Thursday, November 10, 2016

Cruising the Web

Well, now that everyone has been gracious for 24 hours, how long will that last? Is President Obama going to spend his post-presidency traveling around criticizing the new president? Will Donald Trump drop the graceful pose he adopted in the wake of his victory and start responding in nasty fashion to all the criticism opponents are going to fling his way? He never has demonstrated the ability to turn the over cheek and rise above such criticisms. What happens when his agenda isn't in accord with what the Republican leadership in Congress wants to get to work on? Who knows, but it sure is going to be an interesting time.

Rich Lowry writes
that the Democrats have reaped a bit of what they have sown. They emptied their barrels in attacking Trump, but these were similar to attacks Democrats have been making for the last few elections about Republicans. They've been crying wolf and perhaps people just tune it out.
The Republican nominee for president is a racist, sexist threat to American democracy — and this time, we really mean it.

In a nutshell, this is the Democratic argument against Donald Trump. In a wild, topsy-turvy political year, it is the one exceedingly familiar piece of the political landscape — because it is a version of the argument the Left makes against every Republican nominee.

That this line of attack is so shopworn, just when Democrats think we need it most, has led to self-reflection and regret from one of the harshest commentators on the left. The HBO host Bill Maher said the other day that “liberals made a big mistake” when they attacked George W. Bush “like he was the end of the world,” and did the same thing to Mitt Romney and John McCain.

Maher himself was a prime offender, with no hesitation about resorting to Nazi analogies (he compared Romney’s aides to Adolf Hitler’s dead-end loyalists, and Laura Bush to Hitler’s dog).

Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have been touring the country saying that Trump isn’t like past Republican nominees, even though they were attacked in exactly the same terms.

George W. Bush was a man of deep faith who did all he could to reach out to minorities and soften conservatism’s edge. Yet right out of the gate in 2000, the NAACP ran an ad accusing him of being all but complicit in a hideous racist murder in Texas. His botched handling of Hurricane Katrina wasn’t portrayed as a mistake in trying circumstances, but of his disregard for black people. He was called a fascist, a war criminal, and a would-be theocrat.

Obama now says Romney was only “wrong on certain policy issues.” This is rank revisionism. His campaign’s entire approach in 2012 was to disqualify Romney as a person, basically for being too coldbloodedly rational and prim and proper (i.e., the opposite of Trump).

Romney was not, as an Obama ad put it, “one of us.” He basically killed people with his heartless layoffs. He posed a real and present danger to Latinos with his policy of “self-deportation.” He was waging a “war on women.” One prominent piece of evidence for Romney’s unhinged sexism was his entirely anodyne, if awkward, comment that he asked for “binders full of women” when making appointments as governor of Massachusetts.

Harry Reid infamously alleged, with no evidence whatsoever, that Romney didn’t pay taxes for a decade. When the Republican candidate released his returns, it turned out he had overpaid. And so it went.
For all the pretense Democrats make now of admiring Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, they were quite ugly in their attacks against those two presidents at the time.
Genuinely alarmed by Trump, Bill Maher apparently realizes how tinny it sounds to lodge against him all the accusations routinely made against any other Republican. It was just a couple of years ago that Paul Ryan – an earnest policy wonk who operates in the inclusive style of the late Jack Kemp – was attacked as a racist for commenting on men not working in troubled inner-city neighborhoods.

If this isn’t crying wolf, what is? Confronted with Trump, Democrats don’t have any radioactive denunciations in reserve. They have all been deployed against a couple of generations of Republicans whose politics and characters were starkly different than Trump’s. And will surely be deployed once again – the charges never change, just the target.

While people point out that it seems that Donald Trump will have garnered fewer votes than either John McCain and Mitt Romney, Tim Alberta looks at the numbers in some of the states that Trump turned red to see how his vote compared to Barack Obama's 2012 vote totals. His conclusion is that Trump would have carried all of Romney's state and that his vote totals in Florida, Pennsylvania, and Ohio in 2016 surpassed Obama's vote totals in 2012.
A review of the Romney 2012 states confirms that Trump, in this hypothetical matchup, would have carried every single one against Obama.

It doesn’t matter that Obama would have trounced Trump by nearly 300,000 votes in Michigan; by more than 200,000 in Wisconsin; by 175,000 in Virginia; and by 160,000 in Colorado. It’s similarly meaningless that Obama would have narrowly defeated Trump in Iowa, Nevada, and New Hampshire. The 44th president carried all of those states in 2012, and in this hypothetical contest, he would successfully defend all of them. But it wouldn’t be enough.

