Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Cruising the Web

David Catron is exactly right. Winners don't campaign on media bias.
n reality, the careers of Reagan and Bush shared at least three important characteristics. They were both viciously assaulted by the “news” media on a daily basis. Neither allowed these transparently partisan attacks to distract them from the core messages of their campaigns. And, not coincidentally, they are the only Republicans who have served two full terms as President since Dwight Eisenhower left office.

There’s a lesson here, if Donald Trump is able to absorb it. Media bias in favor of Democrats is a fact of life. This is blindingly obvious to most serious observers of American politics, and it has been repeatedly confirmed by serious studies of journalistic trends. It is also an utter waste of time for a GOP presidential nominee to whine about it. Complaining about the partisan press is like complaining about the weather. It accomplishes nothing. Yet, instead of emulating the successful strategies of Reagan and Bush, Donald Trump has allowed himself to be tricked into squandering increasingly valuable campaign time bellyaching about media bias.

Even more self-defeating than Trump’s time-consuming digressions about the partisan press during his rallies is the opportunity he is missing in social media. Neither Reagan nor Bush possessed anything like the direct access to voters that he enjoys on Facebook and Twitter. He should be using his enormous social media presence to highlight his strengths and Clinton’s weaknesses. Instead, he uses it to preach to the choir. Saturday evening, for example, he fired off this querulous tweet: “I am not just running against Crooked Hillary Clinton, I am running against the very dishonest and totally biased media — but I will win!”

In reality he is almost certainly going to lose if he doesn’t stop mumping about media bias and devote the next 90 days to convincing skeptical voters that he can be trusted with the keys to the White House.

Expect to hear this sort of thing
a whole lot if Clinton is elected.
Sunday on ABC’s “This Week,” network commentator Cokie Roberts said when Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump attacks his opponent Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton as “unhinged,” it is code for “we shouldn’t elect a woman.”

Roberts said, “About unhinged and she doesn’t look presidential, is totally code for we shouldn’t elect a woman. That is exactly what that is.”
Every criticism of Hillary will be taken as a sexist comment just as criticisms of Barack Obama is considered evidence of racism. Roberts is, of course, ignoring all the Democrats who have called Trump crazy.

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Andrew McCarthy writes that we are past the time of doubting whether the payment to Iran was a ransom. The evidence is clear.
It is a waste of time to debate that point further. The Iranians have bragged that the astonishing cash payment was a ransom — and Obama has been telling us for months that we can trust the Iranians. The hostages were released the same day the cash arrived. One of the hostages has reported that the captives were detained an extra several hours at the airport and told they would not be allowed to leave until the arrival of another plane — inferentially, the unmarked cargo plane ferrying the cash. The reason American policy has always prohibited paying ransoms to terrorists and other abductors is that it only encourages them to take more hostages. And, as night follows day, Iran has abducted more Americans since Obama paid the cash. No matter how energetically the president tries to lawyer the ransom issue, if it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck . . .
The more important issue is why the Obama administration paid the Iranians in cash. They were evading US law.
At a press conference Thursday, Obama remarkably explained, “The reason that we had to give them cash is precisely because we are so strict in maintaining sanctions and we do not have a banking relationship with Iran.” Really Mr. President? The whole point of sanctions is to prohibit and punish certain behavior. If you — especially you, Mr. President — do the precise thing that the sanctions prohibit, that is a strange way of being “so strict in maintaining” them.

Now, the sanctions at issue exclude Iran from the U.S. financial system by, among other things, prohibiting Americans and financial institutions from engaging in currency transactions that involve Iran’s government. Contrary to the nuclear sanctions that Obama’s Iran deal (the “Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action” or JCPOA) attempts to undo, the sanctions pertinent here were imposed primarily as a result of Iran’s support for terrorism. That is significant. In pleading with Congress not to disapprove the JCPOA, Obama promised lawmakers that the terrorism sanctions would remain in force....

To this day, Iran remains on our government’s list of state sponsors of terrorism. Clinton’s state-of-emergency declaration has been annually renewed ever since. Let that sink in: Notwithstanding Obama’s often shocking appeasement of Tehran, he has been renewing the state of emergency since 2009 — most recently, just five months ago.
So Obama has violated his own administration's characterization of Iran as a terrorist nation.
It is due to this atrocious record that Congress pressed Obama to maintain and enforce anti-terrorism sanctions, which the administration repeatedly committed to do. This commitment was reaffirmed by Obama’s Treasury Department on January 16, 2016, the “Implementation Day” of the JCPOA. Treasury’s published guidance regarding Iran states that, in general, “the clearing of U.S. dollar- or other currency-denominated transactions through the U.S. financial system or involving a U.S. person remain prohibited[.]” (See here, p.17, sec. C.14.) I’ve added italics to highlight that it is not just U.S. dollar transactions that are prohibited; foreign currency is also barred. Obama’s cash payment, of course, involved both — a fact we’ll be revisiting shortly.

