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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.

THE OUTRAGE MACHINES DON’T WANT IT DONE “BEST,” THEY WANT IT DONE THEIR WAY: Washington Examiner: Government is not best done in a state of outrage.

Some of the worst policy changes in modern history have happened when lawmakers have let emotions and anecdotes dominate debate rather than facts and figures — actual evidence. Consider the short-lived “assault weapons” ban of 1994, nearly any law named after a deceased child, or President Trump enacting steel and aluminum tariffs. . . .

The murder of school children is a terrible calamity, but schools overall are incredibly safe, both in terms of mass shootings and of everyday crime. The experiences of students traumatized at a mass shooting need to be heard, but neither their ordeal nor their fear and anger turn them into policy experts. Passion should not be allowed to trump reason. Anecdotes should not displace facts. The perspectives of victims are important and should be heard, but students deserve sympathy, not carte blanche to dictate the trampling on fellow citizens’ rights.

There’s an instructive parallel in the judicial system. We entrust decisions on sentencing criminals to neutral judges, not to victims, their families, or their outraged neighbors. It’s the difference between a court and a lynch mob. . . .

James Madison, who drafted the Constitution, said the six-year term of senators was intended to ensure that the Senate proceeded “with more coolness, with more system, and with more wisdom, than the popular branch [the House of Representatives].” While the news cycle changes daily, the issues addressed by our Congress should not.

The outrage machines don’t mind lynch mobs, either, so long as the right people are being lynched.

PAST PERFORMANCE IS NO GUARANTEE OF FUTURE RESULTS:

Shot: Meghan McCain, Meredith Vieira to join health conference in Vatican City:

“The View” co-host Meghan McCain and former co-host Meredith Vieira are heading to Vatican City to honor their loved ones, and their fight against disease, at an international conference that will focus on hope for better and more effective health care around the world.

Leading scientists, patients, families, religious leaders, government representatives and more from across the globe will join The Cura Foundation’s Unite to Cure event to discuss the latest innovations and research that will prevent and treat disease.

At the conference, which will be held from April 26 to 28, Pope Francis is expected to receive participants.

“I’m honored to be part of this event,” McCain said on “The View” today.

Vieira attended the conference once before with her husband, Richard Cohen, saying, “It’s going to be an amazing experience … it gave Richard tremendous hope.”

—ABC News, yesterday.

Chaser: View’s Behar, Hostin Mock Pence as ‘Dangerous’ Christian With ‘Mental Illness:’

[Sunny] Hostin, who identifies as Catholic, called Pence’s Christianity “dangerous:”

When you have a Mike Pence who now puts this religious veneer on things and who calls people values voters, I think we’re this a dangerous situation. Look I’m Catholic. I’m a faithful person, but I don’t know that I want my vice president, um — speaking in tongues and having Jesus speak to him.

While Joy Behar decided to mock Pence instead, suggesting he had a “mental illness.”

“Like I said before, it’s one thing to talk to Jesus. It’s another thing when Jesus talks to you,” she warned.

Hostin agreed as the audience clapped. “Exactly. That’s different!” she gushed.

“That’s called mental illness, if I’m not correct. Hearing voices,” Behar quipped.

Guest host Sherri Shepherd added to the mockery, saying, “What concerns me is how long is the conversation with Jesus…anything that’s too much is concerning.”

NewsBusters, February 13.

Want more Trump? Trashing a huge chunk of your viewers as mentally ill for being practicing Christians will get you more Trump.

 

DON’T GET COCKY, KID: Politico: Trump Is Winning.

Donald Trump is on track to win re-election to the presidency of the United States.

Yes, despite Russiagate, despite shitholegate and despite whatever gate he blunders through next. Despite approval ratings that would make Nixon weep. Despite his mind-numbing political misjudgments—defending accused pedophiles, for example—and the endless, unnecessary daily drama. Trump is winning. It is actually happening, people. And if there are those who want to stop it—and there are of course millions—they need to know what they are up against. It’s a lot more than they overconfidently think. . . .

Second, consider Trump’s record as president. He actually has something to run on. He’s cut taxes. He’s rolled back regulations. He’s put ISIS on its heels. The economy and the stock market are humming along again, despite recent turmoil. Any other Republican incumbent running on that record of relative peace and prosperity—just as Eisenhower and Reagan did—would be in pretty good shape for re-election. Trump, as loathed as he is, might not cruise to reelection on an electoral landslide like those predecessors. But if jobs continue to be created and the economy continues to hum, whether he deserves the credit or not, enough voters might just hold their nose again and vote for him.

Maybe Trump isn’t all that loathed. After all, he’s ahead of where Obama was at the same point in his term, and nobody in the press was calling Obama “loathed.”

Related: One major difference between 2010 and 2018: Trump’s signature tax bill is much more popular than Obama’s signature health bill.

IF DEMOCRATS AND THE PRESS — BUT I REPEAT MYSELF — WANT TO MAKE 2018 ABOUT GUN CONTROL, WELL, OKAY. As Expected, Trump’s Visit To A Florida Hospital Was Criticized By The Media.

Related: Fake News: Liberals Try To Claim Florida Shooter Was “Trained By The NRA.” “What was the NRA doing hanging around at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School? Well… it turns out they weren’t. Those headlines are a bit more overblown than the way the Associated Press describes the situation, which is at least a bit more honest. The ‘rifle team’ in question was actually a marksmanship program. And it wasn’t run by the NRA, but by the Army Junior ROTC. And the “rifles” were air-powered pellet guns. They did, however, receive a grant to operate the program and purchase equipment.”

No one cares when the press tries its “have you no decency?” schtick, because the press so clearly has none of its own.

Also related: Why Didn’t Democrats Pass Gun Control When They Controlled Congress In Obama’s First Term? Because they didn’t want it to be Obama’s only term.

ANDREW KLAVAN: The Left Is Reaping the Whirlwind of the Culture They Made.

I am a First Amendment purist and don’t want to see expression censored in any way. And I don’t argue that there’s a straight line between any specific cultural creation and bad acts. But surely, a culture in which those in authority approve of and argue for things like gangsta rap and GTA — and indeed for the use of violence to silence speech that offends them — well, such a culture becomes a machine for transforming madness into murder.

It reminds me of some wisdom from another two sheriffs, the fictional sheriffs from the Coen Brothers movie of Cormac McCarthy’s novel No Country for Old Men discussing the mindless violence that has taken over society.

“Once you stop hearing ‘sir’ and ‘ma’am’ the rest is soon to follow,” says one.
“It’s the tide, the dismal tide,” says the other. “It’s not the one thing.”

The left wants to defend gangstas and “transgressive” art and antifa thugs — but when the shooting starts, they blame the guns.

The left wants to get rid of feminine modesty and masculine protectiveness and social restrictions on sex — but when the abuse and rape and harassment rise to the surface, they start whining about toxic manhood. Perhaps they should have listened to the Catholic apologist G.K. Chesterton, who wrote about the difference between reforming society and deforming it — a passage that was neatly paraphrased by John F. Kennedy: “Don’t ever take a fence down until you know the reason it was put up.”

At a more amusing level, they can’t figure out why they can’t get traction against Trump with scandals that would have worked three decades ago. Whatever could have happened in the interim?

THINGS YOU RUN ACROSS DOING RESEARCH: I’m working on a few essays (more about that soon) and wanted to pull together a list of US efforts to influence or “meddle” (the non-legal legal word du jour) in foreign elections. Of course, anyone with a sense of 20th Century history ought to know this, but obviously our intellectual betters discussing the Mueller indictments seem to conveniently forget this episode of American history.

