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Obama Smacked Down. Yes, Again.

The Supreme Court split 4-4 on United States v. Texas. This lets stand the lower court ruling that invalidated Obama’s attempt to do immigration reform by executive fiat. And it really should have been 8-0.

I support immigration reform. I also support doing it through Congress, as the Constitution mandates. If Obama has the executive power to rewrite immigration law, so will Trump.

No, Clinton is Not Inevitable

With Trump falling in the polls, his unfavorable numbers an all-time high and Clinton enjoying a huge money advantage, it would appear that the Donald’s campaign is in deep trouble. There are already people sticking a fork in him and Democrats dreaming of an electoral landslide and a capture of both houses of Congress.

This is way way way premature.

Look, I’m not saying this couldn’t end in an electoral massacre. I’ve put up several posts worrying about that possibility myself. But the idea that Trump is inevitably doomed and the only variables are just how badly the Republicans will be shellacked is ridiculous. There are four and a half months left of this campaign. Four and a half awful, interminable, grinding …

Ugh …. give me a second here.

Anyway, there are numerous reasons why Trump could make this close or even win:

  • The GOP is unlikely to allow the bad money situation to continue. There are simply too many people out there who want to contribute to the GOP for the money gap to persist.
  • The funding gap matters; it is not the end of the world. Money is important in politics: it’s how you buy ads, it’s how you get out the vote, it’s how you expand the ground game to get votes from people who aren’t political junkies. But money is not destiny. During Scott Walker’s re-election campaign, he was outspent massively. He still won.
  • We have an electoral system and the GOP has certain advantages. There are states that comprise a red wall that the Democrats are unlikely to take no matter how poorly the GOP candidate does. And, in the end, electoral college votes are what matter. If Clinton wins New York by three million votes and Trump wins Texas by one, Trump is still ahead. (That having been said, some alarming state polls are emerging, including a close race in Utah). Trump doesn’t need 50% of the votes. He just needs 50% of the electoral college.
  • Hillary Clinton is no Barack Obama. You have probably heard that Trump is the most unpopular Presidential candidate ever. The second most unpopular, however, is Hillary Clinton. Right now, she’s riding a wave from having clinched the nomination (just as Trump did). Eventually, people will remember that she’s Hillary Clinton. And the race will tighten.
  • The e-mail scandal is still hanging over Clinton. I don’t think she will be indicted even if she did commit a crime. This Administration has amply demonstrated that laws are for plebs, not elites. But there’s a reason Bernie Sanders isn’t packing it in. It turns out that he cares very much about Clinton’s damned e-mails after all.
  • The economy has shown signs of weakening. If we enter a recession later this year, that will hurt Clinton badly.
  • The news cycle … well, cycles. Trump has been hitting a wave of bad press recently — Judge Curiel, Orlando, Trump University, etc. Clinton, meanwhile, has been keeping her nose clean. This could reverse very quickly. Clinton is very good at screwing up and throwing away advantages. And she’s got 25 years of baggage. Watch the news regarding the Clinton Foundation. That could become a very big thing this summer.

I still think Clinton is going to win. But I don’t think it’s inevitable and I don’t think it’s going to be an historic blowout. There are simply too many balancing factors baked into our electoral system and this particular election to make that likely. It’s not impossible and I, for one, will be stocking up alcohol for election night. But it’s unlikely.

Of course, the gripping hand is that this election should be a slam dunk for the GOP. Their candidate should be leading by ten points right now. Paul Ryan should be smiling in his sleep, dreaming of what he could do with a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. But the GOP mainstream rallied behind an extremely poor Bush III and the voters went with the angry cheeto. So here we are.

Gun Grabbing Fails

The Democrats filibustered the Senate until they got a vote on four gun control measures yesterday. All four failed:

Senators couldn’t muster enough bipartisan support to pass a series of gun control measures Monday, the latest in a long string of failed attempts at enacting tighter curbs on firearms in the United States.

