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CBS This Morning co-host John Dickerson on Friday touted Democratic talking points regarding a government shutdown. Talking to Senator Cory Gardner, Dickerson tried to explain away demanding a DACA fix in return for keeping the government open. He lectured the Republican: “Nothing focuses the mind like a hanging.”

Yes, Dickerson is paraphrasing Samuel Johnson, but murdering Republicans seems to be a recurring fantasy for the CBS anchorman:

Go for the Throat! Why if he wants to transform American politics, Obama must declare war on the Republican Party.

Headline, John Dickerson’s column at Slate, January 18, 2013.



● Rand Paul: Recovery after attack ‘was a living hell.’

Bernie Bro James T. Hodgkinson, Attempted Assassin Of Steve Scalise, Already Being Erased From History.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai canceled his appearance at CES because of death threats.

Terry McAuliffe says he’d punch Trump: ‘You’d have to pick him up off the floor.’

As Steve says, come and see the violence inherent in the leftism.

MATTHEW CONTINETTI: Team Obama still hasn’t learned the lesson of 2016.

Never does [Samantha] Power give any indication that the policies and character of the administration she served for eight years might have had some role in the outcome of the election. Weak economic growth, capricious and stultifying and often-unconstitutional regulation, a rejection of military deterrence in favor of negotiation and accommodation with undemocratic great powers and their proxies, the removal of troops from Iraq and the supercilious reference to ISIS as the “JV team,” the constant tweaking and trolling of conservatives and Republicans to make them batty, and all enacted with an omnipresent and choking air of moral and intellectual superiority and pride—none of this factors in her analysis. So convinced is Power of the righteousness of her positions and stature and the inevitable course of History and Progress that Trump appears to her almost as an apparition, a figure from a different dimension, far removed from any universe in which she and her boss lived and acted. Another Obama mistake.

I don’t mean to single out Power. This distended mentality of merit and awesome lack of self-awareness was an Obama administration specialty.

Read the whole thing, needless to say.

AND IT’S A WONDERFUL THING:  Trump is the “un-Obama” of our time.

HMMM: Manhattan DA raids Newsweek headquarters.

Related: In case you missed it in Steve’s post earlier today on Newsweek’s transformation into a Hillary fanfic* publication:

Click to enlarge.

As opposed to its prior incarnation as an Obama fanfic publication.

THEY SAID IF TRUMP WON, HE WOULD SLASH THE FEDERAL BUREAUCRACY: And OMG, look, he’s actually doing it! Congress changed the law to make it much easier for the Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary to fire poor performers at VA. And sure enough, VA Chief David Shulkin says he has gotten rid of “thousands of employees from VA’s roll and set a standard for accountability so that those employees that are continuing to do an excellent job in serving are surrounded by other employees that have the same commitment.”

Shulkin was the highest ranking Obama appointee Trump kept around and then promoted him to run the department that was literally letting veterans die as they waited months on end for basic health care services they were guaranteed in return for serving the country in the military. LifeZette’s Brendan Kirby has more. 

HMM: Hillary Clinton confidant was interviewed by FBI in connection to the salacious dossier.

Sidney Blumenthal, a former journalist and a close friend of Clinton, was interviewed by the FBI in 2016 regarding the dossier that alleged Trump colluded with Russia, the sources stated. Department of Justice officials, however, declined to comment on Blumenthal or the dossier.

FBI officials declined to comment.

Blumenthal did not return a phone call seeking comment.

Blumenthal worked as a White House aide for Bill Clinton, and later worked with the Clinton Foundation after being denied a role by Obama Administration officials with then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, according to reports. According to Politico he was being paid $10,000 a month by the Clinton Foundation.

The FBI has been leaking like a sieve with a hole in it; curious that we’re just finding out about this now.

RELATED: Clinton Corruption Update: It’s All One Scandal.

We’ve reached the scandularity.

WINNING: Apple announces plans to repatriate billions in overseas cash, says it will contribute $350 billion to the US economy over the next 5 years.

The headline from Apple is that it will make a $350 billion “contribution” to the U.S. economy over the next five years, although it’s unclear exactly how the company came to that number.

The company also promised to create 20,000 new jobs and open a new campus.

It said it expects to pay about $38 billion in taxes for the horde of cash it plans to bring back to the United States. This implies it will repatriate virtually all of its $250 billion in overseas cash.

That’s quite the windfall, for Washington, for American consumers, and for the economy as a whole. And it doesn’t remind me at all of the heady days of the early Obama Administration, when we were told that “business climate” was just a myth.

THEY JUST CAN’T HELP THEMSELVES, CAN THEY? Nuclear Anxiety Is Becoming A Hallmark Of The Trump Era. Here’s What Would Happen In The Worst-Case Scenario.

That’s the BuzzFeed headline for what is actually a useful article on preparations, or lack thereof, for a high-yield ballistic nuclear attack of the kind North Korea might soon be able to launch.

The headline writer seems to forget (or perhaps is to ignorant to have known) that the North suckered the Clinton Administration into a useless nuclear deal 20 years ago, became a nuclear power late in the second Bush Administration, and that Barack Obama kicked the can down the road for eight years while the North tested bigger bombs and longer-ranged missiles.

But our “anxiety” is somehow a “hallmark of the Trump Era.”

Because BuzzFeed.

JOEL KOTKIN: Red States Roaring Back Under Trump.

Some positive trends can be traced to the Obama years, but there’s clearly been a shift in trajectory and direction of the economy. As President Obama once noted, “elections have consequences.” Under Obama, federal policies—the “stimulus,” non-regulation of tech giants, ultra-low interest rates— benefited urban core, blue-state bastions that now constitute the unshakeable base of the Democratic Party. Under Trump, most working- and middle-class workers benefit from higher standard tax deductions and energy deregulation, while the affluent in high-tax states like California, New York, and Illinois are likely not to do as well.

Today, the often-disdained red states have the wind at their back, while in blue America, the economy seems to be slowing, as industries and people move to lower-cost, lower-regulation states. Seven of the top 10 states in terms of population growth last year were deep red; overall, the South has become home to the better part of economic dynamism in the country, with Texas and Florida alone accounting for one-third of all U.S. growth since 2010. Some analysts suggest that the new tax law, which works against high-income earners in high-tax states, will accelerate these trends further.

The most recent employment numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics confirm these trends. Texas, as it has for the last few decades, is generating jobs at a higher rate than more populous California, lauded by the mainstream media as the premier anti-Trump economy. In November, the largest job increases—around 0.4 percent—occurred in three pro-Trump states: Iowa, South Carolina, and Texas. At the same time, the biggest drops in unemployment have occurred in the South, led by Alabama, where the rate fell by over 2.5 percent, followed by Tennessee, Florida, and Georgia. The BEA reports that the GDP of Texas, the linchpin of red America, over the past year is growing almost three times as fast as California and five times as fast as New York. Utah, Michigan, and Wisconsin also grew faster than California.

This marks a meaningful change in the geography of American economic vitality.

Trump should be using his bully pulpit to stress this sort of thing.

Related: Trump economy’s sustained growth pace unlike anything seen in 13 years.

BBC: Hey, Trump Hasn’t Actually Made The World More Dangerous. “President Trump may have stoked fears and churned up chaos with his erratic and volatile Twitter feed. But he has not torpedoed the alliances he has questioned. He hasn’t started any new wars and, by and large, he’s followed the script of his predecessor, Barack Obama, for the old ones. So, while he may have shaken things up, he hasn’t blown anything up.”

IT’S ALMOST AS THOUGH PEOPLE DON’T WANT TO BUY THINGS THEY DON’T WANT TO BUY: After Four Years of Obamacare Implementation, Uninsured Rate Hits 12.2%. “Uninsured rate highest for Americans ages 26 to 34 at 20.1 percent.”


It is a feat so great that President Barack Obama was unable to accomplish it.

President George W. Bush did better than his republican predecessors, but still fell a bit short.

Even President Bill Clinton came under fire from women’s organizations for his shortcomings on delivering a cabinet that “looks like America.”

The unattainable feat?

Hiring an astounding number of women for senior-level positions in the White House.

Luckily for women everywhere, in 2018 it has finally been accomplished.

Naturally, Vogue has written about it. Cosmopolitan has shouted it from the rooftops, as has MSNBC and every other liberal news outlet.

If only that last part were true.

Despite impressive hiring practices during his first year in the White House, President Donald Trump has received little to no credit for his choice of women for the most senior positions on his cabinet, as well as the West Wing.

The narrative über alles.

FOR ONE, HE COULD TAKE UP SMOKING: Reporter to White House Doc: How Can Trump Become as Fit as Obama?

VICTOR DAVIS HANSON: President Nobama: Trump is commonsensically undoing, piece by piece, the main components of Obama’s legacy. “Donald Trump continues to baffle. Never Trump Republicans still struggle to square the circle of quietly agreeing so far with most of his policies, as they loudly insist that his record is already nullified by its supposedly odious author. Or surely it soon will be discredited by the next Trumpian outrage. Or his successes belong to congressional and Cabinet members, while his failures are all his own. Rarely do they seriously reflect on what otherwise over the last year might have been the trajectory of a Clinton administration.”

I find that Trump looks a lot better if you focus on what he does, as opposed to what he tweets, and what people say about him.

THE OBAMA-CLINTON LEGACY: Tom Perez Says ‘We had to rebuild almost every facet’ of DNC.

CHANGE: Utility Jobs Lost as New Power Plants Need Fewer Workers. “Older plants are being supplanted by newer power plants fired by natural gas, as well as wind and solar farms.”

The Center for Energy Workforce Development, a group backed by six major utility industry groups, estimates that total direct utility employment has fallen to 505,000 from 550,000 since 2006. That is eroding a stable source of well-paying jobs, especially in rural areas, and generating local political pressure at a time when President Donald Trump has made blue-collar job retention a major issue.

Many industry leaders believe the shift is inevitable.

“The power sector is just not going to contribute to the economy in terms of jobs the way it once did,” said Curt Morgan, president and chief executive of Vistra Energy Corp , the electricity producer which used to be part of the former Energy Future Holdings Corp., and is planning to merge with rival Dynegy Inc.

That’s strange. Barack Obama spent most of a decade assuring me that clean energy would lead to more and higher-paying jobs.

PERSONNEL IS POLICY: There Are 633 Key Administration Positions. Trump Hasn’t Appointed Nominees for 252 of Them. “In many cases, that means career government employees from the Obama administration are filling the mid-level positions on an interim basis.”

Trump has no nominee for 252 of the 633 key positions requiring Senate confirmation, according to the Partnership for Public Service, which tracks presidential appointments. That’s well behind every predecessor going back to at least President George H.W. Bush, each of whom had the bulk of nominees confirmed by this point in their administration, according to the organization.

The Senate, where the Democratic minority has held up many nominees, has confirmed 241 Trump nominees, while another 136 nominations are pending.

