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LIZ SHELD’S MORNING BRIEF: The Letter Heard ‘Round the World and Much, Much More. “Pelosi and the Democrats figured they could just blame Trump for the shut down, but it’s Pelosi and the Democrats who won’t come to the table. Pelosi took off during Christmas for a luxury Hawaiian vacation, her party went on a party trip to Puerto Rico and now she and her harpies were hitting the road for a week on an international trip. Does it sound like the she wants to find an agreeable compromise to open the government up?”

#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.

BYRON YORK: Trump plan would improve current border situation.

The department has already announced where the barriers would go. There would be five miles in the San Diego Sector, 14 miles in the El Centro Sector, 27 miles in the Yuma Sector, nine miles in the El Paso Sector, 55 miles in the Laredo Sector in Texas, and 104 miles in the Rio Grande Valley Sector in Texas.

In all, counting work that is done, being done, and planned, the administration would build 330 miles of new barrier, 150 in areas with no barrier today.

All of it is a project that, in a less crazy time, might be the subject of bipartisan approval. Indeed, as the White House is fond of pointing out, bipartisan majorities in Congress voted in favor of an extensive border barrier back in 2006.

Politics aside, the bottom line is that even the relatively short lengths of barrier the Trump administration is building will do good. Just look at some of the fencing made from rusted steel helicopter landing mats from the Vietnam era. The administration is replacing it with imposing barriers that will discourage illegal crossings. That’s a net plus.

And there is no doubt such barriers work. In San Diego, for example, a barrier has made a tremendous difference. “In the 1980s, migrants overran the border and the Border Patrol,” the San Diego Union-Tribune reported in 2017. “Thousands gathered nightly on a small slice of the border … there, men, women, and children waited for nightfall before making their passage.” In 1986, agents apprehended an astonishing 629,656 illegal immigrants in the San Diego area.

When U.S. officials constructed one barrier, and then another, that number fell dramatically; by 2015, apprehensions fell below 30,000.

Now, the flow of migrants presents a new and different problem. While smaller than several years ago, it is largely made up of families and unaccompanied children who have no valid claim to asylum but who cannot, by U.S. law, be returned to their home countries. As long as those migrants can freely cross the border, they can stay in the United States — a situation that will attract more and more illegal immigration.

The president’s proposal, which in addition to a barrier contains provisions for more immigration judges, more Border Patrol agents, more detention beds, more medical resources, and more technology, would improve the situation. If the political debate were not being fought at such an extreme pitch, that might be obvious to all.

The main thing is, the Dems don’t want Trump to have a win on his signature policy, because they figure that will cement his re-election. Everything else is noise.

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.

LIZ SHELD’S MORNING BRIEF: Trump Wants a Steel Barrier and Much, Much More. “Suspects arrested in murder of 7-year-old girl and it’s…. not who you’d think. This story got a lot of attention, much more than the children that are regularly shot in Chicago. But that was because race-hustlers like Shaun King, aka Talcum X, thought it was a white person who shot and killed little Jazmine Barnes.”

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.

DESTRUCTIVE PARTISANSHIP: White House warned Dems gunning for ‘anything and everything Trump.’

“Look, bold, new majorities overreach. We did, and they will. This is especially true in wave years like 2018, with 63 — I think it is — new Democrats. They will definitely have this problem, especially with the progressive-socialist wing of their party. They’ll have to satisfy their hardcore base. So what does that mean? It means that they have to take quick action on things like Net Neutrality, the Green New Deal, and Medicare for all, or their base will go into complete meltdown,” Walden explained.

And that, he added, could help Republicans in the next election in 2020.

“The American people will want results. If the Democrats yield too much to their progressive activists, then how will their grand plans ever make it through the Republican Senate or across the president’s desk? You need to legislate and enact laws. To succeed at legislating, one does have to do more than satisfy the most extreme in the crowd,” said Walden.

“If they go too far, 2020 might look a lot like 2010. After all, some 33 Democrats are now in seats that President Trump won. And while the Democrats did a marvelous job at recruiting candidates, most rode the wave named ‘check and balance.’ They’re going to need legislative results — not government shutdowns,” he added.

Well, stay tuned.

LIZ SHELD’S MORNING BRIEF: Nancy Says No $$ for the Wall and Much, Much More. “WH spokesman Hogan Gidley said about the meeting, ‘What [President Trump] wants on his desk is a bill that opens the government, that funds the government and protects the American people. And right now, the Democrats are not serious about that. And you know they’re not serious because serious people with serious plans and serious proposals don’t negotiate in the press. And that’s all that Democrats have done to this point’.”

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.

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.

FLASHBACK: Byron York: When Democrats embraced the ‘Southern Border Fencing Strategy.’ “Name any Democrat who is in the Senate today who was there for that 2013 vote — Schumer, Durbin, Murray, Baldwin, Bennet, Blumenthal, Brown, Cantwell, Cardin, Casey, Coons, Feinstein, Gillibrand, Hirono, Kaine, Klobuchar, Leahy, Manchin, Menendez, Merkley, Murphy, Reed, Sanders, Shaheen, Stabenow, Tester, Warner, Warren, Whitehouse, Wyden — name any, and they voted for the bill that included the Southern Border Fencing Strategy. . . . Today, Democrats will not even support a relatively small amount of money, $5 billion or even less, to build a portion of the barrier Trump wants.”

UPDATE (From Ed): “[B]ack in 2016, the U.S. government gave San Diego a bit more than $1 billion to extend its trolley line,” Jim Geraghty of NRO notes, adding that “President Trump said he would soon travel to the border and showcase what’s been built, and what needs to be built.”

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 .

ROLLING STONE: Trump has no idea what he’s doing in the Middle East, but neither does the Establishment in wanting to continue our wars there.

You’ll hear all sorts of arguments today about why the withdrawals are bad. You’ll hear Trump has no plan, which is true. He never does, at least not on policy.

But we don’t exactly have a plan for staying in the Middle East, either, beyond installing a permanent garrison in a dozen countries, spending assloads of money and making ourselves permanently despised in the region as civilian deaths pile up through drone-bombings and other “surgical” actions.

But, you know, maybe Trump does have some idea of what he’s doing:

Saudi Arabia and the UAE have sent military forces to areas controlled by the Kurdish YPG group in north-east Syria, Turkey’s Yenisafak newspaper reported.

The paper said the forces will be stationed with US-led coalition troops and will support its tasks with huge military enforcements as well as heavy and light weapons.

Quoting the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the newspaper reported that a convoy of troops belonging to an Arab Gulf state recently arrived in the contact area between the Kurdish PKK/YPG and Daesh in the Deir Ez-Zor countryside.

This comes at a time when Ankara is preparing to launch an expanded military operation with the Free Syrian Army against the Kurdish PKK group in the northeast of Syria.

Furthermore, a Jordanian official reports that Russian forces currently in Syria will take action to restrain Hezbollah and Iranian activity there, according to understandings reached by the U.S., Israel, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

How about that?

IT’S LIKE THERE’S NOBODY IN THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE WHO ACTUALLY WANTS TO SEE PEOPLE HELD ACCOUNTABLE FOR POLITICAL MANEUVERING: John Huber, Justice Dept. Sheriff Who Never Quite Rode Into Town.

John Huber has developed almost mythical status among pro-Trump tweeters since former Attorney General Jeff Sessions directed him to investigate why the FBI spied on Trump’s aides and whether they protected Hillary Clinton and her foundation over alleged misdeeds. They hoped the Salt Lake City-based prosecutor would aggressively expose the malfeasance that has already led to firings and resignations among the bureau’s top brass.

Instead, more than a year since his appointment, Huber’s lack of traction on either front is leading many once hopeful supporters to dismiss his investigation as a “sham.”

RealClearInvestigations has learned from potential witnesses, their lawyers and others close to the investigations, that Huber has not impaneled a federal grand jury to subpoena witnesses or hear evidence.

They are puzzled as to why he has failed to interview key witnesses – such as disgraced FBI officials and Trump advisers targeted by them, as well as Clinton Foundation whistleblowers — who could shed light on whether FBI and Justice Department officials misused their power when they obtained spy warrants to monitor Trump adviser Carter Page; or whether such officials turned a blind eye to millions of dollars in foreign Clinton Foundation donations influencing Clinton’s official decisions as secretary of state. Even when whistleblowers have reached out to Huber, offering reams of evidence, his office has not followed up, they say.

I didn’t used to see the Department of Justice as a politicized cesspit, but I kinda do now.

CONFESSIONS OF A ‘SOULLESS TROGLODYTE’: How My Brooklyn Literary Friendships Fell Apart in the Age of Trump.

Over time, I seized on Jamie’s stories to help explain the chasm between the giant Jamie I idolized in Brooklyn and the shrunken Jamie who stood before me. There was a political undercurrent: The idea of Jamie as a victim of not just the circumstances of his own household, but also systemic racism more generally, seemed very much in keeping with America’s history of persecuting black boys and men.

“Forget them,” I said, referring to the members of Jamie’s unsupportive workshop. “Let’s start our own.” My futile MFA attempt behind me, I imagined the two of us engaging with the books we loved back in our childhood, in an environment free of social friction. Rather than nibble at the edges of style or craft, we could interrogate the moral choices made by enduring characters in history’s great novels: Why was it wrong to kill old women in Crime and Punishment? Who was this Gatz before he became Gatsby, and what was it that really motivated him? Together, we could trace the contours of the divine in Isaac Bashevis Singer and Flannery O’Connor, or the specter of war in John Cheever and Walker Percy; we could expose madness in Chekhov’s placid stories and Santiago’s courage in The Old Man and the Sea. A hopelessly old-fashioned reader, I wanted us to revisit Hamlet, the saddest moral clown of them all, as well as Chaucer’s lustful pranksters, no less juvenile than Jamie and I once had been on Brooklyn’s streets.

“Let’s start with Lolita,” I said.

But Jamie said that Lolita bored him after the first few sentences, so he stopped reading: “Maybe it was a bad translation.”

It brought me no joy to have to tell him that while Vladimir Nabokov was a Russian émigré who wrote his first nine novels in his native tongue, the later Nabokov of Lolita fame was one of the great prose stylists of the English language. What followed was a contentious exchange in which it became clear that Jamie has never read or finished many of the great books that I held dear. When I asked, in all sincerity, how he could teach writing to college students, he shot back by rejecting my beloved texts as artifacts of white, male European hegemony.

It wasn’t long before tirades against the Western canon—against my use of terms such as “Shakespearean” or “Dickensian” in reference to Ralph Ellison and Zora Neale Hurston—spilled over onto Facebook pages, where they turned personal, especially after I critiqued Ta-Nehisi Coates’ politics of nihilism and doom.

“I take offence to that as a man of colour,” Jamie wrote in response.

Identity politics are destroying the left’s ability to reason. Long but well worth a read.

(Via Maggie’s Farm.)

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.

IT’S A MADHOUSE, A MADHOUSE! Perez nixes ‘undercard’ debates for 2020 primary.

With the prospect of upward of 20 Democrats running for president in 2020, Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez announced on Thursday that the party would split up candidates by random selection and host debates on consecutive nights if there were too many candidates.

The decision will allow the DNC to avoid attempting to fit the expected bumper crop of candidates on one stage or sorting debate appearance by polling numbers.

Perez said he didn’t want any voters to feel that the party was toying with the debate or debate schedule to help out certain candidates. “The critical imperative is making sure everyone feels their candidate got a fair shot,” Perez said. He said the logistics of dealing with so many candidates is a “first-class challenge to have.” The committee did not say how many candidates constituted too many for one stage.

Putting the fringe candidates in with the more mainstream contenders (I’m being generous with the word “mainstream”) might exacerbate something I wrote about here yesterday: “Primary election pandering to small groups of niche — and I do mean niche — voters could end up being a real turn-off for the Obama-to-Trump voters who decided the last election.”

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.

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.

BLESS HIS HEART: Andrew Sullivan Still Misses The Anointed One. Bruce Bawer spots Andrew’s latest dalliance with Godwin’s Law:

As he often does in his New York column, Andrew moved on from Trump to other topics. At the end, he mentioned the recent film Darkest Hour, about the five days in May 1940 that ended with Winston Churchill, the newly installed prime minister, refusing any accommodation with Hitler and giving the famous “blood, toil, tears, and sweat” speech in which he vowed to fight the Nazis “by sea, land and air, with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us.” Andrew says that the film brought him to tears, because it shows “how the people of Britain shook off the moral decadence of the foreign policy of the 1930s, how, beneath the surface, there were depths of feeling and determination that we never saw until an existential crisis hit, and an extraordinary figure seized the moment.” I foolishly thought, for a moment, that Andrew was then going to turn to Britain today, where members of UKIP and Anne Marie Waters’s For Britain and the followers of Tommy Robinson are shaking off the moral decadence of their leaders’ immigration policies and standing up against the Islamization of their country. Of course I was wrong: for Andrew, the film was a tear-jerker because:

I yearn for something like that to reappear in America. The toll of Trump is so deep. In so many ways, he has come close to delegitimizing this country and entire West, aroused the worst instincts within us, fed fear rather than confronting it, and has been rewarded for his depravity in the most depressing way by everything that is foul on the right and nothing that is noble.

I want to believe in America again, its decency and freedom, its hostility, bred in its bones, toward tyranny of any kind, its kindness and generosity. I need what someone once called the audacity of hope. I’ve witnessed this America ever since I arrived — especially its embrace of immigrants — which is why it is hard to see Trump tearing migrant children from their parents. That America is still out there, I tell myself, as the midterms demonstrated. It can build. But who, one wonders, is our Churchill? And when will he or she emerge?

There it is, amid all the familiar calumnies about Trump feeding fear and tearing children from parents: “what someone once called the audacity of hope.” Andrew is referring, of course, to Obama, whose second book carried that title.

But in 2007, Andrew wrote a blog post headlined “The Weimar President,” during the DNC-MSM’s non-stop Reductio ad Hitlerum in the last years of Dubya’s presidency. As I wrote at the time:

I can only guess that Andrew believes that President Bush is an elderly figurehead leading a weakened but relatively benign quasi-socialist administration suffering the ravages of hyper-inflation and that Hillary, Obama or whoever his successor is, is the next Hitler, about to install a terribly malevolent war machine and concurrent massive welfare state?

So from Andrew’s reckoning, isn’t Trump more akin to Konrad Adenauer? Funny how it’s always the second, and now third coming of the Third Reich, whenever there’s a Republican in office, according to the conservative’s conservative.

LIZ SHELD’S MORNING BRIEF: Flynn, Cohen Sentencing and Much, Much More. “Just to remind you, Mike Flynn was urged (by the fired, anti-Trump Andrew McCabe) not to bring an attorney to his meeting with FBI agents. And this: “McCabe also wrote in the memo that he and other FBI officials decided before the meeting that Flynn would not be warned ahead of the interview about the penalties of lying to the agents. McCabe noted that ‘they wanted Flynn to be relaxed’ and ‘were concerned that giving the warnings might adversely affect the rapport.'” HOLY CIVIL LIBERTIES BAT MAN!”

