Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Cruising the Web

Michael Barone, who knows more about past elections than almost anyone, casts his eye over the possibility of Trump's negative coattails leading to the Republicans losing the Senate or even the House.
In any case, many analysts overestimate the strength of the coattails of landslide winners to sweep ticket mates to victory. That happened in the 1920s and 1930s, but not so much since. Dwight Eisenhower's 1956 landslide didn't install Republican majorities, and Lyndon Johnson's Democratic gains in 1964 owed much to the high job rating of his assassinated predecessor.

Richard Nixon in 1972 and Ronald Reagan in 1984 won landslides but had little in the way of coattails, with about half the districts they carried electing Democratic congressmen. In both years, 44 percent of House districts had split results. John Kerry was one of only three Democrats who lost a George McGovern-carried seat in 1972.

We haven't had a landslide election since 1984, and polling does not point to anything like a 20-point Clinton victory. House Republicans will struggle to deal with Donald Trump's disruptive appeal, but they're likely to keep their majority.
The Senate may still be up for grabs. I hadn't realized that ticket-splitting was declining since 2000.
Ticket-splitting isn't that hard, after all. It has declined in recent years because of the polarization of the electorate and the convergence on issues of each party's presidential and congressional candidates. That started in the 1990s when Bill Clinton's policies cost Democrats congressional seats in anti-gun-control territory but increased his own appeal in upscale Northern suburbs.

It continued in the 2000s as congressional Republicans ran on George W. Bush's record, making small gains in 2002 and 2004 and suffering big losses in 2006 and 2008. It has continued in the Obama years, as the number of moderate congressional blue dog Democrats plunged toward zero.

But Donald Trump is plainly something different and distinct from almost all congressional Republicans, both leadership supporters and tea party rebels. Voters clearly recognize this difference, with non-college whites more favorable to him than Mitt Romney and college graduates less so. Most Senate Republican candidates in close races are incumbents who established their own distinct records long before Trump rode down the Trump Tower escalator and announced his candidacy.

Mark Hemingway has an interesting question:
"Trump Spent $63 Million in July. Where Did All That Money Go?" It didn't go for ads for setting up field offices.

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It seems that our largest social media and tech companies are subtly helping the Hillary Clinton campaign in their desire to defeat Donald Trump.Apple is labeling pro-Trump podcasts as having "explicit" content when they don't do that for other political podcasts or even those discussing Hitler or bin Laden. There are other ways that Apple, whose CEO is a Clinton campaign contributor, shading its news feeds and permissions for pro-Trump games though they allow anti-Trump games. Similar problems have cropped up with Google, Facebook, and Twitter.

CNN used had some interesting editing
of what the sister of the man shot in Milwaukee said in the wake of her brother's death.
In a classic case of media bias by omission, CNN took extra care Monday to leave out a crucial part of their reports on the Milwaukee police shooting. After a black police officer fatally shot Sylville Smith Sunday, after he refused to put down his gun, riots and violence ensued in the city. Smith’s family was eager to talk to the media and his sister Sherelle had a message that should have been covered and condemned by the media. Instead, CNN decided to air her words but curtail them before they became controversial.

In this video posted by user DeeconX on Twitter, Sherelle Smith can be seen here, in front of several reporters, calling for violence to the city. What she says next is shocking. [language warning]
“Burnin down shit ain’t going to help nothin! Y’all burnin’ down shit we need in our community. Take that shit to the suburbs. Burn that shit down! We need our shit! We need our weaves. I don’t wear it. But we need it.”

But you wouldn’t guess Smith had said anything of the kind based on CNN’s reporting. Both on their website and televised on CNN Newsroom Monday, CNN described Sherelle Smith as “calling for peace.” They conveniently left out the rest of her message, calling for protesters to burn down the suburbs.
I get that CNN wouldn't want to broadcast her call for violence. But why air the first part of her statement and leave the impression that she was calling for a peaceful stand-down from the violence.

Meanwhile, as rioters burn their own neighborhoods and local businesses in Milwaukee, more children are victims of gang violence in Chicago.
Zariah and India, both going into the first grade, were shot within three days of each other during a summer that has seen at least 27 children 13 and under become victims of gun violence, according to data collected by the Tribune.

