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REPORT: Conservative Colorado judge emerges as a top contender to fill Scalia’s Supreme Court seat.

Judge Neil M. Gorsuch, a highly regarded conservative jurist best known for upholding religious liberty rights in the legal battles over Obamacare, has emerged as a leading contender for President Trump’s first Supreme Court nomination.

Gorsuch, 49, was among 21 potential high court candidates circulated by Trump’s team during the campaign, but his stock has been rising lately as several admirers and supporters have been named to positions in the Trump administration.

He currently serves on the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver. A former clerk for Justice Byron White, also a Colorado native, and Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, he served in the George W. Bush administration’s Justice Department.

In Gorsuch, supporters see a jurist who has strong academic credentials, a gift for clear writing and a devotion to deciding cases based on the original meaning of the Constitution and the text of statutes, as did the late Justice Antonin Scalia.

Just as importantly, Gorsuch is seen as someone who might be more easily confirmed in the Senate. Unlike other appointees of President George W. Bush, Gorsuch won an easy Senate confirmation on a voice vote in 2006.

His relatively young age would be another plus.

But Gorsuch’s easy confirmation in 2006 is no guarantee of future results. Democrats are perfectly willing to go to the mattresses against a nominee for a high position they once supported for a lower position.

OBAMA ETHICS DIRECTOR WALTER SHAUB GETS BIPARTISAN CONDEMNATION FOR POLITICIZING THE OFFICE OF GOVERNMENT ETHICS. “During a closed-door meeting of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Shaub was heavily criticized for the dramatic politicization of his supposedly nonpartisan government agency. Chairman Jason Chaffetz led things off by blasting Shaub for his inappropriate tweets. . . . Congressman Elijah Cummings (D-MD) echoed Chairman Chaffetz when he censured Shaub’s actions too, going so far as calling them unprofessional.” I think President Trump should replace him with someone more ethical.

SAMANTHA POWER REINVENTS OBAMA’S RUSSIA RECORD: Samantha Power is going to have to reinvent her legacy as well. She was a failure and she can’t face it.

FORMER OBAMA AIR FORCE SECRETARY: Intensifying ISIS War Would Kill More Innocents.

Presumably ISIS just leaves innocents alone?

OF COURSE WE DID: U.S. quietly sent $221M to Palestinians in Obama’s last hours.

Officials said Monday that the Obama administration– in its waning hours– defied Republican opposition and quietly released $221 million to the Palestinian Authority that GOP members of Congress had been blocking.

A State Department official and several congressional aides told The Associated Press that the outgoing administration formally notified Congress it would spend the money Friday morning.

The official said former Secretary of State John Kerry had informed some lawmakers of the move shortly before he left the State Department for the last time Thursday.

The aides said written notification dated Jan. 20 was sent to Congress just hours before Donald Trump took the oath of office.

The money had been previously approved by Congress, but members of the House Appropriations Committee had placed a hold on it, a request which the executive branch usually respects.

JUST DROPPING BY TO CHEW THE FAT WITH VALERIE JARRETT, I’M SURE: Former Iranian Official, Pro-Tehran Lobbyist Hosted at Obama White House Dozens of Times.

KIDS ARE OFF-LIMITS. PERIOD. Katie Rich of ‘S.N.L.’ Is Suspended for Tweet Mocking Barron Trump.

GOP staffer Elizabeth Lauten resigned permanently from Congressman Steve Fincher’s staff after making fun of the Obamas’ daughters.

FUNDAMENTALLY DE-TRANSFORMED? Glad to see Obama go, Gulf Arabs expect Trump to counter Iran.

RED STATE BLUES: Albany, Georgia, Had Two Horrific Storms This Month. Trump Offered Aid, Obama Didn’t.

ANALYSIS: TRUE. Senior Israeli Diplomat Dore Gold Says Obama’s Arrogance Hurt Relationship with Israel.

The interview (in Hebrew) started with Gold relating a story from the funeral of Shimon Peres four months ago. He spoke of Prime Minister Netanyahu greeting each world leader who came to the funeral individually. As each leader left, Netanyahu shook their hands and exchanged a few niceties. Suddenly there was a phone call from Air Force One which along with the crew carried President Barack Obama, former President Bill Clinton, and Secretary of State [never will be president] John Kerry.

Yoav Horowitz, Netanyahu’s chief of staff, answered the phone because the Prime Minister was trying to see off the other leaders

“Tell your boss that if he wants a funeral like Peres’, he should begin to move, to go forward.” the American voice on the other end said. Horowitz passed on the message immediately. “Tell him,” Netanyahu responded, “that I give up the honor, because I have no intention of participating in the funeral of my country.”

So what Obama was trying to say to Netanyahu in his crass manner, If you “move forward” then you will be world-famous and admired and you will have a splendid funeral like Peres with dozens of world leaders coming to pay tribute.

Can you imagine the chutzpah it must take to tell an elected foreign leader what kind of funeral he’s going to get?

ASIA PIVOT: China, Philippines agree to cooperate on 30 projects worth $3.7 billion.

Philippine Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez said he had a “very productive” meeting with Gao and they had discussed large projects in rural areas, as well as some smaller projects.

The deal is the first announcement from a two-day visit by a Philippine cabinet delegation to China that comes three months after President Rodrigo Duterte visited Beijing to pave the way for new commercial alliances.

China has welcomed Duterte’s foreign policy shift away from traditional ally the United States and toward doing more regional deals for loans and business under his “pro-Filipino” policy.

Relations between the Philippines and China “fully recovered” after Duterte’s visit, and “China supports president Duterte to lead the Philippines people in developing their economy,” Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a regular news briefing on Monday.

Who lost the Philippines? Obama did.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE, KAFKA-WOULD-CRY EDITION: An unwanted touch. Two lives in free fall. A dispatch from the drive to stop sexual assault on campus.

The facts are largely undisputed: Two college students on summer break – he’s a sophomore; she, a freshman – make a date. It’s Memorial Day weekend, 2014, and their intentions are explicit. They meet and have sex – consensual, enthusiastic – when a passerby interrupts them.

A few hours later, still together, the male student attempts to resume the sexual encounter. He reaches under her shirt to touch her breast. He stops immediately when she asks him to. They agree about these facts.

Yet this “one-time, non-consensual touching,” as university documents summarize it, is the crux of a startling Michigan State University sexual misconduct case. It has generated a thick stack of legal documents, months of MSU administrator time, and tens of thousands of dollars in legal bills since the female student, known here as Melanie, formally complained on Sept. 25, 2015 – almost 16 months after the incident.

More importantly, though, the case – which has traveled through an internal appeals process, exhausting the now-22-year-old man’s hope for reversal of sanctions at the university level – challenges what some might see as common-sense assumptions about sex and dating behavior. MSU’s findings draw sharply etched lines into the blurry world of dating intimacy and reveal the power of university administrators to mark a student as a sexual offender – for touching a lover’s breast after sex, miles from campus, without any accusations of violence, intimidation or stalking behavior.

Well, when you start with the presumption — and they most certainly do — that all men are basically rapists who exist on sufferance, it all makes sense. I expect that the Trump Administration will bring some common sense to this kind of thing, although if they really want to hurt higher education they should probably just double down.

Oh well, maybe it’ll at least do K.C. Johnson and Stuart Taylor some good.

GRASSROOTS: Soros Has Links to 56 ‘Partners’ of the Women’s March on Washington.

I was about to ask if there was any part of the Protesting Left which isn’t bought and paid for, but then I remembered that even the Obama Administration dismissed them as “the professional Left.”

POOR BARACK. HE’S ALREADY A NOSTALGIA ACT. The Story of an Iconic Obama Campaign Chant, Animated.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: Obama’s Student-Loan Fiasco: A ‘coding error’ helped justify a punitive new education regulation.

President Trump has promised to restore trust and accountability in government. How about auditing the Education Department? During its final days the Obama Administration slipped the news that its College Scorecard repayment rates were inflated, and on closer inspection the mistake doesn’t look innocent or innocuous.

In early January the department disclosed that it had discovered a “coding error” that incorrectly computed College Scorecard repayment rates—that is, the percentage of borrowers who haven’t defaulted and have repaid at least one dollar of their loan principal. The department says the error “led to the undercounting of some borrowers who had not reduced their loan balances by at least one dollar.”

The department played down the mistake, but the new average three-year repayment rate has declined by 20 percentage points to 46%. This is huge. It means that fewer than half of undergraduate borrowers at the average college are paying down their debt.

The rest have either defaulted, sought forbearance or enrolled in income-based repayment plans, which are causing many borrowers who are only making minimum payments to owe more debt due to accrued interest. These income-based repayment plans allow borrowers to reduce their loan payments to 10% of their discretionary income and discharge their remaining debt after 20 years (10 if they work for government or a nonprofit). . . .

