Tuesday, November 07, 2017

The Day that Trump Won

A year ago we woke up knowing that it was the day Hillary Clinton would become the first woman president. She had bragged more than a week before that she wasn't even thinking about Donald Trump anymore. Her campaign insisted that she'd run up enough of a lead in early voting in Florida to make it impossible for Trump to win that state.

But Florida went for Trump. So did Pennsylvania and several other states that Trump wasn't supposed to have a chance in. What happened?

For me, the election was s surprise but not a shock. I'd been watching the electoral vote carefully and I knew that Trump had a decent chance. All you had to do was make the assumption that the polling models favored Clinton. There were several states that "leaned Clinton" meaning that polls showed her ahead but within the margin of error. If you assumed that the turn-out would match the last two presidential elections then Clinton was ahead. But if you assumed that the minorities who turned out in record numbers for the first black candidate would not turn out for a rich, white woman who oozed entitlement then Trump would win. It was as simple as that.

Of course, the Democratic elite had no idea it was coming. They saw Trump as a clown who somehow managed to get on the ticket. They ignored the fact that he had already beaten the other political dynasty, the Bush family. Jeb was supposed to be the more accomplished version of George W. but Trump easily defeated him along with other governors and well-known senators.

After Clinton's loss in the 2008 primaries it was assumed that she would be Obama's successor. Her stint as Secretary of State was meant to flesh out her resume which was actually fairly weak (She had no real accomplishments in the Senate and she was the first woman to argue that being married to the President qualified her to replace him).

The primaries should have signaled the Democrats that Clinton was a weak candidate. Even with the DNC being under her control she had problems running against an ancient socialist who wasn't even a Democrat. She was well-known to the nation and at least half the population had a firmly-fixed dislike of her. To top it off, she spent all of her time courting minorities and ignoring the working-class whites who traditionally supported the Democrats.She also refuses to admit mistakes or take responsibility for her actions. This trait continues  as Clinton blames the Russians and the FBI for her loss rather than her own mistakes.

Every time she opens her mouth to deliver a rehearsed excuse I thank the voters that she's not our president.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Pro-Abortion Mind Game

A Harvard philosopher named Michael Sandel came up with a "thought exercise" to prove that we don't really believe that life begins at conception. It goes like this:

You are in a fertility clinic and there's a fire. On your way out you hear a noise and check in a room. You find a five year old child and a container marked "1,000 embryos". The fire and smoke are getting bad and you can only save one. Do you save the child or the container of embryos? Naturally you will save the child which means that you don't really believe the embryos are people which, in turn, means that you've been lying in order to contain control of women's bodies.

I cleaned it up a bit but that's what he says. You can see the whole thing laid out here if you really want along with a separate take-down.

So, does this thought exercise do what it claims to? Not really. It was contrived to make you choose the desired outcome. There are several reasons that the average person would choose the child. Here are some of them:

1) We don't handle abstracts well in a crisis. Most people wouldn't even stop to read the containers. They'd grab the child and run.

2) We are hard-wired to choose the concrete over the abstract. We see this constantly in movies and TV shows - someone is given a choice to save a hostage knowing that it could mean the death of many others. Given the choice between a live child and a container, people will choose the child, even if they know that the container represents more children. What's more, we don't actually know what the contents of the container are. Just because it has a label does not mean that it is currently full or even in use.

3) We know more than we are told. Anyone who knows how in-vitro fertilization works knows that we are already in squishy grounds. Only a fraction of the embryos will actually be successfully implanted so it is not a 1000 vs 1 choice. Most of these embryos will be discarded or die in failed implantations (which is why the whole process is morally squishy). The catholic Church debated allowing this process for this very reason.

4) This is an impossible situation. Embryos are not freeze-dried, ready to add water to reconstitute. They are kept frozen at near absolute zero. So the container in question would actually be a larger freezer. Disconnecting it would lead to the death of the embryos within minutes. To put this in perspective, let's take an alternate thought exercise. You are in a maternity ward and a fire breaks out. You see a five year old and two premature infants in incubators. Do you save the child or do you save the two infants, even knowing that they will die unless they can quickly be put back in incubators? And, if you choose the child does this mean that you do not think that the infants are actual people until they can breath unassisted?

It's one thing to propose a thought exercise to make people clarify and justify their reasoning. But that is not what Sandel did. He is playing a mind game to enforce his point of view. And he's not doing a very good job of it. He needed to propose it in neutral terms so that people's defenses were not raised. But he is really just performing for the people inside the bubble. He's not expecting anyone with dissenting views to really examine his exercise.

 

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Weinstein, Trump, Clinton and Thomas

The big news right now is that movie producer Harvey Weinstein has been preying on women for decades. The real news is that this was widely known within certain circles but suppressed. Even the story that finally broke the news was killed by NBC News and the reporter had to go elsewhere to get it published.

Weinstein is highly connected. He is a major donor to Democrats. He consulted Hillary Clinton's campaign and President Obama's daughter interned with his production company. Given all of the Hollywood connections the Clintons and Obamas have, it's hard to believe that no one took them aside and whispered a warning in their ear. The truth is that they probably didn't care until a string of flops meant that he was no longer as powerful. Newer revelations show that this may be the tip of an avalanche. Left-leaning Hollywood may be full of sexual predators and no one cared.

A year ago the big news was a 1990s hot mic tape catching Donald Trump bragging to Billy Bush that being rich and famous allowed him to touch women (through their clothing) and no one complained. While several women came forward after that to accuse Trump of improperly touching them, these accusations smelled of an opportunistic chance to derail the Trump campaign.

Going back 26 years, we have the confirmation hearings for Clarence Thomas. Thomas was on track to sail through the confirmation when Teddy Kennedy broke precedent and revealed secret testimony given to the FBI. Anita Hill, one of Thomas's former employees, claimed that Thomas had made inappropriate comments in her presence. There was a minor uproar over this, even though a large group of women who had worked with Thomas said that he'd never behaved in an inappropriate manner in their presence. Thomas was confirmed but female outrage made 1992 the "year of the woman" in elections.

In-between we have Bill Clinton who had multiple affairs including one in the White House and has been accused of violently raping two other women while president. When this news came out, conservatives wanted to know where was the outrage? Several feminist leaders answered that they didn't really care what Clinton did in his private life as long as he supported their agenda. The progressive organization MoveOn was founded to convince the county to "move on" after Clinton's impeachment.

The implication here is that the left only cares about sexual harassment (or worse) when it's to their advantage. They are willing to ignore abuse as long as the abusers support the right causes and as long as the victims stay quiet.

So, why is the left surprised that President Trump's supporters act the same way - ignoring Trump's personal indiscretions because they need him to undo the damage of the Obama presidency?

There's a larger issue here, one that the left will come to regret. You have to be consistent in how you apply standards or they cease to be meaningful. For the past few years the left has pushed the idea that free speech is an outdated concept. Eventually they will miss the protections they currently take for granted but threw away for short-term political gain.  

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Cold War III

We are in a conflict that I'm calling Cold War III. Before I explain it, I'll backtrack a bit to cover the first two cold wars.

The term "cold war" was invented to describe the conflict between the old guard of capitalist/democratic countries and the revolutionary communist/dictatorships typified by the USSR and, later, Red China. This was a war of ideologies although it did erupt into some shooting proxy wars. Viet Nam, Korea, The Seven Day War between Israel and it's neighbors, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and numerous conflicts in Africa and South America were all part of this ideological war. The United States was eventually declared the winner although Communist ideology is on the rise again.

While it's seldom called this, the Second Cold War is between militant Islam and the rest of the world. Again, this is a proxy war with Iran, Saudi Arabia and others financing extremist groups. Note that it is not necessary for one side to be cohesive. Iran and the Saudis are enemies just as Russia and Red China were. Militant Islam has not been as successful in controlling entire nations as communism was but it has managed to use asymmetrical warfare in the form of terrorist attacks to kill thousands in the US and Europe, something that never happened in the first Cold War.

