Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The Trump "Handle"

Writing for RealClearPolitics, David Byler argues the odds quoted by Nate Silver and others concerning whether Clinton or Trump will win are misleading to many who see them. He makes good points, worth considering.

A factor Byler doesn't mention is that Trump has been defying the odds since he first entered the race. Whether through luck or enormous insight, Trump has a handle on how many Americans view their lives and how government impacts them.

Trump understands what ticks people off and what turns them on. Like any good salesman, he is basing his program on their preference profile.

I don't know who will win in November, nobody does with any certainty. What I know, following an old horse player's adage, is that you bet 'em based on the way they've run in the past. Trump has done a lot of winning, he could easily do so again. Betting against him could be a winning bet, but it isn't a smart bet.

NR Foresees Nose-Holding

Writing in a National Review that has, recently, been associated almost exclusively with #NeverTrump purists, Victor Davis Hanson gets real and finds Trump better than Clinton:
The election is about just two things. First, is Trump’s agenda more conservative than Clinton’s, or, inversely, is Clinton’s more liberal than Trump’s? And, second, is either Clinton or Trump so morally flawed, so incompetent, or so inexperienced as to render their policies and platforms irrelevant to their own followers?

I seriously doubt that many Democrats will swear not to sully themselves by voting for a prevaricator and incompetent, and, likewise, I expect by November most Republicans will be ready to “hold their nose” and vote for Trump.

Like it or not, this election is about degree, relative political agendas, and comparative hazard, not about marrying ideological purity and consistency with sobriety and character.
There you have the ancient "lesser of two evils" principle, dressed up in pretty words. We know Clinton is evil, there is some chance Trump will be less so. The downside on both is pretty bad, but Trump has more upside potential.

Denial ... Not Just a River

Sixty-one people spoke on the first day of the Democrat convention, some obviously briefly, others at length. According to Politico's Politifact:
Based on our searches of C-SPAN closed-captioning text, Congressional Quarterly transcripts and other video archiving services, we couldn’t find any speaker who mentioned 'ISIS,' 'Islamic' 'terror,' 'terrorist,' or 'terrorism' during the first day of the convention.
Unbelievable. Somebody goose that stupid ostrich-in-a-donkey-suit to get its head out of the sand.

Missing the Red, White, and Blue

Lucianne.com provides a link to a quick note with photos in The Daily Caller, comparing the Republican and Democrat conventions.
PHILADELPHIA — The Daily Caller is at the Democratic National Convention Monday and it doesn’t look like there are any American flags.

The stage is bland and grey, with no red, white or blue present. A thorough look at the crowd present also turns up no American flags.

The Republican National Convention in Cleveland on the other hand was filled with Americana.
Sad, isn't it? Both major parties should be patriotic and proud of our country, whatever its faults. Patriotism is still "in" with Republicans, with Democrats not so much.

Perhaps that explains why President Obama has acted ashamed of the U.S. on his trips abroad. Clinton promises four more years of hang dog diplomacy.

Sharing a Work-Around

Let me share with you a trick I've recently figured out. Perhaps you've been using it for years. The problem is that certain publications, The Washington Post comes to mind, limit the number of their articles you can view per month.

What I've discovered is that many of their articles are syndicated to other papers around the country, normally with the same title. Put that title into your search engine and look for other papers running the WaPo article in syndication. Their sites are normally not embargoed.

Here is an example. RealClearPolitics linked to a WaPo Chris Cillizza article entitled "Yes, Of Course Donald Trump Can Win." I went there and found I'd exceeded my monthly limit of, I believe, five.

So I put that title into DuckDuckGo and up popped The Durango Herald, which had picked up Cillizza's piece on syndication. They allowed me to visit their site and read the article to which the Post wouldn't give me access. If I decided to reference the piece I'd reference it to the Durango paper, and indicate it originally appeared in the Post.

Happy surfing!

Wrong Messenger, Wrong Message

Politico reports Michelle Obama said, in her speech to the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia last night, the following:
Don't let anyone ever tell you that this country is not great, that somehow we need to make it great again. Because this right now is the greatest country on Earth.
How short does she imagine our memories could be? When her most memorable former appraisal of the United States was uttered in 2008, when she was 44, also according to Politico:
For the first time in my adult life, I am really proud of my country.
According to Ms. Obama, all of that "greatness" must have happened in the last nearly 8 years. Does her assertion square with your experience of these years?

The Obama years have brought recession, continued war, terrorism, angry racial polarization, open borders, political correctness, sexting, men in women's restrooms, assassination of police, a broken political process in both parties, the near-death of U.S. manufacturing, historic levels of workforce nonparticipation, interest rates near zero, a doubling Federal deficit, metrosexuals, a tattooed generation, plummeting birth rates and designer street drugs.

Not to mention a vast loss of international prestige and influence, the rise of China and rebirth of militant Russia, and metastasizing political Islam while our military shrinks.

