Saturday, December 24, 2016

The Pros and Cons of the Electoral College

American Thinker ^ | December 24, 2016 | Michael Curtis 

Politics is a game, in some ways akin to football. A win depends on how many points are on the official scoreboard, not on how many yards have been covered.
For a stable society to exist or a game to be successful, certain rules must be followed. They may be simple or complex, few or many, handed down orally or through a complex code, but they underlie a structured order.
Adherence to that structure is essential even in politics, which is an ongoing process with no eternal answers. It is natural in politics that conclusions and procedures once generally accepted are inevitably subject to change. As Thomas Jefferson wrote in his letter of September 6, 1789 to James Madison, "[n]o society can make a perpetual constitution or even a perpetual law."
The presidential election just held raises the issue of the usefulness of the Electoral College (E.C.) in the U.S. today. Many Democrats, including the largely Democratic media, comprising ardent Clinton supporters disappointed in her defeat, have called for a change in the U.S. Constitution and specifically the E.C., since Donald Trump's election to the presidency of the U.S.
The 2016 election took on highly unusually emotional overtones in support of the different candidates. Questioning the authority of the E.C. seems to be a continuation of that emotion rather than a rational proposal. As such, it borders on breaking the official rules of the existing system.
The issue of the case for and the validity of political or social disobedience has always been present in life and in literature. Questions arise about whether it is morally or politically right to disobey and refuse to accept the existing rules
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As Obama accomplished policy goals, his party floundered

Associated Press ^ | Dec 24, 2016 9:52 AM EST | Lisa Lerer 

In boasting about his tenure in the White House, President Barack Obama often cites numbers like these: 15 million new jobs, a 4.9 percent unemployment rate and 74 months of consecutive job growth.

There’s one number you will almost never hear: More than 1,030 seats.
That’s the number of spots in state legislatures, governor’s mansions and Congress lost by Democrats during Obama's presidency.

It’s a statistic that reveals an unexpected twist of the Obama years: The leadership of the one-time community organizer and champion of ground-up politics was rough on the grassroots of his own party. When Obama exits the White House, he’ll leave behind a Democratic Party that languished in his shadow for years and is searching for itself. …
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Everyone should be treated with respect — unless you’re a Republican!

The New York Post ^ | December 22, 2016 | Karol Markowicz 

’Tis the season to spread joy and cheer — unless you’re a liberal still bitter about the election.

Thursday, Ivanka Trump and her family were accosted by Dan Goldstein, a lawyer from Brooklyn, who yelled at her that her father, who has yet to take office, was “ruining the country.” It wasn’t a spontaneous outburst. Goldstein’s husband had tweeted from the JetBlue terminal at JFK Airport that Goldstein was “chasing” Ivanka and her family to “harass” them.
“Why is she on our flight? She should be flying private,” Goldstein reportedly shouted when he saw them on the plane and allegedly engaged with her children as well. Goldstein and his husband were removed from the plane, with Goldstein complaining that he was merely “expressing his opinion.”
The last few years, we’ve seen the creation of safe spaces, though they’re usually for protecting fragile leftists from disagreeable thoughts and arguments. Lunatic men badgering women on planes in front of their kids apparently is fair play — if that mother is related to a Republican you don’t like.
The irony, of course, is that Ivanka Trump is someone liberals should be thankful to have in the incoming president’s inner circle. She’s certainly no partisan right-winger, and in fact has thus far during the transition been taking point on issues like climate change (she even met with Al Gore) and paid family leave. Why the rage at her?
The Trump hate has gone around the bend when the family of the president-elect is gleefully harassed....
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Top Ex-White House Economist Admits 94% Of All New Jobs Under Obama Were Part-Time!

