Search Results

ROGER SIMON: Disneyland Pyongyang? Can Trump Co-Opt Kim?

This speaks to what Trump is attempting.  A creature of popular culture himself, he knows its allure and how to utilize it.  Whether he will succeed is anybody’s guess, but it is a different way of dealing in international diplomacy and more than worth trying. Perhaps he should bring along a bag of Big Macs and some fries to the negotiation.

Okay, maybe not, but the underpinnings of all this are not new.  Those of us old enough to remember recall the subversive nature of American culture during Soviet times,  clandestine jazz concerts in Moscow boîtes, hidden screenings of certain movies, samizdat publication of forbidden novels, etc. Everybody wanted it, even, apparently, General Secretary Andropov.

Read the whole thing. Maybe Trump should simply invite Kim Jong-un to visit the Safeway in Houston.

GREAT MOMENTS IN GASLIGHTING. Chuck Todd: Isn’t Trump sort of responsible for Samantha Bee’s tone? In response, Allahpundit writes:

All of which is a long-winded way of saying that the activist wings of both parties, which includes entertainment on the left (go look again at how Bee described her own show last night), genuinely despise each other and feel no common ground. That’s where the nastiness comes from. To the extent Trump makes it worse, it’s because he embodies the things lefty activists most despise about the right, not because he likes to make fun of Chuck Todd’s “sleepy eyes” or whatever. The interesting question is whether late-night would have been a bit less oppositional politically under someone like Romney or McCain than it’s been under Trump. I can see it both ways but I’m inclined to say no — not because they’d hate Romney or McCain just as much but because the influence of Jon Stewart and “The Daily Show” is so heavy on all of them that they would have felt compelled to do some woke truth-to-power shtick no matter what. The left expects it of their daily comic commentators now.

As awful as the left acted after the 9/11-era timeout on the culture war ended around 2003 with, as Charles Krauthammer wrote, the left’s superheated pressure cooker exploding, the real tipping point in retrospect was their win-at-all-costs response when John McCain asked Sarah Palin to be his running mate in 2008.

As with the George H.W. Bush administration, when the left couldn’t excoriate Bush, a WWII hero, and used Dan Quayle as a nonstop surrogate piñata, the left couldn’t aim both barrels at McCain because of his legendary POW status. Instead, Palin took the brunt, including Todd’s then-fellow MSNBC anchor Keith Olbermann insinuating that she should be shot. Reebok’s once apolitical advertising character “Terry Tate Office Linebacker” was shown brutally slamming a Palin lookalike stuntwoman to the concrete in a YouTube clip. Obama supporters were photographed wearing “Sarah Palin is a C*nt” T-shirts (plus ça change; and no, the asterisk doesn’t appear on the originals.) Five years after McCain and Palin were defeated, Martin Bashir was fired by MSNBC after he suggested that Palin should be defecated and urinated on.

As Glenn has written, Trump 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.”

INTERESTING: North Korea sees US economic handouts as threat.

The North’s perceived thirst for U.S. economic aid has consistently been the message coming from Trump and his senior officials. All Kim needs to do, they suggest, is commit to denuclearization and American entrepreneurs will be ready to unleash their miracles on the country’s sad-sack economy.

“I truly believe North Korea has brilliant potential and will be a great economic and financial nation one day,” Trump tweeted Sunday. “Kim Jong Un agrees with me on this.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has laid Washington’s roadmap out in more detail.

“We can create conditions for real economic prosperity for the North Korean people that will rival that of the South,” he said earlier this month in a televised interview. “It won’t be U.S. taxpayers. It will be American knowhow, knowledge, entrepreneurs and risk-takers working alongside the North Korean people to create a robust economy for their people.”

Pompeo suggested Americans help to build out the North’s energy grid, develop its infrastructure and deliver the finest agricultural equipment and technology “so they can eat meat and have healthy lives.”

Kim has emphatically not agreed to any of that.

Under Trump’s “maximum pressure” policy, international sanctions on North Korea are stronger than ever before. Sanctions relief would open the door for more trade with China, South Korea and possibly Russia — partners North Korea trusts more than it trusts Washington — and potentially unlock access to global financial institutions.

The last thing Kim wants is to give up his nuclear weapons only to have his country overrun with American businessmen and entrepreneurs.

Even if he kept his nukes, Kim can’t afford to allow the political, economic, and (most importantly) cultural contamination hordes of Western businessmen would bring.

EVERGREEN HEADLINE: Some Georgia Democrats Have Some Really Weird Ideas.

Elsewhere in Georgia, Democrats will compete for the chance to take on incumbent Republican Jody Hice in the tenth district, a fairly Republican-leaning (R+15) mix of urban and rural communities between Atlanta and Augusta. There’s poorly funded Tabitha Johnson-Green, music teacher Chalis Montgomery, and professor Richard Winfield.

Some of the offerings in Winfield’s 1998 book The Just Family are . . . odd. For starters, he seems to think that “constitutional law should extend to family relations and specify the inalienable household duties of spouses, parents and children, leaving the contingent dimensions of these entitlements and obligations to the corrigible labors of positive legislation.” Get government out of our bedrooms . . . and into every other room in the house, apparently.

His perspective on the mentally disabled in the same book is horrifying: “In the case of irretrievably impaired children, parents retain personal responsibility for providing care, since no other individuals have any particular obligation to bear the burden of a caretaking without upbringing. Civil institutions, however, can relieve parents of their charge without violating any rights of the victim since the latter’s status as a potential person has been obliterated. A systematic treatment of such intervention must await the conception of the relation between family and civil society.”

He seems to want the government to get into the business of requiring a license for parenting.

“Although current practice tends to limit public scrutiny of parental qualifications to prospective adopters, the need is just as pressing with natural parents of children. Although requiring a license for parenting, as Blustein suggests, is one method for publicly certifying parental qualifications, the likelihood of reproduction by unlicensed parents makes this an unwieldly option. A more effective measure would involve making training in parenting a requirement of mandatory public education and attempting to ensure that all able individuals complete that schooling with success.”

(Is it just me, or does the term “unlicensed parents” send a chill down your spine”?)

Yes. Although some at NBC are intrigued by Winfield’s ideas and wish to subscribe to his newsletter.

RESOLUTION REJECTED: “BE IT RESOLVED, WHAT YOU CALL POLITICAL CORRECTNESS, I CALL PROGRESS”: Friday night’s Munk debate in Toronto shows that Canadians (in general not exactly a rough bunch) reject political correctness.

Even before Michael Eric Dyson & Michelle Goldberg (FOR THE RESOLUTION) squared off against Stephen Fry & Jordan Peterson (AGAINST THE RESOLUTION), the crowd was already strongly against the resolution (36% FOR vs. 64% AGAINST). But after the debate it was overwhelming (30% FOR vs. 70% AGAINST). The shift of 6% to AGAINST made Fry & Peterson the declared winners of the debate.

Ho hum, right?  It’s not like this is surprising.  Yet the identity politics juggernaut marches forward both in Canada and the USA, aided by a strong and effective ethic of political correctness, which makes open discussion of the issues more difficult than is should be.  The Trump Administration has had only the most marginal effect. There is a special look of terror that comes over the eyes of conservative political leaders when one brings to their attention the opportunity to say or do something that would help. Alas, I have witnessed that look too many times to count.

KIMBERLEY STRASSEL: Was Trump’s Campaign ‘Set Up’? At some point, the Russia investigation became political. How early was it?

And what do you know? Sometime in April, the law firm Perkins Coie (on behalf the Clinton campaign) hired Fusion GPS, and Fusion turned its attention to Trump-Russia connections. The job of any good swamp operator is to gin up a fatal October surprise for the opposition candidate. And what could be more devastating than to paint a picture of Trump-Russia collusion that would provoke a full-fledged FBI investigation?

We already know of at least one way Fusion went about that project, with wild success. It hired former British spy Christopher Steele to compile that infamous dossier. In July, Mr. Steele wrote a memo that leveled spectacular conspiracy theories against two particular Trump campaign members—Messrs. Manafort and Page. For an FBI that already had suspicions about the duo, those allegations might prove huge—right? That is, if the FBI were to ever see them. Though, lucky for Mrs. Clinton, July is when the Fusion team decided it was a matter of urgent national security for Mr. Steele to play off his credentials and to take this political opposition research to the FBI.

The question Mr. Nunes’s committee seems to be investigating is what other moments—if any—were engineered in the spring, summer or fall of 2016 to cast suspicion on Team Trump. The conservative press has produced some intriguing stories about a handful of odd invitations and meetings that were arranged for Messrs. Page and Papadopoulos starting in the spring—all emanating from the United Kingdom. On one hand, that country is home to the well-connected Mr. Steele, which could mean the political actors with whom he was working were involved. On the other hand, the Justice Department has admitted it was spying on both men, which could mean government was involved. Or maybe . . . both.

Which brings us to timing. It’s long been known that Mr. Steele went to the FBI in early July to talk about the dossier, and that’s the first known intersection of the strands. But given the oddity and timing of those U.K. interactions concerning Messrs. Page and Papadopoulos, and given the history of some of the people involved in arranging them, some wonder if the two strands were converging earlier than anyone has admitted. The Intelligence Committee subpoena is designed to sort all this out: Who was pulling the strings, and what was the goal? Information? Or entrapment?

I have a pretty good idea.

BREAKING NEWS FROM 1919: Even Architecture Has Been Overrun by Politically Correct Babbling.

An article published by the April 2017 American Institute of Architects Journal asks: Should architects step into the political ring? The writer, Chris Bentley, recalls the “March for Science,” which was supposed to be non-partisan but wound up being a protest against President Trump. He asks: “Can a March for Architects be far behind?”

The March for Architects may not be here, but architectural PC culture is alive and well.

One need look no further than the city of Chicago to get wind of current trends. Keefer Dunn, a Chicago architect who calls himself an “architectural worker” (that’s a Marxist with a bricks-and-mortar accent), writes: “Architects must reach beyond the profession and locate their activism in the context of mass movements.” Dunn adds: “There is no such thing as an activist architecture, only activist architects.”