So, what about the Third Cold War? This is a cold civil war. So far, few shots have been fired but there is conflict. Again, on one side is traditional America with it's capitalist/democratic system. The other side is sort of a hydra with many heads but all of its components share a single goal - to change America beyond recognition by attacking every possible institution. The terms "social justice" and "income inequality" are often used and most of these groups are explicitly against capitalism. A number of other fundamental American institutions are also under attack. Free speech is the most obvious. People at all levels on the left have declared that "hate speech" is not protected where "hate speech" is loosely defined as anything they disagree with. College students have equated having speakers they disagree with to physical pain in order to justify violent protests. Our legal system is threatened on college campuses where the presumption of innocence has been replaced by a presumption of guilt in rape complaints. While these actions take place outside of the legal system, they go on a student's permanent record and can make him unemployable for decades. Former Attorney General Eric Holder has suggested that the rules for evidence should also be changed in civil rights cases.

Rather than accept the results of the 2016 Presidential election, the Hydra came up with plan after plan for ways to alter the results. They are still hoping that somehow the investigation on Russian influence will expand far enough to find something to force Trump from office.

Virtually every aspect of American life is being challenged at some level, especially on campuses. Statues are being removed. Colleges are being renamed. This is not limited to Confederates. Abraham Lincoln, the Great Emancipator, is now offensive because of his Indian policies. Just a few years ago Democrats were pointing to Teddy Roosevelt's Progressive policies as a model for the Republican party. Now he's reviled as a colonialist.

Science itself is under attack. White males are over-represented among scientists and mathematicians so some feminists have condemned it as an artifact of the patriarchy.

Science says that there are two sexes determined by X and Y chromosomes but the Hydra says that there are multiple genders, as many as 32. And they want to make it punishable to use the wrong gender.

I'm calling this a war because of the way the Hydra acts. They use the language of war. They call themselves "The Resistance" and vow to resist President Trump and to fight the patriarchy. Once you start digging deeper into the demands of the different groups, Black Lives Matter, Antifa, Black Bloc, etc., you find that they are committed to ending capitalism.

Any attempts at reasonable compromise are simply treated as gained ground. An example was removing Confederate flags from state property. Rather than being accepted as a compromise, this was a beginning point where all Confederate flags were to be removed, even from toy soldiers and the Dukes of Hazard TV show suddenly because a symbol of white supremacy. This escalated into demands for removing statues of Confederate generals which moved on to grave memorials and statues unrelated to the Civil War.

There is also a total lack of remorse. After a BLM-inspired cop-killing in Texas, you might expect a bit of moderation. Instead they continues to call for more dead cops, even before the funeral. When one of their number attempted to assassinate Republican members of Congress, they took to social media to insist that the Republicans had brought it on themselves and probably deserved to be executed.  

So far it has stayed a low-level civil war but it has been marked by violence. Besides the attempt to assassinate congressional Republicans and several cop killings, they have also help several violent demonstrations and caused hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages.

I was looking for parallels and came up with one, the English Civil War. That was fought in the 1640s between the establishment led by King Charles and the Puritans. The King's side represented the establishment. The Puritans have several similarities to the modern Hydra. The Social Justus Warriors draw a lot of their support from campuses. The Puritans drew heavily from apprentices who were in the same age range. In fact, the term "Round Heads" given to the Puritan army came from the short-cropped hair that the apprentices wore. In addition to the apprentices, the Puritans drew a great deal of support from the urban centers while the rest of the countryside was for the King. Look at the 2016 election map by county and you see that the Democrats are all clustered in the cities.

After the end of the English Civil War, a number of veterans felt that the reforms instituted by the Puritan-controlled parliament did not go far enough. They wanted a complete leveling of society to eliminate the rich. They were known as Levellers (along with an even harder-line group called the Diggers). essentially, these were proto-marxists.

The Puritans' approach to religion was very similar to being "woke" today. You were not born to either. Both required an epiphany and there was always the chance that you were not truly converted so you were constantly searching your own conscience and that of those around you for any hints that you were not fully converted.

The English Civil War did not suddenly erupt. The tensions leading to it had been building for a generation or more. Similarly, I expect our current state to continue as a low-level civil war, although a Soros-funded Communist front group announced that the revolution will begin November 4th.

Some of the current hysteria will die down soon. Revolutionary chic is affecting the bottom line of some of the businesses that support it. The NFL and ESPN have seen a major drop in viewership and are reacting. The NFL is considering requiring players to stand for the national anthem and ESPN suspended one of their people who called for a boycott of NFL sponsors over the kneeling protests.

Others are seeing a hit in their bottom line but have not yet taken action. Marvel Comics (which, like ESPN is owned by Disney) has seen a major drop in sales since they replaced most of their long-time characters with women and minorities. Award show ratings are at a major low, probably due to the politics the winners and presenters bring to the show. Late night comics are all fighting over the anti-Trump audience but their ratings are a fraction of what Jay Leno was pulling just a few years ago. Colleges like Missouri and Evergreen which have seen well-publicized protests have had huge drops in enrollment.

Will this be enough? It's impossible to say at this point. The Hydra had a major set-back with the election of Donald Trump. Of all of the candidates, he was the least likely to try to compromise with them. But the next Democratic candidate will be well to the left of Hillary Clinton. The Democratic Party has also rid itself of any moderates and now insists on a rigid conformity to the far-left party line. If they win the next few elections then we will see an erosion of civil liberties that will make us nostalgic for President Obama's pen and phone.

But, it's hard to hold on to red-hot rage. Passions are cooling and people are accepting that the status-quo is not going to be overthrown. We went through some of this in the 1960s including calls for violent revolution but it all blew over after a few years.

Sunday, October 08, 2017

Columbus Day, NFL Protests and the Unraveling of American Society

Around two hundred years ago a group of influential Americans including Washington Irving decided that we, as a new nation, needed a set of American heroes distinct from the English ones we had inherited. They settled on three illustrious men without whom, America would not have existed: Christopher Columbus, George Washington and Ben Franklin. A few others were added into the mix. Longfellow elevated Paul Revere as well as three of his Pilgrim ancestors but Columbus Washington and Franklin were the big three. Washington and Franklin were well known but Columbus was a much more remote figure. Irving remedied this by writing a biography of Columbus but, despite having access to the largest collection of Columbus-related documents in the world (at that time), he invented most of his history. To Irving, the truth was not as important as having a figure worthy of admiration to unite the country.

Now, 200 years later, the semi-terrorist group Antifa has declared war on Columbus with plans to deface Columbus statues across the country because Columbus is a symbol of white supremacy. Again, the symbolism is more important than the history. This is part of a general campaign from the left to declare symbols of American history to be offensive. This began with the removal of Confederate flags from statehouse grounds because the racist killer Dylan Roof posed with a Confederate flag in some pictures he posted on social media. Things got a little crazy from there with gift shops removing plastic soldiers from gift shops because the gray ones carried a Confederate flag. It moved from that to protests over statues of Confederate generals and went into overdrive after a counter-protestor was killed in August. In the aftermath of that, nearly every statue of a white man has suddenly become suspect.

Then there are the protests at the NFL. This began with a single player refusing to stand for the National Anthem. A few other players followed his lead and more were kneeling during the anthem this year.

The original protest was over the perception that police kill a disproportionate number of blacks but since then it has expanded to include institutional racism, inequality and President Trump. Regardless, the message is that America isn't worth showing respect for. The result is that watching football is now a political action.

All of this is part of a long-term strategy to de-legitimize America. There is to be no shared space that unites us as Americans. Our heroes have been redefined as racists, our institutions have been politicized. Where Washington Irving and his companions tried to unite us, there is now a movement to separate us as much as possible. Some of this is planned, a lot of it is people who are simply following the example of politicizing everything.

Even national tragedies no longer join us. Hillary Clinton didn't wait for the bodies to be identified before tweeting out how we need gun control. When a Bernie supporter started shooting at Republican Congressmen at a basketball practice, the left used it to attack Republican policy.

There is no reasonable accommodation with this movement. It is meant to constantly push. And ground ceded simply becomes the new starting point for the next push.

So we have to hold our ground and continue to celebrate Columbus Day and stand for the National  Anthem.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Clueless Hillary

I've only read small excerpts from Hillary Clinton's book, "What Happened" but something popped out from two of those excerpts: Hillary is completely clueless about popular culture. She drops some references without realizing how backwards she got the reference.

"Crowds at Trump rallies called for my imprisonment more times than I can count," she wrote. "They shouted, 'Guilty! Guilty!' like the religious zealots in Game of Thrones chanting 'Shame! Shame!' while Cersei Lannister walked back to the Red Keep."

