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Monday, November 30, 2015

Cruising the Web

Obamacare is, as Shikha Dalmia in The Week writes, "quietly unraveling." If insurance companies bow out of participating in the Obamacare exchanges, how can the program continue? The economics that critics warned about are all coming to pass. Companies can not make money if they're forced to give insurance to everyone, but the predicted numbers of healthy enrollees are just not signing up. It doesn't take an economics major to realize that something has got to give. Last week, UnitedHealthcare, the largest insurer in the country and a huge ally of the Obama administration, said that it may have to quite the exchanges next year because it's losing too much money. It lost $425 million last year mostly due to Obamacare. Other commercial insurance companies are seeing similar losses and jacking up their premiums isn't going to fix their problem. Non-profit companies are seeing similar problems.
For-profit companies that have shareholders breathing down their necks don't have much latitude to absorb losses. But even companies that don't face similar profit-maximizing pressures can't escape the basic dilemma confronting the industry. For example, state filings of the non-profit Blue Cross Blue Shield show that the company barely broke even in the first half of 2015. In Texas last year, BCBS collected $2.1 billion in premiums and paid out $2.5 billion in claims. If ObamaCare's condition worsens, such companies will have to scale back their participation too.

And ObamaCare's condition will worsen. Why? Because not only are far fewer patients enrolling in the exchanges than projected, but those signing up are too old or sick for anything resembling a balanced risk pool.
And the fault lies, not in the stars, but in the way Obamacare was structured from the beginning.
The reason for this pathetic take-up rate is that the lavish benefits — in-vitro fertilization for 50-year-old women, for example — that ObamaCare mandated for qualifying plans have backfired. This mandate was intended to make sure that the young and healthy would purchase full — not bare-bones, catastrophic — coverage so that they would offset the cost of sicker patients. Instead, it has forced companies to jack up rates so much that only those eligible for full subsidies (the relatively poor) or the sick find it worth their while to buy coverage. The relatively young and healthy are opting to pay the penalty and "go naked." This, in turn, is forcing insurers to raise prices even more, which is causing more healthy people to drop out, unleashing the dreaded adverse selection spiral.
The insurance companies hoped that the government would bail them out, but Congress blocked that in 2014 by adding a rider to the budget back then forbidding the government from bailing out the insurance companies in the so-called risk-corridor programs. Marco Rubio was the one who pushed that rider onto the budget package so deserves some of the credit for hastening the death spiral of the entire program. Ed Morrissey isn't quite ready to celebrate the end of Obamacare. Who knows what extralegal actions the Obama administration will take to shovel money to insurers to keep them in business despite the actual law? And who can predict what a Hillary Clinton administration would try to do? But the spiral is continuing in a downward path because the program was always unworkable. Ed Morrissey is willing to give Rubio some of the credit.
But Rubio should get credit, at the very least, for pushing a common-sense and utterly necessary firewall to protect taxpayers from a massive and perpetual health-insurance bailout. The risk corridor program was supposed to last three years while insurers found the sweet spot on premium pricing; it lasted two. The massive payments that would have gone out in the third year without the budget neutrality requirement show that this program would never have come to an end. The fantasy of co-ops providing cheaper insurance was exposed as just a government-subsidized bait-and-switch scheme. Rubio’s intervention made it clear that ObamaCare isn’t a system just going through some learning-curve bumps in the road, but a fundamentally flawed and dishonest scheme that would have hoodwinked taxpayers on costs for decades.

If that leads to ObamaCare’s repeal and replacement with a rational, market-based reform, then Rubio will deserve credit for the win. But let’s win first before handing out the trophies.
Morrissey also links to a report by Timothy Carney of just how the administration is trying to use government funds to bail out the insurers.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) had announced in October that insurers losses for 2014 entitled them to $2.87 billion in bailout payments through "risk corridors." The problem is that super-profitable insurers did not pay nearly that much into the bailout fund.

In late 2014, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., inserted into the so-called Cromnibus spending bill a provision that prohibited CMS from paying out more in risk corridor payments than it takes in. Profitable insurers — not taxpayers — must subsidize their less profitable peers.

Since insurers' excess losses in 2014 outweighed their excess profits by an 8-to-1 margin, each money-losing insurer will get only one eighth of the bailout money it would otherwise recoup.
So now the administration wants to take money from the 2015 and 2016 risk corridor payments to bail out those companies that are failing this year. Why not rob from the future to prevent embarrassing failures in an upcoming election year? And, as Carney points out, how convenient that the head of CMS is a former executive at United Healthcare.
Slavitt's appointment and management of bailout money for UHC clearly clashes with Obama's much ballyhooed ethics rules, which require appointees to swear: "I will not for a period of 2 years from the date of my appointment participate in any particular matter involving specific parties that is directly and substantially related to my former employer…" In acknowledgement of this conflict of interest, Obama issued an ethics waiver for Slavitt.

Meanwhile, the insurance lobbyist leading the industry's push for more Obamacare bailout money is Marilyn Tavenner, Obama's previous chief of CMS, now head of America's Health Insurance Plans. AHIP says risk corridors aren't the group's top focus, but Tavenner is speaking out on it.

In summary: Tavenner helped build the risk corridor program, and then went to the industry that would get the money. Slavitt left the insurer with the biggest losses, and now is the government official promising to bail out his former employer.

Rubio's provision, which requires the risk corridor program to be deficit neutral, expires along with the current government funding law on December 11. The Obamacare insiders, led by Slavitt and Tavenner, will fight to free up their bailouts and put the taxpayers on the hook for their losses caused by the law they supported.
It's crony capitalism all the way down.

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With the latest brouhaha over Trump's nasty impersonation of NYT reporter's Serge Kovaleski's disability, we're being told, once again, that all of us just are so stupid as to have misunderstood what Trump was saying. He tells us that he had no idea about this reporter's disability and hasn't met him despite clear evidence that the reporter had interviewed him and met him quite a few times. But we are just being too blinded by bias to understand what The Donald was saying. As Larry Thornberry points out, our misunderstanding of the brilliance that is Trump has happened over and over again. He'll say something outrageous. People will get outraged. Trump will tell us he didn't mean what he clearly meant.
After the totally deserved storm of criticism of this crude and juvenile demonstration, once again comes the Donald to say that what we saw and heard was not what we saw and heard. Just as “Look at that face” had nothing to do with La Fiorina’s looks, imitating a disabled person’s movements was not mocking the man’s disability. Right, Donald.
Add in his remarks about McCain, Megyn Kelly, or Ben Carson and a whole host of other remarks and tweets or retweets that he just blamed on an intern despite not allowing interns to have access to his Twitter account. They're all misunderstandings. And it doesn't seem to make a difference to the quarter to a third of the GOP electorate being polled who say they prefer Trump. They like him because he says tough things and because he riles up more reasonable political observers. But that isn't a reason to vote for someone for president. Give him a radio show if that's what you're looking for. As Thornberrgy writes,
Seeing through the shortcomings of the Washington establishment is no challenge. The guy who is daily on the third barstool from the left can do it without breaking a sweat or missing a round. But firmly grasping the obvious and harrumphing about it is not a qualification for high office. There must be more. A lot more. It’s called substance. In the case of the Donald, we’re waiting to see what that more might be (or not).
But for too many people, bombast seems sufficient to gain their support.

Newsbusters reminds us of when the Obama campaign mocked John McCain in an ad for not using a computer or sending email when it turns out that he didn't use a computer due to his war injuries making it too painful for him to type. There wasn't anything like the outrage we see how for Trump's brutish mocking of Kovaleski's disability. Trump is a boor who is now lying about what he meant when he said "you ought to see the guy" and then made gestures to imitate the reporter's disability. But the Obama campaign was also insensitive, but of course the media weren't going to criticize him for that back in 2008. They probably wouldn't even say anything about it today.

Charles C. W. Cooke argues that the whole back-and-forth about whether or not thousands of Muslims in Jersey City after 9/11 is an example of how Trumpism operates in an ugly feedback loop.
This affair serves as the perfect illustration of the ugly manner in which the Trump phenomenon now works. That there is no evidence of “thousands” of American Muslims cheering 9/11 from New Jersey is, frankly, immaterial. Why? Well, because Trump is playing a character on TV, and his script includes no room for error. By the rules he has set out for himself, whatever Trump says he is, he must be. As such, he can’t possibly have misremembered what happened after 9/11 — as might any human being — because he has the World’s Greatest Memory, and the guy with the World’s Greatest Memory doesn’t misremember.