Zero Hedge ^ | 12-23-2016 | Tyler Durden 

Just over six years ago, in December of 2010, we wrote "Charting America's Transformation To A Part-Time Worker Society", in which we predicted - and showed - that in light of the underlying changes resulting from the second great depression, whose full impacts remain masked by trillions in monetary stimulus and soon, perhaps fiscal, America is shifting from a traditional work force, one where the majority of new employment is retained on a full-time basis, to a "gig" economy, where workers are severely disenfranchised, and enjoy far less employment leverage, job stability and perks than their pre-crash peers. It also explains why despite the 4.5% unemployment rate, which the Fed has erroneously assumed is indicative of job market at "capacity", wage growth not only refuses to materialize, but as we showed yesterday, the growth in real disposable personal income was the lowest since 2014.

When we first penned our article, it was dubbed "fringe" tinfoil hattery, or in the latest vernacular, "fake news."
Fast forward 6 years, when a report by Harvard and Princeton economists Lawrence Katz and Alan Krueger, confirms exactly what we warned. In their study, the duo show that from 2005 to 2015, the proportion of Americans workers engaged in what they refer to as “alternative work” soared during the Obama era, from 10.7% in 2005 to 15.8% in 2015. Alternative, or "gig" work is defined as "temporary help agency workers, on-call workers, contract company workers, independent contractors or freelancers", and is generally unsteady, without a fixed paycheck and with virtually no benefits.

The two economists also found that each of the common types of alternative work increased from 2005 to 2015—with the largest changes in the number of independent contractors and workers

(Excerpt) Read more at ...

Obama, Kerry behind 'shameful' U.N. settlement vote: Israeli official

Reuters ^ | December 23, 2016 | By Maayan Lubell 

JERUSALEM--U.S. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry are behind a "shameful" draft anti-settlement resolution at the U.N. Security Council, a senior Israeli government official said on Friday.
It was one of the harshest personal attacks by the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Obama, coming in the final days of his presidency. The two leaders have had an acrimonious relationship.
"President Obama and Secretary Kerry are behind this shameful move against Israel at the UN," said the official, who asked not to be identified.
"The U.S. administration secretly cooked up with the Palestinians an extreme anti-Israeli resolution behind Israel's back which would be a tailwind for terror and boycotts. . ."
(Excerpt) Read more at ...

Mormon Choir On Trump Inauguration: We Will Perform Despite Opposition

The Daily Caller ^ | 3:42 PM 12/23/2016 | KATIE JERKOVICH 

Pressure is mounting on the famed Mormon Tabernacle Choir to not perform at president-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration ceremony in January, but the choir is not backing down.

In a Friday statement to The Daily Caller, the choir responded to an online petition that wants to the choir not to sing at Trump’s inauguration. The statement said while the group has received “mixed reactions,” it will still perform for the 58th Inauguration in Washington, D.C. just as it has done in the past. (RELATED: Mormon Tabernacle Choir Agrees To Perform At Trump Inauguration)
The Mormon Tabernacle Choir and church leaders sing together in the Conference Center during the 186th Annual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints on April 2, 2016 in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images
“Response to the announcement has been mixed, with people expressing both opposition and support,” the statement read. “The Choir’s participation continues its long tradition of performing for U.S. Presidents of both parties at Inaugurations and in other settings, and is not an implied support of party affiliations or politics. It is a demonstration of our support for freedom, civility and the peaceful transition of power.”
By Friday afternoon, the petition had garnered more than 7,400 signatures demanding that the group back out because if they perform, it “sends the wrong message to [Mormon] children” about a president-elect’s “words and actions” that they claim do not align with their values.
Sponsored Content 20 Horrifying Photos From The Vietnam War 20 Horrifying Photos From The Vietnam War LifeDaily 93% Of Americans Can't Pass This U.S. History Quiz. Can You? 93% Of Americans Can't Pass This U.S. History Quiz. Can You? Offbeat Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Models Hannah Davis, Chrissy Teigen, And Nina Agdal Get Extreme DirecTV Makeovers Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Models Hannah Davis, Chrissy Teigen, And Nina Agdal Get Extreme DirecTV Makeovers Fast Company Sponsored Links by “We, as signers of this petition, believe that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ decision to allow the Mormon Tabernacle Choir to perform at the upcoming presidential inauguration of Donald Trump DOES NOT reflect the values of Mormonism and does not represent its diverse 15+ million members worldwide,” a statement on the petition read. “We also believe that an official LDS organization performing at a presidential inauguration gives the perception that the LDS Church and its diverse 15+ million members worldwide support an incoming president’s agenda, values and behaviors. ”
“The Church’s participation will harm this spectacularly talented and beloved choir’s image, misrepresent the diversity of Mormons worldwide, and sends the wrong message to LDS children as they will perceive the Church’s participation as endorsement of a president whose words and actions do not align with our values.”
On Thursday, a statement on the choir’s website confirmed it would be performing, just as it had for numerous other presidential inaugurations.
“At the request of the U.S. Presidential Inauguration Committee, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir has accepted an invitation to sing at the swearing-in ceremony during the presidential inauguration at the U.S. Capitol next month in Washington, D.C,” the choir announced in a statement. “This performance will mark the sixth time the Mormon Tabernacle Choir has sung at an inauguration.”

