Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Cruising the Web

If we accept that the Russians interfered with our election, then it is worth exploring the consequences of Putin's interference. David French examines what Putin accomplished. First of all, he succeeded in undermining confidence in Hillary Clinton. Of course, her own actions at the State Department, particularly in rewarding investors who gave money to her husband or the family foundation. Remember the State Department signing off on selling a large fraction of our uranium to a Russian-owned company that had given President Clinton half a million dollars for one speech in Moscow. But, as French points out, Russia's actions also undermined confidence in Donald Trump, mostly because of his own behavior and words.
Moreover, the Trump campaign did nothing to dissuade the belief that it was too close to Putin. Trump repeatedly praised Putin, encouraged Russia to hack more emails, absurdly (and without evidence) tried to cast doubt on claims of Russian meddling, and for a time hired a man to run his campaign, Paul Manafort, who may have received millions of dollars in off-books cash transactions with a pro-Russia political party....Manafort later left the campaign, and there are now reports that the FBI is conducting a “preliminary inquiry” into his foreign business dealings.
As Trump still denies any credence in the idea that the Russians were behind the hacking. Picking Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State and Michael Flynn for national security adviser with their ties to Russia and friendliness with Putin doesn't instill any more confidence in Trump's judgment on Russia.

In addition to exposing the two candidates' weaknesses, the leaks also exposed what hacks a whole lot of journalists are. And Putin did undermine our faith in our government.
Right now there are millions upon millions of Americans who believe — to the bottom of their heart — that the 2016 election was fundamentally illegitimate. Putin saw an America more divided and distrustful than any time in modern history, and he pushed precisely on the right pressure point. Russian hacks and Twitter bots have to represent one the most cost-effective intelligence expenditures in modern memory. With remarkably little effort, he cast an election in doubt and exacerbated partisan political divisions.

At this point there has to be an investigation of Russian influence on the 2016 election — and of Russian efforts to influence American politics and discourse more broadly. It has to be bipartisan at least and independent at best. And if it confirms what virtually every intelligence agency contends — that Russia at the very least was attempting to act as a disruptive force — then there has to be a decisive American response. Even in the best of circumstances Russian interference would be intolerable. But we’re far from the best circumstances. America is polarized and awash in partisan outrage. Putin has made it worse.
Republicans need to get behind efforts to investigate this. Republicans would be up in arms if the situation were reversed and the hacks had been of Republican leaders and had played a role in a Hillary Clinton victory. They should not change their sense of outrage just because it benefited the Republican candidate.  Let's not forget that the real antagonist in all this is Putin, not the Democrats.

So far, we are getting mixed messages from the current administration. As Jim Geraghty has pointed out, the White House has denied that hackers tampered with the election.
In other words, the Russians hacked the DNC’s e-mails and John Podesta’s e-mails, but that, by itself, is not reason to question the election results. (Quick, find a voter who originally planned to vote for Clinton but shifted to Trump specifically because of either of those leaks.) Democrats who are furious about the election results are deliberately blurring the lines – suggesting that the Russian role in the cyber-break-ins amounts to a Russian role in the election results.
Meanwhile, what we have is anonymous leaking from the CIA to the Washington Post that the Russians were trying to help Trump. Ah, anonymous leaks about national security findings - that's always a suspicious sign. Then we hear, also from the Washington Post, that the FBI and CIA are on different pages when it comes to their conclusions about the leaking. This story reads like a leak from Republicans to counter the original CIA story and point out that the Democrats were upset that the FBI wouldn't be as definitive in blaming Russia.
The divergent messages from the CIA and the FBI put a spotlight on the difficulty faced by intelligence and law enforcement officials as they try to draw conclusions about the Kremlin’s motives for hacking Democratic Party emails during the 2016 race. Officials are frequently looking at information that is fragmentary. They also face issues assessing the intentions of a country expert at conducting sophisticated “influence” operations that made it hard — if not iwith cyberseumpossible — to conclusively detect the Kremlin’s elusive fingerprints.

