Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Cruising the Web

Well, now that the Republicans have failed to repeal, much less replace Obamacare, the cri du jour is for some sort of bipartisan effort. But as James Freeman points out, the Democrats aren't interested in any sort of bipartisan compromise particularly when it comes to tax reform.
To their credit, Senate Democrats have generously decided to save everyone’s time by ruling out anything that deviates from their agenda of raising more government revenue and maintaining high marginal tax rates. In a six-paragraph note on “tax reform” signed by 45 of the Senate’s 48 Democrats, the pols don’t propose any particular measures to simplify or cut anyone’s taxes. But the signers, who include Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden, make clear who should definitely not get a tax cut....

Just in case Republicans hadn’t gotten the point that the signatories had no interest in tax relief, the Democratic lawmakers rejected any “deficit-financed tax cut,” suggested no willingness to accept spending cuts to offset such a cut and added that “tax reform should be focused on providing a revenue base.”

With the legislative calendar slipping away, Republicans should appreciate the favor they’ve just been done. As they draft a plan to boost economic growth and provide taxpayer relief, GOP lawmakers now know that the three Democrats who didn’t sign today’s letter—coincidentally all up for re-election in states Donald Trump won in 2016—are the only ones interested in negotiating.

Stephen L. Miller advises
Republicans not to fall into the celebrity trap of supporting Kid Rock's purported candidacy for the Senate.
The same thinkers on the right who lament President Trump’s daily tweets are willing to at least entertain the idea of a Senate candidate like Kid Rock basing his entire would-be gimmick candidacy on retweets and his name trending on Twitter.

What started as an advertising ploy has developed into Kid Rock filing for tax exemption for a 501(c)(4) social welfare organization with the goal of registering voters (a good thing!), particularly at his concerts. But this all still feels like a honey trap for members of the political right, who keep insisting their pop culture celebrity base can be just as formidable and relevant as the one we saw swell under Barack Obama.

Members of the media who regularly use their Twitter feeds as their own personal "Daily Show" snark are elevating Kid Rock, while giggling to themselves at the very thought, somehow forgetting that Donald Trump’s flirtation with the presidency started this exact same way.

The question shouldn’t be can the middle-age Kid win with faux celebrity populism, as President Trump did. Kid Rock can hit all the right notes with pictures of home-cooked meals on Twitter and a pop image catering to “The forgotten man.”

The question should be: can Kid Rock govern? Do we know Kid Rock’s positions on abortion, eminent domain, civil forfeiture, tax reform, health care, immigration and national security? Or have those on the right who claim to know better decided that none of that matters anymore?
A better GOP candidate than Kid Rock would be Detroit businessman and Iraq war veteran, John James, who has filed to form an exploratory committee to run for the GOP nomination. He might not be a celebrity rock star, but I'd much prefer this guy.

Wouldn't you like to see him take on Debbie Stabenow?

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Here's a new privilege to worry about having - being smart.
he University of Iowa’s student newspaper has announced the discovery of a special privilege which intelligent people acquire as an accident of birth. This new privilege — called “cognitive privilege” — functions in essentially the same way as white privilege.

The Daily Iowan revealed the discovery of this new privilege earlier this week.

Garden-variety white privilege “is an important topic that deserves a public discussion,” the op-ed on “cognitive privilege” explains, but it is also “prudent to at least mention the wider concept contained therein: that of privilege itself.”
Se we have to acknowledge how unfair it is that some people are born smarter than others.
There are many kinds of privilege besides white privilege: cognitive privilege, for example. We now know that intelligence is not something we have significant control over but is something we are born with. We are living in a society in which success is increasingly linked to one’s intelligence. This is not to say that intelligence is the only factor that is important. All that is implied is that below a certain threshold of intelligence, there are fewer and fewer opportunities. These opportunities are being shifted upward to jobs that require heavier cognitive lifting or else are being replaced by robots. Thus, the accident of having been born smart enough to be able to be successful is a great benefit that you did absolutely nothing to earn. Consequently, you have nothing to be proud of for being smart.

Once we have admitted the reality of privilege itself and identified some species of privilege, we are better able to talk about the temperature-rising topic of racial privilege.
See we need to all be aware of whatever privileges we might have been born with and not just limit ourselves to feeling guilty about being white.