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MSG Says Rockettes Make Choice to Perform at Trump Inaugural (Union rules boycott 'invalid')

Hollywood Reporter ^ | 1:46 PST 12/23/2016 | by Abid Rahman 

The union representing the famed Radio City troupe ruled any boycott of the Jan. 20 event as "invalid" and that all full-time dancers were "obligated" to work. Team Trump's preparations for the presidential inauguration descended into further drama on Thursday when a dancer from the Radio City Rockettes took to social media to express her disappointment in having to perform at the Jan. 20 event and further aired her fear of losing her job if she refused to do so.

Already struggling to attract top talent, the president-elect's inauguration team added two more acts to the roster on Thursday, announcing the Rockettes and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, who will join America's Got Talent star Jackie Evancho on the D.C. stage.
Not long after MSG Entertainment, owners of the Rockettes, confirmed their participation, dancer Phoebe Pearl posted a now-deleted message on her personal Instagram account to express her embarrassment and disappointment.
Donald Trump READ MORE Trump Doesn't Want "A List" Celebs at His Inauguration Pearl said: "I usually don’t use social media to make a political stand but I feel overwhelmed with emotion. Finding out that it has been decided for us that Rockettes will be performing at the Presidential inauguration makes me feel embarrassed and disappointed. The women I work with are intelligent and are full of love and the decision of performing for a man that stands for everything we’re against is appalling. I am speaking for just myself but please know that after we found out this news, we have been performing with tears in our eyes and heavy hearts. We will not be forced! #notmypresident”
The union representing the Rockettes, the American Guild of Variety Artists, also ruled any planned boycott of the inauguration by the dancers was "invalid" according to an email seen by BroadwayWorld. The AGVA email, reportedly written by a high ranking union administrator, went on to say that dancers that "are not full time, [do not] not have to sign up to do this work. If you are full time, you are obligated."
James Dolan, executive chairman of The Madison Square Garden Company of which the Rockettes are part, said in announcing the performance: "The Radio City Rockettes, an original American brand, have performed at Radio City Music Hall since 1932 and, as treasured American icons, have taken part in some of the nation’s most illustrious events such as Super Bowl halftime shows, Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parades and presidential inaugurations, including in 2001 and 2005. We are honored that the Rockettes have again been asked to perform in the upcoming inauguration festivities.”
THR reached out to Madison Square Garden Company for further comment and on Friday, the company released a follow-up statement, saying "it is always their choice" to perform.
"The Radio City Rockettes are proud to participate in the 58th Presidential Inaugural," read the statement. "For a Rockette to be considered for an event, they must voluntarily sign up and are never told they have to perform at a particular event, including the inaugural. It is always their choice. In fact, for the coming inauguration, we had more Rockettes request to participate than we have slots available. We eagerly await the inaugural celebrations."
Irving Azoff READ MORE Music Manager Irving Azoff: I Have No "Official" Role in Trump's Inauguration According to a Dec. 8 report in the New York Times, the inauguration festivities are being overseen by Apprentice producer Mark Burnett. Colony Capital CEO Thomas Barrack, Laurie Perlmutter (wife of Marvel chairman Ike Perlmutter) and casino mogul Steve Wynn are all serving on Trump's presidential inaugural committee.
The latest drama over the inauguration line-up came hours after Trump took to Twitter to claim that A-list celebrities were falling over themselves to get tickets to the event. “The so-called 'A' list celebrities are all wanting tixs to the inauguration, but look what they did for Hillary, NOTHING,” Trump tweeted.
He added: “I want the PEOPLE!”
Several celebrities threw their support behind the Rockettes by Friday morning. Judd Apatow shared posts from Patton Oswalt and Ghostbusters director Paul Feig, who both shared contact information to reach out to the AGVA and urged others to do the same.