The competing messages, according to officials in attendance, also reflect cultural differences between the FBI and the CIA. The bureau, true to its law enforcement roots, wants facts and tangible evidence to prove something beyond all reasonable doubt. The CIA is more comfortable drawing inferences from behavior.
James Taranto comments on these tales of "Spy vs. Spy." We heard during the campaign that Russia was responsible for the hacks so this isn't new. What is new is the conclusion that Russia got involved with the goal of helping Donald Trump. Taranto makes these observations.
This columnist does not have sufficient intelligence to form a firm opinion as to whether the FBI is too cautious in its conclusions or the CIA is reckless in its. We would observe, however, that broadly speaking, those who side with the CIA approach here are the same people who favor the FBI method when it comes to foreign terrorists—i.e., treating them as criminal suspects entitled to due-process protections, including the benefit of any reasonable doubt.

Two additional points. First, the Post describes the CIA’s report as “secret.” So how is it that everyone knows about it? The answer, obviously, is that officials who were privy to the secrets improperly provided them to the press. (Here we should note that we do not fault the Post or the Times for having published the information they received, and that we would have done the same.)

Second, according to the Times report, even if the Russians were trying to help Trump, they didn’t expect to be successful...

So American officials made secret information public with the effect—and, one may surmise, the intent—of raising questions about the legitimacy of President-elect Trump. That’s exactly what they accuse the Russians of having planned to do to Mrs. Clinton.
And now we're getting other leaks from another intelligence agency questioning the leak from the CIA that the Russians were motivated by desiring to elect Trump.
The overseers of the U.S. intelligence community have not embraced a CIA assessment that Russian cyber attacks were aimed at helping Republican President-elect Donald Trump win the 2016 election, three American officials said on Monday.

While the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) does not dispute the CIA's analysis of Russian hacking operations, it has not endorsed their assessment because of a lack of conclusive evidence that Moscow intended to boost Trump over Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton, said the officials, who declined to be named.

The position of the ODNI, which oversees the 17 agency-strong U.S. intelligence community, could give Trump fresh ammunition to dispute the CIA assessment, which he rejected as "ridiculous" in weekend remarks, and press his assertion that no evidence implicates Russia in the cyber attacks.
Isn't anyone else that we're getting leaks about top-security intelligence investigations.

Adding Russian hacking of political emails to the hacking of businesses like Sony and the Office of Personnel Management, we have a serious problem with cybersecurity. What I haven't seen is any serious discussion of what we're going to do to protect such information. I don't know if that is because it is all going on behind the scene or because we don't really have a way to stay ahead of the hackers. And it's not clear what the Obama administration or a Trump administration could do in retaliation for state sponsors of hacking.

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Now the Democrats are making one last desperate ploy to forestall Trump's presidency by trying to get Electors to vote against him due to the hacking scandal. The WSJ responds to John Podesta's letter asking for a special intelligence briefing for the electors.
What should really distress Americans is that the losers are trying to overturn the election results based on little more than anonymous leaks and innuendo. Whatever Russia’s hacking motives, there is no evidence that the emails it turned up were decisive to the election result. Mr. Podesta is citing a CIA judgment that Americans have never seen and whose findings are vaguely public only because one or more unidentified officials chose to relate them to a few reporters last week.

Much of the press is reporting these as the gospel truth, though it isn’t clear that the CIA’s judgment is even shared across the intelligence community. The FBI doesn’t share the CIA’s confidence about Russia’s hacking motive, and our sources say the evidence is thin for the CIA’s conclusion.

Yet Mr. Podesta’s demand is that those same unidentified leakers now give a secret briefing to the 538 electors, most of whom lack any experience in judging the nuances of intelligence. Those electors are then supposed to decide based on information Americans won’t have seen whether they should invalidate the results of an election in which more than 128 million voted. Even Vladimir Putin at his most devious couldn’t have imagined his cyber-spooks would provoke this much anti-democratic nonsense.

This effort is all the more pernicious because it poisons with partisanship the serious issue of foreign intelligence hacking, not least by the Russians. Foreign cyber-attacks have proliferated during the Obama years, but the President has never held any national government accountable. Even when officials fingered the Russians this summer for the hacks on the Democratic National Committee, Mr. Obama did nothing but wag a finger.

Yet now, at the end of his term, he has ordered a secret report on the election-related hacking to be on his desk before he leaves office on Jan. 20. Then the news of this report coincidentally leaks, along with the CIA’s new conclusion about Russia’s motive, a mere 11 days before the Electoral College votes. Did those leakers—probably including CIA Director and Obama confidant John Brennan—act with White House assent?

