How Trump Won

This is amazing. A couple of college professors did an experiment where they recreated the 2016 debates with actors replicating the exact words and gestures of the candidates. But there was one twist: Trump was played by a woman and Clinton by a man. They wanted to see how sexism played into our perception of the debates.

Yeah, it’s not how you’re thinking:

We heard a lot of “now I understand how this happened”—meaning how Trump won the election. People got upset. There was a guy two rows in front of me who was literally holding his head in his hands, and the person with him was rubbing his back. The simplicity of Trump’s message became easier for people to hear when it was coming from a woman—that was a theme. One person said, “I’m just so struck by how precise Trump’s technique is.” Another—a musical theater composer, actually—said that Trump created “hummable lyrics,” while Clinton talked a lot, and everything she was was true and factual, but there was no “hook” to it. Another theme was about not liking either candidate—you know, “I wouldn’t vote for either one.” Someone said that Jonathan Gordon [the male Hillary Clinton] was “really punchable” because of all the smiling. And a lot of people were just very surprised by the way it upended their expectations about what they thought they would feel or experience. There was someone who described Brenda King [the female Donald Trump] as his Jewish aunt who would take care of him, even though he might not like his aunt. Someone else described her as the middle school principal who you don’t like, but you know is doing good things for you.

This reflects something I heard from a lot of my friends and family who supported Trump. All the pundits (including me) concluded that Trump’s debate performances were disastrous. And certainly there were times when he flailed badly. His grasp of facts was non-existent. Had this been a high-school debate team match, he would have lost.

But this wasn’t a high-school debate. This was two highly unlikable candidates trying to win our trust. And for all of Trump’s bumbling, he was straight-forward and had a clear message. Clinton had reams of policy details but no real message other than, as Dave Barry noted, “I’m a woman and I will fight for families or something”.

Here is a clip.

I always disliked Clinton and found her debate performances to be poor. I couldn’t understand how the media proclaimed her to be such a great politician and the clear winner of each debate. Having a male actor play her enhances my perception, driving home why I dislike her performance. She was smug, entitled and disconnected from ordinary concerns. It jumps a little more strongly when the opponent isn’t an asshole as well.

But what surprises me is how much this changes my perception of Trump. With his personal baggage removed, his message becomes much clearer. I still disagree with it but I can understand why it appealed to people and why many could overlook his personal/political/financial shortcomings.

There are caveats here: it’s only one experiment and could be entirely a result of the actor and actress chosen for the roles. Perhaps, with different actors, we would perceive it differently. But even with those caveats, I think it’s an astonishing result. It shows just how thick the liberal bubble was and just how much their perception of Clinton was shaded by their hatred of Trump and their heartfelt desire to see a woman become President. It really illustrates a point one Trump supporter made to me right before the election: if you took away Clinton’s gender, what was left? An ethically-dubious philosophically-muddled long-time political insider who couldn’t understand why the country was so angry.

The Plan is Out

Just a few quick thoughts since I’m frantically packing for the long trip back to the US.

The Republicans finally came out with their official Obamacare replacement plan. From what I can tell, it is basically Obamacare with more debt. It eliminates the insurance mandate tax, replacing it with hiked insurance rate for those who go without coverage — under the logic, I guess, that higher initial premiums will encourage the uninsured to buy insurance. It maintains the coverage mandate, which doesn’t work without a purchase mandate. It keeps the elimination of lifetime caps and coverage for those under 26. It also cuts off funding to Planned Parenthood. It’s basically all the popular stuff about Obamacare without all the unpopular stuff that pays for it.

There’s also no chance it will pass. The Senate is highly skeptical. A number of interest groups and conservative groups are already against it. The proposal is basically DOA.

And frankly, so is the Republican Party if they can’t do better than this. I didn’t think they could come up with something worse than Obamacare but they managed it.

(Note: the response from the Democrats is very illuminating. The overwhelming cry is, “THIS IS A TAX CUT FOR THE RICH!!!!” It’s astonishing how every Democratic policy and every political instinct revolves around soaking those evil rich people.)

