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ROGER SIMON: Trump Derangement Syndrome Has Become the New Plague.

Read the whole thing.

LAFAYETTE, INDIANA ATTORNEY QUESTIONED BY POLICE OFFICERS AFTER MAKING PUBLIC RECORDS REQUESTS ABOUT PHANTOM COURTROOM; NOW PURSUING LEGAL ACTION FOR POSSIBLE CIVIL RIGHTS VIOLATIONS:

“Think of a courtroom as a “poison pill” which radiates a gun ban.

The courtroom that the county attempted to foist on us is dark and unused. I filed a APRA/FOIA request for more info on the “courtroom”.

Someone got wind of this request and moved to stop me by making false allegations against me to put me in fear. Problem is that I don’t scare and I fight. Whoever did this will not get anyone with this.

Remember, if they attack you, make certain you mark them in way that when they look in the mirror and see your mark, they always remember you.”

Freeman wants answers, so he filed a motion to compel the officers to submit to a deposition in accordance with Trial Rule 27, which allows petitioners to take depositions for discovery purposes prior to filing a potential lawsuit.  A hearing on his motion is set for June 26, 2017 at 10:30 A.M. in the Tippecanoe County Circuit Court.

“I am a little stunned why they would do this to me,” he questioned.  As a Nobel Peace Prize winner once said, “If they punch me, I will punch back twice as hard.”

Heh, indeed, as the person who sent me this link from his secure, undisclosed temporarily tropical location would say. Read the whole thing.™

KURT SCHLICHTER: Spare Me The Principles Lecture.

If our principles are worth having, they are worth fighting for in a way that might conceivably lead to success. One of the folks telling me how wrong and unconservative I am for finding it amusing – a patriot, though wrong – also mentioned that he had been fighting for free speech on campus and in the culture for 20 years. Hmmm. I’ve been fighting for them for 30 years, ever since my dean at UCSD called me in to yell at me because I wrote that the student government was composed of leftist dweebs. Shouldn’t the fact that we have spent decades using the same tactics and losing indicate that maybe we ought to try something new?

Are we going to reason the left out of its ruthless quest for absolute power? Are we going to talk them into civility? Is our sterling example of high principles – which apparently include never, ever, for even a moment, annoying leftists by interrupting their bloody assassination festivals – leading to anything but defeat?

At Fort Benning, they didn’t teach us to lose.

Read the whole thing.

AYAAN HIRSI ALI AND ASRA Q. NOMANI: Kamala Harris Was Silenced. Then She Silenced Us.

Senator Harris took her seat in front of us as a member of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. We were there to testify about the ideology of political Islam, or Islamism.

Both of us were on edge. Earlier that day, across the Potomac River, a man had shot a Republican lawmaker and others on a baseball diamond in Alexandria, Va. And just moments before the hearing began, a man wearing a Muslim prayer cap had stood up and heckled us, putting Capitol police officers on high alert. We were girding ourselves for tough questions.

But they never came. The Democrats on the panel, including Senator Harris and three other Democratic female senators — North Dakota’s Heidi Heitkamp, New Hampshire’s Maggie Hassan and Missouri’s Claire McCaskill — did not ask either of us a single question.

This wasn’t a case of benign neglect. At one point, Senator McCaskill said that she took issue with the theme of the hearing itself. “Anyone who twists or distorts religion to a place of evil is an exception to the rule,” she said. “We should not focus on religion,” she said, adding that she was “worried” that the hearing, organized by Senator Ron Johnson, a Republican from Wisconsin, would “underline that.” In the end, the only questions asked of us about Islamist ideologies came from Senator Johnson and his Republican colleague, Senator Steve Daines from Montana.

Just as we are invisible to the mullahs at the mosque, we were invisible to the Democratic women in the Senate.

Read the whole thing.

JUSTICE DELAYED: Texas Couple Exonerated 25 Years After Being Convicted of Lurid Crimes that Never Happened.

Fran and Dan Keller were each sentenced to 48 years in prison for the alleged sexual assault of a 3-year-old girl who was an occasional drop-in at their home daycare center on the rural outskirts of Austin. The child initially accused Dan of spanking her “like daddy” used to, but under intense and repeated questioning by her mother and a therapist, the story morphed to include claims of rape and orgies involving children. From there, the number of children alleging abuse increased and the accusations grew even more lurid and confounding: The Kellers had sacrificed babies; they held ceremonies in a local graveyard; they put blood in the children’s Kool-Aid; Fran cut off the arm of a gorilla in a local park; they flew the children to Mexico to be sexually assaulted by military officials.

When I began reinvestigating the case in 2008 for the Austin Chronicle, I was stunned to learn that police and prosecutors who had worked the case back in the early ’90s still believed some of the most outrageous allegations leveled against the Kellers. The Austin Police Department refused to release its investigative report on the case, forcing the Chronicle to take the agency to court. We ultimately won the right to full, unredacted access.

After reading the report, it was not hard to understand why the department had fought to keep it secret. It was an ALL-CAPS, run-on-sentence fever dream full of breathless accusations and absent any actual investigation that could prove or disprove the claims.

Read the whole thing.

THANKS, OBAMA: How the New Cuba Travel Regulations Hurt Cubans and Help the Castro Regime.

It’s Ron Radosh reporting after his recent visit to Cuba, so read the whole thing.

WILL COLLIER ON TWITTER: “So it’s time for some post-runoff Gaming Theory, from an actual resident of GA06.”

Related: “Herein lies the Democrats’ problem, just as it was a problem when Hillary Clinton bellowed about a basket full of deplorables during the 2016 campaign. The Democrats and their base (Hollywood) think the key to winning elections is to insult voters. ‘They don’t vote for us because they are bigots’ is not a strategy I would employ as a campaign manager but they are welcome to keep trying this, and they are welcome to keep losing.”

Read the whole thing.

UPDATE: Will has ported his self-described “Twitter rant” on GA06 over to his blog, which should be a bit easier to follow.

VICTOR DAVIS HANSON: The Architecture of Regime Change.

The problem with the election of President Donald J. Trump was not just that he presented a roadblock to an ongoing progressive revolution. Instead, unlike recent Republican presidential nominees, he was indifferent to the cultural and political restraints on conservative pushback — ironic given how checkered Trump’s own prior conservative credentials are. Trump brawled in a way McCain or Romney did not. He certainly did not prefer losing nobly to winning ugly.

Even more ominously, Trump found a seam in the supposedly invincible new progressive electoral paradigm of Barack Obama. He then blew it apart — by showing the nation that Obama’s identity-politics voting bloc was not transferrable to most other Democratic candidates, while the downside of his polarization of the now proverbial clingers most assuredly was. To her regret, Hillary Clinton learned that paradox when the deplorables and irredeemables of the formerly blue-wall states rose up to cost her the presidency.

And now?

We are witnessing a desperate putsch to remove Trump before he can do any more damage to the Obama project. Political, journalistic, and cultural elites of a progressive coastal culture aim at destroying the Trump presidency before it can finish its full four-year term.

Read the whole thing.

RICHARD POLLOCK: Soros, Clinton-Linked Teneo Among Donors to McCain Institute.

Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain in 2012 turned over nearly $9 million in unspent funds from his failed 2008 presidential campaign to a new foundation bearing his name, the McCain Institute for International Leadership.

The institute is intended to serve as a “legacy” for McCain and “is dedicated to advancing human rights, dignity, democracy and freedom.” It is a tax-exempt non-profit foundation with assets valued at $8.1 million and associated with Arizona State University.

Conservative and liberal critics, however, believe the institute constitutes a major conflict of interest for McCain, The Daily Caller News Foundation’s Investigative Group has learned.

Ya think?

Read the whole thing.

FALSE BLACK POWER: The gripping name of a new book. The NY Post publishes an excerpt.

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was followed by large increases in black elected officials. In the Deep South, black officeholders grew from 100 in 1964 to 4,300 in 1978. By the early 1980s, major US cities with large black populations, such as Cleveland, Detroit, Chicago, Washington and Philadelphia, had elected black mayors. Between 1970 and 2010, the number of black elected officials nationwide increased from fewer than 1,500 to more than 10,000.

Yet the socioeconomic progress that was supposed to follow in the wake of these political gains never materialized. During an era of growing black political influence, blacks as a group progressed at a slower rate than whites, and the black poor actually lost ground.

Read the whole thing.

GLENN’S USA TODAY COLUMN: We need a Robert Mueller resignation or a second special counsel.

Despite a clear requirement that Mueller be “disqualified” from this investigation, his dismissal by either Trump or Sessions on the heels of the president’s firing of Comey would create a political firestorm that the president — even if entirely innocent of any wrongdoing whatsoever—might be unable to survive.

And Mueller can’t fix things by simply recusing himself from the “obstruction” investigation, while delegating it to a subordinate. Perhaps unwisely, he has chosen lawyers who records show have contributed substantially to Democratic campaigns. Indeed, two have given the maximum $2,700 donation to Hillary Clinton last year, while another worked for the Clinton Foundation. No one could accept them as impartial towards the man who defeated her.

So if he cares about the rules, Mueller needs to resign.

Read the whole thing.

JOEL KOTKIN: IS AMERICA NOW SECOND RATE? And note this:

Xi has played the gullible West with a skill that would have delighted his fellow autocrat, Joseph Stalin, who did much the same in the 1930s. (“Purges? What purges?”) Of course, Xi does not have to worry much about criticism from the media — or anywhere else. Trump may tweet insanely and seek needless fights with the media, but critics of the Chinese Communist Party end up in prison — or worse. To accuse Trump of loving dictators and then embrace Xi seems a trifle dishonest.

It does rather undercut the narrative the left created to save face after Hillary imploded, that Trump is the Manchurian Candidate, when, as Kotkin notes, Jerry Brown is swanning about with the man in who’s actually in control of Manchuria.

Read the whole thing.

MICHAEL BARONE: The Violent Political Left.

Unfortunately, it’s not hard to find left-wing tweets advocating violence against President Trump and Republicans. And the “arts” community contributes its share. Comedian Kathy Griffin posted a picture of her holding a bloody severed head of the president. In New York Shakespeare in the Park is staging “Julius Caesar” with an orange-haired Caesar being stabbed to death by political rivals.

And there have been multiple violent threats and some actual violence against Republican House members. Virginia’s Tom Garrett canceled town halls in response to a message that “we’re going to kill your wife.” The message to Upstate New York’s Claudia Tenney was, “One down, 216 to go.”

A Tucson school official was arrested for making threats that Arizona’s Martha McSally’s “days were numbered.” A woman was charged with felony reckless endangerment for trying to drive Tennessee’s David Kustoff’s car off the road.

Read the whole thing.

Related: The Deeper Problem With the NYT’s Editorial Blaming Republicans for Political Violence: It raises questions about why they didn’t uphold basic standards of veracity and decency.

SARAH HOYT: How We’re Losing the War to Save The Islamic World: Part II When Cultures Clash.

What most people mean when they talk about “a clash of cultures” is actually a clash between two subcultures, say corporate America and ghetto. This is difficult enough but can be overcome because one is at least aware of the other, even if the habits of one are completely different from the others.

When you’re dealing with completely different cultures suddenly clashing, it’s completely different. You see, the people in each of the cultures are not aware that they’re having a cultural conflict. They just interpret other people’s actions according to the norms of their culture. Internally, at a gut level, well before thought gets involved, we assume everyone has the same basic assumptions we have, and therefore we judge other cultures as we judge our own.

Read the whole thing.

SPENGLER: Lawyers Fight America’s ‘Cold Civil War.’

Read the whole thing.

SARAH HOYT: How We’re Losing the War to Save The Islamic World Part I: Saving the West.

There’s no way to excerpt from this one, so just read the whole thing.

TRUE: Peggy Noonan: A generation of media figures are cratering under the historical pressure of Donald Trump.

Here I want to note the words spoken by Kathy Griffin, the holder of the severed head. In a tearful news conference she said of the president, “He broke me.” She was roundly mocked for this. Oh, the big bad president’s supporters were mean to you after you held up his bloody effigy. But she was exactly right. He did break her. He robbed her of her sense of restraint and limits, of her judgment. He broke her, but not in the way she thinks, and he is breaking more than her.

We have been seeing a generation of media figures cratering under the historical pressure of Donald Trump. He really is powerful.

They’re losing their heads. Now would be a good time to regain them.

They have been making the whole political scene lower, grubbier. They are showing the young what otherwise estimable adults do under pressure, which is lose their equilibrium, their knowledge of themselves as public figures, as therefore examples—tone setters. They’re paid a lot of money and have famous faces and get the best seat, and the big thing they’re supposed to do in return is not be a slob. Not make it worse.

By indulging their and their audience’s rage, they spread the rage. They celebrate themselves as brave for this. They stood up to the man, they spoke truth to power. But what courage, really, does that take? Their audiences love it. Their base loves it, their demo loves it, their bosses love it. Their numbers go up. They get a better contract. This isn’t brave.

Trump’s presidency has made clear that the allegedly sober and sensible establishment — the one that calls him excitable, rage-filled, narcissistic, and mean — is excitable, rage-filled, narcissistic, and mean.