This political farce is compounded by a press corps that spent Monday demanding that GOP leaders in Congress say if they too support investigations into the Russian hacking. Never mind that the Senate and House intelligence committees, both led by Republicans, have been looking into the election-related hacking for months, often with far too little cooperation from the Obama Administration.

Then the press reports as major news the non-story that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has endorsed an intelligence probe that has long been underway. Talk about fake news.

The entire spectacle looks more like a Democratic attempt to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the election than it does serious concern about cyber-spying. Democrats must figure they can’t lose. They know the Electoral College isn’t likely to throw the election to Hillary Clinton, but the headlines can help undermine public support for Mr. Trump’s Presidency even before he takes office. And these folks blame Donald Trump for violating democratic “norms.”

Conservatives are having a lot of fun finding examples of "fake news" that Democrats have trumpeted. The Washington Examiner has some more examples.
Clinton and her campaign team were peddling fake news before it was cool.

When WikiLeaks released the first 20,000 emails from John Podesta's inbox, the Clinton campaign denounced the embarrassing digital correspondence as fabricated and falsified. Without double checking, journalists from the Atlantic to MSNBC ran with the narrative on air and on Twitter, and one shady website's writeup of the false claim was shared on Facebook more than 40,000 times....

If journalists want to know why they've lost credibility, they should in many cases read through their own clips. This week has been full of egregious examples.

A Washington Post columnist regurgitated the myth that Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin inspired a 2011 mass shooting in Arizona. A writer at the Chicago Tribune accused House Speaker Paul Ryan of trying to steal school lunches from hungry children. And disgraced NBC News Anchor Brian Williams parroted the claim that fake news cost Hillary Clinton the election.

Jed Babbin reminds us how Obama has been "the king of fake news."
There is only one King of Fake News. That’s President Barack Obama.

Everyone remembers his line, “If you like your healthcare plan, you can keep it,” which was PolitiFact’s lie of the year in 2013. But to fully grasp how Obama and his disastrous team relied on their media pals to spread fake news in order to propel his agenda for the past eight years we have to recall the actions of three people: Jonathan Gruber, Ben Rhodes, and Susan Rice.

Jonathan Gruber was one of the principal architects of Obamacare. Although Obama denied that Gruber was on his staff, Gruber was paid about $400,000 to draft parts of the Obamacare bill. The individual mandate — which requires every American to buy health insurance or pay a fine — is his idea.

In 2014, seven videos of Gruber’s speeches were published. In them, he ridiculed Americans, saying we are so thoroughly stupid that he and the rest of Obama’s team were able to lie on fundamental points of Obamacare to get the bill through Congress and engage the media to publish their lies.

In the videos, Gruber boasted that if people had been told the truth about Obamacare, the bill would have died in Congress. He said the bill “was written in a tortured way so that the Congressional Budget Office didn’t determine that the individual mandate was a tax. He said “the lack of transparency is a huge political advantage” and that “the stupidity of the American voter… was really, really critical for the thing to pass.”

Ben Rhodes is Obama’s Deputy National Security Advisor for “strategic communications.” He writes many of Obama’s speeches, plans his foreign trips, and, according to a May 2016 paean to him in the New York Times, is the most influential foreign policy voice in the White House, second only to the president.

The article quoted Rhodes bragging about how he and Obama had lied to Americans and the rest of the world sufficiently to sell Obama’s nuclear weapons deal with Iran to the public.

The article recounts, in specific terms, how Obama and Rhodes lied to Congress and the American people, employing the useful idiots of the media. It wasn’t hard to bamboozle the press, he said, because where once there were foreign press bureaus staffed with experienced reporters, now there are only domestic reporters, 20-somethings who literally knew nothing. Rhodes bragged about having created an “echo chamber” in the media, think tanks, and all around the country to spread disinformation about the deal.

Obama’s — Rhodes’s — campaign to sell the Iran deal to the public was, as the Times article boasts, almost entirely false

John Fund observes how happy conservatives are with most of Trump's nominees and how upset Democrats are. For conservatives who doubted that Trump, a former Democrat, would fight for conservative ideas, this is a pleasant surprise. So Fund looks for explanations of Trump's move to the right.

