton was exchanging thoughts or policy memos with outsiders, their correspondence ended up in the digital black hole of her secret email system and were never forwarded to anyone else in the State Department.

Andrew C. McCarthy explores the possibility of the Democrats' employing the Torricelli Solution to swap out Joe Biden to replace an unpopular and ethically challenged Hillary Clinton.
As a practical matter, though, the later the trade could be made, the better for the Dems. The longer Hillary perseveres (and Donald Trump expends time and energy campaigning against her), the more Democrats would be energized, when she finally pulled out, by their relief at being rid of the Clinton baggage once and for all.
Putting Elizabeth Warren on the ticket would be their sop to the Sanders supporters. Whether that would be enough to appease them remains to be seen. We'll have to see if the twenty thousand people who have signed up to support Sanders at the DNC convention will appreciate the party bypassing him to slide in Joe Biden.
The protesters are united in their support for Bernie Sanders, as well as their opposition to “a fraudulent Hillary nomination,” according to the group’s website.
Their leaders have set up a Facebook group — titled Occupy DNC Convention — to organize housing and transportation.

Protesters are encouraged to read documents shared within the group. One document is titled “Civil Disobedience Training.” Another is titled “Health and Safety at Militant Actions” and includes tips on first-aid and withstanding teargas.

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The WSJ celebrates
the Supreme Court's unanimous rejection of the federal government's interpretation of the Clean Water Act.
The Supreme Court is divided 4-4 on many issues, but the good news is that all eight Justices can still agree that Americans deserve their day in court to challenge intrusive government. That’s the essence of Tuesday’s unanimous ruling that the Obama Administration’s expansive interpretation of the Clean Water Act can be challenged in court.

In February 2012, the Army Corps of Engineers told the Hawkes peat-mining company that marshy land it owns in Minnesota had a “significant nexus” to the Red River 120 miles away and thus could be regulated under the Clean Water Act. Hawkes tried to challenge this determination in federal court. But the Corps said the company couldn’t do so until it had finished the Corps’s permitting process, which the Corps said would be very expensive and take years (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers v. Hawkes).

This amounts to a pre-emptive veto of private land use. The Army Corps said the company must wait to challenge the Corps’ decision. But if Hawkes develops the land on the assumption it would win its challenge many years hence, the company runs the risk of major penalties if it loses in the end. Heads the Army Corps wins; tails Hawkes loses.

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the Court that Hawkes shouldn’t have to wait for the government to “‘drop the hammer’ in order to have their day in court.” He added that “parties need not await enforcement proceedings before challenging final agency action, where such proceedings carry the risk of ‘serious criminal and civil penalties.’”

Ian Tuttle details
the efforts by college activists to reject the generosity of the Koch brothers to colleges. They have created a movement, UnKoch My Campus (UKMC) to urge colleges to reject those donations. In pursuit of these goals they're trying to intimidate professors and administrators by using the open-records laws to find out what was said in meetings or memos in which decisions were made to accept Koch donations. All they've uncovered is people speaking about encouraging a free exchange of ideas.
Throughout the transcripts UKMC highlights what it clearly believes are the most nefarious statements. For instance, Brennan Brown, a program officer with the Koch Foundation, is quoted as arguing that, “It’s also about important research that a lot of you are doing that’s timely, that’s relevant, that’s focused on a particular issue, that’s rooted in a ​republic of science,​ and it’s also too about mentorship. Academic and professional mentorship.” UKMC failed to excerpt the harrowing sentence immediately prior: “This is about being an entrepreneur, an intellectual entrepreneur, or an edu-preneur, and focusing in on ways in which you can engage students in meaningful conversations about a marketplace of ideas, a diversity of thought.” Eek!
The fact that an expression of support for the "marketplace of ideas," what used to be a commonplace ideal on the left, is now regarded as something nefarious and objectionable tells us all we need to know about the goals of UKMC. And it is not all billionaire donations that they object to. Only those from the Kochs. They don't mind money coming from Tom Steyer or George Soros or Michael Bloomberg.

