Monday, February 06, 2017

Cruising the Web

Wow!! What a fourth quarter! I had totally given up on the Patriots. That just goes to show that, as Jimmy V. said, you should never give up, never give up. Sports coaches will forever be reminding teams that are behind to try and be like Brady and the Patriots in Super Bowl LI.

Though it still seems unfair that overtime is settled on a coin flip with the losing team not getting a chance to have the ball. I'm with Mike Florio on this one. But they play with the rules in place.

Roger Goodell was his typical weaselly self in not being the one to hand the trophy to Brady and just shaking his hand in congratulations during a commercial break. He knew that everyone was looking for that moment of delicious revenge and so he ducked out of it. The guy is a weasel.

Tom Brady risked a jinx by filming an ad with his having a fifth ring while throwing a little dig at Goodell at the end.

Now that the finale has been written, I'm looking forward to the 30 for the 30 documentary and hope that it shows how there was nothing at all to the deflated football story as the league itself showed by not doing anything when the Steelers had underinflated balls this year. I want to see it get the OJ - Made in America treatment.

Gee, it was nice to see George H.W. and Barbara Bush come out to oversee the coin toss. I couldn't help but fear that this might be our last time seeing them together out in public.

Why does Trump continue to denigrate the United States in order to withhold criticism of Putin? Conservatives would be furious if someone on the left talked this way. This is disgraceful, particularly from a president of the United States. Allahpundit has the easy answer for Trump, but unfortunately, that's not the way that Trump rolls.
What’s most striking about this, though, is how gratuitous it is. What he says is wholly unnecessary to achieve his purpose, which is simply making the public comfortable with the idea of detente with Russia. When O’Reilly says “Putin’s a killer,” Trump has an easy comeback available to him: “I know he is, but Mao was much more of a killer and Nixon had the good sense to build a relationship with him. Why? Because it was in the interests of Americans to do so. That’s my goal too, in all things. I’m a realist. I deal with the world as it is, not how I’d like it to be.”
It makes you wonder if Trump really has such a negative view of the United States. I guess that would give him, in his own mind, more room to make America great. I thought it was an awful idea for Trump to go be interviewed by Bill O'Reilly before the Super Bowl. I can't believe that there are many people who wanted to see him right before the game. And this is how he used that moment - to bad mouth the country he's the leader of? That's just appallingly stupid.

And, apparently, this is the administration position since the Vice President refused to answer a question as to whether America is morally superior to Russia.
"Face the Nation" host John Dickerson brought up that during President Barack Obama's time in office he was often criticized by Republicans for not projecting American exceptionalism, and that perhaps President Trump's statement comparing Russia to America was a more blatant example of anti-American exceptionalism than what Obama was called out for during his time as president.

"What you heard there was a determination to attempt to deal with the world as it is," Pence said. "Let's start afresh with Putin, and start afresh with Russia."

Dickerson then bluntly asked Pence, "Do you think America is morally superior to Russia?" The vice president dodged the issue, speaking in broad, general terms and not directly addressing the question of American and Russian standing.

"What we have in this new president is someone who is willing to engage the world, including Russia, and saying where can we find common interests that will advance the security of the American people, the peace and prosperity of the world, and he is determined to come at that in a new and renewed way."

After multiple attempts to get an answer from Pence, the Dickerson again asked, "Shouldn't we be able to just say yes to that question? That America is morally superior to Russia?"

Pence again dodged the question, but offered a final response without addressing Russia, "I think it is without question, John, that American ideals are superior to countries all across the world."
Of course, it's a gotcha question, but shouldn't an experienced politician like Mike Pence be able to do better than that? I'm not so sure about Trump, but doesn't Trump know about the political opponents such as Aleksandr Litvenko and Anna Politkovskaya and all the others whom Putin is suspecting of murdering.

Gee, we're a long way from when the President of the United States didn't hesitate to call the Soviet Union an evil empire while referring to the United states as a shining city on a hill. The left hated that
and went crazy over his daring to speak the truth about the Soviets. Now the Republicans have a president and vice president who see a moral equivalency between Putin's government and ours. This is not progress, folks.

