Thursday, November 03, 2016

Cruising the Web

Wow! That was a moment well worth waiting for. What a tense, strange, and exciting game. What a respite from a political season that has been about all that is ugly in this country to turn to a bunch of guys reversing 108 years of history. And that game was such a team effort - everyone contributed. I'd been so nervous for the Cubs facing the supposedly invincible pitching of the Indians. And since the Cubs won, we won't be hearing recriminations and criticisms of Joe Maddon's moves of playing Chapman too much in Game 6 and taking out Hendricks too early to put in Lester. And then the errors that had them blowing their lead. Ooh, that hurt. What a roller-coaster of emotions that was last night.

Though I still don't get how a pitcher of Lester's caliber can't learn how to throw to first. I spend a lot of my time listening to sports podcasts, particularly for the NBA, and there is always discussion of what the top players are working on during the off-season to improve the weaker parts of their games. Why doesn't he work on getting over his phobia about throwing to the bases?

I can remember as a kid growing up near Chicago going to Cubs games and seeing Ernie Banks and Ron Santo in person and reading the box score every morning. I stopped following baseball as I grew up, but rediscovered it this year as a distraction from politics after the NBA season ended. And now I'm so extremely happy. And very, very tired. Daylights Saving Time should have fallen back last night.

Draymond Green sympathizes with Cleveland.

Now we can stop with all those marveling facts about what was going on in 1908 when the Cubs last won. I'm all for history, but everyone knows that the world has changed a lot in the past 108 years; we didn't need to keep hearing all that. After all, as I heard on the radio today, this victory could indeed be the greatest thing since sliced bread which happened 20 years after the Cubs last won a World Series.

And now it's time for the Apocalypse.

And since 538 had decided a few days ago that the Cubs had a smaller chance of winning after going down 3 to 1 than Trump did of winning the election, does that mean Trump is now going to win?

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Ben Shapiro notes how the left's attitude toward Clinton's email scandal has changed. They were willing to acknowledge the scandal when she was running against Sanders, especially since Sanders refused to criticize her. They cheered Comey when he left her off the hook in the summer.
Then, like a zombie rising from the dead, E-mailgate returned: twice as brutal, twice as ugly, and twice as unkillable.

It’s too late in the election cycle to ward off E-mailgate with some tut-tutting or a wave of the hand. This election is too close for Democrats to simply acknowledge Hillary’s corruption, then vote for her in order to stop Trump.

No, they must blind themselves to Hillary’s corruption utterly, and blind others to it as well. They must spray lye in the eyes of the public to protect Hillary’s lies. And so the Left have declared their new enemies: James Comey, and supposed sexism.
So they have to demonize Comey or the fact that she's a woman.
Lakoff apparently forgot that this re-investigation exists only began because a man, Anthony Weiner, is under FBI investigation; she apparently forgot that General David Petraeus was punished for similar crimes; she apparently neglects that 91 percent of all prison inmates are men, and that virtually every political scandal in history has targeted a man. But never mind that: Hillary must be shielded, and if her genitalia will serve the cause, so be it!

.... Obviously, Democrats are willing to stand with their candidates, even after those candidates use their interns as humidors or their female friends as car anchors. But that’s what distinguishes Republicans from Democrats historically. And even when Republicans begin to act like Democrats — when we begin to excuse the worst excesses of our candidates in the name of victory — it doesn’t work all that well. Many Republicans still agonize over the foibles and evils of Trump. Many Republicans won’t vote for him. The same doesn’t hold true for Democrats, who may pretend at skepticism but fall into pure godworship the moment the chips are down.

Hillary Clinton isn’t a victim. She created a private server for her own benefit, and she’s been ensnared in her own paranoia and ambition. The fact that Democrats will cling to her sainthood despite that obvious truth demonstrates that Democrats cannot be trusted with power. To the extent that Republicans imitate Democrats, they can’t be trusted with power either.

Yes, at long last, the Left has pulled its anti-Trump card: Hillary has a vagina, and is being targeted for that supposedly debilitating condition.

