Report cards

Scott Adams has the best take I've seen so far on the famous first 100 days.

Make El Chapo Pay for the Wall

Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas) introduced the Ensuring Lawful Collection of Hidden Assets to Provide Order (EL CHAPO) Act on Tuesday, intending to cover the cost of the southern border wall by seizing more than $14 billion in drug proceeds from infamous Mexican drug lord Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán.

Being Helpful

Sonny Bunch at the Free Beacon has some suggestions to help the Democratic Party connect with "most people":

The real problem isn't that Democrats are out of touch with common folks; it's that common folks don't understand that the struggles of the out-of-work coal miner are intricately linked to the struggles of the bisexual transgendered pronounless twitter user who feels oppressed by the mainstream's refusal to admit that zir exists and that zir's problems are not trivialities. A nationwide ad campaign explaining the intricacies of intersectionality will bring Democrats one step closer to showing that progressives really do have the problems of you, the people, in their hearts.

Spot on, man! And he has more.

Wow. If they follow his advice, the Democrats may be on the road to dominating the federal government for a generation.

Talk about things you like to hear

"Bubble, bubble, bubble, bubble talk . . . ."  Politico joins the ranks of professional media types grasping for an explanation of how they could have blown the last election so badly.  Clearly it's not deliberate bias, that would be wrong, but plausibly it's that the bubble they all live in has grown more extreme over the last decade as local newspapers disappeared and were replaced by e-journalism.  It's not our fault!  We might have guessed that the rise of internet news would have a dispersive effect, but in fact it's only concentrated the higher-paying journalism jobs in the usual coastal and urban bubbles.  So, yes, we talk only to those in our highly-paid, progressive bubbles, but that's only natural.

Politico's proposed treatment for this malaise is not particularly compelling.
The best medicine for journalistic myopia isn’t reeducation camps or a splurge of diversity hiring, though tiny doses of those two remedies wouldn’t hurt. Journalists respond to their failings best when their vanity is punctured with proof that they blew a story that was right in front of them. If the burning humiliation of missing the biggest political story in a generation won’t change newsrooms, nothing will. More than anything, journalists hate getting beat.
Do they really?  More than they hate preening and congratulating themselves and their colleagues?  More than they hate moping about how the profit motive contaminates discourse, just as they'd always suspected?  (Here, the author throws in a little salve to Politico's vanity by noting that Breitbart's news site does a surprisingly robust click-business, though of course nothing to equal Politico's own.  If you want to talk about being the popular kids.)

I've been reading "Shattered," about the disastrous Clinton campaign.  The authors may be unsparing in their description of the awful candidate--the only character who's getting kid-glove treatment so far is Bernie Sanders--but they're still 100% in for their poor lost Hillary.  It's pretty amazing, really, how much time they can spend wringing their hands over how difficult it was for the poor woman to identify and communicate her message.  She could not seem to articulate why she was running for president.  She kept berating her campaign staff for failing to accomplish this task on her behalf.  As if it were not obvious that would-be President "It's My Turn" wanted the office because it's only fair, dang it, not to mention pretty convenient and lucrative and flattering.

Sanders appears in the narrative as an admirably honest fellow; it's only unfortunate that "most Americans" don't cotton to socialism.  If the authors make a connection between the lovely, caring policies Sanders would try to implement and the horror that is now overtaking Venezuela, I can't detect it.  They simply are drawn to Sanders because they can't quite escape the conviction that Clinton is a stone-cold liar without a trace of self-knowledge, with no identifiable political convictions other than that governing is a tough exercise in smart policy of some kind or another that, to our collective sorrow, cannot easily be communicated to a lot of mouth-breathing voters.  Meanwhile, Trump effortlessly channels the ugly Zeitgeist.  Woe to the republic.

This aside in the Politico article made me laugh, too:
Unlike other industries, the national media has a directive beyond just staying in business: Many newsrooms really do feel a commitment to reflecting America fairly.
They . . . ? Well, unless "fairly" means looking in the mirror.  What's so hard about learning something of the viewpoints outside one's own bubble?  Is the job of a journalist really limited to cocktail party chat, or do they occasionally find time to read a book or frequent a website with opposing views?  Even if they don't have the leisure or the budget for a safari through wildest I-30 corridor-land, we have tools in the modern world for communicating with distant strangers, available to anyone with a bit of curiosity and a gift for tamping down the smugness for a few hours.

At church this week, a co-parishioner announced a new chat group that would attempt to bridge the unidentified political divide (guess which side she's on) and foster more respectful communication.  I told her I'd almost stopped trying to talk to family and college friends on the other (still unidentified) side of the political landscape, not because I couldn't restrain myself from insulting them, but because I was tired of listening quietly while they loudly and persistently insulted me.  It wasn't that the conversation foundered when I adopted her advice of listening respectfully.  All I do now is listen and try to stem the worst of the oblivious attack-speech by gently suggesting that there are other points of view, and that my interlocutor might want to consider that she might be in the presence of someone who holds them.  That, combined with my pruning of my Facebook feed, has meant I spend no time explaining myself to these people, and less and less time listening to them, either.  Increasingly, I get my limited information about their views from more impersonal outlets.  As far as I can tell, they get no information about my views from any source, unless you count their assumption that a second-hand description of what Limbaugh said this week accurately sums up my own views.

Why would I attend her gatherings?  Will she have taught any of her fellow travelers to listen to someone like me without drifting into insult?  Will she even learn the knack herself?  Her anecdotes of success included the breathless report that she mentioned to a friend how much she disliked Rush Limbaugh, only to learn that her friend unexpectedly was not that crazy about him herself.  A blow for communication and solidarity!  They went on to learn that her friend wasn't actually that crazy about Bill O'Reilly, either.  See, they really are people!  You don't have to be afraid to talk to them!  They may turn out to share your views on some public personalities, and then you won't even have to hear what they think on any of the scary issues.

But then the national votes come in and remain perennially astonishing.  "We may never know what motivates these people . . . ."