Category Archives: Ruling Class

Democrats Send Their Regrets

Well, well, well. Now isn’t that special..
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WSJ 12/2/2016

Regrets? Delaware Sen. Chris Coons has a few— and not too few to mention. At the top of his list is his party’s decision in 2013 to blow up the filibuster for most presidential nominees.

“Many of us will regret that in this Congress,” a dejected Mr. Coons told CNN on Tuesday. “Because it would have been a terrific speed bump, potential emergency brake, to have in our system to slow down the confirmation of extreme nominees.” Cue Sinatra and “My Way.” That’s how former Senate leader Harry Reid, House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi and President Obama ruled for eight years. They planned each charted course, each careful step. Now, they’re not finding it so amusing.

Mr. Coons is regretting giving up his tool to stop Donald Trump’s march of reformers. It’s a cabinet parade of charter- school-lovers, and law-andorder prosecutors and tax-cutters and ObamaCare-slayers, of the sort to give a good Delaware liberal night sweats. There was a day when not one of these nominees could have hoped to squeeze past a Senate filibuster. But Mr. Reid did it his way, and Mr. Trump keeps tweeting.

Former veep candidate Tim Kaine in October threatened that Republicans would be really, really sorry if they tried use what filibuster tools were left against a Hillary Clinton Supreme Court nominee. If Republicans “stonewall,” then a “Democratic Senate majority will say we’re not going to let you thwart the law,” he declared in October. Incoming Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer is now regretting that belligerence, and insisting that the Supreme Court filibuster is inviolate, and that his party never did kill it, you know, and that should count for something, and . . . blah, blah, regrets.

It would be hard to stall the confirmation process, at least after Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s regretful September news conference, the one where she stood tall and hit Republicans for refusing to confirm Mr. Obama’s end-of-the-road nominee, Merrick Garland. “This is not just some TV show [like] ‘Eight is Enough.’ Eight is not enough on the United States Supreme Court,” she railed. She’s joined in regret by the activists behind those trendy Twitter campaigns: #weneednine. #doyourjob. Bring on Mr. Trump’s own Tweetbomb: #likeyousaid.

Mr. Schumer is also regretting those dozen interviews before the election, the ones he gave as he measured his majority-leader office curtains. He explained to Politico that his party was on the verge of electoral dominance and that this meant it would have “a mandate.” He elsewhere warned all those mulish Republicans that they’d have an obligation to work with his world-dominant party. “If we’re gridlocked for another four years, the anger and sourness in the land will make that of 2016 seem tame,” he lectured.

Some might describe electoral dominance as owning the White House, and the Senate, and the House, and 33 governorships and 68 (of 98) state legislative chambers. But Mr. Schumer now regrets his definition. In a recent ABC News story, he said Mr. Trump’s victory is “not a mandate” and that his Democratic Party remains free to “go after him tooth and nail.”

At least 11 senators, led by Oregon’s Jeff Merkley would appear to regret staying silent while Mr. Reid pioneered the art of hateful speech—routinely calling opponents un-American, tax cheats, liars, losers, tools, first-class rats, and embarrassments. How else to read the senators’ recent letter to Mr. Trump complaining that he’s a big meanie? Meanies do as meanies see, and Mr. Merkley never said a peep as Mr. Reid set a new low standard for public behavior. House Democrats, those with a brain, now regret that they didn’t can Nancy Pelosi when they could—say, back in 2010. After the liberal Mrs. Pelosi was this week elected leader again, in a rout, Arizona Rep. Kyrsten Sinema complained, and not in a shy way, that her party was doubling down on its “failed strategy of recent years.” But Ms. Sinema did nothing two years ago when Mrs. Pelosi ran unopposed after her thirdstraight House loss.

The entire Democratic Party is regretting its call for masses of infrastructure, now that there are indications Mr. Trump won’t do it their way. It is regretting it refused to work with Republicans on important bills, now that it’s not likely to get asked.

More than a few Democrats are regretting listening to that piper of the alt-left, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who danced them into indefensible voting records. That regret was on display this week when—despite Ms. Warren having railed against a medical-innovation bill as a giveaway to Big Pharma that made her “gag”—every member of her Massachusetts delegation voted with House Republicans to pass it. In fact, 174 Democrats ignored Ms. Warren.

Let’s hope that’s because now—as the end is near, as Mr. Obama faces his final curtain— at least some have had their share (and fill) of losing. Maybe “my way” wasn’t so smart after all.

Write to kim@wsj.com.

By Kimberley A. Strassel

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Trump and the Democrats

Well, well, well.

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WSJ 11/11/2016

Donald Trump’s victory is already inspiring reflection about the future of the Republican Party, and rightly so, but Democrats don’t seem to be undertaking any similar introspection. This is a mistake, because they wouldn’t have been ushered out of power up and down the ballot if the American public wasn’t rejecting the results and methods of the last eight years.

Liberals are attributing Hillary Clinton’s loss to FBI Director Jim Comey, while the more honest admit her email scandal and Clinton Foundation ethics were problems. Others note she was a less than inspiring campaigner. The left’s all-purpose answer seems to be that the same American people who elected President Obama twice have defaulted to their traditional sexism, racism and xenophobia.

