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Monday, September 26, 2016

Cruising the Web

It's funny how many "advice" columns I've seen in the past week telling Donald Trump what he needs to do in tonight's debate. Basically, they all say the same thing. He doesn't need to wow people with his mastery of policy details. All he needs to do is not be a clown. Come across as serious and presidential. The theory is that the Democrats have done so much advertising and talking about him as a malignant boor so that if he just seems serious people will discard everything they've seen of him from the past on Howard Stern or even in the past year's campaign and view him as a plausible alternative to Hillary. Rich Lowry's advice is typical.
Trump has a built-in advantage in that there is a lower standard for him — not because the media isn't tough enough on him, as all the media mavens agree, but because he is the de facto challenger and candidate of change in a change election. Trump can win by clearing a bar of acceptability, whereas Clinton has to either clearly wound Trump or make a compellingly positive case for herself that has so far eluded her in both 2008 and 2016.

To be sure, Trump will be on treacherous terrain. He can't bully and mock Clinton. Without a teleprompter, message discipline still tends to elude him. The one-on-one format for an hour and a half could make his thin knowledge painfully obvious. And any misstep or outburst that reinforces the idea that he lacks the qualities to be commander in chief would be devastating.

But Trump just needs to seem plausible, and the very fact that he is on a presidential-debate stage, the most rarified forum in American politics, will benefit him. During the Republican debates, the intangibles worked in his favor, and they presumably will on Monday, too. Trump is a big personality with a dominant physical presence. His critics often sneeringly say he is a reality-TV star, but you don't become one without charisma and a performative ability that are major political assets.

Trump will have to stumble badly — and probably sabotage himself — to live down to Hillary's critique of him. She has made her campaign almost entirely about how he is a monstrous madman. Trump doesn't need to mount a convincing, detailed defense of his tax or child-care plan or anything else to invalidate Clinton's critique of him; he just needs to seem a reasonable person.

That is why Trump shouldn't be the aggressor. As long as he's firm and calm, he is implicitly rebutting the case against him on temperament. Then he can look for a big moment or two that will be memorable and drive the post-debate conversation.
Gee, being a serious, firm, and calm guy doesn't seem like too much of a demand for someone running for president. He doesn't even have to come up with a manufactured joke that will win the battle of the sound-bites. Leave that to Hillary because we know what a natural jokester she is. She probably has a dozen comedians writing lines for her. The sad thing for Trump is that no one has any confidence that he can spend an hour and a half being serious and calm on a stage without a teleprompter. His worst and stupidest remarks have come when he's on his own and just says whatever is on the tip of his tongue. I'm sure his campaign advisers have all impressed on him over and over to tone it down. But they'll be on edge all 90 minutes in the fears that he'll just wing it with some snarky remark that either betrays his ignorance or vulgarity.

It must really gripe at Clinton that she will have studied so hard and know her own policy proposals so well plus will have memorized binders full of Trump's own contradictory and obnoxious statements. She can work all those into her answers yet all Trump has to do is come back at her with her own less than honorable past and then pivot back to what he wants to say. Kimberley Strassel has good advice there for what Trump should and shouldn't do.
Mrs. Clinton will also attempt to needle Mr. Trump into an explosion. She must know (who doesn’t?) that nothing drives him to extremes more than personal attacks—on his wealth, Trump steaks, his lawsuits. Mrs. Clinton will attempt to turn the corruption question around on Mr. Trump, to call him out as a con man, but more to deflect attention from her own pay-to-play and email scandals. Once again she will paint him as the biggest rotten apple in that basket of deplorables.

Word is that Mr. Trump isn’t doing a whole lot of debate prep. But his team ought to have at least readied him for what should be the easy response to all the nasty attacks. Mrs. Clinton’s own past is so malodorous, so rife with crooked deals and lies, that Mr. Trump shouldn’t have to do much more than calmly question her credibility and then move on to better subjects.

Mr. Trump’s impulse no doubt will be to take it to her, to hit back, to dwell on Mrs. Clinton’s malfeasance. No doubt a few tough reminders to the audience of her ethical failings are necessary. But everyone already knows Mr. Trump is a scrapper. What he needs to show now is that he has his own optimistic and considered plans for change in America. This is one of his openings. In that same New York Times/CBS poll, 48% of voters felt Mr. Trump could bring about “real change.” Only 36% said that of Mrs. Clinton.

