Thursday, February 23, 2017

Cruising the Web

With liberals borrowing a page from the Tea Party's handbook by protesting at the town hall gatherings of Republicans, conservatives are split between, as Erick Erickson recommends, ignoring the protest, or following Rich Lowry's advice to be wary of what is going on. It's clear that the protests are being supported and orchestrated by progressives and funded by George Soros. But I'm not sure that that makes a big difference. People still have to get riled up enough to go out to protest. It's clear from what we've been witnessing since Trump's inauguration that there are substantial numbers of people who are willing to take to the streets (or town halls) to voice their anger. As I remember the Tea Party protests, there were groups organizing people. Democrats accused the protests of being astroturf, but then those angry voters showed up to vote in 2010 and turn Congress back over to the Republicans. So I agree with Lowry that REpublican politicians shouldn't slough off these protests as just some Soros-funded meaningless protests.
The partisan temptation in this circumstance is always to dismiss the passion of the other side, which is what Democrats did to their detriment in 2009 and Republicans are doing now.

It’s not often that White House press secretary Sean Spicer sounds like his Obama predecessor Robert Gibbs, but on this, he might as well be reading leftover talking points. Gibbs dismissed the Tea Party’s town-hall agitation eight years ago as “manufactured anger” reflecting “the Astro-turf nature of grassroots lobbying.” Spicer says of the town-hall protests, “It’s not these organic uprisings that we’ve seen through the last several decades — the Tea Party was a very organic movement — this has become a very paid, Astro-turf-type movement.”

What was true in 2009 is true today: In the normal course of things, it’s not easy even for a well-funded and -organized group to get people to spend an evening at a school auditorium hooting at their congressman. If these demonstrations are happening in districts around the country, attention must be paid....

To become the Left’s equivalent of the Tea Party, the protestors will have to persist despite the inevitable legislative defeats on the horizon; organize at the grass-roots level; play in Democratic primaries; make their own party’s establishment miserable; and pick off a significant Republican seat in what seems like impossible territory, the way Scott Brown did in the Massachusetts special election after the death of Ted Kennedy.

None of this is certain, or necessarily likely. But Democrats deluded themselves in 2009 by disregarding the early signs of fierce resistance to their agenda, and paid the price over and over again for their heedless high-handedness. Republicans shouldn’t make the same mistake.

There is nothing to suggest that the Left’s town-hall protesters represent anything like a majority of the country. Even an impassioned plurality can make a big impact, though. And if we have learned anything from the Obamacare debate, it is that disturbing the status quo in American health care carries significant downside political risk. Democrats were in that position in 2009; Republicans are now.
I think the Republicans would help themselves if they started chalking up some accomplishments. They could put together a tax reform package and get that passed through reconciliation. Then they'd have something to talk about and talk about what they're doing to help people. There is so much uncertainty now about replacing Obamacare. Until people know what is going to happen, there is going to be a lot of distress. We keep hearing promises, but not seeing much. That's not enough. They got elected making promises on Obamacare and now it's time to pony up. Uncertainty is dangerous for businesses that have to make decisions now. And people are scared about what is going to happen to their own health care. People deserve answers.

The Republicans would be making a mistake to blow off these townhall meetings. Those people who come and scream and don't let the politician speak will just annoy those people who want to ask serious questions and hear from their representatives. We don't know if the people showing up at these meeting and leading loud and angry protests are actually constituents of the politicians whose townhall meetings they're trying to take over. But politicians need a better plan than just shrugging the anger off as astroturf. The Democrats did that and paid the price. Learn from their mistakes.

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Marc Thiessen reminds us of all the times prominent Democrats referred to their political opponents as "enemies." So all this aux outrage over Trump calling the media the enemy of the American people.
When President Trump tweeted that the news media “is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!” the outrage on the left was palpable.

That’s how dictators speak, they cried, comparing Trump to everyone from Lenin and Stalin to Mao and Mussolini. Former Obama adviser David Axelrod declared, “No other president would have described the media as ‘the enemy of the people.’ ”

No, not the media, just his Republican political opponents.

Axelrod seems to have forgotten that, back in 2010, his former boss let slip this telling insight into how he viewed his political adversaries: “We’re gonna punish our enemies, and we’re gonna reward our friends who stand with us on issues that are important to us.”

Few on the left compared Barack Obama to Stalin or Mao when he declared his fellow Americans who disagree with him to be “enemies.” (Obama later apologized for his choice of words.)

