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NOTHING TO SEE HERE: Samantha Power Unmasked Americans at a Freakishly Rapid Pace in Obama’s Last Year.

SHARYL ATTKISSON IN THE HILL: It looks like Obama did spy on Trump, just as he apparently did to me.

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

ANOTHER UPDATE: Don Surber: Why CNN told you Trump’s campaign was wiretapped.

Bonus question: At this point, would anyone be surprised to find out that they were spying on the Romney campaign, too?

MORE: From the comments: “Do you remember when the IRS scandal unfolded? It was brought up at a press briefing. They were trying to get ahead of the Scandal by releasing the information in measured doses, so it could be handled carefully by Administration allies in the Press. That is what they are doing right now, with the wiretapping.”

UNCONSTITUTIONAL, UNACCOUNTABLE, UNAMERICAN: I have a new paper out today, The Case against the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau: Unconstitutionally Structured and Harmful to Consumers. If you need arguments why Senator Warren’s favorite agency needs to be killed by the courts or Congress as matter of political hygiene (as a great man once said about Obamacare) I hope you’ll find them there.

ELI LAKE: What We Still Don’t Know About Obama-Era ‘Unmasking.’

Unmasking Kushner, Bannon and Flynn in that meeting is not in and of itself evidence of political spying. It does not support Trump’s claim that Obama had tapped Trump Tower. It doesn’t rise to the level of a scandal. What’s more, Republicans like Representative Trey Gowdy have praised Rice for her openness this month in her closed-session testimony before the House Intelligence Committee, and reiterated a point made by that committee’s chairman, Devin Nunes, that Rice did not violate the law by requesting that some U.S. persons in intelligence reports be unmasked. Rice, according to sources familiar with her testimony, reiterated that she never leaked the information she unmasked.

Gowdy is still trying to get answers. He told me Monday, “The issues are serious enough to warrant an open-minded, objective review, but we don’t have all the information necessary to draw to a conclusion.”

That’s important. Gowdy says he still has not received exact numbers on how many times Rice or other senior Obama officials made requests to unmask U.S. citizens in intelligence reports. He said he doesn’t yet have enough information to determine whether the volume of requests or their dissemination within the intelligence community were unusual. His committee has learned that Obama’s ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, also made a number of unmasking requests in her final year in office. Was that unusual or part of her job? Why did she need this information?

Keep digging.

PERHAPS SARAH HOYT WILL LET ME BORROW HER SHOCKED FACE: This NPR Reporter Doesn’t Understand Federalism.

Every now and then, there is a reporter who tries to play analyst without realizing what in God’s name they are talking about. It may surprise you to find out than an example of that would be an NPR reporter, and it may further surprise you to find out this reporter was attacking a GOP plan.

Brace yourselves, lads.

That’s right, folks. Obamacare, which seeks to force everyone in the nation, regardless of what state they are in, to buy health insurance, is a shining example of federalism.

That’s… That’s not how this works, Domenico.

When Obama propagandist Ben Rhodes said that “the average reporter we talk to is 27 years old, and… literally know nothing,” his only crime was committing a gaffe of the Kinsley variety.

WELL, THAT’S MUCH BETTER THAN DOG EATING. “North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho slammed U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday, saying his threat to destroy the nation amounted to ‘the sound of a dog barking.’”

Former President Obama could not be reached for comment.

(AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File.)

WALL STREET JOURNAL: All Mr. Comey’s Wiretaps: Congress needs to learn how the FBI meddled in the 2016 campaign.

When Donald Trump claimed in March that he’d had his “wires tapped” prior to the election, the press and Obama officials dismissed the accusation as a fantasy. We were among the skeptics, but with former director James Comey’s politicized FBI the story is getting more complicated.

CNN reported Monday that the FBI obtained a warrant last year to eavesdrop on Paul Manafort, Mr. Trump’s campaign manager from May to August in 2016. The story claims the FBI first wiretapped Mr. Manafort in 2014 while investigating his work as a lobbyist for Ukraine’s ruling party. That warrant lapsed, but the FBI convinced the court that administers the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to issue a second order as part of its probe into Russian meddling in the election.

Guess who has lived in a condo in Trump Tower since 2006? Paul Manafort. . . .

It is thus highly likely that the FBI was listening to the political and election-related conversations of a leading contender for the White House. That’s extraordinary—and worrisome.

Mr. Comey told Congress in late March that he “had no information that supports those [Trump] tweets.” Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper was even more specific that “there was no such wiretap activity mounted against—the President-elect at the time, or as a candidate, or against his campaign.” He denied that any such FISA order existed. Were they lying?

The warrant’s timing may also shed light on the FBI’s relationship to the infamous “ Steele dossier.” That widely discredited dossier claiming ties between Russians and the Trump campaign was commissioned by left-leaning research firm Fusion GPS and developed by former British spy Christopher Steele—who relied on Russian sources. But the Washington Post and others have reported that Mr. Steele was familiar to the FBI, had reached out to the agency about his work, and had even arranged a deal in 2016 to get paid by the FBI to continue his research.

The FISA court sets a high bar for warrants on U.S. citizens, and presumably even higher for wiretapping a presidential campaign. Did Mr. Comey’s FBI marshal the Steele dossier to persuade the court?

All of this is reason for House and Senate investigators to keep exploring how Mr. Comey’s FBI was investigating both presidential campaigns. Russian meddling is a threat to democracy but so was the FBI if it relied on Russian disinformation to eavesdrop on a presidential campaign.

This stinks.

DUMB: What Was Tom Price Thinking?

This Politico piece blows him up so thoroughly, I’m not sure there’s anything left to say. He chartered private jets for HHS-related travel five times in the last week alone, likely at an average cost of at least $12,000 per flight, when he could have easily flown commercial for some or all of them. The most ridiculous charter: A flight from D.C. to Philly, which only takes two to three hours to drive and may well have been faster than traveling to and from airports in both cities to use a plane. When Politico asked Obama’s HHS people if they’d ever felt obliged to use a charter, the only time they could recall doing so was when the secretary had to get to a remote part of Alaska. And that department was tasked with rolling out the ObamaCare exchanges across the country, remember. It’s not like their travel needs were any less pressing than Price’s.

As I write this on Wednesday morning, he and HHS haven’t even tried to justify the flights beyond a pro forma statement that “When commercial aircraft cannot reasonably accommodate travel requirements, charter aircraft can be used for official travel.” The point of the story, though, is that commercial aircraft could have accommodated him. In at least one case, a *rental car* could have accommodated him. The only obvious conceivable excuse is that it wasn’t taxpayers who ended up footing the bill for the flights, it was someone else. But the groups Price visited last week during his trips say they didn’t pay for his travel.

I had hoped we’d gotten rid of such imperial travel accommodations along with the previous Administration.

RUSH LIMBAUGH ON THE WIRETAP NEWS: “This is much worse than Watergate, folks. That was a third-rate burglary that went awry.” “Trump was called a liar. He was mocked for tweeting about Trump Tower being wiretapped. David Gergen, you’ll hear on the sound bites today, practically chokes when confronted with the news that Trump was right and doesn’t quite know what to say about it. But, I tell you what, folks, in many ways it’s worse than Watergate, and it’s still going on even with Trump in the White House. Richard Nixon was accused of spying on the DNC, but Nixon never ordered any such spying. In fact, he didn’t know anything about it. He was accused of using the IRS against his political opponents, but he never did. We know for a fact that Obama did both of these things, used the IRS against political opponents and probably more. There’s no outrage in the media on this. They think it’s great that Manafort’s lock was picked. The New York Times reports this as though it’s something that happens every day. Yep, the FBI showed up, they picked the lock of Manafort’s front door in Virginia and walked in and woke him up along with his family and then started demanding things and taking things….”

FIGHT THE CORRUPTION! Jaclyn Cashman: Trump should muzzle million $$ speaker fees.

President George W. Bush signed sweeping lobbying legislation to cut down on corruption in 2007 with the “Honest Leadership and Open Government Act.”

The law forced ex-senators and top executive branch officials to wait two years before they could lobby Congress after their Capitol Hill jobs ended. Former Representatives had to wait only one year.

At the time, rising star Barack Obama, then a U.S. Senator, called it “the most sweeping ethics reform since Watergate.”

Trump should simply make an amendment to that rule and address the issue of huge speaking fees.

Doesn’t it seem a bit cozy that Obama is making more than most people make in a year during all these speeches to the finance sector? A little distance between the Oval Office and Wall Street could further put Americans at ease that the commander in chief and top staffers care more about Main Street than landing gigs once they depart.

How do we know that decisions made on the way out didn’t benefit the companies now cutting checks to top officials for doing little work in return?

Even Massachusetts U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren called Obama’s first paid speech troubling.

During the presidential election, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders criticized Hillary Clinton’s bank account filled with six-figure checks from Wall Street.

It would appear Trump could get bipartisan support on such a law.

It would be super-amusing.

REMINDER: Trump is hardly the first president to remind North Korea of America’s ability to obliterate it.

Though Trump’s comments are indeed remarkable considering the context and setting in which they were delivered, he’s hardly the first president to remind everyone of America’s ability to wipe the Hermit Kingdom off the map.

In 2016, for example, President Barack Obama remarked casually that the U.S. could, in fact, turn North Korea into a memory.

“We could, obviously, destroy North Korea with our arsenals,” he said in an interview with CBS News.

He added this careful qualifier, “But aside from the humanitarian costs of that, they are right next door to our vital ally, [South] Korea.”

That same year, in his final speech before the U.N. General Assembly, Obama referred to North Korea as a “wasteland,” and said it would have to face “consequences” if it continued to pursue its nuclear program.

Years prior, during a press conference in 1993, President Bill Clinton warned that the U.S. would wage total war against North Korea should it get out of line.

