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DEMOCRATS ARE GOING TO HAVE A GOOGLE PROBLEM:

All businesses lobby on behalf of their interests, and in recent years that lobbying has increasingly expanded to include more focus on things like think tanks and other aspects of the “deep” influence game.

Google has been especially an especially aggressive player at deep influence. The Wall Street journal reported in July, for example, that they’ve spent millions of dollars subsidizing academic research that backs Google policy positions, often mapping out the thesis to be proven and then shopping to find the scholar to do the work. Google’s money, not always disclosed, has backed donations to think tanks across the ideological spectrum as well as more prosaic forms of influence peddling like campaign contributions.

What makes Google somewhat unusual for such a big company is that it’s fairly closely aligned with the Democratic Party. Dozens of people moved from jobs at Google to jobs in the Obama administration, and vice versa, over its eight-year span. Schmidt was a major Hillary Clinton donor. More tellingly, Schmidt owns a company called Civis Analytics that does an enormous amount of behind-the-scenes data work for Democratic Party campaigns. This alignment grows out of both cultural affinity between Democrats and Google on social issues, and also years of regulatory struggle that often saw Google, Democrats, and consumer groups on one side pitted against telecommunications industry incumbents.

And for Democratic Party politicians and staffers, the idea of a big, rich, dynamic technology company that favored progressive views on social issues and wanted to put money behind pro-consumer regulatory efforts seemed almost too good to be true.

The specter raised by the European Union’s antitrust fine is that it is, in fact, too good to be true. And that Google, like any other giant company, is going to sometimes find itself in the regulatory crosshairs, throwing its weight around to try to get away with things that maybe shouldn’t be allowed. “Don’t be evil” was a nice idea while it lasted, but business is business and politics is politics — no exceptions.

There’s a huge opportunity for Trump to take a Teddy Roosevelt-like trust-busting stand. Especially since, as Joel Kotkin says:

The Silicon Valley and its Puget Sound annex dominated by Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, and Microsoft increasingly resemble the pre-gas crisis Detroit of the Big Three. Tech’s Big Five all enjoy overwhelming market shares—for example Google controls upwards of 80 percent of global search—and the capital to either acquire or crush any newcomers. They are bringing us a hardly gilded age of prosperity but depressed competition, economic stagnation, and, increasingly, a chilling desire to control the national conversation.

Creepy economic predators. When you think about it that way, it’s not surprising they’re allied with the Democratic Party.

JOEL KOTKIN: Trump Damaged Democracy, Silicon Valley Will Finish It Off: Donald Trump’s rise is, in a sense, just one symptom of the damage the tech oligarchs are doing to America. I think the latter formulation is more accurate.

Plus: “The Silicon Valley and its Puget Sound annex dominated by Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, and Microsoft increasingly resemble the pre-gas crisis Detroit of the Big Three. Tech’s Big Five all enjoy overwhelming market shares—for example Google controls upwards of 80 percent of global search—and the capital to either acquire or crush any newcomers. They are bringing us a hardly gilded age of prosperity but depressed competition, economic stagnation, and, increasingly, a chilling desire to control the national conversation.”

CHANGE: A Mexican Oil Renaissance Could Thaw US Relations.

America’s southern neighbor seemed on the verge of turning a corner three years ago when its then newly-elected president Enrique Peña Nieto began rolling through some much needed reforms for the country, starting with an overhaul of the energy sector. Mexico’s problem was its state-owned oil company, Pemex, which had owned and presided over the country’s oil resources for three-quarters of a century. Inefficiencies grew, as they often do in these state-owned enterprises, so there was plenty of excitement both within and outside of Mexico when Peña Nieto began his privatization push.

Unfortunately, things didn’t start out smoothly. Initial lease auctions produced meager to middling results, and Mexico’s reform-minded president started to feel the pressure of denationalizing the country’s oil reserves—resources with deep cultural significance—without much to show for it. This summer, Mexico’s energy prospects brightened considerably after an international consortium of private companies hit it big with a “world-class” find in a shallow water region in the Gulf of Mexico that they had won the right to explore through a government auction. Premier Oil, Talos Energy, and Sierra Oil & Gas estimate that the Zama field they discovered may contain between 1.4 billion and 2 billion barrels of oil. There were two other encouraging signs for the fledgling privatization movement in Mexico on that very same day: Mexico auctioned off 21 of the 24 offshore oil blocks on offer, while the Italian firm Eni upped its estimates of a March discovery to more than 1 billion barrels. . . .

President Trump has strained the Mexican-American relationship, to put it mildly, but growth in the newly-privatized Mexican oil industry could help bandage those wounds. Plenty of American producers already have experience drilling for crude in the Gulf of Mexico, and can bring that expertise to bear in underutilized offshore Mexican formations. Mexico has shale hydrocarbons, too, so there’s potential for U.S. frackers down south as well. There’s a path forward here that could help everyone in North America win.

Well, good.

BLESS HIS HEART: Tom Brokaw claims he was ‘hacked’ after NewsBusters article shows up on his timeline.

It’s a tweet under Brokaw’s name to the NewsBusters article from Friday headlined, “Newsweek’s Nina Burleigh, Who Offered Bill Clinton Oral Sex, Decries Mrs. Trump’s Degrading High Heels”; Twitchy has the screencap.

Even more so than as with Anthony Weiner’s tireless efforts to fight cybercrime, I’m sure Brokaw will immediately order the entire NBC newsroom — and maybe even the staffers at CNBC and MSNBC — to investigate how one of the best known newsreaders in the country had his twitter feed “hacked” and bring the culprits to justice.

MARK KRIKORIAN: Why Trump Is Right about Immigration.

The RAISE Act would limit family immigration rights to the actual nuclear family: husbands, wives, and little kids of American citizens and legal residents. The current categories for adult siblings, adult sons and daughters, and parents would be retired. U.S. citizens could still bring in their elderly parents in need of caretaking, but only on renewable nonimmigrant visas (no green cards or citizenship) and only after proving that they’ve paid for health insurance up front.

The second major element in this restructuring addresses the employment-based immigration flow. It is now a jumble of categories and subcategories, the main result of which is to provide steady work for immigration lawyers. The Cotton-Perdue bill would rationalize this mess by creating one, streamlined points system, along the lines of similar schemes in Canada and Australia. Points would be awarded to potential candidates based mainly on education, English-language ability and age, and those who meet a certain benchmark would be in the pool for green cards, with the top scorers being selected first.

The bill would also eliminate the egregious Diversity Visa Lottery and cap refugee admissions at fifty thousand per year, rather than allow the president let in as many as he wants, as is the case today.

The level of immigration—now running at over a million a year—would likely drop by 40 percent, and then drop some more over time, as the number of foreign spouses declined. (Most U.S. citizens marrying foreigners are earlier immigrants, so as they age, and fewer new immigrants come in behind them, the demand for spousal immigration is likely to fall.) That would still mean annual permanent immigration of 500,000–600,000 a year, which is more than any other nation.

None of this seems unduly harsh, or really anything less than perfectly sensible — naturally then, anyone supporting the bill is “literally Hitler.”

ISRAEL EVALUATES ITS READINESS FOR WAR: Hamas and Hezbollah are the daily challenges, but Iran is the big threat. By the way, Iran still wants nukes.

The Iranian regime has not given up its strategic objective of obtaining nuclear weapons. The sunset clauses on the nuclear deal will lift key restrictions over the next eight to thirteen years. Assuming the hard-line Shiite ideological-religious camp and the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) continue to control Iran’s foreign and military policies, the Islamic Republic will be able restart its nuclear program at the end of the sunset clauses (if it does not cheat and breach the agreement beforehand).

Iran could begin enriching uranium again (using improved techniques it is currently researching) to bring it to nuclear breakout, and could try to reach that point at a time of its choosing. Its missile program is already developing. This means Israel could find itself in a state-to-state conflict in the not too distant future.

Additionally, Arab Sunni states threatened by Iran have launched civil nuclear programs of their own. These could turn out to be the initial stages of military nuclear programs, designed to counter Iran’s nuclear shadow.

More evidence that Obama’s Iran deal was a very bad deal.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CAN THE PRESIDENT PARDON HIMSELF? YES HE CAN! Mark Tushnet has it right.

The president’s constitutional power to pardon “offenses against the United States” is limited only by excluding “cases of Impeachment.” A self-pardon for ordinary criminal offenses does not fall within that exception, on my understanding.

A self-pardon might well be outrageously improper (unless there was the prospect of charges brought by a rogue prosecutor, whom, for some reason, the president could not control by firing him or her), but the response the Constitution creates for such misconduct is impeachment, a political rather than criminal remedy.

I think that Congress could impose some procedural rules on pardons under its Necessary and Proper Clause powers, but the power itself is plenary.

And for those saying that this is a sign of how far we’ve fallen, well, yes, but not necessarily the way they mean. People were talking about impeaching Trump before the election results were official. That fact tells us less about Trump than about the people who hate him.

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

Related: Thomas Frank: The media’s war on Trump is destined to fail. Why can’t it see that? “Everything they do, they do as a herd – even when it’s running headlong over a cliff. . . . It happens because so many of them are part of the same class – an exalted and privileged class. They are professionals and they believe in the things that so many other professional groups believe in: consensus, ‘realism,’ credentialing, the wisdom of their fellow professionals and (of course) the stupidity of the laity. This is the key to understanding many of their biases – and also for understanding why they are so utterly oblivious to how they appear to the rest of America.”

Plus: Mueller and Trump Prepare for War with America the Loser.

Watergate ended with a whimper, not a bang. After months of sturm und drang, Richard Nixon finally mounted that helicopter, gave that famous farewell peace sign and flew away. Most Americans were relieved to see him go. Our long national nightmare was over.

If something similar happens to Donald Trump, it will be entirely different. A significant portion of the American public — myself admittedly among them — will be convinced he has been railroaded in a partisan hatchet job. The voters who elected the president are going to feel, at the very least, undermined, more likely betrayed, by their own government and public officials. Many are going to feel this has nothing to do whatsoever with justice and will act accordingly.

The exact results of this mammoth national split are not easy to predict but they could range from massive civil disobedience to outright civil war.

Our political class, oblivious to this — see above — is playing with fire, but it is too foolish and self-obsessed to realize it.

BACKLASH: RIGHT WING TWITTER BEGINS DIGGING FOR DIRT ON CNN EMPLOYEES. “This is not the world I want to live in,” one of Ace of Spades’ co-bloggers writes, and I concur. “When I first saw that they’d embarrassed this guy, I laughed. I thought he was an on-air personality and at least a minor political player. After I realized he was just an editor, I cringed a little. I can’t bring myself to endorse it, but neither can I condemn it. This is what they’ve done to time and time again us and they won’t stop. What alternative is there?… This is only the beginning of an ever-growing pushback, one that’s only going to get nastier and more ugly. And everything that happens is on them. This is the rotten, worm infested harvest they have sown and they’re going to be choking on it for some time to come.”

As Ace himself warned the media last November, a week after Trump won, this backlash was coming. “You dominate this culture. You made the rules. You now get to live in the savage world you made brick-by-brick, media…The media loves to ride the tiger of Mob Hatred when that tiger is devouring a plebeian. Well, sometimes the tiger bucks, old chaps.”

Related: Regarding their actual news coverage, or the lack thereof, “Our Corrupt Media Is Now Haunted By All The Precedents They Set While Colluding With Obama.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SEE, THIS IS WHY CNN SHOULDN’T HAVE THREATENED TO DOX “HAN ASSHOLESOLO.” “How a Montana mom became the target of a neo-Nazi troll,” reports CNN. A Colorado real estate agent named Tanya Gersh was bombarded with threatening emails and phone calls, “after contacting tenants of a local building:”

Gersh says she was then called by the building’s owner, Sherry Spencer, the mother of white supremacist Richard Spencer.

Gersh says she warned Sherry Spencer about looming protests at the building in Whitefish, a Montana town of 7,300 where both women live.

Gersh says she advised Spencer to disavow the views of her son, including that the United States is a country for white people.

She says she offered to sell Spencer’s property as a way of defusing tensions in town. Gersh suggested Spencer donate money to a human rights group.

Sherry Spencer refused to speak to CNN when we reached her on the phone. Earlier, she wrote in a blog post that Gersh, a Realtor, had threatened her, saying protesters and media would turn up and drive down the building’s value if she didn’t sell.

That’s when, according to CNN, “DailyStormer.com, which spews neo-Nazi propaganda” went into full-on #hastanyalandedyet mode:

Andrew Anglin, the site’s founder, accused Gersh of extortion in a blog post. And he exhorted readers to send Gersh — whom he also identified as Jewish — enough messages to make a point.

“Let’s hit ’em up,” he posted. “Are y’all ready for an old-fashioned Troll Storm?”

He then told them: “(I)t’s that time.”

Obligatory reminder: it is never that time. And it shouldn’t be for CNN either, which makes their putting their mafia-like warning that “CNN reserves the right to publish his identity should any of that change” into their piece on the now infamous “Han Asshole Solo” all the more abhorrent.

“Now, before we move on, someone is going to point out that the meme guy is kind of a jerk and said stuff that offends decent people,” as Kurt Schlichter wrote last week. “So? How is that the point? This is a multi-billion dollar media corporation using all its power to threaten an individual into not criticizing it. How is that ever okay? And don’t pretend for a minute this media extortion precedent gets limited to outlier Reddit guys. Normal Americans are next.”

But normal Americans have already gotten the full troll storm from the left. Just ask the owners of Indiana’s Memories Pizza, who had the mob from a 1930s Universal Frankenstein movie dropped onto them as a result of badthink in response to a hypothetical question by a local journalist. Or Elizabeth Lauten, the low-level Republican staffer who had the temerity to write on her Facebook page that Obama’s daughters should “try showing a little class. At least respect the part you play,” and ultimately quit her job, after social media was whipped into a frenzy by the DNC-MSM (including, of course, CNN):

Lauten apologized for her remarks last Friday, but the backlash continued to grow. She later made her apology statement “private” on Facebook after threatening messages were posted in the comments section.

Both ABC’s Good Morning America and NBC’s Today show devoted segments to the controversy on Sunday and Monday, according to Newsbusters. Meanwhile, the Smoking Gun reported that Lauten had been arrested for shoplifting when she was 17 years old, and photos of her drinking beer were posted on Twitter with the caption “Yes America. This is the person who told Sasha and Malia to have some class.”

Lauten has also allegedly received threatening phone calls. On Twitter, dozens of users called for her to “die,” “choke,” and “kill yourself.”

Or Justine Sacco, which brings us back to last week’s threatened doxxing by CNN:

This isn’t [senior CNN editor Andrew] Kaczynski’s first attempt at destroying a private citizen’s life. As a BuzzFeed reporter, he gained notoriety for publicizing a lame joke Tweeted by a 30-year-old PR director named Justine Sacco. As Sacco was boarding a plane from London to Cape Town, South Africa, she poked fun at many people’s poor understanding of the continent. Kaczynski decided the joke was racist and helped gin up a digital lynch mob while she was in the air for 11 hours sans internet. By the time Sacco landed, she was mobbed by reporters, was fired from her job, and had to go into hiding. [Update: Another link demonstrating Kaczynski’s role is here.]

If it’s wrong for an alt-right group to combine doxxing with intimidation – and it is – it’s also wrong for CNN to threaten the same tactics, knowing full well, as Kaczynski does, that outing Mr. AssholeSolo will send up the Batsignal for the Twitter mobs. Or as CNN contributor Mary Katharine Ham wrote yesterday at the Federalist,Going To The Mats For Free Speech Sometimes Means Letting Trolls Go Unpunished:”

HanA**holeSolo isn’t some great modern-day pamphleteer whom we should ensure at all costs can keep delivering us (and the president) hot memes from his den of racist sh*tposters. He’s not, and the fact that the White House finds inspiration in these corners of the Internet is newsworthy. Some of his other creations, including a a composite with Stars of David next to the Jewish CNN employees, are truly disgusting.

But media should be very careful about when they expose private citizens for the sin of political speech. They should be especially careful not to imply that content of political speech that crosses a big media entity is the reason for exposure. The media don’t owe every troll on the Internet his or her anonymity, but doing disproportionate warfare with them can endanger and chill the speech of others.

As Vox’s German Lopez put it simply, “The Internet is not proportional.”

“The problem here is that the internet is not proportional. People wouldn’t merely react to this guy making some offensive remarks on the internet by making some offensive remarks to him. They would react as the internet has reacted before to these kinds of situations — with potentially thousands of hateful messages, death threats, attempts to get him fired, and harassment not just against him but also his family. Lines would quickly be crossed.”

And it’s not just the Internet that’s not proportional. Media has shown an inability to gauge its coverage of the online speech of private citizens.

Bravo for CNN for reporting on Tanya Gersh – but their reasons for doing so appear to be more than a little self-serving. And in threatening “HanA**holeSolo” with doxxing – and with it, the implicit threat that they would the sturm und drang of social media down upon his life, they are yet the latest reminder that the left shouldn’t be surprised when the alt-right adopts the odious tactics they themselves popularized.

PORTLAND’S ANTIFA MOVEMENT IS SPIRALING OUT OF CONTROL:

For antifa, it’s not enough to simply outscream their opposition; rather, those far-right forces must, in a bizarre nod to the Bush Doctrine, be preemptively denied a voice from the outset. “We are unapologetic about the reality that fighting fascism at points requires physical militancy,” Rose City Antifa’s Facebook page reads

Shortly after Trump’s election, anarchist and far-left protesters rioted in Portland, bringing at least a million dollars’ worth of damage—and resulting, in the eyes of the Department of Homeland Security, in “domestic terrorism.” Further riots followed Trump’s inauguration, and more in the months thereafter. “Their actions—conducted anonymously but brutally—show them to be punk fascists,” wrote an editorial in The Oregonian, slamming those leading the greatest political violence Portland had seen in a generation.

“You really have to see it to appreciate how out of control some of the protesters were,” John Sexton adds to the above Politico article, at Hot Air. Scroll to about the 3:15 minute mark, where a masked, mostly peaceful™ protestor kicks in a Target department store window and then attempts to throw a flair into the store, followed immediately after by the mostly peaceful destruction of a Portland police car, including breaking its windows and slashing its tires:

That was the Portland May Day protest. But fear not, Portland residents – the city’s Democrat mayor is not taking the months of violence lying down:

Still have questions about Portland police tactics during the June 4 protester standoff? So does Mayor Ted Wheeler.

Wheeler today sent a letter to Portland Police Chief Mike Marshman that asks five detailed questions about the methods police used to drive left-wing protesters from Chapman Square and detain them in downtown streets.

Wheeler’s questions cover much of the same ground as a June 6 WW story that summarized a persistent complaint from the Sunday protests: that Portland police cracked down too aggressively on local antifascists and anarchists.

The mayor’s letter is especially interesting because its asks the bureau to defend not only its June 4 actions but explain its guiding policy on how it responds to political protests. Wheeler asks why police arrive at rallies in riot gear, and what grounds the bureau uses for deploying crowd-control weapons like stun grenades and rubber bullets. (Both were used on June 4.)

“I have heard from people who claim they were protesting peacefully and following instructions, but nevertheless were affected by the use of crowd control devices,” the mayor writes. “What steps are taken to minimize the use of crowd control devices? What steps are taken to attempt to ensure that when they are used those protesting peacefully and following instructions are not affected?”

As CBS reported in 2015, when a reporter asked Wheeler’s fellow Democrat, then-Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, “to comment on how Baltimore police responded to the protestors she said she instructed officers to allow protestors to express themselves, and that ‘we also gave those who wished to destroy space to do that as well.’”

Evidently, that’s how Portland’s mayor is cracking down on leftwing violence in his town as well. Portland’s last Republican mayor left office in 1980; Baltimore’s in 1967. Why are Democrat-monopoly cities such cesspits of government-sanctioned violence?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Well, here’s some history for you:

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

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

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

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

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

In the interest of historical accuracy, I think I’ll repeat this post again:

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

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

Plus:

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

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

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

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


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

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

Related: What Kind Of Iraq Did Obama Inherit?

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

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

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

And who can forget this?

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

Related: Obama’s Betrayal Of The Iraqis.

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

KURT SCHLICHTER: Why Should We Trust Mueller?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Related: Mueller Is Conflicted Out.

28 CFR Section 45.2 provides in part as follows:

Disqualification arising from personal or political relationship.

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

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

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

(c) For the purposes of this section:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MORE: From the comments:

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

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

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

Yeah, let’s trust these people.

What percentage is that of the office as a whole?

EVERY TIME I THINK I’M OUT, THEY PULL ME BACK IN: US Navy Looking At Bringing Retired Carrier USS Kitty Hawk Out Of Mothballs.

Certainly pulling a carrier directly back into service would go a long way to bridging America’s “carrier gap” and would make President’s Trump’s demand for a 12 supercarrier fleet much more obtainable. Currently the Navy has 10 operational supercarriers, and with the USS Gerald Ford’s (CVN-78) entry into service date murky at best, that number may not increase for years to come.

Even just the possibility of Kitty Hawk returning to the fleet is likely music to the ears of those in Mayport, Florida, who have been begging the US Navy to return a supercarrier to the naval station there. The facility was never upgraded to support nuclear propulsion, so after the USS John F. Kennedy (CV-67) was retired in 2007, it has been without a resident supercarrier, which hurt the local economy and also has strategic implications as well. The Kitty Hawk would be an ideal candidate to call the base home without the need for major infrastructure investments.

