Sunday, July 23, 2017

WaPo scratches its head at poll showing the Don Jr. "smoking gun" hasn't budged opinion about Trump and collusion with Russia.

WaPo scratches its head at poll showing the Don Jr. "smoking gun" hasn't budged opinion about Trump and collusion with Russia.

People haven't moved from where they were back in April. 
It’s hard to delineate all of the things that have changed since [the April] poll: The firing of James Comey, the appointment of the special prosecutor, reports about Trump hoping to intervene for Michael Flynn, the revelation of classified information in a meeting with the Russians — not to mention the Trump Jr. emails. But only a small change in the percentage of people who believe Trump’s campaign colluded with the Russians....

Would any new evidence convince Trump supporters of collusion? We’re in the weird position, one week after the release of the Trump Jr. email, of already seeing that shockingly unexpected document as part of the background fabric of our political discussion....
Maybe you shouldn't have cried wolf all those other times. Or was this one another crying of wolf? You squandered your credibility, trying so hard to get Trump. Youbuilt up our skepticism and our capacity to flesh out the other side of any argument against Trump.

Obamacare Survives Thanks to Republican Moral Narcissism

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) speaks with reporters as he leaves the Capitol following a vote on June 26, 2017. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via AP Images)
In Monday's Wall Street Journal,  Weekly Standard executive editor Fred Barnes did his best to knock some sense into GOP lawmakers, advising them to compromise on healthcare ("Republicans Aren't Team Players"), but it seems  Jerry Moran and Mike Lee, at least, weren't listening.  The Kansas and Utah senators announced they would vote no on their party's plan to repeal and replace Obamacare, joining Susan Collins and Rand Paul in the nyet column, therefore tanking the bill.
Bravo to them.  They maintained their ideological purity.  But that's the problem, because in so doing they have put our country on the royal road to single-payer healthcare.  You can depend on it.
If Moran, Lee, and, of course, Paul think for one moment that as the Affordable Care Act continues to go into a tailspin the public will clamor for a free-market solution, I have the Brooklyn and several other bridges to sell them, including the "bridge too far" (all of them).  By not coming together to solve the problem, the Republicans have encouraged and prepped the electorate to turn against them and move toward the Democrats' heart's desire -- socialized medicine.
So when you're standing in line for government medical care in a few years, waiting for an operation you should have had months before, you'll know whom to thank.
Politics is not just the art of the possible; it's often the art only of the marginally possible.  Large changes, particularly in something like healthcare, are extraordinarily difficult to achieve and need the most ardent team play.  Democrats, honed on schoolboy marxism, know that.  Republicans, a significant number anyway, apparently don't care as long as they can appear untarnished to their constituents -- or is it to themselves?
They say not to let the perfect be the enemy of the good.  In this case, it's letting the perfect be the inadvertent friend of the nightmarish.
So how did this happen?
Excuse the minor self-promotion but in June 2016 I published a book on moral narcissism, which I differentiated from the standard narcissism of the Kardashian type in this manner:
In twenty-first century America, it's no longer just how you look, but what you believe or claim to believe that defines you as a person and makes you "good."  Moreover, the actual consequences of those beliefs are not important, even deliberately ignored.  The proclamation is all.  The ideology is you.  It is your essence you reflect outwards to friends, relations and employers, even the world in general.
This is related to virtue signaling but it is not quite that.  Moral narcissism is the underlying personality defect that makes people virtue signal, that makes the phenomenon so necessary and pervasive.  It's the cause.
Most of my book (I Know Best) dealt with the ills of liberals and progressives in this regard.  Their moral narcissism -- their proclamations of ideological  purity and "goodness" irrespective of the results of those ideals -- extends across the spectrum of issues from global warming to race and practically everything in between.  But this is clearly a case of moral narcissism on the Republican side.  We are not immune.
Paul in particular is guilty of this.  He may be right that a pure free-market system is best, but so what when his stubborn adherence to his views eventually yields the opposite, something far worse in the real world.  Indeed, Rand has made his point (again and again), but you should reach a moment when you move on -- if not for the greater good, then to prevent a serious bad.
Now we are faced with that serious bad.  How do we get out of it?  Will there be a last-minute reversal?  Will Trump's call for a repeal work?  Anything's possible.  If not, make room in your wallet.  Your government healthcare card is coming soon.

