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.

Inventing conspiracy theories, embellishing the truth, and fomenting outrage

Krista Kafer writes in the Denver Post,
...Communicating complexity with accuracy, speed and dynamism without a script is challenging. Inventing conspiracy theories, embellishing the truth, and fomenting outrage requires comparatively less show prep. It may be entertaining, but it discredits the profession and distorts the truth.

In an environment where everyone is talking and few are listening, there is temptation to shout "Fire!" just to get attention. The 24-hour news cycle incentivizes sensationalism. We should not yield to it. Exaggeration eliminates proportion. When everything is terrible, nothing is terrible. When every disliked politician is another Hitler, it's only a matter of time before we can no longer recognize true evil among men.

...If that requires a little sensationalism to rally the troops, why not? Why have a measured discussion, for example, about the advantages and disadvantages of a primary versus a caucus system when it's so much more exciting to inflame passions? Some commentators and a certain politician have alleged corruption in the recent Colorado GOP selection of national delegates when there is no evidence of that whatsoever.

...Facts, perception, spin, error or deceit, there are lines in between that should not be crossed.
Read more here.

Democrats are having fun with this one

Watch all the way to the last tenth of a second!

h/t Ed Driscoll

"Stay out of our bathrooms!"

Joy Overbeck writes at Town Hall,
Studies find only three-tenths of one percent of the population are transgendered persons who refuse to accept their “birth assignment” which is to say they rebel against the sex that God or nature bestowed upon them. They want to be the opposite sex. But far fewer go in for that irreversible surgery snip. They like to keep their options open in case they want to reverse course, stop the hormone injections, and play for the other side again. So how authentic really is their commitment to transgenderism or are they just sampling the deep end of the pool?

Most of these people are “assigned” male but long to be female. And now state laws increasingly give them the “right” to choose whatever bathroom or even shower room corresponds to the gender with which they “identify” on any given day. Because, you understand, they’re a protected class, unlike actual women.

So growing your hair long and wearing makeup, stiletto heels and cute outfits allows someone like Bruce aka Caitlyn Jenner to invade the ladies room and the privacy of the women there. They can call themselves transgender even though many of these individuals, like Jenner, don’t feel female enough to part with their boy parts. It’s true that ladies have much cooler clothes than men, and I’m sure there was epic wardrobe pressure in the Jenner household with all those stylish women. I wonder how much an irresistible attraction to opposite sex fashion motivated Caitlyn.

...Now that homosexuals (a mere 3 to 4 percent of the population) have managed to mainstream themselves via sweet and sympathetic TV characters, same-sex “marriage”, the White House lit up in gay rainbows, and bullying cake-bakers, florists, and even pastors into submission, gayness is so passé. They’ve won the battle to be “normal.” So the next big “equal rights” movement is transgenderism and bathroom equality.

...Here we go again. Transgender is the new gay. Expect award-winning TV shows and films in which heroic transgender individuals are the saviors of doomed planets. But guys, we know who you are. We can see your beard stubble very clearly through your makeup. Stay out of our bathrooms.

h/t David Adamstransgender

GOP is angry that Obama continues to release terrorists from Guantanamo

Kristina Wong reports at The Hill that the GOP is angry that Obama continues to release terrorists from Guantanamo, increasing the risk of harm to American citizens.

h/t David Adams, who wonders
(Come on, Boys & Girls. It just isn’t enough to be angry with the Emperor. If Obama does NOT have Constitutional authority to release detainees why on Earth are you letting him continue to do this?)

Food to Fable

Food critic Laura Reilly of the Tampa Bay Times takes a look at the Food to Table movement, and concludes that it should be named Food to Fable.

The F**k Monsanto Salad (photo by Alexandra Zayas of the Times)

"Your bias is naked to everyone watching"

Go here to watch Ken Cuccinelli powerfully explain the ‘Goodies’ delegates are getting to support Ted Cruz

How to sound smart in your Ted talk

More to come on this

What a summer this is going to be...for both parties!

Saturday, April 23, 2016

House panel hears how much each baby part sells for

Kelsey Harkness reports at The Daily Signal that
Republicans on the special House panel investigating the transfer of fetal tissue from aborted babies will present evidence in a hearing today that breaks down the price per body part.