This rule applies consistently. If Trump says he’s a conservative – despite holding positions that usually make conservatives shriek – then he’s a conservative. If that requires redefining conservatism, so be it. If he says he wasn’t mocking a journalist whom he was quite obviously mocking, then he wasn’t mocking that journalist. If that requires his admirers to suspend disbelief beyond all possible limits, then so be it. And if he says that he saw something of which there really is no evidence, then he must have seen it. Worse still: If you like him, then you must have seen it too.

In this late stage, Trump’s whole campaign has become a ghastly feedback loop from which there is no hope of escape. Typically, we do not accept “why wouldn’t it have happened?” as much of an argument for anything. Customarily, we would privilege the ancient principle of ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat (the burden of proof is on the one who declares, not on one who denies) above an appeal to the mob. Not here, though. There’s a SuperTrump to prop up. If 2+2 has to equal 5 to annoy Chuck Todd or to stick one in the eye of the politically correct, then 2+2 is 5.

Peter Wehner rightly excoriates President Obama's hypocrisy in attacking critics from not wanting to bring in refugees that his own administration has admitted can't be vetted.
In 2012 Mr. Obama rebuffed plans to arm Syrian rebels despite the fact that his former secretaries of defense and state, his C.I.A. director and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff supported them. He repeatedly insisted he would not put American soldiers in Syria or pursue a prolonged air campaign. He refused to declare safe havens or no-fly zones. And it was also in 2012 that Mr. Obama warned the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, that using chemical weapons would cross a “red line.” Yet when Mr. Assad did just that, Mr. Obama did nothing.

The president, perhaps fearful of offending the pro-Assad Iranian government with which he was trying to negotiate a nuclear arms deal, chose to sit by while a humanitarian catastrophe unfolded. As Walter Russell Mead wrote in The American Interest, “This crisis is in large part the direct consequence of President Obama’s decision to stand aside and watch Syria burn.” Some of us find it a bit nervy for the president to lecture the opposition party for heartlessness because cleaning up after his failure raises security concerns.
Obama refuses to work with the Republicans in Congress to come to a reasonable solution - to pause admitting the refugees until security can be assured. Perhaps he's worried that such security can never be assured. Instead he mounts his throne of self-righteousness and accuses the Republicans of fearing widows and orphans. As always, Obama would prefer to mischaracterize the motives of his opponents and then ridicule them. It is a far cry from the promises he made while campaigning in 2008 or in the speech that catapulted him into the public eye in 2004. His moral hypocrisy has triumphed over any good impulses he might have had.

Andrew McCarthy explains how concern over Syrian refugees ignores the fundamental question about how the refugees that are already in Europe are undermining the rule of law there and what should be done about this.
Unbound by any First Amendment, the French government exerts pressure on the media to suppress bad news. We do not hear much about the steady thrum of insurrection in the banlieues: the thousands of torched automobiles, the violence against police and other agents of the state, the pressure in Islamic enclaves to ignore the sovereignty of the Republic and conform to the rule of sharia.

What happens in France happens in Belgium. It happens in Sweden where much of Malmo, the third largest city, is controlled by Muslim immigrant gangs — emergency medical personnel attacked routinely enough that they will not respond to calls without police protection, and the police in turn unwilling to enter without back-up. Not long ago in Britain, a soldier was killed and nearly beheaded in broad daylight by jihadists known to the intelligence services; dozens of sharia courts now operate throughout the country, even as Muslim activists demand more accommodations. And it was in Germany, which green-lighted Europe’s ongoing influx of Muslim migrants, that Turkey’s Islamist strongman Recep Tayyip Erdogan proclaimed that pressuring Muslims to assimilate in their new Western countries is “a crime against humanity.”
And importing this sort of lawlessness becomes more likely through efforts to bring more and more to the United States as refugees. McCarthy argues that we should be vetting to see if applicants support the establishment of sharia in the United States. This is not vetting their religion.
Unlike the Judeo-Christian principles that informed America’s founding, classical sharia does not abide a separation of spiritual from civic and political life. Therefore, to rationalize on religious-liberty grounds our conscious avoidance of Islamist ideology is to miss its thoroughgoing anti-constitutionalism.

Sharia rejects the touchstone of American democracy: the belief that the people have a right to govern themselves and chart their own destiny. In sharia governance, the people are subjects not citizens, and they are powerless to question, much less to change, Allah’s law. Sharia systematically discriminates against women and non-Muslims. It is brutal in its treatment of apostates and homosexuals. It denies freedom of conscience, free expression, property rights, economic liberty, and due process of law. It licenses wars of aggression against infidels for the purpose of establishing sharia as the law of the land.

Sharia is also heavily favored by Muslims in majority-Muslim countries. Polling consistently tells us that upwards of two-thirds of Muslims in the countries from which we are accepting refugees believe sharia should be the governing system.

Thus, since we are vetting for terrorism rather than sharia-adherence, and since we know a significant number of Muslims are sharia-adherent, we are missing the certainty that we are importing an ever-larger population hostile to our society and our Constitution — a population that has been encouraged by influential Islamist scholars and leaders to form Muslim enclaves throughout the West.
We already take more refugees than any other country on earth. McCarthy reminds us that in 2014, the U.S. took in two-thirds of the world's refugees. The question is whether we should be taking in people who do not believe in our constitutional system and seek to undermine it. If sharia is what they want, let them settle into Muslim majority countries that also support sharia.

Jay Cost writes on the same subject of the low sorts of rhetoric coming from this president. His point is that such rhetoric is especially repugnant when it comes from the president rather than from a member of Congress.
But does it have to be this way? Should we not expect more from the presidential office? It is one thing for rhetoric like this to come from members of Congress, state and local party officials, or ideologues in the media. It is quite another for it to emanate from the executive branch, including from a former first lady and senator like Clinton, who is the party’s heir apparent. The president, after all, is the one officer in the government who may claim to speak for the whole nation. The office is also endowed with enormous power, which increasingly is quasi-legislative and can be exercised without checks and balances. Moreover, the pomp and circumstance that increasingly surround the office, while muted compared with what the Bourbon Kings enjoyed, has the effect of giving the president’s words special weight.

In other words, today’s executive branch is not the place for Manichean rhetoric—at least not in a nation that fancies itself a democratic republic.
The result is that, for four or eight years, one party will fume while they are out of power and then leap for the chance to gain the White House. The cycle will continue with just different players.
Yet our politics has trended in the opposite direction—toward concentration of power in the executive office, with the president increasingly becoming the focal point of all public affairs. Our nation began with a Whiggish view of the presidential office and a decided emphasis on Congress as the main agent in the government. But since the Progressive Era, we have drifted toward a view reminiscent of the Stuart monarchs that the Whigs dispatched in the Glorious Revolution: The president should be an all-powerful, unrivaled advocate of the general welfare.

Is it any wonder that our political discourse is so dysfunctional? A single person cannot possibly embody the nation as a whole, yet our expectation is for the president to do exactly that. Should we be surprised that presidents insist upon a singular view of America that aggravates and alienates the half of the country that does not share it?

The long-term effect of this style of executive leadership is that one side feels manipulated and alienated for four or eight years, then finally has a chance to “take back America.” This in turn leaves the other side feeling manipulated and alienated, and resolving to “take back America .  .  . again.” Is this what our politics has been reduced to—constant recriminations and mutual enmity?

Michael Walsh reminds us of Hillary Clinton's many lies. It's just a small portion of her lies.

Thhese are some astounding facts about violence this year in Chicago.
As of November 23, there had been 2703 shootings which resulted in 440 deaths year-to date in heavily gun-controlled Chicago.

That is an increase of approximately 400 shootings over the same time last year.
And remember that Chicago has some of the most stringent gun control measures in the nation in a city that has been under totally Democratic control for decades.

