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Monday, June 06, 2016

Cruising the Web

This is a perfect story to illustrate both how Democrats go overboard in seeking to regulate political speech and how lacking they are in a sense of humor. Democratic appointees on the FEC voted to investigate Mike Huckabee for making a joke about hoping supporters would rain millions of dollars in contributions on him.
In the latest display of FEC Democratic efforts to regulate speech and target Republicans, Commissioners Ann Ravel and Ellen Weintraub backed a complaint against Huckabee, who made the joke during his May 2015 presidential candidacy announcement.

At that event, he said, "I will be funded and fueled not by the billionaires, but by working people across America who will find out that $15 and $25 a month contributions can take us from Hope to higher ground. If you want to give a million dollars, please do it, but most can't."

He later told the FEC it was a joke, and the FEC staff report on the issue noted that Huckabee even changed his demeanor when he said it to reinforce that he wasn't serious.

"We conclude that an objective listener would not reasonably have understood that Huckabee in fact solicited million-dollar contributions. Rather, he appeared, to be making a humorous aside in the course of his speech," said the just released staff report that recommended that a complaint against the former Arkansas governor be dismissed.

But when the vote — also just released — was taken, Ravel and Weintraub balked. All three Republicans and the third Democrat on the FEC voted to dismiss the complaint.
Yes, because candidates who seek to evade the campaign finance laws by a million dollars from a donor always do it in front of the cameras at their announcement speech. Geesh. How ridiculous are those two FEC Democratic members? With one more appointee who were as dogmatic as they were, we could be close to the point that the FEC would take it upon itself to regulate political humor.

I remember when one of the takeaways from the 2000 election was that Gore hurt himself in states like West Virginia and his home state of Tennessee by coming out so strongly for gun control.
Come the general election, Gore was being hit from the other side—as being anti-gun. Led by Charlton Heston, then head of the NRA, the right hammered Gore on the gun issue, particularly in then-swing states where it was likely to resonate, such as West Virginia and Gore's home state of Tennessee. Gore lost both states, but that would have been moot had he carried Florida. But when the Supreme Court awarded Florida and the presidency to Bush, it brought to the fore the losses in other smaller states that would have put Gore over the top, and the reasons for those losses. The lesson many Democrats drew from the losses was plain: it was gun control that done it. And from that point on, gun control has pretty much been non grata on the national Democratic agenda.
We went from Gore's position in 2000 to John Kerry dressing up in camouflage and inviting the media along as he bought a gun and went hunting in Ohio. Hunting for ducks that is. By 2007, it was conventional wisdom among Democrats that they had been hurt in key swing states in both 2000 and 2004 by the opposition of the NRA. I guess Democrats don't worry about losing the votes of those gun clingers anymore. Now Clinton is unwilling to say "whether she believes the right to bear arms is guaranteed by the Constitution."
"Do you believe that an individual's right to bear arms is a constitutional right, that it's not linked to service in a militia?" ABC's George Stephanopoulos asked the Democratic presidential front-runner.

"I think that for most of our history, there was a nuanced reading of the Second Amendment until the decision by the late Justice [Antonin] Scalia, and there was no argument until then that localities and states and the federal government had a right, as we do with every amendment, to impose reasonable regulations," Clinton responded.

She added, "So I believe we can have common-sense gun safety measures consistent with the Second Amendment."

"But that's not what I asked," Stephanopoulos interjected. "I said, do you believe that their conclusion that an individual's right to bear arms is a constitutional right?"

"If it is a constitutional right, then it, like every other constitutional right, is subject to reasonable regulations, and what people have done with that decision is to take it as far as they possibly can and reject what has been our history from the very beginning of the republic, where some of the earliest laws that were passed were about firearms," Clinton said, declining a second time to answer the question directly.
Of course, if she knew more about the decision in D.C. v. Heller, she'd know that Justice Scalia did indeed state that the decision did not stand in the way of governments enacting or respecting
"longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms."
Note Hillary's phrasing "If it is a constitutional right." That seems to indicate some doubt in her mind as to whether or not it is. We'll have to see if public opinion on gun rights had changed enough since 2000 for that not to be a problem for her in some of the swing states. We'll know if the internal polls show that becoming a problem for Hillary when she dons camouflage and takes a rifle out duck hunting in Ohio.

Bernie Sanders has finally woken up to how very sleazy the Clinton financial arrangements have been.
Sen. Bernie Sanders took issue Sunday with the Clinton Foundation for taking millions of dollars from Saudi Arabia and other governments that oppress civil rights and civil liberties while Hillary Clinton was secretary of state.

Sanders told CNN's "State of the Union" that he does in fact "have a problem" with the Clinton Foundation taking those sums of dollars from those types of governments. Between the foundation's inception in 2001 and 2014, Saudi Arabia gave the foundation between $10 million and $25 million.