The electoral college would produce a razor-thin margin: Trump 273, Obama 265.

Again, this is an apples-to-oranges exercise. It’s impossible to know how the Obama campaign might have targeted certain voters in a contest against Trump, or whether Trump would have the same success in the three big battleground states against a more formidable opponent. But that’s not the point here; the point is that it’s not entirely fair to blame Clinton for depressing Democratic turnout when she ran even with him in five of the country’s most competitive states and ahead of him in a sixth, Florida, the single biggest swing state — and still lost the electoral college.

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Can you imagine Chuck Schumer showing a similar respect for tradition if he were facing a victorious Hillary Clinton and a Democratic majority in the Senate?
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell hinted Wednesday that he doesn't support the controversial idea of changing Senate rules to kill Democratic filibusters, and instead indicated that this move might be seen as an overreach by Republicans.

When Democrats ran the Senate, they changed the rules to allow for simple majority votes for judicial nominees, but not Supreme Court nominees, which can still be filibustered. But despite speculation that Republicans will take this next step, McConnell indicated some resistance to it when asked.

He said "overreaching after an election, generally speaking, is a mistake." And when pressed on McConnell's approach to working with Democrats in the new Senate, McConnell said the way the chamber is structured requires "some Democratic participation and cooperation."
I wonder how long McConnell's philosophical opposition to following Harry Reid's example of using the nuclear option to get rid of the filibuster for nominations will last if Democrats' filibustering a conservative nominee from President Trump. The Democrats will feel justified given the Republicans' blocking of Merrick Garland's nomination and the words by some Republicans that they would vote to block any Clinton nominees to the Court. If I were McConnell, I'd be talking to Schumer and trying to convince him that it would be better not to filibuster a Trump nominee than to have the filibuster nuked by Republicans in the Senate. Whether such an approach would work is doubtful. I suspect we'll be seeing the end of the filibuster on Supreme Court nominees in the next year. And the Democrats will have been the ones who showed how to do this.

Kevin Williamson writes
that there is just too much wealth in Washington, D.C.
We know what drives California’s lifestyles of the rich and famous: technology, and for that we are grateful, which is why people admired Steve Jobs even though he was as much of a hard-assed capitalist as Henry Ford or J. P. Morgan. We know what drives New York City, too: finance, to no small degree, but also advertising, publishing, media, and fashion. Maybe you do not admire those industries as much as you do Silicon Valley’s technology innovators: Nobody says you have to, but those Wall Street jerks and book-peddlers and fashionistas do perform a useful — and, indeed, irreplaceable — role in the modern economy. Miami is doing well, too, and we know what drives that economy, too — the DEA is no doubt on the case. (Kidding! But not entirely kidding.) Houston has an economy that makes sense when you understand it, and so do Los Angeles, Chicago, and Denver.

What drives Washington?

One thing that drives the capital and its environs is those very large federal paychecks, which now amount to about $90,000 a year in money wages and just under $125,000 a year in total compensation. Washington pay has long been above the national average, but it is pulling away. In 2000, the median compensation for an American worker at large was about 74 percent of the median compensation for a federal employee; today, the average working taxpayer makes only 55 percent of what the average federal tax-eater makes. Our would-be class warriors talk about “transfers of wealth” and “transfers of income” when they mean mere changes in those metrics, but in this case, there is a literal transfer, with the most fearsome agency of the federal government — our corrupt and politicized IRS — raiding our households and businesses to support $1,000-a-night La Tur habits in Washington...

The problem is that if you add up everything legitimate Washington does in the way of keeping the peace, securing property, and enforcing contracts, you can account for — if you’re really generous – maybe 20 percent of federal spending, which is the real measure of federal activity. The rest is straight-up transfer of income and wealth from one political constituency to another and a whole lot of Harry Reid cowboy-poetry festivals and research involving getting monkeys high on cocaine. All that money sloshing through the pipes creates conditions where it is easy — and irresistible — to siphon a little off, legally and or otherwise. And that is why you see Hill staffers who put in ten years at modestly-paid jobs and then go to work at lobby shops that pay them enough to drive a Bentley and live in one of those horrifying weird $3 million suburban piles in Arlington.