There was also a notable absence of outrage when, during the first Democratic presidential debate, Hillary Clinton was asked “Which enemy are you most proud of?” and she replied, “Well, in addition to the NRA, the health insurance companies, the drug companies, the Iranians? Probably the Republicans.”

Clinton didn’t compare her Republican opponents to generic “enemies,” she compared them to an actual enemy. She compared them to the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism, a regime that took scores of US diplomats hostage for 444 days and is responsible for countless terrorist attacks that have killed hundreds of Americans.

It was not the first time Clinton did it.

In August 2015, she compared pro-life Republicans to our terrorist enemies: “Now, extreme views about women, we expect that from some of the terrorist groups, we expect that from people who don’t want to live in the modern world, but it’s a little hard to take from Republicans who want to be the president of the United States.”

She also compared Republicans to the Nazis, declaring that Trump and other GOP contenders wanted to “go and literally pull [illegal immigrants] out of their homes and their workplaces . . . Round them up, put them, I don’t know, in buses, boxcars, in order to take them across our border.”

I don’t recall widespread revulsion on the left when a Democratic president and a Democratic presidential nominee made these repulsive remarks. Perhaps they didn’t care, because the remarks were not targeted at the media, just Republicans.
How about acknowledging that it's obnoxious when any prominent politician refers to fellow Americans as "the enemy." All should acknowledge that just because someone disagrees with us, we're still Americans and not enemies? There is a difference between being a political opponent and an enemy. Sure, the media do seem out to get Trump, but he has also built his political success on taunting and criticizing the "lying media." And I'll never be impressed when the guy who alleged that Ted Cruz's father was involved in the Kennedy assassination starts whining about #FakeNews. And I'm not impressed with journalists' pretentious outrage at someone calling them out for their political bias. They've created the perception that they've long been politically biased so now they're reaping the consequences. But using a Stalinist-era slogan by calling them the "enemy of the people" is repugnant....when both sides do it.
And we see it in some of the press coverage of Trump, which even CBS “Face the Nation” host John Dickerson has called “hysterical.” Trump is not wrong when he complains that the press is seething with “so much anger and hatred” for him.

Trump was wrong to call reporters enemies. And, yes, the demonization of those who disagree with us is a deep problem in American politics.
But it didn’t start with Trump.

Perhaps it’s time for Trump’s critics — including those in the media — to take a good, hard look in the mirror and ask themselves how they are contributing to our growing culture of political contempt.

Michael Blatt examines the trend among Social-Justice Warriors who are all worried about white racism against blacks, but ignore racism against Asians. There are several prominent examples that demonstrate how easily those on the left can say something racist about Asian-Americans and not even notice.
Asian Americans don’t fit in neatly to the hierarchy of racial oppression created by the Left. “They’re basically white,” one woman who tweeted on #ThisIs2016 recalled hearing. White women who wanted to march on Washington, D.C., during inauguration weekend in January were told they can’t claim to be scared, because they haven’t suffered like black women. Democratic candidates for president are shouted down at Netroots Nation if they voice solidarity with “all lives.”

Activists of the Left tell others they must embrace “intersectional” concerns, but those concerns always happen to be exclusively left-wing ideals. That’s why no one wants to talk about the fact that Asian Americans with similar qualifications have a much harder time getting into college — with an effect that would equal losing 140 points on the SAT and 3.4 on the ACT than students of other races. There’s no movement against violence that has a disproportionate effect on destroying Asian American–owned businesses. Asian Americans are shouted down at college safe spaces when they try to discuss their experience of racism directed at them from African Americans. Even the wokest liberal cultural sites employ few Asian Americans.

The problem is social-justice liberals view the world entirely through a prism of identity. To them, no one is an individual, but rather an amalgamation of stereotypes associated with their race, gender, or group. Thus, simply because many Asian Americans have overcome hardship and prejudice and become relatively successful in the United States, liberals think they aren’t as entitled to our concern.

MTV’s Ramsay says this explicitly in the video, “10 Excuses Used to Deny Racism DEBUNKED!” Accompanying an image of a nameless “Asian Lesbian,” a chart shows the woman to have a very high “degree of privilege” based on her race, almost as high as MTV News attributed to whites. The idea that anyone can be successful through hard work, education, and values is alien to the liberal world view, where all success must be attributable to “privilege.” Asian Americans destroy the liberal hierarchy of oppression. (See original for links)

Not only is gender identity supposedly malleable, but now racial identity seems to also be a matter of perception. Katherine Timpf points to a Huffington Post writer who has figured out that he is no longer white.
In a article titled “I No Longer Identify as White,” Joshua Marcus writes that although he is “very white and very Jewish,” he “can’t help but feel” that his “racial and cultural identity has changed” “over the past few years” because his “boyfriend is mixed race.”

