Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Cruising the Web

So this is what the Republicans get by nominating a guy who is really a big-government Democrat. He proposes a program basically identical to an Obama proposal from the 2015 State of the Union.Noah Rothman has a good examination of all the big-spending programs Trump supports. Of course, Trump has no way to pay for it except for the fantasy of gaining major funds by eliminating fraud. Come on. We've been hearing that for 40 years.
That’s not a plan; it’s an insult. The old canard of “waste, fraud, and abuse” is the last refuge for the politician who has no idea how to pay for his or her policy preferences—at least, not without unpopular tax hikes.

This is not the first time that Trump has appealed to the notion that all things in Heaven and Earth can be paid for if only the IRS were expanded and given the tools necessary to root out corruption. Last week, Trump promised to augment the Pentagon’s budget by repealing the portions of the Budget Control Act of 2011 (aka, “Sequester”) that imposed limits on defense spending. To offset those costs, Trump said he would ask Congress to “eliminate government waste and budget gimmicks” and “improper government payments,” i.e. waste, fraud, and abuse.

Trump has called for “more funding” for the Department of Veterans Affairs to augment job training, research on traumatic stress, brain injury, and suicide prevention, and to hire more service providers at VA hospitals. The Republican nominee promised a massive $500 billion public works program that you dare not call a “stimulus,” which he proudly boasted would spend more than double what Hillary Clinton has pledged to refurbish America’s infrastructure. Where is the money coming from?

There is Trump’s immigration plan, which consists of the ill-defined but surely costly augmentation of America’s immigration and naturalization forces. Some estimates indicate that it would cost approximately $300 billion to round up and deport America’s illegal immigration population—a depopulation of the U.S. that would strip $1 trillion from America’s real GDP virtually overnight.

And, of course, there is the wall. Trump insists that it will cost a mere $8 billion to build that 1,000-mile barrier of ever-increasing height, but structural engineers have estimated that the materials costs alone would exceed $17 billion. That is before environmental impact studies are conducted, property disputes are resolved in the courts, and project labor is contracted to actually do the work.

To pay for all this, Trump has promised precisely nothing. He has pledged not to raise taxes, although he insists the benefits of programs like his childcare cost tax deduction would be unavailable to the nation’s highest income households. He has attacked as cold-hearted the idea that America’s entitlement state must be curtailed and reformed—a massive expenditure that already consumes nearly two-thirds of the nation’s annual outlays. Trump has promised to cut taxes on middle-income Americans and businesses with the expectation that such a move would spur growth. He is, however, coupling this proposal with crippling trade protectionism, a forcibly truncated workforce, and crushing public spending that would stifle any growth he expects to catalyze.

This is all Anti-Conservatism 101. None of this is alien to anyone who followed politics prior to June 2015 when the reality television host descended his gilded escalator in Manhattan to seize control of an American political party. Republicans have conveniently forgotten the laws of fiscal gravity while wrapping their arms around this unreconstructed Democrat. In seeking the presidency, Trump has written more bad checks than any liberal in recent memory. God save Trump’s coterie of flatterers if they ever find themselves having to make good on all these promises.

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Jim Geraghty fights back
against people ridiculing Donald Trump revealing his medical records on Dr. Oz's show by reminding them of all the pop-culture venues that President Obama has appeared on. Who can forget his interview with the youtube star who drinks cereal from a bathtub?
I can’t stand the fact that the Republicans nominated a celebrity reality show star as their presidential nominee. But that stems from the fact that modern culture, driven heavily by the communications efforts of the Obama administration, turned the presidency into a celebrity reality show star position. Trump is pursuing votes under the precedents and rules set by previous candidates — pushing it further, yes, but differences of degree, not in kind.
We're a long way from Nixon appearing on Laugh-In. The progress has not been a noble one.

Eliana Johnson has an interesting article
looking at how Ohio's Rob Portman has gone out to a sizable lead on his opponent as he campaigns for reelection to the Senate against former governor Ted Strickland. If only other Republican candidates had been running such a smart campaign.
When Portman’s campaign manager, Corry Bliss, touched down in Ohio in January 2015, polls had Portman trailing badly, and Bliss realized that Portman was more the challenger than the incumbent. The first-term senator had about 60 percent name ID; Strickland, a former congressman and governor who lost to Kasich in 2010, was known by 90 percent of Ohio residents. In a cycle where Senate campaigns are getting little help from the top of the ticket or from the Republican National Committee, a methodical ground game and a TV-advertising blitz have changed that. Bliss says the campaign will have knocked on 5 million doors in Ohio by Election Day. To put that in perspective, the RNC says it has knocked on 4.4 million doors nationwide thus far, which means that by November, the Portman campaign may have knocked on as many doors in Ohio as the GOP has across the country.

