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.


.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Violence and Opportunism from the Left

On June 14th, a gunman opened fire on a group of Republican congressmen practicing for the annual baseball game with the Democrats. Initial reports indicate that the shooter was a Bernie Sanders supporter and had verified that it was Republicans on the field before opening fire. Further reports say that while he was from Illinois, he'd been living in Alexandria in his van since March.

I'm going to speculate a bit about his motives. The shooter's social media groups included one called "Eliminate Republicans" and he seems to have taken this seriously. It's possible that he moved to Alexandria specifically to kill President Trump and settled for shooting at congressmen after being unable to get near enough to harm the President. But, as I said, that's speculation.

What we know for sure is that this was an act of violence against the Republicans. When Gabby Giffords was shot six years ago, the Right was immediately blamed for including coded messages that their agents would understand. The Left backed off of this a bit after it came out that the Giffords shooter was an incoherent leftist who was obsessed with language purity. Nevertheless, I still see references to that shooting as Republican-inspired.

There have been no coded messages since the election of President Trump. The Left has been very straightforward with calls for violence. These range from images of Trump being assassinated (Snoop Dog killing Trump in a video, Kathy Griffin holding Trump's bloody head, Shakespeare in the Park killing Trump nightly as Julius Caesar) to memes saying that "it's OK to punch a fascist".

Once you've decided that an act of violence is proper, it can easily escalate from punching fascists to shooting Republicans.

The Left needs to take a deep breath, calm down, and stop obsessing over President Trump. They also need to start condemning the violence coming from within their side. This includes a lot of campus protests and the black-clad antifas. And they need to remember that unprovoked violence is never appropriate no matter how distasteful you find someone's views.

So far this is not happening. I've seen very few posts on social media calling for less rancor. Instead I've seen people suggest that the congressmen who were shot had it coming for opposing gun control or simply that the Republican Whip who was hurt the most deserved it for being a poor human being. This only makes things worse. It excuses the shooting.

Trying to tie this to gun control is inexcusable. While it is still early, nothing has surfaced to show that the shooter would have been failed a background check. Yes, he did have a semi-automatic rifle but kiives kill more people than all types of rifles. The gunman also had a handgun.

But this is the worst type of opportunism. The important thing her is the will to commit violence. Millions of people own rifles but only a handful are used to kill or injure. Simply having a gun does not make you want to kill members of a political party. It's the toxic rhetoric that does that.

Recent attacks including the one in London just last week show that it is the will to harm that is important. Islamic terrorists have gone from using guns to using vehicles and knives. Taking away the Alexandria attacker's guns would not remove his will to harm. He had a van. He could have as easily used it.

Currently almost all of the violence is coming from the Left. This is in contrast to the Tea Party rallies of the Obama era when protestors made it a point of pride that they never caused any property destruction. Instead of giving a wink and a nod to the violence, the Left needs to make it clear that this is unacceptable.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Is it possible to tell how President Trump is doing?

President Trump was inaugurated nearly six months ago. How good a job is he doing? I can't tell. News coverage is beyond biased. The newsrooms are filled with people who hate Trump. Many of them see themselves as part of the Resistance and use this to justify suspending even the appearance of balanced reporting. Others simply get caught up in whatever the day's distraction is. This is in contrast to President Obama who could do no wrong in the eyes of the press.

Here are a few examples. The Philippians are an important ally and partner in the fight against Islamic terrorism but the current Philippine president is known for his brutal treatment of drug dealers. When Trump made it clear that he would not push for civil rights reforms in the Philippians, the press ran multiple stories and editorials condemning Trump. But Cuba is also a major violator of human rights. Not a word was said about this when Obama opened relations with Cuba, not even when the Castro regime had a major crackdown and made things worse after Obama opened relations. Instead the press swooned at the thoughts of seeing classic cars in Havana and Cuban baseball.

Trump negotiated a major arms deal with Saudi Arabia. This was to balance the region after Obama's promotion of Iran as a regional power. There seems to have been a side-deal that the Saudis would stop turnign a blind eye to the financial support of terrorism. As part of that, several Arab countries cut relations with Yemen. All of that seems like a good thing but all the press could talk about was that the US has a naval base in Yemen.

And the biggest share of press coverage for Trump's first overseas trip was devoted to his wife not wanting to hold his hand.

The Paris Accord is another example. Even if it did everything it was promised to do, the effect would be too small to measure. Did the press ever mention this? Of course not. Instead we were given stories about rising sea levels.

The biggest distraction has been Russia. Trump is not under investigation for colluding with the Russians. There is no evidence that the Russians actually changed the election results, either directly through tampering with election equipment and releasing emails or indirectly through fake news stories. But you won't hear that from the press. Instead we get stories about every time a member of the Trump administration had any contact with anyone from Russia as if a handshake in public is a smoking gun. This story has been, to used a preferred phrase of former Secretary of State Clinton, a big nothing-burger. In fact the book Shattered suggested that she and her campaign were the ones who started pushing the Russian story days after the election. It should have been a big story when fired FBI Director Comey said that the Feb 14 New York Times story stating that members of the Trump administration had meetings with Russian agents. Instead that was, at best, a footnote.

