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APOLLO SHRUGS:

That we had seen a demonstration of man at his best, no one could doubt — this was the cause of the event’s attraction and of the stunned, numbed state in which it left us. And no one could doubt that we had seen an achievement of man in his capacity as a rational being — an achievement of reason, of logic, of mathematics, of total dedication to the absolutism of reality. How many people would connect these two facts, I do not know.

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The response of Congress to Apollo 11 included some prominent voices who declared that NASA’s appropriations should be cut because the lunar mission has succeeded.(!) The purpose of the years of scientific work is completed, they said, and “national priorities” demand that we now pour more money down the sewers of the war on poverty.

If you want to know the process that embitters, corrupts, and destroys the managers of government projects, you are seeing it in action. I hope that the NASA administrators will be able to withstand it.

—Ayn Rand after attending the Apollo 11 launch, September, 1969.

“The Apollo program was designed by men, for men. If we do not acknowledge the gender bias of the early space program, it becomes difficult to move past it.”

—Tweet by the New York Times, today.

“The culture that put men on the moon was intense, fun, family-unfriendly, and mostly white and male.”

—Tweet by the Washington Post, yesterday.

The two northeast corridor newspapers are getting a strong negative ratio on their tweets. As James Barrett writes at the Daily Wire:Washington Post Torched For Woke Apollo 11 Tweet.”

The Post’s Apollo 11 piece paints the team who put man on the moon as retrograde compared to the rest of the country. “The space program imagined the future. Yet the community of trim haircuts, shaved chins, white shirts (with contractors’ company badges emblazoned on their pockets) and pressed slacks, led by many veterans of World War II, seemed decades removed from the prevalent culture that was shaggier, angrier and sometimes stoned,” writes Heller.

Yes, because they were busy putting men on the moon, not sitting in the mud in Yasgur’s farm. Evidently, the latter is the more impressive accomplishment according to the Post. (But couldn’t the Post’s Sally Quinn have simply used a magic talisman to will the astronauts there?)

Related: “A top-scale rocket projection will cover the east face of the Washington Monument in honor of the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 and when man walked on the moon. The 363-foot Saturn V projection is a first display of its kind for the Monument and will light up the historic site starting Tuesday at 9:30 p.m.”

They told me that if Trump were elected president, we’d see over the top sexism and racialism on full display in Washington — and they were right!

(Last item via Small Dead Animals.)

UPDATE (FROM GLENN): The “Golden Quarter Century” of stunning progress ended in 1971. Weirdly, that’s when the regulatory explosion took off. And it’s when economic inequality started to get worse, so it’s a two-fer for the left.

CHARLES C.W. COOKE: On Gratitude And Immigration.

Legally, Ilhan Omar has exactly the same rights as someone born here. And she should, without exception. Culturally, though, the idea that Omar does not “owe a special debt of gratitude to the” United States is ridiculous, as is the idea that Omar’s views of the United States should not be affected by that debt. Of course she should be grateful! The United States saved her from a warzone, let her stay, accepted her as a citizen, and then elected her to Congress. If one can’t be grateful for that, what can one be grateful for?

Should Omar “temper her critiques of American politics and culture”? That depends. Again: Legally, Omar should enjoy every Constitutional protection available. And, as a matter of course, she should feel able to take part in the political process on the same terms as everyone else. But, culturally, it is absolutely reasonable for Omar’s critics to look at her behavior and say, “really, that’s your view of us?” It’s absolutely reasonable for Omar’s fellow Americans to dislike her and to shun her as a result. It is absolutely reasonable for them to consider her an ingrate — or to believe, as David does, that she is “a toxic presence in American politics.” And it is absolutely reasonable for them to wonder aloud how a person who hails from a dysfunctional, dangerous place built atop dysfunctional, dangerous institutions can exhibit the temerity — the sheer gall — to talk about America in the way that she does. There is a big difference between saying “I oppose current federal tax policy” or “I want more spending on colleges” or “the president is an ass,” and saying that America needs complete rethinking. As this Washington Post piece makes clear, Omar isn’t just irritated by a few things. She thinks the place is a disaster.

Interesting that recent immigrants like Cooke, or Sarah Hoyt, seem to get this point more clearly than virtue-signaling natives.

And this is just disgraceful:

This is the logic of a domestic abuser: I only hit you because I love you, and you’ve let me down so badly.

Related: Trump is not a racist; he’s pushing the Overton window to normal. “Trump stated the obvious. And by his willingness to state the obvious, he has returned the obvious to the realm of public discourse. He has shifted the Overton window back to a more normal, common sense debate. It wasn’t a mistake of epic proportions. It was a brilliant insistence on having public debate occur in reality world, not in the Leftist’s dystopian fantasy world.”

OWN GOAL: As Democrats Fight A Civil War, Trump Strips Naked And Runs Onto The Battlefield.

The Democrats are currently embroiled in a civil war so damaging that you have members calling each other racist and threatening to primary one another. For the first time since their election, the self-described “squad” of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her minions are on their heels, not sure how to react to the fire they are taking. Even the liberal media are infighting about which side to take as the volleys are launched.

Meanwhile, the economy is booming and President Trump is enjoying one of the more positive stretches of his tenure.

Well, he was at least. For some reason, he thought it would be a good idea to wake up this morning and tweet this.


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If I could ask the President one question, it’d be this. Why make it so difficult for those who are trying to get you re-elected?

Democrats are collapsing in on themselves. All he has to do was sit back and not distract them. Instead he rips his shirt off and runs out on the battlefield screaming to be shot at. I know, 3-D chess and all that, but this just makes no sense.

I agree, but is there some 3-D chess going on here? Have at it in the comments.

UPDATE (FROM GLENN): This is barely even 2D chess. Trump is pointing out that these “it” girls are ungrateful asses who don’t like America. By not naming them, he’s forcing their defenders, and his critics, to admit that they’re ungrateful asses who don’t like America before they can even talk about the issue. This isn’t hard. But if you want more, there’s this way of putting it: All the Democrats have to do is not be crazy, and Trump’s making it impossible for them to do that.

LIZ SHELD’S MORNING BRIEF: Interest Groups Ready to Fight Trump’s Citizenship Exec. Order. “The president held a press conference with A.G. Bill Barr to announce the administration would not continue to fight to get the citizenship question onto the census. Progressive left interest groups sued the administration and for some inexplicable reason, Chief Justice John Roberts sided with the nutters. Do you ever wonder if ‘certain people’ have some dirt on Roberts? He sure delivers for the left on really important issues. I digress. AG Barr reiterated that the SCOTUS determined that putting a question on the census was legal but due to time constraints, the administration would not furnish a more agreeable rationale to the court and continue to fight. Instead they were taking new path using an executive order.”

THE MEANING OF MARIANNE WILLIAMSON: “There’s more in heaven and earth than what’s dreamed of by normal politicians,” Ross Douthat, the New York Times’ token conservative writes:

A recurring question in American politics since the rise of the Moral Majority and the Christian Coalition has been “where is the religious left?” One possible version has been hiding in plain sight since the 1970s, in the form of Williamson’s style of mysticism, the revivalism of the Oprah circuit, the soul craft of the wellness movement, the pantheistic-gnostic-occultish territory at the edges of American Christianity’s fraying map. We don’t necessarily see it as a “left” only because it has acted indirectly on politics, reshaping liberalism and the wider culture from within and below, rather than acting through mass movements and political campaigns.

In which case the Williamson candidacy is an interesting milestone, a moment when an important cultural reality enters into politics explicitly, inspiring initial bafflement and mockery (in this case, via journalists digging up Williamson’s most Moonbeam-y old tweets) but also exposing something important about America that normal, official media coverage ignores.

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The liberal intelligentsia has long prided itself on taking the side of reason and science against first religious conservatism and now right-wing populism — defending a particular version of the Enlightenment against televangelists and superstition and Fake News. But because man does not live by Neil deGrasse Tyson memes alone, and because the mix of hard scientific materialism and well-meaning liberal humanitarianism has always been somewhat incoherent, the cult of reason necessarily shares space in liberal circles — especially liberal circles outside the innermost ring of the meritocracy — with other cults, other commitments, of the sort associated with “A Course in Miracles.”

The spirit of deGrasse Tyson and the spirit of Williamson can certainly coexist, especially when politics supplies a common enemy as vivid as Donald Trump. But they can also fall into war with one another, over differences more significant than the debate over Medicare for All.

Meanwhile, the L.A. Times explores “How millennials replaced religion with astrology and crystals:”

She’s one of a growing number of young people — largely millennials, though the trend extends to younger Gen Xers, now cresting 40, and down to Gen Z, the oldest of whom are freshly minted college grads — who have turned away from traditional organized religion and are embracing more spiritual beliefs and practices like tarot, astrology, meditation, energy healing and crystals.

And no, they don’t particularly care if you think it’s “woo-woo” or weird. Most millennials claim to not take any of it too seriously themselves. They dabble, they find what they like, they take what works for them and leave the rest. Evoking consternation from buttoned-up outsiders is far from a drawback — it’s a fringe benefit.

“I know this work is weird,” Lilia said of her breathwork practice. “But it makes me feel better and that’s why I keep doing it.”

The cause behind the spiritual shift is a combination of factors. In more than a dozen interviews for this story with people ranging in age from 18 to their early 40s, a common theme emerged: They were raised with one set of religious beliefs — Catholic, Jewish, Buddhist — but as they became adults, they felt that faith didn’t completely represent who they were or what they believed.

But this isn’t all that new a phenomenon — it dates back to the Beatles hooking up with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in the summer of 1967, and while they would have a falling out with him the following year, during the late ‘60s, and early ‘70s, it became de rigueur for lots of superstar guitarists to be associated with his own Indian guru. It’s right there in the second part of the headline of Tom Wolfe’s ‘70s-defining article, “The ‘Me’ Decade and the Third Great Awakening,” which was first published as the cover story of the August 23rd 1976 issue of New York magazine. And as Michael Graham wrote in his 2002 book, Redneck Nation: How the South Really Won the War:

That’s why I find it hard to share the dismissive attitude Northerners have about Southerner evangelicals and born-again Christians. Do you know how exasperating it is to have a New Ager make fun of your religion? As a graduate of Oral Roberts, I am a magnet for people who want to talk about their spiritual beliefs and/or their loathing of Christianity. My ORU experience was part of my stand-up comedy act, and it was not uncommon to be harangued after the show by audience members who wanted to get their licks in against organized religion.

After a set at a hotel in Washington State, I was dragged into a long, drawn-out discussion with a graying, balding New Ager who just couldn’t get over my evangelical background. “You seem so smart,” he kept saying. “How could you buy into that stuff?” Here’s a guy wearing a crystal around his neck to open up his chakra, who thinks that the spirit of a warrior from the lost city of Atlantis is channeled through the body of a hairdresser from Palm Springs, and who stuffs magnets in his pants to enhance his aura, and he finds evangelicalism an insult to his intelligence. I ask you: Who’s the redneck?

Come to think of it, I’m not sure if this guy—who believed in reincarnation, ghostly hauntings, and the eternal souls of animals—actually believed in God. It’s not uncommon for Northerners, especially those who like to use the word “spirituality,” to believe in all manner of metaphysical events, while not believing in the Big Guy. “Religious” people go to church and read the Bible, and Northerners view them as intolerant, ill-educated saps. “Spiritual” people go hiking, read Shirley MacLaine or L. Ron Hubbard, and are considered rational, intelligent beings.

To be fair, they believed they found God in 2008.

ROSS PEROT WAS THE POPULIST WHO BETRAYED POPULISM:

Trump entertained a Reform party run in 2000 himself, and perhaps to satisfy Perot, as well as because of bad advice from consultants, Trump denounced Buchanan at the time. But Trump had the good sense not to seek the nomination of a party whose founder preferred to see it die than have a life after him. Instead, Trump learned from the failures of Perot and the Reform party. Trump, like Perot, campaigned as something of a moderate on social issues — but he did so without excluding social conservatives, and since becoming president he has served his coalition allies better than many a professed true-believer conservative Republican ever did. Trump also realized, as Perot should have recognized a quarter-century earlier, that third-party politics was a waste of time, when the same resources could be used to take over the GOP from within. Republican voters, if not Republican elites, still wanted the party to be that of Nixon and Reagan, not just the Bushes — the party of the Rust Belt and Reagan Democrats, not just the party of Social Security privatizers and military contractors. Trump put the politics of Perot and Buchanan together into a winning force on the right and a winning force in the 2016 election. Whatever happens next year, this has changed American politics in a way that Perot’s symbolic achievement in 1992 never did. Yet if Perot had been more far-sighted in 2000, he might have hastened the populist realignment — and spared the country some of the hardships and disgraces of the last 20 years.

He was a self-made billionaire, a brilliant if eccentric businessman who could have been an equally significant figure in politics — if only he had been willing to treat populism as something more than the private possession of H. Ross Perot.

By siphoning away votes from George H.W. Bush in 1992, Perot’s third party candidacy paved the way for eight years of Bill Clinton, who got cold feet over capturing Osama bin Laden, and massively expanded Jimmy Carter’s Community Reinvestment Act. Both 9/11 and the 2008 economic meltdown were twin hangovers from the Clinton years. In “The Complicated Political Legacy of H. Ross Perot,” Jim Geraghty notes that “Jonah Goldberg [once] wrote that someone could write a good book on how in the short span from 1988 to 1992, Ronald Reagan’s America became Bill Clinton’s America. At least one chapter in that book would have to cover H. Ross Perot, who passed away” on Tuesday:

Back to Jonah’s point, you might think that the time with the biggest interest in candidates outside the major parties would be a time of major crises and national instability. And yet . . . the United States of America in 1992 doesn’t look all that bad at all from the perspective of today. Yes, the country was emerging from a recession, but unemployment peaked at 7.8 percent in June, which looks pretty modest by the standards of the Great Recession. The tech and dot-com booms were just around the corner. The Cold War was over, Kuwait had been liberated from Saddam Hussein, and the United Nations had rarely looked more effective. The worst horrors of the Balkans still lay ahead. Al-Qaeda was just a bunch of unknown guys. North Korea had no nuclear weapons, nor did Iran — nor did India or Pakistan yet. Perot and Bill Clinton lamented that Washington was allegedly paralyzed by gridlock, but the partisanship of that era looks mild compared to today. The legislation passed during Bush’s presidency was pretty substantive.

Depending upon your point of view, Perot and Clinton either tapped into latent American anxiety in the early 1990s, or they convinced Americans that things had gone terribly wrong when in fact things were going okay. As I noted when George H.W. Bush passed away, on the campaign trail, Bill Clinton described a struggling, desperate America:

Unemployed workers who’ve lost not only their jobs but their pensions, their health care, and even their homes. Laid-off defense workers who now make their living driving cabs. Elderly couples whose refrigerators are bare because so much of their monthly Social Security check has to go for prescription drugs. Middle-class families everywhere who’ve taken second jobs to make ends meet.

H. Ross Perot declared in his book, “Unless we take action now, our nation may confront a situation similar to the Great Depression — and maybe even worse.” That looks pretty hyperbolic, considering how the 1990s turned out.

While the economy of the early 1990s looks pretty solid today, there was a genuine fear back then that the stock market crash of 1987 was the harbinger of very bad times to come, one that George H.W. Bush didn’t help by raising taxes in 1990, a year in which he was consumed by foreign policy decisions. A gesture that Bill Clinton repaid by declaring the mild recession of 1991-’92 as “the worst economy in fifty years” and by running to Papa Bush’s right by excoriating him for violating his 1988 “read my lips” pledge. While both Clinton and Perot “convinced Americans that things had gone terribly wrong when in fact things were going okay,” it would take the dot com boom — and a media, with a Democrat in the White House to once again report good economic news, to solidify that belief.

Which remarkably, survived until the fall of 2008.

#JOURNALISM: In a piece asking if Joe Biden is too old to run for president, The Atlantic writes that Donald Trump “was 71 when he was inaugurated.” Donald Trump was born June 14, 1946, which means that when he was inaugurated on January 20, 2017 he was still 70. As Jon Althouse Cohen points out on Facebook, “When the media get basic facts like the candidates’ ages wrong, you have to wonder how much to trust their reporting on more complex matters.” Not much. And while anyone can make a mistake, there’s a certain directionality to their errors most of the time.

JOHN NOLTE: Democrats Just Had Their Worst Week in 47 Years. “Not since the 1972 discovery that George McGovern’s vice presidential pick, Thomas Eagleton, had been hospitalized and given electroshock treatments have the Democrats had a worse week than the one we just concluded.”

The Fake News Media Is the Only Shrinking Institution in America’s Booming Economy

Before 2019 is over, there will be upwards of 12,000 job cuts within the American media. That’s 12,000 fewer Democrat foot soldiers; 12,000 fewer propagandists, serial liars, cheerleaders, and toadies to hold Antifa’s jacket as they beat elderly Trump supporters to death with crowbars.

Every industry in Trump’s America is expanding and thriving … except for the media.

What’s more, the Democrats primary propaganda outlet, the far-left CNN, is hemorrhaging viewers like an Ebola victim hemorrhages solid foods.

Where’s your god now, Jeff Zucker?

Democrats Lost “The Sane One” Joe Biden

Slow Joe will always be the stupid one, the gaffe machine on the verge of imploding, but he has now openly embraced gun confiscation, taxpayer-funded abortions, the banning of every gun currently being manufactured (except those stupid “smart guns”), raising everyone’s taxes, and putting an end to deportations of illegal immigrants. And now, we don’t really know where Creepy Joe stands on awarding health insurance to illegals and decriminalizing illegal immigration because he’s flip-flopping all over the place on those two.

The so-called “sane one” is an aging moron ready to take our guns, ban all the others, and force us to pay for an illegal alien’s abortion.

Much more at the link, but as always, don’t get cocky.

DISPATCHES FROM THE WORLD OF JACOBIN KNITTING: How Tech Bias Became A Kitchen Table Issue.

Ravelry announced yesterday that they would ban all pro-Trump material from the site, in a statement that was brutally accusatory of all his supporters.

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Now, of course Ravelry’s within its rights to do this. It would be within the rights of any platform or community to do this. Any private community could legally make the same announcement tomorrow if they wanted.

But we should pause to appreciate how incredibly toxic this behavior is, and the negative ramifications for our culture and our communities. Some of the more foolish analysts are apt to argue that the biases of digital are just a representation of grievance culture, unimportant to normal Americans.

Developments like this show how wrong they are. This is not a conversation limited to activists or media members when families are talking about mom losing her income and her friends.

Knitting communities often bring together people with very different politics. Some of our writers who have used Ravelry for years experience it as a community that exists outside of the political arena, one that lowers the walls between factions.

A step like this raises those walls back up, and while there is some backlash, the size of Ravelry as a player in the market means there isn’t an obvious “just build your own” dynamic. Conservative pattern makers who paid money and built a following are being booted from the community they helped build, losing content they paid for, and find themselves in an instant sealed out of the single biggest market for their creative wares.

Somebody should write a book about social media’s increasingly toxic politics.

BILL DE BLASIO: Let’s face it, anti-Semitism is a right-wing movement.

Fully 60 percent of hate crimes in NYC this past year were committed against Jews, easily the largest share of any targeted minority. I assure you that not all of the perpetrators were right-wing. New York being New York, it’s possible if not likely that few were. What is Blas thinking?

Mainly he’s thinking about his no-shot presidential candidacy. A mayor who’s interested in being a mayor would have little reason to apportion ideological blame for a rising tide of hate crimes. His interest would be in uniting the community to solve the problem. Instead de Blasio’s hinting to NYC’s great liberal majority that this isn’t really “their” problem, hoping that that message will be carried to the great mass of progressive 2020 primary voters whom he’s trying to woo. The left imagines a straight line from growing anti-semitism to Trump’s admirers in Charlottesville to Trump himself. De Blasio’s trying to ingratiate himself to them by validating that belief, and of course by preemptively spinning about why NYC has become more threatening to Jews on his watch. Simply deflect all questions about anti-semitism to the right, never mind the gory history of that prejudice among ideologues of both sides.

The Corbynization of the Democratic Party continues apace, and apparently, Bill De Blasio doesn’t seem to mind.

YES, IT IS: It’s Time for a Thoroughgoing Revamping of the Intelligence Community.

Among the urgent tasks we must quickly undertake, few are so urgent as a thoroughgoing revamping of the intelligence community. At the moment, it isn’t very impressive in either of the two main activities with which it’s entrusted: spying on our enemies and supporting our friends. You can see this easily enough. The Israelis, not the CIA et al., made off with the Iranians’ secret nuclear plans. So much for effective espionage. And there are two very closely linked enemies, Iran and Venezuela, that should be prime targets for subversion, but we don’t seem to be making good progress.

On the other hand, the intelligence community seems to do well, or at least try harder, at subverting our own political order, as we’ve learned over the recent past.

Or maybe not. Although the attempted subversion of Trump and associates produced the downfall of Lt. General Michael Flynn, the centerpiece of the intel operation—the Mueller show investigation—came up empty-handed, and the top levels of the FBI and CIA now face inquiries from Attorney General Barr, Justice Department Inspector General Horowitz, and the U.S. Attorney in Connecticut. Some of our top spooks have been fired.

Rather like Iran and Venezuela, isn’t it?