Which has been true ever since Walter Gropius founded Germany’s Weimar-era Bauhaus design school in 1919. Both Gropius and the Bauhaus’ last director, Mies van der Rohe, were members of the socialist Novembergruppe of radical artists in the 1920s. Both men, as Jonathan Petropoulos wrote in his 2015 book, Artists Under Hitler, were eager to remain in Germany and work with Weimar’s National Socialist successors, if only their leader hadn’t loathed modernist architecture, in part for his own failures as an artist, and in part for populist reasons.

But in the meantime, as the late Tom Wolfe wrote in From Bauhaus to Our House regarding the Weissenhof Estate project (or Weissenhofsiedlung in German)  that Mies chaired in 1927, bringing in modernist architects from throughout Europe to design ultra-modern, ultra-nonbourgeois worker housing for Stuttgart, and a smaller development, Cité Frugès, in Pessac, France, that Corbusier built in 1924: 

It was as if a new international style were in the wind. The truth was that the internal mechanism of the compound competition, the everlasting reductionism— nonbourgeois!— had forced them all within the same tiny cubicle, which kept shrinking, like the room in Poe’s “The Pit and the Pendulum.” Short of giving up the divine game altogether, they couldn’t possibly have differed from one another in any way visible to another living soul on this earth save another compound architect outfitted, like a cryptographer, with Theory glasses.

And how did worker housing look? It looked nonbourgeois within an inch of its life: the flat roofs, with no cornices, sheer walls, with no window architraves or raised lintels, no capitals or pediments, no colors, just the compound shades, white, beige, gray, and black. The interiors had no crowns or coronets, either. They had pure white rooms, stripped, purged, liberated, freed of all casings, cornices, covings, crown moldings (to say the least), pilasters, and even the ogee edges on tabletops and the beading on drawers. They had open floor plans, ending the old individualistic, bourgeois obsession with privacy. There was no wallpaper, no “drapes,” no Wilton rugs withflowers on them, no lamps with fringed shades and bases that look like vases or Greek columns, no doilies, knickknacks, mantelpieces, headboards, or radiator covers. Radiator coils were left bare as honest, abstract, sculptural objects. And no upholstered furniture with “pretty” fabrics. Furniture was made of Honest Materials in natural tones: leather, tubular steel, bentwood, cane, canvas; the lighter— and harder— the better. And no more “luxurious” rugs and carpets. Gray or black linoleum was the ticket.

And how did the workers like worker housing? Oh, they complained, which was their nature at this stage of history. At Pessac the poor creatures were frantically turning Corbu’s cool cubes inside out trying to make them cozy and colorful. But it was understandable. As Corbu himself said, they had to be “reeducated” to comprehend the beauty of “the Radiant City” of the future. In matters of taste, the architects acted as the workers’ cultural benefactors. There was no use consulting them directly, since, as Gropius had pointed out, they were as yet “intellectually undeveloped.” In fact, here was the great appeal of socialism to architects in the 1920s. Socialism was the political answer, the great yea-saying, to the seemingly outrageous and impossible claims of the compound architect, who insisted that the clientkeep his mouth shut. Under socialism, the client was the worker. Alas, the poor devil was only just now rising up out of the ooze. In the meantime, the architect, the artist, and the intellectual would arrange his life for him. To use Stalin’s phrase, they would be the engineers of his soul. In his apartment blocks in Berlin for employees of the Siemens factory, the soul engineer Gropius decided that the workers should be spared high ceilings and wide hallways, too, along with all of the various outmoded objects and decorations. High ceilings and wide hallways and “spaciousness” in all forms were merely more bourgeois grandiosity, expressed in voids rather than solids. Seven-foot ceilings and thirty-six-inch-wide hallways were about right for … re-creating the world.

How very little has changed in the century since — because “Progressivism” is where time stands still.

YOU DON’T SAY: When It Comes to Iran, Threats and Pressure Get Results.

Obama gave them billions and didn’t even get a lousy t-shirt:

This principle was best illustrated in a particularly testy moment during the final days of the 2015 nuclear negotiations. Western foreign ministers were trying to keep in place a U.N. conventional arms embargo on Iran, and they brought up the regime’s support for terrorism throughout the Middle East. Iran’s foreign minister, Javad Zarif, responded that he could bring American and European governments before The Hague for their support of Saddam Hussein in the 1980s. “Never threaten an Iranian,” he said, according to multiple reports at the time.

With apologies to Zarif, threatening Iran’s regime has worked in the past and may be working again now. Just look at the reaction Tuesday evening from Iran’s largely powerless president, Hassan Rouhani, to President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the U.S. from the 2015 nuclear deal. Rouhani did not begin uranium enrichment or kick out inspectors. Instead he announced that Iran would remain a party to the agreement with Europe, and would begin negotiations on changes.

Rouhani, who lacks real political power, of course could be overruled. Other Iranian leaders have threatened to restart the nuclear program. What’s more, the Iranians will no doubt try to press America’s European allies for more concessions to an already weak nuclear bargain.

But if history is any guide, the Iranian regime won’t push too far if its leaders believe Trump’s threats are credible.

As we learned yesterday, it’s the Israelis they really have to worry about — and by backing out of the nuclear deal, Trump has let the Israelis off the leash.

BETSY WOODRUFF: Trump’s New Lawyer Likely to Cut Him Off From Mueller Interview.

A longtime Washington lawyer who’s known Flood for quite some time and who spoke anonymously because of client sensitivities said there’s no chance Flood will let the president sit for an interview with Mueller.

“Mueller finally has somebody who’s his match,” that person said. “You’ve got a fair fight now.”

The person also said White House Counsel Don McGahn played a significant role in bringing Flood onto the president’s legal team—pushing for him to be offered Ty Cobb’s job and working to convince him to take the position. McGahn and Cobb reportedly had frequent clashes about how to handle the president’s legal woes, and Cobb was overheard complaining about McGahn at the BLT Steak restaurant a few blocks from the White House. With Flood, the president’s lawyers are likely to be more unified in an aggressive posture toward Mueller.

“He comes across like a Columbo-type—unassuming, but the intellect is gargantuan,” the person added.

Well, good.

WIRED MAGAZINE EDITOR EQUATES TRUMP TO A ‘STEPFATHER WHO WAS GOING TO RAPE US:’

On the final day of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, the editor of one of the country’s leading magazines felt it appropriate to compare President Donald Trump’s inauguration to incestuous rape.

In a tweet posted Monday afternoon, Virginia Heffernan, a contributing editor for Wired, referred to former President Barack Obama as “our true father” and equated Trump to “a stepfather who was going to rape us”:

Heffernan tweeted, “When Obama left the White House in a helicopter that horrible day, I had the impression our true father was leaving & the nation was stuck with a stepfather who was going to rape us. Now I increasingly believe that the media is the mother who won’t stand up for us & defy him.”

What is it with Wired staffers and presidential-induced melodrama? Back in November of 2008, it was then-Wired contributor Spencer Ackerman who infamously wrote on the Journolist, immediately after Obama won, “Let’s just throw [PJM columnist Michael] Ledeen against a wall. Or, pace Dr. Alterman, throw him through a plate glass window. I’ll bet a little spot of violence would shut him right the fuck up, as with most bullies.”

I’m so old, I can remember, prior to its acquisition in 1998 by Condé Nast, that Wired’s editors were made of sterner stuff, back when the magazine was founded by a libertarian. Speaking of whom, Louis Rossetto takes a much more reasoned view of Trump than today’s Wired editors, telling Reason’s Nick Gillespie:

For most of my life, my tendency has been to try to diminish the power of the state. Part of that is literal power, and part of it is the power that’s in your head. The president has become this figure of immense authority that you’re obliged to respect, who has the ability to project that power all over the planet.

Trump is a refreshing reminder that the guy in the White House is another human being. The power of the state is way too exalted. Bringing that power back to human scale is an important part of what needs to be done to correct the insanity that’s been going on, where you have these large institutions that control all aspects of our lives. Leaching respect out of the state is kind of a good thing.

Not the least of which, a child-like worldview that makes you equate the president to your father or step-father, and the media to his wife.

OUCH: Evan McMullin: A Colonoscopy.

Here is a trivia question that no one will get right in the coming years:

Name a Republican candidate for president in 2016 who attracted the support of once-principled conservatives who betrayed their long-held beliefs out of tribal hate, who abused his staff after the campaign was over, grandstanded on Twitter to no discernible purpose, and may have committed campaign finance violations, all while pretending to be the voice of a frustrated nation.

You can just imagine a frizzy-haired, bespectacled left-winger frantically raising his hand and shouting “Donald Trump” in response to this question, can’t you? Alas, as in everything else, he would be wrong. The correct answer is “Evan McMullin.”

I never understood the rationale for his candidacy, other than as a way to keep some consultants employed after their favored candidates lost in the primary. Plus:

Which brings us back to the scandals engulfing McMullin now, and the massive self-made petard upon which he has been hoisted.

Truly, the fact that McMullin’s “campaign” was a debt-ridden mess, that his current organization is a sinking ship that can’t even pay rats to steer it, and that McMullin himself is precisely the sort of grandstanding, conscienceless threat to republican ideals of self-government that he accuses of Trump of being, ranks as one of the least surprising truths to be confirmed in years. His campaign deserves no cash, its legal failings deserve no mercy, and he deserves no pity. Neither do those who propped him up, for the sake of their own bruised egos and emptying wallets.

As for those who supported him, whether because of misguided zealotry or misinformation? Well, perhaps they deserve a scrap of our understanding and compassion, though not much more than that. In their rush to support a “patriotic” intelligence community hero who was also a True Conservative ™, they ended up enabling a vapid, narcissistic, sanctimonious human pool cue.

If the story of Evan McMullin’s success can be summed up with one indictment, is that Bush-era credulity toward seemingly upstanding young men who are trying to Keep Us Safe permitted many Republican voters and intellectuals to forget that patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel. Though at this point, I’ll grant McMullin’s supporters that he’s too dull to be a scoundrel.

One thing, however, he proves beyond dispute: True Conservatism ™ is the last refuge of a sponge.

Ouch.

WILLIAM MCGURN: The Elitists’ Trump Excuse: His critics may be more corrupting to democracy and decency than he is.