The other scandal is that the Obama Administration used the inflated Scorecard repayment data as a pretext to single out for-profit colleges for punitive regulation. The punishment was tucked into a rule finalized in October allowing borrowers who claim their college defrauded them to discharge their debt. It requires for-profits in which 50% or fewer borrowers are paying down their principal to post the equivalent of a surgeon general’s warning in all promotional materials.

When proposing the regulation, the department claimed that its analysis of Scorecard data showed that a large number of for-profits have repayment rates below 50% while very few public or nonprofit schools do. The department said it would not be fair to “burden” public and nonprofit colleges with a regulation that would apply to so few. Yet based on the updated data, 60% of two-year public colleges and nearly all historically black institutions have repayment rates below 50%.

Traditional higher-ed is a major source — perhaps the single biggest source — of donations and footsoldiers for the Democrats. Hence, special treatment.

TRUMP AND THE PRESS: So yesterday I was on the BBC talking about Trump, the press, and what’s going on. Here’s a bit of an expansion.

First, the thing to understand is that, as I’ve said before, one of the changes going on with Trump generally is the renegotiation of various post-World War II institutional arrangements. One of those is the institutional arrangement involving the press and the White House. For decades, the press got special status because it was seen as both powerful, and institutionally responsible. (And, of course, allied with the Democrats who were mostly in charge of setting up those postwar institutional arrangements). Now those things have changed. If the press were powerful, it would have beaten Trump. If it were responsible, it wouldn’t be running away with fake news whenever it sees a chance to run something damaging to Trump. And, of course, there’s no alliance between Trump and the media, as there was with Obama.

So things will change. The press’s “insider” status — which it cherishes — is going to fade. (This is producing waves of status anxiety, as are many other Trump-induced institutional changes). And, having abandoned, quite openly, any pretense of objectivity and neutrality in the election, the press is going to be treated as an enemy by the Trump Administration until further notice.

In fact, Trump’s basically gaslighting them. Knowing how much they hate him, he’s constantly provoking them to go over the top. Sean Spicer’s crowd-size remarks are all about making them seem petty and negative. (And, possibly, teeing up crowd-size comparisons at next week’s March For Life, which the press normally ignores but which Trump will probably force them to cover).

Trump knows that the press isn’t trusted very much, and that the less it’s trusted, the less it can hurt him. So he’s prodding reporters to do things that will make them less trusted, and they’re constantly taking the bait. They’re taking the bait because they think he’s dumb, and impulsive, and lacking self-control — but he’s the one causing them to act in ways that are dumb and impulsive, and demonstrate lack of self-control. As Richard Fernandez writes on Facebook, they think he’s dumb because they think he has lousy taste, but there are a lot of scarily competent guys out there in the world who like white and gold furniture. And, I should note, Trump has more media experience than probably 99% of the people covering him. (As Obama operative Ben Rhodes gloated with regard to selling a dishonest story on the Iran deal, the average reporter the Obama White House dealt with “is 27 years old, and their only reporting experience consists of being around political campaigns.” In Rhodes’ words, “they literally know nothing.”)

The counter-move for the press isn’t to double down on anti-Trump messaging. The counter-move is to bolster its own trustworthiness by acting more neutral and sober, and by being more trustworthy. If the news media actually focused on reporting facts accurately and straightforwardly, on leaving opinion to the pundits, and on giving Trump a clearly fair shake, then Trump’s tactics wouldn’t work, and any actual dirt they found on him would do actual damage. He’s betting on the press being insufficiently mature and self-controlled to manage that. So far, his bet is paying off.

That’s too bad. If we had a better press, we’d be much better off as a nation. But we don’t.

AL HUNT: Nope, the Oval Office Won’t Change Trump.

It certainly didn’t change Barack Obama, who entered the Oval Office as a know-it-all agitator looking to bring America down a notch or two, and left the same way.

Trump Poised to Wield Executive Power to Make Immigration Changes.

On immigration, advocates on both sides of the issue expect the administration to toughen enforcement by deporting more people and reversing Obama administration rules protecting young people brought to the U.S. illegally as children.

Frustrated by Congress’s unwillingness to pass immigration legislation, Mr. Obama used executive power to target enforcement to serious criminals and recent border crossers, and to give safe harbor from deportation and work permits to young, so-called Dreamers. Conservatives said he was acting beyond his authority, and when he tried to extend that safe harbor to millions more people, the move was blocked by the courts.

Mr. Trump also is likely to reject refugees from Syria and other Muslim nations, and cut grant funding for so-called sanctuary cities that don’t cooperate with federal immigration authorities.

Obligatory:

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SALENA ZITO: How Trump made small-town America matter again.

By the time he arrived in Pennsylvania in April, a state that had not seen a contentious Republican primary since the 1980 Ronald Reagan-George H.W. Bush contest, Trump had already annihilated 15 of his 17 Republican rivals.

And while no one was looking, 90,000 registered Democrats switched their affiliation to vote for him in the primary.

The only two left to battle against him in the Keystone State were Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who was born there, and Cruz, who had built up an army of pledged delegates in the state. Pennsylvania has a quirky delegate system: The winner is not who has the most votes, but who has the most pledged delegates, a process that requires a candidate to have deep establishment connections to the delegates and the willingness to win them over.

Cruz had plenty of that and Kasich was trying, but Trump was about to show everyone he knew how to connect when needed. *

The drive from Pittsburgh to Harrisburg on old US Route 22 to see Trump’s first rally took an hour longer than on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, but the trip began to tell the story of how this candidate would most definitely be the Republican nominee, and possibly the president.

Town after town was worn down by neglect. Main Street shopping districts were half boarded up, sometimes with only a Dollar General store serving as an anchor. Voters were angry with Washington, DC, disappointed in President Obama, and were tired that every time they sent DC a message with their votes, elected officials misread it. . . .

As with Trump’s visits to Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin, experts chuckled at the waste of time and effort in states they believed he would never win. But the campaign believed there were plenty of Trump-Pence voters hiding in plain sight.

In the end, he pulled off a stunning win in Pennsylvania, turning out voters in counties like Luzerne, Erie, Cambria, Washington and Westmoreland at a rate that eventually would offset Hillary Clinton’s solid numbers in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

The key was picking off Obama Democrats in the suburbs and rural areas, and getting regular Republican midterm voters, but squeamish presidential voters, energized. It worked. Just as it worked in Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Florida and North Carolina.

Trump’s win was threefold. It occurred during populist unrest; he was unlike anyone whom voters had ever seen before; and the experts misjudged how disliked Obama’s policies were, because the focus was too much on his personal popularity.

Data were never able to track that type of emotional push against government.

One way to look at this election is via Tyler Cowen’s suggestion that in America, presidential elections are as much about various groups rising or falling in status as about policy. This perhaps explains the status anxiety behind so much Trump Derangement.

WAPO: With executive order, Trump tosses a ‘bomb’ into fragile health insurance markets.

Prior to Trump’s “bomb,” if you liked your plan you could keep it under ObamaCare, and same with your doctor.

NO, BUT ANYONE WHO SAID THIS ABOUT OBAMA WOULD HAVE BEEN DESTROYED: No, Madonna’s ‘I have thought an awful lot about blowing up the White House’ isn’t a threat of violence.

FOR THE RECORD, PORTUGAL — NOT THE BEST ORGANIZED COUNTRY IN THE WORLD — HAS VERY THOROUGH VOTER ID LAWS: Obama’s Final Whopper as President.

ADRIANA COHEN: No hats off to rallies’ huge double standard.

Of course none of these women were up in arms and protesting when Hillary “went low” by calling Republicans “deplorables” and comparing conservatives to “terrorist groups.” Liberal women everywhere gave her a pass. They also looked the other way when she didn’t walk the walk when it came to advocating for equal pay for women while serving as a U.S. senator for New York. Senate financial expenditures show Hillary gave the majority of the top-paying jobs to men.

Under Hillary’s watch, women made 72 cents on the man’s dollar — a fact that didn’t result in widespread demonstrations.

These “pussyhatters” also gave President Obama a monumental pass for failing women economically.

Under Obama’s watch, more than 2 million women fell into poverty, according to 2014 Census Bureau reports. The Obama administration also failed to put “equal pay” into practice over the last two terms. But these left-wing women — with their blatant double standards — chose to turn their rage against Trump instead.

That’s the goal.

JOEL POLLAK ON BARACK OBAMA, THE GOD THAT FAILED:

The South African political observer R. W. Johnson wrote in 2001 that the left-wing parties of post-colonial Africa shared what he called a “common theology”:

They do not merely represent the masses but in a sense they are the masses, and as such they cannot really be wrong. Second, according to the theology, their coming to power represents the end of a process. No further group can succeed them for that would mean that the masses, the forces of righteousness, had been overthrown. That, in turn, could only mean that the forces of racism and colonialism, after sulking in defeat and biding their time, had regrouped and launched a counter-attack.

