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NOTHING TO SEE HERE, MOVE ALONG: The Hill: Bill Clinton sought State’s permission to meet with Russian nuclear official during Obama uranium decision.

As he prepared to collect a $500,000 payday in Moscow in 2010, Bill Clinton sought clearance from the State Department to meet with a key board director of the Russian nuclear energy firm Rosatom — which at the time needed the Obama administration’s approval for a controversial uranium deal, government records show.

Arkady Dvorkovich, a top aide to then-Russian President Dmitri Medvedev and one of the highest-ranking government officials to serve on Rosatom’s board of supervisors, was listed on a May 14, 2010, email as one of 15 Russians the former president wanted to meet during a late June 2010 trip, the documents show.

“In the context of a possible trip to Russia at the end of June, WJC is being asked to see the business/government folks below. Would State have concerns about WJC seeing any of these folks,” Clinton Foundation foreign policy adviser Amitabh Desai wrote the State Department on May 14, 2010, using the former president’s initials and forwarding the list of names to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s team.

The email went to two of Hillary Clinton’s most senior advisers, Jake Sullivan and Cheryl Mills.

And it sounds like even they were dubious:

Current and former Clinton aides told The Hill that the list of proposed business executives the former president planned to meet raised some sensitivities after Bill Clinton’s speaker bureau got the invite for the lucrative speech.

Hillary Clinton had just returned from Moscow and there were concerns about the appearance of her husband meeting with officials so soon after.

In addition, two of the Russians on the former president’s list had pending business that would be intersecting with State.

On a related note, a reader emails:

You know…when Hillary “fell on stairs” and “broke her toe” and then cancelled all the remaining interviews, I DID wonder if she was going into hiding b/c a story was about to break. Seems the uranium deal story is it. Yet she’s still being protected. I’m actually surprised at that. Figured if the DNC was really tired of her, they’d let it rip.

Yeah, the press hasn’t stopped covering for her the way it stopped covering for Harvey Weinstein. But I think that’s mostly because covering for her on this is a necessary part of covering for Obama.

UPDATE: And on that last note, see this from Andrew McCarthy. “The Uranium One scandal is not only, or even principally, a Clinton scandal. It is an Obama-administration scandal.”

MICHAEL BARONE: “Administration lawyers made complex, sophisticated arguments that Obama’s clearly illegal actions were actually legal. I’m a graduate of Yale Law School; I know how this is done. Many Americans suspect that condescending elite law school graduates are contemptuous of them and their naive belief that words mean what they say. My experience is that those suspicions are well-founded. “

MORE ON JIMMY KIMMEL ON LOSING REPUBLICAN VIEWERS: “I probably wouldn’t want to have a conversation with them anyway.”

We’ll get to Kimmel in a moment, but to understand how we got to this point, let’s flashback to the hypothesis that Robert Tracinski explored a week ago at the Federalist, in a column titled,“Why Late Night Hosts Like Jimmy Kimmel Are Suddenly So Political.” After discussing how DVRs, streaming and YouTube are fracturing their audiences, he concluded:

So the late-night shows are in a much fiercer competition for eyeballs than ever before, and I suspect the politicization is a response to that—a desperate way of getting in the news, of getting noticed, of securing the loyalty of a particular demographic. This is also my theory about the big entertainment awards shows like the Oscars and the Emmys. If the big, broad, general audience you used to have is gone, and deep down you think it’s never coming back, then why not make a harder bid for the loyalty of the smaller audience you’ve got left? In a time when the entertainment industry is (or thinks it is) a one-party state with no dissenters, you had better echo that politics back to your base.

What were once cultural institutions with a broad, bipartisan audience are becoming niche players with a narrow fan base. They no longer view partisan politics as a dangerous move that will shrink their audience. Instead, they’re using partisan politics as a lure to secure the loyalty of their audience, or what is left of it. Not that it’s going to work over the long term, because people who want to have their biases confirmed will just watch the five-minute YouTube clip Chris Cillizza links to the next day.

Tracinski’s theory dovetails perfectly with the above quoted tweet yesterday from the Washington Examiner: “Jimmy Kimmel on losing Republican viewers: ‘I probably wouldn’t want to have a conversation with them anyway.’” The article it links to goes on to note:

Critics like conservative commentator Ben Shapiro have slammed Kimmel for parading as a “moral arbiter.”

“I’m not. I mean, I agree with him. I’m nobody’s moral arbiter,” Kimmel told CBS. “You don’t have to watch the show. You don’t have to listen to what I say.”

A defiant Kimmel added that he doesn’t say “I don’t mind” because he preferred “everyone with a television to watch the show.”

“But if they’re so turned off by my opinion on healthcare and gun violence then, I don’t know, I probably wouldn’t want to have a conversation with them anyway,” he continued. “Not good riddance, but riddance.”

To paraphrase a legendary fictitious newscaster, you stay classy, Jimmy.

Kimmel is afraid to “have a conversation on healthcare and gun violence” because since 2001, the current Democratic Party purity test (just scroll through the Insta-archives on the topic) requires that Inner Party members make no contact with the lumpenproletariat, lest the bad think rub off. Kimmel runs the risk of learning about a topic and having his mind changed, and he and Disney and the DNC certainly can’t have that. And by echoing the party line, Kimmel keeps his base of remaining leftwing viewers, and his bosses pumped up as well.

As Salena Zito, who actually gets up from her desk and goes out to talk to everyday Americans — even icky flyover country Republicans despised by Hollywood! — and somehow survives the process tweets in response, “Narrow-minded commentary by [Kimmel.] Most Americans are willing to converse with someone who sees world differently than themselves.” But apparently, Democrats are done “having a conversation,” and are simply biding their time until they’re back in power to impose their will on us.

DONNA KARAN WILL BE WALKING BACK THIS HEADLINE IN 3…2…1…: “EXCLUSIVE: Fashion designer Donna Karan comes to Harvey Weinstein’s DEFENSE suggesting his victims may have been ‘asking for it’ by the way they dress calling the shamed mogul and his wife ‘wonderful people,’” screams the London Daily Mail’s homepage tonight:

She told a reporter: ‘I think we have to look at ourselves. Obviously, the treatment of women all over the world is something that has always had to be identified. Certainly in the country of Haiti where I work, in Africa, in the developing world, it’s been a hard time for women.

‘To see it here in our own country is very difficult, but I also think how do we display ourselves? How do we present ourselves as women? What are we asking? Are we asking for it by presenting all the sensuality and all the sexuality?

‘And what are we throwing out to our children today about how to dance and how to perform and what to wear? How much should they show?

I’m not sure those are questions a couturier to the (very leftwing) stars should be asking publicly if she wants to keep those commission checks flowing in.

UPDATE: Meanwhile, since crazy pills seem to be abundance on the left, the ordinarily sane, often quite readable center-left Jewish-themed Website Tablet went Stormfront so slowly, I hardly even noticed: “The Specifically Jewy Perviness of Harvey Weinstein,” screams their headline today. Screenshot here, in case it changes.

As Jon Gabriel tweets, “Damn. I’m a Finn and I’m offended.”

(There are no italics in twitter, but I’m pretty sure Jon’s OK with my adding them here.)

HAPPILY, I’M HEALTHIER THAN MY DAD AND GRANDDADS WERE AT MY AGE: Middle-age Americans in 2017 are less healthy than prior generations: Study.

As Americans in their 50s move toward retirement age, many are in worse overall health than their peers in prior generations, researchers warn.

“We found that younger cohorts are facing more burdensome health issues, even as they have to wait until an older age to retire, so they will have to do so in poorer health,” said study author Robert Schoeni. He’s an economist and demographer at the University of Michigan.

Americans born in 1960 or later must wait until age 67 to collect their full Social Security benefit. People born before that were able to collect sooner.

Schoeni and his colleagues analyzed data collected over decades by the U.S. National Institute on Aging and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

They found that a higher percentage of Americans now in their 50s rated their own health as just fair or poor, compared with what older Americans said about their own health at a similar age.

Also, middle-aged Americans today say they suffer from a higher rate of memory and thinking problems, versus prior generations of 50-year-olds.

But I suspect that these self-reports are driven as much by expectations as by actual change. Prior generations expected to feel worse as they got older, and also expected people not to complain about it too much. Note that people’s actual physical abilities didn’t get worse.

MEGAN MCARDLE: Debt Alone Won’t Crush Puerto Rico. Depopulation Is the Curse.

“They owe a lot of money to your friends on Wall Street,” Donald Trump told Geraldo Rivera. “We’re going to have to wipe that out. That’s going to have to be — you know, you can say goodbye to that. I don’t know if it’s Goldman Sachs but whoever it is, you can wave goodbye to that.”

Bond markets didn’t appreciate the verbal wave. The territory’s bonds, already weak from the pounding of Hurricane Maria, fell another 31 percent. White House budget director Mick Mulvaney hastened to say the president didn’t mean what he said. “I wouldn’t take it word for word with that,” he said demurely. Nor should you; as debt expert Cate Long told CNN Money, “Trump does not have the ability to wave a magic wand and wipe out the debt.”

Yet the fact remains that Puerto Rico is not going to be able to pay all of its debts. Prior to the hurricane, the territory had $73 billion in outstanding debt, and a population of 3.4 million people. That’s approximately $21,500 for every man, woman and child on the island – just about enough to buy each of them a brand new Mini Cooper, provided that they don’t insist on the sport package or the heated seats. . . .

And why was the government borrowing so much? For one thing, because the government doesn’t work very well. The operations of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, for example, defy belief: It essentially gave unlimited free power to municipalities and government-owned entities, which used it to do things like operate skating rinks in the tropics. Everywhere you look, you see signs of a government struggling to perform basic tasks: collect taxes, maintain the infrastructure, improve the health system. In the jargon of development economists, the island lacks “state capacity”: It is simply unable to exert the amount of power over its operations that we on the mainland mostly take for granted.

But you can’t entirely blame the Puerto Rican government for the state of the underlying economy, which is what had plunged the island into a bankruptcy crisis even before the hurricane. For that you have to look to the federal government, which eliminated a tax break that had given companies incentives to locate in Puerto Rico, and then oversaw a financial crisis that sent them into an even deeper spiral. We also made sure that a relatively poor island was forced to adopt the federal minimum wage, which was too high for the local labor market. That has contributed to the 11.5 percent unemployment rate. And Puerto Rico uses the U.S. dollar, leaving it unable to adjust monetary policy to overcome economic stagnation.

None of those things will change just because we wipe out the bondholders. And the bondholders are not Puerto Rico’s only creditors; it has an unfunded pension liability of roughly $50 billion. Covering the current liability will consume more 20 percent of the budget.

That figure will only grow, because the biggest problem of all is Puerto Rico’s rapid demographic decline. There has long been a steady migration from Puerto Rico to the mainland. By 2008, there were more Puerto Ricans in the rest of the U.S. than there were in Puerto Rico. But the economic crisis has accelerated that flow to staggering levels.

So I’m guessing that if Steve Bannon were still around, he’d be encouraging Trump to do things that would make Puerto Rico so attractive that not only would people want to stay there, but expat Puerto Ricans would want to return, since most of them vote Democrat, and Puerto Rico doesn’t have any electoral votes. Which would be good for Puerto Rico, and also for Trump. In Bannon’s absence, I’m not sure there’s anyone in the White House who thinks that way.

THIS IS A SOMEWHAT MISLEADING HEADLINE: Explosive possessed by Stephen Paddock may have been used in NYC bombing.

The lede makes a bit more sense:

An explosive compound like the one found in Las Vegas mass shooter Stephen Paddock’s car and home is believed to have been used last year in an alleged terrorist bombing in New York City.

Authorities say they recovered an undisclosed amount of the compound known as Tannerite from Paddock’s home in Mesquite and 50 pounds from his car parked at Mandalay Bay, where he used firearms to mow down concertgoers at the adjacent Route 91 Harvest festival on Sunday.

Police have not said why the 64-year-old Paddock possessed Tannerite, which is unregulated and legally used by marksmen to create targets that emit a small cloud of smoke when they are struck. Authorities also found ammonium nitrate, another ingredient that can be used to build bombs, in his vehicle at the site of the shooting.

Yes, as the Las Vegas Review-Journal article goes on to note, Tannerite was used by an Afghan immigrant in a Chelsea district bombing last year in Manhattan that injured 31. It was also used by this guy a decade ago who created a viral video of his Appple G4 blowing up a decade ago in the early days of YouTube:

So very unlikely an ISIS connection based on that alone, but that isn’t stopping their Twitter account from quadrupling down on their claims. However, at this point, as Rita Katz of the Insite on Terrorism Website writes, “Regardless of Paddock’s motivations, his attack in Las Vegas was a tragic act of evil. But ISIS has come too far to walk back its claims for the Las Vegas attack. Unless it wants its future claims to be dismissed, it will need to provide what it did for flight KGL9268 and other events: proof.”

And more puzzling early details emerge, via NBC:

The investigators are puzzled by two discoveries: First, a charger was found that does not match any of the cellphones that belonged to the gunman, Stephen Paddock.

And second: Garage records show that during a period when Paddock’s car left the hotel garage, one of his key cards was used to get into his room.

There are several possible explanations for these anomalies, the investigators say, but they want to get to the bottom of it.

They are also examining his finances. IRS records show that Paddock was a successful gambler, earning at least $5 million in 2015. Some of that could be from other investments, but most of it was from gambling, officials say.

On Wednesday, Mark Steyn spoke with Tucker Carlson about how, in an era of endless social media,  weirdly blank Paddock’s Internet profile is. There’s video of the interview at Mark’s Website, to which he adds:

Whether or not he sat at gaming tables regularly, a thought occurred to me during the Sheriff’s press conference that this man’s “weirdly blank” public profile (as I put it) is closer to something like a contract killer than a mentally disturbed guy who suddenly snaps. I’m not saying this particular accountant is literally the eponymous accountant of Ben Affleck’s recent movie, but there is a level of efficiency and organization here that separates Sunday night’s carnage from almost all other single-shooter attacks.

So as the days go by this seems less and less like a lone wacko who suddenly cracks up.

Today, Steyn adds:

It is also interesting to note that Stephen Paddock apparently cased the “Life is Beautiful” concert in Las Vegas, headlined by the rapper Chance. The victims at that event would have been very different from those at the country music festival, and the press coverage would have been, too: Democrats would have stampeded down the “white supremacy” track rather than “gun control”. One senses that the killer, in his cold calculations, was aware, for whatever reason, of all these factors.

True, but as Allahpundit notes, the type of venue may have played a larger factor. “My theory for why he might have passed on an attack on the Life Is Beautiful festival was the sheer sprawl of the event, which spread out over 18 blocks. People might have been able to flee in all directions fairly quickly…It’s not the *event* that was key to his decision to attack, perhaps, but the site from which he staged it.”

PERSONALLY, I’M JUST HAPPY THAT THEY’RE NOT LECTURING ME ABOUT MY CARBON FOOTPRINT LIKE THEIR PREDECESSORS, BUT YEAH: Why The Private-Jet Scandal Resonates:

Like state dinners and presidential vacations, private-jet travel comes at an expense that might be shocking to ordinary taxpaying Americans but really amounts to approximately nothing in the greater scheme of federal spending, which is dominated by Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and national defense. All of the corporate-jet travel undertaken by all federal officials, including the president, doesn’t add up to a day’s spending on Social Security.

But it does offend some Americans’ sense of propriety, and Americans aren’t entirely wrong to be offended. From the success of Mark Leibovich’s This Town and Angelo Codevilla’s The Ruling Class to the election of Donald J. Trump as president of these United States, there is a sense that what really is sticking in the great American craw is not so much a dispute over policy differences — you don’t go to Donald Trump for policy insights — but resentment over the entitlement and arrogance of something Americans long told ourselves we did not have: our ruling class.

Yes.

UPDATE: From the comments:

Milton Friedman explains:

“I do not believe that the solution to our problem is simply to elect the right people. The important thing is to establish a political climate of opinion which will make it politically profitable for the wrong people to do the right thing. Unless it is politically profitable for the wrong people to do the right thing, the right people will not do the right thing either, or if they try, they will shortly be out of office.”

Firing Price helped to change the political climate of opinion.

Yes.

