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JOHN HINDERAKER: Dylann Roof and Vester Flanagan: Compare and Contrast.

We now know that Vester Flanagan was a sort of mirror image of Dylann Roof: black instead of white, gay instead of straight, but like Roof a nut with a cause. Like Roof, Flanagan’s cause was race. Flanagan was race-obsessed and, like Roof, wanted to incite a race war.

I agree with Hugh Hewitt that it is a mistake to pay attention to “manifestos” left behind by insane killers. It only encourages them. But if we are going to take seriously the ideology of lunatics, it must be a two-way street. Dylann Roof’s racist ideology was taken very seriously, to the point where Confederate flags came down across the South. In Flanagan’s case, the focus is on gun control rather than his equally racist ideology.

Flanagan was consumed with race hatred, and was disciplined by the television station for which he worked at the time for, among other things, wearing a Barack Obama button while he stood in line to vote. So why do we not retroactively conclude that images of Barack Obama are hateful, like the Confederate flag, and must be banned? Glenn Reynolds asks, “Will Obama apologize for the behavior of one of his followers?” Of course not. But imagine if a racist white killer who worked for a television station had been similarly disciplined for wearing, say, a Ted Cruz button. Do you not think that fact would be deemed highly relevant, and highly embarrassing to Senator Cruz?

Well, sure, but that’s because Cruz is a Republican.

WHY DOES THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION HATE GAYS AND SEX? Anger Rising over Federal Rentboy.com Bust; Manhattan’s district attorney distances office from raid.

LOVE THE PHOTO OF OBAMA THAT THE HILL CHOSE: Federal judge blocks Obama’s water rule. “The decision is a major roadblock for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers, who were planning Friday to begin enforcing the Waters of the United States rule, expanding federal jurisdiction over small waterways like streams and wetlands. But the Obama administration says it will largely enforce the regulation as planned, arguing that the Thursday decision only applies to the 13 states that requested the injunction.”

SOMEBODY TELL OBAMA THAT THE NUMBER OF “CRAZIES” IS GROWING: Maloney becomes sixth NY Dem to oppose Iran deal.

ACTUALLY, IT’S JUST SINCE 2008: “The long, slow death of the rule of law in America.”

The most disturbing aspect of the scandal around Hillary Clinton’s use of a private e-mail server during her tenure as secretary of state is not the former first lady’s penchant for secrecy. . . .What’s truly unsettling is that it has been widely taken as read among both the media and the general public that Mrs. Clinton will likely avoid serious legal consequences for her behavior because the Justice Department is ultimately answerable to President Obama – and Democrats will not use the instruments of government to destroy one of their own. Whether that eventually proves true, the sentiment itself reveals a troubling trend in American politics. . . .

While this trend has been at work for decades – you can thank both Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton for hastening the decline – it has reached escape velocity during the Obama years. The Justice Department, for example, already took a pass on prosecuting Lois Lerner, the IRS official at the center of the scandal in which conservative groups were singled out for special scrutiny by the federal government on the basis of their political beliefs. If there’s anything that ought to be a matter of consensus in American politics, it’s that holding the reins of power doesn’t give you carte blanche to turn the power of the state against your partisan rivals. Yet Ms. Lerner, having done that very thing, doesn’t seem to be much worse for the wear.

This hands-off trend isn’t limited by any means to the DOJ. Consider the current debate over the nuclear deal with Iran. By any reasonable reading, the agreement should have been presented to Congress as a treaty, requiring a two-thirds supermajority in the Senate to take effect. The White House, however, has refused to classify it as such, leaving Congress to haggle its way into an arrangement whereby the president can have his way with the support of just one-third of either house of Congress. . . .

That’s the organizing precept of this era in American politics: The rules apply until they put those in power at a disadvantage. Because we’ve arrived at this point incrementally, perhaps we’re not conscious of how sweeping the transformation is. So let’s be clear about what’s at stake: This is a wholesale abandonment of the foundational American principle of the rule of law.

Yep. The rule of law has been D.O.A. since 2008. It has suffered some injuries and insults prior to the Obama Administration, of course, but somehow it survived because both political parties seemed to care about it. That’s just no longer the case for the majority of Democrats today, who repeatedly vote for party interests over the  rule of law.

The only real question is whether, assuming a Republican wins the White House in 2016, can the rule of law be revived through some prolonged CPR? Or are we past the point of no return? Time will tell.

RACE BAITING + ENTITLEMENT = VERY ANGRY PEOPLE: Vester Flanagan Threatened Coworkers, Played the Race Card for Years.

Vester Lee Flanagan claimed in a suicide note Wednesday that June’s massacre of black parishioners at a South Carolina church was “the tipping point” that sent him on the path to murdering two journalists on live television Wednesday.

But in court papers and interviews with The Daily Beast, former colleagues describe Flanagan as a problematic employee, who was repeatedly reprimanded for his harsh treatment of coworkers, and complained racism was behind harsh evaluations of his work.

“He just had a history of playing the race card,” former WTWC anchor Dave Leval told The Daily Beast. “I know he did that in Tallahassee a couple of times…”

. . . .

But no one could guess that two years after he was fired, Flanagan would shoot two other journalists at his former TV station. . . .

“Vester was an unhappy man,” Marks said, adding, “when he was hired here, he quickly gathered a reputation as someone who was difficult to work with. He was sort of looking out for people to say things that he could take offense to.”

Flanagan also filed an employment discrimination suit against a Tallahassee, Florida, station where he worked from 1999 to 2000. (That case was settled out of court.)

According to one news report, Flanagan said he and another black employee were called “monkeys” and claimed a supervisor once said, “blacks are lazy and do not take advantage of free money” for scholarships and other opportunities. . . .

“The fact that he kept his job was because he was an African-American gay man. That’s pretty hard to say no to,” Sextro told The Daily Beast.

We have all encountered angry, entitled individuals like this. They aren’t just toxic to work with; they’re potentially dangerous. We typically give them wide berth, just to avoid the hurling of hurtful “racism!” accusations and potential violence that simmers just below the surface. Individuals like this may get reprimanded or bounced around (for the sanity of coworkers) but they rarely get fired, for fear of lawsuits.  This television station was frankly brave to fire the guy.

On a broader level, Flanagan is a sad but ineluctable product of the progressive left’s incessant race-baiting and claims of minority entitlement. He is, essentially, the love child of Al Sharpton and President Obama (with Elizabeth Warren as the surrogate).

LIFE IN THE OBAMA ERA: “The fact that he kept his job was because he was an African-American gay man. That’s pretty hard to say no to.”

And this remains evergreen, alas:

Screen Shot 2015-04-25 at 9.59.38 PM

Worst president ever.

TANNED, RESTED, READY: Biden donors lying in wait.

Major fundraisers for Joe Biden’s past campaigns have not committed to Hillary Clinton, leaving the vice president’s allies convinced he can win the financial support necessary to challenge her.

Biden would face a financial giant in the Clinton campaign, which has won over many of President Obama’s fundraisers and already had a vast financial network.

But a number of big donors with ties to Biden have not thrown their support to the Democratic frontrunner.

And Clinton, who already faces an unexpectedly tough challenge from liberal Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), has seen doubts creep into her campaign as she has dealt with the controversy surrounding her use of a private email account as secretary of State.

“If VP Biden decides to run I will support him 100 percent,” New York attorney Richard J. Davis, a campaign bundler for Biden’s 2008 presidential campaign, told The Hill. Davis is a long-term Democratic supporter who served as assistant secretary of the Treasury Department during the Carter Administration.

The organization urging Biden to run for President – Draft Biden 2016 – would not comment specifically on its fundraising challenges.

I’m sure Hillary is thrilled.

HERBERT HOOVER TRUMP COULD EMERGE AS MONIKER OF DONALD THE PROTECTIONIST: “Here’s a historical fact that Donald Trump, and many voters attracted to him, may not know: The last American president who was a trade protectionist was Republican Herbert Hoover. Obviously that economic strategy didn’t turn out so well — either for the nation or the GOP,” Larry Kudlow and Steve Moore write at the New York Sun. “Does Trump aspire to be a 21st century Hoover with a modernized platform of the 1930 Smoot-Hawley tariff that helped send the American and world economy into a decade-long depression and a collapse of the banking system?”

Besides we already have a Hoover in the White House; far left Harper’s magazine compared Obama to the 31st president back in 2009, forgetting that Hoover was a fellow “Progressive” whose government-expanding policies were the prototype for the Roosevelt Administration’s further bloat, which did little but tread water and uselessly dragged out the Depression.

STRAIGHT INTO NIHILISM: Jason L. Riley on “Gangsta Rap’s Grim Legacy for Comptons Everywhere:”

Twenty years ago, sharp social critics like Martha Bayles and Stanley Crouch took others to task for indulging or playing down this celebration of delinquency instead of denouncing it. “Too many irresponsible intellectuals—black and white—have submitted to the youth culture and the adolescent rebellion of pop music, bootlegging liberal arts rhetoric to defend Afro-fascist rap groups like Public Enemy on the one hand, while paternalistically defining the ‘gangster rap’ of doggerel chanters such as Ice Cube as expressive of the ‘real’ black community,” wrote Mr. Crouch.

But that type of criticism was in the minority and ultimately lost the day. Scholars like Harvard’s Henry Louis Gates Jr. would argue that gutter rap verse comes out of a black American tradition that enriches our language and culture. Cornel West, in his familiar mix of Marxism and gobbledygook, once described rap as “primarily the musical expression of the paradoxical cry of desperation and celebration of the black underclass and poor working class.” And Michael Eric Dyson credited rappers with “refining the art of oral communication.”

Today, gangsta rap is no longer edgy or even very controversial. It can only be described as mainstream. On a 2013 track, Jay Z, one of the country’s richest and most popular rappers, name-checked a convicted drug dealer and hit man who terrorized the Washington, D.C., area in the 1980s. Lil Wayne, who specializes in rapping about drug-dealing and gun violence, has more entries on the Billboard charts than Elvis. In 2010, President Obama told Rolling Stone magazine that both rappers were on his iPod.

Read the whole thing. Considering the Last Poets were rapping nearly a half century ago, shouldn’t this exhausted genre simply be tossed into the nostalgia bin anyhow?

SO HE’S BASICALLY A BLACK DYLANN ROOF: Manifesto purportedly sent by Virginia gunman cites ‘race war.’

A fax attributed to Vester Lee Flanagan claims the slayings were a response to the Charleston mass shooting.

An apparent suicide note received by ABC News on Wednesday morning and attributed to Virginia shooting suspect Flanagan, aka Bryce Williams, claims the killing of two reporters during an on-air interview was motivated by the Charleston church shooting and a desire to incite a “race war.”

ABC News says a man identifying himself as both Flanagan and Williams — Flanagan’s on-air name — first contacted it several weeks ago.

The man asked for a fax number, claiming he wanted to pitch the news channel a story.

A fax reportedly transmitted two hours after this morning’s shooting appears to contain “suicide notes” authored by a man named Bryce Williams.

“What sent me over the top was the church shooting,” the author says, referring to June’s mass shooting at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C. “And my hollow point bullets have the victims’ initials on them.”

“As for [Charleston shooting suspect] Dylann Roof? You [censored]! You want a race war [censored]? BRING IT THEN YOU WHITE …[censored]!!!”

The author then claims “Jehovah” told him to act on his plans.

“Also, I was influenced by Seung–Hui Cho. That’s my boy right there,” the notes continue, referencing the gunman who killed 32 people at Virginia Tech in 2007. “He got NEARLY double the amount that [Columbine High School shooters] Eric Harris and Dylann Klebold got…just sayin’.”