"Yes it is [a problem]," Sanders said. "You asked me about the Clinton Foundation. Do I have a problem when a sitting secretary of state and a foundation run by her husband collects many millions of dollars from foreign governments, governments which are dictatorships? You don't have a lot of civil liberties, democratic rights in Saudi Arabia. You don't have a lot of respect there for divergent, opposition points of view, for gay rights, for women's rights. Yeah — do I have a problem with that? Yeah, I do."
So what took him so long to say anything about that? Previously he had declined to criticize her about her foundation. Just imagine if he'd talked about those conflicts of interest throughout the campaign. My hypothesis is that he decided to not go after her for all her ethical problems because he thought he had little hope of winning the nomination and was just seeking in the beginning to get his ideas out there. The success he's had in contrast to her and the more the party has rallied to block his path despite his better poll numbers against Trump, the more he's bought into his own hype. Facing crowds of cheering people day after day will do that to a candidate. (Look what it does to Trump.) So now he's angrier and more willing to attack her personally on her ethics just when the Democratic big wigs are hoping that he'll fold his tent and surrender to the juggernaut that is Hillary.

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If you listened to Hillary Clinton's foreign policy speech last week, there was a lot that would have appealed to neo-conservatives. As Bret Stephens and Mary Kissel discuss, this was a speech that Jeb Bush could have given. John Podhoretz thought it was the best speech that she has ever given and one that could "have been Marco Rubio's stump speech." I wonder how the rest of the Democratic electorate likes those comparisons to Jeb and Rubio.
ever before has she pulled off a coup like this one — an extremely well-crafted and well-delivered broadside against Trump’s willful ignorance and ill-considered policy prescriptions, as well as a coherent presentation of a liberal internationalist approach to foreign affairs.
Her use of Trump's own words to demonstrate how unsuitable he is to be president was quite well done.

The big problem was that she was the one delivering the speech. As the New York Post editorial board writes, many of her digs at Trump could also describe her.
Clinton tried to portray Trump as “dangerous.” But what do you call it when a secretary of state, to shield herself from accountability, stores classified e-mails (some beyond “top secret”) on her private, unsecured server, leaving them vulnerable to hackers the world over?

Or who goes home for the night with a US consulate besieged by al Qaeda-linked terrorists — then later lies to the victims’ families about how a YouTube video was to blame?

Clinton called Trump “temperamentally unfit” to be commander-in-chief. But how would you describe an ex-top official who continually lies to the public and holds herself above the law?

Trump “doesn’t understand” the world, she said — but then denied that the world has laughed at President Obama’s weakness. She even claimed we’re “safer” with Obama’s deal with Iran, which gives the mullahs a clear path to nuclear weapons and hundreds of billions to fund terrorism.

Who doesn’t understand the world?

More: Hillary said Trump would “embolden” our enemies. Yet, like Obama, she can’t even bring herself to call ISIS what it is: “radical Islamic extremists.” How does she think the terrorists are reacting to that?
Her biggest problem will be convincing people that she and Barack Obama have indeed left the world safer and the United States more secure than when they entered office. If Trump's advisers can stop him from ranting about the judge in his Trump University fraud case or Bill's history of sexual abuse, there is quite an argument against Hillary's time as Secretary of State to be made. He just has never shown the ability to make a coherent, fact-based argument on any topic. He'd prefer to throw out some slogans and talk about how she's been a disaster without much supporting evidence.

Since Trump loves polls, he would do well to read Alexander McIntyre at Bloomberg who casts shade on Clinton's claim that she and Barack Obama have restored the reputation of the U.S. in the world. Yes, international polls of people's view of the U.S. did show an improvement with the election of Barack Obama, that positive line decreased and flat-lined after a couple of years.
None of this is meant to be a grading of Clinton's overall performance as secretary of state. The job requires much more than just maintaining a positive reputation for the country. Clinton's role in gathering consensus for sanctions on Iran in order to bring them to the negotiating table on a nuclear agreement is often cited as a major achievement, as is her advocacy for women's and girls' rights in the developing world. Yet the broader claim that she restored America’s global reputation may be a harder sell. If these three polls are any indication, by the time Clinton left Foggy Bottom, global opinion about the U.S. had fallen to, or below, where it was when she got there.

Even the NYT is noting all that Hillary left out of her speech on foreign policy.
ut although her campaign had described the speech as a major foreign policy address, Mrs. Clinton spent more time ridiculing and dismantling Mr. Trump’s statements than she did elucidating her positions.
The paper goes on to point out that she didn't say anything about whether or not she still supports a no-fly zone in Syria or what she would do to stand up to Putin's aggressive acts. She didn't give a plan for Libya or how to defeat ISIS or how to confront North Korea. Of course, this is not the year of campaign specifics mattering. Trump doesn't give any specifics about any of his grandiose promises.

