Monday, November 05, 2018

Cruising the Web

My husband informed me today that Matt Lewis had stolen "my stuff" because Lewis wrote a column for the Daily Beast something I'd said a few days ago. I'd observed that it could actually help Trump if the Democrats took the House. It would help him to have an identifiable opponent who was more in the public eye than random Democrats that he regularly calls out. It helped Bill Clinton to have Newt Gingrich and the GOP Congress as a foil after the Republicans took Congress in 1994. And it helped Obama to have the Republicans as opponents to attack after the 2010 election.

Right now the Republicans get all the blame for not doing more when they have control over both the Executive and Legislative branches. Average Americans don't understand the intricacies of how hard it is to pass something in the Senate or the diplomacy needed to corral all the GOP House members. They just see the headlines and perceive the GOP Congress as a failure because that's how the media portray the Congress. They don't understand that it's very hard to pass any legislation with only a 51 seat majority in the Senate and a narrow majority in the House.

Sure, the Democrats will activate every tool of oversight that they can. And that will be a nuisance for the administration, but it's also a useful check. If members of the Trump administration have wasted money or done something shady, we should know about it. And if the Democrats are a bit cray-cray in their obsessive pursuit of the great Orange Whale than that will probably end up helping Trump in the polls.

It will be tough to pass any legislation with a divided Congress, but that wasn't going to happen anyway. And now the Democrats will be forced to share blame. And we can be assured that Trump will do his best to make sure that they shoulder that blame.

Lewis shares some of these points in his
First, winning would create challenges for Democrats. Believing they have a mandate, the party would be tempted to veer leftward and possibly pursue impeachment (falling for the same trap that Newt Gingrich and his Republican colleagues fell for in the late '90s). On the other hand, if Democrats resist the urge to lurch leftward, they could risk alienating a political base that turned out to vote for them in hopes of enacting a liberal agenda. Regardless of which side prevails, fights would break out over leadership positions (should Pelosi become Speaker again, etc.).

Second, losing the House would allow Trump to (plausibly) spread the blame. Right now, Republicans own everything that happens—or doesn’t happen. That changes the minute Democrats take over the House.

Trump might even take a page from Harry Truman’s playbook. Heading into the 1946 midterm elections, Truman was wildly unpopular, which resulted in Republicans picking up 55 House seats and 12 Senate seats. It was widely believed that Truman would suffer a similar fate in 1948, losing the presidential election. Yet, Truman famously defied the odds by running against the famous “Do-Nothing Congress” and winning reelection.

Similarly, one can imagine Donald Trump making 2020 a referendum on the Democratic Congress. Even with Nancy Pelosi out of power, Republicans have effectively demonized her in local races. Imagine what Donald Trump could do with a Speaker Pelosi (or whoever becomes the face of the Democratic Party).
Lewis even contemplates the unlikely result that Trump might learn from his mistakes after a loss.
I’m not suggesting that a loss on Tuesday will cause an introspective Donald Trump to pivot or “move to the center.” If we have learned anything these last two years, it is that “infrastructure week” is a mirage. I don’t foresee Trump deciding to work across the aisle with “Chuck and Nancy.” He’s much more likely to “give ‘em hell” like Harry Truman than he is to “triangulate” like Bill Clinton.

Still, it is entirely possible that a midterm loss would force his administration to make some needed adjustments. And those adjustments might pay off in 2020. (If you think the odds of Trump learning from his mistakes are long now, just imagine what they would be like if he wins.)
I don't buy any new Trump moving to triangulate with a Democratic House as Clinton tried to do after 1994. But we could see some sort of infrastructure bill that both parties might support. That doesn't thrill me, but I don't see much other policy where there would be accord between the White House and a Democrat-led House.

The most important thing for conservatives is that the Republicans keep the Senate and keep putting textualists on the federal bench. And Trump will need those Republicans in the Senate if he has to start replacing more members of his administration after the midterms.

Aaron Blake writes in the Washington Post to ponder the same idea - that losing the House in 2018 could help Trump in 2020. Sure, he'd have to deal with a lot of pesky subpoenas and worse gridlock than we have now. But still....
But if you are looking at this purely from the vantage point of Trump’s self-interest — particularly as it relates to winning reelection in 2020 — there is a compelling case to be made that a Democratic House might be a good thing for the president.

