Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Cruising the Web

Salena Zito watched Sunday's debate with a group of millennials. Her conclusion is that they're pretty downcast about their choices. They loved Bernie and don't like Trump, but Hillary isn't winning them over.
The negative tenor of the campaign has soured “a lot of my peer’s perception of the candidates and politics,” said Robert Bertha, 20, a suburban Pittsburgh native.

“In short, this election has been awful . . . both candidates are so off-putting — he is full of himself, she comes across as though she knows everything and she shouldn’t have to stand on stage and explain anything with him,” Bertha said.

He said she seems to believe the presidency is owed to her.
That doesn't mean that they would consider voting for Trump, but they're not eager to vote for Clinton and would consider voting for Gary Johnson. What interested me in her summary is how their reactions mirror the reactions of my students who are mostly 10th graders. They're fascinated by this election, the first of their lifetime that they've paid attention to given that they were 6th graders in 2012. They find Trump a disgusting joke and love coming in every day with the latest story about Trump or joke that they heard about him. Except for a very few girls who are legitimately excited about having a woman on the verge of winning the presidency, most of them regard Hillary Clinton as a liar who is old and motivated solely by politics. They don't know anything about Bill Clinton's presidency, but they all know about his sex scandals. I was surprised that they all knew who Monica Lewinsky is given that this was all before they were born.

I've been teaching AP Government and Politics since 2002 and we always spend time with both the presidential and midterm elections with the kids using what is going on in the country as evidence to support or refute the generalizations about politics that they learn in their textbook. I always enjoy seeing the political scene through their eyes. But this year has been so demoralizing for me to teach. I actually discuss the election very little in class. The kids come in eager to give impressions on stories that happened the day before. Or when we discuss generalizations about how parties, elections, or the media operate in our political system, their examples all come from what they're seeing happen right now.

So many of them came in eager to share their impressions of Sunday's debate. What surprised me was that they were lumping both candidates in their contempt. They would make comments like "Both of them acted like toddlers, insulting each other" or "They're both liars."

Quite a few of them are intrigued by Gary Johnson. They see him as someone fresh and interesting. And they like his support for legalizing marijuana. They all know about his "Aleppo moment," but that doesn't bother them as much as the problems they see with Trump and Clinton. I suspect that most of them, if they had the vote, would vote for Clinton and she'll win the school-wide vote we hold on election day, but then the Democrat always wins at our school.

These young future voters are now so very cynical about politics and now believe that what they've seen in the past year is how our system works.

The sad thing is that they might be right.

Zito's observations are in accord with a focus group of millennials that Molly Ball at The Atlantic reports on.
Of the other seven focus-group members, none were considering a Trump vote. But neither were they sold on Clinton. Asked to describe her in a few words, they tended to pair positive and negative attributes: "Shady but knowledgeable," said a male Asian-American medical student. "Hardworking, corrupt, real-deal politician," said a female African American office worker.
Having Bernie Sanders stump for Hillary doesn't seem to be getting the job done for them. And what is also notable is how disappointed they are with Obama.
Some liberal Millennials have so internalized Sanders' onetime critique of Clinton's character—that she’s just another cog in a corrupt machine—that they are implacably opposed to her. That was the case for one focus-group participant, Amanda, a 27-year-old human-resources worker who's also a single mother enrolled in a holistic-health certificate program. Amanda's description of Clinton: "Bitch, liar, false." She's planning to vote for Green Party nominee Jill Stein.

Amanda's attitudes were partly driven by disillusion with Obama, whom she voted for. "I'm just not pumped about what he did while he was in office," she said. "I feel like a lot of stuff crumbled while he's been in there." Her excitement about Obamacare, she said, has given way to dismay at her rising health-insurance premiums and deductibles.
THey're not going to vote for Trump but will probably end up voting for Hillary or one of the third-party candidates.
The prevailing sentiment was one of grudging capitulation to a Clinton vote. "Clinton by default," said Alex, a 26-year-old Asian-American paralegal, looking pained. "That's the only choice I have."

It's a far cry from the thrill many young people felt casting votes for Obama or Sanders. But a vote is a vote, and Clinton will surely take it.
She'll win, but she'll come in probably the most unpopular new president since Lincoln. She'll claim a mandate just as Bill did with his 43% victory in 1992 but I hope she doesn't expect a honeymoon period. Everyone will know that she won simply because the GOP managed to nominate the only candidate more unlikable and unpopular than she is.
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In a new batch of Wikileaks from John Podesta's server, we are getting a few interesting nuggets. For example, her staffers acknowledged that their candidate was lying about her defense of the Defense of Marriage Act that her husband signed.
Hillary Clinton told Rachel Maddow a year ago that the Defense of Marriage Act was a defensive action that her husband backed in 1996 to stop anti-gay forces from “going further” and passing a constitutional amendment banning same-sex couples from marrying.
There was, of course, no evidence to support her made-up weaseling lie to try to make lemonade out of the lemons her husband's presidency supplies for her today. Apparently, her own staff recognized that she was just making this stuff up.

