Friday, July 22, 2016

Cruising the Web

We spent yesterday in Hyde Park. We ended up spending four hours at the FDR Presidential Library and Museum. They had some very well-done exhibits. Their special exhibit was on the 24 hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor based on the regular reports FDR was receiving on what was happening and the diary entries and memoirs of those who were at the White House that day. It was a tremendous exhibit and helped pull back the curtain to the shock, anger, and determination that our leaders felt at that time.

Another element of the exhibit that I thought was really well done was concerning several controversies of FDR's presidency. They presented relevant primary documents and then quoted from historians praising and criticizing FDR. I hadn't expected to see, for example, such critical works of the New Deal as Amity Shlaes' The Forgotten Man or Jim Powell's FDR's Folly
One controversy concerned whether FDR should be blamed for not letting in Jewish refugees in the 1930s once it became clear what the Nazis had planned for Jews. Apparently, FDR wanted to admit more Jewish refugees even though there were strict limits on immigration in those years and there were also fears that Hitler would send in spies and insurgents hidden among the refugees. So he basically gave up since he feared that any effort to expand the quotas to let in more Jews would be terribly unpopular. I was struck by the contrast with President Obama. FDR didn't consider issuing some executive order to thwart existing laws. He also didn't try to use the bully pulpit to change minds. He complained in private letters, but basically gave up. He would pick his battles. So he was willing to push for a peacetime draft in 1940, an election year, but not to push to save Europe's doomed Jews.

Today we're off to Sagamore Hill to see Teddy Roosevelt's home in Oyster Bay.

Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial

Join SEESO Free Trial

Shop Amazon Gift Cards. Any Occasion. No Expiration.

Here's a frightening thought: Trump says, "I am your voice." I don't want to think that Trump voices what I want to say. He sounded more like Pat Buchanan.

And then Trump reminded us that he's been gaming the system all his life so he's the "only one who can fix it." If that argument were a winner, then think of how Hillary could use it.

Trump said that anyone who endorses violence or hatred is not welcome in this country. Well, there goes a lot of his supporters. Remember this is the guy who promised to pay the legal bills of his supporters if they followed his exhortation to "knock the crap our" of protesters.

Put together the way Trump sounded about America and the way Bernie and Hillary talked about the country today and we're living in a very, very dark place.

Ivanka's speech sure sounded like the speech of a registered Democrat. Oh, wait... Isn't there anyone in Trump's circle who understands that the whole women earn 77 cents for every dollar a man earns is a total myth?

So Trump has changed his mind on taxes and is in the midst of abandoning the plan he put forth during the nomination campaign. His plan is closer to Paul Ryan's now. Austin Rose ponders what this means about Trump that he's completely reversed himself on a policy that he proudly put forth a few months ago.
He lied to attract votes. In order to win against candidates of substance, Trump promised the impossible. And then, the day after he officially took power, he reverted to a shoddy substitute of what he campaigned against. Every voter who thought they were getting what Trump promised should be furious. Since the economy is the top concern of Trump voters this season, it’s not exactly a stretch to argue that his tax plan was a major factor in a lot of voting decisions.

He’s a hypocrite.
Trump has pointed out that Cruz didn’t honor his campaign pledge to support the Republican nominee. And yet, just hours before Cruz’s speech, Trump himself broke an arguably bigger promise. Trump’s supporters would be foolish to argue that one action deserves derision while the other does not.

He’s not an economic genius after all. For all of Trump’s supposed business acumen, when left to his own devices he put together a terrible plan. And now, when faced by reality, he is hastily co-opting the policies of better men — exactly as he’s done before. At what point in Trump’s campaign does he show off his famed business skills? He has failed in fundraising, in campaign management, in trade policy, and now in tax policy. This confirms that one of his greatest “strengths” is in fact an unqualified weakness.
Of course, those who like Trump don't like him because of the points in his tax policy. They won't mind that he changed his policy right before he accepts the nomination. But what they are supposed to like about him is that he says what he believes and will do what he has said. Time and again, it seems that he just doesn't care what he said earlier.

This is the definition of stupid.
Cops in Cleveland had to extinguish a Republican convention protester on Wednesday after he inadvertently set himself on fire while trying to burn the American flag.....One cop yelled, “You’re on fire, stupid!” as extinguishers were deployed.
Nothing like demonstrating your stupidity in front of the cameras.