So with the mess that there is in the world today, voters will have to basically close their eyes and vote on which candidate they distrust the least on foreign policy. Perhaps it made sense for Clinton to deliver platitudes on foreign policy and reserve her strongest language for ridiculing Trump's utterances. She and her advisers probably realized that that was the only part of her speech that would get any media coverage. It's just pretty pitiful for those of us who care about these issues to have such a dearth of reasons to support either candidate on foreign affairs.

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Isn't this just typical of this administration?
The White House doesn't seem to know how much money it has on hand to battle the growing threat of the mosquito-transmitted Zika virus, even as it continues to demand $1.9 billion in new spending.

The Obama administration in April shifted about $590 million from a fund aimed at controlling the Ebola virus, to combat the new Zika threat. But administration officials have been unable to answer how much of that money is left.

The White House, the Centers for Disease Control and the Office of Management and Budget were all unable to provide an exact number or even an estimate, despite repeated requests. Not even House appropriators can find out exactly how much money is available and how it is to be spent, aides told the Washington Examiner.

It's a critical question, because Congress is trying to determine how much money is needed to fight Zika only until Sept. 30, when the current fiscal year ends.
And then there is this little nugget about how they've spent some of that Zika money. Senator James Lankford of Oklahoma is accusing the Obama administration of taking money that could have been used to combat Zika on fighting climate change.
In a floor speech last week, I also shed light on the fact that Congress last December provided the Obama administration with authority to pull money from bilateral economic assistance to foreign countries.

You might ask—so what did the administration spend the infectious disease money on earlier this year? You guessed it… climate change.

They can use those funds to combat infectious diseases, if the administration believed there is an infectious disease emergency. In the middle of the Zika epidemic, the administration did use their authority to pull money from foreign aid and spend it, but they didn’t use it for Zika.

You guessed it… climate change.

In March, President Obama gave the United Nations $500 million out of an account under bilateral economic assistance to fund the U.N.’s Green Climate Fund.

Congress refused to allocate funding for the U.N. Climate Change Fund last year, so the president used this account designated for international infectious diseases to pay for his priority....

Unfortunately, it gets worse.

The U.N. Green Climate Fund is connected to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), an affiliated organization of the United Nations.

The UNFCCC recently accepted the “State of Palestine” as a signatory, which should trigger a U.S. funding prohibition. U.S. law forbids any taxpayer dollars to fund international organizations that recognize “Palestine” as a sovereign state.

So, the administration found a way to offend our ally Israel, delay the Zika response and, if Congress allows him, add another billion dollars to our national debt. That is a busy month.
So this is the situation: the administration doesn't know how much they've spent, but they want more. And they have neglected the authority they had to move money from one fund to combat Zika because they wanted to give that money to the UN to fight climate change even though there is a federal law on giving money to any organization that recognizes Palestine. But, of course, the administration will blame everything on Congressional Republicans. This story encompasses so much of what is so infuriating and dishonest about this administration.

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California liberals are hoping that Sanders' name on the Democratic Party ballot on Tuesday will help more liberal candidates win their primaries. Great. Just what California needs - to move even further to the left.

Gil Troy, a history professor at McGill University writes in Politico to analogize Zachary Taylor to Donald Trump. He stresses how uncouth Taylor was in contrast to Washington politicians and how he seemed to be malleable on the issues of the day. He blames Taylor's approach to slavery when in office and his opposition to secession as the straw that broke the back of the Whig Party.
Unfortunately for the wobbling Whigs, Southerners then felt betrayed when Taylor took a nationalist approach brokering what became the Compromise of 1850. As a result, Holt writes, “Within a year of Taylor’s victory, hopes raised by Whigs’ performance in 1848 would be dashed. Within four years, they would be routed by” the Democrats. “Within eight, the Whig party would totally disappear as a functioning political organization.”
Neither destiny nor sorcery, history offers warning signs to avoid and points of light for inspiration. America’s modern two-party system is remarkably resilient. Republicans have recently enjoyed a surge in gubernatorial, congressional and state legislative wins. Still, Trump and the Republicans might want to study 1848 to see the damage even a winning insurgent can both signal and cause. And many Republicans might want to consider what is worse: the institutional problems mass defections by “Conscience Republicans” could bring about—or the moral ruin that could come from the ones who stay behind, choosing to pursue party power over principles.
This is a very unfair characterization of Taylor. He was an excellent general and served as a role model for Ulysses S. Grant who had served under him. Yes, he was a slaveowner, but he changed his position as president to oppose the admission of new states as slave states. Rather than the Compromise of 1850, he wanted to allow the territories of California and New Mexico gained from the Mexican-American War to decide for themselves if they wanted to enter as free or slave states. Every indication was that they would have both entered as free states. And he threatened Southerners who were talking up secession if they didn't get some pro-slavery benefits from the debated legislation that would eventually become the Compromise of 1850.
In February 1850, Taylor told southern leaders who threatened to secede that, “taken in rebellion against the Union, he would hang … with less reluctance than he had hanged deserters and spies in Mexico.”
His opposition to the Compromise of 1850 was so strong that, when he suddenly died in July of 1850, there were strong suspicions that he had been poisoned by pro-slavery supporters. Those rumors were so strong that, in 1991, his body was exhumed and tested for arsenic poisoning. The results seemed to indicate that, despite traces of arsenic in his remains, he died from natural causes, probably due to gastroenteritis. His death leads to one of those great "what if" debates in American history. His successor, the mediocre Millard Fillmore signed off on the Compromise of 1850 including the invidious new Fugitive Slave Law, one of the most despicable laws ever passed by the U.S. Congress. Would Taylor's veto of the Compromise of 1850 have led to secession? Passions were less heated in 1850 than they were in 1860. We would have faced a civil war with a Southerner with military experience, instead of Abraham Lincoln, in the White House. Who knows how that would have played out. It's a fun subject for debate among historians, but as worthless as such debates always are.