Another tidbit from the transcripts of her Wall Street speeches is how she bragged her support for fracking.
BEHIND CLOSED DOORS on the paid speaking circuit, Hillary Clinton was far more candid than she has been in public about her prominent role as Secretary of State in exporting American-style hydraulic fracturing — the controversial, environmentally damaging technique best known as fracking — to countries all over the world.

“I’ve promoted fracking in other places around the world,” she declared during a 2013 paid talk to Deutsche Bank, adding that she launched a new wing of the State Department devoted to the initiative.

During a paid speech in Canada the following year, Clinton touted her role in “accelerating” natural gas development in Europe, calling attention to Poland’s embrace of fracking as a positive step.

The contrast with the rhetoric Clinton has used on the campaign trail is striking. Clinton has rarely spoken in public of her role selling fracking abroad, and at times positioned herself as a skeptic of the controversial drilling technique. In the lead-up to the New York Democratic primary, Clinton’s campaign released a television advertisement that gave the impression that she has worked to discourage fracking.

And now we know how much Clinton supporters were pulling for the GOP to nominate Trump.
In the new batch of WikiLeaks emails is one sent to John Podesta, Hillary Clinton's campaign chair, in which a liberal columnist writes he is "petrified" Clinton can only win if Donald Trump is the Republican nominee.

The email was sent by Brent Budowsky, formerly a Capitol Hill staffer and Huffington Post columnist who now contributes to The Hill.

"Right now I am petrified that Hillary is almost totally dependent on Republicans nominating Trump," Budowsky sent to Podesta on March 13, 2016. "She has huge endemic political weaknesses that she would be wise to rectify ... even a clown like Ted Cruz would be an even money bet to beat and this scares the hell of out me."
Of course, that is just what Trump's opponents were saying during the primaries - that the Clinton campaign would be ecstatic to be running against Trump. And now we're seeing how justified such statements were.

And just as so many Republicans thought, the candidate the Clinton people feared the most was Marco Rubio.
'He gives a good speech, and sounded much more reasonable, populist and accessible than much of the rest of the GOP field,' wrote public relations maven Christina Reynolds, words that could have been used to describe the approach Obama took to beat Clinton.

'Felt more like an inspiring Democratic speech than a GOP candidate, outside of foreign policy, repealing Obamacare and choice. Lots of references to 'our generation’ (i.e. Him and younger voters) vs. 'their generation' (them being us, Jeb, his opponents, Washington).'

One staffer noted that Rubio's speeches were reminiscent of one Obama made when he said, 'This election is not just about what laws we will pass. It is a generational choice about what kind of country we will be.'
Ah, just what many Rubio supporters such as myself believed. Early on, the Clinton campaign didn't think Trump had a chance so they were quite happy when he started gaining ground.
But as the controversial businessman's popularity soared, the Clinton campaign seemed to take heart, feeling he would be an easier opponent than Rubio to trounce.

The staff was worried about Clinton's tenuous hold on young voters, who had gathered their support around Bernie Sanders, and felt Rubio would also be popular with them.

Her campaign also was seeking ways to distract from the email scandal. So they figured that they could distract from one scandal by linking it to another scandal and then dismissing both of them.

Bernie supporters might not be amused to see how many attacks the Clinton campaign had ready to launch against Sanders.

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Heather MacDonald excoriates the reaction against Trump's lewd and offensive language in the leaked tape with all the behavior and language that our society has considered perfectly acceptable up until now. She brings up the language and video of Beyoncé’s acclaimed rock video “Formation,” as "Beyoncé and her female chorus line rhythmically thrust their butts, crotches, and breasts to the camera, while Beyoncé brags of her sexual prowess." Read the lyrics as she brags about how she slays with a guy and then takes him to Red Lobster and a flight on her chopper.
Sounds like a sexual quid pro quo, ripe for a harassment lawsuit. The “Formation” video, which inspired Beyoncé’s Super Bowl halftime performance in January (to another universal swoon from the entertainment industry), also shows a very young girl engaging in some precocious twerking, a grotesque travesty of childhood. No objections to that destruction of the innocence of childhood from the DNC.

