Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Cruising the Web

For those Trumpkins who are vowing revenge against Republicans who aren't sufficiently supportive of their guy, should simply read this story and think again.
Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the House.

As Donald Trump’s poll numbers tank, dragging the whole GOP down with him, the possibility that Pelosi could return to the speaker’s chair after a six-year absence has suddenly grown very real. No one has done anything like this since the legendary Sam Rayburn did 60 years ago, and it is still unlikely to happen. Yet the House is definitely in play, according to experts on both sides of the aisle, which means the 76-year-old Pelosi could be wielding the speaker’s gavel again come January.
It's bad enough that their beau ideal has ruined what would have been a very winnable election and virtually guaranteed that the Clintons will be returning to the White House, but do they really want to be responsible for again enthroning Pelosi in the Speaker's chair? The best argument GOP House and Senate candidates should be drumming home in the next few weeks is that a vote for them is a needed check on a Clinton White House.

Why is the administration making this public?
t's not clear what to make of NBC's weekend report that the CIA is plotting a cyberattack against the Russian government (Vladimir Putin in particular) or why sources decided to go public about it.

To summarize: The CIA has apparently been planning a cyber counterstrike to expose information intended to "embarrass" the Kremlin and "unsavory tactics by Russian President Vladimir Putin." Why this has been made public is anybody's guess, but Vice President Joe Biden confirmed with a wink and a nod to Meet the Press that America is "sending a message" to Russia. When asked whether the public would know about this message, Biden responded, very Bidenly, "Hope not."

While we try to wrap our minds around the idea of the public not finding out about a cyberattack Biden is openly promoting on a Sunday talk show, NBC does get a sense of the internal conflict with the administration about whether it's possible to retaliate against Russia in any meaningful way:
Yes, proposed covert actions should definitely be leaked and discussed on public TV. And I'm sure that Putin is quaking in his boots at the thought that we would release some information that would reveal that he has "unsavory tactics." That would be a real shocker to everyone, I'm sure.

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We keep finding out such revealing details in the WikiLeaks hacking of John Podesta's email. For example, here is a tidbit from Clinton's 2008 campaign about proposed attacks on Obama.
The e-mails, which were allegedly hacked from Podesta’s account and were published by WikiLeaks today, reveal that Clinton’s 2008 campaign had focus-group tested attacks focusing on Obama’s cocaine habit, his decision to not wear an American flag lapel pin, and the time he spent in Indonesia.
They proposed to attack Obama, whom they mysteriously kept referring to as "owe-BAH-uh," for such assorted sins as not covering his heart during the national anthem, his connection to Tony Rezko, his willingness to negotiation with Iran and North Korea without preconditions, his votes against allowing people to use handguns in self-defense, his proposed tax increases for his health care idea, having a Muslim father and growing up in Indonesia, a Muslim country, his votes in illinois against health care for babies who survive an abortion and are born alive, his support for giving driver's licenses to undocumented immigrants, and his use of cocaine as a young man.

It sounds just like what the Republicans were saying about Obama during that election. I guess these attacks didn't focus-group all that well since Clinton didn't use them. But it's sure interesting that these were all lines of attack that they might have been willing to use if the focus groups had demonstrated that such attacks would have worked.

USA Today reports
on how foreign governments were able to make sure that they got the result they wanted from the money they donated to the Clinton Foundation.
The nexus among private companies, Hillary Clinton’s State Department and the Clinton family foundations is closer and more complex than even Donald Trump has claimed so far.

While it is widely known that some companies and foreign governments gave money to the foundations, perhaps in an effort to gain favor, one of the key parts of the puzzle hasn’t been reported: At least a dozen of those same companies lobbied the State Department, using lobbyists who doubled as major Clinton campaign fundraisers.

Those companies gave as much as $16 million to the Clinton charities. At least four of the lobbyists they hired are “Hillblazers,” the Clinton campaign’s name for supporters who have raised $100,000 or more for her current White House race. Two of the four also raised funds for Clinton’s unsuccessful 2008 presidential bid.
Isn't that all very convenient? What a cozy operation.

