Monday, June 26, 2017

Cruising the Web

Matthew Continetti has a scorching column arguing that the "political class doesn't know what it's talking about."
Events are turning me into a radical skeptic. I no longer believe what I read, unless what I am reading is an empirically verifiable account of the past. I no longer have confidence in polls, because it has become impossible to separate the signal from the noise. What I have heard from the media and political class over the last several years has been so spectacularly proven wrong by events, again and again, that I sometimes wonder why I continue to read two newspapers a day before spending time following journalists on Twitter. Habit, I guess. A sense of professional obligation, I suppose. Maybe boredom.

The fact is that almost the entirety of what one reads in the paper or on the web is speculation. The writer isn't telling you what happened, he is offering an interpretation of what happened, or offering a projection of the future. The best scenario is that these theories are novel, compelling, informed, and based on reporting and research. But that is rarely the case. More often the interpretations of current events, and prophesies of future ones, are merely the products of groupthink or dogma or emotions or wish-casting, memos to friends written by 27-year-olds who, in the words of Ben Rhodes, "literally know nothing." There was a time when newspapers printed astrology columns. They no longer need to. The pseudoscience is on the front page.
He gives quite a few examples from the past year in politics both here and in Britain of just how off-base the conventional political wisdom has been. I'm sure that all of us could add in more examples. After all, how many of these pundits predicted the outcome of our election or of the British elections or the Brexit vote? Yet they will all appear on TV and pontificate about their guess as if it's wisdom handed down from the Mount.

Now some people on TV have expertise within a policy field and I respect their commentary on whatever policy question is being discussed much more than others. But those who are purely political commentators with no expertise outside of politics are really just paid to make their best guess. And a lot of their analysis is colored by their partisan or ideological affinities. Or they just want to say stuff that will win them buzz on social media. So the hotter their takes, the better for their mentions.

Peggy Noonan, not the most cynical of people, has a very cynical thought.
They live on ratings, which determine advertising rates. Hillary Clinton got 2.9 million more votes than Mr. Trump, so the anti-Trump audience is larger. Moreover, people who oppose Mr. Trump tend to be more affluent, more educated, more urban. They’re more liberal, of course, and they’re younger. They’re a desirable demographic. The pro-Trump audience is more rural, more working- and middle-class, older. A particularly heartless media professional might sum them up this way: “Their next big lifestyle choice will be death.”

So, if you are a person who programs or sets the tone of network fare and you want to take a side—you shouldn’t, but you want to!—you throw your lot with the anti-Trump demo, serving them the kind of journalistic approaches and showbiz attitudes they’re likely to enjoy.

Mr. Trump, you are certain, won’t last: He’ll bring himself down or be brought down. You want to be with the winning side. So play to those who hate him, exclude others, call it integrity and reap the profits.

That is my theory: media bias now is in part a financial decision, instead of what it used to be, a good old-fashioned human and institutional flaw.

This contributes to public division—to the great estrangement we see in America. I talk to media folk a lot, being one, and haven’t found anyone who’s said, “Why yes, that’s exactly what we’re doing, deepening our national divisions for profit!” Although I shared my theory this week with a senior manager of a news organization who quickly mentioned another major news organization and said: “I think that’s what they’re doing.”

But I do think it’s part of what is going on. I add only that it’s not only cynical and destructive, as a business strategy it’s stupid. Bias is boring. It’s predictable, rote, is an audience-limiter. What has value at a time like this is playing it straight and presenting the facts. That’s what they ought to do instead of taking a side.
Yeah, as if that is going to happen.

In that way, they're a lot like some of the worst people talking sports on TV and radio. I really noticed that after the NBA draft. The sports reporters who really knew something could talk about each draftees actual strengths and weaknesses and how they fit into that team's line-up. I could learn something from listening to them. The other ones just spent their time talking about LaVar Ball and what the Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons tweeted about Lonzo. Really? I could go on TV and talk about that - why would I need to tune in and listen to that? And the media who criticize him and the same sources that have made him so well-known. They're playing for ratings and, alas, LaVar Ball increases ratings. So they give him all the free time just as the media helped Trump during the primaries. They make these people prominent and then spend their time tsk-tsking over what they've created.

Continentti is right. They're wrong about everything.

Of course, that won't stop me from reading political pundits' commentary (and probably linking to them) and listening to sports TV and radio because I still enjoy the fray. But occasionally, it is worthwhile to pause and consider what it really going on.


25% Off in Office and School Supplies

Deals in Office Products

Deals in Home and Kitchen

I can't really tell about the Senate GOP's health plan since I've seen a lot of people whom I respect either criticizing it or praising it. Or at least pointing out that it's better than the alternative - keeping Obamacare. It's clear that there will have to be changes to get to 50 votes in the Senate. This proposed reform from Ted Cruz seems like quite a reasonable compromise.
Cruz is one of four Republican senators who say they can't support the draft bill released by GOP leaders, and said the reason for his opposition is that the bill doesn't do enough to lower premiums. Giving insurers more flexibility not to meet Obamacare mandates would be one way to help create lower prices.

"We need common sense reforms to reduce the cost of premiums," he told reporters Thursday.

One of the compromises he is floating would let insurers offer plans that don't meet Obamacare's insurer mandates such as essential health benefits like maternity care or hospitalization.

The idea, which began with a 2015 opinion piece from former Sen. Phil Gramm, would force insurers to sell one plan on Obamacare's exchanges that met the law's mandates. That same insurer could then sell plans in the same state that don't meet the mandates.

"It leaves existing plans on the market but it gives new options so that people can purchase far more affordable health insurance," Cruz said.
I like that. I just don't know if it could be done through the reconciliation process. But there seems no reason why the GOP should continue the idea that insurance companies must offer all the mandates that the Obama administration imposed. And, as long as the insurance companies offered one policy like that, they could offer more of a menu to let people choose what best fits their needs. I've always thought that a lot of people simply want a catastrophic plan. Another one of the GOP senators opposing the proposed plan is Mike Lee. It sounds like he would go along with a proposal to give people more choice.
"For all my frustrations about the process and my disagreements with the substance of [the bill], I would still be willing to vote for it if it allowed states and/or individuals to opt out of the Obamacare system free-and-clear to experiment with different forms of insurance, benefits packages, and care provision options," Lee said. "Liberal states might try single-payer systems, while conservatives might emphasize health savings accounts. Some people embrace association health plans or so-called 'medishare' ministry models. My guess is different approaches will work for different people in different places – like everything else in life."
I'm all for laboratories of democracy. Let's see what works best.

