Media who actively support a double standard

Eddie Scarry of the Washington Examiner highlights members of the mainstream media who admit they want to hold Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump to a different standard than Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Several media figures are actively lobbying their peers to challenge Donald Trump more aggressively when interviewing him or his surrogates, or even block Trump’s campaign from gaining access to the press in some cases.

Trump’s campaign has benefited from billions of dollars worth of earned media, and has put him in a position where he doesn’t have to run campaign ads as much, and yet still competes. However, more and more media figures are mounting an effort to end Trump’s free ride.

On Sunday, Jorge Ramos, anchor for the Spanish-language Univision, became the latest news figure to urge other journalists to take a more active approach on covering the Republican nominee. Ramos indicated that more reporters need to act the way he did last year, by challenging Trump loudly and aggressively.

“And I think in this case, neutrality is really not an option,” Ramos said on CNN. “I think we have to take a stand, and in this case, Donald Trump is a unique figure in American politics. We haven’t seen this in decades, since probability Senator Joe McCarthy.” …

… But Ramos isn’t alone. Last week, liberal New York Times columnist Charles Blow argued on CNN that a Trump supporter who had joined him for the segment should not have been booked to appear at all.

After Paris Dennard, a GOP former White House staffer, said Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton is attempting to suppress white voter turnout by accusing of Trump of racism, Blow said that his appearance on the show “is why people have a problem with us in the media.”

“To let somebody like this come on and say what Hillary Clinton is doing is suppressing the white vote by pointing out what Donald Trump has said in his life, that’s just patently false, ridiculous. … I’m not letting that slide,” he said. “This guy should not be allowed to come on television and say something like that.”

Because the U.S. Navy doesn’t have anything important to do

The U.S. Navy could be spending its time and resources preparing to protect the nation against possible naval threats. Morgan Chalfant of the Washington Free Beacon documents that, as an alternative, the Navy is focusing on a renewable energy boondoggle.

The U.S. Navy handed out a $334 million contract for solar power without having a good way to determine whether the project would be cost effective.

The Pentagon’s inspector general recently audited three of the Navy’s large-scale renewable energy projects at installations supervised by the U.S. Pacific Command, finding that federal employees tasked with carrying out cost-effectiveness assessments of these projects did not have the documentation to back up their calculations or conclusions.

The Navy has not provided “comprehensive guidance” for evaluating the cost effectiveness of the six large-scale renewable energy projects in the region, according to the inspector general report issued last week. The Pentagon and the Navy also do not have a “formal written definition” of cost effectiveness for large-scale renewable energy projects.

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus made alternative energy a priority in 2009, directing the service to generate half of its total energy from alternative sources by 2020. In 2014, Mabus established an office to identify cost-effective projects for Navy installations to help achieve the service’s energy goals.

Measures to determine the cost savings of these projects have been unreliable due to shortcomings in the Navy’s guidance for evaluating the projects, according to the audit.

“Navy personnel could not support the assumptions and calculations made in their assessments because Navy guidance does not include specific steps for evaluating the cost-effectiveness of renewable energy projects and does not require that supporting documentation be maintained,” the Pentagon inspector general wrote. “As a result, the Navy lacks assurance that cost-effectiveness assessments for its large-scale renewable energy projects are accurate, and that appropriate investments decisions are made.”

A real threat of voter disenfranchisement

Kathryn Watson of the Daily Caller consults experts about the prospects for using technology to rig this fall’s presidential election results.

Hacking November’s presidential voting machines to ensure a win for either Republican nominee Donald Trump or Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton would be “easy,” cybersecurity experts claimed in a report released Monday.

America’s outdated voting systems are about as secure as a home computer, and are run by election officials and poll workers with little digital technology expertise, creating the perfect environment for hackers to rig the election, according to the report, “Hacking The Elections Is Easy!” from cybersecurity think tank Institute for Critical Infrastructure Technology (ICIT).

“The United States e-voting system is so vulnerable that a small group of one or a few dedicated individuals could target a lynchpin district of a swing state, and sway the entire presidential election,” the ICIT report said.

The vulnerability of the country’s 9,000 voting jurisdictions is “an epidemic in our democracy,” James Scott, ICIT senior fellow and co-author of the paper with ICIT researcher Drew Spaniel, told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “They say your vote matters, but looking at this, how do you know?”

National Review editor tallies Obamacare’s woes

Rich Lowry‘s latest column at National Review Online sets out a disappointing progress report for the Affordable Care Act.

For years, Obamacare supporters have been telling critics of the law to shut up and fall in line. Now, they are urging them to come to its rescue.

A key part of President Barack Obama’s domestic legacy is sputtering so badly that even the law’s boosters are admitting that the federal government needs to do more to prop it up. The Obamacare exchanges were supposed to enhance choices and hold down costs — and are doing neither. Abandoned by more and more insurers, the exchanges — once billed as robust “marketplaces” — are becoming pitiful shadows of themselves.

In most or all of states like Alaska, Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Missouri, Oklahoma, North Carolina, and Tennessee, probably only one insurer will offer insurance through the exchanges next year, reports the Wall Street Journal. One large county in Arizona may have no exchange insurer at all. An analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation finds that 31 percent of counties in the U.S. will have one insurer, and another 31 percent will have just two.

It isn’t Republicans who are hobbling the law. It isn’t the greedy insurance companies, which were over-optimistic about the exchanges at the outset and are now paying the price. It is fundamental economic forces that the law’s architects blithely ignored. But economic incentives will not be mocked.