Left unsaid? Finding enough combat-ready planes and pilots to fill that flight deck.

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.)

SHOW ME THE MONEY: Paul Ryan’s crucial cash surge.

First in Axios: Paul Ryan had another monster fundraising month for House Republicans, with his political entities sending $2.75 million to the National Republican Congressional Committee in April. That’s more than half a million more than the Speaker sent the committee in April 2016 — an election year.

Why this matters: Republicans need a ton of cash and fast to deal with an increasingly unstable political landscape. It’s only a few months past Election Day but the off-year special elections are tougher than many expected, with Democrats seeing each race as an opportunity to channel the entire progressive movement against Trump.

And House Republicans are already sweating 2018. Members are going home every weekend and facing angry progressive protesters. They’re already visualizing the inevitably brutal Democratic attack ads on everything from budget cuts to the unpopular Obamacare replacement bill.

Context: Ryan’s political operation tells us he’s sent nearly $20 million to the NRCC since the start of 2017. Over the same period in 2016 Ryan sent about $13 million to the NRCC. Ryan has also directly helped raise cash for the special election candidates, signing fundraising emails for candidates in Kansas, Georgia and Montana.

Ryan is almost certainly safe as Speaker while he brings in that kind of money.

CHANGE: On North Korean border, Pence tells CNN US will drop ‘failed policy’

To achieve this new strategy, the administration is relying heavily on China, a country President Donald Trump spent his entire campaign railing against, but has since stopped as it became clear North Korea would be a top priority requiring China’s help.

“I know the President was heartened by his discussions with President Xi (Jinping). We’ve seen China begin to take some actions to bring pressure on North Korea but there needs to be more,” Pence said.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said in a daily briefing Monday that the onus was on all parties — including the US and China — to reach a peaceful solution.

“Resolving this issue requires all relevant parties, especially parties that bear major responsibility and play a key role in this issue, to work in the same direction and make a joint effort,” he said.

The message isn’t that the U.S. is changing policy. The message is that the U.S. Vice President can go to the DMZ and announce that China is starting to come along with the new policy.

SOMEWHERE, CURTIS LEMAY SMILES: Trump’s MOAB Drop Triggered a Tweet You Need to Read. “Excessive American caution has cost American lives and American limbs, and it has left families and friends of the victims with deep psychological wounds. Those wounds would be grievous enough in the best circumstances, but they’re compounded by the fact that many of the decisions not to shoot, not to use artillery, or not to drop bombs were based on a combination of rules of engagement and military misjudgments that were transparently foolish at the time. . . . Soldiers tend not to respect timidity, and they generally have little patience for commanders who seem to place public or political perceptions over their lives and limbs. Watch this Trump statement carefully: He doesn’t say he authorized the use of the bomb itself. He says he authorizes the military. This is a key, wise, statement — one that hopefully empowers the military to act from a proper position of legal, moral, and political strength. Obama was notorious for not only implementing strict rules of engagement but for vacuuming an enormous amount of military decision-making authority straight to the White House. It’s hard to think of a more disempowering practice. It’s hard to think of a practice better calculated to lead to timidity in the field. Trump seems to be bringing a change, and it’s a change that’s long overdue.”

GUNS OF AUGUST, VOL. 2: The Balkans Will Be America and Russia’s Next (Virtual) Battlefield.

Russia has meddled extensively in Europe, and Moscow’s attitude toward the United States has become “explicitly belligerent.” That said, Putin has limited opportunities for further provoking the West. That makes the Balkans a more likely target for Russian interference.

Ukraine is an active and debilitating conflict, but it is, in some ways, a frozen one. Putin has failed to live up to his obligations under the Minsk Agreement, and there is scant prospect that the 2015 deal, often called Minsk II, will bring peace. Certainly it doesn’t preclude more war.

At present, however, Minsk II is all that is on the table. Meanwhile, the United States and the Europeans have clearly signaled that, while the sanctions on Russia tied to implementation of the agreement will be reviewed periodically, the near-term prospects for sanctions relief are nil.

At the same time, U.S. officials have signaled continuing support for Ukraine. In February, Trump told a prominent Ukrainian parliamentarian that the United States wouldn’t push for lifting sanctions anytime soon. Only a week later, Trump included a statement of support for Ukraine in a letter to the Lithuanian president. More recently, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has made similar pledges. A recent survey of experts concluded that, “two months into his presidency . . . the Trump administration [is] talking tough and taking diplomatic positions akin to those of his predecessor Barack Obama.”

These developments leave little space for the Kremlin to ratchet up its antics in Ukraine without further antagonizing both the Europeans and the Americans.

Read the whole thing, and remember that even the New York Times seems to have (quietly) dropped the Trump-is-Putin’s-stooge meme.

CBS’S SCOTT PELLEY LOSES A FIGHT RIGGED IN HIS FAVOR: Ever since it was created by Don Hewitt in 1968, CBS’s Sixty Minutes has functioned as a sort of ritual kabuki for its audiences: it made stars of its left-leaning investigative journalists, who would grill the offending conservative politician or businessman of the week. By the mid-’80s, the show’s formula was summed up brilliantly in the classic parodies by Martin Short’s Nathan Thurm character on Saturday Night Live, who would be drenched in sweat and chain-smoking Marlboro 100s by the time he was done attempting to survive the hammering from the crusading journalist on the other side of the desk.

But CBS made its bones during the days when, as Rob Long wrote of NBC’s Johnny Carson, “There were three big channels—and maybe an old movie on one of those fuzzy UHF stations—so if you didn’t like what was on, you were out of luck. Network television didn’t compete with cable channels or Hulu or Amazon Prime. It competed with silence.”

And such lack of competition allowed the networks’ news divisions to create self-contained worlds where they could absolutely control the dialogue, as Walter Cronkite did throughout his career at CBS, while signing off each night “And that’s the way it is.” His successor’s career at CBS ended there with a Sixty Minutes segment…well, we all know how it ended there, right?

Which brings us to CBS’s Scott Pelley and his recent interview with Mike Cernovich, whom Breitbart.com’s Ezra Dulis describes as “a lawyer, independent blogger/author/filmmaker, and a dominant voice on Twitter,” and whom BuzzFeed describes as “a troll.” The latter Website of course is home of the infamous Trump golden showers with Russian hookers story and an editor who believes covering Trump “sometimes…means publishing unverified information in a transparent way that informs our users of its provenance, its impact and why we trust or distrust it.”

Whatever Cernovich’s excesses, assuming this transcript of the full unedited interview is accurate, it’s fascinating much more for what it reveals about Pelley, watched by six and a half million viewers on the CBS Evening News, than for Cernovich. Here’s how the transcript begins:

Scott Pelley: How would you describe what you do?

Mike Cernovich: I’m a lawyer, author, documenter, filmmaker, and journalist.

Scott Pelley: And how would you describe your website?

Mike Cernovich: Edgy, controversial content that goes against the dominant narrative.

Scott Pelley: What’s the dominant narrative?

Mike Cernovich: The dominant narrative is that there are good guys and there are bad guys. The good guys are liberals. Everybody on the right is a bad guy. Let’s find a way to make everybody look bad. Let’s tie marginal figures who have no actual influence to anybody we cannot overwrite. That’s the narrative.

Scott Pelley: That’s not a narrative I’m familiar with. Who’s narrative is that?

In 2008, Pelley compared global warming skeptics to Holocaust deniers. Ben Rhodes, who until January was Obama’s deputy national security advisor, is the brother of CBS News president David Rhodes. John Dickerson, the host of Face the Nation and the “political director” for CBS, wrote an article for Slate in 2013 charmingly titled “Go for the Throat! Why if he wants to transform American politics, Obama must declare war on the Republican Party.” Katie Couric, whom Pelley succeeded as Evening News host, read a poem on her broadcast to shill for the passing of Obamacare, and after leaving CBS had a Rathergate-like moment of her own, attempting to marginalize gun owners.

But back to the transcript of Pelley and Cernovich, where eventually, the hunter is captured by his prey:  

Scott Pelley: You wrote in August a story about Hillary Clinton’s medical condition the headlines said, “Hillary Clinton has Parkinson’s disease. Position confirms.” That’s quite a headline.

Mike Cernovich: Yeah, Dr. Ted Noel had se-sent a story to me anonymously, that I checked out, analyzing her medical condition. And –

Scott Pelley: It isn’t true.

Mike Cernovich: How do you know?

Scott Pelley: Well, she doesn’t seem to have any signs of Parkinson’s disease.

Mike Cernovich: She had a seizure and froze up walking into her motorcade that day caught by a citizen journalist.

Scott Pelley: Did you, well, she had pneumonia. I mean –

Mike Cernovich: How do you know?

Scott Pelley: Well, because that’s what was reported.

Mike Cernovich: By whom? Who told you that?

Scott Pelley: Well, the campaign told us that.

Mike Cernovich: Why would you trust a campaign?

To ask the question is to answer it. In a post headlined “‘Shamefully Stupid’: CBS’s Scott Pelley Loses a Fight Rigged in His Favor,” Breitbart.com’s Ezra Dulis adds in response, “Pelley has no answer for those six words — ‘Why would you trust the campaign’ — as his entire profession goes berserk with literal-minded fact checks for every tweet from President Trump. Pelley also seems to forget the fakery that Clinton World attempted hours before its pneumonia statement — with the candidate smiling and waving outside her daughter’s apartment, greeting a little girl, and assuring reporters everything was a-okay.”

More:

Mike Cernovich: So let’s be, let’s be honest with one another, which is that you are reporting that the Hillary Clinton campaign-

Scott Pelley: I didn’t report that she had Parkinson’s disease.

Mike Cernovich: You just told me she’s healthy though. Based on what was told to you by the campaign. See? That’s what I’m saying about the double standards which is I don’t take anything Hillary Clinton’s going to say at all as true. I’m not going to take her on her word. The media says we’re not going to take Donald Trump on his word. And that’ why we are on these different universes.

Scott Pelley: Why should anyone take you on your word?

Mike Cernovich: Oh, you should always double-check. You should always fact check. And if people don’t agree with me, people express that disagreement, and I’m completely, completely open to criticism.

Insert Glenn Reynolds’ Rathergate-era comments about the positive nature of the Internet being a low-trust environment here. Not to mention Michael Crichton’s Gell-Man Amnesia Effect.

Let’s give Pelley the exit quote: “Well, the benefit of intermediaries is having experienced editors check things out and research people. Check the facts before it goes out to the public. You don’t do any of that.”

Mary Mapes could not be reached for comment.

UPDATE: “Was Pelley not around in 2004?” John Hinderaker asks at Power Line. “Has he forgotten how stupid that refrain sounded then? (‘Layers and layers of fact-checkers’) Does he not realize how false it rings today? We have been here before: the liberal media are in a panic because their authority is being challenged. It must be worse now, though, than it was in 2004. Then, Time’s refrain was a relatively benign ‘Who owns the truth?’ Now, they ask, ‘Is truth dead?’ We can translate: ‘Is the liberal news media monopoly dead?’”

TRY, TRY AGAIN? Affordable Care Act Repeal Is Back on the Agenda, Republicans Say.

Republican members of Congress said they hoped that revisiting the issue would lead this time to a solution and a vote in the House.

“I think everyone wants to get to yes and support President Trump,” said Representative Dave Brat, Republican of Virginia and a Freedom Caucus member. “There is a package in there that is a win-win.”

Representative Raúl Labrador of Idaho, another Freedom Caucus member, said he hoped the discussions would yield a compromise that brings the party together after a divisive debate that revealed deep fissures. “I think we will have a better, stronger product that will unify the conference,” Mr. Labrador said.

The House leadership needs to worry less about what might clear the Senate, and concentrate more on winning passage in the House.

ANDREW MALCOLM: The GOP’s Obamacare retreat: Another circular firing squad.

Coming one day after the troubled plan’s seventh anniversary, the legislative retreat appeared to be a major victory for minority House Democrats, though they did absolutely nothing to bring it about.

It will likely turn out to be a most compelling piece of evidence that the GOP’s current political dominance in Washington will not last long. Since 2010 the House staged dozens of symbolic Obamacare repeal votes, which they knew full well were futile as long as what’s-his-name had his feet up on the Oval Office desk.

Repeal was torpedoed by a rump pack of Republicans themselves who’ve shown a keen interest in policy-strutting but none in the actual teamwork of governing.

It’s worse than embarrassing. After seven long years of Obamacare opposition, Republicans couldn’t agree on what to repeal and what to substitute. Seriously?

To a candidate, Trump down to the smallest-minded GOP House member, made “Repeal and Replace” the premier political promise of 2016. Trump himself with characteristic emphasis promised it would be, “Immediate. Immediate!”

Democrats spent 14 months putting ObamaCare together and — this should be in a book called Legislation for Dummies marketed to Republicans — putting together the votes to get it passed.

It should also be noted that Democrats were perfectly willing to sacrifice their majority to get ObamaCare passed, knowing that they had a once-in-a-generation opportunity to concentrate more money and power in Washington.

The has GOP has shown no such dedication to its stated principle of returning money and power to the people.

SPOILER ALERT: “The documents were phony.”

In the third week of January, an Israeli named Yoni Ariel flew from Tel Aviv to Rome carrying $9,000 in cash on a secret mission to bring down Donald Trump.

There, he met with an Italian businessman. Seated at a table toward the rear of a café, away from the street where they might attract unwanted attention, Ariel recalled, he handed over the cash. In exchange he was given a copy of a potentially explosive set of documents.

Its 35 pages told the story of a $1.6 billion wire transfer from petroleum giant ExxonMobil to a European office of a Chinese mining company, which a day later transferred 1.4 billion euros to the Trump Organization, the privately held conglomerate founded by President Trump.

The transfers appeared to have taken place in mid-June, at the exact same time that Exxon’s then chief executive, Rex Tillerson, was in St. Petersburg at an economic forum, which Russian President Vladimir Putin also attended. Less than six months later, President-elect Trump — victor in an election that the US intelligence community said the Russian government had interfered with — nominated Tillerson to be his secretary of state.

To Ariel, who is married to an American and calls Russia’s tampering in the elections “an act of war,” the implications of these billion-dollar transfers were clear: Exxon had secretly bribed Trump to name Tillerson to the powerful cabinet post.

Just a taste more:

Not long after Trump won the election, Schorer, the former spokesman for Democrats Abroad Israel, told Ariel about the alleged Exxon payments and the documents that supposedly provide proof.

Ariel, intrigued, decided he would need help paying for trips to Rome to acquire the documents and also with authenticating them. A string of contacts, including the chairman of Democrats Abroad France, and a former Democratic National Committee operative in Washington, DC, eventually led Ariel to Brett Kimberlin, a left-wing political activist who is also notorious as a felon convicted of setting off bombs in the American heartland.

This is the same Brett Kimberlin who during the 1988 election claimed to have sold pot to Dan Quayle — attempted meddling in presidential elections seems to be something of a sideline for him.

Read the whole thing, but even at the end we still have no clue who forged the Exxon documents, or why they did just an obviously phony job of it.

WALTER RUSSELL MEAD HARSHES THE NARRATIVE: Trump Isn’t Sounding Like a Russian Mole: Trump’s core global strategy is intended to destroy any illusions in Moscow that Russia is a peer competitor of Washington’s.

A Trump administration is going to be four years of hell for Russia: a massive American doubling down on shale production along with a major military buildup. Trump is, in other words, a nightmare for Putin and a much, much bigger threat to Putin’s goals than President Obama ever was or wanted to be.

If Trump were the Manchurian candidate that people keep wanting to believe that he is, here are some of the things he’d be doing:

Limiting fracking as much as he possibly could
Blocking oil and gas pipelines
Opening negotiations for major nuclear arms reductions
Cutting U.S. military spending
Trying to tamp down tensions with Russia’s ally Iran

That Trump is planning to do precisely the opposite of these things may or may not be good policy for the United States, but anybody who thinks this is a Russia appeasement policy has been drinking way too much joy juice.

Obama actually did all of these things, and none of the liberal media now up in arms about Trump ever called Obama a Russian puppet; instead, they preferred to see a brave, farsighted and courageous statesman. Trump does none of these things and has embarked on a course that will inexorably weaken Russia’s position in the world, and the media, suddenly flushing eight years of Russia dovishness down the memory hole, now sounds the warning that Trump’s Russia policy is treasonously soft.

This foolishness is best understood as an unreasoning panic attack. The liberal media hate Trump more than they have hated any American politician in a generation, and they do not understand his supporters or the sources of his appeal. They are frantically picking up every available stick to beat him, in the hopes that something, somehow, will Miloize him.

So blind does hatred make them that they cannot understand how their own behavior is driving American public opinion in directions that bode ill for liberals in the future. In the first place, suppose Donald Trump does not in fact turn out to be the second coming of Benedict Arnold. Suppose instead, as is much more likely, that he turns out to be a very hawkish president, one who quite possibly will make George W. Bush look like Jimmy Carter. The media and Democratic Party leaders will have staked huge amounts of credibility on a position that turns out to be laughably untrue. Six months or a year from now, they will have to flip from calling Trump an anti-American traitor and Russian plant to calling him a dangerous, fascistic ultranationalist whose relentless hawkishness is bringing us closer to World War Three.

The press and the Democrats — but I repeat myself — will make that flip without a moment’s hesitation or acknowledgment.

Plus: “The media wants to cast Trump as both Neville Chamberlain and Adolf Hitler; but you can’t give the Sudetenland to yourself.”

GEERT WILDERS VOWS TO DE-ISLAMIZE THE NETHERLANDS.

Wilders – who has lived in hiding since an Islamist murdered Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh in 2004 – pledges to ban Muslim immigration, close all mosques and take the Netherlands out of the European Union.

Many of his supporters at the Spijkenisse market, however, said they cared more about his social welfare policies.

“The most important thing for me is bringing the pension age back down to 65,” said Wil Fens, 59, a crane operator at the port.

Wilders hopes a global upsurge in anti-establishment feeling that has already helped to propel Donald Trump to the U.S. presidency and to persuade Britons to vote to quit the European Union will propel him to power in the March 15 parliamentary election.

A win for Wilders would boost French far-right leader Marine Le Pen and the Alternative for Germany party, both hoping to transform European politics in elections this year.

“Despite all the hate and fear-mongering of the elite both in Britain and Brussels, people took their fate in their own hands,” he said. “I think that will happen in Holland, in France, Austria and in Germany.”

Wilders’ party leads in opinion polls with 17 percent, a whisker ahead of the pro-business Liberals of Prime Minister Mark Rutte, who has closed the gap by matching some of Wilders’ anti-immigration rhetoric and received a boost from a surging economy.

Hmm. Well, stay tuned.

OUT LIKE FLYNN: The Political Assassination of Michael Flynn.

Eli Lake:

Representative Devin Nunes, the Republican chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, told me Monday that he saw the leaks about Flynn’s conversations with Kislyak as part of a pattern. “There does appear to be a well orchestrated effort to attack Flynn and others in the administration,” he said. “From the leaking of phone calls between the president and foreign leaders to what appears to be high-level FISA Court information, to the leaking of American citizens being denied security clearances, it looks like a pattern.”

Nunes said he was going to bring this up with the FBI, and ask the agency to investigate the leak and find out whether Flynn himself is a target of a law enforcement investigation. The Washington Post reported last month that Flynn was not the target of an FBI probe.

The background here is important. Three people once affiliated with Trump’s presidential campaign — Carter Page, Paul Manafort and Roger Stone — are being investigated by the FBI and the intelligence community for their contacts with the Russian government. This is part of a wider inquiry into Russia’s role in hacking and distributing emails of leading Democrats before the election.

Flynn himself traveled in 2015 to Russia to attend a conference put on by the country’s propaganda network, RT. He has acknowledged he was paid through his speaker’s bureau for his appearance. That doesn’t look good, but it’s also not illegal in and of itself. All of this is to say there are many unanswered questions about Trump’s and his administration’s ties to Russia.

But that’s all these allegations are at this point: unanswered questions. It’s possible that Flynn has more ties to Russia that he had kept from the public and his colleagues. It’s also possible that a group of national security bureaucrats and former Obama officials are selectively leaking highly sensitive law enforcement information to undermine the elected government.

The chatter against Flynn — and it has come from Democrats, Republicans, and the intelligence community — has been longstanding, intense, and in the end, effective. The motives for it also seem to come from across the spectrum: Partisanship, #NeverTrump, and for those concerned about his Russian ties, honest patriotism. It would also be too kind to say that Flynn is unloved by the I.C. following his troubled tenure as head of D.I.A.

But what really happened? It’s impossible to say, but if the intelligence community is still at war with the Trump Administration even after collecting Flynn’s scalp, then we we’ll know at least part of the answer.

ALSO:

Russia isn’t the only busy intersection between the White House and Congress, either.

NONIE DARWISH: On Boycotting Radical Islamic Nations.

Early this morning an Arabic radio station in the Middle East called asking my opinion about President Trump’s ban on refugees and citizens of seven Muslim nations. The radio host, who sounded angry over the ban, was a Christian Arab. She was surprised to hear that I supported the ban and think that it should have taken place the day after 9/11.

She then asked me if I knew any Arab American activist who was against the ban because she wanted to interview someone against the ban. She seemed shocked to hear that I do not have any Arab or Muslim friends who are protesting the ban, and that many immigrants of Islamic and Middle East origin support the ban and are fed up and embarrassed by what jihadists are doing.

