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PRESIDENT ASH CARTER SAYS U.S. AND ALLIES NEED TO REMAIN IN IRAQ AFTER ISIS DEFEAT: Semi-retired president Barack Obama was unavailable for comment. (Carter’s video interview with Bret Baier is worth the look.)

TOM RICKS ON THE MATTIS PICK: The General Who Should Lead the Pentagon.

General Mattis is not another George Patton, a comparison Mr. Trump is fond of making. General Mattis, who retired in 2013, after leading United States Central Command for three years, is far more disciplined than Patton was, and a far more strategic thinker.

Usually, I’d oppose having a general as secretary of defense, because it could undermine our tradition of civilian control of the military.

But these are not normal times. The incoming president appears to be a profoundly ignorant man who often seems to act on gut impulse or on what pleases the crowd. That is a dangerous combination to have in the White House. Having known General Mattis for many years, I am confident that he will be a restraint on Mr. Trump’s impulsiveness. . . .

The public notion of generals is that they know how to use only the military as a means of policy and so are more likely to get the nation into wars. That is a false conception in most cases, but especially in this one. General Mattis knows that war is the last resort, not the first one. He also understands that the threat of force works best when it works in conjunction with robust diplomatic efforts.

Some in Congress have said that they oppose waiving the law that bans recently retired generals from being secretary of defense. (Such a waiver was required to give Marshall the job.) But Congress did not bar generals from the office, it only required that they be out of uniform for seven years. The idea was to make people consider that it is unusual, and a departure from American tradition, to have military men or women in the position. In this case, waiving the law is the best course.

Here’s a thought: Maybe Trump isn’t as impulsive or ignorant as you think. Maybe that’s why he picked Mattis.

UPDATE: From the comments: “First rate leaders surround themselves with first rate staff. Second rate leaders surround themselves with third rate staff. Looking at their cabinet nominees, it’s easy to tell what kind of leader Obama is versus Trump.”

By the way, for those readers who don’t know who Tom Ricks is, his book about the Marines, Making the Corps, is really first-rate. But it’s 20 years old, and there’s been a lot of Derangement Syndrome under the bridge since then. . . .

ANOTHER UPDATE: Wow, Louise is really into this appointment:


MORE: Reportedly, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) may oppose Mattis over transgender rights in the military. I hope she does. . . .

BERGDAHL SEEKS PARDON TO AVOID TRIAL FOR DESERTION: No. Obama’d better not grant one. The court martial is scheduled for April. Bowe Bergdahl is also charged with misbehavior before the enemy.


UPDATE: From the comments:

Back in 2009 when Nancy Pelosi and the proggies were ramming ObamaCare down our throats someone opined that they were acting like they’d never lose another election. Since then they’ve spent eight years weaponizing the federal government. Now they’ve handed all that power over to The Donald and the Republicans and they’re terrified that we’ll do to them what they wanted Hillary to do to us. They’re looking under their beds and in their closets, terrified they might find the monsters of their own creation. The monsters they thought they’d control.

But monsters, once created, are notoriously difficult to control. You’d think all those English Lit majors would have remembered that, and we should remember it too…

And this never gets old:


YES: Comey’s FBI Needs to Investigate Violent Democratic Tantrums: Robert Creamer-type operations—like coordinated nation-wide protests—require money.

It’s time for the FBI to conduct a detailed investigation into the violence and political thuggery that continue to mar the presidential election’s aftermath. A thorough probe of the protests—to include possible ties to organizations demanding vote recounts—will give the Bureau’s integrity-challenged director, James Comey, a chance to sandblast his sullied badge.

Director Comey must also include “elector intimidation” on his post-election investigation list. Reports that members of the Electoral College are being harassed and threatened by angry, vicious (and likely Democratic Party) malcontents require Comey’s quick and systematic attention.

Michael Banerian, one of Michigan’s 16 electors, told CNN: “Obviously, this election cycle was pretty divisive. Unfortunately it’s bled over into the weeks following the election and I have been inundated with death threats, death wishes, generally angry messages trying to get me to change my vote to Hillary Clinton or another person, and unfortunately, it’s gotten a little out of control.”

A little out of control? What an understatement. Let me put it to you straight and personal, Jim. Identifying electors and then attempting to intimidate them into switching their votes is an ipso facto effort to overturn a national election. Which leads to a question a competent FBI Director would already have his agents asking: Is this elector threat scheme a coordinated operation?

Why, electors live in different states. A mind with a talent for the obvious would see a federal interest. Federal as in Federal Bureau of Investigation. That’s the outfit you head, Mr. Comey—at least until the Obama Administration expires.

Which takes us back to the violent protests and political thuggery. Let me introduce you to two vicious Democratic Party operatives FBI agents should have quizzed and collared two months ago: Robert Creamer and The Hideous Scott Foval. These two creeps starred in Project Veritas’ video investigation of violent incitement during the political campaign.

Read the whole thing.

BOB MCMANUS: Bring On The Mad Dog: President-elect Trump makes a sterling pick to head the Pentagon.

The nation has been at war for 15 years now, the last eight half-heartedly and with no appetite even for identifying the enemy, let alone engaging him aggressively. History will judge whether that’s the correct way for a great power to prosecute necessary conflicts in a complex and dangerous world, but for the short term, it’s clear that the Obama administration has produced a sanguinary shambles.

The Mideast boils. Russia, pushed out of the region by Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger more than 40 years ago, has returned and is ascendant. Afghanistan is in stalemate. Pakistan teeters. Half a world away, America is in retreat and, recognizing this, the president of the Philippines travels to China to cast his nation’s lot with Beijing, while Japan and South Korea silently wonder about American leadership.

So, too, does the nation’s hard-pressed military. It has performed brilliantly since the Twin Towers came down 15 years ago. But it has been depleted, if not exhausted, by budgetary sequestration, personnel reductions, and matériel shortfalls—and sorely vexed by wrongheaded, top-down social-justice activism.

Enter Mattis, a Marine Corps legend who was a little too tough on Iran for the outgoing administration’s tastes—hence his premature retirement—but who is now the president-elect’s pick to set things right at the Pentagon.

Trump’s best pick yet.

PUNCHING BACK TWICE AS HARD: Shot: Emory Reviews ‘Sanctuary Campus’ Petition; Assesses Options. “In Georgia, local officials are required by law to prove their compliance with federal detention requests — no city in the state can be designated a sanctuary city, including Atlanta.”

Chaser: Emory could lose state funding if it declares a ‘sanctuary campus’ to shield immigrants.

A powerful Republican lawmaker aims to cut off state funding to Emory University and any other higher education institution that declares it will defy President-elect Donald Trump if he tries to deport immigrants who are illegally in the U.S.

State Rep. Earl Ehrhart plans to introduce legislation to block colleges from receiving state funds if they aren’t complying with state and federal law in response to the report last week that Emory was weighing whether to declare the school a “sanctuary campus.”

“Private institutions can do what they want, but there are consequences to actions. And it can’t be an option to choose not to follow state and federal laws,” said Ehrhart of Powder Springs, who is chairman of the House’s higher education financing subcommittee.

“There’s a raft of state taxpayer dollars for private institutions,” he said, “and I’m very sanguine about being able to pass a piece of legislation that says if you’re picking and choosing which laws you’re going to follow, state dollars aren’t going to follow.”

Emory University President Claire Sterk wrote in a letter to students last week that administrators are reviewing their request “for a sanctuary campus and ways to protect all members of the Emory community” and said the school would continue to support students, known as “Dreamers,” who were granted a temporary reprieve from the threat of deportation by an executive order from President Barack Obama.

I suppose there’s nothing stopping states from lifting state tax-exempt status from institutions that defy the law.

Look for state legislators to start providing more adult supervision for higher education institutions, both public and private. Those institutions used to be shielded by prestige, but there’s a lot less of that now.

MICHAEL TOTTEN: Almost Everyone Got The Arab Spring Wrong. “How did so many journalists, diplomats, academics, and analysts get Egypt so wrong? It was partly the result of hope and naiveté. But the Muslim Brotherhood also waged a brilliantly effective campaign of deception at home and abroad, hoping to convince as many people as possible that it was a politically moderate organization with a broad and diverse base of support. It wanted to earn the trust of Egyptians who weren’t yearning for an Islamist theocracy, and it feared a hostile reaction from the West, so it mounted a full-court press in the Egyptian, European, and American media. The Washington Post even published an op-ed from one of its leaders, Abdel Moneim Abouel, who wrote that the Brotherhood ’embraced diversity and democratic values.'”

Plus: “Washington gave the Brotherhood one pass after another, and a bewildered Morsi eventually felt that he was free to do and say whatever he wanted without being challenged. The Obama administration, for its part, seemed blissfully unaware that its well-meaning diplomatic outreach looked to Egyptians like an alliance with the Islamists against secularists.”

I think that’s what they call “smart diplomacy” in this Administration. Related: Former Nobel committee secretary regrets awarding the peace prize to Obama.

STATEHOOD: The Kurds Are Nearly There.