By being positive, Mr. Trump would draw a stark contrast. Mrs. Clinton these days looks perpetually angry and seems to have only one volume setting: yell. The press keeps noting that she is a seasoned debater, but then again she has mostly debated fellow Democrats and been questioned by sympathetic press. Her style is fairly predictable.
He can also point out that all her criticisms of the present-day situation and her proposals for change are a not-so-subtle criticism of Obama's presidency of having failed people. She has to be both an advocate of change and the candidate of maintaining the status quo. That's a hard position for anyone, much less for someone with a reputation of dishonesty and cynical flip-flopping.

So Trump has a relatively easy task for him. Don't match the image of him that so many Americans have of a vulgar buffoon. Stick to his message and don't get taunted into an outburst. Be more optimistic-sounding than his convention acceptance speech. Considering what the job of president entails, Trump doesn't have to do all that much to come across as the winner of the debate. It's rather silly that this 90 minutes could have such a determining effect on this race, but that's what happens when we have two such unpopular candidates running against each other.

It's the doubt that everyone has that he can maintain that persona for 90 minutes that will have such a large audience tuned in. Everyone will be wondering if he will blow it. This is what he signed up for when he came down that escalator. Let's see if he can rise above his own personality for the occasion.

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If you're depressed about the situation for police in the U.S., consider Sweden. Crime is getting worsethere and the so-called "no go" zones are increasing.
In February reported the Scandinavian country has seen a huge surge in crime since the start of the migrants crisis in Europe with a rise in sex assaults, drug dealing and children carrying weapons.

The force’s increased lack of control in the country was revealed in a report by Sweden's National Criminal Investigation Service, where attacks on officers were detailed, including police cars being stoned by masked groups.

At the time around 50 areas were put on a "blacklist" which are then divided into three categories from "risk areas" to "seriously vulnerable".

The figure has now been increased to 55 as the Swedish police force are facing a crisis, with three officers handing in their notice every day.

It is estimated that 80 per cent of the police officers are also considering changing professions, due to lack of funding and support to tackle the increasing levels of crime.
At some point, societies will realize that they can't keep making the jobs of police officers so very difficult and unpleasant that people will leave the profession and few will be ready to take their places. And then it will be too late.

Sean Davis has fun pointing out how Trevor Noah of the Comedy Central's The Daily Show got caught up in his own snark and ended up making the argument against gun control. Noah was making fun of a Minnesota store-owner who had put up a sign outside of his restaurant that said "Muslims Get Out." Here was Noah's ridicule of the storeowner.
You know what’s also strange is this man genuinely thought people who go around blowing people up would be stopped by a sign? You realize you’re talking to terrorists, not vampires. They don’t need to be invited in, alright? Or maybe he’s onto something, because if you think about it, we’ve never tried that. We’ve never actually tried to repel terrorists with signs. Yeah, maybe that’s all the airports need is a sign that says “No Terrorists,” yes? Yeah, and then guys are going to be walking going, “Oh, I was going to blow up the airport, but the rules are rules and they said I can’t come in. They said I can’t. They said I can’t come in.”
Imagine that. People with evil intentions aren't going to be stopped by any laws or signs.
Noah probably doesn’t know it, but he just accidentally made an airtight case against gun-free zones in particular and gun control in general. He is 100 percent correct: people hell-bent on murdering as many people as possible don’t really care about silly signs or laws that tell them not to murder people. A sign that says “No Guns” will no more keep a violent jihadi from gunning down a bunch of innocent people than will a sign that says “Muslims Get Out.” And how do we know that gun-free zones, nearly always marked with signs designating them as such, don’t deter murderous psychopaths? Because mass shootings, rather than happening at gun ranges or in gun stores, keep happening in gun-free zones.

Contrary to Trevor Noah’s snarky assertion that “we’ve never tried to repel terrorists with signs,” our country has fecklessly tried for years to “repel terrorists with signs.”

The Sandy Hook massacre? Gun-free zone. Columbine? Gun-free zone. The Aurora movie theater shooting? Gun-free zone. The shooting last year at an Oregon community college? Gun-free zone. The shooting at a movie theater in Lafayette? Gun-free zone. The attack on a military recruiting center in Chattanooga? Gun-free zone. The Ft. Hood shooting? You guessed it: gun-free zone. The San Bernardino attack? Gun-free zone. And the massacre perpetrated by an ISIS enthusiast at an Orlando night club? Gun-free zone.