Noah Rothman describes the ways
that "The Resistance" movement has deteriorated into ridiculousness.
What began as a broad-based and occasionally sympathetic conduit for anti-Trump activists has evolved into a platform for the maladjusted to receive unhealthy levels of public scrutiny. The cycle has become a depressingly familiar. A relatively obscure member of the political class achieves viral notoriety and becomes a figure of cult-like popularity with some uncompromising display of opposition toward the president only to humiliate themselves and their followers in short order.

Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters is not the first to be feted by liberals as the embodiment of noble opposition to authoritarianism. In May, the Center for American Progress’ blog dubbed her the “patron saint of resistance politics.” “Left-leaning viral-politics websites now routinely praise Waters as a Trump-bashing ‘resistance leader,’ the Democratic ‘rock star’ of 2017, and an all-around ‘badass’ for her unflagging commitment to trashing the president as a crooked and racist liar,” the Daily Beast observed. Waters was even honored by an audience of tweens and entertainers at this year’s MTV Movie Awards. Even a modestly curious review of Waters’ record would have led more cautious political actors to keep their distance. Time bombs have a habit of going off.

Zero hour arrived late Friday evening when Waters broke the news of a forthcoming putsch. “Mike Pence is somewhere planning an inauguration,” the congresswoman from California wrote. “Priebus and Spicer will lead the transition.” That sounds crazy, but it’s a familiar kind of crazy.

Anyone who has followed the congresswoman’s career knows she has a history of making inflammatory assertions for the benefit of her audience. It only takes a cursory google search to discover that, in her decade in politics, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) has named her the most corrupt member of Congress four times and the misconduct of her chief of staff ensnared her in a House Ethics Committee probe. “The Resistance” is willing to overlook a plethora of flaws and misdeeds as long as their prior assumptions are validated.

This is not the first time its own heroes have undercut “The Resistance”.

....If Democrats hope to strike a favorable contrast with a lackadaisical White House, they’re not well served by surrounding themselves with reckless people. Too often, the faces of “The Resistance” wither in the spotlight. A serious movement attracts serious opposition. A frivolous, self-gratifying movement, well, doesn’t.

Oops. This is embarrassing.
A self-described "email prankster" in the UK fooled a number of White House officials into thinking he was other officials, including an episode where he convinced the White House official tasked with cyber security that he was Jared Kushner and received that official's private email address unsolicited.

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Bari Weiss, a staff editor for the NYT opinion section, wrote a column pointing out that several of the leaders of the Women's March against Trump have very questionable backgrounds. They've praised prominent anti-Semites, the killing of Jews and policemen. Weiss is honest enough to note, as many conservatives have, that it is troubling for a movement supposedly about women's rights should feature people with such detestable views. She wonders why a supposed feminist is praising Louis Farrakhan or female genital mutilation. And she makes a good point that should alarm those on the left if they're so contemptuous of how the GOP allowed Trump to take over the party.
I can already hear the pushback. What’s a few impolitic tweets and photos compared to the horror show of this administration? Save your outrage for the transgender ban in the military, for the lies that spew forth daily from the press briefing room, for the cuts to Planned Parenthood, the shady business with Russia, and, and, and.

But the nightmare of the Trump administration is the proof text for why all of this matters. We just saw what happens to legitimate political parties when they fall prey to movements that are, at base, anti-American. That is true of the populist, racist alt-right that helped deliver Mr. Trump the White House and are now hollowing out the Republican Party. And it can be true of the progressive “resistance” — regardless of how chic, Instagrammable and celebrity-laden the movement may seem. Recall that only a few months ago, Keith Ellison, a man with a long history of defending and working with anti-Semites, was almost made leader of the Democratic National Committee.

Will progressives have more spine than conservatives in policing hate in their ranks? Or will they ignore it in their fury over the Trump administration?

I am sure that Linda Sarsour, and perhaps the other leaders of the Women’s March, will block me for writing this. Maybe I’ll be accused of siding with the alt-right or tarred as Islamophobic. But what I stand against is embracing terrorists, disdaining independent feminist voices, hating on democracies and celebrating dictatorships. If that puts me beyond the pale of the progressive feminist movement in America right now, so be it.
How has the left gotten to the place that a progressive writer worries about condemning someone who has praised those who call for the death of Jews or praises a cop-killer or a ruthless dictator like Fidel Castro?

