Tacitus Speaks: What Difference Does it Make?
We are witnessing the extraordinarily messy closing weeks of the 2016 presidential campaign. It’s not really Clinton versus Trump anymore. It’s the leftist media versus the Russians. Mind you, the Trump campaign isn’t colluding with the SVR and FSB. It goes without saying that the Clinton campaign and the likes of the Washington Post and New York Times are working closely behind the scenes. They are colluding. I’d like to be surprised but I think the media will win this struggle and drag Hillary across the finish line.
But, at this stage in the game, should Mrs Clinton be on the ballot at all? To answer that question I need to go way back in time – to early July – and to a newly-revealed historical nugget. Here it is from Fox News:
The decision to let Hillary Clinton off the hook for mishandling classified information has roiled the FBI and Department of Justice, with one person closely involved in the year-long probe telling Fox News that career agents and attorneys on the case unanimously believed the Democrat presidential nominee should have been charged.
The source, who spoke to Fox News on the condition of anonymity, said FBI Director James Comey’s dramatic 5 July announcement that he would not recommend to the Attorney General’s office that the former Secretary of State be charged left members of the investigative team dismayed and disgusted.
More than 100 FBI agents and analysts worked around the clock with six attorneys from the DOJ’s National Security Division, Counter Espionage Section, to investigate the case.
“No trial level attorney agreed, no agent working the case agreed, with the decision not to prosecute – it was a top-down decision,” said the source, whose identity and role in the case has been verified by Fox News.
A high-ranking FBI official told Fox News that while it might not have been a unanimous decision, “It was unanimous that we all wanted her [Clinton’s] security clearance yanked.”
“It is safe to say the vast majority felt she should be prosecuted,” the senior FBI official told Fox News. “We were floored while listening to the FBI briefing because Comey laid it all out, and then said but we are doing nothing, which made no sense to us.”
Former US Attorney Joseph DiGenova is hearing the same thing:
I had a meeting today with a senior former FBI agent who told me this exact story. That people are starting to talk. They’re calling their former friends outside the Bureau asking for help. We were asked, today, to provide legal representation for people inside the Bureau and we agreed to do so. And, to former agents who want to come forward to talk.
Comey thought this was going to go away. It is not. People inside the Bureau are furious. They are embarrassed. They feel they are being led by a hack. But, more than that, they think he’s a crook. They think he’s fundamentally dishonest. They have no confidence in him. The Bureau, inside, right now… is a mess.
This is the way things go in the federal bureaucracy these days. Civil servants don’t resign in protest (they have bills to pay). They don’t go to the IG with their complaints (they know the IGs have been neutered and that subsequent career retribution would be certain). No. They go to retired friends with their stories and, if they’re really upset, leak anonymously to sympathetic media outlets.
Why is this particular leak significant? Because were were repeatedly assured by the White House, Department of Justice, and the FBI that decisions with regard to the possible prosecution of Hillary Clinton would be made by “career professionals.” That wasn’t true at all. It was made by an Obama appointee acting as a front for Mr Obama and his other, more obviously partisan, appointees. The career professionals were cut out of the loop.
I believe I can now piece together what happened:
– The fix was in – maybe always, but for sure since the Obamas-Clintons meeting on Martha’s Vineyard in August 2015.
– Mrs Clinton is above the law. The only question was how to finesse the law.
– The FBI investigation yielded a wealth of evidence of felonious activity.
– But President Obama needs a Democrat successor in order to protect his legacy, most of which was put into place via easily-reversible executive orders.
– The Washington establishment – both parties – want Mrs Clinton elected President.
– FBI Director Comey was built up as a nonpartisan figure. Really he is a member in good standing of the establishment.
– Mr Comey decided on his own, or was privately induced by an intermediary (Democrat or Republican), that Donald Trump must be defeated.
– Comey then concocted a rationale for not prosecuting Hillary, evidence not withstanding. The obvious template was how Chief Justice Roberts saved Obamacare from otherwise certain destruction in 2012 (and paved the way for Mr Obama’s re-election).
– Comey must have coordinated with Attorney General Lynch on his plan of action. He was, after all, invading her turf by making what was essentially a Main Justice prosecutorial decision when he was an investigative agency chief.
– Lynch would have had to coordinate with the White House, who coordinated with the Clintons.
– The infamous late June Bill Clinton-Loretta Lynch meeting at the airport in Phoenix – meant to be secret – may have been an expression of thanks from the Clintons to the Justice Department leadership.
– Then came the 4th of July weekend’s softball FBI interview of Hillary with all its bizarre “accommodations” for the suspects. The whole purpose of the interview was to ensure nothing damaging to Mrs Clinton came out of it.
– Finally, after the sequence of events outlined above, came the surprise 5 July announcement by Director Comey letting Mrs Clinton off the hook.
To quote you-know-who, “At this point, what difference does it make?” If it weren’t for this sweet deal, Mrs Clinton would have been forced to drop out of the presidential race. She would now be a defendant in the early stages of a criminal prosecution, or at a minimum deprived of her security clearance – a disqualifying matter for an aspiring President. The leftist media would be trying to drag some other Democrat across the finish line.
Copyright 2016 Tacitus
Tacitus Speaks: Selectivity
I guess I need to wade, ever so carefully, deeper into radioactive waters.
To do so I need to return to yesterday’s essay wherein I opined that the Clintons had launched a morality-neutron warhead at Donald Trump.
What did I mean by that? The neutron bomb, as some of you will recall, was a Reagan era nuclear weapon characterized by its selectivity. It was meant to be used against advancing Soviet troops in central Europe. It would kill the Red Army men with a burst of radiation but spare European physical infrastructure because it had little blast effect. Presumably civilians would have fled the battle zone before the neutron bombs were released. Noncombatants could then return, ante bellum as it were. The Soviet dead could be buried, their abandoned tanks towed off to scrap yards, and life would resume as before. The reality would have been far more grim but that was the theory.
Now translate that to our current context. Heather McDonald of City Journal (who usually writes about urban crime) gets at the selectivity of the left’s electoral nuclear device:
Democrats and their media allies, joined by many Republicans, are calling on Donald Trump to withdraw from the presidential race after a newly released, decade-old tape of a frat-house-level conversation between Trump and television host Billy Bush in 2005, in which Trump boasted of his heavy-handed pursuit of females…
Now why might it be that men regard women as sex objects? Surely the ravenous purchase by females of stiletto heels, push-up bras, butt-hugging mini-skirts, plunging necklines, false eyelashes, hair extensions, breast implants, butt implants, lip implants, and mascara, rouge, and lipstick to the tune of billions a year has nothing to do with it. Females would never ever exploit their sexuality to seek attention from men. Bush and Trump, driving to the set of Days of Our Lives on a studio bus, comment on the legs of actress Arianne Zucker who is coming to meet them: “Oh, nice legs, huh?” Trump says. “Your girl’s hot as shit, in the purple,” Bush says. How surprising that Trump and Bush noticed Zucker’s legs! As documented in the video, she is wearing a skimpy purple dress, with an extremely short hem cut on the bias, a low neckline and fully exposed back. She is in high heels to accentuate her bare legs. The ratio of exposed skin between Zucker, on the one hand, and Trump and Bush, on the other, is perhaps 100 to one. But all that bare flesh must simply be because Zucker has a high metabolism and gets exceedingly warm; she would never want to broadcast her sexuality to men or have men notice her. The fact that she swishes her hips when she walks must just be a quirk of anatomy.
Thus we see that the morality-neutron warhead is selective in that it targets men only. Only men can be guilty of sexist behavior, you see. How’s that? Because the left says so.
But wait. This warhead is double-selective. It is a sophisticated weapon. Generally speaking it doesn’t harm Democrats. Are any of them guilty of sexual misconduct – not ten years ago like Trump, but right now?