YEAH, THE LIBERTY ZONE IS BEING PROFANE AGAIN, (LANGUAGE WARNING) BUT I’D SAY IT’S WARRANTED: So Much DERP!

In a spectacular show of tone deafness, Fuller claims the only way to restore morality to America is to murder those with whose politics he disagrees after trying them for treason!

This is the path America is on.

This is our current trajectory.

Antifa retards trying to silence dissenting voices by throwing projectiles and Molotov cocktails and threatening political opposition. Nuclear-grade fucktard Bernie supporters trying to assassinate politicians with whom they disagree.” Delusional monkeys with keyboards claiming that the only way to make America moral again is to kill the President, Vice President, and Congressional leaders who support the President’s agenda, presenting not even a shred of coherent evidence to support his insane claims of treason. Celebricunts traumatizing the President’s kid while culturally appropriating ISIS’ trademark beheading on the national stage.

These people want to kill you. I say this as someone who was firmly in the #NeverTrump camp during the election. I say this as someone who many times disagrees with this administration’s policies. I say this as someone who sees what is going on in this nation and carries an extra magazine or two for her M1911 anywhere she goes these days. (Read the whole thing.)

THE LEFT EMBRACES POLITICAL VIOLENCE: “It did not take very long to get from ‘Punch a Nazi!’ to ‘assassinate a congressman,’” Kevin D. Williamson writes.

Needless to say, read the whole thing.

NORMAL BUT DERANGED: The Washington Times examines James Hodgkinson and angry Democrats.

Trump Derangement Syndrome leads to the obsession that every ill and annoyance of life is the work of Donald Trump, a traitor out to betray the nation to its enemies. Millions of Democrats, disappointed with the results of the 2016 elections, have built their lives around despising the president. It isn’t healthy for the republic, it isn’t healthy for those afflicted and it won’t be healthy for those who die at the hands of assassins.

The Alexandria assassin, slain at the site, seemed to have been obsessed with equal parts hatred of the president and devotion to Bernie Sanders. “He did not come off as a radical,” a friend in his hometown says of him. “He did not come off as an unstable individual. He wasn’t belligerent, he was just a kind of normal guy.”

Normal, but deranged. Mr. Hodgkinson’s “social media accounts” — Twitter, Facebook and the other instruments of the life of an obsession with trivia — showed him, observes The New York Times, “as deeply committed to liberal politics and distrustful of Republican-controlled Washington. In posts, he rails against Republicans, lavishes praise upon [Mr.] Sanders … and shows a deep engagement with the churn of news coming out of Washington.”

Senator Sanders isn’t responsible for Hodgkinson’s criminal act.

But Bernie Sanders is part of those who spread the derangement, of making losing an election, with all the pain that goes with it, both science and art. The derangement he suffers carries over into how he conducts his Senate business. The senator, an atheist, declared he wouldn’t vote to confirm a Trump nominee for a trade post because he doesn’t approve of the nominee’s Christian faith, though the Constitution expressly forbids making a religious test a qualification for office.

Read the whole thing.

SARAH HOYT: Fun House Mirrors.

I am not a prophet. I swear I’m not a prophet. But the vague, cold feeling that has been in my stomach for weeks, which got worse after that “discussion” yesterday has coalesced into a clear fear. I just posted this on Facebook:

A radical from a fringe group, led by insane rumor and innuendo, has shot someone who is not even the leader of the faction he hates.

Is Rep. Scalise’s middle name Ferdinand?

Listen to me now; stop believing crazy people, even those in the media. Yesterday, in a friend’s post someone called me racist/sexist/homophobic or implied it because apparently I want to “suppress voices” in science fiction. NO ONE who knows me can believe that. This woman knows me. And this was over an aesthetic disagreement in fricking tiny, irrelevant science fiction.

LISTEN TO ME NOW, it’s time to believe your lying eyes and accept that people can disagree with you without being evil. It’s time to investigate all news, even the ones you think confirm you bias. It’s time to wake up.

YOU DON’T WANT TO GO DOWN THIS ROAD. There is nothing for you here. It didn’t turn out well in 1914. It won’t turn out well now.

I’ve collected at least one idiot already, who thinks that saying republicans are evil doesn’t prove my post. What the actually? What madness is this? Can it end but in blood?

Read the whole thing.

THE WASHINGTON POST HAS SUDDENLY FORGOTTEN HOW THE ‘CLIMATE OF HATE’ WORKS:

These are exactly the same sort of links many on the left, not just Paul Krugman, made in 2011. Yes, we understand that Kathy Griffin is a comedian. We understand it wasn’t a call to real violence. Neither was the stuff cited by the left in 2011. It was all political rhetoric designed to rev up supporters, exactly the sort of thing Bernie Sanders was doing when he said “Take your anger out on the right people.”

If Sanders had said, ‘Take out your anger on the right targets’ it would be very close to a rhetorical version of Sarah Palin’s target map in both meaning and intent. All of us, right and left understand this. The problem is that, after Tucson, the left suddenly connected this rhetoric to real violence, absent any evidence. And now that there is violence which might actually have some connection to political rhetoric, folks like Dave Weigel have suddenly forgotten how the climate of hate argument works.

If you want to say that the right is wrong to connect the shooting to left-wing rhetoric, fine. I’m all for blaming the shooter. But you can’t denounce the right for making the “climate of hate” argument without first admitting the left was wrong to make the same sort of argument back then when there was a chance for them to blame it on the right.

Read the whole thing.

Flashback: Memo to Paul Krugman and Rep. Van Hollen: My Search Was Not in Vain.

EXPERTS AT WORK: More Economic Malpractice at the IMF.

Dan Mitchell:

In a perverse way, though, I admire their brassiness. They’re now arguing that higher taxes are good for growth.

This isn’t a joke. They never offer any evidence, of course, but it’s now routine to find international bureaucrats asserting that there will be more prosperity if more resources are taken out of the private sector and given to politicians (see the 3:30 mark of this video for some evidence).

Christine Lagarde, the lavishly paid head of the IMF, is doubling down on this bizarre idea that higher tax burdens are a way to generate more growth for poor nations.

Read the whole thing. And remember: If they’re brazen, it’s because they expect to get what they want.

MICHAEL VAN DER GALIEN: Theresa May and Her Tories Now Opting for ‘Soft Brexit.’

We now see happening what those of us who worried about what would happen if the Tories would lose the elections feared: Brexit is coming under pressure. Yes, the government still seems to go ahead with Britain’s break from the European Union, but it’s negotiation position has been weakened tremendously. Labour may say they’re in favor of Brexit now, but it’s crystal clear that the socialists are in their hearts Europhiles. That will have an impact on the talks between the EU and Britain; Labour will want to give Brussels more than Britain should be willing to give.

Sadly the truth of the matter is that British voters voted for this: they had the chance to guarantee Brexit, a hard or a soft on, but have failed to do so.

Read the whole thing.

HACKING THAAD: The U.S. Army’s THAAD anti-ballistic missile battery in South Korea is a major target for North Korean, Chinese and Russian hackers.

The army knows it has a major problem with cyber protection as do the other services (air force, navy and marines). This was made clear after U.S. Army established its first Cyber Protection Brigade in late 2014. There were plans to create two more brigades by 2016. That did not happen because the army in particular and the military in general could not create or recruit enough qualified personnel. There were other problems but the key difficulty was a shortage of qualified people to staff the key units; the cyber protection team.

Read the whole thing.

MY USA TODAY COLUMN: Unelected bureaucrats are running our lives.

Watching the ongoing clown show in Washington, Americans can be forgiven for asking themselves, “Why did we give this bunch of clowns so very much power over our nation and our lives?”

Well, don’t feel so bad, voters. Because you didn’t actually give them that much power. They just took it. That’s the thesis of Columbia Law Professor Philip Hamburger’s new book, The Administrative Threat, a short, punchy followup to his magisterial Is Administrative Law Unlawful? Both deal with the extraordinary — and illegitimate — power that administrative agencies have assumed in American life.

Do read the whole thing.

BYRON YORK: Is Robert Mueller conflicted in Trump probe? “An ordinary prosecutor would turn this over to someone uninvolved, and there would be lots of candidates. That is particularly so here where Comey is not just the star witness but a potential target.”

Plus: “It’s somewhat ironic, no? I mean, the whole purpose of the special counsel is to have a prosecutor from outside the government and outside of the normal chain of command because inherent conflicts render the Justice Department incapable of handling it. So, now the special counsel is a close friend (mentor/mentee relationship) with the star witness, who by his own admission leaked the memos at least in part to engineer the appointment of a special counsel.”

Read the whole thing. My take: Given his relationship with Comey, anything Mueller does will be interpreted as partisan. Oh, sure, the anti-Trump press will cheer him if he’s anti-Trump. But that will only increase the intensity of division in the country at large. If he cares about the nation, he’ll step down.

And anyway, what crime, exactly is he investigating? Or is this a case of “show me the man and I will find you the crime?”

MY USA TODAY COLUMN: Unelected bureaucrats are running our lives.

Watching the ongoing clown show in Washington, Americans can be forgiven for asking themselves, “Why did we give this bunch of clowns so very much power over our nation and our lives?”

Well, don’t feel so bad, voters. Because you didn’t actually give them that much power. They just took it. That’s the thesis of Columbia Law Professor Philip Hamburger’s new book, The Administrative Threat, a short, punchy followup to his magisterial Is Administrative Law Unlawful? Both deal with the extraordinary — and illegitimate — power that administrative agencies have assumed in American life.

Do read the whole thing.

THE WAY THE COMEY HEARING SHOULD HAVE GONE DOWN, DAY ONE:

Mr. Comey, to be blunt, sir, your well-established pattern of public virtue-signaling even as you refuse to answer questions from both Senate and House committees about your own behavior and the behavior of the FBI, has caused us to reconsider our normal procedures. By refusing to be responsive to the American people’s elected representatives, your actions have made you appear more interested in promoting your own self-interest and/or a political agenda than in seeking justice. As a result, we will dispense of your opening statement―which was already publicly issued ahead of this hearing―and instead move on to a series of questions in seven broad categories for you to answer about the FBI’s role in this investigation and your participation in it.

Read the whole thing.

SARAH HOYT: Sometimes You Need That Trek Uphill Both Ways.

Read the whole thing.

THEODORE DALRYMPLE ON BRITAIN’S ELECTION DISASTER:

Theresa May has proved an apt pupil of the David Cameron school of political incompetence. Lacking principle, she is not even good at being unprincipled: a Machiavellian, it turns out, minus the cunning.

It did not help that she had the charisma of a carrot and the sparkle of a spade. As she presented herself to the public, no one would have wanted her as a dinner guest, except under the deepest social obligation. Technically, she won the election, in the sense that she received more votes than anyone else, but few voted for her with enthusiasm rather than from fear of the alternative. Her disastrous campaign included repeated genuflections in the direction of social democracy. Even after her defeat, moral if not quite literal, she burbled about a society in which no one was left behind—never mind that it would entail a society in which no one would be out in front, that is to say, a society resting in the stagnant pool of its own mediocrity.

Unfortunately, egalitarianism is a little like Islam in that, just as a moderate Muslim can always be outflanked by someone more Islamic than he, so an egalitarian can usually be outflanked by someone more egalitarian than he: and in the contest between the Conservatives and the Labour Party, no one will ever believe that the Conservatives are more devoted to equality of outcome than the Labour Party. May therefore chose her battleground with a perfect eye for defeat.

Read the whole thing.

KURT SCHLICHTER: From Russia With Stupidity. “That towering doofus James Comey crushed the spirits of millions of democracy-hating geebos when, trapped by his own prior testimony, he was forced to admit the truth on national television. And that truth, as those of us not caught up in the whirlpool of Menschian insanity and liberal wishcasting all know, is that the whole Russia thing is a wheelbarrow of fresh Schumer squeezed out by Hillary and her minions in order to create a narrative – any narrative – that would hide the bitter truth. We rejected her, and now we’re rejecting the Russia idiocy too.”

Read the whole thing.

FINALLY, IT CAN BE TOLD: Stephen Miller’s Adventures at the Segregated ‘Wonder Woman’ Screening:

By the reaction upon arrival, it became apparent how Twitter outrage is not real life (surprise) and as I had predicted, that no one in the theater would care. This was a movie theater, not a college campus and everyone there was there for the same reason. It’s the most anti-climatic case of a man buying a movie ticket in recent history.

Still though, read the whole thing, which also includes a rather favorable review of the new movie itself. (Yes, amazingly enough, Hollywood still bothers to attach a movie to all of the social media outrage they now deem necessary for marketing purposes.)

And speaking of social media outrage, HA! Feminist FREAKS on [Miller] for saying women-only screening of Wonder Woman was great:

Bless her heart — and bake that cake.

WELL, NO. THIS WAS ALWAYS SMOKE AND MIRRORS. Alan Dershowitz: History, precedent and James Comey’s opening statement show that Trump did not obstruct justice.

Throughout United States history — from Presidents Adams to Jefferson to Lincoln to Roosevelt to Kennedy to Obama — presidents have directed (not merely requested) the Justice Department to investigate, prosecute (or not prosecute) specific individuals or categories of individuals.

