Search Results

DEVELOPING: Ricardo Rosselló, Puerto Rico’s Governor, Resigns After Protests.

Gov. Ricardo A. Rosselló of Puerto Rico announced his resignation on Wednesday, conceding that he could no longer credibly remain in power after an extraordinary popular uprising and looming impeachment proceedings had derailed his administration.

In a statement posted online late Wednesday, Mr. Rosselló, 40, said he would step down on Aug. 2.

He said his successor for the moment would be the secretary of justice, Wanda Vázquez, a former district attorney who once headed the island’s office of women’s affairs. Ms. Vázquez was next in line under the territory’s Constitution after the secretary of state, who would have succeeded as governor, resigned last week when he also was caught up in a chat scandal that enveloped Mr. Rosselló’s administration.

But he appeared to leave open the possibility that a different successor could be in place by the time he steps down.

“If only Ricardo Rosselló appeared in blackface for his college yearbook, he would’ve remained in power,” Siraj Hashmi of the Washington Examiner tweets.

Earlier: Trump was right all along about Puerto Rico, with protests blowing apart Democrats’ hurricane narrative.

PAST PERFORMANCE IS NO GUARANTEE OF FUTURE RESULTS: Democratic Governors Association Publicly Praises Northam for First Time Since Yearbook Scandal.

Earlier: After calling for Northam to Resign in February, the Washington Post gives him a column to complain “I expected better of Virginia’s legislators.”

To be fair, I don’t think anyone else expected better of the Democrats when circling the wagons to protect one of their own.

ROSIAK EXPOSES ANOTHER HILL COMPUTER OUTRAGE: The Daily Caller News Foundation’s Luke Rosiak busted Pakistani computer rogue Imran Awan in 2017, and now he’s peeling back the layers of deception, deceit and denial in yet another Hill IT scandal.

Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.) is a former CIA agent and freshman congressman, who hired Samantha DeForst-Davis, accomplice to convicted felon Jackson Cosko, the former Senate IT aide behind what federal prosecutors called “the largest data theft in Senate history.”

“Spanberger’s spokesman Connor Joseph did not respond to a request to explain whether the congresswoman’s office called anyone in the Senate to get a job reference and why her central Virginia constituents should trust that her office safeguards their personal data,” Rosiak reports today.

“Capitol Police spokeswoman Eva Malecki did not respond to a request to explain why it did not alert Spanberger that the House’s newest pending hire was a suspect in an ongoing criminal investigation. Spanberger is a member of the House’s Foreign Affairs Committee, which deals with information of interest to America’s adversaries,” Rosiak writes.

If you haven’t already got it, be sure and get your hands on a copy of Rosiak’s “Obstruction of Justice,” his detailed account of how he broke open the Awan outrage. Just click on the Shop Amazon button above.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE, CULTURE OF CORRUPTION EDITION: Former USC coach pleads guilty in college admissions scandal. “A former University of Southern California assistant soccer coach pleaded guilty Tuesday to her role in a college admissions scandal. Laura Janke, 36, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit racketeering with William ‘Rick’ Singer, the mastermind of the scheme, and agreed to cooperate in the government’s investigation into the admissions scandal. Janke is one of five USC coaches charged in the case, but the first to plead guilty.”

DISPATCHES FROM A REMARKABLY SCANDAL-FREE ADMINISTRATION: Obama White House Tracked FOIA Request For Hillary Emails That Was Improperly Denied.

The emails, which were provided to Judicial Watch, show for the first time that the Obama White House was aware of the Clinton-related FOIA request, which the liberal watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) submitted to the State Department in December 2012.

The State Department denied the request in May 2013, claiming that no responsive records existed. That despite officials at the State Department, the White House and even President Obama himself knowing that Clinton used a personal email account for government business.

The State Department’s inspector general determined in a report released on Jan. 7, 2016 that the State Department’s denial of the CREW request was “inaccurate and incomplete.”

It is not clear from the emails why the White House was interested in the request. But Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton has a theory.

“These documents suggest the Obama White House knew about the Clinton email lies being told to the public at least as early as December 2012,” he said in a statement.

Of course they did.

KIMBERLEY STRASSEL: Barr Brings Accountability: Trump’s foes call it ‘stunning and scary.’ Here’s what they have to be scared about.

The most inadvertently honest reaction to Attorney General William Barr’s congressional testimony this week came from former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. Mr. Barr had bluntly called out the Federal Bureau of Investigation for “spying” on the Trump campaign in 2016. Mr. Clapper said that was both “stunning and scary.” Indeed.

No doubt a lot of former Obama administration and Hillary Clinton campaign officials, opposition guns for hire, and media members are stunned and scared that the Justice Department finally has a leader willing to address the FBI’s behavior in 2016. They worked very hard to make sure such an accounting never happened. Only in that context can we understand the frantic new Democratic-media campaign to tar the attorney general. . . .

Mr. Comey testified that the Trump probe was simply too sensitive for members of congressional intelligence committees to know about—an unbelievable statement given the heavy publicity he gave the investigation of Mrs. Clinton’s improper handling of classified information. Here’s a more plausible explanation: Mr. Comey and his crew have also testified that they were all convinced Mrs. Clinton would win the election. That would have meant that no politician other than the incoming Democratic president would have known the FBI had spied on the Trump team. Nor would the public. A Clinton presidency would have ensured no accountability.

Mr. Trump’s victory destroyed that scenario, and it became clear that the new Republican president would soon know that the former Democratic administration had surveilled his campaign on the basis of information from his rival. At that point two things happened. Neither was accidental, and both were aimed, again, at forestalling accountability.

First, Mr. Comey and other intelligence officials, including Mr. Clapper, engineered the public release of all the scandalous claims against Mr. Trump, to provide some cover. As liberal commentator Matt Taibbi notes in his new book, “Hate Inc.” Mr. Comey’s Jan. 6, 2017, briefing of the president-elect about the dossier was a classic Washington “trick.” It served as the “pretext” to get the details out, a “news hook” to allow the press to publish the dossier—with its salacious fictions about prostitutes and Moscow hotel rooms—and go wild.

Democrats used the furor in their successful push for a special counsel, which gave greater legitimacy to the FBI’s probe. The appointment of a special counsel also froze other oversight. Congress can’t have access to certain documents or ask witnesses certain questions, since that might interfere with the probe. The White House can’t demand answers, because that too would interfere. Mr. Trump’s adversaries got to hide behind Robert Mueller for nearly two years.

Flashback, March 2017: “Hypothesis: The spying-on-Trump thing is worse than we even imagine, and once it was clear Hillary had lost and it would inevitably come out, the Trump/Russia collusion talking point was created as a distraction.”

DISPATCHES FROM THE EDUCATION APOCALYPSE:

Thirty years ago, having tapped out of a Ph.D. program, I moved to Los Angeles (long story) and got hired at the top boys’ school in the city, which would soon become co-educational. For the first four years, I taught English. Best job I’ve ever had. For the next three, I was a college counselor. Worst job I’ve ever had.

* * * * * * * *

I just about got an ulcer sitting in that office listening to rich people complaining bitterly about an “unfair” or a “rigged” system. Sometimes they would say things so outlandish that I would just stare at them, trying to beam into their mind the question, Can you hear yourself? That so many of them were (literal) limousine liberals lent the meetings an element of radical chic. They were down for the revolution, but there was no way their kid was going to settle for Lehigh.

—“They Had It Coming: The parents indicted in the college-admissions scandal were responding to a changing America, with rage at being robbed of what they believed was rightfully theirs,” Caitlin Flanagan in the Atlantic.

Found via Rod Dreher, who headlines his post linking to Flanagan’s article, “The Joy Of Schadenfreude.”

As Ed Morrissey discovered when he guested for Hugh Hewitt a few weeks ago when the college admissions scandal first broke, “and for three hours, this was the story listeners wanted to discuss,” and now with the Atlantic actually attacking wealthy Democrats, it’s bipartisan schadenfreude.

THIS ARTICLE HAS IT WRONG: TRUMP WON’T BE CAMPAIGNING ON THE MUELLER REPORT, HE’LL BE CAMPAIGNING AGAINST THE PRESS.

Trump allies see Barr’s letter as a kind of Swiss Army knife—a tool useful in all kinds of situations. Not only is it exculpatory, they say, but it also implicitly rebukes the press for its coverage of the Russia investigation, inoculating Trump from any future scandal that reporters might unearth. According to a source familiar with internal discussions at the Republican National Committee and the pro-Trump super PAC America First, both organizations are “geared up for any nonsense to come.”

They’re already prepared to attack reporters. “Any reporter who tries that will be hit with 30-second spots of all their ridiculous claims about collusion,” said the source, who, like others interviewed for this story, requested anonymity to describe private conversations. “Their tweets have all been screencapped. It’s all ready to go.” (“It’s the same thing we’ve been doing the last two years. We’re going to hold the media accountable when we see fit,” an RNC official clarified, adding that this would include digital clips shared on social media.)

Earlier this week, Trump’s campaign previewed the in-your-face tactics they have in mind. A campaign official sent a letter to TV producers cautioning them against booking certain guests who had alleged that Trump colluded with Russia, including Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Democratic Representative Adam Schiff of California, and Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez.

“It’s not hard to figure where we’re going to go with this,” a current campaign official told The Atlantic. “We’re still in victory-lap mode, but it will turn into a message that [Democrats] will say or do anything to stop us from making America great again, including making up lies about the president and ruining a lot of people’s lives.”

Well, the nice thing about that argument is that it’s true. And Trump will treat the press like it’s made up of Democratic operatives with bylines, which is also true.

PHASE TWO: Kimberley Strassel: Mueller Is Done. Now Probe the Real Scandal: Americans deserve a full accounting of the missteps of Comey and the FBI.

This is more than an exoneration. It’s a searing indictment of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, as well as a reminder of the need to know the story behind the bureau’s corrosive investigation.

Mr. Mueller’s report likely doesn’t put it that way, but it’s the logical conclusion of his no-collusion finding. The FBI unleashed its powers on a candidate for the office of the U.S. presidency, an astonishing first. It did so on the incredible grounds that the campaign had conspired to aid a foreign government. And it used the most aggressive tools in its arsenal—surveillance of U.S. citizens, secret subpoenas of phone records and documents, even human informants.

The wreckage is everywhere. The nation has been engulfed in conspiracy theories for years. A presidency was hemmed in by the threat of a special counsel. Citizens have gone to jail not for conspiracy, but for after-the-fact interactions with Mr. Mueller’s team. Dozens more have spent enormous amounts of money and time defending their reputations.

None of this should ever have happened absent highly compelling evidence—from the start—of wrongdoing. Yet from what we know, the FBI operated on the basis of an overheard conversation of third-tier campaign aide George Papadopoulos, as well as a wild “dossier” financed by the rival presidential campaign. Mr. Mueller’s no-collusion finding amounts to a judgment that there never was any evidence. The Papadopoulos claim was thin, the dossier a fabrication.

Which is all the more reason Americans now deserve a full accounting of the missteps of former FBI Director James Comey and his team—in part so that this never happens again. That includes the following: What “evidence” did the FBI have in totality? What efforts did the bureau take to verify it? Did it corroborate anything before launching its probe? What role did political players play? How aware was the FBI that it was being gulled into a dirty-trick operation, and if so, how did it justify proceeding? How intrusive were the FBI methods? And who was harmed?

Yes. This was an effort to overturn a legitimate election through underhanded means.

Related:

Flashback, March 2017: “Hypothesis: The spying-on-Trump thing is worse than we even imagine, and once it was clear Hillary had lost and it would inevitably come out, the Trump/Russia collusion talking point was created as a distraction.”

WHEN THEY COME FOR THE JEWS, They Won’t Ask Questions.

Only recently, a Belgian parade featured a float of grotesquely distorted Orthodox Jews in religious garb, perched on bags of money, à la the art of Nazi Julius Streicher. What makes this sickening display even more alarming is the official sanction given to it by the Mayor of Aalst, Christoph D’Haese, who stated, “It’s not up to the mayor to forbid such displays” and that the carnival participants had “no sinister intentions.” No sinister intentions? Adolf Eichmann also had no sinister intentions when he organized transportation to the death camps. After all, he himself had no part in the actual killing process; they just did their jobs.

We have our own anti-Semitic scandal with newly elected congresswoman Ilhan Omar (D), a Somalian hijab-wearing Muslim who tweets anti-Semitic tropes “without sinister intentions” or retractions. Democrat leadership won’t condemn, censure, or remove her from the House Foreign Affairs Committee, leftist Jews have defended her, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi excused her inadvertent offense. Yes, Congress passed a resolution condemning anti-Semitism and anti–everything else, without singling out Omar and the Jews. Thus, the Democratic Party is falling farther left toward Islamic ideology. . . .

American Jewry is at a crossroads. The vast majority of American Jews will continue to cling to their familiar ancestral belief system; it’s all they know. To change now would be to deny everything their family members and they, themselves, have lived for. But before they bury their heads in the sand once again, they should at least hear these simple truths. When our enemies came for us during the Holocaust, they did not ask if we were Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, or secular Jews. Neither were they interested in any past service we rendered for the state. We were Jews. That was all that mattered. If history repeats itself, when our enemies come for us once again, they will not ask if we are Israelis or Zionists. They will not care if we marched in Selma, Alabama; protested against apartheid in South Africa; supported equal rights for women; advocated for the LBGTQ community; and campaigned for Hillary or Bernie. It will matter that we are Jews.

Today’s anti-Semitism, unleashed by the Left and Islamists, is so visceral, virulent, vile, vicious, and vitriolic that it can no longer be justified under the guise of anti-Zionism. In form, content, and message, it is exactly what was seen and heard during the heyday of the Third Reich. It is what made the Holocaust possible. What begins with a parade float in Belgium inevitably ends in the gas chambers of Auschwitz and Treblinka. This is the fate our enemies want for us. This is why Tehran’s Ayatollah Khamenei rejoices that more Jews are moving to Israel — for one grand target.

This trend has been visible for 20 years, but . . .

MATTHEW CONTINETTI: Our Bankrupt Elite: Operation Varsity Blues and the hypocrisy of Hollywood liberals.

It’s not what happens in class that matters. The university has long been corrupted by athletics, politicization of the curriculum, identity politics, grade inflation, affirmative action, the death of the humanities, and ideological bias among faculty. What matters is the chit you receive at graduation.

Finally, there are the lessons to be drawn from this story. It’s the media’s vocation, drawing lessons. I’ve heard it said that the parents ought to have been concerned about the lesson they were teaching their children—though right now I’d wager they are more concerned with avoiding jail time. Others say this is the latest example of the falsity of meritocracy. For progressives, the affair reveals the classism and racism of our society, its rampant white privilege.

Which is a funny thing to say about the academic world. Colleges exert tremendous energy to be as diverse and inclusive and woke as possible, to the point where Asian-American students are discriminated against lest they ruin the schemes of college admissions officers. A scandal over which the media seems far less upset.