He's only written a handful of opinions, but I'm already thrilled with Justice Gorsuch. Jonathan Adler looks at the textualist arguments that Gorsuch has made in those opinions...and it's a beautiful thing. In a unanimous ruling about what constitutes a debt collector under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, Gorsuch set forth this statement that would warm the cockles of any textualist's heart.
Gorsuch stressed that it is not for the courts to override or extend statutory text to conform with legislative purpose.
while it is of course our job to apply faithfully the law Congress has written, it is never our job to rewrite a constitutionally valid statutory text under the banner of speculation about what Congress might have done had it faced a question that, on everyone’s account, it never faced. . . . Legislation is, after all, the art of compromise, the limitations expressed in statutory terms often the price of passage, and no statute yet known “pursues its [stated] purpose[ ] at all costs.” . . . For these reasons and more besides we will not presume with petitioners that any result consistent with their account of the statute’s overarching goal must be the law but will presume more modestly instead “that [the] legislature says . . . what it means and means . . . what it says.”
And all the other justices signed on to that! If only they all believed it. And his dissent in another case demonstrates that not all the justices are as willing to leave statute-writing to legislators.
Today, the court decided Perry v. Merit Systems Protection Board. The case concerned a technical issue only lawyers could love: Whether the proper forum of MSPB dismissals of mixed cases on jurisdictional grounds is a federal district court or the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote for a seven-justice majority. Gorsuch dissented, joined by Thomas. Here again, Gorsuch focused on the text.

Gorsuch’s dissenting opinion in Perry is very conversational. It begins:
Anthony Perry asks us to tweak a congressional statute—just a little—so that it might (he says) work a bit more efficiently. No doubt his invitation is well meaning. But it’s one we should decline all the same. Not only is the business of enacting statutory fixes one that belongs to Congress and not this Court, but taking up Mr. Perry’s invitation also seems sure to spell trouble. Look no further than the lower court decisions that have already ventured where Mr. Perry says we should follow. For every statutory “fix” they have offered, more problems have emerged, problems that have only led to more “fixes” still. New challenges come up just as fast as the old ones can be gaveled down. Respectfully, I would decline Mr. Perry’s invitation and would instead just follow the words of the statute as written.
Later on, Gorsuch explains why courts should confine themselves to the text, even if this may produce a potentially problematic result.
Mr. Perry’s is an invitation I would run from fast. If a statute needs repair, there’s a constitutionally prescribed way to do it. It’s called legislation. To be sure, the demands of bicameralism and presentment are real and the process can be protracted. But the difficulty of making new laws isn’t some bug in the constitutional design: it’s the point of the design, the better to preserve liberty. Besides, the law of unintended consequences being what it is, judicial tinkering with legislation is sure only to invite trouble.
That last paragraph is beautiful! Somewhere, I bet that Antonin Scalia is resting comfortable on a cloud and applauding.

It's all conjecture because, again, no one really knows anything, but it's rather fun to picture the collective aneurism aneurysm on the left this would cause.
The Supreme Court enters its final week of work before a long summer hiatus with action expected on the Trump administration's travel ban and a decision due in a separation of church and state case that arises from a Missouri church playground.

The biggest news of all, though, would be if Justice Anthony Kennedy were to use the court's last public session on Monday to announce his retirement.

To be sure, Kennedy has given no public sign that he will retire this year and give President Donald Trump his second high court pick in the first months of his administration. Kennedy's departure would allow conservatives to take firm control of the court.
But Kennedy turns 81 next month and has been on the court for nearly 30 years. Several of his former law clerks have said they think he is contemplating stepping down in the next year or so. Kennedy and his clerks were gathering over the weekend for a reunion that was pushed up a year and helped spark talk he might be leaving the court.
Ruth Marcus is already freaking out.
But his departure would be terrible for the court and terrible for the country. It could not come at a worse time. Any court vacancy these days, under a president of either party, triggers a battle between liberal and conservative forces. Kennedy’s retirement would unleash nomination Armageddon, given the feral political environment and the pivotal role he plays on the closely divided court.
Except, because of Harry Reid's use of the nuclear option to get a few appellate nominees approved without the filibuster paved the way for Mitch McConnell to extend Reid's option to the Supreme Court. Once again, liberals will have cause to wonder whether it's wise to create precedents to help Democrats when there is no guarantee that Republicans won't one day be in control.

Although there are plenty of rumors about what Kennedy might do, David Lat who blogs at Above the Law gives his own arguments to shoot down those rumors.

Best Deals in Vitamins and Supplements

Interesting Finds at Amazon: Updated Daily

Spring Savings in Grocery and Gourmet Food

Home and Kitchen Markdowns

What is the over/under of the percentage of media attention that Bernie Sanders will receive on the news that he and his wife are being investigated by the FBI compared to the leak that Trump is under investigation for either collusion with the Russians (since disavowed by Comey) or for obstruction of justice (still not clear)? If you had somewhere close to zero attention, you'd be on the right track given that Sanders was on Meet the Press yesterday and didn't get one question about this story.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and his wife, Jane Sanders have hired prominent defense attorneys amid an FBI investigation into a loan Jane Sanders obtained to expand Burlington College while she was its president, CBS News confirms.

Politico Magazine first reported the Sanders had hired lawyers to defend them in the probe. Sanders' top adviser Jeff Weaver told CBS News the couple has sought legal protection over federal agents' allegations from a January 2016 complaint accusing then-President of Burlington College, Ms. Sanders, of distorting donor levels in a 2010 loan application for $10 million from People's United Bank to purchase 33 acres of land for the institution.

According to Politico, prosecutors might also be looking into allegations that Sen. Sanders' office inappropriately urged the bank to approve the loan.
Maybe it's all garbage and politically motivated since the guy who filed the complaint was the chairman of the Trump campaign in Vermont. But I can't imagine a Republican going on a news show while it is being reported that he and his wife are under an FBI investigation for a year and a half (thus beginning under Obama) and not getting a single question about it.

At this point, three of the four finalists for the presidential nomination are under FBI investigation. Amazing.

Tools and Home Improvement

Today’s Deals

Fashion Sales and Deals

For some reason, Oliver Stone has taken upon himself to interview Vladimir Putin. And in those interviews, there is one episode that appears to show Putin showing Stone a video of military action and claiming it is Russian operations in Syria. Oops.
Russian social media is reacting strongly to something President Vladimir Putin showed filmmaker Oliver Stone for the director’s much-hyped, four-part series of free-flowing chats with the long-time Russian leader.

In episode three of “The Putin Interviews,” the Russian president shows Stone footage on a cellphone of what he claims are Russian operations in Syria. You see heavy bombardment, huge clouds and men running.

The problem? It may not be Russian operations at all.

The Conflict Intelligence Team, a group of Russian researchers who track Russian involvement in military conflicts, says the footage is U.S. Department of Defense video, from either 2009 or 2013, showing anti-Taliban operations in Afghanistan. It appears to have been originally posted on Military.com. According to CIT researcher Kirill Mikhailov, someone got hold of it, dubbed recordings of conversations between Ukrainian air force pilots over it, and published it last year, on the internet, as Russian military video from Syria, to see what viewers would do with it. Mikhailov calls it"a bit of amateur fake news bait."