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Matt Lewis answers
Trump to explain that yes, America is exceptional.
First, it’s true America is not perfect; we’ve made mistakes. Yet in World War II, for example, America sought to liberate, not conquer (like the Soviets). And domestically speaking, Saturday Night Live’s ability to mock the president and his administration the way they did last night—and get away with it—proves that this nation is a free country. Rush Limbaugh is another example: He mocked Bill Clinton and Barack Obama for a combined eight years, and the only real damage he suffered during that time was self-inflicted. Good luck trying that in Putin’s Russia.
Yes, America has made mistakes over the years. We do a lot of self-flagellation—another sign that we are transparent about our sins. And yes, sometimes a complex world requires tough choices. But a doctor who performs surgery is not to be confused with a butcher. Here, motives matter a great deal. When someone tried to compare the invasion of Grenada to the Soviets’ invasion of Afghanistan, William F. Buckley explained that comparing the two things was “like saying that the man who pushes a little old lady into the path of a bus is morally equivalent to the man who pushes her out of its path, because they both push little old ladies around.”
Donald Trump is not a transformational leader; he is a transactional leader. He does not summon us or inspire us with big ideas; he makes us want what is coming to us. We get what we want because we are powerful enough to demand it. We do deals. This ethos is perfectly fine for a New York casino magnate; it is a problematic ethos for the leader of the free world.
It means he rejects American exceptionalism, a concession that has made him some strange bedfellows. “Trump has no use at all for American exceptionalism,” wrote Jeet Heer of The New Republic. “That’s one of his few redeeming qualities.” And Glenn Greenwald called this moment “your periodic reminder that the U.S. arms, funds, supports, protects & props up the world’s most savage despots, and has for decades.”
Meanwhile, as Jake Tapper pointed out, Republicans would be protesting in the streets if Barack Obama had uttered the words: “What do you think? Our country’s so innocent?”
Trump is half-Howard Zinn and half-Gordon Gekko. He combines a traditional left-wing assumption that America is just as compromised as every other nation (maybe worse) with the transactional business ethos that puts profits ahead of people, ideas, and values.

P. J. O'Rourke reflects on how 2016 was the year of people rebelling against elites all over the world. It really is a startling list.
Great Britain's political, business, and trade union leaders were opposed to Brexit. That is, the people who supported the Iraq war plus the people who caused the 2008 global financial crisis plus the people who nationalized the British automobile industry were all in unprecedented agreement on one issue. Voters felt they couldn't go wrong betting against this trifecta.

A similar broad coalition of Colombia's good and great spent five years negotiating a peace treaty with a starving rabble of FARC guerrillas who had been marauding in the country's hinterlands since 1964. A plebiscite was held to ratify the peace agreement, causing voters to tacitly ask, "After 52 years of murder, kidnapping, pillage, theft, and trafficking in narcotics, FARC is being offered retirement benefits?" The plebiscite failed.

There can be a reactionary element to the revolt. Such supposedly MSNBC-philic places as Denmark, Sweden, and the Netherlands have seen the rise of nationalist, protectionist, anti-immigration, EU-skeptical political parties. Parties of this kind govern Poland and Hungary.

In France, Marine Le Pen's National Front is now the largest single political party, protesting an influx of foreigners and never mind that the French are foreigners.

However, antielitism can come from every political direction. Brazil is in the process of bringing indictments for corruption against practically every one of its politicians—left, right, and middle-of-the-road—for the simple reason that they're guilty of it.
Things just aren't looking good for elites anywhere.

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The Washington Post reports
that the Trump team is finally getting organized. Perhaps realizing how his administration had messed up his executive order on banning travel from seven majority Muslim countries, Trump tried to get things better organized.
At a senior staff meeting last Monday, according to one adviser in attendance, the president delivered an unmistakable decree: “Reince [Priebus] is in charge. He’s the chief of staff. Everything has to go through him.”
Well, perhaps that worked for a couple of days with the nomination of Judge Gorsuch giving Trump his best moments so far in the presidency. But things have gone downhill from there with the Ninth Circuit upholding the order blocking his travel ban and then Trump going on TV to draw moral equivalence between the United States and Putin's government. And Trump has responded with some nasty tweets against the federal judge who ordered the stay. Because it's so presidential to call a judge who rules against you a "so-called judge." Maybe they're working harder to get more of a handle on this job, but the man who ran on his ability to run the government better than others because of his experience running his own businesses has not impressed so far with his ability to run a well-organized White House staff that can coordinate with his allies in Congress without stepping on his own message.

As the WSJ writes Trump's administration looks to be right on the merits, but Trump has been offensive in his own response to the TRO.
The damage from President Trump’s order on immigration and refugees continues to compound, now escalating into a conflict with the judicial branch. There’s enough bad behavior and blame to go around, but Mr. Trump didn’t need to court this altercation.

On Friday federal Judge James Robart in Seattle issued a nationwide temporary restraining order (TRO) on Mr. Trump’s suspension of U.S. entry for migrants from seven countries associated with terrorism risks. The Trump Administration is obeying and not enforcing its new immigration policy pending appeal of the TRO, so apparently the onset of fascism that we keep hearing about will be postponed by the Constitution’s normal checks and balances.