That said, I thought I would share this little nugget from 2016 — long before Trump allegedly “colluded” with anyone but a porn star: “In unearthed 2006 audio, Clinton appears to suggest rigging the Palestine election.” According to The Week, the Most Qualified Candidate Ever said, regarding Palestinian elections:

“And if we were going to push for an election,” Clinton went on, “then we should have made sure that we did something to determine who was going to win.”

I suppose it always depends on whose Gore is being oxed.

PAUL BOLYARD: A few thoughts on Mitt Romney running for Senate from his perch in Utah.

If you want Trump’s agenda to succeed (and that’s what it’s all about, right?) the GOP is going to need that Republican vote from Utah. We simply cannot afford another debacle like we saw in Alabama. Mitt is still wildly popular in Utah, and he’ll have the money and skillz to beat whatever upstart Roy Moore type the Bannonites throw at him. And then he’ll beat whatever sacrificial scrub the Democrats send to the plate.

A protracted mini-war along the way doesn’t help our side and will just give the Democrat-Media Complex more ammo to use against us in future wars. Think long and hard before you put that lighter to your hair.

Read the whole thing.

JOHN HINDERAKER: Why Susan Rice Wrote An Email To Herself. “Susan Rice is far from the brightest bulb on the tree, but she was well aware that by concealing facts ostensibly relating to national security from her counterpart in the new administration–General Michael Flynn–she was, at a minimum, violating longstanding civic norms. If she actually lied to Flynn, she could have been accused of much worse. So Rice wanted to be able to retrieve her email, if she found herself in a sticky situation, and tell the world that she hid relevant facts about Russia from the new administration on Barack Obama’s orders.”

Plus: “What were the secrets that Obama wanted to keep from the new administration? We can easily surmise that the fact that the Steele memo was paid for by the Democratic Party; that the FBI had to some degree collaborated with Steele; that the Clinton campaign had fed some of the fake news in the dossier to Steele; and that Comey’s FBI had used Steele’s fabrications as the basis for FISA warrants to spy on the Trump campaign were among the facts that Obama and his minions didn’t want Michael Flynn and Donald Trump to know. Susan Rice, we can infer, was told to keep these secrets, and if anyone ever asked why she had failed to disclose them to Michael Flynn and others on Trump’s team, or even lied to those people, she would have the defense that President Obama ordered her to do it. There may be more to it than this. The redacted paragraph likely contains more information about what it was that Rice wasn’t supposed to tell the Trump team. One of these days, we will learn what was blacked out.”

THIS MUST BE MORE OF THAT “COLLUSION” I’VE BEEN HEARING ABOUT: U.S. Strikes Killed Scores of Russia Fighters in Syria, Sources Say.. “The 200-plus deaths dwarf official Russian toll in the war.”

Nominally, of course, they’re “mercenaries,” and the Russian response is this: “No one wants to start a world war over a volunteer or a mercenary who wasn’t sent by the state and was hit by Americans.” I suspect, though, that a message was sent, and it wasn’t Trump saying he’ll have “more flexibility” after the election. . .

ABOUT THAT BLUE WAVE… The collapse of Democrats’ popularity on the much-ballyhooed generic ballot foreshadows tough midterm elections for them in November.

New polling shows that Democrats have lost their recent 15-point lead over Republicans, dropping to only a two-point lead for a critical election they had hoped to paint as a referendum on President Trump and writ large, Republicans.

However, historically speaking, the news is more daunting for Democrats. Compared to where they stood in the 2014 midterm elections, Democrats are actually faring worse at this point than they were then.

In the 2014 midterms, Democrats were ahead on the generic ballot by an impressive eight points most of the year. However their lead eventually vanished, and Republicans ultimately trounced them at the ballot box, retook the U.S. Senate and won a big majority of seats in the House of Representatives.

By comparison, Democrats’ current poll numbers also rate worse than their generic ballot ranking in the 2010 midterms.

If you want to make a difference, as Glenn as been urging lately, step away from the keyboard and volunteer for a local campaign.

THAT WAS A BIPARTISAN PROJECT, ACCOMPLISHED WITH HELP FROM THE IRS: Republicans Repeal The Tea Party.

The sad truth is, there’s not a big enough constituency for reducing spending. It’s possible that the bond market will induce some responsibility — we may be seeing the first signs of that — but not enough voters, and even fewer politicians, care. Even if the GOP had 60 seats in the Senate, it’s very doubtful that would translate into 60 votes to cut spending significantly.

As I’ve written before, I’d like to see a 5% across the board cut on spending, followed by a multiyear hard freeze. But the chances of that are zero. And even if Trump is turning out to be more conservative (and more libertarian!) than I expected, he never pretended to be a big spending cutter. And even if he were, there would be bipartisan resistance in Congress.

I don’t have a solution. Any ideas out there?

Related: The Tea Party Is Dead. Long Live The Tea Party.

In 2010 at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference, I witnessed and heard some of these debates first hand. Everyone was walking around with pocket Constitutions, reading and trying to understand the relevance of that document. It doesn’t matter if the arguments weren’t on point or legally “correct.” What mattered was that ordinary people had taken a keen interest in preserving the spirit of the Constitution and the essence of our founding principles that are “self-evident” in that document at a time it has been under relentless attack.

In a word, it was awesome.

This side of the tea parties was never widely reported on by the media, for very good reasons. The left hates getting into a discussion about what the Constitution says because they can’t defend most of their ideas. Despite the fact that the founders wrote the constitution so that basically anyone who could read could understand it, the left keeps insisting the Constitution says things that it doesn’t.

Any clever lawyer and willing judge can twist the meaning of the Constitution so that it says anything they want it to say to accomplish any end they wish to accomplish. So the budget deal may have killed fiscal sanity in Washington and — perhaps — the tea party’s political power to some extent. And the GOP may have co-opted most of the larger tea party groups to do the party’s bidding.

What remains of the tea party is, to my mind, the best part. The desire of ordinary people to govern themselves, to take personal responsibility for their own lives, and to try to do something about the denigration and increasing irrelevance of the Constitution.

Don’t give up the ship.

SPENDING: House holds 5:30 am vote to end brief shutdown, sends spending bill to Trump.

The House early Friday morning passed a bipartisan bill to keep the government open, several hours into a partial government closure and despite division within both parties over the legislation.

Dozens of Republicans and Democrats voted against the bill, which provides government funding until March 23 and sets a marker for federal spending levels for the next two years. The legislation also suspends the nation’s borrowing limit for one year, and provides nearly $90 billion in disaster relief for states and territories devastated by recent wildfires and hurricanes.

Despite the opposition from Republicans opposed to new spending, and Democrats who wanted to include an immigration deal that doesn’t exist, the bipartisan support supplied enough votes to ensure House passage.

Most Democrats added some drama by not voting until the very end, but more than 70 of them ultimately joined the GOP majority to support the bill. In the final vote, 67 Republicans rejected the bill, which passed 240-186.

I’m not happy.

YES. NEXT QUESTION? Are Democrats destroying their own credibility?

Michael Barone:

On what issues are Democrats taking such risks?

(1) Their undisguised faith that Donald Trump and his campaign colluded with Vladimir Putin’s Russia to steal the 2016 election. Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t think this happened or that it has or will come anywhere close to being proven.

(2) The Republican tax bill was a “scam” that was going to take money away from those with modest incomes. A look at the tax rate schedules in the Republicans’ bill should have told Democrats that this argument wasn’t sustainable, and perhaps they made it in the hope—which didn’t seem too far-fetched at the time—that enough Republicans would waver, the bill would never pass and their characterization, with predictable help from the mainstream media, would stick. But the bill passed, modest and low-income people are getting raises and bonuses, and just about everyone will get a bigger paycheck later this month.

