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DON SURBER: Historians Sense Obama Failed.

Only 12th best?

Gee, you would think in light of the last eight years of hosannas from the press, Barack Obama would rank with Washington and Lincoln among America’s academics. But nope, he was only 12th. . . .

The rankings by category show a distinctly affirmative action grading curve.

For example, he ranks third in “Pursued Equal Justice For All,” ahead of Grant (reconstruction and the Civil Rights Act of 1875), Coolidge (gave Indians citizenship), Eisenhower (sent the 101st to enforce school desegregation and the Civil Rights Act of 1957), and Truman (desegregated the military). Frankly, I can find nothing in Obama’s portfolio that speaks to equal justice for all. The court legalized gay marriage without him. A gentleman’s C puts him at 22.

Eighth in economic management? He added $9 trillion to the national debt and we never recovered from the recession he inherited. Bottom 10 in that category.

Twenty-fourth in international relations? He bombed countries without provocation, armed the Islamic State, and let Iran develop nuclear weapons. Bottom 10 in that category.

His domestic policy consisted of Obamacare, which elected a Republican House in 2010, a Republican Senate in 2014, and a Republican president in 2016.

Obama leaves the White House having achieved nothing positive on the economic front, nothing positive on the international front, and nothing positive on the domestic front.

He’s the best black president, though, and given the way he poisoned the racial well, he’s likely to hold that status for quite a while.

EIGHT YEARS AGO ON INSTAPUNDIT:

FREE SPEECH IN THE AGE OF OBAMA: “An Oklahoma City police officer wrongly pulled over a man last week and confiscated an anti-President Barack Obama sign the man had on his vehicle.” Plus this: “When I was on my way there, the Secret Service called me and said they weren’t going to ransack my house or anything … they just wanted to (walk through the house) and make sure I wasn’t a part of any hate groups.” Since when do government officials search homes to ensure the absence of impure political thoughts?

If something like this had happened with Bush, it would have been proof that fascism was descending had descended upon America.

Likewise, Trump.

IMPOSSIBLE! DIDN’T OBAMA SPEND A TRILLION DOLLARS FIXING STUFF LIKE THIS? Almost 10 percent of all bridges in America are in need of repair or replacement.

Oh, right.

MATTHEW CONTINETTI: Who Rules the United States?

Nor is Flynn the only example of nameless bureaucrats working to undermine and ultimately overturn the results of last year’s election. According to the New York Times, civil servants at the EPA are lobbying Congress to reject Donald Trump’s nominee to run the agency. Is it because Scott Pruitt lacks qualifications? No. Is it because he is ethically compromised? Sorry. The reason for the opposition is that Pruitt is a critic of the way the EPA was run during the presidency of Barack Obama. He has a policy difference with the men and women who are soon to be his employees. Up until, oh, this month, the normal course of action was for civil servants to follow the direction of the political appointees who serve as proxies for the elected president.

How quaint. These days an architect of the overreaching and antidemocratic Waters of the U.S. regulation worries that her work will be overturned so she undertakes extraordinary means to defeat her potential boss. But a change in policy is a risk of democratic politics. Nowhere does it say in the Constitution that the decisions of government employees are to be unquestioned and preserved forever. Yet that is precisely the implication of this unprecedented protest. “I can’t think of any other time when people in the bureaucracy have done this,” a professor of government tells the paper. That sentence does not leave me feeling reassured.

Opposition to this president takes many forms. Senate Democrats have slowed confirmations to the most sluggish pace since George Washington. Much of the New York and Beltway media does really function as a sort of opposition party, to the degree that reporters celebrated the sacking of Flynn as a partisan victory for journalism. Discontent manifests itself in direct actions such as the Women’s March.

But here’s the difference. Legislative roadblocks, adversarial journalists, and public marches are typical of a constitutional democracy. They are spelled out in our founding documents: the Senate and its rules, and the rights to speech, a free press, and assembly. Where in those documents is it written that regulators have the right not to be questioned, opposed, overturned, or indeed fired, that intelligence analysts can just call up David Ignatius and spill the beans whenever they feel like it?

Read the whole thing, but the answer to the headline question is in the question itself. The people of the United States are to be governed, not ruled — and lightly governed, at that.

But the Permanent Bureaucratic Class feels doesn’t see it that way.

As Trump Visits Boeing, Senators Take Aim at Contractor’s Iran Air Deal.

As President Trump made the rounds with Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg at the aerospace giant’s plant in Charleston on Friday, Republican senators were introducing legislation to require the president to report to Congress on Iran’s potential use of new Boeing aircraft to further terror.

After sanctions were eased following implementation of the Iran nuclear deal, Boeing struck an 80-plane deal with state-owned carrier IranAir worth at least $8 billion. President Obama’s State Department lauded the agreement in June as “the type of permissible business activity envisioned in the JCPOA.”

The news drew immediate reaction from Reps. Pete Roskam (R-Ill.) and Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), who wrote Muilenburg to explain “Iran’s commercial aviation sector is deeply involved in supporting hostile actors.”

Well, good.

Meanwhile, the art of another deal: Trump hints at ‘big order’ of F/A-18 Super Hornets instead of some F-35s.

The F/A-18 is built by Boeing, the same company which struck that 80-plane deal with Iran.

ANOTHER CAMPAIGN PROMISE KEPT: Trump signs bill undoing Obama coal mining rule.

Coal is going to take a beating because of fracked gas anyway, but he promised to do this and he did. That alone sets him apart.

EIGHT YEARS AGO, ON INSTAPUNDIT:

POLITICO: A REVOLVING DOOR? “In three months since Election Day, at least a half-dozen prominent journalists have taken jobs working for the federal government. Journalists, including some of those who’ve jumped ship, say it’s better to have a solid job in government than a shaky job – or none at all – in an industry that’s fading fast. But conservative critics answer with a question: Would journalists be making the same career choices if John McCain had beaten Barack Obama in November?” If it were another industry, and a Republican candidate/President, the press would treat this as a serious conflict of interest. It does kinda explain the favorable election coverage . . . .

Yes.

MY PRESIDENT IS ORANGE: Trump Tops Obama, Hands Over Full Torture Report To Court Previous Administration Refused To. “Credit where credit is due: Trump has done more to preserve the full CIA Torture Report than Obama ever did.”

GOOD LUCK: Dems Hope Ivanka Can ‘Convince’ Her Dad to Support Parental Leave Plan.

Trump is busy resetting foreign policy, repealing and replacing ObamaCare, rewriting a major executive order, and even just staffing up his Administration — and Democrats are pinning their hopes on a parental leave bill?

FRACKERS HAVE DONE MORE THAN THE SIERRA CLUB EVER DID: The U.S. Keeps Getting Greener.

The Environmental Protection Agency still exists—though House Republicans have introduced a bill that would seek to change that, and President Trump is reportedly ready to sign executive orders to hamstring the agency’s climate change-related efforts—and it just released its annual greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions report. The published information only runs through 2015, owing to the lag associated with such large data sets, but what we do know is, well, encouraging. . . .

A 2.2 percent annual decrease in overall GHG emissions is no small feat, and it will obviously be received as good news by environmentalists around the country. But before those greens despair that now, without Obama, those emissions are going to spike again, let’s consider that it was a shift in fossil fuels—not renewables—that was responsible for the majority of these reductions. Specifically, it was the ongoing displacement of coal-fired power plants by natural gas-fired ones that did the heavy lifting for American climate change mitigation in 2015.

According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), U.S. energy-related CO2 emissions hit a 25-year low over the first six months of 2016, continuing the progress that the EPA says we made in 2015. In both cases, the drop in emissions was largely put down to a decline in coal usage (coal is the dirtiest and highest-emitting fossil fuel). Interestingly, it was cheap shale gas and not President Obama’s Clean Power Plan that dethroned Old King Coal.

That’s why fracking should be considered green, and it’s also why we shouldn’t expect Donald Trump to increase our overall emissions. Trump is fracking friendly, and as many times as he promised to revive the coal industry during his campaign, he won’t rein in the shale boom just to make coal country happy. The oil and gas that revolution is unleashing is just too important to our energy security and the U.S. economy to ignore.

Contra this piece, however, I don’t think Obama “worked hard” to advance shale energy. Quite the contrary, in fact.

THANKS, OBAMA: Obama Appointees Preventing Mattis From Rebuilding The Military, Says Armed Services Chair.

“I am concerned that … to fix these problems [it] is going to take a lot more money, and yet a lot of the folks who are coming up with the budget to fix them are the same people who have been fighting every step of the way against our efforts to fix these problems,” said Chairman Mac Thornberry during a Capitol Hill press gaggle Thursday.

Thornberry noted that Mattis is “alone” in his attempts to alleviate the readiness problem at the Pentagon. He added that there are some people, including “political appointees and others from the Obama administration,” who have been “trying to deny there was a problem.”

The Vice Joint Chiefs of Staff warned the armed services committee last week that the lack of military readiness across all branches was putting the military’s capabilities at risk. Their reports revealed, among other substantial problems, only three of 58 Army brigade combat teams are ready for combat, while fewer than half of the Air Force’s aging aircraft fleet is ready to fight.

Heads should roll, and the sooner the better.

CIVIL WAR: Dem State Leaders Think Obama’s New Organizing Army is ‘Grade A Bullshit’

The nonprofit, which functions as a sort of parallel-Democratic National Committee, was founded to mobilize Democratic voters and supporters in defense of President Obama’s, and the Democratic Party’s, agenda. Instead, the organization has drawn the intense ire, both public and private, of grassroots organizers and state parties that are convinced that OFA inadvertently helped decimate Democrats at the state and local level, while Republicans cemented historic levels of power and Donald J. Trump actually became leader of the free world.