The fax, entitled “Suicide Note for Friends and Family,” concludes with a list of grievances that include “racial discrimination” and “sexual harassment” in the workplace, and makes reference to the author’s homosexuality.

Will we see culture war unleashed against any organizations he might have supported? Of course not. That sort of thing only goes in one direction.

Plus:

Flanagan was also once reprimanded by WDBJ editors for wearing an Obama campaign sticker on his jacket while reporting from an election booth in 2012, saying it ‘demonstrated a basic lack of understanding of your role as an on-air journalist’ and was a clear breach of impartiality rules.

Will Obama apologize for the behavior of one of his followers?

TROLL LEVEL: GRANDMASTER. “Snooty Californian Wine Train Liberals Horrified By Black Book Club,” writes Milo Yiannopoulos.

But considering the amount of racism in the left-dominated TV news industry, in Hollywood (just ask any leftwing movie critic), and in other leftwing enclaves such as Manhattan (just ask Ta-Nehisi Coates), Chicago (as Michelle Obama herself has noted), Washington, and particularly among Hillary Clinton and her supporters, perhaps it’s time for the left to take a good hard look in the mirror about its rampant structural racism.

I’m sure MSNBC, aka “Jim Crow TV,” will get right on this topic.

 

THE CRONY LIFE: Obamacare Gives Big Windfall To Insurance Companies As Quality of Healthcare Declines.

IT’S PADDY CHAYEFSKY’S MEDIA WORLD, WE JUST LIVE IN IT: So for the past month, a cartoon-like Manhattan real estate plutocrat has well-positioned himself to be the potential next President of the United States by sucking all the oxygen out of any room he is in, particularly as his churlish dowager opponent flails about while under FBI investigation. Yesterday, a Democrat party activist for amnesty for illegal foreign immigrants attempted to hog the microphone at the cartoon zillionaire’s press conference, and today justifies his boorish actions by claiming, as Allahpundit paraphrases, “My ‘right’ to talk over other reporters and ask Trump grandstanding questions was trampled” when Trump’s security man had him temporarily removed from the press conference.

Also today in a far more sinister media development, “A disgruntled former news reporter who shot dead two of his ex-coworkers during a live TV segment this morning is in very critical condition after attempting to kill himself,” according to the London Daily Mail:

Viewers of WDBJ, a small CBS affiliate in Moneta, Virginia, watched in horror this morning as the Vester Lee Flanigan II shot dead 24-year-old reporter Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward, 27, on live TV as the two were filming a light-hearted segment at 6:45am.

After carrying out the shocking on-air execution, Ward rented a car at the airport and then started driving east.

Police finally cornered Flanigan just before noon, about three hours northeast, in Fauquier County, Virginia, but he refused to stop and sped away from troopers.

Flanigan then crashed the car off the road and when police surrounded the vehicle, they found him suffering from a life-threatening gunshot wound.

As I wrote in 2013, Paddy Chayefsky’s 1976 film Network, itself inspired by the on-air suicide of a distaff local Florida TV news reporter in 1974, really is Big Media’s How-To Guide for the Obama Era.

ASHE SCHOW: Mozilla’s Discriminatory Anti-Discrimination Crusade:

Setting aside the irony of telling an employee who does not like the current attitudes of activists in the tech industry that their kind doesn’t belong at Mozilla, Beard is continuing a new tradition at the company.

The former CEO, Brendan Eich, was forced to resign after it was discovered he had donated — six years previously — to an anti-gay marriage initiative, Proposition 8, in California. Same-sex marriage supporters protested the years-old donation by boycotting Mozilla, resulting in Eich’s departure.

The boycotters conveniently ignored the fact that Proposition 8 passed comfortably in the liberal state of California in 2008. Incidentally, when Eich made the donation, then-senator and presidential candidate Barack Obama was still saying marriage was “between a man and a woman.”

But at Mozilla, holding someone accountable for views that do not jibe with the present moral authority is apparently a company policy. And those who dare to question the acceptable narratives are cast out as heathens.

Unsurprisingly, as Silicon Valley has gotten less and less productive of revolutionary new products, it’s gotten more and more into “social justice” crusades. Or, hey, maybe it’s the other way around.

AN ADMINISTRATION THAT WENT TO WAR ON FAULTY INTELLIGENCE: Inquiry Weighs Whether Data on ISIS Was Distorted. “The Pentagon’s inspector general is investigating allegations that military officials have skewed intelligence assessments about the United States-led campaign in Iraq against the Islamic State to provide a more optimistic account of progress, according to several officials familiar with the inquiry. The investigation began after at least one civilian Defense Intelligence Agency analyst told the authorities that he had evidence that officials at United States Central Command — the military headquarters overseeing the American bombing campaign and other efforts against the Islamic State — were improperly reworking the conclusions of intelligence assessments prepared for policy makers, including President Obama, the government officials said.”

TRUMP’S “I’M PAYING FOR THIS MICROPHONE” MOMENT? Trump security man ejects Univision’s Jorge Ramos after he attempts to hijack press conference.

Alternate headline: The Donald finally picks on someone who isn’t with Fox News.

(Not that you need it, but here’s the headline explanation for our younger readers.)

Ramos is yet another Democrat operative with a byline; yesterday on CNN, he “accused Donald Trump of spreading ‘hate’ by referring to illegal immigrants as ‘illegals’ and the children of illegal immigrants as ‘anchor babies.’” And as Allahpundit adds today in his post on Trump’s ejection of Ramos (“Alternate headline: ‘Trump rises another 10 points in Republican polls’”), “He’s the most shameless amnesty shill in American media and makes no apologies for it; his advice to colleagues in journalism is ‘Don’t be neutral. Neutrality is for referees in a football game.’”

But from global warming to gay marriage to amnesty, is there any topic left that today’s “reporters” are actually still neutral on?

UPDATE: “Journalists angry at Trump for tossing out Ramos, when’s the last time you had the balls to challenge Obama as voraciously?”

FOX NEWS STAFFERS WARN TRUMP TO BACK OFF OF MEGYN KELLY AFTER FEUD REIGNITES: Funny how, much like Obama in 2008 and 2009, Trump only goes after Fox News, isn’t it? Though to be fair, get back to me when Trump or a national surrogate threatens to through a journalist through a plate glass window.

DON SURBER: Billionaires For Bernie! “The rich long ago figured out how to profit from socialism. Why do you think FDR, JFK and Jay Rockefeller supported bigger and bigger government? And so George Soros (worth $9 billion before Obama’s presidency began, $24 billion today) indulges in this luxury. And this year Soros is underwriting large chunks of the campaign of that young man Bernie Sanders.”

IT WAS NECESSARY TO DESTROY THE ENVIRONMENT IN ORDER TO SAVE IT: Obama Jets Out to Vegas to Talk Climate Change as Stock Market Plummets on Black Monday. Or to put it another way, “Pres. Obama will fly Air Force One to Las Vegas, burning 24,560 gallons of jet fuel to deliver an environmental speech.”

Remember when Obama was telling Americans ‘don’t go to Las Vegas’ early in his first term? Good times, good times.

UNEXPECTEDLY: Second-highest paid L.A. County employee in 2014 didn’t work a single day.

Reminder to California civil servants: Bell, California’s staggering fiscal meltdown at the dawn of the Obama era is a warning, not a how-to guide for the topping the Guinness World Record Book of graft.

THE BRIDE AT EVERY WEDDING, THE CORPSE AT EVERY FUNERAL: White House won’t rule out Obama primary endorsement.

The White House on Monday said President Obama may offer an endorsement in the Democratic primary, which could pit his former secretary of State against his vice president.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is the front-runner for the party’s nomination, but Vice President Biden is looking at the race.

“I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of an endorsement during the Democratic primary,” press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters on Monday.

But Earnest offered few clues about which candidate the president might ultimately endorse.

“I have indicated that the president does plan to vote in the Illinois primary, and that ultimately it will be Democratic voters who are responsible for choosing the Democratic nominee,” he said.

The spokesman heaped praise on Biden, reiterating Obama’s decision to make Biden his running mate “was the smartest decision that he’d ever made in politics.”

He also said there is “no one in American politics today” who better understands what it takes to run for president than Biden, who has run twice previously for the nation’s highest office.

Citing Biden’s own end-of-summer deadline to make a decision, Earnest said he expects the vice president to make a decision within the next month.

He also cited Obama’s “respect, appreciation and admiration” of Clinton’s service as secretary of State.

If I were Hillary, I’d be nervous.

WITH PUNDITS BLAMING TRUMP FOR THE ACTS OF HIS SUPPORTERS, you might want to peruse this gallery of Obama t-shirt mugshots at The Smoking Gun, and wonder why nobody blamed him for their actions. Oh, who am I kidding. You don’t have to wonder.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Millions A Year Behind On Student Loans.

Nearly 7 million Americans have gone at least a year without making a payment on their federal student loans, a high level of default that suggests a widening swath of households are unable or unwilling to pay back their school debt. As of July, 6.9 million Americans with student loans hadn’t sent a payment to the government in at least 360 days, quarterly data from the Education Department showed this past week. That was up 6%, or 400,000 borrowers, from a year earlier.

That translates into about 17% of all borrowers with federal loans being severely delinquent, a share that would be even higher if borrowers currently in school who aren’t yet required to repay were excluded. Millions of other borrowers are months behind but haven’t hit the 360-day threshold that the government defines as a default.

Severe delinquencies are rising despite the sharp drop in unemployment over the past year and a big push by the Obama administration to enroll borrowers in programs that lower their monthly payments.

Plus: “The education mess is a lot like the health care mess: the combination of federally mandated costs and controls, runaway cost inflation driven by insiders who keep jacking up the price, perverse market incentives in a warped marketplace, dysfunctional mandates, guild controls and crony regulations, all have produced a system in which costs are increasingly out of line with true value—and with society’s ability to pay.”

Who could have seen this coming?

HOPEY CHANGEY: U.S. Housing Costs: Up, Up, Up, Up. “The rising cost of shelter has been attributed to low vacancy rates, meaning supply is low relative to demand. This is also affecting Americans’ ability to buy homes—as high rents make it hard for Americans to save up for a down payment. Homeownership is currently at a 48-year low. As my colleague Gillian White wrote, high rent isn’t just bad for the economy, it hurts those who can least afford it the most.”

But Obama’s Wall Street buddies are profiting. How convenient.

STRANGERS ON A TRAIN: Roger Simon’s Amsterdam Diary continues with a look at how the New Yorker deigns to cover The Donald: “He refers to Trump as if it were indisputable that Donald was a racist and a sexist.  Oh, to live in the comfortable environs of political correctness.  You never have to look below the surface of anything. In fact, if you did, your audience would be offended.  You’d probably lose your column.”

Perhaps the New Yorker is simply trying to make amends with its rather parochial hometown audience after its highly problematic coverage of the 2008 campaign.

THE WASHINGTON POST BLOWS THE DOG WHISTLE AT TRUMP AND HIS SUPPORTERS: An Insta-reader emails:

Never let it be said that media and leftists don’t use their own dog-whistles.  Check out the photographic and linguistic dog-whistles in the WaPo coverage of Trump’s Alabama speech.  I’m not a Trump supporter, but the press is doing it’s best to make me far more sympathetic than I was a month ago.

Trump pulls in a crowd around 40,000.  Wa-Po features a photo of two people in the stands.