The election and its aftermath have been an education in how the smart set responds when the American people refuse the judgment of their self-styled betters. In its most honest form, it is the “Resist!” movement. In the more genteel version, it turns out to mean not just opposing Mr. Trump’s policies, which people can reasonably do, but throwing fairness and principle to the wind so long as it might help bring down the 45th president. Consider:

• In the thick of the 2016 election, the New York Times ran a front-page article in which it advertised that the particular dangers posed by Mr. Trump’s candidacy meant that the long-held norm of journalism—objectivity—might have to give way to a more oppositional approach.

• Good liberals once found the idea of spying on American citizens without just cause unconscionable. But when the target is a former Trump campaign associate, it becomes OK to get a warrant based on an unverified dossier paid for by the Hillary Clinton campaign.

• James Clapper, President Obama’s director of national intelligence, revised procedures to make it easier for executive branch officials to “unmask” the names of Americans in intelligence reports and share the information among themselves, making leaks all but inevitable. The illegal leak of Mike Flynn’s name in connection with a phone conversation with Russia’s ambassador was one result. But again, it doesn’t matter because he was a Trump transition official.

• When Sally Yates was acting attorney general and President Trump issued an executive order on immigration she objected to, Ms. Yates ordered the entire Justice Department not to obey, despite a finding from the department’s Office of Legal Counsel that the order was lawful. She was applauded in her insubordination by Andrew Weissmann, then a Justice attorney, who now serves on Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team. But it’s all for a good cause, right?

• In the middle of a #MeToo moment ostensibly all about more respect for women, the president’s press secretary, Sarah Sanders, has been derided as everything from a “summer whore” to “a slightly chunky soccer mom.” Though the columnist who wrote the latter has since apologized, the accomplished Mrs. Sanders must wonder what happened to “when they go low, we go high?”

• The pardon power enjoyed by the president is among the most unfettered in the Constitution. But because the president is Mr. Trump, and the pardon for controversial Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has opted for lawlessness: appointing a special prosecutor to investigate the pardon’s legitimacy, in clear violation of the separation of powers.

Meanwhile, week after week, the same people who accuse Mr. Trump of lacking depth and nuance toss off allusions to Hilter, Stalin and a parade of murderous dictators. Channeling Mrs. Clinton, they insist that anyone who would chose Mr. Trump over her—or God forbid, agree to serve in a Trump administration—isn’t just wrong but forever morally tainted.

The people aren’t stupid. The 63 million Americans who voted for Mr. Trump—some as an unappealing but better alternative to Mrs. Clinton, but many with gusto—recognize that what is going on here is a concerted effort to overturn the results of a legitimate presidential election. Is it really unreasonable to ask whether this might be as much of a threat to American democracy as anything Mr. Trump has said or done?

Nope. Trump’s election — or, more specifically, the reaction thereto — revealed that we have been ruled by moral and intellectual failures for some time. But what they lack in competence, humility, and integrity, they make up for in self-importance and entitlement.

JACK GOLDSMITH ON THE DEEP STATE:

Jack Goldsmith, writing in the Guardian, tells us that the “deep state” is real and dangerous. His assertions carry weight for two reasons.

First, Goldsmith should know. He was a high ranking Justice Department official — head the Office of Legal Counsel — during part of the George W. Bush administration. This placed him in the middle of issues regarding national security, electronic surveillance, and the like. He also worked closely with James Comey, including during the famous incident at Attorney General Ashcroft’s hospital bed that made Comey famous (or at least a legend in his own mind).

Goldsmith is also author of Power and Constraint, a book I reviewed for the Federalist Society. Goldsmith’s research kept him very much in touch with the deep state and issues relating to its power.

Second, Goldsmith is a strong critic of President Trump. Thus I view his agreement with Trump about the “deep state” as more significant than the concurrence of Trump’s defenders, from whom we normally hear such assertions.

Says Goldsmith:

America doesn’t have coups or tanks in the street. But a deep state of sorts exists here and it includes national security bureaucrats who use secretly collected information to shape or curb the actions of elected officials. . . .

The deep state has been blamed for many things since Donald Trump became president, including by the president himself. Trump defenders have used the term promiscuously to include not just intelligence bureaucrats but a broader array of connected players in other administrative bureaucracies, in private industry, and in the media.

But even if we focus narrowly on the intelligence bureaucracies that conduct and use information collected secretly in the homeland, including the FBI, National Security Agency (NSA), and National Security Council, there is significant evidence that the deep state has used secretly collected information opportunistically and illegally to sabotage the president and his senior officials – either as part of a concerted movement or via individuals acting more or less independently. . . .

Since Trump was elected, unusually sensitive leaks of intelligence information designed to discredit him and his senior leadership have poured forth from current and former intelligence officials in the deep state. . . .

These leaks probably mark the first time ever that the content of foreign intelligence intercepts aimed at foreign agents that swept up US-person information was leaked. They clearly aimed to damage US persons – ones who happen to also be senior US government officials.

They were unlawful and, beyond that, they violated two until-now strict taboos about leaks – first on revealing the content of foreign intelligence information collected through electronic surveillance, and second on revealing the content of incidentally collected information about American citizens.

Many people, including many who are not in the Trump camp, have interpreted these leaks to violate a third taboo by marking a return to the Hoover-era FBI’s use of secretly collected information to sabotage elected officials with adverse political interests. . . .

[W]hile Hoover did many awful things in quiet, neither during his reign nor at any other time in American history have we seen such a profusion of sensitive leaks from the deep state with such an overtly political aim to bring down senior leadership.

Yes, this appears to be a coordinated bureaucratic attempt to overturn a democratic election.

I THINK IT’S SIGNIFICANT THAT THIS IS IN THE WEEKLY STANDARD: NeverTrumpers: What if Trump really is making America great again?

They are afflicted with a nagging suspicion. Trump might, how shall they whisper it, Make America Great Again.

The tax bill has given the economy a bit of a tailwind, most Americans have more money in their pockets, and corporations have greater incentives to step up spending and to bring some funds home. The NAFTA trade agreement with Mexico and Canada likely will be revised to America’s advantage. The president’s decision to punish Assad for crossing the red line that Obama refused to enforce is popular and his decision to defer to his military advisers and keep the response targeted so as not to induce a response from Russia has met with broad approval. His threats against North Korea—my nukes are bigger than your nukes—appalled the fastidious members of the establishment diplomatic community, but have Kim Jong-un claiming to be willing to negotiate a peace treaty with South Korea and détente with the United States.

Then there is China. Trump has done what previous administrations failed to do: forced China to make some concessions, opening at least a crack in the wall it has erected against imports. Majority-owned American financial firms will gain entry into several sectors, and tariffs on made-in-America automobiles will come down, while the United States tightens restrictions on intellectual property theft by the Chinese regime, in part by limiting China’s ability to buy tech-heavy U.S. firms. Even dyed-in-the-cotton-apparel free-traders are now conceding that the president’s negotiating tactic—threaten to bring down the international system, unless it gets fixed—is working. And should have been tried administrations ago. . . .

So here is BT and AT:

Before Trump, Assad could use chemical weapons with impunity; after Trump, he pays a steep price. BT, China could plunder American intellectual property and disregard the rules of the trading system that it has manipulated in its rise to power; AT, it fears Trump’s tariffs sufficiently to begin modifying its unfair trading practices. BT, Russia could wage cyberwar on the U.S. electoral system without fear of response from America; AT, Putin and his oligarch cronies find themselves being cut off from access to the world financial system. BT, the economy was mired in sub-trend growth; AT and his tax cut, growth is up. BT, in the post-war years most presidents projected a dignity of sorts; AT, presidential dignity is not even considered a virtue.

Seems like a fair deal.

WHOM THE GODS DESTROY THEY FIRST MAKE NIXONIAN: When does reporting become breaking and entering?

You probably recall this story from February, though it didn’t seem to have much of a lifespan in the mainstream press. New York Magazine reporter Olivia Nuzzi was found to have gone into the home of Corey Lewandowski when he wasn’t there and taken a picture as part of a story she was working on. There may be a lawsuit or criminal trial coming out of that as a result, but the details remain unclear. It should seem obvious to one and all that Nuzzi did something wrong, but precisely how wrong was it?

That’s the question Joan Vennochi at the Boston Globe is tackling this week, and to my great surprise, she appears to find some sort of gray area. Sure, it was a crime. But was it a crime crime (to adapt a phrase from Whoopi Goldberg about rape)? She’s even able to find some experts to back up the idea that there might be a different, more flexible standard of justice for special people like reporters.

I’m old enough to remember when a “third-rate burglary” was the stuff of impeachment, if it benefitted a Republican. In contrast, “Liberals need to stop trying to get us to call them ‘progressives’ or whatever word it is this week,” Kathy Shaidle once wrote. “They should just get brutally honest with themselves and with the rest of us and rename themselves the ‘It’s Different When We Do It’ Party.”

As Glenn noted last month, “Trump’s superpower is his ability, just by existing, to bring out the deep and pervasive rot in America’s institutions and the people who run them.”

WELCOME TO THE NEW CLASS WARFARE.

The Democratic Party was once considered the home of working people. That changed as mainstream liberals of the 1960s such as Hubert Humphrey, John and Bobby Kennedy, and AFL-CIO leader George Meany were replaced by radicals and their ideological offspring.

A key moment in that transition came during Barack Obama’s first presidential campaign. Before a group of wealthy supporters in California, Obama spoke condescendingly of people in small towns in Pennsylvania and the Midwest where “the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing’s replaced them. . . . And it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.” . . .

Angelo Codevilla, professor emeritus at Boston University, noted that “America is now ruled by a uniformly educated class of persons that occupies the commanding heights of the bureaucracy, of the judiciary, education, the media, and of large corporations, and that wields political power through the Democratic Party. Its control of access to prestige, power, privilege, and wealth exerts a gravitational pull that has made the Republican Party’s elites into its satellites.”

Indeed, rabidly anti-Trump Republicans shared Democrats’ disdain for Trump supporters. Kevin Williamson of National Review wrote, “The white American underclass is in thrall to a vicious, selfish culture whose main products are misery and used heroin needles. Donald Trump’s speeches make them feel good. So does OxyContin. What they need isn’t analgesics, literal or political. They need real opportunity, which means that they need real change, which means that they need U-Haul.”

