25 thoughts on “News/Politics 12-30-16

  1. Well, here’s a piece of good news. Russia has decided not to play Obama’s game.

    Russian President Vladimir Putin has declined to engage in a tit-for-tat after the US expelled 35 Russian diplomats over the hacking scandal.

    He said Russia would not “stoop” to the level of “irresponsible diplomacy” but would work to restore ties with America under President-elect Donald Trump.

    The Russian foreign ministry had formally asked him to expel 35 US diplomats in retaliation.

    Russia denies involvement in hacking, calling US sanctions “ungrounded”.

    Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev accused the outgoing administration of President Barack Obama of ending in “anti-Russian death throes”.

    Diplomatic spat goes undiplomatic

    Under the US action taken on Thursday:

    Thirty-five diplomats from Russia’s Washington embassy and its consulate in San Francisco were declared “persona non grata” and given 72 hours to leave the US with their families
    Two properties said to have been used by Russian intelligence services in New York and Maryland will be closed
    Sanctions were announced against nine entities and individuals including two Russian intelligence agencies, the GRU and the FSB


    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think there may be a fairly simple way for Trump to fix/rollback this latest flap with Russia. He and Putin may quietly agree that in the future neither the US nor Russia will interfere in each other’s elections. They could then rescind all “sanctions”. The two might even agree not to interfere in the elections of other countries.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. On the other hand, if it is going to be acceptable for governments to wage cyberwar to try to influence elections in other states, I would support expenditures by Texas to try to influence elections in California, New York, Illinois and Massachusetts, just for entertainment purposes.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Another good piece by Peggy Noonan



    I want to end this dramatic year writing of a man whose great and constructive work I discovered in 2016. He is the photojournalist Chris Arnade. I follow him on Twitter, where he issues great tweet-storms containing pictures and commentary about America. (His work has also appeared in the Guardian and the Atlantic.)

    He has spent the past year traveling through much of the country taking pictures of regular people in challenging circumstances and writing of their lives. He is politically progressive and a week before the election angered his side, and some media folk, by foretelling the victory of Donald Trump. The people he met were voting for him. Many saw the America they’d grown up in slipping away. They wanted a country that was great again. They experienced elite disdain for Trump as evidence he might be the one to turn it around. …

    … “Everybody is kind of working in the same direction, trying to get by, get a life that provides them with dignity.” In this, he suggests, we are more united than we know.

    Happy New Year, everyone. May we do work worthy of the moment.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. It’s good to see some blowback from the Democratic Party over Obama and Kerry’s recently articulated position on Israel.

    As the debate continues over the Obama administration’s handling of the U.N. resolution condemning Israeli settlements, there are signs it is causing a divide within the Democratic Party. “Electile Dysfunction” author and Harvard Law Professor Emeritus Alan Dershowitz weighs in on the political fallout from the Obama administration’s handling of Israel.

    “[The New York Times] has a story today saying only right-wing Jews condemn [Secretary of State] Kerry. Hey, I’m a left-wing liberal Jew, [U.S. Senator from New York] Schumer is a liberal Jew – you know, they just make up the news,” Dershowitz told the FOX Business Network’s Sandra Smith.

    When asked if the issue of Israel was foreshadowing a divide within the Democratic Party, Dershowitz responded, “It does, and if they now appoint [Minnesota Rep.] Keith Ellison, who worked with [Nation of Islam leader] Farrakhan, to be chairman of the DNC you’re going to see a lot of people leave.”

    Dershowitz then issued a stern warning to the Democratic Party.

    “I’m going to tell you right here on this show and this is news, if they appoint Keith Ellison to be chairman of the Democratic Party, I will resign my membership to the Democratic Party after 50 years of being a loyal Democrat.”


    Liked by 2 people

  6. The potential for party realignment is very interesting.

    1. The Democrats still have the vast majority of Blacks.

    2. As long as Trump is President, the Republicans will have the vast majority of whites without a college degree and the Democrats will have a solid majority of Hispanics.

    3. As HRW has pointed out, the cities are now Democrat and the small towns and rural areas are now Republican.

    I get the impression that Obama has turned many older people into strong Republicans while Trump has turned many young people into Republican-haters.