“I know of no one who seriously believes that the United States and [South Korea] would be defeated in a war of aggression by North Korea if they were to attack,” he said. “And I made it as clear as I could that if they were to do that, they would pay a price so great that the nation would probably not survive as it is known today.”

Yes, but it’s different when Trump does it because shut up.

CAUTION: SPEED BUMPS AHEAD. Latest Push for a Health-Law Repeal Picks Up Speed in the Senate.

Mr. McConnell said on Tuesday the Senate leadership was “in the process of discussing” whether to hold a vote on the latest bill, which would unwind much of the 2010 Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare.

“If we were going to go forward, we would have to act before Sept. 30,” Mr. McConnell told reporters. “We are in the process of discussing all of this. Everybody knows that the opportunity expires at the end of the month.” He was referring to the short shelf life of the procedural tool that allows Republicans to pass bills through the Senate with a simple majority.

GOP Senators met Tuesday to discuss the repeal bill from Sens. Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) and Bill Cassidy (R., La.) and two hearings are planned next week. The White House also threw its muscle behind the legislation, with Vice President Mike Pence saying Tuesday that the administration is “all in” on the effort.

The bill still faces the same challenge that sank a July repeal effort: Moderate Republicans worry the proposal goes too far in rolling back the current health law.

Senator Rand Paul says he won’t vote for the bill because it doesn’t go far enough, which puts the new replacement effort in the exact same bind as the previous replacement effort.

“EXPERTS” ON PARADE: Democratic and Republican Elites Are Using Trump to Whitewash 16 Years of Foreign-Policy Disasters.

NEW YORK TIMES: Republicans Demand Another Vote to Repeal the Affordable Care Act.

“Demand?” Republicans control The Hill, allegedly, and ObamaCare repeal is one of the jobs what they were elected to get done.

GEORGE KORDA ON TENNESSEE DEMOCRATS: Basing a strategy on ‘resistance’ won’t turn Tennessee blue. “Democrats and a good many talking heads repeatedly over eight years said how wrong it was to be disrespectful toward a president when his name was Obama. Changing directions 180 degrees because the president is named Trump may work for the committed faithful, but the politically non-adamant can’t turn that fast to embrace a concept of disrespect Democrats condemned for eight years.”

FREE KURDISTAN: Kurdish Independence Referendum on September 25th Raises Threats from Turkey, Iraq. “The White House also wants the Kurds to cancel the vote.”

Citing concerns about continued efforts against ISIS, President Trump’s administration—like Obama’s before him—does not support an independent Kurdish state. The Trump administration has demanded that the Kurds cancel their independence referendum in favor of further negotiations.

With few exceptions, a lack of imagination has been hindering US policy in the Middle East since Nixon and Kissinger completed Egypt’s realignment more than 40 years ago.

TOM SHATTUCK: Brace for Impact, Swamp!

All righty then. Looks like we may have a big problem. Remember in March when President Trump tweeted this shocking item? “Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!”

And, “How low has President Obama gone to tapp my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!.”

Heads exploded.

Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey scowled, “Donald Trump should just do the right thing and apologize to Barack Obama, there is no evidence … it is absolutely not true.”

Sen. Liz Warren was right there to shout down the president, saying, “I just think it’s becoming clearer every day that President Trump is failing and he knows it, and that’s what these wild allegations are about.”

Not surprisingly, President Obama’s grenadiers in the media enthusiastically joined the charge.

While ABC’s Martha Raddatz excoriated Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Mika Brzezinski griped, “What the hell … This White House is a joke.”

More recently Jake Tapper called Trump’s allegation “fiction,” snorting, “There is no evidence that Donald Trump was wiretapped by Barack Obama, it was and continues to be a lie.”

Not so fast, Jake.

Last night, Tapper’s colleagues at CNN broke blockbuster news: “US investigators wiretapped former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort under secret court orders before and after the election.”

Manafort has a residence in Trump Tower.

According to CNN, “The government snooping continued into early this year, including a period when Manafort was known to talk to President Donald Trump.”

It’s funny how many statements that got the It’s monstrous to even suggest that! treatment not long ago are now turning out to be true. . . .

THE HILL: New GOP ObamaCare Repeal Bill Gains Momentum.

TRUMP LET A KID MOW THE WHITE HOUSE LAWN. IDIOT ASKS: WHAT ABOUT CHILD LABOR LAWS?

Frank Giaccio, an 11-year-old kid from Falls Church, Virginia, wrote a note to President Trump saying he admired his business sense and had a business of his own: He mows lawns, $8 a pop. But it would be his “honor to mow the White House Lawn” as a volunteer.

And he got the gig!

So now there are pictures of him all over the Internet, mowing the Rose Garden lawn on September 15. And while he’s doing it, out comes the president to shake his hand. Giaccio tells the president he wants to be a Navy Seal someday and it’s a giant feel-good story.

Except on Twitter.

There, Steven Greenhouse, former New York Times labor reporter and author of the book, The Big Squeeze: Tough Times for the American Worker, tweeted that the administration was “Not sending a great signal on child labor, minimum wage & occupational safety” by having a “10-year-old volunteer mow its lawn.”

As you might imagine, critics were somewhat dumbfounded (to put it mildly) that Greenhouse was treating this one-off photo op as if it were a policy statement. The words “Debbie Downer” appeared in at least one response. So did some other names. Thankfully, other people reminded Greenhouse that it is good for kids to mow lawns. Plenty of them spent their own childhoods mowing lawns.

Greenhouse countered by recommending they all read an article on how dangerous lawn-mowing is for kids. So I read it. I immediately recognized the name of the doctor who did the research: Dr. Gary Smith at Nationwide Hospital. “Nationwide” as in the insurance company that featured a dead kid in its Super Bowl ad a few years back.

This photo-op is such a pretty nifty small win all around for Trump; it humanizes him next to the 11-year old kid and by reminding voters how much PR Giaccio is going to get now that he can use this in his marketing efforts. Having Giaccio at the White House wanting to promote his business contrasts Trump with Obama trolling America via “clock boy” last year. And the White House PR team had to know when they scheduled it that someone in the DNC-MSM would find some way of freaking out – Trump could say “Nice day today,” and a lefty scold would shout, “But what about global warming???!!!!”

The former Timesman’s freakout over the kid mowing the White House lawn occurred the same day that Brooke Baldwin of CNN dived for the fainting couch over Clay Travis’s “First Amendment and boobs” crack. The same weekend that Colbert’s Emmys were hyper-politicized. The same weekend that Jerry Brown called Trump voters “troglodyte” cave dwellers. Apparently, Brown doesn’t seem to care that he’s just insulted 4.5 million of his constituents in California.

In the 1960s, the left was first cool – think JFK, Brando, Sinatra and Miles Davis, and later hip, with the Beatles, the Stones and Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper. Today, they’re humorless PC scolds, tut-tutting anyone having fun – and that’s not a good look for anyone.

Frank Giaccio, 11, of Falls Church, Va., holds his arms up in the air after being surprised by President Donald Trump, Friday, Sept. 15, 2017, while mowing the lawn of the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington. The 11-year-old, who wrote the president requesting to mow the lawn at the White House, was so focused on the job at hand the he didn’t notice the president until he was right next to him. At left is Frank’s father, Greg Giaccio. (AP Photo and caption.)

OF NARRATIVES PAST AND PRESENT: In the new issue of Commentary, Andrew Ferguson profiles veteran DC journalist Elizabeth Drew, whom he describes as “Washington’s Keeper of the Narratives.”

Every administration gets suited up with the Divided White House Narrative at some point; Donald Trump’s is just the latest to succumb, and Ronald Reagan’s never outgrew it. The Pentagon Papers Narrative is also ongoing, most recently with Julian Assange as the hero, until he broke the narrative flow and became a bad guy, not at all like that brave Daniel Ellsberg. Bill Clinton’s White House was fit into the Tragic Presidency Narrative originally applied to the administration of Lyndon Johnson. Bill Clinton—able, smart, stuffed with charm, oozing political savvy—was shown lifting the country from the HWBushian darkness into the light of Democratic peace and prosperity even as he was brought low by his own personal Vietnam, who was wearing a thong.

More than once Barack Obama was draped in the Cuban Missile Crisis Narrative. His iciness was undeniable, though how canny he was remains an open question. But his far-seeing aide, John Kerry, was a Kennedy wannabe from Massachusetts, and when the time came to stare down the nuke-craving mullahs and call their bluff, Obama rose to the narrative by striking the Iran nuclear deal, thereby saving the world from cataclysm. It says so right here in the narrative.

Drew is handy with all these narratives, able to keep one spinning on the tip of a pool cue even as she balances another on her forehead while lifting a third with her big toe. As Keeper of the Narratives, though, she has particular responsibility for the crown jewel. Drew covered the Watergate scandal in weekly dispatches for the New Yorker and has been closely associated with it ever since. She even appears in the movie adaptation of All the President’s Men, which, although admittedly fictionalized and largely debunked, is to Washington narratives what the epic of Gilgamesh is to quest literature.

Drew’s Watergate articles became a book, called Washington Journal. I reread it the other day. It is droll, knowing, discursive, full of flavorsome detail, a worthy and appealing work of higher journalism. It is also animated by a subcutaneous vein of hysteria. Actually, it’s hysteria and delight all mixed together, for in Washington the two are always commingling. We Washingtonians are an excitable people. We feed off crises, draw strength from the Republic’s misfortune. I recall a remark from Ben Bradlee, editor of the Washington Post (yeah, he was legendary, too), during the Iran-Contra scandal of the late 1980s. The official position of the Washington establishment was that Iran-Contra, like Watergate before it, was a grave threat to the Constitution, indeed to the existence of self-government. No laughing matter, in other words. And yet: “I haven’t had so much fun since Watergate,” Bradlee said. That’s the emotional life of the capital, indiscreetly expressed.