And He Is Supposed To Be On Our Side

As mentioned before, the foot dragging exhibited by the dems re: cabinet and sub cabinet nominees is just shameful, and a more nimble deft GOP majority should have seen this coming and worked around it, they didn’t. But what is really bugging me is the snails pace we see our side in The Congress moving in implementing Trump’s core policy proposals. I am talking about just 2 here, tax relief and Obamacare;

1) Obamacare- Ryan’s A Path To Prosperity and A Better Way is old news, but it shows us they have been thinking about it. They have had 8 years to come up with a alternative, many congress critters are doctors, Tom Price is a doctor, they have had time to wrestle with options of repeal, alter, or replace entirely;

In the past few years, the House has voted more than 60 times to repeal or alter Obamacare, but Republicans had no hope a repeal would become law as long as Obama was president and could veto their bills.

OK, so they knew Nov. 7th that they were finally going to get their shot, time to put up or shut up. You would think, given all the ruminations about Obamacare imploding before our eyes, that on Jan. 20th, a well thought out workable plan, crafted and debated by those GOPers who were screaming ,”Put me in, coach”, would with bow attached, be sitting on Trump’s desk. Yet still we sit here, wondering if this golden opportunity of Republican majorities is going to be wasted.

2)Same with tax relief. Everyone was on the same page, essentially with slightly differing brackets, but what was not in dispute was the need for a corporate tax overall. Personally, I would have preferred this tackled before Obamacare replacement. Trump’s number one pledge was jobs and the economy, nothing would have ignited a resurgence in both more than a corporate tax cut, making us more competitive in world markets, that and repatriating American dollars held overseas back home at a discounted rate. This was job one. Even doing this now, then revisiting the individual rates after the Obamacare replacement bill, I could have lived with that. But now I hear that instead of getting any of this done by summer, it may now be 2018 and I don’t like it one bit. Trump has 2 years to put his agenda in place, we have the majorities now, and if he dicks around and waits until after midterms, who knows what numbers he will have then. Many Trump supporters (myself included) have little patience for dawdling. He said he was a deal maker, well, start dealing. If the Congress is wimping out, go over there and crack some heads.

Now, given the task at hand, you would think that Republicans would be laser like focused on moving their agenda forward, some aren’t;

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is proposing a federal law that would require all candidates for president to release their 1040 personal income tax returns, including President Donald Trump. But such a law should not survive a court challenge, because it would be unconstitutional.

What a good idea, lets spend valuable seated time and capital on stupid shit like this, what a moron, I guess he was sick those days in law school where they talked about the Constitution. Yes, Trump should release his tax returns, but that is not the issue here. A monumental task lies ahead with an anxious nation waiting for results, and he wants to spend his time on the periphery, pulling lint out of his naval and doing the opposition’s dirty work.

I would like to put both Lindsey Graham and Susan Collins on waivers, for a couple of draft choices to be determined at a later date.

Tapping Trump

So this happened:

President Trump on Saturday angrily accused former president Barack Obama of orchestrating a “Nixon/Watergate” plot to tap the phones at his Trump Tower headquarters last fall in the run-up to the election.

While citing no evidence to support his explosive allegation, Trump said in a series of four tweets sent Saturday morning that Obama was “wire tapping” his New York offices before the election in a move he compared to McCarthyism. “Bad (or sick) guy!” he said of his predecessor, adding that the surveillance resulted in “nothing found.”

This appears to be a result of internet telephone. Last summer, Louise Mensch revealed that the FBI (not Obama) has sought a FISA warrant to investigate members of Trump’s team’s ties to the Russians (this was after it was discovered that a server in Trump tower was communicating with Russian banks). The FISA Court rejected the initial warrant, then granted one more narrowly focused on four members of the Trump team. These details have been reported on many times. A few days ago, Mark Levin did one of his connect-the-dots pieces alleging a conspiracy to derail Trump. It showed up today on Breitbart and thus went into Trump’s brain.

If that’s all there is to it, Trump is being incredibly stupid here because he is reminding the public that his campaign staff were under investigation for espionage owing to credible accusations that they were working with the Russians to enable Trump’s election. If there’s more, then Trump needs to provide the evidence because warrantless wiretapping by Obama would indeed be a gigantic political scandal.