(3) Their claims that the Republicans were responsible for shutting the government down last month over DACA. Democrats knew that DACA was widely popular, but overestimated its importance to voters. It turns out they didn’t want the government shut down to help even deserving illegal immigrants. It’s hard for the party of more government to lose an argument over who caused a government shutdown, but they managed to do it.

More at the link.

I understand that the party is currently in almost total thrall to its far-left progressive wing, but the last time they took such big risks with their trust and credibility it wasn’t until after they’d won back Congress.

COLLUSION: FBI lovers’ latest text messages: Obama ‘wants to know everything.’

Newly revealed text messages between FBI paramours Peter Strzok and Lisa Page include an exchange about preparing talking points for then-FBI Director James Comey to give to President Obama, who wanted “to know everything we’re doing.”

The message, from Page to Strzok, was among thousands of texts between the lovers reviewed by Fox News. The pair both worked at one point for Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Page wrote to Strzok on Sept. 2, 2016, about prepping Comey because “potus wants to know everything we’re doing.” According to a newly released Senate report, this text raises questions about Obama’s personal involvement in the Clinton email investigation.

This whole thing stinks to high heaven. Plus:

Among the newly disclosed texts, Strzok also calls Virginians who voted against then-FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe’s wife for a state Senate seat “ignorant hillbillys.” (sic)

That text came from Strzok to Page on Nov. 4, 2015, the day after Jill McCabe lost a hotly contested Virginia state Senate election. Strzok said of the result, “Disappointing, but look at the district map. Loudon is being gentrified, but it’s still largely ignorant hillbillys. Good for her for running, but curious if she’s energized or never again.”

Your tax dollars at work.

UPDATE: Full report here.

SALENA ZITO: There aren’t two Americas. There are hundreds. Can they get along?

We are parochial by birth; we love our neighborhoods and towns, our sports teams and our schools, as well as churches, county fairs, local music, and parish festivals.

No matter what the subject is, we brag ours is better than yours, maybe put on our team jersey’s and crow about it, but for the most part it is all done in good nature. We find a way to come together on some cultural touchtone and we continue on with our lives.

“It is a shame that politics cannot adopt that same robust competitive nature, that doesn’t end with a conniption,” said one building manager, after watching the State of the Union address last week.

“You know, disagree on some things, but show a little respect when it comes to other things,” he said.

He was adamant in not wanting to give his real name. “Just use ‘Derek,'” he says shaking his head, “because I see what happens on social media if you express a thought.”

“Yeah, no thank you,” he quipped. He is part of the fabric of the country who doesn’t live and die by tribal politics.

Derek, who is African-American, said he was disappointed last week in the members of Congress when they sat on their hands during the State of the Union address on several fronts. “And what was going on there when the president noted the dive in black unemployment, and they all sat on their hands and rolled their eyes?”

“Man, I don’t get Washington. I didn’t vote for Trump, but I accepted him as the president and honestly, under his policies, I have more money in paycheck,” he said.

Read the whole thing.

THAT’S WHY THEY IGNORED IT: Eddie Scarry: Trump won on immigration at the State of the Union, even as the media ignored it.

Anyone hear about the two pairs of black parents who were invited to the State of the Union by President Trump in order to show the country how tragic our immigration system is?

I didn’t think so. Their appearance — and it was heartbreaking to see them grieve while Trump told the story of how their daughters were killed by illegal immigrant gang members — was almost entirely dismissed by the press. . . .

The two had been walking together when several members of MS-13, a gang largely made up of illegal immigrants from the slums of Central America, jumped them while wielding machetes and baseball bats. The girls, who had grown up friends since childhood, were slashed, brutalized, and bludgeoned to death, reportedly over an altercation that started on social media.

The machete is MS-13’s “weapon of choice” and is “used to mutilate and dismember victims during attacks that sometimes are recorded,” according to the Long Island newspaper Newsday.

Suffolk County Police Commissioner Tim Sini described the gruesome attacks as “depraved” and said the perpetrators would have had to have had “no regard for human life.”

So ravaged is Suffolk County by MS-13 that it received half a million dollars in a federal grant last October just to combat the gang violence.

But after Trump’s address, NBC “Meet the Press” moderator Chuck Todd immediately complained that he “didn’t lead with a conciliatory tone on immigration.” (Presumably Trump’s guests, Evelyn Rodriguez, Freddy Cuevas, Elizabeth Alvarado, and Robert Mickens, were more upset that the illegals who killed their daughters “didn’t lead with a conciliatory tone” when they took machetes to their bodies.)

The New York Times editorial board said Trump had “injected only poison and confusion” into the immigration debate.

Flush with originality, the Washington Post also said Trump “injected more ethno-nationalist venom into a debate he already has done much to poison” and that he “chose in the most inflammatory way possible to associate immigrants with a horrific crime committed by a vicious gang.”

As Scarry notes, an actual look at the speech doesn’t reveal any actual poison. Plus:

It’s only worth noting that Cuevas, Mickens and their parents are black because of the media’s unrelenting accusation that any immigration policy outside of “complete open borders” is racist.

Trump spent the better part of the last month being called a racist because he suggested limiting immigration from “shithole countries.” Here at his State of the Union were four black parents who saw their children taken away because of illegal immigrant criminals.

That interests virtually no one in the national media?

Of course not, because that would be a win for Trump. And he always wins when the debate is over immigration.

That’s why they want to shut the debate down with bogus claims of racism.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: VIDEO: Law prof: says Department of Justice a ‘sh*thole.’

More than a dozen of students and professors blasted the Illinois College of Law last week, labeling it a “sh*thole” for hosting an event that featured a Department of Justice official.

According to the school’s calendar, the college of law sponsored last week’s lecture by Deputy Solicitor General Malcolm Stewart, who was invited by the university to discuss various topics relating to the justice system.

Students for Economic Empowerment UIUC organized the protest, using it as a platform to speak out against president Trump, despite the fact that Stewart has held his role since 2008.

The video footage obtained by Campus Reform depicts a visibly frustrated law professor, Francis Boyle, berating the Department of Justice and leading the protesters in an anti-Trump chant outside of the law building, with The Daily Illini confirming that it in fact Boyle who is featured in the video.

“And I say, it is the College of Law here, the ‘Trump College of Law,’ that brought out this high-level Trump henchman,” the professor said into the megaphone. “They are the s—-holes too. And I want everyone in there to hear exactly what we think about them.”

We keep hearing about how Trump has lowered the tone of public debate in America. I guess this is what people are talking about.

LIZ SHELD’S MORNING BRIEF: Rosenstein Wanted Trump to Help Him ‘Fight’ Congressional Oversight and Much, Much More.

A QUESTION FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES: Does the word “Caucasity” — used in the NYT today — express the idea of whiteness as a problem? Here’s the passage in question: “The audience begins to clap as well as its overwhelming Caucasity will allow.”

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

BYRON YORK: On immigration, Trump goes for it all.

Back in 2015, before the presidential primaries began, a voter asked candidate Donald Trump if he believed compromise should be part of politics.

“Compromise is not a bad word to me,” Trump answered. “But if you are going to compromise, ask for about three times more than you want. You understand? So when you compromise, you get what you want.”

Now, President Trump is engaged in delicate negotiations with Congress over immigration. And he has come up with a deal. On one hand, he’s making a big offer to Democrats: legal status for 1.8 million people in the country illegally, which is more than the 800,000 or so covered by former President Barack Obama’s old Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA — plus a path to citizenship for all of them.