It is only recently that the tradition of an independent Justice Department and FBI has emerged. But traditions, even salutary ones, cannot form the basis of a criminal charge. It would be far better if our constitution provided for prosecutors who were not part of the executive branch, which is under the direction of the president.

In Great Britain, Israel and other democracies that respect the rule of law, the director of public prosecution or the attorney general are law enforcement officials who, by law, are independent of the prime minister.

But our constitution makes the attorney general both the chief prosecutor and the chief political adviser to the president on matters of justice and law enforcement.

The president can, as a matter of constitutional law, direct the attorney general, and his subordinate, the director of the FBI, tell them what to do, whom to prosecute and whom not to prosecute. Indeed, the president has the constitutional authority to stop the investigation of any person by simply pardoning that person.

Read the whole thing.

VICTOR DAVIS HANSON: Mr. Nunes Went to Washington.

I live in rural Fresno County at the juncture of three congressional districts. All three are currently represented by Portuguese-Americans from farming families and from both parties: Nunes (22nd District); my own representative, David Valadao (Republican, 21st District); and Rep. Jim Costa (Democrat, 16th District). All three keep getting re-elected for their accessibility, informality and commitment to the traditional values of their districts.

Nunes became a controversial public figure nationally when he revealed that the surveillance of foreign governments by American intelligence agencies may have resulted in the inappropriate monitoring of members of the Trump transition team — and perhaps some private citizens, too — and the unmasking of their identities.

What followed this disclosure could have mirror-imaged the script of director Frank Capra’s classic film “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.”

It all started when Nunes said he had received unsolicited information of wrongdoing from one or more whistleblowers. Unfortunately for Nunes, he approached complaints of improper surveillance in a Central Valley sort of way (but a most un-Washington manner).

Instead of the usual pattern of leaking the whistleblower’s information to friendly media (and, of course, denying that he was the source of the leaks), Nunes went ballistic — and, heaven forbid, public.

Certain things simply aren’t done in Washington — but do read the whole thing.

REALITY WINNER’S PARENTS: SHE’S AFRAID SHE’LL BE DISAPPEARED, Ed Morrissey writes:

No one wants to denigrate the Davises, who are clearly in pain for their daughter, and who are trying to demonstrate loyalty to her in a crisis, but most of this is sheer nonsense. The US does not “disappear” criminals; that’s something that regimes like Iran do on a regular basis. Perhaps Winner should have kept that in mind when pledging her own loyalty to Iran’s foreign minister Javad Zarif on Twitter. Her stepfather claims in this interview that Winner’s a “patriot,” but pledging support to a regime that regularly declares “death to America” and exposing top-secret material to serve one’s own petty political passions are not the acts of patriots.

Disappeared? “Au contraire,” Jonah Goldberg tweets. “Most likely outcome is we’ll know **exactly** where she is for 5-10 years.” And that’s a good thing, Morrissey adds:

As for making an example of Winner, that’s precisely what the government needs to do, especially in this instance. There may be times when a whistleblower needs to go outside the chain of command with classified information to expose a specific instance of government wrongdoing, but Congress is still a much more legitimate option than the media. Even if that is true in principle, that has nothing to do with what Winner did. She wasn’t exposing government wrongdoing after trying to raise red flags internally — she exposed Top Secret information to satisfy her own sense of outrage over the results of an election. If Winner goes unpunished for that, we’ll have a deluge of leaks for similar reasons in every administration from here on out, and every president will serve at the whim of 25-year-old extremists in the intelligence agencies or their contractors. That’s not just untenable, it’s undemocratic — and at its core, un-American.

Read the whole thing.

ANDREW MCCARTHY: Comey’s Notes and the Wages of the Special Counsel Investigation.

Here is another example of how this could play out at Thursday’s hearing. When the president fired Comey, he took pains to say that the former director had told him on three separate occasions that he was not under investigation. Prehearing reporting suggests that Comey does not remember it this way. The matter is thus being teed up as though one or the other man must be lying.

We’ll have to see what happens, but to my mind, the seeming contradiction maybe reconcilable. According to Comey’s own prior testimony, the Russia investigation is a counterintelligence investigation. As I have repeatedly pointed out, a counterintelligence investigation is very different from a criminal investigation. It does not have “subjects” and “targets,” which are terms-of-art in criminal investigations, designating suspects who may be indicted by the grand jury. The purpose of the counterintelligence investigation is to focus on a foreign power – in this instance Russia – in order to determine what threats it might pose to American interests.

It is not the purpose of a counterintelligence investigation to build a prosecutable criminal case against a suspect. Nevertheless, if evidence of criminal wrongdoing turns up, the FBI’s national security division reserves the right to refer that evidence to its criminal division and the Justice Department, which can then determine whether prosecution is warranted.

It could well be that President Trump, a non-lawyer, was told the Russia investigation is a counterintelligence investigation, which would not be designed to build a case against him or anyone else. If so, he might understandably have taken that to mean he is not a suspect under investigation. At the same time, Comey realizes that you never know what evidence an investigation will turn up until it has been completed. Since the Russia investigation had not been completed, the former director may well believe that could not, and did not, make commitments regarding any information that had not yet been uncovered.

That’s just my educated speculation – and, as noted above, we’ll have to see what happens.

Lots to chew on here — read the whole thing.

SECRET DOTS IN PRINTOUTS: The case of the tell-tale microdots.

On 3 June, FBI agents arrived at the house of government contractor Reality Leigh Winner in Augusta, Georgia. They had spent the last two days investigating a top secret classified document that had allegedly been leaked to the press. In order to track down Winner, agents claim they had carefully studied copies of the document provided by online news site The Intercept and noticed creases suggesting that the pages had been printed and “hand-carried out of a secured space”.

In an affidavit, the FBI alleges that Winner admitted printing the National Security Agency (NSA) report and sending it to The Intercept. Shortly after a story about the leak was published, charges against Winner were made public.

At that point, experts began taking a closer look at the document, now publicly available on the web. They discovered something else of interest: yellow dots in a roughly rectangular pattern repeated throughout the page.

Read the whole thing.

DISPATCHES FROM THE EDUCATION APOCALYPSE: Betsy DeVos appoints campus free speech advocate Adam Kissel of FIRE. Leftists flip out.

Including “Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), well-known for her defense of Osama bin Laden as a man who built roads, schools, and daycare centers back in 2002, [who] blasted Kissel’s appointment in a statement.”

Read the whole thing.

ANGELO CODEVILLA: Punishing The Real Russia Crime: Leaking.

To divert attention from Clinton’s assorted e-mail problems, the DNC hired its associated IT firm, Crowdstike, which concluded―without giving any evidence―that “the Russians” had been hacking Democrats, and that they had done so to help the Republicans. The intelligence agencies concurred. Numerous intelligence officials have claimed to know who supplied the-mails to Wikileaks. No one has given evidence on the record. A minor defensive maneuver at the time, the “Russia interference in the elections” narrative grew into the Democratic Party’s main explanation for the massive electoral rejection at all levels it ended up suffering on November 8, 2016.

When Donald Trump became the Republican nominee, much of the U.S government, intelligence agencies included, conducted “opposition research” on him. This included tacitly validating a scurrilous report by a British source of Donald Trump with Russian prostitutes. At first, it targeted Paul Manafort, whom Trump had chosen to manage his campaign at the Republican convention, and Carter Page, a minor foreign policy advisor. The FBI and the Justice Department obtained a warrant from the secret court established under the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to intercept their electronic communications. Both men had worked, legally, with Russian entities.

On May 24, 2017 Obama’s CIA Director John O. Brennan testified in that regard with language that reflected the “probable cause” assumption presented to the court that these were or could be “foreign agents.”

As Glenn has noted here previously, “Brennan’s track record is poor and his motives suspect.”

And do read the whole thing.

CLAUDIA ROSETT: Keeping Faith With Tiananmen.

I was there, reporting in Beijing for The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page, and in a story I filed for the May 22 Asian edition, on “The Creed at Tiananmen Square,” the message on that poster figured in the lead. One of my editors, Seth Lipsky — who now runs The New York Sun — added a line that comes to mind today: “What’s happening in China right now is something the world will remember.”

We must remember. It is a matter not only of keeping faith with the heroes of Tiananmen, but with our own creed that liberty is an unalienable right. It is a matter of understanding something vital about the undercurrents in China, something that Beijing’s rulers would prefer we forget.

In the 28 years since June 4, 1989, China’s ruling Communist Party has done everything in its power to obliterate inside China the memory of the Tiananmen uprising. As far as China’s government alludes to it at all, Tiananmen’s haunting cry for freedom is recast as a “disturbance,” caused by a rabble. The lone man who on June 5 stopped a column of tanks has become an inspiring symbol abroad, but in China he has literally disappeared. It is by now routine to find in the news, on each anniversary of the June 4 slaughter in Beijing, articles such as today’s dispatch in the Financial Times, headlined “Support grows in China for 1989 Tiananmen crackdown.”

Read the whole thing.

SPENGLER: Counter-terror Lessons from America’s Civil War.

These attacks, in other words, are designed to impress the Muslim public as much as they are intended to horrify the western public. In so many words, the terrorists tell Muslims that western police agencies cannot protect them. If they cooperate with the police they will be found out and punished. The West fears the power of Islam: it evinces such fear by praising Islam as a religion of peace, by squelching dissent in the name of fighting supposed Islamophobia, and by offering concessions and apologies to Muslims. Ordinary Muslims live in fear of the terror networks, which have infiltrated their communities and proven their ability to turn the efforts of western security services against them. They are less likely to inform on prospective terrorists and more likely to aid them by inaction.

The terrorists, in short, are winning the intelligence war, because they have shaped the environment in which intelligence is gathered and traded. But that is how intelligence wars always proceed: spies switch sides and tell their stories because they want to be with the winner. ISIS and al-Qaeda look like winners in the eyes of western Muslim populations after humiliating the security services of the West.

Read the whole thing.

BE THANKFUL FOR WHAT TRUMP IS NOT, Andrew Klavan writes:

[W]with the Supreme Court taking on the role, as it has, of super legislature, all it requires is five idiot intellectuals who believe in leftist crap for us to lose the right to speak free — which, let’s face it, is inseparable from the right to live free.

Because Trump is what he is — and because of what he is not — we have preserved that precious right for another day. For that alone, he deserves our thanks and support.

Read the whole thing.

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.

HEATHER MAC DONALD: The Left’s Unilateral Suicide Pact.

Since liberals and progressives will not allow a rethinking of open borders policy, perhaps they would support improved intelligence capacity so as to detect terror attacks in the planning stages? Nope. The Left still decries the modest expansions of surveillance power under the 2001 Patriot Act as the work of totalitarianism. Former New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly sought to gather publicly available information about dense Muslim neighborhoods in New York in order to monitor potential radicalization; his discontinued initiative is still denounced as anti-Muslim oppression. Internet companies protect encrypted communications from government access, to the applause of civil libertarians and the mainstream media. The National Security Agency’s mass data analysis, done by unconscious computer algorithms, is still being challenged in court.

What about using ordinary police powers to try to hinder terrorism? Islamic terrorists in Europe have moonlighted as crooks, engaging in drug dealing, robberies, vandalism, and theft. The U.S. should have zero tolerance for any criminal activity committed by aliens: break the criminal law and you’re out of here. Deporting alien criminals is both an anti-crime and an anti-terrorism strategy. Yet mayors and police chiefs in sanctuary jurisdictions across the country continue to release alien criminals back into the community from jail in defiance of requests by Immigration and Customs Enforcement to hold the criminals briefly for removal proceedings. The New York Police Department defied every ICE detainer request it received in the first four months of 2017, instead releasing 179 alien criminals back into the streets, according to the New York Post.

So what does the progressive and liberal bloc offer? Treacly bromides, combined with fatalism about the necessity of adjusting to future attacks.

Read the whole thing.

AMERICA FIRST DOESN’T MEAN AMERICA ALONE: H.R. McMaster and Gary Cohn in The Wall Street Journal.

…America First does not mean America alone. It is a commitment to protecting and advancing our vital interests while also fostering cooperation and strengthening relationships with our allies and partners. A determination to stand up for our people and our way of life deepens our friends’ respect for America.

The president is unequivocal in declaring that America’s primary interest is the safety and security of our citizens. In discussions overseas, Mr. Trump encouraged others to join the U.S. in doing more to defeat the terrorist organizations that threaten peaceful nations around the world. He challenged leaders of more than 50 Muslim-majority countries to stand together “against the murder of innocent Muslims, the oppression of women, the persecution of Jews, and the slaughter of Christians.”

A strong stand against terrorism is consistent with values common across all the world’s great religions. After the president’s historic remarks, leader after leader of Muslim-majority nations reaffirmed the president’s message and committed to confronting the terrorism and extremism that plague all civilized societies. To answer the call and address these grave concerns, Saudi Arabia launched a new Global Center for Combatting Extremist Ideology, and several Middle Eastern nations signed a memorandum of understanding to create the Terrorist Financing Targeting Center, with the mission of cutting off funds to terrorist organizations.