“President Trump has yet to fill key political policy and management jobs across the government, ranging from the IRS, to the Census Bureau and the Drug Enforcement Administration, to important diplomatic positions such as the ambassador to South Korea,” Max Stier, CEO of the Partnership for Public Service, told The Daily Signal in a statement.

There might not be much the White House can do to speed things up in the Senate, but there’s less excuse for not even naming names for 40% of key positions.

THE SEX LIVES OF OTHERS: Project Veritas: Twitter is selling your data to advertisers, you know — even your DMs.

Here is the basic truth about “free” Internet services: If you’re not paying, you’re not the customer. Project Veritas provides us with yet another reminder of that which we should already know about platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Google, Yahoo, and other Internet providers. Once you post something on them, they last forever — and become commodities for the platform owners.

Haynes, who was featured in part one of the Twitter exposé, admitted in a January 6, 2018 meeting that Twitter has hired hundreds employees with the express purpose of looking at these “d*ck pics,” stating:

“There’s teams dedicated to it. I mean, we’re talking, we’re talking three or four… at least, three or four hundred people… Yes, they’re paid to look at d*ck pics.”

Hey, the left promised America that “We Are Socialists Now” at the dawn of the Obama era; no one should be surprised they view East Germany as a how-to guide.

Related: Alexa, What Are You Doing with My Family’s Personal Info?

COLLUSION: FBI Probe Into Russian Uranium Bribes Concealed By Obama DOJ; Mueller, McCabe, Rosenstein Involved.

Friday’s 11-count indictment of former uranium transportation company executive, Mark Lambert, was the latest in a series of DOJ prosecutions involving individuals linked to the Russian nuclear industry and the Uranium One deal.

According to the indictment, Lambert and others at Transport Logistics International (TLI) engaged in several counts of bribery, kickbacks and money laundering with Russian nuclear official Vadim Mikerin, in order to secure business advantages with TENEX – a subsidiary of Rosatom, the Kremlin’s state-owned energy company which bought Uranium One.

TLI would have ostensibly transported all of the uranium from the U1 deal, were it not for an FBI undercover mole buried deep within the Russian nuclear industry who gathered extensive evidence of corruption.

What many don’t realize is that Lambert’s Friday indictment is not the first linked to the Uranium One deal.

In fact, Robert Mueller’s FBI had been investigating the scheme since at least 2008 – with retiring Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe assigned to the ongoing investigation which was hidden from the Committee on Foreign Investments in the Untid States (CFIUS). Had they known, the committee never would have approved the Uranium One deal with TENEX’s parent company, Rosatom.

Four individuals were eventually prosecuted and given plea agreements after the Uranium One deal was approved. The prosecuting DOJ attorneys? Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and top Mueller investigator in the Trump-Russia probe, Andrew Weissman – who praised former acting Attorney General Sally Yates for defying Trump.


Unsurprisingly, all four indicted individuals were handed extremely light sentences, none of which made headlines.

The former is self-explanatory; the latter is a mystery — or would be, if we had a Washington press corps that was worth a non-partisan damn.

TOM COBURN: Earmarks Are Inherently Corrupt. Congress Has No Business Resurrecting Pork Barrel Politics.

Ultimately earmarking is not about solving problems, but about the ability of congressmen to take credit for obtaining benefits for their constituents. There is no shortage of federal grant programs that dole out billions of dollars every year to fund almost any conceivable project that demonstrates merit, and even many that do not. But these are awarded based upon merit and competition and therefore do not allow politicians to take as much credit for bringing the bacon back home.

Disclosing the name of each member of Congress requesting an earmark, along with the recipients, while necessary, is not enough to fix the process either. Few, if any, members of Congress read the recently passed tax reform bill or most of the other bills that are approved. How much time would it take to review thousands of pork projects stuffed into a bill before casting a vote, and how many members would actually take the time to do so?

I am disappointed that many within the Republican Party, which is supposed to stand for limited government and fiscal responsibility, are leading the charge to resurrect earmarks. After failing to repeal and replace Obamacare and making no effort whatsoever to balance the budget last year, Washington Republicans are now moving forward with restoring earmarks for special interests and granting amnesty for illegal immigrants. These are the very same issues the Republicans were focused on the last time the party lost its majorities in Congress in 2006.

I wish Coburn hadn’t retired from public office.

LIFE UNDER TRUDEAU: Canada stuck on sidelines as U.S. oil boom creates jobs, curbs emissions. Trudeau is Canada’s Obama, but can you even talk about or imagine someone being “Canada’s Trump?”

FROM THE HOME OFFICE IN THE EYE OF PERVNADO: Why isn’t David Letterman being caught up on the #TimesUp dragnet?

After [Louis CK’s] exploits were detailed in a New York Times piece, Netflix stepped in to “protect” us viewers from having to see his visage again; his (terrific) F/X show was pulled from the streaming service. Even more galling, Louie’s then-forthcoming movie was pulled from distribution. (And by the way, how unfair was that decision to Edie Falco, Charlie Day, John Malkovich, and others who co-starred in the flick?)

Adding to the mystery is that we can’t point to the usual bugaboo—politics and ideology—to explain the disparate treatment. Louie and Letterman are comfortably on the bien pensant left. Yet one comes in for censure, while the other is celebrated.

I’m not necessarily saying that Letterman should be banished from polite company—or even Obama’s company. But the mystery of why some people get a #metoo pass, and others don’t, is intensely interesting.

Read the whole thing.

Earlier: Letterman, Obama, Michael Wolff, and the Wages of Postmodernism.

THIS IS CNN: President Trump has no dog and CNN is on it. 

Wait until the network discovers the former president’s nourishing relationship with man’s best friend…

In this Feb. 7, 2008, file photo, then-Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., smiles as he puts on a napkin before eating gumbo at Dooky Chase’s restaurant in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

HMM: Devin Nunes accuses FBI, DOJ of demonstrating ‘abuse’ of government surveillance programs.

House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., told fellow Republicans he has witnessed evidence demonstrating a clear “abuse” of government surveillance programs by FBI and Justice Department officials, according to a new report.

Nunes’ comments were made as he was attempting to garner votes for a bill to reauthorize the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Section 702 permits the intelligence community to oversee foreign communications, but does not authorize the government to oversee Americans. The bill was passed by the House on Thursday.

Ahead of the vote, Nunes said he has not seen evidence to suggest Section 702 was abused to look at foreigners, but that other sections of the law had been misused by the government to oversee Americans, Fox News reported.

Nunes informed other lawmakers he would “read all 435 members of Congress into major abuses with other areas of FISA and will read members in ASAP” on those issues.

No further details were given given concerning the abuses Nunes brought up during the closed-door meetings this week. A report from the Washington Examiner this week said that representatives from congressional panels, including the House Intelligence Committee, viewed Obama-era FISA documents at the Justice Department earlier this month.

That meeting occurred after Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray released the documents to lawmakers. Nunes had issued a letter to Rosenstein in December slamming the agencies for their “failure to fully produce” documents concerning the so-called “Trump dossier,” noting “at this point it seems the DOJ and FBI need to be investigating themselves.”

Someone needs to investigate them.

KIMBERLEY STRASSEL: The Dossier Rehab Campaign: Congress should work quickly to declassify documents and let the public decide.

There’s no such thing as a coincidence in Washington, so why the sudden, furious effort by Democrats and the media to give cover to the Steele dossier? As in, the sudden, furious effort that happens to coincide with congressional investigators’ finally being given access to FBI records about the Trump-Russia probe.

This scandal’s pivotal day was Jan. 3. That’s the deadline House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes gave the Federal Bureau of Investigation to turn over documents it had been holding for months. Speaker Paul Ryan backed Mr. Nunes’s threat to cite officials for contempt of Congress. Everyone who played a part in encouraging the FBI’s colonoscopy of the Trump campaign—congressional Democrats, FBI and Justice Department senior career staff, the Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama political mobs, dossier commissioner Fusion GPS, the press corps—knew about the deadline and clearly had been tipped to the likelihood that the FBI would have to comply. Thus the dossier rehabilitation campaign.

Weeks before, the same crew had taken a desperate shot at running away from the dossier, with a New York Times special that attempted to play down its significance in the FBI probe. You can see why. In the year since BuzzFeed published the salacious dossier, we’ve discovered it was a work product of the Clinton campaign, commissioned by an oppo-research firm (Fusion), compiled by a British ex-spook on the basis of anonymous sources, and rolled out to the media in the runup to the election. Oh, and it appears to continue to be almost entirely false. When the best you’ve got is that a campaign orbiter made a public trip to Russia, you haven’t got much.

But with Congress about to obtain documents that show the dossier did matter, it was time for a new line. And so the day before the Nunes deadline, Fusion co-founders Glenn Simpson and Peter Fritsch broke their public silence to explain in a New York Times op-ed that what really matters was their noble intention—to highlight Donald Trump’s misdeeds. The duo took credit for alerting the “national security community” to a Russian “attack.”

How brave of them.

FLASHBACK: Rolling Stone, defending Presidential vulgarity.

It’s different when Obama does it, because shut up.

FROM THE HOME OFFICE IN SIOUX CITY, IOWA: The Top 10 Most Obsequious Comments Letterman Made to Obama During Their Netflix Interview.

JUST BECAUSE YOU’RE PARANOID DOESN’T MEAN THEY AREN’T OUT TO GET YOU:Google Is Not What It Seems”, by Julian Assange. Between Facebook banning the sale of a book without rational explanation and the revelations of the inherent content-based discrimination at Twitter, it seems that Tucker Carlson and others are correct that corporations are rapidly becoming the New Thought Police.

BUT OF COURSE: Facebook Bans Bestselling Author over ‘The Scandalous Presidency of Barack Obama.’


Team Obama never understood the reality of the Iranian hardliners or their exigent threat to the United States.

Still, we’ve gained a new insight into this philosophy over the past couple of days. It has come in the form a Twitter showdown between New York Times columnist Bret Stephens and former Obama national security council spokesman Tommy Vietor.

It began when Stephens asked Vietor whether, as a Kuwaiti news outlet reported this week, the Obama administration had indeed warned Iran of an impending Israeli strike against Qassem Soleimani three years ago. Suleimani is the 20-year head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ external action unit, the Quds Force.

Vietor’s responses were quite pathetic.

To begin, Vietor implied that any action to take out Soleimani would have been unjustified because the general is an “Iranian political leader.” . . .

Let’s be clear, when it’s Soleimani, you’re dealing with a blood-drenched terrorist mastermind. Not a politician.

In turn, when you offer “Obama sanctioned them” as a representation of effectively countering Soleimani, you are either a complete moron or utterly delusional.

I’m going with the latter here.


FORREST NABORS: Why The Time Is Ripe For A Free Iran.

If different types of political regimes are plants that grow, the soil is the people, and different types of soil determine what kind of political regime is possible in a given nation. The rise, prosperity, or fall of a political regime depends upon the customs and temper of a people that have developed since time immemorial and are not easily changed.

