Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Cruising the Web

Ah, so now he tells us.
Secretary of State John Kerry told a painful truth on Sunday, admitting that President Obama’s “red line” fiasco in Syria “cost us significantly” by leading other nations to see America as weak....

It was universally seen as a threat of massive consequences for Bashar al-Assad if he crossed the line. But when Assad did launch chemical attacks a year later, Obama stalled.

First he tried to get allies on board with a campaign of airstrikes. Britain declined, but France said yes — yet Obama then asked Congress to OK the bombing. Congress signaled reluctance to “buy in” — and then Obama accepted a diplomatic lifeline from Moscow to negotiate a deal for Syria to (supposedly) turn over all its chem munitions.

The president had blinked at making good on his own threat. Around the globe, US allies and enemies were on notice that America might not live up to its word.

It’s no coincidence that Russia took control of Crimea within the year, and later intervened decisively in Syria to save Assad. Nor that Iran was able to virtually dictate the terms of its nuclear deal with Team Obama.

Kerry on Sunday fell back on two excuses. First he argued that it was a “misperception” that Washington had been weak, since Assad did give up (many of) his chems. But even he had to admit that “it doesn’t matter. It cost. Perception can often just be the reality.”

He also faulted Congress for not immediately OK’ing the use of force once the president asked — without noting that Obama, in the year after he drew the red line, never laid a bit of groundwork with Congress (or with America’s allies) for enforcing it.

If you issue a threat, then don’t even prepare to make good on it, all you’ve really made is … an empty bluff.
Isn't it rather extraordinary for a secretary of state to issue such a judgment on the actions of a president he is still serving? Granted, Obama drew the red line if Assad used chemical weapons in August 2012 before Kerry came on board, but the lack of consequences continued while Kerry was in office. It always seemed that Obama's statement about a red line was more of an off-the-cuff statement for the president than a studied pronouncement on policy. So while I have no confidence that Trump won't say something without due consideration that will result in international consequences, let's not forget that we have had a president already who did so. I should be surprised that Kerry's admission isn't getting more play. After all, the media are too focused on whatever nonsense Trump will tweet to engage in an assessment of Obama's own international policies.

Katie Pavlich reminds us
that, for all the hand-wringing over Trump's call with the president of Taiwan, people weren't as disturbed when Obama spoke with the Iranian president.
Back in 2013 President Obama made direct contact with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani with, you guessed it, a phone call. The call was initiated by President Obama, not Rouhani. Iran is listed as the world's largest state sponsor of terror by the State Department and before 9/11, its terrorism offshoot Hezbollah was responsible for more American deaths than any other terrorist organization in the world.

The outrage from the same media players panicking over Trump's call with Taiwan was absent. In fact, Obama's move was praised, called "historic," and he was given credit for trying to work with the regime.
This is the regime that has sponsored troops in Iraq that have killed American soldiers. That's a lot different from talking to the democratically elected president of a country with which we have extensive trade relations and are bound by treaty to protect.

Walter Russell Mead has a typically insightful essay on what Trump's phone call with Taiwan's president means.
First, it’s a definite sign that Trump is much less constrained by the past and by the perceived taboos of the foreign policy establishment than any of his predecessors in the last two generations. Trump’s fundamental position toward the conventional wisdom of the foreign policy establishment is iconoclastic, and the spirit in which he approaches foreign policy is experimental: try things and see what happens. The combination can occasionally lead to brilliant strokes of foreign policy genius, but can also lead to disasters. We don’t know yet which the phone call was, but we can say that a Trump White House, at least until the president himself gains some experience of how difficult and explosive foreign policy can be, is going to be a place that pumps out surprises and unconventional approaches. Trump wasn’t kidding on the campaign trail when he criticized the Washington foreign policy establishment as being stupidly bound up in conventional thinking. He meant every word of it, and he is coming into office as a disruptor.
Second, the Taiwan call tells us that Trump isn’t waiting for January 20th to get Obama’s hands off the foreign policy steering wheel. Obama has been trying to tie his successor’s hands on issues like the Iran deal; Trump is underlining that Obama is a lame duck, that he can’t commit the United States, and that the next administration is going to take a different line. This may or may not be wise, but Trump has so far been extremely successful in isolating and undermining Obama. The Taiwan call was one of many signals that Trump intends to manage American foreign policy very differently from his predecessor; all over the world, leaders are moving away from the postures they adopted in response to Obama’s goals and priorities in order to reposition themselves for the next era.