In return, Trump is making a big ask: A fully-funded border wall, strong limits on chain migration, and an end to the visa lottery.

The questions for Democrats: Is Trump asking for three times more than he wants? Can his position be negotiated down? Or is this the deal they should take?

This stuff can be a real art.

DEMOCRATS: TRUMP IS SO DIVISIVE! Trump:

The United States is a compassionate nation. We are proud that we do more than any other country to help the needy, the struggling, and the underprivileged all over the world. But as President of the United States, my highest loyalty, my greatest compassion, and my constant concern is for America’s children, America’s struggling workers, and America’s forgotten communities. I want our youth to grow up to achieve great things. I want our poor to have their chance to rise.

So tonight, I am extending an open hand to work with members of both parties — Democrats and Republicans — to protect our citizens of every background, color, religion, and creed. My duty, and the sacred duty of every elected official in this chamber, is to defend Americans — to protect their safety, their families, their communities, and their right to the American Dream. Because Americans are dreamers too.

Related:

2018 GRAMMYS HAD THE LOWEST RATINGS EVER AS AWARD SHOW TURNS POLITICAL:

According to the Hollywood Reporter, the CBS telecast was down a staggering 21% from 2017 — potentially an all time low.

This mirrors the slide in NFL ratings that several surveys have attributed to players’ decisions to kneel during games.

“Virtue signaling is tricky business, especially for an entertainment world trying to be holier-than-thou,” Nick Gillespie writes at Reason, wondering why “Grammys Have Time for Hillary Clinton, But Not Lorde, To Perform?

Let’s assume that the Grammys, like the Olympics, the Oscars, the NFL, and other 20th-century televised institutions, no longer command attention and interest the way they used to. It’s less because of politicization and more simply because audiences have more and more freedom to go elsewhere. (In the case of the Olympics, the loss of audience is precisely because of de-politicization: the end of the Cold War robbed every archery and ski jump contest of specifically political interest.) The more important question for me is whether consumers of art, culture, sports, and entertainment are more or less able to access the fare we want. To borrow the pretzel logic of multiple Grammy-winning band Steely Dan, any major dude with half a heart will tell you, my friend, any minor world that breaks apart falls together again. Music has never been more accessible and varied than it is today. While the “rock star” archetype may well be dead as a meaningful cultural touchstone, there’s more stuff to listen to in any possible genre you can imagine. If the Grammys and boring old fare like it must die for entertainment to live, well, that’s the sort of grave I’m happy to dance on.

* * * * * * * *

Which isn’t to say that the Grammys didn’t go out of its way to bother the majority of Americans who didn’t vote for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election. For a show that didn’t make time for popular (and political!) artist Lorde to perform despite her being up for the prestigious “album of the year” award, the Grammys still found time to run an explicitly anti–Donald Trump sketch featuring Hillary Clinton reading from Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury. Because when you’ve got a roomful of musical talent, what you really want to see is a failed politician who spent a good amount of her time in power railing against pop culture.

As with most of broadcast television, the Grammys have been heading slowly south in the ratings for ages. Their recent hyper-politicization aligns perfectly with Robert Tracinski’s theory regarding the hard left bias of the network late night TV hosts – it’s the best way for the Grammys, and the network that hosts it, to keep what’s left of a inexorably shrinking audience.

ELIZABETH PRICE FOLEY: The immigration fight isn’t really about the Dreamers — it’s all politics. “President Trump’s immigration proposal offers a pathway to citizenship for approximately 1.8 million people. . . . Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, allowed approximately 800,000 individuals to stay, without any path to citizenship, for renewable three-year periods under his Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) executive order. If the Trump proposal is a hateful middle finger to Hispanics, presumably Obama’s much narrower order was a violent assault. Yet the far left’s leaders, including Congressman Gutierrez, praised DACA as an ‘antidote for do-nothingism’ and now thinks that Trump’s more robust proposal — replete with a path to citizenship — is a surefire sign of xenophobia. Such comments imply that the far left’s goal is not finding a workable solution for Dreamers but instead, keeping their base ginned up with hatred toward President Trump. By reflexively crying racism in response to reasonable policy proposals — which would achieve far more than any Democratic president or Congress has ever achieved — the political left undermines its credibility and suggests its goal is sowing racial division, not solving problems.”

Trump has made them a very generous offer, and — as I suspect he expected — they’re rejecting it and screaming racism. I think that leaves him right where he wants to be.

ABOUT THAT LOGAN ACT: Kerry to Abbas Confidante: ‘Stay Strong and do not given in to Trump’. Remember how many progressives wanted to prosecute members of the Trump transition team under the Logan Act for warning U.S. allies that the U.S. would not look kindly upon them if they voted for a pending anti-Israel UN resolution? Strangely enough, those same progressives have been silent about Kerry’s much more egregious interference in U.S. foreign policy.

DAN MCLAUGHLIN: Chuck Schumer Doesn’t Want An Immigration Deal.

• Trump will sign basically anything that he can claim includes “The Wall.”

• Trump would be effectively admitting defeat if he signs something that he can’t claim includes “The Wall”

• If Trump is on board with an immigration deal with the Senate, that will give cover for it to pass the Republican-controlled House.

• Most of the Republican voters who care about restricting immigration will take their cues from Trump if he says he got a wall from Schumer, and will be happy and encouraged regardless of what else is in the bill.

• Most of the Democratic voting base will be furious at Democrats that they did something to make Trump happy – especially on his signature issue – regardless of what else is in the bill. The “Resistance” will treat this as the equivalent of a deal with Hitler.

• The optics of a smiling Trump signing a bipartisan immigration deal will play well overall for Trump and Republicans, and will help defuse some of the most polarizing arguments against Trump.

• Schumer expects to have more leverage to extract better terms in 2019, given that the Democrats are universally expected, at a minimum, to gain seats in the House in November.

Dan concludes, “Now that both Schumer and Trump have declared the wall non-negotiable, one of them has to cave or there’s no deal – a situation that was completely predictable when Schumer made his announcement.”

I’ve been reading Dan for years and respect the heck out of him, but his take might be too generous to Schumer. It isn’t that he doesn’t have any plays to make, but I don’t see any — at least not yet — which overcome his essential bind:

• Democrats can’t deliver the immigration deal which their most energized voters demand, even to the point of protesting at Schumer’s home.

• Continued Democratic obstruction on immigration restrictions — which poll surprisingly well (surprising to Beltway types, anyway) — risks turning off the very same Obama-to-Trump voters who Democrats need to win back in November.

This is far from over and Schumer is a crafty Washington player, but for now it looks like a “bad” deal for Schumer might be better than no deal at all.

NO. WAY. Here’s A Crazy Theory: Maybe Americans Just Want A Rational Immigration Policy.

David Harsanyi:

Logically speaking, Democrats can’t simultaneously contend that the borders are already secure and argue we have an obligation to legalize 800,000 illegal immigrant children and another 11 (or whatever it is) million illegal immigrants. How did they get here? How will the dynamic change in the future? All the arguments now in play for DACA will be in play a decade from now. Do we do this every decade?

Now Mitch McConnell has promised to allow an up-or-down vote on DACA in early February that ensures the immigration debate will consume Washington for the next few weeks. It seems there’s already consensus forming among analysts that this is a loser for Republicans. But maybe the lesson of the shutdown is that DACA, and the debate surrounding illegal immigrants in general, isn’t as simple or as powerful as Democrats imagine. Maybe the shutdown’s lesson is that Trump can hold out for a wall and other concessions on chain migration and enforcement in exchange for an easier path towards legalization for those already here. Maybe the lesson is that a deal is available.

