Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Cruising the Web

Chris Ashby, a campaign finance and election lawyer, explains why Americans should stop believing that our election could be rigged.
To rig an election, you would need (1) technological capabilities that exist only in Mission Impossible movies, plus (2) the cooperation of the Republicans and Democrats who are serving as the polling place’s election officials, plus (3) the blind eyes of the partisan pollwatchers who are standing over their shoulders, plus (4) the cooperation of another set of Republicans and Democrats — the officials at the post-elections canvass, plus (5) the blind eyes of the canvass watchers, too. Then you’d still have to jedi-mind trick lawyers, political operatives and state election administrators, all of whom scrub precinct-level returns for aberrant election results, and scrutinize any polling place result that is not in line with what they would have expected, based on current political dynamics and historical election results.

For all of these reasons, when Donald Trump implies that his or her followers need to take the law into their own hands on Election Day, he is horribly manipulating them — inciting them to disrupt the election, and setting them up to break laws and be arrested. Which may be exactly what he wants.
This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t watch the election. We absolutely should. The system depends on it. But pollwatching means signing up, getting trained, understanding the election process and conducting yourself appropriately on Election Day. It doesn’t mean standing menacingly in and around a polling place. That’s not poll watching, that’s voter intimidation.

So as Donald Trump claims that the election is rigged, Republican leaders and lawyers — including Donald Trump’s own lawyers — should speak out against this fantastical nonsense. Public faith and confidence in our voting system and in the integrity of our elections is foundational to the legitimacy of our government. When a presidential candidate — cravenly, disingenuously, in this case — undermines that, he also undermines legitimate efforts to recruit and train election officials and pollwatchers to ensure that this election is free, open, fair and honest.

Ramesh Ponnuru explains the underlying assumptions that lead Obama to believe that conservatives haven't yet proposed any alternatives to Obamacare and wouldn't propose one anyway. He just doesn't understand or won't acknowledge the different starting points that he and conservatives begin from when approaching health care.
But the core problem with his speech was not that he overestimated the merits of Obamacare (as much as I believe that he did). Nor was it the partisan silliness in which the president sometimes indulged. It’s that he refused to acknowledge that conservatives have reasonable disagreements with him about the direction of health-care policy.

Obama believes that only comprehensive insurance policies are real insurance. Conservatives generally believe, by contrast, that people should be free to buy cheaper policies that protect them only from financial catastrophes arising from their health needs.

It’s a difference that leads to others. Obama says that people who are having trouble buying insurance on Obamacare’s exchanges should receive more generous subsidies. The conservative alternative -- relax the regulations that make the insurance unaffordable for them -- is unacceptable to him because it would be a retreat from comprehensiveness.

All of the president’s shows of open-mindedness include similar caveats. He noted that Obamacare allowed state experimentation. But that experimentation is allowed to proceed only if the experiments promise to end with at least as many people having coverage that is at least as comprehensive as what Obamacare delivers. A policy that resulted in more people having catastrophic coverage wouldn’t qualify.

Obama claims that Republicans have offered no alternatives to the health-care law. They have in fact outlined their own far-ranging plans for health policy. But it’s true that they have not offered alternative ways to get just as many people covered as comprehensively as Obamacare does.
The figures about the increases that some people are facing this year are mind-blowing.
HHS also disclosed the premium jumps for a 27-year-old buying the second-cheapest silver plan in individual states. Our condolences for such young people in Arizona, where their premiums will climb by 116%. Likewise for Oklahoma (69%), Tennessee (63%) and Minnesota (59%).
And the news gets worse.
Dwindling choice is another issue.

The total number of HealthCare.gov insurers will drop from 232 this year to 167 in 2017, a loss of 28 percent. (Insurers are counted multiple times if they offer coverage in more than one state. So Aetna, for example, would count once in each state that it participated in.)

Switching insurers may not be simple for patients with chronic conditions.

While many carriers are offering a choice of plan designs, most use a single prescription formulary and physician network across all their products, explained Pearson. "So, enrollees may need to change doctors or drugs when they switch insurers," she said.

Overall, it's shaping up to be the most difficult sign-up season since HealthCare.gov launched in 2013 and the computer system froze up.

Think about how little we've been hearing about Obamacare this election. If Trump had any political sense, he'd be hammering this issue, but he's too busy threatening to sue everyone woman who has come forward to say he touched them appropriately to talk about such issues.

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There have been so many reports of the obscenities that Hillary Clinton unleashes when addressing her security detail that it seems too many to be just one or two disgruntled individuals. And some of these bodyguards have gone on record to describe how she treated them. It really is astounding that anyone in her position would be that rude to anyone else, but that she would talk that way to people committed to giving their lives to protect her just demonstrates what a vile human being she is. For example,
“I’m not voting for Clinton,” Air Force Staff Sergeant Eric Bonner posted on Facebook in July.

“It’s because she actually talked to me once. Almost a sentence,” wrote the Air Force K-9 handler. “I got to do a few details involving Distinguished Visitors.”

“One of my last details was for Hillary when she was Secretary of State,” Bonner continued. “I helped with sweeps of her DV quarters and staff vehicles. Her words to me?”