And Drew is its truest representative.

In the middle of a fascinating hour-long interview with Peter Robson on Uncommon Knowledge, Scott Adams of Dilbert fame and the author of How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big and the upcoming Win Bigly, charts the path of the current narrative arc:

Peter Robinson: How … You did … I found this quotation, because I thought to myself, “I’ve got him.” Let’s see if I have got you. “Trump’s value proposition is … this is you on your blog. Quote, “Trump’s value proposition is that he will ‘Make America Great.’ That concept sounds appealing to me. The nation needs good brand management.” Whatever else is going on, issue, by issue, by issue, you look at this guy and say, “You know, he’s my guy.”

Scott Adams: Well, I’m not saying I’d say, “My guy.” I say that he has a set of skills, which are extraordinary, and the thing I was most interested in was that the country could see it clearly without the filter put on it by the opposition because they’re both painting each other terribly. In Hillary Clinton’s situation, people know what a standard politician is. They could see through the attacks on the other side. We knew what we were getting, but with Trump, people didn’t know what they were getting. At least half the country thought he was crazy Hitler. I had actually predicted, I guess before he was inaugurated, that you would see the following story arc develop because it just was obvious if you’re trained in persuasion, it was going to go this way. It would start with, “Oh my God, we’ve accidentally elected Hitler, like how did this happen? How did half the country or so not know that we’ve elected a monster?” I figured, okay, after a few months of not doing Hitler stuff, it’s just going to dissipate, and it has. By summer, I said the Hitler thing will dissipate, and it did, but it would be replaced with “But, he’s incompetent. He’s incompetent. He’s incompetent”. Sure enough, that was the big word of the summer up until now. I didn’t see the Russia thing coming because that, that’s hard to predict, but I’ve predicted that after the “He’s incompetent” phase will come the, “Well, he did get a lot done, but we don’t all like that. He did things we don’t like, but he was awfully effective and he did do the things he said he was going to do. We just don’t like those things.” You’re going to see that by year end, and in fact you’re already seeing the turn.

Peter Robinson: Yes.

Scott Adams: It’s visible now. You can see the turn happening.

Hmmmm.

At times during his conversation with Robinson, Adams’ takes are awfully out there; as Kathy Shaidle wrote last year, “You Don’t Have to Be Crazy to Be Scott Adams, But It Helps,” though perhaps that’s what makes it such an interesting interview. Or maybe it’s Adams’ claim to Robinson that “I have a background as a hypnotist, I’m a trained hypnotist” at work…

OH MY: PRELIM RATINGS FOR EMMYS PREDICT NEW RECORD … LOW.

By the Obama era, television news had become closed-circuit TV for the ruling class. TV’s entertainment wing has followed suit. It’s fascinating that for an industry allegedly obsessed with profit, by alienating half the country, the media’s ideology sure leaves a lot of money on the table.

UPDATE: The Great Tune-Out:

Though adjustments may change the preliminary verdict, this year’s Emmys are set to underperform even last year’s all-time low ratings. Maybe the politics on display were irrelevant; maybe the rise of streaming services has made traditional broadcast television a dying product. Maybe. But the Emmys misfortunes are of a familiar sort. This tune out is starting to feel like a trend…Movies, cable and broadcast television, music; this tune out isn’t entirely about cord cutting. This is something broader.

Read the whole thing.

BECAUSE IT’S BEEN A CESSPIT OF POLITICIZED PSEUDOSCIENCE FOR DECADES: Here’s Why Gun Violence Research in The US Is About to Come to a Grinding Halt.

JOHN STOSSEL & MAXIM LOTT: $20,000,000,000,000 in Debt and Rising: Now that Trump’s made a deal with Democrats, our national debt is higher than ever.

I never expected Trump to be any good on the debt, and he hasn’t been. But neither has any other president, and one lesson of the Obama era is that apparently nobody cares about the debt except the Tea Party, which was neutralized because it was threatening bipartisan opportunities for graft.

BLOOMBERG: Obama Goes From White House to Wall Street in Less Than One Year. “Obama is coming to Wall Street less than a year after leaving the White House, following a path that’s well trod and well paid. While he can’t run for president, he continues to be an influential voice in a party torn between celebrating and vilifying corporate power. His new work with banks might suggest which side of the debate he’ll be on and disappoint anyone expecting him to avoid a trap that snared Clinton.”

Hey, they didn’t call him President Goldman Sachs for nothing.

PRESIDENTGOLDMANSACHS

But it’s yet another argument for my Revolving-Door Surtax.

Flashback: Joe Biden to Goldman Sachs execs: “I’m doing a job interview with you.”

BAILOUT NATION: Senators near deal to stabilize ObamaCare markets.

HMM: Facebook Gave Special Counsel Robert Mueller More Details on Russian Ad Buys Than Congress.

Facebook Inc. FB 0.40% has handed over to special counsel Robert Mueller detailed records about the Russian ad purchases on its platform that go beyond what the company shared with Congress last week, according to people familiar with the matter.

The information Facebook shared with Mr. Mueller included copies of the ads and details about the accounts that bought them and the targeting criteria they used, the people familiar with the matter said. Facebook policy dictates it would only turn over “the stored contents of any account,” including messages and location information, in response to a search warrant, some of them said.

A search warrant from Mr. Mueller would mean the special counsel now has a powerful tool to probe the details of how social media was used as part of a campaign of Russian meddling in the U.S. presidential election. Russia has denied any interference in the election.

That story is behind the WSJ paywall, but Natasha Bertrand’s analysis for Business Insider isn’t:

Legal experts say the revelation has enormous implications for the trajectory of Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s election interference, and whether Moscow had any help from President Donald Trump’s campaign team.

“This is big news — and potentially bad news for the Russian election interference ‘deniers,'” said Asha Rangappa, a former FBI counterintelligence agent.

Rangappa, now an associate dean at Yale Law School, explained that to obtain a search warrant a prosecutor needs to prove to a judge that there is reason to believe a crime has been committed. The prosecutor then has to show that the information being sought will provide evidence of that crime.

Mueller would not have sought a warrant targeting Facebook as a company, Rangappa noted. Rather, he would have been interested in learning more about specific accounts.

“The key here, though, is that Mueller clearly already has enough information on these accounts — and their link to a potential crime to justify forcing [Facebook] to give up the info,” she said. “That means that he has uncovered a great deal of evidence through other avenues of Russian election interference.”

It also means that Mueller is no longer looking at Russia’s election interference from a strict counterintelligence standpoint — rather, he now believes he may be able to obtain enough evidence to charge specific foreign entities with a crime.

If foreigners are buying political ads, we need to know about it. It would also be useful to know just how much foreign money Barack Obama illegally accepted in 2008 and 2012, and what protections we can take in the future against such meddling.

YOU SAY THAT LIKE IT WASN’T INTENTIONAL:  Obama’s Iran Deal bears Fruit…For Hezbollah…What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

ROGER SIMON: The ‘Dreamers’ Can Stay but Never Vote.

Under no circumstances can or should someone who has arrived in our country illegally, no matter at what age, be allowed ever to vote in our elections at any level — federal, state or local.

To borrow a phrase from Barack Obama, it “wouldn’t be fair.” Those millions of legal immigrants from all over the world who stood in line and played by the rules deserve the right to determine this country’s future in elections. Those that didn’t, don’t. If the extent of the “Dreamers'” American dream is so great that they feel an overwhelming desire to vote, they are free to go home and wait in line like everybody else.

Seems fair.

FIVE YEARS AGO: Me on the Obama Economy. My first regular column for USA Today.

ST. LOUIS TV JOURNALIST: “Scariest moment in my career. Protesters upset about not guilty verdict for an officer accused of killing a suspect, turn on me and media.”

Video at Twitchy, which adds, “Tell us more about the scary Trump supporters, eh?”

As David Horowitz tweeted last night, “Trump is nearly all that stands between this country and disaster. Take a look at St. Louis tonight & imagine that Hillary won.” To get a sense of the MSM-White House triangulation we’d be seeing this weekend, here’s a flashback to a Tammy Bruce article from late 2014: “Ferguson Unrest: Obama, Dems fan flames of racial tension, ignore own failed economics.”

In a similar vein, hopefully CNN being obsessed with a sports blogger uttering “boobs” on the air last night distracted them from further ginning up the riots, as they did in Ferguson and Baltimore.

LEMMINGS: Democrats Follow Bernie Sanders Off a Cliff.

Matthew Continetti:

The “Medicare for All Act of 2017” would repeal Obamacare, along with most other private and public insurance, and replace it with a government-run, one-size-fits-all, centrally directed system of reimbursement for medical expenses. Sanders, who honeymooned in the Soviet Union, holds the same opinion of health insurance as he does antiperspirants: “You don’t necessarily need a choice of 23 underarm spray deodorants or of 18 different sneakers when children are hungry in this country.”

Senators Harris, Booker, Gillibrand, and Warren, who in addition to cosponsoring the bill may soon be fighting each other, as well as Sanders, for the Democratic nomination, are generals re-enacting the last war. They saw how well Sanders did against Clinton, they have marched in the anti-Trump “resistance” movement, and they want to inoculate themselves from accusations of ideological heresy.

Which is why they embrace the thin-skinned and irritable senator whose wife is under federal investigation. What the copycats forget is the future in politics is never a straight-line projection of the present, much less of the bizarre circumstances surrounding the 2016 Democratic primary. “Medicare for All” might strike Warren &co. today as legislation worthy of support for reasons both moral and self-interested. In time, however, palling around with Bernie Bros may become a liability.

For one thing, the policy is remarkably vague. “Mr. Sanders did not say how he would pay for his bill,” writes Robert Pear of the New York Times. “Aides said he would issue a list of financing options.” The “options” are not included in the bill—but they are enough to raise the hair on the back of one’s neck.