But Mr. Trump is exporting his politics-by-insult to the courts, writing on Twitter that “The opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially takes law-enforcement away from our country, is ridiculous and will be overturned!” The more appropriate response to executive defeat in the courts is to say that the Administration is confident it will prevail on appeal, and especially in this case. Judge Robart’s TRO is remarkably flimsy.

Judges have the power to impose temporary restraining orders when the plaintiffs can show they are suffering irreparable injury and are likely to win on the merits. Judges have an obligation to explain why they are availing themselves of this extraordinary remedy and to work through the logic.

Judge Robart’s seven-page ruling includes no discussion or analysis, with only a cursory assertion of the harms that Washington and other states have conjured to “the operations and missions of their public universities and other institutions of higher learning, as well as injury to States’ operations, tax bases and public funds.”

The Constitution gives the federal government supremacy over immigration, and in the Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1952 Congress gave the President the exclusive authority to temporarily suspend “the entry of any class of aliens” that “would be detrimental to the interests of the United States.”

The first step for any judge is to determine if he has jurisdiction—that is, the plaintiffs have suffered concrete injuries that are grounds for a lawsuit. Speculative claims about state budgets and colleges don’t qualify. Thus Judge Robart’s TRO exceeds the limits on judicial power. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals denied the Trump Administration’s motion for an administrative stay that would have lifted Judge Robart’s order immediately, but the plaintiff—Washington State—must respond by Monday. Then a panel will decide whether to rule or hear oral arguments.

Mr. Trump’s rants against the judiciary are offensive to the rule of law, and perhaps also to his own case. Anyone who defies Mr. Trump these days becomes an overnight progressive folk hero—think Sally Yates—and the judicial liberals of the Ninth Circuit may rally around a bad ruling if they feel they have to defend the judiciary from presidential attack.

Even if the law is on his side, Mr. Trump and aides Stephen Bannon and Stephen Miller created this mess with an executive order that was conceived in secret, sloppily written and overbroad, and sprung on a confused public. Breitbartian methods may work online but in the Oval Office they run up against political reality. When Mr. Trump indulges his worst impulses, he makes enemies out of potential friends and debacles out of should-be victories.
Whatever the full Ninth Circuit decides to do, it will be appealed up to the Supreme Court, a Court that is evenly divided four/four so who knows how they would rule.

Ramesh Ponnuru ridicules the emptiness of the case that liberals have against Judge Gorsuch's confirmation to the Supreme Court. They can try to portray him as extreme, but it's just not believable.
“Unfortunately, Judge Gorsuch has proven to have a judicial philosophy outside of the mainstream and time and again has subjugated individual rights to those of corporations,” says Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York.

She cites Gorsuch’s ruling that the Hobby Lobby craft-store chain should be able to refuse to offer employee health coverage for contraceptives that its evangelical Christian owners oppose. Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio also claims that Gorsuch proved he was “far outside of the judicial mainstream” in treating corporations as people.

Yet only two of the nine justices on the Supreme Court sided with these senators in denying that corporations could qualify for protection under religious-liberty statutes. Justices Stephen Breyer and Elena Kagan, both Democratic appointees, voted against Hobby Lobby, but refused to endorse that argument. So who’s really out of the mainstream?

Senator Ron Wyden tweets that “Gorsuch represents a breathtaking retreat from the notion that Americans have fundamental Constitutional rights” and “harkens back to the days when politicians restricted a people’s rights on a whim.” You can read this in one of two ways. Perhaps the Oregon Democrat is saying Gorsuch does not believe that the Constitution protects any fundamental rights. But there is no evidence at all that Gorsuch takes that absurd view and abundant evidence against it.

Or maybe Wyden is saying he believes the Constitution protects some specific fundamental rights that Gorsuch does not see in the document. Gorsuch does not, for example, believe that the Constitution protects a right to assisted suicide. (The Supreme Court has never held that it does.) Perhaps Wyden disagrees. But if Wyden means only that Gorsuch would rule differently than Wyden would like, he is using deliberately hyperbolic language to describe a banal disagreement.

Nan Aron, the head of an influential liberal organization called the Alliance for Justice, sent out an email after Gorsuch’s nomination saying: “He is critical of laws that ensure workers’ rights and safety, guarantee equal opportunity, safeguard consumers and investors, ensure the safety of food and drugs, and protect our environment.”

No, he isn’t. He has, however, said that when federal agencies issue regulations for those and other purposes, courts should make sure those regulations are authorized in laws passed by Congress. Aron would have you believe that enforcing a law is the same thing as undermining it.
Well, actually that is what a lot of liberals believe about the role of the federal courts.

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