AND TODAY THE ROLE OF PAULINE KAEL WILL BE PLAYED BY ANDREA MITCHELL:

What I undervalued about Donald Trump in the primaries is that I had never watched “The Apprentice.” I had never watched reality TV. I did not know that he had millions and millions of fans out there. I didn’t know that that base existed. I thought he was not a serious candidate. I did not know that the single most important and visited tourist attraction in all of New York City were people taking selfies in front of Trump Tower. I always thought it was the Statue of Liberty, or the Empire State Building, or 30 Rock.

Meanwhile, fellow Chuck Todd, who works alongside Brian Williams and Al Sharpton (and Andrea Mitchell) is complaining of gaslighting:

“I knew the gaslighting was out there. I knew it was every day,” Todd said. “But I think there was part of me in my head assumed people were discerning it out, knew the BS from the non-BS. So, I think what my sort of shock to the system was just sort of how gullible a big chunk of the country was to this and gullible because maybe they want to be gullible.”

Todd, the Democratic operative with a byline, began his career in politics as a Democratic operative for former Sen. Tom Harkin, who also knows a thing or two about gaslighting.

(Classical reference in headline.)

BYRON YORK: Ten Questions For James Comey.

Some Republicans want to ask him more about the Hillary Clinton case, but even some of them acknowledge that the case is over and done with. Others want to focus on the Trump-Russia affair. That includes a lot of material. There will, for example, undoubtedly be some questions about the Trump dossier, the origins of which Republicans have done extensive work to expose.

But one particularly useful area of questioning would be the case of Michael Flynn, the short-term Trump national security adviser who pleaded guilty to one count of lying to the FBI and who this week received a no-jail sentencing recommendation from Trump-Russia special counsel Robert Mueller. Comey spoke privately to Congress about the Flynn case on a few occasions in 2017. But so far, all the public knows about those statements are a few snippets of testimony included in a House Intelligence Committee report and a few others from Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley. If Comey were questioned about it in some detail Friday, and if the transcript of that conversation were released, then the public might finally learn more about the case. With that in mind, here are ten questions for Comey on the subject of Michael Flynn.

Read the whole thing.

ANNALS OF LEFTIST AUTOPHAGY: New Oscar Host Kevin Hart Attacked in Record Time.

More importantly, why would anyone want to host the Oscars at this point? The show is consistently awful and preachy. Critics typically savage whoever does the honors. It’s weeks and weeks of work with little payoff beyond, apparently, a “low” six-figure check. The latter is consequential but not to stars who routinely cash those sized checks.

The worst part for Hart? He’ll be slimed for weeks, maybe months, following the announcement. If he survives what’s to come he’ll be forced to abandon his apolitical stance as the Oscars host.

A comic who rigorously avoids partisan humor will have to mock the GOP, President Donald Trump or both on Oscar night. It’s what we’ve seen from previous hosts for the past few years. Virtually every awards show doubles as a DNC ad.

Suddenly, all Harts’ efforts to nurture his bipartisan fan base will be gone. Maybe he’s better off bowing out now. The gig just isn’t worth it.

Star Wars: Rogue One recreated Peter Cushing and Carrie Fisher in CGI form. Holographic recreations of dead rock stars such as Roy Orbison are touring in increasing numbers. Perhaps the Oscars should simply task Industrial Light & Magic to create holographic or CGI versions of Bob Hope and Johnny Carson and have them host alternate years — and problem solved.

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.’

SILLY QUESTION: ‘HOW DID REPUBLICANS LEARN TO HATE THE NEWS MEDIA’? At NewsBusters, Tim Graham writes:

For a healthy dose of how liberals write unintentional humor, see this Columbia Journalism Review article: “How did Republicans learn to hate the news media?” CBS MoneyWatch blogger and former Wall Street Journal investing editor Larry Light claims Republicans have a “prejudice” against the news media, as if there is no evidence….like you’ve never, ever spent a day on NewsBusters.

He wrote: “My father didn’t want to hear any evidence that contradicted his views, and neither do today’s Republican media haters. The hallmark of a prejudice is that you don’t have to prove it: You just know it.”

Light travels through history, from the media exposing Joseph McCarthy and Barry Goldwater, to forcing Richard Nixon from office, and then leaping ahead of George H.W. Bush’s last-minute “Annoy the Media” slogan in 1992. Nowhere in those decades is there any evidence of media favoritism, apparently. Just “prejudice” and hate.

Here are Light’s comments on the media and Goldwater:

[A]t the 1964 Republican National Convention, former president Dwight Eisenhower got a rousing crowd reception when he condemned “sensation-seeking columnists and commentators” who “couldn’t care less about the good of our party.”

His reference was to media coverage of the extremist views held by the Republican nominee, Barry Goldwater, who called for making Social Security a voluntary program and proposed deploying nuclear weapons in Vietnam. Though Goldwater came across as much more amiable than the ever-seething Trump does today, and he didn’t lash out at the press publicly, when he lost the election to Lyndon Johnson by a huge margin, his supporters were indignant at how the press had treated him.

Yes, other than Walter Cronkite and Daniel Schorr describing Goldwater as a crypto-Nazi on the CBS Evening News, why would Republicans loathe the media after the 1964 election?

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.

JOEL KOTKIN: Jeff Bezos Is Right at Home in the D.C. Swamp, but Amazon Might Have Bit Off More Than It Can Chew with the Big Apple.

It turns out that tech oligarchs aren’t much better than old dogs at learning new tricks. By splitting his much coveted supposed second headquarters between New York City and greater Washington D.C., Amazon’s Jeff Bezos is repeating what worked for him in Seattle while saying “yes, sir” to power.

Technology firms were once seen as outsiders, mostly located far from the traditional East Coast power centers. Now, as they gradually take control of every industry once coveted by the old establishment—media, finance and retail—firms like Amazon are handing out consolation prices to their new subjects.

The move to Washington amplifies the already clear message that Bezos, passionately against the Trumpian draining of the Washington “swamp,” wants to be a big player there, operating from the 27,000 square foot mansion—the biggest house in Washington—he paid $23 million to buy and another $12 million to renovate. He already controls the dominant local mouthpiece, the Washington Post (which broke the “news” that he was the “anonymous” buyer” of the former Textile Museum he’s made into a one-family house), and has located his key profit-making enterprise, cloud services, in part in a new campus in suburban Fairfax. And Amazon already owns one of the largest lobbying operations in Washington.

Time for some antitrust enforcement?

Plus: “If Amazon had moved to a heartland city, Bezos would have made a statement not only to his employees but to the middle of the country, where the tech industry is often seen as another enforcer of the progressive groupthink. Instead, he genuflected to the preferred locations and conventional wisdom of the overclass.”

ANOTHER PROGRESSIVE MYTH DEBUNKED: What the Prescription Drug Debate Gets Wrong. If we want new drugs for Alzheimer’s and the other ravages of old age, the last thing we need is European-style price controls at the pharmacy. But that’s the dream of Democrats, and the Trump administration is unfortunately threatening to go along with it.

This campaign is based on the same myth that was used to sell Obamacare: Americans are dying because their health-care system is an international disgrace. While it’s true that Canadians’ and western Europeans’ life expectancy is higher than Americans’, it’s not because of their price-controlled drugs and government health services. As I write in City Journal, the gap is due to variables that have nothing to do with health-care systems: the higher rates in America of poverty, obesity, smoking, homicide, fatal accidents and other factors.

The gap would be even larger if it weren’t for the fact that Americans receive better health care, particularly for heart disease and cancer. And the chief reason that American patients fare better than European patients is that they get earlier access to more new drugs. A dollar spent on drugs does more to combat disease and disability than a dollar spent anywhere else.

Yes, Canadians and Europeans pay less at the pharmacy, but they’re getting what they pay for. Why would Trump want to copy them? He should look at the numbers. Americans already get a much better deal.

 

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.

MORE: Fox News backs CNN in lawsuit against Trump, wants Acosta reinstated.

In its complaint filed in U.S. District Court on Tuesday, CNN argued that the revocation of Acosta’s access was “the culmination of years of hostility by President Trump against CNN and Acosta” based on its reporting and “an unabashed attempt to censor the press and exclude reporters from the White House who challenge and dispute the President’s point of view.”

In response, the Justice Department argued in a court filing that Trump has “broad discretion to regulate access to the White House for journalists.”

Wallace said Fox News intended to file an amicus brief in support of CNN with the court ahead of an afternoon hearing.

Fox News is alienating its core audience in support of a deeply flawed lawsuit.

Dumb.

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?

HMM: John Yoo: Whitaker’s appointment as acting Attorney General is unconstitutional.

Well, bring on Janice Rogers Brown then. I haven’t had time to really think about this, but my initial impression is that Yoo is right. On the other hand, we don’t want the Constitution to be a dead letter — it must grow and change with the times, and perhaps the times demand that we be more . . . flexible and pragmatic about appointments. Yeah, that’s it. Flexible and pragmatic. And modern!

UPDATE: Andrew McCarthy says Yoo is wrong: “Matthew Whitaker joined the Trump Justice Department as Sessions’s chief of staff in October 2017. The date is relevant. The president has named him as acting attorney general under the Vacancies Reform Act of 1998 (the relevant provisions are codified at Sections 3345 and 3346 of Title 5, U.S. Code). There has been some commentary suggesting that because Whitaker was in a job (chief of staff) that did not require Senate confirmation, he could not become the “acting officer” in a position (AG) that calls for Senate confirmation. Not so. The Vacancies Act enables the president to name an acting officer, who may serve as such for 210 days, as long as the person named has been working at the agency or department for at least 90 days in a fairly high-ranking position. Whitaker qualifies.”

That would be the Clinton-Era Vacancies Reform Act.

ACOSTA: When The BBC Is Calling You Out.

I’m pretty sure Acosta never intended to “mistouch” the young female intern. He was just trying to hold on to the mic. . . .

But make no mistake. The media also does well when they are baiting the bear. The urge to poke can sometimes seem irresistible.

So let’s take a step back. What happened in that room was not the ultimate fight for press freedom. This wasn’t someone risking life and limb against a regime where freedom of speech is forbidden. This was a bloke sitting in a room full of colleagues who were all trying to ask questions too.

This was a man who’d had his turn and had been told he couldn’t hog the whole time.

I’ve been in high-pressure press conferences. And the art is to ask the single most succinct question that will land you the best possible response.

The achievement is not meant to be one of endurance.

There are plenty of things to berate in the behaviour, language or ethics of Donald Trump. But this moment was not one of them. Pull him up for his lies, yes. But not for wanting to widen the conversation.

The president took CNN’s question and then took more. And when he tried to move on, he couldn’t. Once the Acosta incident was over, he went on to take questions from journalists from all over the world – for a total of 90 minutes.

And then he got castigated for freezing out the press.

UPDATE: Roger Kimball: “I have at times wondered whether Jim Acosta pays the president a retainer for making him such a recognizable figure.”

VETERAN ACTRESS SEEKS NEW SCRIPTWRITERS:

● Shot: Jane Fonda Talks Threats to Democracy, Compares Trump to Hitler.

The Hollywood Reporter, yesterday.

● Chaser: “I want to publicly accuse Nixon here of being a new-type Hitler whose crimes are being unveiled.”

—From Fonda’s lengthy profile at Discover the Networks.

● Hangover: “A new biography of Jane Fonda by Patricia Bosworth reveals a lifelong lament by the famous actress: ‘My biggest regret’ Fonda is quoted during a ‘feminist consciousness-raising session,’ according to the book’s account, ‘is I never got to f*** Che Guevara.’”

—“Jane Fonda’s Crush on Che Guevara,” Humberto Fontova, Townhall, September 7, 2011.

UPDATE: “The Grace and Frankie star added that ‘civility’ is also under attack. ‘And we don’t have to take it anymore. Voting is the way to stop it. Everybody has to vote.’ That’s right. The woman who just compared President Trump to Hitler says civility is under attack. You can’t make this stuff up. Nothing says civility like inserting Hitler into a conversation about a person of a different political philosophy, right? Ugh. Irony is dead in 2018.”

ALL THOSE #METOO TORPEDOES THEY PUT IN THE WATER FOR TRUMP KEEP CIRCLING AROUND ON THEM: No One Wants to Campaign With Bill Clinton Anymore. “In an election shaped by the #MeToo movement, where female candidates and voters are likely to drive any Democratic gains, Mr. Clinton finds his legacy tarnished by what some in the party see as his inability to reckon with his sexual indiscretions as president with a White House intern, Monica Lewinsky, as well as with past allegations of sexual assault. . . . Rebecca Kirszner Katz, a veteran Democratic strategist, says many Democrats have reassessed the party’s support for Clinton’s behavior in light of changing views about women, power and sexual misconduct.”

PHIL BREDESEN IS ENCOUNTERING SOME OF THIS, TOO: Manchin trouble in West Virginia? Some people love him but won’t vote for him.

As the charismatic Democrat walks towards the Martinsburg High School float filled with high-schoolers, hay, and lots of boisterous cheers, Shank admits, despite wanting a photo with the senator and liking him, come Nov. 6, he will vote for Manchin’s Republican opponent, Morrisey.

“Yeah, he’s a good guy. I mean, his politics is … it is what it is. At least he got Kavanaugh into the Supreme Court,” said Shank of Manchin, a vote he added was that really important to him.

Curt Blickenstann says the same, but adds a caveat — switch parties and Manchin could get his vote. “Oh yeah, he’d get the support of West Virginia even more. West Virginia is a hard-working state. It’s middle-class people, and that’s what Trump stands for is the middle-class people,” he says of the president who won all of the state’s 55 counties and earned a whopping 67–26 percent statewide win over Hillary Clinton.

Manchin says he’s not doing that. “Why would I change — I am who I am no matter what party name is after my name, I’ve never changed,” he said.

Voters here haven’t really changed either, except they don’t vote much for Democrats anymore, even Democrats who look like Republicans in any other state but here. Why? Democrats here place faith in their platform and are pro-life and pro-gun.

So do Republicans here.

Well, stay tuned and see how it turns out.

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.

DAVID GELERNTER IN THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: The Real Reason They Hate Trump: He’s the average American in exaggerated form—blunt, simple, willing to fight, mistrustful of intellectuals.

Every big U.S. election is interesting, but the coming midterms are fascinating for a reason most commentators forget to mention: The Democrats have no issues. The economy is booming and America’s international position is strong. In foreign affairs, the U.S. has remembered in the nick of time what Machiavelli advised princes five centuries ago: Don’t seek to be loved, seek to be feared.

The contrast with the Obama years must be painful for any honest leftist. For future generations, the Kavanaugh fight will stand as a marker of the Democratic Party’s intellectual bankruptcy, the flashing red light on the dashboard that says “Empty.” The left is beaten.