It does seem, however, unfair to blame Taylor for the end of the Whig Party. His successor, Fillmore, who went back on his anti-slavery principles to sign off on the Fugitive Slave Law and then later ran as the candidate of the Know-Nothing Party in 1856 was a much less admirable figure. Winfield Scott, the great general of the Mexican American War, ran an ineffectual campaign in 1852, and the Whig Party eventually split and died over the issue of spreading slavery into the territories controlled by the Missouri Compromise as written into the 1854 Kansas-Nebraska Act. So perhaps the Whig Party was doomed anyway since it was a coalition of pro-slavery forces in the South plus a mix of groups in the North who opposed the spread of slavery. It was not Taylor's fault.

I enjoy all the attempts to find historical analogues to Donald Trump, but the attempt to find that analogue in Zachary Taylor seems a mistake to me. Jarod Paul Young writes at American Thinker to propose a different analogue as he describes the close parallels between Spiro Agnew and Donald Trump.
De facto GOP presidential nominee Donald J. Trump has been combating P.C. fanaticism in a blunt, counterpunching style that's a throwback to Agnew, who unhesitatingly unloaded on provocateurs resorting to disinformation, obstructionism, and even harsher methods to stifle debate and subvert constitutional authority.
Agnew gave voice to the distress of the so-called "silent majority" who were appalled by what they were seeing among college protesters at the time.
Like Trump today, Agnew could hardly utter a word that wasn't micro-processed by critics, fishing for any allusion to a "lack of mental and moral sensitivity" (9).

In speech after speech, Agnew fulminated against radicals and the "permissivist" parents and college administrators who stood by as academic institutions were turned upside-down. Mobs took over buildings, committed assaults, destroyed property, and engaged in other acts of aggression on more than 800 campuses nationwide.

The vice president pulled no punches, calling the would-be revolutionaries "childish, mindless, coercive and oppressive," likening their actions to "animal conduct" (10). The word "garbage" slipped from his lips in one heated exchange with protesters.

Big media commentators and other "nattering nabobs" sought every opportunity to cast Agnew in an unfavorable light as he led the fight against the "New Left revolution."

Editorialist Carl Rowan accused the vice president of pandering "to the prejudices of the most ignorant" in society, coming off as a "dumb joke" (11). A Las Vegas Sun writer compared Agnew's tone to that of Hitler (12). Not wanting to miss an opportunity to grandstand, the veep's political opponents joined in, deriding him as a "peddler of hate." (footnotes and links in the original)
It all sounds very familiar. And it was appealing to many who had felt shut out of political discussion by the political elites of the day. His speeches about the political environment of the time have a much more erudite ring to them than Trump's ramblings thanks to having William Safire and Pat Buchanan as his speechwriters. Thus we have such great alliterative phrases as "nattering nabobs of negativism," "pusillanimous pussyfooters," and "hysterical hypochondriacs of history" enter the political lexicon. Nothing that Trump says has quite that ring to it. Though it's no coincidence that others have found a parallel to Trump in Pat Buchanan's own political efforts since they both have run to reject the establishment candidate (Bushes both) and to appeal to a nationalist, anti-immigrant feeling among many American voters.

This comparison to Agnew seems a lot closer to Trump than the Zachary Taylor analogy. Of course, Agnew was a minor governor and eventually had to resign due to charges that he had accepted bribes as governor of Maryland. Today, Trump would be on the other side of such political bribes. I don't think Agnew would have progressed on his own if he hadn't been picked from relative political obscurity to be Nixon's attack dog vice president. Trump would never run as anyone's second. He wants to be the boss or go home.