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Is Europe ready for the entire continent to become like Brussels?
For years outsiders have seen Belgium as a microcosm of Europe: first, in its expression of the dream that domestic differences can be dissolved in a federalist soup; subsequently as an example of north-south mistrust. Recent events provide a third prism: like other European countries, Belgium is floundering in the face of a domestic terror threat. Here, as elsewhere, budget cuts have left police and intelligence services short of resources, including Arabic-speakers. Security officials have a watch-list of some 800 potential or actual foreign fighters, but, like their counterparts in Britain and France, do not have anything like the manpower needed to monitor them all. More funds have lately been devoted to watching people returning from Syria, but at the expense of other intelligence concerns, such as counter-espionage.

Meanwhile, Belgium is dealing with the legacy of its failure to integrate large parts of its Muslim minority. Fairly or otherwise, Molenbeek has become a global byword for jihadism, but similar problems exist throughout the country: a clownish (and now defunct) Antwerp-based group called Sharia4Belgium inspired dozens of young Belgians to leave for Syria. Immigrants and their immediate descendants are far more likely to be unemployed than non-migrant Belgians; their children perform poorly at school. A higher share of the Belgian population has left to join the fight in Syria or Iraq than from any other EU country.
Is there any other place in Europe that has resolved these problems?

It sounds like the chief rabbi of Brussels has seen the future of Europe and also sees it following the sad path of his home city.
The chief rabbi of Brussels told an Israeli radio station Monday that there is no future for Jews in Europe, The Jerusalem Post reports.

Rabbi Avraham Gigi described the environment of fear in the Belgian capital since the city has been in lockdown following police terror raids across the country.

“There is a sense of fear in the streets, the Belgians understand that they too are targets of terror. Jews now pray in their homes [as opposed to at synagogues] and some of them are planning on emigrating,” Gigi said.

He explained, “Since Shabbat the city has been paralyzed. The synagogues were closed, something which has not happened since World War Two. People are praying alone or are holding small minyanim [small prayer groups] at private homes. Schools and theaters are closed as are most large stores and public events are not permitted. We live in fear and wait for instructions from the police or the government.”
Think of that. Jews survived in Europe after the Holocaust, but now are deciding that there is no future for them there any more.

Dan McLaughlin has a long analysis at Red State to disprove the thesis that there were millions, even 4 million, conservative voters who just didn't show up to vote in 2012. This storyline has given Republicans some measure of confidence going into 2016 that, with a more appealing candidate and without Obama on the ballot, they stand a better chance of picking up some of the swing states. If McLaughlin's argument is correct, Republicans can abandon that pipe dream.

Why is the Department of Defense wasting money to pay sports teams to pay tributes to the troops? Can't they do that on their own without soaking up taxpayer money while pretending to be patriotic supporters of our military?
Two Republican senators from Arizona -- Vietnam veteran John McCain and junior senator Jeff Flake -- recently released a report explaining the underside of stadium patriotism: For the past few years, the U.S. Department of Defense and the major sports leagues have embedded military-themed programs into the game-day experience, not for goodwill, not in support of the troops, but for money. McCain and Flake call it "paid patriotism" and say the DOD has spent at least $53 million of taxpayer money on at least 50 teams to stage these events, hoping to recruit new soldiers while duping fans into believing these gestures are voluntary expressions of teams' gratitude for returning soldiers. The two senators have drafted laws to make it stop. "It is time to allow major sports teams' legitimate tributes to our soldiers to shine with national pride rather than being cast under the pallor of marketing gimmicks paid for by American taxpayers," the 145-page report notes.
Sounds good to me.

538 had a Republican speechwriter write the perfect, poll-tested speech for an imaginary Republican presidential candidate so as to hit the right phrasing and buzzwords while angering the fewest number of voters. It's rather well-done.

I'll be looking to see if they do the same for a Democratic candidate.

The New York Post calls out the New York Times over how they cover stories of Palestinian terrorism. Somehow, it's different when terrorism is directed against Israelis.
On Sunday, a 20-year-old Israeli woman was stabbed to death, another Israeli was rammed by a car and attacked with a knife and a third was assaulted by a knife-wielding teen affiliated with the Islamic Jihad terror group.

All three assailants were killed in the course of their attacks.

But the headline to the Times’ story about Sunday’s attacks did away with cause and effect, muddled victim and aggressor: “1 Israeli, 3 Palestinians Killed in Attacks in West Bank.” The online headline was later changed, but the print headline Monday morning was equally obtuse: “West Bank Faces Spate of Assaults That Kill 4.” The “West Bank” faced nothing. It was Israelis who faced assaults.

This was par for the course — and in some ways, even mild — for how the Times has covered the so-called “stabbing intifada,” the recent spate of Arab-on-Jewish murder.
This is truly despicable journalism and represents the worst of the moral relativism that seems to permeate certain sections of our elites. It is the same sort of thinking that would cause John Kerry to talk about the Charlie Hebdo murders has having a certain "rationale" (though the word that first came to his lips was "legitimacy.") The New York Times might as well as write an editorial that it considers Palestinians who kill random Jews as having a legitimate rationale for their murders since they are as much victims as assailants.

This is the sort of lunacy we're used to from the United Nations which will ignore all other tyranny in the world, but rush to call out Israel for defending itself. Barry Shaw describes how this happens.
It may have escaped your notice but the world went completely insane in the last week of November.

In the wake of the Paris Islamic outrages that left over 130 killed and more than 300 badly injured, after the carnage in a Mali hotel, following the downing of Russian passenger and fighter planes over Sinai and Syria, and the never-ending mayhem in the Middle East with its consequential million plus refugees desperately trying to find shelter, the United Nations continued its blind hatred of Israel by passing another SIX resolutions condemning the Jewish state for all sort of alleged misdemeanors. No other country was sanctioned, only Israel.

The depravity of their anti-Israel decision making was encapsulated in one resolution that “Determines once more that the continued occupation of the Syrian Golan and its de facto annexation constitute a stumbling block in the way of achieving a just, comprehensive and lasting peace in the region.”

They are not only blindly ill-informed at the UN, they are certifiably insane.

Someone needs to knock on their door and tell them about Islamic State, Al-Nusrah, the slaughter of Christians, Muslims, Yazidis and Kurds by international meddlers including the murderous Assad regime.

If there is anywhere on the Syrian border where peace and justice reigns, it is Israel’s presence on the Golan Heights.

If the immorality of these resolutions wasn’t bad enough, not one European nation voted against the Syria- Golan-peace resolution. Not one!

So, while the world is going to hell in a hand-basket, according to the UN it is Israel maintaining a peaceful Golan that is driving them there, and liberal democratic Europe is their navigator.

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NBC News looks at the surge that Ted Cruz is enjoying in Iowa. He seems to have picked up some of those voters peeling away from Ben Carson. However, some voters there worry that Cruz would not be electable. Cruz answers that people had the same doubts about Ronald Reagan in 1980. Well, to paraphrase Lloyd Bentsen. Ted Cruz is no Ronald Reagan. I like a lot of what Cruz says and positions he takes. But his attitude toward other Republicans and his insistence on shutting down the government don't do anything to indicate the sort of pragmatism Reagan demonstrated in his political career when he made deals with Democrats.
"Ted Cruz is no Reagan," said Chester Pach, a historian at Ohio University writing a book on Reagan's presidency.

"It's not that there's a lack of conviction or principle among people who hold elected office," Pach said. "But it's a struggle to find willingness to do basic things like pass a budget."

After all, Cruz was at the forefront of the government shutdown in Oct. 2013, when he and other impassioned conservative lawmakers tried to eliminate funding for the Affordable Care Act. And he played major roles in efforts to defund Planned Parenthood, repeal the president's immigration executive actions, hold-up of Chuck Hagel's nomination as Defense secretary and reject increases in the nation's debt ceiling.

Lee Edwards, a historian at the conservative Heritage Foundation, says Reagan's governing pragmatism was evident before his election as president.

"As governor of California, he was trying to get through welfare reform," Edwards said, recalling the passing of the package of reforms. "This was 1972 -- welfare reform in California -- and the only way he could do it was sitting down with the Democrat majority leader of the state legislature. He did that over a period of months and months with this guy."

