Search Results

BUTTIGIEG NAMES HIS SPENDING PROJECT AFTER THE WRONG GUY: FREDERICK DOUGLASS WANTED NOTHING TO DO WITH WHITE GUYS OFFERING “HELP”: Pete Buttigieg is earnestly trying to bail himself out of his troubles with African American voters by throwing large sums of money in their direction. It will be like a new Marshall Plan, he says.

He calls his initiative the “Douglass Plan” after the great abolitionist Frederick Douglass. But Buttigieg couldn’t have chosen a less likely person to name his spending program after. Douglass hated that sort of thing. He famously said:

The question is asked, and pressed with a great show of earnestness at this momentous crisis of our nation’s history, What shall be done with the four million slaves if they are emancipated?

… Our answer is, do nothing with them; mind your business, and let them mind theirs. Your doing with them is their greatest misfortune. They have been undone by your doings, and all they now ask, and really have need of at your hands, is just to let them alone. They suffer by every interference, and succeed best by being let alone. The Negro should have been let alone in Africa—let alone when the pirates and robbers offered him for sale in our Christian slave markets—(more cruel and inhuman than the Mohammedan slave markets)—let alone by courts, judges, politicians, legislators and slavedrivers—let alone altogether, and assured that they were thus to be let alone forever, and that they must now make their own way in the world, just the same as any and every other variety of the human family. As colored men, we only ask to be allowed to do with ourselves, subject only to the same great laws for the welfare of human society which apply to other men, Jew, Gentiles, Barbarian, Sythian. Let us stand upon our own legs, work with our own hands, and eat bread in the sweat of our own brows. When you, our white fellow countrymen, have attempted to do anything for us, it has generally been to deprive us of some right, power or privilege which you yourself would die before you would submit to have taken from you.

I always liked Douglass.

CHANGE: Airbus Poised to Overtake Boeing as Biggest Plane Maker.

The U.S. aerospace giant’s best-selling MAX has been barred by safety regulators from flying passengers for almost four months, far longer than Boeing, its investors and airlines expected. Consumers have expressed misgivings about getting on the plane again, and a dearth of new sales to carriers has helped drain about $50 billion from Boeing’s market value since it peaked in March.

The company’s delivery slump has reverberated across an aerospace industry that had been enjoying an unprecedented decadelong boom. Some suppliers have been forced to trim output and idle staff, while airlines have had to cancel thousands of flights and seek compensation from the plane maker.

More than 150 undelivered MAX jets are parked at sites around the U.S., along with the 380 in airlines’ hands that were grounded by regulators in March.

Ouch.

WILLIAM MURCHISON: Joe Biden: Soul Man. “The former senator and veep thinks Trump-era America needs some moral straightening out.”

The second problem with the “soul” stuff is easily more important. It is the assertion that politics fundamentally shapes our souls. The truth is, our souls shape our politics, maybe more so than Aristotle anticipated in an era unblessed with talk shows and the internet. In any kind of democracy, the majority tends, over the long if not the short term, to get the kind of government it wants. That could be one of honorable men and women acting—to speak broadly, as you have to in politics—with honorable intentions for the sensible cure of public problems. On the other hand, you might get a coterie of mush-brained incompetents. You open yourself, in theory, to government by a gang of rascals and crooks and thoroughgoing immoralists.

You do the best you can. But everything depends on premises. With the right premises, the voters win; with the wrong ones, they lose. No politician can render it otherwise, not even Biden.

So what are premises? They are moral understandings—what else? It’s what’s stuffed in human heads and hearts at various levels of pre-political life. By preachers and priests. By good parents and grandparents. By good teachers and the authors of good books. I can’t refrain from mentioning, for that matter, a technicolor world that faded some time ago to sepia: the entertainment industry and its semi-commendable premises of wisdom and good taste.

From hereabouts come the ideals, the ideas, the assumptions that the voter carries to the polls. They guide the hands that shade in the ovals that register our choices on election day; they do so more tellingly, more lastingly, than all the solemn rants that pass for political wisdom on the talk shows.

Biden, the Moses who would straighten us all out if you take him at his word, has in mind a miracle nearly as large as the parting of the Red Sea.

And on a more practical level, I’m not sure the country wants to hear an 18-month-long lecture on morality from a guy who made his son filthy rich playing footsie with Moscow and Beijing.

DON’T GET COCKY: Four Reasons Why the Dems Will Lose in 2020.

The nation is actually doing quite well under President Trump, although you could never tell if your news comes from MSNBC, CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, collectively the propaganda wing of the Democratic Party. Those manufacturing jobs we were told were gone? They are back. That 3% GDP that eluded Trump’s predecessor has returned and been exceeded. Those young black men who could not find work previously? They have found it now. That wealth disparity that Brother Bernie goes on and on about? It has diminished in recent years. Those flat wages? They have increased. Those who gave up looking for jobs? Many have now found the work that eluded them. Such positive news is always downplayed by the media and the Democrats.

The Democrats do best when the nation does poorly.

Remember in ‘92, Bill Clinton said; “It’s the economy, stupid”. When he said that, he did not have the facts regarding the economy on his side, but the message was clear: The economic condition will play a key role in determining the outcome of the election. Today that plays into President Trump’s hands.

Yeah, but I remember the press falling all over themselves to go along with Clinton’s claim that the short and relatively mild recession of late-1990/early-1991 was the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression — even though it was over before the campaign began.

HOW OUT OF TOUCH WITH REALITY DO YOU HAVE TO BE, TO THINK THAT TRUMP IS “SLAVISHLY SUBORDINATE” TO PUTIN?

Reality: Democrats, Join Trump Against Russian Aggression: His administration has been tough on Moscow’s meddling, both in U.S. elections and abroad.

Mr. Mueller did indict 13 Russian nationals for offenses related to election meddling. We know Moscow spent money on Facebook ads designed to exploit America’s divisions, targeting voters on both sides of the aisle. And Mr. Trump and the Republicans have responded. Under legislation enacted by a Republican Congress, the Trump administration imposed sanctions on Russian oligarchs and intelligence agencies.

Beyond the meddling, Mr. Trump has slammed Russia with bold moves designed to weaken Mr. Putin on the world’s stage. This administration imposed sanctions on Russia for violating nonproliferation laws by supporting weapons programs in Iran, Syria and North Korea. The Trump administration also issued more sanctions in response to Russia’s actions in Ukraine and its continuing occupation of Crimea. In 2017, the administration expelled 60 Russian intelligence officers and ordered multiple Russian consulates to close after Russia used a military-grade chemical weapon in the U.K. Mr. Trump even blocked Mr. Putin’s Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, which could generate hundreds of millions of dollars for Russia if it goes ahead.

These tough actions have had an effect. Between January and July 2018, the Russian ruble declined 9% against the U.S. dollar. Russia’s Economic Development Ministry expects its economy to grow only 1.3% in 2019. The U.S. economy grew 2.9% in 2018 and is headed for another strong year.

In 2017, Mr. Trump supplied Ukraine with weapons so it could defend itself against Russian attacks. Remember, it was President Obama who stood idly as Russia invaded Crimea in 2014. Under the Trump administration, the U.S. has also engaged in hard-fought battles with Russian mercenaries in Syria.

In a sense, Russia succeeded in its mission to stoke division and fear within America. Some top Democrats have played right into Moscow’s hands by pursuing endless partisan investigations. If Democrats care about thwarting Russian meddling and aggression, they will disavow their conspiracy theory that our president is Mr. Putin’s puppet, and stop wasting taxpayer money peddling disproved collusion narratives. Instead, they can support this administration’s efforts to stand tall against the consistent threat Russia poses to America’s national security.

As Walter Russell Mead wrote in 2017:

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.

Think of them as Democratic operatives with bylines, and no particular loyalty to the country’s best interests, and you won’t go far wrong.

But remember while America’s political class is focused on Russia, Chinese influence is running wild. That’s not an accident.

BATTLELINES: Valerie Jarrett defends Biden: ‘I have an enormous amount of respect for him.’

“I had the honor of working with Joe Biden every single day for eight years. And I have an enormous amount of respect for him,” Jarrett said in a interview with NPR. She maintained that she saw Biden “be extraordinarily demonstrative to both men and women alike — and never did I take it as a sexual advance in any way.”

Plus:

Former [Obama] national security adviser Susan Rice, in a series of tweets Monday evening, said she personally never found Biden‘s “actions inappropriate or uncomfortable,“ adding that she had “always appreciated his kindness and warmth.”

I wonder if these former Obama hands see Biden as their best bet back into power.

TALK TO THE MEN AND WOMEN WHO FLY IT: F-35: What The Pilots Say.

One of the marvels of this airplane is the digital flight control technology. You are telling the airplane to go up or down, speed up or slow down, go left or right. And the computers figure out what’s the best way to do that, and they’re going to move the flight controls to do it. And the interesting thing is, they may not do it the same way twice. So let’s say the airplane gets damaged, and one of the flight controls is no longer available. A legacy airplane would still try to use that surface because it doesn’t know any better. The F-35 digital flight control systems will say, “That surface isn’t doing much for me anymore, so I’m going to have to compensate by using some other things. Maybe I’ll have to move them a little bit more to get the same effect because the pilot still wants to turn left.”

And every time I took somebody out for a first flight, when we came back—I was usually at plane side when they were coming down the ladder—I was waiting for the minute when they lifted their visor to see the expression on their face. And in every case, that expression was a smile. And when you ask people, “Do you feel like you need to practice landings?” they say, “No, not really.” And that’s something that you did in all of your legacy airplanes. It’s not great empirical data, but it was enough to convince me that we had gotten to where I had hoped we would get to.

In the Harrier, I needed to practice hover because hovering was hard, especially if it was windy out. In this airplane, hovering is so easy that there have been pictures of pilots with their hands above the canopy rails showing, “Look, no hands” because once you put it where you want, it’s going to stay there until you tell it to move or it runs out of gas.

Nifty.

It’s a longer piece from Air & Space, but a good read.

HARMLESS OR HARMFUL?: Congressional Democrats have now re-introduced the proposed “Do No Harm” Act, which would limit the reach of the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act. I am not against clarifying the federal RFRA in some respects, but Progressives have made it clear that when religious freedom and anti-discrimination laws come into conflict, anti-discrimination laws should win hands down every time. That can’t be right.

The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights issued a report on the conflict between religious freedom and anti-discrimination laws a while ago (e.g. should a baker have to bake a special cake for a same-sex wedding?). The body of the report was reasonably fair. But the individual Commissioner statements revealed a strong bias on the part of the Progressive majority toward religion (and especially toward the Christian religion). It was eye opening for me. The then-Chair of the Commission wrote this:

“The phrases “religious liberty” and “religious freedom” will stand for nothing except hypocrisy so long as they remain code words for discrimination, intolerance, racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, Christian supremacy or any form of intolerance.”

Religious liberty was never intended to give one religion dominion over others, or a veto power over the civil rights and civil liberties of others. However, today, as in the past, religion is being used as both a weapon and a shield by those seeking to deny others equality. In our nation’s past religion has been used to justify slavery and later, Jim Crow laws. We now see “religious liberty” arguments sneaking their way back into our political and constitutional discourse (just like the concept of “states rights”) in an effort to undermine the rights of some Americans. This generation of Americans must stand up and speak out to ensure that religion never again be twisted to deny others the full promise of America.”

That was his whole statement; he obviously didn’t see any of the issues as close. I responded as best as I could. If you read my Commissioner statement, you may notice it was written in waves. The first page responds to the original staff-written part of the report, the next few pages responds to “Finding & Recommendations” adopted by the Commissioners themselves (over my objections), but the bulk of it responds to the over-the-top Statements of my fellow Commissioners.

I regard many of these issues as hard.  My colleagues didn’t seem to think so.

TENN. CONGRESSMAN MARK GREEN: Democrats, Join Trump Against Russian Aggression: His administration has been tough on Moscow’s meddling, both in U.S. elections and abroad.

Mr. Mueller did indict 13 Russian nationals for offenses related to election meddling. We know Moscow spent money on Facebook ads designed to exploit America’s divisions, targeting voters on both sides of the aisle. And Mr. Trump and the Republicans have responded. Under legislation enacted by a Republican Congress, the Trump administration imposed sanctions on Russian oligarchs and intelligence agencies.

Beyond the meddling, Mr. Trump has slammed Russia with bold moves designed to weaken Mr. Putin on the world’s stage. This administration imposed sanctions on Russia for violating nonproliferation laws by supporting weapons programs in Iran, Syria and North Korea. The Trump administration also issued more sanctions in response to Russia’s actions in Ukraine and its continuing occupation of Crimea. In 2017, the administration expelled 60 Russian intelligence officers and ordered multiple Russian consulates to close after Russia used a military-grade chemical weapon in the U.K. Mr. Trump even blocked Mr. Putin’s Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, which could generate hundreds of millions of dollars for Russia if it goes ahead.

These tough actions have had an effect. Between January and July 2018, the Russian ruble declined 9% against the U.S. dollar. Russia’s Economic Development Ministry expects its economy to grow only 1.3% in 2019. The U.S. economy grew 2.9% in 2018 and is headed for another strong year.