With release of this evidence, Republicans say, they have enough documentation to show that several abortion clinics and middleman procurement businesses may have violated federal law.

“It is just horrifying,” Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., who leads the House’s investigation of the fetal tissue industry, told The Daily Signal. “They are putting a dollar value on these organs from these children—unborn children that have been aborted. It is just beyond belief.”
Go here to find out how much each part is worth.

Federal Court prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender identity

On April 19 Ryan Anderson reported at The Daily Signal,
The Fourth Circuit Court ruled today against a Virginia school district that sought to accommodate a transgender student while also protecting the privacy rights of other students.

The federal court concluded that Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972—which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex—should be interpreted as prohibiting discrimination on the basis of gender identity, as a Department of Education letter suggested in 2015. The ruling allows a lawsuit brought by a transgender student to proceed.

The case involves a biological girl who identifies as a boy. The court’s majority explains it this way: “G.G.’s birth-assigned sex, or so-called ‘biological sex,’ is female, but G.G.’s gender identity is male.” Note the scare quotes around what the court calls “so-called ‘biological sex.’” Biological sex, in fact, is precisely what Congress protected in 1972.
Read more here.

“Hypocrisy is the homage vice pays to virtue.”

Alan Dershowitz writes at Fox News about the hypocrisy of Obama's
interference in British affairs and his criticism of Netanyahu for accepting an invitation from Congress to express his country’s views on an issue directly affecting its national security.
Read more here.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Unifying the GOP

In National Review Jonah Goldberg takes a historical look at what is the real purpose of political conventions.
The real goal was to pick a nominee who could unify the party. That’s it. It wasn’t to pick a nominee who could win in November. That’s a huge consideration, but it was only one (very important) factor in deliberations over who should get the nomination. Barry Goldwater didn’t get the Republican nomination in 1964, nor George McGovern the Democratic nomination in 1972, because they were seen as the best candidates to win a general election. They got the nomination because that is who the delegates, informed by voters, wanted as their standard-bearers.

Ideally, the candidate who satisfies both criteria — speaks for us and is most electable — is the nominee. But that doesn’t always happen. This is precisely the dilemma the GOP is facing in July. Donald Trump may indeed end up being the nominee, but he’s nowhere close to the most electable candidate the GOP could offer, and he’s easily the most divisive choice the party could make. Ted Cruz is better on both scores – I would be happy to see him get the nomination – but he also has problems on both fronts.

...The current debate about the GOP nominating process (It’s rigged! It’s undemocratic!) is largely hogwash. If it’s rigged, it’s rigged in favor of the front-runner, which is why Trump’s share of delegates is higher than his share of votes.

The nominating system was set up not as some reality-show contest to see who can get the most delegates. It was set up to see who can unify the party. The primary system was introduced to give voters the first whack at that task. (But they didn’t always have the final say: Robert A. Taft got more votes than Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1952, but Ike got the nomination.)

If Trump fails to get 1,237 delegates – still the most likely outcome – that will mean the voters collectively failed to find a unifier.

That failure is the alarm that calls the firefighters – i.e., delegates — to duty. Whether they pick Cruz or Kasich or someone else, it will not be some undemocratic “theft.” It will be their effort to do their job: unify the party. I wish them luck.
Read more, including why he used the term firefighters here.

Who is the bigger threat to the Washington GOP fiefdoms?

Who is the bigger threat to the Washington GOP fiefdoms, Donald Trump or Ted Cruz? Rich Lowry of National Review believes it is Cruz.
In fact, Trump is much less of a threat to the Washington status quo than a conservative like Cruz is, since Trump is not promising to reduce the size of the federal government or significantly reform it, only to run it better and cut smarter deals. This is what the stereotypical Washington establishment exists to do.

It’s notable in this connection that Trump has tapped a lobbyist’s lobbyist, Paul Manafort, to stabilize his campaign. There will be more where that came from if he’s the nominee, since he is evidently not liquid or rich enough to fund his own general-election campaign. At this juncture, it looks like the fiefdoms that Trump would most threaten if he gets the nomination will be the Republican majorities in the Senate and the House...
Read more here.