This has happened before, in the 1980s and ’90s and early 2000s, but then the financial crisis arrived to save liberalism from certain destruction. Today leftists pray that Robert Mueller will put on his Superman outfit and save them again.

For now, though, the left’s only issue is “We hate Trump.” This is an instructive hatred, because what the left hates about Donald Trump is precisely what it hates about America. The implications are important, and painful.

To be fair, the average American just wants to be left alone. Trump realizes that’s not really possible anymore.

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.”

JONATHAN KEILER: Warren’s Clintonian Smoke Signals.

Deliberate or not, Warren’s approach seems to track more closely to another older white woman also lacking in American Indian DNA, but not chutzpah, by the name of Hillary. Maybe Warren ought to check for Ashkenazi DNA.

Like Hillary, Warren is taking the approach that attacking Trump is a no-lose proposition for a Democrat – a rather obvious point, but one she is taking the lead on. And as a woman, much like Hillary, she is willing to cast aside ideas of equality and fall back on her position as a member of the fairer sex when counterattacked.

So when it was leaked that Trump’s chief of staff, General John Kelly, criticized Warren in a private email as rude and obstreperous, she publicly took it as a proof of her toughness and then claimed that Kelly’s comments were sexist. The mainstream media at least pretended to marvel at her political jiu-jitsu, in turning a potential negative into a positive (at least for Democrats) – in other words, claiming Hillary’s harpy badge and wearing it proudly.

The American Indian ridiculousness is part of the same strategy. It simply rekindled a feud with Trump, which is what Warren wants. It doesn’t matter that he’s right and she appears delusional. Democrats don’t care if their leaders are a bit bent. In fact, they might prefer it. What the base wants is to see Democrats fighting Trump. Warren is giving them a fight.

Warren is also protecting herself from future Democratic challengers with another Clintonian move, by quickly putting negatives in the past.

Maybe, but something simultaneously this silly and outrageous is going to be hard to shake.

RUN, CREEPY PORN LAWYER, RUN! Michael Avenatti Is Making Concrete Moves to Run for President in 2020 Against Trump.

In a brief phone interview with The Daily Beast, Avenatti stressed that his expenditures and exploratory travel would only ramp up in the weeks and months ahead, with stops planned for Texas, California, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire, along with longer-term plans to visit Iowa, Ohio, and Nevada.

“This idea that this is a superficial thing is ludicrous,” Avenatti said. “It is so ridiculous. I don’t need to engage in a superficial exploration of a potential run. Why would I need to do that? I don’t need any more notoriety. Why would I be wanting to take my time and energy traveling the country to raise money for Democrats if this was superficial?”

Though Fight PAC had raised a relatively small $11,907.98 so far, Avenatti said that fundraising was “coming along pretty well.” He had not hired anyone permanently for his committee. But, he added, “I’m consulting with a number of people.”

Does he have real presidential ambitions, or is he just testing the waters for a bigger effort at fleecing Democrats out of campaign donations?

RAND PAUL REVEALS MEDIA HID KEY DETAIL ABOUT GOP BASEBALL ATTACKER:

“I was there at the ball field when Steven Scalise almost died from a very, very angry violent man who was incited really by rhetoric on the left,” Paul said.

“And this hasn’t been reported enough, when he came on the field with a semi-automatic weapon firing probably close to 200 shots at us, shooting five people and almost killing Steve Scalise, he was yelling ‘this is for healthcare!” Paul said. “He also had a list of conservative legislators, Republicans, in his pocket that he was willing to kill.”

“So what happens is that when Democrats say ‘get up in their face,’ they need to realize that there are a lot of unstable people out there,” Paul continued. “There are people with anger issues, there are people who are prone to violence.”

Flashbacks:

● 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.’

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

But don’t you dare call them a mob.

PLEASE, RUN WITH THAT: Dems’ Midterm Message: White Women Are Rape Apologists.

Nothing can top the unhinged diatribe printed in the New York Times on Saturday night. Someone might want to perform a wellness check on Alexis Grenell, the author of an opinion piece titled, “White Women, Come Get Your People.” The column is a view into the tortured mind of the average American woman on the Left, a piece laced with so much puerile anguish, race-baiting and vulgar imagery that it would be a funny read if it wasn’t so disturbing. And it is another example of how major news organizations are fomenting hate among Americans. The loathsome column does not merit publication on the most angst-ridden teenage blog let alone in the nation’s “newspaper of record.”

Grenell, a Brooklyn-based public affairs consultant and alleged Democratic strategist, started out with a bang, venting about a confirmation process “where women all but slit their wrists, letting their stories of sexual trauma run like rivers of blood through the Capitol.” She referred to her “rage headache” and her “stupid uterus” and claimed there is a “blood pact between white men and white women.”

She babbled some nonsense about how “white women benefit from patriarchy by trading on their whiteness to monopolize resources for mutual gain,” and “support the patriarchy by marrying within their racial group, reproducing whiteness and even minimizing violence against their own bodies.”

We voted for Trump, according to Grenell, to “prop up our whiteness,” whatever that means. She claimed we care the same about men falsely accused of rape as women who are actually raped, but then accused White House advisor Kellyanne Conway of “weaponizing” her own sexual assault “in service to her boss by discouraging women from feeling empathy with Christine Blasey Ford or anger at Judge Kavanaugh.”

It was a grotesque, twisted tirade unfit for public consumption and it wasn’t the first time Grenell has rolled out the “Republicans-for-rape” narrative.

The Democrats have worked hard to lock down the Trigglypuff vote, but at what cost of even slightly more moderate voters?

THE MEDIA & THE MOB: Responding to a Washington Post reporter, who as Twitchy notes, “does the Republicans pounce angle on the out-of-control Kavanaugh mob,” Rod Dreher writes:

Here’s the thing: though there is no question that the GOP, like Democrats, play to the anxieties of its base — this is normal politics — there really were, and are, mobs out to get conservatives. 

Conservatives didn’t just imagine the anti-Kavanaugh protesters filling the halls of Congress, harassing GOP senators. Conservatives aren’t imagining campus mobs shouting down conservatives. Republican political consultants didn’t invent the mob at Middlebury College last year that chased Charles Murray off of campus, and physically injured a (liberal) professor who was his host. Nor did the GOP conjure the Yale mob that abused the Christakises over Halloween costumes in 2016.

And on and on. More to the point, Republicans did not invent the mob-like behavior of the news media in the Kavanaugh affair. In the last 24 hours, I’ve heard from three friends — two Democrats, and one anti-Republican independent — who have written to express profound concern about this political moment, and the behavior of the liberal mob. One of the Democrats — no fan of Trump or Kavanaugh — told me that her party has lost her over all this. The independent told me he hasn’t voted GOP in 30 years, but that may change this November, because of the “malice” (his word) on the left. And the third remains a devoted Democrat, but he is agonizing over the demons now taking over his political side, and worries if they can ever be reined in.

In “After Kavanaugh,” Kevin Williamson adds, “The Democrats have created an environment that will render ordinary political discourse almost impossible for years to come:”

This has been shameful, and there should be a reckoning.

That reckoning will not come from the New York Times or from the faculty of the Yale Law School. And it will not come from mind-killed partisans who will believe — or at least pretend to believe — anything that justifies and facilitates their pursuit of power. “She sounded credible to me!” they say. People who are telling us what we want to hear often do. That isn’t good enough — and this cynical smear campaign cannot be allowed to go unanswered. Everybody likes to think that they would have had the good sense and spine to stand against Senator Joseph McCarthy or the House Un-American Activities Committee.

But as the Democrats in rodential retreat go slinking sideways away from this failed attempt at character assassination, what will we do? Not only in November, but after? They would very much like to make this election about Donald Trump, but this has very little to do with the president. They tried to do the same thing to Mitt Romney that they tried with Brett Kavanaugh, and they would have done the same thing if it had been President Romney naming a new justice.

If you don’t punish a political party for this, what do you punish one for?

Indeed. And how does the media recover from their role in the anti-Kavanaugh debacle? The Washington Free Beacon notes that Joe Scarborough(!) “issued a pointed challenge to editors across the country:”

“I challenge New York Times reporters this morning — not reporters, editors — I challenge Washington Post editors, I challenge Wall Street Journal editors, I challenge editors across America, write that story. What happened with Dr. Ford’s agreement with a congresswoman, with Dianne Feinstein? Why did they leak that story? And more importantly, look at yourself and ask yourself the question, why didn’t we report on this in real time when you sure as hell would have reported on it if [Sen. Chuck] Grassley (R., Iowa) and his office had done the same thing?”

Just think of the media as Democratic operatives with bylines, and it all makes sense — or as “Comfortably Smug” tweets, “Journalists are the most insidious of paid protesters.”

UPDATE: Forget ‘boobs’! CNN’s Brooke Baldwin now clutching her pearls over ‘the M word.’

BREAKING: Nikki Haley resigns as UN Ambassador.

It’s a shame. She’s easily the best one we’ve had since Jeane Kirkpatrick.

More: “Trump tells reporter Haley told him about 6 months ago that at end of two year period she’d want to take a break. ‘She’s done a fantastic job and we’ve done a fantastic job together.'”

MAYBE TRUMP REALLY IS PLAYING 6-DIMENSIONAL CHESS. So there’s this:

And there’s the strangely assertive Lindsey Graham 2.0:

And it makes me think about what Trump’s game was. I would have rather he picked one of the more libertarian members of his list: Willett, or maybe Kethledge. And because some sort of trumped-up #MeToo thing was almost certain, a lot of people thought he should have picked Amy Coney Barrett. Kavanaugh was a fine, safe pick, but kinda milquetoasty DC Establishment for my taste.

But that was the reason to pick him. Trump knew he’d been vetted enough that there would be no real skeletons, and he no doubt expected that the Democrats would be so desperate they’d invent some. They would have done that with anyone he put up — but, precisely because Kavanaugh was a milquetoasty DC Establishment type, seeing the Democrats go into full batshit assault mode on him galvanized the other milquetoasty DC Establishment types. You could see the lightbulbs go off in their heads: The Democrats don’t hate Trump because he’s Trump. They hate all Republicans and want to ruin them. Even me! And they always will.

The result is that the Kavanaugh affair has welded the Trump and NeverTrump forces (except for a few sad outliers who don’t matter) into a solid force. And it’s simultaneously galvanized GOP voters around the country, closing the “enthusiasm gap,” as the normals become more militant. Plus, it seems that minority voters aren’t as excited about empowering neurotic upper-class white feminists as you might — well, actually, I guess they’re just about exactly as excited about empowering neurotic upper-class white feminists as you might expect, but it seems Dems didn’t give that much thought. So Kavanaugh was, in fact, the perfect pick to trigger this reaction.

I’m reminded of the scene in Absence of Malice where Wilford Brimley asks Paul Newman, who has cleverly set a trap that the press and the rogue DOJ guy fall into, “Are you that smart?”

I mentioned this analysis to the Insta-Wife, a Trump fan who has followed him closely since the 1980s and her comment was, “Of course.”

UPDATE:

MORE: Seen on Facebook: “‘You’ll get tired of winning.’ Yet another failed prediction from Drumpf.”

COLD WAR II: Pence intensifies warnings about China. Venezuela is Exhibit A.

In a speech Thursday to the Hudson Institute, Pence charged Beijing with wanting a new American president and actively interfering in the domestic and foreign affairs of the United States.

“Beijing also aims to extend its reach across the wider world,” Pence said. “Indeed, China is building its own relationships with America’s allies and enemies that contradict any peaceful or productive intentions of Beijing.”

Pence pointed directly at the economic and humanitarian crisis in Venezuela, where he said Beijing has given a “lifeline” to the leaders there through $5 billion in questionable loans. He accused China, Venezuela’s largest creditor, of saddling the Venezuelan people with more than $50 billion in debt that will have to be repaid well after the government of Nicolás Maduro is gone.

And he blamed the Chinese Communist Party for convincing El Salvador, the Dominican Republic and Panama to sever ties with Taiwan in an effort to get closer with China, a U.S. trade adversary.

Well, good. What I’d like to see next is President Trump re-announce the Monroe Doctrine, and also the resulting exploding heads.

THE GOALPOSTS HAVE LEFT THE STADIUM BY THIS POINT: Byron York: In Kavanaugh fight, Democrats move goalposts far, far away.

Ask any casual observer what the Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court confirmation fight is about, and the answer will be the allegation that at a high-school party 36 years ago, when Kavanaugh was 17, he drunkenly forced then-15-year-old Christine Ford onto a bed, tried to undress her, and, when she tried to scream, covered her mouth with his hand.

That is now old news. In the last 48 hours, immediately after Senate Republicans and President Trump agreed to Democratic demands that the FBI investigate the 1982 incident, the Kavanaugh goalposts have moved dramatically. Now, a key issue is Kavanaugh’s teenage drinking, and whether he testified truthfully to Congress about the amount of beer he consumed in high school and college more than three decades ago, and the effect it had on him.

Just look at the headlines:

“Yale Classmate Accuses Kavanaugh of ‘Blatant Mischaracterization’ of His Drinking.” (New York Times)

“Another Yale classmate breaks silence: Kavanaugh lied.” (CNN)

“Brett Kavanaugh’s College Friends Say He Lied Under Oath About Drinking.” (NBC)

And many others. The allegation is that at last Thursday’s hearing, Kavanaugh lied to the Senate Judiciary Committee when he was asked about his drinking practices both in high school and at Yale University. Kavanaugh was under oath at the time.

“Lying to Congress is a federal crime,” Sen. Bernie Sanders noted in a letter to Judiciary Committee chairman Charles Grassley. “Kavanaugh’s truthfulness with the Senate goes to the very heart of whether he should be confirmed to the court.”

The new developments raised two questions. One, did Kavanaugh actually lie to the Senate about his drinking? And two, why are Democrats, now that they have finally won the FBI investigation they wanted into the sexual misconduct allegations against Kavanaugh, suddenly making a bigger deal of his drinking?

They’re making a big deal about the drinking because they know they’ve got nothing.

NETS SKIP RANK HYPOCRISY OF WEINSTEIN PAL MATT DAMON PORTRAYING ‘FRAT BOY’ KAVANAUGH ON SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE.

In addition to Damon admitting that he’d fight any accusations these days tooth and nail himself:

In December 2017, Damon appeared on ABC’s “Popcorn” with Peter Travers and explained that in the years before the #MeToo movement, false allegations were often settled monetarily. But after the fall of Harvey Weinstein, all that changed.

“If you make the same claim to me today,” he said, “it would be scorched-earth. I don’t care if it would cost me $10 million in court for 10 years, you are not taking my name from me, you are not taking my name and reputation from me, I’ve worked too hard for it, I’ve earned it, you can’t just blow me up like that.”