While Noah clearly doesn’t grasp the logical implications of his argument, his particular insight — that evil people who want to do evil things will find ways to carry out their schemes regardless of what signs you post or laws you pass — forms the foundation of the entire argument against gun control.

Bad people who want to murder you don’t care about your stupid signs and stupid laws.

New York City, for example, is a pressure cooker bomb-free zone. That mall in Minnesota was most definitely a weaponized knife-free zone. And yet… Terrorists don’t care that terrorism is illegal. They care about killing you. And they’ll kill you with whatever they can, whether it’s a gun, a knife, a pressure cooker, or a box cutter.

“Yeah, but this just proves we need to have stricter gun laws to prevent terrorists from getting guns in the first place,” Trevor Noah might respond. “Gun control is about more than just signs telling people not to do stuff.”

Except it’s not. The entire premise of gun control is that words on a piece of paper somewhere will prevent a terrorist from killing people. What is a law if not a sign that says what you’re allowed and not allowed to do?
I guess such logic is beyond Trevor Noah.

Trump's campaign has been very good for...Trump businesses.
Donald Trump’s presidential campaign has paid his family's businesses more than $8.2 million, according to a POLITICO analysis of campaign finance filings, which reveals an integrated business and political operation without precedent in national politics.

The GOP presidential nominee’s campaign has paid his various businesses for services including rent for his campaign offices ($1.3 million), food and facilities for events and meetings ($544,000) and payroll for Trump corporate staffers ($333,000) who helped with everything from his traveling security to his wife’s convention speech.

In all, the Trump campaign’s payments to Trump-owned businesses account for about 7 percent of its $119 million spending total, the analysis found.

That’s an unprecedented amount of self-dealing in federal politics. Even the wealthiest of candidates have refrained from tapping their businesses’ resources to such an extensive degree, either because their businesses are structured in a manner that doesn’t legally allow them to do it with flexibility, or because they’re leery of the allegations of pocket-padding that inevitably arise when politicians use their campaigns or committees to pay their businesses or families.

Trump, on the other hand, appears to have structured his businesses in a way that lets the campaign use them without legal restriction. And he certainly doesn’t appear to feel any embarrassment about flouting political norms that typically compel candidates to distance themselves from their businesses during campaigns.

Josh Blackman writes in the Washington Post about how the executive actions of Obama's administration have sabotaged Obamacare.
However, many of Obamacare’s deepest wounds have been self-inflicted. Out of desperation to ensure as many people as possible signed up for health insurance, the Obama administration has arbitrarily suspended onerous mandates, modified coverage requirements and extended enrollment periods. These illegal, ad hoc changes to the ACA — which I’ve referred to as “government by blog post” — have unintentionally, but foreseeably, weakened the exchanges during the pivotal first three years.
According to parameters Obamacare fans should support, the program has been very disappointing. Far fewer people than predicted have enrolled.
In March 2016, the CBO drastically downgraded its forecast by half to 10 million enrollees. As of July 2016, there have been 12.7 million confirmed enrollees on the exchange — beating the revised 10 million figure, but falling significantly short of the expected 20 million. The ACA’s expansion of coverage to 20 million Americans is still far short of even its most conservative estimate of more than 30 million Americans gaining coverage.
Estimates of people paying the penalty for not buying insurance are also far below predictions. If people don't have health insurance, there should be more people paying the penalty. The reason why is the executive actions taken by the Obama administration. Read the rest to get a sense of how the Obama administration has been Obamacare's own worst enemy.

One young man explains why millennials are not signing up for Obamacare. The program needs young, healthy people to sign up to finance the increased costs of covering the sick and elderly covered by the program. President Obama is holding a Millennial Outreach and Engagement Summit tomorrow to encourage young people to sign up for Obamacare. They have all sorts of plans to reach out to young Americans to get them to sign up including using confidential taxpayer information.
Either way, the White House is doomed to fail. Young Americans are avoiding ObamaCare because it isn’t a good deal for us.

Last week I visited to scout out the most-affordable health-insurance plans I could buy for next year. In Arlington, Va., where I live and work, the cheapest option is $200 a month with a $6,850 deductible. Across the Potomac in D.C., the premiums are slightly cheaper but the deductible is still sky-high.

