Friday, October 21, 2016

Cruising the Web

Rumors are out there that Trump is considering founding his own TV network after he loses the election. It might seem like a natural progression for the guy who has built so much of his reputation by appearances in the media and on a reality show. Reportedly, his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, has been talking to an investor about setting up a Trump TV network. I guess his family doesn't think that he will win and they're thinking about what he can do to cash in on his election fun.

Ryan Lizza reminds us that there have been other attempts to launch TV networks that have not been successful.
In recent years, several Trump-like personalities have tried to transform their populist shtick into a television venture and have failed. First, there was the Sarah Palin Channel, which lasted less than a year. Glenn Beck, who once led the anti-Obama conspiracy theorists on the right, had a popular show on HLN and then Fox News, but his Blaze TV project has been in a death spiral this year.

Recent newcomers to cable news, like Bloomberg and Fox Business Channel, have also failed to take off. Outside of conservative and news media, networks designed around a single person are no easier to sustain. Even the Oprah Winfrey Network, a cable channel with hundreds of millions of dollar in startup funds, created, in 2011, by one of the most popular personalities in America, has struggled to post impressive ratings.
I wonder how Fox News would regard Trump's efforts to eat into their viewership with a competing network after some of their shows like Hannity and Fox and Friends have basically been operating as arms of the Trump campaign. Lizza is skeptical that Trump TV would be successful.
It also seems highly unlikely that Trump—who is loath even to spend money on polls because he believes there are plenty of public ones he can have for free—would suddenly cough up tens and perhaps hundreds of millions of dollars to enter the fraught business of cable TV. It’s also improbable that someone who brags about how much money he has could find others to finance such a risky venture, especially given Trump’s long trail of failed businesses (Trump Airlines, the Trump Taj Mahal, Trump Steaks, Trump Vodka, Trump University, Trump Magazine).

Even Trump’s closest advisers are skeptical that cable news is the right path. I recently talked to a top Trump campaign official who has studied the cable news business closely, and he argued that it was a foolish endeavor.

“Roger Ailes is the most brilliant guy in this business,” the official said. “He put seven hundred fifty million a year into Fox Business. He put the best guys you’ve got, like Lou Dobbs and Maria Bartiromo. In the early afternoon, there are more people on Breitbart’s home page than are watching Fox Business. Look at the guys at Bloomberg. And these are brilliant TV guys. That business breaks people.”

Trump is certainly not going away, but there are good reasons to suspect that you won’t find Trump TV on your cable box anytime soon.
Well, that's a relief. I suspect that he's going to be facing a real downturn in his finances after this election as his main source of wealth, licensing his name, will no longer be in such demand. I suspect also that he will decide that he prefers to make occasional appearances with a sycophantic Sean Hannity where he can spout his incoherent conspiracy theories rather than risk his wealth on a doubtful TV venture.

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Ann Althouse excoriates Hillary Clinton's statement in the debate about how she views the Supreme Court. Clinton's answer demonstrates the left's attitude that the courts should just be an arm of their political party. She said that she would "stand up against Citizens United." Althouse writes,
There's that injudicious term "stand up" again. You know, sticking with precedent is called "stare decisis," and that Latin phrase literally contains the word "stand": Let the decision stand. The idea that courts should stand against precedent feels perverse. Courts will occasionally overturn precedent, but they should do so as a result of legal analysis, not political passion. If a right — like freedom of speech — allows us to do "dark, unaccountable" things, that's not a legal argument for taking away the right. And I suspect very few listeners to the debate could get even a C- on a simple essay question about what the Court decided in Citizens United and why. Do they even know that the case involved a movie about Hillary Clinton, criticizing her, that federal law would have censored?
It's funny how the liberals regard the sanctity of precedents. If it's Roe v. Wade, stare decisis takes on almost a holy character. If it's a case that the left dislikes like D.C. v. Heller or Citizens United v. FEC, then their efforts to "stand up against" the decisions are eternal.