These intra-party tensions aren’t going away, especially now that OFA “relaunched” itself last week to protect the Affordable Care Act, boost turnout at congressional townhalls, and train grassroots organizers gearing up for the Trump era.

“This is some GRADE A Bullshit right here,” Stephen Handwerk, executive director of the Louisiana Democratic Party, wrote in a private Democratic-listserv email obtained by The Daily Beast. Handwerk was reacting to news of OFA’s post-election retooling, which was shared “without comment” to the group of state-level Dems by Crystal Kay Perkins, executive director for Texas Democrats.

“It also to me seems TONE DEAF—we have lost over 1,000 seats in the past 8 years… all because of this crap,” Handwerk continued. “Let’s get through the next two weeks—but then we gotta figure this out and keep the pressure on. WOW.”

Others on the thread shared these sentiments.

Obama has always been about Obama, but now that he’s out of office, his fellow Democrats are free to push back.

CULTURE OF CORRUPTION: Former Obama campaign aide David Plouffe has been fined $90,000 for breaking the city of Chicago’s ethics rules in lobbying Mayor Rahm Emanuel (D) on behalf of Uber. When you’re too unethical for Chicago. . . .

MEGAN MCARDLE: Another Sign That ObamaCare Exchanges Are Collapsing.

EIGHT YEARS AGO, ON INSTAPUNDIT:

A BUNCH OF PHOTOS FROM THE DENVER TAXPAYERS’ PROTEST.

Plus, “Yes we care.” “Community organizing helped propel Barack Obama to the White House. It could work for fiscal conservatism, too.” Still more here. And reader Judith Sears emails:

I went to the Denver Pork Protest today. I don’t have a camera, so no pics. There was a good crowd – I’d guess 250 – 300, but I’m no expert. Somebody announced to us that the signing had only attracted about 75…but it was invite-only. The protest crowd was pumped and enthusiastic. The organizers brought up a pig, which got the most applause. Unfortunately, the Colorado Republicans are uninspiring speakers and didn’t seem to get the point that this was a rally – a time for chanting and hooting and hollering. Most read their speeches – poorly – and the speeches, although okay on substance, sounded like something that should be delivered on the floor of the House or Senate, not something for pumping up the base for a long political struggle. Nevertheless, we cheered whenever we got the chance and got some “No More Pork” chants going in between speakers.

Was anybody else there? Oh, yeah, here are more pictures.

And more pictures here.

Weirdly, nobody’s wearing black masks or setting things on fire.

ANALYSIS: TRUE. Jim VanDeHei & Mike Allen: The Media Is The Opposition Party. Likewise, they were the Obama Support Party for the previous eight years. Any efforts to defend their role now must also take that into account.

But it’s just more evidence that if you want checks and balances, you need a white, male Republican in the White House.

UPDATE: From the comments: “I thought, given the wailing I have heard the last few days, that some brilliant questions were going to be asked of Trump by the ‘real’ journalists. Where were they hiding?”

OCEANIA HAS NEVER BEEN AT WAR WITH HILLARY CLINTON: “See Hillary Clinton Get A Standing Ovation Before ‘Sunset Boulevard’ On Broadway, the Huffington Post breathlessly reports:

At a showing of Broadway’s “Sunset Boulevard” Wednesday night, the former Democratic presidential candidate prompted applause and cheers from audience members as she took her seat among them.

Several Twitter users and reporters in the theater took note of the enthusiastic response.

She’s finally ready for her close-up. You young citizens of Oceania may not believe me, but honest, I swear, I can remember vague flashbacks to that hazy year called 2008, when the Huffington Post trashed Hillary’s Democrat supporters (concurrent with Obama’s infamous Bitter Clingers slur against them) and Obama-supporting video makers created Hillary as Norma Desmond parodies. Like Norma herself, all down the Memory Hole:

Click to watch.

RICHARD POLLOCK: How The Nation’s Spooks Played The Game ‘Kill Mike Flynn’

The talk within the tight-knit community of retired intelligence officers was that Flynn’s sacking was a result of intelligence insiders at the CIA, NSA and National Security Council using a sophisticated “disinformation campaign” to create a crisis atmosphere. The former intel officers say the tactics hurled against Flynn over the last few months were the type of high profile hard-ball accusations previously reserved for top figures in enemy states, not for White House officials.

“This was a hit job,” charged retired Col. James Williamson, a 32-year Special Forces veteran who coordinated his operations with the intelligence community.

Noting the Obama administration first tried to silence Flynn in 2014 when the former president fired him as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Williamson called Monday’s resignation, “stage Two of ‘Kill Mike Flynn.”

Former intelligence officials who understand spy craft say Flynn’s resignation had everything to do with a “disinformation campaign” and little to do with the December phone conversation he had with the Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.

They charge officials from America’s top spy counsels leaked classified government intercepts of Flynn and President Trump’s conversations with world leaders and had “cutouts” — friendly civilians not associated with the agency — to distribute them to reporters in a coordinated fashion.

Read the whole thing.

AS STIMULUS CHIEF JOE BIDEN SAID, “CORRUPTION IS JUST ANOTHER FORM OF TYRANNY.” Obama Stimulus Funds Went to California Dam in ‘Good Shape,’ But Not Oroville.

Despite more than a decade of warnings about Oroville, there is no public record of the country’s tallest dam receiving any of the more than $34 billion from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act sent to California for infrastructure projects.

Over $22 million in stimulus funds did go toward safety improvements to the Folsom Dam, which was described as in “good shape” at the time the grant was awarded in 2009.

“The dam is in good shape but is starting to show its age,” a Bureau of Reclamation spokesperson said of the Folsom Dam at the time.

The stimulus was intended to “shore up the nation’s aging infrastructure,” said former representative Mike Thompson, a Democrat who served California’s 1st District where the Oroville dam is located before being redistricted to the 5th.

Thompson lauded numerous stimulus projects, which included $2.2 million for “more attractive” sidewalks and $2.5 million for a 205-acre “zero net energy” community on the University of California Davis campus to put a greater “emphasis on walking” and bicycling.

We have far more government than we need, but a hell of a lot less than we pay for.

TNR EDITOR: Trump ‘Turned the GOP Into the Party of Eugenics,’ Which It Always Was.

In case you are not yet convinced that Trump is eager to push a program of government-sponsored genetic improvement, [TNR social media editor, Sarah] Jones adds that anonymous sources interviewed by The New York Times said Steve Bannon, the president’s chief strategist, “occasionally talked about the genetic superiority of some people and once mused about the desirability of limiting the vote to property owners.” Jeff Sessions, the new attorney general, “praised the Immigration Act of 1924 in a 2015 interview with Bannon,” and Trump adviser Michael Anton has written (under a pseudonym) that Charles Lindbergh’s America First Committee was “unfairly maligned.”

That’s pretty much it, which is why Jones ends up switching her focus from Trump to the Republican Party and from eugenics to “the party’s agenda,” which “in many ways channels the spirit of eugenics, even if it does not accept the theory in a literal sense.” Hence the article’s subhead, which contradicts the headline by suggesting that eugenics was not introduced to the GOP by Trump but has “always been embedded in the Republican platform.”

How so? Republicans oppose Obamacare, like capitalism, talk about welfare reform, and support school choice, which according to Jones makes them eugenicists in spirit.

Jones should familiarize herself with the works of Democrat icon Margaret Sanger.

MEGAN MCARDLE: A Rough 24 Hours For ObamaCare.

THE OTHER SIDE OF OBAMACARE: Millions Excluded from Obamacare Aid, Pass on Coverage.

“It’s hard to tell people who don’t see health care needs in the year ahead that they should be paying premiums and higher deductibles to make the system work for everyone else,” says JoAnn Volk, a senior research professor at Georgetown University’s Center on Health Insurance Reforms. “But the going-in idea is that you’ll need health insurance at some point.”

To 42-year-old Tiffany, one of several people U.S. News spoke with whose last names are being withheld to protect their privacy, the costs of coverage to her and her husband this year were overwhelming: $1,221.20 per month, with an $11,700 deductible. If they were to divorce, they realized, they would qualify for cheaper coverage. Alternatively, Tiffany’s husband, who is self-employed, would need to make an extra $20,000 a year to make up the difference once medication and doctor visits are factored in.

Though the option of ending their 17-year marriage wasn’t truly on the table, to them it accentuated the lack of options they faced this year. The Columbus, Ohio-area residents already had been unhappy with the plan they bought the previous year, finding that it covered few of the services they needed. Their regular medical needs include providing medication for a daughter with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and another with mild asthma.

As a family of five making between $115,000 and $125,000 a year, they did not qualify for subsidies. And doctors in the plans available were far away.

“This year, I just cried,” Tiffany says of the moment she saw how much insurance was going to cost them. “I’m not an emotional person. I was just floored. I completely shut down because there were no options.”

Somebody needs to tell JoAnn Volk that the choice between going broke now for certain, or taking a chance on going broke later, is no choice at all.

Anyway, ObamaCare sticks it to the middle and upper-middle class because, as Willie Sutton is supposed to have said, that’s where the money is.

CHANGE: IRS Guts Enforcement of Obamacare Individual Mandate.

It’s a tax!

JOHN HINDERAKER: Obama’s Secret Communications with Mullahs Undermined American Foreign Policy.

DO BEAR IN MIND THAT IT’S ALSO OKAY TO PUNCH BACK TWICE AS HARD, IN OBAMA’S MEMORABLE FORMULATION: Now It’s Okay to Punch Nazis and White Male Libertarians. That Escalated Quickly. “So how’s that for goal-post shifting? First, we decide it’s okay to attack Nazis. Then we decide it’s okay to punch people who aren’t Nazis but are awful and sort of remind us of Nazis. Then it becomes okay to punch the people who say Nazis and Milo are bad but we shouldn’t punch them. You know those slippery-slope arguments people are always rolling their eyes at? Well, there’s the slippery slope for you. And we’ll be normalizing a whole lot of violence as we slide.”

