Friday, December 16, 2016

Cruising the Web

This sure doesn't sound like the best method to persuade a Republican elector to vote against Donald Trump.
Electors around the country are being harassed with a barrage of emails, phone calls and letters — and even death threats — in an effort to block Donald Trump from being voted in as president by the Electoral College on Monday.

The bullying is overwhelming Sharon Geise’s tech devices, but not her resolve to support Trump.

The Mesa, Arizona, grandmother woke up Wednesday morning to more than 1,500 emails demanding she not carry out her legal duty to vote for the president-elect.

“They just keep coming and coming,” Geise told The Post, estimating she’s received more than 50,000 emails since the election. “They’re overpowering my iPad.”

....Reports of GOP electors being badgered have been reported in numerous states, including Georgia, Idaho, Tennessee, Arizona, Utah and Michigan.

Like Geise, Republican Patricia Allen of Tennessee told The Post she’s been bombarded with 2,000 emails, 120 letters and five phone calls all urging her to switch and vote against Trump. But Allen, 74, said that despite the “siege,” she’s not budging.

“This has never happened before … Do you know how long it takes to delete all those emails every day?” she asked....

For Michael Banerian, a senior at Oakland University in Michigan and a Republican elector, the harassment comes with a dark side.

He said he’s been getting death threats via email, snail mail, Twitter and Facebook.

“Somebody threatened to put a bullet in the back of my mouth,” Banerian, 22, told The Post on Wednesday.
Whenever there is a story that makes Republicans look bad, every elected Republican is asked by the media to denounce what is going on. I don't see Democrats being forced by the media to denounce such harassment of the electors. And despite Harvard professor Lawrence Lessig's claims that there are 20 GOP electors who might vote against Trump, that doesn't seem to happening. The Associated Press has interviewed more than 330 electors from both parties and doesn't find some major movement for them to vote against their party's candidate.
Whether they like Trump or not, and some plainly don't, scores of the Republicans chosen to cast votes in the state-capital meetings told AP they feel bound by history, duty, party loyalty or the law to rubber-stamp their state's results and make him president.

Appeals numbering in the tens of thousands - drowning inboxes, ringing cellphones, stuffing home and office mailboxes with actual handwritten letters - have not swayed them.

And thinking that a video of Hollywood liberals asking Republican electors not to vote for Trump doesn't seem like a winning tactic to appeal to Republicans whom these same elites are usually contemptuously deriding. Jazz Shaw comments,
We are then informed of their true goal. Throw the election to the House of Representatives and allow them to select a qualified candidate. One star after another says, “I stand with you.” This is followed by another group repeating in robotic fashion, “You have my respect.”

Really? Your respect? Where was all of that respect for Republicans during the campaign?

....Let’s be honest here for a moment, folks. This is a group of limousine liberals with private jets who wouldn’t spit on the head of a GOP elector if their hair was on fire before their candidate lost. But now they want to convince these electors that they will be well respected “American heroes” if they overturn the election and toss it to the House.
If it went into the House, the Republicans control more state delegations so Trump would still win. It just is an effort to throw more sand in the gears. It reminds me that, in 2000, if the count in Florida hadn't been stopped, the state wouldn't have been able to cast their electoral votes and the election would have gone into the House. At that time, the Republicans controlled a narrow majority of state delegations so George W. Bush would have won anyway.

Charles Lane argues that Democrats should just shut up about Hillary winning the popular vote. That's not how the game is played. And candidates as well as voters knew about that and behaved accordingly.
As all concerned knew going in, the object of the presidential election game is to win the most electoral votes in what are essentially 51 state-level contests (the District included), just as the object of football is to score the most points. Gridiron teams would play differently under instructions to maximize yardage; candidates would campaign differently if maximizing national popular votes were the prime directive.

Aiming for 270 electoral votes out of 538, both Clinton and Trump focused on 13 swing states; Trump won that contest-within-a-contest by 816,000 votes.

Voters, too, behaved as they did based on the known rules. The popular vote reflects not only true preferences but also strategic voting (or abstention) by people in non-swing states, such as deep-blue California and deep-red Louisiana, who might have done something else in a direct-election scenario.