The situation in Syria, at least on the surface, offers more grounds for hope. The outbreak of the civil war in 2011 led to the weakening of government control over the Kurdish regions in the country’s northeast corner, and the Kurds there were quick to seize their chance. Over the past five years the Syrian Kurds have steadily built up formidable institutions of self-rule. In contrast to Iraq’s Kurdish region, however, the regions currently controlled by their Syrian counterparts contain large populations of Arabs and other minority groups, and their presence might well complicate an aggressive push for independence.

Even so, it is hard to overestimate the degree of international goodwill that the Syrian Kurdish forces have managed to acquire thanks to their muscular prosecution of the war against the Islamic State. Since the Assad government doesn’t seem especially keen on confronting the caliphate, the Kurdish-dominated forces have been supplying most of the fighters on the Syrian front of the war against ISIS. It is precisely for this reason that the Obama administration has recently begun directly supplying the Syrian Kurds with weapons. This would amount to an extraordinary departure from past practice, since providing arms would implicitly bolster the Kurds’ control over their part of Syria, and potentially bring them closer to independence—a prospect of which Washington policymakers have long been leery, since it would entail a fundamental redrawing of the borders of the Middle East.

Such caution is understandable. Yet US policy toward the Kurds will face a crucial test in the next few years—and it will almost certainly come from the Kurds of Iraq, who believe that their twenty-five-year experiment in self-government is approaching its logical culmination. The leaders of the Kurdistan Regional Government, based in Erbil, have explicitly declared that they have independence in their sights. Masoud Barzani, president of the Kurdish Region of Iraq, has announced plans to conduct a referendum on statehood once the threat from ISIS has abated. Washington, meanwhile, doggedly maintains that nothing can be allowed to compromise Iraq’s territorial integrity, periodically warning its Kurdish allies not to test its resolve. In view of the long history of thwarted Kurdish aspirations, one has to wonder: When the day finally comes, will the Kurds really be willing to wait for permission?

Our Founders didn’t ask for independence; they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor — and declared our independence.

You get the feeling the Kurds are at least as gutsy.

KIMBERLY STRASSEL: Democrats Send Their Regrets.

Cue Sinatra and “My Way.” That’s how former Senate leader Harry Reid, House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi and President Obama ruled for eight years. They planned each charted course, each careful step. Now, they’re not finding it so amusing.

Mr. Coons is regretting giving up his tool to stop Donald Trump’s march of reformers. It’s a cabinet parade of charter-school-lovers, and law-and-order prosecutors and tax-cutters and ObamaCare-slayers, of the sort to give a good Delaware liberal night sweats. There was a day when not one of these nominees could have hoped to squeeze past a Senate filibuster. But Mr. Reid did it his way, and Mr. Trump keeps tweeting.

Former veep candidate Tim Kaine in October threatened that Republicans would be really, really sorry if they tried use what filibuster tools were left against a Hillary Clinton Supreme Court nominee. If Republicans “stonewall,” then a “Democratic Senate majority will say we’re not going to let you thwart the law,” he declared in October. Incoming Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer is now regretting that belligerence, and insisting that the Supreme Court filibuster is inviolate, and that his party never did kill it, you know, and that should count for something, and . . . blah, blah, regrets.

It would be hard to stall the confirmation process, at least after Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s regretful September news conference, the one where she stood tall and hit Republicans for refusing to confirm Mr. Obama’s end-of-the-road nominee, Merrick Garland. “This is not just some TV show [like] ‘Eight is Enough.’ Eight is not enough on the United States Supreme Court,” she railed. She’s joined in regret by the activists behind those trendy Twitter campaigns: #weneednine. #doyourjob. Bring on Mr. Trump’s own Tweetbomb: #likeyousaid.

They have a lot to regret. They’ll have much more.

(You might find a way past WSJ’s paywall here.)

ABOUT THAT JOBS REPORT… Labor force participation ticks down.

It remains stuck at levels not seen since 1978, when Jimmy Carter was President.

Of course, even during Carter’s Administration the trend for labor participation was upward.

If only someone had warned us that Obama would prove to be worse than Carter.

JAYVEE: IS group to step up attacks on Europe.

The European police force says more foreign fighters will try to come back to Europe, and “several dozen” capable of attacks could already be there.

Their tactics could include car bombs, kidnappings and extortion, it said.

But the report plays down the likelihood of attacks on critical infrastructure, such as nuclear sites.

It says that IS militants now prefer soft targets, and there is now a greater emphasis on “lone actors” such as the perpetrator of the lorry attack in Nice in July.

It warns that some Syrian refugees in Europe may be vulnerable to recruitment by extremists who infiltrate refugee camps.

While Barack Obama stayed focused on his “necessary war” in Afghanistan, the action had moved to the desert where Iraq and Syria meet.

THE REST OF OBAMA’S LIFE WILL BE SPENT TRYING TO SHIFT BLAME FOR HIS FAILED PRESIDENCY: Obama Tries to Pin His Syria Policy on Trump: But the current humanitarian and geopolitical disaster under Assad is the result of specific decisions in the last six years.

But despite the unending string of foreign policy debacles, my memories of the Obama era will always be summed up by this iconic photo from the very earliest days of Hope & Change:

JOURNALISM: Magazine behind UVA rape hoax begs Obama to do something about fake news.

The man responsible for publishing one of the greatest media hoaxes in recent memory thinks it might be a good idea if the government provided the press with subsidies to help it fight fake news.

Jann S. Wenner is the co-founder and publisher of Rolling Stone magazine, which published a story on Nov. 19, 2014, alleging that “Jackie,” a student at the University of Virginia, had been gang-raped as part of a fraternity initiation.

The report was proven to be totally false, however, and “Jackie” a wild fabulist, but not before UVA suspended the fraternity and the university itself suffered a major blow to its reputation.

Wenner defended the since-retracted story and its author, Sabrina Rubin Erdely, right up to the bitter end.

In an interview published this week, Wenner wondered aloud in a conversation with President Obama whether the federal government should provide media with subsidies to help them combat the rising tide of fake news stories on social media.

The Rolling Stone publisher asked, “So how do you think we go about stitching the country back together?”

Well, for starters you could quit lying, Jann.

CUE THE WORLD’S SMALLEST VIOLIN: Clinton donors feel like they torched their cash.

The frustrations from the Election Day defeat are causing a lot of problems for the Democratic National Committee, which is already working to rebuild its dilapidated image and gear up for the 2018 midterm elections. In addition, many progressive activists are worried about money as they prepare to go to war with Trump, who has vowed to undo much of President Barack Obama’s legacy.

“They’re tired,” one DNC official told The Hill regarding top Democratic donors. “They’re upset about the election, and there was significant trauma surrounding the Russians. They’re upset and they’re tired.”

On top of the defeat, donors are angry over the WikiLeaks revelations (which included leaks of their information) and the fact that the DNC will be without any sort of leadership until more than a month into the Trump administration.

The GOP was pulled out of its post-2008 doldrums by the spontaneous formation of the Tea Party just weeks after Barack Obama’s inauguration. Democrats seem unlikely (for now, anyway) to enjoy a similar grassroots boon.

ED MORRISSEY: Obamacare RIP: Republicans Finally Have a Plan.


With the announcement of Trump’s triumphant (Trumphant?) Carrier deal, the word that occurs to me—not for the first time—is “showman.”

That’s not necessarily a good thing or a bad thing, by the way. But it’s not something we’ve seen a lot of in recent years.

It’s not that previous presidents haven’t tried. Reagan was good at the speeches, as well as some sweeping gestures (“tear down this wall,” and the firing of the air controllers). Nixon, Jimmy Carter, and George Bush were abysmal; Clinton only so-so (playing the sax on TV comes to mind).

Obama tried and sometimes succeeded, particularly during his first campaign. Remember the Greek columns? . . .

But this is the water in which Trump swims. This is his most comfortable place to be: the showman, in the spotlight. He’s been doing it for his entire life.

That’s one of the reasons Trump preferred enormous rallies, and was relaxed when giving lengthy speeches without a teleprompter and ad-libbing extensively. He likes the spectacle of it all and realizes the important of the gesture and the symbol. And despite his more “presidential” demeanor since his election, I doubt this aspect of his personality will fade during his presidency; au contraire. And he understands the elements of surprise, of timing.

It does look that way.

JOHN FUND: Do Illegal Votes Decide Elections? There’s no way to know. But the evidence suggests that significant numbers of noncitizens cast ballots.

Donald Trump’s claim that illegal voting may have cost him a popular-vote majority has touched off outrage. Widespread voter fraud, the media consensus suggests, isn’t possible. But there is a real chance that significant numbers of noncitizens and others are indeed voting illegally, perhaps enough to make up the margin in some elections.

There’s no way of knowing for sure. The voter-registration process in almost all states runs on the honor system. The Obama administration has done everything it can to keep the status quo in place. The Obama Justice Department has refused to file a single lawsuit to enforce the requirement of the National Voter Registration Act that states maintain the accuracy of their voter-registration lists. This despite a 2012 study from the Pew Center on the States estimating that one out of every eight voter registrations is inaccurate, out-of-date or duplicate. About 2.8 million people are registered in more than one state, according to the study, and 1.8 million registered voters are dead. In most places it’s easy to vote under the names of such people with little risk of detection.