Johnson had in mind formerly “progressive” parties such as the Zimbabwe African National Union-Popular Front (Zanu-PF) and South Africa’s African National Congress (ANC). But his description could apply just as easily to Obama’s Democrats.

Read the whole thing, which is a reminder that bad things (and bad luck) inevitably result when an ideology replaces religion with politics, even if they’ve forgotten the words, “All within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state.”

HEH: ‘Everybody Says How Cool I Am.’ “Most public men strive to please an audience. It has been Obama’s good fortune to surround himself with an audience that wants to please him.” I wonder how that will pan out in the coming years.

AND THUS SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE BECOMES THE KITSCH* VARIETY SHOW IT ONCE MOCKED: SNL Sings ‘To Sir With Love’ In Honor of President Obama: “At the end of the song, the two of them presented [a poster of Obama in the background] with a present: a tea mug saying ‘world’s greatest president.’ The two offered their last goodbyes, though Zamata couldn’t help but slip in a ‘don’t go’ amid the thank-you’s.”

Compare that to the show’s first season, which brutally mocked Gerald Ford via his press secretary, who stupidly agreed to host the show, not knowing what he was in for, with one of the writers admitting afterwards, “The President’s watching. Let’s make him cringe and squirm.”

As Sean Davis of the Federalist quipped on Twitter today, “Guys, I think DPRK News [the parody North Korean propaganda Twitter feed] might have hacked SNL.” Twitchy accurately concludes that “Between attacking a 10-year-old kid and this LAME Obama tribute, SNL really just sucks.”  Just as its surprisingly funny sketch immediately after the election predicted, SNL has retreated deep into the safe space woobie known as The Bubble.

* In every sense of the word.

IN DALLAS, “ANARCHISTS” HANG TRUMP IN EFFIGY.

I guess in the post-Obama era, nooses are no longer always and everywhere about racism.

ROGER SIMON: The Pointless Paranoia of the Women’s Marches. “The success of the demonstrations in terms of size attests to the power of mutually reinforced paranoia.” The Democrats are always trying to paint Republicans as the preacher in Footloose, but that’s never been as ridiculous as when talking about Donald Trump.

What’s the motivation? Well, Tom Hayden started the anti-nuclear movement quite consciously as a way to preserve the infrastructure built up in the anti-Vietnam War protests. I suspect that this is about keeping up Hillary’s woman-card machinery for the post-election era, just as the Black Lives Matter protests are mostly about keeping up the position of the urban black wing of the Democrat coalition in the post-Obama era. In both cases, the real point is intra-Democratic Party positioning.

Well, that and the travails of entitled women with MFA’s who were comfortably supported by their political-appointee husbands until — unexpectedly! — Democratic hegemony didn’t turn out to be as stable as they thought. As a friend on Facebook notes, this story seems calculated to reinforce Trump supporters’ views about who’s marching and why, and it’s not pretty.

The New York Times’ lack of self-awareness is easy to mock, but impossible to top.

MICHAEL BARONE: Trump’s Inauguration Is Not Without Precedent.

Jackson was regarded as a wild man, impetuous, unfit for the presidency, by Jefferson, Madison and Monroe. Each surely preferred the scholarly, internationally experienced Adams.

Similarly, all of Trump’s three eight-year predecessors — Clinton, Bush, Obama — take a similar view of Trump, though all three accepted invitations to his inauguration. But many other presidents — Lincoln, both Roosevelts, plus some duds — had no support from living predecessors. Trump is not quite so unprecedented as many of those unversed in history think.

Nope.

DON’T BE RIDICULOUS, UNLIKE OBAMA, TRUMP HASN’T EVEN BEEN COMPARED TO FDR: Rachel Maddow: Donald Trump Will throw me In Internment Camp (video).  Besides, Hillary was the one who wanted Adult Fun Camps, and besides, MaddCow, while you are demonstrably on the side of the enemies of America, your being at large gives them no advantage.  Heck, it might give us one.

AS WITH CNN’S THREAT TO DESTROY TRUMP’S IMAGE IN THE EYES OF THE WORLD, THIS WOULD MAKE IT DIFFERENT FROM HOW THEY TREATED EVERY REPUBLICAN IN MY LIFETIME, HOW? Obama Allies Working to Undermine Trump’s National Security Team.

DONALD TRUMP’S GAY PRESIDENCY:

On gay-related issues, the news media couldn’t have picked a Republican president more in sync with their views than Donald Trump.

But the country isn’t dealing with a rational press right now.

The GOP was stuck on gay stuff until a New Yorker came along and cleared the field for them by saying he was not only “fine” with same-sex marriage but also by actively embracing gays in a bigger way than President Obama did.

Meanwhile, Trump, having grown up in the most diverse city in the world, is an outcast among the gay-supporting national media.

In a cover piece for Newsweek in 2012, Andrew Sullivan dubbed Obama “the first gay president.”

He also choked up on national television, calling Obama a “father figure” because he said he supported gay marriage.

Obama’s main claim to gay celebrity was changing his mind on marriage. He opposed same-sex marriage before he was first elected in 2008 and then he came to support it before his second term. (By the way, the Supreme Court handled the dirty work, Obama simply nodded in approval.)

Trump was not the first to support gay marriage, but he did a lot. After the mass terror shooting on the Orlando gay nightclub in June, he did what no other Republican would have ever done. He called it an attack on “the members of Orlando’s LGBTQ community” and said the tragedy was done “in order to execute gay and lesbian citizens because of their sexual orientation.”

In July, Peter Thiel, founder of PayPal and a big Trump supporter, was the first person ever to declare on stage at the Republican National Convention that he’s “proud to be gay.” . . .

Only once in its coverage did the New York Times mention the rally where Trump held up the gay flag. The Washington Post didn’t cover the incident at all and neither did USA Today.

Every other Republican is pressed on whether they’d personally bake a cake for a gay wedding. But Trump is almost entirely ignored when he shows support for gays because he unfurled a rainbow flag the wrong way.

It’s all about the narrative.

DAILY CALLER: Women’s March Organizer Recently Met Ex-Hamas Operative, Has Family Ties To Terror Group.

Linda Sarsour, one of the organizers behind Saturday’s Women’s March, being held in Washington, D.C., was recently spotted at a large Muslim convention in Chicago posing for pictures with an accused financier for Hamas, the terrorist group.

Sarsour, the head of the Arab American Association of New York and an Obama White House “Champion of Change,” was speaking at last month’s 15th annual convention of the Muslim American Society and Islamic Circle of North America.

While there, she posed for a picture with Salah Sarsour, a member of the Islamic Society of Milwaukee and former Hamas operative who was jailed in Israel in the 1990s because of his alleged work for the terrorist group.

Well, when I think of Hamas, I think of feminism.

IN “THE SCIENCE OF INTELLECTUAL TRIBALISM”, Jonah Goldberg writes:

‘David Gelernter, fiercely anti-intellectual computer scientist, is being eyed for Trump’s science adviser.” — Washington Post, January 18

Um. Well, huh.

For those unfamiliar with David Gelernter, he essentially created parallel computing, which sounds like witchcraft to me, but I’m told it’s a really big deal. He was also one of the first people to see the Internet coming, in his 1991 book Mirror Worlds. Bill Joy, the co-founder of Sun Microsystems, described Gelernter as “one of the most brilliant and visionary computer scientists of our time.” Ted Kaczynski — aka “the Unabomber” — agreed, which is why he maimed Gelernter with a letter bomb in a 1993 assassination attempt.

Gelernter, who teaches computer science at Yale and has degrees in classical Hebrew, has written books and articles on history, culture, religion, artificial intelligence, and philosophy. His acclaimed paintings don’t do too much for me, but that’s probably because I’m a bit of Philistine about these things.

Regardless, saying that Gelernter is “fiercely anti-intellectual” is a bit like saying Tiger Woods is fiercely anti-golf.

So what on earth could the Washington Post mean with that headline?

This is how Tom Wolfe defined the term “intellectual” in his 2000 essay, “In the Land of the Rococo Marxists:”

The word “intellectual,” used as a noun referring to the “intellectual laborer” who assumes a political stance, did not exist until Georges Clemenceau used it in 1898 during the Dreyfus case, congratulating those “intellectuals,” such as Marcel Proust and Anatole France, who had joined Dreyfus’s great champion, Emile Zola. Zola was an entirely new form of political eminence, a popular novelist. His famous J’accuse was published on the front page of a daily newspaper, L’Aurore (“The Dawn”), which printed 300,000 copies and hired hundreds of extra newsboys who sold virtually every last one by midafternoon.

