September 2017

This is Significant

The moment was comical but also insightful, underscoring just how little Washington’s political class knows about who holds the executive power in the Northeast.

Here’s the surprising truth: It’s not the Democrats.

Last November, while most of the country was either cheering Donald Trump’s presidential win or making an appointment with their therapist about how to cope with the results, New Englanders in four out of the region’s six “blue” states — Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Maine — woke up the next morning with four Republican governors.

Three of those governorships flipped from blue to red. It was a trend that the Northeast had not seen for a generation, but it received little national attention. (Connecticut and Rhode Island hold their governorship elections in 2018.)

If the reverse had happened, and four Democrats had won governorships in deep red states last year, the news would have been treated quite differently, said Brad Todd, a Washington, DC-based GOP strategist.

“It would have been on the front pages of every major newspaper in the country. And debated for weeks about how it spells the demise of the Republican Party,” Todd said.

Vermont’s Scott won in a landslide, defeating his Democratic opponent by 9 percentage points while facing two political fronts that should have knocked him out of contention: the candidacy of Trump, who was so unpopular in Vermont he got crushed there by 29 percentage points; 

Finding the Truth About Puerto Rico

No, Trump Didn't Botch the Puerto Rico Crisis

TH: So, it seems like everybody has blasted Trump administration's response to the Puerto Rico crisis. Has that criticism been fair?

JH: No, I don’t think so. First of all, there was a fair amount of anticipatory action that is not being recognized. Amphibious ships, including the light amphibious carriers Kearsarge and Wasp and the amphibious landing ship dock Oak Hill were at sea and dispatched to Puerto Rico ahead of the hurricane’s impact.

These are large ships that have large flight decks to land and dispatch heavy-lift CH-53 helicopters to and from disaster sites. They also have big well-decks -- exposed surfaces that are lower than the fore and aft of the ship -- from which large landing craft can be dispatched to shore carrying over 150 tons of water, food and other supplies on each trip. These are actually the ideal platforms for relief operations owing to their range of assets. The ships, due to their designs to support Marine amphibious landings in war zones, also have hospitals onboard to provide medical treatment on a large scale. That these ships were in the area should be viewed as a huge positive for the administration and the Department of Defense.

TH: On the flip side, others say that sending the hospital ship Comfortwas unnecessary -- purely symbolic and possibly counterproductive -- given that the number of hospital beds was not the problem. What's your opinion? 

JH: Comfort can add to the solution, but her lack of well-decks and large boats as well as her limited support of helicopter operations means that she has to go alongside a pier to be effective. In the immediate aftermath of a huge storm, pulling into a port that has not been surveyed for underwater obstacles like trees or cables or other refuse is an invitation to either put a hole your ship or foul your propellers or rudders.

That being said, there was a broad misunderstanding of the Comfort’s mission. She is not an “emergency response ship” but rather a hospital ship. She was built to accompany a large military force into a war zone as part of a buildup over time of capabilities to respond to wartime injuries. She is manned by military and civilian mariners as well as active and reserve medical personnel. It takes time to both man and equip her for sea. Given that there was no certainty where the hurricane would hit, it doesn’t make sense to have readied her prior to its impact.

It is revelatory of where the U.S. group mind is now that when the American public thinks about ships like the Comfort and Mercy, they automatically think of them as part of a civilian emergency response force rather than quietly considering the type of potential conflict that would require a hospital ship with 1,000 beds. I can tell you that when I think of those ships, I internally shudder at the thought of the type of conflict they were intended to support.

62% Of NFL Fans Plan To Watch Less Football

A new Yahoo Finance poll suggests the NLF has an enduring problem on its hands. Nearly 62% of 9,056 respondents told us they plan to watch less pro football in response to the anthem controversy. Thirty-six percent said they plan to buy less NFL merchandise, and 32% have chosen not to attend a game they would otherwise have gone to. Those findings all have financial implications for the NFL and its 32 team owners.

We wanted to limit our survey, conducted online via Survey Monkey from Sept. 28-29, to people who patronize the NFL, and exclude people who have an opinion but don’t watch football. So we only counted answers from people who describe themselves as pro football fans. Eighty-eight percent of respondents said they watch at least one game per week, with 46% of those saying they watch more than two games.

(Bad news for the NFL) 

Trump's Judicial Nominations are Five-Star

So far, Trump’s presidency has not put that caveat to the test. But President Trump is winning big on judicial nominations. He’s nominating outstanding men and women, and most of them seem destined to be confirmed.

This week, Trump made four nominations to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. The four are Don Willett, James Ho, Kyle Duncan, and Kurt Engelhardt.

Willett is a judge on the Texas Supreme Court. He made the list of judges considered by Trump for the Supreme Court slot eventually filled by Neil Gorsuch. Ho succeeded Ted Cruz as Solicitor General of Texas. Ilya Shapiro praises Willet and Ho here.