Third, when it comes to Asia policy, the Taiwan call is a clear sign that Trump is planning to do two things at the same time: to dump the Obama era “pivot to Asia” and simultaneously to assert the American presence in and commitment to Asia in unmistakable ways. Many wondered whether his scuppering of TPP was a sign that the U.S. was leaving Asia; this phone call and the equally surprising one with Duterte make clear that this is not his intention. The Obama pivot involved a trade deal that excluded China, a human rights emphasis calculated to isolate it politically, and a small military presence carefully calculated not to antagonize it. Trump is dropping the effort to marginalize China economically, dropping Obama’s human rights emphasis as counterproductive, and stepping up the effort to deter China with strong military forces and close cooperation with like minded states in the security field.

This may or may not work in Asia, but there is one truth here that needs to be acknowledged: the Obama pivot had already begun to fall apart. TPP was politically unsustainable at home, and the human rights policies of the Obama administration, however noble philosophically, were increasingly unsustainable in an Asia where the power of democratic ideology is on the wane. Thailand, Burma, the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia all seem to be moving away from Western democratic ideas. That is regrettable for many reasons, but if one believes that China’s power needs to be balanced with a collection of regional allies, one must build coalitions with the Asia one has. While many Asian countries remain robustly democratic, too heavy an emphasis on human rights in American regional policy would split rather than unite the region and offer China many opportunities to pull the coalition apart.

As in Europe and the Middle East, eight years of Obama foreign policy largely failed. Despite brave words about engagement, Obama essentially dithered while China created facts on the ground—or at least facts in the sea. He established a pattern of deference to Chinese sensibilities that from his point of view were intended to show a willingness to engage pragmatically, but which were read in Beijing as uncertainty and weakness. Something needed to be done by the next president, no matter who it was, to demonstrate that the U.S. was no longer as easily pushed as Obama had been. Secretary Clinton, had she won, would have also been looking for ways to toughen America’s stance.

There is lots of handwringing over the phone call, and many are understandably nervous about what rabbits the President-elect may next pull out of his hat. But when evaluating this unorthodox and, yes, risky move, one has to remember that it is China, not the United States, that has been rewriting the rules of engagement in the East and South China Sea. It is China that has been unilaterally asserting territorial claims against its neighbors, China asserting jurisdiction over international waters and air space, China failing to rein in the increasingly serious North Korean nuclear program. The power that is challenging the status quo in Asia is not the United States.

A phone call to a Taiwanese leader is something that embarrasses China’s leaders at home. It makes them look weak and ineffective, and puts them under political pressure. If China wants the phone calls to stop, it must stop the provocations on its side. That, presumably, is the message that the Trump team wanted to receive. Much will depend on how China responds—and on how carefully Team Trump has thought through its own next moves.
Of course, it would help this interpretation of Trump's actions if he actually had a foreign policy advisory team in place. Instead we are presented with an appearance of indecisiveness on his Secretary of State pick as more and more names get floated out there. That such different people as John Bolton and Jon Huntsman are in the mix indicates that Trump really doesn't know what he wants to do on foreign policy.


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Even Al Gore's former campaign chairman, William Daley, is against getting rid of the electoral college. One argument that is persuasive to me is that the system prevents us having all sorts of minor-party candidates who end up splintering the vote. In parliamentary systems, parties rarely garner enough votes to form a government on their own and have to form coalitions with a disparate group of smaller parties who often sell their support in exchange for concessions they wouldn't be able to get on their own. I can remember the Orthodox Jewish party in Israel forcing the conservatives to give in to their narrow demands to prevent Jews whose mothers weren't Jewish from being able to take advantage of Israel's open immigration laws for Jews worldwide. Daley writes,
The electoral college also tends to bolster the two major parties, which, for all the criticisms, have helped produce long-term political stability that many nations can only envy. With nearly all states awarding their electoral votes on a winner-take-all basis, it’s difficult for a third-party candidate to contend seriously for the presidency. While a truly national third party wouldn’t necessarily be bad, smaller niche parties are ill-suited to our federalist system. This system already divides power between the states and the federal government, and uses checks and balances to temper the legislative, executive and judicial branches’ authority.

