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Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Hostage Taking Over Zika


John Sexton, writing at HotAir is unhappy:
Democrats seem to have resolved not to vote for the bill, in part, because Planned Parenthood told them not to do so. More generally, they are betting the GOP will ultimately be held to blame for the failed response.
Those crafty, malevolent Democrats--how could they? On a Democratic strategists' note that they won't just "say yes" [to anything], he finds it:
This is a pretty cynical approach to a disease which causes permanent brain damage among infants.
If you read the Sexton article--and nothing else--you might think that the Democrats just engineered a Zika disaster by knocking down the response knowing the media would blindly blame the Republicans. And they would have gotten away with it too, if it weren't for those melding bloggers! Of course what Sexton knows, and is hoping his readers don't, is that the Republicans put some stuff into the bill that Democrats weren't going to vote for:
  • It cuts $540 million in Affordable Care Act funding.
  • It doesn't include money for Planned Parenthood or any other contraceptive providers. (This is a shortcoming because Zika can be transmitted sexually.)
  • It doesn't include a provision passed earlier in the House that would prohibit federal funds from being used to fly Confederate flags at veterans' cemeteries.
  • The Zika money it does include is $800 million less than what the Obama administration has asked for.
The Omnivore understands the ACA and PP stuff. He also underscores an $800 million deficit. Budget hawks gonna hawk. But the Confederate Flag? What's going on?

Apparently, during the Democratic sit-in, the GOP brought the bill to the floor without the Confederate-Flag provision. Sneaky. But the Dems were also, to be fair, sitting on the floor and stuff. Why would the media blame them?

Because the media is a buncha leftists?

The GOP And Hostage Taking

The Politico link in the HotAir story above notes that Democrats think the GOP will pay for its history of "legislative impasses." That's probably true. The problem with Sexton's position here is that in this case, it's also definitely true.

The idea that facing the requirement for a funding bill that will, as he notes cause birth defects in infants--which is, you may have heard, a major cause for abortion, is something both sides want and say they want badly. When you then add in provisions that are (a) unnecessary and (b) you know the other side doesn't want, you are, in effect, saying "I'm going to hold this common-good against [ my unnecessary agenda ]."

Now we can argue that PP was inevitable. That the ACA reduction is political hardball. We could say the shortfall is fiscally responsible.

But the Confederate Flag?

That's unnecessary. That's the smoking gun. That's how you know Sexton is bullshitting you.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Regrexit - Impact on America?


The chaos-spiral continues with financial markets rocked, resignations across Parliament, and finger pointing. The petition to re-do the Brexit Vote is said to be over 4MM votes (the LEAVE vote tallied 17MM)--the site is down now, presumably due to overload.


What Next?

There is much to be sorted. If there is a new general election (possible with Cameron's resignation) then a do-over could be on the ballot. If not--or if it happens and, again, REMAIN doesn't win--there will be a 2 year period of trying to figure out:

  • How European financial services (now headquartered and run out of London) will be handled.
  • Trade agreements.
  • Immigration agreements.
  • How to limit contagion--will Brussels come down hard on England to prevent others from leaving--or risk letting them go happily, believing that everyone realizes they're unique?
The chaos could go on for a while.


What Now?

Erotic novelist and Hugo nominated author Chuck Tingle has given us a look at the Post-Brexit future in his steamy novel Pounded By The Pound:
Apparently it involves a hellscape with demonic flying dragons dressed in red uniforms and large black hats.

The Omnivore, however, finds this Amazon review the most telling:

Yes, that seems to be a great deal of what's going around. For example, from the Economist article, we get this quote:
IT WAS a troubling exchange. On live television Faisal Islam, the political editor of SkyNews, was recounting a conversation with a pro-Brexit Conservative MP. “I said to him: ‘Where’s the plan? Can we see the Brexit plan now?’ [The MP replied:] ‘There is no plan. The Leave campaign don’t have a post-Brexit plan…Number 10 should have had a plan.’” The camera cut to Anna Botting, the anchor, horror chasing across her face.
For those American readers, The Omnivore is pretty sure "Number 10" is David Cameron who has resigned over the vote.

Is This Good Or Bad For Trump?