Trump got his money the respectable way: from his daddy. Mrs. Clinton got hers the Washington way: by renting access to political power. Talk that “drain the swamp” talk all you like, that isn’t changing without deep and wide-ranging reform that will require both presidential and, especially, congressional cojones of the sort not often enough found in Washington, where life is lived splendidly, for the moment..
Robert Tracinski explores how Barack Obama led to Trump's victory. For one thing, there weren't better Democrats to win the nomination.
The fact is that the Democratic Party had a terrible roster of big-name political talent. The tragedy for Republicans is that they won this year with their worst candidate. The tragedy for Democrats is that they lost because they had no better candidate to offer. But why didn’t they? A lot of this has to do with Barack Obama’s unexpected victory in the 2008 Democratic primaries.

Obama defeated Hillary Clinton in 2008 by moving the Democrats to the left. He told them that they didn’t have to accept the compromises and pragmatic “triangulation” of the old Clinton administration. He swept them up in the belief in an idealistic leader who would pursue the full agenda of the left. His success swept away the last remnants of the old Democratic Leadership Caucus that had urged compromise and accommodation with the Reagan agenda.

The consequence of this is that the only viable alternative to Hillary Clinton was someone who opposed her from the far left, while an old-fashioned conservative Democrat like Jim Webb seemed obsolete and out of place. This, in turn, made it possible for Donald Trump to sweep away the votes of the blue-collar “Reagan Democrats” with no real resistance.
We can't ignore how Obama's policies have, over the past eight years, decimated Democrats at both the federal and state level. And his signature policy achievement, Obamacare, has served to catalyze Republican opposition and victories.
To pass Obamacare, President Obama sacrificed his party’s congressional majority, on the assumption that the program would prove overwhelmingly popular once it was in place. In reality, Obamacare has vindicated all of its critics’ dire warnings, with a new round of double-digit premium hikes hitting just before Election Day this year.
Obama failed in what many hoped his election would bring in - the end to racial politics. Instead he embraced it.
So we saw President Obama pass up every opportunity to be a calming and uniting figure in racial controversies from the Beer Summit to Trayvon Martin to Ferguson to Black Lives Matter. While he quietly demurred to the idea that all of his critics must be racists, he didn’t exactly go out of his way to discourage his supporters from making that argument.

It’s not just that Hillary Clinton couldn’t replicate Obama’s mobilization of minority voters. (It appears, against all logic and reason, that Donald Trump got a higher percentage of the black and Hispanic vote than the earnest, innocuous Mitt Romney.) Even worse, the Democrats’ constant stoking of racial politics provoked a backlash, often in ugly forms, among blue-collar whites who are tired of being targeted as the enemy—which once again delivered the Reagan Democrats to Trump.

I have been grieved to see increasingly overt racial politics gain a foothold on the right, and I expect the so-called “alt-right” to be insufferable as they claim credit for Trump’s victory. But the left has to do a lot of introspection of their own and come to terms with the way they helped create a mirror image of their own racially charged electoral strategy.
Add in an economy that seemed stagnant to many voters, plus are the diminished posture of the U.S. in the world, and we can understand why some voters would turn to Trump.

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Expect to hear more arguments against the Electoral College and talk about how, for the second time this century, the winner of the popular vote lost the election because of that crazy Electoral College. Jonathan Adler explains why such arguments shouldn't matter. We can't know how candidates would have campaigned differently if they were working for a popular vote rather than an Electoral College victory.
In the election concluded Tuesday, Hillary Clinton received more popular votes than Trump. This does not mean, however, that Clinton would necessarily have prevailed in an election that was determined solely by the popular vote. This is because the popular vote total is itself a product of the electoral college system. As a consequence, we do not know what the result would have been under a popular vote system, let alone whether Clinton would have prevailed.

The reason for this is because the electoral college system encourages the campaigns (and their surrogates and allies) to concentrate their efforts on swing states — those states in which the electoral votes are up for grabs — at the expense of those states in which one party or the other has no meaningful chance to prevail. The presidential campaigns make no meaningful effort to turn out votes in populous, but non-competitive states such as California, New York and Texas. There is no advantage to running up the score in a state that is solidly in one camp, nor is there much benefit in trying to drive up turnout in pursuit of a hopeless cause. So, for instance, a GOP campaign would invest little in trying to drive up the vote total in Texas or reducing the margin by which its candidate loses in New York or California, and ditto the Democratic campaign in reverse. Under a popular-vote system, on the other hand, every vote in every state would count equally, and campaigns would be likely to devote substantial resources driving up turnout in these same states. We don’t have any particularly reliable guide as to what vote tallies such efforts would produce. Voter knowledge as to whether they are in a competitive state may also effect voter behavior, such as the willingness to support a third-party candidate or to cast a protest vote, further altering the result we would see under a different system.