The attempts to paint E-mailgate as sexism demonstrate the Left’s blindness to Hillary’s flaws. At least we acknowledge Trump’s faults in the GOP — or at least a major segment of us do. The Left’s attempts to pawn off all anti-Hillary scandals as effects of sexism (and Obama’s as effects of racism) are a basic avoidance maneuver.
And if she gets elected and faces resistance from Congressional Republicans, expect the left to paint that opposition as misogynist evil because they refuse to recognize that their leader is a corrupt person or that Republicans might object to her policies and character without caring one whit about her gender.

Damon Linker describes the unfortunate trend we're experiencing these days in which everything has been politicized.
The worst thing about the election of 2016 may well be that it has contributed to the appearance that no one in our political system speaks for the whole, for the common good, for the rule of law — that no one even strives for impartiality, and so everyone (and even "the system" itself) is tainted by corruption.
He points to how Republicans criticized Comey when he recommended against prosecuting Clinton and Democrats praised him and now the situation is reversed.
The point isn't that Comey made no errors in handling the Clinton investigation. It's that no law enforcement official tasked with such an investigation could have passed through the political vortex of a highly polarized presidential election in the age of 24/7 digital news without appearing to play favorites, without looking like a political actor in the guise of an impartial judge. The political stakes are simply too high, the ability to detect, amplify, and publicize microscopic (and perhaps imaginary) signs of bias too easy.

The damage to our civic life is real. The more seemingly impartial public figures are accused of covert bias, the more citizens begin to suspect that everything is political, that no one ever rises above partisan passions. And the more citizens begin to doubt the possibility of rising above partisan passions, the less they try to do so themselves — or to expect any better from public officials. Everyone has a political agenda. No one is fair-minded or concerned with the impartial truth.

When everything is political, nothing is held in common, admired, and understood in the same terms by all. And a nation in which nothing is held in common, admired, and understood in the same terms by all is less a community than an aggregate of warring factions jostling for advantage, striving for a total victory in which those on the other side of the battle are permanently vanquished.

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Andrew Ferguson has a lot of fun exposing the bias in the New YorkTimes' made-up story that James Comey's actions were reminiscent of J. Edgar Hoover.
So what's the Times's case for likening Comey to Hoover, "fairly or not"? (That phrase, fairly or not, is an exquisite touch. It is the Times's famous fairness and balance in action—a lot like Donald Trump's simultaneous commingling of insinuation and denial: "That's just what I'm hearing. I'm not the one saying it.") It turns out the Times's case is pretty thin, which is my balanced way of saying, non-existent.

For some reason, it took two reporters to invent the story. After a brief rehash of Hoover's villainy in the first paragraphs—just in case the reader missed Prof. Pavlov's bell—the third paragraph concludes: "[T]oday, after his second sensational public statement on the FBI's investigation of Hillary Clinton's email, some critics and historians are comparing [Comey] to Hoover."

And then here it comes, exhibit A, an actual quote from a properly certified "critic and/or historian," Sanford Ungar by name, "a Georgetown scholar." What mother doesn't dream of her baby boy someday growing up to be a Georgetown scholar?

"I don't mean to smear Comey," Ungar says, by way of smearing Comey, "and it may be an unfair comparison. But Hoover would weigh in on issues without warning or expectation. I just wonder how Comey sees his role."

This Ungar isn't much of a fire-breather, is he? Certainly not the Savonarola the Times reporters were hoping for. But you work with what you've got. And sadly, as you read along, you realize that Ungar is all they've got. Indeed, his frail, scholarly body must bear the weight of their entire story. And even then, Ungar's only example of the Comey-Hoover resemblance is that both of them "weigh in on issues without warning or expectation." Can they impeach him for that? I'm just asking.

Then the Times's reporters insert the usual "to be sure" paragraph, the journalistic equivalent of the Trumpian denial of responsibility for an accusation he's just made. "The parallels to Hoover," they write, "… may be quite a stretch." They may be a stretch, but there they are—or aren't—on the front page of the Times. "People who know Mr. Comey well dismiss out of hand that he acted to tip the election …"

After seeing all these reports on early voting statistics and comparisons to 2012, it's interesting to read Sean Trende's analysis that early voting numbers are a poor predictor of the final vote.
There are (at least) three reasons this it true. The first is theoretical. We can think of an election result as accurately represented by the following equation: The Democrats’ share of the vote is equal to the Democrats’ share of the early vote times the number of early votes, plus the Democrats’ share of the Election Day vote times the number of Election Day votes.