This important insight was once commonplace when the classical analysis of political regimes was the starting point in understanding nations’ politics, but political science in its modern form no longer teaches our young citizenry in this way. This is why you will not find many journalists or analysts in the media or government who can convincingly explain the prospects for democracy abroad.

The cost of this change in education is apparent in the last 15 years of American foreign policy. The Bush administration expected Western-style democracy to immediately take hold in Iraq after it toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein. The Obama administration expected the same following popular unrest during the Arab Spring. Noble though the goals of those administrations were, an intelligent citizen informed by Bernard Lewis’s “What Went Wrong” and educated in regime analysis could have foreseen that efforts to establish stable democracies in place of removed Arab tyrannies would encounter profound difficulties.

In Iran the case is different. Iranians are a great people well prepared for successful self-government and boast one of the oldest and most refined cultures in human history. Unlike Sunni Islam, their version of Islam always recognized the separation of mosque and state, a tradition that Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini struggled to reconcile with his goal of preserving Islamic purity in modernity. He finally abandoned the attempt, but that tradition is still remembered by Shiites and has shaped the political principles that they hold today.

Read the whole thing.

CHANGE: Trump Clears Path for States to Require Employment for Medicaid.

The Trump Administration moved Thursday to allow states to impose work requirements on their Medicaid programs for the first time, the latest alteration of the nation’s health-care system through administrative action after Republican efforts to repeal Obamacare failed last year.

The change will allow states to craft programs that would require Medicaid recipients to prove they are working, training for a job, or volunteering in their communities, according to guidance issued by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

States aren’t forced to participate, and it looks like the work requirements are far from strict.

WELL, THAT’S NECESSARY TO REFLECT THE SOUL OF ITS NAMESAKE: So, the Obama Presidential Library Is Really Ugly. “A discarded Chinese take-out box. The backside of a Star Wars sand crawler. The Washington Monument with the interesting bits lopped off. That’s what sprung to mind when confronted with the initial design of the Obama Presidential Center, Jon Gabriel writes at Ricochet.

Elsewhere, the Chicago Tribune asks, “Without archives on site, how will Obama Center benefit area students, scholars?”

Jon answers that question as well; he notes that “the Obamas are going to use it as a community organizing bootcamp to teach new generations how to make hyperviolent Chicago an even less comfortable place to live and work.”

To paraphrase Gabriel’s defining tweet of Obama’s two terms, my favorite part about the Obama presidential library will be all the racial healing.

I REMEMBER WHEN PUBLIC PARKLAND WAS SACRED: Chicago profs blast ‘socially regressive’ Obama Center plan. “Not only does the current plan involve forfeiting huge portions of public parks to the private Obama Foundation, the professors say, but it would also impose hundreds of millions of dollars in additional costs to the taxpayers.” So pretty much like his presidency, then.

RICHARD GOLDBERG AND DENNIS ROSS: On Iran, Trump Should Be Like Reagan.

The Iranian protesters are making a statement and we should not ignore it. The president would be well within his rights under the JCPOA and international law to follow President Reagan’s example and answer them with action. Just as the Iranian regime feels free to spread its power and reach within the region notwithstanding the JCPOA, so should the United States and Europe feel free to impose sanctions tied to human rights, terror and missiles notwithstanding the same.

The sanctions relief provided under the JCPOA should not be interpreted as a blanket immunity for Iranian officials, banks and other government instrumentalities to expand their illicit activities. If such a person or entity is found to be connected to the Revolutionary Guard, terrorism, missile proliferation and human rights abuses, it most certainly can and should be subject to sanctions—even if sanctions for that person or entity were initially suspended by the JCPOA.

The JCPOA must not prevent us from fulfilling our international obligations on human rights, terrorism and proliferation. It cannot handcuff the United States and its allies from using all available means of state power to stop these illicit activities. Indeed, the American people were repeatedly assured by then-Secretary of State John Kerry that nothing in the JCPOA precluded the United States from imposing sanctions for such non-nuclear activities.

Many international agreements throughout history were hatched by adopting vague language that could be interpreted in different ways by different parties. That is especially true for arms-control agreements, and the JCPOA is no exception. The administration would be wise to try to persuade the Europeans that non-nuclear sanctions are an acceptable and highly effective way of raising both the internal and external costs to the Iranian regime for its aggressive behavior.

Trying to move Europe seems like a waste of effort, now that European firms have gotten a renewed taste for Iranian oil money. And putting the squeeze on Iran via the JCPOA might also be futile, since Obama’s deal essentially gave away the store in exchange for little more than a promise that Tehran would try to do a better job of hiding its nuclear program.

The best that can probably be done is what Glenn suggested on Monday: “Now is the time to hit the Iranian regime with lower oil prices: For the sake of the Iranian people and global stability, we need to lead the effort in suppressing oil prices beyond what Tehran can bear.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SPECIAL RELATIONSHIP: Cameron’s ‘bromance’ with Obama a myth, claims ex-adviser Steve Hilton. “Ex-PM thought Obama was narcissistic, says Steve Hilton while lambasting Fire and Fury book’s claims about Trump.”

Do tell:

Steve Hilton, one of Cameron’s closest advisers before the pair fell out over immigration and Brexit last year, made the comments during the latest instalment of his show, The Next Revolution, on Fox News.

Discussing Michael Wolff’s new book, Fire and Fury, Hilton said any claims by elitists and the establishment that Donald Trump was mentally unfit for the presidency came second to Trump’s promotion of a pro-worker, populist agenda on immigration, infrastructure, trade and the fight against China.

He went on to emphasise the shortcomings of Trump’s predecessors, adding: “My old boss, former British prime minister David Cameron, thought Obama was one of the most narcissistic, self-absorbed people he’d ever dealt with.

“Obama never listened to anyone, always thought he was smarter than every expert in the room, and treated every meeting as an opportunity to lecture everyone else. This led to real-world disasters, like Syria and the rise of Isis.”

But the real world did not matter to the elites, Hilton said. “For them, it’s all about style and tone, not substance and results. Donald Trump offends the elites aesthetically, like a piece of art that’s not to their taste.

When you allow taste to trump policy — and I’m addressing Bill Kristol directly here — you’ve elevated mere snobbery to a governing philosophy.

And you should expect the deplorables to respond accordingly.

VICTOR DAVIS HANSON: Is Trump Really Crazy?

Of course, any president lax enough to let a Wolff through the door inevitably would be embarrassed by the results, given that all administrations can be petty, even gross.

Lyndon Johnson had a repulsive habit of referring openly to his sexual organ as “Jumbo”—and occasionally displaying it to startled staffers—a felony in our present culture. Worse still, he often gave dictation while defecating on the toilet.

John Kennedy crudely seduced dozens of his own female staffers. One, Mimi Alford, who came to work a 19-year-old virgin, wrote an entire memoir of her mechanical trysts inside the White House with JFK, including his inaugural seduction, which, by any contemporary definition, would now qualify as sexual assault. She lamented that he once had pawned her off to fellate one of his aides. A perverted rapist as our beloved commander-in-chief? No need to imagine a Wolff version of the Clinton White House.

I could an imagine a Wolff in FDR’s White House circa early 1945 having a field day: jazzing up the clandestine nocturnal trysts between the wheelchair-bound president and his mistress Lucy Mercer. His daughter Anna would be exposed as the go-between, the upstart young proto-Ivanka who had moved into the White House and became virtually a ceremonial First Lady.

All the while the Roosevelt team would struggle to lie to the press about the president’s sky-high blood pressure, chain-smoking, martini drinking, and growing feebleness. In place of Steve Bannon’s shoot-from-the-hip notions of geopolitics, a Harry Hopkins or freelancing and estranged Eleanor Roosevelt could offer mini-interviews on the administration’s successful politicking with good old Uncle Joe at Yalta. The difference is that FDR had the press in his pocket and even was too crafty to trust any of his “friends” with unfettered access. . . .

Wolff’s ogre purportedly sloppily eats Big Macs in bed, golfs more than Obama did, has no hair at all on the top of his head, and at 71 is supposedly functionally illiterate. OK, perhaps someone the last half-century read out loud to Trump the thousands of contracts he signed. But what we wish to know from Wolff is how did his trollish Trump figure out that half the country—the half with the more important Electoral College voice—was concerned about signature issues that either were unknown to or scorned by his far more experienced and better-funded rivals?

Why did not a well-read Marco Rubio or later Yale Law graduate Hillary Clinton focus on unfair trade and declining manufacturing, illegal immigration, unnecessary and optional overseas interventions, and the excesses of the deep administrative “swamp” state?

Who discovered these issues or knew how to develop them? Was it really the feisty Corey Lewandowski? The genius Paul Manafort? How, then, could Wolff’s idiot grasp that these concerns were the keys to flipping purple swing-states that had previously been written off as reliably Democratically patronized clinger/irredeemable/deplorable territory by far better informed and more tech-savvy campaign operatives?

Once Trump was in power, how does Wolff explain the near phenomenal economic turnaround in the latter part of 2017? Does he not see that the stupider you make Trump in his successful first year, by inference the even stupider you make the supposedly smarter actors in their many failed years?

Yeah if Trump’s really that much of a dolt, how much worse is Hillary for losing to him — and Barack for failing to govern as well?

CHARLES GASPARINO: On the economy, Trump has been crazy like a fox.

The United States had one of the highest corporate tax rates in the world — so high that companies (and jobs) were fleeing to places like Ireland. That’s why it was perfectly sane to lower the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent as Trump just did, and presto: Corporations are announcing plans to hire more workers, and the economy, which was expected to slow after seven years of weak growth, is heating up. The markets are predicting that growth with their surge.

Likewise, regulations have been strangling businesses for years while making it difficult for banks to lend to consumers and small business. Trump went out and hired perfectly sane regulators who basically pulled the federal government’s boot off the neck of the business community.

An insane president would threaten a significant tax increase immediately upon taking office following a financial crisis, and then eventually impose one on individuals and small businesses still in recovery.

He’d impose job-crushing regulations on these same businesses as unemployment rose. He’d put a cumbersome mandate on businesses that upends the entire health care system just as the economy was finally turning a corner.

A really insane president would blow nearly $1 trillion on a stimulus plan with little planning and direction, wasting much of the money on boondoggles (see: Solyndra) and then laugh at the lack of “shovel ready” jobs created. He’d then try to spread his delusion to the masses, telling them to ignore historically low wage growth, anemic economic growth and the massive amount of people who dropped out of the work force because the stock market rallied, thanks in large part to the Fed printing money instead of his own fiscal policies.

Is Barack Obama crazy? No, but his post-2008 economic policies were.

I had been assured in 2009 by some very smart people that “business climate” was a myth and didn’t matter.

THE LEFTIES AT THE INTERCEPT ARE NOT AMUSED: Oprah Winfrey for President: Have We All Gone Bonkers?