....The Pentagon tells Fox News the video showed to Stone is not Russian military footage, and it does look like the original Military.com footage featuring Apaches.
The Kremlin has said that the video was part of a Ministry of Defense briefing to President Putin. It also said the phone he held up to Stone was not his, but an aide’s. The Kremlin says it will be able to authenticate the video, but won’t say how.

According to Russian network RT, Oliver Stone, at a festival in Norway, told the media “not to trivialize his documentary” over this.

"He brought out a phone and he showed it to us, we filmed it, and he said this was that,” Stone said about the incident. “Why would he fake it? I mean, the Russians did very well in terms of damages to ISIS in Syria.”

But Russian journalist and propaganda expert Alexey Kovalev said the video is a fake.

“It’s obviously not what Putin says it is,” he said. “That much is abundantly clear. And it tells you a lot about what kind of intel Putin is fed by his army of ‘Yes Men’.”

Meanwhile, Russian social media has turned the whole story into one big meme-a-thon, superimposing the Brooklyn Bridge onto Putin’s phone—look, it’s the new bridge to Crimea!

But Mikhailov of CIT told Fox News that jokes and memes aside: “If the man who has the nuclear codes gets fed un-fact-checked information and he’s the only one who makes big policy decisions in Russia, it is very concerning.”
The Russians indulging in #FakeNews - who would have dreamt of that happening?








Friday, June 23, 2017

Cruising the Web

When do progressives not care about women's rights - When the women suffering abuse, assault, and denial of human rights are Muslim. It always amazes me how progressives are more worried about seeming Islamophobic than they are about the suffering of women in Islamist societies. Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Asra Q. Nomani have a powerful column in the NYT about their experiences when they were invited to testify before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs about women and Islamism. Four female Democratic senators refused to ask either of them any questions at all. Not one single question. They were more interested in the perception that such a hearing shouldn't focus on one religion. These are women who profess to be so concerned about women's issues. So why wouldn't they care about sexism and misogyny within Islam?
[W]hat happened that day was emblematic of a deeply troubling trend among progressives when it comes to confronting the brutal reality of Islamist extremism and what it means for women in many Muslim communities here at home and around the world. When it comes to the pay gap, abortion access and workplace discrimination, progressives have much to say. But we’re still waiting for a march against honor killings, child marriages, polygamy, sex slavery or female genital mutilation.

Sitting before the senators that day were two women of color: Ayaan is from Somalia; Asra is from India. Both of us were born into deeply conservative Muslim families. Ayaan is a survivor of female genital mutilation and forced marriage. Asra defied Shariah by having a baby while unmarried. And we have both been threatened with death by jihadists for things we have said and done. Ayaan cannot appear in public without armed guards.

In other words, when we speak about Islamist oppression, we bring personal experience to the table in addition to our scholarly expertise. Yet the feminist mantra so popular when it comes to victims of sexual assault — believe women first — isn’t extended to us. Neither is the notion that the personal is political. Our political conclusions are dismissed as personal; our personal experiences dismissed as political.

That’s because in the rubric of identity politics, our status as women of color is canceled out by our ideas, which are labeled “conservative” — as if opposition to violent jihad, sex slavery, genital mutilation or child marriage were a matter of left or right. This not only silences us, it also puts beyond the pale of liberalism a basic concern for human rights and the individual rights of women abused in the name of Islam.

There is a real discomfort among progressives on the left with calling out Islamic extremism. Partly they fear offending members of a “minority” religion and being labeled racist, bigoted or Islamophobic. There is also the idea, which has tremendous strength on the left, that non-Western women don’t need “saving” — and that the suggestion that they do is patronizing at best. After all, the thinking goes, if women in America still earn less than men for equivalent work, who are we to criticize other cultures?

This is extreme moral relativism disguised as cultural sensitivity. And it leads good people to make excuses for the inexcusable. The silence of the Democratic senators is a reflection of contemporary cultural pressures. Call it identity politics, moral relativism or political correctness — it is shortsighted, dangerous and, ultimately, a betrayal of liberal values.

The hard truth is that there are fundamental conflicts between universal human rights and the principle of Shariah, or Islamic law, which holds that a woman’s testimony is worth half that of a man’s; between freedom of religion and the Islamist idea that artists, writers, poets and bloggers should be subject to blasphemy laws; between secular governance and the Islamist goal of a caliphate; between United States law and Islamist promotion of polygamy, child marriage and marital rape; and between freedom of thought and the methods of indoctrination, or dawa, with which Islamists propagate their ideas.
That moral relativism and fear of being seen as Islamaphobic should cancel out any concern for women tells me that the supposed concern for women's rights and other human rights is just a political platitude for these female progressives. If they truly cared about the goals of feminism, they would be concerned about women women who suffer under Islamic rule.

Tools and Home Improvement

Today’s Deals

Fashion Sales and Deals

I don't know if it's any comfort to her, but James Freeman at the WSJ is defending her...somewhat. He argues that it isn't all her fault.
In a nutshell, the structural problem for the contemporary Democratic party is that its funding constituency in mostly urban areas on the coasts embraces Nancy Pelosi’s left-wing politics, but most voters don’t. Considering this situation, an increasingly vocal group of Democratic lawmakers now seem willing to risk fewer donations from Ms. Pelosi’s coastal check-writers in the hope of collecting more votes further inland....

Ms. Pelosi’s extremism won’t sell in many parts of the country. But if Democrats are thinking they’ve erred in not addressing voters’ top priorities, then the blame doesn’t just belong to the House minority leader. A broad swath of the Democratic caucus has been only too happy to spend months casting aspersions on the patriotism of President Trump without ever offering any “collusion” evidence.

Why have Democrats spent so little time addressing the concerns of average voters? The popular dinosaur who made this column famous once formulated the Taranto Principle, which held that favorable coverage by liberal journalists could actually harm Democrats by encouraging them to advocate media-friendly but politically-suicidal policies. Perhaps a related phenomenon has been at work in the Trump era, as many journalists reward pols who offer fact-free analysis about Russia rather than ideas to boost economic growth and create jobs. In this case it’s not that voters oppose the Russia investigation; they just don’t think it will solve their problems.

Fortunately for Republicans, Pelosi is vowing to stay on as Minority Leader. This line summarizes why Republicans are finding her one of their strongest assets.
During the news conference, Pelosi boasted about her effectiveness as a leader, even though Democrats lost their majority in 2010 under her watch and have never come close to winning it back.

“I am a master legislator,” Pelosi declared. “I am a strategic, politically astute leader. My leadership is recognized by many around the country. That is why I am able to attract the [financial] support that I do, which is essential to our election, I am sad to say.”

Pelosi also pointed out that she led Democrats to the majority in the first place back in 2006 after a dozen years out of power.
Yeah, but what master legislating has she done recently? Reportedly, some Democratic House members are meeting to try to figure out how to ease her out of leadership. They better first figure out who their candidate to oust her will be. I don't imagine that there are Democrats out there chanting, "Steny, Steny, Steny!"

In the wake of the George special election, Bret Stephens also identifies a long-term problem for the Democrats.
Whatever else might be said about the race, Democrats didn’t lose for lack of political talent, campaign financing and organization or enthusiasm among their base. They lost because of their brand.