Treasury’s guidance cites to what’s known as the ITSR (Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations), the part of the Code of Federal Regulations that implements anti-terrorism sanctions initiated by President Clinton under federal law....

To summarize, the anti-terrorism sanctions are still in effect, a fact the administration has touted many times. Obama conceded at his press conference both that these sanctions are still in effect and that they applied directly to his $400 million pay-out to our terrorist enemies. But here’s the president’s problem: While he is correct that the sanctions barred him from sending Iran a check or wire transfer, that is not all they forbid — not by a long shot. They also make it illegal to do what he did.

As noted above, the sanctions prohibit transactions with Iran that touch the U.S. financial system, whether they are carried out in dollars or foreign currencies. The claim by administration officials, widely repeated in the press, that Iran had to be paid in euros and francs because dollar-transactions are forbidden is nonsense; Americans are also forbidden to engage in foreign currency transactions with Iran.
He goes on to list more federal laws that the Obama administration broke with the ransom paid to Iran.

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Charter schools are leading the way in New York City. Too bad that Mayor de Blasio won't face reality because he is such a puppet of teachers' unions.
According to new state testing data, citywide student proficiency increased this year on average by 7.6 percentage points in English and 1.2 percentage points in math to 38% and 36.4%, respectively. Some have attributed the city’s gains, which mirror those statewide, to shorter and easier tests.

Yet strikingly, proficiency at charter schools this year jumped 13.7 percentage points in English and 4.5 percentage points in math to 43% and 47%, respectively. In other words, charter students have improved by two to four times as much as the citywide average.

A recent analysis by Families for Excellent Schools found that New York City charters, whose student populations are more than 90% black and Hispanic, raised their local community school district proficiency rates by 13%. More than 70% of charters outperformed local district schools in math and English. Black and Hispanic students who attended charters scored 73% higher than their counterparts at district-run schools.

Nearly 40% of the top 50 scoring schools in New York City this year were charters compared with 12% in 2013, the year Mr. De Blasio won election. The reason: Student progress at charters has exceeded even high-performing traditional schools.
De Blasio keeps trying to harm charter schools instead of placing the results for children to the forefront of his concerns.

When Democrats complain about Congress not allocating money to Zika, perhaps the NIH could target their priorities more carefully.
The National Institutes of Health has spent more on exercise programs for refugees, anti-tobacco video games, weight-loss programs for truckers, and studies on gay hook up apps than it has to fight the Zika virus.

The Department of Health and Human Services is warning that its funding to fight the Zika virus in the United States will be exhausted by September, sending a letter to Congress this week saying “additional funding is needed.” HHS has so far received $374 million for domestic Zika relief, including $47 million specifically for the NIH.

However, the Washington Free Beacon has uncovered $49,577,386 worth of questionable NIH studies since the Zika epidemic began in the beginning of 2015.

The projects include everything from studying how drunk men look at women to teaching 11-year-old Kenyans how to use condoms.
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Holman Jenkins writes that the Obamacare death spiral continues apace. It seems that healthy people aren't signing up; instead, only those in poor health are signing up which means that insurance companies can't fund the patients they're insuring.
ObamaCare was always going to be a questionable deal for taxpayers if the only people who signed up were poorer people whose premiums were largely paid by taxpayers. That was fine as far as insurers were concerned. They can make a profit even if taxpayers are the only ones paying.

For insurers, the problem lies elsewhere: ObamaCare policies have proved so unattractive that even customers eligible for subsidies are turning away unless they also happen to be seriously or chronically ill. That’s because deductibles and copays keep going up with each successive renewal period. For a family of four on a bronze plan, the deductible is now above $11,000. This is the equivalent, in the case of routine illness or injury, of not being insured at all.

And the problem only gets worse as insurers, to stem their losses, keep hiking premiums, copays and deductibles. With each turn of the wheel, ObamaCare becomes an insurance program that appeals only to those who already know they face large health-care costs.

Stephen Moore explains why public works projects on infrastructure aren't going to stimulate the economy.
If our infrastructure is crumbling, it surely isn’t because the federal government is spending too little money. Public works projects were supposed to be the centerpiece of the Obama $830 billion stimulus bill. We were promised “shovel-ready” jobs. Remember that? But job growth has remained abysmal for seven years. So what happened to all that money? No one in Washington wants to ask or answer.

We now know a lot of the money didn’t even get spent on public works, but got intercepted for projects like the now-bankrupt Solyndra solar energy company and more still for food stamps and welfare programs. Some of President Obama’s spending went to build big white elephants like the $70 billion California high speed rail train from and to nowhere, or low-return investments such as the Washington Metro silver line with at least five cost overruns and almost no riders.