In 2017, Mr. Trump supplied Ukraine with weapons so it could defend itself against Russian attacks. Remember, it was President Obama who stood idly as Russia invaded Crimea in 2014. Under the Trump administration, the U.S. has also engaged in hard-fought battles with Russian mercenaries in Syria.

In a sense, Russia succeeded in its mission to stoke division and fear within America. Some top Democrats have played right into Moscow’s hands by pursuing endless partisan investigations. If Democrats care about thwarting Russian meddling and aggression, they will disavow their conspiracy theory that our president is Mr. Putin’s puppet, and stop wasting taxpayer money peddling disproved collusion narratives. Instead, they can support this administration’s efforts to stand tall against the consistent threat Russia poses to America’s national security.

As Walter Russell Mead wrote in 2017:

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.

Think of them as Democratic operatives with bylines, and no particular loyalty to the country’s best interests, and you won’t go far wrong.

But remember while America’s political class is focused on Russia, Chinese influence is running wild. That’s not an accident.

DISPATCHES FROM THE INTERSECTION OF HOLLYWOOD INTERRUPTED AND THE EDUCATION APOCALYPSE: A Nation of Felicity Huffmans.

The latest elite-college admissions scandal rests on a foundation of pure silliness; as Jim Geraghty writes, people with rich, famous, well-connected parents are the ones who least need the imprimatur of a famous college to speed them through life. Yet these same people are the ones with the means to indulge the status obsession that plagues most of us. Let’s not think of Felicity Huffman et al. as unusual: Everybody with the means to steer their kids into top-drawer colleges is thinking about how to game the system. This is because an elite-college degree isn’t an instrument or a tool; it doesn’t have to lead to anything. It’s a status symbol in itself. Yale is Louis Vuitton is Piaget is Mercedes.

* * * * * * * *

Somehow those of us who don’t own an Audemars watch or a Birkin handbag manage to muck on without them, and we don’t fret about whether our children will someday own one. Few of us have a hole in our soul because we don’t own the fanciest car in town. Because we realize worship of material goods is beneath us. Diploma worship ought to be equally so.

Meanwhile, Hollywood is about to toss another star down the memory hole: Let’s face it — Lori Loughlin has committed career suicide.

Make no mistake: however this turns out, it’s an enormous blow — on the public relations front, emotionally and (bottom-line) financially — to Hallmark, a network that prides itself on fluffy, family-friendly programming, which it sells (very successfully) to advertisers buying onto their bland, greeting-card world of handsome architects, city women fleeing back to their hometowns and finding true love or innumerable sappy Christmas movies. (Loughlin starred in “Homegrown Christmas” in 2018). It’s a world in which crime hardly exists, or if it does, is never very serious — as in Loughlin’s “Garage Sale Mystery” movies, in which she plays antiques-dealer-turned-sleuth Jennifer Shannon. She’s made 15 of these “Murder, She Wrote”-type movies so far (they air on Hallmark Movies & Mystery) and several are in pre-production.

All of Loughlin’s movies have proven very popular and generated hefty cable viewership (on both networks) for Hallmark Channel. That, in turn, translates to advertising dollars. And when any business feels its financial health threatened, it takes action and cuts bait.

Loughlin’s career is sunk. Deal with it.

Ed Morrissey spots “Fellow celebrities, late-night comics tee[ing] off on Huffman, Loughlin college-admission corruption.” It’s bipartisan scorn:

Earlier this morning, I guest-hosted for Hugh Hewitt — and for three hours, this was the story listeners wanted to discuss. We had callers in almost every segment, even if we couldn’t get to them. The disgust and scorn for everyone involved in this scheme, but especially for the celebrities, was palpable. This crosses partisan lines, regions, and all other demographics in its bald affront to fair play. These families had all of the advantages possible and still committed fraud to game the system. It’s a story practically built for ridicule and satire.

Between Harvey Weinstein, #MeToo, Michael Jackon, Jussie Smollett and now this, our “Progressive” betters in Hollywood have sure been covering themselves in glory over the past years.

YOUR DAILY TREACHER: Some Critics Like Captain Marvel, and Some Critics Hate Women.

I mean, did these morons see the same Captain Marvel I saw? (No, I haven’t seen it yet, and that’s hardly the point.) This is a scary time for women, and they need this movie right now. Stop politicizing this important event in feminist history, and start praising women for having the courage to play flying people in uncomfortable-looking leatherette jumpsuits with lasers coming out of their hands.

* * * * * * * *

I don’t plan to see Captain Marvel on opening weekend, because Marvel Studios and this movie’s target audience don’t need me stinking up the place with my toxic masculinity and disposable income. I am not welcome, and that’s the way it should be.

Similarly, Ace of Spades is “stepping up to be a True Male Feminist ally to lead a new movement to stop men’s shitty behaviors and sexual-assault-like invasions of sacred female spaces. I am calling for all men to avoid seeing Captain Marvel, at least for the first four weeks of its theatrical distribution, to permit the legions of the ‘Carol Corps’ fans to see the film in a positive, Sacred Feminine, female-only space.”

As with Spinal Tap, it will be interesting to see how “selective” Captain Marvel’s audience will be on opening weekend. As Steve noted earlier, star Brie Larson is doing her best to alienate non-distaff moviegoers.

Related: Kyle Smith reviews “Captain Mary Sue:”Two years ago, Wonder Woman proved a female-led superhero movie could reach the highest levels of the genre, with Gal Gadot proving robust and redoubtable, yet also charming and feminine. I spent Captain Marvel waiting for Gadot.”

Heh, indeed.™

LOOK, JOURNALISTS, IT’S SIMPLE: IF YOU DO YOUR JOB, YOU MIGHT WIN BACK THE RESPECT OF THE PUBLIC, AND YOU MIGHT GET TO KEEP A JOB. IF YOU DON’T, YOU WILL BE REPLACED. INDEPENDENT JOURNALISTS AND JUST THE PUBLIC WILL MAKE YOU OBSOLETE. IF YOU WANT TO KNOW HOW LOOK TOWARDS TRADITIONAL PUBLISHING WHO ALSO DECIDED THAT THEIR JOB WAS TO “EDUCATE” THE PUBLIC AND NOT, YOU KNOW, TO SELL BOOKS:  Red Caps and Yellow Journalism.

I don’t care what your journalism school professors told you.  Your job is not to afflict the comfortable. Your job is not to comfort the afflicted.  Most of you couldn’t tell the difference with a seeing eye dog, a cane and the proverbial two hands.  Your job is to investigate claims and report as close to the facts as you can. And if the story seems to endorse the narrative you like? INVESTIGATE TWICE AS HARD.  Have some pride. Do your job to the best of your ability.  Are you human or a puppet of your journalism professors and leftist ideologues?

THE ACADEMY IS IN THE BEST OF HANDS: A professor of political science actual at a leading state university tweeted the tweet below. He apparently failed to notice that only one-third of the Senate is up for reelection at any one time, and of the seats that were actually being contested the Democrats did significantly better than 55.4%. This was the case even though there was no Republican candidate running in California, by far the most populous state. Anyone can tweet something foolish once in a while, but the fact that this tweet is still up twenty-four thousand likes later suggests that he still doesn’t get the underlying fallacy. (Of course, his tweet also assumes that the Senate should reflect the popular vote, but even if that were the case it’s hard to see why a Democrat would object on “democratic” grounds to winning almost two-thirds of the contested seats on a day when they received 55% of the vote. If anything, someone who believed in proportional representation should be calling on some Democratic senators to resign in favor of Republicans.)

THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: Twitter Mob Gets U.S. Coast Guard Member Removed for Making ‘Offensive’ ‘OK’ Sign.

OUR MONEY IS IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS:  Over Half of the Federal Government’s Spending Data Is Wrong.

ANGELO CODEVILLA: Diplomacy 101 vs. Politics Writ Small.

The high professional quality of Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin’s performance at their Monday press conference in Helsinki contrasts sharply with the obloquy by which the bipartisan U.S. ruling class showcases its willful incompetence.

Though I voted for Trump, I’ve never been a fan of his and I am not one now. But, having taught diplomacy for many years, I would choose the Trump-Putin press conference as an exemplar of how these things should be done. Both spoke with the frankness and specificity of serious business. This performance rates an A+.

Well. A performance depends on its intended audience. If the intended audience was the U.S. political class, then Trump gets an F. So who was Trump’s (and Putin’s) intended audience. Audiences?

Meanwhile, some lefties are warning about the anti-Trump hysteria: Steve Vladeck writes: Americans have forgotten what ‘treason’ actually means — and how it can be abused: We are willfully turning a blind eye to the sordid history of treason that led to its unique treatment in the U.S. Constitution. If you cheapen the definition of treason, you had better be ready to be called traitors, and perhaps treated as such.

Likewise, Jay Michaelson in The Daily Beast: Stop Saying Trump Committed ‘Treason.’ You’re Playing Into His Hands.

Treason is clearly defined in the Constitution, which states, in Article III, Section 3: “Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.”

This definition does not apply to Trump. He is not levying war against the United States, and to be an “enemy” requires that a state of war exists between the United States and the foreign nation in question.

That does not exist in the case of Russia. Congress has not declared war, and Russia’s alleged cyberattacks, while they may constitute acts of war in the abstract, have not been regarded as such by the United States. (Last year, the European Union announced it would begin regarding cyberattacks as acts of war.)

Even when Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were convicted of spying for the Soviet Union, they weren’t charged with treason, because the Cold War was undeclared, and not a formal “war.” Nor were other Russian spies such as Aldrich Ames and Robert Hanssen.

In fact, the only indictment of treason since World War II was of American-born al Qaeda supporter Adam Gadahn. Unlike Russia, al Qaeda is a formal “enemy” of the United States, because Congress authorized war against it. And in fitting with war, Gadahn was killed in a U.S. airstrike in 2015.

Perhaps the domestic political class was Trump’s intended audience, and he intended them to go batshit crazy. In that case, A+.

Meanwhile, Roger Kimball writes: What Critics Missed About the Trump-Putin Summit.

As becomes more and more clear as the first Trump Administration evolves, this president is someone who is willing, nay eager, to challenge the bureaucratic status quo, on domestic issues as well as in foreign policy.

Trump inherited a world order on the international front that was constructed in the immediate aftermath of World War II and has subsequently amassed a thick, barnacle-like carapace of bureaucratic procedures. Perhaps those procedures and the institutions that deploy them continue to serve American interests. But what if they don’t?

As I’ve said, the best way to understand the Trump presidency is as the renegotiation of the post-World War II institutional structure. Naturally, the barnacles don’t like that. Maybe they’re right, maybe they’re wrong, but the intensity of their screaming indicates their emotional (and livelihood) investment, not who’s right.

Meanwhile, if the argument is that Trump is a Putin stooge, the arguers have to deal with the fact that Trump is clearly harder on Russia than Obama was, or than Hillary, by all appearances, would have been. Even NeverTrumper Eric Erickson writes: Remember, Trump’s Policies Against Russia Have Been Tougher Than Obama’s.

We’ve been killing Russian mercenaries in Syria. We have expanded and enhanced NATO’s footprint in Eastern Europe over Russian objections. We have sold military weaponry to Ukraine. We have been indicting Russians for interfering in our elections. We have imposed sanctions on Russian oligarchs. We have imposed sanctions on Russia itself. We have actively been aiding Britain and other governments that have seen a Russian presence with targeted assassinations. “We” being the United States under Donald Trump. (See also this thread by James Kirchick)

The media and left would have you believe Donald Trump is captive to Russia. Lately, they’ve been pushing the idea that he may be some sort of sleeper cell Manchurian candidate who Putin owns and controls.

A fellow law prof (of the lefty variety) was even speculating the other day on social media that Melania was Trump’s KGB control agent.

As Walter Russell Mead wrote last year:

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.

So I don’t know if Trump knows what he’s doing. (As proof that his remarks were dumb, he’s already walked them back.) American presidents have historically done badly in their first meetings with Russian leaders, from Kennedy at Vienna to George W. staring into Putin’s soul. And as a general rule, Presidents don’t criticize their own intelligence agencies while at meetings with foreign adversaries. But then, as a general rule, U.S. intelligence agencies aren’t supposed to be involved in domestic politics up to their elbows, as has clearly been the case here. And don’t get me started on John Brennan’s disgraceful comments, which Rand Paul correctly calls “completely unhinged.” Brennan, like his colleagues Comey and Clapper, has made clear the rot at the top of important intelligence agencies, and people like Peter Strzok suggest that the rot extends some ways down from the head. So maybe the general rules don’t apply any more, and Trump is more a symptom than a cause of that.

So maybe his approach to Putin is disastrous, maybe it’s smart. But the most important thing Trump can do is get a better class of people in charge of the institutions where the rot is worst. I don’t know if he can do that at all.

OUR GOVERNMENT IS IN THE BEST OF HANDS: Plutonium Stolen From the Parking Lot of the Marriott San Antonio Northwest

They left the materials in the back seat of their rented Ford Expedition and went to bed. The plutonium and cesium were stolen out of the Marriott parking lot…. The group that lost the nuclear material is the Off-Site Radioactive Source Recovery Program which is based at New Mexico’s Los Alamos National Laboratory — is the team charged with recovering plutonium and enriched uranium that has been loaned out by the military. Let that sink in for a moment.