All of this makes it impossible to judge how well the Trump administration is performing. We have no idea if the Trump White House is in disarray or simply going through the normal settling-in pains experienced by every administration. When Trump has accomplishments, they are drowned out by headlines about his tweets or Russia.

This doubles down on the bubble the Left lives in. They get constant confirmation bias. But is this deluge of anti-Trump coverage enough to turn Trump voters to vote Democrat or will the constant, unfair attacks stiffen the resolve of his supporters? We won't know for another year an a half, at the earliest.

Friday, June 09, 2017

Trump and Comey

Yesterday former FBI Director Comey testified before Congress. Many on the Left had been hoping that this would be a knock-out for Trump's presidency or at least the beginning of the end. It was not. Here are the big take-away:

Trump asked for loyalty. As soon as the election was called in Trump's favor, Obama hold-overs vowed to resist his presidency in any way possible. While there are several interpretations of what Trump meant when he asked Comey for loyalty, the most likely is that Trump was asking Comey to do his job impartially instead of undercutting Trump from undercover. Comey offered his honesty which Trump accepted. This shows that Trump way manly asking Comey to do his job.

Trump was correct in mistrusting Comey. Comey didn't trust Trump and acted accordingly.

Trump only asked Comey to go easy on former National Security Advisor Flynn. Flynn was only being investigated because Trump appointed him. This comes across to me as Trump suggesting that being forced to resign was enough punishment but that he left it up to Comey. Comey testified that he took it as an order which he chose to ignore. It must not have been much of an order since he did not report Trump following up on the request. I suspect that when you choose to ignore a direct order by Trump, he does not forget about it and let the matter drop. It would be impossible to impeach Trump on obstruction of justice charges based on this (which hasn't stopped the left from screaching).

Trump was never under investigation. This is a big one. A major justification for opposing Trump was that he is Putin's puppet (or worse according to a foul rant by Stephen Colbert). Comey's testimony showed that Trump was never suspected of colluding with Russia. Further, Trump was all in favor of investigating any of his "satellites" who had cooperated improperly with the Russians. That ends the hope of somehow nullifying the election.

Trump had a good reason for firing Comey. While the White House has offered several reasons for the firing, The biggest one seems to be that Comey knew that Trump was innocent of dealing with the Russians but refused to say so publicly, despite the damage his silence was causing  the president. Among other things, the (non-existent) investigation was given by Democrats as a reason to hold up Trump's Supreme Court nominee. Comey was quite free in confirming the investigation of Hillary Clinton's email server despite the damage that did to her campaign but he was unwilling to be as flexible for a sitting president.

The Obama Justice Department did try to obstruct the investigation of HRC's email server. Among other things, Comey was instructed to call it a "matter" rather than an "investigation".

Comey is pretty sleezy. He took a lot on himself. He decided to make a public announcement about the email server and make it in such a way that no charges would be filed despite that being outside of the FBI's authority. He claims to have decided to ignore an order from the President on an investigation. He leaked his memos to the press in the hope of starting an independent investigation but he never gave a good cause for investigating anything.

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Paris Treaty Hysterics

Last week President Trump announced that he was pulling the US out of the Paris Agreement on Global Warming. Naturally the world erupted in hysterics. One of the ore heated reactions I saw was a letter to the editor in the Columbus Dispatch that talked about millions dying and global flooding. Nowhere was it reported that a majority of the country is skeptical about Global Warming or what the trade-offs to the agreement are. This is why Trump won the election. Within the bubble it is unanimous that the agreement was a good thing and that there could be no descent. The people inside the bubble aren't even aware of the bubble,

Along with the Iran nuclear arms pact, the Paris Agreement was meant as the capstone on President Obama's foreign policy. Similarly, despite being a treaty in all but name, it was never submitted to the Senate for ratification. Since the two agreements were so important to Obama, the negotiators were willing to settle for a bad deal over no deal.

The Paris Agreement was not going to stop Global Warming or even slow it appreciably. If all of the goals were met then the reduction in the expected rise would be around 0.02 C. That is too small to be accurately measured against weather so it amounts to a rounding error. The signatories were allowed to set their own goals and the only enforcement mechanism was "name and shame" so it's unlikely that it would even meet its goals. It also contained a Green Fund which was an huge funds transfer from the developed nations (led by the US but not including China or India) to the rest of the world in the name of environmental justice. That's why the agreement had nearly 200 signatories - most of the countries involved were promised cash for signing with no real penalties for failing to meet their goals.

Seriously, we were going to eliminate American jobs for that?

In his announcement speech, Mr Trump said that he is the President of Pittsburgh, not Paris. The fact that this was widely derided (and even compared to Hitler) is why Trump won the election. There is still a significant core support in the US for a President who puts his pwn country first instead of last.


Monday, June 05, 2017

The Chimera of Single-Payer

The American Left is enamored with the idea of single-payer health care. To them, it's the best possible form. They are blind to it's drawbacks.

Making the government responsible for health care also gives the government a bigger say in individual behavior. Considering the misguided efforts at dictating school lunches, imagine what will happen if politicians decide that the best way to cut health care costs is to mandate lifestyle changes? Right now insurers are offering incentives but imagine if these had the force of law?

And there is the big question, why does the Left want to trust their health care to the people who administer the VA hospitals?