She said that all she sees on CNN and other channels are riots that portray almost all Americans supporting Muslims and against Trump. I am upset over the success of the leftist propaganda all over the Middle East. It brings back memories of the life of the hate indoctrination and misinformation I lived under for most of my life.

Read the whole thing — and keep in mind that the progressive left produces heat and noise all out of proportion to its actual size, and that it is treated overseas (and by our own, sympathetic news media) with far more respect than it deserves.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE, KAFKA-WOULD-CRY EDITION: An unwanted touch. Two lives in free fall. A dispatch from the drive to stop sexual assault on campus.

The facts are largely undisputed: Two college students on summer break – he’s a sophomore; she, a freshman – make a date. It’s Memorial Day weekend, 2014, and their intentions are explicit. They meet and have sex – consensual, enthusiastic – when a passerby interrupts them.

A few hours later, still together, the male student attempts to resume the sexual encounter. He reaches under her shirt to touch her breast. He stops immediately when she asks him to. They agree about these facts.

Yet this “one-time, non-consensual touching,” as university documents summarize it, is the crux of a startling Michigan State University sexual misconduct case. It has generated a thick stack of legal documents, months of MSU administrator time, and tens of thousands of dollars in legal bills since the female student, known here as Melanie, formally complained on Sept. 25, 2015 – almost 16 months after the incident.

More importantly, though, the case – which has traveled through an internal appeals process, exhausting the now-22-year-old man’s hope for reversal of sanctions at the university level – challenges what some might see as common-sense assumptions about sex and dating behavior. MSU’s findings draw sharply etched lines into the blurry world of dating intimacy and reveal the power of university administrators to mark a student as a sexual offender – for touching a lover’s breast after sex, miles from campus, without any accusations of violence, intimidation or stalking behavior.

Well, when you start with the presumption — and they most certainly do — that all men are basically rapists who exist on sufferance, it all makes sense. I expect that the Trump Administration will bring some common sense to this kind of thing, although if they really want to hurt higher education they should probably just double down.

Oh well, maybe it’ll at least do K.C. Johnson and Stuart Taylor some good.

“ANARCHISTS” ARE JUST THE LEFT’S (BARELY) DENIABLE MUSCLE: Police clash with anarchist protesters in downtown DC. “The protesters smashed windows at a bus stop and businesses in the downtown area before congregating in mass in front of the American Health Care Association building on L Street Northwest.”

In an actual anarchy, people who behaved this way would be killed, or enslaved until they paid off the damage they did.

More: Inauguration protesters vandalize city, try to disrupt Trump’s oath, police arrest nearly 100.

Do you want more Trump? Because this is how you get more Trump.

JOHN MCGINNIS: Our Laws Should Encourage Business Leaders To Become Cabinet Secretaries.

One of the best disruptions of Donald Trump has been his decision to nominate many officials to the Cabinet who have been enormously successful in business. Such appointees have run major organizations and thus can use their substantial management experience to impose order on the sprawling government bureaucracy. They also bring the perspective of business into the heart of government. A commercial republic can thrive only if, from time to time, officials set about lifting off the dead weights that democratic practices tend to place on the economy.

It is thus disheartening, if not surprising, that many Democrats in the Senate now want to eliminate most of the tax law that facilitates the transition of business people to government. This law permits appointees to an administration to defer their capital gains on the stock they must sell to avoid conflict of interest. It thus encourages wealthy individuals to take government posts, because otherwise they would face an unpalatable choice: Pay a huge capital gains bill or hold on to stock that would create conflicts of interest in their new positions. The legislation greatly aids in eliminating conflicts of interest, because in exchange for the tax deferral, appointees must put their money in treasuries or index funds.

Thus, it is not an interest in good government, but in insular government that is behind the push to change this law.One of the most striking aspects of the modern left-liberal agenda is the effort to create a politics run by and for the symbolic class—people who talk or write for a living. This impetus is most obviously demonstrated by the interest in campaign finance reform. Such reform does not touch the very substantial influence of the media or of the academy on the long term shape of politics, groups almost entirely on the left side of the political spectrum. But campaign finance reform would curtail the capacity of those who create and improve our material world from using their own resources to rent the media and get their own views out the public.

The attempt to gut this sensible tax provision is yet another part of the effort to protect the power of symbolic class and make it harder for the sensibility of business to infuse government.

Nothing in the performance record of the “symbolic class” suggests that we gain from putting more power in its hands.

SO THIS ISN’T EXACTLY A CLIMBDOWN, but I’m rethinking my position that a good argument for having Trump as President is that if he gets out of line, the press and the Deep State will go after him and bring him under control.

There are two reasons for that. First, the press and the Deep State are already going after him, before he’s even had a chance to get out of line. And second, I mean, holy crap, could they be any sorrier at doing so? I mean, “Peegate?” Really? What the hell?

This is good news for Trump, sort of, but overall it’s really bad news, since it means that both journalism and the intelligence community are both more politicized, and less competent, than even I thought. Sweet Jesus, these people are terrible.

PIERS MORGAN: Sorry, Meryl but that hypocritical anti-Trump rant was easily the worst performance of your career (apart from that time you gave a child rapist a standing ovation).

Related: Kellyanne Conway: ‘I didn’t hear Meryl Streep give a shout out to the mentally challenged boy tortured on Facebook.’ My goodness, she really puts the knife in here. Watch the video at the link: This is not your father’s GOP.

UPDATE: From the comments: “When you’re so stupidly pompous that Piers Morgan calls you on it… well, there’s your lifetime achievement award right there.”

Plus several people saying that the lefty hysteria over Trump is bringing them around to being pro-Trump. Yes, Hollywood will help cement the Trump 2020 coalition. . . .

UPDATE: Yep:

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ANOTHER UPDATE: You know, I think people are beginning to question Hollywood’s authority. UFC’s Dana White fires back at ‘uppity 80-year-old’ Meryl Streep after MMA, NFL dig.

MORE: From the comments:

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HOWIE CARR IS NOT IMPRESSED with the Boston Globe’s plan to go from “paper of record” to “organization of interest.” I’m not sure what that means, and neither is Howie:

In a memo to his decimated staff this week, editor Brian McGrory says the Globe will no longer be the “paper of record” (as if it ever was). Instead, he said, the Globe will be an “organization of interest.”

Sorry, not interested.

McGrory’s memo reads like it was composed by a recent graduate of an ESL program, or perhaps translated from another language, most likely consultantese. Everything is to be interesting, “relentlessly interesting.”

After all these years of printing dreary left wing agitprop, how will the Globe become interesting?

“We’ll set up an Audience Engagement team,” McGrory writes. “We will refine and refine again the Hubs system that was proposed by the Mission working group.”

Yeah, that should bring back the readers all right. The Registry of Motor Vehicles couldn’t have put it any better.

But I suspect the outcome will be reprinting Democratic Party and lefty interest group press releases with even less editing. And so does Howie:

Here’s how that will work. If you go to the website at 8 a.m., the lead story might be headlined, “Donald Trump is a terrible man.” If you come back at noon, there will be a totally different, fresh story: “Donald Trump: Threat or Menace?” And then at 3, yet another brand new piece will be posted — “Trump Linked to Cannibal Cult.” . . .

Meanwhile, the last six reporters who haven’t been laid off will have a role in the new imaginary newsroom. McGrory is having one of his deputy senior associate assistant junior managing editors send out a questionnaire asking them “what beats you’ve been dreaming of covering.”

Think of the sharp elbowing that will be going for those most coveted beats: the transgender-bathroom civil rights beat, religion (at the Globe, that’s climate change) and so on. But the prime beat at the Globe, even more prized than the get-Marty-Walsh beat, is the phobia beat. Homophobia, Islamophobia, misogyny, fake hate crimes — you’re guaranteed front page every day. Literally dozens of readers, some of them under the age of 85, will get to know your name!

Heh.

THE LEFT: WALLS FOR ME, BUT NOT FOR THEE. In “It’s Still a Mad, Mad California,” Victor Davis Hanson writes:

Feral California out here is a live-and-let-live place, a libertarian’s dream (or nightmare). The staggering costs for its illegality are made up by the shrinking few who nod as they always have and follow the law in all its now-scary manifestations.

The rich on the coast tune out. From her nest in Rancho Mirage, a desert oasis created by costly water transfers, outgoing senator Barbara Boxer rails about water transfers. When Jerry Brown leaves his governorship, he will not live in Bakersfield but probably in hip Grass Valley. High crime, the flight of small businesses, and water shortages cannot bound the fences of Nancy Pelosi’s Palladian villa or the security barriers and walls of Mark Zuckerberg and other Silicon Valley billionaires — who press for more regulation, and for more compassion for the oppressed, but always from a distance and always from the medieval assumption that their money and privilege exempt them from the consequences of their idealism. There is no such thing as an open border for a neighbor of Mr. Zuckerberg or of Ms. Pelosi.

A final window into the California pathology: Most of the most strident Californians who decry Trump’s various proposed walls insist on them for their own residences.

Which brings us to the today’s headline in the London Daily Mail, set in a another far left bubble on the opposite coast: “Now Obama’s building a wall! Workers put the finishing touches to a brick barrier around $5million DC mansion where Barack, Michelle and Sasha will live after leaving the White House.”

As Peggy Noonan wrote early last year on the rise of Trump, “There are the protected and the unprotected. The protected make public policy. The unprotected live in it.” Naturally, Obama and the Silicon Valley grandees who enabled his rise to the top want their walls and their armed protection, even as they conspire to keep the rest of us unsafe.

QUALITATIVE IMPROVEMENT IN NORTH KOREAN MISSILES: This is from Reuters. The source is the U.S. State Department. For a change the State Dept. and moi agree on something. In missile testing failure is progress. Except when The New York Times reports on U.S. anti-ballistic missile tests. Then failure is failure is failure (I apologize to roses) and the failure is attributed to Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush…Hold the presses…and attributed to Donald Trump!

The United States said on Thursday North Korea had demonstrated a “qualitative” improvement in its nuclear and missile capabilities after an unprecedented level of tests last year, showing the needed to sustain pressure on Pyongyang to bring it back to disarmament negotiations.

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken told a joint news conference after a meeting with his Japanese and South Korean counterparts that North Korea had conducted 24 missile tests in the past year, as well as two nuclear tests, and learned from each one.

“Even a so-called failure is progress because … they apply what they have learned to their technology and to the next test. And in our assessment, we have a qualitative improvement in their capabilities in the past year as a result of this unprecedented level of activity,” he said.

“With every passing day the threat does get more acute,” Blinken said, and referred to comments by North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un, on Sunday that his country was close to test-launching an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) of a kind that could someday hit the United States.

Wynken, Blynken and Nod…excuse me, his name is Blinken.

VERY MUCH RELATED: My latest Creators Syndicate column.

FASTER, PLEASE: Obama’s Coming Obscurity.

Emmett Tyrrell:

The last time I drew attention to Obama’s lamentable condition some readers scoffed at me and pointed to Obamacare, which has practically wrecked the healthcare system for millions of Americans. Surely that disaster casts a long and dark shadow behind the 44th president, whom they admonished. I remained serene. And what about Obama’s dealings with Israel, our most loyal ally in the Middle East? Just the other day, one of his henchpersons ambushed Israel in the U.N. Security Council. Admittedly, there have been setbacks suffered by the United States while this incompetent was in office, but I believe they will be short-lived. President-elect Donald Trump is coming to town, and he is bringing with him an exceptional Cabinet. Already he is threatening to erase Obama’s foolishness, and he is doing it on Twitter. Wait until he is seated in the Oval Office with the power of the other two branches of government behind him. In the end it will be seen that I was right, as I was right in calling the election. Obama leaves no shadow, not even a legacy — Trump won on Nov. 8.

President Trump will arrive at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue carrying an attache case bulging with executive orders to rescind and agency regulations to nullify. I am sure he is aware that for years the 44th president and his servitors have been promulgating regulations large and small to give the bureaucracy evermore intrusive control over business and the citizenry. Trump will, as he promised, cut the waste, rein in government and drain the swamp.

Read the whole thing — although as I’ve become much more hopeful about the cutting and reining, I’ve become more suspect of the draining. But that particular two outta three would be amazing.

MEGAN MCARDLE: Hacking Democratic Rules Isn’t Good Government.

Before the election, the Senate’s refusal to hold a vote on the appointment of Merrick Garland, President Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court, seemed destined to be a footnote in history. Hillary Clinton would win the election, a different and even more liberal nominee would be put forward (quite possibly to a Democratic-controlled Senate), and after decades of conservative dominance, the Supreme Court would once again tilt leftward.

Trump’s surprise election upset this. Particularly, it upset progressive activists, who thought that Antonin Scalia’s death in office had finally given them a chance at a more activist liberal judiciary. Having written the lede on the way to the ballpark, some of them were not quite ready to tear up their story and start over.

Enter the procedural hacks. What if Democrats went and confirmed Garland anyway?

You may be a bit confused. Republicans hold the majority in this Senate. They will also control the next Senate. How are Democrats supposed to bring the thing to the floor for a vote, much less get enough votes to actually confirm him?

That’s a very good question! The answer some progressives have come up with is that there will be a nanosecond gap between when the outgoing senators leave office, and the new ones are sworn in. During that gap, there will be more Democrats left than Republicans. So the idea is to call that smaller body into session, vote on the nomination, and voila! — a new Supreme Court justice. Alternatively, President Obama could use that gap to make a recess appointment.

Sure. Harry Reid’s breaking the filibuster is going to work out great for them. Why not throw all the other norms out the window, too! Make it all about raw power! Trump won’t be able to handle that!

START OFF 2017 WITH DAVE BARRY’S REVIEW OF 2016, WHICH HE SUMS UP IN TWO WORDS: “WHAT THE…?” Plus a few more words, including:

In U.S. politics, the Republicans gather in Cleveland to nominate Trump, although many top party officials are unable to attend because of an urgent compelling need to not be there. Nevertheless Trump receives enthusiastic prime-time endorsements from former celebrity Scott Baio, several dozen Trump children and current Trump wife Melania, who enthralls delegates with a well-received speech in which she tells her heartwarming story of growing up as an African-American woman in Chicago. The dramatic highlight comes on the final night, when Trump, in his acceptance speech, brings the delegates cheering to their feet with his emotional challenge to “grab the future by the p—y.”

On the Democratic side, the month gets off to a rocky start when FBI Director James Comey, announcing the results of the bureau’s investigation, reveals that when Hillary Clinton was secretary of state, her official emails, some including classified material, were basically as secure from prying eyes as a neon beer sign. Nevertheless, Comey says he is recommending that no criminal charges be brought against Clinton, because, quote, “I don’t want to die.”

With that legal hurdle cleared, relieved Democrats gather in Philadelphia for their convention, which opens — in a bid to placate Sanders’ delegates — with the ceremonial caning of Debbie Wasserman Schultz. This is followed by several hundred speeches praising Hillary Clinton for the many accomplishments she has achieved, as well as the achievements she has accomplished, while at the same time being, historically, a woman. In her acceptance speech, Clinton calls on Americans “to join with me in building a better world for us and for our children,” adding, “or I will crush you like an insect.”

In a media shakeup, Roger Ailes resigns as chairman of Fox News following allegations that his name can be rearranged to spell “I ogle rears.”

That’s just (an incomplete) look at July. Read the whole thing, now that 2016 is safely behind us. Just like Alien hiding in the Narcissus, Glenn Close lurking in the bathtub at the end of Fatal Attraction, and every other horror movie shock ending…

JEFF JACOBY: The Experts Got 2016 Wrong. They’ll Get 2017 Wrong, Too.

2016! Was there ever such a year for making donkeys out of seers? A whole column could be filled with nothing but the names of sages and savants, supposedly adept in the ways of politics, who confidently assured everyone that Donald J. Trump couldn’t possibly win the Republican presidential nomination, let alone be elected president of the United States.

“If Trump is nominated, then everything we think we know about presidential nominations is wrong,” wrote Larry Sabato, whose highly regarded website at the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics is called Sabato’s Crystal Ball. Peering into his crystal ball on Nov. 7, he saw Hillary Clinton poised to harvest 322 votes in the Electoral College, handily defeating Trump in the next day’s election.

Countless experts made similar predictions. “GOP insiders: Trump can’t win,” read a Politico headline last summer. Atop the story was the cocksure analysis of one of those insiders that nothing could keep Trump from losing short of “video evidence of a smiling Hillary drowning a litter of puppies while terrorists surrounded her with chants of ‘Death to America.’ ” Pollsters, politicians, and even the incumbent POTUS announced with perfect certitude that a Trump victory was off the table. Indeed, prophesied Damon Linker, senior correspondent at The Week, not only would Trump lose, he would “lose in the biggest landslide in modern American history.”

By no means was it only in the realm of US presidential politics that experts blew it.

At Fox Sports, Sam Gardner insisted on Opening Day that the Chicago Cubs “weren’t ready to make the leap” to the World Series. He was still insisting six months later that the Cubs’ World Series drought would persist.

Climate experts predicted that in the summer of 2016, for the first time in 100,000 years, the Arctic Ocean would be essentially ice-free. Peter Wadhams, head of the Polar Ocean Physics Group at Cambridge University, said the decline in sea ice was unstoppable. But when satellite images for September were released, they showed ice levels greater than they were in 2012.

Fortune magazine played up the doomsaying of Wall Street strategist Albert Edwards, who warned that 2016 would bring the biggest stock market crash in a generation. “The illusion of prosperity is shattered as boom now turns to bust,” Edwards wrote in January, amid a market swoon. Bust? By year’s end, the Dow was flirting with an all-time record high.

British experts of every description made the case for keeping the United Kingdom inside the European Union, and pollsters were sure Brexit would go down to defeat. But on the day of the election, voters tore up the script, handing the “Leave” campaign a victory margin of more than a million votes. Michael Gove, the UK’s justice minister and a leading Brexiteer, had been laughed at when he contended: “People in this country have had enough of experts.” Maybe the experts should have listened.

Maybe all of us should be more skeptical when experts are telling us what to think.

Experts and expertise have their place, but it is smaller than they imagine. And many “experts” fall into the credentialed but not educated category.

HEATHER MAC DONALD: Violence in the Halls, Disorder in the Malls: The holiday hooliganism traces back to the Obama administration’s destructive efforts to undermine school discipline.

Judging by video evidence, the participants in the violent mall brawls over the Christmas weekend were overwhelmingly black teens, though white teens were also involved. The media have assiduously ignored this fact, of course, as they have for previous violent flash mob episodes. That disproportion has significance for the next administration’s school-discipline policies, however. If Donald Trump wants to make schools safe again, he must rescind the Obama administration’s diktats regarding classroom discipline, which are based on a fantasy version of reality that is having serious real-world consequences.

The Obama Justice and Education Departments have strong-armed schools across the country to all but eliminate the suspension and expulsion of insubordinate students. The reason? Because black students are disciplined at higher rates than whites. According to Washington bureaucrats, such disproportionate suspensions can mean only one thing: teachers and administrators are racist. The Obama administration rejects the proposition that black students are more likely to assault teachers or fight with other students in class. The so-called “school to prison” pipeline is a function of bias, not of behavior, they say.

This week’s mall violence, which injured several police and security officers, is just the latest piece of evidence for how counterfactual that credo is. A routine complaint in police-community meetings in minority areas is that large groups of teens are fighting on corners. Residents of the South Bronx’s 41st Precinct complained repeatedly to the precinct commander in a June 2015 meeting about such street disorder. “There’s too much fighting,” one woman said. “There was more than 100 kids the other day; they beat on a girl about 14 years old.” In April 2016, a 17-year-old girl in Coney Island, Brooklyn, Ta’Jae Warner, tried to protect her brother from a group of girls gathered outside her apartment building who were threatening to kill him; one of the group knocked her unconscious. She died four days later. At a meeting in the 23rd Precinct in East Harlem in 2015, residents asked why the police hadn’t stopped a recent stampede of youth down Third Avenue. In April 2012, a group of teens stomped a gang rival to death in a Bronx housing project.

The idea that such street behavior does not have a classroom counterpart is ludicrous. Black males between the ages of 14 and 17 commit homicide at ten times the rate of white and Hispanic males of the same age. The lack of socialization that produces such a vast disparity in murder rates, as well as less lethal street violence, inevitably will show up in classroom behavior. Teens who react to a perceived insult on social media by trying to shoot the offender are not likely to restrain themselves in the classroom if they feel “disrespected” by a teacher or fellow students. Interviews with teachers confirm the proposition that children from communities with high rates of family breakdown bring vast amounts of disruptive anger to school, especially girls. It is no surprise that several of the Christmas riots began with fights between girls.

Read the whole thing.

CURRENCY MANIPULATION: China Hits Reset on Yuan Fixing.

Starting Jan. 1, the central bank will expand the number of currencies in the basket uses to calibrate the yuan’s value to 24 from 13 and reduce the weighting given to the U.S. dollar to 22.4%, from 26.4%, according to an announcement by the central bank’s China Foreign Exchange Trade System late Thursday.

By diluting the dollar’s share and bringing in currencies from the Korean won to the Saudi riyal and Swedish krona the People’s Bank of China is giving itself more room to maneuver to keep the yuan from falling too fast, analysts said.

In recent weeks, the yuan has buckled under uncertainty about China’s economic performance, a surging U.S. dollar following Donald Trump’s presidential-election victory and escalating flows of Chinese currency moving offshore.

The potential for faster U.S. interest-rate increases could add even more downward pressure on the yuan, with some analysts and investors predicting that the currency could break the psychologically important seven-yuan-per-dollar level as soon as next month.

