Friday, July 08, 2016

Cruising the Web

How typical that Trump would have a meeting on Capitol Hill to build ties with Republicans would end up with him berating those who disagree with him. The Washington Post reports,
Trump’s most tense exchange was with Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), who has been vocal in his concerns about the business mogul’s candidacy, especially his rhetoric and policies on immigration that the senator argues alienate many Latino voters and others in Arizona.

When Flake stood up and introduced himself, Trump told him, “You’ve been very critical of me.”

“Yes, I’m the other senator from Arizona — the one who didn’t get captured — and I want to talk to you about statements like that,” Flake responded, according to two Republican officials.

Flake was referencing Trump’s comments last summer about the military service of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who was a prisoner of war during the Vietnam conflict. Trump questioned whether McCain was a war hero because he was captured.

Flake told Trump that he wants to be able to support him — “I’m not part of the Never Trump movement,” the senator said — but that he remains uncomfortable backing his candidacy, the officials said.

Trump said at the meeting that he has yet to attack Flake hard but threatened to begin doing so. Flake stood up to Trump by urging him to stop attacking Mexicans. Trump predicted that Flake would lose his reelection, at which point Flake informed Trump that he was not on the ballot this year, the sources said.
Ah, the preparation of the Trump team.

And then there was the typical dishonest blowhardery.
In his discussion with senators, Trump claimed that he had inside intelligence about Hillary Clinton’s vetting process for Supreme Court vacancies and that he knew the names of two people the presumptive Democratic nominee is considering nominating, two Republican officials said. But Trump would not reveal those names.
Does anyone really believe that Trump has some secret information on Hillary's proposed nominees?

When asked about his statements about women and minorities, all Trump did was brag about how he has great support from Hispanics. Not true.

And then there is his grasp of the Constitution.
Rep. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.) left the meeting worried about Trump’s grasp on the basics of the Constitution. At a lunch with reporters afterward, he recalled that the candidate did not seem to know what he was promising to defend.

“I wasn’t particularly impressed,” said Sanford. “It was the normal stream of consciousness that’s long on hyperbole and short on facts. At one point, somebody asked about Article I powers: What will you do to protect them? I think his response was, ‘I want to protect Article I, Article II, Article XII,’ going down the list. There is no Article XII.”

Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-Va.), who said he was “uncomfortable” with Trump’s language, gave him a pass on the Constitution flub.

“When he made the comment about the Constitution, I love this Article and that Article, I assumed he was talking about the Amendments, because he was off on the numbers,” he said.
Yeah, I'm sure he has a great feeling about the 12th Amendment and the provision that electors vote separately for both the president and vice president and cannot vote for a candidate for both the presidency and vice presidency from the same state as themselves. I guess he loves that he can't nominate his daughter Ivanka to be his running mate as some have suggested.

And this is just funny.
“If you look at the trajectory of his unforced errors, he’s getting better,” said Rep. Bill Flores (R-Tex.). “I mean, he’s not where we want him to be, but he’s getting better.”
Talk about a back-handed compliment. I guess by election week, Trump will only praise Qaddafi once and just spent an hour talking about the Trump University fraud case.

And then there was his begging House Republicans to say "great things" about how much they love Trump.
Donald Trump asked House Republicans Thursday to only “say great things” about him in an effort to project a unified front in the presidential election.

Republican members of Congress repeatedly pressed Trump during their hour-long closed-door meeting to reassure them he would work with them constructively and respect their agenda if elected. Trump promised that he would and also repeatedly urged them to exit the meeting and tell the media outside that everything was perfect inside the Republican Party.

“It would great if you could say we had an unbelievable meeting. ‘Trump loves us. We love Trump.’ It’s going to be so good. Okay?” Trump said, according to a detailed account from a person who attended the meeting. “Honestly, if we could say it is great, we have a unified party, I’ll tell you what, you are going to see a difference immediately. That’s what I’m going to say.”

....“If when we leave we could just go out and say, ‘We love Trump, he’s going to be great.’ I love you, we’re doing great. As a team, we can’t be beaten,” Trump said. “Say great things, because anything you say that’s even a little — well you know, they magnify it. Just say it’s great. You gotta say great things. Any little negativity that you have, they are going to blow it up twentyfold. You’ve got to be positive.”
He's just a guy searching for some love. Remember that if you hear any House GOP members talking about how great the meeting was.

