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THE WALL STREET JOURNAL EDITORIALIZES: The FBI’s Trump ‘Insurance:’ More troubling evidence of election meddling at the bureau.

Democrats and the media are accusing anyone who criticizes special counsel Robert Mueller as Trumpian conspirators trying to undermine his probe. But who needs critics when Mr. Mueller’s team is doing so much to undermine its own credibility?

Wednesday’s revelations—they’re coming almost daily—include the Justice Department’s release of 2016 text messages to and from Peter Strzok, the FBI counterintelligence agent whom Mr. Mueller demoted this summer. The texts, which he exchanged with senior FBI lawyer Lisa Page, contain expletive-laced tirades against Mr. Trump. Such Trump hatred is no surprise and not by itself disqualifying. More troubling are texts that suggest that some FBI officials may have gone beyond antipathy to anti-Trump plotting.

“I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in Andy’s office—that there’s no way [Trump] gets elected—but I’m afraid we can’t take that risk,” Mr. Strzok wrote Ms. Page in an Aug. 15, 2016 text. He added: “It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you’re 40.”

What “policy” would that be? The “Andy” in question is Andrew McCabe, the deputy FBI director. FBI officials are allowed to have political opinions, but what kind of action were they discussing that would amount to anti-Trump “insurance”?

In another exchange that month, Ms. Page forwarded a Trump-related article and wrote: “Maybe you’re meant to stay where you are because you’re meant to protect the country from that menace.” He thanked her and assured: “Of course I’ll try and approach it that way.” Mr. Strzok, recall, is the man who changed the words “grossly negligent” to “extremely careless” in James Comey’s July 2016 public exoneration of Hillary Clinton’s emails.

The McCabe meeting came on the heels of the FBI’s launch of its counterintelligence probe into Trump-Russia ties. July is also when former British spook Christopher Steele briefed the FBI on his Clinton-financed dossier of salacious allegations against Mr. Trump. The texts explain why Mr. Mueller would remove Mr. Strzok, though a straight shooter wouldn’t typically resist turning those messages over to Congress for as long as Mr. Mueller did.

Meanwhile, we’re learning more about the political motives of Mr. Mueller’s lieutenant, Andrew Weissmann.

Related: Fusion DOJ: It’s getting hard to tell where the Clinton campaign ends and the federal law enforcement apparatus begins.

Is animus toward President Donald Trump a prerequisite for landing a job with special counsel Robert Mueller ? Recent revelations in Washington also raise again the question of what former President Barack Obama knew about the decisions of his FBI Director James Comey to exonerate Hillary Clinton and investigate Mr. Trump in 2016. . . .

Mr. Trump does not have to be paranoid to believe that the indigenous creatures of the Beltway swamp are out to get him. A number of them have put it in writing. This column can only imagine what the two political lawyers Ms. Page and Mr. Strzok said about Mr. Trump when they weren’t creating electronic records of their conversations.

Plus: Why did a federal judge overseeing a major Fusion GPS court case never disclose that she worked for multiple firms that hired Fusion GPS?

BYRON YORK: After mysterious ‘insurance policy’ text, will Justice Department reveal more on FBI agent bounced from Mueller probe?

Yes, the release of texts sent between top FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page show that both loathed Donald Trump while they were working on investigations involving Trump as a presidential candidate and later as president. Of course, lots of federal employees loathe Trump. It would be hard for all of them to recuse themselves from government matters, although it is probably not a great idea to have them play key roles in high-stakes probes that could have a momentous effect on the presidency.

More troubling, in the set of texts released Tuesday night, is a single message, from Strzok to Page, dated Aug. 15, 2016. Here is what it said:

I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in Andy’s office that there’s no way he gets elected — but I’m afraid we can’t take that risk. It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you’re 40….

What does that mean? “Andy” apparently refers to FBI No. 2 Andrew McCabe, who was overseeing the bureau’s Trump investigation. “He” apparently refers to Trump. And “insurance policy” apparently refers to…well, it is not known what that refers to. Actually, we don’t know with absolute confidence what any of it refers to.

It’s suspicious. And I’d still like to know whether Lisa Page approved Peter Strzok’s warrant applications to the FISA court. I asked Mueller’s office about that, but they said no comment.

RON ROTUNDA ON RECUSAL: Justice Ginsburg has some explaining to do.

The Supreme Court allowed President Trump’s travel ban to go into effect this week, overturning a lower court ruling as a federal appeals court considers the issue. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dissented and did not disqualify herself from that preliminary decision. Two questions emerge: First, why not? And second, will she disqualify herself if the court takes the case?

We already know what Ginsburg thinks of the president. She told us more than a year ago that she “can’t imagine what the country would be . . . with Donald Trump as our president.” Facing criticism for her apparent endorsement of Hillary Clinton and her attacks on Trump, Ginsburg doubled down, emphasizing in a CNN interview: “He is a faker.” She then went on “point by point, as if presenting a legal brief,” the CNN analyst said.

Her statements are particularly troubling in the context of the travel ban case, in which the crucial issue — at least, according to the lower courts and the plaintiffs — is the personal credibility of Trump and whether he delivered his executive order in good faith — in other words, whether he is faking it. It’s no wonder 58 House Republicans sent Ginsburg a letter calling for her recusal because of her comments before the election.

She doesn’t care, because #Resistance. But, once again, efforts to “denormalize” Trump will instead weaken institutions people want to constrain him with.

DON’T FORGET THE SECURITY ADVANTAGES: Spread the swamp? Trump administration wants to move government offices out of Washington

Advocates for this idea neglect perhaps its most important aspect, the way it would make the federal government much more resilient in the aftermath of a catastrophic terrorist attack on Washington, D.C., such as a dirty bomb or biological attack on the Metro. Why would you want all of the most important government offices and officials to be concentrated within a few square miles?

CHANGE: The Rebirth of America’s Pro-Natalist Movement: Activists on the right and left want policies that will reverse the country’s baby bust. But the broader culture—and Congress—don’t seem to care.

America needs more babies.

That’s what policymakers seem to have decided, from the White House to Capitol Hill. Congress spent November considering the Child Tax Credit, a measure that reduces the federal income taxes owed by families with kids. The Senate and the House both voted to raise the credit in their recent tax bills, which will soon be reconciled. Meanwhile, two Democratic senators, Michael Bennet and Sherrod Brown, proposed their own version of an increase. And led by Ivanka Trump, the Trump administration has been softly pushing a child-care tax deduction and federal paid-maternity-leave program.

These programs have been sold as ways to support struggling middle-class families, but they also address another issue: declining birth rates. Government data suggests the U.S. has experienced drops in fertility across multiple measures in recent years. Even Hispanic Americans, who have had high fertility rates compared to other ethnic groups in recent decades, are starting to have fewer babies. Lyman Stone, an economist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture who blogs about fertility in his spare time, called this year’s downward fertility trend “the great baby bust of 2017.”

These are the seeds of a nascent pro-natalist movement, a revived push to organize American public policy around childbearing. While putatively pro-family or pro-child policymaking has a long history in the U.S., the latest push has a new face. It’s more Gen X than Baby Boom. It’s pro-working mom. And it upends typical left-right political valences: Measures like the Child Tax Credit find surprising bipartisan support in Congress. Over the last year or so, the window of possibility for pro-natalist policies has widened.

Read the whole thing. I’m beginning to think it was a mistake to listen to Paul Ehrlich.

MARTHA STEWART JOKED, “I HEAR NBC EXECUTIVES CALL MATT THE ‘COCK OF THE ROCK:’” ‘They all knew’: Media elites roared in laughter at obscene 2008 ‘roast’ sending up Matt Lauer’s office sexcapades.

The 2008 Friars Club roast took place at the New York Hilton and was attended by everyone from future President Donald Trump to TV legend Norman Lear to a constellation of New York’s media elite including Brian Williams, Diane Sawyer, Nancy O’Dell and Howard Stern. Also on hand were numerous top executives from across the business and almost everyone who was anyone at NBC News. Fox News has confirmed many details of the roast with a media executive who attended, and has also drawn on the one contemporaneous account of the roast, which appeared in The Village Voice.

Speaker Martha Stewart joked, “I hear NBC executives call Matt the ‘Cock of the Rock,’” according to The Voice.

Another of the roast’s speakers was current CNN Worldwide President Jeff Zucker — then the chairman of NBC Universal — who last week adamantly denied that he had any idea about Lauer’s in-office sexcapades.

“It’s just good to see Matt up here and not under my desk,” Zucker said from the podium. “I don’t want to say Matt is a germophobe, but he’s the only guy I know who uses Purell both before and after he masturbates.”

Perhaps the big catch there is Zucker, who has been in full Sgt. Schultz mode during the past week regarding his former employee, including last Thursday when he said, “I’ve known Matt for 25 years and I didn’t know this Matt.” But we’ve been seeing numerous variations of the above article in recent weeks. As Daniel Greenfield writes today at Front Page, “The massive media machine built to smear and steamroll Republicans never bothered to report what everybody on the inside already knew. The wannabe Woodwards and Bernsteins in every paper, news bureau and explainer site weren’t investigating the scandals they already knew about. Those weren’t the scandals they were looking for. That’s why no one trusts them. Hollywood, the media and the Democrats have been preaching to us about sexism and feminism for generations. Meanwhile behind the cameras and the chambers, an assault spree was in progress. And everybody knew.”

QED, these articles, all recent Insta-links:

● Cokie Roberts: Oh, We All Knew to Avoid Getting in an Elevator with Rep. Conyers.

● “Or, to put it another way: More than 20 people in one magazine office alone all had the story about Harvey Weinstein’s ‘mistreatment’ of women. So why didn’t anyone write it? Not to take anything away from Jodi Kantor’s excellent New York Times piece, but the reality is that everyone had the story. The reason no one wrote it is not because the press wanted to get Weinstein, but couldn’t prove the story. No, it’s because the press was protecting Weinstein.”

Charlie Rose, sexual harassment and the female newsroom managers who looked away.

Kevin Spacey is another ‘everyone knew’ — who else does Hollywood know about?

Amazing how many in the political-media-industrial complex “everybody knew,” and couldn’t be bothered telling the public.

DESPERATE FOR CHEAP SHOTS, Newsweek charges Ivanka Trump with plagiarizing “one of her own speeches” in India. You can’t plagiarize yourself.

Lots of background on plagiarism here. But this sort of crazed press attack is why people have tuned out even substantive criticisms. You want more Roy Moore? This is how you get more Roy Moore.

UPDATE: Under universal mockery, Newsweek changes the headline, though a story about a political figure giving similar speeches isn’t a story at all, and just underscores what a sad reach-for-something-damaging this was.

BECAUSE “THE RESISTANCE” IS A BUNCH OF CHILDISH JERKS: Why Is the ‘Resistance’ Harassing This Man? FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and his family endure a season of hatred.

Speaking of crossing lines, unhinged critics on Twitter have attacked Mr. Pai’s Indian heritage and wished death by AIDS and cancer upon him and his family. Mr. Pai’s Chief of Staff, Matthew Berry, has posted some of the appalling messages.

According to Variety, Mr. Pai’s wife “has received threatening messages at her workplace, according to an FCC source.” April Glaser has more in Slate:

It wasn’t the first time that activists apparently showed up near his home. Menacing, handwritten signs also appeared in Pai’s local neighborhood, including one that named his children and the question, “How will they ever look you in the eye again?” In May, in what appeared to be a coordinated campaign by the advocacy group Popular Resistance, people left flyers on Pai’s neighbors’ doors that included his picture, age, and weight. Unfortunately, such attacks aren’t new to Pai, who has endured a steady stream of racist, lewd, and threatening backlash since April, when he introduced his intention to gut the net neutrality rules. . . .

As irresponsible as such language is, it’s also ridiculous. The resisters are casting as a fundamental free speech right what was essentially a gift to tech lobbyists. Companies like Netflix, which by some measures generates more than a third of all North American Internet traffic, and Google, which also generates significant traffic via its YouTube video service, didn’t want to pay market rates to companies like Verizon for moving that traffic. Essentially, Silicon Valley wanted to cut its phone bill and it persuaded President Obama to instruct his supposedly independent telecom regulators to make it happen.

They told me if Trump were elected, racist mobs would harass minority members and government officials who were just trying to stand up to corporate looting. And they were right!

SNATCHING DEFEAT FROM THE JAWS OF VICTORY: Trump’s invoking “Pocahontas” to criticize Elizabeth Warren at a ceremony to honor Navajo war heroes was to say the least highly inappropriate and buffoonish. Yet somehow, the Democrats and their media allies have shifted the focus to a clear loser, the question of Warren’s phony claim to Native American heritage. Meanwhile, media outlets keep referring to Warren as having “claimed” or “unsubstantiated” Native American heritage. Five years after the controversy over her “claim” originally broke, if there were any evidence, DNA or genealogical, supporting the claim she would have produced it by now. Why can’t reporters bring themselves to write something like “apparently false claim…” at this point? I think we know the answer. You want more Trump? This is how you get more Trump.

WHY ROY MOORE MIGHT WIN: BLAME THE MEDIA. “How have we reached a point in this country when nearly half the voters of a U.S. state so mistrust, and even revile, major media outlets that they are willing to brush aside credible evidence and elect an accused sexual predator simply out of spite? How have we reached a point where a president of the United States can just declare ‘fake’ news he doesn’t like—and largely get away with it?”

I dunno, maybe skim my blog archives back at least to 2003? Or maybe read this. Or this.

FLASHBACK: A LOOK AT WHAT HAPPENED WITH NIR ROSEN: “It seems that Rosen has been getting away with making outrageous statements for so long that it’s no wonder that he felt emboldened to tweet away and mock Logan with impunity. This time, though, he happened to have hit on a subject that was offensive to leftist sensibilities as well as those on the right — and he discovered that there are finally consequences, even for Nir Rosen. It couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy.”

How many of these anti-American hacks are out there doing allegedly factual reportage? They keep turning up. See, e.g., Chris Hedges. And as was noted after Toby Harnden’s revelations about the Baghdad press corps, the journalistic omerta that keeps these things from being reported only serves to undermine the entire profession’s trustworthiness.

Related: Kyle Smith: Unhinged coverage of Trump is hurting the media.

A year ago this week, I marveled at the pot-boiling-over frenzy of Donald Trump Derangement Syndrome in the media. Well, today, the media’s kitchen is a shambles. Spaghetti sauce is splattered all over the walls, and the Fourth Estate is pouring more Prego marinara into the pot while keeping the heat turned up to the level marked “thermonuclear.”

Not only is everything (still) hyper-politicized, but the lines between news media, lifestyle media and flat-out activism have faded into irrelevance. . . . The unhinged coverage of all Trump scandals, real and imagined, has cost the media in the eyes of the public, among whom only 39 percent said they had a “great deal” or even “some” confidence in news outlets last November.

Indeed.

IF YOU’RE LOOKING FOR MORE THINGS TO KEEP YOU UP AT NIGHT: Forget about global warming, North Korea, race relations or giant metal robots who want to steal your medicine. The New Yorker has found a historian/researcher who claims that “that there are probably around two thousand serial killers at large in the U.S.” The Daily Mail summarized the story with a Rogue’s Gallery of serial killers.

This comes two days after Newsweek published a spurious and much-ridiculed article noting that both Charles Manson and Donald Trump “used language” to “attract followers.” Imagine that. If Newsweek really wants to freak out their readership, they should publish a follow-up reporting that there are approximately two thousand Donald Trumps at large in the U.S.

**UPDATE** Newsweek removes reference to Trump, saying that “An earlier version of this story did not meet Newsweek’s editorial standards and has been revised accordingly.” 

**UPDATE 2 ** Newsweek still has original headline up on their Twitter feed…for now.

CONRAD BLACK: Donald Trump Is The Most Successful U.S. President Since Ronald Reagan: “It is too early to predict whether he will be a successful president or not. But no one relying on the Canadian media would be aware that he has more than doubled the economic growth rate, reduced illegal immigration by about 80 per cent, withdrawn from the insane Paris Climate accord, helped add trillions to U.S. stock market values, created nearly two million new jobs, led the rout of ISIL, and gained full Chinese adherence to the unacceptability of North Korean nuclear military capability. He will probably pass the greatest tax cuts and reforms since Reagan, if not Lyndon Johnson, by Christmas, and may throw out the most unpopular feature of Obamacare, the coercive mandate, with it.”

Well, you wouldn’t learn much more from following U.S. media. But for the moment I think Trump is happy to have this stuff going on under the media radar. When he wants it to be news, I suspect he’ll figure out a way to make it news.

THE WAGES OF BARNEY FRANK AND ELIZABETH WARREN: A Wall Street Journal op-ed by a former Barney Frank staffer, Dennis Shaul, bewails a great mistake by the Democrats: the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).

Richard Cordray’s resignation as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau provides a great opportunity for President Trump to appoint a new director who can undo an unfortunate legacy of bureaucratic overreach and political bias. More important going forward is what we have learned from our experience with the CFPB to prevent future similar missteps.

The first lesson is that Congress should never again create an “independent” agency with a sole director, particularly one not subject to the congressional appropriations process. Under the law, the CFPB—unlike the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Federal Communications Commission, the Federal Trade Commission and other independent agencies—is funded by the Federal Reserve, a move specifically designed to avoid congressional oversight.

I had the privilege of working as an aide to then-Rep. Barney Frank, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee when the Dodd-Frank Act of 2010, which created the CFPB, was written. I realized that no bill is ever perfect and the CFPB would have its imperfections. The authors wanted the bureau to be a fair arbiter of protecting consumers, instead of what it has become—a politically biased regulatory dictator and a political steppingstone for its sole director, who is now expected to run for governor of Ohio.

An independent federal agency should be nonpartisan. A bipartisan commission on the model of the SEC and FCC would allow for better and more evenhanded decision-making. To show how partisan the CFPB became under Mr. Cordray’s leadership, not one of the agency’s employees made a contribution to Donald Trump’s campaign, while a multitude contributed to Hillary Clinton. The new director will have a partisan staff.

Yes, Trump’s in charge, not Hillary. Tsk. The essay goes on to list several egregious examples of CFPB overreach.

This one, for example:

The CFPB, like other agencies, collects fines and fees. Astonishingly, Congress does not require them to be transferred to the federal Treasury. Mr. Cordray has boasted of collecting billions of dollars on behalf of consumers, but portions of that money ultimately go to favored consumer groups—a continuing problem of ideological preference.

Elizabeth “Fauxcahontas” Warren helped create and build this hideous government monster. Yes,”a politically biased regulatory dictator.” Tsk again.

AL FRANKEN IS JUST THE BEGINNING:

Consider Joe Biden. A few short weeks ago, the former senator and vice president seemed like he would be a leading contender to win the Democratic nomination for president in 2020 and then the favorite to challenge President Trump’s bid for re-election. But now? Biden’s polling may look good, but he has a history of wandering hands that is simply incompatible with the new normal. He’s a political dead man.

Now think of all the pages and interns and young staffers cycling through all of those offices on Capitol Hill, year after year, decade after decade. And the countless thousands of staffers who’ve passed through the White House and executive branch departments and agencies across Democratic and Republican administrations. And all the Supreme Court clerks and assistants. How long until one of these pages or interns or staffers or clerks or assistants, or dozens of them, or hundreds of them, begin to talk and make credible accusations against leading public figures of both parties?