Even if you don’t have a math degree, you should be able to intuit the gist of the problem: We are missing two of the four variables for the equation, and guessing at a third. All we really know is the number of early votes cast.

Now we might be able to get a sense of how Democrats are performing in the early vote by looking at African-American turnout or overall Democratic turnout (in states with partisan registration), but we can’t know how independents are voting. We might make assumptions about this by looking at public polling, but then what value are we adding beyond what the public polling says? Plus we’re incorporating the error margins of public polling into our estimates, which will be even greater for demographic subsamples.

The real problem with this, however – and this is true with a lot of early voting analysis – is that for any of this to work we have to assume that the early vote is somehow representative of the Election Day vote in order to fill in the second half of the equation. The problem is, it isn’t. Research suggests that the early vote tends to be comprised of more partisan, higher propensity voters. In the most recent elections, they have often skewed Democratic, most likely as a side effect of increased Democratic emphasis on early voting (compare this with Donald Trump, who has been telling his supporters to vote on Election Day).
What we don't know is if people are shifting their voting from Election Day to early voting so we're not seeing additional voters. That's how I do it. I voted yesterday afternoon, but that's mostly because Tuesday afternoons are late days for me since I have Quiz Bowl practice while I don't have anything after school on Wednesdays. That's just shifting from one day to another. One other aspect why I vote early is because the early voting site is at a public park - Optimist Park (surely, a terrible misnomer for this year's election) - and they have it set up with a nice walk through the woods to get to the entrance for voting. I just love the feeling a taking a nature walk as I prepare to do my civic duty. Even as depressing as I find my choices this year, I walked out of there in a pleasant mood because there is something incredibly positive combining my walk in the woods with the friendliness of all the people volunteering their free time to work the polls.

David Harsanyi writes to refute the statement we hear every election year that this is the "Most important election" in our lifetime.
In fact, when it comes to policy, it’s far more likely that very little will change over the next four years. Perhaps even less than did with the election of Barack Obama, who had two years of one-party rule before Republicans took back Congress. Last year, Businessweek ran a column headlined “Why 2016 May Be the Most Important Election of Our Lifetime.” It, like many other similar pieces, argues that as our politics become more polarized our elections become correspondingly more significant. But our growing divide might be exactly why 2016 turns out to be one of the least important election in our lifetimes.

If providence (or dumb luck) takes mercy on the Constitution, Washington’s gridlock — an organic reflection of the nation’s disposition –will remain the status quo. Actually, what am I talking about: that’s exactly what the Constitution was built to do in a divided nation. The situation will render the next president weaker than most, and somewhat contain his or her authoritarianism and poor judgement.

This kind of frustrating environment is likely to cause more recrimination and, unfortunately, abuses of power that are meant to circumvent the congestion. Still, overall, it’s better than partisan unilateralism. The situation will not change until we find competent people to put into the White House or politicians with ideas that have some crossover appeal. That time is not now.

Of course, none of this is to completely diminish the importance of the presidential election. Obviously, voters are making a decision about the future of governance. Judges are at stake. Foreign policy is made. There are consequences. But if the republic can’t survive a bad executive, then it’s already dead.
I'm teaching the election of 1860 tomorrow; that's the election that brought Abraham Lincoln to the White House and led eventually to 11 states seceding because they didn't like the result. Now there was the most important election of our nation's history. However divided we are today, at least we're not fearing secession and civil war. So let's just relax.

Even Hillary pal and supporter, Claire McCaskill, acknowledges that the FBI probe is legitimate.
Brzezinski asked McCaskill why the email investigation was launched in the first place, not just the recent announcement from Comey.

“The overall investigation exists because there was a legitimate question as to whether or not Hillary Clinton had done something against the law as it related to classified emails,” McCaskill said. “Now they have a few more emails to look at.”
Really? It's not because Comey is the new J. Edgar Hoover?

The New York Times really has changed its view on the filibustering of Supreme Court nominees. Sean Davis reminds us what the NYT wrote back in 2005.