On the campaign trail, Cruz is trying to dispel notions that his well-documented conflicts with members of would hinder to his ability to lead the Republican Party to victory next November.

"Sometimes people look back at Reagan with rose-colored glasses and suggest he was simply a sunny optimist who did not take on his own party - to the contrary," Cruz told NBC News. "If you want to cause Republican leadership in Washington to loathe you, come within an inch of defeating the incumbent Republican president in a primary, as Reagan did."

Indeed, Reagan challenged the incumbent, President Gerald Ford, in the 1976 race for the Republican nomination and kept the contest narrow all the way to the party's convention.

"Yes, that stung people," Edwards recalled. "There was some resentment there on the part of Ford people that he had challenged him."

But leading into 1980, Reagan's efforts to reach out to the so-called establishment changed the dynamics, Edwards said.

"The more [Reagan] campaigned, the more the establishment realized he was more than a puppet on anyone's strings," Edwards said. "When he campaigned in Washington, it was to talk to the establishment. He went to a dinner party with Katherine Graham, the owner of the Washington Post. He was reaching out to the establishment and using that charm of his to show them that he wasn't that old or dumb."

But just one year away from the general election, Cruz's hard-charging ways haven't only alienated Democrats; they've alienated Republicans, too.
Now such pragmatism and willingness to compromise might not be what voters want these days, but Cruz shouldn't try selling himself as a modern-day Reagan when his record is quite different. So I share some of these Iowa voters' concerns about Cruz's electability. I'd like to see him as a governor for a while to get a feel for how he can work with a legislature to accomplish his goals. I will admit that, if I thought he could defeat Hillary, I'd be a lot more enthusiastic about Cruz. I'm just not there yet.

I'd never heard this story before about the Pilgrim on the Mayflower who fell overboard and was rescued. He went on to have 10 children and it is now estimated that around 2 million Americans today are descended from him. The list of his descendants include three presidents as well as such disparate people as Sarah Palin and Ralph Waldo Emerson and Humphrey Bogart.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Cruising the Web

I hope all my readers had a lovely Thanksgiving with friends and family. Right before the break, my AP European Country was studying the Industrial Revolution and reading some of the descriptions of what it was like to work in a factory or mine in that era. Then we went from there to talking about the Irish Potato Famine. We decided that we had so very much to be thankful for to be living here in American in this age. In a way it was a very nice transition from the study of history to celebrating Thanksgiving. The more I study, the more I'm grateful for when and where I was born.

As Chicago braces for widespread protests, I've been reading more about the alleged murder of
17-year old Laquan McDonald by a Chicago police officer. What a horrible story. I hadn't realized at first that this shooting happened over a year ago, but the city refused to make the very disturbing video public until forced to do so by a judge. I can understand why the authorities didn't want the video public, but one can't help wondering how much of the secrecy was related to the intervening mayoral election in which Mayor Rahm Emanuel was facing a very tough re-election. And it seems mighty convenient that the city paid out $5 million to the family before the city even bothered to charge the policeman in question. The Chicago Reporter reports on the efforts of a journalist Jamie Kalven and attorney Craig Futterman to get the truth about the shooting out in the public. The city tried to cover up the whole story.
Last December, Kalven and Futterman issued a statement revealing the existence of a dash-cam video and calling for its release. Kalven tracked down a witness to the shooting, who said he and other witnesses had been “shooed away” from the scene with no statements or contact information taken.

In February, Kalven obtained a copy of McDonald’s autopsy, which contradicted the official story that McDonald had died of a single gunshot to the chest. In fact, he’d been shot 16 times—as Van Dyke unloaded his service weapon, execution style—while McDonald lay on the ground.

The next month, the City Council approved a $5 million settlement with McDonald’s family, whose attorneys had obtained the video. They said it showed McDonald walking away from police at the time of the shooting, contradicting the police story that he was threatening or had “lunged at” cops. The settlement included a provision keeping the video confidential.

“The real issue here is, this terrible thing happened, how did our governmental institutions respond?” Kalven said. “And from everything we’ve learned, compulsively at every level, from the cops on the scene to the highest levels of government, they responded by circling the wagons and by fabricating a narrative that they knew was completely false.” To him this response is “part of a systemic problem” and preserves “the underlying conditions that allow abuse and shield abuse.”

In April, the Chicago Tribune revealed Van Dyke’s name and his history of civilian complaints—including several brutality complaints, one of which cost the city $500,000 in a civil lawsuit—none of which resulted in any disciplinary action. In May, Carol Marin reported that video from a security camera at a Burger King on the scene had apparently been deleted by police in the hours after the shooting. (Link via American Thinker)
Things really smell here when the timeline of the city's story and what was later found out to be true comes to light. Just imagine if this story had come out in the middle of Emanuel's reelection campaign and the city had erupted in rioting. John Kass of the Chicago Tribune calls Emanuel out for calling about accountability while sitting on the video.
McDonald was shot to death by Van Dyke on Oct. 20, 2014. And Emanuel rushed to settle the case even before a lawsuit was filed. City Hall shelled out $5 million of taxpayer money.

And then the Emanuel administration wasted a boatload of cash on legal fees and other legal work, trying for months and months to keep Chicago from seeing that video the mayor said he'd never seen.

Rahm sat on the video, and kept sitting on it, all the way through his re-election, as black ministers and other African-American political figures rallied to his side to get out the black vote and deny that vote to Jesus "Chuy" Garcia.

If the video had come out during the election campaign, Rahm Emanuel would not be mayor today.

Rahm didn't demand that the video be shown, and neither did the Chicago City Council's Black Caucus. They voted for the $5 million settlement.
Maybe Chicago benefited from releasing the video right before Thanksgiving and I'm certainly not wishing rioting or any more racial tension on the city near where I grew up. But, as Robert Tracinski argues, blacks should really be protesting the decades of misrule in the city that has helped the wealthy and hurt the poor. Check out his graphic showing the growth of poor areas among wealthy enclaves in the city over the past 45 years while the middle class has left the city.
The people most likely to engage in fiery Bernie Sander rhetoric about “inequality” are most likely to create that inequality in the places where they rule. Like many big cities, Chicago manages to provide security, public transportation, and good schools to a few small enclaves of the upper middle class. Everyone else gets failing schools, cuts in the number of bus lines, and above all else poor policing. Chicago suffers from the classic big-city dysfunction that results when the police view themselves as alien from a hostile population: the callous and excessive use of force, yet without any actual benefit in the reduction of crime.

So if there are any people who have a right to be lividly angry at their city government, it’s the people of Chicago—even more so because they have voted lockstep for the Democrats for 50 years, and this is the thanks they get.

Ah, but there’s the rub. If the city is about to get the riots it deserves, the protesters have to admit they have gotten the city government they asked for.

It’s not just that they have voted for politicians from the Democratic Party. It’s that they have uncritically embraced that party’s ideology. As they have suffered under the yoke of a big, intrusive, corrupt, callous, and indifferent government, they have clamored for more of it....

Chicago has a long history of embracing lefty do-gooders and rabble-rousers who make a lot of noise about how much they care about the poor, but manage to drain billions in taxpayer dollars without making anything better. Yet the people remain in thrall to those political charlatans—they even sent one of them to the White House.

What they need is not just a blind rebellion against the police or against City Hall. What they need is a real rebellion against the paternalistic ideology that treats them as wards or subjects of government, even as it fails them continuously for 50 years.

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Travis Hall, a self-professed fan of Rush Limbaugh, calls Rush out for his hypocrisy on Donald Trump. He expresses a lot of what I feel when I see conservatives falling for Trump's shtick.
One of Limbaugh's biggest criticisms of President Obama has always been the vagueness in Obama's message; in his way of speaking until he can think of something to say; in the blank canvas that he offers us to project our hopes and dreams upon. And that, when he goes off-message, he often misspeaks. Explaining what Obama meant to say has become a cottage industry for websites like Vox and full-time gigs for a variety of nationally known journalists.

When has Trump ever offered anything of substance? His speeches are meandering streams of consciousness, and although he claims each to be unique, they are often the same litanies of vague promises. Trump will negotiate hard with China and Mexico. Trump will make the military so strong it will make your head spin. You'll get bored with winning so much. Chinese bankers live in his building, which proves he can bring jobs back from China. Trump thinks reporters are sleazy. Trump will hit you so hard. And, oh, by the way, have you seen the polls?