“In engaging with his racial realities, my eyes have been opened to things most white people are oblivious to,” Marcus writes.

“My point is that, as much as my white skin will always convey upon me a privilege not extended to non-whites, thinking of myself in binary racial terms is disingenuous,” he continues.....

Now, I certainly do believe that it’s absurd how many things are being called “cultural appropriation” these days. (Think-pieces about how it’s offensive to style your eyebrows a certain way or take a Zumba class come to mind.) After all, when people from one culture interact with people from another culture, it’s only natural for them to influence each other — and there’s nothing wrong with that. What’s more, since each person is an individual with individual experiences, I certainly do understand that that influence is going to be different for each individual person.

But the issue with Marcus is that he’s not talking about “influence;” he’s talking about identity, which is — spoiler alert! — a totally different word. It would be one thing for him to say he’s been especially influenced by other cultures because of his boyfriend, or even that he’s been more influenced by other cultures than other white people have. But to actually identify (or even “sort of” identify) as being a member of a race that you are objectively not a member of is to deny the facts, regardless of who your boyfriend is. You’re going 9 million steps beyond the “I have a non-white friend, so I’m not racist” thing and literally saying, “I have a non-white friend, so I’m not white,” and I just have to ask: Are you even listening to yourself?
So if our race and gender are no longer set at birth, what other qualities are equally transient? Being a human? If you love your pet dog, can you now identify as bi-species? Wait long enough and that's what we'll be hearing.

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Paul David Miller looks
at all the ways that Donald Trump could use the precedents set by President Obama to impose his policies without having to go through Congress.
In the contemporary American system of government—in contrast to the one set up by the Founders in the actual Constitution—the final say is with the chief executive. The president can lay aside years of procedural wrangling in Congress and multiple Supreme Court rulings because he now has the power to simply choose which laws to enforce and which to ignore.

Trump can justify his move with precedent from the Obama administration. More importantly, and troublingly, he can claim that he is simply doing what the people want and the complicated machinery of government has failed to do: it is his unilateral action, not the difficult and often frustrating procedures of representation and litigation, that reflects the true will of the people....

Trump has ample precedent to build on. Even The New York Times noted Barack Obama’s sweeping and nearly unprecedented reliance on executive orders during his presidency, which conservatives rightly criticized. Trump has promised to reverse Obama’s decrees, which is welcome, but Trump is unlikely to reverse Obama’s expansion of the executive power itself. (He signed at least 23 orders in his first month in office). Precedent is a powerful tool, and Trump’s ability to claim that Obama did the same shields him from repercussions for incrementally expanding the scope and reach of executive orders....

Executive orders are only the first tool available to a president wishing to wield his pen and phone aggressively. The president can also invoke prosecutorial discretion. The president oversees federal law enforcement and the work of federal prosecutors. By shifting budgets and setting priorities, the president can effectively choose which laws to ignore and which to enforce.

Obama used this power to selectively enforce the law, as when his administration chose to stop defending the Defense of Marriage Act before Obergefell v. Hodges. He also set aside entire categories of people exempt from law, as when he directed the Department of Homeland Security and other agencies to stop deporting millions of illegal immigrants (later struck down by the Supreme Court).

Trump might continue Obama’s abuse of prosecutorial discretion. He could, for example, refuse to prosecute violations of environmental regulations. Civil rights groups are likely to be concerned that the Trump administration will only selectively enforce civil rights, equal opportunity, and anti-discrimination statutes. If his executive order proves insufficient, Trump might not even bother asking Congress to repeal Obamacare: he could use Obama’s newfound executive power of declaring laws he dislikes to be unconstitutional to find the individual mandate is illegal and thus unenforceable.
Once one president sets a precedents, it never goes away. That's the main reason why I opposed Obama's extension of executive authority. And I worried what would happen after Obama because it was clear that, whether Trump or Clinton won the election, we were losing any semblance of limited government.