An undercover video released in October by the citizen-journalist group Project Veritas shows a Democratic election commissioner in New York City saying at a party, “I think there is a lot of voter fraud.” A second video shows two Democratic operatives mulling how it would be possible to get away with voter fraud. . . .

How common is this? If only we knew. Political correctness has squelched probes of noncitizen voting, so most cases are discovered accidentally instead of through a systematic review of election records.

The danger looms large in states such as California, which provides driver’s licenses to noncitizens, including those here illegally, and which also does nothing to verify citizenship during voter registration. In a 1996 House race, then-challenger Loretta Sanchez defeated incumbent Rep. Bob Dornan by under 1,000 votes. An investigation by a House committee found 624 invalid votes by noncitizens, nearly enough to overturn the result.

How big is this problem nationally? One district-court administrator estimated in 2005 that up to 3% of the 30,000 people called for jury duty from voter-registration rolls over a two-year period were not U.S. citizens. A September report from the Public Interest Legal Foundation found more than 1,000 noncitizens who had been removed from the voter rolls in eight Virginia counties. Many of them had cast ballots in previous elections, but none was referred for possible prosecution.

Of course not. They vote for Democrats.


Trump called for the country to unify and denounced the bigotry that he said keeps America divided. Trump has been under fire for appealing to fringe elements on the right, including white nationalists.

“We condemn bigotry and prejudice in all of its forms,” Trump said. “We denounce all of the hatred and we forcefully reject the language of exclusion and separation. We have no choice. We have to, and it’s better.”

“We spend too much time focusing on what divides us,” he continued. “Now it’s time to embrace the one thing that united us: it’s America, because when America is unified, nothing is beyond our reach.” . . .

Trump used his message of unification to underscore the “America first” mindset that he trumpeted throughout his campaign. He pointed to the newly struck deal with Indiana-based Carrier to keep manufacturing jobs in America as indicative of the economic success to come under his presidency.

He stopped in Indianapolis earlier on Thursday to celebrate his deal with the heating and air conditioning company to keep more than 1,000 factory jobs in the state. Some 800 were slated to move to Mexico with 300 transferring to North Carolina, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Trump quipped that while “globalism is wonderful,” America needs to “focus on our national community.”

Stay tuned.

Plus: Flashback: Obama Mocks Trump for Promising to Keep Carrier Plant in U.S. You know, I don’t know how Trump will turn out as President, but I’m really enjoying him as President-Elect.

UPDATE: “One of the things I will enjoy about the Trump presidency is watching non-business writers try to explain his methods.”

Here’s the real story. You need a business filter to see it clearly. In my corporate life I watched lots of new leaders replace old leaders. And there is one trick the good leaders do that bad leaders don’t: They make some IMMEDIATE improvement that everyone can see. It has to be visible, relatively simple, and fast.


Because humans are not rational. Our first impressions rule our emotions forever. Trump has a second chance to make a first impression because his performance as President is fresh ground. Trump is attacking the job like a seasoned CEO, not like a politician. He knows that his entire four-year term will be judged by what happens before it even starts. What he does today will determine how much support and political capital he has for his entire term.

So what does a Master Persuader do when he needs to create a good first impression to last for years? He looks around for any opportunity that is visible, memorable, newsworthy, true to his brand, and easy to change.

Enter Ford.

Enter Carrier.

Trump and Pence recognized these openings and took them. Political writers will interpret this situation as routine credit-grabbing and exaggerated claims. But business writers will recognize Trump’s strategy as what I will call the “new CEO Move.” Smart CEOs try to create visible victories within days of taking the job, to set the tone. It’s all about the psychology.

If you are looking at Trump’s claims of success with Ford and Carrier in terms of technical accuracy and impact on the economy, you will be underwhelmed. But if you view it through a business filter and understand that psychology is the point of the exercise, you’re seeing one of the best new CEO moves you will ever see.

I’ll say this again because it’s important. We’re all watching closely to see if President Elect Trump has the skill to be president. And while you watch, Trump and Pence are pulling off one of the most skillfully executed new CEO plays you will ever see.

Read the whole thing.


From the comments: “I’ll bet he would meet him out on Highway 61.”

POLLING: Trump promised to repeal Obamacare, but it turns out Americans like most of it, a poll finds.

Actually, what the poll shows is that Americans like many of ObamaCare’s provisions, such as the ban on preexisting conditions. What they don’t like, such as skyrocketing premiums and losing their doctors, are the things which make the provisions possible.

Which is like saying you want all the health benefits of broccoli, but are only willing to eat the cheese sauce.

YEAH, CREATING MORE: Magazine behind UVA rape hoax begs Obama to do something about fake news.

THEY HAVE LEARNED NOTHING, AND FORGOTTEN NOTHING:  “More than three weeks after Democrats got stomped at every level in the 2016 elections, Barack Obama still bitterly clings to Fox News as the reason for his undoing,” Ed Morrissey writes at Hot Air. “In an interview with Rolling Stone publisher Jann Wenner, Obama said that media fragmentation has undermined national consensus. Having Fox News playing ‘in every bar and restaurant’ made it more difficult for Democrats to connect to voters.” I think I can count the number of bars or restaurants where Fox News was playing on only of Homer Simpson’s hands, though I have been in plenty of bars, restaurants, banks, hospital waiting rooms, airport departure lounges and other public areas where the ubiquity of CNN feels very much like Orwell’s inescapable, impossible to turn off two-way telescreen:

It’s funny — Barack Obama managed to win two national elections in a world where Fox News dominated cable ratings, and yet he’s never stopped whining about them. He began his presidency with an ill-considered war on Fox, and he’s wrapping it up the same way. Fox may never get this level of promotion again, so it’s no wonder they’re lapping it up as much as possible now.

Speaking of presidential promotion, Wenner’s doing as much as he can while he has the time, too. He doesn’t bother to remind Obama of any of these inconvenient facts or challenge Obama’s whining, but instead rolls over for a very strange bellyrub while asking for government subsidies.

Which is also how newspapers began Obama’s administration as well. Like their lame duck boss, the DNC-MSM marches in place, ending the last eight years exactly how they began.

HOW’S THAT WAR ON FOX NEWS GOIN’ FOR YA, CHAMP? President Obama laments influence of Fox News.

Like the guy says, has anyone in the press asked Obama the last time he was in a bar with Fox News on?


The gist was, “the president purposefully overstates his case knowing that it will create controversy… Controversy sparks attention, attention provokes conversation, and conversation embeds previously unknown or marginalized ideas in the public consciousness.” Part of it was a cynical calculation to let an argument about a presidential statement ensure a topic stayed front and center in the public’s mind; there’s also the side effect of ensuring that a brouhaha about a presidential statement overshadowed actual policy decisions – decisions that may be more consequential, but are less dramatic and interesting to the news media.

Almost like, say, a president-elect declaring he wants to strip away the citizenship of those burning the flag.

If the incoming Trump administration really is using a variation of the “stray voltage” approach, and Democrats really have an uncontrollable impulse to focus on the controversial statement du jour, the Trump administration could end up being stunningly effective in policymaking. A lot of seemingly dry and boring regulations can be repealed, executive orders withdrawn, rewritten and issued, legislation passed by GOP majorities in Congress and signed, all while the political world froths at the mouth about the president’s latest Tweet or denunciation of the media, or theater performers, or anything else that comes to mind.

You can enact sweeping, dramatic changes to Americans’ lives under the radar. As our friends at the Weekly Standard noted, the charter school movement grew enormously over the past 25 years, in large part because it wasn’t a big, Washington-focused political battle. Today, “43 states have charter-school laws, and approximately 3 million kids attend almost 7,000 charters across the country.” This happened without any giant federal legislation or heated governmental clashes in the national spotlight.

Could this really happen? Could the next four (eight?) years really turn out to be a golden era for conservative policy?

Let’s not get too far ahead ourselves. I’m old enough to remember the wild – and wildly naïve – optimism of the left right around this time in November of 2008.



GREAT AGAIN: November consumer confidence highest since pre-Obama era.

AND WITHOUT A COMPASS: The Democratic Party enters the wilderness.

Lisa Boothe:

What is left is the reality that the Democratic Party has been propped up by the personal likability of President Obama that pushed them past the finish line in 2008 and 2012. Now they are grappling with what is next in a post-Obama landscape.

But instead of shifting leadership or messaging strategies, they are poised to reelect the same people and failed ideas that led them into the darkness of irrelevancy. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, a San Francisco liberal, will likely stay at the helm. Rep. Ben Lujan, who ran the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and picked up only an embarrassing six seats for his party in the House, will stay in command as well. Chuck Schumer has already been tapped to lead Democrats in the Senate as minority leader.