President Obama has singled out Beyoncé for praise, and the singer is a big Hillary Clinton supporter, to not a word of protest from Clinton regarding her status as a role model for young girls. Bill Clinton met with Beyoncé and her husband, rapper Jay Z, in September. If Bill or Hillary thinks the lyrics of Jay Z’s “Big Pimpin‘” “horrific,” in Hillary’s words, they are not letting on
Yes, it's disgusting to hear a presidential candidate talking the way Trump was talking on that bus. But his language is all part of what has become perfectly acceptable, even admirable in our culture.
The Washington Post primly headlined its scoop on Trump’s bus conversation with Bush: “Trump recorded having extremely lewd conversation about women in 2005.” The New York Times’ follow-up story also labelled Trump’s remarks “lewd.” If either of those paper’s critics have ever objected to such lewdness in popular culture, it has escaped attention. Have they objected to college campus sex weeks, which routinely invite porn stars to offer how-to demonstrations on S & M sex? Do they squirm with discomfort when campus administrators pass out tips on the use of sex toys to achieve better orgasms? Not on the record, at least....

The sudden onset of Victorian vapors among the liberal intelligentsia and political class at the revelation of Trump’s locker-room talk is part and parcel of the Left’s hypocrisy when it comes to feminism and sexual liberation. A routine objection to Trump is that he makes, in the words of the New York Times, “gutter attacks on women.” But why should women be exempt from Trump’s gutter attacks on anyone he wants to humiliate? Trump’s gratuitous nastiness to men and women alike, kicking people when they are down, unfits him to serve as the premier civic role model for the nation’s children. But the feminists can’t have it both ways: declaring that women should be equal to men in all things and then still demand a chivalric deference to female’s delicate sensibilities. Either women are the same as men or they’re not....

This opportunistic, on-again, off-again appearance of traditional sexual values characterizes the campus-rape myth as well. Needless to say, actual sexual assault is both criminal and intolerable. But college co-eds insist on the prerogative of maximal promiscuity at the same time that they revert to the role of helpless damsel in distress, when, after drinking themselves blotto to lower their sexual inhibitions, they regret a boozy hook-up and declare themselves raped. The logic is always that the male was responsible for the female’s well-being; the female cannot help drinking herself to a reckless state. It is for the chivalric male to look out for her....

Ideally, no man would ever paw a female or push himself on her. The default norm of sexual modesty, coupled with the chivalric ideal that gentlemen should treat females like ladies, used to be the most effective defense against such high-testosterone behavior. Feminism, however, has declared both modesty and chivalry sexist, leaving females to improvise a response to the inevitable excesses of the male sex drive, when they are not trying to leverage it to their own advantage.
Of course, in the many hours spent tsk-tsking over Donald Trump bragging about his crude sexual conduct with women, married or otherwise, for people to pause and contemplate the society we've created where women can brag about being just as crude and sexually promiscuous as men and get the presidential smile of approval.

Meanwhile, for shame on so many Republicans who have cast aside positions that they used to hold on the culture in order to leap to defend Trump. David French writes,
In the last three days, we’ve heard “conservatives” loudly justify a man’s bragging about committing sexual battery as nothing more than “locker-room talk.” Even worse, we’ve heard them say — out loud — that this is just how men behave. Judging from the avalanche of pro-Trump tweets over the weekend, his supporters have reached the point of arguing that if you haven’t been around this kind of conversation you’re not a real man. Bizarrely, Laura Ingraham even suggested last night that it’s time for Republicans to put on their “big-boy pants” and get behind the nominee.

We’ve now reached the point where you must plainly lie about men and masculinity in order to justify your support for Trump. A generation of conservative efforts to persuade the culture that there’s nothing inherently “toxic” about masculinity is being undone in a matter of days because a fading reality-TV star must be carried into the White House. Now you’re only wearing your “big-boy pants” if you embrace the masculinity of campus-feminist fever dreams, where every guy is a frat boy and every fraternity runs a rape room.

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Donald Trump keeps defending Russia as responsible for the political hacks we've been seeing. Since US intelligence experts within the government have issued a report blaming Russia for the hacks, here is a question to ask Trump. If he were president, would he reject the findings of the intelligence experts within the government if their conclusions are not in accord with his own guesses or predilections?

So which liberal icon should progressives get behind: Colin Kaepernick or Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
When asked by Couric how she feels about San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, and others athletes, refusing to stand for the anthem, Ginsburg replied, “I think it’s really dumb of them.”