In Game of Thrones, Cersie Lannister is one of the least sympathetic characters. Early in the first book of the series a young boy catches her having sex with her twin brother so the two of them throw the boy out a high window. She indulges her sociopath son and is generally cruel herself. There are two reason that Hillary should never want her name associated with Cersie. The first is that Cersie's only claim to power was that she married the king. Does Hillary really want us to remember that she'd never have been taken seriously as a candidate if she hadn't been First Lady?

The second problem for Hillary is that Cersie was guilty. The crowd knew it. The viewers knew it. She was atoning for crimes that she really committed. How far should we take this analogy?

"Attempting to define reality is a core feature of authoritarianism," Mrs. Clinton writes. "This is what the Soviets did when they erased political dissidents from historical photos. This is what happens in George Orwell's classic novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, when a torturer holds up four fingers and delivers electric shocks until his prisoner sees five fingers as ordered.

"The goal is to make you question logic and reason and to sow mistrust towards exactly the people we need to rely on: our leaders, the press, experts who seek to guide public policy based on evidence, ourselves," she continues.


 1984 is a dystopian novel where an oppressive government controls every aspect of daily life. The populous is constantly monitored and people who do not believe what the government, the press, and the leaders tell them are arrested and tortured until they can no longer separate reality from government-directed propaganda - even when the government is constantly rewriting history. But Hillary's take-away from the novel is that we should trust in the people who, in the novel, are the fabricators.

Just how much chardonnay had Hillary been drinking when she came up with this stuff? And why didn't her ghost writers clean it up?

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Trump Saved Congressional Republicans From Themselves

In the (muted) furor over President Trump making a deal with the Congressional Democrats to make a three-month extension to the debt ceiling, people forget what the alternative would have been. Reportedly the Republicans were holding out for a long-term deal on the deficit and were willing to shut down government to get it. If they had done that the top story of the week would have been "Republicans shut down the government as hurricanes wreck multiple states and leave thousands homeless."

The Republicans would be portrayed as heartless. This would have followed them into the next election cycle. Instead, Trump got a deal for quick relief money and postponed the budget showdown until after hurricane season.

Yes, the Democrats are patting themselves on the back over how they got the better of the deal but if they really believe that then they are fooling themselves. They lost a huge public relations opportunity and got nothing of consequence in return.

The real losers are the Congressional Republican leaders who haven't figured out how to pick their battle.

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Disappointed with the Republicans

This should have been a banner year for Republicans. With control of the White House, both houses of Congress and a conservative majority on the Supreme Court, they should have had at least a few major victories by now. But they don't. All of the important work is being done by the executive branch. Granted, a lot of the executive overreach of the Obama years is best handled from the executive branch but we should have seen some progress by now.

"Repeal and replace Obamacare" was a battle cry for the Republicans since the day President Obama signed it. What the House passed was shoddy work and no one was willing to spend any political capitol pushing it. The Senate was even more hapless, unable to pass anything. The excuse was that they didn't expect Trump to win so their plans consisted of nothing more than another 4-8 years of symbolic votes.

They don't even seem to have had a workable plan involving subsidized high-risk pools filed away in a back room, just in case.

Corporate tax reform should have been a priority, too. We have the world's highest corporate tax rate but it's riddled with breaks that mainly benefit companies large enough to pay for lobbying. This puts smaller companies at a disadvantage and hurts the overall economy.

Immigration reform and border security should have been high on their to-do list. Those are issues that put Trump into the White House.

It appears that the Congressional Republicans prefer to keep their heads down and avoid doing anything controversial.

President Trump was correct in his actions this week. He made a deal with some Democrats to keep government funded for another three months while providing federal funding for hurricane relief. Trump signaled that he does not need the Republicans which is only fair since they have expressed a clear distaste for him.

The other action was the announcement that DACA, the program that allowed illegal immigrants who came here at a young age, will be phased out in six months. This program was the worst example of Obama's executive overreach. There was an excellent chance that it would not survive the Supreme Court. Simply eliminating it would put the onus on Trump, but by phasing it out, he gave the Republicans a chance to weigh in on it. If they pass a replacement then it will be legal. If they fail to then it is on them. 

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Why Identity Politics Are Immoral

These days the left in obsessed with Identity Politics - the idea that your identity as a person is mainly shaped by your race, gender, religion and sexual orientation. The Democrats have embraced this as their ticket to permanent majority status. But the most virulent strain of this is found in colleges. There are several problems with Identity Politics. These put them at odds with the very concept of what it means to be American.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. Martin Luther King jr.

Identity politics turns this on its head. Individuals no longer matter, only groups. Whites in general do better than most minorities therefore all whites have white privilege and all people of color are oppressed. It doesn't matter if the white in question is poor and stuck in a low-paying job or long-term employment or the person of color is a university employee making more in a year than most people make in a decade. The white has power and the POC does not.

This leads to inherited guilt. All whites are guilty of slavery, Jim Crow, etc. Even if none of your ancestors owned slaves, you are guilty.

The same is true about sexism. All men are part of the patriarchy and all women are oppressed by it. Look at the most vocal victim of sexism, Hillary Clinton. An outside observer might point out that she has enjoyed more power and influence than all but a handful of people and that despite a history of bad judgement and questionable ethics, she still came within a hairsbreadth of becoming president - something that only a half-dozen people in a country of 350 million can say. Still, she lost, not because she made terrible choices as a candidate, but because she's a woman.

Part of Identity Politics is the expectation that you will behave properly. Remember the outrage from the Left when white women failed to vote for Hillary?

And there's where Identity Politics clashes with the American ideal. We (or used to) pride ourselves as a nation of individuals. Now that is being beaten out of us. We are expected to act based on our identity rather than our convictions.

Identity Politics is inherently divisive. It teaches that you have to be true to your group and that you are not to think for yourself. It also has to have an "other". It teaches that everything is a zero-sum game. In order for women and people of color to rise, white men have to be dragged down.

Everything has to have a racial angle. When an eclipse crossed the nation for the first time in 99 years, one writer pointed out that it was mainly visible in white areas. Income inequality can be traced to single-parent families, poor education and other issues but it is usually blamed on racism and nothing useful is done.

Racism and sexism are assumed to be everywhere, but only practiced by white men. That's because the definitions have been changed to include group identity. Since white men, as a group, are the only ones with power, they are the only ones who can be racist or sexist. This is a convenient double standard that allows for a shocking amount of hatred against white men. Colleges across the country are offering classes on "eliminating whiteness" and the term "toxic masculinity" has become so common that I see it in movie reviews. No one thinks twice about this but imagine the reverse.

All of this has consequences. White nationalism is on the rise. This is nothing but more Identity Politics. It is inevitable that powerless young guys will side with the people who tell them that they are inherently superior.

It is very difficult to tell just how prevalent white supremacy actually is. The mid-August protest in Charlottesville was supposed to be the largest such gathering in a generation. Hard numbers are impossible to find. None of the major news services gave any estimates. The best I could come up with was that the white supremacist side had 200-300 people. I haven't seen any numbers about the counter-protest but previous events there had over 1,000 counter-protestors so it is safe to assume around 1,000. That means that the protestors were outnumbered between 3-1 to 5-1. I suspect that these numbers were suppressed by reporters sympathetic to the counter-protestors to give the impression of equal numbers. In addition, the protestors came from multiple states. The one who killed a woman by ramming a car was from Ohio. News reports said that most of the counter-protestors were from the general area, at most coming from Richmond and DC.

A week later, there were no white supremacists in Berkley but there were still thousands of counter protestors and the reports failed to make it clear that the original event was anti-communist and pro-free speech. That's another bit of reporting where the news services buried inconvenient details.

As the events of August showed, if allowed to continue, Identity Politics threaten to pull the nation into a cold civil war. As the rescue activities for Hurricane Harvey showed, we are not a nation of bigots and sexists. We are a nation of decent people who will help each other when not separated by artificial identities.

Friday, August 25, 2017

The "He followed me lie"

In her upcoming book, Hillary Clinton talks about her second debate with Donald Trump. She claims that he followed her around the stage and that he "literally breathing down [her] neck.".

I went back and watched the debate and took screen shots. Here's an example of Trump "looming over Clinton".



Except he wasn't . Here's a capture from a different angle.



This was not a single occurrence. She did it again and again. She would walk past Trump and address the audience while standing on his side of the stage.