DONALD TRUMP VS. THE POST-WEST

DONALD TRUMP VS. THE POST-WEST

“Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, our civilization and to set free suffering humanity….and we know that by thy grace, and the righteousness of our cause, our sons will triumph.”
Who wrote these words, asks John Fonte. Was it someone from the Alt-Right? A white nationalist, perhaps?
In fact, they were composed personally by President Franklin D. Roosevelt as a D-Day prayer and read to the nation in a radio address on the evening of June 6, 1944. Says Fonte: “They exemplify the high-water mark of a confident mid-20th century American liberalism that did not hesitate to attach the possessive pronoun our to concepts such as nation, religion, civilization, culture, and freedom.
The reaction of liberals to President Trump’s speech in Poland marks a low-water mark. So far.
Trump’s speech invoked the same values and institutions as Roosevelt’s address did: nation, religion, and civilization. As Fonte says, liberal dismay with the speech “reveals what [they] really think of the institutions and ideals that have for centuries been at the center of any decent society.”
Fonte makes the crucial point that the adverse reaction came not only from the fringes of the Far Left, but from the mainstream of American liberalism. Among those who denounced the speech were Peter Beinart and James Fallows at the Atlantic; Jeet Heer from The New Republic; Lawrence Summers, E.J. Dionne, Anne Applebaum, Richard Cohen, the editorial board of the Washington Post; and William Galston.
They have been flushed out. It’s helpful, if disheartening, to know where they stand.
Fonte reminds us of this prediction made twenty years ago in The National Interest by foreign policy scholar and Swarthmore professor James Kurth:
The real clash of civilizations will not be between the West and one or more of the Rest. It will be between the West and the Post-West, within the West itself.
Twenty years ago, I would have scoffed at this notion. Now, I fear it is spot on.
This post does not do justice to Fonte’s article. I urge you to read the whole thing.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Shock: Snopes Factchecks MSM's Fake News