From there, it was a short walk to Hillary’s Clinton’s description of half of Trump supporters as “deplorables.”

What you’re seeing now, played out every night on the news, is class warfare.

America’s privileged elites refuse to accept Trump as president and support any effort, no matter how absurd, to bring him down. (Impeach him! He’s a Russian spy!)

Trump may be a New York billionaire, but to the elites, he’s a man of Queens—the Queens of working-class history and Archie Bunker stereotype—rather than a sophisticated Manhattanite, who would be fit for the presidency.

Worse, he is a stand-in for his supporters. Too many of them are the kind of folks who work on farms or in factories or on construction projects. Too many are the sort who take showers after they get home from work rather than before they leave for work.

It’s a pattern repeated throughout history: Members of one group—say, the British aristocracy, or the Bourbon planter class in the South—come to dominate members of another group—the peasantry, or poor African-Americans and white farmers. In the minds of the elites, the advantages they experience must be the result of their innate superiority; they are more moral, more sophisticated, more intelligent than the lower classes. They’re just better.

I think the Educational Testing Service has aggravated this phenomenon.

NEWS YOU CAN USE: The Ruling Class Hates You.

I thought love trumps hate. That’s what I’ve been led to believe by an effusion of t-shirts, bumper stickers, and social media postings from the self-styled anti-Trump Resistance™. As my friend Roger Kimball likes to say, there really is nothing like the intoxication of moral superiority.

The syrupy slogans promulgated by the ruling class, ruling class wannabes, and fellow travelers on the Left aren’t fooling anyone, not even, I would guess, the people who say, wear, and post them. Truth is, they really don’t like the rest of us. No problem, we have our own lives and families. But it’s only not a problem until such disdain is combined with a sense of political entitlement and the coercive power of government.

Which brings us to the political and cultural union of the Democratic Party and the permanent political class called the deep state, that forms the unelected, unaccountable fourth branch of government that wields so much power up to and including the police power of the FBI.

In private texts recently made public, FBI “super-agent” Peter Strozk and his mistress, FBI lawyer Lisa Page, were quite candid. Their open disdain for a wide variety for groups including Italians, Russians, Romanians, gypsies, Virginians, Texans, and pro-lifers should surprise no one. The leaders of their party have been saying the same thing in public for years.

Deplorable-Americans are too ornery. They’d like to replace them with populations they expect to be more tractable.

LIZ SHELD’S MORNING BRIEF: SOTU Day, ‘Andy’s office’ is Empty and Much, Much More. “Presidential-hopeful Senator Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY) is bringing the wacky Mayor of San Juan. Some politicians will be bringing members of the DACA crew. Some will not show up at all. The left will also offer no less than six different responses to Trump’s speech.”

I’ll drunkblog SOTU tonight, with the able assistance of the Hot Mic crew.

JASON L. RILEY: Public Seems To Care More About Trump’s Actions As President Than Porn Star Rumors:

The ho-hum public response to the allegations could reflect scandal fatigue or, sadly, the widespread belief that Donald Trump covering up affairs with porn stars is neither out of character nor any big deal.

But it also could mean that what the president has accomplished in his first year matters more. Jobless claims last week were the lowest on record in 45 years. Target and Wal-Mart are increasing pay and handing out bonuses. Apple, which has deferred paying taxes on foreign earning for years, has announced that it is bringing billions in cash back to the U.S. to invest. Visa and Aflac are increasing their 401(k) match for employees. Mr. Trump not only promised tax reform and delivered tax reform but every early indication is that the tax reform is doing what he said it would do.

How about that?

MOMENTUM: Emboldened conservatives press Ryan to bring hard-right immigration bill to floor.

Related: Shock poll: Americans want massive cuts to legal immigration: Cutting chain migration even more popular than legalizing Dreamers. “A Harvard-Harris poll taken in the run-up to the shutdown found Americans strongly support granting citizenship rights to illegal immigrant Dreamers. But they also back Mr. Trump’s three demands for a border wall, limits to the chain of family migration and an end to the Diversity Visa Lottery. Most striking of all is the public’s demand for lower overall legal immigration — a position that has little traction on Capitol Hill but one that is overwhelmingly popular across the country.”

Also: Immigration deal in jeopardy after Democrats retract border wall funding.

Plus: Michael Barone: After shutdown, Republicans have leverage on immigration.

THIS STINKS TO HIGH HEAVEN: FBI ‘Failed To Preserve’ Five Months Of Text Messages Between Anti-Trump FBI Agents.

The FBI “failed to preserve” five months worth of text messages exchanged between Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, the two FBI employees who made pro-Clinton and anti-Trump comments while working on the Clinton email and the Russia collusion investigations.

The disclosure was made Friday in a letter sent by the Justice Department to the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (HSGAC).

“The Department wants to bring to your attention that the FBI’s technical system for retaining text messages sent and received on FBI mobile devices failed to preserve text messages for Mr. Strzok and Ms. Page,” Stephen Boyd, the assistant attorney general for legislative affairs at the Justice Department, wrote to Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson, the chairman of HSGAC. (RELATED: FBI Agents Discussed ‘Insurance Policy’ Against Trump Win)

He said that texts are missing for the period between Dec. 14, 2016 and May 17, 2017.

There have been so many episodes like this where crucial evidence is “lost” that I don’t believe any of it anymore.

Related: NSA erased surveillance data related to pending lawsuits: Report.

Surveillance data the National Security Agency vowed to preserve related to pending lawsuits has been erased, and the agency did not take several precautions it told a federal court it would take to ensure the data did not get deleted, court filings reveal.

Top NSA officials should be jailed for contempt. But they won’t because the law is for the little people.

A DONALD TRUMP OPED IN THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER: A Year of Real Change.

We are putting America first, making real change in Washington, and creating opportunities for all of our people. From coast to coast, there is a renewed spirit. Our country is roaring back more quickly than anyone could have predicted. The American Dream is real again.

Estimates predict the U.S. economy grew at an annualized rate of more than 3 percent in the fourth quarter of last year – just like it did in the two quarters before that. The economy has created more than 2 million new jobs, and the unemployment rate has fallen to its lowest rate in 17 years: 4.1 percent. We have achieved the lowest African-American unemployment rate on record, and the unemployment rate for Hispanic Americans has also hit historic lows. Chrysler has announced plans to bring jobs and production back to the U.S. from Mexico. And the stock market continues to set record high after record high.

Just before Christmas, we enacted massive tax cuts and tax reform for the American people. For the first time in 30 years, we reformed the tax code to make it simpler and fairer. We have lowered rates for both individuals and businesses, expanded 529 education savings accounts to be used for K-12 education, and doubled the child tax credit. These changes will not only allow Americans to keep more of their hard-earned money, but they will help make American workers and businesses competitive again. This sweeping reform also repealed Obamacare’s individual mandate – an unpopular, cruel, and burdensome tax that hit low- and middle-income Americans the hardest.

Over the year, as Americans have seen increases in their paychecks and retirement accounts, American companies in every sector have grown their business and created more jobs.

This is a real test of the “It’s the economy, stupid,” school of politics.

WEIRD HOW THAT’S SUDDENLY HAPPENING NOW: It looks like Apple is bringing back home nearly all of its $250 billion in foreign cash. “Using the new 15.5 percent repatriation tax rate, the $38 billion tax payment disclosed by Apple means they are planning a $245 billion repatriation. The tax overhaul, which President Donald Trump signed into law last month, also lowered the corporate tax rate to 21 percent from 35 percent. After the repatriation tax payment, the company will have $207 billion left over from the move it can use for investments, acquisitions, stock buybacks or larger dividends. Apple said it plans more than $30 billion in capital expenditures in the U.S. during the next five years.”


PORKBUSTERS UPDATE: Don’t refill the swamp by restoring earmarks, President Trump.

While President Trump wants to drain the swamp, his White House has been repeatedly checked by a gridlocked Congress. Now, Trump wants to grease the wheels a bit. He wants to bring back earmarks.

“I think we should look at a form of earmarks,” Trump told lawmakers gathered at the White House on Tuesday. “One thing it did is it brought everybody together.” The other thing it will do is permanently rebrand the party of fiscal responsibility into the party of graft, pork, and greed.

To be sure, earmarks make the legislative process a bit more efficient. And it’s understandable why a dealmaker like Trump would find them appealing as a negotiating aid. But they also lead to waste. Even the president admitted as much when he said that earmarks “got a little bit out of hand.”

When negotiations break down, obstructionists sell their votes for things like a $233-million bridge nobody needs, $3.4-million worth of tunnels for turtles, and $500,000 for a teapot museum. Old, greasy hands like former Rep. Charlie Rangel were even able to secure funding for personal monuments. That New York Democrat christened the Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service with $1.9 million in taxpayer money.

Most lawmakers don’t remember, though. When some Republicans tried to bring earmarks back shortly after Trump’s inauguration, Tom Schatz, president of Citizens Against Government Waste, warned that “63 percent of House Republicans have been elected since 2010” and as a result “have no personal knowledge or experience with earmarks.”

Those post-pork members didn’t witness the conservative crusade to end the practice. “If there’s a public vote [on earmarks],” former Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., warned me last February, “Republicans are going to get killed by some of these grassroots organizations out there now.” In other words, they can’t comprehend the rake they would be stepping on if they do this before the midterm elections.

That’s absolutely right.

CONSERVATIVES IN UPROAR ON TRUMP’S ‘BRING BACK EARMARKS’ COMMENT: President Donald Trump mused during today’s White House meeting with Republican and Democrat congressional figures that back in the good old days when congressmen could be bought and stayed bought for the right (earmark) price (OK, that’s not exactly how it was said but cut me a little Wolffian slack here), there was a lot more bipartisanship. It took about three nanoseconds for leaders of the fight a decade ago to abolish earmarks to roast Trump.

SWAMP DRAINING: How the Trump era is changing the federal bureaucracy.

Nearly a year into his takeover of Washington, President Trump has made a significant down payment on his campaign pledge to shrink the federal bureaucracy, a shift long sought by conservatives that could eventually bring the workforce down to levels not seen in decades.