 

DEMOCRATS TOOK THE BAIT FROM DONALD TRUMP, IT’S NOT A WINNING STRATEGY AT THE POLLS, Jon Gabriel writes at USA Today: 

When it comes to the midterm elections, angry protests are a political loser for Democrats. The best thing going for Democratic candidates is the enthusiasm of their voters compared with indifferent Republicans. By making GOP voters feel under siege, progressive harassers are damaging their own chances in the fall.

All of this discord plays right into Trump’s hands. He lives for insult-ridden, “us-versus-them” rhetoric. As the old saying goes, “Never wrestle with the pig. You both get dirty and the pig likes it.”

Trump won his mud-wrestling matches with Hillary Clinton and 16 GOP also-rans. He’s eager to defend his title in November.

Before this campaign season turns into an uncivil and threatening series of tit-for-tat outrages, it’s best for all sides to pull back from the brink. As Scalise said on Twitter, “Civility and respect always prevails over harassment and disrespect.”

For all of our sakes, let’s hope he’s right.

I’m sure the left will pick up on that message as well – the moment there’s a president with (D) after his her name in the White House. In the meantime, as Steve noted earlier, EPA’s Scott Pruitt Targeted at D.C. Restaurant by Angry Woman with Toddler:

As with any competent member of #TheResistance, she promptly posted the exchange on Facebook and the post ever so handily includes information on a website set up by the Sierra Club to demand  Pruitt gets the boot. Her video can be watched at the link included above… This is our new reality. An ordinary lunch with a companion can cause heartburn induced by anyone in the establishment that disagrees with the political administration in office. Pruitt does have a beefed-up security detail, thanks to all the threats he receives.  This, too, is an irritation to the unhinged among us.

The amnesia that will strike the DNC-MSM the next time there is a Democratic president in office and his or her cabinet officials is forced to endure the same treatment will be astonishing to watch.

GOOD ADVICE: Study: Leave tablets, smartphones out of bedroom for better sleep. I think it’s best to keep them on charge as much as possible when you don’t actually have to use them. And I’ve had a mini-vacation this weekend, as the touchscreen failed suddenly on my iPhone X. Apple was quite handsome in honoring the warranty (it’s only a couple of months old) but “overnighting” a new phone on the holiday weekend means I won’t actually get it until tomorrow. And you know, I don’t miss it all that much . . . .

THE MISANTHROPIC MRS. CLINTON:

You might expect Clinton to at least be sensitive to sexism. Instead she was a source of it. “She told aides she knew women reporters would be harder on her. We’d be jealous and catty and more spiteful than men. We’d be impervious to her flirting.” (Side note: Chozick actually thinks flirting with Hillary Clinton is something men want to do.) A running joke had it that the unofficial motto of Clinton supporters was, “I’m With Her . . . I Guess.” This, even though Chozick and other female reporters were sympathetic to Hillary based on gender solidarity: “I still felt some kind of feminine bond with Hillary then,” she writes of her early months on the beat, and later describes her coverage as “neutral to positive, with plenty of wet kisses thrown in.”

Clinton’s poor political instincts infected the entire campaign. One aide ripped a sign saying “I [heart] Hillary” out of a little girl’s hands in Phoenix because “Brooklyn [the site of Clinton’s headquarters] thought it best that Everydays hold professionally produced signs that displayed the message du jour rather than something made with love and some finger paint.”

As for larger strategic moves, Chozick notes dryly of a March excursion, “That was Hillary’s last trip to Wisconsin.” Team Clinton in its waning days was spending money in Utah, Indiana, Missouri, Arizona, and even Texas while the Upper Midwest was begging for more resources. Bill Clinton was meanwhile going “red in the face” warning his wife’s team “that Trump had a shrewd understanding . . . of the white working class,” Chozick says. Clinton’s campaign manager, Robby Mook, responded by spoofing Bill behind his back, as one would Grandpa Simpson: “And let me tell you another thing about the white working class,” he’d say, mockingly.

Savaging the guy who actually won multiple elections as both governor and president is just a minor example of how out of touch the campaign was. Read the whole thing.

APPARENTLY, HACKING JOHN PODESTA’S OPERATION DIDN’T EXACTLY CALL FOR SUPERHUMAN ABILITIES:

New York Times writer Amy Chozick reveals something she claims to have never told anybody before while covering the Clinton campaign.

“I never told anyone this, but one time when I’d been visiting the Brooklyn campaign headquarters I found an iPhone in the women’s room,” Chozick wrote in the piece adapted from her forthcoming book, “Chasing Hillary: Ten Years, Two Presidential Campaigns, and One Intact Glass Ceiling.” “I wasn’t sure, but it seemed to belong to Mr. Podesta’s assistant because when I picked it up, a flood of calendar alerts for him popped up.”

She was referring to John Podesta, who served as chairman of Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign.

After inspecting the device, Chozick claims she left it in the restroom and didn’t share her finding for fear of retribution.

“I placed it on the sink counter, went into the stall, came out and washed my hands. I left the phone sitting there, worried that if I turned it in, even touched it again, aides would think I had snooped. This seemed a violation that would at best get my invitation to the headquarters rescinded and at worst get me booted off the beat for unethical behavior,” she wrote.

Podesta’s Gmail account was hacked in March 2016, and his emails were later leaked by WikiLeaks during the campaign. An assessment by U.S. intelligence agencies concluded there were no “evident forgeries” in the stolen emails, which were also taken from the Democratic National Committee.

Information security doesn’t seem to be their thing.

NIKKI HALEY: Russian hands ‘covered in blood’ from Syria attack.

“The Russian regime, whose hands are all covered in the blood of Syrian children, cannot be ashamed by pictures of its victims,” Haley said during a U.N. Security Council meeting on Monday.

“We must not overlook Russia and Iran’s roles in enabling the Assad regime’s murderous destruction,” she continued.

Nekulturny at best, Vlad.

GIVE LIBERTARIANS CREDIT: Welcome to the Golden Age.  Steven Pinker’s new bestseller, Enlightenment Now, is a remarkably broad and deep — and readable — rebuttal to the pessimism that passes for profundity among progressive intellectuals. While the Cassandras keep predicting disaster, things keep getting better for everyone else. For all the concerns about capitalism and its discontents, like income inequality, people at all levels of society keep getting happier as they get richer. Pinker nicely sums up the data about wealth and happiness with a joke:

A dean is presiding over a faculty meeting when a genie appears and offers him one of three wishes—money, fame, or wisdom. The dean replies, “That’s easy. I’m a scholar. I’ve devoted my life to understanding. Of course I’ll take wisdom.” The genie waves his hand and vanishes in a puff of smoke. The smoke clears to reveal the dean with his head in his hands, lost in thought. A minute elapses. Ten minutes. Fifteen. Finally a professor calls out, “Well? Well?” The dean mutters, “I should have taken the money.”

I highly recommend it in my review in City Journal, but I do quibble with his treatment of libertarians. Although the book is a paean to the Enlightenment’s libertarian values — free minds and free markets — he takes a few digs at modern libertarians that seem to me at odds with the data (including his own). Otherwise, it’s a great book for us Cornucopians to enjoy, as is Gregg Easterbrook’s new one, It’s Better Than It Looks.  

WAIT, WHAT? Shocker! WaPo Fact Check Agrees With Rubio’s Statement On New Gun Laws.

A funny thing happened during the current national scream that Congress must do something about gun violence. A Republican lawmaker made a common-sense statement about the limits of government and the left went nuts. Then, wonder of wonders, a Washington Post fact-checker agreed with him.

While Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) preens before television cameras and proclaims his own love of hunting and guns, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) is held responsible for the horrific school shooting on Valentines Day in Parkland, Florida. Rubio accepts campaign donations from the National Rifle Association (NRA) so he must be vilified. The willing cohorts of the left, the media, are only too happy to advance the notion that the NRA is evil and must be relieved of its First Amendment rights.

So, when Rubio was asked about pursuing legislation – gun control measures – he answered with a question of his own: wouldn’t it be best to wait until all the facts are in before everyone starts demanding that something is done by the government? He dared to say that new legislation may not have stopped this latest tragedy. . . .

The Washington Post went back to the Newtown shooting in 2012 and chose 12 mass shootings to analyze. Fact-checkers concluded that none of the shootings would have been avoided by passing new laws currently under discussion. What a disappointment that must have been to the newspaper.

Remember, this isn’t about saving lives or protecting children. It’s about asserting cultural superiority and showing those flyover rubes who’s boss.

And while the Democrats accuse the NRA of having blood on its hands — for, you know, daring to disagree with them on policy — look who Democrats are hanging out with.

SWAMP DRAINING: Frustrated State Department employees hire attorneys, charging ‘political retribution.’

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has made clearing a backlog of FOIA requests a priority and reassigned staff to what State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert has called “an all-hands on deck” effort to clear the backlog. Significant progress has been made, and the number of outstanding requests — which stood at 22,000 in January 2017 — has been reduced to about 13,000, Tillerson said in November, adding that he hopes the backlog will be cleared by the end of 2018.

The backlog grew over the last several years in part due to numerous requests from journalists and conservative groups, including Judicial Watch and Citizens United, for records relating to Hillary Clinton’s emails.

“Those helping with FOIA requests have a range of skills and backgrounds, from interns to deputy assistant secretaries,” Nauert told CNN. “The assignments are temporary — some staffing the office are simply between assignments as they determine their next step.”

But many of those assigned to the “FOIA Surge” effort resemble a band of misfit toys*, including several ambassadors returning from overseas and senior career and civil service members who were detailed to other agencies. Others worked in offices created by Obama as policy priorities, which the Trump administration has announced it intends to close.

What is best in life? To crush your enemies, to see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of the civil servants. Read the whole thing, which is schadenfreudelicious.

* Likely in more ways than one.

THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: Hawaii Gov. David Ige slow to correct false missile alert after he forgot Twitter log-in.

SALENA ZITO: Groundhog Day In America:

“There is no limit to what we can achieve when we set free the dreams of our incredible people,” President Trump said to a crowd of supporters standing on a decidedly cold cement floor of an equipment company in suburban Pittsburgh.

He paused and told them they were incredible people, then peeled off a list of American achievements over the ages, from the early frontiersmen, to the workers who dug out the Panama Canal, to the building of the Empire State Building and the Hoover Dam, and the launching of a man onto the face of the moon.

“American hands and grit poured the concrete in our highways and forged the steel in our skyscrapers,” he said.

“Americans do anything, build anything, and create anything — as long as we have pride in our country, confidence in our values, and respect for our great American flag.”

It is unlikely that many outside of that room heard the words of what was without question the best speech he has given in his presidency; it was sharp, concise, to the point, and both filled with information on the benefits of his tax reform bill and aspirational for his supporters.

But for those who were there, it just reinforced the hope and confidence that his supporters derive from him, when he delivers to his highest potential.

One year after his inauguration, the voters who supported Trump have rarely changed their minds about how they see this unique figure in American politics. For a year and a day, most of the news they intake about him has been negative — sometimes, it is his fault; sometimes, it’s not; most of the time, it is a combination of both — delivered by a press that still struggles with trying to figure out how this disruptive, un-presidential, blunt, and sometimes uncouth man appeals to anyone.

As one gentleman at the rally, an engineer from suburban Pittsburgh and a Trump supporter, put it, “For me, it’s like Groundhog Day every day. I get up, read the news, he says something that no president has ever been caught saying out loud, the press explodes, and they spend the day talking about how awful he is and wonder how anyone could support him.”

“I go to bed, wake up, and it’s the same thing all over again,” he said.

“Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I think the press is too hard on him. It’s that I don’t think they were as equally hard on the last guy, and I voted for both of them,” he said of both former President Barack Obama and Trump.

And yes, he thinks Trump is doing a great job.

The past year’s freakoutrage doesn’t seem to have weakened Trump as much as his opposition.

YOUR CONGRESS AT WORK: Congress has long struggled to pass spending bills on time.

Far from being a new symptom of present-day Washington dysfunction, Congress’ chronic inability to follow its own appropriations process goes back decades. In fact, in the four decades since the current system for budgeting and spending tax dollars has been in effect, Congress has managed to pass all its required appropriations measures on time only four times: in fiscal 1977 (the first full fiscal year under the current system), 1989, 1995 and 1997.

The country is in the very best of hands.

JACK SHAFER: Sell the New York Times. Now. And other unsolicited advice for A.G. Sulzberger:

The best thing A.G. has going for him is that he isn’t Arthur Jr., who inspired more sniggers than respect during his years as Times publisher. According to the various profiles written about him, Arthur Jr. was a well-meaning but goofy Star Trek fan, completely over his head in the job. An unsteady manager, he indelicately sacked two executive editors (Howell Raines and Jill Abramson), though admittedly in crises not completely of his making. One unnamed critic told Times chroniclers Alex S. Jones and Susan E. Tifft that Arthur Jr. needed to “go back in the oven and bake a little longer.” An anonymous Times Company executive dismissed him as no more than a business “figurehead” in a 2005 New Yorker Auletta feature. Mark Bowden shared more abuse in Vanity Fair in 2009, writing, “Even the mid-level talent around Arthur does not regard him as a peer, much less a suitable leader.” Behind his back, staffers ridiculed Arthur Jr. for instituting corporate sensitivity seminars at the paper. “I’ve been hugged by people I don’t even want to shake hands with,” one repulsed Times editor told the late Marjorie Williams for a 1994 Vanity Fair story. (Arthur Jr. does have his champions, though. See this recent Daniel Okrent piece for the counterpoint.)

