Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Cruising the Web

So Trump is meeting with advisers to reassess his campaign strategy. So making idiotic statements, going off on a racist rant attacking the judge in his fraud case, ignoring lines of attack on Hillary after the IG report was removed, neglecting to focus on the economy when there's a bad jobs number, not hiring campaign staffers, not raising money, not running ads, allowing his opponents to define him using his own appalling words, acting as his own as an ineffective fast-response team in response to attacks were not a good campaign strategy? Good to know. Future candidates, pay attention.

This is what happens when incompetents are in charge of a campaign run by a conceited ignoramus.
onald Trump faces an extraordinary money deficit unheard of in modern presidential politics, entering the month with tens of millions of dollars less than Hillary Clinton.

Clinton's campaign had $42 million in the bank as of May 31, according to its report filed with the Federal Election Commission Monday. Her super PAC Priorities USA has $52 million.

Trump's campaign has $1.3 million.
$52 million versus $1.3 million. I guess people don't feel like donating money to the guy who keeps bragging how rich he is. But it takes money to run for president. He can't do it just by using Twitter and interviews on Sean Hannity. Remember this was the guy who bragged about how he could fix the nation's problems by hiring the best people. He can't even hire campaign operatives.

William McGurn reminds us of how liberals reacted when New York City tried to take away guns from criminals. They weren't so happy about those attempts even though that is the goal they profess to want.
Start with guns. Under Mr. Kelly, police expanded a tactic known as stop-and-frisk. Here’s a better way to think about it: gun control for bad guys.

Cops would be proactive. When they spotted someone behaving suspiciously, he would be stopped, questioned and sometimes frisked. Often police found an illegal weapon.

The gun control was not limited to the thousands of guns taken off the streets this way. Because the bad guys knew they might be frisked, they started leaving their guns at home. New York became America’s safest big city.

How was this success greeted? The cops found themselves denounced as racists, because the stops of black men were disproportionate to their percentage of the general population (but not disproportionate to suspect descriptions). The activists sued; an anti-cop federal judge egged them on; and Bill de Blasio made “racial profiling” by police a key campaign point in his successful run for mayor in 2013.

Never mind that as a result of the NYPD’s approach, thousands of young black and Hispanic lives were saved.

Alas, it’s the same sad story for the cause of better intelligence. Under Mr. Kelly, police set up a demographics unit. The Associated Press would win a Pulitzer for a sensationalist series of stories falsely implying it was about blanket spying on Muslims. In fact, the unit was about getting smart—learning where, for example, terrorists such as the Tsarnaev brothers might look for shelter had they made it to New York (as they’d planned) after bombing the Boston marathon.

Or what about the 2007 NYPD report called “Radicalization in the West: The Homegrown Threat”? Here’s a sentence from the first paragraph of the executive summary: “Rather than being directed from al-Qaeda abroad, these plots have been conceptualized and planned by ‘unremarkable’ local residents/citizens who sought to attack their country of residence, utilizing al-Qaeda as their inspiration and ideological reference point.”

Substitute “ISIS” for “al-Qaeda” and these words today look prophetic.

So how did the liberal world react to this effort to smarten up? In January, the de Blasio administration agreed to pull the report from the NYPD website as part of a settlement with Muslim groups who had sued. Two years earlier the NYPD had disbanded the demographics unit, also after much litigation and pressure.

Remember: All this came in a New York that, under Mr. Kelly, had suffered no terror attack after 9/11 and had seen its shootings and murders driven down to historic lows.

The larger point of New York’s record here is that it’s not enough to have smart and effective policies if the goal is to bring down gun violence and stop terrorists. The other critical factor is a leader like Mr. Bloomberg, willing to buck political correctness and back his law enforcement team.

Worth thinking about in light of a Democratic attorney general who tried to censor pledges of fealty by an Islamist mass murderer and a Democratic presidential nominee who claims she would be tough on guns and terror.

