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Updated: 2016-12-05T20:29:19.244-05:00


Cruising the Web


Adam J. White finds in an anecdote from 1992 illustrates the problem that Hillary allies have in recognizing her problems appealing to voters. He relates an anecdote from George Stephanopolous's memoir, All Too Human, about Bill's reaction when focus-group data showed that respondents' ratings went way down whenever Hillary showed up on the screen.And, in this case, the results were ugly: “When a shot of Hillary speaking was played,” he writes, “the line on the screen dropped like a downhill ski run.”The voters’ reactions to Hillary, however, were much less telling than her husband’s reaction:“Oh man,” Bill Clinton reacted. “They don’t like her hair.”Stephanopolous and James Carville could barely contain their laughter at Bill's self-deception.Nobody said a word, but James—who was sitting next to me on the couch across from Clinton—started grinding his fist into my thigh. That pressure and the laughter building up inside me made me double over until James mumbled something and burst out of the room. I was right behind him. We collapsed in hysterics the second we hit the corridor. From then on, whenever I wanted to make James laugh, all I had to say was “They don’t like her hair.” To him, it was the single most memorable line of the campaign.While Bill could comfort himself back in 1992 that it was her hair that people didn't like (projection much?), Hillary supporters try to comfort themselves today that it was only racism and sexism that led to her defeat. Whatever problems Comey, Wikileaks, and others caused for Hillary Clinton’s campaign, the campaign’s greatest problem was the candidate herself, one of the two least appealing presidential candidates in a century.Salena Zito writes about the decision of the Democrats in the House to choose to return to the fray under the same Nancy Pelosi leadership under whom they failed to make much headway against the Republicans in the House.Her win over Youngstown Ohio Democrat Tim Ryan for Minority Leader proved two-thirds of those House Democrats have more interest in someone who is a deep-pocket fundraiser than someone who perhaps could have made the party more competitive in swing districts or more cohesive in their message to the voters.Or perhaps both.Their decision was arrogant, tone deaf and a smack in the face to the voters who once proudly supported this party and were waiting to see if someone would lead them back out of the progressive wilderness.Kevin Lawson, 22, is one young Democrat who would have preferred Ryan over Pelosi, "We need a message that resonates not only with young people, but a much broader swath of the country," he said. "Ryan talked about the economy in his local race, but the overall message from the party was flat and uninspiring."Lawson, a senior at Youngstown State University located in the district Ryan represents, says it's not going to get any easier in the 2018 midterms, when the party needs to win 24 seats to regain the majority in the House.For whatever reason, Ryan's argument going forward to win those kinds of numbers through solid recruiting and a sound economic message landed on deaf ears within his caucus.Democrats fell wildly short of expectations once again this year largely because they had not formed a unified message around the economy and the public's distaste with the costs and burdens of Obamacare, said Lawson, "And they also underestimated the impact Donald Trump would have in some of their competitive districts."The Democrats are ignoring the lesson from 2006 when they ran more centrist candidates and were able to retake both houses of Congress.Democrats don't just have a House problem either. Their woes down ballot, where a vibrant, robust bench is typically built, are crushing.In fact, Democratic control in state legislative bodies is in its weakest spot since the Civil War; Republicans now hold control of a record 68 percent of the 98 state legislative chambers in the nation. In total they hold 4,100 of the 7,383 seats, more than they have held since 1920.So why after such a gloomy El[...]



Sorry, I won't be able to post today. My colleagues and I are attending the National Council for Social Studies conference in Washington this weekend.