Enter author Ed Klein, an expert on the inner workings of the Obama and Clinton cartels. Many denigrate his books because he makes use of unnamed sources. Actually that’s quite common in the Washington-insider tell-all genre – Bob Woodward comes to mind. In any event, here’s Klein’s comment:
“I have a whole chapter on Bill Clinton’s current – not back in the 1990s when he raped and harassed and intimidated women, not 20 or 30 years ago – we’re talking about right now, Bill Clinton is continuing his exploitation of 20 year-old interns at his [presidential] library in Little Rock,” said Klein. “I did not see one mainstream media outlet pick this up – or, for that matter, even check to see if I was accurate. Of course, I think I’m accurate because I interviewed the girls who did the foot rubs, and I interviewed the man who was at his party when he hosed down the women in this wet t-shirt contest. But nobody in the media has bothered to check and find out what I did, by simply going down to Little Rock and asking questions.”
Bill has a mistress up on Long Island too. And there are those multiple flights on the “Lolita Express” down to the pedophile’s private island in the Bahamas. Has Hillary publicly expressed her outrage about any of this? No, she covers it up. And don’t think Bill is just an ex-President. Given her obvious ill health Hillary will be at best a low-energy President. People in her inner circle will act in her stead, first among them Bill. If we elect her we’ll be in effect re-electing him.
“So you can see this disgusting double standard that we are living with in this country…”
…And the heavy irony of the Clintons – the least moral, least ethical, least honest inhabitants of the public sphere – attacking Donald Trump on moral grounds.
The double irony is that the left, which has done do much to undermine public morality over a period of decades, which has drenched the culture in sex, is now getting all sanctimonious about sex.
Oh, and mirror, mirror on the wall – who’s the biggest potty-mouth of all? Based on multiple credible accounts, the answer to that is “Hillary! Hillary!”
There are rumors of more Trump tapes to come – one allegedly more of the same and one worse. Will the final incoming nuke carry a racism-neutron warhead? Has Trump ever in his life uttered the wrong word with regard to black people? Who knows. I do know that a racism bomb will also be selective. Only whites can be guilty of racism, you see. And Democrats get a pass.
Do I think these nukings will work? Yes.
Donald Trump is being found guilty – ex post facto – of being a reprobate who engaged in loose braggadocio. The alternative, embodied by the hapless GOP political class, is to constantly self-censor yourself in accordance with ever-shifting ground rules set by your enemies.
Now, to the difficult part (all the above is self-evident). The hard question. You might ask, if I was against Bill Clinton during the impeachment crisis of the late 1990s, how can I be for Donald Trump now? Are there any meaningful differences between the two? Or am I engaging in situational ethics?
Two differences between then and now: First, there is a big difference between criminal acts and politically incorrect speech. Second, there is a difference between the behavior of a sitting President and that of a private citizen. Plus, the Clintons were, and are, all slime all the time. Bill’s sexual misconduct is central to but not separate from the rest.
Do I think, even in private conversations (which this was meant to be), that men should talk the way Mr Trump did? No. Did I ever talk like that? No. I never had that big of an ego. Have I heard the like from other men over the years? Yes. Do some women talk in similar ways about men? I think they do.
Donald Trump was my fourth choice for a presidential candidate. I have acknowledged all along that he is a crass and vulgar person. I support him in spite of, not because of, this. before you shake your head, consider the choice that lies before us and the consequences of being oh so pure. Do you really want to live in a one-party state?
Copyright 2016 Tacitus
Tacitus Speaks: The Initial Nuclear Exchange
On Friday the Clinton campaign launched a single nuke. The aim was to decapitate the Trump campaign, to personally destroy candidate Trump, and to send a message to any other outsider who might in the future even think about challenging the leftist status quo. Probably the weapon was released earlier than originally planned. It was re-timed in order to preempt the Russian email dump exposing what Hillary has actually been saying to her Wall Street constituency.
The NBC-Washington Post-Clinton campaign audio tape of Mr Trump’s lewd 2005 comments was meant to crush him with women voters. It sent the entire Republican establishment running for the tall grass. Meanwhile, Chuck Todd of NBC dutifully declared the election over. Hillary had won. All she needed to do was show up at Sunday’s debate and collect her laurels.
For the Donald, this was the moment of crisis. What to do? On Saturday conservative pundits urged him to abase himself. Breitbart News – practically alone – urged him to go nuclear himself.
Trump’s decision was signaled by a pre-debate press availability. The media thought they were going to a routine photo session. Here’s what they found as they entered the room:
Donald Trump sitting at a table filled out with victims of Bill and Hillary Clinton’s past misdeeds. The sexual skeletons were out of the closet.
Here’s a photo of Bill taken shortly afterward:
Yes, that’s fear you see in his eyes. He was afraid the wronged women were literally going to come after him, right there in the main debate theater. They almost did. The people running the event saved him by telling Trump’s people that security would eject the women if they came close to the Clintons. But they did sit elsewhere in the room, leaving the Clintons on edge. Sorry, Hillary. Profit by the Clinton name, suffer for the Clinton name. You really shouldn’t have put a morality-neutron warhead on that nuke.
As an aside, here’s a photo of Melania Trump at the debate:
She didn’t get from Slovenia to that fancy suite atop the Trump Tower in Manhattan by getting the vapors about her husband’s behavior and clutching her pearls. She didn’t get there by wearing pearls. In fact at strategic junctures in her career she wasn’t wearing anything. On the other hand, she isn’t resorting to deceit and cynical misdirection either.
With that, to the debate itself. Here’s a chronology from Hot Air:
9:07 PM: Right out of the gate… [the candidates arrive on stage and simply nod tersely from a distance.] I suppose we’ll just do away with the handshakes.
9:20: It took a while to get through the tape discussion. Hillary really went at it hard, but Trump stuck to his “locker room talk” answer and then deflected. Hard to say who won that round. But when they moved to the next stage, Trump announced he would get a special prosecutor to go after Clinton. This. Is. War.
That last is a trademark quote from the late Andrew Breitbart. CNN correctly called Trump’s method on Sunday night a “Breitbart strategy.” It’s no accident that Stephen Bannon, the head a Breitbart, is a top Trump adviser. Yet this was Trump’s natural inclination anyway.
And it is war. By promising to put a special prosecutor on Hillary he’s making it very clear to her that she must either win the election or be meted the very fate her nuke was meant to cause for Donald. She nuked him. He nuked her back.
9:27: We moved onto the emails and Trump is unloading on her. Trump actually uses the phrase, “because you’d be in jail” when Hillary Clinton says it’s a good thing Trump isn’t running the country. Trump finishes attacking Clinton he goes after [CNN moderator] Anderson Cooper.
Here Mr Trump directly confronted the two-on-one (actually three-on-one) issue – and showed he could handle it. Biased moderators are mere conventional weapons. The conflict has gone beyond that now.
As to the “You’d be in jail” comment, that drew a predictable partisan response. Leftists spluttered “You can’t say that!” and Trump supporters exclaimed “Just what we wanted to hear!”
9:34: The Obamacare discussion was the first time I remember Hillary Clinton being pinned down to say that costs were unaffordable and it has to be fixed. Trump calls for scrapping it an introducing a new system. Trump accused her of wanting to shift to single payer. This is a terrible subject for Clinton.
9:50: Martha [CBS moderator Martha Radditz] asked Clinton about her leaked Wall Street speeches and actually used the phrase “is it okay to be two faced.” Hillary took it in stride (obviously had been memorizing this one) and blamed her “two positions” comments on watching a movie about Lincoln. Frankly I didn’t understand where she went from there. Trump’s response was as inflammatory as the rest. One observation on the second half hour of this show is that Trump probably read the book on how politicians normally conduct debates. He has now ripped that book up and set the pieces on fire. I’ve lost track of how many times Trump has called Clinton a liar.