Now that we had the farce of Loretta Lynnch seeking to expunge the name of ISIS from the transcripts of the phone conversations of Omar Mateen during his terrorist rampage and the White House denying any responsibility, it's time to wonder what she thought she was going to accomplish by her choice. She claimed that she didn't want to "propagate their rhetoric."
Apparently, in her mind, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi & Co. have been judiciously waiting for more ironclad evidence before making Orlando a staple in their recruitment efforts, and the DOJ thought a redacted transcript would cut them off at the knees. “He only pledges allegiance to ‘[omitted]’! We can’t put this on the fliers!” And likewise with all of those potentially “self-radicalizing” “lone wolves.” (Never mind all of the beheading videos they can still watch on Reddit.)
Then the Justice Department said they were releasing only a partial transcript so as to provide transparency while being sensitive to the family members and survivors.
Transparency, indeed! The one thing that has been transparent, over the course of this entire mindless episode, is that we are governed by contemptuous morons. The calculated judgment of this administration was to censor information, to concoct fantastical explanations about why it was censoring the information — then, when it was forced to backtrack, to provide further ludicrous rationales for why it was backtracking. The administration was so determined to forward its preferred narrative about Orlando — and so confident that it would succeed — that it perpetrated, and announced in advance that it would be perpetrating, an obvious fraud on the country.

Coming just weeks after Ben Rhodes’s self-congratulatory interview with the New York Times Magazine about working to hoodwink voters into supporting the Iran deal, one might sense a pattern. If they act like they think we’re idiots, it’s because they do.

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All federal employees are above average.
In Lake Wobegon, it is said, "all the children are above average." So, apparently, are all the workers in the federal government.

Of course, Lake Wobegon was a fictional town in the radio show "A Prairie Home Companion," and so that impossible claim was whimsical. But when it comes to the federal government, this absurd rating of worker performance is all too real.

A review of federal worker performance ratings by the Government Accountability Office found that 99.5% of them got a "fully successful" rating or above. More than a third were given the highest rating of "outstanding."

At the other end of the spectrum, just 0.4% of federal workers were rated as "minimally successful" and 0.1% as "unacceptable."

Marco Rubio seems to be getting closer to deciding to enter back into running for the Senate. It wouldn't be a gimme. He'd still face a tough primary and would have to run with Trump at the top of the ticket. That wouldn't be fun.
Assuming he clears the primary, he’ll then be forced into a general-election campaign against Murphy, whose ability to raise huge sums of money from the get-go caught some Republicans by surprise. And in the state that could well determine the winner of the presidential race, the Senate candidates will, to a large degree, be at the mercy of the advertising and ground games employed by those at the top of the ticket.

If Rubio loses — a real possibility in a toss-up state, particularly with Trump at the top of the ticket — it could end his political career. If he wins, he’ll spend the next four to six years voting on bills in a Trump or Clinton administration, and then being called to account for those votes whether he runs for president again or for a third term in the Senate. Many of his likely competitors in a future presidential election, including Ted Cruz, Tom Cotton, and Ben Sasse, will be in the Senate with him, staring him down from the right.

Rubio allies say that if he does run, it will be because he wants to serve, not because he is weighing the costs and benefits to his political future. But the questions are one and the same: A failed Senate bid would severely limit his ability to serve in the future. A successful run could cast him as a hero. Whatever his choice in the coming days, his political future remains an open question.

Here's a reminder of another time that the Obama administration scrubbed "Allah" from a transcript when it wasn't politically desired.

This is how corrupting Obamacare is.
Shortly following last week’s revelation that Obamacare premiums will spike yet again in 2017, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that it would offer $22 million in grants to state insurance officials to enforce “compliance with Affordable Care Act key consumer protections.” The Obama administration will, in other words, bribe state regulators to impose price controls on insurers selling coverage through Obamacare exchanges. Where did CMS get the $22 million? From a multi-million dollar slush fund the federal government has quietly used to control state insurance departments over which it has no legal authority.

This money, as CMS puts it, “is part of $250 million in state rate review grants the Affordable Care Act provided to improve the process for how states review proposed health insurance rate increases and hold insurance companies accountable for unjustified hikes.” The press release also claims that the $22 million will be distributed from “unobligated rate review grant funding from prior years.” This is odd considering that $246.9 million of the $250 million has already been awarded. It would be interesting to hear Andrew Slavitt, the Acting Administrator of CMS, explain how he got $22 million from a grant fund in which only $3.1 million remains.
Since I teach the ratification of the Constitution, I often wonder what Anti-Federalists would say if they came back today. It is as every prediction they made about what the new central government would do to absorb the powers of the individual states and how this new office of the presidency would allow someone to act without check had come to pass. And the implementation of Obamacare would be a prime example.