Sharyl Attkisson summarizes what we've learned from the WikiLeaks hacks and documents released through FOIA requests about how members of the media were tame mouthpieces for Hillary Clinton and other Democrats. They received their marching orders and produced the stories according to those orders. It's a long and shameful list. Here are some examples:
The Atlantic

Marc Ambinder from The Atlantic, asked a Hillary Clinton aide for advance text of a speech. The aide dictated “conditions,” including “1) You in your own voice describe [Hillary’s words] as ‘muscular’,” to which Ambinder agreed. Ambinder formerly worked for ABC, CBS and National Journal.


CNBC anchor John Harwood, who moderated a presidential debate between Trump and Clinton, appears to have offered helpful thoughts and analyses to the Clinton campaign.


The Clinton campaign emailed that CNN politics producer Dan Merica and Clinton were “basically courting each other.”

In an email, Democratic National Committee chair Donna Brazile (then a CNN contributor) said she obtained an advance presidential debate question and passed it on to the Hillary campaign. The question was later asked in a March 13 Democratic presidential town hall including Democrat Bernie Sanders and co-hosted by CNN. Brazile says she didn’t do what she allegedly said she did in the email.

CNN political commentator Maria Cardona emailed Democratic National Committee officials a draft of her opinion piece that attacked Bernie Sanders prior to the upcoming Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. She invited the DNC’s editorial input and made changes accordingly, asking the DNC, “Is this better?”


Staffers at Media Matters say they “knew they could dump stuff to Ben Smith [formerly of Politico now editor-in-chief at Buzzfeed.com],” according to Daily Caller. “Ben Smith will take stories and write what you want him to write.”

Politico chief investigative reporter Ken Vogel emailed soon-to-be-published story to Democratic National Committee official Mark Paustenbach “per agreement” and invited his “thoughts.” Paustenbach gave the draft to the DNC’s head of communications, Luis Miranda. “Vogel gave me his story ahead of time/before it goes to his editors as long as I didn’t share it,” Paustenbach told Miranda.

In his effort to get an interview with Chelsea Clinton, Mike Allen, Politico’s chief political reporter offered to provide questions in advance, “precisely” agreed upon with a Hillary Clinton aide. “The interview would be ‘no-surprises’: I would work with you on topics, and would start with anything she wants to cover or make news on. Quicker than a network hit, and reaching an audience you care about with no risk,” Allen wrote the aide. After the email became public, Allen apologized and said he would never do what he offered to do in his email.
It's so funny to see this evidence of what conservatives have always suspected was going on.

Kyle Smith looks at some of the lessons that we've learned from this election.
1) No experience required . . . In the matchup of neophyte Sen. Barack Obama against the polymorphously experienced Sen. John McCain in 2008, Obama’s thin résumé was shrugged off by the voters, thanks in part to a complicit media that preferred to cast Obama as refreshing rather than underqualified. In 2016, though, a businessman with no political or military experience whatsoever has a shot at being elected president. Trump would be the first person never to have been either a military leader or a political officeholder ever to attain the presidency — and he turned this startling lack of engagement with the political system into an asset in a year when voters felt alienated from Washington. The idea that a true outsider could capture the White House no longer looks at all far-fetched. Some other business leader or celebrity could be a viable candidate in 2020.

2). . . but character still matters. One huge advantage held by professional politicians is that they’ve already been vetted, faced opposition research. Trump, despite having been a public figure for more than 30 years, never faced the same scrutiny, as we learned in the dizzying final weeks of the campaign. Why? Because it was never in anyone’s direct interest to take him on. If he had run for any significant lower office, the resources of a political party would have been focused on destroying him by digging up dirt from his past. Any public figure with skeletons in his closet should assume they will be not only found but fetishized.