By the end of September, all Cabinet departments except Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs and Interior had fewer permanent staff than when Trump took office in January — with most shedding many hundreds of employees, according to an analysis of federal personnel data by The Washington Post.

* * * * * * *

“Morale has never been lower,” said Tony Reardon, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, which represents 150,000 federal workers at more than 30 agencies. “Government is making itself a lot less attractive as an employer.”

It would take a heart of stone not to laugh at the funereal tone of this Washington Post article.

WHY ARE BLUE STATES SUCH CESSPITS OF MISOGYNY AND ABUSE? Politico: California Dems face sexual-harassment meltdown. “Just how bad is this scandal, anyway? Bad enough for some progressive activists to claim that the Democrats are hiding rapists and molesters among their leaders:”

Among those who have been outspoken in their demands for more action is Christine Pelosi, chairwoman of the California Democratic Party Women’s Caucus and Nancy Pelosi’s daughter, who told lawmakers at the start of an Assembly hearing last month, “We have rapists in this building. We have molesters among us.” …

“It’s kind of a snowball effect, and every week seems to bring a new powerful man who is brought down by these accusations,” said Jessica Levinson, a Los Angeles-based political analyst. “And I don’t feel that we’ve totally cleaned house- and all the accusations are made and everybody else who remains in power has never conducted themselves in an inappropriate way before.”

I remember when Dems cheered the takedowns of Bill O’Reilly and Roger Ailes, and predicted that Trump would be next.

IT’S COME TO THIS: Back in February Bill Kristol, founder of the Weekly Standard tweeted, “Obviously strongly prefer normal democratic and constitutional politics. But if it comes to it, prefer the deep state to the Trump state.” The once-stalwart conservative spent the rest of the year harrumphing Trump’s policies, and predicting in August, “Tax reform won’t even get a vote in Congress this year. I’d be surprised if it made it through committee in either house.” During a late October tweetstorm spotted by Bryon York of the Washington Examiner, Kristol labeled “those who fail to denounce Trump ‘collaborators’ and ‘fellow travelers.’”

Which brings us to the latest issue of Kristol’s magazine, which gushes with praise over Katharine Graham, the publisher of the Washington Post from August of 1963, when she inherited the paper after her husband committed suicide, until her son Donald took over in 1979. During this tumultuous period in America’s history, Graham’s paper published (along with the New York Times) the anti-Vietnam War “Pentagon Papers,” and then led the reporting on Watergate. The latter was condensed into the (much fictionalized but brilliant) motion picture All the President’s Men. The former is the subject of Steven Spielberg’s latest movie The Post. As Armond White of NRO notes in his critical review, “Spielberg directs it as an addendum to All the President’s Men (1976), the most narcissistic of all newspaper films.”

Curiously though, the Standard’s article on the movie is headlined, “In ‘The Post’ Katharine Graham Finally Gets Her Due,” and is written by “Amy Henderson…Historian Emerita of the National Portrait Gallery, [who] writes frequently on media and culture.” Henderson gushes that:

[Liz Hylton, Graham’s long-time executive assistant (played in the movie by Jennifer Dundas)] also introduced me to Ben Bradlee. Then in his late ’80s, he still radiated abundant charm. In the movie The Post, Tom Hanks plays Bradlee and is terrific, but I couldn’t shake the memory of Ben Bradlee’s glow-in-the-dark dazzle.

Meryl Streep nails her character—snagging wonderfully how Katharine Graham looked, sounded, moved, and gestured. The one dissonant chord I felt was how her character is portrayed in 1971 when the Post first became entangled with the Pentagon Papers crisis. Graham by then had been publisher for eight years, and I think she had grown beyond the hesitant and deferential person depicted early in the movie. She hired Bradlee in 1965, and the paper had steadily moved toward being a national paper competitive with the New York Times. By 1971, Graham was certainly not the woman she had described in her memoir as “not capable of governing, leading, or managing anything but our homes and children.”

The movie telescopes Katharine Graham’s transformation quickly during the Pentagon Papers crisis, depicting her telling Bradlee at a critical point, “Yes, let’s go, let’s publish.” This scene shows that she has gathered the strength and leadership that will be crucial during the coming Watergate crisis, where it would be her decision to allow Woodward and Bernstein to proceed with the investigation that brought down a president.

In her centennial year, The Post is finally giving Katharine Graham the recognition she deserves. Three cheers!

Fascinating to read a once-conservative Website describe the media’s destruction of a Republican president as an apparently unalloyed good thing. (“Three cheers!”) For a much-less hagiographic portrait of Graham (whom we now know, in addition to the JFK-worshipping Bradlee, also employed his Ouija board toting wife Sally Quinn), Mark Steyn’s 2001 obit has you covered:

One writer stood head and shoulders above the crowd, which admittedly isn’t terribly difficult when everybody else is prostrate. The anonymous editorialist at The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review evidently returned from lunch drunk and momentarily forgot himself. Possibly while working as a busboy in Washington in the early Sixties he’d been the victim of some casual slight by Mrs Graham. At any rate, summing up her life he started conventionally enough but then wandered deplorably off-message:

Born in New York City, the daughter of multimillionaire Eugene Meyer, she grew up privileged. In keeping with her father’s fortune, she graduated from Vassar College, where she was involved with the leftist trends of the day …

She married Felix Frankfurter’s brilliant law clerk, Philip Graham, who took over running The Post, which her father purchased at a bankruptcy sale. Graham built the paper but became estranged from Kay. She had him committed to a mental hospital, and he was clearly intending divorce when she signed him out and took him for a weekend outing during which he was found shot. His death was ruled a suicide. Within 48 hours, she declared herself the publisher.

That’s the stuff! As the Tribune-Review’s chap has it, Mrs G got her philandering spouse banged up in the nuthouse and then arranged a weekend pass with a one-way ticket. “His death was ruled a suicide.” Lovely touch that. Is it really possible Katharine Graham offed her hubby? Who cares? To those who think the worst problem with the American press is its awful stultifying homogeneity, the Tribune-Review’s deranged perverseness is to be cherished. Give that man a Pulitzer!

But, of course, they never do. Instead, with feeble predictability, they gave the Pulitzer to Mrs Graham’s own carefully veiled memoir, Personal History. Her formula for her publications was succinctly expressed: “Mass With Class” – “perhaps the best three-word definition for what a good news magazine should be,” wrote Mark Whitaker in Newsweek*. But what “Mass With Class” boils down to in practice is the genteel middlebrow conformity that makes so much of the mainstream US media such a world-class yawnfest. “Mass With Class” means you don’t ask Hillary Clinton about her husband’s perjury and trashing of his female, ahem, acquaintances but only whether she finds it difficult coping with the accusations and if she thinks this is because conservatives have a difficult time dealing with her as a strong intelligent woman in her own right.

It retrospect, it was the first word in Graham’s “Mass With Class” strategy that made her publications viable far more than Graham’s desire for a parlor-room tone. There simply weren’t a whole lot of alternatives for news about DC during Graham’s heyday, as I wrote a decade ago in “Atlas Mugged,” a history of “How a Gang of Scrappy Individual Bloggers Broke the Stranglehold of the Mainstream Media:”

By the early 1970s, mass media had reached its zenith (if you’ll pardon the pun). Most Americans were getting their news from one of three TV networks’ half-hour nightly broadcasts. With the exception of New York, most big cities had only one or two primary newspapers. And no matter what a modern newspaper’s lineage, by and large its articles, except for local issues, came from global wire services like the Associated Press or Reuters; it took its editorial lead from the New York Times; and it claimed to be impartial (while usually failing miserably).

Up until the Reagan years, [Shannon Love of the libertarian-leaning Chicago Boyz econoblog] says, “definitely fewer than one hundred people, and maybe as few as twenty people, actually decided what constituted national news in the United States.” These individuals were principally concentrated within a few square blocks of midtown Manhattan, the middle of which was home to the offices of the New York Times. The aptly nicknamed “Gray Lady” largely shaped the editorial agendas not just of newspapers but of television, as well. As veteran TV news correspondent Bernard Goldberg wrote in his 2003 book Arrogance, “If the New York Times went on strike tomorrow morning, they’d have to cancel the CBS, NBC, and ABC evening newscasts tomorrow night.”

Love calls this “the Parliament of Clocks”: creating the illusion of truth or accuracy by force of consensus. “Really, the only way that consumers can tell that they’re getting accurate information is to check another media source,” Love says. “And unfortunately, that creates an incentive for the media sources to all agree on the same story.”

Curiously, old media hates the Internet’s diversity of news sources, and in the post-9/11 era, their rapidly growing popularity on both sides of the aisle ultimately led to the Graham family famously offloading Newsweek in 2010 for a dollar to elderly stereo mogul Sidney Harman (it’s since been sold), and then the Post itself to Jeff Bezos in 2013 for $250 million. “A huge wad to be sure,” John Podhoretz wrote in the New York Post at the time, “but 1/20th of what the paper’s selling price might have been 15 years ago when no one thought it would ever be for sale — [it] is a reminder of the biblical adage: How art the mighty fallen.It certainly was mighty. And it deserved its fall. The Washington Post was once both a great and hateful newspaper.”

It’s no wonder that Spielberg and the MSM are nostalgic for an earlier era, when the MSM’s bottleneck on information led to the toppling of a Republican president**, and have the feverish desire to put the band back together again and do it again. The big surprise is that Kristol’s Weekly Standard seems to be yearning to see such an outcome as well.

* “Mass with Class” is definitely not the operating approach of Newsweek’s current incarnation.

** As veteran journalist Joseph Campbell notes at his Media Myth Alert blog, it wasn’t nearly that straightforward, but self-serving journalistic fables die particularly hard.

GARRISON KEILLOR? WHO HE? Rod Dreher links to a column by David Vossbrink of the San Jose Mercury, who notes “Erasing Garrison Keillor’s Prairie Home Companion is a ‘1984’-like excess:”

Garrison Keillor has been disappeared into the Memory Hole. If you look for his biography or the archived shows from a half century of “A Prairie Home Companion” on the website of Minnesota Public Radio since his fall from grace, you’ll now find only this: “Sorry, but there’s no page here.”