It’s an opportunity. For decades, Congress and various special committees and duos (such as Robb-Silverman) have invariably responded to intelligence failures by adding more bodies to the agencies and expanding their budgets. The predictable result? Today we’ve got too many spooks collecting too much money, with predictably bad results. Among other bad consequences, intelligence is typically churned out by committees, guaranteeing that we don’t identify our best analysts. We need to drastically reduce the numbers of both budgets and bureaucrats, in order to figure out who’s good. Then we need to promote them, within a much smaller system.

It’s hard to imagine this happening under normal circumstances, but today’s circumstances aren’t normal.

Time to clean house, and take out the trash.

JOSH KRAUSHAAR: Kamala Harris Is Undermining Her Campaign.

If there was a primary for the most self-destructive presidential candidate, Sen. Kamala Harris of California would be the front-runner of the 2020 field. Instead of leveraging her profile as a pragmatic prosecutor who has distinguished herself in the Senate as a tough litigator of top Trump officials, she’s run a campaign that has embraced seemingly every half-baked idea from the party’s left wing.

Supporting Medicare-for-all legislation that would all but eliminate private health insurance? Check. Decriminalize sex work? On it. Reparations for the descendants of slaves? Let’s study it. Criticize Rep. Ilhan Omar for invoking anti-Semitic tropes that even the Democratic party leadership condemned? Hard pass. Voting rights for the Boston bomber? Let’s talk about it, at least before backtracking the next day.

Her latest policy proposal would penalize businesses that fail to demonstrate gender pay equity, but without contextualizing salary data for merit and experience. “Companies would also be required to report the share of women who are among the company’s top earners, the total pay and total compensation gap that exists between men and women, regardless of job titles, experience and performance,” according to the Associated Press.

The plan combines the heavy hand of government with a mission that’s near-impossible to implement effectively.

The point isn’t to fix a problem, the point is to create more opportunities for corruption and graft. At that, Harris’s idea would prove a huge success I’m sure.

Getting elected though, as Will Collier noted, is “Harris’s Achilles Heel: she’s spent her political life in the Bay Area, where there’s no penalty for going another step further to the Left of your opponents. It’s her go-to tactic, and she has no idea how to modulate it, or what to do outside that bubble.”

21ST CENTURY HEADLINES: Cruz warns ‘Space Force’ needed to prevent space pirates. He’s not wrong, you know.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) said this week that it was important to fund President Trump’s proposed “Space Force” in order to prevent possible space pirates.

“Since the ancient Greeks first put to sea, nations have recognized the necessity of naval forces and maintaining a superior capability to protect waterborne travel and commerce from bad actors,” Cruz, the chairman of the subcommittee on aviation and space, said at a hearing Tuesday.

“Pirates threaten the open seas, and the same is possible in space. In this same way, I believe we too must now recognize the necessity of a Space Force to defend the nation and to protect space commerce and civil space exploration,” Cruz said.

The Trump administration’s current plan to create Space Force would cost more than $2 billion to get off the ground, according to a report from the Congressional Budget Office.

The report found that a Space Force military branch would need 5,400 to 7,800 in new personnel for overhead and management, adding more than $1 billion to the Pentagon’s annual costs.

Trump proposed creating Space Force within the Air Force, similar to how the Marine Corps operates with the Navy. The Pentagon, however, has said Space Force should exist as its own branch of the military, arguing its necessity is inevitable as China and Russia sharpen their focus on space.

With a new bureaucracy, you get roughly a decade of increased energy and creativity before things ossify. Is this the crucial decade? Quite possibly.

STABBING IN SCHOOL? WHAT STABBING?  Schools don’t like the public to know all the gory details about school violence.

Since the Trump Administration (unlike the Obama Administration) is allowing schools to set their own school discipline policies, maybe more problem schools will be able to get a handle of this sort of stuff.  That’s the plan anyway.  (For my discussion of the very misguided Obama Era policy, you can go here.)

DAVID BROOKS: Democrats Are “Making A Terrible Mistake” On Contempt, Destroying Checks And Balances.

This constitutional crisis is just for show. Partly the Democrats want the show because it just feels good to bash the administration. “This has had a cathartic effect on the Democrats because we have finally been able to find a way to fight back at the obstructionism,” Representative Jamie Raskin told my Times colleague Sheryl Gay Stolberg.

Partly they are trying to appease the wing of the party that is calling for impeachment right away. The party leaders generally opposed impeachment for sensible reasons. It would be impossible to win a conviction in the Senate without some Republican cooperation and overwhelming popular support — which doesn’t exist. It’s much better for the Democrats if they focus media attention on their presidential candidates. A Trump vs. Nadler media war is exactly what Trump wants.

The problem with any policy of appeasement is that it rarely appeases; it only emboldens. And that’s what’s happening. You can feel the atmosphere in the Democratic Party changing, getting more passionate, getting more caught up in the back-and-forth combat with Trump, getting more whipped up into impeachment furor.

A bunch of needless “But Trump did it first!” stuff aside, when Brooks is right, he’s right.

WILLIAM MURCHISON: Joe Biden: Soul Man. “The former senator and veep thinks Trump-era America needs some moral straightening out.”

The second problem with the “soul” stuff is easily more important. It is the assertion that politics fundamentally shapes our souls. The truth is, our souls shape our politics, maybe more so than Aristotle anticipated in an era unblessed with talk shows and the internet. In any kind of democracy, the majority tends, over the long if not the short term, to get the kind of government it wants. That could be one of honorable men and women acting—to speak broadly, as you have to in politics—with honorable intentions for the sensible cure of public problems. On the other hand, you might get a coterie of mush-brained incompetents. You open yourself, in theory, to government by a gang of rascals and crooks and thoroughgoing immoralists.

You do the best you can. But everything depends on premises. With the right premises, the voters win; with the wrong ones, they lose. No politician can render it otherwise, not even Biden.

So what are premises? They are moral understandings—what else? It’s what’s stuffed in human heads and hearts at various levels of pre-political life. By preachers and priests. By good parents and grandparents. By good teachers and the authors of good books. I can’t refrain from mentioning, for that matter, a technicolor world that faded some time ago to sepia: the entertainment industry and its semi-commendable premises of wisdom and good taste.

From hereabouts come the ideals, the ideas, the assumptions that the voter carries to the polls. They guide the hands that shade in the ovals that register our choices on election day; they do so more tellingly, more lastingly, than all the solemn rants that pass for political wisdom on the talk shows.

Biden, the Moses who would straighten us all out if you take him at his word, has in mind a miracle nearly as large as the parting of the Red Sea.

And on a more practical level, I’m not sure the country wants to hear an 18-month-long lecture on morality from a guy who made his son filthy rich playing footsie with Moscow and Beijing.

HOW DO YOU DO, FELLOW KIDS? That Time Bernie Sanders Interviewed Some Punk-Rock Kids in a Mall.

Bernie Sanders had his own TV program from 1986 to 1988, back when the socialist senator was mayor of Burlington, Vermont. The show was called Bernie Speaks, it aired on public access TV, and Politico just had the full run digitized. As Sanders makes his second bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, those digitized episodes have now been posted on the cable access channel’s website, where anyone with an internet connection can explore them.

“Over the past few weeks, I watched them all,” Holly Otterbein writes in Politico. “The production values are so low that they’re sometimes hard to hear and see, which makes them feel more valuable, like an archive of lost secrets.” The show’s topics, she reports, “include Plato, Ronald Reagan, Jesse Jackson’s 1988 presidential campaign, the ‘immorality’ of the war in Nicaragua, the ‘stupid’ property tax, the effects of the looming nuclear apocalypse on children, Burlington’s waterfront, Burlington’s trash dump, Burlington’s snowplow operation, the ‘incredible increase’ in crime, the close-fisted state Legislature, the rich getting richer, the poor getting poorer and the reasons that punk rockers wear black.”

Right around the same time that he took a ten day “honeymoon” in the Soviet Union:

As he stood on Soviet soil, Sanders, then 46 years old, criticized the cost of housing and health care in the United States, while lauding the lower prices — but not the quality — of that available in the Soviet Union. Then, at a banquet attended by about 100 people, Sanders blasted the way the United States had intervened in other countries, stunning one of those who had accompanied him.

“I got really upset and walked out,” said David F. Kelley, who had helped arrange the trip and was the only Republican in Sanders’s entourage. “When you are a critic of your country, you can say anything you want on home soil. At that point, the Cold War wasn’t over, the arms race wasn’t over, and I just wasn’t comfortable with it.”

Sanders had visited Nicaragua in 1985 and hailed the revolution led by Daniel Ortega, which President Ronald Reagan opposed. “I was impressed,” Sanders said then of Ortega, while allowing that “I will be attacked by every editorial writer for being a dumb dope.” At the same time, Sanders voiced admiration for the Cuban revolution led by Fidel Castro, whom Reagan and many others in both parties routinely denounced.

Sanders, in turn, said Americans dismissed socialist and communist regimes because they didn’t understand the poverty faced by many in Third World countries. “The American people, many of us, are intellectually lazy,” Sanders said in a 1985 interview with a Burlington television station.

As Jim Geraghty adds, “You can tell a lot about a man by what he chooses to praise and what he chooses to criticize.”

NEWS FROM WAPO: Facebook has banned “far-right” Louis Farrakhan.

What’s ironic about Farrakhan landing on Facebook’s hit list is that he’s likely there *because* he’s in the left’s tribe. Tech companies know that right-wingers believe that liberal Silicon Valley is biased against them in its choice of whom to bar from its platforms. Employees at both Facebook and Twitter have complained that they don’t feel comfortable sharing political views that break from the left-wing consensus. The more antagonism there is between tech giants and the right, the more willing Republicans will be to regulate them. At the same time, tech platforms are under heavy pressure from the left to deplatform fringe right-wing populists. How do you dump Alex Jones, then, without being accused of ideological favoritism? Simple: You toss Farrakhan onto the garbage dump with him, Milo, Nehlen, etc, to show you’re being evenhanded in purging yourself of “dangerous” material. I don’t think Farrakhan was the target of their purge, I think he was collateral damage added as an afterthought because of his alignment with Democrats.

And yet here’s WaPo and the Atlantic trying to pin his continued salience in American politics on the right anyway.

That theory from Allahpundit dovetails well with this thread from Ted Frank of the Hamilton Lincoln Law Institute: “why is everyone calling Farrakhan ‘far right’? I have no inside information, but what happened is pretty obvious and easy to reverse-engineer if you’ve seen sausage being made in crisis communications.”

VIRGINIA CLOWN SHOW UPDATE: Democratic Party of Virginia Tells Justin Fairfax They Don’t Want His Money, and His Office Is Fuming.

Meanwhile, CNN’s Brian Stelter “forgets” Gov. Ralph Northam’s infamous January 30th statement during an interview broadcast on Washington DC’s WTOP radio:

When we talk about third trimester abortions, these are done with the consent of the mother, with the consent of the physician. More than one physician, by the way. And its done in case where there may be severe deformities, where there may be a fetus that is non-viable.

So, in this particular example, if a mother is in labor I can tell you exactly what would happen. The infant would be delivered. The infant would be kept comfortable. The infant would be resuscitated if that’s what the mother and the family desired, and then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother.

Here’s video of Northam uttering those words shortly before his medical school era blackface scandal erupted.

Related: Gaslighting in progress: Ilhan Omar, Bernie, CNN and others are covering for Ralph Northam’s abortion extremism to bash Trump.

Just think of the media as Democratic Party operatives with bylines, and their amnesia makes perfect sense. Or as a New York Times headline put it at the start of the month, (with a nice use of the passive tense), ‘‘‘It Just Went Poof’: The Strange Aftermath of Virginia’s Cascade of Political Scandals.”

THIS AGED WELL: If Trump thinks he can get more than 3% economic growth, he’s dreaming. But while 3.2% is good, if Congress had overturned ObamaCare — thanks, John McCain, you egotist — we might have gotten 4% by now.

LYNNE LECHTER: Trump’s army of ‘the uncovered.’

A funny thing happened on the way to the 2016 presidential election. The unelectable, uncouth, unintelligent, unpolitical, unlikeable, and utterly unthinkable guy won. Clearly, the “deplorables” assisted, as did the “bitter clingers” — owners of guns and Bibles — and the so-called uneducated, unsophisticated, and ridiculed patriotic swath of the American people.

But it took more. The uncovereds carried President Trump over the finish line to unbelievable victory.

Who and what are the uncovereds? They are the silent army who are passionately pro-Trump but wouldn’t and still won’t admit it. Why? one might ask. Were they cowards?

In the months leading up to the 2016 election, the reasons for secrecy were very different from and far more benign than those dictating secrecy today. In 2015, Trump’s inner circle was aware of the phenomenon, as were the ancillary Trump campaign volunteers who walked the streets, knocking on doors, and toiling for hours at phone banks.

What did they collectively discover? Diverse but large groups of people were committed to voting for Trump. However, while they would admit their pro-Trump predilection to anonymous pollsters or door-knockers or phone surveyors, they would not tell their family, friends, co-workers, bosses, or teachers. Universally, their response would be “I’m voting for Trump, but I’m not telling my spouse, or anyone else.” In 2015, it just wasn’t worth the hassle and ridicule to them. They didn’t want to argue with friends and relatives, teachers and students. And they didn’t want to be perceived as dumb. . . .

In 2019, going into the upcoming presidential election cycle, the uncovereds’ reticence stems from far more profound fears. There is a fear of violence. There is a fear of being fired. There is a fear of grade retribution. There is a fear of a car with a pro-Trump bumper sticker being vandalized. This fear radiates in America. Incredibly, the Democratic Party has created an atmosphere of free speech suppression — “if you disagree with us, we will silence you.”

The Democrats, with their anarchistic thug minions, blackmail serial con artists, and monolithic control of public education and social and print media, have terrorized many Trump aficionados into diving underground and undercover. By doing so, they have perpetuated the inevitability of their second and seemingly more comprehensive demise. That is because, by pushing more uncovereds underground, they don’t know how many uncovereds exist.

Yet despite massive intimidation, another funny thing is happening on the way to the 2020 presidential election: Many of the heretofore uncovereds are banning together and openly bursting forth from the Trump closet. These include the Jewish groups Jexit and Jexodus and the ever-expanding black American and Caucasian movement #walkaway.

The groundswell of Jewish appreciation for President Trump, in some Jewish enclaves, is so overwhelming that it has permeated the 2019 Jewish celebration of Passover.

Read the whole thing.

LIZ SHELD’S MORNING BRIEF: The Mueller Report Beat Goes On and Much, Much More. “I’ve been right all along about this entire special counsel fiasco. The report is a political document, not a legal one. If you did not buy into the false RUSSIA collusion narrative, you will read the second part of the report outlining the ‘obstructive’ behavior of Trump as the actions of an angry man who was unjustly accused. You will see Trump’s behavior as that of someone who was getting absolutely pummled all day and all night in the media and by Democrats who were making it impossible to for him to govern and were undermining his legitimacy as president. Trump wanted to stop the Democrat-media harrassment not cover up a crime. You may remember the #resistence’s plan was to delegitimize Trump and the goal of the Mueller team was to wait until the Democrats took control of the House to turn the report into a political weapon if they couldn’t charge the Trump folks with RUSSIA-related crimes.”

HOW OUT OF TOUCH WITH REALITY DO YOU HAVE TO BE, TO THINK THAT TRUMP IS “SLAVISHLY SUBORDINATE” TO PUTIN?

Reality: Democrats, Join Trump Against Russian Aggression: His administration has been tough on Moscow’s meddling, both in U.S. elections and abroad.

Mr. Mueller did indict 13 Russian nationals for offenses related to election meddling. We know Moscow spent money on Facebook ads designed to exploit America’s divisions, targeting voters on both sides of the aisle. And Mr. Trump and the Republicans have responded. Under legislation enacted by a Republican Congress, the Trump administration imposed sanctions on Russian oligarchs and intelligence agencies.

Beyond the meddling, Mr. Trump has slammed Russia with bold moves designed to weaken Mr. Putin on the world’s stage. This administration imposed sanctions on Russia for violating nonproliferation laws by supporting weapons programs in Iran, Syria and North Korea. The Trump administration also issued more sanctions in response to Russia’s actions in Ukraine and its continuing occupation of Crimea. In 2017, the administration expelled 60 Russian intelligence officers and ordered multiple Russian consulates to close after Russia used a military-grade chemical weapon in the U.K. Mr. Trump even blocked Mr. Putin’s Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, which could generate hundreds of millions of dollars for Russia if it goes ahead.

These tough actions have had an effect. Between January and July 2018, the Russian ruble declined 9% against the U.S. dollar. Russia’s Economic Development Ministry expects its economy to grow only 1.3% in 2019. The U.S. economy grew 2.9% in 2018 and is headed for another strong year.

In 2017, Mr. Trump supplied Ukraine with weapons so it could defend itself against Russian attacks. Remember, it was President Obama who stood idly as Russia invaded Crimea in 2014. Under the Trump administration, the U.S. has also engaged in hard-fought battles with Russian mercenaries in Syria.

In a sense, Russia succeeded in its mission to stoke division and fear within America. Some top Democrats have played right into Moscow’s hands by pursuing endless partisan investigations. If Democrats care about thwarting Russian meddling and aggression, they will disavow their conspiracy theory that our president is Mr. Putin’s puppet, and stop wasting taxpayer money peddling disproved collusion narratives. Instead, they can support this administration’s efforts to stand tall against the consistent threat Russia poses to America’s national security.

As Walter Russell Mead wrote in 2017:

If Trump were the Manchurian candidate that people keep wanting to believe that he is, here are some of the things he’d be doing:

Limiting fracking as much as he possibly could
Blocking oil and gas pipelines
Opening negotiations for major nuclear arms reductions
Cutting U.S. military spending
Trying to tamp down tensions with Russia’s ally Iran

That Trump is planning to do precisely the opposite of these things may or may not be good policy for the United States, but anybody who thinks this is a Russia appeasement policy has been drinking way too much joy juice.

Obama actually did all of these things, and none of the liberal media now up in arms about Trump ever called Obama a Russian puppet; instead, they preferred to see a brave, farsighted and courageous statesman. Trump does none of these things and has embarked on a course that will inexorably weaken Russia’s position in the world, and the media, suddenly flushing eight years of Russia dovishness down the memory hole, now sounds the warning that Trump’s Russia policy is treasonously soft.

Think of them as Democratic operatives with bylines, and no particular loyalty to the country’s best interests, and you won’t go far wrong.

But remember while America’s political class is focused on Russia, Chinese influence is running wild. That’s not an accident.

I LIKE DAVID FRENCH, BUT THIS IS AHISTORICAL BULLSHIT:

I mean, let’s just look at the presidents of my lifetime: JFK: Adulterer, drug user, made his brother (!) Attorney General, shady mafia connections, stole election. LBJ: Adulterer, much cruder than Trump, started Vietnam War. Nixon: Honestly, better than LBJ but the source of the term “Nixonian.” Ford: Nice guy, failed president. Carter: Nice guy, failed president. Reagan: The GOP gold standard, but a multiply-divorced Hollywood actor whose administration was marked by nearly as much scandal-drama as Trump’s. (Just look up Justice Gorsuch’s mother). George HW: Nice guy, but longtime adulterer and failed president. Bill Clinton: I mean, come on. George W. Bush: Personal rectitude in office, though he’s been a bit of a dick since Trump beat his brother. Iraq War thing didn’t turn out too well. Mediocre judicial appointments and little attention to domestic reforms. Gave us TSA. Obama: Far more scandals, and far more abuse of power, than Trump. And does French forget that Trump was running against Hillary?

But at any rate, the American people had a chance to decide if they wanted a man like Trump in the White House, and they decided that they did. And Trump’s now polling better than Obama did at this point in his presidency, and will almost certainly rise in the polls post Mueller report.

I mean, most of our successful presidents weren’t nice guys — FDR makes LBJ and Nixon look like pikers — and most of the nice guys in that office were failures as president. And Trump’s behavior in office is, by comparison with his predecessor, better, if cruder.

And in terms of his actions, well, Trump’s actual performance in office is looking pretty good. The economy is booming, foreign policy is going better than under his creased-pants predecessor, regulations are being slashed, and the courts are being better-stocked than any Republican president in my lifetime, including Reagan, ever managed.

Against that record, schoolmarmish disapproval pales in importance. But you want an America where a better man than Donald Trump can be a successful president? Then you have to make a better America, not least by crushing the power of the existing, awful, ruling class. And guess what: That’s what Trump’s doing. The NeverTrumpers, meanwhile, have chosen to ally themselves with the problem.

As James Taranto says, NeverTrumpism seems to be primarily an aesthetic phenomenon, and to indulge in it you have to think that our existing ruling class is more attractive than Trump. De gustibus non disputandum est, but I don’t feel that way at all.

Related:

Plus:

KIMBERLEY STRASSEL: Mueller’s Report Speaks Volumes: What’s in the special counsel’s findings is almost as revealing as what’s left out.

President Trump has every right to feel liberated. What the report shows is that he endured a special-counsel probe that was relentlessly, at times farcically, obsessed with taking him out. What stands out is just how diligently and creatively the special counsel’s legal minds worked to implicate someone in Trump World on something Russia- or obstruction-of-justice-related. And how—even with all its overweening power and aggressive tactics—it still struck out.

Volume I of the Mueller report, which deals with collusion, spends tens of thousands of words describing trivial interactions between Trump officials and various Russians. While it doubtless wasn’t Mr. Mueller’s intention, the sheer quantity and banality of details highlights the degree to which these contacts were random, haphazard and peripheral. By the end of Volume I, the notion that the Trump campaign engaged in some grand plot with Russia is a joke.