But these issues are minor compared to the disruption that a change to Single Payer would cause to the economy. Think about it. Health care is a big portion of the economy. Single Payer means nationalizing it. Insurance is around 9% of the economy and they want to outright eliminate that.

Most Americans get their insurance through their employer and are happy with it. It's part of their compensation package. It's also one of the biggest things that unions have to offer. Unionized industries typically offer superior health benefits.

What will happen if Single Payer is implemented? Health insurance is a tax-exempt benefit. Just handing over the cash paid on employee's behalf will bet them less than they are currently getting.

In order to implement Single Payer, taxes will have to be raised. Most advocates think that other people (the rich) will be taxed and that they will get free benefits. The truth is that the rich don't have enough money. Everyone will have to pay.

When all is said and done, lots of people will be better off but lots will be worse off and the change will put the economy in turmoil for years, maybe decades. One thing that is guaranteed is that the transition will be must harder than the Left believes. The idea that the government can just put it into place without consequences is absurd.

We may get to see how this works out. Vermont tried to implement a single-payer system but it was a total failure. California is currently debating it. We'll see if they have more success than Vermont had. 

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Hillary's Flights of Fancy

In recent interviews, Hillary Clinton has "accepted full responsibility for her loss" then immediately blamed other people. She still hasn't accepted that she lost outright and that she, herself, is the person most to blame. Here's some of her claims:

If the election had been ten days earlier. This isn't much of an excuse. Yes, if the election had been held when she was ahead in the polls she might have won. But if the election had been held nine weeks earlier then Trump would have won the popular vote as well as the election. Hillary believes that the letter FBI director Comey sent to Congress, which was immediately leaked to the press, caused her to drop in the polls, costing her the election. This may be true (polling at the time indicated the announcement only caused a three-day dip and she'd been cleared before election day regardless) but the Bill Bush tape hurt Trump much more that the Comey letter hurt Hillary. All losingcandidates wish that the election had been held at a time that was more favorable to them but few go as far as Clinton.

Voter Suppression in Wisconsin. Trump won Wisconsin by 20,000 votes. A voter advocacy group calculated that a new voter-ID law in Wisconsin had kept 200,000 people from voting. The assumption is that the majority of those kept from voting were Hillary supporters. The fact-checkers disagree. The "study" came from an openly pro-Hillary group and their methodology was hopelessly flawed. They compared voter numbers in 2016 to 2012 in Wisconsin and Minnesota (which did not have a voter-id law). Turnout was down in Wisconsin and up in Minnesota so they concluded that the only factor was the voter-id law. Among other flaws, this ignores the fact that the Wisconsin turnout was higher in 2016 than in 2008 and that minority turn-out in general was down which accounted for most of the drop in Wisconsin (for some reason minorities were more likely to turn out for a fresh, young black man than an old, establishment white woman). It may comfort Hillary to think that outside forces kept her from winning Wisconsin, the fact remains that she never set foot in the state.

The Russians. Those terrible Russians. They hacked the election by releasing all of those boring Podesta emails. Even Hillary admits that there was nothing damaging in the emails but she still insists that the release was a factor. I can almost forgive her for this one. The emails were a much bigger issue inside her campaign. Every day for a month staffers would have to pour through the latest email dump then report to the campaign what the damage was. This made the emails seem much bigger to those in the campaign than to voters. But by blowing the emails out of proportion, Clinton can advance the idea that she was robbed by the Russians (with dark hints that they colluded with Trump).

Misogyny. Sure some people voted against her because she's a woman. But being a woman was a big part of her appeal. She undoubtedly got more votes because of the gender she identifies as than she lost. She and her campaign staff still complain about a double standard - that men are allowed to be angry but women aren't. Inconveniently, this doesn't apply to other women candidates. Elizabeth Warren is always angry and never accused of being shrill. Maybe the fault is in the candidate instead of society's reception to her gender. As a side-note, Hillary's still pushing the lie that Trump followed her around the stage and loomed over her during the second debate. A close look at photographs shows that Trump never moved from his seat. Hillary walked over to his side of the stage and placed herself between Trump and a camera man. According to Shattered, this was a move she'd rehearsed.

The truth is that Clinton was constantly her own worst enemy. Her decision to have total control over her emails by setting up a private server was an unforced error that came back to haunt her in numerous ways. That lead to the FBI investigation. She compounded this by forwarding emails to her assistant Huma who sent them to her husband, Anthony Weiner, to print. These turned up in an unrelated investigation of Weiner's PC. The hacking of Podesta's emails would barely have been news if the public hadn't been hearing about Hillary's private server for months. It's been said of Hillary that she'll never tell the truth if she can lie instead. She told lie after lie about her email server and each time a lie was exposed, the public lost more confidence in her. (Yes, Trump set a record for statements that weren't true but they weren't seen as self-serving the way Hillary's email lies were.)

Hillary's lack of candor really caught up with her when she collapsed at a 9/11 commemoration. Her campaign had been denying her health problems for weeks and the initial explanation - that she'd become dehydrated - turned out to be a lie. When it came out that she had pneumonia and hidden it from everyone including most of her staff, her campaign insisted that sexism was somehow to blame.