You don’t want to normalize violence, lefties. You won’t like it when violence is normalized.

Related: Daily Californian: Conservative Speech Will Not Be Stifled By Violence.

MICHAEL WALSH: Surprise: At the End, Obama Administration Gave NSA Broad New Powers.

WHERE THE LEAKS ARE COMING FROM? Surprise: At the End, Obama Administration Gave NSA Broad New Powers.

IT’S DIFFERENT WHEN THEY DO IT:

Worse, failed-novelist-turned-Obama-Administration-fabulist Ben Rhodes bragged about lying to the press, insulted them to their faces as 27-year-old-know-nothings — and the press came back pleading for “More, sir, please?”

MORE ON TRUMP-NETANHYAHU MEETING: Trump, Netanyahu to Reset US-Israeli Relations After Strained 8 Years.

Schanzer believes both the Iran deal and the settlements issue can be addressed without too much controversy.

“With the settlements, there was common ground reached by Bush and Ariel Sharon, which allowed Israelis to continue to build in areas that already have significant Israeli population,” Schanzer said, referring to former President George W. Bush and Sharon, a former Israeli prime minister.

Schanzer added it might be difficult to undo the entire Iran nuclear deal, which relieved sanctions on the country, and was agreed upon by the United States and five other countries. However, it’s likely Trump will enforce the agreement in a way Obama would not.

“It will be about rigorous enforcement of the deal and not allowing Iran to cheat even in minor ways,” Schanzer said. “The Obama administration wouldn’t enforce this out of fear the deal would unravel. Trump doesn’t care about Obama’s foreign policy legacy.”

Bingo.

SHADOW ADMINISTRATION: Former Obama Officials, Loyalists Waged Secret Campaign to Oust Flynn.

The effort, said to include former Obama administration adviser Ben Rhodes—the architect of a separate White House effort to create what he described as a pro-Iran echo chamber—included a small task force of Obama loyalists who deluged media outlets with stories aimed at eroding Flynn’s credibility, multiple sources revealed.

The operation primarily focused on discrediting Flynn, an opponent of the Iran nuclear deal, in order to handicap the Trump administration’s efforts to disclose secret details of the nuclear deal with Iran that had been long hidden by the Obama administration.

Insiders familiar with the anti-Flynn campaign told the Free Beacon that these Obama loyalists plotted in the months before Trump’s inauguration to establish a set of roadblocks before Trump’s national security team, which includes several prominent opponents of diplomacy with Iran. The Free Beacon first reported on this effort in January.

This political conspiracy is a much bigger story than the ouster of a single person, but it won’t be reported that way.

DON’T CALL IT A DEATH SPIRAL: Humana says it plans to pull out of Obamacare exchanges in 2018.

The GOP Congress is so forward-thinking, they’ve even privatized ObamaCare repeal!

THEY TOLD ME IF DONALD TRUMP WERE ELECTED, THE STREETS WOULD BE FULL OF FASCISTS. AND THEY WERE RIGHT! NYU Postpones Gateway Pundit DC Correspondent Lucian Wintrich’s Speech Due to Threats. “This is what you get after eight years of Barack Obama.”

Related: Canadian Students Rally Behind Liberal Activist Calling on Comrades to ‘Punch a Zionist.’

BREAKING: Major Blow to Obamacare Mandate: IRS Won’t Reject Tax Returns That Don’t Answer Health Insurance Question. “As of last year, filers were required to indicate whether they had maintained coverage or paid the penalty by filling out line 61 on their form 1040s. Alternatively, they could claim exemption from the mandate by filing a form 8965. For most filers, filling out line 61 was mandatory. The IRS would not accept 1040s unless the coverage box was checked, or the shared responsibility payment noted, or the exemption form included. Otherwise they would be labeled ‘silent returns’ and rejected. This year, however, filling out that line is optional.”

ANDREW MALCOLM: Russia trains Iran as dominant military force as the U.S., well, warns again.

This all presents a growing threat to American allies and influence as Trump builds and gets his new administration up to speed in both foreign and domestic policies. But the president already faces a de facto axis of opposition power with Russia and Iran controlling Syria as a de facto client state.

Trump’s continuation of Obama’s drift there needs to change. The president meets this week with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and already conferred with Jordan’s King Abdullah on Feb. 2, in addition to numerous telephone consultations with other leaders.

Now would not be a good time to press Israel on some grand new Palestinian peace deal, and especially not to be seen doing so.

YEAH, THE FLYNN RESIGNATION’S AN EMBARRASSMENT, but Obama had his failed appointments, often tinged with scandal: “There’s Chas Freeman, Sanjay Gupta, Annette Nazareth, Tom Daschle, Bill Richardson, Nancy Killefer — who am I leaving out? And there are still problems with Adolfo Carrion. But at least Ron Kirk made it through despite his tax problems. . . . Oh, yeah. Judd Gregg. And the Zinni debacle.” I don’t recall the press acting like that was the beginning of the end for Obama’s presidency.

BYRON YORK: Time for Trump to hit campaign trail.

At the moment Trump is in what might be called the executive-action phase of his presidency. Beyond fighting for his Cabinet appointments on Capitol Hill, everything Trump has done has relied solely on his executive power as president. At some point he’ll have to move into a legislative phase, with the introduction of bills dealing with health care, taxes, immigration, and more.

But for now, Trump has a number of executive actions to point to: orders to 1) reduce the regulatory burdens of Obamacare; 2) freeze federal hiring; 3) pull the United States out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership; 4) approve the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines; 5) strengthen enforcement of the nation’s immigration laws; 6) authorize planning for a U.S.-Mexico border wall; 7) tighten White House ethics rules; 8) reduce the number of federal regulations; 9) weaken Dodd-Frank financial regulations; and 10) temporarily suspend immigration from some terrorism-plagued nations.

It’s a pretty solid list. The last, called a “Muslim ban” by detractors, has attracted the most attention — and litigation. But each item on Trump’s list would be worth a White House rollout and promotion campaign.

Instead, Trump threw them out in a firehose of appearances, tweets, and controversy. And Trump regularly distracted from his own message by doing something to set off what might be called the Daily Agitation — the frenzy of media and opposition politicians reacting to whatever the president has said most recently.

The “frenzy” had the advantage of keeping his opponents one step behind, at least initially. But opposition has been solidifying, particularly the town hall protests against ObamaCare repeal. Yes, they’re largely astroturf, but Congress does appear to be going all wobbly.

A counter-“resistance” will be most effective if it includes a grassroots, Tea Party-type element to stand in contrast to Soros-funded street thugs. But the counter-resistance can’t be effective at all without Trump making good use of the bully pulpit, too. That’s going to require the White House to run more smoothly than we’ve seen so far, and for Trump to adopt more consistent messaging, but it’s also the fun part of being president — and would take good advantage of Trump’s campaign-trail flair.

Trump won in large part because he was the fun candidate, opposed to Hillary Clinton’s dour sense of entitlement. He can still use the Fun Element to his advantage now that he’s the President.

OUT LIKE FLYNN: The Political Assassination of Michael Flynn.

Eli Lake:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ALSO:

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

“WE?” We Are Already Struggling to Keep Outrage Alive in the Age of Trump.

Yes, I’m aware that Barack Obama broke norms when he attacked the Supreme Court during his State of the Union speech in 2010. I thought then — and still do — that this was outrageous. But Trump’s remarks are worse. Suggesting that a judge who rules against the president lacks legitimacy in his judicial function profoundly undermines not only the Constitution, but the centuries of common-law tradition that preceded it. Anyone who wants to defend Trump by reference to Obama’s transgressions may imagine me saying, in your mother’s voice, “Two wrongs don’t make a right.”

No, but the different treatment of two wrongs reveals hypocrisy.

WELL, YES: Don’t expect the media to fact check any sketches painting President Trump in a bad light. Reporters are too busy cheering them on.

I’d forgotten that the media used to “fact-check” SNL skits making fun of Barack Obama.

DEMS IN DISARRAY: Hispanics are split in DNC race.

Latino Democrats are splitting their vote for Democratic National Committee chair, with 10 days to go until the election.

While former Labor Secretary Tom Perez is a leading contender for the race, many liberal Latinos are backing his main rival, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.).

“Obviously, as a Latina I’m interested in creating greater opportunities of representation for all people of color,” said Melissa Mark-Viverito, the New York City Council speaker who is backing Ellison.

“I do promote Latino candidates, but there should never be the assumption that one automatically supports a Latino candidate,” she added.

Perez has received top-level endorsements, including from former Vice President Joe Biden — an indication of support from former President Barack Obama.

But Ellison has attracted a large swath of the progressive wing of the party. And some major players are switching sides.

If you’re Hispanic, what does Ellison’s Black-Muslim-LGBTQ alliance have to offer you?

FINALLY, SOME GOOD NEWS: Older Judges and Vacant Seats Give Trump Huge Power to Shape American Courts.

There are 870 Article III federal court judgeships, the vast majority on district courts or appeals courts like the one that recently upheld a halt on Mr. Trump’s immigration ban. These judges are appointed by the president and serve a lifetime term. (A few federal judges are appointed for limited terms.)

After Jimmy Carter took office, Congress established 152 new federal judgeships, expanding the federal judiciary by nearly 30 percent and allowing Mr. Carter to stack the federal courts despite a presidency that lasted only one term.