Zola and Clemenceau provided a wholly unexpected leg up in life for the ordinary worker ants of “pure intellectual labor” (Clemenceau’s term): your fiction writers, playwrights, poets, history and lit profs, that whole cottage industry of poor souls who scribble, scribble, scribble. Zola was an extraordinary reporter (or “documenter,” as he called himself) who had devoured the details of the Dreyfus case to the point where he knew as much about it as any judge, prosecutor, or law clerk. But that inconvenient detail of Zola’s biography was soon forgotten. The new hero, the intellectual, didn’t need to burden himself with the irksome toil of reporting or research. For that matter, he needed no particular education, no scholarly training, no philosophical grounding, no conceptual frameworks, no knowledge of academic or scientific developments other than the sort of stuff you might pick up in Section 9 of the Sunday newspaper. Indignation about the powers that be and the bourgeois fools who did their bidding-that was all you needed. Bango! You were an intellectual.

From the very outset the eminence of this new creature, the intellectual, who was to play such a tremendous role in the history of the twentieth century, was inseparable from his necessary indignation. It was his indignation that elevated him to a plateau of moral superiority. Once up there, he was in a position to look down at the rest of humanity. And it hadn’t cost him any effort, intellectual or otherwise. As Marshall McLuhan would put it years later: “Moral indignation is a technique used to endow the idiot with dignity.” Precisely which intellectuals of the twentieth century were or were not idiots is a debatable point, but it is hard to argue with the definition I once heard a French diplomat offer at a dinner party: “An intellectual is a person knowledgable in one field who speaks out only in others.”

If that’s how the Post’s Sarah Kaplan or her headline writer define the term “intellectual,” then defining Gelernter as “anti-intellectual” is very likely quite justified. But as Jonah goes on to write in his essay on Gelernter, it’s not: “What Kaplan really seems to be getting at is that Gelernter is one of the few major intellectuals out there today who is critical of the intellectual establishment, which acts as a class or guild…“It takes a lot of intellectual firepower and self-confidence to declare that the intellectual emperors have no clothes,” he adds, so it’s no surprise that Gelernter “has been accused of being excessively humble.”

Speaking of emperors with no clothes, here’s what Obama’s “science” “czar” was proposing around this time in 2009:

That wasn’t the zaniest idea that Holdren ever floated. As the anonymous Bay Area blogger Zombie noted with quotes from his 1977 book, Holdren believed that forced abortions and mass sterilization were needed to save the planet from overpopulation. Those ideas that were all the rage among the scientific caste back in the ‘70s, who drank gallons of Paul Ehrlich’s “Population Bomb” Kool-Aid at the dawn of the Nixon era.

I don’t recall anyone on the left in 2009 speaking out and proclaiming Holdren as daft for wanting to fire rockets filled with pollution into the sky. Someone in the Trump administration should propose that as well, just for kicks and gins when he’s attacked as a lunatic by the media.

BRETIGNE SHAFER ON LEFTIES AND TRUMP:

Here’s the thing: I’m a libertarian. I’ve been surrounded by people who don’t agree with me for as long as I can remember and it has never occurred to me to isolate myself from everyone because of our political differences. Certainly not to assault them. Nor am I filled with anxiety by the thought that people who work in my home might have different political views than mine. To me, you’re all a bunch of fascists. But I’ve somehow learned to live with you.

For me, watching people unravel over this election has been instructive. The – yes, I’m going to say it – bigotry of many on the left, in their caricaturing of Trump supporters, has never before been so blatant. Nor has the jaw-dropping, mass-hypnosis level of selective partisan-driven outrage. I understand that a lot of people are worried, upset, even frightened over the prospect of a Trump presidency. Good. They should be. But they should have been worried eight years ago, or at the very least, four years ago.

I was worried four years ago. And I was worried eight years ago. I tried in vain to get my Obama-supporting friends to see what I saw, but with very few exceptions (which I appreciated, thank you) I was met with silence, accused of mean-spiritedness or just told that I should “give him a chance” (did I have a choice?)


I was right in all but one of my predictions for the Obama administration, by the way.

So in case you (like some of my friends) somehow missed out on what’s been happening over the past eight years, let me catch you up:

1. We no longer have a Fourth Amendment, nor the right of habeas corpus (you remember: it was kind of the foundation of our justice system). Yes, the demise of these fundamental protections has been a long time coming, but President Obama delivered the death blow when he gave himself (and all future presidents) the right to imprison indefinitely or even assassinate any human being on the planet with no due process whatsoever.

Number One should be enough. Any normal person should look at the first item on this list and say “OK, I guess that’s a little bit worse than making fun of a disabled reporter.” (And I say this as the mother of an intellectually disabled daughter.) But, because I know it won’t be enough, I’ll continue…

2. Obama has bombed more countries than George W. Bush did, and his drone strikes have killed more than six times as many people as those under Bush, according to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism (killing unintended victims 90% of the time.)

3. He has given himself (and all future presidents) the power to wage war without Congressional approval.

4. He has greatly expanded the mass surveillance of American citizens.

5. He put in place a statist health insurance mandate that has sent insurance premiums skyrocketing.

6. He has continued the same brand of crony capitalism and debt expansion of the previous administration.

7. He has deported more than 2.5 million immigrants – more than any other American president in history.

8. After running on a platform of more government transparency, he has presided over an administration more hostile than any other to whistleblowers and a free press.

9. Police brutality has not abated, nor has the mass incarceration of Americans (and especially black and Hispanic Americans. Maybe it’s only “racism” if the president is a white Republican?)

10. Did I mention he – and all future presidents – now has the legal right to kill anyone on the planet, including American citizens, with no conviction, no charges, no semblance of due process at all. Did I mention that?

It was fine as long as it was Obama. It’s Hitler now that it’s Trump.

OUT: CLINTON FOUNDATION. In: Obama Foundation. Hey, it’s nine-figures wealth for giving some speeches.

IT ALL MAKES SENSE NOW: Former President Obama’s new memoir, My Secret War Against Big Government opens with this:

The wingnuts on the right thought I was a poison pill. And they were right, only I was on their side. Only Nixon could go to China. And only an Ivy League-educated black man could bring down leftism in America. What did they think? That after seeing firsthand in Indonesia — and in my parents’ lives — the destructive impact of leftist thought, I wouldn’t have noticed? I saw the weakness in the system, and I exploited it. Ruthlessly, it’s true — but I learned at an early age that revolutionaries must be ruthless.

I don’t expect President Trump to thank me. But the truth must be told.

In retrospect, it’s obvious. . . .

“GO ON NOW, GIT:” Departing Obama Tearfully Shoos Away Loyal Drone Following Him Out Of White House. “At press time, a heartbroken Obama had thrown a rock in the drone’s direction, causing the unmanned aerial vehicle to flee into the sky, where it paused to look back one last time at its old master before flying off toward a Yemeni tribal wedding.”

NEWS YOU CAN USE: It’s Not 1934, writes Mickey Kaus:

Yet those who adhere to this unnamed tendency — let’s call it ’34ism, unless you can come up with a better name *** –allow the power of their terrifying dream to overwhelm sober consideration of everything Trump does or intends to do, good or bad (on trade, taxes, regulations, immigration, etc). We’re supposed to draw up sides — condemning (and ostracizing) those who are “complicit” in Trump’s administration and welcoming those who “stand on the right side of history” — even before we know whether the authoritarian seed will grow or wither, disregarding all the other positively auspicious seeds (reform of trade, control of borders, fewer foreign miliary adventures,  ending the Republican threat to Social Security and Medicare, etc.) that might flourish instead. In Slate 34ist Yascha Mounk’s head it’s practically Life During Wartime already, with brave Trump critics fired from their jobs, sleeping on the couches of their secret colleagues in the Resistance. Keep the car running.

Suggested alternative: See what happens first! Don’t let the reaction to Trump be dominated by one extremely unlikely bad possibility, at the expense of nurturing the far-more-likely good possibilities.

Those asterisks above connect to a footnote from Mickey that “Better name ideas [are] appreciated — just put them in the comments section below [his post], or tweet them to @kausmickey.”

The month after Obama won the election in 2008, Virginia Postrel noted that a lot of journalists (read: Democrat operatives with bylines) had heavily invested in the notion that it was the 1930s all over again, and had a major case of what Virginia dubbed “Depression Lust,” and were busy cranking out “Depression Porn” in service to the Office of the President-Elect. Not least of which was Time magazine’s infamous cover of Obama Photoshopped into the second coming of FDR and the headline “The New, New Deal,” thinking it was a compliment, and not an ominous prediction of an economy as similarly atrophied as Roosevelt’s. Pretending that Trump is Hitler allows you, oh brave foot-soldier in the DNC-MSM, to pose as the new Dietrich Bonhoeffer. It’s simply the funhouse mirror image version of the same sclerotic meme.

For the modern left, if the economy is relatively good*, and the incoming president has a (D) after his name, he’s the second coming of JFK (see: Clinton, Bill); if the economy is bad, and he has a (D) after his name, he’s FDR — and no matter what the shape of the economy, if the president has an (R) after his name, he’s Hitler (QED: Nixon, Reagan, Bush #43, and Trump).