In Europe’s parliamentary governments, by contrast, it’s not unusual to see multiple parties split the national vote several ways, enabling a politician with limited support to head the government (provided he or she can assemble a ruling coalition with other minority parties). That arrangement won’t work in our system of built-in tensions and checks between the president and Congress. And yet, eliminating the electoral college could produce such an unworkable situation — not through small parties but wealthy individuals. Aside from the Democratic and Republican nominees, a handful of billionaires could run campaigns focused especially on, say, Texas and Florida, or California and New York. One of them could win the presidency with a narrow slice of the vote. With so small a plurality, and no major party’s support, this president would face fierce head winds.

For people making all sorts of conclusions about what Trump's victory means, it's worth remembering that his victory was actually very narrow.
All that matters is that Trump got more electoral college votes, thanks to having won more states. In many cases, those wins were much more narrow than Clinton's, which also helps power the gap between the electoral vote and the popular one. Trump won 18 states by fewer than 250,000 votes; Clinton, 13.

The most important states, though, were Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Trump won those states by 0.2, 0.7 and 0.8 percentage points, respectively — and by 10,704, 46,765 and 22,177 votes. Those three wins gave him 46 electoral votes; if Clinton had done one point better in each state, she'd have won the electoral vote, too.

Or put another way: But for 79,646 votes cast in those three states, she'd be the next president of the United States. The 540-vote margin in Florida that swung the 2000 election is still the modern record-holder for close races, but this is a pretty remarkable result. (Especially since the final gap between Al Gore and George W. Bush was only a little over 500,000 votes nationally.)

More people were in attendance as the Ohio State Buckeyes beat a high school football team in Columbus last weekend. More people live in Gary, Ind., than made the difference in this presidential race.

Andrew Ferguson explores how Trump is playing the media with his use of Twitter.
The common thought is that Trump uses Twitter to go over the heads of the reporters who cover him to reach the public unfiltered. Just as often, though, the reporters are his primary audience; the secondary audience is the general public, few of whom obsessively check a Twitter account the way reporters do. But the public can distinguish between a tweet and the reaction to it. For an ordinary person, the news isn't merely what Trump tweets, it's also the hyperventilation he provokes from the press. The second is usually crazier than the first....
He goes on to give examples of the heated reaction by journalists and analysts to Trump's tweets against the cast of Hamilton.
My guess is that most people took Trump's tweet for what it was—an unnecessary but well-meaning rebuke aimed at the bad manners of a sanctimonious showbiz fop. The reaction from the press, on the other hand, offered a terrifying glimpse into how bizarre and unhinged the press can be when Donald Trump mouths off....

With a tweet here and a tweet there, and with a reliably hair-trigger hysteria from the press only 140 characters away, Trump is happily driving a wedge between the news media and their intended customers. As if they weren't already unpopular enough! The dawning Trump era is pushing the mainstream press further and further to the margins of the conversation Americans think is worth paying attention to.

And Trump can be pretty cruel about this denigration of the press—and subtler than you'd expect. Since the election dozens of reporters and camera crews have been corralled behind rope lines in the gleaming, hideous lobby of Trump Tower. There they are treated to a daily parade of office-seekers, from David Petraeus to Rudy Giuliani, supplicants willing to humiliate themselves in a perp walk so they can gaze meaningfully into the eyes of the president-elect.

The Trump Tower perp walks make for a textbook case of the pseudo-event: an ostensibly naturally occurring episode that in fact is being staged to create what appears to be a real news story. A fire is a news story; a press conference called by firefighters to discuss fire prevention is a pseudo-event. It's the same in Trump Tower: When Mr. X or Ms. Y is appointed to a real job, that's a real news story. When Mr. X is "being mentioned" for a job and the press reports the mentioning as if it were news, that is a pseudo-event.