While Hillary had position papers on everything conceivable, no one can truly say what she believes in. In 2008 she was running on a platform of a return to the Clinton years. By 2016, under pressure from Bernie Sanders, she was repudiating all of her husband's accomplishments. She teased for months on the Trans Pacific partnership which she had been involved in negotiating and which she had called the gold-standard. No one was surprised when she came out against it after it became unpopular within her party. The same was true for other issues such as oil and gas pipelines and gay marriage. She always took the most expedient stand on issues and always after waiting to see which position would be most advantageous. She had no real core to her beliefs. This was in contrast with Trump who seemed to care about what's best for Americans.

According to Shattered, Hillary was never able to articulate a reason why she was running to her closest advisors. She simply assigned them the job of inventing something. With no core to her campaign, all she had to run on was negative attacks on Trump. She set a record for negative ads but failed to even attempt to court voters. her campaign was centered on turning out likely voters while suppressing Trump voters as the most cost-effective way of running the campaign. She has to take responsibility for that. A presidential candidate has to inspire by more than simply being a woman and grandmother.

Hillary lost because multiple decisions came back to haunt her. Her email server, relations with Russia while she was Secretary of State. her paid speeches for Wall Street - they all hurt her. With no core beliefs for her supporters to rally behind, there was nothing to make up for her short-comings. While it's true she did win the popular vote, she did it by running up the vote in states where Trump never tried to compete. In the Electoral College, which is all that matters, she was not competitive.

Hillary Clinton lost fair and square. She needs to accept that and be a gratuitous loser instead of the bitter failure that she's become.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Original Hypocracy

One contentious point between conservatives and progressives is original intent. Conservatives believe that laws should be enforced according to the understanding and motivations of the legislators when it was passed. If a law needs updating then it should be done by the legislature or by amending the Constitution. Progressives and liberals before them preferred the concept of a "living Constitution" and of reinterpreting laws. One example is Title IX which was passed to prevent discrimination in colleges receiving federal funding on the basis of sex. Over the Obama administration, Title IX's scope was expanded to include the proper response to allegations of sexual assault and to gender identification. Neither of these was intended when the law was passed in 1972.

It's easy to understand why the left likes using new interpretations. It's much easier to find a sympathetic (progressive) judge or administrator than to convince a (likely conservative) legislature that a law needs modifying. The left insists that it's impossible to know exactly what the original intentions were so it's up to the current courts to assign whatever meanings they want.

This principal has been turned on it's head with President Trump's executive order on immigration, often (inaccurately) described as a Muslim travel ban. Court after court has ruled that the order is perfectly legal then struck it down based on the President's intentions based on broad statements made during the 2016 campaign. Ruling that an order would have been legal from any other president sets a dangerous precedent, one that will probably come back to bite the left. Giving judges the power to strike down legal executive orders because of the suspected intentions of the President will inevitably be used against the next Democratic president.

This is not the first, or second, time that Democrats have pushed for systemic changes based on short-term gains without looking at the long-term consequences. The Democratic Senate eliminated the filibuster for judicial candidates short of the Supreme Court which made it easy for the Republican-controlled Senate to approve Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. President Obama expanded the use and bredth of the executive order giving Trump similar powers.

In a democratically-elected representative government, both sides must adhere to the existing rules and both sides must agree to changes. Unilateral changes will inevitably be used against the instigators.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

The Perpetual Impeachment Proceedings

In was wake of a special council being named to investigate connections between the Russian government and the Trump campaign, local Representative Joyce Beatty called for impeachment proceedings to begin. Keep in mind that to date, no one has identified an actual crime beyond someone hacking the DNC email server and the Gmail account of John Podesta. It still hasn't been proven that thee hacks were directed by the Russian government (and a whole new wrinkle was thrown in when a private investigator claimed that a member of the DNC was the real source of the Wikileaks material). While there was incidental contact between people associated with the Trump campaign, it has not been proved that this was anything but innocent. If there was a quid pro quo agreement between the Russians and the Trump campaign, so far there is no trace of it. And, since there is no evidence of an agreement, there is no evidence that Trump was party to it.

In other words, at this point all we have is a circumstantial case that the Russians tried to affect the election and a deduction that Trump must have been involved.

Without a lot more concrete evidence, there can be no impeachment. And investigations like this take a long time. We may not have the results in until after Trump is reelected.

So why is Beatty talking about impeachment right now? Sheer partisan hatred.

This is poisonous to our democracy. Trump won the election fair and square according to the rules in place at the time, The Democrats spent the months leading up to Trump's inauguration trying to change the rules. Not that that failed, they are looking for pretexts to remove him from office.

But the Democrats are so blinded by partisan rage that they don't see what till happen next. The Republicans spent the Obama years being fairly quiet. True, Congress obstructed as much of Obama's agenda as they could but that's what opposition parties do. What they did not do was vow start talking publicly about removing him from office before he was even sworn in. But if the Democrats keep trying to remove Trump then they can count on their next president getting a similar reception.

Let's save time and start the impeachment proceedings for the next Democrat president now. Beatty has already shown that we don't need an actual cause.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Shattered - what it tells us and what it doesn't

The recent book Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton's Doomed Campaign is an interesting insider's account of Hillary's campaign and why it failed. The authors said that they had been getting information from the campaign staff all through the campaign on condition that is not be published until after the election. I suspect that the authors intended it to chronicle Hillary's winning campaign and how she surmounted numerous internal issues and external events.