Back in July, USA Today columnist Hannah Yasharoff asked, “In the era of #MeToo, is it still OK to laugh at ‘Animal House’?”, which starred SNL’s John Belushi:

National Lampoon’s raunchy frat house comedy “Animal House,” which celebrates its 40th anniversary Saturday, is widely regarded as an all-time great movie. But four decades later, it feels less like a comedy classic and more like a toxic showcase of racism, homophobia and jokes about sexual assault.

While parts of the film are still genuinely funny and enjoyable in 2018, the crueler moments beg the question: In the era of #MeToo, is it still OK to enjoy “Animal House”?

(As Jim Treacher responded at the time, “My goodness. Whatever you do, don’t show this young lady Porky’s.”)

In his column yesterday, Ross Douthat wrote, “The Year of Our Lord 1982, upon whose disputed summertime events a Supreme Court nomination now hinges, was part of the Reagan era but not a particularly conservative year:”

Most contemporary discourse about the social revolutions of the 1960s and ’70s imagines a consistent “left” that created those revolutions and a consistent “right” that opposed them. But glancing back to the debauched world of 1982 suggests a rather different take, one that clarifies what happened to American politics in the age of Bill Clinton and what’s happening now in the age of Donald Trump.

The world of Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford’s youth, the world that’s given us this fall’s nightmarish escalation of the culture war, was not a traditionalist world as yet unreformed by an enlightened liberalism. It also wasn’t a post-revolutionary world ruled by social liberalism as we know it today. Rather it was a world where a social revolution had ripped through American culture and radically de-moralized society, tearing down the old structures of suburban bourgeois Christian morality, replacing them with libertinism. With “if it feels good, do it” and the Playboy philosophy. With “Fear of Flying” for women and “Risky Business” and “Porky’s” for the boys. With drunken teenage parties in the suburbs and hard-core pornography in Times Square.

Which means that the culture war as we’ve known it since has not been a simple clash of conservatives who want to repress and liberals who want to emancipate. Rather it’s been an ongoing argument between two forces — feminists and religious conservatives — that both want to remoralize American society, albeit in very different ways.

Additionally, when the Harvey Weinstein story broke right around this time last year, as with NBC News’ efforts to block Ronan Farrow’s reportage, very likely because they knew it could lead to stories about their own Matt Lauer, Tom Brokaw, and Chris Matthews surfacing, Saturday Night Live’s creator-producer Lorne Michaels told reporters that his show also wouldn’t touch the Weinstein story, dismissing it as merely “a New York thing.”

As John Hinderaker wrote last year at Power Line, political reporters and wire services love to recap SNL episodes, because it allows them to get their biases in print while still maintaining a thin veneer of objectivity.“‘Respectable’ news outlets like the AP can’t publish absurd comedy skits ripping President Trump, much as they might like to,” Hinderaker wrote. “But by covering Saturday Night Live, they turn such meaningless attacks into fake ‘news.’”

To borrow from Douthat’s phrase above, reading Jeff Weingrad and Doug Hill’s 1986 book Saturday Night: A Backstage History of Saturday Night Live, it’s obvious that SNL impresario Michaels also wanted to remoralize American society. He certainly wanted to remoralize NBC’s formerly staid and morally conservative censors, fighting tooth and nail to coarsen the culture at NBC, and ultimately winning that battle, and on the big screen. The histories of SNL and the National Lampoon of the 1970s and early 1980s are heavily intertwined — Chevy Chase, John Belushi, Gilda Radner and original senior writer Michael O’Donoghue were all recruited by Michaels fresh from the Lampoon. After SNL made them superstars, Chase and Belushi would in turn go on to star in the Lampoon’s movies. So it makes sense that SNL would much prefer to have the media generating stories about its host mocking Kavanaugh, rather than risk a look back on its role in shaping the culture of the late ‘70s and ‘80s.

While the Kavanaugh hearings were going on this past Thursday, Dan McLaughlin of NRO tweeted that they “mark a milestone: this is the first true Gen X culture war moment in national politics, relitigating not the Boomers’ Days of Rage or Summer of Love but John Hughes [another Lampoon alumnus – Ed] movie tropes, drinking ages, yearbook quotes & Trapper Keeper day planners.”

If the left is going to take #metoo — let alone their charges against Kavanaugh — seriously, that would require a hard reassessment of SNL’s role in reshaping the culture of the period from 1975 to 1985 or so. I wonder how this aging NBC institution would look, afterwards. SNL’s attack on Kavanaugh was actually more of a defensive head fake, by yet another leftwing institution begging to be devoured by the mob last.

Related: Victor Davis Hanson’s Epitaph for a Dying Culture.

MATTHEW CONTINETTI: Call the Roll on Kavanaugh: It’s time to see where each senator stands.

The Democratic strategy toward Judge Brett Kavanaugh has been apparent since September 4. Within minutes of Chuck Grassley calling the Judiciary Committee to order, Democrats began to interrupt him. They wanted to delay the hearing until their demands for documents had been met. They managed to prolong the hearing for about an hour. Then they retreated.

The objective was clear: Delaying the confirmation would be tantamount to defeating the confirmation. Why? Because if the delay lasted past Election Day, and if Democrats took the Senate, then the empowered minority could pressure two wayward Republicans into voting No. In January the Democratic Senate could block any subsequent Trump nominee—payback for Merrick Garland. . . .

What is clear is that the Senate must vote, up or down, on Kavanaugh’s nomination. One way or another, the roll must be called. Yeas and Nays must be recorded.

For two reasons. The first is political. If Republicans walk away from Kavanaugh now, especially after Lindsey Graham’s philippic, the conservative grassroots will revolt and the midterm election will be an unmitigated disaster. According to polls, the GOP has already lost the middle. It cannot afford to lose the right. The base is the difference between no wave and a blue wave, between a blue wave and a tsunami. Let each senator say what he or she believes, and record that judgment by vote. Even if the nomination fails because no Democrat votes yes and two Republicans vote no, that is a better outcome for the GOP than no vote at all. Conservatives expect to be disappointed by individual Republicans. No vote? Conservatives walk away.

The other reason to call the roll is more abstract. This story is about more than an allegation of sexual assault. It has become a matter of political precedent. The public deserves to know the Senate’s position on the following question: Are uncorroborated allegations, sometimes made anonymously, from high school and college enough to disqualify men and women from appointed office? Are we prepared to establish a standard by which appointees are judged by comments in a high school yearbook, statements from classmates 30 or 35 years ago, and attendance at student parties where alcohol was consumed?

If we are to go down this road, then we should know where each of the 100 men and women elected to the United States Senate, including Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, and Jeff Flake, stand at the outset. How else will we be able to apportion blame when the three Furies arrive? Because they are on their way.

Read the whole thing.

WORST WARMONGER EVER: Trump Says Two-State Solution ‘More Difficult Because It’s a Real-Estate Deal’ But Better for Peace. “The President says he wants a deal between Israelis and Palestinians before the end of his term so ‘it will start moving pretty soon, pretty rapidly.'”

On the outside chance the Palestinians are willing to sit down for genuine negotiations, it will be because Trump was the first U.S. President willing to disabuse them of their notion that all of Israel could be theirs for the taking.

RICHARD EPSTEIN ON WHAT’S GOING ON:

The Democratic resistance to the Kavanaugh nomination has been an all-out assault on his judicial philosophy and personal integrity from the moment that it was announced. I have no doubt that any senator has the full and complete right to vote whatever way he or she thinks fit on the nomination. And I have no doubt that if the Democrats held a majority of the seats in the Senate, they could have stonedwalled this nomination, just as the Republicans did with Merrick Garland. It is well-established constitutional law that the Senate need not call a hearing, let alone schedule a vote. In retrospect, the decision not to hold any hearings on Garland should be regarded as a wise and humane political decision, because it spared Garland and the nation a similar disgraceful exhibition of intolerance that some conservative opponents of Garland may well have launched to tarnish his confirmation chances.

But this last-ditch decision to sabotage Kavanaugh at the 11th hour is a disgusting piece of political propaganda. Christine Blasey Ford behaved wholly improperly when she decided to write a letter only to “a senior Democratic lawmaker,” in which she made the most serious allegations of sexual assault against Kavanaugh. At the very least, she ought to have handled matters wholly differently. If she wanted to keep matters confidential, she should have sent that letter to President Trump and to Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the chairman of the judiciary committee. She also should have sent it to the FBI for investigation. And she should have done all of these things at the earliest possible moment, in time for a principled and neutral examination to take place before the Senate hearings took place. Then, she should have sat for a cross-examination.

Putting the information exclusively in the hands of key Democrats thus invited the wholly corrupt strategy that has now unfolded. First, the Democrats would try to discredit Kavanaugh by engaging in a set of procedural antics and obnoxious substantive questions during the hearing, without mentioning this letter. When that strategy abjectly failed, they knew they had to go to Plan B, which was to release the letter and the allegation days before the confirmation vote. A perfect sandbag, for the Democrats knew full well that there was no time to respond to them, without causing an enormous delay in the confirmation hearings. Their hope was, and is, to create a huge media circus that would take weeks if not months to sort out. Shipwreck this nomination. Make it impossible for the current Senate to pass on any subsequent nominee before January. Then take control of the Senate and create a stalemate that could run on until the next presidential election.

And for what? Ford, Kavanaugh’s accuser, maintained a stony silence on these allegations for more than 35 years. At no point did she raise them in connection with the Senate confirmation hearings before Kavanaugh was confirmed in 2006. Kavanaugh has categorically denied the allegations. Late last week, Mark Judge, his alleged accomplice, denounced the allegations as “absolutely nuts.” No other woman has ever made any allegation of this sort against Kavanaugh. and 65 women have written an explicit letter in his defense. Kavanaugh is right not to respond beyond his categorical denial, knowing full well that further comment would only draw him further into a vortex on which credibility determinations would be unending. And the Senate is right to continue with the confirmation vote. The institutional damage to the Senate, the Supreme Court, and the nation has already been enormous. What is left now is only the sorry task of damage containment. What sane judge would like to be the next Supreme Court nominee?

If the Republicans hold the Senate, Mitch McConnell should use this precedent — together with the nonstop disruption of the hearings — to put Trump’s next nominee directly to a floor vote with no hearings, on three days’ notice.

THE CRAZY ONES: Michael Barone: Democrats’ visions of hand signals from white supremacists.

The meaning of this gesture was not lost on certain alert viewers. “Who is she? What’s up with the white power sign?” tweeted one Keith R. Dumas. Further enlightened tweets streamed in. From TV actor Kelly Mantle: “This neo-nazi is Zina Bash. She’s intentionally throwin [sic] up White Power signs at a Supreme Court Justice hearing. On national TV. She works for Kavanaugh & is also one of the writers for Trump’s immigration policy. This is their new Amerikkka.”

Author Jamie Ford: “Zina Bash, who works for Kavanaugh, quietly flashing the white power sign. Welcome to the dystopia, folks.”

Tommy Christopher, writer for a George Soros-funded website: “The woman sitting behind Kavanaugh giving what appears to be a white supremactist ‘Pepe’ salute has been identified as Zina Bash, member of Trump’s transition, domestic policy, and now SCOTUS team.”

Eugene Gu, MD: “Kavanaugh’s former law clerk Zina Bash is flashing a white power sign behind him during his Senate confirmation hearing. They literally want to bring white supremacy to the Supreme Court. What a national outrage and a disgrace to the rule of law.”

These people and the scores who tweeted in their support were deterred not a bit by the fact that Zina Bash is the granddaughter of Holocaust survivors, and that her mother is a native of Mexico. Not a likely white supremacist.

They seem not to have wondered why a white supremacist would find it necessary or useful to communicate such beliefs by an obscure hand gesture that isn’t really a white supremacist hand gesture, when so many other forms of communication are readily available and more easily concealed from alert eyes like their own.

They seem to find it inconceivable that everyone doesn’t know that the hand gesture recognized universally and for many years in this country as signifying “OK” now signifies support of white supremacy.

In other words, they have taken leave of their senses.

The more they tell us Trump is crazy, the crazier they themselves act.

BEN SHAPIRO ON THE FAUX BIPARTISAN UNITY AT JOHN MCCAIN’S FUNERAL:

For those of us who have watched politics for the past several decades, pinning the death of a common American ethos on Trump is like blaming gravity for the Hindenburg disaster: It had something to do with the problem, but the bigger problem was the enormous fire ripping through the dirigible. George W. Bush and Barack Obama did not have a common vision for America. Neither did George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton. What’s more, the hobnobbing and backslapping of these supposed representatives of sharply varying philosophies — the notion that an elite class of political actors were playacting their conflict in public, but smoking cigars together in private — led to the rise of an outsider such as Trump.

This isn’t a case against civility, of course. Trump has seriously degraded the public discourse; unlike his predecessors, he doesn’t hide his personal animus behind a veneer of niceness. But that wasn’t all that Obama and Bush were calling for. They suggested an ideological unity that no longer exists — and everyone knows it. The day before Barack Obama and George W. Bush at McCain’s funeral were signaling supposed American unity against unpalatable politics, Bill Clinton was sitting next to anti-Semites Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and Louis Farrakhan at Aretha Franklin’s.

We are disunited. Trump is a symptom of that. If political actors want to criticize the specifics of Trump’s philosophy, or if they want to criticize Trump’s character overtly, they should have at it. But presenting a false façade of unity where none has existed for decades only leads Americans to believe that the political elites are united by their elite status. And ironically, that plays directly into Trump’s populist hands.

As PJM’s David P. Goldman, aka “Spengler” put it in the Asia Times, It was “A funeral for a world that never was.”

BYRON YORK: On Trump-Russia, too much secrecy keeps public in dark.

“Secrecy is a mode of regulation,” Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan wrote in 1997, when the congressionally-created board he headed, the Commission on Protecting and Reducing Government Secrecy, released a report. “In truth, it is the ultimate mode, for the citizen does not even know that he or she is being regulated.”

Moynihan hoped that a “culture of openness” would develop to balance the culture of secrecy. It didn’t happen. A dozen years later, in 2009, the New York Times editorialized that the federal government’s creation of “107 different categories of restricted information … seems designed not to protect legitimate secrets but to empower bureaucrats.” Still more recently, when the House held hearings on secrecy in 2015, the journalist Terry Anderson testified, “The Moynihan commission recommended some changes in the law, including an office of declassification. Nothing was acted upon.”

Today, the culture of secrecy is keeping the public from learning some basic facts about the Trump-Russia affair, even as newscasts and newspapers are filled with reporting, speculation, and debate about it. When it comes to allegations that the Trump campaign conspired with Russia to fix the 2016 election, the Justice Department and other agencies have withheld information from the public because such information is classified, or because it is purportedly critical to an ongoing investigation, or because officials just want to keep the Department’s secrets secret.

P.J. O’Rourke quipped back in the mid-’90s, about that book allegedly authored by Hillary Clinton, that “You’re the child and Washington is the village.” Nothing’s changed since then.

CHANGE: Trump breaks 20-year ‘fouled up’ budget gridlock, scores big wins.