A story of compassion

In the Washington Post Yanan Wang brings us a story of a brave veteran suffering from PTSD and addiction, and a very compassionate judge. The judge sentenced the veteran to 24 hours behind bars, then joined him behind bars.

Double standard

Jonah Goldberg writes at National Review, objection to Donald Trump is . . . Donald Trump. I think he’s a vain ignoramus and bully who mocks the disabled with a long history of exploiting and abusing the little guy. His instincts are nationalistic and authoritarian, not patriotic and liberty-loving.

It is revealing that very often when opponents of Donald Trump make the issue Donald Trump, the response from his defenders is to change the subject to the “issues” he’s raising or the anger “he’s tapped into” or the shortcomings of his critics or the failures of Barack Obama.

You know what it means when defenders of Donald Trump refuse to defend the actual man Donald Trump? It means he’s indefensible.

The same people who’ve mocked Barack Obama -- rightly! -- for years because he mispronounced corpsmen “corpse-men,” blithely whistle past the graveyard of Donald Trump’s lifeless intellect. The same people who mocked Barack Obama -- rightly -- for his vanity and arrogance, shiver with school-girl glee at Trump’s Brobdingnagian ego. The same people who’ve denounced Barack Obama’s unilateral statism -- rightly -- take it on faith that Donald Trump through his own force of will shall set the country aright with Stakhanovite strength. The double standard is so huge, I’d be shocked if you couldn’t see it from space.

On the twenty dollar bill: black, Republican, gun-toting, veterans’ activist, with ninja-like spy skills and strong Christian beliefs

Do you know who Harriet Tubman was? You have probably heard that she is going to replace Andrew Jackson on the twenty dollar bill. At National Review Eli Lehrer fill us in, but first he gives his opinion of Andrew Jackson:
Harriet Tubman is a good choice to replace Andrew Jackson on the front of the $20 bill. Jackson, the first Democratic president, is exactly the sort of overheated, pompous populist that has tended to screw up the American political system. His demotion to the back of the bill is long overdue.

Harriett Tubman was a gun-toting, Jesus-loving spy who blazed the way for women to play a significant role in military and political affairs.

Indeed, her work on the Underground Railroad was mostly a prelude to her real achievements. Born into slavery as Araminta Ross, Tubman knew the slave system’s inhumanity firsthand: She experienced the savage beatings and family destruction that were par for the course. She eventually escaped and, like most who fled, freed herself largely by her own wits.

Tubman was one of the most valuable field-intelligence assets the Union Army had. She had hundreds of intelligence contacts and could establish new ones — particularly among African Americans — when nobody else could.

In her “retirement” — she never really stopped working until she became ill at the very end of her life — Tubman remained a political presence. A friend of Secretary of State William H. Seward, she settled in his hometown of Auburn, N.Y., on land he sold her. There, she helped to build both a church (she was devoutly religious) and a privately run retirement home. She also fought for women’s suffrage, supported Republican politicians, and advocated for fair treatment of black Civil War veterans, which they rarely received.

In short, Harriet Tubman was a black, Republican, gun-toting, veterans’ activist, with ninja-like spy skills and strong Christian beliefs. She probably wouldn’t have an ounce of patience for the obtuse posturing of some of the tenured radicals hanging around Ivy League faculty lounges. But does she deserve a place on our money? Hell yeah.
Read more here.

Transgender confusion

Yesterday when Donald Trump pontificated on transgender persons using whatever bathroom they wished, Ace of Spades wrote,
Prediction: within 24 hours he announces a major reversal on this plank and begins using the most extreme language possible to put him in sync with what he imagines conservative opinion to be.

Today Ace leads with this headline,
Donald Trump: My Position On Transgendered Bathrooms Is as Complex as Nuanced as My Position On Abortion and I Could Not Possibly Explain My Philosophical Position On Them In One Statement

Transgender confusion.

Out: "Leave it the way it is"

In: States should be allowed to do what you conservatives think they should do, whatever that is.

The thing about Trump is, it doesn't matter if he gets answers wrong on everything, because I know, fundamentally, he shares my instincts.

Even though his instincts on so many issues are directly contrary to my own, and in fact are the instincts of the PC Democratic Left.

Ah well -- he's going to be our nominee, I guess.