​ 

​This went on for around the middle third of the debate. After the second time, Trump began standing behind his chair, eeding his space to Hillary.



The whole "looming over" thing was an artifact of camera angles and zoom lenses. The cameras were above the audience and they used zoom lenses for close-ups. You can see that in the pictures above. They were all taken from the same cameras. Zoom lenses distort distances and make things look closer than they are. Here's one of Hillary looking disapprovingly over Trump's shoulder.



She's not looming, partly because Trump is nearly a foot taller and partly because she was sitting. That brings up an interesting piece of body language. Trump never sat. He moved around constantly unless he was holding on to his chair or podium. He gave the impression of someone with a lot of energy. In contrast, Hillary sat whenever Trump was talking. Considering the issues about her health a month earlier, this may or may not be significant. Here's an example.



A few weeks ago I saw someone questioning Trump's fitness to serve on the basis of his health. He sits and ride golf carts a lot. This is a reminder that the choice was between two of the oldest individuals to run for the office and Clinton's health was an issue.

So, what to make of this? I can thing of three possible reasons why Clinton kept invading Trump's side of the stage. She may have just been moving closer to the person who asked the question. It was difficult to tell where the person was in the footage and the debate organizers may have clustered the people so that all of the questions during the middle came from Trump's side and all of them during the final third came from Clinton's side. Or she may have been addressing the camera directly since she was really playing to the TV audience.

The second possibility is that she was trying to rattle Trump. It was publicized before the second debate that Clinton had worked with psychologists for ways to anger Trump. Or she may have been trying to project dominance to the audience by invading Trump's space. She certainly got him to retreat. Rather than following her, he usually backed away.

The final possibility is that she was posing for the "disapproving man looming over a successful woman" meme. According to "Shattered" she rehearsed on a circular stage that President Obama lent to her. Was she practicing placing herself between the camera and Trump? Maybe. She managed to do it, even when she stayed on her own side of the stage.



Again, Trump was standing in front of his podium and Hillary left hers to stand in front of the camera.

Regardless of why Hillary moved around the stage the way that she did, it is clear that Trump was not following her and was never breathing down her neck. That's an outright lie.

If you want to be generous, you can attribute that to being a false memory. Possibly Hillary never went back and watched the debate so the photos that her campaign distributed of Trump "looming over her" replaced the actual memories of the event.

Or maybe she's just lying to sell her book.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

What Happened to Russia?

For over a year we've had countless stories in the news about Candidate/President Trump's ties to Russia in general and Putin in particular. Keith Olberman declared that we had a bloodless coup and that Russia now controls the US. Colbert made some comments that I won't even describe. The Washington Post's Daily 202 news summary had a daily section entitled "There's a bear in the woods" that recounted the newest developments in the Russian investigation.

More important, a special council was appointed to investigate the President's ties to Russia and Congress passed new sanctions against Russia for interfering with the election.

But the daily news on Russia suddenly went silent. What happened?

Certainly a part of it was the uproar over Confederate statues. That's drowned out a lot of other news. The terrorist attack in Spain was barely mentioned in order to give more time to stories about the protests. But that can't be all of it. There have been other big events but they never silenced the Russian story so completely.

I think that three things happened to quash the story. The first is members of the Trump campaign complaining, "Collude with the Russians? We couldn't even collude with ourselves!" For anyone who remembers who chaotic the Trump campaign was, this is a strong argument against collusion.

Next was a story that got very little attention: a low-ranking member of the Trump campaign said that he repeatedly tried to arrange for a meeting between Trump and the Russians to describe what relations would be like under Trump but there was no interest on either side. It's hard to reconcile this with a bloodless coup.

Finally, there's a report that received almost no coverage at all that the Russian "hack" never happened. This says that the DNC emails were copied to a thumb drive from within the DNC network The experts saying this say that header information in the files shows a transfer rate consistent with that and impossible to achieve with an overseas connection. This would explain why the DNC refused to allow the FBI to examine their servers.

So, has the story fallen apart so completely that no one wants to report on it? It's possible that, after investing so many resources on the story that the various media is reluctant to admit that there was never any story to begin with.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Punching Nazis?

The meme of the moment is that "It's ok to punch a Nazi". This is often accompanied with the cover of Captain America #1 punching Hitler or something similar. But there's the thing.

It's not World War II and you are not a comic book hero.

When people talk about punching a Nazi, they mean that they want to assault someone for holding views that they don't agree with. Yes, I know what the Nazis did in the 1930s and 1940s and yes, it's shocking to see Americans carrying Nazi symbols and praising Hitler. But that does not justify taking the law into your own hands and taking it upon yourself to punish the Nazi.

And who counts as a Nazi? Yes, it's easy to point to the idiots carrying swastikas but they don't carry them every day. Are you planning on hunting them down? Then will you go after Nazi sympathizers? A friend of mine was recently named in a Facebook posting as a Nazi-enabler for making the same points I'm making. This post called for violence against several people. I know other people who insist that anyone who didn't vote for Hillary Clinton is an Nazi-enabler. Where does this end?

Last weekend an engineer was fired from Google after sharing a complaint about Google's diversity programs. He was not against diversity but he did suggest that, possibly, women are less likely to be attracted to engineering as a career. He even backed this up with solid figures (although the links were all removed when his document was made public). After his firing he complained that he has been labeled a Nazi and received death threats.

This also seems to expect that the Nazis won't hit back. They will. Violence leads to more violence.

Monday, August 07, 2017

It's Time to Normalize Trump

The Democrats flipped out when Donal Trump won the election. The weeks between election night and inauguration day were full of plots and schemes to prevent Trump from taking office. When he did, people embedded in federal agencies vowed to "resist", using official twitter channels and leaks to embarrass the President. At the same time, celebrities vowed that they would never "normalize" Trump by treating him as a normal president. President Trump is unwelcome on late night talk shows. Hosts who fawned on Barack Obama now compete to see who can be the most anti-Trump.

The MSM has been particularly harsh, often framing events in an unflattering light then referring back to their interpretation instead of what actually happened. An example of this was Trump's first meeting with his full cabinet. He had each member introduce himself. Several, around half, thanked the President for the chance to server the country in their new role. This was reported as Trump calling his cabinet together and ordering them to praise him and is still being referred to as "bizarre" even though it is typical of such introductions.

Last week things went even further. The Washington Post published transcripts of President Trump's first phone calls to the presidents of Mexico and Australia. Although a few bits have been published, there has been little discussion of the main text - probably because it reflects well on Trump. But the content of the phone calls is not the point.

By publishing these transcripts, the Post has shown that it will do anything it can to harm Trump, even if it will cause long-term damage to the United States going beyond the Trump administration.

Every leader in the world now knows that he cannot count on his conversation with the President of the United States being kept confidential. This will hurt Trump for the rest of his presidency but there is no reason to believe that it will stop there.

Civilization can be a fragile thing. It depends on mutual acceptance of a set of rules of conduct. The "resistance" and the attempts to "de-normalize" Trump assume that these rules can be unilaterally ignored without repercussion. The Democrats made the same assumption when they controlled Congress, particularly the Senate. They exercised the "nuclear option" and did away with the filibuster on presidential Non-Supreme Court appointments. When the Republicans regained control there was a short debate about reinstating the old rules but the general feeling was that the Republicans should not be expected to play by a different set of rules than the Democrats. And, when President Trump nominated a well-qualified candidate to the Supreme Court, the nuclear option was extended to include those nominees as well.

If a Democrat wins the 202 election, then you can count on the Republicans de-normalizing that president the same way that the Democrats have treated Trump. The new rules have been set and it is ridiculous to assume that the Republicans will abode by the old rules.

That's why it is imperative for the left to back off and normalize Trump. They are the only ones who can defuse the current situation. They need to admit that they have gone too far and start according Trump the respect that they will expect to be given the next Democratic president.

That goes for the Republicans, too. They might disagree with Trump but they need to accept him for the good of the nation.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Racist Walking?

In a recent NYT column, a black man described his experiences with white women on the sidewalks.

There are many times in a day when a person is walking toward me and in my path. In these situations, we both generally make minor adjustments upon our approach. Sometimes, and especially with pedestrians who are black, as I am, there's eye contact or even a nod. Almost always, we shift our bodyweight or otherwise detour to make the pass easier for the other. Walking courteously doesn't take much, just soup├žons of spatial awareness, foresight and empathy. In seven years of living and walking here, I've found that most people walk courteously — but that white women, at least when I'm in their path, do not.