AXIS OF EVIL: Iran’s New Ballistic Missile Looks a Lot Like a Modified North Korean One.

Needless to say, the demonstration of the Khorramshahr has added a certain weight to calls in the United States to pull out of or otherwise reconsider the future of the JCPOA. Critics of pulling out of the arrangement say that it could only hasten Iran’s development of both newer and more advanced ballistic missiles, as well as a nuclear weapon.

However, Khorramshahr may prompt additional concerns that Iran may already be working along both of these lines with help from North Korea and other allies. Observers were quick to point out that the missile shares a number of similarities, especially in its apparent engine configuration, with the North Korean BM-25 Musudan, also known as the Hwasong-10.

Iran claims that the new missile is an entirely domestic effort, but it makes similar statements about almost every weapon system it unveils, even those that are clearly derived from foreign designs. Its existing Shahab-3 medium range ballistic missiles are a known derivative of North Korea’s earlier Hwasong-7.

I’m so old I can remember when suggesting that Iran and North Korea cooperated as a terror axis was the punchline to unfunny jokes told by comedians and network news reporters.

WHAT HAPPENED?

Astonishingly, the 2016 Clinton campaign conducted no state polls in the final three weeks of the general election and relied primarily on data analytics to project turnout and the state vote. They paid little attention to qualitative focus groups or feedback from the field, and their brief daily analytics poll didn’t measure which candidate was defining the election or getting people engaged.

The models from the data analytics team led by Elan Kriegel got the Iowa and Michigan primaries badly wrong, with huge consequences for the race. Why were they not then fired? Campaign manager Robbie Mook and the analytics team argued, according to Shattered, that the Sanders vote grew “organically”—turnout was unexpectedly high and new registrants broke against Clinton. Why was that a surprise?

Campaign chair John Podesta wanted to fire Mook, but Clinton stood by him. She rightly admired previous campaigns in which big data and technology were big winners, yet in 2008 it was the candidate and his appeal more than the technical wizardry that pushed Obama over the top. David Axelrod told me that analytics adds a “great field-goal kicker”—no substitute for a strategy and compelling message.

* * * * * * *

 

Clinton and the campaign acted as if “demographics is destiny” and that a “rainbow coalition” was bound to govern. Yes, there is a growing “Rising American Electorate,” but Page Gardner and I wrote at the outset of this election, you must give people a compelling reason to vote and I have demonstrated for my entire career that a candidate must target white working-class voters too.

I’m sure if the campaign had gone with the “Because It’s Her Turn” slogan that would totally sold the deal.

BLOOMBERG: Obama Goes From White House to Wall Street in Less Than One Year. “Obama is coming to Wall Street less than a year after leaving the White House, following a path that’s well trod and well paid. While he can’t run for president, he continues to be an influential voice in a party torn between celebrating and vilifying corporate power. His new work with banks might suggest which side of the debate he’ll be on and disappoint anyone expecting him to avoid a trap that snared Clinton.”

Hey, they didn’t call him President Goldman Sachs for nothing.

PRESIDENTGOLDMANSACHS

But it’s yet another argument for my Revolving-Door Surtax.

Flashback: Joe Biden to Goldman Sachs execs: “I’m doing a job interview with you.”

ART IMITATES LIFE: Books about Russia are red-hot right now.

Russians are hot in the publishing world these days, and leading the pack is “A Legacy of Spies” by John Le Carré, his first George Smiley novel in 25 years.

The latest book finds Smiley protege Peter Guillam retired from the world of spies, enjoying some rest and relaxation on a farm in southern Brittany. But his Cold War past gets dredged up again as he and other colleagues are called back to London to account for past misdemeanors, actions taken during a time when the methods used against the Soviets mattered less than winning the ideological war.

Other recent and upcoming diplomatic thrillers — and you’ll know one when you see it: blocky font, red type, Kremlin on the cover, hammer and sickle optional — include “The Defectors” (Atria, out now) a page-turner by Joseph Kanon involving the KGB, the CIA and two American brothers caught between the two; and “The Shadow List” (GP Putnam’s Sons, out Tuesday) by Todd Moss, formerly the top American diplomat in West Africa, which deals with a Nigerian e-mail scam, a married couple that works for the US State Department and the CIA, and a Russian master criminal nicknamed The Bear.

I’m less sure about the others, but the Le Carré just went to the top of my Kindle stack.

SO NOW IT’S THE 16TH ANNIVERSARY OF 9/11. Back then, InstaPundit was shiny and new new new. Now it’s not, and some people have been warning of “blogger burnout.” But I’m still here. On prior 9/11 anniversaries, I’ve given shooting lessons to a Marine, I’ve taken the day off from blogging, and I’ve even gone to a Tea Party with Andrew Breitbart.

This year, as in most past years, it’ll be blogging as usual. And here’s a link to my original 9/11 coverage — just scroll on up. At this late date, I don’t have anything new to say on 9/11. But these predictions held up pretty well. Which is too bad.

The picture above is by my cousin-in-law Brad Rubenstein, taken from his apartment that day. You might also want to read this piece by James Lileks.

And here’s a passage from Lee Harris’s Civilization And Its Enemies.

Forgetfulness occurs when those who have been long inured to civilized order can no longer remember a time in which they had to wonder whether their crops would grow to maturity without being stolen or their children sold into slavery by a victorious foe.

They forget that in time of danger, in the face of the Enemy, they must trust and confide in each other, or perish.

They forget, in short, that there has ever been a category of human experience called the Enemy. And that, before 9/11, was what had happened to us. The very concept of the Enemy had been banished from our moral and political vocabulary. An enemy was just a friend we hadn’t done enough for — yet. Or perhaps there had been a misunderstanding, or an oversight on our part — something that we could correct. And this means that that our first task is that we must try to grasp what the concept of the Enemy really means.

The Enemy is someone who is willing to die in order to kill you. And while it is true that the Enemy always hates us for a reason — it is his reason, and not ours.

I’ve said all this before, but it bears repeating today. And if I don’t have anything new to say at this late date, well, it’s been a long time.

One thing I guess I didn’t believe 16 years ago is that America would elect such a feckless President in 2008, and stand idly by while he flushed our global position, and security, down a left-wing toilet. But we did, and we’ll be paying the price for a long time.

God bless America. We need it.

I’M SO OLD I CAN REMEMBER WHEN THE NATIONAL LAWYERS’ GUILD FOUGHT MCCARTHYISM INSTEAD OF SUPPORTING IT: Professor who argued ‘all cultures are not created equal’ targeted for removal from teaching law class.

A law group at an Ivy League university is encouraging the school’s administration to consider barring a professor from teaching a mandatory first-year law course, citing her “segregationist” worldview, “bigoted views” and “cultural elitism.”

In a statement posted to the group’s blog, the National Lawyers Guild chapter at the University of Pennsylvania Law School condemned Penn professor Amy Wax’s recent op-ed at The Philadelphia Inquirer, in which Wax, along with a co-author, lamented the “breakdown of the country’s bourgeois culture” and declared: “All cultures are not created equal.”

The members of Penn’s National Lawyers Guild wrote that Wax’s comments are a “textbook example of white supremacy and cultural elitism” and alleged she is a “segregationist” with “bigoted views.”

“We call on the administration,” Penn’s National Lawyers Guild wrote, “to consider more deeply the toll that this takes on students, particularly students of color and members of the LGBTQIA community, and to consider whether it is in the best interests of the school and its students for Professor Wax to continue to teach a required first-year class.”

Professor Wax is the instructor for a mandatory course at Penn’s law school titled “Civil Procedure.”

But like most commie groups, the Guild has always been happy to change its principles to conform with the party line of the moment. Still, I hope that Thomas Emerson, were he still alive, would be opposing this.

THE LUMPING-TOGETHER WAS ALWAYS THE GOAL: Megan McArdle: Southern Poverty Law Center Gets Creative to Label ‘Hate Groups’: Principled conservatives are lumped together with bigots.

In 2010, the Southern Poverty Law Center designated the Family Research Council a “hate group” because of its orthodox position on homosexuality, and its occasionally incendiary defenses of that position.

In 2012, Floyd Corkins showed up at the Family Research Council headquarters with a gun.

I don’t mean to imply that these two things were connected. I’m telling you that they were connected. We know because the shooter told the FBI where he got the idea.

Conservatives have used this to try to discredit the Southern Poverty Law Center’s list of hate groups. But the sad truth is that if you criticize someone, there’s always some small chance that an unstable person will read your criticism and decide its subject needs killing. The shooting is still not the fault of the writer, but the fault of the shooter.

(Just in case it helps, I interrupt this column to point out that you should not shoot anyone I write about, or anyone I don’t write about, or anyone.)

Also, you don’t need to manufacture ersatz accountability in order to discredit the Southern Poverty Law Center’s hate group tally. You just need to tell people what’s on the list.

Some of the groups named are what anyone would think of as a hate group, like, you know, the Ku Klux Klan. But other entries are a festival of guilt-by-association innuendo about people with at best a tangential relationship to the target institution, and whose statements fall well short of blanket group-calumny or calls for violence. Or the center offers bizarrely shifting rationales that suggest that the staff started with the target they wanted to deem hateful, and worked backward to the analysis.

Think of them as leftist propagandists and grifters and you won’t go far wrong.

MORE REASONS TO DOUBT THE “INTERNET OF THINGS:” Algorithm unlocks smartwatches that learn your every move. “Scientists at the University of Sussex have invented a new algorithm that enables smartwatches to detect and record your every move, without being told beforehand what to look for.” I’m troubled by devices that know more about me than I do, especially when security is so porous.

ROD DREHER ON SALLY QUINN, GEORGETOWN’S MADAME BLAVATSKY:

We are long, long past the day when Sally Quinn and her late husband Ben Bradlee, the legendary Washington Post editor, were arbiters of Washington social life. But Quinn, now in her mid-70s, has found a way to keep her name in public. In this delicious Washingtonian profile by Michelle Cottle, Quinn outs herself as an occultist. No, really. And there’s more:

* * * * * * *

Ouija boards, astrological charts, palm reading, talismans—Quinn embraces it all. And yes, she has been in contact with her husband since his passing. Through a medium. Repeatedly.

Some friends have voiced reservations that Quinn is now showing all her cards, so to speak. “Don’t play up the voodoo too much,” one implored. But Sally does nothing by halves. She reveals that, in her less mellow days, she put hexes on three people who promptly wound up having their lives ruined, or ended.

The first, cast in 1969, was spurred by old-fashioned jealousy. Some exotic beauty at a Halloween party inspired lust in Quinn’s beau at the time—and then killed herself just days after Sally cast her spell.

Her second victim was Clay Felker, the longtime editor of New York magazine who oversaw a brutal profile of Quinn in 1973, just before her catastrophic debut on the CBS Morning News. Quinn hexed Felker not long after flaming out at CBS and returning to Washington. “Some time afterward, Rupert Murdoch bought New York magazine in a hostile takeover, and Felker was out,” she writes. “Clay never recovered professionally. Worse, he got cancer, which ultimately caused his death.”

Target number three: a shady psychic who, the autumn after Quinn Bradlee was born, ran afoul of Sally’s maternal instincts. The woman dropped dead before year’s end.

As Zhou Enlai never said, the outcome of the French Revolution? Too soon to tell. Just a reminder: the Post mocked Richard Nixon for the relatively mild mysticism of talking to the White House paintings, and Nancy Reagan for her interest in astrology. It reported that Hillary talked to ghosts while First Lady. It smeared evangelical conservatives as “poor, undereducated and easily led.” Meanwhile, the wife of the Maximum Editor of the Washington Post was playing with Ouija boards and putting hexes on her enemies. The disparity is reminiscent of a passage in Michael Graham’s Redneck Nation:

After a set at a hotel in Washington State, I was dragged into a long, drawn-out discussion with a graying, balding New Ager who just couldn’t get over my evangelical background. “You seem so smart,” he kept saying. “How could you buy into that stuff?”

Here’s a guy wearing a crystal around his neck to open up his chakra, who thinks that the spirit of a warrior from the lost city of Atlantis is channeled through the body of a hairdresser from Palm Springs, and who stuffs magnets in his pants to enhance his aura, and he finds evangelicalism an insult to his intelligence. I ask you: Who’s the redneck?

Come to think of it, I’m not sure if this guy—who believed in reincarnation, ghostly hauntings, and the eternal souls of animals—actually believed in God. It’s not uncommon for Northerners, especially those who like to use the word “spirituality,” to believe in all manner of metaphysical events, while not believing in the Big Guy. “Religious” people go to church and read the Bible, and Northerners view them as intolerant, ill-educated saps. “Spiritual” people go hiking, read Shirley MacLaine or L. Ron Hubbard, and are considered rational, intelligent beings.

Exit quote from the Washingtonian profile on Quinn: “‘You can’t imagine the number of people who have asked me to put a hex on Donald Trump—I mean, I have got friends lined up,’ she says. ‘This is my biggest restraint now.'”

Well, that’s a relief. To paraphrase Thomas Sowell, I’m glad to know that there are at least some limits on those particular visions of the anointed.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Why I’m Leaving The Political Science Association.

Looking forward to a lively annual conference of the American Political Science Association, due to start this week in San Francisco, I proposed a panel on “Viewpoint Diversity in Political Science.” After all, I thought, wasn’t the 2016 election a signal lesson in the continuing relevance of diverse viewpoints in the American body politic?

My submission featured four of the most prominent political scientists in the country who have written on the issue of political diversity in the field. They included Joshua Dunn, Professor and Chair of the Department of Political Science at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, whose co-authored 2016 book entitled Passing on the Right: Conservative Professors in the Progressive University has been a focus of the national discussion among academics interested in the issue; and April Kelly-Woessner, Professor of Political Science and Chair of the Department of Politics, Philosophy and Legal Studies at Elizabethtown College, whose co-authored 2011 book The Still Divided Academy: How Competing Visions of Power Politics and Diversity Complicate the Mission of Higher Education is the gold standard on how to promote respectful political dialogue on campus.

Now, granted, every major conference receives far more submissions than it can accept. Still, I was surprised when the panel was rejected. I assumed that it had been bested by superior panels submitted to the jointly-organized teaching and educations sections of the conference. But when the official program came out, I could see that it was not. Instead, it was crowded out by APSA’s serious lack of political diversity.

A total of 11 full panels or roundtables were accepted in the teaching and education sections. Of these, 7 are on mainstream teaching topics. Another 4 were set aside for, shall we say, more politicized topics. One, entitled “Let’s Talk about Sex (and Gender and Sexuality)”, is on how to restructure the classroom around ideas of being “genderfluid, transgender, or gender nonconforming.” Another, on “Tolerance, Diversity, and Assessment” will focus on how to use administrative coercion to enforce various group identity agendas.

The third, called “Taking Advantage of Diversity,” will help scholars to understand why their quaint notions of cutting edge knowledge are merely expressions of white identity. Another, “Teaching Trump”, is composed of left-wing feminist scholars. Final score for political science education at this year’s APSA conference: left-wing approaches to diversity and difference: 4; conservative or classical liberal approaches: 0.

They don’t see themselves as academics, ultimately, but as ideological soldiers. But now the taxpayers they soldier against are asking why they should foot the bill.

AN IDEA SO CRAZY IT JUST MIGHT WORK: Ivy League Scholars Urge Students: ‘Think for Yourself.’

Fifteen highly accomplished scholars who teach at Yale, Princeton, and Harvard published a letter Monday with advice for young people who are headed off to college: Though it will require self-discipline and perhaps even courage, “Think for yourself.”

The “vice of conformism” is a temptation for all faculty and students, they argue, due to a climate rife with group think, where it is “all-too-easy to allow your views and outlook to be shaped by dominant opinion” on a campus or in academia generally.

They warn that on many campuses, what John Stuart Mill called “the tyranny of public opinion” doesn’t merely discourage students from dissenting from prevailing views:

“It leads them to suppose dominant views are so obviously correct that only a bigot or a crank could question them. Since no one wants to be, or be thought of, as a bigot or a crank, the easy, lazy way to proceed is simply by falling into line with campus orthodoxies. Don’t do that. Think for yourself.”

I’m gratified to see some real leadership in support of free expression and free thought on campus, something that was missing last year. Yesterday I told a colleague that I think we may have passed the high-water mark of PC bullying. He thought I was optimistic. . . .

