Thursday, May 05, 2016

Manipulating the press

David Samuels writes in the New York Times about Ben Rhodes, The Aspiring Novelist Who Became Obama's Foreign Policy Guru.
He is the master shaper and retailer of Obama's foreign-policy narratives, at a time when the killer wave of social media has washed away the sand castles of the traditional press.
Ace of Spades goes back and forth between the Times article and his own thoughts.

The left's favorite headline opening? Actually, America Retreating from the World Isn't a Sign of Weakness...

This is something different from old-fashioned spin... Now the most effectively weaponized 140-character idea or quote will almost always carry the day, and it is very difficult for even good reporters to necessarily know where the spin is coming from or why.

The decayed Imperial swells of the capital probably began bragging about how easily they manipulated the dummies of Rome, too -- right before the barbarians tore the place apart.

Five points being used to persuade conservatives to vote for Trump

At The Daily Wire Ben Shapiro lists five common arguments people use to persuade others to vote for Trump. They are:
1. But Hillary's Worse!, 2. But Trump Will Change! 3. But Trump Will Work With Republicans! 4. But The Supreme Court! and 5. But Sitting Out Is Moral Cowardice!
Go here to read Shapiro's thoughts on each of these points.

He doesn't like Trump, but did he support Cruz?

United States Senator from Nebraska, Ben Sasse, writes an open letter to Majority America. He goes to his local Walmart at Fremont, Nebraska and engages in unsolicited conversations with four people: a retired union Democrat meat packer, a young evangelical mom, a middle aged Republican male, and a Trump supporter. Then he returns home, goes down to the Platte River, and relfects on these and other conversations, and a myriad of emails telling him to support Trump because the only choice we have is Hillary or Trump. His open letter asks WHY is Hillary v. Trump our only choice?

1. Washington isn’t fooling anyone -- Neither political party works. They bicker like children about tiny things, and yet they can’t even identify the biggest issues we face. They’re like a couple arguing about what color to paint the living room, and meanwhile, their house is on fire. They resort to character attacks as step one because they think voters are too dumb for a real debate. They very often prioritize the agendas of lobbyists (for whom many of them will eventually work) over the urgent needs of Main Street America. I signed up for the Party of Abraham Lincoln -- and I will work to reform and restore the GOP -- but let’s tell the plain truth that right now both parties lack vision.

2.As a result, normal Americans don’t like either party. If you ask Americans if they identify as Democrat or Republican, almost half of the nation interrupts to say: “Neither.”

3.Young people despise the two parties even more than the general electorate. And why shouldn’t they? The main thing that unites most Democrats is being anti-Republican; the main thing that unites most Republicans is being anti-Democrat. No one knows what either party is for -- but almost everyone knows neither party has any solutions for our problems. “Unproductive” doesn’t begin to summarize how messed up this is.

4.Our problems are huge right now, but one of the most obvious is that we’ve not passed along the meaning of America to the next generation. If we don’t get them to re-engage -- thinking about how we defend a free society in the face of global jihadis, or how we balance our budgets after baby boomers have dishonestly over-promised for decades, or how we protect First Amendment values in the face of the safe-space movement – then all will indeed have been lost. One of the bright spots with the rising generation, though, is that they really would like to rethink the often knee-jerk partisanship of their parents and grandparents. We should encourage this rethinking.

5.These two national political parties are enough of a mess that I believe they will come apart. It might not happen fully in 2016 – and I’ll continue fighting to revive the GOP with ideas -- but when people’s needs aren’t being met, they ultimately find other solutions.

6.In the history of polling, we’ve basically never had a candidate viewed negatively by half of the electorate. This year, we have two. In fact, we now have the two most unpopular candidates ever – Hillary by a little, and Trump by miles (including now 3 out of 4 women – who vote more and influence more votes than men). There are dumpster fires in my town more popular than these two “leaders.”

7.With Clinton and Trump, the fix is in. Heads, they win; tails, you lose. Why are we confined to these two terrible options? This is America. If both choices stink, we reject them and go bigger. That’s what we do.

8.Remember: our Founders didn’t want entrenched political parties. So why should we accept this terrible choice?

9.So...let’s have a thought experiment for a few weeks: Why shouldn’t America draft an honest leader who will focus on 70% solutions for the next four years? You adult?
(Two notes for reporters:
**Such a leader should be able to campaign 24/7 for the next six months. Therefore he/she likely can’t be an engaged parent with little kids.
**Although I’m one of the most conservative members of the Senate, I'm not interested in an ideological purity test, because even a genuine consensus candidate would almost certainly be more conservative than either of the two dishonest liberals now leading the two national parties.)

10.Imagine if we had a candidate:
...who hadn’t spent his/her life in politics either buying politicians or being bought
…who didn’t want to stitch together a coalition based on anger but wanted to take a whole nation forward
…who pledged to serve for only one term, as a care-taker problem-solver for this messy moment
…who knew that Washington isn’t competent to micromanage the lives of free people, but instead wanted to SERVE by focusing on 3 or 4 big national problems,
such as:
A. A national security strategy for the age of cyber and jihad;
B. Honest budgeting/entitlement reform so that we stop stealing from future generations;
C. Empowering states and local governments to improve K-12 education, and letting Washington figure out how to update federal programs to adjust to now needing lifelong learners in an age where folks are obviously not going to work at a single job for a lifetime anymore; and
D. Retiring career politicians by ending all the incumbency protections, special rules, and revolving door opportunities for folks who should be public “servants,” not masters.
This really shouldn’t be that hard.
The oath I took is to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution. In brief, that means I’m for limited government.
And there is no reason to believe that either of these two national frontrunners believe in limiting anything about DC’s power.
I believe that most Americans can still be for limited government again -- if they were given a winsome candidate who wanted Washington to focus on a small number of really important, urgent things -- in a way that tried to bring people together instead of driving us apart.
I think there is room – an appetite – for such a candidate.
What am I missing?
More importantly, what are the people at the Fremont Wal-Mart missing?
Because I don’t think they are wrong. They deserve better. They deserve a Congress that tackles the biggest policy problems facing the nation. And they deserve a president who knows that his or her job is not to “reign,” but to serve as commander-in-chief and to “faithfully execute” the laws – not to claim imperial powers to rewrite them with his pen and phone.
The sun is mostly set on the Platte River -- and the kids need baths. So g’night.
Read more here.

One question: I don't recall this Senator supporting Ted Cruz, do you?

Are you "over it"?

C. Edmund Wright at The American Thinker is not "over it".
But no, I am not over the Constitution, although apparently many are, because they have thrown in with a man who never mentions it and often runs afoul of it. Donald Trump was born "over" the Constitution and still is. He's never been concerned with it. New York values don’t intersect with the Constitution. No, I am not over the idea of liberty, and thus I'm not quite over the fact that the Republican nominee is a man totally unfamiliar with this concept and a man who never ever looks at increased liberty as the answer for out of control government. Ever.

Please, show me where I am wrong on that.

Nor am I over the related concept of limited government. Nothing, not a single syllable out of Donald Trump's mouth, has uttered a whiff of anything to do with limited government. When Carrier and Ford are forced offshore because of out of control government, what does Donald do? He threatens even more government power as the solution. It never even dawns on the Orange One or his followers to perhaps remove some of the government obstacles in the way of Carrier, Ford and other once free companies. What an idea!

When crony capitalism is destroying our free market, does Donald want to stop government from picking winners and losers? NO! He doubles down on ethanol subsidies. He obfuscates the issue of eminent domain. And he rails against trade, not even considering the obvious conclusion that the big stick of tariffs is centralized planning and government picking winners and losers on steroids.

...the notion that Trump is this great wrecking ball to the establishment would be laughable if it weren't so serious.

Trump is the establishment. His big check to party boss and establishment poster child Mitch McConnell has barely even cleared yet -- a donation he followed up by insulting on Twitter those stupid Kentuckians who were willing to forgo McConnell's crony gravy train to his home state in favor of a principled man like Matt Bevin. Trump brags he has been giving to Republicans lately, but these donations are to establishment Republicans running against outsiders!

So no, I'm not over this kind of House of Cards attitude, and if you are, then you were never really in the fight to begin with. You've been conned.

Alexander Hamilton said “if we must have an enemy at the head of Government, let it be one whom we can oppose, and for whom we are not responsible, who will not involve our party in the disgrace of his foolish and bad measures.” He was right. Many of you have not heeded that lesson. I have, and I am proudly not over the nomination of big government New York liberal Donald J Trump.
Read more here.

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

"The choice is two reprehensible, corrupt, and immoral demagogues"

David Harsanyi writes in The Federalist, was the constitutional idealism of the Tea Party that held back Democrats and establishment GOPers from working together to expand the reach of government. A turn to white identity politics and anger is a turn away from that idealism.

...when the choice is two reprehensible, corrupt, and immoral demagogues, you can always pick the ethical way out and say none of the above. The republic will survive an election cycle.

The Republican Party is a different story, however. For those who are idealists about the Constitution–and there are probably far fewer than some of us like to imagine–there are a number of reasons to sabotage The Party of Trump, even if it ends with a Hillary presidency. The first is salvaging some of your own dignity and principles. But there are other, long-term political advantages to beating back an authoritarian populist who peddles conspiracy theories and big-government schemes and doesn’t have a freshman-level comprehension about the basic workings of American governance.
Read more here.