Donald Trump: I don't Need Celebrities at Inauguration, Just 'The PEOPLE' !

The Hill ^ | 12/23/16 GMT | BY PAULINA FIROZI 

President-elect Donald Trump called out “the so-called ‘A’ list” celebrities he says are looking to attend his inauguration in a tweet on Thursday, suggesting he wouldn't want them there.
"The so-called 'A' list celebrities are all wanting tickets to the inauguration,” Trump tweeted. “but look what they did for Hillary Clinton, NOTHING. I want the PEOPLE!”
Few celebrities have confirmed publicly that they would not perform at Trump’s inauguration next month.
uring the tail end of the presidential campaign, Trump ripped Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton for having celebrities perform at rallies on her behalf. During a rally in Hershey, Pa., just days before Election Day, Trump commented that he didn’t need any big names to draw a crowd.
He mocked Clinton’s star-studded get-out-the-vote concert that included Beyoncé, Jay Z, Big Sean, J. Cole and Chance the Rapper.
"I hear we set a new record for this building. And by the way, I didn't have to bring J-Lo or Jay-Z — the only way she gets anybody, I am here all by myself. I am here all by myself,” Trump said.
"Just me, no guitar, no piano, no nothing. But you know what we do have? It's all of us, it's all the same — we all have great ideas and great vision for our country."
(Excerpt) Read more at ...

Media Guilty of Double Standard on Terror Attacks ^ | December 23, 2016 | Jonah Goldberg 

