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A DOGWHISTLE TO INCITE VIOLENCE? “Attacking Trump is not enough,” a senior Democratic aide said late Tuesday, speaking on the condition of anonymity to speak frankly about strategy.

Is this a dogwhistle for more violent attacks and assassination attempts against Republican lawmakers? If the roles were reversed, that would be the narrative, I have no doubt. Perhaps our moral betters might want to re-think words like “attack.” The heightened language of politics-as-war is the ugliest thing I’ve seen since forever.

AFGHANISTAN: It’s Too Late.

Until now, Western forces have been able to keep the government in power by financing the budget and paying salaries and maintaining the Afghan army in the field. But it has become increasingly difficult, with the Taliban advancing in many parts of the country making US and NATO forces look increasingly irrelevant. Opposition politicans have been willing to contradict the Americans, but that may be changing.

In view of the growing brazenness of Taliban attacks, there are now deep fissures in the US National Security Council between those, including Mattis, who want to send thousands more US troops in a last-ditch effort to save the regime from collapse and those, such as adviser Steve Bannon, who want the US to walk away from what is clearly a failing military endeavor and a failed state. But Trump’s decision this week to hand over the troop decision to the military itself suggests that those arguing for a new troop surge will get the upper hand. This is a hopeless strategy.

No matter how many troops Mattis decides to send this summer, it will not rectify the political crisis in Kabul.

Forcing the nation-state model on a place where there is no nation and has only fleetingly been a state is doomed to failure.

DO YOU WANT MORE TRUMP, BECAUSE THIS IS HOW YOU GET MORE TRUMP: A New York Times column about the need for mass deportations of native-born Americans, because they don’t live up to Ruling Class expectations. “Bottom line: So-called real Americans are screwing up America. Maybe they should leave, so that we can replace them with new and better ones: newcomers who are more appreciative of what the United States has to offer, more ambitious for themselves and their children, and more willing to sacrifice for the future.”

Yeah, it’s not serious. Except that, really, it pretty much is. The problem with all the immigration talk is the strong sense that the ruling class wants to dissolve the people and elect another, one more tractable to their schemes. Stuff like this doesn’t help, though I suppose NYT readers think it’s clever. But unpack it a bit — and break down which classes of native-born Americans are pulling down the averages — and it looks pretty awful.

Plus: “Because I’m the child of immigrants and grew up abroad, I have always thought of the United States as a country that belongs first to its newcomers.”

TRUE: Peggy Noonan: A generation of media figures are cratering under the historical pressure of Donald Trump.

Here I want to note the words spoken by Kathy Griffin, the holder of the severed head. In a tearful news conference she said of the president, “He broke me.” She was roundly mocked for this. Oh, the big bad president’s supporters were mean to you after you held up his bloody effigy. But she was exactly right. He did break her. He robbed her of her sense of restraint and limits, of her judgment. He broke her, but not in the way she thinks, and he is breaking more than her.

We have been seeing a generation of media figures cratering under the historical pressure of Donald Trump. He really is powerful.

They’re losing their heads. Now would be a good time to regain them.

They have been making the whole political scene lower, grubbier. They are showing the young what otherwise estimable adults do under pressure, which is lose their equilibrium, their knowledge of themselves as public figures, as therefore examples—tone setters. They’re paid a lot of money and have famous faces and get the best seat, and the big thing they’re supposed to do in return is not be a slob. Not make it worse.

By indulging their and their audience’s rage, they spread the rage. They celebrate themselves as brave for this. They stood up to the man, they spoke truth to power. But what courage, really, does that take? Their audiences love it. Their base loves it, their demo loves it, their bosses love it. Their numbers go up. They get a better contract. This isn’t brave.

Trump’s presidency has made clear that the allegedly sober and sensible establishment — the one that calls him excitable, rage-filled, narcissistic, and mean — is excitable, rage-filled, narcissistic, and mean.

KURT SCHLICHTER: Why Should We Trust Mueller?

The establishment is praising Mueller up and down. They tell me he’s honest. They tell me he’s incorruptible. But they also told me Jim Comey was a towering paragon of virtue instead of a towering pile of Harry Reid. . . .

Why should we believe this isn’t rigged? Because people in D.C. promise us that “Hey, this guy is honest?”

I guess we’re supposed to think “Yeah, well this time they’ve got to be telling us the truth. They’re totally due.”

But here’s the problem – we now have lots of new facts that change the original picture of our esteemed special counsel. Yes, as the Democrat steno pool that is the media has pointed out as we got woke to what’s happening, a lot of conservatives (including me) were initially satisfied with Mueller when he was appointed to investigate the Trump/Russia connection that everyone now admits doesn’t exist. But then came some troubling revelations which – whoa! – made us re-evaluate our prior understanding. So we – brace yourselves! – changed our minds in the face of new evidence.

Let’s look at all of the evidence. Mueller seems like a good guy. War hero. No scandals as FBI director. Not a known scumbag or skeevy perv. In Washington terms, the last one alone puts him miles ahead of the competition.

But now we find out that he’s Leaky Jim Comey’s bestest buddy there ever was. These guys are pals, and now Mueller is going to investigate the dude who fired his amigo? Does that seem cool to you?

If the HR Department at work is investigating you, do they pick as the lead investigator the guy you go drink Budweiser with? Sure they do, unless Chet the Unicorn is free, because the only thing more unlikely than picking a key player in the investigation’s friend to do it is picking a damn unicorn to do it.

So, Jim Comey – whose hurt feelings seem to be the only thing left of this Schumer-show of a scandal – is the key guy in the pseudo-scandal, and he’s got a motive to shaft the president, yet his friend is investigating it and somehow that’s supposed to be A-OK?

Related: “I’ll say it: If the special counsel’s office is leaking prejudicial information about an investigation, it should be shut down immediately.”

Also: “Sessions can’t sit on this. He’s either got to come out [and say] WaPo is wrong or he’s got to make the entire team recuse itself, start over.”

UPDATE: From Randy Barnett: “Mueller should resign not recuse. If he recuses, the matter will be delegated to one of the Democrat attack lawyers he’s hired.”

By the way, for those who don’t know, this is a celebrated Georgetown Law Professor who’s now calling for Mueller to step down over conflicts.

Related: Mueller Is Conflicted Out.

28 CFR Section 45.2 provides in part as follows:

Disqualification arising from personal or political relationship.

(a) Unless authorized under paragraph (b) of this section, no employee shall participate in a criminal investigation or prosecution if he has a personal or political relationship with:

(1) Any person or organization substantially involved in the conduct that is the subject of the investigation or prosecution; or

(2) Any person or organization which he knows has a specific and substantial interest that would be directly affected by the outcome of the investigation or prosecution….

(c) For the purposes of this section:

(2)Personal relationship means a close and substantial connection of the type normally viewed as likely to induce partiality….Whether relationships (including friendships) of an employee to other persons [outside his or her family] or organizations are “personal” must be judged on an individual basis with due regard given to the subjective opinion of the employee.

Jim Comey and Bob Mueller have been friends for about 15 years. They were partners in the episode that — I think it’s no exaggeration to say — defined Comey’s professional persona more than any other in his career. It would be surprising if it did not also forge a permanent bond with Mueller. . . .

Comey now finds himself smack-dab at the center of the Russian investigation over which Mueller presides. Questions swirl around Comey — about whether the President wanted/hinted/hoped/asked/directed/or something else the investigation of National Security Adviser Gen. Flynn to be stopped/abandoned/slowed/soft-peddled/something else. This is probably the central element of the obstruction of justice case Mr. Trump’s opponents would like to see made against him.

Questions also swirl about Comey’s notes about this conversation, why he gave them to a private individual (Prof. Dan Richman of Columbia Law) to convey to the press. Additional questions have arisen about whether this curious and seemingly devious means of putting contents of the notes in the public domain (leaking, in other words) was designed specifically to bring about the appointment of a Special Counsel outside the President’s direct reach — and, indeed, whether Comey wanted, expected or intended his friend Mueller to get the job.

There is much to be said of all this, none of it very happy-making. But one thing that can be said with considerable clarity if not comfort is that, under the governing rules (set forth above), Mueller has a long-term relationship with Comey that “may result in a personal…conflict of interest, or the appearance thereof.”

He is therefore disqualified. I hope and believe that Mueller, whom I believe to be an honest man and a partisan of the rule of law, will see this for himself. If he doesn’t, I hope Rod Rosenstein will.

Mueller should resign. Aside from the issues above, I don’t see any way that his office’s work will be seen as impartial, defeating the point of a special counsel. And given that — as even Chris Matthews has admitted — the whole Russia-collusion story has imploded, I’m not sure why his office shouldn’t just be shut down.

MORE: From the comments:

Trust Mueller? From the WaPo article on obstruction we get this gem:

“Five people briefed on the interview requests, speaking on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly…”

Five friggin’ people on Mueller’s super-secret investigation team leaked!

Yeah, let’s trust these people.

What percentage is that of the office as a whole?

BASEBALL GUNMAN WAS A BERNIE BRO WHO HATED REPUBLICANS.

The shooter who was killed during gunfire at practice for a congressional baseball game Wednesday morning was from Belleville.

The shooter was James T. Hodgkinson of Belleville, who belonged to a number of anti-Republican groups, including one called “Terminate the Republican Party.”

President Donald Trump said Hodgkinson died during gunfire exchanged with congressional security workers.

Hodgkinson, 66, owned a home-inspection business. Hodgkinson was a licensed home inspector from 1994 to 1997, when his license expired, according to records from the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation. He also held a license from 2003 to 2016, but it was not renewed.

Two days ago, Hodgkinson posted an angry tweet about President Donald Trump on Facebook.

“I Want to Say Mr. President, for being an ass hole you are Truly the Biggest Ass Hole We Have Ever Had in the Oval Office,” he wrote on Facebook.

Hodgkinson is a member of a number of anti-Republican groups on Facebook, including one called “Terminate the Republican Party.”

▪ “The Road to Hell is Paved with Republicans”

▪ “Donald Trump is not my President”

▪ “President Bernie Sanders”

▪ “Illinois Berners United to Resist Trump”

▪ “Boycott the Republican Party”

▪ “Expose Republican Fraud”

▪ “Terminate the Republican Party”

Hodgkinson took a Democratic ballot in the primary election in 2016.

The climate of hatred and violence that the Democrats and media have fostered has claimed more victims.

UPDATE: Thoughts from John Hinderaker.

JERRY POURNELLE ON TRUMP AND THE DEEP STATE:

I have long been an admirer of Peggy Noonan, but she seems lately to have been converted to the obligatory Trump bashing of the neo-cons and the editorial authorities of the Wall Street Journal. The paper’s policies are curiously contradictory, in that they seem to believe some reform of the Washington Establishment is needed, but they are so much a part of the Establishment that they can’t resist whacking Mr. Trump whenever possible; and Peggy Noonan has now joined that crowd, . . .

I’m not sure what this means. Mr. Trump is the elected president of the United States. It is no secret that many holdover officials were explicitly not loyal to the President, and some were proud of dragging their feet or even sabotaging Mr. Trump‘s action. Why should the President not expect loyalty from the Director of the FBI? Is the top investigating agency not subject to control by elected officials? This insistence of Administrative Independence is the very essence of the deep state, of the experts who have a right to rule not subject to the elected officials; it is a resurrection of the old divine rights, only the deep state is superior to everyone else: they and only they have a right to rule.

Mr. Comey had spent months “investigating” the Russian question without finding anything to prosecute. It consumed time, distracted from proper government, and to what purpose? Was the President improper for asking when this very expensive and distracting investigation would end? Do we want the FBI “investigating” whomever it wants to, subject to no elected authority?

As to the President not being subject to the norms, rules, and traditions of the Presidency, is there a person in America who thought this president would be? Was it not clear from the moment of his announcing his candidacy on the escalator in Trump Tower that he was not going to be subject to the rules, norms, and traditions of the Establishment? He made all that very clear throughout his campaign, and only a ninny could believe otherwise; indeed, he was denounced for it right up to the election. Yet he was elected.

A Republic’s government must be responsible to SOMEONE. There is no Monarch to be the fountain of justice. The President must take care that the laws are faithfully enforced. And the Establishment may insist on norms, rules and traditions all it likes, but they are not laws, and elections count.

Mr. Obama had a pen and he had a phone, and guess what, he won.

Mrs. Clinton was his designated successor. She did not win.

And that’s the real crime that Trump is guilty of.

Plus:

One story about “professionalism” in government. George H. W, Bush, Bush I, was the essence of the establishment, and believed in government professionalism and competence. The Foreign Service is the professional diplomatic establishment. When Saddam Hussein became a problem and threatened Kuwait, our Ambassador, Ms. April Glaspie, a professional, went to him and formally delivered a message, which I have read many times over – and for the life of me I can’t see that she says don’t invade Kuwait or we’ll do something about it.

Her message is diplomatic and polite, professional, and traditional. It is also ambiguous about the US position on Saddam taking Kuwait.

Would we not be better off today had we had a traditional ambassador, an old chum of the President who could speak for him and say “Saddam, old boy, you’ve been kind of our favorite over here because you resist Iran. We know Iraq was glued together out of provinces of the Turkish Empire, and maybe you have some claim to Kuwait from that, but we don’t agree. We can’t allow you to invade Kuwait, and if you do, we won’t like doing it, but we’ll come over here and throw you out. Now, let’s talk about what we can let you do, or even do for you.”

In which case, there would not have been the two Iraqi Wars costing a $Trillion or more.

But modern diplomacy isn’t about saying no to dictators.

I’M OLD ENOUGH TO REMEMBER WHEN THE “DEEP STATE” WAS SUPPOSED TO JUST BE A FIGMENT OF PARANOID RIGHTISTS’ IMAGINATION: Leading liberals develop blueprint to expand ‘deep state’ and undercut Trump.

Forlorn liberals took refuge at the American Constitution Society’s national convention in Washington this week, discussing whether to encourage the growth of the “deep state” resistance inside the government or fight President Trump from outside.

“The election of Donald Trump was an assault on the federal bureaucracy,” William Yeomans said to a room full of students and civil servants, including those recently displaced by Trump’s administration. “His values are simply not consistent with the values of people who are committed to public service and who believe deeply in the importance of public service.”

Yeomans, an American University law professor with more than 25 years of experience at the Justice Department, was holed up inside the Capital Hilton hotel downtown on a sunny Friday afternoon leading a panel of bureaucrats and scholars divided about how best to fight Trump.

UCLA law professor Jon Michaels said he favors filling the Trump administration with liberals opposed to Trump’s agenda.

“We hear a lot of language about draining the swamp and this idea about a deep state that somehow was going to thwart the intentions or the political mandate of the president,” Michaels said. “I kind of embrace this notion of the ‘deep state.'”

Michaels listed his ideas for how to ensure the success of the “deep state.” Act as a group — a department, across agency lines, as a community — rather than as an individual when pushing back against Trump from the inside, he said. Once such a coalition is formed, he suggested “rogue tweeting” or “leaking to the media” as options for fighting the president.

Just remember, you’re setting the stage for a similar campaign of massive resistance to the next Democrat in the White House. And it may not be limited to the bureaucracy. I mean if this sort of thing is okay, why not refusal to pay taxes, or a Tea Party mob occupying the White House? And that’s just at the top of the slippery slope of “resistance.” At the bottom? Bureaucrats and politicians hanging from lampposts while their families try to evade the mobs. Is this really where you want to go, lefties?

And if you think this is “special” because you think Trump is unfit for office, what about the majority of Americans who think the federal government operates without the consent of the governed? If bureaucrats are free to ignore the law, why should they listen to bureaucrats? Do you really want to live in a Kurt Schlichter novel?

JUST THINK OF THEM AS DEMOCRAT OPERATIVES WITH BYLINES, AND IT ALL MAKES SENSE.

Shot:

Back in February, I was riding on the New York to DC shuttle and CNN’s own Jeff Zucker was seated in the row behind me with a woman I took to be a colleague or personal assistant. She was yelling loudly into her phone, loudly enough that the other passengers took note of it, at one point escalating her voice to say: “If they want war with CNN, they got it.” When we landed, I noted the likely inspiration for the call: the administration had offered Mike Pence to every network except for CNN.

—Ben Domenech, “CNN’s War On Trump Is Going Swimmingly,” yesterday.

Chaser:

The media brag that they now more or less run the Democratic agenda. Univision’s Jorge Ramos (whose daughter worked for the Hillary Clinton campaign) recently thundered:

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 going to do it? It’s an uncomfortable position.

In other words, Ramos confessed that the Democratic party apparently has neither new ideas nor a political agenda that would win over the public, and thus self-appointed journalistic grandees like him would have to step forward and lead the anti-Trump opposition as they shape the news.

Fellow panelist and CNN’s media correspondent Brian Stelter answered Ramos, “You’re almost saying we’re a stand-in for the Democrats.” Thereby, Stelter inadvertently confirmed Trump White House adviser Steve Bannon’s widely criticized but prescient assertion that the media are in fact “the opposition party” — and should be treated as such.

—Victor Davis Hanson, “Progressive Media & Democrats Form New Anti-Trump Party,” May 30th.