Cruising the Web


Ah, so this is how priorities work in Obama's America.The Department of Health and Human Services is raiding several of its accounts, including money for Medicare, the Ryan White AIDS/HIV program and those for cancer and flu research to cover a shortfall in housing illegal youths pouring over the border at a rate of 255 a day.HHS is trying to come up with $167 million to fund the Office of Refugee Resettlement that is accepting the youths, according to the Center for Immigration Studies.Policy Director Jessica Vaughan said that insiders have told her that the funding crisis has forced the department to squeeze programs for money.The Democrats now are fantasizing about alternate history in which Hillary Clinton actually won the election. It's not enough that she won the popular vote, they have to inhabit a fictional universe that chose her for the election. After spending weeks complaining that the proliferation of “fake news” led to Hillary Clinton’s electoral demise, progressives are now openly using fake news to self-soothe.Newsweek, which gained notoriety in the 1990s as a news weekly you could find on dentist office waiting room tables below Highlights and Zoobooks magazines, took the extraordinary step this week of publishing President Hillary Clinton fan fiction.In a piece entitled “Dispatches From The Alternate Universe Where Hillary Clinton Won,” Newsweek’s Zach Schonfeld compiles excerpts from pre-written news stories anticipating the former secretary of State’s victory.It’s apparently common practice for publications to have a vault of stories that forecast election results, Schonfeld writes. Preparing content before a major event makes sense to a degree, as newspapers often prepare obituaries for public figures long before they die. What doesn’t make any sense, however, is to publish a month later pre-written content that forecasted the election night incorrectly....It’s clear these “dispatches” aren’t part of an effort to be more transparent with the American electorate, whose trust the media stomped on to virtue-signal obnoxiously. Its purpose is to serve as a balm for those still licking their wounds after Clinton’s defeat — and that’s what makes this collection of stories all the more troubling. The media are literally using their stories that falsely predicted the election to soothe themselves after things didn’t turn out the way they’d hoped.They're deeper in that bubble that SNL satirized.Then we have Washington Post's Wonkblog engaging in some fantasy line-drawing to see if the state's geographical lines were moved a smidgeon here or there would win the Electoral College for Hillary Clinton.Here's a fun little thought experiment demonstrating the fundamental arbitrariness of the electoral college: Had two state borders been drawn just a little bit differently, shifting a total of four counties from one state to another, Hillary Clinton would have won the election.Take a look at the imaginary map above, which comes from an nifty online tool called Redraw the States. It was created by Kevin Hayes Wilson, a mathematician and data scientist working in computer science education.This map moves Lake County, Ill. to Wisconsin, turning that state blue. It moves Escambia, Santa Rosa and Okaloosa counties from the Florida panhandle to neighboring Alabama. That's enough to turn Florida blue. With victories in Wisconsin and Florida, Clinton squeaks to victory in the electoral college, 270 to 268.I'm sure that is very comforting to Democrats. Hey, let's go back in history to the 1840s when Florida and Wisconsin became states and redraw those lines and save Hillary Clinton in the future. It's a pleasant fantasy. Boy, how prescient were those politicians back int he 1840s. They knew exactly which counties to put where so as to help Trump get elected some 175 years later. Too bad they couldn't have worked out that whole slavery and secession deal while they were at it.Then there is the point that I've seen Vox and some l[...]

Cruising the Web


Donald Trump spent another day distracting attention away from his cabinet picks and decisions for his new term by tweeting out silly stuff. Today it was his tweeting that flag burners should be stripped of their citizenship or jailed. Of course, the Supreme Court has made this impossible by ruling that flag burning is protected as freedom of speech. Just about everyone responded by reminding us that this can't be done and casting done. My first thought when I saw this was "Geez, here we go again with Trump tweeting out stupid stuff betraying his ignorance about the Constitution and how are system works." But then I thought remembered what a big deal this was back in the 1980s when the decision, Texas v. Johnson, was issued and how George H.W. Bush made it part of his 1988 presidential campaign. I still remember his visiting a flag factory to paint a contrast with Michael Dukakis. While I don't have all that high opinion of Trump's knowledge of how our system works, I do find it hard to believe that he was unaware of this issue or the attempts that have been made in the past to outlaw flag burning. Even Hillary Clinton got in on the act, along with Barbara Boxer back in 2005.President-elect Donald Trump is coming under fire that there should be “consequences” for flag burners, but in 2005, Hillary Clinton backed a bill that would have criminalized burning the American flag.While she was senator of New York, Clinton co-sponsored the Flag Protection Act of 2005, which would have outlawed “destroying or damaging a U.S. flag with the primary purpose and intent to incite or produce imminent violence or a breach of the peace.”I don't remember anyone getting outraged about Clinton's attitude toward the First Amendment back then.Even though antagonism toward flag-burning is very popular and it's hard to go wrong with a politician talking about respecting the flag, it still seems like such a non sequitur and a bad idea to distract attention from how he's putting together his new government. So I'm just about ready to buy James Taranto's theory of what Trump is doing with all his dumb tweets.But why does he persist with the crazy tweets? Maybe he can’t help himself, but even that doesn’t preclude the possibility that there’s method to the madness.For one thing, the outrage it draws provides opportunities to highlight Trump’s critics’ hypocrisy. Example: After the flag-burning tweet provoked vigorous defenses of the First Amendment, many people pointed out that then-Sen. Clinton was a lead sponsor of the Flag Protection Act of 2005. And of course her lukewarm endorsement of the Stein recount effort occasioned many reminders of how aghast Mrs. Clinton was when Trump refused to commit to accept the outcome of the election she was supposed to win.For another, it confuses antagonistic journalists. It draws attention away from consequential stories that might be awkward or damaging to Trump, such as the potential conflicts of interest posed by his businesses....From “we begin bombing in five minutes” to “the Cambridge police acted stupidly,” presidents have been bedeviled by “gaffes.” It’s possible Trump has come up with a way of neutralizing the risk—by making odd statements so often that they’ll eventually stop making news. In the best-case scenario he’ll help restore the balance of power in government by making fools of those who hang on the president’s every word.And if nothing else, it’s entertaining. Charles Murray of the American Enterprise Institute—perhaps the most intensely anti-Trump person we encountered all year, which is saying a lot—tweeted this morning: “An ignoble confession: The next day’s news if Hillary had won would have been so depressing. Now, I can’t wait. Like watching a cliffhanger.” Perhaps Trump is being crazy like a fox and is baiting his opponents into taking action to get great numbers of people siding with him in their moral outrage.Will anti-Trump protesters be [...]