Getty Images
The conventional thing for media fact-checkers to do these days is to focus on President Trump's myriad gaffes, goofs, misstatements, jokes, exaggerations, etc. -- and to characterize them all as intentional lies. The non-conventional and wholly unexpected thing for a media fact-checker to do is to focus on the media's own dishonesty.
But that is just what the fact-checking website Snopes did in a recent post, "The Lies of Donald Trump’s Critics, and How They Shape His Many Personas," by Dan MacGuill.
Conservatives have long accused Snopes of having a left-wing bias when it comes to fact-checking political stories -- so this comes as a very welcome surprise.
This article is intended as a neutral, reliable analysis of the lies, false allegations and misleading claims made  about and against Donald Trump since his inauguration in January 2017. We’ve attempted to strip away the hyperbole, name-calling and generalizations, and examine the patterns and trends at work: what characterizes these lies and exaggerations, the effect they have, what might explain them.
We pay particular attention to selected examples — claims that have gained prominence among the mainstream opposition to Trump, revealing much about the methods, priorities, and tone of that opposition, and illustrating how this movement both cultivates and plays off a number of caricatures of the 45th President and at times falls prey to a handful of identifiable and repeated errors of thought.
This is nothing new. Supporters and opponents of every high-profile politician in American history have done exactly the same, but in the current cultural atmosphere, where “the truth” is universally, even manically, exalted as an abstract concept but then widely degraded in practice, it’s essential to confront, correct, and analyze patterns of falsehoods like these.
This is not an exhaustive list. For that, and a litany of fact checks of claims made by the President, you can browse the Snope archive on him.
The focus here is on attacks against Trump. So for the purpose of this article, we’re not interested in false claims that are intended to reflect favorably on him. Nor does this analysis address claims made against his family members, of which there have been many. It’s also limited to the period following the inauguration on 20 January. This analysis was primarily based on an in-depth search of our own archives.
MacGuill says that the media's falsehoods about President Trump are drawn from what they perceive to be the "four public personas" of the president.
They are:
  • Donald Trump: International Embarrassment
  • Trump the Tyrant
  • Donald Trump: Bully baby
  • Trump the Buffoon.
Some of these claims are downright fake, entirely fabricated by unreliable or dubious web sites and presented as satire, or otherwise blatantly false. But the rest — some of which have gained significant traction and credibility from otherwise serious people and organizations — provide a fascinating insight into the tactics and preoccupations of the broad anti-Trump movement known as “the Resistance,” whether they were created by critics of the President or merely shared by them.
Generally speaking, we discovered that they are characterized and driven by four types of errors of thought:
  • Alarmism
  • A lack of historical context or awareness
  • Cherry-picking of evidence (especially visual evidence)
  • A failure to adhere to Occam’s Razor — the common-sense understanding that the simplest explanation for an event or behavior is the most likely.
In this example, numerous websites, including Politico, propagated a false narrative that fell into the "Donald Trump: Bully Baby" category:
In an example of "Trump the Buffoon," Daily Kos, BuzzFeed, The Root, Stephen Colbert and others spread a false narrative about a poem President Trump recited while in Ireland.
In March, Ireland’s Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Enda Kenny came to the White House for a traditional St Patrick’s Day visit with the sitting President. During a speech, Trump recited a verse:
As we stand together with our Irish friends, I’m reminded of that proverb — and this is a good one, this is one I like, I’ve heard it for many, many years and I love it:
“Always remember to forget the friends that proved untrue, but never forget to remember those that have stuck by you.”
The response was huge. Almost instantly, Trump was mocked for citing as an Irish proverb a poem written by a Nigerian man. The Daily Kos web site wrote:
[Trump] took his moment to read the following, which he described as an old “Irish proverb”…Within minutes, the true origins of the “Irish proverb” were known and surprise! Not Irish. In fact, the words were from Nigerian poet Albashir Adam Alhassan.
The Root added:
Alhassan was born to Nigerian parents in the Kano State of Nigeria, which, coincidentally, is not Ireland. But according to Trump, it doesn’t matter if a proverb isn’t Irish; he can make it Irish.
Alhassan himself told Buzzfeed:
It’s actually strange. I’m wondering what must have made him relate it to Ireland even if he loves the lines.
Stephen Colbert devoted this three-minute segment to eviscerating what he presented as Trump’s cultural deafness and downright ignorance.
“That’s very nice, that’s very sweet,” Colbert said of Trump’s recitation:
Very sweet thought. Only problem — Trump’s “favorite Irish proverb” is not a proverb, it’s a poem, and it’s not from Ireland, it’s written by a Nigerian poet… Irish, Nigerian — it’s an honest mistake.
Only problem, as Colbert might say, Trump never once claimed the proverb was Irish.
The video of Trump’s remarks has been played countless times, embedded into mocking reports, and retweeted by thousands of people, aghast at his tone-deafness. The clip would have been edited by staff at Late Night for use, and Colbert himself would have heard the President’s words immediately before launching into the segment (which is frankly difficult to watch) in the knowledge that it is based on an entirely fabricated characterization. Not once, apparently, did anyone hear what Trump actually said — “a proverb”, not “an Irish proverb”.
Why would Trump relate the words to the Irish? The answer to the question posed by Albashir Alhassan is once again so simple that it appears to have eluded almost everyone.
“As we stand together with our Irish friends,” is how Trump prefaced his recitation. Now remember what those words were. “Always remember to forget the friends that proved untrue, but never forget to remember those that have stuck by you.” Standing next to the leader of a country with a long-standing friendly relationship with the United States, accompanied by “Irish friends”, Trump recited a verse about the loyalty of true friends. It makes complete sense for him to have read these words, and not once did he ever describe them as “Irish”.
Set aside the fact that, far from being written in 2013, those words date back at least 80 years; set aside, even, the fact that they appear online in several places, described as an “Irish proverb“. Trump never said they were Irish anyway.
The entire episode is a remarkable example of something bordering on collective hallucination, most likely brought on by confirmation bias. Here hundreds of thousands of people — including professional journalists working for influential news organizations, and a chat show host with more than three million nightly viewers — literally heard Trump say something he never said, in most cases probably because it confirmed a pre-existing image of the President as a poorly read, culturally ignorant buffoon.
There's much more, although as MacGuill noted, he didn't provide "an exhaustive list." To do that would likely have taken up too much time and space because the liberal media has been nothing but a spluttering geyser of fake, anti-Trump "news" stories since he was elected.
It's no secret that the mainstream media is overwhelmingly liberal, but they used to do a better job hiding it. The Obama era changed all that.
Hot Air's John Sexton recently reminded readers about "Journolist," the infamous media listserv created by Ezra Klein that was leaked to the public in 2009.
The list was invitation only and was mostly made up of progressive journalists. In theory, the list was a kind of digital water cooler where like-minded people could talk to others in the field. That may have been all it was much of the time, but when candidate Obama got in trouble in 2008, it also became a place for partisans to discuss a coordinated media strategy.
The strategies these partisans came up with to confront media stories unhelpful to Obama -- kill it, ignore it, call them haters — "seem like media archetypes now," Sexton sagely noted.
Indeed. How many in-depth stories about the Obama unmasking scandal have you seen in the MSM?  About as many as you saw of the Fast and Furious, IRS, and Benghazi scandals. A comparison of the MSM's minimal coverage of those scandals to their 24/7 blanket coverage of "RussiaGate" reveals a bias so blatant and obvious that even the casual (low info) observer can't help but notice.
During the Obama years, when right-wing websites and personalities played fast and loose with the facts in their zeal to say something negative about the president, they could expect to be pounced on immediately by media fact-checkers.  Now many of the media outlets and personalities smearing the president on a daily basis are members of the mainstream media -- not just overtly left-wing websites like "Occupy Democrats" or Daily Kos. They have been accusing the president of lying, while lying about the president, themselves.
It's encouraging that Snopes is calling the MSM out.