A former federal agent writes about several of the peculiarities of how the FBI conducted the investigation of Clinton's emails.
Why agree to forgo prosecuting potential co-conspirators Cheryl Mills and Huma Abedin — and destroy the computer evidence they possess — before charging them with a crime? That's not the way the process works. In order to build leverage against a criminal conspirator, a federal agent would typically draw up a federal complaint or seek an indictment. Second, an agent would get an arrest warrant from a judge pursuant to a probable cause ruling and then, AFTER THE ARREST, he or she would ask if the arrested individual wished to cooperate, potentially using their cooperation against co-conspirators. Third, if the cooperation is substantive, then a 5k letter is issued to a judge, which indicates the subject's level of cooperation and how that should be considered in sentencing the cooperating defendant. None of that was done in this case. They essentially said to Hillary's co-conspirators, “Help us, pretty please, or else we’ll have to ask you again.”

Why would you allow a co-conspirator in a criminal case to act as a lawyer for another co-conspirator? There is NO attorney-client privilege if the attorney is a part of the investigation. Allowing Cheryl Mills in the room for the questioning of Hillary Clinton when Mills was also part of the investigation allowed both Clinton and Mills the opportunity to coordinate their stories. It's difficult to coordinate a false story if you're questioned separately and that's why we rarely, if ever, put multiple subjects in the same interview room.

Why did FBI Director Comey, along with a number of Clinton campaign surrogates, insist that this investigation wasn’t worthy of prosecution due to a lack of criminal “intent”? The criminal law that Hillary Clinton and her surrogates appear to have violated, 18 USC 793, doesn’t require intent. It requires only “gross negligence” in the improper removing, handling, and transferring of classified information under section (f) of the law. Surely the FBI Director knows this. Surely Clinton’s surrogates, assuming they can read, know this as well. You should be asking yourself: If the FBI Director knows this, then why did he publicly state that the FBI was not recommending prosecution based on misleading information about the elements of the crime in question? Would you get the same deference if you committed these acts? I don’t think so, because I’ve arrested people, and seen them prosecuted, for far less.
All those Democrats now demonizing James Comey should be forced to acknowledge that he conducted a flawed investigation in order to make things easy for Hillary in the first place.

And now President Obama is putting his thumbs on the scale.
Mr. Obama didn’t mention FBI director James Comey by name when asked about the case. But he echoed the Clinton campaign’s rhetoric against Mr. Comey by saying in an interview with NowThis News that, “I do think that there is a norm that when there are investigations, we don’t operate on innuendo and we don’t operate on incomplete information and we don’t operate on leaks. We operate based on concrete decisions that are made.”

He then absolved Mrs. Clinton of wrongdoing, though he can’t possibly know what the new evidence might be. “When this was investigated thoroughly the last time, the conclusion of the FBI, the conclusion of the Justice Department, the conclusion of repeated congressional investigations was that she had made some mistakes but that there wasn’t anything there that was prosecutable,” Mr. Obama said.

Mr. Obama was no doubt signaling voters to ignore the FBI news, but his comments are also a grossly inappropriate intervention in a criminal case. He did the same in October 2015 and April 2016 when he said Mrs. Clinton had no ill intent—precisely the rationale Mr. Comey later used to exonerate Mrs. Clinton. Liberal pundits these days are lamenting the end of political “norms,” but they’d be more credible if they noticed that Mr. Obama is the leading offender.

Andrew McCarthy wonders if there are other private devices out there besides Weiner's that have classified information on them. It's a reasonable question.
Put yourself in the shoes of FBI agents who witness things they’ve never seen before: subjects of the investigation given immunity from prosecution and then allowed to appear as lawyers for other subjects; Justice Department lawyers more accommodating of defense lawyers than of FBI agents; witnesses who lie to the FBI given immunity rather than being arrested and squeezed for cooperation. The agents see the handwriting on the wall that their hard work is going to come to nothing. An agent no doubt asks himself: “Why should I push to acquire this computer? If DOJ wanted me to have it, they’d let me subpoena it; if they wanted to make the case, some of these suspects would already be in cuffs.”