Hangover: Proud Sponsor of President Trump’s Nightly ‘Assassination’ — CNN’s Parent Company Time Warner:

In the next scene the Trumpian Caesar is attacked by the Senators and stabbed to death as an American flag hovers overhead, according to Sheaffer. “They had the full murder scene onstage, and blood was spewing everywhere out of his body.”

Among others, guess who proudly sponsors this nightly wish-fulfillment in the bloody, live and in person! assassination of the President of the United States of America?

Time Warner, the parent company of CNN.

“And keep in mind that this is the same CNN that led the charge to destroy the career of a rodeo clown for the sin of wearing an Obama mask,” John Nolte adds at the Daily Wire.

IT’S CALLED THE DEEP STATE, NOT THE BRIGHT STATE: NSA Leaker Is A Bernie Supporter Who ‘Resists’ Trump.”

More here. “President Trump has been pushing Justice to go after leakers inside the federal government, which he has identified as ‘the big story’ when it comes to Russia’s involvement in the 2016 presidential election. Winner’s arrest could signal the federal government is going to aggressively investigate and prosecute individuals who send classified intelligence to news organizations.”

JOEL KOTKIN ON THE COMING DEMOCRATIC CIVIL WAR:

The two most remarkable campaigns of 2016 — those of Trump and Bernie Sanders — were driven by different faces of populist resentment. Yet, increasingly, the Democrats’ populist pretensions conflict with their alliance with ascendant “sovereigns of cyberspace,” whose power and wealth have waxed to almost absurd heights. Other parts of their upscale coalition include the media, academia and the upper bureaucracy.

This affluent base can embrace the progressives’ social agenda — meeting the demands of feminists, gays and minority activists. But they are less enthusiastic about the social democratic income redistribution proposed by Bernie Sanders, who is now, by some measurements, the nation’s most popular political figure. This new putative ruling class, notes author Michael Lind, sees its rise, and the decline of the rest, not as a reflection of social inequity, but rather their meritocratic virtue. Only racism, homophobia or misogyny — in other words, the sins of the “deplorables” — matter.

The Washington Post, owned by Jeff Bezos, the world’s third-richest man, reflects this socially liberal, but oligopolistic, worldview. Last spring, Bezos worked assiduously to undermine Sanders’ campaign, then promoted Clinton, and now has become a leading voice in the anti-Trump “resistance.” The gentry wing of the party, which dominates fundraising and media, as the opposition to Sanders reveals, likes its money. The tech community is famously adept at avoiding taxes.

How long can this odd pairing of socialism and oligopoly persist? There are growing sentiments on the left to begin confiscating some of the massive wealth of the tech firms. Bank of America’s Michael Harnett recently warned that continued growth of stock market wealth in a handful of tech stocks “could ultimately lead to populist calls for redistribution of the increasingly concentrated wealth of Silicon Valley.”

And note this related bit of irony from veteran left-leaning journalist Thomas Edsall, who discovers that too many wealthy leftists can be very bad for their own income distribution schemes. Or as Ace of Spades quips, linking to a new column by Michael Barone, “Who’s Standing in the Way of the Economic Left’s Dreams of Redistribution of Wealth…? The Affluent Social Left, Which Doesn’t Want to Share Their Money With the Riff-Raff:”

Thomas Edsall, the longtime Washington Post reporter now writing on his New York Times blog, laments the increasing tendency of high-income Americans to vote Democratic. That leaves the Democrats with an increasingly affluent constituency, presumably unwilling (or less willing than others) to support redistributive policies like Bernie Sanders’s proposal for higher tax rates on the affluent.

“In the past,” Edsall writes, “Democrats could support progressive, redistributive policies knowing that the costs would fall largely on Republicans. That is no longer the case. Now supporting these policies requires the party to depend on the altruistic idealism of millions of supporters who, despite being relatively well off, often feel financially pressed themselves.”

Kotkin concludes that “Trump, by his incoherence and incompetence, has opened the door to the Democrats. But the passage to redemption may prove more difficult if the party fails, as Hillary Clinton and the Democratic congressional delegation showed last year, to relate to the broad ranks of the citizenry.”

It will be interesting to see the left try and reconcile that with their concurrent goal of aiming towards ideological purity by casting off not just those Americans whom they declared “Deplorable,” but all Republicans.

PAST PERFORMANCE IS NO GUARANTEE OF FUTURE RESULTS:

Shot: “[Kathy Griffin] never imagined that it could be misinterpreted as a threat of violence … that was never what she intended,” lawyer says.

—CBS, today. (Link safe; goes to Twitchy.)

Chaser: FLASHBACK: Kathy Griffin Blames Sarah Palin For AZ Shooting.

—The Federalist, Wednesday.

Hangover: Crybully Kathy Griffin Tries to Become a Victim of Her Sick Photo Shoot.

—Megan Fox, PJ Media.com, today.

UPDATE: When I linked to the announcement of Griffin’s press conference last night, I was tempted to add that you know you’re too toxic a lefty celebrity when Gloria Allred won’t serve as your attorney. But as Ace of Spades writes today, Lisa Bloom, Griffin’s attorney, is Allred’s daughter, thus making this 14:59 moment complete. And as he notes, Griffin “complains that the rule is ‘Criticize the president, lose your job,’ without acknowledging for a single second that this is the exact rule the left imposed for 8 years under f***ing Obama. Elizabeth Lauten, hounded by the Washington Post out of a job when she remarked on Facebook that Obama’s daughter shouldn’t chew gum at public appearances, wants to know where this ‘don’t get people fired for criticism of the president’ rule was four years ago.”

In addition to Lauten, as Ben Shapiro tweets, “Obama and Co. got a rodeo clown fired, and he was funnier than [Griffin] was.”

And I love Griffin saying that Trump “broke me.” Does that make Trump Bane or Batman?

More: “‘I would never want to hurt anyone,’ says a weeping Kathy Griffin, who has spent her entire career saying horrendous things about people,” John Podhoretz tweets.

SPENGLER: Merkel throws Trump in the briar patch.

Donald Trump and Angela Merkel now agree about the main issues in US-German relations. “The times in which we could rely fully on others — they are a way past us,” Merkel told a beer-tent rally of her political party. “We Europeans really have to take our fate into our own hands.” That is just what President Trump has been telling the Europeans since the beginning of last year’s US election campaign, demanding in particular that Europe pay more for its own defense. Both Trump and Merkel, moreover, say they want the Euro to strengthen against the U.S. dollar. That buries the two bones of contention between Berlin and Washington. Everything else is political posturing and fake news.

The German Chancellor in effect threatens to throw President Trump into the proverbial briar patch, giving him what he wants while appearing to denounce him.

Read the whole thing.

TO HELL IN A HANDMAID’S BASKET: Veteran Hollywood composer Boris Zelkin has a lengthy essay on Hulu’s new remake of The Handmade’s Tale, starring longtime former Mad Men actress Elisabeth Moss:

While Atwood presents her tale as occurring in the United States, and the buzz surrounding the release of the Hulu series implies that her vision is timely for America today, in truth, the dystopia she posits has a significantly higher chance of becoming reality in Europe. After all, Europe is the place where trust in and over-reliance upon centralized power, declining birthrates, and an appeasement of an unyielding worldview―the one that actually inspired The Handmaid’s Tale―are all threatening quickly to overturn what was once the font of liberalism and birthplace of the enlightenment into a religiously dystopian and morally bankrupt society.

I could understand the impetus to remake the Handmade’s Tale a bit more if a traditional conservative such as Ted Cruz or Marco Rubio was in the White House. But it’s awfully zany to believe a theocracy is just around the corner, when the current president is a rake who declared that dodging STDs while sleeping around was “my personal Vietnam,” and bragged that he could grab models and actresses “by the p***y,” language that would have been perfectly acceptable to the left if his last name was Clinton, Kennedy, Beatty, or Flint, and he had a (D) after it. Not to mention our current First Lady, who had a previous career posing nude as a model and later, in bikini-clad cheesecake shots on the wing of her husband’s private jet.

And note this:

Of the most wretched and evil characters in modern literature, Atwood’s Aunt Lydia places at the top. She is the apologist voice and cheerleader for the Handmaid’s dystopia. When not presiding over the ‘Salvaging’ of women – hanging them in Harvard Square (a mass execution of women in a public place…reminiscent of the Al Qaeda soccer field executions), she’s busy explaining why the women’s oppression isn’t really oppression at all, but a freedom from male oppression. She argues that the new mores and constricting dress are, in fact, a form of freedom:

“Now we walk along the same street, in red pairs, and no man shouts obscenities at us, speaks to us, touches us. No one whistles.

There is more than one kind of freedom, said Aunt Lydia. Freedom to and freedom from. In the days of anarchy, it was freedom to. Now you are being given freedom from. Don’t underrate it.” —Aunt Lydia

Lydia argues that with the correct modification of mores and dress the oppressed women are actually freer than they were when they were always worried about the unwelcome sexual advances of men. This distorted narrative, that correct dress and behavior will lead to a freedom from assault is currently being played out in Europe.

In response to the rapes and sexual assaults that occurred in Europe over the New Year’s celebrations and at other times, politicians, many of whom are female and self-described feminists suggested that women, the prospective and actual victims of rape, need to modify their behavior to avoid the rape. These suggested behavior modifications range from walking at arms length from migrants, to walking in pairs (similar to the Handmaids who were always to walk in twos), and to avoiding provocative dress. Most recently a Paris newspaper reported that there are areas of East Paris where women fear to walk alone for fear of being harassed and treated like prostitutes by men. One of the women interviewed states:

There are insults, incessant remarks. The atmosphere is agonizing, to the point of having to modify our movements and our clothes. Some even gave up going out.

What we’re starting to see in Europe is Lydia’s the notion of Freedom From. If a woman wants freedom from assault in today’s Europe she is being told by her female feminist leaders that she must act and dress a certain way.

A decade after being known as Al Gore’s campaign advisor on earth tones and all things alpha-male, and A few years before her spectacular meltdown as an ISIS truther, feminist icon Naomi Wolf was decidedly pro-burka in a piece for the Sydney Morning Herald headlined, “Behind the veil lives a thriving Muslim sexuality:”

She observes, “It is not that Islam suppresses sexuality, but that it embodies a strongly developed sense of its appropriate channelling — toward marriage, the bonds that sustain family life, and the attachment that secures a home.” There was “demureness and propriety” outside of the home, “but inside, women were as interested in allure, seduction and pleasure as women anywhere in the world.”

As Robert Spencer wrote in response, “How interesting that the same things that Western feminists have scoffed at for decades — ‘marriage, the bonds that sustain family life, and the attachment that secures a home’ — become warmly appealing when they see them in the Islamic world.”

And then there’s Lydia’s whole “Freedom from” riff.

“Freedom from Fear” was the Newspeak-style cornerstone of how FDR converted the negative rights of the laissez-faire Constitution (or as Lydia would say, those “days of anarchy”) into the big government Leviathan of the New Deal. Or as Orrin Judd of the conservative Brothers Judd Blog and book review site asked in 1999:

Is it possible that the History of the 20th Century can be explained by simple reference to a change in prepositions?  That is the gist of the epiphany that struck me while watching David M. Kennedy on Booknotes (C-SPAN).  He and Brian Lamb were discussing the fact that this book is part of the Oxford History of the United States joining James McPherson’s excellent one-volume history of the Civil War, Battle Cry of Freedom : The Civil War Era (1988).  Suddenly, the switch from “of Freedom” to “Freedom from”, in the respective titles, struck me as emblematic of the pivotal change of  emphases in the Modern world.  The history of America from Plymouth Rock until the Crash was essentially the story of Man’s struggle for Freedom, but Freedom in a positive sense, Freedom to do things–to worship, to speak, to gather, etc.  Thus, McPherson’s book details the great convulsion of the 19th Century, the Civil War and the struggle to free the slaves–a struggle to expand freedom.  But Kennedy, charting the great 20th Century convulsion,  has it exactly right, the importance of the responses to the Depression by both Hoover and Roosevelt lay in their decision to elevate a negative idea of Freedom, freedom from want, from hunger, from “the vicissitudes of life” above, and against, the traditional American ideal of republican Liberty.  This shift from a government aimed at protecting Freedom to one designed to provide Security is the single most important thing that happened in 20th Century America.

Finally, in a contradiction so big even Newsweek could see it, “there’s something simply too intriguing not to address about Moss’s lifelong devotion to Scientology and her new role as a character who resists accepting a regime’s ideologies and strict governance as status quo:”

In Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale, Offred and other fertile women cannot walk alone in the United States; they must abide by the stringent ruling of a far-right regime that has taken over what’s left of the nation. She dreams of what her life could be like if she managed to successfully escape, leaving behind the followers of a religion that often resembles an oppressive and volatile cult. In actuality, she’s complicit in the organization’s control and terror over the country, following along with its rules, partaking in the indoctrination of its newest captured members and killing those deemed immoral.

Of course, Offred’s plight is only fictional: Elisabeth Moss, who plays the protagonist in Hulu’s adaption of the Margaret Atwood novel, doesn’t seem to have any of the same struggles as a Scientologist. A member of the controversial church her entire life, the 34-year-old maintains a quiet relationship with Scientology in the public eye and has avoided the topic entirely along her press tour promoting the new show, which released its fourth episode Wednesday night.

All of which is why, as Charlotte Allen recently noted in the L.A. Times, “We’re Living The Handmaid’s Tale Now, But Not The Way Feminists Think.”

WILLIAM MCGURN: Don’t Blame Hillary. “She was a flawed messenger, but her party has a problem with its message.”

It has been a consistent pattern for Mrs. Clinton. On almost any issue that energizes her party—from same-sex marriage to the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal—Mrs. Clinton has gone where the party has pulled her even if it meant going against where she had been. This is what Hollywood actress Rosario Dawson meant last summer when she asked a group of Sanders delegates at the convention to understand that Mrs. Clinton “is not a leader, she’s a follower.”

But on what became the single overriding theme of her campaign, Mrs. Clinton was truly in sync with her party. This is the idea that she should be elected because she’s a woman, and that a coalition of millennials, minorities and women would come together to make it happen. So where Donald Trump had “Make America Great Again,” Mrs. Clinton had the identity project par excellence: “I’m with her.”

After all, who could be more deserving to succeed the first African-American president than the first woman president?

It didn’t turn out that way. And if you take the Trump blinders off for some perspective, there’s another dynamic that had little to do with Mrs. Clinton: the hemorrhaging of Democratic seats over the Obama years—from the governorships to state legislatures to Capitol Hill—to the point where the Democratic Party is now at its lowest levels in a century.

By the time Mrs. Clinton had secured the nomination for president, she had embraced everything a far more progressive party wanted her to embrace. But she also inherited a party that was losing elections all across the country.

Barack Obama said he wanted to be a transformative president in a way that Bill Clinton wasn’t, but I doubt this is what he had in mind.

ANALYSIS: TRUE. Trump Faces the Fury of a Scorned Ruling Class: The ‘threat’ that has elites quaking is his serious attempt to curb federal power and cut spending.

A lobbyist friend who visited Capitol Hill recently came away horrified. “I now am ready to believe that the partisanship is so unhinged that it’s a threat to the Republic,” she writes in an email.

This Washington hysteria comes at a time of full employment, booming stocks, relative peace and technological marvels like an electronic robot named Alexa who fetches and plays for you songs of your choice. What’s the fuss about?

We all know the answer: Donald Trump. The Washington body politic has been invaded by an alien presence and, true to the laws of nature, that body is feverishly trying to expel it. These particular laws of nature demand rejection of anything that threatens the livelihoods and prestige of the permanent governing class.

The “threat” that has Washington quaking is the first serious effort in a long time to curb federal regulatory power, wasteful spending, and a propensity to run up mountainous budget deficits and debt. That’s presumably what the voters wanted when they elected Donald Trump. Democrats—accurately regarded as the party of government—seem to fear that Mr. Trump might actually, against all odds, pull it off.

The Washington Post, the New York Times and other apostles of the Democratic Party have apparently set out to prove that despite their shaky business models they can still ignite an anti-Trump bonfire.

So far, what they’ve gotten is people cheering when journalists are shoved to the floor. Plus:

The Washington community knows how to fight back when it feels threatened. Leakers are having a ball, even if it has taken a lot of journalistic imagination to turn the most notorious leaks into “scandals.” Almost everyone in town has a stake in fending off the Trump threat: government workers and the businesses that serve them, public unions, lobbyists and their clients, owners of posh hotels and restaurants that cater to well-heeled visitors seeking government favors, journalists whose prestige derives from the power center they cover, academics who show politicians how to mismanage the economy, real-estate agents feeding on the boom—to name a few. It’s a good living, and few take kindly to a brash outsider who proclaims it is his mission to drain the swamp.

Mr. Trump is on the attack and Washington is fighting back. Is the Republic in danger? Another question is how much danger will it be in if Mr. Trump loses?

I don’t know why these people think that Trump voters will just stay home and sigh if the Establishment wins. It’s likely to be something much uglier. That the Establishment can’t even conceive of other people besides itself deciding to ditch the rules is just one more reason that it’s unfit to govern.

CHARLOTTE ALLEN: We’re Living The Handmaid’s Tale Now, But Not The Way Feminists Think:

At first I scoffed. There couldn’t be any more unlikely a theocrat than Trump, what with his misquotes from the Bible and speculation that he hasn’t been in a church more than twice since the inauguration. But then I realized that the liberal paranoiacs were right. Except not in the way they think. Instead of seeing Atwood’s fictional Gilead as a near-future militant fundamentalist Christian elite dystopia, we should see it as the mostly secularist elite dystopia we live in right now.