JAMIE DIMON FOR PRESIDENT?

JAMIE DIMON FOR PRESIDENT?

You may have heard the rant about Washington’s unseriousness about economic growth that JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon delivered on an earnings call the other day. In case you missed it, here it is (with some key bits marked in bold):
Since the Great Recession, which is now 8 years old, we’ve been growing at 1.5 to 2 percent in spite of stupidity and political gridlock. Because the American business sector is powerful and strong, and is going to grow regardless of — people wake up in the morning, they want to feed their kids, they want to buy a home, they want to do things, the same with American businesses — what I’m saying is it would be much stronger growth had we made intelligent decisions and were there not gridlock.
And thank you for pointing it out because I’m going to be a broken record until this gets done. We are unable to build bridges, we’re unable to build airports, our inner city school kids are not graduating.
I was just in France, I was recently in Argentina, I was in Israel, I was in Ireland. We met with the prime minister of India and China. It’s amazing to me that every single one of those countries understands that practical policies to promote business and growth is good for the average citizens of those countries, for jobs and wages, and that somehow this great American free enterprise system, we no longer get it.
Corporate taxation is critical to that, by the way. We’ve been driving capital earnings overseas, which is why there’s $2 trillion overseas benefiting all these other countries and stuff like that. So if we don’t get our act together — we can still grow.
It’s unfortunate, but it’s hurting us, it’s hurting the body politic, it’s hurting the average American that we don’t have these right policies. So no, in spite of gridlock we’ll grow at maybe 1.5 or 2 percent.
I don’t buy the argument that we’re relegated to this forever. We’re not. If this administration can make breakthroughs in taxes and infrastructure, regulatory reform —we have become one of the most bureaucratic, confusing, litigious societies on the planet.
It’s almost an embarrassment being an American citizen traveling around the world and listening to the stupid s— we have to deal with in this country. And at one point we all have to get our act together or we won’t do what we’re supposed to [do] for the average Americans.
And unfortunately people write about this saying like it’s for corporations. It’s not for corporations. Competitive taxes are important for business and business growth, which is important for jobs and wage growth. And honestly we should be ringing that alarm bell, every single one of you, every time you talk to a client.
JP Morgan was the one big bank that weathered the banking crisis of 2008 fairly well (though it participated in the bank bailout anyway because it had to). But more to the point: Dimon is a Democrat. Once upon a time Democrats talked about economic growth as a good thing, and the prime object of policy. Remember JFK’s campaign slogan? “Let’s get the country moving again.” It was an early version of “Make America great again.” There was a whole doctrine of the Kennedy years called “growth liberalism,” and Kennedy’s economic team set out for 5 or 6 percent growth or better. Dimon sounds themes here perfectly congruent with JFK’s theme that “a rising tide lifts all boats.”
Liberalism’s indifference to growth today reflects the absorption of anti-growth environmentalism, and the triumph of what James Piereson called “punitive liberalism”—not just redistribution, but the desire to get retribution against the successful.
So could Dimon win the 2020 Democratic nomination? I doubt it. It’s Bernie’s party now. Wall Street bankers need not apply. Even though Dimon could give Trump a run for his money from the right on economic matters.