My experience isn’t unique. ObamaCare is plainly unaffordable for many young Americans. We’re at the start of our careers—and the bottom of the income ladder—so paying so much for something we likely won’t use makes little sense. The IRS penalty of $695 or 2.5% of our income is often cheap by comparison. We may be young, but we can do the math.

Nothing the White House says at the summit on Tuesday can change this reality. Young Americans aren’t looking for “outreach” and “engagement” from President Obama. We’re looking for affordable health-insurance plans—and ObamaCare doesn’t offer them.
Remember when Obama derided the Republicans criticizing his tax increases by saying "This is not class warfare -- it's math." Well, perhaps someone can do the math for him to explain why young people are not going to sign up for Obamacare.

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Ben Domenech explains why Ted Cruz reversed himself and endorsed Donald Trump.
What’s really going on here, of course, is that Cruz made a decision to short Donald Trump’s chances in Cleveland. Cruz made a stand on conservative ideology, but couldn’t bring himself to endorse a man who had called his wife ugly and implied that his dad shot JFK. In the time since then, the Trump campaign had – despite Trump’s public comments – put a great deal of pressure on Cruz to endorse and get behind him (I assume one of their chief arguments being that he is the only candidate who can defend the country against the continued threat of skilled assassin Rafael Cruz, who still roams the earth unrestricted).

But the fact is Donald Trump is fundamentally no different than he was in Cleveland as an actual candidate. Sure, he’s modified a few policies and moderated his tone – but all the misgivings Cruz had about Trump as a potential president and Commander in Chief are still in place. What has changed? Two things: Hillary Clinton’s strength as a candidate has degraded significantly, and Cruz’s political standing was damaged far more among his Texas base and among the donor community than he anticipated by the “vote your conscience” stand.
Cruz has really encountered some push-back from those whom he relies on for support.
The real degradation since then, though, came due to those who had been some of Cruz’s most prominent backers. The Mercer family and Peter Thiel played critical roles in elevating Cruz from a virtual unknown in the state of Texas to knocking off a popular Lieutenant Governor in an extremely competitive primary. Now they are prominent backers of Donald Trump, and the threat of a well-backed primary campaign for Cruz in 2018 was increasingly real, with Rep. Michael McCaul and former Gov. and DWTS star Rick Perry showing themselves to be very competitive against him. Cruz’s former media backers had turned on the populist, and the potential for a well-backed challenger against Cruz in Texas was real. Had Trump lost narrowly to Hillary Clinton, as seems the likeliest outcome today, the timing of Cruz’s race would’ve made him public enemy number one among the Trump crew.
Cruz has taken a path that annoys everyone. Those who like Trump won't forget his convention speech and delay in endorsing him. He's made his resistance a bigger story by taking the path he's taken. And he's disappointed those who dislike Trump and saw Cruz as one of the principled #NeverTrumpers remaining. However, Cruz has always been less than principled. He pretended that there was some possibility of getting Obama to reverse himself on Obamacare by grabbing the publicity of the filibuster. That accomplished nothing except for garnering headlines for Cruz. And once he started running last year, he tried to cozy up to Trump supporters in the hopes of garnering their votes if Trump collapsed. He waited a long time before he started taking on Trump. He was all about helping himself back then and he is now. And after three such obvious moves of self-aggrandizement, his story wears thin.

The WSJ writes about "Ted Cruz's Convictions,"
Mr. Cruz’s machinations won’t matter much in November but they are worth keeping in mind after the election. If Mr. Trump loses, the GOP will have to rebuild from the rubble of a third straight presidential defeat. Mr. Cruz is already planning his 2020 campaign and he will try to cast himself as the only true conservative. The Texan’s shape-shifting regarding Mr. Trump reveals his true political character.

Mr. Cruz’s calculations are also relevant for governing in the next Congress. If Mr. Trump loses and Republicans hold the House, they will need to stay united to eke out policy victories in a Hillary Clinton Presidency. Mr. Cruz will make that unity difficult by using his talk-radio and Heritage Foundation echo chambers to claim that any compromise with a President Clinton is an ideological sellout, even if it modestly advances conservative goals.

Republicans of good conscience can differ on the Trump candidacy given his sometimes incendiary comments and his changeable policy views. The way Mr. Cruz has handled the choice is a clinic in political cynicism.