More:

This historic trip represented a strategic shift for the United States. America First signals the restoration of American leadership and our government’s traditional role overseas—to use the diplomatic, economic and military resources of the U.S. to enhance American security, promote American prosperity, and extend American influence around the world.

Read the whole thing.

SPENGLER: Merkel throws Trump in the briar patch.

Donald Trump and Angela Merkel now agree about the main issues in US-German relations. “The times in which we could rely fully on others — they are a way past us,” Merkel told a beer-tent rally of her political party. “We Europeans really have to take our fate into our own hands.” That is just what President Trump has been telling the Europeans since the beginning of last year’s US election campaign, demanding in particular that Europe pay more for its own defense. Both Trump and Merkel, moreover, say they want the Euro to strengthen against the U.S. dollar. That buries the two bones of contention between Berlin and Washington. Everything else is political posturing and fake news.

The German Chancellor in effect threatens to throw President Trump into the proverbial briar patch, giving him what he wants while appearing to denounce him.

Read the whole thing.

DAMION DANIELS: No, You’re Not More Likely to Be Killed by a Right-Wing Extremist than an Islamic Terrorist.

The fact that the two deadliest attacks upon the U.K. in recent memory were at the hands of Islamic terrorists is not simply pub trivia. I mention it because when these apologists for Islam get bored of claiming that jihadists are incessantly and inexplicably lying about their religious motivations, they invariably engage in the crass exercise of throwing around skewed data in a desperate attempt to deemphasize the danger posed by Islamic terror. As far as I can tell, this is not due to some well-meaning concern for people worrying unnecessarily, or to ensure that counter terrorism strategy is accurately focused upon the most serious threat, it seems rather to be a tactical attempt to prioritize the protection of odious 7th century folklore over the welfare of real human beings.

More than that, it’s about keeping the proles in line and feeling guilty.

And do read the whole thing, which is chock full of fact and figures.

MEGAN MCARDLE ON HEALTHCARE AND THE CBO: Republicans are on the right path with their health-care plan: Give so much authority to states that a federal agency can’t even forecast what will happen.

Forget the headline numbers from the Congressional Budget Office’s latest score for the Republican health-care bill. The score tells us something much more important, and much less remarked: Republicans have broken the CBO. They’ve passed a bill that, for all intents and purposes, cannot be scored by the normal CBO process. I don’t say that they’ve done this deliberately, mind you — in fact, I’m pretty sure they it wasn’t premeditated. But they’ve done it just the same.

Oh, the fine folks at the CBO have gone in and given it their best try, and that’s what produced the headline numbers you’ve read: 14 million fewer people insured by 2018, 23 million by 2026, and a net reduction in the deficit of $119 billion in the coming decade. But after that, it starts getting a little weird. Premiums will go up for a while, and then maybe down for some people but up for others, and it’s hard to get an average … this score has a whole lot of caveats, more “difficult to predict” and “estimate uncertain,” than longtime CBO watchers are primed to expect.

The CBO process has never been perfect, for there has always been an uneasy tension between realistically outlining uncertainties and providing enough precision to guide the policy process. This nonpartisan office has at times irked Democrats, other times Republicans. Its estimates are not necessarily accurate — as the saying goes, “predictions are hard, especially about the future” — but they are consistent, giving politicians and the public a single, if imperfect, framework for comparing policy choices.

CBO estimates prefer a single number to a range. They limit the term over which they project the costs, because projecting the policy environment 50 years out is a mug’s game. They have declined to consider some sort of uncertainties, such as “Will future congresses have the guts to see this thing through?” because however real those risks are, analyzing them would put the CBO in the position of political advocate rather than budget wonk.

Naturally politicians have long striven to exploit those tensions. For example, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was stuffed with dodgy “pay-fors” of dubious political economic or viability. Many of these were clearly not ever going to take effect, but they allowed Democrats to claim tidy budget savings from passing the bill. The timeline of the program’s rollout was also set up so that a lot of the costs fell outside the budget window, while new revenue showed up pretty quickly. The CBO tried to make it clear that these things were problems, but ultimately, they were restrained by their principles from saying: “Guys. We’re going to make everyone in America start issuing 1099s to stores? Really?”

Jiggery pokery.

SALENA ZITO: Promised Land Lost.

Only ghosts and shadows haunt the empty halls of Sheaffer Pens, the onetime giant pen manufacturer on H Street.

Its locked doors and worn brick stand like weary sentinels along the banks of the Mississippi in this struggling southeast Iowa river-and-railroad town.

Rust weeps through the paint on the window frames; the once magnificent illuminated-letters sign with the trademark white dot that faced Illinois is gone, no longer serving as a gatekeeper for its fortress of employees.

At its peak, it employed more than 2,500 people in a town of 14,000; nearly everyone here had someone in their family who worked there — sometimes, two or three or more.

By the time they were bought out by French-owned BIC in 2003, the 40 employees left in the iconic company’s pen-point assembly department were told it was only a matter of time before the operation would be moved to a third-party manufacturer in Asia; Slovakia would become the home for customer service, purchasing, warehousing and distribution work, as well as packaging and quality control.

What made Sheaffer special?

Ingenuity.

Read the whole thing.

It’s a sad story, and one repeated in too many town across the nation. But relying on fountain pen sales in the second decade of the 21st Century might indicate that the ingenuity had run dry.

GUY BUYS MOVIE TICKET, INTERNET OUTRAGED: “After years of progressives demanding that businesses bake cakes and open bathrooms, it’s cathartic to see them reverse their position when it offends their consciences. Miller is offering them a minor, even friendly, clinic on the brave new world they have created.”

Read the whole thing.

ELI LAKE: Trump’s Allies, Convicted of High Crimes Without a Trial.

Flynn has yet to be charged with a crime. If there is evidence that he betrayed his country, it has yet to be presented. None of the many news stories about Flynn’s contacts with Russians and Turks has accused him of being disloyal to his country. And yet a decorated general has already been tried and convicted in the press.

None of this would be happening without some very dirty business from the national security state. It’s a two-pronged campaign. First there are the whispers. Anonymous officials describe in detail elements of an ongoing investigation: intercepts of conversations between Russian officials about how they could influence Flynn during the transition; monitored phone calls about how Flynn had lied about his conversations with the Russian ambassador to his colleagues; how Flynn failed to disclose his payment from the Russian propaganda network on his official forms. This prong of the campaign is at least factual, but the facts don’t speak for themselves.

The second and more insidious element here is the innuendo. Yates never says Flynn was a spy for Russia. But her public remarks to Congress and the media appear designed to leave that impression. As she told Lizza, Flynn was “compromised by the Russians.” This sounds far more sinister than Flynn’s explanation when he left his post in February. Back then he said he had forgotten elements of his discussion with the Russian ambassador that covered a wide range of issues.

Yates’s innuendo is nothing compared to that dropped by former CIA director John Brennan.

Read the whole thing and remember: The Deep State does what it wills.

EXCLUSIVE: Erdogan thug is Democrat donor.

A significant portion of the political left has a penchant for violence these days. From May Day protestors in Portland, Oregon, to Antifa rioters and arsonists at UC Berkeley, to melee-creating students at Middlebury College, for too many fists and Molotov cocktails are an appropriate response to opinions they don’t like.

Add to that list Eyup Yildirim, identified by beating victim Lucy Usoyan as one of the thugs who beat her up while she was protesting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan last Tuesday (May 16) outside the Turkish embassy in Washington, D.C. At least 11 of the protesters were reportedly injured.

A check of Federal Election Commission records shows that Eyup Yildirim of Manchester, New Jersey, has donated to several Democratic Party candidates.

The FEC’s online database shows the following contributions in his name: $1,000 to Hillary Clinton for President; $1,000 to Rush Holt for Congress (Holt was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from New Jersey’s 12th district from 1999 to 2015); $5,000 to the Obama Victory Fund; $2,300 to Obama for America; and $2,700 to the Democratic National Committee.

Read the whole thing. Yildirim seems like an excellent prospect for swamp-draining.

QUESTION ASKED AND ANSWERED:

Question: Why is there never a warning about Backlash before the suspect is named?

Answer: Because if the suspect turns out to be one of the few the media can claim are “right wing” (Nazis, etc.), then the media does not warn against backlash, but actively crusades in favor of it.

Read the whole thing.

NEWT GINGRICH AND PAT NOLAN: Opioid Addictions Won’t be Cured by Tough Sentences.

One of the most important promises President Trump made during the campaign was his pledge to end the opioid epidemic – and he has taken some strong steps toward making good on that promise, including the creation of a commission and almost a half billion dollars in new funding. But Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s announcement last week that federal prosecutors should “pursue the most serious, readily provable offense” when dealing with drug crimes has us concerned.

While the memo does allow for some prosecutorial discretion, we are troubled because this directive could potentially slow progress fighting the opioid epidemic and work against other efforts by the Trump administration to do so.

Frankly, putting people battling opioid addiction in jail rather than in treatment programs could lead to more opioid-related deaths.

A huge body of evidence shows opioid addiction is a chemical brain disease – not a behavioral or lifestyle decision. Because of this, many people who are chemically predisposed to opioid addiction become hooked after taking lawfully prescribed opioid-based painkillers following a surgery or an accident. Once the prescription runs out, they turn to the illegal market to feed their addiction. These are not people with malignant intentions, they are suffering from an addiction – a medical condition.

Read the whole thing.

STRIKE A POSE, THERE’S NOTHING TO IT.  Mark Steyn on when “Dangerous Woman” Meets Dangerous Man:

[M]ost other western citizens believe that, to invert Trotsky, if you’re not interested in Islam, Islam won’t be interested in you. Ariana Grande was eight at the time of 9/11, and most of her fans even younger. They have passed their entire sentient lives in the age of Islamic terror, yet somehow assume it’s something compartmentalized and sealed off from them. “Dangerous Woman” is meant to be an attitude, nothing more — an edgy pose in a pop culture that lost any edge long ago; a great T-shirt, like the ones last night scavenged from the merchandising stands and used to bandage the wounded. It must come as a shock to realize there are those who take your ersatz provocations as the real thing, and are genuinely provoked by them.

“Carrying on exactly as before”, as The Independent advises, will not be possible. A few months ago, I was in Toulouse, where Jewish life has vanished from public visibility and is conducted only behind the prison-like walls of a fortress schoolhouse and a centralized synagogue that requires 24/7 protection by French soldiers; I went to Amsterdam, which is markedly less gay than it used to be; I walked through Molenbeek after dark, where unaccompanied women dare not go. You can carry on, you can stagger on, but life is not exactly as it was before. Inch by inch, it’s smaller and more constrained.

Read the whole thing.

GOLDEN STATE BLUES: How some Southern California drug rehab centers exploit addiction.

His hair is dirty and matted. His voice is raspy. And on this sunny Tuesday, Solomon is dragging around a bag full of cans and bottles that he hopes to sell to the RePlanet Recycling station behind the Ralph’s in San Clemente.

He wants to raise $20 so he can get high one last time before he goes into rehab.

As a kid, Solomon was taught not to steal or use drugs. But today, at 28, he’s grown up to become a shoplifter and a junkie, addicted to heroin and meth and benzodiazepines, one of the hardest drugs to kick.

Those aren’t the only contradictions in Solomon’s life.

As broke as he is, Solomon is worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. Chronic drug users like Solomon are commodities, exploited by a growing world of drug and alcohol rehab operators who put profit ahead of patient care. Everything from the opioid epidemic and Obamacare to prison realignment and legal loopholes has created conditions in which unethical operators can flourish, using addicts to bilk insurance companies and the public out of hundreds of millions of dollars.

Though many legitimate centers remain, critics and long-time insiders say a darker version of the industry is emerging, built around an illicit world of patient recruiters, fraud-driven clinics and drug-testing mills.

Southern California, where the implementation of Obamacare makes it easy for recent arrivals to sign on for insurance, is on the front line of the conflict.

Read the whole thing, if you can.

SALENA ZITO: The crisis in American journalism benefits no one.

Beginning in the 1980s, Washington and New York City newsrooms began to be dominated by people who had the same backgrounds; for the most part they went to the same Ivy League journalism schools, where they made the right contacts and connections to get their jobs.

Yes, elite networks are a thing not just in law schools, as “Hillbilly Elegy” author J.D. Vance so aptly described of his experiences in law school. They also exist in Ivy League or elite journalism schools.

And the journalists who came from working-class roots found it in their best interest to adopt the conventional, left-of-center views that were filling the halls of newsrooms.

In short, after a while you adopt the culture you exist in either out of survival or acceptance or a little of both. Or you really just wanted to shed your working-class roots for a variety of reasons: shame, aspiration, ascension, etc.

That does not make them bad people – aspiration is the heart of the American Dream — but it did begin the decline of connection between elite journalism institutions such as the New York Times and the Washington Post and the rest of the country.

So when fewer and fewer reporters shared the same values and habits of many of their consumers, inferences in their stories about people of faith and their struggles squaring gay marriage or abortion with their belief systems were picked up by the readers.

Pro-tip, don’t think people can’t pick up an inference, even the most subtle, in the written word. It is as evident as a news anchor rolling his eyes at someone on his panel he doesn’t agree with.

