Monday, November 07, 2016

Cruising the Web

So Comey has once again cleared Hillary Clinton about her emails. Will Democrats now decide that he is an honorable man?

Jim Geraghty notices the Democrats' selective outrage about the Russians. They seem quite upset that the Russians have dared to hack the emails of prominent Democrats and publish that information via WikiLeaks, but they're much less perturbed that Hillary Clinton used an unsecured server while Secretary of State, a server that was reportedly hacked several times. And she was much less worried about other cyber-attacks on our government.
Why isn’t the average Democratic member of Congress bothered, much less outraged, by the possibility that Clinton used an insecure server, allowing her e-mails and the classified information in them to be hacked by at least five foreign intelligence agencies? Why isn’t President Obama bothered by it?

At the same time most Democrats are finding ways to excuse or hand-wave away Clinton’s actions, they are genuinely outraged by another act of hacking: Someone — presumably hackers directed by or affiliated with the Russian government — found thousands of e-mails from the Democratic National Committee and from John Podesta, chairman of Clinton’s campaign....

It is indeed disturbing — but if the Kremlin’s hacking the e-mails of private individuals and private institutions to influence an election is disturbing, then the hacking of Hillary’s private server should be doubly so. But not only do no Democrats express any anger over the latter likelihood, they bend over backwards to insist it is no big deal.

Clinton’s next-to-last last sentence — “they are designed to influence our election” — gives away her true concern. She’s never otherwise been outraged about insufficient cyber-security. She never said much about the two major breaches of U.S. Office of Personnel Management databases that exposed sensitive information about at least 22.1 million people. In her campaign book, Stronger Together, cyber-security gets five paragraphs, in which Russia is mentioned just once.

Hillary Clinton and other Democrats don’t get that upset when Russia or other hostile states do things that threaten the country as a whole. But when they threaten the party or her odds of winning the election, it’s an outrage.
Of course, Obama and the Democrats ridiculed Mitt Romney for saying that Russia was our "number one geopolitical foe." That was the subject of many Democrats making jokes about how out of touch Romney was. Are they laughing now? No, but that is only because the Russians are making them look bad.
Vladimir Putin and the Russian state haven’t changed their character in the past four years. They’re the same group of ruthlessly amoral thugs they always were, eager to push the envelope and test the resolve of NATO. It’s just that now they’re threatening the Democratic party instead of the country as a whole, and that stirs anger on the left like nothing else.

Politico explores the sleaze
revealed through Hillary Clinton's using her position at State to generate money for the Clinton Foundation from the king of Morocco.
Hillary Clinton’s top advisers downplayed her involvement in arranging a lavish Clinton Foundation conference in Marrakech last year, but behind the scenes they acknowledged her pivotal role and worked to minimize fallout from it.

After media inquiries about the role of Clinton and the king of Morocco in setting the stage for the conference, Clinton confidants, including her husband, Bill, scrambled to craft a new foreign contribution policy that looked tougher but still let them accept the Moroccan cash, according to hacked emails released by WikiLeaks.
Story Continued Below

The picture that emerges from the emails — as well as from interviews with a half dozen people familiar with the foundation’s inner workings and other contemporary reporting — shows Clintons’ confidants becoming acutely sensitive to criticism of the foundation’s foreign fundraising around the time Clinton was preparing to launch her presidential campaign.

The Moroccan saga also provides a window into the Clinton teams’ internal decision-making process on thorny ethics issues, as well as the occasionally less-than-forthcoming manner in which they deal with scrutiny.

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One Northwestern law professor argues against early voting.
Supporters of early voting say limiting it would “disenfranchise” minority voters. This is based on evidence that early voting increases minority turnout somewhat — though that is far from inevitable, and black voting has fallen off in this year’s early voting.

In any case, measures aimed at increasing a particular group’s turnout are only mandated if they correct prior arrangements that were designed to suppress its participation.

But unlike poll taxes, literacy tests, and other measures, there is absolutely no evidence that having an Election Day as opposed to an “Election Season” was designed to affect minority voting at all. Indeed, Americans voted on a particular day long before the universal extension of franchise.