BAKE MY CAKE OR SUFFER THE PENALTIES: As Ed Driscoll reported yesterday, the D. James Kennedy Ministry is suing SPLC, GuideStar, and Amazon over “Hate” labeling. I’ve had a chance to go through the Complaint, and my view is the defamation claims may have enough merit to proceed, the Trademark claims are weak, but the most interesting thing — and what may be the most impacting aspect of this suit — is the claim under the Civil Rights Act, 42 U.S.C. 4 2000(a), which the Plaintiffs point out:

“Because the Amazon Defendants are operating a public accommodation(s), it is a violation of Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, specifically 42 U.S.C. § 2000(a), for the Amazon Defendants to deny the Ministry the privileges and advantages of the AmazonSmile program on the basis of the Ministry’s religion and the beliefs that are inherent to that religion.”

Now here’s where it gets interesting. If the Commerce Clause gives government the authority to trump a businessman’s personal beliefs, even if couched as a First Amendment expression, then the same logic that requires Christian fundamentalists to bake “gay” wedding cakes against their beliefs ought to mean that Amazon has no right to deprive the Ministry of a public accommodation because they “don’t like” that Church’s view on gay marriage.

I’m betting if Amazon doesn’t settle, that this issue is headed to the Eleventh Circuit, and maybe even SCOTUS. This is right in Justice Gorsuch‘s wheelhouse. Stay tuned.

 

 

THANKS, OBAMA: Waiting Longer for an Ambulance When Seconds Count? Blame Obamacare. “Study finds that expanded coverage from ACA put strain on emergency services not equipped to deal with the demand.”

I’m so old, I can remember when Obama promised that his law would relieve the stresses on emergency medical services.

SHE SEEMS NICE: New Labour MP says she will not ‘hang out’ with Conservative women because they are the ‘enemy.’

Ms Pidcock explained: “The idea that they’re not the enemy is simply delusional when you see the effect they have on people”.

She also tweeted: “Whatever type they are, it’s visceral. I’m not interested in being cosy with Tories. My interview with @skwawkbox”.

New Tory MP Kemi Badenoch disagreed with Ms Pidcock that Conservatives are an enemy to women.

She told Refinery29: “I would call myself a feminist. I have a son and a daughter – I want to make sure they have the same opportunities in life. [The Conservatives] have had two female prime ministers. We haven’t had as many female MPs (the Conservative party currently has 67 female MPs while Labour has 119) but we have had a different way of doing things. For us, a woman in power is more important than lots of women taking orders from men.”

Dozens of young girls from Rotherham and Newcastle could not be reached for comment.

PURE COMEDY GOLD: Antifa protester getting hit in the groin with a rubber bullet + “I Will Always Love You” = Comedy Gold. And better yet, it’s backed up by Science! In a 1993 article, Popular Science asks “Why Is It Funny When A Guy Gets Hit In The Groin?

Besides the Freudian implications of the aggressive and sexual tension in the situation, there’s also the suddenness with which a blow to the ‘nads can take down even an otherwise big, strapping man. “Someone who’s powerful and dignified, who’s now keeling over in response to what seems like this minor infraction–so easily brought down from their normally human perch–is a violation of expectation..”

All I can add is: “Hey, nice shooting, officer.”
**UPDATE: not clear whether it was a rubber bullet or paintball-type of tear gas projectile. Still, I’m betting the cop who fired that shot won’t have to pay for his own drinks for a month.**

I’M SO OLD I CAN REMEMBER WHEN “LOYALTY OATHS” WERE BAD: Clemson RAs ‘must demonstrate commitment to social justice.’ Given all the PC nonsense at Clemson lately, I’m surprised that the South Carolina legislature has shown so little interest.

JOHN KASS: While we’re toppling offensive symbols, what about the Democratic Party?

History is important, but history can also be quite offensive.

But there’s one thing wrong with Sharpton. It’s not that he goes too far. It’s that he doesn’t go far enough.

Because if he and others of the Cultural Revolution were being intellectually honest, they’d demand that along with racist statues, something else would be toppled.

And this, too, represents much of America’s racist history:

The Democratic Party.

The Democratic Party historically is the party of slavery. The Democratic Party is the party of Jim Crow laws. The Democratic Party fought civil rights for a century.

And so by rights — or at least by the standards established by the Cultural Revolutionaries of today’s American left — we should ban the Democratic Party.

Not only get rid of it in the present, but strike its very name from the history books, and topple all Democratic statues of leaders who benefited, prospered and became wealthy by cleaving to the party. And shame Democrats until they confess the truth of it.

The Democratic Party’s military arm in the South was the KKK. The Democratic Party opposed the 14th and 15th Amendments to the Constitution, making the former slaves citizens of the United States and giving them the vote.

If the new Cultural Revolution was serious, wouldn’t it also demand that the Democratic Party be put in a museum somewhere, away from decent people, along with those Confederate statues?

We could put Democrats in exhibits, behind glass, watching white political bosses chomp cigars and pass out goodies for votes, as minorities were relegated, as they are today, to failing schools and lost educational opportunity and neighborhoods that have become killing fields for the young and old.

And in great museums, the Democrats could be studied, safely, without endangering the sensibilities of the children.

We might even peer down on an animatronic Democratic Sen. Robert Byrd, once a leader of the KKK. And with him, prominent animatronic Democrats who, just a few short years ago, said wonderful, moving things about Byrd after his funeral.

I’m convinced.

GET YOUR SHOTS: After daughters’ deaths, parents urged to consider Meningitis B vaccine. Because I’m asplenic and work on a campus, I’ve gotten the older meningitis vaccine for quite some time. I’m scheduled to get this new one next week. College-bound kids should get it too. And hey, it might protect them from gonorrhea, too.

PRESIDENT HASSAN ROUHANI: Iran could restart nuclear programme within hours.

I’m so old I can remember when Obama sold his nuclear deal with Iran by claiming that “all four pathways to a bomb are blocked.”

HAVE YOU HUGGED A FRACKER TODAY? U.S. Oil Drillers Keep Pressure on OPEC With Record Shale Output.

The forecast comes just as Saudi Arabia and Iraq, the two biggest producers of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries promised to strengthen their commitment to cutting production. Crude output in the U.S. meanwhile has climbed in nine of the last 10 months. Prices declined to a three-week low Monday as the growing U.S. output and signs of lower demand from China stoked concern that a global oversupply will linger.

Shale drillers such as Pioneer Natural Resources Co. and Devon Energy Corp. have been taking advantage of price rallies near $50 a barrel to hedge their output for next year and beyond, with some producers locking in prices as far out as 2023, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

The EIA expanded its monthly forecasts to include the Anadarko shale region, which spans 24 Oklahoma and five Texas counties. The region, a well-established oil and gas producing area, has seen an uptick in improved drilling and completion technology, the agency said in its monthly Drilling Productivity report released Monday.

I’m so old I can remember when America’s peak oil days were well behind us.

OK, BUT I’M NOT SURE IF PINCH WILL:

● Shot: “I’m a White Man. Hear Me Out.”

—Headline of New York Times column this weekend by Frank Bruni, 52.

● Chaser:

Not long ago, Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., the 41-year old publisher of the New York Times, was greeting people at a party in the Metropolitan Museum when a dignified older man confronted him. He told Sulzberger that he was unhappy about the jazzy, irreverent new “Styles of the Times” Sunday section. “It’s very”—the man—paused—“un-Times-ian”

“Thank you,” Sulzberger replied. He later told a crowd of people that alienating older white male readers means “we’re doing something right.”

—“Tumult at the Times,” New York magazine, November 16, 1992.

It was during that era that former Timesman Peter Boyer described the atmosphere in Pinch’s newsroom as “moderate white men should die,”  according to William McGowan in his exceptional 2010 book Gray Lady Down.

Based on Bruni’s cri de coeur yesterday, it sounds like little has changed there.

HE’S NOT WRONG: Trump Calls Former Admin ‘Weak and Ineffective’ Where North Korea Is Concerned.

During a brief statement given after a security briefing on Thursday, President Donald Trump touched on the subject of North Korea, specifically where previous administrations were concerned.

Initially, Trump was asked by a reporter if a preemptive strike was on the table. The president responded: “We don’t talk about that. I never do.”

From there, he launched into a commentary on previous presidential administrations and how they handled U.S.-North Korea relations.

“I’m not like the other administration that would say we’re going into Mosul in four months,” Trump said. “I don’t talk about it. We’ll see what happens.”

Pressed by the reporter further, Trump was asked about possible negotiations with the socialist state.

While he said that the U.S. will “always consider negotiations,” he took the opportunity to get a dig in on his predecessors.

“They’ve been negotiating now for 25 years,” he started.

He continued: “Look at Clinton. He folded on the negotiations. He was weak and ineffective. You look what happened with Bush, you look what happened with Obama. Obama, he didn’t even want to talk about it.”

People have been kicking the can down the road for 25 years. Now we’re down the road.

WEIRD: Strokes recently declined among men, but not women, study says.

In 2013, Diana Hardeman was 30 years old. She was a vegetarian, a non-smoker, a surfer and the picture of health — until she had a stroke.

“The paralysis ended up seeping down from my arm to my leg, leaving the whole right side of my body basically immobile,” Hardeman said. “I thought maybe I’m becoming paralyzed or potentially seeing death.”

“It was terrifying,” she said.

Hardeman is an example of a puzzling and concerning trend. A study released Wednesday found that from 1999 to 2005, the incidence of stroke declined in both men and women. But from 2005 to 2010, while the rates among men continued to drop, they stayed the same for women.

Dr. Kathryn Rexrode of Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital said risk factors for stroke — such as obesity, high blood pressure, an irregular heartbeat and diabetes — may for some reason affect women differently than men.

“Diabetes is a strong risk factor for stroke in both men and women, but in women the risk is 26 percent higher than in men with diabetes,” Rexrode said.

Hmm.

THE ATLANTIC ON HOW SILICON VALLEY TOOK OVER JOURNALISM. The piece is written by Franklin Foer, who describes how Chris Hughes, co-founder of Facebook, bought the New Republic and promptly began the Buzzfeed-ification of that once august center-left magazine:

My master was Chartbeat, a site that provides writers, editors, and their bosses with a real-time accounting of web traffic, showing the flickering readership of each and every article. Chartbeat and its competitors have taken hold at virtually every magazine, newspaper, and blog. With these meters, no piece has sufficient traffic—it can always be improved with a better headline, a better approach to social media, a better subject, a better argument. Like a manager standing over the assembly line with a stopwatch, Chartbeat and its ilk now hover over the newsroom.

This is a dangerous turn. Journalism may never have been as public-spirited an enterprise as editors and writers liked to think it was. Yet the myth mattered. It pushed journalism to challenge power; it made journalists loath to bend to the whims of their audience; it provided a crucial sense of detachment. The new generation of media giants has no patience for the old ethos of detachment. It’s not that these companies don’t have aspirations toward journalistic greatness. BuzzFeed, Vice, and the Huffington Post invest in excellent reporting and employ first-rate journalists—and they have produced some of the most memorable pieces of investigative journalism in this century. But the pursuit of audience is their central mission. They have allowed the endless feedback loop of the web to shape their editorial sensibility, to determine their editorial investments.

“Unexpectedly,” the Atlantic’s own lust for clickbait isn’t mentioned the piece: CTL-F “Andrew Sullivan,” brings zero results. At the beginning of September of 2008, Jonathan Last of the Weekly Standard wrote a post at his Galley Slaves blog titled “The Atlantic Becomes a Laughingstock,” that neatly foreshadows what Foer wrote for the Atlantic’s September 2017 issue on TNR:

What’s caught my attention here, then is The Atlantic. I am, and always have been, an enormous booster for the Old Media, and smarty-pants general-interest magazines in particular. What’s so notable in this whole affair isn’t the tarring of Palin but the fact that The Atlantic Monthly is the vehicle for the irresponsible spreading of smears about Palin and speculation so inane that it can’t be counted, by any reasonable measure, as analysis. (Here, I’m thinking of Sullivan’s claim that he thought it possible both Palin and McCain would relinquish their nominations.)

If Andrew Sullivan were to have written everything he wrote this week at his own website, I wouldn’t have said a word about it. The real scandal here isn’t Sullivan: It’s what The Atlantic has become by publishing him.

As for Sullivan’s page views, I sincerely hope that David Bradley isn’t making his editorial decisions based solely on eyeballs and dollars. Were that so, you could simply give The Atlantic‘s pages over to Perez Hilton or Slashdot or Matt Drudge or any other number of content formats. But the point of The Atlantic, like other great journals, is to be something different–to be a stage in the world of ideas, even if it’s not the most profitable thing.

I find the prospect of The Atlantic devolving into some version of Free Republic or Daily Kos to be immensely worrisome. Hopefully David Bradley will do something to put his house in order. Soon.

Let’s give Foer the exit quote: “Journalism has performed so admirably in the aftermath of Trump’s victory that it has grown harder to see the profession’s underlying rot.”

I question both halves of that premise, especially the first.

CHARLIE MARTIN: Diversity Is Conformity At Google.

So, the author should be fired and blackballed.

According to others, he should be beaten. (I’m linking Breitbart, not my favorite site, but a lot of these people have now blocked or protected their accounts.)

I can’t imagine why he felt that “Google has several biases and honest discussion about these biases is being silenced by the dominant ideology.”

Now, I wrote about my own experiences following the Brendan Eich debacle — Netscape was very interested in me and then, suddenly, was not. I’ve had the same experience several times now, and I’ve been effectively unemployed (except for writing) for nine months, the longest time ever (and if anyone needs Python or Java programming, or DevOps with Ansible, especially if it can be done remotely, or technical writing, let me know.)

Is it because I’m a visible conservative? Who knows. But you just have to look at the reaction to this memo to see that his worry that people are being silenced by a dominant ideology is well-founded.

There are a lot of unhappy people — mostly but not exclusively white males — in Silicon Valley who are unhappy with how PC it’s become. (Note that about 1/3 of Google employees who weighed in actually agreed with the essay). This is a litigation opportunity for lawyers who want to use California’s surprisingly strong strong laws against political discrimination in employment. It’s also a hiring opportunity for companies that want to be non-PC. And if all these guys got together, they could probably swing their Congressional district.

Meanwhile, Silicon Valley’s brand continues to suffer as they look less like bold innovators and more like deranged college administrators. This has all sorts of consequences, politically and economically. In particular, if the Trump Administration wants to go all-in on a strong antitrust enforcement effort against the tech industry’s behemoths, these kinds of episodes will strengthen his hand, and weaken the industry’s.

WHAT EVERYONE NEEDS: A Bentley SUV. “An exquisitely detailed, nearly three-ton luxury barge that accelerates almost like a Chevrolet Corvette Z06.”

Personally, I’m holding out for the Mercedes pickup.

I’M SO OLD THAT I REMEMBER WHEN THERE WAS MUSIC ON MTV: MTV’s Iconic ‘Moonman’ Trophy Is Now a Genderless ‘Moon Person’.

THANKS, OBAMA: Iran Condemns Sanctions, Says It Will Pursue Missile Program ‘With Full Power.’

I’m so old I can remember when Iran was under a full sanctions regime and hadn’t received pallets of cash for financing this kind of thing.

WE SEEM TO HAVE A LOT OF HISTORIANS MAKING STUFF UP IN ORDER TO CALL LIBERTARIANS RACIST LATELY: Sloppy History in The New York Times: Who was against “government schools”?

Katherine Stewart has an op-ed in today’s New York Times that purports to expose the sordid history of the phrase “government schools.” The “attacks on ‘government schools,'” she claims, “have a much older, darker heritage. They have their roots in American slavery, Jim Crow-era segregation, anti-Catholic sentiment and a particular form of Christian fundamentalism.”

How reliable a historian is Stewart? Not very.

Since evidence-free smears are all the rage nowadays, I’m going to blame Vladimir Putin’s global crusade against libertarianism.

GOP BORDER LAWMAKER: ‘Can’t Double Down’ on 3rd-Century Wall to Solve 21st-Century Problems.

Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas), who has voiced support for a technology-driven solution over President Trump’s border wall, has introduced legislation in support of building a “Smart Wall” that would entail high-tech detection and tracking systems.