The authors are Democrat insiders. They have detailed accounts of Bernie Sanders's entrance into the campaign but very little insight into Trump of his campaign. The biggest insights come from the debate preparation when they admitted that Hillary's trump-proxy was a better candidate than Hillary.

There are some omissions and false impressions. The book waits until the final chapter to mention that Trump was the candidate that Hillary wanted to run against. Early polling showed that she had the best chance against him and her hope was that he would pull the entire Republican slate down with him, giving Democrats total control of Congress and the White House. This was reduced to a single sentence.

Hillary's Basket of Deplorables speech was covered but around the same time she recorded a video asking "Why aren't I 50 points ahead?" That got a lot of play and contitributed to her early-September slump but was skipped.

At one point Trump jokingly called on Russia to release the 35,000 emails that Hillary had deleted. This was meant as a dig at the private server and the assumption that it had already been hacked. Trump was not calling on the Russians to hack into the server. The Clinton campaign spun it as Trump calling on the Russians to hack into the server which was already in FBI custody and off-line. Shattered repeats the charge without pointing out how silly that spin was.

After the second debate the Clinton campaign circulated a picture of Trump "looming disapprovingly behind Hillary," Shattered mentioned that Hillary rehearsed for the debate on a set that was lent to her by Obama but failed to mention that she actually made a point of walking past him to the other side of the stage so that she was between Trump and a photographer.

Shattered goes light on some of the damaging details leaked such as the Clinton campaign getting questions in advance. At the same time it over-emphasizes the effect of the Podesta emails. This probably reflected the view inside the Clinton campaign. Wikileaks did a daily dump of emails for the month before the election. That meant that the Clinton campaign had to check hundreds or thousands of emails daily and evaluate if any were damaging. As it turned out, there was very little of significance in the emails and it's unlikely that they had any measurable effect on the polls. Regardless, Hillary is still talking about them, using the same language that Shattered uses.

Despite these short-comings, Shattered is a good look at all of the back-scenes drama that was kept hidden. It is also comforting for anyone who is unsure about Trump being elected. Given the problems that Hillary had just keeping her campaign together, her presidency would have been a disaster.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means

Why did Hillary Clinton lose the election? Misogyny

What is President Trump? A Misogynist
 
We hear that constantly but up until late last Summer those words almost never appeared. What was used instead was sexism and sexist.

For those who never heard of a misogynist before the 2016 presidential campaign, it means someone who hates women. It does not mean someone who imposes himself on women. A true misogynist would never do that because he hates women.

And seriously, does Hillary really think that she lost the election because a large portion of the electorate hates women?

The proper word here is sexist and sexism but those words are not strong enough.

The same thing happened with racism. There used to be a distinction between prejudice and racism. Some acting from a stereotype, possibly with good intentions, was prejudiced. But someone who actively hated a person because of his race was a racist. Over years, the definition of racism has been inflated until it pushed prejudice out of the vocabulary. Now the left is trying to do this with sexism, just to make things sound worse.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Trump and Comey

President Trump fired the director of the FBI. This was the first time a president has fired an FBI director since President Clinton fired William Sessions in 1993. The Democrats and the press (which are practically the same thing) went wild, insisting that this was done because Comey was investigating Trump's connections to Russia. They insisted this despite Comey saying repeatedly that the FBI was not investigating the President.

So, what's going on? I can see three possibilities:

1) Trump Derangement Syndrome. To many on the left, everything that Trump does is ominous and self-centered. They've never given up on the idea that Trump is a Russian puppet so they see this as just one more piece of evidence. They are the Trump version of Birthers.

2) Political posturing. Many on the left are calling for a special prosecutor to investigate. Savvy operators know that special prosecutors can run wild. Look at Clinton - the special prosecutor was appointed to investigate if Clinton as Governor gave special treatment to Whitewater Savings where Chelsea's college fund was invested but ended up investigating charges of sexual harassment in the White House. The hope is that once a prosecutor is appointed to investigate Trump, he won't stop until he finds an impeachable offense.

3) Trump was taking appropriate action. Just as a thought exercise, let's assume for a moment that Trump is not Russia's stooge. Comey lost the trust of both parties last year by inserting himself into the campaign multiple times. Just a few days ago he testified before Congress about his actions. Despite his rationalizations, the Democrats were still livid at him. The Republicans still haven't forgiven him for letting Hillary Clinton off the hook by saying that no reasonable prosecutor would file charges. Comey was a distraction for the FBI and no one trusted him. The best thing to do was fire him.

Saturday, May 06, 2017

The Resistance and Trump's reelection

I know that Donald Trump was only inaugurated a bit over three months ago but I had an insight about his chances to be reelected based on pop culture reaction to previous presidents.

For this I'm using modern presidents because I'm basing this partly on the relationship between the president and pop culture. Kennedy was assassinated before he could run for reelection and Johnson was a special case. So for this exercise, I'm starting with Nixon and continuing through Obama.

During that period there have been five Republican presidents: Nixon, Ford, Reagan, Bush(41) and Bush(43). There were three Democrats: Carter, Clinton, and Obama.

