Monday, February 29, 2016

Another blot on Rubio's record?

Paul Bedard reports at the Washington Examiner,
As a member of the controversial "Gang of Eight" working up comprehensive immigration reform three years ago, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio blocked bipartisan efforts to reform the worker visa program to make sure American workers get first dibs on jobs, according to a top Senate Democrat.

At a hearing on H-1B worker visas Thursday, Sen. Richard Durbin of Illinois said that "a junior senator from Florida" fought to kill visa changes in the legislation that would have limited the ability of firms to replace American workers with cheaper foreign labor.
Read more here.

People sometimes know more than computers

Justin Pritchard reports at Associated Press,
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A self-driving car being tested by Google struck a public bus on a Silicon Valley street, a fender-bender that appears to be the first time one of the tech company's vehicles caused a crash during testing.

Google accepted at least some responsibility for the collision, which occurred on Valentine's Day when one of the Lexus SUVs it has outfitted with sensors and cameras hit the side of the bus near the company's headquarters in Mountain View, California.

No one was injured, according to an accident report Google wrote and submitted to the California Department of Motor Vehicles. It was posted online Monday.

According to the report, Google's car intended to turn right off a major boulevard when it detected sandbags around a storm drain at the intersection.

The right lane was wide enough to let some cars turn and others go straight, but the Lexus needed to slide to its left within the right lane to get around the obstruction.

The Lexus was going 2 mph when it made the move and its left front struck the right side of the bus, which was going straight at 15 mph.

The car's test driver — who under state law must be in the front seat to grab the wheel when needed — thought the bus would yield and did not have control before the collision, Google said.

While the report does not address fault, Google said in a written statement, "We clearly bear some responsibility, because if our car hadn't moved there wouldn't have been a collision."

Chris Urmson, the head of Google's self-driving car project, said in a brief interview that he believes the Lexus was moving before the bus started to pass.

"We saw the bus, we tracked the bus, we thought the bus was going to slow down, we started to pull out, there was some momentum involved," Urmson told The Associated Press.

He acknowledged that Google's car did have some responsibility but said it was "not black and white."

The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority said none of the 15 passengers or the driver of the bus was injured.

The transit agency is reviewing the incident and hasn't reached any conclusions about liability, spokeswoman Stacey Hendler Ross said in a written statement.

There may never be a legal decision on fault, especially if damage was negligible — as both sides indicated it was — and neither Google nor the transit authority pushes the case.

Still, the collision could be the first time a Google car in autonomous mode caused a crash.

Google cars have been involved in nearly a dozen collisions in or around Mountain View since starting to test on city streets in the spring of 2014. In most cases, Google's cars were rear-ended. No one has been seriously injured.

Google's written statement called the Feb. 14 collision "a classic example of the negotiation that's a normal part of driving — we're all trying to predict each other's movements."

Google said its computers have reviewed the incident and engineers changed the software that governs the cars to understand that buses may not be as inclined to yield as other vehicles.
Read more here.

Narcissistic personality disorder

Although I have a Masters degree in a mental health field, I rarely resort to the use of terms from the DSM here at this blog or anywhere else in my life. However, for the benefit of the Trump supporters who read this blog, I hereby reprint this from the Mayo Clinic blog:
Narcissistic personality disorder is a mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for admiration and a lack of empathy for others. But behind this mask of ultraconfidence lies a fragile self-esteem that's vulnerable to the slightest criticism.

Does the candidate approve of this ad? Does Canada?

Fox & Friends says all of these celebrities have said they will move to Canada if Trump is elected. Is this a Trump commercial?

"I'll fight for you!"

Altercation at Trump rally today

John Nolte reports today at Breitbart that there was an altercation between a Time reporter/photographer and a Secret Service agent at a Trump rally in Virginia. The reporter says the agent choke-slammed him to the ground. It came amidst what looks like a Black Lives Matter protest, with the crowd yelling loudly at the protesters, "Go away, Go away, Go away." Nolte posts pictures and videos, but none seem to clearly show the entire confrontation from beginning to end.
Nevertheless, once whatever happened between the two men is over, and both are standing, watch the reporter suddenly reach out and grab the Secret Service agent’s throat.
Read more here.

Scalia is gone; Thomas ends his silence

Justice Scalia has been dead for only a few days, and already Justice Thomas appears to be taking up the slack, breaking his traditional silence and aggressively questioning lawyers who were attempting to persuade the court one way or another. Sam Hananel reports in Associated Press,
Justice Clarence Thomas broke 10 years of silence and provoked audible gasps at the Supreme Court on Monday when he posed questions from the bench during an oral argument.

In a case about a federal law that bans people convicted of domestic violence from owning guns, Thomas wanted to know of any other case where breaking a law suspends constitutional rights.

And it wasn't just one question; it was a back-and-forth lasting a few minutes that stunned lawyers, reporters and others in the courtroom.

...The 10-year milestone of his courtroom silence came just days after Scalia's death. Thomas was one of only two people invited by Scalia's family to read from Scripture during the funeral Mass on Feb. 20.
Read more here.

Tomorrow we'll find out how accurate are the polls

When tomorrow's votes are counted, we'll find out how accurate are the polls. Not all of the polls are made public. Apparently there are some that are kept private, as Fredric U. Dicker reports in the New York Post. Some of these private polls even purport to show that Donald Trump beats Hillary Clinton in New York. That would be yuge!

Hollywood before political correctness

Did you know Dean Martin was a comedian? Here he outshines Johnny Carson and Bob Hope, two famous comedians. "I finally found a perfect girl. She's deaf and dumb and oversexed, and owns a liquor store!" And notice where Dean Martin kept flicking his ashes while smoking his cigarette on the show. This is show business before political correctness took over Hollywood.

Did you know George Gobel saved Oklahoma from the Japanese? While he was there training pilots, there was not one Japanese airplane that got past Tulsa!

h/t Scott Ott

White People's Choice Awards

We want opportunities! Why are we just now protesting racism in Hollywood? Because we've run out of real things to protest! Jada boycotting the Oscars is like me boycotting Rhianna's panties: I wasn't invited! Is Hollywood racist? You see all these writers and producers and actors? They don't hire blacks! They are the nicest people in the world...they're liberals!

The movie Rocky takes place in a world where white athletes are as good as black athletes! Rocky is science fiction!

Everything is not about sexism! Everything is not about racism!

Chris Rock opened the Academy awars last night with this monologue:

Roger L. Simon at PJ Media took exception to Chris's comments about cops shooting blacks:
Okay, I admit Academy membership skews ridiculously white and the ratio should be fixed. But is this a national catastrophe? Aren't there thousands of higher priorities? How about fixing racist nonsense like Chris Rock's notably unfunny joke about making the memorial section of the Oscars about cops shooting black people? C'mon, Chris, you and everybody else with an IQ in triple digits know the real problem for black people in our country, the real Tragedy with a capital T, is epidemic black-on-black violence in many of our cities. If it weren't for the cops, it would be worse. We could have our own private Syria. How about facing reality and talking about that? (I know -- not PC.)

So, yes, I did catch a little of the ceremony intermittently while multi-tasking, Chris' opening monologue and, as luck would have it, the appearance of our vice president to remind us of that other epidemic, sexual assault. (No mention of Rolling Stone on that one. As I said, wall-to-wall moral narcissism.)
Read more here.

h/t Scott Ott

Did Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz wait too long?

Marco is street-fighting with Donald Trump. Before, the only candidate he was worried about was Ted Cruz. He did not take Trump's candidacy seriously. Maybe the same can be said to a lesser extent of Ted Cruz. But at least Cruz spent the time building a ground game and a superb social media effort. Cruz has tried to elevate the debates to questions of policy. Trump supporters are convinced that Trump will make America great (strong) again. They believe they can trust Trump, because they've seen him firing people on t.v. They never heard of Cruz or Rubio before this election cycle.

Many think the election will be over after tomorrow's votes are counted. If so, it will be because other candidates did not take the Trump candidacy seriously until now.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Apple, China, and the FBI

David Pierson reports in the L.A. Times,
Apple Inc. has come out swinging in its pitched battle with the government on its home turf.

But when it comes to its second-largest market, China, the Cupertino, Calif., company has been far more accommodating.

Since the iPhone was officially introduced in China seven years ago, Apple has overcome a national security backlash there and has censored apps that wouldn't pass muster with Chinese authorities. It has moved local user data onto servers operated by the state-owned China Telecom and submits to security audits by Chinese authorities.

The approach contrasts with Apple's defiant stance against the FBI, which is heaping pressure on the company to decrypt an iPhone that belonged to San Bernardino shooter Syed Rizwan Farook.

The years-long strategy in China is paying off at a crucial time. While sales of Apple products have flatlined or declined in the U.S., Europe and Japan, business in the company's greater China region continues to soar — to a record $59 billion last year. The Asian giant surpassed the U.S. last year as the No. 1 buyer of iPhones and could one day be the largest market for Apple Pay, the mobile payment platform that was rolled out for Chinese consumers last week.