Since we’re into the age of offense, Wa-Po uses an image of a flag-clothed man with a prosthetic limb to represent Trump’s supporters.  Isn’t this a dog-whistle to able-ism and anti-patriot bigots?

The article features references to a neo-Confederate activist, Lynyrd Skynyrd concerts, and the Daytona 500, all symbolic of leftist loathing of Southerners and the middle class.  The references to flash, showmanship, and celebrity were never seen on coverage of Obama.

Tell me again why we’re supposed to take WaPo seriously?

Note that the byline on the article is both Robert Costa and Dave Weigel, two young journalists who each kick-started their careers by posing as conservatives, before their worldviews “evolved,” in order to match the rest of their colleagues at the Post.

HMM: Why Donald Trump Won’t Fold: Polls and People Speak.

A review of public polling, extensive interviews with a host of his supporters in two states and a new private survey that tracks voting records all point to the conclusion that Mr. Trump has built a broad, demographically and ideologically diverse coalition, constructed around personality, not substance, that bridges demographic and political divides. In doing so, he has effectively insulated himself from the consequences of startling statements that might instantly doom rival candidates.

In poll after poll of Republicans, Mr. Trump leads among women, despite having used terms like “fat pigs” and “disgusting animals” to denigrate some of them. He leads among evangelical Christians, despite saying he had never had a reason to ask God for forgiveness. He leads among moderates and college-educated voters, despite a populist and anti-immigrant message thought to resonate most with conservatives and less-affluent voters. He leads among the most frequent, likely voters, even though his appeal is greatest among those with little history of voting. . . .

His support is not tethered to a single issue or sentiment: immigration, economic anxiety or an anti-establishment mood. Those factors may have created conditions for his candidacy to thrive, but his personality, celebrity and boldness, not merely his populism and policy stances, have let him take advantage of them.

Tellingly, when asked to explain support for Mr. Trump in their own words, voters of varying backgrounds used much the same language, calling him “ballsy” and saying they admired that he “tells it like it is” and relished how he “isn’t politically correct.”

Trumpism, the data and interviews suggest, is an attitude, not an ideology.

The candidate he most resembles, actually, is Barack Obama, circa 2007.

UNDER OBAMA, EVERY AGENCY GETS WEAPONIZED: Is this woman the new Lois Lerner?

As some at the Federal Election Commission seek to broaden the power of the agency, critics are arguing that it’s beginning to look increasingly like the Internal Revenue Service under Lois Lerner, who has been accused of using her office for partisan purposes.

They take special aim at the commission’s Democratic chairwoman, Ann Ravel, who also served as chairwoman of California’s equivalent to the FEC, the Fair Political Practices Commission, before coming to Washington in 2013. Ravel has lambasted the commission as “dysfunctional” because votes on enforcement issues have often resulted in ties, and she has said the commission should go beyond its role of enforcing election laws by doing more to get women and minorities elected to political office. She has complained that super PACs are “95 percent run by white men,” and that as a result, “the people who get the money are generally also white men.”

To remedy those problems, Ravel sponsored a forum at the FEC in June to talk about getting more women involved in the political process. She has also proposed broadening disclosure laws to diminish the role of outside spending, and suggested that the FEC should claim authority to regulate political content on the Web. She’s also voiced support for eliminating one member of the commission in order to create a partisan majority that doesn’t have tie votes, saying in an interview with Roll Call, “I think it would help.”

Hans von Spakovsky, who served on the FEC from 2006-2008, takes issue with Ravel’s effort to go beyond the traditional purview of the commission’s functions. “The FEC has one duty, and one duty only — to enforce the existing campaign finance laws. It has no business trying to ‘encourage’ or ‘discourage’ folks to get involved in politics, no matter who they are, minority or otherwise,” Spakovsky told the Washington Examiner.

Spakovsky also said it would be contrary to the function of the FEC to limit the number of commissioners. “The fact that any action by the FEC requires the votes of four commissioners, and thus bipartisan agreement, ensures that its investigations are based on enforcing the law evenly, without regard to the party a particular candidate is a member of. Ravel wants to end that, which would allow the FEC to be used for partisan political witch hunts,” Spakovsky said.

Partisan witch hunts are the whole point.

“SMART DIPLOMACY” UPDATE: Beijing: What Pivot?

Washington harbors doubts about China’s June 30 announcement that it had completed its land reclamation projects in the Spratly Islands, according to the WSJ. The article also makes clear that the Pentagon thinks China is still on track to militarize the artificial atolls (not excluding the suspiciously airfield-shaped one, notably). What’s more, the report highlights how Beijing has persisted in its strategy of expanding its territory incrementally. According to the Pentagon, as of May China had reclaimed 2,000 acres, and by June it was up another 900.

It looks like Beijing isn’t too worried that any U.S. pivot is going to get in the way of its regional ambitions. As we’ve said before, however, China may be gravely mistaken if it assumes that the U.S. won’t ever take more drastic measures to oppose its aggression. In the meantime, President Xi’s visit with President Obama in Washington next month may be rather tense.

Well, it won’t be tense if Obama doesn’t care. Related: Scary Signs From The Korean Peninsula. Obama’s interested in consolidating power at home, and doesn’t much care what happens to American interests abroad. The Chinese, and the North Koreans, know that.

LIFE IN OBAMA’S AMERICA: Should the Government Decide Which Political Positions Disqualify One from Dispensing Chicken?

Again, to be clear: What we have here is a government entity discussing who should and should not be allowed to sell their wares based entirely on whether or not the politicians who make up the entity like their politics.

On the one hand, I’d like to say that this is a compelling reason to privatize airports entirely: The First Amendment implications of such efforts are glaring and, setting aside little things like free speech, it’s altogether idiotic that our elected leaders consider themselves qualified to judge which businesses should be allowed to hawk their wares.

On the other, though, it has become distressingly common for people to politicize every realm of life. Taking the decision making process out of the hands of glorified government bureaucrats and putting it in the hands of private businessmen is no guarantee that people rushing between concourses in Denver would be allowed to enjoy delicious, delicious chicken. Outrage mobs gonna outrage. As I noted at the Washington Post this week, we’d all be happier if we agreed to a form of culture war detente and refrained from attempting to deprive people of their livelihood for daring to disagree with your politics.

That’ll only happen when this sort of attack becomes unacceptably painful, on a personal level. So make ‘em regret it. Demonize, personalize, go after their jobs and their position in the community. You know, act like lefties.

MATTHEW CONTINETTI: Steven Spielberg And The Temple of Obama: Building the Barack Obama post-presidency, one liberal billionaire at a time.

The closest I’ve ever come to glimpsing hell was on Monday, when I read an article in the New York Times headlined, “With High-Profile Help, Obama Plots Life After Presidency.”

Reporters Michael D. Shear and Gardiner Harris reveal the “methodical effort taking place inside and outside the White House as the president, first lady, and a cadre of top aides map out a post-presidential infrastructure and endowment they estimate could cost as much as $1 billion,” or about as much as Obama fundraised for the 2012 campaign.

This effort began in November 2012, shortly after his reelection, when the president hosted filmmaker Steven Spielberg at the White House for a screening of Lincoln. President Obama was “spellbound,” the Times reports, as Spielberg held forth “about the use of technology to tell stories.”

Such technology, Spielberg went on, could also be used to tell Obama’s story—to somehow convince future Americans, against all evidence to the contrary, that his presidency was an experience they would like to repeat. “Ideally, one adviser said, a person in Kenya could put on a pair of virtual reality goggles and be transported to Mr. Obama’s 2008 speech on race in Philadelphia.” I’m sure they’ll be banging on the door to get into that exhibit.

The president has raised, to date, “just over $5.4 million from 12 donors,” which puts him $994.6 million from his goal. Those donors include “technology entrepreneur” Jim Symons, whose co-CEO Robert Mercer, a Republican, was described by the Times the very next day as a “hedge-fund magnate.” These two billionaires are business partners—can’t they both be magnates? Or are some technology entrepreneurs more equal than others?

More remarkable than the Times‘s bias, however, is the fact that Obama’s team, led by a former Washington Post reporter, has been unable to come up with a unifying idea—or even a single location—for his post-presidency.

Can’t we just wake up in bed next to Suzanne Pleshette and discover it was all a crazy dream?

JUSTICE IN THE OBAMA/HOLDER/LYNCH ERA: Ninth Circuit Harshly Scrutinizes Law Enforcement Leak, Threatens Sanctions Against Department of Justice.

What the hell is going on in America?

The federal judiciary — which previously could be counted upon to be relatively complacent in the face of a culture of prosecutorial misconduct — has begun to take notice and harumph and even do something about it. In January a Ninth Circuit panel blasted state prosecutors defending a conviction won with perjury. Ninth Circuit Judge Alex Kozinski has started a blunt public and academic discussion of misconduct as a systemic problem. This week the Fifth Circuit cited prosecutorial misconduct — including federal prosecutors commenting on cases online under pseudonyms — in overturning the federal convictions of some murderous New Orleans police officers.

This is a trickle, not a tide. But normally federal judicial recognition of the problem of misconduct is a parched desert; any relief is notable. And in the last two months, judges have even questioned one of law enforcement’s most cherished methods of gaming the system — leaks to the press. The situation raises questions not just about government misconduct, but about how the press addresses such misconduct.

The behavior has gotten so bad — and the obvious impunity so obvious — that something is finally happening. So thanks guys, for being such gigantically corrupt bullies that it may actually produce change, I guess. . . .

HILLARY SUPPORTER: I’M REALLY JUST VOTING FOR BILL CLINTON: Yes, of course. But Hillary is specifically running against the centrist, post-1994 policies of her husband, who in effort to triangulate against Newt Gingrich, inadvertently helped to bring you the 1990s economy you enjoyed so much.

Unfortunately, should a Hillary administration actually come to pass, it will resemble far more the disastrous eight years of the Obama administration instead — which makes sense, given her central role in his many foreign policy debacles.

THE HILL: Poll: Majority want Congress to reject Iran nuclear deal.

Most Americans say Congress should reject the international deal brokered by the Obama administration over Iran’s nuclear program, according to a CNN/ORC International poll released Thursday.

A majority, 56 percent, want lawmakers to reject the deal, up slightly from the 52 percent who voiced that position in the same poll last month. Forty-one percent say Congress should accept the deal.

Six in 10 Americans, 60 percent, disapprove of how President Obama is handling relations with Iran, up from 48 percent back in April shortly after a framework agreement with Tehran was unveiled.

The rest haven’t been paying attention.

DEMOCRATS AND THE ISLAND OF MISFIT TOYS: The Democrats are increasingly looking like a political Island of Misfit Toys, where nothing is “quite right,” and everyone is just a little “off.”

An increasing number of the Island’s occupants–evidenced by progressive activists Rachel Dolezal and Shaun King–outwardly appear black, though they are genetically white. Some of them are genetically one gender, but believe they are another “inside.

Still others espouse respect for choice and “women’s rights”, yet oppose GOP lawmakers’ attempt to make birth control pills over-the-counter, support brutal, murderous late-term abortions (that kill female babies, too), oppose attempts to educate women about alternatives to abortion, and want to force people who oppose abortion–including female health care providers and taxpayers–to provide/pay for abortion against their conscience. They also routinely demean female pundits and politicians on the opposite side of the aisle, calling them *itch, *unt, whore, twat, etc.  If you’re going to go around making “women’s rights” one of the defining planks in your political platform and fighting an imagined “war on women,” you might want to start supporting and respecting all women, including those that disagree with you.

