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RICHARD EPSTEIN ON WHAT’S GOING ON:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JOHN COLTRANE AND THE END OF JAZZ:

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

* * * * * * * *

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He then immediately moved the argument to pill taking.

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

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

Read the whole thing,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Like Uffie, he’s got a loaded bodyguard.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Indeed.

ROGER SIMON: Manafort’s Purge Trial.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mueller’s office declined to comment.

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

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

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

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

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

Read the whole thing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And his base is solid.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s a cowing to crap.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read the whole thing, including this:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Plus:

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

Also:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Well, stay tuned.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Also: Joe Biden’s Woman-Touching Habit.

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

Plus:

Screen Shot 2015-04-24 at 9.04.03 AM

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

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

BYRON YORK:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ANGELO CODEVILLA: Diplomacy 101 vs. Politics Writ Small.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As Walter Russell Mead wrote last year:

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

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

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

Obama actually did all of these things, and none of the liberal media now up in arms about Trump ever called Obama a Russian puppet; instead, they preferred to see a brave, farsighted and courageous statesman.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

John Solomon:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read the whole thing.

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HMMMM: The Next American Revolution: #WalkAway.

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

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

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

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

Read the whole thing.

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

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

Rise up. Resist.

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

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

It reads: “Walk in another’s shoes.”

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

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

“Yeah of course.”

She gestures at the loudspeakers on the lawn and sighs.

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

Heh. Read the whole thing.

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

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

The Canadian Media Party ignored the story.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s what Democrats are campaigning on:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BYRON YORK: Donald Trump’s Mainstream Immigration Policy.

If a new poll is correct, it appears the Trump administration, after an enormously damaging few weeks, has ended up squarely on the side of the majority of American voters.

The new survey is a Harvard-Harris poll, by former Clinton pollster and strategist Mark Penn. It was conducted June 24-25, with 1,448 registered voters.

On the issue of separations, Penn began with a threshold question: “Do you think that people who make it across our border illegally should be allowed to stay in the country or sent home? Sixty-four percent (83 percent of Republicans, 47 percent of Democrats, and 66 percent of independents) said they should be sent home. Thirty-six percent said they should be allowed to stay.

Then, Penn asked: “Do you think that parents with children who make it across our border illegally should be allowed to stay in the country or sent home?” The presence of children made little different in the result: 61 percent (81 percent of Republicans, 40 percent of Democrats, and 66 percent of independents) said they should be sent home, while 39 percent said they should be allowed to stay. . . .

The end result was that a substantial majority said illegal border crossers, and the children they brought, should be returned to their home countries. To that end, 80 percent (84 percent of Republicans, 79 percent of Democrats, and 78 percent of independents) favored hiring more immigration judges “to process people in custody faster.”

“They [poll respondents] rejected family separation while narrowly favoring family detention,” Penn told me in an email exchange. “Mostly they want people who cross the border illegally to be turned around and returned home efficiently.”

Penn’s polling found other results broadly favorable to the Trump approach to immigration.

As I’ve said before, there’s a huge gap between elite and mainstream opinion here. I suspect the biggest predictor of which side you’ll fall on is whether you employ a nanny or a gardener.

PAST PERFORMANCE IS NO GUARANTEE OF FUTURE RESULTS:

● Shot:

Arnold Schwarzenegger heavily criticized President Donald Trump’s plan to rescue struggling coal plants, likening the move to saving antiquated products like floppy disks or Beanie Babies.

Famous movie star-turned-politician-turned environmental activist Arnold Schwarzenegger lampooned Trump in a Facebook video released Thursday. In the three-and-a-half minute video, he said the White House’s proposal to bailout coal and nuclear energy plants at grave risk of closure to be the wrong approach. The former GOP governor of California wants the administration to focus on developing the renewable industry instead.

“So President Trump, I know you really want to be an action hero, right?” Schwarzenegger said as he spoke inches away from a bobblehead made in Trump’s likeness. “So take it from the Terminator, you’re only supposed to go back in time to protect future generations. But your administration attempts to go back in time to rescue the coal industry, which is actually a threat to future generations.”

“It is foolish to bring back laughable, outdated technology to suit your political agenda,” he continued, with clips of famous movie scenes inserted in the video. “I mean, what are you going to bring back next? Floppy disks? Fax machines? Beanie Babies? Beepers? Or Blockbuster? Think about it.”

—“Arnold Schwarzenegger throws coal miners under the bus to mock Trump on the environment,” headline, Biz Pac Review, yesterday.

● Chaser:

Everything about America seemed so big to me, so open, so possible.

I finally arrived here in 1968. What a special day it was. I remember I arrived here with empty pockets but full of dreams, full of determination, full of desire.

The presidential campaign was in full swing. I remember watching the Nixon-Humphrey presidential race on TV. A friend of mine who spoke German and English translated for me. I heard Humphrey saying things that sounded like socialism, which I had just left.

But then I heard Nixon speak. Then I heard Nixon speak. He was talking about free enterprise, getting the government off your back, lowering the taxes and strengthening the military.

Listening to Nixon speak sounded more like a breath of fresh air.

I said to my friend, I said, “What party is he?”

My friend said, “He’s a Republican.”

I said, “Then I am a Republican.”

And I have been a Republican ever since. And trust me — and trust me — in my wife’s family, that’s no small achievement.

But I am proud to be with the party of Abraham Lincoln, the party of Teddy Roosevelt, the party of Ronald Reagan, and the party of George W. Bush.

—Excerpt from then Gov. Schwarzenegger’s speech at the 2004 Republican Convention.

I’m so old, I remember when Schwarzenegger’s critics accused him of not being a very good actor.

WANT MORE TRUMP? THIS IS HOW YOU GET MORE TRUMP:  The lunatics are coming out in droves. Maybe Maxine Waters is crazy enough to think she can pardon this guy…

“A criminal complaint shows Key is accused of telling an intern who answered the phone, “I’m going to find the Congressman’s kids and kill them. If you’re going to separate kids at the border, I’m going to kill his kids. Don’t try to find me because you won’t.’[…]Key’s social media pages show he is very politically active. He volunteers regularly for the Democratic Party of Martin County and has volunteered many hours for Planned Parenthood, according to a friend of Key’s.”

Of course he does.

MORE SELF-CRITICISM THAN YOU GET FROM MOST JOURNALISTS: Some of the pictures of border kids that haunt me most are from 2014. Here’s why.

What Free described on Twitter was an opportunity that few people get: A chance to personally confront the president of the United States and question him about his immigration policies. Free wrote that the answers he received from the so-called leader of the free world “shook me to my core.”

The immigration lawyer had been to two large detention centers in Texas where U.S. officials were holding hundreds of migrant families from Central America, often for months at a time. Free said some of the conditions at these makeshift detention camps were appalling.

“I remember hearing the constant, violent coughing and sickness of small children, and the worry of their mothers who stood in the sun outside the clinic all day only to be told their kids should ‘drink water,’” Free tweeted. “I remember nearly doubling over when I saw the line of strollers.”

When Free had a chance encounter with the president at a political event, he warned him that the detention centers would be “a stain on his legacy.” He said the president wanted to know if Free was an immigration lawyer — implying that everyday citizens weren’t worried about what goes on at the border — and then said, according to Free: “I’ll tell you what we can’t have, it’s these parents sending their kids here on a dangerous journey and putting their lives at risk.” The message that Free took away was that the president saw family detention as a deterrent to keep more refugees from coming.

This happened in 2015. The president with the looming stain on his legacy was Barack Obama. . . .

Let’s be honest: Do you think it’s outrageous when an attorney for the U.S. Justice Department argues that kids as little as 3-years-old are capable of defending themselves in American immigration courts. I know I do. But that happened — with few people paying attention — in 2016, when the attorney general was Loretta Lynch and Obama was POTUS.

Then there was the Associated Press scoop that went viral last week about migrant kids as young as 14 who say they were beaten while handcuffed, locked up in solitary confinement, and left naked in concrete cells at a juvenile detention center in Virginia — which happened in 2015 and 2016, long before Donald J. Trump became our 45th and current president.

Right now, the protest movement that, arguably, pressured Trump into ending family separations — for now — is turning its focus to the cruelty of family detention, which could also keep kids in a prison-type setting for months, albeit with their parents. So it’s worth noting that the Obama administration was in court as recently as 2016 fighting for exactly that, the right to detain families indefinitely.

Yeah, but it’s different when The Lightworker does it because shut up.

SALENA ZITO: Populist Sherrod Brown could be the perfect Democrat for Trump Country. Want to make a difference? Spend less time on the Internet, and more time donating to and volunteering for campaigns.

BLUE WAVE? The GOP’s Rapid Retreat in the Midwest.

Josh Kraushaar:

Ohio is becoming a major warning sign for the GOP’s fortunes in the upcoming midterms—and beyond. The state backed Trump by a healthy 8-point margin in 2016, fueled by dramatic swings towards Republicans along the blue-collar eastern spine of the state. Trump’s winning margin in bellwether Ohio was nearly identical to his winning margin in ruby-red Texas. Given the promising political trends from Trump’s election, Republicans were hopeful that they could upset Brown and hold the governorship with an established figure like Attorney General Mike DeWine. Early polling showed the Senate race competitive and DeWine holding a healthy lead over the opposition.

But the political movement in Ohio is headed in the opposite direction, even with Trump’s recent uptick in popularity. Trump’s job approval in the state is at 43 percent with 54 percent disapproving, according to a new Quinnipiac survey. Nearly half of respondents to a Suffolk University poll of Ohio voters said their midterm vote would be a check on the president, compared to 28 percent saying their vote would be to support Trump’s agenda. And Brown now holds a commanding double-digit lead over Rep. Jim Renacci in the latest public polls, with Democrat Richard Cordray inching ahead of DeWine.