Limbaugh has been the voice for those who believe in smaller government for as long as he's been on the air. So it would stand to reason that challenging Trump on even his vague promises to vastly enlarge an already bloated government should give Limbaugh pause. Apparently, it doesn't. How many new government agencies will be necessary to round up 11 million illegal immigrants, send them back to Mexico and then let them back in? How many billions of dollars will it cost to make the military so great your head will spin? How many government workers will be required to build the Trump wall, complete with a beautiful Trump door?

Limbaugh has long lamented "low-information voters," who, he claims, are responsible for the rise of Obama. It's not his policies that win the day; it's the fact that he's cool and hip. His celebrity overcomes all other weaknesses.

Trump took the money that his father left him and built a series of failed casinos. What else does he have to offer, other than gaudy celebrity?
I can understand the low-information voters who are attracted to Trump because of his celebrity or the illusion that he would be the strong leader that, apparently, they're waiting for. His simplistic, yet arrogant proclamations about how he'd solve our nation's problems and make America great again might appeal to someone who knows little about how government works or who has no grounding in conservatism. But there is no excuse for so many conservative radio voices to be cheering Trump on. I can only see two reasons for their doing so. They love his big talk about how he'd stop immigration and send people back and they enjoy the way that he takes on the MSM. But there is so much more to governing the nation than criticizing the liberals in the media.

Both David Frum and Ramesh Ponnuru criticize the efforts of some Republican groups to attack Trump as being extremist or unsuited to the presidency or to attack on national security. They both argue, adn I think they're right, that such attacks are not going to register with those who like Trump. They've heard all that for months now and it hasn't mattered. Both Ponnuru and Frum come to the conclusion that the best thing would be to attack at his supposed strong point - his stand on immigration. That is the position that has resonated with a lot of voters, but it has only recently become Trump's position. Just as Rubio is weak for his support of an entirely different approach to immigration, so is Trump. As Frum points out, many of this construction projects about which he brags so constantly have been and are being built with the labor of illegal immigrants.
Extreme and provocative statements verging on open racism normally doom candidates. They have helped Trump, to date, because those statements seemed to prove that here, at last, was a candidate as exercised about the immigration issue as Republican voters. The well-spoken politicians who had promised to solve the problem in years past had all failed, or turned coat. But a man who’d say wild things that the political elite unanimously condemned as reckless and irresponsible—well, he at least must be sincere, mustn’t he?

So that’s the point where an effective attack would hit him.
Back in 2012 he was criticizing Romney for taking too strong a position on illegal immigration and pushing for a comprehensive policy “to take care of this incredible problem that we have with respect to immigration, with respect to people wanting to be wonderful productive citizens of this country.” So Frum suggests that some of the anti-Trump Republicans suck it up and try attacking on his flip flops on immigration.
Where he is in 2015 is not where he was in 2012—and that could suggest that where he is in 2015 is not where he’ll be if elected president. Every politician changes his mind. Accusations of flip-flopping hurt because they open the possibility that where there is a flip-flop, there may in future be a flop-flip—that the position adopted for political advantage will be jettisoned when political advantage signals a different direction.

Trump’s histrionics—and the criticism he has taken—may seem the ultimate proof of sincerity: When a man walks that far onto a limb, he must mean it, right? The task for Trump’s Republican rivals is to convince Trump followers that this supposed anti-politician is using typical politician’s tricks.

Attacking Donald Trump as untrustworthy on stopping illegal immigration—or having super PACs do it —will stick in the craw of elected Republicans. They are, for the most part, in full agreement with the 2012-vintage Trump on the issue. But it’s their only hope. Of course, it raises the awkward but all-important question: What would they do instead to address a voter concern that until now they have ignored or disdained?
It might go against their own beliefs on immigration, but if they're serious about taking on Trump, don't just echo the same criticisms that both conservatives and members of the media have been making about Trump without doing much to dent his popularity.

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Jonathan Haidt who has written powerfully with Greg Lukianoff about how coddling students has led to an intolerance of freedom of thought in today's schools and universities, has a very good post at Heterodox Academy about his experience speaking at a high school and how what is happening in high schools explains the rudeness and hostility to freedom of expression at places like Yale. He thought his talk was being well-received until the Q and A session during which he was peppered with rude and aggressive questions attacking him for all sorts of things he hadn't said. He slowly realized that all his questioners were girls and the boys were being silent. In another session with the students he started out by asking the students if they wanted their school to be one in which people felt they had to keep their mouths shut if they had offensive views or if they wanted the school to be one in which everyone felt comfortable voicing their views. They were unanimous in preferring the open-minded approach. But then he asked some more questions that revealed what type of school it really was.
Me: OK, let’s see if you have that. When there is a class discussion about gender issues, do you feel free to speak up and say what you are thinking? Or do you feel that you are walking on eggshells and you must heavily censor yourself? Just the girls in the class, raise your hand if you feel you can speak up? [about 70% said they feel free, vs about 10% who said eggshells ]. Now just the boys? [about 80% said eggshells, nobody said they feel free].

Me: Now let’s try it for race. When a topic related to race comes up in class, do you feel free to speak up and say what you are thinking, or do you feel that you are walking on eggshells and you must heavily censor yourself? Just the non-white students? [the group was around 30% non-white, mostly South and East Asians, and some African Americans. A majority said they felt free to speak, although a large minority said eggshells] Now just the white students? [A large majority said eggshells]
Me: Now lets try it for politics. How many of you would say you are on the right politically, or that you are conservative or Republican? [6 hands went up, out of 60 students]. Just you folks, when politically charged topics come up, can you speak freely? [Only one hand went up, but that student clarified that everyone gets mad at him when he speaks up, but he does it anyway. The other 5 said eggshells.] How many of you are on the left, liberal, or democrat? [Most hands go up] Can you speak freely, or is it eggshells? [Almost all said they can speak freely.]

Me: So let me get this straight. You were unanimous in saying that you want your school to be a place where people feel free to speak up, even if you strongly dislike their views. But you don’t have such a school. In fact, you have exactly the sort of “tolerance” that Herbert Marcuse advocated [which I had discussed in my lecture, and which you can read about here]. You have a school in which only people in the preferred groups get to speak, and everyone else is afraid.
This is a really powerful demonstration of how students really feel about expressing their views. And I'm sure that his unnamed school is not unique. I would like to think that the high school where I teach is different, but I'm not so sure. Every year, in my AP Government classes, I have the student discuss current issues and then map their views onto a scale measuring their ideology. I start off, as Haidt recommends, but stressing how important it is to respect other's views. When I first started in 2002, there would be an open discussion of issues like gay marriage or whether environmental regulations harm the economy. The leftist views predominated, but there would be a vocal minority for the opposite views. Now, no student will speak up against gay marriage or environmental regulations. Perhaps the students have all moved to the left, but I also wonder if there are students who are, as Haidt says, afraid of walking on those eggshells.

Haidt calls for diversity of viewpoints among the faculty so that the students would feel more comfortable. To tell the truth, I am not comfortable with teachers in high school talking about their political views with students. Sure it might come out and students can figure things out, but I don't want to make the Democrats in my classes to feel uncomfortable about stating their views because they worry about what I might be thinking.

Haidt answers those who might be indifferent to the discomfort that whites, males, and conservatives might be feeling.
You might think that this is some sort of justice — white males have enjoyed positions of privilege for centuries, and now they are getting a taste of their own medicine. But these are children. And remember that most students who are in a victim group for one topic are in the “oppressor” group for another. So everyone is on eggshells sometimes; all students at Centerville High learn to engage with books, ideas, and people using the twin habits of defensive self-censorship and vindictive protectiveness.

And then… they go off to college and learn new ways to gain status by expressing collective anger at those who disagree. They curse professors and spit on visiting speakers at Yale. They shut down newspapers at Wesleyan. They torment a dean who was trying to help them at Claremont McKenna. They threaten and torment fellow students at Dartmouth. And in all cases, they demand that adults in power DO SOMETHING to punish those whose words and views offend them. Their high schools have thoroughly socialized them into what sociologists call victimhood culture, which weakens students by turning them into “moral dependents” who cannot deal with problems on their own. They must get adult authorities to validate their victim status.