How many unwanted advances, kisses, gropes, coerced sex acts, and other forms of harassment, abuse, and assault are we likely to learn about?

I suspect far more than any of us can imagine.

Already we know that the House has paid out $15 million over the last 10-15 years to settle sexual harassment allegations. And that is surely just the beginning.

The reckoning is coming. Washington is going to weather an absolute hurricane of sexual abuse allegations and revelations.

In his twitter thread last month on Harvey Weinstein’s career demise, Brian Cates wrote, “What took out Ailes/O’Reilly was so many women coming forward at once. The usual playbook of legal threats/buying them off didn’t work. Watching Ailes & then O’Reilly being suddenly toppled, it COULD be some women in Hollywood realized there was hope.” That could be the key to the coming “reckoning” that Damon Linker predicts at The Week, plus the boost they’ll get from the left as battlefield prep. As Allahpundit wrote in his post at Hot Air on Franken’ accuser not calling for him to step down, “Whatever happens to Franken, between the left’s reawakening to the allegations against Bill Clinton and the certainty that more big-name Democrats will be accused of sexual misconduct before 2020, it’s a cinch that a woman will be on the party’s next presidential ticket. Ironclad guarantee.”

ROGER KIMBALL: I’VE GIVEN UP ON TRUMPISM, BECAUSE THERE’S NO SUCH THING:

Query: why does Max say that the wisdom of America’s voters was “dubious”? For the same reason that Bill Kristol, to take another prominent NeverTrumper, is organizing a Committee Not To Renominate the President. Bill wants to liberate “conservatism from Trumpism.”

But what is the “Trumpism” from which he wishes to liberate us conservatives? Max Boot, Bret Stephens, and other anti-Trump pundits have told us repeatedly that Donald Trump is a “fascist.” What can that mean? They have read their George Orwell. They know as well as anyone that “fascist” in the context of modern American society is simply a term of abuse, a negative epithet impatient people apply to things and people they do not like. In this respect, “fascist” is a lot like “racist” when deployed on college campuses these days.

Donald Trump’s real tort, I believe, was to have somehow gotten himself elected despite the objections and without the permission of people like Max Boot. . . .

While you are waiting for evidence of these claims, Max wants you to know that he thinks “Trump has been utterly incompetent. Even if he wants to achieve more of his agenda, he doesn’t know how to do it.” He is, you see, “ignorant, petulant, unethical, avaricious, conspiratorial, nasty, shameless, bullying, egomaniacal.”

Quite a litany. But what this really means, I think, is that while Donald Trump’s election was supposed to be impossible, it is still utterly unacceptable. The fantasy of “Trumpism” is an expression of that state of affairs. Even before Trump was elected, some academic historians, fired by nostalgia for the radicals of the 1960s and their protests against the Vietnam War, created a group called “Historians Against Trump” to protest the “dangerous ideology of Trumpism.” “The lessons of history,” they intoned, “compel us to speak out against a movement rooted in fear and authoritarianism.”

Where is the fear? Where the authoritarianism?

I believe that one of the great embarrassments confronting the persistent anti- or NeverTrumpers has been, pace Max Boot, the utter failure of their fantasies about Donald Trump to materialize. He was supposed to be a horrible, xenophobic, racist, militaristic cad, but how has he actually governed?

I have several times, in this space and elsewhere, provided periodic reality checks comparing the hysteria of the anti- or NeverTrumpers to Trump’s actual accomplishments. The list of those accomplishments grows longer and more impressive as the months go by.

Read the whole thing.

ROGER KIMBALL: Why I Have Given Up on Trumpism.

Donald Trump’s real tort, I believe, was to have somehow gotten himself elected despite the objections and without the permission of people like Max Boot.

Max confided that he went “to bed late on the evening of Nov. 8, 2016, in a daze, incredulous that my fellow citizens could elect a man so unqualified for the presidency.” The American people really let Max down. And they persist in their outrageous behavior. According to Max, “Trump doesn’t really believe in much beyond his own awesomeness. He didn’t run for office to get anything done; he ran to stoke his own ego and pad his own bank account by increasing his visibility.”

While you are waiting for evidence of these claims, Max wants you to know that he thinks “Trump has been utterly incompetent. Even if he wants to achieve more of his agenda, he doesn’t know how to do it.” He is, you see, “ignorant, petulant, unethical, avaricious, conspiratorial, nasty, shameless, bullying, egomaniacal.”

Quite a litany. But what this really means, I think, is that while Donald Trump’s election was supposed to be impossible, it is still utterly unacceptable. The fantasy of “Trumpism” is an expression of that state of affairs. Even before Trump was elected, some academic historians, fired by nostalgia for the radicals of the 1960s and their protests against the Vietnam War, created a group called “Historians Against Trump” to protest the “dangerous ideology of Trumpism.” “The lessons of history,” they intoned, “compel us to speak out against a movement rooted in fear and authoritarianism.”

Where is the fear? Where the authoritarianism?

The Left projects, always.

BYRON YORK: Did dossier trigger the Trump-Russia probe? “The FBI opened a counterintelligence investigation into the Trump-Russia affair shortly after receiving the first installment of an anti-Trump dossier from a former British spy working for the Hillary Clinton campaign. What congressional investigators want to know is whether that was a coincidence or not.” I’m going to go with “not.”

Plus: “Now the moving parts, as far as the dossier is concerned, are the Mueller investigation and Congress. With Mueller, it’s impossible to determine whether he is using the dossier and if so, in what way. For its part, Congress is trying to uncover the dossier story — what did the FBI do to try to verify it? Did agents use it as a basis for seeking wiretaps? — but getting information out of the FBI, as well as Fusion GPS, has been like pulling teeth, even after a House subpoena. Ultimately more will become public. But if the past months have shown anything, it is that the FBI will not reveal its secrets, even to its legitimate congressional overseers, without a fight.”

RUSSIAGATE: Judicial Watch Sues Department of Justice for Communications Relating to ‘Russian Lawyer’ Immigration Parole.

Fox News recently reported on a meeting between Fusion GPS and Veselnitskaya:

The co-founder of Fusion GPS, the firm behind the unverified Trump dossier, met with [Veselnitskaya] before and after a key meeting she had last year with Trump’s son, Fox News has learned. The contacts shed new light on how closely tied the firm was to Russian interests, at a time when it was financing research to discredit then-candidate Donald Trump.

The opposition research firm has faced renewed scrutiny after litigation revealed that the DNC and Hillary Clinton’s campaign paid for that research. Congressional Republicans have since questioned whether that politically financed research contributed to the FBI’s investigation of Russian collusion with the Trump campaign – making Fusion’s 2016 contacts with Russian interests all the more relevant.

“The ‘Russian lawyer’ who finagled a meeting with Donald Trump, Jr. evidently wasn’t supposed to be in the country,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “We want to know what the Obama Justice Department knew and when it knew about what Ms. Veselniskava was up to.”

“No good” is the easy answer, but I do wish Congress were investigating more effectively since we can no longer trust our counterintelligence outfit at the FBI.

MOLLIE HEMINGWAY: 5 Takeaways On Virginia’s Election Sweep For Democrats.

Here’s one:

Democrats are finally focusing on statehouse races, and this should terrify Republicans. Democrats lost some 958 state legislative seats during the Obama administration. Those years saw a strong federal executive, but very little attention paid to Democrats at the state and local level.

The Washington Post had a story last week that suggested the huge win for Democrats in Virginia was no accident, but the result of a carefully crafted campaign being tested for nationwide rollout:

For a new crop of Democratic groups, Virginia is the opening salvo and a testing ground ahead of what they hope is a wave election in 2018.
Virginia is the first state to hold a competitive contest for governor after Trump moved into the White House, and both parties want to win it — the Democrats as a rebuke of Trump, and the Republicans to show they are not blemished by an unpopular president.

It’s also a purple state where Democrats have been winning statewide since 2009, but Republicans hold 66 of the 100 seats in the House of Delegates. Democrats are running in 54 GOP-held districts this year, and scores of groups — some well-financed, some loosely organized, are looking to leave their mark on those contests.

There’s a Democratic super PAC planning to spend $1 million — with an eye to a bigger goal of raising $100 million to take control of state houses across the country.

An organization founded by wealthy Virginia donors and bankrolled by a Silicon Valley entrepreneur is beta-testing technology to help low-budget campaigns run more efficiently.

Given the success this high-dollar, high-technology strategy yielded, expect to see many more resources applied in a state near you to achieve the same effect.

The Democrats seem to be learning the lessons of 2016. Will the GOP learn the lessons of Virginia 2017?

SALENA ZITO: America still hasn’t recovered from Trump’s shocking win. But what she really means is, Democratic America hasn’t recovered:

There’s still a sharp pain in Sarah Moberly’s gut. The hurt and disbelief she felt watching the presidential election one year ago remains ever-present.

In fact, it has escalated.

“Honestly, I feel absolutely worse today than I did last year and it just keeps getting worse every day,” she told The Post. “The moment that Hillary conceded, it was a feeling of complete doom. That’s the only way I can put it. I went to bed, I put the covers over my head. I woke up the next morning, I put the covers back over my head, and I didn’t want to get out of bed for like a week,” she said. “I kept thinking, this is a dream and that I’d wake up. Nope, that wasn’t a dream that really just happened.”

And compare and contrast:

The table is stacked with comfort food — mashed potatoes, burgers, french fries, eggs and bacon — but it’s offering little solace. Moberly fidgets and can barely make eye contact with the Trump voters, even when they try to engage with her. . . .

Suddenly Moberly turned to Stearns, an insurance agent and female Trump voter, and spoke: “It’s hard for me to look at another woman who voted for him, with the misogyny that has been involved in this whole process. I don’t understand how you voted for him.”

Shrugging, Stearns politely smiled. “I can agree to disagree. I’m one of those kind of people.”

Trump Derangement Syndrome is real, and it’s not improving. And yes, it’s truly derangement:

TRUMP2020 HAS A LOT OF AGENTS INSIDE THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY: Democrats: Proud to Be the Anti-White, Anti-Male, Anti-Heterosexual Party.

From the comments: “All that just to tell Joe Biden they don’t want him to run? Seems like overkill.”

Related: Rod Dreher: Trump Will Be President Forever. “This mentality exemplified by Madeleine Leader has a lot to do with why, at the end of the day, I’ll end up voting Republican out of pure self-protection, and to protect the job prospects of my children, especially my sons. Good job, Democrats. You are telling straight white people that they are second-class citizens who don’t deserve fairness. You’ll continue to find self-hating liberal whites who are willing to accept this garbage, but many more aren’t falling for it — and know what kind of world Democrats are preparing for them when and if they take power again.”

This will not end well.

DO YOU WANT MORE TRUMP? BECAUSE ARTICLES LIKE THIS ARE HOW YOU GET MORE TRUMP: Let’s Ban Men From Workplaces.

A VOICE OF DECENCY: Kelly Speaks About Son’s Death and Criticizes Congresswoman Wilson.

John F. Kelly, the White House chief of staff, delivered an emotional, personal defense of President Trump’s call this week to the widow of a slain soldier, describing the trauma of learning about his own son’s death in Afghanistan and calling the criticism of Mr. Trump’s call unfair.

Mr. Kelly said that he was stunned to see the criticism, which came from a Democratic congresswoman, Representative Frederica S. Wilson of Florida, after the president delivered a similar message to the widow of one of the soldiers killed in Niger. He said afterward he had to collect his thoughts by going to Arlington National Cemetery for more than an hour.

In a remarkable, somber appearance in the White House briefing room, Mr. Kelly, a retired Marine general whose son was slain in battle, said he had told the president what he was told when he got the news.

“He was doing exactly what he wanted to do when he was killed,” Mr. Kelly recalled. “He knew what he was getting into by joining that one percent. He knew what the possibilities were, because we were at war.”

“I was stunned when I came to work yesterday, and brokenhearted, when I saw what a member of Congress was doing,” he said. “What she was saying, what she was doing on TV. The only thing I could do to collect my thoughts was to go walk among the finest men or women on this Earth.”

It was an indecent thing she did, but it served its purpose. It buried the story about driving ISIS out of Raqqa, with the Trump Administration having done in months what Obama didn’t do in years.

SPACE: Pilot Wave theory suggests Trumpet shaped Emdrive would have more thrust. I want working reactionless thrusters, and I want them ASAP.

ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS TO NO ONE IS ASKING: “NFLers are Protesting During the National Anthem. Here’s Why Cheerleaders Aren’t,” young Democrat operative with a byline Kalhan Rosenblatt writes at NBC. And check out her lede:

Millions of Americans have applauded the NFL players who have taken a knee during the national anthem, but not the women whose job it is to root for the teams — the cheerleaders.

No leftwing bias here! And it’s a somewhat poorly written biased sentence as well — millions of American guys applaud the NFL’s cheerleaders whenever the programming director cuts to a shot of them on the sidelines, whatever the players are doing on the field before or after the game. Of course, what Rosenblatt really wants is the women’s edition of what Allahpundit calls the NFL’s pregame “woke Olympics:”

They have been noticeably absent from the year-long drama that has divided football fans and outraged President Donald Trump and their reasons range from not wanting to undermine the team — to not wanting to lose their prized spot on the squad.

“Definitely the financial compensation isn’t high enough where you’re concerned about paying rent … but certainly if you’re creating waves you could lose your spot,” Danetha Doe, a two-season Indianapolis Colts cheerleader, told NBC News.

Doe remembers when it was rare to find an African-American in the rah-rah ranks and understands why a cheerleader might think twice about joining the players’ protest against the persecution of black people in America.

Ahh, so the NFL is a cesspit of racism as well. OK, yet another reason for fans to tune it out — and why is NBC facilitating it each Sunday night?

According to this 2014 PBS article, NFL cheerleaders earn on average about $100 or so a game…

San Diego Chargers cheerleaders are paid $75 per game, for example. Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders earn around $150 per game, and Baltimore Ravens cheerleaders are paid around $100 per game, according to the Atlantic.

Some cheerleaders employed by NFL teams say the job is not about the money and is more of a hobby. They add the exposure of being an NFL cheerleader can lead to better, more lucrative positions down the line.

…Sure, drag them into the protests as well, NBC.

HOWARD FINEMAN: The Method To The Moron’s Madness. “The powers that be are underestimating Trump — again.”

Washington reacts with alarm to his inflammatory tweets, and lately has made a parlor game out of chronicling his outbursts of anger, dismay and ignorance, as news organizations offer a cascade of vivid in-the-room portrayals of an out-of-control boy king.

Democrats hope against hope that he will be impeached over Russia. His approval rating is lower at this point in his term than any previous modern president’s. His former consigliere Steve Bannon has reportedly said Trump has only a 30 percent chance of lasting a full term.

But by the end of this week, it was clearer than ever that if Trump is a moron, he is a moron on a mission ― and with more method to his madness than his enemies understand or want to consider. The tweets are a useful distraction ― a kind of air cover for his carpet bombing of federal policy and programs.

Fineman can call it “carpet bombing” if he wants, but conservatives (and a few libertarians) might call it “winning.”

And who’s the more moronic, the moron or the moron who follows his every tweet?

MORE ON ESPN’S SUSPENSION OF JEMELE HILL:

[ESPN] did not elaborate on her offending tweet, and Hill has not tweeted since 11 a.m. Eastern on Monday. However, on Sunday she suggested fans boycott Cowboys advertisers if they were upset Jerry Jones told his players they would stand for the national anthem or be benched.

“This play always work,” she wrote. “Change happens when advertisers are impacted. If you feel strongly about JJ’s statement, boycott his advertisers.”

On Monday, her last tweet read: “Just so we’re clear: I’m not advocating a NFL boycott. But an unfair burden has been put on players in Dallas & Miami w/ anthem directives.”

Hill was in the middle of an ESPN firestorm last month, when the White House called for her firing for calling President Trump a white supremacist on Twitter. ESPN had a sitdown meeting with her, where she apologized for the forum but not the message.

Also this past weekend, “If you had ESPN on your television Saturday morning, you had the privilege of hearing host Michelle Beadle tell all white men to ‘Shut up and listen for five minutes.’” the Daily Caller adds.

Related: Disney, which also owns ESPN (and ABC), owned Miramax from 1993 through 2010, and funded its productions – and thus by extension, Harvey Weinstein’s numerous legal payouts to both direct victims and journalists to spike stories.

What Kurt Schlichter wrote about Hollywood is applicable to its subsidiary corporations: The hell with Hollywood. It’s all lies, it’s all a pose, it’s all a scam, and we aren’t falling for it. But at least for the first time in a long time, Kimmel and his Tinseltown pals have us laughing again. Just not why they’d hoped.”

Keep all of the above in mind, as the New York Times writes that Disney’s CEO Bob Iger “is emerging as a credible contender in the 2020 presidential speculation game.”

On Twitter, Clay Travis of the Outkick the Coverage sportsblog links to the Times’ article on Iger transforming ESPN into a haven of SJWs who occasionally discuss the infield fly rule and punt formations. “Told y’all it’s all a set up for presidential run,” he adds.

Travis also responds to a tweet from a follower who notes that Hill wants a boycott of, among other corporations, Cowboys sponsor AT&T. AT&T also happens to carry on its subsidiary DirecTV a little-watched public-access cable TV network called — wait what is it — oh yeah, ESPN. “The stupidity is amazing. All the advertisers she wants fans to boycott ADVERTISE ON HER SHOW AND NETWORK!”, Travis writes.

UPDATE: Here’s the tweet that likely earned her suspension.

In their aggregation of responses to Hill’s meltdown, Twitchy spots a tweet from veteran media analyst Howard Kurtz, who writes, “ESPN suspends Jemele Hill for 2 [weeks], not for calling Trump a white supremacist but for urging boycott of Cowboys after owner bars protests.” Or as blogger Drew McCoy writes, “ESPN may love social justice commentary but you start messing with Jerry Jones, the Cowboys, and The Shield…shit’s gonna get real.”

Heh, indeed.™

PENCE DITCHES COLTS GAME AFTER 49ERS PLAYERS KNEEL DURING ANTHEM:

Vice President Pence walked out of the Indianapolis Colts game on Sunday when ​some ​players from the San Francisco 49ers took a knee during the national anthem.

“I left today’s Colts game because @POTUS and I will not dignify any event that disrespects our soldiers, our Flag, or our National Anthem​,” Pence posted on Twitter. ​

Sure, it was a stunt – Pence had to know that the Niners would kneel, just as they’ve done since Kap first blew-up the NFL last year, and at each game so far this season. But Pence’s message is the correct one – protest your causes all you want during your own free time, not during the national anthem.

In addition to rallying Trump’s base, this will of course ensure that the protests continue, which will further hurt the NFL’s image, alienate fans who just want to watch a game and spend a few hours away from the culture wars, and likely drive ratings further downward.

Or as Ace wrote a few weeks ago: The National Nervous Breakdown, and How to Exploit it Ruthlessly.

UPDATE (FROM GLENN): AP: BREAKING: Quarterback Colin Kaepernick tells CBS he’ll stand during national anthem if given chance to play football in NFL again.