Kindle Deals up to 80% off

Today's Best Deals

Deal of the Day in Books

Theodore Kupfer notices the hypocrisy of the media, particularly the NYT, in their reaction to Trump's interview refusing to say if he would support the Baltic states if Russia invaded them. As Kupfer points out, this is the same NYT that criticized Romney's wanrings in 2012 about Russia.
Donald Trump’s instantly-infamous interview with the New York Times was either evidence that he does not grasp basic principles of foreign policy, has little care for world order, or both. But the justified apoplexy, expressed by pretty much everyone who’s not a paleoconservative or a socialist, is telling of media hypocrisy.

Trump’s demurral to the question, “If Russia came over the border into Estonia or Latvia, Lithuania . . . would you come to their immediate military aid?” met with gasps of horror. But among the horrified were many of the same people who cheered Barack Obama’s dismissal to Mitt Romney’s 2012 comment that Russia is “without question our number one geopolitical foe.”

The New York Times editorial board, in a characteristic display of hackery, wrote at the time that Romney’s remarks “display either a shocking lack of knowledge about international affairs or just craven politics.” They proceeded to issue apologia for the President’s appeasement toward Russia, calling the country “an unsavory player” but insisting that it was not among the “real threats out there.” All of this to defend a candidate that did not take Russia seriously: Obama, you’ll recall, told Romney that the “1980s” want “their foreign policy back.” And Zack Beauchamp, then writing for ThinkProgress, said in 2012: “It’s no secret that neither Romney nor his advisers appear capable of outlining a clear vision of a Romney administration’s foreign policy.”

But the Left now appears to understand the grave threat that Russian bellicosity poses to the Baltic states, to NATO, and to us. The White House press secretary stated: “The cornerstone of [NATO] is the pledge that all of the allies have made to mutual self-defense.” Beauchamp, now writing at Vox, groused: “Donald Trump’s NATO comments are the scariest thing he’s said.” He concluded: “Nice country you got there. Shame if Russia burns it down.”

None of the criticism of Trump’s comments is wrong. But one wonders where the newfound awareness of the Russian threat has come from: The most alarmed are those who just four years ago skewered Romney’s foreign policy, which understood Russia to be a grave geopolitical threat. All we need to complete the trifecta of hypocrisy is the Times editorial board to react indignantly. Let’s see if they apologize to Mitt.

Of course, Trump's approach to foreign policy as revealed in that NYT interview is truly disturbing. Noah Rothman captures the dichotomy between what other Republicans were saying in Cleveland and what Trump believes.
This week, convention speakers like Governors Chris Christie, Mike Pence, and former Speaker Newt Gingrich declared that Hillary Clinton would abandon America’s allies. They added that she is far too lenient with autocrats like Russia’s Vladimir Putin. Donald Trump’s Republican Party is in no position to make that claim. Even as Mike Pence was accepting his party’s nomination to the vice presidency, Donald Trump was actively undermining their ticket. At that moment, the New York Times released the write-up of an interview with GOP nominee in which he made explicit that which he had only previously implied: Under a Trump administration, Vladimir Putin can have his way with Europe.
Instead of asserting that he would protect the Baltic states, he ranted about how other nations aren't paying their bills.
Instead, he went off on NATO member states “that aren’t paying their bills.” When pressed on America’s treaty obligations and whether Trump would abide by them, he said that would depend on whether they have “fulfilled their obligation to us.”

This is dangerous talk. Estonia, in particular, is genuinely and frequently threatened by Russia. It stands between Russia proper and the Moscow-controlled, heavily militarized European enclave of Kaliningrad. In 2007, a Russian cyber-attack brought the country to its knees. In 2014, Russian forces crossed the Estonian border, deployed smoke grenades and communications jamming technology, and kidnapped a border guard who they later put on trial in Moscow as a spy. That a Republican presidential candidate would dare entrain the prospect of letting Russia have its way in the Baltics only emboldens Moscow’s land-hungry president and may lead him to make a deadly miscalculation. Ambiguity about how nations would respond to threats to their interests is how wars begin.

Trump’s grasp of what NATO does, its obligations, what its member states contribute, and what benefits it yields to the United States is extremely tenuous. It should be clear by now that he has no interest in educating himself. The fact that he is married to the notion that NATO is an expense America cannot afford and that it is appropriate to blackmail U.S. allies all over the world into paying for the privilege of Washington’s protection exposes him as a neophyte—or worse....

But taking Trump at his word misses the point. He merely retrofits evolving rationales onto one key preconception, which is and has always been that Vladimir Putin should have a sphere of influence in Europe and Asia in which he can freely operate, even if that comes at America’s expense.

Trump has and continues to defend Russia’s destabilizing and quite nearly catastrophic intervention in Syria—even as Western military assets were already operating over Syrian skies—on the pretense that Russia had an interest in attacking ISIS. But the self-described caliphate was a useful tool for Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, and Moscow generally devoted its attention to striking CIA-backed anti-Assad forces and American-provided weaponry.