Trump and 270

Tim Alberta of National Review Online assesses the likelihood that Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump can secure the 270 electoral votes he would need to win the election.

The question this Labor Day, then, isn’t who has the pole position heading into the home stretch, but whether Donald Trump has any realistic path to defeating Hillary Clinton on November 8.

The answer, barring unforeseen and politically transcendent developments, is no.

To be sure, there are still major opportunities for Trump to score points at Clinton’s expense, none more significant than the three presidential debates, the first of which is scheduled for September 26 at Hofstra University in New York. But even if he turned in a series of virtuoso performances that changed some voters’ minds, Trump would still be hampered by the one thing he cannot change: the Electoral College.

Democrats entered 2016 with a decided advantage in the race to accumulate the 270 electoral votes (EVs) needed to win the White House. A bloc of 18 states, plus the District of Columbia, has voted Democratic in each of the past six presidential elections. Together, what political scientists call the ” blue wall” comprises 242 EVs, meaning that Clinton needs to win only another 28 from any combination of competitive battleground states in order to secure the presidency.

Making the map (and math) even friendlier to Democrats is the fact that several long-time Republican strongholds — Virginia, North Carolina, Colorado — have drifted leftward over the past decade. All three were carried by Barack Obama in 2008, and only North Carolina was taken back (barely) by Mitt Romney in 2012. Virginia and Colorado together account for 22 electoral votes; Clinton is leading Trump in both states by vast margins. Those two victories would bring her within six electoral votes of the White House.

In other words, Trump has virtually no margin for error.

New Carolina Journal Online features

Barry Smith reports for Carolina Journal Online on reaction to a proposed N.C. congressional redistricting plan developed by former state judges.

John Hood’s Daily Journal examines the latest polling in North Carolina’s top election contests, including the hotly contested governor’s race.

Rep. John Bell picked as new House GOP leader

John Bell

Rep. John Bell

House Republicans have selected Rep. John Bell, R-Wayne, as their new majority leader.

Bell, who previously was the caucus’ majority whip, replaces former Rep. Mike Hager, R-Rutherford, who resigned earlier this summer.

The GOP caucus elected Rep. Dean Arp, R-Union, to take Bell’s place as majority whip.

“I am excited for Reps. Bell and Arp to serve in these new roles,” House Speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, said in a statement.  “The House caucus is proud to have elected these new leaders as we move toward November with a strong,  unified caucus.”

Federal Judge Puts HB2 On Hold

As most readers surely know, the North Carolina statute known as HB2 requires public agencies to assign users to multiple occupancy bathrooms, locker rooms, shower rooms, and similar facilities on the basis of biological sex. Several groups of plaintiffs have filed lawsuits challenging the law, and in May some of those plaintiffs filed a motion requesting a preliminary injunction that would temporarily block its enforcement.

Last week the US District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina granted their request. In a typically meticulous and carefully reasoned opinion, Judge Schroeder ordered that:

The individual transgender Plaintiffs’ motion for preliminary injunction on their Title IX claim is GRANTED. The University of North Carolina, its officers, agents, servants, employees, and attorneys, and all other persons acting in concert or participation with them are hereby ENJOINED from enforcing Part I of HB2 against the individual transgender Plaintiffs until further order of the court. 

This may appear to be a victory for the opponents of HB2, but it really isn’t.

The plaintiffs are challenging HB2 on two grounds: as a violation of Title IX of Civil Rights Act (which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex) and as a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. In making their case for a preliminary injunction, the plaintiffs argued that they were likely to succeed on both grounds.

Judge Schroeder had little choice as far as the first of these is concerned. In a case decided earlier this year, the US Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit deferred to the Department of Education’s interpretation of Title IX. According to that interpretation the word “sex” actually means “gender identity.” Recognizing that he was bound by this precedent, Judge Schroeder found that:

Applicable Fourth Circuit law requires that DOE’s guidance defining “sex” to mean gender identity be accorded controlling weight when interpreting DOE’s Title IX regulations. Because Part I of HB2 prevents transgender individuals from using multiple-occupancy bathrooms and similar facilities based solely on the gender listed on their birth certificate, it necessarily violates DOE’s guidance and cannot be enforced.

However, on the basis of an exhaustive analysis of the relevant case law he rejected the plaintiff’s equal protection claim:

In sum, Supreme Court and Fourth Circuit precedent support the conclusion that physiological differences between men and women give rise to the privacy interests that justify segregating bathrooms, showers, and other similar facilities on the basis of sex. In addition, Plaintiffs admit that the vast majority of birth certificates accurately reflect an individual’s external genitalia. Although the correlation between genitalia and the sex listed on a person’s birth certificate is not perfect in every case, there is certainly a reasonable fit between these characteristics, which is what the law requires…. At this preliminary stage, and in light of existing case law, Plaintiffs have not made a clear showing that they are likely to succeed on their Equal Protection claim.

Judge Schroeder is surely right about what equal protection requires. The same cannot be said about the 4th Circuit’s decision to defer to DOD rule-makers regarding the meaning of “sex” under Title IX. It would be nice to think that the better argument will prevail when, as seems likely, this case (or one of the many related cases) reaches the Supreme Court. In reality, however, it probably depends entirely on who gets appointed between now and then. (File this under “missing justice Scalia.)