Here's a paradox for you. Whenever there's a terrorist attack, the immediate response from government officials and the media is: "Let's not jump to conclusions." Yet when there are breaking reports that Muslim or Arab Americans were allegedly victimized by bigots in some hate crime, the response is instant credulity, outrage and hand-wringing.
This doesn't really even scratch the surface of the double standard. When there's a terrorist incident, there's deep skepticism at every stage of the unfolding story. At first we're told there's no evidence that the attack is terror-related. Then, when reports come in that a shooter shouted "Allahu akbar!" or has an Arabic name, we're assured there's no evidence that the shooter is tied to any international terror groups. Days go by with talking heads fretting about "self-radicalization," "homegrown terror," and "lone wolves." This narrative lingers even as the killer's Facebook posts declaring allegiance to ISIS emerge.
Now, truth be told, I think some of this skepticism is understandable. Often, the media and the pundit class on the left and right are too eager to win the race to be wrong first. It's perfectly proper to not want to get ahead of the facts.
More annoying is the Obama administration's studied practice of slow-walking any admission that the war on terror isn't over, but at least it's understandable. President Obama came into office wanting to end wars and convince Americans that terrorism isn't such a big deal. It seems to be a sincere belief. The Atlantic reported that Obama frequently reminds his staff that slippery bathtubs kill more Americans than terrorism. It took Obama six years to admit that the shooting at Fort Hood was terrorism and not "workplace violence."
Regardless, my point here is that I can understand why politicians and the media want to be skeptical about breaking news events and even why they try to frame those events in ways that fit a political agenda.
The best defense of that agenda isn't the sorry effort to pad the legacy of our Nobel Peace Prize-winning president. It's the desire to err on the side of caution when it comes to stigmatizing law-abiding and patriotic Muslims with the stain of acts of terror in the name of their religion. The media doesn't want to give credence to the idea that all Muslims are terrorists, not least because that attitude will only serve to radicalize more Muslims. As we are often told, ISIS wants peaceful Muslims in the West to feel victimized and unwelcome.
And that brings me back to the media's instant credulity for stories of anti-Muslim bias. This eagerness to hype "anti-Muslim backlash" stories has been around for nearly 20 years, and it has always been thin gruel. According to the FBI, in every year since the 9/11 attacks, there have been more -- a lot more -- anti-Jewish hate crimes than anti-Muslim ones. Which have you heard about more: the anti-Jewish backlash or the anti-Muslim backlash?
Amazingly, the "experts fear an anti-Muslim backlash" stories keep popping up after every Islamic terror attack, despite the fact that the backlash never arrives. To be sure, there have been hateful and deplorable acts against Muslims. But evidence of a true national climate of intimidation and bigotry has always been lacking.
What has not been lacking is evidence that many activists want to convince Americans that such a climate exists. This effort has been old hat for the media-savvy spokesmen of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) for years. But since Donald Trump's election, there has been an explosion of freelance anti-Muslim hate crime hoaxes. A Muslim girl fabricated an attack by three Trump supporters on a New York subway. A young man pulled a similar stunt on a Delta flight this week. False fraud claims by Asian and Hispanic students at various universities have popped up as well. The media, still in the throes of anti-Trump panic, has been quick to credit these hoaxes and grudging in clearing the air when they've been debunked. It's time the media applied at least the same level of skepticism that they reserve for real terror attacks to fake hate crimes. Why? First, because their job is to report the facts. Second, because if they're really concerned about not alienating or radicalizing American Muslims, they shouldn't hype the propaganda efforts of the idiots who are doing exactly that.

Democrats Care About Their Power, Not About Russian Hacking ^ | December 23, 2016 | David Limbaugh 

Isn't it interesting that it took an electoral barnyard beat-down to get the Democrats interested in Russian hacking? A drubbing by Donald Trump has done wonders to focus their minds.