Sometimes they're buried in their phones. Other times, they're in pairs and groups, and in conversation. But often, they're looking ahead, through me, if not quite at me. When white women are in my path, they almost always continue straight, forcing me to one side without changing their course. This happens several times a day; and a couple of times a week, white women force me off the sidewalk completely. In these instances, when I'm standing in the street or in the dirt as a white woman strides past, broad-shouldered and blissful, I turn furious.

So white women are racist.

Or... maybe the author sees racism where it doesn't exist. He goes on to say that he asked other black men and one Asian man about it. The black men said that it had happened to them, the Asian man said that white women made way for him but white men didn't.

There's one group that was omitted from that small sample - white men. Being a white man, I'll take the liberty of offering an answer. Yes, it happens to us, too. I've had it happen several times.

I'm going out on a limb here but I'm going to take a wild guess that he didn't ask any white men because he didn't want to know the answer. He's part of a culture that ways that anything that he dislikes must be from racism. But it it happens to white men, too then that blows up his main point.

So, why would women refuse to recognize the men around her? Three years ago a video showed a woman walking through the streets of NYC and getting constant catcalls. Granted this was 10 hours of walking condensed down to a few minutes but it shows that even a woman who refuses to recognize the men around her gets hit on.

So, maybe, what the author saw as racism was a defense mechanism. But that draws all the wrong conclusions. It places the blame on men. Instead of being part of an oppressed group, he becomes one of the oppressor class. And what fun is that?



Friday, July 28, 2017

What Happened or What "Happened"

Hillary Clinton's new book on the 2016 election will be out September 12. It was just announced that the title will be "What Happened" and will feature Hillary letting her guard down.

The release date of the book is ironic because the date is the anniversary of when she lost the campaign. Two events - her "basket of deplorables" speeches coming to light and her collapse at the 9/11 memorial and subsequent conflicting stories about its cause stopped her campaign dead in its tracks.

Clinton has a long history of self-serving books. This one promises to be different but it also promises to connect the dots between Russia and Donald Trump. So, will it be an honest account of the Clinton campaign including all of the missteps at the top or will it be a justification for everything that Hillary did, full of conspiracy theories. Here's some things to watch for:

The email server. Nothing hurt Clinton's campaign more than her decision to use a private email server rather than the official one at the State Department. She has previously given questionable justification for that. Will she finally admit that she wanted total control over her correspondence, even if it meant making it less secure? In a related question, will she mention that her emails got onto the laptop of Anthony Weiner because her aid,Huma Abedin, was forwarding them to Weiner to print? Previously Hillary has blamed the FBI's reopening of the email investigation for her loss. Will she admit that there would have been no investigation without these decisions?

Her collapse and her health. Her collapse at the 9/11 memorial capped weeks of speculation about her health. Even after her collapse it took days before her campaign admitted that she was suffering from pneumonia. Until the news release went out, most of her staff had no idea that she was sick. How will she explain that? And how healthy is she really?

Russia Hackers released two troves of emails, the first from the DNC server and the second from one of her top campaign officials. There is evidence to indicate that Russian hackers were involved. There is a much weaker case that the Russian government was involved. Assuming that Putin was personally involved in this, he might have done it out of spite because he dislikes Hilary and feared that as president she would try to force him out of office. Will Hillary admit this or will she push the theory that Trump colluded with Putin in exchange for future favors?

Her campaign. The book Shattered paints a picture of a campaign in disarray with no clear lines of authority and an ever-expanding set of people at the top. Hillary herself became increasingly distant from the campaign, seldom meeting face to face and using speaker phone for important meetings. What will she have to say about this? What of the decision that it was too difficult and expensive to try to convert Trump supporters? Instead of trying to persuade Republicans, the Clinton campaign ran negative ads for months to try to suppress Trump voters and relied on get-out-the-vote efforts to reassemble the Obama coalition. Will she admit that this was her strategy and that it was a mistake?

Trump looming over her. During the second debate, Hillary executed a practiced move, leaving her seat and walking across the stage to position herself between a camera and Trump. Her press released a statement about how women have to face angry men "looming" over their shoulder and Hillary talked about how Trump was following her around the stage when he never left his seat. Will she admit what really happened or will she continue to talk about Trump looming over her? This is a small point but I already saw it mentioned in a Huffington Post article on Hillary's book.

In short, will Clinton admit to the many mistakes and missteps that she and her campaign made or will she use this new book to justify everything she did and place the blame everywhere else? Personally, I don't think that there's a chance in the world that Hillary will write an honest account of the election. She will justify every decision, skirt over the inconvenient parts and blame everyone but herself.

 

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

How to Condescend While Saying Not To

In a recent column in USA, card-carrying member of the resistance, Andrew Redlawsk suggests that liberal should listen and not condescend when talking with Trump Voters. He then manages to be amazingly condescending.

My typical response to conservatives who see me as a smug, elitist hypocrite for not being tolerant of their beliefs is that I'm "intolerant of intolerance," but I've realized that that mistake is the issue. No, we don't have to accept and respect others' bigotry or ignorance, but it's incredibly important that we understand where it comes from and why it exists.
With this sweeping statement, he tars everyone in the opposition as ignorant bigots.

The folks who voted for Trump are by and large people who see progressivism, and specifically concepts like political correctness and intersectionalism, as an attack on all of those deeply held feelings of what America "is." To them, our movement is an assault on their Field of Dreams. They're afraid of losing their (yes, white and Christian) America in the tidal wave of cultural shifts that have occurred over recent decades.

Is calling them racist going to change that? Is calling them bigots going to do it? Hateful? Monsters? Ignorant? Uneducated? Privileged? We don't have to agree with it, but we have to attempt to understand it.

And yet, he's already called us bigots.

The only way The Resistance succeeds is if we fundamentally change our tactics. We must realize that the way into these hearts is to respectfully suggest that the causes we fight for actually align with their deeply held patriotism and love for America. That yes, our marginalized communities may look different and speak a different language, but they want all the same things you do, and they want to have them in this incredible country we've built together. They also want to have their Field of Dreams. That's why they came here in the first place! And isn't it the American Way to do everything we can to give them that opportunity?

Actually, most progressives equate patriotism with nationalism and then lump it in with fascism. American flags are seen as micro-agressions. To progressives, America is a racist patriarchy. And he's still assuming that conservatives are anti-foreigner. He made the typical mistake of equating positions against illegal immigrants with being anti-foreigner.

But what this also means is that we as progressives need to stop getting so offended by everything and learn to put ourselves in others' shoes. All of our experiences — conservatives and progressives alike — give us unique perspectives, and it is absolutely unhelpful to say things like "it's not our job to teach you" when someone comes to us with questions.

Actually, it is our job.

This sounds good but he doesn't actually want to see things from a conservative point of view. He wants us to see things from his point of view. He wants to teach us the error of our ways.

To summarize: Progressives, stop insulting, stop shaming, and stop condescending. Start listening. Start teaching.

Good advice. Too bad he's not taking it.









Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The Left's Hamburger Problem

Business Insider has an observation on a big problem that the Democrats have - their judgementalism. The point is this is that most Americans agree with the Democrats on specific policies but are repelled by the constant judgement from the left.

The Business Insider article is approaching the subject from the left. I'll address it from the right.

The Obama years were very good for the left. They achieved their main goals, then, emboldened by their victories, they moved the goalposts. A lot. They also doubled down on their gains.

The LGBT alliance is an example. When Obama ran in 2008, he felt that he could not win if he supported gay marriage. Not long after his election and while gay marriage was still not recognized in several states, the left decided to use the power of the government to force a consensus. If a baker or photographer refused service because of religious convictions then that person was publicly pilloried and run out of business. The message was that this is the new order and no dissent will be allowed. Even people like me who have supported gay marriage since before it was fashionable were shocked by the vindictiveness of this.

The the LGBT lobby moved the goalposts some more. Trans rights came out of nowhere and suddenly became the law of the land. Not only are we to accept transsexuals but suddenly the whole concept of gender binary is being questioned. We're being scolded for announcing the sex of babies instead of letting them grow up as gender neutral beings until they can decide for themselves. We're even being scolded for "forcing" gender onto our pets.