A separate race for the Democratic National Committee has exposed how liberal and out of touch the party truly is right now. Candidate Rep. Keith Ellison, who once called for a separate country for black Americans, has received the endorsement of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. Ellison has also been accused of anti-Semitism and has ties to the Nation of Islam. The Daily Caller has also identified law school columns in which Ellison calls the Constitution “best evidence of a white racist conspiracy to subjugate other peoples.”

The Democratic Party will likely continue its sharp turn left.

Steve’s Second Law of Holes says that when you’re opponent is in one, hand them a bigger and nicer shovel.

SO TOM PRICE WILL HEAD HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES IN THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION: Dr. Price is a great choice. Here’s a link to his website and info on his Empowering Patients First Act. He first introduced the legislation in 2009. Now, remember, the mainstream media and the Democrats (but I repeat myself) said the Republicans never offered any healthcare/medical insurance alternatives. What a complete and total lie. Here is Price on television in 2013. Like I said earlier this month, ObamaCare’s chickens have come home to roost. (The Observer essay contains a list of Republican alternative proposals.)

PHILIP KLEIN: Here’s how Trump’s HHS pick wants to replace Obamacare.

Given that Trump offered scant details on healthcare during the campaign, [Tom] Price could have outsized influence on the incoming president’s health policy. Price happens to also be close with House Speaker Paul Ryan, who he succeeded as chair of the Budget Committee. Both of the men have similar attitudes on health policy, including overhauling Medicare and Medicaid. During an interview I did with Price for my 2015 book “Overcoming Obamacare,” we discussed his basic philosophical approach to replacing the law.

Two things should stand out to those trying to understand the thinking of the next HHS Secretary (assuming Senate confirmation).

Price told me unequivocally that reforming the system has to start with fully repealing Obamacare: “It needs to be fully repealed, because the first step out of the gate for Obamacare is a step in the wrong direction and that is for government control over every aspect of health care, so it’s hard to fix the system that they have put in place without ending that premise that government ought to be running and controlling health care.”

When Adam Smith wrote “There’s a lot of ruin in a nation,” he might as well have been prophesying America’s hundred-trillion-dollar (give or take) entitlement crisis — which remains my number one issue.

If Price can successfully gut and replace ObamaCare with something that works, it might give him (and Trump) the necessary clout to tackle the Medicare/Medicaid albatross.

RICHARD EPSTEIN: Obama’s Labor Market Mischief.

NIALL FERGUSON: Donald Trump’s New World Order.

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

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

The “Obama Doctrine” has failed in Europe, too, where English voters opted to leave the EU in defiance of the President’s threats, and where the German leadership he recently praised has delivered, first, an unnecessarily protracted financial crisis in the European periphery and, second, a disastrous influx to the core of migrants, some but not all of them refugees from a region that Europe had intervened in just enough to exacerbate its instability.

Take the time to read the whole thing.

Obama was elected in no small part because he was the “UnBush.” That and his near-personality cult with leftists around the world gave him something approaching carte blanche to pursue a naive (at best) and wildly destructive (almost everywhere) foreign policy. If he backs down from his silly campaign promises to shake down NATO, then as the UnObama, Trump may prove — even to his harshest critics in Europe and elsewhere — to be welcome and stabilizing change agent.

PERSONNEL IS POLICY: Tom Price, Obamacare Critic, Is Said to Be Trump’s Choice for Health Secretary.

If President-elect Donald J. Trump wanted a cabinet secretary who could help him dismantle and replace President Obama’s health care law, he could not have found anyone more prepared than Representative Tom Price, who has been studying how to accomplish that goal for more than six years.

Mr. Price, an orthopedic surgeon who represents many of the northern suburbs of Atlanta, speaks with the self-assurance of a doctor about to perform another joint-replacement procedure. He knows the task and will proceed with brisk efficiency.

Mr. Trump has picked Mr. Price, a six-term Republican congressman, to be secretary of health and human services, Mr. Trump’s transition team announced Tuesday morning.

Give that man a giant scalpel.

CANADA’S OBAMA GETS CUBAN COLD FEET: Justin Trudeau is now a laughing stock. And deservedly so. Obama is also a laughing stock but the mainstream media lacks the brains to laugh. Anyway, ole Justin’s skipping Fidel’s funeral ’cause “warm comments about the late Cuban leader sparked a backlash.”


Opposition Conservatives have seized on the Castro controversy as a political misstep that could cut into the popularity the prime minister has enjoyed among voters since his surprise majority election in October 2015.

Attention Canada: You need to get this fool out of office ASAP.

OCEANIA HAS ALWAYS BEEN AT WAR WITH EASTASIA: Obama Expands War With Al Qaeda to Include Shabab in Somalia.

I’m old enough to remember when Democrats thought it was illegal to bomb countries without going first to Congress.

KEVIN D. WILLIAMSON: Hard times for the Sanctimonious White Lady Party.

The Democrats, on the other hand, are becoming more ideological, or at least more openly and self-consciously ideological, as the party’s progressivism becomes more and more a catechism. This has the effect of making the Democratic party less democratic. American progressives have a long and genuine commitment to mass democracy, having supported not only various expansions of the franchise but also many instruments of direct democracy such as the ballot initiative, but they also have a long and genuine commitment to frustrating democracy when it gets in the way of the progressive agenda, which is why they have spent the better part of a century working to politicize the courts, the bureaucracies, and the non-governmental institutions they control in order to ensure they get their way even when they lose at the ballot box. Democrats did not pay much attention when they started suffering losses at the state level, because they were working against federalism and toward a unitary national government controlled from Washington. And they did not fight as hard as they might to recover from their losses in Congress while Barack Obama sat in the White House, obstructing Republican legislative initiatives and attempting to govern through executive fiat — an innovation that the Democrats surely are about to regret in the direst way.

For the moment, the stylistic convergence — the Republicans becoming a little more like the selfish-coalition Democratic party, and the Democrats becoming a little more like the ideological Republican party — works to the Republicans’ advantage, though there is no reason to believe that always will be the case. The GOP had a very good run of it as a highly ideological enterprise.

The GOP shunned ideological candidates in the last three presidential elections, but only won when they nominated a candidate able to peel off one of the segments of the Obama coalition. It remains to be seen what the sometimes/sometimes-not conservative party does with this expanded coalition — if it proves effective enough to dial back the progressive ratchet of the last eight years, or if it succumbs to Democrat-style infighting.

I suspect we’ll see enough of the former to make real progress, and enough of the latter to worry us every step of the way.

HERE’S SOME MORE OF THAT OBAMA LEGACY FOR YOU: Jobless by choice — or pain?

The work ethic is such a central part of the American character that it’s hard to imagine it fading. But that’s what seems to be happening in one important part of the labor force. Among men 25 to 54 — so-called prime-age male workers — about 1 in 8 are dropouts. They don’t have a job and, unlike the officially unemployed, aren’t looking for one. They number about 7 million.

Just what role, if any, these nonworking men played in Donald Trump’s election is unclear. What’s not unclear is that these dropouts, after being ignored for years, have suddenly become a hot topic of scholarly study and political debate. There’s been a sea change. In the mid-1960s, only 1 in 29 prime-age male workers was a dropout. The explosion of dropouts strikes many observers as dire.

The “detachment of so many adult American men from the reality and routines of regular paid labor . . . can only result in lower living standards, greater economic disparities, and slower economic growth,” writes Nicholas Eberstadt of the conservative American Enterprise Institute. “It is also a social crisis — and . . . a moral crisis. The growing incapability of grown men to function as breadwinners cannot help but undermine the American family.”

There’s also the permanent erosion of skills and productivity, which would otherwise be helping the economy to grow and reducing the strain on social services.


ALL SIGNS POINT TO YES: White House Report Card: Will Obama Oust Jimmy Carter As Worst Ex-President?

ANALYSIS: TRUE. Democrats, Not Trump, Racialize Our Politics.

Heather Mac Donald:

The most absurd Democratic meme to emerge from the party’s ballot-box defeat is the claim that it is Donald Trump, rather than Democrats, who engages in “aggressive, racialized discourse,” in the words of a Los Angeles Times op-ed. By contrast, President Barack Obama sought a “post-racial, bridge-building society,” according to New York Times reporter Peter Baker. Obama’s post-racial efforts have now “given way to an angry, jeering, us-against-them nation,” writes Baker, in a front-page “news” story.

Tell that valedictory for “post-racial bridge-building” to police officers, who have been living through two years of racialized hatred directed at them in the streets, to the applause of many Democratic politicians. Black Lives Matter rhetoric consists of slogans like: “CPD [Chicago Police Department] KKK, how many children did you kill today?” “Fuck the police,” and “Racist, killer cops.” Officers have been assassinated by Black Lives Matter-inspired killers who set out to kill whites in general and white police officers in particular. Gun murders of law enforcement officers are up 67 percent this year through November 23, following five ambushes and attacks over the November 18 weekend that left a San Antonio police officer and a U.S. marshall dead. A few days before those weekend shootings, anarchist wannabes in Austin led a counting chant based on the template: “What’s better than X dead cops? X + 1 Dead Cops.”