I'd say we have a ways to go to achieve greatness. Looking at that list, I believe you'll agree.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Becoming Leak-Proof

People make the assumption their emails are private, as for example the 20,000 DNC emails that Wikileaks recently released. The people who wrote those never expected them to circulate beyond the intended recipient.

I have difficulty understanding this "belief in electronic privacy." I begin with the assumption anything written or spoken on electronic media can become public knowledge. Not "will become" but certainly "can become" known beyond the target audience.

The sheer volume of electronic communication serves to camouflage much of what we send. And most of it is of no interest whatsoever to others. However, given the ability to search for key words, what you should assume is that anything salacious, anything that can get you in trouble with your boss, the police, a spouse, or someone else whose opinion matters to you, has a reasonable chance of winding up in their hands.

The answer is self-censorship. Don't phone or write things that can later cause you grief. Face-to-face is safer, but not 100% safe, your conversational partner could be wearing a wire, could be recording your words.

Self-censorship begins with understanding what you might write or say that could come back to bite you in a tender spot. Most human communication does not have this potential, if only because of its utter banality.

We "Did Too Much"

Can you reasonably argue that Syria would have been a worse mess if Assad still ruled the whole country? I cannot. Seth Cantey cannot either, as he writes for USA Today.
The U.S. and its partners could have, and should have, let Assad win.

The main problem with U.S. policy toward Syria is not that the administration did too little early in the conflict. It is that the administration did too much. If the U.S. and its partners had not intervened, Assad would have stamped out the civil war before it began.

A brutal dictator would have retained control of his country, but the death toll would be lower, Syria would be more stable, the refugee crisis might not have happened, and ISIL might never have taken its current form.

When we look at Iraq and Libya, we see obvious examples of the unintended consequences of intervention. We should see that when we look at Syria, too.
The same applies to Saddam's Iraq and Gaddafi's Libya, but perhaps not to the Taliban's Afghanistan. Policy prescription: the only dictators who require toppling are those attacking Americans.

A Collection of Victim Groups

Oren Cass writes at City Journal about the descent of the Democrats into victim group politics. Some key points:
In early June, Hillary Clinton’s campaign website featured about 30 issue-specific pages focused not on a nation with problems to be solved but on discrete victim groups with wounds to be salved.

Based on an examination of Clinton’s website, “racial justice” is her campaign’s organizing principle.

Wherever racial linkages weaken, gender stands ready to pick up the slack.

Framing issues as who instead of what leads to a governing model that would divide society by race, gender, sexuality, profession, and location, targeting policies to each defined demographic.

In a world of fixed resources, such a model inevitably undermines the idea of equal protection under the law, pits groups against one another, and leaves some explicitly favored by government as winners.
The alternative to viewing the Democrats as a criminal conspiracy masquerading as a political party is to view them as a collection of victim groups seeking redress, seeking special favors to help equalize their situations.

I am reminded of the Kurt Vonnegut dystopian short story Harrison Bergeron in which everyone without a handicap is required to wear shackles (or equivalent) to slow them down and hamper their actions.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Hillary Clinton, Another John Fell

English poet Tom Brown supposedly wrote this rhyme in 1680, and spoke it to Dr. John Fell, the then-Dean of Christ Church, Oxford. I was reminded of the verse when reading a Slate article about why people don't like Hillary Clinton.
I do not like thee, Doctor Fell,
The reason why -- I cannot tell;
But this I know, and know full well,
I do not like thee, Doctor Fell.
Life is like that, our likes aren't always rational.  Hillary just pi**es off people.

Wikipedia reports the poem was a very loose translation of the 32nd epigram of Martial, a Roman epigramist.

Wasserman Schultz Update

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), Chair of the Democratic National Committee, will resign at the end of the convention about to begin in Philadelphia. She has been under fire for Committee emails divulged by Wikileaks. See the story at Politico.

The emails show her DNC was actively working to stymie Bernie Sanders and aid Hillary Clinton, actions the DNC was not authorized to take. She may be added to some instrumentality of the Clinton campaign as a functionary or spokesperson.

Quote of the Day

Steve Sebelius writing in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, about Hillary Clinton:
Not being indicted isn’t the same thing as being innocent.
So true.

World Affairs 101

Okay, foreign affairs fans, herewith a brief primer on an infrequently discussed feature of diplomacy that is both blessing and curse. That feature is the "rule of unanimity" that prevails in many, dare I say most, international gatherings.

Organizations like ASEAN, NATO, the EU, and others, operate on the basis that the organization will only take a stand on things all members can agree upon. This means a single holdout nation can neuter the organization.

We have an example before us. Reuters reports via Yahoo News that, at an ongoing ASEAN meeting in Laos, Cambodia has refused to agree to a communique concerning the South China Sea.