The Russia Follies, Chapter 58

The advantage of being on vacation is that I can watch an entire Trump news cycle play out before commenting on it. So it is with the latest Russia scandal. Apparently, Jeff Sessions, our Attorney General, denied meeting with the Russians during the campaign. But it has now been revealed that he met with the Russian Ambassador twice. Today has brought more revelations of unreported meetings and unreported business ties.

As is usually the case with revelations about this Administration’s contacts with Russia, it provoked an instant reaction of “Treason! Impeachment! Worse than Watergate!” followed by the refractory period of, “OK, we’ll look into it.” as more facts come out. For example, most of these contacts between Trump officials and the Russian ambassador took place at the RNC … at an event organized by the Obama Administration State Department.

A few things to unpack from this.

First, one of the big claims is that Sessions perjured himself in his testimony to Congress. Having thought about this for a while and read quite a bit of online commentary, I’m inclined to think he didn’t. There’s enough leeway in his answers that he can honestly say he didn’t discuss the campaign with Kislyak. One of the most hilarious figures in this mess is now Claire McCaskill. After she claimed to have never met the Russian ambassador, it took ten seconds for conservative Twitter to show that she had. Sessions may have forgotten these meetings or regarded their content as insignificant. His answers were problematic, no question. But sticking a charge of perjury on them requires a lot of facts that are not yet in evidence.

Questions of perjury aside, I agree with the calls for Jeff Sessions to recuse himself from the ongoing Russia investigation (after I drafted this, Sessions agreed to recuse himself). I also think Sessions needs to give a full account of his conversations with Kislyak to determine if he did perjure himself before Congress.

And I agree that there needs to be a full independent Congressional investigation into this matter. At minimum, we’re talking about members of the Administration potentially using their positions to advance their business interests. At worst, we’re talking about the subversion of Administration members by a foreign power. Even if you are a Trump supporter, you can not have this cloud hanging over him for the next four years. There is a tendency for partisans to hunker down and not want to “give in” to the other side. That’s a bad instinct. Bad for America. And frankly bad for Trump. Investigate now. Investigate fully. This isn’t some Daily Kos conspiracy theory any more.

(I suspect, incidentally, that the explanation here is closer to the “business interests” side of the spectrum than the “treason” side. The Trump Administration is filled with amateurs who have no idea how important disclosure is and filled with business people who have ties to Russia and potential conflicts of interests — all the way up to the President himself. If it were shown that the Administration is subverting American interests in favor of Russian ones, that would be one of the worst scandals in American political history. But I find that unlikely to be the case, especially with Sessions who is a notorious hawk on Russia.)

I’ll be honest. We’re a month and a half into the Trump years and I am frankly getting tired of this clown show with the Russians. This entire thing could have been avoided had Trump released his tax returns and disclosed his business interests (and not done his whole, “Putin, if you’re listening” routine). One thing that needs to come out of this is full financial disclosure from both the President and his advisors. Releasing tax returns can no longer be optional. And while we’re on it, we should make medical disclosure mandatory too. We don’t need another JFK hopped up on five kinds of prescription meds trying to navigate a potential nuclear war.

More Money for … What Exactly?

Donald Trump has now proposed a $54 billion increase in defense spending to be offset by as yet unspecified cuts in discretionary spending (supposedly from Foreign Aid, the EPA, etc. — the usual Republican bete noires. There’s a lot to unpack here even without specifics. National Review gets into the budget specifics, pointing out that Trump is already promising big tax cuts and infrastructure spending. Moreover, Trump is punting on the biggest budget issue: entitlements. On Twitter, my e-migo Kevin Wilson noted:

This is an important to keep in mind with EPA budget cuts. Without change to regulations (promised by Trump but not yet delivered), all EPA budget cuts will do is drag out paperwork cycles and prevent some laws from being actively enforced (laws that we might want to be enforced, e.g., lead restrictions).

However, our friend Thrill hits a very important point that seems to be being glossed over.

Trump is following Reagan by developing a stronger military, pursuing a nuclear arms race, and other policies. What was different with Reagan is that we knew who we were arming against, what was at stake, and what would be the horrible outcome of a war with them. A strong military had been a core US Cold War policy held by presidents in both parties from when Truman had to convince a reluctant, war weary nation to accept it.