So why has Trump moved in such a conservative direction since his election? Interviews with several people around him turn up several answers.

1. During the campaign, Trump learned a lot about the country and how its economic vitality had been sapped and its foreign-policy standing eroded during the Obama years. “He now recognizes that the problems confronting the nation require bold reforms, and delaying the treatment will only sap his political capital,” former education secretary Bill Bennett says.

2. The refusal of previous GOP presidential nominees George H. W. Bush, John McCain, and George W. Bush to back Trump in the general election has liberated Trump from obligations; he owes very little to them or their followers. “An entire existing infrastructure of establishment Republicans are not favored to run cabinet agencies as would normally be the case,” a key Trump adviser told me. “Fresh faces, new ideas, and résumés unburdened by special-interest ties move towards the top of the pile.”

3. The viciousness with which left-wing allies of Hillary Clinton and their media enablers attacked Trump persuaded the New York billionaire that there was no making peace with his adversaries. “He is not a traditional conservative, but he sure as hell knows who his enemies are,” a Trump aide told me. “He won’t be forgetting that either he defangs them, or they will defang him.”

Of all the people that Trump was rumored to be considering for Secretary of State, I have to say that Tillerson was one of the ones I wanted the least. Rich Lowry wonders if Tillerson realizes how bad his hearings are going to be.
But with Tillerson marked out as a vulnerable nominee if Trump actually selects him and Democrats inflamed on Russia and convinced that he’s an enemy of Planet Earth, congressional Democrats will want to closely examine every Exxon-Mobil deal anywhere in the world and rifle through every Exxon-Mobil document they can’t get their hands on. It’s hard to believe that they won’t find material that is at least easily exploitable in a political context and if Tillerson doesn’t comply with document requests and the like, he will be attacked for stonewalling and hiding something. Even if he’s confirmed, it will likely be a painful process for him and Exxon-Mobil.
I can't imagine that Exxon-Mobil is thrilled with getting any more bad press than they already receive. If Halliburton became almost a curse word, Exxon-Mobil won't have far to go to fall to achieve that status.

I also wonder how sure it is that Tillerson will get through the Senate. Rand Paul has publicly said that he'd block John Bolton's nomination to be Secretary of State. Republicans hold only a one-seat margin on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and Paul's opposition was enough to sink Bolton. Now we're hearing from Marco Rubio criticizing Tillerson's ties to Putin.
"Being a 'friend of Vladimir' is not an attribute I am hoping for from a #Secretary of State" Rubio tweeted.
Maybe Rubio is hoping to alter the decision since Trump has demonstrated that he's sometimes susceptible to push-back in his choice of Secretary of State. That's my hope. Like Rubio, I'm not thrilled by having another friend of Vladimir in Trump's inner circle. It's bad enough that the President-elect seems strangely enamored of Putin. It only takes three GOP senators to oppose Tillerson's nomination. Unless Tillerson can do something to reject the impression that he's a pal of Putin, perhaps there are three such Republicans who can get word to Priebus that they would vote against the nomination.

The Washington Post thinks that Tillerson could be blocked by at least three Senate Republicans. In addition to Rubio, Lindsey Graham, and John McCain have also expressed their reservations. And the Democrats will be salivating to use the nomination hearings as an occasion to challenge Trump and Tillerson's connections to Russia.
-- In case you missed it, here is some background on his ties to Putin and his cronies: “In the 1990s, Tillerson oversaw an Exxon project on Russia’s Sakhalin island and developed a working relationship with Putin. In 2011, Exxon signed an agreement with the state-controlled oil company, Rosneft, to work jointly on oil exploration and development in the Arctic and Siberia. After inking the deal in New York, Tillerson and Rosneft chairman and Putin confidant Igor Sechin dined on caviar at the luxury Manhattan restaurant Per Se,” Steven Mufson and Philip Rucker report. “The next day, they gave oil analysts black pens with the date of the agreement engraved in gold. Two years later, the Kremlin awarded Tillerson the Order of Friendship, an honor reserved for foreigners.”

-- This confirmation fight would become the proxy for a broader debate about Russian interference in the American election. That is a debate Trump does not want to have.