Now here's the interesting part, Nixon, Reagan and Bush(43) were hated in pop culture. All three had constant protests and inspired numerous dystonian predictions. They were often openly mocked. Take this example from the comic strip Doonsbury.  CBS ran a two hour special by a British puppeteer group that was mainly an anti-Reagan screed. You can see a sample of their work here. Things went into high gear under Bush(43). Several major movies were released with strong anti-Iraq messages (they all tanked). Cable news channel MSNBC reinvented itself as the anti-Bush channel led by Keith Olbermann. Whoppi Goldburg went on a drunken tear during an awards show comparing her pubic hair to the president.

I could give lots of other examples. My point is that the Democrats hated all three of these presidents with a white hot anger. And all three were reelected. Nixon and Reagan won record landslides. Bush(43) didn't do as well but he was still the first president to win a majority of the vote in four elections.

What about Ford and Bush(41)? They were mocked a bit, mainly on SNL. But there were no marches, no major protests. They were tolerated. And they lost.

It's harder to apply this to the Democrats. Pop culture is dominated by people who are Democrat-friendly. But anti-Clinton sentiment bubbled up in other places. Rush Limbaugh became amazingly popular as the resistance to Clinton. The same thing happened with Glen Beck and Obama. These radio celebrities led the resistance to Clinton and Obama respectively. Republicans hated both of these presidents. The Gingrinch Revolution and the Tea Party rose to fight these presidents. And they failed miserably. Both presidents were reelected easily.

Carter was a different matter. There was no widespread resistance to him. There were no protests. Even SNL ignored him. And he lost.

So here we are with Trump. The left hates him with a passion. They've marched in the street in the hundreds of thousands. But it doesn't matter. In fact, all of that hate probably helps Trump. He's not the monster that the left makes him out to be and reasonable people tend to recoil from unreasonable hatred.

So all of this hatred is likely to increase Trump's chances of reelection.

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Hillary's Mistakes

In one of her first public interviews, Hillary Clinton admitted to making mistakes but was vague about them, preferring to focus instead on factors outside her control.

So, did we make mistakes? Of course we did. Did I make mistakes? Oh my gosh, yes. … But the reason why I believe we lost were the intervening events in the last ten days. And I think you can see, I was leading in the early vote. I had a very strong — and not just our polling and data analysis, but a very strong assessment going on across the country about where I was, in terms of the necessary — both votes and electoral votes.

I disagree with her assessment that intervening events were the cause of her loss. She made lots and lots of mistakes and some of them led directly to the intervening events she complained about. Here's a partial list of mistakes:

The Email Server. The FBI couldn't have announced that they had reopened an investigation of misuse of classified information if Hillary hadn't used a private server in the first place. She wanted to have total control over what got out. She even went so far as to delete more than half of the emails on the server. Why did she do this? Excess concern for privacy? To hide influence peddling? We'll never know but the speculation darkens an already tarnished reputation (more on this later). In addition to this, she was careless with classified material. It just came out that she regularly forwarded emails to her assistant, Huma, to print and she forwarded them to her husband, Anthony Weiner. If this had made the headlines before the election she might not have lost the popular vote as well as the Electoral College.

Libya. If it wasn't for Hillary we'd never have overthrown Libya. This was a disaster for the Libyans and it lead to the death of an US ambassador. It also poisoned the US's relationship with Putin. Libya's Qaddafi had been cooperating with the US including voluntarily dismantling its nuclear program and we overthrew Qaddafi anyway. Putin was convinced that he'd be next and blamed Hillary. Personally, I don't think that the release of emails hacked by the Russians had much effect on the election but if it did, it can be traced back to this.

Wall Street and the Clinton Foundation. The voters were still mad at Wall Street about the Great recession. Both Sanders and Trump harnessed this anger. But Hillary was a creature of Wall Street. She made millions giving speeches to big banks. So did her husband, Bill. The Clintons' speaking fees were high, too. So, were these institutions simply paying for big-name speakers to impress the attendees at their functions or were they buying future good will from the next president? Again, we don't know. Hillary danced around the issue a lot and insisted that she'd warned the banks to be more careful with their investments but the one leaked transcript show just the opposite. She spent her time congratulating the banks on their wisdom. People wanted an outsider and she was the ultimate insider. She was even warned that accepting speaking fees from banks would hurt her and she brushed the warning off.

Lies and prevarications. Hillary has the reputation for never telling the truth when she can lie or tell a half truth. She did both constantly and, when she did tell the truth, she did it in a lawyerly way. She flat out lied when she said that her personal email server was because she can't use two devices at a time. She was forced to make admissions but never came out and told the entire truth. She hid the fact that she had pneumonia until she collapsed in public and even then spent hours insisting that it was just dehydration.

Expecting to rebuild the Obama coalition. Hillary expected that, as Obama's chosen successor, his voters would automatically default to her. But Obama was a fresh face and an outsider. Hillary became First Lady before many voters were born. Democrats voted for her out of duty but it was a joyless campaign.