So they issue ultimatums to college presidents, and, as we saw at Yale, the college presidents meet their deadlines, give them much of what they demanded, commit their schools to an ever tighter embrace of victimhood culture, and say nothing to criticize the bullying, threats, and intimidation tactics that have created a culture of intense fear for anyone who might even consider questioning the prevailing moral matrix. What do you suppose a conversation about race or gender will look like in any Yale classroom ten years from now? Who will dare to challenge the orthodox narrative imposed by victimhood culture? The “Next Yale” that activists are demanding will make today’s Centerville High look like Plato’s Academy by comparison.

The only hope for Centerville High — and for Yale — is to disrupt their repressively uniform moral matrices to make room for dissenting views. High schools and colleges that lack viewpoint diversity should make it their top priority. Race and gender diversity matter too, but if those goals are pursued in the ways that student activists are currently demanding, then political orthodoxy is likely to intensify. Schools that value freedom of thought should therefore actively seek out non-leftist faculty, and they should explicitly include viewpoint diversity and political diversity in all statements about diversity and discrimination.
Well said.

George Will goes through the crazy stories from so many college campuses of how intolerant students and professors have become of anything that doesn't conform with the officially approved orthodoxy. There are many examples I hadn't heard of and I've been following these stories with a sense of horror. He concludes,
So, today give thanks that 2015 has raised an important question about American higher education: What, exactly, is it higher than?

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Charles C. W. Cooke rightly calls out the efforts of the Senate Democrats to connect their desired limitations on gun purchases to fears of terrorists coming here and buying guns by proposing that anyone on the watch list be barred from buying a gun.
Let us avoid gloss or euphemism and speak plainly: This idea flies directly in the face of every cherished American conception of justice, and it should be rejected with extreme prejudice. You will note, I hope, that Reid, Schumer, Jentleson, and co. are not proposing to place restrictions on those who have been “accused,” “charged,” or “convicted,” but upon those who are “suspected.” They are not referring to those who are working their way through the judicial system, but to those who remain outside of it. They are not seeking to limit the rights of those who are out on bail or awaiting trial, but those who have not so much as been handcuffed. Loudly and proudly, they are arguing in favor of removing fundamental rights from anyone whose name has been written down on a list. Because they hope to confuse the public, their talk is peppered with references to “Paris-style” “assault” rifles and “automatic” weapons. But this is a red herring: Their proposal applies equally to guns of all types, not just those that give Shannon Watts and Diane Feinstein the willies.

In times past, officials advocating the simultaneous undermining of a range of constitutional rights would have been tarred, feathered, and dumped into the sea, along with their staff, their press agents, and anyone else who saw fit to acquiesce in the scheme. A little of that spirit might be welcome here.

However the press might cast it, there are not in fact “two sides” to this issue. It is not a “tricky question.” It is not a “thorny one” or a “gray area” or a “difficult choice.” It is tyranny. Somewhere, deep down, its advocates must know this. Presumably, Chuck Schumer would not submit that those on a terror watch list should be deprived of their right to speak? Presumably, Harry Reid would not contend that they must be kept away from their mosques? Presumably, Diane Feinstein would not argue that they should be subjected to warrantless searches and seizures? Such proposals would properly be considered disgraceful — perhaps, even, as an overture to American fascism. Alas, there is something about guns that causes otherwise reasonable people to lose their minds.

Matthew Boyle describes how we could still end up with a brokered GOP convention. Those states holding primaries or caucuses before March 15 will award their delegates proportionally among the top finishers.
That means 1,113 delegates are awarded on a proportional basis before any winner-take-all state even comes up. That’s almost half of the 2,472 total delegates awarded and nearly enough to equal what’s necessary to win the GOP nomination, 1,237 delegates.

As such, some candidates may skip along picking up small pockets of delegates over the first few weeks of voting, gathering up a few hundred and holding them until the convention. At a brokered convention, some real dealmaking could happen on the floor. Deals could include who would be on the ticket, reforms to the party platform, cabinet position, and so much more.

What’s more, several candidates may not truly be ruled out until the very end of the race, since they might collect those small pockets of delegates early on, then take some of the winner-take-all states later in the game to reach the magic 1,237 delegates. With so many strong candidates in the field, and so much interesting and out of the ordinary stuff happening in this particular cycle, what most people say is that anything is possible.
Only a few states have winner-take-all rules for awarding their delegates. If those states go for different candidates, it could be that no one will have the necessary 1,237 delegates. I've been hearing such predictions for a brokered convention quite a few times, but the last time the GOP had one was in 1976 when Reagan came close to toppling Gerald Ford. And there is another little-known rule that I hadn't heard of previously.
“Officially, it’s Rule 40 in the RNC handbook and it states that any candidate for president ‘shall demonstrate the support of a majority of the delegates from each of eight (8) or more states’ before their name is presented for nomination at the national convention,”

The Examiner looks back on what polls were saying during Thanksgiving week the year before the past three presidential elections. There doesn't seem to be much predictive power. People just haven't made up their minds yet. So maybe it's too early to worry about a brokered convention.

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Stephen Hayes writes about the intelligence scandal over reports on ISIS. He points out that this is a scandal about which we've been hearing for a few years going back to how the administration has blocked analysis of the bin Laden documents that were captured in the raid that killed him.
The current storm over ISIS intelligence is not a new controversy, though most of the media are treating it as such. It’s better understood as an installment in a long-running scandal that extends beyond CENTCOM in Tampa, into the upper reaches of the U.S. intelligence community and perhaps into the White House.

Readers of this magazine are familiar with the story of the documents obtained in the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. The Sensitive Site Exploitation team on the raid collected more than a million documents​—​papers, computer hard drives, audio and video recordings. Top Obama administration officials at first touted the cache as the greatest collection of terrorist materials ever captured in a single raid and boasted that the contents would fill a “small college library.” An interagency intelligence team, led by the CIA, conducted the initial triage​—​including keyword searches of the collection for actionable intelligence. And then, according to senior U.S. intelligence officials with firsthand knowledge of the controversy, the documents sat largely untouched for as long as a year. The CIA retained “executive authority” over the documents, and when analysts from other agencies requested access to them, the CIA denied it​—​repeatedly.

After a bitter interagency dispute, James Clapper, director of national intelligence, allowed analysts from CENTCOM and the Defense Intelligence Agency to have time-limited, read-only access to the documents. What they found was fascinating and alarming. Much of what these analysts were seeing​—​directly from Osama bin Laden and other al Qaeda leaders​—​contradicted what the president and top administration officials were saying publicly. While drone strikes had killed some senior al Qaeda leaders, the organization had anticipated the U.S. decapitation strategy and was flourishing in spite of it; bin Laden remained intimately involved in al Qaeda decision-making and operational planning; the relationship between al Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban remained strong despite the Obama administration’s attempts to weaken it by negotiating with Taliban leaders; al Qaeda’s relationship with Iran, while uneven and fraught with mutual distrust, was far deeper and more significant than U.S. intelligence assessments had suggested.

Taken together, this new primary-source intelligence undercut happy-talk from the White House about progress in defeating jihadist terror. Al Qaeda wasn’t dying; it was growing. The Afghan Taliban wasn’t moderating; its leaders were as close to al Qaeda as ever. The same Iranian regime promising to abide by the terms of a deal to limit its nuclear program had provided safe haven for al Qaeda leaders and their families and had facilitated al Qaeda attacks on the interests of the United States and its allies.
So why wouldn't the National Security Council want analysts to see these documents? Don't they want the most informed analyses made of the threat we're facing? Sources point to the White House and the NSC as being the ones to block access.

President Obama seems fixated on his graying hair. All presidents, except maybe Reagan, noticeably grayed and aged the longer they were in office. Imagine what Trump's combover would look like after four years in office. It would be Yuuuuuge.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Cruising the Web

A former resident of Brussels' radicalized neighborhood of Molenbeek speak of his sadness at how this neighborhood has been transformed. He looks for an explanation of how Molenbeek became "Europe's jihadi base."
But the most important factor is Belgium’s culture of denial. The country’s political debate has been dominated by a complacent progressive elite who firmly believes society can be designed and planned. Observers who point to unpleasant truths such as the high incidence of crime among Moroccan youth and violent tendencies in radical Islam are accused of being propagandists of the extreme-right, and are subsequently ignored and ostracized.