As Matt Lewis writes, Trump has an amazing propensity to step on his own message and get in the way of bad news days for Hillary.
An old maxim of battle (and politics) suggests that you should never interfere with an opponent who's in the process of committing suicide. Apparently, they don't teach this at Wharton, because Donald Trump constantly makes this mistake.
Even if the media wanted to focus on Hillary, Trump gets in the way by praising Saddam Hussein.
But even with Trump as her opponent, in a news vacuum, the media might have been forced to really grapple with Clinton's sins. In an industry that craves content to satisfy the demands of 24/7 news coverage, think pieces might have been written, cable news soliloquies might have been delivered, and the press might have spent some time overcompensating in an effort to prove they are not really so biased.
Trump's claim is that he has changed politics by his mastery of the media, but he has demonstrated since he wrapped up the nomination that he has no self control. And with a media that loves to make a Republican look bad, particularly Donald Trump, his unforced errors will not be ignored.
The media is liberally biased (no, it's not a conspiracy, but it is a shared worldview). And I also know that shiny objects distract us. The Clintons have been around forever, and Hillary Clinton is a dull personality. This serves as a disincentive for anyone looking to gin up ratings or page views or clicks to cover. This may not be fair, but who said it would be?

In comparison, Donald Trump is ratings catnip. As we enter this new phase of the campaign, this is probably a bug, not a feature. Even putting aside political bias, there will always be a natural tendency to focus on Trump's petty or superficial "scandals"— and to minimize the more serious scandals or policy debates that might better inform the public. This is not appropriate or salutary, it just "is."

I didn't write these rules, I just abide by them. Donald Trump would be wise to do the same.

As Charles C. W. Cooke wrote of the whole imbroglio about Trump's tweet with a Star of David in his dig at Hillary Clinton.
Upon reading this, the first thing that popped into my mind was not “anti-Semitism!” It was: “This is yet another piece of evidence that Donald Trump is not running a proper campaign.” Why do I say that? Because, even at this stage, Trump clearly doesn’t have a graphic designer.

Look through Hillary Clinton’s Twitter feed. What do you notice? Professionalism, that’s what. Clinton has her team make her custom memes. You can tell because they have consistent fonts, kerning, colors, etc., and they match her campaign website. Trump’s feed, by unlovely contrast, is a mess. Sometimes, he tweets himself; sometimes, he re-tweets others (and in the way we used to re-tweet in 2009); sometimes, he shares memes. To some of his fans, I am sure that this is “refreshing”; just more evidence that he’s not a “normal politician.” To the rest of us, though, it is an indication of just how amateurish the whole thing is.

It’s also an indication that this will not be the last such contretemps in which the campaign is involved. I do not know if Donald Trump is a racist or an anti-Semite. I don’t know, either, whether he or his staff are trying to send subtle messages to those who are. But I do know that, while he refuses to hire people who know what they’re doing, he’s going to get himself into trouble. If Trump had a graphic designer on his staff, he could have made the point he wanted to make without embroiling himself in a food fight. But he doesn’t have a graphic designer on his staff, and in consequence his team is forced to trawl the Internet for memes and messages that have already been made. And — you can see where I’m going here — what happens when you trawl the Internet for memes and messages that have already been made? By and large you find filth — especially when the most vocal online champions of your candidacy are rank bigots.

We hear great deal about the importance of the “grassroots” in politics, but not enough about the quality of the grass. In Trump’s case, he has chosen — repeatedly — to outsource much of his messaging to truly terrible human beings. Of course they’re going to use the opportunity to spread ugliness.
Somehow, I feel that this is a feature, not a bug. Trump thinks that he won the nomination because of his genius at Twitter so the last thing he would want to do is outsource tweeting to some professional team. He's fine with the frequent brouhaha over some insensitive or stupid tweet. Just imagine what his Twitter feed would look like if he won the presidency.

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Poor Chris Christie. The Trump folks can't resist making him look small.
It is highly unlikely that Gov. Chris Christie will be Donald Trump's running mate, according to two sources who are advising the Trump campaign and who requested to remain anonymous.

Instead, the sources said that former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich is "the likely pick" to be the tycoon's choice for vice president.

The sources, who have been privy to some of the selection process, have insisted on anonymity because they are not authorized to speak for the campaign.

"The people who've been pushing the Christie narrative are Christie people," said one of the sources, who has heard Gingrich is the likely pick. However, "it's Trump — I doubt anyone really fully knows what he's going to do."

As the first among the 2016 field to endorse Trump last February, Christie quickly rose within the Trump inner circle, helping him with debate prep and soon after, being named the head of his transition planning team....

The source added that Christie's stout defense of Trump and unwillingness to criticize him may have backfired, saying, "You want someone who's willing to be a Devil's advocate at times."