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George Friedman writes to dispel the idea that fascism is on the rise in Europe and the U.S. As he argues, it is not fascism, but nationalism that is on the rise. In a world that admires multinational institutions such as the UN and the EU, any assertion of nationalism is a terrible challenge to their ideal world and so must be labeled by the despised term "fascism." As he reminds us, nationalism used to be a core part of classical liberalism. When people write about a rise of fascism today, they are demonstrating a misunderstanding of the term.
Nationalism is the core of the Enlightenment’s notion of liberal democracy. It asserts that the multinational dynasties that ruled autocratically denied basic human rights. Among these was the right to national self-determination and the right of citizens to decide what was in the national interest. The Enlightenment feared tyranny and saw the multinational empires dominating Europe as the essence of tyranny. Destroying them meant replacing them with nation-states. The American and French revolutions were both nationalist risings, as were the nationalist risings that swept Europe in 1848. Liberal revolutions were by definitions nationalist because they were risings against multinational empires.

Fascism differs from nationalism in two profound ways. First, self-determination was not considered a universal right by fascists. Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini and Francisco Franco, to mention three obvious fascists, only endorsed nationalism for Germany, Italy and Spain. The rights of other nations to a nation-state of their own was at best unclear to the fascists. In a very real sense, Hitler and Mussolini believed in multinationalism, albeit with other nations submitting to their will. Fascism in its historical form was an assault on the right of nations to pursue their self-interest, and an elevation of the fascists’ right to pursue it based on an assertion of their nations’ inherent superiority and right to rule.

But the more profound difference was the conception of internal governance. Liberal nationalism accepted that the right to hold power was subject to explicit and periodic selection of the leaders by the people. How this was done varied. The American system is very different from the British, but the core principles remain the same. It also requires that opponents of the elected have the right to speak out against them, and to organize parties to challenge them in the future. Most important, it affirms that the people have the right to govern themselves through these mechanisms and that those elected to lead must govern in the people’s name. Leaders must also be permitted to govern and extra-legal means cannot be used to paralyze the government, any more than the government has the right to suppress dissent.

Fascism asserts that a Hitler or Mussolini represent the people but are not answerable to them. The core of fascism is the idea of the dictator, who emerges through his own will. He cannot be challenged without betraying the people. Therefore, free speech and opposition parties are banned and those who attempt to oppose the regime are treated as criminals. Fascism without the dictator, without the elimination of elections, without suppression of free speech and the right to assemble, isn’t fascism.
If a politician argues against the EU today or rejects the control of the UN, that is not a fascist argument.
Arguing that being part of the European Union is not in the British interest, that NATO has outlived its usefulness, that protectionist policies or anti-immigration policies are desirable is not fascist. These ideas have no connection to fascism whatsoever. They are far more closely linked to traditional liberal democracy. They represent the reassertion of the foundation of liberal democracy, which is the self-governing nation-state. It is the foundation of the United Nations, whose members are nation-states, and where the right to national self-determination is fundamental.

Liberal democracy does not dictate whether a nation should be a member in a multinational organization, adopt free trade policies or protectionism, or welcome or exclude immigrants. These are decisions to be made by the people – or more precisely, by the representatives they select. The choices may be wise, unwise or even unjust. However, the power to make these choices rests, in a liberal democracy, in the hands of the citizens.
Notice how much of the push to give governmental powers to multinational entities like the EU has been accomplished without the vote of citizens. It was made by governmental leaders who specifically rejected the idea of a referendum. When voters of nations started rejecting the EU's constitution, the leaders switched to accomplishing the same end by treaty so as to ignore the will of voters.

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One more reason why Brazil was such a very terrible choice for the Olympics - the water in which some of the events will take place is full of floating garbage.
On the surface, the view of the Guanabara Bay and the iconic Rio skyline of soaring mountains and peaks is unparalleled. But look closely, and you can find long garbage trails of debris flowing through the areas where Olympic teams are training before the games.

The flotsam includes chunks of wood, rubber sandals, sneakers, and of course, plastic bags.

But this isn't the kind of pollution that the athletes are worried about.

One of Jurczok and Lorenz's teammates had to have emergency surgery after a race in Rio last summer, when small cuts on his legs became horribly infected.

For all its beauty, the sea here has also been a dumping ground of raw sewage washing down out of the Olympic host city. The horribly polluted waters are an environmental hazard that the city has struggled with for decades.

Brazilian authorities insist the bay will be safe for the sailors.
Eduardo Paes, the mayor of Rio, told CNN that the Games will be held during the time of year when there is less rain, and thus less effluent pouring into the sea.
Oh, that's a comfort. All this was known to the Olympics officials who chose Brazil, but they chose to swallow promises from the Brazilian government that everything would be fine.