Lessons? Here are two. First the good news: We are shocked by the actions of these parents precisely because there is so little corruption in America. If the problems were as systemic as some on the Internet believe, they would hardly raise such an outcry. Denizens of countries where bribery is a way of life look at us and say, “Amateurs.”

The second lesson is not as comforting. Operation Varsity Blues is further evidence of the bankruptcy of American elites. For over a decade now, the legitimacy of elites in politics, foreign policy, central banking, journalism, religion, and economics has crumbled as reality failed to match their rhetoric. Education is the latest sphere where elites have betrayed our country’s institutions and our country’s people by using wealth and connections to rig the rules of the game.

The scandal also points to the flagrant hypocrisy of Hollywood liberalism. No class is more moralistic, more hectoring, more obnoxiously activist than the Hollywood left. They barrage Americans with displays of their virtue, their calls to humanitarianism, their paeans to multiculturalism and feminism, their slanders of President Trump, Vice President Pence, Republicans in general, and conservatives in particular. And they have great sway in national politics. A Democrat’s future depends on the beneficence of Hollywood donors—donors who were well represented among the individuals charged in Operation Varsity Blues.

The entertainment industry liberals talk a good game. But look at their actions. Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey are synonymous with predation. Jussie Smollett was a B-list celebrity until he faked a hate crime against himself and blamed it on supporters of Trump. Now we have actors breaking the law so their kids can go to USC.

Why on Earth should we take political cues from these people?

No reason at all. To be honest, they’re not even very good at making movies anymore.

TOM WOLFE MAY BE GONE, BUT WE’RE ALL STILL LIVING IN HIS VIRTUAL REALITY PROGRAM:

● Shot:

Maybe this is why Gregory and Marcia Abbott allegedly bought their daughter’s way into college.

Their “rapper” son, Malcolm, popped out of the family’s Fifth Avenue building to smoke a giant blunt — while defending his parents and bragging about his latest CD.

“They’re blowing this whole thing out of proportion,” said Malcolm Abbott outside the home that overlooks the Metropolitan Museum of Art. “I believe everyone has a right to go to college, man.”

* * * * * * *

The toker, who sports a ponytail and raps under the name “Billa,” then shamelessly plugged his music. “Check out my CD, ‘Cheese and Crackers,’ ” he said of his 2018 five-track rec­ord that includes a song titled “If I Lost My Money.”

Later, Malcolm emerged with his brother, who groused to The Post on Tuesday his parents “got roped into [this by] some guy who f–king cheated them.”

—“Son defends parents caught in college admissions scandal while smoking blunt,” the New York Post, yesterday.

● Chaser:

In Silicon Valley, wearing a tie was a mark of shame that indicated you were everything a Master of the Universe was not. Gradually, it would dawn on you. The poor devil in the suit and tie held one of those lowly but necessary executive positions, in public or investor relations, in which one couldn’t avoid dealing with Pliocene old parties from . . . Back East.

Meanwhile, back East, the sons of the old rich were deeply involved in inverted fashions themselves. One of the more remarkable sights in New York City in the year 2000 was that of some teenage scion of an investment-banking family emerging from one of the forty-two Good Buildings, as they were known. These forty-two buildings on Manhattan’s East Side contained the biggest, grandest, stateliest apartments ever constructed in the United States, most of them on Park and Fifth Avenues. A doorman dressed like an Austrian Army colonel from the year 1870 holds open the door, and out comes a wan white boy wearing a baseball cap sideways; an outsized T-shirt, whose short sleeves fall below his elbows and whose tail hangs down over his hips; baggy cargo pants with flapped pockets running down the legs and a crotch hanging below his knees, and yards of material pooling about his ankles, all but obscuring the Lugz sneakers. This fashion was deliberately copied from the “homeys”—black youths on the streets of six New York slums, Harlem, the South Bronx, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Fort Greene, South Ozone Park, and East New York. After passing the doorman, who tipped his visored officer’s hat and said “Good day,” the boy walked twenty feet to a waiting sedan, where a driver with a visored officer’s hat held open a rear door.

What was one to conclude from such a scene? The costumes said it all. In the year 2000, the sons of the rich, the very ones in line to inherit the bounties of the all-powerful United States, were consumed by a fear of being envied. A German sociologist of the period, Helmut Schoeck, said that “fear of being envied” was the definition of guilt. But if so, guilt about what? So many riches, so much power, such a dazzling array of advantages? American superiority in all matters of science, economics, industry, politics, business, medicine, engineering, social life, social justice, and, of course, the military was total and indisputable. Even Europeans suffering the pangs of wounded chauvinism looked on with awe at the brilliant example the United States had set for the world as the third millennium began.

—Tom Wolfe, “Hooking Up: What Life Was Like at the Turn of the Second Millennium: An American’s World,” the first chapter in his 2000 anthology, Hooking Up. 

(Post article spotted by Rod Dreher, who writes, “Do read the whole thing, if only to see the photo of Young Master Abbott and his blunt. Like I even have to ask.”)

TYLER COWEN: The College Admissions Scandal Is About More Than Just Bribery: Most U.S. institutions of higher education don’t even try to live up to their egalitarian ideals. “First, these bribes only mattered because college itself has become too easy, with a few exceptions. If the bribes allowed for the admission of unqualified students, then those students would find it difficult to finish their degrees. Yet most top schools tolerate rampant grade inflation and gently shepherd their students toward graduation. That’s because they realize that today’s students (and their parents) are future donors (and potential complainers on social media). It is easier for professors and administrators not to rock the boat. What does that say about standards at these august institutions of higher learning?” Read the whole thing.

BLOWN TO HELL: On the morning of March 6, 1970, members of the Weather Underground terrorist group were busying themselves with plans to set off a large bomb. Their intended target was a dance for non-commissioned officers scheduled for that night at Fort Dix, New Jersey.   Something went wrong and the bomb went off prematurely, completely destroying the Greenwich Village townhouse the Weathermen were occupying at 18 W. 11th Street.

That was good news. It meant that the lives of the Fort Dix non-commissioned officers and their dates were spared.

Instead, the bodies of Weathermen Diana Oughton and Terry Robbins, who had been working in the basement on the bomb, were blown to pieces. Member Ted Gold, who was just arriving at the house when it blew up, was also killed.

Upstairs were members Cathy Wilkerson (whose wealthy father owned the townhouse) and Kathy Boudin.   Though dazed and bloodied, they managed to escape.

Cathy Wilkerson was a fugitive from justice for a decade. She finally surrendered to the police, was convicted of illegal possession of dynamite, and sentenced to three years. When a judge ordered that she be released after serving only 11 months, it caused something of a scandal. New York State’s Commissioner of Correctional Services argued that many inmates had better disciplinary records and that Wilkerson simply had good lawyers.

Kathy Boudin was on the run for 11 years. But unlike Wilkerson she didn’t surrender. Rather, she was arrested shortly after her participation in the notorious Brink’s robbery in which three innocent men were killed.  In other words, she was still at it all those years later.

Boudin was eventually sentenced to 20 years to life for her role in the Brink’s robbery/triple murder. She was paroled in 2003 and later hired by Columbia University, where she is now an assistant professor and co-founder/co-director of Columbia’s Center for Justice.

There is evidence that the Weathermen had planned to bomb Columbia University’s administrative building too. But Columbia fell all over itself to hire Boudin anyway. Go figure.

SO WE HAVE A BLACKFACE SCANDAL at the University of Tennessee, and it rang a bell. And sure enough, here’s a post.

And here’s Eugene Volokh’s take from the then-new Volokh blog:

Uh, administrators, sorry to distress you even further, but the First Amendment gives people the right to be uncivil, unharmonious, and not terribly respectful of racial harmony. What’s more, it means that when you sanction people, you are violating the Constitution, and can be and should be sued and held financially liable.

The funny thing is that this very issue — people’s right to wear blackface — has come up before, and has actually led to a U.S. Court of Appeals decision, Iota Xi v. George Mason University (4th Cir. 1993) that made perfectly clear that public universities may not punish students for wearing blackface. But even without the Iota Xi decision, the right First Amendment result would be obvious.

Judging by the University’s response so far, they seem to have gotten that message. At any rate, it’s not like the students are going to just get off scot-free. If they’re ever Governor of Virginia, they will have to act really apologetic for a week or so. Then they can get off scot-free.

UPDATE: Note that despite all the sturm und drang, we don’t even know if the picture is of UT students. They’re just “thought to be” University of Tennessee students. That was enough for a three hour meeting with multiple members of the Administration. It’s not clear how much we know about the image’s provenance.

TRUE: Howie Carr: Smirking media bias against GOP couldn’t be clearer.

Have you ever noticed how differently Republicans are treated in the media than Democrats?

Every newsroom in the country used to have what was called the “AP Stylebook” to use in writing news stories.

Now you need two AP stylebooks, one for Democrats, about whom seldom is heard a discouraging word, and a second for the GOP, with a hundred different pejoratives.

Two parties, two vocabularies. One positive, one negative — very bad, evil in fact.

Consider the testimony by Michael Cohen last week in front of various Congressional committees.

For example, since he worked for Donald Trump, Cohen was described about a million times as a “fixer.” Democrats, on the other hand, have lawyers.

To prevent the release of embarrassing information, Democrats’ lawyers negotiate NDA’s — nondisclosure agreements. Republican fixers’ NDAs are “hush money,” or “bribes.”

Hillary Clinton paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to Democrat operatives who then bought or made up false Russian dirt on Trump — that was opposition research. Republicans, on the other hand, “collude!”

Republicans lie, Democrats misspeak.

Democrats plan, Republicans scheme.

Republicans hire lobbyists, Democrats use advocates. Republicans employ operatives or hired guns, Democrats prefer community activists.

If a Democrat changes his or her position on an issue, they have evolved … grown. Republicans “flip-flop.”

Whenever an unfamiliar politician is ensnared in some scandal, you naturally wonder which party he or she is a member of. If the “embattled” pol is a Republican, affiliation is usually noted in the headline, or at the very latest in the first paragraph.

If, however, you reach the third paragraph of the story without his party being identified, you can be absolutely certain you are reading about a Democrat miscreant.

Likewise, accusers are handled differently depending on who exactly they’re accusing. Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court was almost derailed by the not particularly credible “Dr.” Christine Blasey Ford. One of the women who’s accused Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax of Virginia of sexual assault likewise has a Ph.D., but how often does the alt-left media refer to “Dr. Vanessa Tyson.” Fairfax, you see, is a Democrat.

Was Jussie Smollett’s fake hate crime ever referred to as “alleged?” Of course not. But all the real, documented, videotaped attacks on conservatives — invariably they are alleged, or “according to police reports.”

Yep. Plus: “No wonder half of America is beyond smirking at the alt-left media’s agitprop on behalf of the Democrats. The deplorables aren’t smirking anymore, they’re sneering.”

NAME THAT PARTY, VIRGINIA CLOWN SHOW EDITION: CBS, NBC Drop Partisan ID as Latest Racial Gaffe Engulfs Virginia Democrats.

Now that it’s clear that none of top three Virginia Democrats engulfed in scandal will be resigning voluntarily, CBS and NBC have stepped up the effort to clean up their racial gaffes. During a tour of the governor’s mansion last week, First Lady Pamela Northam handed cotton to an African American child and asked her to “imagine” what it would be like to be a slave. CBS This Morning and NBC’s Today on Thursday covered the latest revelation, but skipped the fact that First Lady Pamela Northam, her husband and the state’s other top leaders are, in fact, all Democrats.

On CBS, co-host Gayle King found the whole thing “sad” and lamented how people are so “hypersensitive” about race these days. Assuring her co-hosts and viewers that Mrs. Northam meant no harm, King lamented, “When I saw the story, it made me kind of sad. I think she’s giving a tour, she’s trying to put history in context.”

Curiously, CBS seems rather unwilling to put this into context: Ralph Northam’s family owned at least 84 slaves.

Exit quote from King: “Again, we weren’t there, but I can’t imagine that she would have been that insensitive to this young person who was there. It made me sad. I think we are so quick to jump on things now. Everybody’s super and hypersensitive when it comes to racial issues in particular.”

That’s nice. So when does the DNC-MSM apologize for smearing Rick Perry over a rock?

CONRAD BLACK: The Real Scandal Of Trump Term Starts To Unravel.

For more than two years, the United States and the world have had two competing narratives: that an elected president of the United States was a Russian agent whom the Kremlin helped elect; and its rival narrative that senior officials of the Justice Department, FBI, CIA, and other national intelligence organizations had repeatedly lied under oath, misinformed federal officials, and meddled in partisan political matters illegally and unconstitutionally and had effectively tried to influence the outcome of a presidential election, and then undo its result by falsely propagating the first narrative. It is now obvious and indisputable that the second narrative is the correct one.

The authors, accomplices, and dupes of this attempted overthrow of constitutional government are now well along in reciting their misconduct without embarrassment or remorse because — in fired FBI Director James Comey’s formulation — a “higher duty” than the oath they swore to uphold the Constitution compelled them. Or — in fired FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe’s words — “the threat” was too great. Never mind that the nature of “the threat” was that the people might elect someone he and Mr. Comey disapproved of as president, and that that person might actually serve his term, as elected.

It’s the entitlement mentality here that’s most striking.

SHARYL ATKISSON ASKS THE RIGHT QUESTIONS ABOUT THE DEEP STATE: The former CBS News reporter is suing the government to find out who ordered the intrusion of her computer and other surveillance that appears to bear some disturbing resemblances to the Russia Collusion Scandal.

Writing for The American Thinker, Atkisson asks some highly pertinent questions:

“Who is behind the move to use government surveillance tools against innocent Americans? Do some of these officials still work inside the government? Were some of them the very same officials now implicated in alleged surveillance abuses during Campaign 2016?”

Prediction: The answers to the first question will provide the answers to the second and third. Given what’s already on the record in both the Atkisson case and the Russia Collusion Scandal, one need not be “conspiracy theorist” to see where this is going.

And yes, there is an appeal for financial support in Atkisson’s post. To understand why, read her explanation for why merely printing a brief for the federal court system costs not $20, not $40, but $4,367.70. Justice is not cheap anymore, friends.

BOB MCMANUS: With Amazon gone, everyone sees that Emperor Andrew has no clothes.

Emperor Andrew has no clothes — and Amazon noticed.

Or perhaps Jeff Bezos was channeling George Bernard Shaw — “I learned long ago never to wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and the pig likes it” — and decided that, whatever the upside of a major presence in the Big Apple, the cost of doing business here was just too high.

Either way, arrivederci Amazon!

What’s astonishing is that the digital ­dynamo decided to come to Queens in the first place.

Isn’t the bulk of Gov. Cuomo’s economic-development varsity — including his ­as-close-as-a-brother top aide — on its way to prison because of the team’s first-term pocket-lining? Haven’t all of his grand plans flopped spectacularly, one after another and usually mired in scandal?

And then there is Mayor de Blasio, a party to the Amazon deal and a fellow who spent most of his first term under investigation for corrupt practices; who has a kindergartener’s attention span; and who nobody takes seriously anyway — to say nothing of trusts.

Why would any self-respecting company want to do business in such an environment?