Could both of our political parties lose their rationale for existence?

Jonah Goldberg writes in USA Today,
...“During Obama's eight years in office, the Democrats have lost more House, Senate, state legislative and governors seats than under any other president,” writes NPR’s Mara Liasson. She adds, "Democrats currently hold fewer elected offices nationwide than at any time since the 1920s."

There are many reasons for this, but one is particularly relevant. Obama lost the traditional heart of the Democratic Party: the white working class. In fairness, the Democrats’ trouble with blue-collar whites pre-dates Obama, but Obama accelerated the process. In 2012, he lost this group by 26 points (62%-36%). Trump is winning with those votes.

... Moderate and centrist Democrats have been effectively purged from the party. Hillary Clinton might look like a somewhat conservative Democrat to some, but that’s mostly because she has been hounded for months by an avowed democratic socialist.

If the GOP actually did implode tomorrow, it would spell both a short-term bonanza for the Democrats and a long-term existential crisis. People forget that beyond policy and philosophy, what sustains both parties is a kind of team sport. The Democrats run on being anti-GOP, and the Republicans campaign on being anti-Democrat. Take away one dance partner, and the one left on the floor has no idea what to do next.

And dancing with Donald Trump won't be anything like dancing with Ted Cruz, who has suspended his campaign. The Democrats have no idea how to tango with a new GOP that also promises to maintain or expand entitlement programs, raise trade barriers and tax the wealthy. If the Republican Party under Trump joins Democrats in wanting to fund Planned Parenthood, how will we tell who is leading and who is following?

Whether Trump destroys or merely transforms the GOP, the net effect could be the same: Both parties could lose their reliable rationale for existence. That kind of creative destruction could leave a vacuum for one or more new parties to fill the void.

True story

How likely was it?

Jim Geraghty asks at National Review,
...How likely was it that Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, Ann Coulter, Sarah Palin, and Matt Drudge would not merely tolerate Trump’s previous liberal views but excuse them or conclude they were irrelevant to the 2016 discussion? How likely was it that they would look at Trump’s recent declarations that he’s pro-life and pro-gun and they would believe him?

The most common defense of Trump was that he, alone, was willing to take on the issue of illegal immigration in the bold, direct way so many Americans wanted. But these same people who declared the supremacy of this issue never seemed bothered by Trump’s past hiring of illegal immigrants, his extensive use of foreign workers, his flip-flopping on H-1B visas, and the “touchback amnesty” aspect of his plan, where illegal immigrants could apply for citizenship after they returned to their own country. If illegal immigration was such a defining issue, why did so few Trump voters want to explore these parts of Trump’s record and plan?
Read more here.

#Always Constitution

I heard a little bit of Glenn Beck's radio show tonight. Glenn was magnificent. He does not identify himself as #Never Trump. He identifies as #Always Constitution!

Meanwhile, Jonah Goldberg writes at National Review,
Indeed, this is what unites Clintonism, Sandersism, and Trumpism: the idea that the government in Washington is too weak. Get the right person in the White House and they’ll fix all our problems by bringing the malefactors to heel. They also all believe, as Trump says about health care, that the federal government has to “take care of everybody.”

All of these ideas and impulses have popular support. Millennials, recent polls show, are remarkably cool to capitalism and dismayingly receptive to socialism. The demographic base of the GOP — older white voters — agrees with Trump that entitlements should be left alone.

...Although they have different goals, leading Republicans and Democrats alike want to go back to the way things were — and they think they can take us there from Washington. Trump says he’ll cut deals in the Oval Office that will make America great again; Clinton promises “universal” everything (education, retirement, health care) to restore the American Dream.

What would be so terrible about letting diverse communities decide how they want to live and spend their tax dollars? The culture wars would still rage, but at least the winners would have to look the losers in the eye. As it stands now, the federal government, mostly through unelected judges and bureaucrats, thinks it can best determine how more than 300 million people should live. The cure for powerlessness is power, not ceding even more of it to Washington. This is the only way to cut the Gordian knot choking our politics, and the best path forward for opponents of statism — in all parties.
Read more here.

An elected servant

This reminder from Tom Krannawitter might make you feel better:
I know it's hard for many people to shake old habits, but let's not forget: The President of the United States, whoever it might be at a given time, emphatically is NOT the "leader" of the world.

A world of billions of free wills and rational minds is far too complex to be "led" by anyone.
For that matter, the President of the United States, whoever it might be, is not even the "leader" of the United States. Or his/her political party.

Human beings, with their free wills and rational minds, have no need for a "leader." We are not sheep. Therefore we are in need of no shepherd.... much less a "führer," which is the German word for "leader."

A President, and all other politicians in the United States, are our agents. We are their principals. We decide who among them we offer permission to serve us. We decide what powers they have and don't have. We decide when it's time for them to leave the office to which we appointed them.

That's not a "leader." That's an elected servant. That's an agent. Let not forget that in these heady times.

Guilty of thinking while black

Ace of Spades reports that this man is guilty of thinking while black. Jason Riley wrote a book entitled Please Stop Helping Us: How Liberals Make It Harder for Blacks to Succeed. Riley has been disinvited from giving a scheduled lecture at Virginia Tech. Ace writes,
The left no longer believes in free speech. They are having wild, passionate sex with censorship. The sex is hotter because it's illicit and forbidden.

Yet, the community still expects them to pretend they believe in fidelity to free speech. They might feel a certain obligation to pretend to still believe in it.

But they don't.

They're censors. What they believe in is #SafeSpaces and #RecoveryPlayDoh.

But they still have to put on this sugar-wouldn't-melt-in-our-mouths purity act about giving a shit about free speech.

Our universities are now the most hostile place in the country to actual thought.

What can't go on, will not.
Read more here and here.

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Submit, or Resist? I'll take the latter!

Ace of Spades writes,
...But the fact that a clear social liberal, who practically no one believes is "pro-life" or even pro-gun, is the runaway favorite for the GOP nomination is a fact with major implications for the party going forward. If Trump's liberalism can be accepted, why can't the liberalism of Giuliani (or a Giuliani type to be named later) be accepted?

I had thought a whole bunch of things were non-negotiable demand points from an important part of the coalition.

Now it seems they either are plenty negotiable, or that part of the coalition isn't as important as I thought.
Ace links to this article by John Frum in the Atlantic:
...not perhaps since George McGovern in 1972 has a presumptive nominee so signally failed to carry the most committed members of his party with him.

...Donald Trump spoke to genuinely underrepresented people. Concerned that the GOP was captured by theocratic Southerners? Where Republicans are most secular and supposedly most moderate—the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic—Trump has done best. By all indications, he’ll do crushingly well in California, too. It’s where Republicans are least moderate that he was most resisted: Texas, Utah, and wherever party activists gather in caucuses and conventions. That’s where an Independent candidacy would be most effectively aimed.

To what end? Those conservatives who like Trump least presumably dislike Hillary Clinton most. Now that he’s the presumptive nominee, why won’t they line up behind him? The larger part of their most trusted sources of information, talk radio and Fox News, are already cheerleading for him. Those who still balk will likely follow eventually: After all, the real enemy is “the Left” ... and Hillary Clinton leads “the Left,” as everyone knows.

Resistance now means something more—and more dangerous—than tapping out #NeverTrump on Twitter. It means working to defeat Trump even knowing that the almost certain beneficiary will be Hillary Clinton.

Oh, a certain kind of pundit may speculate that an Independent candidacy will electrify the country, winning enough of the vote to throw the election into the House of Representatives. There, the Republican majority could—in some apocalyptic remake of Bush v. Gore—defy the popular vote and bestow the presidency this time on the third-place finisher. But this is fantasy, not politics. Theodore Roosevelt was the most successful vote-getter between the Civil War and World War I. Even he could not cast the 1912 election into the House, and if he cannot, some retired Marine general non-uniformed Americans have never heard of will surely not be able to. And if, against all odds, the scenario did unfold, the so-called winner would have no legitimacy.

What can more credibly be imagined, however, is an Independent candidacy that peels away 7-8 percent of the vote from a Trump-led GOP ticket, as John Anderson peeled votes away from Jimmy Carter in 1980, aiding Ronald Reagan.

2016 was the year that the great American center actually did rise up against the extremism of the corrupt two-party duopoly and actually did disrupt outdated ideologies.
Independent candidacies like Anderson’s allow political partisans to accept an outcome they cannot endorse. It’s the same thought process President Lincoln described in a favorite joke. A temperance preacher doing his rounds of the hot and dusty roads of Illinois stopped at the house of a more broadminded friend. The preacher asked for a glass of lemonade. The friend offered to put a shot of something stronger into the drink. The preacher refused on principle, but added: “If you could manage to put a drop in unbeknownst to me, I guess it wouldn’t hurt too much.” Lincoln told that joke to Generals Grant and Sherman in March 1865. When they asked whether they should try to catch Jefferson Davis when he fled Richmond. Lincoln added: “I’m bound to oppose the escape of Jeff Davis, but if you could let him slip away unbeknownst to me, I guess it wouldn’t hurt too much.” Some anti-Trump conservatives will feel bound to oppose the election of Hillary Clinton—but they guess it wouldn’t hurt too much compared to the Trump alternative.