* And it was, despite Clinton’s rhetoric. Would Time magazine lie to you? Well yes, of course. But look what they admitted in December of 1992.

MOVING FAST: Senate Confirms James Mattis as Trump’s Defense Secretary.

Also confirmed: Gen. John Kelly to head Homeland Security. “Neither vote was controversial, as both Mattis and Kelly had sailed through their confirmation hearings earlier this month. Senators were also familiar with both men, who previously served in the Obama administration.”

TROLL LEVEL? PRESIDENTIAL: Video: Trump inauguration speech echoes … Bane.

Which seems odd, since Trump himself is Batman – just ask him!

But to be fair, quoting Bane is probably better than quoting Neville Chamberlain, which is what Obama did in his second inaugural address.

HE WAS FOR IT BEFORE OBAMA AND HILLARY, BEFORE DICK CHENEY, EVEN BEFORE ME! Historic Fact: Donald Trump Will Be The First President To Support Gay Marriage From The Beginning.

AND SO, AS HE FLIES THE BLUE LADY OF THE SKIES INTO THE SUNSET, WE SAY “ALOHA!”, FIVE O’CLOCK BARRY, AND RETURN TO OUR DUTIES.  Let me remind you, the Weblog is open twenty-four hours for your dining and dancing pleasure.

Former President Barack Obama waves as he boards a Marine helicopter during a departure ceremony on the East Front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Friday, Jan. 20, 2017, after President Donald Trump was inaugurated. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Former President Barack Obama waves as he boards a Marine helicopter during a departure ceremony on the East Front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Friday, Jan. 20, 2017, after President Donald Trump was inaugurated. (AP Photo and caption.)

“CONGRATULATIONS, MR. PRESIDENT.” And it’s done. A surprisingly good and somber ceremony, with a real 19th-Century flair, from the second verse of America the Beautiful (“and crown thy soul with self-control, thy liberty in law”) to even Schumer’s reading of a letter from a heroic (Republican?) Civil War soldier.

Note that Trump’s supporters didn’t boo Obama, as Obama’s booed Bush 8 years ago.

UPDATE: Well, that speech shows that Trump is still Trump. Barack and Michelle Obama didn’t look like they enjoyed it. Bill Clinton’s reaction seemed more . . . calculating.

MORE: “A Hunger Games inaugural address.”

STILL MORE: Here’s the text of Trump’s speech.

TAXPROF PAUL CARON: The IRS Scandal, Day 1352: The End Of My Daily Coverage. “With Donald Trump’s inauguration, I am ending my daily coverage as the scandal again has gone mostly quiet. I will continue to sporadically blog the scandal when there is news about it (indeed, I have a post in the queue for tomorrow). But I will no longer provide coverage each day.”

There hasn’t been sufficient accountability for the IRS’s gross misbehavior here, but I think that Caron has done a tremendous service by keeping the issue alive for so long. I remain deeply disappointed at how many of his fellow tax professors criticized him for doing so, because they didn’t want Obama and the Democrats to look bad.

FRACK, BABY, FRACK: Geology Helps Shale Boom Anew in Texas Basin.

Don’t look now, but there’s a shale rebound underway, and it’s being powered by Texas’s Permian Basin. The U.S. has added 482,000 barrels of oil per day since mid-October, an increase of more than 5 percent that’s been driven in large part by burgeoning output out of that west Texas shale formation. This resurgence can partly be put down to an uptick in oil prices, itself a result of the recent petrostate production cut that’s helped add more than $10 to the price of a barrel of oil. But, as the New York Times reports, the real driver behind the Permian’s prowess lies in its geology (or, more accurately, its stratigraphy). . . .

Geology is one of the (many) reasons American shale producers have enjoyed such wild success over the past decade while their counterparts abroad have struggled to get any sort of commercial production off the ground. Tectonic movement often “crunches” rock layers into uneven, tangled messes, which can be problematic for drillers looking to hit a specific layer to extract hydrocarbons. Here in the continental United States, our rock layers are relatively evenly layered, so much so that they have even been compared to a wedding cake. That makes it much easier for producers to drill the horizontal wells into productive zones, frack the shale rock, and then extract the oil and gas trapped within.

But in the Permian’s case, multiple shale layers are stacked on top of one another, which makes rigs plumbing plays in the region that much more productive. That in turn has helped to bring down the region’s breakeven costs well below current prices, which helps explain why west Texas is leading the shale rebound.

I’m old enough to remember when President Barack Obama mocked Sarah Palin and said that we couldn’t “drill our way out of” our energy problems.

THE LEFT’S FAVORITE BILLIONAIRE: Connoisseur of Chaos, a profile of George Soros in City Journal. Stefan Kanfer details his efforts to build a world without borders run by philosopher-kings like himself.

As the postpresidential fever abates, Soros’s work carries on. In a New York City luxury hotel, Soros recently huddled with other devastated operatives in the so-called Democratic Alliance, including former House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren, and Congressional Progressive Caucus cochairman Keith Ellison. According to Politico, they discussed strategies to combat President-elect Trump’s “terrifying assault on President’s Obama’s achievements.” Not all Democrats were pleased with the occasion. “The DA itself should be called into question,” said one attendee. “You can make a very good case it’s nothing more than a social club for a handful of wealthy white donors and labor union officials to drink wine and read memos, as the Democratic Party burns down around them.”

Read the whole thing.

 

LEGACY: The Loaded Gun Obama Will Leave Trump.

And, once again:

screen-shot-2016-11-10-at-6-35-32-pm

ED MORRISSEY: The Sneaky Democratic Politics Behind the Scary New Obamacare Numbers.

You know, I used to trust places like the CBO or the BLS to be reasonably honest and non-political. I don’t anymore.

DAVID HARSANYI: Public School Is Often The Most Destructive Institution In American Life. Yet Democrats demand the status quo.

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

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

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

Yet according to Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, it is people like DeVos who are “a grave threat” to the public schools “that made America great.”

Well, for starters, studies consistently show that minority groups in America’s largest cities are lagging in proficiency in reading and math. Most of them are at the bottom 5 percent of schools in their own state. There is only so much an education secretary can accomplish, but being accused of being a “grave threat” to this system is a magnificent endorsement.

True.

MAD DUCK: With midnight regulation, Obama Energy Department just outlawed your three-way bulb.

Three-way bulbs, which have two different filaments and thus three different brightnesses, are currently exempted. DOE just ruled that they now need to be covered. The Department’s reasoning: “DOE expects these sales will likely increase since these lamps could be used as replacements for other regulated lamp types.” In other words: People might start buying these bulbs because they want regular light bulbs rather than expensive LEDs or crappy fluorescents.

DOE also spiked the exemption for globe-shaped bulbs. Many manufacturers make, and many retailers sell, globe-shaped bulbs that met the standards, but consumers were left with the option to buy globe-shaped bulbs of the old type. That couldn’t stand.

This rule doesn’t go into effect for three years, but it could lead pretty quickly to domestic bulb makers ceasing production.

It’s Friday.

NOT MINE, BUT THEN I’VE KNOWN OTHER DORM-ROOM LEFTISTS: How President Obama Broke My Heart The Story of Two Farewell Addresses.

TICK, TICK TICK, THE COUNTDOWN TO NOON CONTINUES: Doesn’t look like Obama has any interest in pardoning Hillary.  (You mean there’s something to pardon?  I’m shocked, shocked, shocked.)

BUT BUT BUT OBAMA PARDONED HIM!  HOW CAN YOU IMPLY OBAMA IS WRONG? STOP calling Bradley Manning a hero!

HAPPY INAUGURATION DAY (HAT TIP FRANCIS TURNER):

uninstalling-obama

PEN AND PHONE, MEET PHONE AND PEN: Trump Nominees Make Clear Plans to Sweep Away Obama Policies.

OBAMA, YOU’LL REMEMBER, INSISTED ON KEEPING HIS BLACKBERRY DESPITE ADVICE THAT IT WAS INSECURE: Report: Trump has given up personal cellphone. “Trump apparently told a friend on Thursday that he has given up the phone on the advice of security agencies.”

THAT THIS HAPPENED — AND THAT OBAMA DIDN’T CHASTISE ANYONE FOR IT — WAS A SIGN OF THINGS TO COME: Will Obama Be Booed Like His Supporters Booed Bush In 2009? And I hope it doesn’t happen this time, though if it does, well, that’s what happens when you break down traditions of civility.

QUIN HILLYER: Saul Alinsky Leaves the White House.

Obama and company also waged bureaucratic war against independent inspectors general; tried their hardest (even illegally) to hobble fossil fuels industries; evaded Congress’s intent by sending cash and uranium to a near-nuclear-ready Iran; fumbled and stumbled while veterans suffered virtually criminal neglect; wasted hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars on projects that were not “shovel-ready” and did not create many jobs; oversaw an economy in which the workforce participation rate dropped to historically low levels while real median household income also fell and personal debt rose, and in which food stamp rolls grew to a number larger than the population of Spain; horrendously politicized the Justice Department; and saw race relations worsen for the first time in decades.