But there's no guarantee the good times will continue rolling for Apple. Beijing is increasingly tightening the screws on foreign technology companies, having introduced strict laws aimed at policing the Internet and digital hardware.

The environment will get even tougher, Apple says, if the FBI prevails in seeking a so-called backdoor to Farook's phone. That could set a precedent for China's authoritarian leaders to demand the same in a country where Apple has never publicly defied orders.

"What's driving this is Apple's desire to persuade the global market, and particularly the China market, that the FBI can't just stroll in and ask for data," said James Lewis, senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. "I can't imagine the Chinese would tolerate end-to-end encryption or a refusal to cooperate with their police, particularly in a terrorism case."
Read more here.

The protected people who govern us

You don't very often see Glenn Reynolds give lengthy quotes at Instapundit. Today he made an exception, by giving this lengthy quote from a recent Wall Street Journal opinion column by Peggy Noonan. Maybe he did it for us because the WSJ now requires you to subscribe in order to read an article.

I like Peggy's use of the words protected and unprotected. Usually people use words like elites or establishment, but I think protected is a more accurate term.
There are the protected and the unprotected. The protected make public policy. The unprotected live in it. The unprotected are starting to push back, powerfully.

The protected are the accomplished, the secure, the successful—those who have power or access to it. They are protected from much of the roughness of the world. More to the point, they are protected from the world they have created. Again, they make public policy and have for some time.

I want to call them the elite to load the rhetorical dice, but let’s stick with the protected.

They are figures in government, politics and media. They live in nice neighborhoods, safe ones. Their families function, their kids go to good schools, they’ve got some money. All of these things tend to isolate them, or provide buffers. Some of them — in Washington it is important officials in the executive branch or on the Hill; in Brussels, significant figures in the European Union — literally have their own security details.

Because they are protected they feel they can do pretty much anything, impose any reality. They’re insulated from many of the effects of their own decisions.

One issue obviously roiling the U.S. and Western Europe is immigration. It is the issue of the moment, a real and concrete one but also a symbolic one: It stands for all the distance between governments and their citizens.

It is of course the issue that made Donald Trump.

Britain will probably leave the European Union over it. In truth immigration is one front in that battle, but it is the most salient because of the European refugee crisis and the failure of the protected class to address it realistically and in a way that offers safety to the unprotected.

If you are an unprotected American—one with limited resources and negligible access to power—you have absorbed some lessons from the past 20 years’ experience of illegal immigration. You know the Democrats won’t protect you and the Republicans won’t help you. Both parties refused to control the border. The Republicans were afraid of being called illiberal, racist, of losing a demographic for a generation. The Democrats wanted to keep the issue alive to use it as a wedge against the Republicans and to establish themselves as owners of the Hispanic vote.

Many Americans suffered from illegal immigration—its impact on labor markets, financial costs, crime, the sense that the rule of law was collapsing. But the protected did fine—more workers at lower wages. No effect of illegal immigration was likely to hurt them personally.

It was good for the protected. But the unprotected watched and saw. They realized the protected were not looking out for them, and they inferred that they were not looking out for the country, either.

The unprotected came to think they owed the establishment — another word for the protected — nothing, no particular loyalty, no old allegiance.

Mr. Trump came from that. . . . You see the dynamic in many spheres. In Hollywood, as we still call it, where they make our rough culture, they are careful to protect their own children from its ill effects. In places with failing schools, they choose not to help them through the school liberation movement—charter schools, choice, etc.—because they fear to go up against the most reactionary professional group in America, the teachers unions. They let the public schools flounder. But their children go to the best private schools.

This is a terrible feature of our age — that we are governed by protected people who don’t seem to care that much about their unprotected fellow citizens.

A male Kim Kardashian

Today I was stunned to talk with a friend about the presidential race. This friend is an NPR listener, and a PBS viewer. Who is he backing? Donald Trump! Why? Because Trump wants to "salvage white American culture!" I was shocked, because I had never thought of my friend as racist. I have seen him be a good friend to African immigrants he works with.

Eliot Cohen writes in The American Interest about the "moral rot" that has produced the Trump phenomenon.
Old-fashioned words like integrity, selflessness, frugality, gravitas, and modesty rarely rate a mention in modern descriptions of the good life—is it surprising that they don’t come up in politics, either?

...There are other traces of rot. They can be seen in the excuses that political leaders and experts have begun to make as they cozy up to Trump. Like French bureaucrats in the age of Vichy, or Italian aristocrats in the age of Mussolini, they are already saying things like: “I can make it less bad,” “He’s different in private,” “He has his good points,” “He is evolving,” and “Someone has to do the work of government.” Of course, some politicians—Chris Christie, that would be you—simply skip the pretense and indulge in spite or opportunism as the mood takes them.

...The rot is cultural. It is no coincidence that Trump was the star of a “reality” show. He is the beneficiary of an amoral celebrity culture devoid of all content save an omnipresent lubriciousness. He is a kind of male Kim Kardashian, and about as politically serious.He is a kind of male Kim Kardashian, and about as politically serious. In the context of culture, if not (yet) politics, he is unremarkable; the daily entertainments of today are both tawdry and self-consciously, corrosively ironic. Ours is an age when young people have become used to getting news, of a sort, from Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert, when an earlier generation watched Walter Cronkite and David Brinkley. It is the difference between giggling with young, sneering hipsters and listening to serious adults. Go to YouTube and look at old episodes of Profiles in Courage, if you can find them—a wildly successful television series based on the book nominally authored by John F. Kennedy, which celebrated an individual’s, often a politician’s, courage in standing alone against a crowd, even a crowd with whose politics the audience agreed. The show of comparable popularity today is House of Cards. Bill Clinton has said that he loves it.

American culture is, in short, nastier, more nihilistic, and far less inhibited than ever before. It breeds alternating bouts of cynicism and hysteria, and now it has given us Trump.

The Republican Party as we know it may die of Trump. If it does, it will have succumbed in part because many of its leaders chose not to fight for the Party of Lincoln, which is a set of ideas about how to govern a country, rather than an organization clawing for political and personal advantage. What is at stake, however, is something much more precious than even a great political party. To an extent unimaginable for a very long time, the moral keel of free government is showing cracks. It is not easy to discern how we shall mend them.
Read more here.

Trump vows to make changes in First Amendment libel laws that protect the media

Firing Americans, but first forcing them to train the foreign workers who will replace them

Former Disney worker testifies before Congress about how Disney replaced him with a foreign worker, requiring him first to train the foreign worker or else lose his severance pay.

Bill Clinton tells vet to shut up and listen

Well this is one Clinton rally you will not see on any of the networks. A marine vet who did 8 years in Iraq tries to talk Benghazi with Bill Clinton. The Democrats in attendance shout him down and Bill Clinton tells him to shut up. The vet is removed from the gymnasium, but then a woman takes the mike and continues what the vet started.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Reporter discovers a shooting range in Reno

I found this humorous.

Lacking temperament and experience

Last August Chris Christie walked along the Jersey shore with Greta VanSustern. Greta asked him about Donald Trump. Christie answered,
"Donald's a great guy and a good person. But I just don't think that he's suited to be president of the United States," he told Fox News host Greta Van Susteren as they walked along the Jersey Shore."Donald's a great guy and a good person. But I just don't think that he's suited to be president of the United States," he told Fox News host Greta Van Susteren as they walked along the Jersey Shore.

He added: "I don't think his temperament is suited for that and I don't think his experience is."
Read more here.

Not voting, or voting third party

Thinking about voting third party if your candidate does not win the GOP nomination? Or not even voting at all? My friend Curt Dale has some thoughts on that subject:
By Curt Dale
Peoplel People! Identify the "enemy!" I'm wishin' I could bat slap a lot of Republicans, who should know better, but are doing far more damage to the viable candidates running in the Republican Primaries and Caucuses they they are doing to HIL-LIAR-Y and Bernie. Am I thrilled with the GOP pretenders to the throne? Not until I compare them to the Democrats--HIL-LIAR-Y and Bernie! Then I see them all in a very different light.

Why don't we stand down from beating our own candidates to death in the Primaries and start, right now, bashing HIL-LIAR-Y with her own baggage: Benghazi Treason, Bill's zipper, Whitewater Gate, Libya, Syria, EMAIL TREASON, The Clinton Foundation scams, and scores of other travesties that are important.

But, NO! Here we are worrying about whether Cruz is lying about Rubio , Rubio lying about Cruz, Trump lying about Rubio and Cruz, and Cruz and Rubio Lying about Trump. Who cares? They are politicians, but they are our politicians.
Compared to Benghazi and the Email treason HIL-LIAR-Y has foisted on us, these three "boys" should have their mouths washed out with soap. Get serious people. The enemy is inside the gate and that enemy is HIL-LIAR-Y and Bernie, nation destroying Socialists. Let's let Trump, Cruz and Rubio fight their fight, and then gather around the one who is still floating when Convention arrives. We don't have the luxury of pontificating about voting for Third Party as a protest vote. That is such a specious argument it is pitiful. Protest HIL-LIAR-Y and Bernie. Any one of these three GOPs still standing is a saint by comparison to those two crumbums.