MORE (From Ed): AP and CBS walk back this report, with CBS sports journalist Jason La Canfora oddly now claiming that he was going by past statements by Kaepernick, and never discussed the issue with him, despite apparently spending several hours interviewing him. Also, Kaepernick’s girlfriend denies the claim. Much more here.

MEGAN MCARDLE: Debt Alone Won’t Crush Puerto Rico. Depopulation Is the Curse.

“They owe a lot of money to your friends on Wall Street,” Donald Trump told Geraldo Rivera. “We’re going to have to wipe that out. That’s going to have to be — you know, you can say goodbye to that. I don’t know if it’s Goldman Sachs but whoever it is, you can wave goodbye to that.”

Bond markets didn’t appreciate the verbal wave. The territory’s bonds, already weak from the pounding of Hurricane Maria, fell another 31 percent. White House budget director Mick Mulvaney hastened to say the president didn’t mean what he said. “I wouldn’t take it word for word with that,” he said demurely. Nor should you; as debt expert Cate Long told CNN Money, “Trump does not have the ability to wave a magic wand and wipe out the debt.”

Yet the fact remains that Puerto Rico is not going to be able to pay all of its debts. Prior to the hurricane, the territory had $73 billion in outstanding debt, and a population of 3.4 million people. That’s approximately $21,500 for every man, woman and child on the island – just about enough to buy each of them a brand new Mini Cooper, provided that they don’t insist on the sport package or the heated seats. . . .

And why was the government borrowing so much? For one thing, because the government doesn’t work very well. The operations of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, for example, defy belief: It essentially gave unlimited free power to municipalities and government-owned entities, which used it to do things like operate skating rinks in the tropics. Everywhere you look, you see signs of a government struggling to perform basic tasks: collect taxes, maintain the infrastructure, improve the health system. In the jargon of development economists, the island lacks “state capacity”: It is simply unable to exert the amount of power over its operations that we on the mainland mostly take for granted.

But you can’t entirely blame the Puerto Rican government for the state of the underlying economy, which is what had plunged the island into a bankruptcy crisis even before the hurricane. For that you have to look to the federal government, which eliminated a tax break that had given companies incentives to locate in Puerto Rico, and then oversaw a financial crisis that sent them into an even deeper spiral. We also made sure that a relatively poor island was forced to adopt the federal minimum wage, which was too high for the local labor market. That has contributed to the 11.5 percent unemployment rate. And Puerto Rico uses the U.S. dollar, leaving it unable to adjust monetary policy to overcome economic stagnation.

None of those things will change just because we wipe out the bondholders. And the bondholders are not Puerto Rico’s only creditors; it has an unfunded pension liability of roughly $50 billion. Covering the current liability will consume more 20 percent of the budget.

That figure will only grow, because the biggest problem of all is Puerto Rico’s rapid demographic decline. There has long been a steady migration from Puerto Rico to the mainland. By 2008, there were more Puerto Ricans in the rest of the U.S. than there were in Puerto Rico. But the economic crisis has accelerated that flow to staggering levels.

So I’m guessing that if Steve Bannon were still around, he’d be encouraging Trump to do things that would make Puerto Rico so attractive that not only would people want to stay there, but expat Puerto Ricans would want to return, since most of them vote Democrat, and Puerto Rico doesn’t have any electoral votes. Which would be good for Puerto Rico, and also for Trump. In Bannon’s absence, I’m not sure there’s anyone in the White House who thinks that way.

THOMAS CHATTERTON WILLIAMS IN THE NEW YORK TIMES: How Ta-Nehisi Coates Gives Whiteness Power.

I have spent the past six months poring over the literature of European and American white nationalism, in the process interviewing noxious identitarians like the alt-right founder Richard Spencer. The most shocking aspect of Mr. Coates’s wording here is the extent to which it mirrors ideas of race — specifically the specialness of whiteness — that white supremacist thinkers cherish.

This, more than anything, is what is so unsettling about Mr. Coates’s recent writing and the tenor of the leftist “woke” discourse he epitomizes. Though it is not at all morally equivalent, it is nonetheless in sync with the toxic premises of white supremacism. Both sides eagerly reduce people to abstract color categories, all the while feeding off of and legitimizing each other, while those of us searching for gray areas and common ground get devoured twice. Both sides mystify racial identity, interpreting it as something fixed, determinative and almost supernatural. For Mr. Coates, whiteness is a “talisman,” an “amulet” of “eldritch energies” that explains all injustice; for the abysmal early-20th-century Italian fascist and racist icon Julius Evola, it was a “meta-biological force,” a collective mind-spirit that justifies all inequality. In either case, whites are preordained to walk that special path. It is a dangerous vision of life we should refuse no matter who is doing the conjuring.

This summer, I spent an hour on the phone with Richard Spencer. It was an exchange that left me feeling physically sickened. Toward the end of the interview, he said one thing that I still think about often. He referred to the all-encompassing sense of white power so many liberals now also attribute to whiteness as a profound opportunity. “This is the photographic negative of a white supremacist,” he told me gleefully. “This is why I’m actually very confident, because maybe those leftists will be the easiest ones to flip.”

If you divide America along racial/ethnic lines, eventually the largest racial/ethnic group will start to think of itself as a racial/ethnic group and act accordingly. But in the meantime, it’s a good living for Coates, and I guess an okay one for Spencer.

And if you want more Trump, well, Coates will help you get more Trump, and a lot more effectively than Spencer ever has. Right after the election, John Podhoretz tweeted, “Liberals spent 40 years disaggregating [the] U.S., until finally the largest cohort in the country chose to vote as though it were an ethnic group.” That’s where “whiteness”-as-original-sin gets you. But hey, like I said, it’s a good living for some people.

SENATOR TOM COTTON: ‘Willing’ to Give Administration, Allies More Than 60 Days to Try for ‘Better’ Iran Deal.

RELATED, FROM STEPHEN HAYES AND MICHAEL WARREN: The art of decertifying the Iran deal.

What happens after decertification is a precarious balancing act if the president hopes to succeed in renegotiating a better deal that achieves the U.S. goal of preventing a nuclear Iran. There are a lot of things Trump and his administration could do to try to improve the deal before deciding whether to scrap it altogether. As Mark Dubowitz and David Albright put it in a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed, these include: designating the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist organization, slapping Iranian companies and organizations with new non-nuclear sanctions allowed under the JCPOA, insisting on making permanent the “sunset clauses” that only temporarily restrict Iran’s nuclear program and testing, and demanding thorough and complete inspections of Iranian facilities to ensure compliance. In his Council on Foreign Relations speech, Tom Cotton echoed these ideas.

Success on this post-decertification route will require working closely with Congress, negotiating with European allies who have economic interests in Iran and want to expand them, and follow-through and commitment on the part of the administration. John Bolton tells TWS he’s highly skeptical of the news reports of this plan. “What’s been described is an incoherent policy mishmash,” says Bolton, who was candid in his criticism of Tillerson, Mattis, and McMaster’s guidance of the president toward recertification back in July. “If they failed to present the president with the full range of policy options, it is—and I say this wittingly—a dereliction of duty.” If Trump begins to feel this way again, he could upend the difficult path forward for improving the deal.

It’s the worst of all possible deals, locked in by Russian and Chinese intransigence and our own foreign policy and national security establishments.

Thanks, Obama.

HARVEY WEINSTEIN’S CAREER IN HOLLYWOOD IS LIKELY OVER,” says show-biz house organ Variety:

In truth, the noose has been tightening for years around Harvey Weinstein. There’s been a bunker-like mentality at the Weinstein Co. for years, as the indie studio’s money troubles have worsened and as it tried to migrate away from prestige fare and into television. There were too many film flops such as “Tulip Fever,” “Burnt,” and “Gold,” and persistent mutterings that the company could no longer pay its bills. High profile executives would leave, with positions remaining vacant or filled by junior staffers. It’s been a while since the studio was a major force at film festivals, swinging its checkbook around to nab the hottest Sundance titles. In the meantime, new players like A24 and Bleecker Street have emerged, establishing themselves as more auteur-friendly (Weinstein had a reputation for battling directors), while Amazon and Netflix have been able to outspend all comers.

Even before the reports broke, agents were already wary about working with Weinstein because of reports that its money was running out. One agent told Variety that the Times’ report will give them an even bigger reason to stay away from the studio.

In some respects, Thursday’s piece was the confirmation of decades of rumors and shop talk that have clung to Weinstein. At various times, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and the New Yorker (which has its own competing piece still set to launch) have tried to break this story. They’ve aggressively pursued the angle of whether or not Weinstein used corporate funds at Miramax to pay for legal settlements with women. In most cases, Weinstein was able to successfully hit back at those claims. Another stumbling block was that many women did not want to go on the record with their allegations. That will likely change with the Times piece.

Weinstein Gives First Interview After Shocking Sex Harassment Claims, the New York Post reports:

“The Times editors were so fearful they were going to be scooped by New York Magazine and they would lose the story, that they went ahead and posted the story filled with reckless reporting, and without checking all they had with me and my team.

He added that he believes the paper – which published a long negative piece about Weinstein’s dealings with amfAR a week ago – has a vendetta against him.

Weinstein explained, “They never wrote about the documentary I did with Jay-Z about Rikers Island, they never write that I raised $50 million for amfAR, nor my work with Robin Hood – instead they focus on trying to bring me down. This is a vendetta, and the next time I see Dean Baquet [the executive editor of the Times] it will be across a courtroom.”

Insert Kissinger Iran-Iraq War quote here.

In a link-laden post, Ace of Spades asks, “Didn’t people in the media know, given that Weinstein was, you know, a notorious figure in the media?”, also pondering about how much knowledge the Democrats he donated to had, and the past Disney connection to Weinstein.

“Weinstein was a strong supporter of Hillary Clinton 2016 run, donated to her campaigns 10 times between 1999 & 2016,” the Hollywood Reporter notes. He made 13 visits to the Obama White House. Malia Obama interned for him.

Lionsgate distributes Miramax films on home media in the US, and also produced AMC’s Mad Men series during its run from 2007 to 2015. As I wrote at Ed Driscoll.com during its last season, I always thought Hollywood had a lot of chutzpah tut-tutting the sexual mores of the corporate world of the 1960s while simultaneously enabling Bill Clinton, handsy Joe Biden, and what goes on in their own executive suites.

UPDATE: Regarding Weinstein’s NRA and Trump-obsessed “apology” letter (which Iowahawk neatly sums up as, “It’s just this war and that son of a bitch Johnson”), when you’ve lost the Daily Beast…

More: Former Obama Adviser Anita Dunn Helped Harvey Weinstein Strategize Before New York Times Story. “Weinstein has also, supposedly, reached out to the Clintons’ crisis PR honcho Lanny Davis.”

THEY MUST WANT MORE TRUMP: Trump will win in 2020 if the left keeps calling him a racist.

Robert Robb:

I now believe that the left will re-elect Trump. The ruction over NFL players taking a knee during the national anthem illustrates the point.

The left has talked itself into believing that Trump’s alleged appeals to white racism were what put him over the top.

More astute psephologists have pointed out that the actual difference was made by people in industrial states who previously had voted for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012, but switched to Trump over Hillary Clinton in 2016. Hard to attribute those decisions to white racism.

Nevertheless, the left now interprets all of Trump’s actions through the prism of perceived appeals to white racism. If Trump were to tweet, “It’s a lovely day in Washington,” the left would denounce it as a dog whistle to white supremacists.

Which brings us to the NFL ruction. Players began kneeling during the national anthem reportedly to protest what they regard as racial injustice in the United States. Trump denounced them in Trumpian fashion.

According to the left, since the players were protesting racial injustice, Trump was endorsing racial injustice by criticizing them. There goes that dog whistle!

To most Americans, that’s nuts.

Well, yes. But as Bill Whittle likes to say, if Republicans didn’t have Democrats to run against, they’d lose every time.

ROBBY SOAVE: If You Think Trump Is a Fascist, You Should Oppose Gun Control.

Following the unfathomably tragic events in Las Vegas, many on the left are demanding that Congress pass new restrictions on guns. Such calls make even less sense than usual, given what much of the left already believes about the current political environment: that a fascist occupies the White House.

“Yes, Donald Trump is a fascist,” wrote The New Republic’s Jamil Smith. He said that in 2015, when Trump was still merely a primary challenger; associating Trump with fascism has grown only more common in the two years since.

“This is how fascism comes to America,” wrote Robert Kagan, a former Republican, in a Washington Post piece widely shared last year on both the left and the NeverTrump right: “not with jackboots and salutes (although there have been salutes, and a whiff of violence) but with a television huckster, a phony billionaire, a textbook egomaniac ‘tapping into’ popular resentments and insecurities, and with an entire national political party—out of ambition or blind party loyalty, or simply out of fear—falling into line behind him.”

“Trump’s not Hitler,” wrote Salon’s Fedja Buric in 2016. But that was only because: “He’s Mussolini.” Buric’s article is about “How GOP anti-intellectualism created a modern fascist movement in America.”

The Daily Beast’s Jay Michaelson held out until Trump pardoned Sheriff Joe Arpaio, at which point he declared, “at a certain point, ‘fascist’ becomes the most accurate term to describe what this man does….’Fascist’ is not an incendiary slur—it is an accurate description.”

Those are high-profile writers; grassroots activists have been less measured. The antifa movement, which for some reason thinks smashing windows and setting cars on fire is an effective form of resistance, regularly claims that Trump is a modern incarnation of Nazism. Left-leaning students and professors frequently accuse Trump of fascism; some have even maintained that members of Trump’s Cabinet, like Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, are white supremacists by mere association. . . .

Which brings us back to gun control, something countless liberal pundits and Democratic congresspeople are breathlessly demanding right now. How on earth could anyone believe both that Trump is a fascist and that it’s a good idea for a federal government he runs to take guns away from law-abiding citizens? If Trump is a budding Mussolini—let alone something worse—then you shouldn’t want to give him the power required to wage a war on guns.

You’d think.

THE NORMALS WEIGH IN: Byron York: On game day, new polls show what Americans think about NFL protests, Trump.

Whenever President Trump sets off a new controversy, there’s always a period of hair-on-fire commentary, usually conducted in the absence of polls or other evidence of public opinion. It’s happened again and again, the latest example being the president, the NFL, and the national anthem.

Trump set things off September 22 during a speech in Alabama. Now, after more than a week, there are five new polls with information on the underlying issue — NFL players protesting during the national anthem — and Trump’s treatment of it.

On the protests, the short version is, the public, which disapproved when Colin Kaepernick first refused to stand for the anthem last year, still disapproves.

A new CBS poll asked, “Do you approve or disapprove of football players protesting by kneeling during the national anthem?” Fifty-two percent said they strongly or somewhat disapprove, while 38 percent said they strongly or somewhat approve, and nine percent said they haven’t heard enough to say.

The disapprove-approve numbers were 51-39 in a new ESPN poll.

Fox News asked, “In general, do you think kneeling during the national anthem is an appropriate — or inappropriate — form of protest?” Fifty-five percent said inappropriate, while 41 percent said appropriate, and five percent didn’t know.

CNN asked the question in a slightly roundabout way, asking “Do you think athletes who protest by kneeling during the national anthem are doing the right thing or the wrong thing to express their political opinion? Forty-nine percent said the wrong thing, 43 percent said the right thing, and eight percent didn’t know.

Finally, the Huffington Post found a lot of indecisive respondents when it asked, “Do you think it’s appropriate or inappropriate for NFL players to kneel in protest during the national anthem?” Forty-eight percent said inappropriate, 36 percent said appropriate, and a full 16 percent said they weren’t sure.

The CBS poll shed some additional light on the public’s attitude toward the demonstrations when it asked, “Do you think professional athletes should or should not use their position and fame to talk politics or raise issues, if they want to?” The poll gave respondents three choices: “Yes, whenever they want to,” “Yes, but only on their own time,” and “No, they should not.”

A decisive 68 percent said athletes either should get political on their own time or not at all. . . .

Given the racial dimension of the controversy, the poll broke things down further by race. Forty-six percent of blacks said athletes should get political on their own time or not at all; 64 percent of Hispanics said the same; 58 percent of other races/ethnicities agreed; and 75 percent of whites agreed. Blacks were the only group that said, by a 54 percent majority, that athletes should get political whenever they want.

The bottom line is that in most polls, small majorities oppose the national anthem protests. But in a broader sense, a much larger majority opposes athletes using the field of competition to play politics.

Why is the majority generally opposing political activity on the field larger than the majority specifically opposing the anthem protests? Just a theory here — it could be that the former is a true measure of opinion on sports protests, while the latter is associated with Trump, which means measures of opinion about the anthem protests are comingled with respondents’ opinions about the president.

What doesn’t, these days?

CHECK YOUR PRIVILEGE, ROGER: Bench the NFL. Pro football’s success is founded on shrewd lobbying and a federal favor. After a court forbade the NFL teams from jointly negotiating a TV deal, the league persuaded Congress in 1961 to grant a special exemption from antitrust laws. This perk has often has been criticized, but the efforts to remove it have never gone far in Congress. The NFL enjoyed bipartisan support because it seemed a national institution above politics. But now that the owners and players have so resolutely united against Republicans (and public opinion), Steve Malanga of City Journal wants Congress to reconsider:

The national anthem protest controversy offers a new perspective on the privileges that Congress has awarded to the NFL, particularly because the league’s team owners have allowed those protests to take place and even, last weekend, participated in them, in response to President Trump’s criticism of the players’ activism. Patriots’ owner Robert Kraft, for instance, said last Sunday, “I support [players’] right to peacefully affect social change and raise awareness in a manner that they feel is most impactful.” But while players have the right to engage in political speech free from government interference, their freedom does not extend by right to a private employer in its own workplace. The majority of companies in America would not, and do not, allow demonstrations at work by individual employees on political issues unrelated to their employment—just the sort of demonstrations begun last year by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, and carried on through this weekend by more than 200 players. That the owners have tolerated and lately even encouraged such protests over an issue—charges of police brutality—that divides many Americans is a business risk that they seem willing to take. But the league’s use of its platform—created by its federal antitrust exemption—to broadcast its message across the country is more than a simple business matter. It represents an improper use of resources made available to the NFL by special federal legislation. It’s past time to revoke the Sports Broadcasting Act.

The owners won’t be happy with this, but at least they’ll have something specific to protest in the pregame ceremony.

JOSH KRAUSHAAR: Democrats Lose Touch With America — Hillary Clinton’s new book blames a lot of culprits for her defeat. It barely notes the biggest reason: her cultural disconnect from the country.

Clinton’s decision to call Trump backers deplorable was one of her campaign’s low points. But the problem runs much deeper within her party. Progressives now instinctively label pro-Trump conservatives as “white supremacists,” a slur that paints nearly half the country with a racist brush. Legitimate anxieties over the country’s national security are frequently dismissed as anti-Muslim xenophobia. Politicized sportswriters assumed that the American public supports players protesting the national anthem, even when a swell of football fans across the country—including those in the most liberal media markets—booed their own team’s players for disrespecting the flag.

President Trump has exploited this gaping disconnect between elite opinion and majority sentiment in the most divisive way possible. But it doesn’t mean that Democrats should be playing into his hands.