So: If an Independent candidacy, what kind?

To date, talk of third-party candidates has been the sport of TV green rooms and conferences in pleasant locations. The old-line parties are too extreme, the complaint goes, and what’s needed is an Independent candidate to bust the corrupt duopoly, disrupt outdated ideologies, and at last represent the great American center. The people who advance this notion imagine the great American as looking very much like themselves: socially liberal, at ease with globalization, committed to sensible moderate problem-solving ideas like reducing entitlements, liberalizing immigration, keeping guns out of the wrong hands, and campaign-finance reforms. These are the people who talk about a Michael Bloomberg candidacy, as before that they talked about a Colin Powell candidacy.

The trouble is: 2016 was the year that the great American center actually did rise up against the extremism of the corrupt two-party duopoly and actually did disrupt outdated ideologies. A secular businessman who backed both parties, who denounced big money in politics, who promised to do deals and bring back jobs—isn’t that what you had in mind? No? And if, like J. Alfred Prufrock, you murmur, “That is not it at all, That is not what I meant, at all” then it’s time to reckon with the fact that the great American center wasn’t what you imagined it was at all either.

The people who like Michael Bloomberg are the least underrepresented people in American life. They don’t always get their way—who does?—but it’s not for lack of candidates eager to take their money and voice their views. Hillary Clinton is almost as perfect a candidate as the Davos consensus could wish, and to the extent she deviates from that consensus—favoring somewhat higher taxes, expressing rather more skepticism about the benignity of large financial institutions—it can be pardoned as a necessary concession to political reality.

Donald Trump spoke to genuinely underrepresented people. Concerned that the GOP was captured by theocratic Southerners? Where Republicans are most secular and supposedly most moderate—the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic—Trump has done best. By all indications, he’ll do crushingly well in California, too. It’s where Republicans are least moderate that he was most resisted: Texas, Utah, and wherever party activists gather in caucuses and conventions. That’s where an Independent candidacy would be most effectively aimed.

To what end? Those conservatives who like Trump least presumably dislike Hillary Clinton most. Now that he’s the presumptive nominee, why won’t they line up behind him? The larger part of their most trusted sources of information, talk radio and Fox News, are already cheerleading for him. Those who still balk will likely follow eventually: After all, the real enemy is “the Left” ... and Hillary Clinton leads “the Left,” as everyone knows.

Yet here’s something that traditional ideological conservatives will want to consider: Trump rose by shoving them aside. Trump’s rise exposed the weakness of social conservatives in particular. For a third of a century, social conservatives imposed a pro-life litmus test on Republican nominees for both presidency and vice presidency. They pulled the party into confrontations over sexuality and religion that many Republican elected leaders would have preferred to avoid. And then, abruptly, poof: The social conservative veto has vanished. New York values have prevailed, with a mighty assist from Jerry Falwell Jr. and other evangelical leaders. It seems unlikely the religious right will return in anything like its awesome previous form. A visibly conscientious objector to the culture wars easily defeated candidates who elevated the defunding of Planned Parenthood to the top of their agenda. That lesson, once demonstrated, won’t soon be forgotten.

Trump’s almost certain failure in November will likewise drag after him other conservative causes, notably immigration restriction. Republican elites will be quick to blame a Trump loss on his immigration message. The way would then be cleared for a President Clinton and Speaker Ryan to do the immigration deal that congressional leaders wanted to do with President Obama in 2013. And if, by some freak chance, Donald Trump were to win the presidency, immigration restrictionists would discover—as so many have discovered before them—how little a Donald Trump commitment is worth.

The big internal conservative struggle of 2017 will be the fight to write the narrative of how Trump emerged and why he lost. Anti-Trump conservatives will want to say that Trump lost because he wasn’t a “true conservative.” But 2016 to date is proposing that “true conservatives” constitute only a pitiful minority of the Republican Party, never mind the country as a whole. Why should any practical politician care about them ever again? To regain respect after their humiliation by Trump and the pro-Trump talkers on radio and TV, those who regard themselves as “true conservatives” will have to mount a show of force. “Maybe we can’t win on our own … but you can’t win without us.” And that means contributing—and being seen to contribute—to a Trump defeat.

...If the former Republican leadership had been more responsive to the needs of its voters and less swayed by the demands of its donors, the party might have changed from within. Now it’s the target of a hostile takeover that will stamp the TRUMP brand as indelibly upon it as it was once stamped upon the cityscape of Atlantic City. That branding ended in ruin for Atlantic City, and the GOP is unlikely to fare better.
Read more here.

Trump's "ridiculous, shameful, uncorroborated" claims about Cruz's father

CNN's Jake Tapper called out Donald Trump for making shameful accusations about Ted Cruz's father this morning. Tré Goins-Phillips writes at The Blaze,
At the start of his program Tuesday, CNN host Jake Tapper debunked Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump’s “ridiculous” and “shameful” claim that Ted Cruz’s father was connected to Lee Harvey Oswald, the assassin who killed President John F. Kennedy in 1963.

Trump’s claim came during a phone-in interview on Fox News’ “Fox and Friends” Tuesday morning, when the billionaire businessman mentioned a recent tabloid story claiming the mystery man in a 1963 photo of Oswald and others is actually Cruz’s father, Rafael.

“His father was with Lee Harvey Oswald prior to Oswald’s being — you know, shot. I mean, the whole thing is ridiculous,” Trump said. “What is this, right prior to his being shot, and nobody even brings it up. They don’t even talk about that. That was reported, and nobody talks about it.”

Tapper responded to the front-runner’s comments, telling viewers that the report Trump pushed is both “bizarre” and “completely uncorroborated.” The report was originally published by The National Enquirer, which has endorsed Trump and is published by a close friend of the New York real estate mogul.

It is important to note there is no evidence to suggest the photo does, in fact, feature Cruz’s father and, in addition, Cruz’s dad has said the man in the picture is not him.

“I cannot believe I need to say the following,” Tapper said, “but here it goes: There is no corroborated evidence that Ted Cruz’s father ever met Lee Harvey Oswald, or, for that matter, any other presidential assassin. We in the media don’t talk about it because there’s no evidence of it.”

He continued, “Any suggestion that Cruz’s father played a role in the Kennedy assassination is ridiculous and, frankly, shameful. Now, that’s not an anti-Trump position or a pro-Cruz position — it’s a pro-truth position.”
Watch Tapper here.

Some statistics

Harry Enten writes at Five Thirty Eight blog,
We often talk about the “base” of the Republican primary. I don’t know what the base exactly is, but I’ve often heard it described as the ideological base (i.e. very conservative voters). Well, that base is not in love with Trump. Even as he wins easily in Indiana, he’s losing self-described very conservative Republican primary voters 54 percent to 41 percent. Moreover, Trump is losing those who attend church at least once a week 63 percent to 28 percent. It’ll be interesting to see how these very conservative and very religious voters react to Trump’s nomination. Cruz himself gave them little direction in his speech this evening.

At the same blog Carl Bialik adds,
Trump’s challenge getting the support of women voters continued in Indiana. He won just 47 percent of women, according to the exit polls, compared to 59 percent of men. He still won the plurality of women voters, but his lead was just 6 percentage points over Cruz, compared to a lead of 26 percentage points over Cruz among men.

Ted Cruz is ending his campaign

At the Five Thirty Eight blog, there is this: Patrick Svitek ✔ ‎@PatrickSvitek
Just in: @TedCruz is ending his presidential campaign, campaign manager Jeff Roe tells me.

Update from the Five Thirty Eight's proprietor Nate Silver:
Cruz is about to drop out of the Republican race, according to an array of well-sourced reporters on Twitter. Mathematically, that makes sense. After Trump’s huge win in Indiana tonight, Cruz’s delegate math was extremely daunting. National polls have also turned further against him, and most Republicans don’t want a contested convention, which was Cruz’s only chance at winning. I’m going to hold off on further comment until I hear more of Cruz’s speech, and watch whether he hints about an endorsement of Trump, or stays neutral or negative toward Trump in an effort to position himself toward 2020.

Reality 2016

Here is something very depressing from Chris Cillizza at the Washington Post.

And here's the underlying math. If Clinton wins the 19 states (and D.C.) that every Democratic nominee has won from 1992 to 2012, she has 242 electoral votes. Add Florida's 29 and you get 271. Game over.

The Republican map — whether with Trump, Cruz or the ideal Republican nominee (Paul Ryan?) as the standard-bearer — is decidedly less friendly. There are 13 states that have gone for the GOP presidential nominee in each of the last six elections. But they only total 102 electorate votes. That means the eventual nominee has to find, at least, 168 more electoral votes to get to 270. Which is a hell of a lot harder than finding 28 electoral votes.