Yet jump to the section where the Mueller team lists its “prosecution and declination” decisions with regards the Russia question. And try not to picture Mueller “pit bull” prosecutor Andrew Weissmann collapsed under mountains of federal statutes after his two-year hunt to find one that applied. . . .

As for obstruction—Volume II—Attorney General Bill Barr noted Thursday that he disagreed with “some of the special counsel’s legal theories.” Maybe he had in mind Mr. Mueller’s proposition that he was entitled to pursue obstruction questions, even though that was not part of his initial mandate from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Or maybe it was Mr. Mueller’s long description of what a prosecution of the sitting president might look like—even though he acknowledged its legal impossibility. Or it could be Mr. Mueller’s theory that while “fairness” dictates that someone accused of crimes get a “speedy and public trial” to “clear his name,” Mr. Trump deserves no such courtesy with regard to the 200 pages of accusations Mr. Mueller lodges against him.

That was Mr. Mueller’s James Comey moment. Remember the July 2016 press conference in which the FBI director berated Hillary Clinton even as he didn’t bring charges? It was a firing offense. Here’s Mr. Mueller engaging in the same practice—only on a more inappropriate scale. At least this time the attorney general tried to clean up the mess by declaring he would not bring obstruction charges. Mr. Barr noted Thursday that we do not engage in grand-jury proceedings and probes with the purpose of generating innuendo.

Mr. Mueller may not care. His report suggests the actual goal of the obstruction volume is impeachment: “We concluded that Congress has the authority to prohibit a President’s corrupt use of his authority.”

Note as well what isn’t in the report. It makes only passing, bland references to the genesis of so many of the accusations Mr. Mueller probed: the infamous dossier produced by opposition-research firm Fusion GPS and paid for by the Hillary Clinton campaign. How do you exonerate Mr. Page without delving into the scandalous Moscow deeds of which he was falsely accused? How do you narrate an entire section on the July 2016 Trump Tower meeting without noting that Ms. Veselnitskaya was working alongside Fusion? How do you detail every aspect of the Papadopoulos accusations while avoiding any detail of the curious and suspect ways that those accusations came back to the FBI via Australia’s Alexander Downer?

The report instead mostly reads as a lengthy defense of the FBI.

Good luck with that. I suspect accountability is on the way there.

JON CALDERA: The Colorado legislature snatched your Trump tax cut.

Your Colorado income tax is based solely on your “taxable income” from your federal 1040 form. For your Colorado state income tax form you take your federal taxable income and multiply by our flat income tax rate, 4.63 percent.

But, for most folks, that federal taxable income actually goes up because there are now fewer allowed itemized deductions. For instance, you can only deduct so much interest from a home loan. This larger taxable income isn’t an issue because the new income tax rates are so much lower, your overall federal tax bill goes down.

But when you use that same, now larger, federal taxable income number for your state taxes, your state tax bill goes up because, wait for it, the Colorado state legislature didn’t lower the state tax rate to adjust for the new Trump Bump. A bill to do so passed out of last year’s Republican controlled Senate to, of course, die in the Democrat controlled House.

So, this year you get to pay for yet another tax increase you didn’t get to vote for.

Fortunately, there is a safety valve in our Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights (TABOR) to make sure excess revenue, like that coming from the Trump Bump, goes back to you the taxpayer in a refund. When the state takes in more revenue than what it did the previous year, plus inflation and population growth, it has to refund that money back to you.

So, the Trump Bump should still be refunded back to you. But, wait for it, it won’t.

Because Democrats.

And do read the whole thing.

WORD OF THE WEEK IS “NIMBY”: Forget the Categorical Imperative for a second. If I save a drowning person in hopes of getting a big reward, is she no less saved? It seems to me that the hubbub about Trump’s sanctuary plan is simply “we don’t like his motives.” This is the worst NIMBY I’ve seen since Ted Kennedy blocked wind energy farms off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard.

It’s more than a masterstroke of trolling by Trump, it’s actually a lesson in “be careful what you ask for.” But NIMBY is old chapeau for the faux-liberals. There is no more solidly Democrat neighborhood than the People’s Republic of the Upper West Side. Yet, when the beloved “diversity” (virtuous!) was proposed for THEIR schools, these Hillarybots went markedly Galt: Said one parent: “You’re talking about telling an 11-year-old, ‘You worked your butt off and you didn’t get that, what you needed and wanted.”

I simply cannot help but be reminded of this Christopher Guest classic:

TRIPLING DOWN ON STUPID: Democrats Will Regret Not Walking Away When They Could. “The Democrats’ continued obsession with opening the pandora’s box of the Mueller report will only make things worse for the get-Trump crowd as the hoax chickens increasingly come home to roost.”

Mueller’s team has played dirty from the start. Contrary to the public narrative that the team was “leak-proof,” the opposite is actually true. As I recently wrote, “It has been three years of innuendo and leaks, leaks, leaks, leaks, and uncountable more examples of leaks dripping poison into the poison-addicted pens of the partisan media. The Mueller team has never had to prove anything involving Trump-Russian collusion to anyone because the special counsel needs no proof to function as a potent political weapon.”

To name two awful examples: the leak of the Cohen/Trump audio recording that appears to have been seized by the feds and the leak of the written questions to the president. Add to that list a new leak reported by the New York Times, “Some of Robert S. Mueller III’s investigators have told associates that Attorney General William P. Barr failed to adequately portray the findings of their inquiry and that they were more troubling for President Trump than Mr. Barr indicated, according to government officials and others familiar with their simmering frustrations.”

Did you get that? Anonymous sources claiming to be familiar with other anonymous sources on the Mueller team are the source for the New York Times article. Double secret hearsay. My editor would laugh in my face if I tried to publish an article with such flimsy of sourcing. But no standard is too low in the pursuit of getting Trump.

So much fake news, so little reporting.

THIS IS HOW YOU GET TRUMP BREXIT: The other day, the EU Parliament voted to destroy the Internet in Europe. Now it appears that several MEPs voted for the measures by accident. Although they have had their recorded votes changed, the result still stands.

Meanwhile in the country that voted to get away from such lunacy but can’t, the House of Commons upended the constitution (yes, there is one) yesterday to vote on eight different measures to find a consensus way forward. All eight measures failed. Moreover, the Cabinet abstained from the votes in protest at the unconstitutionality, meaning that they would all have failed by more than it looks.

In one last effort to get her awful-but-at-least-it-gets-us-legally-out deal through the House, Theresa May has promised to resign if it gets passed, which is a strange inversion of how things usually work. The power-mad Speaker of the House, however, may refuse to let it be put to a vote.

This will all probably have changed by the time you read this…

TENN. CONGRESSMAN MARK GREEN: Democrats, Join Trump Against Russian Aggression: His administration has been tough on Moscow’s meddling, both in U.S. elections and abroad.

Mr. Mueller did indict 13 Russian nationals for offenses related to election meddling. We know Moscow spent money on Facebook ads designed to exploit America’s divisions, targeting voters on both sides of the aisle. And Mr. Trump and the Republicans have responded. Under legislation enacted by a Republican Congress, the Trump administration imposed sanctions on Russian oligarchs and intelligence agencies.

Beyond the meddling, Mr. Trump has slammed Russia with bold moves designed to weaken Mr. Putin on the world’s stage. This administration imposed sanctions on Russia for violating nonproliferation laws by supporting weapons programs in Iran, Syria and North Korea. The Trump administration also issued more sanctions in response to Russia’s actions in Ukraine and its continuing occupation of Crimea. In 2017, the administration expelled 60 Russian intelligence officers and ordered multiple Russian consulates to close after Russia used a military-grade chemical weapon in the U.K. Mr. Trump even blocked Mr. Putin’s Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, which could generate hundreds of millions of dollars for Russia if it goes ahead.

These tough actions have had an effect. Between January and July 2018, the Russian ruble declined 9% against the U.S. dollar. Russia’s Economic Development Ministry expects its economy to grow only 1.3% in 2019. The U.S. economy grew 2.9% in 2018 and is headed for another strong year.

In 2017, Mr. Trump supplied Ukraine with weapons so it could defend itself against Russian attacks. Remember, it was President Obama who stood idly as Russia invaded Crimea in 2014. Under the Trump administration, the U.S. has also engaged in hard-fought battles with Russian mercenaries in Syria.

In a sense, Russia succeeded in its mission to stoke division and fear within America. Some top Democrats have played right into Moscow’s hands by pursuing endless partisan investigations. If Democrats care about thwarting Russian meddling and aggression, they will disavow their conspiracy theory that our president is Mr. Putin’s puppet, and stop wasting taxpayer money peddling disproved collusion narratives. Instead, they can support this administration’s efforts to stand tall against the consistent threat Russia poses to America’s national security.

As Walter Russell Mead wrote in 2017:

If Trump were the Manchurian candidate that people keep wanting to believe that he is, here are some of the things he’d be doing:

Limiting fracking as much as he possibly could
Blocking oil and gas pipelines
Opening negotiations for major nuclear arms reductions
Cutting U.S. military spending
Trying to tamp down tensions with Russia’s ally Iran

That Trump is planning to do precisely the opposite of these things may or may not be good policy for the United States, but anybody who thinks this is a Russia appeasement policy has been drinking way too much joy juice.

Obama actually did all of these things, and none of the liberal media now up in arms about Trump ever called Obama a Russian puppet; instead, they preferred to see a brave, farsighted and courageous statesman. Trump does none of these things and has embarked on a course that will inexorably weaken Russia’s position in the world, and the media, suddenly flushing eight years of Russia dovishness down the memory hole, now sounds the warning that Trump’s Russia policy is treasonously soft.

Think of them as Democratic operatives with bylines, and no particular loyalty to the country’s best interests, and you won’t go far wrong.

But remember while America’s political class is focused on Russia, Chinese influence is running wild. That’s not an accident.

[WILFORD BRIMLEY VOICE] MR. TRUMP, ARE YOU THAT SMART? NEVER MIND, YOU AIN’T GONNA TELL ME THAT, ARE YOU?

I suspect it’s going to turn out that Trump was doing more than tweeting throughout all this, and that it reflected a strategy that has now paid off. But Republicans — including NeverTrumpers still capable of some degree of rationality, if such exist — should ask themselves what other Republican candidate in 2016 could have withstood this sort of assault. As with the Kavanaugh character assassination attempts, I think the answer will be damn few. Maybe Ted Cruz, but nobody else really comes to mind. And, say, Mitt Romney? It is to laugh. We got Trump because of a media/political environment that only Trump could survive and flourish in.

And note that the past week has been a bad one for Trump’s enemies in general: Higher education is facing its biggest scandal ever, the SPLC is folding, the Democrats are split over anti-semitism and more or less open Marxism. . . . Stay tuned. It’s going to get interesting.

UPDATE: Battenfeld: Great job, Democrats, media … you’re on your way to re-electing Trump.

ANOTHER UPDATE: “It is a complete rout for Democrats and the media.”

Related: ” I can’t resist a moment of triumph. . . . I think it has been a foregone conclusion for a while that Mueller would acknowledge there was no collusion, because 1) there was no collusion, 2) the charges Mueller brought against Trump underlings and associates did not involve collusion, and 3) the meeting with the Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya proved there was no collusion, since had the Trump campaign been conspiring with Russian officials, there would have been no reason to meet with an obscure lawyer who claimed to have (but did not have) dirt on Hillary. (That meeting, by the way, appears to have been a setup by the Clinton campaign, since Veselnitskaya was in the United States on a matter in which she was working with Glenn Simpson, and she met with Simpson both before and after her brief meeting with Donald Trump, Jr.)”

Flashback, March 2017: “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.”

MORE: From the comments: “The unions and some companies can make the economy tank. Get ready for it.” They’ll be playing into his hands if they do.

MICHAEL BARONE: Old political rules of thumb are yielding to even older ones.

One reason old political rules stop working is that one generation of voters has different experiences from those of the generations before. Voters who remembered the Depression and World War II in the 1940s rewarded incumbent presidents who seemed to have produced prosperity and peace with landslide re-elections.

They were willing to cross party lines to express their gratitude for policies that seemed to prevent horrors that were then all too familiar. So incumbent presidents of both parties won between 57 and 61 percent of the popular vote in 1956, 1964, 1972 and 1984. Since 1988, only a shrinking sliver of voters remembers what Americans used to call “the Depression” and “the War,” and no president has won more than 53 percent.

Just as Trump has not been able to raise his job rating to the improving economy, so his political enemies have not been able to lower it significantly. Each new supposedly shocking personal revelation has failed to shock; each eagerly whispered allegation of criminal collusion has failed to disenchant.

It’s apparent now that Trump’s support (the 21st-century Republican core, minus a couple million white college grads, plus a couple million white non-grads) is sticking with him pretty much regardless of events or outcomes. And the coalition that makes up the 21st-century Democrats, with the reverse adjustments, is solidly arrayed against him.

This is actually in line with old political rules, rules with origins going back long before the 1930s and 1940s. The Republican Party, from its formation in 1854, has been built around a core of people considered to be ordinary Americans, but not by themselves a majority. The Democratic Party, from its formation in 1832, has been a coalition of those regarded as out-peoples, often at odds with each other, but together often a majority.

Both parties’ voters today are acting in characteristic fashion. The vast body of Republicans has no truck with the complaints of Never Trumpers. The Democrats are in turmoil, panicking at the possibility of having enemies on the Left, to the point that House Democrats couldn’t pass a resolution decrying the blatant anti-Semitism of one of their own.

Well, it’s hard to decry blatant anti-semitism when a major constituency of yours consists of blatant anti-semites.

THE NEVERTRUMPERS GET STEADILY MORE RIDICULOUS:

Related: “It’s been a tough two years if you’re a post-Reagan era, Bush-flunky fake conservative.”

VICTORY GIRLS: Varsity Blues Cheating Scandal Is A Desperate Elites Tale. “While the rest of us honorable schmucks were paying for college board prep tests (my son wouldn’t go) or at least begging our little cherubs to get a good night’s sleep prior to the test (nope to that one, too), these elitists, who are so much better than we are, schemed with a weasel named William Singer to phony up the test scores for the college boards, create phony elite athlete profiles and get their kids into college as athletes or just plain bribe college officials. And, then as if these elitists didn’t disdain us enough, they claimed the costs as charitable contributions on their tax returns. You cannot make this excrement up.”

They call it a meritocracy, but it’s more of a kakistocracy.

Related: Don Lemon: College Admissions Scandal Shows Why Trump’s Message of a Rigged System Resonated With People. Yes, even Don Lemon.

ALL IS PROCEEDING AS I HAVE FORESEEN: White House Might Put Colleges on the Hook for Student Loans: Executive order under consideration would require schools to take financial stake when students don’t repay.

The White House is weighing a measure that would require colleges and universities to take a financial stake in their students’ ability to repay government loans, an effort that could squeeze loan availability to students and reduce defaults.

For several months, Trump administration officials have been discussing enacting such a mechanism or making a push for one in Congress as part of a broader effort to combat rising college costs.

In the administration’s budget proposal released Monday, officials made brief mention of a “request to create an educational finance system that requires postsecondary institutions that accept taxpayer funds to have skin in the game through a student loan risk-sharing program.”

Such a proposal could be included in a coming executive order addressing higher education, several officials said.

You heard it here first. Though remember this? Senate Democrats push for colleges to have “skin in the game” on student loan defaults. “In a call with reporters, Senators Richard Durbin of Illlinois, Jack Reed of Rhode Island and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts highlighted a package of new and existing proposals aimed at reducing the burden of student debt. Durbin acknowledged that the senators had had ‘limited success’ in getting Republican support for the measures, but said they will be a centerpiece of the Democratic agenda in the Senate in 2014. One of the more controversial new proposals, to be introduced by Reed, would require colleges with high student loan default rates to pay a penalty to the government that is proportional to the defaulted debt.”

So Trump can honestly say this is an idea with bipartisan support.

Flashback: “Up until now, the loan guarantees have meant that colleges, like the writers of subprime mortgages a few years ago, got their money up front, with any problems in payment falling on someone else. Make defaults expensive to colleges, and they’ll become much more careful about how much they lend and what kinds of programs they offer.”

ROGER KIMBALL: JERRY NADLER’S FRANTIC QUEST TO ‘GET TRUMP.’

No one knows when Robert Mueller will deliver his report to Attorney General William Barr, and no one knows what portions, if any, General Barr will make public. But the hissing sound you have heard over the last several weeks is the air going out of Mueller’s Get Trump probe as story after story has been crafted to manage expectations down regarding ‘Individual 1,’ aka Donald J. Trump. Mueller bagged Paul Manafort for tax related issues a decade or more ago, and folks like Roger Stone and Michael Flynn for making the mistake of testifying before Congress (Stone) or talking to the FBI (Flynn).

But no one not named Bill Kristol now thinks that Mueller’s expensive, long-running entertainment will issue in any actionable charges against the President.

Hence the ‘insurance policy’ being framed by Congressman Nadler. The headline of a column in Politico yesterday cut to the chase: ‘House Democrats open sweeping corruption probe into Trump’s world.’ They’ve sent letters to 81 people associated with Donald Trump demanding ‘documents.’ Which documents? All the ones that show the President in a bad light or that might be used to frame him for misconduct or ‘high crimes and misdemeanors.’

Like what? Well, they aren’t quite sure, but it is not stopping them from ‘demanding documents from the White House and Trump’s namesake company, charity, transition team, inauguration and 2016 campaign, as well as several longtime associates and the president’s two adult sons.’ Hoover it all up, boys! There has to be something, somewhere in Trump’s past we can nail him for.

Flashback: Liberals push to impeach Bush: “‘The timing is all wrong,’ said Rep. Jerrold Nadler, New York Democrat. ‘If this were the first two years of his administration I would advocate impeachment. A lot of people at home say impeachment, and I’m sure he committed a lot of impeachable offenses, but think about it practically.’ Mr. Nadler said impeachment hearings would be pointless and would only distract the country from the presidential election next year.”

Alvy Singer could not be reached for comment.

DO YOU WANT MORE TRUMP? BECAUSE THIS IS HOW YOU GET MORE TRUMP. Salena Zito: Bill Maher’s red-state hate will help get Trump re-elected.

STACY MCCAIN: The Left’s Rage Against ‘MAGA.’

Terry Pierce was shocked this month when he found a man pointing a pistol in his face. “All this over a political statement over a hat,” Pierce told WBKO-TV, after a court hearing about the Feb. 16 incident at a Sam’s Club store in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Police say James Phillips was enraged because Pierce and his wife were wearing red “Make America Great Again” (MAGA) hats and, after a verbal exchange, Phillips pulled a .40-caliber Glock on Pierce. This was no idle threat. Phillips has a criminal record, including a 2013 charge of felony aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, and there was a round in the chamber of his Glock, police say. The man in the MAGA hat was dismayed.

“Everybody has a right to believe how they believe,” Pierce said Friday of the frightening encounter, “but you don’t have a right to tell somebody they can’t believe a certain way.”

Perhaps the most astonishing thing about that incident is that it happened in Warren County, Kentucky, which President Trump carried by a 30-point margin in 2016. It’s such a Republican stronghold that the local GOP congressman, Rep. Brett Guthrie, had no Democrat challenger in 2016 and won re-election in 2018 with 67% of the vote against Democrat Hank Linderman. If anti-Trump rage can make it dangerous to wear a MAGA cap in deep-red Bowling Green, how much more dangerous must it be to show support for the president in deep-blue Democrat-dominated urban coastal enclaves?

As dangerous as they can get away with making it.

QUESTIONS ASKED AND ANSWERED: “Chicago police say today that Jussie Smollett concocted the hate hoax because he wanted to get a higher salary from the producers of his TV show Empire:”

Eddie T. Johnson, the visibly angry Chicago police superintendent, said Mr. Smollett had taken advantage of the pain and anger of racism, draining resources that could have been used to investigate other crimes for which people were actually suffering.

“I just wish that the families of gun violence in this city got this much attention,” he said at a news conference in Chicago.

The superintendent seemed particularly upset by the fact that Mr. Smollett, he said, had arranged a fake assault that featured a noose hung around his neck. The police say the staged assault was carried out by two brothers to whom the actor had paid $3,500.

“Why would anyone — especially an African-American man — use the symbolism of a noose to make false accusations?” he asked. “How could someone look at the hatred and suffering associated with that symbol and see an opportunity to manipulate that symbol to further his own public profile?

Chicago’s police superintendent isn’t the only person appearing to be vexed by Smollet’s apparent action. As Kyle Smith writes, “‘Why Would Jussie Smollett Do This?’ They Cried:”

[CNN’s Brian] Stelter chimed in again: “This is about why he might — and, so far, we don’t know. But why he might have made this up. It just boggles the mind.”

It boggles the mind! One struggles in vain to think of another profession in which someone could evince or affect as much incompetence as Stelter and Co. and expect to remain employed.

* * * * * * * *

Stelter was a toddler when a black teen named Tawana Brawley made up a story about six white men raping her, smearing her with feces, scrawling “KKK” and “n****r” on her torso with charcoal, and leaving her in a trash bag. He has lived nearly his entire life in the era of hate-crime hoaxes. He surely remembers the Duke-lacrosse gang-rape hoax of 2006, the University of Virginia gang-rape hoax of 2014, the incident just after Trump’s election when a woman on the New York City subway claimed drunken white men had ripped off her hijab. There are lots of other examples. Hey, do you remember as far back as January, when an Indian man tried to portray himself as the victim of a hateful mob of Trump-backing teenage goons? George Will once wrote of campuses, “When they make victimhood a coveted status that confers privileges, victims proliferate.” When the media can be relied upon to credit hysterics and axe-grinders the way campus administrators do, America effectively becomes a vast campus.