Read the whole thing, which describes the Times as seeing the same destination coming into focus that Lee Smith described for glossy magazines in his excellent October article on Harvey Weinstein titled “The Human Stain:”

Look at Vanity Fair, basically the in-house Miramax organ that Tina failed to make Talk: Condé Nast demanded massive staff cuts from Graydon Carter and he quit. He knows they’re going to turn his aspirational bible into a blog, a fate likely shared by most (if not all) of the Condé Nast books.

Si Newhouse, magazine publishing’s last Medici, died last week, and who knows what will happen to Condé now. There are no more journalists; there are just bloggers scrounging for the crumbs Silicon Valley leaves them.

But only a fellow Democrat could describe Pinch Sulzberger as “well-meaning” after these incidents. Here’s young Pinch’s uber-hot take on American soldiers during the Vietnam War, as quoted by the aforementioned Alex S. Jones in a 1999 New Yorker article:

He 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.

In November of 1991, New York magazine described Pinch racially insulting one of his core subscribers:

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

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

It was during that era that former Timesman Peter Boyer described the atmosphere in Sulzberger’s newsroom as “moderate white men should die,” according to William McGowan in his exceptional 2010 book Gray Lady Down. The following decade, then-editor Howell Raines, who was responsible for serial fabulist Jayson Blair joining the paper’s staff, described his preference towards diversity over a quality product in a classic Kinsley-esque gaffe: “This [hiring] campaign has made our staff better and, more importantly, more diverse.” Shortly thereafter, in the aftermath of 9/11, Raines opened up a unique front in the Gray Lady’s early wartime coverage, running nearly 100 articles on the Augusta National Golf Course and its then-lack of women members between 2001 and mid-2003.

In 2006, Sulzberger “apologized” in a commencement speech to the students of SUNY New Paltz for the hellish American life they were about to experience:

I’ll start with an apology.

When I graduated from college in 1974, my fellow students and I had just ended the war in Vietnam and ousted President Nixon. Okay, that’s not quite true. Yes, the war did end and yes, Nixon did resign in disgrace – but maybe there were larger forces at play.

Either way, we entered the real world committed to making it a better, safer, cleaner, more equal place. We were determined not to repeat the mistakes of our predecessors. We had seen the horrors and futility of war and smelled the stench of corruption in government.

Our children, we vowed, would never know that.

So, well, sorry. It wasn’t supposed to be this way.

You weren’t supposed to be graduating into an America fighting a misbegotten war in a foreign land.

You weren’t supposed to be graduating into a world where we are still fighting for fundamental human rights, be it the rights of immigrants to start a new life; the rights of gays to marry; or the rights of women to choose.

You weren’t supposed to be graduating into a world where oil still drives policy and environmentalists have to relentlessly fight for every gain.

You weren’t. But you are. And for that I’m sorry.

To be fair, Sulzberger does have much he should be sorry for. As Jim Hoft of Gateway Pundit noted at the time, just ask his shareholders.

Last year, humanities professor Mark Lilla explored how the obsession with identity politics is strangling his fellow Democrats ability to reach out to potential voters, in his book titled The Once and Future Liberal: After Identity PoliticsThose quotes from Sulzberger and Raines illustrate both how far back the left’s obsession with identity politics goes, and how those toxic memes was virally spread by the Times. And a comparison of McGowan’s 2010 book, and The Kingdom and the Power, Gay Talese’s 1969 history of the Times, illustrates how radically Sulzberger transformed his family’s newspaper, and not for the better.

Near the conclusion of his article, Shafer writes:

If Bloomberg has lost interest, the Times could surely find its own Bezos. Doing so would fulfill the mission Adolph Ochs set out for the paper in his will. Published in the Times over a headline that stated Ochs’ wish that the “Times Be Perpetuated as Public Servant,” Ochs’ final testament called for the Times to be maintained “as an independent newspaper, entirely fearless, free of ulterior influence, and unselfishly devoted to the public welfare.” As I read the will, Ochs was more interested in preserving his journalistic vision than he was in cementing eternal family control.

Pinch Sulzberger certainly failed in that objective, but his publication was ground zero for the American culture war for decades. I wonder if he considers that to have been a fair trade.

WALL STREET JOURNAL: The ‘Stupidity’ of Donald Trump: He’s had far more success than Arnold Schwarzenegger or Jesse Ventura.

This time one year ago, the assumption dominating political coverage was that the only people more stupid than Donald Trump were the deplorables who elected him.

Since then, of course, President-elect Trump has become President Trump. Over his 11 months in office, he has put Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme Court and four times as many judges on the appellate courts as Barack Obama did his first year; recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel; withdrawn from the Paris climate accord; adopted a more resolute policy on Afghanistan than the one he’d campaigned on; rolled back the mandate forcing Catholic nuns, among others, to provide employees with contraception and abortifacients; signed legislation to open up drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge; initiated a bold, deregulatory assault on the administrative state—and topped it all off with the first major overhaul of the tax code in more than 30 years.

And yet that Mr. Trump is a very stupid man remains the assumption dominating his press coverage.

Let this columnist confess: He did not see Mr. Trump’s achievements coming, at least at first.

Plus:

In Mr. Trump’s case, critics equate lowbrow tastes (e.g., well-done steaks covered in ketchup) as confirmation of a lack of brainpower. It can make for great sport. But starting out with the assumption that the president you are covering is a boob can prove debilitating to clear judgment.

Quick show of hands: How many of those in the press who continue to dismiss Mr. Trump as stupid publicly asserted he could never win the 2016 election—or would never get anyone decent to work for him in the unlikely miracle he did get elected?

The Trump presidency may still go poof for any number of reasons—if the promised economic growth doesn’t materialize, if the public concludes that his inability to ignore slights on Twitter is getting the best of his presidency, or if Democrats manage to leverage his low approval ratings and polarizing personality into a recapture of the House and Senate this coming November. And yes, it’s possible to regard Mr. Trump’s presidency as not worth the price.

But stupid? Perhaps the best advice for anti-Trumpers comes from one of their own, a Vermont Democrat named Jason Lorber. Way back in April, in an article for the Burlington Free Press, the retired state politician wrote that “while it may be good for a chuckle, calling or even thinking someone else stupid is virtually guaranteed to give them the last laugh.”

Is that not what Mr. Trump is now enjoying at the close of his first year?

And yet, you read stuff like this piece by Walter Shapiro, who should know better, saying that “The 45th president combines the temperament of an authoritarian with the competence of Elmer Fudd hunting rabbits.” But I’m not sure it’s Trump who’s playing Fudd here.

DEEP STATE UPDATE: #Resistance and the Crisis of Authority in American Politics.

When Leandra English, former chief of staff to the former director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, asked a federal judge to block President Trump’s appointment of Mick Mulvaney to replace her departing boss Richard Cordray, and to install her as the CFPB’s rightful leader, Judge Timothy J. Kelly of the Federal District Court in Washington, D.C., denied her request. Yet English’s legal team, rejecting the idea that President Trump held the directorship in his hands pursuant to the Federal Vacancies Reform Act of 1988 and Article II of the Constitution, has since vowed to continue its resistance to the President’s action.

Regardless of what happens next in the CFPB matter, this episode illuminated a crisis of authority pervasive in American politics today. The dysfunction it laid bare tells us that we have forgotten what authority means and are thus no longer capable of identifying where it resides in our political system. The result is a post-political order that delegitimizes conflict and undermines the institutions on which we depend to resolve disagreement and forge compromise in a pluralistic society.

Related:

Administrative employees are nominally subject to the control of those appointed by politicians who have won elections, but Democrats embedded in the federal bureaucracy have proclaimed themselves part of the “resistance” to President Trump, and are using their positions to undermine his administration. Bureaucrats thus frustrate the will of the voters. President Trump has been in office for nearly a year, and has yet to take control over the federal bureaucracy that nominally reports to him.

I agree with Professor Barnett that this is a constitutional crisis. The most powerful branch of today’s government is the Fourth: the permanent federal bureaucracy that is nowhere mentioned in the Constitution. The Trump administration can best be viewed, perhaps, as a struggle to the death between American voters and the federal employees who are paid to serve them.

This is a much more dangerous situation that most people appreciate, I think.

ANN ALTHOUSE BUSTS FELLOW LAWPROF LAURENCE TRIBE FOR BOGUS CHARGES OF ANTISEMITISM:

Tribe — who must know about Occam’s Razor — tries to exclude the simple mistake by stating that “Trump had to override autocorrect,” but I opened a compose window in Twitter and typed “Frankenstien” and it did not autocorrect. I tried another “i before e” mistake and wrote “recieve” and it autocorrected, so I know how Twitter autocorrect works, and it doesn’t reject “Frankenstien.”

So Tribe just sounds ridiculously conspiracy-theory-oriented. Why didn’t he test autocorrect before making that assertion? I’m so careful about things like that that I feel the need to say right now that maybe Tribe’s Twitter experience, perhaps in a different browser, works differently from mine. And I’m not spreading scurrilous hate by calling somebody anti-Semitic.

I’m so embarrassed for Tribe, dipping into this kind of crap. I wonder where his hands go when he’s typing out tweets that he chooses not to publish to the world? This is what he thinks is impishly cute or brilliantly smart or importantly alarming??

And the dumbest part of it is, who thinks of “Frankenstien” as “distinctively Jewish” in a way that “Frankenstein” is not? There are many Jewish names that end in “-stein.” If anything, the “-stein” ending might cause me to think Jewish. But of all the names that end in “-stein,” the last one I’d think of as Jewish is “Frankenstein.” Who thinks of the Frankenstein monster as Jewish? Here’s the full text of Mary Shelley’s novel, and there isn’t one reference to Jews or Jewishiness or Judaism.

But if the subject is on your mind, perhaps you’d get the idea that misspelling the familiar name would be a way to make it seem Jewish, but who thinks about “-stien” as being Jewish? . . .

I can’t believe the badness of that Laurence Tribe tweet. Maybe the idea is something like: Trump’s bad tweets work for him. Bad is good. You’ve got to tweet badly. . . . If anything here seems anti-Semitic it’s jumping to call something “distinctively Jewish.”

Yep.

“SHOCKED” OR “SHOCKED, SHOCKED?” Judge shocked to learn NYPD’s evidence database has no backup.

As part of an ongoing legal battle to get the New York City Police Department to track money police have grabbed in cash forfeitures, an attorney for the city told a Manhattan judge on October 17 that part of the reason the NYPD can’t comply with such requests is that the department’s evidence database has no backup. If the database servers that power NYPD’s Property and Evidence Tracking System (PETS)—designed and installed by Capgemini under a $25.5 million contract between 2009 and 2012—were to fail, all data on stored evidence would simply cease to exist.

Courthouse News reported that Manhattan Supreme Court judge Arlene Bluth responded repeatedly to the city’s attorney with the same phrase: “That’s insane.”

New York City is in the very best of hands.

A GUEST POST FROM JOHN RINGO:

Deflection in abuse syndrome: Are Hollywood Actresses really angry at Conservative men? Or is it all just a sham?

The simple answer to the question is: Yes. But not because conservative men have abused them. Because they are forced to be silent, for various sociological and psychological reasons, about their abuse at the hands of the ‘in-crowd’ of liberals by which they are surrounded. And they lash out at any convenient target.

Let’s put this in a perspective that might make sense: A high school cheerleading team.
We’ll call the town this takes place in ‘Hollywood’.

When the new freshman girls reach high school they’re SOOO EXCITED! They were cheerleaders in junior high and now they might get on the JV CHEERLEADING TEAM and even be VARSITY CHEERLEADERS! YAY! GO HOLLYWOOD!

So let’s follow the career of a freshman aspiring JV cheerleader named, oh, Ashley.

As part of Ashley’s tryout she’s invited to a HIGH SCHOOL PARTY! (YAY! WE’RE REALLY GROWN UP NOW!) And at that high school party she gets a little drunk and ends up in the morning in a bed full of strangers (various male varsity jocks) wearing nothing but her socks.

She’s embarrassed and shocked and hurt and doesn’t know what to do. Because she’s never had an experience like that before. (Though she’s rarely a virgin.)

Does she call them out? Does she report it? Will it affect her chances of being on the cheerleading team?
At some point she might open up to a Varsity Cheerleader we’ll call, oh, Dame Judy D. And Dame Judy’s rather cold response tends to be: Welcome to the bigs, sister. No shut up and act.

And so Ashley is now part of the herd. She’s one of the ‘important’ people in high school. And she probably ends up being one of the mean girls who makes life horrible for the nerds. (Herein played by anyone with (R) after their name or anyone who can be defined as ‘conservative’.) And the reason that she makes life horrible for the nerds is THEY ARE THE ONLY SAFE TARGET!