-- Reinforcing this, Trump even cited Tillerson’s relationship with Putin as an asset. “To me, a great advantage is he knows many of the players, and he knows them well. He does massive deals in Russia,” the president-elect said on “Fox News Sunday,” adding that Rex is “a world-class player.” In the same interview, he argued that the CIA’s conclusion is “ridiculous” and he does not “believe it at all.”

-- But Trump, during that Fox interview and then on Twitter, spoke as if Tillerson is not a done deal, giving himself an out and easy way to save face:
In addition to Rubio, the Post posits that two other GOP members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Rand Paul, and Jeff Flake might also oppose Tillerson.

If anything, those nomination hearings will be brutal. I don't know why anyone would leave a position as CEO of one of the biggest companies in the world to be Secretary of State and undergo all these attacks.
All of Exxon’s deals would come under the microscope, especially the ones that have been adversely affected by the U.S. sanctions that were imposed on Russia after its illegal invasion of Crimea. Exxon claims these sanctions cost it $1 billion a year.

“Exxon discovered oil in a well it drilled in the Kara Sea, but the joint partnership was put on ice after Russian intervention in Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea led to international economic sanctions,” Mufson and Rucker note. “As secretary of state, Tillerson, who has been critical of the sanctions, would be in a position to argue for easing them, which could allow Exxon to resume operations. And for a company the size of Exxon, few countries outside of Russia hold sufficient potential to bolster the oil giant’s reserves. In addition to the Arctic, Exxon wants to drill in the deep waters of the Black Sea and search for shale oil in West Siberia. In each case, the company would be providing expertise and technology that Russia lacks. ‘Russia is critical for Exxon,’ said Fadel Gheit, an oil analyst for Oppenheimer & Co.”

-- Tillerson’s personal stake in Exxon is more than $150 million. Because much of this is via stock options that do not mature for a while, he cannot easily divest or put everything in a blind trust. How will he not think of his company’s interests in 50 countries and on six continents as he negotiates on behalf of the U.S.?

-- The bigger issue, though, would be questions about where Tillerson’s true loyalties lie. The CEO is a major character in Steve Coll’s excellent 2012 book on Exxon, “Private Empire.” Coll, the dean of the Columbia Journalism School, describes Tillerson’s selection as “astonishing on many levels” in a new piece for the New Yorker. “As an exercise of public diplomacy, it will certainly confirm the assumption of many people around the world that American power is best understood as a raw, neocolonial exercise in securing resources,” he writes. “It is hard to imagine, after four decades at ExxonMobil and a decade leading the corporation, how Tillerson will suddenly develop respect and affection for the American diplomatic service he will now lead, or embrace a vision of America’s place in the world that promotes ideals for their own sake, emphatically privileging national interests over private ones.”

The main theme of Steve’s book is that ExxonMobil sees itself as an independent, transnational corporate sovereign, with power independent of the American government, and devoted firmly to shareholder interests.

Bret Stephens mocks Trump's insouciance on Putin.
Vladimir Putin used to worry me. A lot. But I’m over it.

In September 1999 a series of apartment bombings in three Russian cities killed nearly 300 people. The Kremlin promptly blamed Chechen rebels, sparking the Second Chechen War.

Later that September, agents of Russia’s security service, the FSB, placed explosives in the basement of an apartment building in the city of Ryazan. Authorities claimed it was a training exercise, and that the explosives were merely sacks of sugar. An independent parliamentary inquiry went nowhere. Documents related to the incident are under 75-year seal. The bombings were instrumental in bringing Mr. Putin to power.

It once appalled me to think that he might hold his office thanks to a false-flag operation that would have made Macbeth blush and Richard III smile. But I’m OK with it now. We need Mr. Putin to defeat the terrorists in Syria.

Among the members of the Ryazan inquiry was liberal politician Sergei Yushenkov and investigative journalists Otto Latsis and Yuri Shchekochikhin. Yushenkov was assassinated in April 2003. Latsis was killed after a jeep rammed into his Peugot in September 2005. Shchekochikhin fell violently ill in June 2003, lost all his hair, suffered multiple organ failures and died 16 days later.

The following year, Viktor Yushchenko, a Ukrainian opposition figure seen as hostile to Russia, fell mysteriously ill as he was campaigning for the presidency. He survived to win the office, but his face was permanently disfigured by what turned out to be dioxin poisoning. Two years later, Alexander Litvinenko, a former FSB agent and political asylee in Britain, ingested a fatal dose of polonium. An official inquiry concluded that his murder was conducted by the FSB with the likely personal approval of Mr. Putin.