The reasons for Smollett’s hoax didn’t boggle anyone’s mind, assuming that the mind in question was functioning above the level of someone who eats a bowl of lead-paint chips for breakfast. In America, victimhood is currency. It is easily converted into actual currency, and if Smollett had gotten away with his hoax, he had every reason to expect that his vastly increased celebrity would have led to the salary bump Chicago police said he wanted from his show Empire.

As Roger Kimball writes, “The less hate there is in the Untied States, the more hate crimes must be manufactured in order to keep the Fraternal Order of Victims afloat.”

THIS IS CNN: Don Lemon: The worst part about Smollett hoax will be all the conservative pouncing, you know.

“Sean Hannity is going to eat Jussie Smollett’s lunch every single second. Tucker Carlson is going to eat Jussie Smollett’s lunch every single second. The President of the United States is going to eat his lunch.”

As Ed Morrissey writes:

Sorry. Mr. Lemon. The media earned every bit of ridicule and criticism it earned by going all-in on Smollett’s weird claim from the get-go. They earned every bit of criticism for doing the same thing with the Covington Catholic High School kids for the same purpose — to pounce, if you will, all over conservatives, pro-lifers, and anyone who might have a little sympathy for Donald Trump.

At least in some corners of the industry, they haven’t learned a damn thing from either failure. Expect more to come.

“Don Lemon completely gives the game away of why CNN won’t simply own up to this and other failings. Because they are paid to act like opposition. Smollet, Parkland, Covington, list goes on… they believe they are political opposition. Not journalists,” Stephen Miller adds on Twitter.

Back in 20s, H.L. Mencken wrote, “It is the prime function of a really first-rate newspaper to serve as a sort of permanent opposition in politics.” If only old media had gotten that message instead of becoming Democratic Party operatives with bylines.

Flashback: Don Lemon Says He Texts Jussie Smollett Every Day Following Attack.

SO WHAT, EXACTLY, IS THE MORAL COMPONENT OF #NEVERTRUMP?

See, you’re really not Solzhenitsyn here. And as far as I can tell, although NeverTrumpers talk a lot about morality and principles, their actual beef seems to be a combination of aesthetic dislike of Trump’s messaging style, and resentment that he’s not hiring them, and never will hire them. I suppose a lot of people confuse their own social standing and economic prospects with morality, but color me unpersuaded.

Perhaps in 2016 you could imagine that Trump would be such an awful President that you had a moral duty to oppose him. But in 2019, it’s obvious that that’s not the case. In fact, he’s pretty darn successful. Instead of gay concentration camps, he’s trying to end discrimination against gays worldwide. Instead of being a warmonger he’s now ending wars — and getting grief about it from NeverTrumpers. The Russia-collusion thing was always twaddle, but nobody is even pretending otherwise anymore. And Trump’s background and personal life certainly don’t stand out as compared to many other occupants of the Oval Office whom the establishment deemed entirely acceptable.

So, again, what exactly is the moral foundation of your very very moral, Solzhenitsyn-like stance?

THE BOSTON HERALD EDITORIALIZES ON SMOLLETT AND THE MEDIA: Alleged Chicago hate crime hoax a bad look for many.

As Jussie Smollett’s account of his alleged assault falls apart, it is important to note that politicians, the media and influential voices did their best to fan the flames of outrage, based on nothing but the dark premise that conservatives and Trump supporters are evil.

It is astounding that so many reputable people took Smollett’s fantastical account seriously. Certainly, hate crimes based on race and sexual orientation are a very real thing, but the details surrounding this particular episode centered around a lampoonish representation of a Trump-era bigot.

It was a flimsy yarn from the outset, which only became more precarious with each passing day. That didn’t stop those most deeply invested in the narrative of Evil Trump to jump into action.

Presidential hopefuls Cory Booker and Kamala Harris each labeled the supposed attack a “modern-day lynching,” with Harris adding that, “We must confront this hate.”

Kirsten Gillibrand tweeted, “This is a sickening and outrageous attack, and horribly, it’s the latest of too many hate crimes against LGBTQ people and people of color. We are all responsible for condemning this behavior and every person who enables or normalizes it …”

Joe Biden tweeted, “What happened today to @JussieSmollett must never be tolerated in this country. We must stand up and demand that we no longer give this hate safe harbor; that homophobia and racism have no place on our streets or in our hearts. We are with you, Jussie.”

It wasn’t only those with presidential aspirations who weighed-in, Democratic-Socialist superstar Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez railed against news accounts that qualified their reporting. “There is no such thing as ‘racially charged,’ She tweeted. “This attack was not ‘possibly’ homophobic. It was a racist and homophobic attack … It is no one’s job to water down or sugar-coat the rise of hate crimes.”

Another freshman congressman, Rashida Tlaib, tweeted, “The dangerous lies spewing from the right wing is killing & hurting our people.”

Not to be outdone, Hollywood notables also reacted as expected. Director Rob Reiner tweeted, “The horrific attack on Jussie Smollett has no place in a decent human loving society. Homophobia existed before Trump, but there is no question that since he has injected his hatred into the American bloodstream, we are less decent, less human, & less loving. No intolerance! No DT!”

The media has comported itself badly as well. Almost immediately after getting the Covington Catholic story so wrong, many in the news industry immediately accepted the Smollett story as true.

Astonishingly, a Washington Post writer named Nana Efua Mumford wrote this: “If Smollett’s story is found to be untrue … The incident would be touted as proof that there is a leftist conspiracy to cast Trump supporters as violent, murderous racists. It would be the very embodiment of ‘fake news.’ And that reason, more than any other, is why I need this story to be true.”

In other words, Trump supporters are violent, murderous racists. That dark premise is a lie, fake news and untrue. Let us hope one half of the country can correct their horrifically jaded view of the other half before we lose ourselves.

Hope is not a plan.

ROGER KIMBALL: The deep blob: Beware the suffocating metastasis of the administrative state.

There follows a few hundred words of brow-wrinkled prose about their ‘so alarmed,’ ‘dire concerns’ that the President had just fired their guy, FBI director James ‘higher loyalty’ Comey, that they got together and wondered how they could entice the Vice President and a majority of the Cabinet to collude (ooo, there’s that word!) to invoke the 25th Amendment and jettison a guy they didn’t approve of.

The Times story is cast in their best anodyne prose, carefully tilted to make it seem as if this was perfectly reasonable, business-as-usual stuff.

But it wasn’t reasonable, and it is business-as-usual only in a banana republic or a polity that is essentially ruled by hyper-bureaucratized administrative apparatus.

‘Justice Department Officials Had Discussions About Pushing Trump Out.’ Even for the Times that must have been a twisted cue.

‘Justice Department Officials Had Discussions About Pushing Trump Out.’ Think about it. On May 9. the President fires his employee, James Comey. Panic in Bureau. Scarcely a week later, the Big Boy Scout, Robert Mueller is appointed by Rod Rosenstein to be Special Counsel in charge of the Get Trump battalion. It’s a real flood the zone operation. Pre-dawn raids, full-press intimidation, careers ruined.

It’s been going on so long, and has involved so many nefarious characters in such high positions in the Obama administration and our intelligence and law enforcement services, that it is hard to keep the main fact, the overwhelming point of the episode in mind.

It is this: people in the FBI (aided an abetted by elements in the CIA and the Obama administration) decided that they didn’t like the person who had been elected President of the United States. Their anger and frustration boiled over when the President had the temerity to fire their man, James Comey. So they plotted to get rid of him.

The FBI didn’t like the President. so they plotted to remove him from office. That is the irreducible minimum, class, that you should take away from this whole sordid lesson. Top figures in the Federal Bureau of Investigation did not approve of the President. Therefore, they took steps to destroy him. Rod Rosenstein, Deputy Attorney General, several times offered to wear a wire to entrap the President.

The fact that this all took place in May 2017 has led many observers to compare the FBI’s actions to the movie Seven Days in May, which described a plot by the military to take over the government.

What ever have here is nothing so melodramatic. There’s no Burt Lancaster or Kirk Douglas. And there is certainly no Ava Gardner. No, it’s all gray on gray. The oozing, engulfing, suffocating metastasis of the administrative state, a bureaucracy drunk on its own prerogatives, fired by a misplaced sense of election (‘higher loyalty,’ remember) conveniently indistinguishable from its own entitlement and quest for power.

The pious sanctimony makes their power grabbing even more insufferable.

21ST CENTURY RELATIONSHIPS: Politics is affecting dating and intimacy, expert says.

Spira said that since President Trump’s election in 2016, politics have started to play a major role in millennials’ dating lives.

“Now we see politics at the top and it’s not just affecting how you date … politics has actually moved into the bedroom,” Spira told Hill.TV’s Krystal Ball and Buck Sexton.

Spira, who is currently on tour promoting her new book, “Love in the Age of Trump,” added that millennials now are starting to prioritize political compatibility over sex.

“Singles now, especially millennials singles, are more interested in having similar politics and talking about good politics than actually having good sex,” Spira said.

The dating site OkCupid told HuffPost last month that for the first time in its 15-year history, the overall number of women who choose shared political views over “good sex” doubled from 2016 to 2018.

Well, if that’s what they choose, that’s what they’ll get.

JUST THINK OF THE MEDIA AS DEMOCRATIC PARTY OPERATIVES WITH BYLINES, AND IT ALL MAKES SENSE. Fail: WaPo & Vox Journos Get Northam Abortion Position Wrong, Accuse Trump of “Inciting Violence.”

The problem with what both Rupar and Gibson asserted regarding Trump “lying” about Northam’s stance on late term abortion? They’re both wrong. Trump got it right.

Here’s Northam’s actual quote from that WTOP interview, with bolded emphasis added:

When we talk about third trimester abortions, these are done with the consent of the mother, with the consent of the physician. More than one physician, by the way. And its done in case where there may be severe deformities, where there may be a fetus that is non-viable.

So, in this particular example, if a mother is in labor I can tell you exactly what would happen. The infant would be delivered. The infant would be kept comfortable. The infant would be resuscitated if that’s what the mother and the family desired, and then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother.

Gaslighting. It’s not just for the Green New Deal anymore!

WELL, TWISTING YOUR WORDS TO FIT THEIR WORST FANTASIES IS A HALLMARK OF THE LEFT, BECAUSE THEY’RE AWFUL PEOPLE:

I’m seeing Trump getting trashed — “Twitter Lampoons Trump for Apparent Trail of Tears Joke Aimed at Elizabeth Warren” (Mediaite).

“The joke here is that the Trail of Tears was a genocide. Get it? Get it?”

I’ll just say 4 things:

1. Trump only wrote (yelled) “TRAIL.” He didn’t say “Trail of Tears.” His haters are zeroing in on the Trail of Tears and insisting that’s what he meant to refer to and that’s what he thought was funny to say. It seems to me that “trail” is a more general term and a term that relates to Native Americans. It’s that more general meaning that makes the specification “of Tears” understandable. It’s as if these anti-Trumpsters have never heard of the Great Trail or the Natchez Trace.

2. If Trump’s opponents really do feel empathy toward those who suffered in the Trail of Tears, why are they bringing it up to score political points? They’re taking something weighty and somber and throwing it around gleefully, because they think they got Trump. Is that a smirk I see on their face?

3. Trump got his opponents to repeat his tweet. They are making it viral, because they think they are hurting him, but they are spotlighting Elizabeth Warren’s worst problem and helping to insure that when we think about Elizabeth Warren, we think about her problematic use of the claim that she’s Native American.

4. The Trump antagonists are giving us another example of the harshness of the left’s demands. Whatever you say may be presented in the worst possible light. It seems that if anything can be portrayed as racist/sexist/homophobic, it will be, and you can be ruined in an instant in the America they have created and want to control. It’s scary.

And that, more than anything, is why you should vote for Trump.

But if we’re going to talk Trail-of-Tears genocide, note that it was perpetrated by a Democratic president, as was the internment of Japanese Americans behind barbed wire in World War Two. So if you want to avoid genocide, you should probably avoid Democratic presidents by . . . voting for Trump. Just sayin’ . . .

MICHAEL BARONE: Trump’s State of the Union was surprisingly reflective and disciplined.

“ This year,” President Trump stated in the seventh paragraph of his widely viewed and positively rated State of the Union address, “America will recognize two important anniversaries that show us the majesty of America’s mission and the power of American pride.”

“On D-Day, June 6, 1944, 15,000 young American men jumped from the sky and 60,000 more stormed in from the sea,” he said. And then in July 1969, “brave young pilots flew a quarter of a million miles through space to plant the American flag on the face of the moon.”

None of the commentators I’ve seen have questioned why Trump chose to spotlight these events. He is not usually given to historical references; even his trademark slogan is vague about just when American was great. Celebrating others’ past achievements has not been his thing. But beginning the speech by celebrating these two American triumphs provided a shrewd framing with the potential to elevate his image. . . .

The larger point made at the beginning, underlined by the appearance of three D-Day veterans and astronaut Buzz Aldrin, is a refutation, without specific mention, of an argument that underlies so much of the upscale loathing of Trump and his politics.

That is the idea—call it the cosmopolitan argument—that nationalism is always bad, a primitive and unsophisticated bias in favor of the home team, a short step (if that) from Nazism. The argument is attractive to many because it makes them feel more sophisticated than the rubes who always praise America.

But the argument is weak if you know more history. “I ask you to join with me in prayer,” Franklin Roosevelt said in his radio fireside chat on the evening of D-Day, “Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our Nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity.”

Yes, it’s nationalism, and it’s a prayer. Roosevelt mentioned allies only at the end and in passing. Trump underscored Roosevelt’s assertion that American nationalism is for the good by introducing (and leading the singing of Happy Birthday) for 81-year-old Holocaust survivor Judah Samet, recalling how, when their train “suddenly screeched to a halt, a soldier appeared. Judah’s family braced for the worst. Then his father cried out with joy, ‘It’s the Americans!”

Today, Trump argued, American nationalism continues to be benign, whether it’s trying to stop Iran’s genocidal nuclear ambitions by withdrawing from the Obama nuclear deal or it’s seeking to oust the disastrous Nicolas Maduro dictatorship in Venezuela.

This State of the Union can also be seen as a refutation of the identity politics conceit that white cisgendered males are inevitably the villains of history, ever-ready to oppress women and people of color, and that virtue inheres only in their intended victims.

That just doesn’t compute when you watch Trump’s salute of SWAT officer Timothy Matson, who “raced into gunfire and was shot seven times” and brought down the hateful murderer at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh.

There was less emphasis than many predicted on divisive issues — the border “barrier,” as Trump has taken to calling it, and abortion. On these, Democrats are at risk of getting out on flimsy limbs.

The reflection and discipline are less surprising if you’ve been paying close attention.

Related: Laurence Jarvik: Conductor In Chief.

DISPATCHES FROM THE NATIONAL FISKING LEAGUE: If you loved James Lileks’ classic “Notes from the Olive Garden” 2003 fisking of a leftwing “Grauniad” columnist trying to explain — and mock — the modern American south to his fellow British lefties, you’ll enjoy his latest “Wednesday Review of Modern Thought,” a takedown of an American leftist writing in London’s New Statesman on an even more impenetrable subject to Brits than the 21st century American south — American football. It features this passage:

The Super Bowl should be pure, or as pure as any comically overblown brand extension devise can ever be. This is not a time to squabble over our differences. It should be a time to get together, eat a whole bucket of chicken, and punch your best friend in the stomach – like God intended.

So you know we’re off to a highly authentic, nuanced start, the Internet equivalent of Alistair Cooke’s Letters from America BBC radio series. As Lileks replies:

Okay, let’s look at some more . . . Trump Trump Trump and so on. Kapernick, whose kneeling showed that “America has a persistent problem with racial inequality that we seem to have no interest in reckoning with.” Nope, no discussion on that issue. You’d think it would come up in elections and political discussions, but it’s just not a big thing. Odd.

Despite the cavalcade of horrific news stories about the rise of white supremacy in the US that bolstered Kaepernick’s thesis – from Charlottesville to the latest tragedy involving Empire star Jussie Smollett –

We’ll just leave that one there, and skip ahead a bit.

The build-up to this year’s Super Bowl has been mercifully free of political squabbling and self-righteous posturing. As much as I’d like this to be a sign that we too can move past the last three years of perpetual in-fighting, this detente is guaranteed to be short-lived. Surely, another front will open up in this rhetorical pillow fight. Maybe halftime show performers Maroon 5 will unfurl a Palestinian flag during their set. Could Patriots quarterback Tom Brady remove his jersey to reveal a “Build the Wall” t-shirt? What if the Los Angeles Rams win the game and refuse to visit the White House, then donate their championship bonus to Kamala Harris?

Dave Schilling is a writer and humorist

I’m hardly the “stick to sports” guy conservative Americans are so fond of lashing out at,

Wait a minute. Hold on. Conservatives lash out at the guys who want sports to stick to sports?

but I also would like to enjoy my Bud Light commercials in peace.

And what prevents you from doing so?

Certainly nothing this year, as Anheuser-Busch’s latest round of Super Bowl ads were consistently designed to please elite American leftists and cop Clio awards from the advertising industry (but I repeat myself). This year the ads featured ill-conceived freakouts over corn syrup, a Leonard Nimoy-esque search for both Bob Dylan and wind turbines, and, plugging Anheuser-Busch-imported Stella Artois, an ad that co-starred that legendary blue collar lager lass, Sarah Jessica Parker.

Exit quote:

The one thing right-wing bloviators are correct about is that sport is meant to be an escape. I’ve grown tired of mixing my personal ideological convictions with the simple, binary pleasures of watching two teams compete in an athletic contest.

As Lileks replies, “So don’t. Or do. No one cares. Who politicized it in the first place?”

Read the whole thing.

BUNCH OF WHITE WOMEN DRESSED IN WHITE NOT APPLAUDING DURING TALK OF RECORD MINORITY EMPLOYMENT — not a good look.

UPDATE: Seen on Facebook: “Why are all the Dem women dressed like Ralph Northam?”

Stephen Kruiser calls it “the Bleached Estrogen Borg section.”

ANOTHER UPDATE: From the comments:

MORE: Well, they didn’t stand for the minority employment, but the women stood for record employment of women. Seems kinda . . . selfish.

Trump: “Don’t sit yet, you’re gonna like this. . . ” And he gets them on their feet again, they can’t resist. This is his pivot to unity, making it hard for Dems to marginalize him with suburban women.

He’s even got the Women In White cheering “USA” now. Is there nothing he can’t do?

MORE STILL: Harsh, but fair:

STILL MORE: Here come the photoshops! (Via Facebook).

Did it just not occur to them that this would happen?

TO LIVE AND DIE IN ATLA: While many online were joking that, “If I wanted to watch guys failing at scoring for three hours, I would have just taken my buddies to the bar,” I quite enjoyed the on-field portion of the Super Bowl last night. Unlike typical 21st century Super Bowls, in which the scoreboard looks like a pinball game, last night was a titanic defensive struggle reminiscent of the Super Bowls of the early-to-mid-1970s. That was the period best summed up by the January 1976 cover of the since long dead Sport magazine, whose headline implored, “Let’s Have A Super Bowl The Pregame Show Can Be Proud Of.” Certainly, Tony Romo and Jim Nanz, while occasionally getting punchy in the announcers’ booth, did their best to make the action watchable.

If the action on the gridiron was a throwback to the NFL’s past, the commercials and halftime show were a preview of America’s Weimar-esque future. What was Anheuser-Busch thinking, when it paid for ads that believed that light beer drinkers care whether or not their favorite beer has corn syrup in it? And that they wouldn’t get called on the number of beers that Anheuser-Busch brews that contain corn syrup. Or that they’d fail to remember what anybody who drinks light beer actually does care about:

Continue reading ‘TO LIVE AND DIE IN ATLA: While many online were joking that, “If I wanted to watch guys failing at…’ »

ALL THEY HAD TO DO WAS NOT BE CRAZY, AND THEY COULDN’T EVEN DO THAT. Matthew Continetti: The Democrats Lose Their Minds.

On Monday, in a townhall organized by CNN, Kamala Harris endorsed a Medicare-for-All plan that would “eliminate”—her word—private insurance. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, employer-provided health insurance covers “approximately 152 million nonelderly people in total.” A poll last year by America’s Health Insurance Plan (AHIP) found that 71 percent of Americans were satisfied with their employer’s plan. Most Americans have health insurance, and most Americans are pretty happy with their insurance. Too bad: Kamala Harris says it’s time to “move on.”

Harris’s rival, Elizabeth Warren, has endorsed a tax of 2 percent on assets above $50 million and 3 percent on assets above $1 billion. Now, Warren would like to raise taxes on incomes, capital gains, dividends, and corporations, too. That’s just for starters. A wealth tax of the sort she has proposed—a government claw-back of property in order to make real a subjective standard of equality—would be unique in American history. It might even be unconstitutional. But hey, why worry about that when you can indulge in some light court packing?