Keillor and his entire body of work from “A Prairie Home Companion” and “Writer’s Almanac” have been effectively erased from the archives of MPR, along with the work of all the other storytellers, singers, poets and production staff who made the shows successful.

In these tumultuous days of unceasing revelations of sexual scandals in media, politics and business, media enterprises especially face a new ethical challenge with their fallen stars: What do you do with history and art?

As Dreher writes:

If you only chose to partake of art, music, and literature created by morally upstanding persons, you’d quickly come to the end of what’s available. Museums would empty out. Concert halls would fall silent. Bookstores would have to be repurposed as yoga studios, and movie theaters as hipster churches. The unfortunate truth is that bad, or at least deeply flawed, people often make the best art.

Assuming the worst about Garrison Keillor’s private behavior does not negate the decades of pleasure — wholesome pleasure, let it be noted; my kids and I used to listen to his show together — that his quality radio program provided. If we grant MPR and content-owners like them the right to erase the artistic legacy of creators like Keillor, where does it stop? Who will be next?

Indeed. Meanwhile, a former Martin O’Malley 2016 presidential campaign state coordinator and DNC organizer named Race Hochdorf explores “Garrison Keillor & The Dark Side Of #MeToo:”

One defense of assuming guilt is “Why would a woman lie about harassment or assault?” This is irritating for two reasons: 1) It presents women as saintly creatures, come down from heaven above, who would never ever have the desire to lie about abuse for any social or material benefit whatsoever (though this actually happens frequently in child custody cases, and despite the fact that several false rape allegations have made headlines in the past decade: The Rolling Stone/UVA case, the Duke Lacrosse case, and the Columbia University/“Mattress Girl” case to name just a few), and 2) It suggests that if no clear motive for lying about an incident can be immediately discerned, then automatic belief should be chosen over neutral investigation.

Another defense of assuming guilt of the alleged perpetrator is that the approach isn’t meant to be applied to the legal system, only applied in a social context. And what reassurance that is! Don’t worry men. If you ever find yourself among the 2-10% of persons falsely accused of rape, you can sleep easy knowing that even if a court of law finds you not guilty, society will loathe and ostracize you regardless. But this doesn’t matter to mainstream feminist writers and activists. In fact, they’re ecstatic about the possibility of innocent men being concerned and worried.

Emily Lindin, a columnist for Teen Vogue, tweeted: “Sorry. If some innocent men’s reputations have to take a hit in the process of undoing the patriarchy, that is a price I am absolutely willing to pay.”

But note how the article begins:

But it was the second work of Keillor’s that I read, his nonfiction Homegrown Democrat, which proved to have the greatest impact, convincing me to ditch my naive and juvenile libertarianism for a practical and caring liberalism that stressed a balance between heart and mind. It was not this book alone, mind you. My transition from libertarianism to liberalism was more of a journey than just one book or thinker. But nevertheless, Homegrown Democrat was the “straw that broke the camel’s back.” It was a book that was able to present a set of political ideas not as a set of political ideas, but as a deeply personal reminiscence of community and citizenship. It was democracy as a story told by a village elder near a fire, rather than a lecture delivered by an overly-polished plastic hack.

In short, while Garrison Keillor isn’t necessarily one I would consider an “intellectual influence,” his work has always managed to bring a smile to my face, as it no doubt has done for millions of other people. He is a warm old man with a tender voice who — up until recently — had found his life’s purpose in public radio broadcasting and in writing. He was the face of a kind, humble, rural liberalism; a liberalism, I should add, that is far too rare in American political discourse today.

Keillor is “the face of a kind, humble, rural liberalism; a liberalism, I should add, that is far too rare in American political discourse today”? It’s much rarer that Hochdorf thinks — evidently he missed Keillor, then about 74, telling the New York Times last year just how kind, humble and a man of the rural people he is:

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

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

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

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

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

“No,” he replied. “No.”

Or Keillor, who “has made roughly $400,000 worth of political contributions to Democratic candidates and groups over the past 30 years,” according to the Washington Free Beacon, describing Trump’s Christian supporters in January, in the Washington Post:

And so the Boy President heads for Washington to be sworn into office, pumping his fist, mooning the media, giving the stinky finger to whomever irks him, doing his end-zone dance, promising to build the wall, cut taxes, create jobs, provide great health insurance for EVERYONE and send his son-in-law to the Middle East to solve that little problem, and the rest of us will sit in a barn and keep ourselves warm and hide our heads under our wings, poor things. Discouraging.

So I’ve been shopping around for a new religion to see me through the next four years. Too many of my fellow Christians voted for selfishness and for degradation of the beautiful world God created. I guess they figured that by the time the planet was a smoky wasteland, they’d be nice and comfy in heaven, so wotthehell. Anyhow, I’m looking around for other options.

Which was pretty much his reaction to George W. Bush’s supporters in 2004:

 The party of Lincoln and Liberty was transmogrified into the party of hairy-backed swamp developers and corporate shills, faith-based economists, fundamentalist bullies with Bibles, Christians of convenience, freelance racists, misanthropic frat boys, shrieking midgets of AM radio, tax cheats, nihilists in golf pants, brownshirts in pinstripes, sweatshop tycoons, hacks, fakirs, aggressive dorks, Lamborghini libertarians, people who believe Neil Armstrong’s moonwalk was filmed in Roswell, New Mexico, little honkers out to diminish the rest of us, Newt’s evil spawn and their Etch-A-Sketch president, a dull and rigid man suspicious of the free flow of information and of secular institutions, whose philosophy is a jumble of badly sutured body parts trying to walk.

 

Funny how “kind, humble, rural liberalism” sounds quite a lot like angry, smug, punitive* urban leftism, the type practiced by those who are busy airbrushing Keillor out of Minnesota history. As Dreher writes, “Unpersoning the accused ‘Prairie Home Companion’ host is a totalitarian act.” Similarly, Keillor himself had no problem making unpersons out of anyone whose political views he disagreed with – pretty much, based on the quotes above, half the country — to ally himself with those who smash the statues and stoke the memory hole.

* And don’t get the Hillary and Obama supporting Keillor started on gays raising children.

FIRST KATHY GRIFFIN, NOW THIS? Trump Is Bringing Mueller Down.

“The Resistance,” in its effort to denormalize Trump, has denormalized itself and a large swathe of American institutions. Those institutions need to be — and be seen as — normal a lot more than Trump does.

SNATCHING DEFEAT FROM THE JAWS OF VICTORY: Trump’s invoking “Pocahontas” to criticize Elizabeth Warren at a ceremony to honor Navajo war heroes was to say the least highly inappropriate and buffoonish. Yet somehow, the Democrats and their media allies have shifted the focus to a clear loser, the question of Warren’s phony claim to Native American heritage. Meanwhile, media outlets keep referring to Warren as having “claimed” or “unsubstantiated” Native American heritage. Five years after the controversy over her “claim” originally broke, if there were any evidence, DNA or genealogical, supporting the claim she would have produced it by now. Why can’t reporters bring themselves to write something like “apparently false claim…” at this point? I think we know the answer. You want more Trump? This is how you get more Trump.

JOSH BLACKMAN: Republicans Should Not Pack The Courts: It’s an impulse born of understandable frustrations with our judicial system, but it must be resisted. “Citing an increasingly large caseload, Professor Calabresi posits that the solution to an overworked judiciary is the appointment of new judges. On the district-court level — the trial level in the federal judiciary — there are currently 673 approved judgeships. On the circuit-court level — the intermediary level below the Supreme Court — there are currently 167 approved judgeships. Based on Calabresi’s calculations, optimally, there should be 185 new district judges and 262 new circuit judges, though, to his credit, he dials back these numbers significantly. In 1978, Congress enacted the Omnibus Judgeship Act of 1978. This Carter-era bill increased the number of district judges from 394 to 510, and the number of circuit judges from 97 to 132. Using this history as a baseline, Calabresi proposes the creation of 200 district judgeships and 61 circuit judgeships. If your eyes haven’t glazed over by this point, allow me to summarize the change in more understandable terms. In their eight-year terms, Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama were able to confirm 66, 62, and 55 judges to the courts of appeals, respectively. Under Calabresi’s proposal, in only four years, Trump could potentially confirm more than 100 appellate judges.”

The problem is that after Harry Reid rammed ObamaCare through on reconciliation and nuked the filibuster, the institutional traditions and trust that used to limit this sort of thing are gone. What would it take to bring them back? And no, I’m seriously asking that. What would it take?

ANN ALTHOUSE DECONSTRUCTS NEWSWEEK’S COVER:

Most people will just see this cover and not even consider reading the article, so the question is: What is the subliminal effect of the cover? If it’s not anti-Trump, then Newsweek has failed, and I would say Newsweek has failed. Reason:

1. Trump has a huge penis.

2. Trump is joyously throwing money at us. He seems to be Santa Claus, flying through the air, bringing wealth.

Much more at the link.

JOHN HINDERAKER: What the H*** is Mueller Investigating? And Why?

Mueller’s investigation isn’t supposed to “move beyond investigating ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.” The Order appointing Mueller empowers him to investigate “any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump; and…any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation.” It seems that the current focus of Mueller’s efforts is lobbying that was carried out on behalf of one of Ukraine’s political factions, or, more broadly, failure to register as a foreign agent with the Justice Department by anyone, at any time. This is not what Mueller was appointed to do. . . .

And the 2012 report on “the political motivations of the Ukrainian government” relates to the Trump campaign’s alleged cooperation with Russian elements in the 2016 election…how?

The special counsel statute is a very poor idea, and Mueller’s implementation of it illustrates why. The job of a special counsel (or special prosecutor, as he was formerly called) is to hang scalps on the wall. Whose scalps, or why they were taken, is incidental at best. President Trump would be fully justified in firing Robert Mueller, but a better idea, in my opinion, would be to appoint several more special counsels to look into various Democratic misdeeds. That would bring this whole farce to a screeching halt.

Sauce for the gander usually does.

CONRAD BLACK: Focus of Russia Probe Needs To Be on Clintons.