Democrats uniformly proclaim fidelity to “diversity,” tolerance, and cry out against even “micro” aggressions against other individuals. But they have no tolerance whatsoever for diverse ideas, particularly when they emanate from minorities who wander away from the Democrats’ plantation. Black conservatives, for example, routinely are the subjects of macro-aggression by being labeled  ”Uncle Toms” and “Oreos.”

Today’s Democrats are like the Jack-in-the-box on the Island of Misfit Toys: they appear to be a Jack-in-the-box (and maybe they really want to be), but they’re really a messed up Charlie-in-the-box, and that’s just not the same.

Now, if only we had an Island where we could send them, so they could think for awhile and (hopefully) become more self-aware before they’re ready to be re-integrated into society.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: If traditional colleges think this won’t affect them, they’re crazy. Obama administration plans to overhaul rules on student debt forgiveness.

The Obama administration said Wednesday it will overhaul the loan forgiveness process for students who believe they have been defrauded by their colleges, in light of the collapse of controversial for-profit Corinthian Colleges.

Students can apply to have their federal loans discharged if they can prove a school used illegal or deceptive tactics in violation of state law to persuade them to borrow money for college. But critics say the process, known as a “defense to repayment claim,” is complicated and difficult to navigate. And the demise of Corinthian, with thousands of former students muddling their way through the claims process, has shown that the system needs fixing.

Starting next month, the Education Department will begin holding field hearings and convene an advisory panel to develop regulations to streamline the loan forgiveness process. The department also wants to strengthen provisions to hold colleges accountable for the discharged loans, limiting the cost to taxpayers.

All is proceeding as I have foreseen.

IT’S SLUSH FUNDS FOR CRONIES ALL THE WAY DOWN: Obamacare Co-Ops Looking Like Solyndra?

Last winter, CoOpportunity Health, one of the 23 health care co-ops created by the ACA, went under after it could no longer afford to pay for the care of its customers, who turned out to be sicker than the co-op expected them to be. The co-op was one of the only insurers offering ACA plans in Iowa, and its collapse was a victory for big insurers. In the wake of its demise, it remains uncertain whether the company will be able to pay back federal loans of $147 million.

It now appears that CoOpportunity Health is not alone in the predicament it found itself. In case you missed it, the New York Times recently picked up on an audit released last month of the 23 co-ops created under the law. The story does not paint a pretty picture: 22 out of 23 co-ops lost money last year, and many could find it hard to repay the 2.4 billion that the federal government spent overall on the co-ops. . . .

In the case of CoOpportunity Health, the failed company may be able to use other federal money due to it through the risk corridor program to discharge some of its liabilities. But if it will take big premium hikes to enable some of the co-ops to repay their federal loans, that’s the kind of cure that is worse than the disease.

Train wreck.

VICTOR DAVIS HANSON: Obama: Earning Contempt, at Home and Abroad.

WELL, OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE IS NOT AMUSING: “Judge Grows Irritated with State Department Foot-Dragging on Clinton Emails.”  The federal judge presiding over Judicial Watch’s FOIA lawsuit seeking Hillary Clinton’s emails while Secretary of Stat has denied DOJ’s motion to delay a hearing to explain DOJ’s obstinance:

President Obama’s administration asked a federal judge for a one-week delay of a hearing convened to discuss why the State Department hasn’t been more forthcoming about Hillary Clinton’s e-mails. The motion was denied, but the judge moved the hearing back an extra hour, making clear that the move was his prerogative and not State’s. “Due to the Court’s calendar, the status hearing will take place at 1:00 p.m. on August 20, 2014 in Courtroom 24A, rather than 12:00 p.m. as originally scheduled,” U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan, a Bill Clinton appointee, wrote Tuesday afternoon. . . .

“The Department does not believe that a reasonable search for records responsive to plaintiff’s FOIA request requires a search of former Secretary Clinton’s server,” administration officials wrote in a status report to the judge.

The State Department also demurred when ordered to find out if there were other servers that might hold work-related records created by Clinton or two of her top aides, saying they were “not currently aware of any personal computing devices issued by the Department to former Secretary Clinton, Ms. Abedin, or Ms. Mills that may contain responsive records.”

That wasn’t good enough for Judicial Watch or, apparently, Judge Sullivan. “Taking this sworn statement on its face, it appears as though the declarant made no effort whatsoever to find out what electronic devices the former head of the agency and two of her closest advisors used to conduct official government business for four years and where these electronic devices may be located or if they are still in existence,” the group wrote in its request for the new hearing.

It’s not just foot-dragging. It’s obstruction of justice, providing Clinton with plenty of time to play hide-and-scrub. The Administration has been wildly successful at avoiding Congress’s investigations like the plague but is finally being held accountable by the courts. Congress is ineffectual and afraid of its own shadow. Federal judges, not so much; they don’t take kindly to being ignored or played.

MEGAN MCARDLE: Walker and Rubio Health Reform Plans Hint At GOP Direction.

The Republican plan is, in fact, a program for the middle class. As such, it will be much less generous toward the poor. It will redistribute money upward, from those struggling very hard to ordinary Joes who are not rich, but not quite so desperate either. Don’t get me wrong: It will also do other things, and there’s a lot to like about regulating more lightly and putting more power into consumers’ hands. But this redistribution is one of the obvious effects, and it is the ideological divide over which the battle will be fought.

In this debate, you can see the shape of where our politics may go over the next 20 years. Many Republicans would like a much smaller entitlement state; some Democrats would like a much bigger one, with Sweden-style universal coverage of virtually everything, crib to grave. Neither one is going to get what they want, because Americans are not prepared to give up their Social Security checks, or 60 percent of their paychecks either — and no, there is not enough money to fund these ambitions, or even our existing entitlements, by simply taxing “the rich.”

There are a lot of ways this could play out, but the Republican proposals for a post-Obamacare world sketch a very plausible one: Republicans become the party of universal, but lean, benefits that won’t be enough to lift people out of poverty, while Democrats become the party of generous benefits for the poor, redistributing money and benefits downwards from the middle class while paying lip service to middle-class problems. Who wins that debate will tell us a lot about what kind of government we’ll have in 50 years.

Democrats can’t run a Swedish-style redistributive state because they’re not nearly as honest as the Swedes.

SEN. BOB MENENDEZ (D-NJ): “My proposal for a better Iran deal.”  Writing in today’s New York Post, Menendez–a vocal critic of the Iran deal and consequently a thorn in the side of the Obama Administration–lays out his case:

President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry have repeatedly said that the choice is between this Iran nuclear agreement and war. I reject that proposition.

If the P5+1 had not achieved an agreement, would we be at war with Iran? I don’t believe that. For all those who have said they have not heard — from anyone who opposes the agreement — a better solution, they’re wrong. . . .

And I believe we could still get a better deal and here’s how: We can disapprove this agreement, without rejecting the entire agreement.

We should direct the administration to re-negotiate by authorizing the continuation of negotiations and the Joint Plan of Action — including Iran’s $700 million-a-month lifeline, which to date have accrued to Iran’s benefit to the tune of $10 billion, and pausing further reductions of purchases of Iranian oil and other sanctions pursuant to the original JPOA. . . .

A continuation of talks would allow the re-consideration of just a few, but a critical few issues, including:

First, immediate ratification by Iran of the Additional Protocol to ensure we have a permanent international arrangement with Iran for access to suspect sites.

Second, a ban on centrifuge R&D for the duration of the agreement to ensure that Iran won’t have the capacity to quickly break out, just as the UN Security Council Resolution and sanctions snapback is off the table.

Third, close the Fordow enrichment facility. . . .

Fourth, the full resolution of the “possible military dimensions” of Iran’s program. We need an arrangement that isn’t set up to whitewash this issue. . . .

Fifth, extend the duration of the agreement. One of the single most concerning elements of the deal is its 10-15 year sunset of restrictions on Iran’s program, with off-ramps starting after year eight. . . .

And sixth, we need agreement now about what penalties will be collectively imposed by the P5+1 for Iranian violations, both small and midsized, as well as a clear statement as to the so-called grandfather clause in paragraph 37 of the JCPOA, to ensure that the US position about not shielding contracts entered into legally upon re-imposition of sanctions is shared by our allies.

At the same time we should: Extend the authorization of the Iran Sanctions Act, which expires in 2016, to ensure that we have an effective snapback option; consider licensing the strategic export of American oil to allied countries struggling with supply because Iranian oil remains off the market; immediately implement the security measures offered to our partners in the Gulf Summit at Camp David, while preserving Israel’s qualitative military edge. . . .

Yep. Menendez is only the second Senator from the Democratic Party to announce opposition to the Iran deal (the other being Charles Schumer (D-NY)). The Washington Post reports that “[s]o far, 23 of the 34 senators needed in the Senate to block an override of an Obama veto have announced their support for the deal.”  The House may have the necessary two-thirds’ opposition to reject the Iran deal, with a vote on a disapproval resolution expected in September.

THE HILL: Walker shakes up GOP field with plan to replace ObamaCare.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is jump-starting a debate on ObamaCare with the hope of getting out in front of his GOP rivals on one of the party’s toughest topics.

Walker on Tuesday became the first leading presidential candidate to put forward a detailed replacement plan for the healthcare reform law, a move that will put pressure on his rivals to release their own plans. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R), who has trailed in the polls, is the only other candidate with a full plan, which focuses on grants to states.

The move could give Walker an edge with conservative voters in Iowa, where he needs a strong result in February’s caucus votes to solidify his campaign. A few weeks ago, Walker polled as the favorite in Iowa, but his lead in polls has evaporated as Donald Trump pulls ahead.

“Certainly, any time a presidential candidate comes out with a real plan, it creates pressure on other campaigns to do the same. And that is a very good thing,” said Dan Holler, communications director for the conservative group Heritage Action.

Repealing ObamaCare remains a top priority for grassroots conservatives. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) released the outline of a three-point plan but has not provided details. Other candidates have not yet made clear their positions on healthcare policy.

The GOP field reacted to Walker’s proposal cautiously, with only Jindal offering a statement.

He blasted Walker’s proposal, arguing that he is merely setting up a new entitlement program to replace ObamaCare.

Well, at least they’re arguing policy.

OBAMA JUSTICE: Hillary Clinton: Too Important To Make An Example Of?

GOP ESTABLISHMENT JUST DOESN’T GET IT: I heard Bill O’Reilly state last night that Donald Trump’s immigration reform plan–which among other things, calls for deportation of illegal immigrants–was unconstitutional because it would deny due process. That is patently ridiculous, since to my knowledge, no one is advocating deportation without all the process that is lawfully due to an illegal immigrant. Federal law classifies many immigrants as “deportable,” and they are deported with regularity, though the percentage of “deportable” individuals who are actually deported is very low.

Now, along comes Rich Cromwell at the Federalist, who asserts that Trump’s immigration plan would “Make America a Police State“:

[Trump] promises to build a wall and make Mexico pay for it, triple the number of ICE workers and have them cooperate with local gang task forces, mandate nationwide e-verify, return all criminals to their home countries, install a policy of detention rather than “catch and release,” and defund sanctuary cities, among other measures. To satisfy the “they took our jobs” crowd, he details plans to put American workers first through a series of bureaucratic hoops. . . .

If that’s your jam, then jam on, but if you want to actually have a smaller state with less bureaucracy and government intrusion, then Trump is not the droid you seek. His plans to make America great again increasingly look like Obama on stilts with a big bag of cocaine and no limiting principles.

Utter nonsense. So if a GOP candidate wants to build a wall, beef up ICE, deport illegal immigrants, detain illegal entrants, and defund sanctuary cities, they are functionally indistinguishable from Obama? Huh? Please.