I’m old enough to remember when liberals gave a damn about experience, qualifications, and judgement; when Democrats mocked the idea of Trump — a former reality TV star and property developer who struggled to tell the difference between Hamas and Hezbollah — running for the presidency.

On the campaign trail, former President Barack Obama blasted Trump as “uniquely unqualified,” lacking in “basic knowledge” and “woefully unprepared” to do the job of commander-in-chief. In stark contrast, he argued, there had “never been a man or a woman more qualified than Hillary Clinton to serve as president of the United States of America.”

Well, when you finish up with a lie like that, people may disbelieve the other stuff, too. And since — judging from the economy, unemployment, foreign relations, judges, regulation cuts, etc. — Trump is doing a much better job than the allegedly-credentialed Obama, people might want to take a flyer on another outsider.

WAGES OF POSTMODERNISM: Michael Wolff to MSNBC anchor on his book: “If it rings true, it is true.”

“If it rings true, it is true” may be the most Orwellian defense of slovenly reporting since the immortal “fake but accurate” line from the Rathergate days. This isn’t the way journalistic ethics are supposed to work, gasps an exasperated Haley Byrd of the Weekly Standard. It is if you want to sell a million copies, I guess. In fact, “if it rings true, it is true” is about as perfect a summation as you could ask for of the concept of confirmation bias. If you already hate Trump, the mix of fact, rumor, and third-hand smear in Wolff’s book, all relentlessly damning of the White House, is a political banana split with extra hot fudge. Nothing that tastes this good could possibly be bad for you!

And as Allahpundit quips, Wolff is “the second person in a hot media spotlight in less than 24 hours to casually undermine the idea of objective truth. The other, of course, was the 46th president of the United States.”

Heh.Ben Shapiro reminds Oprah that “There is no such thing as ‘your truth.’ There is the truth and your opinion.” But then, they don’t call Oprah “the pope of American gnosticism” for nothing.

On Friday, it was announced that the first guest on David Letterman’s upcoming Netflix series will be former President Obama.

But of course – there’s no reason why America’s first postmodernist talk show host should be joined by America’s most prominent postmodern former president. (Bill Clinton was the first of course, arguing over the meaning of “is” in 1998 to save his hide during the impeachment hearings. But his equivocating over a verb didn’t directly impact millions of Americans the same way that Obama’s fables did.)

In his recent book Letterman: The Last Giant of Late Night, author Jason Zinoman wrote:

In May 1985, Esquire magazine published an essay by a twenty-three-year-old Yale graduate named David Leavitt, who set out to do nothing less than explain his generation. It belonged to a long, dubious journalistic tradition in which a major media outlet sums up young people for its readers, using an envoy from their tribe. These stories follow a certain script: Mix some reported anecdotes with a few references to politics and pop culture trends, add a tone of alarm, and then draw a sweeping conclusion about wildly different groups of young people. The piece’s title: “The New Lost Generation.”

Leavitt argued that those coming of age in the Reagan era saw the idealism of the 1960s vanish and substituted a cynical and steely veneer. They sighed at political activism and rolled their eyes at passion and engagement. Unlike the hopeful kids from past decades, they were not marked by a particular cause to fight for. They were more likely to find all of politics contemptuous. What united them was a jaded outlook about not just politics but even the nature of honesty itself. “We are determined to make sure everyone knows that what we say might not be what we mean,” Leavitt wrote, building to a crescendo: “The voice of my generation is the voice of David Letterman.”

* * * * * * * *

Late Night had not become as popular as The Tonight Show, an impossibility, considering their respective time slots, but its cultural impact had surpassed it. By the middle of the decade, Letterman was the rare host who stood for something bigger than a television show. He was increasingly mentioned as the talk-show avatar of postmodernism, a movement marked by self-awareness and challenges to dominant narratives that was then shifting from academia to the mainstream press. He became the host who didn’t believe in hosting, a truth-teller whose sarcasm rendered everything he said suspect, a mocking challenge to anyone who pretended to take the ridiculous world seriously. Letterman became the face of an ironic sensibility that permeated comedy, television, and popular culture.

Andrew Breitbart famously said that “politics is downstream from culture.” In the 1980s, Letterman’s postmodernism made for fascinating and often wryly amusing late night television. But as Obama, and multiple DNC-MSM outlets have proven, it’s a lousy way to run a country or “report” its news. And of course, all of its worst practitioners are still clueless as to how they got Trumped.

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

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

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

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

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

REMINDER: China Hasn’t Won the Pacific (Unless You Think It Has).

In Australia, for instance, White is hardly alone in publicly questioning his nation’s continuing reliance on the U.S. Former Prime Minister Paul Keating has voiced similar ideas. And in the Philippines, President Rodrigo Duterte has ostentatiously repositioned his country between Beijing and Washington on the thesis — exaggerated, no doubt, but nonetheless telling — that “America has lost” its strategic duel with China.

It would be foolish, then, for U.S. policymakers to simply dismiss the concerns that are emanating from Australia and other Asia-Pacific countries. But it would also be dangerous for U.S. and allied leaders to accept the thesis that China is destined to dominate the region and simply give up on countering Beijing’s ambitions.

China appears imposing today, but it is hardly 10 feet tall. As I discuss in my new book, “American Grand Strategy in the Age of Trump,” Beijing is still no match for the U.S. in aggregate national power: Its military budget is still less than half that of the Pentagon’s, and its per capita gross domestic product remains roughly a quarter of America’s, even as its overall GDP approaches parity.

Moreover, China is almost certain to encounter serious economic and political difficulties in the coming years because of the rapidly approaching limits of its existing growth model and the inherent instability of authoritarian rule. It is a fantasy to believe, as U.S. observers sometimes have, that China will collapse or democratize before it is able to make a serious bid for geopolitical supremacy in the Asia-Pacific. But it is hardly preordained that China will be able to maintain, over a period of decades, the impressive trajectory needed to decisively overtake America as the region’s leading power.

In fact, the U.S. and its allies can make it enormously difficult for China to accomplish that objective.

Read the whole thing.

China’s rise, as a local power with territorial ambitions, should practically require its neighbors to gravitate towards the US, which is a far-off power with no territorial ambitions.

It would take a genuine and sustained effort to screw that up, but we did have eight years of Obama.

THAT’S ENTERTAINMENT? Good Fight to Explore Impeachment of President Trump by ‘Shameless’ Means.

CBS All Access’ The Good Fight will explore the process in which Democrats — smelling blood in the water after the midterm elections — might seek to impeach President Trump, and the firm of Reddick, Boseman & Kolstad is solicited to help in that endeavor.

Previewing the seventh episode of Season 2, which is tentatively titled “Shameless,” series co-creator Robert King said at the Television Critics Association winter press tour on Saturday, “We’re satirizing the Democratic [party] licking their chops at the possibility of turning the House over, and impeachment. They want to have their ducks in a row when they [potentially regain a majority] in November, so they’re auditioning a lot of law firms to see who would be best to prosecute in an impeachment.”
Enter Reddick, Boseman & Kolstad, which as an African-American firm offers the Democrats an interesting option. “It’s really a satire of Democrats wanting to impeach a sitting president in a way that would make them angry if it were Republicans going after Obama. A lot of it is, ‘If you wanted to execute the 25h Amendment, how would you do it?’”

If The West Wing’s President Bartlett was Hollywood’s fantasy version of President Clinton, then this is Hollywood’s fantasy version of President Trump.

But I wonder who will explain to the producers that invoking the 25th Amendment is not impeachment, nor does it require a Democratic majority in the House.

What a mess.

EVERGREEN HEADLINES: We’re still better off with Trump than Clinton.

Michael Goodwin:

One result is that reports of his imminent demise have been near-constant ever since he came down the Trump Tower escalator in June of 2015. Those predictions have been nonstop — and always wrong.

Of course, this time could be different. Or maybe the next time will. Or maybe not.

Meanwhile, his is turning out to be an enormously consequential presidency.

So much so that, despite my own frustration over his missteps, there has never been a day when I wished Hillary Clinton were president. Not one.

Indeed, as Trump’s accomplishments accumulate, the mere thought of Clinton in the White House, doubling down on Barack Obama’s failed policies, washes away any doubts that America made the right choice.

Left unsaid? Whatever Trump’s flaws, Clinton would have robbed the country blind.

WEIRD, THAT: Why hasn’t Michael Wolff’s dementia-Trump ever been seen in public?

In the book, Trump has an impossibly short attention span, refuses to learn from policy briefs and fails to grasp the fundamentals of U.S. government.

Where was this version of Trump when giving one of his dozens of interviews, hosting his rallies, or delivering public remarks at any point between 2015 and now?

Yes, Trump mostly spoke extemporaneously during the campaign, often repeating words and themes, a phenomenon otherwise known as speaking aloud.

But he’s also delivered dozens of speeches off teleprompters, proving he can actually read, frequently going off-script to offer commentary and then returning to the prepared remarks.

During the campaign, from January to September in 2016, he hosted more than four-and-a-half hours worth of press conferences, compared to Hillary Clinton’s 38 minutes worth.

Here’s an experiment: Put a truly mentally slow older person, like Dana Milbank, for example, on stage in front of reporters to answer a succession of questions for one hour. Then compare it to the multiple times Trump did it, and see who comes out sharpest.

As president, Trump frequently approaches the press pool in order to answer a range of questions, something former President Obama rarely did.

In Wolff’s book, he says Trump is perpetually distracted, can’t train his mind on substance, and couldn’t recognize his own friends.

Contrast that account with the transcript of a 30-minute interview Trump gave at his golf club in Florida on Dec. 28 to the New York Times. It shows him talking at length about the Russia investigation, the threat from North Korea, and immigration. He even interrupts his thoughts to speak with guests he presumably recognizes.

You never see dementia-Trump in public because he only lives in the heads of Democrats and reporters — but I repeat myself — who are desperate to believe, and who are making fools of themselves in the process.

CONSERVATIVES’ MEMO TO CONGRESS – YOU STILL GOTTA KILL OBAMACARE: It shouldn’t have to be said but a large group of influential conservative activist groups know Republicans leading Congress need to be reminded over and over – they promised for seven years to repeal Obamacare, so what are they waiting for now, eight years later?

LifeZette’s Brendan Kirby points out that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has his mind on other matters: “McConnell has sent conflicting signals in recent weeks. He told National Public Radio before Christmas that the Senate would ‘probably move on to other issues.’ Later, he told reporters at his end-of-the-year news conference that he would commit to a vote on a plan offered by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.) if they can get enough support. ‘I wish them well,’ he said.”

In other words, get lost. That could be the message voters send McConnell and other Republicans of like mind, come November.


WELL, I HOPE HE WON’T LET THE MONEY GET DIVERTED TO SOCIAL JUSTICE ACTIVISM LIKE OBAMA DID: Trump to make infrastructure push during Camp David retreat.