I'm afraid that Trump is truly sui generis.

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For those #NeverTrumpers who cling to the hope of a third-party challenger doing well enough to throw the election into the House of Representatives, it's time to drink a little bit from the cup of reality. As Brandon Finnigan explains at The Federalist, a third party just isn't going to miraculously swing the election no matter how unpopular both major-party candidates are.
The grand total haul of all third-party options in the Electoral College, from 1788 through 2012, totals less than 400 electoral votes. Out of 57 elections, that’s an average of fewer than ten. Sure, a third-party choice could conceivably win a few states in this season, but the most successful third-party options, all borne from tumultuous cycles far more unpredictable than this one, started months, if not years, earlier. Nobody is building a campaign from scratch in less than six months.

But let’s say that campaign does materialize. A candidate is selected. Ground game, data, ads, all that jazz. There’s a fundamental flaw in the assumption of those who are willing to put aside more than 200 years of electoral history and recent demographic voting patterns. It reveals this entire thing as silly without having to dig up a thousand charts and figures.
As Finnigan reminds us, the numbers supporting #NeverTrump are really quite small and getting smaller by the day as leading Republicans fall in line to support Trump.

We can't trust polls saying that people are more open to a third party. The trend for such candidates is that they do well when they first announce, but their appeal dwindles the closer we get to election day.
What voter is really going to cast his ballot for someone he knows cannot be president, just to block another person from winning? They have to believe the option they are selecting has a chance, or they will naturally drift back to option A or B. Sure, people who like to think up hypotheticals all day and fantasize about their single vote deciding a race may be persuaded here. But this isn’t how normal people think. People in the end vote for or against a person, not “Screw it all, I’ll vote Z.” If they are that dissatisfied, they aren’t showing up.
And remember that Finnigan is allowing the assumptions that such a candidate this year would have the money to get on the ballot and launch a national campaign. Such a candidate would need to get to 15% in the polls to get into the debates and increase mass appeal. Ross Perot was able to do that, but he also had the media support of Larry King in 1992 and was able to use that free media to launch his candidacy much as Trump has been able to use Sean Hannity and the other media outlets to support his candidacy. I don't see a David French (admirable as he seems to be) or Gary Johnson having that sort of access at this point. They'll get a few interviews, but not the non-stop free media that they need to combat the smothering media presence of Donald Trump.

Tyler O'Neil of PJ Media adds in this warning for those who are cheering on the Libertarian ticket as perhaps being able to break through this year - the Libertarian vote is centered in non-swing states.
We know our votes don't really matter, unless we live in one of a few battleground states. People in Colorado, Virginia, Ohio, Florida, Wisconsin, and a few other states will not allow themselves to vote for a third party, even though they don't really like either option. By contrast, people in Indiana, Alaska, Wyoming, and Illinois know their state will go red or blue, so they can afford to vote on principle.

Gary Johnson did best in those sort of states in 2012: in places like Alaska and Wyoming, which were always going to vote for Mitt Romney, voters could support a different kind of Republican, the "Libertarian." By contrast, Johnson did worse in Ohio, Florida, and Virginia. Illinois was more Libertarian than Virginia, because Libertarian-leaning Republicans knew they would lose their state anyway.
When a state's Electoral College vote is on the line, they're not voting for a third party. Voting Libertarian is fine when you just want to express your disgust with the present candidates, but not if you think it would matter. I often point out to my students that a benefit of third parties is that they provide a safety valve for voters who are fed up with the system. Those angry voters this time around may decide to take a chance with Trump rather than throw their vote away on Gary Johnson.

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Nate Silver steps back to look at how well the pollsters have done in the primaries. Silver reminds us that the polls in 2012 showed a slight bias of two to three percentage points in favor of Romney and other Republican candidates. The polls didn't catch on to the advantage that the Democrats had with their turnout operation. However, in 2014 there was a corresponding pro-Democratic bias that didn't catch what a good year it was going to be for Republicans. So who knows what they're going to show this year. He does note these results from the primaries:
In Republican primaries and caucuses, the polls generally had a pro-Trump and anti-Cruz bias. In races where Trump and Cruz were the top two finishers in some order, the bias was 5.5 percentage points in Trump’s favor. The bias dissipated as the race went along, and there wasn’t as much of a bias when another candidate — John Kasich or Marco Rubio — was Trump’s main competitor in a state. Still, the primary results ought to raise doubts about the theory that a “silent majority” of Trump supporters is being overlooked by the polls. In the primaries, Trump was somewhat overrated by the polls.