    The next couple of years could be interesting. The offyear elections are usually good for the party out of power, but if Keith Ellison becomes the voice of the Democrats, they are in trouble.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. A foreign power involving itself in a national election by hacking into one party’s emails to benefit the other political party should be disconcerting to that nation’s citizen no matter their political leanings. The content of the email is a different issue — first, the nation’s leaders should deal with the outside intrusion. Trump and his friends seem to have forgotten national interest in favour of party and self-interest.

    Not sure why there’s so much interest and backlash to the two-state solution. Its been the fallback position of most countries including US allies and roughly half the Israeli population. Its rather strange that US politicians from both parties are taking their cues from a foreign political party on how to conduct foreign relations in the Middle East.

    Dershowitz and his friends can whine but they are out of touch with the grassroots of both liberals and the left. Almost anyone under 40 supports a two party state (if not a Palestinian only solution) and old Democratic guard is out of luck. Sanders, Warren, Ellison etc have far more pull with the Democratic demographic than Dershowitz. Ellison is a smart choice for the demographic aligning with the Democrats.

    The Democratic demographic is urban,( which is black, hispanic, and well educated whites,) but needs more economic populism to succeed nationally ( i.e. in blue collar small cities). The added weight given to rural and lesser populated states along with gerrymandering allows the Republicans to compete and win but if the Democrats can motivate their base to vote, they will win. Thus, Republicans like to limit (or as they call it “protect) the franchise while the Democrats wish to make it as easy as possible to vote as the more people the greater chance the Democrats will win.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Mcmullen’s reply to Trump’s tweet
    To be clear, @realDonaldTrump is siding with America’s greatest adversary even as it attacks our democracy. Never grow desensitized to this.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. HRW, For years, I have wanted to limit the franchise. You probably remember how I supported a literacy test. Others on the right like Hannity and Limbaugh griped about “low information voters”. Trump has changed all that. Democrats can no longer take the “Ignorant Vote” for granted.

    Being a Republican is now like playing “Simon says”. Simon says tariffs are OK, so they are. Simon says don’t worry about Russian interference in our elections, so we won’t. Simon says your candidates can brag about sexual assaults and want to outspend Obama on infrastructure. The list goes on and on. These are strange times.


  10. The problem with a literacy test besides its unconstitutionality is the poll clerk — he or she could easily judge the preferences of a voter and then judge their literacy skills accordingly.

    Interestingly the term “low information voter” originated when Democrats used it to describe Republican voters who they perceive to vote against their interest. Limbaugh started to use to describe voters who simply lined up to vote Democratic without taking an interest in issues or doing their own research. Truth is both parties rely on low information voters — its a matter of grabbing the swing voters attention, positive or negative and not giving them information.


  11. The literacy test would be standardized and could be graded by the voting machine. It would consist of one question: an algebra word problem.


  12. No, I’m very serious. My paternal grandmother taught high school math for 25 years. My father hired engineers for the federal government under strong affirmative action mandates for twenty years. I tutored the University of Texas football team in accounting for three years. We know exactly who can and who can’t do math, even without reading The Bell Curve.

    Some say the plan is a deliberate attempt to disenfranchise the vast majority of Americans. I prefer to look at it as the only affirmative action plan that will ever benefit Asians.


  13. A good final look at the polls. The final national polls were only about 2 points off. The state polls in the upper Midwest were off by more.

    As Nate Silver was saying for weeks before the election, Hillary’s huge margins in California and New York made it unusually likely that she would win the popular vote and lose the Electoral College. He was exactly right. She won the popular vote by almost 3 million votes and still lost the Electoral vote by a fairly wide margin.


  14. They keep blaming the Russians, but they haven’t proved it. The much anticipated Joint Action Report on the matter has been released. It’s a joke that proves nothing.

    Not surprising that McMuffin would bash Trump. What’s surprising is that anyone cares what his opinion is.


    “Talk about disappointments. The US government’s much-anticipated analysis of Russian-sponsored hacking operations provides almost none of the promised evidence linking them to breaches that the Obama administration claims were orchestrated in an attempt to interfere with the 2016 presidential election.

    The 13-page report, which was jointly published Thursday by the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI, billed itself as an indictment of sorts that would finally lay out the intelligence community’s case that Russian government operatives carried out hacks on the Democratic National Committee, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and Clinton Campaign Chief John Podesta and leaked much of the resulting material. While security companies in the private sector have said for months the hacking campaign was the work of people working for the Russian government, anonymous people tied to the leaks have claimed they are lone wolves. Many independent security experts said there was little way to know the true origins of the attacks.
    Sadly, the JAR, as the Joint Analysis Report is called, does little to end the debate. Instead of providing smoking guns that the Russian government was behind specific hacks, it largely restates previous private-sector claims without providing any support for their validity. Even worse, it provides an effective bait and switch by promising newly declassified intelligence into Russian hackers’ “tradecraft and techniques” and instead delivering generic methods carried out by just about all state-sponsored hacking groups.