President Trump will push for his long-awaited infrastructure package when he huddles with Republican congressional leaders at Camp David this weekend, as the GOP appears divided about whether the rebuilding effort will be a top priority for the party this year.

Trump will be hosting House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and others in Maryland this weekend to map out the GOP’s 2018 agenda. One of the priorities that will be discussed at the presidential retreat is “rebuilding our nation’s crumbling infrastructure,” a White House spokeswoman said Friday.

On the campaign trail, Trump promised to tackle a $1 trillion infrastructure bill within his first 100 days in office, but the issue slipped to the back burner amid other GOP priorities like health care and tax reform last year.

But Trump hopes to put infrastructure back at the top of his agenda in the New Year.

The White House is supposed to unveil “detailed legislative principles” later this month outlining Trump’s infrastructure vision, which lawmakers will use as a blueprint to craft a bill while Trump works to sell the idea to the public, state and local officials, and members of Congress.

The issue is also likely to be pitched during Trump’s inaugural State of the Union address on Jan. 30.

Sounds like the GOP leadership would prefer an open-borders bill, though.

VICTOR DAVIS HANSON: Trump vs. Obama: The Great Experiment:

Whatever Donald J. Trump’s political past and vociferous present, his first year of governance is most certainly as hard conservative as Barack Obama’s eight years were hard progressive. We are watching a rare experiment in political governance play out, as we go, in back-to-back fashion, from one pole to its opposite.

From January 2009 to January 2016 (especially when Democrats controlled both houses of Congress until January 2011), Barack Obama implemented the most progressive agenda since Franklin Roosevelt, to whom his supporters logically compared their new president. . . .

In other words, free-market economics, deterrent foreign policies, and conservative cultural reform that are championed in the abstract in think tanks, on radio and television by conservative pundits, and in magazines and journals by conservative intellectuals are currently being put to work concretely in the real world, a rare occurrence. Or they’re being implemented as least as much as possible with a president and a Congress of the same party behind them and within a set tenure.

If the economy grows, if the world is calmer and the U.S. stronger, if average Americans acquire more income and more jobs, and if the culture encourages greater stability and virtue, then the conservative experiment will have worked. If all that does not happen, we cannot blame it on the bad Trump messenger, the incompetent Republican Senate, the biased or the squabbling conservative House.

Read the whole thing.

MICHAEL BARONE: The 2010s look more like Trump’s ideal America than Obama’s.

Who are the big population gainers? Some small units: the District of Columbia at 15 percent (big government, gentrification), North Dakota at 12 percent (fracking, which liberals failed to stop), Utah at 12 percent (1950s-style high birth rates).

Those with the largest impact, however, are Texas at 13 percent and Florida at 12 percent. Together, their population increase was 5.3 million, nearly one-third of the national total. Why? No state income taxes, light-touch regulation, and the resulting private sector booms. Immigration? Not so much this decade, with their 1.6 million immigrants outnumbered 2-1 by 3.5 migrants from other states.

Three states actually lost population. Two are small and easily explainable. West Virginia, minus 2 percent: Obama’s war on coal. Vermont, minus 1 percent. Woodstock-era migrants — Bernie Sanders, Howard Dean — liberalized the state’s culture and politics. But with high taxes and stringent environmental bans, no one is following.

The third loser is Illinois, minus 0.3 percent. It takes some doing to get people to flee one of mankind’s greatest artifacts, Chicago. But Michael Madigan, Speaker of the Illinois House for all but two years since 1982, has proved up to it.

High and rising taxes, to pay for hugely underfunded public pensions, have done the trick. Net domestic outmigration from Illinois in 2010-17 was 642,000, more than any other state but New York’s 1,022,000.

The nexus between high taxation and domestic outflow is plain when you look at percentages. . . .

All of which suggests a counterintuitive hypothesis: The patterns of internal and immigrant migration of 2010-17 looks less like Barack Obama’s ideal America and more like Donald Trump’s.

The flight from high-tax to low-tax states, diminished by higher-skill immigration, the fracking boom in North Dakota, and the decline in hip Vermont: You might even say Trump started winning even when Obama was still in office.

The Dems will be pivoting from “demographics ensure our victory” to “it wasn’t Hillary’s fault, the demographics were against her!”

ON THE OTHER HAND…: ‘Economists Say’ A Lot Of Things. But They’re Mostly Wrong.

David Harsanyi:

For eight years we were persistently hearing about how “economists say” everything Democrats were doing was great (even when hundreds disagreed). Unsurprisingly, “economists” were wrong about a lot. The rosy predictions set by President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers regarding the “stimulus” weren’t even close to what happened, nor were any other of their forecasts, for that matter.

In 2009, when Democrats ran everything, the administration predicted 4.6 percent growth by 2012. It turned out to be half that. The Congressional Budget Office’s predictions about Obamacare were even less accurate. Once these prophecies were no longer politically valuable — suddenly more art than science– we were offered counterfactuals: Without Obama’s bailouts, everything would have been much worse.

Perhaps the weakest recovery in American history could have been worse; perhaps not. There are thousands of unknowns that can’t be quantified or computed, including human nature. But after decades of using data to help us think about goods and services, jobs and consumption, and our choices, “economists say” is now used to coat liberal policy positions with a veneer of scientific certitude. And since Democrats began successfully aligning economics with social engineering, we’ve stopped seriously talking about the tradeoffs regulations bring.

Getting people to “stop seriously talking” was probably the only way to get many of those scientifically progressive policies in place.

(Classical allusion in the headline.)

SCOTT RASMUSSEN: The Ground Is Shifting Under Obamacare.

The repeal of the Obamacare mandate fundamentally changes the political dynamics in the real world far from Washington, DC.

Last year, an estimated 15 million Americans would have dropped out of Obamacare if they could. Now they can. Another 6.5 million paid a fine rather than sign up for coverage. This means that more than 20 million people directly benefit from the repeal of the mandate.

Most of these people would prefer to buy insurance that meets their needs, but the Obamacare mandate did more than say that people had to buy insurance. It said they had to buy a very comprehensive and expensive set of benefits. Especially for young people, it was often far more insurance than they needed and far more costly than they could afford.

The reality is that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to health insurance. Different people have different needs and preferences.

This reality will create a demand for a variety of insurance options to meet a variety of needs. Some people will prefer more comprehensive coverage and higher premiums. Others will opt for less coverage and lower premiums. All will be covered against catastrophic events but day-to-day coverage will vary.

Imagine being able to buy the insurance which best fits your needs. Or to put it another way, tonight we’re going to purchase like it’s 2009.

BILL ROGGIO: A record year for US counterterrorism strikes.

The increased targeting of jihadists in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and Libya provides proof that the Obama administration strategy to defeat terrorist groups in these countries with airpower and limited support to local governments has failed. The US has targeted Shabaab in Yemen since 2007 and Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula since 2009, yet both of these al Qaeda branches maintain a robust insurgency and continue to control territory to this day.

FDD’s Long War Journal tracked airstrikes in Somalia, Yemen, Libya, and Pakistan from publicly available press releases and inquiries with the relevant combatant commands as well as from press reports. Strikes in areas of active hostilities, in which the United States is directly engaged, such as Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan, are not included.

Based 2017 data, the Trump administration appears to be conducting a more muscular version of President Obama’s targeted counterterrorism strategy. The Trump administration has loosened rules of engagement and has restored many decision making authorities to the military. Nearly one year after Trump ramped up the targeting of al Qaeda and the Islamic State, both group maintain potent insurgencies.

Lengthy article, but the usual good stuff from Roggio.

VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: This time, we will not be silent on Iran.

In the wake of the demonstrations and the regime’s brutal attempts to suppress them, President Barack Obama repeatedly failed to express America’s solidarity with the Iranian protesters. As a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, I recognized the lack of action for what it was: an abdication of American leadership.

The United States has long stood with those who yearn for freedom and a brighter future, and yet the president declined to stand with a proud people who sought to escape from under the heavy weight of a dictatorship, issuing only a delayed response condemning the regime’s violence. At the same time, the United States was failing to confront the leading state sponsor of terrorism — a mistake that endangered the safety and security of the American people and our allies.

The last administration’s refusal to act ultimately emboldened Iran’s tyrannical rulers to crack down on the dissent. The Green Revolution was ruthlessly put down, and the deadly silence on the streets of Iran matched the deafening silence from the White House. To this day, many Iranians blame the United States for abandoning them in their hour of need.

Today, the Iranian people are once again rising up to demand freedom and opportunity, and under President Trump, the United States is standing with them. This time, we will not be silent.


ROGER SIMON: Iran Protests Expose Mainstream Media as Reactionary, not Liberal.

Read the whole thing. Just think of the media as Democrat operatives with bylines desperate to keep Obama’s Iran deal alive and prevent Trump from having a key international victory occur on his watch (and fearing he’ll take full credit for it), and their de facto working for the mullahs all makes sense.

LEON PANETTA TURNS: Former Obama Official Calls Obama unAmerican on Iran Protests.

CRACKDOWN: Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Declares “The End Of The ’96 Sedition.”

Ed Morrissey:

The mullahs apparently didn’t want to wait to see whether its Astroturf protests would turn things around for them. Interestingly, they’re aiming the crackdown outside of Tehran and Qom, the two most significant cities for the ruling mullahs, and probably the most accessible to outside journalists. They want to quell the uprising outside of the view of the world, but more importantly, outside the view of other Iranians to the greatest extent possible.

This becomes the critical point of the uprising. The mullahs needed to act before the spirit of revolution infected the IRGC, but also before it got too far among the population. If the latter is true, an armed response to demonstrations might provoke an even wider rebellion that could overwhelm the IRGC. That’s why the mullahs waited this long before ordering their palace guards to open fire on the regime’s subjects. If they’ve mistimed the crackdown, it might be an end to the mullahs’ run of 7th-century rule by 21st-century technology.

At this point, however, the mullahs have given an opening for international intervention, including the reapplication of sanctions that the deal with Barack Obama ended. Donald Trump has been itching to reinstate those sanctions but has been held off by both the deal and our Western allies, who wanted to consider the matter closed. If the IRGC is opening fire on unarmed Iranians for dissent, they will have no choice but to take action, and it might even force Russia and China to allow for emergency action from the UN Security Council. That will make the economic situation even worse, which will prompt more protests — and perhaps disincentivize the IRGC rank and file in the longer run.

Watch for reports from dissenters about the status of the protests.

That might not be easy given Tehran’s social media crackdown, but to paraphrase Dr. Ian Malcolm, dissent finds a way.

YOU CAN’T HAVE IT BOTH WAYS: Former acting AG Sally Yates criticizes Trump for referring to career Justice Department officials as the “Deep State” You can’t go around trying to organize anti-Trump “resistance” in the federal civil service–or in Yates’ case actually engaging in real resistance by refusing to carry out your duties when you disagree with the president–and then squawk when the president suggests that the civil service may not be exactly neutral on the issues of the day. Trump’s best allies are the Obama administration veterans who live up to all his worst rhetoric.