Spurred by the worst mass shooting in U.S. history, senators from each party introduced the measures they said would have strengthened background checks and prevented suspected terrorists from obtaining weapons.

But tough election year politics, paired with disputes over the effectiveness of each party’s ideas, proved too powerful to break the longstanding partisan gridlock that’s surrounded gun issues for years.

The result was expected. A fifth option, set to be introduced and voted upon as early as Tuesday by moderate Republican Sen. Susan Collins, has generated more optimism, but still faces long odds at passage.

Sen. Chris Murphy, a Connecticut Democrat who sponsored one of the failed measures expanding background checks, reacted angrily after his provision was defeated.

“I’m mortified by today’s vote but I’m not surprised by it,” Murphy said Monday evening. “The NRA has a vice-like grip on this place.”

No, it really doesn’t. What has a grip on Congress is a fleeting minimal respect for due process of law. It wasn’t just the NRA that opposed this. The ACLU vehemently opposed it because the ACLU, unlike the Democrats, sees the danger in restricting basic civil liberties for “potential terrorists” through secret and nebulous FBI criteria.

The Collins bill is a little better in that it would only use the “no-fly” list. But even that list is secretive, vague and almost impossible to challenge. The Democrats know this because they’ve been complaining about that list for years. What’s more, they exposed those years of complaining as political opportunism, not genuine concern about civil liberties. Provisions were offered to reform the terror watch list, to make the process more transparent and to make it easier for people to challenge their placement on the list. The Democrats refused because they really don’t want a gun control law as much as they want a gun control issue for the election.

Remember when not compromising to get legislation passed was a sign of evil Republican unreasonableness and partisanship? Good times.

And just in case you thought the Democrats were the voice of reason here:

If I said opposing the Patriot Act empowered terrorists or opposing torture empowered terrorists or closing Gitmo empowered terrorists or ending mass surveillance empowered terrorists, Democrats would have a fit. But apparently it’s OK to say your opponents are terrorists when it’s gun control.

It’s kind of amazing the philosophical flim-flam the Democrats have pulled off here. As Lucy Steigerwald pointed on Twitter, passing gun laws is now considered an apolitical act, just “common sense”. The only people who “play politics” are those who oppose such laws.

The War on [Omitted]

What the actual hell?

In an interview with NBC’s Chuck Todd, Attorney General Loretta Lynch says that on Monday, the FBI will release edited transcripts of the 911 calls made by the Orlando nightclub shooter to the police during his rampage.

“What we’re not going to do is further proclaim this man’s pledges of allegiance to terrorist groups, and further his propaganda,” Lynch said. “We are not going to hear him make his assertions of allegiance [to the Islamic State].”

The Obama Administration did indeed release redacted transcripts of the 911 call, with references to ISIS and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi replaced with “[omitted]”. After relentless and brutal mockery in both traditional and social media, they reversed course and released the unredacted transcripts last night.

I have no idea what Lynch was thinking. You can see the unredacted transcript at the link and, really, it’s trivial stuff. It’s just the names of people we are effectively at war with. I’ve read what Lynch said. I’ve watched the video. And it still have no idea what she’s on about. Do they really think some terrorist’s decision about whether or not to kill a bunch of people is conditional on him hearing the name ISIS? Is ISIS like Beetlejuice? If we say their name three times, a terrorist get an AR-15?

I don’t think there’s any deep conspiracy here. This is just another case of the Obama Administration trying to look smarter than it is. I’m sure when they discussed this, some Ivy League idiot came up with this notion and they all thought it made them some really smart (since actually being smart about terrorism seems a bit beyond their capabilities). But once it got out, the rest of the country sad, “Huh? What?! That makes no sense.”

Another Day, Another Trumpocalypse

If there is a difference between the campaign Trump is running and one designed to destroy the GOP and give the Democrats enough numbers to pass their dream agenda, I have yet to see it.

Assuming, for the moment, that Trump is earnestly trying to win this thing, it’s a good illustration of the difference between someone saying, “Hey, I should be President!” and actually being President. Being President means watching what you say because politics is stupid but real. It means compromising with people who don’t agree with you 100% and want some of the credit for themselves. It means cobbling together coalitions. And yes, it means calling up rich people and raising metric tons of money.