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

BRIE LARSON MAKES A SMALL CONTRIBUTION TO THE TRUMP 2020 CAMPAIGN: In a piece titled, “Brie Larson Promises ‘I Do Not Hate White Dudes,’ But Laments Lack of Inclusion Among Film Critics,” the future Captain Marvel, age 28, is quoted as saying:

“I do not need a 70-year-old white dude to tell me what didn’t work for him about ‘[A] Wrinkle in Time.’ It wasn’t made for him. I want to know what it meant to women of color, to biracial women, to teen women of color, to teens that are biracial.”

“And while this is very woke of Ms. Larson,” Sonny Bunch writes in response at the Washington Free Beacon, “I sense two issues with her theory of criticism. The first is that she doesn’t actually have to read old white men to find out A Wrinkle in Time is not particularly good; there are plenty of women and minorities who are happy to fill her in on that fact.” Bunch links to a screenshot full of female, black and Hispanic reviewers who didn’t give thumbs up to A Wrinkle in Time, adding: 

But there’s a bigger, more troubling issue with Larson’s line of thinking: the presumption that certain people are more prone to appreciating specific works of art because they fit into some broader category of gender or race or whatever. As Jessica Ritchey noted in Mel Magazine after an Internet gadfly suggested Vertigo is only considered a good movie because “lol white men amirite,” this is kind of gross:

One of the most exhausting aspects of our current cultural moment are the “ugh, only straight white men like this” takes that completely erase the voices of female critics, critics of color and fans who don’t fit neatly into binaries of who “should” like/dislike something. It’s part of a larger and much more pernicious problem — mistaking pop-culture consumption for moral worth as opposed to, you know, how we carry ourselves every day; how we treat other people; and how we support (or don’t) the causes that matter to us. Instead, we equate what someone watches on Netflix as the mark of a good/bad person.

Art is complicated; art is messy; art doesn’t fit into neat little boxes. Sure, A Wrinkle in Time got hammered. But Moonlight is a film about a gay black man that was nigh-on unanimously praised by the straight-white-male critical corps. Girls Trip is a film about black women that clocked in at 90 percent fresh. Black Panther? 97 percent approval rating. I’m not sure a more diverse array of voices would actually change that much when it comes to a bad film’s reception, at least in the extremely reductive sense of a film’s RT score.

In her response to Larson, Amy Alkon tweets, “Age-ist, sexist, racist thinking is now so chic. Guess what: I have read @TerryTeachout‘s insights for decades and appreciated the hell out of his insights. He’s a white dude. Whatever. It’s the insights I come for, not the skin color or age.”

Brendan O’Neill of Spiked wrote in his FaceBook page last year that, “It’s becoming so clear now why the war of words between SJWs and the new white nationalists is so intense. It isn’t because they have huge ideological differences — it’s because they have so much in common.”

And as Glenn noted last year:

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 [Ta-Nehisi] Coates, and I guess an okay one for [alt-right founder Richard] 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.

Larson’s Captain Marvel movie, distributed by the ever-woke Walt Disney Studios, opens in March of 2019. I wonder how many identity politics-themed bon mots Larson will be tossing to interviewers during its run up.

SO MUCH WINNING: GOP wants Trump in 2020, more popular than Obama, JFK, Reagan.

Republican voters are demanding that President Trump run for re-election in 2020, the latest evidence that support among his backers is stronger than it was for nearly every recent president.

According to the latest Economist/YouGov poll, 68 percent of Republicans want Trump to run for re-election.

And Democratic pollster John Zogby said this week that only former President George W. Bush was more popular than Trump among his base going into his first mid-term election, and he had just launched a war against America’s 9/11 attackers.

Weird.

DAVID HARSANYI: 3 Takeaways From The IG Report That Seriously Undermine The FBI’s Credibility.

Here’s one:

Former FBI director James Comey’s actions are roundly condemned in the report. The IG concludes he violated long-standing procedure and policy, and basically did whatever his capricious idealism told him to do. The more you read the IG report, the more obvious it becomes that Comey had absolutely no basis for clearing Hillary.

Page texted Strzok at one point about the possibility of using fewer agents to interview Clinton, since “she might be our next president,” and they don’t want to upset her. (Not that it really mattered, since the investigatory conclusions were reached before the end of the witness interviews). Comey functioned under the same rules.

In the eyes of liberals, Comey’s sin was sending a letter to Congress when new evidence in the server case emerged. But, by that point, Comey had no choice but to tell Congress, which he likely did unilaterally. If the Huma Abedin/Anthony Weiner laptop kerfuffle had been leaked, Comey would have looked like he was actively political.

Would Comey have done the same if he believed Trump had a chance to win? That’s a different story.

Madam President was supposed to return the favor and provide all the cover Comey needed, but she failed.

IF IT WEREN’T FOR DOUBLE STANDARDS… The peaceniks of the media suddenly deplore dialogue.

On Monday night, MSNBC assembled a panel of spiteful Trump critics to throw a wet blanket over the summit. The doves turned into hawks and spent much of the evening trying to peck at Trump. Most of the people on the panel are apologists for this or that communist thug—just go back and look at MSNBC’s fawning coverage of Fidel Castro’s death—but on Monday night they played hardliners. Rachel Maddow, furrowing her brow as usual, objected to Trump even holding a summit. She has finally found a communist leader she thinks America should ostracize. When Obama met with the Castro brothers, she burbled with enthusiasm. But she covered this moment of historic diplomacy like a funeral, shuddering at the thought of North Korea joining the “community” of nations.

MSNBC saw the summit as just one more occasion for obsessive anti-Trump fault-finding. The disgraced Brian Williams is still hanging around for some reason and looked like he wanted to give the summit the kind of newsy, anchormanish treatment of old, but he couldn’t pull it off in the company of jabbering Trump haters, for whom wild opining is all that counts. Plus, Williams is too reduced a figure for the cocksure Maddow to give any equal time. But Williams’s ego still asserts itself from time to time. On Monday night he fed it by asking one of the sham historians on the panel an arcane, look-at-what-I-know style question about the USS Pueblo, a ship the North Koreans captured in 1968.

The utterly contemptible Nicole Wallace, whose smugness and nastiness are beyond caricature, drove much of the shrill coverage. She was at her whiny, know-it-all worst, droning on about Trump’s lack of “preparation” and so forth. But Trump seemed perfectly at ease, getting a stiff Kim Jong Un to crack a smile. Trump had said it would only take “a minute” for him to sense if the relationship between the two countries could improve. By that measure, the summit appeared to start promisingly. Normally such friendly gestures between an American leader and an adversary would warm the hearts of liberals. Not this time. The MSNBC panel looked on coldly and muttered suspiciously about Trump’s body language.

That’s weak tea, and they know it.

THE COLLEGE FIX  REPORTS ON LAST WEEK’S 50-47 CONFIRMATION OF KEN MARCUS AS ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF EDUCATION FOR CIVIL RIGHTS:  In a saner world the Marcus nomination would have been uncontroversial, but … well … we may not be in the best of all possible worlds.

A conservative asked me recently why Trump bothered to nominate someone for this job at all.  Why not just leave it vacant?  I was a bit surprised at the question.  But let me explain:

The Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights heads the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the Department of Education.  OCR’s Fiscal Year 2017 budget was $108.5 million; it has 12 regional offices around the country and employs armies of lawyers and investigators.  This is the office that gave us the transgender locker room guidance, the sexual assault on campus guidance that denies due process to accuseds, the disparate impact in school discipline guidance, and much more.  Even many liberals understand that OCR’s actions during the Obama Administration were counterproductive.

Leaving the political positions there unfilled doesn’t mean that nothing will happen at OCR.  It means that the policy preferences of civil service employees will reign supreme.  When a left-of-center President is elected, this may not be a disaster for his supporters, since civil service employees tend to be left-of-center (and civil service employees in civil rights offices are often very left-of-center).  When a right-of-center President is elected, leaving positions unfilled means the election has been effectively nullified in a hugely important area of the law.

OCR has very few political appointees in charge of a huge number of civil service employees.  It’s hard enough to ensure that elections will have the consequences when all those positions are filled.  It is impossible when the Senate sits on nominations for extended periods of time.

BTW:  If you want to know why OCR has such a large budget, despite its tendency toward overreach the answer is this:  During the Obama Administration, Congressional Republicans were alerted many times to OCR’s overreach.  But, despite being in the majority and despite the urgings of many (including mine), they were too timid object to large increases in its budget.

BOORISH? BORING!  Robert De Niro Yells ‘F*** Trump’ at Tony Awards, Gets Standing Ovation.

Also, “Do you want more Trump? Because this is how you get more Trump.”

ROGER SIMON: Disneyland Pyongyang? Can Trump Co-Opt Kim?

This speaks to what Trump is attempting.  A creature of popular culture himself, he knows its allure and how to utilize it.  Whether he will succeed is anybody’s guess, but it is a different way of dealing in international diplomacy and more than worth trying. Perhaps he should bring along a bag of Big Macs and some fries to the negotiation.

Okay, maybe not, but the underpinnings of all this are not new.  Those of us old enough to remember recall the subversive nature of American culture during Soviet times,  clandestine jazz concerts in Moscow boîtes, hidden screenings of certain movies, samizdat publication of forbidden novels, etc. Everybody wanted it, even, apparently, General Secretary Andropov.

Read the whole thing. Maybe Trump should simply invite Kim Jong-un to visit the Safeway in Houston.