President Trump, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and House Speaker Paul Ryan have teamed up this summer to do something that hasn’t happened in two decades — write and pass department spending bills instead of lumping everything into a massive package.

The House and Senate are moving at a brisk pace to pass the appropriations bills, with the Senate leading, approving nine of 12.

What’s more, the Trump administration has pushed through key priorities on wall and Pentagon spending, as well as curbing wasteful programs, though still ending up with a more expensive budget than they wanted by over $50 billion.

And while Congress has taken the votes, many on Capitol Hill are giving Trump and his team the credit for breaking the 20-year log jam. They cite his refusal to sign another massive “omnibus” spending bill that ignored his priorities, even if it means shutting down the government.

“This is all driven by the president,” said a key congressional insider. “It’s a win for the president. For 20 years this system has been busted.”

Nobody is as pleased as McConnell. Last week he said that the passage of department spending packages was a huge achievement, “given how completely fouled up the government funding process has been for 20 years, 20 years.”

I’d be happier if spending were going down, not up.

JOHN COLTRANE AND THE END OF JAZZ:

The fact that this 55-year-old recording is the year’s most significant jazz release tells you all you need to know about the health of jazz in 2018. The only real argument is about the clinical symptoms of jazz’s death and when it happened. It would be wrong to claim that jazz died with Coltrane in 1967, the year that rock cemented its takeover at Monterey. For one thing, many of jazz’s inventors were still going. Louis Armstrong, the first of the master soloists, had his biggest hit, “What a Wonderful World,” in 1967. Duke Ellington, the Debussy of the big band, was in 1967 preparing the second of his three “Sacred Music” concerts. And in 1967, jazz still contained the seeds of at least two of its final evolutions. The trumpeters Miles Davis and Donald Byrd had yet to form their electric bands, with Davis heading toward bleary oblivion and Byrd toward the dance floor. But Armstrong’s pop hit was orchestral, Ellington’s band always had been orchestral, and the crowded studios and thick textures of Davis’s In a Silent Way and Byrd’s Places and Spaces were, in their disorderly ways, orchestral too. None of this music was played by acoustic quartets.

* * * * * * * *

The assumption that it was the musician’s task to develop the music reveals how deeply jazz was soaked in the forms and assumptions of European art music. A Balkan folk musician or a West African griot doesn’t seek to push his people’s music forward technically but to imitate it and preserve their sonic memory. But a jazz musician, like a classical composer, has the modern itch. Imitation is not enough; he must go beyond his sources. He pursues formal development for its own sake and believes in progress. Jazz didn’t exactly die with Coltrane, but he certainly helped to kill it. No one (apart from Miles Davis) read its inner logic so clearly. No one did more to pulverize show tunes and the blues into stardust. Arguably no one did more to reunite secular Western art with religion, which is where secular Western art came from and what it had been striving to rejoin ever since it left. And no one (again apart from Miles Davis) did it better.

Read the whole thing. Of course, jazz had already survived its earlier attempt in the late 1940s at making its audience “more selective,” as Spinal Tap’s manager would say, thanks to albums with strong melodies such as Miles Davis and Gil Evans’ 1959 interpretation of Porgy and Bess, Dave Brubeck’s classic single “Take Five,” and the numerous swing bands and crooners still touring in the ‘50s and ‘60s, but its recovery was a temporary one. Previewing Ken Burns’ 2001 documentary Jazz, Mark Gauvreau Judge wrote:

Bebop offered challenges musicians thought they could never get from traditional swing bands, as well as an improvisational ethic that provided an escape from the tough work of writing strong melodies. Some of the players saw this: In 1949 drummer Buddy Rich fired his band because his players “just want to play bop and nothing else. In fact,” Rich added, “I doubt they can play anything else.” Louis Armstrong, whose centennial is being celebrated this year, once referred to bebop as “crazy, mixed-up chords that don’t mean nothing at all.” Before long swing had become a joke. Producer Quincy Jones recalls in the documentary Listen Up that as a young musician he once hid backstage from bebop trumpeter Miles Davis so Miles wouldn’t know he was in the swinging band that had just left the stage.

Suddenly, jazz was Art. Gone were the days when 5,000 people would fill the Savoy Ballroom to lindy hop to the sunny sounds of Ella Fitzgerald or Count Basie. Bebop was impossible to dance to, which was fine with the alienated musicians in Eisenhower’s America. (You can bet this era will be well represented by beatnik Burns.) Even bebop’s own founders weren’t safe from the ideological putsch: when Bird himself made an album of pop standards with a band backed up by a string section, he was labeled a sellout. Then Elvis, to simplify matters greatly, reinvented swing for a new generation, and the Beatles arrived with sacks of great new melodies, and jazz was over as a popular music. Remarkably, beboppers and their fans still blame the drop-off on American racism. Miles once called pop music “white music,” and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, in a documentary about the Blue Note label, offers that “whites couldn’t appreciate anything that came from black culture.” Yet whites were as responsible as blacks for making stars of Ella, Basie, and other black swing artists. Only two kinds of music were allowed on the radio following the news of FDR’s death: classical and Duke Ellington.

As Judge wrote, “Some of the new jazz was undeniably brilliant, and many of the bebop and hard bop recordings that have been remastered and reissued only seem to acquire more appeal with age,” but the urge to go further and further out also risks dramatically shrinking an audience that, ultimately, wants to be entertained. Judge notes that “The unflinching critic Stanley Crouch tells a funny story about Ellington that sums up the problems jazz has had finding an audience since the bebop revolution: in the 60s, bassist Charles Mingus suggested to Ellington that they make an ‘avant-garde’ record together, employing some of the chaotic elements then popular in the free-jazz movement. Ellington replied that he had no desire to take jazz that far back.”

TAMMY BRUCE: Too much of Trump’s time is spent cleaning up Obama’s and the Democrats’ deadly messes.

Consider the focus of newly elected President Barack Obama. In 2009, the first year of his first term, Obama began a public campaign to convince people that going to the doctor can be fraught with risk, and even dangerous. He argued on multiple occasions that doctors want to perform surgeries and cut things off just to make a buck.

”‘You come in and you’ve got a bad sore throat, or your child has a bad sore throat or has repeated sore throats,’ President Obama explained at Wednesday’s press conference. ‘The doctor may look at the reimbursement system and say to himself, ‘You know what? I make a lot more money if I take this kid’s tonsils out,’ ” the Wall Street Journal reported in June 2009.

He then immediately moved the argument to pill taking.

” ‘If there’s a blue pill and a red pill and the blue pill is half the price of the red pill and works just as well,’ he asked, ‘why not pay half price for the thing that’s going to make you well?’ ” the Journal reported.

In other words, why trust a doctor when you can take a pill? Besides, it’s less expensive. That’s the point and the irony — saving your life is the only time the government is suddenly interested in cutting costs. Why? Because it means more money for the system and its bureaucrats.

Read the whole thing,

HE’S DOING WELL ON THOSE: New Poll Shows Majority of Americans Don’t Want Impeachment for Trump. “They’re more interested in jobs and the economy, it turns out.”

Once upon a time, wise Democrats understood that it’s the economy, stupid.

LIZ SHELD’S MORNING BRIEF: The Trump Bump and Much, Much More. “Rep. Darrel Issa told Fox news Ohr ‘has a poor memory. He seems to not remember a lot of details and, you know, poor memories are often claimed by people who want to stick to what they can say and not be caught in perjury,’ Issa told Fox News.”

COLLUSION: DSCC Paid David Brock for Research Despite Leaders Wanting Party to Drop Him.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC), which focuses on electing Democrats to the U.S. Senate, pushed payments to an entity run by liberal operative David Brock for research consulting despite leading Democratic Party operatives complaining he was killing the party, with one former Obama official referring to Brock as “fucking weird.”

The DSCC made two payments totaling $40,000 to Brock’s American Bridge PAC in mid- June for research consulting, the DSCC’s filings with the Federal Election Commission show.

Brock described American Bridge as “the Democratic epicenter of opposition research and rapid response in presidential and Senate elections” in a 49-page confidential memo obtained by the Washington Free Beacon at a January 2017 posh Florida retreat hosted by Brock where he huddled with more than 100 donors to plot how to “kick Donald Trump’s ass.”

Numerous Democratic Party organizers and operatives around that time said they wanted the party to drop Brock following Hillary Clinton’s defeat.

“His ability to produce wins for Democrats is nonexistent,” Jeff Weaver, former campaign manager for Bernie Sanders, told the Daily Beast in January 2017. “He does not have the kind of understanding of what kind of coalition you have to bring together to win national races—that’s his fundamental problem.”

One Clinton aide told the Daily Beast that Brock was “useless” and said “you might as well have thrown those [tens of] millions of dollars down a well, and then set the well on fire.”

A former Obama administration official who had met Brock on a number of occasions called him “fucking weird.”

Like Uffie, he’s got a loaded bodyguard.

MICHAEL BARONE: Democrats will do better playing by the rules than denouncing the rules.

When you lose a game, particularly a game you had good reason to expect you’d win, do you try to figure out how to play better? Or is your first reaction to demand changes in the rules?

In the case of the Democratic Party, it’s the latter. Perhaps that comes naturally to a party that takes some pride in having advocated changes in rules that everyone today sees as unfair (even those, like racial segregation laws, that they enacted themselves). But sometimes it’s wiser to change the way you play than to denounce long-established rules.

The Democrats argue that they’ve been winning more votes but don’t control the federal government. They’ve won a plurality of the popular vote in six of the last seven presidential elections, but have elected presidents in only four of them. That darned Electoral College— “land,” as one liberal commentator puts it — gave the presidency to George W. Bush in 2000 and Donald Trump in 2016.

Of course, the Gore and Clinton campaigns knew that the winner is determined by electoral votes, not popular votes. But that hasn’t stopped many Democrats from calling for changing the rules to election by popular vote.

Or from complaining about the composition of the Senate. A majority of senators, writes ace election analyst David Wasserman, represent only 18 percent of the nation’s population. That’s because under the Constitution, each state elects two senators, and a majority of Americans today live in just nine states.

It’s suggested that the framers didn’t expect population to be so heavily concentrated in a few states. Actually, it was similarly concentrated in big states 50, 100, 150 and 200 years ago. And when the framers met in 1787, small states demanded equal Senate representation precisely from fear that the big states would dominate them. . . .

It’s true that the Electoral College works against a party whose voters are geographically and demographically clustered. For the Framers, that was a feature, not a bug. They feared domination by a concentrated bloc of voters with no broad support across the country.

A party which wants to win more elections might take note of that and look to broaden its support base, rather than plead for impossible constitutional changes and fiddle with fixes that might produce unanticipated negative consequences.

Indeed.

ROGER SIMON: Manafort’s Purge Trial.

I was going to call this column The Trial of Tony Podesta to point out the ridiculous disparity that one is on trial but not the other. Judge Ellis couldn’t have been more right. This is selective prosecution to get at the president. The charges are outrageously broad and deliberately so.

Nevertheless, it doesn’t speak well of Trump that he chose to work with a man like Manafort. The president has made some excellent choices (Pompeo) and some doozies (Omarosa). Let’s hope he’s learning from his mistakes. It’s time.

But whatever you think of Manafort, his trial — no matter how it turns out — in its underpinnings resembles nothing so much as a Stalinist purge trial. It is political, self-serving and sadistic. Manafort is being purged — for life, if the prosecution gets its way. Maybe he could write The Mueller Archipelago.

Related: Democrats Frighten Manafort Jurors. “Why do you suppose seven news organizations–all liberal, presumably–wanted to know who the jurors are and where they live? They are worried that the jury, having heard the evidence, may not render the ‘right’ verdict, i.e., the one that helps the Democratic Party. So they want to know who the jurors are so they can apply pressure on them through mob action, newspaper denunciations, online harassment and so on. This is how today’s Democratic Party operates. If the jury fails to render the Democrats’ preferred verdict, what do you suppose Maxine Waters will suggest Democrats should do to the jurors if they venture out in public?”

Once I would have thought this paranoid, but I’ve learned that this is how they operate.

HOWIE CARR: Peter Strzok Got His Start in Boston’s Dirty FBI Office.

Yesterday I called the office of special counsel Robert Mueller, the former U.S. attorney for Boston, who knew all of the six or seven FBI agents who were accused in federal court of taking payoffs from gangsters.

Some of them were the agents who framed four innocent men for a murder they did not commit, while taking cash from Stevie Flemmi, whom they refused to arrest for 30 years while he was, by his own account, committing 50 murders in four different states.

Yes, the Boston office was the perfect place to train “Special” Agent Strzok.

My question for Mueller was, after he hired Strzok for his witch hunt, did they ever talk about how the FBI allowed the four innocent men to languish in prison for 35 years?

Mueller’s office declined to comment.

But it makes perfect sense that Mueller would want somebody from the Boston office to handle his frame-up, I mean investigation. Who knows more about railroaded people who didn’t commit a crime than the Boston FBI office?

Just ask former U.S. District Court Judge Nancy Gertner. In 2003, she threatened to cite Mueller for contempt of court for his refusal to turn over exculpatory evidence when the wronged men sued. (She eventually awarded them $107 million.)

“The position the FBI is taking is chilling,” she informed Mueller. “This Court is not remotely satisfied.”

Remember what Strzok had to say to his married girlfriend about Trump voters? He called them “ignorant hillbillies.” He said that he could “smell” them in the local Walmart.

So I was surprised yesterday when I began researching his years in Massachusetts and discovered that he apparently lived not in Cambridge or Brookline, but in North Attleboro. Amazing — a snob who lived in North Attleboro.

Read the whole thing.

THEY TOLD ME IF TRUMP WERE ELECTED, WE’D SEE OPEN RACISM IN POLITICS. AND THEY WERE RIGHT! Democratic Detroit Rep. Bettie Cook Scott on Asian opponent: ‘Don’t vote for the ching-chong!’

More than a dozen community groups have called on Rep. Bettie Cook Scott (D-Detroit) to apologize for a series of racial slurs sources say she used to describe her primary election opponent, Rep. Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit).

Scott is alleged to have referred to Chang as “ching-chang” and “the ching-chong” to multiple voters outside polling precincts during last Tuesday’s election. She’s also said to have called one of Chang’s campaign volunteers an “immigrant,” saying “you don’t belong here” and “I want you out of my country.” . . .

The various off-color remarks were heard by multiple people connected with Chang, including Chang’s husband, who spoke with Metro Times. Sean Gray says after overhearing Cook disparage Chang outside a precinct on the east side of Detroit, “I … asked her not to speak about my wife in that manner. At that time she said to the voter that ‘these immigrants from China are coming over and taking our community from us.’ Further, she said it ‘disgusts her seeing black people holding signs for these Asians and not supporting their own people.'”

Gray, who is black, says Scott then went on to call him a “fool” for marrying Chang.

So we’ve got it all: Racism, anti-immigrant sentiment, and bigotry against interracial marriage. Charming.