If she lashes out at the jocks and Varsity cheerleaders who are actually making her life hell, the best she can hope is a punch in the face. Worse SHE MIGHT BE THROWN OUT OF THE IN-CROWD! She might NEVER DO LUNCH IN THIS TOWN AGAIN!

And when it’s her time to be the Varsity Cheerleader and some newbie freshman wimp is crying and sulking she tells her: Welcome to the bigs, sis. Now shut up and act.

And when that cheerleader finds a convenient nerd target (herein played by… oh, choose the R target of choice) she makes his life hell. Because she can. And she has to get the rage out somehow.

It’s all part of abuse syndrome, people. I’d wondered about it for some time but the ‘revelations’ about Harvey Weinstein just make it crystal clear. People who are subject to long-term abuse MUST find an outlet for the anger that bubbles in them all the time. They don’t, dare not for various reasons, lash out at their abusers. Think of children in abusive homes. How can they lash out at their parents who are abusing them? They are powerless. So they become bullies in turn.

Conservatives are an easy target. OBVIOUSLY they are worse than the ‘good’ and ‘decent’ liberal men who talk about how important feminism is all the time. Then abuse them. Conservatives HAVE to be worse! They HAVE to be! It’s just not getting reported, just as the abuse they are subjected to by the Harvey Weinsteins of the world is not reported. And since the people around them are ‘their’ tribe, they must, for various psychological reasons, be ‘good’ or at least ‘better’ than the enemy tribe.

This doesn’t mean there aren’t conservatives just as shitty as Harvey Weinstein. There probably are. But they are MUCH more likely to be outed by the news media. (Think of Newt Gingrich and divorcing his dying wife or for that matter the Access Hollywood tape. Interesting that name keeps coming up don’t you think?) Do you really think if a Republican senator was charged by a woman with groping her or masturbating into a plant, that the New York Times would kill the story?

In that way the liberal bias in media can be considered a God send to conservatives and Republicans. It polices our ranks. It is a major weakness for the Democrats and liberals because it refuses to do so. Thus you get the Harvey Weinsteins, the Weiners, the Spitzers who are all ‘protected’ classes until they can’t be protected anymore.

So do liberal actresses and models and all the rest really think conservative men are the worst human beings in the world?
Yes. Yes, they do. Because they have to work every day with some of the ACTUALLY worst human beings in the world. And they have to believe conservative men are worse. Otherwise, there’s no point to being on the ‘good’ side.

Thus when Donald Trump said some needlessly crass things and alleged to have groped women, they immediately saw in him not just Harvey (all the rest of the abusers in Hollywood High not to mention Billy ‘I did not rape that woman’ Clinton) but WORSE THAN HARVEY.

Because Trump has to be worse. They can’t really be slaves to some of the most vile human beings on the face of the planet.

Got news for you ladies: Yes, yes, you are. You enable them every day and by doing so you not only support the abusers, you directly or indirectly tell all the hurt new cheerleaders: Welcome to the bigs, sis. Now shut up and act.

You’re blaming the wrong side.

ANALYSIS: TRUE. Trump’s NFL Protest Comments are why Trump is President:

He takes a commonly held sentiment — most people don’t like the NFL protests — and states it in an inflammatory way guaranteed to get everyone’s attention and generate outrage among his critics. When those critics lash back at him, Trump is put in the position of getting attacked for a fairly commonsensical view.

Of course, NFL owners firing players on the spot for protesting isn’t necessarily common sense, but this is where “seriously, not literally” comes in.

There is another option, besides firing a player:

An odd controversy briefly dominated the sports pages in March 1996. A player in the National Basketball Association, Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, refused to follow the league’s rule requiring that players stand in a “dignified posture” during the national anthem. Instead, since the beginning of the 1995-96 season, Abdul-Rauf had remained seated during the playing of the Star Spangled Banner.

A black, 27-year-old former Baptist from Mississippi who had converted to Islam in 1991, he declared that as a Muslim, he could not pay homage to the American flag – which he called a “symbol of oppression, of tyranny.” He argued further that the flag directly contradicted his Islamic faith: “This country has a long history of [oppression]. I don’t think you can argue the facts. You can’t be for God and for oppression. It’s clear in the Koran. Islam is the only way.”

The NBA responded firmly, suspending Abdul-Rauf until he agreed to obey league rules. He missed one game, then capitulated. Two factors probably weighed most heavily on him: losing a cool $31,707 for each game missed, and facing wide opposition to his decision from other Muslims.

What’s prevented the NFL from doing the same? Instead, we get more mush from the wimp in response to Trump’s statement last night:

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell fired back at President Trump on Saturday for encouraging league owners to remove players who take a knee during the national anthem, saying Trump’s “divisive comments” show “an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL.”

“The NFL and our players are at our best when we help create a sense of unity in our country and our culture,” Goodell said in a statement. “There is no better example than the amazing response from our clubs and players to the terrible natural disasters we’ve experienced over the last month.”

“Divisive comments like these demonstrate an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL, our great game and all of our players, and a failure to understand the overwhelming force for good our clubs and players represent in our communities.”

Yes, if there’s one thing Trump doesn’t understand, it’s professional football. It’s not like he ever owned a pro sports team or anything.

FILE – In this March 8, 1984, file photo, Donald Trump shakes hands with Herschel Walker in New York after agreement on a 4-year contract with the New Jersey Generals USFL football team. The New Jersey Generals have been largely forgotten, but Trump’s ownership of the team was formative in his evolution as a public figure and peerless self-publicist. With money and swagger, he led a shaky and relatively low-budget spring football league, the USFL, into a showdown with the NFL. (AP Photo and caption.)

BEYOND EQUIFAX: Top SEC Officials Only Recently Learned of 2016 Company-Database Hack.

Mr. Piwowar, who led the agency from late January until early May, said he was “recently informed for the first time” about the hack into the SEC’s Electronic Data Gathering, Analysis, and Retrieval System, known as Edgar.

Former SEC Chairman Mary Jo White, who led the agency in 2016, declined to comment when asked about the hack.

The agency appeared not to have followed the typical protocols for public companies, where cybersecurity issues are overseen by the board of directors, said Thomas Sporkin, a former SEC enforcement official.

“You would have expected the commission to have been informed of a breach to an SEC database that houses information critical to investors,” said Mr. Sporkin, now a partner at law firm Buckley Sandler LLP.

Mr. Clayton’s statement described other SEC vulnerabilities to hackers, but provided few details about intrusion, possible trading or which companies might have been affected. The SEC hasn’t responded to requests for additional details.

The country’s in the very best of hands.

THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: Bombshell Report Catches Pentagon Falsifying Paperwork For Weapons Transfers Linked To Organized Crime.

CAN DC SWALLOW AMAZON?

Last week, Amazon announced that it was looking for a site for a new headquarters. Cue a dating contest to rival “The Bachelor,” as adoring cities figuratively hurled themselves at the feet of CEO Jeff Bezos, lauding their own best features and squealing how excited they were by the thought of having the tech giant for their very own.

Many theories have been advanced for Amazon’s best interest; many cities have been extolled. But one in particular caught my eye: Richard Florida, the poet laureate of the Creative Class, deemed my own fair city — Washington, DC — the most likely resting place for Bezos’s wandering eye. . . .

Dump 50,000 Amazon employees into this housing market, and the federal service’s GS-13s will find themselves in even more frenzied bidding wars for the area’s tight housing stock. Won’t they revolt? These are, after all, folks who know how to work the government. They already spend quite a bit of time working to tame Amazon; Jeff Bezos might not want them to spend more.

Maybe. But Washington’s metro area is half again the size of Seattle’s; our housing market is tight, but it’s not going to be as distorted by tech wealth as Seattle was. And there are reasons that those folks might want Amazon here. Washington is fundamentally a company town, its economy ringed in concentric circles around the federal government. That can be rather cozy (everyone understands what it is you do at work), but it can also be rather dull. Most Washingtonians of this class would love to see the city diversify into real industries that think about problems other than what’s going on with the Federal Register.

And by the same token, the District of Columbia city government would probably be all a-quiver to get their hands on an Amazon headquarters, to the tune of many gorgeous tax concessions for the company. That’s because so many of Washington’s major employers don’t pay much in the way of taxes: the federal government pays none, and nonprofits may generate only a little ancillary revenue. From the city’s standpoint, a real, live large business that pays any taxes at all would be an improvement over almost any other potential use for the space.

I think the relationship between tech companies and DC is already too incestuous.

TWO YEARS AGO TODAY: Ordinary Americans lead the way on racial healing.

After the Charleston shooting, citizens of South Carolina, both black and white, joined hands, and more than 15,000 of them marched in a show of love and friendship. As columnist Salena Zito wrote, “They met in the middle; they wept, smiled, laughed, hugged, turned strangers into friends. Homemade signs with messages of outreach, love and solidarity flapped in the wind, as prayers and hymns filled the air. There wasn’t a major network or cable news channel, only local TV crews, rolling cameras to record America doing what it does best — opening its heart; the networks always seem to be on hand for looting or rioting.“

They do, indeed. But many people still noticed, even if the national agenda-setters were, as usual, more interested in spotlighting hate than love.

Today: In devastated Houston, ‘nobody hates anybody’ as people come together. “You hear nothing but bad press, you hear nothing but, you know, this group hates this group, and then you find out: nobody hates anybody. Everybody comes together.”

Why is the press so eager to convince us of the opposite?

UPDATE: A friend comments on Facebook: “It doesn’t take a disaster like Harvey to bring out the best in us; it takes a disaster like Harvey for the press to notice the everyday decency of most people.”

SO THERE’S GOING TO BE A MONUMENT PROTEST/COUNTERPROTEST IN KNOXVILLE TODAY. The KPD seems to have a pretty good plan — unlike some cities I could name — for preventing violence. But as always, the history is more complicated than the slogans. Here’s an excellent piece by Jack Neely. Excerpt:

The United Daughters of the Confederacy, back when that organization was still composed mostly of actual daughters of Confederate soldiers, marked the spot. Among them were daughters of slain soldiers, women who were raised by widows, and wanted to think the best of fathers they never got a chance to know well. . . .

It’s been useful to me to point out the different sizes of the memorials, as an indication of Knoxville’s memory of the war. For every Union man lost at Fort Sanders, the Confederates lost almost 20. But here’s the Confederate memorial, not much bigger than a single coffin. A block and a half away is the Union monument, also of Tennessee marble but more than twice as large and much more elaborate, like a castle tower, with an unusual bas relief of Union and Confederate soldiers shaking hands.

Specifically a memorial to the New York Highlanders who defended Fort Sanders, it was erected in 1918, about four years after the Confederate monument. By that time, American soldiers were dying rapidly in another meat-grinder of a war. This monument also came with a poem:

The hands that once were raised in strife
Now clasp a brother’s hand
And long as flows the tide of life–
In peace, in toil, when war is rife
We shall as brothers stand
One heart, one soul, for our fine land.

That poet was Joseph Ignatious Constantine Clarke, an Irish-born New York newspaperman who was still alive at the time of the erection, and probably knew about it. This inscription seems to be the best-known usage of his poem.

The crowd who attended the dedication seemed to reflect its truth. Rev. W.R. Barrett, a Confederate combat veteran, attended and, asked to speak, admitted that he saw “a Divine purpose in the preservation of the Union.”

William Rule, newspaper editor and Union veteran, who lived within sight of the monument, made an optimistic remark: “There has never been a time in the history of the nation when so little sectional jealousy existed as at present.”

Neither of the ceremonies directly addressed race, civil rights, or the larger causes and consequences of the war. Maybe they should have. But on both occasions, men and women who had had different sympathies half a century earlier seemed content to honor the dead, and the living who had suffered in this weird hillside battle. Maybe, they seemed to want to believe that horror was finally over. Here, at least, the actual veterans, the ones who were young when they had witnessed their friends blown apart beside them, the ones who were wounded themselves, got along, in common cause to remember.

Here’s something I wrote about the Union monument over a decade ago. To be honest, I had forgotten that the Confederate monument was there. As I said, our ancestors seemed better about coming-together and forgiveness than we are, but then, they understood the costs of not doing so much better than we do. May that last, at least, remain true.

KILLING THE GODS OF THE CITY.

Trump is slaying sacred cows and, in the words of American Greatness Senior Editor Julie Ponzi, he is killing the gods of the city and no one knows what to do. The only thing anybody knows is that the things we are seeing have never been done before and Donald Trump is refusing to follow any of the proper conventions (if he even knows what they are . . . tsk tsk).

The media—the cornerstone of the establishment—is doing its best to make it clear to the American people that they ought to be wringing their hands about all of this. Chaos reigns in the imperial city, and Trump is to blame. Nothing is getting done, and everything is terrible.

Of course, this is all poppycock.

People should not be upset; they should be enjoying this. . . .

Americans who elected Trump do not worship the current gods of the city. They know you’re responsible for killing the old ones and they wish to return the favor now. We want your gods dead.

Trump is not the cause of Washington’s decline. He’s a symptom, the wrecking ball that many Americans think was required.