Given the lack of discriminatory intent in Election Day, changing the electoral regime from that which has prevailed through almost all American history becomes indistinguishable from partisan efforts to increase turnout by one’s core constituencies.

Yet early voting, if not restrained soon, may prove sticky. Already at least one federal judge in Ohio has ruled that what was introduced as a convenience has somehow turned into a vested right, and prohibited legislation to simply shorten the period.

Currently, early voting is thought to help Democrats, who are fairly successful at banking votes of core constituencies. But just as Democrats learned from Karl Rove’s 2004 data-driven operation, there is no reason to think Republicans will not take a page from the Democrats and focus on ways to benefit from early voting.

Thus, over time the practice may turn out to be party-neutral but it will certainly harm republican democracy by increasing the transformation of elections from efforts of persuasion to sheep-herding exercises.

Now is a particularly good time to rethink the unchecked expansion of early voting, as late breaking developments have been unfavorable to both parties.
When I mentioned in class that some people criticize early voting, my kids were shocked and couldn't understand why anyone would oppose it. I responded that perhaps if you voted early and then heard your candidate talking insultingly about women or found out that your candidate was being investigated by the FBI, perhaps you'd wish you could change your vote. Apparently, it hadn't occurred to my 10th grade students that anyone would ever change their minds. But, some people do and there are states that now accommodate them. Who knew this was even a thing? Apparently, in some states you can change your vote once you've cast it.
Voters in Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota and Pennsylvania are allowed to void their early or absentee ballots and cast a new vote. While normally not an issue, that could end up playing a bigger role this year, with October surprises and each campaign fighting vigorously to disqualify the other.
Some states have the craziest voting rules.

But, apparently, a lot of people are still undecided at this point. I bet that a lot of those are people who just can't bring themselves to vote for either candidate.

Watch this video asking whites in Berkeley about voter ID laws. Their replies are basically that minorities aren't as able to get to the DMV or to get an ID. Then it shifts to Harlem to ask black people on the street if they have IDs and know where the DMV is and what they think of the sorts of arguments that Berkeley respondents had.

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The WSJ looks at what Hillary Clinton's proposed policies may well do to our economy and country.
To wit, she would continue President Obama’s progressive march to a French-style welfare and regulatory state. On nearly every domestic issue, she has embraced Mr. Obama’s agenda and moved left from there.

She wants higher taxes, more spending on entitlements that are already unaffordable, more subsidies and price controls in ObamaCare, more regulations on businesses of all kinds, more limits on political speech, more enforcement of liberal cultural values on schools and churches.

The greatest cost of this would be more lost years of slow economic growth. The U.S. economy hasn’t grown by 3% in any year since 2005, and the explanation from Mrs. Clinton’s economic advisers is that America can’t grow faster and inequality is a bigger problem in any case. More income redistribution is their patent medicine.

But as we’ve seen with the rise of nativism and protectionism, the costs of slow growth are corrosive. Flat incomes lead to more social tension and political enmity. The fight to divide a smaller pie would get uglier in a country that was once accustomed to rising possibilities. Imagine the 2020 election after four more years of 1% growth.

Some Republicans say Mrs. Clinton would be more willing to negotiate with them than Mr. Obama has been. That’s a low bar, and during the 2016 campaign she hasn’t thrown a single policy olive branch to Republicans. None....

Mrs. Clinton would also be less restrained by the courts. Mr. Obama has remade most of the federal appellate bench, and the Supreme Court is on the cusp. A Hillary victory means progressive judicial domination for a generation or more. This would mean more green lights for the abusive rule by regulation that has characterized Mr. Obama’s second term—and little chance to block the likes of his immigration order or Clean Power Plan....

She has sometimes shown more hawkish instincts than Mr. Obama, but then she also embraced his worst mistakes: the reset with Russia that badly misjudged Vladimir Putin, the nuclear deal with Iran, the withdrawal from Iraq in 2011, and the abandonment of Libya after Europe and the U.S. toppled Moammar Gadhafi.

Even if she wants to revive U.S. leadership abroad, however, there is the question of means. Her entitlement expansions and higher taxes would squeeze the economic growth and budget space needed to finance more defense spending. This is Western Europe on the installment plan.