Blaming “white-lash” is silly—of the roughly 700 U.S. counties that Mr. Obama won twice, about one-third broke this time for Mr. Trump—but these cultural rationalizations are lamentable and instructive. Too many liberals, and some conservatives, simply cannot imagine how great numbers of Americans think and perceive their own interests. Thus wrong opinions must be the result of cognitive limitations or character flaws. Mrs. Clinton called Trump supporters “deplorables,” “irredeemable” and “not America,” as if there could be no other explanation.

These failures of empathy are also a staple of Mr. Obama’s rhetoric, with his moral lectures about who we are as Americans and the arc of history always bending toward—well, his point of view. For the President, and most prominent Democrats these days, opponents who debate policies and principles never do so in good faith.

For eight long years Mr. Obama’s belief that he holds the mandate of heaven has guided how he has used and abused presidential power. He was elected in 2008 on a message of hope and centrist unity, but he was soon ramming through 40 years of pent-up progressive priorities. Recall his famous 2009 brush-off of Republican Eric Cantor, who had proposed some bipartisan ideas for the stimulus: “Eric, I won.”

Democrats imposed ObamaCare on a straight partisan majority, though the polls showed there was no political consensus about a new entitlement among the oft-invoked, rarely consulted American people. National health care is no more popular today and is now misfiring in all the ways the critics predicted. The GOP was frozen out of all major economic decisions in 2009-10, and one price was the weak recovery that persists to this day.

Democrats did have a historic supermajority, but that wasn’t a mandate to do whatever they could get away with, and they lost a record 63 House seats in the midterms as punishment. Mr. Obama then feinted toward a grand bargain with John Boehner, only to ambush the then Speaker with politically impossible tax-increase demands at the 11th hour.

The President won re-election in 2012 by converting a decent man like Mitt Romney into a monster who would prosecute a “war on women.” He also weaponized identity politics to polarize voters for his own purposes.

In his second term, Mr. Obama adopted his “pen and phone” strategy of executive rule to bypass Congress and avoid accountability. He unleashed the EPA to impose carbon cap and trade without basis in law. The Education Department rewrote Title IX to erode due process on campus. The Paris climate deal and Iran nuclear accord should have been submitted to the Senate as treaties for ratification.

Some of these gambits have been checked by the courts, and the left will learn that what’s done through regulation can be undone through new regulation. But liberals have also “normalized” such abuses, to borrow a now-popular phrase among progressives. Supposedly when Congress refuses to pass bills that the President desires, he has the power to achieve his aims by himself. That isn’t how U.S. democracy works, and it inevitably created its political counter-reaction in the form of Mr. Trump.

Democrats now face some decisions about how to deal with a Republican majority, and one irony is that their methods under Mr. Obama will make Mr. Trump’s job easier. The Harry Reid-Obama decision to break the filibuster for nominations will ease the path for Mr. Trump’s cabinet and judicial nominees. A GOP Senate won’t tolerate a filibuster of a Supreme Court pick.

The Elizabeth Warren left will want the party to reject any bipartisan accommodation, hoping to mobilize their base to sweep out the GOP Congress in 2018. But Democrats will be defending 25 Senate seats, several in states that went decidedly for Mr. Trump. A rejectionist strategy carries political risks, not least in the states where the Obama top-down strategy has left Democrats in their weakest position in 90 years. One result of Mr. Obama’s tenure is that Democrats lack a deep bench of younger candidates for federal office, including the Presidency in 2020. A third of all House Democrats will now come from a mere three states—California, New York and Massachusetts. Even as talented a candidate as Jason Kander, a military veteran who ran strongly against Senator Roy Blunt in Missouri, couldn’t win against the Trump tide.

The lesson for smart Democrats is that progressive policy goals can’t be imposed on a reluctant America by political diktat. They have to be won by persuasion and inevitably by compromise. Relying on judges and regulation left millions of Americans feeling disenfranchised and inspired the Trump backlash. This wasn’t about race or gender or Hillary Clinton’s emails. It was about reclaiming a voice in how their country is governed.

The same political lesson applies to Mr. Trump and Republicans as they seek to pass the agenda they campaigned on. But they now have that opportunity in large part because the Obama progressives were so uncompromising and condescending to Americans beyond the coasts. The tides of American politics mean Democrats will inevitably make a comeback, but that return will arrive stronger and maybe sooner if they learn the lessons of Mr. Obama’s disdain for his political opponents.

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Podesta’s Email Address

This should put an end to the idea that “you can be anything you really commit yourself to”.
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Thomas Frank, writing in the Guardian on Oct. 31:

Then there is the apparent nepotism, the dozens if not hundreds of mundane emails in which petitioners for this or that plum Washington job or high-profile academic appointment politely appeal to [John] Podesta—the ward-heeler of the meritocratic elite—for a solicitous word whispered in the ear of a powerful crony.

This genre of Podesta email, in which people try to arrange jobs for themselves or their kids, points us toward the most fundamental thing we know about the people at the top of this class: their loyalty to one another and the way it overrides everything else. . . . Read these emails and you understand, with a start, that the people at the top tier of American life all know each other. They are all engaged in promoting one another’s careers, constantly.