Mr. Trump, through a combination of demography and a growing number of vacancies, stands to enjoy a similar windfall. Democrats have long accused Republican Senate leaders of obstruction in not allowing many of the previous administration’s judicial nominees to come to a vote. The most prominent example was the refusal to vote on Judge Merrick Garland’s nomination to the Supreme Court, but the tactic extended to Mr. Obama’s lower court nominees as well.

“Right off the bat, Republicans refused to approve anyone,” said Nan Aron, president of the liberal group Alliance for Justice. “So you know how important this is to the Republican Party.” Currently, 112 of the 870 authorized judgeships with lifetime appointments remain vacant — 33 have been vacant for more than two years.

Damn right it’s important. And if the Gorsuch nomination is any indicator, the Constitution could be ripe for a big comeback.

THE HILL: Right set to fight back on town hall protests.

For the past three weeks, Democratic protesters have swarmed Republican town hall events across the country, booing, shouting down and trying to embarrass GOP lawmakers seeking to gut ObamaCare.

In the coming weeks, grassroots conservatives will be fighting back.

FreedomWorks, the Tea Party-aligned outside group, beginning next month will be organizing rallies and urging its nearly 6 million activists to turn out at town hall events to ensure members of Congress are also getting an earful from ObamaCare detractors.

“There will be more grassroots hand-to-hand combat than we’ve seen in Washington for a long time,” FreedomWorks President and CEO Adam Brandon said Monday during an interview in his office near the Capitol.

“The conservative [lawmakers], they need to see us out there pushing. And if they see that, they’ll be bold,” he continued. “If they don’t see grassroots there on the ground, they’ll start slipping.”

FreedomWorks will stage an ObamaCare repeal rally on Capitol Hill on March 15 with speeches from Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and other top conservative allies.

From there, activists will descend upon congressional offices to press lawmakers to move quickly on ObamaCare. FreedomWorks officials are rallying behind a longshot replacement bill authored by Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) that would eliminate many central elements of President Obama’s healthcare law, including the mandate that every American has coverage.

The so-called “Day of Action” will be followed by a phone-call campaign to lawmakers’ offices, plus rallies in targeted congressional districts across the country.

Punch back twice as hard, as our Lightworker former president said.

FAKE NEWS: More mainstream media mess-ups: The Muslim Olympian ‘detained because of President Trump’s travel ban’ was actually detained under Obama.

The Daily Mail said of the incident that it, “comes after Donald Trump signed an executive order – currently suspended – banning travel from seven largely Muslim countries causing chaos in US airports.”

“U.S. Olympian Ibtihaj Muhammad being detained illustrates why Trump’s Muslim ban is not who we are as Americans,” read the headline to an article published by the New York Daily News.

The Hill published an article whose opening paragraph read, “A Muslim-American Olympic medalist says she was detained by Customs for nearly two hours without explanation after President Trump’s travel ban was instituted a few weeks ago.”

Sports Illustrated and ESPN published stories whose entire purpose was to tie Muhammad’s customs tale to Trump’s immigration order, though the reports don’t come right out and say it.

Journalists reacted to the story on social media with the usual mixture of despair and outrage.

The problem with this particular news cycle, however, is that the alleged detaining apparently occurred in December, before Trump had even been sworn in as America’s 45th president.

And the press wonders why people trust it less than Trump.

PRIORITIES: California spent on high-speed rail and illegal immigrants, but ignored Oroville Dam:

Reinforcing the Oroville Dam was not included on Mr. Brown’s $100 billion wish list of projects prepared last month at the request of the National Governors Association in response to Mr. Trump’s call for $1 trillion in infrastructure improvements, CNBC reported.

One project that did make the list: California high-speed rail, a pet project of Mr. Brown’s with an estimated price tag of $100 billion that has become for state Republicans a symbol of out-of-control government spending.

During their flight from reality in the post-Clinton years, elite California lefties bragged they were “dam busters”; in the early days of Obama’s administration, his then-Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Interior Deanna Archuleta, promised the enviro-faithful, “You will never see another federal dam” — and maintenance on state-run projects was apparently out as well. Like the famous Monty Python architectural sketch, Sacramento seemed to consider magical thinking as sufficient to prop them up.

STATUS ANXIETY: Mainstream media whines as Trump calls on less established news outlets. Best bit: “To be fair, the previous WH also handpicked reporters. But it was very different than this.” Obama handpicked the right reporters.

THIS IS WHY THEY THOUGHT THE TEA PARTY WAS ASTROTURF. BECAUSE THAT’S HOW THEY OPERATE. ‘Indivisible,’ With Ties to George Soros, Sows Division Against Trump, GOP Lawmakers. “Democrats who used to work on Capitol Hill are helping to disrupt Republican lawmakers’ town hall meetings across the country through a nationwide effort to oppose and ‘resist’ President Donald Trump’s agenda.”

And nothing says “authentic grassroots movement” like this pedigree:

Ezra Levin, a former staffer for Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas, and his wife, Leah Greenberg, are the president and vice president of the Indivisible Guide’s board, respectively.

Levin is also associate director of the Corporation for Enterprise Development, an anti-poverty nonprofit. Melissa Bradley, who sits on that group’s board, previously worked for Green for All, a group founded by liberal commentator and former Obama administration official Van Jones. She was appointed as a Soros Justice Fellow through the Open Society Foundations, which Soros founded.

Greenberg previously worked for Humanity United, which is funded by Soros’ Open Society Institute.

The secretary of Indivisible Guide, Angel Padilla, works for the National Immigration Law Center, which is funded by Soros through his Open Society Foundations. And treasurer Matt Traidi is the research team director for the Service Employees International Union, a major donor to and endorser of Democrat politicians, Capital Research Center notes.

As authentic as the Coffee Party, the Brownbaggers, The Other 95%, A New Way Forward, and the One Nation Movement.

REVENGE OF THE CRONIES? Trump rumored to be preparing to resurrect the Ex-Im Bank.

The word on the hill is that Donald Trump has been listening to some voices among the Democrats and has been “convinced” that the bank should resume operations. (Government Executive)

Long criticized by Republicans as an agency dispensing “corporate welfare,” the Export-Import Bank on Thursday got some good news after two senators reported that President Trump is abandoning his campaign-trail position that the bank must die.

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., announced that Trump “agreed with her on the need to get the Export-Import Bank up and running and said he will soon nominate someone to serve on the Export-Import Bank Board.”

The five-member board has been below quorum for a year because former Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee Chairman Richard Shelby, R-Ala., had blocked consideration of all of President Obama’s nominees to the bank.

You may recall that on the campaign trail Donald Trump stated unequivocally that he was an opponent of the bank’s continued operation. And that wasn’t just a campaign promise made to win votes. As recently as December he was still saying that the banks days were probably numbered. So why the change now?

As you might have been able to guess, Boeing likely played a large part in the decision. Current reports indicate that Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp was whispering in Trump’s ear but he was also in talks with executives from Boeing. As we’ve long known, the airline giant is one of the largest beneficiaries of the bank’s peculiar form of corporate welfare. Coming from a big business background and being used to making deals of this magnitude, we probably shouldn’t be terribly surprised if Boeing found someone able to speak a common language with the president and convince him that the art of the deal should go their way this time.

Disappointing, if this pans out.

YES. NEXT QUESTION? Were Comedians Cowards During the Obama Years?

Just think of them as Democrat operatives with punchlines, and it all makes sense.

ANDREW SULLIVAN: TRUMP MIGHT BE ‘MENTALLY UNSTABLE:’ “Sullivan was the leading figure in a conspiracy theory about Sarah Palin. That view, known as Trig trutherism, maintained that Palin was such a despicable character that she even lied about giving birth to her own child. Sullivan always claimed he was just asking reasonable questions about the birth, but the real world result was to turn a woman’s special needs child into a political weapon against her. Granted he hasn’t dragged Trump’s children into it (so far), but the attempt to fundamentally dehumanize a politician by claiming they are acting beyond the edge of normal behavior is similar. This is an attempt to kick off a new strain of Trump trutherism and CNN is complicit in giving this garbage air time.”

To be fair, not every Republican can be as conservative as John Kerry and Barack Obama. And note this: “A bit later [Sullivan] switches to another analogy involving living under an autocratic government.”

You mean like in 2007, when eschewing the by-then de rigueur Bush=Hitler analogies by his fellow leftists, Sullivan equated George W. Bush to Paul von Hindenburg?

FROM JOEL KOTKIN, AN IDEA SO CRAZY IT JUST MIGHT WORK: Decentralize government to resolve country’s divisions.

America is increasingly a nation haunted by fears of looming dictatorship. Whether under President Barack Obama’s “pen and phone” rule by decree, or its counterpoint, the madcap Twitter rule of our current chief executive, one part of the country, and society, always feels mortally threatened by whoever occupies the Oval Office.

Given this worsening divide, perhaps the only reasonable solution is to move away from elected kings and toward early concepts of the republic, granting far more leeway to states, local areas and families to rule themselves. Democrats, as liberal thinker Ross Baker suggests, may “own” the D.C. “swamp,” but they are beginning to change their tune in the age of Trump. Even dutiful cheerleaders for Barack Obama’s imperial presidency, such as the New Yorker, are now embracing states’ rights.

As in the antebellum period, American politics sadly reflects two increasingly antagonistic nations. One can be described as a primarily urban, elite-driven, ethnically diverse country that embraces a sense of inevitable triumphalism. The other America, rooted more in the past, thrives in the smaller towns and cities, as well as large swaths of suburbia. Sometimes whiter, the suburbs are both more egalitarian and less reflexively socially liberal.

This division worsened in the Obama era, whose city-centric approach all but ignored the interests of the resource-producing regions of the country, as well as the South. In contrast, under Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, Democrats were joyously competitive in these areas, assuring that the party was truly diverse, rather than simply the lap dog of the littoral constituencies.