Remember, this is China trying to prop up the value of the yuan.

JASON RILEY: Why Liberals Oppose Ben Carson: Trump’s HUD nominee grew up poor, and he knows public housing isn’t where people prefer to live.

Do yourself a favor and hold off on joining the liberal outrage over Donald Trump’s cabinet choices—or at least better understand what’s happening.

Critics say the president-elect is tapping individuals who lack experience or who want to eliminate the very agencies they will be tasked with running. But the real concern on the political left is that the incoming administration will be all too competent at shifting the priorities of some federal agencies while reining in others.

The main objection to school reformer Betsy DeVos, Mr. Trump’s pick for education secretary, is not that she’s never been a classroom teacher but rather that she wants to expand school choice, which threatens union control of public education. Green groups don’t want former Texas Gov. Rick Perry to become energy secretary because he opposes federal subsidies that facilitated boondoggles like Solyndra. And they don’t want Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt anywhere near the Environmental Protection Agency due to his history of fighting efforts to impose through executive fiat environmental regulations that Congress has rejected.

One of the best examples of liberals using personal attacks as a pretext for policy disagreements is the campaign against retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, who has been selected to head the Housing and Urban Development Department. The New York Times depicts Dr. Carson as an antigovernment ideologue with a “warped view of housing.” The Daily Beast chides him for criticizing government efforts to help low-income minorities by sprinkling them throughout wealthy suburbs where they couldn’t afford to live without government subsidies.

Dr. Carson grew up poor in Detroit and Boston, an experience that he chronicles vividly in his memoir, “Gifted Hands.” His upbringing doesn’t make him a housing expert, but like the general who knows war and is therefore less likely to venture recklessly into a new one, Dr. Carson’s background does make him better able to empathize with the plight of the poor.

Besides, if the state of inner-cities is any indication, the last thing low-income residents need is more of the same so-called expertise that Dr. Carson lacks. New York City is home to the nation’s largest public housing program, writes Howard Husock of the Manhattan Institute, “and the average resident has spent 22 years living in a subsidized home.” Are HUD’s policies helping these people or trapping them?

HUD is an outgrowth of Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society, and its original goal was to address the housing needs of America’s poor. Today, it serves as a blunt tool for social engineers who are hellbent on achieving “racial balance” in residential housing patterns—whether the intended beneficiaries want it or don’t.

HUD’s original goal was to establish voter farms for the Democrats, and it’s been wildly successful in that. Everything else is just noise. What worries Democrats about Ben Carson is that he might upset that applecart.

BLUE STATE BLUES: Illinois’ population has shrunk by 78,000 in three years.

In fact, the Census reports that 114,144 residents fled Illinois last year — the equivalent of the entire city of Peoria, the state’s seventh largest municipality. When offset with local births, deaths, and others moving in, it comes to a net loss of 37,508 residents in just one year. And the Tribune report adds that this is not just a rural or downstate problem, as some might have expected previously — Chicago has been losing population as well.

And then there’s this, which makes the idea behind Donald Trump’s clumsy and patronizing pitch for black votes seem a bit less crazy, and in fact possibly even something potent if ever made competently:

Leading the exodus to warmer states is the black population, in search of more stable incomes, safe neighborhoods and prosperity. Between 2014 and 2015, more than 9,000 black residents left Cook County.

The overall number of residents that Illinois has lost is alarming in historical terms. It was about 12,000 in 2014, 28,000 in 2015, and nearly 40,000 this year, for a net loss of nearly 80,000 residents over three years. That represents the equivalent of Bloomington — Illinois’ twelfth largest city. The shrinkage is so acute that Pennsylvania could soon overtake Illinois as the nation’s sixth-largest state, even though it lost (a mere) 8,000 residents on net last year.

But where are they going, and are they bringing their failed voting habits with them?

HEATHER MAC DONALD: Trump Can End the War on Cops:

President Obama has repeatedly accused the police and criminal-justice system of discrimination, lethal and otherwise. During the memorial service for five Dallas police officers gunned down in July by an assassin who reportedly was inspired by Black Lives Matter, Mr. Obama announced that black parents were right to “fear that something terrible may happen when their child walks out the door”—that the child will be fatally shot by a cop.

The consequences of such presidential rhetoric are enormous, especially when amplified by the media. Officers working in high-crime areas now encounter a dangerous level of hatred and violent resistance. Gun murders of officers are up 68% this year compared with the same period last year.

Police have cut way back on pedestrian stops and public-order enforcement in minority neighborhoods, having been told repeatedly that such discretionary activities are racially oppressive. The result in 2015 was the largest national homicide increase in nearly 50 years. That shooting spree has continued this year, ruthlessly mowing down children and senior citizens in many cities, along with the usual toll of young black men who are the primary targets of gun crime.

To begin to reverse these trends, President Trump must declare that the executive branch’s ideological war on cops is over. The most fundamental necessity of any society is adherence to the rule of law, he should say. Moreover, there is no government agency today more dedicated to the proposition that black lives matter than the police.

Read the whole thing. The 180 degree reboot of the culture wars will be fascinating, and at times likely extremely painful to watch. Trump will dial back the radical racialism of the Obama White House, but as Ross Douthat warned prophetically in September, in the 1970s and ‘80s, the “Nixon-Reagan rightward shift did not repeal the 1960s or push the counterculture back to a beatnik-hippie fringe. But it did leave liberalism in a curious place throughout the 1980s: atop the commanding heights of culture yet often impotent in Washington, D.C.”

The latter half of that sentence certainly sounds good, but those “commanding heights” Douthat referenced give the left plenty of power to cause fear and dread in their never-ending culture war. As with Trump before him, Richard Nixon was elected by the voters as the “law and order” president to bring order to the chaos caused by an out of control Democrat White House, but thanks to panicked and malaise-ridden nihilistic leftists, the pop culture pumped out by the media in the early 1970s as a response to his election was pretty much this, non-stop:

ROGER SIMON: The Stock Market vs. The Media: Who Do You Trust?

Today, as the Dow approaches 20,000, the Washington Post is moaning about the president-elect’s choosing too many generals for important positions, as if all military minds automatically think alike. The Post certainly wouldn’t say that about, say, Muslims. Nor would anybody who’d actually read a history book.

But never mind. Look at it this way. Whom would you trust — people who put their money where their mouths are (i.e. investors) or people who put their mouths where their mouths are? (Notice I didn’t pick another notable orifice. This is a family column and tries to set an example.)

Now, as well all know, past performance is not a… etc., etc., but things are looking remarkably good for the moment, which is upsetting our liberal media friends all the more. How’re they going to react if U.S. Steel CEO Mario Longhi actually does bring back 10,000 jobs, as he indicated on CNBC he might under the new Trump tax program? Oh, the vapors… the vapors. Lena Dunham may have to move to Canada after all.

Trump elected President, Canadians hardest hit.

BOB MCMANUS: Bring On The Mad Dog: President-elect Trump makes a sterling pick to head the Pentagon.

The nation has been at war for 15 years now, the last eight half-heartedly and with no appetite even for identifying the enemy, let alone engaging him aggressively. History will judge whether that’s the correct way for a great power to prosecute necessary conflicts in a complex and dangerous world, but for the short term, it’s clear that the Obama administration has produced a sanguinary shambles.

The Mideast boils. Russia, pushed out of the region by Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger more than 40 years ago, has returned and is ascendant. Afghanistan is in stalemate. Pakistan teeters. Half a world away, America is in retreat and, recognizing this, the president of the Philippines travels to China to cast his nation’s lot with Beijing, while Japan and South Korea silently wonder about American leadership.

So, too, does the nation’s hard-pressed military. It has performed brilliantly since the Twin Towers came down 15 years ago. But it has been depleted, if not exhausted, by budgetary sequestration, personnel reductions, and matériel shortfalls—and sorely vexed by wrongheaded, top-down social-justice activism.

Enter Mattis, a Marine Corps legend who was a little too tough on Iran for the outgoing administration’s tastes—hence his premature retirement—but who is now the president-elect’s pick to set things right at the Pentagon.

Trump’s best pick yet.

KIMBERLY STRASSEL: Democrats Send Their Regrets.

Cue Sinatra and “My Way.” That’s how former Senate leader Harry Reid, House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi and President Obama ruled for eight years. They planned each charted course, each careful step. Now, they’re not finding it so amusing.

Mr. Coons is regretting giving up his tool to stop Donald Trump’s march of reformers. It’s a cabinet parade of charter-school-lovers, and law-and-order prosecutors and tax-cutters and ObamaCare-slayers, of the sort to give a good Delaware liberal night sweats. There was a day when not one of these nominees could have hoped to squeeze past a Senate filibuster. But Mr. Reid did it his way, and Mr. Trump keeps tweeting.

Former veep candidate Tim Kaine in October threatened that Republicans would be really, really sorry if they tried use what filibuster tools were left against a Hillary Clinton Supreme Court nominee. If Republicans “stonewall,” then a “Democratic Senate majority will say we’re not going to let you thwart the law,” he declared in October. Incoming Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer is now regretting that belligerence, and insisting that the Supreme Court filibuster is inviolate, and that his party never did kill it, you know, and that should count for something, and . . . blah, blah, regrets.

It would be hard to stall the confirmation process, at least after Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s regretful September news conference, the one where she stood tall and hit Republicans for refusing to confirm Mr. Obama’s end-of-the-road nominee, Merrick Garland. “This is not just some TV show [like] ‘Eight is Enough.’ Eight is not enough on the United States Supreme Court,” she railed. She’s joined in regret by the activists behind those trendy Twitter campaigns: #weneednine. #doyourjob. Bring on Mr. Trump’s own Tweetbomb: #likeyousaid.

They have a lot to regret. They’ll have much more.

(You might find a way past WSJ’s paywall here.)

I’M NOT ON TWITTER MUCH ANYMORE, BUT IF YOU SPEAK MY NAME THREE TIMES I MAY JUST SHOW UP:

screen-shot-2016-11-29-at-5-43-49-pm

Well, when you wonder why people aren’t talking about things that you’re really upset about, maybe it’s because they don’t find them upsetting.

I don’t think that any of Trump’s appointments are “disastrous.” Sessions as AG wouldn’t be my first choice (that would probably be Randy Barnett, which is why I’m not the President-Elect) but for Trump he’s an excellent pick and will do what Trump wants — and do it more honestly than Eric Holder or Loretta Lynch, not that that’s setting the bar very high.

Likewise, I’d have preferred John Allison as Treasury Secretary over Steve Mnuchin. But is Mnuchin “disastrous?”

DeVos as Education Secretary, again, not my first choice — I’d prefer someone who was more focused on higher-ed reform, but that’s just my hobbyhorse — but a fine pick with a strong focus on K-12 reform, which to be honest, hobbyhorse aside, probably needs it more. Who else is “disastrous?” Elaine Chao? Please.

As for “Twitter meltdowns,” where have you been for the past two years? This is what Trump does, and it neither hurts him nor forecasts what he’s actually going to do. You’re being trolled and it’s working. Trump has basically lured Democrats (and a few #NeverTrump Republicans) into defending flag-burning, and reminded people of Hillary’s position in 2005. Sure, the idea is dumb and unconstitutional (as I said yesterday), but it’s a tweet, not a piece of legislation. And it also brings attention to the fact that the Dems haven’t been exactly friendly to people’s First Amendment rights on issues they care about. Now they have to publicly argue that you should go to jail for not baking a gay wedding cake, but not for burning a flag. To the surprise of many Democrats, this turns out not to be the popular position.

So who, exactly, is crazy here?

So there you are. And whatever you do, don’t feed me after midnight.

UPDATE: Hi, Ed!

WHAT’S SAD IS, I’VE ALWAYS THOUGHT OF GEORGE MASON AS LESS P.C. THAN AVERAGE: George Mason Needs To Get A Grip.

My school, George Mason University, has been triggered.

I know this from the seven — yes, seven — university administration emails I received in less than 24 hours advertising forums described as “post-election conversations” and “healing spaces.” These forums are offered as “a space for students to gather in the wake” of the election to “discuss and make sense of the outcomes.” Counselors from the university’s Counseling and Psychological Services will be available for “students wishing to discuss the recent election results in a safe environment.”

Although “snacks and refreshments” will be provided, the emails say nothing in the way of binkies or diapers; students may need to bring their own.

Okay, fine, I should not joke. There are, after all, some very sinister undertones hidden in these emails.

First, let’s strip these forums of all pretext: such “post-election conversations” are intended for those unhappy with Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s victory. I can only speculate, but I think it is safe to assume the university would not take such ridiculous measures had Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton won. Professors would have outwardly exalted checking off the “madam president” box, students would have celebrated preserving our nation’s indifference to abortion, and much of George Mason would have been cheering what conservatives view as the destruction of individual liberty.

Moreover, such sweeping liberal changes would have bolstered left-wing hubris, giving conservative Americans ample reason to fear for their freedom, beliefs and even personal safety. Just ask David Wilcox, Omar Mahmood, Jade Armenio, Ben Shapiro, the North Carolina and Delaware GOP or these Republicans. Given past edicts of the Democratic Party (e.g., providing space to “those who wished to destroy”) and the viciously anti-conservative censorship culture on most of America’s college campuses, it is not at all clear conservatives would have been safe to disagree.

So, yes, conservatives were completely justified in fearing a President Clinton.

With their true purpose exposed, however, George Mason’s “post-election conversations” become even more disturbing. . . .

Conservatives have suffered many disheartening setbacks in the past few years, many of which kept us up at night in worry and anger. Yet we saw no comforting emails from administrators or invitations to use “special resources” (not that we would have used them; we value our dignity). Rather, we were left to endure the harassment, intimidation and death threats all by ourselves. And we’re still here and still going strong.

Students and faculty and George Mason: get a grip.

Couldn’t have said it better myself.

And let me note that, even though I’m at a state university in a conservative state, a university that has a green-light rating from FIRE for free speech, I’ve had lots of conservative students say they’re afraid to speak out, whether in support of Trump or on other topics.

And the author of this piece, Thomas Wheatley, is a law student at George Mason. I hope that more students will be inspired to push back against these double standards at their own schools.

VICTOR DAVIS HANSON ON HILLARY & BILL CLINTON: GREED, CORRUPTION, POWER, CYNICISM, ENDLESSLY:

Why did multimillionaire Hillary charge UCLA, in the era of thousands of indebted students, $300,000 (rather than, say, $149,999.99) for a brief, platitudinous speech? Why did multimillionaire Bill need more than $17 million for being honorary “chancellor” of the financially for-profit but tottering Laureate University (whose spin-off associate organization was a recipient of State Department largesse)? Did he think the extra millions were worth the embarrassment of being the highest-paid and least-busy college executive in U.S. history?

Apparently, the good life did not drive the Clintons so much as the quest for the supposed best life. Even though they had finally “made it” among the multimillionaire set, the Clintons always saw others (no doubt, deemed by them less deserving) with far, far more — whether Jeffery Epstein, with his ability to jet wherever and with whomever he pleased, or green half-a-billionaire Al Gore, who ran even more successful cons, such as rapidly selling a worthless cable TV station to beat impending capital-gains taxes, and selling it to none other than the anti-Semitic Al Jazeera, whose carbon-generated profits come from autocratic Qatar. (The media never audited Gore’s attempt to become a cable mogul, unlike their current concerns about a potential Trump media outlet).

The rich did not pressure the Clintons for paid favors as much as they sought out the Clintons as targets for graft. They certainly understand and smile at Hillary’s boilerplate promise of “making the rich pay their fair share” — the mantra of those who are worth over $100 million and immune from the impact of any tax hikes, or, for that matter, immune from any consequences whatsoever of their own ideology.

The Clintons suffer from greed, as defined by Aristotle: endless acquisition solely for the benefit of self. With their insatiable appetites, they resented the limits that multimillionaire status put on them, boundaries they could bypass only by accumulating ever greater riches. The billion-dollar foundation squared the circle of progressive politicians profiting from the public purse by offering a veneer of “doing good” while offering free luxury travel commensurate with the style of the global rich, by offering sinecures for their loyal but otherwise unemployable cronies, and by spinning off lobbying and speaking fees (the original font of their $100-million-plus personal fortune and the likely reason for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s decision to put all her communications, mercantile included, on a private server safe from government scrutiny). Acquiring money to the extent that money would become superfluous was certainly a Clinton telos — and the subtext of the entire Podesta trove and the disclosures about the Clinton Foundation.

Power and pride were the other catalyst for Clinton criminality. I don’t think progressive politics mattered much to the Clintons, at least compared with what drives the more sincere Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. Hillary, like Bill, has no real political beliefs — though she doesn’t hesitate to pursue a mostly opportunistic progressive political agenda. By temperament and background, the Clintons are leftists and will follow a leftist vision, sort of, but one predicated on doing so within the constraints of obtaining and keeping power.

Read the whole thing, and though I rarely argue with VDH, I’m not at all sure that “Hillary, like Bill, has no real political beliefs.” In 1992, Bill opportunistically campaigned to George H.W. Bush’s right, then initially governed to his left during his disastrous, Obama-esque first two years in office. But once the GOP retook both houses of Congress in 1994, Dick Morris correctly determined that triangulating off Republican policies was the key to reelection, thus bringing us the happy fun 1990s we all remember.

But like Al Gore, Hillary is much more of a determined leftist—and arguably even more so than Al, she’s certain she know what’s best for both you and your family. If elected, she’ll no doubt seek to implement much of her own vision of the anointed (to coin a phrase), no matter how much she’s personally loathed by both the far left and the right.

It’s for your own good and the common good of the village, after all.

DISPATCHES FROM THE MEMORY HOLE, PART ONE:

Shot:

If you’ve been paying any attention at all to the election coverage in the nation’s largest newspapers and on cable TV, you have likely found yourself a bit exasperated at how events from the campaign trail have been covered. Much of that comes from editorial bias in story selection, but more than a little is caused by the obvious bias inherent in the “explanations” of the stories which do make it into print or on the air. But it seems that the journalists aren’t too happy either. Some of them feel constrained by the musty, dusty old rules of engagement in the news game. Keep in mind that we’re not talking about “opinion journalists” like Hannity or Maddow here, but the reporters who are supposed to be covering the stories for us with all of the who, where, when, what and how details. When it comes to politics such things can be hard to define, as politicians employ greater and greater amounts of spin in their stump speeches and debate performances.

Marc Ambinder feels their pain and brings us an opinion piece at USA Today this week in which he calls for new rules of journalism. Under these revised guidelines, reporters should feel free to correct what they perceive as errors on the part of the candidates on the fly.

—“The Left is ushering in ‘new rules of journalism’ because of Donald Trump,” Jazz Shaw, Hot Air, November 1st.

Chaser:

As I wrote last month in “The Rise of the John Birch Left:”

The original Birchers weren’t bad people, but their Cold War paranoia got the better of them. Similarly, as Charles Krauthammer famously said, “To understand the workings of American politics, you have to understand this fundamental law: Conservatives think liberals are stupid. Liberals think conservatives are evil,” which illustrates how a John Birch-style worldview can cause the modern leftists to take an equally cracked view of his fellow countrymen…

…Which brings us today to Marc Ambinder, who according to Wikipedia is a former White House correspondent at the National Journal, contributing editor at GQ and the Atlantic, and editor-at-large at The Week, where he blows the battle trumpet, Col. Kilgore-style: “Why Democrats should treat Republicans like their mortal enemy.”

* * * * * * *

I missed the memo though: When did Democrats stop treating Republicans like their mortal enemy?

“You Went Full Bircher, Man. Never Go Full Bircher,” Ed Driscoll.com, December 3rd, 2014.

Meet the “new” rules of journalism — just the same as the old rules of journalism. Think of the MSM as Democrat operatives with bylines, and it all makes sense.

PLEASE LET IT BE TRUE: This Is The Least Important Election Of Our Lifetimes.

David Harsanyi:

Yes, government’s increasing involvement in the economic and moral lives of citizens have made political stakes high. It’s true that 2016 features the two suckiest candidates probably ever. It’s also true that our collective vision of the American project has frayed, perhaps beyond repair. With the intense scrutiny of contemporary political coverage, more people are invested in the daily grind of elections, which intensifies the sting of losing. This anger compounds every cycle (although winning brings its own disappointment with its unfulfilled promises).

That’s not to say our constitutional republic isn’t slowly dying. It probably is. This condition isn’t contingent on an election’s outcome, but on widespread problems with our institutions, politics, and voters. Whatever you believe the future of governance should look like, one election is not going make or break it.

During yesterday’s Right Angle taping, Bill Whittle argued that while Trump isn’t a cure, he might at least be a tourniquet.

A POSSIBLE GAME-CHANGER FOR TRUMP: Has the Hillary Hack Happened?

Noah Rothman reports:

According to documents released by the FBI on Monday, it is possible that classified information on Clinton’s server was compromised by longtime family associate Sidney Blumenthal and that information could have found its way onto a Romanian server.

“The search uncovered hundreds of files that the witness believed to be from Sidney Blumenthal’s server on a server in Romania,” reported LawNewz’s Chris White, citing FBI documents. “These files included Microsoft Word, Excel, and other documents, but no emails. Blumenthal’s email account was breached by the Romanian hacker Guccifer.” The hacker “Guccifer” is believed by the U.S. intelligence community to be a construct created by Russian military intelligence.

According to the source who spoke with the FBI, the documents housed on a foreign server contained one “sensitive” file listing the names of potentially active Islamist insurgents in Libya. The FBI’s source said the email did not originate on Blumenthal’s end and “contained a reference to an IP address range that included the IP address of Clinton’s server.”