Good men and women died on the fields of battle to secure the rights of voting for us, for you. Don't make a mockery of their sacrifice. With 27 years of military service, three tours in Vietnam,17 years of it on Combat Crew of one sort or another in the Cold War, I literally take it personally when I hear them talking of throwing away their vote as a protest.

I have a whole list of dear friends and comrades to arms who did not survive to come home, including family who died in the various wars. I've been to The Wall, the WWII Memorial,The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the Monument of the Great War, and the Korean War Memorial. I am apalled to hear these witless reasons for not voting for someone who at least has a possibility of being a worthy Commander in Chief. I see the casual tossing away of that vote as no better than Hanoi John Kerry's grandiose action of years ago when he tossed his Vietnam War Medals over the wall at the Capitol. He then resurrected them when he ran for President. Isn't tossing away a viable vote just a reckless and meaningless?

Oh, they sound so poised and righteous, so self-justified and pompous--making their vote all about themselves, and not about America. I served under Carter and LBJ. They were terrible, but they were geniuses compared to Boobama; I'm thinking HIL-LIAR-Y and Sanders will be even worse than the Boob.

Pick up the flag, People! It has fallen! Yes, I'm just a patriotic ol' hick from the hollers of West Virginia, but I know patriotism, and it's not wasting a vote in protest when there's a choice that just might be better if elected than the Socialist scum who will benefit from that thrown-away vote.
Colonel Curtis D. Dale, PhD, USAF (Ret)

Now it is about to turn nasty

I don't see this story on the Drudge Report, but Matt Drudge links to it on his Facebook page. It is about Marco Rubio's past, hinting that he may have experimented with homosexuality. Interesting that this comes out the day after Rubio goes after Donald Trump.

What do his supporters say that they like so much about Donald Trump

Krista Kafer is a communications professor at Colorado Christian University, and the co-host of a talk radio show on 710 KNUS. She wrote a piece this month in the Federalist identifying the kinds of communication she has received from Trump supporters:
Angered by Politicians’ Betrayal
Trump supporters are angry, but not because they are pathological or xenophobic. They work hard and play by the rules, but for their efforts face wage stagnation and loss of work.

...Anger and fear are powerful motivators. Fear of losing something, be it security, employment, or even national prestige, induces psychological reactance, that fierce drive to keep what is ours. Those who know how to harness this fear of loss wield a powerful weapon of influence, according to PhD Robert B. Cialdini.

Pride is another powerful motivator in persuasion. Trump is unambiguously and unapologetically pro-America.
...Trump champions the American values of success, boldness, optimism, and pragmatism. After seven years of snide remarks from the Left about America’s intolerance and greed, Trump’s rhetoric is fresh air.

We Love Straight Talk — Unless It Criticizes Us
Our listeners who support Trump do not differentiate between politically incorrect and egregiously rude. I’ve asked them more than once, “Does a grown man caught mocking another man’s disability for cheap laughs have the maturity to handle the nuclear codes?” They shrug it off: “He’s just a little rough around the edges like George Patton. Lighten up.” They often call him the “alpha dog.” Apparently that entitles him to hump everyone else.

A Bully Who Fights for Us
Neither words, nor actions shake Trump followers’ support—not marital infidelity, bankruptcies, eminent domain abuse, donations to Democrats, support for special interest subsidies, liberal policy preferences, nothing. One Trump supporter answered every objection I raised with, “I don’t care; he’ll make America great again.”

Some Trump supporters actually consider his unethical and opportunistic behavior as desirable.
Finally, I asked, “If I vote for Trump knowing he lacks the character to be president, how am I any different than a Democrat who supports Hillary Clinton for her positions but knows she’s lacks the character for the job?” His answer was, not kidding, “Because Trump will make America great again.”

In fact, some Trump supporters actually consider his unethical and opportunistic behavior as desirable. In their minds, Trump isn’t just a bully; he’s their bully.

Media Exposure Feeds Trump’s Power
The obnoxious behavior has also advantaged Trump because it puts him in the news nearly every day. Repeated exposure to a person increases his influence, according to Cialdini.

Conservatism Is Less a Concern than Effectiveness
Trump supporters are not particularly conservative. I have yet to hear a Trump follower or Trump himself say anything about limited government, constitutional constraints, rule of law, free markets, federalism, or separation of powers. In fact, several of his proposals, vague as they are, appear to violate the very tenets of conservativism.
Krista concludes,
Without principle, there is only power, and politics is merely an effort to get as much as you can for you and yours. Trump is an offensive demagogue whose deft use of communication tactics put him in the lead, yet he and his followers aren’t all that different than some of their more genteel peers.
Read more here.

Saudi Arabia wins a temporary victory over American fracking com[panies

Zero Hedge brings us
news that North Dakota's largest producer, Whiting Petroleum, would suspend all fracking, and that Continental Resources has effectively done the same after reporting that it no longer has any fracking crews working in the Bakken shale.

...The Denver-based company said it would stop fracking and completing wells as of April 1. Most of its $500 million budget will be spent to mothball drilling and fracking operations in the first half of the year. After June, Whiting said it plans to spend only $160 million, mostly on maintenance.

Rival producers Hess Corp and Continental Resources Inc have also slashed their budgets for the year, though neither has cut as much as Whiting.

...One thing is certain: the cuts will drag down production and likely reverberate in the economy of North Dakota, the second-largest U.S. oil producing state after Texas, which currently pumps 1.1 million barrels per day. It means that after the 250,000 oil workers already laid off (according to Credit Suisse estimates), tens of thousands of new pink slips to highly paid workers are about to be handed out.
Read more here.

Dream scenario

Here's Ace on Rubio and Cruz doubleteaming on Trump last night:
What Mario just did to the Donald is illegal in 28 states. I have to give it to the Robot: When Robots go berserk, they can do a tremendous amount of damage, and Rubio the Robot just went into Terminator mode.

He had people laughing at Trump. That's a tough thing. You can absorb a criticism, but you can't easily absorb being made a figure of amusement. Especially someone like Trump, who's entire strategy is to project invincibility and inevitability to disguise the fact he really has no idea what he's talking about.

Puncture that, and you've mortally wounded him.

Of course, it's pretty obvious now that Cruz and Rubio agreed beforehand to double-team Trump. They have him in the Malachi Crunch, and Trump is no Fonzie. He's trying to escape the crunch, but he's getting smashed to hell.

The Champ had a glass jaw all along. The key, it turns out, was that you just couldn't have one guy punching at it. Trump's quick-answer-bluster was enough of a defense against one punch.

But not against two.

...My dream scenario is this: Trump finally starts going after Rubio, on immigration and amnesty, badly hurts Rubio (as Cruz was badly hurt the last couple of weeks), but Trump himself is also hurt by this performance, and My Man Ted sneaks up in the polls.
Read more here.

Did Trump hire a foreign worker to do his tweets?

Today Rubio continued his attack on Trump.

A dealmaker trying to make a sale

Ace of Spades writes today,
My problem with Trump is that he is a dealmaker trying to make a sale. Right now he's trying to make a deal with conservatives -- so this is the very most conservative we'll ever see him.

If he gets the nomination, he now starts working on making the second part of the deal with the other party in the negotiations, the general public.

So this is the most conservative we'll ever see Trump -- this is the absolute most conservative he'll ever be -- and he's not conservative at all, except, possibly, on immigration. He combines liberal policy impulses with frankly authoritarian or even fascist ones, which he thinks are "what conservatives want," because, frankly, he conceives of us as ugly-minded, stupid dummies who get off on this shit.

...What does Trump actually know about conservatives? He seems to only know five things, which he repeats in such crude ways it's preposterously insulting. Apparently we "love Jesus," so he says he does too. He knows we love guns, so he's so in love with the Second Amendment he wants to make out with it.

...He knows we love babies and hate abortions, so he's reversed himself from being "very, very pro-choice" and even supporting partial birth abortion to being so against abortion you couldn't believe it.

He knows we love the military, so he proclaims himself, seriously, the most "militaristic" guy you've ever met. Then sometimes he talks about "bombing the shit" out of people to appease the hawks, and other times about a Ron Paul style isolationism, to appease his substantial Paulite wing.

...But while this guy has blundered across a couple of Big Truths, he is just dead wrong on too much, and entirely too emotional, unfocused, and reationary to be president.

So down with Trump, but long live parts of Trumpism.

We just need someone capable of coherent persuasion to adopt them.
Read more here.

Joking about murdering Ted Cruz

Lindsey Graham spoke at the Washington Press Club's 72nd Congressional dinner Thursday evening.