Owning the identities of American voters

Michael Cavna writes in the Washington Post about comic book writer Scott Adams. Adams is a certified hypnotist, and he believes he understands why Donald Trump is doing so well among GOP voters. He knows psychology, and he knows how to appeal to our emotions. Adams says we are primarily emotional beings, not rational beings. Here are some excerpts from the piece:
Writes Adams: “Identity is always the strongest level of persuasion. The only way to beat it is with dirty tricks or a stronger identity play. … [And] Trump is well on his way to owning the identities of American, Alpha Males, and Women Who Like Alpha Males. Clinton is well on her way to owning the identities of angry women, beta males, immigrants, and disenfranchised minorities.

“If this were poker, which hand looks stronger to you for a national election?”

Monday, May 02, 2016

Loving the life that you are actually living right now

At A Holy Experience guest blogger Alexandra Kuykendall writes,
He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, He brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times --

so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us. ~ 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (The Msg)

I ask myself: What can I do in this moment that will make a difference? What can I offer her with what I have right now?

My truest calling as a follower of Jesus is to love God fully and others fully. How much more to show that than giving them my full attention when present with them?

Because this is the place where our lives and God’s purposes intersect.

This one life we’ve been given. How will we use it today?

...It is here in our innermost places that we relish that we are made as image bearers and we live out of that creative genius. It is here that we make our mark on the world — one conversation, one help, one prayer at a time.

...So I look at them honestly, these parts that make up my every day, and I am grateful for the good. And I even work to be grateful for the difficult because I know, though painful, it can shape me for the better. So in all things I give thanks.

...So yes, I want to love these days, hours, minutes I have here and I want to draw closer to the One who breathes life in.

Because I want to know I’ve done my best with this one life when I pass from it to the next.
Read more here.

An anti-American agenda

Greg Campbell writes at Politistick that Obama's nominee for the Supreme Court vacancy Merrick
Garland has had the opportunity to support the Second Amendment on four important cases and in all four cases, he has opted to vote against affirming the right that protects all others.
Go here to read the details on all four cases.

Sunday, May 01, 2016

How many pied pipers are we going to follow off to parts unknown?

Thomas Sowell asks,
...Does Trump have conservative principles? Does he have any principles at all, other than promoting Donald Trump? A smorgasbord of political positions — none of them indicating any serious thought about complicated issues — is not a principle. Nor is cheering for himself and boasting about all the great things he is going to do as President.

Haven't we seen this movie before? Wasn't Barack Obama going to heal the racial divide, end the partisan bickering in Washington, have the most transparent administration ever, lower the cost of health care and let you keep your own doctor?

...There was absolutely nothing in Obama's track record that should have led anyone to think that he would even try to do any of the things he declared he was going to do. But why spoil a great vision, and soaring rhetoric, by checking track records?

It was bad enough for the voters to make the colossal mistake of being taken in by appearances and ignoring realities. But to repeat that very same mistake with Trump, immediately after the Obama administration, is truly staggering. How many pied pipers are we going to follow off to parts unknown?

The many betrayals of the voters by the Republican establishment, year after year, no doubt set the stage. And Trump is a great theatrical performer on any stage.

But is that enough? It has been enough politically to put some of the great demagogues of history in power, especially after the existing establishment has discredited itself.

The discredited Weimar Republic in Germany was vulnerable to the verbal attacks by Adolf Hitler that brought him to power. Now we know, too late, that Hitler turned out to be a bigger catastrophe — for Germany and the world — than the Weimar Republic.

Donald Trump is not an evil man like Hitler. But his headstrong shallowness and fecklessness make him a dangerous man to have in the White House, with our enemies around the world on the march, and developing intercontinental missiles that can deliver nuclear bombs.

For conservatives especially, there is finally a real choice for a change — and a sharp contrast with Donald Trump. Senator Ted Cruz has a track record that leaves no doubt as to his adherence to conservative principles. And he is as thoroughly versed in the issues facing this country as anyone who has run for President since Ronald Reagan.

...The outcome of this Tuesday's primaries may tell us whether the voters want to vent their feelings or to choose someone to lead the nation in a time of dangers, at home and abroad.
Read more here

Perpetuating a lie

Kristina Cook writes about the lie promulgated by Donald Trump about people not getting to vote in Colorado:
Those of you perpetuating this lie that you did not get to vote at caucus do realize that you are advocating for mandatory voting, right? Because your same logic says that those who receive a ballot in the mail and don't take the effort to turn it in also did not get to vote.

You did have the opportunity to vote - I myself cast 4 votes during the caucus process: at my precinct, my house district at county, my CD and at state. Every registered Republican has the right to participate - choosing not to do so because it isn't convenient does not mean you didn't get to vote. You had an opportunity to vote, and chose not to.

For most of the history of our country, people had to travel to vote on polling day, some of them traveling many miles to do so. And they did, because it was important to them to be involved in the process. It's only in this age of mail in balloting, this effort to facilitate drive-by politics, that anyone could state with a straight face that they were denied the right to vote by having to inconvenience themselves for one night.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Everything old is new again but closer to home

Commenter Anonosaurus Wrecks writes at Ace of Spades,
I sympathized with the Germans of the 20s because it seemed their alternatives were communism or Nazism. Now everything old is new again but closer to home.

I need one of those manure spreaders

Martin Robinson reports for Daily Mail,
An irate farmer sprayed raw sewage at Oscar winning star Emma Thompson and her sister Sophie after they flouted a court injunction protecting a fracking site.
The stars were filming a Great British Bake Off parody for Greenpeace when the owner of the field they trespassed on drove his muck spreader in circles around the demonstrators.
A group of protesters were hit by the manure but the actresses remained dry in their tent, complete with Bake Off-inspired bunting.
Police were also called and also spoke to the actresses, who climbed over a gate and set up camp on land earmarked for gas exploration in Fylde, Lancashire.

Read more here.

He's a proud Twitter Quitter

Ace of Spades writes a timely piece on avoiding distractions. Have we ever lived in a time when there were more distractions than we face in 2016? Here's Ace:
Been a month and a half, maybe, since I became a proud Twitter Quitter and several aspects of my life have improved. Less distraction = more actual time. Distracted time is crap time -- neither doing one thin nor the other; neither really working, nor really relaxing, either. The attempt to cheat work hours by mixing in zero-calorie non-entertainments (Twitter, Facebook. clickbait articles with pictures of large breasts (gets me every time) just winds up making you feel guilty about not working, and then you cheat your actual downtime by mixing in light crap that you can pretend is sort of work related (like "building your brand on Twitter") when it's really nothing of the sort.

Just leads to a bad habit of wasting work hours by doing low-quality, distracted work, and then "making up for it" by wasting leisure hours by doing low-quality, distracted leisure.

Here's another NYT article that's (sort of) vaguely about the idea of defeating a bad habit by changing your every day environments and patterns. Actually, it's about a woman who lost weight by leaving the city she had grown fat in and moving permanently to a place she had gotten thin in (in fat camp), but I think one can take it more broadly as an endorsement of the idea that bad habits need to be dehabituated.

I guess that's kind of obvious. But I read a good point, somewhere: No one can make any change by willpower. People's reservoirs of willpower are limited. The only way to make changes is to do things as a habit until they become a habit. Then just try to maintain the habit.

I guess that's not such a big distinction but I think there's something to it.
Read more here.

I am also a proud Twitter Quitter.

No "John Wayne Day" for California

The California Assembly has nixed having a "John Wayne Day." Rick Moran writes at American Thinker,
Only liberal icons can be forgiven their past sins, or their troublesome views placed in historical context. Wilson's nauseating racism can be excused because he expanded government. Martin Luther King's communist affiliations are actually celebrated by some liberals. Malcolm X's violent, eliminationist rhetoric against whites was justified. Ted Kennedy's drinking, womanizing and murder of a young girl can be forgotten because of his accomplishments in the Senate - so goes the rationale.
Read more here.

Is there any one of us, besides Donald Trump, of course, who has no need of forgiveness of our sins?

Who's on first?

This spoof is funny. Can you imagine the pressure on any president?

Related news: Will Ferrell has backed out of the proposed film making fun of Reagan's Alzheimers.
Kudos to Michael Reagan and Patti Davis for speaking out on behalf of the millions of families who have lived through the grief of having someone near and dear stricken with Alzheimers. There is nothing funny about it.

Providing value

Tom Krannawitter has
looked at a number of comments as various folks have shared the link below about Sports Authority shutting its doors. Here's what I find curious:
Many people seem quick to suggest that Sports Authority investors, shareholders, and board members, who risked much and have deep interests in the success and profitability of Sports Authority, were inclined to make very bad business decisions that led to the demise of Sports Authority.

Those same people seem to think that government meddling in the business of Sports Authority -- dictating by unconstitutional authority and bureaucratic fiat the price for labor that Sports Authority would pay -- could not possibly have any adverse affects on the profitability of Sports Authority.

I also notice that some who condemn government lobbyists as a problem, are quick to lobby government for increases in the minimum wage.

Seems the human mind is capable of holding all kinds of irreconcilable thoughts simultaneously. But that doesn't make those thoughts true.

What I do know is that running a business is hard. Very hard. Countless variables change all the time. A good week, good month, good year, can be followed by a terrible one. So much uncertainty in running a business. So much risk. So much chance. So much competition. So much pressure.

And then government comes along and says: "We are going to increase your operating expenses by force of law." That can make things only more difficult.