Because if the wall is just a silly, ineffective, useless prop then certainly it would make sense for Democrats to accede to its creation to help legalize the Dreamers and create a more rational and ethical immigration policy. If they don’t, cynical people might start to get the impression that Democrats are far more interested in creating millions of new Democrats than they are in creating a lawful and rational process that respects the sovereignty of their nation.

I guess I’m a cynical person then.

BYRON YORK: NeverTrumpers face vexing question: What to make of Trump successes?

The start of President Trump’s second year in office has given Republicans and conservatives an opportunity to review a solid list of achievements: corporate and individual tax cuts; economic growth; wage growth; a conservative Supreme Court justice; a record number of circuit court confirmations; deregulation; the defeat of Islamic State, and more. Each is a development worth celebrating, either by the standards of conservatism, or the general welfare, or both.

But for NeverTrump conservatives, the list presents a challenge. Many support the actions, like cutting taxes and reducing regulation, on Trump’s list. Yet some have also staked their credibility and prestige on declaring Trump’s election an unmitigated, historic disaster that will lead to an autocratic, dystopian future. Many want to force Trump out of office, either by impeachment, the 25th Amendment, or, at least, defeat in 2020.

So how to deal with the current good news?

The most extreme NeverTrumpers, like the Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin, simply rail against everything the president does. But more sophisticated NeverTrumpers are looking for nuanced ways to recognize the president’s accomplishments while maintaining that he remains a menace — and that they have been right about him all along.

Jennifer Rubin, like Ana Navarro, is just a Republican-for-media-purposes.

MOMENTUM: Emboldened conservatives press Ryan to bring hard-right immigration bill to floor.

Related: Shock poll: Americans want massive cuts to legal immigration: Cutting chain migration even more popular than legalizing Dreamers. “A Harvard-Harris poll taken in the run-up to the shutdown found Americans strongly support granting citizenship rights to illegal immigrant Dreamers. But they also back Mr. Trump’s three demands for a border wall, limits to the chain of family migration and an end to the Diversity Visa Lottery. Most striking of all is the public’s demand for lower overall legal immigration — a position that has little traction on Capitol Hill but one that is overwhelmingly popular across the country.”

Also: Immigration deal in jeopardy after Democrats retract border wall funding.

Plus: Michael Barone: After shutdown, Republicans have leverage on immigration.

ALICE STEWART: On shutdown, Democrats have a lot of explaining to do.

Chuck Schumer blames the GOP generally and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell specifically, saying the Democrats are happy to compromise, but “we will not be bullied.”

The reality is that Democrats chose protections for recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients over funding the government. They will have to explain that to the American people.

The fact is that, while there is tremendous support for protecting Dreamers, 56% of Americans, according to a recent CNN poll, said approving a budget to avoid a shutdown was more important than continuing DACA. Thirty-four percent thought renewing DACA was more important than preventing a shutdown.

President Trump has been clear on his goal for dealing with immigration. Along with a DACA fix, he wants increased security at the border, an end to chain migration, and an end to the visa lottery program.

With that in mind, Congress should have addressed first things first: fund the government now and address DACA by its March deadline. It’s shameful that our military and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) will suffer due to the reality show known as Congress.

But if the GOP can’t get the Democrats to pay a political price, then you can expect more of the same.

THIS STINKS TO HIGH HEAVEN: FBI ‘Failed To Preserve’ Five Months Of Text Messages Between Anti-Trump FBI Agents.

The FBI “failed to preserve” five months worth of text messages exchanged between Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, the two FBI employees who made pro-Clinton and anti-Trump comments while working on the Clinton email and the Russia collusion investigations.

The disclosure was made Friday in a letter sent by the Justice Department to the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (HSGAC).

“The Department wants to bring to your attention that the FBI’s technical system for retaining text messages sent and received on FBI mobile devices failed to preserve text messages for Mr. Strzok and Ms. Page,” Stephen Boyd, the assistant attorney general for legislative affairs at the Justice Department, wrote to Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson, the chairman of HSGAC. (RELATED: FBI Agents Discussed ‘Insurance Policy’ Against Trump Win)

He said that texts are missing for the period between Dec. 14, 2016 and May 17, 2017.

There have been so many episodes like this where crucial evidence is “lost” that I don’t believe any of it anymore.

Related: NSA erased surveillance data related to pending lawsuits: Report.

Surveillance data the National Security Agency vowed to preserve related to pending lawsuits has been erased, and the agency did not take several precautions it told a federal court it would take to ensure the data did not get deleted, court filings reveal.

Top NSA officials should be jailed for contempt. But they won’t because the law is for the little people.

QUESTION ASKED AND ANSWERED:

Shot: Why do Californians pay more state and local taxes than Texans?

—The San Jose Mercury, this past Sunday.

Chaser:

A pair of California lawmakers want to claw back some of steep tax cuts that corporations will receive under the federal tax overhaul signed last month by President Donald Trump.

Democratic Assemblymen Kevin McCarty of Sacramento and Phil Ting of San Francisco announced Thursday that they will pursue a constitutional amendment to add a surcharge on large companies that do business in California, potentially raising billions of dollars to expand social services for Californians.*

“We’ve seen enough billionaire justice from the presidency,” McCarty said in an interview. “It’s time for middle class tax justice.”

“‘Time for middle class tax justice’: California corporate tax bill offsets Trump cuts,” the Sacramento Bee, Thursday.

* What could go wrong?

SMALL BUSINESSES ARE ALREADY INVESTING DUE TO TAX CUT: That’s the word from Small Business Administration (SBA) Administrator Linda McMahon, who, according to LifeZette’s Brenda Kirby, hears that message from entrepreneurs and small business owners all the time.

“Well, what they’re saying with the new tax reform package passed is that they are going to take the proceeds from any tax savings that they have and reinvest them in their business,” McMahon said during an interview Thursday on Laura Ingraham’s Talk Radio show. “So, you know, they complained about taxes. They wanted to see regulatory reform. And under President Trump, they are seeing both of those issues addressed. And they’re very enthusiastic about it.”

That’s the good news. The not-so-good news is that McMahon wants “to see more loans because that means more businesses are taking advantage of this access to capital. And they’ll either use it to grow, or they’ll use it to start a new business, or they’ll use it to add an employee.” All true but wouldn’t it be better if those guarantees and loans came from the private sector rather than the taxpayers via SBA?

 

TRUMP’S HITLER! LET’S EXPAND HIS POWER! Liberals accuse Trump of being a dictator, then promptly vote to give Trump more power.

Since Inauguration Day, liberals have fear-mongered in order to swell the ranks of their #Resistance. While they said Ronald Reagan was senile and George W. Bush was stupid, they now accuse Trump of being an evil authoritarian. Pieces in both the Washington Post and the New York Times, for instance, declared 1984 a must-read at the start of 2017. In the same spirit, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi even accused Trump of attempting “word and thought control.”

If any of this was legitimate, liberals would suddenly become the biggest advocates of limited government, or at least limited executive power. And for a while, there was even hope that checks and balances would come back in vogue. Reasonable people like columnist Ryan Cooper could be forgiven for naively expecting “Democrats to see at least some of the problems with unchecked surveillance powers.” But they didn’t.

When given an opportunity to limit the authority of a man they said was unsafe for democracy, Democrats joined with Republicans to put the keys to the surveillance state back into the pocket of the president. The House voted down an amendment by Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., that would have forced the government to get a warrant before spying on citizens. The combined vote was 233 against with 183 in favor.

What the Deep State wants, the Deep State usually gets.

MATTHEW CONTINETTI: Liberal exhaustion from Oprah to DACA.