Well, she is a liar and Trump wanted to be sure everybody has that part loud and clear. This is, after all, battle of the negatives – the most vulgar businessman in America versus the most odious politician.
9:57: I have no idea how this is going to play in the heartland, but Trump has pegged the aggression meter in going after Clinton. To her credit, she’s not gotten excessively flustered, but a lot of the answers from both of them are meandering so far from the original questions it’s difficult to judge…
Mr Trump is physically large and naturally intimidating, as this photo shows:
Hillary should get credit for standing her ground. She’s experienced and determined. Probably also medicated to the gills.
10:08: Somebody has been doing the counting of how often the moderators (particularly Martha) are interrupting the candidates. As of this point, they’ve interrupted Trump 14 times, Clinton just 3 times.
The final count was 26 and 12.
10:10: I marked this time stamp because it’s of great interest. At this moment, debate moderator Martha Raddatz answered one of Trump’s questions and began debating him by on Syria and our military strategy by saying, “Sometimes there are reasons the military has to do that.” So rather than waiting for Clinton to argue the point, she decided to do it for her.
10:30: In the closing moments, Trump seemed to do pretty well on the Supreme Court question and actually got Clinton to say she supports the Second Amendment. That was a rather surreal moment. They moved from there into an energy question which Trump was well prepared for. Clinton had to walk a tightrope there for her green energy backers, but it didn’t do much for the guy asking about not putting fossil fuel workers out on the streets.
10:40: Who won that debate? I went back and forth with a few friends on twitter over that question. The default answer is that supporters of both candidates will claim that they did. But if anyone was waiting for Trump to crumble under the onslaught it never happened. I’m sure many will say that he was too aggressive, and perhaps some voters will take that away. But he wasn’t bailing out of anything. For her part, Clinton never really melted down either. She was getting hammered pretty hard by both Trump and some of the questions, but she stood in there and took it and kept swinging. Trump needed a good night and my blurry impression after this feisty show is that he had one, but there wasn’t a knockout blow struck on either side…
As to who won, supporters were predictable. Flash polls by CNN and the Drudge Report had Hillary and Donald winning, respectively. More telling were the the grudging admissions of a Trump victory by the Never Trumpers at National Review and the Clinton loyalists at CBS News. In this, the most dramatic (or weird) presidential debate ever, Mr Trump had Mrs Clinton on the defensive throughout. He showed he had learned from his mistakes in the first debate, and that he can dominate not just in name-calling but also on points of substantive policy.
What exactly did he win? The chance to fight another day – something that was by no means assured going into the debate.
OK. What’s next after the initial nuclear exchange?
First, some BDA. The dueling leaks have hurt Trump with women and establishment Republicans while Clinton was hurt with Bernie Sanders supporters. The debate was a stop-the-rout victory for Trump. It will take time for polling to come through, but I suspect that we’ll find that the two candidates will be back where they were before the mushroom clouds started to appear.
Will there be launches of second-strike nuclear weapons? Yes, assuredly. Will they be more of the same? Probably. On Monday Wikileaks dropped 2086 new emails purloined from inside the Clinton camp. Also on Monday the American Thinker reported this:
David Brock, who runs [the Clinton opposition smear operation], has offered to pay the legal fees of employees who worked on Donald Trump’s TV show, The Apprentice, if they are sued for leaking tapes damaging to Trump. Apparently, the employees signed a contract with the producer of the show, Mark Burnett, that included a provision for a $5 million “leak fee” if any of the tapes came to light.
Translation: We’ll pay $5 million for a fresh piece of dirt on Trump (see – all those fat cat donations do have a purpose).
If you’re on the receiving end, a first strike ICBM and a second strike SLBM look pretty much the same.
Does either side have a political doomsday device? Possibly. The Clintonites will stop at nothing to get her into the White House. The Russians… well, let’s just say they have a range of strategic options.
Ultimately it’s Trump versus the whole establishment. The establishment is very powerful and very committed to retaining power.
You could shake your head and say “This is what American politics has come to.” But I say “This is better than meek surrender.” Joe Scarborough of MSNBC opined Monday that the GOP political class must now be saying “Oh, shoot…” Whoops. We folded too early. People might notice that. Scarborough’s MSNBC sidekick Mika Brezinski called them “pathetic, weak, spineless.”
As always when dealing with the left, we’re limited to three basic response options: submission (in this case abject apology), flight (in this case Trump dropping out of the race) or to fight (what Trump did Sunday night).
Better to die on your feet than live on your knees.
Copyright 2016 Tacitus
Tacitus Speaks: Seeking the Assassin’s Mace
The October Surprises are coming, you know, fast and furious.
The first shot came from the Democrats (naturally). The New York Times published an illegal release of Mr Trump’s 2001 state tax filings – or the first pages thereof. The documents show that he had declared a massive loss for that year. This is completely legal. From this the Times inferred he paid no income taxes for many years thereafter until his profits exceeded his losses. Again, that’s completely legal. And we don’t know how soon his profits came back up so that he had taxable income. It also doesn’t mean he paid no taxes. He paid a lot in property and other taxes. Nonetheless, leftists called him a tax cheat. The fact that Hillary and the New York Times have used exactly the same tax provision has been swept under the rug by, uh, Hillary, the New York Times, and the mainstream media in general.
Then there was Hurricane Mathew, which seemed to show a lot of promise for Democrat political profit. Unfortunately for them it didn’t live up to media hype. Still, there may be something to be squeezed out here – the hurricane did create some telegenic coastal flooding.
But wait. There’s more. Guy Benson of Townhall has the latest:
In the latest Quinnipiac poll (Hillary +5), Donald Trump trails among female voters by 20 points. In Fox News’ new survey, his deficit among women is 10 points. That gap may soon grow, as the Washington Post has obtained audio of Donald Trump bragging about his sexual exploits on a hot mic in 2005…
If you think this is fine and won’t matter with any undecided voters, you’re living in such a thick bubble that you may need to order some oxygen tanks. Trump needs to make up ground among college graduates and white women to have a prayer in November. This hurts.
It does. The Donald has a real problem with women voters. They just don’t like crass and vulgar. I don’t either but, like Lucky Jack Aubrey, I believe that “in the service we must choose the lesser of two weevils.” I can’t justify the Pontius Pilate route of voting Libertarian, voting Green, or not voting at all.
And speaking of crass, here’s the no doubt pre-planned Hillary tweet in response the the Post’s shot at Trump:
“This is horrific. We cannot allow this man to become President.”
Say this for Hillary: she has a special kind of chutzpah. Back to Townhall and to the obvious response
The Trump campaign has responded with a statement dismissing this as “locker room talk,” asserting that Bill Clinton said worse on the links with Trump, and issuing a “sorry if you were offended” quasi-apology…
The Washington Post hit piece drags Donald partway down to the level of Bill. Mr Trump (so far as we know) isn’t a sex addict. He didn’t do it in the Oval Office with an intern. He didn’t commit perjury. He isn’t guilty of rape. He didn’t allow his wife to attack the victims and participate in a massive cover-up. Other that, that Mr Trump’s behavior is indefensible. Furthermore, comparing yourself to the Clintons isn’t exactly holding yourself to a high standard.
But to continue with the Surprises…
This story is understandably going to get a lot of play, but please allow me to point out what else happened today: Hundreds of additional Hillary Clinton emails were released to the public by court order. These are among the trove of work-related trove she lied about withholding…
The dirt is still sifting out on the outrageous “accommodations” given to Team Clinton by the DOJ and FBI, concerning disappeared email evidence, questions deliberately not asked, grants of immunities to guilty-as-sin minions, and who knows what else. Old news, I know. That’s how the Clintons wanted it to be.
Enter Vladimir Putin, stage right, to the game of October Surprises:
The Russian government petitioned the UN to lay off its Trump criticism, while the US Intelligence Community affirmed that the Russian government is responsible for the many hacks that appear designed to influence our election.