Take those elite-class Wives. Liberals typically assume the 1% consists of striped-pants tycoons off the Monopoly board who reliably vote Republican and want to cram retrograde religious ideas down people’s throats. In fact, as social scientists (Charles Murray in “Coming Apart”) and political analysts (Michael Barone, writing recently for the Capital Research Center) have observed, it’s the Democratic Party that’s the party of the 1%: the tech and finance billionaires, the media and entertainment moguls who cluster in expensive ZIP Codes around metropolitan Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York and Washington.

Those folks aren’t known for their church-going, and they vote in favor of liberal social and economic causes from abortion and immigration rights to sustainable energy to higher taxes. They contribute heavily to political campaign, and with their upper-middle-class epigones they run the culture, deciding who gets banned on Twitter, which kinds of “diversity” are allowed on campuses, and what television programs we’ll be allowed to see. Today’s overclass Wives typically hold Ivy League degrees, “lean in” to high-status careers, and stand with Planned Parenthood.

We also have a rigidly defined caste of Marthas (and “Marthos,” their male counterparts), because the Wives and their high-earning husbands need them to mop their floors, care for their children, mow their lawns and trim their trees, all for bargain-basement wages. And so we have the irony of Malibu declaring itself a sanctuary city out of “solidarity” with its servant class, many of whom are in the country illegally, who can’t afford to live anywhere near their wealthy and high-minded masters and mistresses.

Finally, the Handmaids. As in the fictional Gilead, real-life elite-class Wives have something of a fertility problem, although it’s related not to environmental degradation but delayed marriages and childbearing attempts of women who pursue high-power careers. Thanks to 30 years of advances in egg-transfer technology since Atwood published her novel, today’s gestational surrogates don’t have to get into embarrassing “threesome” sexual positions with the Commanders and their Wives in order to do their jobs. And they tend to be drawn not from the ranks of political dissidents, but from the financially strapped Econowife class (military bases are common surrogate-recruiting centers) who are willing to put up with a year’s worth of uncomfortable hormone treatments and possible pregnancy problems for the $40,000 or so that they receive.

Related: How Serfdom Saved The Women’s Movement.

WHY TRUMP GOT ELECTED, PART 1,322,217. “‘Far Cry 5’ Is About Living Under Fear in America. The game will put the player up against a Montana based cult and militia that has plenty of real world analogues:”

Dan Hay, creative director and executive producer of Far Cry 5, is standing in front of a TV displaying the word pressure, written out in all caps. PRESSURE. He’s telling a room of games journalists about the game he’s wanted to make since the 2008 recession, one that engaged with the rise of rural, American militias during Obama’s presidency. What if, Hay said, one of these groups so dedicated to preparing for the end days of America decided to actively push for it, instead.

But he couldn’t find enough support for the game: the core premise seemed “unrealistic.” After all, the world—the western world, it is implied—was “a global village.”

* * * * * * * *

Though the game’s “key art” and first teaser trailer focus only on the cult, Hay’s presentation (and many of the assets that Ubisoft sent to the games press for today’s embargo lift) additionally evoke a more mundane, almost idyllic Hope County: Bait shops. Main street bars. Little league fields. Two bedroom homes with flags out front. Taken alone, these parts of the FC5 press blast read like a love letter to the “fly over states” like Montana.

Responses to that key art over the past few days has been mixed, including arguments that FC5 will simply be about killing stereotypical, white “rednecks.” This response (and Far Cry’s own history) shows why this focus on “everyday” Montana is necessary. Far Cry as a series has always labored over transforming beautiful, distant places into chaotic playgrounds—these are even the words Hay uses to describe the series, “beauty and chaos”—and it has often done so with limited or mishandled interest in the inhabitants of these places.

Hat tip, Kathy Shaidle, who adds, “No word on when the same company will be doing a video game about Muslim terrorists.”

That’s different because shut up and maybe they’ll all go away.

Related: 7 Virtue-Signaling Celebrities Silent on Massacre of Coptic Christians.

VICTOR DAVIS HANSON: Regime Change by Any Other Name?

Truth or consequences? Obama skated for far worse misdeeds. Election machines in three states were not hacked to give Donald Trump the election. There was never a serious post-election movement of electors to defy their constitutional duties and vote for Hillary Clinton. Nor, once Trump was elected, did transgendered people begin killing themselves in alarming numbers. Nor were there mass resignations at the State Department upon his inauguration. Nor did Donald Trump seek an order to “ban all Muslims” from entering the U.S. Instead, he temporarily sought a suspension in visas for everyone, regardless of religion, from seven Middle Eastern states that the Obama administration had earlier identified as incapable of properly vetting travelers to the U.S. The first lady did not work for an elite escort or prostitute service. She never said that she and young Barron Trump would not be moving to the White House. Barron does not have autism. Trump’s father never ran racist ads as a supposed candidate in a purported political campaign. Kellyanne Conway denies that in a private conversation between segments on MSNBC, she privately remarked to hosts that she had to take a shower after working for Trump. Donald Trump never suggested to the Mexican president that the U.S. was going to invade Mexico. Nor did Trump plan to mobilize the National Guard to send back illegal aliens. He did not remove a Martin Luther King bust from the White House. There was no evidence that he ever promised to ease Russian sanctions (much less that he promised the Russians he would be “flexible” after he was elected). He did not short the FBI of resources to conduct an investigation into supposed Russian collusion. He did not go to Moscow and watch prostitutes in his bed urinate where Barack Obama had previously slept. His deputy attorney general did not threaten to resign over the Comey firing. . . .

Fake news crowds out real news. Here is what we do not read much about: North Korea, long appeased, could well send missiles against our allies, perhaps even with nuclear payloads. Afghanistan is at a crux and will either implode or need more American troops. China’s role is in the balance, and it may or may not help defang North Korea. The greatest tax- and health-reform packages in years are now in the hands of Congress. Executive orders have revolutionized the domestic energy industry and achieved a stunning and historic reduction in illegal immigration. The stock market is soaring, employment is up, and confidence in the economy has returned. Wall Street seems to dip only on talk of impeaching Donald Trump. Commensurate Worry? And here is what no longer troubles us at all. In 2008, candidate Barack Obama used back channels to communicate flexibility to the Iranians (as in the later assurance he gave, on a hot mic, to the Russians), which may have helped undermine the ongoing Bush-administration negotiations with Iran. Hillary Clinton set up an illegal server, distributed classified information in an illegal and unsecured fashion, lied about it, and destroyed thousands of e-mails central to an investigation — and got off without an indictment. In the 2016 election, the head of the DNC conspired to massage the debates and help swing the nomination to the Clinton campaign. The prior attorney general of the United State met with the spouse of a presidential candidate under investigation, in a stealthy conversation on an airport tarmac, did not inform officials of that meeting until the get-together was discovered by a reporter, semi-recused herself under pressure only to turn over her prosecutorial discretion to the head of the FBI, in a fashion that was both improper and perhaps unconstitutional. We do not hear how exactly Russian interests at Uranium One obtained market control over 20 percent of U.S. uranium holdings, or the connections between Uranium One and their prior multimillion-dollar donations to the Clinton Foundation, or that the Podesta Group had numerous financial dealings with Russian interests, or that Bill Clinton received $500,000 in 2010 from Russian oligarchic interests while his wife was secretary of state — ten times more than what Michael Flynn was alleged to have received. . . .

The effort to remove the president is conducted by the New York Times, the Washington Post, the wire services, and the major networks. And we have seen nothing like it in our time.

It’s like we’ve been living in a banana republic for a decade.

GOOD IDEA: GOP talks of narrowing ‘blue-slip’ rule for judges.

GOP senators are talking about changing an obscure Senate tradition to make it more difficult for Democrats to block certain judges from advancing to a confirmation hearing.

The change to the “blue-slip rule” would involve preventing individual senators from blocking nominees to circuit courts that have jurisdiction over several states.

If the rule change were made, it would make it easier for President Trump to win confirmation for his circuit court picks. Trump currently has 20 vacancies on the lower courts of appeals to fill.

GOP members on the Senate Judiciary Committee say this would leave the tradition in place for district court vacancies, meaning a single senator could still hold up a nomination to those courts.

“I want to separate it,” said Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.).

“Blue slips for district court judges has been time honored and I think needs to stay,” he said. “There is a question now does it apply to circuit court judges. That history is a little more mixed and I don’t think myself it ought to apply there.”

Sen. John Cornyn (Texas), the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, seemed to agree.

The “blue slip” rule is antidemocratic, and probably racist. It should go.

BEGUN, THE RANSOMWARE WAR HAS: Ransomware’s Aftershocks Feared as U.S. Warns of Complexity.

As a new workweek started Monday in Asia, there were concerns the malicious software could spread further and in different forms, with new types of ransomware afflicting computers around the globe.

There were initial reports of new cases found over the weekend in Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.

President Trump has ordered his homeland security adviser, Thomas P. Bossert, who has a background in cyberissues, to coordinate the government’s response to the spread of the malware and help organize the search for who was responsible, an administration official said Sunday.

The attack is more complicated because “the experts tell us that this code was cobbled together from many places and sources,” according to an administration official who insisted on anonymity to discuss the government’s cybersecurity plans. The more potential sources of the malicious code, the harder it is for investigators to run down the trail of possible perpetrators.

The source of the attack is a delicate issue for the United States because the vulnerability on which the malicious software is based was published by a group called the Shadow Brokers, which last summer began publishing cybertools developed by the National Security Agency.

This is an agency of the same federal government which wants backdoors built into your smartphone and other secure devices.

RICHARD FERNANDEZ ON OUR FRAGILE CIVILIZATION:

One of the weaknesses of the anti-Trump resistance is their inability to address the factors which brought the current administration into existence.  Too many think it’s all about one man.  This may explain why the Resistance to the Resistance has been surprisingly hard to push off the Hill and why Bernie Sanders is the most popular Democratic politician in America.  The key insight into the problem is that people didn’t vote for Trump but against Hillary, PC, and the ending of their world. Charles Sykes in New York Times noted this element of sheer reaction. “Mr. Trump’s most vocal supporters don’t have to defend his specific actions as long as they make liberal heads explode”.*

A hundred years ago the liberal project seemed easily attainable. “I have seen the future and it works,” wrote Lincoln Steffens, yet it’s proved surprisingly hard to close the sale. The reason why the masses should reject such a brilliant vision were hard to explain.  Despite Leftist fears their foes were never more than a coalition of amateurs with no particular ideology.  The alt-right didn’t even know it was alt-right until they were properly analyzed and labeled.

So why can’t such a stupid, ignorant and incompetent bunch be seen off?  That must be what troubles the Resistance. The scariest possibility is they are up against complexity itself, fighting a reality that refuses subordination to a narrative.  The world is hard to control, even when you dominate all the media outlets.  Jurassic Park was Michael Crichton’s parable warning against trying to linearly control complex systems. In history Marx may be friction’s equivalent of John Hammond.  “God creates dinosaurs, God kills dinosaurs, God creates man, man kills God, man brings back dinosaurs,” might explain the banging on globalism’s door when there should be nobody there.

The liberal project wanted the global world.  Maybe they didn’t understand what came with it.

Read the whole thing; though I rarely disagree with any of Richard’s analyses, they’re not liberals in the classical sense, they’re leftists; which is why they bring a whole lot of bad luck, to coin an Insta-phrase, when they’re running things entirely.

* It’s also better for us all that the left is largely unified in waging war against Trump, than say, an Indiana pizza shop owner or Washington state florist.

(Via SDA.)

STEPHEN CARTER: I Side With the ‘Bad Guys’ on Encryption: Law-enforcement agents want the power to break into secure devices. Why should we trust them?

One of the more intriguing pearls in FBI Director James Comey’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week was his disclosure that the Bureau has been unable to penetrate the encryption on about half of the 6,000 cell phones seized in the course of various investigations between October and March. To Comey and the senators, this was plainly a problem. I will confess that my own feelings are more mixed. . . .

When the head of the FBI says to the tech companies, “Please help us,” he is in effect saying to ordinary users, “Please trust us.” And that’s where the problem lies. Little in recent history — or, for that matter, not-so-recent history — offers any particular reason to believe that government officials, once granted a power, will use it sparingly.

Moreover, a warrant requirement offers little protection. The courts rarely say no, and recent administrations, including those of President Donald Trump’s two predecessors, have found ways to get around judicial scrutiny. Nor has Trump himself given the impression that his use of such powers would be sparing. But even if we imagine a government run entirely by angels, we live at a time when intelligence agencies can hardly protect their own secrets, including their hacking tools. If the tech companies yield to official pressure and begin to build backdoors into their encryption, how long will it be until the details show up on WikiLeaks, and the actual methods are being bartered in various corners of the Dark Web?

Actually, the Dark Web is used these days by journalists, who try to evade the vast networks of official surveillance by offering sources the ability to remain anonymous while sending encrypted communications via SecureDrop. SecureDrop uses the Tor network of hidden servers to allow sources and reporters who never meet to exchange untappable messages. Among the many news outlets that have signed on are the Washington Post, the New York Times, and the New Yorker.

Now suppose that the U.S. government demanded that a backdoor be built into SecureDrop. After all, in the view of law enforcement, to disclose classified information to the news media is a crime. Under the Obama administration, more leakers were prosecuted for espionage — espionage! — than in all prior administrations combined.

Well, sure but that was okay because he was a Democrat.

MORE PROBLEMS AT ESPN: The worldwide leader in politically-correct sports coverage is still creating headaches for owner Disney.

ESPN recently announced a new round of layoffs and [Disney CEO Robert] Iger, despite his liberal views, might be particularly impatient for a turnaround at the network—and not just because he wants to deliver robust earnings growth for Disney shareholders. A recent report from the website Axios claims that Mr. Iger is contemplating a run for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020. Such a run would be premised on his business success, so Disney has to be thriving for him to make a Trumpian leap into politics.

Mr. Iger may be so eager to spruce up his tarnished cable operation that he’ll consider the analysis by former ESPN and current Fox Sports journalist Jason Whitlock that ESPN’s embrace of leftist ideology is partly to blame for driving away former fans of the sports giant.

Progressives across social media have been in an uproar since the Journal published Mr. Whitlock’s op-ed on Sunday night. Mr. Whitlock wrote that ESPN is “diverse on its surface, progressive in its point of view, and more concerned with spinning media narratives than with the quality of its product. The channel has become too handcuffed by politics to protect its most experienced and loyal employees. It’s a massive symbol of everything that fueled Donald Trump’s bid for the presidency.” Mr. Whitlock also opined that ESPN had been highly influenced by attacks from the leftist website Deadspin to adopt its current politicized approach to sports coverage.

Iger can either take the progressive politics out of ESPN and please his stockholders, or he can continue to use ESPN to please the Democratic base and help him win the nomination, but he likely can’t do both.

HOW GAWKER-AFFILIATED DEADSPIN MADE ESPN POLITICALLY CORRECT AND ‘A MASSIVE SYMBOL OF EVERYTHING THAT FUELED TRUMP’S BID FOR THE PRESIDENCY:’

“The old-school viewers were put in a corner and not appreciated with all these other changes,” veteran ESPN anchor Linda Cohn said during an April radio interview when asked if ESPN’s liberal bent hurt the network. “If anyone wants to ignore that fact, then they’re blind.”

Rather than sue Mr. Denton’s bullying internet pirates into submission the way tech billionaire Peter Thiel did, ESPN chose to acquiesce and adopt progressive ideology and diversity as groundbreaking business innovations. ESPN is the exact network Deadspin desired. It’s diverse on its surface, progressive in its point of view, and more concerned with spinning media narratives than with the quality of its product.

The channel has become too handcuffed by politics to protect its most experienced and loyal employees. It’s a massive symbol of everything that fueled Donald Trump’s bid for the presidency.

ESPN NFL reporter Ed Werder, one of the most prominent faces among the layoffs last month, said in a podcast that he heard quality of work would not be a consideration when employees were let go. He lamented that “it seemed to me that quality work should be the only consideration.” Not in this America, the one ruled by social-media perception and dismissive of the real world.

Read the whole thing.

SO IT DOESN’T SOUND LIKE THERE’S MUCH TO THE TALK OF TRUMP REVISITING LIBEL LAW. Well, that’s fine with me. As a blogger and a pundit, I’m very, very happy with New York Times v. Sullivan.

But let’s not pretend that it would be the end of the world if Sullivan were overturned. We had a free press before Sullivan, after all. At core, Sullivan is just a subsidy to the news media, substituting constitutional doctrine for libel insurance premiums.

Ironically, though, all the left’s “Fake News” drumbeating increases the pressure for more press accountability. I don’t think that’s enough for a constitutional amendment, which is fine, but if Trump wants to jawbone them, well, they’ve given him a lot to work with.

MY USA TODAY COLUMN: Trump Will Test Democrats’ Tax Patriotism: President’s plan would make high-tax blue states pay their fair share.

Democrats have been saying for years that we need tax increases, and that paying taxes is one of the greatest forms of patriotism. Now it looks like President Trump is going to put their beliefs to the test.