Take Texas, a red state Trump won by roughly 800,000 votes. His share in heavily Republican suburban counties lagged Mitt Romney’s 2012 performance by an average of eight percentage points; Clinton’s beat Obama’s by four, according to a data analysis by Sean Trende, senior election analyst for RealClearPolitics. Meanwhile, exit polling showed Trump beating Clinton by 13 points in a hypothetical two-way race, as opposed to the nine he won by in real life.

To Trende, this implies a lot of abstention or third-party voting by Republicans who were uncomfortable with Trump but might have swallowed their doubts if Clinton had a better chance to get the state’s 38 electoral votes — or win in a direct national election.
I just gave my midterm in my AP Government class and one of the essay questions was about how having winner-take-all elections impacts voter participation. One of the possible answers is that some voters will not turn out to vote if their state's electoral votes were assuredly going to go for one particular candidate. A Republican might not bother voting in California figuring that it wouldn't make a difference for Republicans. Or emocrat might not show up to vote if they assume that their party has it in the bag. So we have no idea what the results would have been if the election were conducted with the popular-vote winner becoming president.

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Ah, the IRS finding more ways to make everyone despise them. Do they have meetings to come up with ideas of how to raise the nation's ire?
The Senate Finance Committee report, obtained by, found that while federal guidelines say employees must exercise the same care in incurring expenses as a “prudent person” traveling on personal business, IRS employees who traveled 125 business days or more racked up an average cost of over $52,000 a year.

The committee found more than half of the long-term travel time was spent in the Washington D.C., area. It found cases of five employees living in hotels, primarily in the capital, for months at a time without looking for lower-cost housing or having their per diem rates reduced as outlined in federal guidelines.

Further, the committee found “the IRS does not routinely or actively seek to reduce per diem rates for employees on long-term travel.”

The generous per diem rate allows employees traveling to Washington to spend up to $7,099 a month on lodging alone, despite the committee seeing “virtually no circumstance” in which an employee would need to spend that much on a month-to-month basis.

And yet some employees pushed the limits on the taxpayers' dime.

The report cites the case of one employee spending more than five months at the Grand Hyatt in Washington, racking up a $38,799 tab, while another stayed in a number of Washington hotels including the Ritz Carlton – Pentagon City in Northern Virginia to the tune of $72,544 for the fiscal year.

One employee rented a $1.07 million, four-bedroom townhouse in Arlington, Va., for a year, costing taxpayers $4,950 a month, while another stayed in a luxury apartment building in downtown Chicago overlooking the Chicago River at a price of $4,605 a month.

Also, despite the IRS’ own guidance to the contrary, the committee found evidence that some IRS executives are not geographically located where their primary job duties are, adding to the travel expenses.
Isn't there some way to get these employees to reimburse the government? Who approved these spending vouchers? All of them should be fired, but I bet no one will lose a job.

Mark Hemingway lists "three dumb arguments about Donald Trump's win Democrats need to stop making immediately." They need to stop whining about the Electoral College.
At the end of the day, even with Clinton’s popular vote margin, the fact is more Americans are voting for Republicans at the local, state, and federal level. If you’re a Democrat, this total electoral dominance by Republicans should scare the stuffing out of you. But when you’re losing the game, you need to play harder—you can’t just make up new rules as you go along.
Stop blaming FBI Director Comey.
It’s conceivable, per Nate Silver, that the Comey letter in late October gave Trump momentum and possibly swung the election. But my response, like most Americans, is “So what?” If you’re worried about an FBI investigation influencing a presidential election DON’T NOMINATE A CANDIDATE UNDER FBI INVESTIGATION. And you really, really, don’t want to nominate a candidate under investigation whose top aide’s husband is also being investigated by the FBI for child pornography who is also allegedly in possession of emails relevant to the candidate’s FBI investigation that he’s keeping on the same computer as his grody sex pics.

Seriously, stop and read those two previous sentences again, and think about why any normal person would be in any way sympathetic to this predicament. As to whether the Clinton email investigation was warranted in the first place, if you take this argument seriously I beg of you to ask one of the millions of Americans who’ve dealt with the rigmarole of getting a security clearance whether they think there’s an obvious double standard.