The first reason is that voters seem to like divided government. Of the last six presidents to win reelection since World War II, only one had complete control of Congress — George W. Bush in 2004. In 1996, 1988, 1980, 1972, 1968 and 1956, one party controlled all of Congress, but voters picked the other party for the White House.

The second is that it gives Trump a boogeyman — or, more apt, a boogeywoman. It’s one thing to campaign against House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) by warning that she could become speaker; it’s another to do so if she is speaker. If Democrats win the House, Trump will have a ready-made foil for his 2020 reelection campaign, even if his Democratic opponent is not such a lightning rod.

Trump could also blame the Democratic House for his continued failures to live up to his many, many promises. (He has already done this to some degree, even though Democrats have no control over any branch of government.) Trump has fulfilled some promises, but key ones and far-fetched ones such as the border wall (not to mention making Mexico pay for it) remain improbable even if Republicans keep control of the House and Senate. If you are going to have gridlock, you might as well have someone on which to blame it who is not in your own party.

And, finally, even that subpoena power could pose some tough choices for Democrats. There will be pressure from the party’s base to go after Trump heard and even impeach him, but we’ve seen how that can lead to overreach — most notably, when Republicans impeached Bill Clinton in the late 1990s. And Democratic leaders have already telegraphed a wariness about that. What happens when they actually have power and the base wants them to go further than they think is prudent? That doesn’t mean they will go too far, but there’s a clear tension.
What would hurt more than losing the House is losing state legislatures and governors going into the 2020 elections. If that trend continues, look to see Democrats suddenly discovering how much they like gerrymandering.

I wish that I'd written up my theories on all this last week so I could demonstrate that I had already argued this. I'll just have to be satisfied with my husband recognizing that "they're stealing my stuff."

Kimberley Strassel notes how many of the Democrats hoping to win office this time around are trying to hide their progressivism.
Even liberal prognosticators today forecast that Republicans will keep the Senate and Democrats will manage only a narrow majority in the House, if that. It’s always possible the polls are off, or that there is a last-minute bombshell. But it remains the case that the ascendant progressive movement blew an easy victory for Democrats.

Meanwhile, to the extent Democrats are winning, it has been in large part due to party leaders’ quiet but laborious efforts to sequester that movement. Yes, talk-show hosts have made a darling of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the progressive activist who defeated incumbent Rep. Joe Crowley in a New York primary. And liberal pundits are already claiming a victory by left-wing Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum in Florida’s gubernatorial race will prove America aches for Medicare for All.

But on the ground, Mr. Gillum and Ms. Ocasio-Cortez are the anomalies of this cycle. The far bigger if less covered story is the extent to which Democrats have run candidates with conservative credentials, or candidates who can’t run fast enough from liberal positions.

For all the talk of the “year of the woman,” it is equally the year of the Democratic “veteran.” In battleground after battleground district, Democrats recruited former service members as their candidates: Amy McGrath in Kentucky, Richard Ojeda in West Virginia, Jason Crow in Colorado, Jared Golden in Maine, Conor Lamb in Pennsylvania, Mikie Sherrill in New Jersey, Max Rose in New York. By at least one count, more than half the veterans who’ve run in 2018 are Democrats—a huge shift, and a reason some traditionally GOP districts are competitive.

Senate races, meanwhile, have been entirely defined by the extent to which Democratic candidates have positioned themselves as “moderates.” Arizona’s Kyrsten Sinema, a self-described “Prada socialist” and onetime antiwar activist, now insists she would be an “independent” voice in favor of bipartisanship. Nevada’s Jacky Rosen was one of three House Democrats who voted in September to make the Trump individual tax cuts permanent. Missouri incumbent Claire McCaskill is running a radio ad boasting she “is not one of those crazy Democrats.” Asked on Fox News about her Senate colleagues, she took a swipe at Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders.
I don't know how often conservative and independent voters can buy this schtick. I don't believe Republicans who run to the middle and I don't buy it from Democrats. Once they get in, most of them will vote on a party-line basis for most votes. And whoever wins to be Speaker of the House will be a strong liberal who will need the votes of these supposed moderates down the line. And new Democratic senators will figure that they won't have to worry about voting against Trump and the Republicans when they are up for reelection in 2024.

