Thursday, June 23, 2016

Cruising the Web

I'm glad that Marco Rubio has changed his mind and decided to run for reelection. It helps the Republicans' chances of keeping the Senate and he's too attractive a politician to be off the national stage. Whether Hillary or Trump wins this year, Congress is going to need to be a check on their power. We're going to need strong senators who can speak up in opposition to either of the presidential candidates.

Josh Krashaar makes the argument that this will help Rubio's chances for the 2020 nomination. He has to hope that the GOP electorate's flirtation with voting for a political novice will have worn itself out this year and experience will be more prized. If, as seems likely, Hillary wins the nomination, Republicans in Congress will be taking the lead in opposition to her agenda. There might be room for compromise on some issues, particularly Rubio's favorite - foreign policy. We'll see if the climate in 2020 will be as poisonous for politicians who have negotiated compromises in their past. Having spent time discussing The Great Compromiser, Henry Clay, I have a lot more respect for those in politics who find a way to compromise than those who think that resisting cooperation with their partisan opponents is a more noble path. Here is Henry Clay on the value of compromise in politics.
Mr. President, what is a compromise? It is a work of mutual concession - an agreement in which there are reciprocal stipulations - a work in which, for the sake of peace and concord, one party abates his extreme demands in consideration of an abatement of extreme demands by the other party: it is a measure of mutual concession - a measure of mutual sacrifice. Undoubtedly, Mr. President, in all such measures of compromise, one party would be very glad to get what he wants, and reject what he does not desire but which the other party wants. But when he comes to reflect that, from the nature of the government and its operations, and from those with whom he is dealing, it is necessary upon his part, in order to secure what he wants, to grant something to the other side, he should be reconciled to the concession which he has made in consequence of the concession which he is to receive, if there is no great principle involved, such as a violation of the Constitution of the United States. I admit that such a compromise as that ought never to be sanctioned or adopted.

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According to leaked documents posted on the web, this is what UNLV, a public university, had to shell out for the honor to have Hillary come give a speech there.
On top of the $225,000 fee for her 20 minute speech, the agency gave the UNLV Foundation “standard travel expenses” for Clinton.

This “include[s] a chartered roundtrip private air transportation (e.g., a Gulfstream 450 or larger jet), which must be paid in advance of the event. The host will also need to pay for roundtrip business class airfare to and from the event city for two (2) advance staffers who will arrive in the city of the engagement up to three (3) business days prior to the event,” the document reads.

“The host is responsible for hotel accommodations at a hotel identified by Speaker’s staff. Accommodations should include a presidential suite for the Speaker and up to three (3) adjoining or contiguous single rooms for her travel aides and up to two (2) additional single rooms for the advance staff. The host is responsible for all ground transportation for the Speaker, her travel aides and the advance staff while they are in the city of the engagement, as well as all phone charges/cell phones and meals during their stay.”
I am sure that it was all worth it for that 20-minute speech, right?

Slate is worried that Trump's speech against Clinton was "terrifyingly effective."
Trump spoke for 40 minutes without saying anything overtly sexist. Instead, he aimed straight at Clinton’s most-serious weaknesses, describing her as a venal tool of the establishment. “Hillary Clinton gave China millions of our best jobs and effectively let China completely rebuild itself,” he said. “In return, Hillary Clinton got rich!” He added, “She gets rich making you poor,” and called her possibly “the most corrupt person ever to seek the presidency.”

....Like all skillful demagoguery, Trump’s speech on Wednesday interwove truth and falsehood into a plausible-seeming picture meant to reinforce listeners’ underlying beliefs. In May, Morning Consult polled people with an unfavorable view of Hillary Clinton about why they didn’t like her. Fifty-eight percent said she was too liberal, while 22 percent said she was too conservative. But 82 percent of Hillary-averse voters said she was corrupt, and 88 percent said she was untrustworthy. These are the beliefs that unite her foes across the political spectrum. It’s why Trump, with his devious talent for derisive nicknames, was smart to dub her “Crooked Hillary.”
As Mara Liasson writes, this is the speech that Republicans have been begging Trump to make.
The speech will be fact-checked, and before it was even delivered, the Clinton campaign and its allies were pushing back with a detailed rebuttal. Nevertheless, the political significance of the speech is undeniable. After wasting the first six weeks of his time as the presumptive nominee of the GOP — getting sidetracked almost daily by petty personal feuds and provocative statements — Trump finally laid out a case against Clinton on foreign and domestic policy.

This speech should quiet some of the angst inside Republican circles about the quality of the campaign Trump is running (or not running). Opposition to the Clintons is one of the strongest strands in the GOP's DNA — and now that decades-long animus seems to have found a focused champion in Donald Trump.

Democratic members of Congress, including Rep. Elizabeth Esty, D-Conn.(seated left), Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga. (center) as they participate in a sit-down protest seeking a vote on gun control measures on Wednesday.

It's the speech Republicans have been itching to hear, in a crystallized way, since the 1990s. Trump gave them exactly what they wanted and likely quelled some fears about his candidacy. They might not be totally behind him, but Republicans are virulently opposed to her.