The experiences of Vermont, whose single-payer system collapsed several years ago, and of California and New Jersey, whose true-blue legislatures can’t carry single payer across the finish line, and of Colorado, which voted overwhelmingly against a similar plan last year, suggest the tax increases necessary to sustain expanded coverage frighten even Democrats.

Nancy Pelosi won’t be seen anywhere near Sanders’ bill, and whatever else you might say about her, her political instincts are still sharp.

1913: THE TURNING POINT.

In 1913, Woodrow Wilson was the newly elected president. Wilson and his fellow progressives scorned the Constitution and the Declaration. They moved swiftly to replace the Founders’ republic with a new regime.

There is widespread agreement that Wilson did not always show good judgment – for example, in his blunders in international relations – but in the project of overturning the Founding, he and the movement he led selected their targets shrewdly. By the time he left office, the American republic was, as they say, history. The fundamentals of the new regime were in place, and the expansion of government under FDR, LBJ, and Obama was made easy, perhaps even inevitable.

Nineteen-thirteen gave us the 16th and 17th Amendments to the Constitution. That year also saw the creation of the Federal Reserve. This burst of changes marks the effective beginning of the Progressive Era in American politics, the era in which we now live. Wilson was to do much more that would once have been considered out of bounds, but these three changes were enough to change everything. In 1913, the fundamental agreement the Founders made with the American people about the relation of the states and the federal government was broken.

There will be a reckoning, I’m afraid.

JOHN B. JUDIS: I argued that demographics favored the Democrats. I was wrong.

Phillips writes in his book, Brown Is the New White, “progressive people of color” already combine with “progressive whites” to make up 51 percent of voting-age Americans. “And that majority,” he adds, “is getting bigger every single day.” The strategy prescription logically follows. Rejecting the notion that Democrats must woo Trump voters as a “fool’s errand,” Phillips says the party must be “race-conscious and not race-neutral or color-blind.” Demographics are destiny. “The concerns of people of color,” he concludes, “should be driving politics today and into the future.”

This isn’t a new argument, of course—and I bear some responsibility for it. The book I co-wrote in 2002 with demographer Ruy Teixeira, The Emerging Democratic Majority, laid out an overly optimistic forecast of the party’s prospects in an increasingly diverse America. By and large, Teixeira still holds to the view that the growth of minority populations will provide a long-term “boost to the left.” In his new book, fittingly titled The Optimistic Leftist, Teixeira notes that by the 2050s, eleven of the 15 largest states will be “majority-minority.”

On one level, there’s no arguing with the math. If you take the percentage of Americans that the U.S. census defines as “minorities” and project their past voting habits into the next decade and beyond, you’ll come up with a very sunny version of the Democrats’ prospects. There are only two problems with this line of thinking, but they’re pretty big ones. For starters, the census prediction of a “majority-minority” America—slated to arrive in 2044—is deeply flawed. And so is the notion that ethnic minorities will always and forever continue to back Democrats in Obama-like numbers.

Democrats need ideas, not colors.

PROGRESSIVISM IS HAZARDOUS TO YOUR HEALTH:  The Corruption of Public Health. Of all the crazy left-wing junk-science crusades I’ve written about, the war on vaping is the craziest. Progressives are effectively protecting Big Tobacco and Big Pharma by misleading the public about the risks of vaping, as I write in City Journal:

How could a profession dedicated to health oppose the most promising method of saving smokers’ lives? The immediate answer involves progressive activists whom the Obama administration appointed to government health agencies; with the change of administrations, their departure gives Republicans a chance to undo the damage. But the vaping story is part of a much bigger and longer-running scandal. It is the most flagrant example of how a once-noble enterprise became corrupted by ideology and self-dealing.

The public-health profession now cares about more growing government than promoting solid research or public health. Millions of lives could be saved if smokers switched to e-cigarettes or smokeless tobacco, but when it comes to nicotine, progressives insist on an abstinence-only policy (also known as “quit or die”) rather than the “harm-reduction” approach they promote for heroin addicts.

This inconsistency can be explained partly by the Left’s preferences in virtue-signaling. Like fundamentalists who object to dancing because it looks like sex, they’re repulsed by vaping because it looks like smoking. A more cynical explanation is the difference in employment opportunities for public-health workers and bureaucrats. There’s no role for them when people get nicotine through snus or e-cigarettes, but they can get jobs running needle exchanges and antismoking campaigns. Prohibitionist activists have received long-running support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which helped create the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids (a leader of the anti-vaping movement) and has spent nearly $700 million toward its goal of a “tobacco-free society.”

Republicans have a chance to to combine sound science and good politics by protecting the 10 million American vapers, a demographic that’s projected to double in the next decade. “These contemptuous nanny-state jerks want to take away the products that are saving their lives,” says Grover Norquist, the GOP strategist. “Believe me, this is a vote-moving issue.”

MEGAN MCARDLE: The Latest (Dim, Distant) Hope for Health-Care Reform.

The latest bedside miracle is the Graham-Cassidy-Heller proposal, which would cut spending, cap spending, and shift spending away from states that expanded Medicaid to those that haven’t. At the same time, it would give states considerable discretion to design local solutions for health-care provision, something that, as I’ve noted before, is likely to be the key to getting us out of the morass in which we’re currently mired with Obamacare.

Is this the turn? Has the fever broken? Or is this just a stalling tactic, before more agonizing months and years, before the patient is finally pronounced truly and utterly dead?

Well, the political math certainly looks difficult. Republicans hold a majority in both houses, but their Senate majority is narrow enough to give them precious little wiggle room when it comes to passing a bill. Considering that Rand Paul has already been pretty negative about the bill, that wiggle will have to be more like a tremor: If Rand won’t back the proposal, they’ll need either Susan Collins or Lisa Murkowski, who have so far proven unwilling to vote for previous iterations of GOP reform ideas.

Moreover, they’re going to have to shimmy pretty quick. This bill is not, needless to say, going to garner Democratic votes. Democrats don’t want to do anything to Obamacare except pour more money into it.

When all you have is somebody else’s checkbook, everything looks like a spending problem.

REGULATION ROLLBACK: Trump Administration Working in Other Ways to Dismantle Obamacare.

WAR IS PEACE. FREEDOM IS SLAVERY. Hillary Clinton: The lesson of 1984 is trust your leaders.


To add to the conclusion of Allahpundit’s post, it’s fascinating that Hillary and/or her ghostwriters apparently don’t recall how Hillary’s 2008 campaign was torpedoed by an Obama operative through their own 1984 callback:

THE RATCHET EFFECT: Sanders’ single-payer push splits Democrats.

Wisconsin Sen. Tammy Baldwin on Tuesday became the single-payer bill’s first supporter from the class of Senate Democrats up for reelection next year in states Trump carried. But other politically imperiled incumbent Democrats have said no to Sanders.

Sen. Claire McCaskill said in a brief interview that lawmakers have more work to do to keep health care costs in check “before we would think about expanding that [Medicare] system for everyone.”

Single-payer on a national level would have “a lot of problems,” McCaskill added, although she came out in support of allowing individuals as young as 55 to buy into Medicare. That idea is also backed by Baldwin and two other red-state Democrats up for reelection next year who are declining to endorse Sanders’ bill: Sens. Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Debbie Stabenow of Michigan.

Stabenow, also a member of Democratic leadership, said Tuesday that she would keep working on her Medicare-at-55 plan “because I think there is some bipartisan interest in that.” She said the party’s first order of business should be shoring up the Obamacare markets, followed by other goals.

That’s this year. By 2020, support for single payer will likely be the Democrats’ new litmus test.

DO YOU WANT FRIES WITH THAT (340 EXTRA CALORIES FOR MEDIUM)?: Obamacare restaurant calorie labeling rules will drive up food costs. Domino’s, for example, will have to account for 34 million different pizza combinations. But of course they won’t stop people eating.

WASHINGTON EXAMINER: Deplorable Book, Deplorable Person.

Nearly a year after she lost the 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton is promoting a book about how her defeat is everyone else’s fault. So much, so familiar.

What’s striking is that even though she has barely begun her book tour, Clinton has already given the game away, reverting to her self-pitying idea that half her countrymen are “irredeemable” and “deplorable.”

Remember that riff she got into at a 2016 private fundraiser? No? Well here it is, to freshen your recollection.

You know, to just be grossly generalistic, you could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables. Right? The racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamaphobic — you name it. And unfortunately there are people like that. And he has lifted them up. He has given voice to their websites that used to only have 11,000 people — now 11 million. He tweets and retweets their offensive hateful mean-spirited rhetoric. Now, some of those folks — they are irredeemable, but thankfully they are not America.”

Clinton later issued a half-cocked apology for casting aspersions on tens of millions of her fellow citizens. She didn’t repeat exactly those words this past weekend when trying to flog her book, but she might as well have done. In an interview with Jane Pauley, she said Trump “was quite successful in referencing a nostalgia that would give hope, comfort, settle grievances, for millions of people who were upset about gains that were made by others.” She then clarified that she meant “millions of white people, yeah.”

This is actually an uglier comment than the one for which she pretended to apologize during the election. It’s a characteristically self-centered and selfish remark that should remind the nation why it can be glad Clinton didn’t become president and never will.

Every day Trump goes on not being President Hillary, and every day that makes me happy. Hillary’s clueless book is only making me happier.

Plus: “Between 2009 and 2017, Democrats and the Left forgot how to make arguments for their political positions. They leaned on Obama’s blackness, and argued that all his critics must ipso facto be racists. It was facile to make the accusation, but it seemed worthwhile at the time because it obviated the need for the sort of clear-eyed introspection that can make people, even politicians, question their beliefs and come up with fresh ideas. But convenient though it was to hide behind unthinking charges or bigotry, it eroded the Democrats ability to back their policies with facts and cogent reasoning. It was always a weak argument. Voters saw through in two midterm elections and again in 2016. But how much more contemptible it is to see that same racial crutch used by to prop up the amour propre of a whiter-than-white, uber-privileged politician who rode into public life on her husband’s coattails.”