For a sign of how far to the left Democrats have drifted on culture, just look at the last major anthem protest to sweep up a sports league. In 1996, Nuggets star Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf refused to stand for the national anthem, calling the American flag a symbol of tyranny. He was promptly suspended for a game and fined by the NBA. There was no uproar in favor of his right to protest, even in a league where most players were African-American. Condemnation of Abdul-Rauf’s action ran across the political spectrum. Then-commissioner David Stern later mandated players stand in a dignified manner when the anthem was played—a wholly uncontroversial decision.

The closest Clinton comes to acknowledging the party’s cultural tone-deafness is an anecdote she shares about the Arkansas Senate race in 2014. She relays a story about an old friend who typically votes Democratic, has fairly liberal economic views, but was having a tough time supporting moderate Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor’s reelection. She recounts him telling her husband: “At least the Republicans won’t do anything to us. The Democrats want to take away my gun and make me go to a gay wedding.” But instead of showing empathy for people with more-traditional social views, she concludes that “the politics of cultural identity and resentment were overwhelming evidence, reason and personal experience.” Successful politicians feel people’s pain; they don’t hector them about their hang-ups.

As president, Bill Clinton’s strategy when tackling divisive cultural issues was to at least offer a signal that he understood the opposition. His famous formulation about wanting abortion to be “safe, legal and rare” offered rhetorical reassurance to those opposed to abortion, even as his administration was solidly and proudly in favor of abortion rights. Inclusive language helps dampen the anger of opponents, even when there’s little agreement on policy.

Even longtime Clinton pollster Stanley Greenberg, who has long urged Democrats to adopt an aggressively populist economic message, concludes that Clinton’s cultural disconnect was her most glaring vulnerability in the campaign. In an essay in The American Prospect, he writes: “Despite overwhelming evidence that the Democratic base wasn’t consolidated or excited, the campaign believed that Trump’s tasteless attacks and Clinton’s identification with every group in the rainbow coalition would produce near-universal support…. They were explicitly privileging race and gender over class.”

How’d that work out for you, folks?

DAILY CALLER: White House Aides Are Stopping Deal With Assange, Congressman Says.

President Donald Trump is being blocked from knowing he can pardon WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in exchange for information vindicating Russia of hacking allegations, according to Republican California Rep. Dana Rohrabacher.

Trump told reporters Sunday that he has “never heard” of a potential deal with Assange.

“I think the president’s answer indicates that there is a wall around him that is being created by people who do not want to expose this fraud that there was collusion between our intelligence community and the leaders of the Democratic Party,” Rohrabacher told The Daily Caller Tuesday in a phone interview.

The Trump angle is little more than a hook — the real meat is Rohrabacher’s desire to cut a deal with Assange to get to the bottom of any DNC-Deep State-Russia connection.

JON GABRIEL: Red Team? Blue Team? Start Your Own Team.

Remember when multimillionaire President Trump criticized a multimillionaire football player last night? Well today, a multimillionaire basketball player said he didn’t want to go to the White House no more. So, President Trump said the multimillionaire basketball player wasn’t welcome at the White House in the first place. And then a different multimillionaire basketball player tweeted something mean at President Trump.

Honestly, I’m just happy the Republic hasn’t collapsed.

A few million put on their Red Team uniforms and rushed to their computers. Another few million put on their Blue Team uniforms and grabbed their iPhones. To the barricades, citizens!

Then they wasted a beautiful Saturday afternoon tweeting at each other.

Melissa and I spent Saturday doing chores and then drinking and talking too loudly with old friends — highly recommended.

WAR ON WOMEN UPDATE: Sanders Donor Clarifies She Doesn’t Want Betsy DeVos to Be Raped, Just Tortured.

As Glenn noted in August:

Two months ago, Steve Scalise was shot by a Trump-hating, Bernie-backing gunman who set out intentionally to massacre Republican congressmen.

The next day: ‘F*ck Steve Scalise’: HuffPost writer wishes ‘violent resistance’ were more ‘organized.’

Why is the Democratic party, and its socialist fellow travelers, such a cesspit of violent rhetoric — and at times, actual violence?

WALL STREET JOURNAL: The Politicization Of Everything.

Healthy democracies have ample room for politics but leave a larger space for civil society and culture that unites more than divides. With the politicization of the National Football League and the national anthem, the Divided States of America are exhibiting a very unhealthy level of polarization and mistrust.

The progressive forces of identity politics started this poisoning of America’s favorite spectator sport last year by making a hero of Colin Kaepernick for refusing to stand for “The Star-Spangled Banner” before games. They raised the stakes this year by turning him into a progressive martyr because no team had picked him up to play quarterback after he opted out of his contract with the San Francisco 49ers.

The NFL is a meritocracy, and maybe coaches and general managers thought he wasn’t good enough for the divisions he might cause in a locker room or among fans. But the left said it was all about race and class.

All of this is cultural catnip for Donald Trump, who pounced on Friday night at a rally and on the weekend on Twitter with his familiar combination of gut political instinct, rhetorical excess, and ignorance. “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, out, he’s fired. He’s fired,’” Mr. Trump said Friday.

No doubt most Americans agree with Mr. Trump that they don’t want their flag disrespected, especially by millionaire athletes. But Mr. Trump never stops at reasonable, and so he called for kneeling players to be fired or suspended, and if the league didn’t comply for fans to “boycott” the NFL.

Well, Trump’s got his opponents arguing against the National Anthem, so maybe he’s not as dumb as you think. But whenever you wonder why we’re in a situation where Trump’s driving this sort of narrative, remember that we got Trump because the respectable political class did such a sorry job that there was an opening for Trump.

VIRGINIA POSTREL: Facebook’s Pros Still Outweigh Its Cons: I wanted to quit. Here’s why I decided to stay.

The response to my question made me realize that Facebook had allowed me to create a distinctive forum, that people appreciate it more than I can usually tell, and that I’d miss (most of) these interactions if I left. It reminded me of the reasons to like Facebook: the connections it provides and the chance to easily share interests. So I’ve decided to stay, with modifications.

To avoid distraction, I’d already started using the Anti-Social app to block Facebook and Twitter for several hours at a time. I’ll extend the blocked periods and make them a daily habit. Taking a cue from psychology research that suggests that reading Facebook passively is what puts people in a bad mood, I’ve also installed the Stop Scrolling Newsfeed for Facebook browser extension, which lets you block the feed after a minute or even 15 seconds. (If that doesn’t work, there’s the nuclear option: Feed Eradicator for Facebook extension, whose name is self-explanatory.) Instead of endlessly scrolling through whatever some algorithm serves up, I’ll visit specific people’s pages directly and focus on interaction.

The exercise was a useful reminder of what often gets lost in the public commentary on social media. For all their myriad faults, services like Facebook provide genuine value by connecting people who wouldn’t otherwise be in touch. Tools exist to help users minimize the downside — you just have to look for them. Like any other form of abundance, making the most of social media requires conscious consideration. So I reserve the right to revisit the question next year.

I agree, though I feel this way somewhat less than I used to. Plus, on her fear of Facebook knowing her too well:

This particular fear was somewhat assuaged by downloading my Facebook archive and discovering just how clueless the ad targeting was. Rolex? The band America? Soccer? The ad preferences page also pegs “fire” as a hobby, presumably based on my interest in FIRE, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.

Hillary bet the farm on big data analytics. Now it’s Trump’s farm.

MAYBE SHE CAN GET A JOB AT ESPN, OR THE NFL: Post-Trump Megyn Kelly buried in bad reviews.

Critics ripped up Megyn Kelly’s canceled Sunday night news magazine show and are now ripping up her morning talk show, which one critic says makes President Trump the real winner of Kelly’s fall from TV stardom.

“It’s as if the old Kelly — sarcastic, cutting, sharp — got replaced by a Trump-approved version that grins hard and just wants you to like her,” according to a review at The Week magazine. “She won’t talk politics! She promises! If this startling about-face tells us anything, it’s that Trump, Kelly’s tormentor, has won.”

Fox viewers liked Kelly, but they liked Fox more. She thought her audience would follow her, and she was wrong. Related: Jessica Heslam: Megyn Kelly isn’t a morning person.

WOW, THIS REALLY DOESN’T FIT THE NARRATIVE: Black Lives Matter group takes the stage at pro-Trump rally — what happens next is amazing.

Though the speaker declared that BLM is “not anti-cop,”  the pro-Trump crowd’s reaction showed they didn’t believe it. But things began to turn around when the man clarified that the group was “anti-bad cop” and shouted that the group didn’t want any handouts, and didn’t want anything that didn’t rightfully belong to them.

“We want our God-given right to freedom, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness!” the group’s leader shouted, and the crowd began to applaud and cheer once more.

The BLM leader added, “All lives matter, right? … If we really want to make America great, we do it together.”

Huh – I was told repeatedly by the DNC-MSM last year that saying “all lives matter” was the height of racism. Read the whole thing.

DAVID HARSANYI: After Self-Reflection, Journalists Discover They’ve Been Too Critical Of … Democrats.

It’s difficult to believe this now, but at one point a number of top media outlets considered the first-ever FBI investigation of a major presidential candidate in the history of the republic to be somewhat newsworthy. So they proceeded to cover the candidate’s many lies, her purging of somewhere around 30,000 pieces of evidence, and the FBI’s she’s-so-freaking-guilty-but-not-guilty verdict. And when authorities uncovered a computer that should have been in the possession of the FBI but was instead accessible to the sex-addicted husband of a top Hillary aide, they reported that, as well. This should have all been ignored.

On numerous occasions during her book tour, Clinton argued that the press didn’t do its job — which is to say, help her get elected. Considering the sycophantic coverage afforded her and her former boss the past eight years, perhaps these expectations were too high. Perhaps she expected the whitewashing to continue. Perhaps she anticipated the reaction to her dishonesty to be similar to the reaction she received after lying about the events surrounding the September 11, 2012 terror attack that took the life of Christopher Stevens and three other Americans. Which is to say a bunch journalists tweeting,

B
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embellished with dismissive jokes.

Perhaps in all the excitement of the election some journalists lost their way.

They must want more Trump, because this is how to get just that.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More sensible than what we’ll probably get.

ANOTHER ROUND, PLEASE: German tax inspector breaks world record for carrying beer.

Oliver Strumpfel, a tax inspector, clinched the title at a festival in Bavaria on Sunday after carting dozens of the litre sized glasses which weighed almost 70 kg (154lbs) in total.

The 45-year-old almost carried 31 glasses but unfortunately one glass dropped at the very last moment and another ended up losing more than 10 per cent of its beer.

He was cheered on and then applauded by 1,500 onlookers yelling “Oli, oli” at the Gillamoos Fair in Abensberg where he carried out the Maßkrugtragen – otherwise known as beer tankard challenging – challenge.

“I first did 27, because I wanted to be sure and then at the end I said, ‘Let’s add another one and get over 30’,” Struempfel said.

“Unfortunately it didn’t quite work, but having managed to put 29 down … I think it’s amazing.”

Indeed.

PROPAGATING A HOSTILE EDUCATIONAL ENVIRONMENT FOR MALE STUDENTS: How Higher Education “Studies” Men.

In sum, it is an ideological rather than a scholarly project.

The center has held several seminars, among them a talk about “the need for further regulation on pornography” in the European Union. It has sponsored a white paper, “Men as Allies in Preventing Violence against Women,” in which Bob Pease lays down the law: men should take part in such violence prevention, but because of their “dominance and privilege and…structural gender inequalities,” they should play only “a supporting role…under women’s leadership” rather than seeking to be “leaders or equal partners.”

Pease makes another point: women deserve “women-only spaces,” but men-only spaces are verboten, because excluding women “reinforces the notion of male authority” and men “need to learn how to communicate outside of traditional frames of masculinity and male sociality.” (Pease, as it happens, is the author of a book called Recreating Men, which argues that men need to undergo fundamental change for the sake of women’s equality.)

The Men’s Center, in short, is not about understanding men’s psychological and emotional development and their personal and professional lives; it is about encouraging young men to feel guilty about being born male, to check their own natural male impulses and interests, to emulate (as best they can) the manners and mores of women, and to subordinate themselves, in all ways and all circumstances, to their female friends, relatives, and colleagues.

The center has a blog, which is full of whining about “toxic masculinity” and about men’s lack of respect for women. After Trump’s election, it featured a letter addressed to “White Men.” It read, in part: “This is on us. And now it’s up to us to undo it. I keep hearing us say: ‘we’ll be fine.’… [But our] friends of color, our Native American friends, our Muslim friends and Latino friends, our LGBTQ friends and the women in our lives are not fine…. They are afraid of what is to come. And they will be, and already are, under attack. If you’ve ever questioned the existence of the concept of privilege, being able to say ‘we’ll be fine’ is painful proof of its existence.”

One big piece of news from the blog is that the Center is in the process of developing the first MA program in masculinities studies. Stony Brook, it should be noted, is a major international research university that turns out top-flight physicists, chemists, biologists, and engineers who make a real difference in this world. It is a puzzlement, and a disgrace, that this splendid institution should want to institute an advanced degree program in identity studies that involves not education but indoctrination and that doesn’t prepare graduates to do anything other than spend their lives whining about gender inequality.

Indeed.

DEMOCRATS ARE GOING TO HAVE A GOOGLE PROBLEM:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DEMOCRATIC OPERATIVES WITH BASEBALL BATS: After melees, Berkeley mayor asks Cal to cancel right-wing Free Speech Week.

In the aftermath of a right-wing rally Sunday that ended with anarchists chasing attendees from a downtown park, Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin urged UC Berkeley on Monday to cancel conservatives’ plans for a Free Speech Week next month to avoid making the city the center of more violent unrest.

“I don’t want Berkeley being used as a punching bag,” said Arreguin, whose city has been the site of several showdowns this year between, on the one hand, the left and its fringe anarchist wing, and on the other, supporters of President Trump who at times have included white nationalists.

“I am concerned about these groups using large protests to create mayhem,” Arreguin said. “It’s something we have seen in Oakland and in Berkeley.”

If the mayor wants to hand over protection of free speech to the right wing, I suppose we should thank him for recognizing that we’re better prepared for the task.

(Thoroughly modern reference in the headline.)

UPDATE (FROM GLENN): Flashback: Berkeley Mayor Is Member of Antifa Facebook Group that Organized Riots.

THIS IS CNN: CNN host reveals that journalists don’t like Trump.

It’s not clear why Mr. [Brian] Stelter wanted to raise the question of whether he and his colleagues are being honest. But there is certainly a question of just how uncomfortable CNN has been about raising issues related to President Trump’s health and character. “My impression is that since President Trump’s inauguration, there’s been a lot of tiptoeing going on,” added Mr. Stelter.

Perhaps he was referring to the program he hosted a month into the Trump presidency. Mr. Stelter called Mr. Trump’s words “a verbal form of poison” and said the President instills “fear in many people.” Then, appearing above a CNN headline saying, “TRUMP’S NIXON-ESQUE PRESS BASHING,” Mr. Stelter invited Carl Bernstein to tiptoe into the story. The former Washington Post reporter pronounced that Mr. Trump’s attacks on the press “are more treacherous than Richard Nixon’s ” and proceeded to reference Stalin and Hitler.

Stelter has certainly been making a name for himself lately.

JOURNALISM AS NARRATIVE CONTROL: James T. Hodgkinson, Attempted Assassin Of Steve Scalise, Already Being Erased From History.

We’ve been hearing a lot about “right-wing violence” lately. If we’re to believe our moral, ethical, and intellectual betters, there’s a Klansman on every street corner and a Nazi under every bed. There’s nothing more terrifying than a “white nationalist” who lives in his mom’s basement, which is why it’s okay for feral Antifa children to beat these guys up and drench them with balloons filled with piss. It’s “self-defense.”

But what happens when an act of violence is irrefutably motivated by left-wing ideology? What happens if, for example, a Bernie Bro named James T. Hodgkinson shoots at a bunch of congressmen for the explicit reason that he hates Republicans and wants them dead? How do we fit that into the preferred narrative?

We can’t. There’s no way. So we just leave it out entirely.

Well, for certain values of “we.” But it’s sad to see this even from the WSJ. Plus:

If James T. Hodgkinson had been a Trump supporter who shot and almost killed a Democratic congressman for political reasons, he’d be the most infamous man in America. But now, just two months after his attempt to murder a group of Republican lawmakers, he’s not even worth mentioning.

If I didn’t know better, I’d think the press is sad that Hodgkinson didn’t succeed.

Think of them as Democratic Party operatives with bylines and you won’t go far wrong. Even at the WSJ, it seems.

MATTHEW CONTINETTI: America’s new, combustible four-party system.

Trump’s emphasis on social issues broadly construed—on abortion, guns, judges, crime, drugs, immigration, terrorism—and his rejection of orthodox GOP support for free trade and entitlement reform transformed the Republican makeup. What Drutman describes as a “split in the Republican Party between populists and conservatives” can also be interpreted as a division between the party of Trump and the Grand Old Party. The two parties may agree on some issues, but they differ in tone and outlook and on crucial policy questions. It is difficult for them to function as a coalition government. Trump’s health care reform is stalled in Congress, his tax reform is inchoate, and his infrastructure plan is nonexistent. The two parties are able to unite against the left, but have trouble finding common legislative ground.

Making things more complicated is the fact that there are more than these two parties. Drutman also found divisions within the Democrats. “To the extent that the Democratic Party is divided, these divisions are more about faith in the political system and general disaffection than they are about issue positions.” The Democratic Party of Barack Obama and Bill and Hillary Clinton is satisfied with the status quo, and uses identity politics as a veneer for economic policies that benefit Wall Street, Silicon Valley, Hollywood, and multinational corporations. What we might call the party of Bernie Sanders, on the other hand, is both more radical on questions of political correctness and identity and hostile to the established order. The party of Sanders wants radical change. Beginning with Medicare for all.

Recent events have brought to light the distinction between the party of Trump and the GOP. But it would be foolish for Democrats to believe that they are out of the woods, that America has settled, for the moment, on a three-party system. What we have are four parties: The mainstream Republicans, the party of Trump, the mainstream Democrats, and the party of Sanders.

The old two-party system had failed — failed to pursue its constituents’ interests, failed at basic governance, and worst of all, failed to protect America’s institutions, both formal and informal. “Worst political class ever,” as Glenn as noted here more than once.

So the current mess might not be an improvement (at least not yet), but it was certainly inevitable. And it will likely be years before the dust settles — if then.

WITH THE ACADEMIC YEAR BEGINNING, IT’S A GOOD TIME TO REVISIT THIS EXCELLENT PIECE FROM HEATHER GERKEN: Dean of Yale Law School: Campus Free Speech Is Not Up for Debate.

In this, the summer of our discontent, many college presidents are breathing a sigh of relief that they made it through a politically fraught spring without their campuses erupting. Nobody wants to be the next Middlebury or Claremont McKenna, where demonstrations disrupted controversial speakers.

Law deans, in sharp contrast, have reason to be cheery. Their campuses have been largely exempt from ugly free-speech incidents like these. Charles Murray, the controversial scholar whose speech drew violent reaction at Middlebury, has spoken at Yale Law School twice during the past few years. Students and faculty engaged with him, and students held a separate event to protest and discuss the implications of his work. But he spoke without interruption. That’s exactly how a university is supposed to work.

There may be a reason why law students haven’t resorted to the extreme tactics we’ve seen on college campuses: their training. Law school conditions you to know the difference between righteousness and self-righteousness. That’s why lawyers know how to go to war without turning the other side into an enemy. People love to tell lawyer jokes, but maybe it’s time for the rest of the country to take a lesson from the profession they love to hate.