And the best way to galvanize people who should be on your team is to find a common enemy.

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Daniel Henninger advises Donald Trump and Paul Ryan to work together since they can't succeed separately. What he is really recommending is that Donald Trump start borrowing heavily from Ryan's agenda.
The Ryan House agenda, “A Better Way,” is complete, published in short and long versions, and is the explicit consensus of the Republican Party, the party Mr. Trump promised to unify.

The House agenda is the Trump Rosetta Stone. It is an off-the-shelf template for getting through the next five months. It is a way for the party’s nominee and its stressed-out candidates to sing from the same hymnal rather than threaten to stab each other in the back....

We’ll elaborate on just one element, which could cause anxiety among Democrats—poverty.

It’s long been thought that any Republican who could pull more than 15% of the black vote would put his Democratic opponent on thin ice. Black Americans, especially younger black Democrats, are disaffected. The Obama economy has been harder on them than on anyone.

The Ryan-House poverty proposal is about one idea: upward mobility, about not getting stuck for generations in the same welfare dead end. Donald Trump should deliver the Trumpian version of the House’s ideas on getting ahead to black voters in tough states. That’s what Chris Christie did in New Jersey and Bruce Rauner did in Illinois—and what Mitt Romney did not do in 2012.
Somehow, I don't see Trump learning policy proposals and being an effective advocate of someone else's agenda.

Ben Shapiro explains why the left must demonize conservatives.
Why the demonization?

The mainstream Right has never claimed that the murder of military members at Fort Hood by a jihadist required Democrats to support more military spending. We never claimed that the jihadist had been motivated by an anti-military culture generated by the Left. When Donald Trump idiotically suggested that Barack Obama might be a secret Muslim in league with ISIS, Republicans nearly universally condemned him.

The same isn’t true of the Left.

To the Left, failure to support their agenda is tantamount to support for murder. There are no conservative Americans who oppose same-sex marriage yet believe that gays and lesbians should not be murdered at nightclubs; there are no Christian Americans who don’t think men should enter women’s bathrooms, but also think that people who suffer from gender-identity disorder ought not be shot to death by a rampaging Muslim terrorist. There are no shades of gray in the Left’s view of the Right — we disagree, and thus we are evil.

That’s because the Left doesn’t believe in the basic concept of rights. The Left believes that you have a right to behave as they say you should behave — no more, no less. This is why the Left supports regulations on hate speech; they don’t agree that you have a right to say things that make people feel bad. That’s being a bad person, and the government shouldn’t let you be a bad person. This is why the Left thinks that private businesses have no right to discriminate in choosing their clientele — unless, of course, the Left is choosing which states to boycott for political purposes. The shibboleth so often parroted by the Left — “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it” — no longer applies.

The Left projects its own view of rights onto the Right, imagining that if the Right disagrees with any particular views or behavior, it must want to stamp out the people who propagate them.

And this funhouse mirror-image rightly scares them. It scares them so much that they have to routinely demand government coercion.

So the FBI thinks that Omar Mateen's wife might have been aware of his intended attack on the Orlando nightclub and is even considering charging her. But they've lost track of where she is.
Atorney General Loretta Lynch admitted today that the FBI is unaware of the whereabouts of Omar Mateen's wife, Noor Salman.

Salman has indicated she suspected Mateen was about to commit a terrorist attack, and even accompanied him to buy the weaponry he used to carry out the massacre. She insists, however, that as he left she tried to hold onto his arm so he wouldn't leave.
If the FBI believes she was aware of the impending attack, she could be prosecuted.

"Has the shooter’s wife left the state of Florida?" a reporter asked Lynch during her press conference Tuesday.

"Right now, I don’t know exactly the answer to that," Lynch candidly replied. "I believe she was going to travel but I do not know exactly her location now."
Gives you a lot of faith in the FBI, doesn't it?

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So this is what happens when a city decides they're too pure for commerce and banned Uber and Lyft.
Austin, Texas has become a ridesharing wasteland. One month ago, Uber and Lyft left the city, abandoning their 10,000 drivers—and leaving the city’s residents in a state of transportation chaos.

“Nobody really thought this was actually going to happen,” said driver Sarah Cooper, who spoke to Vocativ on a stormy afternoon in Texas. “There’s too much to lose in Austin, everybody said.” Cooper had been providing about 150 rides a week between Lyft and Uber before they left.

It’s been a month since Austinites narrowly voted down Proposition 1, which means rideshare drivers must now be subjected to a fingerprint-based background check in order to work for a ridesharing company. The defeat prompted the two Silicon Valley-based companies to leave Austin on May 9.