With the GOP now in control of Washington, the coastal areas are becoming, to paraphrase President Obama, the new clingers, whether on the environment, racial redress or gender-related issues. Now they fear, with good reason, that the very administrative state they so eagerly embraced could come back to undermine their agenda even at the local level.

The problem is, I don’t think the blue states have “learned their lesson” about big government. They’re still all for it, and will happily wield it against the Deplorable Classes whenever they manage to get back in control. Unless you can do something about that, I don’t think you can successfully sell limited government. Maybe a constitutional convention could do something.

JOHN FUND: Washington Is Out to Get Steve Bannon. “NYT smear logic: If you mention the name of a fascist, just once, you must support fascism.” Plus:

In 2009, President Obama’s White House communications director, Anita Dunn, sought to restrict Fox News’ access to the White House. She even said, “We’re going to treat them the way we would treat an opponent.” The media’s outrage over that remark was restrained, to say the least.

All the people who tell me that Trump is impulsive, dishonest, and ignorant would have a stronger case if they weren’t constantly displaying impulsiveness, dishonesty, and ignorance themselves.

MICHAEL WALSH: Obama Bureaucrats Disconsolate Over Regulation Repeal.

I can’t seem to find my sad face.

SALENA ZITO: Trump attack on judge hardly unprecedented. FDR, LBJ and Obama did the same.

It’s tough to digest the outrage from reporters or politicians who claim something “never happened before in our history” when such statements lack any hint of historical perspective, any intellectual curiosity to discover if something truly is unprecedented.

It has become a common problem, this reacting in the arrogance of the moment rather than trying to understand how our system has worked for more than 200 years.

In short, we should step back and learn American history, people.

That would interfere with the outrage-fest. Also, nothing’s ever a threat to the Constitution if a Democrat does it.

TO BORK OR NOT TO BORK: The Old Fight That Shows Democrats Why, and How, to Stop Gorsuch.

Julian Zelizer:

Today Judge Neil Gorsuch’s supporters are warning that the Democrats should not “Bork” President Trump’s nominee. Given Gorsuch’s stellar professional record, his competence does not seem to be in question. At least from the leaked remarks about his meeting with Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal, he appears to have a healthy unease with President Trump’s aggressive statements about the judiciary.

But there are many reasons for Democrats to consider using their power to filibuster his nomination. After Republicans refused to confirm former President Obama’s nominee Merrick Garland—leaving many Democrats to feel like this is a “stolen seat”—the president could have sent a consensus nominee.

After having lost the popular election by large numbers and now stimulating fears that he won’t respect our system of checks and balances, this was the moment to demonstrate that he understands the tensions he’s helped create. Rather than a pick intended to please the right, he could have selected someone who Democrats could have felt good about supporting even if it came from this administration.

Anyone arguing that the “popular election” means anything or that there’s some requirement that the President has a responsibility to make opposition party members “feel good,” might want to refrain from writing about constitutional issues.

I DON’T THINK MANY TRUMP VOTERS WILL BE MOVED BY THIS STORY AS THE NY TIMES INTENDS: ‘A Sense of Dread’ for Civil Servants Shaken by Trump Transition. I’m not so sure Albert Gallatin would be as upset as career GS types. But really, one would need a heart of stone not to laugh at this:

“It’s almost a sense of dread, as in, what will happen to us,” said Gabrielle Martin, a trial lawyer and 30-year veteran at the Denver office of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, where colleagues now share daily, grim predictions about the fate of their jobs under Mr. Trump’s leadership.

“It’s like the movie music when the shark is coming,” Ms. Martin said, referring to “Jaws,” the 1975 thriller. “People are just wary — is the shark going to come up out of the water?”

This article is based on interviews around the country with more than three dozen current and recently departed federal employees from the Internal Revenue Service; the Pentagon; the Environmental Protection Agency; the Justice and Treasury Departments; the Departments of Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs, and Housing and Urban Development; and other parts of the government. They reveal a federal work force that is more fundamentally shaken than usual by the uncertainties that follow a presidential transition from one party to the other.

Federal workers are more likely to be Democrats, according to surveys. But partisanship and ideology explain only some of the intense feelings among workers, many of whom have seen Democrats and Republicans in the White House come and go.

Well, there’s also class-identification and overall smugness. But stuff like this makes serious civil service reform more likely to take place:

At the Environmental Protection Agency, a group of scientists strategized this past week about how to slow-walk President Trump’s environmental orders without being fired.

At the Treasury Department, civil servants are quietly gathering information about whistle-blower protections as they polish their résumés.

At the United States Digital Service — the youthful cadre of employees who left jobs at Google, Facebook or Microsoft to join the Obama administration — workers are debating how to stop Mr. Trump should he want to use the databases they made more efficient to target specific immigrant groups.

Just imagine how differently the New York Times would have played a story about federal employees planning to resist Obama initiatives. But it is more support for my theory that if you want checks and balances, you need a white, male Republican in the White House!

UPDATE: Flashback: Washington’s ‘governing elite’ think Americans are morons. And now they’re scared and unhappy that Americans are returning the sentiment.

FEMINISM IS ONLY ABOUT RESISTING DOMINATION BY WESTERN MEN: Walk of shame: Sweden’s “first feminist government” don hijabs in Iran.

They’re only doing this because they want a piece of the money that Obama sent to Iran.

PAUL SPERRY: How Obama is scheming to sabotage Trump’s presidency.

In what’s shaping up to be a highly unusual post-presidency, Obama isn’t just staying behind in Washington. He’s working behind the scenes to set up what will effectively be a shadow government to not only protect his threatened legacy, but to sabotage the incoming administration and its popular “America First” agenda.

He’s doing it through a network of leftist nonprofits led by Organizing for Action. Normally you’d expect an organization set up to support a politician and his agenda to close up shop after that candidate leaves office, but not Obama’s OFA. Rather, it’s gearing up for battle, with a growing war chest and more than 250 offices across the country.

Since Donald Trump’s election, this little-known but well-funded protesting arm has beefed up staff and ramped up recruitment of young liberal activists, declaring on its website, “We’re not backing down.” Determined to salvage Obama’s legacy,” it’s drawing battle lines on immigration, ObamaCare, race relations and climate change.

Obama is intimately involved in OFA operations and even tweets from the group’s account. In fact, he gave marching orders to OFA foot soldiers following Trump’s upset victory.

If they actually had the American public on their side, the “Progressive” Left wouldn’t have lost the House, the Senate, and now the White House.

EIGHT YEARS AGO, ON INSTAPUNDIT:

TOM BLUMER on when the recession started, and why. “What Mr. Obama ‘somehow’ forgot to tell us is that almost 1.8 million of those seasonally adjusted job losses have occurred since his election, when his non-stop economic no-confidence game went into high gear, and that 2.8 million jobs have gone away during the seven months that began in July 2008, the first full month of the POR (Pelosi-Obama-Reid) economy.” Hmm. I don’t think that Obama’s doomsaying — designed to gin up fear to pass the pork-laden “stimulus” bill — did any good, but the economic downturn seems to be a global phenomenon, one that’s actually worse elsewhere than here. But look at the numbers and make up your own mind.

Indeed.

SPIRO AGNEW’S MEDIA LEGACY: TRUMP, OBAMA AND TIME MAGAZINE:

What Spiro Agnew accomplished with that speech in Des Moines was to quite openly and publicly turn the tables on the mainstream media by casting doubt on their ability to tell the truth in an unbiased fashion. From that moment on, the media – television networks and newspapers and magazines all — found their credibility increasingly under assault. This before Fox News and talk radio — and the Media Research Center — were even a gleam in the conservative eye.

* * * * * * * *

The difference this time? The difference is that the Trump White House — led by the President himself — is forcefully fighting back. Directly and routinely singling out various outlets and questioning everything from the accuracy of specific facts to the reporting of specific reporters.

How will this end? The betting here is that it won’t end. For the duration of the Trump White House the media writ large and writ small is going to be given what might be called “extreme vetting” by this White House. There will be an endless back and forth between president and press that once upon a time would have been unthinkable.

Good. Far better to fight back than to simply allow yourself to be pummeled endlessly by the DNC-MSM as George W. Bush did.

DON’T GO WOBBLY NOW, MITCH: Is GOP Wavering on Obamacare Repeal?

INVESTOR’S BUSINESS DAILY: Democrats Are Losing Their War With Trump:

Leaders in the Democratic Party probably should have thought twice before deciding to mount a scorched-earth campaign against President Trump. So far, they’ve failed to stop any of Trump’s picks, or gain public support for their cause. They have, however, succeeded in making themselves look unhinged.

As we write this, not a single Trump Cabinet pick has withdrawn or failed to secure confirmation, which puts him well ahead of President Obama, who was forced to withdraw several of his initial appointments due to scandals. That included Tom Daschle, Obama’s pick for Health and Human Services, who’d failed to pay taxes, and his Commerce pick, Bill Richardson, who was being investigated for allegedly doling out government contracts in exchange for campaign contributions while governor of New Mexico.

The best Democrats have been able to accomplish was to force Vice President Pence to cast the tiebreaking vote to confirm Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

They’ve also failed to convince a majority — or even a plurality — of the public to oppose any of Trump’s executive orders, according to a Morning Consult/Politico poll, which asked about 11 of his most controversial ones.

In fact, the orders Democrats invested the most time and energy in attacking get the strongest public support.

Fully 55% approve of Trump’s executive order putting a temporary hold on visas and refugees from terror-prone countries. Only 38% disapprove it. (The IBD/TIPP poll found that 51% support Trump’s order on refugees.) The same share approves of Trump’s order to revoke funding for sanctuary cities. A majority (54%) also back Trump’s call to freeze all federal regulations.