The debate is paralyzed by a paternalistic discourse in which radical Muslim youths are seen, above all, as victims of social and economic exclusion. They in turn internalize this frame of reference, of course, because it arouses sympathy and frees them from taking responsibility for their actions.
As he describes, it is not permissible to complain about those changes among Belgium's progressive elites. Read his essay. I couldn't help thinking how this could describe some of our elites here in the United States. President Obama particularly.

One CNN reporter sounds as if he's channeling John Kerry as he tries to explain how Parisians are trying to come to grips with what has happened there. Jamie Weinstein reports on CNN reporter Martin Savidge's report from Paris.
Talking to CNN host Don Lemon Monday night, reporter Martin Savidge tried to convey why the people of Paris view the Nov. 13 terror attacks differently than last January’s Islamist terror attacks in Paris that targeted French cartoonists and Jews in a kosher grocery store.

“I think what really has shaken the people of Paris, they’ve grown accustom to the idea that of course the city is a target,” Savidge said from on the ground in the city of lights. “But this particular assault, aside from the sheer numbers of people that were killed or wounded, it was the neighborhoods that were struck. It was the fact that this time no one was spared. It wasn’t that a person was picked out because of their faith. It wasn’t because a person was picked out because of their jobs such as Charlie Hebdo. This was just people — any kind of person. And that has really shaken the people of Paris. This time you could not explain it away as somebody else’s threat.”
Just like Kerry said - there was more of a rationale for mowing down workers at Charlie Hebdo. Weinstein writes,
Ahh, so it’s more understandable when an Islamist terrorist murders a Jew because, well, it’s a Jew! What else should a Jew expect for being a Jew in Paris and shopping at a kosher grocery store, right? But when Islamist terrorists strike “just people” — “just” being a synonym for “real” here? — that’s far more alarming.
Sadly, I suspect that that is how many Frenchmen have reacted to the murders of Jews. Sure, it's tragic and terrible, but what happened on Friday the 13th was much worse, not just because of its scale, but because of who the victims were.

Senator Sessions has released a list of 15 men and women who came to the U.S. as refugees and became jihadis. They came as refugees from places like Somalia, Bosnia, and Kenya. These were refugees who went through the supposedly thorough vetting system that we have in place. The problem is that no system can determine what is in an applicant's heart and mind or what chance there is that the person might become radicalized.

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If the Republicans don't fulfill their nickname as "the Stupid Party," they have a good chance to win in 2016. Josh Kraushaar analyzes the factors that, contrary to the views of a lot of pundits, are in their favor.
Nearly every fun­da­ment­al meas­ure—with the not­able ex­cep­tion of the coun­try’s demo­graph­ic shifts—fa­vors the Re­pub­lic­ans in 2016. The pub­lic over­whelm­ingly be­lieves the coun­try is headed in the wrong dir­ec­tion (23/69, a his­tor­ic low in Bloomberg’s na­tion­al poll). Pres­id­ent Obama’s job-ap­prov­al rat­ing has been con­sist­ently un­der­wa­ter, with the op­pos­i­tion in­tensely re­ject­ing his policies. Any eco­nom­ic growth has been un­even, with more Amer­ic­ans pess­im­ist­ic than op­tim­ist­ic about the fu­ture. The pub­lic’s nat­ur­al de­sire for change after eight years of Demo­crats in the White House be­ne­fits the op­pos­i­tion. Mean­while, the party’s likely stand­ard-bear­er has been saddled with weak fa­vor­ab­il­ity rat­ings of her own, with her email scan­dal drag­ging down her trust­wor­thi­ness in the minds of voters. This is not the en­vir­on­ment in which the party in power typ­ic­ally pre­vails.

That was all true even be­fore the ter­ror­ist at­tacks in Par­is rat­cheted up na­tion­al se­cur­ity as a dom­in­ant is­sue head­ing in­to the pres­id­en­tial elec­tion. Obama, who dis­missed IS­IS ter­ror­ists this week as “a bunch of killers with good so­cial me­dia,” is badly out of step with Amer­ic­an pub­lic opin­ion on the cru­cial is­sue.
Of course, I never underestimate the ability of the Republicans to muck things up. But I like reading such optimism. And check out the article, for one of the worst photographs of Hillary Clinton that I've seen a major media outlet such as The National Journal use. An extreme closeup does not do wonders for Clinton. It's really rather cruel to use such a photo.

Analysts are having fun looking for some sort of comparison to Donald Trump. Yesterday, I linked to a comparison piece of Trump and Jesse Ventura. Now Rich Lowry compares Trump to Andrew Jackson, at least in his appeal.
In large part, Donald Trump is a Jacksonian, the tradition originally associated with the Scotch-Irish heritage in America and best represented historically by the tough old bird himself, Andrew Jackson. Old Hickory might be mystified that a celebrity New York billionaire is holding up his banner (but, then again, Jackson himself was a rich planter). Trump is nonetheless a powerful voice for Jacksonian attitudes.

Historian Walter Russell Mead once wrote a memorable essay on the Jacksonianism that, so many years later, serves as a very rough guide to the anti-PC and fiercely nationalistic populism of the 2016 Trump campaign.

Trump has trampled on almost every political piety, and gotten away with it, even when he has been factually wrong or had to backtrack. “The Jacksonian hero dares to say what the people feel and defies the entrenched elites,” Mead writes. “The hero may make mistakes, but he will command the unswerving loyalty of Jacksonian America so long as his heart is perceived to be in the right place.”

Trump condemns the political system, and everyone who has thrived in it. For Jacksonians, Mead writes: “Every administration will be corrupt; every Congress and legislature will be, to some extent, the plaything of lobbyists. Career politicians are inherently untrustworthy.”

Trump is obsessed with how other countries are taking advantage of us. He is tapping into the Jacksonian fear of, in Mead’s words, politicians “either by ineptitude or wickedness serving hostile foreign interests.”
Jackson was a populist Democrat. And Trump is more of a Democrat than a Republican in his ideology and history.

While some experts like Nate Silver at 538 are warning us not to take the polls today too seriously, David Byler is interested in the question of when early polls start to have a predictive use for Iowa and New Hampshire. His analysis or past polling leads to the conclusion that they start moving toward the actual results about two weeks after Thanksgiving. However, since Iowa and New Hampshire are a month later this year, that might move the predictive moment back a few weeks.

Stuart Rothenberg wonders if the voters are ready for a slow, soft speaker like Ben Carson. Rothenberg compares Carson's style to that of the other candidates who speak faster and more fluidly than Carson. But maybe that is a plus and makes him seem more sincere.

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This is how the State Department regards terrorism in Israel.
"We were happy to see that the violence seemed to have abated somewhat over the course of the last few weeks since we were there," the official said. "But then you obviously saw the violence spike back up again – five people killed, it’s a terrible tragedy, including an American citizen. We’re a bit concerned about that and said so publicly."
"A bit concerned"? Come on!

Jim Geraghty explains why it matters that Donald Trump, who might have seen reports of a few Muslims in New Jersey celebrating after 9/11 instead of thousands that he claimed to have seen. A lot of people might feel that such a mistake is "fake but accurate," but it is more damaging than that.
One poll in May of 600 self-identified Muslim-Americans found 51 percent agreed that agreed that “Muslims in America should have the choice of being governed according to shariah” and the same percentage “believe either that they should have the choice of American or shariah courts.” The same survey also found 25 percent agreeing fully or in part that “violence against Americans here in the United States can be justified as part of the global jihad.” There may be some quibbles with the poll sample -- for example, it’s 55 percent men, 45 percent women -- but even if the numbers are half what the survey found, a portion of this community is in direct conflict with American liberty and rule of law.

It’s in this context that Hillary Clinton’s statement, “Muslims are peaceful and tolerant people and have nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism,” is so maddening. The number of Muslims in the United States ranges from 2.6 million to 8 million, depending upon who you ask. If just one percent is extremist or supports Islamist terrorism, we’re talking about 26,000 to 80,000 people -- not a group small enough to ignore. The Fort Hood shooter, one man, killed 13 and injured 30 people.