Same goes for job losses, particularly in coal mines or manufacturing. News reports filled with how those job losses help the environment are not going to sit well with the person losing their job. Also: Just because they have a job that faces an environmental challenge does not mean they hate the environment.

For 20 years these news organizations, along with CBS, NBC and ABC, were the only game in town. They served as gatekeepers of information, and as their newsrooms became more and more detached from the center of the country, consumers began to become detached from them.

And then along came the Internet. Not only were different sources now available, but news aggregators such as Drudge made it easy to find things giving everyone access to “alternative facts.”

The universe of information expanded, and it became clear that what Peter Jennings, Dan Rather or the New York Times told consumers was not the whole story, and if you were a conservative (and a plurality of Americans self-identify as center right) you lost all trust in the mainstream media.

If you wish to be trusted, be trustworthy.

KYLE SMITH ON WHY SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER WOULDN’T BE A BLOCKBUSTER TODAY:

Instructing young adults that they couldn’t always get what they wanted wasn’t the main purpose of 1970s filmmaking, but it was a side benefit. The movies amounted to a generational warning about the perils and setbacks of adult life. We learned that the system was hopelessly stacked against us, that dreams rarely come true, that people are flawed and life will wear you down. Movies today, though, are calibrated to reach an audience raised with the certain knowledge that self-esteem is the most important trait, that young people will lead the way, and that you can have anything you can imagine, as soon as you can imagine it. Kids identify with childish superheroes who rule their environments. Deadpool, Iron Man, and Harley Quinn kick butt and crack jokes. Harry Potter can come up with a spell for any occasion. Katniss Everdeen is fierce and unbeatable.

Even when today’s movie heroes are in extreme danger, such as Matt Damon’s stranded-on-Mars Mark Watney in The Martian, they’re so cool and confident that quips never stop flowing out of their mouths. Successful movies reflect their audiences, but they help shape them as well. Kids imagine themselves getting lost in space a million miles from home and they think: That’s me in any situation — I got this. We’ve raised a generation of little superheroes. Small wonder that the intern in your office seems surprised that she’s assigned boring tasks, or expects a promotion after three months, or offers you advice on how best to reorganize the company.

Read the whole thing.

THE SMARTEST HUMAN TRICK: Why the Future Is Always on Your Mind. The founder of positive psychology, Penn’s Martin Seligman, has joined with colleagues to start another field, prospective psychology. He and I argue in the NYT that Homo sapiens is a misnomer, because calling ourselves the “wise man” is more of a boast than a description. What makes us wise? What sets us apart? Other animals live in the moment, but we can’t stop thinking about tomorrow.

A more apt name for our species would be Homo prospectus, because we thrive by considering our prospects. The power of prospection is what makes us wise. Looking into the future, consciously and unconsciously, is a central function of our large brain, as psychologists and neuroscientists have discovered — rather belatedly, because for the past century most researchers have assumed that we’re prisoners of the past and the present.

Read the whole thing. Or check out the book-length version, Homo Prospectus.

HARD PROOF THAT CHINESE COMPANIES ASSISTED NORTH KOREA’S BALLISTIC MISSILE PROGRAM: In February 2016 North Korea conducted a missile test. The missile malfunctioned and South Korea recovered pieces of the missile. Then the detective work began.

A team of UN technical experts and sanctions investigators issued a report in early 2017 agreeing with South Korean allegations that North Korea was not only obtaining key components and manufacturing equipment via China but also prohibited raw materials and cooperation from Chinese banks and companies to pay suppliers and hide these activities from outside scrutiny. The Chinese government still denies knowledge of these activities but the latest evidence was so detailed and well documented that China did admit it must be acted on.

More:

The Chinese government was forced to admit that certain Chinese firms were defying Chinese sanctions and smuggling the technology and some of the needed software and raw materials to North Korea.

Read the whole thing.

HYBRID WARFARE: How Russia Weaponized Social Media in Crimea.

During the 2014 annexation of Crimea, the Russian government spent more than $19 million to fund 600 people to constantly comment on news articles, write blogs, and operate throughout social media.[4] They intended to sway public and international opinion, overwhelm the voices of dissidents online, and create an image of a population supportive of the annexation. To accomplish this, social cyber attackers appealed to the pro-Russian population of Crimea by spreading rumors of hate and fear. One such rumor involved the crucifixion of a three-year-old child in the public square of Slovyansk by Ukrainian soldiers, but independent sources quickly debunked this story as false.[5]

Despite the falsehood of this story, people believed it as it spread among the population. The supporters of annexation accepted this story as truth because it appealed to their bias against the Ukrainian forces in the area. Pro-Russian cyber-attackers released several similar stories in an attempt to further polarize the population in Crimea. An example of this involved the story of an alleged emergency physician named Igor Rosovsky at the epicenter of the May 2014 Odessa violence who asserted that Ukrainian supporters attacked Crimean nationalists and burned them alive. When “Igor” attempted to treat the nationalists, the Ukrainian fighters stopped him and made disparaging anti-Semitic comments towards him.[6] This Facebook post spread rapidly among Russian social media sites such as Vkontakte, where users shared the story 5,000 times within 24 hours. Again, Western analysts debunked this story, like the Slovyansk crucifixion of a child.[7]

Despite the invalidity of such stories, social media platforms allow a message to reach millions of people faster than ever before. The rate of interactions on these platforms vary from two to 70 interactions per post per 1,000 users.[8] For those attempting to shape a narrative, this platform is one of the fastest ways to spread rumors and generate fear or hatred against their opposition. Teams of social cyber attackers such as those involved in the Russian annexation of Crimea target demographics already sympathetic to their cause and stoke that flame to inspire them to take action.

Read the whole thing.

The takeaway? A relatively tiny $19 million investment in social media played a major part in Russia’s lightning campaign to invade and annex a strategically vital peninsula. That’s a valuable lesson, and one Moscow won’t forget.

SEEMS LIKE IT WOULD OFFER INSUFFICIENT OPPORTUNITY FOR GRAFT: Could the military buy its guns online in the future?

The Defense Department may start doing a whole lot more online shopping in 2018, if Republican Rep. Mac Thornberry has his way.

The Texas chairman of the Armed Services Committee unveiled new legislation Thursday that aims to cut costly bureaucratic red tape at the Pentagon by allowing the military to buy everything from pens to treadmills from business-to-business sites such as Staples and Amazon.

That would free the federal government’s biggest bureaucracy from using its current “expensive” and “onerous” contracting and scheduling process to buy its commercial goods, according to Thornberry.

But could it also work for firearms?

“I may get myself in trouble here,” said Thornberry, easing into the topic during a press conference Thursday.

Military handguns are a prime — and somewhat notorious — example of the delays and waste of acquisition that the Republican chairman has been working to root out for the past two years, according to a panel of experts who testified to Armed Services earlier this week.

Well, they should at least buy their ammo from my former students at LuckyGunner.com.

THAT WOULD EXPLAIN A LOT: Former Bush AG On Comey’s 2007 Brush With Scandal: ‘Jim’s Loyalty Was More To Chuck Schumer.’

Sean Davis:

In fact, the current episode is not the first time Comey and his associates plotted to oust a sitting Republican official through highly orchestrated political theater and carefully crafted narratives in which Comey is the courageous hero bravely fighting to preserve the rule of law. To understand how Comey came to be FBI director in the first place, and how he operates in the political arena, it is important to review the last scandal in which Comey had a front-row seat: the 2007 U.S. attorney firings and the fight over the 2004 reauthorization of Stellar Wind, a mass National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance program designed to mitigate terrorist threats in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.

The pivotal scene in the Comey-crafted narrative, a drama that made Comey famous and likely paved the road to his 2013 appointment by President Barack Obama to run the FBI, occurred in a Beltway hospital room in early 2004. In Comey’s view, Comey was the last honest man in Washington, the only person standing between a White House that rejected any restraints on its power, and the rule of law protecting Americans from illegal mass surveillance.

A former White House counsel and attorney general with extensive first-hand experience dealing with Comey, however, paints a very different picture of what happened in that hospital room, and disputes numerous key details. In this account, Comey’s actions showcase a duplicitous, secretive schemer whose true loyalties were not to the officials to whom he reported, but to partisan Democrats like Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). To fully understand and appreciate Jim Comey’s approach to politics, the writings and testimony of Alberto Gonzales, who served as both White House counsel and attorney general during the events in question and is intimately aware of Comey’s history of political maneuvering, is absolutely essential.

Read the whole thing.

VICTOR DAVIS HANSON: The Nightmares and the Realities of Never Trump.

Rarely in the last half-century have so many elite conservatives and intellectuals been so estranged both from a Republican administration and from those who voted for it—neither have they become so animated in their antipathy and disgust for a sitting president.

During the 2016 election, and the current Trump presidency, there have appeared four implicit tenets to the conservative “Never Trump” position that, we are supposed to understand, justified not voting for him, actively opposing him, or voting for Hillary Clinton:

1) The character flaws of the inexperienced and uncouth Trump would eventually nullify any positive agenda that he might enact; not opposing such a boorish character undermines one’s reputation as an empirical and fair-minded conservative;

2) Trump is a liberal wolf in conservative sheep’s clothing; at any given moment he will break his campaign promises and revert to his 1980s New York Democratic self. Or, Trump has no ideology and is an empty vessel willing to embrace almost any ideology he finds efficacious to his ambitions of the moment. Either way, he will do the conservative cause real damage;

3) Trump’s base supporters, while not irredeemables and deplorables, are prone to nationalist extremism and embrace certain prejudices that are antithetical to conservative values;

4) Clinton’s progressive agendas would not do as much damage to the nation as would Trump’s uncouth character. Thus the defeat of the Republicans in 2016, or the failure of an ensuing Trump presidency, would be cathartic. Only a Trump implosion would teach Republicans never again to allow such an untried and dangerous populist nationalist without political experience to highjack their party, while cleansing the movement of some odious figures and unpalatable ideas that have no business in it—or both.

How true have these nightmares so far played out?

Read the whole thing.

Plus, as I said yesterday: “The childish response of Democrats — and ‘NeverTrump’ Republicans — to the 2016 election has done more damage to American politics and institutions than any foreign meddling could do.”

ELIZABETH PRICE FOLEY IN THE NEW YORK TIMES: Trump’s Statements Are Not an Obstruction of Justice.

Widespread howls erupted, including by editors of this paper, asserting that President Trump obstructed justice. But as distasteful as the president’s statements may be, they do not constitute an obstruction of justice. Indeed, if they did, virtually every communication between criminal defense lawyers and investigators would be a crime. . . .

Even assuming, for the sake of argument, that Mr. Trump intended an implied offer of continued employment in exchange for Mr. Comey’s dismissal of the Flynn investigation, it would be implausible for Mr. Comey to construe it as such. Mr. Comey was aware that he was an at-will employee who could be fired by the president at any time, for any reason. Indeed, when President Obama endorsed Hillary Clinton for president in June 2016 — during the height of the F.B.I.’s investigation into Secretary Clinton’s private email server — it would have been similarly implausible for Mr. Comey to construe Mr. Obama’s pro-Clinton remarks as an implicit offer of continued employment, in exchange for dropping the Clinton investigation. Even though Mr. Comey dropped the investigation one month later, he presumably knew that although it would please both Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton, it would not insulate him from being fired.

But even if one adopted an unprecedentedly broad conception of bribery, Mr. Trump’s purported statement still would not violate Section 1510. The statute is designed to preserve the free flow of information, prohibiting only acts that obstruct investigators’ access to information. Bribery of a potential witness, for example, is behavior prohibited by Section 1510. But telling the F.B.I. director that someone is a “good guy” and expressing the hope that an investigation will cease does not obstruct the free flow of information.

Another, broader federal obstruction statute is Section 1505 of Title 18, but even this statute does not fit. Specifically, Section 1505 declares that anyone who “corruptly” endeavors to obstruct the proper administration of law “under which any pending proceeding is being had before any department or agency of the United States” is guilty of a felony. Even putting aside the difficulty of proving, beyond a reasonable doubt, that President Trump’s brief and generalized words evinced the necessary “corrupt” mind-set, Section 1510 applies only to a “pending proceeding.”

Read the whole thing. Also note that the Obama Administration made sure that Lois Lerner — who ran a corrupt, political effort to target political opponents using the power of the federal government — didn’t face charges. This was not called obstruction of justice, but “prosecutorial discretion.”

Plus: “Principled objections to Mr. Trump’s policies and leadership style should not blind opponents to the dangers of repeated, knee-jerk calls for criminal prosecution of the president of the United States. Let the evidence unfold, and reserve serious charges if and when the evidence warrants it. Crying wolf undermines the credibility of the opposition, further divides an already deeply divided country and breeds cynicism about American institutions that is as dangerous to our republic, if not more, than outside meddling.”

The childish response of Democrats — and “NeverTrump” Republicans — to the 2016 election has done more damage to American politics and institutions than any foreign meddling could do.

THE RUSSIAN HACK: It sounds like a Hillary conspiracy theory, and it is.