Running negative. No one has ever run such a negative campaign as the one Hillary ran against Donald Trump. She started them well before the official launch of the national campaign, before either of them was officially the candidate. There were numerous cuts but they were all the same message, repeating things that Trump had said over years or decades. This was the worst thing that Hillary could have done. After months of hearing the same Trump quotes, they no longer shocked. They just faded into the background. Hillary inoculated the voters against Trump. The few positive ads that she ran failed to tell voters what she would do for them. That gave Trump space to tell voters what he would do for them.

The Basket of Deplorables. You just don't insult somewhere between 1/4 and 1/2 of the voters. Ever.

At one point Hillary released an internal video were she asked why she wasn't ahead by 50 points. Given all of her mistakes, it's a wonder that she was ever ahead.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

LGB Rights Turned on Their Head

I'm old enough to remember when the movement was called Gay Lib. Then Lesbians and bisexuals insisted on inclusion and it became Gay and Lesbian Rights. Bisexuals were added in and it became LGT Rights. Through it all, the movement had one message: "We aren't asking anyone else to turn gay, we just want to be free to express our own proclivities." This is an appeal to basic fairness and very hard to argue against. Reasonable people will agree that what ever happens between consenting couples is their business.

Two things have happened in the last couple of years that have turned this argument upside down. It began when the transsexuals managed to include themselves into the mix becoming LGBT then LGBTQ, sometimes with other letters added at the end. This flew below the radar until 2015 when the Supreme Court declared gay marriage legal nation-wide. Suddenly the LGB part of the alliance had achieved all of their goals.

Movements seldom just declare victory and shut down. They declare new goals. So, the LGBT movement seamlessly moved on to the T part with the Q part waiting in the wings.

Things get kind of strange here. Where, previously we had two sexes easily differentiated by their chromosomes as well as secondary sexual characteristics. Now we have a gender spectrum where gender is separate from sex. Officially the movement is pushing the idea of being born in the wrong body. Just as gays were "born this way", trans people say that their bodies do not match their gender. Someone might have XY chromosomes but still be convinced, deep down, that he is and always has been a woman and that society should treat him as a her.

This group has yet to reconcile with the gender-fluid people who claim to change genders as often as their clothing and who want to be treated as whatever gender they happen to be currently wearing. But I'll ignore them for the moment.

A big problem with being a transsexual is that sexual reassignment surgery is expensive and just builds an approximation of the opposite sex's genitals. So a majority of transsexuals only change secondary sex characteristics. Trans-women take hormones to grow breasts and possible get implants. Trans-men take hormones to grow beards and have their breasts removed. This leads to the construct "a woman who happens to have a penis".

Problems arise when trans people start dating. It's difficult to find a guy (or a lesbian woman) who wants to have sex with a girl who happens to have a penis. The problem resolves itself with trans couples but the number of trans people is really pretty small.

Which bring me to the point of this post - the demand that CIS-gender people (people whose gender matches their genitalia) ignore a trans person's genitalia. Here's a rant by a trans women who insists on being treated as a real women. The original, powerful message of the Gay Lib movement is gone. Instead of "let us live our lives", (s)he's now demanding that others change.

This is self-defeating. Where gay rights advocates have always insisted that you can't force someone to change their sexual attraction, now the trans people are demanding just that. And they are not just demanding it from straight people. They are demanding that everyone change. And you just can't expect people to change their sexual preferences because you demand it. It just doesn't work that way.

This is also a total redefinition of what it is to be gay or straight. By this reasoning, gays are now two people with the same secondary sex characteristics regardless of primary sexual characteristics.

I expect that this conflict will start breaking up the LGBTQ alliance. If that doesn't then the gender-fluid folks will.

 

Friday, April 21, 2017

Chess and Checkers

Hillary Clinton managed to lose two presidential races where she was the front-runner with a huge financial advantage. First she lost the 2008 primary to Barack Obama then she lost the 2016 presidential election to Donald Trump. I had a recent insight into how this could happen - Hillary was using checkers rules in a chess game.

There are two major differences between checkers and chess. The obvious one is that the pieces move differently. But that's minor. The biggest difference is that you win checkers by taking all of your opponent's pieces but you win chess by taking the king. Taking pieces in chess is a strategy but it can also be a distraction and it is possible for a player with fewer pieces to still win by effective use of his resources.

In both elections, Hillary had the wrong objectives. She went after large states, assuming that wins there would crush her opponents. Both Obama and Trump ran in states that Hillary ignored and, when she didn't do as well in the big states, they passed her.

Once you look at it this way, you can see several aspects of Hillary's campaign that showed the wrong strategy. Look at the first debate. The accepted wisdom was that Trump needed to act presidential and keep from losing his temper. Hillary was supposed to have consulted with experts on how to needle him and make him lose his temper. In a later debate she made a point of crossing the stage so she could be photographed with Trump looming behind her. Then her staff sent out the picture as an example of how women have to cope with angry men looming over their shoulder.

What Hillary forgot was that the goal of the debates was not to score points on your opponent. It was to convince the voters that they would be better off with you in the White House. Trump spent most of his opening statement explaining why renegotiating treaties would help put people back to work.

Hillary had twice the campaign funds as Trump but she only spent a fraction on ads promoting herself and those only told how she had fought for children all her career. The vast majority of her ads were aimed at telling us that Trump is a bad person. Like taking chess pieces, negative ads can put you in a stronger position but they miss the goal of convincing enough people to vote for you to win the Electoral College.