Trump’s new tax plan would hit blue states hardest, by eliminating the federal deductibility of state income and property taxes. . . . That’s going to make it harder for blue states to maintain the high tax rates they’ve traditionally levied.States should be able to set their own levels of taxing and spending, but I see no reason why a Walmart cashier in Tennessee (which has no state income tax and low property taxes) should be subsidizing a hedge fund mogul in New York or a studio executive in Hollywood. It’s fine if blue states want to have higher state and local tax rates, as they do, but they shouldn’t be encouraged to do so by federal tax giveaways. And it’s the urban, coastal areas that have done best over the past 25 years, so it seems time for them to pay their fair share now.

Fair share! Fair share! The wealthy states can afford to “chip in a little more.”

A USEFUL ADDITION TO TRUMP’S TAX REFORM PLAN: A Modest Proposal to Reduce “Inequality:”

A surtax on large private college endowments—say on all endowments that are more than something like $1 million per student. This would hit the ivy league schools that these days are raking in nearly $1 billion a year in contributions according to the latest reports. (I recall an old line from Conan O’Brien—a Harvard grad—about Harvard’s donor pitch: “We’re Harvard. We don’t need your money. We just want it.”) Or instead of a surtax directly on endowments, reduce the tax deductibility of donations to college endowments above a certain level.

And if Republicans really want to start riots in faculty clubs, they should pass Obama’s community college plan with one proviso: that all community college credits be fully transferrable to any four-year college that accepts any federal funding (which is every institution of higher learning except Hillsdale and one or two others). Watch the four-year colleges sputter with indignation.

Seems fair.

JOEL KOTKIN: The Arrogance of Blue America: If you want to see the worst impacts of blue policies, go to those red regions—like upstate New York or inland California—in states they control.

Ironically, many of the most exploited people reside in blue states and cities. Both segregation and impoverishment has worsened during the decades-long urban “comeback,” as even longtime urban enthusiast Richard Florida now notes. Chicago, with its soaring crime rates and middle class out-migration, amidst a wave of elite corporate relocations, epitomizes the increasingly unequal tenor of blue societies.

In contrast the most egalitarian places, like Utah, tend to be largely Trump-friendly. Among the 10 states (and D.C.) with the most income inequality, seven supported Clinton in 2016, while seven of the 10 most equal states supported Trump.

If you want to see worst impacts of blue policies, go to those red regions—like upstate New York—controlled by the blue bourgeoise. Backwaters like these tend to be treated at best as a recreational colony that otherwise can depopulate, deindustrialize, and in general fall apart. In California, much of the poorer interior is being left to rot by policies imposed by a Bay Area regime hostile to suburban development, industrial growth, and large scale agriculture. Policies that boost energy prices 50 percent above neighboring states are more deeply felt in regions that compete with Texas or Arizona and are also far more dependent on air conditioning than affluent, temperate San Francisco or Malibu. Six of the 10 highest unemployment rates among the country’s metropolitan areas are in the state’s interior.

I think that this is the result of Baker v. Carr and Reynolds v. Sims and that Congress can remedy it by civil rights legislation under its Guaranty Clause powers.

I REMEMBER WHEN PEOPLE WERE PREDICTING THAT THE REPUBLICAN PARTY WOULD GO THE WAY OF THE WHIGS: Exit the Dems, Stage Left:

This week the Draft Bernie for a People’s Party got a rather high-profile devotee in Harvard professor Cornel West, who used an op-ed in The Guardian to announce his imminent departure from the Democratic Party.

“We must admit that the Democratic Party has failed us, and we have to move on,” he wrote. “Where? To what?”

The People’s Party, he added, “builds on the ruins of a dying Democratic Party and creates new constituencies in this moment of transition and liquidation.”

West, a professor of The Practice of Public Philosophy, did a fair amount of public philosophizing about the 2016 election, insisting that it was one “which Democrats lost more than Republicans won” in large part because the party “put forward a Wall Street-connected and openly militaristic candidate with little charisma.”

Ouch! It’s enough to make you feel sorry for poor Hillary. And apparently the current darling of Democratic progressives, Massachusetts’ Sen. Elizabeth Warren, just won’t do.

“Only the ubiquitous and virtuous Bernie remains true to the idea of fundamental transformation of the party — and even he admits that seeking first-class seats on the Titanic is self-deceptive and self-destructive,” West wrote.

As for issues, well, the movement wants single-payer health care, is opposed to fracking, opposed to TPP (just like Donald Trump) and West in particular is “opposed to Israeli occupation” (it’s unclear whether that means simply the West Bank).

And, of course, there is the matter of age. Sure, Bernie’s a robust 75 today, but that would make him 79 in 2020. Guess there’s no expiration date on lefties.

Old people with old ideas, running as the party of youth.

REMEMBER: WHEN YOU WANT TO KEEP MORE OF YOUR OWN MONEY, IT’S “GREED.” Rich States Growl At Trump Tax Plan.

The Trump Administration’s stated intention to eliminate the state and local tax deduction (SALT) is likely to meet major opposition from big blue states’ Congressional delegations. . . .

The deduction overwhelmingly benefits six-figure earners. The benefit is largest for affluent people living in states that impose high income tax rates, which are much bluer than average.

Trump’s abbreviated tax proposal is too vague to assess in any level of detail; it appears on the whole to be too expensive and too regressive. But Congressional leaders and Administration officials looking to turn it into something more palatable should hold the line on eliminating SALT. This would raise much-needed revenue to pay for the plan’s other provisions, and it would be targeted, for the most part, at the coastal metropolitan regions that have benefited most from the economic changes of the past few decades.

Moreover, as we have noted before, scrapping SALT could have unexpected positive effects at the state level. As it stands, many wealthy people in cities like San Francisco and New York have largely withdrawn from the state political process. They can afford to acquiesce to inefficient government and the high taxes required to pay for it in part because they can deduct all of that money from their federal tax bill. If it weren’t for SALT, we might see more talented and creative people in wealthy blue states re-engage in state government in a meaningful way.

Some SALT opponents will claim that the measure would create a system of “double-taxation,” and they aren’t entirely wrong. But if this were really the concern, states could address it by making federal tax deductible from state tax bills. Of course, that would impose new costs on states, just as SALT imposes costs on the federal government. This is at its core a fight over resources, and it’s one that the working class deserves to win more than coastal high-flyers.

Indeed. In fact, that’s why they elected Trump.

ROGER KIMBALL ON TRUMP VS. OBAMA: A STUDY IN CONTRASTS:

As we approach Trump’s hundredth day in office, however, I am happy to say that I sense a change in the anti-Trump dynamic. The anti-Trump venom is as widespread and hysterical as ever. But as the days go by and Trump governs not as Hitler but as a deliberate executive, toting up victories here, setbacks there, rain checks and extenuations and opportunities, more and more people will say, “This guys is the real deal. He gets things done. He delivers on his promises. He really is making America great again.” The effect of that sentiment will be to marginalize the mainstream media.  If you want a vivid example of exactly how that is done, contemplate what’s about to happen next Saturday when Trump skips the White House correspondents’ dinner and holds a big rally in Pennsylvania instead. I’m sure there will be lots of snide remarks, anti-Trump jokes, and the air will be thick with contemptuous self-satisfaction.  What might not be obvious to the attendees, but what will be blindingly obvious to the rest of us, is that no one who is not crowded into that fetid atmosphere will care. A process of marginalization and emasculation is underway.  If Trump’s second 100 days is as successful as his first 100 days, that process should be essentially complete by the end of the year.

Read the whole thing – and note that in regards to the DNC-MSM’s Trump-as-Hitler meme, as Glenn would say, all is proceeding as Scott Adams has foreseen.

MEGAN MCARDLE: Trump Voters Want Respect. Here’s How to Give It to Them.

After the election, shell-shocked opponents of Donald Trump divided themselves into roughly two camps. The first group wanted to focus on understanding and reaching out to the disaffected white working- and lower-middle class voters who had given Trump his electoral college victory. The second group wanted to focus on resisting Trump; their solution to the Democratic Party’s loss of those voters was, essentially, to wait for them to die off.

As you can probably guess, my sympathies are with the “outreach” folks rather than the “wait for them to die” folks. A strategy of demographically swamping your opponents is more often discussed than delivered, as followers of Israel-Palestine negotiations, Northern Irish politics, or recent American elections can attest. Also, those people are your fellow citizens, and it is not healthy — civically or emotionally — to rest your dreams on the deaths of millions of Americans.

The problem is, smugness and feelings of superiority are the coin in which the gentry liberals pay themselves for their politics.

YOU WANT MORE TRUMP? BECAUSE THIS IS HOW YOU GET MORE TRUMP. Cashman: Flag flap shows reporter’s out in left field. “This is how crazy 2017 has become. The American flag is now, according to one NBC Sports baseball writer, a political statement. Delicate NBC snowflake Craig Calcaterra was triggered Sunday when a giant American flag covered the field at an Atlanta Braves game, with Old Glory gracing the Jumbotrons, and a stirring military flyover to cap it all.”

KOREA, AND MORE KOREA: Well, East Asia is on the edge of war –renewed war, for the Korean War never officially ended. Today on ABC New’s This Week, National Security Adviser H. R. McMaster sent Kim Jong Un a very specific message regarding his military technology.

Hours after North Korea paraded its weaponry and attempted a missile launch, President Trump’s national security adviser said the U.S. leader will not allow Kim Jong Un’s regime to have the capacity to threaten the U.S.

“While it’s unclear and we do not want to telegraph in any way how we’ll respond to certain incidents, it’s clear that the president is determined not to allow this kind of capability to threaten the United States,” Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster told ABC News’ Martha Raddatz in an exclusive interview on “This Week” Sunday. “Our president will take action that is in the best interest of the American people.”

North Korea rolled out ballistic missiles and other weaponry at a huge parade Saturday and later in the day, at 5:21 p.m. ET, made a failed attempt to shoot off a missile, which exploded immediately after launch.

McMaster said the launch “fits a pattern of provocative and destabilizing and threatening behavior on the part of the North Korean regime.”

The article includes a tweet from President Trump: “Why would I call China a currency manipulator when they are working with us on the North Korean problem? We will see what happens!”

Yes, art of the deal meets art of war. China got a taste of that in December 2016.

As for North Korea, McMaster made it clear the U.S. prefers a peaceful solution.

“What (is) particularly difficult about — about dealing with this regime, is that it is unpredictable,” he said. “It’s time for us to undertake all actions we can, short of a military option, to try to resolve this peacefully,” he said.

The Korean War ended with an armistice, not a peace agreement. That’s not an irrelevant point. The Kim regime thinks it can still win.

BUSINESS INSIDER: What ever Trump said to China about North Korea, it seems like it worked.

Well, it’s way too early to tell.

While China has signed onto every UN Security Council resolution against North Korea since 2006, “it has, of course, watered down most if not all of those Security Council resolutions because it has not wanted to agree to sanctions that might create instability in North Korea,” Glaser said. “And if it won’t cause instability, it’s probably not likely to be tough enough to cause Kim Jong Un to rethink his strategy and priorities.”

So while China may have been swayed to act against its own interests by the Trump administration’s military posturing, another more credible threat could have moved the needle.

“I think that [the Chinese] are quite worried about what Trump might do in the area of trade and economics — that’s really credible,” Glaser said.

I suspect Rex Tillerson’s “strategic patience is over” comment and Trump’s retaliation against Syria’s Assad regime helped move Beijing’s needle.

DESPITE ALL THE TALK, TRUMP HASN’T DONE A TINY FRACTION OF WHAT FDR DID: FDR’s War Against the Press.

Like Trump, he feuded with the mainstream media; like Trump, he used a new medium as a direct pipeline to the people. He also used the government’s machinery to suppress unfavorable coverage, a fate we hope to avoid in the age of Trump. . . .

In the 1936 election, Roosevelt claimed that 85 percent of the newspapers were against him. In the standard work on the subject, historian Graham J. White finds that the actual percentage was much lower and the print press generally gave FDR balanced news coverage, but most editorialists and columnists were indeed opposed to the administration. Convinced that the media were out to get him, Roosevelt warned in 1938 that “our newspapers cannot be edited in the interests of the general public, from the counting room. And I wish we could have a national symposium on that question, particularly in relation to the freedom of the press. How many bogies are conjured up by invoking that greatly overworked phrase?”

Roosevelt’s relationship with radio was warmer. The key distinction was that broadcasters operated in an entirely different political context: Thanks to federal rules and administrators, they had to tread much more lightly than newspapers did. At its inception in 1934, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) reduced the license renewal period for stations from three years to only six months. Meanwhile, Roosevelt tapped Herbert L. Pettey as secretary of the FCC (and its predecessor, the Federal Radio Commission). Pettey had overseen radio for Roosevelt in the 1932 campaign. After his appointment, he worked in tandem with the Democratic National Committee to handle “radio matters” with both the networks and local stations.

It did not take long for broadcasters to get the message. NBC, for example, announced that it was limiting broadcasts “contrary to the policies of the United States government.” CBS Vice President Henry A. Bellows said that “no broadcast would be permitted over the Columbia Broadcasting System that in any way was critical of any policy of the Administration.” He elaborated “that the Columbia system was at the disposal of President Roosevelt and his administration and they would permit no broadcast that did not have his approval.” Local station owners and network executives alike took it for granted, as Editor and Publisher observed, that each station had “to dance to Government tunes because it is under Government license.” . . .

Even as he was securing domination of the ether, Roosevelt worked hard to neutralize criticism from the print media. Here he used a combination of manipulation and intimidation. By 1935, the famous Roosevelt charm was much less of a guarantee of success, and his press conferences became increasingly orchestrated. Like Trump, he singled out some reporters who wanted to ask questions and ignored others. Writing for The Washington Post in 1938, Harlan Miller commented that Roosevelt only answered questions which enabled him to “utter an oral editorial.…He selects only those on which he can ring the bell.”

He also gave special access to pro-administration outlets, such as J. David Stern’s Philadelphia Record and Marshall Field’s Chicago Sun. Another Field publication, PM, was probably the closest facsimile to a New Deal Breitbart. In both editorials and news reports, PM repeatedly demonized FDR’s enemies, often comparing them to fascists. These pro–New Deal outlets had a special entrée to top administration officials, who gave them valuable scoops. The collaboration went both ways. In 1942, Field brought an antitrust complaint against the much less Roosevelt-friendly Associated Press.
The Black Committee

Roosevelt’s intimidation efforts reached their apogee in the hands of the Special Senate Committee on Lobbying. The president indirectly recruited Sen. Hugo L. Black (D–Ala.), a zealous and effective New Deal loyalist, as chair. The committee’s original mission was to probe the opposition campaign to the “death sentence” in the Public Utility Holding Company Bill, a provision that would have allowed, under certain circumstances, the dissolution of utility holding companies. The Black Committee gained traction with the public when it brought to light evidence that some lobbyists had concocted thousands of “fake telegrams” sent to Congress to protest the bill. Smelling blood, Black expanded the investigation into a general probe of anti–New Deal voices, including journalists.

The Treasury granted Black access to tax returns dating back to 1925 of such critics as David Lawrence of the United States News. Then he moved to obtain his targets’ private telegrams, demanding that telegraph companies let the committee search copies of all incoming and outgoing telegrams for the first nine months of 1935. When Western Union refused on privacy grounds, the FCC, at Black’s urging, ordered it to comply.

Over a nearly three-month period at the end of 1935, FCC and Black Committee staffers searched great stacks of telegrams in Western Union’s D.C. office. Operating with virtually no restriction, they read the communications of sundry lobbyists, newspaper publishers, and conservative political activists as well as every member of Congress.

Sounds more like Obama than Trump.

Related (From Ed): And then there was that time in 1942, when FDR gave a New York Daily News journalist whose reporting he disagreed with a Nazi Iron Cross medal.

MOLLIE HEMINGWAY: Sorry, Democrats, The Obama Spying Scandal Isn’t Going Away.

But the fact is members of intelligence committees are not perfect about how they handle disclosure of classified information. Schiff has a reputation for lacking discretion, but many other Democratic members would be sure to face problems if mild mention of already public surveillance was cause for censure or oblique denials of FISA warrants. If Republicans wanted to make life difficult for Democrats on the committee, they could. Or as one anonymous official on the committee said, “There is evidence that some Democrats have leaked classified material — both inadvertently and intentionally.”

The House is busy with health care discussions and on a spring break. But Rep. Nunes will continue to dig into the potentially improper handling of information collected on Trump associates. And now he’ll have more time to do so. Those who watched him investigating previous intelligence problems know he is like a dog with a bone when it comes to getting to the bottom of wrongdoing. Whether Democrats agree with Nunes’ decision to go public with the news of the unmasking and dissemination of information about Trump associates, the fact that the public knows about it means that an investigation must continue.

Sorry-not-sorry.

SPEAKING WITH THE PRESIDENT ON BOARD TRUMP FORCE ONE FOR THE CHINA SUMMIT:

“I think what happened in Syria is a disgrace to humanity, and he’s there, and I guess he’s running things, so I guess something should happen.”

“What Assad did is terrible. What happened in Syria is truly one of the egregious crimes and it shouldn’t have happened. And it shouldn’t be allow to happen,” he said, responding “I don’t want to say what I’m going to be doing with respect to Syria” when asked what steps are next.

More from Bridget Johnson at the link.