R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr:

How did we find ourselves at this comic pass with the Democratic Party warning us of the Russian menace — the Democratic Party whose members have included Alger Hiss and, more lately, Bill Ayers? Well, turn to the recently released bestseller written by Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes, “Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed Campaign.” All the pundits are talking about it, and there are things to admire in it. For instance, turn to Page 395. There you will find this revelation: “Hillary declined to take responsibility for her own loss . Hillary kept pointing her finger at Comey and Russia . That strategy had been set within twenty-four hours of her concession speech . For a couple of hours [Hillary and her aides] went over the script they would pitch to the press and the public. Already, Russian hacking was the centerpiece of the argument.” Now it is the “centerpiece” of the mainstream media and the Democratic Party’s campaign against Donald Trump.

Read the whole thing.

I’d just add that if Democrats had constantly shown this much concern about the Russians, we’d have won the Cold War ten years sooner.

RICHARD FERNANDEZ ON OUR FRAGILE CIVILIZATION:

One of the weaknesses of the anti-Trump resistance is their inability to address the factors which brought the current administration into existence.  Too many think it’s all about one man.  This may explain why the Resistance to the Resistance has been surprisingly hard to push off the Hill and why Bernie Sanders is the most popular Democratic politician in America.  The key insight into the problem is that people didn’t vote for Trump but against Hillary, PC, and the ending of their world. Charles Sykes in New York Times noted this element of sheer reaction. “Mr. Trump’s most vocal supporters don’t have to defend his specific actions as long as they make liberal heads explode”.*

A hundred years ago the liberal project seemed easily attainable. “I have seen the future and it works,” wrote Lincoln Steffens, yet it’s proved surprisingly hard to close the sale. The reason why the masses should reject such a brilliant vision were hard to explain.  Despite Leftist fears their foes were never more than a coalition of amateurs with no particular ideology.  The alt-right didn’t even know it was alt-right until they were properly analyzed and labeled.

So why can’t such a stupid, ignorant and incompetent bunch be seen off?  That must be what troubles the Resistance. The scariest possibility is they are up against complexity itself, fighting a reality that refuses subordination to a narrative.  The world is hard to control, even when you dominate all the media outlets.  Jurassic Park was Michael Crichton’s parable warning against trying to linearly control complex systems. In history Marx may be friction’s equivalent of John Hammond.  “God creates dinosaurs, God kills dinosaurs, God creates man, man kills God, man brings back dinosaurs,” might explain the banging on globalism’s door when there should be nobody there.

The liberal project wanted the global world.  Maybe they didn’t understand what came with it.

Read the whole thing; though I rarely disagree with any of Richard’s analyses, they’re not liberals in the classical sense, they’re leftists; which is why they bring a whole lot of bad luck, to coin an Insta-phrase, when they’re running things entirely.

* It’s also better for us all that the left is largely unified in waging war against Trump, than say, an Indiana pizza shop owner or Washington state florist.

(Via SDA.)

KYLE SMITH: Why working class Americans voted with their middle finger:

[Hillary’s] rhetoric about helping the poor also turned off the WWC: The have-a-littles disdain the have-nots. Working people in the middle are proud of their discipline and resent the spongers they perceive as being rewarded for having none. They don’t romanticize welfare recipients as being hapless victims of circumstance because they see them at the grocery store every week.

Even when they qualify for aid, they sometimes make a point of rejecting it: “I don’t want a government handout,” they say. “I can do this on my own.” Accepting welfare is seen as a character flaw and leads to a serious loss of social standing in the community, according to a study of rural voters in California. Without such standing, you don’t get considered when there’s a job opening.

Bill Clinton understood this kind of thinking, which is why he signed welfare reform in 1996, when he carried such states as West Virginia, Kentucky, Arkansas, Tennessee, Missouri and Louisiana. No Democratic presidential candidate since has won any of those states, and they’re no longer even trying.

Bill famously advised his wife’s campaign to do more to reach out to the WWC, but in what will surely be recalled as one of the defining moments of hubris on Team Hillary, campaign manager Robby Mook replied, “the data run counter to your anecdotes.”

It’s just too perfect that Clinton lost the election in part because she relied on a gay, 36-year-old Ivy League data nerd rather than a two-time winner of a presidential election to show her the path to the White House. If she wants to learn some anecdotes about how to repel people you’re supposed to be wooing, [law professor Joan C. Williams’ new book White Working Class: Overcoming Class Cluelessness in America] is an excellent place to start.

Read the whole thing.

 

FAUSTA WERTZ: A week of pearl-clutching.

The one thing that is clear from the start of the Trump presidency is that the media insists that it owns the narrative, regardless of the emergence of independent media, or whether, in this instance, people don’t care about a career bureaucrat, who, as Byron York points out (emphasis added),

is the FBI director who did not tell the Director of National Intelligence that the FBI had opened a counter-intelligence investigation involving Russia and the 2016 election.

The liberal media (I repeat myself) owned the narrative for so long that they took Hillary’s victory as a given. After the American people went against that narrative, the media will do anything to take Trump down, and will clutch ever-larger pearls, to the detriment of actual news.

Some of those pearls are the size of ice cream scoops.

Read the whole thing.

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.

JAMES LILEKS ON GARRISON KEILLOR’S LATEST COLUMN: “No matter what the topic, his hatred of the right is always waiting in the wings to take the stage like Daffy Duck beating a bass drum and clashing cymbals. Wrap it up with some sonorous booshwa that sounds American — the ribbon of highway, the land that goes on, and new life where a man can still learn things, like the math he couldn’t grasp because a kid in fourth-grade had gas:”

Now the paragraph that gives you the bitter pit at the heart of the old mealy fruit:

At home I try to be kind, but out here, to the disgruntled voter who feels ignored by Washington, I say, “Put away the 12-pack and the three-cheese chips, lose the gut, stop smoking, turn off the TV. Papa is not responsible for your sad life. Go back to school, arise at dawn, take brisk walks, think big, show your kids how it’s done.” That’s me talking at 70 mph.

That’s a man driving in the dark, yelling at farmhouses and angry about wasabi potato chips. You wonder if he had to invent a fictional place full of curious Lutherans because the actual residents of such a place were a constant disappointment.

Read the whole thing. But no need to wonder — that’s exactly what Keillor believes, as quoted in his New York Times profile last year, when he retired from NPR at age 73:

Curiously, Mr. Keillor has always found it difficult spending so much time with the strong, good-looking, above average people of Lake Wobegon, which he based on his relatives, past and present.

In “The Keillor Reader” (2014), he complained bitterly about “their industriousness, their infernal humility, their schoolmarmish sincerity, their earnest interest in you, their clichés falling like clockwork — it can be tiring to be around.”

Speaking on his porch, Mr. Keillor said of Lake Wobegonians, i.e., his relatives, “I am frustrated by them in real life.” They were too controlled by good manners, he said, and “have a very hard time breaking through.”

So why devote so much of his professional life ruminating about them? “It’s the people I think I know,” he replied.

Will he miss them, and the weekly jolt of the show?

“No,” he replied. “No.”

Something tells me the feeling is mutual. Or as Paul Johnson wrote in Intellectuals, “Disregard for truth and the preference for ideas over people marks the true secular individual.”

USA TODAY: James Comey’s Firing Was Inevitable:

How the mighty have fallen. In March, Comey was hailed as “the most powerful person in Washington.” But those who are tagged “most powerful” have a funny way of quickly being shown up, particularly when they serve at the pleasure of the president. In Comey’s case, his power supposedly was based on his ongoing investigation into Russian influence on the 2016 presidential election, an investigation which has turned up nothing of great importance, certainly nothing to substantiate charges of Russia “hacking the election.”

In fact, Comey had been a dead man walking for some time. He was a director without a constituency. He had tried to strike a balance in a sharply divided political environment and wound up alienating both sides. He had to go.

Democrats blame him for Hillary Clinton’s election loss. Just last week Hillary Clinton said if the election were held October 27 she would be the president – that is, the day before Comey’s dramatic note to Congress that he had reopened the FBI’s investigation into her alleged mishandling of classified information through her bootleg email server.

Then two days before the election Comey said “never mind.” The Bureau had hastily reviewed the 49,000 potentially relevant emails it had found on a laptop owned by disgraced former Congressman Anthony Weiner, and nothing there changed its conclusions from the previous July when he had called out Mrs. Clinton for lying but did not recommend prosecution.

Whether this rollercoaster ride had an impact on the election is one question, but Comey’s seemingly erratic behavior so close to an election was quite another. I was at a meeting with some senior members of the law enforcement community when Comey backed off the investigation and they expressed utter bewilderment at what he was doing. It went beyond how this would affect Comey’s career or his reputation; he was potentially tarnishing the Bureau itself. And for all this Comey said he had no regrets.

Read the whole thing.

NOTHING TO CELEBRATE: A Hundred Years of Communism.

Stalin killed so many people in the Great Purge that it is remarkable that anyone was left to do the killing. Former comrades, artists and intellectuals, military officers, clergymen, dissidents, outcasts and normal Russian men and women were slaughtered in a tidal wave of blood. What is striking is not just who Stalin killed but who he spared. While hundreds of thousands of innocents were massacred, Lavrentiy Beria, who was not just a bloody killer but a known rapist, received generous promotion. [“If only Comrade Stalin knew!” -ed.]

Having carved up Eastern Europe with Adolf Hitler, and oppressed its beleaguered inhabitants with such atrocities as the Katyn massacre, where 22,000 men from the Polish officer corps and intelligensia were shot in cold blood, Stalin was himself subjected to invasion. The Red Army fought with startling courage and conviction to prevail, but as the West looked on they became embarrassed. A storm of rape and murder followed the Soviets, carried out by callous and vengeful soldiers. The Nazis in Eastern Europe were replaced with cruel and subservient Stalinist officials. Bierut in Poland, Hoxha in Albania, Rákosi in Hungary and Gottwald in Czechoslovakia kept their people mired in poverty and persecution.

The Soviets inspired others. Mao took power in China and launched a sweeping campaign of modernisation that left millions of expendable victims starved or killed. Juche arose in North Korea, wrapping itself around the country in a chokehold that has persisted to the present day. Pol Pot butchered almost a quarter of Cambodians. Mariam mass-murdered in Ethiopia. Perhaps the most successful of the communist states was Cuba, where, at least, there was not large-scale killing or famine.

Read the whole thing.

(Hat tip, Will Collier.)

TUNE IN: NatGeo’s First Scripted Series Is ‘Genius’

Einstein’s romanticism doesn’t begin and end in the bedroom. Unlike most men of his generation, he is depicted as a soft-hearted Renaissance man who pursues his intellectual interests like lovers. Tight scriptwriting contrasts scenes of him professing his love for his secretary with impassioned lectures about the science of light waves delivered to eager students. Contrary to the portrayals of nerdy, emotionally-stunted scientists in popular shows like Big Bang and Scorpion, Genius’s Einstein exudes the kind of emotion normally reserved in our culture for figures like Shakespeare or Braveheart.

This twist should inspire some serious discussion about how men, specifically intelligent men, are portrayed in the media. Much has been made of the pressures put on boys to stuff their emotions in order to appear more masculine. Still more has been made of pushing girls into scientific professions, often at the expense of boys’ academic growth in the classroom. In the midst of this milieu arrives Einstein as a historical example of a man who can be both incredibly intellectual and deeply in touch with his emotional side. It’s a refreshing change of which parents should take note.

Read the whole thing, which makes the show seem like a refreshing change from National Geographic’s usual leftwing pablum.

I’m adding this one to the lineup for my sons.

HOW GAWKER-AFFILIATED DEADSPIN MADE ESPN POLITICALLY CORRECT AND ‘A MASSIVE SYMBOL OF EVERYTHING THAT FUELED TRUMP’S BID FOR THE PRESIDENCY:’

“The old-school viewers were put in a corner and not appreciated with all these other changes,” veteran ESPN anchor Linda Cohn said during an April radio interview when asked if ESPN’s liberal bent hurt the network. “If anyone wants to ignore that fact, then they’re blind.”

Rather than sue Mr. Denton’s bullying internet pirates into submission the way tech billionaire Peter Thiel did, ESPN chose to acquiesce and adopt progressive ideology and diversity as groundbreaking business innovations. ESPN is the exact network Deadspin desired. It’s diverse on its surface, progressive in its point of view, and more concerned with spinning media narratives than with the quality of its product.

The channel has become too handcuffed by politics to protect its most experienced and loyal employees. It’s a massive symbol of everything that fueled Donald Trump’s bid for the presidency.

ESPN NFL reporter Ed Werder, one of the most prominent faces among the layoffs last month, said in a podcast that he heard quality of work would not be a consideration when employees were let go. He lamented that “it seemed to me that quality work should be the only consideration.” Not in this America, the one ruled by social-media perception and dismissive of the real world.

Read the whole thing.

JONAH GOLDBERG: The Dangers of Empathy.

Empathy is different than sympathy or compassion. Sympathy is when you feel sorry for someone. Compassion is when you do something about it.

But empathy is something else. Researchers studying the brain can actually see how the various centers controlling certain feelings light up when we observe or imagine the experiences of others. “If you feel bad for someone who is bored, that’s sympathy,” writes Yale psychologist Paul Bloom in his brave and brilliant new book, Against Empathy: The Case for Rational Compassion, “but if you feel bored, that’s empathy.”