What all this means is that when the popular vote is reasonably close — as it was this year, as it was in 2000 and 2004 — we cannot say with confidence that the candidate who won the popular vote under the electoral college system would also have won the popular vote under a popular-vote system. It’s possible, but anything but certain. So while it’s true that Clinton won the majority of popular votes cast, we don’t know that she was actually the candidate voters would have picked were we to rely on the popular vote.

Jonathan Adler writes to dismiss the talk about Clinton being the winner of the popular vote.

Here are some of the arguments in favor of the Electoral College.
The purpose of the Electoral College is to balance voting power across states so no one region of the country can gain too much control. If a president is elected by a simple majority of votes, a candidate who is wildly popular in one region (e.g., Ted Cruz in Texas, Mitt Romney in Utah) can ignore smaller regions and campaign only where large majorities are possible. Or a candidate who kills in California and New York can write off “flyover country” completely.

If, however, the Electoral College elects a president, a candidate who is wildly popular in one region must also prevail in a number of sub-elections to win. The Electoral College ensures a better result for the country as a whole than the democratic power play wherein 51 percent of us matter and 49 percent of us don’t.

Think of the Electoral College like the World Series. One person-one vote equates to the World Series Champions being determined by total number of runs scored. If the Dodgers win the first game 10-0, and the Yankees win the next four games 1-0, the Dodgers win the series. Even though the Yankees bested the Dodgers in four games, it doesn’t matter because the Dodgers scored 10 runs to their 4. One anomalous game decides the whole series. Without the Electoral College, a few heavily populated states decide the whole election.

In addition to arguments against the Electoral College, perhaps we'll see more of the sort of argument that Jason Brennan makes in his new book, Against Democracy. Caleb Crain writes in The New Yorker in his review of Brennan's book,
Brennan calls people who don’t bother to learn about politics hobbits, and he thinks it for the best if they stay home on Election Day. A second group of people enjoy political news as a recreation, following it with the partisan devotion of sports fans, and Brennan calls them hooligans. Third in his bestiary are vulcans, who investigate politics with scientific objectivity, respect opposing points of view, and carefully adjust their opinions to the facts, which they seek out diligently. It’s vulcans, presumably, who Brennan hopes will someday rule over us, but he doesn’t present compelling evidence that they really exist. In fact, one study he cites shows that even people with excellent math skills tend not to draw on them if doing so risks undermining a cherished political belief. This shouldn’t come as a surprise. In recent memory, sophisticated experts have been confident about many proposals that turned out to be disastrous—invading Iraq, having a single European currency, grinding subprime mortgages into the sausage known as collateralized debt obligations, and so on.

How would an epistocracy actually work? Brennan is reluctant to get specific, which is understandable. It was the details of utopia that gave Plato so much trouble, and by not going into them Brennan avoids stepping on the rake that thwacked Plato between the eyes. He sketches some options—extra votes for degree holders, a council of epistocrats with veto power, a qualifying exam for voters—but he doesn’t spend much time considering what could go wrong. The idea of a voter exam, for example, was dismissed by Brennan himself in “The Ethics of Voting” as “ripe for abuse and institutional capture.” There’s no mention in his new book of any measures that he would put in place to prevent such dangers.

Without more details, it’s difficult to assess Brennan’s proposal. Suppose I claim that pixies always make selfless, enlightened political decisions and that therefore we should entrust our government to pixies. If I can’t really say how we’ll identify the pixies or harness their sagacity, and if I also disclose evidence that pixies may be just as error-prone as hobbits and hooligans, you’d be justified in having doubts.
Expect to hear such comments as liberals note that Trump's success rested on whites with no college education. Just as Remain voters derided the result of Brexit because its supporters were more likely to not have a college education, expect to hear derision for Trump's supporters. I heard a bit of that yesterday as we discussed the election in my classes with remarks about how Trump won the "redneck" or the "hillbilly" vote. Such contempt for a demographic group would be unacceptable for minorities without a college education who voted for a Democrat.