In the 50 years since the historian Daniel Boorstin coined the phrase, the news media have become connoisseurs of pseudo-events, promoting empty occasions manipulated by marketers and corporate flacks and political activists and sometimes by the news media themselves. On any given day the bulk of published news is a dog's breakfast of pseudo-events. The continuous elevation of non-news into news, the confusion of the trivial with the important, is one reason why American news reporting is so boring and its practitioners so often ridiculous.

Trump has staged this pseudo-event in his own lobby, and the dutiful reporters, who must pretend the perp walk and the "mentioning" are news, don't know they are being mocked. Over two generations the press have gone from defining news as "what happened yesterday" to "what we think might happen later" to "what other unnamed people tell us they think might happen tomorrow"—in other words, from concrete reporting to "analysis and context" to blue-sky speculation. With very little real news coming from Trump Tower, the public gets to see the press forced into its weakest posture, getting excited over nothing. They look even more desperate than usual. Thanks, Trump!
Ferguson goes on to discuss how the media are up in arms as to Trump's challenges to what they regard as their fundamental rights as members of the press. It's an intriguing bit of iconoclasm.
And then, after the White House briefings and news conferences are done away with, here's what could go next: the State of the Union address, a televised pseudo-event, beneficial (and interesting) only to the reporters who cover it. SOTU, as it's cloyingly called, could vanish for a century with no discernible damage to the functioning of self-government.

To borrow a tag from the 18th century, Trump has the chance to govern as a disestablishmentarian—trying to decertify the establishment media by extricating them from the exalted position they have claimed and occupied. Very few reporters think of themselves as partisan or ideological. But they do think of themselves as indispensable. Disabusing them of this idea would be the ultimate subversion.
I was amused to see that Ferguson began his diatribe against the media by puncturing the self-satisfaction displayed at the Newseum, the museum devoted to the history of the media in Washington, D.C. At the conference I was at this past weekend, I attended a session with Gene Policinski of the Newseum on the future of the First Amendment in the 21st century. One of the teachers was practically in tears of distress about Trump's tweets about Hamilton. To his credit, Policinski dismissed her worries and said that he thought the whole story was way overblown and a distraction from much more important stories.

One teacher in this session told of what happened at her school as she and her colleagues had a schoolwide mock election as was written in their school's curriculum. As part of the exercise, students made posters for all the presidential candidates. She said that the art students really got into this in designing their posters and creating caricatures of the candidates with nothing objectionable in any of the slogans. But the administration ordered all the posters be taken down because having posters of the presidential candidates might be upsetting to some students. There hadn't been any complaints, but the administration felt that they had to take this preemptive action. It's dumbfounding.

The NYT highlights the problems that await if Trump's children are given control of the Trump businesses. Even without such control, there are independent deals in foreign nations that give off a whiff of corruption as Donald Trump navigates international waters.
When Donald J. Trump hosted a foreign leader for the first time as president-elect, the guest list included a curious entry: Mr. Trump’s daughter Ivanka, who looked on last month while he and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan chatted on a white couch high above Manhattan.

Some 6,700 miles from Trump Tower, in Tokyo, another exclusive gathering was already underway: a two-day private viewing of Ivanka Trump products, teeming with Trump-branded treasures like a sample of the pale pink dress Ms. Trump wore to introduce her father at the Republican National Convention.

Ms. Trump is nearing a licensing deal with the Japanese apparel giant Sanei International, both parties told The New York Times. The largest shareholder of Sanei’s parent company is the Development Bank of Japan, which is wholly owned by the Japanese government.

Discussions for the deal have been active for about two years, Ms. Trump’s company said. In that time, she has become something of a local fascination. “At the moment,” said Sayumi Gunji, a lifestyle-magazine editor who attended the viewing, “Ivanka is even more popular here than Mr. Trump.”

