Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Cruising the Web

Well, Election Day is finally here. It seems that this campaign has been going on forever. It's been like a bad dream that we couldn't wake up from. And whoever wins, that nightmare will continue for at least another four years. The only bright spot is remembering this bit of wisdom from Adam Smith: "There is a great deal of ruin in a nation." Our country isn't going to be destroyed no matter who wins. I am in the middle of teaching the Civil War in my American history class and the French Revolution in my European history class. So we have to have a bit of perspective. This is not the worst of times; just the worst of candidates.

Kevin Williamson encourages us not to believe that this is the end of times.
But here’s the thing: The United States of America is not a wreck. We have some real problems and real challenges, from the national debt to the Islamic State. But we also are incredibly rich, free, peaceful, prosperous, innovative, productive, and, in our better moments, sober, with a record of responsible self-government unrivaled anywhere in the world. Trumpkin rhetoric notwithstanding, we are not being overrun by Third World hordes and pillaged by wily Chinamen. Mrs. Clinton’s bed-wetting notwithstanding, Americans are not dying in the streets, Dallas doesn’t look very much like Dhaka, and we are not on the precipice of fascism. There is not going to be any revolution or coup d’├ętat whichever candidate wins on Tuesday, and the Democrats who swore there was one in 2000 were as wrong and irresponsible then as they are today.

This is not the end. The people who are telling you that it is — on both sides — are trying to sell you something.

Don’t buy it.

On Tuesday, those who vote will have a choice between A and B. On Wednesday, there will be choices, too: about our jobs, our businesses, our families, our schools, our churches, and cities and states, what we tweet and what we post on Facebook. Citizenship doesn’t start and stop on a Tuesday in November, and voting is hardly the full, or even the most important, expression of what we owe our country, which includes what we owe to those who came before and those who come after. It wasn’t elections that built this country, as important as those are.

We will survive Election Day 2016 and its consequences. And we will have exactly the sort of country we choose to have, because there is nobody building it but us.
Kathleen Parker is also encouraging us to relax. She rightly points to the constant media barrage that serves to whip up a constant sense of partisan outrage.
No one knows, but a sense of dread has attached to the “Day After.” This is because after 18 months of rabble-rousing and anger management (not in a good way), we’ve created a sort of Potemkin nightmare of partisan division and revolutionary strife. Never before has this country been so divided, goes the usual chorus of pundits and commentators.

Except, that is, for every other election year since voting began.

Our Founding Fathers, for all their cleverness, were hardly soft-spoken. The Civil War needs no editorial comment. The 1960s weren’t exactly a paddleboat cruise down the Mississippi.

In other words, our politics have always been thus, though with one significant difference. Whereas Paul Revere had to ride several hours on horseback to deliver the news that the British were coming, we never stop receiving news of everything, everywhere in real time that passes before we can stand athwart history and gasp, “Oh, my God, no!”

Through media in all its forms, we exhaust and are exhausted by the insignificant. To tune in is to believe that Western civilization is nearing collapse, regardless of who holsters up and swaggers into the White House in January. Which is precisely what you’re supposed to think. You’re supposed to think everything is falling apart. You’re supposed to believe that life has never been worse.

Donald Trump was right when he said the system is rigged, but not in the way he meant. It isn’t rigged against him. He’s part of the ecosystem of media, political consultants, producers, politicians and propagandists that are rigged against The People — and it’s working just fine. Everyone’s in on the same game, which is essentially to ensure that The People gobble up what they’ve been serving — and what they’re serving is resentment, fear and anger.

Sure, people were upset about stuff. But what we feel now was mass-produced by a propaganda industry that profits most when people are worked up.

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George Melloan adds in some more encouragement that our capitalist system will survive because our economy is resilient. It survived the Great Depression and the New Deal; it can survive Clinton and Trump.

Jonathan Haidt and Ravi Iyer offer up their own advice for how to get beyond the ugly partisanship in which we seem to be mired. They are thinking back to the 1983 TV movie, "The Day After" about what would happen if the Soviet made a nuclear strike on us.
Now that’s an apocalypse.