WHAT ARE THE ODDS KEVIN DRUM GETS HOUNDED OUT OF MOTHER JONES FOR THIS? Somebody Needs to Defend John McEnroe. Why Not Me?

McEnroe is getting slagged for insulting Serena Williams by saying she’d rank #700 on the men’s circuit. Also for the sin of thinking that female athletes have to be compared to men. And for being an idiot. Etc.

This is ridiculous. McEnroe can run his mouth with the best of them, but in this case he’s completely innocent. Just read the interview:

McEnroe says Serena William is the best female tennis player in history, full stop. This is something he’s said many times before.
The interviewer then sloppily changes the subject to whether Williams is the best player in the world. Not the best woman in history, but the best in the world right now among all tennis players. This is laughably ignorant.
McEnroe is obviously taken aback, but then answers accurately: If we’re talking about the quality of all tennis players on the planet right now, Williams isn’t even close. This is completely noncontroversial, and it’s something Williams herself has said herself.

McEnroe didn’t bring this up out of nowhere. He wasn’t trying to say anything about Serena Williams or women’s tennis in general. He wasn’t trying to generate controversy. He was responding to a dumb question from an interviewer. I suppose he could have told the interviewer he didn’t understand what she was saying, and then asked for a clarification, but instead he just answered and moved on—or would have, anyway, except that the interviewer just wouldn’t let it go.

Since then, half the sports writers in America have proved they have too much free time on their hands by going after McEnroe.

Well, at least half the sports writers in America now are Pajama Boy types who are leftist shibboleth-repeaters first, sports journalists second. Or fifth.

THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: Retired U.S. Tax Court Judge Sentenced To 34 Months In Jail For Tax Fraud Committed While She Sat On The Court. Honestly, that sounds like a pretty light sentence, considering.

TWO PEOPLE CAN KEEP A SECRET, PROVIDED ONE OF THEM IS DEAD AND NEITHER OF THEM WERE ONLINE: Espionage suspect totally thought messages to Chinese intel were deleted.

On June 22, Kevin Patrick Mallory was brought before a US federal judge for his first hearing on charges that he sold highly classified documents to a Chinese intelligence agent. These documents, which are considered “National Defense Information,” included at least one Top Secret document and three classified as Secret and were found on a phone Mallory had been provided by his Chinese contacts. Mallory, a 60-year-old former Central Intelligence Agency employee living in Leesburg, Virginia, had thought the documents were in messages that had been deleted automatically from the device. Mallory faces life in prison if convicted.

The country’s in the very best of hands.

THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: BuzzFeed’s “FOIA Terrorist” Jason Leopold learns that A Bunch Of CIA Staff Got Fired For Stealing Snacks From Vending Machines:

The thefts took place starting in the fall of 2012 and continued through March 2013, according to a declassified Office of Inspector General report from October 2013. The report is one of hundreds only recently released to BuzzFeed News through a Freedom Of Information Act lawsuit filed in 2015.

Granted, the thefts only totaled about $3,314.40, but it makes one wonder why they would go to such an elaborate plan and effort just about the same time ̶T̶r̶u̶m̶p̶ ̶a̶n̶d Putin were busy “hacking our democracy.” Priorities, I guess. I mean, hey, free Snickers bars.

DEMOCRAT ECONOMIST SEES THE FUTURE AND IT’S VENEZUELA: Democrats’ new economic plan will seal their minority status.

John Tamny at RealClearMarkets:

Interesting is that Bernstein’s next naïve suggestion involves “direct job creation policies, meaning either jobs created by the government or publicly subsidized private employment.” Ok, but all jobs are a function of private wealth creation as Bernstein unwittingly acknowledges given his call for resource extraction from the private sector in order to create them. This begs the obvious question why economic opportunity would be enhanced if the entrepreneurial and business sectors had less in the way of funds to innovate with. But that’s exactly what Bernstein is seeking through his $190 billion “universal child allowance,” not to mention his call for more “jobs created by the government.” Stating what’s obvious even to Bernstein, government can’t create any work absent private sector wealth, so why not leave precious resources in the hands of the true wealth creators? Precisely because they’re wealth focused, funds kept in their control will be invested in ways that foster much greater opportunity than can politicians consuming wealth created by others.

More:

Remarkably, Bernstein describes the ideas presented as “bold” and “progressive,” but in truth, they’re the same lame-brained policies of redistribution that the left have been promoting for decades. And as they’re anti-capital formation by Bernstein’s very own admission, they’re also inimical to the very prosperity that has long made the U.S. the country where poverty is cured. To be clear, if this is the best the Democrats have, they’ll long remain in the minority.

Bernstein is Jared Bernstein, a senior fellow at the ultra-leftist Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. He thinks this time socialism is bound to work.

SETH BARRETT TILLMAN: President Trump’s Reverse-Merryman. “Trump is telling the courts, loudly and truthfully, this is what I intend to do to secure the country in what I and half the country believe to be an emergency of an existential kind. If the courts constrain my hands, the President will not share political responsibility for the consequences with the courts. Trump is saying that if you (the courts) constrain the presidency, and afterwards, should harmful consequences follow, then you (the courts) will have to own all the consequences. In doing this, Trump has not broken any rules relating to the conduct of litigation. He is not threatening to burn the Court down or stop the Justices’ salaries. But he is doing his very best to make them decide, and if that inconveniences them or makes them squirm, he does not care. This is what Taney did to Lincoln, and this is what Trump is doing to the Court.”

DAVID HARSANYI: Comey Didn’t Sink Hillary. Hillary Sank Hillary.

Clinton’s counterfactual tale about the infamous “Comey letter” has been a security blanket for many Democrats. But, as luck would have it, the FBI director was testifying in front of a Senate Judiciary Committee today, and he reminded us of some factors that Clinton ignored. That’s because even if we concede that Comey’s letter to Congress helped sink Clinton, Hillary deserved that letter, and the FBI director had no choice but to send it.

In essence, what many Democrats have been arguing for the past six months is that Comey should have actively buried evidence that was pertinent to an ongoing congressional investigation — one that, incidentally, had turned up plenty of potential wrongdoing — because it might hurt their preferred candidate’s chances.

On Tuesday, Comey, in fact, confirmed that the FBI had learned that classified emails were forwarded from Clinton’s email account by Clinton aide Huma Abedin to her husband Anthony Weiner so he could print them out. (This appears to be illegal, but perhaps all those immunity deals Comey was handing out came in handy.) Her computer, like other servers and laptops that Hillary’s staff tried to dispose of, hide, clean, and whatnot, were supposed to have been in the hands of the FBI.

It’s worth pointing out that everything in the Comey letter was almost surely going to leak anyway. Not only because of its connection to the Hillary investigation, but because this “fella Anthony Weiner,” as Comey referred to him today, had access to classified information. That may not have made things any better for Hillary, but it certainly would have made the FBI look like it was actively protecting a candidate — which is undoubtedly why Comey said it was potentially “catastrophic.”

The fact is that Comey’s superiors at the Justice Department did actively protect Hillary Clinton as best they could, as Charlie Martin posited yesterday:

Comey knew that the Justice Department was no way going to indict Hillary. The “intent” excuse was just that — an excuse (18 USC 793(f) again.) At the same time, he could not bring himself to let a multiple felon be elected President.

There’s no way of knowing what Comey’s thinking really was, but Charlie’s theory goes a long way towards explaining Comey’s erratic behavior.

The best thing for the Democrats would have been not to use the DNC to stack the deck against Bernie Sanders, and not to use Justice to “hack” the election for Clinton — but it seems they just couldn’t help themselves.

And for once, a Clinton was hoist on her own petard.

THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: Oversight Committee Finds FBI’s Facial Recognition Database Still Filled With Innocent People, Still Wrong 15% Of The Time.

THE BBC LISTS SEVEN OF CHUCK BERRY’S GREATEST SONGS: OK, it’s the Beeb’s music reporter. But it’s a decent list. Here it is: Maybellene. Roll Over Beethoven. School Days (“American history and practical math”). Brown Eyed Handsome Man. You Never Can Tell (“They had a hi-fi phono, boy, did they let it blast, Seven hundred little records, all rock, rhythm and jazz”). Memphis, Tennessee. Johnny B. Goode.

Note: The BBC post says “School Day” not “School Days.” It’s both. In 1957 schools still taught American history and practical math. I selected the line from You Never Can Tell because it’s one I particularly like.

UPDATE: OK, seven of his best, not necessarily greatest. The article’s a fun read.

LATE-NIGHT LEGEND DAVID LETTERMAN’S UGLY PERSONALITY NO LAUGHING MATTER, FORMER COLLEAGUES SAY:

The tale of Tim Long, one of several head writers hired during the show’s run, was typical. Unable to deal with the host’s constant rejections and dark moods, Long took to chewing Coke cans — and swallowing pieces of tin.

* * * * * * * *

Comic Rich Hall, a writer for Letterman’s NBC show, was floored by the host’s new, abrasive nature when he appeared as a guest. Hall followed actress Andie MacDowell, who had just flopped in her segment. Before the cameras came on, Letterman leaned over and snarled, “How’d you like to be married to that c—?”

* * * * * * * *

The feeling of foreboding was exacerbated by the 1980 cancellation of his NBC morning show, “The David Letterman Show,” within months of its debut.

His girlfriend at the time and for years to come, Merrill Markoe, was a brilliantly inventive comedy writer and instrumental in shaping the show…[Markoe] told the author about the resulting fallout.

“If it weren’t for you and your crazy ideas,” Letterman shouted at her on the street, “I’d still have a talk show like John Davidson!”

It’s a comment funny only in retrospect.

“A veteran staffer who served under Letterman through both his late-night shows” quoted in the article “observed that getting close to the boss was perilous: ‘There comes a moment when he turns on you.’”

Shades of Letterman’s idol turned boss Johnny Carson, who, by the end of the 1980s had dispatched both Joan Rivers and longtime business advisor Henry Bushkin to the Los Angeles-equivalent of Siberia, and whose inner-circle at the time of his retirement, at least as depicted by biographer Laurence Leamer was down to his wife Alexis and Ed McMahon. Both Leamer and later Bushkin describe Carson as a miserable man when the cameras weren’t rolling. As Rob Long, who knows a thing or two about television, wrote in his 2014 review of Bushkin’s book:

We’re all primed to hear stories of movie stars and celebrities and their creepy emotional problems. But for actors—who, after all, appear only on screen, in character, or in a few carefully stage-managed publicity appearances—it’s easy to cover up the seams of a psychotic or broken-down personality.

But Johnny appeared on television every weeknight. He was playing himself—or, rather, an idealized version of himself: jovial, chummy, witty, warm. The strain of that kind of acting must have been monumental. It’s no wonder that real movie stars—Jimmy Stewart, Michael Caine, a whole bushel of A-listers—respected him so much. In one of the best stories in a book filled with great stories, when Johnny arrives late to a very exclusive industry event filled with movie stars, he lights up the room. He wasn’t just the king of late night television. He was the king of managing not to appear like the rat bastard he clearly was.

Of course, in the ‘60s, every guy in America wanted to be as cool, handsome, and outwardly charming as Carson. (My businessman dad, who never missed at least the first half-hour of every episode of the Tonight Show during its entire run also owned a couple of Carson-branded sportcoats in the early 1970s, as I recall.) I doubt few guys watching Letterman, even during Late Night’s mid-‘80s peak, wanted to be Letterman, with his famously prickly on-air persona and all of its weird tics. But the brand of irony that Letterman’s show launched is absolutely omnipresent in American culture. Or as Markoe warned Salon in a 2015 interview:

More broadly: Does the knowing, ironic style you and the others traded in in the ‘80s seem to have filtered more deeply into comedy in specific and American culture in general? Do you see or hear echoes of it now as you go through your day?

Yes. It’s frequently the language of advertising and corporate P.R. now. It is the voice of what [musician Andy Prieboy of the rock group Wall of Voodoo, her longtime companion] calls “Your buddy the corporation.” Everyone’s hip. Everyone’s ironic. Everyone who is selling you something wants you to know they have the same limitations and daily strife that you do. You definitely should be wary when you hear this voice now. It’s not to be trusted. Unless you’re in the market for an aluminum cookware set or an Apple watch.

And politics as well – to those of us who didn’t drink the Second Coming Kool-Aid in 2008, Obama’s eight years frequently seemed like a postmodern Letterman or Saturday Night Live sketch come to life, from his Ten Commands-like shtick while receiving the Democratic nomination to his interviews with YouTube “stars” who bathe in milk and Cheerios to his vicious “The 1980s are now calling” Letterman-esque putdown of Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential debate, when Romney warned of the geopolitical dangers of Russia. And Obama flashed more than a hint of Jerry Seinfeld’s “it’s a show about nothing” detached wry bemusement throughout it all. (Perhaps the apocalyptic doomsday-fury of the hypersensitive SJW screaming campus garbagebabies* is in part explained as a reaction to a generation of detached leftwing irony — or nihilism with a happy face, to paraphrase Allan Bloom.)

And yet, between the earlier, funnier SNL of the 1970s, the 1980s-era Letterman, and Jerry Seinfeld in the ’90s having set the tone of the American overculture, the left seemed astonished that another veteran of NBC television could have bested the plonking Hillary Clinton. Funny, that.