According to Bonner, Clinton told him, “Get that f***ing dog away from me.”

“Then she turns to her security detail and berates them up and down about why that animal was in her quarters,” Bonner added. “For the next 20 minutes, while I sit there waiting to be released, she lays into her detail, slamming the door in their faces when she’s done. The Detail lead walks over, apologizes, and releases me. I apologize to him for getting him in trouble. His words, ‘Happens every day, Brother.’”

“Hillary doesn’t care about anyone but Hillary.”
There are quite a few other examples. It's not quite the grandmotherly image that she tries to project these days. But the fact that she has strong enough control to keep that part of her personality hidden from public view for all these years demonstrates that she could have kept it hidden even from the Secret Service agents. But she just figures it isn't worth it and, when private, lets her contempt, arrogance and F-bombs fly.

Does this make any sense to anyone outside the Obama administration?
The Obama administration is forging a pathway for Iran to purchase American-made airliners that are likely to be converted for use in the Islamic Republic’s military, drawing concerns on Capitol Hill amid a flurry of recent attacks by Iranian-backed forces on U.S. military assets in the Middle East, according to conversations with lawmakers and fleet information obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

Iran recently announced that it had struck deals with the U.S. Boeing airline manufacturer and France’s AirBus that would permit the companies to transfer technology and provide training to help the Islamic Republic produce equipment that would strengthen its aging fleet of American-made planes.

The fatal mistake that Samsung made about the Galaxy Note was misdiagnosing what the problem was causing it to catch on fire. They thought it was the battery, but it wasn't and they still haven't identified the problem.

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Here's a handy list of corrupt connections between the Clinton Foundation and questionable foreign donors.
These countries include states accused of human rights violations, economic interests in decisions by Clinton’s Department of State, and countries Clinton has pledged to confront if elected president.

This is Trump's idea of a defense against the latest accusation of sexually inappropriate behavior.
Donald J. Trump on Monday disparaged the latest woman to accuse him of touching her inappropriately, derisively calling her a “porn star” and saying sarcastically, “Oh, I’m sure she’s never been grabbed before.”

The comment was a response to the accuser, the adult film actress Jessica Drake, who over the weekend accused Mr. Trump of groping and kissing her without her permission in 2006. He also, she said, offered her $10,000 to go to his hotel room.
Can you believe that this guy isn't winning the woman's vote? He's such a charmer. It's as if his id is out in the open and the one showing up at rallies. His superego might come out for a few minutes in debates, but he can't keep his id from taking over.

Harry Enten analyzes what went wrong for Gary Johnson. His numbers have been fading just as most third-party candidates do as we get closer to the election. And he's had a few embarrassing gaffes about foreign policy. I wonder how a more substantive libertarian candidate would have done. Johnson just comes across as goofy. His advocacy of marijuana legalization doesn't help when he seems rather clueless on foreign policy. I wonder if William Weld would have done better at the top of the ticket. This was the one year when I've been very open to voting for the Libertarian candidate, but I'm just not finding Johnson any more appealing than just writing in a name that won't count or leaving the top of the ticket blank.

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If you've been feeling depressed about America these days, here is an attempt by Canadians to cheer us up by telling us how great they think America is. It's sweet, but I'm still depressed.

And this Jim Geraghty column illustrates why, even beyond the atrocious choice we've been presented with, this has been such a depressing election season. Too many people have taken the opportunity of this election to behave in an ugly manner unbefitting of this great country.
Let’s start with the violence. A GOP office was firebombed in North Carolina. A threatening if ultimately non-hazardous white powder was sent to Hillary Clinton’s campaign headquarters in Brooklyn. There were violent attacks on Trump supporters in what was accurately called a riot in San Jose in June. There were headlocks and punches thrown at a Clinton rally in Charlotte. Anonymous death threats have been depressingly common. Some cretin sent a video of a strobe light to a reporter with epilepsy.

Even when the hostility is confined to threats rather than actual violence, it’s an un-American infringement upon the rights of others to speak their mind and peaceably assemble. In Minneapolis, “some fundraiser attendees were pushed and jostled, spit on and verbally harassed as they left the ­convention center.” In Denver, “a man grabbed pro-Trump bumper stickers from a woman selling them outside the city’s convention center, ripped some and threw them in her face.”

In this atmosphere of perpetually frothing disdain, our friends and neighbors who disagree aren’t merely mistaken; they’ve taken a stand that requires anonymous or not so anonymous vigilante deterrence. An Iowa cop took pictures of himself mooning and pointing a gun at a Hillary Clinton campaign sign. In Waco, Texas, a Democratic couple found their Hillary Clinton signs defaced and “Benghazi,” “NO. TO. Corruption,” “Lies,” “NO Trust,” and “You Are Wrong” spray-painted on the sidewalk outside their home. In the Baltimore suburbs, “large Trump signs have been burned, ripped and vandalized.” A Democratic state house candidate in Michigan was caught stealing campaign signs of his Republican opponent.
I'm about to start teaching the unit on the Constitutional Convention to my Government class. I find the contrast overwhelmingly disheartening.