That is, in a culture where a signed, sealed and delivered agreement traditionally is just a starting point for the so-called community-benefits-agreement shakedown — the process where local politicians attempt to squeeze cash and other considerations from good-faith investors.

And, sure enough, local pols began circling the deal the instant it was announced — ­piously preaching policy concerns, but clearly on the make for extracurricular advantages. It’s a tradition, don’t you know.

Thing is, when you’re one of the world’s most significant economic engines, you don’t have to play by local rules.

So Bezos bagged it.

It’s also a lesson to other pols, in other places in the future, not to get too greedy.

VIRGINIA CLOWN SHOW UPDATE: Governor Blackface Brags about His Moral Compass and Explains How It’s All Our Fault.

When Virginia governor Ralph Northam agreed to his first print interview since his flaming dumpster fire of a press conference, he required the Washington Post to not post audio or a transcript of the entire interview, and the paper assented. (I thought democracy died in darkness.) Why does Governor Blackface think he’s in a position to make demands?

In the Post interview, Northam spoke as if the citizens of his state had done something terrible, and needed to make amends:

“It’s obvious from what happened this week that we still have a lot of work to do. There are still some very deep wounds in Virginia, and especially in the area of equity,” he said. “There are ongoing inequities to access to things like education, health care, mortgages, capital, entre­pre­neur­ship. And so this has been a real, I think, an awakening for Virginia. It has really raised the level of awareness for racial issues in Virginia. And so we’re ready to learn from our mistakes.”

What’s this “we” stuff? Northam added that he would take action to ensure that others would not be as insensitive as he had been: “First of all what I plan to do . . . is to make sure that we have sensitivity training — in our Cabinet, in our agencies. I also plan to reach out to our colleges and universities and talk about sensitivity training. Even into the K through 12 age range, that’s very important.”

Governor, Virginia’s kindergarteners are not the problem. You are.

Then Northam did a televised interview with CBS News, and declared, “Virginia needs someone that can heal. There’s no better person to do that than a doctor. Virginia also needs someone who is strong, who has empathy, who has courage and who has a moral compass. And that’s why I’m not going anywhere.”

You don’t get to brag about your moral compass when you’re in this situation.

In addition to all of the Oprah-approved language when a well-known leftist seeks media redemption — all that “healing” and “empathy” and “sensitivity,” historically, when a political lefty has screwed up royally, academia and the media have always given him an out on the basis that his crime or mistake is a collective failing among all Americans:

FDR’s decision to intern Japanese-Americans during World War II? America’s shame… JFK’s death in 1963, by a lone Capital-C Communist? America’s collective racist shame. In 2004, John Kerry tried to pass the buck on the Vietnam War from LBJ to Nixon. And on and on.

It was also a frequent tactic of former President Obama, as the late Charles Krauthammer perceptively noted in mid-2009, after Obama’s infamous “beer summit” with Cambridge police Sergeant James Crowley, Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and Joe Biden:

It was a classic example of the Obama style. Here, he starts out by making the mistake — he accuses the cops of acting stupidly. It’s an instinctive sort of a prejudice against the cops and in favor of a professor. If you’re a professor like him, if you live in academia the way he did, it’s sort of an instinctual response. He realized immediately it’s a mistake and what he does is he tries to act the philosopher or a king and he rises above it and he says, “and now we’re going to teach the nation,” whereas he was the one who made the mistake.

It’s the same way with the Philadelphia race speech [in 2008]. It was discovered of course in the campaign that he had had a gaffe of 20 years by being in the church of a raving racist, Jeremiah Wright. And then [Obama] gives a speech which essentially scolds everyone, including his own grandmother, of latent racism — except himself — and he rises above it. He says [it’s] “a teachable moment,” and he gives his speech that had the liberals feeling thrills up their leg and comparing it to Lincoln at Cooper Union. It’s a clever pose but I think it wears thin. [Obama] makes mistakes like others. They’re [the] usual instinctive liberal mistakes, and then he pretends that he’s going to now teach us about this. I found it slightly annoying and I wonder if the rest of the nation over time won’t also slightly annoying.

As with Obama before him, Northam has dramatically accelerated the process of casting off his personal guilt onto the populous at large. Though unlike Obama, Northam lacks the undying love of the DNC-MSM, which is why he’s running a much more personally high stakes game in the hopes that this tactic will save his hide.

At least as of today, it likely will — CBS is certainly going all-in to protect him, as a Hill headline this morning notes: “CBS’s Gayle King: Black people in Virginia don’t believe Northam is a racist.”

King’s comments come as a Washington Post-Schar School poll conducted last week found 47 percent of Virginia residents surveyed want Northam to resign, while the same percentage want him to stay.

Of the African-Americans surveyed in that poll, 58 percent said that they prefer Northam remain in office while 37 percent said they think he should resign. Forty-eight percent of white residents surveyed said they wanted Northam to resign, with 46 percent stating a preference to stay.

And as this Vanity Fair headline asks today, “Could [Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax’s] Sexual Assault Scandal Save Ralph Northam?”

Related: “Two of the three government staffers to Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax and two employees of his political action committee resigned following news Friday of a second sexual assault allegation against him.”

VIRGINIA CLOWN SHOW UPDATE: CBS’s Gayle King corrects Northam for referring to slaves as ‘indentured servants.’

The comment came in Northam’s first televised interview since he began facing calls to resign over a blackface scandal, in which he urged healing.

“We are now at the 400-year anniversary — just 90 miles from here in 1619. The first indentured servants from Africa landed on our shores in Old Point Comfort, what we call now Fort Monroe, and while—,” Northam said, before King cut him off.

“Also known as slavery,” King said.

“Yes,” Northam responded.

And note this moment in the transcript:

GOV. RALPH NORTHAM: –right now,  Virginia needs someone that can heal. There’s no better person to do that than a doctor. Virginia also needs someone who is strong, who has empathy, who has courage and who has a moral compass. And that’s why I’m not going anywhere. I have learned from this. I have a lot more to learn. But we’re in a unique opportunity now. Again the 400 year anniversary of the history whether it be good or bad in Virginia to really make some impactful changes–

GAYLE KING: Of slavery in this country?

GOV. RALPH NORTHAM: Yes.

As CNN’s Jeff Yang tweets, “‘The 400 year anniversary of the history [of slavery] whether it be good or bad.’ It be bad, Ralph.”

When you’re a Democrat who’s lost CBS, CNN, and the Washington Post, your career barely has a pulse. Speaking of which, Twitchy notes that “to top it all, [during his interview with King, Northam] touted his being in ‘life and death’ situations with children.” And/or life followed by death for newborn children.

UPDATE: Wagons = circled: Virginia Democratic Rep. Don Beyer just admitted they won’t force the AG out because a Republican would take over.

To coin an Instaphrase, they told me that if Donald Trump were elected president, we’d see open racism becoming acceptable in polite society. And they were right!

Earlier: WHAT IS IT ABOUT VIRGINIA DEMOCRATS? Virginia AG says he wore blackface at college party.

HOW FAR WILL THE DEEP STATE GO TO PROTECT ITS OWN? You won’t know the answer to that question until you know how congressional leaders in both parties, including now-former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, actively protected (or simply looked the other way) former House IT aide Imran Awan and his unvetted network of Pakistani family and friends serving more than 40 House Democrats, including many on the intelligence, armed services and foreign affairs committees.

It’s all detailed in “Obstruction of Justice” by Luke Rosiak of the Daily Caller News Foundation (DCNF). Am I biased about this book? You bet I am because I was Luke’s editor when he first started covering this unbelievable but true saga and for many months thereafter. This one makes Watergate look like mere child’s play. And after you read it, you will want to call your senators and your congressman and ask them why they aren’t doing something about this national security scandal.

FAIL: Only 10,000 Are Expected At This Year’s Women’s March Following Anti-Semitism Scandal. “In 2017, the first Women’s March attracted between 500,000 and 1 million people from around the country, according to official estimates.” Well, the Women’s March’s appeal has become “more selective,” and there aren’t that many anti-semitic bigots available, it turns out.

THAT’S NICE, BUT IT WOULD BE NICER IF SOME PEOPLE HAD BEEN FIRED AND CRIMINALLY CHARGED: Conservative Groups Targeted in Lois Lerner’s IRS Scandal Receive Settlement Checks.

TEACH WOMEN NOT TO RAPE! (CONT’D): 2018 Sex Scandal Teacher Starting Lineup.

In 300 B.C., Aristotle famously said, “Those that know, do. Those that understand, teach.” In 1933, Albert Einstein said, “Teaching should be such that what is offered is perceived as a valuable gift and not as a hard duty.” And in 2018, 53-year-old teacher Deborah Lowe said to her 15-year-old student, “Who else can I be a slut with?”

Who else, indeed? That time is upon us once again. When we look back at the year just past in Sex Scandal Teachers, a tradition truly unlike any other.

As far as I can tell, the first Sex Scandal Teacher Starting Lineup was back in 2009. Like I’ve mentioned before, I thought to myself, “Gee, there’s been a lot of crazy teachers sleeping with their students lately,” and just to put a sports spin on it, organized them into a batting order. I figured it would be a one-off thing. Because surely there couldn’t be an endless supply of these stories, like the sex-crazed educator version of the unlimited, refillable fountain drink. But how wrong I was. A day or two later, a Stoolie emailed me one I’d missed. Then came another. And another. So I made Grading the Newest Sex Scandal Teacher into a regular feature, with a lineup at the end of the year.

And there’s never a shortage of material.

LOUIS CK’S POLITICALLY INCORRECT COMEDY DIDN’T CHANGE. YOU DID:

You might not think this kind of humor is funny, and that’s fine. Moreover, you might think Louis C.K., who initiated sexual situations with unwilling women, is a creepy person who has lost the right to joke about uncomfortable subjects. That’s also fine. But it would be silly to pretend that Louis C.K. has undergone some sort of change or deliberate pivot. He’s just doing his same old shtick.

But many in the media have seized upon the idea that Louis C.K. has suddenly became a right-winger—that his new material is some dramatic departure from his pre-scandal days as a woke comedy icon. “Audio of a New Louis C.K. Set Has Leaked, and It’s Sickening,” warns Slate, striking the tone of a nun listening to Eminem for the first time. The Daily Beast accuses Louis C.K. of “pandering to the alt-right,” which is quite the broad categorization; the tons of people—New Yorkers, presumably—who can be heard laughing in the background of the leaked footage would probably be surprised to learn that they take their cues from Richard Spencer.

I can’t recall very many people on the left complaining that Louis C.K. was pandering to pedophiles when he joked about normalizing child rape so that rapists would be more likely to let their child victims live. On the contrary, GQ placed that joke on its list of the 10 best Louis C.K. skits, hailing him as the most transgressive and celebrated comedian “of his generation.”

Those who suddenly find themselves balking at Louis C.K.’s edgy material should admit that the comedian didn’t really change. They did.

As Richard Fernandez has said, the torpedoes the left fired into the water to get Trump keep circling back on them. To the point where the left have become the far right Moral Majority of the late 1970s. Or as Michael Brendan Dougherty wrote in a piece titled “Hugh Hefner, Gangsta Rap & The Emerging Moral Majority, after Hef entered his “After Dark” mode permanently in September of 2017, on the eve of Harvey Weinstein and Louis C.K.’s fall from grace, and the concurrent dawn of the #MeToo era, “Moral concerns pop up one decade in right-wing clothes, and, in the next, change into another outfit.”

NO. NEXT QUESTION? Should We Be Upset If the IRS Has Been ‘Gutted’? I wish that the malefactors in the IRS Tea Party targeting scandal had been properly punished, but collective punishment is better than nothing.

BREAKING: Fatal Shooting Near Christmas Market in Strasbourg, Suspect on the Run.

UPDATE (From Ed): As always with shooting incidents, early reports can be chaotic and contradictory. However, Andrew Neil of the London Spectator tweets that “This is becoming a scandal. French media reporting gunman escaped this morning from a search carried out at his home in the district of Neudorf south of Strasbourg by gendarmes. Grenades were found on site by the gendarmes.”

The London Telegraph is currently reporting that “at least four people” have been killed, and that the gunman is still at large. “The authorities are treating the attack as a terrorist act. Anti-terrorist prosecutors have opened an investigation.”

LATE UPDATE (From Ed): The Telegraph have since stealth edited their article, and currently state that “A suspected terrorist is on the run after killing at least three people and injuring 11 more in the eastern French city of Strasbourg near its Christmas market.”

(Bumped.)

CAMILLE PAGLIA: ‘HILLARY WANTS TRUMP TO WIN AGAIN.’

Paglia’s always worth reading, but note this contradiction:

Screechy Elizabeth Warren has never had a snowball’s chance in hell to appeal beyond upper-middle-class professionals of her glossy stripe. Kirsten Gillibrand is a wobbly mediocrity. Cory Booker has all the gravitas of a cork. Andrew Cuomo is a yapping puppy with a long, muddy bullyboy tail. Both Bernie Sanders (for whom I voted in the 2016 primaries) and Joe Biden (who would have won the election had Obama not cut him off at the knees) are way too old and creaky.

* * * * * * * *

Does the ‘deep state’ exist? If so, what is it?

The deep state is no myth but a sodden, intertwined mass of bloated, self-replicating bureaucracy that constitutes the real power in Washington and that stubbornly outlasts every administration. As government programs have incrementally multiplied, so has their regulatory apparatus, with its intrusive byzantine minutiae. Recently tagged as a source of anti-Trump conspiracy among embedded Democrats, the deep state is probably equally populated by Republicans and apolitical functionaries of Bartleby the Scrivener blandness. Its spreading sclerotic mass is wasteful, redundant, and ultimately tyrannical.

I have been trying for decades to get my fellow Democrats to realize how unchecked bureaucracy, in government or academe, is inherently authoritarian and illiberal. A persistent characteristic of civilizations in decline throughout history has been their self-strangling by slow, swollen, and stupid bureaucracies. The current atrocity of crippling student debt in the US is a direct product of an unholy alliance between college administrations and federal bureaucrats — a scandal that ballooned over two decades with barely a word of protest from our putative academic leftists, lost in their post-structuralist fantasies. Political correctness was not created by administrators, but it is ever-expanding campus bureaucracies that have constructed and currently enforce the oppressively rule-ridden regime of college life.

In the modern world, so wondrously but perilously interconnected, a principle of periodic reduction of bureaucracy should be built into every social organism. Freedom cannot survive otherwise.

I’m not sure if you support Bernie Sanders, you’re in a strong position to rail against out of control bureaucracies. To paraphrase Orwell, if you want a picture of the future under Bernie or his acolyte Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, imagine a bloated, self-replicating bureaucracy expanding exponentially, forever.

TAXPROF: Another IRS Free Speech Scandal.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Academia Is A Cult:

I “blew out” of the cult — to use its own lingo for leaving — after my senior year to attend a Catholic university 20 miles away. I still read the Apostle Paul, but Jane Austen and James Joyce, too. Then I earned a PhD in English at the University of Minnesota, where I rehearsed Marx’s and Freud’s critiques of religion. Simmering with smug resentment, I was certain that I, an intellectual, was on the right side of history, a sworn opponent of the oppressive ideologies I ascribed to organized religion.