Bliss has also hyper-localized the race, which has inured it to some of the national trends. The campaign has sliced and diced the Ohio electorate into 22 subsets and is targeting them based on the issues most important to them — essentially running about two dozen city-council races rather than one Senate campaign aimed at the state’s 11 million Ohio voters. “There are the 65,000 voters in the Toledo area whose chief concern is stamping out a toxic algae bloom in Lake Erie that has polluted drinking water,” Bliss says. “When we knock on those doors, we talk to them about Rob’s work on Lake Erie. And when they go online, they get ads about Lake Erie. And when they turn on TV, they see ads about Lake Erie.” In southern Ohio, where opioid abuse has skyrocketed, voters hear about Portman’s work on the issue, including the federal legislation he cosponsored, which President Obama signed into law in July.
He's even getting endorsed by some unions.

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Studies are finding that some people are voting more than once using their absentee voter status.
Prosecutors say the 63-year-old Tennessee man voted in the 2012 presidential election, not once ... not twice ... but three times, in three different states.

"It's too easy to vote twice, it comes down to your honor," said Jay DeLancy, executive director of North Carolina volunteer voting watchdog group The Voting Integrity Project, which caught Parker.

DeLancy cited the case as an example of the kind of voter fraud that some have dismissed as overblown. "It's a lot more widespread than what people think, because the general public thinks there is no voter fraud. As proof they look at prosecutions, but we have learned how difficult it is to get prosecutions," he said.

It was DeLancy's group that brought Parker's case to the attention of election officials and law enforcement – and Parker is not alone. His was one of 149 cases of suspected double-voting DeLancy says his group has turned over.

In Parker’s case, he was charged with voter fraud for votes in the Nov. 6, 2012, presidential election. He voted in person at his polling place in Spring Hill, Tenn. Authorities say that was after previously mailing in another vote by absentee ballot in Florida on Oct. 28, and yet another absentee ballot vote in North Carolina the following day. He pleaded guilty to felony voter registration and felony voting fraud in Rutherford County, N.C., last November, and was spared jail time under the law.
I think more of this than we would suspect goes on. I remember when I moved from D.C. where I'd filed absentee ballots from my parents' home in Florida to California for graduate school. I received unsolicited absentee ballots from Florida for several years. I could easily have voted in each state. It was not surprising to me that newspapers found thousandsof people had voted twice and thousands more were registered in both Florida and another state. And it seems to still be going on to some degree in Florida.

Sports leagues pulling their championship events from North Carolina are quite hypocritical.
There are countless other ways we can perceive the dishonesty in these groups’ commitment to fairness and inclusion for all. The NBA often organizes international basketball matches with teams from other countries, some of which—like Turkey—are far less progressive than the United States on LGBT rights. The NCAA, too, has a long history of hosting bowl games in countries like the Bahamas and Japan, which offer no sexual orientation or gender identity protections....

Given their love of inclusion, why haven’t the NBA or the NCAA pulled their operations in these regressive countries?
And what will the NCAA do when biological men want to compete in women's sports and vice versa?
This last policy development is most relevant to these professional sports leagues. The transgender movement has already de-sexed sports at levels both local and international. Why shouldn’t it encompass professional American sports leagues as well? Their exclusion from the golden rule of the trans movement—that identity trumps all—would be completely arbitrary. Indeed, by the NCAA’s own standards, it will have to comply with this inevitable demand.

As Mueller noted in her statement: “I genuinely look forward to the NCAA merging all men’s and women’s teams together as singular, unified, unisex teams. Under the NCAA’s logic, colleges should make cheerleaders and football players share bathrooms, showers, and hotel rooms. This decision is an assault to female athletes across the nation. If you are unwilling to have women’s bathrooms and locker rooms, how do you have a women’s team?”

Acquiescing to and ardently endorsing open locker room policies—as the NCAA has done—signals acceptance of the idea that biology doesn’t matter, that “trans women are women” and “trans men are men.” If this is true in the case of bathrooms, then it must be true in the case of all civil institutions. What leg would the NCAA have to stand on if faced with the prospect of de-sexing their professional teams? How could it reject that demand, yet remain “committed to values of fairness and inclusion?”

Once this happens, how do you think the millions of female athletes will feel? Competing with biological men for a spot on the field would be hard enough—but what about athletic scholarships designed specifically for women? Will anyone self-identifying as “female” be eligible for those as well? If so, underprivileged female athletes who rely on such aid programs will have yet another obstacle to overcome.

If the trans movement continues on its path to professional leagues, it will mean the end of female sports. Women will have no defense against the next biological male who wants to hop in their boxing rings or race them on the track. As a friend and colleague of mine once put it, “when gender identity wins, women and girls always lose.” Let’s hope the NCAA wises up to this fact sooner rather than later.