Bloom, a liberal transplant from Canada, distrusts empathy because empathy is like a drug. It distorts our perspective, causing us to get all worked up about an individual or group. He compares it to a spotlight that illuminates a specific person or group, plunging everything and everyone else into darkness.

And:

Which brings me back to Jimmy Kimmel. His story about his son aroused a riot of empathy across the nation. And he used that response to make an argument about health-care policy that was largely devoid of any consideration of the facts, trade-offs, or costs of what is the best way to deal with people, including babies, who have pre-existing medical conditions.

Read the whole thing.

ROGER SIMON ON COLBERT, TRUMP, AND THE ROOTS OF LIBERAL/PROGRESSIVE RAGE:

If Marx has been upended, so has Arthur C. Clarke.  No more Childhood’s End.  In 2017 America, it’s Adulthood’s End. 

Don’t believe me?  Here’s just one name as an example — Madonna (not the original one, the one that “thinks about” burning  down the White House).

After Monday night we can add another:  Stephen Colbert.

Read the whole thing.

“IF YOU CAN’T BEAT IT, EAT IT.” Maryland’s Grossest Invasive Fish Has a New Predator: High-End Chefs.

When hundreds of mostly juvenile snakeheads turned up in a pond in Crofton, Md., in 2002, the progeny of discarded pets dumped by one owner, the government poisoned the pond. Two years later, when an angler caught a snakehead in a lake 25 miles west, Maryland drained the lake.

But soon snakeheads were spotted in the Potomac River, which divides Maryland and Virginia as it flows to the Chesapeake Bay. Poisoning and draining weren’t an option. Since then, Maryland has adopted a different tack: If you want to beat it, eat it.

The state sponsored snakehead-fishing tournaments and now sells $15 commercial licenses aimed at those who snag the hard-to-catch fish with a bow and arrow. The Potomac’s commercial harvest, sold to restaurants and wholesalers, has risen from almost zero in 2011 to 4,320 pounds in 2016.

“What better way to try to wipe something out than to get humans involved with it and create demand?” said Chad Wells, corporate chef for the group that owns Victoria Gastro Pub in Columbia.

Indeed. But serving up invasive species is nothing new to Instapundit readers.

CONRAD BLACK: Make-or-Break Moment At Hand for America Over Economic Growth.

GDP growth declined from 4.5% annually in the last six Reagan years, to 3.9% in the last six Clinton years (as the current-account deficit and the housing bubble ballooned), to 2% in the George W. Bush years, to 1% in the Obama years. If per capita GDP had increased in the first 15 years of this new century as it had in the years between 1945 and 2000, families and individuals in the United States would be 20 percent wealthier than they are. In the Reagan years, the federal debt increased to 50% of GDP from 40%. That debt declined a little in the Clinton years, but, in this century, even as a percentage of GDP, it has more than doubled.

These are extremely dangerous trends. The average American is aware of a 15-year flat-lined income in terms of buying power, and the absence of job security despite an official level of unemployment of a very acceptable 4.7%. Most would know, from their own experiences or acquaintances, that the labor force has shrunk, in fact by 15 million people.

There are now over 20 million Americans of prime employment age (25 to 54) who have dropped out and are sustained by the benefit system, especially Medicaid-supplied painkillers, food stamps, and activities that generally escape official compilation. Many of these are among the 750,000 people released each year by the bloated and corrupt prison system, which does all it can to demotivate, stigmatize, and render unemployable those released — and make more likely the return to its embrace. The system in any case always imprisons at least as many new convicts each year.

If the Trump administration does not get a tax bill through that rekindles economic expansion, the entire American project is going to face its greatest crisis since Roosevelt came in to grapple with the Great Depression.

Read the whole thing.

SALENA ZITO INTERVIEWS PRESIDENT TRUMP: ‘You make a mistake here, there is nothing to work out.’

Over the next 40 minutes, he jumps, in classic Trump fashion, over a range of topics, from his relations with foreign leaders to the danger of North Korea, from the election last year to his hopes for America tomorrow.

Yet listen closely, especially when he speaks about decisions involving life and death, and you sense that sitting here, in the Oval Office, as the 45th president has humbled even Donald J. Trump.

“You can make a mistake in deals, and you work it out,” he explains at one point. “You make a mistake here, there is nothing to work out. You know it’s trouble. It could be big trouble. And it is life-threatening trouble for lots of people, potentially.”

A portrait of Thomas Jefferson hangs to his right, one of Andrew Jackson, perhaps his favorite president, is to his left. A bust of a sober-looking Abraham Lincoln sits beneath Jefferson, while Trump’s father smiles broadly from a black-and-white photo behind the Resolute Desk, given by Queen Victoria in 1880 to Rutherford B. Hayes and used by many presidents since.

“It’s a very intensive process,” he says of the presidency. “Really intense. I get up to bed late and I get up early.” He rarely sleeps more than four hours, which is good, he explains, because he can call leaders around the world in the dark hours while the rest of Washington sleeps.

“When I was doing many real estate deals at one time, I always thought that was going to be more comprehensive and lengthier than a day like this.

“It’s not.”

So far into his presidency, as with so many modern-era presidents before him, much of his focus has been on challenges from abroad.

Read the whole thing.

HE’S ACCOMPLISHED MUCH FOR THE GOP: The First 117 Days of Chuck Schumer.

Schumer is no dummy when it comes to reading polls and he knows that being labeled a Democrat these days isn’t what it used to be. In fact, recent Gallup tracking of party identification found just 28 percent of Americans identify as Democrats, down 11 points since Barack Obama was elected president.

In a move that can only be described as savvy, Schumer, responding to this polling, has turned over representation of the party to Sen. Bernie Sanders, who by his own admission is not actually a Democrat. Sanders is traveling the country with national party chairman Tom Perez, holding rallies and doing media interviews in which they openly fight about what policies Democrats actually stand for. CNN charitably called the tour “bumpy.”

Schumer is nothing if not responsive. With 40 percent of registered voters in a recent Harvard-Harris poll saying the party has no leader, turning the thing over to people who aren’t actually Democrats is probably the right tactical move.

Heh.

Read the whole thing.

GEORGE SOROS, INTERNATIONAL MAN OF MYSTERY: “In Hungary, It’s a Duel to the Death between the P.M. and ‘Dr. Evil,’” Michael Walsh writes, advising, “Keep an eye on Budapest — what happens there will ripple westward. The whole world will soon be watching.”

Read the whole thing.

BEN DOMENECH: Bill Nye and the Politics of Grievance.

When I was much younger, my siblings and I would routinely tune in to watch Bill Nye the Science Guy on PBS. He was a fascinating instructor bent on helping kids achieve a basic understanding of science. When he engaged in politics, it was only very briefly if at all. He has recently returned to Netflix to, as so many of their products attempt, play on the nostalgia of older Millennials. Sadly, he spends most of his new Netflix show yelling at the audience. He also collaborated with Rachel Bloom on this bizarre video on transgenderism which has nothing to do with science, and is as cringeworthy a thing as you will see all year. The whole thing manages to be unfunny, tone-deaf, and hectoring – it mangles the real issues involved and disrespects the audience at the same time.

This isn’t about persecution – it’s disrespect. And the fundamental basis of healthy politics is respect. Real persecution is only a small part of what conservatives object to about the current state of the campus or the public square – the occasional group that is shut down, the florist or cake baker whose livelihood is threatened, the religious group that is berated into breaking their faith – these are the exceptions. The overall issue is a disrespect that now views words as weapons, fueled by an academic culture which has transferred the language of PTSD to simple day-to-day existence.

Read the whole thing.

UPDATE (FROM GLENN): On Twitter:

ROSS DOUTHAT: Crime And Different Punishments:

Bring back the stocks and the firing squad.

The tendency in modern criminal justice has been to remove two specific elements from the state’s justice: spectacle and pain. During the 19th and early 20th centuries, pillories and stocks and whipping posts became museum pieces, the hangman and the firing squad were supplanted by more technical methods, and punishment became something that happened elsewhere — in distant prisons and execution chambers, under professional supervision, far from the baying crowd.

All of this made a certain moral sense. But the civilizing process did not do away with cruelty and in some ways it could exacerbate it. With executions, the science was often inexact and the application difficult, and when it went wrong the electric chair or the gas chamber could easily become a distinctive kind of torture. During the last century lethal injection, now the execution method of choice, had a higher “botch rate” by far than every other means of killing the condemned. Meanwhile, the lowest rate of failure (albeit out of a small sample size) belonged to that old standby: the firing squad. . . .

It is not clear that this method of dealing with crime succeeds at avoiding cruel and unusual punishment so much as it avoids making anyone outside the prison system see it. Nor is it clear that a different system, with a sometimes more old-fashioned set of penalties, would necessarily be more inhumane.

Read the whole thing. Or read this article by Peter Salib, which argues for punishments other than imprisonment.

JAMES POULOS: The trouble with Emmanuel Macron.

Yes, fellow Americans, this is how bad it’s gotten abroad: Squeaking out a first-round win by symbolizing a future of niceness now strikes the status-quo-ites as the beginning of a world made new.

The reality is considerably grimmer. How dire it was, throughout the French campaign, to watch centrists left and right insist that only they could beat back the forces of “extremism,” that catchall term which has served the West so poorly in organizing its resources against foes foreign and domestic. The continued rise of populist, nationalist, and, yes, even communist parties in Europe has shown just how extreme a reaction established neoliberalism has provoked in its failings to date — inadequate, costly efforts, by turns ham-handed, shambolic, and impotent, to manage everything from the Eurozone crisis to the immigration debacle.

Yes, it’s all been a tall order; yes, the ruling (or is it managing?) classes should have seen it coming. And yes: However well-intentioned and authentic the likes of Macron and Co., who probably grasp how truly bad it can get in Europe, their ilk are still locked into policies guaranteed to further aggravate political extremism left, right, and Islamic. They think their political stalemate with Le Pen and her fellow travelers is a victory. Really, it spells a fiercer culture war.

Read the whole thing.

ROGER KIMBALL ON TRUMP VS. OBAMA: A STUDY IN CONTRASTS:

As we approach Trump’s hundredth day in office, however, I am happy to say that I sense a change in the anti-Trump dynamic. The anti-Trump venom is as widespread and hysterical as ever. But as the days go by and Trump governs not as Hitler but as a deliberate executive, toting up victories here, setbacks there, rain checks and extenuations and opportunities, more and more people will say, “This guys is the real deal. He gets things done. He delivers on his promises. He really is making America great again.” The effect of that sentiment will be to marginalize the mainstream media.  If you want a vivid example of exactly how that is done, contemplate what’s about to happen next Saturday when Trump skips the White House correspondents’ dinner and holds a big rally in Pennsylvania instead. I’m sure there will be lots of snide remarks, anti-Trump jokes, and the air will be thick with contemptuous self-satisfaction.  What might not be obvious to the attendees, but what will be blindingly obvious to the rest of us, is that no one who is not crowded into that fetid atmosphere will care. A process of marginalization and emasculation is underway.  If Trump’s second 100 days is as successful as his first 100 days, that process should be essentially complete by the end of the year.

Read the whole thing – and note that in regards to the DNC-MSM’s Trump-as-Hitler meme, as Glenn would say, all is proceeding as Scott Adams has foreseen.

SALENA ZITO: How Trump Voters Feel About His First 100 Days.

And now? “Nothing has changed,” said Rob Hughes, a registered Democrat and retired businessman from Bulger, Pa., who I met on my cross-country trip, told me last week. “Well, that’s probably not entirely true. I think I like him more now that he is the president.”

As I went back to the people on US 30 to ask them how they feel about the man they voted for, Hughes’ sentiment rang true.

Trump’s supporters are unfazed that a new health-care law is not in place (yet), thrilled with the appointment of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, weary of the constant accusations of his ties to Russia, supportive of his strike against Syria for using chemical weapons against its people and dismayed that House Republicans and Democrats are unwilling to compromise. To them, the president remains disruptive, unconventional, defiant and willing to change his mind — appealing attributes to his supporters, but not so to the press. . . .

When I called him recently, Hughes picked up his phone from the gun range. “I could not be more optimistic about the future than I am right now,” he told me. “Honestly, I am still on cloud nine that he won and is our president.”

Why is that? Hughes cites Trump’s unconventional approach to politics, his dismissal of political games and his willingness to compromise to get things done: “I am thrilled he has an open dialogue with China, not just on foreign affairs but on trade issues as well, and I am very pleased about how he responded to the atrocities in Syria.”

Estel, 77, who had just finished mowing 10 acres of farmland when we spoke last week, is also “very pleased” with President Trump so far: “I am very concerned about the fragile state of the world right now, but that was not of his doing. That has been decades in the making.”

Read the whole thing.