MORE TRUMP-HATING LOVEBIRDS: ALI WATKINS AND THE RISE OF CASTING-COUCH JOURNALISM. At the American Thinker, Monica Showalter writes:

Now we have Watkins and Wolfe, that latter of whom is charged with leaking classified documents to Watkins, because of, well, that delicious combination of love and Trump-hate.  Apparently, he was going to leak no matter what, but in one of his texts to Watkins, he said he wanted her, instead of her competitors, to get the scoops.

The press is focusing on the issue of the FBI seizure of her reporting records, and there are some valid concerns, given that this is a continuation of the pattern established by the Obama administration in seizing the records of reporters just doing the news.

But how the press reports the news is important, too.  There is troubling behavior by Watkins, who didn’t bother to tell her New York Times bosses about the FBI seizure of her records in February, which raises questions as to why she didn’t.  She didn’t want the utterly powerful First Amendment lawyers of the New York Times to help her against a vindictive big government, so she didn’t tell her bosses?  Or was she really more afraid of her bosses finding out how the sausage of her scoops was really made, that she had been literally too close to her sources and was using her “advantages”?  It’s odd behavior, because Watkins claims she told her bosses about the affair, and the Times says they knew, too.  McClatchy says it didn’t.  Meanwhile, Politico claims that it learned of the affair and steered her away from conflict-of-interest topics. Buzzfeed, apparently knew all about it and didn’t have a problem, according to a report in the Daily Caller.

As Andrew Klavan tweets, “Maybe we should remove the bikini competition from journalism.”

Michael Goodwin of the New York Post writes that Watkins “broke the biggest rule in journalism:”

On previous occasions, I’ve written about the blunt way legendary New York Times editor Abe Rosenthal dealt with a conflict of interest. The story bears repeating after the indictment of a top Senate official over his contacts with reporters, including one from the Times with whom he had a romantic relationship.

The Rosenthal standard on conflicts was shaped by a remarkably similar case decades ago. Soon after a woman who had covered politics in Philadelphia was hired by the Times, a story from Philly said she had a secret affair with a politician she covered and accepted expensive gifts from him.

Rosenthal asked the woman if the story was true and, when she replied yes, immediately told her to clean out her desk and said she would never again work for the paper.

Word of the incident spread quickly through the newsroom, and several female reporters complained to Rosenthal. They argued that the woman was treated unfairlyand, at which point, Abe raised his finger for silence and said something to this effect: “I don’t care if you f–k an elephant on your personal time, but then you can’t cover the circus for the paper.”

The meeting was over, case closed.

His point was not about private conduct. It was about the credibility of the paper. When the two conflict, the paper must come first.

Yes, but that was a very different New York Times than its current sophomoric incarnation. As Glenn has written, “One of Trump’s major accomplishments has been to reveal the lack of civic virtue and self-control across our elite institutions.”

DAVID HARSANYI: No, Donald Trump Hasn’t Been Especially Bad For ‘The Rule Of Law.’ “You don’t get to fabricate a new Constitution just because you don’t like the president.”

At National Review, Victor Davis Hanson has it right when he argues that “elites” often seem more concerned about the “mellifluous” tone of leaders rather than their abuse of power. “Obama defies the Constitution but sounds ‘presidential,’” he writes, “Trump follows it but sounds like a loudmouth from Queens.”

But while Obama’s agreeable tone had plenty to do with his lack of media scrutiny, many largely justified, and even cheered, his abuses because they furthered progressive causes. But not only did liberals often ignore “the rule of law” when it was ideologically convenient, they now want the president to play by a set of rules that doesn’t even exist.

Partisans always tend to conflate their own policy preferences with “rule of law” — or “democracy” or “patriotism.” Even taking that tendency into consideration, the pervasive claim that Trump undermines law typically amounts to little more than questions of how he comports himself. Rarely, if ever, does it have anything to do with the Constitution.

Except for perhaps the Fourth and Fifth amendments, for too many liberals the Constitution is to be ignored unless it can be used as a cudgel against the right.

RUN, JOE, RUN: Biden 2020 Still Not Off The Table.

Jazz Shaw:

Frankly, this looks more like a tease on the part of NBC than any serious movement by Biden towards pitching a 2020 run. But some of his close associates are quoted as saying serious options are under discussion. For one thing, there’s the age factor. If Biden ran and won he would be 78 when he took office. Trump will be 74 by then so this is about the only choice out there that allows him to be the “youth candidate.” In response, Biden’s aides have once again mentioned a pledge to only serve one term and put forward an early proposal as to who his VP would be so they could be groomed for 2024.

I’ve maintained for some time now that Biden would be a dangerous opponent if he managed to secure the nomination. His resume has everything you’d want to see for a presidential bid and his history, while full of gaffes and uncomfortable moments, is essentially free of any real scandal. And people just seem to genuinely like Joe Biden. Heck, I find the guy likable. His reputation as “crazy Uncle Joe” is more of an asset than a detriment.

But could he actually land the nomination given the current mood in the Democratic Party?

Whatever his chances, you get the feeling Biden might want to try, just to stick it to Team Obama — and whoever Obama’s preferred candidate turns out to be — for shoving him aside for Hillary in 2016.

DO YOU WANT MORE TRUMP? BECAUSE THIS IS HOW YOU GET MORE TRUMP: UCLA and the Atlantic think conservatives and populists have nothing to contribute to understanding America.

MATTHEW CONTINETTI: The World As It Wasn’t: Barack Obama’s revealing reaction to Donald Trump’s victory.

Apparently Obama had read a column—I have an idea of which one—about the role of identity in shaping peoples’ lives and political choices. “Maybe we pushed too far,” he mused. “Maybe people just want to fall back into their tribe.” No question his fellow passengers that day reassured him that no, no, he did everything he could to bend the arc of history a little more toward justice. It’s not your fault, Mr. President. You didn’t push too far.

All you did was troll Donald Trump into running for president in the first place, stand by while Ferguson and Baltimore rioted and burned, give Iran billions in exchange for empty promises, allow Russia to establish a beachhead in the Middle East for the first time in half a century, browbeat Israel at every opportunity, ram through Obamacare after Scott Brown’s election in Massachusetts, preside over the mass migration of children across the southern border in 2014, expand the DACA amnesty despite saying 22 times you lacked authority to do so, use the permanent structure of government to devastate the Appalachian economy, convince half of America that liberals were ready to take their guns (this wasn’t hard to do), have your Education Department issue orders that led to the campus-assault craze and the deterioration of classroom discipline and that, months before a presidential election, mandated trans-bathrooms in schools, have your Justice Department preside over a sloppy (I’m being charitable) investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server that included, at one point, your attorney general secretly meeting with the husband of the subject of the investigation on an airport tarmac, muscle out Joe Biden, who might have won, from the race, and hand the party back to the less-likable half of America’s most polarizing and corrupt political couple. Not to mention the eight years of lecturing. Oh, the lecturing. . . .

Last year, it was Merkel’s turn for electoral repudiation. Then Italians repudiated their elites last March. Unlike their American counterparts, however, the undemocratic liberals of Europe have sophisticated ways of bypassing popular sentiment. Obama must be envious. No third term for him, either literally or figuratively. Instead Hillary is out, Angela is alone, and Obama is left with his $65 million book deal, his “high-8-figure” Netflix deal, and, above all, his vanity intact.

Read the whole thing.

A TALE OF THREE MEDIA MOMENTS:

Épater la bourgeoisie or épater le (or les) bourgeois is a French phrase that became a rallying cry for the French Decadent poets of the late 19th century including Charles Baudelaire and Arthur Rimbaud. It means to shock the bourgeoisie.

Wikipedia.

● Shot:

But executives at ABC and its parent company, the Disney Corporation, never had any interest in being perceived as “the Trump-friendly network” and in fact probably resented that the success of the Roseanne revival was driven, at least in part, by the character’s support for Trump. If Roseanne Barr was rational — and she pretty obviously isn’t — she would be aware that the suits were looking for any excuse they could to cut ties. (By the way, it didn’t matter if the show was way less political than its reputation suggested; that was the big headline coming out of the show’s return.)

Barr may have felt she was irreplaceable, but she really wasn’t. Roseanne got higher ratings and attracted 10 to 18 million viewers, but also cost more than the average television show; John Goodman and Barr were each making reportedly $250,000 per episode. “Kantar Media has estimated the show’s initial run of nine episodes over eight nights netted $45 million in ad revenue.” That’s nice, but for Disney, it’s a drop in the bucket. A generic sitcom with no-name actors will get half the ratings and cost a quarter of the price.

Former President Barack Obama and Michelle are still revered and beloved in most corners of Hollywood; when Barr said one of their best friends, Valerie Jarrett, looks like a character from Planet of the Apes, just what did Barr think was going to happen? Did she think the Obamas and all of their allies were just going to shrug it off, let it pass without response? You might hate the Obamas but give them credit for standing up for one of their own — or for having cultivated a reputation to the point where they may not have even needed to pick up the phone. Everyone at ABC and Disney understood that there would likely be consequences if they tried to give Roseanne a pass.

You think the Disney corporation wants to take any grief for an extra $45 million in ad revenue? You think advertisers would be eager to go back to the show as Barr made herself radioactive?

Roseanne — and Roseanne — Was a Gamble from the Start, Jim Geraghty, NRO, May 30, 2018.

● Chaser:

This is how you understand corporate activism. This is how you understand media double standards. When conservatives cry foul and demand accountability for Samantha Bee or Joy Reid, they’re communicating with executives and colleagues who have known and liked “Samantha” and “Joy” for years.

When you see corporations launch into political activism, that’s not a market-tested response to the popular will. More often than not, it’s an expression of collective executive purpose, reinforced by the applause of spouses and friends — the people who matter most in any person’s life.