In law schools we don’t just teach our students to know the weaknesses in their own arguments. We demand that they imaginatively and sympathetically reconstruct the best argument on the other side. From the first day in class, students must defend an argument they don’t believe or pretend to be a judge whose values they dislike. Every professor I know assigns cases that vindicate the side she favors–then brutally dismantles their reasoning. Lawyers learn to see the world as their opponents do, and nothing is more humbling than that. We teach students that even the grandest principles have limits. The day you really become a lawyer is the day you realize that the law doesn’t–and shouldn’t–match everything you believe. The litigation system is premised on the hope that truth will emerge if we ensure that everyone has a chance to have her say.

The rituals of respect shown inside and outside the courtroom come from this training. Those rituals are so powerful that they can trump even the deepest divides. As Kenneth Mack recounts in his book Representing the Race: The Creation of the Civil Rights Lawyer, Thurgood Marshall was able to do things in court that a black man could never do in any other forum, like subjecting a white woman to cross-examination. Marshall was able to practice even in small, segregated towns in rural Maryland during the early days of the civil rights movement. The reason was simple: despite their bigotry, members of the Maryland bar had decided to treat Marshall as a lawyer, first and foremost.

She makes excellent points, though I wonder if a contemporary equivalent of Marshall would do as well today, when the personal is political and when “protesters” scrawl “Fuck Law” on the Lincoln Memorial. Marshall, after all, benefited from the bourgeois conventions of dignity that a latter generation of activists rejected.

DAVID BLANKENHORN: Charlottesville, Trump, And Our Bitter Politics.

Like so many, I’m saddened and deeply troubled by what happened in Charlottesville this past weekend, and its aftermath. And I also worry that more argument about it at this point is unlikely to do much good and may even do harm. Yet silence, somehow, feels cowardly.

Let’s review the basic story to date. An innocent woman lies dead, murdered. Far-right hate groups, for decades essentially exiled from anything but the most marginal participation in our public life, are now being discussed around the world (whether accurately or not) as a viable and perhaps growing presence among us. And the polarization of our society, much of it stoked by our market-share obsessed media—the rancor, the bitterness, the frantic hyperbole, the relentless either/or framing of issues, our fear of and anger at each other—appears only to have been increased by Charlottesville and its aftermath.

I agree with, or at least can understand with some sympathy, many things President Trump said. Left-wing provocateurs do exist; and they, too, use telegenic violence to recruit new members and raise money. Labels such as “alt-right” or “neo-Nazi” probably don’t describe everyone who showed up for the rally. There is more than one side to the issue of the Confederate statues and monuments; indeed there are at least three sides, since some African-American members of a Charlottesville city commission formed by the Mayor to consider the issue favored keeping the statues partly as “teaching moments” for the future.

The President also said yesterday that neo-Nazis and white nationalists “should be condemned totally,” a sentiment for which I’m grateful and with which I fully agree—but which also seems both forced and late.

But here’s the heart of the matter, for me. The great majority of Americans on both sides of the political aisle recognize that, in this land we all love and want to make better, racism exists. It’s deep and it’s serious. It dishonors us, and we need to do everything we can to erase it and put it behind us.

In that light consider: The rally in Charlottesville was planned and carried out by openly racist groups in pursuit of openly racist objectives. These facts should and do cause the great majority of Americans to feel distress, embarrassment, regret, shame, remorse, anger, and a renewed determination to do all that we can to minimize this terrible thing that crawled out of the fever swamps this past weekend to highjack our attention. Almost all of us—liberals and conservatives, Republicans and Democrats—know this and feel this in our bones.

Read the whole thing.

RENEGOTIATING NAFTA: Canada Wants to Make Nafta More ‘Progressive.’

Earlier Monday, President Donald Trump tweeted that U.S. lawmakers over the years “have given us (or not fixed) some of the worst trade deals in World History. I am changing that fast!”

She said among the country’s objectives would be a freer market for government procurement across the continent. This could run into opposition from the Trump administration’s push to put more teeth into Buy America directives, which preserve them as part of a revamped Nafta.

She said local-content provisions, such as Buy America, “are political junk-food—superficially appetizing, but unhealthy in the long run.”

Ms. Freeland said Canada also wants to make Nafta more “progressive,” through tougher labor and environmental standards. On the environment, she said Canada wants the countries to support efforts to combat climate change, and cast a skeptical eye toward countries that “[weaken] environmental protection to attract investment.”

Be careful what you wish for.

AN EXCELLENT EDITORIAL FROM THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: The Poison of Identity Politics: The return of white nationalism is part of a deeper ailment.

The White House nonetheless issued a statement Sunday saying Mr. Trump “includes white supremacists, KKK, Neo-Nazi and all extremist groups” in his condemnation. As so often with Mr. Trump, his original statement missed an opportunity to speak like a unifying political leader.

Yet the focus on Mr. Trump is also a cop-out because it lets everyone duck the deeper and growing problem of identity politics on the right and left. The politics of white supremacy was a poison on the right for many decades, but the civil-rights movement rose to overcome it, and it finally did so in the mid-1960s with Martin Luther King Jr. ’s language of equal opportunity and color-blind justice.

That principle has since been abandoned, however, in favor of a new identity politics that again seeks to divide Americans by race, ethnicity, gender and even religion. “Diversity” is now the all-purpose justification for these divisions, and the irony is that America is more diverse and tolerant than ever.

The problem is that the identity obsessives want to boil down everything in American life to these categories. In practice this means allocating political power, contracts, jobs and now even salaries in the private economy based on the politics of skin color or gender rather than merit or performance. Down this road lies crude political tribalism, and James Damore’s recent Google dissent is best understood as a cri de coeur that we should aspire to something better. Yet he lost his job merely for raising the issue.

A politics fixated on indelible differences will inevitably lead to resentments that extremists can exploit in ugly ways on the right and left. The extremists were on the right in Charlottesville, but there have been examples on the left in Berkeley, Oakland and numerous college campuses. When Democratic politicians can’t even say “all lives matter” without being denounced as bigots, American politics has a problem.

We have the worst political class in our history, and a dysfunctional political culture.

CHARLIE MARTIN: Breaking News: Donald Trump is President.

Donald J Trump is President. Really. Won it fair and square, he was inaugurated seven — almost eight — months ago, and very probably is going to be President for another three and a half years.

Minimum.

So, now, children, let’s calm down. All of you people over there saying Trump is unqualified and should be removed? Give it up. He’s qualified by the only qualification that matters: he is over 35, he is a native US citizen, and he won the damned election. The Constitution doesn’t have a clause in it for removal by vote of the media, or because his political opponents don’t like him. The only reason he can be removed Constitutionally is if someone finds high crimes and misdemeanors.

Now, I know that some people are fantasizing about the Democrats taking the House, and passing a Bill of Impeachment, and somehow getting the Senate to convict.

To which I say, “be careful, you’ll get chafed.”

Besides, look what we know now: the Russian collusion story is effectively dead — the famous Golden Showers Dossier is the product of a Democratic opposition research house, talking to Russians is actually not a crime, and the case has gotten much stronger that the DNC emails weren’t obtained by Russian hackers. If you’re hanging your hopes on the Emoluments Clause, remember that George Washington ran his business while President. If George Washington could do it without hitting the Emoluments Clause, it’s going to be tough passing the laugh test with Trump.

Let’s game the impeachment out, though. Say it happened. Then there are going to be approximately 43 million Americans who are convinced that the President they elected has been removed by the people they were voting against when they elected him. I don’t care what you think of Trump, that won’t be good. And should it happen, what do you think the next election will be like?

So, stop.

They can’t. And I mean that literally. It’s not just a political posture. It’s a psychological need.

He’s got some advice for Trump supporters, too. Oh, and here’s one more excerpt:

Legacy media, it’s like this: if you want to have your reporting respected, your reporting is going to have to deserve respect. If you keep reporting fake news, people are going to keep thinking you report fake news.

For everyone: stop using the word “treason” unless you’re prepared to show which recognized enemy with which we have a legally-recognized state of active hostilities. And good luck with that.

But stop bandying it about recklessly: you’re accusing someone of a capital crime. That goes for everybody: Debbie Wassermann-Schultz, Hillary Clinton, Steve Bannon, Donald Trump Jr., Donald Trump Sr., basement-dwelling ne’er-do-wells whether they’re carrying a Swastika or a Hammer and sickle. If you want to know why accusing these people of treason is bad, read the Federalist Paper number 43 or just look at history: “treason” is an awfully convenient way to justify killing your political opposition.

Whatever your politics, it’s time to recognize that the election is over, and and what’s going on now is hurting the country and hurting the people. It’s time to start a acting like responsible citizens of a free nation.

Or at least it’s time to decide whether you want to be citizens of a free nation.

Indeed.

THE GOOGLE ARCHIPELAGO: In an article at the Weekly Standard that was likely written before Google’s meltdown this week headlined, “You Can’t Say That,” a review of the recent book The Demon in Democracy , Matthew B. Crawford asks, “Has liberalism taken a Soviet turn?”

Through the ’80s, ’90s, and into the new millennium, the phrase “politically correct” would crop up here and there. Among people who were credited as being sophisticated, use of the term would be met with a certain exasperation: It was needling and stale. The phrase had been picked up by the likes of College Republicans and Fox News, and if you had an ear for intellectual class distinctions you avoided it.

Originally a witticism, the term suggested there was something Soviet-like in the policing of liberal opinion. When it first came into wide circulation, was it anything but humorous hyperbole? Is that still the case today?

A sociologist might point to a decline in social trust over the past few decades—they have ways of measuring this—and speculate about its bearing on political speech. One wonders: Who am I talking to? How will my utterances be received? What sort of allegiances are in play here? In the absence of trust, it becomes necessary to send explicit signals. We become fastidious in speech and observe gestures of affirmation and condemnation that would be unnecessary among friends.

It’s a great review, and well worth your time to read the whole thing. Crawford’s question, “Has liberalism taken a Soviet turn?”, dovetails remarkably well with this week’s events. In the article by James D. Miller that Glenn linked to on Wednesday titled “Get ready for the ‘tech alt-right’ to gain influence in Silicon Valley,” Miller wrote:

It will be poisonous if the tech right feels compelled to not only hide their beliefs but also to actively pretend to believe in progressive diversity values. This pretending will embitter them, probably pushing many to the more radical alt-right.

It will prevent the left and right from getting meaningful feedback on their belief. Plus, if progressives never talked with people on the right, they wouldn’t get to learn that most of us do not fit their stereotypes of being sexist monsters.

When SJWs in Silicon Valley realize that their ideological enemies are hiding, they might actively search them out. They might become suspicious of the guy who was the first to stop clapping when a new diversity initiative was announced. Even worse, SWJs in human resources might become reluctant to hire those with characteristics correlated with conservatism, such as past military service.

That line about SJWs becoming suspicious about “the guy who was the first to stop clapping when a new diversity initiative was announced” is Straight Outta the Kremlin, comrade. In The Gulag Archipelago, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn wrote of the fate of the man who stopped clapping first:

At the conclusion of the conference, a tribute to Comrade Stalin was called for. Of course, everyone stood up (just as everyone had leaped to his feet during the conference at every mention of his name). … For three minutes, four minutes, five minutes, the stormy applause, rising to an ovation, continued. But palms were getting sore and raised arms were already aching. And the older people were panting from exhaustion. It was becoming insufferably silly even to those who really adored Stalin.

However, who would dare to be the first to stop? … After all, NKVD men were standing in the hall applauding and watching to see who would quit first! And in the obscure, small hall, unknown to the leader, the applause went on – six, seven, eight minutes! They were done for! Their goose was cooked! They couldn’t stop now till they collapsed with heart attacks! At the rear of the hall, which was crowded, they could of course cheat a bit, clap less frequently, less vigorously, not so eagerly – but up there with the presidium where everyone could see them?

* * * * * * * *

Then, after eleven minutes, the director of the paper factory assumed a businesslike expression and sat down in his seat. And, oh, a miracle took place! Where had the universal, uninhibited, indescribable enthusiasm gone? To a man, everyone else stopped dead and sat down. They had been saved!

The squirrel had been smart enough to jump off his revolving wheel. That, however, was how they discovered who the independent people were. And that was how they went about eliminating them. That same night the factory director was arrested. They easily pasted ten years on him on the pretext of something quite different. But after he had signed Form 206, the final document of the interrogation, his interrogator reminded him:

“Don’t ever be the first to stop applauding.”

And the world’s biggest search engine is well on its way to becoming The Google Archipelago. In an article Orwellianly titled “Internal Messages Show Some Googlers Supported Fired Engineer’s Manifesto” (heaven Lenin forefend — root out the hoarders and wreckers!) in Wired, which began as a libertarian-leaning publication before being purchased by the lefties at Condé Nast, the writer quotes from an anonymous Google employee. “‘Let’s take a step back,’ the Googler wrote, ‘and look at what is actually making everyone in Google upset on this thread and in general since the start of the 2016 election season.’ He went on to describe how the apparent uniformity of thought at Google led people like Damore to feel ‘like they are being forcibly dragged into [sic] ideological indoctrination chamber,’” including these passages that sound like mash notes smuggled out of the Ministry of Truth:

Weekly public (though thankfully anonymous) shaming of employees for misdeeds as slight as anachronistic use of “guys” for a mixed gender group

Frequent references to documents that stigmatize open disagreement with a a rage [sic] of positions

Call for employees to give each other hugs at an all hands meeting because the wrong candidate won a presidential election in the country, following by a mass mailing on how to help your kids deal with grief due to the same occurrence

In a piece at the Federalist titled “No One Expects The Google Inquisition, But It’s Coming,” Robert Tracinski spots another Stalin-esque element to be found in the above article at Wired:

In the new Internet version [of commercial advertising], we know these big companies are gathering specific personal information about our habits and preferences, far more than anyone has ever done, but we accept it because we think they’re just going to use it to sell us stuff, which might sometimes be annoying but isn’t ominous. But if we think there is a wider purpose, if we think they’re going to use our information for social engineering or political manipulation—will that break the bargain?

In this regard, the most important part of the story is those photographed screenshots intended to out Googlers who agreed with Damore. Why were they photographs of a computer screen rather than actual screenshots grabbed by the computer itself, which would have had much better resolution? I suspect it’s because this would leave evidence behind on work computers, so the leakers might get caught. This implies the leakers know what they’re doing is against internal Google rules—just as leaking Damore’s original memo to the media was against internal Google rules.

I don’t want to get into the debates we see around the Trump administration about which is worse: what we found out about our leaders because of the leaks, or the fact that so much information is being leaked. What’s relevant here is that Google now faces a pattern in which its employees are taking internal information and leaking it to the media, against the company’s own rules and safeguards, in order to achieve political objectives. If the wider public starts to figure out that this is happening, they just might decide this is not a company they want to trust with their information or access to their lives.

And they would be wise to do so. At the conclusion of a post today on the hypocrisy of Google firing Damore over his memo but making billions off of gender-based data-mining and targeted advertising code, Rod Dreher links to this scene from the 2006 film on the East German Stasi, The Lives of Others:

Dreher’s captions the clip, “A scene from the Google cafeteria.” He’s likely not all that far off.

DO YOU WANT MORE TRUMP? BECAUSE THIS IS HOW YOU GET MORE TRUMP:

I use DuckDuckGo as my primary search engine, and Bing as my fallback. Instead of Gmail, I spend a few bucks a month with a reliable web-hosting service and own my own domain with 1,000 email addresses and unmetered bandwidth. There are no Google apps on my phone to report my every movement and all my metadata back to the mothership.

These are easy steps almost anyone can take to rid themselves of this meddlesome priest.

TRUE: Hillary Wants To Preach.

I wrote something about this for the Guardian back in 2004. Excerpt:

And, actually, the roots of this do-goodism are ultimately in New England Puritanism, which had many characteristics associated with today’s left. Among them were a hostility to wealth – illustrated by sumptuary laws – a belief that the welfare of the community trumped the rights of individuals (Hillary combined both these aspects in her famous recent statement: “We’re going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good”). Puritans favoured dense settlement in towns over spread-out farmers – they were, in a sense, the first opponents of “sprawl”.

Even the most stereotypical aspect of the Puritans is not as out of place as you might think. Puritans were, of course, notoriously hostile to sex, but the modern left has threads of those sentiments, too – witness the anti-sex screeds of Catharine MacKinnon or Andrea Dworkin. In fact, Puritans, who were actually quite enthusiastic about marital sex, may actually have been less Puritanical in this regard than some modern feminists.

Not all leftwingers in the US are as frankly religious as Hillary Clinton, and many don’t even realise that the ideas that they champion have deep religious roots. But even for these people, being leftwing has itself become a sort of religion, with those who disagree viewed as sinister, almost demonic forces, rather than simply as individuals holding different views.

The language of righteousness and sin, if not that of redemption and grace, remains a hallmark of the purportedly secular left, though I find it no more attractive than the language of the religious right.

In fact, it’s worse.

CHARLIE MARTIN: Diversity Is Conformity At Google.

So, the author should be fired and blackballed.

According to others, he should be beaten. (I’m linking Breitbart, not my favorite site, but a lot of these people have now blocked or protected their accounts.)

I can’t imagine why he felt that “Google has several biases and honest discussion about these biases is being silenced by the dominant ideology.”

Now, I wrote about my own experiences following the Brendan Eich debacle — Netscape was very interested in me and then, suddenly, was not. I’ve had the same experience several times now, and I’ve been effectively unemployed (except for writing) for nine months, the longest time ever (and if anyone needs Python or Java programming, or DevOps with Ansible, especially if it can be done remotely, or technical writing, let me know.)

Is it because I’m a visible conservative? Who knows. But you just have to look at the reaction to this memo to see that his worry that people are being silenced by a dominant ideology is well-founded.

There are a lot of unhappy people — mostly but not exclusively white males — in Silicon Valley who are unhappy with how PC it’s become. (Note that about 1/3 of Google employees who weighed in actually agreed with the essay). This is a litigation opportunity for lawyers who want to use California’s surprisingly strong strong laws against political discrimination in employment. It’s also a hiring opportunity for companies that want to be non-PC. And if all these guys got together, they could probably swing their Congressional district.

Meanwhile, Silicon Valley’s brand continues to suffer as they look less like bold innovators and more like deranged college administrators. This has all sorts of consequences, politically and economically. In particular, if the Trump Administration wants to go all-in on a strong antitrust enforcement effort against the tech industry’s behemoths, these kinds of episodes will strengthen his hand, and weaken the industry’s.

ROD ROSENSTEIN: Mueller needs to come to me if he wants to chase any crime outside scope of Russia probe. “Bob Mueller understands and I understand the specific scope of the investigation, and so no, it’s not a fishing expedition.”

Plus:

It has been reported that Mueller’s investigation has expanded to look at the finances of Trump and his associates, giving rise to concerns that Mueller could make it the focus of the probe. Rosenstein seemed to dismiss this issue.

Asked if there were no red lines under the terms of his order, Rosenstein said that the investigation is subject to the rules and regulations of the Justice Department.