But I had to climb only so far up the ivory tower to recognize patterns of abuse that I thought — in my new, secular life — I had left behind. Because academia, I slowly realized, is also a cult.

Cults are systems of social control. They are insular but often evangelical organizations whose aims (be they money, power, sex or something else) are rooted in submission to a dogma manifested by an authority figure: a charismatic preacher or, say, a tenured professor. The relationship between shepherd and sheep is couched in unwavering commitment to a supposedly noble, transcendent cause. For the Living Word Fellowship, that meant “the Lordship of Jesus Christ”; for academia, “the production of knowledge.” In both cases, though, faith ultimately amounts to mastering the rules of the leaders, whose infallibility — whether by divine right or endowed chair — excuses all else.

Looking back, the evidence was everywhere: I’d seen needless tears in the eyes of classmates, harangued in office hours for having the gall to request a letter of recommendation from an adviser. Others’ lives were put on hold for months or sometimes years by dissertation committee members’ refusal to schedule an exam or respond to an email. I met the wives and girlfriends of senior faculty members, often former and sometimes current advisees, and heard rumors of famed scholars whisked abroad to sister institutions in the wake of grad student affairs gone awry. I’d first come in contact with such unchecked power dynamics as a child, in the context of church. In adulthood, as both a student and an employee of a university, I found myself subject to them once again. . . . The Ronell scandal should alert us to the broader ways in which the 21st-century university is an absolutist institution, a promoter of sycophancy and an enemy of dissent.

Yep.

CONRAD BLACK: About That ‘Blue Wave.’

Those repelled by Trump will not soften until he has retired as president, as with those who hated Franklin D. Roosevelt for spurious ideological or mythic reasons (such as that he gave Eastern Europe to Stalin); or those who disparaged Reagan as “an amiable dunce,” in the words of Clark Clifford, the ageless and elegant Washington fixer and an unsuccessful defense secretary. It would be at least premature, and perhaps wildly optimistic, to compare Trump to FDR and Reagan, the two greatest presidents since Lincoln, but as the voters proceed to the polls in two weeks, they will have to reflect on the indisputable fact of President Trump’s successes. He took a sluggish economy where GDP growth per capita had declined from 4.5 percent under President Reagan to 1 percent under President Obama, under whom federal debt increased by 233 percent in eight years. He has focused attention on the unutterable scandal of the steady influx of millions of illiterate peasants, including many violent criminals, across the southern border, and is the enemy of the permissiveness of “sanctuary” and the prohibition of constitutionally mandated census-takers to ask respondents’ citizenship. Trump has made himself the sole possible agent of enforcement of nuclear nonproliferation by his actions to prevent North Korea and Iran from becoming nuclear military powers, a status that his predecessors effectively conceded to them.

Obama said 2 percent economic growth is the “new normal,” as poverty, food-stamp use, and violence increased. Trump has created a full-employment economy and generated the first increases in purchasing power and job security in this millennium for the lower third of Roosevelt’s “forgotten man at the bottom of the economic pyramid.” I don’t believe that most pollsters have adjusted their techniques to allow for a higher voting turnout from what used to be the white working class, or to allow for the reluctance of many Trump voters to identify themselves.

As I was saying earlier, there’s a big gap between the polls and how it feels like this election ought to go.

SHARYL ATTKISSON: How the Russia Collusion Story Revealed a Scandal to Obstruct President Trump. “Taken together in context, the evidence points to two important findings. First, U.S. government insiders, colluding with numerous foreign citizens and governments, conspired to interfere in the 2016 election. Second, after the election, these figures conspired to undermine, oust, and perhaps even frame Trump and some of his associates.”

NEO-NEOCON: The Kavanaugh hearing has united the GOP for now. But why?

(2) Kavanaugh was seen by all as a sort of Boy Scout. He was nominated in part because there was no hint of scandal around him.

(3) And yet the most vicious attack ever seen against a SCOTUS nominee was launched against this particular candidate. The Roy Moore attacks worked in large part because the moderate wing of the GOP hated him, and he was seen even on the right as a bit loopy. Brett Kavanaugh had none of those characteristics. So although the GOP was expecting Kavanaugh to be attacked during his hearings, they were not expecting a combination of Borking (in the first stage for Kavanaugh) and the Clarence Thomas hearings (in the second, post-Ford stage), with the offensiveness of the accusations in that latter stage exponentially more serious than those leveled against Clarence Thomas by Anita Hill.

Read the whole thing.

A REMARKABLY SCANDAL-FREE ADMINISTRATION: Top Counterintelligence Official Claims Obama State Department ‘Indulged In Sexual Favors’ At Moscow Ritz.

If the official’s claims are true, it would not be the first instance of sexual impropriety on foreign soil by government employees during the Obama administration. Nearly two dozen Secret Service and military personnel were fired or otherwise punished for soliciting prostitutes during a presidential visit to Colombia in 2012.

The Washington Post later reported that despite denials, senior White House aides likely knew about the misconduct. According to evidence uncovered by David Nieland, the DHS investigator on the scandal, a White House volunteer was among those who had registered a prostitute to his room during the trip. Nieland claimed that the inspector general told him to “withhold and alter certain information in the report of investigation because it was potentially embarrassing to the administration.”

Weird how this is only coming out now, and that Politico buried it under the bemused-sounding headline, “Tinder Woes, Suspicious Landlords and Snarky Bosses: Young and Russian in D.C.”

ANDREW MALCOLM: A Journalist Reflects On His Profession’s Anti-Trump Collusion.

Had those elites of both parties paid genuine attention to flyover country’s concerns, frustrations and fears, as silly and stupid as they seem to disconnected Beltway know-it-all’s, they would not be in today’s baffling, powerless position. There would have been no need for a Trump. And by the way, isn’t it strange how a billionaire from a New York high-rise could detect the heartland’s hurt better than those elected from that region?

Trump did not invent many Americans’ visceral dislike of the media. He’s using it, exactly as these 100+ newspapers will use their readers’ visceral dislike of Trump to influence a large audience on this day. It’s all fair game in a free society, even one as bitterly splintered as ours these days.

Many silent Americans see a Washington paper, for example, chronicling in excess of 4,000 Trump exaggerations and lies. Fair enough.

Where was that passion for lie detection during Obama’s endless reign of error when he spewed serial untruths about, among others, Solyndra, Fast and Furious, the IRS scandal, Benghazi’s video roots and how Americans could keep their insurance, doctor and about $2,500 in savings under Obamacare?

Now, some realities: When’s the last time you read a newspaper editorial, online or in print, and thought, “You know, that anonymous writer is right and I’ve been wrong all these years!”

Today’s media “collusion” won’t move the needle one tick, but it will be regarded as a success within the DNC-Media Complex echo chamber because it will suddenly seem so much louder in there. Everyone else will yawn.

Ego drives the media to overplay its hand, every time, for the same reason the scorpion stings the frog.

TAXPROF: The IRS Scandal, Day 1921: Federal Judge Approves $3.5 Million Payout From IRS To >100 Tea Party Groups To Settle Targeting Claims. “A few issues are still being fought over in the courts — including whether former IRS senior executive Lois G. Lerner will be allowed to forever shield her deposition explaining her behavior from public view, and whether the IRS should pay attorney fees — but this week’s decision closes out five years of litigation over the targeting itself.”

And congrats to Paul Caron for continuing to follow this, despite shameful criticism from some of his fellow tax law professors, who tried for years to maintain that there was no scandal here.

MICHAEL BARONE: Still Not Clear Which Party Will Lose The House.

Another way to put it: Republicans got the worst showings of both of their last two nominees, losing even further ground among college-graduate-whites, while failing to duplicate Trump’s gains among non-college-whites.

That pattern was discernible in earlier special elections and makes it easy to see how Democrats could win a House majority. It’s widely attributed to Trump’s combative and provocative style.

There’s something to that, of course, but not everything. The voter shifts from Romney 2012 to Trump 2016 by historic standards were actually small, and the variations of Republican and Democratic percentages in the two-plus decades since 1994 have been historically small, with a steady increase in straight-ticket voting until 2016.

What we’ve also seen in congressional elections since the middle 1990s is a resistance to one-party control. With close presidential elections, only a few voters need defect in the off-year to produce this result and, except for the election just after 9/11, enough voters have done just that.

Former President Bill Clinton faced Republican Houses and Senates for six of his eight years in office. Former President George W. Bush’s Republicans gained seats in 2002, but he faced a Democratic House for two years and a Democratic Senate for three-and-a-half. Former President Barack Obama faced a Republican House for six of eight years and a Republican Senate for two.

You can ascribe the losses of each president’s party as the predictable result of some combination of extremist overreach, legislative fecklessness, personal scandals and suspicion of insiders. But for one reason or another, they keep happening and could again this year, when Republicans could lose their majority in the House and might conceivably, despite their advantage in seats up for re-election, in the Senate too.

But there’s reason to be cautious about predictions. Republicans’ big gains weren’t visible at this point in the 1994 cycle (I wrote the first article predicting they might win a majority, in July of that year), nor were Democrats’ big gains in 2006 or Republicans’ sweep of Senate seats in 2014.

Nor are polls this far out always a reliable guide to November.

Nope. Just pick a candidate you like who needs help and help them.

THE DIRECT LINE FROM OBAMA, HOLDER, RICE, LERNER & CLINTON TO FBI SCANDALS: Each of four huge scandals from the Obama era — Fast & Furious, Benghazi, IRS Targeting and Hillarymail — had distinguishing characteristics, all of which came together in the FBI’s combined Clinton email/Russia Collusion debasement. It’s amazing how clear the present becomes when viewed through the lenses of the recent past.

Here’s a taste:

“Just as Obama, Rice, Powers and Clinton lied about Benghazi, so did Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein (appointed by Trump), former FBI Director James Comey (appointed by Obama), and former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe (promoted by Comey) — when they signed the FISA applications and thereby certified the credibility of the material included in the documents.”

Check it out here.

MASS MEDIA HYSTERIA ENSUES AFTER CNN AIRS ‘SECRET’ TRUMP-MICHAEL COHEN TAPE: “It’s 2018 and Lanny Davis is on CNN discussing a sex scandal potentially imperiling a presidency.”

SIGNALING VIRTUE SIGNALING: I confronted Scott Pruitt in a restaurant. I’d do it again in a second. “We’ve all got to do what we can.”

Some say it wasn’t “civil” of me to approach Pruitt at lunch and that it’s a sign of dark times ahead for our political climate. But these arguments are not genuine: The bogus “civility” argument has arisen because conservatives are losing on the content of the arguments.

The truth is that this administration doesn’t want the media to pay attention to protesters who chanted through Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen’s dinner for her leading role in separating children from their families at the border. This administration wants to distract from the fact that the owner of the Red Hen refused service to Sarah Huckabee Sanders because she’s publicly defended both Trump’s desire to bar transgender people from the military and his despicable “zero tolerance” policy that’s ripped apart immigrant families.

Focusing on where, when, or how a concerned citizen speaks up is what a person does when they don’t have an adequate response to the concerns being voiced.

Kristin Mink is confused. Her freedom of speech doesn’t require that anyone pay her any attention, and if her side were winning on “content,” then she and others wouldn’t be resorting to incivility.

IS ALBERT EINSTEIN NEXT TO MEET THE BIG PC AIRBRUSH? Calling Einstein A Racist Is Perfect For Those Who Can’t Compete With His Accomplishments:

So what does Einstein say in his diaries? “This theory of relativity thing could come in really handy at eliminating inferior races with an atom bomb?” “Let’s enslave uppity Chinese women who want to study quantum mechanics?”

No. Of the Japanese, he says, “Intellectual needs of this nation seem to be weaker than their artistic ones — natural disposition?” Of the Chinese, he considered some that he saw to be “industrious, filthy, obtuse people” and said “it would be a pity if these Chinese supplant all other races. For the likes of us, the mere thought is unspeakably dreary.”

To recap, unlike Columbus, Washington, or Jefferson, who inflicted real pain upon many people through real actions, in 1922, Einstein had some private thoughts that are roughly as offensive as the 15 RealPatriotsAgainstMexico.blogtown.net articles your aunt shared on Facebook last week. Einstein then wrote those unsavory thoughts in a private journal, never spoke them aloud publicly, and never lived a life in accordance with them. The horror…Why is this news for the Knights of Akshully? The answer is fairly simple. Their goal is not to eliminate injustice. If it were, they’d spend their time fighting against the slavery, oppression, and racism that still run rampant in the world instead of attacking historical figures who were increasingly less guilty of perpetuating slavery, oppression, and racism.

Likewise, it’s hard to believe they’re seeking a genuine debate about how much a man’s moral failings ought to affect his legacy, since the answer is always the same: “Terminate with extreme prejudice the one with extreme (or modest) prejudice.” Rather, it seems the Knights of Akshully’s goal is to devise an ethical system that gives them bragging rights over the far more accomplished figures of history.

Read the whole thing. As Paul Johnson wrote in Modern Times:

At the beginning of the 1920s the belief began to circulate, for the first time at a popular level, that there were no longer any absolutes: of time and space, of good and evil, of knowledge, above all of value. Mistakenly but perhaps inevitably, relativity became confused with relativism.

No one was more distressed than Einstein by this public misapprehension. He was bewildered by the relentless publicity and error which his work seemed to promote. He wrote to his colleague Max Born on 9 September 1920: ‘Like the man in the fairy-tale who turned everything he touched into gold, so with me everything turns into a fuss in the newspapers.’ Einstein was not a practicing Jew, but he acknowledged a God. He believed passionately in absolute standards of right and wrong.

He lived to see moral relativism, to him a disease, become a social pandemic, just as he lived to see his fatal equation bring into existence nuclear warfare. There were times, he said at the end of his life, when he wished he had been a simple watchmaker.

The public response to relativity was one of the principal formative influences on the course of twentieth-century history. It formed a knife, inadvertently wielded by its author, to help cut society adrift from its traditional moorings in the faith and morals of Judeo-Christian culture.

A century later, is the age of moral relativity about to devour the legacy of the man who invented the real theory of relativity? The PC police will likely give it their best shot, if only because, as Kevin Williamson wrote last week, in an article ominously titled, “Watch What You Say. Someone Else Is.

The generation that reached what passes for maturity in the age of social media is the most status-obsessed—and hence etiquette-obsessed—since the ancien régime. They are all miniaturists: There hasn’t been an important and original book of political ideas written by an American Millennial, and very few of them have read one, either. But they are very interested in individual pronouns and 280-character tweets. It is extraordinarily difficult for any one of them to raise his own status through doing interesting and imaginative intellectual work, because there is practically no audience for such work among his peers. Worse, the generation ahead of him stopped paying attention to Millennials years ago, and the generation behind him never started.

What that leaves is the takfiri tendency, scalp-hunting or engineering a court scandal at Versailles. Concurrent with that belief is the superstition that people such as Harvey Weinstein or Bret Stephens take up cultural space that might otherwise be filled by some more worthy person if only the infidel were removed, as though society were an inverted game of Tetris, with each little disintegration helping to enable everybody else to move up one slot at a time. Status obsession does funny things to one’s map of social reality. It leads to all manner of bizarre thinking.