How ironic that Democrats became apoplectic about Trump's alleged coziness with Russia during the campaign when they've been Russia's apologists for years. They are the ones (through Sen. Ted Kennedy) who clandestinely asked the Russians for help to beat Ronald Reagan in 1984. They are the ones who lambasted GOP 2012 presidential candidate Mitt Romney for being too tough on Russia. They are the ones (through President Obama) who secretly conspired to "have more flexibility" to negotiate with Russia on missile defense once Obama was re-elected. They are the ones who promised to "reset" U.S. relations with Russia.
But when it was expedient to discredit Trump during the campaign over his favorable comments about Russian President Vladimir Putin, they pretended to fear that Trump would collude with the evil Putin should Trump be elected. A resetting of U.S.-Russian relations looked ominous all of a sudden. It became even more alarming after Trump won the election and announced he would appoint Rex Tillerson as secretary of state. In case you haven't heard, Tillerson has a personal relationship with Putin, and Democrats feigned concern that this could lead to the Trump administration's selling the U.S. down the river -- kind of like what Obama was planning on doing with missile flexibility.
But Hillary Clinton's defeat is what has them most exercised. They've obviously come to expect their party's permanent investiture in the Oval Office, and they were shellshocked at the trouncing they took -- not just at the presidential level but all the way up and down federal and state ballots. In this case, pride certainly preceded the fall.
Surely, you're not too old to remember their hand-wringing when Trump complained the election was rigged -- their outrage that a presidential candidate would undermine the integrity of our "democratic institutions" and the orderly and peaceful transition of power?
Lo and behold, as they are wont to do, the Democrats quickly engaged in the very activity for which they maligned Trump, but the difference was that unlike Trump, they didn't just talk about it; they did it. They launched recount efforts and even tried to pressure presidential electors to abandon Trump in their last-ditch efforts to reclaim the executive branch -- which they will need to do if they want to impose their will on the American people through lawless executive action again.
Though they've failed to upset the integrity of our democratic institutions -- having fallen flat in their recount efforts -- they've now turned to delegitimizing Trump and his presidency before it has even begun. Call it a reverse honeymoon.
How convenient for them that Trump made a few positive comments about Putin during the campaign that they can leverage to prove there is really something between Putin and Trump, which allegedly prompted Putin to interfere in our election to help elect Trump.
They have no proof, mind you, but proof is hardly necessary when you have the liberal media at the ready to manipulate facts to advance a false narrative that will benefit the Democratic Party's cause.
Indeed, another striking irony has unfolded before our eyes. Democrats are outraged that Russians, by allegedly hacking only the Democratic National Committee and exposing Democrats' corruption and deceit, manipulated our electoral process through the selective publication of facts. But isn't that exactly what the liberal media have been doing for the Democratic Party for years?
Republicans don't doubt that Russia tried to hack the DNC and other Democratic-related organizations. They know that the Russians and other foreign governments are incessantly trying to hack into American business and political institutions and that they've been successful more often than we'd like to admit.
But before they lost this election, you couldn't get the Democrats' attention on Russian hacking. "Russia's cyber-attacks are no surprise to the House Intelligence Committee, which has been closely monitoring Russia's belligerence for years," said the committee's chairman, Devin Nunes, in a statement. "As I've said many times, the Intelligence Community has repeatedly failed to anticipate Putin's hostile actions. Unfortunately the Obama administration, dedicated to delusions of 'resetting' relations with Russia, ignored pleas by numerous Intelligence Committee members to take more forceful action against the Kremlin's aggression. It appears, however, that after eight years the administration has suddenly awoken to the threat."
The Washington Examiner's Byron York reports that Republicans don't doubt that the Russians tried to hack the U.S. political process, because they try to hack everything. But Republicans don't believe that the Russians' motive necessarily was to sway the election in Trump's favor. The Russians didn't take Trump's candidacy seriously and assumed Clinton would be the next president. Their goal was to expose her as deceitful and corrupt and, in so doing, reveal the United States as something other than the pristine power it holds itself out to be. "The number-one thing Russians seek to do is to sow doubt about the United States," writes York.
It wasn't that the Russians didn't try to hack the Republican Party and its institutions, as well. They just didn't succeed.
The Democrats don't care about Russian cyberwarfare except when it threatens their power. The Democrats know the country's mood has shifted from Democratic malaise to Republican optimism. Like everyone else, they feel this buoyancy, and they're horrified that Trump may make decisive policy changes in his first 100 days in office, including a repeal and replacement of Obamacare and an introduction of tax and regulatory reform, and an implementation of border security measures.
They simply cannot tolerate this, so they will do everything they can to discredit Trump -- hoping that what they can't stop at the ballot box, they can prevent through distorting the narrative by selective dissemination of the facts. Don't ever forget that projection is their stock in trade.

If you have left-handers in your family, your brain is different!

Arizona Daily Star ^ | Dec 23, 2016 | Thomas Bever 

About half the world's population is right-handed but has left-handed family members. Such right-handers have special neurological organization of language and thought.
This has implications for therapies and our understanding of the genetic bases for language.
Our brain imaging studies show that grammatical knowledge is represented differently if you have left-handers in your family. For example, when it comes to language, everyone’s brain responds to certain language tasks quickly.
But that response is much stronger in the brain's right hemisphere if you have left-handers in your family and stronger in the left hemisphere if you have no left-handers in your family
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