This is a huge social leap and the left is totally unforgiving of anyone who was left behind. It's also moving ahead of science and anyone who questions this on medical grounds is browbeaten.

Then there's Intersectional feminism. This holds that our culture is inherently racists and sexist. Straight, white, cicgenered males are considered the worst of the lot. No one likes to be told that they are irredeemably racists/sexist/etc. Or that their race/sex/orientation/religion make their views irrelevant. This is a movement that eats itself. Just today black, queer protestors marched on the local Stonewall Union.

It's hard to get people to vote with you when you are telling them that they are terrible people. Just ask Hillary Clinton and her basket of deplorables.

The list goes on. The left is constantly worrying about global warming but, as the Business Insider points out, their remedies tend to match their lifestyle. This is particularly true of the rich elite who emit more carbon than a family of four in order to fly half-way around to world to preach carbon reduction.

The left holds a great deal of the country in contempt while counting on them for ever-further march to the left.

If they want to stop the hemorrhaging, the left needs to start being more tolerant.  

Monday, July 17, 2017

Trump Jr - three possibilities

Given the known facts about Donald Trump, Jr's meeting with a Russian attorney, I can think of three possibilities. I'll list them below but first I want to make a few observations.

First, the term "ties to the Kremlin" is kind of like "degrees of Kevin Bacon". Virtually every highly-placed person from Russia will have some sort of ties with the Kremlin. This is part of doing business. The lawyer also has ties to the group hired to do opposition research on Trump, Sr, for rival Republicans and later the DNC.

Simply trying to get background information, even information acquired by the Kremlin, is not unusual. The "Trump dossier" that was publicized shortly after Trump was inaugurated was supposed to contain KGB information and no one blinked an eye at the DNC being involved with that. No one was bothered by the DNC doing opposition research with the help of Estonia, either.

So, what are the possibilities?

1) The lawyer lied about having dirt on Hillary Clinton in order to get an appointment to talk about her pet cause, adoption of Russian children. This is Trump, Jr's story.

2) The lawyer made an agreement to release DNC emails in exchange for some concessions. That's a lot of negotiations in a single 20-minute meeting with no known follow-ups or face-to-face with Trump, Sr. Still, this is the story that the Left and the press believe. The closest to proof for this is that Grucifer 2 released the DNC emails shortly after the meeting.

3) The meeting was a set-up by the group doing opposition research on the Trumps in order to provide an excuse for the Obama administration to monitor the Trump campaign. The Lawyer claimed to have dirt on Clinton then changed to the adoption story once she'd gotten her meeting. As I mentioned before, the lawyer has as many ties to the opposition research group as to the Kremlin. Also, she was allowed into the country after her visa had been rejected. The timing of the requests to monitor the Trump campaign match this scenario as well as the release of the emails matches the second one.

Personally, I think the first one is the most likely. It fits the known events the best. The Left is grasping at any contact with anyone from Russia as proof of collusion. Some people on the Right are doing the same thing with the Obama administration's tapping of Trump communications.

My main point is that we don't know for certain what happened in the meeting. It's silly to insist that the second possibility is the only one and shows Trump Derangement Syndrome.


Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Trump jr and the Russians

Reading over the reactions to the news that Donald Trump jr took a meeting with a Russian lawyer who claimed to have information from the Russian government that would be damaging to Hillary Clinton, I'm struck by a couple of things that no one mentions:

1) At no time did the Trump campaign actually release any damaging information about the Clintons. Yes, emails from the DNC server and one of Clinton's campaign advisors that cast the Clinton campaign in a bad light were released but any link between these and this lawyer are highly tenuous. The lack of any real dirt matches Trump jr's assertion that the lawyer just used that as a pretext to get a meeting.

2) If it's illegal and possibly treasonous to take a meeting with someone offering information from the Russians then what about the Trump dossier - the one that supposedly contained information straight from the Kremlin? That was part of a paid opposition research project started under the Republicans and continued under the Democrats. How can it be illegal to meet with someone who is offering such information but perfectly alright to pay someone to gather such information directly from the Russians? No one said a peep about that when the contents of the dossier were released.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Will There Be a 2018 Wave Election?

Common wisdom in DC is that the days of the Republican congressional majority are numbered. The 2018 election will be a wave election that gives the Democrats control of both houses. I've written about this before on general terms but details are emerging warranting an update.

The case for a wave election is based on a few suppositions: Waves are inevitable, Changing American demographics favor the Democrats, The electorate wants more socialism, and The voters will be so repulsed by President Trump that they will turn on the Republicans.

Waves are Inevitable. Obama and Clinton both entered office with majorities but had wave elections in their first midterm that delivered both houses to the Republicans. George W Bush entered office with a majority but lost it in his second midterm election. Going back further, the Republicans too the Senate when Reagan won in 1980 but lost it in his second midterm. That makes it seem like Congress is up for grabs. A longer look tells a very different story.

Here's a chart showing which party controlled Congress since the founding of the Republican party.


 This tells a very different story. The Republicans controlled Congress most of the time from its founding until the Great Depression. The Democrats dominated Congress until the 1994 wave Since then the Republicans have controlled the House and the Senate has been split but slightly favoring the Republicans. This shows that wave elections do happen but are not as inevitable as the Democrats expect.

Changing American demographics favor the Democrats. Also known as Identity Politics, this is appealing to minority voters as a block. The percentage of straight, white voters is declining and the Democrats hope to pick up the minority vote by appealing to specific causes important to the minorities. The biggest push on this has involved illegal immigrants, a subject important to Hispanic leaders. Hillary Clinton's campaign strategy was to appeal to the Obama coalition while trying to discourage Trump supporters from voting. While this may be a viable long-term strategy, current demographics don't support it. Obama won by mobilizing a record minority turnout. Many of these people were not voting for Obama's policies (in fact, videos taken during the election showed that many voters had no idea what Obama's policies were). They voted for the first black candidate and the son of a sort-of immigrant, Even Obama's coalition weakened between his first election and his reelection and it fell apart completely when Obama was replaced by a rich white women. At the same time, the Democrats' identity politics drove away the white working-class that had been their backbone for decades.

Identity politics might be the wave of the future but the Democrats have to survive as a party until that future arrives.

The Democrats have another problem - the minority vote is highly concentrated. This is often chalked up to gerrymandering but it's also a voting rights issue. In order to maximize the number of minority candidates in Congress, the lines are drawn to make minority/majority districts. This is great for minority candidates but bad for the Democrats.

The electorate wants more socialism. In the wake of Bernie Sanders's campaign, many Democratic strategists have decided that they need to outright attack capitalism and propose sweeping socialist reforms. While most people see Obama as the furthest left president since LBJ or possible FDR, they see him as a disappointment. The loss of four special elections convinced them that the candidates should have campaigned further to the left and that this is the future for the party.

There are real problems with this approach. When the Democrats retook Congress in 2006, it was by recruiting moderate candidates to run in conservative states. These so-called Blue Dog Democrats were purged from the party as it drifted left and the last of them were defeated in the 2010 Republican wave. Hillary Clinton ran well to the left of her husband and lost the election.

Enthusiasm for socialism varies by state and the states that support it the most are already solidly Democrat. It doesn't do the party any good to win over more voters in California (as Hillary found when that state gave her the majority of the popular vote).

There's also the problem that socialism doesn't work. California is falling apart and other socialist pushes such as the $15/hour wage are failing as economic reality sets in.

The voters will be so repulsed by President Trump that they will turn on the Republicans. This one should seem familiar. A bit over a year ago the Democrats were convinced that Trump was so unpopular that he would pull his entire party down with him giving them total control of the government (after Clinton appointed a liberal justice to replace the conservative Scalia in the Supreme Court). We can see how well that worked out for them.

Trump might drag the party down eventually but it will be his policies that do it. Clinton and Obama pushed hard-left policies in their first terms and were punished for it at the polls. Bush's war in Iraq and the financial crisis dragged the Republicans down in 2010 and 2012. Trump's approval ratings are low but this is misleading. The people who voted against him really, really hate him while the people who voted for him are milder in their support. And the Democrats, particularly minority leader Nancy Pelosi, are just as unpopular.