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Jeff Jacoby is not impressed with the moaning and groaning by feminists about the number of women serving as directors of S&P 500 companies.
ANOTHER DAY, ANOTHER report bewailing the number of women on corporate boards of directors. According to a tally released on Tuesday by Catalyst, a nonprofit group that focuses on women in the workplace, 27 percent of new appointments to the boards of companies listed on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index in 2015 went to women. That boosted to 20 percent the total share of women serving as directors at S&P 500 companies.

Catalyst gloomily describes these findings as “dismal.” The group’s president, Deborah Gillis, laments that “men continue to be overrepresented, holding more than their fair share of board seats and, in some cases, all the board seats.”

Professional pessimists can always be counted on to find the clouds in a clearing sky, especially when it draws media attention. Catalyst’s annual census of women on corporate boards routinely generates a bumper crop of headlines about how little headway has been made in diversifying boardrooms by sex. But is “dismal” really the right word for the advance of women onto boards of directors?

In 2015, according to Catalyst, only 2.8 percent of S&P 500 companies, just 14, had no women on their boards. One decade earlier, those numbers were more than four times as large: Twelve percent of the S&P 500 — 60 companies — had all-male corporate boards in 2005. And the shift is accelerating. As of this week, the number of corporations on the S&P Index with no female directors is down to eight.
Jacoby points out that corporations usually don't have much turnover among their directors' seats so the accelerating number of women getting those seats demonstrates distinct progress.
To some gender warriors, of course, the situation will remain “dismal” until the share of women on corporate boards matches the share of women in the population. Gillis’s complaint that men have more than their “fair share” of board seats reflects the fallacy that the sexes would be equally represented in institutions and occupations if only discrimination, whether overt or institutional, weren’t in the way.

But it’s no more logical to expect parity between men and women in boardrooms than to expect it in professional athletics (where men tend to earn far more than women), or in the awarding of college degrees (where women outperform men). Notable gender disparities exist in everything from imprisoned criminals (overwhelmingly men) to single home buyers (overwhelmingly women). Obviously there was a time when blatant sexism and outrageous double standards made it all but impossible for women to climb the corporate ladder. In 2016, however, women run some of the nation’s largest and most influential companies — General Motors, IBM, PepsiCo, Xerox. It is hard to make a convincing case that an entrenched and toxic patriarchy is blackballing women from the ranks of the business world’s elite.
But activists benefit from being glass-half-empty. They don't get contributions from donors or attention paid from the media if things are going well for their cause.

Ah, if only logic could be used. Thomas Sowell writes,
Surely murder is a serious subject, which ought to be examined seriously. Instead, it is almost always examined politically in the context of gun control controversies, with stock arguments on both sides that have remained the same for decades. And most of those arguments are irrelevant to the central question: Do tighter gun control laws reduce the murder rate?

That is not an esoteric question, nor one for which no empirical evidence is available. Think about it. We have 50 states, each with its own gun control laws, and many of those laws have gotten either tighter or looser over the years. There must be tons of data that could indicate whether murder rates went up or down when either of these things happened.

But have you ever heard any gun control advocate cite any such data? Tragically, gun control has become one of those fact-free issues that spawn outbursts of emotional rhetoric and mutual recriminations about the National Rifle Association or the Second Amendment.

If restrictions on gun ownership do reduce murders, we can repeal the Second Amendment, as other Constitutional Amendments have been repealed. Laws exist to protect people. People do not exist to perpetuate laws.

But if tighter restrictions on gun ownership do not reduce murders, what is the point of tighter gun control laws -- and what is the point of demonizing the National Rifle Association?
He goes on to demonstrate that empirical studies comparing the United States with England or among the states here do not demonstrate any that any restrictions on buying guns reduces murder rates.
Virtually all empirical studies in the United States show that tightening gun control laws has not reduced crime rates in general or murder rates in particular. Is this because only people opposed to gun control do empirical studies? Or is it because the facts uncovered in empirical studies make the arguments of gun control zealots untenable?