Since the beginning of June, Chicago has averaged about one child shot each week.
And this is in a city with some of the toughest gun laws in the country.

Heather MacDonald points to the shooting victims in Milwaukee that the rioters didn't seem upset about.
The rioters were not so furious about the five blacks who were fatally shot in Milwaukee by other blacks in the 24 hours prior to Sylville Smith’s shooting or about the overwhelmingly black victims of Milwaukee’s 73 percent surge in homicides in 2015, the result of what I have called the Ferguson effect.
And the media, Obama administration, and Hillary Clinton don't seem all that interested either.
The Milwaukee riots were low on the topic totem pole of Sunday morning talk shows and have almost disappeared from sight on cable news channels on Monday. Racial violence is becoming normalized, like Islamic terrorism. More attention was devoted to the Baltimore Justice Department report and to Donald Trump’s war on the press than to the breakout of anarchy in a major American city. The shootings of cops on Sunday—a police officer in Eastman, Georgia, killed following a traffic stop; a police officer north of Atlanta shot on Sunday morning after responding to a call—also got little media notice. (Did race play a role in those shootings? The media is not interested in the question. The suspected killer of Eastman officer Tim Smith, Royheem Delshawn Deeds, is black; Smith was white. Had Smith killed Deeds, the media would have been all over the story. Yet the relationship between victim and killer in the Smith death is far more typical of fatal encounters between blacks and police officers. Police officers are 18.5 times more likely to be killed by a black male than an unarmed black male is to be killed by a police officer.) Fatal shootings of cops this year are up 68 percent through August 15 compared with the same period last year. Chicago cops now operate under a death sentence, with the pact among Chicago gangbangers to take out a cop in retaliation for the Paul O’Neal shooting.

These are the 15 Gitmo prisoners that the Obama administration
just transferred to the UAE.
All 15 were deemed "high" risks to the United States, its interests or allies by Joint Task Force – Guantanamo (JTF-GTMO), which oversees the detention facility.

JTF-GTMO completed its threat assessments before the Obama administration took power, establishing threat categories color coded like a traffic light. The entire detainee population was placed into one of three categories: green (low risk), yellow (medium risk), and red (high risk). JTF-GTMO considered the detainees in the last category—the so-called red-light detainees—to be the highest risk and generally recommended that they be retained in the Defense Department's custody. JTF-GTMO deemed all 15 of the detainees transferred to the UAE to be red-light detainees.

President Obama's own Guantanamo Review Task Force determined that 8 of the 15 should be held in detention according to the law of war because they were "too dangerous to transfer but not feasible for prosecution."

Another one of the detainees was recommended for prosecution, meaning Obama's task force concluded that 9 of the 15 should remain in U.S. custody.
That's Obama's own task force reaching these conclusions. These were al Qaeda operatives.
According to JTF-GTMO's leaked threat assessments, they include: four former bodyguards for Osama bin Laden (see here, here, here and here); a Yemeni who had a "supervisory role" in bin Laden's "security force"; two members of bin Laden's 55th Arab Brigade, which was al Qaeda's primary paramilitary force in pre-9/11 Afghanistan (see here and here); a "sub-commander" at Osama bin Laden's Tora Bora complex; an al Qaeda "instructor" who swore allegiance to bin Laden; a member of an al Qaeda IED cell that planned to conduct attacks on U.S. and Coalition forces in Afghanistan; an al Qaeda "explosives expert" who "directly assisted the planning and implementing of attacks against U.S. and Coalition forces in Afghanistan"; two al Qaeda operatives "who planned to participate in terrorist operations targeting US forces in Karachi, Pakistan (PK), and possibly inside the United States" (see here and here); and two other now former detainees who allegedly took part in attacks against the United States and its allies in Afghanistan.

While the Defense Department portrays the transfer as a "humanitarian" move, the intelligence professionals at JTF-GTMO were more concerned about what these jihadis could do if they returned to the battlefield.
There seems to be no basis for the administration's decision to release these guys to the UAE.
Predicting which detainees will become recidivists can be difficult. But JTF-GTMO assessed that all 15 of the detainees transferred to the UAE were "high" risks. And President Obama's own task force considered most of them "too dangerous" to let walk.