Not least of which is the continuous search for the next great man to airbrush from history for the tiniest flaws in his thinking, if only out of jealousy.

REMEMBERING THE OBAMA ERA: Victor Davis Hanson: The Silencing Of The Inspectors General.

McCabe and at least a half-dozen other FBI employees quit, retired, were fired or were reassigned as a result of fallout from the politicization of the FBI. Yet, as Barack Obama left office, his chief of staff, Denis McDonough, strangely boasted that the Obama administration “has been historically free of scandal.” Obama himself recently concluded of his eight-year tenure, “I didn’t have scandals.”

Those were puzzling assertions, given nearly nonstop scandals during Obama’s eight years in office involving the IRS; General Services Administration; Peace Corps; Secret Service; Veterans Administration; and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, not to mention the Clinton email server scandal, the Benghazi scandal and the 2016 Democratic National Committee email scandal.

For nearly eight years, the Obama administration sought to cover up serial wrongdoing by waging a veritable war against the watchdog inspectors general of various federal agencies.

In 2014, 47 of the nation’s 73 inspectors general signed a letter alleging that Obama had stonewalled their “ability to conduct our work thoroughly, independently, and in a timely manner.”

The frustrated nonpartisan auditors cited systematic Obama administration refusals to turn over incriminating documents that were central to their investigations. . . .

In 2014, an internal audit revealed that CIA officials had hacked the Senate Intelligence Committee’s computers while compiling a report on enhanced interrogation techniques. CIA Director John Brennan had claimed that his agents were not improperly monitoring Senate staff computer files. He was forced to retract his denials and apologize for his prevarication.

In 2016, the State Department’s inspector general found that Hillary Clinton had never sought approval for her reckless and illegal use of an unsecured private email server. The IG also found that staffers who were worried about national security being compromised by the unsecured server were silenced by other Clinton aides.

Still, Obama was right in a way: A scandal does not become a scandal if no one acts on findings of improper behavior.

It was wall-to-wall corruption, but the press didn’t care because Obama was a sharp-creased Democrat.

OBAMA EATS DOG, DOG EATS OBAMA’S HOMEWORK: Nat. Archives Stumble onto New Obama Scandal — ‘Wholesale Destruction’ of Gov’t Records.

“A first-rate librarian, (David) Ferriero has been driving a much-needed digital overhaul and expansion of the National Archives over the nine years of his appointment,” writer Thomas Lipscomb reported for RealClearPolitics. “This will greatly improve the ability of digital search locally and remotely, as well as accessing the files themselves.”

However, that only works if you have the files you need in the first place. And Lipscomb, well, doesn’t.

The former president, it must be noted, signed a law that put electronic communications under the 1950 Federal Records Act. However, it doesn’t seem that his practice is quite what he preaches.

Lipscomb wrote that “the accumulation of recent congressional testimony has made it clear that the Obama administration itself engaged in the wholesale destruction and ‘loss’ of tens of thousands of government records covered under the act as well as the intentional evasion of the government records recording system by engaging in private email exchanges.”

I probably don’t need to ask why this isn’t a bigger story.

ANDREW MCCARTHY: The Obama Administration’s Hypocritical Pretext for Spying on the Trump Campaign.

It has been credibly reported that Halper, a longtime source for the CIA and British intelligence, was tasked by the FBI in the Trump-Russia investigation to make contact with and get information from at least three Trump campaign officials. He even sought a role in the campaign from co-chairman Sam Clovis. Page, on the other hand, was the target of four FISA court surveillance warrants, which enabled the Justice Department and FBI to monitor him for a year, starting at the height of the 2016 campaign.

To obtain such a warrant under FISA (the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978), the FBI and Justice Department must convince a judge that there is probable cause to believe the target is an agent of a foreign power — in Page’s case, of Russia. As we’ve previously outlined, because Page is an American citizen, the Obama administration had to have told the court that he was either: (a) “knowingly engage[d] in clandestine intelligence gathering activities for or on behalf of [Russia], which activities involve[d] or may [have] involve[d]” federal crimes; or (b) “knowingly engaged in any other clandestine intelligence activities for or on behalf of [Russia], that were undertaken “pursuant to the direction of an intelligence service or network of [Russia],” and that “involve[d] or [were] about to involve” federal crimes.

Assuming the Obama administration told the FISA court that Page was a clandestine agent of Russia, I’d make two observations: First, the only publicly known allegations that Page was engaged in such clandestine activities come from the Steele dossier, and appear to be unverified.

Second, Page has never been charged with a crime, which would be odd if the FBI had been able to verify its FISA application claims — posited four times over a year of surveillance — that he was engaged in activities that appeared to be federal crimes.

That is odd, especially for a “remarkably scandal-free Administration.”

THE OTHER ERIC SCHNEIDERMAN SCANDAL:

When Eric Schneiderman resigned as New York’s attorney general on May 7 amid revelations he engaged in a pattern of alleged physical abuse of women he dated over the years, one of the Democrat’s first defenders was his ex-wife, a New York-based lobbyist named Jennifer Cunningham.

Schneiderman is “someone of the highest character,” said Cunningham, who asserted it was “impossible to believe” the allegations in a New Yorker report that Schneiderman abused multiple girlfriends over a period of several years.

Cunningham’s defense of her ex-husband drew some attention because of her position as a partner at SKDKnickerbocker, a Democrat-aligned public relations and lobbying firm that touts its feminist bona fides. Two of its most high-profile partners are Clinton White House aide Hilary Rosen and Obama White House aide Anita Dunn.

Though they divorced in 1996, Cunningham remained one of Schneiderman’s closest political advisers — so close that Cunningham worked as an unpaid adviser for Schneiderman before his fall from grace.

That pro bono relationship has been met with skepticism from some New York political observers and government watchdog groups — largely because of Cunningham’s position as a top partner at SKDKnickerbocker.

Indeed.

GOOD LUCK WITH THAT, CHAMP: Obama ethics chief accuses Trump of violating emoluments clause: ‘See you in court Mr. Trump.’

Leaving aside the standing issue, there’s a strong argument that the emoluments clause doesn’t cover the President, and also no reason to think that business income is an “emolument” anyway.

None of which is to say that the Indonesia deal isn’t sleazy — it might be, or it might not be, but it’s not an emoluments clause violation, and that fact that Trump critics are focusing on the emoluments issue suggests to me that there’s not much else there. According to the NYT story, the scandal is that a Chinese concern is building a theme park next door to a “Trump-branded hotel” that isn’t actually owned by Trump:

The Trump Organization’s partner in a lavish Indonesian development project boasting a six-star hotel and golf course with President Trump’s name has brought on a new ally: a Chinese state-owned company.

The Indonesian partner, the MNC Group, said Tuesday that it had struck a deal with an arm of Metallurgical Corporation of China, a state-owned construction company, to build a theme park next door to the planned Trump properties. . . .

The Chinese state-owned construction company, in an announcement of the deal, did not provide any details on the agreement. The announcement, which was initially published on its website, was later taken down. A representative for M.C.C. declined to comment.

Both the theme park and the Trump-branded hotel and 18-hole golf course are being developed by the billionaire Hary Tanoesoedibjo, head of the MNC Group, and packaged together as part of a splashy $500 million complex called Lido City that it has marketed as an “integrated lifestyle resort and theme park.”

Hatunggal Muda Siregar, a spokesman for MNC, said the theme park and the Trump properties are separate projects within the Lido development. The agreement with the Chinese company to build the theme park does not include any financing for the project, he said. . . .

There isn’t any evidence that the agreement with the construction company was intended to sway the Trump administration on any matters. Still, Mr. Trump has threatened China with tariffs on $150 billion in Chinese-made goods if it doesn’t back away from plans to use state support to finance a new generation of high-tech industries.

“There isn’t any evidence. . . . Still. . . ”

Seems like there’s a lot less there than the headlines suggest.

TAXPROF: The IRS Scandal, Day 1826: The Five Year Anniversary. And much praise to Prof. (now Dean!) Caron for his indefatigable coverage of this scandal, despite — shameful — pressure from many of his fellow tax professors to let it drop.

FIRST IN FLIGHT FROM FISCAL SANITY: North Carolina Medicaid Scandal Broadens on Dem. Gov. Cooper’s Watch.

The political backstory to this tale begins with Cooper surprising the pollsters and his opponent — incumbent Republican Gov. Pat McCrory — in November 2016 by winning a narrow victory. Through deft sleight-of-hand, and taking advantage of a quirk in state law, Cooper arranged an early swearing-in for himself just minutes after midnight on January 1, 2017. That legerdemain allowed Cooper just 12 days laterto appoint Cohen, at the time Obama’s Chief Operating Officer of Medicaid, to head the North Carolina DHHS before Barack Obama left office.

Thus was set the stage for the Cooper Administration to bring to a screeching halt what had been one of his predecessor’s top priorities — rolling back years of reckless spending by North Carolina Democrats. One of McCrory’s main targets had been Medicaid spending in the state; which had come to swallow nearly $15 billion of North Carolina’s $23 billion annual budget.

The runaway Medicaid spending had placed North Carolina in a financial bind, with little cash for anything else. Thus, in 2015 McCrory and the Republican state legislature passed a law that would limit Medicaid spending, remove management of the program from the state Health Secretary and contract it out to private companies, and prohibit further expansion of the program; all steps permitted under federal law.

As soon as Cooper had himself sworn in early, he immediately submitted a request to the Obama Administration to illegally expand Medicaid and maintain government control of the program.

Read the whole thing.

#METOO FEMINISTS MAY NOT REALIZE IT, BUT THEIR OTHER TARGET IS SEX AND DRUGS AND ROCK ‘N’ ROLL:

Last fall, as the first #MeToo scandals scrolled across the cable news chyron, I happened to be reading “Sticky Fingers,” Joe Horgan’s [sic – Ed] biography of Rolling Stone founder Jann Wenner. As Horgan describes the magazine’s early years in the 1960s, just about everyone on the staff was having sex with everyone else.

Did the women of Rolling Stone consent to the goings-on at what today would be regarded as an illegal den of harassment? It seems they did. In the ladies’ room, they scribbled graffiti ranking male staffers for their sexual performance — not, as girls do on college campuses today, the names of rapists in their midst. Jane Wenner, Jann’s wife, was known to judge job seekers by “whether a candidate was attracted to her” and, in some cases, to test the depth of their ardor personally. Photographer Annie Leibovitz, who made her name at Rolling Stone, routinely slept with her subjects.

Different as those days seem, there’s a direct line between then and now. Today’s clear-cut protest against workplace harassment is mutating into a far-reaching counterrevolution against the combustible contradictions set in motion 50-odd years ago. But as in the 1960s, this sexual rebellion is utopian and deeply naïve about the tangled knot of human motivation. Don’t expect the young women who are building the #MeToo barricades to succeed.

It’s fair to say ’60s-style liberation endorsed the value of female sexual desire, autonomy and consent. This was a genuine moral achievement, and we can be thankful it is a settled part of modern life. But the sexual revolution also helped midwife the soaring number of single-parent families and the related ills of inequality, poverty, achievement gaps, and men MIA from family life. And all these many years later, younger feminists are exposing new flaws in the sexual deregulation bequeathed to them by their elders.

First and foremost is the revolution’s blindness to la difference.

Read the whole thing; I wonder how Kay Hymowitz’s column in the L.A. Times is playing amongst its core readers, given the chief industries of that company town.

Flashback to some related links in a post I wrote back in October, at the height of Weinstein-mania:

THE SEXUAL PREDATORS EVERYONE STILL WORSHIPS:” “What do we do about predators we actually think are cool?…What is the point at which it becomes necessary for us to channel our inner Savonarolas and just start burning? Is one confirmed incident enough? How many Station to Stations or Physical Graffitis are worth the assault of a single woman or child? Are we affirming or materially contributing to their crimes when we watch films or listen to music made by abusers?”

Earlier: Hugh Hefner, Gangsta Rap & the Emerging Moral Majority: “Slowly, however, the elite of our culture seem to be drifting toward a new, far-more jaundiced and suspicious view of popular culture from the 1960s to the 1990s.”

And for my own thoughts on Joe Hagan’s biography of Wenner, click here: Sticky Fingers: A New Biography Explores the Seedier Side of Jann Wenner.

I HAD MISSED THIS: Dr. John Plunkett, RIP. He told the truth about bad forensics — and was prosecuted for it.

Like a lot of other doctors, child welfare advocates and forensic specialists, John Plunkett at first bought into the theory of Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS). This is the theory that an autopsy on a young, recently deceased child reveals three symptoms — bleeding in the back of the eyes, brain swelling, and bleeding in the subdural space just above the brain — those injuries could only have been caused by violent shaking. The diagnosis gained popularity in the 1990s, then became more common still after the high-profile trial and conviction of British nanny Louise Woodward in 1997.

It’s a convenient diagnosis for prosecutors, in that it provides a cause of death (violent shaking), a culprit (whoever was last with the child before death) and even intent (prosecutors often argue that the violent, extended shaking establishes mens rea.) According to a 2015 survey by The Washington Post and the Medill Justice Project, there were about 1,800 SBS prosecutions between 2001 and 2015, with 1,600 resulting in convictions.

But in the late 1990s, Plunkett — a forensic pathologist in Minnesota — began to have doubts about the diagnosis. He started investigating cases in which children had died in a manner similar to the way accused caregivers had described the deaths of the children they were watching — by short-distance falls. What he found alarmed him. In 2001, Plunkett published a study detailing how he had found symptoms similar to those in the SBS diagnosis in children who had fallen off playground equipment. It was a landmark study. If a short-distance fall could produce symptoms similar to those in SBS cases, the SBS diagnosis that said symptoms could only come from shaking was wrong. By that point, hundreds of people had been convicted based on SBS testimony from medical experts. Some of them were undoubtedly guilty. But if Plunkett was right, some of them almost certainly weren’t.

Naturally, defense attorneys began asking Plunkett to testify. He obliged. The same year his study was published, Plunkett testified in the trial of Lisa Stickney, a licensed day care worker in Oregon. She had been charged with murder for the death of a young boy in her care. According to Stickney, she was in another room when she heard a thud. She rushed over and found the boy on the floor near an overturned chair, with blood coming from his head. But according to prosecutors, an autopsy showed the boy had the symptoms that conventional wisdom held could only have come from violent shaking. Thanks in large part to Plunkett’s testimony, Stickney was acquitted.

The acquittal was another landmark moment in the SBS story. Plunkett was now a threat to SBS cases all over the country. The office of Deschutes County, Ore., District Attorney Michael Dugan responded with something unprecedented — it criminally charged an expert witness over testimony he had given in court. One of the state’s experts also filed an ethics complaint against Stickney’s other expert witness. The actual charges were filed by ssociate District Attorney Cliff Lu — four counts of “false swearing,” a misdemeanor charge related to perjury. Dugan’s office also contacted other prosecutors across the country to tell them that Plunkett was under criminal investigation. It was a pretty obvious effort to silence him — to prevent him from testifying in other cases. No defense attorney was about to call a witness if they jury would also learn that he was facing criminal charges over testimony he had given in court. . . .