The Democrats have also spent the last year denigrating anyone who voted for Trump. Last September it was Clinton's "basket of deplorables". After the election, memes were flying around social media condemning anyone who voted for Trump as a racist and sexist. People were demanding that any Trump supporters remove themselves from their feeds. Now the Democrats expect that same group of people to support them. This is not a winning message.

The truth of the election is that it is really out of the Democrats' hands. The election will be a referendum on the performance of Trump and the Republicans. The strength of the economy and the overall satisfaction on health care are big factors. Trump made several big promises. If he's seen as keeping them and presiding over a strong economy then the Democrats are in trouble. If a recession hits or Trump involves us in an unpopular war then they will make gains.

Even their resistance can hurt them. If things go well then they will be seen as hurting progress and the Republicans will run against their obstructionism.

The bottom line here is that the 2018 Democratic wave might not happen at all and there's little they can do to change things

Friday, July 07, 2017

Punching Down

After terrorists attacked the editorial offices of the Paris-based satire newspaper Charlie Hebdo, some on the Left implied that they deserved it for "punching down" instead of "punching up" meaning that they should only have satirized the powerful. That seemed offensive to me since the "powerless" that they were accused of attacking had guns and bombs and were willing to use them.

Keep that in mind when judging CNN's coverage of a short clip showing President Trump hitting someone with a CNN logo over his head. CNN issued this statement:

CNN is not publishing "HanA**holeSolo's" name because he is a private citizen who has issued an extensive statement of apology, showed his remorse by saying he has taken down all his offending posts, and because he said he is not going to repeat this ugly behavior on social media again. In addition, he said his statement could serve as an example to others not to do the same.
CNN reserves the right to publish his identity should any of that change.
After heavy criticism, CNN backed off a bit from this statement. Some people called it blackmail. While that is debatable, it is certainly an example of punching down. CNN knows that publicizing this person's name will cause him no end of problems up to and including threats on his life.

This person didn't do anything wrong. He made a silly clip. Apparently he's made others that CNN found offensive. But lots of people post things online that CNN would find offensive and they don't threaten to publicize any of those people. This person's main sin was that President Trump used his meme. Otherwise CNN would never have given him a second (pr possibly first) thought.

That they bothered digging into who made the clip in the first place was an inappropriate use of their time. It was punching down. Then they doubled down on it by threatening to ruin the guy's life if he didn't change his ways. A news organization should not make itself arbiter of someone's behavior.

CNN's staff has complained that they have received death threats. Considering the reactions from the left to the Charlie Hebdo attack, would they also condemn CNN for punching down or would they circle the wagons around one of their own?



Wednesday, July 05, 2017

A Muslim Comes to Minnesota - and Projects

The Washington Post had an article about a Muslim doctor who moved to rural Minnesota. Things started out great but they took a nosedive with the election.

There's a take-down of the article here on Power Line but there are a lot of aspects that they missed.

Dr. Ayaz Virji, a doctor in internal medicine moved to Dawson, Minn. along with his wife, Musarrat, and children. He was given a warm welcome and felt perfectly comfortable in his new home. The butchers even learned how to do halal meat.

Then came the election. Donald Trump carried Dawson by 6 points. Virji was in a rage over Trump's win and began noticing that the people around him seemed to be avoiding him.

He gave a couple of talks on Islam. The first was well-attended and politely received. The second attracted fewer people and was attended by some bible-bearing hecklers. The Washington Post's reporter attended a 3rd talk. Here are a few quotes:

He glanced at his outline and made the point that of course ­Islam has its zealots, and he condemns them.

"But that's not what we're talking about," he said. "Because if you say, 'That's Islam,' then that's like me saying, 'Well, Christianity is David Kor­esh,' " he said, referring to the cult leader.

[...]

"So Islam is not what you see on TV, okay?" he said. "I know Fox News. It's not news. It's the WWF, okay? Don't use them as my spokesperson. When you say, 'These people are animals and we have to blow them up,' don't say, 'This is Islam.' It's not. And 99.9 percent of us will agree we need to condemn these people and it hurts us even more because they're saying that God said this? Muhammad said this? Never in a million years."

[...]

He began pacing a bit. People were listening.

"Do you guys know who the LRA is?" he said, referring to the Lord's Resistance Army, the cultish Ugandan rebel group blamed for the deaths of more than 100,000 people. "How many of you knew about that? I want you to raise your hands."

Two hands went up.

"How come you don't know about that?" Ayaz said.

[...]

He began talking about Trump's former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, who had referred to Islam as a "vicious cancer."

"There are 1.6 billion Muslims in the world! Now, according to General Flynn, we have to purge them? 'We have to purge the world of Islam!'" he said in a mocking voice.

[...]

He was far off his outline now.

"You can sense I'm angry about that," he said. "Wasn't Jesus angry when he went into the temple and knoc ked over the tables of the money changers? He was angry. Injustice should make us angry! Okay? I am angry about the election. Because there is injustice there, and I have felt that within my family. And with the burning of mosques? And something like 150 bomb threats to Jewish synagogues? We should think."
You can tell a lot about VIrji from these excerpts, but probably not what the WaPo reporter expects.

General Flynn did not call for eliminating Islam, he called for eliminating Islamists - the same radicals that Virji had already condemned.

The mosque burnings were not the product of hostile right-wingers. The bomb threats were from an Israeli and a liberal.

I looked up the Lord's Resistance Army. It is part of a civil war in Uganda. While it had a peak strength of as many as 3,000 ten years ago, it is currently rated as having been reduced to 100 members. Compare that with ISIS which had a peek strength of 50,000-200,000 and Al-Qeada with 72,000,92,000.

The KKK hasn't had any real power or support since the 1960s and has a membership somewhere in the 3,000-6,000 range (down from 6 million in the 1920s). The KKK was never a religious organization, either. It was purely an instrument of oppression.

So here's the thing: Dr. Virji repeats a lot of bad information while railing at Fox News for giving misinformation. He believes everything bad he hears about Donald Trump and his associates then projects his anger onto the townspeople around him. He is also overly defensive about Islam. The Lord's Resistance Army is in no way comparable to the Muslim terrorist groups, being both smaller and limited to Uganda. Americans haven't heard of it because it is one of thousands of militant groups that have never affected Americans. Dr. Virji knly knows about it because he went looking for militant Christian groups. The only reason for mentioning it and the KKK is a childish "you guys do it, too".

It's telling that Dr. Virji said that people started being distant to him after the election. What changed? The implication is that Trump's election was a signal to start avoiding Muslims but it is very possible that Dr. Virji himself was driving people away. The day after the election he shouted at the hospital staff. And he took the election personally. He cannot believe that the people around him could have had any valid reasons for voting for Trump. He sees the election as a direct insult.

"I think some people are coming from Dawson to be supportive," she offered.

"I know a way they could be supportive," he said, thinking once again of the vote.

"Maybe they are sorry," Musarrat said.

"Would be nice if they said it," Ayaz said. "I don't think they regret it."

So he wants the people of Dawson to apologize directly to him for their vote for president. And, by the way, he seems to be lumping in the 44% who voted for Clinton with the 56% who voted for Trump. Trump won the state so everyone is at fault.

The article implies that the town of Dawson became less accepting after the election but I have an alternate explanation. I suspect that it's a combination of Dr. Virji seeing slights where they don't exist and him driving people away. I'd certainly keep my distance from him after the angry rants the article described. How often has he told the people around him that they betrayed him and that he should quit his job and move? The article quotes him saying that twice.

The Washington Post reporter meant to show how a small town in America become less welcoming to a Muslim in the wake of the election but it really showed how the Muslim in question relies on questionable news sources to feed his sense of outrage then he projects that outrage against people who have done nothing to deserve it. And the Post is so caught up in their anti-Trump narrative that they don't see it themselves.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Trump Tweets and the World Goes Crazy

President Trump put out a recent tweet about Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski. It was a little strange because he referred to Mika bleeding from a recent face-lift. This didn't come out of the blue. The pair regularly attack Trump. For those of us who don't use Twitter, this was a non-story. It had nothing to do with policy and Trump using Twitter to push back against his opponents is nothing new.

You'd never know how unimportant this actually is from the reaction in the press. They went crazy. It was the lead story on NBC Nightly News (or possibly NBC Nitely News depending on the ratings). Other media told us how this is an attack on all women (apparently only women have "work" done and we are supposed to pretend that it never happens). Mika herself called it "unhinged".