“Would I arrest them for doing it? No,” Ginsburg elaborated. “I think it’s dumb and disrespectful. I would have the same answer if you asked me about flag burning. I think it’s a terrible thing to do, but I wouldn’t lock a person up for doing it. I would point out how ridiculous it seems to me to do such an act.”

Couric then asked, “But when it comes to these football players, you may find their actions offensive, but what you’re saying is, it’s within their rights to exercise those actions?”

“Yes,” said Ginsburg. “If they want to be stupid, there’s no law that should be preventive. If they want to be arrogant, there’s no law that prevents them from that. What I would do is strongly take issue with the point of view that they are expressing when they do that.”
Way to go, Notorious RBG!

I know that it's much more fun to look at each candidate through the prism of their character flaws, but sometimes it is worth it to look at their policy recommendations. Chris Jacobs looks at Hillary Clinton's health plan and how it "could line the pockets of businesses to the tune of nearly a trillion dollars while simultaneously jacking up premiums and deductibles for millions of Americans."
Hillary Clinton’s plan for a new federal tax credit to subsidize out-of-pocket costs for all Americans will encourage businesses to make their health benefits skimpier — raising premiums, co-payments, and deductibles — because they know that the new tax credit will pick up the difference for the hardest-hit families. While Secretary Clinton’s other major health-care proposals (to increase federal subsidies on insurance exchanges and to create a government-run “public option” on them) would apply only to those without employer-based coverage, the out-of-pocket tax credit would apply to both insurance that is employer-based and insurance that is individually purchased.
This should be nothing new. Think of how federal subsidies for college education have raised the price of colleges since they know that a third party will be picking up the tab. The same will happen with these badly designed incentives to insurance companies to increase prices. And there will also be an incentive to raise the cost of workers' premium contributions to help them qualify for the credit.
The Commonwealth researchers did not even attempt to model the impact of the tax credit on the actual behavior of businesses, claiming that employers might not know their workers’ income or out-of-pocket expenses, and saying they could not make decisions based on incomplete information. Nonsense. Even if businesses decide not to increase employees’ premium contributions, they could jack up deductibles instead. A firm could raise its deductible by $2,500, offer all workers a $1,000 bonus — to help employees whose out-of-pocket costs don’t meet the 5 percent of income threshold to obtain the tax credit, or assist workers’ cash flow until they receive it — and still come out ahead.

Whether by accident or design, the Commonwealth researchers assumed that employers will not respond to incentives — an assumption that belies three years of experience with Obamacare’s exchanges. Thousands of Americans have gamed the law’s special enrollment periods to sign up for coverage outside the annual enrollment window, incurred above-average costs – and then dropped their coverage at above-average rates, un-enrolling after returning to health. And because Section 1412 of the law allows enrollees a three-month grace period before insurers can drop their coverage for non-payment, one insurer found that 21 percent of its customers didn’t bother to pay their premiums last December, because the law effectively said they didn’t have to.

Given the ways in which Americans have gamed Obamacare’s morass of new regulations to create a system of barely functioning insurance exchanges, it beggars belief to think that businesses would not similarly work to maximize profit.

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Ah, now we can be up to date on the latest progressive fixation - how yoga and Zumba are examples of perfidious cultural appropriation.
Although it’s not clear what exactly the claims of the lecture will be, I’d assume that the “cultural appropriation” complaints about Zumba have something to do with the fact that workouts are traditionally performed to Latin American music.

The title of the lecture, “Health at the Expense of Cultural Appropriation: Yoga and Zumba,” really does illustrate how completely stupid it is. After all, I really have a hard time believing that enjoying a workout centered around a typical kind of music — even if that kind of music isn’t from your own culture — is really coming at the “expense” of anyone, however, making people so terrified that their workouts might be racist that they’re too scared to do them could come at the “expense” of their health. We’re an obese nation, and if people like to stay in shape by doing Zumba, then good for them . . . whether they’re white (ew!) or not. Seriously, how far does this go? Are we going to get to the point where white people can only work out to white-people-music without having to have some sort of cultural consciousness discussion beforehand? I sure hope not, because working out is already annoying enough as it is.

One of the most beautiful things about this country is that we are made up of a mix of people from different cultures, and that that mix gives us so many opportunities to enjoy art and music from cultures other than our own. Now, I do understand how someone claiming another culture as their own — or claiming to understand what it would be like to experience life as someone from another culture — would be offensive, however, I highly doubt that anyone who’s going to Zumba class will think that their going to Zumba class means that he or she is some kind of Latin American cultural expert. They just think that they’re someone who went to Zumba class, and I’ve got to say, there are certainly bigger problems facing us than that.