Yes, you read that right. The UN has taken sides in the US presidential election. As to Russia, well, it is astonishing to me but they’re all-in to harm the Democrat side in this election. You’d think they’d support the continuation of weak and ineffectual US foreign policy. You’d think. But it seems that imperative has been overcome by deep dislike and indeed disdain for the ruling party here in America. Every day our incompetent Secretary of State feeds this by hurling venom at the Kremlin. We really don’t need a full-up conflict with Russia this fall.
With regard to cyber attribution, here’s the New York Times:
The Obama Administration on Friday formally accused the Russian government of stealing and disclosing emails from the Democrat National Committee and a range of other institutions and prominent individuals [all Democrats]…
In a statement from the Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, and the Department of Homeland Security, the government said the leaked emails that have appeared on a variety of websites “are intended to interfere with the US election process.”
The emails were posted on the well-known WikiLeaks site and two newer sites, DCLeaks and Guccifer 2.0, identified as being associated with Russian intelligence.
“We believe, based on the scope and sensitivity of these efforts, that only Russia’s senior-most officials could have authorized these activities,” the statement said.
I digress. Back to Townhall:
Wikileaks – which many believe is a Russian front – dumped hacked Clinton campaign emails. Some of them dealt with the Wall Street speech transcripts she’s been hiding from voters. Gosh, I wonder why.
Here’s a sample from the email summary of a fulsomely-remunerated 2013 Hillary speech:
“Hillary Clinton said her dream is a hemispheric Common Market with open trade and open borders…”
And the Townhall comment:
Open borders and open trade. Anathema to the prevailing political environment. The trade stuff would have hurt her badly in the primary, and the immigration line could harm her chances in the general.
The leaked emails show she also spoke of being out of touch with the American middle class, about having “public and private” policy positions, and of course she showered the love on the Wall Street fat cats.
Other Russian-origin leaks have come from Guccifer 2.0 in the form of Clinton Foundation/DNC documents and from DC Leaks who have published over 40,000 emails sent by a Clinton minion.
I don’t doubt there will be more to come from the mainstream media (who I suspect are providing throughput for Clinton campaign opposition research) and Mr Putin’s security services. Both sides are seeking an Assassin’s Mace (to use the Chinese term) – the perfect weapon to strike the killer blow.
This was already a campaign between negatives. The dueling October Surprises are going to make both candidates look even more ugly than they already did. In the battle between media-orchestrated hits and Russian-orchestrated leaks the advantage goes to the side with the biggest megaphone. Clearly that’s the Democrats. Their hit pieces are better-digested (with embedded Clinton Campaign talking points) and better timed than those coming from the Russians, who are simply making data dumps.
Donald Trump is in a two-on-one contest against Mrs Clinton and the media. He’s struggling with double standards, now broadly accepted, wherein Democrats can say or do anything and Republicans must walk the straight and narrow (a big problem for the Donald). Sunday’s debate will be more of the same. I expect both candidate Clinton – suitably rested after her “drug holiday” – and the moderator to come out in full attack mode. Maybe they’ve prepared another whack with the Assassin’s Mace concerning the Donald and women.
The Real Clear Politics average of polls stands at Clinton +3.2 (in a four-way race). Trends are negative. At this point Mr Trump will either have to be rescued by events too significant for the media to hide or he will have to find a way to break through the power of the system. Failing a turnaround, we’ll be stuck with what I project will be our second-worst President ever (sorry Democrats James Buchanan and Jimmy Carter – ineffective must yield place to evil).
Copyright 2016 Tacitus
Tacitus Speaks: Of Propaganda and Prudence
Yesterday I mentioned that the goddess Gaia – she of global warming and climate change – was a part of the new official pantheon. Well, she’s been in the news of late. As I write this on Friday afternoon Hurricane Matthew is brushing the east coast of Florida, causing a great deal of excitement. Or, more to the point, a great deal of conflict between two lesser demigods – the nymph Propaganda and sprite Prudence.
What kind of conflict? To give you a sample, here’s part of an article in Popular Science published Thursday evening:
As Hurricane Matthew charges into Florida with winds up to 140 mph, approximately 1.5 million people are preparing to clear out of the storm’s path. By Thursday evening, the National Weather Service was imploring residents to head to safety. “Now is the time to urgently hide from the wind. Failure to adequately shelter may result in serious injury, loss of life or immense human suffering,” the agency said on its website. On Thursday, President Obama declared a State of Emergency in Florida.
And then there was Matt Drudge, who was instead declaring a State of Conspiracy. The founder of the Drudge Report spent his evening blasting out tweets that the storm’s forecast was grossly overblown. He even went so far as to accuse the government of exaggerating Hurricane Matthew’s intensity just to make a point about the dangers of climate change…
Hugh Cobb, Chief of the Tropical Analysis and Forecast Branch of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, told Popular Science that he was aware of Drudge’s comments and that while he would not comment directly on them, he reacted with a groan. Cobb emphasized that all of NOAA’s data is collected straight from the storm using reconnaissance aircraft. Aircraft have no political agenda.
Remember that 140 mph number.
But before we continue, Dr Roy Spencer clarifies technical points about hurricane wind speed:
Research airplanes fly into western Atlantic hurricanes and measure winds at flight level in the regions most likely to have the highest winds.
…Another issue that… the “maximum sustained winds” reported for hurricanes [can appear] overestimated [because] the area of maximum winds usually covers an extremely small portion of the hurricane. As a result, seldom does an actual anemometer on a tower [near ground level] measure anything close to what is reported as the maximum sustained winds.
As to the matter of agenda, NOAA certainly has one. They are arch-Warmists and not above using deception to achieve their ends. In this case there’s a double agenda – promoting global warming alarmism and electing a Democrat to the presidency. These are just facts, comrade.
I’m pretty sure Popular Science has an agenda too. Unless I’m mistaken they’re one of the formerly reputable publications which have turned themselves into climate change shills.
Now, with regard to Hurricane Matthew, there were legitimate warning issues. However many in the media crossed over into hysterical doom-crying. In fact it got so bad that a couple of organizations felt it necessary to specifically deny that they were exaggerating the threat posed by the storm. Maybe if you parse their words carefully those two weren’t exaggerating. But others were. Grossly. One headline from Thursday claimed the Atlantic coast of Florida could be “uninhabitable for months.” I think the always-annoying Shepard Smith of Fox News took the cake. Here’s what he said on Thursday afternoon:
“This moves 20 miles to the west, and you and everyone you know are dead – all of you – because you can’t survive it. It’s not possible unless you’re very, very lucky. And your kids die, too.”
The first phrase was worst-casing. The remainder was ridiculous hyperbole. There were two worst-case scenarios for the hurricane, both of which would have needed to happen: a) Matthew could have remained a CAT 4 hurricane, and b) it could have turned hard left and come ashore on Florida’s central coast. Neither were likely and neither happened. The storm weakened to CAT 3 and remained offshore. Here’s a radar map of Matthew at its closest point of approach to the Florida coast Friday morning:
It’s still possible Mathew will come ashore in South Carolina. But by then it will be weaker.
The Governors of Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina – Republicans all – ordered mass evacuation of at-risk areas. That was prudent. I would have done the same were I in their place. But unfortunately this and similar previous actions have created a Chicken Little Effect. Most people now understand that the authorities and the media deliberately tout worst-case scenarios in order to get high compliance with evacuation orders. Alas, the more they do this the less likely people will be to take them seriously next time. It’s difficult to communicate the distinction between “could” be very dangerous and “will” be.
Real Science, in a posting from early Friday, juxtaposes hype and reality:
Back to those supposed 140 mph winds. The strongest wind gust recorded (unofficially) Friday morning was 88 mph near Satellite Beach. That’s in the Cape Canaveral area. Most wind velocities were quite a bit less than that – in the 55-65 mph range. Storm surge was also well below predictions.