“Jim, why are you writing about Donald Trump again?”

Because this stuff matters, and we have an obligation to get our facts right. A lot of people won’t want to think about any percentage of American Muslims supporting violence against Americans. They’ll want to tune it out as hatred and xenophobia. If you get this stuff wildly wrong, as Trump just did, and then refuse to acknowledge any error, people dismiss you as a crazy lunatic. The people who insisted Trump was right kept sending me videos from the wrong place or the wrong time period.

The NYT uncovers another fantasy story that Donald Trump has hung his hat on. He owns a golf course in Virginia on the shores of the Potomac that he has declared was once called "the River of Blood" because someone told him that. However, there is no evidence that it was ever called that. It's a small thing, but this is the guy whose every answer about what his policies will be on a whole list of issue is simply to brag about how he's going to hire the very best people to fix our nation's problems. He doesn't even have anyone to check out a rumor at one of his properties before he sets up a plaque about the supposed history of the site.

There are a lot of phrases that the Democrats can't say. As Jay Nordlinger writes, they are muzzling themselves.
Democratic candidates are apparently not allowed to say “radical Islam.” Or “All lives matter.” If they say those things, there’s hell to pay. And now Hillary Clinton has pledged not to say “illegal immigrant.”

By the time the caucuses and primaries roll around, will Democrats be able to say anything? Beyond “racist”? An assault on language is an assault on thought. Democrats like to say they’re the thinking party. The truth is, their party is chockfull of taboos, and not necessarily good ones.

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Jacob Heilbrun explores the damage that our tender snowflakes at universities are wreaking on American history with their over-dependence on political correctness.
As L. Gordon Crovitz observes in the Wall Street Journal, there are a bevy of malefactors from the past that young students can try to hunt down: “Elihu Yale made his fortune as a British East India Company imperialist. Exploited Chinese laborers build Leland Stanford’s transcontinental railway. James Duke peddled tobacco.” And so on. It’s a game of trivial pursuit with real consequences for the intellectual climate on campus. No longer do students attempt to divine why the leading lights of a different era thought as they did, to attempt to put them in a broader context. Looking at Wilson as a racist pure and simple is rather reductionist. It tells you something about him but hardly everything.

Nor is this all. The push for political correctness has a chilling implication for current debate, which is something that the contemporary myrmidons of virtue are uninterested about. The idea seems to be that their young minds should be kept unsullied from the wider world. They want to be protected from subversive sentiments, coddled and cossetted, rather than exposed to contrary ideas. Hence the “safe spaces” and concern about “microaggressions.”

Some institutions are fighting back. The University of Chicago issued a report in January that stated, “It is not the proper role of the University to attempt to shield individuals from ideas and opinions they find unwelcome and opinions they find unwelcome, disagreeable, or even deeply offensive.”
Mitch Daniels of Purdue has also taken a mature stance.
Events this week at the University of Missouri and Yale University should remind us all of the importance of absolute fidelity to our shared values. First, that we strive constantly to be, without exception, a welcoming, inclusive and discrimination-free community, where each person is respected and treated with dignity. Second, to be steadfast in preserving academic freedom and individual liberty.

Two years ago, a student-led initiative created the “We Are Purdue Statement of Values”, which was subsequently endorsed by the University Senate. Last year, both our undergraduate and graduate student governments led an effort that produced a strengthened statement of policies protecting free speech. What a proud contrast to the environments that appear to prevail at places like Missouri and Yale. Today and every day, we should remember the tenets of those statements and do our best to live up to them fully.
Kudos to both those university leaders.

The UNC School of Journalism has just eliminated the requirement that majors take American history and Economics. Because why should their graduates be any wiser than the average journalist today? Jay Schalin of John William Pope Center bemoans this change.
Charlie Tuggle, a senior associate dean for undergraduate studies who served on the curriculum committee that made the changes, told The Daily Tar Heel, the official student newspaper, that, “no one really knew why we were requiring HIST 128 or why we were specifically requiring ECON 101.”

That comment is cause for reflection: one is tempted to ask how far removed from the real world academics are. Even some journalism students struggled to understand why such valuable courses are no longer required. “I haven’t been able to figure out the rationale for it yet,” said James Martin, a senior from Washington, North Carolina. He said that the economics course “is important for journalism majors to take,” and that it gave him “a different understanding of the world that I wouldn’t have if I hadn’t taken it.”

Martin’s comments and those of other students the Pope Center spoke to bring into question Tuggle’s comments in The Daily Tar Heel that students found the “required classes were useless and boring.” That article also quoted from one student who said, “ECON 101 was the death of me. I’m sad I had to do it….”

But popularity and easiness are hardly true measures of a course’s value: pre-med majors may not like organic chemistry—a notoriously difficult subject—but they must master it to move forward as scientists. Some students who are initially against taking challenging courses such as ECON 101 are savvy enough to grasp the importance in retrospect. Victoria Karagiorgis, a senior journalism major from Winston-Salem, told the Pope Center that she found ECON 101 “aggravating” and said “I got my worst grade in college in economics.” She said that when she was taking the course, she wondered, “why the heck do I have to take this? I’m not interested in it, and I’m never going to use it.”

But afterward, Karagiorgis said she was glad she took it. “It gave me another way of thinking about things.” She said she heard a lot of “griping” about the course from her fellow journalism majors, but added, “if you have to report on financial matters it’s best to know something about them.”

The value of economics and history courses goes beyond specific knowledge. In J-School, one learns skills and techniques, not facts, ideas, and [some] reasoning. Ideas and facts they must get elsewhere. Those facts and ideas are needed to form the most important part of a journalist’s toolkit: perspective; it is a journalist’s job to relate events and trends to the rest of society. That does not mean they should report with biased opinions, but that they must know there is often more to the picture than at first glance.

After all, if journalists are ignorant of very basic economics, how can they write about a major macro-economic topic such as government spending? In the case of my New Jersey colleague, the answer is “poorly.” Instead of presenting a balanced view that included how continually increasing government debt eventually destroys an economy, as we have seen recently in Greece, he blathered on about how it was necessary to pass a budget immediately because government workers were suffering without their paychecks.

Robert Ehrlich, the former Maryland governor, describes the modern lexicon of progressives today. The saddest example is how they no longer value free speech.
Possibly the most perplexing aspect of modern progressivism is its intolerance of alternative viewpoints. And nowhere is this attitude better demonstrated than in the proliferation of speech codes on our increasingly politically correct college campuses.

It seems that a new generation of our best and brightest have adopted the utopian vision of an offenseless society: a place where politically correct speech codes ensure that hypersensitive young people will not be confronted with troublesome, angst-inducing dissent. Yes, that former First Amendment–friendly America (particularly American campus life) that invited dissent is now so 1960s. This, my friend, is America circa 2015, where you’d better watch your p’s and q’s lest a trigger warning terminates your conversation — and get you expelled, fired, or fined for your “insensitivity”. Don’t think such nonsense has struck a chord with young people? A recent “Notable & Quotable” piece in the Wall Street Journal (October 22) says it all:

By a margin of 51 percent to 36 percent, students favor their school having speech codes to regulate speech for students and faculty. Sixty-three percent favor requiring professors to employ “trigger warnings” to alert students to material that might be discomfiting. One-third of the students polled could not identify the First Amendment as the part of the Constitution that dealt with free speech. Thirty-five percent said that the First Amendment does not protect “hate speech,” while 30 percent of self-identified liberal students say the First Amendment is outdated.

The bottom line: Silly word games that used to be the butt of jokes are now the object of intense study at many of our leading colleges and universities. As a parent who pays tuition, you pay for this pseudo-intellectualism. Time to start hitting back. Time to remind our coddled children that a great big competitive and often nasty world awaits them. Time to expose the intolerance. Time to stop indulging the idiocy. Time to make freedom cool again!

Well, this is rather sick-making. The Clinton campaign is trying to soften up her image by having her reminisce fondly about the early days of romance between Bill and Hill. They were so cute and so in love. How sweet. But remember what their marriage evolved into.