Josh Jordan, known on Twitter as Numbers Muncher, had a great rant on Twitter yesterday to refute the idea that the media rigged the election against Donald Trump. He reminds us how the media basically helped create the Trump success in the primaries.

It is indeed shameful for a major-party candidate to seek to undermine Americans' confidence in the election, the WSJ points out that such accusations have plenty of precedents.
But the liberal freak-out over Mr. Trump’s allegedly “unprecedented” and “dangerous” remarks could use some perspective. Where would Mr. Trump possibly get the idea that the system is rigged?

Well, maybe he listened to Bernie Sanders, who in January described his “message, which says that the economy today is rigged, that it benefits the wealthy and the powerful at the expense of everybody else, that the campaign finance system that exists today is corrupt and undermining American democracy.” Or maybe Mr. Trump caught Elizabeth Warren at the Democratic convention saying “the system is rigged” or “the rigged system” five times in one speech.

President Obama and Eric Holder also regularly push the canard that voter-identification laws are attempts at racially motivated disenfranchisement. As recently as 2014, Democrats attempting to keep the Senate tried to motivate minority turnout with ads that explicitly played on black fears of intimidation.

African-American registration and voting increased, and at a faster rate than white participation, after allegedly racist North Carolina and Georgia recently passed voter ID laws, but that’s not the point. Democrats can’t sauce this goose and then complain when Mr. Trump adopts their tactics for his purposes.

As it happens, David Remnick reported in the New Yorker last year that John Kerry is convinced that the George W. Bush campaign manipulated the voting machines in 2004 to carry Ohio. The Secretary of State even used this “very personal experience” to reassure Afghans that free and fair elections are hard, even in advanced countries. We can’t recall the media assault on the top U.S. diplomat for subverting U.S. democracy with such baseless speculation, and where Mr. Trump does have a point is when he says the press corps is nearly unanimous against him.

This is usually the case with Republicans, though the difference this year is that journalists say openly that Mr. Trump is a unique threat to democracy. The First Amendment stalwarts would have more credibility if they hadn’t portrayed Mitt Romney as a plundering executive with retrograde family values, or tried to take down John McCain in 2008 with innuendo about philandering. GOP voters understand that it doesn’t matter how admirable their nominee is, the press will still trash him.

The question for the media this year is that if Mr. Trump poses a threat to the American way, where were they during the GOP primaries? Back then, progresssive partisans who now say Mr. Trump will end civilization turned out columns like “Why Liberals Should Support a Trump Republican Nomination” or “Why I’m more worried about Marco Rubio than Donald Trump.”

Many in the media cheered on Mr. Trump when it appeared that he might oppose the GOP’s traditional free-market agenda. NBC’s “Access Hollywood” tape with Mr. Trump and Billy Bush is 11 years old, and weren’t Howard Stern’s greatest hits as relevant last autumn as they are said to be now? It’s not a conspiracy theory to think that the stories coming out in late October are no accident.

Disqualifying Mr. Trump with a dump of sleazy passes at women was sure to enrage his supporters who know the history of Bill and Hillary Clinton. Mr. Trump always overreacts and thus he’s on a path to lose—and if he keeps raving about “the illusion of democracy,” as he did last week in West Palm Beach, he’ll deserve to. But in winning ugly, Mrs. Clinton and the left will pay a steep price in even more polarized and divisive politics. (links in original)

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A philosophy professor at the University of Texas as Austin writes about what it is like to be the only conservative at his university and to come out in favor of Trump.As someone who is probably the only conservative on my school's faculty that I'm aware of this passage resonated with me.
I try my best to keep politics out of the classroom. Once, a student said to me, “You’re a conservative, aren’t you?” I responded that I was disappointed that he could tell, because I try to present views on all sides fairly, keeping my own views in the background. He answered: “I know. That’s how I could tell.”
Our administration has always stressed to us that we should not be talking about our own political opinions in the classroom. It's fine for me to have a blog that students might find and read and realize that I'm conservative, but those opinions should not leach into the classroom. I really try to follow those principles. I'm especially sensitive to keeping my politics out of the class since I teach three classes on government and politics. The students in those classes are learning about how our system works and exploring their own ideologies so it would be particularly inappropriate for me to inflict my opinions on them. It's much easier to be even-handed and let them express their own views. But from what students tell me, quite a few of my colleagues are not similarly reticent. Once, when students were asking me what my political opinions were and whom I was going to vote for, I replied that the principal wanted us to keep our views private, and they just burst out laughing.

