HOT MIC: Traitor Chelsea Manning Won't Rule Out Run for Office

Welcome to HOT MIC, PJ Media's daily liveblog. Join our editors and contributors for news updates and conversation throughout the day, and add your thoughts to the mix in our comments section at the bottom or by clicking on the comment bubbles on individual posts.  Be sure to save this link so you can find HOT MIC every day.

From the Dept. of I Can't Even...

The island of Guam made rare headlines this week when North Korea, responding to blustery language from President Trump, threatened to fire four ballistic missiles into waters near the American territory’s shores. Some Guam residents told reporters that they worried what might happen if North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, were actually to follow through.

Um, I think the Norks started this whole thing, but whatever...

Scientists in Guam, however, say they have at least one other major threat in mind: climate change. “We know that it’s serious,” said Austin J. Shelton III, a marine biologist and the executive director of the Center for Island Sustainability at the University of Guam. “Some of the impacts are here, and a lot more are coming.”

Let's go to the settled science!

Like other Pacific islands, Guam may be affected in the coming decades as climate change prompts shifts in weather, temperature and oceanic acidity, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Experts said in interviews that the primary consequences may include people suffering heat stress because of an increase in heat waves, a rise in the intensity of tropical storms, and the damage or destruction of Guam’s exceptionally biodiverse coral reefs.

Okay, have we got all our monomaniacal tropes in this story? Trump, check.  Climate change, check. Biodiversity, check!  Good job, New York Times!

Not only do old presidents and presidential candidates never die, if they're Democrats they never even fade away:

Both former President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are working on plans to campaign for Democrats in 2018, and Democrats worry they plan to change the direction of the Party. Aides to Obama told The Hill’s Amie Parnes he is looking to resurface on the national campaign stage. Parnes also reported Tuesday that Clinton is trying to sort out what role she might play in the midterm elections.

Although the pair bring a lot of fundraising firepower to a very crowded field of needy Democratic candidates, party insiders worry about who would control the party if either past candidate became too influential.

“He has to be careful,” Julian Zelizer, a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University told The Hill. “At a moment when President Trump’s approval is falling so fast — including with his base — there is a risk for Obama taking center stage and triggering the energy that many Republicans currently lack.”

Come back, Barack and Hillary -- your country need you... to remind us what we voted for in 2016, and why we'll do it again in 2020.

Newsweek's Nina Burleigh thinks it's "horrifying" that "the Trump women" wear high heels because by doing so, they are "playing into male stereotypes."

“Six months in, and the Trump women are well on their way to normalizing the footwear of the beauty pageant,” she seethed in her piece "MELANIA, IVANKA AND IVANA TRUMP WEAR HIGH HEELS, A SYMBOL OF EVERYTHING THAT IS BEAUTIFUL AND HORRIFYING ABOUT THEM" in as perfect a sampling of what passes as feminist thought as you'll find these days.

Just to be clear, high heels are BAD. They are demeaning and "play into male stereotypes."

But a female journalist offering to perform oral sex on a president (Bill Clinton) as a thank you for keeping abortion legal -- that's not bad; it's EMPOWERING.

Lena Dunham faking an orgasm likening voting to sex in a 2012 campaign ad supporting Barack Obama? That was ADORABLE -- not demeaning or playing into any stereotypes about ditzy liberal actresses at all.

A male traitor dressing up in a women's bathing suit and getting his picture splattered on front pages all over the nation? That's not an attempt at "normalizing" a psychological disorder. It's STUNNING AND BRAVE.

Yep, the state of modern feminism is really something to behold these days.

Oh -- I almost forgot to mention that the author of that truly demeaning Bill Clinton piece in July of 1998 was anti-high heel zealot Nina Burleigh herself.


Deep state tries to prevent accountability at Trump's VA.

Last week the federal Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) offered a stay on the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) attempt to fire Brian Hawkins, former director of the Washington, D.C. VA medical center. Hawkins was fired on July 28, but the MSBP order requires the VA to return him to work.

The VA actually returned him to the payroll, despite the fact that Hawkins allowed unsanitary surgical conditions like unsterile instruments. In one case, a patient was prepared for vascular surgery and already put under anesthesia when the surgeon discovered he lacked the necessary equipment for the operation!

VA Secretary David Shulkin was furious. "No judge who has never run a hospital and never cared for our nation's Veterans will force me to put an employee back in a position when he allowed the facility to pose potential safety risks to our Veterans," Shulkin declared in a statement Wednesday.

On Friday, Dan Caldwell, policy director at Concerned Veterans for America (CVA), told PJ Media that Shulkin intends to use his new power under the VA Accountability Act President Trump signed in June to finally fire Hawkins.

"Brian Hawkins was fired under the old law," Caldwell explained. "Now, they're going to try and terminate him under the new law."

The new law laid out important restrictions to the MSBP's actions, restraining the deep state from holding back accountability at the VA. "The MSBP has a terrible history of overturning demotions and terminations of employees who clearly engage in misconduct, in some cases criminal misconduct," Caldwell said.