(Bumped, by Glenn).

OUT: DEEP STATE. IN: DERP STATE. John Brennan thinks TRUMP blew it with the ‘moderates’ in Iran.

Watching the Obama foreign policy team pretend that they have a defensible track record never gets old.

LAWRENCE MEYERS: It’s Only Been the Apocalypse for Democrats.

Ever since The Day Democrats Reached Out, I’ve been watching the hilarious hyperbolic reactions to every Trump tweet, and each piece of lint that flutters through the Oval Office. The Democrat reaction to every single move by the Trump Administration amounts to, “We’re all gonna die”.

Remember the mass deportation of Mexicans? Neither do I. Yet we we’re all gonna die. My Democrat friends here in Southern Wackyfornia told me that their maids and nannies were terrified that they were going to be rounded up because Trump was a racist.

Remember the mass deportation of Muslims? Neither do I. Yet we we’re all gonna die. During the March of the Week Spectacular that occurred early in 2017, Democrats clogged airports to protest the 90-day visa hold – a policy enacted merely to ensure the safety of Americans.

Remember how Trump’s election empowered hate groups to go and beat innocent minorities, and that we were all gonna die? Neither do I. What I do remember is the leftist group ANTIFA, whose very name epitomizes the phrase “unintended irony”, beating the crap out of innocent Americans and starting riots every chance they got – oh, but usually to shut down free speech. It was so bad in Berkeley that even the Washington Post couldn’t ignore the truth.

Remember how Trump is Hitler and Steve Bannon is a white nationalist – and that we we’re all gonna die? Neither do I. I never quite understood how Trump could be Hitler given his staunch support of Israel, and having the courage to do what no other President did by acknowledging Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Election Day, 2018 will mark two years of turn-it-up-past-11 fear-mongering from the Left. The “professional left,” as Obama called it, seems to thrive on the constant shrieking, but you have to wonder how much good it’s doing with the more moderate voters they’ll need to mobilize for an off-year election.

OBAMA VETERANS CONTINUE TO BECLOWN THEMSELVES OVER IRAN: Former CIA Director Brennan hits Trump strategy on Iran

“With wholesale condemnation of Iran and nuclear deal over past year, Trump Admin squandered opportunity to bolster reformists in Tehran and prospects for peaceful political reform in Iran,” Brennan tweeted. “Bluster is neither a strategy nor a mechanism for exercise of U.S. power and influence.” Because eight years of appeasement, including the lifting of sanctions, illegally sending hundreds of millions of cash straight to the Iranian government, and allegedly easing up on Hezbollah worked so well. I’ll take the Trump Administration’s moral clarity on Iran over that any day.

WHY NOT? OBAMA IGNORED THEM NINE YEARS AGO. For Some Reason, Obama Officials Want People to Ignore Iran Protests.

REALITY BITES: Deep Freeze Ends a Dreadful 2017 for Climate Activists.

Folks are being warned about the health risks associated with sub-zero temperatures, which could last beyond the first week of the year and stretch as far south as east Texas. It’s even too cold for the most intrepid thrill-seekers: Cities are canceling the Polar Bear Plunge on New Year’s Day due to inhumane air and water temperatures.

It marks a frustrating end to a dreadful year for climate-change activists, who have been frozen out of the Trump Administration. After Trump’s election, environmentalists prophesied the end times, labeling the president and his advisors “anti-science” and bracing for catastrophe. Climate scientists and bureaucrats at scientific agencies reached out for counseling, seeking ways to cope with life under the Trump regime; many have resigned “in disgust.”

But for once, the climate crowd’s “dire” predictions came true. Our “Denier-in-Chief” wasted no time dismantling Obama’s climate change legacy by appointing climate skeptics to fill top cabinet posts, exiting the Paris Climate Accord, repealing the Clean Power Plan, scrubbing government websites of climate change references, and promoting American fossil-fuel use abroad. If this wasn’t bad enough for them, now the climate crowd is trying incoherently to explain to frigid Americans — who are muttering “global warming, my ass” under their double – wrapped scarves—how this frigid weather is actually caused by greenhouse gas emissions.

You’d think all the hot air would warm things up at least some, but no.

LIZ SHELD’S MORNING BRIEF: The Obama-Iran Twidiot Brigade and Much, Much More.


President Trump is on the hunt for a 2018 issue—a strong follow-up to his tax-cut victory that will motivate voters and gain bipartisan support. Democrats are pushing for an infrastructure bill, inviting the president to spend with them. House GOP leaders are mulling entitlement reform—a noble goal, if unlikely in a midterm cycle.

Fortunately for the president, there’s a better idea out there that’s already a Trump theme. It’s also a sure winner with the public, so Republicans ought to be able to pressure Democrats to join.

Let 2018 be the year of civil-service reform—a root-and-branch overhaul of the government itself. Call it Operation Drain the Swamp.

When Candidate Trump first referred to “the swamp,” he was talking about the bog of Beltway lobbyists and “establishment” politicians. But President Trump’s first year in office has revealed that the real swamp is the unchecked power of those who actually run Washington: the two million members of the federal bureaucracy. That civil-servant corps was turbocharged by the Obama administration’s rule-making binge, and it now has more power—and more media enablers—than ever. We live in an administrative state, run by a left-leaning, self-interested governing class that is actively hostile to any president with a deregulatory or reform agenda.

It’s Lois Lerner, the IRS official who used her powers to silence conservative nonprofits. It’s the “anonymous” officials who leak national-security secrets daily. It’s the General Services Administration officials who turned over Trump transition emails to Special Counsel Robert Mueller in the absence of a warrant. It’s the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Leandra English, who tried to stage an agency coup. It’s the EPA’s “Scientific Integrity Official” who has taken it upon herself to investigate whether Scott Pruitt is fit to serve in the office to which he was duly appointed. It’s the thousands of staffers across the federal government who continue to pump out reports on global warming and banking regulations that undermine administration policy.

More broadly, it is a federal workforce whose pay and benefits are completely out of whack with the private sector. A 2011 American Enterprise Institute study found federal employees receive wages 14% higher than what similar workers in the private sector earn. Factor in benefits and the compensation premium leaps to 61%. Nice, huh?

These huge payouts are the result of automatic increases, bonuses, seniority rules and gold-plated pensions that are all but extinct in the private sector. The federal workforce is also shielded by rules that make it practically impossible to fire or discipline bad employees, to relocate talent, or to reassign duties. These protections embolden bureaucrats to violate rules. Why was Ms. Lerner allowed to retire with full benefits? Because denying them would have cost far more—and required years of effort.

It’s been nearly 40 years since the last civil-service overhaul. Trump appointees are doing valiant work to shift the bureaucracy by canceling programs and using buyouts to cut staff. White House Counsel Don McGahn —a veteran at battling the federal career elite—is recruiting a generation of judicial nominees who are experts in administrative law. And Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget, tapped another administrative-law genius, Neomi Rao, to head the deregulatory effort.

Even so, Trump officials spend most of their days fighting rearguard actions against their own employees when they should be implementing the president’s broad vision across the executive branch. Since congressional Republicans refuse to slash agencies, the least they can do is make oversight a priority.

The slashing is good, too. Plus: “If Democrats insist on engaging in class warfare, Republicans should take on the governing class. Washington is now home to a bureaucratic elite, fantastically paid and protected, divorced from economic reality, and self-invested in thwarting conservative policy efforts. Let’s drain the swamp, or at least make it smaller.”

HMM: Kuwaiti report: US gives Israel go-ahead to kill powerful Iranian general. “US intelligence agencies have given Israel the green light to assassinate the senior Iranian responsible for coordinating military activity on behalf of the Islamic Republic in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq, according to the Kuwaiti newspaper al-Jarida.” Well, that’s possibly true. Possibly not.

But this, if true, seems bigger: “For the past 20 years or so, Qassem Soleimani has commanded the Quds Force — the branch of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards responsible for military and clandestine operations outside of the Islamic Republic. . . . Three years ago, Israel came close to assassinating Soleimani near Damascus, al-Jarida quoted unnamed source as saying, but the Americans tipped off the Iranians against the background of intense disagreement between Washington and Jerusalem. That was during the Obama administration, which, according to reports at the time, was so focused on securing the 2015 Iran nuclear accord that it chose to overlook and even obstruct efforts to clamp down on Iranian-backed terror organizations.”

And sadly plausible. (Emphasis added).

MORE COVERAGE OR IRANIAN PROTESTS AT RADIO FREE EUROPE/RADIO LIBERTY: Note to former President Obama: It’s the regime, stupid.

DEMOCRACY DIES IN KOWTOWING: In an article headlined “Iran blocks Instagram and Telegram apps, warns protesters will ‘pay the price’ for unrest,” the Washington Post’s Erin Cunningham goes on to describe Iranian President Hassan Rouhani as “moderate:”

From the capital, Tehran, to Kermanshah in the west and the holy city of Qom in the north, Iranians defied police to vent frustration against a government that allows limited space for political dissent.

Rouhani called on protesters to refrain from violence and damaging government property. After a night of escalating unrest saw attacks on government buildings and violent confrontations with police, the moderate president, reelected to a second term in May, took a conciliatory tone.

In stunning scenes, Iranian protesters chanted “Death to the dictator!” as they tore down posters of supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who holds absolute authority in Iran. Public criticism of Khamenei is generally taboo.

Omri Ceren of the Israel Project has screen shots of additional examples of such journalistic “moderation” and asks, “How many Iranians does the Iranian govt have to shoot in the streets before journalists stop calling that govt & president ‘moderate’?”

Just think of the media as still being Democratic activists with bylines who are still part of Ben Rhodes’ blob, and it all makes sense.

#NARRATIVEFAIL: In surprise, Trump maintains many Obama-era Russia policies.

FIXING OBAMA’S MISTAKES:  Iranian Protestors Rally for Regime Change And Freedom, Trump Calls For Support.

QUESTION ASKED AND ANSWERED:  Why Can’t the American Media Cover the Protests in Iran?

The short answer is that the American media is incapable of covering the story, because its resources and available story-lines for Iran reporting and expertise were shaped by two powerful official forces—the Islamic Republic of Iran, and the Obama White House. Without government minders providing them with story-lines and experts, American reporters are simply lost—and it shows.

It nearly goes without saying that only regime-friendly Western journalists are allowed to report from Iran, which is an authoritarian police state that routinely tortures and murders its political foes.”

Read the whole thing. And note this:

Networks like like CNN and MSNBC which have gambled their remaining resources and prestige on a #Resist business model are in even deeper trouble. Providing media therapy for a relatively large audience apparently keen to waste hours staring at a white truck obscuring the country club where Donald Trump is playing golf is their entire business model—a Hail Mary pass from a business that had nearly been eaten alive by Facebook and Google. First down! So it doesn’t matter how many dumb Trump-Russia stories the networks, or the Washington Post, or the New Yorker get wrong, as long as viewership and subscriptions are up—right?