“Violent drug cartels are using more modern technology to breach our border than what we are using to secure it,” Hurd said in a statement last week introducing the Secure Miles with All Resources and Technology (SMART) Act. “We can’t double down on a Third Century approach to solve 21st Century problems if we want a viable long-term solution.”

Hurd, whose district includes 800 miles of U.S.-Mexico border, said during a congressional hearing last week that he favors the U.S. investing in a “smart wall” rather than spending billions to build the 700- to 900-mile border wall that Trump has envisioned.

I’m all in favor of modern solutions to old problems, but we are talking the U.S. government here. You have to wonder if a smart wall might end up as the world’s biggest — and hackable — Internet of Things device.

I’M SO OLD I CAN REMEMBER WHEN PRESIDENT OBAMA MOCKED SARAH PALIN BY SAYING WE COULDN’T “DRILL OUR WAY OUT OF” OUR ENERGY PROBLEMS, AND “PEAK OIL” SKEPTICS WERE CALLED SCIENCE-DENIERS: Peak Oil: What Ever Happened to Hubbert’s Peak? Next year U.S. oil production will exceed its 1970 peak.

TAKE A BOW, DNC-MSM: Last night, the Boy Scouts became the Hitler Youth. Today, Sean T. Collins, a freelancer who has written for the New York Times, Rolling Stone, Wired, and the New York Observer among other publications, declares “The world would be a better place if McCain died in Vietnam,” in a since-deleted tweet, as he and other Democrat operatives with bylines attack McCain for wanting to “kill” people by repealing Obamacare, as NewsBusters notes.

Lest you think this is entirely a new attitude amongst the left, recall this New Yorker flashback to the Vietnam War era. “Punch” Sulzberger, who had published the Times from 1963 through 1992, and whose family has controlled the New York Times since the late 19th century, served with distinction as a Marine in the Pacific Theater in WWII and as an officer during the Korean War. His son on the other hand…

[Arthur Ochs “Pinch” Sulzberger Jr.] had been something of a political activist in high school—he had been suspended briefly from Browning for trying to organize a shutdown of the school following the National Guard’s shooting of students at Kent State—and at Tufts he eagerly embraced the antiwar movement. His first arrest for civil disobedience took place outside the Raytheon Company, a defense and space contractor: there, dressed in an old Marine jacket of Punch’s, he joined other demonstrators who were blocking the entrance to the company’s gates. He was soon arrested again, in an antiwar sit-in at the J.F.K. Federal Building in Boston.

Punch had showed little reaction after the first arrest, but when he got word of the second one he flew to Boston. Over dinner, he asked his son why he was involved in the protests and what kind of behavior the family might expect from him in the future. Arthur assured his father that he was not planning on a career of getting himself arrested. After dinner, as the two men walked in the Boston Common, Punch asked what his son later characterized as “the dumbest question I’ve ever heard in my life”: “If a young American soldier comes upon a young North Vietnamese soldier, which one do you want to see get shot?” Arthur answered, “I would want to see the American get shot. It’s the other guy’s country; we shouldn’t be there.” To the elder Sulzberger, this bordered on traitor’s talk. “How can you say that?” he yelled. Years later, Arthur said of the incident, “It’s the closest he’s ever come to hitting me.”

Pinch and the rest of the MSM haven’t exactly matured much since the Woodstock era. As Matthew Continetti of the Washington Free Beacon wrote of the Times in a 2014 piece titled “Fast Times at Eighth Avenue High,” “The next time our reporters and producers and anchors and bloggers affect an air of moral or social superiority, the next time they pretend to know the answers to every political and economic and cultural question, remember this: They are basically teenagers.”

And regarding their adolescent rage, and that of the non-media wing of the Democrat Party, as Glenn has written, “Trump, as I keep saying, is a symptom of how rottenly dysfunctional our sorry political class is. Take away Trump and they’re just as awful and destructive. He just brings their awfulness to the fore, where it’s no longer ignorable. Now they’re willing to play with fire, risking the future of the polity over little more than hurt feelings, in a way that would have been unthinkable not long ago.”

Related: “And now, in sports news, Deadspin preparing victory lap in event of Sen. John McCain’s death,” tweeting, “I don’t want to hear another [f***ing] word about John McCain unless he dies or does something useful for once.”

I’m so old, I can remember when the left pretended to condemn eliminationist rhetoric.

UPDATE: Liberals Stop Pretending to Care About John McCain After His Health Care Vote.

CONGRESSMAN LUIS GUTIERREZ: When Democrats Take Majority We’re Going To “Eliminate” Trump.

The Lincoln United Methodist Church is a sanctuary church and according to Gutierrez’s website, he “spoke to a packed house about the need to defend DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) and other forms of legal immigration status that are under attack from Republicans and Donald Trump.”

Gutierrez said that while Trump is attempting to criminalize immigrants, the president is the “real criminal.” The Congressman said illegal immigrants are not criminals and that history will determine who the true criminals are.

“For me, the major criminal that exists in the United States of America is called Donald Trump, he lives at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue at the White House,” Gutierrez said to the congregation. “And we’re going to take actions today, and we’re going to take actions tomorrow. And there will soon be a majority in the House of Representatives, and I’m going to make sure that I am there to make sure of one thing, that we write those articles of impeachment and take him to trial before the Senate and eliminate him as president of the United States of America.”

I’m so old I can remember when eliminationist rhetoric was an incitement to violence.

BUT WHO WOULD BELIEVE THEM? “Progressives must preach understanding, not shame, to be effective,” Andrew Redlawsk writes in USA Today. His bio describes him as “a Democratic organizer and activist and is currently pursuing his Masters in Political Management at George Washington University.” Embrace the smugness dripping from his article:

The other night, I had an amazing conversation with a friend who admitted he was a Donald Trump voter. Having known him for most of my life, I was shocked. But as a result, as a proud member of The Resistance, I’m even more certain that we progressives are largely responsible for the rise of Trump’s America.

Amazed that a lifelong friend was one of those people. Shocked that he’s part of the other, deplorable half of America. Whereas fortunately, Redlawsk declares himself a “proud member of The Resistance,” as if he’s in the French underground in WWII. More Redlawsk:

If we’re waiting for people who hold a different view to change their minds without being guided through that process, we’ll be waiting an awfully long time. I think progressives would all agree that time is not something we have to waste. It may not be fair, but progressives must be willing to put aside their anger and hate and take responsibility for creating the change they wish to see in the world. To vilify, shame and condemn only causes those who don’t understand to dig in their heels. If we are the ones who want change, the responsibility is ours to do what it takes to encourage it.

To summarize: Progressives, stop insulting, stop shaming, and stop condescending. Start listening. Start teaching.

Start “teaching.” Guide them through the process.

Yes, Middle Americans love to feel like they’re the left’s students – that always plays really well – particularly knowing that the lessons come with a fair amount of “anger and hate” behind them as Redlawsk admits.

And if the instructions from our would-be betters are rejected?  That dovetails quite well into another piece making the rounds concurrently with the above USA Today article: “Rolling Stone Confirms: Ultra-Rich Gay Activist Is Targeting ‘Wicked’ Christians,” Bre Payton writes at the Federalist:

Ah, so “the wicked’” whom [tech millionaire turned gay rights activist Tim Gill] says need to be “punished” are indeed Christians, as well as everyone who agrees with them. Anyone who stands up for a Christian’s right to live in accordance with his or her religious beliefs will also be targeted for harassment in public and the legal system. Further, he clearly defines “wickedness” as adhering to centuries-old Christian (and Jewish and Muslim) beliefs on human identity and sexuality. To Gill, orthodox Christian beliefs comprise “wickedness.” Thanks for clearing that up.

* * * * * * * *

Nevertheless, asking a judge to think twice before throwing the book at a Christian baker who doesn’t want to bake a cake for a lesbian wedding is a “wickedness” that ought to be stamped out, according to Gill.

This must be part of that “Better Deal” that Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer are promising us. As Erick Erickson likes to say, you will be made to care.

One way or another – we can do this the easy way, or the hard way, as they say in the Corleone family.

UPDATE: I think Steve’s phrase earlier today regarding another column by a lefty trying to make sense of what happened — “If this column is any indicator, even lefties who think they get it still haven’t gotten it” — might need to go into a macro for rapid and frequent deployment.

HAVE YOU HUGGED A FRACKER TODAY? Cheap Crude Is Hell for Oil’s Old Guard.

We live in a new oil reality. Production is surging around the world, and supplies are coming from a number of new places (read: from outside of the oil cartel OPEC). Crucially, the price of a barrel of oil today is less than half of what it was three years ago, and $50 seems to be the new market equilibrium for crude. North America, and in particular the United States, has emerged as the biggest winner in this global transition, but this new reality has produced a large number of losers, too. Petrostates—countries whose regimes have grown fat on oil revenues—have adapted poorly to changing market conditions, and as Bloomberg reports the future looks dim for this category of producers. . . .

The collapse of crude prices hurt everyone in the business of supplying oil, but it was especially painful for petrostates, whose national budgets require a strong oil price to stay in the black. In an attempt to prod prices in the upward direction, OPEC and its ilk cobbled together a weak consensus in order to collectively reduce supplies, but that strategy has been wholly ineffective thus far. Prices remain stubbornly low, while petrostates are ceding valuable market share to upstate producers like America’s frackers. Meanwhile, OPEC members are openly bucking their commitments to cutting production. The cartel’s ability to influence the global market has never looked weaker.

I’m so old, I can remember when anyone who dissented from “Peak Oil” dogma was called a shill for Exxon, and when our own President Obama mocked Sarah Palin for thinking that we could “drill our way out of” our energy problems.

UNEXPECTEDLY!: The Obama-Ayatollah Nuclear Collusion Fraud isn’t working.

OK, The National Interest article is titled “The Iran Nuclear Deal Isn’t Working,” but I think my title is more accurate.

RELATED: Not so unexpectedly. (I’m so old I remember 2015.)

WHOA – CNN TURNED OBJECTIVIST SO SLOWLY, I HARDLY EVEN NOTICED! Journalist Carl Bernstein Declares ‘Cold Civil War’ In America:

On Sunday, appearing on CNN’s Reliable Sources, Carl Bernstein, who along with Robert Woodward, broke the story of Watergate for The Washington Post,  claimed, “We are in the midst of a cold civil war in this country.”

Bernstein, who along with Woodward relied on anonymous sources to discover information related to the Watergate break-in, made his comment about a “cold civil war” to distinguish the era of Watergate from the current political climate.

I wonder if Bernstein thinks he invented that phrase – when perhaps its very first use was by Ayn Rand in a 1962 column with that same title, back when she was giving speeches and proposing book titles railing against JFK’s “Fascist New Frontier.”

(She lost her long-suffering editor, the famous Bennett Cerf, a What’s My Line panelist, over that title – but she may have been more right than she knew.)

Hit the “Continue reading” link for a lengthy look at the “Cold Civil War” phrase in the 21st century and some background on Carl Bernstein’s radical past.

Continue reading ‘WHOA – CNN TURNED OBJECTIVIST SO SLOWLY, I HARDLY EVEN NOTICED! Journalist Carl Bernstein Declares…’ »

OH: Haiti Official Who Exposed The Clinton Foundation Is Found Dead.

The circumstances surrounding [Klaus] Eberwein’s death are also nothing less than unpalatable. According to Miami-Dade’s medical examiner records supervisor, the official cause of death is “gunshot to the head.“ Eberwein’s death has been registered as “suicide” by the government. But not long before his death, he acknowledged that his life was in danger because he was outspoken on the criminal activities of the Clinton Foundation.

Eberwein was a fierce critic of the Clinton Foundation’s activities in the Caribbean island, where he served as director general of the government’s economic development agency, Fonds d’assistance économique et social, for three years. “The Clinton Foundation, they are criminals, they are thieves, they are liars, they are a disgrace,” Eberwein said at a protest outside the Clinton Foundation headquarters in Manhattan last year. Eberwein was due to appear on Tuesday before the Haitian Senate Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission where he was widely expected to testify that the Clinton Foundation misappropriated Haiti earthquake donations from international donors. But this “suicide” gets even more disturbing…

Eberwein was only 50-years-old and reportedly told acquaintances he feared for his life because of his fierce criticism of the Clinton Foundation. His close friends and business partners were taken aback by the idea he may have committed suicide. “It’s really shocking,” said friend Gilbert Bailly. “We grew up together; he was like family.”

Given his connections, his former position, and the whistle he was blowing, Eberwein’s death seems like a big enough story that you’d find it somewhere other than alt-news sites, but as I’m writing this post, the major news outlets have yet to touch it.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: ‘Brown Is Completely Off the Table:’ Private counselors report that, since the election, more parents are ruling out their children applying to some colleges, based on political reputations.

The parents were distraught. Their daughter, a top student, had her heart set on a college that was, in their view, dangerously liberal, an institution to be avoided. They wanted options besides her daughter’s choice at the time … Yale University.

This was the situation a private college counselor shared here at the annual meeting of the Higher Education Consultants Association, one of the two national associations for private counselors. Others in the audience nodded their heads in agreement. Parents were vetoing children’s choices based on the parents’ (not the would-be applicants’) perceptions of the campus political climate. The situation has gotten worse, many said, since last year’s election.

Well, it should.

UPDATE: A lot of people in the comments at Inside Higher Ed trying to pretend that this is about people on the right being close-minded. But there’s also this:

The lesson we get from this is: “Don’t trust guidance counsellors; they don’t know what they’re talking about and give bad advice.” I’m a Yale alum and a college professor, and I, in sadness, told my daughter not to apply to Yale last year. I discovered that Baylor, despite lower prestige, has an amazing Honors Great Books program and probably is better than Yale for any student, liberal or conservative, interested in the humanities. She did apply to U. Chicago and Princeton, but was rejected and so didn’t have to make a hard prestige decision. She was accepted to Hillsdale, Wash. U., St. Olaf’s, Carleton, Baylor, and Virginia, I think, but Hillsdale and Baylor were really the only contenders there. Quality of students, prestige, and intelligence of professors are three important criteria, but all college profs are pretty intelligent and how they use their brains in teaching dominates research reputation.

Indeed.

BRING ON THE EXERCISE, HOLD THE PAINKILLERS. “Taking ibuprofen and related over-the-counter painkillers could have unintended and worrisome consequences for people who vigorously exercise. These popular medicines, known as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDs, work by suppressing inflammation. But according to two new studies, in the process they potentially may also overtax the kidneys during prolonged exercise and reduce muscles’ ability to recover afterward.”

I’ve worried about this for a while, and have reduced my use of them (I mostly take Aleve) for this very reason, even though I’m not one of the endurance athletes in this study. Which is sad, because I get sore.

HOW ZILLOW BECAME AN INTERNET VILLAIN:

I’ve now been writing for the web for 16 years, and yet, I am still capable of wonder at the vast opportunities this technology offers to make a fool of yourself. In the old days, fools were made on a local, artisanal basis, strictly for the entertainment of the neighbors. Now, thanks to the miracle of electronic communications, with a few keystrokes, we can become fools to the world.

Take Zillow, for example. The real estate site noticed that McMansion Hell, a blog specializing in acerbic architectural commentary on modern developments, seemed to be using some Zillow images. Zillow didn’t like this; Zillow makes money by helping agents sell houses, not helping bloggers make fun of them. So Zillow sent a cease-and-desist letter to Kate Wagner, who runs the site, ordering her to take down the photos.

Wagner took the site down. She also took to Twitter to beg for help. In short order, she had a lawyer from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and also, a wave of social media outrage at her plight. That wave crashed over Zillow, whose apologists had to shamefacedly explain that they had not intended to force her to shutter McMansion Hell.

Now I am not a lawyer. But people who are lawyers specializing in First Amendment jurisprudence seem to think that Zillow hasn’t a legal leg to stand on. While copyright does prevent people from simply reprinting images or words that another person has created, there are exceptions for “fair use,” including for the purposes of parody or commentary. Fair use is not an unlimited right to copy, but it seems pretty clear that making fun of the houses on Zillow falls within those limitations.