President Obama welcomed Black Lives Matter activists several times to the White House. He racialized the entire criminal-justice system, repeatedly accusing it of discriminating, often lethally, against blacks. At the memorial service for five Dallas police officers gunned down in July 2016, Obama declared that black parents were right to fear that “something terrible may happen when their child walks out the door”—that the child will be shot by a cop simply for being “stupid.”


MAD DUCK: Federal agencies push ‘midnight’ rule-making flurry under Obama.

Despite the likelihood that US President-elect Donald Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress would kill any controversial late-in-the-game moves by Mr. Obama, federal agencies under the Democratic president are pushing for a flurry of so-called “midnight” regulations on everything from the environment to transportation and financial marketplaces.

The White House was reviewing as many as 98 final regulations, as of Nov. 15, that could be implemented before Mr. Trump takes office, including 17 with an estimated annual economic impact of $100 million or more, Politico reported. But lawmakers have warned agency heads to avoid rushing to finalize rules or regulations before Obama leaves office.

“Should you ignore this counsel, please be aware that we will work with our colleagues to ensure that Congress scrutinizes your actions – and, if appropriate, overturns them,” House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R) of California, wrote in a letter last week.

Several of the new rules slated for installation before Trump assumes office include environmental protections that critics argue hamper business interests and economic potential.

Perhaps President Trump should call some of these agency heads into the Oval Office in January, and ask them to justify their budgets.

THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING LEGACY: Goodbye to Barack Obama’s world.

Whatever precise form Mr Trump’s administration takes, we know this: Mr Obama’s legacy will be purged. In many cases all it will take is the stroke of Mr Trump’s pen.

The Obama erasure will go far deeper than undoing domestic laws, or foreign deals. Mr Trump will repeal Obamacare, or alter it beyond recognition. He will “keep an open mind” about whether to pull the US out of the Paris agreement on climate change and quite probably blow up the US-Iran nuclear deal. These acts would undo Mr Obama’s most visible achievements. Less obvious ones, such as the ban on Arctic drilling and enhanced interrogation techniques and the intention of closing Guantánamo Bay (never completed) will also be consigned to the dustbin. It will be as if Mr Obama was never here.

FLASHBACK: Clinton, Obama spar over Reagan.

Both Clinton and her husband have taken Obama to task for telling the Reno (Nevada) Gazette-Journal: “Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America in a way that, you know, Richard Nixon did not and in a way that Bill Clinton did not. He put us on a fundamentally different path because the country was ready for it. He tapped into what people were already feeling, which is we want clarity, we want optimism, we want, you know, a return to that sense of dynamism and, you know, entrepreneurship that had been missing.”

Obama will leave the White House with a resumé almost as thin as the one he came in with.

VOX’S TAKE IS CUTE, HOWEVER: Barack Obama is officially one of the most consequential presidents in American history.

LURCHING LEFT: Joel Kotkin: The Corbynization of the Democratic Party.

The Democratic Party’s current festival of re-examination is both necessary and justified. They have just lost to the most unpopular presidential candidate in recent memory. Lockstep media support and a much larger war chest were not enough to save them from losing not only the presidency, but also in state races across the country.

Since President Obama’s first election, Democrats have lost control of the House and Senate, as well as a dozen governors’ houses and roughly 900 state legislative seats. Republicans have control of all levels of government in 24 states, while Democrats have total control over six. Overall, the party seems incapable of reaching out to the middle part of the country, white and middle-class voters.

This contrasts with the 1990s, when a group of party activists consciously rebuilt the party to appeal to middle-class Americans. Groups like the Democratic Leadership Council — for whose think tank, the Progressive Policy Institute, I worked for several years — pushed notions of personal responsibility, welfare reform, tough crime policies and economic growth that, embraced by Bill Clinton, expanded the party’s base in the Midwest, the Appalachians and even the Southeast.

Such a shift to the middle is unlikely today. Progressives generally see Hillary Clinton’s loss as largely a rejection of her husband’s neoliberal policies and want to push the party further to the left.

This parallels developments in the United Kingdom, where, following their defeat in 2015, the Labour Party promoted a far-left figure, Jeremy Corbyn, as its leader. This was driven by grassroots progressives — deeply green, multiculturalist and openly socialist. Many, including several high up in Labour’s parliamentary party, believe the party has little chance to win under such leadership.

Democrats face a similar dilemma. Driven by their dominant academic and media “thought police,” any shift to the middle on issues like crime, climate change or regulation now seems unimaginable. Self-described progressives who now dominate the party generally adhere to a series of policies — from open borders to draconian climate change policies — that are unlikely to play well outside the coastal enclaves.

Well, “thought police” seldom help an organization adapt to change.

JAY COST: The Butcher’s Bill: Democratic losses in the age of Obama. “What makes Obama unique is the magnitude of his party’s defeat. When he entered office, he and his party had broad control of the government. When he leaves office in two months, the opposition will have broad control of the government. That is quite extraordinary. In fact, during the postwar era, no two-term president has lost more U.S. House seats and state legislative seats than Obama.”

Plus: “Obama seems to have given big government a bad name. When he was elected in 2008, the exit poll found that 51 percent of Americans thought the government should do more, compared with 43 percent who thought it should do less. But in 2016, after eight years of Obama, the exit poll found that 45 percent thought the government should do more, compared with 50 percent who thought it should do less.”

NORMALIZING DICTATORSHIP: Obama’s statement on Fidel is so anodyne that it sanitizes his atrocities and terrible place in history.



ROGER KIMBALL: Brutal Dictator Castro Finally Dies at 90. “It is especially instructive, I think, to compare the response of President Barack Obama to Castro’s death with the response of President-Elect Donald Trump.”

CHANGE: President Trump Could Reverse Obama’s Cuba Policy ‘Fairly Quickly.’ “Everything Obama did to open Cuba could be revoked because it was all done through executive action and regulatory changes, the latter of which were more formal but can be reversed.” Live by the pen and the phone, die by the pen and the phone.

THE BRIDE AT EVERY WEDDING, THE CORPSE AT EVERY FUNERAL, THE PRESIDENT IN EVERY EX-PRESIDENCY: Obama preps for post-presidency feud with Trump. “When George W. Bush left the White House in early 2009, he boarded a helicopter and went home to Texas, where he mostly remained silent about President Obama’s actions. This presidential transition is shaping up a little differently.”

I think this will redound to Trump’s benefit, especially given Obama’s near-certain descent into petty personal attacks.

GOOD: Carson at HUD spells trouble for Obama’s diversity rule.

Ben Carson’s appointment to head the Department of Housing and Urban Development likely would mean trouble for President Obama’s new housing diversity rule and would put a noted skeptic of many government anti-poverty programs in control of many of them.

The famed neurosurgeon and former presidential candidate will spend Thanksgiving thinking about the possibility of serving as President-elect Trump’s HUD secretary, a spokesman said Wednesday.

If he takes over the agency, many housing advocates will be left to wonder what his agenda is, given that he has no record on housing-related issues. . . .

But Carson has made his feelings clear on one politically sensitive topic, the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule finalized by Obama HUD Secretary Julian Castro.

The rule, meant to implement the 1968 Fair Housing Act, is intended to promote diversity across municipalities and counties by comparing levels of inclusion and diversity.

In a 2015 Washington Times op-ed, however, Carson described the rule as an example of “government-engineered attempts to legislate racial equality” bound to fail and compared it to unsuccessful busing efforts in the 1970s and 1980s.

I’m happy to see HUD enter a post-Castro era.

OBAMA’S LEGACY: Bare, Ruined Choirs.

HMM: Obama urged Clinton to concede on election night. “Obama’s call left a sour taste in the mouths of some Clinton allies who believe she should have waited longer, and there’s now a fight playing out between the Obama and Clinton camps over whether to support an effort to force the Rust Belt states to recount their votes.”

SMART DIPLOMACY: U.S., Western Allies Push Iran on New Measures to Bolster Nuclear Deal.

The U.S. and its Western allies are pressing Iran to take steps to sharply cut the amount of radioactive material it holds in a bid to shore up last year’s nuclear deal and discourage the incoming Trump administration from abandoning it, Western officials said.

The discussions about reducing Iran’s stockpile of enriched uranium started months ago, officials said, and are among a number of measures the Obama administration has been examining to fortify the accord in its final months in office. But the initiative has taken on new urgency since the election of President-elect Donald Trump created fresh uncertainty around the deal.

If agreed upon, the plan could reduce the odds of a sudden flashpoint between the U.S. and Iran over Tehran’s implementation of the deal once Mr. Trump takes office, Western officials say, by reducing its enriched-uranium stockpile well below the cap agreed to in the 2015 accord.

A better time to ask for this might have been before lifting the sanctions and turning over pallets full of cash.

MY USA TODAY COLUMN: Men to America — Thanks for nothing: While Clinton and Obama were playing the woman card, men and boys were falling behind.

If we had a college gap that favored men as much as the existing one favors women, it would be treated as a national crisis. If our girls (instead of our boys) attended schools where teachers were overwhelmingly of the opposite sex, there’d be loud demands for government action. And if there were articles with titles such as The End of Women running in major national magazines, their tone would be alarmist, not smug.