People seem divided on whether the Brexit is good or bad for The Donald. Most of the conventional wisdom is that "They thought it couldn't happen--and IT DID." Well, that's somewhat true IF:
  1. You Don't Analyze The Polls. Some were way off. Some were spot on. The smart analysis (PEC and 538) said that it was really close. People chose what they wanted to believe. That's not currently the case with the anti-Trump camp. It has been weeks since Trump led in any poll.
  2. You Ignore the Object Lesson. The narrative coming out of England right now is that of catastrophe. Yes, the UK and world markets, might soon recover--but this is a very real blow and it's being reported as such. The Democrats had their object lesson on getting what you protested for in 2000 with Bush vs. Gore. The Nader voters, essentially, voted in the Iraq war (no one thinks Nader would have invaded Iraq). The Omnivore thinks that potentially Democratic Trump-Protest-Voters who are going "how bad could it be?" are seeing here how bad it could be.
  3. Trump Fails To Capitalize. Trump had a brilliant chance to look presidential, being overseas on location, at the time of an unexpected crisis. He played golf. Presently he's trying to hit Hillary on her "Brexit call"--but as unrest unfolds that may look like a mistake as well. He'll likely give another Teleprompter speech--but that's not an especially strong move.
Basically? The super-angry / don't-care vote is already going to Trump. The question now is what possible Hillary voters (of which many Sanders voters are included) decide to do. The Omnivore thinks that the Brexit, as an illustration of voting in protest, may wake up a generation too young to remember Nader and 2000.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Trump War II

Dude, You're Not Supposed to Just Say It

As the Clinton-Trump war rises (along with the Brexit mushroom-cloud), a second set of battles is taking place around the central conflict. Call it Trump-War-II. What we are seeing is primary-challenger hopefuls moving towards Trump when their target has decided to move away. Trump, being highly polarizing, is thus creating another sort of Tea-Party pattern where there is an "insurgent side" and an "establishment side."

The Florida Theater

In Florida, Rubio-Challenger Carlos Beruff is a Trump-oid. Going anti-immigrant, anti-establishment, and anti-PC, his pro-Trump position is one Rubio, who (although endorsed by Trump) has said he won't speak for Trump, cannot adopt. Considering that Donald Trump won Florida in a landslide, that's got to be concerning.

With other Senate challengers David Jolly and Carlos Lopez-Cantera stepping aside to let Rubio run, this contrast will be pretty much absolute. When Trump comes to Florida, will Rubio break his pledge not to endorse and take the stage with The Donald? Or will, maybe, Rubio-challenger Beruff, get the primary spot?


The Wisconsin Battleground

Rubio isn't exactly a low-profile guy this time out (especially with the control of the Senate being the second biggest deal going into 2017), there's an even bigger battle happening in Wisconsin. Businessman Paul Nehlen has reached into the UKip (the British White Nationalist party) and started running these billboards:
Dude, You're Not Supposed To . . . :: Sigh ::
While polling suggests that Nehlen is a long-shot at best (Ryan is very popular at home--and Trump is not) as the establishment-Trump divide festers, other challengers are going to see the value in attaching themselves to Trump in hope of various perks from media coverage to, even endorsements from the party's nominee.


If Do Right, No Can Defend

The Omnivore's big conclusion about the Brexit Vote was that it sure seems a lot of Brits didn't quite know what they were getting into when they voted LEAVE. If this "buyers-remorse" persists, the ramifications of a protest vote might have a Nader-Gore style impact on English politics for years to come. However, more immediately, The Omnivore suspects that the crowing of the American Right and Donald Trump in particular was the insult that, added to injury (falling one place in the World's Largest Economy ratings) that Brits probably can't stand.

Trump is wildly unpopular in the UK. He represents (in the British popular media) everything that is raw and vulgar (and small-handed?) about America. To have him (wrongly) praise Scotland for it's Brexit Vote (they voted REMAIN, Trump praised them for LEAVE) is likely more of a wake-up call to a lot of British than the Cliffs-Of-Dover plunge the Pound took.

The problem, both for incumbents at home and, potentially, for UKip and the like overseas, is that you can't just answer a Trump-endorsement of an opponent by looking for one yourself. Ryan has come as close as he likely can to endorsing Trump while still keeping his 2020 options open. If the Florida race heats up, Rubio will probably try to pull another etch-a-sketch and pretend to be Trump's friend--but that's going to be very, very difficult to sell. Overseas, becoming "American" is probably something that, even now, White Nationalists parties are trying to strategize their way out of.