The problem, of course, is that the places that have obsessively run those stories for the past year aren’t really news outfits—not anymore. They are in the aromatherapy business. And the karmic sooth-sayers and yogic flyers and mid-level political operators they employ as “experts” and “reporters” simply aren’t capable of covering actual news stories, because that is not part of their skill-set.

That dovetails perfectly with Robert Tracinski’s theory regarding the hard left bias of the network late night TV hosts – it’s the only way to keep what’s left of a inexorably shrinking audience.

QUESTION ASKED AND ANSWERED: Why Does CNN International Maintain a Twitter Blackout On This Major Event?

There are now a couple of tweets at CNN International around the theme of “President Trump tweets his support for protests taking place in Iran, writing, ‘The world is watching!’” and the same text adding, “Corrects to show photo of anti-government protests instead of pro-government protests.” But CNN International certainly isn’t watching. Their tweets include such blockbuster news as:

● “YouTube’s top viral video in 2017 was a singing man in an oyster costume. And who could forget the time this professor’s adorable kids crashed his BBC interview?”

● “It takes 300 people, 12,000 parts and a year to make a single Steinway & Sons piano. Here’s how the pianos are made.”

● “Apple offers $29 replacement batteries immediately.”

● “The World Health Organization will recognize gaming disorder as a mental health condition in 2018.”

● “Here are the full lyrics to ‘Auld Lang Syne’ so you don’t mumble your way through it.”

● “These were the exotic supercars of 2017.” *

Contrast that with a scroll down Glenn’s Twitter homepage right now. In order to prop up the mullahs and former President Obama, and avoid Trump being able to brag about spreading democracy during his watch, CNN International really seems determined to live-up to how the late Roger Ailes described the network to Brian Lamb in 2004:

Or as Jim Treacher once said:

* Exotic supercars? How can CNNi praise them when parent company CNN reported “John Kerry: Climate change as big a threat as terrorism, poverty, WMDs” in 2014?

A LITTLE LATE? Barack Obama urged to make public statement in support of Iranian protesters. Sorry, Obama picked sides already in this fight, though to be fair some of his hangers-on are already trying to credit him with overturning the Mullahs’ regime.

CNN’S IRAN CORRESPONDENT: World Thinks That America Doesn’t Have A ‘Moral Leg To Stand On’ [VIDEO].

And as Ace notes, “This Is CNN: Oh, they did cover the Iran rallies. The pro-government Iran rallies, I mean.”

Meanwhile, as Stephen Miller writes at Fox News, “The New York Times simply described the protests as economic grievances, the same way Iranian state-run television described them,” adding:

How will the Obama Presidential Library wing look celebrating a nuclear deal with an oppressive Iranian regime that could possibly be deposed by security forces and the military joining with protesters, thirsty for democracy and a return to an Iran before the 1979 revolution?

More to the point, how will it look if the Trump administration, of all things, facilitates and encourages such change in Iran?

The prospect of this is not lost on the self-styled resistance and anti-Trump media, all too anxious to witness the ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Obama Library or hand a Nobel Prize to former Secretary of State John Kerry.

Overseeing the fall of an oppressive, hardline Iranian regime that sponsors terror all around the globe – followed by the rise of a democratic Iran not interested in aggression against its neighbors – would be a foreign policy victory for President Trump, one of the biggest for a president since the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Take a bow, Valerie Jarrett and Ben Rhodes: In order to buy an extra 15 minutes for the charade of Obama’s Iran deal, you’ve reduced the DNC-MSM to shilling for the Iranian mullahs. I’ve heard vague reports they’re not entirely woke when it comes to LGBT issues and intersectional feminism, but I’m sure that’s all just rumors and hearsay.


LIBERAL HUMILIATION: Roger Simon compares Trump’s Iran-Protest response to Obama’s. “What we also know is that the Donald J. Trump administration has taken the exact opposite approach from the Obama administration to events in Iran. They are unqualifiedly — and immediately — supporting the demonstrators and democracy. Bravo!”

BECAUSE TRUMP ISN’T OBAMA?  Iranians Revolt. Why Now?

THIS IS MY SHOCKED FACE:  Spielberg, Streep Dodge Killer Obama Question.

THAT WAS FAST: Trump State Department Comes Out In Support of Iran Protests. Sharp contrast to the Obama response in 2009.


The Secret Service and the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office both denied responsibility for the truck, causing CNN to launch into full-on conspiracy theory mode.

“Today this truck showed up out of nowhere and actually moved at one point when our journalists tried to get a different angle,” CNN’s Ryan Nobles cried. “It’s clear no one wanted us to get a picture of the president golfing.”

The Secret Service responded to CNN’s inquiries about the truck with an appropriate level of snark, stating, “The USSS is in the business of protection and investigations not in commissioning vehicles to block the media’s view of the president’s golf swing.”

CNN will get to the bottom of who the truck driver was – and then doxx the daylights out of him. You know they don’t take any guff from their viewers at Time-Warner-CNN-HBO.


23: The number of times over the past day that CNN has mentioned the white box truck that obscured view of Trump golfing.

0: For comparison, the number of times CNN has mentioned that Politico report on Obama admin’s quashing of Hezbollah investigation.


Update: “At this point, I think the only way we get CNN off this dumb truck story is if we tell them there are Hezbollah drug runners released by Obama behind it.” Heh, indeed.™

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

MARC THIESSEN: Trump’s Little-Noticed War On Hidden Taxes. “He worked with Congress to repeal 14 major regulations implemented under Obama, and withdrew or delayed more than 1,500 others by executive action. Most importantly, he issued Executive Order 13771, which directed government agencies to eliminate two existing regulations for each new one issued, and to ensure that the net costs of any new regulations are zero. Last Thursday, Trump announced the first results of this effort: His administration achieved $8.1 billion in lifetime regulatory savings — and is on track to achieve an additional $9.8 billion in savings in fiscal 2018. Since excessive regulations are a hidden tax on American workers and businesses, that amounts to an $18 billion tax cut.” It’s a good start.

FARAWAY, SO CLOSE: Bono Won’t Work With Trump: ‘You Can’t Believe’ What He Says.

Huh – that’s never stopped Bono before: Bono and the Obamas Brunch in the Big Apple — and Get a Standing Ovation.

MICHAEL LEDEEN: The First Anti-American President.

Barack Obama will no doubt be chronicled, among other things, as the first anti-American president. No wonder; he’s the product of an educational system that has become increasingly radical and anti-American with each passing decade, and his mother was a stereotypical leftist anthropologist with a passion for the Third World.

The pattern is unmistakable. As Luis Fleischman notes, Obama wanted to make deals with our enemies, Iran being the most dramatic example.

That’s just the intro. Read the whole thing.


Related: Pew: Trump media three times more negative than for Obama, just 5 percent positive.

WINNING: ISIS has lost 98 percent of its territory — mostly since Trump took office, officials say.

The massive gains come after years of “onerous” rules, when critics say the Obama administration “micromanaged” the war and shunned a more intensive air strategy that could have ended the conflict much sooner.

“The rules of engagement under the Obama administration were onerous. I mean what are we doing having individual target determination being conducted in the White House, which in some cases adds weeks and weeks,” said retired Air Force Lt. Gen. David Deptula, the former head of U.S. Air Force intelligence. “The limitations that were put on actually resulted in greater civilian casualties.”

And this is an important reminder:

AND THIS FLASHBACK FROM VOX: The latest anti-ISIS strategy from the Pentagon looks a lot like the one under the Obama administration.

This timeline makes clear the two worrying trends underlying Trump’s approach to ISIS. As a candidate, he largely bragged about a secret, foolproof plan that didn’t exist and, as Vox’s Yochi Dreazen and Jennifer Williams explain, couldn’t have been executed anyway. Now as president, Trump has not only continued to be reticent on his plan but seems to have clocked out from devising his ISIS strategy entirely, ceding an alarming degree of power to the military.

Neither of these approaches bodes well moving forward.

That was in July. December looks much different, doesn’t it?

Rebecca Tan’s piece was meant to rebuke Trump, but instead is inadvertently devastating to Barack Obama. Obama apparently had the same plans Trump did, or near enough, but chose to impose “onerous” rules of engagement and let innocents die, rather than contradict his pet theory about terrorism. Trump’s “secret” plan may have been nothing more complicated than lifting the Obama-era ROEs which stood between the Coalition and victory over ISIS — and while that might not seem like much of a secret plan, it was enough.

Or as Gen. George Patton once said, “A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.” Obama had a good plan years ago, and chose to execute it never. Trump took the same plan and executed it immediately.

The difference is what is known as “winning.”

MICHAEL BARONE: Trying To Take Trump Seriously.

Their deep reduction in the corporate tax rate, from the highest in the developed world to below average, obviously incentivized both U.S.- and foreign-based firms to invest here. Trump’s rejection of the Trans Pacific Partnership and renegotiation of NAFTA, in Cowen’s view, will make lesser-developed Asian nations and Mexico less attractive alternatives to the U.S. for investors.

Trump critics are right to say that this upends—the regnant cliché—the thrust of American policy since the years just after World War II. Then there was bipartisan agreement on encouraging free trade and foreign investment, as economist Douglas Irwin writes in Clashing Over Commerce. Europe was in ruins and voters thought its revival was in our interest.

But that was 70 years ago, and economic situations seldom remain static so long. A revived Europe has turned sluggish, while low-wage nations in Asia, Latin America, and even Africa are open for investment. First Japan, then China, now others will be moving up as competitors.

America has proved competitive at the top levels. But a country whose labor force is always going to include many low-skill workers may have some continuing interest in incentivizing low-skill employment. That’s not Cowen’s view or mine, but it’s apparently President Trump’s. Maybe it’s not just dismissible as crazy ranting.

Something similar may be said for the Trump foreign policy, considered as a perhaps unstable amalgam of his sober drafted national security Strategy and his sometimes impulsive tweets. This view explicated by David P. Goldman, writing this month in the Asia Times.

Trump’s view, Goldman argues, is of an America that is more competitive than cooperative, not necessarily hostile to others but not willing to rely on assertions of abstract common interests. “Competition does not always mean hostility, nor does it inevitably lead to conflict—although none should doubt our commitment to defend our interests.”

The national security strategy has a tough enough approach to Russia to disabuse all but the most dogmatic believers of the notion that Trump is Russian President Vladimir Putin’s Manchurian candidate. It is sharply critical of some actions by President Xi Jinping’s China. It drops former President George W. Bush’s earnest promotion of democracy in the Middle East and former President Barack Obama’s gauzy faith that Iran will abandon its nuclear weapons program and become a normal constructive power in the region.

Read the whole thing.

LIZ SHELD’S MORNING BRIEF: More Jobs in 2018, Obama’s Echo Chamber and Much, Much More.