Everything blurs into everything else in this world. The state department, the banks, Silicon Valley, the nonprofits, the “Global CEO Advisory Firm” that appears to have solicited donations for the Clinton Foundation. Executives here go from foundation to government to thinktank to startup. There are honors. Venture capital. Foundation grants. Endowed chairs. Advanced degrees. For them the door revolves. The friends all succeed. They break every boundary.

But the One Big Boundary remains. Yes, it’s all supposed to be a meritocracy. But if you aren’t part of this happy, prosperous in-group— if you don’t have John Podesta’s email address—you’re out.

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The Press Buries Clinton’s Sins

I do hope you are not surprised. And I believe that when Trump talks about a “rigged” election, he is primarily making the point that the press in America does not really paint an objective picture of candidates.
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If average voters turned on the TV for five minutes this week, chances are they know that Donald Trump made lewd remarks a decade ago and now stands accused of groping women.

But even if average voters had the TV on 24/7, they still probably haven’t heard the news about Hillary Clinton: That the nation now has proof of pretty much everything she has been accused of.

It comes from hacked emails dumped by WikiLeaks, documents released under the Freedom of Information Act, and accounts from FBI insiders. The media has almost uniformly ignored the flurry of bombshells, preferring to devote its front pages to the Trump story. So let’s review what amounts to a devastating case against a Clinton presidency.

Start with a June 2015 email to Clinton staffers from Erika Rottenberg, the former general counsel of LinkedIn. Ms. Rottenberg wrote that none of the attorneys in her circle of friends “can understand how it was viewed as ok/ secure/appropriate to use a private server for secure documents AND why further Hillary took it upon herself to review them and delete documents.” She added: “It smacks of acting above the law and it smacks of the type of thing I’ve either gotten discovery sanctions for, fired people for, etc.”

A few months later, in a September 2015 email, a Clinton confidante fretted that Mrs. Clinton was too bullheaded to acknowledge she’d done wrong. “Everyone wants her to apologize,” wrote Neera Tanden, president of the liberal Center for American Progress. “And she should. Apologies are like her Achilles’ heel.”

Clinton staffers debated how to evade a congressional subpoena of Mrs. Clinton’s emails—three weeks before a technician deleted them. The campaign later employed a focus group to see if it could fool Americans into thinking the email scandal was part of the Benghazi investigation (they are separate) and lay it all off as a Republican plot.

A senior FBI official involved with the Clinton investigation told Fox News this week that the “vast majority” of career agents and prosecutors working the case “felt she should be prosecuted” and that giving her a pass was “a top-down decision.”

The Obama administration— the federal government, supported by tax dollars—was working as an extension of the Clinton campaign. The State Department coordinated with her staff in responding to the email scandal, and the Justice Department kept her team informed about developments in the court case.

Worse, Mrs. Clinton’s State Department, as documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show, took special care of donors to the Clinton Foundation. In a series of 2010 emails, a senior aide to Mrs. Clinton asked a foundation official to let her know which groups offering assistance with the Haitian earthquake relief were “FOB” (Friends of Bill) or “WJC VIPs” (William Jefferson Clinton VIPs). Those who made the cut appear to have been teed up for contracts. Those who weren’t? Routed to a standard government website.

The leaks show that the foundation was indeed the nexus of influence and money. The head of the Clinton Health Access Initiative, Ira Magaziner, suggested in a 2011 email that Bill Clinton call Sheikh Mohammed of Saudi Arabia to thank him for offering the use of a plane. In response, a top Clinton Foundation official wrote: “Unless Sheikh Mo has sent us a $6 million check, this sounds crazy to do.”

The entire progressive apparatus— the Clinton campaign and boosters at the Center for American Progress—appears to view voters as stupid and tiresome, segregated into groups that must either be cajoled into support or demeaned into silence. We read that Republicans are attracted to Catholicism’s “severely backwards gender relations” and only join the faith to “sound sophisticated”; that Democratic leaders such as Bill Richardson are “needy Latinos”; that Bernie Sanders supporters are “self-righteous”; that the only people who watch Miss America “are from the confederacy”; and that New York Mayor Bill de Blasio is “a terrorist.”

The leaks also show that the press is in Mrs. Clinton’s pocket. Donna Brazile, a former Clinton staffer and a TV pundit, sent the exact wording of a coming CNN town hall question to the campaign in advance of the event. Other media allowed the Clinton camp to veto which quotes they used from interviews, worked to maximize her press events and offered campaign advice.

Mrs. Clinton has been exposed to have no core, to be someone who constantly changes her position to maximize political gain. Leaked speeches prove that she has two positions (public and private) on banks; two positions on the wealthy; two positions on borders; two positions on energy. Her team had endless discussions about what positions she should adopt to appease “the Red Army”—i.e. “the base of the Democratic Party.”

Voters might not know any of this, because while both presidential candidates have plenty to answer for, the press has focused solely on taking out Mr. Trump. And the press is doing a diligent job of it.

Write to kim@wsj.com.

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