Maybe it’s time for a Presidential Task Force on Men and Boys. Before things get worse.

It would be inexpensive, and help Trump with his base. And it would address a real problem.

MY USA TODAY COLUMN: Men to America — Thanks for nothing: While Clinton and Obama were playing the woman card, men and boys were falling behind.

If we had a college gap that favored men as much as the existing one favors women, it would be treated as a national crisis. If our girls (instead of our boys) attended schools where teachers were overwhelmingly of the opposite sex, there’d be loud demands for government action. And if there were articles with titles such as The End of Women running in major national magazines, their tone would be alarmist, not smug.

Maybe it’s time for a Presidential Task Force on Men and Boys. Before things get worse.

It would be inexpensive, and help Trump with his base. And it would address a real problem.

HOW A TRAIN TICKET could have saved the Clinton campaign. “Hillary Clinton ignored her husband’s advice and thus neglected the Rust Belt when campaigning. The Rust Belt ultimately rejected her. These rural voters — who heavily supported Barack Obama on the prospect of hope and change — voted for Trump in what they may believe to be their own economic self-interest. . . . The Capitol Limited is a 780-mile Amtrak route from the nation’s capital to Chicago. It traces several hundred miles of flyover country, a slow burn through the Rust Belt and the remnants of a 20th-century economic boom. Politicians en route to Chicago clearly prefer the two-hour flight to an 18-hour train ride. But if Clinton or any other Democratic leader had simply boarded the train, they might have seen first hand what this stretch of land has become over the last 40 years. . . . This is where Americans used to make things, the backbone of a rich and great economy. In these towns there are no “up-and-coming” neighborhoods, no HGTV fixer uppers, no grand plans to push capital back into desperate communities. From the train window, all one sees are the skeletons of something once great, something gutted in favor of cheap Chinese imports and trade deals that underestimated the economic impact on middle America.”

MY USA TODAY COLUMN: Men to America — Thanks for nothing: While Clinton and Obama were playing the woman card, men and boys were falling behind.

If we had a college gap that favored men as much as the existing one favors women, it would be treated as a national crisis. If our girls (instead of our boys) attended schools where teachers were overwhelmingly of the opposite sex, there’d be loud demands for government action. And if there were articles with titles such as The End of Women running in major national magazines, their tone would be alarmist, not smug.

Maybe it’s time for a Presidential Task Force on Men and Boys. Before things get worse.

It would be inexpensive, and help Trump with his base. And it would address a real problem.


How might politicians address voter anger at vanishing economic opportunity for working people that helped push unexpected numbers of Americans to Donald Trump’s corner on election day? Immigration and trade have dominated the discussion thus far, but it’s important that policymakers don’t lose sight of more subtle ways the government has distorted the economy to favor the politically connected.

One example: Onerous occupational licensing laws that force people to undergo thousands of hours of often redundant and gratuitous training to perform jobs like auctioneering, tree trimming, and hair styling. . . .

Often, licensing laws are the result of higher-skilled professionals seeking to protect their market share at the consumers’ expense. For example, the New York Times reported over the summer on a state veterinary board that threatened an animal masseuse with a lawsuit unless she went to veterinary school. And Brookings has described the way that dentists lobbied to prevent qualified people from offering teeth-whitening services at a lower price.

Licensing regulations have grown steadily over the last few decades thanks to interest group pressure. This not just a minor concern for a few key industries; it is a weight dragging down the entire economy, raising prices while blocking access to less-skilled trades. The Obama administration has already recommended that states look at ways to loosen these requirements. If governors and legislators are interested in responding to voter anger over an economy tilted against ordinary people, this would be a good place to start.

I agree, and wrote this column a while back. And note that in Tennessee we’ve passed State Rep. Martin Daniel & State Sen. Mark Green’s “Right To Earn A Living Act,” which requires the various state boards and commissions to justify their rules. It’s a start.

MY USA TODAY COLUMN: Men to America — Thanks for nothing: While Clinton and Obama were playing the woman card, men and boys were falling behind.

If we had a college gap that favored men as much as the existing one favors women, it would be treated as a national crisis. If our girls (instead of our boys) attended schools where teachers were overwhelmingly of the opposite sex, there’d be loud demands for government action. And if there were articles with titles such as The End of Women running in major national magazines, their tone would be alarmist, not smug.

Maybe it’s time for a Presidential Task Force on Men and Boys. Before things get worse.

It would be inexpensive, and help Trump with his base. And it would address a real problem.

DEMOCRATS PREPARE TO enjoy the holidays. “It isn’t worth the trouble to fact-check this whole mass of talking points, but I note that it requires some nerve to allege that ‘Under Trump, it’s estimated that the national debt would rise by $5.3 trillion over the next decade,’ when we have just seen the debt rise by more than $9 trillion in less than eight years of the Obama administration. What they’re saying is that the increase in the debt would be slowed under Trump’s policies by more than 50%. One of the things I am thankful for this year is that there won’t be anyone at our Thanksgiving dinner who comes armed with partisan talking points in hopes of winning arguments with his or her relatives.”

EXCUSES: Obama goes ‘Full Bernie’: Goldman-Sachs speeches killed millionaire Hillary’s campaign. “Here we see the beleaguered president, watching his legacy fade into the sunset, settling into his natural habitat.”

YES: Untrustworthy journalists left us vulnerable to fake news.

Each January, tens of thousands of pro-lifers descend upon our nation’s capitol to mark the solemn occasion of the Roe v. Wade anniversary. That’s the month in 1973 the Supreme Court used a fake law to create a fake right to kill our own offspring, and a body count that has now reached well over 50 million began.

Each January, this mass demonstration of conviction rarely gets more than perfunctory coverage by major U.S. newspapers, cable news networks and the nightly broadcast news. However, last weekend a few blocks away from the site of the march, the meeting of a couple hundred racists trying to rebrand themselves as the “alt-right” received days of coverage.

Type “March for Life” into Google News and 4.6 million results come up. That’s a pretty hefty number until you type in “alt right” and see it returns more than 6 million. How come a term most of us hadn’t heard of, until the just-concluded 2016 presidential election, gets more attention than a national protest that is older than Google itself?

Talk about your fake news.

But a different kind of fake news spread on social media is what a growing chorus of journalists, liberals and tech leaders (three overlapping groups obviously) at least partially blame for Donald Trump’s election victory.

For most Americans, it is hardly a new phenomenon. It’s been going on for quite some time, actually: Dan Rather’s fake gotcha story on George W. Bush during the 2004 election. ABC News’ failure to disclose ties between George Stephanopoulos and Hillary Clinton before his fake interview about the Clinton Foundation. The more than 24 “journalists” who took their fake objectivity with them to work in the Obama administration. When CNN, PBS NewsHour,, The Washington Post, Slate and many others thought fake news was kinda cool because the fake news was written by liberal comedians for cable satire shows.

See, our industry has been peddling quite a bit of hackery and partisanship as “news” for years now, so the public no longer trusts us.

To be fair, why should we?

CONRAD BLACK: A Vanquished Press Fails To Comprehend Its Defeat by Trump.

The mountain of Mr. Remnick’s adulation gives birth to a tiny, squeaking mouse. His explanation of Mr. Trump’s success, the tedious screed about Trump the psychotic, extremist dumbbell, is just a jangling echo of the Democratic campaign: a coast-to-coast, wall-to-wall smear job in the absence of any argument for the reelection of the Democrats. It would have been no less fair for the Republicans to have tied Mr. Obama hand-and-foot to Bill Ayers and Jeremiah Wright.

Mr. Trump won because the United States has had the 15 worst years of misgovernment by all branches and both parties, and the only period of absolute and relative decline, in its history. The new president will have a clear mandate for reform of taxes, spending, health care, immigration, and campaign financing; for a workfare program to address decrepit infrastructure; and for a redefinition of the national interest between George W. Bush’s mindless interventionism andMr. Obama’s Panglossian crusade to make friends of America’s enemies.

Donald Trump is the oldest and wealthiest person elected president, the first not to have had a public office or high military command, the first to pay for his own campaign, and the first since Washington to waive his salary. He has defeated the Clintons, the Bushes, the Obamas, and almost all the dishonest, myth-making national press (including David Remnick). The national political press has declined even more precipitously than the political class, and the president-elect was elevated despite the animosity of both, a signal achievement whose significance those who have been vanquished show no signs of grasping.



During an appearance on Late Night with Seth Meyers early Wednesday morning, CBS This Morning anchor Gayle King expressed surprise at being called the “dishonest media.” Meyers asked King about the news network’s meeting with Donald Trump on Monday morning, where Trump reportedly called the journalists from each of the major networks in attendance, the “dishonest media.” King said the characterization made her “uncomfortable” but she felt that Trump wasn’t talking about her network.

“I have to tell you something. When he was talking about dishonest media, Charlie, Norah and I were all sitting there and I’m thinking, ‘Why are we sitting in this room?’ Because I honest-to-God didn’t think he was talking about us.”

