Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Politifact Disgraces Itself

A week ago the fact-checking web site, Politifact, investigated President Obama's statement:

The problem is some gun sellers have been operating under a different set of rules. A violent felon can buy the exact same weapon over the Internet with no background check, no questions asked.
This is outright wrong. While it is possible to order a gun over the Internet, it is not delivered to you. It is delivered to a licensed gun dealer who does the background check that the President insists on. But, rather than give this the Pants-on-fire rating it deserves, they labeled it Mostly-true.

How did they come up with this rating? By using a very fluid definition of buying something over the Internet. As Politifact points out. it is possible to use a web site to find a private individual who has a gun the same as or similar to what you want to buy. But, these web sites do not let you order guns. They let you send a messages back and forth. In order to actually get your hands on a gun, the seller has to transfer it through a gun dealer (with background checks) or you have to arrange to meet the seller in person and buy the gun from him that way. To call this "buying a gun over the Internet" is ridiculous. If I buy something from Amazon, I expect it to be delivered to my house instead of my having to meet someone in a parking lot. It was completely misleading of President Obama to call that buying over the Internet and for Politifact to accept it.

The Washington Post fact-checker agreed with the majority of people and gave the President's statement two Pinocchios

Politifact was founded to be a non-partisan fact-checking site but rulings like these throw all of their other rulings into doubt, especially since many people look at the list of claims and ratings rather than the full reasoning behind the ratings.

I have been following Politifact for a long time and often (but not this time) they do a thorough and even-handed job of researching a question only to have the panel that awards the rating stretch a point in order to give it a left-slant.

Friday, January 08, 2016

Bill Clinton Then and Now

To really understand why the accusations against Bill Clinton you need to understand the history of abortion politics. Abortion was allowed by the Supreme Court in 1973 with the Roe v Wade case. That spawned a strong anti-abortion movement in the 1980s and a pro-abortion response by feminists. This was highly polarizing with feminists aligning with the Democrats and being anti-abortion becoming a litmus test for Democrats. The assumption on the Left was that the Republicans would try to reverse Roe v Wade by appointing a majority of justices who would support reversing it.

Actually, abortion was never as high a priority for Presidents Reagan and Bush (41) as the feminists thought but, because of pressure from feminists, no nominee for Supreme Court who was anti-abortion could hope to be confirmed. This was especially true under Bush. The only way he could get a justice confirmed was by nominating so-called stealth candidates. These were people who were qualified but had not been sitting judges with a history of opinions.

One of these was Clarence Thomas who spent most of his career as an administrator instead of a jurist. He was also difficult to object to because of his biography. He rose from poverty. Feminists were frantic to stop him so the Democrats took an unusual step. Senator Edward Kennedy announced that allegations had been made that disqualified Thomas. This was a serious breech of protocol since the person making the allegations, Anita Hill, had been promised anonymity. In an unprecedented step, Hill gave testimony to the entire Senate (and the televised audience) that Thomas had sexually harassed her by making lewd jokes and describing X-rated movies he had seen. Thomas himself gave counter-testimony, describing the incident as a high-tech lynching. He was confirmed but the entire nation changed its standards on sexual harassment. Democrats and feminists used the incident to mobilize women voters.

Enter Bill Clinton. During his initial campaign it came out that he had had a number of affairs. Things were so bad that when a former Miss America said that she had sex with Clinton, his supporters sighed in relief. At least she was attractive.

Hillary was instrumental in enabling Bill. He had a team of detectives and spin-artists assigned to tamp down "bimbo eruptions". She also went on TV and said that if she was willing to forgive Bill then it was no business of the rest of the country. Hillary's damage control was good enough that rumors that Bill had raped two women never became public knowledge.

Years later, one woman sued Bill, claiming that she had been escorted into his office as governor and he met her with his pants down, obviously expecting oral sex. Depositions from this case led to other women including a young intern named Monica Lewinsky who had an affair with Clinton over several months. In a deposition for the case, Clinton swore that he had not had sex with Monica. This eventually led to his impeachment - not that he'd had sex with an intern but that he lied about it under oath in a sexual harassment case where his sexual history was relevant. Clinton was tried by the Senate which voted against removing him from office.

Along the way, Republicans asked feminists where their outrage was? If telling a female subordinate disqualified someone from the Supreme Court then why didn't they push for the removal of Clinton for doing far worse. The answer was that the flap about Thomas had been faux-outrage for political gain. The feminists saw Clinton as the man who kept abortion legal and they didn't care what he did to women personally. One leader said that she'd get down on her kneJmpes herself and give him a blow-job for keeping abortion legal.

Jump forward a decade and a half and we have a batch of youth voters who had no idea what Bill's history was with women or Hillary's role was in enabling him. At the same time, the current push by feminists has been against "rape culture" in which privileged whites get away with rape. A double standard was possible with Clarance Thomas and Bill Clinton because years separated these incidents but the push against rape and sexual assault is ongoing. It was part of President Obama's 2015 State of the Union Address. Charges against Bill Cosby are headline news.

Feminists long ago gt over being grateful to Bill. Now they are deciding who to support and they are not going to spend political capitol on someone who left office in 2001.

Hillary has been trying to run as a woman's champion but much of this rings false. Did she really try to enlist in the Marines right after she moved to Georgia to marry Bill? And if she did, did she tell them that she was a highly-qualified lawyer? Did she really get a letter from NASA in the 1960s saying that they didn't want women (the only such surviving letters have a very different tone). Hillary's own history is one of trampling women who got in her way by sleeping with her husband then admitting it in public. This is at odds with a champion of women's rights.

All of this came up because Hillary attacked Donald Trump. Trump may have cheated on his wives but no one has accused him of rape or sexual imposition. Hillary tolerated both from her husband which gives Trump the perfect defense.

Thursday, January 07, 2016

Obama's Puny Legacy

Here's a prediction, in his final State of the Union address next week, President Obama will name these three things as major accomplishments: His treaty with Iran, the Paris Accords on Global Warming and his executive order on gun control. Ironically, none of these represent an actual accomplishment.

In reverse order, the executive orders on gun control mainly muddy the water on who is and who is not a gun dealer in the hope that more casual dealers will get licenses and perform background checks. This is unlikely to stop a single mass shooting since none of the previous shootings would have been stopped by background checks.

The Paris Accords set goals with no enforcement. It was a feel-good conference and will not cause any real changes.

The original goal of the treaty with Iran was to stop them from obtaining nuclear weapons. The final treaty does the exact opposite. It allows them to create nuclear weapons and obligates us to do nothing. Iran can leave the treaty at any time and has already threatened to if we take any action on their missile program. Snapping back the sanctions is a myth.

So, President Obama's big accomplishments are all paper triumphs.