Trump has apologized for Putin’s clear involvement in the murder of journalists and opposition figures. “I think our country does plenty of killing,” this supposed champion of American greatness dared to say in the dictator’s defense.

Republicans in Congress have been staunch critics of Barack Obama for not responding more forcefully to Putin’s invasion and rushed annexation of sovereign Ukrainian territory—the first Anschluss of its kind since 1945—and toward the proxy war that continues to rage in Ukraine’s east. Not anymore. Trump’s campaign chairman, Paul Manafort—himself an advisor to Putin-backed dictators in the region—managed to compel Republicans on the party’s platform committee to jettison language committing the party to provide stronger support for Ukraine. After all, as Trump himself said, the Russian-led war in Eastern Europe is “really a problem that affects Europe a lot more than it affects us.”

Get ready for more of this if Hillary is president.
The Democratic National Committee gave inadequate due process when it replaced two male delegates with women “in the name of gender balance,” according to a formal complaint.

Twenty-one Democrats from Vermont filed the complaint with the DNC credentials committee on behalf of the two delegates who lost their spot, saying the delegates were elected by the public just over a month ago.
The DNC doesn't need no stinkin' votes when it has gender balance to accomplish.

Kimberley Strassel detail
s what a missed opportunity this convention was for Trump.
Yet the chance of winning the full allegiance of wary delegates was blown in the first days, when the Trump campaign and Republican National Committee chose to needlessly stomp on legitimate proposals to change the party’s structure with new rules. The campaign lumped these reformers in with the Never Trumpers (despite knowing better), and then rode roughshod over them in committee and on the floor. These are the activists Mr. Trump needs in crucial swing states. Many were left furious at their treatment.

Cleveland was Mr. Trump’s opportunity to highlight his rock-solid running mate, Mike Pence, a man picked in no small part to reassure voters worried about the Trump temperament. Whereas many of the speakers were tasked with rallying the troops in Cleveland, Mr. Pence’s job was to speak to the nation, to introduce a new, more serious, Trump-Pence ticket. He performed beautifully, knocking a masterfully written speech out of the park.

Yet nobody was talking about it the next day. Every headline instead sidetracked to Ted Cruz’s prime-time diss of the nominee. Ultimate responsibility for this act of bad form rests with the Texas senator. Still, Mr. Trump and his team badly miscalculated. Knowing Mr. Cruz’s opportunistic streak, and that he had refused to say whether he would endorse, it was political malpractice to put him into a top time slot on a crucial night.

The convention was Mr. Trump’s opportunity to reinforce one of his biggest selling points: national security. The past six weeks of terror attacks have turned this into a top voting issue, and many Americans want a decisive break from the Obama-Clinton foreign-policy vacuum. Team Trump had dutifully arranged an impressive cast of respected security leaders to make the case for him.

Then in the middle of all this forceful ground-laying, Mr. Trump inexplicably sat for a rambling interview with the New York Times, in which he threatened to abandon NATO guarantees; suggested he would further withdraw the U.S. from world affairs; praised the Turkish president’s authoritarian tendencies; and (in a remarkable Barack Obama impression) said that the U.S. is in no place to “lecture” other countries. Rudy Giuliani, Newt Gingrich and Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn might have saved their breath.

Cleveland was also Mr. Trump’s chance to showcase how many of his former rivals and critics had endorsed him: Scott Walker, Marco Rubio, Ben Carson, Rick Perry, Mike Huckabee, Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell. Instead, Trump adviser Paul Manafort launched the convention by loudly attacking those who had not, berating John Kasich and alienating Ohio Republicans loyal to their governor.
Strassel points out that the incompetence demonstrated at the convention dilutes the message that Hillary Clinton is an incompetent who shouldn't be allowed in the White House.

Awww. Hillary Clinton is considering Tom Vilsack for her running mate. They already have a lot in common.
Tom Vilsack, the former governor of Iowa and President Barack Obama’s current secretary of agriculture, was caught up in a 2004 scandal that resulted in emails being “inadvertently” destroyed. Vilsack partially blamed himself for destroying emails regarding the Iowa Department of Economic Development Foundation. The Des Moines Register had requested the emails.

Vilsack’s response to the controversy, rather ironically, mirrored Clinton’s response to her own email scandal: he basically said he was old and didn’t know how to use email.

“I’m 52 years old, and I don’t know much about technology,” Vilsack said at the time, according to The National Review. “I don’t even know how to send a response to an e-mail, that’s how technologically deficient I am.”
What a great argument to win over the young people's vote.