This is a stunning failure on the part of Democrats to sway public opinion, despite having the full support of sign-wielding activists, several corporate executives, most celebrities and the entire mainstream press.

As for the press, their unrelenting campaign against Trump — and their determination to label just about everything he says as a lie — has backfired as well. An Emerson College poll found that the public views the Trump administration as more truthful than the news media, with 48% saying Trump is truthful, compared with only 39% who say the media are being truthful.

Reasonableness and self-control will take you a long way. If you possess them to begin with.

GREEN WEENIE OF THE WEEK: GINA MCCARTHY. “Even though she’s out of office, she’s still eligible. And she wins because while she insistently denied that the Obama administration was hostile to coal, some sharp-eyed photographer caught the Sierra Club ‘Coal Sucks’ poster among her office possessions being packed up.”

NEW YORK TIMES: Trump’s Iran Policy Is Working.

The New York Times may not like to openly admit to admiring President Trump’s Iran policy, but its latest dispatch from Tehran shows how his combative approach is already causing headaches for Iran’s leaders. . . .

It sure looks like Trump’s policy of turning up the heat on Iran is causing problems for the Iranian government—and, indirectly, confirming critics of the Iran deal who argued that its effect was to make it easier for the mullahs to keep power at home, even as they stepped up Iranian aggression abroad.

Taking a tough posture toward Iran has been one of Trump’s most clear-cut priorities since assuming office; in many ways, he has more clearly laid the groundwork for confronting Iran than Sunni jihadists like ISIS. By putting Iran “on notice” after its latest missile launch, imposing new sanctions, calling out Iranian proxies in Yemen, and questioning the future of the nuclear deal, Trump is signaling that the Obama era is over and that the Iranians can expect forceful pushback, not conciliation, when they challenge U.S. interests.

Despite the risks, picking an early fight with Iran does make some strategic sense for Trump. Of the three main revisionist powers who have gained ground under the Obama administration, Iran is clearly the weakest and most overextended. By coming out swinging against Iran, Trump is stoking fears of unpredictable escalation to make the Iranians back down from further provocations, while sending a signal to other challengers that it is unwise to test the new administration.

Well, stay tuned.

HMM: National security adviser Flynn discussed sanctions with Russian ambassador, despite denials, officials say. “The emerging details contradict public statements by incoming senior administration officials including Mike Pence, then the vice president-elect. They acknowledged only a handful of text messages and calls exchanged between Flynn and Kislyak late last year and denied that either ever raised the subject of sanctions.”

That sounds bad, but: “Prominent Americans in and out of government are so frequently in communication with foreign officials that singling out one individual — particularly one poised for a top White House job — would invite charges of political persecution. Former U.S. officials also said aggressive enforcement would probably discourage appropriate contact. Michael McFaul, who served as U.S. ambassador to Russia during the Obama administration, said that he was in Moscow meeting with officials in the weeks leading up to Obama’s 2008 election win.”

Stay tuned.

WELL, YES: Obamacare Exchanges Were in Big Trouble Before Trump.

As many readers will recall, 2016 brought hefty premium hikes to make up for years of losses on the exchanges. Going into this year’s open enrollment period, there seemed to be a significant risk that we’d see what economists call “adverse selection”: People who were getting good value out of their insurance (because they used a lot of services) would keep paying the premiums, even if they grumbled a bit, but people who didn’t use a lot of health care would decide that at those prices, they might as well go uninsured. When those people exited the market, the average cost to cover each person remaining in the pool would be higher … and insurers still wouldn’t make money, forcing them to raise premiums again next year. This process is known as the “adverse selection death spiral.”

December’s numbers seemed to indicate that people were still willing to buy insurance at the new, higher prices. January’s numbers suggest that maybe they aren’t. Most worryingly, young people, who don’t worry that much about the health insurance they rarely use, tend to sign up fairly late in the game, so a rise in December and a decline in January means that the pool could end up substantially older and sicker than last year’s.

That has been the trend from the start.

And:

You can argue that the problem was not the advertising, but the fact that the Trump administration was obviously against Obamacare. And I suppose that’s possible — except that Trump won in November, so how come people only reacted in late January? It’s not as if it was exactly a secret that Republicans wanted to repeal the thing. Nor do I find it plausible that potential customers were following the play-by-play of fiddling changes to health care policy during the last 10 days of the month — in part because the news was completely dominated by other things, but mostly because I’ve never seen evidence that these consumers were following this sort of deep-in-the-weeds wonkplay at any time in the history of the program.

Besides, there’s another mechanism that’s just as plausible: Young and healthy people tend to sign up late, and young and healthy people are the ones who are most likely to have balked at higher premiums.

The ObamaCare exchanges are a great deal for people too old or sick to be insurable anywhere else. For everyone else, not even the certainty of paying a penalty (“It’s a tax!”) and the risk of going without insurance makes them a good deal.

The failure was baked in at the start.

OUT ON A LIMB: The Obama Presidency Was Bad.

We’re already caught up in how terrible the Trump presidency is, but over the next four years, it will be important to remember just how bad the Obama presidency was. When overcome with frustration at the current administration, I would urge readers to come back to this post and remember that the last president was also quite terrible. In his farewell speech, Obama tried to make the argument for his presidency’s accomplishments, but many of them were simply court cases that were decided while he was president, or decisions that were nice but had little real policy impact.

There have been plenty of reflections on the Obama presidency, but I think a high level overview of everything Obama did would put in perspective just how awful he’s been, especially as we experience the incompetency and horrible policy decisions of the current administration.

Read the whole thing.

THE RESISTANCE: Obama’s Attorney General honors Sally Yates in tweet celebrating appeals court ruling.

FACT-CHECKING THE WASHINGTON POST, AND IT’S NOT PRETTY: Fact Check: Obama Is Not Good at Kite Surfing, Any Sport. The Obama video is especially not pretty. And they don’t even include his infamous weight-training video.

Plus, kudos to the Free Beacon’s Elizabeth Harrington for a perfect send-up of the WaPo Fact-checkers’ self-satisfied style:

The Pinocchio Test

The Washington Post claims Obama is “pretty good at basketball” and “makes [the] rest of us look bad with his effortless kitesurfing.” But there is little evidence either claim is true.

A substantial amount of video footage exists disproving their claim that Obama is “not just a one-sport athlete.” Moreover, the record shows Obama is not even a one-sport athlete as he has proven to be terrible at basketball, baseball, bowling, and now kitesurfing.

It’s one thing to write about Obama’s life after the White House, but the Washington Post goes too far in declaring Obama to be athletic. Not only does the Post make this outrageous claim, they also seek to demean their own readers by saying the American people “look bad” because of Obama’s athletic ability. We award Four Pinocchios.

Spot-on.

JOE PAPPALARDO: Inside A Stealth Bomber Strike Against ISIS.

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

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

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

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

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

IT DID SO WITH ENCOURAGEMENT FROM THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION: The Campus Left Grew More Radical During the Obama Years.

In recent years, according to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, the number of speech codes has declined, but new means of silencing provocative speech have emerged. Among them: “Disinvitation attempts,” or protests pressuring campus administrations to bar unpopular political figures from coming to campus after they had been invited to speak to a graduating class or student group (or drive them from campus once they have arrived).

Heterodox Academy, a non-partisan group of faculty dedicated to preserving viewpoint diversity in academia, has produced data about the frequency of such instances over the last 16 years. Their key findings: Efforts to bar speakers from campus appear to be on the upswing, and, since the beginning of the Obama years, it has been the campus Left that has been doing most of the disinviting.

Why the surge in left-wing activity since 2009? One possible factor is that the Obama administration’s Office for Civil Rights in Education has gone all-in for the activists, pursuing a hard-line interpretation of Title IX and rarely even playing lip service to freedom of speech. So the campus Left felt, correctly, that the federal government had its back.

Well, I think that’s changed. And I hope that Attorney General Sessions will prosecute conspiracies to deprive people of their constitutional rights to the full extent of the law.

CHANGE: Trump presidency heralds new era of closer ties with Egypt.

Friendly phone calls, an invite to the White House, a focus on Islamic militancy and what Donald Trump called “chemistry” have set the tone for a new era of warmer U.S.-Egyptian ties that could herald more military and political support for Cairo.

The mutual admiration dates back to a U.N. meeting in September, when then-presidential candidate Trump found common ground with President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s hard line on extremism. Trump described the ex-general, who rights groups criticize as authoritarian and repressive, as a “fantastic guy”.

Sisi, the first foreign leader to congratulate Trump on his election victory, returned the favor last month after the newly inaugurated president barred citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States.

Egypt, not on the list, refrained from speaking out against the ban on behalf of Muslim countries that often look to it for leadership. That silence spoke volumes about the changing tone of its relationship with the United States.

I keep reading that Trump is the bull in an international china shop, but it was Obama who blundered around Egypt, searching for a foreign policy there, annoying/disappointing/angering everyone in the process, before finally settling on the terrorist-loving and anti-American Muslim Brotherhood (since deposed) as his preferred Egyptian government.

WILL BAUDE: Quick reactions to the 9th Circuit’s decision in Washington v. Trump.

Related: Did the NYT talk about “the Quiet Grandeur of the Courts” when decisions went against President Obama? “And I do judge the district judge for his failure to provide a decent written explanation for his activism.”

OF COURSE IT DOES: Gravy Train Flows Wide And Deep At Elizabeth Warren’s Consumer Agency.

The Senate majority and minority leaders are paid $193,000 annually. Two hundred and one CFPB employees outdo Sens. Mitch McConnell and Charles Schumer in pay.

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan of Wisconsin receives $223,000 per year, but that’s less than what 54 CFPB employees are paid.