When you see a publication like The Atlantic jettison Kevin Williamson within days of a controversial revelation — and then watch its editor-in-chief declare that he’d “die” for writer Ta-Nehisi Coates, a man who’s written his share of heartless words — you’re watching a high-school-level morality play. We love our cliques. We have little patience for the out-group, and we can always reason backwards to justify our bias.

How Samantha Bee Survives, David French, NRO today.

● Hangover: To use the language of the Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg when he justified firing Williamson and keeping Coates on board, Joy Reid is very much “in the family,” too: “MSNBC breaks silence on star Joy Reid’s ‘hateful’ blog posts: ‘She has grown and evolved.’”

Just like her fellow fabulists Al Sharpton and Brian Williams. So much growth and evolving going on with the MSNBC starting lineup.

INTERESTING: North Korea sees US economic handouts as threat.

The North’s perceived thirst for U.S. economic aid has consistently been the message coming from Trump and his senior officials. All Kim needs to do, they suggest, is commit to denuclearization and American entrepreneurs will be ready to unleash their miracles on the country’s sad-sack economy.

“I truly believe North Korea has brilliant potential and will be a great economic and financial nation one day,” Trump tweeted Sunday. “Kim Jong Un agrees with me on this.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has laid Washington’s roadmap out in more detail.

“We can create conditions for real economic prosperity for the North Korean people that will rival that of the South,” he said earlier this month in a televised interview. “It won’t be U.S. taxpayers. It will be American knowhow, knowledge, entrepreneurs and risk-takers working alongside the North Korean people to create a robust economy for their people.”

Pompeo suggested Americans help to build out the North’s energy grid, develop its infrastructure and deliver the finest agricultural equipment and technology “so they can eat meat and have healthy lives.”

Kim has emphatically not agreed to any of that.

Under Trump’s “maximum pressure” policy, international sanctions on North Korea are stronger than ever before. Sanctions relief would open the door for more trade with China, South Korea and possibly Russia — partners North Korea trusts more than it trusts Washington — and potentially unlock access to global financial institutions.

The last thing Kim wants is to give up his nuclear weapons only to have his country overrun with American businessmen and entrepreneurs.

Even if he kept his nukes, Kim can’t afford to allow the political, economic, and (most importantly) cultural contamination hordes of Western businessmen would bring.

LIZ SHELD’S MORNING BRIEF: Election Results, ZTE, NorK Summit and Much, Much More. “The documents in question have to do with the origination of the investigation into Trump. When did it start? The story keeps changing. Early spring? July? What evidence was presented to the FISA court FOUR TIMES to continue surveillance on the campaign, even after Trump was elected and serving as president? It’s obvious the DOJ and the FBI don’t want you or me to know. Why?”

EVERGREEN HEADLINE: Some Georgia Democrats Have Some Really Weird Ideas.

Elsewhere in Georgia, Democrats will compete for the chance to take on incumbent Republican Jody Hice in the tenth district, a fairly Republican-leaning (R+15) mix of urban and rural communities between Atlanta and Augusta. There’s poorly funded Tabitha Johnson-Green, music teacher Chalis Montgomery, and professor Richard Winfield.

Some of the offerings in Winfield’s 1998 book The Just Family are . . . odd. For starters, he seems to think that “constitutional law should extend to family relations and specify the inalienable household duties of spouses, parents and children, leaving the contingent dimensions of these entitlements and obligations to the corrigible labors of positive legislation.” Get government out of our bedrooms . . . and into every other room in the house, apparently.

His perspective on the mentally disabled in the same book is horrifying: “In the case of irretrievably impaired children, parents retain personal responsibility for providing care, since no other individuals have any particular obligation to bear the burden of a caretaking without upbringing. Civil institutions, however, can relieve parents of their charge without violating any rights of the victim since the latter’s status as a potential person has been obliterated. A systematic treatment of such intervention must await the conception of the relation between family and civil society.”

He seems to want the government to get into the business of requiring a license for parenting.

“Although current practice tends to limit public scrutiny of parental qualifications to prospective adopters, the need is just as pressing with natural parents of children. Although requiring a license for parenting, as Blustein suggests, is one method for publicly certifying parental qualifications, the likelihood of reproduction by unlicensed parents makes this an unwieldly option. A more effective measure would involve making training in parenting a requirement of mandatory public education and attempting to ensure that all able individuals complete that schooling with success.”

(Is it just me, or does the term “unlicensed parents” send a chill down your spine”?)

Yes. Although some at NBC are intrigued by Winfield’s ideas and wish to subscribe to his newsletter.

MARK PENN: Stopping Robert Mueller to protect us all.

Flush with 16 prosecutors, including a former lawyer for the Clinton Foundation, and an undisclosed budget, the Mueller investigation has been a scorched-earth effort to investigate the entirety of the Trump campaign, Trump business dealings, the entire administration and now, if it was not Russia, maybe it’s some other country.

The president’s earlier legal team was naive in believing that, when Mueller found nothing, he would just end it. Instead, the less investigators found, the more determined and expansive they became. This president and his team now are on a better road to put appropriate limits on all this.

This process must now be stopped, preferably long before a vote in the Senate. Rather than a fair, limited and impartial investigation, the Mueller investigation became a partisan, open-ended inquisition that, by its precedent, is a threat to all those who ever want to participate in a national campaign or an administration again.

Penn, in case you’d forgotten, served as Bill Clinton’s pollster during his impeachment.

LATE-STAGE SOCIALISM: Blackouts, hyperinflation, hunger: Maduro faces reelection as Venezuela deteriorates.

Since Maduro took over from Hugo Chávez — his mentor, who died in 2013 — Venezuela’s crisis has steadily intensified as a result of lower oil prices, corruption and a socialist system plagued with mismanagement. But as Maduro has sought to further consolidate power in the past 12 months, the economy, public services, security and health care have all but collapsed.

Armed gangs and Colombian guerrilla groups are operating unchecked on Venezuela’s borders. Pro-government militias are terrorizing urban areas, while police stand accused of extrajudicial killings. Four of the 10 most dangerous cities in the world are now in Venezuela, according to a 2017 study by the Igarapé Institute, a Brazilian think tank that studies violence.

Hundreds if not thousands of members of the armed forces are deserting, in part because of meager rations, according to military analysts. Power and water grids and the transportation systems are breaking down. In just the first three months of the year, Venezuela suffered 7,778 blackouts.

Saddled with a soaring inflation rate that has put food out of reach, Venezuelans, weakened and thin, are getting extraordinarily sick. Doctors say cases of diseases once thought largely eradicated — malaria, diphtheria, measles and tuberculosis — are not only resurfacing but surging.

In a nation that lives off oil, production is collapsing as plants break down and the bankrupt government cannot fix equipment. Venezuela’s unpaid creditors are beginning to tighten the financial noose, going after the country’s offshore assets.

[The Venezuelan oil industry is on a cliff’s edge. Trump could tip it over.]

At the state oil giant, 25,000 workers — more than a quarter of its staff — quit last year in a mass exodus. Fleeing workers are joining a flood of humanity, at least 5,000 people a day, exiting the country. The outflow has left schools without teachers, hospitals without doctors and nurses, and utilities without electricians and engineers.

“A failed state is one that cannot meet the most basic functions of government,” said Jean Paul Leidenz, an economist at Ecoanalítica, a Caracas-based analytical firm. “Venezuela now certainly has that characteristic.”

Unexpectedly.

And without comment from Bernie Sanders, Sean Penn, Michael Moore, et al.

The media seem finally to be taking serious note, usually framed around the upcoming election. One suspects they want to see Maduro go because he’s making Leftism look so bad.

LAW: Mark Levin breaks down the FBI’s secret ‘Crossfire Hurricane’ ‘cabal’ against Trump.

As an aside, a friend on Facebook suggested that — since “crossfire hurricane” comes from the Rolling Stones’ “Jumping Jack Flash” — Trump’s signature rally-ending song from the Stones, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” was his way of trolling them, and letting them know that he knew. Delightful, if true.

UPDATE: “NYT “Operation Crossfire” piece reads more like “Gimme Shelter” for the DOJ/FBI officials involved.”

NEVER MIND.  I’D BET THEY WANT US TO HOLD THEIR BEERS WHILE THEY GET EVEN MORE EMBARRASSING:  Trump-Hating MSM Hacks Just Wrapped Up Their Most Embarrassing Week Yet.

DEM POLITICO WILLIE BROWN: Trump is more popular than Dems want to admit. “Like it or not, a significant number of Americans are actually happy these days. They are making money. They feel safe, and they agree with with the president’s protectionist trade policies, his call for more American jobs, even his immigration stance. The jobs growth reports, the North Korea summit and the steady economy are beating out the Stormy Daniels scandal and the Robert Mueller investigation in Middle America, hands down. So you are not going to win back the House by making it all about him. Rather than stoking the base by attacking Trump, Democrats need to come up with a platform that addresses the average voters’ hopes and concerns. Not just the needs of underdogs or whatever cause happens to be the media flavor of the week. Democrats need to look like the adults, not like another pack of screaming kids on the playground.”

Yep, that’s all they need to do. And so far, they can’t even do that.

JOHN HAWKINS: EXPLAINING WHY LIBERALS ARE SO DESPERATE TO FIND THINGS TO BE OFFENDED ABOUT. After discussing Starbucks’ management donning their hair shirts, the mass lefty freakout over Kanye West’s pro-Trump comments, and the mass lefty freakout over a prom dress, Hawkins writes:

These stories, all of which have happened recently, are just a drop in the bucket. Liberals are perpetually offended by just about everything. Why? Because liberals have decided that being offended trumps logic, fact and every other argument that anyone can make. If it were up to liberals, we would not have free speech because too many people say things that contradict liberal ideas. So, they may not be able to put you in jail for believing that you can’t change genders or that it’s not smart to send gay men who may be sexually interested in teenagers out into the woods with them overnight as scout masters, but they can use a variety of different tactics to silence you. Outrage is one of those tactics because again, according to liberals, the second someone is outraged, the debate is over and they’ve won (Of course that only applies to liberals. If conservatives are offended by something, that doesn’t count.)