But even if the law had been behind them, Zillow would have been wise to refrain. That’s because the internet creates something known as the “Streisand Effect.” In 2003, Barbra Streisand attempted to suppress publication of photographs of her Malibu beach home. Prior to this ill-fated effort to disappear them, almost no one had been aware that these photographs existed. Afterwards, everyone knew — and looked.

McMansion Hell was certainly a popular site. I myself have spent some happy hours marveling at the things people will do to their homes, when they are given more money than sense. But it’s safe to say that many thousands of people who had previously been unaware of its existence are now going to view those images. They are also going to view Zillow as a nasty, mean-spirited company that attempted to crush a smaller website that committed no crime, and gave many of us a much-needed laugh.

Maybe I should open a consulting business, where companies thinking of going after people can ask for advice. The thing is, the people who thought to ask for advice probably wouldn’t be the people who need the advice. But hey, I’m available on an ad-hoc basis, for a suitable fee.

THANKS, OBAMA: UN agency expects rising migrant flow.

The U.N. refugee agency says people smuggling and migrant flows in Libya are on the rise, so Europe may face increased flows of migrants and refugees in the future.

UNHCR says 84,830 migrants and refugees have reached Italy’s shores so far this year from Libya, a 19-percent increase from a year earlier. Seven in 10 are economic migrants and the rest are “people in need of protection” like refugees and asylum-seekers.

In a new report on migration trends in Libya issued Monday, UNHCR noted that largely lawless Libya has become a major thoroughfare for migrants, but patterns of movement are changing.

I’m so old I can remember when Libya was a quiet ally in the Terror War.

FORGET COAL: Asteroid Mining Is Coming Sooner Than You Think.

Conventional wisdom may be that going to space to bring back what is needed on terra firma is economically nuts. Not so, analysts insist.

“While the psychological barrier to mining asteroids is high, the actual financial and technological barriers are far lower,” says a recent report prepared on the subject by Goldman Sachs.

Proponents say that before long, robots could be traveling to asteroids to extract platinum and other valuable minerals to haul back to Earth or even one day to use in space-based manufacturing plants.

A 2012 Caltech study found that it could cost just $2.6 billion to capture an asteroid and bring it into orbit near Earth, making human exploration and robotic mining that much easier. “We expect that systems could be built for less than that given trends in the cost of manufacturing spacecraft and improvements in technology,” the Goldman report says.

It also predicts the eventual result would be far lower costs: “Successful asteroid mining would likely crater the global price of platinum” by dramatically increasing the supply.

“The market is a big unknown because of things like platinum,” says Jay McMahon, an assistant professor at the University of Colorado’s Center for Astrodynamics Research. “You don’t know what’s going to happen if you bring back a big haul of platinum, what that would do to the market on Earth or how much demand there is.”

Well, I’m pretty sure the price would drop dramatically. . . . Of course, everything in Earth orbit costs nearly as much as platinum, just in terms of launch costs from the earth’s surface. So almost any space-based materials industry will make doing things in orbit vastly cheaper.

I’M NOT SAYING THAT IT’S ALIENS. BUT IT’S ALIENS. A Planet Is Found. At Least That’s What We Hope It Is. A newly discovered force at the edge of the solar system is the stuff of sci-fi dreams.

Just in time for summer movie season comes news that something huge is lurking out there at the edge of the solar system. It’s really big. It’s never before been detected. It’s warping gravity fields. No, it’s not the latest Michael Bay disaster-fest or the mothership from “Independence Day.” It’s not the hypothesized Planet 9 that everyone was talking about a little over a year ago. Probably it’s another planet. Or maybe that mothership.

Back in 2016, the Internet was all atwitter with the news that astronomers believed they had located another planet at the edge of the solar system. Planet 9, as they called it, was discovered through a study of disturbances in the orbits of Sedna and other less-than-planet-size objects out there in the vicinity of Pluto (which was a planet when most of us were kids and now isn’t). This area is known as the Kuiper Belt. Astronomers, who don’t like to waste mental energy deciding what to call things they study, have a name for objects in the Kuiper Belt: Kuiper Belt Objects. It is through modeling the movement of these KBOs (see what I mean?) that the search for Planet 9 has proceeded. Nobody has seen Planet 9 yet, even with the most powerful telescopes, although with the help of millions of citizen astronomers, researchers have narrowed the field of possible suspects.

Anyway, it turns out that Planet 9 is not the only massive object out there warping the orbits of the KBOs. According to soon-to-be-published research by Kat Volk and Renu Malhotra of the University of Arizona, there’s another one. It’s called … well, it doesn’t have a name yet, but we can make a good guess. . . .

And there’s something else for the sci-fi paranoiac to chew on along with the popcorn. The sequence. In early 2016, astronomers find a disturbance in the Kuiper Belt Objects and think “planet.” Fine, natural phenomenon. Then this year, they find another disturbance and think “another planet.” Fine, natural phenomenon. Then how is it that we never noticed before? Maybe the disturbances are … recent. So if by chance we’re soon told of a third disturbance, then by the James Bond theory of conspiracy it’s enemy action.

Aliens.

ANN ALTHOUSE ON THE REACTION TO TRUMP’S LATEST TWEET:

Over at The Washington Post, Callum Borchers is calling it a “blatantly sexist attack.” Ridiculous. Men get facelifts too. In fact, it’s Borchers who’s supplying the sexism:

When Trump hits Brzezinski and Scarborough on Twitter, he hits Brzezinski harder, more personally and in a way that seems designed to portray her as insecure (“facelift”) and unintelligent (“low IQ”) — as a side piece who would not be on TV if not for her romantic relationship with Scarborough, to whom she was recently engaged.

Trump didn’t say “sidepiece” or characterize plastic surgery as a marker of insecurity. That’s Borchers projecting. What I read in that tweet is that he found it ludicrous that the person trying to insinuate herself into his company was bleeding from the face. That doesn’t sound at all like insecurity. Quite the opposite.

I suspect that Trump knows a lot about cosmetic surgery. And the pic accompanying the NYT story doesn’t exactly undermine the whole “facelift” angle.

But for those who find Trump unacceptably crude, a reminder: How David Brooks Created Donald Trump.

Brooks is, of course, horrified at Trump and his supporters, whom he finds childish, thuggish and contemptuous of the things that David Brooks likes about today’s America. It’s clear that he’d like a social/political revolution that was more refined, better-mannered, more focused on the Constitution and, well, more bourgeois as opposed to in-your-face and working class.

The thing is, we had that movement. It was the Tea Party movement. Unlike Brooks, I actually ventured out to “intermingle” with Tea Partiers at various events that I covered for PJTV.com, contributing commentary to the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Examiner. As I reported from one event in Nashville, “Pundits claim the tea partiers are angry — and they are — but the most striking thing about the atmosphere in Nashville was how cheerful everyone seemed to be. I spoke with dozens of people, and the responses were surprisingly similar. Hardly any had ever been involved in politics before. Having gotten started, they were finding it to be not just worthwhile, but actually fun. Laughter rang out frequently, and when new-media mogul Andrew Breitbart held forth on a TV interview, a crowd gathered and broke into spontaneous applause. A year ago (2009), many told me, they were depressed about the future of America. Watching television pundits talk about President Obama’s transformative plans for big government, they felt alone, isolated and helpless. That changed when protests, organized by bloggers, met Mr. Obama a year ago in Denver, Colo., Mesa, Ariz., and Seattle, Wash. Then came CNBC talker Rick Santelli’s famous on-air rant on Feb. 19, 2009, which gave the tea-party movement its name. Tea partiers are still angry at federal deficits, at Washington’s habit of rewarding failure with handouts and punishing success with taxes and regulation, and the general incompetence that has marked the first year of the Obama presidency. But they’re no longer depressed.”

One of the most famous things about the Tea Partiers was that — as befits a relentlessly bourgeois protest movement — they left things cleaner than they found them. Rich Lowry reported from Washington, DC: “Just as stunning as the tableaux of the massive throngs lining the reflecting pool were the images of the spotless grounds afterward. If someone had told attendees they were expected to mow the grass before they left, surely some of them would have hitched flatbed trailers to their vehicles for the trip to Washington and gladly brought mowers along with them. This was the revolt of the bourgeois, of the responsible, of the orderly, of people profoundly at peace with the traditional mores of American society. The spark that lit the tea-party movement was the rant by CNBC commentator Rick Santelli, who inveighed in early 2009 against an Obama-administration program to subsidize ‘the losers’ mortgages.’ He was speaking for people who hadn’t borrowed beyond their means or tried to get rich quick by flipping houses, for the people who, in their thrift and enterprise, ‘carry the water instead of drink the water.’ The tea party’s detractors want to paint it as radical, when at bottom it represents the self-reliant, industrious heart of American life.”

In San Francisco, too, tea party protesters met pro-Obama activists and picked up their trash. “John,” author of The City Square blog wrote: “As Obama supporters moved along in the line to get into the fundraiser, they left behind an impressive amount of trash … Tea Partiers shouted ‘pick up your garbage’ and ‘this is San Francisco, what about recycling?’ There was no response. They chanted ‘Obama leaves a mess.’ Still no response. Eventually, a tea partier (wearing the black cowboy hat) crosses over and starts to pick up the trash on his own. Other tea partiers join him. Another manages to find a trash bag. Soon the trash is being collected.”

Yet the tea party movement was smeared as racist, denounced as fascist, harassed with impunity by the IRS and generally treated with contempt by the political establishment — and by pundits like Brooks, who declared “I’m not a fan of this movement.” After handing the GOP big legislative victories in 2010 and 2014, it was largely betrayed by the Republicans in Congress, who broke their promises to shrink government and block Obama’s initiatives.

So now we have Trump instead, who tells people to punch counterprotesters instead of picking up their trash.

When politeness and orderliness are met with contempt and betrayal, do not be surprised if the response is something less polite, and less orderly. Brooks closes his Trump column with Psalm 73, but a more appropriate verse is Hosea 8:7 “For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind.” Trump’s ascendance is a symptom of a colossal failure among America’s political leaders, of which Brooks’ mean-spirited insularity is only a tiny part. God help us all.

Nice work, political class. Now if you manage to do to Trump what you did to the Tea Party, you need to wonder: What comes after Trump?

ACE:

A major schism in the party is over the question of how much pretense we’re fighting to keep lying about. A lot of people seem to think that even though we’re plainly in a Cold Civil War, and even thought Joe and Mika spend three hours a day ripping Trump, Trump’s supposed to pretend we’re all (as John McCain says) Good Friends.

I’m not saying Trump scored some tactical victory here. I’m saying, as I usually do- – who gives a wet shit?

How can the flailing old women of the Nominal Right huff themselves up so much to pretend outrage that a guy being attacked by the media everyday decides to occasionally attack them back?

I understand the leftist media’s interest in pretending that they’re behaving normally and haven’t rewritten the professional code of conduct to allow attacks on Trump which would have been near-hanging-offenses on Obama.

But what is the interest of the sissified Nominal Right over defending the media and pretending along with them?

Get along, go along.

WELL, YES: McMaster Points To Obama’s ‘Premature Disengagement’ For Current Afghan Mess.

National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster cast blame for the dire current situation in Afghanistan on the previous administration’s handling of the war effort, while speaking at a Center for New American Security conference Wednesday.

The national security advisor’s comments came during an answer to a question as to how increasing the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan can change the tide of the war. McMaster pointed to former President Barack Obama’s “precipitous withdrawal” from Iraq and subsequent development of the Islamic State as an example of what the Trump administration intended not to do in Afghanistan.

The Taliban have made unprecedented gains across Afghanistan since the end of the U.S. combat mission in 2014, controlling nearly a third of the population. The U.S. backed Afghan National Security Forces have borne massive casualties in the last two years of fighting and continue to suffer from major systematic problems.

Obama’s legacy has been self-inflicted defeat everywhere we faced Islamist terror. Plus, some history, worth repeating again:

IT’S TRUE. HE LACKED COURAGE AND INTELLECT. Obama whines he just didn’t ‘have the tools’ to act on Syria.

Related: Obama seems eager to massage his legacy as it’s being written. We, therefore, are obliged to get the record right.

Well, here’s some history for you:

Rachel Maddow Tries to Rewrite History of Obama ‘Ending the War’ in Iraq.

Flashback: No Doubt About It — We’re Back in a Ground War in Iraq.

Without much fanfare, Obama has dramatically reversed his Iraq policy — sending thousands of troops back in the country after he declared the war over, engaging in ground combat despite initially promising that his strategy “will not involve American combat troops fighting on foreign soil.” Well, they’re on foreign soil, and they’re fighting.

It would have been easier — and would have cost far fewer lives — if we had just stayed. But Obama had to have a campaign issue.

And I suppose I should repeat my Iraq War history lesson: Things were going so well as late as 2010 that the Obama Administration was bragging about Iraq as one of its big foreign policy successes.

In the interest of historical accuracy, 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.

Plus: Maybe that Iraq withdrawal was a bad thing in hindsight. Obama’s actions, if not his words, suggest that even he may think so.

I’M SO OLD I REMEMBER WHEN THERE WAS A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MEDIA AND FABULISTS: Wolf Blitzer: ‘Potentially Very Dangerous’ for Trump to Call the Media an Enemy of the People.

I’M SO OLD I CAN REMEMBER WHEN PEOPLE WORRIED ABOUT PEAK OIL. RELEASE THE KRAKEN.

North Sea oil and gas production has been waning for years now, leading to major energy security concerns for the United Kingdom. But as fields mature and companies face down the technically difficult and extraordinarily expensive task of decommissioning inactive offshore rigs, bright spots still remain for production in the region. The latest comes to us courtesy of the FT, which reports on the Kraken, a new field that has come online just in time to save the British oil company Enquest from insolvency. . . .

We live in a new oil reality, characterized by low prices and a heightened focus on increasing productivity while reducing expenses. The shale boom has made the global oil market much more competitive, and companies have had to become leaner and meaner to survive. That’s been borne out in the North Sea, where producers have fought tooth and nail to cut costs to stay afloat plumbing a resource well past its prime. Average operating costs in the North Sea have fallen 45 percent over the past few years, and EnQuest’s Kraken project has been similarly streamlined.

I remember when anyone who expressed even modest doubts about “Peak Oil” claims was tarred as a science-denier in the pay of Big Oil.

HEY, BERNIE FANS, HOW DOES IT FEEL TO SUPPORT A FRAUD? Sanders dodges question on FBI investigation into his wife.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Monday ignored questions about the FBI investigation into his wife from Fox News and the Associated Press, opting instead to give an answer about healthcare to a Fox News reporter who caught up with him outside the Capitol.

“No, that’s not what I’m talking about today,” Sanders told an Associated Press reporter who also attempted to ask about the FBI’s investigation into his wife.

The FBI is reportedly looking into whether Jane Sanders falsified loan documents while she served as the president of Burlington College. The small Vermont liberal arts school closed down in May 2016 after going bankrupt and failing to meet accreditation standards.

A family spokesperson confirmed to the AP on Monday that Jane Sanders has hired a lawyer to protect her interests.

A reporter for Fox News asked Sanders Monday if he still thought the probe into his wife was “politically motivated” now that other news outlets have reported on the investigation.

Heh.

JUSTICES CLARENCE THOMAS AND NEIL GORSUCH:

For those of us who work in marbled halls, guarded constantly by a vigilant and dedicated police force, the guarantees of the Second Amendment might seem antiquated and superfluous. But the Framers made a clear choice: They reserved to all Americans the right to bear arms for self-defense. I do not think we should stand by idly while a State denies its citizens that right, particularly when their very lives may depend on it.

Well, in today’s Wall Street Journal, we have a Congressman who doesn’t feel safe without a gun after having colleagues gunned down by a crazed Bernie Sanders supporter:

When Republican lawmakers came under fire during a June 14 baseball practice in Virginia, they were trapped by a tall fence with one exit. Thanks to armed officers guarding House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, only five people were wounded.

But although members of the congressional leadership are provided security details, the rest of us have to count on luck. “When congressmen and senators are off the Capitol Hill campus, we are still high-profile targets, but we have zero protection,” Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama told John Lott of the Crime Prevention Research Center. . . .