This is an understandable attitude, but it’s not an acceptable one. The FBI is not just the nation’s premier investigative agency; it is also our domestic-security service. Wholly apart from whether a computer contains evidence that can be used to prosecute a case, that computer has become a threat to national security if — as a private device that is not hardened against espionage and operates on networks that are not hardened against espionage — it is likely to contain classified information. Even if no one is indicted, the hacking or dissemination of the intelligence on the computer could damage national security.

The reports of the FBI’s investigation that have been made public indicate that there could be dozens of computers and other communications devices which may be storing classified information, but which the FBI has neither seized nor made plans to try to obtain. If that is true, it is inexplicable. That the Justice Department and senior FBI officials have adopted a theory that undermines prosecution of crimes involving mishandling of intelligence is beside the point.

It also raises another question: Is the Abedin/Weiner laptop the last one? Or will late discoveries continue to rock Camp Clinton and roil our politics?

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Candice Jackson looks at the record of the case from 1975 case in which Clinton defended a man charged with raping a 12-year old girl and beating her so badly she was in a coma for six days. As Jackson shows, Clinton has told different stories about how she came to take this case. But her behavior on the case displays the same sort of behavior we've seen in Clinton for decades - working with cronies behind the scenes to get favorable results.
Newly discovered facts suggest Hillary took this case knowing that she had three allies to assist her: the prosecutor, Judge Cummings, and the judge’s son, all of whom were Democrats pushing a liberal agenda of “rehabilitation, not punishment” for criminals. Cummings and his son, Gordon Cummings, had become early, public supporters and donors of Bill Clinton’s fledgling congressional campaign in 1974, especially supportive of early release and work release for prisoners, policies Bill Clinton promoted in his 1976 run for Arkansas attorney general after losing his 1974 bid for Congress.

Several examples of Hillary’s off-the-books, contrary-to-policy (and possibly illegal) actions in this case have come to light. Gordon Cummings signed the arraignment order filed May 21, 1975, crossing out “denied” to a preliminary hearing requested by the defendant and writing in “granted” after scratching out the name of the initial public defender and writing in “Rodham” as the defendant’s attorney.

The dates don’t match up with the court docket recently discovered in this case, and it suggests that while the public defender represented Taylor, the judge had denied a preliminary hearing, but when Hillary took the case, the judge’s son went back and granted the hearing instead.
Well, that was certainly convenient, wasn't it? And her conduct of her interrogation of the victim is certainly not in accord with her image of fighting for women and children.
Hillary then challenged her client Taylor’s guilt by blaming sixth-grader Kathy for her own rape. Hillary Rodham personally, coldly interrogated Kathy, leaving the young girl wondering why “this woman lawyer doesn’t like me at all.”

Hillary required Kathy to take a lie detector test, then argued Kathy had “failed” because Kathy’s test showed lack of truthfulness on one question: this girl, a virgin at the time of the rape, failed to accurately answer whether “full penetration” had occurred.

Hillary then submitted an affidavit to the court with a motion to force Kathy to undergo a psychiatric evaluation, manufacturing lie after lie including accusing Kathy of exaggerating, seeking out older men like Thomas (then age 41), previously accusing a person of attacking her, fantasizing and romanticizing sexual encounters like this, and being prone to all of this because she came from a “disorganized family” (that is, she was being raised by a single mom).

When an attorney agrees to defend a client—even a guilty client—she still has complete control over whether to employ defense strategies that qualify as unethical, immoral, or illegal. The anti-feminist, blame-the-rape-victim tactics Clinton chose to employ against Shelton were not, at that time in Arkansas, illegal (although they are now outlawed under rape shield laws), but feminists and fair-minded jurists certainly recognized such tactics as unethical and immoral. There were plenty of avenues for zealous representation of this criminal defendant without attacking the young victim.
Clinton tells how she took the defendant's underpants in her purse to an expert scientist on blood evidence and he told her that there wasn't enough to test.
So, as she tells it, Clinton showed up at the scientist’s house and “pulled out my underpants you know, gave it to him and he started analyzing, looking for fibers, you know, magnifying glass and all that stuff. He said, you know, ‘Can’t prove anything!’ Can see a slight trace but it wouldn’t be enough to test, all that.” She then informed the prosecutor this expert was “ready to come from New York to prevent this miscarriage of justice!” This ironic statement is one of several times in the audio interview where Hillary laughs.
In case you're wondering, it's not standard procedure for a defense lawyer to take evidence and stick it in her purse to seek out an expert.
The whole scene she paints is bizarrely out of line with proper procedure and the court’s order in the Taylor case. But the judge and prosecutor didn’t question Hillary’s “blood expert” story or her personal handling of physical evidence in such a casual, irregular manner. Wiener served as a useful cover for Hillary to plea bargain violent rapist Taylor down to a minor charge and let him off with time served.
Is that the behavior of a woman who is always on the side of the victim? She can argue that she was providing the best defense possible for her client but it does seem that she stretched ethical bounds in order to get her client a minimal sentence.