No big deal. As President-elect Trump told Joe Scarborough last year, “our country does plenty of killing also.”

....In 2015, Germany’s domestic intelligence service concluded that Russia hacked the email accounts of the entire German parliament. Bulgaria’s electoral commission was subjected to a cyberattack the same year, in what the country’s president called “an attack on Bulgarian democracy.” Russia, MI5 chief Andrew Parker told the Guardian last month, “is using its whole range of state organs and powers to push its foreign policy abroad in increasingly aggressive ways—involving propaganda, espionage, subversion and cyber-attacks.”

But why should we trust him? I prefer to believe that every Western intelligence agency has it wrong when they put the blame on Russia.

....Russia’s domestic lawlessness used to worry me. But since Mr. Tillerson was awarded the Order of Friendship by Mr. Putin in 2013, I assume nothing’s amiss.

Mr. Tillerson has made his reputation as a big-time deal-maker, and that’s the skill Mr. Trump is said to be looking for in a secretary of state so he can pursue the art of the deal at the highest tables. With the Kremlin, such a deal might involve dropping Western sanctions on Russia, a policy that Mr. Tillerson supports, and recognizing its territorial conquests in Ukraine in exchange for a Russian promise not to invade NATO member states.

Can Russia be trusted? In September 2013 Mr. Putin warned, in reference to Syria, that “military intervention in internal conflicts in foreign countries” would prove “ineffective and pointless.” Russia intervened in Syria two years later. In March 2014 Russian defense minister Sergei Shoigu told Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel that Russian military exercises would not lead to an invasion of eastern Ukraine. Russian forces crossed the border later that year. In 1987 Russia signed the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. This October, the U.S. accused Russia of producing a cruise missile in violation of the agreement.

Russia’s willingness to lie used to distress me. But after this election season, political outrage has become passé. Why worry about Mr. Putin when it’s so much easier to love him?
Trump's apparent insouciance matches that of the Democrats under Obama until their emails got hacked. That seems to have upset Democrats much ore than any of the other actions that Stephens reminds us of.

Glenn Reynolds writes about how college campuses operate to "other" conservatives and libertarians.
People who study patterns of discrimination talk about behaviors like “othering,” about marginalization, and about microaggressions. But in my experience, these behaviors are prominent in the world of academia, and they’re often aimed at conservative or libertarian students and faculty who depart from whatever the current left-leaning orthodoxy is.

When professors or administrators act as if Trump and his supporters are uniquely evil, as opposed to simply one political coalition, they are engaging in “othering.” The message is that Trump — and, more significantly, his supporters on campus — aren’t really members of the community in good standing. They’re a dangerous “other” who must be closely watched, carefully scrutinized, thoroughly stigmatized, and maybe shunned.

When Trump supporters, or campus Republicans or libertarians, find their perspectives excluded from events or reflected only in token fashion (a conservative professor I know was asked to do a panel on the election as the only conservative among 6 otherwise-leftist panelists), or are treated as outliers despite the fact that Trump won, that’s marginalization.

And the thousand tiny in-group signals constantly emitted by members of the university community, to the effect that leftists are good, Republicans are racists, and middle-class, working-class, or rural Americans are ignorant and bigoted, are microaggressions. And pretty common ones, most places.

Universities and their administrators are exquisitely sensitive to these kinds of things when they afflict people they care about, and almost wilfully blind to them when they affect people who — not to put too fine a point on it — they don’t really care about. If all the talk about diversity and inclusion is to be taken seriously, they’re going to have to work on recognizing the political diversity on their own campuses, and making those who hold different views feel included. Right now, many are doing a poor job. I hope that students, alumni, legislators and trustees will encourage them to do better.
I think it's funny that Reynolds is using a term from the left, "othering," to point out how the left is treating conservatives the way they used to complain about how minorities or women were regarded.

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If controlling the media's focus is the goal of politicians, then Salena Zito is correct that Trump is "winning the transition."
As a political scientist, Sracic is astounded that "this is such a different political world, we are not used to any of this."