Continue reading the main story
The circumstances highlight the remarkable tangle awaiting the Trump family, its sprawling business empire and those who have interacted with the family at home and abroad — a web of complications that seems certain to persist even if Mr. Trump makes good on his promise to remove himself from his company’s business operations.
As the Times points out, even handing over control to his children will not remove the conflicts of interests.
Yet an examination of the professional histories of the three children — who also serve on the presidential transition team — shows how deeply the Trump family, Trump business and Trump politics are interwoven, raising significant doubts about how meaningful a wall can ever be erected between Mr. Trump and his heirs at the Trump Organization.

For years, the three siblings have operated with few rigid dividing lines in their international travels as ambassadors of the Trump brand, allowing them to lean heavily on the reputation and financial backing of their father while establishing their own credibility in business.

It is not merely that the Trumps are at peace commingling family and business. They have known no other way.
The possible avenues for corruption seem almost endless.
“Giving to the Trump family would be seen by many foreign leaders as the way to get in with the Trump administration,” said Meredith McGehee, an adviser to the Campaign Legal Center, a nonprofit group, who worried that companies might be tempted to direct business to the Trump children to curry favor with their father.

Already, complications abound.

The children each hold a stake in the lease that allows the organization to operate the Trump International Hotel out of the federal government’s Old Post Office Building in Washington. Mr. Trump, as president, will appoint the head of the General Services Administration, which manages the property, while his children oversee a hotel with millions of dollars in ties to the agency....

In addition to attending the meeting with Mr. Abe, Ms. Trump was present for her father’s initial conversation with President Mauricio Macri of Argentina. The children also met recently with Jose E. B. Antonio, a Philippine developer who is collaborating with the Trumps on a tower in Manila and who in October was named a special envoy to the United States by the Philippine president, Rodrigo Duterte.

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Jim Geraghty explains that, as hideous as fake stories like #Pizzagate are, we can't eliminate such stories. And let's not forget how such fake stories have appeared in more mainstream outlets than some obscure corner of the internet.
Sunday afternoon’s shooting at a Washington pizzeria fed fuel to the already-raging controversy over “fake news” and its effect on our politics. But the phenomenon was prominent long before the rise of Twitter and Facebook. Just ask Dan Rather about those memos. Or ask Brian Williams about his war stories. Or ask Rolling Stone about those ritualistic gang rapes on the University of Virginia’s campus.

Yes, the new rash of fabricated stories is awful, toxic to public discussion, and worthy of rebuke, just as the stories pushed by Rather and Williams and Rolling Stone were. But those now proclaiming a “fake-news crisis” are long on furious denunciation and short on anything resembling a plan or a proposal to deal with it.

“Serious news organizations need to push back against this,” the chorus cries. But they do push back, at least when they notice it. No credible journalistic outlet ran any reports suggesting that Comet Ping Pong was a front for a shadowy child-abuse ring extending to the highest levels of government. Institutions such as the New York Times, in fact, pointed out that there was no evidence to suggest anything of the sort.

But the unpleasant truth is that “Pizzagate” is just one conspiracy theory among many. What news organization wants to dedicate real manpower to debunking every fake story that pops up on Facebook? How many reporters would consider that a valuable use of their time, when true believers inevitably greet every debunking as further evidence that the reporter is complicit in the conspiracy?

Conspiracy theorists don’t care about a lack of evidence or counter-evidence. If they did, they wouldn’t believe in conspiracy theories. What’s more, they seem to take a certain amount of solace from their ideas. The idea of a sinister, shadowy conspiracy imposes an order and narrative on what seems like a chaotic world full of random injustice. To some people, it is less terrifying to believe that a vast U.S. -government conspiracy could abet a terrorist attack on American citizens than it is to believe that 19 men with box-cutters could change the life of every American one September morning.
And let's not go overboard blaming #Pizzagate for this man's shooting at the pizza joint. He is clearly a disturbed person. The blame is on him just as the blame is on the terrorists who shot up Charlie Hebdo, not the journalists who worked there. When we place the blame elsewhere than on the killers or shooters, we reduce their guilt.