Lurking behind all this, as we’ve seen these past two weeks, is the familiar pattern of scandal fed by her penchant for secrecy and political paranoia. As journalist Carl Bernstein has noted, she shares Richard Nixon’s “obsession with enemies.” She surrounds herself with henchmen like Sidney Blumenthal and David Brock, who feed her instinct to stonewall and attack.

The most astonishing revelation of the 2016 campaign has been that neither she nor her husband learned anything from the ethical traumas of the 1990s.
Such analysis should be sore comfort to those prominent Republicans who have announced that they're voting for Clinton as the lesser of two evils.

Jonah Goldberg, while understanding such an attitude to voting, rejects the idea that voting for the lesser of two evils transforms a candidate into being a good one.
Which brings me back to Trump, Obamacare, and the school of mankind. Trump’s most devoted followers think they are part of a major movement. Maybe they are. Though I do laugh when I hear people talk about the global movement against globalism. But I remain confident that most Republicans — and certainly most conservatives — who are rallying to Trump are doing so because they see him as the lesser of two evils. (I heard my friend Dennis Prager say the other day that the “lesser of two evils is good,” which I don’t think will go down in history as one of his most time-honored maxims.) According to Pew, 11 percent of Trump supporters say they would be disappointed or angry if their candidate won. That is not quite the kindling upon which to stoke a new prairie fire of populist nationalism.

Still, I have always argued that voting against Hillary on the grounds that “she’s worse” is a perfectly legitimate position. What I cannot get my head around is the idea that any rational person — conservative or liberal — could actually buy any of Trump’s promises or the notion that he’s some modern-day Cincinnatus laying down his golf clubs to save the Republic, abolish the administrative state, bring back manufacturing jobs (an understandable hope, even if most of those jobs have been lost to automation), wipe away the muck of political correctness, and “Make America Great Again.” Such claims seem no less ridiculous to me than all of the messianic talk about Barack Obama, “the lightworker.”

My skepticism about Obama was vindicated and I remain confident my skepticism of Trump will be, too.

I will say, however, that if Trump wins, even his most ardent Never Trump opponents — me included — must restart the clock and give him some benefit of the doubt. We only have one president at a time.

Behind the scenes, Trump’s Republican backers insist that they will be able to manage and steer Trump toward positive ends. “He just wants to make speeches about making America great again,” they say. “We’ll do all the heavy-lifting on policy.” I am profoundly dubious of this. The idea that one could hand the keys of the Oval Office to this glandular oaf and expect it to not go to his head strikes me as ridiculous. Character is destiny, and given his character we can predict what the destiny of the Trump presidency would be.

But we all owe it to the country to give him his shot. I will be delighted to be proven wrong. But given that I actually believe the things I believe in, I don’t have high hopes.
Exactly my position.

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Today my AP Government students will be debating the ratification of the Constitution. They will have each read either a Federalist or Anti-Federalist essay. We have already discussed all the complaints the Anti-Federalists had about the new Constitution. After we put that list on the board, I told them to mark that page of notes so they could refer back to it later to discuss how many of those complaints have been justified since 1787. What strikes me every year I do that lesson is how many of those complaints were accurate if we look over the more than two centuries since then. They were worried about a too-powerful judiciary and executive, vague clauses in the Constitution that would be used to enlarge the powers of the national government over states, the power to tax, and a central government too removed from the control of ordinary citizens. We're so acclimated to regarding the Federalists as the wiser ones because they were the ones who won that we forget the arguments of the Anti-Federalists which were pooh poohed back then.

Here is yet another example of how our president acts, as the Anti-Federalists warned, like a monarch.
A class-action lawsuit has charged that the names of as many as 3,500 ready-to-hire air traffic controller applicants were “purged” so the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) could hire based on race. In response to the suit, federal lawyers have asserted their clients are immune from liability for denying constitutional equal protection because of the doctrine of sovereign immunity. In other words, they are protected by the legal maxim, “Rex non potest peccare,” which means, “The king can do no wrong.”