So why the disproportionate response? Didn't anything important happen in the world?

There are a couple of possibilities and they don't reflect well on news organizations.

There's the mercenary explanation. A lot of viewers are looking for reasons to be outraged at Trump. If he hasn't done anything of substance recently then the news media has to elevate trivialities in order to feed this demand.

The other possibility is that the newsrooms are actively working against Trump. To use the terminology of the Left, leading with a story like this "denormalizes" the President. It "others" him. It also drowns out any messages that the White House is trying to push.

One thing that's certain, the newsrooms are so packed with people who hate Trump that no one in authority bothers to step in and question why this deserves major coverage. There is a double standard here. Trump uses inflammatory language more often than President Obama did but Obama did make some harsh and unfair statements at times. These were either ignored or given fawning coverage. No one led with the story that Obama called the Republicans "hostage takers" or that he called their budget a "stink-burger". Obama's monologue at the Press Club Dinner was outright mean without a hint of the self-deprecating humor that other presidents used but no one ever called him on that.

The big question for any top news story - "How does this affect me?" went unanswered in the story about Trump's tweet. The answer is that it had no effect on anyone except for giving a momentary bit of publicity to an anti-Trump morning show. That's a poor excuse for a lead story.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Fake News, Washington Post 202 edition

The Washington Post sends out a daily summary called the Daily 202 (the name comes from Washington DC's area code). One daily feature is the "There's a bear in the woods" part which gives a daily update on any possible Russian ties. This ties in with the recent Project Veritas video in which a CNN producer admits that they have been giving constant coverage to the Russian story even though they don't think there's anything to it.

The Daily 202 coverage is anti-Trump in general which is to be expected from the Washington Post which is in a race to the bottom with the New York Times. Still, this one section caught my eye today.

Yes, it is absolutely true that Democratic leaders worked out many health-care hiccups behind closed doors to pass Obamacare in 2009. But they made full use of the committee process. Fact Checker Glenn Kessler has written a detailed history of how the ACA came together: "In the Senate, for instance, the drafting of a health-care bill in the Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee took from June 17 to July 14, during which 500 amendments were made. In the Finance Committee, which drafted its version between Sept. 22 and Oct. 2, there were 564 proposed amendments. Sen. Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine) even voted for the Senate Finance version. … During the private talks, (Harry) Reid agreed to remove a public option in the bill, as well as drop a plan to allow people between the ages of 55 and 65 to buy into Medicare. There was also a significant change in abortion coverage."

Reading this, you would think that the Democrats had been a model of transparency. The quote from the Glenn Kessler column is accurate but Kessler goes on to say that the whole process was a sham. The real bill was being negotiated in secret. Just before Christmas the real bill was released and the one negotiated in public was tossed in the trash bin. By selectively quoting Kessler's column, the Daily 202 represented what actually happened in a manner at odds with the column's conclusion.

In other words, this is fake news.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The Obamacare Debate We Need

Right now the choices being presented to us are Obamacare or a Republican substitute. But this debate leaves out an important fact - Obamacare is failing and has to be changed. Here are some facts that Obamacare's supporters don't like to admit:

Enrollment is way below projections. Obamacare's supporters love to tell us how many more people are insured than before Obamacare passed. They never mention that projected enrollement in the exchanges is way behind projections. Worse, the shortage is in the healthy young people who are supposed to be subsidizing health care for everyone else.

The exchanges are losing money. Insurance companies keep raising rates or pulling out of states entirely because their projections show that they will never break even, to say nothing of making a profit. That's because of the missing healthy people.

It was never fully implemented. The individual portion of Obamacare was implemented but President Obama put the employer mandate on hold for years. Chances are that it will never be implemented.

It represents a tremendous expansion of executive power. Many laws have clauses in them that give the President and the relevant government departments wide latitude in how the law is enforced. Obamacare is fairly limited. Obama seems to have used the maxim about it being better to ask for forgiveness than permission. With no legal authority, he created the national exchanges, delayed implementation of parts of it and diverted money into a profit sharing fund in order to offset insurance company losses. The national exchange survived a court challenge but it's unclear of Obama's other executive actions would.

The "uncertainty" in the markets came from profit sharing fund. Every time an insurance company pulls out of a state, they cite "uncertainty". They are referring to the uncertain future of the profit sharing fund. This was originally set up to create level results for the participating insurance companies. Ones that made too much would pay into the fund which would then be paid to companies that lost money. The problem is that there were never any profits to share. Obama simply diverted money from elsewhere and used this fund to subsidize the insurance company losses. Had Hillary Clinton won the election, this practice would have continued until the courts ruled on it's legality. But the Trump administration announced that it will not defend this practice. So the insurance companies will lose the subsidy that made the exchanges tolerable. There is a decent chance that the courts would have ruled against this practice anyway.

So, when you hear supporters of Obamacare saying that President Trump is ruining Obamacare, that's what they are talking about. He ended an executive overreach.

None of this is secret. The Democrats and news organizations have known about it all along. They know perfectly well that Obamacare would have needed a major overhaul even if Hillary Clinton was in the White House. But none of them want to say this in public because the next questions would be about how to fix Obamacare.

Friday, June 16, 2017

The Alexandria Shooting and the Left

It is very disheartening to see the reactions from the left to the attempt by a gunman to kill several members of Congress during a baseball practice. The Left has been involved in ever-escalating acts of violence but none of the reactions admit this. Instead they blame everyone but themselves. Here are some of the alleged excuses.

Guns. Yes, the attacker used guns. But would he have simply given up and stayed in Illinois if he hadn't had access to guns? While he had a violent past he had never done anything that would have triggered any of the "common sense gun laws" we keep hearing about. There are at least 9 million "assault rifles" in America but they kill fewer people than knives. Regardless, I'm seeing people quoting statistics for all gun deaths, including suicides (which is always included to triple the body count).

Even without guns, the attacker still wanted to kill Republicans. He could have driven his van into people just as terrorists in Europe have been doing.

Republicans. They were against gun legislation so "the reaped what thew sowed". Seriously, a friend said that on Facebook. He later denied that he was victim-blaming which means he doesn't understand the term. Regardless, the idea here is that, because Republicans didn't support legislation that would not have stopped this attack, they deserved to be targeted.

Scalise. He was a bad person and deserved it. This is because he once gave a speech at an event organized by a group associated with David Duke (Scalise has since apologized for it). The shooter was not trying to assassinate Scalise. He was shooting at Republicans in general. Four people were shot and two others injured trying to get out of the way. Plus there were children present.

Trump. Because everything bad is Trump's fault. Two clips from the campaign are taken out of context to "prove" that Trump inspired a new level of violence in the country. Context is missing. The two clips were in response to protestors trying to disrupt Trump Rallies. There are general excuses that Trump caused violence to increase because he a racist, etc.

What they ignore. While it's possible to point to a few isolated examples of violent rhetoric from the Right, the Left has been engaging in it for years. The Democrats embraced Black Lives Matters even as they called for "more dead cops". Antifa protestors have trashed cities regularly in the name of resisting Trump. Conservative speakers have been run off of campus through the threat of violence and occasionally through actual violence.

Hillary Clinton is part of The Resistance (a name inspired by the anti-Nazi French Underground in WWII). She has also claimed that the Russians cost her the elections. Numerous Democrats have gone further, claiming that Trump colluded with the Russians. Former MSNBC-host Keith Olbermann claims that we have had a bloodless coup and has called on foreign powers to step in and save us from Trump. Democratic members of Congress have suggested that they should have waited to confirm Trump's Supreme Court nominee until the investigation into Russia was complete (which could take years). Every law and executive order that Trump signs is put in the worst possible light.

Given this backdrop, it's no wonder that someone from the far left with a tendency to violence would decide to take matters into his own hands.

But it would take a major piece of introspection for the Left to recognize how violent and unhinged it has become. It would also be self-defeating. Advocacy groups are raking in cash by whipng up anti-Trump hysteria.

Note: one thing missing from the blame-Trump argument is the "Trump Effect', a wave of Trump-inspired violence against women and minorities that swept the nation. I think this was a deliberate omission. The Trump Effect never happened. All of the highly-publicized events were false reports. Either nothing happened at all or someone on the left committed a hate crime so the the Right would be blamed. No one on the Left wants this inconvenient fact brought up so they stayed silent about it.


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