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Ah, this is what matters to those negotiating the debate - how to fool the public into not noticing the height difference between the candidates. Hillary is quite a bit shorter than Trump so she'll have a shorter platform.
It’s not the first time short presidential candidates got a boost for a high-stakes TV audience.

In 1988, Michael Dukakis stood on a sloping platform that was hidden behind his lectern to be better matched with the taller George H.W. Bush.

Jimmy Carter argued the “belt buckle rule” to debate negotiators in his 1976 match-up with Gerald Ford, who was 3 ¹/₂ inches taller. Ford’s lectern reached 2 ¹/₂ inches above his belt, under the agreement, and Carter’s 1 ¹/₂ inches.

“The differences were derived by measuring the inches between the floor and the taller candidate’s belt buckle and then splitting the difference,” according the book, “Presidential Debates: The challenge of creating an informed electorate.”
The funny thing is that the two candidates come together to shake hands so it's not as if anyone was fooled into not noticing the height differences. And the whole idea that the taller candidate wins was broken when George W. Bush won against Kerry and Obama won against Romney. But what would campaign negotiators have to do if they weren't measuring belt buckles?

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Clarice Feldman wonders why the people in the streets of Charlotte were called protesters.
In Charlotte they have regularly referred to the thugs as “protestors” and failed to fully publicize how awful their behavior has been. Here are some examples you won’t see on your news programs: Rioters attacked an elderly homeless man and beat a helpless man in parking garage and pulled off and stole his pants to further humiliate him.

Reports are in of stealing and looting on a significantly large scale, hijacking cars and trucks and terrifying their occupants, blocking streets and threatening to spread the mayhem outside the city limits. BLM would in a lawful society be subject to criminal racketeering and conspiracy charges, Instead, Attorney General Loretta Lynch defended the demonstrators as people exercising their constitutional rights to peaceful protest to create change. “We hear your voices and we feel your pain."
She links to a story about how George Soros has been funding protests such as the ones in Ferguson.
Soros-sponsored organizations helped mobilize protests in Ferguson, building grass-roots coalitions on the ground backed by a nationwide online and social media campaign.
Other Soros-funded groups made it their job to remotely monitor and exploit anything related to the incident that they could portray as a conservative misstep, and to develop academic research and editorials to disseminate to the news media to keep the story alive.

The plethora of organizations involved not only shared Mr. Soros‘ funding, but they also fed off each other, using content and buzzwords developed by one organization on another’s website, referencing each other’s news columns and by creating a social media echo chamber of Facebook “likes” and Twitter hashtags that dominated the mainstream media and personal online newsfeeds.

Buses of activists from the Samuel Dewitt Proctor Conference in Chicago; from the Drug Policy Alliance, Make the Road New York and Equal Justice USA from New York; from Sojourners, the Advancement Project and Center for Community Change in Washington; and networks from the Gamaliel Foundation — all funded in part by Mr. Soros — descended on Ferguson starting in August and later organized protests and gatherings in the city until late last month.

All were aimed at keeping the media’s attention on the city and to widen the scope of the incident to focus on interrelated causes — not just the overpolicing and racial discrimination narratives that were highlighted by the news media in August.
So is it any surprise that the police report that 70% of the people arrested in Charlotte were from out of state?

Feldman links to this post by Zero Hedge fighting back against the idea that this was a protest in Charlotte.
-Stealing and looting cash registers from local businesses is not a legitimate form of protest
-A “protester” shooting another “protester” is not a legitimate form of protest.
-Physically attacking reporters is not a legitimate form of protest.
-Throwing rocks off bridges at passing vehicles full of families is not a legitimate form of protest
-Beating up innocent people in parking lots because they’re white is not a legitimate form of protest.
-Smashing up apartment windows where black people live to “protest” in favor of ‘Black Lives Matter’ is not a legitimate form of protest.
-Trashing your own neighborhood is not a legitimate form of protest.
-Looting the Charlotte Hornets team store so you can steal basketball merchandise is not a legitimate form of protest
-Attempting to hijack cars and terrify their innocent occupants is not a legitimate form of protest.
He posts this graphic to show what blacks should really be protesting, but what seems to get so little notice.
How come we don't see George Soros doing something to fight the real cause of so many black deaths? Don't those black lives matter?

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