Kyle Duncan was Louisiana’s Solicitor General and, since leaving that post, has been called back to represent the state as special counsel. He has extensive experience as an appellate advocate. Duncan was the lead lawyer arguing for Hobby Lobby stores in the 2014 Supreme Court case that successfully challenged Obamacare’s contraceptive mandate. Carrie Severino endorses the Duncan nomination here.

(But the GOP also needs to get those judges approved. Democrats will fight them tooth and nail)

Captain Obvious

Today’s Binyamin Applebaum’s story on how Trump’s tax cut plan helps the rich, this sentence appears:

The plan would not benefit lower-income households that do not pay federal income taxes.

So let’s see: a tax cut doesn’t help people who don’t pay taxes. Whoa! What a concept! Let that sink in a minute. Next the Times will be telling us that gravity affects heavy objects—including large rocks! Sunglasses won’t protect you from the glare of the sun—at night!

(I always assumed a tax cut would not help people who did not pay taxes. It's not a revelation.)

At Times Free Speech Costs Money

The NFL’s protests against the national anthem are causing fans to reassess their interests in football, but the protests also seem to be causing investors to reconsider their investments in the league as well.

JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s Shawn Quigg is now encouraging investors to stay away from investing in CBS stock ahead of the NFL’s Week 4 broadcasts, according to Bloomberg.

“The bank recommends buying an option that gives you the right to sell the shares at $57.50 on the likelihood that the stock will fall below that price after the company discloses ratings for the games. CBS closed at $58 on Tuesday,” Bloomberg noted.

The analyst also cited jersey sales, saying that if the NFL is going to take a hit, jersey sales may be a leading indicator.

Who Knew Dr. Seuss was a Racist?

Surely, no one would think to politicize this simple gesture from the first lady, right?

Meet Cambridgeport Elementary School librarian Liz Phipps Soeiro, who rejected the donation this week in an extraordinarily condescending and ungracious open letter to the first lady.

"[S]chool libraries around the country are being shuttered. Cities like Philadelphia, Chicago, and Detroit are suffering through expansion, privatization, and school "choice" with no interest in outcomes of children, their families, their teachers, and their schools," she wrote on the Horn Book's Family Reading blog.

Soeiro, who works as a library media specialist, added, "Why not go out of your way to gift books to underfunded and underprivileged communities that continue to be marginalized and maligned by policies put in place by Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos? … [M]y school doesn't have a NEED for these books."

Hold onto your hats. It gets wilder from here:

And then there's the matter of the books themselves. You may not be aware of this, but Dr. Seuss is a bit of a cliché, a tired and worn ambassador for children's literature. … Dr. Seuss's illustrations are steeped in racist propaganda, caricatures, and harmful stereotypes. Open one of his books (If I Ran a Zoo or And to Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street, for example), and you'll see the racist mockery in his art.

It's true: Seuss' anti-Japanese cartoons during World War II have all the subtlety and nuance of Mickey Rooney's performance in "Breakfast At Tiffany's," but it's insane that someone would relegate the author's entire body of work to the dustbin of history for that reason alone. What a shame it would be to deprive children of the joy found in the vocabulary, rhyme and meter found in Seuss' books. What a shame it would be to deprive them of the beautiful and big-hearted lessons found in books like Horton Hears a Who, the Lorax or the Butter Battle Book.

(Social Justice trolls look for racism everywhere and make sure they find it)



Jeh Johnson: The 2016 election wasn't hacked

Jeh Johnson told lawmakers Thursday he's unaware of any evidence showing cyberattacks affected voting in the 2016 presidential election.

But, the former secretary of homeland security said it's a concerning future possibility.

"The integrity of our election outcomes on a national level dances on the head of a pin," he told an election security task force assembled by congressional Democrats. "If writers of the TV series ‘House of Cards' can figure that out, then a lot of other people can do the same."

Johnson, who led the Department of Homeland Security during President Obama's second term, said 33 states approached the department to seek cybersecurity assistance ahead of the November vote, along with officials from cities and counties.

"I know of no evidence that last year ballots were altered or votes were suppressed through a cyberattack, but last year's experience exposed certain cyber vulnerabilities in our election infrastructure," Johnson told the panel.

NFL Ticket Sales Are Down

Online ticket re-seller TickPick told Paul Bedard at the Washington Examinerthat NFL sales for week three games have dropped nearly 18 percent since prior to Trump’s statement.

According to the Examiner, TickPick cited two numbers damning to the NFL’s response to Trump and the recent national anthem controversy:

U.S. born Muslims more hostile to America

And U.S.-born Muslims are more likely than their immigrant counterparts to say there is discrimination against Muslims, and to say they have personally experienced at least one of several specific types of discrimination, such as people acting suspicious of them or calling them offensive names, being singled out by airport security or by some other law enforcement, or being physically attacked or threatened.

Nine-in-ten (91%) U.S.-born Muslims say there is a lot of discrimination against Muslims, compared with 65% of immigrants who say this. And six-in-ten U.S.-born Muslims (61%) say that in the past 12 months they have experienced at least one of the specific types of discriminatory behavior asked about in the survey, compared with 39% of immigrants who say this.