I have been called a Trump “cheerleader,” which is amusing, since while I don’t hate the man the way some apparently do, I’m far from endorsing him. There is a principled concern about whether Trump is a conservative, and that triggers opposition from those whose “conservatism” litmus test centers around certain issues with which they and Trump part company. I get that. But for others who self-identify as conservative, Trump’s position on issues–immigration in particular–combined with his intrepid approach to the media and political correctness, is enough.

GOP establishment is trying so hard to discredit Trump that they don’t seem to realize that they are angering a large portion of their own constituency, which is hungering for leadership and a willingness to openly defy P.C. norms. To paraphrase Hamlet, me thinks they dost protest too much, and it is beginning to backfire on them and cause them to take openly hypocritical positions.

Indeed, they are now taking the position that deporting illegal immigrants is wrong. Oh, how the establishment loves to talk tough on immigration when it suits its purposes of ginning up conservatives on election day. But when a candidate comes along who actually wants to do something about the issue–and isn’t afraid to defy political correctness to do so–the GOP establishment suddenly cries foul, and brands him a fool, dictator, or police state zealot. The necessary implication is that the GOP establishment is all hat, no cattle on immigration.

No wonder increasing numbers of those who self-identify as Republican now openly abhor the party, and it totters on the brink of implosion.  But hey, I’m sure that’s all Donald Trump’s fault, right? Time for some GOP introspection.

WIPING ISRAEL OFF THE MAP: “If Israelis aren’t paranoid, they should be. Every time they turn around, someone is trying to wipe their country off the map. Literally.”

Of course, Mr. Obama’s would-be deal with Iran is designed to simply take that punitive worldview to its ultimate end game.

RELATED: “Obama lawyers intervene to protect PLO funds in terrorism cases: In an unusual legal move, the Obama administration has taken the legal side of the Palestinian Authority and Palestine Liberation Organization in a federal court case that American terrorism victims’ families had already won.”

Unexpectedly.

IS THERE NOTHING THAT OBAMA CAN’T DO? Obama shorts coal; Soros buys shares dirt cheap.

Even George Soros is planning ahead for January of 2017 and what Victor Davis Hanson once dubbed the Coming Post-Obama Renaissance.

AN INSTA-READER ON HILLARY’S EMAIL SCANDAL: With Glenn on the road today, he forwarded a letter from an Insta-reader:

 I am a federal employee and I would appreciate you not referring to me by name.

The appearance of TS/SCI information in Hillary Clinton’s unclassified email led me to immediately ask, “who down-domained the information?”

Classified material with SCI caveats only resides on JWICS. That is an air-gapped computer network. While there are systems that allow users to send file from lower domains to higher ones, there is no such system to take information and send it to a lower domain.

If I have unclassified information on a classified system, I have to burn the data to a CD and carry it (“sneaker-net”) to an unclassified computer. Of course, this was after a second party reviewed the data and it was electronically scanned for hidden data. This is all logged on paper. The network also logs every time something is burned to CD.

Who burned the classified data found on Clinton’s email and used sneaker-net to email it to her? If I was investigating this, that is the person that I would like to ask some questions.

The Washington Post’s Bob Woodward is comparing the Hillary scandal to Watergate on MSNBC, much to the chagrin of the rest of the Post and NBC. And as with Watergate, look for the president to stonewall any Congressional investigation. “Just in case you thought Hillary might be indicted, Obama spent the weekend socializing with her and Bill,” Allahpundit writes at Hot Air. “Not just socializing, I should note, but socializing in public, an implicit reminder to the DOJ and intelligence community that Hillary Clinton’s prospects are important to him and his party. When was the last time the subject of an FBI investigation that’s on the front page of newspapers across the country got to party with the president the same week?”

ACTING AS IRAN’S LAWYERS? Four ways the Obama administration defends Iran. “Even with your enemies, even with your adversaries, I do think that you have to have the capacity to put yourself occasionally in their shoes,” the president insisted to Thomas Friedman last month.

If only Mr. Obama demonstrated that same empathy towards America, as well.

MATTHEW CONTINETTI: Pardon Hillary Now.

Clinton maintains she followed the rules. But she’s been proven wrong before. Who knows what the FBI and intelligence community might find—or how it might affect her campaign.

What Clinton needs most of all is a way out, a means of escape. Before she can recover politically, the legal uncertainty must end. And the only way to end it is a presidential pardon. Clinton’s future isn’t only tied to President Obama’s job approval and economic performance. It’s also tied to his compassion. Obama alone can resuscitate Hillary’s campaign. . . .

The most famous preemptive pardon in American history was of Richard Nixon. President Ford absolved his predecessor of all crimes he “has committed or may have committed or taken part in” between inauguration day 1969 and resignation day 1974. Obama could do better than Ford by absolving Clinton of all crimes she “has committed or may have committed or taken part in” between, say, January 20, 2009 and January 20, 2025. That would give her some wiggle room. And why not pardon Huma, too. She’s suffered enough. . . .

Not only would a pardon have legal consequences. It would have political ones. It would be a tacit endorsement of Clinton, a message to Biden not to run. Scrutiny of Clinton would fade. A few news outlets might continue to dig around—we at the Washington Free Beacon will never, ever stop—but most reporters, who’d rather not be writing about this scandal anyway, would turn elsewhere.

Obama would look magnanimous. The country would be spared years of Clinton drama it doesn’t want. A pardon would be a final display of Obama’s moral superiority to the woman he defeated long ago—exactly the sort of self-righteous gesture that most appeals to him.

Continetti is being mischievously playful, of course. Obama could, indeed, pardon Clinton prophylactically and given the mainstream media’s bias, any crimes she has committed would be immediately relegated to their “yesterday’s news” pile and forgotten. But we all know Obama viscerally hates Hillary about as much, or more than, a conservative, Southern white male, so no one will be holding their breath waiting for this to happen. It would be fun–just for kicks and giggles–for someone in the press to to inquire about the possibility. 

OUCH: Chart: The age gap between the Democratic and Republican presidential fields.

One of the asymmetries in the races for the two parties’ presidential nominations is generational. The Democratic field of candidates tends to be relatively old, the Republican field relatively young. The following table shows the names of the candidates born in each year from 1941 to 1971.

The average birth year for the Democrats is 1950, just four years later than the 1946 birth years of Bill Clinton and George W. Bush and 11 years earlier than the 1961 birth year (in Hawaii) of Barack Obama. Three men currently mentioned as possible additional candidates — Joe Biden (1942), John Kerry (1943), Al Gore (1948) — have birth years even earlier than that average. The average birth year for the Republican candidates is 1957. But only one, Rick Santorum, was born about that time. Otherwise you have a Republican generation gap, between 10 candidates born between 1945 and 1955 and six candidates born between 1962 and 1971.

Does all of this have any political significance? Primarily, I think, it shows that the Democratic party hasn’t been generating many plausible national candidates in recent years.

You have to see the chart.

THE TRAGIC AND COMPLETE COLLAPSE OF RACIAL RELATIONS: Victor Davis Hanson asks, “Why do polls show that racial relations have gotten much worse under Barack Obama, who won the White House with over 95% of the black — and 45% of the white — vote?”

HOW’S THAT HOPEY-CHANGEY STUFF WORKIN’ OUT FOR YA? (CONT’D): Obama & the Left downsizing the American Dream.

Barack Obama has always wanted to be a transformational president, and in this, at least, he has been true to his word. The question is what kind of America is being created, and what future does it offer the next generation.

President Obama’s great accomplishment, arguably, has been to spur the evolution of a society that formerly rested on individual and familial aspiration, and turn it into a more regulated and centralized regime focused on broader social and environmental concerns. This tendency has been made much stronger as the number of Americans, according to Gallup, who feel there is “plenty of opportunity ahead” has dropped precipitously – from 80 percent in 1997 to barely 52 percent today.

The shift away from the entrepreneurial model can also be seen in the constriction of loans to the small-business sector. Rates of business start-ups have fallen well below historical levels, and, for young people in particular, have hit the lowest levels in a quarter century. At the same time, the welfare state has expanded dramatically, to the point that nearly half of all Americans now get payments from the federal government.

In sharp contrast to the Bill Clinton White House, which accepted limits on government largesse, the newly emboldened progressives, citing inequality, are calling for more wealth transfers to the poorer parts of society, often eschewing the notion that the recipients work to actually improve their lives. The ever-expanding regulatory state has powerful backing in the media, on campuses and among some corporations. There is even a role model: to become like Europe. As the New York Times’ Roger Cohen suggests, we reject our traditional individualist “excess” and embrace, instead, Continental levels of material modesty, social control and, of course, ever-higher taxes.

It’s all about control, and opportunities for graft. Everything else is just the sell-job.

WITH OBAMA’S TOOTHLESS IRAN DEAL, THESE THOUGHTS ARE SURE TO GROW: What if it happened again? What we need to do to prepare for a nuclear attack.

JOE SCARBOROUGH: Hillary Clinton Isn’t the Only One Who Should Be Facing Charges. “Joe Scarborough blasted not only Hillary Clinton, but the entire federal law enforcement community under Obama, charging that they gave the former sec. of State special treatment by allowing the ‘unprecedented’ mishandling of classified documents.”

Related, from Ross Douthat in the NYT:

And here I’m afraid that I am a bit cynical: While the email scandal is a serious business, I simply do not believe that the Obama Justice Department is going to indict the former secretary of state and Democratic front-runner for mishandling classified information, even if the offenses involved would have sunk a lesser figure’s career or landed her in jail.

Laws are for the little people.

SCOTT JOHNSON: Who Ya Gonna Call?

I’ve noted the anti-Semitic themes and canards on which President Obama has unsubtly drawn in promoting the deal with Iran. He’s injected anti-Semitism into the mainstream of the Democratic Party. He hasn’t been reticent and he’s hardly been called on it.

Despite its liberalism and its Democratic tilt, the organized Jewish community has to a substantial extent come out against Obama’s Iran deal. AIPAC is lobbying against it. The Anti-Defamation League has come out against it. The American Jewish Committee has come out against it. The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations has come out against it. To say the least, opposing Obama does not come naturally to these organizations.

I should think that the opposition of these groups is little more than an inconvenience to Obama, yet that’s not how he’s treating it. He’s treating it as though it matters. He’s treating it as thought it is an offense to him personally. He’s treating it as though he doesn’t care about the damage he’s doing. Who ya gonna call?

You’re gonna call someone who can pit blacks against Jews. You’re gonna call Al Sharpton.

Lefties — well, Andrew Sullivan, anyway — shrieked when I called Obama a racist hatemonger back in 2012 but, well, the evidence keeps growing.

Screen Shot 2015-04-25 at 9.59.38 PM

When you elect a racist hatemonger, you get racist hatemongering.

WHITE HOUSE TOOL: Sharpton calls for black churches to lobby on Iran deal.

Rev. Al Sharpton will push America’s black churches to lobby in favor of the Iran nuclear deal, a new report says.

Sharpton is launching his push backing President Obama’s pact with Tehran this weekend, according to The Huffington Post.

“I am calling on ministers in black churches nationwide to go to their pulpits Sunday and have their parishioners call their senators and congressmen to vote yes on the Iran nuclear plan,” he said Friday.

“We have a disproportionate interest, being that if there is a war, our community is always disproportionately part of the armed services, and that a lot of the debate is by people who will not have family members who will be at risk,” Sharpton added.