Graham, described by PJ Media's John Walsh as John McCain's mini-me, said, "If you killed Ted Cruz on the floor of the Senate, and the trial was in the Senate, nobody would convict you."

You don't think western civilization is in decline?

Nicole Wakelin reports in Fashionably Geek,
These crocheted shorts are handmade by Etsy seller Schuyler Ellers using recycled materials. Each pair is custom made so you get to help with the design. You can specify the approximate length and even give ideas for the colors and pattern if you choose.

h/t Peter Schweizer

On vulgarity

Last night Trump said the former Mexican President used a filthy, disgusting word in saying he would not pay for the wall Trump wants to build. What is half the f-word ("fucking")? Here is President Obama catching himself just in time:

h/t Ann Althouse

A man who knows where his bread is being buttered

Jonathan Tobin writes in Commentary about the Christie endorsement of Trump:
...The alliance between the two will be analyzed over the coming days mostly in terms of their not dissimilar personalities. Unlike the businessman, Christie has a record of political accomplishment. But they share a truculent style in which abuse of critics and shouting down rivals is their preferred form of discourse.

...Just as he only spoke of himself rather than his party’s nominee when he gave the keynote address at the 2012 Republican National Convention, now, too, he is merely thinking of a chance to get ahead.

...That a pair of northeastern moderates should now be in position to seize control of a deeply conservative party with its base in the south and the west is a bizarre turn of events that no one could have predicted. Rubio and Cruz battered Trump and exposed him as an incoherent scandal-ridden demagogue out of touch with the views of most Republicans at Thursday night’s debate. But it’s not clear that will change many minds. It remains to be seen whether conservatives have a sufficient answer to Trump’s coup that will enable them to prevent Trump from sweeping to more victories next Tuesday.
Read more here.

"That's who I am"

A preference cascade?

Are we witnessing a "preference cascade" for Donald Trump in America and for "Brexit" in Britain? Glenn Reynolds defines that concept in his USA Today column, and concludes,
It used to be, of course, that the lower and middle classes were stuffy and constrained by social convention while the freethinkers at universities and in the ruling class got to experiment with unconventional ideas. If their experimenting got enough success, then it might eventually filter down to ordinary people. (The sexual revolution worked this way, more or less).

But now it’s our ruling class that is hidebound by political correctness, and it takes movement by the masses to give it permission to express a controversial view. That’s a major change, and it’s one that the ruling class isn’t likely to appreciate much. But having subjected itself to the chains of “acceptable” opinion, what can it do?
Read more here.

Not so macho after all

Christopher Buckley says
No homosexuals were harmed during the re-recording of this broadcast...
Donald's South Carolina victory speech. No words were changed.

Free market capitalism

Is anyone following what's happening in Venezuela? Hello Bernie Sanders fans?

h/t Christopher Buckley

Bananas, the one fruit always affordable

Not true, by the way, the warning about not putting bananas in the refrigerator.

h/t Christopher Buckley, in honor of Telemundo's unsuccessful efforts to embarrass Marco Rubio last night

Hit the floor, and crawl to daddy

Are we all supposed to feel the tingle in our fingers, get aboard the rhythm of life, and vote for Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton? I don't think so!

Nevertheless, this piece from Sweet Charity was beautifully done. Hat tip to Christopher Buckley.

A Rubio/Kasich ticket, with Cruz in Supreme Court?

For weeks Town Hall's Guy Benson has been trying to sound the alarm about the possibility of a Trump presidency. He is recommending Rubio. He quotes from Ross Douthat, who recommended Rubio/Kasich, with a promise to Ted Cruz that he will get the Supreme Court nomination.
So there you have it: A barely-plausible desperation heave toward the endzone with Team Trump playing prevent defense (which, for him, includes taking lots of potshots). President Rubio, Vice President Kasich, and Justice Cruz -- with a primetime convention speech from Dr. Ben Carson, detailing his remarkable life story and path to improbable achievement. That's not how many people would have drawn things up at the onset of this cycle, but here we are. Much is on the line for those of us who believe the country cannot afford a Hillary Clinton presidency -- which I truly believe a Trump nomination would usher in, despite occasional doubts and cross-currents. Sure, there are a thousand fair objections to the scenario I've laid out. I'm not entirely sold on it myself, to be candid. I'm not reflexively hostile to other theories and scenarios (such as the state-by-state strategic voting plan to try to force a contested convention, or a Rubio/Cruz or Cruz/Rubio unity ticket), but this is the one I've settled on. And there's no time to wallow in endless debate. A moment of truth is upon us. Right now. Either Trump's opponents and their supporters will set egos and preferences to the side in pursuit of a common end, or the outcome they claim to abhor will come to fruition. Which is precisely why I've chosen to speak out. Based on the delegate math, the unforgiving calendar, and the exceedingly high stakes at play, my choice has been made for me: It will either be Trump or Rubio, and I choose Rubio. I urge you -- which sounds better than 'beg you' -- to consider joining me in this call. There's no time to waste.
Read more here.

Getting crowded in the bully pulpit

Chris Christie trips the scales back in Trump's favor. Is Christie looking for a cabinet post as Secretary of Stopping Transportation?

Rubio is feeling it! Ridicules Trump this morning.

Why has Christie endorsed Trump?

So why has Chris Christie endorsed Donald Trump this morning? Because Trump could not handle Marco Rubio last night, and has therefore brought in the bully Christie who handled Rubio in earlier debates? Is Christie looking for a spot in the Trump administration?

Breaking News: Chris Christie endorsing Donald Trump!

Nick Gass reports in Politico,
Chris Christie announced his endorsement of Donald Trump on Friday in Fort Worth, Texas.
"I am proud to be here to endorse Donald Trump for president of the United States," he said, noting his relationship with the candidate's family.
Story Continued Below
"He's a real talent," Trump said, before receiving the endorsement.

Maggie Haberman reminds us in the New York Times,
But his backing of Mr. Trump comes after weeks of him saying that it was time for the “entertainment” portion of the race to end, and as he had said that the type of executive leadership that a governor has is important.
Read more here.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Tonight's debate

The final debate before Super Tuesday has ended, and it was the best debate so far. I think Cruz had his best debate tonight. Rubio had a good night. Kasich had by far his best debate, effectively portraying himself as a problem solver. Trump did not criticize Kasich or Carson, which tells me that he is hoping to get the votes of their supporters when and if they drop out of the race. Carson had a good night. He is for liberty and justice for all, and fairness. He also had one of the funniest lines of the night: "Can somebody attack me, please?" He wanted more air time, as he had since the beginning of these debates. However, air time goes to those who are getting the most votes, so it's a Catch 22 for Carson.

Trump resorted to calling Cruz a liar and Rubio a choke artist, because Rubio and Cruz ganged up on Trump, effectively revealing his many inconsistencies. Anyone who confronts Trump gets smeared. He didn't like a question from Hugh Hewitt, so he then pointed out that Hewitt's radio audience is comparatively small. Narcissists cannot stand not to be admired.

On the other hand, prior to this current campaign Rubio sent Trump a copy of Rubio's book, with words of praise for Trump's business success, so Trump refrained from criticizing Rubio at that time. Now it's a different story, since Rubio is pointing out Trump's inconsistencies, Trump calls him a choke artist, and his criticisms will only increase if Rubio continues to point out Trump's inconsistencies.

Rubio seemed to be the crowd favorite, often getting the biggest applause. He started the attacks on Trump, and Cruz jumped in with his own loaded weapon, a brilliant mind that includes a brilliant memory. Rubio threw right back in Trump's face the allegation that Trump was committing the previous Rubio "crime" of repeating himself. Remember when Trump effectively branded Rubio with that line in New Hampshire? I would say that Rubio did much tonight to recover from that wound. He also pointed out that Trump has hired many illegal immigrants, which would certainly seem to contradict Trump's current ideas about illegal immigration.

I thought Cruz was very effective when he agreed with Trump's criticism of Cruz that he was not a deal maker, which Trump clearly is. In doing so, Cruz also made points against Rubio for making deals with the likes of Chuck Schumer.

It will be good for Donald Trump's health that he is no longer going to eat Oreos because Nabisco is moving resources to Mexico. I have my doubts, though, that many Americans will follow Trump's lead on that one. We're hooked on Oreos.

Trump now says he will defund Planned Parenthood, but still maintains Planned Parenthood does a lot of good for the health of women in this country. Speaking of health, it looks to me that Kasich and Carson have the best ideas of how to replace Obamacare.


Okay, we are at the intermission time in the debate. It has been the best debate so far, in my opinion. I am happy that Rubio and Cruz are going after Trump. Rubio does it in conversational tones, Cruz less so, but both have been effective in raising questions about Trump's actual policies. Kasich has had a good night, urging candidates to solve problems and refrain from gotcha remarks.

Trump sometimes resorts to lies, as when he accused Cruz of being "in charge of amnesty!"