Cruising the Web


National Review put together a montage of how some in the media reacted to Castro's death. allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560">Austin Yack compiled a list of the "Ten Most Outrageous Reactions to Castro's Death" by world leaders. It really is a shameful collection.Meanwhile, David Pryce-Jones reminds us of just two of Castro's victims.At this moment, there comes to mind Huber Matos. A Cuban intellectual, a teacher, he took part in the 1959 seizure of power but then failed to please Fidel Castro, his erstwhile comrade, now self-styled Máximo Líder. So he spent 20 years in prison, much of it in solitary confinement in an underground cell a few feet wide, allowed to dress only in his underwear. He will have to stand for the three or four million persecuted and exiled Cubans.And there also comes to mind the uncounted number of men summarily executed, mostly humble men whose names are past recall. Arnoldo Ochoa Sanchez will have to stand for them. A ranking general, he commanded the Cuban auxiliaries sent at Moscow’s behest to fight in Angola. On his return, he was made to pay for the failure of this campaign, explicitly accused of damaging the credibility of the Máximo Líder. In a so-called Court of Honor, he confessed his guilt in the public abasement long since practiced and perfected by the Soviets, and the firing squad finalized another judicial murder.But the stories of victims like this get ignored when President Obama simply refers to "the countless ways in which Fidel Castro altered the course of individual lives, families, and of the Cuban nation." Really? Altering the course of individual lives is what we're now calling imprisoning thousands and executing political enemies? Jimmy Carter's statement simply refers to how he Rosalynn foundly remember their visits with him and "his love of his country." Pierre Trudeau had asked Castro to be an honorary pallbearer at his funeral and his son, the current Canadian Prime Minister embarrassed himself with his statement on Castro's death.It is with deep sorrow that I learned today of the death of Cuba’s longest serving President.Fidel Castro was a larger than life leader who served his people for almost half a century. A legendary revolutionary and orator, Mr. Castro made significant improvements to the education and healthcare of his island nation.While a controversial figure, both Mr. Castro’s supporters and detractors recognized his tremendous dedication and love for the Cuban people who had a deep and lasting affection for “el Comandante”.Castro was "legendary," although "controversial" with "tremendous dedication" to the people his policies imprisoned and impoverished. What blind ignorance.The National Review reminds us of another of Castro's victims and the contrast with his fans around the world.Fidel Castro was the most popular dictator in the free and democratic world. Stalin lost his luster after the Secret Speech in 1956. Mao lost his luster, or some of it, in the wake of honest accounts of his rule (by his doctor, Li Zhisui, for example). Ho rode high for a while, but not after the reeducation camps and boat people.But Castro? In 2002, Carole King, the American singer-songwriter, crooned to him her hit song “You’ve Got a Friend.” He certainly did, a great many of them.Why did they love him? Why do they still? For one thing, they see him as that defier of the yanqui colossus. But also, they have bought, and propagated, three myths: that the dictatorship has been good for literacy, good for health care, and good for black people (“Afro-Cubans”). All of this is untrue. All of it has been thoroughly debunked.But, as Armando Valladares says, “What if it were true? Don’t people have literacy and so on in countries that are not cruel dictatorships?”Valladares was a prisoner in the Castros’ gulag for 22 years. In 1986, he wrote the memoir Against All Hope[...]