Another 170 CFPB employees earn more than the secretaries of defense and state, the attorney general and the director of national intelligence. All cabinet salaries are capped at $199,700, but not at the bureau. Thirty-nine CFPB employees earn more than the $230,000 paid to Vice President Mike Pence.

A total of 198 CFPB employees also earn more than their ultimate boss, Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellin, who is paid $201,700.

Overall, 449 CFPB employees get at least $100,000 per year and 228 CFPB are paid more than $200,000, according to publicly available 2016 data.

These findings are part of a Daily Caller News Foundation Investigative Group salary analysis for the consumer agency that was founded by Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and then-President Barack Obama in 2011. The agency was created under the Dodd-Frank Act to serve as a consumer agency protecting the poor against financial fraud.

You can’t make an omelet without slushing a few funds.

FLASHBACK: 100 percent of Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s donations went to Democrats.

AS EVEN THE NYT ADMITS, THE CASE FOR DOING SO IS PRETTY STRONG: White House Weighs Terrorist Designation for Muslim Brotherhood.

President Barack Obama long resisted pressure to declare it a terrorist organization.

But the Brotherhood calls for a society governed by Islamic law, and some of its former members and offshoots — most notably Hamas, the Palestinian group whose stated goal is the destruction of Israel — have been tied to attacks. Some advisers to Mr. Trump have viewed the Brotherhood for years as a radical faction secretly infiltrating the United States to promote Shariah law. They see the order as an opportunity to finally take action against it. . . .

The proposal to declare it a terrorist organization has been paired with a plan to similarly designate Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, according to current and former officials briefed on the deliberations. Leaders of the corps and its Quds Force unit have already been put on a government terrorist list, but Republicans have advocated adding the corps itself to send a message to Iran.

Well, they’re both terrorist organizations, so calling them such isn’t much of a stretch.

Of course, the usual suspects object: “Among those objecting is the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which describes itself as the largest Muslim civil rights organization in the United States.”

It describes itself that way, but how many members does it actually have? The story, as usual, doesn’t say. But last I heard their membership was minuscule. “For a group that only has 1,700 members, it has an inordinate amount of political clout.”

But then, “If CAIR agitated for gun rights, or against abortion, its membership and funding would get a lot more scrutiny.”

MORNING CONSULT: Poll: Trump’s travel ban enjoys majority support, 55/38. But his approval rating is dropping. I wonder if he’ll be the opposite of Obama, who always polled better than his policies did.

THANKS, OBAMA: 95% of Brigade Combat Teams Unprepared to Fight Immediately.

ARE WE FACING A POST-TRUMP GUN SLUMP? Trump’s a better salesman than Obama. But nobody’s a better gun salesman than Obama.

But if you want to buy ammo, check out my former students’ company, LuckyGunner.com. The prices are good and the service is great.

REGULATORY CAPTURE: Fixing the Federal Policy on E-Cigs Will Save Lives.

Unless something changes soon, the doomsday clock will strike midnight on the e-cigarette industry. Thanks to regulations finalized in August 2016 by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), manufacturers of e-cigarettes and nicotine vapor products now have less than two years to complete an expensive and arduous application process to keep their products on the market. Unable to shoulder the costs, many mom and pop vape shops are already starting to shutter. Thousands more are likely to close soon.

Meanwhile, smokers and former smokers who rely on e-cigarettes as smoking-cessation tools or lower-risk alternatives will soon encounter limited options and increased costs. In all likelihood, many probably will be driven back to combustible cigarettes. This would be a real shame, since e-cigarettes are at least 95 percent less harmful than combustible alternatives and smoking-related illness is a leading cause of preventable death in America.

These Obama-era FDA regs are about collecting tax revenue and protecting established players in the nicotine-delivery business (AKA, Big Tobacco).

MEGAN MCARDLE: Abortion And The Rise Of Extremism.

But when the Supreme Court exempted abortion from the legislative process, it also exempted political figures — and voters — from having to actually think through what abortion law should look like. The legislative action moved to secondary and tertiary and quaternary issues: spousal and parental notification, health code standards for clinics, whether the federal government should give any funding to organizations that performed abortions, even if the money was tied to some other activity the government wanted to promote.

When a court has precluded making actual policy, talk is cheap and extreme opinions abound. Placing the question of abortion beyond normal politics allowed voters and politicians to declare themselves to be for “life” or “choice” while rarely thinking hard about which choices should be made about which lives, and by whom. If conservatives got their wish and saw Roe struck down tomorrow, they would probably be surprised by how painful and unsatisfying they’d find the legislative process that followed. The pro-choice side, meanwhile, might discover that blue states weren’t quite as blue as they’d fancied, when legislators could no longer justify later-term abortions on the grounds that the Supreme Court had left them no choice.

But is repealing ObamaCare really the same kind of thing?

KEVIN WILLIAMSON: Why Did The Dems Go To The Mattresses Over DeVos, Rather Than Sessions or Tillerson? It’s About The Money.

During the 2008 Democratic primary, Obama gave an off-the-record speech to a group of Wall Street financial executives in which he shared his frustration with the sclerotic and bureaucratic state of American education, and declared that he was close to publicly endorsing a nationwide school-choice program. (This is according to one of those in attendance.) The moneymen were enthused by this, but nothing ever came of it. In fact, Obama went hard in the opposite direction, working to gut the school-choice program in Washington, D.C., a popular program, which benefited urban black families almost exclusively. You don’t have to be a hard-boiled cynic to suspect that this has to do with the manpower and money-power of the teachers’ unions, who could have done a great deal more than they did to elevate Hillary Rodham Clinton over Barack Obama that year.

Think about that: If you are the candidate of the Left running in the party of the Left, you could, in 2008, run against equal rights for gay people — but you could not, if you had any sense of self-preservation, run in favor of school choice.

Justice is one thing, but getting paid is the real issue. That probably explains why Betsy DeVos is getting the business and Jeff Sessions really isn’t.

And the hell with poor kids. Related: The Democratic party has lost its mind — and its soul. “Democrats claim to stand for the poor, immigrants and nonwhites. Yet given a chance to actually support someone who is dedicated to improving education for all America’s children, especially those trapped in urban failing schools, the Dems’ said no, hell no. . . . Trump has made rookie errors, but his resolve in picking DeVos and sticking with her proves he is deadly serious about fixing what’s broken in American education. What, pray tell, are Democrats serious about?”

Money and power.

JONATHAN RAUCH:

For this article, I set out to develop a list of telltales that the president is endangering the Constitution and threatening democracy. I failed. In fact, I concluded that there can be no such list, because many of the worrisome things that an antidemocratic president might do look just like things that other presidents have done. Use presidential power to bully corporations? Truman and Kennedy did that. Distort or exaggerate facts to initiate or escalate a war? Johnson and George W. Bush did that. Lie point-blank to the public? Eisenhower did that. Defy orders from the Supreme Court? Lincoln did that. Suspend habeas corpus? Lincoln did that, too. Spy on American activists? Kennedy and Johnson did that. Start wars at will, without congressional approval? Truman did that. Censor “disloyal” speech and fire “disloyal” civil servants? Wilson did that. Incarcerate U.S. citizens of foreign extraction? Franklin D. Roosevelt did that. Use shady schemes to circumvent congressional strictures? Reagan did that. Preempt Justice Department prosecutors? Obama did that. Assert sweeping powers to lock people up without trial or judicial review? George W. Bush did that. Declare an open-ended national emergency? Bush did that, and Obama continued it. Use regulatory authority aggressively and, according to the courts, sometimes illegally? Obama did that. Kill a U.S. citizen abroad? Obama did that, too. Grant favors to political friends, and make mischief for political enemies? All presidents do that.

But Rauch’s overall piece — about how “civil society” should rally to control Trump — is just more evidence in favor of my theory that if you want a President constrained by “civil society,” you need to elect a white, male Republican.

SCIENCE, UNSETTLED: Federal scientist cooked climate change books ahead of Obama presentation, whistle blower charges.

AS LIMBAUGH WAS SAYING THE OTHER DAY, IF TRUMP DOESN’T DELIVER ON THIS PROMISE THE BASE WILL CONSIDER HIM A FAILURE REGARDLESS OF WHAT ELSE HE DOES: Republicans begin to grumble: Why haven’t we repealed Obamacare yet?

“THAT’S NOT WHO WE ARE:”

The problem with this rhetorical line is that it implicitly undercuts itself. If close to half of America voted for Republicans in the Obama years and support Trump today, then clearly something besides the pieties of cosmopolitan liberalism is very much a part of who we are.

This self-undermining flaw makes the trope a useful way to grasp the dilemmas facing Trump’s opponents. In seeking to reject Trump’s chauvinist vision, they end up excluding too much of what a unifying counternarrative would require. . . .

But meanwhile for a great many Americans the older narrative still feels like the real history. They still see themselves more as settlers than as immigrants, identifying with the Pilgrims and the Founders, with Lewis and Clark and Davy Crockett and Laura Ingalls Wilder. They still embrace the Iliadic mythos that grew up around the Civil War, prefer the melting pot to multiculturalism, assume a Judeo-Christian civil religion rather the “spiritual but not religious” version.

Trump’s ascent is, in part, an attempt to restore their story to pre-eminence. It’s a restoration attempt that can’t succeed, because the country has changed too much, and because that national narrative required correction. The myth of the “Lost Cause” had to die, the reality of racial wrongs required more acknowledgment, the Judeo-Christian center had to make room for a larger plurality of faiths.

But so far we haven’t found a way to correct the story while honoring its full sweep — including all the white-male-Protestant-European protagonists to whom, for all their sins, we owe so much of our inheritance.

Well, Ross Douthat almost gets it.