NICK KRISTOF? My Most Unpopular Idea: Be Nice to Trump Voters.

“I absolutely despise these people,” one woman tweeted at me after I interviewed Trump voters. “Truly the worst of humanity. To hell with every one of them.”

Maybe we all need a little more empathy?

I wrote my last column from Oklahoma, highlighting voters who had supported Trump and now find that he wants to cut programs that had helped them. One woman had recovered from a rape with the help of a women’s center that stands to lose funding, another said that she would sit home and die without a job program facing cutbacks, and so on. Yet every one of them was still behind Trump — and that infuriated my readers.

“I’m just going to say it,” tweeted Bridgette. “I hate these people. They are stupid and selfish. Screw them. Lose your jobs, sit home and die.”

Another: “ALL Trump voters are racist and deplorable. They’ll never vote Democratic. We should never pander to the Trumpites. We’re not a party for racists.”

The torrent of venom was, to me, as misplaced as the support for Trump from struggling Oklahomans. I’m afraid that Trump’s craziness is proving infectious, making Democrats crazy with rage that actually impedes a progressive agenda.

They’re just taking their cue from Hillary “Basket of Deplorables” Clinton.

SHAKEUP: Bannon reportedly threatened to leave White House after NSC shakeup.

Rebekah Mercer, a top Republican donor, had to urge Bannon not to quit after he was removed from his post, sources told Politico. Mercer “tried to convince him that this is a long-term play,” a GOP operative said. Bannon reportedly opposed the change and wanted to quit if the president gave the OK.

“It hasn’t all been fun, and I know he’s been frustrated,” one Republican close to Bannon said.

The White House said that Bannon had not attempted to leave the White House and Bannon added that any indication that he threatened to resign was “total nonsense.”

Bannon’s removal from the National Security Council comes as Jared Kushner’s role in the White House has increased. Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, was recently chosen to lead efforts to cut out bureaucracy from the federal government and visited Iraq in the beginning of the week.

After Kellyanne Conway (and Trump himself), Bannon and Kushner are probably most responsible for Trump’s election, but there seems to be more than a little friction between the two in the White House.

YEAH, WELL HIS SYRIA AND LIBYA POLICIES AREN’T EXACTLY BLOOMING EITHER: Obama’s Asia Pivot Still Bearing Sour Fruit.

Obama’s vision of a multilateral regional coalition appears to be in tatters. President Trump may not mind, as he doesn’t appear to intrinsically value such things anyway. Still, he may find that the kinds of deals he wants in the region would have been easier to come by had his predecessor been more successful.

Well, I think Trump already wishes Obama had been less useless on North Korea.

UPDATE ON LATEST NORTH KOREAN MISSILE TEST: South Korea suspects North Korea’s latest missile launch tested “new technology.”

The South Korean military said the missile was fired from land near the east coast city of Sinpo and flew about 60 kilometers (40 miles). The earlier one in February flew about 500 kilometers (310 miles). Analysts were trying to determine if the shorter distance meant Wednesday’s launch was a failure.

One expert said it could have been a test of a new missile intended as a stepping stone toward developing a solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missile that could reach the U.S. mainland. Kim Dong-yub, an analyst at Seoul’s Institute for Far Eastern Studies, questioned why North Korea would do a shorter launch of the KN-15.

More:

Ralph Cossa, president of the Pacific Forum CSIS think tank in Honolulu, said he was expecting North Korea would do something to coincide with the Trump-Xi summit, perhaps conduct a nuclear test. The missile launch may be a precursor, with more to come as the summit starts Thursday, he said.

“I’ve joked before that they don’t mind being hated but they definitely hate to be ignored,” Cossa said.

Recent satellite imagery shows possible preparations for a test at North Korea’s main nuclear test site, including the laying of communication cables used to initiate a test and collect data.

Diplomatic dealings, U.S.-China:

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson acknowledged the launch in a brief statement but said the U.S. had spoken enough about North Korea and would not comment further.

Trump has said China must do more to pressure North Korea to halt its nuclear program. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Wednesday that all sides needed to be involved.

“If we are serious about solving this issue, we need to tackle the root of it,” she said at a regular news briefing. “We need to balance the interest of each side. China wants to make efforts with all sides involved, to make denuclearization a reality, and ensure peace in the region.”

SecState Tillerson said a lot in March when he said strategic patience with North Korea is over. This essay has a long section discussing the Trump Administration’s policy change vis a vis North Korea. I’ve linked to it several times but it’s history-rich and does help readers understand current events on the Korean peninsula.

WELL, TO BE FAIR, MOST OF LEFTY POLITICS BOILS DOWN TO “SCREW YOU, DAD!The NYT columnist Frank Bruni — in an attack on Trump — attacks manliness.

Would anyone in the NYT attack femininity — in general — the way Bruni attacks masculinity in “Manhood in the Age of Trump”? It would be outright misogyny, and Bruni deserves to be called out for the misandry here.

Much of the column is about his personal struggle as a gay man to deal with his own anxieties about whether he is masculine enough.

That’s personal to him, and not about Trump at all and not about all the other men who are free to experience, express, and enjoy whatever level or version of manliness they want.

Also, as a former food critic you’d expect him to know more about soup.

CBS’S SCOTT PELLEY LOSES A FIGHT RIGGED IN HIS FAVOR: Ever since it was created by Don Hewitt in 1968, CBS’s Sixty Minutes has functioned as a sort of ritual kabuki for its audiences: it made stars of its left-leaning investigative journalists, who would grill the offending conservative politician or businessman of the week. By the mid-’80s, the show’s formula was summed up brilliantly in the classic parodies by Martin Short’s Nathan Thurm character on Saturday Night Live, who would be drenched in sweat and chain-smoking Marlboro 100s by the time he was done attempting to survive the hammering from the crusading journalist on the other side of the desk.

But CBS made its bones during the days when, as Rob Long wrote of NBC’s Johnny Carson, “There were three big channels—and maybe an old movie on one of those fuzzy UHF stations—so if you didn’t like what was on, you were out of luck. Network television didn’t compete with cable channels or Hulu or Amazon Prime. It competed with silence.”

And such lack of competition allowed the networks’ news divisions to create self-contained worlds where they could absolutely control the dialogue, as Walter Cronkite did throughout his career at CBS, while signing off each night “And that’s the way it is.” His successor’s career at CBS ended there with a Sixty Minutes segment…well, we all know how it ended there, right?

Which brings us to CBS’s Scott Pelley and his recent interview with Mike Cernovich, whom Breitbart.com’s Ezra Dulis describes as “a lawyer, independent blogger/author/filmmaker, and a dominant voice on Twitter,” and whom BuzzFeed describes as “a troll.” The latter Website of course is home of the infamous Trump golden showers with Russian hookers story and an editor who believes covering Trump “sometimes…means publishing unverified information in a transparent way that informs our users of its provenance, its impact and why we trust or distrust it.”

Whatever Cernovich’s excesses, assuming this transcript of the full unedited interview is accurate, it’s fascinating much more for what it reveals about Pelley, watched by six and a half million viewers on the CBS Evening News, than for Cernovich. Here’s how the transcript begins:

Scott Pelley: How would you describe what you do?

Mike Cernovich: I’m a lawyer, author, documenter, filmmaker, and journalist.

Scott Pelley: And how would you describe your website?

Mike Cernovich: Edgy, controversial content that goes against the dominant narrative.

Scott Pelley: What’s the dominant narrative?

Mike Cernovich: The dominant narrative is that there are good guys and there are bad guys. The good guys are liberals. Everybody on the right is a bad guy. Let’s find a way to make everybody look bad. Let’s tie marginal figures who have no actual influence to anybody we cannot overwrite. That’s the narrative.

Scott Pelley: That’s not a narrative I’m familiar with. Who’s narrative is that?

In 2008, Pelley compared global warming skeptics to Holocaust deniers. Ben Rhodes, who until January was Obama’s deputy national security advisor, is the brother of CBS News president David Rhodes. John Dickerson, the host of Face the Nation and the “political director” for CBS, wrote an article for Slate in 2013 charmingly titled “Go for the Throat! Why if he wants to transform American politics, Obama must declare war on the Republican Party.” Katie Couric, whom Pelley succeeded as Evening News host, read a poem on her broadcast to shill for the passing of Obamacare, and after leaving CBS had a Rathergate-like moment of her own, attempting to marginalize gun owners.

But back to the transcript of Pelley and Cernovich, where eventually, the hunter is captured by his prey:  

Scott Pelley: You wrote in August a story about Hillary Clinton’s medical condition the headlines said, “Hillary Clinton has Parkinson’s disease. Position confirms.” That’s quite a headline.

Mike Cernovich: Yeah, Dr. Ted Noel had se-sent a story to me anonymously, that I checked out, analyzing her medical condition. And –

Scott Pelley: It isn’t true.

Mike Cernovich: How do you know?

Scott Pelley: Well, she doesn’t seem to have any signs of Parkinson’s disease.

Mike Cernovich: She had a seizure and froze up walking into her motorcade that day caught by a citizen journalist.

Scott Pelley: Did you, well, she had pneumonia. I mean –

Mike Cernovich: How do you know?

Scott Pelley: Well, because that’s what was reported.

Mike Cernovich: By whom? Who told you that?

Scott Pelley: Well, the campaign told us that.

Mike Cernovich: Why would you trust a campaign?

To ask the question is to answer it. In a post headlined “‘Shamefully Stupid’: CBS’s Scott Pelley Loses a Fight Rigged in His Favor,” Breitbart.com’s Ezra Dulis adds in response, “Pelley has no answer for those six words — ‘Why would you trust the campaign’ — as his entire profession goes berserk with literal-minded fact checks for every tweet from President Trump. Pelley also seems to forget the fakery that Clinton World attempted hours before its pneumonia statement — with the candidate smiling and waving outside her daughter’s apartment, greeting a little girl, and assuring reporters everything was a-okay.”

More:

Mike Cernovich: So let’s be, let’s be honest with one another, which is that you are reporting that the Hillary Clinton campaign-

Scott Pelley: I didn’t report that she had Parkinson’s disease.

Mike Cernovich: You just told me she’s healthy though. Based on what was told to you by the campaign. See? That’s what I’m saying about the double standards which is I don’t take anything Hillary Clinton’s going to say at all as true. I’m not going to take her on her word. The media says we’re not going to take Donald Trump on his word. And that’ why we are on these different universes.

Scott Pelley: Why should anyone take you on your word?

Mike Cernovich: Oh, you should always double-check. You should always fact check. And if people don’t agree with me, people express that disagreement, and I’m completely, completely open to criticism.

Insert Glenn Reynolds’ Rathergate-era comments about the positive nature of the Internet being a low-trust environment here. Not to mention Michael Crichton’s Gell-Man Amnesia Effect.

Let’s give Pelley the exit quote: “Well, the benefit of intermediaries is having experienced editors check things out and research people. Check the facts before it goes out to the public. You don’t do any of that.”

Mary Mapes could not be reached for comment.

UPDATE: “Was Pelley not around in 2004?” John Hinderaker asks at Power Line. “Has he forgotten how stupid that refrain sounded then? (‘Layers and layers of fact-checkers’) Does he not realize how false it rings today? We have been here before: the liberal media are in a panic because their authority is being challenged. It must be worse now, though, than it was in 2004. Then, Time’s refrain was a relatively benign ‘Who owns the truth?’ Now, they ask, ‘Is truth dead?’ We can translate: ‘Is the liberal news media monopoly dead?’”

BYRON YORK: Senate committee targets FBI No. 2 in Trump dossier probe.

Sen. Charles Grassley, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has sent a letter to FBI Director James Comey demanding the story behind the FBI’s reported plan to pay the author of a lurid and unsubstantiated dossier on candidate Donald Trump. In particular, Grassley appears to be zeroing in on the FBI’s deputy director, Andrew McCabe, indicating Senate investigators want to learn more about McCabe’s role in a key aspect of the Trump-Russia affair.

Grassley began his investigation after the Washington Post reported on February 28 that the FBI, “a few weeks before the election,” agreed to pay former British spy Christopher Steele to investigate Trump. Prior to that, supporters of the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign had paid Steele to gather intelligence on Clinton’s Republican rival. In the end, the FBI did not pay Steele, the Post reported, after the dossier “became the subject of news stories, congressional inquiries and presidential denials.” It is not clear whether Steele worked under agreement with the FBI for any period of time before the payment deal fell through.

“The idea that the FBI and associates of the Clinton campaign would pay Mr. Steele to investigate the Republican nominee for president in the run-up to the election raises further questions about the FBI’s independence from politics, as well as the Obama administration’s use of law enforcement and intelligence agencies for political ends,” Grassley wrote in a letter to Comey dated March 28.

Raises questions, answers questions, whatever.

ALWAYS BACKUP YOUR DATA: Jonah Goldberg’s laptop has seconds to live as he kicks off his latest G-File:

Dear Reader (particularly any of you women who want to have dinner with me alone, but can’t),

Turn that frown upside down!

Some of you may have noticed that I’ve been in a bit of a funk of late, what with all of the gloominess, snark, and unexplained blood spatters and splatters on my glasses, clothes, car, etc.

Just last week, in this space, while mentioning my dour mood, I asked, “Hey, what’s the emoji for metaphysical dyspepsia and spirit-grinding weltschmerz?”

A bunch of people sent in suggestions, but none really hit the mark. So, the Universe decided to create one for me.

To summarize briefly, last week I was in NYC trying to salvage a little bit of Spring Break for my kid in the wake of all our plans blowing up on account of needing to go to Alaska for my mother-in-law’s funeral. While in the city, I met with the lovely (and understanding and patient and awesome) editor of the book I’m still working on. She needed to know when the final chapters were coming. I said in the next week or so. “I have about 25,000–30,000 words on my computer,” I told her. “I just need to organize it and write a couple thousand more.”

And this is when the Universe saw an opening.

Sensitive readers triggered by past memories of their own hard drive failures and/or accidentally pouring liquids into laptops are warned about reading onward. Though it could be worse, I suppose. As James Lileks once noted after one of his backup sessions, “I remember Anthony Burgess telling a story in an interview: he had finished a book and was heading off to the post office to mail it to his publisher, and a scooter sped by – the fellow on the back grabbed his satchel and they sped off through the Roman traffic. You might doubt the story, since it contains the phrase ‘sped off through the Roman traffic,’ but a scooter can fit between the cars. That was the only copy of his book. So he went home and wrote it again.”

THEY TOLD ME IF TRUMP WERE ELECTED, WEB CENSORSHIP WOULD RUN RAMPANT. AND THEY WERE RIGHT! Alternative facts alert: Proposed legislation bans “fake news.”

The new proposal bars the online publication of a “false or deceptive statement designed to influence the vote.” Bye-bye online news. On the flip side, this legislation would probably outlaw lawmakers’ and candidates’ online speech, too.

The bill is proposed by California Assemblyman Edwin “Ed” Chau, a Democrat representing a section of Southern California. The proposal, which is likely unconstitutional on its face, was supposed to have a committee hearing Tuesday afternoon, but it was pulled at the 11th hour.

The measure does have a laudable goal, however. It’s designed to combat the so-called “fake news” that filled the 2016 election season. Intentions aside, the Electronic Frontier Foundation on Monday began campaigning against the proposal.

“At a time when political leaders are promoting ‘alternative facts’ and branding unflattering reporting as ‘fake news,’ we don’t think it’s a good idea to give the government more power to punish speech,” the EFF said.

Actually, EFF, it’s never a good time to give the government more power to punish speech. Even when a Democrat is in power. You know, like Ed Chau. Or Hillary, who wanted people jailed for making a film that was critical of her, and who did jail a filmmaker when it provided a handy cover story. Making it sound like it’s somehow a Trump related problem in this context is unfair and dishonest.

JAZZ SHAW: Killing that online digital privacy rule will come back to bite the GOP.

We’ll get to the stunningly bad optics of this move in a moment, but it’s first worth keeping in mind how transparently thin the arguments against this rule are. The entire idea of “adding costs and stifling innovation” is laughable on the face of it. We’re talking about a rule which doesn’t impact the amount of data which is available and collected or any of the normal processes involved in providing internet service to customers. It simply forces the provider to proactively obtain the permission of the user (“opting in”) before all of their personal data can be scooped off and auctioned off for marketing and advertising purposes. The fact that virtually no sane person who doesn’t wish to be further bombarded with spam advertising or have their private online activity shipped around with even more chance of it being hacked would ever want to opt in for that tells you all you need to know.

And what data are we talking about? An editorial piece from Motherboard provides some of the chilling details.

Financial and medical information. Social Security numbers. Web browsing history. Mobile app usage. Even the content of your emails and online chats.

These are among the types of private consumer information that House Republicans voted on Tuesday to allow your internet service provider (ISP) to sell to the highest bidder without your permission, prompting outrage from privacy watchdogs.

Unlike Google, Facebook and other so-called “edge providers” (who can already see far too much of your data), the ISPs have direct access to everything that passes through their portals when you are connected to the web. And allowing them to gather all that data up, parse it, package it and sell it to marketers and advertisers is an intrusive nuisance at a minimum and a severe security risk in worst case scenarios.

I don’t find myself agreeing with the Democrats in Congress all that often, but Massachusetts Congressman Michael Capuano asked the correct and not terribly subtle question when he said, “What the heck are you thinking?”