Boy we sure dodged a bullet with that Jesus-loving archconservative Ted Cruz! Thank God we didn't nominate him, and instead chose someone whose moderate positions make him palatable to a lot of voters who usually don't vote GOP.

Ted Cruz is kicking up hornet's nest, meanwhile, by noting that some of Fox News' anchors seem to be in the tank for Trump. Wonder who he could mean.

Oh by the way, did I mention that, after Trump stuck is foot in it by saying Transsexual Bathrooms for Everyone!, he went running to Sean Hannity for one of Hannity's typically bruising, probing cross-examinations?

Believe me, ol' Inquisitor Sean got to the bottom of this transgender-confusion and didn't let Trump just cover it up with a glib evasion. Nope, not ol' Inquisitor Sean.

And the seduction of the American right continues...

Today is Earth Day

Michael J. Maicher / Temple University Libraries
Ira Einhorn was the master of ceremonies at the first Earth Day rally on April 22, 1970

Remy Melina reports for NBC News,
Ira Einhorn was on stage hosting the first Earth Day event at the Fairmount Park in Philadelphia on April 22, 1970. Seven years later, police raided his closet and found the "composted" body of his ex-girlfriend inside a trunk.

A self-proclaimed environmental activist, Einhorn made a name for himself among ecological groups during the 1960s and '70s by taking on the role of a tie-dye-wearing ecological guru and Philadelphia’s head hippie. With his long beard and gap-toothed smile, Einhorn — who nicknamed himself "Unicorn" because his German-Jewish last name translates to "one horn" —advocated flower power, peace and free love to his fellow students at the University of Pennsylvania. He also claimed to have helped found Earth Day.

But the charismatic spokesman who helped bring awareness to environmental issues and preached against the Vietnam War — and any violence — had a secret dark side. When his girlfriend of five years, Helen "Holly" Maddux, moved to New York and broke up with him, Einhorn threatened that he would throw her left-behind personal belongings onto the street if she didn't come back to pick them up.

And so on Sept. 9, 1977, Maddux went back to the apartment that she and Einhorn had shared in Philadelphia to collect her things, and was never seen again. When Philadelphia police questioned Einhorn about her mysterious disappearance several weeks later, he claimed that she had gone out to the neighborhood co-op to buy some tofu and sprouts and never returned.

It wasn't until 18 months later that investigators searched Einhorn's apartment after one of his neighbors complained that a reddish-brown, foul-smelling liquid was leaking from the ceiling directly below Einhorn's bedroom closet. Inside the closet, police found Maddux's beaten and partially mummified body stuffed into a trunk that had also been packed with Styrofoam, air fresheners and newspapers.

After his arrest, Einhorn jumped bail and spent decades evading authorities by hiding out in Ireland, Sweden, the United Kingdom and France. After 23 years, he was finally extradited to the United States from France and put on trial. Taking the stand in his own defense, Einhorn claimed that his ex-girlfriend had been killed by CIA agents who framed him for the crime because he knew too much about the agency's paranormal military research. He was convicted of murdering Maddux and is currently serving a life sentence.
Read more here.

h/t Christopher Buckley

What kind of God do you have?

h/t Christopher Buckley


Eli Stokols and Kyle Cheney report in Politico,
At the Republican National Committee’s spring meeting, delegates describe vicious missives demanding they support the GOP front-runner.

First it was an email warning Steve House, the Colorado GOP chairman, to hide his family members and “pray you make it to Cleveland.” Then there was the angry man who called his cellphone and told him to put a gun down his throat.
“He said, ‘I’ll call back in two minutes, and if you’re still there, I’ll come over and help you,’” House recalled.

Since Donald Trump came up empty in his quest for delegates at the Republican state assembly in Colorado Springs nearly two weeks ago, his angry supporters have responded to Trump’s own claims of a “rigged” nomination process by lashing out at Republican National Committee delegates that they believe won’t support Trump at the party’s convention — including House.

The mild-mannered chairman estimates he’s gotten between 4,000 and 5,000 calls on his cellphone. Many, he says, have ended with productive conversations. He’s referred the more threatening, violent calls to police. His cellphone is still buzzing this week, as he attends the RNC quarterly meetings in Florida, and he’s not the only one.