Of course, liberals love to use whatever they’re outraged about today as an excuse for government action or to gin up their base, but at the most fundamental level, liberal outrage is all about shutting up everyone who doesn’t agree with liberals. That’s the ultimate form of censorship. When you’re so scared that you might offend a liberal that you censor yourself. When you don’t wear the prom dress you want to wear. When you don’t make the joke. You don’t say anything that might make a liberal angry because you don’t want to deal with formal charges or 5,000 outraged liberals on Twitter that feel justified in calling you the worst names you’ve ever heard of because their widdle feelings are hurt. You can give in to their bullying if you like, but down that road lies a new liberal vision of totalitarianism where the bad guys win not because they deserve to or because they have guns pointed at your head, but because people are too afraid to speak the truth. For your sake, for the sake of your kids and for the sake of your country, don’t let liberal outrage determine what you can and cannot say.

In a 2014 post by lefty academic Freddie deBoer, which sadly is not on the Wayback Machine but quoted here, deBoer described a method of argument he dubbed “We Are Already Decided:”

This is the form of argument, and of comedy, that takes as its presumption that all good and decent people are already agreed on the issue in question. In fact, We Are All Already Decided presumes that the offense is not just in thinking the wrong thing you think but in not realizing that We Are All Already Decided that the thing you think is deeply ridiculous. And the embedded argument, such as it is, is not on the merits of whatever issue people are disagreeing about, but on the assumed social costs of being wrong about an issue on which We Are All Already Decided. Which is great, provided everybody you need to convince cares about being part of your little koffee klatsch. If not, well….

All of this, frankly, is politically ruinous. I meet and interact with a lot of young lefties who are just stunning rhetorically weak; they feel all of their politics very intensely but can’t articulate them to anyone who doesn’t share the same vocabulary, the same set of cultural and social signifiers that are used to demonstrate you’re one of the “right sort of people.” These kids are often great, they’re smart and passionate, I agree with them on most things, but they have no ability at all to express themselves to those who are not already in their tribe. They say terms like “privilege” or “mansplain” or “tone policing” and expect the conversation to somehow just stop, that if you say the magic words, you have won that round and the world is supposed to roll over to what you want.

Does the left want more Trump? Blocking arguments and debate, deplatforming prominent conservatives and calling Trump’s everyday supporters “deplorables,” and getting the vapors over minutia such as prom dresses, is the perfect way to ensure more Trump.

ELECTION: Trump-Endorsed Ohio Senate Candidate Jim Renacci Blows Out Four Opponents.

And “Tolbert” commented on a previous post:

Ohio Governor Primary
Democrat vote tally – 560,258
Republican vote tally – 720,000

Perhaps that blue wave really isn’t happening.

One more time: If you want to make a difference in November, spend less time online and more volunteering for a local campaign.

HILLARY CLINTON’S LACK OF CHARM:

A curious dualism emerges in New York Times reporter Amy Chozick’s book Chasing Hillary: Ten Years, Two Presidential Campaigns, and One Intact Glass Ceiling. As I noted yesterday, Chozick makes it clear that she was rooting for Clinton. But she also thinks Clinton hates her.

Chozick shouldn’t take things so personally: Clinton hates everyone. You can’t relate to people you despise. Her inability to master the basics of being a politician inspired one of the great underreported witticisms of the 2016 campaign, when Donald Trump was asked about his comparatively loose debate preparations. “I don’t need to rehearse being human,” he said.

As a college sophomore, Clinton once described herself as a “misanthrope.” Her inability to hide that made her an amazingly poor candidate, one who would have had difficulty capturing a seat on any city council on her own. Dealing with the populace standing between her and power was never anything but a chore. . . .

That inability to schmooze was a noxious gas, the flammable hydrogen that doomed Clinton’s two Hindenburg-like presidential campaigns. Bill Clinton once told Chozick that Hillary had told him back at Yale Law School, “Nobody will ever vote for me for anything.” Her husband tried mightily to help, but charm can’t be lent.

Glimpses of Clinton caught on the fly confirm that Clinton despised campaigning. In Iowa in 2015, as the press is hurling fangirl queries at her (“Secretary! Can you believe you’re back in Iowa!”), Hilary pretends to flip a steak, unable to hide her revulsion. “The image screamed all at once, how long do I have to act like I enjoy this [sh**] and Why the [f***] am I back in this state?” writes Chozick. When Chozick shared Clinton’s amazingly light August schedule with an editor at the Times, the latter responded, “Does she even want to be president?” Clinton spent much of that month holed up with her rich friends in the Hamptons.

Clinton “suffered from a chronic inability to crack a simple joke,” Chozick writes. Even at special off-the-record drinks events specifically designed by her staff to allow Clinton to let her guard down and banter with reporters the way Barack Obama did, Clinton excoriates the journos for having big egos and little brains.

Well, she’s not wrong about that, but it’s poor salesmanship.

IS TRUMP A GREAT DEREGULATOR? Jeff Jacoby says yes and no:

[W]hile Trump deserves credit for eliminating red tape, it will take a far more aggressive effort, and significant help from Congress, to effect any lasting drainage of the regulatory swamp. In 2017, even this most regulation-averse administration signed off on 3,281 new federal rules, and another 1,834 were in the pipeline at year’s end. If Trump truly intends to be the Deregulator-in-Chief, he has a lot more work to do.

In other words: Faster, please.

BLUE WAVE? The problem with the Dem wave theory.

John Feehery:

Democrats want to make this race all about President Trump. They want to repeal his tax cuts, as House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) promised in a press conference, and replace it with more government spending.

But a battle over tax policy is not what is really animating the Democratic base. What really gets the progressive left is the chance to impeach the president and possibly remove him from office.

They don’t want to be a check on the president and his power. Instead, they want to nullify the election and install somebody more to their liking.

My own experience at using impeachment as a device to drive voters to the polls is that it doesn’t work.

In other words, the Democrats have to manage to not sound crazy…

THE MISANTHROPIC MRS. CLINTON:

You might expect Clinton to at least be sensitive to sexism. Instead she was a source of it. “She told aides she knew women reporters would be harder on her. We’d be jealous and catty and more spiteful than men. We’d be impervious to her flirting.” (Side note: Chozick actually thinks flirting with Hillary Clinton is something men want to do.) A running joke had it that the unofficial motto of Clinton supporters was, “I’m With Her . . . I Guess.” This, even though Chozick and other female reporters were sympathetic to Hillary based on gender solidarity: “I still felt some kind of feminine bond with Hillary then,” she writes of her early months on the beat, and later describes her coverage as “neutral to positive, with plenty of wet kisses thrown in.”

Clinton’s poor political instincts infected the entire campaign. One aide ripped a sign saying “I [heart] Hillary” out of a little girl’s hands in Phoenix because “Brooklyn [the site of Clinton’s headquarters] thought it best that Everydays hold professionally produced signs that displayed the message du jour rather than something made with love and some finger paint.”

As for larger strategic moves, Chozick notes dryly of a March excursion, “That was Hillary’s last trip to Wisconsin.” Team Clinton in its waning days was spending money in Utah, Indiana, Missouri, Arizona, and even Texas while the Upper Midwest was begging for more resources. Bill Clinton was meanwhile going “red in the face” warning his wife’s team “that Trump had a shrewd understanding . . . of the white working class,” Chozick says. Clinton’s campaign manager, Robby Mook, responded by spoofing Bill behind his back, as one would Grandpa Simpson: “And let me tell you another thing about the white working class,” he’d say, mockingly.

Savaging the guy who actually won multiple elections as both governor and president is just a minor example of how out of touch the campaign was. Read the whole thing.

THIS SEEMS LIKE AN EXCELLENT IDEA: The Trump Administration Wants to Take the Mystery Out of How Much Hospitals Charge Patients.

“We envision a system that rewards value over volume and where patients reap the benefits through more choices and better health outcomes,” wrote CMS in its release. “While hospitals are already required under guidelines developed by CMS to either make publicly available a list of their standard charges, or their policies for allowing the public to view a list of those charges upon request, CMS is updating its guidelines to specifically require that hospitals post this information.” In English: The listing of these prices vis-a-vis Medicare would become mandatory and, the hope is, eventually spill over to other parts of the health industry.

Faster, please.

VICTOR DAVIS HANSON: Revolution And Worse To Come: When legal bloodhounds and baying critics fail to take out Trump, what’s next? The Resistance wants Trump’s head — on the chopping block. “Indeed, the aim of the so-called Resistance to Donald J. Trump is ending Trump’s presidency by any means necessary before the 2020 election. Or, barring that, it seeks to so delegitimize him that he becomes presidentially impotent. It has been only 16 months since Trump took office and, in the spirit of revolutionary fervor, almost everything has been tried to derail him. Now we are entering uncharted territory — at a time when otherwise the country is improving and the legal exposure of Trump’s opponents increases daily.”

Related: Politically Motivated Violence Is on the Rise.

There’s no evidence that the NRA’s Chris Cox actually is profiting off of murders and suicides; if he was, law enforcement would be pressing charges. What the protesters mean is that they are really angry about gun violence and they are angry that Cox disagrees with their desire to see private ownership of firearms banned. There is no real denial that throwing fake blood on the house of Cox and his family doesn’t constitute a crime of vandalism; the defense is “the tactic is warranted under the circumstances” — that Cox deserves to be the victim of a crime because he disagrees with the protesters.