What is that? Democrats may think the brand is all about diversity, inclusion and fairness. But for millions of Americans, the brand is also about contempt — intellectual contempt of the kind Nimzowitsch exuded for his opponent (the grandmaster Fritz Sämisch, who, in fairness, was no slouch); moral contempt of the sort Hillary Clinton felt for Trump (never more evident than last year when Hillary Clinton wondered, “Why aren’t I fifty points ahead?”).

That contempt may be justified. But in politics, contempt had better not be visible. Voters notice.

That seems to have been what happened in the Sixth District the moment Democrats decided to turn the race into a referendum on Trump. “Republicans saw Ossoff’s campaign omnipresence as a political siege and call for resistance,” notes Billy Michael Honor, a Presbyterian minister and resident of the district and self-described progressive, in an astute column at The Huffington Post. “The end result being the Republican base outperforming an energized Democratic Party voter turnout campaign.”

Whatever their misgivings about Trump, those Republicans weren’t about to give Nancy Pelosi the satisfaction of a national victory. Contemporary liberalism now expresses itself chiefly in the language of self-affirmation and moral censure: of being the party of the higher-minded; of affixing the suffix “phobe” to millions of people who don’t appreciate being described as bigots.

It’s intolerable. It’s why so many well-educated Republicans who find nothing to admire in the president’s dyspeptic boorishness find even less to like in his opponents’ snickering censoriousness. It’s why a political strategy by Democrats that seeks to turn every local race into a referendum on Trump is likely to fail.

Alan Dershowitz warns against using the standard that his liberal colleagues are advocating using to charge Donald Trump with obstruction of justice - corrupt intent. Do they want to risk establishing the precedent that obstruction is in the eye of the beholder?
This is a dangerous argument that no civil libertarian should be pressing. Nor would they be pressing it if the shoe were on the other foot.

If Hillary Clinton had been elected and Republicans were investigating her for asking the attorney general to describe the investigation of her as a "matter" rather than a "case," my colleagues would be arguing against an expansive view of existing criminal statutes, as they did when Republicans were demanding that she be locked up for espionage. The same would be true if Bill Clinton or former Attorney General Loretta Lynch were being investigated for his visit to her when she was investigating his wife's misuse of email servers.

"Corrupt motive" is an extraordinarily vague and open-ended term that can be expanded or contracted at the whim of zealous or politically motivated prosecutors. It is bad enough when this accordion-like term is used in the context of economic corruption, but it is far worse, and more dangerous to liberty, when used in the context of political disagreements.

In commercial cases where corrupt intent may be an element, the act itself is generally not constitutionally protected. It often involves a gray area financial transaction. But in political cases, especially those not involving money, the act itself is constitutionally protected, and the motive, which is often mixed, is placed on trial. It becomes the sole criteria for turning a constitutionally authorized political act into a felony.

What constitutes a corrupt motive will often depend on the political bias of the accuser. For some Democrats, the motives of all Republicans are suspect. The same is true for some Republicans.

Deals in Jewelry - under $80

Deals and Coupons in Beauty

Luggage and Travel Deals

So much for Trump's efforts to fix the economy one company at a time. That deal with Carrier that he bragged about earlier to keep the plant in Indians? Well, now a lot of those jobs are going to Mexico.
Carrier, the heating and air-conditioning manufacturer, is laying off more than 600 employees from its Indianapolis plant next month, the same plant Trump vowed to keep on American soil, per CNBC. Those manufacturing jobs will go to Mexico, where labor is significantly cheaper.

Why it matters: Trump heralded the November deal as proof he'd live up to his pledge to protect U.S. jobs. And this comes just one day after Ford reversed its promise and shifted jobs to China instead of Mexico.
You know, it's almost as if politicians shouldn't get involved in promising special deals to rent-seeking companies.

Mollie Hemingway is dumbfounded
by the FBI's report on the shooting of the GOP baseball players. THey're claiming that they don't think the gunman had any "concrete plan to inflict violence" against Republicans and that the attack appeared "spontaneous" and it wasn't clear that he was targeting Republicans. Hemingway summarizes what we know and the FBI acknowledges about James Hodgkinson. See if this sounds like a man who didn't have a plan to shoot Republican congressman while they were practicing for the House baseball game.
The FBI admits that Hodgkinson:

-vociferously raged against Republicans in online forums,
-had a piece of paper bearing the names of six members of Congress,
-was reported for doing target practice outside his home in recent months before moving to Alexandria
-had mapped out a trip to the DC area,
-took multiple photos of the baseball field he would later shoot up, three days after the New York Times mentioned that Republicans practiced baseball at an Alexandria baseball field with little security,
-lived out of his va-n at the YMCA directly next door to the baseball field he shot up,
-legally purchased a rifle in March 2003 and 9 mm handgun “in November 2016,”
-modified the rifle at some point to accept a detachable magazine and replaced the original stock with a folding stock,
-rented a storage facility to hide hundreds of rounds of ammunition and additional rifle components,
-asked “Is this the Republican or Democrat baseball team?” before firing on the Republicans,
-ran a Google search for information on the “2017 Republican Convention” hours before the shooting,
-and took photos at high-profile Washington locations, including the east front plaza of the U.S. Capitol and the Dirksen Senate Office.
Yet the FBI doesn't think that he had any particular target in mind. Just imagine if the victims had been Democrats.
the media’s big problem right now is that everyone in the country knows how they’d be covering the shooting if the parties were reversed. Can you imagine if a shooter had visited the office of Sen. Ted Cruz and corresponded with two Republican senators? Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) gave emails to investigators last week but it was treated mostly as local news.

With trust in institutions at historic lows, and the bureaucracy beset by fears of politicization, the FBI made a poor decision to gaslight Americans by claiming that the assassination attempt wasn’t premeditated terrorism but a spontaneous “anger management” problem.

....The FBI’s briefing appears so contrary to the facts as to be insulting. When a man with a history of hating Republicans cases a location, takes pictures, verifies the targets are Republicans before opening fire, has a list of Republican politicians in his pocket, and shoots and nearly kills Republicans, it’s hard to swallow the FBI’s contention that the shooting was “spontaneous” with “no target.” The agency should reconsider whether it wants to troll Americans about something this serious.

As Sean Davis points out
, The NYT had reported where the GOP practiced baseball in that Alexandria park. On April 15 Hodgkinson went to this otherwise ordinary park and took pictures of it. Yet the FBI don't believe that those pictures represented any sort of surveillance of an intended site for shooting GOP congressmen.

David French explains why the desire that so many leftists have to limit speech that they regard as hate speech.
here is no limiting principle. If “How does this speech make you feel?” is the core question, it incentivizes victim politics and overreaction. Robust debate triggers robust emotions, and robust debate on the most sensitive issues — issues like race, gender, and sexuality — trigger the most robust of responses.