The brightest star in the Democratic Party is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, aka AOC. The other week, in conversation with Ta-Nehisi Coates, AOC said, “I do think that a system that allows billionaires to exist when there are parts of Alabama where people are still getting ringworm because they don’t have access to public health is wrong.” Don’t worry, “It’s not to say someone like Bill Gates or Warren Buffet are immoral people.” AOC’s complaint is with the “system” that “allows” Gates and Buffet—and Schultz and Bezos and George Lucas and Mark Zuckerberg and the rest—”to exist.” Presumably, then, Gates and Buffet are safe, existentially speaking. But the “system” of relatively free enterprise that allowed them to grow rich—and finance or innovate remarkable advances in technology and productivity that have benefited the world—should be altered drastically. Hence AOC’s call for a 70-percent marginal tax rate—backed by the same genius from Berkeley who designed Warren’s expropriation of wealth—to help pay for the “Green New Deal” that will give us “a 100% greenhouse gas neutral power generation system, decarbonizing industry and agriculture and more.” Currently, 17 percent of American energy is renewable. The scale of coercion required for such a transformation would brighten any Jacobin’s day. Don’t think too hard about the details of the proposal, though. AOC says there isn’t time to worry about cost, implementation, and unanticipated consequences. “The world is going to end in 12 years if we don’t address climate change,” she told Coates. Nice while it lasted, I suppose.

AOC also has a message for Schultz, who has been the recipient of sustained, ferocious, and panicked attacks from members of his former party outraged that a moderate billionaire might spoil their plans for replacing Trump with an unreconstructed left-winger. “Why don’t people ever tell billionaires who want to run for president that they need to ‘work their way up’ or that ‘maybe they should start with city council first’? ” she Tweeted. Well, plenty of people do tell them that—I seem to recall a lack of government experience being an issue in the most recent presidential election—but if anyone has “worked his way up,” from the poorhouse to being the first in his family to graduate from college to turning a coffee shop at the Pike Place market into the global behemoth that is Starbucks, it’s Howard Schultz. I’d even go as far to say that Schultz’s company has done more for its low-wage workers than the corniest socialist dreams of AOC.

Let’s see … what else happened in the busy world of crazy … excuse me while I flip through my files … Ah yes, there was congresswoman Ilhan Omar, parroting the Kremlin-Havana-Tehran line on the democratic uprising in Venezuela, calling it “a U.S. backed coup.” A few days later, Omar, a supporter of the anti-Semitic Boycott Divestment Sanctions movement whom the Democrats have awarded with a place on the House Foreign Relations Committee, said she “almost chuckles” because “we still uphold” the Jewish State of Israel “as a democracy in the Middle East.” I chuckle—and begin seriously to worry—that someone who cannot distinguish between tyranny in Latin America and democracy in the Middle East commands such acclaim and receives such attention. Omar has former Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett in her corner. When Omar dismissed Congressman Lee Zeldin’s criticism of her views by Tweeting, “Don’t mind him, he is just waking up to the reality of having Muslim women as colleagues who know how to stand up to bullies!”, Jarrett replied, “Shake him up!” Zeldin is a Jewish Republican.

Trump has been the Great Clarifier.

YOUR DAILY TREACHER: Elizabeth Warren Finally Packs Up Her Wigwam.

Now, speaking as a cuck RINO NeverTrumper, I know I’m not supposed to admit when Trump gets something right. But he sure did get this one right. He saw Warren’s biggest weakness and exploited it. He used what Saul Alinsky called “man’s most potent weapon”: ridicule. Warren could have ignored all his taunting and teasing and trolling. Instead, she ended up doing more damage to her own campaign than Trump or anybody else ever could.

Nevertheless, she persisted. Whoops!

Read the whole thing.

JIM TREACHER: I’m About Ready to Buy a MAGA Hat Just to Spite These Child-Hating A-Holes.

Remember when wearing a MAGA hat meant you were certain to lose an election to Hillary Clinton? Remember the days before a red baseball cap became a symbol of all evil in the universe?

I’ve been typing words on the Internet to pay the bills for, I dunno, 12-13 years now. I spent eight of those years disapproving of a cult of personality centered in the Oval Office, and I’ve spent the past few years disapproving of the subsequent cult of personality centered in the Oval Office. I don’t like tribal groupthink, and I’m as immune to Trump’s charisma as I was to Obama’s, so in 2019 that means I have even fewer friends and admirers than usual.

But as we head into week 2 of the MAGA Kid Saga, I’m finding common cause with my Trumpkin brothers and sisters. Whatever our differences, I’ve always agreed with them that the media is astonishingly biased and corrupt. The abject shamelessness of our moral, ethical, and intellectual betters, the self-appointed gatekeepers of the truth, has never been more apparent than it’s been over the past week.

If you attend a march in Washington, D.C. while wearing a cheap red hat that can be purchased at any gift shop or souvenir stand in the city, there’s every chance you’ll be branded a racist for maintaining your composure while complete strangers scream at you and pound drums in your face. And even when irrefutable video evidence proves you’ve done nothing wrong, a pack of bigots with press passes will still blame you for angering them. . . . See, this is balanced journalism. Yesterday, Savannah Guthrie asked the kid who didn’t do anything — he stood stock-still and did nothing — if he thought he should apologize. Today, she asked the fraud who lied to her whether the kid who didn’t do anything should apologize. Gotta get both sides! (And I just love being lectured by Guthrie, the woman who stood by and did nothing while her co-host raped half the building.)

You know, the Kavanaugh smears charged up the GOP base, and these smears seem to be taking things to another level. I wonder how much Roger Stone paid Nathan Phillips?

THEY ARE DESTROYING THEMSELVES WITH TRUMP DERANGEMENT SYNDROME, AND EVEN THE ATLANTIC HAS NOTICED: The Media Botched the Covington Catholic Story. And the damage to their credibility will be lasting. “The full video reveals that these kids had wandered into a Tom Wolfe novel and had no idea how to get out of it.”

As have we all. Well, I have some idea.

UPDATE: Okay here’s more:

How could the elite media—The New York Times, let’s say—have protected themselves from this event, which has served to reinforce millions of Americans’ belief that traditional journalistic outlets are purveyors of “fake news”? They might have hewed to a concept that once went by the quaint term “journalistic ethics.” Among other things, journalistic ethics held that if you didn’t have the reporting to support a story, and if that story had the potential to hurt its subjects, and if those subjects were private citizens, and if they were moreover minors, you didn’t run the story. You kept reporting it; you let yourself get scooped; and you accepted that speed is not the highest value. Otherwise, you were the trash press.

At 8:30 yesterday morning, as I was typing this essay, The New York Times emailed me. The subject line was “Ethics Reminders for Freelance Journalists.” (I have occasionally published essays and reviews in the Times). It informed me, inter alia, that the Times expected all of its journalists, both freelance and staff, “to protect the integrity and credibility of Times journalism.” This meant, in part, safeguarding the Times’ “reputation for fairness and impartiality.”

I am prompted to issue my own ethics reminders for The New York Times. Here they are: You were partly responsible for the election of Trump because you are the most influential newspaper in the country, and you are not fair or impartial. Millions of Americans believe you hate them and that you will causally harm them. Two years ago, they fought back against you, and they won. If Trump wins again, you will once again have played a small but important role in that victory.

All they have to do is not be crazy. And they just can’t do that.

WELL, THAT’S THE TRUTH: Joy Behar: We jumped to conclusions about the Covington Catholic kids because we desperately want Trump out of office.

God love ‘er for betraying no shame in recognizing that the proposition that All MAGA Hat-Wearers Are Bad in this case seems to require the continued pummeling of a bunch of children. And I stress “continued.” I jumped to conclusions too when the first carefully edited clip of the confrontation emerged but it’s one thing to render judgment rashly and regret it and another to double and triple down after evidence to the contrary emerges, as some of the Lords of Tolerance have done over the past 48 hours. . . .

My thought last night was that the last thing this clusterfark needed was Trump weighing in. Every controversy he touches turns more bitter; God knows what he might say about it off the cuff to damage his own side; and it’s a bad look for him to be taking time out for something like this when the government’s shut down and federal workers are looking at another missed payday. The right has done quite well without him over the last few days prosecuting the case in the kids’ defense too, with help from Fox News. The more I think about it, though, the weirder it would be if he *didn’t* weigh in. This sort of cultural brawl is why he was elected, after all. Ann Coulter has convinced herself that it was because of the wall, but no, it’s because Trump is willing to grab the left in a headlock unapologetically whenever a nasty bar fight like this breaks out. Fans will forgive him sooner or later (spoiler: sooner) if he doesn’t get a wall but Trump refusing to throw a chair at SJWs trying to smear a bunch of kids for “the cause” really would be a “Why did we elect this guy?” moment.

Well, when you’re in a bar fight, it’s nice to have a guy at your side who realizes that you’re in a bar fight.

UPDATE: Related:

“BUZZFEED EDITOR-IN-CHIEF BEN SMITH IS HAVING A TERRIBLE, HORRIBLE, NO-GOOD, VERY-BAD DAY,” Twitchy notes; but we’ll come back to them in just a second. First up, Colby Hall of Mediaite writes, “Buzzfeed News Bombshell Reporter: No We Have Not Seen the Evidence Supporting Our Report:”

Anthony Cormier is one of the two investigative reporter at BuzzfeedNews who co-authored the bombshell report published Thursday night — a report which claimed President Donald Trump directed his former lawyer Michael Cohen to lie during Congressional testimony over discussions between the Trump Organization and Russian authorities about a Trump Tower Moscow project.

Cormier appeared on CNN’s New Day and revealed that he had not seen the evidence underlying his report.

Who is the other “investigative reporter” on BuzzFeed’s article? “One Of The BuzzFeed Reporters Behind The Trump Report Has A History Of Making Things Up” Joe Cunningham of RedState notes:

One of the authors, Jason Leopold, has quite the history when it comes to bad reporting. Most folks know of his claim that multiple sources told him Karl Rove was going to be indicted in 2006 and how it turned out to be utterly false.

But, as Columbia Journalism Review noted back then, it wasn’t his first problem with facts.

When Leopold’s story was first called into question a few weeks ago, Salon’s Tim Grieve reminded readers of Leopold’s checkered history with the publication. Salon removed Leopold’s August 29, 2002 story about Enron from its site after it was discovered that he plagiarized parts from the Financial Times and was unable to provide a copy of an email that was critical to the piece. Leopold’s response? A hysterical rant (linked above) which claimed that Salon’s version of events was “nothing but lies,” and that “At this point, I wonder why Salon would go to great lengths to further twist the knife into my back. I suppose the New York Times will now release their version of the events. I can see the headline now ‘Jason Leopold Must Die.’”

That is pretty big. But, like always in cases like this, there is more.

Read the whole thing. “There are reasons to believe there’s something to the story too, though,” NeverTrumper Allahpundit speculates at Hot Air:

Leopold, Cormier, and BuzzFeed’s editors are obviously keenly aware of the magnitude of the charge here. They’re accusing a sitting president of a crime that makes his removal from office conceivable, even with a Republican majority in the Senate. They also must be aware that we’ll know whether they were right or wrong sooner rather than later. This charge won’t hang out there forever unresolved, like Michael Cohen’s alleged trip to Prague per the Steele dossier. Mueller’s working on his report, it may be ready as soon as next month, and this claim — if true — will be a key part of it. If the report emerges and there’s nothing in there about suborning perjury, BuzzFeed’s reputation will never recover. This isn’t a case like the dossier where they’re publishing someone else’s work product with no claims as to its veracity. They’re putting their own names to it. Every political scoop they publish for the next 20 years will be challenged by citing to the Leopold/Cormier fiasco. It’s basically professional suicide unless they really do have good reason to be confident in the reporting.

And so maybe they do. We’ll know soon!

But in the meantime, back to Twitchy:Rake, meet face! BuzzFeed’s Ben Smith accidentally admits his site’s guilty of lazy ‘journalism’ [screenshots]:”

Click to enlarge.

In addition to his Freudian slip about BuzzFeed itself, that’s a pretty nasty (albeit likely unintentional) subtweet from Smith aimed at former BuzzFeed staffer Andrew Kaczynski, who has since taken his habit of “resurfacing” old news to Time-Warner-CNN-HBO.

UPDATE (FROM GLENN): Oops:

Ouch:

ANOTHER UPDATE: Shep Smith and Chris Wallace: Why haven’t any media outlets been able to corroborate BuzzFeed’s Trump story? Why, indeed?

MORE: #JOURNALISM.

STILL MORE: Yes.

Plus, from the comments: “This ‘story’ was the top of hourly radio news all damn day today. And now we hear it’s crap, straight from the godhead, Mueller. The anti-Trumpers apparently just ate a dick the size of Oumuamua. Again.”

In two successive days, Trump’s owned Pelosi and the press, without even breaking a sweat. Welcome to 2019!

MAKE THE RUBBLE BOUNCE:

I DUNNO, I’M STARTING TO THINK THAT YOU ARE:

GABBARD, CASTRO FACE THE LONGEST ODDS IN 2020 WHITE HOUSE BIDS: There was a time when some folks thought Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) brought hope of a revived moderate, independent-minded wing of the donkey party. But then she decided to run for president.

Then there’s former San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, who like Gabbard last week announced a loooonnnnnnggggg shot bid for the Democrats’ 2020 presidential nomination. He was a young, rising-star Texas Democrat. Then Beto happened.

Much more here about both Democrats (much of which you may not know). They have virtually no hope of actually being nominated, but keep an eye on both as potential veep nominees or cabinet members should whoever does get the Democratic nomination defeat President Donald Trump in November 2020.

#JOURNALISM: Press Outlets Dunk on Rand Paul for Going to Canada, Land of ‘Socialized Medicine,’ for Surgery. But the Clinic Is Private.

Some media outlets and activists are suggesting that Sen. Rand Paul (R–Ky.) is guilty of hypocrisy because he will travel to Canada for surgery related to his 2017 assault at the hands of a neighbor. Paul, after all, has warned loudly against adopting the Canadian health care system.

“Rand Paul, enemy of socialized medicine, will go to Canada for surgery,” tweeted Talking Points Memo. The tweet includes a link to a Courier-Journal story that reminds readers that “Paul has called universal health care and nationalized options ‘slavery.'” Newsweek went a similar route. . . .

Checkmate, libertarians? Nope.

Those who chuckled at this supposed irony missed a major detail, even though it was noted in the press coverage: Paul’s surgery will take place at the Shouldice Hernia Hospital in Thornhill, Ontario. The clinic is private, and run for profit; The Toronto Star’s Daniel Dale, who is from Thornhill, notes that it was “grandfathered in to Ontario’s socialized health system.”

Get beaten nearly to death by a Democrat, go for medical care, get mocked by Democratic Party operatives with bylines. And the press wonders why people hate it.

Related: Rand Paul’s attacker: ‘I lost it and became irate.’

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

Plus:

● Hillary: ‘You cannot be civil with a political party that wants to destroy what you stand for.’

● Former Attorney General Eric Holder: “Michelle [Obama] always says, ‘When they go low, we go high.’ No. No. When they go low, we kick them.”

Politico: After failing to stop Kavanaugh’s confirmation, Democrats wonder if it’s time to be more ruthless.

Democrat Doxxer Threatened To Reveal Senators’ Children’s Health Information.

DC restaurant: We’ve received death threats after Ted Cruz, wife forced out by protesters.

Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ): We Are Less Than 60 Days From Totally ‘Kicking the S–t Out of the Republicans.’

Networks Silent On Attempted Stabbing of GOP Candidate By Anti-Trump Attacker.

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) Jokes About Threatening Trump Supporters ‘All The Time.’

As a sidenote, I was disappointed to see the Knoxville News-Sentinel pushing this bogus story on Facebook.

THIS IS WHY WE CAN’T HAVE NICE THINGS: One of the fundamental elements of good journalism is “show, don’t tell.” This means that reporting facts are preferred over interpretation or characterizations. But it’s not hard to see why distrust in the legacy media is ever-rising.

“Americans blame shutdown on Trump over Democrats by wide margin, poll finds” blares USA Today. Wide margin? The poll actually shows that:

When asked, “Who do you think is mainly responsible for this situation?” 53 percent of Americans told pollsters they blamed Trump and congressional Republicans.

Three points is a “wide” margin? Moreover, the story’s kicker admits that “The poll of 788 Americans was conducted Jan. 8-11 with a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percent.” When the spread is less than the margin of error, that’s usually called a “split” or “close” race.

What more, this important fact isn’t revealed until the third paragraph. Given the fact that as many as 25 percent of American adults get their news from Facebook, and given that too many people never read past the headline, this is especially egregious. “Fake news”? No, but “Wrong” news? Absolutely.

LIZ SHELD’S MORNING BRIEF: Trump to Visit NOTACRISIS Border and Much, Much More. “Can you imagine all the things you could get out of Trump if you were willing to negotiate over that wall? If I were a Dreamer, I’d be pissed. If I were any one of the special interest groups that the Democrats claim to represent I would be angry too, here is an opportunity to get some stuff out of Trump and Chuck & Nancy are blowing it. But we all know that the Dems want Trump to lose his wall, more than they want their constituents to win.”

MEANWHILE, BACK ON THE KOREAN PENINSULA: Kim Jong Un reaffirms denuclearization commitment, vows efforts for second summit with Trump.

Dig:

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has reaffirmed his commitment to the denuclearization and vowed efforts to produce good results from his second summit with U.S. President Donald Trump, Chinese state media said Thursday.

Kim made the pledge during his summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing on Tuesday, according to Xinhua News Agency. Kim was in China for a four-day trip, his fourth visit to the neighboring ally in about 10 months.

“The DPRK will continue sticking to the stance of denuclearization and resolving the Korean Peninsula issue through dialogue and consultation, and make efforts for the second summit between DPRK and U.S. leaders to achieve results that will be welcomed by the international community,” Xinhua quoted Kim as saying during talks with Xi.

Yeah, Instapundit readers, Kim’s a Commie liar, like Angela Davis. But he’s a scared Commie liar.

So we’re on the same page, check out this column which discusses South Korea’s close encounter (inspection) with North Korea’s utterly abysmal railroad system.

In December…South Korean railroad experts conducted a close inspection of North Korean railroads. Over two weeks, a South Korean train crept along some 2,000 kilometers of North Korean track, gathering highly granular data on North Korean rail infrastructure and verifying its miserable condition.

Pyongyang wants Seoul to help rebuild its railroads. South Korea says it will — after denuclearization. Denuclearization requires inspection and verification within the secretive North Korea. Paranoid North Korea let South Korean railroad experts inspect and verify. Was it a tentative first step toward accepting the nuclear weapons inspection and verification regimen CVID requires? Perhaps 2019 will tell provide a few more clues.

CVID = Complete, Verifiable and Irreversible Denuclearization.

Where can you get more details? Yes, of course. Cocktails from Hell. Go ahead. Do it. Order now. Rejoice. Finally, reality is a sales gimmick.

SHOT: ‘It could go either way’: China and the United States ready for trade war talks in Beijing.

US-based Politico reported that US officials were expected to look closely at whether China had carried through on earlier promises. In late 2018, Chinese officials gave the United States proposals to address its government subsidies, market access barriers and intellectual property theft. Those documents, and a more recent US response, are expected to be the focus of this week’s talks.

“If Gerrish hears that the Chinese are really serious about doing some hard things, putting meat on the bones of vague commitments and willing to work with the US on verification and enforcement mechanisms, then I think you’ll see negotiations move forward at an accelerated clip,” a US industry official told Politico.

If not, “it’s going to be more difficult”, the official said.

Inside the US delegation for China trade war talks: Washington’s big guns will be absent

Observers said both sides needed to tackle the problems because the tariffs had taken a bite out of the economy, sending US stocks tumbling and adding to downward risks in China.

The stock market isn’t the “real” economy, which judging by last week’s jobs report, the business and consumers who do the actual hiring and spending are feeling much more confident than Wall Street is.

Which leads us to the…

CHASER: Apple’s stark warning may be ominous news for China.

“China’s economy is definitely slowing quite a bit across a bunch of sectors, and this slowing momentum is likely to continue for another couple of months at least,” said Arthur Kroeber, the founder of Gavekal Dragonomics, a research firm in Beijing. “And consumer confidence is definitely down, which is probably part of what’s behind the Apple numbers.”

Months after Starbucks announced a massive China expansion this year, it said that China sales would increase just 1 percent, far below those in the United States. Jaguar Land Rover briefly shut a factory in Britain after September sales in China dropped by a half. LVMH, the luxury giant that owns Louis Vuitton and has often been used as a barometer for consumer spending in China, said the Chinese were spending “a little bit less.”

Although Chinese officials report that GDP have been growing at more than 6 per cent a year for a few years, “it looks truly like some sixth grader got out their ruler and drew a straight line with a slight downward slant,” said Christopher Balding, an expert on the Chinese economy at Fulbright University in Vietnam. “It’s totally unrealistic.”

Car sales have been shrinking for the first time since 1990, when most of the country was peddling bicycles. A key manufacturing survey at the end of the year showed Chinese factory activity actually contracting. And revenue from consumption tax was down 72 per cent in November from a year ago, Balding said.

It won’t be easy going, but I suspect Trump will get most of what he wants out of Beijing, given the real weakness in the Chinese economy, and the brittleness of authoritarian regimes that stop delivering the economic goods.

ROGER KIMBALL: The Pathetic Crusade of Mitt Romney. “Many commentators noted that Romney was happy to have Trump’s endorsement when he ran for President in 2012 and, just a few months ago, when he ran for the Senate. As Tennessee State Senator Frank Nicely put it on Twitter, ‘Mitt Romney has always been there when he needs you. The American people sensed that and he lost.’ . . . Mitt Romney thinks that Donald Trump has not risen to the ‘mantle’ of the presidency. But that mantle has been denied to Trump by an establishment that refuses to countenance his legitimacy and, moreover, by implication refuses to countenance the legitimacy of those who elected him.”