In the Democratic race, the polls had a 1.8 percentage point bias toward Clinton (and against Sanders) overall. However, it varied significantly based on the demographic makeup of the state, with Clinton outperforming her polls in diverse states and Sanders beating his in whiter ones. Specifically, in states where at least 25 percent of the population is black or Hispanic,4 the polls had a pro-Sanders, anti-Clinton bias of 5.7 percentage points. But they had an 8.2 percentage point bias toward Clinton, and against Sanders, in states where less than 25 percent of the population is black or Hispanic.
Silver notes that there are problems polling both Clinton and Sanders because each of them have a base of voters who are difficult to poll - minorities for Clinton and young and first-time voters for Sanders. That is why it may be an ominous sign for Clinton that there has been a surge in registrations by first-time voters in California in recent months.
Registrations among Latinos are up 123%, he said. Sign-ups among those 24 and younger are up 87% and those 25 to 30 are up 188%. The latter two categories would suggest a boost for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

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Charles J. Cooper writes at the WSJ about Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe's executive order to give all of Virginia's felons the right to vote. McAuliffe was following in President Obama's wake about extending an executive authority far beyond what was allowed by law when Obama announced that the government would not prosecute any of the parents of DACA children for coming into the country illegally. While he cited prosecutorial discretion to explain why they would not prosecute those parents, this was extending the principle of prosecutorial discretion far beyond it was ever intended. And now McAuliffe is trying to extend the gubernatorial power of pardon far beyond what it was ever intended to be.
The executive order defies the text of the Virginia Constitution. Article II flatly prohibits all felons from voting, but it grants the governor a narrow power to restore voting rights to deserving felons on an individual, case-by-case basis. Nothing in the constitution gives the governor power to restore political rights en masse to virtually all felons, no matter how heinous or numerous their crimes.

Gov. McAuliffe, a Democrat, has acknowledged that for 240 years none of the state’s 71 other governors exercised wholesale clemency power. In 2010 another Democratic governor, Tim Kaine, expressly declined to issue a blanket restoration order like Gov. McAuliffe’s, concluding that such an order would “rewrite” the law rather than follow it. Three years later, a bipartisan committee convened and headed by Virginia’s then-attorney general, Ken Cuccinelli, advised Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell that a blanket order restoring voting rights would be unconstitutional.
Doesn't that sound a lot like Obama's originally saying 22 separate times that, as president, he didn't have the authority do take such an action deferring prosecution? Then suddenly he did have that power. Thus Obama's unconstitutional expansion of executive power is now seeping down to the gubernatorial level.
The more relevant historical reference is not the state’s 1902 constitution, but rather its founding constitution of 1776, which predates the Declaration of Independence. Led by James Madison and George Mason, the framers of Virginia’s original constitution sought to ensure that the lawmaking power rests in the hands of the people themselves. But they also wanted to forever forbid their governor from repeating the king’s abuses of executive authority. Among the abuses they feared were royal edicts eerily similar to Gov. McAuliffe’s executive order—granting blanket clemency to all who violated a particular law.

A related fear today is that Gov. McAuliffe’s unprecedented assertion of the clemency power is only the beginning. As Gov. Kaine recognized in 2010 when he declined to issue a blanket restoration order, such a unilateral expansion of executive power “could set a dangerous precedent that would have negative consequences if applied under different circumstances by future governors.” A governor who disagrees with the Commonwealth’s gun laws could issue a blanket pardon to all persons convicted of illegal possession or sale of firearms and follow it up with similar monthly orders, effectively suspending the gun laws.
Remember this concern if we should see a President Trump inaugurated in January. He could follow in Obama's path and take all sorts of executive actions that would horrify the left, but were set into place by Obama's expansion of presidential powers. And that will also trickle down to the state level.

And McAuliffe has been lying about the history of the law in Virginia disenfranchising felons by saying it was part of the measures put into action during the Jim Crow era to keep blacks from voting. However, the law was actually enacted in 1830 before blacks could vote in the first place.

Maybe lying to voters doesn't matter any more because voters just assume that all politicians are lying. Quinnipiac found this result about whether voters actually believe Trump and Clinton and some of their most prominent campaign promises.
American voters do not believe Republican Donald Trump will build a wall on the Mexican border or expel 11 million illegal immigrants, if he's elected president, and voters don't believe Democrat Hillary Clinton will even try to limit secret money in politics or reign in the power of Wall Street, according to a Quinnipiac University National poll released today.

Only 24 percent of voters believe Trump, if elected, would be able to build a wall and have Mexico pay for it, while 39 percent say he will try and fail and 29 percent say he won't even try, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University Poll finds.

Trump would be able to deport about 11 million illegal immigrants, 19 percent of voters say, while 45 percent say he will try and fail and 29 percent say he won't try.

Trump gets his best score on his promise to ban non-citizen Muslims from entering the U.S., but only 29 percent say he will succeed. Another 42 percent say he will try and fail and 21 percent say he won't try.