He also argued Friday that his efforts would counter a coordinated national effort against Obama’s historic diplomatic achievement.

Actually, the “community” isn’t disproportionately a part of the armed services, especially not of the combat arms. But truth never mattered to the “Reverend” Al.

HMM: Jeff Flake comes out against Iran deal. “Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), one of the few potential GOP supporters of the international accord over Iran’s nuclear program, announced Saturday he would oppose the deal, dealing a blow to the White House. . . . Flake, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has been viewed as more willing than most Republicans to support foreign policy objectives on the part of the Obama administration, including its moves with Cuba. He had been one of only two Republicans who was either undecided or had not voiced a position on the Iran agreement, according to The Hill’s Whip List, and had been lobbied by the White House to vote in favor of the deal.”

WHO ARE TRUMP’S SUPPORTERS? Not Who You Think. I think to some degree it depends on what you mean by “supporters.” Lots of people support Trump’s kicking sand in the faces of the media and GOP establishment who don’t actually support him for President.

UPDATE: It’s paywalled for some people, apparently, but I can get through fine. But here’s an excerpt for the gist, for those who can’t read the whole thing.

Today’s prototypical conservative base voters are infamously principled. Their views are hardened, their heels dug in. They are armed with all kinds of litmus tests and purity tests to make sure the “fake” conservatives are weeded out from the good ones, often to the chagrin of the party.

It shifts with time, but at the moment the ideological guillotine falls on issues like immigration (are you for a pathway?), abortion (are you for exceptions?), guns (are you for universal background checks?), education (do you support Common Core?) and climate change (do you think it’s real?). Departing from doctrine on just one of these can cast a foreboding shadow of skepticism upon an otherwise devout and disciplined conservative.

For Republican base voters, Chris Christie and Jeb Bush are unforgivably moderate. While to the rest of the country people like John McCain and Mitt Romney are sufficiently conservative if not “severely” conservative, to use Romney’s phrasing, to the hardened base voters the 2008 and 2012 presidential losses were proof that voting for the so-called electable candidate, instead of the principled one, leaves them with nothing to show for it. They got neither the satisfaction of voting their conscience — be it for Ron Paul, Mike Huckabee or Rick Santorum — nor the consolation of a less than conservative Republican in the White House.

The idea that in 2016 these voters would simply turn off their hard-wired orthodoxy and support a guy who has voted for Democrats, said “the economy does better under the Democrats,” refused to pledge to support the Republican nominee if it’s not him, openly defended Planned Parenthood, approved of exceptions to abortion bans, supported a single-payer health care system, backed an assault weapons ban and advocated a one-time 14.25 percent mega-tax on the wealthy to erase the national debt is, to put it in Trumpian language, really, really stupid.

Base voters will stick with candidates like Rand Paul and Ted Cruz, who demonstrated their conservative bona fides by shutting down the government, filibustering the Patriot Act and pledging to repeal Obamacare. The more evangelically inclined will support Huckabee and Santorum, or maybe even Marco Rubio, who recently said he personally opposes any exceptions — rape, incest, health of the mother — for abortion.

So who is the Trump supporter, if not the conservative base? I’d argue it’s mostly disaffected moderates who no longer strictly identify with either party. They think the political system is rigged. They think politicians are corrupt. They want a total collapse of the ruling political class.

While Trump probably gets more support from the right, running as a Republican, he attracts from the left as well.

So there.

FROM THE GANG THAT BROUGHT US THE OBAMACARE WEBSITE: ‘NEXTGEN’ AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL COMPUTER SYSTEM BLOWS UP.

Unexpectedly.

TRAINWRECK UPDATE: Most Health Insurance Co-ops Are Losing Money, Federal Audit Finds. “Most federal insurance cooperatives created under the Affordable Care Act are losing money and could have difficulty repaying millions of dollars in federal loans, an internal government audit has found, prompting the Obama administration to step up supervision of the carriers.”

DEMOCRATS IN DISARRAY: Democrat to block Obama trade nominee. “Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) said Friday that he will block a trade nominee’s Senate floor vote until the Obama administration makes the text of a sweeping transpacific agreement available to eligible staffers. Brown said he put a hold on the Marisa Lago, whose nomination for deputy U.S. trade representative cleared the Senate Finance Committee earlier this month but awaits a final confirmation vote from the full Senate.”

WHO LOST IRAQ? BARACK OBAMA LOST IRAQ. “At one point Barack Obama and Joe Biden basked in the success of the surge that was authorized by George W. Bush and carried out by Gen. David Petraeus. They proclaimed Iraq one of the Obama administration’s greatest accomplishments, taking credit for a military and diplomatic effort that had nothing to do with them. And then that ideologically-obsessed dummy, Barack Obama, threw it all away.”

“PARDON HILLARY NOW:” Quote of the Day, Trolling Level: Master edition.

RELATED: And speaking of trolling, New York Observer columnist and former GOP speechwriter Lisa Schiffren charts ‘Hillary’s Path to Greatness.’

LAWS ARE FOR THE LITTLE PEOPLE: The government’s nonchalant response to Hillary’s security breaches. “[Petraeus] was tarred, feathered and ridden out of the CIA on a rail for sharing some information (his own notebook) with his biographer who was both in the military and had a top secret clearance. Yet, Petraeus did not have a secret server set up to house his classified and top secret information or digital satellite imagery; he destroyed nothing; and, there was no ‘leak.’”

Also: The government’s nonchalant response to Hillary’s security breaches, Part Two.

The Obama administration’s nonchalant response to Hillary Clinton’s mishandling of sensitive, classified, and even top secret information extends to its treatment of her lawyers. The Justice Department allowed emails and other sensitive information from Clinton’s server to remain in her lawyers’ hands even though they lack the requisite security clearances.

Now, finally, the Justice Department has taken possession of the thumb drive containing work emails that Clinton’s personal attorney David Kendall improperly held. Yet its nonchalance persists.

Ask yourself what the government would be doing in response to this security breach if the lawyer and the law firm in question weren’t well-connected and Democrat-leaning. A friend (formerly an attorney with a big firm) suggests that the government would be demanding the following, and more:

– Names of all Williams & Connolly personnel who had any role in the review of Clinton’s emails with a listing (by date and/or other identifier) of emails, and names of all persons with whom the reviewing personnel discussed the contents of those emails.

– All computers that any time contained on their hard drives any Clinton documents or material related thereto.

– All paper documents related to the review of Clinton’s documents, including all handwritten notes.

– All precautions Williams & Connolly took to ensure the confidentiality of documents turned over by Clinton and related documents.

Cheryl Mills is represented by another big, well-connected law firm — Paul, Weiss (where Secretary of the DHS Jeh Johnson was a partner). Mills provided its lawyers with emails that likely contain sensitive and perhaps classified (or even top secret) information. Paul, Weiss should also be subject to the procedures described above.

Read the whole thing.

THE HILL: Just 1 in 3 approves of Obama’s handling of Iran.

Just one in three Americans supports President Obama’s handling of the situation in Iran, lower approval than several other issues measured in a Gallup poll released Thursday.

While 33 percent surveyed in the poll approve Obama’s handling of the Iranian situation, 55 percent disapprove — the same percentage that disapprove of his handling of terrorism and foreign affairs. . . .

Obama’s overall approval rating in the poll is below 50 percent, and his handling of Iran is rated below his efforts on issues such as immigration, the economy, climate change and education.

The numbers come as Obama hopes to secure lawmaker support for an international nuclear accord with Iran, which has been met with deep skepticism in Congress and the general public.

As it should be.

WRONG COLORS: Larry Elder explains why it’s “not news” when “Unarmed White Teen Killed by Cop; Two White Cops Killed by Blacks.

The media enthusiastically remind us that it’s the first anniversary of the death of Ferguson’s Michael Brown, a death that spawned the so-called Black Lives Matter movement.

In a September speech at the United Nations, President Barack Obama said, “The world also took notice of the small American city of Ferguson, Missouri — where a young man was killed, and a community was divided.”

Never mind that both a grand jury and the federal Department of Justice exonerated the officer who shot and killed Brown. Never mind that neither the physical evidence nor eyewitness testimony corroborated the assertions that Brown had his hands up or that he said, “Don’t shoot.” . . .

The media enthusiastically remind us that it’s the first anniversary of the death of Ferguson’s Michael Brown, a death that spawned the so-called Black Lives Matter movement.

In a September speech at the United Nations, President Barack Obama said, “The world also took notice of the small American city of Ferguson, Missouri — where a young man was killed, and a community was divided.” . . .

In just the last two weeks, two cops, who happened to be white, were killed by two suspects, who happened to be black. And an unarmed white teen was killed by a cop.

In Tennessee, Memphis police Officer Sean Bolton approached an illegally parked car, apparently interrupting a drug deal that was taking place inside. The car’s passenger got out, engaged Bolton in a physical struggle and shot the officer multiple times. Bolton, a 33-year-old Marine vet who served in Iraq, died at the hospital. . . .In Louisiana, Shreveport Officer Thomas LaValley was dispatched to investigate a potential prowler, an armed man reportedly threatening a family member inside a house. When LaValley arrived, he was shot multiple times, and pronounced dead at the hospital. . . .

In South Carolina, an unarmed teenager was shot and killed by a cop. Zachary Hammond, 19, was out on a first date when he was fatally shot by a Seneca police officer during a drug bust. . . .The Hammond family wonders why so little national attention has been focused on their son’s death. “It’s sad, but I think the reason is, unfortunately, the media and our government officials have treated the death of an unarmed white teenager differently than they would have if this were a death of an unarmed black teen,” said Eric Bland, the family’s attorney.

We all know that it’s #BlackLivesMatter, with the emphasis being on black. It’s an overtly racist movement, focusing on police killings of blacks, not any other race, and without regard to any actual statistical data or evidence in particular cases. Instead of shunning such overt racism in 2015, top Democrats are embracing it, and Republicans are trying to stay as quiet as possible, lest the racist ire be directed toward them, as it was recently with Bernie Sanders.

#BlackLivesMatter is racially divisive at a time when this country desperately needs unity, and its votaries have on blinders about the biggest problem of all in the black community: black-on-black murder. The only candidate who seems to have the courage to acknowledge this is Ben Carson.  So far, the Black Lives Matter movement has left Dr. Carson alone, presumably because of his race. How typical of them. Perhaps they are also afraid that a thoughtful, fact-based response by a black Republican candidate might take away some of the momentum of  their self-righteous, divisive, racist indignation?

JOSHUA SHARF: President Obama has lost the argument on Iran. “When your best argument for an agreement is that the deal’s opponents are ‘making common cause’ with your negotiating partners, it’s safe to say you’ve lost the debate.”

PAUL MIRENGOFF: Howard Dean and Bernie Sanders — compare and contrast.

Plus: “Speaking of Trippi, why has Fox News replaced him with Bill Burton as its house leftist on political matters? Trippi is insightful and intellectually honest, plus he has run consequential political campaigns. Burton, a deputy White House press secretary for President Obama, is a hack mired in partisan talking points.”

COMIC CANARIES IN THE POLITICAL COAL MINE: Steven Hayward at Power Line ponders how the “Late-Nite Comic Indicator” portends trouble for Hillary Clinton:

I don’t know if any quantitative political scientist has ever devoted the time to see whether there is any correlation between the frequency of jokes by late night TV comics and the fortunes of a political figure, but my hunch is if the data are waterboarded long enough, you’ll find one. In any case, given that pop culture is a leading indictor, Hillary is in trouble.