Althouse then goes after Hillary's belief that the "Supreme Court should represent all of us."
Now, Hillary went to law school. She taught law school. She knows the judicial branch isn't supposed to "represent" us. She's choosing to talk about the Court in language that applies to the political branches of government, and she comes right out and says she wants to use the presidential appointment power to fill the Court with Justices who see law like that:
And the kind of people that I would be looking to nominate to the court would be in the great tradition of standing up to the powerful, standing up on behalf of our rights as Americans. And I look forward to having that opportunity. I would hope that the Senate would do its job and confirm the nominee that President Obama has sent to them. That's the way the constitution fundamentally should operate. The President nominates and the Senate advises and consents or not. But they go forward with the process.
But no nominee would testify to the Senate Judiciary Committee expressing commitment to the "great tradition" she just articulated. I've listened to all of the testimony of everyone who currently sits on the Court, and none of them talked like that, even as the Senators from the opposite party from the President attempted to lure them into conceding that they are really, at heart, political hacks.
Of course, Donald Trump's answer on questions on the Supreme Court and the Second Amendment betrayed a confusion about both. He was basically incoherent, as he so often it is.

David Harsanyi mocks the despicable United Nations which readily passes resolutions condemning Israel while ignoring the violations of human rights in other countries. The most recent outrage was a resolution condemning Israel and referring to Jerusalem's holy sites by their Muslim names only as if Israel has no connection to Judaism's two holiest sites, the Temple Mount and the Western Wall. It's all part of the UN's long history of anti-Semitism.
It’s not merely that UN organizations like the “human rights commission” or UNESCO are often led by Islamic supremacists, but that the majority of first-world nations have — with few exceptions, like the United States and the United Kingdom — been enablers of anti-Semitism for over 50 years.

This new motion, which claims freedom of worship has been curtailed by “escalating aggressions and illegal measures,” was submitted by the Palestinians and backed by various other twelfth-century strongholds like Morocco (where it’s illegal to possess a Bible written in Arabic), Algeria (where Muslim women cannot marry non-Muslim men and insulting Muhammad is punishable by death), Iran (with restrictions too long to list), Pakistan (where the death penalty or life in prison is mandated for apostasy), and Sudan (where converting to Christianity is punishable by death.)
But those states don't rate UN disapproval. only Israel does.
When Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon visited his religion’s holiest site in September 2000, Arabs used it as a pretext to launch the Second Intifada. Anti-Israel activists still talk about this Sharon visit as if the man were leading the Crusaders towards Mecca. Most often, though, Israel does what it can to avoid irritating the prickly sensibilities of Arabs offended by the sight of Jews or Christians. The site itself is administrated by an Islamic trust, not Israel. Politicians are told not to go there. And so on.

But Israel, unlike every UNESCO nation that voted against it, is a liberal democracy.

So a few years ago, a man named Yehuda Glick began advocating for open access to the Temple Mount for people of all faiths. In almost any other context or in any other place, this would be treated as a liberal position. Arabs rioted, and Glick was shot four times by an Arab gunman in an assassination attempt. Our ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, took to the floor to rail against the terrible “provocations” of both sides.

At the time, the Palestinian Authority was fueling false rumors that Israelis were going to block Muslims from entering the site. President Mahmoud Abbas gave a speech claiming that “we have to prevent the settlers from entering the Temple Mount by any means. It is our mosque and they have no right to enter and desecrate it.” Settlers, by the way, are all Israelis living in Jerusalem.

To put this in historic context, before 1967 (the year Palestinians and their Western allies like pretend history began) Jews were barred from these sites, which were often abused and neglected. Even today, access to holy sites within Arab-majority areas is unsafe without armed protection.

So when the Obama administration refuses to acknowledge that Jerusalem is located in Israel, as it recently did in the official press release of the president’s remarks at Shimon Peres’ memorial, it feeds this conflict.
People like to pretend that the UN is a worthy institution because its goals are so admirable. But such a faith is just a Utopian fantasy. At some point, can't we just agree that it's a contemptible organization and stop caring what it says and does? Apparently not.

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Damon Linker daydreams about what any competent Republican could have done with Hillary's performance in the debate.
On the Supreme Court, Clinton said, in effect, that she thinks the Court should serve as a second legislative body in which liberals hold a majority of the seats and exercise veto power over the other branches of government.

On abortion, her position was so extreme that she managed to make Donald Trump sound, for perhaps the first time in his entire life, like a paragon of level-headed reasonableness and moral decency.