In what should have been treated by the media as major scandals (or more major than the media represented them), the Obama administration encouraged illegal gun-running to Mexican cartels, with untold numbers of resultant deaths; failed to provide adequate security before or rescue during the Benghazi tragedy; provided tax subsidies in return for campaign cash from useless “green energy” companies; spied on journalists; freed five killers in return for a deserter; failed to police or protect email use at the State Department; polluted a river through the ineptitude of the Gold King Mine Disaster; illegally (arguably) granted, to political allies only, numerous “waivers” from Obamacare; and of course committed the actions I related in the first paragraph of this piece, including the dismissal of the New Black Panther case and the IRS targeting of conservative groups.

And in almost every case, they covered up and/or lied about these actions, often egregiously and sometimes, quite arguably, criminally.

And those are only the major scandals and embarrassments.

Read the whole thing.

THIS IS CNN: Daughter of close Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett will cover DOJ for CNN.

WASHINGTON POST: Obama’s 10 Biggest Whoppers.

THIS IS CNN: Assassinating Trump Could Keep Obama Administration in Power.

JONATHAN TURLEY: Stop Whining: Trump’s Our Legitimate President:

It is of course immaterial that Trump lost the popular vote in a system based on electoral, not popular voting. (For the record, I have long been a critic of the Electoral College.) Moreover, while references to the “Russian hacking of the election” have become common shorthand, the Russians did not hack the election. Emails were hacked and those emails were not faked or tampered with, as repeatedly claimed by DNC chair Donna Brazile. As recently confirmed by the intelligence report, they were real emails showing incredibly dishonest and corrupt practices. Although there is no question that the leak appears selective in targeting Democrats, Washington seems most aggrieved by the fact that the public was given a true insight into the false and duplicitous behavior that defines the establishment. However, according to a new CNN/ORC poll, the spin is not taking: almost 60% of voters do not believe the hacking determined the outcome of the election.

In the end, the protests are not about legitimacy. Trump is by any measure our duly elected and legitimate president. It is about a refusal to accept legitimate results. Even the title of “The Women’s March” is dubious.

While Bill Clinton insisted that his wife lost because Trump figured out “how to get angry, white men to vote for him,” the fact is that it was the Democratic leadership that secured the election for Trump. Despite long-standing polls showing that voters did not want an establishment figure, the establishment pre-selected Clinton, who is not only one of the most recognized establishment figures but someone carrying more luggage than Greyhound. She is also someone who had even higher negative polling on character and truthfulness than Trump.

More importantly, it is a well-maintained myth that Clinton was the candidate of women who overwhelmingly rejected Trump. Clinton pulled basically the same percentage of female votes as Obama did four years earlier. Indeed, Clinton actually did slightly worse this election than Obama did in the prior two presidential elections with women.

Women don’t particularly like her. But, to be fair, neither do men.

CHELSEA MANNING COMMUTATION REVEALS OBAMA’S DOUBLE STANDARD: Espionage against the USA for causes Obama seems to favor is just fine, but embarrassing his party is not.

SCOTT JENNINGS: Obama Should Give Back His Nobel: Tired of saluting those who serve, the president slapped them in the face on the way out the door.

The last major decision of President Barack Obama was to commute the sentence of a traitor whose most recent accomplishment since giving battlefield secrets to Osama bin Laden was undergoing a taxpayer-funded sex change transition. It was a fitting end to a failed presidency that leaves President-elect Donald Trump mess after mess to clean up on the world stage. . . .

Manning helped our enemies by leaking sensitive information to a foreign organization. Period. He was arrested, confessed, and subsequently sentenced to 35 years in a military prison. His actions put America at risk and endangered the lives of “foreigners in dangerous countries who were identified as having helped American troops or diplomats,” according to The New York Times.

Afghans, Syrians, and Iraqis — brave people who continue to live in treacherous places — were put in extreme danger by Manning. These people helped America with the understanding that their actions would be kept secret. Because of Manning, their lives and the lives of their families are forever in peril. In future battles, when our military is looking for allies among local populations, who will trust that America can keep their secrets or can guarantee their safety?

Somewhere along the way, his days of trying to destroy America safely behind him, Brad decided he was Chelsea and demanded the government pay for his conversion from man to woman. And we did, as taxpayers ponied up $50,000 for a traitor to receive everything from “counseling to hormone therapy, and…gender reassignment surgery”.

Fast forward to Tuesday, when Manning’s strange tale ended with Obama commuting his sentence over the objection of Defense Secretary Ash Carter. A “former intelligence official described being ‘shocked’ to learn of Obama’s decision, adding that the ‘entire intelligence community is deflated by this inexplicable use of executive power.’ The official said the move was ‘deeply hypocritical given Obama’s denunciation of WikiLeaks’ role in the hacking of the (Democratic National Committee),’” a CNN report said.

He came in like a messiah, he’s leaving like a bum.

ACCORDING TO THE PRESS CONSENSUS, TRUMP IS AN IMPULSIVE GOOFBALL, but he came up with “Make America Great Again” after observing Romney’s defeat in 2012:

It happened on Nov. 7, 2012, the day after Mitt Romney lost what had been presumed to be a winnable race against President Obama. Republicans were spiraling into an identity crisis, one that had some wondering whether a GOP president would ever sit in the Oval Office again.

But on the 26th floor of a golden Manhattan tower that bears his name, Trump was coming to the conclusion that his own moment was at hand.

And in typical fashion, the first thing he thought about was how to brand it.

One after another, phrases popped into his head. “We Will Make America Great.” That one did not have the right ring. Then, “Make America Great.” But that sounded like a slight to the country.

And then, it hit him: “Make America Great Again.”

“I said, ‘That is so good.’ I wrote it down,” Trump recalled in an interview. “I went to my lawyers. I have a lot of lawyers in-house. We have many lawyers. I have got guys that handle this stuff. I said, ‘See if you can have this registered and trademarked.’ ”

Five days later, Trump signed an application with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, in which he asked for exclusive rights to use “Make America Great Again” for “political action committee services, namely, promoting public awareness of political issues and fundraising in the field of politics.” He enclosed a $325 registration fee.

His was a vision that ran against the conventional wisdom of the time — in fact, it was “much the opposite,” Trump said.

To save itself, the Republican establishment was convinced, the GOP would have to sand off its edges, become kinder and more inclusive. “Make America Great Again” was divisive and backward-looking. It made no nod to diversity or civility or progress.

It sounded like a death wish.

But Trump had seen something different in the country, and in the daily lives of its struggling citizens.

This doesn’t sound like the behavior of an impulsive goofball.

BOB MCMANUS ON OBAMA’S LATEST: Why liberals just love to set terrorists free. “To wit, in Progressiveland, some lives matter more than others; that dead and maimed cops and unlucky bystanders matter less than justly convicted and incarcerated radicals — and that in the final analysis benevolent government is meant to stand with the bad guys.”

WELL, THE TITLES WERE A REAL TURNOFF: Obama Administration Has Written 275 Briefing Papers For Trump Administration, Not Sure How Many Have Been Read.

Partial List:

How We Lost Iraq

How We Lost to ISIS

How We Lost to Iran

How We Lost The Philippines

How We Lost Syria

How We Lost Crimea

How We Lost Control of the Internet

How We Lost the OPM Data

Well, you get the idea.

STEPHEN HAYES: Obama’s Shameful Legacy.

There was a time, early in Barack Obama’s presidency, when it was considered outrageous to worry out loud that the new president might treat enemies better than allies, run down friends and elevate foes, show solidarity with anti-American leaders, maybe even release dangerous terrorists or sympathize with traitors.

And here we are.

Obama has accommodated leaders hostile to America, like Vladimir Putin in Russia and Bashar al-Assad in Syria. He strengthened a rogue regime in Iran and boosted despotic leaders in Cuba. At the same time, he chastised and isolated Israel and abandoned friendly governments in places like Afghanistan and Ukraine.

He’s freed from Guantanamo dozens of jihadists and high-ranking al Qaeda terrorists, including some who have promised to kill Americans upon their release, and he’s done this even as U.S. men and women in uniform and in the intelligence community fight and die to protect us from the threat that these enemies represent.

Read the whole thing.

WELL, ASIDE FROM OBAMACARE: 7 of the Deepest Holes Humanity Ever Dug.

REPORT: 300,000 Small Business Jobs Lost Due to Obamacare.

I’m old enough to remember when ObamaCare was spurring startups and creating small business jobs.

NEWS YOU CAN USE: How to Prevent Another President Obama.

AMERICAN THINKER: Barack Obama’s Deplorable Race Relations Legacy.

CHRIS CILLIZZA: 10 years ago today Obama made a huge promise. He didn’t keep it.