Does this report surprise anyone who has ever read anything about Hillary Clinton from her time in Arkansas and the White House? It has frequently been reported that she is an arrogant, disagreeable person who regards the secret service as beneath her and treated them rudely. And she, apparently, has not changed.
Department of State security officers found then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton so unpleasant they refused to work on her security detail, a former agent claims in newly-released FBI documents.

The FBI Monday released 100 pages of documents relating to its investigation of Clinton’s private email server. The documents incorporate summaries of several interviews the FBI conducted, including one with a woman who served as an agent with the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS) during Clinton’s time as secretary of state.

During her interview, the agent said Clinton treated agents rudely and with contempt, and was so unpleasant that senior agents typically avoided being on her security detail.

“[Redacted] explained that CLINTON’s treatment of DS agents on her protective detail was so contemptuous that many of them sought reassignment or employment elsewhere,” the interview summary says. “Prior to CLINTON’s tenure, being an agent on the Secretary of State’s protective detail was seen as an honor and privilege reserved for senior agents. However, by the end of CLINTON’s tenure, it was staffed largely with new agents because it was difficult to find senior agents willing to work for her.”
Note that this isn't some gossip from unidentified Secret Service agents, the excuse been used to dismiss similar stories in the past, but a report from one government official to the FBI during an investigation. Think about the classlessness of someone who would be rude to people who have sworn to literally protect her with their very lives. Sure, Donald Trump is a boorish vulgarian, but Hillary has her own faults that should be appalling Democrats, but so few Democrats will speak out against her.

Rather than being such a brilliant businessman as he claims, Donald Trump makes most of his money these days from licensing his name to other businessmen. And what I've been wondering from the start of this inglorious adventure is how his antics on the political stage will affect that aspect of his business. Are the people who can afford to shell out the big bucks to stay at a hotel with his name on it or buy his steaks and ties going to still be willing to do so when his name has become anathema to so very many? Apparently not. The actual data is difficult to acquire for privately-owned businesses, but there are some signs that his campaign might be hurting the bottom line.
Across the country, voters alarmed by the tenor of Mr. Trump’s campaign and the emerging accounts of his personal conduct are engaging in spontaneous, unorganized and inconspicuous acts of protest that take direct aim at perhaps his most prized possession: his brand name....

It is difficult to measure the economic impact of such protests on Mr. Trump’s far-flung businesses. His holdings are privately controlled, and he has a well-documented history of exaggerating his financial performance. Amanda Miller, the vice president of marketing for the Trump Organization, said in a statement on Sunday that the Trump brand “remains incredibly strong, and we are seeing tremendous success across business units.”

The nonstop exposure provided by the presidential campaign has its upsides: Sales at Mr. Trump’s winery in Charlottesville are up 55 percent, said Kerry Woolard, its general manager. A few customers have headed there straight from his political rallies, she said.

But there are signs of a strain: An online travel company, Hipmunk, has found that bookings for Trump hotels on its site fell 58 percent during the first half of 2016, compared with the same period a year ago. Eric Danziger, the chief executive of Trump Hotels, said that data from sites like Hipmunk “does not provide an accurate representation of our performance.”

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This is how ignorant of history today's millennials are according to a recent study by the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation.
The survey also revealed a general lack of historical knowledge, especially among young adults. According to the report, one-third (32 percent) of millennials believed that more people were killed under George W. Bush than under Joseph Stalin.

While I wait anxiously to see if the Cubs hitting can recover tonight, this made me laugh out loud.