It would be poetic justice if it was Sidney Blumenthal, who has done more than almost anyone to enable the Clintons, ended up being the one to inadvertently bring down Hillary.

MY USA TODAY COLUMN: Would Trump nominate Peter Thiel to the Supreme Court? He’d offer diversity! “Thiel would bring diversity to the Court — Thiel, a graduate of Stanford Law School, would be the only member of the Court not from Harvard or Yale, and he’d also be the only openly gay member of the Court. More significantly, he’s a libertarian — there was lots of support for the idea of a Thiel appointment from the Cato crowd, which is also libertarian — and, unlike other justices, he would come to the Court with a degree of real-world experience unmatched by any appointee in my lifetime.”

THE HILL: White House defends vetting process for Syrian refugees.

The White House on Monday defended the Obama administration’s decision and vetting process for admitting 10,000 Syrian refugees into the United States.

“This administration did succeed in meeting this goal: a significant ramping up of the number of Syrian refugees to the United States. And we were able to do all of that without cutting any corners when it comes to security,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Monday.

“And significant screening was put in place to ensure that these individuals don’t pose an undue threat to our national security.”

The Obama administration will hit its goal of bringing in 10,000 Syrian refugees on Monday, clearing the self-imposed benchmark more than a month before its deadline.

The milestone comes amid heightened opposition to allowing Syrian refugees into the country from congressional Republicans and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

Earnest defended the administration’s vetting process on Monday when asked how the administration would reassure people concerned that a potentially radicalized person could get into the country. The reporter who asked the question used the term “extreme vetting.”

“I think that was a term that might have been used by somebody who doesn’t currently work in the U.S. government,” Earnest responded.

“I’ll stop there.”

In an Aug. 15 speech, Trump proposed creating a system of “extreme vetting” to ensure that the country allows in only “those who share our values and respect our people.”

On Monday, Earnest said the vetting process typically takes “quite a bit of time.”

They take longer to “vet” documents for FOIA requests.

WHEN DO WE FIND OUT HE PUT A DOG CARRIER ON THE ROOF OF HIS CAR?

Shot: WashPost Expose: A Young Trump Pulled on Pigtails, Threw Rocks.

NewsBusters, today.

Chaser:  Romney hair-cutting prank: School leaders say similar incidents today would bring punishment.

—The Washington Post, May 11th, 2012.

I always enjoy NFL games where they break out the old throwback uniforms, so it’s nice to see the Washington Post still using the same playbook from the days of leather helmets and the single-wing formation.

ROGER KIMBALL: Was Last Night the Turning Point in Trump’s Campaign?

Last night’s speech was significant for several reasons. Substantively, it hammered home a truth that is as uncomfortable as it necessary to acknolwedge: that the dreadful plight of Black Americans is largely the creation of Democrats.

Aside: in a rare obeisance to political correctness, Trump consistently referred to “African-Americans.” Perhaps that is politically expedient. But I believe it is patronizing. As Teddy Rooseventl observed, “hyphenated-Americans” are a threat to the integrity of the country. We are not Irish-Americans or German-American or African-Americans (a term that is especially bizarre because it is applied indiscriminately to certain dark-skinned people: Jamaica, for example, is not part of Africa). We are simply Americans whose ancestors happen to be from Ireland, Germany, Kenya, or wherever.

But back to that perhaps startling claim about Democrats being largely responsible for the plight of Black Americans. Donald Trump is quite correct: “Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party have taken African-American votes totally for granted.” Until now, anyway, the Black vote has run according to the Democratic script.

What is that script? Lyndon Johnson articulated it in its purest, as well as its crassest, form when, in 1964, he remarked to two like-minded Democratic governors that with his Great Society programs, “I’ll have those niggers voting Democratic for the next 200 years.”

It hasn’t been 200 years, yet, but for the last fifty years, as patronizing Democratic programs stifled freedom and individual initiative and erected an increasingly burdensome (and expensive) governmental cocoon around their minority charges, the Black vote has been largely in the pocket of its new plantation owners.

The “Great Society” did not abolish poverty. That was never the intention. It institutionalized poverty, creating along the way an engorging bureaucracy that was a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Democratic party. As Trump pointed out in his speech in Milwaukee earlier this week, all of the nation’s failed cities–Detroit, Baltimore, Chicago, Oakland, Memphis, Milwaukee itself–have been under Democratic control for decades. Milwaukee, for example, has been Democratic since 1908. Do you suppose that there is a connection between the disasters—the poverty, the crime, the corruption—that have engulfed these cities and the political complexion of their leadership? Or is it merely fortuitous? To ask the question is to answer it.

Regular readers know that I have found find a lot to criticize about Donald Trump. I stand by those criticisms. But I also acknowledge a new note in Trump’s campaign. His speeches of the last couple of weeks have outlined with clarity and conviction that he is serious about bringing about significant change.

Well, stay tuned. The addition of Kellyanne Conway seems to be making a difference.

HEY, WHY IS OBAMA SO RACIST? “As Twitchy readers know, one newspaper has begged President Obama to stop golfing and start focusing on Baton Rouge. But, hey, he’s got vacationing to do and stuff!”

Related: Where’s Obama? Hillary? Trump? This would be a perfect opportunity for Trump to end run Hillary and our semi-retired president on this issue, but as Rod Dreher writes, “Let’s check out Donald Trump’s statements in the same period of time. He’s said nothing to the media. On Twitter, where he is famously logorrheic, he has sent out 35 tweets since Friday. Number of tweets that mention the Louisiana disaster: zero. Number of tweets that gripe about media bias: ten.”

Sad! And more than a little pathetic, considering the opportunity both for his campaign, and prospect of bringing increased media attention to the disaster, just by campaigning in Louisiana or pounding Obama and Hillary for dropping the ball in his speeches.

TWO MORE DETAILS on this morning’s Trump campaign reshuffle:

“I want to win,” Trump told the Wall Street Journal. “That’s why I’m bringing on fantastic people who know how to win and love to win.”

“Buckle up,” wrote a Trump strategist in a text message Wednesday to The Washington Post.

If this is the start of some professional, traditional campaigning, then that would be a welcome change.

THE HILL: Former NY gov: Clinton shouldn’t have taken ‘victory lap’ after email report.

Former governor of New York and state Democratic Party Chairman David Paterson said his party’s presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, could have handled the FBI and Justice Department’s decision on her use of a private email server with more humility.

Paterson told radio host John Catsimatidis on “The Cats Roundtable” on Sunday that Clinton could have used the FBI and Justice Department’s decision not to bring charges against her as another chance to try to right the scandal.

“When the attorney general absolved Hillary Clinton and said that there were no criminal penalties that she would be held accountable for, she goes and basically takes a victory lap with President Obama,” Paterson said.

“What if Hillary Clinton had a press conference and said, ‘You know something? I am really happy that there are no criminal charges being levied against me, but I recognize I did a lot of things wrong. I used poor judgment, and I want the voters to know that I have learned a lesson from this situation, and I will never be in violation this way again’? ” he said. “I think that would have been a much better message than what went on that day.”

Paterson also lauded current New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Democratic National Convention speech, saying it showed an ability to work with Republicans.

Hillary is no more capable of admitting error than Trump.

NEO-NEOCON ON TRUMP AND THE “SECOND AMENDMENT PEOPLE:”

Trump is the opposite of too careful. That’s one of the things his followers love about him. He’s like a jazz musician, riffing on his favorite themes. He draws energy from the laughter and appreciation of the adoring crowds who regularly turn out for him, and you can see his delight in their delight at an especially bold improv.

So maybe this remark was that. Maybe it was a bad joke about assassination. Or maybe it was actually more innocuous than that. But one thing I do know is that Trump’s method of political address sets him up for such ambiguous, easily misunderstood, poorly-constructed and/or impulsive and controversial statements.

* * * * * * *

Speaking of what our current president said during his campaign, remember bringing the gun to the knife fight? It didn’t matter with Obama, because his surface demeanor is such that people were inclined to give the most benign and metaphoric interpretation to what he said.

Which was rather easy to accomplish when the entire DNC-MSM was engaged in Orwellian levels of obfuscation to tamp down his rhetoric and hide his background.

THE HILL: Dem Anxiety Hangs Over Clinton:

Democrats are worried about Hillary Clinton’s inability to separate herself from Donald Trump in the polls, even after what they believe was a largely successful convention that represented a real step toward party unity.

Clinton is hoping for a big post-convention boost, but the reality right now is that she in behind Trump in the polls, and has been in a relatively tight race for weeks.

While the Electoral College may give her an advantage, party leaders and strategists say they remain concerned that Clinton is a tough sell when a majority of Americans think the country is on the wrong track and want to shake up Washington.

“The most important thing is there is a bias for change and there’s an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll where people express that bias even when they don’t know what the change is going to be,” said Geoff Garin, a pollster who worked for Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign and now advises Priorities USA, a pro-Clinton super PAC.

That July survey showed a majority of voters, 56 percent, prefer someone who will bring major changes to government even if they don’t know what those changes will be. Only 46 percent wanted a candidate who would bring a steady approach to government.

It helps explain Trump’s success, and the strong challenge to Clinton in the Democratic primary from Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Away from the hoopla of the Wells Fargo, Democratic officials and strategists say it’s a major concern.

“I’m nervous. The country is in a bad mood. It’s such an unpredictable year,” said a Democratic National Committee official who requested anonymity to speak frankly about Clinton’s prospects.

Other concerns include the possibility of an enthusiasm gap between Republicans and Democrats — Trump got more votes in the GOP primary than any candidate in history while Hillary received fewer votes than she did in 2008 when she lost — and a possible “October surprise.”

One labor official fretted that more hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee may surface later in the campaign and hurt Hillary.

I think there’ll be something. But her biggest weakness is that she’s most popular when she’s not in the news, and it’s hard to run a campaign that way.

IN THIS BANANA REPUBLIC, MRS. CLINTON COULDN’T GET INDICTED IF SHE TRIED, Kevin D. Williamson writes, comparing James Comey’s “oogedy-boogedy about how she didn’t really break the law” with the career-ending fates of Republicans Tom DeLay and Rick Perry:

DeLay and Perry were indicted in Travis County, Texas, which is run by Democrats who like to make ritual sacrifices of the occasional Republican politician. They know that they can do this with no fear of sanction from, say, Barack Obama’s Justice Department. The Democratic party in Texas is a criminal enterprise (my friend Michael Walsh describes the Democrats at large as a crime syndicate masquerading as a political party, which isn’t inaccurate) that is sustained by corruption and old-fashioned ward politics that would have been familiar to a Chicago boss in the 1920s or a denizen of Tammany Hall. The Democrats happen to run Washington, too, which is why Hillary Rodham Clinton knows that she can violate the law, at will, for obvious personal political reasons, with very little fear of official sanction. And the fact is, the Democrats prefer their politicians a little crooked, a little dirty. It helps them, a Chavista party constrained mainly by the temperamental (rather than ideological) conservatism of the American electorate, to make up in viciousness what they lack in policy ideas appropriate to the 21st century.

That lack of policy ideas isn’t really very important. The Left isn’t interested in policy; it is interested in power, and the things you can do with it, meaning rewarding one’s friends and punishing one’s enemies. Barack Obama has been, in his less guarded moments, fairly plain about that. For the Left, all justice is Wonderland justice: decision first, arguments afterward as necessary. There is seldom if ever any doubt about how the so-called liberals on the Supreme Court (who are not liberals at all) will vote on any question: They will vote the way the Left wants them to. Elena Kagan, you may recall, testified in her confirmation hearings that there is no constitutional right to same-sex marriage lurking in the penumbras to be discovered. Once confirmed, she reached a little deeper and pulled one out. Conservatives can never really guess which way a Kennedy or a Roberts is going to come down on a question, but you know how the judges of the Left are going to vote. Arguments do not matter; only outcomes matter.

Which brings us to this charming quote from Ruth Bader Ginsburg: “It’s likely that the next president, whoever she will be, will have a few appointments to make.” The article containing it is headlined, “AP interview: Ginsburg doesn’t want to envision a Trump win.”

As with Nixon in ’68, I suspect after last night, a lot more people are envisioning it. Or as this post from May by John Hinderaker at Power Line was headlined, “Electing Trump, One Riot at a Time.”

THE HILL: Poll: Clinton holds slight lead in key battleground states.

Hillary Clinton holds a slight lead over Donald Trump in several battleground states, according to a new CBS News battleground tracker poll.

Clinton leads Trump in Florida, 44 to 41 percent. In Colorado, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee has a 1-point lead over Trump, 40 to 39 percent.

In Wisconsin, Clinton holds a 5-point lead over the presumptive GOP nominee, 41 to 36 percent, and in North Carolina, she has a 2-point lead, 44 to 42 percent.

Respondents said Clinton is more prepared to be the country’s commander in chief. But Trump is seen as being more likely to bring change to Washington and to be able to fix the economy.

Trump needs to keep repeating his “terrifyingly effective” attack speech on Hillary.

DONALD TRUMP ON BREXIT:

Statement Regarding British Referendum on E.U. Membership

The people of the United Kingdom have exercised the sacred right of all free peoples. They have declared their independence from the European Union, and have voted to reassert control over their own politics, borders and economy. A Trump Administration pledges to strengthen our ties with a free and independent Britain, deepening our bonds in commerce, culture and mutual defense. The whole world is more peaceful and stable when our two countries – and our two peoples – are united together, as they will be under a Trump Administration.

Come November, the American people will have the chance to re-declare their independence. Americans will have a chance to vote for trade, immigration and foreign policies that put our citizens first. They will have the chance to reject today’s rule by the global elite, and to embrace real change that delivers a government of, by and for the people. I hope America is watching, it will soon be time to believe in America again.

Love the implicit contrast with Obama’s Anglophobia.

UPDATE: From the comments: “In a room somewhere in New York Hillary Clinton watched today’s Trump presser from Turnberry and emailed her staff to bring her another gin and tonic.”

TRUMP HAMMERS HILLARY SO HARD THAT EVEN BEN SHAPIRO IS APPLAUDING:

Trump, with his unerring instinct for the identifying the growling beast within us all, understands that Americans don’t trust Hillary for one crucial reason: they think, correctly, that she’s out for herself. And he hit this point over and over in his well-crafted (!) speech. Trump first had to position himself as an altruistic candidate driven by concern for country, which he did in lackluster fashion. But when he turned his guns on Hillary, he hit paydirt. He called Hillary a “world class liar,” concluding, “Brian Williams’ career was destroyed” for lesser lies than Hillary has told.

He slammed Hillary for her corruption. “Hillary Clinton has perfected the politics of personal profit and theft,” he said. “She ran the State Department like her own personal hedge fund – doing favors for oppressive regimes, and many others, in exchange for cash.” He added, “She gets rich making you poor.”

Yes. Yes, yes, and yes.

He rightly attacked Hillary’s foreign policy:

The Hillary Clinton foreign policy has cost America thousands of lives and trillions of dollars – and unleashed ISIS across the world. No Secretary of State has been more wrong, more often, and in more places than Hillary Clinton. Her decisions spread death, destruction and terrorism everywhere she touched. Among the victims is our late Ambassador, Chris Stevens….She started the war that put him in Libya, denied him the security he asked for, then left him there to die. To cover her tracks, Hillary lied about a video being the cause of his death.

He added:

Perhaps the most terrifying thing about Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy is that she refuses to acknowledge the threat posed by Radical Islam…. I only want to admit people who share our values and love our people. Hillary Clinton wants to bring in people who believe women should be enslaved and gays put to death.

Excellent stuff.

And here’s Trump on Hillary’s private email server:

Then there are the 33,000 emails she deleted. While we may not know what is in those deleted emails, our enemies probably do. So they probably now have a blackmail file over someone who wants to be President of the United States. This fact alone disqualifies her from the Presidency. We can’t hand over our government to someone whose deepest, darkest secrets may be in the hands of our enemies.

The best line of the speech, by a long shot, was this one: “She believes she is entitled to the office. Her campaign slogan is ‘I’m with her.’ You know what my response to that is? I’m with you: the American people. She thinks it’s all about her. I know it’s all about you – I know it’s all about making America Great Again for All Americans.”

This goes right to the heart of Hillary’s failures as a candidate.

Yes, it does.

KURT SCHLICHTER: So, What Difference Does It Make?

Nothing matters. No one cares. LOL.

Do you know why Donald Trump is defying the odds, defying the predictions of doom and defeat? Yes, by the time this runs, the people gleefully thinking that the tempest in the margarita glass that is the whole Trump U judge thing will FINALLY BRING DONALD DOWN! are going to realize, once again, that nothing matters.

No one cares.

LOL.

Someone else came up with the “Nothing matters. LOL” formulation to describe this election year, and he deserves a nice shiny quarter, unless he is a Hillary Clinton fan in which case someone should smack him for supporting that cancer on our Constitution.

And he can also thank himself and his idiot ilk for helping bring us to this point. Without the avalanche of distraction, hypocrisy, willful ignorance, and outright lies that the liberal elite and their human centipede press corps employed over the last few decades to ensure their corrupt, mouth-breathing, and/or perverted Democrat heroes are never held accountable, Trump would not be possible. We might still care about quaint things like character, competence, and not being a loathsome piece of human refuse.

But we don’t. Not anymore.

Hillary’s formulation of “Nothing matters, no one cares” is just a little different. For her, it’s “What difference, at this point, does it make?” You know, that comment she made when some congressmen – not including any Democrats – tried to hold her to account for getting four Americans killed and lying to not only their families’ faces but to our faces about it.

And the people who aren’t in Hillary’s trick bag are supposed to care that Trump’s a jerk?

They don’t, by and large. Sure, Trump makes what we conservatives all agree is a distasteful comment insinuating that a federal judge’s rulings would be governed by an inherited characteristic, in this case his ethnicity. The mainstream media goes nuts at how horrible Trump is for assuming that an inherited characteristic might govern someone’s actions in public office. Then a day later, the media experiences a collective climax over the fact that a woman has been nominated, and they think it’s great because that inherited characteristic will govern her actions in public office.

When the “have you no decency?” crowd demonstrates an utter lack of decency every single day, its complaints lose their sting.

SEAN TRENDE: Trump, and the Punditry’s Scary Groupthink.

I believe that most people in my Twitter feed, left and right, don’t know many genuine Trump supporters, if any. I can count two, maybe three among my Facebook friends, and I went to high school in Oklahoma. It’s the exact problem I discussed back in January: There’s a cosmopolitan vs. traditionalist divide that runs through our politics, with cultural cosmopolitans running both parties.

The fact that Trump is so firmly positioning himself against those cosmopolitans, more so than any national politician since Ronald Reagan, makes it difficult to evaluate his campaign, and deprives us of the conversation we need, because for the first time in a long time, a major party candidate isn’t really trying to curry favor with opinion leaders.

None of this is to say that Trump will win. I would not at all be surprised if Trump implodes before autumn, or next week for that matter. Clinton really could bring home the Sanders voters, and the remaining NeverTrumpers could prove intransigent. President Obama’s popularity could continue to rise. Democrats will undoubtedly sharpen their attacks. All other things being equal, I still think there’s probably a 70 percent chance of Clinton winning.

But I will confess it is really difficult to sort out how much of this is a dispassionate analysis of the data.

I have no idea who will win, or how good Trump’s chances are, but I agree about the pundit groupthink. And I confess to being amazed at how many people seem to think Trump is Hitler. He’s basically running a 1970s rust-belt Democrat campaign, which is getting traction because in the current economy, a lot more of America feels rust-beltish.

But if Trump is Hitler, it means our elites of politics and journalism rubbed shoulders with Hitler, stayed at his beach place, flew on his jet, and sponsored his TV shows for decades without noticing. Which doesn’t say much for our elites of politics and journalism either.

WAR ON COLLEGE MEN UPDATE: Police determined the rape accusation was ‘unfounded,’ but school punished him anyway.

A Lynn University student is suing his school after he was suspended for one year for allegedly sexually assaulting a female student.

The suing student, identified in court documents as John Doe, attended a party while a freshmen where underage drinking was occurring. There he met a female student (who I’m not naming because she’s not being sued and I’m not naming the accused) and the two began talking. Doe’s lawsuit contends that she “showed no signs of being intoxicated.”

Around 8:30 p.m. that night, the two met in a dorm room and had sex. Again, Doe’s lawsuit claims she showed no signs of intoxication and was a willing participant in the activity. But the next day, she filed a rape complaint with campus security. Police noticed she did not use the word “rape” when they interviewed her. After a more complete investigation, including campus surveillance videos, they not only determined the accusation to be “unfounded” but also that the accuser did not seem at all intoxicated. They declined to bring charges.

That didn’t stop Lynn University from putting Doe through a disciplinary hearing in which he was not allowed an attorney, contrary to school policy. The accuser’s attorney (she was allowed one) was permitted to review the campus surveillance videos and have multiple private communications with campus investigators, the accuser’s mother and potential witnesses. The accuser’s attorney was also allowed to answer questions for her and intervene in the proceedings.

Doe’s mother, who acted as his adviser since he wasn’t allowed legal representation, was not allowed to speak.

The mere existence of such policies makes Lynn University a hostile educational environment for men. Expect President Trump’s Education Secretary to look into that. . . .

WELL, THERE’S AN ENGINEERED DROUGHT: “Donald Trump tells Californians there is no drought,” USA Today misleadingly claims in their headline:

California suffered one of its driest years in 2015. And last year the state hit its driest four-year period on record.