I do find this spate of hysteria about fake news a bit rich coming from a media who celebrated Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert and marveled that Stewart's version of fake news had made him the "most trusted man in America." Here is the NYT on how brilliant and substantive Stewart's show was.
MR. STEWART describes his job as “throwing spitballs” from the back of the room and points out that “The Daily Show” mandate is to entertain, not inform. Still, he and his writers have energetically tackled the big issues of the day — “the stuff we find most interesting,” as he said in an interview at the show’s Midtown Manhattan offices, the stuff that gives them the most “agita,” the sometimes somber stories he refers to as his “morning cup of sadness.” And they’ve done so in ways that straight news programs cannot: speaking truth to power in blunt, sometimes profane language, while using satire and playful looniness to ensure that their political analysis never becomes solemn or pretentious.

“Hopefully the process is to spot things that would be grist for the funny mill,” Mr. Stewart, 45, said. “In some respects, the heavier subjects are the ones that are most loaded with opportunity because they have the most — you know, the difference between potential and kinetic energy? — they have the most potential energy, so to delve into that gives you the largest combustion, the most interest. I don’t mean for the audience. I mean for us. Everyone here is working too hard to do stuff we don’t care about.”
When a comedy show that forthrightly calls itself a "fake news show" is held up for such effusive praise, why is it such a shock that people are believing crazy stories that they see on the internet?

Aaron Blake at the Washington Post examines turnout figures for millennials in 2012 and 2016 and finds that the slightly lower turnout may well have cost Hillary Clinton the election.
The national exit poll shows Clinton underperformed Barack Obama's 2012 share of the vote by one point with those between the ages of 30 and 44 and by three points with those ages 45 to 64. She actually overperformed him by one point with those over 65.

Among those between 18 and 29, though, she took five points less — 55 percent versus Obama's 60 percent....

Clinton's 55-36 margin among those ages 18 to 29 is also significantly worse than late polls suggested it would be. A mid-October poll from the Harvard Institute of Politics showed her leading Trump 49 to 21 with third-party candidates included and 59 to 29 in a two-way matchup with Trump — either a 28- or 30-point margin. A GenForward survey conducted by the AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, meanwhile, had her up 41 points, 60 to 19.

These were large, quality surveys testing only young people, but they differed hugely from the results. Clinton's final margin was 19.

They, of course, are national polls, and the race was really decided in a handful of close states — Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, in particular. And sure enough, Clinton did even worse among young people in those states, according to exit polls.

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Joel Kotkin writes at the Daily Beast with a recommendation
for people distressed about the hyperpartisanship in Washington - move more government to the local level.
The ever worsening polarization of American politics—demonstrated and accentuated by the Trump victory—is now an undeniable fact of our daily life. Yet rather than allowing the guilty national parties to continue indulging political brinkmanship, we should embrace a strong, constitutional solution to accommodating our growing divide: a return to local control.
Such an approach would allow, within some limits, local constituencies to follow their own course, much as the Founding Fathers suggested, without shaking the fundamentals of the federal union. Localism, as I label this approach, would address the sentiments on both right and left by reversing the consolidation of central power in Washington.
What Americans across the political spectrum need to recognize is that centralizing power does not promote national unity, but ever harsher division. Enforced central control, from left or right, polarizes politics in dangerous ways. The rather hysterical reaction to Trump’s election on the left is a case in point, with some in alt-blue California calling for secession from the union. Had Clinton and the Democrats won, we would have heard other secessionist sentiment, notably in Texas.