At least five congressmen at the baseball practice have concealed handgun permits in their home states. At least one aide also has a permit. Others may be reluctant to announce publicly that they do, since part of the benefit of carrying a concealed weapon is that potential attackers do not know who is armed. That’s why uniformed police have an almost impossible job stopping terrorist attacks. A uniform is like a neon sign flashing: “I have a gun. Shoot me first.”

In 2015 the Daily Caller surveyed 38 conservative members of Congress, asking whether they held a concealed-carry permit. Thirty declined to answer. Of the eight who did respond, six had permits. Jerry Henry, executive director of Georgia Carry, says that as of last year nine of the 10 Republican congressmen from his state had a concealed-carry permit.

An aide says that when Rep. Barry Loudermilk is speaking at public events in his district, “they always have someone with the congressman who is carrying.” Likewise, when I’m home in Kentucky, my staff and I carry weapons.

But the District of Columbia’s gun regulations meant no one had a permitted, concealed handgun at the congressional baseball practice. Virginia, where the attack occurred, honors permits from any other state. But as Mr. Brooks explained: “My residence is in the District of Columbia, which means that it would have been illegal for me to take my weapon with me to the ballpark—about a 9-mile bike ride—and it would have also been illegal for me to come from Virginia back into D.C. with my weapon.”

Both Rep. Brooks and the Loudermilk aide say they believe the attack could have been ended much earlier. The aide, who asked to be unnamed, has received active-shooter training and remained behind a car 15 to 20 yards from the attacker. He believes he could have shot the attacker from his position and ended the attack “probably four minutes earlier.”

It’s not just members of Congress who need this right, and I’m happy to see that this proposed legislation doesn’t just apply to Congressmen and their staffs: “That’s why I have introduced legislation to allow people with concealed handgun permits from any state to carry their permitted firearms into the District of Columbia. It’s a miracle that only five were wounded at the Republicans’ baseball practice. Next time the results might be even more devastating.”

MONEY: Why Democrats can’t quit Nancy Pelosi.

Democrats would have massive gaps to fill if they were to oust Pelosi.

Chief among those is fundraising. Since 2002, Pelosi has hauled in $568 million for House Democratic campaigns — including $141 million during the 2016 campaign cycle.

Pelosi also has a long history of holding her party together through difficult votes — enabling former President Barack Obama to shepherd into law a series of Democratic-backed measures in 2009 and 2010 and later forcing Republicans to grapple with the politically damaging divisions within their own ranks.

No other Democrat possesses the stature to match those accomplishments.

That reality was the subtext for Pelosi’s taunting remarks Thursday in which she cast her Democratic critics as hungry for attention rather than serious about ousting her.

“When it comes to personal ambition and having fun on TV, have your fun,” Pelosi said. “I love the arena. I thrive on competition.”

Of the political impact of the Republican attacks: “I think I’m worth the trouble,” she said.

Half a billion dollars worth of fundraising is nothing to sneeze at, but even that has gotten Democrats the majority in just two elections — one won on the back of George W. Bush’s implosion, and the other on Barack Obama’s coattails.

BY THE NUMBERS: Four Senate Republicans Say They Can’t Support Health Care Bill Yet.

The four conservative GOP senators — Rand Paul of Kentucky, Mike Lee of Utah, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Ted Cruz of Texas — released a joint statement Thursday afternoon outlining their concerns:

“Currently, for a variety of reasons, we are not ready to vote for this bill, but we are open to negotiation and obtaining more information before it is brought to the floor. There are provisions in this draft that represent an improvement to our current healthcare system but it does not appear this draft as written will accomplish the most important promise that we made to Americans: to repeal Obamacare and lower their healthcare costs.”

“It looks like a reiteration or a keeping of Obamacare,” Sen. Paul told reporters Thursday afternoon. “I’m a ‘no’ on the bill currently.”

Paul said the group came out together because they’d have more negotiating power to move the bill in a more conservative direction.

Their displeasure includes the amount of subsidies given to people to purchase insurance, the Medicaid expansion continues for another three years and the $15 billion per year to prop up the insurance companies providing insurance in the individual Obamacare market for the next three years.

There may be some kabuki going on here, much like Nancy Pelosi’s mock drama the day her House passed ObamaCare — she’s too sharp an operator to have held the vote if she didn’t already have the votes.

McConnell’s bill still has a few missing items, such as cross-state purchasing, any one of which might be enough to bring Johnson and Lee on board. My gut feeling is that Paul and Cruz will remain holdouts, but McConnell only needs two more votes plus Mike Pence to pass the thing.

But then there’s this from the NYT: McConnell’s Calculation May Be That He Still Wins by Losing.

In his 2016 memoir, “The Long Game,” he noted that, as minority leader, he went out of his way to make sure that one party owned the health care issue. “I wanted a clear line of demarcation — they were for this, and we were against it,” he said. Perhaps he is not excited to let that one party now be his own.

We should have an answer in the next week.

WHEN VICTIM GROUPS CLASH: The Daily Signal reports on an i̶l̶l̶e̶g̶a̶l̶ ̶a̶l̶i̶e̶n̶ undocumented resident who thought it might be fun to kill a 17-year-old Muslim girl:

Authorities said a man they identified as Darwin Martinez Torres, 22, attacked and abducted Nabra Hassanen after getting into an argument with a group of about 15 young Muslims on their way to a nearby mosque in Sterling, Virginia. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials confirmed to The Daily Caller and other news outlets that Torres is an illegal immigrant from El Salvador who was living in Sterling.

The kicker? Nabra lived with her family in Reston, in Fairfax County, a “sanctuary” county. I’m betting her grieving family is asking the same questions that Kate Steinle‘s family is asking. Here’s wishing them all peace.

 

INCITEMENT TO VIOLENCE:

Every policy difference, no matter how trivial, has been cast as a matter of life and death. Proposed changes in federal Medicaid reimbursement practices will consign “tens of thousands of people” to early death, according to Senator Bernie Sanders, while rolling back federal guidelines on transgender bathroom signage will cause more teenagers to kill themselves, according to ThinkProgress. Abandonment of the non-enforceable and voluntary Paris Accord on Climate

Change will doom the world to “catastrophe” and imminent mass extinction, according to Jill Stein.
In the last few weeks, the violent rhetoric crossed a fever line. CNN personality Kathy Griffin posed deadpan holding a severed and bloody head resembling Donald Trump; on television the next day, she tearfully denounced the many “old white men” who have supposedly bullied her. New York’s venerable Shakespeare in the Park is currently performing a modern-dress version of Julius Caesar, in which a Trump-qua-Caesar character is murdered every night in a particularly bloody and graphic staging.

Following the shooting, liberal Twitter erupted in cynical snark. Op-ed writer Malcolm Harris wondered if the shooter could plead self-defense, in the event he had a pre-existing condition. Sonia Gupta, a Louisiana former prosecutor, counseled her followers not to be too sad about the wounding of Representative Steve Scalise, because “he’s a racist piece of shit and hateful bigot.” David Frum, though not a liberal, reminded us that “the president is the country’s noisiest inciter of political violence,” though the violence he has supposedly incited appears to be mostly from the other side.

As Iowahawk asled today on Twitter, “I’m genuinely curious. Has this assassination attempt caused anyone to engage in self reflection, other than Ted Nugent?”

TEACH WOMEN NOT TO LIE ABOUT RAPE: Former college co-ed, 19, who falsely accused two football players of rape at a party to get sympathy from a prospective boyfriend faces TWO YEARS in jail in plea deal.

In February, then-18-year-old Yovino was charged with falsely reporting an incident and tampering with or fabricating evidence.

Police alleged Yovino made up the rape story last October to gain the sympathy of a prospective boyfriend because she worried he would lose romantic interest in her when it became known she had sex with two football players in a bathroom during an off-campus party.

The players told police they had consensual sex with Yovino and were eventually cleared in the case. . . .

Other students who were at the party later confirmed to police that Yovino was seen following the two men into the bathroom willingly.

Another witness said he overheard Yovino telling the men she wanted to have sex with them, according to an affidavit.

When pressed by police about the inconsistences in her story, Yovino allegedly confessed, saying she had made up the rape allegations.

The affidavit stated: ‘She admitted that she made up the allegation of sexual assault against (the football players) because it was the first thing that came to mind and she didn’t want to lose (another male student) as a friend and potential boyfriend.

‘She stated that she believed when (the other male student) heard the allegation it would make him angry and sympathetic to her.’

Weird, because I’m always hearing that this sort of thing doesn’t actually happen.

HMM: Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein acknowledges he may need to recuse himself from Russia probe, sources say.

Those private remarks from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein are significant because they reflect the widening nature of the federal probe, which now includes a preliminary inquiry into whether President Donald Trump attempted to obstruct justice when he allegedly tried to curtail the probe and then fired James Comey as FBI director.

Rosenstein, who authored an extensive and publicly-released memorandum recommending Comey’s firing, raised the possibility of his recusal during a recent meeting with Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand, the Justice Department’s new third-in-command, according to sources.

Although Rosenstein appointed a special counsel to lead the federal probe, he still makes the final decisions about resources, personnel and — if necessary — any prosecutions.

In the recent meeting with Brand, Rosenstein told her that if he were to recuse himself, she would have to step in and take over those responsibilities. She was sworn-in little more than a month ago.

I’m dubious of unnamed sources, but we’ll see if Brand steps in.

KURT SCHLICHTER: Why Should We Trust Mueller?

The establishment is praising Mueller up and down. They tell me he’s honest. They tell me he’s incorruptible. But they also told me Jim Comey was a towering paragon of virtue instead of a towering pile of Harry Reid. . . .

Why should we believe this isn’t rigged? Because people in D.C. promise us that “Hey, this guy is honest?”

I guess we’re supposed to think “Yeah, well this time they’ve got to be telling us the truth. They’re totally due.”

But here’s the problem – we now have lots of new facts that change the original picture of our esteemed special counsel. Yes, as the Democrat steno pool that is the media has pointed out as we got woke to what’s happening, a lot of conservatives (including me) were initially satisfied with Mueller when he was appointed to investigate the Trump/Russia connection that everyone now admits doesn’t exist. But then came some troubling revelations which – whoa! – made us re-evaluate our prior understanding. So we – brace yourselves! – changed our minds in the face of new evidence.

Let’s look at all of the evidence. Mueller seems like a good guy. War hero. No scandals as FBI director. Not a known scumbag or skeevy perv. In Washington terms, the last one alone puts him miles ahead of the competition.

But now we find out that he’s Leaky Jim Comey’s bestest buddy there ever was. These guys are pals, and now Mueller is going to investigate the dude who fired his amigo? Does that seem cool to you?

If the HR Department at work is investigating you, do they pick as the lead investigator the guy you go drink Budweiser with? Sure they do, unless Chet the Unicorn is free, because the only thing more unlikely than picking a key player in the investigation’s friend to do it is picking a damn unicorn to do it.

So, Jim Comey – whose hurt feelings seem to be the only thing left of this Schumer-show of a scandal – is the key guy in the pseudo-scandal, and he’s got a motive to shaft the president, yet his friend is investigating it and somehow that’s supposed to be A-OK?

Related: “I’ll say it: If the special counsel’s office is leaking prejudicial information about an investigation, it should be shut down immediately.”

Also: “Sessions can’t sit on this. He’s either got to come out [and say] WaPo is wrong or he’s got to make the entire team recuse itself, start over.”

UPDATE: From Randy Barnett: “Mueller should resign not recuse. If he recuses, the matter will be delegated to one of the Democrat attack lawyers he’s hired.”

By the way, for those who don’t know, this is a celebrated Georgetown Law Professor who’s now calling for Mueller to step down over conflicts.

Related: Mueller Is Conflicted Out.

28 CFR Section 45.2 provides in part as follows:

Disqualification arising from personal or political relationship.

(a) Unless authorized under paragraph (b) of this section, no employee shall participate in a criminal investigation or prosecution if he has a personal or political relationship with:

(1) Any person or organization substantially involved in the conduct that is the subject of the investigation or prosecution; or

(2) Any person or organization which he knows has a specific and substantial interest that would be directly affected by the outcome of the investigation or prosecution….

(c) For the purposes of this section:

(2)Personal relationship means a close and substantial connection of the type normally viewed as likely to induce partiality….Whether relationships (including friendships) of an employee to other persons [outside his or her family] or organizations are “personal” must be judged on an individual basis with due regard given to the subjective opinion of the employee.

Jim Comey and Bob Mueller have been friends for about 15 years. They were partners in the episode that — I think it’s no exaggeration to say — defined Comey’s professional persona more than any other in his career. It would be surprising if it did not also forge a permanent bond with Mueller. . . .

Comey now finds himself smack-dab at the center of the Russian investigation over which Mueller presides. Questions swirl around Comey — about whether the President wanted/hinted/hoped/asked/directed/or something else the investigation of National Security Adviser Gen. Flynn to be stopped/abandoned/slowed/soft-peddled/something else. This is probably the central element of the obstruction of justice case Mr. Trump’s opponents would like to see made against him.

Questions also swirl about Comey’s notes about this conversation, why he gave them to a private individual (Prof. Dan Richman of Columbia Law) to convey to the press. Additional questions have arisen about whether this curious and seemingly devious means of putting contents of the notes in the public domain (leaking, in other words) was designed specifically to bring about the appointment of a Special Counsel outside the President’s direct reach — and, indeed, whether Comey wanted, expected or intended his friend Mueller to get the job.

There is much to be said of all this, none of it very happy-making. But one thing that can be said with considerable clarity if not comfort is that, under the governing rules (set forth above), Mueller has a long-term relationship with Comey that “may result in a personal…conflict of interest, or the appearance thereof.”

He is therefore disqualified. I hope and believe that Mueller, whom I believe to be an honest man and a partisan of the rule of law, will see this for himself. If he doesn’t, I hope Rod Rosenstein will.

Mueller should resign. Aside from the issues above, I don’t see any way that his office’s work will be seen as impartial, defeating the point of a special counsel. And given that — as even Chris Matthews has admitted — the whole Russia-collusion story has imploded, I’m not sure why his office shouldn’t just be shut down.

MORE: From the comments:

Trust Mueller? From the WaPo article on obstruction we get this gem:

“Five people briefed on the interview requests, speaking on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly…”

Five friggin’ people on Mueller’s super-secret investigation team leaked!

Yeah, let’s trust these people.

What percentage is that of the office as a whole?

SETH BARRON: Incitement To Violence. “Democrats may be horrified by today’s attempted massacre of the GOP House baseball team by an avowed progressive, but their incendiary demands for ‘massive resistance’ since November have been an open plea for the escalation of words into violent action. The daily repetition that President Trump is an illegitimate usurper who stole the election through collusion with foreign powers has been a hypnotic incantation in search of an Oswald: a siren call for an assassin.”

Related: From Middlebury to Alexandria, the Left Embraces Political Violence.

Flashback: The Left Won’t Rest Until Somebody Gets Killed. “I’m old enough to remember when ‘violent rhetoric’ was the root of all our problems, and crosshairs on a website no one ever saw was the reason for mass murder. Of course, those were different times, times in which the president had a (D) after his name, not an evil (R). . . . But if liberals believed what they were saying back then, what does it tell us about what they’re hoping for now? There’s really only one conclusion to draw: They want blood, literal blood.”

Related: Leaked Screenshots Reveal BuzzFeed Director Wishing for Trump Assassination.

Plus: The Return of Assassination Fascination.

Also: Assassination Threats Against Trump Flood Twitter.

And: “Question for NBC, do you condone your producers justifying an attempted assassination on Donald Trump?”

Finally: Scott Adams: The Media Are Trying To Get Donald Trump Killed.

UPDATE: Okay, Stephen already ran this quote from Ace, but I’m going to run it again: “At this point in the Dylan Roof Cycle the media already had enough evidence to demand that all confederate flags be stricken from the masts, and yet here, they can’t draw any kind of line between remorseless leftist agitation to violence and the inevitable fruition of such.”

Plus: “The media’s big problem right now is that everyone in the country knows how they’d be covering this shooting if the parties were reversed.”

AT AMAZON, Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute Blend, 2.2oz. This spice blend is amazing and really cuts down on the need for butter or oils on meat, fish or chicken. Plus it has no salt. My trainer at the gym told me about it and now I’m hooked.