Trump has no rule of consistency: He breaks political protocol and orthodoxies on a fairly regular basis; he has jumped from campaigning to almost governing and can swiftly change his mind, sometimes going in the complete opposite direction of what he said a day (or even hours) before.

And the tweeting ... so much tweeting.

It's a little scary, because what he is doing is so unfamiliar.

We know how the other way works out, the way we've been doing things for years, Sracic said, but we don't know how this way will work out.

"So, while everyone is sort of attacking him from all sides, it is not affecting him with the voters, just like it didn't affect him during the election," Sracic said. "If anything, it's like he is becoming more popular."

And that is why most people didn't pick up on the fact that he was going to win: They could not believe his behavior could equate to a victory.

Sracic warns that the press, the political class, academics, and the establishment still do not understand that his unorthodoxy is popular among voters.

"Honestly, I think that is what people wanted," he said.

The headline should be that Trump not only won the election, said Sracic, but that he is winning the post-election as well.

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Is this a surprise to anyone?
A “Marxist” “collectivist” “worker-run” restaurant in Grand Rapids, Michigan, closed its doors this week after customers complained that they could no longer tolerate the bizarre hours, high prices and long lines.

The Garden Diner and Cafe—previously known as the Bartertown Diner—featured a vegan, vegetarian and raw food menu that had met with significant national acclaim. But the restaurant’s business model, which did not allow for bosses or managers, promised a “living wage” to all employees and a strong union, did not allow the restaurant to make enough profit to stay in business.

Worse still, while the food earned Bartertown a spot on VegNews’s “10 Hot New Vegan Restaurants” list, customers complained that it was almost impossible to get a meal at the diner.

People frequently noted on the restaurant’s Facebook page that they waited more than 40 minutes for a sandwich—and that’s when the diner was even open. Because the employees set the shop’s hours by group decision, the restaurant opened and closed at random times, leaving potential sandwich buyers totally confused.
Gee, do you think anyone will learn a lesson about Marxism from this? Of course not.


george boggs said...

"On campus it was tearstained coloring books, sad little therapeutic puppies and vows of self-immolation. In the media it was stunned but still snarky pundits, stripped of one certainty, test driving others, with all the joy of a procession to boot hill. They can imagine no greater injustice than losing a fair and free election."

Gotz the sadz. Lookin fo'th "root cauzez". Mustabin th' Rooskies.

Linda Fox said...

I'll get concerned about business ties and entanglements when the Progressives get concerned about their people's back-door deals with NGOs, foundations, and advocacy groups.

mardony said...

Trump charged (speech on 6/22/16) that Hillary Clinton’s State Department "approved the transfer of 20 percent of America’s uranium holdings to Russia, while nine investors in the deal funneled $145 million to the Clinton Foundation.". Politifact called this "mostly false" and Snopes shot it down. The NYT story, based on "Clinton Cash", was subsequently criticized by its own public editor. But in the minds of the Alex Jones faithful, those Clintons are to blame for the Russian's hacking program. http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2016/jun/30/donald-trump/donald-trump-inaccurately-suggests-clinton-got-pai/

george boggs said...

"[P]eople who want to keep their current insurance should be able to do that under Obama's plan. His description of his plan is accurate, and we rate his statement True."
--- Politifact, 2008

Most "fact-checking" is editorializing, and should be treated as such.

Taranto: How to Destroy Journalism http://www.wsj.com/articles/how-to-destroy-journalism-1468605725

tfhr said...


Are you disputing the point that the Russians paid Slick Willy to give a speech and his partner in pay-for-play gave the State Department stamp of approval for said uranium?

So, in other words, you are saying Bill Clinton did not get paid to speak in Russia and his wife was not Secretary of State and not only did not but could not approve the deal that allowed the sale of uranium. Got it. We sure are lucky to have you to sort these things out.

mardony said...