Best of Lee: Brownie Moment

This was one of my favorite Leeisms:

I’d like to take a moment to coin a new phrase: Brownie Moment. A Brownie moment can be defined simply as the moment when a supporter of President Bush is smacked in the head by reality and loses any and all faith in the president from that moment forward. As you may have surmised the term comes from Bush’s recent comment regarding former FEMA head Michael Brown’s leadership in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, “Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job.”

This was my Brownie moment. I understand that in the world of politics leaders often have to say things they don’t mean, or shake hands with dictators and scumbags, and do a lot of morally repugnant stuff. But when Bush said that I realized that after surveying the impotent, incompetent response of the federal government he truly, honestly believed that Brownie was doing a heck of a job. That sealed it for me. I’d been turning sour on Bush for a while, but I was still generally supportive of him. When I heard him make that remark, however, that was it. That was my Brownie moment.

I bring this up in light of the Miers nomination. There are a whole lot of head-scratching Republicans gazing at each other wondering what the hell just happened. Could Bush really have nominated this woman to the Supreme Court? Yes, my friends, he just did. I imagine there are a whole lot of conservatives out there today who have just had their very own Brownie moment.

I bring this up because it seems like a lot of Republicans are having “Trumpie Moments”. A lot of Republicans have been endorsing Donald Trump. This is not unusual, of course, parties endorse their nominees. Duh. But it’s come under extra scrutiny this year because Trump is not an ordinary candidate. He’s brash. He’s politically incorrect. The things he says are controversial and often have no relationship with the truth. He contradicts himself, sometimes in mid-sentence.

But Republicans have still endorsed him. Partly because they don’t want to be told what to do by the elite media. Partly because they see defeating Hillary as the most important thing in this election. Partly because they’re hoping he’ll become more Presidential as time goes on. Partly because they think this is an act and he’ll either govern moderately or just rubber stamp their legislation. And partly because they genuinely support him.

But with Trump’s poll numbers plunging, his tone not moderating, a bad money situation developing in the RNC, new polls indicating the House and Senate may be at risk, and indications that Trump is already planning a post-election TV network, a lot of Republicans are backing away from their endorsements or saying they won’t support him. Larry Hogan, Richard Armitage, Rick Snyder, John Kasich, Mark Kirk and Fred Upton are the most prominent names of what is becoming a stampede.

I think a lot of people are having “Trumpie Moments” right now. They’re realizing that his caustic tone isn’t an act, it’s who he is. They’re realizing that he’s bringing the same financial disaster to the RNC that he brought to his businesses. It’s getting so bizarre — Trump is apparently wanting to push hard in traditional blue states like California, rather than swing states like Ohio — that some people are openly wondering if he’s tanking the election. There’s enough defection right now, that Gary Johnson is polling in the low 10’s. If he gets to 15%, he’ll get into the debates (in theory; I suspect the media will find an excuse to keep him out).

This is bad. We can deal with President Clinton and a Republican Congress. But we can’t deal with President Clinton and a Democratic Congress. There’s four and a half months to go and a lot can happen. I make absolutely no predictions. But a year ago, I thought the Republicans would easily sweep this election and get another chance to be conservative. Now, we’re looking at the possible total crackup of the GOP and a Democratic sweep.