I’M SO OLD I REMEMBER WHEN DEMOCRATS LECTURED US ABOUT THE IMPORTANCE OF RESPECTING ELECTION RESULTS: Rich Lowry: American politics is now all about one thing: impeachment. “What would Democrats impeach Trump for? This is a question of mere details. They’ll surely find a case somewhere amidst the feverish allegations of obstruction of justice, abuse of power and violations of the emoluments clause.”

Democrats since November are like a dog chasing a truck. They won’t like what happens if they catch it, but they can’t help themselves.

SO, I’M NO LONGER USING WEATHER.COM.  I COULD TAKE CLICK BAIT.  I COULD TAKE THEIR LESS THAN STELLAR WEATHER PREDICTIONS: But this stupid, ham handed insertion of politics, using stupid science as a justification, I will not take. (Even if the Paris agreement did anything to reduce global warming; even if antropogenic causes of global warming were true, it would be approximately 10000 years before we saw any effect.  I guess Trump is supposed to be immortal.) Oh, the Irony: Trump May Have Sped Up Damage to His Real Estate Holdings By Pulling Out of the Paris Accord.  Seriously.  This is vomit inducing.

I’M OLD ENOUGH TO REMEMBER WHEN THE “DEEP STATE” WAS SUPPOSED TO JUST BE A FIGMENT OF PARANOID RIGHTISTS’ IMAGINATION: Leading liberals develop blueprint to expand ‘deep state’ and undercut Trump.

Forlorn liberals took refuge at the American Constitution Society’s national convention in Washington this week, discussing whether to encourage the growth of the “deep state” resistance inside the government or fight President Trump from outside.

“The election of Donald Trump was an assault on the federal bureaucracy,” William Yeomans said to a room full of students and civil servants, including those recently displaced by Trump’s administration. “His values are simply not consistent with the values of people who are committed to public service and who believe deeply in the importance of public service.”

Yeomans, an American University law professor with more than 25 years of experience at the Justice Department, was holed up inside the Capital Hilton hotel downtown on a sunny Friday afternoon leading a panel of bureaucrats and scholars divided about how best to fight Trump.

UCLA law professor Jon Michaels said he favors filling the Trump administration with liberals opposed to Trump’s agenda.

“We hear a lot of language about draining the swamp and this idea about a deep state that somehow was going to thwart the intentions or the political mandate of the president,” Michaels said. “I kind of embrace this notion of the ‘deep state.'”

Michaels listed his ideas for how to ensure the success of the “deep state.” Act as a group — a department, across agency lines, as a community — rather than as an individual when pushing back against Trump from the inside, he said. Once such a coalition is formed, he suggested “rogue tweeting” or “leaking to the media” as options for fighting the president.

Just remember, you’re setting the stage for a similar campaign of massive resistance to the next Democrat in the White House. And it may not be limited to the bureaucracy. I mean if this sort of thing is okay, why not refusal to pay taxes, or a Tea Party mob occupying the White House? And that’s just at the top of the slippery slope of “resistance.” At the bottom? Bureaucrats and politicians hanging from lampposts while their families try to evade the mobs. Is this really where you want to go, lefties?

And if you think this is “special” because you think Trump is unfit for office, what about the majority of Americans who think the federal government operates without the consent of the governed? If bureaucrats are free to ignore the law, why should they listen to bureaucrats? Do you really want to live in a Kurt Schlichter novel?

INNOVATION: Air Force cadet creates bulletproof breakthrough.

Air Force cadet Hayley Weir had an idea that turned out to be a game changer. “It was just the concept of going out there and stopping a bullet with something that we had made in a chemistry lab.”

The 21-year-old Weir approached Air Force Academy Assistant Professor Ryan Burke with the idea. He was skeptical.

“I said, ‘I’m not really sure this is going to work, the body armor industry is a billion-plus-dollar industry,” he noted.

Weir’s idea was to combine anti-ballistic fabric with what’s known as a shear thickening fluid to create a less heavy material to use in body armor. She demonstrated the principle to Burke by combining water and cornstarch in a container and asking the professor to jam his finger into the paste-like goo.

“I jam my finger right into this bowl, and I almost broke my finger! Hayley’s laughing because I’ve got this finger that I’m shaking and I’m saying, ‘You know, that’s pretty impressive stuff.'”

Read the whole thing.

MILLI VANILLI COULD NOT BE REACHED FOR COMMENT:

Shot: “The virtuoso performances of cellist Yo-Yo Ma and violinist Itzhak Perlman heard around the world during President Barack Obama’s inauguration were in fact recordings made two days earlier.”

“Barack Obama inauguration music was mimed,” the London Telegraph, January 23, 2009.

Double shot: “Singer Beyonce has admitted miming during her rendition of the American national anthem at the inauguration of President Obama last month. She told reporters that she was a ‘perfectionist’ and — due to lack of rehearsal time — ‘did not feel comfortable taking a risk’. ‘I wanted to make him [Obama] and my country proud, so I decided to sing along with my pre-recorded track.’ ‘I’m very proud of my performance,’ she said.”

“Beyonce admits inauguration miming,” the BBC, February 1st, 2013.

Chaser: “Scheduled to open in 2021, the Obama Presidential Center will rise in Jackson Park on the South Side. In a break from tradition, former President Barack Obama’s official papers and artifacts will not be housed there but will be digitized and stored elsewhere by the National Archives and Records Administration and made available through loans. The cost of the center is expected to be at least $500 million.”

—The Chicago Tribune, May 31st, 2017.

No word yet if one of the digital artifacts will be a recreation of Teleprompter XD-235.

I’M OLD ENOUGH TO REMEMBER WHEN MENTIONING VALERIE PLAME — WHO WAS NEITHER UNDERCOVER NOR AN AGENT — WAS TREASON OF THE FIRST ORDER: New York Times defends decision to identify undercover CIA agent.

The New York Times on Friday published the name of what is believed to be an undercover CIA agent leading U.S. operations related to Iran, and defended the move by saying the agent’s name had been published before.

The report said that Michael D’Andrea was recently named as the chief of Iran operations and described him as having the most responsibility in “weakening al Qaeda.”

Major publications typically do not reveal the identities of undercover agents, but the Times reasoned that it was fair to name D’Andrea because “his identity was previously published in news reports, and he is leading an important new administration initiative against Iran.”

The conservative Federalist website took exception with the second half of that. “So the Times has apparently made it the newspaper’s mission to make the agency’s work much more difficult and far more dangerous by publicly identifying the man in charge of its covert operations in the Persian country,” the group said.

The rules are always different this time.

HMM: Mark Green Will Not Resume Campaign for Tennessee Governor.

Green withdrew his nomination for Army secretary in May due to controversy over his past comments about LGBT and Muslim Americans. He told The Tennessee Star this week that he withdrew his name from consideration because a Democratic senator promised to use a procedural “blackball” to prevent Green’s nomination from moving to a vote.

His decision to bow out of Tennessee’s gubernatorial race comes as speculation mounts that House Budget Committee Chairwoman Diane Black (R-Tenn.) is eyeing a run for the state’s governor’s mansion.

A lot of people in Tennessee think the nomination was intended to take him out of play. If so, it worked!

Some people also tell me it’s Diane Black’s if she wants it. I’m not so sure. She doesn’t have a lot of presence in this part of the state. Knoxville businessman Randy Boyd is running, and campaigning basically as a continuation of the Haslam era.

THIRST? What’s Fueling the US Whiskey Boom?

The craft beer movement is a major inspiration for the new wave of American whiskies. Sons of Liberty on Rhode Island make a whiskey using a dark toasty malt like you find in a stout. They’ve given it the none-more-American name of Uprising. Not to be outdone, Corsair make a Citra Double IPA whiskey that reeks of hops. It’s all about bringing out big flavors.

Whereas Scottish single malts tend to be aged for at least eight years (though legally only have to be aged for three) American whiskies age faster as the climate is hotter. Balcones Single Malt, winner of best American Single Malt at the World Whiskies Awards last year, is “yard-aged”- in other words left out in the baking heat of Texas where it matures extremely quickly.

One year in the heat of Texas equals about seven in rainy old Scotland. Quicker maturation time means American distillers can bring their products to market sooner therefore they are more responsive to trends.

Hot-aging feels almost like cheating, but I’m looking forward to sampling the results.

SORE LOSER: Hillary Clinton Unloads on What Led to Her Election Defeat.

Speaking at Recode’s 2017 Code Conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., Clinton gave an unfiltered assessment of the 2016 campaign that ended with her unexpected loss to Donald Trump.

“I take responsibility for every decision I made, but that’s not why I lost,” she said. “I think it’s important we learn the real lessons of this last campaign.”

She lost, she told Recode’s Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg, because of unfair media coverage, an “unprecedented” campaign waged against her by a foreign adversary, James Comey’s decision to re-open her email probe, criticism of her candidacy that she claimed bordered on misogyny, and a prevailing sentiment that she would be victorious, which hampered voter turnout.

If I’m reading this correctly, Clinton’s judgement was sound, but women-hating Russians at the FBI forced her to set up an unsecured email server and prevented her from campaigning in Wisconsin.

ANN ALTHOUSE ON GIANFORTE AND BEN JACOBS:

Hamblin likes the idea of “redefining strength” by accepting, in the moment, that one has been “physically overpowered” and not getting caught up in “the idea of masculinity as an amalgam of dominance and violence.” Instead, Jacobs, speaking “as if narrating for the audio recorder,” said “You just body-slammed me and broke my glasses.” He also “started asking for names of witnesses to the assault who will be assets to his case as it plays out in courts of law and public opinion,” and reported the incident to the police.

Of course, Jacobs’s choices were not merely a matter of overcoming physical impulses and meritoriously eschewing violence. I don’t know how much of an impulse to retaliate on the spot he may have felt. I don’t really know how violently he was hit. I don’t even know if he did something first toward Gianforte and Gianforte was doing the old tit for tat retaliation. But narrating the audio, dropping it on line, going to the police, and taking names for litigation purposes is also a form of dominance. Some people would even call it violence. Why, here’s an article in The Atlantic from just last June: “Enforcing the Law Is Inherently Violent/A Yale law professor suggests that oft-ignored truth should inform debates about what statutes and regulations to codify.”

But personally, I’m now sufficiently woke to praise Gianforte for body-slamming rapist Ben Jacobs:

Thanks to male feminist Jordan Hoffman for enlightening me.

IT’S TRUE. HE LACKED COURAGE AND INTELLECT. Obama whines he just didn’t ‘have the tools’ to act on Syria.

Related: Obama seems eager to massage his legacy as it’s being written. We, therefore, are obliged to get the record right.

Well, here’s some history for you:

Rachel Maddow Tries to Rewrite History of Obama ‘Ending the War’ in Iraq.

Flashback: No Doubt About It — We’re Back in a Ground War in Iraq.

Without much fanfare, Obama has dramatically reversed his Iraq policy — sending thousands of troops back in the country after he declared the war over, engaging in ground combat despite initially promising that his strategy “will not involve American combat troops fighting on foreign soil.” Well, they’re on foreign soil, and they’re fighting.

It would have been easier — and would have cost far fewer lives — if we had just stayed. But Obama had to have a campaign issue.

And I suppose I should repeat my Iraq War history lesson: Things were going so well as late as 2010 that the Obama Administration was bragging about Iraq as one of its big foreign policy successes.

In the interest of historical accuracy, 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.

Plus: Maybe that Iraq withdrawal was a bad thing in hindsight. Obama’s actions, if not his words, suggest that even he may think so.

IT’S COME TO THIS: Duterte Declares Martial Law in Southern Philippines.

Duterte declared martial rule for 60 days in the entire southern Mindanao region, the restive third of the Philippine archipelago, Tuesday evening to try to crush Muslim extremists who have aligned themselves with the Islamic State group and occupied a hospital, jail and other buildings and battled troops in an audacious attack in Marawi City.

Martial law could be extended for a year depending on how long the problem could be quelled, Duterte said on board a plane en route to the Philippines.

“I said I would be harsh and I warned everybody not to force my hand into it,” Duterte said. “I have to do it to preserve the republic.”

I’m so old I can remember when ISIS was still the junior varsity.

CONNECTICUT DEMOCRATS CONSIDER SPENDING CUTS: I’m so old I remember when cutting spending made you a terrorist.

Governor Malloy says negotiations over the state budget, which began this week, have a long way to go, but after wobbling on taxes he has accomplished something remarkable. He has pushed his party’s majority in the General Assembly, the Democrats, to agree that state government’s financial collapse must be fixed mainly by cutting spending, and has induced the Republican minority, which is just a few votes short of displacing the Democrats, to propose cutting spending even more and to get specific about some spending cuts.

It’s amazing what a Democratic governor can accomplish when, forswearing re-election, he no longer must play the tool of the special interests that run the party, the state employee and teacher unions, and can pursue the public interest instead.

Of course the unions, working through Democratic legislators, will try to induce the governor to go wobbly on taxes again. After all, government in Connecticut long has been less a mechanism of public service than of financing the Democratic Party, keeping the party’s most active members on the government payroll. This makes ironic the Republican opposition to the Citizens’ Election Program, which makes all election campaigns, not just campaigns supported by government employee unions, eligible for government funding.

ROGER SIMON: Huge Arms Sale to Saudis Makes Trump-Russia Collusion Ridiculous.

I’m so old, I remember when the DNC-MSM scoffed at the notion of Russians under every bed. But I’m sure they’ll keep looking for them here.

DISPATCHES FROM THE EDUCATION APOCALYPSE: University’s Wood Paneling ‘Marginalizing’ Minority Students:

Anna Wibbelman — who used to head an organization concerned about enhancing college life, called Building a Better Michigan — announced at a recent student government meeting that “minority students felt marginalized by quiet, imposing masculine paneling” that covers the walls in the century-old building. It’s all there in the minutes from he meeting.

* * * * * * * * *

The current president of Building a Better Michigan, Jazz Teste, suggested that Wibbelman might not have been talking about the wood paneling — even thought she specifically mentioned it by name.

“I believe it was an off-hand comment about how many students felt marginalized by the quiet nature of the building when they entered,” she informed The College Fix.

The quiet nature of an old wood library is marginalizing.

Almost as much as Lou Reed, I’m sure.

ANDREW KLAVAN: A Win for the Deep State.

Nothing against the integrity or honesty of former FBI head Robert Mueller, but as we saw with the investigation into the absurdly trivial Valerie Plame affair during the W. administration, a virtually untouchable prosecutor and a staff of hungry, ambitious youngsters looking for a big score is a destructive combination. We can expect months or years of fevered headlines and speculation, all of it serving to paralyze tremulous Republicans and thus hamper the Trump agenda.

Congratulations to those who seek to undermine the results of a fair and square election. I’m old enough to remember when Democrats found that idea “horrifying” but I guess things have changed since then. Life comes at you fast.

The Media-Dem-State Complex used its patented Hysterical Wave™ technique to achieve its goal: a poorly substantiated media story from an anonymous Deep State source followed by echo-chamber histrionics from Democrats, then, just as the public catches on to one scam, a new poorly substantiated story followed by more histrionics and so on.

The Left keeps using this technique because it keeps working.

UNLESS YOU’RE A SAILOR: Autonomous Ships Will Be Great.

It sounds like a ghost story: A huge cargo vessel sails up and down the Norwegian coast, silently going about its business, without a captain or crew in sight. But if all goes as planned, it’s actually the future of shipping.

Last week, Kongsberg Gruppen ASA, a Norwegian maritime-technology firm, and Yara ASA, a fertilizer manufacturer, announced a partnership to build the world’s first fully autonomous cargo containership. Manned voyages will start in 2018, and in 2020 the Yara Birkeland will set sail all on its own. It’s the beginning of a revolution that should transform one of the world’s oldest and most conservative industries — and make global shipping safer, faster and cleaner than it’s ever been.

The commercial rationale for autonomous ships has long been clear. The U.S. Coast Guard has estimated that human error accounts for up to 96 percent of all marine casualties. A recent surge in piracy is a grim reminder that crews remain vulnerable (and valuable) targets for international criminals. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the industry is facing a chronic shortage of skilled workers who want a career at sea.