What Matthew Walther called Oprahysteria signified nothing less than Democratic leeriness and hesitancy at the coming primary fight. Crowded, aged, liberal, boring, and pale, the emerging 2020 Democratic field is no reason for excitement. Tossing Oprah into the mix livens things up.

But all that’s in the future. The midterms come first. Here, the Democrats are enthusiastic. They have many—some say too many—candidates. After Virginia and Alabama, the wind is at their backs. Trump remains unpopular. All that the Democrats are missing is an agenda. They need something to offer the public. Right now they have nothing.

Don’t tell me they have the Dreamers. Polls might show that legalizing the status of illegal immigrants brought to the United States as children is popular. But the fact is that the attention Dreamers receive from the media is remarkably out of proportion and intensity with their relevance to the everyday voter. When Pew surveyed public priorities a year ago, the top three items were terrorism (76 percent), the economy (73 percent), and education (69 percent). Immigration ranked fifteenth (43 percent) out of twenty-one options.

In the Virginia exit poll last November, immigration was only the third-most important issue, and much of that probably was from Gillespie voters who want the state to fight MS-13. Health care and gun policy were more important to Virginians. So do we really believe Claire McCaskill will begin her appeals to Missourians this fall by saying, “Reelect me, I legalized the Dreamers”?

It’s not so much that it’s a thin bench, but one with all the wrong priorities and worst of all: deadly uninteresting.

MORE FAKE NEWS? GOP senator: Trump did not make ‘s—hole’ comment.

Republican Sen. David Perdue (Ga.) on Sunday said President Trump did not use the word “shithole” to refer to some African nations, Haiti and El Salvador during a White House meeting with lawmakers.

During an interview on ABC’s “Meet the Press,” Perdue said the comment attributed to the president in The Washington Post is a “gross misrepresentation.”

“I’m telling you he did not use that word, George. And I’m telling you it’s a gross misrepresentation. How many times do you want me to say that?” Perdue said after host George Stephanopoulos pressed him for an answer.

If the reports were true, they were a breach of confidence regarding a private meeting. If they’re false, they’re something worse. Either way, how can Trump feel he’s dealing with Democrats on immigration in good faith, if they’re willing to either breach confidence or lie?

Related: DHS secretary on Trump’s ‘s—hole’ comments: ‘I don’t recall him saying that exact phrase.’

SUMANTRA MAITRA: Trump’s Conservative-Realist Approach Will Outlast Trump.

It is foolish to imagine that the interests of United States will cause her to be aligned with the same countries with whom her interests were aligned in 1945, or even 1989. The European Union, for example, under the leadership of Brussels, Stockholm, and Berlin, consistently clashed with Washington on Iran, mass-migration, Jerusalem, Cuba, the Nord Stream gas pipeline, Russian sanctions, and China to name just a few. This rift will only continue to grow.

The failure to understand the simple fact that Trumpism is purely an effect of a failed imperial foreign policy, and not a cause, in incredible to observe. The United States now stands as a hegemon, and now faces what Great Britain faced during the Suez Canal crisis in 1956: massive debt, a disinterested public that wants to avoid any foreign entanglement, new growing peer rivals and structural realities, a bygone unipolar moment, and a new multipolar great power rivalry. In a way, Trump’s strategy simply reflects these structural changes and aspirations of Americans, who are tired of paying their hard-earned cash for this Wilsonian and imperial foreign policy. Conservative Realism is about strength at home and prudence and restraint abroad.

NATO funding remains a major thorn, and while Trump took credit for some countries increasing their funding for NATO, the strategy still makes it a point that countries should pay for their security. Trump is right about rich European countries living on American taxpayers. But it is not true that Europe is supposed to pay for Trump. That’s not how it works. And there’s no way Trump will be able to make Western European countries pay 2 percent of GDP for NATO, simply because there is no longer a Soviet Union to fear. American foreign policy at this stage is more aligned with East and Central European states, which are traditionally socially conservative and are wary of Russian military designs and EU social engineering. That is unlikely to change, and sooner or later, American policymakers will need to adjust to this new reality.

That last point is one Donald Rumsfeld was mocked for making 15 years ago, with his “Old Europe/New Europe” remarks.


PORKBUSTERS UPDATE: Don’t refill the swamp by restoring earmarks, President Trump.

While President Trump wants to drain the swamp, his White House has been repeatedly checked by a gridlocked Congress. Now, Trump wants to grease the wheels a bit. He wants to bring back earmarks.

“I think we should look at a form of earmarks,” Trump told lawmakers gathered at the White House on Tuesday. “One thing it did is it brought everybody together.” The other thing it will do is permanently rebrand the party of fiscal responsibility into the party of graft, pork, and greed.

To be sure, earmarks make the legislative process a bit more efficient. And it’s understandable why a dealmaker like Trump would find them appealing as a negotiating aid. But they also lead to waste. Even the president admitted as much when he said that earmarks “got a little bit out of hand.”

When negotiations break down, obstructionists sell their votes for things like a $233-million bridge nobody needs, $3.4-million worth of tunnels for turtles, and $500,000 for a teapot museum. Old, greasy hands like former Rep. Charlie Rangel were even able to secure funding for personal monuments. That New York Democrat christened the Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service with $1.9 million in taxpayer money.

Most lawmakers don’t remember, though. When some Republicans tried to bring earmarks back shortly after Trump’s inauguration, Tom Schatz, president of Citizens Against Government Waste, warned that “63 percent of House Republicans have been elected since 2010” and as a result “have no personal knowledge or experience with earmarks.”

Those post-pork members didn’t witness the conservative crusade to end the practice. “If there’s a public vote [on earmarks],” former Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., warned me last February, “Republicans are going to get killed by some of these grassroots organizations out there now.” In other words, they can’t comprehend the rake they would be stepping on if they do this before the midterm elections.

That’s absolutely right.

NOBODY’S SURPRISED HERE, ARE THEY? Son of Dem Congressman: Coming Out As A Republican To My Democrat Family Went Worse Than Coming Out Gay.

The irony of this apparent intolerance for diversity of thought by the party claiming to champion the rights of groups underserved by the status quo was not lost on me.

For the first time in my progressive life, standing up for the values that I most strongly espouse—truth, morality, self-reliance, boundaries, tolerance, and a healthy dose of Jewish skepticism—was damaging my reputation and character. When I publicly opposed my dad’s support of the Iran deal, I was admonished. I had few friends with whom I could have a civil political conversation: one stopped all communication with me for two weeks because Trump won the presidency.

If Republicans are bad, Trump is nothing less than Satan embodied. Post-election family gatherings devolved into group Trump-bashing, which intensified as more rumors of my dubious views wafted across town. I did not even bother going to gay pride because it was fused with a Resist march. If you do not want to impeach our president, you have no place in gay life.

I was labeled a white supremacist by a friend I’ve known my entire life, and completely dropped with no explanation by another dear friend and self-anointed giant of the gay civil rights movement to whom my father had introduced me 15 years ago.

Hypothesis: Lefties act this way because they’re awful people.

THE LEFTIES AT THE INTERCEPT ARE NOT AMUSED: Oprah Winfrey for President: Have We All Gone Bonkers?

I’m old enough to remember when liberals gave a damn about experience, qualifications, and judgement; when Democrats mocked the idea of Trump — a former reality TV star and property developer who struggled to tell the difference between Hamas and Hezbollah — running for the presidency.

On the campaign trail, former President Barack Obama blasted Trump as “uniquely unqualified,” lacking in “basic knowledge” and “woefully unprepared” to do the job of commander-in-chief. In stark contrast, he argued, there had “never been a man or a woman more qualified than Hillary Clinton to serve as president of the United States of America.”