And yeah, I know some people are going to say that’s great, that the GOP needs to be burned down. These people are fools. I’ve quoted Charles Cooke before but it’s worth quoting again:

But the idea that it hasn’t effectively and consistently opposed President Obama’s agenda is little more than a dangerous and ignorant fiction. Had the GOP not been standing in the way — both from 2008, when it was in the minority everywhere, and from 2010, when it regained the House — the United States would look dramatically different than it does today. Without the GOP manning the barricades, Obamacare could well have been single payer, and, at the very least, the law would have included a “public option.” Without the GOP manning the barricades, we’d have seen a carbon tax or cap-and-trade — or both. Without the GOP manning the barricades, we’d have got union card check, and possibly an amendment to Taft-Hartley that removed from the states their power to pass “right to work” exemptions. Without the GOP standing in the way, we’d now have an “assault weapons” ban, magazine limits, background checks on all private sales, and a de facto national gun registry. And without the GOP standing in the way in the House, we’d have got the very amnesty that the Trump people so fear

I would add, as I noted before, that Obama wanted to spend $2.5 trillion that the GOP refused to spend, including $700 billion in 2015 alone.

It’s scary what Hillary Clinton would do, pulled to the far Left by Bernie Sanders and unfettered by a GOP Congress. The White House may or may not be a lost cause. As I said, we’ve got four months left. But the House and Senate are not lost causes. And the GOP needs to go all out protecting them. And any conservative or libertarian who values divided government should get on board.

Assassination in the UK

Awful:

Investigators are searching for answers a day after British politician Jo Cox was killed in a brazen attack on the street in her district in northern England.

Cox, a member of Parliament, was stabbed and shot Thursday in Birstall after a meeting with constituents, the Press Association reported, citing witnesses, in an attack that has shocked a nation with tight gun laws.

A local official briefed by police told CNN that the gunman “lay in wait” for Cox before the attack.

Police have arrested Tommy Mair in connection with the case, the Press Association reported. There is no clear indication of a motive, but details are emerging that Mair had an interest in white supremacy.

Cox, a 41-year-old mother of two, was an avid campaigner for the rights of refugees. Her death comes a week before a crucial referendum on whether Britain should stay in the European Union, and she was an open supporter of remaining in the bloc.

I haven’t commented on the Brexit referendum because, frankly, I don’t know enough about the issue. It seems likely this was connected but we’ll wait until more details come out.

Quick Hit

I told you food deserts was bullshit. But that didn’t stop the feds and states from spending hundreds of millions of dollars trying to force poor people to eat better.

As Ta-Nehisi said, junk food is one of the few vices the poor can afford without wrecking their lives. And the working poor — those trying to drag themselves up against the raging torrent of liberal policies keeping them poor — fast food is sometimes all they have time for. The idea of getting poor people to go down to grocery store and buy lots of organic kale was always an arrogant classist idea; rich busybodies talking down to working folk. But don’t expect their utter failure to deter them.

It never does.

PETA Dumb

There’s dumb. There’s stupid. There’s idiotic. And then there’s PETA:

(#StateofWomen refers to the White Houses’s State of Women summit which, as far as I can tell, is designed to advance a left wing agenda by claiming it’s a feminist one.)

Here’s a little peek at how I write. I do a lot of my writing while doing other stuff: working, cleaning up the house, looking after kids, swimming (especially swimming). By that I don’t mean I’m actively blogging when I’m supposed to be doing my job. I mean that, while I’m working or bathing Hal 11000 Beta or whatever, stuff is bubbling away in the back of my mind. A blog post, a news event or a tweet stews back there, with thoughts accumulating around it. And then at some point, usually in the evening after the kids are passed out, I write out most of a blog post.

Twitter often works the same way. Sometimes I respond instantly to things. Other times, I’ll read something, think about it while I’m doing stuff and then comment during a break in the action. I’ve learned, with both blogging and tweeting, not to force things but to let my ideas ease out on their own — kind of like taking a particularly hard dump (cue jokes about my writing style).

With this PETA quote, though, I was stumped. I would think of something funny to say and then I’d realize it wasn’t as funny as what PETA had originally tweeted. And then I’d think of a snide remark and realize it didn’t mock the tweet as well as it mocked itself. What can you say about someone who doesn’t see a moral difference between a human being and the vicious, dirty (but delicious) creatures that are chickens? In the end, all I could do was retweet it and let its idiocy stand for itself.

This is close to the platonic ideal of a stupid tweet. Anthropologists will study it for years to explore the idiocy. It’s kind of miraculous, really.