Out here in Colorado it’s not unusual to see 55-65 mph wind gusts on blustery days. The strongest wind I’ve ever experienced – and I’ve ridden out two CAT 1 hurricanes – was a downslope Chinook here at Mountain House about ten years ago. The strongest gust was clocked at 113 mph. The house was buffeted all night but in the morning the only damage was some scattering of light unmoored objects. Farther downslope the framework of a house under construction was blown over. Some houses nearby had roofing tiles broken loose. There were a few branches down but no entire trees. That was it. It would have been different had the Chinook got to 140 mph, which approaches tornado wind velocity.
A word on the politics of Hurricane Matthew. Incumbent Obama profited handsomely from “Superstorm Sandy” ( the collision of a fading hurricane and a cold weather front). The typically mediocre government response was portrayed as a paragon of efficiency. No doubt Democrats hoped (and perhaps still hope) to repeat the trick in 2016. On Wednesday Mr Obama levered off the approaching hurricane to tout his worthless Paris climate accord. NBC correspondent Ron Allen carried the ball further, saying the “Paris climate deal will prevent future hurricanes.” No kidding. He said that. Mrs Clinton made a huge ad buy on the Weather Channel – this was later withdrawn after Eric Trump called the ploy ghoulish. The Trump campaign suspects there will be a “climate ambush” during Sunday’s presidential debate by partisan moderator Anderson Cooper. One assumes the GOP candidate is making prudent worst-case preparations.
Climate alarmism plays on public ignorance. Friday afternoon Rush Limbaugh said “it takes a special kind of stupid” to believe the hype. That’s true. But it also would be arrogant to ignore weather-related warnings (Rush didn’t – he moved his radio show from Palm Beach to Los Angeles). You have to recognize that warning is an uncertain business and that sloppy and/or politically-motivated media types are likely to exaggerate. Be prudent. Prepare. Act early. Better safe than sorry. Ultimately, you’re on your own. Make the best decision you can.
And, just out of curiosity, circle back afterward to compare hype with reality.
Except that Hurricane Mathew didn’t, strictly speaking, “hit” the US. The time since a major hurricane landfall is now 4001 days… and counting.
Copyright 2016 Tacitus
Tactictus on Tacitus
About the Analogy
As you know, I find historical analogies valuable. Most germane to our current times are the old Soviet Union, 16th and 17th century England, and – probably most telling – Rome in late republican and early imperial times. Maureen Mullarkey of the Federalist has addressed this subject. Here’s her going-in squib:
We learn from history only if we draw the right lessons from it. The radical distance between the Roman world and our own is far-reaching.
Radical distance? What does she mean by that? Read on.
Here are excerpts from the article itself:
One thing everybody knows about Rome is that it fell. Just why it did is still debated. Classicists can count 200-plus reasons for the dissolution – or evolution – of what was once the known world’s superpower.
Fall, however, is a sexier word. It goes well with caricatures of Neronian debauchery fondly promoted in nineteenth century moralizing paintings or in movies like Fellini’s leering ‘Satyricon.’
Taking cues from Gibbon, we graft decline onto fall and use it as a stick to beat ourselves. Indeed, a caning might help. Still, we should be cautious in drawing analogies between the classical world and our own. By reading back into history today’s milieu and preoccupations, we look into the past but see only ourselves…
She then quotes from a recent sermon given by the priest in her Tridentine-mass Catholic church:
“I have become increasingly convinced that we are now living in a pagan society. Our country is pagan. Our civilization is pagan. Pagan, not just secular. I used to think, Yes our society is very secular, but certainly we are not quite as bad as was the pagan world in the time before Christianity. Now I have to admit, yes we are that bad.”
And raises an important quibble with it:
…Steeped in gods, the pagan world was deeply religious. Religion was a matter of ritual, not dogma, and proper worship was crucial to the wellbeing of both the state and individual households. Ethics remained the province of philosophers and moralists, who defended the sense of duty – pietas – at the core of what it meant to be Roman. Men might wonder about the nature of the gods, or to what extent they concerned themselves with humanity. But there was no question that they existed. They were significant powers on whom men depended. The pagan temperament was not nihilist.
By contrast, modern man has put God out of mind. Modernity declared him dead or missing some time ago, an outdated hypothesis. Jesuit theologian John Courtney Murray identified the mark of modernity as “the will to atheism.” If God is present in the midst of men, then man is obliged to recognize himself as a being made by God with a distinct essence, nature, and destiny. He is not free to fashion himself ex nihilo according to his own wishes.
What is the advancing transgender phenomenon if not an extreme exercise in self-design? What we face today is not paganism. It is the desolate freedom of the nihilist…
Hence the “radical distance.”
This is a good point, but is it really correct? She draws attention to the modern era’s “will to atheism.” Yet what I see in modern leftism – now, not in Karl Marx’s time – is a resurgence of what you might call the “will to religion.” The need for belief is, after all, a constant in the human condition. The left is far along in creating a new official pantheon of gods and goddesses. Among them are the ruling deity (currently Obama Optimus), the powerful god Diversity (and its attendant furies Islamophobia, Homophobia, Racism, and Sexism), the goddess Gaia (lady of global warming and climate change), and other lesser supernatural beings (like Fortuna, patroness of those idiots who chose to fund the nanny state by playing the lottery). The left’s clerisy stresses the importance of ritual – politically correct words (“Say it this way and only this way”) and special devotional sacrifices (taxes rendered and freedoms foregone). And there is the persecution of unbelievers, especially Christians, which goes forward with increasing enthusiasm. Salve, citizen. All this seems very Roman to me.
I’ll agree there are differences between now and then. Those old Romans were never deliberately self-destructive and never anti-military. They never took the side of Rome’s enemies. Another difference lies in technology. While Roman times were marked by ubiquitous slavery, our times are characterized by ubiquitous machines, by electronic devices and – increasingly – by robots. Yet functionally you could argue this is all the same. Sedan chair, Tesla, different tech, same end.
There are many, many similarities. Among them are the corrosive effects of a major military victory and a rapid run-up in wealth (ours after World War II, their after the Punic Wars), the progressive crumbling of the pillars of self-government, rising corruption, the role of personal ambition in subverting the republic, the shift in politics from philosophical-ideological to personal-factional (leading to the death of politics), barbarian invasions (aka uncontrolled immigration), bread and circuses (welfare and mass entertainment), and the related penchant for viewing violence (virtual now vice actual then).
So, on balance, I still think there is value in reading those old Romans, from Tacitus to Marcus Aurelius, and their chroniclers, from Edward Gibbon to Tom Holland. I guess I’m more with Mrs Mullarkey’s priest than with her. Therefore I also see value in re-reading those portions of the New Testament wherein the apostles describe the Roman World – its failings, its contradictions, its dangers. In that at least I’m confident columnist Mullarkey and I will agree, given the motto with which she ends her article:
Spera in Deo.
Hope in God
Big G, not little g. Certainly not Obama Optimus, Diversity, or Gaia.
Copyright 2016 Tacitus
Tacitus Speaks: Showing How It’s Done
The Trump campaign received a much-needed boost Tuesday night. Here’s a report from the American Spectator:
“Did you work on that a long time?” That Reaganesque rejoinder from Mike Pence – one of many – effectively put Tim Kaine in his place during a debate that exposed the depths of the Hillary campaign’s demagogic cheapness.
Pence looked like a statesman; Kaine, rudely interrupting him for much of the debate, looked like a clumsy hatchet man and shameless party hack.
Kaine’s labored lines and sweaty lunges contrasted embarrassingly with Pence’s smooth and substantive debate performance. Pence deftly ignored much of Kaine’s immature invective and directed the audience’s attention to Hillary’s failed record and the clear themes of the Trump campaign.