Like so many of Trump’s critics, Mitt is a coward masquerading as a brave truth-teller. Mitt could have won in 2012 if he’d shown 1/10 of Trump’s ability to punch back. But he was afraid of being called a racist for going after Obama and he lost. (And they called him a racist, and Hitler, and homophobic, and everything else anyway.) And worse, Romney seems to have learned nothing from his own experience. A sad start to his Senate career.

Plus:

Donald Trump campaigned and was elected on rolling back the regulatory state. He has made a good start on that Herculean project. He campaigned and was elected on taming illegal immigration. He is hard at work attempting to achieve that. He campaigned and was elected on cutting taxes. He managed that last year. He campaigned and was elected on rolling back political correctness. He has done that through Betsy DeVos’s department of education and in other ways. He campaigned and was elected on populating the judiciary with judges who were Constitutionalists after the pattern of Antonin Scalia. He has made astonishing progress in doing just that. He campaigned and was elected on rebuilding the United States military and, with a military budget of some $716 billion, he is well on the way to accomplishing that. He campaigned and was elected on making America energy independent. We are now the world’s largest energy producer. He campaigned and was elected on helping black and hispanic minorities, who now enjoy the lowest unemployment in history. He campaigned and was elected on a promise to challenge the spread of radical Islamic terrorism. During his first year in office, he obliterated ISIS as a fighting force. He campaigned and was elected on challenging North Korea’s nuclear program and has made historic progress on that front. He campaigned and was elected on reversing China’s unfair trade practices and expansionist policies. He has made significant progress on that front as well. He campaigned and was elected on moving our Israeli embassy to Jerusalem. He did it.

Mitt Romney thinks that Donald Trump has not risen to the ‘mantle of the office.’ I’d say, on the contrary, that he has lifted the bar and then vaulted over it.

I voted for Mitt Romney in 2012. Doubtless he is a nice man. Possibly, Donald Trump is not as nice. But he won in 2016, as Mitt Romney failed to do in 2012. And his tenure has been a litany of achievement in the light of which Mitt Romney’s complaints appear not just churlish and beside the point but slightly rancid and pathetic, not unlike the establishment he embodies.

Indeed.

UPDATE: Seen on Facebook:

CHRISTIAN TOTO: Golden Globes Hosts Vow No Trump Jokes (Right…).

Let’s go through the following quotes, courtesy of The Hollywood Reporter, to share what’s spoken between the lines:

SAMBERG … Everyone is depressed [Hollywood liberals haven’t gotten over Hillary Clinton’s loss … yet!], and maybe that’s as good a reason as any that everyone could use a little time to laugh and celebrate. Not to ignore anything [I’m already hedging my bets], but we spend so much time every day wallowing in a lot of things that are happening in our world that are really depressing [like record low unemployment rates?], and with good reason — that stuff needs to be paid attention to — but there’s also power to being positive and celebratory in the tougher times as well.

OH: …I don’t really think that [getting political] is for the hosts necessarily [reciting talking points from the show producers who fear a ratings debacle]. You make it an open and safe place for whoever wants to use that platform to speak. [of course we openly encourage anti-Trump rants despite our ‘no politics’ pledge]

SAMBERG: The most memorable moments from the last two years of the Globes have been the DeMille speeches, Meryl Streep and Oprah Winfrey. [Remember when I said the show should shy away from politics? Just kidding!]

OH: …And I’m not interested in [talking about Trump] at all. What I’m interested in is pointing to actual real change.

That’s entertainment? Anyway, much more at the link.

Trump phases Arab forces into Syria vs Iran ahead of US pullout. Egyptian/UAE officers on the scene.

When Sen. Lindsay Graham said Monday, Dec. 31: “I think we are slowing things [exit from Syria] down in a smart way,” he confirmed DEBKAfile’s Dec. 22 report: “US troops will leave eastern and northern Syria, but America is not deserting this part of the country and will continue to maintain a presence after the pullout.” On Monday, the Republican Senator, who sharply criticized President Donald Trump for the troop withdrawal as a “huge Obama-like mistake,” stated: “The president assured me he is going to make sure he gets the job done.”

Our sources can now reveal the nature of that presence and the process afoot for the gradual US withdrawal. In the last few days, Egyptian and UAE military officers visited the contested north Syrian town of Manbij. They toured the town and its outskirts, checked out the locations of US and Kurdish YPG militia positions, and took notes on how to deploy their own troops as replacements. On the diplomatic side, the White House is in continuous conversation with the UAE Crown Prince Sheikh Muhammed Bin Ziyad (MbZ) and Egyptian President Abdel-Fatteh El-Sisi. The deal Trump is offering, is that they take over US positions in Manbij, where the Kurds have sought protection against a Turkish invasion, and American air cover will be assured against Russian, Syrian or Turkish attack.

Trump’s decision has been played in the media and Official Washington as the most reckless act since Napoleon decided to march on Moscow, but if Debka has the story right, this is a measured and responsible move. It’s certainly much more measured and responsible than President Obama’s “red line” fecklessness which got us into Syria in the first place. But that’s not a story that you’ll get from the media or Official Washington.

ELIZABETH WARREN’S “DUKAKIS TANK” MOMENT:

The release of her DNA test results right before the midterms is almost uniformly seen as a public relations disaster, from which she still is trying to recover. Rather than confirm the validity of her claim when she was climbing the law professor ladder to Harvard to be Native American, it turned her into a laughingstock.

Then Warren announced her candidacy on New Year’s Eve day. What were her handlers thinking? The timing could not have been worse. Perhaps they thought that in a slow news cycle her announcement would dominate the headlines in a good way. Instead, with little else going on, it gave even left-leaning media the opportunity to express doubts about her. And that slow news cycle ended up being dominated by Trump announcing on television that only Warren’s psychiatrist knows whether Warren actually believes she can win.

All those mistakes are dwarfed by what Warren did on New Year’s Eve. She went on Instagram live to drink beer in her kitchen. Seriously.

It’s obvious that she was trying to mimic Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the far-left Democrat rising star, who has made a name for herself, among other ways, by live streaming her meal preparation from her kitchen.

As Jaclyn Cashman adds at the Boston Herald, “Just hours after announcing her 2020 Exploratory Committee, with her first Iowa stop freshly booked, Warren went full Dukakis:”

Beer has a time-honored place in presidential politics. But this resident of Cambridge’s la-di-dah Linnaean Street and erstwhile Harvard elitist is really an extra oaky chardonnay kind of lady. Her poor husband was so befuddled — apparently not fully clued in on the stunt — that when she offered him one he declined. More of a 20-year-old tawny port sipper, no doubt.

The most authentic thing about the video, in fact, was its bogusness: Warren once again trying to pretend she is something she is not.

This time, an average beer-drinking American. Warren looked about as natural as former President Barack Obama in that awkward “Beer Summit” after he insulted the Cambridge cop.

Speaking of bogusness, it’s also a John Kerry moment:

The liberal firebrand pointed to her dog, Bailey, who was also in the kitchen and who accompanied her earlier in the day.

“And I went out and talked to the press, and Bailey went out — it was his first press conference — and my husband Bruce [Mann] was with me,” Warren said.

Seconds later, Warren’s apparent craving struck: “Hold on a second — I’m gonna get me a beer,” she said, as she walked out of view of the camera.

“Can I get a me a hunting license here?”

(Bumped.)

LOUIS CK’S POLITICALLY INCORRECT COMEDY DIDN’T CHANGE. YOU DID:

You might not think this kind of humor is funny, and that’s fine. Moreover, you might think Louis C.K., who initiated sexual situations with unwilling women, is a creepy person who has lost the right to joke about uncomfortable subjects. That’s also fine. But it would be silly to pretend that Louis C.K. has undergone some sort of change or deliberate pivot. He’s just doing his same old shtick.

But many in the media have seized upon the idea that Louis C.K. has suddenly became a right-winger—that his new material is some dramatic departure from his pre-scandal days as a woke comedy icon. “Audio of a New Louis C.K. Set Has Leaked, and It’s Sickening,” warns Slate, striking the tone of a nun listening to Eminem for the first time. The Daily Beast accuses Louis C.K. of “pandering to the alt-right,” which is quite the broad categorization; the tons of people—New Yorkers, presumably—who can be heard laughing in the background of the leaked footage would probably be surprised to learn that they take their cues from Richard Spencer.

I can’t recall very many people on the left complaining that Louis C.K. was pandering to pedophiles when he joked about normalizing child rape so that rapists would be more likely to let their child victims live. On the contrary, GQ placed that joke on its list of the 10 best Louis C.K. skits, hailing him as the most transgressive and celebrated comedian “of his generation.”

Those who suddenly find themselves balking at Louis C.K.’s edgy material should admit that the comedian didn’t really change. They did.

As Richard Fernandez has said, the torpedoes the left fired into the water to get Trump keep circling back on them. To the point where the left have become the far right Moral Majority of the late 1970s. Or as Michael Brendan Dougherty wrote in a piece titled “Hugh Hefner, Gangsta Rap & The Emerging Moral Majority, after Hef entered his “After Dark” mode permanently in September of 2017, on the eve of Harvey Weinstein and Louis C.K.’s fall from grace, and the concurrent dawn of the #MeToo era, “Moral concerns pop up one decade in right-wing clothes, and, in the next, change into another outfit.”

WHO COULD HAVE SEEN THIS COMING, BESIDES EVERYONE WITH A BRAIN? It Sure Looks Like This Obamacare Program Has Led to More People Dying: Under the health law, Medicare started penalizing hospitals for too many readmissions. Now mortality rates are up.

To determine whether a government program is successful, it’s often necessary to look not only at how well it does what it’s supposed to do, but what it’s doing that it isn’t supposed to. For example, killing people.

Take the hospital readmissions program built into Obamacare. The program derived from a simple observation that hospitals were treating lots of people who would then return for more treatment within the month. Unnecessary readmissions cost Medicare an estimated $17.5 billion a year. If hospitals were treating people effectively, the thinking went, those people shouldn’t need to return so soon.

So the health law instituted a Medicare payment penalty for hospitals with too many readmissions for pneumonia, heart failure, and heart attack. Since 2012, Medicare has assessed about $2 billion in penalties on hospitals with too-high readmissions rates.

Hospital groups have argued that these payments are punitive and unfair, particularly to so-called safety net hospitals that serve the poorest, sickest patients. These patients tend to have higher readmissions rates, and the hospitals that treat them were more likely to be hit with payment reductions. (Earlier this year, the Trump administration changed the penalty structure for safety net hospitals.)

But the program has often been labeled a success because it accomplished its primary goal. Readmissions dropped between 2.3 and 3.6 percentage points for the conditions targeted. Readmissions associated with other maladies dropped by 1.4 percent. The authors of one 2016 study suggested that the lower readmission rates “point to how Medicare can improve the care that patients receive through innovative payment models.” It offered proof, and hope, that with the right incentives, Medicare could save money and provide better care.

A new study appears to dash that hope, at least as far as readmissions are concerned.

The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) and conducted by by researchers associated with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical and Harvard Medical School, looked at hospitalizations between 2005 and 2015. It found that “30-day post-discharge mortality”—the number of people who died within a month of leaving the hospital—increased for heart failure patients after the readmissions penalty program was implemented.

But remember, if you opposed ObamaCare, it was because you wanted people to die. All the best thought leaders said so.

A FRIEND ASKED ME WHY I HAVEN’T POSTED ANYTHING YET ON LAST FRIDAY’S ANNOUNCEMENT BY THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION THAT IT IS RESCINDING THE NOTORIOUS OBAMA-ERA SCHOOL DISCIPLINE GUIDANCE: Well … I meant to. But I wanted first to take a moment or two to celebrate.

I suspect many teachers and principals are celebrating too. Polls showed the guidance, which applied disparate impact liability to school discipline, was unpopular with teachers.  Rescinding it will make their classrooms more orderly, and it will also ensure that  students—of all races—will be treated more fairly. When teachers and principals are in control of discipline, the decisions they make will be a lot more sensible than when distant bureaucrats are telling them what they have to do.

Doubtless there will be more pushback in the media about this. Even before the guidance was rescinded, the New York Times was already defending the Obama Administration’s policies by saying they were “adopted after strong evidence emerged that minority students were receiving more suspensions and tougher punishments than white students for the same or lesser offenses ….”

This actual evidence of discrimination is astonishingly thin. It’s true that African American students are disciplined more often than white students (and that white students are disciplined more often than Asian students). But upon thorough examination it turns out that the teachers who refer students for discipline are not flaming racists who make up out of thin air offenses by minority students. Rather, it’s a question of which students are misbehaving.

I have been working on getting this policy reversed for over eight years. (Yes, even before the rescinded guidance went into effect, the Obama Department of Education was going after schools whose policies led them to discipline African American students at disproportionate rates. I had the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights investigate.)

I’ve posted it before, but if you want to understand the issue, read The Department of Education’s Obama-Era Initiative on Racial Disparities in School Discipline: Wrong For Students and Teachers, Wrong on the Law .

THE JANET COOKE OF HAMBURG. WAPO: A reporter’s dispatch from Trump country featured a ‘Mexicans Keep Out’ sign. But he made it all up.

What motivated [Claas] Relotius to lie? “It was the fear of failure,” he reportedly told editors at Der Spiegel, confessing that the pressure had grown as his career took off. After the 2016 election, his editors suggested that he write about Trump voters in rural America, and made plans for him to rent an apartment in Fergus Falls. But once he got there, the article failed to come together, Der Spiegel editor Ullrich Fichtner wrote:

When asked about the Fergus Falls story, he admitted that he knew perfectly well that the editors wouldn’t have reprimanded him if he had dropped the whole thing. “I think,” Relotius said last week, “a normal person would have said: ‘Listen, this just isn’t working. I’m stuck and we can’t do the story.’” But Relotius is evidently no normal person. “I tend to want to have control,” he said, “and I have this compulsion, this drive, to somehow make it happen. Of course, you don’t make it happen. You make a fabrication.” When he says “you” here, he can only mean himself and no one else.

According to Anderson, however, there was a story to be found in Fergus Falls. It just may not have been the one that Relotius was looking for. What he had overlooked, she wrote on Wednesday, were the community programs supporting local artists, the excellent coffee shop, and all of the residents who traveled to Washington for the Women’s March, planted Black Lives Matter signs in their yards and wept when they realized that Trump had been elected.

“This is just a hunch, but it seems to me that Relotius’ overseas readers might appreciate knowing that small American towns are more complex than they imagine — that die-hard liberals like me can still magically live alongside conservative Republicans — that sometimes we even find some common ground and share a meal together, and take the time to try to understand each other’s viewpoints,” she wrote.

You mean, we’re not all socialists now, as the Washington Post once pretended?

(Classical allusion in headline.)

UPDATE (FROM GLENN): Remember James Lileks’ epic takedown of a foreign report from a Birmingham, Alabama Olive Garden shortly after 9/11? They’ve always got the story pre-written before they talk to anyone.

SHOWMANSHIP: Wall funding to be State of the Union demand, direct challenge to Pelosi.

Anxious over the image of shutting down the government four days before Christmas, the White House and congressional Republicans shifted the budget fight over border wall funding to February to make it the focus of President Trump’s State of the Union.

With the administration under fire in some conservative quarters for “caving in” after making repeated threats to shut the government down Friday if a deal for more wall funding wasn’t cut, officials Wednesday afternoon pushed back, claiming it is part of a broader plan to heighten the war with Democrats over securing $5 billion for border security.

“It’s not a retreat, it’s actually a bigger attack,” said a Trump adviser.

The shutdown date was pushed back to Feb. 8, after Trump is scheduled to give his State of the Union to a joint sitting of Congress. It is always the biggest speech of the year.

“The date after the State of the Union gives the president the biggest visible platform,” said another source familiar with the agreement cut today. “This positions us to have the fight when we have the most visibility,” added the source.

Yes, but you won’t have a GOP House anymore. Then again the GOP House you have now hasn’t been any good on this either. I suppose this makes sense if you figure Trump wants a victory — or even a defeat — on the wall to be a 2020 presidential campaign issue, not a midterm issue.

THERE ARE CERTAIN TOWNS IN MINNESOTA I WOULD ADVISE YOU NOT TO INVADE MAKE UP FAKE NEWS: Don’t Mess with Fergus Falls.

In 2017, the German magazine Spiegel sent a reporter to Fergus Falls, Minn., to write a story about Deep Trumplandia.

Unfortunately for Spiegel, Fergus Falls residents Michele Anderson and Jake Krohn read the story (which is no longer available, for reasons you’ll discover below), and wrote a stunning exposé on all the things he got wrong. “Got wrong” is too benign a characterization. The reporter, Claas Relotius, just made things up.

* * * * * * * *

How on earth did Relotius think he was going to get away with this stuff? Truth is, prior to the Internet, he probably would have, given that few if any of the town’s residents would have seen the article, which flatters the prejudices of liberal Europeans, and if they had seen it, who would have heard their protest?

There’s a happy ending: Spiegel fired Claas Relotius today for being a lying liar who has lied about more than Fergus Falls. 

Read the whole thing.

(Bumped.)

VARIOUS TAKES: Trump Courts Catastrophe If He Leaves Syria.

If You Support Democracy and the Rule of Law, You Should Applaud Trump Getting the Hell Out of Syria.

I don’t know what I think, though it’s amusing to see the people who cheered Obama’s disastrous withdrawal from Iraq dragging Trump here. And the two aren’t comparable: Iraq was in good enough shape in 2010 that Obama’s operation was bragging about it, while Syria is still a mess. America had a huge investment in Iraq, and had made a difference, which was squandered on withdrawal. We have no such investment in Syria, and it’s not clear how much of a difference we’ve made, other than killing a few hundred Russian “volunteers,” which was admirable for the message it sent but made no major difference on the ground.

When Obama wanted to send large numbers of troops to Syria, basically no one here at home wanted to do it (except John McCain), and then Putin talked him out of it, so Obama let Russia in. We still wound up with a couple of thousand there, but the mission and strategy are unclear. And the “moderate” Syrians seem to mostly be Al Qaeda. So it looks like a mess, and a fairly low-stakes mess at present compared to other problems; Syria seems more like a quagmire for Putin than a win. This is especially true as the Middle East matters less now that the U.S. is a net oil exporter and the world’s largest oil producer. (Have you hugged a fracker today?)

So I can’t get too excited. Am I missing something? If so, tell me in the comments.

UPDATED: This was in the revered Weekly Standard: “Obama has accommodated leaders hostile to America, like Vladimir Putin in Russia and Bashar al-Assad in Syria.” But now we’re hearing — from people who praised Obama’s foreign policy skills — that it’s Trump who’s a Putin puppet. I’m willing to be convinced that pulling out of Syria is a mistake, but you’re going to have to convince me. You can’t just yell about Putin because that cuts more ways than you think.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Here’s what may be driving a US troop withdrawal from Syria. “A confrontation between the U.S and Turkey, officially NATO allies, would create a geopolitical crisis at the heart of the world’s most powerful military alliance.”

I say, give the Kurds a few nukes to even the odds with Turkey, and say goodbye. We probably have a few of the old Soviet backpack models stashed away somewhere.

CARRIE LUKAS: CHECK YOUR PROGRESSIVE PRIVILEGE.

Progressives are constantly checking their “white privilege,” but what about ideological privilege? Particularly for women, the prevailing assumption is that you aren’t normal unless you’re a liberal Democrat. Conservative women aren’t only left out, but increasingly stigmatized.

Women’s magazines and news outlets depict women who vote Republican as deviants. Vogue headlined a postelection commentary “Why Do White Women Keep Voting for the GOP and Against Their Own Interests?” The Guardian asked: “Half of White Women Continue to Vote Republican. What’s Wrong with Them?” The latter article asserted that “white women vote for Republicans for the same reason that white men do: because they are racist.” Barbra Streisand claimed “a lot of women vote the way their husbands vote; they don’t believe enough in their own thoughts.” Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama and Madeleine Albright have all expressed similar sentiments in public.

Progressive women see their intellectual and political leaders glamorized in glossy magazine photo spreads and celebrated on daytime TV talk shows. Conservative female policy makers are invisible, if they’re lucky. Glamour’s 2018 Women of the Year included gun-control activists and anti-Trump celebrities, along with California Sen. Kamala Harris. No recognizably conservative woman made the cut.

Progressive women enjoy the benefit of the doubt when they say insensitive or prejudiced things. Mrs. Clinton recently joked that two black men “look alike.” No conservative could get away with such a remark.

College administrators tout the value of diversity. Yet the National Association of Scholars “could not find a single Republican with an exclusive appointment to fields like gender studies” among 8,688 tenure-track professors at 51 top liberal-arts colleges.

Far-left activists next month march on Washington again under the banner “the Women’s March.” The media will present them as simply “women”—as if women with other views don’t exist.

Rooting out bigotry isn’t easy. The first step is to recognize the prejudiced messages that make their way into the public square. A truly fair and inclusive society would include positive, aspirational images of conservative and libertarian women as well as liberal ones. It wouldn’t marginalize women for their ideology or politics any more than it would exclude women based on race, age, looks or sexual orientation.

Indeed, but “a truly fair and inclusive society” is not the actual goal, nor has it ever been.