In both England and the United States, those people most zealous for tighter gun control laws tend also to be most lenient toward criminals and most restrictive on police. The net result is that law-abiding citizens become more vulnerable when they are disarmed and criminals disobey gun control laws, as they disobey other laws.

The facts are too plain to be ignored. Moreover, the consequences are too dangerous to law-abiding citizens, whose lives are put in jeopardy on the basis of fact-free assumptions and unexamined dogmas. Such arguments are a farce, but not the least bit funny.

Here's an interesting maneuver in the climate change debates.
Eric Schneiderman and Sheldon Whitehouse, call your office. The New York Attorney General and Rhode Island Senator who helped to launch the prosecution of dissent on climate change may not like where their project is headed. Thirteen state Attorneys General have sent a letter pointing out that if minimizing the risks of climate change can be prosecuted as “fraud,” then so can statements overstating the dangers of climate change....

“We think this effort by our colleagues to police the global warming debate through the power of the subpoena is a grave mistake,” says the letter. “Using law enforcement authority to resolve a public policy debate undermines the trust invested in our offices and threatens free speech.”

It sure does, not least by politicizing fraud prosecutions even more than they already are. Mr. Schneiderman and some 15 other Democratic AGs are targeting only one side of the climate debate—i.e., fossil-fuel companies or think tanks that question climate orthodoxy. Mr. Schneiderman claims that Exxon’s disclosure about the risks of climate change has been inadequate, though the oil company has discussed such risks in its 10-K disclosures filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, among other places.

But the AGs’ letter points out that, “If Exxon’s disclosure is deficient, what of the failure of renewable energy companies to list climate change as a risk?” If climate change turns out to be less serious than advertised, then “‘clean energy’ companies may become less valuable and some may be altogether worthless,” the letter adds.
What would be preferable is for no authority to try to use fraud investigations to criminalize statements on policy and political debate.

Unions have succeeded in getting the New York legislature to pass a law to put an end to Airbnb in the state. Jazz Shaw traces down the contributions from the Hotel interest group to New York Democrats.
Meanwhile, the impact will be felt by residents in the Big Apple and around the state. One of the hardest hit groups are retirees who count on rentals of empty nest rooms for income in their later years, as reported recently by the New York Times. But it’s not just retirees. Those in the middle class who struggle to live in a tax wasteland with an outrageous cost of living rate like New York and somehow managed to obtain a home gain some budget relief by renting out an extra room. In fact, the only people not affected are the ones who are rich enough not to need the extra income.

That’s some real service that the Democrats are delivering to their middle class and poor constituents, eh? But at least they’re keeping the unions happy.
Democrats are working along with unions to block innovative aspects of the gig economy. They don't like Uber either since that hurts taxi drivers.

The facts that give the lie to Obama's claims about the economy.
President Barack Obama needs a reality check. Earlier this month in Indiana, he accused his critics of ignoring the “facts” and purporting “myths” about his economic record. But if Republicans are truly ignoring the facts, Obama should consider it a blessing.

A quick look at the facts will show that Obama’s economic performance has been weak—even by his own standards.

In its budget for the fiscal year 2010, the Obama administration estimated that real gross domestic product would decline in 2009 by 2.8 percent that year and then increase by 2 percent in 2010.

Furthermore, the White House forecast that by 2011 its massive stimulus program would start paying off, with growth accelerating to 3.8 percent that year and then soaring above 4 percent from 2012 to 2014.
Errrr. Not quite. Obama's policies actually depress economic growth. And we'll be facing more of the same from the Hillary presidency.

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Just what college students need - less math and more diversity training.
At Wayne State University in Detroit, students will be making some new course selections in the coming semesters if a new faculty proposal is put into place. For those who find mathematics to be a bit on the difficult side or not important to their goals, good news! You won’t have to be bothered with studying calculus or statistics. Instead, you’ll be filling your time and required credit hours with courses in “diversity training.”

The Air Force, apparently, doesn't approve of mentioning God at a private flag-folding ceremony even when the retiree requested it.

One sniper-shot. Two dead ISIS car bombers. Priceless.

ESPN looks at what college teams we would have witnessed if college basketball players could not be one-and-dones, but had to stay at least three years as football players do. There would have been some truly great teams in the past decade.