It's striking how so-called environmentalists protesting the North Dakota Access Pipeline really do treat the environment.
After numerous clashes with law enforcement and a cold winter, protestors have been told to remove themselves from the area or be forcibly detained. Their response? They lit their entire camp on fire, spewing black spoke and green house gases into the atmosphere.

Ah yes, nothing more environmentally friendly than burning plastic.

Good job, greenies. You've defeated the entire purpose of ever protesting in the first place.
Paul Crookston links to this story of why the Standing Rock tribe will be happy for the protesters to leave.
At this point, the Standing Rock Sioux could use fewer Dakota Access pipeline protesters in the camps and more high-rollers at the reservation casino.

The tribe’s Prairie Knights Casino & Resort reportedly has taken a $6 million hit amid the turmoil stemming from the protests, thanks in part to agitators who blocked roads, forced the closure of the Backwater Bridge after setting it on fire and left tons of garbage in their wake.

LaRoy Kingsley, spokesman for the reservation casino in Yates, North Dakota, said this week that the venue has undertaken a public relations campaign to lure patrons put off by months of upheaval and clashes with law enforcement.

“There’s absolutely no doubt that the protests and the closing of the bridge have had a significant impact on people’s ability to get to the casino and just their comfort level driving down,” Mr. Kingsley told WDAY-AM host Rob Port.

At the same time, other factors have played a part in the casino’s run of bad luck, including the economy and the weather.
Times have been tough for the tribe with bad weather and the slowdown from the fracking industry.
With a harsh winter afflicting the area, the closure of the Backwater Bridge came at the worst time for the tribe’s revenue. “When the bridge was shut off, the numbers just plummeted,” said the tribe’s CFO Jerome Long Bottom to the Bismarck Tribune. With a critical access route to the casino cut off, it follows that revenue is down from $14 million in 2015 to $8 million in 2016, according to figures in the Washington Times.

The protest posed various difficulties for the Standing Rock. When a blizzard hit, they sacrificed space in the casino to help protesters who were in danger from the inclement weather. Meanwhile, the tribe’s association with visiting protesters has discouraged some from patronizing the casino. It appears that massive taxpayer expenses, blocking road access, and halting energy production are not as popular among North Dakotans as they are among the cosmopolitan admirers of the protest.

So the protesters don't really care about the environment and they don't really care about the tribe they're purporting to help. Surprise, surprise.

In his continuing series analyzing the 2016 election, Nate Silver now writes that people should stop blaming Hillary's ground game for her loss.
Here’s the thing, though: The evidence suggests those decisions didn’t matter very much. In fact, Clinton’s ground game advantage over Trump may have been as large as the one Obama had over Mitt Romney in 2012. It just wasn’t enough to save the Electoral College for her.

There are several major problems with the idea that Clinton’s Electoral College tactics cost her the election. For one thing, winning Wisconsin and Michigan — states that Clinton is rightly accused of ignoring — would not have sufficed to win her the Electoral College. She’d also have needed Pennsylvania, Florida or another state where she campaigned extensively. For another, Clinton spent almost twice as much money as Trump on her campaign in total. So even if she devoted a smaller share of her budget to a particular state or a particular activity, it may nonetheless have amounted to more resources overall (5 percent of a $969 million budget is more than 8 percent of a $531 million one).

But most importantly, the changes in the vote from 2012 to 2016 are much better explained by demographics than by where the campaigns spent their time and money.

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Here's a peculiar story.
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials tried to hack Indiana’s state electoral system with at least 14,800 “scans” or hits between Nov. 1, 2016, to Dec. 16, 2016, The Daily Caller News Foundation Investigative Group has learned.

The attacks are the second confirmed IT scanning assault by DHS officials against states that resisted then-President Barack Obama’s attempt to increase federal involvement in state and local election systems by designating them as “critical infrastructure” for national security....

Indiana Secretary of State Connie Lawson, the incoming president of the association, told TheDCNF Tuesday that, “we know that between November 1 and December 16 we were scanned with about 14,800 scans, nearly 15,000 different times.”

The state’s IT team traced the intruder to a DHS computer’s IP address. The same DHS unit attempted 10 times in 2016 to hack into the Georgia electoral system.

Federal officials are barred under DHS rules from trying to penetrate a state system without the express approval of the state. Neither Georgia nor Indiana approved the DHS scanning attempts.

The DHS inspector general has launched an official investigation into the Georgia breach attempt.
This sounds like something the Trump administration will need to investigate and figure out what was going on. Perhaps the Vice President, formerly the governor of Indiana, might want to get involved.