Plunkett has bascially been vindicated in the years since his trial. What about the people who went after him? According to his LinkedIn profile, Eric Wassman is now a circuit court judge pro tem. As of February, Cliff Lu was still an assistant district attorney in Deschutes County. Former DA Michael Dugan was soundly defeated in 2010 after 23 years in office, and amid allegations of sexual discrimination and possible wrongful convictions. Dugan appears to have since joined the Malheur County, Ore., DA’s office as an assistant district attorney, where in 2014 he was pursuing a racketeering case against two men for selling medical marijuana. In 2015, Deschutes County endured another forensics scandal — county officials revealed that as many as 1,500 drug cases may have been tainted by a corrupt crime lab analyst.

Yet another reason to abolish prosecutorial immunity. And another reason why my Ham Sandwich Nation piece is still timely.

WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST CLUE? White Working-Class Voters May Not Care About Trump Scandals.

IF THE PULITZER WAS WORTH ANYTHING, LUKE ROSIAK WOULD HAVE ONE: I’ve been saying for more than a year that if the Daily Caller News Foundation’s Luke Rosiak doesn’t get a Pulitzer for his exposure of the Imran Awan scandal in Congress, there’s no justice in this world.

Imran Awan was Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz’ IT aide who, along with half a dozen family members and friends, did IT work for dozens of prominent House Democrats, including members of the House intelligence and foreign affairs committees. They had access to members’ email, documents and contacts.

Among much else, Imran Awan was caught downloading data from the House IT network to a private server. His latest documents Imran Awan’s family links to the Pakistani intelligence service, which is notorious for playing all sides (and for playing the U.S. for rich fools for many years).

Considering the depth of irrelevance to which the Pulitzer has lately sunk and the growth of Right journalism, it’s time for somebody to endow a new award to recognize investigative reporting excellence by folks like Rosiak.

IT WOULD HAVE TO BE ON APRIL 15TH, OF COURSE: Congratulations to TaxProf on his 14th Bloggiversary. And a special thanks to Prof. (now Dean) Caron for keeping the coverage of the IRS Scandal going despite the — shameful — pressure from some of his fellow tax law professors to drop it.

THEY TOLD ME IF TRUMP WERE ELECTED, JACKBOOTED FEDS WOULD BE INVESTIGATING THE EDITORIAL POLICIES OF NATIONAL NEWSPAPERS. And they were right! “In one instance, The Enquirer bought but did not publish a story about an alleged extramarital relationship years earlier with the presidential candidate, an unusual decision for a scandal sheet. The federal inquiry could pose serious legal implications for the president and his campaign committee. It also presents thorny questions about A.M.I.’s First Amendment protections, and whether its record in supporting Mr. Trump somehow opens the door to scrutiny usually reserved for political organizations.”

Everyone knows that “editorial decisions” aren’t protected under the First Amendment if they might help Trump. And there’s absolutely no such thing as a Deep State.

UPDATE: Tom Maguire has thoughts.

“Thorny questions”. My goodness, the Times was bailed out in 2009 by Carlos Slim, a wealthy Mexican. Does this raise “thorny questions” about their commitment to undocumented immigrants? Of course not, because they say it doesn’t.

Now obviously, Mr. Slim knew the Times was reliably progressive when he bought them, so he didn’t need them to change their views on anything. But the National Enquirer has been making money off of Clinton scandals for decades. Maybe the AMI people simply decided that, in mirror image to the Times Upper West Side readership, their readers wanted material that bashed Hillary and praised Trump. They do tell the Times it was a business decision driven by the popularity of Trump with their readership. Plausible? Sure. Legal? Say what now?

If all AMI did was pick a side in pursuit of an audience, my goodness. That is well worth investigating because we all know that the mainstream media would never trade sympathetic coverage for access that can boost prestige, circulation and ratings. Please.

As to aggressive coverage of sex scandals by the mainstream media, well, that may be ideologically contingent – back in 2007-08, John Edwards and Rielle Hunter were a tabloid-based open secret (gullible Media Matters link) for months before the “responsible” media decided to jump in. Why they might today rush to bash Trump based on mere allegations is hard to understand. No it’s not. Is the National Enquirer being investigated for spiking a story which the Times would never lower itself to touch? Too thorny!

Ouch. Plus: “Is paying for stories a ‘legitimate press function’? That is how the National Enquirer broke the case of the murderer of Bill Cosby’s son. They also paid Rush Limbaugh’s housekeeper for the scoop that got Rush busted for his oxycontin habit – I bet that looked legit to Common Cause. To paraphrase slightly, the dark night of fascism is always descending on the right yet arriving from the left.”

LIKE PUTTING A BAND-AID ON A TUMOR: Facebook restricts APIs, axes old Instagram platform amidst scandals.

That’s why it’s moving up the shut down of part of the Instagram API. It’s significantly limiting data available from or requiring approval for access to Facebook’s Events, Groups, and Pages APIs plus Facebook Login. Facebook is also shutting down search by email or user name and changing its account recovery system after discovering malicious actors were using these to scrape people’s data. “Given the scale and sophistication of the activity we’ve seen, we believe most people on Facebook could have had their public profile scraped in this way” Schroepfer writes.

Instagram will immediately shut down part of its old platform API that was scheduled for deprecation on July 31st. TechCrunch first reported that developers’ Instagram apps were breaking over the weekend due to a sudden reduction in the API call limit. Instagram refused to comment, leading to developer frustration as their apps that analyze people’s followers and help them grow their audiences stopped working.

With all this confusion and broken features, this might be a good time to drop Instagram and cut back on your Facebook usage.

LIZ PEEK: The infuriating invisibility of Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg.

Where is Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg? The alleged “adult in the room” has been nearly missing in action since the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke on March 17.

To date she has offered up only one measly post, which echoed CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s explanation of what went wrong, and one interview on CNBC.

For a woman known as a great communicator, not to mention the company’s critical No. 2 in command, credited with building the very advertising model that has got Facebook in hot water, Sandberg’s reticence is not only mystifying but also inexcusable.

It was former Google CEO Eric Schmidt who dismissed privacy concerns with a blithe, “If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.”

Back in 2009, Schmidt’s statement was creepy and offensive. But now that the big networking firms are the ones being exposed, it’s full of schadenfreudeliciousness.

TAXPROF: The IRS Scandal, Day 1788: Lois Lerner’s Last Laugh.

MY COLLEAGUE MAURICE STUCKE, IN THE HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW: Here Are All the Reasons It’s a Bad Idea to Let a Few Tech Companies Monopolize Our Data.

“It’s no good fighting an election campaign on the facts,” Cambridge Analytica’s managing director told an undercover reporter, “because actually it’s all about emotion.” To target U.S. voters and appeal to their hopes, neuroses, and fears, the political consulting firm needed to train its algorithm to predict and map personality traits. That required lots of personal data. So, to build these psychographic profiles, Cambridge Analytica enlisted a Cambridge University professor, whose app collected data on about 50 million Facebook users and their friends. Facebook, at that time, allowed app developers to collect this personal data. Facebook argued that Cambridge Analytica and the professor violated its data polices. But this was not the first time its policies were violated. Nor is it likely to be the last.

This scandal came on the heels of Russia’s using Facebook, Google, and Twitter “to sow discord in the U.S. political system, including the 2016 U.S. presidential election.” It heightened concerns over today’s tech giants and the influence they have.

That influence comes in part from data. Facebook, Google, Amazon, and similar companies are “data-opolies.” By that I mean companies that control a key platform which, like a coral reef, attracts to its ecosystem users, sellers, advertisers, software developers, apps, and accessory makers. Apple and Google, for example, each control a popular mobile phone operating system platform (and key apps on that platform), Amazon controls the largest online merchant platform, and Facebook controls the largest social network platform. Through their leading platforms, a significant volume and variety of personal data flows. The velocity in acquiring and exploiting this personal data can help these companies obtain significant market power.

Is it OK for a few firms to possess so much data and thereby wield so much power? In the U.S., at least, antitrust officials so far seem ambivalent about these data-opolies. They’re free, the thinking goes, so what’s the harm? But that reasoning is misguided. Data-opolies pose tremendous risks, for consumers, workers, competition, and the overall health of our democracy. Here’s why.

Read the whole thing.

CATHY YOUNG: Monica Lewinsky Is No #MeToo Heroine.

The #MeToo revolution against sexual abuse has a new unlikely heroine: Monica Lewinsky. The former White House intern, now a 44-year-old activist, has a new essay in Vanity Fair reexamining her past in light of the post-Harvey Weinstein reckoning.

The piece has been widely praised as a smart, necessary contribution to our national conversation about sex, power and consent. It is indeed a fascinating essay. But its main takeaway should be to raise more questions about whether #MeToo in its current version represents progress.

Until now, Lewinsky has always insisted that her relationship with President Bill Clinton was fully consensual and mutual, despite the vast gap in their position and age — and despite efforts by Clinton foes to portray his actions toward her as predatory.

“To Lewinsky’s credit, she never portrayed herself as any kind of victim of Clinton’s advances,” Jeffrey Toobin wrote in his 2000 book, “A Vast Conspiracy: The Real Story of the Sex Scandal That Nearly Brought Down a President.”

In her first confessional piece for Vanity Fair in 2014, Lewinsky stuck to that position. She asserted that she felt abused in the aftermath of the affair, when special prosecutor Kenneth Starr strong-armed her into testifying while Clinton minions tried to smear her to protect the President. But the affair itself? “Sure, my boss took advantage of me, but I will always remain firm on this point: It was a consensual relationship.”

Well, “always” didn’t last long — only another four years. . . . Lewinsky also asserts that her earlier denials of victimhood were a self-deluded way of dealing with trauma and reclaiming her dignity.

So it was consensual until she changed her mind. I swear, someone’s going to write a book calling for a return to patriarchy, using nothing but the words of #MeToo advocates as evidence that women can’t make good decisions on their own.

ANDREW KLAVAN: The Left Is Reaping the Whirlwind of the Culture They Made.

I am a First Amendment purist and don’t want to see expression censored in any way. And I don’t argue that there’s a straight line between any specific cultural creation and bad acts. But surely, a culture in which those in authority approve of and argue for things like gangsta rap and GTA — and indeed for the use of violence to silence speech that offends them — well, such a culture becomes a machine for transforming madness into murder.

It reminds me of some wisdom from another two sheriffs, the fictional sheriffs from the Coen Brothers movie of Cormac McCarthy’s novel No Country for Old Men discussing the mindless violence that has taken over society.

“Once you stop hearing ‘sir’ and ‘ma’am’ the rest is soon to follow,” says one.
“It’s the tide, the dismal tide,” says the other. “It’s not the one thing.”

The left wants to defend gangstas and “transgressive” art and antifa thugs — but when the shooting starts, they blame the guns.

The left wants to get rid of feminine modesty and masculine protectiveness and social restrictions on sex — but when the abuse and rape and harassment rise to the surface, they start whining about toxic manhood. Perhaps they should have listened to the Catholic apologist G.K. Chesterton, who wrote about the difference between reforming society and deforming it — a passage that was neatly paraphrased by John F. Kennedy: “Don’t ever take a fence down until you know the reason it was put up.”

At a more amusing level, they can’t figure out why they can’t get traction against Trump with scandals that would have worked three decades ago. Whatever could have happened in the interim?

FIRST OXFAM. NOW THIS: Doctors Without Borders fires 19 over sexual misconduct.

ELI LAKE: We Should Care About What Happened to Carter Page: The former Trump aide’s reputation has been ruined — not by a conviction, not by any charges, but by a warrant that was supposed to be secret.

The current debate over Page is whether the FBI overreached by seeking a warrant to spy on him from the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court at the end of 2016. Republicans claim the FBI improperly relied on the opposition research dossier. Democrats say the Republican memo omits information that would discredit the GOP’s case.

But that misses a broader and more important point. It’s a scandal that the public has known for more than a year that the FBI suspected Page of being a foreign agent in the first place. He has yet to be charged with a crime, but his reputation is in tatters because an element of the bureau’s investigation into Russia’s influence over the 2016 election has been publicly reported.

This started when Yahoo’s Michael Isikoff broke the first big story on Page’s meetings in Moscow with Putin aides in September 2016, allegedly to discuss the lifting of U.S. sanctions on Russia. Isikoff was tipped off by Steele, who was commissioned through an opposition research firm, Fusion GPS, to dig up dirt on Trump’s ties to Russia on behalf of the Clinton campaign. In a podcast this week, Isikoff confirmed that Steele told him he had “taken this information to the FBI and the bureau is very interested.”

Last April, the Washington Post reported, based on information from “law enforcement and other U.S. officials,” that the FBI had obtained a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, warrant on Page in the summer of 2016. As the Post reported at the time, the existence of the warrant was “the clearest evidence so far that the FBI had reason to believe during the 2016 presidential campaign that a Trump campaign adviser was in touch with Russian agents.”

That was an important piece of news that any journalist would publish. But the officials who leaked and confirmed it violated the public’s trust in two important ways.

This didn’t just happen. It was a partisan hit job.

TAXPROF: The IRS Scandal, Day 1735: The End Of IRS Targeting? “During the Obama administration, the tax agency targeted conservative organizations for exceptional scrutiny and even harassment. Last year the IRS settled lawsuits brought by organizations that had been mistreated simply because they advocated for limited Constitutional government. The government shelled out millions of dollars to settle one suit involving 428 organizations, according to an October report in the New York Times. In a separate case brought by different organizations, an apology for the IRS’s egregious conduct was enough to resolve the litigation. . . . While Mr. Obama did force the resignation of the acting IRS commissioner in the wake of the scandal in 2013, he made no serious effort to reform the agency and proclaimed that the targeting had involved “not even a smidgen of corruption” long before his government had finished investigating. Mr. Obama also placed John Koskinen atop the agency. Mr. Koskinen’s failures to comply with subpoenas and to report accurately to the Congress inspired an effort to impeach him in 2015.”

THESE 5 FBI SCANDAL PLAYERS MAY NEVER GET OUT OF THE FISA WOODS: When former FBI Director James Comey and four Department of Justice/FBI colleagues signed off on FISA surveillance warrant applications based on the infamous Steele dossier, they may have violated a procedural rule for the secret judicial panel known as the Woods Rule. Here’s my H/T to former CBS News investigative reporter Sharyl Attkinsson, who appears to be the first journalist to point this out.

Texas Republican Rep. Louis Gohmert has an solution for clearing up all the major questions surrounding the FISA applications – release the transcripts of each application’s handling in the court. With those in hand, Gohmert told LifeZette, “we can determine, among other things, if there was a fraud perpetrated upon the court, whether the court failed to properly elicit sufficient information to justify the secret surveillance of an American citizen, and why the FISA court appears to have taken no action against any attorney if such attorney misled the court.”