Opening bell of tonight's debate

George H.W. Bush doesn't look so good.

Did you notice How much slower Donald Trump was than the other candidates in walking onto the stage? Is he that much more relaxed than the others?

Cruz got the biggest hand here in his home state of Texas (and his home city of Houston).

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Political chameleon

Misplaced anger

At The Blaze Matt Walsh addresses the stereotypical Trump fan:
I’m just telling it like it is here, friend. I’m telling you what’s on my mind. I’m being completely and painfully honest with you. I don’t believe your anger. I think you want a spectacle, not a solution. A celebrity, not a statesman. A circus performer, not a leader. I think you want to be entertained. I think you’re not taking this seriously enough. I think you’re intellectually lazy so you’ve accepted authoritarianism as a stand-in for strength. I think you’re following the trend of the day. I think you’re wrapped up in media hype.

In other words, I think your anger, if it exists, is misplaced. You should be angry at yourself, because if this country falls finally and irrevocably into despotism, it’ll be your fault. You’ll have chosen it. You’ll have elected it and applauded it. That, my friend, is what makes me angry.

And that’s just how it is.
Read much more here.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Sewed up?

Apparently Drudge believes Trump now has the nomination sewed up, after his third consecutive state win in Nevada tonight. He titled this photo "The Nominee."
Read more here.

Lab Grown Testicles Give New Hope

Duffle Blog reports that
The Army is offering new hope to young officers by providing a group of volunteers an experimental new therapy, sources say. Doctors at Walter Reed Medical Center’s brand new Center for Testicular Fortitude have begun implanting testicles, grown from tissue samples donated by former platoon sergeants, in a clinical trial that is being closely watched by E-6s throughout the Army.

Read more here.

Overcompensate much?

Historians Jonathan Mayo and Emma Craigie have discovered that Adolph Hitler suffered from a condition called hypospadias, which left him with an abnormally small penis as well as having just one testicle.

h/t Blazing Cat Fur and Adrienne's Corner

Oppressive patriarchy?

Chateau Heartiste has a post showing how divorce laws favor women.

Ten years in prison for pleasuring himself?

According to the Smoking Gun website, this South Carolina police officer was arrested after being caught masturbating while on duty.
Pictured above, Hardin has been charged with misconduct in office, a felony carrying a maximum 10-year prison term. Hardin, who is free on bond, is no longer a member of the Camden police force.

This seems a bit harsh. How about mandatory addiction counseling?

Don't be telling this woman she can't smoke on the bus

A New York City bus driver asked a passenger to stop smoking. She refused. The driver left his keys in the ignition while evacuating all of his passengers onto another bus. The smoker, a former bus driver herself, who had been fired, took the bus on a three block joy ride, until other buses blocked her.

Read more here.

Will Wi-Fi be replaced by Li-Fi?

Have you heard of Li-Fi? Laure Fillon reports for Yahoo News that
Connecting your smartphone to the web with just a lamp -- that is the promise of Li-Fi, featuring Internet access 100 times faster than Wi-Fi with revolutionary wireless technology.

French start-up Oledcomm demonstrated the technology at the Mobile World Congress, the world's biggest mobile fair, in Barcelona. As soon as a smartphone was placed under an office lamp, it started playing a video.

The big advantage of Li-Fi, short for "light fidelity", is its lightning speed.
Read more here.

Long lines in Nevada

Twichy is reporting very long lines of voters trying to get in to Nevada caucus sites. Some are running out of ballots! Go here to read the stories and see many photos of the long lines.

STDs, HIV now okay

Did you know that the Obama administration now lets into America illegal immigrants carrying STD, and HIV? Paul Bedard reports at the Washington Examiner,
"Despite the declaration that HIV was no longer a communicable disease of public health significance, the CDC estimates that approximately 50,000 people in the United States are newly infected with HIV each year and that over 1.2 million persons in the country are HIV positive. The United States has the highest prevalence of HIV infection of any developed country," said CIS in a report released at midnight.

The HHS rule change is set to take place in less than 60 days. HHS said that there are other diseases that demand their focus.
Read more here.

Self-driving ground drones make deliveries in London

The newest drones are on the ground.

Unlike robots designed to resemble humans, the Starship’s bot is purely functional with a large compartment to hold deliveries, the equivalent size of two grocery bags. MailOnline tested the unnamed robots at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona (pictured)

Gian Volpicelli For Mailonline and Sarah Griffiths In Barcelona For Mailonline report,
The iconic mopeds of delivery drivers everywhere are set to be ousted by 'ground drones' that can navigate city streets by themselves.
After more than 3,000 hours of testing in London, Starship Technologies' delivery bots are scheduled to start local deliveries in Greenwich next month.

The robot was invented by Skype co-founders Ahti Heinla and Janus Friis who hope their machine will be appealing for small businesses who could send up to 20lbs of goods to local customers.

Read more here.


Victor Davis Hanson admits that
The so-called Republican war on women was successful Democratic demagoguery in 2008 and 2012. That paranoid mythmaking worked with urban, unmarried young women.

...Yet Hillary has now lost that long-enshrined wedge issue after only 24 hours of Donald Trump’s withering counter-fire—in stark contrast to past years of failed Republican counter-strategies. Trump assumed that her problem was not just that Bill Clinton had been a recognized serial womanizer and cheat for over forty years, but involved far greater hypocrisies. First, it was hard to find any sexual liaison of Bill’s that ever had a good word to say about him. The consensual Monica Lewinsky variety all felt used and manipulated. The Juanita Broaddrick-Paula Jones-Kathleen Willey category alleged that they were victims of crude coercion or violent assault.

Bill was not, then, the garden-variety beltway philander, but in a special uncouth class that might have won him an indictment without his political immunities. It is bad enough for Hillary to be married to a serial skirt-chaser, but quite worse to have a husband hop on convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein’s Lolita Express jet.

Second, unfortunately for Hillary, Bill chose to reappear on the campaign trail. (Does he suffer from some repressed psychological tic to sabotage his wife’s candidacy?) His wraith-like, Dorian-Gray appearance unfortunately reminds us that his sexual roguery and mendacity are now visibly imprinted on his face. The Romans had a word, effututus, for someone of Bill’s past history and present visage. In other words, voters are daily reminded of Hillary’s sexual hypocrisy by Bill’s daily ubiquity.

Third, Hillary and others have helped redefine current sexual harassment in far broader terms. Thus unwittingly Hillary has only highlighted Bill’s shenanigans, posing the question: How could such a feminist icon stay married to such a retrograde sexual predator? Had Bill stayed at his mansion or kept to his transoceanic frolicking, his escapades might have been out of sight and out of mind, not constant reminders of how a new generation of women has redefined those like Bill Clinton into pariah status.

Fairly or not, Hillary Clinton’ populist progressive war on Wall Street is another dead end. Every time she screeches about making Wall Street pay, voters wonder to whom and for what. According to Hillary’s logic, she only gets what Wall Street currently pays or does not pay to other former secretaries of State on the lecture tour. So does Madeleine Albright earn $250,000 for 20-minute chats to Goldman Sachs?

In this year of the so-called outsider, the consummate insider Clinton is also running as a populist renegade. That façade too is a dead-end proposition—unless voters believe that outsiders are not only (consecutively) first lady, a U.S. senator, and a secretary of State, but also twice a presidential candidate over the last 25 years and worth well over $100 million.

The economy is ossified. GDP growth was below 1% last year. Labor participation is at historic lows. Family income is shrinking. So anemic is the economy that traditional spurs such as low-energy prices, near-zero interest rates, massive deficit spending, and printing money cannot revive it. Yet Hillary cannot ankle-bite Obama on his dismal leadership. One, she was a part of the administration, and so faces the paradox of “if things are so bad, why didn’t you do anything about them the last 7 years?” Is Clinton to run on four more heady years of Obama the Great, or on the assurance that her next four years will be even better than his last eight— or neither, or both?

Two, her judicial fate is in the hands of the Obama Justice Department. If she were to fade out on the campaign trail, or were to critique the Obama record, the FBI might well convince Attorney General Loretta Lynch to indict her—in the manner that a politically bothersome Sen. Menendez, Dinesh D’Souza, Nakoula Nakoula, or Gen. David Petraeus suddenly wound up facing indictments.

Candidates who damn student debt don’t shake down universities for over $200,000 for a 30-minute chat. What might instead have Hillary said to students: “I’ll speak for $50K and give you guys a $150,000 discount because I want to ensure the cost does not add too much to your student loans”?

Candidates who scream about unpunished Wall Street crimes and one-percent skullduggery are not themselves facing an FBI criminal investigation, predicated on the fact that Mrs. Clinton did not think federal rules should apply to herself, as she put her own careerist concerns over the national-security interests of her country.

Hillary Clinton’s campaign is headed down a dead-end street. There are no way-outs through decrying the treatment of women and the baleful influence of Wall Street, calling for fair enforcement of laws, referring to either the sad or great state of Obama’s economy and foreign policy, or voicing the populist concern for indebted students and losers in today’s calcified economy.