As the WSJ points out,
Hillary has been both for keeping prisoners at Gitmo and then for closing it down.
There’s an opening here for Donald Trump if he continues to press Mrs. Clinton about her policy, and whether she still thinks it’s a good idea to bring Gitmo prisoners to America. He might also ask Mrs. Clinton about the trades the U.S. had to make to persuade other nations to accept these jihadists.

For example, did the Obama Administration really support Montenegro’s admission to NATO in exchange for taking Gitmo detainees, as the Journal reported this week? Or are we to believe that the arrival in Montenegro of a released Yemeni prisoner a month after NATO ministers gave preliminary approval for Montenegro’s admission was a coincidence?

Mr. Obama has put Guantanamo back into the public debate. Let’s have one.

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This is another horrible story. What is the use of having UN forces.
The soldier pointed his AK-47 at the female aid worker and gave her a choice.

"Either you have sex with me, or we make every man here rape you and then we shoot you in the head," she remembers him saying.

She didn't really have a choice. By the end of the evening, she had been raped by 15 South Sudanese soldiers.

On July 11, South Sudanese troops, fresh from winning a battle in the capital, Juba, over opposition forces, went on a nearly four-hour rampage through a residential compound popular with foreigners, in one of the worst targeted attacks on aid workers in South Sudan's three-year civil war. They shot dead a local journalist while forcing the foreigners to watch, raped several foreign women, singled out Americans, beat and robbed people and carried out mock executions, several witnesses told The Associated Press.

For hours throughout the assault, the U.N. peacekeeping force stationed less than a mile away refused to respond to desperate calls for help. Neither did embassies, including the U.S. Embassy.

The Associated Press interviewed by phone eight survivors, both male and female, including three who said they were raped. The other five said they were beaten; one was shot. Most insisted on anonymity for their safety or to protect their organizations still operating in South Sudan.

The accounts highlight, in raw detail, the failure of the U.N. peacekeeping force to uphold its core mandate of protecting civilians, notably those just a few minutes' drive away. The Associated Press previously reported that U.N. peacekeepers in Juba did not stop the rapes of local women by soldiers outside the U.N.'s main camp last month.
And why did the US embassy do nothing? We have heard these stories before about UN forces. Remember Srbenica in when 8,000 Bosnians were killed while UN forces looked on? There is no indication, as David Rohde wrote in the Atlantic last year that UN peacekeeping forces have the ability to live up to their name.
Twenty years after the United Nations peacekeeping missions in Rwanda and Bosnia failed to stop two genocides, the world body is still struggling with how to enforce its most basic mandate: protecting civilians.

With a record 60 million refugees worldwide and a bitter U.S.-Russian divide on the Security Council, protecting civilians is more daunting for the United Nations than it was in the 1990s.

And there are increasing concerns, even among senior U.N. officials, that the lessons of the past are being ignored by a divided Security Council. The United Nations has recently sent peacekeepers on dangerous missions in Mali and Congo—but without the vital resources and political support they need.

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More bad news for Obamacare as Aetna, is pulling out of Obamacare exchanges in 11 of the 15 states where it operates.
On Monday evening, Aetna, one of the nation's largest insurers, announced it is pulling out of the Obamacare insurance exchanges in 11 of the 15 states it currently operates. According to Business Insider, Aetna "determined that the nearly $300 million in pretax loss it was sustaining on an annual basis was not worth the business." Which is an understatement, to put it mildly.

Two other top-five insurers already announced plans to pull out of Obamacare earlier this year. In July, Humana said that next year it "will only offer individual plans in 156 counties in 11 states, down from 1,351 counties across 19 states this year." And the CEO of the nation's largest insurer, United Healthcare, announced in April "we will remain in only a handful of states." United Healthcare had previously said that it lost $475 million last year on its policies in the Obamacare exchanges.
Obama and Hillary figure that the way to fix these problems is to double down on their mistakes and have a public option. Yeah, that's going to work.
Let's be clear about what a public option would be. Major insurers with decades of experience sustaining their business on narrow profit margins are losing hundreds of millions of dollars annually under Obamacare's current rules and mandates. The public option is predicated on the belief that the government could build its own insurer from the ground up, run by bureaucrats, and do it more efficiently and economically than private insurers.