Hillary Clinton would not even try to remove secret money from politics, 63 percent of voters say, while 9 percent say she would succeed and 18 percent say she would try and fail.

She also would not try to curb the power of Wall Street, 56 percent of voters say, as 15 percent say she would succeed and 21 percent say she would try and fail.

"No matter which candidate you pick, you can cut the cynicism with a knife," said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll.
Well, if voters aren't going to believe candidates' promises and statements and et will vote for them anyway, why not give the biggest lies out there. After all, it worked for Barack Obama's "lie of the year" that, "if you like your health care plan, you can keep it." Obama also campaigned in 2008 saying that he believed marriage was between a man and a woman and that he didn't support gay marriage. Then he flipped and in 2012 said he did support gay marriage. As Politifact ruled, he earned a "Full Flop." But people didn't care because few people believed what he said in 2008. Hillary Clinton has "evolved" in the same direction as Barack Obama on gay marriage. Politicians have learned that they can say the exact opposite of what they believe while running in an election and then go back on that and voters will shrug because they just didn't believe them the first time. Anyone who truly believes what either Trump or Clinton are saying on the campaign trail is way too gullible for modern politics.

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This is extremely sweet. Sportswriter Joe Posnanski writes about why he decided to spend an inordinate amount of money to take his fourteen-year-old daughter to New York to see Hamilton.
All of Elizabeth’s friends seem to be into Hamilton. One of them will periodically and for no obvious reason break into “You’ll Be Back,” a song where King George tells the colonies they will eventually return to England’s rule (‘’Cuz when push comes to shove/I will kill your friends and family to remind you of my love.”). Another somehow got to see the show back before it became a national phenomenon and this has turned her into something of a superhero.

But of course, Elizabeth is more consumed by the show than most. She has memorized every word of the musical, read every word she can about Alexander Hamilton, and, naturally, she has asked us to start calling her “Eliza” after Hamilton’s wife Eliza Schuyler. She wears one of her three Hamilton T-shirts every single day that she’s allowed, and she regularly says things like “Thomas Jefferson was the worst,” though it has nothing at all to do with what we were talking about, and she will actually tear up a little thinking about poor John Laurens.

This is all hilarious, of course — a 14-year-old girl utterly fanatical about the Founding Fathers — that is until you realize that it isn’t going away.
He's absolutely right about how some teenagers, particularly girls but not always, are so very into Hamilton. Quite a few of my students can sing many of the songs and listen to the music obsessively. None of them have seen the play; they just like the music. Any one of them would have had the same reaction that Posnanski's daughter had. He is also exactly right about how much we parents forget about key moments in our children's lives. How wonderful it is that he now has this shared memory with his daughter that she will surely remember all her life.
One of the enduring curiosities of parenthood is that you have no idea what moments will endure. I can vaguely remember, so many times, doing something with Elizabeth — holding her when she was just a child or taking her to her first something or other or having one of those important heart-to-heart talks — and thinking: “Oh, I’ll never forget this exact moment.”

And I’ve forgotten them. The details are lost. Oh, I’m sure they’re in my mind somewhere, and maybe they will emerge at some point, but right now they are gone. Her first day of school? Her first ballgame? Her first full-throated laugh? The unforgettable time that she … what did she do again? Gone.

Meanwhile, other moments, silly things, pointless things, they stand out, like something red in a fog of white. A bad pun she said once. The time I helped her study for a fairly meaningless quiz. That soccer game when she stood around talking to a friend even as the ball rolled by her time and again.

So, while it’s fresh in my mind now, I cannot imagine forgetting any detail of sitting with Elizabeth while we watched Hamilton. But I will forget. I will forget the details of this difficult but hopeful year. I will forget the size of eyes as she stared at the stage and tried to memorize it. I will forget because the years pile on, and memories cloud as they bump into each other, and I barely remember where I was yesterday.

But she will remember. That’s the thing. She will remember every detail. She will remember it the way I remember what it was like inside Cleveland Municipal Stadium with those stupid steel beams blocking every view of the field and the wind howling off of the Lake and the smell of stale beer and cigarette smoke. She will remember every little thing about that theater, about that stage, about Lin’s voice, about my jacket being around her shoulders, about Burr’s unplanned little laugh when watching King George dance, about that night.
The whole piece is so beautifully written. May every father have such a moment with his children. It's become almost a cliché among my daughters that I say to them as they left for some new experience, "Make a memory." I can only hope that some of those memories include experiences that we've shared together and that some have been half as special as Mr. Posnanski's memory with his daughter of seeing Hamilton. I just wish it would come somewhere near where we live and be within our price range to make that memory!


Suvy Boyina said...