Good luck, guys.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Puttin' On The Grift


The FEC Filings for the campaigns show some fascinating things about the Trump campaign:

  1. With 1.3MM dollars in the bank, the Trump Campaign Doesn't Have Enough Money for a Three-Bedroom in Santa Monica, Let Alone a Presidential Race (Sanders, for contrast, has about 8x that much in the bank).
  2. He raised about 17MM and gave 6MM of it . . . to himself. This was in the form of paying top-dollar for services he owned.
  3. Of money he didn't give to himself, 35k went to the ad agency "Draper Sterling" which is the fictional company in the AMC show Mad Men. It's also a real-life shady firm that seems to only vaguely exist.
  4. He spent 208,000 on 'hats.'
At this point, for the people who have donated to the campaign--not to mention the people being asked to donate--it is fair to ask: is this some kind of con job?

They might want to talk to some Trump University students.

He's Not The Only One

If there was a most-notable con-job in the campaign it was the Ben Carson endeavor. A fund-raising power-house, it seemed most likely to promote his book and funnel money to his advisers. Carson's tight relationship with a dodgy supplement company doesn't inspire confidence that the candidate was entirely removed from siphoning money off of his followers.

On the other hand, it is notable that the Jeb Bush campaign, while perhaps best described as "hapless" was straight up. It didn't grift funds to its people. It certainly tried its best to get elected. With a haul of over 120MM, it exceeded the Trump-Take by about seven times.

A Money Machine

The problem isn't really the presence of a Carson Get-Rich-Quick effort or even a Trump Pay-Yourself-First approach. It's pretty legitimate to argue that Sanders continued to permit followers to submit funds when he had no chance of winning (talk about your Dream Act). The issue, The Omnivore thinks, is that the Right has sort of absorbed and metabolized the outrage-based short-con and now sees its supporters primary as marks.

Consider that:
  1. None of the Democratic media has anything like the personality-based hucksterism (buy gold, buy freeze-dried rations, buy water-filtration devices) that conservative media has. Even if you consider Prius ads to be environmental apocalypsism, there isn't an Alex Jones or Glenn Beck hawking them.
  2. If we consider that Sanders was, at some point, drawing funds from his people while permitting a narrative about his chances of winning to pervade, we should also remember that he was in no way analogous with Carson (who has never held any office, nor had any real campaign message) or Trump (who is under indictment for fraud).
  3. Although this is true of anyone losing (see Sanders supporters) conspiracy theory is rife in the main-line GOP (see Texas Governor Greg Abbott mobilizing the Texas National Guard to "keep an eye" on the US Military Jade Helm exercises). The prevalence of conspiracy theory in the GOP electorate makes them especially vulnerable to personality based disaster-preparedness pitches . . . which is essentially what Trump's campaign is.

Conclusions

With Donald Trump becoming the presidential nominee for the GOP and his campaign evidencing, if not actual fraud, a serious view of politics as a money-making venture, it is hard not to see the Republican party, primarily, as a vehicle for separating money from their elderly constituency. The proliferation of profit based (as opposed to politically based) parasitic media just amplifies this.

Monday, June 20, 2016

A Vote For Trump Is a Vote For Hillary


It appears now that the nomination of Donald Trump is single most likely thing to ensure Hillary Rodham Clinton is elected to President that the Republican electorate could have done. In the primary, it appears that "A vote for Trump" actually did turn out to be "a vote for Hillary."

This is because despite Trump's unique strengths (fearlessness, an unshakable base, willingness to shift positions quickly and fluidly, and charisma) he has some weaknesses that no other conceivable candidate would offer.

These are:
  1. Enmity with the Republican party (Trump Tells GOP to Shut Up)
  2. A massive fund-raising problem (Trump was given a list of 20 donors to call, called 3, and then gave up)
  3. A baffling inability to self-fund (Trump asks for ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS from voters)
  4. A unique toxicity (Apple refuses to engage in Republican convention because of Trump)
And so on . . .

Trump is looking at millions of dollars in un-answered air-time.


A huge disparity in staffing:
And, while one could make a case for Trump's ability to get free air-time and, perhaps, run an effective skeleton-crew campaign (without a lot of spending) the data we have so far?


He's not running effectively.