If this were a Republican, it would be national news. I predict not so much this time.

SALENA ZITO: Trump’s not the reason the GOP sputtered in Ohio.

Both Ohio and Pennsylvania represent the new coalition of Trump voters — Rust Belt states that were expected to swing blue in 2016 but in fact went for the unorthodox billionaire who promised to “Make America Great Again.”

So why, two years later, is the GOP having so much trouble connecting with these people? Is it Trump? The party establishment?

Ohio Gov. John Kasich said Balderson’s weak showing was a referendum on the president. “Voters here sent a message to the Republicans to knock it off,” Kasich told CBS News last week. “Stop the chaos, the division, no more of this family separation that we see at the border or taking people’s health care away. I think [people] have . . . basically had enough and they’re sending a message to the Republicans, including the Republican in the White House . . . This district is so Republican, there should never even have been an election here. And it was so close and — in one of the counties that’s so solidly Republican — where a Republican would normally win by 70 percent, it broke basically 50-50.”

But Kasich, who hasn’t yet ruled out a run for president in 2020, has got the wrong end of the stick. The GOP’s problem isn’t its president. The problem is its message.

Trump is the sun around which the solar system of American politics operates. You can’t outshine him.

And his base is solid.

I’d missed this one over a weekend long on chores and entertaining, but it’s still germane and you’ll want to read the whole thing.

WELL, GOOD: U.S. Navy Boosts Submarine Plans As Tensions With Russia And China Worsen.

The Navy needs more attack subs. They are literally the only warships that can perform many of the missions they are assigned. During the Obama years, the rock-bottom number the Navy considered acceptable was 48, a number it will dip below midway through the next decade. But that goal was driven by a national security strategy that drastically under-estimated the threat likely to be posed by Russia and China — not to mention Iran and North Korea — in the years ahead. The strategy resulted in naval shipbuilding budgets being under-funded.

Today, things have changed. The Trump national defense strategy frankly acknowledges that Russia, China, and several lesser nations are “revisionist” powers bent on challenging U.S. interests. It also acknowledges that while America has been distracted fighting terrorists in Southwest Asia, those countries have made big strides in improving their military capabilities and fielding new warfighting technologies. President Trump’s big increase in defense spending last year was a recognition that threat levels demand more resources.

The Navy now has a new goal for its attack sub fleet. It wants 66 boats, a 38% increase over the plan inherited from the Obama years.

The brilliant strategic thinkers of the previous Administration seemed to have based their plans on the assumption that China and Russia were getting nicer, and that the oceans were getting smaller.

ACADEMY AWARDS SELL OUT TO STUDIOS, ADD “POPULAR MOVIE” AWARD, WILL CUT ON-AIR AWARDS IN HALF:

This means the big studio films that are ignored at the Oscars– like Disney, Marvel, Disney, Pixar, etc – will now have a People’s Choice type award. Filmmaking will not be the issue. But now “Mission Impossible” will be in a group with “Black Panther.”

Also, the Oscars will move up to February 9th, two weeks earlier than usual. Which means that the nominating period will be short, short, short. The Grammys won’t be happy– that’s their date– but what the hell. The studios have wanted this for a long time, and the Academy has capitulated.

It’s a cowing to crap.

The on air broadcast beginning in 2020 will also halve the number of awards given on air. This means, like the Emmys and the Grammys, “creative” awards will happen at a different time. No more sound editing on Oscar night, kids. It’s just gonna be stars, stars, stars. How was the movie made? Who cares, really? Find out later.

Well, the end was near. The Oscar ratings keep getting lower and lower. The studios are getting no recognition for their tent pole movies. It’s a very Trumpian philosophy.

It’s also the philosophy of the men who built Hollywood. In the 1998 A&E documentary version of Neal Gabler’s excellent 1989 book, An Empire of their Own: How the Jews Invented Hollywood, the narrator (actor R.H. Thomson) notes that after being unable to break the monopoly that east coast-based Thomas Edison had on moviemaking at the start of the 20th century, the largely Jewish immigrants who created what we now call Hollywood went west, both for the excellent weather that allowed them to film outdoors throughout most of the year, and for the freedom to build, as Gabler dubbed it in his title, “An Empire of their Own,” far from Edison’s (often anti-Semitic) control. Eventually, with 75 percent of the public going to the movies at least once a week between the wars:

Actors became the gods and goddesses of the new American religion. And where there are new gods, there must be new idols. So the studio heads began a movie guild with the lofty title of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. It was [MGM’s Louis B.] Mayer’s brilliant idea [in 1929] to create the Oscars, where the movie moguls could honor themselves by giving each other awards. In this way, they went from being a group of immigrant Jews, to award-winning American producers.

Not to mention, as one biographer quoted Mayer, “I found that the best way to handle [filmmakers] was to hang medals all over them. […] If I got them cups and awards they’d kill themselves to produce what I wanted. That’s why the Academy Award was created.”

By the late 1930s, the original Hollywood moguls were producing a far better product than today’s endless retreads of superhero and sci-fi franchises, the vast majority of which print money* for Disney. And what do you know – as Peter Labuza of the Village Voice tweets, “So ABC which is owned by Disney changed the categories for the Oscars by creating a category that creates more Oscars for films by Disney. Cool cool cool.”

Odds-on favorite to win this new popular movie award is of course, Disney’s Black Panther, but Mark Harris, author of Pictures at a Revolution, notes that “It truly is something that in the year Black Panther, a movie made just about entirely by and with black people, grosses $700 million, the Academy’s reaction is, ‘We need to invent something separate…but equal.’”

Unexpectedly. By which I mean, straight of out Michael Graham’s Redneck Nation thesis.

* In seemingly endless forms, from the movies themselves, the Blu-Ray and streaming sales, the soundtracks, the toys, the Disney rides, etc., etc.

ANDREW MALCOLM: Here’s how Trump could pull off another election surprise.

Absent some major news event like, oh, say, a damning special counsel report, what can Trump do in the next 13 weeks to at least mitigate GOP losses? First of all, will Trump’s so-far loyal base show up when his name is absent? Obama’s never did.

Trump is solid with about nine of 10 Republicans. But those 2016 voters who handed him the electoral votes from Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, for instance, are not Republicans.

Standard Democrats seem unlikely converts. Which leaves those crucial swing independents.

If you want to make a difference, spend less time on the internet and more time volunteering for a local campaign.

LIZ SHELD’S MORNING BRIEF: Election Results, Rick Gates, Bruce Ohr and Much, Much More. “Yesterday’s election a complete repudiation of Trump. Just kidding. That’s the spin your are going to hear today and I just want to get you ready for what you will face out there in the political post-election jungle.”

CHOOSE THE FORM OF YOUR DESTRUCTOR: The Amazing Story of How Trolling by Obama Gave Us Trump.

Read the whole thing, including this:

I don’t see how being held up to public ridicule by Obama can possibly be discounted as something that convinced Trump to run for president. In fact, it is very much in sync with what we know about Trump.

Now, did he expect to win when he launched his campaign? I don’t think so. There was an interview by an early member of Team Trump that gave the distinct impression that he wanted a credible showing as a springboard to more reality television.

Who else didn’t think he’d win against Hillary, and was using his longshot election bid as a springboard to gain additional notoriety? Oh yeah, this once-unknown politician:

Soon-to-be-candidate Obama, then an Illinois senator, was thinking about turning down an invitation to speak at a big health care conference sponsored by the progressive group Families USA [in January 2007], when two aides, Robert Gibbs and Jon Favreau, hit on an idea that would make him appear more prepared and committed than he actually was at the moment.

Why not just announce his intention to pass universal health care by the end of his first term?…

“We needed something to say,” recalled one of the advisers involved in the discussion. “I can’t tell you how little thought was given to that thought other than it sounded good. So they just kind of hatched it on their own. It just happened. It wasn’t like a deep strategic conversation.”…

The candidate jumped at it. He probably wasn’t going to get elected anyway, the team concluded. Why not go big?

Why not indeed? The result was a hollowing out of the Democrats’ backbench due to Obamacare’s deep unpopularity, giving the Democrats very few options for 2016, except for a remarkably flawed retread.

EXPLODING MORE FAKE NEWS: Maddow is wrong. The White House didn’t edit a video or a transcript to remove a question posed to Putin.

Plus:

If you don’t want Trump telling people not to trust what they’re told by the news media, try not telling people things that aren’t true, just because you want them to be.

Also:

The press’s unwillingness — or inability — to address its own failings is a key to Trump’s power, and yet the press remains unwilling or unable to admit that it sucks, and to try to do better. In fact, they’ve doubled down on crazy and misleading because of Trump Derangement Syndrome.

GOOD ADVICE: Don’t Underestimate the Socialist Surge on the Left.

National Democrats are terrified of the rise of Ocasio-Cortez, and for good reason. They may not have any more influence over the socialist surge than Republicans had over Donald Trump’s rise in 2016. Trump broke through Republican “establishment” opposition as if it didn’t exist — because it didn’t. Today’s national parties are event planners for movements. Parties belong to movements more than movements belong to parties. Movements like the Tea Party, and now Democratic socialism, have supplanted party structures as organizers of ideas and debate.

As a longtime aide to U.S. Rep. and then-Sen. Tom Coburn, I can testify to the fact that confronting entrenched power was not mere theory. In fight after fight — especially our successful campaign to eliminate congressional earmarks — we experienced the overwhelming strength of grassroots movements and weakness of national party structures.

Joe Lieberman, the Democratic nominee for vice president in 2000, is right to warn that Ocasio-Cortez’s policies could bankrupt America, but today’s Democratic Party left Lieberman long ago. Today’s Democrats lack the credibility and political power to stop the socialist surge.

As I wrote yesterday at the PJM live blog, political power is usually cyclical, and the GOP is rarely more than one crisis away — real or manufactured — from losing it. And today’s “Democratic” Socialists don’t want to move the ball in between the 40-yard lines, to borrow Charles Krauthammer’s memorable phrase — they want just enough time in power for a Hail Mary attempt all the way into Venezuela.

BYRON YORK: Next step: House Intel asks Trump to declassify rest of FISA application; tantalizing clues about pages 10-12 and 17-34.

The release of a heavily-redacted version of the FBI’s application for a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant to wiretap onetime Trump foreign policy adviser Carter Page has spurred calls to remove the redactions, to un-black out the pages blacked out by the FBI before the document was made public.

The long sections of censored material have made it impossible to reach definitive conclusions about the warrant application. It has also led to the publication of de-contextualized sensational accusations. For example, page 8 of the original warrant application contains a passage which begins with two blacked-out lines, then includes the words “the FBI believes that the Russian Government’s efforts are being coordinated with Page and perhaps other individuals associated with Candidate #1’s [Donald Trump’s] campaign,” and continues with more blacked-out material. Is there a critical prefatory clause in that sentence fragment? The answer is unclear.

Defenders of the FBI have begun to argue that the blacked-out portions contain the truly powerful evidence that supports their position.

“There is clearly information the government provided separate and apart from ‘Source #1′ (Steele) and open source info — and that fact that all those paragraphs are redacted suggests supporting info from OTHER sensitive methods and sources,” tweeted CNN commentator Asha Rangappa, a lawyer and former FBI agent.

It’s a point that is impossible to assess as long as the application remains heavily redacted. Which is why House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Devin Nunes — the man most responsible for bringing the application to light in the first place — is asking President Trump to declassify the rest of the warrant application.

“We want the president to take care of the rest of these redactions, so there is full transparency and sunlight for everyone to see,” Nunes told Fox News’ Laura Ingraham Monday night.

Well, stay tuned.

A FRESH NEW FACE: Joe Biden leads 2020 polls, will decide to run in January.

President Trump may get his 2020 reelection wish now that former Vice President Joe Biden, the leader in several polls on the Democratic primaries, has set January as his decision date.

“I know I have to make up my mind and I have to do it by January,” Biden said this week in Bogota, Colombia.

On CBS Wednesday night, Trump said his dream challenger would be Biden. He said, “I dream about Biden. That’s a dream. Look, Joe Biden ran three times. He never got more than 1 percent and President Obama took him out of the garbage heap, and everybody was shocked that he did. I’d love to have it be Biden.”

Tanned, rested, and ready! Flashback: Biden Swims Naked, Upsetting Female Secret Service Agents:

“Agents say that, whether at the vice president’s residence or at his home in Delaware, Biden has a habit of swimming in his pool nude,” Kessler writes in the book – due for release Aug. 5.

“Female Secret Service agents find that offensive,” he writes.

“Biden likes to be revered as everyday Joe,” an unnamed agent told Kessler. “But the reality is no agents want to go on his detail because Biden makes agents’ lives so tough.”

Plus: Washington Post: What Are We Going To Do About Creepy Uncle Joe Biden?

And: ‘Creepy Veep’ Joe Biden ‘nuzzles’ wife of colleague and claims he is friends with lots of Somali cab drivers.

Also: Joe Biden’s Woman-Touching Habit.

Related: Talking Points Memo: Why Does Creepy Uncle Joe Biden Get A Pass From Liberals?

Plus:

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LIZ SHELD’S MORNING BRIEF: We’ll Always Have Montenegro and Much, Much More. “The latest scandal is that Trump still won’t admit that RUSSIA tried to interfere in the 2016 presidential election, which is an important admission for the media because they want to delegitimize Trump’s election. Do you notice how often the media point out in their pieces or on television that the intelligence agencies agree the RUSSIAN inteference didn’t impact the election outcome? They almost never mention this or if they do, it’s in paragraph 47.”

LIZ SHELD’S MORNING BRIEF: Trump Clarifies Remarks and Much, Much More. “Resistance agitator Sen. Chuck Schumer wants hearings and Trump’s tax returns. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will appear before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee next week “to explain Trump’s one-on-one meetings with the ruthless strongmen.” The appearance was pushed by Iran-friendly GOP Senator Bob Corker.”

BYRON YORK:

There have always been two parts to the Trump-Russia probe: the what-Russia-did part, which is the investigation into Russia’s actions during the campaign, and the get-Trump part, which is the effort to use the investigation to remove him from office.

Trump’s problem is that he has always refused, or been unable, to separate the two. One is about national security and international relations, while the other is about Donald Trump.

The president clearly believes if he gives an inch on the what-Russia-did part — if he concedes that Russia made an effort to disrupt the election — his adversaries, who want to discredit his election, undermine him, and force him from office, will take a mile on the get-Trump part. That’s consistent with how Trump approaches other problems; he doesn’t admit anything, because he knows his adversaries will never be satisfied and just demand more.

Which, to be fair, is true. But York continues:

But Trump’s approach doesn’t work for the Trump-Russia probe. There’s no reason he could not accept the verdicts of the House Intelligence Committee, the Senate Intelligence Committee, the Intelligence Community, and, yes, Mueller, that Russia tried to interfere in the election. There would be no political loss, and, in fact, great political gain, for Trump to endorse that finding.