Hoping that Bill Clinton fades out or that Obama’s popularity hits 55% or that the FBI and Justice Department are as politicized as Obama’s Chicago-style IRS, ICE, or EPA is not a winning way to the White House.

The most dangerous animal on the planet

Maggie Fox reports for NBC News,
Fourteen more people may have caught the Zika virus in the U.S. without traveling to affected zones, federal health officials said Tuesday — strong evidence that the virus is sexually transmitted fairly often.

Some of those suspected of having been infected sexually have been pregnant women, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.

...Evidence is growing that Zika can cause serious birth defects, especially microcephaly, which results from a damaged brain that stops developing in the womb. There are also suspicions that Zika is causing a paralyzing condition called Guillan-Barre syndrome.

...Zika's spreading fast across the Americas and the Caribbean and the World Health Organization has declared it a public health emergency of international concern. The virus itself is relatively harmless to most people, but what's worrying is the potential that it causes severe birth defects.

The CDC's already advised travelers to be aware of the risk, recommending that men who have traveled to Zika-affected zones should use a condom if they want to be absolutely sure they don't infect sex partners.

...Zika's clearly a mosquito-borne virus, spread as female Aedes mosquitos sip blood from one person after another, often in the same room. Other viruses are spread this way, too: yellow fever, dengue, West Nile and chikungunya. And the malaria parasite is also spread by mosquitoes.

"It's not likely that sexual transmission is anywhere close to the frequency of mosquito-borne transmission. The mosquito is the most dangerous animal on the planet," said Dr. William Schaffner of Vanderbilt University, past president of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases.

...But with Zika, right now the only way the virus is getting to unaffected countries like the U.S. is in the bodies of travelers. So the cases of sexual transmission stand out. CDC says 30 million to 40 million Americans fly to Latin America and the Caribbean every year and even more go by land.

Zika is actively spreading in more than two dozen Latin American and Caribbean countries.
Read more here.

How Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton lost 70 years of American postwar deterrence in the Middle East

Victor Davis Hanson writes,
Nations in the Middle East that once aligned with America are now indifferent. Interests who opposed the United States grow defiant. Fence-sitting countries that calibrated their policies to the perception of U.S. strength are leaning toward our adversaries. Chaos is the result.

...The American estrangement from the Gulf States is a result of near U.S. independence in gas and oil production, the collapse of the global oil market, and the Obama administration’s tilt toward Iran. That American realignment was interpreted in the Gulf as staged indifference to radical Shiite efforts to undermine the Gulf Sunni monarchies. Most Sunni states are prepping for the likelihood of a new Middle-East arms race in a soon to be nuclear neighborhood.

The only upside is an emerging de facto alliance between Israel and the so-called moderate Arab monarchies. That odd coupling assumes that Iran threatens both more than they do each other, and that the United States is no longer a reliable patron to either.

...Three landmark events over the last four years fueled the general Middle East chaos.

The Libya Disaster
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, UN Ambassador Susan Rice, and National Security Council staffer Samantha Power all pushed for an easy air campaign against Libya. The Obama administration had recently been flummoxed by unrest in Egypt and embarrassed by its disastrous tilt toward Mohamed Morsi, who by spring 2012 had sought to manipulate democratic elections as a means of turning Egypt into an Islamic state.

Yet Libya’s strongman Moammar Khadafy was a monster in rehabilitation, slowly passing power over to his Westernized progeny. That fact was ignored by the administration. Almost everything imaginable went wrong after the United States began bombing Libya. The U.S. violated UN resolutions to limit its intervention to no-fly zones and humanitarian assistance. Instead, it provided close air support to anti-Khadafy insurrectionists. Yet the administration had no intention of filling the void after the collapse of the Khadafy government.

The logical consequence of America’s bomb-and-run Libyan policy was a terrorist wasteland, an ISIS recruiting ground, the Benghazi disaster—with the ensuing wages of scandal and disinformation that continue to this day. Unwise chest-pounding such as “lead from behind,” Secretary Clinton’s crude Caesarian boast over Khadafy’s corpse (“We came, we saw, he died”), her later callous quip “what difference does it make” in congressional testimony about the American dead, and the scapegoating and jailing of a U.S.-resident video maker—these all became iconic of the entire sordid mess.

The Iraq Withdrawal
...the abrupt disappearance of thousands of American peacekeepers—40,000 were still posted there in midsummer 2011—created a catastrophic void.

...Disaffected Sunnis and scattered al Qaedists reformulated under the new ISIS brand—exploiting the furor at Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s Shiite-dominated government. Without U.S. troops, Maliki had sensed no more pressure to honor commitments to the Sunni minority or to the Kurds, and thus invited in Iranian interests, essentially destroying the Iraqi military.

Obama seemed stunned by the sudden implosion of Iraq. At first in denial, he serially dismissed ISIS for the next two years, even as it insidiously carved up the Syrian-Iraq borderlands. In an infamous January 2014 interview, Obama assured the New Yorker that ISIS was a mere jayvee team: “The analogy we use around here sometimes, and I think is accurate, is if a jayvee team puts on Lakers uniforms that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant.”

In short order, an abandoned Iraq became what South Korea probably would have looked like in 1955—had an opportunistic President Eisenhower, up for reelection in 1956, sought to blame the war on Harry Truman’s unwise intervention years earlier, and had he promised to yank out all U.S. troops from the DMZ.

Empty Redlines to Syria
The third milestone was the “red line” ultimatum to Syria’s President Bashar Assad to cease using weapons of mass destruction or face U.S. bombs. As Obama put it in August 2012, in the final stretch of his reelection campaign: “A red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized. That would change my calculus. That would change my equation… We have communicated in no uncertain terms with every player in the region that that’s a red line for us and that there would be enormous consequences if we start seeing movement on the chemical weapons front or the use of chemical weapons.”

When Bashar Assad—who had been ordered earlier by Obama to abdicate—used chemical weapons, Obama abruptly called off promised air strikes. Worse, Obama almost immediately denied that he had ever set a red line in the first place. On September 4, he instead blamed the United Nations and Congress for putting him on the spot: “First of all, I didn’t set a red line; the world set a red line. The world set a red line… Congress set a red line when it ratified that treaty. Congress set a red line…”

Obama appeared stunned by the notion that Assad unexpectedly had called his bluff—thus forcing an anti-war, Nobel Peace Prize laureate to preempt and bomb Syria right before the election. Yet Obama was also worried that his failure to back up his own ultimatums might confirm to the electorate perceptions of impotence.

The net result of talking loudly while carrying a twig was that friends in the region no longer counted on American assurances. Enemies sought to escalate their provocations without worrying about the consequences. Observers saw all three disastrous decisions as amateurish political miscalculations, cynically intended to win Obama dividends in the upcoming reelection bid.

In short, 70 years of American postwar deterrence in the Middle East was lost, and we have yet to see the end of the frightening consequences.
Read more here.

How Obama ended the rule of law

Victor Davis Hanson wrote at National Review Online on February 17,
Somehow, having an Enemies List is all right if you’re Barack Obama and not Richard Nixon. It has become an iffy idea to cross Barack Obama. After seven years, the president has created a Hugo Chávez–like deterrent landscape, intended to remind friends and enemies alike that he is perfectly willing to use the federal government’s vast power to go after those he finds politically inconvenient, while exempting those he understands to be sympathetic to his agendas.

...To have a legitimate disagreement with the president is to be caricatured as either a coward or a bully. On illegal immigration, Obama complained that Republicans were “scared of widows and orphans coming into the United States.” Earlier, he had claimed they wanted to round up kids having ice cream: “But now, suddenly, if you don’t have your papers and you took your kid out to get ice cream, you’re going to be harassed.”

But aside from the psychodramatic tics and the jokes in poor taste, Obama has used government in a fashion contrary to the Constitution. IRS official Lois Lerner directed the federal tax agency to dole out tax-exempt status to groups on the basis of their ideology, and — particularly during a campaign season — on whether they were perceived Obama supporters. After staging a phony question-and-answer mea culpa, she pled the Fifth Amendment before a congressional committee of inquiry and retired with her full pension and apparent exemption from criminal prosecution.

...The common thread in the scandals or incompetence at the EPA, GSA, ICE, IRS, Justice Department, NASA, Secret Service, and VA has been Obama’s desire to advance his own particular political agendas in a fashion contrary to the supposed disinterested nature of these bureaucracies, if necessary putting in place political incompetents who would unquestioningly do his bidding. NASA, for example, has no business making its “foremost” aim outreach to Muslims. In the Obama era, most Americans now just assume that Black Panthers can intimidate voters at a polling place; and that illegal aliens with criminal records do not face deportation in sanctuary cities; and that failed green companies can extort federal dollars, while successful coal companies and utilities are hounded; and that Cabinet secretaries facing accusations of scandal, incompetence, or unethical behavior — Lisa Jackson, Eric Shinseki at the VA, Kathleen Sebelius at HHS, Hilda Solis at the Department of Labor — just seem to quietly resign and float away in a fashion most unlike General Petraeus.

...Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, an obscure Internet video-maker, suddenly was jailed on a minor parole violation and was damned publicly — and falsely — as the catalyst for the 2012 Benghazi attacks, in which four Americans were killed. No one now believes — as President Obama, National Security Adviser Susan Rice, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for so long insisted to the world — that Nakoula’s amateurish video prompted spontaneous mobs to take to the streets of Benghazi (just by coincidence on September 11) and to torch the American consulate and zero in their ad hoc GPS-guided mortars on the consulate annex.

...CIA Director General David Petraeus was forced to resign shortly after Obama’s successful reelection campaign in 2012, under mysterious circumstances, reportedly because he had improperly revealed classified information to a biographer, with whom he was having an affair. But that fact had been revealed to, but was not disclosed by, members of the Obama administration, months before the November 2012 election. The strange timing poses the question of why such misconduct was considered a non-firing offense before, but not after, the president’s reelection, when Petraeus, as CIA director, was likely to be slated to testify again, and at greater length, to a closed session of Congress on the Benghazi disaster.

The serial message goes out that it is unwise for a federal official or a prominent individual to oppose President Obama and his policies — while illegal or incompetent conduct, if undertaken in the president’s perceived interest, is considered to have been for a good cause and thus exempt from accountability.

In other words, there is no rule of law any more — an ossified relic in our pen-and-phone era of social justice.
Read more here.

A lethal mix

Victor Davis Hanson writes about the return in 2016 of the historically lethal mix of appeasement, collaboration and isolationism.
World War II broke out when Nazi Germany invaded Poland on September 1, 1939. A once preventable war had become inevitable — and would soon become global — due to three fatal decisions. Most infamously, the Western European democracies had appeased Hitler during the late 1930s in hopes that he would quit gobbling up his neighbors. Unfortunately, the Nazis considered Western appeasement as weakness to be manipulated rather than magnanimity to be reciprocated.After the bloodless annexation of Austria and the dismemberment of Czechoslovakia, Hitler assumed that Britain and France would not go to war at all if he went into Poland. Or, if they did, that they would not fight very seriously.Yet Western appeasement did not alone guarantee the outbreak of World War II.

The Germans invaded Poland only after a guarantee from Josef Stalin that the Soviet Union would soon join in attacking the Poles from the east. The two dictatorships could then divvy up the country.

Stalin’s communist Russia had foolishly gambled that by making a deal with Nazi Germany, Hitler would leave the Soviets alone. At first, Stalin hoped that Germany would turn its war machine loose only on the Western European democracies.

Yet Stalin’s collaboration with Hitler eventually guaranteed that Russia also would be double-crossed — less than two years after signing an agreement with the Third Reich. Germany surprise-attacked the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941. Due to Stalin’s collaboration, almost 30 million Russians would die on the Eastern Front over the next four years.

But it was more than Western appeasement of Hitler and Soviet collaboration that made World War II inevitable. Nazi Germany still remained relatively weak in 1939. The populations, economies and territories of its likely enemies were collectively far greater than those of the Third Reich and its allies.

A third, fatal decision was necessary to ensure a war. The United States had entered World War I late in April 1917, and it revived the sagging Allied effort, helping to crush the Germany army and win the war by November 1918.

But by 1919, America had rapidly disarmed and forgotten its key role in World War I. Americans had tired of the Europeans. They were sick of the endless horse-trading that had led to the postwar Versailles Treaty.

By the start of the Great Depression in 1929, America was mostly unarmed and determined never to get involved in European feuding again. Most Americans complained that the huge death toll of World War I had led to neither perpetual peace nor even a peaceful Germany.

America’s isolationism and disarmament also helped prompt another global war. Had the U.S. kept its military strong after World War I, and had it entered into a formal alliance with its former World War I partners, Germany never would have risked a second war against the combined strength of a fully armed Britain, France and United States.

Instead, Hitler assumed the U.S. either could not or would not offer much military help to his intended European targets.

Why, then, did a relatively weak Nazi Germany between 1939 and 1941 believe that it could take on much of the world, and inspire Axis partners such as Italy and Japan to follow its suicidal lead?

The answer is obvious. British and French appeasement, Soviet collaboration and American isolation had together convinced Hitler and his Axis allies that the victors of World War I were more eager to grant concessions at any cost than were the defeated.

The world of 2016 is eerily beginning to resemble the powder keg of 1939 Europe.

Iran, China and North Korea, along with radical Islamic terrorist groups, all have particular contempt for Western democracies. Almost daily, various aggressive nations or organizations seek provocation by shooting off intercontinental missiles, boarding American boats, sending millions of young male Middle Easterners into the West, and issuing unending threats. China is creating new artificial islands to control commercial routes to and from Asia.

The European Union is largely unarmed. Yet it still trusts that it can use its vaunted “smart diplomacy” to reason with its enemies.

Meanwhile, Vladimir Putin’s Russia cuts deals with Iran, Syria and most of the enemies of the West. Like Stalin before, Putin cynically assumes that his triangulations will turn aggressive powers exclusively against the West. Recently, he warned the West of a “new world war” starting in the Middle East.

America is slowly withdrawing from involvement abroad, using the same isolationist arguments heard in the 1920s.

Past interventions in the Middle East have worn on the nation. Ingrate nations did not appreciate American sacrifices. In tough economic times, some contend that defense spending should be diverted to more social programs.

Appeasement, collaboration and isolationism always prove a lethal mix — past and present.

Voting in Nevada today

Today the caucus-goers in Nevada will place their bets. Surely one would expect casino/real estate magnate Donald Trump to do well there, especially since he has momentum from winning handily in New Hampshire and South Carolina. Nothing he has said or done have slowed that momentum with his followers, or converted those who oppose him.

The race between Cruz and Rubio for second place may be the more interesting one. Talk show host Glenn Beck is in Nevada campaigning for Ted Cruz. I admire Beck as a man whose actions show us what his convictions are. Other hosts maintain "nuetrality," but I suspect they are merely afraid to lose sizeable percentages of their audience. Beck surely knows that is the risk he is taking, but he is a man who puts himself on the line for what he believes. If Limbaugh, Hannity and Levin were to do that, perhaps Trump would have a more difficult road to the nomination.

Meanwhile, since Jeb Bush and Rand Paul have dropped out, none of the other candidates has effectively taken aim at Trump. Rubio and Cruz are primarily attacking each other, although Cruz has been trying to highlight Trump's inconsistencies. By their attacks on each other, Cruz and Rubio have mainly hurt Cruz and Rubio, allowing Trump to sail full steam ahead.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Affluence, arrogance, and ignorance are quite a trifecta

Victor Davis Hanson writes,
Today’s campuses have become as foreign to American traditions of tolerance and free expression as what followed the Weimar Republic. To appreciate cry-bully censorship, visit a campus “free-speech” area. To witness segregation, walk into a college “safe space.” To hear unapologetic anti-Semitism, attend a university lecture. To learn of the absence of due process, read of a campus hearing on alleged sexual assault. To see a brown shirt in action, watch faculty call for muscle at a campus demonstration. To relearn the mentality of a Chamberlain or Daladier, listen to the contextualizations of a college president. And to talk to an uneducated person, approach a recent college graduate.

If all that is confusing, factor in the Trimalchio banquet of campus rock-climbing walls, students glued to their iPhone 6s, $200 sneakers, latte bars, late-model foreign cars in the parking lot, and yoga classes. Affluence, arrogance, and ignorance are quite a trifecta.

...Sanders has little appreciation that he is an artifact of free-market capitalism, which alone has created enough bounty for such a demagogue to call for massive redistribution—in a way impossible for socialists any longer in exhausted Cuba, Greece, Venezuela, or any other command-economy paradise. Where does Sanders think his statism has worked—China, North Korea, Bolivia, Cuba, or the ossified European Union?

Bill Clinton on the stump has reminded us that there need not be any dignity to the post-presidency He offers a blueprint to becoming fabulously wealthy by monetizing a mere eight years in office with lifetime quid pro quos and Putin-like leverage. He has managed to make the sanctimonious scold Jimmy Carter seem reverential in comparison. The mystery of Hillary Clinton is not that she should be indicted on charges that are routinely filed against lesser miscreant bureaucrats, but that her entire corrupt career has always somehow been exempt, from cattle speculation to withholding subpoenaed evidence.

Mrs. Clinton is now like a tottering third-world caudillo—she can’t really continue on in politics and she can’t quit trying if she wants to stay out of jail. Her possible indictment depends entirely on her political viability and utility. She and the once disbarred Bill Clinton might appear like tired, tragic dinosaurs, bewildered that politics have left them behind in their late sixties—were it not for these aging egoists’ routine petulance and sense of entitlement.