In hotel hallways and across dinner tables, many party leaders attending this week’s meetings shared similar stories. One party chairman says a Trump supporter recently got in his face and promised “bloodshed” if Trump doesn't win the GOP presidential nomination. An Indiana delegate who criticized Trump received a note warning against “traditional burial” that ended with, “We are watching you.”
The threats come months ahead of a possible contested convention, where Trump is all but certain to enter with a plurality of delegates bound to him on the first ballot, but he could lose support on subsequent ballots, as rules will allow delegates to vote however they choose. And although the harassers are typically anonymous, many party leaders on the receiving end of these threats hold Trump himself at least partly responsible, viewing the intimidation efforts as a natural and obvious outgrowth of the candidate’s incendiary rhetoric.

...“Several people said now is not the time to change the rules,” said House, the Colorado chairman. “Most people don’t want to make news and are being very, very careful. There’s an element of fear in the process.”
Read more here.

Politically correct madness

Jonathan posts on Glenn Beck's Facebook page,
With the New York primary firmly in the rear view, Sen. Ted Cruz joined The Glenn Beck Program on Thursday to talk about the state of election going forward, and the “controversy” over North Carolina’s new law requiring men and women to use their respective restrooms as determined by their natural body parts.

For years, Glenn has warned a time would come when we wouldn’t recognize our country. That time is clearly upon us, and Ted Cruz wasn’t arguing. “That’s crazy. It’s just . . . that’s not a reasonable position. It is simply crazy. And the idea that grown men would be allowed alone in a bathroom with girls . . . you don’t need to be a behavioral psychologist to realize bad things can happen. And any prudent person wouldn’t allow that. And it is only the lunacy of political correctness,” Cruz said.

This madness has also made its way into the sports world, where free speech is being squelched and punished. “ESPN fired Curt Schilling for making the rather obvious point that we shouldn’t allow grown adult men strangers alone in a bathroom with little girls. That’s a point anyone who is rational should understand,” Cruz said in disbelief.

Glenn called out the hypocrisy of the situation, using a liberal argument to drive the point home. “We always hear from the left on gun control, ‘If it will just save one person, then we should do it.’ If this would just save one little girl from being molested by a heterosexual pervert, we should do it,” Glenn said.

In a rapid-fire style interview, Glenn turned the conversation to the economy, asking how Cruz plans to bring business back to America. “I’m not going to punish companies and force them to come back, groveling on their knees through force of government power. What we’re going to do is we’re going to pull back the regulations that are killing small businesses,” Cruz said. “And in four years, Glenn, I promise you this: Other countries are going to be talking about corporate inversion and complaining, ‘Why are our companies fleeing our nations and going to America?'”
Listen to the segment here.

New allegations from the National Enquirer

A couple of weeks ago Donald Trump's friend who flies in Donald's jet and owns three supermarket tabloids, published in The National Enquirer a story alleging that Ted Cruz has been unfaithful to his wife with at least five different women. Ted denied it and called it garbage. None of the women corroborated the Enquirer.

Today the Enquirer tries another allegation. Their entire cover is devoted to an "investigation" being done by the Enquirer alleging that Ted Cruz's father, Rafael Cruz, was seen in a photo standing near Lee Harvey Oswald. Oswald had on a white shirt and tie. So did Rafael Cruz. The blazing yellow headlines (they're always bright yellow, have you noticed) blared these words: TED CRUZ'S FATHER LINKED TO JFK ASSASSINATION.

I took the magazine up to the cash register and asked the price: $4.99! No thanks. I'll let some other blogger cough up the bucks for this one. Keep trying, Enquirer; I know you will.


Thursday, April 21, 2016

More changes to our $5, $10, and $20 bills

Bruce Wright reports at ibtimes,
The $5 bill is set to get an upgrade of sorts. While former President Abraham Lincoln’s image will still grace the front of it, the reverse side of the bill is set to "honor historic events that occurred at the Lincoln Memorial," including moments made memorable from the likes of civil rights icon Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., opera singer Marian Anderson and former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt, the U.S. Treasury Department announced Wednesday afternoon.

The news comes hours after the Treasury Department unveiled its plans to make significant changes to the appearances of the $20 and $10 bills.