It’s an absurd comparison, of course, but the absurdity is helpful. It reminds us that no matter how bad things seem, we have a lot to be grateful for. The Soviet Union is gone, and life in America has gotten much better since the 1980s by most objective measures. Crime is way down, prosperity and longevity are way up, and doors are open much more widely for talented people from just about any demographic group. Yes, we have new problems, and the benefits haven’t been spread evenly, but if you look at the big picture, we are making astonishing progress.
They know that half the country will wake up on Wednesday disappointed and angry. We keep hearing from each side about how the other side is trying to rig the election. So will it be possible for people to slough off all the ill feeling and abandon our tribal allegiances. They point out that fewer Americans have friends of the other party.
People who have at least one friend from the other political party are less likely to hate the supporters of that party.

But tragically, Americans are losing their proximity to those on the other side and are spending more time in politically purified settings. Since the 1980s, Democrats have been packing into the cities while the rural areas and exurbs have been getting more Republican. Institutions that used to bring people together—such as churches—are now splitting apart over culture war issues such as gay marriage.

Ever more of our social life is spent online, in virtual communities or networks that are politically homogeneous. When we do rub up against the other side online, relative anonymity often leads to stunning levels of incivility, including racist and sexist slurs and threats of violence.
It's all very discouraging, but they have some advice for all of us.
First, separate your feelings about Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton from your feelings about their supporters. Political scientists report that since the 1980s, Americans have increasingly voted against the other side’s candidate, rather than voting enthusiastically for their own, and that is especially true this time. So don’t assume that most people on the other side like or even agree with their candidate on any particular issue. They may be voting out of fears and frustrations that you don’t understand, but if you knew their stories, you might well empathize with them.

Second, step back and think about your goals. In the long run, would you rather change people or hate them? If you actually want to persuade or otherwise influence people, you should know that it is nearly impossible to change people’s minds by arguing with them. When there is mutual antipathy, there is mutual motivated reasoning, defensiveness and hypocrisy....

And if you do find a way to have a real conversation with someone on the other side, approach it skillfully. One powerful opener is to point to a log in your own eye—to admit right up front that you or your side were wrong about something. Doing this at the start of a conversation signals that you aren’t in combat mode. If you are open, trusting and generous, your partner is likely to reciprocate.
It all sounds very nice, but I'm not very confident that we're going to see the people who have spouted such ugliness in this campaign about those with whom they disagree, suddenly engaging in civil and respectful conversation.

Cass Sunstein is writing on the same theme and recommends that liberals start reading a bit from the conservative side of the fence to try to understand why conservatives don't believe what liberals believe. He recommends five books:
“Seeing Like A State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Conditions Have Failed” by James Scott

“A Matter of Interpretation”
by Antonin Scalia

“Side Effects and Complications: The Economic Consequences of Health-Care Reform” by Casey Mulligan

“The Righteous Mind” by Jonathan Haidt

“Order Without Law: How Neighbors Settle Disputes” by Robert Ellickson.
It's nice to think that liberals would suddenly want to find out why conservatives believe the things they do instead of just believing that conservatives are evil people who simply want to help the rich trample on the poor while destroying the environment. I'd be happy if they just read a few of the more reasonable conservative websites occasionally.

Douglas Murray writes about the British Labour Party and how it's been taken over by anti-Semites.
Ruth Smeeth, a Jewish member of parliament, found it necessary to bring a bodyguard to protect her from potentially violent anti-Semitic members of her own party. On the main stage of the conference, a Jewish Labour Movement member was heckled from the floor as he was describing how let down many Jews in the party feel. Lord Mitchell, a Jewish peer, resigned from the party. His co-religionists in Labour now find themselves debating whether to stay and fight or declare the party a lost cause. It is not an easy choice.
Murray traces back the incursion of anti-Semitism under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn in the Labour Party to 9/11 and the Gulf War.
The evidence of growing Jew-hatred was there for all to see, and yet for years the left refused to carry out even the most basic hygiene at events such as these. Indeed, its panjandra waved away any expressions of concern. How, they demanded, could anyone from a political movement in which “anti-racism” was one of the few remaining certainties be connected with any variety of racism? The leaders and spokesmen of these movements denied evidence that was literally before their eyes. When cornered, they hid behind an insistence that anti-Zionism was a wholly different thing from anti-Semitism—and when that no longer worked, they were left to argue in effect that anti-Semitism was not anti-Semitism. At a loftier and more private level, senior Labour members of parliament aligned with the rival moderate factions led by Prime Minister Tony Blair and his eventual successor, Gordon Brown, consoled critics with the assurance that members of their party who helped propel such forces by attending and addressing their rallies were mere eccentrics and embarrassments: persons of no significance.