The fact that, on the same day as the Manafort and Gates indictments, Tony Podesta — who was intimately connected with the Uranium One dealings that were contemporaneous with extraordinarily large pledges to the Clinton Foundation and the celebrated $500,000 speech-making payment to the former president, Bill Clinton — retired as head of the firm that bears his name — may indicate that Special Counsel Mueller is shifting gears with the evidence and broadening his attack, conducted by his largely Clintonian lawyer group. Mr. Gates had so little notice of what was coming that he had not even hired a criminal lawyer; he had a public defender enter his plea.

I presume Mr. Mueller raced out with the Manafort-Gates charges in the hope that, if there were anything Mr. Manafort could say that would be damaging to Trump, an indictment such as this — the usual U.S. prosecutorial technique of throwing all the spaghetti at the wall (“conspiracy against the United States” is one of the more extreme charges) — will bring him to the standard plea bargain: giving extorted and false but incriminating testimony against the big target (Mr. Trump), in exchange for a reduced sentence with an immunity for perjured testimony. Mr. Mueller and his protégé, James Comey, are superstars in the firmament of this profoundly rotten system, but Mr. Manafort’s lawyer gave them clear notice that it won’t work.

At the same time, to shake Mr. Podesta out of his own company, and incite rumors in the Democratic press that the Podestas are being investigated (Tony Podesta’s brother, John Podesta, was Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager), means that Mr. Mueller is already much closer to lifting the rock all the way on the Clintons and President Obama than he is to finding anything vulnerable around President Trump or his campaign.

Months of “Russia, Russia, Russia” may prove to be the Clinton’s worst own-goal yet.

U.S. CAPTURES KEY ISLAMIST MILITANT INVOLVED IN BENGHAZI ATTACK: (bumped)

American special operations forces captured a militant Sunday who was allegedly involved in the attack on a U.S. diplomatic compound and CIA annex in Benghazi, Libya, two US officials confirmed to Fox News.

US official identified the suspect as Mustafa al-Imam.

The attack resulted in the death of the American ambassador and three other Americans.

The White House is expected to release more details shortly.

The officials say U.S. commandos captured the unidentified man in Libya and are transporting him back to the U.S. The officials say the mission was approved by PresidentTrump and carried out in coordination with Libya’s internationally recognized government.

Remember, the Obama Administration lied about Benghazi. For about three weeks Obama’s minions insisted it wasn’t a planned attack. A crowd of demonstrators was “triggered” — probably by an on-line anti-Muslim video. Here’s what I wrote about it in September 2012.

UPDATE: U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson praises the arrest:

I am deeply grateful to the U.S. military, law enforcement, and intelligence community for their efforts to bring to justice the perpetrators of the September 11, 2012 terrorist attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya. The Department of State family continues to mourn the loss of Ambassador Chris Stevens, Glen Doherty, Sean Smith, and Tyrone Woods, and we will spare no effort to ensure that justice is served for these dedicated Americans and public servants. I spoke with some of their family members to underscore the U.S. government’s unwavering support.

Yes, terrorist attacks.

THE ANSWER IS NO, BUT THEY CAN’T SAY THAT: The Virginia Governor’s Race Has Exposed A Big Immigration Problem For Democrats: By making immigration an issue, Republican Ed Gillespie is challenging Democrat Ralph Northam to answer for his party: do Democrats believe in borders?

Lately, Gillespie has eased off talking about MS-13 and focused more on the economy, but by bringing illegal immigration into the race he’s managed to capitalize on what Trump exposed last year: Democrats, even centrist ones like Northam, don’t really believe in immigration enforcement anymore. To the extent that’s a message even a decidedly non-Trumpian Republican like Gillespie can leverage, it’s not just an immediate problem for Northam but a national problem for the Democratic Party.

Democrats might denounce it as racist, but the importance of the immigration question can’t be emphasized enough. Last week, Andrew Sullivan wrote, “The most powerful thing Trump said in the campaign, I’d argue, was: ‘If you don’t have borders, you don’t have a country.’ And the Democrats had no answer, something that millions of Americans immediately saw. They still formally favor enforcement of immigration laws, but rhetorically, they keep signaling the opposite.”

That immigration would feature so prominently in a race between two relative centrists underscores the extent to which America’s two major political parties are cracking up. This week’s announcement by Sen. Jeff Flake that he won’t seek reelection confirmed that the GOP is increasingly the party of Trump, with all that implies about immigration. On the Democratic side, Northam’s candidacy seems thoroughly out of step with the Sanders wing of his party. Sanders made headlines recently with his unrealistic “Medicare for all” bill, which a growing number of Democratic senators have felt obliged to endorse because it’s really a litmus test of their progressive bona fides. Like health care and abortion, immigration is one of the issues increasingly defining the parties.

It also helps explain why a race that shouldn’t be close is tightening.

Well, stay tuned.

WAPO: Trump Has Already Largely Won His War Against The Media. “Consider the language used in this question. Marist didn’t ask people whom they trusted more between the media at large and Trump; it was a choice between the media outlet you like the best and the president. Presumably, the media outlet you like the best is the one you consider most reliable and informative, but even pitting a Trump supporter’s top pick of all of the media outlets against the president, the president wins. . . . This poll was released on the heels of another survey that adds still more context to the question of media trust. A Politico-Morning Consult survey conducted online found that nearly half of Americans, a plurality, thinks that the media makes up stories about the president out of whole cloth.”

Well, if you guys weren’t so obviously, rabidly eager to bring Trump down, maybe people would trust you more.

CHARLES BLOW’S NOVEL IDEA: TRUMP IS LIKE HITLER!

I heard something unusual when I logged on to the New York Times this morning. It seemed to me a dire, authoritative, even apocalyptic sound. It was as if a gigantic clap of thunder had been produced by an immense boot of truth.

Allow me to explain. On my screen appeared a think piece comparing Adolf Hitler with Donald Trump. “Trump Isn’t Hitler. But the Lying . . . ,” by op-ed columnist Charles Blow, advances a breathtaking claim that has never, to my knowledge, appeared in any media outlet before: That though Trump isn’t Hitler, he’s actually pretty close, when you really think about it.

I was gobsmacked. My mind reeled. I can’t emphasize enough how fresh, how novel, how utterly without precedent this Hitler-Trump comparison is. Blow further clarifies that the first three words of the title of his column are something of a ruse, because in fact Trump is Hitler in important respects. Furthermore, to drop this knowledge on the public was to Blow a duty of such moment that it drove him to carry out a godlike act of slamming his truth-boot down through the firmament upon our benighted planet. If, Blow says, some might be shy about comparing Trump to Hitler, “I have neither time nor patience for such tiptoeing. I prefer the boot of truth to slam down to earth like thunder, no matter the shock of hearing its clap.”

Heh. Of course, Charles Blow himself is a mile-marker on the road to Trump. When faced with Mitt Romney in 2012, as decent a guy as can be found standing at the intersection of business and politics, the DNC operative with a byline tweeted this:

And Romney took it without exactly punching back twice as hard, to borrow a favorite saying of a legendary former community organizer:

Asked about the comments on the radio, Romney responded with something resembling sarcasm: “That is a little surprising, I must admit. I guess we’re finding out for the first time that the media is somewhat biased,” he said, without addressing Mormonism head-on. He added, “I think it’s going to wear very badly and the American people are not going to line up for that kind of, if you will, divisiveness and demonization of their fellow Americans.”

Think Trump would have been as milquetoast in response? Me neither. 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.”

LOOKING FOR A RUSSIAN BRIBERY PLOT? HERE IT IS, AND IT INVOLVES OBAMA AND CLINTON: FBI uncovered Russian bribery plot before Obama administration approved controversial nuclear deal with Moscow.

Before the Obama administration approved a controversial deal in 2010 giving Moscow control of a large swath of American uranium, the FBI had gathered substantial evidence that Russian nuclear industry officials were engaged in bribery, kickbacks, extortion and money laundering designed to grow Vladimir Putin’s atomic energy business inside the United States, according to government documents and interviews.

Federal agents used a confidential U.S. witness working inside the Russian nuclear industry to gather extensive financial records, make secret recordings and intercept emails as early as 2009 that showed Moscow had compromised an American uranium trucking firm with bribes and kickbacks in violation of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, FBI and court documents show.

They also obtained an eyewitness account – backed by documents – indicating Russian nuclear officials had routed millions of dollars to the U.S. designed to benefit former President Bill Clinton’s charitable foundation during the time Secretary of State Hillary Clinton served on a government body that provided a favorable decision to Moscow, sources told The Hill.

The racketeering scheme was conducted “with the consent of higher level officials” in Russia who “shared the proceeds” from the kickbacks, one agent declared in an affidavit years later.

Rather than bring immediate charges in 2010, however, the Department of Justice (DOJ) continued investigating the matter for nearly four more years, essentially leaving the American public and Congress in the dark about Russian nuclear corruption on U.S. soil during a period when the Obama administration made two major decisions benefitting Putin’s commercial nuclear ambitions. . . .

“The Russians were compromising American contractors in the nuclear industry with kickbacks and extortion threats, all of which raised legitimate national security concerns. And none of that evidence got aired before the Obama administration made those decisions,” a person who worked on the case told The Hill, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution by U.S. or Russian officials.

So it was basically a coverup. Plus:

The investigation was ultimately supervised by then-U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein, an Obama appointee who now serves as President Trump’s deputy attorney general, and then-Assistant FBI Director Andrew McCabe, now the deputy FBI director under Trump, Justice Department documents show.

Both men now play a key role in the current investigation into possible, but still unproven collusion between Russia and Donald Trump’s campaign during the 2016 election. McCabe is under congressional and Justice Department inspector general investigation in connection with money his wife’s Virginia state Senate campaign accepted in 2015 from now-Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe at a time when McAuliffe was reportedly under investigation by the FBI.

The connections to the current Russia case are many.

Well none of this builds confidence.

THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU RAM THROUGH UNPOPULAR LEGISLATION ON A PARTY-LINE VOTE: Obamacare Was Built With the Flaws Trump Now Exploits: Executive orders allowed the past administration to keep the program alive. They allow this administration to destroy it.

Do I just hate the poor so much that I can’t stand to see them getting help paying for health care? Well, no. I have no particular objection to the payments as policy. Except for one small thing, which is that they seem to be sort of illegal.