Cruising the Web


Is Tim Kaine trying to give people more of a reason to vote to keep Republican control of the Senate? Now he's threatening that, if the Democrats gain control of the Senate and Hillary Clinton wins the presidency, they would employ the nuclear option to get rid of the filibuster for Supreme Court nominations. The Republicans should get some ads up there in the tough states for their Senate candidates to encourage voters to vote a check on Hillary Clinton by voting Republican for the Senate. PJ Media reminds us of three times that the Clinton Foundation took money from governments that fund terrorism and/or have bad human rights records. THey took money from Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Accepting huge sums of money from governments that Hillary herself stated fund the Islamic State is bad enough. What’s even worse is that the donations seem to influence her positions.There are many, many, troubling indications that Clinton is susceptible to bribes.On January 18, 2015, Clinton’s closest aide Huma Abedin wrote to Podesta and Clinton’s campaign manager Robby Mook about a proposed meeting between Clinton and King Mohammed VI of Morocco:Just to give you some context, the condition upon which the Moroccans agreed to host the meeting was her participation. If hrc was not part if it, meeting was a non-starter. CGI [Clinton Global Initiative] also wasn’t pushing for a meeting in Morocco and it wasn’t their first choice. This was HRC’s idea, our office approached the Moroccans and they 100 percent believe they are doing this at her request.The King has personally committed approx $12 million both for the endowment and to support the meeting. It will break a lot of china to back out now when we had so many opportunities to do it in the past few months. She created this mess and she knows it.The king of Morocco gave $12 million to the Clinton Foundation “to support” a meeting with Clinton.Why?In November 2015, the State Department approved the sale of a $157 million missile system to Morocco, a state with an extremely poor human rights record.The examples continue with Qatar which got 14 times as many authorizations of sales of military equipment under Clinton's State Department than in Bush's second term.Of course, the Clintons will use the same line that they used throughout Bill's presidency - that there is no evidence of a quid pro quo. Of course there isn't. They're too crafty to put anything in writing. But there is that infamous "culture of corruption" that the Democrats use to complain about. Gee what a coincidence! Apparently, the man the Justice Department chose to head up the investigation of Clinton's use of her server and the renewed investigation has all sorts of connections to the Clinton campaign.In summary: The Justice Department official overseeing the latest email investigation of Hillary Clinton’s unauthorized use of a non-secure, non-governmental email server for her work-related correspondence as Secretary of State once represented Campaign Chair John Podesta during the Clinton impeachment proceedings. He was recommended for his current job by that same Podesta during the latter’s stint in the Obama Administration. He dined privately with Podesta during the Hillary Clinton’s Benghazi testimony. His son asked Podesta for a job on the Clinton campaign. And he was a central figure in the cash-for-pardon Marc Rich scandal in the waning days of the Clinton Administration.At this point, is there anyone working at the Justice Department who hasn’t been tainted by the stench of Clinton corruption?Yup, these are the people who are trying to convince us they should be in charge of national security.An unnamed “senior aide” to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton left classified information unsecured and unattended in a hotel room during a 2010 trip to China, one of several overseas lapses by Clinton’s inner circle, Fox News has learned.Confirmation o[...]

Cruising the Web


The October Surprises keep rolling along.The FBI has been conducting a preliminary inquiry into Donald Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort's foreign business connections, law enforcement and intelligence sources told NBC News Monday.Word of the inquiry, which has not blossomed into a full-blown criminal investigation, comes just days after FBI Director James Comey's disclosure that his agency is examining a new batch of emails connected to an aide to Hillary Clinton.And it comes a day after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid criticized Comey's revelation and asserted that Comey possesses "explosive information about close ties and coordination between Donald Trump, his top advisors, and the Russian government."....NBC News reported in August that Manafort was a key player in multi-million-dollar business propositions with Russian and Ukrainian oligarchs — one of them a close Putin ally with alleged ties to organized crime — which foreign policy experts said raised questions about the pro-Russian bent of the Trump candidacy....Trump has taken a series of pro-Russian positions that experts from both parties say are far outside the mainstream, and inexplicable from a political viewpoint. He continues to cast doubt on Russian involvement in election hacking, for example, despite the intelligence community's public assessment."The relationships that Trump's advisors have had with pro-Russian forces are deeply disturbing," David Kramer, a former senior State Department official in the George W. Bush administration and a former adviser to Marco Rubio's presidential campaign, told NBC News in August. "Trump's attitude on Russia is not in line with most Republican foreign-policy thinking. Trump has staked out views that are really on the fringe."Does this surprise anyone? The guy was clearly a sleaze, but Trump didn't seem to care. And does anyone think that Trump would have had a different attitude towards Putin if he hadn't had Manafort as an adviser. Apparently, all that is needed to get Trump's approbation is for someone to say something nice about Trump and he's willing to throw out a traditional Republican policy position and to return Putin's nice remarks tenfold.To multiply the yuckiness of this year's campaign, Hillary's campaign chairman, John Podesta, the guy whose emails were hacked, has his own suspicious connections to Russia.The story begins in 2011 when the solar energy startup Joule Unlimited announced that Mr. Podesta had been elected to its board of directors. In a company press release, Joule’s CEO at the time lauded Mr. Podesta’s “extensive experience within the US government and internationally as well.” No one claimed Mr. Podesta was a scientific expert, but the company’s founder expressed the hope that their new associate “can help Joule build the lasting relationships needed for long-term success.”A former White House chief of staff for President Bill Clinton, Mr. Podesta at the time was running the Center for American Progress, which supported the Obama administration’s “Russian reset.” Mr. Podesta personally lauded the effort to “build a more constructive relationship” with Russia at a 2009 event hosted by his think tank.Mr. Podesta certainly seems to have made the effort to build a business relationship. About eight months after Mr. Podesta joined Joule in 2011, an investment fund backed by the Russian government, Rusnano, announced plans to invest about $35 million in the company. Several months later, Joule announced that Rusnano Chairman Anatoly Chubais was joining its board of directors. Around the same time, Mr. Podesta joined Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s Foreign Affairs Policy Board.Podesta then decided to divest himself of his holdings. Or did he?This is where the story gets a little more complicated. The emails published on WikiLeaks show that around the time he was returning to the [...]