A Rock so Heavy God Can't Lift It

The mechanic behind this was that the generalized anger at the GOP establishment created a litmus test that, literally, no one could pass. The qualifications for nominee were the proverbial "rock so heavy God can't lift it." The candidate had to be anti-establishment, an outsider, but with more political experience than Barack Obama. He had to be a young vibrant minority--but scrupulously constitutional, untarnished in any respect, and yet welcoming to a bigger tent. He had to have the donors, the blue-collar, and the religious voters all covered. He had to be a happy warrior . . . and at the same time, very, very angry.

Trump didn't manage all of this (he wasn't breaking 40% until there was nobody left against them--and then then only got some level above 50%) but he managed most of it. The problem is that he managed the worst parts. He was an iconoclast--but his big tent was mostly to make the most vocal racist component of the GOP feel at home. He's an outsider--yes--but his political experience is so limited that bringing him into the most powerful office in the world is like hiring someone who has never seen a pipe before to fix your plumbing.

Finally, and most uselessly,  he exploited a flaw in the primary electorate that does not seem to exist in the general populace: raw, absolute hatred of "political correctness." His statements after the Orlando shooting were hailed by his base and hated by everyone else.

Conclusions

For the people who really hate Hillary and are therefore holding their nose and voting Trump, it is worth realizing that their willingness to do that created Trump--and therefore created Hillary--in the first place. At this point? A vote for Trump was a Vote for Hillary. Continuing to hold this position (even if it's now "too late to do anything" is just further making the case for Trump . . . and then for Hillary).

Friday, June 17, 2016

The Can't-Lose Election



The American Thinker, takes its name ironically and posts an essay on unskewing the polls that show Donald Trump losing:
However, based on the polling details, the final weighted sample of 976 registered voters is made up of just 28% Republicans and 35% Democrats.
In the unweighted sample of registered voters, the relative percentage by party was 29% Republicans and 35% Democrats.
So, during the weighting process, the poll increased the Democrat-Republican spread from 6% to 7%. This relative weighting should have been headed in the other direction.
and

CBS claims that "[t]his poll release conforms to the Standards of Disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls." If so, those standards need to be higher, since the polling release should also include all detailed demographic breakdowns for age, sex, race, education, geographic location, income, ideological leanings, etc. This would allow us to look for even greater bias beyond the obvious R. vs. D. party affiliation divide.
Obama, lowing the standards for all of us. Oh, and also? That phone you hear ringing is 2012 wanting its crazy back. They aren't alone: the Daily Mail finds the same thing. Basically, facing a total Trump melt-down, the conclusion that people are drawing is: He's winning!


The Can't Lose Election

Conspiracy theories, statistically, are for losers (whichever party is in power, the party out of power has more conspiracy theories going). In this case, though, for the GOP Base, things are even more dire: this is a direct assessment of their ideology.

This time Trump is the guy they wanted. To be sure, the TruCons wanted Cruz (who was almost as unpopular--but a far, far better choice on the merits)--but Trump really is the "Tea Party" candidate (and if you protest, remember that Sharon Angle was also a "Tea Party Candidate"--but not, as she said, a witch).

Now, if Trump loses, much less loses catastrophically, there is an entire wing of the party that will be shown that their philosophy is--and always was--a loser. Not that the intellectuals get away clean either.

Sarah Palin may have been the start of something actually new in politics: defense of absolute unreadiness for the job. To be sure, a lot candidates have been unprepared or "generally inexperienced." To be certain, we have had people with backgrounds (think: military) that may not be well suited for finer points of statecraft.

The Omnivore does not believe we have ever had a President or VP who needed a 9th grade civics education upon becoming the candidate. As the right rallied around Palin--defending the indefensible--allowing a narrative that she "knows more about energy than anyone else in America" to stand--that may have been new.

While there's always been a strain of anti-Intellectualism in political rhetoric, The Omnivore thinks that the response that Palin drew with her actual, legitimate, anti-Intellect goes beyond signaling and into "The people who thought Sarah Palin was grand liked her--but felt she was a bit too Ivory Tower for the job of POTUS." Hence Trump.

Jonathan Chait calls out one of these people--an intellectual who defended Palin--and then now questions where all this base politics came from--in a brilliant article.