...The selection of the three historic figures is noteworthy for a number of reasons, but the fact that they're all either African-American or women, or in Anderson's case, both, is a significant milestone for American currency, which traditionally has only featured white people and has very rarely included a woman. It was not immediately clear when the new $5 bill will go into circulation.

King, Anderson and Roosevelt are all linked to the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., which explains in part why their images were chosen to be featured on the new $5 bill.

Anderson, who is African-American, performed in 1939 at the Lincoln Memorial. Her performance is credited with helping to "advance civil rights" during segregation, the Treasury Department said. Roosevelt helped make that performance happen.

King's "I Have a Dream" speech also took place at the Lincoln Memorial. That address

called for an end to U.S. racism in addition to a plea for equal civil and economic rights for African-Americans.

The $20 bill will also get new treatment in the form of featuring renowned runaway slave Harriet Tubman on its front, replacing Andrew Jackson. It is expected to enter into circulation in 2020. The new $10 bill will keep Alexander Hamilton on the front, but its flip side "will celebrate the history of the women’s suffrage movement," according to the Treasury Department. The back will showcase images of historic American women, including Sojourner Truth, who is African-American, and Susan B. Anthony, whose likeness has already graced the front of a dollar coin.
Read more here.

Simply being an insult artist doesn't make you politically incorrect.

Here is another analysis by Ace of Spades that I find to be right on:
Trump Opposes North Carolina's Different-Gender Bathroom Law: "Leave It The Way It Is"

Prediction: within 24 hours he announces a major reversal on this plank and begins using the most extreme language possible to put him in sync with what he imagines conservative opinion to be.

"North Carolina did something that was very strong, and they are paying a big price and there’s a lot of problems," responded Trump.
"North Carolina, what they are going through with all of the business that’s leaving and the strife-- and that'a on both sides. Leave it the way it is. There have been very few complaints the way it is. People go, they use the bathroom that they feel is appropriate, there has been so little trouble," he said.

"Strong" is one of Trump's favorite words. He usually means it in a positive way when discussing his own policies, but he occasionally deploys it as a nice-sounding put-down to mean "too conservative."

Trump is a very reactive and improvisational guy. By which I mean a bullshit artist. He's trying to figure out what to say he believes at any given moment, rather than having a core of things he actually believes.

Although a good case could be made for the electoral viability of someone who wasn't so damned ideological about about everything (as Cruz is), we constantly see the limitations of Trump's no-core-beliefs belief system as well. Not having an intellectually defensible position (as he hasn't thought much about these things) and not having a core of things he feels strongly to be true (again, as he hasn't thought about these things), he tends to guess, get the answer wrong, then come back with a harsh formulation going the exact opposite direction to try to prove his non-existent bona fides.

Now the guy who's selling himself both as "Mr. Anti-Political Correctness" and as a guy who can reconform himself to be "presidential" and broadly acceptable to the public veers too far to the left side of that balance. When he gets pushback, which he will, he'll wind up veering too far to the other side; he might start talking about bathroom rapes. Which are a real thing, don't get me wrong. But such things have to be discussed delicately; you wouldn't want to make it sound like most transgenders (or most Mexican immigrants) are rapists.

Well, no use criticizing Trump for things he ain't even done yet. But I've seen this movie before. He doesn't really understand conservatives, and when his natural liberalism gets him into trouble with his conservative supporters, he drops something ugly to convince them all he's really "One of Them."

This episode does smoke out Trump as to which things he's "not politically correct" about. There is definitely a class of things he's not politically correct about -- sometimes about immigration, but mostly about affronts to Mr. Trump himself. When challenged, he behaves in a decidedly "politically incorrect" way, which most people would simply call "rude" and "ill-mannered" and "coarse."

But on the things conservatives really want him to be politically incorrect about -- challenging the tyranny of liberal assumptions which so easily dictate liberal conclusions (as they're designed to do) -- he's reliably politically correct himself. Planned Parenthood is an important, fantastic women's health resource. I'm softening, I'm changing my position on H1-Bs -- we need these great people doing the jobs American's won't do (or can't do). Forcing schools and businesses to allow men with penises in the women's rooms has caused so, so few problems, in all honesty, if I can be frank.