If there’s evidence of a crime that’s found within the scope of what they have agreed, then Mueller has free rein, Rosenstein explained. If it’s outside the scope of the probe, then “he needs to come to the acting attorney general, at this time me, for permission to expand his investigation,” he added. Rosenstein noted this as a precedent, which was also followed by independent counsel Ken Starr during the Clinton years.

Reports have come out over the past couple months about how the probe is investigating Trump for obstruction of justice, and that Mueller has impaneled grand juries, capable of issuing subpoenas.

These reports and more have relied on anonymous sources, against whom Rosenstein cautioned could be unreliable. He dubbed these reports, “speculation in the news media.”

Hmm.

MARK KRIKORIAN: Why Trump Is Right about Immigration.

The RAISE Act would limit family immigration rights to the actual nuclear family: husbands, wives, and little kids of American citizens and legal residents. The current categories for adult siblings, adult sons and daughters, and parents would be retired. U.S. citizens could still bring in their elderly parents in need of caretaking, but only on renewable nonimmigrant visas (no green cards or citizenship) and only after proving that they’ve paid for health insurance up front.

The second major element in this restructuring addresses the employment-based immigration flow. It is now a jumble of categories and subcategories, the main result of which is to provide steady work for immigration lawyers. The Cotton-Perdue bill would rationalize this mess by creating one, streamlined points system, along the lines of similar schemes in Canada and Australia. Points would be awarded to potential candidates based mainly on education, English-language ability and age, and those who meet a certain benchmark would be in the pool for green cards, with the top scorers being selected first.

The bill would also eliminate the egregious Diversity Visa Lottery and cap refugee admissions at fifty thousand per year, rather than allow the president let in as many as he wants, as is the case today.

The level of immigration—now running at over a million a year—would likely drop by 40 percent, and then drop some more over time, as the number of foreign spouses declined. (Most U.S. citizens marrying foreigners are earlier immigrants, so as they age, and fewer new immigrants come in behind them, the demand for spousal immigration is likely to fall.) That would still mean annual permanent immigration of 500,000–600,000 a year, which is more than any other nation.

None of this seems unduly harsh, or really anything less than perfectly sensible — naturally then, anyone supporting the bill is “literally Hitler.”

GOP BORDER LAWMAKER: ‘Can’t Double Down’ on 3rd-Century Wall to Solve 21st-Century Problems.

Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas), who has voiced support for a technology-driven solution over President Trump’s border wall, has introduced legislation in support of building a “Smart Wall” that would entail high-tech detection and tracking systems.

“Violent drug cartels are using more modern technology to breach our border than what we are using to secure it,” Hurd said in a statement last week introducing the Secure Miles with All Resources and Technology (SMART) Act. “We can’t double down on a Third Century approach to solve 21st Century problems if we want a viable long-term solution.”

Hurd, whose district includes 800 miles of U.S.-Mexico border, said during a congressional hearing last week that he favors the U.S. investing in a “smart wall” rather than spending billions to build the 700- to 900-mile border wall that Trump has envisioned.

I’m all in favor of modern solutions to old problems, but we are talking the U.S. government here. You have to wonder if a smart wall might end up as the world’s biggest — and hackable — Internet of Things device.

I THINK HE SHOULD GET THE NEXT OPEN SUPREME COURT SEAT: Don Willett’s Lone Star Legal Show: The Texas Supreme Court justice is witty and approachable, and he’s huge on Twitter. He’s also one of the most influential conservative jurists in the country right now.

In the past few decades, the number of American jobs requiring a state license has exploded. Roughly one out of every four workers must seek a license to work. Now some institutions are starting to push back. Perhaps the most prominent — or at least most fervent — of these is the Texas Supreme Court. In 2015, the court struck down the state’s licensing requirement for eyebrow threaders (cosmetologists who remove unwanted facial hair using a thread), finding it unreasonable.

One of the justices, Don Willett, who has served on the court since 2005, went much further. The state’s regulatory requirements were not just extreme, he concluded, but “preposterous.” To pursue the low-paying job, prospective eyebrow threaders had to pay thousands of dollars in fees and were required to complete more than five times as many hours of initial training as emergency medical technicians. “If these rules are not arbitrary,” Willett wrote in a concurring opinion, “then the definition of ‘arbitrary’ is itself arbitrary.”

Willett’s concurrence in the case, Patel v. Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation, has been hailed as one of the most important conservative opinions of recent years. It was expansive enough to trigger talk about reviving a judicial approach to regulation that has lain dormant for decades. It’s one of the main reasons Willett’s name appeared on President Trump’s short list for the U.S. Supreme Court.

Willett is pretty blunt about his overall intent. He’s a champion of individual rights, claiming a central role for the judiciary in protecting those rights against state encroachment. “Liberty is not provided by government,” he wrote in Patel. “Liberty pre-exists government.” In that context, Willett wasn’t talking about speech or privacy rights. He was referring to economic liberty: the right to earn a living by unfettered free choice in a capitalist economy.

For someone in the important but relatively obscure position of state supreme court justice, the 51-year-old Willett has engendered an unlikely cult of personality. He’s hailed by conservative columnists and think tanks and has been profiled in The Wall Street Journal as one of the right’s leading legal thinkers. It’s hard to find anyone, even among his liberal critics, who won’t acknowledge Willett’s combination of legal acumen and down-home style.

Read the whole thing.

YOU WANT MORE TRUMP? BECAUSE THIS IS HOW YOU GET MORE TRUMP. Chelsea Clinton, the epitome of ‘white privilege’, lectures white parents about racism.

INDEPENDENT-COUNSEL-ORAMA: John Hinderaker: Let’s Investigate All The Scandals. “The House Republicans identify no fewer than 14 additional scandals or potential scandals that they want investigated by a second special counsel, Robert Mueller having shown himself to be a tool of the Democratic Party (my characterization, not theirs). . . . Roger Simon more modestly suggests five scandals that need to be investigated, along with Russian activities in connection with the 2016 election: the unmasking scandal, Fusion GPS, Imran Awan, Loretta Lynch’s cover-up of the Hillary Clinton email scandal, and Uranium One. . . . The House Republicans addressed their letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Sessions may or may not have been correct in recusing himself with regard to the investigation into the Trump campaign, but he certainly has no need to defer with regard to the appointment of a special counsel to investigate the fourteen additional subjects raised by the House Judiciary Committee members.”

WELL IF THEIR GOAL WAS SOWING CHAOS, THEY’VE CERTAINLY HAD A LOT OF HELP FROM THE MEDIA AND THE “RESISTANCE.” BUT I REPEAT MYSELF. Were The Russians Playing Both Sides?

It is now widely known that the Russian government interfered in the 2016 presidential election to weaken Hillary Clinton, both by hacking and releasing emails and by spreading disinformation on social media and state-funded news outlets.

But yesterday’s Senate Intelligence Committee hearings suggest that this may not be the whole story.

In the clip below, Senator Lindsay Graham asks Bill Browder—American businessman who has successfully lobbied for sanctions against Russia after his attorney was abused and likely murdered in a Moscow jail—about Russian involvement in the 2016 election. Browder notes that Fusion GPS—the opposition research behind the infamous “pee tape” dossier about Donald Trump—was at the time being paid by Russians to produce opposition research about him and undermine support for the Magnitsky Act, the bill Browder backed that froze the assets of a few dozen Russian oligarchs.

Fusion GPS is relevant to the Russia investigation for two reasons. First, as Browder says above, it was under contract by Russian oligarchs at the same time that it produced “dirt” on Trump. Second, Christopher Steele—the British former spy who produced the dossier on Fusion’s behalf—gathered much of his information from Russians.

The web of connections involved in this whole affair can get convoluted (if you want to be more confused, recall that the Russian firm that hired Fusion GPS, Prevezon Holdings, also retained Natalia Veselnitskaya—the lawyer who met with Don Jr. in Trump Tower last July). But the information we have now at least raises the possibility that powerful Russians were involved—as sources of information or money or both—in the creation of the Steele Dossier, perhaps the most influential piece of opposition research in history. . . .

As Graham says, it’s quite possible that the Russians were collecting dirt on both sides in a bid to sow chaos above all else. We are likely to learn more as the Congressional investigations proceed.

Oh, I hope so.

Related: Kimberley Strassel: Who Paid for the ‘Trump Dossier’? Democrats don’t want you to find out—and that ought to be a scandal of its own.

It has been 10 days since Democrats received the glorious news that Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley would require Donald Trump Jr. and Paul Manafort to explain their meeting with Russian operators at Trump Tower last year. The left was salivating at the prospect of watching two Trump insiders being grilled about Russian “collusion” under the klieg lights.

Yet Democrats now have meekly and noiselessly retreated, agreeing to let both men speak to the committee in private. Why would they so suddenly be willing to let go of this moment of political opportunity?

Fusion GPS. That’s the oppo-research outfit behind the infamous and discredited “Trump dossier,” ginned up by a former British spook. Fusion co-founder Glenn Simpson also was supposed to testify at the Grassley hearing, where he might have been asked in public to reveal who hired him to put together the hit job on Mr. Trump, which was based largely on anonymous Russian sources. Turns out Democrats are willing to give up just about anything—including their Manafort moment—to protect Mr. Simpson from having to answer that question.

Make him talk. Under oath. “What if, all this time, Washington and the media have had the Russia collusion story backward? What if it wasn’t the Trump campaign playing footsie with the Vladimir Putin regime, but Democrats? The more we learn about Fusion, the more this seems a possibility.”

TYLER O’NEIL: Imran Awan Scandal Shows Just How Much Dirt Dems Wanted to Hide By Focusing on Trump-Russia.

When U.S. Capitol Police, the FBI, and Customs and Border Protection teamed up to arrest Imran Awan, an IT staffer for Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) and other congressional Democrats, Americans began to realize just how broken and corrupt the Democratic Party has become. Indeed, such scandals beg the question of whether the Trump-Russia hype has not been a desperate attempt to distract the country from a long train of scandals on the Left.

Awan was arrested Monday night on charges of bank fraud, to which he has pled not guilty. As Forbes’ Frank Miniter argued, however, his strange case “has all the feeling of the opening scene of a movie that might soon include political corruption and so much more.”

Politico reported that Awan is “at the center of a criminal investigation potentially impacting dozens of lawmakers.” He was arrested after wiring $283,000 from the Congressional Federal Credit Union to Pakistan, The Daily Caller reported.

PJ Media’s Debra Heine has been on the story since it broke in February of this year. Imran Awan and his Pakistani-born brothers, Abid and Jamal Awan, are under criminal investigation by the U.S. Capitol Police and the FBI on suspicion that they accessed congressional computers without permission and stole equipment.

The Awan brothers worked for more than 30 House and Senate Democrats, as well as former Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who only fired Imran Awan on Tuesday after his arrest. News of the investigation broke in February, but Schultz kept Awan on staff for five months before firing him. Schultz even threatened Capitol Police Chief Matthew Verderosa about the investigation in May.

Weird how, since the connection to Democratic dirty-tricks firm Fusion GPS came up, the press stopped talking about the Russia “collusion” story overnight.

SO IT SEEMS TO ME THAT THE THING TO FOCUS ON IS THE 2018 ELECTIONS. The press will continue to go crazy over Trump’s latest tweet, but what happens will ultimately turn on whether the GOP keeps its majority — and whether, if it does, the majority that it keeps is as lame as this one. I think that people who want small government will want to primary Senators and Representatives who don’t, while still trying to keep a majority. As tempting as it is to just wash your hands, we learned in 2006 that a determined Democratic Congress is a lot more destructive than a wishy-washy Republican one, as irritating as the latter is.

ISRAEL EVALUATES ITS READINESS FOR WAR: Hamas and Hezbollah are the daily challenges, but Iran is the big threat. By the way, Iran still wants nukes.

The Iranian regime has not given up its strategic objective of obtaining nuclear weapons. The sunset clauses on the nuclear deal will lift key restrictions over the next eight to thirteen years. Assuming the hard-line Shiite ideological-religious camp and the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) continue to control Iran’s foreign and military policies, the Islamic Republic will be able restart its nuclear program at the end of the sunset clauses (if it does not cheat and breach the agreement beforehand).

Iran could begin enriching uranium again (using improved techniques it is currently researching) to bring it to nuclear breakout, and could try to reach that point at a time of its choosing. Its missile program is already developing. This means Israel could find itself in a state-to-state conflict in the not too distant future.

Additionally, Arab Sunni states threatened by Iran have launched civil nuclear programs of their own. These could turn out to be the initial stages of military nuclear programs, designed to counter Iran’s nuclear shadow.

More evidence that Obama’s Iran deal was a very bad deal.

WEIRD, FROM WHAT I’VE SEEN IN THE PRESS AND ON SOCIAL MEDIA, ABSOLUTELY NOBODY EXCEPT A FEW NEANDERTHALS AGREES WITH TRUMP: Only 23% Favor Transgenders In Military.

A poll conducted less than one month prior to President Trump’s decision on Wednesday to reverse an Obama-era policy that allowed transgender individuals to serve openly in the military found more people opposed than supported it.

Rasmussen surveyed 1,000 likely voters on the topic in late June, almost exactly one year after then-Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced the shift last summer.

“The U.S. Department of Defense now allows transgender people, those who identify with and want to live as the opposite sex, to serve openly in the military,” the survey said. “Is this decision good for the military, bad for the military or does it have no impact?”

Only 23 percent of people surveyed responded that it was good, while 31 percent said it was bad. The largest bloc of respondents, 38 percent, said it has no impact.

As the Washington Examiner reported earlier today, a Military Times poll conducted last December found 41 percent of active-duty troops believed the policy hurt military readiness, while only 12 percent said it helped.

Who knew?

TAKE A BOW, DNC-MSM: Last night, the Boy Scouts became the Hitler Youth. Today, Sean T. Collins, a freelancer who has written for the New York Times, Rolling Stone, Wired, and the New York Observer among other publications, declares “The world would be a better place if McCain died in Vietnam,” in a since-deleted tweet, as he and other Democrat operatives with bylines attack McCain for wanting to “kill” people by repealing Obamacare, as NewsBusters notes.

Lest you think this is entirely a new attitude amongst the left, recall this New Yorker flashback to the Vietnam War era. “Punch” Sulzberger, who had published the Times from 1963 through 1992, and whose family has controlled the New York Times since the late 19th century, served with distinction as a Marine in the Pacific Theater in WWII and as an officer during the Korean War. His son on the other hand…

[Arthur Ochs “Pinch” Sulzberger Jr.] had been something of a political activist in high school—he had been suspended briefly from Browning for trying to organize a shutdown of the school following the National Guard’s shooting of students at Kent State—and at Tufts he eagerly embraced the antiwar movement. His first arrest for civil disobedience took place outside the Raytheon Company, a defense and space contractor: there, dressed in an old Marine jacket of Punch’s, he joined other demonstrators who were blocking the entrance to the company’s gates. He was soon arrested again, in an antiwar sit-in at the J.F.K. Federal Building in Boston.

Punch had showed little reaction after the first arrest, but when he got word of the second one he flew to Boston. Over dinner, he asked his son why he was involved in the protests and what kind of behavior the family might expect from him in the future. Arthur assured his father that he was not planning on a career of getting himself arrested. After dinner, as the two men walked in the Boston Common, Punch asked what his son later characterized as “the dumbest question I’ve ever heard in my life”: “If a young American soldier comes upon a young North Vietnamese soldier, which one do you want to see get shot?” Arthur answered, “I would want to see the American get shot. It’s the other guy’s country; we shouldn’t be there.” To the elder Sulzberger, this bordered on traitor’s talk. “How can you say that?” he yelled. Years later, Arthur said of the incident, “It’s the closest he’s ever come to hitting me.”

Pinch and the rest of the MSM haven’t exactly matured much since the Woodstock era. As Matthew Continetti of the Washington Free Beacon wrote of the Times in a 2014 piece titled “Fast Times at Eighth Avenue High,” “The next time our reporters and producers and anchors and bloggers affect an air of moral or social superiority, the next time they pretend to know the answers to every political and economic and cultural question, remember this: They are basically teenagers.”

And regarding their adolescent rage, and that of the non-media wing of the Democrat Party, as Glenn has written, “Trump, as I keep saying, is a symptom of how rottenly dysfunctional our sorry political class is. Take away Trump and they’re just as awful and destructive. He just brings their awfulness to the fore, where it’s no longer ignorable. Now they’re willing to play with fire, risking the future of the polity over little more than hurt feelings, in a way that would have been unthinkable not long ago.”

Related: “And now, in sports news, Deadspin preparing victory lap in event of Sen. John McCain’s death,” tweeting, “I don’t want to hear another [f***ing] word about John McCain unless he dies or does something useful for once.”

I’m so old, I can remember when the left pretended to condemn eliminationist rhetoric.

UPDATE: Liberals Stop Pretending to Care About John McCain After His Health Care Vote.

BUT WHO WOULD BELIEVE THEM? “Progressives must preach understanding, not shame, to be effective,” Andrew Redlawsk writes in USA Today. His bio describes him as “a Democratic organizer and activist and is currently pursuing his Masters in Political Management at George Washington University.” Embrace the smugness dripping from his article:

The other night, I had an amazing conversation with a friend who admitted he was a Donald Trump voter. Having known him for most of my life, I was shocked. But as a result, as a proud member of The Resistance, I’m even more certain that we progressives are largely responsible for the rise of Trump’s America.

Amazed that a lifelong friend was one of those people. Shocked that he’s part of the other, deplorable half of America. Whereas fortunately, Redlawsk declares himself a “proud member of The Resistance,” as if he’s in the French underground in WWII. More Redlawsk:

If we’re waiting for people who hold a different view to change their minds without being guided through that process, we’ll be waiting an awfully long time. I think progressives would all agree that time is not something we have to waste. It may not be fair, but progressives must be willing to put aside their anger and hate and take responsibility for creating the change they wish to see in the world. To vilify, shame and condemn only causes those who don’t understand to dig in their heels. If we are the ones who want change, the responsibility is ours to do what it takes to encourage it.

To summarize: Progressives, stop insulting, stop shaming, and stop condescending. Start listening. Start teaching.

Start “teaching.” Guide them through the process.

Yes, Middle Americans love to feel like they’re the left’s students – that always plays really well – particularly knowing that the lessons come with a fair amount of “anger and hate” behind them as Redlawsk admits.

And if the instructions from our would-be betters are rejected?  That dovetails quite well into another piece making the rounds concurrently with the above USA Today article: “Rolling Stone Confirms: Ultra-Rich Gay Activist Is Targeting ‘Wicked’ Christians,” Bre Payton writes at the Federalist:

Ah, so “the wicked’” whom [tech millionaire turned gay rights activist Tim Gill] says need to be “punished” are indeed Christians, as well as everyone who agrees with them. Anyone who stands up for a Christian’s right to live in accordance with his or her religious beliefs will also be targeted for harassment in public and the legal system. Further, he clearly defines “wickedness” as adhering to centuries-old Christian (and Jewish and Muslim) beliefs on human identity and sexuality. To Gill, orthodox Christian beliefs comprise “wickedness.” Thanks for clearing that up.

* * * * * * * *

Nevertheless, asking a judge to think twice before throwing the book at a Christian baker who doesn’t want to bake a cake for a lesbian wedding is a “wickedness” that ought to be stamped out, according to Gill.