Donald Trump is probably not a serious student of the European 1930s, but in brilliant fashion he has sized up the public’s worries over a Potemkin economy, exhaustion with wars, and namby-pamby leadership. His own remedy is 1930s to the core: nationalism, crude bombast, mytho-history, and sloganeering without much detail. Trump’s trajectory is predicated on the premise that a jaded public cares more about emotion than logic, and how a leader speaks rather than what he says.

In European 1930s street-brawling fashion, no one knows quite whether Trump is a 1990s Clinton Democrat, a 1980s Reagan Republican, or a Perotist misfit. He has thrown a ball and chain through the pretentious glass of American campaigning. Trump excites voters because he can profane, smear, interrupt, and fabricate—on the premise that as a performance artist he reifies what they think but don’t dare say about a corrupt political class and its warped, politically correct values. Trump reminds Americans what deterrence is: the supposedly courageous media, the so-called truth-to-power leftists, and the sober and judicious careerist politicians are all terrified how he might reply or react to their criticism. None of them want to spend 2-3 days trading smears with Donald Trump.

The president has a strange tic: the more he lectures about either the peaceful tendencies or impotence of an Iran or ISIS, or the more he explains how an aggressive Russia or China is stupidly not acting in their own interests, the more we know that the world is becoming ever more dangerous to the United States. He peddles mythologies about Cuba’s Castro, Iran’s aspirations, non-Islamic jihadism, and hands-up, don’t-shoot racializing, on the premise that even as all else has failed him, he wins exemption from reasoned cross-examination due to his “transformative” and iconic status.

I realize I have been remiss in following Victor Davis Hanson as closely as I used to, but this column by him is just superb. Every paragraph is thought-provoking. What will history's corrective be to our current world state of affairs? Read the whole thing here.

Illegals can vote in California

Steve Guest reports at the Daily Caller,
Judge Andrew Napolitano says that “if you are an illegal alien in California, get a driver’s license, register to vote, you can vote in local, state, and federal elections in California and those votes count.”
Read more here.

Reports of his inevitability are greatly exaggerated.

I actually heard Hugh Hewitt tonight trying to persuade Donald Trump to unify the Party by promising to nominate Ted Cruz to the Supreme Court and Marco Rubio to be his Vice Presidential running mate. So Hewitt appears to have joined the growing ranks of those who feel Trump is inevitable. Trump, by the way, told Hewitt he has heard that suggestion from others, and Trump was noncommittal on the idea.

John Fund is not convinced about Trump's inevitability. He writes at National Review, Trump's
consistent inconsistency helps explain why only four in ten GOP voters in a new Associated Press poll view Trump in a positive light. He will have trouble growing his coalition to win a majority of delegates, even as more candidates drop out.

...So if we are headed for a contested convention, what will happen? I don’t know, but I do know that Republican delegates will be leery of nominating a candidate viewed unfavorably by 60 percent of general-election voters – as is the case with Donald Trump. In the RealClearPolitics average of all polls, Trump is the only major candidate who loses to Hillary Clinton (45.3 percent to 42.5 percent). It’s certainly possible that Trump will try to “cut a deal” with Ted Cruz or John Kasich so he can secure a delegate majority, but there are a lot of obstacles to that.

No one is saying Trump won’t be the nominee. But reports of his inevitability are greatly exaggerated.
Read more here.

Pushing a narrative

Ace writes,
Narrative for breakfast, Narrative for lunch, Narrative for dinner.

The Establishment and the Rubio camp-- but I repeat myself -- have cooked up a narrative that Cruz just "lies" all the time.

This, despite the fact that Rubio and his supporters dissemble every time Rubio's actual position and statements on amnesty, DACA, and border security come up.

But that's the Narrative. It's a tissue of lies, but so are most Narratives.

Cruz's campaign spokesman fed into this Narrative by stupidly pushing out a dumb claim that Rubio "demeaned" the Bible.

This based on misheard audio in a video.

...But Cruz communications director Rick Tyler did push this absurd claim out, thereby fragging his own candidate, and so you're damn right Cruz should ask him to resign. Indeed, I think he should be fired, assuming he was the one who made the call.

Political people should just generally stop making preposterous claims, I guess except for Trump, for whom preposterous, risible gibberish is the stock in trade.

But if we're going to talk about dissembling candidates and campaigns, yes, let's check the record on Rubio's preposterous claims about his past positions on amnesty and DACA.

Who can we trust?

The z man writes,
Mitt Romney’s main problem in 2012 was no one believed him. His record was the opposite, in many cases, of his positions as a candidate. Even though he had a carefully crafted platform that ticked all the boxes for a majority of voters, no one really believed he would do any of it. When that big fat women from CNN pushed him around in one of the debates, a lot of people were reminded why he could not be trusted.
Read more here.

Six foreign policy failures of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama

At Zero Hedge Eric Zuesse argues that six Hillary Clinton aided and abetted six foreign policy catastrophes during her term as Secretary of State. Honduras
The central-American nation of Honduras is ruled today by an extremist far-right government, a fascist junta-imposed government, because of what Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama did in 2009. The lives of all but the top 0.001% of the population there are hell because of this.

...The soaring murder-rate after the U.S.-supported coup caused a soaring number of escapees from the violence; they’re flooding into the U.S. now as illegal immigrants.

In Haiti, the situation is similar as an example of the U.S. backing aristocrats, so as to keep the masses in poverty and for American aristocrats to profit from doing so. On 1 June 2011, the Nation headlined "WikiLeaks Haiti: Let Them Live on $3 a Day," and Dan Coughlin and Kim Ives reported that, "Contractors for Fruit of the Loom, Hanes and Levi’s worked in close concert with the US Embassy when they aggressively moved to block a minimum wage increase for Haitian assembly zone workers, the lowest-paid in the hemisphere, according to secret State Department cables. ... The factory owners told the Haitian Parliament that they were willing to give workers a 9-cents-per-hour pay increase to 31 cents per hour to make T-shirts, bras and underwear for US clothing giants like Dockers and Nautica. But the factory owners refused to pay 62 cents per hour, or $5 per day, as a measure unanimously passed by the Haitian Parliament in June 2009 would have mandated. And they had the vigorous backing of the US Agency for International Development and the US Embassy when they took that stand." Hillary Clinton's State Department pushed hard to reverse the new law. "A deputy chief of mission, David E. Lindwall, said the $5 per day minimum 'did not take economic reality into account' but was a populist measure aimed at appealing to 'the unemployed and underpaid masses.'" An "Editor's Note" from the Nation added: "In keeping with the industry’s usual practice, the brand name US companies kept their own hands clean, letting their contractors do the work of making Haiti safe for the sweatshops from which they derive their profits -- with help from US officials." Those "officials" were ultimately Clinton and Obama. On 3 June 2011, Ryan Chittum at Columbia Journalism Review headlined "A Pulled Scoop Shows U.S. Fought to Keep Haitian Wages Down," and he added some perspective to the story: “Hanesbrands CEO Richard Noll ... could pay for the raises for those 3,200 t-shirt makers with just one-sixth of the $10 million in salary and bonus he raked in last year.” And then, when the U.S. turns away "boat people," trying to escape the "voluntary" slavery of the Haitian masses, the standard excuse is that it's done so as to "protect American jobs." But is that really where Hillary Clinton gets her campaign funds?

Furthermore, under Secretary of State Clinton, failures at the U.S. Department of State also caused the basis for a hatred of the United States to soar in Afghanistan after the U.S. has drawn down its troops there. This failure, too, has received little coverage in the U.S. press, but our nation will be paying heavily for it long-term.

Hillary Clinton was the Administration’s leading proponent of regime-change, overthrowing Muammar Gaddafi in Libya. That worked out disastrously. Hillary’s success at overthrowing Gaddafi served brilliantly the purposes of the U.S. aristocracy and of the jihadists who are financed by the Saud family and the other fundamentalist Sunni royal families in Arabia. Even if she doesn’t become President, she has already done enough favors for those royals so as to be able to fill to the brim the coffers of the Clinton Foundation.

Clinton was also the Secretary of State when the 2006-2010 drought was causing massive relocations of population in Syria and U.S. State Department cables passed along up the chain of command the Assad government’s urgent request for aid from foreign governments to help farmers stave off starvation. The Clinton State Department ignored the requests and treated this as an opportunity to foment revolution there. It wasn’t only the Arab Spring, in Syria, that led to the demonstrations against Assad there. Sunni jihadist fighters streamed into Syria, backed by the U.S., Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey. The U.S. was, in effect, assisting jihadists to oust the non-sectarian, secular Shiite leader of Syria and replace him with a fundamentalist Sunni dictator.

the takeover of Ukraine was an Obama operation in which she played an important role, to set it up.
Read more here.

At the end of this piece, the author expresses his support for the candidacy of Bernie Sanders.