ObamaCare is left untouched, but this the GOP manages to get through?

President Trump is expected to sign the repeal.

Dumb.

JOHN HINDERAKER: Leaked DHS Document Is Another Democratic Party Scandal. “So it appears that what happened here is that Democratic Party activists in the Department of Homeland Security either created a bogus document or dug up a poorly-researched draft document that had never been issued, and fed it to Democratic Party activists at the Associated Press. The Democratic Party activists at the AP published a story based on the anonymous document, which two Democratic Party activists on the bench used as a pretext for orders enjoining the president’s travel order. Those orders should be viewed as purely political acts that have no basis in any valid judicial reasoning or authority.”

The judges who are striking down Trump’s actions because they doubt his adherence to his oath of office are playing a dangerous and unwise game. Their oaths are no more unquestionable, and their branch has neither the sword nor the purse. Do they want to set Trump up to ignore them?

TRY, TRY AGAIN? Affordable Care Act Repeal Is Back on the Agenda, Republicans Say.

Republican members of Congress said they hoped that revisiting the issue would lead this time to a solution and a vote in the House.

“I think everyone wants to get to yes and support President Trump,” said Representative Dave Brat, Republican of Virginia and a Freedom Caucus member. “There is a package in there that is a win-win.”

Representative Raúl Labrador of Idaho, another Freedom Caucus member, said he hoped the discussions would yield a compromise that brings the party together after a divisive debate that revealed deep fissures. “I think we will have a better, stronger product that will unify the conference,” Mr. Labrador said.

The House leadership needs to worry less about what might clear the Senate, and concentrate more on winning passage in the House.

THE ART OF THE DEAL? Trump’s ultimatum: If vote fails, Obamacare stays.

Budget Director Mick Mulvaney has just laid down a gauntlet to House Republicans on behalf of President Trump: pass this bill, or Obamacare remains in place.

Members of the conservative Freedom Caucus want more concessions but, according to Mulvaney, Trump will not negotiate further.

The president demanded a vote tomorrow, and now it appears he will get it. He is all but daring Republicans to vote no.

Nancy Pelosi didn’t allow a final vote on ObamaCare until she knew, privately, that she had enough to win. Is the GOP leadership or caucus that disciplined?

EVERY TIME I THINK I’M OUT THEY PULL ME BACK IN: Iraqi PM Says Trump Administration ‘Wants to be More Engaged’ in Region.

We’ll almost certainly need to be, with Iran uncaged and the longterm decline in oil prices both promising fresh chaos.

ASTROTURF? Republican green groups seek to temper Trump on climate change.

President Donald Trump’s outspoken doubts about climate change and his administration’s efforts to roll back regulation to combat it have stirred a sleepy faction in U.S. politics: the Republican environmental movement.

The various groups represent conservatives, Catholics and the younger generation of Republicans who, unlike Trump, not only recognize the science of climate change but want to see their party wrest the initiative from Democrats and lead efforts to combat global warming.

Conservative green groups such as ConservAmerica and republicEn, along with politically neutral religious groups such as Catholic Climate Covenant and bipartisan groups such as the Citizens Climate Lobby, have ramped up efforts to recruit more congressional Republicans to work on addressing climate change since Trump’s election.

There doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of there-there to this story, but I’m amazed that anything containing that second graf could be placed as straight news instead of on the op-ed page.

ELI LAKE: The Resistance Cheers Tactics Trump Will Likely Use Against Them.

The risk of normalization is particularly acute when it comes to selectively disclosing details of conversations monitored by U.S. intelligence agencies, such as the leaks that forced Flynn to resign last month. Such leaks violate the public’s trust in government eavesdroppers to not abuse their power to advance a political agenda.

This is why there are strict laws prohibiting the public disclosure of wiretap information. It’s why the intelligence community is supposed to take great pains not to distribute the names of American citizens who are caught up in surveillance of foreign targets widely within the government. It’s why the House Intelligence Committee is now investigating how many times the identities of U.S. citizens were unmasked in intelligence reports in the last six months of the Obama administration.

Tim Edgar, who served in Obama’s first term as the director of privacy and civil liberties at the White House, told me that it’s a mistake to conflate leaks of government-monitored communications with leaks designed to expose government wrongdoing or corruption. “J. Edgar Hoover was a prolific leaker, the Nixon White House leaked information, including information about its opponents from surveillance,” he said. “You may care somewhat if the government has intercepted your call, but you care more if they are using that information against you in some way.”

Edgar, who is now a professor in law and public policy at Brown University, is worried that the anti-Trump forces are not seeing the danger. “My message to the resistance is that you have to be careful,” he said. “These laws exist to protect all of us and our constitutional rights, and there is a difference between leaking the contents of surveillance transcripts and whistle blowing involving questionable government policy.”

In this sense, the resistance is fashioning a rod for its back. Democrats rightly howled when it was leaked that the FBI had wanted to investigate the Clinton Foundation but was stymied by the Justice Department in the run-up to the election. Trump will now have access to all kinds of damaging information on Democratic politicians. What is to stop him from selectively leaking monitored communications against the resistance?

Ideally, the rest of Washington would stop him. We don’t do that kind of thing in America. This is what police states do. But these norms are only effective if they are observed with consistency.

Deep-sixing norms is what lefties do.

SOMEBODY NEEDS TO BE: Trump’s Supreme Court Nominee Skeptical Of Federal Agency Power.

In some of his dissenting and concurring opinions on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, he has called for reconsideration of the Chevron decision.

It is one of the ways in which he is more conservative than the justice he has been nominated to succeed, the late Antonin Scalia. Scalia was generally an advocate of Chevron deference to agencies — his view was that agencies are at least politically accountable, whereas judges are not.

But Chevron “cuts both ways,” as professor Jonathan Adler of Case Western Reserve University School of Law points out.

“An agency might want Chevron deference when it wants to regulate more, but under the Trump administration, agencies will want to claim Chevron deference when they’re trying to deregulate,” Adler says.

Many Gorsuch defenders argue that having someone on the Supreme Court who is less deferential to agencies should reassure those who don’t trust the Trump administration.

It would be “harder” for a Trump administration to get its way if there were no Supreme Court decision requiring the courts to defer to the agencies, says Jeffrey Pojanowski, professor at Notre Dame Law School.

Senate Democrats are being given all kinds of outs to let this nomination roll through.

WELL, IT WAS THE HOME OF WALTER DURANTY, AFTER ALL. The Grey Lady Soft Pedals Richard Falk.

The United Nations has released a report accusing Israel of practicing “apartheid”, the The New York Times reports. . . . In blithely describing him only as someone “critics” have accused of bias, the Times fails to report that the author of the report, Richard Falk, is a 9/11 Truther with a deeply-felt animus toward Israel. . . . In no sense can Falk be called an impartial or fair minded writer. The Times can and should do better than paying lip service to unnamed “critics”.

Here at Via Meadia, we’re used to this crazy UN stuff. Our core criticism isn’t of predictable haters commissioning a predictable hit job, but of the NYT for failing to give its readers a clear understanding of just who it was who produced this piece. The Times‘ incomplete account also makes top UN officials’ response to the apartheid accusation look weak and potentially irresponsible rather than principled. . . .

Falk’s bias and animus are well known at the UN, and UN officials—who know much more about this than the Times decided to share with its readers—understood that this report was an ugly piece of junk and had no desire to be associated with it in any way. This probably wasn’t about appeasing Trump or Israel, but about a sense of professionalism and due caution asserting themselves.

What the Grey Lady’s readers won’t know due to the horrible framing is that what we have here is actually a good news story about the UN: a number of people in the organization have wised up to Richard Falk and want nothing to do with him. Instances of integrity and objectivity at the UN aren’t so common that they should be passed over in silence; the Times’ readers deserve to know that the long process of reform at the UN actually shows some occasional signs of being successful.

Now if we can just get some reform at the New York Times.

HAVEN’T YOU HEARD? THIN IS IN: Trump’s Ridiculously Skinny Budget.

In order to offset a proposed $54 billion bump in defense spending, the administration wants to take a chunk out of most other federal agencies, often in the most cartoonishly villainous ways possible. Eliminating the Corporation for Public Broadcasting? Check. The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which helps people pay their heating bills? Gone. The Chemical Safety Board, which investigates chemical accidents at federal facilities? See ya.

But those sort of programs amount to rounding errors in the context of the federal budget. The big proposed hits are to the State Department (nearly 30 percent), Environmental Protection Agency (31 percent), Agriculture Department (21 percent) and Department of Labor (20 percent).

And again, this is all to fund a 10 percent increase for the Pentagon, not even to reduce the precious deficit that conservatives always pretend to be worried about.

Longterm, entitlement spending is going to break us, and it’s a pity that Trump hasn’t shown any more guts on entitlement reform than any of his predecessors. But as for the rest, “elections have consequences.”

OVERRULED: Judge Blocks Second Travel Order; Trump Slams ‘Judicial Overreach’

The ruling, granting a request for a temporary restraining order by the state of Hawaii and Ismail Elshikh, stalls the president’s second attempt to suspend admission of nearly all refugees for 120 days and to restrict visas for nationals from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen for 90 days.

U.S. District Judge Derrick Watson, who said the restraining order applies nationwide, said Trump’s travel order was religiously discriminatory.

In an appearance Wednesday night in Nashville, Tennessee, Trump denounced the ruling as “an unprecedented judicial overreach” and said his administration would pursue the case all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary.

“We’re talking about the safety of our nation, the safety and security of our people,” he said, adding: “This ruling makes us look weak.”

Sarah Isgur Flores, a spokeswoman for the Justice Department, called Watson’s ruling “flawed both in reasoning and in scope,” saying Trump’s travel order “falls squarely within his lawful authority in seeking to protect our nation’s security.”

Mollie Hemingway has more:

Trump said the temporary travel restriction was needed for national security. In issuing his temporary restraining order, Watson said Trump’s order was a result of nothing more than religious animus against Muslims. The judge’s order is predicated on what he thinks Trump wants to do, not the order itself.

Throughout the ruling, Judge Watson concedes there’s nothing about the executive order that would be problematic if not for his interpretation of Trump’s statements made in the months and years prior to issuing it. He repeatedly states his feeling that Trump had a bad motive in issuing the order.

Judges using campaign rhetoric to infer intent instead of plainly evaluating the law as written is a dangerous development. Also because the public can witness the selective use of this trick, it undermines confidence in the judiciary at a time when the judiciary can’t afford too much erosion of trust.

“Feelings” isn’t even a good song, much less a sound basis for overturning a legal executive order.

SPOILER ALERT: “The documents were phony.”

In the third week of January, an Israeli named Yoni Ariel flew from Tel Aviv to Rome carrying $9,000 in cash on a secret mission to bring down Donald Trump.

There, he met with an Italian businessman. Seated at a table toward the rear of a café, away from the street where they might attract unwanted attention, Ariel recalled, he handed over the cash. In exchange he was given a copy of a potentially explosive set of documents.

Its 35 pages told the story of a $1.6 billion wire transfer from petroleum giant ExxonMobil to a European office of a Chinese mining company, which a day later transferred 1.4 billion euros to the Trump Organization, the privately held conglomerate founded by President Trump.

The transfers appeared to have taken place in mid-June, at the exact same time that Exxon’s then chief executive, Rex Tillerson, was in St. Petersburg at an economic forum, which Russian President Vladimir Putin also attended. Less than six months later, President-elect Trump — victor in an election that the US intelligence community said the Russian government had interfered with — nominated Tillerson to be his secretary of state.

To Ariel, who is married to an American and calls Russia’s tampering in the elections “an act of war,” the implications of these billion-dollar transfers were clear: Exxon had secretly bribed Trump to name Tillerson to the powerful cabinet post.

Just a taste more:

Not long after Trump won the election, Schorer, the former spokesman for Democrats Abroad Israel, told Ariel about the alleged Exxon payments and the documents that supposedly provide proof.

Ariel, intrigued, decided he would need help paying for trips to Rome to acquire the documents and also with authenticating them. A string of contacts, including the chairman of Democrats Abroad France, and a former Democratic National Committee operative in Washington, DC, eventually led Ariel to Brett Kimberlin, a left-wing political activist who is also notorious as a felon convicted of setting off bombs in the American heartland.

This is the same Brett Kimberlin who during the 1988 election claimed to have sold pot to Dan Quayle — attempted meddling in presidential elections seems to be something of a sideline for him.

Read the whole thing, but even at the end we still have no clue who forged the Exxon documents, or why they did just an obviously phony job of it.

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

“Oh shut up” is now my preferred response to “Everything is racist.”

SALENA ZITO: Love and hate in Ohio.

“People immediately think, because you live in a town that is flat on its back, that you want to leave and, if you don’t, your lack of mobility is a sign of ignorance or ambition,” Hays says as she tidies up Froehlich’s Casual Corner, the restaurant she manages, after the lunch crowd clears out.

“Maybe people stay because they love where they live. Sometimes they leave, but most find their way back – they almost always come back. I did.”

Hays is one of those white working-class Rust Belt voters who did not vote for Trump. The 39-year-old mother of a six-year-old boy looks more like a twenty-something with her long blond hair pulled in a loose ponytail and her fresh-faced expression.

People just check off a box and typecast folks when they find out where they are from or what they do, she thinks: “It is one of the things that really bothers me about the perception people outside of towns like this have about towns like this. Honestly, stereotypes are a lazy analysis.”

Pop culture has become as harsh as national politics in its treatment of folks from the country’s interior, she says.

“Our politics has to become more personal, more decent, more connected to the people. So does our media and entertainment,” Hays says. “You don’t have to be a fan of the president to feel just as looked-down-upon for your values.”

I’d wager that Hays — and many, many more like her — will become a Trump supporter in time for the next election.

And the self-styled elite in Washington, New York, and Hollywood will have no one to blame but themselves.

SCOTT ADAMS: Income Inequality:

What happened is that candidate Trump persuaded us that immigration was a big problem. And in so doing, he pushed the issue of income inequality off the page. Do you remember the last time you saw CNN obsessing about income inequality? I thought it was the public’s biggest issue two years ago. Did it just sort of stop being one?

No, President Trump is in our heads. He told us what our priorities were and we accepted it, even if we hated his plans. Some people think is it a priority to get tougher on immigration, some think the opposite. But we all agree the issue is important.

If you had asked me in 2014 to list my country’s top 10 problems, immigration would not have been on the list. Now it’s usually at the top of the news. Trump did that. And by doing it he showed us a level of leadership that I have never seen in my lifetime. Even if you don’t like where he is leading us.

But here’s the interesting part. If you want to address income inequality, what is one of the best ways to do it? Answer: Limit immigration. That means higher wages for American citizens and lower profits for the top 1% who want cheap labor.

I saw a factoid yesterday that illegal immigration from Mexico is way down lately, presumably in anticipation of the Trump administration being tough. That’s an indicator of rising wages to come. I suppose the top 1% can pass along the higher costs to some extent. But the jobless guy who gets a job won’t be too unhappy that his food is 10% more expensive. He still comes out ahead. And if the employer gets a Trump tax cut, she doesn’t need to pass along as much of the higher wage expense to consumers.

Speaking of jobs, if Trump’s job-creation hype evolves from anecdotal to real, that’s a great way to reduce income inequality too. As I have often said, economies run on psychology, and Trump is a master of psychology. He proved that already by injecting enough optimism into the system that it goosed the stock market, and business confidence in general. That should translate into more investments and a better economy.

The Trump administration also recently tightened their connection to historically black colleges to see how they can help. The best way to reduce income inequality is to address the hardest cases first, to get the most bang for the buck. And the African-American community is coming from the deepest hole. We see no results there yet, but the move makes sense from the perspective of addressing income inequality.

Well, it’s not how Bernie Sanders would do it. Which means it has a chance of working.

MICHAEL TOTTEN: Brace Yourself for a New Cold War.

Trump said last September that he loves WikiLeaks, forgetting everything he ever knew about the rogue outfit. (Someone should ask him what he thinks of WikiLeaks dumping a trove of classified material onto the Internet supposedly revealing how the CIA spies on people all over the world through their smart phones.) Its founder Julian Assange is emphatically not a Republican operative. WikiLeaks has spent its entire existence waging geopolitical warfare against the United States, mostly on behalf of itself, but partly on behalf of the Russians and everyone else in the world who wants to pull down the American “empire.” Like the Russians, Assange trained his fire on Clinton not because he likes the Republicans but because the Democratic Party includes roughly half the elected officials in the United States and presumably would have included the next president of the United States.

Assange and Putin hoped to kneecap the incoming president before she could even get started.

Their hostility toward the United States in general isn’t obvious to everyone in this country. Putin’s approval rating actually increased during the last year among Trump’s most die-hard supporters. The rest of us, though—and the rest of us still includes most Republicans—are reacting against Russian malfeasance more strongly than we have at any time since the Berlin Wall fell.

That reaction is blowing up in the Trump administration’s face, but the president can turn it around by taking an unambiguously hawkish stance against Russia. Putin, meanwhile, can’t do anything to recover his reputation in the United States.

Read the whole thing.

AVIK ROY: House GOP’s Obamacare Replacement Will Make Coverage Unaffordable For Millions — Otherwise, It’s Great.