Arthur C. Brooks writes of those voters who were so dissatisfied that they took a chance on voting for Trump.
Too many Americans have lost pride in themselves. We sense dignity by creating value with our lives, through families, communities, and especially work. That is why American leaders so frequently talk about dignity in the context of labor. As Martin Luther King Jr. taught, “All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.” Conversely, nothing destroys dignity more than idleness and a sense of superfluousness—the feeling that one is simply not needed.

That is the circumstance in which millions of Americans find themselves today. Best-selling books over the past few years such as Charles Murray’s “Coming Apart” and J.D. Vance’s “Hillbilly Elegy” tell the story. The U.S. is bifurcating into a nation of economic winners and losers, and this distinction is seeping into American culture. The dignity gap grows every time those who lose out start hearing, “We don’t need you anymore.”

Who falls on the wrong side of this dignity gap? These days it is working-class men. In his new book “Men Without Work,” my colleague Nick Eberstadt shows that between 1965 and 2015 the percentage of working-aged men outside the workforce increased to 22% from 10%. Many millions more are underemployed. The employment-to-population ratio for men aged 25-54 is 6.8% lower today than it was in 1930, in the teeth of the Great Depression.

These secular trends were amplified by the nonrecovery that most Americans experienced after the Great Recession. Only about the top fifth of the economy saw positive income growth for most of the Obama presidency, Census Bureau data show, while most others averaged no growth at all. This stagnation has decimated middle-aged men without a college education, especially in rural areas.

Men without work are much less likely than working men to be married with families, Mr. Eberstadt also shows, further compounding the problem. Does modern society tell many working-class men they are needed and valued as husbands and fathers? This question answers itself.

Life without dignity can produce shocking results. In a 2015 paper, Princeton economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton showed that the mortality rates of middle-aged American whites have actually increased since 1999. They are the only demographic group for whom this is true. The main reasons? Cirrhosis of the liver (up 50% since 1999 among this group), suicide (up 78%), and poisonings due to drugs and alcohol (up 323%). These trends are mostly driven by those with less education.
So many of us, myself included, barely acknowledged the concerns of this group of people. But something in Trump's bluster appealed to them. My worry is that, after the surprise of his victory wears off that and he sets down to govern, that little will change for them. And this brief moment of hope will fizzle as it has too often in the past.

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I don't have much confidence in the media rethinking its liberal bias. But here is a rather surprising essay from Jim Brady, the ombudsman at ESPN about the liberal bias in that network. Who knew that ESPN had an ombudsman? He points out the growing politicization of ESPN coverage.
For most of its history, ESPN was viewed relatively apolitically. Its core focus was -- and remains today, of course -- sports. Although the nature of sports meant an occasional detour into politics and culture was inevitable, there wasn’t much chatter about an overall perceived political bias. If there was any tension internally, it didn’t manifest itself publicly.

That has changed in the past few years, and ESPN staffers cite several factors. One is the rise of social media, which has led to more direct political commentary by ESPN employees, even if not delivered via the network’s broadcast or digital pipes. Another is ESPN's increase in debate-themed shows, which encourage strong opinions that are increasingly focusing on the overlap between sports and politics.

There have also been concrete actions that have created a perception that ESPN has chosen a political side, such as awarding Caitlyn Jenner the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the 2015 ESPYS despite her not having competed athletically for decades, the company’s decision to move a golf tournament away from a club owned by presidential candidate Donald Trump and a perceived inequity in how punishments for controversial statements were meted out.
While ESPN might brag about their support for diversity, they have a similar lack of diversity that exists in much of the media.
Inside ESPN, however, some feel the lack of tolerance of a particular political philosophy is a problem.

"We've done a great job of diversity,” said longtime ESPN anchor Bob Ley. “But the one place we have miles to go is diversity of thought."

Many ESPN employees I talked to -- including liberals and conservatives, most of whom preferred to speak on background -- worry that the company’s politics have become a little too obvious, empowering those who feel as if they’re in line with the company’s position and driving underground those who don’t.

“If you’re a Republican or conservative, you feel the need to talk in whispers,” one conservative ESPN employee said. “There’s even a fear of putting Fox News on a TV [in the office].”