Kaine devoted most of his energy to rattling off his opposition research, much of it too insiderish and transparently canned to impress anyone. Pence, speaking much more slowly and authoritatively, looked directly at the camera (something Kaine never did) and reiterated basic points about Hillary’s tax-and-spend policies and feckless foreign policy. That proved more effective than any point-by-point rebuttal could have. Pence deftly answered the litany of accusations against Trump by noting that Kaine was indulging in the very “insult-driven campaign” he pretended to find so shocking in Trump.
Both men pretty much ignored the debate moderator. She dutifully tried to tilt the debate in the Democrat’s favor but Mr Kaine’s clumsy, interrupting style negated that.
Of course, insufferable pundits, who last week were whining about Trump “taking the bait,” criticized Pence for “not defending Trump” by refusing to take Kaine’s bait. It was a wise choice by Pence, who commanded the debate through his calm re-directing of it back to serious issues. Even the moderator, who never asked Kaine any pointed questions, found his off-topic trivialities and obsession with Trump’s tax returns tiresome enough to correct him at one point and say: “The question was about Aleppo, Senator.”
In the first presidential debate, Mr Trump’s error was in going for the bait laid out via Mrs Clinton’s needling of him. Kaine tried to replicate that tactic and Pence showed how to handle it.
Kaine, stuffed with weeks of memorized cheap shots, began to short-circuit a bit under such corrections and Pence’s steady presence. While an irritated-looking Kaine was trying to catch his breath after one of his extended attacks on Trump, a cool Pence simply noted that Hillary had called much of the country a “basket of deplorables.” So low was Kaine that he claimed Trump cared more about his tax returns than the troops – a slur so over-the-top that all Pence had to do was shake his head sadly.
The vice presidential debate provided a national audience with their first real look at Mr Kaine. Given Hillary’s age and obvious ill-health, Kaine might well become President. After Tuesday people won’t be reassured by that prospect.
The press purrs over Kaine as a “man of faith” and a model of decency. In this debate, he came off as a lying lawyer and soulless pol, willing to sell off his scruples for the sake of a seat at Hillary’s table. He said that his Catholic faith would have no relevance to his public life, even as he touted it as proof of his character. Talk about faith without works.
Typical of his opportunistic mischaracterizations, he said that the Church opposes the death penalty (it never officially has), said that he agrees with that position, and then said that he proceeded to execute a bunch of people as former governor of Virginia, because, after all, he is just an instrument in the hands of the people and he must enforce the laws they want. No sooner had he said that than he was extolling Roe v. Wade, which took the issue of abortion away from the people. Would he enforce their will on that issue? Not a chance.
Pence made him even more uncomfortable by pointing out gently that as Hillary’s flak his supposedly fervent faith now coexists with a stance in favor of partial-birth abortion and taxpayer-financed abortions. So much for Kaine’s touchy-feely Seamless Garment-style Catholicism. He is more worried about cops frisking criminals than abortionists engaging in near-infanticide.
Pence, who talked about adoption as an alternative to abortion and thoughtfully discussed the sanctity of life, made Kaine’s partisan gibbering look as ignoble as it is.
During several exchanges, Pence turned what Kaine and Hillary consider strengths into weaknesses. After Kaine launched into a windy attack on Putin and a tendentious description of Trump’s admiration for him, Pence, instead of engaging his lies, simply drew attention to Hillary’s disastrously ineffective “reset” with Putin. Trump didn’t turn him into a powerful world leader; she and Obama did.
In debates, less is more, as Pence showed. Against a flailing, gabbing, demagogic opponent, it is better to step back and let the audience see that the person who talks the most often says the least. Come Sunday, Trump would do well to imitate his running mate.
Yes. If he can. The Donald is intuitive and mercurial, Mike Pence is steady and sensible. It is a good pairing, although after Tuesday night’s performance some are wishing the roles were reversed. But no. We need a change agent as President, while Trump needs a solid deputy.
Mr Pence’s clear win was signaled, backhandedly of course, by the Washington Post in their summation of the debate. Near the end of their article they called for an end to Vice Presidential debates. They wouldn’t have done that if Kaine had won or at least could be spun as a winner.
So there. The much-needed boost. Mr Trump was damaged by first debate and allowed himself to be driven off-message afterward. It doesn’t matter if that was a media-induced ambush and a media-enhanced Hillary win. Polls follow conventional wisdom. People like to identify with whoever they think is winning. Trump profited from this dynamic during the primaries and is suffering from it now. The Real Clear Politics average of polls now stands at Clinton +3.7, with Trump trending negative in the key swing states. Apply a three point margin of error, and – were the election held today – Clinton would score something between a very narrow win and a substantial victory. Under those circumstances even a small boost is welcome.
Coming are two more presidential debates. Probably there will be more October Surprises. A hurricane looks set to at least brush the east coast with all the hysteria attendant thereto. Who knows what else will happen.
Meanwhile Hillary remains Hillary. She lies reflexively. Her latest is “I don’t recall joking about droning Julian Assange” – this in response to a leaked email recounting how she suggested in a meeting that the pesky head of Wikileaks be terminated from above. Her denial is a double deception. First there’s the formulaic dodge about hazy memory – a trick she used 27 times during her softball FBI interview, for example. Then there’s the “joked” part. The leaked email makes it clear she wasn’t joking. She’s deadly serious about people who get in her way. Maybe that has something to do with why Mr Assange abruptly cancelled his planned announcement on Tuesday of what we were led to believe would be devastating new data on Hillary’s misdeeds. He’s been intimidated.
Me, I’m worried about Mr Trump’s prospects. I don’t like him being behind in the race with only a month left until the election.
Copyright 2016 Tacitus
Tactus speaks: The Delicate Matter of Reinforcing Failure
Of the great Democrat entitlement programs, the most recent – Obamacare – is by far the least popular and has been by far the quickest to fail. I’ll start the tale with this from Powerline:
In 2013, millions of Americans received notices informing them that their existing health insurance plan would disappear once Obamacare’s major provisions took effect. President Obama’s “if you like your healthcare plan you can keep your healthcare plan” mantra was exposed as a lie.
In response, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services agreed [i.e., were ordered by the White House] to ignore the requirements of Obamacare and allow people to keep their prior coverage. Insurers could permit individuals who purchased coverage after the law’s enactment but before October 2013 to keep their plan for a few more months (later extended until December 2017).
The Administration made the retroactive change to the Affordable Care Act in order to dampen the political heat caused by the law’s initial implementation. This led to “unintended consequences.”
As Christopher Jacob of the Federalist explains, this move, in addition to being unlawful, placed insurers in an untenable financial position. Healthy individuals kept their existing plans and stayed out of the Obamacare risk pool, while sicker individuals signed up for Obamacare in drove. Because insurers hadn’t anticipated the Obama Administration’s rule change that produced this phenomenon, they had substantially under-priced their Obamacare products.
How bad is the problem? This piece of local news out of Minneapolis gives you some sense for that:
Minnesota’s top health insurance regulator says the state’s individual market is in “an emergency situation” amid big rate increases for next year.
Department of Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman said Friday that the five companies offering plans through the state’s exchange or directly to consumers were prepared to leave the market for 2017. He said big rate increases were the tradeoff to convince all but one company to remain for now.
Rate increases finalized this week range from a 50% average hike for HealthPartners plans to a 67% jump on average on Ucare.
Yikes. Bear in mind this isn’t just what the insurance companies asked for, it’s what the government regulators – Democrats all – approved. But nobody can afford that kind of price inflation. So the government will have to kick in more taxpayer-funded subsidies, right?
Back to Powerline:
To induce insurers to maintain existing plans, CMS stated that “the risk corridor program should help ameliorate unanticipated changes in premium revenue” and that it “intend[s] to explore ways to modify the risk corridor program final rules to provide additional assistance” to insurers. As Jacobs puts it:
“The Administration conjured a political bailout. It pledged not to enforce the law [requiring cancellation of polices], so people could keep their plans, and President Obama could get off the hook for misleading the American people. This necessitated a financial bailout through risk corridors.”