Last month, Gingrich had called Trump's use of racial remarks to attack the integrity of a federal judge "inexcusable" and called for the mogul to "move his game up to the level of being a potential leader."

The reason why Christie was asked to fill out the 100 plus pages of disclosure documents?

"They've been vetting him (because) it would be embarrassing not to be vetted," said the source.
Oh, dear. How embarrassing that they're leaking that Trump didn't like that Christie was too much of a suck-up. Christie came to national attention because of his willingness to talk tough and answer back his critics. He did Trump a favor by attacking Rubio in that debate. And this is the gratitude he gets for that? A pity vetting that forced him to fill out 100 pages of background info when Trump had no intention of choosing him. Perhaps if Trump won, Christie could hope for a job in his administration. But otherwise, what job can he get when he leaves the governorship of New Jersey? I guess he can hope to be hired by Fox News. But he's going to go out as a punchline with people using the "Get on the plane" video to endlessly mock him.

As David French has written, Trump corrupts his supporters to bring them down to his level in order to defend him.
More dispiriting than watching Trump act like Trump is watching his loyal supporters sacrifice their integrity in the name of defending the vile, the reprehensible, and the ignorant. So we’re treated to people tweeting and arguing with a straight face that the Star of David on an image that originated with white supremacists is no more ominous than a sheriff’s star or a Frozen coloring book. I’m sorry, if you’re making those arguments, you’ve beclowned yourself.

Similarly, you’re beclowning yourself if you argue that Saddam effectively fought terrorists. He was a state sponsor of terror — funding the suicide bombing campaign in Israel, harboring known terrorist fugitives, and even plotting to assassinate a former U.S. president. People can in good faith argue whether it was right to invade Iraq — and there is certainly a strong case that before the Surge Iraq was a magnet for jihadists — but there is no good-faith defense of Saddam’s record as a terrorist fighter. And the fact that Trump continues to make that argument only serves to illustrate his aggressive disregard for the truth. His defenders are partners in his ignorance and deception.

A Trump/Clinton matchup will feature a hypocrisy Olympics — with Clinton’s defenders reacting with shock at every Trump lie and outrage while simultaneously arguing that her own deceptions don’t disqualify her from the presidency. Remember the days when perjury was a real crime unless a person was lying about sex? Well now it’s terrible to lie to the public unless a person is lying about mishandling classified information. It’s terrible to trade cash for influence unless that cash is going into a family foundation.

The battle for the Oval Office will hinge in part on a contest as to which party can more thoroughly mobilize its base to defend the indefensible.

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Ilya Shapiro writes how President Obama has lost at the Supreme Court more than any other modern president.
Overall, the administration has managed a record of 79-96, a win rate of just above 45 percent. There’s little difference between the first term’s 35-44 (just above 44 percent) and second term’s 44-52 (just below 46 percent). Now, there may be a handful of cases to add to the totals before the next president takes office, but we can essentially audit the 44th president’s judicial books now.

That audit doesn’t look too good when compared to the record of his predecessors. George W. Bush achieved a record of 89-59 (60 percent)—and that’s if you fold in all of 2000-2001, including cases argued when Bill Clinton was president in what was an unusually bad term for the government (roughly 35 percent). Clinton, in turn, had an overall record of 148-87 (63 percent), again including all of 1992-1993. George H.W. Bush went 91-39 (70 percent), while Ronald Reagan weighed in with an astounding record of 260-89 (about 75 percent).

While it looks like this is merely a tale of a downwards trend in recent years, Jimmy Carter still managed a 139-65 record (68 percent). Indeed, the overall government win rate over the last 50 years—I’ve calculated back to the early 1960s—is comfortably over 60 percent.
Sure he's won some very important cases such as on Obamacare and gay marriage. But his own appointees have voted against him.
This term, the federal government argued an incredible 10 cases without gaining a single vote, not even that of one of President Obama’s own nominees, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. That brings his total to 44 unanimous losses. For comparison, George W. Bush suffered 30 unanimous losses, while Bill Clinton withstood 31. In other words, Obama has lost unanimously 50 percent more than his two immediate predecessors.

These cases have been in such disparate areas as criminal procedure, religious liberty, property rights, immigration, securities regulation, tax law, and the separation of powers.
The real reason for these losses is Obama's overreach in his vision of the power of the president and executive branch.
The government’s arguments across this wide variety of cases would essentially allow the executive branch to do whatever it wants without meaningful constitutional restraint....

his is a situation where, as noted Supreme Court advocate Miguel Estrada put it a few years ago when asked to opine on the administration’s poor record: “When you have a crazy client who makes you take crazy positions, you’re gonna lose some cases.”