● Shot:

As part of her Let’s Move campaign, [Michelle Obama] wants to help families make better choices — especially the 23.5 million Americans living in largely urban, low-income areas where access to healthy food can be spotty.

The White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity has identified this challenge of bringing more nutritious, affordable foods to so-called food deserts as one of the key pillars to solving the epidemic.

“We can give people all of the information in the world about healthy eating… but if parents can’t buy the food they need to prepare those meals… if their only options for groceries are in the corner gas station or the local mini mart, then all of that is just talk… and that’s not what Let’s Move is about,” she said.

—“First Lady: Let’s Move Fruits And Veggies To ‘Food Deserts,’” NPR, July 20, 2011.

And what happens if businesses go along with this, and take the risk of installing Whole Foods or farmers’ markets-style venues in higher crime urban areas? As they at the college that gave us the esteemed Senator Blutarsky, you f***ed up; you trusted us. And — unexpectedly! — you’ll be called a racist either way.

● Chaser:

Two professors from San Diego State University claim…that 44 percent of San Diego’s farmers’ markets cater to “households from higher socio-economic backgrounds,” which raises property values and “[displaces] low-income residents and people of color.”

“The most insidious part of this gentrification process is that alternative food initiatives work against the community activists and residents who first mobilized to fight environmental injustices and provide these amenities but have significantly less political and economic clout than developers and real estate professionals,” the academics write.

The men claim that negative externalities of “white habitus” formed at farmers’ markets can be managed through “inclusive steps that balance new initiatives and neighborhood stability to make cities ‘just green enough.’”*

—“Professors claim farmers’ markets cultivate racism: ‘Habits of white people are normalized,’” the Washington Times, yesterday.

* “Just green enough?” I knew Al Gore declared Mission Accomplished on radical environmentalism when he sold off his cable television network to Big Oil five years ago; it’s nice to see his fellow far leftists confirm that.

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

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

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

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

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

But she’s the Smartest Woman Ever.

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

WHAT IF THE SWAMP IS TOO HUGE TO BE DRAINED? That’s something lots of readers may ask after reviewing Open The Books’ “Mapping The Swamp” report on the true size and cost of the “administrative state” that is the federal Leviathan. As always, Adam Andrzejewski, Open The Books indefatigable chief, drew the report from data required to be made public by the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006, co-sponsored by senators Tom Coburn, R-Ok., and Barack Obama, D-Ilin.

JOSH MEYER GETS AN ECHO CHAMBER BEAT-DOWN: Politico reporter is punished for raising the curtain on Obama’s Hezbollah policy.

Twitter mob attacks by a name-calling scrum of mid-level bureaucrats, “security correspondents” for instant news outfits like Buzzfeed, interns at various NGOs and their self-credentialed “expert” bosses, partisan bot herders, and their Lord of the Flies puppet-masters are part of the price of doing journalism these days. Write something negative, and you’ll get dirtied up—and maybe some of the dirt will stick, who knows. These attacks are intended to be punitive. Brave or foolhardy reporters who deviate from the party line—the party in question being the Democrats, of course, since the representation of conservatives in newsrooms is generally reported to be somewhere in the single digits—and especially their colleagues watching from the sidelines, are meant to absorb a simple but all-important lesson: Get on the team, or else shut up. Watching even seasoned pros succumb to this kind of adolescent pressure game and publicly suck up to bullying flacks while throwing shade on members of their own profession is a depressingly normal occurrence, which shows that the two once-separate professions—partisan flackery, and reporting the news—have merged into a single, mindless borg.

As Ben Rhodes, the failed novelist who stumbled into posing as Mr. Obama’s Middle East “advisor” sniffed last-year when discussing his DNC-MSM groupies with the New York Times:

Rhodes singled out a key example to me one day, laced with the brutal contempt that is a hallmark of his private utterances. “All these newspapers used to have foreign bureaus,” he said. “Now they don’t. They call us to explain to them what’s happening in Moscow and Cairo. Most of the outlets are reporting on world events from Washington. The average reporter we talk to is 27 years old, and their only reporting experience consists of being around political campaigns. That’s a sea change. They literally know nothing.”

But they still know how to answer the Bat-Signal, apparently.

CHUTZPAH: Former President Obama talks Internet polarization.

“THAT’S BARACK OBAMA, sounding like he’s been reading Scott Adams’ book.”

WALL STREET JOURNAL: Stopping a Student-Loan Scam: Betsy DeVos shuts down an Obama-era invitation to fraud.

After nationalizing student lending, the Obama Administration sought to reduce the government’s $1.3 trillion loan portfolio by allowing disgruntled borrowers to discharge their debt. Last week Education Secretary Betsy DeVos ended this fraud against taxpayers.

After driving Corinthian Colleges out of business in 2014, the Education Department implemented a haphazard process to forgive loans of students who claimed to have been ripped off by the defunct for-profit. Tens of thousands of claims poured in, overwhelming department staff.

The backlog of claims ballooned after predatory regulators forced the closure of ITT Technical Institute in 2016. Liberal groups urged the Obama Administration to forgive loans of borrowers who had attended other for-profits, spurring the department to initiate a “borrower defense” rule-making to allow students who purported misrepresentations by their colleges to discharge their loans. The midnight rule, finalized last November, authorized the Education Department to discharge debts on a class-wide basis—for instance, all borrowers who had attended a certain college within the last five years.

The Obama Administration approved roughly 15,000 claims between June 25, 2015 and January 1, 2017. During President Obama’s final three weeks in office, the department hurried out 16,000 approvals. No claims were denied. The total taxpayer tab for discharges: $450 million.

If you’re going to discharge student debt, the educational institutions that received the money should pay a price. Skin in the game.

CHANGE: Arab States Tiring Of Palestinian Overreaction To Trump’s Jerusalem Call.

More than anything, the unofficial rapprochement between Israel and the Arab states is a measure of growing Iranian power due to Obama’s empowerment policy towards Tehran.

SHARYL ATTKISSON: 10 times the intel community violated the trust of US citizens, lawmakers and allies.

Here are three:

Olympic spying

In 2002, the NSA reportedly engaged in “blanket surveillance” of the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah, collecting and storing “virtually all electronic communications going into or out of the Salt Lake City area, including … emails and text messages” to “experiment with and fine tune a new scale of mass surveillance.” NSA officials had denied such a program existed.

Spying on Congress

In 2005 intel officials intercepted and recorded phone conversations between then-Congresswoman Jane Harman (D-Calif.) and pro-Israel lobbyists who were under investigation for espionage. In 2009, someone — exactly who was never revealed — leaked Harman’s “unmasked” name to the press. In 2011, intel officials captured private communications between then-Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) and a Libyan official. The wiretapped recordings were later leaked to the press — again, by unknown sources.

Journalist “witch hunts”

Internal emails from a “global intelligence company” executive in 2010 stated: “Brennan is behind the witch hunts of investigative journalists learning information from inside the beltway sources. Note — There is specific tasker from the [White House] to go after anyone printing materials negative to the Obama agenda (oh my.) Even the FBI is shocked.” The name “Brennan” appears to reference then-U.S. homeland security adviser John Brennan, who went on to become CIA director.

If we had a Congress that was worth a damn and a press corps that wasn’t wedded to Washington, this wouldn’t be a problem.

MERRY CHRISTMAS: Flashback: Trump Tax Plan Has No Shot of Passing in 2017, Obama Official Says.


The New York Times’s Roger Cohen, an occasionally iconoclastic left-wing journalist, composed an inspired masterpiece of anti-Trump oratorical obloquy: “Wondering, If This Is America.” Cohen, an international columnist for the paper born in London, mustered his high indignation not only of President Trump (aka “Mussolini’s understudy”) but of America itself.

Cohen sold his Saturday edition article on Twitter as “Turkmenistan-on-the-Potomac: If This Is America.”

If this is America, with a cabinet of terrorized toadies genuflecting to the Great Leader, a vice president offering a compliment every 12 seconds to Mussolini’s understudy, and a White House that believes in “alternative facts,” then it is time to “keep your head when all about you are losing theirs.”

Flashback to Thomas Friedman, also of the New York Times, in September of 2009:

Watching both the health care and climate/energy debates in Congress, it is hard not to draw the following conclusion: There is only one thing worse than one-party autocracy, and that is one-party democracy, which is what we have in America today.

One-party autocracy certainly has its drawbacks. But when it is led by a reasonably enlightened group of people, as China is today, it can also have great advantages.

As Jonah Goldberg wrote in response, “Thomas Friedman is a Liberal Fascist:”

Now, of course, there are “drawbacks” to such a system: crushing of dissidents with tanks, state control of reproduction, government control of the press and the internet. Omelets and broken eggs, as they say. More to the point, Friedman insists, these “drawbacks” pale in comparison to the system we have today here in America.

I cannot begin to tell you how this is exactly the argument that was made by American fans of Mussolini in the 1920s. It is exactly the argument that was made in defense of Stalin and Lenin before him (it’s the argument that idiotic, dictator-envying leftists make in defense of Castro and Chavez today). It was the argument made by George Bernard Shaw who yearned for a strong progressive autocracy under a Mussolini, a Hitler or a Stalin (he wasn’t picky in this regard). This is the argument for an “economic dictatorship” pushed by Stuart Chase and the New Dealers. It’s the dream of Herbert Croly and a great many of the Progressives.

Similarly, I’ve been meaning to link to this NewsBusters post from this past Thursday: “Irony! [Chris] Matthews Trashes ‘Trumpkins’ Praying to ‘Sun King,’ Calls Tax Reform ‘Greatest Shorting’ Ever.”

On Friday, Noah Rothman of Commentary explored “The Death Rattle of Obama’s Reputation:”

The members of Barack Obama’s administration in exile have become conspicuously noisy of late—even more so than usual. Former CIA Director John Brennan accused Donald Trump and his administration of engaging in “outrageous,” “narcissistic” behavior typical of “vengeful autocrats” by threatening proportionate retaliation against countries that voted to condemn the United States in the United Nations, as though that were unprecedented. It is not. James Clapper, Obama’s director of national intelligence, all but alleged that the president is a Russian “asset.” Perhaps the most acerbic and incendiary series of accusations from the former Democratic president’s foreign-policy professionals were placed in the New York Times by Obama’s national security advisor, Susan Rice. In her estimation, America has abdicated its role as a “force for good.”

It’s no coincidence that these overheated condemnations accompany abundant evidence that the Trump administration is finding its legs. As the last administration’s undeserved reputation as sober-minded foreign policy rationalists is dismantled one retrospective report at a time, its jilted members are lashing out.

Leftwing pundits such as Matthews and Friedman produced an astonishing amount of silly material worshipping Dear Leader in 2009. As his reputation becomes increasingly impossible for even his worst toadies (to borrow Cohen’s phrase regarding Mike Pence) to defend, their amnesia will likely only increase in direct proportion to their lashing out to Trump and his administration.

UPDATE (FROM GLENN): Remember this?