I STILL CARE, BUT I’VE BASICALLY GIVEN UP ON GETTING ANYONE ELSE TO: Ballooning debt harms our youth, but Trump doesn’t care — and neither does anyone else.

This piece reminds me of the late Insta-Dad’s prophetic take on the TARP bailout: “The bad thing is that the federal government has figured out that it can borrow a lot more money than it previously thought.”

DANIEL MCCARTHY: The Case for Trump is Stronger Than Ever.

Look—what has really happened this past week is that Flynn, supposedly a key figure in the collusion conspiracy (after all, he talked to the Russians about sanctions during the presidential transition), has come through Mueller’s inquiry without being recommended for a jail sentence. He lied to investigators, which is a procedural crime. But Mueller apparently did not find anything more serious that would justify a prison term. Treason usually gets you at least that much.

Liberal pundits who have no way of knowing what’s going on inside Mueller’s investigation insist that Flynn’s virtual acquittal is actually really bad news for the president because it means Flynn is cooperating. Robert Mueller says so, and a federal prosecutor would never fib or hype his investigations in a politicized manner. What cooperation may mean, if anything, is anyone’s guess. But again, the president’s critics don’t need to guess: they know, with all the passion in their partisan hearts.

And that’s why the New Democratic Congress won’t be able to help but overplay their hand.

Related: Top House Democrats raise prospect of impeachment, jail for Trump.

AND JOURNALISTS WONDER WHY NOBODY BELIEVES THEM NOW? Journalists lauded former Attorney General Jeff Sessions for recusing himself from all matters involving the investigation of allegations of collusion between 2016 Trump campaign aides and Russian interests in order to avoid even the appearance of conflicts of interest.

But what about the mainstream media’s conflicts of interests? Journalism ethics dictate that journalists never make themselves part of the story, but, as the Last Refuge’s Sundance makes clear, there have been more than a few reporters who made themselves part of “The Resistance” to President Donald Trump, via the FBI and Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his staff.

Virtually all of the major mainstream media players are involved in this kind of ethical corruption, but Exhibit A is the meeting first reported by Sara Carter of federal prosecutor Andrew Weissman with four AP reporters to discuss the investigation of former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort.

As Sundance writes, “later it was revealed that Andrew Weissman, Robert Mueller’s #1 special counsel prosecutor, was coordinating investigative efforts with the full support of four AP reporters who were giving Weissman tips.  That’s information from journalists to use in his court filings and submitted search warrants.  Make sure you grasp this: The AP journalists were feeding information to their ideological allies within the special counsel.”

Put another way, instead of getting information from their sources to be reported to the public, it appears that these AP operatives effectively made themselves researchers for Mueller’s operation, via a federal prosecutor long known to have committed serious violations of judicial ethics.

They joined the team they were supposedly covering.

No wonder Sundance asks:

“Think about a New York Times, CNN, New Yorker, Wall Street Journal, Mother Jones, Yahoo News or Washington Post journalist now having to write an article deconstructing a foundation of two-years worth of lies they participated in creating. Do we really think such a catastrophic level of corrupted journalism could reconstitute into genuine reporting of fact-based information?”

Not gonna happen.

IN THE ATLANTIC, THE DEATH OF THE AMERICAN RESTAURANT: “The dining experience is becoming less sociable and more atomized, even as old conceptions of public life wear away,” as explored by Rebecca Spang, “Director of the Center for Eighteenth-Century Studies at Indiana University.” It’s a fascinating article, until the bad orange man caused her to politicize its conclusion.

When men and women heckle Trump administration figures in restaurants, they are trying to claim restaurants as part of the public sphere of confrontation, debate, and political action. When others respond negatively, they show that they’ve internalized the idea of restaurants as sites of private consumption. In a way, confrontations such as these are an exciting development—a challenge to the depoliticization of public, commercial spaces (and of commercial interactions) affected over much of the 19th and 20th centuries. They are also alarming, since one can imagine such protests leading to the disappearance of any putatively public spaces whatsoever.

As a leisure activity, going out to eat was always more or less about showing off, about making a public statement of private good taste. Why do it if you no longer care about others’ opinions or suspect their opinion may be that you are a fascist, communist, or other enemy of the public good? Wouldn’t it be so much simpler to order online?

Somehow, I don’t think she’d be equivocating between “exciting” and “alarming” if Obama or Clinton officials were attacked in public restaurants. And note this earlier passage:

In his essay “On Refinement in the Arts,” the philosopher and historian David Hume traced a similar logic, positing that improvements in production (what we today call the Industrial Revolution) and ideas (the Enlightenment) would necessarily spur greater sociability. What was good for one was good for all. “The more these refined arts advance,” Hume wrote, “the more sociable men become … enriched with science, and possessed of a fund of conversation … both sexes meet in an easy and sociable manner; and the tempers of men, as well as their behaviour, refine apace … Thus industry, knowledge, and humanity are linked together by an indissoluble chain.”

Since the death of Michael Kelly in 2003, who oversaw one of the very few remaining opinion magazines with both leftist and conservative authors sharing the same issue, the Atlantic has worked very hard to atomize the culture and break down cultural norms. Including this charming bon mot on the weekend of the death of the last president in office who had served in combat during WWII:

Classy — I can’t decide if Foer’s tweet is “refined” or “sociable.”

WE HAVE THE WORST POLITICAL CLASS IN OUR HISTORY: Michael Barone: Who’s to blame? Weak leaders, weak institutions, weak voters?

In the wake of the midterm elections, conservative analyst Yuval Levin saw no winners. “It is the weakness of all sides, and the strength of none, that shapes this moment.”

You can see what he means. President Trump hasn’t gotten everything he wanted — no Obamacare repeal, not even the wall — from the Republican House of Representatives. And on one issue or another he’ll probably get something from Nancy Pelosi’s Democrats he couldn’t get from Paul Ryan’s Republicans.

Now, maybe House Democrats will overplay their hand and help Trump win re-election in 2020. And maybe Democrats, faced with a crowded field of presidential candidates, will choose an unelectable nominee.

But even though Republicans gained Senate seats and are in good shape to confirm conservative judges, Trump is weakened by the results. Republicans lost just about every House seat he carried in 2016 by 5 percent or less. And he got only 46 percent of the popular vote.

Do the math. Forty-six minus five is 41. No way a 41-percent candidate gets 270 electoral votes in a two-way race.

It doesn’t have to be this way. CNN analyst Harry Enten points out that Trump’s job approval on the economy at this point is the second highest of recent presidents. But his overall approval is the second lowest. The obvious advice: Behave in a more dignified manner.

But Trump is not alone among national leaders in behaving in a way that makes him weaker than he might be. It seems to be a common, though not quite universal, ailment.

Yep. Macron, Merkel, and May are all more unpopular, with good reason.

STEVE SCALISE: No forgiveness for shooter, Trump ‘motivated’ recovery.

Rep. Steve Scalise is a good Catholic who won the prayers of many church leaders as he recovered from a bullet fired by an angry liberal while he and his Republican baseball team practiced in June 2017.

“God was there on that ball field and he performed little miracles to save all of our lives,” said the Louisiana lawmaker, who fought death off several times with deep prayer and determination.

“The shooter was dead set on taking everybody out and would have been successful if not for the miracles of God and the acts of heroism on the ball field,” he added.

But while he is a faithful follower of Jesus, there is one Christian teaching that he is not ready to accept when it comes to the shooter, James Hodgkinson of Belleville, Ill.

“At some point I’ll have to deal with the issue of forgiveness,” he said in an interview, “but for now I’m focused on my recovery.”

Scalise has written in a new book, Back in the Game, about the difficulty of recovering and seeing three others shot.

He said in the interview that knowing that police shot and killed Hodgkinson helped him focus on getting better. “Because he ultimately didn’t make it, it made it easier to close that chapter and to focus on my recovery,” said Scalise, the GOP whip.

And eventually he might consider forgiveness. “It’s something to struggle with. I’m Catholic. I’m probably not there yet. That’s something I’m going to have to work with my priest on,” he said with a laugh.

For now he’s focused on thanking everybody who helped in his comeback, especially President Trump who, with first lady Melania Trump, visited Scalise on the night he was hit with the bullet that would shatter bones and rip through vital organs.

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

Plus:

● Hillary: ‘You cannot be civil with a political party that wants to destroy what you stand for.’

● Former Attorney General Eric Holder: “Michelle [Obama] always says, ‘When they go low, we go high.’ No. No. When they go low, we kick them.”

Politico: After failing to stop Kavanaugh’s confirmation, Democrats wonder if it’s time to be more ruthless.

Democrat Doxxer Threatened To Reveal Senators’ Children’s Health Information.

DC restaurant: We’ve received death threats after Ted Cruz, wife forced out by protesters.

Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ): We Are Less Than 60 Days From Totally ‘Kicking the S–t Out of the Republicans.’

Networks Silent On Attempted Stabbing of GOP Candidate By Anti-Trump Attacker.

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) Jokes About Threatening Trump Supporters ‘All The Time.’

RICHARD FERNANDEZ ON LEFTY BATTLEFIELD PREP FOR 2020. New Dem Tactic: We Were Thinking What Trump’s Been Saying All Along.

This is how Trump will fade. Democrats will simply say they were thinking the same thing all along. “In an interview with the Guardian, [Hillary Clinton] the former Democratic presidential candidate… suggested immigration was inflaming voters and contributed to the election of Donald Trump and Britain’s vote to leave the EU.”

“I think Europe needs to get a handle on migration because that is what lit the flame,” Clinton said, speaking as part of a series of interviews with senior centrist political figures about the rise of populists, particularly on the right, in Europe and the Americas.

It is true that Democrats have been saying what Trump has been saying all along. You just have to set the Wayback Machine a quarter of a century or so backwards to hear them — 1993 for Harry Reid and 1995 for Bill Clinton. And then something changed…

UPDATE (FROM GLENN): With Latinos in general looking more Trump-friendly, and with analysts saying that Puerto Ricans in Florida may have elected Rick Scott, the Dems might start sounding like 1993 Harry Reid again.

PAST PERFORMANCE IS NO GUARANTEE OF FUTURE RESULTS: CNN’s Kirsten Powers declared all Trump supporters to be racist this past Friday.

Speaking with the chyron “Why Trump Resonates With White Women” below her on “CNN Tonight” with Don Lemon, Powers said Trump’s racist rhetoric from his campaign to the present was too vast to summarize as she assessed white women who support the president.

“They’ll say, ‘Well, I’m not racist. I just voted for him because, you know, I didn’t like Hillary Clinton,'” the former Clinton administration official said. “And I just want to say that’s not—that doesn’t make you not racist. It actually makes you racist. If you support somebody who does racist things, that makes you racist. So, I just want to establish that.

Powers was a bit more nuanced in 2014, when she was a liberal employed by Fox News:

In their latest video, as Noah Rothman writes at Mediaite, RCP’s Carl Cannon takes Kirsten Powers of Fox News out for a spin, which produces this interesting moment:

Cannon began by asking Powers how she is treated by her Fox colleagues. He recalled that New York Times’ conservative columnist David Brooks was not well-received when he first started writing for the Times and asked if Powers had encountered a similar experience.

“People are really nice at Fox,” Powers revealed. “It’s been good for because I – before that, I lived in a real liberal bubble.”

“All my friends were liberals and I grew up in a really liberal family,” she continued. “I had a lot of ideas about conservatives and then I got to Fox and just, I was like, ‘Oh, they’re not all evil and stupid.’”

I realize she’s speaking glibly and off-the-cuff, but the inference is that on some level, Powers actually did believe that all conservatives are evil, thus butting up against fellow Fox News pundit Charles Krauthammer’s law of politics from over a decade ago. “To understand the workings of American politics, you have to understand this fundamental law: Conservatives think liberals are stupid. Liberals think conservatives are evil,” Krauthammer wrote in 2002.

And Powers is back to believing that all conservatives are evil — at CNN, she’s safely back in the bubble.

Related: A Cold Winter for White Women.

IT WAS MORE A CASE OF SUICIDE: Stormy Daniels: Politics and Donald Trump Have ‘Completely Destroyed’ My Career. But you know, when you get in bed with Michael Avenatti, there’s not going to be a happy ending.

NINA BOOKOUT: Ted Olson Is Wrong, It’s About Acosta’s Behavior NOT The First Amendment.

The press functions as a guild. It’s not defending the First Amendment — and it’s happy to flush your First Amendment rights — it’s defending guild privileges.

In the unlikely event Trump loses this suit, he should move the press room across the street to the New Executive Office Building. There’s no constitutional right to a place in the White House, though I suppose you could probably get Breyer and Sotomayor to hold otherwise. The modern-day White House press conference is just another bad idea dating back to Woodrow Wilson. Just remember what I keep saying about Trump — the Trump era is marked by the renegotiation of all sorts of post-war institutional arrangements. A wiser press corps wouldn’t be bringing their cushy setup up for renegotiation, especially over Acosta’s theatrics, which have nothing to do with journalism.

Related: James Freeman: Acosta Privilege: Does the First Amendment require the President to listen to a partisan and inaccurate lecture?

This is not an accurate rendering of what happened. A video recording of the event shows that after four reporters took their turns asking questions, the President called on Mr. Acosta, who made it clear that he would not simply be asking questions and seeking information as reporters do but intended to provide a rebuttal to recent comments made by the President. “I wanted to challenge you on one of the statements that you made in the tail end of the campaign—in the midterms,” said the CNN commentator.

Mr. Acosta mentioned Mr. Trump’s characterization of the immigrant caravan making its way through Mexico as an “invasion.” At this point Mr. Acosta did not ask a question but simply issued a declaration. “As you know Mr. President, the caravan was not an invasion. It’s a group of migrants moving up from Central America towards the border with the U.S.,” said the CNN correspondent.

So instead of simply serving as a reporter Mr. Acosta chose to offer commentary—and according to standard dictionaries he was wrong. The large group of immigrants had crossed illegally into Mexico and plainly intended to illegally enter the U.S.

Mr. Acosta may think that an invasion must include a military force but Mr. Trump’s use of the word is common. Merriam-Webster defines invade as “to enter for conquest or plunder,” but also “to encroach upon” or “infringe.” Other dictionaries have similar definitions, such as “to intrude” or “violate.”

Having wrongly asserted that the caravan could not be called an invasion and wrongly asserted that Mr. Trump knew he was saying something untrue, Mr. Acosta then asked why Mr. Trump had done so and if he had “demonized” immigrants. Yes, Mr. Acosta was now asking a question, but doing so while demanding that the President accept a false premise.

Mr. Acosta then interrupted the President as he tried to answer. Then Mr. Acosta editorialized again:

“Your campaign had an ad showing migrants climbing over walls and so on. But they’re not going to be doing that.”

Is Mr. Acosta now a spokesman for the caravan? After another interruption, Mr. Acosta insisted on continuing to talk after the President called on a reporter. Then Mr. Acosta fended off a White House intern as she attempted to retrieve the microphone to allow others to ask questions.

The First Amendment prevents the President or anyone else in the federal government from restricting the ability of citizens to report and publish. Does it also require the President to listen to ill-informed lectures for as long as the lecturers choose to speak? Obviously if everyone had the right to refuse to surrender the microphone at press conferences the result would be fewer members of the press corps having an opportunity to ask questions, not more.

But there’s something special about Mr. Acosta and about CNN, at least according to the lawsuit.

And we’re back to the guild thing again.

Plus: Bob Woodward criticizes CNN’s Acosta lawsuit, says media’s ’emotionally unhinged’ about Trump.

CIVIL RIGHTS UPDATE: House Democrats plan aggressive gun control effort next year.

Gun control proponents are buoyed by the takeover of the House. Democrats ousted at least 15 House Republicans who had an “A” rating with the National Rifle Association with candidates who received an “F” rating, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Calif., told the Journal on Friday that he plans to introduce legislation that will mandate universal background checks. Thompson is chairman of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force.

Among the incoming Democrats is Lucy McBath, who defeated Rep. Karen Handel, R-Ga. She was a former spokeswoman for the gun control group Everytown for Gun Safety backed by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The group spent $38 million during the 2018 election cycle, compared to the NRA, which spent $20 million.

I’m pretty sure this is how you get more Trump, but how about a few less anti-gun nuts in Congress?

YOU WERE EXPECTING INTELLECTUAL INTEGRITY?:  Boston Globe Defends Mobbing of Jewish Republican.

So now comes Tom Mountain, a Jewish Massachusetts Republican official who, on Friday, November 2 was blocked from his own office by a group of Democrats wearing Jewish prayer shawls while chanting that Republicans are the party of White Nationalism and are responsible for the mass murder of Jews in Pittsburgh. Mountain, understandably annoyed, told reporters that these people were “a disgrace to the Jewish people” and “an embarrassment to this country.” The mob of Democrats refused to let him through and the police had to physically haul them off.

Globe headline? “Mass. GOP official calls Jewish protesters ‘a disgrace’ and an ‘embarrassment.’”

Had the Globe any integrity at all, they would have reported – in either the headline or the lede – that Mountain himself is a Jew.

Jews have always been famously internally disputatious, going back at least to the Maccabean era, when more traditional Jews emerged victorious over Hellenizers in the war that led to the restoration of Jewish rule in Judea under the Hasmoneans now celebrated during Hanukkah. The Holocaust and the emergence of Israel created a few decades of general solidarity, but the reaction of left-wing Jews to a massacre of Jews by a neo-Nazi in Pittsburgh–to blame American Jewish Republicans, and, bizarrely, Netanyahu and Israel, complete with calls in mainstream outlets to excommunicate Trump supporters, suggests that those days are over.

Mainstream Jews of moderate liberal to moderate political proclivities, a majority of American Jews, are going to have to choose between the modern-day Hellenizers whose actual religion is a pastiche of left-wing cliches, and those who are loyal to something akin to traditional Judaism. I don’t doubt the traditionalists will win in the end, if only because they are producing far more Jewish progeny per capita than are left-wing secularists. Unfortunately, in the meantime the leftists are proceeding to destroy formerly mainstream American Jewish institutions. The small denomination known as Reconstructionism, once the most intellectual branch of American Judaism, has devolved into a theological joke, much larger Reform Judaism is on the brink, and the once-respected (albeit liberal-leaning) Anti-Defamation League has become a center of partisan progressive hackery. I’ve been sounding apocalyptic about this lately, but let me repeat: a Neo-Nazi murdered eleven Jews, and the immediate and continuing reaction of a very vocal segment of American Jewry has been to use the occasion to attack fellow Jews.

THE DEMOCRATS’ BETO PROBLEM:

O’Rourke made no attempt to disguise his extremism during the campaign.

Like his funding, his ideas seemed to come straight from La-La-Land. He said he was open to the idea of abolishing ICE. He supports Medicare for All. He talked up gun control while opposing armed security officers in schools, an idea that enjoys 87 percent support in Texas. He praised NFL players who knelt during the national anthem. He openly called for impeaching President Trump, a position so tactically deranged that even Nancy Pelosi shies away from it. If he had simply pretended to swing right on such matters these past few months, he might have done what Barack Obama did: won over lots of moderates while liberals remained certain he was one of them. If you find yourself trying to win an election in Texas while swerving well left of Nancy Pelosi, you’ve become high on your own supply.

That’s the Democrats’ problem: They get so giddy about the next JFK that they don’t see the reality. Why should they? They live in enclaves where everyone is liberal. They get their information from media outlets in which illegal aliens are simply “migrants.” Within the bubble, everyone thought O’Rourke was a great candidate. The magazine profiles! The money pouring in from starstruck admirers! The shredding on a skateboard! The shredding on a guitar! By mid-October O’Rourke had raised an insane $70 million–plus and was outspending Cruz by two to one. Yet as a Politico pre-postmortem put it last weekend, “Democratic minds will want to know, what did he do with that $70 million? Why wasn’t he barraging persuadable Republicans with mail and phone calls and door knocks? . . . Did he consciously avoid playing on their issues, determining it was more profitable for his political future to lose as a liberal than compete as a moderate?”

Well, possibly. Could the Democrats really think they would fool the voters by repeating their 2006 pose as right-leaning moderates only to become Nancy Pelosi’s crash-test dummies?

LIZ SHELD’S MORNING BRIEF: We Are Never, Ever, Ever, Campaigning Together and Much, Much More. “What a night. I slept in 20 minute increments most of the night/morning but I caught the most shocking part of the election live because it happened early: Fox News made a call that the Democrats won the House around 9pmET. WHY? How many people were still voting? At the very least the west coast voters were still going to the polls. At the time, the Democrats had only picked up 2 seats, can you imagine hearing that on your way to the polls if you live west of New York City? What a horrible, horrible decision FNC, shame on you. Rumor is the never-Trumpers run the news division at the network. Indeed.”

ANALYSIS: TRUE. David French: The Democrats Haven’t Earned Your Vote.

Democrats claim that now is a critical time for public hygiene. It’s time to hold corrupt, self-aggrandizing politicians accountable. I agree.

Ask your Democratic candidate if he or she is willing to publicly condemn New Jersey senator Robert Menendez — tried for public corruption and admonished by the Senate Ethics Committee for doing favors for a wealthy contributor in exchange for lavish gifts — the way that so many conservatives condemned (and ultimately rejected) Roy Moore.

Democrats claim that now is the time to reject the politics of personal destruction. They look at a president who calls people names, who spins out wild conspiracy theories (Ted Cruz’s father participated in the Kennedy assassination? Really?), and they demand better. I agree.