Ten years ago today, then-Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois announced he was taking the first steps to run for president in 2008. In a three-minute video, he explained why — and what he hoped to accomplish.

It’s remarkable as a historic artifact — God bless YouTube! — but if you watch the whole thing (it’s only 187 seconds long!), you are reminded of the central reason Obama ran for president: to fix broken politics.

The big idea at the heart of Obama’s candidacy was that he — because of his background, proven résumé and the historic nature of his candidacy — was uniquely suited to solve the partisan gridlock that had seized our politics under Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. That he could bring us all together through an appeal to our better angels and our shared values — and, in so doing, create a government that worked for all of us.

Another rube self-identifies.

THE OBAMA LEGACY IN ONE CHART:

race-relations

Full story here, with most of the trend lines going in the wrong direction.

Obama himself remains personally — but inexplicably — popular.

NIALL FERGUSON: Donald Trump’s New World Order: What A Kissinger-Inspired Foreign Policy Might Look Like.

Donald Trump therefore enters the Oval Office with an underestimated advantage. Obama’s foreign policy has been a failure, most obviously in the Middle East, where the smoldering ruin that is Syria—not to mention Iraq and Libya—attests to the fundamental naivety of his approach, dating all the way back to the 2009 Cairo speech. The President came to believe he had an ingenious strategy to establish geopolitical balance between Sunni and Shi’a. But by treating America’s Arab friends with open disdain, while cutting a nuclear deal with Iran that has left Tehran free to wage proxy wars across the region, Obama has achieved not peace but a fractal geometry of conflict and a frightening, possibly nuclear, arms race. At the same time, he has allowed Russia to become a major player in the Middle East for the first time since Kissinger squeezed the Soviets out of Egypt in the 1972-79 period. The death toll in the Syrian war now approaches half a million; who knows how much higher it will rise between now and Inauguration Day?

Meanwhile, global terrorism has surged under Obama. Of the past 16 years, the worst year for terrorism was 2014, with 93 countries experiencing an attack and 32,765 people killed. 2015 was the second worst, with 29,376 deaths. Last year, four radical Islamic groups were responsible for 74 per cent of all deaths from terrorism: ISIS, Boko Haram, the Taliban, and al-Qaeda.9 In this context, the President’s claims to be succeeding against what he euphemistically calls “violent extremism” are absurd. Much opprobrium has been heaped on Donald Trump in the course of the past year. But there was much that was true in his underreported August 15 foreign policy speech on the subject of Islamic extremism and the failure of the Obama Administration to defeat it.10

The “Obama Doctrine” has failed in Europe, too, where English voters opted to leave the EU in defiance of the President’s threats, and where the German leadership he recently praised has delivered, first, an unnecessarily protracted financial crisis in the European periphery and, second, a disastrous influx to the core of migrants, some but not all of them refugees from a region that Europe had intervened in just enough to exacerbate its instability. The President has also failed in eastern Europe, where not only has Ukraine been invaded and Crimea annexed, but also Hungary and now Poland have opted to deviate sharply from the President’s liberal “arc of history.” Finally, his foreign policy has failed in Asia, where little remains of the much-vaunted pivot. “If you look at how we’ve operated in the South China Sea,” the President boasted in an interview published in March, “we have been able to mobilize most of Asia to isolate China in ways that have surprised China, frankly, and have very much served our interest in strengthening our alliances.”11 The new President of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte, apparently did not receive this memorandum. In October he went to Beijing’s Great Hall of the People to announce his “separation from the United States.”

All of this means that merely by changing Obama’s foreign policy President Trump is likely to achieve at least some success.

Ouch.

THE PARDON PARADE: Anti-American Spies and Terrorists.

There is so much outrage over President Obama’s commutation of the 35-year espionage sentence imposed on treasonous American soldier Bradley Manning (a/k/a “Chelsea”), that his commutation last night of unrepentant terrorist Oscar Lopez-Rivera is just beginning to attract attention. Lopez-Rivera is an FALN leader who was serving a combined 70 years in prison sentences for the Puerto Rican communist organization’s terrorist war against the United States and his multiple attempts to escape from custody.

The FALN carried out 130 attacks in the United States. Beyond the damage done, they resulted in six murders, including a lunch-hour bombing at Fraunces Tavern in lower Manhattan in January 1975, as recounted by Joe Connor, whose father was one of four men killed in the attack.

Is it Friday yet?

ANDREW MCCARTHY: The Damage Done to America by Manning… and Obama.

The degree to which Obama has wielded executive power in favor of America’s enemies and against his own political opponents and scapegoats is breathtaking. The treasonous Manning gets an 80 percent shave off his sentence. Now we learn Oscar Lopez-Rivera, an unrepentant FALN terrorist convicted of waging war against the United States, has also had his sentence commuted. Taliban commanders are released, replenishing our jihadist enemies even as they continue prosecuting a terrorist war against our troops and allies, in exchange for Bowe Bergdahl, a deserter who may, at least indirectly, have caused the deaths of American soldiers. Iran is enriched and empowered with tens of billions of dollars – including ransom cash – and a mammoth nuclear energy program (with the certainty that it will yield a nuclear weapons stockpile) even as it remains the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism calling for “death to America.”

But if you are Dinesh D’Souza, a conservative Obama critic, the Justice Department inflates an administrative violation into multiple felonies and aggressively advocates (thankfully, without success) for a stiff prison sentence. If you are a tea party group gearing up to fight Obama’s re-election, here comes the IRS. If you are “anti-Muslim video producer” Nakoula Basseley Nakoula and Obama needs a scapegoat for his derelictions in Benghazi, you end up in the slammer. If you are a deep-pocketed financial institution that Obama wants to make the culprit for the government-driven financial meltdown, or to raid so the radical left’s legion of “community organizers” can be funded, prepare to pony up a 9- or 10-figure “settlement.” If you are a police department, be ready to be scandalized as a practitioner of racially malicious enforcement. If you are Israel, brace for the “international outlaw” smear.

Look at the way Obama treats America’s friends and compare it to the way he treats America’s enemies, and it’s obvious that Obama’s interests and America’s only rarely coincide.

Good riddance.

BRE PAYTON: Stop Pretending The Obama Administration Was ‘Scandal Free.’

So. Much. Spin. It’s almost as if Obama realizes that his legacy — which is comprised largely of executive orders that can easily be undone under a new president — is toast. To suggest an enduring legacy his team wants folks to fixate on his “scandal-free” administration because President-elect Donald Trump has said he plans to tear up the Iran nuclear deal and will work with Congress to repeal Obama’s signature health care law, effectively erasing two of Obama’s largest “accomplishments.”

The real scandal is that by and large, Obama is allowed to get away with it.

SMART DIPLOMACY: It’s Obama, Not Trump, Who Snuggled Up To Putin: Broader aims on Middle East realignment led the outgoing president’s efforts at two-track diplomacy. One track was misdirection. The other handed the region to Russia and Iran.

Is Donald Trump a Russian secret agent? Did he pay FSB hookers to pee on the bed the Obamas slept in at the Ritz in Moscow, overlooking the Kremlin? It’s silly season, so any drunk on a fat oppo-research expense account can write down any crazy foolishness they want and Buzzfeed will let you decide if it’s true because that, as Buzzfeed’s editor, Ben Smith, solemnly explained to The New York Times, is where American journalism is at in 2017. Duly noted, Buzzfeed. Enjoy the golden showers.

What’s being obscured by this grotesquerie is the origin and the actual substance of U.S. foreign policy toward Russia, which in turn affects the lives of hundreds of millions of people living in Syria, Iraq, Ukraine, and elsewhere. Or, to put it another way: Is Donald Trump likely to continue the policies of his predecessor, which set the Middle East on fire and led to 500,000 deaths in Syria, and to Putin biting off large chunks of the sovereign nation of Ukraine? Or is he likely to reverse those policies? Or can he, even if he wanted to?

The single-mindedness with which the White House and the remnants of the Clinton campaign have pursued the idea that Donald Trump is a pawn of Vladimir Putin is not based on silly stories about peeing prostitutes or secret computer servers that connect the Trump organization to the Kremlin. Rather, it’s an attempt to manufacture more smoke to obscure the reality of Obama’s own determination to collaborate with a hostile Russian leader in Syria, and elsewhere in the Middle East.

Obama had “more flexibility” after the election in 2012, and he used it.

CAN YOU IMAGINE THEM SENDING THIS TO BARACK OBAMA, WHO NEEDED TO HEAR IT JUST AS MUCH? An open letter to Trump from the US press corps. No, no you can’t. And that’s because they rolled over for Obama.

BUT OF COURSE: Obama Commutes Bulk of Chelsea Manning’s Sentence.

WHAT ABOUT BOB? Earlier today Glenn asked, “Is anybody keeping track of Robert Creamer, Jan Schakowsky’s (D-IL) husband, who ginned up violence at Trump rallies on behalf of Hillary’s campaign?”