In their place, they left a patchwork of rogue Facebook groups, drivers struggling to find rides, bartenders terrified to over serve, and stranded drunks trying to get home.
So people are starting to organize their own ride-shares over social media, but of course people don't know who they're getting to drive them since they won't have been checked out as Uber and Lyft do. Drivers aren't as protected and the riders aren't protected and don't have the guarantee of a quick pick-up. And then, as many had predicted, there is the increase in drunk drivers. Apparently, Austin is a seriously heavy-drinking city. Before those who were too drunk to drive could easily summon an Uber; now they might be driving themselves home.
Austin drinks—a lot. The city’s downtown area has more bars per capita than anywhere else in America. Its residents drink harder than all other Texans. That’s not even accounting for the thousands of tourists who travel to Austin for huge events like South by Southwest, the X Games, and Texas Longhorn football games each year.

Combine the city’s affinity for drinking with a largely despised transportation system, cabs that refuse to take people on short trips, and severely limited ridesharing options and you’re asking for midnight mayhem.

“The first Friday and Saturday after Uber was gone, we were joking that it was like the zombie apocalypse of drunk people,” Cooper said....

Even more troubling than the late-night pedestrian concern is Austin’s rampant drunk driving problem—last year the city had more than 5,800 DWI arrests, according to police data. Back in December the city’s Police Chief Art Acevedo expressed concern for how an Uberless Austin would affect the road safety. “If we take away the (ride-hailing firms) here and in other cities, it definitely will impact DWI,” he said. “There’s no doubt about it.”

Recent data obtained from the Austin Police Department would seem to support Acevedo’s narrative. In the first three week after Uber and Lyft left Austin, DWI arrests were up 7.5 percent over the same time last year. City police made 359 DWI arrests from May 9, 2016 (the day Uber and Lyft shut down) to May 31, 2016. During that same period in 2015, Austin police made 334 DWI arrests.
But what does it matter when there were taxi drivers to be protected? Glenn Reynolds comments,
The thing is, these arrests generate revenue for the city. And, of course, traditional taxi services generate graft. So for politicians, it’s a no-brainer. If the public is worse off, tough.

The University of Northern Colorado chastises a professor for allowing debate in his class.
One such investigation was prompted by a classroom discussion of an article published in The Atlantic entitled, “The Coddling of the American Mind,” which is about college students’ diminishing capacity to entertain more than one side of a debate due to the rise of “microaggressions” and “trigger warnings” on campuses.

The professor then selected several controversial topics of discussion, including transgender issues and abortion, among others, and instructed his students to debate both sides of each topic. The assignment was apparently too much for one student to handle, as “they” filed an incident report to the Bias Response Team, which then launched an investigation into the professor.
How ironic that it was in response to an article about how young people today can't bear to hear opinions with which they disagree that the Bias Response Team had to be called in to investigate. Heat Street reports,
The Bias Response Team’s notes summarized: “Specifically there were two topics of debate that triggered them and personally felt like an attack on their identity ( is this harmful? Is this acceptable? Is this Christianity? And Gay Marriage: should it be legal? Is homosexuality immoral as Christians suggest?)”

The student, whose name is redacted and who is referred to as “they” in the report, complained that “other students are required to watch the in-class debate and hear both arguments presented.”

“I do not believe that students should be required to listen to their own rights and personhood debated,” the student wrote. “[This professor] should remove these topics from the list of debate topics. Debating the personhood of an entire minority demographic should not be a classroom exercise, as the classroom should not be an actively hostile space for people with underprivileged identities.”

The Bias Response Team wrote that while this incident “did not reach a level of discrimination,” members still contacted the professor to “have a conversation… [and] listen to his perspective, share the impact created for the student and dialogue about options to strengthen his teaching.”

The Bias Response Team wrote that once the conversation was completed, they wanted a full report of “the outcome of your time together. . . so I can document and share with the student that outreach was completed.”

The University of Northern Colorado did not respond to Heat Street’s request for comment about whether the Bias Response Team is a threat to free speech and academic freedom. We also asked to be put in touch with the professors who had received complaints, but we did not hear back before publication.

Ari Cohn, a free-speech lawyer with the nonprofit Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, said it was “deeply troubling” that UNC professors had been forced to respond to bias reports and to defend exposing their students to a variety of ideas.

“If even challenging a student’s views with a hypothetical opposing opinion is now off-limits, then truly nothing is sacred,” Cohn wrote in an email. “If professors are forced to modify their teaching styles to avoid such exercises, not only does it infringe on their academic freedom rights, but it does a tremendous disservice to students’ intellectual development.”

Mollie Hemingway writes of the ironies in the Democratic sit-in on the House floor.
You might say that this is the first sit-in you recall when members of Congress staged such a stunt in opposition to civil rights. You might note that Democrats twice voted down bills that would have expanded terror list background checks while also protecting the constitutionally protected right of due process.
The media response is quite different from when the Republicans tried a similar tactic in 2008.
This is also an opportunity to watch hypocrisy in action. After Republicans declared the recess and accordingly turned off the C-SPAN cameras, Democrats were furious and cried out about the unfairness of having cameras taken away from them. But in 2008, Republicans opposed a motion to adjourn before scheduling a vote to allow off-shore drilling. They refused to leave and continued to bash then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for leaving town before a vote. Democrats turned off the lights and microphones and shut off C-SPAN.

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