On her statement (contained in leaked transcripts of her speeches to financial institutions) about dreaming of a hemisphere-wide free trade zone with open borders, she sounded shifty and defensive.

On her handling of her private email server as secretary of state, she simply tried to change the subject.

On her record of foreign policy judgment calls, especially with regard to Iraq and the greater Middle East, she dodged and weaved, no doubt because her record is extremely spotty.

In sum, Hillary Clinton was who she is and who senior members of her inner circle admit privately that she is: a weak and highly vulnerable presidential candidate who would have had difficulties competing against almost any opponent.
But Donald Trump has no instincts as a debater. He doesn't even seem to grasp the weaknesses of her responses or, when he does, he just gives incoherent answers that barely parse. He throws out slogans and references that only those who religiously follow political news and read conservative sites will understand. And he can get baited into going down rabbit holes trying to defend his cretinous behavior and statements.
So even when Clinton's flaws were exposed — by a question posed by moderator Chris Wallace, by Clinton's own imprecise statements, or by Trump's relentless barrage of hostile accusations — Trump was always there to blunt the impact and distract attention from it.

This happened over and over again, especially in the second half of the debate, as Trump became increasingly agitated and harshly aggressive.

Clinton gets asked to defend her record and Trump's right there to make the ludicrous charge that the State Department "lost" $6 billion during her time at the helm.

Trump raises questions about various WikiLeaks revelations with regard to the Clinton campaign, which Clinton turns into an attack on Russia's meddling in the election — and Trump decides to respond by … rising in partial defense of Vladimir Putin. (This allowed Clinton to accuse Trump of being Putin's "puppet.")

And on it went, through Trump's taxes, his revolting comments about and alleged behavior toward women, his reckless statements about foreign policy and immigrants. Every time it looked like Clinton might be on the ropes, she managed to pivot to some outrageous or insulting or irresponsible comment that Trump has made over the past 16 months.

Trump's replies? They rarely amounted to more than petulant and peevish gesturing in the direction of a rebuttal. If you're inclined to trust Trump (someone must, right?) and you spend all day immersed in Fox News and Breitbart, then maybe some of Trump's responses to Clinton in the debate's final 45 minutes made semi-coherent sense. But I suspect most viewers were left thinking, "What the hell is this guy ranting about? He sounds like a lunatic."

And there you have it: Hillary Clinton won the third debate, like she will win the election itself, for the simple and compelling reason that she isn't a lunatic.

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YouTube has found videos that are truly objectionable - Dennis Prager's educational videos that aren't ideologically acceptable to the folks at YouTube. The WSJ writes,
Dennis Prager’s “PragerU” puts out free short videos on subjects “important to understanding American values”—ranging from the high cost of higher education to the motivations of Islamic State. The channel has more than 130 million views, and the spots tend to include an expert guest and background animation. As you might guess, the mini-seminars do not include violence or sexual content.

But more than 15 videos are “restricted” on YouTube, a development PragerU announced this month. This means the clips don’t show up for those who have turned on filtering—say, a parent shielding their children from explicit videos. A YouTube spokesperson told us that the setting is optional and “based on algorithms that look at a number of factors, including community flagging on videos.” Yet it’s easy to imagine a flood of users reporting a political video—microagressed college students have a lot of free time—and limiting a viewpoint’s audience.

Here are some of the topics that are apparently too sensitive to learn about and discuss freely: Did Bush Lie About Iraq?; Israel’s Legal Founding; Why Did America Fight the Korean War?; Why Don’t Feminists Fight for Muslim Women? PragerU started a petition calling for YouTube to remove the restriction, and more than 66,000 people have signed.

YouTube is free to set its own standards, but the company is undercutting its claim to be a platform for “free expression.” If anyone there would like to brush up on the concept, Mr. Prager has a video about it.

Ashe Schow notes the ludicrous symbolism that ABC found in Hillary Clinton wearing a white pants suit to the debate. Apparently, she was honoring the suffragettes who sometimes wore white. But white wasn't such a great choice when Melania Trump wore a white dress to the Republican National Convention. Then it was seen as a racist statement.
So when Clinton wears white, it's about rights; when Trump wears white, it's white supremacy. Got it.