The rise of Trump has given many Republicans, including Continetti, a different perspective on these very same questions. Trump’s candidacy has given them the chance to debate the merits of an ignorant demagogue, rather than defend him reflexively. Many of them have decided that a president who knows things about public policy, and does not indulge conspiracy theories from email chains, has a certain charm. They have even come to view the dissent against such a candidate as an act of nobility, rather than traitorous currying of favor with the elite liberal media. And they have even begun questioning what pathologies have driven Republican voters into the arms of such patently unqualified demagogues.
. . .
These are important questions — what failures of education and culture could have left Republican voters predisposed to the propaganda of a grifter who is neither a wonk nor an orator, and who exploits their cultural resentments? Continetti does not provide any answers. Here is one:
(The Book He Wrote Defending Her)
For people who were duped into following resolutely unqualified leaders and for the people who enabled them for partisan reasons, this election is looking like a wake-up call. It's one they can't afford to lose--and are almost certainly going to.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

On The Pulse Shooting



Surprising probably no one, reports are out that the Orlando night-club shooter was gay. Also, in what is becoming a pattern, his horrified father turns out to be an anti-American, anti-gay, politically active Muslim. This is, sadly, not a dissimilar pattern to the Ahmed clock (bomb) kid's dad who was also a politically active Muslim.

If you got mad seeing the clock-kid reference, go watch the linked video up top: you might get mad enough that The Omnivore won't get hate-mail over it (you'll have an aneurysm). From where The Omnivore is sitting, two things are very, very clear:

  1. Islam, as it is practiced in much of the world is incompatible with both Western civil rights (acceptance of gays) and 
  2. Legitimizes death in a way that is incompatible with Western morality.
Thinking otherwise is ignoring numerical indicators the same way Team Romney did in the 2012 election. Are you on Team Romney (Blacks-Won't-Turn-Out-Again)? Okay then.


What About The Gun?

Apparently the shooter was met with armed resistance at the door of the club. He managed to kill 49 people and wound about fifty. That's impressive numerically. The combinations that make for high-causality shootings are (a) plenty of bullets and (b) a constricted environment.  Certainly large magazines help with that--but patrons escaping and then blocking the door to trap other victims inside don't help either.

In any event, the spikes here involve AR-15's--although Luby and Virginia Tech used handguns and McDonald's used an Uzi among other weapons.
It seems likely to The Omnivore that an AR-15 might, today, be the preferred weapon of the mass shooter but is not the only one that will get the job done. Considering that this guy was dodgy enough to show up on the FBI's radar, the argument that the current ease of getting firearms was helpful in his quest for mass murder cannot be discounted.

Although the Paris shooters did acquire automatic weapons, it is important to note that:
  1. Unlike the Pulse shooter, they were receiving logistical support from ISIS. That means money, organized crime networks, training, etc.
  2. They benefited from having cross-border connections in Brussels where French-style security forces simply did not exist. This is not the case in America.
In other words, if some legislation had prevented Mateen from legally acquiring weapons, there is at least a decent chance he would have tripped law-enforcement's notice had he decided to (amateurishly) try to buy them through organized crime venues.

It is also worth noting that while organized crime could theoretically provide fully automatic weapons to would-be shooters, we have not seen a mass shooting with one. In other words, although these guys set out to break the law, the current laws in place do, likely, provide protection in the form of limiting the amount of firepower they can get.

As a final point: while Liberals are fond of calling AR-15's "Weapons of War" and pro-gun rights people deride this as the AR-15 is not actually an assault rifle (capable of full-auto fire) the AR-15 is, in fact, basically the same weapon. In a choke-point constrained target-rich environment, fully automatic fire would be within tactical doctrine but the weapons that most soldiers use, although capable of either fully automatic fire (or 3-round bursts), are not generally used in that capacity. Full Auto fire in a battlefield situation is usually suppressive (designed to limit enemy movement and counter-fire) rather than directed against tightly packed enemy soldiers.

In other words, for most purposes, the AR-15 and the battlefield weapon are identical.

Conclusions

The Omnivore is pretty sure that when you mix:
  1. A gay young man who is Muslim
  2. A religious anti-gay father
  3. Islam's willingness to condemn gays to death
  4. ISIS
  5. Easily availlable Firearms
You have a solid recipe for a mass-shooting. The question is: how can you limit any of these. Destroying ISIS is obviously the first step--but after that? Well, the issues get dicey, don't they. The partisan divide is pretty strong too: we allowed a Muslim to speak in Orlando two weeks ago saying that Gays Must Die (be killed out of compassion, apparently).

We allowed a guy who showed yellow flags access to weapons. There are potential conflicts with the 1st and 2nd Amendments right there. 

It is clear that in order to make headway against this sort of extremism, Americans will have to do that which they least like to: Compromise somewhere.