Beginning in 1991, the FAA collaborated with universities and colleges to create 36 accredited degree programs in diverse Collegiate Training Initiative (CTI) schools. Then, the FAA hired those with CTI program degrees, references from CTI administrators, and “well qualified” rankings on the challenging Air Traffic Selection and Training exam (AT-SAT) — a validated, proctored, eight-hour, computer-based test. In 2013, however, to achieve racial diversity — notwithstanding that nearly 12 percent of those attending CTI programs were African Americans — the FAA abandoned that program, “purged” its files of between 2,000 and 3,500 CTI graduates, and began hiring any English-speaking citizen with a high school diploma, while screening new applicants to ensure their racial “diversity.”

In late December 2015, Mountain States Legal Foundation responded with a class-action lawsuit in Arizona federal district court on behalf of those who had satisfied the FAA’s time-tested and rigorous tests for their employment as air traffic controllers but whose names were purged after the FAA announced minority hiring plans. The lawsuit charges violation of the Equal Protection Component of the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The class is represented by Andrew J. Brigida, who holds two bachelor of science aviation degrees from Arizona State University and scored 100 percent on the AT-SAT. Mountain States Legal Foundation filed an amended complaint in April and a second amended complaint in August, following congressional action that did nothing to remediate the constitutional and statutory injuries suffered by its clients. That is when federal lawyers responded that their clients were like “kings.”

Everyone is familiar with William Blackstone’s famous aphorism, “That the king can do no wrong, is a necessary and fundamental principle of the English constitution.” But what does that have to do with us on this side of the Atlantic — we who revolted against a “God-King” with the words “all men are created equal,” broke free, and created a constitutional republic?

As it turns out, precious little. In 1996, Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens wrote that sovereign immunity is a judge-made doctrine that has been “thoroughly discredited” because it is founded on the notion “that a divinely ordained monarch ‘can do no wrong.’ ” Not surprisingly, “Sovereign immunity is a right that cannot be found in the text or the framers’ intent,” wrote recognized legal scholar Erwin Chemerinsky.
Apparently, the argument that, in order to reach some sort of racial balance, the administration can ignore the Constitution. I don't think the Anti-Federalists foresaw that happening, but they did foresee an executive branch that would grow so powerful that no controls would rein it in.

And this brings us to Nikolai Tolstoy, the chancellor of something called the International Monarchist League, advising Americans that what we really need these days is...a king. His argument is that there would be less factionalism if we had a monarch with more power.
A monarchy, in other words, lends to a political order a vital element of continuity that enables gradual reform. The rule of law is thus guaranteed by respect for authority — as Dr. Johnson advised Boswell: “Now, Sir, that respect for authority is much more easily granted to a man whose father has had it, than to an upstart, and so Society is more easily supported.”

Their contemporary, the historian Edward Gibbon, weighed the rival systems and came down with characteristic acerbity in favor of a hereditary sovereign. “We may easily devise imaginary forms of government, in which the sceptre shall be constantly bestowed on the most worthy, by the free and incorrupt suffrage of the whole community,” he wrote, but “experience overturns these airy fabrics.”

The advantage of monarchy is that the institution “extinguishes the hopes of faction” by rising above the toxic partisanship of competing parties and vying elected officials. “To the firm establishment of this idea,” Gibbon concluded, “we owe the peaceful succession, and mild administration, of European monarchies.”

It may be remembered that no British monarch has been assassinated for about five centuries, while no fewer than four American presidents have been murdered in the last 150 or so years. A factor to ponder, I suggest.
Yeah, well except for that whole head-chopping experience for Charles I and revolution overthrowing James II and then when Parliament created a law skipping over dozens of Catholic heirs to bring in the Hanover dynasty leading to several Jacobite uprisings in the 18th century. And he skips over the wars that men that died during the War of the Roses and the people that died in England in the 16th century as the country moved from one Tudor monarch to the next and those having the wrong religion at the time were in danger of execution. Maybe people aren't assassinating the monarch now because the English monarch has so little power since those days. He also adds in that, under George III, the British may have lost the American colonies, but they also defeated Napoleon. Well, that wasn't because of the British monarchy. It was due to Napoleon's overreach. And the Duke of Wellington might have had something to do with it. Having a monarch sure hasn't decreased factionalism in Great Britain. And do we really want the heirs of any our previous presidents ascending to the American throne? Please. It's bad enough that we're facing the wife of a president cashing in on that connection to probably become our next president. And that the supposedly leading candidate for this election was the second son of a former president to seek that seat. GOP voters demonstrated that we weren't interested in a further crowning of a dynastical heir.