Over Mr. Obama’s presidency, Washington has spent nearly $1 trillion on infrastructure. ....[T]his was more money than any other president in history has spent. Amazingly, it cost about $250 billion to build the interstate highway system. Mr. Obama has spent at least three times more than that and we still have what more pot holes in America than jobs.
Moore goes on to explain why this is so.
Davis Bacon rules make sure that nearly every penny goes to inflated union wages. For every three bridges we build, we could fix a fourth one for free just by jettisoning these costly regulatory hurdles. While Mr. Trump wants to deregulate to get more bang for our buck, Hillary is too beholden to special interests to allow that.
We also need to spend our federal infrastructure dollars on projects that make sense. The real transportation scandal is that Congress keeps stealing almost 20 cents of every dollar from gas taxes, paid by motorists, to pay for transit projects that carry less than 5 percent of all commuters — except for a few cities like New York. Congress keeps building mass transit trains even though in a decade or so bus and rail systems will go the way of rotary phones. Driverless-cars and smart road/traffic light technologies will personalize transportation and enable cheap and speedy door to door delivery.

While Democrats say that voter fraud is just a myth that Republicans use to try to deny minorities the vote. However, James O'Keefe demonstrates how easy it would be for someone to commit voter fraud.
Guerilla filmmaker James O’Keefe is famous for having busted institutions ranging from the fraudulent voter-registration group ACORN to NPR. His Project Veritas team has also piled up an impressive array of videos documenting that the Pew survey numbers on voter registration could easily be translated into fraudulent votes with very little chance of detection. In New Hampshire, he found it was easy to vote using the name of a dead person. In North Carolina, political operatives encouraged his undercover associates to vote even if they were non-citizens.

In 2014, political scientists Jesse Richman and David Earnest, writing in the Washington Post, summarized their finding, based on their examination of thousands of voter interviews from the Cooperative Congressional Election Study: “Our best guess, based upon extrapolations from the portion of the sample with a verified vote, is that 6.4 percent of non-citizens voted in 2008, and 2.2 percent of non-citizens voted in 2010.

Last week in Michigan, O’Keefe struck again, testing the state’s voter-ID law, which allows non-ID holders to vote if they merely fill out an affidavit claiming they are who they say they are. Such affidavits are almost never checked. Using this ruse, O’Keefe told different poll workers he was Detroit mayor Mike Duggan, Wayne State University Law School dean Jocelyn Benson, and columnist Nancy Kaffer of the Detroit Free Press — all whom strongly oppose voter-ID laws. In each case, poll workers offered him primary ballots for the person he was claiming to be. He was also offered the ballot of legendary Michigan rapper Eminem, whose real name is Marshall Bruce Mathers III.

In all but one sting, the poll workers offered him a ballot, though he never actually accepted a ballot or cast an illegal vote.

The one exception was O’Keefe’s effort, in Birmingham, Mich., to be offered the ballot of Brian Dickerson of the Detroit Free Press. The veteran poll worker he met there was a personal acquaintance of Henderson’s and became suspicious. Henderson then wrote a column dismissing O’Keefe’s ploy, saying, “What’s dubious is his assertion that the crime would have gone unnoticed or unpunished.”

Oh, really? Even with a voter-ID requirement, O’Keefe’s team received multiple offers of ballots that belonged to real voters. In states without an ID law, his team hasn’t even faced an affadavit requirement.

Nor is his experience unusual. In 2013, New York City’s Department of Investigation detailed how its undercover agents claimed at 63 polling places to be individuals who were dead, who had moved out of town, or who were in jail. In a story titled, “The Dead Can Vote in NYC,” the New York Post reported that in 61 instances, or 97 percent of the time, the undercover agents were allowed to vote. (To avoid skewing results, they voted only for nonexistent write-in candidates.) One of their two failures occurred when a poll worker discovered that the impersonator was trying to vote in the name of her own son.

The Washington Post looked at Clinton's record
in helping upstate New York to fulfill campaign promises she'd made as a Senator. The Post found that her record wasn't all that impressive except for helping her friends and supporters. Perhaps that is because senators shouldn't be the ones we look to to create jobs.
In her presidential bid, Hillary Clinton has made job creation a centerpiece of her platform, casting herself as a pragmatist who would inspire “the biggest investment in new, good-paying jobs since World War II.’’

Her argument that she would put more Americans to work has focused on her time in the Senate, when she took on the mission of creating jobs in chronically depressed Upstate New York. As her husband, former president Bill Clinton, put it recently, she became the region’s “de facto economic development officer.”

But nearly eight years after Clinton’s Senate exit, there is little evidence that her economic development programs had a substantial impact on upstate employment. Despite Clinton’s efforts, upstate job growth stagnated overall during her tenure, with manufacturing jobs plunging nearly 25 percent, according to jobs data.

The former first lady was unable to pass the big-ticket legislation she introduced to benefit the upstate economy. She turned to smaller-scale projects, but some of those fell flat after initial glowing headlines, a Washington Post review shows. Many promised jobs never materialized and others migrated to other states as she turned to her first presidential run, said former officials who worked with her in New York.

Clinton’s self-styled role as economic promoter also showcases an operating style that has come to define the political and money-making machine known to some critics of the former first couple as Clinton Inc. Some of her pet economic projects involved loyal campaign contributors, who also supported the Clinton Foundation, The Post review shows.

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