Unfortunately, the AHCA’s efforts at replacing Obamacare’s health insurance exchanges are problematic. A key limitation is that Republicans have decided to repeal and replace Obamacare on a party-line vote using the Senate’s reconciliation process. But reconciliation can only repeal Obamacare’s taxes and spending; it can’t replace most of the law’s premium-hiking insurance regulations.

The AHCA does make an effort to repeal Obamacare’s two costliest regulations: its requirement that plans charge similar premiums to the young and the old (age-based community rating); and its requirement that plans contain generous financial payouts (high actuarial value). So far, so good.

But the plan, due to the reconciliation process, appears to leave the vast majority of Obamacare’s regulations in place. The February 10 leaked draft contained language that would have returned control of essential health benefits to the states. That language appears to have been deleted.

Worse still, the bill contains an arbitrary “continuous coverage” provision, in which those who sign up for coverage outside of the normal open enrollment period would pay a 30 percent surcharge to the normal insurance premium. This surcharge is an arbitrary price control. While 30 percent represents an approximate average of the additional health risk of late enrollees, the 30 percent provision incentivizes those who face much higher costs to sign up, forcing insurers to cover them at a loss. This seems like a recipe for adverse selection death spirals.

The critical mistake of the AHCA is its insistence on flat, non-means-tested tax credits. The flat credit will price many poor and vulnerable people out of the health insurance market.

As I wrote last month, the AHCA creates a steep benefit cliff between those on Medicaid (subsidizing approximately $6,000 per patient per year), and those just above the poverty line who will get tax credits of about $3,000. People just below poverty will be strongly disincentivized to make more money, effectively trapping them in poverty.

You want to lose your majority? Because this is how you lose your majority.

But here’s what Trump said this morning:

This is more cause for hope than Philip Klein’s take earlier today, but remain wary of Congress ever getting to Phase Two after they can safely claim to have “done something” about ObamaCare.

I’M GUESSING SCOTT ADAMS WOULD UNDERSTAND: What if Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton Had Swapped Genders? A restaging of the presidential debates with an actress playing Trump and an actor playing Clinton yielded surprising results.

Many were shocked to find that they couldn’t seem to find in Jonathan Gordon what they had admired in Hillary Clinton—or that Brenda King’s clever tactics seemed to shine in moments where they’d remembered Donald Trump flailing or lashing out. For those Clinton voters trying to make sense of the loss, it was by turns bewildering and instructive, raising as many questions about gender performance and effects of sexism as it answered. . . .

We heard a lot of “now I understand how this happened”—meaning how Trump won the election. People got upset. There was a guy two rows in front of me who was literally holding his head in his hands, and the person with him was rubbing his back. The simplicity of Trump’s message became easier for people to hear when it was coming from a woman—that was a theme. One person said, “I’m just so struck by how precise Trump’s technique is.” Another—a musical theater composer, actually—said that Trump created “hummable lyrics,” while Clinton talked a lot, and everything she was was true and factual, but there was no “hook” to it. Another theme was about not liking either candidate—you know, “I wouldn’t vote for either one.” Someone said that Jonathan Gordon [the male Hillary Clinton] was “really punchable” because of all the smiling. And a lot of people were just very surprised by the way it upended their expectations about what they thought they would feel or experience. There was someone who described Brenda King [the female Donald Trump] as his Jewish aunt who would take care of him, even though he might not like his aunt. Someone else described her as the middle school principal who you don’t like, but you know is doing good things for you. . . .

I remember turning to Maria at one point in the rehearsals and saying, “I kind of want to have a beer with her!” The majority of my extended family voted for Trump. In some ways, I developed empathy for people who voted for him by doing this project, which is not what I was expecting. I expected it to make me more angry at them, but it gave me an understanding of what they might have heard or experienced when he spoke.

So switching genders basically allowed Democrats to see clearly.

TOM SHATTUCK: For Obama, spying is nothing new.

In what has already been a historically bad year for Democrats, it just may be that they’re about to lose again to Donald Trump, this time in a high-stakes game of Russian roulette.

The Dems’ Putin smear was supposed to paint President Trump as a friend of the tyrant and beneficiary of Russian meddling in the election. Instead, it is the standard-bearer of the Democratic Party, former President Barack Obama, who may take the fall.

Snooping on a presidential candidate is serious business.

The Democrats want you to think this is a crazy conspiracy theory for an unhinged tweeting president.

But Obama has a rich legacy of using the federal government as a political weapon and it would be foolish to think he suddenly started restraining himself, when he was never held to account by either the media or Democrats in power.

Remember, Obama’s Justice Department secretly subpoenaed the private phone records of Associated Press editors and reporters. It was pure spying.

Yeah, it’s not like the charges are out of character for Obama.

UPDATE: Stephen Hayes:

Even if Trump’s tweets were irresponsible—based only on media reports— Democrats and many journalists have treated the substance of the claims themselves as utterly inconceivable. Is it?

It’s the Obama Rorschach test. When Valerie Jarrett claimed shortly before the end of the Obama presidency that he’d had a “scandal free” eight years, most Democrats and journalists nodded their heads and most conservatives howled with a combination of laughter and frustration. To the extent that they paid attention to them at all, for journalists, the Obama scandals were minor footnotes to a much happier story of the Obama presidency. But for conservatives they were not just part of the story but key drivers of the narrative.

The Obama Department of Justice targeted James Rosen of Fox News as a possible “criminal co-conspirator” in a leak investigation and seized phone records of AP reporters and editors in 2013. The IRS under Barack Obama systematically targeted the president’s political opponents.

And there are numerous examples of the Obama administration and the intelligence leaders loyal to the president politicizing intelligence. In collaboration with the Obama White House, CIA Director John Brennan and DNI James Clapper worked for more than five years to keep the documents captured in the Osama bin Laden raid from public view. (See here and here for the exhaustive details). During the heated debate over the Iran Deal, Clapper’s office rewrote the threat assessment on Iran to downplay Iran’s involvement in transnational terror.

Beyond that, we know that several high-ranking Obama administration officials were caught lying about the details of the Benghazi attacks in the weeks before the 2012 presidential election—and for several years after. . . .

Both sides are citing Clapper as the final word on the parts of the interview that support their case. He should not be considered the final word on anything. In addition to his involvement in the bin Laden documents cover-up and his office’s rewriting of the Iran threat assessment, Clapper was caught misleading Congress.

We won’t know the full truth about all of this anytime soon. And even as we see bits of the truth revealed will we—will the country—recognize it? Or will Democrats believe their Democrat truth and Republicans believe their Republican truth? There is reason for concern.

Well, yes. Yes there is.

HOOLIGAN VIOLENCE AS A SPECTATOR SPORT: This is a Instapundit Two-fer, the Associated Press and Russia, two suspect sources in one!

A Russian pol is proposing that “Soccer hooliganism” be made a spectator sport. And the AP –ever in search of click bait — is reporting it. I’d say “you can’t make this stuff up” but of course you could manufacture it. In fact, cable tv more or less treats hooligan violence as a sport, at least when Red Fascists beat up conservatives.

A Russian lawmaker has proposed an unorthodox solution to the country’s problems with soccer hooliganism ahead of next year’s World Cup – legalize it and make it a spectator sport.

The Rooski dude’s raison d’etre for staging gang fights as a sport:

Organized groups of Russian fans, many with martial arts training, fought English fans on the streets of Marseille during last year’s European Championship.

Better Than Snopes and The Washington Post Fact Check: This is sensationalist spout-off that approaches fake news.

Like, who in the heck is dumb enough to square off with British football rowdies?…Oh, wait…Russian football rowdies…

Actually, the Russian politico could be a cable tv producer. He wants to stage a “draka,” the Russian word for fight.

“…20 fighters on each side, unarmed, in an arena.”

Hold it. I’m being too hard on this guy. If he’d ginned up this concept six months ago Obama would’ve wiretapped him. By exhibiting showmanship of this caliber ole Barack would’ve been convinced he got the idea from Trump.

This is what Hollywood calls blockbuster concept. We all know what’ll happen. The Russians will stack their rowdies with Spetsnaz and the Brits will stack their rowdies with Special Air Service (SAS) commandos. War would once again become a contest of tribal champions. Stay tuned!

RELATED: The SAS recruits a dozen Gurkas. This gives the Brits a “draka” edge, in my opinion.

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER: It’s Not the ‘Deep State,’ It’s ‘Revenge of the Losers.’

I don’t think there is any question that the former president was intent on leaving behind landmines. And you are right, the NSA stuff is curious. Normally, when NSA is listening in on a foreigner, they take great care to redact any American involved. The NSA is not supposed to spy on Americans. Here it was the reverse, and there was an obvious attempt as was reported in the New York Times to make sure that this was spread as widely as possible, that it would become a problem for the Trump administration. I wouldn’t call it the “deep state,” it gives it a le Carré feel that there is this ominous enemy of the United States hidden in bureaucracy. What this is, is the revenge of the losers. These are people who wanted to make trouble for an administration of a guy who they thought wasn’t going to win and shouldn’t have won, and to see what happens. That is what I think is going on. To some extent, it has happened in other administrations. But I think it’s more obvious and we are going to get to the bottom of it, because there are going to be a lot of investigations.

We need a special prosecutor to sort this out.

IT DOESN’T MATTER, IT’S ABOUT DELEGITIMIZING HIM, AND TRUMP: Did Sessions Commit Perjury? Let’s Talk It Out.

Now, I don’t know whether Sessions has been in contact with Russian officials or not about the election; neither the senator nor Kislyak have chosen to confide this information to me. But let’s assume for the nonce that he wasn’t. Was his response to Patrick Leahy’s letter reasonable? Eminently. It is reasonable even if, in the course of a meeting on some other topic, the ambassador idly asked how the campaign was going.

Sessions was an early Trump surrogate, and it would have been unsurprising for the ambassador to ask about the race in passing; if Sessions then replied with campaign boilerplate little different from what he was saying in public, that is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a meaningful contact with a foreign power. Anyone at the Kremlin could have gotten the same information by turning on CNN.

But what about the exchange with Franken? This was what really seemed to seize the imaginations of Twitter this morning, where cries of “perjury” were flying left and right. Well, OK, mostly left, actually. I don’t think, however, that those charges are going to stick.

Franken offered a lengthy preamble suggesting that the Trump campaign had been exchanging information with the Russians, then asked him what he’d do if there was information that someone in the Trump campaign had communicated with the Russians. In the time-honored tradition of congressional hearings, Sessions said he hadn’t had any such communications, had no knowledge of such communications, and therefore wouldn’t speculate about the hypothetical.

If you read the latter part of this exchange extremely strictly, chopping off the preamble, then you can argue that Sessions was technically untruthful. The problem is that this is not how verbal communication works. The left is attempting to hold the attorney general to a standard of precision that is appropriate for written communication, where we can reflect on preceding context and choose exactly the right word.

Oral language is much looser, because it’s real time. Real time means that we don’t have 20 minutes to puzzle over the exact phrasing that will best communicate our meaning. (For example: Reading this column aloud will take you perhaps five minutes. It took me nearly that many hours to write.) On the other hand, our audience is right there, and can ask for clarification if they are confused.

Demanding extreme clarity from an oral exchange is unreasonable. Moreover, everyone understands that this is unreasonable — except, possibly, for the chattering classes, who spend their lives so thoroughly marinated in the written word that they come to think that the two spheres are supposed to be identical.

Well, also the chattering classes hate Trump and Sessions. Now if you want to judge Sessions the way the chattering classes judged Obama, Eric Holder, and Loretta Lynch . . . .

WHY IS THE DEMOCRATS’ CONGRESSIONAL DELEGATION SUCH A CESSPIT OF HATRED AND MISOGYNY? Richmond Under Fire for Correspondents Dinner Comments: Accused of sexually inappropriate remarks about Kellyanne Conway.

Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-La., is facing heavy criticism for making what some perceived as sexually inappropriate jokes about Kellyanne Conway.

During the Washington Press Club Foundation’s annual congressional dinner, Richmond commented about a recent photo showing Conway, who serves as counselor to President Donald Trump, kneeling on a couch in the Oval Office.

Earlier in the evening, Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., joked that the couch had seen more sordid action during the 1990s, alluding to President Bill Clinton’s sexual impropriety in the Oval Office.

“I really just want to know what was going on there, because, you know, I won’t tell anybody,” Richmond remarked. “And you can just explain to me that circumstance — because she really looked kind of familiar in that position there. Don’t answer — and I don’t want you to refer back to the 1990s.”

Richmond, who is chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, for his part said in a statement that his remarks weren’t sexual.

“Where I grew up saying that someone is looking or acting ‘familiar’ simply means that they are behaving too comfortably,” the Washington Post reported he said in a statement.

But UltraViolet, a liberal women’s group, criticized Richmond’s comments — despite the fact the group acknowledged it disagrees with “just about everything” Conway does or says.

“No woman deserves to be treated the way Congressman Richmond treated Conway,” a statement from UltraViolet said.

Well, she’s a Republican woman, so . . .

THE IMMIGRATION DEBATE WE NEED:

Changes in social policy do not make everyone better off, and immigration policy is no exception. I am a refugee, having fled Cuba as a child in 1962. Not only do I have great sympathy for the immigrant’s desire to build a better life, I am also living proof that immigration policy can benefit some people enormously.

But I am also an economist, and am very much aware of the many trade-offs involved. Inevitably, immigration does not improve everyone’s well-being. There are winners and losers, and we will need to choose among difficult options. The improved lives of the immigrants come at a price. How much of a price are the American people willing to pay, and exactly who will pay it?

This tension permeates the debate over immigration’s effect on the labor market. Those who want more immigration claim that immigrants do jobs that native-born Americans do not want to do. But we all know that the price of gas goes down when the supply of oil goes up. The laws of supply and demand do not evaporate when we talk about the price of labor rather than the price of gas. By now, the well-documented abuses of the H-1B program, such as the Disney workers who had to train their foreign-born replacements, should have obliterated the notion that immigration does not harm competing native workers.

Over the past 30 years, a large fraction of immigrants, nearly a third, were high school dropouts, so the incumbent low-skill work force formed the core group of Americans who paid the price for the influx of millions of workers. Their wages fell as much as 6 percent. Those low-skill Americans included many native-born blacks and Hispanics, as well as earlier waves of immigrants.

Expect Trump to stress that. A friend posted this story on Facebook and lamented that since Trump, the immigration debate has turned into one giant virtue-signal. But I think the virtue-signaling brought us Trump, not the other way around.

THE DEMOCRATS WHO DON’T DARE FACE VOTERS AT TOWN HALLS:

Recent weeks have seen a flood of media reports on Republicans facing angry constituents at town-hall meetings, so it’s nice to see the Associated Press point out that many Democrats have been dodging town halls altogether.

Specifically, AP’s Steve Peoples notes that Senate Democrats up for re-election in states that President Trump carried on Election Day just don’t want to show up.

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), for one, sent a staff member rather than attend a Kansas City town hall last weekend. She will chat with voters this week via Facebook Live — a much more controlled environment, where angry mass shouting isn’t an option.

Sens. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) have also dodged town-hall gatherings, the AP reports — opting instead for teleconferences, e-mail surveys and speeches. . . .

The reasons are obvious: McCaskill, Manchin and the rest just don’t want to be pushed into any corners. They don’t dare stare down the left, or they risk facing primary challenges.

But they also can’t promise too much to these voters — for fear of angering the majority in these Trump states.

Confidence!

WHO CAN ARGUE WITH SCIENCE? Hundreds of scientists urge Trump to withdraw from U.N. climate-change agency.

More than 300 scientists have urged President Trump to withdraw from the U.N.’s climate change agency, warning that its push to curtail carbon dioxide threatens to exacerbate poverty without improving the environment.

In a Thursday letter to the president, MIT professor emeritus Richard Lindzen called on the United States and other nations to “change course on an outdated international agreement that targets minor greenhouse gases,” starting with carbon dioxide.

“Since 2009, the US and other governments have undertaken actions with respect to global climate that are not scientifically justified and that already have, and will continue to cause serious social and economic harm — with no environmental benefits,” said Mr. Lindzen, a prominent atmospheric physicist.

Signers of the attached petition include the U.S. and international atmospheric scientists, meteorologists, physicists, professors and others taking issue with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change [UNFCCC], which was formed in 1992 to combat “dangerous” climate change.

The 2016 Paris climate accord, which sets nonbinding emissions goals for nations, was drawn up under the auspices of the UNFCCC.

“Observations since the UNFCCC was written 25 years ago show that warming from increased atmospheric CO2 will be benign — much less than initial model predictions,” says the petition.

I guess the science is settled. You don’t want to be anti-science, do you?

WALTER RUSSELL MEAD HARSHES THE NARRATIVE: Trump Isn’t Sounding Like a Russian Mole: Trump’s core global strategy is intended to destroy any illusions in Moscow that Russia is a peer competitor of Washington’s.

A Trump administration is going to be four years of hell for Russia: a massive American doubling down on shale production along with a major military buildup. Trump is, in other words, a nightmare for Putin and a much, much bigger threat to Putin’s goals than President Obama ever was or wanted to be.

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

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

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

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

This foolishness is best understood as an unreasoning panic attack. The liberal media hate Trump more than they have hated any American politician in a generation, and they do not understand his supporters or the sources of his appeal. They are frantically picking up every available stick to beat him, in the hopes that something, somehow, will Miloize him.