We know what increases in the legal minimum wage means: Those with the least skills and education and experience can't get jobs. We get it. How about if we focus instead, for awhile, on what the creation of new wealth means, how wealth is created, and how one's interests are served by working to provide value for others? What harm can it do to contemplate helping one's self not by lobbying government, but by helping others?

Donald Trump tells it like it is (except, he doesn't)

When Donald Trump tried to destroy a man for telling the truth

Michael Kruse writes for Politico,
Rehoboth Beach, Del. Sitting here the other day in the library of his house with 40 rooms, 11 fireplaces, four pianos, a wine cellar, a movie theater and an elevator, Marvin Roffman talked about the time Donald Trump tried to destroy him for telling the truth.

Roffman's 40-room house in Delaware includes 11 fireplaces and an eight-seat movie theater. | Matt Roth for Politico Magazine

“Brutal,” said Roffman, 76, wearing loafers, khaki shorts and a pink polo, his elaborate gardens and the sixth hole of the Kings Creek Country Club golf course visible through the windows.

“I’m telling you,” he said. “Trump is a brutal guy.”
This was March of 1990. Roffman was a veteran securities analyst. He had focused on the gaming industry in Atlantic City since the first casinos opened in 1978. He knew the market as well as anyone and had watched closely as Trump made a typically bold entrance with Trump Plaza and Trump’s Castle in 1984 and 1985. Now the New York real estate tycoon was about to open his third casino, by far his biggest, most lavish and most shakily financed one yet, the Trump Taj Mahal. Roffman was skeptical. He told a reporter from the Wall Street Journal the Taj would fail.

What happened next was straight out of Trump 101. The “people I don’t take too seriously,” he had written in 1987 in The Art of the Deal, “are the critics—except when they stand in the way of my projects.” Roffman was in the way. Trump bombarded him with invective, threatened to sue his employer, demanded his firing and then publicly assailed him some more. The fact that Roffman’s assessment was grounded in reality—that he would prove to be right—didn’t stop Trump from attacking Roffman. It was the reason for it.

Three days after the quote in the Journal, Roffman was fired. What happened after that, though, was unusual. In the long history of the leading Republican presidential candidate’s use of disparagement, intimidation and forceful warnings of litigation, there is no person quite like Roffman. He filed a lawsuit against Trump and won a clear victory—a fat check drawn on a Donald Trump account.

How does one beat Trump? For Roffman, it took time and money, gumption and conviction. Trump v. Roffman was a noisy, blustery harangue in the court of public opinion. Marvin B. Roffman v. Donald J. Trump and Trump Organization, Inc., on the other hand, was a longer, fact-based slog in an actual court.

“If you have a brand that strong, associated with success, power and class, that brand name must never be tarnished, ever,” Roffman told me, attempting to explain Trump’s motive for trying to ruin the life and reputation of a person he knew was right. “You must defend it. You must protect it. I was the monkey wrench in the gears. I was the monkey wrench threatening the integrity of the brand.”

...Trump was asked by the New York Post whether he considered adultery a sin. “I don’t think it’s a sin,” he said, “but I don’t think it should be done.”

He told the Journal the crush of publicity about his personal life was actually good for his bottom line, citing 1,500 requests from reporters to cover the opening of the Taj. “A divorce is never a pleasant thing,” he said, “but from a business standpoint, it’s had a very positive effect.”

Thursday, April 28, 2016

An open letter to Will Ferrell

Patti Davis, daughter of Ronald Reagan, has written an open letter here to Will Farrell, who plans to make a comedy about President Reagan in the throes of Alzheimers.

How long was your workout today?

h/t Ace of Spades

What time will your team be picking tonight in the NFL draft?

The NFL draft begins tonight at 8 p.m. Eastern time. You can watch it live on-line on ESPN. Fox Sports approximates what time each team will pick here.

One local broadcaster thinks the Denver Broncos will trade the 31st pick with the 49ers for Colin Kapernick. We'll see.
The 49ers would be trading up from the 38th pick overall.

Hillary's email server: the "why"

Monica Crowley writes at the Washington Times that someone named Justin Cooper may know the reason Hillary Clinton used the email server that had been originally set up by Bill Clinton and his team.
Mr. Cooper is a central player in the shadowy worlds of Bill and Hillary Clinton — serving as Mr. Clinton’s top aide since 2015, when his predecessor, former right-hand man and “surrogate son” Doug Band, resigned from the Clinton Foundation — yet he has largely escaped notice.

The obscure Mr. Cooper may, in fact, be the linchpin of the case swirling around the Clintons. Perhaps more than anyone apart from the principals themselves, he is at the nexus of the Clinton Foundation, Hillary’s work at the State Department, and her possession of highly sensitive government documents. After all, Mr. Cooper was the one who, before she became secretary, negotiated with the Obama White House over the parameters of acceptable conduct by Bill Clinton and the foundation to minimize the possibility of “conflicts of interest.”

I have previously reported that the server in question actually belonged to, was paid for and was housed by Mr. Clinton, raising questions about his possible legal exposure. Now it appears that it wasn’t just his server, but his team and their co-motive: to leverage Mrs. Clinton’s position as secretary to expand their contacts and raise ever more exorbitant amounts of money for their foundation.

Recall that the FBI probe is proceeding along multiple tracks. The one involving her possible mishandling of classified material is the “what” part of the equation.

Far more important, however, is the “why.” Why did she have these documents on their unsecure, private server in the first place? What was the motive for receiving and sending so many of them, deleting more than 30,000 more and changing her story several times about their nature?

Motive is the key. That brings us to another part of the investigation: possible violations of public corruption laws in the co-mingling of Clinton Foundation work with her duties at the State Department.
Read more here.

Why America First is a slogan that fits Trump

Jonathan Tobin writes at Commentary about Trump's foreign policy speech yesterday.
...even if we put it in its proper context as a pose rather than a declaration of policy, it is still worth spending a few minutes pondering the question of why a presidential candidate would embrace one of the most discredited foreign policy stances of the 20th century: America First.

As writers such as Bloomberg’s Eli Lake have pointed out, Trump’s embrace of the slogan of anti-Semitic isolationists that sought to keep America out of the war against Nazism is a curious piece of symbolism. As Lake also noted, given Trump’s support for Israel (when he’s not being neutral about its conflict with the Palestinians), the comparisons with Charles Lindbergh’s anti-Semitism are off base. Nevertheless, Trump’s willingness to trash NATO and appease Russia is reminiscent of the old isolationists. It also raises questions about the real estate mogul’s dealings with Russia as well as those of his new consigliere Paul Manafort.

Let’s also concede that there was merit to many of Trump’s criticisms of Obama on Iran and Israel. Nor can it be denied that many of the decisions of George W. Bush that he criticizes don’t hold up well to scrutiny, though Trump’s claims to have opposed the war in Iraq “for many years” are contradicted by the record and undermine his already non-existent credibility. But all of the deep dives into the contradictions in this disorganized and utterly superficial statement are missing the big picture. Trump doesn’t have a thought out foreign policy any more than he has well considered domestic stands. What he has are attitudes that go to our fears. That’s why, even if we strip away the worst of the isolationist baggage associated with America First, it is exactly the slogan that fits Trump.

Of course, every American president ought to put the country’s interest first. Even Barack Obama thinks he does that. The problem is that he believes it is in America’s best interest to both apologize for its exercise of power as well as to appease enemies and distance itself from friends (exactly what Trump seems willing to do with U.S. allies in Europe and the Pacific).

But America First resonates with a segment of the American public today for the same reason it did in 1940. At that time, Americans were afraid of the threats looming in the world. They were right to be afraid just as Americans today are right to be afraid of the threats from Islamist terror, Iran, China, and Russia.

But though Trump claims only he understands that America’s foreign policy thinking is outdated, the lessons of the 1940s are still relevant. America will never be safe if it shrugs its shoulders at dangers looming against its allies. Far from Trumpian unpredictability being a virtue, it is a grievous fault if it allows rivals and foes to think Americans have discarded the responsibilities that go with being the leader of the free world. When that happens, enemies strike. America First is correctly regarded as not merely a failure but an ideology that was completely discredited by events because the price of listening to those who appeal to such sentiments is always paid in suffering and blood. Others will pay first but inevitably Americans will also do the same. America Firsters forget that if America ceases to exercise the responsibilities that go with being the world leading democracy, it will be America that will be the loser, not just supposedly free loading allies or foes that can’t be appeased or ignored.

Trump may lack the knowledge to understand how many problems he would create where he ever to become president and act on his impulses. But he’s an expert at marketing and knows that this brand of xenophobic fear-mongering will, at least in this primary season, turn out enough votes to get him the Republican presidential nomination. Many of us will always long for a strong man who will tell us we needn’t worry about others or that we can make the world pay. Those who cry “America First,” while really meaning to hell with everyone else, will always draw a crowd no matter how self-contradictory such a stance may be. But they will always be as dangerously wrong as their predecessors.
Read more here.

Dick Morris analyzes the Cruz pick of Carly Fiorina.

He doubts it will help Cruz much in Indiana, but believes it is good for the country. He also has a warning about a United Nations end run around Congress to bring to America 200,000 Syrian refugees.
Read, watch and listen to more here.