    “This ultimately seems like a very rushed report put together by multiple teams working different data sets and motivations,” Robert M. Lee, CEO and Founder of the security company Dragos, wrote in a critique published Friday. “It is my opinion and speculation that there were some really good government analysts and operators contributing to this data and then report reviews, leadership approval processes, and sanitation processes stripped out most of the value and left behind a very confusing report trying to cover too much while saying too little.”

    Well that’s to be expected when it’s a rushed report whose only goal is to blame Russia for Dem failures at the polls, and cast shade on the president elect. At least when they tried to sell the failed Iraq war they made it look good. Now they’re not even trying to make the case.


  15. Very interesting piece on the problems the Democrats have with religious voters



    There aren’t many people like Michael Wear in today’s Democratic Party. The former director of Barack Obama’s 2012 faith-outreach efforts is a theologically conservative evangelical Christian. He is opposed to both abortion and same-sex marriage, although he would argue that those are primarily theological positions, and other issues, including poverty and immigration, are also important to his faith.

    During his time working for Obama, Wear was often alone in many of his views, he writes in his new book, Reclaiming Hope. He helped with faith-outreach strategies for Obama’s 2008 campaign, but was surprised when some state-level officials decided not to pursue this kind of engagement: “Sometimes—as I came to understand the more I worked in politics—a person’s reaction to religious ideas is not ideological at all, but personal,” he writes.

    Several years later, he watched battles over abortion funding and contraception requirements in the Affordable Care Act with chagrin: The administration was unnecessarily antagonistic toward religious conservatives in both of those fights, Wear argues, and it eventually lost, anyway. When Louie Giglio, an evangelical pastor, was pressured to withdraw from giving the 2012 inaugural benediction because of his teachings on homosexuality, Wear almost quit.


    Wear: It shows not just ineptitude, but the ignorance of Democrats in not even pretending to give these voters a reason to vote for them. We also need to have a robust conversation about the support or allowance for racism, misogyny, and Islamophobia in the evangelical tradition.

    Many of those 81 percent are accommodating cultural changes in America that are deeply problematic. Liberals have been trying to convince Americans, and evangelicals in particular, that America is not a Christian nation. The 2016 election was evangelicals saying, “Yeah, you’re right! We can’t expect to have someone who is Christian like us. We can’t expect to have someone with a perfect family life. What we can expect is someone who can look out for us, just like every other group in this country is looking for a candidate who will look out for them.”

    There’s a lot of conversation in Christian circles about Jeremiah 29, which is Jeremiah’s letter to the exiles in Babylon. The message Jeremiah had, and that the Lord had, for the exiles is that they should seek the peace and prosperity of the city where they’ve been planted, and multiply—they should maintain their convictions for the flourishing of others. The concern I have, and that many others have, is that in this time of cultural transformation in America, you’re going to have many evangelicals who just become Babylonians. …

    … “It’s much easier to make people scared of evangelicals than trying to make an appeal to them.” …


  16. As I have said before, McMullin is now the primary spokesman for what used to be Republican positions or other rational positions opposed by The Emperor Wearing the New Clothes. I don’t always agree with McMullin but I respect his courage. He continues to draw the fire of Trumpkins. It is encouraging that someone on the Right is still willing to fight against the imbecile and his minions.


  17. Interesting article, DJ. I would argue that Jeffress and Little Falwell became Babylonians in the last election and that Michael Wear became a Babylonian when he went to work for Obama.


  18. The Democrats, for at least the last 40 years, have simply been a coalition of all the things that are wrong with America. No rational conservative Christian should ever have voted for Democrats during that period or at any point in the foreseeable future. The Republicans are now led by a charismatic con man, an amoral imbecile with no understanding of our Constitution, or the public policy issues that confront him. That is why McMullin is now important.


  19. McMullin is as unimportant today as he was at this time last year. That Republicans should think otherwise is merely an evidence that Democratic Clintonites do not have a monopoly on the derangement syndrome currently infecting public discourse. That’s a pity.


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