But Donald Trump isn’t sold. The presumptive GOP nominee told supporters in Fresno, Calif., on Friday night that no such dry spell exists.

Trump said state officials were simply denying water to Central Valley farmers to prioritize the Delta smelt, a native California fish nearing extinction — or as Trump called it, “a certain kind of three-inch fish.”

“We’re going to solve your water problem. You have a water problem that is so insane. It is so ridiculous where they’re taking the water and shoving it out to sea,” Trump told thousands of supporters at the campaign event.

Analysis: True. Or as Victor Davis Hanson noted at City Journal last year in a piece titled “An Engineered Drought:”

[Jerry] Brown and other Democratic leaders will never concede that their own opposition in the 1970s (when California had about half its present population) to the completion of state and federal water projects, along with their more recent allowance of massive water diversions for fish and river enhancement, left no margin for error in a state now home to 40 million people. Second, the mandated restrictions will bring home another truth as lawns die, pools empty, and boutique gardens shrivel in the coastal corridor from La Jolla to Berkeley: the very idea of a 20-million-person corridor along the narrow, scenic Pacific Ocean and adjoining foothills is just as unnatural as “big” agriculture’s Westside farming. The weather, climate, lifestyle, views, and culture of coastal living may all be spectacular, but the arid Los Angeles and San Francisco Bay-area megalopolises must rely on massive water transfers from the Sierra Nevada, Northern California, or out-of-state sources to support their unnatural ecosystems.

And note this in the USA Today piece:

edmund_brown_usa_today_5-28-16

Most people just call him Jerry, but to each his own, I guess. More from USA Today:

Meanwhile, the powerful farm lobby is trying to secure federal and state approval for billions of dollars to create new water tunnels, dams and other projects.

At least we know where Trump stands on the issue: “If I win, believe me, we’re going to start opening up the water so that you can have your farmers survive.”

Note how USA Today’s 20-something Steph Solis makes that sound like it’s a bad thing in her mind.

PAST PERFORMANCE IS NO GUARANTEE OF FUTURE RESULTS:

Trump consistency about being inconsistent seems almost calculated to destroy the accountability that comes with being interviewed. It has already managed to displace the usual policy wonkery and debate of issues with something showier and more grand. A Trump political rally seeks to focus collective emotions, not make reasoned cases for one set of policies over another. To borrow a page from the rhetoricians, Trump rejects logos (the appeal to reason) when making his pitch and goes directly to pathos (the appeal to emotion) as he strives to elicit tears, laughter, and ultimately agreement from his supporters.

In dismissing logic and consistency for pure emotion, Trump has created a powerful reality-distortion field in both politics and journalism. The field doesn’t actually permit Trump to “get away with” lying in interviews: If you query his supporters, most will concede their man’s many fibs. In their minds, though, the “truth” matters less than what’s in Trump’s heart. It’s not that truth and fact don’t matter to them—it’s that truth and facts don’t matter enough to affect whether you want to vote for him. In an environment in which political success is almost totally detached from information, the “truth-finding” interview is becoming one of the first casualties.

By rejecting the authority of the press to judge him, Trump has debilitated if not destroyed the power of the interview, befuddling a press corps that still believes it can bring him down with one more gotcha, one more “Pinocchio”, one more “Pants On Fire” from the fact-checkers. Trump is laughing at them now.

— “How Donald Trump Destroyed the Interview—A century-old political institution may have met its match,” Jack Shafer, the Politico, yesterday.

In 1993, novelist Michael Crichton riled the news business with a Wired magazine essay titled “Mediasaurus,” in which he prophesied the death of the mass media—specifically the New York Times and the commercial networks. “Vanished, without a trace,” he wrote.

The mediasaurs had about a decade to live, he wrote, before technological advances—”artificial intelligence agents roaming the databases, downloading stuff I am interested in, and assembling for me a front page”—swept them under. Shedding no tears, Crichton wrote that the shoddy mass media deserved its deadly fate.

“[T]he American media produce a product of very poor quality,” he lectured. “Its information is not reliable, it has too much chrome and glitz, its doors rattle, it breaks down almost immediately, and it’s sold without warranty. It’s flashy but it’s basically junk.”

* * * * * * * *

As we pass his prediction’s 15-year anniversary, I’ve got to declare advantage Crichton. Rot afflicts the newspaper industry, which is shedding staff, circulation, and revenues. It’s gotten so bad in newspaperville that some people want Google to buy the Times and run it as a charity! Evening news viewership continues to evaporate, and while the mass media aren’t going extinct tomorrow, Crichton’s original observations about the media future now ring more true than false. Ask any journalist.

“Michael Crichton, Vindicated — His 1993 prediction of mass-media extinction now looks on target,” Jack Shafer, Slate, May 29 2008.

Related:

Consider, after all, the last month in politics. Recently, news stories noted that a White House guest rapper, paroled on a pending felony charge, had his ankle bracelet go off. The White House deputy national security advisor and senior speechwriter Ben Rhodes bragged about how he more or less lied and perpetuated a con to ram through the Iran deal without Senate oversight. Former Obama speechwriters joked on television about writing the lie, “If you like your insurance, you can keep it.” Obama himself threatened to cut off federal funds to states that did not share his reinterpretation of the 1972 Title IX Amendments to include bathroom access of their choice for the transgendered. Meanwhile, the FBI weighs a federal felony indictment against Hillary Clinton, just as stories have resurfaced of Bill Clinton’s frequent and unescorted flights on convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein notorious “Lolita Express.” If that is a typical month in the life of the current administration and ongoing presidential campaign, then what exactly are the norms by which we can judge Trump as a renegade?  The proper critique of Trump is that he would not restore decorum to political discourse and behavior that long ago were debased.

“Why Republicans Will Vote For Trump,” Victor Davis Hanson, the Hoover Institute, Tuesday.

THE OMERTA OLYMPICS, as refereed by Mickey Kaus: “Even apolitical owners of big, mainstream media outlets typically don’t like to bring up the immigration debate. At the very least  it’s ‘divisive.’ More important, reporting on, say, support for a border wall could alienate new, growing blocs of ethnic consumers that businesses (especially newspapers) want to reach. But it’s not easy to write long, important thumbsuckers about Trump’s primary victory without even mentioning the issue that both launched his campaign into prominence and fueled its continued rise.  Luckily, America’s premier journalists are up to the job. Let’s pause to honor three of them:”

Read the whole thing.

HMM: Mitch McConnell: Trump Is Underestimated.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) predicted Tuesday that Donald Trump, the presumptive GOP nominee, will be more competitive in November than many political analysts expect.

McConnell told reporters he is buoyed by a new Quinnipiac poll showing Trump within a few points of Hillary Clinton, the likely Democratic nominee, in Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania, three crucial battlegrounds.

“It looks to me like at the beginning of the race, Florida and Pennsylvania and Ohio look pretty competitive,” he said.

The Quinnipiac survey, conducted from April 27 to May 8, showed Trump leading Clinton by four points in Ohio, and trailing the former first lady by only one point in Florida and Pennsylvania.

McConnell told reporters at the end of last year that he saw it as extremely important the eventual GOP nominee for president be able to win in such so-called purple states. At the time, his comments were interpreted as indicating a preference for more mainstream candidates such as Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) or former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

McConnell said he is looking forward to meeting with Trump Thursday morning at the National Senatorial Campaign Committee, near the Capitol.

“I think most of my members believe he’s won the nomination the old fashioned way, he got more votes than anybody else and we respect the voices of the Republican primary voters across the country and we’ll sit down and talk about the way forward,” he said.

He declined, however, to say what specific points he would bring up with the candidate.

When things suck economically — and they do, and ordinary people know it’s worse than the official happy-face story — old fashioned Democratic populist messages sell, and that’s what Trump’s selling.

BEN RHODES SAYS OTHERWISE. Obama hammers Trump: Presidential Race ‘not a reality show:’

President Obama used the White House podium on Friday to dismiss Donald Trump as an unserious candidate to succeed him, and said leading the country isn’t a job that’s suited to reality show antics.

“I just want to emphasize the degree to which we are in serious times and this is a really serious job,” Obama said on Friday when asked about the race to succeed him. “This is not entertainment. This is not a reality show. This is a contest for the presidency of the United States. And what that means is that every candidate, every nominee needs to be subject to exacting standards and genuine scrutiny.”

Sorry, old sport. But your Deputy National Security Adviser said otherwise to the New York Times yesterday. As the Times noted, Obama’s foreign policy is being crafted by a 38-year old failed novelist who sees reporters as pawns and dupes to disseminate whatever story he wants to tell them:

Like Obama, Rhodes is a storyteller who uses a writer’s tools to advance an agenda that is packaged as politics but is often quite personal. He is adept at constructing overarching plotlines with heroes and villains, their conflicts and motivations supported by flurries of carefully chosen adjectives, quotations and leaks from named and unnamed senior officials. He is the master shaper and retailer of Obama’s foreign-policy narratives, at a time when the killer wave of social media has washed away the sand castles of the traditional press.

As Rhodes admits, it’s not that hard to shape the narrative. “All these newspapers used to have foreign bureaus,” Rhodes said. “Now they don’t. They call us to explain to them what’s happening in Moscow and Cairo. Most of the outlets are reporting on world events from Washington. The average reporter we talk to is 27 years old, and their only reporting experience consists of being around political campaigns. That’s a sea change. They literally know nothing.”

And once again, to paraphrase Agent #86, another bumbling government employee, Obama missed it by that much — as Jonah Goldberg writes in his latest column, the presidential race isn’t a reality show, it’s sold to the public as a Hollywood thriller, complete with the hoariest of dramatic clichés, which Alfred Hitchcock once dubbed the MacGuffin:

How would Trump win? The same way he won the primaries: by selling a more entertaining story.

About three years ago, the eponymous “Ace” from the legendary Ace of Spades HQ blog wrote a brilliant little essay on “The MacGuffinization of American politics”…The Maltese Falcon in The Maltese Falcon, the Ark in Raiders of the Lost Ark, the daughter in Taken: These are all classic MacGuffins. Alfred Hitchcock apparently argued that it doesn’t really matter what the MacGuffin is, so long as the hero wants or needs it and it sounds important enough to justify the hero’s efforts. In Mission: Impossible III, we don’t even find out what the MacGuffin is, beyond being something very dangerous called “the Rabbit’s Foot.”

Ace’s insight was that the mainstream media covers Barack Obama as if he were the hero in a movie (with Republicans as the villains, of course). Whatever Obama wants — Obamacare, unconstitutional immigrant amnesty, the stimulus, a deal with Iran — isn’t important to a worshipful press corps. Whether policies are good or bad, lawful or unlawful, is kind of irrelevant. What matters is that the hero wants something.

“Watching [MSNBC’s] Chris Matthews interview Obama,” Ace wrote, “I was struck by just how uninterested in policy questions Matthews (and his panel) were, and how almost every question seemed to be, at heart, about Obama’s emotional response to difficulties — not about policy itself, but about Obama’s Hero’s Journey in navigating the plot of President Barack Obama: The Movie.”

I think something similar has been at the root of Trump’s success. I can’t bring myself to call him a hero, but many people see him that way. Even his critics concede that he’s entertaining. I see him as being a bit like Rodney Dangerfield, constantly complaining he doesn’t get enough respect.

Regardless, Trump bulldozed his way through the primaries in part because the nomination was his MacGuffin and people wanted to see the movie play out. Many voters, and nearly the entire press corps, got caught up in the story of Trump — much the same way the press became obsessed with the “mythic” story of Obama in 2008. People just wanted to see what happened next.

In 2009, Van Jones was thrown overboard by the Obama administration both because his radical — even by Obama administration standards — past was discovered, but also because he violated the first rule of Don Corleone: “Never tell anyone outside the Family what you are thinking.” Rhodes just did the same thing, but with only about half a year left in the Obama administration, everyone is likely too exhausted, too dissipated to care.

And it helps, as Ace writes today, “The legacy media is, get this, giving [Rhode’s] story the silent treatment, not interested in covering a scandal that affects so many of their colleagues and late-night bootycall side-pieces.”

MEGAN MCARDLE: FOUR REASONS WHY TRUMP WON: “There are any number of explanations for what Trump is bringing out in the electorate. But the most compelling explanation also, curiously, gets the shortest shrift: He’s a celebrity candidate, and celebrity candidates break election models. Jesse Ventura in Minnesota, Arnold Schwarzenegger in California: these people bring out folks who don’t normally vote. In a low-turnout election, or a badly divided field, that’s enough to turn things in their favor. Celebrity candidate voters aren’t normal voters. Normal voters care more about policy than normal non-voters, care more about party identification, care more about ideology. Simply trying to transfer analysis of normal voters over onto the new people that celebrity candidates bring out to the polls doesn’t work very well, because you’re searching madly for clues to things that aren’t really there. This is why such candidates often surprise political scientists by winning.”

I’d add that Rubio destroyed his chances when he got in bed with Chuck Schumer. And I think Schumer was more interested in torpedoing Rubio’s career by sucking him into that deal than in the deal itself.

ROGER KIMBALL: Ted Cruz’s Tax Plan Can Unshackle America:

There are two basic and opposed views of economics. One, espoused by the administration in Washington DC, holds that economics is fundamentally about the redistribution of wealth. The other, espoused most powerfully by the Republican presidential hopeful Ted Cruz, holds that economics is fundamentally about the creation of wealth.

By the time he leaves office, Barack Obama will have doubled the federal debt, bringing it up to an astonishing $20tn. And he has managed this despite taking in more tax revenue than ever before. Mr Obama has achieved another distinction: he has been the only president in history not to have presided over a single year of 3 per cent growth in gross domestic product.

Mr Cruz would change all that. How? At the centre of his economic plan are two imperatives: tax cuts and drastic simplification of the tax code.
Let us start with the cuts. His plan calls for a flat tax of 10 per cent on family income above $36,000. That is down from a top rate of 39.6 per cent today. At the same time, he would abolish the corporate tax (a variable rate that currently maxes out at 39 per cent) and institute a “business transfer tax” of 16 per cent. He would also abolish a host of other taxes, including the estate tax, payroll tax and taxes associated with “Obamacare”.

The upshot, according to the Tax Foundation, which has published a detailed review of the plan, is that the Cruz initiative would spark an explosion in economic growth. Over a decade, GDP would increase by 13.9 per cent above what is currently projected, wages would increase by 12.2 per cent and the US would see up to 5m new jobs.
But those numbers tell only a part of the story. The US tax code runs to some 70,000 pages. The Cruz plan would replace that creaking monstrosity. Instead of having an accountant produce a long and semi-intelligible document at great expense, individuals would fill out their taxes on a postcard. Mr Cruz also promises to abolish the Internal Revenue Service “as we know it”. Obviously, there would have to be a mechanism to ensure that taxes were collected. But the behemoth that is the IRS could be replaced with a vastly slimmed down operation.

But what about revenue? Could taxes be cut so drastically without creating deficits? The Tax Foundation estimates that the Cruz plan, after factoring in projected growth, would result in a $768bn revenue loss over a decade. Should we worry about that? No. This is less than 2 per cent of projected federal revenue from 2017-26, and it is a terrific investment. For every $1 of revenue loss, the Tax Foundation finds that the Cruz plan will generate $23 of new GDP, a phenomenal return on investment. This compares very favourably with Donald Trump’s plan.

The problem — and this is a feature to me, but a bug to the political class — is that it offers insufficient opportunities for graft.

EVERYTHING OLD IS NEW AGAIN: A.N.S.W.E.R. PROTESTS DONALD TRUMP. The sign being held by an anti-Trump protestor in this AP photo taken yesterday outside of the Hyatt Regency Hotel near SFO hosting the California Republican Party Convention is largely in Spanish, but notice the URL underneath it — it’s our old friends A.N.S.W.E.R.

GOP 2016

(AP Photo/Michael Blood.)

As Wikipedia notes, ANSWERcoalition.org is the URL of…

Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (ANSWER), also known as International A.N.S.W.E.R. and the ANSWER Coalition, is a United States-based protest umbrella group consisting of many antiwar and civil rights organizations. Formed in the wake of the September 11th attacks, ANSWER has since helped to organize many of the largest anti-war demonstrations in the United States, including demonstrations of hundreds of thousands against the Iraq War.

Longtime readers of Instapundit will remember A.N.S.W.E.R. behind seemingly every anti-Iraq War protest during the early naughts, which made perfect sense in a way — of course Iraq’s Ba’ath Socialist Party, which Saddam led, would be propped by another group of avoid socialists. Back in October of 2002, Glenn linked to this L.A. Weekly article by David Corn, with some background on A.N.S.W.E.R.’s roots:

If public-opinion polls are correct, 33 percent to 40 percent of the public opposes an Iraq war; even more are against a unilateral action. This means the burgeoning anti-war movement has a large recruiting pool, yet the demo was not intended to persuade doubters. Nor did it speak to Americans who oppose the war but who don‘t consider the United States a force of unequaled imperialist evil and who don’t yearn to smash global capitalism.

This was no accident, for the demonstration was essentially organized by the Workers World Party, a small political sect that years ago split from the Socialist Workers Party to support the Soviet invasion of Hungary in 1956. The party advocates socialist revolution and abolishing private property. It is a fan of Fidel Castro‘s regime in Cuba, and it hails North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il for preserving his country’s ”socialist system,“ which, according to the party‘s newspaper, has kept North Korea ”from falling under the sway of the transnational banks and corporations that dictate to most of the world.“ The WWP has campaigned against the war-crimes trial of former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic. A recent Workers World editorial declared, ”Iraq has done absolutely nothing wrong.“

Officially, the organizer of the Washington demonstration was International ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War & End Racism). But ANSWER is run by WWP activists, to such an extent that it seems fair to dub it a WWP front. Several key ANSWER officials — including spokesperson Brian Becker — are WWP members. Many local offices for ANSWER’s protest were housed in WWP offices. Earlier this year, when ANSWER conducted a press briefing, at least five of the 13 speakers were WWP activists. They were each identified, though, in other ways, including as members of the International Action Center.

The IAC, another WWP offshoot, was a key partner with ANSWER in promoting the protest. It was founded by Ramsey Clark, attorney general for President Lyndon Johnson in the 1960s. For years, Clark has been on a bizarre political odyssey, much of the time in sync with the Workers World Party. As an attorney, he has represented Lyndon LaRouche, the leader of a political cult. He has defended Serbian war criminal Radovan Karadzic and Pastor Elizaphan Ntakirutimana, who was accused of participating in the genocide in Rwanda in 1994. Clark is also a member of the International Committee To Defend Slobodan Milosevic. The international war-crimes tribunal, he explains, ”is war by other means“ — that is, a tool of the West to crush those who stand in the way of U.S. imperialism, like Milosevic. A critic of the ongoing sanctions against Iraq, Clark has appeared on talking-head shows and refused to concede any wrongdoing on Saddam‘s part. There is no reason to send weapons inspectors to Iraq, he told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer: ”After 12 years of brutalization with sanctions and bombing they‘d like to be a country again. They’d like to have sovereignty again. They‘d like to be left alone.“

It is not redbaiting to note the WWP’s not-too-hidden hand in the nascent anti-war movement. It explains the tone and message of Saturday‘s rally. Take the question of inspections. According to Workers World, at a party conference in September, Sara Flounders, a WWP activist, reported war opponents were using the slogan ”inspections, not war.“ Flounders, the paper says, ”pointed out that ’inspections ARE war‘ in another form,“ and that she had ”prepared party activists to struggle within the movement on this question.“ Translation: The WWP would do whatever it could to smother the ”inspections, not war“ cry. Inspections-before-invasion is an effective argument against the dash to war. But it conflicts with WWP support for opponents of U.S. imperialism. At the Washington event, the WWP succeeded in blocking out that line — while promoting anti-war messages more simpatico with its dogma.

To bring things more up to date, in November of 2014, Lee Cary of the American Thinker provided additional and more up to date information on their history in an article titled, “A.N.S.W.E.R.Coalition not letting Ferguson crisis go to waste.”

And in 2016, they’re not letting the presidential election go to waste, either. As David French of NRO wrote yesterday, “We know leftist radicals aren’t shy about taking so-called ‘direct action’ to intimidate opponents. We also know that at least some Trump supporters are spoiling for a fight. Trump himself has been spoiling for a fight. We risk the worst political violence in a generation. Am I wrong to believe that some in the media are thrilled at the prospect — so long as the Left is leading the charge?”

Well, that was certainly the case in Ferguson and Baltimore. French’s article was memorably headlined, “Dear Mainstream Media, Don’t You Dare Whitewash Anti-Trump Violence,” but longtime Instapundit readers will remember that’s precisely what most of the MSM (with a few notable exceptions, such as Corn’s article above) did with A.N.S.W.E.R. Don’t hold your breath watching for them connect the dots in 2016.

DAVID FRENCH: Dear Mainstream Media, Don’t You Dare Whitewash Anti-Trump Violence. “Just imagine for a moment the shrieking outrage if Trump supporters had tried to flip a car outside a Hillary Clinton rally. Imagine the fury at the sight of a bloody man wearing a Hillary shirt. So how did the mainstream media cover the anti-Trump riot?”