Lest anyone wonder about the actual definition of “hate speech,” look to campus and liberal activist groups. At Evergreen State College in Washington, a progressive professor’s statement against racial separation and division was deemed so hateful that he couldn’t safely conduct classes on campus. Influential pressure groups such as the Southern Poverty Law Center label the Ku Klux Klan and other genuine racists “hate groups” but also apply the same label to mainstream Christian conservative organizations such as the Family Research Council. The SPLC has branded respected American Enterprise Institute scholar Charles Murray a “white nationalist.” Moreover, it’s far more forgiving of leftist extremism than of moderate speech that is conservative or libertarian.

As we start to hear all the dire predictions of what the Senate health care bill would mean, Guy Benson takes a trip down memory lane to remind us what Republicans and Democrats were saying at the time about Obamacare. Who had the better track record of predicting what would happen? Hmmmm.
Many Conservatives warned that Obamacare would increase rates and cost a lot more than $940 billion. They predicted that many people would not be able to keep their plans and doctors as promised, that adding millions of new people to a heavily-strained Medicaid program wasn't wise or sustainable, that Obamacare's exchanges weren't going to be ready for primetime, and that the law's co-ops were going to fall apart. For questioning the Democratic line, these since-vindicated critics and skeptics were routinely attacked as haters, liars, and even racists.
He then links to a lot of the predictions that Obamacare's defenders were making at the time about how premiums wouldn't rise but would actually decline. However, since Obamacare went into effect in 2013, in the 29 states using the federal exchanges have increased 105%. So keep all these accusations in mind during the debates over the next weeks.
Every single one of the people and entities above are now frantically admonishing Americans about the parade of horribles that will befall them under Republican Obamacare alternatives.... itizens should bear these people's histories in mind as they assess the credibility of their latest pronouncements -- having been wildly, catastrophically, embarrassingly wrong in their faulty or deceitful cheerleading for Obamacare.
I don't hold any brief for either the House or Senate bill. But I do wish people would stop comparing them to some Platonic ideal repeal bill and look at what is politically possible to get through the Congress as it is now constituted.

Echo and Alexa Devices

Amazon Fire TV

Hot New Releases in All Categories

After watching the NBA draft last night, I was struck at how Jayson Tatum's mother, Brandy Cole, is the anti-Lavar Ball. As a single mother, she sacrificed all her life to provide for him and raise him to be a good person, working part-time and taking him to class as she studied to get through college and then get two other degrees including a law degree. She helped him achieve his dream. And now that she has, she is working with him, not to self-aggrandize and make a buck off her son's talent, but to help him found a charity to help other single moms. Of course, Lavar Ball gets all the media attention, but the real deal is Brandy Cole, a woman most people just heard of this week and probably won't hear from again except to see her cheering her son on.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Cruising the Web

So Planned Parenthood spent over three-quarters of a million dollars for the moral victory of contributing to Jon Ossoff's defeat. It's hard to see that the organization is in such dire need of government aid if it can use supporters' contributions for political donations that would have, at most, elected a guy for a year and a half. Alexandra DeSanctis comments,
That failure underscores another important point. Planned Parenthood consistently argues that, if it were to be stripped of its federal funding, millions of women would lose “vital health care.”

If money is really so tight over at Planned Parenthood — and if American women are truly in desperate need of life-saving care that they can’t get anywhere else — perhaps the abortion-rights group should think twice before dropping hundreds of thousands on insignificant political races, whether or not those races end in bitter defeat.

Josh Kraushaar makes an interesting observation about Jon Ossoff's campaign.

Jon Ossoff has the chutzpah to complain about there being "too much money in politics." He's also upset that super PACs have been spending so much money in Georgia's Sixth Congressional District. Apparently, he figured the voters who spent the past few weeks being inundated with ads from groups supporting Ossoff would believe him when he made the same tired calls for campaign finance reform that Democrats who outspent their opponents such as Obama and Hillary have been making for years.
Simple arithmetic shows the stupidity of that sentiment. According to campaign finance documents compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics, Ossoff spent six times more money than Handel. His campaign raised more than $24 million to her $4.5 million.

At that point, Ossoff groupies will protest that Handel benefited from super PAC spending. After all, they argue, the Republican benefited from $18.2 million in outside spending compared to the Democrat's $8 million from outside groups.

But while it's true that dark money donors were with her, that cash only helped Handel narrow the gap. It didn't make up the difference. If you take the sum of campaign and outside spending together, it's clear that millions more flowed to Ossoff's cause.


Best Deals in Vitamins and Supplements

Interesting Finds at Amazon: Updated Daily

Spring Savings in Grocery and Gourmet Food

Home and Kitchen Markdowns

Matt Lewis has some advice for Democrats - get Nancy Pelosi to retire. He points out how the GOP's main strategy in the Georgia race was to tell voters that Ossoff would just be another vote for Pelosi. And, in a majority Republican district, Nancy Pelosi's name is still poison.
This raises the question about why Nancy Pelosi is still so toxic.

We can’t discount the accretion of scar tissue and baggage that piles up when one has been turned into a boogeyman. Just as Hillary Clinton had a tough time overcoming decades of negative attacks directed at her, Pelosi’s brand has been tarnished, especially in Republican districts, for more than a decade now. That takes a toll.

It’s also fair to say that the way people are promoted to leadership positions (long tenure, helping elect other Democrats, courting special-interest groups) lends itself to leaders emerging who represent safe districts. And people who represent safe districts tend to be less moderate. So, on the Democratic side, you end up with a liberal foil who exudes “San Francisco values” being a straight-out-of-central-casting villain who doesn’t play well in Peoria.

The long-term danger for Democrats is that this is a vicious cycle that keeps them in the minority. It works like this: Nobody can internally oust Pelosi from her perch, because her fellow Democratic members (the ones who vote on leaders) are from districts just like hers. The Catch-22 is that Pelosi’s baggage prevents the election of the kinds of red-state Democrats who might someday be a large enough bloc to replace her.
Lewis then goes on to argue that part of the dislike of Pelosi is just sexism. I would disagree with that. The dislike of Harry Reid was just as intense as that of Nancy Pelosi. The same thing was true of Tom Daschle. And the Democrats disliked Newt Gingrich, Tom DeLay, John Boehner, and Mitch McConnell. It has nothing to do with gender.

Sean Trende, as usual, has some intelligent comments
analyzing the special election. This point is one I hadn't seen elsewhere.
3. The distribution and enthusiasm gaps could be problems for Democrats. A developing scenario is this: Democrats have a highly energized core of supporters who would walk through a hurricane to vote against a Republican. In polling parlance, they make up the “tens” of enthusiasm (races for which tens of millions of dollars are raised). The strata below them, however, may be disproportionately Republican, who typically make up a larger percentage of high-propensity voters but are apathetic because of Trump, or at least displaced by Democrats.

This makes it easy for Democrats to overperform in races that slide under the radar, explaining results like KS-4 earlier this year and SC-5. But as the election gains visibility, those lower-propensity Republican voters become activated. The problem is that these special elections serve as shots across the bow for complacent Republicans and could reduce the number of Democrats who might sneak through in 2018.