Well, when you finish up with a lie like that, people may disbelieve the other stuff, too. And since — judging from the economy, unemployment, foreign relations, judges, regulation cuts, etc. — Trump is doing a much better job than the allegedly-credentialed Obama, people might want to take a flyer on another outsider.

WAGES OF POSTMODERNISM: Michael Wolff to MSNBC anchor on his book: “If it rings true, it is true.”

“If it rings true, it is true” may be the most Orwellian defense of slovenly reporting since the immortal “fake but accurate” line from the Rathergate days. This isn’t the way journalistic ethics are supposed to work, gasps an exasperated Haley Byrd of the Weekly Standard. It is if you want to sell a million copies, I guess. In fact, “if it rings true, it is true” is about as perfect a summation as you could ask for of the concept of confirmation bias. If you already hate Trump, the mix of fact, rumor, and third-hand smear in Wolff’s book, all relentlessly damning of the White House, is a political banana split with extra hot fudge. Nothing that tastes this good could possibly be bad for you!

And as Allahpundit quips, Wolff is “the second person in a hot media spotlight in less than 24 hours to casually undermine the idea of objective truth. The other, of course, was the 46th president of the United States.”

Heh.Ben Shapiro reminds Oprah that “There is no such thing as ‘your truth.’ There is the truth and your opinion.” But then, they don’t call Oprah “the pope of American gnosticism” for nothing.

On Friday, it was announced that the first guest on David Letterman’s upcoming Netflix series will be former President Obama.

But of course – there’s no reason why America’s first postmodernist talk show host should be joined by America’s most prominent postmodern former president. (Bill Clinton was the first of course, arguing over the meaning of “is” in 1998 to save his hide during the impeachment hearings. But his equivocating over a verb didn’t directly impact millions of Americans the same way that Obama’s fables did.)

In his recent book Letterman: The Last Giant of Late Night, author Jason Zinoman wrote:

In May 1985, Esquire magazine published an essay by a twenty-three-year-old Yale graduate named David Leavitt, who set out to do nothing less than explain his generation. It belonged to a long, dubious journalistic tradition in which a major media outlet sums up young people for its readers, using an envoy from their tribe. These stories follow a certain script: Mix some reported anecdotes with a few references to politics and pop culture trends, add a tone of alarm, and then draw a sweeping conclusion about wildly different groups of young people. The piece’s title: “The New Lost Generation.”

Leavitt argued that those coming of age in the Reagan era saw the idealism of the 1960s vanish and substituted a cynical and steely veneer. They sighed at political activism and rolled their eyes at passion and engagement. Unlike the hopeful kids from past decades, they were not marked by a particular cause to fight for. They were more likely to find all of politics contemptuous. What united them was a jaded outlook about not just politics but even the nature of honesty itself. “We are determined to make sure everyone knows that what we say might not be what we mean,” Leavitt wrote, building to a crescendo: “The voice of my generation is the voice of David Letterman.”

* * * * * * * *

Late Night had not become as popular as The Tonight Show, an impossibility, considering their respective time slots, but its cultural impact had surpassed it. By the middle of the decade, Letterman was the rare host who stood for something bigger than a television show. He was increasingly mentioned as the talk-show avatar of postmodernism, a movement marked by self-awareness and challenges to dominant narratives that was then shifting from academia to the mainstream press. He became the host who didn’t believe in hosting, a truth-teller whose sarcasm rendered everything he said suspect, a mocking challenge to anyone who pretended to take the ridiculous world seriously. Letterman became the face of an ironic sensibility that permeated comedy, television, and popular culture.

Andrew Breitbart famously said that “politics is downstream from culture.” In the 1980s, Letterman’s postmodernism made for fascinating and often wryly amusing late night television. But as Obama, and multiple DNC-MSM outlets have proven, it’s a lousy way to run a country or “report” its news. And of course, all of its worst practitioners are still clueless as to how they got Trumped.

KIMBERLEY STRASSEL: The Democrats’ ‘Russian Descent:’ Tactics in the Trump probe are starting to look a lot like McCarthyism.

Democrats have spent weeks making the case that the Russia-Trump probes need to continue, piling on demands for more witnesses and documents. So desperate is the left to keep this Trump cudgel to hand that Senate Intelligence Committee Democrats have moved toward neo- McCarthyism.

If that sounds hyperbolic, consider an email recently disclosed by the Young Turks Network, a progressive YouTube news channel. It’s dated Dec. 19, 2017, and its author is April Doss, senior counsel for the committee’s Democrats, including Vice Chairman Mark Warner.

Ms. Doss was writing to Robert Barnes, an attorney for Charles C. Johnson, the controversial and unpleasant alt-right blogger. Mr. Johnson’s interactions with Julian Assange inspired some in the media to speculate last year that Mr. Johnson had served as a back channel between the Trump campaign and WikiLeaks. There’s still no proof, but in July the Intelligence Committee sent a letter requesting Mr. Johnson submit to them any documents, emails, texts or the like related to “any communications with Russian persons” in a variety of 2016 circumstances, including those related to “the 2016 U.S. Presidential Campaign.”

Mr. Barnes seems to have wanted clarification from Ms. Doss about the definition of “Russian persons.” And this would make sense, since it’s a loose term. Russians in Russia? Russians in America? Russians with business in the country? Russians who lobby the U.S. and might be affected by the election—though not in contact with campaigns?

Ms. Doss’s response was more sweeping than any of these: “The provision we discussed narrowing was clarifying that the phrase ‘Russian persons’ in [the committee letter] may be read to refer to persons that Mr. Johnson knows or has reason to believe are of Russian nationality or descent” (emphasis added).

Well, to be fair, it was the Democrats who imprisoned people in concentration camps simply for being of Japanese descent, so at least they’re consistent.

CRACKDOWN: Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Declares “The End Of The ’96 Sedition.”

Ed Morrissey:

The mullahs apparently didn’t want to wait to see whether its Astroturf protests would turn things around for them. Interestingly, they’re aiming the crackdown outside of Tehran and Qom, the two most significant cities for the ruling mullahs, and probably the most accessible to outside journalists. They want to quell the uprising outside of the view of the world, but more importantly, outside the view of other Iranians to the greatest extent possible.

This becomes the critical point of the uprising. The mullahs needed to act before the spirit of revolution infected the IRGC, but also before it got too far among the population. If the latter is true, an armed response to demonstrations might provoke an even wider rebellion that could overwhelm the IRGC. That’s why the mullahs waited this long before ordering their palace guards to open fire on the regime’s subjects. If they’ve mistimed the crackdown, it might be an end to the mullahs’ run of 7th-century rule by 21st-century technology.

At this point, however, the mullahs have given an opening for international intervention, including the reapplication of sanctions that the deal with Barack Obama ended. Donald Trump has been itching to reinstate those sanctions but has been held off by both the deal and our Western allies, who wanted to consider the matter closed. If the IRGC is opening fire on unarmed Iranians for dissent, they will have no choice but to take action, and it might even force Russia and China to allow for emergency action from the UN Security Council. That will make the economic situation even worse, which will prompt more protests — and perhaps disincentivize the IRGC rank and file in the longer run.

Watch for reports from dissenters about the status of the protests.

That might not be easy given Tehran’s social media crackdown, but to paraphrase Dr. Ian Malcolm, dissent finds a way.

MICHAEL TOTTEN: Fractured West: In Oregon and elsewhere, rural residents increasingly balk at Democrats’ progressive governance.