As to the possibility of Comey playing politics, if he was out to get her why didn’t he recommend charges initially? The political influence with the Clinton email investigation ran only in one direction, and that benefited Clinton. The attorney general in the position of bringing charges, Loretta Lynch, was appointed a U.S. attorney by Bill Clinton and later worked for a law firm connected to the Clintons for years. President Obama formally endorsed Hillary Clinton when the FBI investigation was still ongoing. That should have been grounds for a special prosecutor. The issue isn’t that Hillary Clinton was betrayed by Comey; the issue should be that she skated.
And stop trying to claim that her private server never endangered national security.
On one hand, Democrats have spent the last several months arguing that Clinton did nothing to endanger national security, presumably because we can be certain that Russians couldn’t hack into the server that everyone’s favorite abuela was keeping in the closet right the behind the Rubbermaid containers full of Christmas ornaments.

On the other hand, Democrats are now demanding we need a thorough congressional investigation right now because of concerns Russian hackers may have penetrated our entire electoral system across several states to steal the election
And the Democrats seem to have come rather late in the game to worrying about Russia.
Also, isn’t the fact that Russia is so hostile to us now and allegedly undermining our elections a pretty damning judgment on the competence of the woman in charge of overseeing Obama’s “Russian reset” if the point of that was more friendly relations? The charitable interpretation here is that Russia is, for whatever reason, so afraid of Clinton that they tried to undermine the election. But there was also a time, not that long ago, when intimidating Russians by calling them our “number one geopolitical foe” was a bad thing in the eyes of the media. Oddly, I’m not seeing too much contrition over what they did to Romney (this is about it), even as they are now in an unjustified panic.

Then again, we’re talking about a party that has an 80-year history of claiming Republicans were exaggerating the threat of Russia. In fact, “60 Minutes” ran a report about the effort to get Obama to pardon the Rosenbergs on October 16, three weeks before the election and 63 years after they were executed. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, we have all manner of evidence conclusively proving the Rosenbergs were spies. It’s not even a remotely controversial matter, unless, apparently, you’re a member of the media.

Now, there is one tangible precedent for the Russkies intervening in our elections. That’s because Ted Kennedy actually asked them to interfere in the 1984 election. For some strange reason this revelation wasn’t the first thing that inexplicably failed to, uh, sink Ted Kennedy’s career. Rather, it’s a story most Americans never even heard about.

It seems as if the media only cares about Russian threats insofar as they harm Democrats’ electoral chances. To hear Democrats screaming about the threat of Russia now, after ignoring the problem for decades, isn’t something that ordinary Americans are going to pay much attention to—at least not without more evidence and some real contrition regarding their about-face on the Russian threat.

The Washington Post
is harsh in its allotment of blame for the horror that is Aleppo. Yes, the Russians and Syrians are to blame, but the Obama administration carries its own weight of blame.
Above all, Aleppo represents a meltdown of the West’s moral and political will — and in particular, a collapse of U.S. leadership. By refusing to intervene against the Assad regime’s atrocities, or even to enforce the “red line” he declared on the use of chemical weapons, President Obama created a vacuum that was filled by Vladimir Putin and Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. As recently as October, Mr. Obama set aside options drawn up by his advisers to save Aleppo. Instead, he supported the delusional diplomacy of Secretary of State John F. Kerry, whose endless appeals to Moscow for cease-fires yielded — as Mr. Putin no doubt intended — nothing more than a humiliating display of American weakness.

On Tuesday, Mr. Obama’s U.N. ambassador, Samantha Power, delivered an impassioned denunciation of the Aleppo carnage, which she said would “join the ranks of those events in world history that define modern evil, that stain our conscience decades later.” She excoriated the Assad regime, Russia and Iran but offered no acknowledgment that the stain of Aleppo extends also to her, the president and American honor. Those who will live with the long-term consequences of the Syrian catastrophe are unlikely to be so forgiving.
Few in American government had the will for a stronger presence in Syria. It is much the same as Rwanda a couple of decades earlier or Darfur. We decline to act and so must take some of the blame when the ultimate in horrors happen.

Charles Krauthammer wonders
why it's so awful for heads to be nominated to agencies to have a different view of those agencies' missions.
The left has been in equally high dudgeon that other Cabinet picks appear not to share the mission of the agency which they have been nominated to head. The horror! As if these agency missions are somehow divinely ordained. Why, they aren’t even constitutionally ordained. The Education Department, for example, was created by President Carter in 1979 as a payoff to the teachers unions for their political support.

Now, teachers are wonderful. But teachers unions are there to protect benefits and privileges, not necessarily to improve schooling. Which is why they zealously defend tenure, protect their public-school monopoly and reflexively oppose school choice.