But at this point, such arguments are moot. It might be more fruitful for Obamacare’s supporters to ask what role they themselves played in bringing us to this pass.

A few years ago, as we all stood gaping at the disastrously bungled launch of the Obamacare exchanges, I was invited by Intelligence Squared to participate in a debate: “Resolved: Obamacare Is Beyond Rescue.” Longtime readers know that my motto is “Predictions are hard, especially about the future.” I was thus reluctant to declare, without equivocation, that Obamacare was already dead, dead, dead. But I’m a huge fan of Intelligence Squared, so I accepted, and then I resorted to a time-honored debate-weasel: 2 I reframed the question.

Thus I chose not to argue that Obamacare was going to collapse and be repealed in its entirety, but rather, that Obamacare would not, and could not, be the program that had been promised or intended. It had already failed to deliver on key promises for coverage, affordability and of course, the infamous promise that “if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.” It was also dangerously unstable, requiring steady executive intervention just to keep the program from collapsing. I argued that these executive interventions, enthusiastically supported by the law’s proponents, were setting a precedent that would eventually be used against it. Worried that health care was too hostage to the vicissitudes of the markets, Democrats had instead made it the prisoner of politics.

“Essentially they’ve made it so that Republicans can undo two-thirds of this law with a stroke of the presidential pen,” I said at the close of my opening statement. “Obamacare is now beyond rescue. The administration has destroyed their own law in order to save it.” Four years later, we are watching those dominos fall.

Indeed. But there’s a bright side: By Cutting Off Obamacare’s Insurer Subsidies, Trump Might Help More People Get Health Coverage: The president has finally brought the law into constitutional compliance.

HARVEY WEINSTEIN’S CAREER IN HOLLYWOOD IS LIKELY OVER,” says show-biz house organ Variety:

In truth, the noose has been tightening for years around Harvey Weinstein. There’s been a bunker-like mentality at the Weinstein Co. for years, as the indie studio’s money troubles have worsened and as it tried to migrate away from prestige fare and into television. There were too many film flops such as “Tulip Fever,” “Burnt,” and “Gold,” and persistent mutterings that the company could no longer pay its bills. High profile executives would leave, with positions remaining vacant or filled by junior staffers. It’s been a while since the studio was a major force at film festivals, swinging its checkbook around to nab the hottest Sundance titles. In the meantime, new players like A24 and Bleecker Street have emerged, establishing themselves as more auteur-friendly (Weinstein had a reputation for battling directors), while Amazon and Netflix have been able to outspend all comers.

Even before the reports broke, agents were already wary about working with Weinstein because of reports that its money was running out. One agent told Variety that the Times’ report will give them an even bigger reason to stay away from the studio.

In some respects, Thursday’s piece was the confirmation of decades of rumors and shop talk that have clung to Weinstein. At various times, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and the New Yorker (which has its own competing piece still set to launch) have tried to break this story. They’ve aggressively pursued the angle of whether or not Weinstein used corporate funds at Miramax to pay for legal settlements with women. In most cases, Weinstein was able to successfully hit back at those claims. Another stumbling block was that many women did not want to go on the record with their allegations. That will likely change with the Times piece.

Weinstein Gives First Interview After Shocking Sex Harassment Claims, the New York Post reports:

“The Times editors were so fearful they were going to be scooped by New York Magazine and they would lose the story, that they went ahead and posted the story filled with reckless reporting, and without checking all they had with me and my team.

He added that he believes the paper – which published a long negative piece about Weinstein’s dealings with amfAR a week ago – has a vendetta against him.

Weinstein explained, “They never wrote about the documentary I did with Jay-Z about Rikers Island, they never write that I raised $50 million for amfAR, nor my work with Robin Hood – instead they focus on trying to bring me down. This is a vendetta, and the next time I see Dean Baquet [the executive editor of the Times] it will be across a courtroom.”

Insert Kissinger Iran-Iraq War quote here.

In a link-laden post, Ace of Spades asks, “Didn’t people in the media know, given that Weinstein was, you know, a notorious figure in the media?”, also pondering about how much knowledge the Democrats he donated to had, and the past Disney connection to Weinstein.

“Weinstein was a strong supporter of Hillary Clinton 2016 run, donated to her campaigns 10 times between 1999 & 2016,” the Hollywood Reporter notes. He made 13 visits to the Obama White House. Malia Obama interned for him.

Lionsgate distributes Miramax films on home media in the US, and also produced AMC’s Mad Men series during its run from 2007 to 2015. As I wrote at Ed Driscoll.com during its last season, I always thought Hollywood had a lot of chutzpah tut-tutting the sexual mores of the corporate world of the 1960s while simultaneously enabling Bill Clinton, handsy Joe Biden, and what goes on in their own executive suites.

UPDATE: Regarding Weinstein’s NRA and Trump-obsessed “apology” letter (which Iowahawk neatly sums up as, “It’s just this war and that son of a bitch Johnson”), when you’ve lost the Daily Beast…

More: Former Obama Adviser Anita Dunn Helped Harvey Weinstein Strategize Before New York Times Story. “Weinstein has also, supposedly, reached out to the Clintons’ crisis PR honcho Lanny Davis.”

VICE PRESIDENT (AND SPACE COUNCIL CHAIR) MIKE PENCE: America Will Return to the Moon—and Go Beyond.

The U.S. pays Russia more than $76 million a seat to carry American astronauts to the International Space Station, since we have no vehicle capable of performing this task. The intelligence community reports that Russia and China are pursuing a full range of antisatellite technology designed to threaten our military’s effectiveness. These are only two examples of America’s abdication of leadership in space.

The president has charged the National Space Council with restoring that leadership. The council’s objectives are clear.

We will refocus America’s space program toward human exploration and discovery. That means launching American astronauts beyond low-Earth orbit for the first time since 1972. It means establishing a renewed American presence on the moon, a vital strategic goal. And from the foundation of the moon, America will be the first nation to bring mankind to Mars.

We will renew America’s commitment to creating the space technology needed to protect national security. Our adversaries are aggressively developing jamming and hacking capabilities that could cripple critical military surveillance, navigation systems and communication networks. In the face of this threat, America must be as dominant in the heavens as it is on Earth.

We will promote regulatory, technological, and educational reforms to expand opportunities for American citizens and ensure that the U.S. is at the forefront of economic development in outer space. In the years to come, American industry must be the first to maintain a constant commercial human presence in low-Earth orbit, to expand the sphere of the economy beyond this blue marble.​

To achieve these goals, the National Space Council will look beyond the halls of government for insight and expertise. In the coming weeks, President Trump and I will assemble a Users’ Advisory Group partly composed of leaders from America’s burgeoning commercial space industry. Business is leading the way on space technology, and we intend to draw from the bottomless well of innovation to solve the challenges ahead.

An excellent start. There’s a lot of exciting space stuff happening, though very little of it is happening at NASA.

THEY MUST WANT MORE TRUMP: Trump will win in 2020 if the left keeps calling him a racist.

Robert Robb:

I now believe that the left will re-elect Trump. The ruction over NFL players taking a knee during the national anthem illustrates the point.

The left has talked itself into believing that Trump’s alleged appeals to white racism were what put him over the top.

More astute psephologists have pointed out that the actual difference was made by people in industrial states who previously had voted for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012, but switched to Trump over Hillary Clinton in 2016. Hard to attribute those decisions to white racism.

Nevertheless, the left now interprets all of Trump’s actions through the prism of perceived appeals to white racism. If Trump were to tweet, “It’s a lovely day in Washington,” the left would denounce it as a dog whistle to white supremacists.

Which brings us to the NFL ruction. Players began kneeling during the national anthem reportedly to protest what they regard as racial injustice in the United States. Trump denounced them in Trumpian fashion.

According to the left, since the players were protesting racial injustice, Trump was endorsing racial injustice by criticizing them. There goes that dog whistle!

To most Americans, that’s nuts.

Well, yes. But as Bill Whittle likes to say, if Republicans didn’t have Democrats to run against, they’d lose every time.

ROBBY SOAVE: If You Think Trump Is a Fascist, You Should Oppose Gun Control.

Following the unfathomably tragic events in Las Vegas, many on the left are demanding that Congress pass new restrictions on guns. Such calls make even less sense than usual, given what much of the left already believes about the current political environment: that a fascist occupies the White House.

“Yes, Donald Trump is a fascist,” wrote The New Republic’s Jamil Smith. He said that in 2015, when Trump was still merely a primary challenger; associating Trump with fascism has grown only more common in the two years since.

“This is how fascism comes to America,” wrote Robert Kagan, a former Republican, in a Washington Post piece widely shared last year on both the left and the NeverTrump right: “not with jackboots and salutes (although there have been salutes, and a whiff of violence) but with a television huckster, a phony billionaire, a textbook egomaniac ‘tapping into’ popular resentments and insecurities, and with an entire national political party—out of ambition or blind party loyalty, or simply out of fear—falling into line behind him.”

“Trump’s not Hitler,” wrote Salon’s Fedja Buric in 2016. But that was only because: “He’s Mussolini.” Buric’s article is about “How GOP anti-intellectualism created a modern fascist movement in America.”

The Daily Beast’s Jay Michaelson held out until Trump pardoned Sheriff Joe Arpaio, at which point he declared, “at a certain point, ‘fascist’ becomes the most accurate term to describe what this man does….’Fascist’ is not an incendiary slur—it is an accurate description.”

Those are high-profile writers; grassroots activists have been less measured. The antifa movement, which for some reason thinks smashing windows and setting cars on fire is an effective form of resistance, regularly claims that Trump is a modern incarnation of Nazism. Left-leaning students and professors frequently accuse Trump of fascism; some have even maintained that members of Trump’s Cabinet, like Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, are white supremacists by mere association. . . .

Which brings us back to gun control, something countless liberal pundits and Democratic congresspeople are breathlessly demanding right now. How on earth could anyone believe both that Trump is a fascist and that it’s a good idea for a federal government he runs to take guns away from law-abiding citizens? If Trump is a budding Mussolini—let alone something worse—then you shouldn’t want to give him the power required to wage a war on guns.

You’d think.

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:

screen-shot-2017-01-09-at-1-36-02-pm

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:

screen-shot-2017-01-09-at-2-40-03-pm

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.