ANOTHER GREAT MOMENT IN AIRLINE SERVICE: FLIGHT DECK FIGHTS. Ed Morrissey on yesterday’s incident on an American Airlines flight from SFO to DFW: “Finally, perhaps it’s time for the major airlines to consider what their industry is doing to both its customers and its employees. Their commercials depict flying as a serene, relaxing jaunt, but that’s increasingly a bitterly comedic satire on the actual experienceCommercial air travel has become more and more uncomfortable and tense. Both passengers and crews feel increasing pressure from packed flights with smaller spaces, and the security measures from TSA only exacerbate the poisonous environment. Passengers and employees are beginning to snap, and the ubiquitous nature of smartphones guarantees that every incident will go viral — because their customers don’t like them. They just have very little choice in airlines. Until the industry rethinks its direction, this will be the new normal, and executives will get a lot of practice at apologizing and minimizing.”

Read the whole thing.

Related: “American Airlines flight attendant suspended after stroller incident on plane,” Reuters reports.

DISPATCHES FROM THE EDUCATION APOCALYPSE: Rod Dreher on Middlebury’s Obscene Cowardice:

This capitulation to the ideological thugs who attacked [Charles] Murray and others on Middlebury’s campus deserves wide denunciation. A professor from the man’s own department was physically assaulted by these goons, and sent to the hospital — and nobody has been held accountable for any of this by Middlebury. As a scholar and as an American, Bert Johnson, the poli sci department head, should be ashamed of himself. He has shown himself to be a lickspittle to the campus left, and will be treated exactly that way by the radicals he is helping to empower.

Read the whole thing. As Princeton’s Robert P. George asked last night on Twitter, “Do you recall the Maoist ‘struggle sessions’ in which Chinese intellectuals were shamed and forced to confess errors?” But in Communist China, power flowed directly from the barrel of Mao’s gun. The staff at Middlebury capitulated to the mob voluntarily.

The Red Guard parades an official through a Peking street and force him to wear a dunce cap as a mark of public shame on Jan. 25, 1967; photo obtained from Japanese sources in Tokyo. (AP)

VIDEO: RECORDING, 1950s STYLE:

As “Yep,” the recording engineer/producer who wrote the bulk of the posts of the legendary “Why Do Your Recordings Sound Like Ass” thread at the Cockos Reaper DAW forum noted in 2008:

The explosion in prices for “vintage” and “boutique” gear was not driven by professional studios. Even before the home-studio boom, the arrival of cheap, high quality digital and better broadcast technologies made a whole lot of local recording and broadcast studios redundant. There was a small increase in inexpensive project studios, fueled by the rise of punk, hip-hop, and “indie” music, but for the most part, the emergence of the ADAT and Mackie mixers spelled the beginning of the end for mid-market commercial recording studios, and began to turn broadcast studios into cheap, commodity workplaces devoid of the old-school audio “engineers” (who actually wore lab coats in the old days of calibrating cutting lathes and using oscilloscopes to measure DC offset and so on).

The irony is that the explosion of cheap, high-quality digital fostered a massive cottage industry of extremely small home and project studios, that rapidly began to develop a keen interest in high-end studio gear. Even as broadcast and small commercial jingle studios and local TV stations (of which there were a LOT, back then) were dumping their clunky mixing consoles and old-fashioned ribbon mics and so on, there was a massive rise in layperson interest in high-end studio gear. As the price of entry has gotten lower and lower, interest in and demand for truly “pro quality” sound has increased exponentially, and superstition and reverential awe has grown up around anything that pre-exists the digital age.

Dean Amos, the owner of the studio located in Wickford, Essex, UK, in the above new Sound on Sound magazine video has taken that love of vintage tube-based gear and ‘50s-era ribbon microphones to its logical conclusion; he’s recreated the sort of studio that Elvis or Buddy Holly would have recorded in, around 1957 or so, right down to a three track reel-to-reel recorder. But unless you’ve got live performance chops in the neighborhood of either of those two artists, the mixture of vintage mics, pre-amps and compressors with modern-day editing and pitch correction software is likely to yield far better results. But it’s still an incredibly cool looking – and sounding – studio.

REVEALED: Richard Spencer’s Racist Little Secret.

Following the donnybrook that happened in Berkeley, Calif., last week, every media outlet prepared for another showdown between his supposed legion of neofascists and students opposed to his nonsense. I even went to bear witness to the expected tumult.

After his appearance, headlines everywhere documented the thousands of protesters, the brief skirmishes and the First Amendment legal battle that paved the way for his speech. There is one thing they all failed to mention about the brouhaha that ensued:

No one really cared.

That’s right. The whole “celebrity founder of a nationwide ‘alt-right’ movement” narrative is a scam. Richard Spencer is simply an overhyped, racist, Kardashian-like curiosity. He is a media-driven drama queen starring in a reality show that no one cares to watch. He has very few fans and almost no devotees. Richard Spencer is a hoax.

Indeed.

Read the whole thing.

(Hat tip, proud Auburn alum Will Collier.)

ZOMBIE ON THE BATTLE FOR BERKELEY: “Antifa got their asses kicked, and were literally driven from the park and fled. Ooooooh, dearest me, right-wingers threw punches! Let us clutch our pearls! But that’s the point. People’s patience was used up. Saturday’s punches were in response to YEARS of being punched and not being allowed to fight back.”

Read the whole thing.

As David French writes at NRO in “The Battle of Berkley:”

We are now teetering on the edge of a truly terrifying incident, one trigger-pull away from a slaughter. Campus and urban progressives have a choice to make. Is this a nation of laws? If it is, then it’s time to grow a backbone, protect free speech, punish rioters, and expel those who disrupt the educational environment regardless of ideology. There should be no more sympathy or leniency for the lawless social-justice warrior than there is for the lawless neo-Nazi.

Every single time the progressive establishment ignores, minimizes, or whitewashes leftist violence, it sows the wind. Americans have watched mobs attack police and burn buildings in Baltimore, Ferguson, Charlotte, and Minneapolis. They have watched mobs riot over politics and free speech in Middlebury, Berkeley, Portland, Chicago, and Los Angeles. Is anyone at all shocked that when the police hang back, others will step into the void? Leftists are fond of saying “violence begets violence.” If we don’t restore the rule of law, we’ll all find out just how right they are.

The Tea Party was a peaceful protest made up of plenty of middle-aged men and women who saw themselves called Nazis and racists by the Cathedral for their efforts at reforming Big Government. Trump’s core supporters are made of tougher stock – and they know the DNC-MSM’s narrative is pre-written, no matter what happens. No one can say they’re surprised at this past weekend’s news. (OK, maybe the wedgies, though.)

Earlier: “Funny, you never see these freakouts at trade schools.”

JAY COST: As goes Kansas, so goes …?

It is a dicey proposition to read too much into special elections to the House of Representatives. Turnout tends to be quite low, and local factors can skew results one way or another. That could be especially true in this case. Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback is immensely unpopular in the state, and Mr. Estes, as state treasurer, is naturally linked to his administration.

Still, the results were notable — especially in Topeka, the state capital and the biggest population center in the district. Mr. Trump won Topeka comfortably against Hillary Clinton in 2016, but in the special election, the vote was split more or less down the middle. In many respects, Topeka is your typical Midwestern city. So, to see the Democratic nominee claim half the vote could be a sign of rising voter discontent nationwide.

Or it could just be a fluke. That’s the trouble with special elections.

Still, congressional Republicans would do well to confront the plain fact that, though they have had complete charge of the government, they have no substantive accomplishments to show for their time in power. Worse, they do not even have any big achievements working their way through the pipeline.

Read the whole thing.

My preference would have been for a GOP loss in Kansas last week. The sacrifice of one easy-to-win-back seat would have been worth it, if it had given the House GOP a wakeup call in time to avoid a 2006-style shellacking next year.

SALENA ZITO: A Fragile Hope In Ford Heights.

Nobody ever really moves in here. Nobody ever comes here except to pass on by; you either escape or die.

The only businesses left in the town are one gas station, two liquor stores and a strip club; the strip club, a massive Greek-revival structure, is the largest employer.

Building after building is vacant, litter is everywhere. Businesses are shuttered, modest homes abandoned, and so are a couple of the housing projects.

The community’s connection with hope is fragile.

And the saddest thing is that none of this is new: Ford Heights, located 25 miles from Chicago, has been fighting this battle for decades. In 1987 it was named the poorest black suburb in America.

De-industrialization is color-blind; it doesn’t matter if your town is all white, or predominately black like Ford Heights — when the jobs leave, everyone bleeds red.

A study by the Great Cities Institute at the University of Illinois at Chicago showed, in 2014, that Ford Heights’ jobless rate exceeded 60 percent for 20- to 24-year-olds.

The evidence of prosperity passing by this rural black town is everywhere.

The problems are so numerous, so egregious to polite society’s sensibilities, that polite society just doesn’t come here. Like everything in culture, if you don’t hear about it or see it, walk the streets or step in the peoples’ shoes for a week or a day or even an hour, then it mustn’t really be happening.

Except it is.

Read the whole thing.

CONRAD BLACK: A Secular Good Friday Came Early.

The reaction to the cruise missile attack on Syria has been highly encouraging for President Trump. First, Democrats have generally acknowledged that it was a justified action in response to the brazen atrocity of murdering civilians and particularly children with Sarin gas. Second, it has attracted some criticism from the isolationist right, which makes it harder for the president’s opponents to attack him for being an isolationist. Third, although the Russians were advised to remove their personnel from the target area, it clearly debunks the theory that Trump is in dishonorable cooperation with Russian leader Putin.

Trump has therefore managed to cover all the bases with a simple military exercise that put no Americans at risk.

Read the whole thing.

TERROR IS JUST A WORD FOR THE THINGS THEY CHOOSE TO DO TOGETHER: Iranian Airline’s Ties to Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Boeing announced last week it would sell 30 B737 Max aircraft to Aseman Airlines – a government-owned carrier that is Iran’s third-largest – in a deal valued at around $3 billion. The deal appears to be permitted under the 2015 nuclear agreement, which lifted U.S. sanctions against the Islamic Republic’s aviation sector. There is, however, a problem: Aseman’s CEO, Hossein Alaei, is a decades-long senior member of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, or IRGC, which remains under U.S. sanctions.

Since 1979, Alaei has held senior positions in the IRGC’s military establishment. He joined the Guard shortly after the 1979 Iranian revolution and quickly rose to be commander of IRGC forces in two northwestern provinces. In the 1980s, he commanded the Karbala Garrison in the southern front during the Iran-Iraq War. In 1985, then-Supreme Leader Ruhollah Khomeini appointed him commander of the newly established IRGC Navy. Under his leadership, it began using high-speed boats and mines to target commercial and military vessels during the so-called Tanker War with Iraq.

Like his ideological peers, Alaei openly voiced his desire to confront America. During the Tanker War, the IRGC Navy attacked U.S.-owned commercial vessels and Navy vessels, on one occasion injuring U.S. sailors.

Read the whole thing.

THE HILL: Clinton campaign plagued by bickering.

She’d been humiliated in the Michigan primary the night before, a loss that not only robbed her of a prime opportunity to put Bernie Sanders down for good but also exposed several of her weaknesses. How could she have been left so vulnerable? She knew — or at least she thought she did. The blame belonged to her campaign team, she believed, for failing to hone her message, energize important constituencies and take care of business in getting voters to the polls. And now, Jake Sullivan, her de facto chief strategist, was giving her lip about the last answer she’d delivered in the prep session.

“That’s not very good,” Sullivan corrected.

“Really?” Hillary snapped back.

The room fell silent.

“Why don’t you do it?”

The comment was pointed and sarcastic, but she meant it. So for the next 30 minutes, there he was, pretending to be Hillary while she critiqued his performance.

Every time the Yale lawyer and former high school debate champ opened his mouth, Hillary cut him off. “That isn’t very good,” she’d say. “You can do better.” Then she’d hammer him with a Bernie line.

Read the whole thing.

SCOTT SNYDER AND SUNGTAE PARK: A Menu of Imperfect Strategic Options for South Korea.

One potential option for South Korea is to gradually align with a rising China while loosening its ties with the United States. But this policy relies on the assumption that China will be the next hegemon in Asia.

Given China’s slowing economic growth, internal problems and the fact that it continues to face competition with other regional actors, this outcome is not assured. China also does not share common liberal democratic values with South Korea, and Beijing is highly unlikely to help Seoul in the case of a North Korean attack, or respect South Korean interests. Siding with China would also not inoculate South Korea against losses in the event of rising US–China competition or even military conflict.

Another option is for South Korea to balance against China’s rise, together with the United States and Japan. But this could result in Seoul losing Beijing’s support altogether in dealing with Pyongyang. Moreover, if South Korea were to become the frontline state in a coalition against China, it would bear the brunt of the consequences of a US–China conflict, just as in the Korean War. There is also no knowing whether such balancing against China would succeed, but the price of failing would be costly.

Seoul could instead seek to remain neutral. But when great powers compete, they have incentives to draw a neutral state into their respective coalitions to gain advantage. Without a great power ally, deterring North Korea would also become more difficult.

Read the whole thing.

South Korea is also undergoing a leadership crisis, and voters appear poised to install leftwing presidential candidate Moon Jae-in, who comes with all the expected anti-American baggage.

Our relationship status with Seoul has always been It’s Complicated, but it’s getting more so.