Do people want Washington to rule everything? The real issue is not the intrinsic evil of government itself, but how we can best address society’s myriad problems. For decades, many progressives have embraced an expansive central government as the most effective method of changing society for the better. Yet it is far from clear that most Americans prefer that alternative. A rough majority in November cast their votes for either Trump, who attacked President Obama’s executive orders, or libertarian Gary Johnson, a candidate with an even stronger localist tendency. Since 2007, the percentage of people who favored expanding government has dropped from 51 to 45 percent.
In contrast, localism is widely embraced by a broad majority of the American public. By 64 percent to 26 percent, according to a 2015 poll—Americans say that they feel “more progress” on critical issues take place on the local rather than the federal level. Majorities of all political affiliations and all demographic groups hold this same opinion.
The preference for localism also extends to attitudes toward state governments, many of which have grown more intrusive in recent years. Some 72 percent of Americans, according to Gallup, trust their local governments more than they do their state institutions; even in California, where executive power has run riot, far more people prefer local control to that of Sacramento.
My government classes are just finishing up the unit on federalism and we talked about why conservatives like to have more decisions at the local level rather than the federal level. We should want to have decisions made at the level of government closest to the people most affected by those decisions. As students in a charter school, they can instinctively see the advantages in that. Both liberals and conservatives can find advantages in such localism.
Yale Law professor Heather Gerken makes the case that progressive social causes like racial integration, gay marriage, marijuana legalization, and others have historically tended to be adopted first at a local level before spreading to other areas. Gerken argues that it’s necessary for cities and states to have these powers so that local “cities upon a hill” of social reform can be allowed to flourish and lead by example.

With Trump and the GOP ensconced in Washington for a likely four more years, more progressives can be expected to adopt Gerken’s strategy.
Liberals didn't talk like this when they had control of Congress and Obama in the White House. If it takes a President Trump for liberals to discover the advantages of federalism and moving more decisions to the local level, that would be a good thing.


This is rather extraordinary and perhaps it explains why it took so long in the first place for Michigan to certify its election results. But it doesn't augur well for Hillary's hopes in a recount or for strange conspiracy theories on both sides to die down.
One-third of precincts in Wayne County could be disqualified from an unprecedented statewide recount of presidential election results because of problems with ballots.

Michigan’s largest county voted overwhelmingly for Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, but officials couldn’t reconcile vote totals for 610 of 1,680 precincts during a countywide canvass of vote results late last month.

Most of those are in heavily Democratic Detroit, where the number of ballots in precinct poll books did not match those of voting machine printout reports in 59 percent of precincts, 392 of 662.

According to state law, precincts whose poll books don’t match with ballots can’t be recounted. If that happens, original election results stand.

“It’s not good,” conceded Daniel Baxter, elections director for the city of Detroit.

He blamed the discrepancies on the city’s decade-old voting machines, saying 87 optical scanners broke on Election Day. Many jammed when voters fed ballots into scanners, which can result in erroneous vote counts if ballots are inserted multiple times. Poll workers are supposed to adjust counters to reflect a single vote but in many cases failed to do so, causing the discrepancies, Baxter said....

Republican President-elect Donald Trump won Michigan by a razor-thin margin, 10,704 votes. Presumably, Clinton’s best opportunity to eliminate that margin rested in finding uncounted ballots in Wayne County, which she carried by a 2-1 ratio.

Disqualifying huge numbers of precincts would make it “almost impossible” for the former New York senator to make up the votes, said Ernest Johnson, a Democratic political activist who worked to get out the vote for Clinton.

“It’s a real long-shot now because, if I were looking for 10,000 votes, the first place I’d look is Wayne County,” Johnson said. “That’s a huge problem.
Just as the 2000 recount exposed all sorts of worrisome details about elections and ballots in Florida, we're going to see some details from Michigan that will make people lose confidence in how the votes were counted.

As President Obama libsplained to the Republicans in 2009, elections have consequences. Indeed they do.
A federal appeals court on Monday brought to an end President Barack Obama's bid to overturn a ruling that threatens to gut his signature healthcare law by putting the case on hold until after President-elect Donald Trump, who aims to repeal Obamacare, takes office.

The Obama administration had appealed a judge's May ruling favoring the challenge filed by Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives against a key part of the 2010 law. But the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit agreed to a request by the Republicans to delay its consideration of the government's appeal until after Trump takes office on Jan. 20....The challenge targeted government reimbursements to insurance companies to compensate them for reductions that the law required them to make to customers' out-of-pocket medical payments....

The Obama administration appealed U.S. District Judge Rosemary Collyer's ruling that the government cannot spend billions of dollars in federal funds without congressional approval to provide subsidies under the healthcare law to private insurers to help people afford medical coverage.