* A registered trademark of Iowahawk industries.

THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS! Oh, wait, that’s not the country they’ve got in their hands. . . Nearly 100 bureaucrats caught viewing ‘copious’ porn at work. ‘In one case, the employee acknowledged watching porn for up to six hours a day for ‘several years.'”

SACRAMENTO’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: CA State Senator admits half of family under deportation threat:

A Los Angeles lawmaker leading the fight to make California a so-called “sanctuary state” has suggested half of his family would be deported for using falsified Social Security cards and other fake identification.

California Senate Leader Kevin de Leon made the claims during testimony before the Senate’s Public Safety Committee for SB54, a bill introduced by De Leon that would create a statewide sanctuary for immigrants living in the country illegally.

Responding to President Trump’s suggestion of “withholding federal funding” from California, de Leon said: “Half of my family would be eligible for deportation under the executive order, because they got a false social security card, they got a false identification, they got a false driver’s license prior to us passing AB 60, they got a false green card, and anyone who has family members who are undocumented knows that almost entirely everybody has secured some sort of false identification.”

“That’s what you need to survive, to work,” he added. “They are eligible for massive deportation.”

Most Americans want to make a living, Leslie Eastman of Legal Insurrection responds. “However, they don’t commit crimes to do so. The senator’s admission has not inspired the kind of sympathy from the nation’s law-abiding taxpayers he may have been expecting.”

As California resident Victor Davis Hanson has noted in various formulations in recent years, “In California, the neglect of the felony requires the rigid prosecution of the misdemeanor.” No state regulates its small businesses more. No state is more obsessed with recycling and banning common goods, down to shopping bag bans, and in some regions, mandatory composting. No state is more obsessed with banning guns from legal owners. But illegal immigration and its related crimes such as potential voter fraud, and false drivers’ licenses and Social Security cards? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Which of course is why Sacramento has to deal with Donald Trump these days. Speaking of their “Enemies: A Love Story” like relationship, the addicts may loathe the new dealer, but they still want their fix: “California rebukes Trump’s orders but wants $100B in federal infrastructure funds.”

DAVID HARSANYI: Republicans Should Make Elizabeth Warren The Voice Of Democrats.

It seemed pretty obvious to me that the nomination of Jeff Sessions as attorney general was likely a done deal. So it was unlikely any persuadable voter would have even heard about Warren’s grandstanding if it weren’t for the kerfuffle. If it were up to me, however, I’d let Warren speak whenever she wanted to — ceding my time, if necessary — for as long as she wanted on any stage she demanded. The more she speaks, the better for conservatives.

As The Washington Post points out, however, McConnell probably gave Warren’s 2020 presidential aspirations a huge “in-kind contribution” by forcing her to follow rules of decorum. It’s possible, I suppose, that the GOP is playing the same 3D chess mastered by Donald Trump. Maybe shutting down Warren was a surreptitious means of making her the de facto voice of the Democratic Party and #TheResistance (formerly known as “unprecedented obstructionism”). Maybe it was just good luck.

Warren as the voice of the Left might be the best-case scenario for Republicans. For one thing, Warren is no Barack Obama on the charisma front. For another, Warren saves conservatives the trouble of going after socialist strawmen. They’ll have a real one.

Right now it looks like Republicans won’t have to do anything at all — Democrats seem to think they have a real winner on their hands.

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.

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.

GENTRIFICATION AND GHOST TOWNS — Two types of losers in the white liberal world order:

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

Everyone always talks about how the “white working class” votes against their best interests, but I often wonder, don’t people of color do this too? The democrats, have overseen a massive concentration of wealth into privileged hands, and are the driving force behind global community destruction via gentrification. This… doesn’t really seem good for POC who generally not in existing positions of privilege. However, the democrats can secure their vote by being overtly not racist (yet, it benefits them to provoke or exaggerate racism in republicans — so they’re likely to create conditions that increaseracism in conservative arenas if they can’t be caught doing it, or disproportionately highlight it when it does occur.)

The thing is, city gentrification and rural ghost towns are part of the same problem; more people are leaving the towns they grew up in to live in the city. So, the original towns suffer without enough people to keep them running, and the people already living in the city suffer as they are displaced with the recent migrants. Any effort to halt this drain would benefit both groups of people, yet people getting gentrified and people in ghost towns tend to be politically split. This ensures they don’t gang up against the ruling classes and cause real change.

Read the whole thing.

(Via Kathy Shaidle.)

WAS TRUMP’S SWIPE AT ARMY-NAVY FOOTBALL MEAN OR FAIR?

He just couldn’t help himself.

The President-elect of the United States took a soft swipe at the quality of the football game he was watching in Baltimore on Saturday between two branches of the armed forces.

During the annual Army-Navy game — during which he was loudly cheered by the cadets in the stands — Donald Trump was interviewed by CBS Sports’ Verne Lundquist and Gary Danielson. In Trump parlance, he attempted to tell it like it is. In this case, that meant saying the Black Knights and Midshipmen football players weren’t the best he’s seen.

“I just love the armed forces, love the folks. The spirit is so incredible. I mean, I don’t know if it’s necessarily the best football, but it’s very good,” said Trump…“But boy do they have spirit. More than anybody, it’s beautiful.”

It’s not like the president-elect actually owned a professional football team or something. Oh wait:

The Generals went from 6-12 in their first season to 14-4 in their first season with Trump.

In the third and final season of the league, the Generals went 11-7, making Donald Trump 25-11 as the owner of a professional sports team. The team was 0-2 in playoff games under Trump. Strong in the regular season, fading down the stretch. That’s a little literary device Shakespeare like to call foreshadowing.

Or not. Et tu, Fox Sports?

FILE - In this March 8, 1984, file photo, Donald Trump shakes hands with Herschel Walker in New York after agreement on a 4-year contract with the New Jersey Generals USFL football team. The New Jersey Generals have been largely forgotten, but Trump’s ownership of the team was formative in his evolution as a public figure and peerless self-publicist. With money and swagger, he led a shaky and relatively low-budget spring football league, the USFL, into a showdown with the NFL. (AP Photo/Dave Pickoff, File)

In this March 8, 1984, file photo, Donald Trump shakes hands with Herschel Walker in New York after agreement on a 4-year contract with the New Jersey Generals USFL football team. The New Jersey Generals have been largely forgotten, but Trump’s ownership of the team was formative in his evolution as a public figure and peerless self-publicist. With money and swagger, he led a shaky and relatively low-budget spring football league, the USFL, into a showdown with the NFL. (AP Photo and caption/Dave Pickoff, File)

WHY ARE DEMOCRAT MONOPOLY INSTITUTIONS SUCH CESSPITS OF RACIST HATE SPEECH? “Roberto Orci, a producer for ‘Star Trek,’ says he has a special bond with one of the franchise’s most popular characters. Orci, a Mexican-born filmmaker, likens Mr. Spock to an illegal* alien in modern society, and would refer to the fictional character as ‘Mr. Spic’ when developing the ‘Star Trek’ movies and TV series. ‘I always thought of Mr. Spock as a Latino, he’s an alien, an immigrant,’ the Latino producer said at Variety’s #Inclusion Summit on Tuesday. ‘Just between us, and only I can say this, I personally used to call him Mr. Spic.’”

As with the country itself, the Hollywood institution that Gene Rodenberry built a half century ago is in the very best of hands.

* I don’t recall the backstory where Spock entered the Federation illegally, do you?

SHOULD, BUT WON’T: John Kass: Democrats should ask Clinton to step aside.

It’s obvious the American political system is breaking down. It’s been crumbling for some time now, and the establishment elite know it and they’re properly frightened. Donald Trump, the vulgarian at their gates, is a symptom, not a cause. Hillary Clinton and husband Bill are both cause and effect.

FBI director James Comey’s announcement about the renewed Clinton email investigation is the bombshell in the presidential campaign. That he announced this so close to Election Day should tell every thinking person that what the FBI is looking at is extremely serious.

This can’t be about pervert Anthony Weiner and his reported desire for a teenage girl. But it can be about the laptop of Weiner’s wife, Clinton aide Huma Abedin, and emails between her and Hillary. It comes after the FBI investigation in which Comey concluded Clinton had lied and been “reckless” with national secrets, but said he could not recommend prosecution.

So what should the Democrats do now?

If ruling Democrats hold themselves to the high moral standards they impose on the people they govern, they would follow a simple process:

They would demand that Mrs. Clinton step down, immediately, and let her vice presidential nominee, Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia, stand in her place.

Democrats should say, honestly, that with a new criminal investigation going on into events around her home-brew email server from the time she was secretary of state, having Clinton anywhere near the White House is just not a good idea.

Since Oct. 7, WikiLeaks has released 35,000 emails hacked from Clinton campaign boss John Podesta. Now WikiLeaks, no longer a neutral player but an active anti-Clinton agency, plans to release another 15,000 emails.

What if she is elected? Think of a nation suffering a bad economy and continuing chaos in the Middle East, and now also facing a criminal investigation of a president. Add to that congressional investigations and a public vision of Clinton as a Nixonian figure wandering the halls, wringing her hands.

The best thing would be for Democrats to ask her to step down now. It would be the most responsible thing to do, if the nation were more important to them than power. And the American news media — fairly or not firmly identified in the public mind as Mrs. Clinton’s political action committee — should begin demanding it.

In a different America, one less fundamentally transformed, that would be imaginable. In this America, not so much.

And this is the real key:

I’ve always figured that, as secretary of state, Clinton kept her home-brew email server — from which foreign intelligence agencies could hack top secret information — so she could shield the influence peddling that helped make the Clintons several fortunes.

The Clintons weren’t skilled merchants. They weren’t traders or manufacturers. The Clintons never produced anything tangible. They had no science, patents or devices to make them millions upon millions of dollars.

All they had to sell, really, was influence. And they used our federal government to leverage it.

If a presidential election is as much about the people as it is about the candidates, then we’ll learn plenty about ourselves in the coming days, won’t we?

Yes.

ANN ALTHOUSE: Maybe It’s Okay That Half Of Academic Papers Are Never Read.

Oh, I don’t think we really want to put academics to work building up society and addressing its problems. It might be a very good thing to contain these academic types in a place where they won’t do too much damage. It may be that we have marginalized these very intelligent people who live deeply in their own minds and conjure up new ideas because it’s best to keep them separated and deactivated.

No one forces anyone to go into academics, and the people who go there may know — on some level — that they don’t belong in the world of business and politics, that they shouldn’t have their hands directly on any levers of power. The academy is a structural safeguard. We don’t lock these people up. We give them a place they can choose to go, where they will be comfortable. Don’t worry too much about the waste in not using them more… not until you’ve calculated the waste they would cause if set free to solve our problems.

Both Obama and Hillary are former professors.

THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS:

“You know that I’m going to first of all denounce the utilization of this intrusion by Wikipedia through the Russian intrusion,” Jackson Lee said in an interview with MSNBC on Friday. “This is what it’s about. Espionage just like what was said over these last couple of days. We need to be concerned about the intrusion of Russia and Putin in these elections.”

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) confuses Wikipedia with WikiLeaks (Video.)

“JUST TURBOCHARGE IT ALREADY:” Review: 2017 Subaru BRZ Manual. “At this rate, the BRZ and its counterpart, the Toyota 86, are destined to suffer the same fate as the late Nissan 240SX—another coupe with a fantastic chassis that desperately needed an engine to match. The Nissan died at the hands of bean counters disgruntled about low sales volume. The benefits a turbocharged engine would bestow on the BRZ are too great to ignore,­­­ both for driving enthusiasts and for its longevity. Are you listening, Subaru?”

THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: E.P.A. Waited Too Long to Warn of Flint Water Danger, Report Says.

THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: How Could NSA Contractor Harold Martin Have Been Taking Home Classified Info For 20 Years Without NSA Noticing?

SNIFFING AT TRUMP: Vanity Fair’s Graydon Carter and the elite’s anti-Trump puritanism, as explored by Andrew Ferguson in the Weekly Standard:

[P]uritanical is precisely the tone of the Trump haters on the left. (We Trump haters on the right are another story.) But why? Consider Trump himself. Here’s a man who’s famous for his wide-ranging sex life, his disdain for conventional marriage, his eager embrace of divorce, his public use of profanity, his non-judgmental attitude toward unconventional sexual minorities—a man whose way of life seems unrestrained by religious impulses of any kind—a man who, in short, is a walking summation of our present-day cultural principles. Yet on each of these scores, from his many marriages to his cursing in public, he is vilified by journalists, politicos, TV starlets, right thinkers of every kind. After years of egging on potty-mouthed rappers and scolding religious believers, our cultural guardians suddenly sound like the General Conference of Methodist Bishops circa 1922.

A case in point is an article in the November number of Vanity Fair by the magazine’s editor, a man named Graydon Carter. He is best known for…well, not much. Carter helped found Spy magazine in the 1980s, and for the last twenty-some years he has filled his present magazine with more than enough throne-sniffing and celebrity-whoring to keep advertisers and a certain kind of reader happy. Also, to judge by a passing reference in his article, he owns a restaurant. Downtown, is my guess.