The only thing I could find is a week-old Breitbart item headlined, “Disgraced Democrat Operative Robert Creamer in Front Row of Obama Farewell Speech.

So it’s a safe bet that, whatever he might be up to, it has the unofficial sanction of Barack Obama.

THE VISIBLE HAND: Presidents Have Less Power Over the Economy Than You Might Think.

I’m old enough to remember when President Obama saved the U.S. economy from another Great Depression almost single-handedly, but eight years later we wouldn’t want to risk giving a Republican president too much credit.

CHUTZPAH: Obama names Iran deal salesman to Holocaust Memorial Council.

President Obama on Tuesday appointed deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council, part of a slew of appointments given to high-profile staff and supporters in the final days of his presidency.

Rhodes, whose mother is Jewish, played a key role in shaping Obama’s foreign policy during his eight years in the White House.

He also came under fire from some U.S. Jewish groups for his role in selling the Iran nuclear deal and the administration’s decision to allow a resolution condemning Israeli settlement activity to pass the U.N. Security Council.

It’s said that A-players hire other A-players, but B-players hire C- and D-players — and now we know who D-players appoint.

Somewhat more seriously, Obama has again chosen the petty and mean course of action just because that’s who he is.

MAD DUCK: In final days, Obama administration signs law enforcement pact with Cuba.

The agreement outlines U.S.-Cuban cooperation on a wide range of criminal and security-related issues, including terrorism, narcotics, cyber-security, immigration, money laundering, smuggling and human trafficking.

Fausta Wertz has the whole story, but the short version is that we’re now stools for Castro’s guards.

TAXPROF ROUNDUP: The IRS Scandal, Day 1349: Peggy Noonan On The Obama Presidency And The IRS Scandal.

UH-HUH: The Most Successful Democrat Since F.D.R.

Most of FDR’s legacy — Social Security, American military primacy, the U.N., the permanent expansion of Washington’s size and scope — is still with us, for good and ill. Truman conceived of and built the postwar order which is shaken but still standing. LBJ’s legacy of civil rights legislation, welfare statism, Vietnam syndrome (and the Left’s resulting loss of sanity) lingers after 50 years.

What do you wager will be left of Obama’s legislative or foreign policy legacy by, say, the end of this summer?

If Obama has any lasting legacy at all, it will consist of little more than a mountain of debt and the ridiculous-ization of the Progressive Left.

WHAT OTHER KIND IS THERE? A Defense of Obama That Cherry-Picks the Facts.

Peter Berkowitz:

Chait’s case for Obama largely ignores the case against. It is one thing to defend the utility of deficit spending in a recession; it is quite another to blink away doubling American debt in eight years to a staggering $20 trillion and growing. It is appropriate to credit Obama for expanding access to health care, but it is deceptive to gloss over his repeated deceptions concerning insurance cost, keeping one’s doctor, and keeping one’s insurance. The reduction of greenhouse gas emissions is good, but no excuse for undermining constitutional government by extravagant exploitation of executive orders to skirt the people’s representatives in the legislative branch. And while the Middle East was unstable and dangerous before Obama, it is negligent to overlook how his determination to circumscribe America’s international role has emancipated the forces of chaos and destruction in the region.

Overreach and underperformance have consequences. Not the least part of Obama’s legacy is a shrunken and enfeebled Democratic Party in the states, a successor in the White House he tried hard to derail, and Republican majorities in both houses of Congress who are determined to overturn his signature domestic and foreign policy achievements.

Obama’s real legacy will be sworn into office on Friday.

THE REAL PROBLEM IS PAJAMA-BOY LEADERSHIP: Geography, Not Gerrymandering: Why Democrats Struggle in the States.

Throughout the latter half of the Obama era, many Democrats have pointed to GOP-led gerrymandering to explain their party’s weakness in state legislatures and the House of Representatives. And not without reason: Because Republicans won big in 2010, the decennial redistricting produced lines that favored Republican candidates in some states.

But the most important stumbling block to Democratic legislative power is geography, not gerrymandering. In Governing magazine, Alan Greenblatt takes a look at Iowa, a state where Democrats have been wiped out despite a “scrupulously nonpartisan” redistricting process. . . .

As Greenblatt notes, 1990s-era Democrats still had a strong presence in rural areas. But as the party moved to accommodate a more urban and liberal electoral base, its support outside of major metropolitan areas faded, especially during the Obama years.

Territorial representation penalizes parties for failing to build geographically broad political coalitions. So matter how lopsided a majority the Democrats can build in places like Des Moines, they will always be hamstrung if they can’t win compete less-densely populated areas as well.

While Democrats are right to demand fair redistricting procedures, the case of Iowa is a reminder that their problems go much deeper. The path out of the wilderness doesn’t just involve fighting gerrymandering; it also involves winning back voters who are not sold on the kind of liberal cosmopolitanism that is popular in big cities and university towns.

When gerrymandering helped Democrats, it was generally treated the way voter fraud is now — as a minor problem at best, and mostly a humorous reflection of the kinds of hijinks politicians engage in. But of course if it hurts Democrats’ chances it suddenly becomes a Major National Crisis.

CHANGE: Russia’s Lavrov Wants Trump Administration at Syria Peace Talks.

Mr. Lavrov said he hoped the talks, which will take place in Almaty, Kazakhstan, would be more productive under Mr. Trump than they have been under President Barack Obama.

“It is totally possible to breathe new life into these [peace talk] mechanisms, considering that the new U.S. administration says it aims to fight terrorism in earnest, unlike [the administration] before it,” he told reporters.

The peace process stalled in recent months, as U.S. officials found themselves sidelined by an emboldened Russia, which helped the Syrian forces of President Bashar al-Assad recapture the key city of Aleppo.

It’s nice to be noticed again.

A FAILED PRESIDENCY: After eight years, Obama leaves a legacy of a wider racial rift.

JOHN FUND AND HANS VAN SPAKOVSKY: Obama’s ‘Scandal-Free Administration’ Is a Myth.

In reality, Mr. Obama has presided over some of the worst scandals of any president in recent decades. Here’s a partial list:

• State Department email. In an effort to evade federal open-records laws, Mr. Obama’s first secretary of state set up a private server, which she used exclusively to conduct official business, including communications with the president and the transmission of classified material. A federal criminal investigation produced no charges, but FBI Director James Comey reported that the secretary and her colleagues “were extremely careless” in handling national secrets.

• Operation Fast and Furious. The Obama Justice Department lost track of thousands of guns it had allowed to pass into the hands of suspected smugglers, in the hope of tracing them to Mexican drug cartels. One of the guns was used in the fatal 2010 shooting of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry. Congress held then-Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt when he refused to turn over documents about the operation.

• IRS abuses. Mr. Obama’s Internal Revenue Service did something Richard Nixon only dreamed of doing: It successfully targeted political opponents. The Justice Department then refused to enforce Congress’s contempt citation against the IRS’s Lois Lerner, who refused to answer questions about her agency’s misconduct.

• Benghazi. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others were killed in the attack on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Libya. With less than two months to go before the 2012 election, the State Department falsely claimed the attack was not a terrorist attack but a reaction to an anti-Muslim film. Emails from the secretary later showed that she knew the attack was terrorism. Justice Department prosecutors even convinced a magistrate judge to jail the filmmaker.

• Hacking. Mr. Obama presided over the biggest data breach in the federal government’s history, at the Office of Personnel Management. The hack exposed the personnel files of millions of federal employees and may end up being used for everything from identity theft to blackmail and espionage. OPM Director Katherine Archuleta, the president’s former political director, had been warned repeatedly about security deficiencies but took no steps to fix them.

• Veterans Affairs. At least 40 U.S. veterans died waiting for appointments at a Phoenix VA facility, many of whom had been on a secret waiting list—part of an effort to conceal that between 1,400 and 1,600 veterans were forced to wait months for appointments. A 2014 internal VA audit found “57,436 newly enrolled veterans facing a minimum 90-day wait for medical care; 63,869 veterans who enrolled over the past decade requesting an appointment that never happened.” Even Mr. Obama admitted, in a November 2016 press conference, that “it was scandalous what happened”—though minutes earlier he boasted that “we will—knock on wood—leave this administration without significant scandal.”

All of these scandals were accompanied by a lack of transparency so severe that 47 of Mr. Obama’s 73 inspectors general signed an open letter in 2014 decrying the administration’s stonewalling of their investigations.

One reason for Mr. Obama’s penchant for secrecy is his habit of breaking rules—from not informing Congress of the dubious prisoner swap involving Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl and the Taliban, to violating restrictions on cash transfers to Iran as part of a hostage-release deal.

The president’s journalistic allies are happily echoing the “scandal-free” myth.

Well, they figure if they don’t talk about it, it’s not really a scandal.