He mentioned the cases of Kimberley Graves and Diana Rubens, who were accused of pocketing more than $400,000 in moving costs for questionable job moves. The MSBP prevented them from being disciplined or reassigned, and in February of last year, the board ordered that they could not even be demoted for defrauding the government.

Shulkin will likely act to remove Hawkins from the VA, but don't expect the deep state to take this lying down.

From the comments on my post about state and local spending, CapitalistReader shared this map:

He notes: "Spending is only ½ of the equation, the other ½ is revenue. Lots of very rich people spend extravagantly because they can afford to. This map is a better indicator of the states' fiscal health."

Liz linked to this in her Morning Briefing, but you can't absorb the full impact of the story without the picture:

The Vogue headlines screams:

Chelsea Manning Changed the Course of History. Now She’s Focusing on Herself

In the long form Vogue profile, Manning the traitor explained why he joined the military, calling it a "defiant choice":

It was the moment of the so-called surge in Iraq. The news on TV was grim. “I don’t know who I am,” she recalls in the park. “Maybe the military will allow me to figure that out.” She looks out toward the river. “It was a naive thought, but it was very real to me in 2007.”

Newsflash: The sworn purpose of the military is purpose of the military used to be protecting the nation from enemies foreign and domestic and defending and supporting the Constitution. Period. The military is not the place to find yourself or to work out your sexual dysfunctions, although the Obama administration did everything in its power to turn it into a place for social experimentation.

Manning's next stop may be political office:

Manning does not know what her career will be. While living as Bradley Manning, she expressed an interest in running for political office. I ask whether that’s still on her mind. “I’m certainly not going to say no, and I’m certainly not going to say yes,” she says. “My goal is to use these next six months to figure out where I want to go.

“I have these values that I can connect with: responsibility, compassion,” she goes on. “Those are really foundational for me. Do and say and be who you are because, no matter what happens, you are loved unconditionally.” It’s the lesson, she says, that she wishes she learned earlier. “Unconditional love,” she says. “It is OK to be who I am.”

Awesome. Now we can watch the traitor take another oath to defend the Constitution. What could go wrong?

Is Trump posturing in pursuit of a deal with North Korea? Eli Lake, writing in Bloomberg, sees parallels with the actions and rhetoric of other U.S. presidents that eventually led to negotiations.

In substance, if not style, this is very similar to how past administrations have approached the Hermit Kingdom: threaten, cajole and bargain. "This is Obama plus," Michael Auslin, a Korea expert at the Hoover Institution, told me. "It's the same path of enhanced sanctions with the potential carrot of direct negotiations and trying to reassure our allies. There is not much different here."

And it's easy to understand why talks are better than war. The prospect of a military confrontation is too horrific. North Korea effectively holds its neighbor to the south as a hostage because of its conventional military capabilities. This says nothing of allies like Japan, or U.S. forces stationed on the peninsula.

And the critics of war are correct. A pre-emptive strike is not worth the risk. But neither is another deal.

There are a few reasons for this. First, the North Koreans don't keep their promises. Nearly every commitment the regime has made to the U.S., its allies and China, it has violated.

It’s no mystery why North Korea continues to negotiate. The nation needs help from the outside to survive. The regime has pursued nuclear weapons as an insurance policy to stay in power, and since the 1990s U.S. administrations have enticed Pyongyang with fuel shipments, removing sanctions and promises to leave it alone. In exchange, Pyongyang makes empty promises about nuclear weapons. An agreement with North Korea makes America and its allies a partner in the regime's oppression of its own people.

Lake holds no illusions about a deal with North Korea, but he thinks the far better track is to encourage revolution.

The patient part of the policy should be a combination of sabotage and deterrence. North Korea should understand their provocations bring consequences. Those consequences though should be tailored to target the leaders of North Korea and not its broader economy. This means making it harder for Kim and his henchmen to spend and keep their fortunes. It also means accelerating intelligence operations aimed at gumming up the regime's illicit supply chain for its missiles and nuclear facilities. The next time the regime tests a missile, let's hope it blows up on the runway.

The imaginative part is to continue to give North Koreans a glimpse of a better future. Tom Malinowski, who served as President Barack Obama's assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor, wrote in Politico in June that the U.S. should continue to flood North Korea with information. This may sound strange. But in recent years, the state's ability to control information has waned. More and more Koreans living there have access to portable DVD players and cell phones, which are tools to break the state's control over the minds of their citizens.

North Korea may be the most regimented society in modern history. Only the Spartans rival them in world history. This regimentation, coupled with brainwashing under threat of death, makes any kind of "revolution" outside of a military coup a fantasy.

How could a revolution succeed in a country where the people are so thoroughly and completely cowed and manipulated that they wept hysterically at the death of Kim's father, Kim Jong-il?

Not much of a chance for a revolution there.