To be fair, Charlie Rose often pretends to be clueless about a president-elect’s remarks.

STILL LESS BIASED THAN ESPN: Russian TV Blasts Obama for Manspreading in Front of Trump.

THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING LEGACY: Federal judge blocks Obama overtime pay rule.

U.S. District Judge Amos Mazzant of the Eastern District of Texas, whom President Obama appointed, imposed a nationwide injunction against the rule Tuesday at the request of 21 states, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other business groups.

Business groups cheered the decision as another rebuke of the Obama administration’s penchant for regulation and for extending executive power.

“The Labor Department’s overtime changes are a reckless and aggressive overreach of executive power, and retailers are pleased with the judge’s decision,” said David French, the National Retail Federation’s senior vice president for government relations.

The judge said the Labor Department regulation exceeded the authority granted it by Congress, which he said gave Labor the right to define which workers are considered salaried but only based on the duties they performed, not by how much they made.

Live by the phone and the pen, die by the phone and the pen.

CONRAD BLACK: Vanquished leftist press “Fails To Comprehend Its Defeat by Trump.”

Black dissects left-wing adulatory hallelujahs for Obama, especially from The New Yorker’s David Remnick. “The mountain of Mr. Remnick’s adulation (for Obama) gives birth to a tiny, squeaking mouse.” Heh.

Black argues Remnick is representative of his left-media pals –and that clan missed Trump completely.


His explanation of Mr. Trump’s success, the tedious screed about Trump the psychotic, extremist dumbbell, is just a jangling echo of the Democratic campaign: a coast-to-coast, wall-to-wall smear job in the absence of any argument for the reelection of the Democrats. It would have been no less fair for the Republicans to have tied Mr. Obama hand-and-foot to Bill Ayers and Jeremiah Wright.

Mr. Trump won because the United States has had the 15 worst years of misgovernment by all branches and both parties, and the only period of absolute and relative decline, in its history. The new president will have a clear mandate for reform of taxes, spending, health care, immigration, and campaign financing; for a workfare program to address decrepit infrastructure; and for a redefinition of the national interest between George W. Bush’s mindless interventionism andMr. Obama’s Panglossian crusade to make friends of America’s enemies.

Donald Trump is the oldest and wealthiest person elected president, the first not to have had a public office or high military command, the first to pay for his own campaign, and the first since Washington to waive his salary. He has defeated the Clintons, the Bushes, the Obamas, and almost all the dishonest, myth-making national press (including David Remnick). The national political press has declined even more precipitously than the political class, and the president-elect was elevated despite the animosity of both, a signal achievement whose significance those who have been vanquished show no signs of grasping.

Read the whole thing,

TWITCHY: Check out why Obama’s DOJ fined Denver Sheriff Dept.

No spoilers, but apparently following Federal law is more than the D.O.J. can accept from a sheriff’s department.

ANY WORD FROM OBAMA? Family of slain San Antonio Police officer says Donald Trump called to offer condolences.

ISRAELI AMBASSADOR: Iran is smuggling weapons to Hezbollah on commercial flights.

UN Ambassador Danny Danon sent an urgent letter to the Security Council members in which he revealed the smuggling route from Iran’s Revolutionary Guards to Hezbollah: “The Iranian Al-Quds Force packs weapons, ammunition and missile technology to Hezbollah in suitcases and puts them on Mahan Air flights.”

Danon added that “these planes fly directly to the airport in Lebanon or Damascus and from there the weapons are transferred on the ground to Hezbollah.”

The UN envoy wrote that “Iran continues to violate Security Council resolutions, including Resolutions 1701 and 2231.” Iran arms terrorist organizations in the Middle East and works to undermine stability in the entire region, he added.

You’d think this is the kind of thing which might have come up in President Obama’s years-long negotiations with the mullah’s regime.

MAD DUCK: Obama Education Secretary John B. King Calls for End to Paddling in Schools.

TAXPROF ROUNDUP: The IRS Scandal, Day 1293.

JACK SHAFER: Abolish the Office of the First Lady.

Yes, defund the ridiculously large staff that currently earns upward of $1.5 million a year serving Michelle Obama; abolish the federally funded bully pulpit from which the presidential spouses have historically advocated for healthy eating, literacy, child welfare, anti-drug programs, mental health issues and beautification of highways. The president’s spouse isn’t a specimen of American royalty. By giving her a federal budget and nonstop press coverage, we endorse a pernicious kind of neo-nepotism that says, pay special attention to the person not because she’s earned it or is inherently worthy of our notice but because of who she’s related to by marriage.

The hairstyles, fashion choices, vacation destinations and pet projects of the president’s spouse are newsworthy only to the mentally vacant. Other democracies, such as the United Kingdom, bestow no such honors upon the spouses of their leaders and are better for it. To use an au courant phrase, the office of the first spouse is a swamp in need of draining. Won’t somebody please dispatch a dredger to the East Wing?

My beef isn’t against Melania Trump, the next first spouse, who seems to be a poised, harmless individual. I actually started composing this column in my head when the election of Hillary Clinton seemed inevitable. We already give mega-millionaire Bill Clinton a huge payout to run and staff his office under the federal Former Presidents Act. He’s collected in excess of $16 million since 2001. Why, I thought, give him additional funding and staff as first spouse?


Although to be fair, the First Lady’s budget and staff were modest prior to January, 2009.

JAMES TARANTO: A Crisis of Authority—II: The people have spoken. Obama is speaking back.

It’s true that Obama has not melted down in public the way many on the liberal left have. But Lederman overstates the case. On that foreign trip, as well as in a lengthy series of interviews, both pre- and postelection, with the New Yorker’s David Remnick, Obama has been quite fretful—torn, as at that press conference, between his duty as a lame-duck president to respect the office and the man who will soon hold it, and his anguish at what amounts to a repudiation of authority.

Here we mean not Obama’s authority as president, which he will continue to exercise until Trump is sworn in at noon on Jan. 20. Rather, what the voters repudiated was the authority of what Obama stands for. . . .

Remnick himself described the Obama presidency as “two terms long on dignity and short on scandal.” The IRS? The State Department scandal that arguably sank Mrs. Clinton’s campaign? Again, the memory hole.

In Lima on Sunday the president himself declared: “I am extremely proud of the fact that over eight years we have not had the kinds of scandals that have plagued other administrations.” That’s either delusional or very carefully worded: To our knowledge no other administration has used the IRS to punish ordinary citizens for dissent, nor faced FBI findings that the secretary of state treated classified information in an “extremely careless” fashion. . . .

Meanwhile, the Times’s new public editor, Liz Spayd, faults “the media” for “turning [Trump’s] remarks into a grim caricature that it applied to those who backed him. What struck me is how many liberal voters I spoke with felt so, too. They were Clinton backers, but, they want a news source that fairly covers people across the spectrum.”

If you’d told us in 2013, when we identified the problem of liberal-left authoritarianism, that Donald Trump would be the solution, we’d have laughed along with everyone else. But he was probably a necessary corrective. The left has waged asymmetric political warfare, routinely traducing the same norms it was demanding its opponents respect. Trump beat them at their own game, and that might have been the only way it could be done.

Choose the form of your Destructor!


One of the little amusements of this post election period, along with seeing all those special snowflake heads explode with outrage, is the insistence that America really doesn’t need a big infrastructure building program after all. Or at least, absolutely not the type that Donald Trump is proposing. Because, you know, that’s different and, well, that’s different.

That both Trump and Clinton went into the election promising to spend more on infrastructure seems to be escaping some people. The only major difference between the two plans is that Trump would use the private sector, Clinton’s would have used the public. And it does seem to be that which is making some people spit tacks. Larry Summers for example.

Shocking. I’ll bet Trump won’t get bullied by feminists into shifting the money to social services like Obama did, either.

WHEN REPUBLICANS USED OBAMA’S MIDDLE NAME, THEY WERE CALLED RACIST: If these people had no double standards, they would have no standards at all. Poor Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III.

MARC THIESSEN: ‘Hamilton’ and the implosion of the American left.

Hey Democrats, want help to rally the country around Donald Trump? Here’s a great idea: Have a crowd of wealthy, out-of-touch Manhattan liberals (who can afford $849 tickets to “Hamilton”) boo Vice President-elect Mike Pence while the cast of the Broadway show lectures him on diversity.

The Democratic Party’s alienation from the rest of America was on full display at the Richard Rodgers Theatre on Friday night. And the left seems completely oblivious to how ridiculous it looks to the rest of the United States. Professors at Yale and Columbia universities and other elite schools postpone exams and cancel classes for students who could not deal with the election results. Kids in Washington schools cut class with tacit approval from administrators to march in protest of the results of a free and fair election. School officials in Montgomery County offer grief counselors to “help students process any concerns or feelings they have about the election.” (Funny, I don’t recall anyone canceling exams or offering my kids grief counselors when Barack Obama was elected).

People in the American heartland see all this, and they shake their heads in disgust. Today’s Democrats have become a party of coastal elites completely disconnected from the rest of America.