Taylor Millard adds in that we are approaching monarchical powers for our chief executive who can make executive orders without the check of the legislative branch and whose administration can institute hundreds of regulations that burden our economy without a peep from Congress.
FDR also issued New Deal regulations through executive orders, and let’s not forget the executive orders and regulations President Barack Obama has issued during his tenure. This is what happens when a government decides to ignore what’s outlined in the Constitution and do what it wants to do. The U.S. doesn’t need a monarchy; it pretty much has an elected one.
What a dopey argument. Perhaps we don't need to take advice from members of the former Russian aristocracy. And the NYT is reduced to publishing such rot in order to generate some click-bait.

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While some conservatives are dismayed that some Republicans like Rubio, Ryan, and Ayotte, have been equivocating about voting for Trump, Noemie Emery reminds us that this is actually very common in American history. She reminds us of how Eisenhower, both John and Robert Kennedy as well as other prominent leaders refrained from condemning Joe McCarthy.
As Richard H. Rovere writes in his book on the subject, "Paul Douglas of Illinois . . . the most cultivated mind in the Senate, and a man whose courage and integrity would compare favorably with any other American's, went through the last Truman years and the first Eisenhower years without ever addressing himself to the problem." Senator Kennedy, author of a book on political courage, did likewise, as did his state's other senator, Leverett Saltonstall, his Republican colleague and friend. "Maurice Tobin, Truman's Secretary of Labor, once went to a Veterans of Foreign Wars convention with an anti-McCarthy speech in his pocket," but sensing an unfriendly political climate, did not pull it out.

Much the same thing happened to former Supreme Allied Commander Dwight David Eisenhower in October 1952, in the homestretch of his own run for president, when he decided to use a campaign stop in McCarthy's home state of Wisconsin to defend his old friend, General of the Army and former Secretary of State George C. Marshall, whom McCarthy had savaged. Local politicians told Eisenhower, then weeks away from his own election, that attacking McCarthy on his home turf was too dangerous, both for himself and their local contenders. Ike almost choked, said one biographer, and several aides became apoplectic, but caution carried the day. The man who accepted the Nazis' surrender backed down.

Eisenhower's successor, himself a war hero, would turn out to do the same thing. A combat veteran who was chronically ill, John Kennedy faced war, pain, and illness with nary a whimper, but political survival would be a whole other story, and there also were family ties. His famous father had made statements promoting McCarthy. His brother Bobby had worked for McCarthy. He himself might not have been elected as senator had McCarthy not, as a favor to his father, agreed to stay out of the state. Worse still, though far from Wisconsin, Massachusetts was a hotbed of McCarthyite fervor, as its huge bloc of Irish Catholic voters, mostly in Kennedy's base of South Boston, formed a rock solid core of support. "It would be certainly futile to expect to expect any candidate running for Massachusetts statewide political office with any chance of winning to criticize . . . McCarthy," said one local paper. "Adherents of both parties are apparently scared to death." Among them were Saltonstall and Foster Fucolo, Saltonstall's Democratic opponent, who managed to get through their campaign without one word about the Wisconsin senator, not to mention Kennedy himself, who was planning to run in 1960 for president and needed a near landslide in the 1958 midterms to launch himself on the national scene.