Some people gave my friend Kurt Schlichter some grief about his speculative fiction novels that imagined the United States splitting into two countries, a traditional United States and a breakaway “People’s Republic of North America” that attempts to enact the progressive idealist dream and encounters quite a few problems along the way. Some contend that Kurt is rooting for this scenario or attempting to encourage some sort of secessionist fantasy. I don’t think that’s a fair reading of a man who says his military service in the Balkans shaped his view of this issue, but I suppose some might think that depicting a formally divided America might inadvertently encourage people to think more about a formally divided America.

But to those who feel so horrified at the thought of the United States no longer being so united, it feels fair to ask . . . just what road do you think we’re on? Did we see a lot of soul-searching after the attempted mass shooting on the Republican baseball team, or the attempt to run Representative David Kustoff off the road, or the assault on Congressman Rand Paul? Was there anything like the aftermath of the Gabby Giffords shooting, when President Obama spoke of the need to debate our differences “in a way that heals, not a way that wounds”?

If we no longer even go through the motions of calling for a debate that doesn’t demonize and dehumanize our opponents — “Deplorables!” “Soulless!” — just how wild and unthinkable does more political violence seem?

Maybe some people like the idea.

BLUE WAVE? Senate Dems Continue to Lead Republicans in Fundraising.

Democrats are defending 25 seats total – including 10 in states President Trump won in 2016 — to just nine for Republicans. In all 10 of those Trump-state races, the incumbent outraised every Republican challenger. (Three Republicans surpassed Democrats after making sizable loans to their campaigns.) Still, every Democratic incumbent ended March with more cash on hand than their GOP challengers.

And even in the states where Republicans are defending seats, Democrats put up strong fundraising quarters that either matched or led their GOP counterparts. Nevada Rep. Jacky Rosen doubled Sen. Dean Heller’s first-quarter fundraising, taking in $2.6 million compared to just $1.1 million for the incumbent, though Heller still had more money in the bank.

“We can look across the map and see that Republican donors are not as engaged as Democratic donors are,” said Brad Todd, a GOP consultant advising several candidates. “It’s going to take more work to get the money we need to win the election because their donors are red hot and ours are waiting and seeing.”

As Glenn has written here on occasion: If you want to make a difference, spend less time online and more time volunteering for a local campaign.

REVISITING 2016 MEDIA BIAS: With the elite media increasingly suggesting that they were too harsh on Clinton and not hostile enough to Trump in 2016, it’s perhaps time to revisit just how biased elite media outlets were in 2016. Consider, for example, this NPR interview with the executive editor of the New York Times, Dean Baquet. Baquet explains why the newspaper decided to use the word “lie” when referring to what seems like ordinary campaign obfuscation: “I think the moment for me was the birther story, where he has repeated for years his belief that President Obama was not born in the United States.” This, for some reason, justifies using the word “lie” more generally with regard to Trump and his campaign, but not with regard to any false statements by Clinton: “I don’t think Hillary Clinton, to be honest, has crossed the line the way Donald Trump did with the birther issue.” Thus, in NewYorkTimesworld Clinton merely obfuscates and exaggerates, while Trump lies. You can’t make this stuff up.

My guess is that Clinton lost far more votes because they resented the elites were shoving Clinton down their throats than because of the “Russian interference” the elites now want to blame for Clinton’s defeat. The response, apparently, is for the elite media to double-down on its strategy of overtly favoring whomever runs against Trump, which, I suspect, is how we get more Trump in 2020.

DAVID FRENCH: No, Conservatives Shouldn’t Try to Punish Radical Professors for Offensive Speech. I agree. Mock them, shame them, and thank them for creating more Trump voters. As Jim Treacher says, the left wants to shut up the right; the right wants the left to just keep talking . . . .

IT’S CLEAR NOW: COLIN KAEPERNICK WILL NOT BE SIGNED.

I knew that last year’s player/owner solidarity in response to the President’s remarks, with vivid images of owners kneeling and locking arms with players, would never last. The owners’ personal and business interests—and the braying they heard from fans, sponsors and networks—would soon lead to a push for players to “stick to sports,” evoking a tension that still lingers upon the mention of Kaepernick’s name. The Seahawks episode crystallizes what teams are thinking, in so many words: We will only employ you to be a football player if we know we are not employing you to be an activist.

Does Kaepernick actually want to be signed? Unless he delivers Johnny Unitas-level talent to whoever he plays for, actually suiting up and riding the pine each week as a backup, or a return to his mediocre performance during the 49ers’ 2-14 season in 2016 would be anti-climactic. Kaepernick has become the athletic equivalent of Michael Moore’s deception in his first movie, Roger & Me. Then-General Motors CEO Roger Smith had met with Moore — reportedly twice — during the shooting of his agitpropumentary, but Moore wouldn’t have a movie if he actually included that footage. Similarly, Kaepernick needs to remain permanently off the gridiron, to keep his uber-woke SJW pose alive.

If NFL owners are understandably reluctant to sign up for the Kaepernick sideline circus, it’s curious that the left, which loves nothing more these days than to deplatform and blacklist conservatives, seems rather antsy when their new rules are applied to one of their own. Back in 2014, Randall Munroe, who draws the popular online cartoon “xkcd,” created this image, thus wiping out the morality behind 50 years of Hollywood blacklist movies:

As Kurt Schlichter likes to say, the left are going to hate living up to their own rules.

UPDATE (FROM GLENN): I don’t quite agree with this. Theres protection under the First Amendment, which applies against government, and then there’s the broader societal idea of “free speech,” which comes into play regardless of legalities. It used to be considered uncool to go after someone’s job for their opinions, and uncouth for an employer to give in to such demands. I wish we lived in that world today, but I agree that we don’t.

ANALYSIS: TRUE. The Photo of Protesters at Starbucks Is a Sad but Accurate Representation of Our Times.

We can all agree that racism is bad, and shouldn’t be allowed. The social justice warriors claim this too, but their solution isn’t understanding and togetherness. It’s finding a culprit, generating outrage about said culprit, and finding a way to make said culprit a pariah. That culprit can play any part they need it to as well. Corporations, the rich, white people, men, Christians, police, Trump, Pence, guns, NRA, Republicans, or even women if you’re Hillary Clinton.

It doesn’t matter if you fit any or all of these qualifiers. To the social justice mob, we are all sinners. They demand you repent and apologize for your transgressions against their religion’s version of morality, but unlike Christ, the true definer of morality in our western culture, you are not forgiven after your penance. You’re still a pariah, only now you’re a useful one. An example of how the mob is all-powerful and ready to conquer you at any moment.

It doesn’t matter if you did it or not. You still better fall on your knees and swear obedience.

Read the whole thing. Ironically, as Mollie Hemmingway noted in 2015, Starbucks’ then-CEO (now executive chairman) Howard Schultz wanted Zack and the rest of his baristas to be the ones preaching the ol’ time social justice gospel to the heathens:

The whole campaign reminded me so much of this story from 2004, when an American Airlines pilot got on the loudspeaker and asked passengers who were Christian to raise their hands. Then he suggested to the ones who raised their hands that they spend the remainder of the flight trying to convert those who hadn’t. The passengers were so confused by the request that they wondered if the pilot was a terrorist.

Listen, I love few things more than sharing the good news that Jesus has triumphed over sin, death and Satan with others and I hate racism. But there’s a reason why the American Airlines pilot and the Starbucks approaches freak people out! Yes, part of it is that there’s a time and place to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ and discuss difficult social problems. But also, these things are highly ineffective when done outside of a personal relationship.

I don’t know if Zack was working for Starbucks in 2015, but he (including whatever is left of his hearing) is definitely paying penance for the sins of his boss.

Local Black Lives Matter activist Asa Khalif, left, stands inside a Starbucks, Sunday April 15, 2018, demanding the firing of the manager who called police resulting the arrest of two black men on Thursday. The arrests were captured on video that quickly gained traction on social media. (AP photo and caption.)

ED MORRISSEY: Senate GOP Getting Ready For Another Big Rule Change?

It’s not the rule change Donald Trump wants, but it might be more effective. Having allowed Senate Democrats to slow and obstruct confirmation of presidential nominees for more than a year, Senate Republicans came out of a caucus meeting hinting that changes are afoot:

Senate Republicans, frustrated by delaying tactics imposed by Democrats on President Trump’s judicial and executive branch nominees, are on the verge of altering the Senate rules in order to speed up the process.

GOP lawmakers told the Washington Examiner Tuesday that momentum is building for a change in the Senate rules that would shorten the time frame allowed for lawmakers to debate each nominee.

One proposal by Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., would reinstate a temporary rules change made by Democrats in 2013 that reduced debate time from 30 hours to eight hours for most executive branch nominations and from 30 hours to two hours for lower judicial branch nominations.

Republicans have talked about these rule changes for months. Mitch McConnell was reportedly ready to act last fall, only to back away after Chuck Schumer accused him of coming to the debate with “unclean hands.” That has to qualify as one of the least self-reflective statements ever, of course, and McConnell’s retreat did nothing to incentivize Democrats to end their stalling routines.

If there’s even a chance that the GOP Senate majority goes away in January, they ought to be doing everything they can to speed things up until then.

JOEL KOTKIN: If the tech oligarchs can’t beat the bad press, they’ll just buy it.

What’s an oligarch to do? The putative tech masters of the universe now face unprecedented criticism from both left and right. The reasons extend from wanton privacy invasions of the people once described by Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg as “dumb f***ks” to President Trump’s typically hyperbolic assaults on Amazon’s success at tax avoidance.

The public so far still does not disdain the tech oligarchs as they do Wall Street or energy firm but they are clearly threatened, both politically and in their wallets. Their once seemingly unstoppable hold of the capital markets also has started to slip somewhat as investors begin to worry about a potential decline in social media as well as technical failures undermining the value of companies like Uber, Tesla and Snapchat.