From last night, first, Conan:

A new poll shows that Hillary Clinton is only six points ahead of Bernie Sanders. Today a very confident Hillary said, “Oh, please. Like I’m going to lose the Democratic nomination to a left-wing senator nobody’s ever heard of?”

Well, we know that the late night funnymen like Letterman, O’Brien, Fallon, Stewart are all thinly disguised Obama shills, possessing the typical Hollywood/journalist self-identification as liberal/progressive Democrats. When you lose this crowd, you’re definitely in trouble.

COVER-UP: MAJOR NEWSPAPERS KEEP HILLARY’S E-MAILS OFF THE FRONT PAGE, NewsBusters reports:

Four of the country’s largest newspapers on Wednesday kept the latest developments in Hillary Clinton’s growing E-mail scandal off the front page (one kept it out of the paper completely). The revelation that the Democratic candidate had top secret information on her server was relegated to the bottom of page A13 in the New York Times.

The Washington Post managed to place the news that Clinton will finally turn over her server on A2. The Los Angeles Times hid the story on A9. All of these newspapers, however, did better than USA Today, which completely skipped Clinton’s scandal in the print edition. 

Fortunately, the London Daily Mail is on the case. Note this interesting detail, which is consistent with what Roger Simon and Victor Davis Hanson have recently been writing about the Hillary-Obama relationship: “Washington sources say Vice President Joe Biden is waiting in the wings for the Obama administration to run her over so he can step in and run for president.”

Or to put it another way…Soon:

Joe Biden

(AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

YOU HATE IT FROM BARACK OBAMA. BUT YOU LOVE IT FROM DONALD TRUMP, Rick Wilson writes at IJ Review:

You hated how Obama rode the wave of constant attention from the mainstream media into office, and how they played along with his game, draining the life out of every other candidate by describing him as an inevitable juggernaut, an unstoppable political force, and a game-changer who was tapping into something deep and powerful in American political life.

But you love it from Trump.

You hated how Obama’s naive ignorance of the real and brutal world of international affairs was papered over by his hollow promises to make the world respect the United States again.

But you love it from Trump.

You hated Obama’s casual disdain for people who weren’t from a major city where, you know, all the rich, smart, educated, liberal people like him live.

But you love it from Trump.

And as Sonny Bunch adds at the Washington Post, both men are a product of the pop culture of the last two decades:

Instead of looking to Mike Judge as the explanation for The Donald’s appeal, maybe we should look to Aaron Sorkin. He’s spent a career insisting that straight-shooting, real-talking, non-bush-beating pols are what get the people all hot and bothered. Who can forget the rousing finale of “The American President” when the triangulator stops triangulating and spits hot truths about gun control and crime bills and the environment. Let’s not forget “Bulworth’s” bravado or “The West Wing’s” response to the wickedness of the Bush presidency and the squishiness of the Clinton years.

In this fantasyland, Sorkinesque Real Talk inspires not snickering but action, not plummeting polls but massive new support. The courage of a pol’s convictions will carry him far.

Especially when he’s the World’s Biggest Celebrity, whether it’s 2008 or the road to 2016:

RELATED: Rand-Donald Feud Escalates as Paul Releases Video of Trump Praising Dems.

BERNIE SANDERS TELLS RECORD CROWDS HOW BAD ECONOMY IS AFTER LAST 7 YEARS:

The Democrat presidential candidate Bernie Sanders draws 10,000-15,000 people at every event, while his rival Hillary Clinton’s largest crowd was only 5500. However, Sanders isn’t telling Americans how great the Obama years have been, but how bad things are. Yet you won’t hear any of that on the networks or read about it on any news sites…they only focus on the crowd size.

Gee, I wonder why?

Sanders also noted that millions of Americans are in desperate need of jobs as he said the unemployment numbers coming from the Obama administration aren’t to be trusted.

“Every month government comes out with a statistic on unemployment. Last statistic said that official unemployment was 5.3 percent but what they forgot to tell you is that statistic doesn’t include those people who have given up looking for work, those people who are working part time. Add it all together and real unemployment is over 10 percent.”

Whoever ultimately is the Democratic nominee (or perhaps a stranger from Indian country…) that soundbite should be prime fodder for his or her GOP opponent, which even beyond his opposition to Hillary, explains why it’s not getting traction in the media. But for those tasked to create the B-roll for GOP campaign video, here you go:

SMART DIPLOMACY’S ENDGAME: Administration Abandons Failed Syria Program:

The Obama Administration may quietly be dropping its commitment to the failed, U.S.-run fighter scheme in Syria, which was the cause of much derision recently when 23 of the only 60 men the program trained were captured. . . .

Seeing officials finally move to distance themselves from the training program, even if only in an off-the-record manner, is heartening. The first step to solving a problem, as the saying goes, is to admit you have one, and America’s policy with regard to Syrian forces has had a serious problem lately. As a “senior defense advisor” told The Daily Beast, “I don’t understand why we are still training, other than to inoculate criticism. … [The administration] cannot admit it is a complete disaster.”
But a pivot to the YPG would be far more complicated than it is presented here as being, largely because of our new alliance with the Turks. They have no intention (to put it mildly) of allowing the anti-ISIS fight to create a new Kurdish power in the region. In fact, as Dov Friedman has argued in our pages, Ankara seems to see the campaign against ISIS as an opportunity to crush Kurdish regional aspirations. So the Administration’s trial balloon in this case proposes something completely at odds with its recent move to cooperate with Turkey in Syria.

Among the groups that can field real fighters in Syria, Kurdish forces are in many ways the most aligned with America’s interests.

It’s no wonder that the administration has treated them so shabbily.

JERRY POURNELLE ON THE IRAN DEAL: “Everyone must understand that the American Era is over. . . . For some this was an objective to achieve. For others it is a disaster. For all it is a coming fact. The nuclear weapon, like the .45 Colt, is an equalizer, and it is now inevitable that Iran will acquire nuclear weapons whenever they decide to do so, given that the deal essentially gives up on inspections, and Iran has announced that under no circumstance will there be any inspection of their military installations even if there is inspection – after 24 day’s notice – of their peaceful installations. Intelligence experts say Iran is about a year from their decision to have them. My guess is that there will be a demonstration in Summer, 2017. Meanwhile the other nations of the Middle East will rush to acquire their own; they can read the newspapers as well as I can.”

Everyone sees this coming, yet the Obama Administration forges ahead. Why?

HE’S ON SOLID GROUND HERE: Jeb Bush faults Hillary Clinton for ‘premature’ Iraq withdrawal.

On Tuesday night, Jeb Bush, who is seeking the Republican presidential nomination, attacked President Obama and former secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton for their “premature” decision to withdraw U.S. forces from Iraq — a move he describes as a “fatal error.”

“It was a case of blind haste to get out, and to call the tragic consequences somebody else’s problem,” he said. “Rushing away from danger can be every bit as unwise as rushing into danger, and the costs have been grievous.”

That’s absolutely right. In fact, I think I’ll repeat this post again:

BOB WOODWARD: Bush Didn’t Lie About WMD, And Obama Sure Screwed Up Iraq In 2011.

[Y]ou certainly can make a persuasive argument it was a mistake. But there is a time that line going along that Bush and the other people lied about this. I spent 18 months looking at how Bush decided to invade Iraq. And lots of mistakes, but it was Bush telling George Tenet, the CIA director, don’t let anyone stretch the case on WMD. And he was the one who was skeptical. And if you try to summarize why we went into Iraq, it was momentum. The war plan kept getting better and easier, and finally at the end, people were saying, hey, look, it will only take a week or two. And early on it looked like it was going to take a year or 18 months. And so Bush pulled the trigger. A mistake certainly can be argued, and there is an abundance of evidence. But there was no lying in this that I could find.

Plus:

Woodward was also asked if it was a mistake to withdraw in 2011. Wallace points out that Obama has said that he tried to negotiate a status of forces agreement but did not succeed, but “A lot of people think he really didn’t want to keep any troops there.” Woodward agrees that Obama didn’t want to keep troops there and elaborates:

Look, Obama does not like war. But as you look back on this, the argument from the military was, let’s keep 10,000, 15,000 troops there as an insurance policy. And we all know insurance policies make sense. We have 30,000 troops or more in South Korea still 65 years or so after the war. When you are a superpower, you have to buy these insurance policies. And he didn’t in this case. I don’t think you can say everything is because of that decision, but clearly a factor.

We had some woeful laughs about the insurance policies metaphor. Everyone knows they make sense, but it’s still hard to get people to buy them. They want to think things might just work out, so why pay for the insurance? It’s the old “young invincibles” problem that underlies Obamcare.

Obama blew it in Iraq, which is in chaos, and in Syria, which is in chaos, and in Libya, which is in chaos. A little history:


As late as 2010, things were going so well in Iraq that Obama and Biden were bragging. Now, after Obama’s politically-motivated pullout and disengagement, the whole thing’s fallen apart. This is near-criminal neglect and incompetence, and an awful lot of people will pay a steep price for the Obama Administration’s fecklessness.

Related: National Journal: The World Will Blame Obama If Iraq Falls.

Related: What Kind Of Iraq Did Obama Inherit?

Plus, I’m just going to keep running this video of what the Democrats, including Harry Reid and Hillary Clinton, were saying on Iraq before the invasion:

Because I expect a lot of revisionist history over the next few months.

Plus: 2008 Flashback: Obama Says Preventing Genocide Not A Reason To Stay In Iraq. He was warned. He didn’t care.

And who can forget this?

Yes, I keep repeating this stuff. Because it bears repeating. In Iraq, Obama took a war that we had won at a considerable expense in lives and treasure, and threw it away for the callowest of political reasons. In Syria and Libya, he involved us in wars of choice without Congressional authorization, and proceeded to hand victories to the Islamists. Obama’s policy here has been a debacle of the first order, and the press wants to talk about Bush as a way of protecting him. Whenever you see anyone in the media bringing up 2003, you will know that they are serving as palace guard, not as press.

Related: Obama’s Betrayal Of The Iraqis.

UPDATE: A reader emails: “Thanks for revisiting everything we were saying about Iraq/Obama/Dems in 2008/10/11 in today’s posts. Bonus Bush never lied. Can’t be said enough. They wanted a Vietnam and when Bush refused to give it to them, they grabbed it and made it one.”

WASHINGTON EXAMINER: DONALD TRUMP IS JUST LIKE PRESIDENT OBAMA WHERE IT COUNTS.

Really? Do tell.

NEWSWEEK: THE POW-MIA FLAG IS TOTALLY RACIST: “It’s Tuesday, so you know what that means: it’s time to get outraged about something stupid and inconsequential,” Sean Davis wrote yesterday at the Federalist in response:

If you’re wondering where the proof is of the POW-MIA flag’s racist heritage, you’re not alone. It turns out there is none, nor does the author attempt to make anything approaching an argument on the topic. At least outlets like Salon and Slate humor their readers with convoluted arguments that make no sense. Newsweek, accurately realizing that it’s probably not worth the effort to cobble together anything approaching coherent content for what’s left of its dwindling readership, apparently figured that stupid headlines are even cheaper to produce than stupid articles.

Since late 2007, when Barack Obama overtook Hillary Clinton in the Democratic presidential campaign, it’s been obvious that anyone or anything can be temporarily weaponized as racist. Bill, Hillary, and even their rank-and-file Democratic primary voters were declared racist in 2007 in 2008; this year, Bill and Hillary are being offered a ticket back to the White House in 2017. (Engraved by those who declared “Hillary ‘White Power Clinton” as “spouting Klan-style talking points” in 2008.) John McCain was declared racist in 2008, and then welcomed back to polite society as soon as he returned to bashing his fellow Republicans. Mitt Romney was smeared as racist, and then once the 2012 campaign was over, was seen as the GOP’s sane, sensible elder statesman. Words such as “golf” and “Chicago” were declared racist until they weren’t. And now, for no particular reason other than click bait, the POW-MIA flag is racist.