The risk corridor money has proved to be grossly inadequate to cover the losses of insurers. Several health plans have sued the US government to collect the shortfall. The Justice Department then signaled its willingness to settle the claims and, indeed, to offer payments to approximately 175 health plans selling coverage on [Obamacare] marketplaces. The money would come from the obscure source known as the Judgment Fund.
This is exactly the way the Obamaites paid for the illegal ransoms to Iran. They got away with that one.
In this way, the recent congressional ban on the use of HHS money to pay the insurers would be avoided. The Obama Administration would, in effect, collude with the insurers by rolling over in lawsuits (and encouraging additional lawsuits in which to roll over) in order to bail out insurers. This raises the following question, posed by Jacobs:
“Why should the executive branch be allowed to break the law [which didn’t allow the continuation of non-Obamacare compliant plans]… and then force… taxpayers to pay the tab for the financial consequences of that lawbreaking?”
Why indeed? Yet… Hot Air provides the latest twist in the story:
The Obama Administration is moving to dismiss lawsuits filed by insurers under a provision of Obamacare known as risk corridors. That’s a big change from just a few days ago when the Administration seemed to be signaling it would settle the lawsuits as a way to bail out insurers without having to go to Congress for funding…
The fact that this bailout would be an unconstitutional executive brach disbursement of unappropriated (and indeed explicitly forbidden) federal funds is clearly no deterrent to them – witness the Iran payoff. So what gives? Hot Air provides a little more:
The document filed to dismiss the lawsuits states, “Under Moda’s [one of the insurers suing the government] interpretation, HHS would be the uncapped insurer of the insurance industry itself.” The documents adds, “Congress did not intend that result.”
Again, you can dismiss the pious reference to congressional intent. But were the Obamaites worried about creating an open-ended (“uncapped”) liability for the federal government? I doubt it. We’re not talking about fiscal conservatives here, comrade. It’s not like they would be spending their personal money, and it’s not like they are deficit-adverse. As always with them, I think the balk on the Judgement Fund bailout represents a political calculation. To move forward with this would create a firestorm just before the presidential election. Obamacare is already a net-negative for Democrats. They need to keep it out of the news, or at least off the headlines, until after the election.
You doubt the political toxicity of the Affordable Care Act? Then answer me this: How many times in recent months has candidate Hillary mentioned Obamacare? That would be zero.
Surprisingly, that’s not true of aspiring First Husband Bill. Powerline has that part:
Bill Clinton ripped Obamacare during a campaign rally for his wife in Michigan [Monday]. Calling Obamacare, “a crazy system” and “the craziest thing in the world,” the former President said “it doesn’t many any sense; the insurance model doesn’t work here.”
Clinton went on to say that Obamacare “works fine” for people with “modest” incomes or who are eligible for government subsidies, but “the people that are getting killed in this deal are small business people and individuals who make just a little too much to get any of these subsidies.” He added:
“You’ve got this crazy system where all of a sudden 25 million more people have health care and then the people are out there busting it, sometimes 60 hours a week, wind up with their premiums doubled and their coverage cut in half.”
Now he tells us! Why?
Donald Trump has been usually competitive for a Republican nominee in Michigan. By expressing sympathy for “the people out there busting it,” and by criticizing an unpopular program, Bill Clinton hopes to help his wife with lower-middle class voters in this state.
But Slick Willy is also expressing the view held by most leftists. They see Obamacare as a stop along the way to a system that provides “free” insurance for everyone – the single payer [i.e., full socialist] system.
Or he was just off-message. That happens from time to time with Bill.
But do they think single-payer sells well with voters? Nah. A state-level single-payer initiative is on the ballot this November in Colorado. It proposes to double both the state budget and state income taxes. Even so the numbers don’t add up – it will immediately start running deep into the red. The ballot measure is expected to fail badly. Democrats are avoiding it like the plague.
For the left, socialist healthcare is a matter of not no, but not now. Later. As in next year, when they presume Mrs Clinton will be President and they will have improved their position in Congress. Then they’ll have to deal with the issue, one way or another. Even the rigorously on-message New York Times admits that Obamacare will have to “change to survive.” For the left that means facing the delicate task of convincing the American people that the solution to the failure of government-run healthcare is even more comprehensively government-run healthcare.
Don’t laugh. Their whole platform for this election is centered on reinforcing failure.
Copyright 2016 Tacitus
Tacitus on Article 5
Is There Another Way?
Some of you know a great deal more about this subject that I do, but I’ll give it a try using this article from the American Thinker:
Regardless of the outcome of the 2016 presidential election, our republic needs a powerful redress against the unconstitutional usurpation of power by the federal government, particularly by the Supreme Court and President. Restoring federalism is the answer to every significant problem in our republic because federalism produces the marketplace of governments that rewards states with honest, efficient, and unobtrusive public administrations while allowing wealth and voters the option of leaving leftist nanny states.
Federalism is mostly honored in the breach these days. But could the founders’ concept of limited government be restored?
While Republicans at the federal level ought to embrace this agenda, the narcotic of federal government power and [monetary] printing presses makes it hard for any national party in Washington to actually fight Washington. The answer is to enact constitutional amendments that structurally change the balance of power between state governments and the federal government.
State legislatures on their own have the power to make these changes because, although no amendment to the US Constitution can be enacted without the consent of three-quarters of the state legislatures, these very states can, on their own, both propose and ratify constitutional amendments.
Here the author refers to the Article V process wherein the Constitution can be amended either at the initiative of Congress or through a convention of the states. In either case ratification of amendments is the purview of the states.
Convening a constitutional convention would require 34 state legislatures, or two-thirds of the states. Republican state legislatures, if they wished to convene a convention, would be close to that right now, since there are 31 state legislatures that have both chambers controlled by Republicans (I count unicameral Nebraska in that total). We are 3 short of the number required to convene a convention.
The 2018 midterm elections could change that if there is the sort of Republican victory that took place in 2010 and 2014. A total of 7 states – Colorado, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Minnesota, New Mexico, and Washington – currently have GOP control of one chamber and close to a majority in the opposite chamber…
Put another way, there are 7383 state legislative seats in America. A shift of 31 seats, or less than one-half of 1% of seats, could give Republicans in state legislatures the power to convene a constitutional convention and to ratify amendments proposed at that convention…
This assumes no backsliding in favor of Democrats at the state legislature level in 2016, and it assumes that Republican-controlled legislatures would all support a constitutional convention. Both are possible. Neither is a given.
Currently, 29 states are on record as supporting a new constitutional convention.
As to the agenda for such a conclave…
The amendments proposed ought to narrowly focus on the imbalance of state and federal power. One advantage to this approach is that all state legislators would find some appeal in such amendments…
First, restore the state legislatures the power to elect members of the US Senate and add a power for state legislatures to recall a Senator during the term of office.
What’s being proposed here is the repeal of the 17th Amendment, returning the process for selecting US Senators to what it was prior to 1913.
As to the concept of recall, we have that here in Colorado. It was exercised with great success (and satisfaction) after Democrats in the state legislature flouted the will of the people by passing Obamaite gun control laws a few years ago.
Overall this proposed amendment would make the US Senate more accountable to the states rather than, as it is now, primarily a creature of the national political parties.
Second, provide that a resolution by three-fifths of the state legislatures of the several states could invalidate any federal judicial, legislative, or executive action, and could remove any federal official responsible for that action from office.
This is what is known as “nullification,” a concept which has a long history going back to at least Andrew Jackson’s time. The twist here is that, rather than granting individual states the power to nullify federal actions they don’t like, this proposed amendment would give that authority to the states acting in concert. This more consistent with the concepts of “one people, united” and “one nation, indivisible.”