Will Trump take the bait?

Will Trump take the Cruz bait and verbally abuse Carly Fiorina, like he did earlier in the primaries? Jonathan Tobin writes for Commentary,
...No matter what Trump says about Fiorina, it won’t discourage his core supporters. But it could halt the drift toward surrender to Trump by mainstream Republican officials and officeholders that are coming to the not unreasonable conclusion that further resistance is futile. By rendering himself toxic at a stage when he ought to be at least pretending to act in a presidential manner, it won’t help him no matter how much his fans love the insults directed at the former Hewlett-Packard CEO.

At the very least, Cruz may be giving himself another week of space to prove to his party that a Trump victory isn’t as inevitable as it seems today. Trump would be wise to keep his mouth shut about Fiorina. But that is not a skill he seems to possess. If he does take the bait, it may win some more news cycles for Cruz and slow, if not altogether halt, his progress toward a first ballot victory.
Read more here.

One college roommate sticks with Cruz

Ted Cruz in 2012 after winning a runoff election for the Republican nomination for the Senate from Texas. David Panton is over his left shoulder. Credit Johnny Hanson/Houston Chronicle, via Associated Press

Jason Horowitz reports in the New York Times,
On a break during a business trip to Washington last year, David Panton hailed a cab to take him to the Capitol. He told the driver he was going to see the Texas senator and presidential candidate Ted Cruz.

“He’s racist,” the cabdriver replied, according to Mr. Panton.

Mr. Panton, taken aback, informed his driver that Mr. Cruz had a bust of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on the right side of his desk, that he was the only senator to attend the funeral of Nelson Mandela and that he had a “black guy” as a college roommate and best man at his wedding.

“I don’t believe that,” the cabby said, as Mr. Panton tells it.

“Well,” Mr. Panton replied, “you’re talking to him.”

...But through it all, he could depend on Mr. Panton — his former roommate, debate teammate, business partner and political booster — as a source of unconditional support, the guy who extends a hand when the whole world seems to offer a stiff-arm.

“The media has caricatured Ted as this one-dimensional, hard-core guy,” Mr. Panton, 44, said with some irritation in an interview during his business trip to Washington last fall. “Ted is principled, but he is actually a good guy and was a great friend to me.”

But midway through freshman year, Mr. Cruz and Mr. Panton, who enrolled in Princeton at age 16, moved in together. “Ted and I just hit it off,” Mr. Panton said, adding that his friend schooled him on conservative politics. “Ted was very kind to me; he took an interest in what I was doing in my life and in my background.”

They both picked subjects for their senior theses while still freshmen. Mr. Cruz wrote about the Constitution’s Ninth and 10th Amendments, Mr. Panton about a Jamaican politician. They were best known around campus, and beyond, as debate partners. When Mr. Cruz was elected president of the Clio, or conservative side, of the American Whig-Cliosophic Society, the umbrella group for all of the school’s debating activities, Mr. Panton was his whip. Mr. Panton continued on to be a Rhodes scholar at Oxford and joined Mr. Cruz at Harvard Law School, where Mr. Panton, like Barack Obama before him, became president of the Harvard Law Review.

Mr. Panton and Mr. Cruz at Princeton University in 1992. Credit Daedre Levine

...“Now a major playmaker in his friend’s quest for the White House” The Jamaica Observer wrote last year, for Mr. Panton “the possibility now exists that one of Jamaica’s brightest sons could be a close friend to the most powerful human being on earth.”
Read more here.

Freedom and risk-taking

Good idea, or bad idea?

Treat him with respect! I am running to be his president as much as I am running to be everyone's president!

Why Sports Authority is throwing in the towel

Kevin Smith reports in the San Gabriel Valley Tribune that Sports Authority has decided to throw in the towel and close all its stores. When they filed for bankruptsy, they thought they could get by with just closing the stores that had been unprofitable.
In a hearing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Delaware, an attorney for the Englewood, Colorado-based sporting goods chain indicated that the only option for the company was to close all of its stores.

“It has become apparent that the debtors will not reorganize under a plan but instead will pursue a sale,” said the attorney, Robert Klyman.

Phil Lempert, a Santa Monica-based analyst of consumer behavior and marketing trends, figures consumers haven’t seen the last of major retailers shuttering. Just last week, Sport Chalet announced the closure of all 47 of its stores in California, Nevada and Arizona. That chain is based in La Cañada Flintridge.

“With the minimum wage going up to $15 an hour and more people turning to online shopping, more stores are going to close,” Lempert said. “It’s fine to say that everyone should have a living wage. But the money has to come from somewhere.”

Lempert said a growing number of retail outlets have fallen victim to “showrooming,” where customers will walk into a store, try on the shirt or jacket they like and then order it online at a significant discount.

“These stores have to look at not at how they will compete with other brick-and-mortar stores, but how they will compete with Amazon,” he said. “It’s become a holistic environment where people can buy things on their mobile phones and then have the products delivered by the time they get home.”

Matt Carlson, president and CEO of the National Sporting Goods Association, said Internet sales have fueled increased competition for brick-and-mortar retailers. And online retailers have a big advantage. Their overhead costs are far less and their customers often don’t have to pay sales tax on their purchases.
Read more here.

Can we all just be honest about it?

Talk radio may be one of the losers in this election season. There are those who clearly express their preference, yet still try to be fair to other candidates (Laura Ingraham). There are those those who pretend to be neutral, but aren't kidding anybody (Hugh Hewitt, Sean Hannity, NPR). There are those who clearly favor one candidate, and are not about to be fair to any other candidate (Mark Levin, Steve Deace, Glenn Beck, Michael Savage, Alex Jones). There are those who really are neutral, and try to be fair to all who espouse viewpoints similar to their own (Rush Limbaugh). In addition to these national shows, there are many local shows, and they have the same mix as those I have mentioned above. It doesn't take long to realize their biases. I prefer the ones who are honest about whom they are supporting, yet still try to be fair to other candidates.

Sometimes it has gotten so frustrating listening to traditional conservative talk radio that I have been driven to tune in NPR! In Colorado we have CPR, and they do a good job bringing us interesting stories, when they stay away from politics. Conservative talk radio, though, is politics all the time.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Leave the poor guy alone

Donald Trump is now ridiculing John Kasich's eating habits. I think it is unfair, don't you?

Hillary and Bernie: bad lip reading

ISIS cash, ISIS oil, and ISIS defectors

Here is an interesting article from the BBC about ISIS cash and ISIS oil and ISIS defectors.

Favorability ratings

Here is another interesting post from the Five Thirty Eight blog.
Average favorability ratings:
Obama 48%
Dems 45%
Clinton 39%
GOP 32%
Trump 30%
Congress 14%

The Four Corners theory

David Wasserman at the Five Thirty Eight blog comes up with a four corners theory to show where Trump is strongest and weakest. He has won three of the four quadrants pretty consistently. Cruz has won one of them. Read the article here.

Fearless assurance

At A Holy Experience Ann Voskamp decided to take a walk.
When the fog meandered in lost on a spring evening in April, she hung her apron up in the back mudroom.

She wandered down the back lane too.

Down in the woods, she could hear them, the frogs singing, an invisible symphony.

She knotted the one side of her skirt up to step over a pothole. She tried to make her way.

Somewhere a dog barked loud.

She looked across fields.

There’s always something barking loud in you that you need a bigger field.

A better kid, a bigger house, a greater life, a grander point.

There’s always part of you that wonders if anything you do matters enough.

And there’s always someone who makes sure you know how much smarter and wiser, bigger and better, known and greater they are.

Sometimes the way to win is to never enter the race.

She stood there listening to the frogs croaking, song filling all the spring sky.

She just stood there….

There’s no need to keep up with the Jonses’ when you are keeping company with Jesus.

When she rambled back up to the house, up to the porch, she nearly didn’t hear them, the barely cry, the hardly-ness of new hatchlings.

She stood on the step and stretched.

Up in the leaves, up in a branch by the top stair, that’s where she found them. Found them hidden, found them cupped. She could see that this was the mattering part — that in hiddenness, we are held.

She stood there, rooted there, watching and witnessing it — the hatchlings, how they opened so wide, how without a sound, they opened so wide.

She could feel it in her — her heart imitating that one movement, doing just that — soundlessly doing just that.

This is all that would ever matter —- that she opened wide so He could fill her.

She needn’t be heard…. because she was known.

The hatchlings, they held themselves in this silent, fearless assurance.

The fog settled down in the hollow, a veil hiding the woods away. Behind it somewhere the frogs sang on…

She felt found.

She would be small. She would make her life small.

There on the stairs, there by the nest of hatchlings in the deepening twilight, she looked up.

She could see it all above her —

How the stars are always small…

Hoagie cat

Ace of Spades posts a picture of a gender ambiguous cat, and asks a multiple choice question: Does this cat identify as A: A male
B. A female
C. A pure spirit untainted by gender
D. A hoagie

Answer: D. However, it should be noted the cat is a transhoagie which is biologically turkey and swiss but which identifies as capicola and ham.

How can I be a professional victim today?

Steven Crowder goes after the "silly liberal fruitcakes" and social justice warriors at Umass.

Did Hillary supporters take down Sanders’ Facebook pages?