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Thomas Donnelly writes that Secretary of State John Kerry is basically carrying out Trump's ideas of working with Putin to solve Syrian problems with a soon-to-be broken cease-fire.
Not surprisingly, the bargain struck by Kerry and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov transforms the Syria story from one about who's winning (that is, Assad, Russia, and Iran) or the horrific killing (total deaths now around half a million) into a "will-the-deal-hold" diplomatic drama. If past is prologue, the pause will work to the advantage of the regime and its sponsors—who have proven themselves more willing to resupply and escalate—than the opposition, who place ever less trust in the United States and thus must rely on help from Gulf Arab governments and global jihadi organizations.

In sum, Trump can only promise to withdraw from the Middle East and placate Putin, while the Obama administration puts the Trump Doctrine into action. Alas, there is little that is "extraordinary"—as the New York Times charged—in Trump's "embrace" of Putin's leadership. When it comes to Russia's return to the spotlight in the Middle East and Europe, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have been his principal enablers.

The Competitive Enterprise Institute notes that the Obama administration doesn't want to use the "reasonableness" and "common sense" standard in sexual harassment investigations. So much for protecting the rights of the accused.
The Supreme Court has repeatedly said that not all sexual flirtation or interaction constitutes sexual harassment, and that whether conduct is bad enough to amount to harassment “should be judged from the perspective of a reasonable person in the plaintiff’s position, considering ‘all the circumstances.’” Thus, reasonableness is part of the legal standard.

But the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR), which has taken a radical leftward turn during the Obama administration, has now attacked that reasonableness standard.
Who cares what the the actual law says? The Education Department now is saying that this standard shouldn't be used by universities investigating accusations of sexual harassment and, if they use that legal standard, they're violating Title IX.
This letter has been criticized by education reporters for ignoring the law and attacking common sense. Reason magazine’s Robby Soave writes that “In holding ‘common sense,’ ‘reason,’ and ‘reasonable persons’ in contempt, OCR is effectively saying that colleges should base their decisions on the perspective of an unreasonable person.”
Expect more such policies in a Clinton administration.

Apparently, now we need quotas to make sure enough minorities are growing medical marijuana.
Black Maryland state lawmakers are planning to propose emergency legislation to address the dearth of minority-owned businesses approved to grow medical marijuana in the state and may demand scrapping the results of a nine-month application process and starting over....

Black lawmakers had pushed for language in the 2014 medical marijuana legalization law requiring regulators to “actively seek to achieve” racial and ethnic diversity in the growing industry.

But in a state that is nearly a third black, none of the 15 companies granted preliminary cultivation licenses in August is led by an African American.

“This is a good modern-day civil rights fight,” Glenn said. “We are not going to delay anything, but are going to make sure it’s fair.”

The Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission says it did not give any extra weight to applicants with minority ownership, citing a letter from the attorney general’s office suggesting that such a move would be illegal without a study showing discrimination in the industry.

But the attorney general’s office has since said that the commission could have ordered a study of disparities in industries similar to medical marijuana, such as pharmaceutical manufacturing, to justify racial preferences.
Oh, geez. Is there some evidence of past discrimination against black marijuana growers that would justify such quotas?

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Will Leitch points to the silliness of NFL rules. They're death on celebratory dancing after a catch, because dancing is, apparently, really, really bad for the game.
NFL officials, who immediately flagged Jones for unsportsmanlike conduct, a 15-yard penalty that negated a large chunk of the reason for Jones' excitement in the first place. The reason the officials gave for the penalty is a classic bit of NFL linguistic doublespeak. The call was: choreographed demonstration.

This particular nomenclature inspires a bit of existential bewilderment and sends one down a philosophical rabbit hole. Isn't all of football a choreographed demonstration? If not, what are they mapping out all those plays for? For that matter, isn't all of life a choreographed demonstration? Is there a moment in which the true self is being expressed for another human being to see in its purest form, or is in fact our outward projections simply avatars meant to put a relatable face on the unknowable chasm that is a human soul? Can I ever truly see you, a person outside of myself, or am I just seeing the human-type fiction you are creating to show me? Can we ever even truly know ourselves? Or are we all just a choreographed demonstration?

For what it's worth, this is, in fact, an actual direct quotation from the NFL rulebook. SB Nation's Rodger Sherman looked it up, and an unsportsmanlike conduct flag is to be thrown when, "Two or more players engaging in prolonged, excessive, premeditated, or choreographed celebrations or demonstrations." What tripped up Jones was not his Charleston. It was the fact that teammate D.J. Swearinger, for about half a second, joined him in that Charleston. It's only a fleeting moment, and seems to happen only because Swearinger happens to be jogging past Jones on the way to the sideline and can't help but join in. I get it. It's the Charleston. It's a difficult dance to resist.

But the fact that, for a half a second, two men were dancing was enough for the officials to throw the flag. It didn't end up mattering: The Cardinals scored a touchdown on the drive anyway. But it certainly could have mattered. A game in which more than 100 grown men put their entire livelihoods, and their brains, and their futures, on the line for our amusement for three hours could be decided by a half second of a half step.

It remains baffling as to why.
But helmet-on-helmet tackles of Cam Newton? Meh.