Conservatives have the odd view that the purpose of schooling — and therefore of the Education Department — is to provide students with the best possible education. Hence Trump’s nominee, Betsy DeVos, a longtime and passionate proponent of school choice, under whom the department will no longer be an arm of the teachers unions.

She is also less likely to allow the department’s Office for Civil Rights to continue appropriating to itself the role of arbiter of social justice, micromanaging everything from campus sexual mores to the proper bathroom assignment for transgender students. If the mission of this department has been to dictate policy best left to the states and localities, it’s about time the mission was changed.

The most incendiary nomination by far, however, is Scott Pruitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency. As attorney general of Oklahoma, he has joined or led a series of lawsuits to curtail EPA power. And has been upheld more than once by the courts.

Pruitt has been deemed unfit to serve because he fails liberalism’s modern-day religious test: belief in anthropogenic climate change. They would love to turn his confirmation hearing into a Scopes monkey trial. Republicans should decline the invitation. It doesn’t matter whether the man believes the moon is made of green cheese. The challenges to EPA actions are based not on meteorology or theology, but on the Constitution. The issue is that the EPA has egregiously exceeded its authority and acted as a rogue agency unilaterally creating rules unmoored from legislation.
What a strange concept that seems - that an agency should be limited by the legislation passed by Congress and signed into law. It's about time for the administrative state to be reined in. And, as Krauthammer writes, the EPA is one of the most egregious violators of the concept that duly passed legislation should be a limit on administrative action.
Pruitt’s is the most important nomination because it is a direct attack on the insidious growth of the administrative state. We have reached the point where EPA bureaucrats interpret the Waters of the United States rule — meant to protect American waterways — to mean that when a hard rain leaves behind a pond on your property, the feds may take over and tell you what you can and cannot do with it. (The final rule excluded puddles — magnanimity from the Leviathan.)

On a larger scale, Obama’s Clean Power Plan essentially federalizes power generation and regulation, not coincidentally killing coal along the way. This is the administration’s end run around Congress’ rejection of Obama’s proposed 2009-2010 cap-and-trade legislation. And that was a Democratic Congress, mind you.

Pruitt’s nomination is a dramatic test of the proposition that agencies administer the law, they don’t create it. That the legislative power resides exclusively with Congress and not with a metastasizing administrative bureaucracy.

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It's striking how many times liberals are turning to censorship, particularly on college campuses where young people seem to think that they have the right never to be offended. Now it's University of Maryland students who are making their demands.
A coalition of student groups at the University of Maryland — spurred in part by the election of Donald Trump — has issued a list of 64 demands to the school’s administration, including a call to “prevent” on-campus movie screenings that could be deemed offensive by Muslim students.

That demand was just one of nine expressed by Muslim student groups within the so-called ProtectUMD coalition, which sent the letter of demands to the administration late last month, the Diamondback student newspaper reported Monday.
They're particularly upset that there was an airing of "American Sniper" in the student union. Not only do they not want to watch the movie, they want to make sure no one else does. If they can successfully hold a veto over one movie, that's quite a slippery slope for various groups to start demanding other movies be removed so that their ideological and cultural cocoon can be preserved.

Andrea Peyser rightly
takes liberals to task for their freakout over Kellyanne Conway's expression of concern that taking a full-time job in the Trump White House might impair her ability to be a good mother to her four children.
Conway’s comments came during the misleadingly named “Women Rule Summit’’ put on by Politico, Google and the Tory Burch Foundation in Washington, DC. There, the political pollster and campaign strategist described conversations she’s had with male colleagues: “I do politely mention to them the question isn’t would you take the job, the male sitting across from me who’s going to take a big job in the White House. The question is would you want your wife to,” Conway said.

“You really see their entire visage change. It’s like — oh, no, they wouldn’t want their wife to take that job.”

That is, she said, some men may discourage their wives from taking on high-powered careers. She exposed a home-front truth.

But Conway, who is married to a full-time litigator in a prestigious law firm, never said her husband expected her not to work or to labor less. Nor did she predict the Trump White House would be closed to women and mothers. Quite the opposite.

“It’s a great time to be a woman in America,” she said, encouraging women to “go for it’’ and “ask for what we think we deserve.’’