I want more choices!

Tomorrow, President Donald Trump will sign a bill to meet a budget shortfall in the Department of Veterans Affairs health care choice program. This is a win for veterans who desperately want to escape the VA's experiment in socialized medicine, but it's only a temporary victory.

The choice program was created in 2014 as a response to the VA wait list scandal, and it gives veterans the ability to access care outside the VA system — but only in limited circumstances, such as if they live too far away from a health center.

The bill will give an extra $2.1 billion in funding for the program, but this is a temporary measure. "It basically fills a budget shortfall in the program," Dan Caldwell, policy director at Concerned Veterans for America, told PJ Media on Friday. "The extension of the program was signed back in April, but the funding ran out."

Caldwell noted that some members of Congress actually opposed this needed funding (which Trump will sign tomorrow), and demanded extra unrelated funding. "While we wanted to see the choice funding extended," the CVA director said his organization wanted "a better analysis of the VA's current infrastructure needs" before the unrelated funding propped up the existing framework by extending leases on VA medical facilities.

Liberals continue to argue that the VA's problems are due to insufficient funding, rather than bureaucratic mismanagement, a lack of health care options for veterans, and the lack of accountability at the VA.

"With the current problems plaguing the Veterans Choice Program, Congress must pass permanent reforms that empower veterans with the ability to access care inside or outside of the VA at their own discretion," Caldwell said.

The choice program will get the needed funding, but Democrats have used this issue to squeeze more infrastructure funding to prop up the struggling system. Expect the battle over veterans' choice in health care to get even more heated, and to burst into conflagration after Labor Day.

Vulture has a glorious review of Michael Moore's new Broadway show, "The Terms of My Surrender":

So why does The Terms of My Surrender feel so uninspiring? First of all, because it’s almost entirely unsurprising. In an interview with Time Out, Moore promises that “for 87 minutes, you’re going to experience something you’re not expecting” (the show runs 110 minutes, by the way), but my feelings upon leaving the Belasco Theatre can best be summed up with a long sigh. If I had had to make a guess as to what a Michael Moore Broadway show would feel like, this would have been pretty much it. The Terms of My Surrender feels like a live version of my Facebook feed: a few good stories and a boatload of preaching to the choir (add requisite helpings of self-congratulation and liberal-on-liberal shaming for full effect). From the opening line —“How the f**k did we get here?”— to the set-’em-up, knock-’em-down jokes (re: North Korea: “A leader that’s irrational, unhinged, and maniacal … and then there’s Kim Jong-un!”), to the production’s flashier gimmicks (a Michael Moore 2020 stump speech, a faux game show designed to ridicule American ignorance) … it all seemed too easy, like playing T-ball with the audience. A pity, since in speaking with the Times, Moore actually seems to have a more vital idea of what theater can do: “I want to go and be challenged. I want to leave [the theater] better, smarter, angrier, happier than when I came in.”

Alas, Moore did not deliver:

There is no challenge in The Terms of My Surrender. Well, there is the external challenge to the Trump regime, but no call for those of us participating in the event at hand to reexamine the ideas we presumably walked in with. Despite Moore’s protests (in the Times and in Time Out) that the show isn’t a “political rally,” what else are you supposed to call a room full of people chanting and cheering every time a majority opinion is reaffirmed, and hissing and cursing whenever the Enemy is mentioned? And the audience was cheering all right — and cursing. This crowd was there for Moore. “We are the majority!” he repeated, each time to whoops and applause. “We” and “us” were two of the most frequent words out of Moore’s mouth, and though they seemed to fire up a good number of my neighbors, I quickly started to feel like my significant other was ordering for me at a restaurant: “We’ll have the salmon.” The salmon in this case being Trump’s impeachment.

Here’s the thing: It’s not that I don’t want the salmon. The salmon would be great. I’m the target demographic for salmon. And yet I bridled at Moore’s immediate and unceasing assumption that all 1,000 of us in the audience at the Belasco were one unified liberal “We.” How is such an assumption helping anything — except perhaps a few more calls to a few more senators, and that’s a big perhaps — to occur? How is it in keeping with the statement on the show’s official website that “Michael would love nothing more than to make Donald Trump’s supporters a part of the conversation?” (Fascinatingly, Itzkoff describes watching Moore rehearse a segment of the show in which he invites a conservative audience member onstage for a discussion: Nothing of the kind happened during the performance I witnessed.)

In other words, the liberal Vulture writer spent 110 minutes locked inside Moore's tedious liberal echo chamber and came away empty. At least the author was self-aware enough to recognize how off-putting the show might have been for people who don't want salmon (not that those folks would fork over hard-earned money to listen to Moore's spiel, but still). Maybe the left's strictly enforced monoculture is beginning to wear thin. We can hope.

Sean Kennedy fact-checked this Kaiser Family Foundation map that shows red states with some mighty high per capita state spending:

When he factored in local spending, a very different picture emerges:

Full data set here.