What I can’t figure out is whether anyone believes that our gigantic, sophisticated, and well-trained military just isn’t already good enough compared to what’s out there in the world. Who exactly are we trying to deter?

Exactly. Ronald Reagan didn’t just increase military spending. He increased in specific ways to counter potential Soviet aggression. The arms buildup made a Soviet invasion of central Europe impossible, made their nuclear arsenal unwieldily and put them into a potential race for “Star Wars” that they couldn’t possibly win. Moreover, they had to try to keep up with a much weaker economy. In the end, the arms race bankrupted them. And the weapons systems developed in the 80’s were so effective than when we finally did get a face-off between Soviet and American weapons during the Gulf War, it was no contest. Those weapons are still with us today and still outclass almost everything in the world.

A military spending budget should not just be some amount we send to defense contractors. That’s what’s gotten us into the F-35 debacle. You need to start with a strategic vision and work forward from there. Maybe you find that we’re spending too much. Maybe you find we’re spending too little. Maybe (very likely) you find we’re spending on the wrong things. But you don’t just increase military spending to increase military spending. That’s DemocratThink: hope spending money solves problems, maybe even ones that don’t exist.

Finding A Place For Everyone

I work hard to keep my image (a curmudgeon who does not suffer fools easily, oh, and get off my lawn) intact. An orderly life, where right and wrong never share a latte, clearly defined parameters, no ambiguities, drawer for every item, and the rule of laws reigns supreme. Justice prevails, the good guy always finishes first, and we all call our moms once a week…..if only.

This is not another “zero tolerance” rant, although it is really stupid, but more often than not good old fashion common sense, applying the spirit of the law over the letter, allows for a more compassionate society ( I know, another word stolen co-opted by the left).

Meet Mack Beggs, Texas State champ, who happens to wrestle girls. Apologies for posting the entire WSJ article, but I found it the most fleshed out and you need a subscription to see the whole thing;

DALLAS—Mack Beggs, a star wrestler at Trinity High School near Fort Worth, has a new victory under his belt. On Saturday, he became the first transgender boy to win the girls state title in Texas.

Mack, who was born a female and is transitioning to a male through hormone therapy, is at the center of a controversy here over a Texas rule that requires high-school students to compete as the gender listed on their birth certificate.

The dispute comes as the 17-year-old capped off an undefeated season this year, in which he beat the 56 opponents he faced, each of them girls. And it has emerged just days after the Trump administration rescinded President Barack Obama’s guidelines that said schools should let transgender students use the bathrooms and facilities of their choice.

Texas has become a flashpoint for such issues. State lawmakers are considering a bill that would require transgender people to use bathrooms in public institutions, including public school districts, based on their biological sex. The proposal has spurred a firestorm of debate on both sides.

Mack’s mother, Angela Beggs, said, “Mack would like to compete against boys. He’s practiced very hard to get to this point.”

Despite Mack’s wishes though, the Texas rule, which went into effect in August, dictates he must compete as a girl.

It was passed by the University Interscholastic League, Texas’ governing authority for public-school sports. According to the group, 95% of league-member school superintendents voted in favor of the birth-certificate rule.

The family reached out to the league asking that Mack be allowed to wrestle with boys and were told the rule prevented him from doing so, Mack’s parents said. As a result, Mack hasn’t wrestled against boys in any official matches.

“It is not a clean, easy thing to deal with by any means,” said Cody Moree, a superintendent in Apple Springs Independent School District in East Texas. Mr. Moree voted for the rule but said he understood both sides of the issue.

“I would understand if this student was wrestling in the boys division and there were objections there as well,” he said.

Mack’s parents said their son has been taking hormone therapy since October 2015 to help him transition and stressed that he would much prefer to wrestle against other boys.

The fact that he is mandated to compete against girls has caused frustration among some parents and other female wrestlers.

League spokeswoman Kate Hector said two girls forfeited in Mack’s 110-pound weight class last week during a regional tournament rather than wrestle against him.

Pratik Khandelwal, whose daughter has wrestled Mack, said he is concerned about future wrestling matches between the two. “It’s not a matter of being transgender, it’s more of a fact that he’s taking testosterone…that could have an influence on the girls that he’s wrestling,” he said.