Cruising the Web


While Democrats scream and whine about the FBI Director announcing that he's reopened his investigation into Hillary's emails as a dirty and unprecedented October Surprise, let's not forget the glee with which they responded to Special Prosecutory Lawrence Walsh indicting former Reagan Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger just days before the 1992 election. The Bill Clinton campaign jumped all over that and immediately wove it into their closing arguments that Bush was part of a "culture of corruption."Additionally, though it's early, it also appears that a conscientious federal law enforcement officer reporting to Congress like Comey, having come across what he must believe is likely compelling new evidence, has little choice but to report what he knows as soon as he knows it, regardless of the election calendar.By contrast, Lawrence Walsh, in his sixth year as Iran-Contra prosecutor, was under no compulsion to indict Cap Weinberger on October 30, 1992.As it turned out, Walsh also had no basis to issue the indictment. What he appeared to have is an obsession with demonstrating that Bush 41 knew about Iran-Contra when he was Vice President under Ronald Reagan:... Walsh was investigating the Iran Contra scandal and he had spent six years with little to show for it. After this period, he was seeking to indict former Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger. Walsh initially indicted Weinberger in June of 1992, but the indictment was thrown out on technical grounds. ...Walsh decided to indict Weinberger again. He then made two extremely dubious decisions. First, and most problematically, he had the re-indictment of Caspar Weinberger filed on October 30, the Friday before election day. What possible legitimate reason could there have been to file it then rather than the following week? What reason other than the illegitimate one to harm Bush’s candidacy could there have been for filing the indictment on that day?Second, Walsh included in the indictment the words “VP favored” from Weinberger’s notes of an important meaning. This suggested to some and was played up by the liberal media that Bush was at a meeting he had denied attending. Thus, it could be used to support the claim that Bush was actually more involved in Iran Contra than he claimed and that he had lied about his involvement. Significantly, this was not necessarily the case nor was it necessary to include it the indictment.The Weinberger indictment created an enormous media response and may very well have swung the election. On the Friday before the election, prior to the release of the re-indictment, the Bush internal tracking poll (as well as the Gallop poll of the previous day) indicated a surging Bush was tied with Clinton at 39 percent, with 12 percent supporting Perot, and an unusually large 10 percent still undecided. The re-indictment ended Bush’s surge and reversed the momentum. The Saturday Bush internal tracking poll indicted 39 percent for Clinton, 32 for Bush, and 19 percent for Perot.Even Robert Pear at the New York Times was stunned at Walsh's audacity, though he saved that de facto assessment for the final paragraph of his October 31, 1992 story:Mr. Walsh's relations with the Bush Administration have been frigid. Prosecutors could have used any of more than 1,700 pages of Mr. Weinberger's notes to show that he failed to comply with Congressional requests for his records relating to the Iran-contra affair. Mr. Walsh appeared to select one that was acutely embarrassing to the President.There's more.The October 30, 1992 indictment of Weinberger was thrown out just 43 days later. The reasons why prove that the indictment was a bogus preelection hit:A Federal district judge today threw out a one-count indictment that was brought against former Defense Secretary Caspar W. Weinberger four days before the Presidential election and created an uproar when Republ[...]