Well what a difference 15 years has made. Today the Blairites and Brownites who gave such assurances are almost to a man and woman in the political wilderness, reduced to lecturing dictators for cash or appearing on reality television shows. Meanwhile, the man who spent the years of Labour power outside the Israeli and American Embassies, or at the foot of Lord Nelson’s column in London’s Trafalgar Square hollering through a megaphone at the nation’s monomaniacs now leads their party.
It's a sad tale for a once great British political party that used to support Israel.
Were the ardent Zionist Harold Wilson to return from the dead to inspect his party today, he would not only not recognize it, he would find no home in it. At the 2015 election, a majority of British Jews for the first time voted Conservative. It seems unlikely that this political migration will be reversed under the leadership of a man whose career has been spent baiting Jews in all ways available to him, and who is making Britain safe for open anti-Semitism for the first time since the Victorian era.

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Adam Nagourney warns Democrats that they shouldn't gloat too much about the mess that the Republican Party has become in the wake of Donald Trump. The Democrats have their own problems.
The sprawling Democratic coalition lined up behind Mrs. Clinton — labor and Silicon Valley moguls, Latinos and white middle-class women — could easily splinter as attention turns from a campaign to the specifics of governance. Moderate Democrats in Congress will need to worry about primary challenges from the left, much as moderate Republicans faced Tea Party challenges from the right. That will be particularly true should Mrs. Clinton begin striking compromises with Republicans to pass, to name one example, an immigration overhaul.

And while the tensions between Mrs. Clinton and her rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, may be forgotten, they are hardly gone. Mr. Trump was a powerful force that helped bridge two wings of the Democratic Party through the fall, so his departure might not be an entirely welcome development for the party.
And Clinton is not going to be facing an easy time of it. If she tries to compromise with Republicans in order to accomplish anything, she can expect a lot of griping from the liberal wing of her party.

Donna Brazile's aid to the Clinton campaign gets exposed yet another time by WikiLeaks. But don't worry. She says her conscience is clear. Well, alright then. That tells us about the state of her conscience.

Two contractors to the State Department are now speaking out about how the rules didn't apply to Hillary Clinton. Well, it's always been that way, hasn't it? And don't expect anything different in a new Clinton administration.

The New York Post notes this tidbit from the released Clinton emails. She would regularly ask her maid to print out government documents, including classified documents from her house.
Clinton entrusted far more than the care of her DC residence, known as Whitehaven, to Santos. She expected the Filipino immigrant to handle state secrets, further opening the Democratic presidential nominee to criticism that she played fast and loose with national security.

Clinton would first receive highly sensitive emails from top aides at the State Department and then request that they, in turn, forward the messages and any attached documents to Santos to print out for her at the home.

Among other things, Clinton requested that Santos print out drafts of her speeches, confidential memos and “call sheets” — background information and talking points prepared for the secretary of state in advance of a phone call with a foreign head of state.

“Pls ask Marina to print for me in am,” Clinton emailed top aide Huma Abedin regarding a redacted 2011 message marked sensitive but unclassified.

In a classified 2012 email dealing with the new president of Malawi, another Clinton aide, Monica Hanley, advised Clinton, “We can ask Marina to print this.”

“Revisions to the Iran points” was the subject line of a classified April 2012 email to Clinton from Hanley. In it, the text reads, “Marina is trying to print for you.”

Both classified emails were marked “confidential,” the tier below “secret” or “top secret.”

Santos also had access to a highly secure room called an SCIF (sensitive compartmented information facility) that diplomatic security agents set up at Whitehaven, according to FBI notes from an interview with Abedin.

From within the SCIF, Santos — who had no clearance — “collected documents from the secure facsimile machine for Clinton,” the FBI notes revealed.

Just how sensitive were the papers Santos presumably handled? The FBI noted Clinton periodically received the Presidential Daily Brief — a top-secret document prepared by the CIA and other US intelligence agencies — via the secure fax.

A 2012 “sensitive” but unclassified email from Hanley to Clinton refers to a fax the staff wanted Clinton “to see before your Netanyahu mtg. Marina will grab for you.”