Meanwhile, attention will shift immediately to the 2020 nomination fight which will be a race to the left with each candidate trying to outbid his or her competitors by embracing a progressive agenda.
The moment the polls close on Tuesday, it will be wheels up for the 2020 presidential campaign. And save for Joe Biden, every current leading contender for the Democratic nomination either was a ringleader of the Kavanaugh spectacle (Sens. Cory “Spartacus” Booker and Kamala Harris) or is a progressive icon (Ms. Warren, Mr. Sanders, Kirsten Gillibrand).

If Democrats win Tuesday, it will be despite this crowd, not because of it. They’d be wise to remember that a vote to rebuke President Trump’s inflammatory politics isn’t the same as an embrace of a progressive agenda or its candidates. The Democrats’ own recent history and campaign strategy prove it.
Perhaps Biden can win out by being the only one to occupy a supposed moderate position in contrast to the other candidates on the far left. I continue to think that Biden would have been a much stronger opponent in 2016 than Clinton. If he'd gotten in the race when people were begging him to after his son's death, he would have been a much more formidable opponent than Hillary. And, if his health is up to it, he'd be a more difficult opponent for Trump in 2020 than any of the other supposed candidates. But can the party of intersectionality go with a white male? Perhaps. Maybe the average Democratic voter doesn't care so much about all that nonsense contrasted to the elites in the party.

More bad news for Avenatti.
Left-wing attorney and potential 2020 presidential candidate Michael Avenatti is again facing accusations of unpaid debts, this time from the owner of the Washington state-based company Dillanos Coffee.

Avenatti owes Dillanos $110,000 and has refused to pay up, according to Dillanos founder and CEO David Morris.

Avenatti has repeatedly denied owing Dillanos anything, but bank records and other related documents Dillanos’ attorney provided to The Daily Caller News Foundation appear to undermine what Avenatti previously said about the dispute.
What a sleaze this guy is. Did he have any business arrangement that wasn't based on fraud or dishonesty?

Speaking of fraud by Democrats, the Senate Judiciary Committee has referred to the DOJ, the case of a woman who called and told the Senate Committee that Kavanaugh and a friend had raped her.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley on Friday referred a woman who'd accused Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh of raping her “several times” in the backseat of a car to the Justice Department for “materially false statements” and “obstruction.”

....Judy Munro-Leighton, according to Grassley’s office, “alleged that Justice Kavanaugh and a friend had raped her ‘several times each’ in the backseat of a car.”

Those accusations were made via a "Jane Doe" letter provided to Sen. Kamala Harris, a California Democrat and committee member, Grassley’s office wrote.

Upon further investigation, however, inconsistencies in the story emerged.

“Given her relatively unique name, Committee investigators were able to use open-source research to locate Ms. Munro-Leighton and determine that she: (1) is a left-wing activist; (2) is decades older than Judge Kavanaugh; and (3) lives in neither the Washington DC area nor California, but in Kentucky,” Grassley’s office wrote.

“Under questioning by Committee investigators, Ms. Munro-Leighton admitted, contrary to her prior claims, that she had not been sexually assaulted by ... Kavanaugh and was not the author of the original 'Jane Doe’ letter,” Grassley’s office wrote in a Friday referral to the DOJ.

“When directly asked by Committee investigators if she was, as she had claimed, the ‘Jane Doe’ from Oceanside California who had sent the letter to Senator Harris, she admitted: ‘No, no, no. I did that as a way to grab attention. I am not Jane Doe . . . but I did read Jane Doe’s letter. I read the transcript of the call to your Committee. . . . I saw it online. It was news.”