Was there a cyber attack last night using the weapon of porn on Bernie Sanders supporters by Hillary Clinton supporters? Hot Air tries to get to the bottom of this here.

Will they really leave the country?

Donald Trump, hero of racist, feminist-hating, lesbian-hating, alpha male-adoring websites like Chateau Heartiste, is charged up today as we head into the Northeast primaries. Why? Because Lena Dunham, Rosie O'Donnell, and Whoopie Goldberg have all announced that they will leave the country if he gets elected. Trump told Fox & Friends today,
"Now I have to get elected because I'll be doing a great service to our country," he said. "Now it's much more important. In fact, I'll immediately get off this call and start campaigning right now."
Read more here.

Speaking of Chateau Heartiste, today he has a piece about What Lesbians Can Tell Us About Straight Women.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Protecting American national security or protecting Saudi Arabia?

Lee Smith writes in The Weekly Standard,
It's Obama's standard operating procedure — denigrate allies while ignoring the threats posed by adversaries. Our partners in the Middle East and elsewhere must think that Washington has lost its mind. The reality is worse — America is not able or willing to lead at this point because for the last seven years we've been governed by a man consumed with contempt for the rest of the world, and especially for America's allies.
Go here to read about what might be in the 28 classified pages from the 9-11 report.

Rigged? Not so much

Laura Carno writes in National Review about the Colorado GOP delegate nominating process, about which Donald Trump has been whining.
Twice in two days in Colorado, grassroots Republican activists upended party expectations. None of us who were there were surprised by that. In Colorado, that’s just the way it works. Stealing? Not at all. That’s democracy.

Read more here.

At Conservative Review, Robert Eno adds,
Here’s how the chairman of the Colorado GOP explained it to Conservative Review, "The four step caucus process used this year was identical to the process employed in 2012 with the exception of the non-binding straw poll being eliminated," said Colorado GOP Chairman Steve House. "The process was open to all Colorado Republicans and all campaigns had ample opportunity to encourage their supporters to attend caucus, county assemblies, Congressional Assemblies, and the State Convention."
Read more here.

Uncharted territory

The news today is that Cruz and Kasich have formed an alliance: Kasich will defer to Cruz in next week's Indiana primary, and Cruz will defer to Kasich in Oregon and New Mexico. Trump's reaction:
Because of me, everyone now sees that the Republican primary system is totally rigged. When two candidates who have no path to victory get together to stop a candidate who is expanding the party by millions of voters, (all of whom will drop out if I am not in the race) it is yet another example of everything that is wrong in Washington and our political system. This horrible act of desperation, from two campaigns who have totally failed, makes me even more determined, for the good of the Republican Party and our country, to prevail!

At the Five Thirty Eight blog, Nate Silver asks his colleagues if they think this move by Cruz and Kasich helps or hurts Trump's probability of being the nominee. Some thought it would hurt Trump, and some did not have any idea. Silver adds,
If Kasich’s goal is to maximize the chance of a contested convention, which means minimizing the number of Trump delegates, he should have pulled out of Indiana or Wisconsin of his own volition. Then again, he proved to be a pretty cheap date. Oregon and New Mexico are extremely proportional, and this deal won’t swing very many delegates there.

Having been on the skeptical side about the way the deal was rolled out — and, yes, for the record, I do think it was better for #NeverTrump than nothing — let me say one thing in its favor: It does set Indiana up as something of a #NeverTrump referendum. And Indiana is probably a slightly below-average state for Trump, so it’s not such a bad place to have such a referendum. If Trump loses Indiana, the narrative might start to grok that Trump doesn’t really have a majority of support and is only winning because of the divided field.

micah: If #NeverTrump loses Indiana, is it over?

clare.malone: California, baby.

natesilver: IMO, it would be over in the sense that the Democratic primary has been “over” for a few weeks. Not technically over, because there are way too many delegates available in California, but over in the sense that you’d need something to change and cause Trump’s polling to fall quite a bit.

micah: Which hasn’t happened to date.

harry: I think #NeverTrump must win in Indiana. If they can’t win in a state favorable to them, then no way will they pull it off in California.

micah: So this is the desperate #NeverTrump gambit? Has anything like this (on this scale) worked before?

natesilver: Well, unless Kasich were to drop out. And that’s one negative to this deal for #NeverTrump. It gives Kasich an excuse to stick around, when arguably #NeverTrump would be better off with him dropping out entirely.

...natesilver: We’re definitely in uncharted territory. I suppose the best defense of this is something like the one McCain used in picking Sarah Palin: You may as well shake things up because on various levels the status quo isn’t working. As a bonus, maybe it’ll rattle Trump, who had been unusually calm over the past couple of weeks. On the flip side, two weeks ago it looked like Cruz could probably win Indiana on his own and that California was a tossup. So the fact that this deal was made is a sign of how much Trump’s position has improved.
Read more here.
Nate Silver is the founder and editor in chief of FiveThirtyEight. @natesilver538
Harry Enten is a senior political writer and analyst for FiveThirtyEight. @forecasterenten
Clare Malone is a senior political writer for FiveThirtyEight. @claremalone
Micah Cohen is the politics editor. @micahcohen

The walk back

Rush Limbaugh pointed out today that Sean Hannity gave Donald Trump the opportunity to walk back his criticism of North Carolina's bathroom laws (limiting choices to the gender you are born with). Trump nows says, "I love North Carolina. States should be allowed to pass whatever laws they want."

Populism, authoritarianism, extraconstitutional government and the cult of personality

Have you read anything anywhere that explains the populism expressed in the popularity of Trump with Republicans and Sanders with Democrats? Neither have I. Their popularity may be rooted in a desire to speak the truth instead of the manufactured progressive truth about every subject that touches Americans. Politically correct speech and concepts are overwhelmingly false narratives. We are not all racist and sexist. We do want the U.S. to stand up for itself when being constantly taken advantage of, such as defending Europe and Asia when they won't spend the money to defend themselves. Majority rules used to be the case, but now America is governed by false moralistic narratives about the victims du jure.

Perhaps some of the populist anger is directed at the incredible amount of attention given to the social ills experienced by very small minority populations. The liberal elite have become authoritarians, who indenture bakers, florists, and photographers to create works of art for homosexual culture events. Authoritarian elites let grown males into the bathrooms, locker rooms, and showers of our daughters. Authoritarians elites issue unconstitutional executive orders when they don't get their way. Ever higher taxes, over regulation and a nanny state infringe on our freedoms more than ever. Couple that what we see on university grounds where free speech, if not in agreement with politically correct thought, is being shut down at an alarming rate.

Many writers correctly warn against the authoritarianism of Donald Trump, but few warn about the authoritarianism of Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. One who does issue such a warning is David Harsanyi at the Federalist. He writes about his own family's experience with the Holocaust.
Certainly, anti-Semitism — and Marx was a heavyweight — is often a precursor of authoritarianism. Yet not once have I heard or read Sanders push back against the rising of anti-Semitism within the progressive movement — which is flourishing, not on the Twitter fringe, but in the heart of American college campuses. For that matter, neither has “progressive” Clinton, who was part of an administration that coddled the BDS movement and helped create a nuclear Iran.

Both of these Democrats traveled to Harlem to have a sit down with anti-Semitic mob-inciter (and Trump pal) Al Sharpton. To me, and I suspect many others, he’s no better than David Duke.

So Bill Maher, Louis C.K., or “Saturday Night Live” can all equate today’s political environment to the German 1930s — a ridiculous overstatement — because they’re comedians using rhetorical excesses. (Oh, how brave they are, right?) But if Trump’s rise deserves this kind of sort of ominous warning, others do as well.

At Vox the other day, Amanda Taub took an entire chilling deep dive into the rise of “authoritarianism” without once mentioning the socialist Left. Yet, using the benchmarks of authoritarianis — strong centralized power and limited political freedoms — we can just as easily describe the modern Democratic Party’s agenda as we can Trumpism. Almost every policy position of the contemporary Left relies on some form of state coercion, mostly through Washington. It’s only relativism that blinds people to this fact.

...Liberals have spent years decimating norms of discourse. Pushing through a generational reform bill without half the country participating degrades the norms of democracy. When they lost Congress over this abuse, not only did they accuse Republicans of standing against the American people (even though the GOP kept expanding its majority) but said their position comprised nothing more than racism. Conservatives were no longer political opposition, they’re people who hate decency, democracy, the poor, the black, the infirm, America, and the system. As this thinking coagulated on the mainstream Left, Democrats had the moral justification to do what they liked.

Nearly the entire Obama presidency has been an exercise in figuring out ways to work around checks and balances. Unilaterally changing the status of millions of illegal immigrants because you can’t achieve your political goals may strike you as morally sound, but it oversteps any conception of executive power found in the Constitution. If you’re a fan of that executive action, you aren’t nervous about authoritarianism, you’re worried about how Trump would use it.

If you support a candidate like Hillary, who pushed the administration to get involved in the Libyan war without congressional approval, you’ll have little moral standing to be upset when Trump bombs people to “take their oil.” If you believe Obama has the right to assassinate suspected terrorists abroad without a trial, you have less authority to be upset when Trump threatens those associated with terrorists.