At the same time, there is nothing wrong with Trump fighting back hard against the get-Trump part of the investigation. Voters know that Democrats, Resistance, and NeverTrump activists have accused Trump of collusion for two years and never proven their case. Mueller has charged lots of people with crimes, but none has involved collusion. That could still change — no one should claim to know what is coming next from Mueller — but Trump, as a matter of his own defense, is justified in repeating the “no collusion” and “witch hunt” mantras.

So in response to the “Who do you believe?” question in Helsinki, Trump could simply have said: I believe the House Intelligence Committee, the Senate Intelligence Committee, and the Intelligence Community. I believe the verdict of U.S. agencies. Russia did it. We’ve retaliated and we’ll do more. But my adversaries at home have turned this into a politically motivated crusade to cripple the president of the United States, and it’s time to stop it. Now, let’s talk about issues that are vital for the future of America and the world.

Yes, he could have. But that’s not Trump’s style. And Trump thinks he’s done better with his own style than by listening to the “experts,” which is generally true . . . so far, anyway.

ANGELO CODEVILLA: Diplomacy 101 vs. Politics Writ Small.

The high professional quality of Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin’s performance at their Monday press conference in Helsinki contrasts sharply with the obloquy by which the bipartisan U.S. ruling class showcases its willful incompetence.

Though I voted for Trump, I’ve never been a fan of his and I am not one now. But, having taught diplomacy for many years, I would choose the Trump-Putin press conference as an exemplar of how these things should be done. Both spoke with the frankness and specificity of serious business. This performance rates an A+.

Well. A performance depends on its intended audience. If the intended audience was the U.S. political class, then Trump gets an F. So who was Trump’s (and Putin’s) intended audience. Audiences?

Meanwhile, some lefties are warning about the anti-Trump hysteria: Steve Vladeck writes: Americans have forgotten what ‘treason’ actually means — and how it can be abused: We are willfully turning a blind eye to the sordid history of treason that led to its unique treatment in the U.S. Constitution. If you cheapen the definition of treason, you had better be ready to be called traitors, and perhaps treated as such.

Likewise, Jay Michaelson in The Daily Beast: Stop Saying Trump Committed ‘Treason.’ You’re Playing Into His Hands.

Treason is clearly defined in the Constitution, which states, in Article III, Section 3: “Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.”

This definition does not apply to Trump. He is not levying war against the United States, and to be an “enemy” requires that a state of war exists between the United States and the foreign nation in question.

That does not exist in the case of Russia. Congress has not declared war, and Russia’s alleged cyberattacks, while they may constitute acts of war in the abstract, have not been regarded as such by the United States. (Last year, the European Union announced it would begin regarding cyberattacks as acts of war.)

Even when Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were convicted of spying for the Soviet Union, they weren’t charged with treason, because the Cold War was undeclared, and not a formal “war.” Nor were other Russian spies such as Aldrich Ames and Robert Hanssen.

In fact, the only indictment of treason since World War II was of American-born al Qaeda supporter Adam Gadahn. Unlike Russia, al Qaeda is a formal “enemy” of the United States, because Congress authorized war against it. And in fitting with war, Gadahn was killed in a U.S. airstrike in 2015.

Perhaps the domestic political class was Trump’s intended audience, and he intended them to go batshit crazy. In that case, A+.

Meanwhile, Roger Kimball writes: What Critics Missed About the Trump-Putin Summit.

As becomes more and more clear as the first Trump Administration evolves, this president is someone who is willing, nay eager, to challenge the bureaucratic status quo, on domestic issues as well as in foreign policy.

Trump inherited a world order on the international front that was constructed in the immediate aftermath of World War II and has subsequently amassed a thick, barnacle-like carapace of bureaucratic procedures. Perhaps those procedures and the institutions that deploy them continue to serve American interests. But what if they don’t?

As I’ve said, the best way to understand the Trump presidency is as the renegotiation of the post-World War II institutional structure. Naturally, the barnacles don’t like that. Maybe they’re right, maybe they’re wrong, but the intensity of their screaming indicates their emotional (and livelihood) investment, not who’s right.

Meanwhile, if the argument is that Trump is a Putin stooge, the arguers have to deal with the fact that Trump is clearly harder on Russia than Obama was, or than Hillary, by all appearances, would have been. Even NeverTrumper Eric Erickson writes: Remember, Trump’s Policies Against Russia Have Been Tougher Than Obama’s.

We’ve been killing Russian mercenaries in Syria. We have expanded and enhanced NATO’s footprint in Eastern Europe over Russian objections. We have sold military weaponry to Ukraine. We have been indicting Russians for interfering in our elections. We have imposed sanctions on Russian oligarchs. We have imposed sanctions on Russia itself. We have actively been aiding Britain and other governments that have seen a Russian presence with targeted assassinations. “We” being the United States under Donald Trump. (See also this thread by James Kirchick)

The media and left would have you believe Donald Trump is captive to Russia. Lately, they’ve been pushing the idea that he may be some sort of sleeper cell Manchurian candidate who Putin owns and controls.

A fellow law prof (of the lefty variety) was even speculating the other day on social media that Melania was Trump’s KGB control agent.

As Walter Russell Mead wrote last year:

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.

So I don’t know if Trump knows what he’s doing. (As proof that his remarks were dumb, he’s already walked them back.) American presidents have historically done badly in their first meetings with Russian leaders, from Kennedy at Vienna to George W. staring into Putin’s soul. And as a general rule, Presidents don’t criticize their own intelligence agencies while at meetings with foreign adversaries. But then, as a general rule, U.S. intelligence agencies aren’t supposed to be involved in domestic politics up to their elbows, as has clearly been the case here. And don’t get me started on John Brennan’s disgraceful comments, which Rand Paul correctly calls “completely unhinged.” Brennan, like his colleagues Comey and Clapper, has made clear the rot at the top of important intelligence agencies, and people like Peter Strzok suggest that the rot extends some ways down from the head. So maybe the general rules don’t apply any more, and Trump is more a symptom than a cause of that.

So maybe his approach to Putin is disastrous, maybe it’s smart. But the most important thing Trump can do is get a better class of people in charge of the institutions where the rot is worst. I don’t know if he can do that at all.

TIM BLAIR TOURS TRUMPLAND WITH IOWAHAWK — AND FINDS IT LARGELY TRUMPLESS:

It helps, too, if your point of arrival in the US isn’t California, where a ragtag pro-Hillary resistance movement remains active. Instead, I flew direct to Dallas before commencing a forensic multistate listening tour through Texas, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Iowa, Indiana, Missouri, and Oklahoma.

As it happens, all of those states voted for Trump. But their larger cities tended to side with Clinton, so a certain balance was available. If people from either side of the alleged Trump divide wished to speak out, I was there to hear them.

Except that nobody wanted to talk about Trump, Clinton or politics in general. This wasn’t due to apathy or lack of engagement. It was because there are more interesting topics of conversation, such as, well, just about everything. Work. Family. Sport. Music. Weather. Cars. Food. The semi-trailer carrying a few tons of bourbon that crashed and caught fire on the interstate. You know, topics people care about outside of election years.

Read the whole thing, although it isn’t entirely surprising to find that people who aren’t obsessed with politics aren’t obsessed with politics.

WHEN POLITICS BECOMES RELIGION: The Whitney Is Not an Art Museum.

The Whitney, as it’s called, is not all bad. It has some nice Hopper, Lichtenstein, and lesser-known artists such as Henry Koerner. The long-exposure photography was excellent too. Unfortunately my pleasant memories of all these works were sullied by the exhibit on the sixth floor — An Incomplete History of Protest.

Rounding the corner to enter the exhibit, I encountered the most fascinating combination of leftism and bad taste ever assembled. There was a mosaic of anti-Vietnam signs, which displayed the hippies’ talents for zeugma (“Save Lives, Not Face”) and swearing (“F*** the Draft”). Then followed a few horrifying AIDS-related posters including genitalia and more wordplay (a picture of Reagan with the caption “He Kills Me”).

Next there was a wall full of agitprop from some organization called the Guerrilla Girls. The material in question looked like advertisements one might have taken out in Ms. magazine back when that was required reading for the fashionably radical. “Republicans do care about women’s rights to control their own bodies!” (Smaller print: “breast augmentation,” “nose jobs,” etc.) “We demand a return to traditional values on abortion!” (Smaller print: “The Catholic Church didn’t ban early abortion until 1869.”)

I truncate the epic catalogue, since by now the reader has surely gotten the point. The exhibit was an entire floor of lies, obscenity, melodrama, and a single rhetorical trick used 8,000 times. Which, to borrow a conceit from Meryl Streep, are not the arts.

This was the museum’s key weakness: It had shunned art and preferred razzmatazz. No doubt I shall be called a philistine hater of modern styles and a pseudo-cultured reactionary, but that is not really at issue here. The question is whether propaganda is art, and the answer is No.

It’s not – but what’s fascinating is how old this all is. As the late Tom Wolfe once wrote about being on a panel discussing “the style of the sixties” at Princeton university, the left’s hatred of fellow Texas-sized government-loving “Progressive” Lyndon Johnson (for largely class-related reasons) quickly and predictably overwhelmed any discussion of aesthetics:

This was the mid-1960’s. The post-World War II boom had by now pumped money into every level of the population on a scale unparalleled in any nation in history. Not only that, the folks were running wilder and freer than any people in history. For that matter, [Paul] Krassner himself, in one of the strokes of exuberance for which he was well known, was soon to publish a slight hoax: an account of how Lyndon Johnson was so overjoyed about becoming President that he had buggered a wound in the neck of John F. Kennedy on Air Force One as Kennedy’s body was being flown back from Dallas. Krassner presented this as a suppressed chapter from William Manchester’s book Death of a President. Johnson, of course, was still President when it came out. Yet the merciless gestapo dragnet missed Krassner, who cleverly hid out onstage at Princeton on Saturday nights.

Suddenly I heard myself blurting out over my microphone: “My God, what are you talking about? We’re in the middle of a … Happiness Explosion!”

That merely sounded idiotic. The kid up in the balcony did the crying baby. The kid down below did the raccoon … Krakatoa, East of Java … I disappeared in a tidal wave of rude sounds … Back to the goon squads, search-and-seize and roust-a-daddy …

Support came from a quarter I hadn’t counted on.

It was Grass, speaking in English. “For the past hour I have my eyes fixed on the doors here,” he said. “You talk about fascism and police repression. In Germany when I was a student, they come through those doors long ago. Here they must be very slow.”

Grass was enjoying himself for the first time all evening. He was not simply saying, “You really don’t have so much to worry about.” He was indulging his sense of the absurd. He was saying: “You American intellectuals—you want so desperately to feel besieged and persecuted!”

And it has always been thus. As Glenn has written, “One of Trump’s major accomplishments has been to reveal the lack of civic virtue and self-control across our elite institutions.” But perhaps not yet enough to ask, “Are we the baddies?”

NEWS FROM THE WORLD OF DESIGN: Trump wants new Air Force One to trade iconic light blue ‘Jackie Kennedy’ paint job for bolder ‘more American’ colors. He also thinks the bed should be at least as nice as the one on his personal jet.

QUESTION ASKED: Did FBI get bamboozled by multiple versions of Trump dossier?

John Solomon:

We know from public testimony that dossier author and former British intelligence agent Christopher Steele shared his findings with the FBI in summer and fall 2016 before he was terminated as a confidential source for inappropriate media contacts.

And we learned that Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) provided a copy to the FBI after the November 2016 election — out of a sense of duty, his office says.

Now, memos the FBI is turning over to Congress show the bureau possessed at least three versions of the dossier and its mostly unverified allegations of collusion.

Each arrived from a different messenger: McCain, Mother Jones reporter David Corn, Fusion GPS founder (and Steele boss) Glenn Simpson.

That revelation is in an email that disgraced FBI counterintelligence agent Peter Strzok wrote to FBI executives around the time BuzzFeed published a version of the dossier on Jan. 10, 2017.

“Our internal system is blocking the site,” Strzok wrote of the document posted on BuzzFeed. “I have the PDF via iPhone but it’s 25.6MB. Comparing now. The set is only identical to what McCain had. (it has differences from what was given to us by Corn and Simpson.)”

The significance of Strzok’s email is obvious to investigators who reviewed it in recent days. The FBI is supposed to be immune to manipulation by circular information flows, especially with sensitive investigations such as evaluating whether a foreign power tampered with an American election.

Yet, in this case, the generally same information kept walking through the FBI’s door for months — recycled each time by a new character with ties to Hillary Clinton or hatred for Trump — until someone decided they had to act.

Read the whole thing.

Although perhaps the more pertinent question is: Did the FBI want to get bamboozled by multiple versions of Trump dossier?

IS CONGRESS ABOUT TO GET TOUGH (FINALLY!)? House Freedom Caucus Chairman Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) sounded supremely confident last night on Fox News, declaring, according to LifeZette’s Kathryn Blackhurst, that former FBI lawyer Lisa Page “will be held in contempt” if she doesn’t show up today or Friday to answer questions from members of the House Judiciary Committee and the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

Meadows’ assertion prompted a crucially important reminder from liberal Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz that a congressional finding of contempt would be forwarded to the Department of Justice for enforcement. But DOJ under President Donald Trump and his predecessor, Barack Obama, has all but refused to enforce congressional subpoenas related to high-profile oversight investigations (Think Fast and Furious, Benghazi, IRS Targeting, FBI Hillary Email and Russia Collusion).

So, Dershowitz notes, “But if the Justice Department doesn’t do it, Congress is an independent branch of government. It can hold somebody in contempt. It can literally order the person to go into the basement jail cell, and then that person would have to go to court to seek a writ of habeas corpus.” Yes, Congress could have jailed then-Attorney General Eric Holder, then-IRS executive Lois Lerner and now Lisa Page for refusing to cooperate.

In fact, as I have repeatedly reported since Fast and Furious, jailing non-cooperative individuals is part of the inherent contempt power of Congress. It’s one of five tough tools the Founders gave Congress in making it the first and most powerful branch of the federal government. And it’s long past time for those tools to be used, at least if Congress wants its subpoenas to be obeyed.

 

WOULD A PUTIN PUPPET WANT TO WAKE THEM UP? Trump Just Gave NATO A Wake-Up Call — Will Europe Pick Up?

The European Union has used hefty U.S. defense spending and its willingness to send American troops into harm’s way to protect Europe. It is in effect a kind of social welfare subsidy: We spend money on arms, they build ever-more generous welfare states.

And then, from the safety of their left-leaning think tanks, universities and EU bureaucracies, they complain about American “militarism,” “imperialism,” and “aggression.”

It’s getting tiresome, but it bears repeating. NATO’s 28 members are required by the treaty that established the mutual defense organization to spend 2% of their gross domestic product on defense.