“In short, during the Committee’s time-sensitive investigation of allegations against Judge Kavanaugh, Ms. Munro-Leighton submitted a fabricated allegation, which diverted Committee resources. When questioned by Committee investigators she admitted it was false, a ‘ploy,’ and a ‘tactic,’” Grassley’s office wrote. “She was opposed to Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation.”
So this woman, in the midst of the highly charged Kavanaugh confirmation hearing, thought it would be okay to call the Senate Committee and outright lie to them to damage Kavanaugh's reputation.

When we hear stories like this of a woman just outright lying, think of what that does to the woman who have legitimately suffered sexual assault. And what happens to the mantra that we should believe all women? Every false accusation whether it's against Kavanaugh or some male college student ends up weakening the chances that real victims will be believed.

This is what happens when a conservative speaks up
on some college campuses today.
After penning an op-ed for The New York Times decrying the ideological homogeneity of his campus administration, a conservative-leaning professor at Sarah Lawrence College discovered intimidating messages—including demands that he quit his job—on the door of his office. The perpetrators had torn down the door's decorations, which had included pictures of the professor's family.

In the two weeks since the incident, Samuel Abrams, a tenured professor of politics at Sarah Lawrence, has repeatedly asked the college's president, Cristle Collins Judd, to condemn the perpetrators' actions and reiterate her support for free speech. But after sending a tepid campus-wide email that mentioned the importance of free expression, but mostly stressed her "commitment to diversity and inclusive excellence," Judd spoke with Abrams over the phone; according to him, she accused him of "attacking" members of the community.

"She said I had created a hostile work environment," Abrams said in an interview with Reason. "If [the op-ed] constitutes hate speech, then this is not a world that I want to be a part of."

What's more, when the two met in person, Judd implied that Abrams was on the market for a new job, he said.

"I am not on the job market," he said. "I am tenured, I live in New York. Why would I go on the job market?"

Abrams interpreted Judd's remarks as a suggestion that he might be better off leaving the school. Judd did not respond to a request for comment.

Abram's op-ed criticized the "politically lopsided" events hosted by the college's Office of Student Affairs, including seminars on microaggressions, understanding white privilege, and "staying woke." It also included original research: a nationally representative survey of 900 administrators. According to this data, liberal administrators outnumber conservatives 12 to 1. This would mean the ranks of the administration are even more uniformly liberal than the faculty.

"While considerable focus has been placed in recent decades on the impact of the ideological bent of college professors, when it comes to collegiate life—living in dorms, participating in extracurricular organizations—the ever growing ranks of administrators have the biggest influence on students and campus life across the country," wrote Abrams.

Many Sarah Lawrence students and alumni did not appreciate Abrams calling attention to this issue.

"There was an emergency student senate meeting, to my knowledge," said Abrams. It was his understanding that the meeting produced a declaration calling for him to be stripped of tenure and dismissed from the college. Judd sent a campus-wide email about the meeting, which she described as "not only thoughtful, but thought-provoking."

"The Senate asked me to publicly affirm that Black Lives Matter, that LBGT+ Lives matter, and that Women's Justice matters," wrote Judd in the email. "I emphatically did."

The student senate did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Abrams' office door was vandalized on October 16, hours after the op-ed's publication. The perpetrators posted a sign on the door that read, "Our right to exist is not 'ideological,' asshole," and was signed "transsexual fag." Another flyer demanded that he apologize to residence life staff and the director of campus diversity, students of color, queer students, trans students, and other marginalized persons. Multiple messages instructed Abrams to "quit," and one told him to "go teach somewhere else, maybe Charlottesville."
Well, he certainly nailed the reality of liberal school administrators, didn't he? If they had gotten together to brainstorm how to prove the points he was making and to exemplify their opposition to diversity of thought, they wouldn't have been able to do a better job.
This incident is an example of a concerning phenomenon: college administrators going soft on free speech in an effort to appease a handful of extremely aggressive students. Administrators should take greater care to avoid explicit ideological bias, and they must defend the free speech rights of professors who speak out against it. A college that attempts to muzzle, discourage, or rid itself of speech that offends the far left is failing its mission.
Yeah, that would be nice, but don't expect it any time soon. The inmates are in control of the asylum.