This must be part of that “Better Deal” that Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer are promising us. As Erick Erickson likes to say, you will be made to care.

One way or another – we can do this the easy way, or the hard way, as they say in the Corleone family.

UPDATE: I think Steve’s phrase earlier today regarding another column by a lefty trying to make sense of what happened — “If this column is any indicator, even lefties who think they get it still haven’t gotten it” — might need to go into a macro for rapid and frequent deployment.

THE “DEEP STATE” ISN’T THE “ESPECIALLY BRIGHT STATE,” AS THIS LATEST DEVELOPMENT PROVES:

People who want to undermine Trump should try looking more sober and responsible than he is. So far, they’ve done the opposite.

THE O.J. TRIAL AND THE CLINTON PRESIDENCY: The O.J. Trial Was a Preview of America Under Trump.

Race loomed large in the O.J. Simpson trial, which came on the heels of the Rodney King saga, and O.J.’s team leveraged black identity politics in much the same way that Trump leveraged white identity politics. The prosecution team, like Hillary Clinton’s campaign, made a logical (if not particularly inspired) argument for why the jurors should take its side in what seemed to most professionals like a slam-dunk case. But the result came down to ethnocultural identification among the decision-makers. And O.J.’s jurors, like Trump’s voters, simply did not feel understood or recognized by the other team. The prosecution’s efforts at tokenism weren’t enough to convince the largely black jury to take the side of a law enforcement regime they viewed with suspicion, just as Hillary Clinton’s tortured working class appeals didn’t persuade white Rust Belt voters that she had their interests at heart. . . .

The most remarked-upon similarity between these two phenomena is the reality-TV quality of the coverage surrounding them. Both Trump and O.J. achieved wall-to-wall, flood-the-zone coverage unlike anything seen before or since. Both did this at a time of flux in the way Americans consumed information—O.J. at the dawn of the age of cable news, and Trump at the dawn of the age of social media. And both employed similar media strategies, with great success. For O.J.’s legal team, as the communications professional Bradley Tusk wrote in a post-election piece comparing it to the O.J. trial, “message and narrative trumped facts and evidence. Style trumped substance. He turned the whole thing into a spectacle, and the media played right along. Punditry, commentary and celebrity overran the process.” The media wanted O.J. to be convicted, just as it wanted Trump to lose, but the 24/7 coverage vortex probably helped both men more than it hurt.

Plus, Alan Dershowitz!

FUSION GPS ILLUMINATES THE BRAVE NEW WORLD OF MANUFACTURED NEWS FOR HIRE:

The news media is dead broke. Print advertising is washed up and all the digital advertising that was supposed to replace lost revenue from print ads and subscribers has been swallowed up by Facebook and Google. But the good news is that people will still pay for stories, and it’s an awful lot easier to bill one customer than invoicing the 1,500 readers of your blog. The top customers for these stories are political operations.

There is no accurate accounting of how many of the stories you read in the news are the fruit of opposition research, because no journalist wants to admit how many of their top “sources” are just information packagers—which is why the blinding success of Fusion GPS is the least-covered media story in America right now. There’s plenty of oppo research on the right, but most of it comes from the left. That’s not because Republicans are more virtuous than Democrats and look for dirt less than their rivals do. Nor conversely is it because Republicans make a richer subject for opposition research because they’re so much more corrupt. Nope, it’s simple arithmetic: Most journalists lean to the left, and so do the majority of career officials who staff the federal government. There are more sounding boards on the left, and more sources. It’s not ideological, it’s business.

Thus, most of Fusion GPS’s contracts seem to come from the left—except for its most famous project, the Russia dossier. Before it was passed on to the Democrats, it started on the right, when one Republican candidate—thought to be Jeb Bush but never confirmed—hired the outfit to amass damning material on Trump. From humble beginnings, it has taken on the shape of a modern-day legend.

Read the whole thing.

Related: Co-founder of firm behind Trump-Russia dossier to plead the Fifth.

AARON BLAKE: This poll is a warning sign for Democrats.

A new Washington Post-ABC News poll, as Mike DeBonis and Emily Guskin report, presents a pretty mixed bag for Democrats. It shows that registered voters say they want Democrats to control Congress to be a check on Trump by a 52-38 percent margin, but it also shows Democrats are — rather remarkably — less enthusiastic about voting than Republicans are. While 65 percent of Republicans and GOP-leaning adults say they are “almost certain to vote,” just 57 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning adults say the same.

The question from there is which is more predictive of what lies ahead. And the answer won’t necessarily make Democrats feel better.

Great, kid — don’t get cocky.

BACKLASH: RIGHT WING TWITTER BEGINS DIGGING FOR DIRT ON CNN EMPLOYEES. “This is not the world I want to live in,” one of Ace of Spades’ co-bloggers writes, and I concur. “When I first saw that they’d embarrassed this guy, I laughed. I thought he was an on-air personality and at least a minor political player. After I realized he was just an editor, I cringed a little. I can’t bring myself to endorse it, but neither can I condemn it. This is what they’ve done to time and time again us and they won’t stop. What alternative is there?… This is only the beginning of an ever-growing pushback, one that’s only going to get nastier and more ugly. And everything that happens is on them. This is the rotten, worm infested harvest they have sown and they’re going to be choking on it for some time to come.”

As Ace himself warned the media last November, a week after Trump won, this backlash was coming. “You dominate this culture. You made the rules. You now get to live in the savage world you made brick-by-brick, media…The media loves to ride the tiger of Mob Hatred when that tiger is devouring a plebeian. Well, sometimes the tiger bucks, old chaps.”

Related: Regarding their actual news coverage, or the lack thereof, “Our Corrupt Media Is Now Haunted By All The Precedents They Set While Colluding With Obama.”

BYRON YORK: What campaign wouldn’t seek motherlode of Clinton emails?

The public learned on March 10, 2015 that Hillary Clinton had more than 60,000 emails on her private email system, and that she had turned over “about half” of them to the State Department and destroyed the rest, which she said were “personal” and “not in any way related” to her work as Secretary of State.

The public learned later the lengths to which Clinton went to make sure the “personal” emails were completely and permanently deleted. Her team used a commercial-strength program called BleachBit to erase all traces of the emails, and they used hammers to physically destroy mobile devices that might have had the emails on them. The person who did the actual deleting later cited legal privileges and the Fifth Amendment to avoid talking to the FBI and Congress.

Clinton’s lawyer, David Kendall, told Rep. Trey Gowdy, chairman of the House Benghazi Committee, that investigators could forget about finding any of those emails, whether on a device or a server or anywhere. Sorry, Trey, he said; they’re all gone.

It was, as the New York Times’ Mark Landler said in August 2016, the “original sin” of the Clinton email affair — that Clinton herself, and no independent body, unilaterally decided which emails she would hand over to the State Department and which she would delete.

Still, there were people who did not believe that Clinton’s deleted emails, all 30,000-plus of them, were truly gone. What is ever truly gone on the Internet? And what if Clinton were not telling the truth? What if she deleted emails covering more than just personal matters? In that event, recovering the emails would have rocked the 2016 presidential campaign.

So, if there were an enormous trove of information potentially harmful to a presidential candidate just sitting out there — what opposing campaign wouldn’t want to find it?

The difference is, most campaigns would send some deniable operative. Trump’s campaign was so lean that he didn’t have a bunch of those people to call on.

JOURNALISM: ABC News: Christians Who Believe In The First Amendment Are A ‘Hate Group.’

ABC News’ Pete Madden and Erin Galloway smeared Christians who believe the Bill of Rights secures religious liberty as a “hate group,” in an article this week headlined, “Jeff Sessions addresses ‘anti-LGBT hate group,’ but DOJ won’t release his remarks.” The lede of the story made it clear this was not just the work of a rogue headline writer but the failure of the reporters themselves. . . .

Who is this “hate group”? Alliance Defending Freedom is not a hate group at all, but a civil liberties organization that battles for religious liberty. And they’re not a fringe group either. They just weeks ago won their most recent Supreme Court victory — Trinity Lutheran v. Comer — 7-2. It was their fifth Supreme Court victory in seven years, during which time they’ve had no losses at the high court.

And the group is ranked among the top law firms in the country for its successes at the Supreme Court.

Most recently the non-profit law firm found out that the Supreme Court agreed to hear another one of their cases dealing with artistic freedom and religious liberty.

To characterize such an accomplished civil rights group as a ‘hate group’ is unacceptable and inexcusable.

Do you want more Trump? Because this is how you get more Trump.

Related: How ‘Good Morning America’ hides George Stephanopoulos’ ‘little-boyish mini-legs.’

DISPATCHES FROM THE EDUCATION APOCALYPSE: “I want to make a prediction: The next successful Republican politician will rally the Right by making America’s universities his punching bag — and the universities will prove even more vulnerable to that politician’s attacks than the media were to Donald Trump’s.”

If Republicans want to change the culture – really change the culture – reforming academy should be their top priority:

The next Trump, then, will play to the worst fears of parents by going after colleges and universities. In doing so, he will unite the best, the worst, and all the other elements of the Right. They will be primed to hear the critique, which will be partially or even largely correct. The next Steve Bannon will seek to “overthrow” the university system from behind the scenes. And the universities, like the media before them, will walk right into the trap, while the Left rejects potential voters as deplorable ignoramuses.

Can you see it yet?

You bet — read the whole thing.

Related: The Closing of the American Mind Now.

THE HILL: Lawmaker pushes probe of whether Comey leaked classified info.

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) want Congress to investigate of whether former FBI Director Jim Comey leaked confidential information in a memo that was leaked to the press.

“We don’t know if the memo that he leaked through his friend to the New York Times contained confidential information, but we do know based on that [news] story — that other memos he put together may have had confidential classified information,” Jordan, member of the Oversight Committee ,said in an interview with The Hill’s Molly K. Hooper.

“That warrants us examining those, that matter as well and getting to bottom of it,” Jordan said, adding that he’s “pushing for hearings right now in the Judiciary Committee on the Comey/Lynch matter.”

The Hill on Sunday reported that more than half of the memos that Comey wrote as personal recollections of his conversations with President Trump contained classified information.

Josh Marshall was saying on Twitter the other day that Trump thinks everybody in DC is dirty. If so, well, he’s not wrong. . . .

THE RISE OF THE INTERNET’S ‘DIRTBAG LEFT’ — How a new strain of progressive leftism is using humour, irony, and diaper jokes to push back against the emerging alt-right:

What Michelle Obama—or Canadian writer Jonathan Kay, who recently issued a critique of social media boorishness in a National Post essay—miss in their clarion calls for civility is that, for many, politics isn’t just some academic discussion or reimagining of a collegiate debate club: It’s a battle. It’s about drastically opposed visions of society rubbing against each in open conflict. The reinvigorated left doesn’t want to debate; it wants to disgrace.

The fact is that there are many on the left who don’t want to be civil—who want to mock and joke and hurl ad hominem and be as baseless and vulgar as possible. And why? Well, for one thing, it’s productive (and fun!) to unnerve those in power, and to make them feel uncomfortable in their laziness and privilege. And if it’s acceptable for members of the utterly powerless online liberal #Resistance to tweet at Donald Trump calling him a “Cheeto” or a “carrot” as if he’ll miraculously resign when he’s read it for the 17-millionth time, why is it not also valid to needle more immediate villains with harsher, more pointed criticisms?

These tactics will likely present a problem for some. The valuing of vulgarity and snarky hostility (“so much for the tolerant left!”) may scan as cannibalization and in-fighting among those with loosely shared agendas (i.e. anti-Trumpism). The dirtbag left understands this. What they reject are progressive-leftists being neglected, despite the foundering of the liberal/Democratic institution. They’re tired of sitting, slouched and bored, elbows on the table, at the kids’ table. And unlike the purely anarchic alt-righters doing it “for the lulz,” the alt-left offers a coherent, practical, progressive political agenda. As Chapo co-founder Will Menaker put it on a recent episode of the show, addressing an imagined audience pragmatist liberals and centrists: “Yes, let’s come together. But get this through your f–king head: you must bend the knee to us. Not the other way around. You have been proven as failures, and your entire worldview has been discredited.”

As Marcus H. Johnson of the Huffington Post tweets, with a screen cap highlighting that last sentence, “Imagine being a wealthy white guy and telling this to poor minorities who vote for Democrats.”

It’s like there’s a fascistic side to liberalism, or something.

EPA’S PRUITT ASKS FOR TV CLIMATE DEBATE, Jon Gabriel writes at Ricochet:

The science may not be settled, but EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt wants it televised. He raised the idea of a TV climate change debate in an interview with Reuters:

“There are lots of questions that have not been asked and answered (about climate change),” EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt told Reuters in an interview late on Monday.

“Who better to do that than a group of scientists … getting together and having a robust discussion for all the world to see,” he added without explaining how the scientists would be chosen.

Asked if he thought the debate should be televised, Pruitt said: “I think so. I think so. I mean, I don’t know yet, but you want this to be open to the world. You want this to be on full display. I think the American people would be very interested in consuming that. I think they deserve it.”

We do deserve it, especially since every proposed solution involves raising our taxes, damaging our economy, and making citizens more submissive to federal and global bureaucracies.

Please make this happen — Pruitt will compile hours of potential footage for the Trump reelection campaign video b-roll. In addition to the smug condescension of haughty climate scientists speaking to Pruitt as if he’s Cletus The Slack-Jawed Yokel, the apocalyptic doomsday rhetoric and proposed solutions would be a riot. I wonder if John Holdren, Obama’s “Science” “Czar,” could be invited to discuss eugenics (i.e. forced abortions and mass sterilization) and shooting rockets into the atmosphere filled with pollution to blot out the sun?

JONAH GOLDBERG ON THE DANGERS OF ARROGANT IGNORANCE:

For many historians, the Polish-born pope’s Mass in Victory Square, more than anything else, set in motion the events that led to the fall of the Berlin Wall a decade later and the dissolution of the Soviet Union soon thereafter. The people in attendance knew exactly what President Trump meant when he spoke of how the millions of Poles attending that Mass “did not ask for wealth. They did not ask for privilege. Instead, one million Poles sang three simple words: ‘We want God.’”

But I wasn’t in the audience; I was watching it on TV and following Twitter’s response to the speech. It was remarkable how many people immediately assumed Trump was talking crazy or just making stuff up (I am paraphrasing very charitably here).

I understand that response. Trump often does say crazy things. He does make stuff up — but usually not in prepared texts at big events.

It struck me how a lot of our political polarization is fueled by plain old ignorance.

* * * * * * * *

It is a common human foible to think you know more than you do and to assume that when someone, particularly someone you don’t like, says something you don’t understand that the fault must be in the speaker, not the listener. “It’s a universal law — intolerance is the first sign of an inadequate education,” observed Alexander Solzhenitsyn. “An ill-educated person behaves with arrogant impatience, whereas truly profound education breeds humility.”

Read the whole thing.

IT’S A SOUTHWEST “WANNA GET AWAY” COMMERCIAL IN HELL:

Shot: New Jersey Transit Train Derails at Penn Station in New York.

—The New York Times tonight. The train reportedly had almost 200 people onboard, with no serious injuries claimed.

Chaser: “It’s obvious why Team de Blasio didn’t want you to see the numbers: They show 3,892 people living on the streets, up 40 percent from last year and the highest rate since 2005….the homeless shelter population is also at a high under de Blasio, having crossed the 60,000 mark last October.”

—The New York Post, yesterday.

Hangover: De Blasio Makes Sudden Trip to Trump Protests at G-20 Summit.

—The New York Times today.

It’s the banned-in-New York supersized economy version of Victor Davis Hanson’s Bloomberg syndrome:

Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg used to offer all sorts of cosmic advice on the evils of smoking and the dangers of fatty foods and sugary soft drinks. Bloomberg also frequently pontificated on abortion and global warming, earning him a progressive audience that transcended the boroughs of New York.

But in the near-record December 2010 blizzard, Bloomberg proved utterly incompetent in the elemental tasks for which he was elected: ensuring that New Yorkers were not trapped in their homes by snowdrifts in their streets that went unplowed for days.

The Bloomberg syndrome is a characteristic of contemporary government officials. When they are unwilling or unable to address pre-modern problems in their jurisdictions — crime, crumbling infrastructure, inadequate transportation — they compensate by posing as philosopher kings who cheaply lecture on existential challenges over which they have no control.

Meanwhile on the west coast, “Schwarzenegger’s successor, Jerry Brown, warned of climate change and permanent drought and did not authorize the construction of a single reservoir. Now, California is experiencing near-record rain and snowfall. Had the state simply completed its half-century-old water master plan, dozens of new reservoirs would now be storing the runoff, ensuring that the state could be drought-proof for years…Governors who cannot build a reservoir have little business fantasizing about 200-mph super trains.”

Amtrak’s Acela trains can at least get over 130 mph on the Northeast Corridor — if only they had a functioning train station in Manhattan for them to pull into.

And note this item in the Times’ report today:

He has vowed that the city will resist efforts to deport more immigrants, and he has said the city will push ahead with a commitment to meet or exceed the goals of the Paris climate accord, which Mr. Trump plans to set aside.

But Mr. de Blasio appears to again be feeling the need to travel.

Recently he met with the mayor of Seattle, and in June he flew to Miami where he spoke about health care and climate change at a meeting of the United States Conference of Mayors.

What’s the carbon footprint on all that air travel for de Blasio and his entourage?

KURT SCHLICHTER: We Should Cheer CNN’s Ritual Suicide. “If you ever had any doubt that Donald Trump was right that the mainstream media is the enemy of the American people, CNN corrected your inexplicable inability to comprehend this painfully obvious truth by choosing July 4th to threaten some guy for daring to make fun of Its Medianess Holiness. Apparently, if you dare defy the media it has the right to wreck your life – as long as you are an anti-Obama rodeo clown or a meme-making rando on Reddit. If you are a zillionaire like Anthony Scaramucci with the bucks to hire top flight law firms and Gawkerize its lame carcass – which I would have done in a split-second if CNN had lied about me the way it did about him – then you get a free pass. . . . Now, before we move on, someone is going to point out that the meme guy is kind of a jerk and said stuff that offends decent people. So? How is that the point? This is a multi-billion dollar media corporation using all its power to threaten an individual into not criticizing it. How is that ever okay? And don’t pretend for a minute this media extortion precedent gets limited to outlier Reddit guys. Normal Americans are next.”

Plus: “As much as it is a joy to see CNN shred its pretenses and act openly as we always knew it wanted to, this sort of thing is not good. There is a cultural war underway already, and this only makes it more likely to get worse. When the media takes a side, it makes the other side its enemy. That’s a conscious choice. And CNN seems happy to help feed the fire by embracing its liberal fascist id.”

ROGER KIMBALL: Trump’s Warsaw Uprising.

If you want to know why Donald Trump will go down in history as a great President, listen to (or read, when it is available) his speech in Krasinski Square, Warsaw today.

Yes, there is a lot of the usual diplomatic persiflage: “Thank you, President Duda. Thank you, Poland.” But be an adult and distinguish the gem from the setting. While the anti-Trump press was busy running stories warning about “unease in Brussels” over Trump’s visit to Poland, Trump once again totally outflanked his critics. Those who have ears, let them hear.

Much more at the link.