With variations on Trump Brings Violence, of course. They know whose side they’re on. Plus:

Nothing Trump has done justifies a violent response. Nothing. Yet the more the media whitewashes this violence and applies its typical double standard to left-wing thugs, the more the violence will escalate. Clearly the media sympathizes with these Mexican flag-waving crowds in much the same way that it sympathized with the rioters at Ferguson and Baltimore. But when you excuse political violence, you tend to get more of it. We know leftist radicals aren’t shy about taking so-called “direct action” to intimidate opponents. We also know that at least some Trump supporters are spoiling for a fight. Trump himself has been spoiling for a fight. We risk the worst political violence in a generation. Am I wrong to believe that some in the media are thrilled at the prospect — so long as the Left is leading the charge?

If violence goes the other way they’ll be all “have you no decency?” But they have none, and people have noticed.

FREE SPEECH IS NO LAUGHING MATTER (EXCEPT IN THIS NEW COMEDY DOCUMENTARY) – Check out my interview with Nick Gillespie, Editor in Chief of Reason.com and Reason TV, about the latest free speech controversies on campus (including the recent speaker disinvitation at Williams College and protests over “Trump 2016” chalkings at Emory University), and the upcoming release of the FIRE-supported documentary Can We Take a Joke?.

If you’re from the Philadelphia area, please sign up ASAP for a free advance screening of the film at the National Constitution Center this Wednesday, April 13 at 8:30 p.m. If you (or any friends) are interested in attending, just RSVP to Haley Hudler at [email protected]. Here is the Facebook event page for more info.

It’s about a serious topic but, I swear, it’s actually funny. Though, keep in mind, it would be R-Rated under the MPAA, so you might not want to bring your toddlers.

Watch the full Reason TV video below, and read more over at The Torch.

 

SCENES FROM AN EDUCATION APOCALYPSE:

Earlier this week, several dozen Emory students barged into the school’s administration building to demand protection from “Trump 2016” slogans that had been written in chalk on campus walkways. Acting out a by-now standardised psychodrama of oppression and vulnerability, the students claimed that seeing Trump’s name on the sidewalk confirmed that they were “unsafe” at Emory. College sophomore Jonathan Peraza led the allegedly traumatised students in a chant: “You are not listening! Come speak to us, we are in pain!” As the Emory protesters entered the administration building, they drew on the Communist Manifesto to express their pitiable plight: “It is our duty to fight for our freedom. It is our duty to win. We must love each other and support each other. We have nothing to lose but our chains.”

“And at San Francisco State University, the latest thing, apparently, is identitarian hair policing” — which brings new meaning to an old chestnut:

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SEAN TRENDE ON TRUMP, ELITE DISDAIN, AND AUTHENTICITY:

Trump’s support is also concentrated in counties with high levels of unemployment, high numbers of voters with a high school diploma and nothing more, and low housing values. These are the people that globalization left behind, who fifty years ago would have had decent paying jobs in factories or even performing manual labor, and who could hope that their children would have the same. Instead they see their towns characterized by vacant buildings, drug problems, and government dependence.

But it goes well beyond economic issues. What drives this quest for “authentic” candidates is also cultural. I would ask my readers to consider: How many people who staunchly oppose gay marriage do you know? How many people who are “pure” creationists – who believe that God created the world largely “as-is” – are in your circle of friends?

I would guess that for a large number of readers, the answer is quite close to “none.” Yet these are not obscure viewpoints; in fact, the “pure” evolutionary viewpoint is a minority view in America. The odds of having no one with these views in your circle of friends are, literally, astronomically small. We’ve self-segregated as a society, and people who adhere to what we might call a cosmopolitan worldview or morality system increasingly fail to interact with people who view the world differently. As a result, cultural traditionalists have been otherized.

Cosmopolitans also happen to occupy the commanding heights of American culture, and they’ve become increasingly aggressive in promoting what one of my friends called a “sneering disdain” for traditionalists—an attitude I myself sometimes struggle to keep in check. So it is unsurprising that when the RAND Corporation recently polled candidates’ supporters, “people like me don’t have any say” was the strongest indicator of support for Trump, beyond education, beyond income, and beyond antipathy toward Muslims and Hispanics.

To bring this back around to populism, when people see the genteel politician in a crisp suit talking about the long term economic benefits of immigration and trade, they look around their neighborhoods and see a detachment from reality. They also – and I would say this is of equal importance – see someone who likely looks down his nose at them and believes he is better than them.

So when people look at Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders, with their heavy accents and awkward hairstyles, they see themselves (sure Donald Trump was born wealthy, but he has a distinct nouveau riche affect; he can hardly be described as patrician). And when people mock them for their hair or their straightforward manner of speech, it channels every cultural slight these voters have faced in the past decade. Sadly, this is unlikely to get better before it gets worse; this growing cultural divide shows no signs of abating.

This also goes to the things that Mickey Kaus has written about social vs. economic inequality. Elites are happy to condemn economic inequality, but they pretty much like social inequality the way it is.

WHAT IF OBAMA DID WHAT TRUMP DOES?, Andrew Klavan asks:

Grove’s sources further report that Lewandowksi apologized to Breitbart’s Washington political editor, Matthew Boyle, and said to Boyle “that he and Fields had never met before and that he didn’t recognize her as a Breitbart reporter, instead mistaking her for an adversarial member of the mainstream media.”

So again, Substitution Game: How would Trump supporters react if Obama’s guy said he had roughed up a reporter because he thought the lady was with Fox News?

Now Lewandowski is saying he never did it at all. If Obama’s guy said that, after reportedly apologizing, would you believe him?

Look, Trump has repeatedly called for violence against hecklers — and violence against hecklers and protesters has followed. In the video above (around the 8:30 mark) Megyn Kelly shows a man sucker punching a black protester who is being escorted OUT of a Trump event. Afterward, the thug explains that the protester wasn’t “acting like an American,” and that “the next time we see him, we might have to kill him.” This is not an isolated incident, but one of a number of such outbursts, which Trump and his people have repeatedly excused.

Substitution Game: what would the Trumpians say if a black man devoted to Obama had cold-cocked a white protester at an Obama rally? Especially after Obama had instructed his followers to “knock the crap” out of anyone who might oppose him. Use your imagination.

Or reverse the races and recall the disgusting details of Kenneth Gladney being roughed up by thugs wearing SEIU t-shirts when Gladney dared protest Obamacare in 2009 at a town hall meeting hosted by then-Rep. Russ Carnahan (D-MO), after Obama and his colleagues had throughout his campaign the year prior instructed supporters to “argue with neighbors, get in their faces,” “punch back twice as hard,” and as Obama told a crowd in Philadelphia, “If they bring a knife to the fight, we bring a gun. Because from what I understand folks in Philly like a good brawl. I’ve seen Eagles fans.”

A headline at the Washington Post today is titled “It’s not just Trump. Authoritarian populism is rising across the West. Here’s why.” No. Here’s why:

I’ve had fun over the past several months pointing out comparisons of our current reality show president and his would-be successor. But it’s truly disgusting to see these sorts incidents where Trump’s goons and his more zealous fans stoop to the level of Obama his enablers.

GOOD. BRING ON THE PAIN. MAKE CLEAR THE PRICE OF APPEASEMENT. More Black Student Protests At University Of Missouri.

UPDATE: From the comments:

The Republican Party in Missouri will benefit more from these ridiculous tantrums than they would from a hundred thousand dollars spent on campaign ads, and this benefit is free.

The Trump Presidential campaign is probably helped, as well.

I think so.

ALLUM BOKHARI: Mark Zuckerberg And The New Progressive Plutocrats.

Silicon Valley inspires utopian thinking. After revolutionising everything from the media to communications to taxi services, progressive elites in the Bay Area are now eyeing up government and politics, wondering how they can “disrupt” both. Will American politics survive their delusions of grandeur?

The latest billionaire buffoon is Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook. Having noticed that Jack Dorsey is out-doing him in the realm of leftist political whackery, the social media kingpin has begun to wear his progressivism on his sleeves. Facebook’s users — far more numerous than Twitter’s — are sure to suffer.

Recently, we reported that Zuckerberg reprimanded a number of Facebook employees who crossed out “Black Lives Matter” slogans and replaced them with “All Lives Matter” on the company walls. You’d think that a liberal like Zuckerberg would appreciate a message of discrimination being replaced with a message of inclusiveness, but I suppose that sort of thinking went out of fashion with Martin Luther King, Jr.

Given that Zuckerberg had to send out the reprimand to the entire company, this suggests that the slogan-writers have yet to be identified. Naturally, I hope they continue their efforts, but I can’t help being a little curious about who they are. Given the number of black Americans quietly fuming about the radical Black Lives Matter activists who try and speak on their behalf, I wouldn’t be surprised if they themselves were black.

You know, now that I think about it, wasn’t that Martin Luther King, Jr. fellow with all his inclusive rhetoric also black? Then again, as the University of California recently reminded us, he really is out of fashion in progressive circles.

The truth is, most of us prefer messages of unity over messages of division. That includes the 1 billion-plus people who use Zuckerberg’s platform, and who Zuckerberg appears strangely contemptuous of. Messages of unity bring people to the table to discuss solutions, whereas messages of division cause pointless standoffs.

Zuckerberg’s out-of-touch attempt to stamp his own, elitist politics on his employees is typical of Silicon Valley elites, whose hyper-progressive values are even more distant to those of ordinary Americans than the Washington, D.C. set.

True. As Joel Kotkin says, they’re the New Oligarchs. But wait, there’s more:

But tyrannizing his employees isn’t the worst thing Zuckerberg’s done.

That would be his Orwellian pandering to the German government, whose disastrous immigration policies he recently praised as “inspiring.” Under Zuckerberg’s leadership, Facebook has become Germany’s lapdog, acting as the terrifying new Stasi of Angela Merkel, who is desperate to contain her citizens’ anger at her failed immigration policies. Facebook has promised to work with her government to monitor “anti-migrant hate speech” on the platform, which is another way of telling ordinary Germans that, once again, someone will be looking over your shoulder if your conversation gets too politically inconvenient.

Here’s what’s more troubling: Zuckerberg isn’t just doing this to appease an overbearing government: he wants to do it.

They see ordinary people as cattle to be managed, at best. As Brendan O’Neill said:

From Obama’s writing-off of the inhabitants of industrial downs as people who ‘cling to guns and religion’ to blogging queen Arianna Huffington’s claim that ‘millions of voters’ vote with their ‘lizard, more emotional right brain’ rather than with their ‘logical left brain’, the contempt heaped on ordinary American voters in recent years has been relentless.

America’s new elites, fancying themselves superior to the rural, the old, the religiously inclined and the rest, have increasingly turned politics into something that is done to people, for their own good, rather than by people according to their moral outlook. And then they wonder why people go looking for something else, something less sneering. . . .

In both Middle America and Middle England, among both rednecks and chavs, voters who have had more than they can stomach of being patronised, nudged, nagged and basically treated as diseased bodies to be corrected rather than lively minds to be engaged are now putting their hope into a different kind of politics. And the entitled Third Way brigade, schooled to rule, believing themselves possessed of a technocratic expertise that trumps the little people’s vulgar political convictions, are not happy. Not one bit.

That’s why we’re seeing a populist wave on both sides of the Atlantic.

HOW THE WEST ENDS? At Ricochet, Claire Berlinski links to an article at Slate by Anne Applebaum titled “This Is How the West Ends — Donald Trump, Marine Le Pen, and the breakdown of European stability,” in which Applebaum writes, “Western unity, nuclear deterrence, and standing armies gave us more than half a century of political stability. Shared economic space helped bring prosperity and freedom to Europe and North America alike. But these are things that we all take for granted, until they are gone.”

To which Berlinski responds, “But none of these arguments work, do they. No matter what, all people hear is blah, blah, blah, patronizing coastal Ivy-educated elites — what have the Romans ever given us in return? Yeah, yeah, yeah, besides half a century of political stability, prosperity and freedom…”

Late last month Stephen Bainbridge quoted from pieces explaining Trump’s supporters by Ben Domenech at Commentary and by Peggy Noonan, along with a quote from the late Christopher Lasch’s 1995 book, The Revolt of the Elites and the Betrayal of Democracy, in a post titled “Donald Trump is the beta test of a cure for The Revolt of the Elites.” Domenech wrote:

The post-Cold War left-right politics of the nation have been breaking down in slow motion for two decades. They are now being replaced by a different type of inside-outside politics.

The Trump phenomenon is neither a disease nor a symptom – he is instead the beta-test of a cure that the American people are trying out. It won’t work. But this is where our politics are going: working and middle class Americans are reasserting themselves against a political and cultural establishment that has become completely discredited over time and due to their own actions.

And on both coasts, it’s a bipartisan political and cultural establishment that absolutely loathes what it’s dubbed “flyover country.” As Glenn has written, “When you have a ruling class that doesn’t believe in — or even much like — the fundamental values of the nations it rules, things tend to work out poorly.” And to return to Berlinki’s query above, wondering why “none of these arguments work,” why would everyday American support or respect notions its elites have so clearly discarded?

A classic Monty Python sketch featured magician turned would-be architect “The Amazing Mystico” and his lovely assistant Janet, who underbid real architects to cheaply and instantaneously put up skyscrapers for low-income tenants that promised to be “as strong, solid and as safe as any other building method in this country — provided of course, people believe in them,” followed by a scene in which a tenant starts having doubts and his flat begins to collapse around him.

It’s a hilarious concept. But when it comes to civilization, this is exactly backwards — its columns and building blocks won’t stay upright for very long once its elites stop believing in them.

HOW DONALD TRUMP PLAYS THE MEDIA:

One producer at a cable news outlet said the process of covering Trump is like being held captive against your will.

“He’s absolutely exploited the media environment to his advantage,” the producer said. “He understands every single tendency that producers of this business have and he tailored his strategy to hold us hostage.”

The producer, like many media professionals interviewed for this article, spoke on condition of anonymity because the campaign still needs to be covered. But also because there’s evidence that speaking even remotely critically of Trump will incite the candidate and may spur him to retaliate by either blocking access to him or by publicly ridiculing the source of the criticism.

So in other words, Trump believes in arguing with his neighbors, getting in their faces, and punching back twice as hard when crossed. He doesn’t bring a knife to a gunfight. Which politician popularized those phrases? How is he covered by the media?

The northeast corridor DNC-MSM overculture has been a cesspool for decades — it’s not surprising that somebody finally figured out how to best them at their own game. (Of course, he could take the GOP with him if and when he implodes, but not all detonations can be controlled.)

Related: “Rubio Tangles with CNN’s Bash in CPAC Question and Answer Session over Media’s Trump Obsession:”

Before finally moving away from Trump (until she snuck in a question about Trump’s flip-flops on torture), Bash earmarked one more question for the state of rhetoric in the campaign:

BASH: Just to follow up, but the rhetoric has been, I mean, I understand you’re saying that you are trying to answer him in some of the things he has been saying, but you know, I can’t explain to my kid about the you’re talking about hands and things like that.

RUBIO: Well, look. I’ll be more than happy to answer another Trump question. I don’t — Donald Trump, he might have grown up the way he did with a lot of money, going to boarding schools. I can tell you this where I grew up, if someone keeps punching someone in the face, eventually someone has to stand up and punch them back.

If Bash wants to have a debate about the level of what’s appropriate rhetoric for cable news, it should be noted that she laughed back on New Years Eve in 2009 going into 2010 at co-host Kathy Griffin’s suggestion that then-Senator Scott Brown’s daughters were whores.

And the MSM wonders why Trump does so well in their environment.

GEE, MAYBE START BY TELLING YOUR WIFE TO STOP REFERRING TO HALF THE COUNTRY AS A “CONSPIRACY?” Bill’s Twist on Donald’s Slogan: ‘Make America Whole Again.’

Related: Chuck Todd: Hillary Will ‘Long For The Days Of Ken Starr When Running Against Trump:’

Host Joe Scarborough told Chuck Todd, “I will tell you who is horrified right now. Bill Clinton is horrified at the prospect of every time Hillary Clinton bringing up women’s issues, Donald Trump puts out an Instagram ad and by the end of the campaign Bill Cosby and Bill Clinton are synonymous.”

Todd said, “There are two things that the Clinton’s people believe are true. Number one, that they can beat Donald Trump and they think that they can potentially beat him by a fairly large margin. And that it’s the last person they want to run against. They simultaneously believe both things.”

Does she contradict herself? Very well, then she contradicts herself. Her Maoist pantsuits are large; they contain multitudes.

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More: Hillary Clinton loses it while arguing with a Black Lives Matter protester in S.C.

SO TRUMP IS A WHITE OBAMA?: Reihan Salam has column in Slate (he is also an executive editor of National Review, btw), “I Can’t Hate Donald Trump: I Do Hate Republicans Who’ve Enabled His Remarkable Popularity.”  The thesis seems to be that Trump is essentially a “white Obama” whose campaign is a dog whistle for working class whites:

I can’t bring myself to hate Donald Trump. Part of this is a quirk of biography. Like a lot of native New Yorkers around my age, I find his outer-borough accent so comfortingly familiar that I can’t help but smile whenever I hear his voice, even when he’s saying something outrageously offensive. To a certain kind of smart, scrappy, lower-middle-class New York youth in the ’80s and ’90s, Trump was the living embodiment of gaudy success—a kind of mash-up of Santa Claus, Scrooge McDuck, and Vito Corleone. . . .

Trump is strongest not in the metropolitan corners of America, where he’s spent most of his life. Rather, his strongholds are the mostly overlooked sections of the South, Appalachia, and the rural and semi-rural North. . . .

Many have been struck by the overwhelming whiteness of Trump’s campaign, not least the small number of self-identified “white nationalists” who’ve rallied around his campaign. I would argue that the Trump coalition illustrates how whiteness as a category is so expansive as to be almost meaningless. The Scots-Irish or “American” whites who see Trump as their champion are profoundly different from the metropolitan whites who dominate the upper echelons of U.S. society—so much so that the convention of lumping them together as “white” detracts far more from our understanding of how they fit into our society than it adds to it. J.D. Vance, author of Hillbilly Elegy, a forthcoming book on the place of Appalachian whites in modern America, estimates that roughly one-quarter of whites belong to the Scots-Irish tribe that has embraced Trump. If we were to separate out these Americans as a race or ethnicity unto themselves, Vance writes, we would finds rates of poverty and substance abuse that would shock our national conscience. But we don’t generally collect detailed statistics on the Scots-Irish. . . .

When Barack Obama first emerged on the political scene, he excited voters who saw in him a reflection of their own experiences. His mixed ancestry, his upbringing as the son of an intellectually curious and at times very poor single mother, and his experience of upward mobility through higher education—all of these experiences resonated with Americans who’d had similar journeys, and who felt validated by Obama’s narrative.

Trump and Obama are almost as different as one American can be from another. Nevertheless, Trump has built a gut-level connection that is no less formidable, and with an entirely different set of Americans. . . .

I’m not sure what makes Salam think that Americans of “Scots-Irish” descent are poor Appalachian hillbillies with substance abuse problems. This odd racial stereotyping aside, Salam is simply wrong that Trump’s primary support emerges from poor, uneducated whites, an unsupportable myth I’ve written about before that keeps getting repeated by the GOPe and Democrats alike.

More importantly, I hardly think that a platform of issues that are important to all Americans–national security, jobs, immigration (all of which are intimately related)–is fairly characterized as a racial dog whistle, unless one believes that these issues are particularly “white” (or more specifically,
“Scots-Irish”) issues.

Salam’s column suggests to me that while elites may abhor finding themselves in political association with the unwashed masses (i.e., working class whites), they can’t seem to help themselves because like the masses, there’s something about Trump that they can’t help but like. It suggests that Trump’s political umbrella is (at least potentially) larger than many have acknowledged. Could it also be that Trump holds the potential to unite, rather than divide? Only time will tell.

DOING JOBS AMERICANS WOULD BE HAPPY TO DO: “Outsourcing Visa” May Hurt Even More than Reported.

Just in time for a primary season that’s highly-charged over the issue of immigration, the H1-B visa is back in the news for facilitating layoffs of American workers. The visa allows companies to bring over tech workers on a visa that gives them no path to citizenship status and ties their presence in the U.S. to their job. This makes the H1-B workers cheaper and more pliable than U.S. workers; furthermore, H1-B workers in the U.S. are often used to pave the way to outright offshoring. We’ve covered H1-B layoffs before, especially before the saga of workers laid off at Disney. But it turns out that due to a legalism present in many contracts, there may be far more affected workers who are not speaking out. . . .

This issue has salience for the GOP primary. Sen. Marco Rubio is a leading proponent of the I-Squared Act. On the other hand, Grassley and Durbin’s reform effort comes alongside one by Sen. Jeff Sessions (who has been rumored to be on the verge of endorsing Donald Trump) and Sen. Ted Cruz, which would essentially create a whistleblower’s exception to non-disparagement provisions: you could speak out if you were complaining about H1-B layoffs.

There are many reasons to be supportive of legal U.S. immigration. But as we’ve written before, the H1-B is an ugly, crony-ist measure. It brings none of the benefits to the nation of legal immigration, while carrying many of the costs. Lawmakers may be tempted to look to it as a way to work-around a broken immigration system—but evidence suggests that it makes many problems worse: layoffs, lowered wages, and ultimately, offshoring (as well as unknown amount of visa-overstays.) Passing an expansion of it right now would be sure to exacerbate immigration tensions, to little gain—unless you own a business that uses H1-B workers.

We have an ugly, crony-ist ruling class, so ugly crony-ist measures fit in quite well.