One other possibility here: If those unusually energized Democrats are disproportionately distributed in heavily Democratic or rural Republican districts, it could reflect an especially large distributional issue for Democrats.


Try Audible and Get Two Free Audio Books

Try Amazon Prime - 30 Day Free Trial

Join SHOWTIME Free Trial

Charles C. W. Cooke points out that the report that the FBI just released yesterday on the shooting at the Congressional baseball game debunks the hot takes that liberals had been making on gun control as soon as news of the shooting became public. They wanted to argue that the shooter had bought his gun in Virginia which does not have strict gun control laws. However, it turns out that he bought his two guns, legally, in Illinois, a state with some of the strictest gun control laws.
For a start, the guns weren’t bought in Virginia; they were bought in Illinois, which has some of the strictest gun laws in the country. And they weren’t purchased privately, illegally, or without attendant background checks, but “legally through federal firearms licensees” that are obliged under federal law to run checks. Moreover, Hodgkinson only got the weapons after he obtained an additional possession-and-purchase license (FOID) of the sort that more extreme gun-control advocates want to see made mandatory in all states.

Or, put another way: Illinois has stricter rules than even Barack Obama endorsed — it quite literally licenses all gun-owners in the state — and those rules made no difference to this case. This is typical.

Alas, the errors don’t end there. Frum and co. also berated Virginia for being among the 40+ states to permit open carry. But Alexandria, where the shooting took place, doesn’t permit open carry, a fact that prompted one of the most hilariously convoluted arguments I have seen in my life. Others talked about both “assault weapons” and “high-capacity” magazines. But as the FBI notes, the firearm used was an SKS in 7.62mm, which has never been classed as an “assault weapon,” and which wasn’t included in the ban that obtained from 1994-2004. Further, when he bought it, Hodgkinson’s SKS was unable to take “high-capacity” magazines at all; rather, it came with an internal 10-round box magazine. Per the report, Hodgkinson seems to have modified it to take external magazines after the purchase, a change that raises the fair question of how effective any at-sale restrictions can really be in stopping the determined. Either way, even after he modified it there is no evidence that Hodgkinson introduced a larger than 10-round external magazine (that’s the standard for the modified SKS), or that, if he did, it had any effect on the outcome.
The problem with Twitter and TV is that people can go make allegations based on assumptions without waiting for the facts.

Daniel Depetris argues, quite rightly, that Congress should put a stop to how presidents Bush, Obama, and Trump have all based military action on the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) that was passed after 9/11 to give President Bush the authority to engage in military action against those responsible for the 9/11 attacks. Since then, that authorization has been used for military actions far removed in location and motivation for going after the perpetrators of the 2001 attacks.
nearly 16 years later, a war resolution that was designed to combat the terrorist group behind 9/11 has transformed into a carte blanche to fight every Sunni jihadist group on the face of the earth. All the executive branch needs to do is provide a decent enough case that the terrorist group being targeted is connected in some way, shape, or form to al Qaeda or the Islamic State.

The executive branch has been incredibly successful in convincing members of Congress to buy into that logic—knowing full well that the actual text of the 2001 resolution is quite restrictive. The George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump administrations have all taken advantage of their constitutional authority as Commanders-in-Chief to increase their war powers to the detriment of every other branch of government.
Depetris argues that Congress should take back their Constitutional authority over war-making powers by issuing a new AUMF to limit the military action that the President can take unilaterally. There are bipartisan proposals in Congress, but I suspect they'll continue to do nothing since that is easier than taking difficult votes that would give each member some responsiblity with what follows.

Holman Jenkins tries to examine how so many people, mostly on the left, have become so convinced that Trump was guilty of treasonous collusion with the Russians to undermine the election given that the facts, as we know them, demonstrate that the actions taken by Trump's associates were not different from what other politicians have done.
How did it become widely believed in the first half of 2017 that a U.S. president committed treason with Russia?

Consider what has passed for proof in the media. Tens of thousands of Americans have done business with Russia since the collapse of the Soviet Union, not to mention before.

In 2009 President Obama made the first of his two trips to Russia with a gaggle of U.S. business leaders in tow.

Of these many thousands, four were associated with the Trump campaign, and now became evidence of Trump collusion with Russia.

Every president for 75 years has sought improved relations with Russia. That’s what those endless summits were about. Mr. Trump, in his typically bombastic way, also promoted improved relations with Russia. Now this was evidence of collusion.

Russian diplomats live in the U.S. and rub shoulders with countless Americans. Such shoulder-rubbing, if Trump associates were involved, now is proof of crime.

....We would probably not be having this Russia discussion today if not for the so-called Trump dossier alleging improbable, lurid connections between Donald Trump and the Kremlin.

It had no provenance that anyone was bound to respect or rely upon. Its alleged author, a retired British agent named Christopher Steele, supposedly had Russian intelligence sources, but why would Russian intelligence blow the cover of their blackmail agent Mr. Trump whom they presumably so carefully and expensively cultivated? They wouldn’t.

Yet recall the litany of Rep. Adam Schiff, who declared in a House Intelligence Committee hearing: “Is it possible that all of these events and reports are completely unrelated and nothing more than an entirely unhappy coincidence?”

His litany actually consisted of innocuous, incidental and routine Trump associations interspersed with claims from the Trump dossier to make the innocuous, incidental and routine seem nefarious.

Maybe Mr. Schiff is a cynic, or maybe Harvard Law sent him back into the world with the same skull full of mush with which he arrived. But ever since, every faulty or incomplete recollection of a meeting with a Russian has been promoted in the media as proof of treason by Trump associates.

The president’s obvious irritation with being called a traitor is proof that he is a traitor.
Of course, Trump has made the whole situation worse with his intemperate tweets and clumsy firing of FBI director Comey. But this was all supposed to be about real allegations of collusion, but when you look at what makes up the foundation for those allegations, it's all very insubstantial.

Tools and Home Improvement

Today’s Deals

Fashion Sales and Deals




Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Cruising the Web

Well, last night was another night of moral victories for the Dems and actual victory for the GOP.

Maybe Ossoff should have just spent more money. Yeah, that would have done it. They poured all that money into a meaningless House special election and it just wasn't enough. If he'd won, we'd have heard how this portended something so significant for 2018. Now that a Republican won, we can go back to not caring about the results from a special election. Such elections aren't predictive of what will happen a year and a half later...unless they are. We have no idea at this point and trying to extrapolate some overarching conclusions about what it all means is really just pundit posturing. One reason that special elections, especially those to replace representatives brought into a president's cabinet, is that presidents are likely to pick people who come from districts that their party isn't likely to lose.

The one thing we know is, if Handel had lost, we would have heard days of how this meant that Trump was such an anchor on GOP candidates and how Republicans should be trembling in their loafers for the midterms. The spin would have really mattered. So, the absence of that spin might be the most important result. Dan McLaughlin points out that "Democrats in 2009-10 won the first seven straight special elections for the House before the GOP got its stuff together in time for a midterm 2010 landslide." So neither side can generalize all that much from yesterday's results.