In cosmic irony, though, she ignored Bill Clinton’s “mansplaining” of the election to her, and as a result, lost.

GOOD QUESTION: What Kind of History Did Hillary Clinton Make?

“Hillary made history by winning the nomination” is another way of saying “Hillary made history by managing to not lose the nomination with institutional advantages that no other candidate is likely to enjoy for the next few decades.”

And then she headed into a general election with another slew of institutional advantages: her campaign spent twice as much as Trump’s did, the media detested Trump, and the Republican nominee stumbled from one mess to another. Many prominent Republicans skipped their party’s convention in Cleveland while the Democrats’ gathering in Philadelphia went off without a hitch. Clinton may complain about FBI Director James Comey’s last minute reopening (and re-closing!) of the bureau’s investigation of her, but it’s not like Trump had a smooth final month with the revelation of the Access Hollywood tape in early October. Sure, the first line of Hillary’s obituary will mention she was the first woman to win a major party’s presidential nomination. But it’s likely to continue, “and the loser in the most shocking upset in American political history.”

She was a terrible candidate — and aside from Barack Obama, the best the Democrats have put up since 1996.

HUH. FIRST HE WAS HITLER, THEN HE WAS INCOMPETENT, NOW THIS: Trump administration earns cautious praise for early response to hurricanes. “Facing off against a pair of historic storms — first Harvey in Texas and Louisiana, then Hurricane Irma through the U.S. Virgin Islands and Florida — Trump’s administration has earned bipartisan praise for coordinating the federal response with state and local officials, avoiding the type of catastrophe that marked the Bush administration’s response to Katrina, a storm that killed more than 1,800 people.”

And don’t forget Obama’s botching of Sandy, “Katrina on the Hudson.”

WOW, WAIT ‘TIL SHE DISCOVERS WHAT OBAMA DID HER TO ELECTION CHANCES IN 2008! Video: Hillary keeps blaming Bernie, calls him an election spoiler.

THAT MEANS IT’S WORKING: Insurers make their pitch on how to rescue health-care system.

Funny that WaPo headlines with “health-care system” rather than “ObamaCare exchanges.”

FAKE NEWS? Illegal immigration in Southwest doubled over past four months.

More than 30,000 illegal immigrants were nabbed in August, up 22 percent compared to July and up nearly 100 percent compared to April, when fewer than 16,000 illegal immigrants were arrested by the Border Patrol or stopped at ports of entry by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers.

The numbers are still lower than they were a year before under Mr. Obama, but the gains Mr. Trump made in his first months in office are dissipating.

Actually, I’m not sure you can read anything into these numbers. July of 2017 should be compared to July of 2016 — not to the previous month of the same year. Month-to-month figures are probably worthless for a variety of reasons.

OBAMA’S LEGACY ISN’T ALL BAD: Poll: More Americans Have a Gun in Home Than Ever Before.

KURT SCHLICHTER: The True Conservatives Hype A Trumpocalypse In A Desperate Bid For Attention.

The latest Never Trump meme is that Donald Trump has defected to the Democrats, a notion that might charitably be labeled “wishful thinking” if it actually involved any thinking. But the “wishful” part is in full effect as this tattered remnant of worshippers at the altar of Establishment Conservatism seeks to revive their failed cult and reassume their position as the priesthood of all things on the right.

You remember Establishment Conservatism, right? It is to conservatism as Unitarians are to Christianity – “Well, I sort of believe in something, but mostly I just want whatever I do validated.” Establishment Conservatism is the sect that promised for seven years to repeal Obamacare then…didn’t. But that was Trump’s fault, of course, because reasons and because you’re a fake conservative for asking and also shut up.

So, this week’s True Con embarrassment arose because the Republicans were somehow going to score yet another smashing victory in a debt ceiling fight, as they always do, but darn that Trump! He got in the way of their cunning scheme. Or something.

“As they always do.” Gold.

AS SURELY AS NIGHT FOLLOWS DAY: Obamacare Repeal Is Dead. Here Come the Bailouts.

Those of us who argued back in 2009-10 that ObamaCare was welfare for Big Insurance will get the last, bitter laugh.

JAMES JEFFREY: The Iran Deal Is on Thin Ice, and Rightly So.

A primary problem with the agreement, in Haley’s view, is that it does nothing to curb Iran’s aggressive regional expansionism. This behavior, which profoundly worries every friendly Middle East leader, kicked into high gear just weeks after the JCPOA was signed in 2015. International agreements, particularly concerning weapons of mass destruction, are obviously important in themselves, but their strategic context should not be ignored. For example, while there has been little genuine angst over the Israeli nuclear weapons program, regional and global concern about Iranian nukes has been profound due to its destabilizing regional policies.

The Obama administration’s behavior stoked Iran’s aggressive regional approach. U.S. officials in the previous administration were slippery on the issue of “linkage” between the agreement and Iran’s disruptive regional agenda. At times, such as a speech Vice President Joseph Biden made at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy in April 2015, officials argued that the agreement was simply concerned with nuclear restraints, and Iran’s regional behavior would be dealt with in other ways. But it never was — not in Syria, Yemen, or elsewhere. Rather, the administration’s implicit position appeared best reflected in President Barack Obama’s 2015 interview with the Atlantic, wherein he argued that the long game engendered by the agreement would help return Iran to respectability and calm the region, while also signaling that he was not overly troubled by Iran’s depravations.

He opined that Saudi Arabia had to find a way to “share the neighborhood” with Iran, and that backing U.S. allies in the region too strongly against Iran would only fan the flames of conflict.

But Iran’s behavior is now too dangerous to ignore.

“Now” means “now that it isn’t Obama’s problem anymore.”

SALENA ZITO: Democrats give away the Rust Belt by alienating Catholics.

OHIO VALLEY — A clip of Martha Plimpton’s exuberance over the ‘best’ abortion she ever had played out on the television overhead of a gas-station counter somewhere along U.S. Route 422 between Ohio and Pennsylvania.

A woman with a name tag noting her as the manager rolled her eyes and said to no one in particular as she went about stacking the shelves behind the counter, “And they wonder why people don’t vote for Democrats around here anymore.”

Plimpton, 46, is best known for her role in the 1980’s Steven Spielberg classic kid adventure movie “Goonies.” She made her remark in an interview with Dr. Willie Parker at a #ShoutYourAbortion event in Seattle in June.

After saying Seattle was the home of some of her family she went on to cheer what she did in her teens, “I also had my first abortion at the Seattle Planned Parenthood. Yay!”

With equal exuberance, she also revealed her Seattle abortion wasn’t her last.

Actions like Plimpton’s do not help the Democratic cause in achieving power and influence back in Washington, D.C. At least not with Main Street voters.

Nor does it help Democrats win local races either.

“Democrats used to debate the legal right to have one, and that was a point of view that was shared by most voters,” said Michael Wear, a theologically conservative evangelical Christian and Democrat who served in Barack Obama’s faith outreach office in the White House.

“I don’t understand why 14 months before a midterm election why would you push 20 percent of voters who would love to support Democrats out the door? Better yet why would you speak of pro-life Democrats as though they were some extraterrestrial who just landed on earth?” he said.

Because looking down on those voters is one of the chief rewards for being on the left today.

BYRON YORK: Crime and Immigration: What’s in the Dream Act:

Commentary on the DACA controversy frequently notes that the nation’s nearly 700,000 so-called Dreamers are a law-abiding group. But a new bill to give DACA recipients full legal status, sponsored by Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham and Jeff Flake and Democratic Sens. Richard Durbin and Chuck Schumer, would allow newly legalized Dreamers to have many run-ins with the law — arrests, charges, convictions — and still receive benefits. Schumer, the Democratic leader, is demanding quick passage.

Former President Barack Obama’s original 2012 executive action creating Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals stipulated that to be eligible, recipients must have “not been convicted of a felony offense, a significant misdemeanor offense, multiple misdemeanor offense, or otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.” When Obama announced the criteria for renewing DACA status in 2014, the standard was “have not been convicted of a felony, a significant misdemeanor or three or more misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.”

The Obama administration defined a “significant misdemeanor” as a crime with a maximum sentence of one year, or, regardless of length of sentence, “an offense of domestic violence; sexual abuse or exploitation; burglary; unlawful possession or use of a firearm; drug distribution or trafficking; or driving under the influence.”

With the Dream Act of 2017, Graham, Flake, Durbin, and Schumer have adopted much of the existing Obama-era criteria about crime, but in a way that would allow Department of Homeland Security officials to be more generous with newly legalized DACA recipients.

If only they were as lenient with citizens who break the law.

CULTURE OF CORRUPTION: Obama officials gave contractors tens of millions of dollars in improper conservation funds: Watchdog.

IN HIS LAST BLOG ENTRY, JERRY POURNELLE OFFERS THOUGHTS ON DEALING WITH “DREAMERS:”

The Constitution says the President must take care to see that the laws are faithfully enforced. Mr. Trump didn’t want to deport the “Dreamers”, particularly those who have integrated into the society, but the law gives him no leeway, and the Presidential Order Obama signed giving them amnesty is unconstitutional. He solved that dilemma by giving it back to Congress who created it. We’ll now see what happens.

I can solve part of the problem. Any volunteer of any age who serves 7 years overseas in Army or Marines gets a Green Card and an application to apply for Citizenship along with his honorable discharge. The Citizenship application and test need not be very difficult and I would expect all who applied to pass it. The swearing should be public and conducted by an officer of rank Colonel or above.