YEAH, THAT’S TOUGH TO CLAIM, NOW THAT THE “REFEREES” ARE BUSY OUTING THE IDENTITIES OF THE BLEACHER BUMS: MSNBC Panel Bemoans ‘Impartiality’ as ‘Mistakes of the Past,’ a ‘Disservice:’

MSNBC’s self-crowned political referee, Chuck Todd, appeared to throw in the towel on enforcing D.C.’s political rules, or at least the journalistic ones. During the first segment of Monday’s MTP Daily, Todd and two of his panelists, Brian Karem and David Folkenflik, whined about how the media was expected to be impartial with President Trump attacking them. “But look, two generations of us as reporters. We’re trained and conditioned to don’t show emotion, we’re the umpires and the referees.” Todd claimed. “When somebody is insisting on making you the story, what do you do? … I struggle with it.”

It was clear that Todd didn’t know how to be an unbiased reporter as he opined about how he and other journalists weren’t trained to deal with Trump’s “moral failings.” “Somebody tweeted that journalists today were never trained to cover moral failings very well. And in some ways, this is what makes this more difficult,” he told his fellow partisans. “We’re not good with having to say what’s right and wrong sometimes because again, we have been trained to be dispassionate and the umpire.”

Of course, when dealing with the previous president’s moral failings and lack of empathy, Todd had no problem justifying them away:

CHUCK TODD: I would say the real danger for the president on issues like this, is less about this, and more about — Paul Begala one time said this to me — he said, you know, the guy really is his mother’s son sometimes when it comes to studying society.  He’s anthropoligcal about it.  Remember that time when he was studying people in Pennsylvania, and he said to that fundraiser in Pennsylvania, you know they cling to their guns.  He wasn’t meaning it as demeaning in his mind, but it came across that way.

ANDREA MITCHELL: It’s intellectualized.

TODD: He’s the son of an anthropologist, and I think sometimes he goes about religion that way, almost in this, as I said because he’s very well studied on, not just Christianity but on a lot of religions, but in that, frankly, anthropological way, and that can come across as distant.

Trump’s excesses, and the media’s obvious boiling anger that Hillary lost, are simply the latest excuses for the DNC-MSM to drop the mask and claim that objectivity is unwarranted – not that they ever need much of excuse:

Big Journalism, September 28th, 2013

— Column in liberal MSM industry house organ Editor & Publisher in 2007.

— Twitchy.com, July 13, 2013.

— Ed Driscoll.com (aka, me) June 25th, 2013.

— The Daily Caller, April, 2013.

— Twitchy, April, 2013

— Newsbusters, February of 2010.

— Newsweek cover headline, February of 2009.

— Ed Driscoll.com, February 24, 2012.

Nobody believes the MSM is objective anymore (not that they ever really were) – and their insanity is, ironically, the best thing that could happen to Trump. As Glenn quipped earlier today, “This is the point where the Wilford Brimley character turns and says ‘Mr. Trump, I seem to want to ask if you set all this up. But if I do, you ain’t gonna tell me, are you?’ No.”

A PARTY OF, BY, AND FOR THE RICH AND FAMOUS: Two Silicon Valley billionaires want to reinvent the Democratic Party with a new project called ‘WTF.’

Called Win The Future, WTF is starting as a “people’s lobby” where people can vote on policy topics that are important to them, like making engineering degrees free for everyone.

“We need a modern people’s lobby that empowers all of us to choose our leaders and set our agenda,” said Mark Pincus, the billionaire cofounder of WTF and Zynga. “Imagine voting for a President we’re truly excited about. Imagine a government that promotes capitalism and civil rights.”

Despite its roots with two powerful tech founders, WTF is taking an old-school approach to start. People will vote on the policies and discuss them on Twitter. The ones that seem to resonate will then be turned into billboards that the group plans to buy in Washington D.C. to make sure Congressional leaders see them.

While it wants to get the attention of members of Congress, WTF is also unabashedly “not for pro-politicians.” According to Recode, one of WTF’s more audacious plans has been to recruit political outsiders to run as “WTF Democrats” and challenge the old stalwarts of the democratic party. One person Pincus targeted specifically has been Stephan Jenkins from the band Third Eye Blind, according to Recode.

I’d wager that the Democrats will run as many celebrities as they can drum up, hoping to emulate Donald Trump’s success. But not many celebrities have Trump’s thick skin, and unlike Trump they can’t afford to rally support by constantly tweaking the symbiotic news media.

“LITERALLY:” Trump literally tackles mainstream media with CNN ‘clothesline’ video.

CNN’s Brian Stelter actually contacted Twitter to ascertain if Trump’s animated GIF-themed tweet violated their terms of use.

Meanwhile, from BuzzFeed,MORE LOGO VIOLENCE: BuzzFeed staffer creates wrestling video with the DOJ logo knocking out President Trump.”

As Allahpundit quipped yesterday:

The Atlantic wants Trump banned from Twitter for supposedly violating its terms of service covering violent threats, harassment, and “hateful conduct,” which is a bit like asking the Angels to release Mike Trout. When there’s only one compelling reason to pay attention to a mediocre organization, they’re going to cling to that reason as long as they can afford to. Frankly, maybe it’s best for everyone that Twitter continues to let him slide: He doesn’t seem all that stable as it is and taking away his favorite toy is likely to compound the problem. The best-case scenario is that he starts doing video rants on Instagram instead. Worst-case: Korean War II.

Perhaps another GOP presidential candidate with a show-biz connection said it best:

 

BYRON YORK: The Price Of Fighting With Trump.

People who get into fights with Donald Trump often end up diminished by it.

Just ask Marco Rubio, who in February 2016 broke some sort of ground when he introduced the “small hands” attack into presidential politics. “And you know what they say about guys with small hands,” Rubio told crowds during the days he decided to transform himself from GOP contender into anti-Trump insult comic. A few weeks later, Rubio expressed regret about the “small hands” routine. “My kids were embarrassed by it, and if I had it to do again, I wouldn’t,” Rubio said.

Just ask Jeb Bush, who allowed himself to be drawn into brawls with Trump — brawls which there was no chance Bush, no match for Trump’s insults, would win.

Just ask Ted Cruz, who made an informal peace with Trump for much of the campaign, then fought Trump in the final primaries, and finally released a campaign’s worth of anger and bile at Trump just hours before the Indiana primary vote that knocked Cruz out of the race. Now, as a senator, Cruz has to work with, and support the policies of, the man who so got under his skin.

Of course, Rubio, Bush, and Cruz — and Carson, Christie, Fiorina, Paul, Kasich, Jindal, and others — had an excuse; they were running against Trump for the Republican presidential nomination. But others have tangled with Trump and found themselves diminished, too.

Just ask some of the more strident NeverTrumpers who have allowed Trump to live rent-free in their heads. Today, some are serious people doing non-serious things — I bought a pair of socks at Nordstrom! — because of a reflexive opposition to Trump.

Just ask CNN, which, in addition to its news reporting, has taken on what appears to be a network-wide air of snarkiness in its Trump coverage. That oppositional tone has raised the stakes for CNN when its journalists make mistakes, as they have recently. Yes, CNN’s ratings have gone up, but its reputation has taken a hit. “Trump is indeed destroying CNN…by tempting them to destroy themselves,” tweeted writer and former Breitbart editor Ben Shapiro recently.

And now ask Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, the TV hosts who once sang Trump’s praises and were openly friendly with the presidential candidate but now bash and insult him daily. (“They’ve said he has dementia,” RNC chair Ronna Romney McDaniel noted recently. “They’ve said he’s stupid. They’ve called him a goon. They’ve called him a thug. They’ve said he’s mentally ill.”)

Scarborough and Brzezinski are engaged in a back-and-forth with Trump over…what? A facelift? Hand size? Who said what to whom? The argument, which appears to have started Thursday with Brzezinski’s needling of Trump’s hand size (“They’re teensy!”) took a turn when Scarborough and Brzezinski wrote in a Washington Post op-ed (“Donald Trump is not well”) that, “This year, top White House staff members warned that the National Enquirer was planning to publish a negative article about us unless we begged the president to have the story spiked. We ignored their desperate pleas.” TrumpWorld sources are telling some (decidedly not-in-the-tank) reporters a very different version of events, which suggests Scarborough and Brzezinski will be pulled into a he-said-they-said fight that is far different from the one they wanted.

Does anyone think that, by any measure other than notoriety, this episode will not diminish Scarborough and Brzezinski? . . .

Of course one could say that Trump is at fault, that he regularly engages in spats that are beneath the dignity of the presidency. He should not, for example, respond in kind to “small hands” jabs. But Trump is Trump. He does what he does, which is what he did during the campaign and before. And now, in the White House, he has enlisted his media adversaries, wittingly or not, in a campaign against “fake news” that resonates with his core supporters.

“They like him, they believe in him, they have not to any large degree been shaken from him, and the more the media attacks him, the more it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy on the side of the Trump supporters who fervently believe the media treat him unfairly,” Tony Fabrizio, Trump’s campaign pollster, told the Washington Post.

I wrote a column about this months ago, but they’re still falling for it. Though to be fair, how much room is there for diminution where Scarborough and Brzezinski are concerned?

UPDATE: As usual, IowaHawk nails it:

ANN ALTHOUSE ON THE REACTION TO TRUMP’S LATEST TWEET:

Over at The Washington Post, Callum Borchers is calling it a “blatantly sexist attack.” Ridiculous. Men get facelifts too. In fact, it’s Borchers who’s supplying the sexism:

When Trump hits Brzezinski and Scarborough on Twitter, he hits Brzezinski harder, more personally and in a way that seems designed to portray her as insecure (“facelift”) and unintelligent (“low IQ”) — as a side piece who would not be on TV if not for her romantic relationship with Scarborough, to whom she was recently engaged.

Trump didn’t say “sidepiece” or characterize plastic surgery as a marker of insecurity. That’s Borchers projecting. What I read in that tweet is that he found it ludicrous that the person trying to insinuate herself into his company was bleeding from the face. That doesn’t sound at all like insecurity. Quite the opposite.

I suspect that Trump knows a lot about cosmetic surgery. And the pic accompanying the NYT story doesn’t exactly undermine the whole “facelift” angle.

But for those who find Trump unacceptably crude, a reminder: How David Brooks Created Donald Trump.

Brooks is, of course, horrified at Trump and his supporters, whom he finds childish, thuggish and contemptuous of the things that David Brooks likes about today’s America. It’s clear that he’d like a social/political revolution that was more refined, better-mannered, more focused on the Constitution and, well, more bourgeois as opposed to in-your-face and working class.

The thing is, we had that movement. It was the Tea Party movement. Unlike Brooks, I actually ventured out to “intermingle” with Tea Partiers at various events that I covered for PJTV.com, contributing commentary to the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Examiner. As I reported from one event in Nashville, “Pundits claim the tea partiers are angry — and they are — but the most striking thing about the atmosphere in Nashville was how cheerful everyone seemed to be. I spoke with dozens of people, and the responses were surprisingly similar. Hardly any had ever been involved in politics before. Having gotten started, they were finding it to be not just worthwhile, but actually fun. Laughter rang out frequently, and when new-media mogul Andrew Breitbart held forth on a TV interview, a crowd gathered and broke into spontaneous applause. A year ago (2009), many told me, they were depressed about the future of America. Watching television pundits talk about President Obama’s transformative plans for big government, they felt alone, isolated and helpless. That changed when protests, organized by bloggers, met Mr. Obama a year ago in Denver, Colo., Mesa, Ariz., and Seattle, Wash. Then came CNBC talker Rick Santelli’s famous on-air rant on Feb. 19, 2009, which gave the tea-party movement its name. Tea partiers are still angry at federal deficits, at Washington’s habit of rewarding failure with handouts and punishing success with taxes and regulation, and the general incompetence that has marked the first year of the Obama presidency. But they’re no longer depressed.”

One of the most famous things about the Tea Partiers was that — as befits a relentlessly bourgeois protest movement — they left things cleaner than they found them. Rich Lowry reported from Washington, DC: “Just as stunning as the tableaux of the massive throngs lining the reflecting pool were the images of the spotless grounds afterward. If someone had told attendees they were expected to mow the grass before they left, surely some of them would have hitched flatbed trailers to their vehicles for the trip to Washington and gladly brought mowers along with them. This was the revolt of the bourgeois, of the responsible, of the orderly, of people profoundly at peace with the traditional mores of American society. The spark that lit the tea-party movement was the rant by CNBC commentator Rick Santelli, who inveighed in early 2009 against an Obama-administration program to subsidize ‘the losers’ mortgages.’ He was speaking for people who hadn’t borrowed beyond their means or tried to get rich quick by flipping houses, for the people who, in their thrift and enterprise, ‘carry the water instead of drink the water.’ The tea party’s detractors want to paint it as radical, when at bottom it represents the self-reliant, industrious heart of American life.”

In San Francisco, too, tea party protesters met pro-Obama activists and picked up their trash. “John,” author of The City Square blog wrote: “As Obama supporters moved along in the line to get into the fundraiser, they left behind an impressive amount of trash … Tea Partiers shouted ‘pick up your garbage’ and ‘this is San Francisco, what about recycling?’ There was no response. They chanted ‘Obama leaves a mess.’ Still no response. Eventually, a tea partier (wearing the black cowboy hat) crosses over and starts to pick up the trash on his own. Other tea partiers join him. Another manages to find a trash bag. Soon the trash is being collected.”

Yet the tea party movement was smeared as racist, denounced as fascist, harassed with impunity by the IRS and generally treated with contempt by the political establishment — and by pundits like Brooks, who declared “I’m not a fan of this movement.” After handing the GOP big legislative victories in 2010 and 2014, it was largely betrayed by the Republicans in Congress, who broke their promises to shrink government and block Obama’s initiatives.

So now we have Trump instead, who tells people to punch counterprotesters instead of picking up their trash.

When politeness and orderliness are met with contempt and betrayal, do not be surprised if the response is something less polite, and less orderly. Brooks closes his Trump column with Psalm 73, but a more appropriate verse is Hosea 8:7 “For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind.” Trump’s ascendance is a symptom of a colossal failure among America’s political leaders, of which Brooks’ mean-spirited insularity is only a tiny part. God help us all.

Nice work, political class. Now if you manage to do to Trump what you did to the Tea Party, you need to wonder: What comes after Trump?

WELL, YES: McMaster Points To Obama’s ‘Premature Disengagement’ For Current Afghan Mess.

National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster cast blame for the dire current situation in Afghanistan on the previous administration’s handling of the war effort, while speaking at a Center for New American Security conference Wednesday.

The national security advisor’s comments came during an answer to a question as to how increasing the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan can change the tide of the war. McMaster pointed to former President Barack Obama’s “precipitous withdrawal” from Iraq and subsequent development of the Islamic State as an example of what the Trump administration intended not to do in Afghanistan.

The Taliban have made unprecedented gains across Afghanistan since the end of the U.S. combat mission in 2014, controlling nearly a third of the population. The U.S. backed Afghan National Security Forces have borne massive casualties in the last two years of fighting and continue to suffer from major systematic problems.

Obama’s legacy has been self-inflicted defeat everywhere we faced Islamist terror. Plus, some history, worth repeating again:

IT’S TRUE. HE LACKED COURAGE AND INTELLECT. Obama whines he just didn’t ‘have the tools’ to act on Syria.

Related: Obama seems eager to massage his legacy as it’s being written. We, therefore, are obliged to get the record right.

Well, here’s some history for you:

Rachel Maddow Tries to Rewrite History of Obama ‘Ending the War’ in Iraq.

Flashback: No Doubt About It — We’re Back in a Ground War in Iraq.

Without much fanfare, Obama has dramatically reversed his Iraq policy — sending thousands of troops back in the country after he declared the war over, engaging in ground combat despite initially promising that his strategy “will not involve American combat troops fighting on foreign soil.” Well, they’re on foreign soil, and they’re fighting.

It would have been easier — and would have cost far fewer lives — if we had just stayed. But Obama had to have a campaign issue.

And I suppose I should repeat my Iraq War history lesson: Things were going so well as late as 2010 that the Obama Administration was bragging about Iraq as one of its big foreign policy successes.

In the interest of historical accuracy, I think I’ll repeat this post again:

BOB WOODWARD: Bush Didn’t Lie About WMD, And Obama Sure Screwed Up Iraq In 2011.

[Y]ou certainly can make a persuasive argument it was a mistake. But there is a time that line going along that Bush and the other people lied about this. I spent 18 months looking at how Bush decided to invade Iraq. And lots of mistakes, but it was Bush telling George Tenet, the CIA director, don’t let anyone stretch the case on WMD. And he was the one who was skeptical. And if you try to summarize why we went into Iraq, it was momentum. The war plan kept getting better and easier, and finally at the end, people were saying, hey, look, it will only take a week or two. And early on it looked like it was going to take a year or 18 months. And so Bush pulled the trigger. A mistake certainly can be argued, and there is an abundance of evidence. But there was no lying in this that I could find.

Plus:

Woodward was also asked if it was a mistake to withdraw in 2011. Wallace points out that Obama has said that he tried to negotiate a status of forces agreement but did not succeed, but “A lot of people think he really didn’t want to keep any troops there.” Woodward agrees that Obama didn’t want to keep troops there and elaborates:

Look, Obama does not like war. But as you look back on this, the argument from the military was, let’s keep 10,000, 15,000 troops there as an insurance policy. And we all know insurance policies make sense. We have 30,000 troops or more in South Korea still 65 years or so after the war. When you are a superpower, you have to buy these insurance policies. And he didn’t in this case. I don’t think you can say everything is because of that decision, but clearly a factor.

We had some woeful laughs about the insurance policies metaphor. Everyone knows they make sense, but it’s still hard to get people to buy them. They want to think things might just work out, so why pay for the insurance? It’s the old “young invincibles” problem that underlies Obamcare.

Obama blew it in Iraq, which is in chaos, and in Syria, which is in chaos, and in Libya, which is in chaos. A little history:


As late as 2010, things were going so well in Iraq that Obama and Biden were bragging. Now, after Obama’s politically-motivated pullout and disengagement, the whole thing’s fallen apart. This is near-criminal neglect and incompetence, and an awful lot of people will pay a steep price for the Obama Administration’s fecklessness.

Related: National Journal: The World Will Blame Obama If Iraq Falls.

Related: What Kind Of Iraq Did Obama Inherit?

Plus, I’m just going to keep running this video of what the Democrats, including Harry Reid and Hillary Clinton, were saying on Iraq before the invasion:

Because I expect a lot of revisionist history over the next few months.

Plus: 2008 Flashback: Obama Says Preventing Genocide Not A Reason To Stay In Iraq. He was warned. He didn’t care.

And who can forget this?

Yes, I keep repeating this stuff. Because it bears repeating. In Iraq, Obama took a war that we had won at a considerable expense in lives and treasure, and threw it away for the callowest of political reasons. In Syria and Libya, he involved us in wars of choice without Congressional authorization, and proceeded to hand victories to the Islamists. Obama’s policy here has been a debacle of the first order, and the press wants to talk about Bush as a way of protecting him. Whenever you see anyone in the media bringing up 2003, you will know that they are serving as palace guard, not as press.

Related: Obama’s Betrayal Of The Iraqis.

Plus: Maybe that Iraq withdrawal was a bad thing in hindsight. Obama’s actions, if not his words, suggest that even he may think so.