GOP ESTABLISHMENT “PEER PRESSURE” ISN’T WORKING: A new Washington Post/ABC poll shows that Trump is enjoying a growing lead, his support is strong and stable with likely GOP primary voters/caucus-goers, and he is now deemed “acceptable” as a candidate by two-thirds of Republicans.

The poll also finds no sign that Trump’s support wavers among the Republicans who are most likely to attend primaries and caucuses, which are typically low-turnout contests. Trump’s 16-point advantage among all registered Republican voters is similar to his lead among Republicans who say they are certain to vote, report voting in 2012 Republican contests or are following the race “very closely.”

Although there was resistance to his candidacy at the beginning, Trump now is broadly acceptable to GOP voters. About 2 of 3 Republicans say they would find him acceptable as their nominee, a percentage almost identical to Cruz’s and Rubio’s. Rubio is seen as the least unacceptable, followed by Cruz, Carson and then Trump. Only about half of Republicans say Christie and Bush are acceptable, and Bush has the highest “unacceptable” percentage at 45. . . .

The new Post-ABC survey suggests that a sizable majority of Republicans believe that whatever happens in those early states, Trump will emerge with the nomination — a dramatic shift from when he first entered the race in June to mixed reviews and overcame widespread unfavorable impressions among GOP voters before his campaign launched. Today, more than 6 in 10 Republicans say Trump is most likely to win the nomination, up from 4 in 10 in the late fall.

Trump leads among nearly all demographic groups, including a narrow advantage among white evangelical Christians, a key target of the Cruz campaign. Trump’s strongest support comes from those with incomes below $50,000. Previous surveys showed Trump with significantly more support among those lacking a college degree, compared with those who have graduated from college. The new survey finds no significant difference. . . .

On a wide range of issues and candidate attributes, Trump dominates his rivals. Majorities of Republicans say he has the best chance of getting elected president and is most likely to bring needed change to Washington. More than a third say he is closest to them on issues. He and Carson are seen as the most honest of the GOP candidates, while Trump and Cruz are seen as having the best personality and temperament to serve as president.

So apparently, the GOPe talking point that I’ve heard repeatedly in the last week or so–that Trump may be leading in Iowa but his supporters are political neophytes who are less likely to “turn out” to a long, drawn out caucus event— is not panning out in the polls. Likewise, the GOPe’s elitist attempt to brandish Trump supporters as xenophobic/racist, uneducated, low-information voters who aren’t “really” Republican is not merely overtly insulting to the GOP itself, but utterly wrong. According to a new CNN/ORC poll released today:

[Trump] leads among both men and women, younger and older voters, white evangelicals, conservatives and both self-identified Republicans and independents who lean toward the party.

There are two subgroups where Trump’s lead is less dominant: college graduates and tea party supporters. Even among those groups, however, he remains at the head of the pack. Among those holding degrees, 26% back Trump, 20% Cruz, and tea party supporters split 37% for Trump, 34% for Cruz.

In fact, when I dug deeper into this CNN/ORC poll, I found several potential headlines that CNN would never report.  The most surprising one, to me, was that Trump’s lead among GOP women is substantial, with 37% likely to vote for Trump, with the next closest candidates being Ted Cruz with 21 percent, and Marco Rubio with 11 percent. Perhaps more importantly, when asked to describe how they would feel if Trump were the GOP nominee, 42 percent of GOP women said they would be “enthusiastic” (the highest ranking), versus only 39 percent of GOP men.

As for voters’ age, Trump’s lead over Cruz is larger with younger voters than older ones. Among poll participants age 50-64, Trump leads Cruz 43 to 20 percent, whereas among those age 65 and older, Trump’s lead over Cruz fell, 38 versus 25 percent.

Regarding income, Trump’s support among the “over $50K” income group (42 percent) is virtually the same as among the “under 50k” group (43 percent). Trump also leads among college grads, with 26 percent supporting him versus Cruz, who has 20 percent of college grads’ support, and Carson, who garners 12 percent of the likely GOP college grad voters.

So apparently, Trump has strong support among younger, highly educated, high-income, and female GOP voters. Who knew? Apparently, not the GOPe.

RELATED: James Taranto discusses the social-acceptability bias with respect to Trump: “I don’t know anybody who supports him.”

ROGER KIMBALL: Trump Fans vs. Trump Supporters: Which Group Are Polls Really Counting?

It doesn’t matter that many of Donald Trump’s positions are ridiculous, incoherent, or both. They tap into a current of emotion composed partly of anger, partly of impatience, and partly of fear.  People are angry at the inability or unwillingness of their elected officials to bring about the changes they were sent to Washington to accomplish. They are fearful, rightly, about the destruction wrought by seven years of Barack Obama on this country: the degradation of our military, the low esteem in which the rest of the world holds America, the regulatory burden that has stymied our economy, pustules of Islamic terrorism which Obama refuses even to name. These and other results of Obama’s disastrous reign have instilled great anger and great fear in large swathes of the American public.

It’s not acknowledged, not yet, by the folks who think that The New York Times or MSNBC or CNN are sources of news rather than outposts of the DNC press office, but it is nevertheless a palpable fact about America circa 2016.

The question for Trump is whether his many fans are convertible into reliable supporters. The polls measure the former. I am not at all sure that they are a reliable guide to the latter. And that is one reason that I suspect that Ted Cruz’s recent bump in the polls is more significant that Donald Trump is quite willing to admit. He half-admitted it last night, it is true, when he allowed that he had gone birther on Ted Cruz only because Cruz had suddenly been doing “a little better” in the polls.

Are Trump’s “many fans are convertible into reliable supporters?” We’ll know soon enough. But it’s entirely possible that by bringing the full fire of the New York media (read: outposts of the DNC press office) down upon his head, Ted Cruz’s “New York Values” line might just resonate enough to allow him to end-run Trump, and to carry him through the early primaries. Or not — in any case, as far as who is left with a viable shot in the primaries, to borrow from a Photoshop I did for Roger Simon around Thanksgiving…

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WELL, ARROGANCE BEGETS BLINDNESS: Henry Olsen at NRO writes about how the GOP establishment must try to understand, not ridicule, concerns of blue collar workers.

Thanks to Donald Trump, American elites are finally paying attention to blue-collar, white America. They do not like what they see. Racist. Bigoted. Irrational. Angry. How many times have you read or heard one or more of these words used to describe Trump’s followers? Whether they are the academic, media, and entertainment elites of the Left or the political and business elites of the Right, America’s self-appointed best and brightest uniformly view the passions unleashed by Trump as the modern-day equivalent of a medieval peasants’ revolt. And, like their medieval forebears, they mean to crush it.

That effort is both a fool’s errand for the country and a poisoned chalice for conservatives and Republicans. It is foolish because the reasons the peasants are revolting will not fade easily. Ignoring and ridiculing their concerns, the way European elites have done with their own electorates for most of the last two decades, will simply intensify the masses’ rage and ensure that their political spokesmen become more intransigent and radical. If you want an American version of Marine Le Pen tomorrow, ignore the legitimate concerns of blue-collar Americans today.

And it is a poisoned chalice for the Right because such a strategy requires a permanent informal coalition with the Left. Keeping blue-collar white Americans out of political power will result in exactly what Washington elites have wanted for years: a series of grand bargains that keep the status quo largely intact and the Democratic party in power. . . .

The constituency that is rallying to Trump is not fully conservative, but it shares more values with conservatives than do any of the other constituencies that could possibly be enticed to join our cause. It is thus imperative that conservatives understand what these fellow citizens want and find ways to make common cause with them where we can. . . .

I agree with Olsen’s basic thesis that the GOP establishment must consciously embrace and court blue collar workers, but the overall “us” (“true” conservatives) versus “them” (blue collar workers) tone of the piece seems to reinforce the notion that these groups are fundamentally distinct– a proposition of which I am not yet convinced.

It presupposes that there is a rigid definition of “true” conservatism that blue collar workers inherently do not embrace, such as Olsen’s notion that any “true” conservative would never support spending power-based entitlements such as Social Security or Medicare. In Olsen’s words:

Blue-collar whites are also more open to government action than many movement conservatives. For example, 87 percent of “Steadfast Conservatives,” Pew’s term for movement conservatives, think government is doing too much that should be left to individuals and businesses; only 44 percent of Hard-Pressed Skeptics agree. Sixty percent of Hard-Pressed Skeptics think government aid to the poor does more good than harm; only 10 percent of Steadfast Conservatives agree. Seventy-nine percent of Hard-Pressed Skeptics say that cuts to Social Security benefits should be off the table. Clearly a campaign based on cutting food stamps and reforming entitlements will not resonate with blue-collar whites.

I’m not so sure. Blue collar workers may well vigorously support “reforming entitlements” such as food stamps and Social Security (particularly the former) if the reform is phased in, offers commonsense incentives, and/or expands individual choice. Just because blue collar workers do not want to completely eliminate middle-class entitlements such as Social Security or Medicare (entitlements upon which they rely post-retirement) does not mean they are not “true” conservatives who would not support well-crafted reforms.

What Donald Trump has captured–and the GOPe still remarkably hasn’t yet figured out–is that these “Reagan Democrats” were lured away from the GOP post-Reagan, in part, by some of the moderate reforms embraced by Bill Clinton (e.g., welfare reform) and the simple fact that Clinton (himself a product of a blue collar upbringing) seemed like “one of them.”

Blue collar workers’ general fiscal conservatism, patriotism, and general cultural conservatism are “conservative” values that should, in theory, fit comfortably under the GOP umbrella. The intriguing question, to me, is why hasn’t the GOP understood this all along? Why and when did the GOPe decide to shun the backbone of America?

The GOPe’s elitist condescension, combined with the Obama Administration’s overt 8-year progressive bias towards fringe, non-white, non-blue collar issues, has created the 2016 presidential phenomenon and the voters’ hunger for a candidate who doesn’t embody either of these extremes.

IS THIS THE HOPE, OR THE CHANGE? NORTH KOREA SAYS IT SUCCESSFULLY CONDUCTS HYDROGEN BOMB TEST:

North Korea says it has successfully carried out a hydrogen bomb test, which if confirmed, will be a first for the reclusive regime and a significant advancement for its military ambitions.

A hydrogen bomb is more powerful than plutonium weapons, which is what North Korea used in its three previous underground nuclear tests.

“If there’s no invasion on our sovereignty we will not use nuclear weapon,” the North Korean state news agency said. “This H-bomb test brings us to a higher level of nuclear power.”

If true, the symmetry of the Norks announcing they’ve armed themselves with the H-bomb on the same day that Obama went full-Boehner while proposing disarming innocent Americans of their firearms is truly staggering. But then, when it comes to generating absurdity, there’s no way any satirist can compete with reality.

Or with the Obama administration, for that matter.

Speaking of which, in response to the State Department urging “North Korea to exercise restraint and refrain from further threatening actions,” James Taranto quips, “#YoureGonnaNeedABiggerHashtag.”

And you’re going to have move that red line yet again. “Today, President Park and I are reaffirming that our nations will never accept North Korea as a nuclear weapons state,” President Boehner tweeted with a tear in his eye 80 days ago back in October.

In lighter news from the intersection of DC and the Hermit State, would-be Washington Post “fact checker” Glenn Kessler blindly retweets parody North Korean news agency account weighing on Donald Trump’s “Ted Cruise” birther shtick.

Layers and layers of fact-checkers and editors…

TRUE: “What stands out to me after reading the whole article, however, is that Trump obviously has a lot of support among a wide range of people, including many that you wouldn’t expect if you’ve been relying on mainstream media for information: women, well-educated people, Hispanics. There needs to be much more serious analysis of what is going on. American politics is outrunning the pundit class.”

Well, most of it.

Related: “Trump is Al Czervik bringing the hoi polloi to the Bushwood Country Club.”

Plus, confidential Trump video.

ROGER SIMON BRINGS NEWS FROM TRUMP CITY: Fear and Loathing in Where Else?

I don’t care what candidate you support, the souls of the dead of San Bernardino will be hovering over that debate stage Tuesday night.  This kind of butchery cannot be allowed to continue on our soil — hopefully not anywhere.  Even more, it cannot be allowed to expand.

The most disturbing fact to emerge in the last few days is that our head of Homeland Security, Jeh Johnson, evidently put the kibosh on surveying social media accounts of Middle Easterners applying for visas.  That is nothing short of political correctness gone insane.

Read the whole thing.

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ANGELA MERKEL NAMED TIME MAGAZINE’S ‘PERSON OF THE YEAR,’ AP reports:

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been named Time’s Person of the Year, praised Wednesday by the magazine for her leadership on everything from Syrian refugees to the Greek debt crisis.

“Not once or twice but three times there has been reason to wonder this year whether Europe could continue to exist, not culturally or geographically but as a historic experiment in ambitious statecraft,” Time editor Nancy Gibbs wrote. “You can agree with her or not, but she is not taking the easy road. Leaders are tested only when people don’t want to follow. For asking more of her country than most politicians would dare, for standing firm against tyranny as well as expedience and for providing steadfast moral leadership in a world where it is in short supply, Angela Merkel is TIME’s Person of the Year.”

In response, Donald Trump snarked:

“I told you Time Magazine would never pick me as person of the year despite being the big favorite,” Trump tweeted. “They picked person who is ruining Germany.”

And he’s right on that — Merkel is taking Germany “Down a Suicidal Path,” as Victor Davis Hanson wrote in late October:

In terms of tough leadership, Germany’s iron lady, Merkel, had trumped even the reputation of Britain’s late former prime minister, Margaret Thatcher. In world opinion, Merkel was deemed just as decisive as Thatcher, but with a far stronger global hand to play and with a more popular embrace of social justice.

In sum, the new post–Cold War Germany was evolving into the leader of the West, especially during the American recessional from world affairs orchestrated by President Barack Obama.

No more. In just the last six months Germany in general, and Merkel in particular, have imploded.

Merkel’s disastrous decision to open the borders of Germany — and with them Europe’s as well — is proving both selfish and suicidal.

Hordes of migrants are swarming into Europe. Merkel’s naïveté cannot be dressed up in her professed humanitarianism, given that many of the migrants are young, single men from the Middle East who pour into Europe not as political refuges but as opportunists eager for European social largesse.

Aside from the costs, and the religious and social tensions that hundreds of thousands of young unemployed Muslim males will create in Europe, there are lots of other hypocrisies in the German migrant situation.

Germany was far tougher in its fiscal negotiations with kindred European nation Greece than it has been with Middle Eastern migrants.

Merkel logically lectured Greece that its reckless borrowing could not be allowed to undermine the European Union. But isn’t that selfishness similar to what Germany is now doing? With Merkel urging other European nations to take in waves of migrants and thereby inviting a flood of refugees across the borders of its neighbors, Germany’s far poorer neighbors will bear much of the cost.

All of which can be summed up in a single word that was on everyone’s lips last month: Paris.

Which Merkel — or at the very least those with her “what could go wrong?” mindset  — deserve more than a little blame for. In the 1920s, Henry Luce, the center-right founder of Time magazine, originally conceived his “Man of the Year” category as a way of recognizing that individuals making choices drive history, and sometimes via quite disastrous decisions, as Jonah Goldberg noted in 2006,  after Time wimped out by choosing you! — and me! — and everyone! — as their “Person of the Year,” rather than plastering Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on their cover:

The intellectual flubber of Time’s decision is manifest on many levels. Though some argue that Time was patting the American people on the head for voting the way they wanted in the last election, the more obvious explanation is that Time’s editors didn’t want to offend anybody. “If you choose an individual, you have to justify how that person affected millions of people,” Richard Stengel, Time’s newly vintaged managing editor, told the Associated Press. “But if you choose millions of people, you don’t have to justify it to anyone.”

Well, isn’t that convenient. Heaven forbid a news editor do something controversial that would have to be defended on the merits. Spare the delicate flowers such hardship!

Stengel added that if Time had to choose a real person to be Person of the Year, it would likely have been Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad “It just felt to me a little off selecting him,” Stengel said.

One might wonder if it felt “a little off” to past Time editors who awarded the Man of the Year award to Hitler in 1938 or to Stalin — twice, once in 1939 and again in 1942 — or to the Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979.

But the answer is that it didn’t bother the old editors, not really. Because Time’s Man of the Year award was originally conceived as something other than the Mother of All Puff Pieces.

Time founder Henry Luce swam against the stream of Marxist determinism which held that history unfolded according to cold, impersonal forces. He believed individuals — i.e. great men and women — matter. He said the original award should go to the person “who most affected the news or our lives, for good or ill, this year.” That was the point of picking Charles Lindbergh as the first Man of the Year — because he, and he alone, seemed to be ushering in a New Age. Hitler was MOY in 1938 because he might have been ushering in a Dark Age. You are Person of the Year because the editors of Time want to live in a Feel-Good Age where everyone is empowered (hence Time’s rationalizations about the people-power of the Internet).

Of course, Time has punted many times before. For example, in 1988, beating the fierce competition, Earth was named “Planet of the Year.” No doubt that choice sounded very clever in the editorial-board meeting.

Time’s 2001 decision, naming Rudy Giuliani person of the year, was even more telling. This was a true profile-in-cowardice moment. There was no intellectually defensible standard for suggesting that the able mayor affected the news or our lives more than Osama bin Laden, who at the time seemed at least to be the Gavrilo Princip of the 21st century. (Princip was the fellow who launched World War I, which in turn launched World War II and the Cold War.)

While Henry Luce wouldn’t recognize very much these days at the magazine he founded other than its logo, give Time credit for getting their choice this year right, even if they can’t see the reasons why themselves. And for passing over the massive PR blizzard that would have come from putting The Donald on there. Or to bring this post full circle:

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NOT JUST WOODROW WILSON: Pretty much everything Donald Trump says was said in more stately and respectable prose by early-20th-century academics. My latest Bloomberg View column draws on the forthcoming intellectual history Illiberal Reformers: Race, Eugenics, and American Economics in the Progressive Era (plus a host of pre-1923 sources easily available through Google Books):

Early 20th-century progressives transformed American institutions, and the movement’s premises continue to inform thinking and policy across the political spectrum. “It was the progressives who fashioned the new sciences of society, founded the modern American university, invented the think tank, and created the American administrative state, institutions still defined by the progressive values that formed and instructed them,” writes Leonard, a research scholar at Princeton’s Council of the Humanities.

The progressives believed, first and foremost, in the importance of science and scientific experts in guiding the economy, government, and society. Against the selfishness, disorder, corruption, ignorance, conflict and wastefulness of free markets or mass democracy, they advanced the ideal of disinterested, public-spirited social control by well-educated elites. The progressives were technocrats who, Leonard observes, “agreed that expert public administrators do not merely serve the common good, they also identify the common good.” Schools of public administration, including the one that since 1948 has borne Woodrow Wilson’s name, still enshrine that conviction.

Leonard also brings to light an embarrassing truth: In the early 20th century, the progressive definition of the common good was thoroughly infused with scientific racism. Harvard economist William Z. Ripley, for example, was a recognized expert on both railroad regulation and the classification of European races by coloring, stature and “cephalic index,” or head shape. At the University of Wisconsin, the red-hot center of progressive thought, leading social scientists turned out economic-reform proposals along with works parsing the racial characteristics — and supposed natural inferiority — of blacks, Chinese, and non-Teutonic European immigrants. (Present-day progressives somehow didn’t highlight this heritage when they were defending “the Wisconsin Idea” against the depredations of Republican Governor Scott Walker.)

The University of Wisconsin has a lot to be embarrassed about. At least The Donald doesn’t talk about “race suicide.” Read the rest of the column here.

THE DREARY NOSTALGIA OF 2016: Hillary’s “presidential candidacy has not merely been an invitation to perform a critical review of the president’s first term; it has also become a soul-sucking time vortex drawing American punditry back into the 1990s. For a subset of left-leaning political journalists and progeny of ‘Generation X,’ nothing could be more welcome. This decade was, however, characterized by more than an information technology bubble and the fruits of America’s uncontested global hegemony. It was a period of spectacular cynicism,” Noah Rothman writes at Commentary:

There is a superficial but popular contention among political observers that Hillary Clinton is greatly aided by the fact that her husband presided over a period in American history characterized by unparalleled peace and prosperity. That belief only holds up so long as you do not take too much stock in the fact that Clinton has been compelled by her restive left-flank to renounce virtually all of her husband’s most popular achievements.

* * * * * *

Amid Donald Trump’s campaign of bomb throwing, he perhaps inadvertently stumbled upon a rare attack on Democrats, and Team Clinton in particular. By obtusely suggesting the September 11 attacks might have been preventable, he reignited a long-settled debate over the nature of pre-attack intelligence.

And of course by virtue of his last name, Jeb is also carrying the torch for the late 1980s and 2001-2008. If the leading candidates on both sides of the aisle are all trapped in the past, that lends further credence to Jonah Goldberg’s observation regarding the importance of making 2016 a contrast between an exhausted DC lifer and a younger outsider in his latest G-File:

While not my first choice by any measure, I think [Jeb] could be a fine president, and it would be a no-brainer to vote for him over Hillary Clinton. That said, I’ve always thought he’d be a deeply, deeply, flawed nominee. As I’ve written before, in a contest of familiar brands, the more popular one does better — and the Clinton brand is more popular than the Bush brand. In a change election, when the other side has an old and tired brand, the last thing in the world you should do is respond with an older and even more tired brand.

Especially when the stakes involve the chance to finally move beyond 1933.

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And to bring this post full circle, all of this dreary nostalgia explains the “Fear And Loathing In Hillary World,” the stench of which emanates particularly strong from her operatives with bylines.