The part about “remove any federal official” would give new life to the moribund (at the DC level) mechanism of impeachment.
Third, limit the terms of all federal judges to ten years.
Obviously this would make the judiciary more responsive to the people acting through their elected legislative representatives.
These would be reasonable, clear, and vital changes – and these amendments would be revolutionary. Americans, by the time of the 2018 midterm elections, may well be ready for this sort of peaceful and constitutional revolution.
We might be.
A constitutional convention has the virtue of providing an end-around to the unsatisfactory presidential nomination process and the increasingly rigged presidential election process. It’s an end-around of the Washington establishment as a whole. By restoring federalism we would give the states much more scope for going their own ways (for better or for worse) while also ensuring greater accountability of the government to the people. You know, like in a republic.
Near as I can tell, a lot of the going-in energy toward convening a constitutional convention was aimed at passing a federal balanced budget amendment. Obviously that’s not what is being suggested above. Good thing, since California already has a balanced budget requirement and it hasn’t stopped that state’s legislators from spending themselves silly. Where there’s a will (and Democrats in the majority) there’s a way.
Note that the American Thinker piece refers several times to “Republicans” carrying this concept forward. That’s because it is poison to Democrats. Any serious move in this direction will draw the full power of the clerisy in opposition. They will fight tooth and nail, employing shrill propaganda with a heavy larding of outright lies. That, and any sort of chicanery they think they can get away with.
It takes three-fourths of the states to ratify a constitutional amendment. That leaves plenty of scope for Democrat-controlled states to kill or water down any serious reform. It’s really very hard to change our Constitution, and purposely so.
With regard to federalism, I need to point out that the 10th Amendment already covers that base:
“The powers not designated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.”
So why is the federal leviathan so dominant relative to the states? In a word, money. The states have been systematically bribed with, then cowed by the threatened taking away of federal dollars. This is the strongest lever held by Washington. I don’t see that changing.
You could argue that we already have a good Constitution, perfectly sufficient to our present times. What has gone wrong is that the US Constitution has been incrementally ignored and thus grossly perverted.
A constitutional convention would represent big-time bucking of the trend we are now seeing toward ever bigger and ever less accountable government. Some might say that we have the government we deserve right now. That we the people want to be ruled and not govern ourselves. That we want to be promised free stuff – all sorts of wonderful things – and are content when given trash. If anything, the current trend is toward a de facto Soviet-style constitution wherein all things are promised and what’s actually given comes as a gift from the ruling class. Furthermore, we’ve internalized low expectations for governance. To have a republic you have to have a republican mindset. Do we? Or more precisely, do three-fourths of the state legislatures?
Dunno. Still, this is worth a spin. Count me as a supporter.
Copyright 2016 Tacitus
Tacitus on STEM
Why are most inventors men?
That’s an interesting question. Here’s what PBS thinks the answer is:
For 226 years men led the US Patent and Trademark Office, the agency that fosters American innovation and entrepreneurship. Enter Michelle Lee, the agency’s first female leader.
Michelle Lee is not only the first woman to head the Patent Office but she’s also an American of East Asian descent. In case you haven’t noticed Asians are overrepresented in the tech field. PBS didn’t notice that point, which is germane to what follows.
A Silicon Valley native who built a radio with her father in the family living room, Lee grew up with female classmates who thrived in math and science.
But there were fewer females in her computer science and electrical engineering classes at the Massachusetts Institute for Technology and even fewer as she went on to conduct lab research for Hewlett-Packard. Today, despite occupying half the nation’s jobs, women hold fewer than a quarter of jobs in science, technology, engineering and math, she said.
Nominated by President Barack Obama in 2014 to lead the nation’s patent and trademark agency, part of Lee’s mission was to change that, to involve more women and plug leaks in the nation’s innovation pipeline. Her strategy: Start early, and “spark in our children the desire to invent and create.”
“We can’t afford to leave inventors behind,” Lee told the NewsHour. “You never know who’s going to come up with that next big idea.”
Today, women hold less than one out of five STEM-related patents, and it’s been slow growth just to make it that far. Still, that’s a huge rise since 1977 when women were awarded only 3% of all patents. By 1996, that figure had only gone up 10 percentage points…
Ah… Because disparate impact.
What feeds this disparity?
[Jessica Milli, who did a study on this subject,] floated some possibilities. Men still outnumber women in STEM research, which means women have smaller, more limited networks they can turn to for advice, she said. Those networks can also make the difference in access to venture capital to usher an idea into reality…
So clearly we need more government-mandated diversity.
In 2011, in a sweeping set of patent reforms, Congress passed the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act. The new law was designed in part to support more women and people of color in innovation and create a system that monitors diversity if these goals are met.
What about Muslim inventors? LGBTwhatevers? Clearly this law needs updating or an extra-legislative regulatory re-write. Oh, and perhaps the Patent Office should somehow follow the lead of higher education and discriminate against Asian applicants.
Apparently not everybody has gotten with the program…
But during public comment, many people rejected mandatory surveys on gender, race and ethnicity and instead “strongly urged the USPTO to conduct surveys only on a voluntary basis out of privacy concerns,” according to a September 2015 report from the patent office. Concern remained that the resulting data would be skewed and inaccurate if applicants voluntarily submitted this information.
Historically, the patent office has not asked for an applicant’s gender or race, Lee said, but based on research so far, she concedes that diversity data for applicants “are not as good as they could be.”
The absence of meaningful diversity data perplexed Navrina Singh, who oversees a team that identifies emerging technologies and markets for telecommunications company, Qualcomm, in San Diego. “You can’t solve for something if you don’t know what the causes are,” she said…
If people want to see more female inventors and entrepreneurs, [Julie] Samuels [of the pressure group Tech NYC] said it’s crucial to share those stories and empower more women to build up their own ideas, inventions and companies.
“We have some work to do. It’s not just women. It’s diversity in all shapes and forms,” Samuels said. “We have to undo decades of a broken system.”
OK, let’s dissect this.
First, I think we should acknowledge the role of “the patriarchy” in discouraging female participation in all sorts of traditionally male fields of endeavor. But this is more an historical than a current factor. Nowadays the tendency is to overcompensate.
The second question I think we should ask what exactly is broken here. Are the quantity of new patents declining? Nope. They’ve roughly doubled in number over the past 15 years. So what are we fixing?
Third, could there be innate differences between men and women that manifest themselves in the area of inventions? Leftists never want to go there but I think we need to.
Gender differences extend beyond physical dimorphism. Males have a greater attraction to things mechanical, writ large. There is, of course, individual variation (in my family Miz Fixit is my good wife – it sure isn’t me). Still, we’re talking about group averages here. Males exhibit greater variance in intelligence – higher highs, lower lows – than do females. In terms of behavior and achievement men are disproportionately represented in best and worst of the human race. There are far more males than females among our top thinkers and the most reprehensible thugs. Maybe, just maybe, this has something to do with the five-fold gender difference in STEM-related patents.
Why these psychological differences? Testosterone, I suspect. Male willingness to take risks, for sure. It’s a hard-wired survival mechanism, probably – tied to the genders’ reproductive roles.
The left is all about denying reality in favor of ideology, so their answer to this non-problem is more government affirmative action – quotas and other thumb-on-the-scales measures. This might generate more patents put forward by women. But it will also contribute to the already-extant problem of male dropouts across academia and, therefore, in technical fields requiring academic preparation. Yep, let’s discourage those most naturally inclined toward innovation from, you know, innovating. Let’s marginalized boys further so that more of them have nothing better to do with all that testosterone than acquire a stolen pistol and go on a crime spree.
What I see here is further politicization of the sciences, something that’s already becoming a big problem. T’s not just in climatology anymore.
How about we try simple equal opportunity, then let the patents fall as they may?
Copyright 2016 Tacitus