 

I’M EXPECTING AN EARTH-SHATTERING KABOOM: Landmines left behind by the Obama administration and the Clinton campaign might soon start detonating—on Democrats.

Obama concealed his sharp-edged, Chicago-style machine politics under the rhetorical cover of progressivism. He was protected by a press corps that first enlisted in his administration and then fought to stop Donald Trump. But now that Obama is out of office, his ability to intimidate is much diminished. This past week, a 2005 picture of a beaming Obama next to a bright-eyed Louis Farrakhan surfaced, after having been held back for more than a decade at the behest of a member of the Congressional Black Caucus. Senator Robert Menendez of New Jersey, who had been tried for corruption by Obama’s Justice Department after he refused to toe the party line about the “peace-loving” mullahs of Iran, has now seen the charges against him dropped. Z Street, a hawkish nonprofit supporter of Benjamin Netanyahu’s government in Israel, had been tied up with IRS matters since 2009; it has just been released from its legal chains. Democrats are holding to the line that the prophet of hope and change ran a pure administration, virtually free of scandal. But the memo is probably just the beginning; we’re likely to see many more revelations come out.

Obama isn’t directly mentioned in the memo. But he’s nonetheless implicated through his appointees’ apparent efforts to clear Hillary Clinton in her State Department email scandal while undermining her opponent, Trump, through the veneer of legality provided by FISA (the Foreign Intelligence Security Act) warrants, justified solely by the so-called Steele Dossier. The dossier was paid for by Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee; it was created by former MI6 agent Christopher Steele, who despised Trump, and the “research” firm Fusion GPS. The FISA Court, supervised by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts, was never told about the unverified dossier’s origins.

I had been assured by the highest authorities that the Obama Administration was amazingly scandal-free.

JUST THINK OF THE MEDIA AS DEMOCRATIC OPERATIVES WITH BYLINES, AND IT ALL MAKES SENSE: Journalism is Dead.

Journalists weren’t interested in that, or anything else associated with the memo. They, like McMullin, couldn’t care less about government abusing its power as long as it does it against people they don’t like. We saw this play out with the IRS scandal during the Obama administration – the media ignored it as long as they could, talked about it for a quick minute, then returned to repeating the lie that Obama’s tenure was “scandal-free.”

Were Trump not President, were the Oval Office occupied by any of the other candidates who ran in 2016, the story would be nearly the same. There might not be the personal ferocity or sense of urgency, but the simmering contempt would still be there and it would still dominate the actions of these people.

They don’t care. Journalism is dead. It didn’t die of natural causes, it was murdered by its practitioners in the name of attacking Republicans, in particular Donald Trump.

Huh — seems like it was just last month that half the MSM were telling us all to go see Steven Spielberg’s new movie, The Post.

HEH: The fix was in. The 2016 election was rigged — and Donald Trump won anyway.

We all know — thanks to former Democratic National Committee Chair Donna Brazile — that Hillary rigged the Democrat presidential primary against Bernie Sanders. That was a precursor of what was to come.

Does it shock anyone that someone brazen enough to rig a presidential primary would also try to rig the general election?

Don’t look now, but Donald J. Trump may be the first person in world history to win an election rigged against him. Hillary — with the backing of Barack Obama and the leadership of the FBI and Department of Justice — fixed the general election so Trump couldn’t win. And Trump — this relentless bull in a china shop — won anyway.

No wonder Hillary was so confident in the days leading up to Election Day. No wonder she was so shocked and distraught on election night. Keep in mind the point of fixing the election. It wasn’t just about Hillary winning. It was about covering up her crimes.

It’s all coming down upon this cabal of criminals like a ton of boulders. Hillary, Obama, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, John Podesta, Ben Rhodes, Susan Rice, Huma Abedin and leaders of the FBI and DOJ — they’re all looking at possible prison terms as this massive, brazen scandal and conspiracy unravels.

It’s an entertaining piece, but things almost always look as though the Clintons or their cronies are about to do the perp walk.

TAXPROF: The IRS Scandal, Day 1722: The IRS Apologizes For Targeting Tea Party Group. Congrats to Prof. (now Dean) Caron for keeping after this, and shame on his fellow tax professors who accused him of peddling fake news by following this scandal closely on his blog.

RUPERT DARWALL: Europe’s Energy Crack-Up.

Europe’s energy policies are worse than stupid. At the end of last year, Sir John Beddington, a former chief scientific adviser to the British government, lifted the lid on the scandal at the heart of the EU’s renewable policies. According to Sir John, since the EU’s first renewables directive in 2008, the growth of bioenergy — much of it sourced from North American woods and forests — has provided around half the expansion of renewable energy. To supply even one third of the additional renewable energy needed to meet Europe’s new 2030 target will require an amount of wood roughly equivalent to the combined harvest in the U.S. and Canada. The fiction currently being peddled is that Europe is only burning wood residues — the bits of trees left over from other uses — but new EU rules agreed to last week by the European Parliament will expand the definition of bioenergy to include trees specifically harvested to be burnt in power stations.

This, Sir John says, will result in higher emissions than from using natural gas or coal. Burning wood releases four times as much carbon dioxide per MWh of electricity as natural gas does, and over 50 percent more than coal. At the same time, cutting down trees reduces carbon sinks. Even so-called sustainable forestry practices incur “carbon debt,” with carbon paybacks running into decades and even centuries. EU policies, Sir John argues, gives a green light to developing countries for vastly greater forest removals, potentially risking “the incredibly valuable tropical forests that are not only valuable sources of biodiversity, but also form vast carbon sinks which are one of our best tools of defense against climate change.”

Whichever way you look at it, burning the world’s carbon sinks to meet the EU’s arbitrary renewable-energy targets is environmentally insane.

It isn’t insane if your goal is to gain political power and money for cronies, instead of “saving” the environment.

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

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

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

How about that?

IT’S COLLUSION, I TELLS YA: Pentagon Counters Russia & Tests New SM-3 IIA Missile for Poland.

The Pentagon will soon fire its emerging SM-3 IIA interceptor missile from a land-based Aegis Ashore site for the first time as part of a broad-based, multi-year effort to help defend European allies from short and intermediate-range ballistic missile attacks from Russia, Iran or other potential adversaries.

A follow on to the SM-3, the SM-3 IIA is a larger and more high-tech interceptor missile able to destroy threatening targets at longer ranges; the weapon, being developed as part of a cooperative arrangement between the US Missile Defense Agency and Japan, is designed to work in tandem with Aegis radar systems to track and destroy approaching enemy missiles – by knocking them out
of the sky.

“This is the end of the development phase. We are transitioning into production. This is the final flight test before we get into operational testing,” Amy Cohen, SM-3 Program Director, told Warrior Maven in an interview.

In his first year in office, Barack Obama canceled missile defense plans we had with Poland and Czechia in hopes of courting Vladimir Putin.

And who can forget this classic hot mic slip from 2012?

And as Mark Tapscott reminded us yesterday, Hillary Clinton’s Uranium One/Russia scandal is yuuuuuge.

It’s almost as though all this talk about Trump colluding with Russia was just some kind of smokescreen for Democratic collusion (or near enough, effectively) with Russia.

SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL: The Daily Caller reported yesterday that New York University professor Michael Rectenwald is suing NYU and four of his colleagues for defamation after faculty used the school’s email system to call him a “right-wing misogynist,” an “asshole” and “Satan.”

As sympathetic as one might be towards a professor who stands his ground and rails against out-of-control indoctrination in higher education, if those are the words over which he is suing, he doesn’t stand much of a chance in court. A long line of cases hold that what might be deemed “offensive” language does not meet the critical element in a libel case of making a false statement of fact with the requisite fault level.

All kinds of offensive words that might ordinarily harm a person’s reputation, in certain contexts (like political discussions, union disputes, an even competition in the marketplace) are often rendered mere opinion, or “hyperbole and rhetoric” by dint of their “over-the-top” nature, their literal improvability, and the heated context in which they appear.

The words “scab” and “traitor” were so held in Letter Carriers v. Austin; “pimp” in Knievel v. ESPN; “rip-off,” “fraud, “scandal” and “snake-oil job” were not actionable in Phantom Touring, Inc. v. Affiliated Publications; and “trashy” in Levinsky’s v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., my very first Court of Appeals case.

*Classical reference in headline

 

SIGNS POINT TO YES: Did Glenn Simpson Lie to Congress?

Yes, after a year of wall-to-wall reporting inspired by or based on charges in the Steele dossier, the New York Times broke a story right before New Year’s Eve—a traditional dumping ground for bad news—stating that the FBI’s Russia investigation into the Trump campaign in fact had nothing to do with “a dossier compiled by a former British spy hired by [the Clinton] campaign. Instead, it was firsthand information from one of America’s closest intelligence allies” that kicked off the probe. According to the Times’ switcheroo, the origin point of the Trump-Russia investigation was a boozy May 2016 evening in a London bar where a 28-year-old Trump campaign aide named George Papadopoulos boasted to an Australian diplomat that “Moscow had thousands of emails that would embarrass Mrs. Clinton, apparently stolen in an effort to try to damage her campaign.”

Glenn Simpson and Peter Fritsch’s op-ed in the Times supported the new revised version of Russiagate holding that it’s not about the work that originated with their firm. “We don’t believe the Steele dossier was the trigger for the F.B.I.’s investigation into Russian meddling,” they wrote.

It’s not hard to see why the Times, which rejected the dossier before embracing it, is now backing off the dossier again. For all of the newsprint and air-time used to push the dossier for 14 months, nothing that hadn’t already been publicly reported prior to the 2016 campaign has panned out, nor have any of the accusations regarding Trump. There is also the fact dossier may have been used to secure a FISA warrant to spy on Trump’s associates, and therefore on the candidate himself, which would be a political scandal of a magnitude likely to transcend partisan divides.

This whole thing stinks, to coin a phrase.

TAXPROF: The IRS Scandal, Day 1709: Victims Of IRS’s Tea Party Bias — And Taxpayers — Deserve To See Lois Lerner’s Testimony.

Lois Lerner and Holly Paz are basically arguing that if people find out what Lois Lerner and Holly Paz did to them, people will want to kill them. Even assuming that’s true, it’s not a very compelling argument for secrecy.

CIVIL SOCIETY: Racist goons are targeting the FCC chief — and his family.

The source of great consternation on the left is the FCC’s decision to scrap an Obama-era rule implemented in 2015 deemed “net neutrality.” The end of net neutrality will allow internet service providers to, if they choose, privilege the content of providers that they own or support.

Over this, Pai has been the target of a campaign of harassment that amounts to a national scandal.

HBO host John Oliver was among the first mainstream cultural figures to organize a net-neutrality campaign, which he dubbed “Go FCC Yourself.” He encouraged followers to bombard the FCC’s website with comments supporting the regulation, and so they did.

Those comments were peppered with claims that Pai was a pedophile, a “dirty, sneaky Indian” who should self-deport and reminders that anonymous online hordes maintain the “power to murder Ajit Pai and his family.” Oliver was eventually compelled to release a video urging his followers to dial back the racism and death threats.

This episode would prove to be just the beginning of Pai’s ordeal. By May of last year, Pai’s tormentors began a campaign to ensure that the FCC chairman could enjoy no peace — not even in his own home.

If this were happening to a Democrat appointee, it would be the lede story, everywhere, all the time.

TAXPROF: The IRS Scandal, Day 1706: Lois Lerner, Liberty, And Bureaucracy.

NONSENSE. I’M TOLD THAT THIS ISSUE WAS SOLVED BY PRESIDENT OPRAH’S INAUGURAL SPEECH LAST NIGHT: On Eve Of Golden Globes, Hollywood Women Fear Backlash For Sexual Harassment & Sexual Assault Accusers.

Three months to the day after the New York Times first published its detailed exposé alleging decades of sexual harassment and sexual assault by Harvey Weinstein, a female producer, agent, actress and a showrunner all told Deadline they fear a backlash against women who initiate allegations of sexual harassment or sexual assault against A-list men — especially at the studios, networks and uber-agencies.

Indicative of that fear and despite the rising #MeToo movement, each women in the quartet would only speak anonymously about the matter.

“Hollywood’s a boys’ town and they will do what they have to do to keep their power, even if that means paying lip service for a while to stamping out misogyny,” the award-winning showrunner tells Deadline. “There are a lot of women staying quiet, worried that the boys are keeping a list for those who go public,” she added. “It’ll happen later, under the radar, a lot of it will be unspoken even, but careers will be sidetracked, promotions blocked, I just know it. That’s always been the way this town has worked.”

Why are Democrat-dominated industries such cesspits of misogyny, abuse and predation?

FAUSTIAN BARGAIN: It was very wise for the Golden Globes to hand Oprah an award last night; instead of discussing the embarrassment of the first major awards show in the wake of Harvey Weinstein and Pervnado, the MSM gets to dangle the possibility of Oprah running for the presidency to coastal elite audiences exhausted from nearly two years of Trump Derangement Syndrome. Not to mention, Oprah versus Trump would be ratings gold for the news media, which was in its glory making Obama happen in 2007 and 2008.

For Hollywood, it’s a chance to at least temporarily rebrand from one of its worst scandals. “Remember, they’re not making a big deal because they found out what was going on in Hollywood,” Glenn noted, “They always knew. They’re making a big deal because you found out what was going on in Hollywood.”

However, if this is indeed the high visibility launching point for Oprah 2020; associating herself with the aftermath of Pervnado seems like very poor personal branding: “Actress: Weinstein used Oprah and Naomi[Campbell] to seduce me,” the New York Post reported in late November 28, 2017. And Weinstein and Oprah were quite chummy, as this photo of the two attending the 19th Annual Critics’ Choice Movie Awards back in January 16 of 2014 attests. It quickly made the rounds on Twitter last night. Oprah co-starred in the 2013 film The Butler, produced by Bob and Harvey Weinstein, whose company distributed the movie.

As Sonny Bunch of the Washington Free Beacon writes in his recap of last night, “Oprah kicked off her presidential campaign last night, apparently, so 2020 should be fun. Or horribly depressing. As much as she might want to be president, I can’t imagine Oprah has any interest in campaigning for president—it’s such a slog and the Democratic primary will be a cluttered knife fight and I shudder to think at the nicknames Trump would hurl at her. But I digress. (Important side note: no one who voted for Trump gets to complain about “celebrity candidates” ever again.)”

Director Lee Daniels, Oprah Winfrey and Harvey Weinstein at The Los Angeles Premiere of ‘The Butler’ after party, on Monday, August 12, 2013 in Los Angeles. (Photo by Alexandra Wyman/Invision/AP Images.)

WHEN THE RADICALS BECOME FANATICS: The Torment of Ajit Pai. At Commentary, Noah Rothman writes:

The so-called “Resistance” latched onto the net-neutrality issue early in the Trump presidency and went about expressing their opposition to the repeal of this regulation in the most contemptible fashion imaginable. HBO host John Oliver was among the first figures of mainstream cultural relevance to organize a campaign against this regulation, which he dubbed “Go FCC Yourself.” He encouraged his followers to bombard the FCC’s website with comments supporting the regulation, and that is precisely what they did. Those comments were peppered with claims that Pai was a pedophile, a “dirty, sneaky Indian” who should self-deport, and reminders that anonymous online hordes maintain the “power to murder Ajit Pai and his family.” Oliver was eventually compelled to release a video urging his followers to dial back the racism and death threats.