Palestinians are trying to lobby Congress to forestall legislation stopping US aid to the Palestinian Authority as long as they pay the families of people who murder Israelis. It's a tough job for the PLO's representative in D.C, Husam Zomlot.
In an interview last week, he gave me his argument for why the Palestinian Authority has budgeted more than $300 million for its next fiscal year to pay the families of terrorists and other prisoners. "This is a program that is used is for the victims of the occupation," he said. "It's a program to give the families a dignified life, they are provided for, so they and their kids can lead a different future."

He said the money goes to pay for laptop computers and college tuition for children who otherwise would be facing a bleak future, and families who may have their homes razed by the Israelis as punishment for spawning a terrorist.

Zomlot says this gives no incentive for terrorism. Indeed, he assured me that some graduates of "the program" include high-ranking Palestinian security officials that have cooperated with the Israel Defense Forces. (The PLO has administered these martyr payments in some form since 1965.) What's more, he said, if the Palestinian Authority doesn't pay the families of prisoners, more radical groups likely will fill the void.

All of this raises an obvious question. If the Palestinian Authority wants to give poor children laptops and college tuition, why not just do that? Why create a special allowance for only the children and families of Palestinians who kill Jews?

....But it's also true that the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, has in recent years encouraged a resistance to the occupation that is measured in Jewish blood. His Palestinian Authority honors murderers by naming streets and parks after them. When Israel released violent prisoners in 2013 as an inducement to restart peace negotiations, there were official celebrations in Gaza and the West Bank.

Two of those released, the cousins Mohammed and Hosni Sawalha, were arrested as teenagers after they entered a bus and began stabbing commuters. Another releasee was Al-Haaj Othman Amar Mustafa, who along with two other assailants posed for a picture outside of the settlement of Ariel with Frederick Steven Rosenfeld, a U.S. Marine who had emigrated to Israel. They confessed to stabbing Rosenfeld and leaving him for dead.

When these prisoners were released in 2013, Abbas personally met them and kissed them on the cheek. "We congratulate ourselves and our families for our brothers who left the darkness of the prisons for the light of the sun of freedom," Abbas said at the time.

Abbas probably has to say things like this in order to survive. Palestinians have been celebrating such "martyrs" for decades. To speak honestly about Mustafa and the Sawalhas would be seen as betrayal. But Graham and his supporters are under no such constraints. They see Mustafa and the Sawalhas for what they are: murderers.
So why should we be sending money to those who celebrate murderers?

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Mollie Hemingway exposes the shallowness of some liberal media figures understanding of conservative media. A lot of people were making fun of The Federalist for two articles they posted about Anthony Scaramucci. All they read was the titles and figured that there was something there they could ridicule. One article by David Marcus had the satiric title "Why Anthony Scaramucci Is The Man Trump And America Need," but it wasn't praising Scaramucci, but actually criticizing him and Trump. Then, nine hours later, after the Mooch had been fired, David Harsanyi, no fan of Trump, wrote an article, "Why Scaramucci’s Firing Might Be Good News For Donald Trump." As Hemingway points out, there is nothing wrong for a journal of opinion to publish writers of different opinions instead of demanding some sort of ideological conformity. And, if you read both articles, despite the differing titles, the approach and take on Trump and Scaramucci weren't that different.

I was thinking of how Trump and the Mooch have ruined two perfectly good words for us. I know I've caught myself, especially when talking in class, to choose a different verb than "trump" when discussing any subject. And I've noticed people pausing a second or so after they've used "trump" and smiling almost apologetically. And "mooch" used to be a perfectly good word to describe someone who sponges off of others without making any contribution. Now, at least for a bit of time, using that word will evoke images of Scaramucci. Alas.

But perhaps after a few months when the memory of Anthony Scaramucci will have thankfully faded from our memories, we can return to use "mooch" and think first of Cab Calloway's "Minnie the Moocher" rather than ol' what's his name.

And I can remember one of my favorite books from when I was a kid, Rafael Sabatini's Scaramouche. Gosh, I loved that book and all Sabatini's books (which my public library fortunately stocked), especially Captain Blood.