And, seemingly, smug about it.


Freakoutrage needs the cooperation of President-elect Trump (Ohhhh, baby, I’m a-tinglin’ again!), and that’s another reason you’ll fail. Freakoutrage is really a way you and your media fluffers try to train conservative leaders. You try to teach the Republican leader that if he does anything you don’t approve of, you’ll scream and whine and then he’ll have to back down. It’s a means of control, like a shock collar. And this works on a lot of Republicans, or used to: “Oh no, the WaPo is angry! Quick, start #caring!”

But The Donald? Nope. You have no heat because he’s giving absolutely no damns.

Ditching the press to scarf a sirloin? WAAAAAA! Damns given: 0.

Appointing hardcore conservatives? WAAAAA! Damns given: 0.

Building the wall, repealing O-Care, SCOTUS Justice Willet? WAAAAA! Damns given: 0.

You’ll be freaking out and the President will be eating a taco bowl and kicking it old school with his hot immigrant wife like a boss, penning and phoning Obama’s miserable legacy into oblivion.

So libs, carry on with your freakoutrages. Please. Each one makes you weaker and us stronger. Everyone sees the truth behind your freakoutrage scam. Everyone sees the truth behind you. The audience of Hamilton didn’t boo Pence. The cast didn’t lecture Pence. The audience booed us. The cast lectured us. You libs hate us. Hate, not merely dislike. Hate. Your dream is a country without us, just like I predicted in my new book.

Yep. And once people figure out that you hate them, your moral currency takes a hit.

MAD DUCK: Obama sets new record for regulations, 527 pages in just one day.

OH NO, POLITICO: Obamacare repeal plan stokes fears of market collapse.

Repealing the law without a replacement is likely to spook health insurers, who might bolt from the markets prematurely to avoid losses as some people stop paying their premiums, while others rush to have expensive medical procedures before losing coverage. Insurers would have little incentive to stick around without knowing know what to expect at the end of the transition. And that could spell chaos for consumers.

“The discussion right now about repeal and replacement is making the market very, very nervous,” said Washington Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler, a Democrat. “I would not be surprised to see the potential for a stampede to exit the market.”

This is what we call “distinction without a difference.

LIFE IN THE 21ST CENTURY: The CRISPR Bioterrorism Threat. “Scientific advisers to President Obama warn that the U.S. urgently needs a new biodefense strategy and should regularly brief President-elect Donald Trump on the dangers posed by new technologies like CRISPR, gene therapy, and synthetic DNA, which they say could be coöpted by terrorists.”

ANALYSIS: TRUE. If there was a demand for smart guns, they would already be on the market.

Last week the Department of Justice released guidelines for smart-gun manufacturers. Obama has made “gun safety” a priority during his second term as president and since the Congress is in the control of the Republicans, he has been unable to pass any gun control legislation. The Democrats controlled both the Senate and the House during part of Obama’s first term, but the President chose not to make any gun control moves, probably because gun control doesn’t play well at the ballot box. As with other unsavory political issues rejected by the population, Obama has turned to his imaginary executive power to curb gun violence and pushing the smart gun is one misguided way to do that.

A “smart gun” is a gun that will only fire when an authorized user tries to use it. Theoretically.

The new guidelines are voluntary, so they are useless.

You might think the Obama Administration had learned something about the futility of using the federal government to conjure up profitable markets by fiat or subsidy or mandate, but no.

DID OBAMA HAVE TO “EARN” HIS? Al Hunt: Trump Needs to Earn His Mandate.

If it weren’t for double standards…

ANALYSIS: TRUE. Washington Post Writer: ‘The Greatest Thing That Happened to the Republican Party Is Barack Obama.’

THEY GO LOW, WE GO HIGH: Hillary or Blood? Democrats and Post-Election Angry Mobs. “The violence is not that different from what happened in 1876 when Democrats were demanding that year’s popular vote winner Samuel Tilden be president, as it seemed Republican Rutherford B. Hayes would likely ascend to the presidency. . . . Angry Democratic mobs across the country would chant, “Tilden or blood,” and reportedly in a dozen states, club-wielding “Tilden Minute Men” had formed threatening to march into Washington to take the White House for their candidate. This came to Tilden’s chagrin, who sought to calm the rowdiness, as he didn’t want to be responsible for an insurrection, nor did he see it as a viable path to the presidency. Today’s angry Democratic mob perhaps aren’t yet chanting Hillary or Blood as they did in 1876. But some are getting violent.”

And the Dem leadership isn’t trying to calm the rowdiness, but is inciting it.


What I find slightly more interesting and, given what I know about the political self-satisfaction of the class of people that can afford tickets to Hamilton, less likely to be noted outside of actual left or right circles, is what the decision to speak once necessarily implies about all the decisions not to speak. Every day, especially given both ticket prices and the nature of its audience and cultural appeal, Hamilton plays to an audience of neoliberals, militarists, wielders of economic power, beneficiaries of massive corporate corruption and economic and political inequality, people who exploit connections in a relatively closed circle of the rich and powerful, etc. And those are just the nights when Hillary Clinton catches the show! A substantial part of its consumer base and business model is brokers, corporate lawyers, legacy admits to the Ivy League, executives, managers, investors, media elites, and so on. Its audience base is people who can afford to complain about the help, or praise their nannies (who they may or may not pay well or legally), not the nannies themselves. No doubt the regular audience could do with a pointed extra-script lecture or two as well! But that would be bad for business, and disturb the audience-validating, as opposed to audience-challenging, function that is the essence of musical theater. None of this yet reaches Hamilton Inc.’s cozy relationship to President Obama, and the mutual benefits and ego-stroking that were involved in it. Maybe the PBS documentary cut this part out, but I don’t recall the actors at the White House performance of Hamilton breaking script to say, “Mr. President, we, sir–we–can’t help but notice that you have raided and deported the hell out of undocumented immigrants in record numbers. Also, what the [deleted] is up with the drones, or Syria, or….” I suppose that actually would have been seen as rude in people’s eyes. But once you start picking and choosing your exceptions and special occasions, of course you are making a political statement, conscious or not, about all the morally complicit and dubious audiences you are happy to flatter, the number of questionable actions–deportations, assassinations, killings, etc.–you are willing to “normalize,” and so on.

Well, that would interfere with the smugness.

SAFE SPACE: Obama exudes calm about Trump as Democrats fret.

Each time Air Force One landed in another foreign capital, cellphones buzzed and White House officials’ faces fell as the latest news came in about Trump’s team-in-waiting: First, Steve Bannon, former head of the far-right outlet Breitbart News, as chief White House strategist, then retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who has said Islam is a “cancer,” to be national security adviser.

And as Obama was somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean, flying to Lima, Trump picked immigration hard-liner Sen. Jeff Sessions for attorney general and national security hawk Rep. Mike Pompeo for CIA chief.

Taken together, the selections deflated the hopes in the White House that Trump, faced with the awesome duty of running the nation, might tone it down after the campaign.

Of all the Trump’s choices, White House officials said it was the selection of Flynn that felt like the most devastating blow, given the immense authority the national security adviser has over matters of war and peace.

As I wrote here last week, Flynn rankles all the right people.

HOW CAN WE MISS HIM IF HE WON’T GO AWAY? Obama: I’ll weigh in on Trump’s presidency if necessary.

HE HAS A PLANE AND A MEGAPHONE: Trump Would Relish Going After Dem Senators In Supreme Court Fight.

Schumer’s threat is real. During the debate on Alito, Harry Reid, who was then the Democratic leader of the House, and then-senator Barack Obama attempted a filibuster against him. But far from being intimidated, Donald Trump is likely to relish such a fight. During the annual meeting of the Federalist Society, the nation’s premier conservative and libertarian legal group, a group of its chapter presidents got an inside look at some of Trump’s thinking. Leonard Leo, the Federalist Society’s executive vice president and a leading adviser to Republicans on judicial nominees, told the group that Trump isn’t going to be dictated to.

Fresh from a meeting with Trump in New York last Wednesday, Leo said that Trump knows the importance of the Supreme Court to the voters who elected him. He noted that exit polls showed that 21 percent of Americans said the Supreme Court was “the most important factor” in their decision about which presidential candidate to support. By a ratio of three to two, such voters went for Trump over Hillary Clinton. “Mr. Trump has a plane and double-digit victories where Senate Democrats are up for reelection,” Leo told the group. “Obstructing his nominees will be a political loser.”

Indeed, Democrats have 25 of their 48 Senate seats up before voters in 2018. Many are from states Obama lost twice and Clinton once: Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, and West Virginia. Democrat Joe Donnelly of Indiana knows that his state rejected Obama in his reelection in 2012, voted against Hillary, and is home to Mike Pence, the newly elected vice president–elect.

Four other Democratic senators are from states Clinton lost: Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. The prospect of a President Trump visiting their states and holding rallies to whip up support for his Supreme Court nominee would make many Democratic senators uncomfortable, especially if Trump supplemented his efforts with TV and social-media campaigns.

One can imagine.