Awww, no candidate wants to be seen with Bill Clinton anymore.
As Democrats search for their identity in the Trump era, one aspect has become strikingly clear: Mr. Clinton is not part of it. Just days before the midterm elections, Mr. Clinton finds himself in a kind of political purgatory, unable to overcome past personal and policy choices now considered anathema within the rising liberal wing of his party.

The former president, once such a popular political draw that he was nicknamed his party’s “explainer-in-chief,” has only appeared at a handful of private fund-raisers to benefit midterm candidates, according to people close to him.
They like the money he can bring in, but they don't want voters to see them together. Suddenly, they've realized that his behavior toward women is just not something they want to be associated with. It did take them 20 years, however, so don't be impressed with their sensitivity.

But don't feel too sorry for him. He's still raking in the big bucks - something that he and Hillary have always been good at.
A certain gracefully aging man is earning millions from various media ventures. His most recent book, a thriller co-written with the publishing titan James Patterson, spent weeks atop the New York Times bestseller list over the summer. More than a million copies were sold in North America within two months. Showtime is set to turn the novel into a TV series. Soon, this famous man and his equally famous wife will embark on a 13-city tour across the country.

The eminence grise in question is, of course, former President Bill Clinton. And you might say he is on a roll, except for one nagging concern: He faces several credible allegations of sexual assault.
The LA Times even confronts the misconception that the allegations against Bill have been proven false. Not so.
Perhaps one reason the renewed scrutiny of 42 hasn’t gained more traction is that a large segment of the American public seems to be under the misconception that all the allegations against Clinton were long ago determined to be false.

Both he and Hillary Clinton have suggested as much. The former first lady, senator and secretary of state told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour that her husband survived an “intense, long-lasting, partisan investigation that was conducted in the ’90s.”

But the investigation led by Kenneth W. Starr focused on just one set of allegations: the sexual harassment lawsuit brought by former Arkansas state employee Paula Jones. And Starr was concerned primarily with whether Clinton had committed perjury and obstruction of justice in defending himself in that case.

Two other allegations were made public in the 1990s as a result of the Starr investigation and impeachment proceedings. Kathleen Willey, a former White House volunteer, went public in 1998 with her allegations that Clinton assaulted her in the Oval Office in 1993.

And Juanita Broaddrick, a former nursing home administrator, went public in 1999 accusing Clinton of raping her in a hotel room in 1978, when he was attorney general of Arkansas. (Though accounts of Broaddrick’s claims were initially reported in 1992, during Clinton’s first run for president, she was not identified at that time.)

But for the most part, Broaddrick’s and Willey’s allegations remained outside of Starr’s purview. Broaddrick appeared in the Starr report only as a footnote in an appendix, where she was referred to as “Jane Doe No. 5.”

A fourth accuser, Leslie Millwee, a former television reporter, came forward in 2016 saying Clinton assaulted her three times in 1980 during his first term as governor of Arkansas.

The news media has aired these four allegations repeatedly. There are a number of other allegations that never got much of a media airing. Peter Baker, in his impeachment saga “The Breach” relayed that additional unwelcome advances were described in Starr’s files.

Clinton has adamantly denied all the allegations. And no prominent Democrat has gone on the record calling for a reconsideration.

Politicians such as Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey and Sen. Mazie Hirono of Hawaii have complained that President Trump hasn’t faced repercussions for the allegations of sexual assault brought against him by at least 19 women.

How can Democrats expect Republicans to find the will to hold Trump accountable when Democratic leaders never pushed for a thorough consideration of the allegations against Clinton?

Trump has gotten plenty of mileage out of this double standard. It’s why he invited Broaddrick, Willey and Jones to sit in the audience during his second presidential debate with Hillary Clinton.
And remember that the President eventually settled with Jones for $850,000. So much for his proclamations of innocence.

This is what Israel has to deal with from Palestinians.
A suspicious object was found in the courtyard of a kindergarten in a community in the Eshkol Regional Council, which borders the Gaza Strip.

The kindergarten teacher, who found the object, moved the children to a safe place and then informed the community security officer.
Think of that. They deliberately set up explosives that would attract small children. That is so evil. I wonder all those self-righteous leftists who praise and defend the Palestinians and blame Israel for every death that happens in the region would say to this.