As to girls, we can think of something similar or suitable; they need not join the combat arms. Surgical Assistant comes instantly to mind.

Their parents are a more difficult problem, and it will take ingenuity to find a path that does not offend the legal immigrants who obeyed the law.

More sensible than what we’ll probably get.

BUT THEY PROMISED TO TURN ALL OF THEM OVER: Did Israel Just Bomb a Syrian Chemical Weapons Plant?

Flashback: Susan Rice Praises Obama for Ridding Syria of Chemical Weapons Without Use of Force.

UNEXPECTEDLY: The Inconvenient Truth About Obamacare’s Premium Spiral.

The biggest reason for Obamacare’s rate hikes? Two of its most popular provisions, guaranteed issue and community rating. These are the technical terms for Obamacare’s ban on insurance companies denying coverage or charging people who are sick more.

The McKinsey report found that in Georgia, these mandates added between 44 and 52 percent to premiums. In Ohio, they were responsible for 41 to 50 percent of the hikes — and in Pennsylvania, as much as 62 percent. In Tennessee, guaranteed issue and community rating accounted for between 73 and 76 percent of premium increases.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise. A study by Milliman, a consultancy, in 2013 predicted that Obamacare’s guaranteed issue and community rating rules would sharply increase premiums.

If you’re going to charge younger, healthier people more like older, sicker people, and force insurers to sell “insurance” to people who are already sick, then premiums are going to go WAY up — which many of us warned back in 2009, 2010.

IT’S COME TO THIS: Holocaust Museum Pulls Study Absolving Obama Administration For Inaction In Face of Syrian Genocide.

KURT SCHLICHTER: Curse Of The Woke Conservatives. “So what does the GOP establishment do in 2018 when it comes before us dirty, nasty normals and tries to make the case that its members deserve being reelected to Congress instead of being tarred and feathered? After seven years of solemn assurances, it couldn’t even get its act together and keep its promise to put a stake through the heart of the abomination that is Obamacare. But hey – when Donald Trump kept his promise to undo DACA, that sure spurred the True Conservatives to action.”

EMILY YOFFE: The Uncomfortable Truth About Campus Rape Policy: At many schools, the rules intended to protect victims of sexual assault mean students have lost their right to due process—and an accusation of wrongdoing can derail a person’s entire college education. “The way in which Bonsu’s case was handled may seem perverse, but many of the university’s actions—the interim restrictions, the full-bore investigation and adjudication even though R.M.’s own statement does not describe a sexual assault—were mandated or strongly encouraged by federal rules that govern the handling of sexual assault allegations on campus today. These rules proliferated during the Obama administration, as did threats of sanctions if schools didn’t follow them precisely. The impulse behind them was noble and necessary—sexual assault is a scourge that should not be tolerated in any society, much less by institutions of higher learning. But taken in sum, these directives have left a mess of a system, and many unintended consequences.”

I’m not sure they were all that unintended.

THERE’S ALWAYS SEATS AT THE CANNIBAL FEAST:  What Happened: Hillary Uses Her Book To Throw Bernie, Obama & Biden Under The Bus [VIDEO].

OBAMA SYRIA CHEMICAL WEAPONS RED LINE UPDATE: The UN says Syria’s Assad regime used chemical weapons at least 27 times.

A panel of United Nations rights investigators announced definitively on Wednesday that Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces were behind April’s sarin gas attack on the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun, which killed more than 80 people.

The findings were part of the latest UN report on the Syrian civil war presented in Geneva by the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria. An earlier report by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) was not authorized to apportion blame or investigate culpability, only to establish whether chemical weapons had been used.

Investigators also revealed that they had documented 33 chemical weapons attacks since the war’s outbreak in 2011. Twenty-seven of those were carried out by Assad’s government forces, including seven between March 1 and July 7 of this year. The perpetrators in six attacks had not yet been identified, investigators said.

Samantha Power and the Responsibility to Protect crowd that damned George W. Bush for failing to respond to genocide in Darfur were unavailable for comment.

THE NYT IS ACTUALLY HOLDING OBAMA RESPONSIBLE FOR SOMETHING: “How the end of DACA is being framed as a legal matter — and how the Obama administration allowed that to happen.”

WELL, GOOD: Holocaust Museum Pulls Study Absolving Obama Administration For Inaction In Face of Syrian Genocide.

Some Jewish communal leaders suggested both privately to Tablet, and in conversations with board members and staff at the Holocaust Museum, that the Museum’s moral authority had been hijacked for a partisan re-writing of recent history, and alleged that the museum had absolved the Obama administration of any moral or political error in its response to mass atrocities in Syria. At least one of the architects of the Obama administration policy in Syria, former deputy national security advisor Ben Rhodes, was appointed to the museum’s Memorial Council during the closing days of the Obama administration. The Council also includes Obama NSC alumni Grant Harris and Daniel Benjamin. Other Obama NSC alumni, including Hudson and Anna Cave, have joined the Museum’s staff.

The Museum apparently undertook its Syria project without the usual degree of input from Washington’s community of Syrian activists who had worked with the Holocaust Museum to bring the Ceasar files and video from the besieged city of Aleppo to light. Given that the Museum had previously worked hard to expose Syrian government atrocities, members of the anti-Assad community found the counterfactuals report to be curiously out of character for the museum, and objected to the report’s seeming vindication of US policy.

Obama people tried — and nearly succeeded — to hijack the Holocaust Museum for partisan purposes.

OUCH: Utah Will Fork Over $10 Million to Cover Obamacare Insurer’s Debt.

IT ALWAYS WAS KABUKI THEATER.  ILLEGAL ALIENS HAVE THE RIGHT TO LIFE LIBERTY AND THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS, NOT OUR TAX DOLLARS:  Obama’s #DACA: Hey, remember when it was temporary? [VIDEO]

HOPEFULLY THE MEDIA DOESN’T HAVE THE POWER TO SELL THIS POISON PILL:  A New Obama? The Media Starts Selling Abdul El-Sayed.

DON’T LET WEAPONIZED COMPASSION FOOL YOU:  Trump Rescinds Obama’s #DACA: Constitutionally It is Right Thing To Do [VIDEO].

OBAMA 2013: “You don’t like a particular policy or a particular president? . . . Go out there and win an election.”

Today: Obama Rips Trump Over DACA Decision.

Has there ever been an ex-President as whiny?

A NEW OBAMA? THE MEDIA STARTS SELLING ABDUL EL-SAYED:

When he takes questions, one “clearly agitated man” asks him about sharia law. El-Sayed replies by saying that he supports separation of church and state and that he wouldn’t take away anyone else’s right to pray and wouldn’t want that right to be taken from him either. (He has made it clear that he prays several times a day.) For this, the audience gives him “an enormous round of applause” – even though El-Sayed’s answer is a total dodge.

Repeatedly, El-Sayed has described himself as a devout Muslim: he prays several times a day; he has said that “his Islamic values are at the center of his work as a civil servant;” his father is an imam. If he’s a devout Muslim, that means he firmly supports sharia law. But how does he square this with his purported approval of secular government? Is he a devout Muslim or a devout believer in the separation of religion and state? You can’t be both.

The subtext of this article implies that Obama was a crypto-Muslim while in office – which of course, based on his worldview, how he dealt with terrorism in America and with Iran, Iraq, and ISIS, is crazy talk. No, really

YEAH, BUT UNDER OBAMA WE WERE CONSTANTLY REMINDED THAT THE CONSTITUTION WAS OVER 100 YEARS OLD: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Obama lawyer who worked on DACA admits it’s probably unconstitutional.

OUTGOING OBAMA’S ADVICE TO INCOMING TRUMP: Do As I Say, Not As I Did.

“American leadership in this world really is indispensable. It’s up to us, through action and example, to sustain the international order that’s expanded steadily since the end of the Cold War, and upon which our own wealth and safety depend.”

No, seriously. He wrote that.

It is possible no other president in American history did more to stoke chaos and disorder in the world and less to “sustain order” than Barack “Red Line” Obama, who kicked off his presidency with the infamous apology tour. He abandoned Iraq, facilitating the rise of ISIS. He wrecked Libya and cowered in Syria — letting Russia step in. He backed down on missile defense for Eastern Europe and stood by as an emboldened Vladimir Putin invaded Crimea. He put Iran on the nuclear fast track, and impotently watched as North Korea honed its nuclear missile technology.

“We are just temporary occupants of this office. That makes us guardians of those democratic institutions and traditions — like rule of law, separation of powers, equal protection and civil liberties — that our forebears fought and bled for. Regardless of the push and pull of daily politics, it’s up to us to leave those instruments of our democracy at least as strong as we found them.”

Obama’s IRS persecuted conservative groups. He used intelligence agencies to investigate the media. There is increasing evidence that his Justice Department — at his guidance — snuffed an investigation into Hillary Clinton. And it now appears his administration actively spied on the Trump campaign, unmasking monitored conversations involving Trump associates.

Read the whole thing.

RICHARD FERNANDEZ: The End of Containment?

Read the whole thing. I’d just add that containment was put on life support when Clinton and Bush both decided it was best to play Kick the Can with Pyongyang. And Obama pulled the plug on it with his Iran deal.

TOO BAD OUR FORMER PREZ DIDN’T BOTHER TO TAKE HIS OWN ADVICE, Tom Shattuck of the Boston Herald writes:

So glad that departing President Barack Obama took the time to pen a “Dear Don” letter for incoming President Trump.

POTUS 44 went full professor in his do as I say, not as I did admonishments.

* * * * * * *

“We are just temporary occupants of this office. That makes us guardians of those democratic institutions and traditions — like rule of law, separation of powers, equal protection and civil liberties — that our forebears fought and bled for. Regardless of the push and pull of daily politics, it’s up to us to leave those instruments of our democracy at least as strong as we found them.”