But Jemele Hill, co-host of ESPN2’s His & Hers, isn’t buying that. “I would challenge those people who say they feel suppressed,” she said. “Do you fear backlash, or do you fear right and wrong?”
See, that's the problem. If you regard your opinions as right and the other side's as wrong, why would you tolerate their expression?
One liberal ESPN contributor sees the issue as one not of inclusion but of exclusion, saying, “I'm concerned about the inclination for condemnation rather than conversation when unpopular ideas are spoken. I'm glad to see athletes acting as activists again. But it should be clear that in almost all cases they're not taking risky stances... What about athletes and commentators who don't swim that way, whether the issues are gay rights, transgender rights or opposition to abortion? ESPN has an issue -- not a mess, but an issue -- with saying it wants to stay apolitical but also actively promoting itself as a progressive platform.”
Perhaps it is a pipe dream to imagine sports being totally divorced from politics. As Brady points out, there have been many key moments when there has been an overlap between athletes and political issues and cultural change.
But the separation of sports and politics has always been a fantasy. Sports has frequently served as a vehicle for positive social change. Whether it’s Jackie Robinson, Billie Jean King, Jesse Owens, Muhammad Ali, the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team, John Carlos, Tommie Smith, Pat Tillman or Colin Kaepernick, history is full of athletes who made an impact that extended beyond their athletic accomplishments.

The idea of sports as escapism, while understandable, increasingly feels like a relic of the past. Athletes are taking more frequent and stronger stands on political and social topics. Health issues relating to on-field play are increasingly important to many fans -- not to mention to the leagues themselves. Off-the-field criminal behavior or drug use isn’t just news because it happens; it’s also news because it frequently affects a player’s ability to compete.
Should a media outlet like ESPN ignore such issues when prominent politicians are involved? Probably not, even though I would truly like to use sports as my escapist outlet. I'm so sick of everything in this country becoming politicized. I don't want to encounter politics when I am just trying to enjoy myself watching TV and movies or listening to music or following sports. One comfort with the election's results are that we saw that all those celebrity endorsements and rock stars providing concerts weren't enough to compensate for the lack of enthusiasm for Hillary Clinton. She could hold a midnight concert in Raleigh on the night before the election with Jon Bon Jovi and Lady Gaga that had people waiting in lines for over three hours (as one of my students told me), but all it did was entertain those people already supporting her. It didn't win over other voters.

The RNC now wants everyone to know that they weren't so behind with their data efforts and GOTV work as was commonly perceived in the media. Just because the Trump campaign didn't have much going for it on this front, the RNC picked up the slack.
The RNC and Parscale’s operation worked with Cambridge Analytica’s Oczkowski, who arrived in San Antonio in mid-June, to help build a SQL (structured query language) database that collected the data being gathered by the RNC’s digital advertising and email fundraising, as well as 14 to 18 custom models of the electorate built by Cambridge. Parscale named this Project Alamo.

The Trump campaign also relied for their get-out-the-vote (GOTV) effort on the RNC’s analytical models of each battleground state, built on top of the RNC’s voter file.
Cambridge’s models were used for digital persuasion efforts, though not for mail or phones, Parscale told Yahoo News. This was because, while the RNC had spent years trying to identify as many generic Republican voters across the country as possible, Trump was attracting a different kind of person: sporadic or unreliable voters disillusioned with politics in general and with both political parties. That was the kind of voter that Cambridge had focused on identifying in the electorate and was the focus of the voter universe models it built.

The RNC’s data analytics operation, along with the data from Cambridge, gave the Trump campaign a more sophisticated sense of which voters it should be targeting. Trump on his own was not able to do much to make use of this information. He invested very little in hiring state-based staff to build out a ground game.

The RNC, however, did have a more robust ground organizing effort than it did in 2012. Four years ago, it had put 876 staff in a dozen battleground states. By the end of the 2016 cycle, there were 3,068 RNC paid field staff working to organize volunteers, and almost another 3,000 organizers in training under the RNC’s Republican Leadership Institute.

Trump did transfer $50 million to the RNC through their joint fundraising agreement, which helped to pay for field staff. That was almost $100 million less than the $140 million Romney transferred to the RNC in 2012.

Trump still ended up spending less than half of what Hillary spent.
Relying heavily on an unorthodox mix of social media, unfiltered rhetoric, and a knack for winning free TV time, the New York real estate magnate likely paid less than $5 per vote during his insurgent White House bid, about half what Clinton paid, according to a Reuters analysis of campaign finance records and voting data.

Those figures assume the candidates spent all the funds they raised.

Trump's cost-effective win has upended prevailing concepts about the influence of money in American politics and raised the question of whether a lean, media-savvy campaign can become the new model for winning office in the United States.
I don't think we're going to see another perfect storm that produced Donald Trump and let him monopolize media coverage without spending much money while opposing an unprecedentedly unpopular candidate.