So the reason this president has done so poorly at the high court is because he sees no limits on federal—especially prosecutorial—power and accords himself the ability to enact his own legislative agenda when Congress refuses to do so. The numbers don’t lie.

Such a good deal we've gotten with our good friends the Iranians.
Just one year after last year’s nuclear deal with Iran, German intelligence officials have published a report which says the rogue nation continues to seek illicit nuclear technology.

The claim originated from an annual report by Germany’s Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, or BfV. The report stated that Iran is engaged in a “clandestine” effort to acquire nuclear technology and equipment from various German companies.

The Clinton standard as enunciated by FBI Director Comey is now getting a test in court.
A Marine Corps officer, who received a potential career-ending fitness report for sending classified messages on a personal email server, will be citing the latest decision on Hillary Clinton's email scandal to fight his punishment, according to a report on Thursday.

Reservist Maj. Jason Brezler self-reported that he had used a Yahoo! email account to send classified messages to warn about a potentially corrupt Afghan police chief in July of 2012.

Seventeen days later, Ainuddin Khudairaham, a servant of the police officer that Brezler warned about, shot and killed three Marines. Another Marine was severely wounded a couple days later.

One of Brezler's attorneys, Michael J. Bowe, believes his client received a "completely opposite finding … involving infinitely less sensitive and limited information," compared to Clinton. He sued the service in 2014 and his case has been before a federal court since then.
Hey, if having no intent to turn secret information over to our enemies is the standard, Brezler should win. Of course, the military has higher standards for reservists in the Corps than Comey had for the Secretary of State.

David French writes about the different treatment that the military expects with regards to respecting national security.
The double standards are painful. I served ten years as an Army lawyer, and one of my responsibilities was advising the command on matters of military justice, including incidents where soldiers mishandled classified information. And if Hillary Clinton was a soldier, she would lose her security clearance, face administrative action, and face the specter of criminal prosecution.... If Hillary were Captain Clinton instead of the presumptive Democratic nominee and wife of a disbarred former president, the following things would occur, more or less simultaneously.

First, the command would immediately suspend her security clearance. As a practical matter, this would mean that she would be unable to do her job. Absent extraordinary circumstances, she would become essentially useless to the command, a glorified manual laborer fit to fill sandbags or clean latrines but little else. Unless the officer is cleared, the loss of a security clearance means the loss of her career.

Next, her commander would probably draft an administrative reprimand. A general officer memorandum of reprimand (known as a GOMOR) is a career-killer if placed in an officer’s permanent file, and it can be drafted independently of parallel criminal proceedings. If a GOMOR goes in the permanent file, even if the officer somehow regains her security clearance, promotion is virtually impossible, and the officer would be wise to simply resign.

Finally, the command would consider criminal charges....

To say that Hillary Clinton is unfit to be commander-in-chief is to give her too much credit. It implies that she might be fit for other positions of responsibility. She’s not fit to be POTUS, and she’s not fit to be a private. It’s time for her to slink back to her foundation, make her speeches, and retire to private life.

Instead, she’s still the odds-on favorite to stride into the Oval Office. Our nation is in the very worst of hands.

Here are 11 takeaways from Comey's testimony before the House yesterday. The FBI is going to look into whether Clinton lied in her testimony before Congress when she asserted that there were no classified emails on her server. I'm sure he'll conclude that it was an honest mistake, not a deliberate lie. Comey blamed her mishandling of classified information in that she just didn't know what she was doing. This was a woman who served on the Armed Services Committee in the Senate and was Secretary of State. And being inept is her excuse for setting up an unsecured server? Come on.

There is this similarity to David Petraeus.
Comey admitted to Chaffetz that Clinton did give unauthorized people access to classified information. That really makes it seem like Clinton and Petraeus received different treatment
Why would the FBI not keep a record either a written or video record of their interview of Secretary Clinton on Saturday? And why didn't Comey attend that interview? That seems remarkable.

Of course, the Democrats on the committee suddenly decided that they just love James Comey and that they don't care about the endangering of national security revealed by Comey's statement.

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about eating pasta!
The Neuromed Institute of Pozzilli found that eating pasta in moderation is associated with a lower body-mass index, waist and hip circumference, and waist-to-hip ratio. The study recommended deriving 10 percent of your daily calories from pasta.

“The calories contributed by pasta are not ‘bad’ calories,” Licia Iacoviello, who heads the Laboratory of Molecular and Nutritional Epidemiology at Neuromed, said in an interview. “Pasta should be considered as ‘good carbs,’ if consumed in moderation.”
How convenient that it was Italian researchers should reach this conclusion.