She just suggested that it wasn’t right for her. “My children are 12, 12, 8 and 7, which is bad idea, bad idea, bad idea, bad idea for Mom going inside,” she said. “They have to come first, and those are very fraught ages.”

Conway has not shut the door on playing any part in the Trump administration. She said she intends to stay on as an adviser, a role she has already moved into.

If women are to achieve true equality, their choices must be respected — whether it’s to serve in a high-pressure job or put one foot on the mommy track.

It’s her choice.
Millions of mothers make these choices every single day. And it's difficult. I've read all sorts of articles about working in the White Houses of various presidents and how it's a high-pressure, all-consuming job often involving 14-hour days. That is no schedule for parents who want to be there for their children's lives. I wouldn't recommend it for a father or a mother. Before she became Trump's campaign head, she ran a polling company and appeared on TV. I wonder how much of that she could do from home. She can't work in the White House from home. Good for her for having her priorities straight.

Hmmm. A Dallas news station has done some research into the Texas GOP elector writing about how he's not going to vote to cast his vote for Donald Trump. And it turns out that little that he's said about his personal resume can be verified.
he Republican elector who has gotten national attention for refusing to vote for Donald Trump at the Electoral College on Dec. 19 was apparently not a first responder on September 11, 2001 as he has stated for years and has a questionable career history, according to an investigation by WFAA.

Chris Suprun, 42, portrays himself as a heroic firefighter who was among the first on the scene after the third plane flew into the Pentagon on 9/11.

In a heavily-publicized editorial this month for the New York Times, Suprun stated that as a member of the Electoral College he will not cast his ballot for Trump because the president-elect “shows daily he is not qualified for the office.”

Suprun, a Dallas resident for more than a decade, even used his résumé to establish credibility in the Times piece, writing in the second paragraph: "Fifteen years ago, as a firefighter, I was part of the response to the Sept. 11 attacks against our nation."

He has founded a nonprofit called Never Forget and state records show he is a licensed paramedic -- but much of the rest of résumé, publicly available on LinkedIn, is questionable.

In addition, on at least two occasions over the last couple years at crowded Major League Baseball games, Suprun has been introduced as a 9/11 veteran before throwing out first pitches.

"He claimed to be a first responder with the Manassas Park [Virginia] Fire Department on September 11, 2001 and personally told us stories 'I was fighting fire that day at the Pentagon.’ No, I was on a medic unit that day at the Pentagon and you make a phone call to Manassas Park and you find out that he wasn't even employed there until October 2001,” said a first responder who knows Suprun and only agreed to speak about him if his identity was concealed.

The City of Manassas Park confirmed to WFAA that it hired Suprun on October 10, 2001, one month after the 9/11 attacks.
Being a paramedic is an extremely honorable profession. Trying to add on a little 9/11 stolen valor is despicable. And then using that stolen valor to pump up his background while bragging about how he's not going to vote for Trump even though he was elected to being an elector after it was clear that Trump would be the nominee is just gratuitous virtue signaling. Jim Geraghty wrote recently to debunk the idea that being a faithless elector is a sign of courage.
Republicans chose their 38 electors during the Texas state convention in mid May, about a week after Ted Cruz suspended his presidential campaign, making Trump the presumptive GOP nominee. Suprun knew he would likely be casting his vote from Trump, given Texas’s deep-red tint. In fact, he and the other delegates signed an oath pledging to do so, although it’s not legally binding.

In other words, being an anti-Trump Republican presidential elector isn’t like being an anti-Trump Republican politician, consultant, or writer. Suprun didn’t just sign on for this; he actively campaigned for it. He urged other Republicans to trust him. His fellow elector Art Sisneros faced the same crisis of conscience and chose a much more honorable path: He resigned. The remaining Texas electors will select Sisneros’s replacement when they meet on December 19.

In such circumstances, faithless electors are not brave or honorable. Their efforts are not going to change things. They’ve been given an entirely predictable nominee whom they didn’t like, and now they want to break their word, take a public stand, and be hailed as heroes by the considerable throngs of Trump critics.

Don’t give them this. Mock their lack of foresight or stubborn refusal to accept the consequences of their actions. If you’re not certain that you can support a particular candidate as an elector, don’t ask for the job of elector. These people aren’t iconoclasts, visionaries, or heroic renegades. They’re preening narcissistic idiots who want to be rewarded for refusing to keep a promise, and they should be treated as such.