Celebrate Trump's oil-soaked trifecta. (1) Rex Tillerson, SoS nominee and petrostate boss, made his ExxonMobil bones shaking down despots around the world for energy deals. His firm is under investigation by several states' attorneys general and the SEC for falsifying climate change data and misleading stockholders (think tobacco). (2) Rick Perry, nominated to head the Dept. of Energy, the name of which he famously forgot, said this in his book-thing that he (?) wrote in support of his recent rocket run for the GOP nomination: "Quite frankly, when (climate) science gets hijacked by the political Left, we should all be concerned. . . . And it's all one contrived phony mess that is falling apart under its own weight." He also stated the BP oil spill "was an act of God." A Koch fave and Americans for Prosperity darling, Perry also hosted prayer sessions to end Texas draughts. It's even money he will need daily help to find his office. Then there's (3) Scott Pruitt, far right zealot and Trump's nominee for EPA head who has devoted his attorney generalship to suing the federal govt. (ACA, abortion rights, Hobby Lobby), and especially the EPA (coincidence?) for its regulations on methane (30 times worse than CO2 for holding atmospheric heat). Are any of the poor Trump voters in coal country getting the message? Are the rest of us getting the message?

Locomotive Breath said...

"encouraged Russia to hack more emails"

I was a joke. Typically the leftists took and are still taking it literally to avoid talking about the real problem of Hillary intentionally hiding official correspondence on an insecure private server that was hacked by someone. "At this point, what difference does it make" who hacked the server? The real problem the newsies want to ignore is that it was illegal and hackable in the first place just because it was damaging to Hillary's campaign.

george boggs said...

Ahhh, mardony. The ole SJW "Change the Subject" Gambit. Geez. Ya had me goin' for a minnit, there. I thought you wuz talkin' 'bout youwranium.

Thanks for the info, though. I love them fossil fuelz. They keep me toasty in the winter, frosty in the summer, power my 4WD V8 pickup, and will, someday, provide the energy to recycle all those windmills destroying the viewscape across America. As Ted Kennedy said about the windmill proposal off Cape Cod, "[T]hat's where I sail!!"

And then... Last but certainly not least, there's my stock portfolio. Sweet.

You go, Donald! I'll light a couple of propane patio heaters in your honor and invite some guys over for beers. Gonna serve some Chick-Fil-A.

mardony said...

When truth is more satirical than satire.
"Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, a leading evangelical who served as a Donald Trump surrogate during the general election, is not happy with Trump's choice of ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson to serve as secretary of state. When Tillerson was CEO of Exxon, the energy company donated money to Planned Parenthood, an organization that performs more than 300,000 abortions per year in the United States."
Source: The Daily Standard

tfhr said...


Obama, the Clintons, and the left, are all in the pocket of George Soros - a man with a lot of oil in his business portfolio. In fact, he managed to get Obama to assist Brazil's offshore oil endeavors with our tax dollars. He must be very persuasive! Soros is a big investor in that gambit; I guess that doesn't count though because hypocrisy is quite alright for leftists and their cronies.

Don't like the prospects for two useless bureaucracies like the EPA and DOE? Good. That tells me Trump may have made a couple of good choices in selecting secretaries to take them apart. I think it's kind of a hoot that you attack Perry for seeking relief from drought with prayers when Global Warming / Global Cooling / Climate Change fanatics demand acceptance of their cult beliefs with the zeal of a blood soaked Huitzilopochtli himself demanding more sacrifices to fend off the end of the world. It's laughable - but not in the funny sense of the word - that you actually believe certain politicians can control the weather, the tides, etc.!

As for coal country - it's in the flyover states - and they are the ones sending the messages here, only Hillary didn't want to hear it for herself until she was forced and even now, you're still curled up on floor with your fingers in your ears!

tfhr said...


What do windmills and Chik-Fil-a have in common?

Bird chunks! They also make a lot of money but in the case of the former, it's probably not worth the investment and the latter, while it generates tax revenue, it doesn't require it to become functional or to survive.

george boggs said...

Ahem. Excuse me, mardony. Tillerson still is the CEO of Exxon. Whoever wrote that is a true journalist.

But, hopefully, not for long. The Arctic is ripe for drilling, too.

george boggs said...

tfhr: Brilliant! I'll bet you could get a direct feed from the wind "farm" (now I know why they call them farms!) to the meat packer.

Condor Sliders.

george boggs said...

Sorry. Artisanal Condor Sliders.

tfhr said...


mardony said...

So much fun. Never fails. Throw out a few pellets and the gerbils hop on their wheels and wheeeee, away they go round and round.

george boggs said...

We love you, mardony!

tfhr said...

A gerbil wheel? C'mon! I think you're better than that. Maybe a chew toy?

Nice doggie.