Yup, celebrities only care about everyone getting out and voting if people are going to vote for Democrats.
Many of these pseudo-activist celebrities are cloaking their intense support for Clinton in a thin veneer of excitement about the importance of voting as such, and this year’s excessive “get out the vote” drives appear to be a cover for a massive push to elect Clinton as the de facto liberal candidate. These celebrities would surely stop pushing people to register and vote if they believed that the individuals in question would turn out for Trump. In reality, these celebrities’ sudden interest in our political process has nothing to do with celebrating the right to vote and everything to do with advancing a progressive agenda.
And they're quite explicit about what they expect people to do and their contempt for anyone who would vote differently. It's not just this year because they find Trump so abominable; they felt the same way about Dole, Bush, McCain, and Romney.

Shades of how the Clintons raised money when Bill was president.
Hillary Clinton’s campaign is returning thousands of dollars in donations linked to what may be one of the largest straw-donor schemes ever uncovered.

A small law firm that has given money to Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Sen. Harry Reid, President Obama and many others is accused of improperly funneling millions of dollars into Democratic Party coffers. The program was exposed by the Center for Responsive Politics and the same team of Boston Globe investigative reporters featured in the movie “Spotlight.”

The Thornton Law Firm has just 10 partners, but dollar for dollar, it’s one of the nation’s biggest political donors, reports CBS News correspondent Tony Dokoupil.

But according to the firm’s own documents – leaked by a whistleblower -- days or even hours after making these donations, partners received bonuses matching the amount they gave.

“Once the law firm knew that we had these records, they didn’t deny that this was the case,” said Scott Allen, Boston Globe’s Spotlight editor.

“If you give a donation and then somebody else reimburses you for that contribution, that is a clear violation of the spirit and the letter of the law at the state and federal levels,” Allen added.

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Obamacare is not only costing people who have to buy on the Obamacare exchanges more, but it's also harming those people it was explicitly supposed to help - those with existing conditions. For one thing, it has limited the doctors people have access to and the drugs that are covered.
First, to manage costs, insurance policies on the Obamacare exchanges limit access to doctors and medical facilities. For the healthy, Obama’s broken “if-you-like-your-doctor, you-can-keep-your-doctor” promise is an inconvenience and a burden. But for those with chronic health conditions, the consequences are more significant....

Individuals with pre-existing conditions frequently require an artillery of prescription medications. Insurance companies (still) participating in the Obamacare exchanges defend against the high costs of covering those with pre-existing conditions by limiting coverage for certain prescription drugs or establishing higher co-insurance and co-pay percentages.

Limiting drug choices affects those with pre-existing conditions more frequently and more significantly than it does healthy individuals.
People are also facing huge increases in their deductibles and co-pays.
The rise in deductibles hits those with pre-existing conditions the hardest because they regularly incur $5,000 or more in annual medical expenses. Of course, those with pre-existing conditions who are able to afford the high out-of-pocket expenses benefit if they could not obtain insurance before Obamacare. Unfortunately, according to a survey by the Commonwealth Fund, 44 percent of the underinsured (i.e., those with high deductibles or out-of-pocket expenses compared to their income) forego needed medical care....

Admittedly, some individuals with pre-existing conditions benefit from Obamacare. But it is a pretty narrow group: those without access to employer-based health insurance who were within the estimated 20 percent of applicants denied private health insurance, who lived in one of the 15 states without a high-risk pool, and who can afford the high premiums and co-pays of policies offered on the Obamacare exchanges. It’s not quite the promised panacea for those with chronic health conditions!

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