Not that the oligarchs will change their ways without coercion. Mark Zuckerberg, amid the uproar, still seems determined to block privacy protections in California or elsewhere. Facebook’s arrogance has even incited tension between the tech overlords, with Apple’s Tim Cook assaulting Mark Zuckerberg for privacy violations. The fact that Cook did this in Beijing, world capital of advanced surveillance, makes the public spanking ever more bizarre.

We need some antitrust enforcement.

BLUE WAVE? Paul Ryan-Linked PAC Sets Up Shop in Toss-Up Washington District Held by Republicans for Decades.

Washington’s 8th congressional district, which is located in the suburbs of Seattle and boasts a population of nearly 700,000 residents, is now up for grabs after Rep. Dave Reichert (R.) said he will not seek reelection. Reichert, who announced his retirement shortly after turning 67, has represented the district since 2004.

Reichert found a way to comfortably win the district even as it has swung to Democratic presidential candidates. The seven-term congressman defeated his opponent, Democrat Tony Ventrella, by nearly 21 points during the 2016 elections despite Hillary Clinton garnering 3 percent more of the vote than President Donald Trump. George H.W. Bush was the most recent Republican presidential candidate to carry the district, in 1988.

Republicans, however, have held the seat on the congressional level since the district’s creation in 1980.

Democrats only need to flip 24 seats to win back the House of Representatives and now sense an opportunity to topple Republicans at the congressional level in the 8th for the first time. Eleven Democrats entered the primary—eight remain—and the Nancy Pelosi-affiliated House Majority PAC has already purchased airtime in the district.

As Glenn has been saying for a while now: If you want to make a difference, spend less time on the internet and more time volunteering for a local campaign.

ADVANTAGE: VDH.

Sadly, I think Kevin Williamson will soon find that National Review was far more tolerant of his controversial views than will be true at The Atlantic. As I noted in the essay in question concerning progressives’ situational regulation, so too the Left also embraces situational free speech. Indeed, well before Williamson had even written his inaugural column, Jeffrey Goldberg, the editor of The Atlantic, had defended his hiring of Williamson on grounds that he preferred “all things being equal, to give people second chances and the opportunity to change,” and he further seemed delighted about Williamson’s promise to cease tweeting given that it would be interpreted as “a positive development and a sign of growth.”

As Derek Hunter of the Daily Caller tweets, “I want [Victor Davis Hanson] to pick my next lottery numbers. This was posted just a few hours ago.”

UPDATE: “Kevin Williamson’s firing is how you got Trump, as well as the alt-right’s near-mainstreaming. Here’s why,” Ben Shapiro writes. Read the whole thing.

MEGAN MCARDLE: What Caused The 1968 Riots? A Lack Of Respect.

Fifty years after the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was gunned down in Memphis, the scars of the riots that followed are only now fully healed in Washington. In other cities, they still aren’t. And we still don’t know exactly why they happened — or for that matter why the 1960s as a whole saw more rioting than the decades before or since.

What we can say with some confidence is that we can’t simply explain them as a function of unemployment and poverty.

Marxism as an ideology was crushed when the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, but as a method of analysis it still thrives. Modern thought has a tendency toward economic reductionism, viewing every historic problem as a mechanical working-out of underlying economic processes, and every solution in those terms. . . .

What did cause the riots, then? Well, rage and despair and a lot of hard-to-quantify socio-political factors. But taking them all in total, I’d sum them all up with one word: respect. Whatever our economic conditions, we also want — we need — to command a certain minimal amount of admiration from our fellow citizens.

The great victories of the civil rights movement changed many things. Schools were integrated; funding disparities eased. But that didn’t obliterate the racism that still followed black people around stores, eyed them suspiciously on the street, dogged them in job interviews and caused the police to stop them for “walking while black.”

In the late 1960s, as the legal barriers fell, the gulf between legal status and social reality may have chafed more than usual. This is a hard theory to prove, and it may not be the whole explanation. But it’s probably more useful than yet another exegesis of the unemployment rate and housing conditions. After all, most people, for most of history, have lived in objectively wretched conditions without rioting. . . .

There are vast differences, of course, between the race riots of the 1960s and the 2016 election. But when we explain these events, the tendency toward economic reductionism looks very similar, as does its implausibility.

Many places that voted for Trump never had many factories to lose to China or Mexico; many factory towns turned to Trump only after decades of decline. What most consistently motivates the Trump supporters I’ve met is not jobs or racism but anger at a culturally powerful elite that veers between ignoring them and disrespecting every facet of their lives.

But no riots. Yet.

BLUE WAVE? Expanding map creates tough choices for GOP.

The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) must decide how much focus should be placed on competitive and Democratic-leaning districts that Hillary Clinton carried — or if the party should put more energy into protecting solid GOP seats that could be in danger if a wave materializes this fall.

“Not every seat is created equal. … Ultimately, you have to decide what is the best path to holding the majority,” said Matt Mackowiak, a GOP strategist based in Texas. “You’re dealing with a chess board that has 30 or 40 pieces on it, and you’re trying to figure out how to get from here to there.”

“It’s a judgment call both sides have to make,” he added. “And it’s challenging.”

Republicans are bracing for tough midterm elections, with anxiety running high over whether anti-Trump sentiment could hurt the GOP at the polls.

The GOP election strategy has been further scrambled by Democrat Conor Lamb’s upset victory in a Pennsylvania special election last month, which suggested the GOP could even be vulnerable in areas of the country where Trump was strong in 2016.

Historically, the president’s party loses about 32 seats on average during the midterms. Democrats will win back the majority if they flip a net 23 seats.

As Glenn has written here several times: If you want to make a difference, spend less time online and more time volunteering for a local candidate.

NOBODY EVER ACTUALLY CARED ABOUT THEM; THEY WERE A USEFUL TOOL ONCE, AND NOW THEY’RE USELESS: Arab Leaders Abandon the Palestinians: Facing threats from Iran and Turkey, they want peace—and to strangle Hamas. “But the American protection on which Arabs rely cannot be taken for granted, as President Trump’s apparent determination to withdraw U.S. forces from Syria in the near term demonstrates. Under these circumstances, Israel’s unmatched access to Washington makes Jerusalem even more important to Arab calculations. Perhaps only Israel can keep the U.S. engaged in the region.”

BLOWBACK: Men Like Trump More After Stormy Daniels Accusations, Poll Shows.

From the comments: “We have a President who has sex with porn stars and wants a space army. I love this guy.”

NIALL FERGUSON IN THE BOSTON GLOBE: Enough With The Hating On White Men.

“Masculinity, not ideology, drives extremist groups,” was another recent headline that caught my eye, this time in The Washington Post.

Got it.

I have had to listen to a variation on this theme rather too much in recent weeks. Last month I organized a small conference of historians who I knew shared my interest in trying to apply historical knowledge to contemporary policy problems. Five of the people I invited to give papers were women, but none was able to attend. I should have tried harder to find other female speakers, no doubt. But my failure to do so elicited a disproportionately vitriolic response.

Under a headline that included the words “Too white and too male,” The New York Times published photographs of all the speakers, as if to shame them for having participated. Around a dozen academics — male as well as female — took to social media to call the conference a “StanfordSausageFest.” . . .

I was raised to believe in the equal rights of all people, regardless of sex, race, creed, or any other difference. That the human past was characterized by discrimination of many kinds is not news to me. But does it really constitute progress if the proponents of diversity resort to the behavior that was previously the preserve of sexists and racists?

Publishing the names and mugshots of conference speakers is the kind of thing anti-Semites once did to condemn the “over-representation” of Jewish people in academia. Terms such as “SausageFest” belong not in civil academic discourse but on urinal walls.

What we see here is the sexism of the anti-sexists; the racism of the anti-racists. In this “Through the Looking Glass” world, diversity means ideological homogeneity. “The whitesplaining of history is over,” declared another heated article by Satia last week. Hideous Newspeak terms such as “whitesplaining” and “mansplaining” are symptoms of the degeneration of the humanities in the modern university. Never mind the facts and reason, so the argument runs, all we need to know — if we don’t like what we hear — are the sex and race of the author.

Well, that’s how racists think, and academia is a cesspit of racism. Plus:

The process of indoctrination starts early. My six-year-old son stunned his parents the other day when we asked what he had been studying at school. He replied that they had been finding out about the life of Martin Luther King Jr. “What did you learn?” I asked. “That most white people are bad,” he replied.

This is America in 2018.

You want more Trump? This is how you get more Trump.

I DIDN’T EXPECT THIS: Hartford Courant Editorial: Elizabeth Esty Must Resign.

Elizabeth Esty will likely spend the next several days defending her failure to take strong steps to protect a woman who’d been threatened and bullied — by a member of her own staff — by blaming the system and talking about the good she’s done in Congress.

She shouldn’t. She should resign.

After learning about the allegations against her chief of staff, Ms. Esty, the Democratic U.S. Representative for Connecticut’s 5th District, should have ensured that her former staffer was safe and that the man who’d threatened her was held accountable. Instead, she circled the wagons, called the lawyers and kept things quiet.

That’s appalling.

Well, it’s pretty typical actually, and nothing compared to Bill Clinton, whom I’m pretty sure the Courant never called on to resign. But the #MeToo torpedo that the Dems put in the water for Trump keeps circling back around on them. I’m cynical enough to think that they want her to resign more out of fear of losing a Democratic seat than anything else. Though there is a hypocrisy/payback angle:

Ms. Esty herself was among those who called for the resignation of fellow U.S. Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., who stepped down late last year after allegations that he had sexually harassed female staff members.