Look at your Democratic candidate’s actions regarding Brett Kavanaugh. Did they credit facially implausible gang-rape allegations? Did they presume his guilt and declare they “believed survivors” even without substantiation and in the face of contradictory evidence? Did they participate in a campaign to destroy a man’s life and career, only to drop the whole matter the instant he was confirmed?

Democrats decry Republican extremism and alarmism. They look at wild claims about the border caravan, wasteful troop deployments, and alarmist rhetoric about criminals and Middle Easterners. They condemn family separation. They decry Trump’s “enemy of the people” rhetoric. They believe that Trump and his allies are dangerously raising tensions in the American body politic. I agree.

Ask where your Democratic candidate stands on Hillary Clinton’s rejection of civility, Cory Booker’s call for protesters to “get up in the face of some congresspeople,” Eric Holder’s declaration that “when they go low, we kick them,” or Maxine Waters’s ominous demand that “if you see anybody from that cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd and you push back on them, and you tell them they’re not welcome anymore, anywhere.”

And while you’re at it, ask your Democratic candidates if the challenge of Donald Trump is so grave that they’re willing to moderate their positions on abortion, immigration, health care, gun rights, or religious liberty even in the slightest to win your support.

Hey, it’s a crisis of democracy, but it’s not that serious.

AND IN CASE YOU WONDER, YES, IT’S INTERNATIONAL SOCIALISM, IN LATIN AMERICA, WITH MONEY FROM MISGUIDED IDIOTS, PLOTTING AGAINST OUR SOVEREIGNTY:  Examining the Migrant Horde- Pt 2—The Power Behind the Horde by Bill Reader.

Fuentes is described as a “Honduran Lawmaker” by Reuters and a “Social Activist” by NBC. I would call that an intentional mischaracterization. Let me add a couple of things from the Daily Beast article that explain that in more detail. First, his involvement in prior “caravans”: “When Fuentes first became aware of small groups dispersed throughout Honduras that were organizing among themselves to make the trek north, he decided to help out, just as he had done with a previous migrant caravan last April—and indeed throughout his life”. So, this wasn’t just nondescript social activism, but someone who has deliberately and repeatedly assisted specifically with illegal immigration. Now, let me sweeten the deal with the other interesting fact— ” … Bartolo sought refuge in Mexico himself after receiving threats. Central America’s right-wing death squads were notorious and his earlier participation in protests against the U.S.-backed Contras, who used his country as a staging ground in their CIA-backed war on Nicaragua’s Sandinistas, made him a potential target.”. I find that fascinating. Those “death squads” were often as not “revenge squads”. That he had a target on his back makes it likely a more apt description for Mr. Fuentes would be “Honduran Socialist”.

Go and read the whole thing so you’re prepared when the next political theater shoe drops.

MY FRIEND BILL HAS DONE A SERIES OF POSTS ON THE MIGRANT HORDE FOR MY BLOG. IN THE LATEST TWO HE DID A DEEP DIVE INTO THE LOGISTICS OF THE THING AND WHO ORGANIZED IT.  FROM YESTERDAY’S POST:  Examining the Migrant Horde- Pt 1—Planes, Trains or Automobiles? by Bill Reader:

Sources for the bona-fides of the dates of arrival are provided, though at this point it’s more or less a matter of record. First things first. The caravan started in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. Sources vary slightly on the exact day they set off, with Fox and USA Today saying the 12th, and Daily Mail saying the 13th. By October 23rd, according to USA Today, they were interviewing people passing through Huixtla, Mexico. We also know that the caravan didn’t take the very shortest route per GoogleMaps, because some of the places noted in the NBC photo-essay—Quezaltepeque, Guatamala, and Chiquimula, Guatemala—are on a slightly more southern route. All told the distance traveled in 12 days—and that’s being generous, counting from the 12th, counting the full day of both the 12th and the 23rd as travel days, and ignoring that the caravan seems to have stalled out for almost a full day when it hit the border starting on the 18th— was 471 miles. That’s a pace of nearly 40 miles a day.

For comparison, I decided to research about how fast a trained infantry unit—notable for not carrying 5 year olds—can go in a day. This discussion on Quora puts a foot march at a 12-20 miles a day on the low end for infantry, with some elite units being able to move about 50 miles a day in full combat gear on good roads. This correlates well with a separate discussion here, which states: “The average soldier should be able to walk at a speed of 6.5kph for 20km carrying 32kg (LBE, pack & rifle)…”. 20 km is about 12 miles, and the same source states that “Humans can easily walk over 20 miles per day without tiring, even when carrying moderate loads and without much conditioning.” Remember, that’s half the speed this group is going by even the most conservative estimates. This simple estimate is consistent with the average speed worked out by the Daily Mail. That essentially random, lower-class Latin Americans, including women and children, would march about the double the distance that humans can easily accommodate, and indeed faster than the average trained infantry unit day-over-day, is suspicious as is, and points to the influence of vehicles being significant.

Read the whole thing, if nothing else so you have the necessary facts to beat friends and relatives to the ground when they talk about all those brave women and children walking all these distances only to be met by our army.

Also, when the inevitable pregnant woman gets “shot by our military” as a propaganda coup by the left, you can roll your eyes really loudly.

DAVID WOLPE: The Misguided Rabbis Of Twitter: Calls to excommunicate pro-Trump Jews are not simply wrong. They’re poison.

So when I see major American Jewish figures tell me that my congregants are illegitimate, my blood boils a little bit. After the tragedy in Pittsburgh, perhaps because I spend so much of my time at the bedside of the sick and dying, I expected that the first impulse of Jews in particular would be to simply offer messages of sorrow and condolence.

It’s what I imagined I would read when I opened “A prayer for Squirrel Hill— And for American Jewry” from Franklin Foer, whom I know somewhat and have always respected. Instead, I read this: “Any strategy for enhancing the security of American Jewry should involve shunning Trump’s Jewish enablers. Their money should be refused, their presence in synagogues not welcome.”

In other words, more than half of my Shabbat morning congregants, and in some more traditional synagogues, almost all of them, should have the doors barred against their entry. Jews who make minyans, pay shiva calls, underwrite nursing homes and kindergartens — people who make Judaism possible, with their flawed but real human presence, for other people — should be cast out of our midst because of the levers they pull in the privacy of a voting booth. And what, after all, would a Jew who fled from Iran know about anti-Semitism — or protecting the Jewish community?

As Shabbat ended in Los Angeles, a city where in 1999 there was a terror attack against a Jewish Community Center, I saw this from another reporter whose work I have always esteemed very highly, Julia Ioffe: “And a word to my fellow American Jews: This President makes this possible. Here. Where you live. I hope the embassy move over there, where you don’t live was worth it.”

The calculation here, I suppose, is that people voted for Trump to get an embassy move and their vote proxy murdered other Jews. How careful should one be, should a distinguished reporter be, when accusing others of such enormities, even indirectly? How do people think this message will fall on the ears of those who fled from Iran, to be told that they are in fact guilty in the death of Pittsburgh’s Jews?

Or — even more shamefully — on the ears of Judah Samet. Mr. Samet, a Holocaust survivor, escaped death by 4 minutes because he was a little late to shul. He is also a strong supporter of Trump. Frank, Julia: Would you stand before this 80-year-old man, not in a tweet or online piece, but face to face, and tell him he is responsible for the death of his friends, the people with whom he prays each Shabbat? Would you bar him from the shul where he almost died, again, at the hands of Jew haters? Really? And that would make us the righteous ones?

For some, righteousness just means whatever advances the leftist cause at the moment.

POINT TO REMEMBER: So far terror attacks tied to Obama Chicago pal Bill Ayers have killed more people than the evil bombs mailed by Cesar Seyoc. And the unrepentant Ayers had the rampant stupidity to say he should have detonated more bombs. (The New York Times, September 11, 2001: No Regrets For A Love of Explosives. This is 100 megaton irony.)

Alan Dershowitz has noticed this absolutely essential point:

The entire episode [[Seyoc’s bombs]] brings back painful memories of the Weathermen and other radical left wing organizations that planted bombs in the 1970s. The Weathermen and other radical leftist groups targeted universities, army bases, police officers, banks, and other establishment places and people. The death toll was considerable, and the fear was palpable. At about the same time, the Black Panthers, the Symbionese Liberation Army, and other radical leftist groups terrorized the United States.

So far no one has tried to glorify the arrested person responsible for the recent pipe bombs. Although President Trump has condemned the alleged perpetrator, it would not be surprising if some right wing extremists took perverse pleasure and pride in the attacks on the left wing icons. This is different from how some liberals glorified the Weathermen, Black Panthers, and other hard left terrorists. Left wing lawyers, who would never defend an accused right wing terrorist, rushed to represent these radical groups, while prominent liberals contributed to defense funds and attended fundraising parties. Films, books, plays, and articles sought to understand the motives of these young murderers.

Years later, Barack Obama befriended Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn, who had been active members of the Weathermen and supporters of violent terrorism. Both Ayers and Dohrn were invited to teach at well known American universities, as was Kathy Boudin, who had served a long prison term for participating in a terrorist inspired robbery that resulted in the deaths of two police officers and one armored guard and seriously injured another guard.

MORE:

The Ku Klux Klan was a violent radical group with significant support from political figures and ordinary citizens. During the first decades of the 20th century, left wing anarchists planted bombs and engaged in other forms of violence that killed many innocent people.

The Ku Klux Klan was a Democrat terrorist organization created after the Civil War — to RESIST!. In the 20th century the KKK was the militant wing of the Democratic Party, mostly in the South but not solely. It existed to intimidate — like Antifa. Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV), a Democrat lion of the Senate beloved by Bill Clinton, was a KKK grand kludge benighted fleagal frothing whatever. (If you recall his actual title, mention it in the comments.)

As for the Dershowitz essay — read the whole thing.

WE KNOW WHY: Why Did NBC News Sit on Evidence Discrediting a Kavanaugh Accuser for Weeks?

The Republican-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee recommended anti-Trump attorney Michael Avenatti and his client Julie Swetnick to the Justice Department for possible criminal charges on Thursday. Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley noted that in multiple public statements, Swetnick and Avenatti contradicted the sworn statement they provided claiming that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh ran a gang-rape-party ring in high school.

What was a very bad day for Avenatti got worse when NBC News reported hours later that “NBC News also found other apparent inconsistencies in a second sworn statement from another woman whose statement Avenatti provided to the Senate Judiciary Committee in a bid to bolster Swetnick’s claims.”

It was very good reporting by NBC News. But it was also reporting based on interviews conducted three weeks ago, with no clear indication of why the outlet chose to sit on it. . . .

But per the newest story, these are the details NBC News knew for a fact during the Kavanaugh debate, and chose not to report:

  • On September 30, Avenatti forwarded an anonymous woman (I’ll call her Woman B) to NBC claiming she could corroborate Swetnick’s story. On the contrary, she said of the punch spiking “I didn’t ever think it was Brett” and when asked if she ever witnessed Kavanaugh act inappropriately towards women replied, “No.”
  • On October 2nd, Avenatti publicized a sworn statement from an unnamed woman claiming she had “witnessed firsthand Brett Kavanaugh, together with others, ‘spike’ the ‘punch’ at house parties I attended with Quaaludes and/or grain alcohol” and he engaged in “inappropriate physical contact with girls of a sexual nature.”
  • The same day, Avenatti confirms to NBC News that the woman is Woman B.
    On October 3rd, Woman B tells NBC she only “skimmed” the statement she made to Congress.
    The same day, when asked about the discrepancies, Avenatti suddenly backtracks and claims the woman is not Woman B.
  • On October 4th, Woman B texts NBC: “It is incorrect that I saw Brett spike the punch. I didn’t see anyone spike the punch … I was very clear with Michael Avenatti from day one.”
  • The same day, when asked about her denials, Avenatti responds, “I have a signed declaration that states otherwise together with multiple audio recordings where she stated exactly what is in the declaration. There were also multiple witnesses to our discussions.”
  • Five minutes later, Woman B texts NBC: “Please understand that everything in the declaration is true and you should not contact me anymore regarding this issue.”
  • Minutes later, NBC calls again, and Woman B again reiterates she never saw Kavanaugh spiking punch or being sexually inappropriate.
  • On October 5th, she texts NBC: “I will definitely talk to you again and no longer Avenatti. I do not like that he twisted my words.”
  • Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed October 6th. At the time of his confirmation, there was a sworn statement before Congress indicating that the Supreme Court nominee was a sexual assailant and drugged women. As far as the Senate and public knew, there was nothing indicating that statement was false.

    NBC News knew that it was false. Four days earlier, they at least had enough to report that Woman B had changed her story. And days before that, they knew that one of the witnesses that Swetnick alluded to could not “attest to the truthfulness” of her allegations as she claimed in her sworn statement.

    What gives? One gets the impression that had Grassley not moved to recommended Avenatti for criminal charges, NBC News would have continued to sit on the story.

    MICHAEL BARONE: Will ‘burly men’ stop the Democrats’ blue wave?

    Do they live in two different worlds? White college graduate women favor Democrats over Republicans in House elections, 62 to 35 percent. White noncollege-graduate men favor Republicans over Democrats in House elections, 58 to 38 percent.

    Those results are from a Washington Post poll conducted only in 69 seriously contested congressional districts, 63 of them currently held by Republicans. The numbers in other polls are only slightly different for these two groups.

    They all tell the same story. These Americans live in the same relatively small slices of America (average population about 750,000), not many miles away from each other. But they take very different — often angrily different — views of where the nation is headed and on sensitive issues. . . .

    It’s not that white college women are diehard Keynesians and white noncollege men supply-siders. People tend to tailor their economic theories to partisan preference, not vice versa. But the economic policies of the last two administrations and concurrent trends have had — and were intended to have — very different effects on white college women and white noncollege men.

    President Barack Obama’s 2009 stimulus package was heavily tilted toward college women. As my American Enterprise Institute colleague Christina Hoff Summers wrote in The Weekly Standard in June 2009, the Obama economic team’s original idea was to finance infrastructure, construction, and manufacturing, sectors which lost 3 million jobs in 2007-09.

    But feminist groups objected. Obama economist Christina Romer, Summers wrote, recalled that her first email “was from a women’s group saying, ‘We don’t want this stimulus package to just create jobs for burly men.’” So Obama ditched his “macho” stimulus plan for one stimulating creation of jobs in government and especially in education and healthcare, which had gained 588,000 jobs during the 2007-09 recession. Forget the bridge-building and electric grid modernization; let’s subsidize more administrators, facilitators, liaisons.

    The results were disappointing. Sputtering growth nudged up toward 3 percent and down toward zero, which is what it was during the last quarter of the Obama administration. Administrators outnumbered teachers in higher education but added little value; government payrolls were sheltered from cuts, temporarily. There was little recovery in blue-collar jobs, and millions of men lingered on the disability rolls. Life-expectancy fell among downscale groups amid a rise in opioid dependency and deaths.

    The trajectory of the economy — and the beneficiaries — seem different in the Trump presidency so far. Growth is more robust, obviously, though some economists thought this was impossible, and the the biggest gains are, in contrast to the last 30 years, in blue-collar jobs and downscale earnings.

    Yep. You know, if Obama had stuck with his instincts on infrastructure, he could have cemented Democratic rule for a generation. But when he caved to the feminists, he planted the seeds for the Trump revolution.

    FLOTUS: Melania Invited Ellen Producer to Kindness Event After His Cynical Tweets.

    After Andy Lassner, a producer for The Ellen DeGeneres Show, tweeted the other day that he’s “way more afraid of another Melania getting in to this country than” he is of the thousands of migrants in the caravan marching towards the U.S. border.

    First Lady Melania Trump’s office tweeted him an invite to her gathering of children at the White House to talk about kindness and screen the movie Wonder.

    You can guess how this man child responded.

    The First Lady deserves far more positive press than she’ll ever receive.

    JOEL KOTKIN: One Nation, Two Economies.

    Over the past few decades, the U.S. has developed essentially two economies. On the one side is the widely celebrated “post-industrial” economy: software, entertainment, media, and financial and business services. These sectors flourished as the stock market soared in the ultra-low interest-rate environment fostered by the Obama administration, whose recovery strategy was built around bailing out major banks, all headquartered in deep-blue cities. The winners under Obama included urban real estate, financial-service firms, and the tech oligarchs. These elements now constitute the Democratic Party’s burgeoning financial base, allowing it consistently to spend more than the GOP in key congressional races, while the GOP still gains support in energy and other less heralded “legacy” industries.

    There’s a glitter gap between the parties, too. The Democrats now own the fashion, media, literary, and entertainment communities, in the process turning the putative party of the common man into the political vehicle of the leisure class. In contrast, during the depth of the recession, a much larger, more dispersed America struggled. As traditional industries like manufacturing, energy, agriculture, home construction, and basic business services declined, the progressive clerisy in forums like Slate crowed that these blue-collar jobs were never coming back. Unlike the tech oligarchy or the financial giants, these older sectors wielded little political influence under Obama and, in the case of energy, seemed destined for a radical downsizing.

    These heritage industries and the people who work in them elected Trump. Despite repeated tales of how tariffs are destroying manufacturers, the industrial sector, after weakening at the end of Obama’s term, has been enjoying its best growth since the mid-1990s. Critically, incomes are up for the lower deciles of the labor force, including young workers. Nothing guarantees that this recovery will continue, but Trump can justifiably boast about accomplishing what Obama failed to deliver in eight years. Democrats might mutter that renewed growth has come from regulatory reforms and big corporate tax breaks, but that makes Trump’s point: a continuance of Obama-style economic and regulatory policy would have hurt most Americans outside of Wall Street and Silicon Valley.

    Despite the media’s national obsession with gender and race, American politics continues to follow broad geographic and economic lines. The battle lines have changed over time, from a conflict between coastal merchants and southern farmers to splits over tariffs between western farmers and eastern financiers, and eventually to the battle between an ascendant Sunbelt and struggling older states in the northeast. Today we have a new divide, what might be described as the “tangible” sector versus the ephemeral; the French Marxist economist Thomas Piketty has aptly called it “the brahmin left against the merchant right.” One economy trades in digits, images, and financial transactions, the other in real goods such as cars, steel, oil, gas, and food. These economic sectors have often radically different imperatives.

    The Bay Area economy, for example, depends on noncitizens for as much as 40 percent of its workforce, including relatively cheap, work-visa-shackled, latter-day indentured servants from Asia. This explains why Trump’s travel ban and other, often crude or insufficiently justified moves on immigration have helped transform Silicon Valley into a one-party political goldmine. This software-dominated economy, along with its cousins in Hollywood and finance, also is far less exposed to regulatory excesses than firms in manufacturing, home-building, or energy. Tech servers can be located in low-cost regions like the Pacific Northwest or the South, while manufacturing, highly sensitive to environmental regulation and electricity prices, has been relocated to places like Texas or the Midwest—or preferably to China—so that firms can produce gadgets without expanding their localized “carbon footprint.”

    Any return to Obama’s energy policy—or the even more extreme one enacted in California—could set back the economic recovery in much of the country, most notably Appalachia, but also across the energy belt that extends from the Permian Basin and the Gulf to the Bakken fields in North Dakota. Even Democratic Texas senate candidate Beto O’Rourke, who in the past supported a $10 a barrel tax on oil, has a tough task justifying his position in oil-rich Texas.

    The tangible and ephemeral economies create distinct political trajectories. In Texas or Tennessee, for example, working-class people can get decent jobs and aspire to homeownership and other aspects of middle-class life. Historically, Democrats and Republicans in these regions favored robust economic growth, battling mainly over how to achieve it. But today, a pro-growth bipartisan consensus is increasingly elusive, as Democrats adopt the environmental and lifestyle preferences of their often childless urban base. Superstar firebrands like Democratic congressional aspirant Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez can talk about going on a war footing to fight global warming because there’s not much industry left in her district in Queens and the Bronx.

    Childless.

    ROSIE GOES FULL SEVEN DAYS IN MAY: On MSNBC, Rosie O’Donnell Suggests Military Coup Against Trump:

    Ultra liberal 9/11 truther Rosie O’Donnell used her platform as a guest on Thursday’s edition of MSNBC’s Deadline: White House to trash the President, whom she described as “evil” and “dark.” O’Donnell suggested orchestrating a military coup against the President in addition to claiming that his “wet dream” involves scaring journalists into “not printing bad news about him, which is also equivalent to the truth about him.”

    In August, former comedienne turned far left activist Chelsea Handler called for “a military coup to overthrow Trump,” the New York Post reported.

    Glenn’s 2016 paper on military coups in the United States just keeps getting more timely!

    HYSTERIA IS EVERYWHERE: I’m trying to read the new Michelle Goldberg column in the NYT, “A Cure for Political Despair/Join the women trying to save America from Trump,” but it’s so hysterical and melodramatic.

    Plus: “I’m just imagining one of these women coming to my door. I mean, I don’t answer the door, because I’m picturing all sorts of characters I don’t want to interact with, and now I have one more on my list. It’s a woman who’s been experiencing nonstop panic who believes the way to deal with her raging insanity is to get out and about knocking on doors. I am never answering the door again. Now, it’s not just the kid selling bad peanut brittle and the environmental activist with the clipboard, it’s the freaked out lady who thinks talking to me is some kind of cure for the churning stomach knots.”

    UPDATE: From the comments: “Reality doesn’t satisfy their emotional needs, so they make up stories and decide to believe them. But their narcissism requires that the stories be about them, and their boredom requires that the stories be dramatic. This is what you end up with. People in a permanent state of imaginary drama.”