Trump did the opposite - me told people how he would help them. Trump, like Obama before him, never lost sight of the goal and both dark horse candidates went on to win the presidency.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Gotcha Politics

While making a point about the brutality of the Syrian government, White House spokesman Sean Spicer pointed out that even Hitler didn't use chemical weapons. This should have been an uncontroversial statement since it is true. World War One saw wide-spread use of mustard and chlorine gas warfare. It was widely anticipated that Hitler would order the V2s fired at London to be equipped with similar payloads and images of the Blitz show Londoners in gas masks in preparation for that.

Similarly, battlefield troops across Europe were equipped with gas masks which they never needed.

So why the controversy? It's because the Nazis used gas chambers to kill Jews and other minorities.

This is not remotely the same thing as dropping nerve gas on apartment buildings. Spicer did not try to compare Assad's brutality to Hitler's. He was referring to specific battlefield use of chemical weapons Pointing this out in no way diminished the horrors of the concentration camps or Hitler's final solution and no one would have been outraged if President Obama's spokesman had made a similar statement. It's just gotcha politics.

Thursday, April 06, 2017

About that Pepsi Ad

The big story of the day (not counting poison gas in Syria and rocket tests in North Korea) is a "tone deaf" ad by Pepsi featuring Kendall Jenner.

Assuming it hasn't been pulled, you can see it here.

The add contrasts a big but friendly street protest and a professional model in the middle of a photo shoot. The model is wearing a slinky silver dress, makeup and a blond wig. There is also a guy playing a cello (or similar large stringed instrument) which is not part of the sound track and a woman in Islamic headscarf who is looking at contact sheets or something. The guy with the cello drinks a Pepsi and joins the march. The woman in the headscarf screams in frustration, scatters she contact sheets, grabs her camera and runs out the march. The cello guy catches the eye of the model who apparently is suddenly "woke". She pulls her wig off, flashes to herself with different makeup, then hands her wig to an older black woman and joins the parade. She also manages to change clothes in an instant.

The model picks up a can of Pepsi, gives a Pepsi-fist bump to a couple of people including cello-guy and has her picture taken by headscarf girl. Then she hands the can of Pepsi to a good-looking cop who is standing peacefully nearby. He drinks it and the crowd goes wild.

The ad is sort of a feel-good version of the anti-Trump marches. People are carrying peace signs or signs that say "Join the conversation" and "love". There are a lot of minorities but the majority of the crowd is white. There are several cops present but none of them are visibly armed. A couple have riot helmets but most are simply standing there with their arms held behind them. There is no hint of violence.

If anyone should be offended, it's Trump supporters. It makes protests seem cool, especially if Pepsi is involved.

But that's not who's protesting. The complaints are all coming from the left, primarily Black Lives Matters. Here's a report on the backlash. The backlash is mainly split into two complaints. The first is Pepsi co-opting protest culture to sell soft drinks. That's a valid complaint.

The other complaint, and probably the real one, is that it makes the police look human. That's not how they put it but it's what they mean. It's a peaceful march, not a violent protest. The cops are engaged in traffic control. But the commenters keep going on about how a black marcher would be shot for approaching a cop like that.

Again, there is nothing in the ad to link it to the BLM marches. The closest anyone has come is a still of Kendal approaching the cop with a can and a picture of a BLM protestor being arrested.

But Black Lives Matters is all about teaching people that cops are terrible, people who will use any excuse to kill blacks. They still repeat the "Hands up, don't shoot" lie. So they can't allow an ad campaign that shows marchers and cops getting along. The ad has to go.

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Nuking the Court

Senate Democrats are about to successfully filibuster a Supreme Court nominee for the first time ever. In response the Republicans are expected to "go nuclear" and change the rules governing the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees.The Democrats are making a mistake and doing it for very poor reasons. At the heart of their justifications are two truths - that they have no respect for principle and that they prefer to oppose President Trump than to serve the country,

They claim that the seat that Gorsuch was nominated to was "stolen" from Garland, President Obama's nominee and that no vote on Gorsuch should be allowed until a vote on Garland is first held. This sounds great in principle until you remember that President Obama and Vice-President Biden were both against a President nominating judges in their final year. I'd like to know if the Democrats would have held to these principles if Hillary Clinton had been elected and nominated a different, more progressive justice? I suspect I know the answer.

Gorsuch's elevation to the Supreme Court will not change the balance. He will be a conservative replacing a conservative and there is no chance that President Trump will withdraw his nomination and replace it with Garland.

A case can be made for leaving the court with eight members. Since Obama packed the lower courts with ideological appointments, that means that the court will keep ruling 4-4 on controversial matters letting lower court rulings stand. While terrible for jurisprudence, this would be good politically for the Democrats. But that would requite them to keep the seat open the entire Trump administration and to manage to win a 60-vote majority in the Senate after a Democrat replaces Trump. This would be a viable strategy if not for the nuclear option. The Republicans will not allow the Democrats to leave the seat vacant and by opposing such a well-qualified candidate who will not shift the court, the Democrats make the nuclear option inevitable.

That leaves obstructionism for its own sake as the Democrats' only motive. Their far-left base insists that Trump be opposed in every possible way and they are pandering to that group rather than serving their country.