But the Democrats might ask themselves if it was really the smartest move to run a 30-year old guy who hasn't really ever done anything and didn't even live in the district.

Democrats on Capitol Hill are simultaneously complaining that no one knows what is in the Senate Obamacare replacement bill because they're nefariously negotiating it in secret; however the Democrats also know that the bill they know nothing about will be an absolute disaster for everyone. As Guy Benson writes, the Democrats are hoping that no one remembers how they went about passing Obamacare. Just for a reminder:
(1) Democrats marketed Obamacare with several gargantuan lies, the biggest of which is advertised in their own preferred shorthand for the law: The "Affordable" Care Act. Premiums and out-of-pocket costs have soared under Obamacare, and are getting worse. Team Obama and their allies also issued unequivocal promises that any consumer who was satisfied with his or her existing arrangements could keep what they liked. This ended up being tagged as left-leaning Politifact's 'lie of the year' once implementation exposed the egregious falsehood, which betrayed millions of Americans. Other vows and assurances on cost curves, access to care, reduced "uncompensated care," and the price tag of Obamacare's vast expansion of already-struggling Medicaid have similarly gone down the tubes.

(2) In order to nail down the votes they needed, Democratic leaders and the White House handed out a string of legislative goodies (and bogus promises) to recalcitrant Democrats, from the "Cornhusker Kickback" to the "Louisiana Purchase" to "Gatorade." Republicans objected to these machinations, calling them secretive and ethically-suspect. Some of those tweets and video clips are being used against them today, some representing pretty clean political hits. But highlighting those complaints is a double-edged sword for the Left; yes, it underscores GOP opportunism and hypocrisy, but it also reminds people that Democrats did use a litany of shady tactics of their own in dragging Obamacare across the finish line without a single Republican vote.
Republicans may well face a public backlash for the bill they put forward, but the Democrats are not the ones with clean hands who can disingenuously call out the Republicans.
Republicans may indeed face a backlash of their own for jamming through an unpopular healthcare bill after relatively little public scrutiny (although Senate passage would not conclude the process; a treacherous path would still stretch ahead in the House). If they implement a law that does not improve people's lives, or makes things worse, they'll risk an Obamacare-style beating at the polls. But forgive me for refusing to accept lectures on proper procedure and best practices from the very people who lied, cajoled, and arm-twisted us into Obamacare, and still defend their disastrous handiwork to this very day.

Coupons for money off in every category

$20 off top Kindle models and more savings on Kindle Bundles

Try Amazon Music Unlimited 30-Day Free Trial

David Brooks, of all people, says people should just cool it with their expectations about the Trump-Russia story.
The politics of scandal is delightful for cable news. It’s hard to build ratings arguing about health insurance legislation. But it’s easy to build ratings if you are a glorified Court TV, if each whiff of scandal smoke generates hours of “Breaking News” intensity and a deluge of speculation from good-looking former prosecutors.

The politics is great for those forces responsible for the lawyerization of American life. It takes power out of the hands of voters and elected officials and puts power in the hands of prosecutors and defense attorneys.

The politics of scandal drives a wedge through society. Political elites get swept up in the scandals. Most voters don’t really care.

Donald Trump rose peddling the politics of scandal — oblivious to policy, spreading insane allegations about birth certificates and other things — so maybe it’s just that he gets swallowed by it. But frankly, on my list of reasons Trump is unfit for the presidency, the Russia-collusion story ranks number 971, well below, for example, the perfectly legal ways he kowtows to thugs and undermines the norms of democratic behavior.

The people who hype the politics of scandal don’t make American government purer. They deserve some of the blame for an administration and government too distracted to do its job, for a political culture that is both shallower and nastier, and for fostering a process that looks like an elite game of entrapment.

Claudine Feledick writes at The Federalist about the comparisons that fit between the Obama administration and Watergate.
The American people learned in 2013 that Obama’s Justice Department subpoenaed email and phone information from Associated Press and Fox News reporter James Rosen, who was aggressively investigating and reporting on the Benghazi attack. Rosen claimed his parents’ phone records were also swept up in the intelligence-gathering. The Justice Department said his suspected release of classified information was the reason for its intelligence gathering. Obama’s attorney general, Eric Holder, admitted in 2014 that the surveillance had happened and expressed regret.

Former CBS reporter Sharyl Atkisson also claims the Obama administration surveilled her. One morning at 1 a.m., her laptop popped on by itself. In her book “Stonewalled,” Atkission describes the event: “‘Reeeeeeee.’ The noise is coming from my personal Apple desktop computer in the small office adjacent to my bedroom. It’s starting up. On its own.” An investigation by computer forensics experts at both her employer and her own hired investigators agreed there had been a “highly sophisticated remote intrusion” of her computers.

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter website, Sharyl noted, “I have been told by two computer forensics experts that a highly sophisticated entity using abilities outside non-government resources, using software proprietary either to the DIA, CIA, FBI, or NSA made repeat remote intrusions into both my computers over a period of time.” Atkisson was researching the Fast and Furious federal gun-running to drug dealers and Benghazi stories at about that time. She now has two lawsuits pending against the government.

The Obama administration’s use of surveillance against political opponents wasn’t limited to reporters poking their noses into uncomfortable situations. It was recently revealed that Obama’s national security advisor, Susan Rice, requested the unmasking of Americans in the gathering of intelligence. Unmasked information was then leaked to the press....

According to Circa News, thousands of American citizens’ names were unmasked from surveillance reports during the Obama administration. Unmasking occurs when an American citizen’s name shows up redacted in an intelligence report. This typically requires a compelling reason, to protect that citizen’s Fourth Amendment rights. The intelligence committee recently subpoenaed three former Obama intelligence administration officials—John Brennan, Rice, and Samantha Power—to testify regarding this unmasking. Congress wants to know if the unmasking was done for national security or for political reasons.

Sen. Rand Paul has reported that sources have come to him to let him know that he was spied on. “I have formally requested from the WH and the Intel Committees info on whether I was surveilled by Obama admin and or the Intel community!” Paul wrote on Twitter. Intelligence sources also told Sen. Lindsay Graham that he was surveilled and unmasked in a private conversation. He said, “I have reason to believe that a conversation that I had was picked up with some foreign leader or some foreign person and somebody requested that my conversation be unmasked.”

Graham and Paul were candidates for the Republican Party nomination for president in the 2016 election. Was the government surveillance justified for national security reasons or used to affect an election, or to punish political enemies? The question is unanswered.
Read the rest. We've heard a lot of these stories before, but they received a scintilla of the attention all the accusations against Trump received.