Here’s what Ms. Esty had to say about Mr. Conyers at the time:

“I do think that reports that have come to light in the last 48 hours are of an extremely serious nature,” she said. “They involve people he had direct authority over, staff in his congressional office who are entirely reliant upon him for their livelihood. … I think it’s entirely unacceptable and I think he should resign.”

Ms. Esty’s responses so far have been disappointing. She has blamed the system and hasn’t taken nearly enough responsibility for her own actions.

But any prior year this wouldn’t be resignation-fodder. And, I predict, it won’t be next year, either. But this is 2018 and the Democrats, as part of a deliberate strategy of weaponizing female anger, have made such things a hanging offense, at least until it becomes inconvenient to the narrative. In the meantime, there’s collateral damage.

Related: Former Elizabeth Esty Aide: Congress Enables Domestic Violence and Harassment.

Full disclosure: I went to law school with Elizabeth Esty and quite liked her then. I don’t think we’ve spoken since, though, and I haven’t really followed her career, though I knew she was in Congress.

THE TRUTH ABOUT CARS: Buick Must Die.

“When The Donald calls aspiring apprentices into the boardroom to determine which one to fire, I’m always hoping for a miracle. I want him to can ALL of them.” Thus spake Robert Farago nearly thirteen years ago when he started the General Motors Death Watch. Just fifty-one months later, General Motors filed for Chapter 11. Our august founder got his wish. Or most of it, anyway. The weak-sister brands were sold off — although, looking at the stunning resale value of Hummer H2s on the West Coast, one wonders if perhaps that nameplate should have been retained; it would certainly play well in an era where $100,000 is the new normal for a loaded full-size SUV. (One also has to admire Farago’s Muad’Dib-style prescience regarding Donald Trump’s relevance in the future, but that’s slightly besides the point.)

Robert was wrong about one thing: while General Motors did die in the the legal sense, most of what normies consider “GM” is still very much present and accounted for. I recently sat down with a senior “New GM” person who told me, “We used the bankruptcy to keep the good people and make some much-needed changes,” by which he meant “cutting the dead wood.” I think that much of the current product line reflects that rejuvenation. The Corvette is the world’s finest sporting automobile, at least on the value-for-money scale. The Equinox has been a bright spot for more than half a decade now. The Denali line is a license to print money, and justifiably so. I’m no longer much of a skeptic when it comes to the General. Last year, I did something I’d never done before: I spent nearly 60,000 of my favorite dollars on a brand new GM product. While there are certainly criticisms to be made regarding America’s largest-by-a-whisker automaker, I believe it is now safe to say that the company is on solid footing everywhere from 755-horsepower supercars to electric-dreams city commuters.

Except, of course, for Buick. That’s got to go, and nobody’s going to miss it.

When I first started noticing cars a kid in the ’70s, Buick still held some small cachet, but that was a long time ago.

HOLLY SCHEER: Hillary Clinton Apparently Still Has No Clue Why She Lost.

Clinton compared herself to the mother of the country, trying to enforce something wholesome that the children aren’t fond of. She said, “She ran the presidential campaign like a mother who was telling the kids to eat spinach because it was good for health while the other guy was asking them to go eat fast food and have ice-cream,” India Today reported. Clinton may not have realized it, but this also sheds a lot of light on how she sees the average American. She views them as short sighted, more interested in junk than substance, and in her words, they’re “backwards.”

Clinton reduced huge populations that voted for and against her to caricatures, by describing them as: “optimistic, diverse, dynamic, moving forward, and his whole campaign ‘Make America Great Again’ was looking backwards. You know, you didn’t like black people getting rights, you don’t like women, you know, getting jobs, you don’t want it, you know, see that Indian-American succeeding more than you are. Whatever your problem is, I’m going to solve it.”

She traveled overseas to talk poorly about Americans, instead of building up the people that she campaigned to represent. Rural America is dealing with a host of serious issues, including poverty, joblessness, an opioid epidemic, a staggering suicide rate, and she doesn’t touch on any of these problems or offer possibly solutions.

When Trump speaks openly of “shithole” countries, he’s talking about Third World countries which could accurately be described that way. When Clinton implies that there are shithole countries, she’s referring to the vast interior of America.

EVERGREEN HEADLINE: Legacy Media Even Weirder Than We Thought.

Plus an explanation for Trump referring to NBC’s Chuck Todd as “sleepy-eyed son of a bitch:”

In an interview with a combative Chuck Todd, Leo Gerard, President of the United Steelworks, praised the effect of President Trump’s newly proclaimed tariffs would have on the U.S. steel market. Gerard praised Trump for making it clear he is going to “tackle trade deficits” which he called a “wealth transfer” because they are “taking good jobs away.”

Gerard said Trump was able to “see the steelworker agenda” and “he’s going to have a major impact on our members” with what he has done.

NBC’s Chuck Todd argued that while there are some countries where there is trade deficits but there is a “national security component” because “we’re exporting values” like democracy to make a financial ally. Gerard said he doesn’t understand his point because these countries aren’t dumping unemployment on the economy when they dump steel in the U.S.

* * * * * * * *

Let me break this Chuck Todd thing down for you people. Chuck was not so nice and, frankly, was more than a little condescending to Leo Gerard of the Steelworkers. Steelworkers get angry… Trump calls Chuck Todd a “sleepy-eyed son of a bitch” and… steelworkers laugh. Get it?

What does NBC have against American steelworkers? The Washington Free Beacon spotted MSNBC’s Ali Velshi smugly patronizing a steelworker on Friday: “You don’t want your son being a steel worker I assume.

YOUTUBE: The Great Radicalizer.

At one point during the 2016 presidential election campaign, I watched a bunch of videos of Donald Trump rallies on YouTube. I was writing an article about his appeal to his voter base and wanted to confirm a few quotations.

Soon I noticed something peculiar. YouTube started to recommend and “autoplay” videos for me that featured white supremacist rants, Holocaust denials and other disturbing content.

Since I was not in the habit of watching extreme right-wing fare on YouTube, I was curious whether this was an exclusively right-wing phenomenon. So I created another YouTube account and started watching videos of Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, letting YouTube’s recommender algorithm take me wherever it would.

Before long, I was being directed to videos of a leftish conspiratorial cast, including arguments about the existence of secret government agencies and allegations that the United States government was behind the attacks of Sept. 11. As with the Trump videos, YouTube was recommending content that was more and more extreme than the mainstream political fare I had started with.

Intrigued, I experimented with nonpolitical topics. The same basic pattern emerged. Videos about vegetarianism led to videos about veganism. Videos about jogging led to videos about running ultramarathons. . . . The Wall Street Journal conducted an investigation of YouTube content with the help of Mr. Chaslot. It found that YouTube often “fed far-right or far-left videos to users who watched relatively mainstream news sources,” and that such extremist tendencies were evident with a wide variety of material. If you searched for information on the flu vaccine, you were recommended anti-vaccination conspiracy videos.

Related: Social Media As Social Disease.

AGREE? WITH TRUMP? HOW IS THIS EVEN POSSIBLE? Trump Wants More Asylums — and Some Psychiatrists Agree. “In the wake of the horrific school shootings in Parkland, Fla., President Trump has called repeatedly for building or reopening mental institutions. Strangely, perhaps, he has echoed an argument made by some experts who study the mental health care system.”

Strangely.

LARRY O’CONNOR: CBS really wants Oprah to run against Trump.

The full court press is on over at CBS to try and convince Oprah Winfrey to run for president in 2020.

Winfrey recently told People Magazine that it would take a message from the Almighty to get her to run. “’God, if you think I’m supposed to run, you gotta tell me, and it has to be so clear that not even I can miss it.’ And I haven’t gotten that yet,” she said.

So it appears CBS is determined to inspire some sort of divine intervention to get Oprah to to throw in her hat.

Earlier this week Oprah appeared on CBS’ Late Show with Stephen Colbert and an animated “God” showed up, complete with Oprah for President swag.

More details about CBS’s desperation at the link, plus:

But here’s the really strange thing about this pressure from CBS to get Oprah to run: Winfrey is actually their employee. She is, in fact, a journalist for CBS News.

So, apparently, CBS News is completely comfortable dispensing with even the faintest hint of journalistic integrity for their high-priced, 60 Minutes Special Correspondent.

In all fairness, it’s been a long time since CBS News or 60 Minutes dropped any pretense of objectivity.

HMM: China test hypersonic space vehicle as Xi Jinping continues push to rival Trump military.

According to a bombshell report issued at the opening of China’s annual meeting of Parliament, the country’s 2018 defence budget will be 1.11trillion yuan (£127billion).

Military chiefs in China reportedly want to make the country’s armed forces the most powerful in the world and have set a target of 8.1 per cent growth.

At present, China is the second biggest military spender behind the US.

Sam Roggeveen, a visiting fellow at the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre of the Australian National University in Canberra, said: “The pace and scale of this build-up is really dramatic.

Those are just the official defense spending figures. China is known to do much of its military spending off the books. These figures are a few years old, but they still pertain in trying to get a better idea of how much Beijing really spends:

Not everyone agrees with Beijing’s numbers. Critics have complained for years that China consistently under-reports its defense budget by not including spending that other countries would disclose.

In 2012, Beijing announced a military budget of $106 billion. But the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute pegged the real number at $159 billion. The Pentagon estimated it was anywhere from $135 and $215 billion.

But there’s also this WSJ item from Tuesday: China Spends More on Domestic Security as Xi’s Powers Grow.

Beijing’s budgets for internal and external security have grown faster than the economy as a whole for several years, but domestic security spending has grown far faster — to where it exceeds the national defense budget by roughly 20%.

So who does Xi think his government really needs protection from? That’s a question I put to Bill Whittle and Scott Ott on a recent Right Angle segment.