I hope Democrats understand that implications of their scorched earth campaign, which has long since denuded the R-word of the sting it once carried: Ultimately, if everything is potentially racist, then in reality, nothing is.

ANOTHER SIGN OF OBAMA’S LAME-DUCK WEAKNESS: Dems rally around Schumer despite Iran stance.

Related: Democrats’ Heir Apparent Looks Past Obama Era on Iran Deal.

WHY HILLARY SUPPORTS THE IRAN DEAL: “Hillary Clinton is in such deep legal trouble over her emails that she needs the backing of Obama to survive,” Roger Simon writes.

As Victor Davis Hanson wrote on Sunday, Hillary is “hoping that she can stay on the Obama reservation and not earn a David Petraeus-like indictment from the Obama Justice Department.” Will anyone in the MSM ask her — or Obama himself — about the threat he wields over her campaign?

LIFE IN THE OBAMA ERA: After falling in the 1990s, the number of poor people living in high-poverty areas has been growing fast.

JON STEWART WANTED VIDEO EVIDENCE THAT HE WAS AN OBAMA PROPAGANDIST SO WE FOUND A BUNCH.

Unexpectedly.

LIFE IN THE ERA OF HOPE AND CHANGE: The Obama Administration’s War on the Press Could Become a Touch More Literal.

It’s well documented that President Barack Obama’s administration has been brutal in targeting whistleblowers who leak information to the press. The Department of Justice has spied on the Associated Press and Fox News to track down sources of information. It has slid down the World Press Freedom Index to 49th place, lower than several African and South American countries.

Now a new Pentagon document, a Law of War Manual, states that journalists can be treated like “unprivileged belligerents,” which is apparently the new term for “unlawful combatants,” which some may recall was the new term for “suspected terrorists.”

According to some media coverage of the manual, military leaders are insisting they’re not declaring that journalists are the enemy. Rather they’re pointing out that journalists just might be the actual enemy, as in terrorists, spies, and propagandists posing as journalists.

That would be more reassuring if it weren’t basically how the Obama Administration has described Fox News.

YES, NEXT QUESTION: Is Obamacare Too Complex to Work?

HANDS UP, DON’T LOOT: Ferguson Cops Shot A Guy Just Because He Was Shooting At Them, as Ferguson is in a state of emergency AGAIN — after police are shot at and shops looted as town marks anniversary of Michael Brown’s death.

As Jon Gabriel likes to say, “My favorite part about the Obama era is all the racial healing.”

RELATED: A friendly reminder from Kurt Schlichter:

schlichter_ferguson_8-10-15-1

BRUTAL NEW AD FEATURING WOUNDED VET: WHY ARE WE MAKING NUCLEAR DEALS WITH A COUNTRY THAT TRIED TO KILL ME?

You can’t say we weren’t all warned when Obama promised us “peace in our time” in his second term inaugural address.

NOBODY TELL PRESIDENT OBAMA: August Recess an Ideal Time for Art History Class at the Capitol.

Of course, Obama apologized to the art history community for his gaffe.

“BLACK LIVES MATTER” IS INCONSISTENT WITH BIG GOVERNMENT, Leon Wolf writes at Red State:

Obama stenographer Charles Blow had some rare moments of insight in his latest New York Times column on the “Black Lives Matter” movement and the GOP. As usual, however, Blow confused the cart for the horse and thus offered the complete wrong solution for the problem he is attempting to solve.

Blow noted, correctly, that a large driver of hostile interactions between police and black citizens is increased pressure from municipalities on police to become revenue generation machines:

I’m not a full-fledged capital-L libertarian, but this ad by the Libertarian Party at the peak of the left’s obsession with Occupy Wall Street in 2012 sums up the disparity in graphic terms simple enough for even a Timesman to understand:

libertarian_ows_ad_7-23-12

But then, the whole dichotomy ongoing between Hillary, Obama, and Bernie Sanders supporters who demand bigger and bigger government and yet are concurrently waging war against the police as its enforcers is one of the curious paradoxes of the American left.

TO OBAMA, THAT’S NOT A BUG, BUT A FEATURE: Odierno: Army ‘dangerously close’ to being cut too deep.

DONALD TRUMP IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU CRY WOLF: “If there was ever a man who was suited for a national moment because of his flaws rather than his virtues, it’s Donald Trump,” Mytheos Holt writes at the Federalist:

Trump’s candidacy should also serve as a cautionary tale about just what happens when you try to brand even the smallest indiscretions as evidence that someone is of the Devil’s party. To illustrate this, ask yourself this question: what label can the Left (or the Right, for that matter) apply to Trump that hasn’t already been so devalued by overuse?

That he’s a racist? So is anyone who criticizes President Obama’s golf swing these days.

That he’s a sexist? So is anyone who defends due-process rights.

That he’s a phony? What politician isn’t?

That he’s a fascist? So were the last two presidents, depending on which books you read.

That he’s a crypto-Nazi? Yeah, because Lyndon Larouche hasn’t beaten that one to death at all.

See the problem? Even if all of these labels were true of Trump, they’ve all been used to cry “wolf” so many times that now no one thinks they mean anything anymore. Short of openly waving a Nazi flag, eating black babies, or sexually assaulting someone on live television, there’s little Trump could do to actually give these labels the power to scare people. So instead of dismissing him with labels, people actually have to engage with his arguments, such as they are, and even if he’s proven to be gloriously, hilariously wrong, the fact of having to engage with him still lends him some degree of legitimacy.

“If anyone can brave the slings and arrows of American Bulverism, it’s Donald Trump, and maybe, just maybe, if he manages that, we’ll stop wringing our hands over the existence of ideas and actually go back to the hard work of refuting them.”

ARGUE WITH THE PHILOSOPHY OF HAYEK AT YOUR PERIL:

hayek_8-10-15-1

Click to enlarge.

To be fair, it is surprisingly easy for some to confuse Salma and Friedrich. Likely the same economic illiterates who dispute that Obama is a secretly a Keynesian.

#HANDSUPDONTSHOOT #WARONMEN: Special Assistant to Obama Arrested for Shooting at Her Boyfriend.

Needless to say, MSNBC and the Washington Post’s Dana Milbank would be orgasming over this story if the parties were reversed.

danamilbank_msnbc_8-10-15-1

THINGS WERE A LOT BETTER IN 2008. IRAQ WAS STABLE, SYRIA WAS STABLE, YEMEN WAS STABLE, LIBYA WAS STABLE. . . . Michael Young: Obama alone bears the blame for the mess America has helped make of the Middle East. “The person most responsible for the foreign policy muddle is Obama himself. The president has often praised Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Team of Rivals, on the Lincoln administration and the strong, clashing personalities who served the president. This was Obama’s way of saying he sought to lead an administration of forceful individuals, no matter what their disagreements. This shows the president’s tolerance for confusion, and his hubris. Abraham Lincoln always had a clear sense of direction. No one would confuse Obama with Lincoln.”

THE HILL: Ex-NATO supreme commander rips Obama over military cuts.

Former NATO Supreme Commander James Stavridis criticized President Obama, his former boss, for recent cuts to military spending while U.S. troops are still engaged on multiple fronts around the world.

“We have already cut defense … about 30 percent over the last 10 years, and we’re still at war,” Stavridis told radio show host John Catsimatidis on “The Cats Roundtable” Sunday on New York’s AM 970. “We’re actively involved on multiple continents in real combat operations. We should not be drastically reducing our troop levels.”

Stavridis, a retired U.S. admiral and the current dean of Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, also disagreed with the president’s recent decision to pull the sole remaining aircraft carrier patrolling the Middle East out of the Arabian Gulf.

“We have 11 active nuclear aircraft carriers today in the United States Navy,” Stavridis said. “It is hard for me to understand why we cannot manage a fleet of that size to maintain an aircraft carrier at all times in regions as dangerous as the Arabian Gulf.”

It’s as if national security is a low priority or something.

VICTOR DAVIS HANSON ON HILLARY CLINTON, REACTIONARY:

Whatever one thinks of Republicans and their Trump melodrama, the circus of 17 candidates is lively, full of younger faces, lots of minorities, with a full spectrum of conservative ideas. In contrast, Hillary’s implied message is: ‘give me the nomination because I will be the first woman and Bill will try to remember what he did nearly a quarter-century ago. We can’t say out loud that Obama was too leftwing, but privately you know we are winking that he was.’

I don’t think her candidacy is much more than that. Her nomination hinges on a five-hour-work day of light campaigning, doing softball interviews with preselected toadies, shaking down big green, gay, and feminist bankrollers, damning right-wing news, shrilly slurring Fox News, and hoping that she can stay on the Obama reservation and not earn an Obama administration Justice Department, David Petraeus-like indictment.

That’s about it.

But who knows? It might work.

That’s quite a Sword of Damocles that Obama has hanging over Hillary’s head. Who knows — if he actually had any respect for Joe Biden, he might be tempted to use it.

ANOTHER MEMBER OF THE ZIONIST CONSPIRACY AGAINST OBAMA SPEAKS OUT: Saudi Prince Bandar: The U.S. nuclear pact with North Korea failed. The Iran deal is worse. “Writing for the London-based Arabic news Web site Elaph, Badar suggests that President Obama is knowingly making a bad deal, while President Bill Clinton had made a deal with North Korea with the best intentions and the best information he had. . . . The Saudi prince says the new Iran deal and other developments in the region have led him to conclude that a phrase first used by Henry Kissinger – ‘America’s enemies should fear America, but America’s friends should fear America more’ – is correct.”

Smart DiplomacyTM!

MARTIN PERETZ: The Democratic Party On The Edge Of The Abyss. Obama, Kerry, Clinton, et al., sold us out. The only question is, for what?

ELLIOTT ABRAMS: Obama and the ‘Amen Corner:’ With accusations of warmongering, the president feeds anti-Semitism.

This week President Obama sealed his legacy as the most divisive president in modern times, who will leave behind both worsened race relations and a set of arguments about Iran that will surely feed anti-Semitism.

That race relations have worsened under Obama is crystal clear, as even publications like The New York Times have acknowledged. A Times/CBS poll conducted in July revealed that “nearly six in 10 Americans, including heavy majorities of both whites and blacks, think race relations are generally bad, and that nearly four in 10 think the situation is getting worse. By comparison, two-thirds of Americans surveyed shortly after President Obama took office said they believed that race relations were generally good.” And Americans did link the downturn to the president: “almost half of those questioned said the Obama presidency had had no effect on bringing the races together, while about a third said it had driven them further apart.”

Think of that: a third of the American people, over a hundred million Americans, hold the president responsible for worsening race relations in the country. . . .

The basic idea is simple: to oppose the president’s Iran deal means you want war with Iran, you’re an Israeli agent, you are in the pay of Jewish donors, and you are abandoning the best interests of the United States. So Dan Pfeiffer, senior political adviser to Obama until this winter, tweeted that Senator Charles Schumer—who announced his opposition to the Iran deal last week—should not be Democratic leader in the Senate because he “wants War with Iran.”

Hope is what he promised. Hate is what he’s delivering.

Hope is what he promised.  Hate is what he's delivering.

UPDATE: What You See When a Rock Gets Turned Over.