Paul Beinart writes in The Atlantic to contrast the positions that Democrats used to have on illegal immigration to the position that they hold today.
In 2005, a left-leaning blogger wrote, “Illegal immigration wreaks havoc economically, socially, and culturally; makes a mockery of the rule of law; and is disgraceful just on basic fairness grounds alone.” In 2006, a liberal columnist wrote that “immigration reduces the wages of domestic workers who compete with immigrants” and that “the fiscal burden of low-wage immigrants is also pretty clear.” His conclusion: “We’ll need to reduce the inflow of low-skill immigrants.” That same year, a Democratic senator wrote, “When I see Mexican flags waved at proimmigration demonstrations, I sometimes feel a flush of patriotic resentment. When I’m forced to use a translator to communicate with the guy fixing my car, I feel a certain frustration.”

The blogger was Glenn Greenwald. The columnist was Paul Krugman. The senator was Barack Obama.

Prominent liberals didn’t oppose immigration a decade ago. Most acknowledged its benefits to America’s economy and culture. They supported a path to citizenship for the undocumented. Still, they routinely asserted that low-skilled immigrants depressed the wages of low-skilled American workers and strained America’s welfare state. And they were far more likely than liberals today are to acknowledge that, as Krugman put it, “immigration is an intensely painful topic … because it places basic principles in conflict.”

Today, little of that ambivalence remains. In 2008, the Democratic platform called undocumented immigrants “our neighbors.” But it also warned, “We cannot continue to allow people to enter the United States undetected, undocumented, and unchecked,” adding that “those who enter our country’s borders illegally, and those who employ them, disrespect the rule of the law.” By 2016, such language was gone. The party’s platform described America’s immigration system as a problem, but not illegal immigration itself. And it focused almost entirely on the forms of immigration enforcement that Democrats opposed. In its immigration section, the 2008 platform referred three times to people entering the country “illegally.” The immigration section of the 2016 platform didn’t use the word illegal, or any variation of it, at all.
Beinart looks for an explanation for this change and finds one explanation in the political benefit that Democrats think that they can gain by catering to Latino voters which they believe outweighs any political cost. Another factor is the pressure by corporate America which wants loosened barriers to immigration. Beinart points out that studies that purport to show that there are no effects of immigration to lower employment or wages have been made by scholars funded by pro-immigration groups plus the fear of a backlash that academics would face if they found otherwise.

Beinart is courageous in examining that which liberals would prefer not to read. Having been honest in his analysis, his proposals for addressing immigration merit consideration. His essay is well worth reading.

25% Off in Office and School Supplies

Deals in Office Products

Deals in Home and Kitchen

Obama attorney general Eric Holder is considering running for president in 2020. If the Democrats want a candidate as ethically challenged as Hillary Clinton, Holder should be their guy. Matt Vespa reminds us of one aspect of Eric Holder's shady history.
Holder was put in the hot seat over the Fast and Furious scandal that embroiled the Department of Justice and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives for a botched gunwalking operation against Mexican drug cartels. The ATF allowed over 2,500 AK-47s and other weapons to be purchased by the cartels, which were then used in crimes. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was killed by one of the guns, which weren’t tracked. The Mexican government was also kept in the dark about the operation by the Obama administration.

Congress and the Obama White House ended up in a tug of war over documents relating to the operation, resulting in the administration invoking executive privilege and Holder being held in contempt. So, there’s political baggage, with the addition that Mr. Holder has never held public office.
There is a lot more that would come out about Holder's conduct both under Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. He's survived those scandals before, but don't expect that he would continue to do so if he made a serious run for the presidency.







Hans A. von Spakovsky and Benjamin Janacek refute the claim by Hillary Clinton and others that voter-ID laws suppressed Democratic votes in 2016.
While it is true that 2016 saw Wisconsin’s turnout drop from 2012, it is also true that the state still experienced higher turnout than in 2008, before the voter-ID law was passed. Moreover, according to the U.S. Elections Project, Wisconsin had the fifth-highest turnout rate in the country, far higher than that of many states with no ID requirement. 69.4 percent of the state’s eligible voters showed up to the polls, far surpassing the national average of 59.3 percent and the 56.8 percent rate in Clinton’s home state of New York, where there is no voter-ID law.

Wisconsin’s turnout decrease from 2012 is just as likely, or more likely, attributable to a natural regression from its unusually high 2012 turnout rate. President Obama’s high-powered turnout operation, coupled with Wisconsin’s own Paul Ryan being on the GOP ticket, would easily explain the 2012 surge in statewide voter turnout. Hillary Clinton’s ineffective campaign, her decision not to visit the state, and the general leftward shift of the Democratic party may also have dampened enthusiasm for her candidacy.

Democrats have generally admitted that they failed to connect with blue-collar workers in 2016. In fact, their party chairman, Tom Perez, has organized a year-long outreach program to try to rectify the problem. Unfortunately for Democrats, these voters are highly concentrated in Rust Belt states, such as Wisconsin, Michigan, Iowa, Minnesota, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, that proved especially susceptible to Trump’s economic message. None of those states saw any increase in voter turnout, but it wasn’t because of voter-ID laws, which vary widely among them; it was because Clinton failed to rally their working-class voters to her side, convinced that she could rely on Obama’s winning coalition from 2008 and 2012 to put her over the top....

In fact, turnout data from 2012 and 2016 do not show any “voter suppression” because of ID requirements. Nine of the eleven states that have implemented so-called strict ID Laws either saw an increase in turnout or exceeded the national average in turnout in 2016. Two of them, Wisconsin and New Hampshire, finished in the top five nationally. Meanwhile only two of the 17 states plus Washington, D.C., that have no ID requirement finished among the top five.
Studies that the Democrats are using to blame voter-ID laws have since been debunked. But why pay attention to actual evidence when you can just throw out poisonous allegations.
A January 2017 study by three professors from the University of California San Diego and Bucknell University — frequently referenced in liberal media outlets — is another unfortunate example. The study erroneously claims that voter-ID laws have a disparate impact on minorities and “diminish the participation of Democrats and those on the left, while doing little to deter the vote of Republicans and those on the right.” This sensational finding generated a media storm, with the help of several opinion pieces from the authors making the politically charged (and false) claim that voter-ID laws “lower minority turnout and benefit the Republican Party.”

But these claims, too, were recently debunked by a group of professors from Yale, Stanford, and the University of Pennsylvania. Upon examining the data in the original study, the group found “no definitive relationship between strict voter ID laws and turnout.” It also found that the original study contained measurement errors, omitted-variable bias, and misinterpreted data.(links in original)

Best Deals in Vitamins and Supplements

Interesting Finds at Amazon: Updated Daily

Spring Savings in Grocery and Gourmet Food

Home and Kitchen Markdowns

Bre Payton thinks the "end is nigh" now that Mattel has introduced a Ken doll with a man bun.


Ugh! Can we say that this very unfortunate fashion trend as officially jumped the shark if Ken is now sporting a man bun?

In contrast to man-bun Ken, Payton links to this 1865 from a Maine man seeking a wife.



Given how many young men in the North and South who had died in the Civil War by 1865, I have to think that there would have been some young woman who would have taken this man up on his advertisement.