Lots of journalists have ventured into the rust belt to find out why so many working-class voters abandoned the Democrats for Donald Trump, but hardly anyone is asking why blue-collar voters in the rural West have been going the same way for years. Perhaps many people think that they already know. In his 2004 book, What’s the Matter with Kansas?, journalist Thomas Frank argued that the Republican Party wins in his home state by pushing a culturally conservative platform to manipulate rural blue-collar folks to vote against their economic interests and for the party of big business and the wealthy instead of the party of labor unions and government assistance.

That’s not what happened in Oregon. Yes, rural Oregonians are more culturally conservative than urban Oregonians. Rural people are more culturally conservative than their urban counterparts everywhere in the world. Oregon, though, is not fighting a cultural civil war. Rather, people on the inland eastern side of the state have an entirely different set of priorities. Rural voters are being micromanaged by Democratic politicians elected in Portland, whose land-use and water-rights policies are inflicting at times devastating economic hardship on the other side of the mountains. Contrary to Frank, they prefer the Republican Party not despite their economic interests but because of them. If the Democrats want to win back these votes in the upcoming midterms, the first thing they need to do is stop kidding themselves. Understanding Oregon is a good place to start.

I think a lot of states need to split.

THEY TOLD ME IF A REPUBLICAN WERE ELECTED PRESIDENT, THE SEX POLICE WOULD BE INTRUDING INTO EVERYONE’S LIVES. AND THEY WERE RIGHT!

A source says, “Romantic relationships at work are not exactly unusual, but now NBC says it is taking a zero-tolerance approach. Staffers have been told that if they find out about any affairs, romances, inappropriate relationships or behavior in the office, they have to report it to human resources, their superior or the company anti-harassment phone line. Staffers are shocked that they are now expected to snitch on their friends.

“Plus, there’s been a series of ridiculous rules issued on other office conduct. One rule relates to hugging. If you wish to hug a colleague, you have to do a quick hug, then an immediate release, and step away to avoid body contact.

“Also there’s strict rules about socializing, including [not] sharing taxis home and [not] taking vegans to steakhouses.”

As I keep noticing, it’s amazing how the sex-harassment torpedo the Dems aimed at Trump has circled back around on them.

And, further demoralizing Trump’s enemies, is this reality:

The problem at NBC News wasn’t that people didn’t know, it’s that people who knew and should have done something didn’t. They didn’t because Lauer was a star with the power to damage almost anyone who represented a threat to him. No one wanted to take a shot at Lauer because there was a good chance you would end up fired and he’d remain untouched. That’s the same problem people at the Weinstein Company had. Everyone knew about Harvey but no one could afford to take him on.

The problem with procedural rules to deal with sexual harassment and abuse is that the rules are most likely to be applied in an unforgiving fashion to people low on the totem pole while they are applied sparingly if at all to the people most likely to see the harassment as a kind of office perk. You’ll know these rules actually mean something when another A-list host at NBC gets written up for violating the hug policy. My guess: It will never happen.

Yep. It’s all bullshit. As I predicted a while back, the end result of all this #metoo stuff is more HR seminars for powerless males, while the Matt Lauers continue to do what they want, until they’re disposable.

JORGE RAMOS MAKES HIS CONTRIBUTION TO THE 2020 TRUMP CAMPAIGN: Jorge Ramos Says He’s Now Having the ‘Worst Time’ of His Life in U.S. And note this:

Nearly a year into the Trump presidency, Univision anchor Jorge Ramos says he’s experiencing “the worst moment I’ve had in the 34 years I’ve been living in the United States.”

“With Donald Trump there, I have never been treated so badly. I have never been insulted so much. We’ve never been attacked so much, nor have they tried to run us out as much as now,” Ramos vented in an interview with the Spanish radio network Cadena SER.

Ramos, who proclaimed himself “if not an enemy, an opponent” of Trump in the interview, complained about the massive blowback he has received since deciding to use his media platforms to openly oppose the choice of over 62 million American voters in last year’s U.S. presidential election.

“Now the social media networks are terrible,” Ramos told his Spanish radio interviewer, Javier del Pino. “Before if someone wanted to insult you, they had to do it in person or by sending you an anonymous letter. Now they do it through the social media networks and the daily insults – you can enter my Facebook or Twitter and they are there all the time,” lamented Ramos.

How dare you peons speak with me – I’m a reporter!

Flashback: Stelter, Tur clash with Jorge Ramos on being ‘Stand-Ins for Democrats:’

At a recent National Press Club panel on the current state of the U.S. news media, the fireworks really erupted when Ramos objected to a statement made by Tur, in which she basically exhorted journalists to uphold core journalistic standards.

KATY TUR, CORRESPONDENT, NBC NEWS: Continue to report on the facts. Be as fair as you possibly can be. Be partial to the truth, and don’t be alarmist when it’s unnecessary.

JORGE RAMOS, SENIOR NEWS ANCHOR, UNIVISION: May I, uh, disagree?

After interrupting Tur for apparently advocating a much too orthodox approach to the practice of the profession, Ramos proceeded to urge the attendees at the National Press Club event to favor instead his ‘holy war’ approach to covering Trump.

JORGE RAMOS, SENIOR NEWS ANCHOR, UNIVISION: Our position, I think, has to be much more aggressive. And we should not expect the Democrats to do that job. It is our job. If we don’t question the president, if we don’t question his lies, if we don’t do it, who is gonna do it? It’s an uncomfortable position…

BRIAN STELTER, HOST, CNN’S RELIABLE SOURCES: You’re almost saying we’re a stand-in for the Democrats.

“Almost.” Just think of them as Democrat operatives with bylines (and in Ramos’ case, a daughter who was employed by the Hillary campaign) and it all makes sense.

Who want to aggressively “question the president…question his lies,” but dive for the fainting couch when their viewers return the favor.

WHY DO YOU THINK? So why’s China setting up shop in the Caribbean?

Monica Showalter:

According to a front-page above-above-the-fold report in yesterday’s South China Morning Post, the extensive plan is a clear bid to increase the Asian superpower’s “influence” in the region. The Post reports:

Beijing’s blueprint envisions the construction of massive infrastructure projects in the small tropical nation, which has a population of about 100,000. They include the construction of a highway connecting the major towns on its main island, which is about four times the size of Hong Kong Island, and a railway line encircling it. The plan also calls for the building of deepwater ports that could accommodate a large number of cruise and cargo ships, a large wind farm to replace diesel-fuelled generators and a modernised airport with more, longer runways. It also sees a future for Grenada as an offshore tax haven for foreign companies or individuals.

And we suppose China will claim it wants nothing in return…

What this is really about is a likely retaliation for the U.S.’s attempt to reassert its naval presence in the South China Sea, standing up for and reassuring our democratic allies in Southeast Asia, most of which rim the South China Sea. Up until President Trump took command, China had been brazenly seeking to extend influence there, building illegal atolls for military purposes in the area, much to these countries’ dismay.

Now that the U.S. is back, China is back, this time seeking to set up a foothold in the U.S.’s traditional sea of influence, the Caribbean.

If President Trump were to make a pointed speech reasserting the Monroe Doctrine, would there be more heads spinning in Beijing — or at the State Department?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

America needs more babies.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

QED, these articles, all recent Insta-links:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Indeed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This one, for example:

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

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

AL FRANKEN IS JUST THE BEGINNING:

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

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

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

I suspect far more than any of us can imagine.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Where is the fear? Where the authoritarianism?

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

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

Read the whole thing.

ROGER KIMBALL: Why I Have Given Up on Trumpism.

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

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

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

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

Where is the fear? Where the authoritarianism?

The Left projects, always.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s one:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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