If you’re nervous about Trump’s plans to “open up” U.S. libel laws to punish journalists who unfairly attack him, I definitely join you. Unlike some people, I’ve never supported Fairness Doctrines. It’s unlikely this effort could get past the Supreme Court. Then again, consider how the First Amendment has being degraded—at every campaign stop and every speech, in fact—by Democrats who promise to undo a Supreme Court decision that bars government from dictating what people can hear, see, and read during elections.

Overturning Citizens United would allow the state in certain instances to control political books and movies—like the one that was critical of Hillary. Democrats believe Americans can be bought off with an ad buy and some flyers. The progressive Left, once home of free-speech absolutism, is now home to safe spaces, microaggressions, IRS oversight of speech, and Justice Councils ferreting out thought crimes.

Democrats would be a lot more believable on Trump’s rise if they hadn’t succumbed to the cult of personality in 2008, which was no less creepy. The attacks on dissent, the chilling of speech (remember the White House’s efforts to collect “fishy” comments from dissenters; one could easily imagine Trump setting up the same kind of system), and the accusation of unpatriotic behavior were all unhealthy for a free society. Yes, Americans are increasingly willing to accept extraconstitutional government if it accomplishes the things they desire. That includes Democrats.
Read more here.

People do not choose to take personal responsibility to become well informed and involved in our republican form of government.

There's gotta be some sweet spot

Sunday, April 24, 2016

No longer the "party of ideas?"

Tevi Troy writes in Politico,
One of the most spectacular fissures of this already dramatic political season has been the messy, public divorce of the Republican intelligentsia from the party’s suddenly energized populist voter base. As Donald Trump grips crowds and racks up delegates with a blunt nationalist message of jobs, protectionism and “winning,” true-believing conservatives—from dean of the conservative commentariat George Will, to Pete Wehner, who has worked for every GOP administration since Ronald Reagan, to Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol—have peeled off in anti-Trump directions. When National Review, the flagship magazine of modern conservative thinking, devoted an entire issue to rejecting the GOP front-runner, it felt like a separation being finalized. Trump, of course, was unfazed, saying, “You have people that are in National Review—they’re eggheads. They’re just eggheads.”

It’s easy to lay the blame at Donald Trump’s feet (after all, it’s hard to imagine another Republican candidate of the last four decades rejecting National Review so cavalierly), but this year’s split between intellectuals and the rank-and-file GOP goes beyond the front-runner. In fact, neither of Trump’s remaining rivals, Ted Cruz nor John Kasich, is particularly cozy with the conservative intelligentsia. (Think tankers tended to coalesce behind Scott Walker, Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio, who are long since out of the race.) What’s really going on is that the ideas that the conservative intellectual community has been peddling for decades have failed to appeal to an angry blue-collar voter base. What worked in Reagan’s era just doesn’t work anymore, and Trump is simply exploiting the divide.

If this divide deepens, it would mark the end of a romance between conservative intellectuals and the voters who propel their candidates into office that goes back several decades—one that has helped the GOP to win seven out of 10 the presidential elections, from Richard Nixon’s first term to George W. Bush’s 2nd. Conservative intellectuals helped build the GOP’s basic modern platform—low taxes, small government, fewer regulations, toughness on crime, and traditional values—and, more deeply, helped the party craft its image as the “party of ideas,” the one whose policy goals have largely defined the American conversation since Reagan’s presidency.

Yet, as Trump’s easy success reveals, the relationship is actual newer, and more uneasy, than most of the Right likes to think. As recently as the 1950s and 1960s, the “party of ideas” was unquestionably the Democrats—it was liberals, and liberal ideas, that defined the American policy conversation. Even the notion of a conservative intellectual was so unusual that Columbia Professor Lionel Trilling famously dismissed conservatism in 1950 as “irritable mental gestures which seem to resemble ideas.”

It was only in the 1970s that the long-standing liberal dominance in the political world started to change. The conversion came about as a result of a series of savvy decisions by presidents, starting with Richard Nixon and accelerating under Ronald Reagan. The result has been deeply influential on American politics for two generations now. And if it were to end, and do so abruptly, such a split could well reconfigure American politics for decades to come.

...Nixon and Ford started the process, but it was Ronald Reagan who fully integrated modern conservative thinking with real-world Republican politics. As a long-standing reader of National Review and other conservative magazines, Reagan was engaged in the world of conservative ideas and he was convinced that conservative intellectuals could not only frame the debate in books and in magazines, but could also serve as effective staffers carrying out policies. It was also a good time for him to be on the lookout for talent, as the growing number of conservative thinkers, many of whom were unwelcome or just uncomfortable at America’s increasingly left-leaning universities, were quickly populating conservative think tanks.

...The worldview articulated by Reagan and his intellectuals was essentially this: Government was more of a problem than a solution; the Soviet Union was a danger that needed to be confronted; traditional values should be upheld; taxes and regulations should be reduced. The worldview adhered to the philosophy of “fusionism”—a creation of Frank Meyer, who argued in the National Review, that different strands of conservative thinking, from the traditionalist to the libertarian, could come together in the service of a single goal: defeating communism. The singular vision appealed both to conservative intellectuals and to blue collar workers that Reagan was courting for votes—and united them. It was a formidable coalition.

...It was the intelligentsia that helped George W. Bush escape the lingering perception that he might be a disappointment to conservatives because of his more moderate father, George H.W. Bush. In 2000, the then-governor of Texas met with conservatives from the Hoover Institution to discuss key policy ideas for his presidential campaign. The group was impressed. Anderson, the ex-Reagan aide who helped set up the meeting, recalled thinking at one point in the meeting, “Hey, this guy’s really good,” and later helped gather conservative thinkers to flesh out policies for Bush.

As president, Bush kept up the outreach to the intellectual community. Bush White House aide Pete Wehner sent around semi-regular emails to his lengthy list of key conservative influencers. The emails, known as “Wehner-grams,” provided updates of White House thinking. The relationship went in both directions, as conservative think tanks provided ideas and support to a number of Bush administration policies, including “the surge” in Iraq, crafted in part by the American Enterprise Institute—and the marriage served him well in his 2004 reelection.

Subsequent GOP candidates John McCain and Mitt Romney had bumpier relationships with conservative intellectuals at first—both received some criticism from for being insufficiently attentive to the right. But, these candidates did succeed in winning over the bulk of the conservative world once they were leading their nomination fights. There was never the slightest possibility of a #NeverMcCain or #NeverRomney movement.

In 2016, the old model does not seem to be working. This cycle has revealed a chasm between the expectations of the GOP electorate and the conservative intellectual world. Much of this parting of the ways of course has to do with Trump, who does not appear to engage in outreach to conservative intellectuals and has few if any prominent conservative intellectuals on his team. In addition to dismissing National Review and not engaging with the think tanks, Trump has also made clear he wants to go it alone when it comes to idea generation, saying, “I’m speaking with myself, number one, because I have a very good brain.”

To be fair, though, the emerging separation with GOP intellectuals is not solely a Trump-focused phenomenon. Neither Ted Cruz nor John Kasich are exactly darlings of the intelligentsia, either—or they weren’t in the early stages of the campaign. Conservative intellectuals in this cycle were split by the largest crop of conservative candidates ever, but tended to coalesce at various times around Scott Walker, Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio, all of whom have exited the race. Having think tankers on their side did little to help those candidates connect with voters. Indeed, it could be argued that Jeb Bush’s frequent references to books he was reading may have made it more difficult for him to appeal to voters on the ground.

Today’s conservative intellectuals appear to be splintering, over Trump, over Cruz, over questions like immigration and America’s proper role in the world. If they scatter, the loss of conservative intellectuals as a somewhat unified force could mean the end of the era of the GOP as the party of ideas. The battle of ideas is already an uphill battle for Republicans, especially given Democratic advantages in the faculty lounges and in the mainstream media—and without a reliable phalanx of intellectuals to help defend it in the larger marketplace of ideas, the Republican Party would eventually lose the respect of conservative-minded voters as well, potentially dooming it to suffer long-term electoral damage or outright disintegration. This could mean that the Democrats would take the initiative in shaping the country’s policy directly for years or decades to come.

...Another scenario, one that may be emerging already, is that GOP intellectuals split, and go in different directions. We have already seen some of the most adamant #NeverTrump folks suggest that they would vote for Hillary—it’s possible that Democrats take advantage of this defection and recruit some of the top foreign policy intellectuals who signed a letter pledging never to back Trump into their party for the long-term. Such an effort could mirror the way Republicans drafted Democratic neocons like Kirkpatrick and Bennett in the 1970s and 1980s. Some “liberal-tarians”—libertarians who care about social issues more than economic ones and thereby sympathize with the Democrats—have already moved in the Democrats’ direction. Under Trump, even more could follow. Other libertarians might stick with the smaller, purer libertarian party, recognizing that while it will not win elections, it represents a purer exprehssion of their beliefs. We might also see the development of an independent conservative party that is also more concerned with policy consistency than with electoral viability.

Whichever scenario happens, conservative intellectuals need to start considering where their political allegiances lie, and the GOP base needs to do the same. The alliance that served both sides so well for so long does not appear to be working—and the party’s influence is at stake.
Read more here.