COLLUSION CONFUSION

COLLUSION CONFUSION

Many Democrats, and even a few Republicans, have claimed that Donald Trump, Jr’s meeting with a Russian lawyer who claimed to have information about Hillary Clinton’s illicit dealings with Russia while she was Secretary of State constitutes the long-sought evidence of “collusion” between the Trump campaign and the Russian government, even though the Russian with whom Trump, Jr. met conveyed no such information.
This, I think, overlooks a very basic point. It’s only collusion if the parties’ purpose is bad. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “collusion”:
secret agreement or cooperation especially for an illegal or deceitful purpose * acting in collusion with the enemy
Thus, when the U.S., Russia and other countries jointly operate the International Space Station, they aren’t colluding, they are cooperating.
Liberals talk about “collusion” in connection with Trump, Jr’s meeting to paper over the fact that there was nothing wrong with it. Collecting information about corruption on the part of a candidate for office is a good thing, not a bad thing. We know from Clinton Cash that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton played a key role in turning over a large part of America’s supply of uranium to the Russians, at about the same time when Russians associated with that country’s government paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to Bill and Hillary Clinton. So we know about the quid and the quo, the only question is whether there was a pro. If the Russian lawyer had had information on this point, it would have been a public service to disclose it.
It is different, of course, if false information about a candidate is being fabricated. Thus, we can properly say that Democrats colluded in the production of a fake dossier on President Trump.
Some have tried to argue that it would have been illegal for Trump, Jr. to get information on Mrs. Clinton from a Russian because under our election laws, foreign nationals and governments can’t provide cash or other things of value to candidates. (Of course, it does sometimes happen, as when the Chinese government supported Bill Clinton’s re-election campaign in 1996.) I would consider taking this argument seriously if anyone had ever reported giving information about an opponent to a campaign as an in-kind contribution. To my knowledge, it’s never happened.
Having failed to come up with evidence that the Trump campaign had anything to do with spearfishing the DNC’s and RNC’s* email accounts–presumably because it didn’t–the Democrats are now defining collusion down to include innocent conversation toward a proper purpose. If that is the standard, we have photographic evidence of Congressional Democrats colluding with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during President Trump’s speech to the House and Senate in January:
*The RNC spearfishing failed because no one there was foolish enough to fall for it.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Moonbeam Brown Unhinged: ‘Existence of humanity rests on extending California’s cap and tax law’

Moonbeam Brown Unhinged: ‘Existence of humanity rests on extending California’s cap and tax law’

Guest essay by Larry Hamlin,
Existence of humanity rests on extending Governor Brown’s cap and tax law. Just watch Jerry Brown in his rant over the issue on July 14th:

California Governor Brown presented testimony in hearings where he demanded that the California’s cap and tax law which is the centerpiece of the state’s carbon fighting schemes and which expires in 2020 be extended to year 2030.
Brown proclaimed that:
“America is facing not just a climate crisis with the rest of the world, we are facing a political crisis,” Brown told lawmakers at the first public hearing on his proposal to reduce the state’s carbon emissions. “Can democracy actually work? Is there a sufficient consensus that we can govern ourselves? That, I submit to you, is an open question.”
An L. A. Times article discussing Brown’s testimony indicated that “he warned of mass migration, forest fires, floods, disease and other pestilence should lawmakers not act.”
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Brown admonished lawmakers that California’s cap and tax law serves as a model for carbon-reduction efforts across the world, from China to neighboring Oregon.
Brown failed to address the lawmakers regarding how the extension of the California cap and tax law will stop the building by China of more than 700 new coal plants in the next ten years.
An article in The Wall Street Journal regarding the challenges Governor Brown is facing to extend the cap and tax law noted:
“Manufacturers, oil refiners and food processors—major employers in low-income areas—will have to buy permits or expensive new equipment to comply with the state’s emissions cap. Cap and trade has raised the cost of gas by about 12 cents a gallon and this surcharge will increase as emissions controls tighten. Californians already pay about 65 cents more per gallon than the national average.”
Additionally the Wall Street Journal further noted:
“This year the state Senate passed legislation doubling the renewable mandate to 100% by 2045—and, by the way, California is producing so much solar power on some days that it has to pay other states to unload it. Senate Democrats have also proposed jacking up the price of emissions permits and imposing a border carbon fee to tax out-of-state imports.”
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It is difficult to comprehend how “the existence of humanity” rests on California extending its cap and tax law to year 2030. But this is California – what else needs to be said.