THE FAKE NEWS PROBLEM, THEN AND NOW: At Tablet, James Kirchick explains “Why the left is also responsible for the proliferation of inaccurate information—and why the big beneficiary is Donald Trump:”

Now that Trump is in the White House, much of the media feels uninhibited in their campaign to destroy him, seeing the unprecedented nature of his presidency as license to get away with anything. Take Jonathan Weisman, deputy Washington editor of The New York Times. Since he was targeted by pro-Trump, anti-Semitic Twitter trolls last summer, Weisman—a man who is supposed to at least feign objectivity—has completely dropped any pretense of political independence. His own Twitter feed—like the feeds of a growing number of Times reporters—is a constant stream of anti-Trump invective indistinguishable from committed anti-Trump pundits like myself.

Why do I hold myself and Jonathan Weisman to such wildly differing standards? Because my job is to opine and provoke. His job is to accurately report on events, so that I know that the things I am reacting to are real, rather than the products of angry mass hallucinations or partisan messaging campaigns. By publicly refusing to do his job, he makes my job (and all our jobs as engaged citizens) much harder because I can’t reasonably trust that what I read in The New York Times is factual or based on good sourcing. Who in their right mind inside the Trump administration would talk to The New York Times, except to mislead the paper’s reporters and editors, by spinning them up or sending them off on wild goose chases that serve the administration’s own aims? How can I trust that what I read in the paper’s news columns isn’t hopelessly distorted by the angry bias evident in the social-media feeds of the paper’s editors and reporters? Much of the reporting on the Trump administration thus far seems to be so poorly sourced, riddled with caricature and negative wishful thinking as to be actively misleading, for all intents and purposes “fake news.” The beneficiary of the resulting confusion and hysteria is not The New York Times or its readers. It’s Donald Trump.

But Kirchick’s take doesn’t feel all that far removed from how left-leaning media critic Jack Shafer, then with the Washington Post-owned Slate described the state of the MSM in May of 2008, with an assist from the since-deceased Michael Crichton:

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

* * * * * * * *

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

* * * * * * * *

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

That was nearly decade ago, building on an article that Crichton wrote a quarter century ago. And yet things have only gotten exponentially worse for the media in the years since, passing through their quasi-religious hagiography of the Obama era along the way. Just think of the MSM as Democrat party operatives with bylines, and it all makes sense.

UPDATE: Mark Hemingway on “The Problem of Two Unreliable Narrators: Trump Versus the Media — When both the person in power and his critics are both perceived as lacking credibility, the person in power is likely to come out on top.”

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE, LEGAL EDUCATION EDITION:

I’m wondering if there’s a special reason why “now is a good time to start law school.” Something Trump-related? I’m thinking:

1. During the Obama administration, people were lulled into feeling that law was a bunch of boring, phony blabber trumped up to obstruct the flow of governmental goodness. Now that Trump’s in power, the law suddenly feels like a repository of timeless truths, a glorious bulwark against governmental abuse. It’s not only worth studying, you can feel good about being one of the lawyer-warriors who fight off hell.

2. Government employees are looking for a career change.

Well, and also law schools are desperate for warm, tuition-paying bodies.

MOTHER JONES: Keith Ellison Is Everything Republicans Thought Obama Was. Maybe He’s Just What Democrats Need.

The role of the DNC chairman is to run a political machine that helps to elect Democrats throughout the country, not to dictate the party’s policy priorities. But Ellison’s blueprint for defeating Trumpism is nonetheless rooted in the anti-establishment politics of Sanders. The DNC has become the “Democratic Presidential Committee,” he argues; short-sighted focus on big-dollar fundraising and swing states has weakened the party on a county-by-county level. Change starts with shifting the party apparatus toward assembling a multicultural army of organizers, focused on the communities likely to bear the full brunt of the new president’s policies. Ellison says the proof that this can work is in his district. Emphasizing door-to-door engagement over TV advertising, Ellison boasts he’s juiced turnout in his safe Democratic seat to some of the highest levels in the country. Even as the Upper Midwest goes red, Minnesota Democrats have scored victories at the state level, bolstered by Ellison’s Minneapolis machine.

Republicans are eager to take him on, because in many ways, the story of Keith Ellison is the story conservatives wanted to believe about another cerebral African American community organizer from the Midwest—Barack Obama. Raised Catholic in Detroit, Ellison converted to Islam, dabbled in black nationalism, and marched with the Nation of Islam’s Louis Farrakhan—all before his first bid for Congress in 2006. His past dogged him in that run, and it has continued to be an issue in the DNC race: Billionaire Haim Saban, one of the Democrats’ biggest donors, has trashed him as an “anti-Semite.”

As a young activist in Minneapolis, Ellison learned to build coalitions outside the scope of party politics. He also learned the limits of what such activism could achieve without political power. For Ellison, it was a time of experimentation, education, and sometimes radical dalliances that ultimately imbued in his politics a hard-edged pragmatism.

Don’t discount Ellison’s considerable organizational abilities on the basis of his radical politics.

DAVID HARSANYI: Public School Is Often The Most Destructive Institution In American Life.

Many liberals, for instance, tell us that racism is one of the most pressing problems in America. And yet few things have hurt African Americans more over the past 40 years than the inner-city public school system. If President Obama is correct, and educational attainment is the key to breaking out of a lower economic strata, then no institution is driving inequality quite as effectively as public schools.

Actually, teachers unions are the only organizations in America that openly support segregated schools. In districts across the country — even ones in cities with some form of limited movement for kids — poor parents, most typically black or Hispanic, are forced to enroll their kids in underperforming schools when there are good ones nearby, sometimes just blocks away.

The National Education Association spent $23 million last cycle alone working to elect politicians to keep low-income Americans right where they are. Public service unions use tax dollars to fund politicians who then turn around and vote for more funding. The worse the schools perform, the more money they demand. In the real world we call this racketeering.

Why are Democrat-run institutions such cesspits of racism and oppression? Because that’s where the money is.

JOHN YOO: I supported Bush and Obama on Executive power, but Trump is going too far.

JAZZ SHAW: The media suddenly seems less interested in the Nerd Prom. I wonder why? “The Fourth Estate is supposed to be policing the government, not getting drunk with it. While there may be nothing overtly in violation of journalistic policy going on, it’s always just looked bad. When the public observes the federal government and the press all getting together to laugh and laugh and laugh we have to eventually begin wondering who the joke is really on. (Spoiler alert: It’s you.)”

But that’s not the problem: “No, what Margaret Sullivan is really seething about is the fact that Trump has already been making the media the butt of his jokes pretty much since he declared his candidacy. Can you imagine what he’d have to come up with to top that material at the dinner? By the time he got done ripping into them I somehow suspect that there wouldn’t be many reporters laughing along with him at the tables.”

As I keep saying, they’re not smart enough to be nerds. And under Obama it played out more like student council members sucking up to the principal.

Related:

QUESTION ASKED: Why haven’t we repealed Obamacare yet?

House Speaker Paul Ryan and other top Republicans are currently crafting a similar budget reconciliation bill that would unravel big chunks of the law. But that process has become complicated by pressure to include Obamacare replacement measures in that legislation.

Ryan said at a news conference last week that he now hopes to move Obamacare legislation by the end of March.

Meadows told CNN that the party needs to move much faster.

“I don’t know that there’s any new revelations that are going to come up by waiting 60 to 90 more days,” Meadows said. “We’re making the whole idea of repeal and replacement far more complex and laborious than it needs to be and I think it’s time that we just make some decisions and move forward with (the repeal bill).”

On considering anything less than what was voted on in 2015, Meadows quipped: “You don’t get any credit with any of your constituents if you do that.”

The party in power typically loses around 30 House seats in the midterm election. If the GOP wants to buck the trend and keep their majority in 2018, they’d best not dispirit their base.

JOHN FUND: Trump Derangement Syndrome May Help Trump. “As soon as the election was over, state recounts were mounted, with the approval of Hillary Clinton’s campaign, angry demands were made that members of the Electoral College go against the results of their state votes and dump Trump, and wild charges were hurled that Russian hacking swung the election. FBI chief James Comey, an Obama appointee, was accused of tilting the election against Clinton, and blue-collar voters in the Midwest were smeared as ‘racists’ who were easily manipulated by Trump.”

Hey, vote for us you stupid racists!

THE OBAMA LEGACY: Trump wants to push back against Iran, but Iran is now more powerful than ever.

TRUMP: ‘If Something Bad Happens Blame the Judge and the Court System’

Barack Obama opened this door when he publicly dressed down the Supreme Court as a part of his State of the Union Address.

ANDREW MCCARTHY: To Fix Counterterrorism, End Obama’s ‘Countering Violent Extremism’ Strategy.

Clearly, the FBI spent a lot of time on [Pulse nightclub attacker Omar] Mateen. It sent confidential informants to interact with him, conducted physical surveillance, covertly monitored some of his phone calls, and interviewed him face-to-face three separate times. It concluded that his bark was bad, but his bite was non-existent. Honoring guidelines imposed on terrorism investigations, the FBI closed its case. That is, in addition to concluding that no charges should be filed, the Bureau further decided that additional monitoring of Mateen was not warranted.

In retrospect, this seems reckless. But the FBI is not incompetent, far from it. The agency knew Mateen was worth a heavy investigative investment. The problem is that the FBI answers to the Washington political class. The bipartisan Beltway has long ruled that advocacy of radical Islam is protected by the Constitution. It has long instructed its investigators, preposterously, that seditious beliefs and agitation are immune, not just from prosecution, but even from mere inquiry.

What passes for Obama’s national-security strategy, known as “Countering Violent Extremism,” exacerbates this problem.

You can’t fight what you won’t name.

THAT’S DIFFERENT BECAUSE SHUT UP: Obama Criticizes Supreme Court in State of the Union Address.