Yet the government's previous foray into health coverage, Medicare, currently has tens of trillions of dollars of unfunded liabilities. Medicare is so poorly managed, it loses $60 billion in fraud a year. And this goes without mentioning the fact that the government couldn't even build Obamacare's websites without them turning into disastrous money pits.
Andrew Ferguson has a lot of fun with the administration's response to the news that insurance premiums are going way up.
Pennsylvanians are looking at a 41 percent increase for 2017. In Kentucky, Humana customers will see rates rise 31 percent next year. Blue Cross in Montana seeks a 62 percent increase. Even in Connecticut, deemed one of the great successes of the Affordable Care Act, consumers will likely see rate increases rise more than 20 percent.
Less than a year ago the administration was predicting increases of just 7.5% this year. Oops. So when the NYT asked the administration for a response, this was the answer.
Aviva Aron-Dine, an economist at the federal Department of Health and Human Services, said predictable factors were behind the upward pressure on rates. For example, the federal government is ending a program that helped pay some of the largest claims incurred by insurers.

In addition, Ms. Aron-Dine said, some insurers may be trying to make up for having initially set premiums too low. In any event, she said, most people buying insurance on the exchanges receive subsidies.
Ferguson's analysis is a beautiful takedown of this response.
It's a wonderful thing to behold, this comment, so full of insouciance and inadvertent truth. Josh Earnest would never be guilty of such virtues.

First, Ms. Aron-Dine waves away the bad news altogether. The whole thing, she announces, was predictable. So calm down.

But what about the fact that the government did not, in fact, predict the outrageous increases? She said calm down.

Second, the reason rates haven't gone through the roof already is that the government has been paying off the insurance companies so they wouldn't raise rates. Now the government isn't going to be doing that anymore. So what the hell did you expect?

Third, these insurance companies messed up. They set their rates too low in the first place. They failed to predict the vast increases in cost that would be caused by Obamacare, which, the administration promised, would lower costs.

Here Ms. Aron-Dine is employing a variation of Otter's famous non-apology from Animal House: "Hey, you f----d up. You trusted us."

But she saves the best for last, in a comment that summarizes the Democratic party's entire approach to public policy: "In any event, she said, most people buying insurance on the exchanges receive subsidies."

In other words, most consumers won't be bothered by the scary increases in costs because they're not paying for them anyway! The question of who truly is paying for them—a federal government that's already broke, financed by taxpayers—is evidently a question that Obamacare economists are not bound to consider.

The final, delicious irony about Ms. Aron-Dine's comment is that it's not even true: about 50 percent of the consumers getting Obamacare insurance receive no premium subsidies. These are the ones who will feel the direct impact of the increases, good and hard.

Silly, oblivious, and partly untrue, all at the same time: Obamacare has found its perfect explainer.

You knew that this would be coming. It will be interesting to see if the Clinton precedent carries over to those not as well connected.
A 29-year-old sailor in the U.S Navy who admitted to snapping six classified pictures of his nuclear submarine is imploring a federal court judge to treat him as leniently as Hillary Clinton.

Kristian Saucier wants to be let off with probation at his sentencing Friday, arguing that the Democratic presidential nominee is not behind bars for mishandling even more classified material.

“It will be unjust and unfair for Mr. Saucier to receive any sentence other than probation for a crime those more powerful than him will likely avoid,” his lawyer, Derrick Hogan, wrote in a recent federal court filing in Bridgeport, Conn.

Saucier took six photos in 2009 inside the nuclear attack submarine, U.S.S. Alexandria, that was in port in Groton, Conn. The photos were of classified and restricted areas that included the nuclear reactor.

There’s no evidence Saucier ever passed the photos to anyone and the sailor said it was “silly” mistake by a then 22-year-old.

Saucier said he snapped the photos “to one day show his family and future children what he did while he was in the Navy,” according to court documents reviewed by The Post.

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