His article is titled “The Ugly American.” I don’t know why. The Ugly American is a 1950s novel about an American in Southeast Asia, about foreign relations generally, and Carter’s piece has nothing to do with foreign relations. The ugly American of his headline is (of course) Trump. An interesting article might be written about how the election of a professional buffoon like Trump would affect America’s image in the world, and then it would make sense to use the cliché about the ugly American as the title. For Carter it’s just a handy, off-the-shelf phrase he heard somewhere.

Nobody tell Carter that “The Ugly American” was actually the good guy in the novel:

The title of the novel is a play on Graham Greene’s 1955 novel The Quiet American and was sometimes confused with it.

The “Ugly American” of the book title refers to the book’s hero, plain-looking engineer Homer Atkins, whose “calloused and grease-blackened hands always reminded him that he was an ugly man.” Atkins, who lives with the local people, comes to understand their needs, and offers genuinely useful assistance with small-scale projects such as the development of a simple bicycle-powered water pump.

Setting

The novel takes place in a fictional nation called Sarkhan (an imaginary country in Southeast Asia that somewhat resembles Burma or Thailand, but which is meant to allude to Vietnam) and includes several real people, most of whose names have been changed. The book describes the United States’s losing struggle against Communism due to the ineptness and bungling of the U.S. diplomatic corps stemming from innate arrogance and their failure to understand the local culture. The book implies that the Communists were successful because they practiced tactics similar to those of protagonist Homer Atkins.

Trump is an unlikely populist hero, but his lifestyle and worldview, as Ferguson goes on to write, is surprisingly much closer to the common man than the vast majority of cork-sniffing, virtue-signaling Manhattan elites, as Trump lives out Groucho’s famous motto that he would never belong to any club that would have me as a member.

Speaking of which, Rod Dreher spots the New Yorker’s Douglas McGrath, who occasionally moonlights as a screenwriter for Woody Allen, savaging Mike Pence for dining at the Red Lobster in Times Square.  Not coincidentally, Dreher’s piece is titled “Where Trump Voters Come From.” Not to mention, Trump’s GOP successor, if Trump himself fails next month.

THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: Daily Beast Suggests FBI ‘Egged On’ 2015 Jihad Attack on TX ‘Draw Muhammad’ Contest.

THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: FBI Undercover Officer Hunting Homegrown Terrorists Was at Cartoon Contest During Shooting. “On Thursday a federal court in Ohio unsealed the affidavit of an FBI agent that chronicles the chase of a homegrown, ISIS-supporting terrorist cell during the lead-up to an armed attack on a Muhammad cartoon contest in Garland. The documents show that an FBI agent was in touch with one shooter on social media and had discussed the attack before it happened with an alleged plotter who helped set the attack in motion last year.”

UPDATE: FBI Agent Apparently Egged on ‘Draw Muhammad’ Shooter.

THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: Justice Department Knew of IRS Scandal Two Years Before Congress but Did Nothing.

As Hillary said earlier this month, can you imagine electing a vindictive man who might send the IRS after his critics?

Who would even “joke” about it beforehand? Just imagine it!

obama_nixon_beach_10-8-11

 

THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: DNC disarray is the foreshadowing of a Clinton administration.

GINNIE MAE HIRED A FAKE CPA TO RUN A $1.5 TRILLION MORTGAGE PORTFOLIO: No, Luke Rosiak of the Daily Caller News Foundation Investigative Group is not making this one up. Officials at the Government National Mortgage Association — aka Ginnie Mae – hired David Fender as vice president and chief financial officer in April 2014.

They did this despite a background check that revealed Fender’s highly dubious credentials, including falsely claiming to be a registered CPA, being fired from his previous job for working for another company on company time, and much, much more.

“Fender was hired as Ginnie Mae’s CFO despite an undistinguished resume of failed business deals in Japan and jobs with U.S. companies he didn’t keep for long. His pet project was Cold Energy Systems, which sells steel tanks to governments,” Rosiak reports.

“The reference check done during Fender’s Ginnie Mae background investigation revealed his penchant for taking and neglecting corporate jobs to pay the bills while he brokered big-dollar side deals.” And then there was that $128 million tax deficiency he claimed not to know about. Sleep tight tonight, folks, because your Government Sponsored Entities are in the best of hands.

 

CBS: WIKILEAKS’ DNC EMAIL LEAK REVEALS OFF THE RECORD MEDIA CORRESPONDENCE.

Of course, CBS’s on the record correspondence with the DNC is nothing to sneeze at either:

And it’s worth noting that the president of CBS’s news division is David Rhodes, brother to Ben “Lonesome” Rhodes, the now infamous “Aspiring Novelist Who Became Obama’s Foreign-Policy Guru.”

The country’s in the very best of hands, as is its media.

Related: Five Biggest Scoops from the #DNCLeaks WikiLeak.

TO BE FAIR, IT’S VOX WE’RE TALKING ABOUT HERE: Pokemon Go Reveals Everything Wrong With Conventional Wonk Thinking.

Because mainstream policy thinkers lack creative ideas for reinvigorating the American economy and helping the middle class, they issue familiar calls for more wealth redistribution and stimulus. We’re not necessarily opposed to a more progressive tax code or demand-boosting policies like infrastructure spending, but neither looks to us like a serious fix for deep structural problems.

A great deal of policy proposals today are rooted in a sense of resignation: capitalism naturally causes inequality, so the best we can do is have the government take more and more from the rich and give more and more to the poor.

That approach bespeaks a lack of imagination and historical awareness. Time and again, doomsayers have bewailed free market; time and again, their fears have proven to be greatly exaggerated. In the late nineteenth century, as the United States transitioned from agriculture to heavy industry, new technologies were making farm hands obsolete and rapid urbanization was creating social disorder and depleting rural communities. But no worried mother in 1890 could imagine that her young children would grow up to become mechanics or telephone operators. Those jobs didn’t exist because automobiles and sophisticated landline infrastructure didn’t exist. In any age, it’s difficult and often impossible to know what the jobs and industries of the future will be.

Instead of simply redistributing wealth and doubling down on short-term stimulus policies, we should be looking at ways to make it easier for people to start businesses and move jobs. Relaxing licensing requirements and confronting the gatekeepers who lobby for them so that more people can compete for jobs in traditionally-protected industries would be a good place to begin. So would faster implementation of portable pension plans. In addition to reforming housing policies in urban centers, we ought to think about how telework can allow more people who don’t live in San Francisco to make money off of the tech boom.

Rather than resigning ourselves to managing “late stage capitalism”, we should be creating a regulatory and commercial framework that can support an information economy. The jobs of the future may be unknowable, but that shouldn’t stop us from imagining and starting to build a country in which they are more likely to be created.

Then again, if all our creative energies are directed toward debating the merits of catching virtual Pikachus instead of toward building a new economic model, humanity may indeed be doomed.

The thing is, redistribution of wealth provides superb opportunities for graft. But it’s fair to assume that any author using the phrase “late stage capitalism” unironically has nothing useful to contribute.

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

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

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

Yes. Yes, yes, and yes.

He rightly attacked Hillary’s foreign policy:

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

He added:

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

Excellent stuff.

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

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

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

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

Yes, it does.

THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: AG Lynch Admits the FBI Has Lost Track of Omar Mateen’s Wife.

“I’m half convinced they’re actually helping her get out of the country to avoid the embarrassing trial,” Iowahawk tweets in response.

THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: Iran Had Uranium. Uh-Oh.

THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: It Was John Brennan Himself Who Halted LEO Training on Islam, Jihad.

THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: Syrian Immigrant Who Said 9/11 ‘Changed The World For Good’ Is A Homeland Security Adviser.

THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: What The Heck?! Reporters Allowed to Casually Tour Orlando Killer’s Apartment.

Flashback: Frenzied Media Pore Over Home Of San Bernardino Killers During Live Broadcasts.

THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS. Irony: Jeh Johnson Says Gun Control Now a Matter of Homeland Security…Orlando Terrorist Worked For DHS.

THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: Orlando shooter was on, then off watch list.

The man who police say killed 49 people in a brutal rampage in Orlando, Fla., early on Sunday morning was on a federal watch list for roughly 10 months in 2013 and 2014, while he was the subject of an FBI probe.

But then Omar Mateen was taken off the list soon after the investigation ended in March of 2014, FBI Director James Comey said on Monday

“He was watch-listed with the opening of the preliminary investigation and he was taken off the watch list when the investigation was closed,” Comey told reporters.

That preliminary investigation was launched after coworkers complained that Mateen, who at the time was the guard at a Florida courthouse, reported that he had boasted about having connections to al Qaeda and other extremist groups. As part of the investigation, the FBI followed Mateen and had confidential sources meet with him, but the results were not enough to press forward, Comey said.

Had Mateen remained on the list, federal officials would have received a flag when he purchased two guns earlier this month, but he would not have been banned from making the purchase.

Democrats in Congress have fought to change the rules for purchases firearms and enact restrictions against people on various government databases from buying the weapons. Those calls have returned in the wake of the shooting in Orlando, the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.

This whole “watch list” thing is sketchy.

THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: Omar Mateen Worked For Company That Provides Security to Federal Buildings.

THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS:  The Daughter of Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) Is Using His Car With Congressional Plates To Drive For Lyft.

Hey, just try doing that in Austin…

THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS. Report: Hillary Clinton and Staff Compromised Counterterrorism Ops With ‘Sloppy Communication.’

WALTER RUSSELL MEAD ON THE TRUMP PHENOMENON AND OUR DYSFUNCTIONAL POLITICAL CLASS:

What makes Trump so appealing to so many voters is that the establishment does seem unusually clueless these days. The great American post-Cold War project of seeking peace and security through the construction of a New World Order based on liberal internationalism and American power doesn’t seem to be working very well, and it’s not hard to conclude that neither the neoconservatives nor the Obama-ites really know what they are doing. When it comes to the economy, it’s been clear since the financial crisis of 2008 that something is badly awry and that the economists, so dogmatic and opinionated and so bitterly divided into quarreling schools, aren’t sure how the system works anymore, and have no real ideas about how to make the world system work to the benefit of ordinary voters in the United States. With the PC crowd and the Obama administration hammering away at transgender bathroom rights as if this was the great moral cause of our time, and with campus Pure Thought advocates collapsing into self parody even as an epidemic of drug abuse and family breakdown relentlessly corrodes the foundations of American social cohesion, it’s hard to believe that the establishment has a solid grip on the moral principles and priorities a society like ours needs.

Trump appeals to all those who think that the American Establishment, the Great and the Good of both parties, has worked its way into a dead end of ideas that don’t work and values that can’t save us. He is the candidate of Control-Alt-Delete. His election would sweep away the smug generational certainties that Clinton embodies, the Boomer Progressive Synthesis that hasn’t solved the problems of the world or of the United States, but which nevertheless persists in regarding itself as the highest and only form of truth. . . .

Myself, I don’t think the system is quite as corrupt as some Trump supporters believe or, perhaps more accurately, I lack their confidence that burning down the old house is the best way to build something new. But it would be equally wrong and perhaps more dangerous to take the view that there is nothing more fueling his rise than ignorance, racism and hate. The failure of the center-Left to transform its institutional and intellectual dominance into policy achievements that actually stabilize middle class life, and the failure of the center-Right to articulate a workable alternative have left a giant intellectual and political vacuum in the heart of American life. The Trump movement is not an answer to our problems, but the social instinct of revolt and rejection that powers it is a sign of social health. The tailors are frauds and the emperor is not in fact wearing any clothes: it is a good sign and not a bad sign that so many Americans are willing to say so out loud.

Those of us who care about policy, propriety and the other bourgeois values without which no democratic society can long thrive need to spend less time wringing our hands about the shortcomings of candidate Trump and the movement that has brought him this far, and more time both analyzing the establishment failures that have brought the country to this pass, and developing a new vision for the American future.

The Control-Alt-Delete candidate. Heh. And our political class is Windows ME.

THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: IRS Commissioner John Koskinen will skip his own Congressional impeachment hearing.

Related: IRS Employee Admits He Would Go After, Target, and Try to End Conservative Groups.

Unexpectedly.

THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: Veterans Affairs Secretary: Waiting For Medical Care Is Like Waiting In Line At Disneyland. “‘When you go to Disney, do they measure the number of hours you wait in line? Or what’s important? What’s important is, what’s your satisfaction with the experience?’, [Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert McDonald] said according to the Washington Examiner. “‘And what I would like to move to, eventually, is that kind of measure.’”

Of course he would.

 

THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: Terrifying Report: TSA’s Cybersecurity May Be Worse Than Its Customer Service.

THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: Yukking It Up with the Obama Kiddie Korps. As Michael Walsh writes, DC is being run by small children — who are also generating most of the fawning news of their escapades.

THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS, FONDLING OUR JUNK: Huge security lines force passengers to sleep in cots at Chicago O’Hare — where four thousand passengers have missed flights while waiting for the TSA this year.

THE COUNTRY’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS, FONDLING OUR JUNK: DHS Secretary: Long Airport Screening Wait Times Not a ‘National Crisis.’