By one consultant’s estimate, moreover, carrying sailors accounts for 44 percent of a ship’s costs. That’s not just salaries: crew quarters, air-conditioning units, a bridge (which typically requires heavy ballast to ensure a ship’s balance) and other amenities take up valuable weight and space that might otherwise be used for cargo.

Hmm. I’m not convinced that this will put an end to piracy, though it may change its form.

JAMES MORROW: Not every scandal is a magic bullet, and the hysteria is helping Trump.

The pattern of the Trump-shared-secrets-with-the-Russkies story is predictable.

As is so often the case the Washington Post, which has made itself the unofficial house organ of America’s anti-Trump establishment with its new self-regarding slogan, “Democracy dies in darkness”, kicked things off.

They did this with an article citing “anonymous sources” who claimed that the president — whether in a fit of braggadocio, stupidity, or in partial payment for Moscow’s meddling with the election the Post leaves to the reader to decide — passed on exceedingly sensitive and restricted intelligence to the Russian ambassador and foreign minister in a meeting last week.

The information was so top secret, said the Post, that America hadn’t even shared the information with key allies.

All of this conjured images of Trump letting the Russians in on something really big, like exactly when all the generals take smoko at NORAD (“I tell you Vlad, they’re out there every morning at 9:30 like clockwork. And if they’re talking about what happened on Last Resort, they’re not back at their stations for, like, half an hour, easy.”)

And it immediately set commentators abuzz, with everyone who’d just settled down over the firing of FBI Director James Comey once again demanding Trump’s impeachment, this time for grievously damaging national security.

But as so often happens, the extent of what Trump actually told the Russians reality may be a bit more pedestrian.

The information in question is now said to have been about ISIS plots to sneak a bomb on to an airliner in a laptop, a plot device easily imagined by any Hollywood TV writer or paperback spy thriller author.

Indeed, if no other allies knew about the plot, then all credit to British officials who instituted a similar ban in the wake of the US’s move to ban laptops on flights from a number of Muslim-majority countries, as well as to Malcolm Turnbull, who is also said to be looking “very closely” at putting such a policy in place for flights to Australia.

And for what it’s worth, National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster has denied anything inappropriate was shared with the Russians, though whether the word of a three star general can hold a candle to unnamed sources is an open question.

This is not to defend Trump so much as it is to plead for some sense of reality on the part of his critics, who see in every scandal a magic bullet that might restore the world to the way they think it should be.

Well, I’m still not sure exactly what’s going on — see Stephen’s post below for more — but what is clear is that they hope that if they gin up enough controversy, baseless or not, maybe it’ll give cover to an impeachment or 25 Amendment removal, or something. I don’t think it will happen and if it does — barring something a lot bigger and more uncontrovertible than anything they’ve come up with so far — you will have literal riots in the streets if Trump’s removed, far beyond anything you’ve seen from Democrat constituency groups like Black Lives Matter. Trump supporters have had it with the establishment, and are unlikely to go along quietly with a system they regard as deeply corrupt and devoted to their destruction. To the extent it’s interested in impeachment, the anti-Trump establishment, which likes to present itself as responsible and sensible, is playing with fire here, in a room full of gasoline that the establishment itself has pumped.

Exit question: We know of one clear-cut crime here, the leak to WaPo. Which senior Republican White House official — because who else could it be? — was behind that leak? And will Trump follow Obama’s lead and use the Espionage Act to try to find out and punish the leaker? Because Trump’s practically a dictator, and that’s what a dictator would do, right? Oh, wait . . .

WELL, THIS SEEMS LIKE NEWS: Seth Rich, slain DNC staffer, had contact with WikiLeaks, say multiple sources.

The Democratic National Committee staffer who was gunned down on July 10 on a Washington, D.C., street just steps from his home had leaked thousands of internal emails to WikiLeaks, law enforcement sources told Fox News.

A federal investigator who reviewed an FBI forensic report detailing the contents of DNC staffer Seth Rich’s computer generated within 96 hours after his murder, said Rich made contact with WikiLeaks through Gavin MacFadyen, a now-deceased American investigative reporter, documentary filmmaker, and director of WikiLeaks who was living in London at the time.

So this would seem to leave two possibilities: The DNC “hack” wasn’t a Russian operation at all, but an internal leak, blowing the post-November Hillary Russia narratove; or (2) There’s another trove of DNC emails out there that Wikileaks hasn’t released yet. I’m guessing it’s (1), but who knows?

I’M SO OLD I CAN REMEMBER WHEN PEOPLE MOCKED ITS INCLUSION IN THE “AXIS OF EVIL:” Lawmakers move to step up defenses against North Korea.

JOHN MOORE: North Korea’s Stealth WMD.

If undergraduates can design and use genetic material, then North Korea has the capability. It would be a mistake to underestimate them — just look at their missile program.

North Korea began a biological weapons program in the 1960s and is believed to be able to produce smallpox, anthrax, tularemia, and a number of other pathogens suitable for bioweapons. These may already be on missiles aimed at South Korea and Japan.

Worse, North Korean intelligence agents may have them, ready to strike in the U.S. North Korea’s intelligence agency has a long history of operating in free countries. Their assassination of ruler Kim Jong-un’s half brother in a Malaysian airport could have as easily used smallpox. That attack may have been meant to send two messages to us: they are willing to use nerve gas, and they can deliver chemical or biological weapons in foreign countries.

Read the whole thing.

I’m old enough to remember when an American president was mocked for including North Korea in a terrorist Axis of Evil.

TWITCHY: ‘Calm down, Skippy’ Sen. Brian Schatz declares full-fledged constitutional crisis after Comey firing.

I’m so old I can remember when Comey needed to bet fired for spoiling Hillary Clinton’s surefire election win and/or handing the White House to Vladimir Putin.

BREAKING: FBI DIRECTOR JAMES COMEY IS FIRED BY TRUMP.

As Ace writes, “I’m cool with that. FBI Director Rudy Giuliani?”

UPDATE (FROM GLENN): WaPo:

Officials released a Tuesday memo from the Deputy Attorney General, Rod Rosenstein, laying out the rationale behind Comey’s dismissal.

“The FBI’s reputation and credibility have suffered substantial damage, and it has affected the entire Department of Justice,’’ Rosenstein wrote. “I cannot defend the director’s handling of the conclusion of the investigation of Secretary Clinton’s emails, and I do not understand his refusal to accept the nearly universal judgment that he was mistaken. Almost everyone agrees that the director made serious mistakes; it is one of the few issues that unites people of diverse perspectives.’’

In a letter to Trump, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said that he agreed.

“I have concluded that a fresh start is needed at the leadership of the FBI,’’ Sessions wrote. “I must recommend that you remove Director James B. Comey, Jr. and identify an experienced and qualified individual to lead the great men and women of the FBI.’’

Shortly before the announcement, the FBI notified Congress by letter that Comey had misstated key findings involving the Hillary Clinton email investigation during testimony last week. . . .

In defending the probe at last week’s hearing, Comey offered seemingly new details to underscore the seriousness of the situation FBI agents faced last fall when they discovered thousands of Clinton aide Huma Abedin’s emails on the computer of her husband, Anthony Weiner.

“Somehow, her emails were being forwarded to Anthony Weiner, including classified information,” Comey said, adding later, “His then-spouse Huma Abedin appears to have had a regular practice of forwarding emails to him for him I think to print out for her so she could then deliver them to the secretary of state.” . . .

At another point in the testimony, Comey said Abedin “forwarded hundreds and thousands of emails, some of which contain classified information.’’

Neither of those statements is accurate, said people close to the investigation.

Stay tuned. Meanwhile, I’m enjoying the sight of Democrats who were calling for Comey to be fired suddenly turning him into a Saturday Night Massacre martyr.

Flashback: Ex-AGs Alberto Gonzales, Eric Holder, Michael Mukasey rip FBI director. Well, sure, those Republican hacks would — wait, what?

AETNA CEO: Obamacare Will Continue to Deteriorate If Nothing Happens.

Aetna, one of the largest insurers in the United States, announced last week that it planned to exit the Obamacare exchanges in Iowa and Virginia, citing major losses.

“Looking beyond 2017, we continue to evaluate our footprint with a view towards significantly reducing our exposure to individual commercial products in 2018,” said Shawn Guertin, Aetna’s chief financial officer. “We have already disclosed our planned 2018 exit from one of our 2017 state-based exchanges and intend to communicate other 2018 footprint decisions when appropriate.”

Bertolini mentioned that Medica, another health care insurer, notified Iowa last week that it was also pulling out of the exchanges which means there will be no one in Iowa with coverage.

I’m so old I can remember when ObamaCare was touted as the salvation for private health coverage.

LATE-STAGE SOCIALISM: Jailed Venezuelan opposition leader says ‘we can’t stop’

“We can’t stop until we achieve our freedom. I’m on the streets with you, in mind and spirit,” he said, according to tweets from his wife Lilian Tintori.

Tintori relayed her husband’s words after she visited him on Sunday at a prison outside Caracas
Lopez, a speaker and leader of the opposition, has been detained since 2014 after he was accused of terrorism and inciting deadly anti-government protests.

His family’s visit comes days after the government released a video on state television in an effort to dispel rumors about his health condition.

The family had been denied access to the prison for about 35 days.

His wife said Lopez was not aware of the political turmoil and mass protests happening across Venezuela in recent weeks until she filled him in about the unrest during her visit.

“He is good… He is fit and well…. He is isolated. He resists. It is hard but he resists,” Tintori said outside the prison.

Over the weekend, the White House called for a “quick, peaceful conclusion to unrest,” but it’s almost certainly too late for that.

AXIS OF EVIL: Pentagon eyes Iran-North Korea military connection.

According to U.S. defense officials, Iran was attempting to launch a Jask-2 cruise missile underwater for the first time, but the launch failed. Nonproliferation experts have long suspected North Korea and Iran are sharing expertise when it comes to their rogue missile programs.

“The very first missiles we saw in Iran were simply copies of North Korean missiles,” said Jeffrey Lewis, a missile proliferation expert at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. “Over the years, we’ve seen photographs of North Korean and Iranian officials in each other’s countries, and we’ve seen all kinds of common hardware.”

When Iran tested a ballistic missile in late January, the Pentagon said it was based on a North Korean design. Last summer, Iran conducted another missile launch similar to a North Korean Musudan, the most advanced missile Pyongyang has successful tested to date.

Defense analysts say North Korea’s Taepodong missile looks almost identical to Iran’s Shahab.

I’m old enough to remember when a military/terror connection between Tehran and Pyongyang was a Dick Cheney lie sold by George W. Bush to rush the country into war.

SIGNS POINT TO YES: Is Iran Pushing the Envelope on Its Nuclear Deal?

The comments by Rouhani and Salehi parallel those made last month by Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, who was quoted in Iranian media saying that Iran had “succeeded to make operational the most advanced centrifuges that were just an idea at the time of approving the [nuclear deal].”

“Zarif has, in a sense, been able to generate a fundamental lie about this whole deal, that somehow these centrifuges make economic sense for a civil program,” said Albright.

Florida senator Marco Rubio told TWS that such statements about advanced centrifuge development cement long-standing concerns about the nuclear deal.

“A bipartisan majority of Republicans and some Democrats in Congress warned President Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran would enrich the radical regime and ultimately bring it closer to acquiring nuclear weapons, and that is exactly what is happening,” Rubio said.

Rubio is a co-sponsor of legislation introduced in March that slaps sanctions on Iran over its non-nuclear illicit activities. The bill has the backing of several pro-Iran deal Democrats.

The Iranians may be making progress on centrifuges beyond what’s allowed under the nuclear deal, in part through a so-called “quality assurance” loophole that Iran is exploiting to test centrifuges, Albright said.

“You have this undercurrent where Iran is either violating the deal, it’s inconsistent with the deal, or it’s just pushing the envelope,” he said.

The Obama administration was not willing to rebuff Iran’s inconsistencies with or violations of the deal, Albright added. “There needs to be a really hard push back,” he said. “I’m hoping that the Trump administration will do that, because the Obama administration just refused.”

If President Trump would just release the hidden details of Obama’s deal, we could all judge whether Iran is in compliance.

I’M OLD ENOUGH TO REMEMBER WHEN PRESIDENT OBAMA TOLD US WE COULDN’T DRILL OUR WAY OUT OF OUR ENERGY PROBLEMS: US Shale Grows Stronger.

Rigs aren’t a perfect metric for measuring the health of the oil industry. When oil prices were high, companies were expansive in their shale ambitions and the rig count ballooned accordingly. Following the crude price collapse, those same firms shut down their least-productive and least-profitable wells, leaving behind the gushers and the real money-makers. While the rig count fell from more than 1,600 down below 400, U.S. oil production dipped just 200,000 barrels per day over that time period.

That said, it’s fair to say that the rig count today, coming off the back of a bearish time in the oil market, is a more accurate measure of how well the U.S. shale industry is doing. The fact, then, that it added 11 rigs in the past week is confirmation of something we’ve been watching carefully in recent months: Shale is booming once again, and the U.S. energy outlook is looking awfully bright.

Good!

A BIG DAMN HERO: Woman dives into pond to save drowning lady.

She was on an ordinary run when she decided to take an extra lap around her route. That extra lap changed her ordinary run into an extraordinary experience.

“A car was going airborne into the middle of the pond,” Davis said. “I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, I can’t believe this is happening.'”

86-year-old Ann Leslie had hit the gas instead of the brakes and catapulted into the water.

“There was a woman, and she looked scared,” Davis said. “[I thought,] I’m going to try and do something. I’m going into the pond.”

She dove in, and once she got to the Toyota Highlander, it was almost under water.

“Miraculously, she got her back window down,” Davis said. “Then she reached for me, and I got her out so her head was above water.”

She held her there, above water, until paramedics arrived. By doing so, Davis saved the stranger’s life.

I went to high school with her. Nice work, Gloria!

I’M NOT BUYING THIS HUFFPO HEADLINE: Democrats Contemplate How To Forfeit Their Power Upon Regaining The Senate.

“When the Democrats return to the majority and capture the presidency ― which we will, that day is going to arrive ― we will restore the 60-vote margin,” Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) told MSNBC on Monday. “We will ensure that for the Supreme Court, there is that special margin that any candidate has to reach, because that is essential to ensuring that our country has a confidence in people who are nominated, rather than just someone who passes a litmus test.”

This isn’t what the Democrat base wants to hear before winning back the majority, and it isn’t how the Democrat base expects to exact its revenge after winning back the majority, and it certainly isn’t what the Democrat base wanted when it forced Chuck Schumer into the ill-advised Gorsuch filibuster.

NOBODY HATES THEIR CUSTOMERS LIKE OLD MEDIA: ‘Meet the Press’ Debates If Hillary Lost Because of the Country’s ‘Misogyny.’

I’m so old, I can remember the DNC-MSM blamed their losses on racism instead.

 

ANDREW MCCARTHY: A Watergate-style Scandal.

In general, it is the FBI that conducts investigations that bear on American citizens suspected of committing crimes or of acting as agents of foreign powers. In the matter of alleged Russian meddling, the investigative camp also includes the CIA and the NSA. All three agencies conducted a probe and issued a joint report in January. That was after Obama, despite having previously acknowledged that the Russian activity was inconsequential, suddenly made a great show of ordering an inquiry and issuing sanctions.

Consequently, if unmasking was relevant to the Russia investigation, it would have been done by those three agencies. And if it had been critical to know the identities of Americans caught up in other foreign intelligence efforts, the agencies that collect the information and conduct investigations would have unmasked it. Because they are the agencies that collect and refine intelligence “products” for the rest of the “intelligence community,” they are responsible for any unmasking; and they do it under “minimization” standards that FBI Director James Comey, in recent congressional testimony, described as “obsessive” in their determination to protect the identities and privacy of Americans.

Understand: There would have been no intelligence need for Susan Rice to ask for identities to be unmasked. If there had been a real need to reveal the identities — an intelligence need based on American interests — the unmasking would have been done by the investigating agencies.

The national-security adviser is not an investigator. She is a White House staffer. The president’s staff is a consumer of intelligence, not a generator or collector of it. If Susan Rice was unmasking Americans, it was not to fulfill an intelligence need based on American interests; it was to fulfill a political desire based on Democratic-party interests.

I’m so old I can remember when the Obama Administration was “amazingly scandal-free.”