One might question: on exactly which questions, apart from immigration (partly walked back, and probably walked back even further in interviews with the New York Times) and defending himself personally, is Trump actually politically incorrect?

Simply being an insult artist doesn't make you politically incorrect.

Obama's an insult artist too.

A never-ending Vicious Circle

Ace of Spades writes about the phenomena of
people take pleasure in punishing people for wronging others.

That's the third-party part, or the "altruistic" part -- apes punish other apes for wronging themselves, but apes don't care if you harm another ape.

Humans -- possibly uniquely -- do.

This is an altruistic impulse and it underlies our sense of fairness in society generally.

But there is a dark side to it. Because humans are hard-wired to really, really enjoy punishing others for their alleged sins against other people -- we derive actual pleasure from it; it's that feeling of angry righteous fury political partisans feel -- and sometimes we go deliberately looking for slights to others, which could be entirely imaginary, to righteously punish.

...people are willing to use more vicious punishments when defending the alleged wrongs inflicted on others than they are to avenge wrongs perpetrated on themselves.

This may be because people are naturally more tough than they credit others with being.

And so if you say "You're an asshole" to someone, he just shrugs it off -- who cares?

But if you say "You're an asshole" to one of his designated victim cohorts he is honor-bound to defend and avenge, he assumes a bunch of things about his victim cohort -- that they're weak; that they're excessively sensitive and can be wounded by trivial things; and that they are utterly incapable of standing up for themselves -- and permits himself to engage in cruelty he would never consider indulging in on his own behalf to avenge the wronged third party.

This could be why furious liberals are so furious and nasty about the Washington Redskins team name, but if you ask the actual Indians about it, they shrug and say "What's the big deal? Isn't it a compliment?" and actually name their own high school teams the "Redskins" and other Indian-themed names.

But when you're coming in to defend these Indians -- well, you assume a level of offense on their behalf that really doesn't exist, then you assume they're weak and need a White Knight (usually an actual caucasian White Knight, actually) and you get nastier defending the Poor Indians than you'd ever be defending anyone apart from your own children.

And that's why the internet is so terrible.

Third-party or altruistic punishment is the neurobiological impulse at the root of morality itself.

But it should be restrained. And people need to think deeply: Are these poor souls are being so cruel in defending really so weak that they cannot defend themselves? Are they really this sensitive that they are wounded and scarred by the most trivial verbal gaffe?

Is the imagined cruelty one seeks to avenge actually greater than the deliberate and calculated cruelty the avenger seeks to visit upon the supposed original wrongdoer?

Is the cruelty one is about to deliberately add to the world really likely to make the world a less cruel place? Or just a crueler one?

And one needs to ask -- am I really doing this to save my poor victim cohort, or am I just doing it because cruelty feels good and this is the only socially-permissible outlet for behaving cruelly?

It's this cycle -- imagining a minor slight to be a major one, then escalating this minor alleged cruelty into a major bout of intentional, coordinated group cruelty (group shaming, viral punishment, etc.) -- that is turning the internet, and the society that it shapes, into a never-ending Vicious Circle.

It's time to start letting some things go, and start letting the alleged third-party victims maybe do some complaining and self-defending first before the world jumps in to make every minor squabble a major cultural battle.
Read more here.

Today Show Trump town hall today: Trump said Kaitlin Jenner could use any bathroom he chooses at Trump Tower. Also says Republican platform should be changed on abortion to include exceptions for rape, incest and the life of the mother.

Men who claim to be women can now use the women's bathrooms at Target

Warner Todd Huston reports for Breitbart that
The Target department store chain has jumped into the transgender bathroom debate by declaring that men who claim to be women may use whatever bathroom or changing room they choose.

“Inclusivity is a core belief at Target,” a new company statement reads. “It’s something we celebrate. We stand for equality and equity, and strive to make our guests and team members feel accepted, respected and welcomed in our stores and workplaces every day.”

The retailer added, “We welcome transgender team members and guests to use the restroom or fitting room facility that corresponds with their gender identity.”

“Everyone deserves to feel like they belong,” the statement concluded. “You’ll always be accepted, respected and welcomed at Target.”
Read more here.