This episode would prove to be just the beginning of Pai’s ordeal. By May of last year, Pai’s tormentors began a campaign to ensure that the FCC chairman could enjoy no peace—not even in his own home. “Resistance” groups began distributing fliers and door hangers around Pai’s Arlington, Virginia neighborhood, featuring a black-and-white photo of Pai with his vital stats (height, weight, age, and professional background) and accusing him of selling the Internet out to corporations. “Have you seen this man?” the fliers read.

These demonstrators didn’t stop there. They began organizing “vigils” in Pai’s driveway—a tactic that net neutrality activists deployed in 2014 against then-FCC chairman Tom Wheeler. They “come up to our front windows and take photographs of the inside of the house,” Pai told the Wall Street Journal. “My kids are 5 and 3. It’s not pleasant.”

In a related post at Taki’s, Christopher DeGroot explores “Giving Offense, or How to Overcome Mass-Media Morality,” beginning with a look at “Lewis Hamilton, the Formula One race-car driver and whipping boy for the identity-politics puritans. The man had put up a video on Instagram in which he mocks his nephew for getting a dress for Christmas. ‘Boys don’t wear princess dresses!’ he said. For this he was—inevitably—taken to task by people who presume they have the right to do so. As you would expect, Hamilton issued the obligatory public apology. Good news for the mob and his PR people. Bad news for everyone else, including the callow Hamilton himself.”

In a passage that dovetails well with Time-Warner-CNN-HBO spokesman John Oliver ginning up the mob to attack Ajit Pai, DeGroot responds:

Today, people act as if they have a “right” to revenge, even as they have a “right” never to be offended. Here, it would be impossible to underestimate the influence of mass media, a source of endless division, resentment, and wickedness. Mass media produces a debasement such as no one in the past ever could have imagined. It is an infinite impetus to destructive sentiments. Nor is the sort of mad reaction that we saw in the Hamilton scandal, and the concomitant will to punish, going to go away anytime soon. For it has become a norm, and therefore something that many do not even question as possibly wrong. There are many—single mothers in particular—who, though they teach their children nothing of traditional morality, will allow them to believe that reflexive herd castigation is “good conduct,” what “decent and tolerant” people do.

Since it increasingly is ”morality,” mass-media influence is a nightmare from which we need to wake up. To do so we must, in Dr. Johnson’s words, “clear the mind of cant.” Rejecting mass-media morality, and thus the evil ends for which it is the vehicle, we must go our own way, indifferent to what media-shaped cattle think of us. Most of all, children must be taught that mere hurt feelings are not a sign of rectitude. Parents should be candid with boys and girls that the media is insidious, trafficking in evil under the guise of righteousness. The young must learn to see it for what it is. If not, the world will be happy to dupe them and profit at their expense.

America’s future is already difficult enough. A culture that lacks emotional restraint, choosing instead to indulge every offended impulse, will be especially ill-suited for dealing with its many problems. Therefore, people—and especially men, the primary targets—need to learn how to respond to these facile charges of sexism, racism, homophobia, and all the progressive rest.

Read the whole thing.

(Found via Kathy Shaidle, who writes, “as I’ve been saying for years, what people really need is insensitivity training…”)

WHY ARE DEMOCRATIC-DOMINATED INDUSTRIES SUCH CESSPITS OF MISOGYNY? “OH MY GOD, THIS IS SO F—ED UP”: INSIDE SILICON VALLEY’S SECRETIVE, ORGIASTIC DARK SIDE. “Some of the most powerful men in Silicon Valley are regulars at exclusive, drug-fueled, sex-laced parties—gatherings they describe not as scandalous, or even secret, but as a bold, unconventional lifestyle choice.”

Well, we have been told not to criticize other people’s lifestyle choices, so shut up, bigot.

And I love the modified version of Thomas Couture’s Romans of the Decadence, which was the cover art for Original Sins, the first album I ever produced.

TAXPROF: The IRS Scandal, Day 1699: Lois Lerner And Civil Service Reform.

LACK OF INTEGRITY AND LOSS OF CREDIBILITY HAVE CONSEQUENCES: The IRS Scandal, Day 1698: Fallout From Tea Party Targeting Allegations Has Neutered IRS Oversight Of Nonprofits.

As I’ve said before, if the individuals responsible had been held accountable, the institution as a whole wouldn’t be suffering.

INSTITUTIONAL PUNISHMENT WOULDN’T BE NECESSARY IF THERE HAD BEEN INDIVIDUAL ACCOUNTABILITY: TaxProf: The IRS Scandal, Day 1697: Budgetary Evisceration After Tea Party Targeting Allegations Has Left The IRS Incapable Of Implementing The New Tax Law.

WHY ARE DEMOCRAT-DOMINATED ORGANIZATIONS SUCH CESSPITS OF SCOPOPHILIA? CNBC director accused of spying on teenage nanny with bathroom cam.

NBC’s alumni include Al Franken, David Letterman, the late Roger Ailes, and yes, Donald Trump. At the start of this year’s fall season, its on-air talent included Matt Lauer, Chris Matthews, and fabulists Brian Williams and Al Sharpton. Then there’s management’s creepy attempt at squashing Ronan Farrow’s reporting on Harvey Weinstein. That’s some corporate culture going on at NBC and its affiliated networks.

“Our media crowd is just one big Harper Valley PTA,” Glenn noted last week in regards to the Chris Matthews’ scandal report, “So basically, all the people on the teevee going on about ‘have you no decency, sir?’ are predators and pervs.” And peeping toms, if the New York Daily News’ article is correct.

FLASHBACK: Matt Welch: The Media’s Hypocrisy About Gary Johnson.

Is Gary Johnson qualified to run for president? Let’s talk about that, but first let’s talk about this:
Two weeks ago, the foreign affairs select committee of the British House of Commons released a detailed, damning report about one of Hillary Clinton’s signature achievements as secretary of state: The 2011 US/UK/French-led military intervention into Moammar Gadhafi’s Libya, which was sold as a necessity to prevent (in President Barack Obama’s words) “a massacre that would have reverberated across the region.”

“This policy,” the conservative-led committee concluded, “was not informed by accurate intelligence. In particular, the [British] Government failed to identify that the threat to civilians was overstated and that the rebels included a significant Islamist element. By the summer of 2011, the limited intervention to protect civilians had drifted into an opportunist policy of regime change. That policy was not underpinned by a strategy to support and shape post-(Gadhafi) Libya. The result was political and economic collapse, inter-militia and inter-tribal warfare, humanitarian and migrant crises, widespread human rights violations, the spread of (Gadhafi) regime weapons across the region and the growth of ISIL in North Africa.”

You might think that a deeply sourced report from an allied government about trumped-up intelligence leading to yet another destabilizing Middle East war might make some headlines in the country where the administration’s leading proponent of said intervention is poised to become the next leader of the free world. . . .

Ah, yes, but did you hear the one about Gary Johnson not being able to come up on the spot with the name of his favorite foreign leader? Disqualifying! And also, oddly, nearly ubiquitous in the same media that couldn’t be bothered to reexamine a Hillary Clinton policy that has adversely affected countless human lives.

But she’s the Smartest Woman Ever.

Related: Africans are being sold at Libyan slave markets. Thanks, Hillary Clinton.

HOLLYWOOD IN DECLINE: Even with ‘Star Wars’ surge, moviegoing could hit 22-year low. Blame bad sequels, rising ticket prices and streaming.

Well, that’s part of it. Also, the scandals and the politics have damaged Hollywood’s brand.

UPDATE (From Ed): There’s also the One Reason Media Refuse to Cite for Bad Box Office, which, predictably, the L.A. Times doesn’t cite in the first link above.

ANDREW MCCARTHY: Was The Steele Dossier The FBI’s “Insurance Policy?” “There were layers of insulation between the Clinton campaign and Steele — the campaign and the Democratic party retained a law firm, which contracted with Fusion GPS, which in turn hired the former spy. At some point, though, perhaps early on, the FBI and DOJ learned that the dossier was actually a partisan opposition-research product. By then, they were dug in. No one, after all, would be any the wiser: Hillary would coast to victory, so Democrats would continue running the government; FISA materials are highly classified, so they’d be kept under wraps. Just as it had been with the Obama-era’s Fast and Furious and IRS scandals, any malfeasance would remain hidden. The best laid schemes . . . gang aft agley.”

ANN ALTHOUSE: “If Democrats care about the future of Kirsten Gillibrand, they need Franken to shut up and go away.” Because:

I’ve already posted today on the topic of the potential for Franken to “un-resign.” He’d always only said he would resign in the coming weeks, so I presume it would be procedurally easy to decline to follow through on his earlier statement. What I’m putting up this post to discuss is the political future of Kirsten Gillibrand, who I think wants to run for President. She chose to elevate her profile over the Franken scandal and she succeeded dramatically — getting an “avalanche of Democratic senators” to join her in calling for Franken’s resignation, which seemed to force him into abruptly acceding to her imperious demand.

If Franken turns around and says he won’t resign, he will be talking about fairness, due process, and evidence-based judgment. Whatever he says will be critical of the way power was exercised under the leadership of Kirsten Gillibrand. This is her signature issue, and she made a grand show of flexing her muscle, and her fellow Democrats behaved as if she were their leader on this issue. If what they did is portrayed as ill-considered and rash, Gillibrand looks like someone who should not be trusted with great power.

Yes, and it’ll undercut her gender-warrior stance, as critics can say even her fellow Democratic Senators think she’s too quick to indulge the man-hate.

REMEMBER THIS NAME AND REMEMBER THIS DATE: The name is Michael Horowitz. The date is Jan. 12, 2017. Horowitz is the Inspector-General of the Department of Justice. January 12, 2017, is the date Horowitz announced an investigation of these factors:

• Allegations that Department or FBI policies or procedures were not followed in connection with, or in actions leading up to or related to, the FBI Director’s public announcement on July 5, 2016, and the Director’s letters to Congress on October 28 and November 6, 2016, and that certain underlying investigative decisions were based on improper considerations;

• Allegations that the FBI Deputy Director should have been recused from participating in certain investigative matters;

• Allegations that the Department’s Assistant Attorney General for Legislative Affairs improperly disclosed non-public information to the Clinton campaign and/or should have been recused from participating in certain matters;

• Allegations that Department and FBI employees improperly disclosed non-public information;

• Allegations that decisions regarding the timing of the FBI’s release of certain Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) documents on October 30 and November 1, 2016, and the use of a Twitter account to publicize same, were influenced by improper considerations.

The Horowitz probe is why Peter Strzok’s amazing emails were discovered. As sensational as those emails are, the more important question is what occasioned their becoming available to the Horowitz investigators. The DOJ IG is nobody’s fool and his report is just over the horizon. Just ask American Thinker’s Thomas Lifson.

There are more than 70 IGs in the federal government in positions created in 1978 during the Carter administration. There have been some bad eggs among the IGs over the years but collectively, the IG community has been the unsung hero in efforts to expose and prosecute waste, fraud and abuse in government. Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, has been the IGs’ strongest advocate in Congress.

And there’s this: The journo community in the nation’s capital has been rumbling in recent days about a bombshell report supposedly being prepared for publication by the Washington Post that will ruin the careers of dozens of Members of Congress, from both parties.

Fasten your seatbelts, folks.

 

ANDREW KLAVAN: Trump Has Made Our Government More Moral.

Trump has made our government more moral by making less of it: fewer regulations, fewer judges who will write law instead of obeying the law, fewer bureaucrats seeking to expand the power of their agencies, less money for the government to spend on itself. He has made government treat us more fairly and equally by ceasing to use the IRS and Justice Department for political ends like silencing enemies and skewing elections.

This is what moral government looks like. And if every male senator in America is grabbing the buttocks of some unsuspecting female while, at the same time, voting for more limited and less corrupt government, the senators are immoral, yes, but the government is more moral. That is why we should never let the leftist press game us with scandal hysteria, but should keep focused on voting in those who will help fulfill government’s moral ends.

Also, hearing the lamentations of the left is nice, too: “More than 700 employees have left the EPA since Scott Pruitt took over,” Think Progress tweeted today. Curiously, they seem to be implying that’s a bad thing.

TAXPROF: The IRS Scandal, Day 1681: Robert Mueller And Lois Lerner.

SALENA ZITO: FOR ONCE, THE JOKE IS ON AL FRANKEN.

America is in the middle of a political awakening of sorts with all kinds of moving parts. Franken did not survive because he was caught in the storm, he left because he was part of the storm that swept out our culture’s moral compass a generation ago.

When we decided 40 years ago — at the beginning of the ‘me’ generation — to drop societal norms and boundaries, we gave people the OK to behave badly; especially men. It was cool to be naughty, uncool to be respectful and gentlemanly.

It appears that storm is fading fast in the aftermath of the Harvey Weinstein scandal in both our culture and our politics. And politicians and aspiring politicians who had the wink, wink, nod, nod OK to do this, while polite society looked the other way, don’t get any more winks or nods anymore.

Maybe the best test of all for our country would have been that Franken didn’t resign, but stayed to face the people who put him in office in the first place. It would be in that moment we would know if voters would bargain their values away in favor tribal of politics.

Well, Franken hasn’t resigned-resigned yet (as Polanski-apologist Whoopi Goldberg would say), and depending upon what happens in the Roy Moore election, Minnesota voters might still be put to that test.

But in the meantime, isn’t it curious that Lorne Michaels, who created Saturday Night Live in 1975 and still produces it, and infused its “nothing is true; everything is permitted*” style throughout the NBC culture, has yet to be asked about Franken, whose career he launched and employed for decades, or this current cultural moment? Considering Michaels works in the same office building with them, he shouldn’t be all that difficult for NBC “reporters” to track down, if they actually wanted to bother.

* SNL’s first lead writer, former National Lampoon co-founder Michael O’Donoghue, idolized William S. Burroughs, the heroin-addicted beat generation writer, and frequently quoted Burroughs’ motto as his comedy goal.

REX MURPHY: Endless sex scandals expose hypocrisy of Hollywood and media industry.

By way of an abrupt conclusion, there are really only two points to make, neither novel.

The first: the fact that these “icons” held such sway for so long, and injured or intimidated so many, strips Hollywood and the news business of all their pretentiousness and virtue display—their preening, preaching righteousness—not only on matters concerning women, but also on other causes to which they delight to add their hypocritical names.

The second: the catchphrase of the moment—“we all knew”—undercuts and demolishes the idea of celebrities as brave watchmen and defenders of truth. Almost all of these have painted Donald Trump as a wild, sexist boor, some making a semi-career out of being Trump’s superior, morally and intellectually. Well, following these revelations, with whom would you prefer to spend an evening: Charlie Rose or The Donald?

Our moral and intellectual superiors are neither.

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

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

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

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

As Dreher writes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

But note how the article begins:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“No,” he replied. “No.”

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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