Jim Baudhuin, a father and attorney, unsuccessfully sought an injunction before the district and regional meets to prevent Mack from wrestling, according to the Associated Press. Mr. Baudhuin blames the league and its year-ago vote that passed the birth-certificates rule. He said he plans to pursue a lawsuit after the season is over because he envisions the same scenario next season, the AP said.

The league wouldn’t comment on the suit. The Hurst-Euless-Bedford Independent School District, where Trinity High School is located, said in a statement that the district would continue to follow league guidelines.

Chris Mosier, an advocate for transgender athletes who has competed on the U.S. Men’s Duathlon and Triathlon teams as a transgender man, said 40 states have some sort of policy on transgender high-school athletes. Some 16 allow high-school students to compete as the gender with which they identify, and 17 examine cases on an individual basis.

The remaining states, including Texas, require students to compete as the gender listed on their birth certificate or, in some instances, undergo hormone therapy or surgery.

“This is the first time I’ve heard of something like this happening. Mack is following the rules exactly as the rules are stated,” Mr. Mosier said. “Mack is a boy and should be competing against boys.”

In Texas’ case, the league noted in a statement that individuals can petition the court to amend their birth certificate, and the league would accept the change.

Mack’s stepfather Damon McNew said Mack was hurt by the fact that some girls didn’t want to wrestle against him. But he said his school, and the wrestling team, had been supportive of his situation.

At the Texas state championships this weekend, which took place in the Houston area, Mack won all four of his matches to take his weight class.

“He doesn’t want any competitive advantage,” Mr. McNew said. “All he wants to do is wrestle.”

A lot to unpack, here.

Totally separate from Obama’s transgender bathroom law (yeah, I know, “guidance’, still a massive overreach), it’s underpinnings can’t be ignored. Where ,”Men are men, and sheep are scared” Texas, men don’t go into women restrooms and they don’t compete against girls, and vice versa. The sex on the birth certificate dictates where you pee and who you wrestle.

Except that Mack is stuck in the middle, being forced to compete against girls, and no one is happy about it.

You would think that cooler heads would prevail here, accept the fact that Mack, by virtue of his male hormone therapy, is now essentially a boy and should compete as such.

The whole steroid debacle, chemically enhanced advantage over an opponent, has similarities here. Clearly his female opponents want no part of him since he has the strength of a male, where is the equity in that?

Allowing those “not alike” to compete is not foreign to sports. Junior tennis players can always “play up”, play at a higher age bracket, but never down. Same with wrestlers and boxers, you can always play up, compete at a higher weight class. The same analogy can be used here, allowing girls who are transitioning to boys and who are taking hormone therapy should be allowed to wrestle boys, but not girls. I admit that the reverse can be tricky , allowing boys into girls to compete against girls, but this can be resolved by the simple physical, if she looks like Arnold in his prime, maybe another year of hormone therapy is in order.

I get that you can’t please everyone, and parents’s living vicariously through their kid’s sports endeavors are the worst, but Mack beating every girl in the state satisfies nobody. The article mentions a simple fix of amending the birth certificate. If this is a simple procedure and Mack’s parents are reluctant, this speak volumes as to a competitive edge he keeps telling us he doesn’t want.

The Hell?

I wasn’t watching; just following on Twitter. But in a year which saw one of the greatest teams of all time blow a 3-1 NBA finals lead, saw the Indians blow a 3-1 World Series lead, saw Hillary Clinton blow the most winnable election in history, saw an astonishing upset in the BCS title game and saw … sigh … my Falcons blow an unprecedented Super Bowl lead, La La Land not only lost the Oscar they’d been guaranteed for two months but lost it in astonishing, humiliating fashion.

Honestly, the idea that we’re living in a simulation grows more likely every day.

DWS Out, Perez In

I have no idea if Tom Perez will be an effective leader of the DNC. I suspect he will continue to lead the Democrats on their path of condescending ineffectual liberalism. But it would be hard for him to do worse than his predecessor, Debbie-Wasserman Schultz. Known in these parts as Ms. Verbal Diarrhea, DWS became a punchline of conservative blogs for her frequent idiotic and smug statements. With a popular two-term President at her side, she led the Democrats to electoral disaster after electoral disaster, culminating in a humiliating defeat to a semi-sentient yam who lost the popular vote. She put her thumb on the scale to favor one of the worst Presidential candidates in American history, alienating half her party in the process. She was really good at raising money from special interests. And really terrible at translating that into a functional opposition.