The other member states wish included a reference to a recent UNCLOS court finding in The Hague. The court ruled China has no special dominion over the reefs and rocks scattered across the SCS. By holding out, Cambodia has prevented ASEAN from taking a stand the other members favor.

It is likely China offered Cambodia serious inducements in trade or infrastructure investments in return for an agreement to veto inclusion of the court's ruling. Obviously no quid pro quo will be admitted.

This is a very current example of the downside to unanimity. The upside is that, when all members do agree, their very unanimity makes arguing with whatever position is taken quite difficult. So for all its faults, diplomats hang onto the unanimity principle.

Sometimes, as in the case of NATO, the member nations in time of peace agreed to a charter which binds each to act in times of crisis. Now, if a member decides a change in that charter is needed, one nation could block the proposed change.

The Name Game

The story of Cain and Abel - Adam and Eve's two sons - is a Biblical meme from Genesis with which many are familiar. Now Clinton's pick of Tim Kaine as VP nominee has triggered all sorts of snarky alliteration and homophonic word play, around the name "Kaine" which is pronounced identically to "Cain."

Some favorites: Kaine and Unable, or even more apt, Kaine and Enable, making reference to Hillary's role as an enabler for Bill's misdeeds with a whole procession of willing and unwilling women. Then there's the "Democrats so blind they needed a white Kaine" snark.
Too much fun.

Clinton VP Pick Sleaze

Writing for Politico on the last day of June, Isaac Arnsdorf chronicles all the gifts Tim Kaine accepted as Lieutenant Governor and Governor of Virginia. Now Hillary Clinton has ignored the apparent impropriety and appointed him her Vice Presidential running mate.
Kaine reported more than $160,000 in gifts from 2001 to 2009, mostly for travel to and from political events and conferences, according to disclosures compiled by the Virginia Public Access Project. The givers included political supporters, a drug company that soon after bought a facility in Virginia, and Dominion, the state’s biggest provider of electricity.

Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine took advantage of the state’s lax gift laws to receive an $18,000 Caribbean vacation, $5,500 in clothes and a trip to watch George Mason University play in the NCAA basketball Final Four during his years as lieutenant governor and governor, according to disclosures he filed.
Isn't that exactly what the Clintons have traditionally done, take money and favors from people wishing to buy influence? They've got to think Kaine's their kind of guy. Hat tip to Lucianne.com for the link.

Scandal in Philadelphia

The "experts" all said the Republican convention was chaotic. Now the Chair of the Democratic National Committee, Debbie Wasserman Schultz has lost her speaking slot at their convention. Reince Priebus of the RNC never suffered that fate, we heard him speak in Cleveland. CNN reports the story.

Wasserman Schultz will not speak after Wikileaks made public roughly 20,000 DNC emails which show the DNC was strongly (and inappropriately) biased against Bernie Sanders. This scandal will make it nearly impossible for Clinton to secure the votes of Sanders many backers, who must be furious at their guy's treatment.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Choosing Poorly

It is rumored via Bloomberg Politics that Donald Trump will invest perhaps 20 million in super-PACs to defeat Ted Cruz and John Kasich, should either ever run again.  Both, in different ways, dissed Trump during the convention just ended.

Paraphrasing what the old Templar from Indiana Jones III might have said about crossing the GOP's Godfather: "They chose poorly."

Timely Good News

Do you remember a story three months ago about Virginia Governor (and Democrat hack) Terry McAuliffe issuing a blanket pardon to over 200,000 convicted felons who'd completed their state prison sentences, thus enabling them to register and vote? CNN reports the Virginia Supreme Court has ruled McAuliffe is not constitutionally entitled to issue blanket pardons to entire groups.

McAuliffe assumed, and most observers agreed, the overwhelming majority of former felons will vote for a Democrat if enabled to do so. The Democratic Party is, after all, best understood as a kind of criminal conspiracy masquerading as a political party, so the fit is a natural one.

Frustrated by the court's decision, McAuliffe has indicated he will have his office get busy generating individual pardons for former felons, which he will sign one at a time. It is estimated he won't get very far through the 200,000 by election day, perhaps a few thousand. I predict he will tire of the effort and quietly let it drop by Thanksgiving.

Krauthammer Agrees

Columnist and Fox News contributor Charles Krauthammer describing the Ted Cruz convention non-endorsement, as quoted by RealClearPolitics.
Last night what Cruz delivered was the longest suicide note in American political history.
That's essentially what we wrote two days ago and, being fair to Charles, he made this comment yesterday.

DNC System "Rigged" After All

It turns out Bernie Sanders' claims that "the system is rigged" were true, at least with respect to the Democratic National Committee's actions vis-a-vis the two candidates seeking the Dem nomination: Clinton and Sanders.

Leaks by Wikileaks of DNC emails show a pattern of pro-Clinton bias at the highest levels of that organization. ABC News reports Sanders' campaign manager is steamed and wants answers. It is possible DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz will have to "fall on her sword" over this flap.