I've never seen Hamilton (the play). I actually read him instead. It is awesome to see someone have a t-shirt that says, "Thomas Jefferson is the worst" though. I may get one of those t-shirts for myself.

I will say that the play has done a lot of good for the Republic IMO because it's gotten people interested in Alexander Hamilton again. Usually, most people talk only about Jefferson. Hell, Karl Marx is more discussed in classes than Alexander Hamilton. THAT IS TRUE NO LONGER!

As a tribute, here's a post I wrote about Hamilton in related to some of his first acts in office as Treasury Secretary.

mark said...

Gotta wonder if Trump is making one last desperate attempt to have the nomination taken away. He doesn't want to admit it was a publicity stunt, so he needs to be "treated unfairly" and be a martyr.

tfhr said...


Following that "logic", Hillary will turn herself in for compromising classified documents with her illegal server scam. I wouldn't count on either.

Roy Lofquist said...

Dear Ms. Newmark,

I read your blog every day. I think it is one of the finer ones to be found, so I hope you don't take this personally. My remarks are directed at a large number of commentators.

I dislike this expression but, you don't get it. Policy, particular 7 or 9 point plans and such, are not only irrelevant but actually annoy the electorate. They're like used car ads or chop-o-matics where it's always "but there's more, we'll include a second one for free!". Ninety nine percent of the viewers tune them out but they can profit with a one percent response rate. Politicians can't.

If you look at the major change elections in the last century, they happen about once a generation, the winners ran aspirational campaigns with little emphasis on policy. FDR, Eisenhower, Reagan, Obama, it was all "hope and change". Obama was a bit of a disappointment so we're doing it again.

Trump is winning not because he's smarter, or talks good, or has better policies but rather because he's the the only one talking to the people about the things that are bothering them. He's going to make America great again. He's going to do something about immigration. It doesn't matter what he's going to do. He's just going to do something. The politicians have been talking about it for years and nothing ever gets done. The people are tired of hearing about it.

I could go on but neither you nor I want that. The times they are a'changin. Read the lyrics. They have a certain resonance.



mark said...

Do you not think Hillary wants to be president?

Try to make sense.

tfhr said...

Oh Aqualung, of course Hillary wants to be president, why else would she allow her husband to humiliate her and then turn around and attack the very women that he used and abused? You sure can pick 'em!

Hillary wants to be president or she wouldn't have constructed this illegal server scam to dodge FOIA requests.

Hillary wants to be president - that's why she has used her last office to peddle influence for cash.

Worst of all, Hillary wants to be president bad enough that she takes money coming from abortion mills. That's making cents as well as dollars for her lust for power.

What doesn't make sense is why you would want to vote for a person with so little character, so little integrity, and so little regard for you!

tfhr said...


On Hillary's guns...

" We'll know if the internal polls show that [her anti-Second Amendment position is ] becoming a problem for Hillary when she dons camouflage and takes a rifle out duck hunting in Ohio." ~Betsy

Hopefully she'll take a shotgun out with her and not a rifle but if we've learned one thing about Hillary, we know that when she wants something dead, she either throws a blue vase at it or calls him a friend and then sends him to Libya to be abandoned and murdered by angry YouTube critics.

Hillary doesn't need the Second Amendment, or The Constitution for that matter, because the laws don't apply to her.

mark said...

Working on a new conspiracy, crumpet?: Hillary sent Ambassador Stevens to Libya to be murdered? First Vince Foster, now Stevens.

Is this new creation one you developed on your own, or part of your job as a "military-intelligence expert"?

Keep me posted.

tfhr said...

Conspiracy? You mean like the "vast right wing conspiracy" that accused Bill of sexually harassing women? Fortunately for him, Hillary was there to help stomp those claims out - and the women that made them!

Hillary claimed that Stevens was a friend of hers - I'd hate to think what she does when an enemy calls for help...well, given what Obama has done for Iran, those Castro boys, and GITMO inmates, maybe being an enemy of the United States is a better deal than being a friend when a progressive or socialist is in office!

I remember that ludicrous "3 AM Phone call" flop of a campaign slogan she tried to sell in 2008. It failed miserably but not as bad as the 3 PM calls that nobody acted on 2012 when Americans were calling for help to a government that had abandoned them in favor of "al Queda is Dead and GM is Alive" bumper sticker sloganeering, but what difference does it make at this point anyway? Still, you have to wonder why his calls for more security in the months and weeks leading to the attack were ignored. She never really answered that but she did want us all to know that he was her friend.

Something tells me she was paying more attention to emails about Libya from another friend - some guy named Sidney. She paid a lot of attention to him in the days running up to the decision to send American planes and missiles - while "leading from behind" and not consulting with Congress.

Now Libya is a failed state and a jumping off point for a massive human trafficking catastrophe - oh, wait - you're into that sort of thing.