Obama’s IRS persecuted conservative groups. He used intelligence agencies to investigate the media. There is increasing evidence that his Justice Department — at his guidance — snuffed an investigation into Hillary Clinton. And it now appears his administration actively spied on the Trump campaign, unmasking monitored conversations involving Trump associates.

Yes, “it’s up to us to leave those instruments of our democracy at least as strong as we found them,” says the man who repeatedly told what was arguably the biggest lie regarding domestic policy in American history.

NONSENSE. OBAMA SCRIBE JEFFREY GOLDBERG ASSURES ME THEY’RE JUST LIKE G.I.s AT NORMANDY: Homeland Security Makes it Official: Antifa ‘Domestic Terrorists.’

Perhaps that explains why the left  has gone from comparing Antifa to American soldiers at Normandy Beach just a few weeks ago, to increasingly distancing themselves in recent days.

That and the likely bad polling, as Glenn noted.

UPDATE: Two Weeks Since First Promoting Antifa, NBC’s Chuck Todd Still Silent.

NORTH KOREA PREPARES FOR ANOTHER LONG RANGE MISSILE TEST: That’s the breaking news.

What would a massive allied military response look like? As this recent essay noted, since President Trump said all options are on the table, then “decapitation” operations (Option 5) are on the table.

An essay published in early July included a sketch of “the war to denuclearize.”

6.) Delayed reprisal and the war to denuclearize. Is a pre-emptive strike reckless? This asks another question: Just how responsible is a post-emptive strike?

The Korean War isn’t over.

Donald Trump is already a Korean War president—but so was Barack Obama and every other American president since Harry Truman.

Over the years, North Korea has committed atrocities throughout Asia. The regime has murdered and kidnapped South Koreans, Japanese and U.S. personnel. North Korea’s embedded belligerency defies the laws of war. The War to Denuclearize would be less of a pre-emptive strike than a delayed reprisal.

The U.S. and South Korea have exercised what they call a 4D strategy to “detect, defend, disrupt and destroy” North Korea’s missiles.

Weapons systems involved include various U.S. aircraft and a South Korean submarine with cruise missiles.

This is a bare sketch of some of the systems that would be employed in a “simultaneous strategic bombing strike” to knock out North Korean missiles, missile launchers, storage sites, nuclear and chemical weapons sites, command and control centers, communications systems and air-space defenses.

The U.S. and its allies in east Asia have the aircraft and missiles (cruise and ballistic) to deliver at least 2,000 (likely more) precision blockbuster-sized conventional weapons within a two to 10 minute time frame on North Korea’s critical targets. The April U.S. Tomahawk cruise missile attack on a Syrian Shayrat airbase provides an example.

The missiles were fired at a distance, but since they can “loiter,” the 59 missiles arrived near simultaneously. U.S. Air Force heavy bombers can drop smart bombs so that munitions dropped from different aircraft arrive near simultaneously.

A simultaneous strategic bombing strike seeks to surprise the enemy, destroy his strategic weapons systems and suppress his key defenses throughout the battle area.

That is asking a lot—perhaps too much.

Success depends on many things, but the first D—detect—is vital. Conducting a successful simultaneous strategic bombing strike requires very accurate, real-time intelligence. Allied ABMs must be ready to intercept any North Korean missiles that survive the attack.

That’s a sketch of the first 10 minutes. Over the next month subsequent strikes would occur, to make certain North Korea’s long-range missiles, chemical munitions, nuclear weapons stockpiles, missile manufacturing capabilities and nuclear weapons manufacturing capabilities are eliminated.

The U.S. and it allies must protect Seoul. North Korean artillery can bombard the northern reaches of South Korea’s capital. Military analysts debate the severity of the threat posed to Seoul by North Korean artillery deployed along the Demilitarized Zone. Some call it overrated. Perhaps, but best to suppress and destroy the artillery. North Korea’s tube and rocket artillery systems—even the ones in caves and bunkers—are vulnerable to weapons like the Massive Ordnance Air Blast (MOAB) bomb.

Smart bombs can close tunnel entrances.

This is a major war, and the risks are great. But so is exposing Los Angeles to the violent whims of a nuclear-armed Kim Jong Un.

Stay tuned.

THE NARRATIVE SHIFTS, AS SCOTT ADAMS PREDICTED: Trump doesn’t cry or sing, but he knows how to help Harvey victims.

Harvey dumped around 25 trillion gallons of water on Texas and Louisiana, flooding countless homes and wrecking cities.

But the Federal Emergency Management Agency was on site two days before the storm hit. The National Guard and Coast Guard quickly mobilized and have saved thousands of lives.

On Tuesday, Trump went to Corpus Christi, Texas, to survey some of the damage and cheered on the relief effort. He told the local people that “Texas can handle anything” and he held up a state flag to roars of proud approval.

Still, religion writer Anthea Butler said in a New York Times op-ed that Trump’s actions were “devoid of empathy” because he didn’t mention any of the roughly 40 people that died in the storm.

That Trump says, “Wow!” and, “Spirit of the people is incredible. Thanks!” on Twitter makes for long and restless nights for the media. Meanwhile, everyone else is relieved Harvey was managed as best as possible.

Journalists need Trump to sing “Amazing Grace” or wipe away a tear at the White House press podium in order to feel like he’s really doing the job right.

In January 2016, then-President Obama cried while talking about the executive actions he was taking on gun control.

Chris Cillizza, a Washington Post blogger at the time, wrote, “I do have a strongly held belief in favor of men — including male politicians — crying in public if necessary.” He added, “I say this as, yes, a male who occasionally cries in public.”

After the 2015 mass shooting at church in Charleston, S.C., Obama delivered a sermon and broke into song.

The Atlantic magazine was so moved by the moment, it published an entire analysis by Peter Manseau on Obama’s rhetorical pause, calling it a “high-wire act.”

Trump doesn’t cry and he doesn’t sing, but he did pledge $1 million of his own money to the relief effort and the administration saved lives during a record-breaking hurricane.

That’s not enough for the media. But perhaps it meant something to Houston.

Perhaps.

DISPATCHES FROM THE INTERSECTION OF 21st CENTURY RELATIONSHIPS AND THE 21st CENTURY IS REALLY NOT WORKING OUT THE WAY I HAD HOPED CATEGORIES: “Obama Service Award Recipient Now Researching ‘Butt-Fisting’” and bestiality, the Washington Free Beacon reports, along with some presidential-level trolling in their choice of photos to accompany the article…

 

IN CASE YOU MISSED THEM: My latest NY Observer essay: After North Korea’s latest missile test, Trump puts “all options on the table.”

VERY MUCH RELATED: South Korea seeks extended range missiles.

MEANWHILE, BACK IN AFGHANISTAN: The place is a mess. But what the Trump team proposes to do makes a lot more sense than the feckless policies of the feckless Obama. (Another recent Observer essay.)

VERY MUCH RELATED: What Glenn said about Bill Roggio’s Anatomy of a Taliban Ambush: “This is no way to win a war.” Understand that Bill is analyzing a Taliban propaganda film’s portrayal of an ambush. That said, it does illustrate how the enemy could exploit Obama-era Rules of Engagement (ROE) restrictions.

THE MEDIA ARE UNHAPPY WITH THIS BECAUSE IT’S TAKING MONEY OUT OF THEIR POCKETS: Trump administration plans on making 90 percent cut to Obamacare ad budget.

THANKS, OBAMA: Nebulous Language Enables Tehran’s Missile Ambitions.

What the Iran nuclear agreement essentially does is impose a time-bound pause of Iran’s nuclear weapons capabilities along with some monitoring provisions to try to prevent cheating. But the worry is that the Iranians may not even need to cheat and instead can just wait the thing out. Meanwhile, they continue to make progress on the missiles.

Remember, Iran was already thought to be pretty much where it presumably wanted to be in terms of nuclear weapons technology. Former U.S. President Barack Obama said that one of the accomplishments of the agreement was to move Iran from just a few months away from being able to produce a nuclear weapon to a year or more. But that means that even now, they are within a year or so of the “breakout” capability to do that.

But Iran has a longer road ahead on the missile front, where they too are working feverishly just like the North Koreans. Put simply, the nuclear agreement has at best paused one aspect of becoming a nuclear weapons power, the weapons themselves, where Iran had already gotten close to the finish line, while allowing the Iranians to continue making progress on developing, producing, and deploying ever longer-range and more accurate missiles. Worse still, because of sanctions relief, including the release of vast frozen assets that had been held by the United States for decades, the nuclear deal has infused Iran with new resources that it can plow into its missile programs. All of this at the same time the nuclear deal gives Tehran a greater sense of international legitimacy for abiding by the agreement.

The agreement Obama signed is so bad in nearly every possible way, that it’s impossible to believe it isn’t exactly what he wanted.

THAT MEANS IT’S WORKING: Administration Official Is Unsure If Individuals Will Sign Up For Obamacare.

THE NEW REPUBLIC: How Trump Is Creating a Propaganda State.

Flashback: The Aspiring Novelist Who Became Obama’s Foreign-Policy Guru.

The job he was hired to do, namely to help the president of the United States communicate with the public, was changing in equally significant ways, thanks to the impact of digital technologies that people in Washington were just beginning to wrap their minds around. It is hard for many to absorb the true magnitude of the change in the news business — 40 percent of newspaper-industry professionals have lost their jobs over the past decade — in part because readers can absorb all the news they want from social-media platforms like Facebook, which are valued in the tens and hundreds of billions of dollars and pay nothing for the “content” they provide to their readers. You have to have skin in the game — to be in the news business, or depend in a life-or-death way on its products — to understand the radical and qualitative ways in which words that appear in familiar typefaces have changed. 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.”

Sarah Jones, author of The New Republic piece quoted at the top, appears to be right around 27 years old.

