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.


.

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.