Increasingly caught in crosswinds between his South Boston base and the liberal wing of his national party, Kennedy may have been relieved to enter Boston Hospital on October 10 for an operation he was given no more than even chances to survive. He slipped into a coma on the 21st, from which he would only slowly recover, and by December 2, when the Senate voted to censure McCarthy, he was still weak, but lucid enough to not call his office and cast a vote. In July, when a censure vote had seemed imminent, he had drafted a speech that criticized McCarthy, though he aimed his fire more at McCarthy's aide, Roy Cohn, with whom his brother Bobby had feuded, and had it come to the floor at that time, would have likely voted against him. By December, McCarthy was no longer ascendant, and voting against him would have been much less risky. But, as his biographer Robert Dallek informs us, "Kennedy's gut told him that his constituents would punish him," and the risk of a diminished vote in 1958 or 1960 was, in view of the out he was given, one that he chose not to take. It was not true, as some people said, that he planned the operation to avoid voting on censure, but the timing was surely fortuitous.
Emery concludes how odd it was that men of real personal courage seem to lose that courage when it comes to politics.
A timorous paralysis seems to take over, even with the most valiant of men. Eisenhower, who had written a note taking personal responsibly for a failure on D-Day in case one should happen, did not defend a friend while appeasing a demagogue. John McCain stood up to five years of torture by his Communist captors, but not Donald Trump and his enraged base of voters. Kennedy lied his way into the Navy, sought dangerous duty, and swam miles into the ocean at night to try to get help for his fellow survivors—and made his call not to censure McCarthy while recovering from an operation he knew could have killed him—leading Dallek to marvel that he often took risks with his very existence that he refused to take with his future in politics. Strange as it seems, Eisenhower seemed to fear McCarthy more than the German armed forces, McCain feared Trump (and a primary challenge) more than he feared torture, and Kennedy feared McCarthy, and his voters in Boston, more than he feared death itself.

Any why is this so? Possibly because a loss in politics has an aspect of shame and defeat that does not apply when one dies in battle, which is frequently seen a kind of a victory. People of the Ike/Kennedy/McCain type tend to think of their careers as assets not just to themselves but to the country, as they do the right thing as they perceive it, and would like to keep doing it. The rationalization they tell to themselves is that the good they will do by staying in office will outweigh the harm they might have done by an excess of caution in a singular moment. Eisenhower and Kennedy were pretty good presidents, who helped to create and defend the post-war world order, and behaved as they should in the civil rights crisis. Johnson passed the civil rights act, itself no small matter. Today's anxious trimmers can hope to do big things when and if re-elected, and they may in the end be proved right.

So with this in mind, it might be right to offer to cut some slack to our beleaguered cohort of officeholders, taking note of the fact that some of the highest-profile anti-Trump voices—Jeff Flake and Ben Sasse—are not up for reelection in this cycle, and that the Democrats who make such a thing of their absence of courage would do exactly the same thing in their shoes. Respectable people have done it before them. And others will do it again.
We'll have to see if the failure to condemn Trump will be a mark of shame from which Republican politicians will not be able to recover or if everyone will get a pass.

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Who knew that the newest outrage about cultural appropriation would be white women wearing necklaces with their names on them? Apparently, only females of color are allowed to wear such necklaces. So much outrage, so little time.

Well, that settles that. Now we've located what is wrong with America - ranch dressing.I don't like ranch dressing either, but I don't see it as a social cause. Just another bit of outrage that passed me by.

I've spent a lot of my time in the past few days reading everything Cubs that I could. Here a couple of enjoyable reads about Anthony Rizzo and how his cheerful personality has held the team together. And here is a lovely, earlier story tracing the connection between Jon Lester and Anthony Rizzo through the cancer that both men had and overcame.

And this is what a nice boss Cubs owner Tom Ricketts is.
Cubs owner Tom Ricketts did his employees a huge solid and flew over 400 of them and one guest to Cleveland for games 6 & 7 to support their team. Ricketts paid for their flights, hotels, and tickets to the final two games of the World Series, all so his employees had the chance for their Cubs to win it all.

And numerology added up to a Cubs victory.
Javier Baez, playoff hero thus far, hit a 108-stitched baseball on the 108th pitch for a home run during Game 1 of the NLDS.

If you combine the last two Cubs players to be inducted to the Hall of Fame, Ron Santo and Andre Dawson, their numbers add up to 108. (10+8)

Most Cubs first pitches are scheduled for 7:08 which is 19:08 in military time.

The distance to both right and left field foul poles at Wrigley is 108 meters.

The first World Series game at Wrigley was on 10/8.

The Cubs last World Series game WIN was on 10/8.

Wrigley Field was assigned planned development no. 108 in the city out of more than 1,300 assigned.

The World Series Trophy is made of silver. Silver’s atomic weight is 108.

Back to the Future II features the Cubs winning the World Series. The movie is 108 minutes long.
Wow, it's reminiscent of Louis Farrakhan's numerological rant about the number 19.