PENTAGON SENDS MORE TROOPS TO AFGHANISTAN: We’re paying for Obama’s feckless Afghanistan policy.

CHARLIE HEBDO MOCKS HURRICANE HARVEY VICTIMS AS NAZIS IN DESPICABLE COVER PHOTO.

Hillary Clinton’s supporters just can’t catch a break — during the 2008 Democratic primaries, Obama dismissed them as clinging to their guns and religion. This week, after a horrific natural disaster, the heartless Gallic geniuses at Charlie Hebdo smear Hillary’s supporters in Texas for having a overly toxic blend of nationalism mixed with socialism. Great timing and geopolitical knowledge, fellas.

Related: Charlie Hebdo offends Texans, but guess what — nobody will get shot over it.

 

 

DEEP STATE: Obama ‘Still Running the FBI,’ Says Lawyer After Agency Blocks Access to Clinton Records.

DEMOCRATS ARE GOING TO HAVE A GOOGLE PROBLEM:

All businesses lobby on behalf of their interests, and in recent years that lobbying has increasingly expanded to include more focus on things like think tanks and other aspects of the “deep” influence game.

Google has been especially an especially aggressive player at deep influence. The Wall Street journal reported in July, for example, that they’ve spent millions of dollars subsidizing academic research that backs Google policy positions, often mapping out the thesis to be proven and then shopping to find the scholar to do the work. Google’s money, not always disclosed, has backed donations to think tanks across the ideological spectrum as well as more prosaic forms of influence peddling like campaign contributions.

What makes Google somewhat unusual for such a big company is that it’s fairly closely aligned with the Democratic Party. Dozens of people moved from jobs at Google to jobs in the Obama administration, and vice versa, over its eight-year span. Schmidt was a major Hillary Clinton donor. More tellingly, Schmidt owns a company called Civis Analytics that does an enormous amount of behind-the-scenes data work for Democratic Party campaigns. This alignment grows out of both cultural affinity between Democrats and Google on social issues, and also years of regulatory struggle that often saw Google, Democrats, and consumer groups on one side pitted against telecommunications industry incumbents.

And for Democratic Party politicians and staffers, the idea of a big, rich, dynamic technology company that favored progressive views on social issues and wanted to put money behind pro-consumer regulatory efforts seemed almost too good to be true.

The specter raised by the European Union’s antitrust fine is that it is, in fact, too good to be true. And that Google, like any other giant company, is going to sometimes find itself in the regulatory crosshairs, throwing its weight around to try to get away with things that maybe shouldn’t be allowed. “Don’t be evil” was a nice idea while it lasted, but business is business and politics is politics — no exceptions.

There’s a huge opportunity for Trump to take a Teddy Roosevelt-like trust-busting stand. Especially since, as Joel Kotkin says:

The Silicon Valley and its Puget Sound annex dominated by Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, and Microsoft increasingly resemble the pre-gas crisis Detroit of the Big Three. Tech’s Big Five all enjoy overwhelming market shares—for example Google controls upwards of 80 percent of global search—and the capital to either acquire or crush any newcomers. They are bringing us a hardly gilded age of prosperity but depressed competition, economic stagnation, and, increasingly, a chilling desire to control the national conversation.

Creepy economic predators. When you think about it that way, it’s not surprising they’re allied with the Democratic Party.

SWAMP DRAINING NEWS: Secretary of State Tillerson is trimming State Department staff, particularly suspect positions Obama created.

Of the 38 positions created under the former administration, 23 will be either removed or reassigned, a senior Trump administration official told Fox News on Tuesday. The staffers whose positions will be eliminated are those who worked on projects such as closing Guantanamo Bay, implementing the Iran Deal and the transparency coordinator position created in response to Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server.

Read the whole thing.

OBAMA MUST BE SHOCKED SHOCKED SHOCKED: OK, he isn’t shocked. He’s busy playing golf.

Iran won’t let U.S. inspectors check out its nuclear weapons sites.

Iranian officials have rejected U.S. demands for United Nations inspectors to visit Tehran’s military sites, which is part of the landmark 2015 nuclear deal.

“The Americans should take the dream of being able to inspect our military sites, be it under the pretext of the [agreement] or based on any other justification, to the grave,” Akbar Velayati, a senior adviser to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khameneii, told reporters.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran, which is the pivot of resistance in the region, will not allow the Americans and non-Americans to inspect [its] military sites, which are a crucial and strategic part of national security,” he added.

I saw this one coming: The Real Deal With The Iranian Deal (from 2015).

CULTURE OF CORRUPTION: EXCLUSIVE: Emails Show Obama-Era FCC Gave Special Treatment To Liberal Groups.

SWAMP DEFENSE SYSTEM KICKS INTO HIGH GEAR: FBI claims public isn’t interested in Hillary’s emails.

Total BS. Many of us are very interested in her crimes.

The FBI says it will only release records from its files if a subject consents, is dead, or is of such public interest that it overrides privacy concerns.

Mr. Clevenger said he thought it would have been clear why Mrs. Clinton’s case was of public interest, but he sent documentation anyway, pointing to a request by members of Congress for an investigation into whether Mrs. Clinton perjured herself in testimony to Capitol Hill.

“I’m just stunned. This is exactly what I would have expected had Mrs. Clinton won the election, but she didn’t. It looks like the Obama Administration is still running the FBI,” Mr. Clevenger told The Washington Times.

“How can a story receive national news coverage and not be a matter of public interest? If this is the new standard, then there’s no such thing as a public interest exception,” he said.

The FBI didn’t return a message seeking comment Tuesday on how it balances public interest versus privacy in open-records requests.

Great line: Obama Administration still running the FBI. This must change — now.

Lock her up.

CLAUDIA ROSETT: North Korea, Unrestrained.

To be fair to Tillerson, he joins a long roster of American diplomats who over the years have tried to cope with the intractable problem of North Korea by seeing (or at least professing to see) what they want to see. Going back at least to the early days of the Clinton administration, Washington has developed rituals in which American officials proclaim that North Korea’s regime has a choice: to continue its rogue pursuit of nuclear weapons and suffer various penalties, or give them up and enjoy the many perquisites of life as a conventionally armed murderous totalitarian state.

It seems reasonable by now to say that North Korea’s regime made its choice decades ago, and has stuck with it — cheating its way out of a series of nuclear deals reached under Presidents Clinton and Bush, and availing itself of President Obama’s passive”strategic patience” to complete a transition of power from the late tyrant Kim Jong Il to his son, the current tyrant, Kim Jong Un, and accelerate its nuclear missile program.

Nor, despite the occasional week or so of apparent restraint, is there any sign that North Korea’s Kim regime intends to restrain itelf.

We’re out of easy outs.

ARMY GREEN ON POLICE BLUE: White House reverses Obama ban on police getting military equipment.

Former President Obama put a halt to the so-called 1033 program in 2015 after images of heavily armed police responding to protests in Ferguson, Mo., shocked the nation.

Obama’s initiatives blocked the transfer of armored vehicles, grenade launchers, armed aircraft, bayonets and guns and ammunition of .50 caliber or higher.

Semi-militarizing the police was never a good idea. Their job is to “protect and serve,” not to occupy. That’s a job for the National Guard, on the rare occasion that the need arises.

FRITZ LODGE: Israel and Hezbollah Eye Their Next War.

On August 15, Israel’s Channel 2 news revealed satellite photos of an Iranian missile production facility near the town of Baniyas in northwestern Syria, capable of producing long-range rockets. Iran’s formidable military presence in Syria is nothing new, but the revelation of this production facility underlines how deeply the war in Syria has changed the balance of military power in the eastern Mediterranean.

Faced with the possible collapse of Syrian President Bashar al Assad’s regime, Iran and its regional proxies have poured millions of dollars and thousands of soldiers into its Syrian ally. Now, with Russian help, that investment has paid off, and the regime has reestablished control over much of central Syria, and is stabilizing the front along “de-confliction zones” guaranteed by Russia, Turkey, and Iran.

This is a problem for Israel. As the battle lines in Syria begin to stabilize, Iran and its allies will be able to focus more energy and attention on the Jewish state. Nowhere is this threat clearer than in Lebanon, where the Iran-allied and financed group of Hezbollah boasts thousands of soldiers, deep political influence in the Lebanese government, and an arsenal of up to 150,000 rockets.

Israel perhaps will pay the largest price for Obama’s dithering over Syria and his execrable deal with Iran.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: My latest Observer essay — the Trump Administration takes on the Afghanistan mess Obama left.

JOHN BOLTON: How to Get Out of the Iran Nuclear Deal.

Although candidate Donald Trump repeatedly criticized Barack Obama’s Iran nuclear agreement, his administration has twice decided to remain in the deal. It so certified to Congress, most recently in July, as required by law. Before the second certification, Trump asked repeatedly for alternatives to acquiescing yet again in a policy he clearly abhorred. But no such options were forthcoming, despite “a sharp series of exchanges” between the president and his advisers, as the New York Times and similar press reports characterized it.

Many outside the administration wondered how this was possible: Was Trump in control, or were his advisers? Defining a compelling rationale to exit Obama’s failed nuclear deal and elaborating a game plan to do so are quite easy. In fact, Steve Bannon asked me in late July to draw up just such a game plan for the president — the option he didn’t have — which I did.

Here it is. It is only five pages long, but like instant coffee, it can be readily expanded to a comprehensive, hundred-page playbook if the administration were to decide to leave the Iran agreement. There is no need to wait for the next certification deadline in October. Trump can and should free America from this execrable deal at the earliest opportunity.

I offer the Iran nonpaper now as a public service, since staff changes at the White House have made presenting it to President Trump impossible.

Sad. But read the whole thing, which is too long to properly excerpt here.

THAT MEANS IT’S WORKING: Obamacare Causes New York’s Largest Hospital Network to Leave Insurance Market.