In 2016, President Obama’s final year in office, the U.S. spent 3.6% of its GDP on defense, Greece 2.4%, the U.K. 2.2%, Estonia 2.16% and Poland 2%. Everyone else was below 2%. Everyone.

And note that those that are pulling their weight are among Europe’s poorest nations. The others should be ashamed, but shame is in short supply in Europe these days.

As with the American left, the combination of sanctimony and cheesiness is infuriating.

HERE’S MORE ON THAT IMPORTANT FIRST/SECOND AMENDMENT CASE I MENTIONED YESTERDAY: The Government Will Allow Cody Wilson’s Defense Distributed to Distribute Gun-Making Software.

The Justice Department has reached a settlement with the Second Amendment Foundation and Defense Distributed, a collective that organizes, promotes, and distributes technologies to help home gun-makers. Under the agreement, which resolved a suit filed by the two groups in 2015, Americans may “access, discuss, use, reproduce or otherwise benefit from the technical data” that the government had previously ordered Defense Distributed to cease distributing.

Before this, the feds had insisted that Defense Distributed’s gun-making files violate the munitions export rules embedded in the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR). Defense Distributed’s suit claimed that this was was “censorship of Plaintiffs’ speech,” since the files in question consist of computer code and thus counted as expression. It also argued that “the ad hoc, informal and arbitrary manner in which that scheme is applied, violate the First, Second, and Fifth Amendments.” (The Second because the information in the computer files implicates weapons possession rights.)

In what is a very unusual move in ITAR actions, the government will pay more than $39,000 of the plaintiffs’ legal and administrative fees. Cody Wilson, chieftain of Defense Distributed, tells Wired that this is only about 10 percent of what they’ve spent.

That Wired story is mostly devoted to scaring the reader about what a world in which people are freer to use computer files to make weapons at home might mean. Wilson is open that as far as he’s concerned, he’s killed the cause of gun control by popularizing the home construction of weapons via computer instructions.

Wired also speculates that the settlement is some sign of a Trump administration bending over backwards to satisfy a Second Amendment constituency. Alan Gura, one of the lawyers on the plaintiffs’ side—and the attorney who won both 2008’s Heller case and 2010’s McDonald, two major Supreme Court victories for gun rights—disagrees, noting the administration’s record in other ongoing Second Amendment cases.

“This administration maintained the Obama DOJ’s cert petition in Binderup (denied 7-2), and has consistently opposed all other as-applied Second Amendment challenges, including Kanter (they won, Kanter appealed), Hatfield (they lost and just appealed), Medina (they won and Medina, repped by me on appeal, appealed, argument 9/11), and Reyes (being litigated now…),” Gura says in an email today. “They have also continued defending the appeal in Mance [regarding gun purchases across state lines]—they had over a year to change their mind, see the light, and admit that the district court was right, but they stuck to their appeal which unfortunately they won, and are defending against the currently-pending en banc petition. There are other cases they defend, some of course less meritorious, but any notion that Trump is pro-gun and having DOJ roll over would be fantasy.”

The more likely factor behind the settlement, Gura believes, is that the government “realized that not a single 5th Circuit judge offered that they were likely to succeed on the merits. To the contrary, the centerpiece of their victory was that they could somehow avoid the merits. When they could avoid the merits no longer, suddenly the national security threat faded away.”

Wired is a sad shadow of its former self. And I want to point out that this started with a 2014 Tennessee Law Review symposium on the Second Amendment.

ED MORRISSEY: Kavanaugh pick: Who expected a conventional choice from the most unconventional president?

So why go the conventional route? This might be a long-term strategy meant to shore up his 2020 re-election bid and head off any significant primary challenges. The next term in office may well present even more opportunities for Supreme Court appointments, and Trump may want to impress on conservatives his reliability and predictability on this key issue.

Seems plausible. I would have preferred Randy Barnett, but you can’t have everything.

HMMMM: The Next American Revolution: #WalkAway.

Democrats who believe that they have a permanent hold on the African-American vote should take a look at how these voters view their position on immigration. A recent Harvard-Harris survey found that African-Americans are the racial group most opposed to unlimited immigration. Whereas 79 percent of whites want to prioritize legal immigrants based on what they can contribute to our society, fully 85 percent of African-Americans hold that view. A party that advocates open borders and the abolition of ICE is going to get fewer and fewer of their votes.

The Democrats are in denial on this as well. They obviously believe that constantly accusing President Trump and his supporters of racism will somehow keep African-Americans on the liberal plantation. These people evidently failed to notice that, after Kanye West signaled his affinity for the President, a Reuters survey found that Trump’s support among African-American men doubled. This isn’t a huge number. But it won’t take a very large number of electoral defections to assure the death of the Democratic Party. But the Democrats and their media enablers remain in denial. As the Post writer quoted above confidently assures us:

There’s little actual evidence to suggest that #WalkAway represents a mass conversion… the#WalkAway hashtag is going Conservative Internet viral on the same hope driving recent pro-Trump support of Kanye West: that the country is on the verge of a mass conversion to conservative thought, a Great Awakening of sorts.

What this young lady, and the political party for which she shills, won’t see is what the Pew survey all but shouts at them. A “Great Awakening” isn’t required. All that is needed is about 5 percent more African-Americans to vote Republican and another 5 to 10 percent to simply stay home. And once they kick the Democrat habit, they won’t backslide. As Candace Owens puts it, paraphrasing Harriet Tubman, “I’ve seen black liberals go conservative, but never seen a black conservative go liberal.” So, let’s hope the Democrats and the “news” media keep dismissing #WalkAway. That means, to quote Reagan, “We win, they lose.”

Read the whole thing.

RADICAL INACTION AT THE ‘FAMILIES BELONG TOGETHER MARCH’ IN NEW YORK:

The Brooklyn rally is almost indistinguishable from the Manhattan one. We chant more about resisting. Local politicians champion minority communities in the Bronx and Queens. I miss Al Sharpton’s speech by a few minutes—but I hear he said the sorts of things Al Sharpton says.

Rise up. Resist.

I find a park bench after gulping from a park water fountain. Soon a woman sits down next to me. Her name is Maria, and she tells me she’s been an activist for a long time. Her graying hair her tells me that could mean decades.

“But I’m not a revolutionary by any means,” Maria tells me. “I made my own sign, see?”

It reads: “Walk in another’s shoes.”

Maria explains that she comes from a family of Trump voters, but isn’t one herself. She just wants to love people. She’s talkative and kind—in my sunstroked haze, I feel like I’m making a friend.

“Can I tell you a secret?” she asks, beckoning me with a whisper.

“Yeah of course.”

She gestures at the loudspeakers on the lawn and sighs.

“None of this is new. This is just the same old stuff they told us to chant in the sixties—and nothing changed then either.”

Heh. Read the whole thing.

EZRA LEVANT: “Male feminist Justin Trudeau is just as handsy as Bill Clinton was.”

This Creston groping incident would sink another politician. In fact, Trudeau himself has fired a number of Liberal MPs from his caucus for less.

The Canadian Media Party ignored the story.

But slowly, as the foreign press ate the Canadian Media Party’s lunch on this, a few Canadian reporters summoned the courage to put a question to their precious leader. But it was just stranger and stranger.

The UK Guardian has the headline, “Trudeau: I apologised to reporter behind groping claim. Canadian PM ‘very confident’ he did not act inappropriately at music festival in 2000.” Say what you will about Trudeau, but Prime Minister Zoolander sure can tap dance:

Trudeau addressed the allegation briefly on Monday, describing the day of the event as a “good day” and one in which he did not recall any “negative interactions”.

After calls for an independent investigation into the claim and opposition criticism of his initial response, Trudeau addressed the issue at length on Thursday.

“I’ve been reflecting very carefully on what I remember from that incident almost 20 years ago,” he told reporters. “I do not feel that I acted inappropriately in any way. But I respect the fact that someone else might have experienced that differently.”

When asked about why he had apologised to the woman after the alleged incident, Trudeau said: “If I apologised later, it would be because I sensed that she was not entirely comfortable with the interaction that we had.”

Pressed further, he acknowledged he had atoned for his actions at the time. “I apologised in the moment,” he said, without giving details.

Trudeau said he had not attempted to contact the woman, nor had anyone from his team. “We don’t think that would be appropriate at all.”

He said the issues surrounding sexual assault and other behaviours had been something he had been actively engaged in since his early 20s. He characterised the allegation against him as part of an “awakening” currently taking place in society.

“I don’t want to speak for her, I don’t want to presume how she feels now,” Trudeau said. “I’m responsible for my side of the interaction, which certainly – as I said – I don’t feel was in anyway untoward.”

He continued: “But at the same time, this lesson that we are learning – and I’ll be blunt about it – often a man experiences an interaction as being benign, or not inappropriate, and a woman, particularly in a professional context can experience it differently. And we have to respect that, and reflect on it.”

As Rex Murphy of Canada’s National Post writes, in an article found via Small Dead Animals titled, “Trudeau’s ‘awakening’ on groping allegations is (ahem) a bit of a reach,” “And as for the incident being ‘an awakening we’re having as a society,’ that is delusionary nonsense, a string of ‘tone’ words, the vague, anxious music of virtue-signalling hummed by someone in a tight political spot. The thought is inescapable that whoever is devising the ‘communications strategy’ on this incident has a grudge against the prime minister, and is running a private experiment to see how many strange and illogical ramblings he can put in his mouth.”

When does he vow to produce more feminist-themed motion pictures and double-down on his fight against Trump and the NRA?

(Incidentally do not miss the photo of young Zoolander Trudeau, complete with exotic facial topiary and stylin’ shades from the 2000 Creston festival that accompanies Murphy’s article.)

WE MUST DESTROY THE REPUBLICAN PARTY IN ORDER TO SAVE IT: Ed links below to Neo-Neocon’s rebuttal to Max Boot et al. Here’s what I think people must understand:

Here’s what Democrats are campaigning on:

  • Raise taxes by a trillion dollars — at least. Trillions more if they got all the programs they want.
  • A $15 minimum wage
  • Universal single-payer health care
  • End pretty much any control over the borders or immigration enforcement inside the U.S. — and while I believe in open borders in principle, open borders and a $15 minimum wage and expanding social programs are, finally, just crazy talk.
  • Impeachment — followed by an extended Constitutional crisis, either with McConnell pointing and laughing, or Chuck Schumer trying to push it through, and then failing to get two-thirds of the Senate to vote to convict. Or getting a conviction followed by Pence becoming president, rinse and repeat.

Let’s be real emphatic here: by pushing for votes for Democrats to “punish Trump” or “save the Republican Party” that’s what you’re advocating. Voting for Democrats means voting for their policies.

The notion that it’s worth giving up all of that in order to punish the electorate for electing a crude real-estate developer instead of the Right Kind of People might make you any number of things.

“Conservative,” however, is not one of them.

‘A CRIMINAL ORGANIZATION MASQUERADING AS A POLITICAL PARTY’ is how Michael Walsh, writing in the guise of his leftwing alter-ego, David Kahane, has described the Democratic party on occasion. And the New York Times, its house organ, concurs! In an article yesterday titled “Democrats: Do Not Surrender the Judiciary,” the Gray Lady’s editorial board has a modest plan for their party:

With Republicans controlling the Senate and the judicial filibuster dead, the Democrats’ odds of denying President Trump a second Supreme Court appointment are slim. Barring some unforeseen development, the president will lock in a 5-to-4 conservative majority, shifting the court solidly to the right for a generation.

This is all the more reason for Democrats and progressives to take a page from “The Godfather” and go to the mattresses on this issue.

“I’m confused on if 1. Anyone on The NY Times Ed Board has seen The Godfather or if 2. They have and are suggesting starting a murderous mob war to prevent a SCOTUS pick,” Stephen Miller asks. “Because THIS is what happens when you go to the mattresses,” Twitchy adds:

I’m old enough to remember when the left wanted gun-related metaphors to be considered the equivalent of the N-word; now they’re ready to launch mob wars and put horses’ heads into beds. I eagerly await Paul Krugman’s condemnation of his own newspaper’s eliminationist rhetoric.

ROGER KIMBALL: As Trump Builds, the Resistance Shouts ‘Destroy!’

It did not take long to destroy Venezuela. It will take many years, much heartache and suffering, and enormous resources to put it back together.

There is a lesson here for the loud and unseemly American Leftists and their unlikely brethren, the soi-disant “conservative” Never Trumpers, who are trampling on civility, rejecting the processes of democratic governance, and encouraging violence. “There’s a deal of ruin in a nation,” Adam Smith observed to a disconsolate Brit during the American Revolution, especially a nation as prosperous and stable as the United States.

I think they’re living by Rhett Butler’s insight that there’s as much money to be made in tearing down a civilization as in building one up. Plus:

This article in the Daily Beast, like so many anti-Trump fusillades, cloaks itself in the mantle of “democracy.” But the dirty little secret of The Resistance is that what it is “resisting” are the results of a free, open, and democratic election. Donald Trump won in 2016. Hillary Clinton lost. That is the painful, indigestible, intolerable reality. The Resistance is therefore on the side of the enemies of democracy, and its never-ending cascade of calumnies about how Donald Trump is “dismantling democracy” is just a blind, what Freudians would call “projection” and Marxists “increasing the contradictions.” A more commonplace phrase is “arrant nonsense.” They don’t like the results of the election. That does nothing to invalidate it. They don’t like Trump’s pro-American, pro-growth policies: most people do.

My larger point, however, has to do with the baleful effects of the antinomian antics of the anti-Trump “Resistance.” Their histrionics take place against the background of, and with the tacit license of, a stable and forgiving social structure. But should the Resistance actually achieve the ends it pretends to want, that stability and largesse would vanish like dew off a morning rose.

The resistance is a tantrum of spoiled people and small minds.

DISPATCHES FROM FLYOVER COUNTRY: Trump Country, it turns out, is more tolerant than the left.

Since President Trump’s election, journalists, political scientists and others from across the United States and around the world have visited our little southern Ohio town, population 6,600, to study the natives. Naturally, patronizing local eateries at breakfast or lunchtime is usually part of their itinerary.

Some have told me later that, during their interviews, they went out of their way to identify themselves as liberals who have little use for our president. To their credit, they wanted to be honest about who they were and what they were doing. They were sometimes treated with a degree of skepticism, but without fail, they say that people were polite and willing to talk to them — not to mention serve them breakfast or lunch.

We contrast this, of course, with the recent episodes involving Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, both of whom were essentially evicted from restaurants — Nielsen heckled away by customers, Sanders asked by the restaurant owner to leave — for the crime of Trump association, similar to a misdemeanor but quickly approaching felony status.

Nielsen was targeted by a liberal mob mentality that is no longer confined to college campus reactions to conservative speakers. The Sanders case is at least as disturbing, both for the precedent it sets as well as much of the media’s rather sympathetic portrayal of the restaurant owner who “stood by her principles.”

Read the whole thing, even though none of it comes as a surprise to anyone outside America’s parochial and mistrustful Blue enclaves.