I have little hope that the Democrats will turn aside from the big government path they’ve been on since … forever. But maybe they can become a functional opposition party instead of an hysterical incoherent mass of demands.

Update: Walter Olson throws some cold water on the idea that Perez is a moderate:

Perez didn’t give off much of an impression of moderation in the Obama cabinet, however, where he was a leading symbol of regulatory lawlessness, hauled up repeatedly by the courts for trampling employers’ rights. See, for example, Gate Guard (Fifth Circuit describes conduct of DoL as “vindictive,” “indefensible,” “bad faith”), the we-know-where-you-live “persuader” rule (blasted by ABA, enjoined by judge), and of course mid-level overtime (enjoined by judge). More: Dan McLaughlin (Perez’s manipulation of fair housing litigation); John Fund (hiring practices at DoJ civil rights division).

I’ve written about the DoL’s terrible overtime rule before.

Tipping Point

Living the life of a pseudo victim is such a lazy way to live. Not only is it self defeating; I am a victim, ergo I am unable to prosper on my own so it is incumbent for me to declare my victim-hood,establishing my marker, assuming it is not self evident, and take whatever is offered to me by way of compensation that society owes me………….because I am a victim. Removing all responsibility (The Man has his boot on my neck) I have no potential to live up to, here’s is my opened hand, fill it with stuff.

Several times of late I have posted links to websites who’s basic function is to catalog phony made up hate crimes, here is one, here is another, here is one more, I could post half a dozen others. You would think that not one racist exists, anywhere, since each one of these incidents usually turns out to be bogus after a few days of investigating. And my standard complaint about these fictional made up to perpetuate a stereotype of dubious nature fairy tales is that nothing ever happens to the hoakser. I guess the collective sigh of relief that it didn’t really happen as depicted drowns out the culpability of the liar and retribution that society should enact in a more just world.

So here is the latest (probably not latest since in the time it takes to post this, I’m sure a new one has surfaced) cry for attention;

A black waitress who received thousands of dollars in donations after she claimed she received a racist note and no tip from a patron last month fabricated the incident, the customer claims.

Kelly Carter, a waitress at Anita’s New Mexico Cafe in Ashburn, Va., claimed that a white man stiffed her on his $30.52 restaurant bill and wrote “Great service, don’t tip black people” at the bottom of his receipt.

But the note was forged, says Daniel Hebda, a lawyer for the customer.

Hebda said in a statement Friday that his client did leave Carter a small tip — one penny — because her service was poor, not because she is black.

We’ll talk about the cheesy tip in a moment. A black waitress writes something racist on her receipt, how do we know she did it:

Though Carter’s story went viral, there were some early indications that her claim did not quite add up. For one, the receipt she posted online was printed several hours after Anita’s New Mexico Cafe closed. The receipt also bore markings showing that it was a reprint of an original receipt.

But when circumstances, even made up circumstances fit the narrative, it’s Katy bar the door;

“I was appalled, though it’s kind of in line with the political landscape,” Tellez said at the time.

Ha, another leftie talking out of his ass, is he referring to a Trump win as somehow turning our society into racists? Like I would ever eat in his dopey restaurant after that.

So now duped customers are giving her cash and an NAACP rep started a gofundme account for this poor woman.

Here are the questions; does this woman get fired? (or course not, victims are allowed to lie on occasion, the perks of the status) What happens to the online money in the account? She gets to keep that, since with progressives it’s all about feeling good, the donators would want her to have it, because she is a victim and all that.

Now let’s talk about the tip, what a douchewagon. If the service is genuinely bad (not the fault of the cook, or because they are super busy) then speak to the manager. Some people are not cut out to be service workers. I also factor in the time spent of her shift (you can tell by the bounce in her step, if there is one). Since waiters rely on their tips for income, I’m willing to overlook a lot. But the bad ones (you know who they are), do the restaurant and future customers a favor and let the manager know, and give them tip anyway, unless your food never ever comes (happened to me, more than once). Leaving a penny as a tip only makes you look bad.