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Ah, the hypocrisy is rich. The Obama administration is reduced to pleading with President-Elect Trump not to rescind Obama's executive orders.
President Obama has described Donald Trump as ignorant, dangerous and unfit to lead the nation, but he’ll ask the Republican president-elect Thursday not to wipe out his cherished, legacy-
making executive actions on everything from the Iranian nuclear deal to Obamacare.
In a meeting at the White House to prepare Mr. Trump for taking office, Mr. Obama will try to persuade the president-elect to honor what his aides call a “tradition” of preserving executive actions implemented by the departing chief executive.

“There is a tradition, particularly with regard to executive agreements of successive presidents preserving some element of continuity,” said White House press secretary Josh Earnest. “I don’t know whether or not that will apply in this case. But as a part of this effective, smooth transition, President Obama will have an opportunity to talk to President-elect Trump about some of the benefits of these policies.”

Mr. Trump campaigned on promises of repealing the Affordable Care Act, ripping up Mr. Obama’s international climate change agreement to curb carbon emissions and tossing out his free trade agreement with Pacific Rim nations and scaling back the executive order granting deportation amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants, among others. He has said his top priority is “to dismantle the disastrous deal with Iran” that lifted international economic sanctions in return for limits on Tehran’s nuclear programs.
Hmmm. Journey back with me to the days after President Obama took the oath of office in 2009. What was one of the very first things that he did? Yup, he reversed some of President Bush's executive orders.
President Obama reversed the most disputed counterterrorism policies of the Bush administration on Thursday, declaring that “our ideals give us the strength and moral high ground” in the fight against Al Qaeda. But Mr. Obama postponed for months decisions on complex questions the United States has been grappling with since the terrorist attacks of 2001.

Mr. Obama signed executive orders closing the detention camp at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, within a year; ending the Central Intelligence Agency’s secret prisons; and requiring all interrogations to follow the noncoercive methods of the Army Field Manual.

“We intend to win this fight,” he said. “We are going to win it on our own terms.”

His actions on the second full day of his presidency won praise from human rights groups and Democrats in Congress, who said the new policies would help restore the United States’ moral authority. Mr. Obama invited to the signing ceremony 16 retired generals and admirals who had spoken out against what they called torture. Their passionate appeal to end harsh interrogations “made an extraordinary impression on me,” he said.

Scott Wheeler reminds us of how the Chinese government did their best to get Clinton elected and reelected and how he rewarded them. I'd almost forgotten about some of the details of this story.
Those attempts to influence elections involved agents from communist China who sought to help Bill Clinton get re-elected in 1996 by donating millions of dollars illegally to Clinton and the Democratic National Committee. Clinton's relationship with the Chinese goes back prior to the 1992 election through James Riady, of the Riady banking family of Indonesia and China.

According to congressional investigations that occurred in the late-1990s, the Riady family made illegal donations to Clinton's 1992 campaign and wielded influence over U.S. policy toward China. During the 1992 campaign, Clinton was a harsh critic of then-President George H. W. Bush for what he called "coddling the butchers of Beijing."

But video later turned up in a 1999 documentary, "Trading with the Enemy: How the Clinton Administration Armed China," that shows surreptitiously recorded video of a Clinton associate in China in October of 1992, with a letter from then-Gov. Clinton. That associate, Yah Lin "Charlie" Trie, is seen telling government officials in China that Bill Clinton "wants to invest in China."
And what did the Chinese get for their investment?
From the moment Clinton took office in January 1993, he decontrolled advanced strategic weapons technology to China over the objections of his own Department of Defense Export Control Regime, and his own director of central intelligence. Those practices continued through the 1996 election and represented a drastic change from his bellicose words for China in the 1992 campaign for which he cited their atrocious record on "human rights," and their proliferation of "dangerous weapons technology" — weapons technology that was far less dangerous than what Clinton provided them.

The Chinese reciprocated by pouring millions of dollars in illegal campaign donations and even contributed to Clinton's Personal Legal Expense Trust Fund through multiple sources that were identified by congressional and FBI investigations to have come from high level Chinese intelligence agents. House and Senate investigations of what became known as the "China/Democratic National Committee Fundraising Scandal" turned up startling details of how deep the Chinese penetration of the Clinton administration was. All of this was documented in congressional reports on the subject and by nearly every major news agency as well as in the documentary "Trading with the Enemy."