The House Republicans argued that the administration violated the U.S. Constitution because it is the legislative branch, not the executive branch, that authorizes government spending.

The Obama administration has interpreted the provision as a type of federal spending that does not need to be explicitly authorized by Congress.

4 comments:

mardony said...

Congrats to Betsy for splicing in today some reasonable commentary from the NYT and WaPo. This helps separate the Page from the overly-tendentious, echo chamber rightwing blogs that are out there in yuuge numbers, and IMHO makes the Page more robust.

But, this a curious assertion coming from a blog from North Carolinia: "If it takes a President Trump for liberals to discover the advantages of federalism and moving more decisions to the local level, that would be a good thing."

Because contrariwise, during newly-dumped Gov. McCrory's regime, these laws were all enacted by NC: new abortion restriction regulations, expanded rights for gun owners, a private-school voucher plan, a tax overhaul that favored the rich, and more voter suppression. Fortunately, a three-judge federal appeals panel struck down the North Carolina voter suppression law, in its ruling calling it "the most restrictive voting law North Carolina has seen since the era of Jim Crow" and charging that the all-white Republican lawmakers had targeted "African-Americans with almost surgical precision."

If these weren't enough examples of decisions made at the local level, what else? Secession? Oh, wait.

mark said...

How absurd to compare Stewart and Colbert to the fake news sites that have made despicable accusations. Viewers of Colbert/Stewart knew it was satire. Millions of morons actually think Hillary is a pedophile who drinks human blood during satanic rituals. And one of those morons is apparently going to be Trump's Naional Security Advisor. According to Flynn's son, the accusations of heinous crimes are valid until she proves they're wrong. Nice system you conservatives have adopted: Guilty until proven innocent.

Of course, that's right in line with some of the accusations made here by several nutjobs. Want to help Syrian refugees? You must want to molest the children. Against HB2? You probably support children being raped.

Remember this post?
Maybe you could make a lamp shade or a "Baby On Board" sign - made of real baby - to hang inside your Prius, you repulsive ghoul!!!!

Betsy, you rightly called stories such as "Pizza-gate" hideous. Do you not realize that some of the false accusations printed here are also hideous?
No, I doubt anyone can stop all the fake stories. But perhaps we can not be duped into supporting them.




mardony said...

Nor should one be cavalier about linking to a website known to circulate, or give credence to, fake news. For example, on Sept. 11, rightwing blog Powerline published that "she (Hillary) may have a neurological disease like Parkinson's." Powerline has been frequently linked to, and cited, in Betsy's Page. Since fake news was so indigenous and ubiquitous among rightwing sources wrt to Hillary in the runup to the election, any blog aggregating info from them was certain to either circulate fake news or legitimize those that did. It's nearly impossible to keep an infectious disease from spreading throughout an intensive care ward.
Then, of course, there was Bret Baier's breaking news that Hillary was to be indicted, mere days before the election. Fake news? To be compared with Colbert and Stewart? Really?

tfhr said...

"Millions of morons actually think Hillary is a pedophile who drinks human blood during satanic rituals." ~ mark

mark/mardony,

You've become completely unraveled!

If you "two" want to continue to labor under the delusion that Hillary lost the election due to some chicanery or undue influence and not for being an awful and corrupt candidate, that's fine with me. If you believe people were happy with being lied to about ObamaCare, go right on ahead and continue to advocate policies that are completely dependent on deliberate deception. If you think that people are satisfied with the poor performance of Obama's economy, then continue to advocate for higher taxes and greater regulation.

This echo chamber you have with your best buddy mardony is a good laugh. I get a kick out of watching you thrash just like all of the cry babies out there that cannot believe the world is exactly what an extremely biased media has been feeding them for years. Wipe your eyes and nose.

I get why you and your little friend don't like a man like Trump. I don't like him either though I have to admit it is fun to watch him play the media to the torment of the left. You can blame Nazis hiding under your bed or you can point to the super human ability of Brett Baier to control the thoughts of half the population and you can even defend the honor of comedians portraying talking heads, but I'm going to start feeling bad soon that you're apparently not in on the joke you've made of yourselves.