Yet it appears Clinton was never asked by the FBI in its yearlong investigation to turn over the iMac that Santos used to receive the emails, or the printer she used to print out the documents, or the printouts themselves.
As Larry O'Connor writes,
These revelations make FBI Director James Comey’s last-minute clean bill of legal health delivered to Clinton late Sunday night even that much more maddening and confusing. The entire premise of Comey’s decision to not recommend charges against Clinton hinged on his assessment that there was no “clear intent” to mishandle classified material. Set aside the fact that the law specifically dictates that intent is irrelevant to the question of mishandling sensitive material, how clear does intent need to be when there are emails specifically directing a person without a scintilla of appropriate clearance to print, handle and collect government documents that now are so sensitive they must be redacted from the general public?
Because, apparently, Hillary didn't know how to print out documents herself, she thought nothing of having someone without clearance or even working for the government have access to all sorts of State Department materials, including classified documents. She is Queen Hillary and so the rules don't apply to her and she didn't seem to even give a fig for those rules. Why wasn't that part of the FBI investigation or concern? Because the whole investigation was rigged before it even started.

Mark Steyn comments
on this story.
As usual, America's money-no-object federal bureaucracy went to the trouble of installing in Mrs Clinton's home a SCIF ("Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility") that only those with top security clearances are meant to be able to access - and then Hillary let her Filipina maid have the run of it. These materials are so sensitive that, even when they're coughed up to these inquiries and investigations, they're heavily redacted: You can't see them but Marina Santos sees everything: She's J Edgar with a Hoover. On Her Majesty's Secret Servant. For Your And Your Servants' Eyes Only. Hillary erased the distinction between the intelligence service, the diplomatic service and domestic service - because to her they're all servants, and who can tell the difference?

As the NY Post points out, we're going to be hearing about Hillary's emails for a long time to come.
The good-government group Judicial Watch is in court Monday morning for a hearing on its ongoing demands for emails uncovered during the FBI investigation.

Plus, as Sperry has noted, the bureau passed on checking several promising leads to missing copies of the clintonemail.com archives. These may yet surface.

Outsider groups like Judicial Watch won’t stop, either. Nor will Congress let go of the affair: Hearings on the email mess, and on the Justice Department’s handling of the FBI probe, may drag on for years. (Not to mention the Clinton Foundation hearings . . .)

Then too, the foreign governments that likely hacked the server years ago might well be hanging on to their data, to reveal publicly or use privately to blackmail Clinton or others in her inner circle.


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3 comments:

tfhr said...

This is not the worst of times; just the worst of candidates.

Well said, Betsy, but I think it is a short distance from the latter to the former.

tfhr said...

There's still hope (and not the Hopey&Changey kind of "hope"):

http://www.duffelblog.com/2016/11/election-day-early-voting-polls-show-asteroid-leading-military-voters/

Locomotive Breath said...

"Our country isn't going to be destroyed no matter who wins."

I completely disagree. I lived in NC until the end of 2013. I've been in CA for 2014-2016. I'm 59. Nearing retirement age, I just bought a house back in NC. I'm self employed. The quote I just got from Blue Cross Blue Shield of NC was astounding.

The plan with the least monthly premium was $833/month or $10,000 per year. That's 5x of what it was in 2013. That cheapest plan has a deductible of $7,150. That's right, if I get sick I have to spend $17,150 before I see the first dollar of insurance. That's every single year. Assuming it doesn't take a similar jump next year.

Since I was able to buy a house for cash and since my savings are substantial, my most rational option is to stop working and stop paying taxes. Then I can get that same awful policy, with the $7,150 deductible, subsidized for $183/month. To get the subsidy, I have to reduce my income to $40,000. If I make $50,000 the subsidy disappears. So if I make the extra $10,000 to get from $40,000 to $50,000 it will cost me $7,800 or an effective marginal tax rate of 78%. That's exclusive of actual taxes.

Will the loss of taxes on my personal income wreck the gov't's budget? No. Will the loss of tax revenue multiplied by every productive person reaching the same conclusion wreck the gov't's budget. Yes.

If Hillary is elected we will continue the socialist death spiral of things like Obamacare by which the productive are sacrificed for the unproductive. We may already be past the point of no return. If Trump is elected maybe not. Not to mention the Supreme Court appointments.

It's a fallacy to think the country is invulnerable to this kind of rot from within. A history teacher should know this.