So blind does hatred make them that they cannot understand how their own behavior is driving American public opinion in directions that bode ill for liberals in the future. In the first place, suppose Donald Trump does not in fact turn out to be the second coming of Benedict Arnold. Suppose instead, as is much more likely, that he turns out to be a very hawkish president, one who quite possibly will make George W. Bush look like Jimmy Carter. The media and Democratic Party leaders will have staked huge amounts of credibility on a position that turns out to be laughably untrue. Six months or a year from now, they will have to flip from calling Trump an anti-American traitor and Russian plant to calling him a dangerous, fascistic ultranationalist whose relentless hawkishness is bringing us closer to World War Three.

The press and the Democrats — but I repeat myself — will make that flip without a moment’s hesitation or acknowledgment.

Plus: “The media wants to cast Trump as both Neville Chamberlain and Adolf Hitler; but you can’t give the Sudetenland to yourself.”

ASHE SCHOW: Due process defenders back Education Department critic to lead Office for Civil Rights.

Critics and supporters alike are wondering who might be the next person to lead the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights, which has overseen in recent years an expansion of responsibilities related to campus sexual assault.

One name being pushed as a nominee is Gail Heriot, a law professor at the University of San Diego and a member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. Heriot has been a critic of OCR’s overreach, even joining fellow Civil Rights commission member Peter Kirsanow in writing a letter to Congress opposing a budget increase for the department.

“[W]e have noticed a disturbing pattern of disregard for the rule of law at OCR,” the two wrote in the letter. “That office has all-too-often been willing to define perfectly legal conduct as unlawful.”

Heriot and Kirsanow added that OCR was only “under-funded” because it had given itself additional responsibilities. “Increasing OCR’s budget would in effect reward the agency for frequently over-stepping the law. It also would provide OCR with additional resources to undertake more ill-considered initiatives for which it lacks authority,” they wrote.

Heriot and Kirsanow argued that OCR’s 2011 “Dear Colleague” letter, which greatly expanded the office’s role in combating an alleged epidemic of campus sexual assault, created a dangerous situation for accused students by requiring schools to adopt a low “preponderance of evidence” standard.

“[G]iven the importance of safeguarding the rights of accused students, the ‘clear and convincing’ standard would seem to be the more appropriate one in at least some situations,” the two wrote.

A group dedicated to the rights of accused students sent a letter to the Trump transition team after the election in support of Heriot to lead OCR. The letter, written by a group called Stop Abusive and Violent Environments (SAVE), was sent with more than 240 signatures supporting Heriot and was published last week.

Although I’ve pushed Robert Shibley of FIRE for this position, I’d also be quite happy with Gail Heriot.

GEORGE NEUMAYR: Trump Is Beating The Media At Its Own Game: The left’s own politics by shorthand is now being turned against it.

Whenever editors say that they refuse to acknowledge “two sides” on such matters as “marriage equality” or Darwinism or climate change, they are paying homage to Lenin’s devious politics by shorthand. They pay homage to it whenever they substitute their opinions of the news for actual reporting of the news. Even the squabbling among journalists recently over whether or not to suspend “conventional reporting” in Trump’s case, or whether front-page stories should declare his misstatements “lies,” is a tacit acknowledgment of that politics. With Lenin, the Christiane Amanpours have no use for the peskiness of precise responses. Just call Trump a “liar,” their attitude goes, and “everyone will understand everything.”

But that demagogic shorthand only works as long as Republican politicians defer to it. For years journalists opined self-servingly under the guise of objectivity and got away it because Republicans were too afraid to shatter that illusion of objectivity. They permitted the media to serve as the arbiter of what qualifies as “mainstream,” “extremist,” “racist,” and so forth, and made sure to stay within the media-determined parameters of any discussion.

Donald Trump has blown up that absurd arrangement and is beating the media at its own game. He labels reporters in the same way that they label him. He upends their dishonest framing of debates by treating them as what they are, liberal partisans. His exchange last week with April Ryan, a correspondent for the American Urban Radio Network, captured that perfectly. She asked him a loaded question not as a neutral reporter but as a water-carrier for the Congressional Black Caucus. So he treated her that way. “I’ll tell you what, do you want to set up the meeting?” the president said to her, after she asked if he would meet with the CBC. “Do you want to set up the meeting? Are they friends of yours?” Of course, they are friends of hers and she was trying to score a partisan point for them. Had Trump not deconstructed that for the audience, her question might have done him damage. Instead, it fell flat and looked unserious.

Reporters are thrown by a president who questions them as aggressively as they question him. And they resent that he refuses to accept as “facts” what is nothing more than their biased interpretation of the facts.

Well, it makes life harder for bylined operatives.

LIFE AMONG THE TRANSHUMANISTS. Well, I don’t exactly want to live forever. Just a lot longer and healthier.

Plus, more reason to like Trump: “Under President Donald Trump, the quest for immortality might pick up steam: Among the candidates he is reportedly considering to head the Food and Drug Administration is Jim O’Neill, who sits on the board of the anti-aging SENS Research Foundation.”

Related thoughts here. “Even much more modest progress–extending healthy middle age from 60 to, say, 80–would permit significant shifts in retirement ages and allow for a longevity dividend that could go a long way toward preventing the looming pension meltdown. Greater progress might make the problem go away entirely. So perhaps it would make sense to steer some of the federal money currently going to research on treating the diseases of old age–an approach that leads to older, but frailer, people who are a drain on public resources and whose quality of life is iffy–to research on slowing or reversing the damage that aging does, leading to healthier old people who can work (and pay taxes) longer, while feeling better and enjoying life more.”

WHAT DESPERATION LOOKS LIKE? Byron York: 25th Amendment chatter: Dems, pundits mull ways to remove Trump.

As President Trump finishes his fourth week in the White House, a number of opposition lawmakers, political commentators, and self-styled members of The Resistance are discussing ways in which the president might be quickly removed from office.

Some have talked about impeachment for quite a while, even before the Trump inauguration. But that could take a long time, and it would require Trump to commit, and then be charged with and convicted of, “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors” to meet the Constitution’s standard for removing the president from office.

That’s too long term, say some. So now, there is increasing discussion of the 25th Amendment. The 1967 amendment, which has its roots in the Kennedy assassination, covers ways to replace an incapacitated president. Up until now, its most-discussed provision was a measure by which the president could inform the Speaker of the House and the President pro tempore of the Senate that he, the president, can no longer perform the duties of office, whereupon those two officials would declare the vice president the acting president, until such time as the president informed them that he was again able to perform his duties. The amendment has been used or considered for cases in which the president underwent surgery or was under anesthesia.

Now, however, The Resistance is looking at Section 4 of the 25th Amendment, which would allow the vice president and a majority of cabinet officers, or the vice president and a majority “of such other body as Congress may by law provide,” to declare the president unable to serve, making the vice president the acting president.

If you want to see a civil war, just keep it up with these plans to “get rid of” Trump. That our “ruling class” continues to indulge in these despite the obvious danger demonstrates more than anything else that it is unfit to rule.

WELL, YES. Are Liberals Helping Trump?

Jeffrey Medford, a small-business owner in South Carolina, voted reluctantly for Donald Trump. As a conservative, he felt the need to choose the Republican. But some things are making him feel uncomfortable — parts of Mr. Trump’s travel ban, for example, and the recurring theme of his apparent affinity for Russia.

Mr. Medford should be a natural ally for liberals trying to convince the country that Mr. Trump was a bad choice. But it is not working out that way. Every time Mr. Medford dips into the political debate — either with strangers on Facebook or friends in New York and Los Angeles — he comes away feeling battered by contempt and an attitude of moral superiority.

“We’re backed into a corner,” said Mr. Medford, 46, whose business teaches people to be filmmakers. “There are at least some things about Trump I find to be defensible. But they are saying: ‘Agree with us 100 percent or you are morally bankrupt. You’re an idiot if you support any part of Trump.’ ”

He added: “I didn’t choose a side. They put me on one.”

Liberals may feel energized by a surge in political activism, and a unified stance against a president they see as irresponsible and even dangerous. But that momentum is provoking an equal and opposite reaction on the right. In recent interviews, conservative voters said they felt assaulted by what they said was a kind of moral Bolshevism — the belief that the liberal vision for the country was the only right one. Disagreeing meant being publicly shamed.

This shaming works as a self-herding mechanism among the left, but it’s not very good at winning converts. You want more Trump? This is how you get more Trump.

Related: Why The Resistance Is the Best Thing That’s Happened To Donald Trump.

Sure, it matters that President Donald Trump has a historically low favorability rating. Then again, disliking the president isn’t exactly a courageous act. Plenty of Americans—many of whom supported the president during the general election—don’t like Trump. They do realize that politics is a trade-off. Here’s a more revealing question pollsters might ask people: Do you “like” any better Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) or Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), pussyhatted marchers griping about the patriarchy or the totalitarians blocking Education Secretary Betsy Devos from walking into a public school?

That’s the choice #TheResistance—whose mantra, let’s face it, has synched with the Democratic Party—has created for many moderate Republicans, right-leaning independents and movement conservatives concerned about Trump. That is to say, they offer no choice whatsoever. They offer plenty of hysteria, hypocrisy and conflation of conservatism with Trumpism for political gain.

Plus:

But if it’s a zero-sum choice they’re offering, that includes picking Judge Neil Gorsuch over Planned Parenthood; tax cuts over teachers unions; Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over Iran’s Holocaust deniers; deregulation of the bureaucratic state over legislation; or forcing progressive cultural mores on everyone, and so on.

For example, many former free traders are now embracing the protectionist big-government policies of Trumpism. This is the kind of capitulation many fiscal conservatives feared. Again, the problem is that for free traders, Democrats are as just bad. In fact, the popularity of protectionism among populist movements on the left and right is so strong there’s a good argument that the only way to possibly counteract it is to elect more conservatives to Congress.

The average resistance fighters might dislike Trump. But they hate conservatism. By treating even the most milquetoast, run-of-the-mill Cabinet nominee as the worst thing that has ever happened to America, The Resistance gives conservatives the space to defend such long-standing political positions as school choice, immigration enforcement and deregulation. I imagine many Republicans would happily hand over the scalp of more Michael Flynns if it meant creating a more stable and experienced administration.

But they also understand that people who treat DeVos like a bigger threat to the republic than Trump’s chief strategist Steve Bannon will never be placated. Those who spend weeks after the election acting like the Electoral College was some kind of trick pulled on the country are not interested in rule of law. They’re interested in Democrats.

Yes. And here’s my message for 2017.

Last year it was my message too.

ANALYSIS: TRUE. Jim VanDeHei & Mike Allen: The Media Is The Opposition Party. Likewise, they were the Obama Support Party for the previous eight years. Any efforts to defend their role now must also take that into account.

But it’s just more evidence that if you want checks and balances, you need a white, male Republican in the White House.

UPDATE: From the comments: “I thought, given the wailing I have heard the last few days, that some brilliant questions were going to be asked of Trump by the ‘real’ journalists. Where were they hiding?”

BRENDAN O’NEILL ON FEARS OF “FASCISM:”

In recent weeks, the corrosion of the meaning of fascism that Weissman and Orwell worried about has intensified to a shocking degree. We seem to be witnessing the falling apart of historical categories; the unhinging of political language from reason; a profound break between historical experience and political expression. That people can openly talk about a return of the 1930s — as if that decade were some kind of free-floating thing, an attitude, rather than a specific, grounded moment in history — shows how meaningless the idea of fascism has become. That people feel haunted by the 1930s — we’re being bruised by ‘deeply disturbing echoes of [those] dark days’, says Prince Charles — is a testament more to their own moral destabilisation, to their own experience of political disarray, than it is to any return of fascism.

This is most pronounced among the political class. It is their sensation of being under assault, of the ebbing away of their technocratic, judicial, evidence-based authority over society following the decidedly political jolts of Brexit and Trump, that has led them to resuscitate the fascism frenzy. The omnipresence of that word tells us little about a return of fascist terror, but a great deal about the political class’s own feeling of terror at recent political events. . . .

It is a fantasy to claim fascism has made a comeback. And it’s a revealing fantasy. When the political and media elites speak of fascism today, what they’re really expressing is fear. Fear of the primal, unpredictable mass of society. Fear of unchecked popular opinion. Fear of what they view as the authoritarian impulses of those outside their social, bureaucratic sphere. Fear of the latent fascism, as they see it, of the ordinary inhabitants of Nazi-darkened Europe or of Middle America, who apparently lack the moral and intellectual resources to resist demagoguery. As one columnist put it, today’s ‘fascistic style’ of politics is a creation not so much of wicked leaders, as of the dangerous masses. ‘Compulsive liars shouldn’t frighten you’, he says. ‘Compulsive believers, on the other hand: they should terrify you.’ In short, not leaders but the led; not the state but the people. This, precisely, is who terrifies them. This, precisely, is what they mean when they say ‘fascism’. They mean you, me, ordinary people; people who have dared to say that they want to influence politics again after years of being frozen out. When they say fascism, they mean democracy.

Indeed.

HIGHER EDUCATION BUBBLE UPDATE: A Profession Built On Exploitation:

Yet to talk about adjuncts is to talk about the centerpiece of higher education. Tenured faculty represent only 17 percent of college instructors. Part-time adjuncts are now the majority of the professoriate and its fastest-growing segment. From 1975 to 2011, the number of part-time adjuncts quadrupled. And the so-called part-time designation is misleading because most of them are piecing together teaching jobs at multiple institutions simultaneously. A 2014 congressional report suggests that 89 percent of adjuncts work at more than one institution; 13 percent work at four or more. The need for several appointments becomes obvious when we realize how little any one of them pays. In 2013, The Chronicle began collecting data on salary and benefits from adjuncts across the country. An English-department adjunct at Berkeley, for example, received $6,500 to teach a full-semester course. It’s easy to lose sight of all the people struggling beneath the data points. $7,000 at Duke. $6,000 at Columbia. $5,950 at the University of Iowa.

These are the high numbers. According to the 2014 congressional report, adjuncts’ median pay per course is $2,700. An annual report by the American Association of University Professors indicated that last year “the average part-time faculty member earned $16,718” from a single employer. Other studies have similar findings. Thirty-one percent of part-time faculty members live near or below the poverty line. Twenty-five percent receive public assistance, like Medicaid or food stamps. One English-department adjunct who responded to the survey said that she sold her plasma on Tuesdays and Thursdays to pay for her daughter’s day care. Another woman stated that she taught four classes a year for less than $10,000. She wrote, “I am currently pregnant with my first child. … I will receive NO time off for the birth or recovery. It is necessary I continue until the end of the semester in May in order to get paid, something I drastically need. The only recourse I have is to revert to an online classroom […] and do work while in the hospital and upon my return home.” Sixty-one percent of adjunct faculty are women.

If Trump wants to troll academia hard, he should speak out and demand a “living wage” for adjunct instructors. For the sake of economic justice!

NO LESSONS LEARNED: Campus Intolerance Intensifies in the Trump Era.

Panelists raised, implicitly, the question whether higher education has become out of touch with Donald Trump’s America. They fretted over their belief that the current social and political climate is a threat to the liberal arts and, in a time of “fake news,” to the pursuit of truth itself.

The Association’s president, Lynn Pasquerella, concluded that it is the average American—giving in to the alleged anti-intellectualism of the day—who is misguided.

Higher education leaders, she argued, must therefore work to “destabilize the attitudes at the basis of proposals that devalue education.”

While there were some speakers who called for tolerance and understanding—including Wesleyan University president Michael Roth, who advocated greater respect for “traditional conservative religion and thought”—they were a mere footnote during the four-day gathering.

Rather, workshops such as “Reclaiming the Racial Narrative,” case studies on implementing progressive agendas on campus, and strategies on how to engage students in support of “racial and social justice” dominated the conference’s agenda.

Unfortunately, in these early days of Trump’s presidency, similar politicization seems to persist throughout much of academia. Many leftist students, faculty, and administrators pay only lip service to the notion that higher education should be a marketplace of ideas. They now seem to view themselves as combatants in an ideological war.

Well, that’s just more of the Gramscian Damage. But if you want more Trump, by all means double down. Because that’s how you get more Trump.

ANDREW MALCOLM: Psst, here’s how political leaks really work.

Leaking in political capitals like Washington can be a sophisticated strategic game with trade-craft elements of a John LeCarre novel involving code words, secret rendezvous in person or by phone and fake messages to advance or defeat a cause and especially to detect a leaker’s identity. Remember during Watergate reporters convening with their secret source in an underground parking garage?

The Trump White House is said to be concerned about leaks involving the president’s recent telephone calls with world leaders. Thursday Sean Spicer asserted, “We’re looking into the situation, yes, and it’s very concerning.” Spicer said the leaks, not all accurate or complimentary, were of “personal concern” to Trump.

True, unplanned leaks drive some politicians crazy. President Lyndon Johnson would get apoplectic over them as personal betrayals, which they are in a way. Some officials, such as George W. Bush, minimize unplanned leaks by building strong two-way personal loyalties with senior staff.

OK, here’s the deal: We’ll never know the truth about these Trump leaks. All news consumers can do each time is evaluate the credibility of known details and the likely motives of participants.

Good advice.

Want more good advice? Read the whole thing.

DAVID FRUM: What Effective Protest Could Look Like.

You want to scare Trump? Be orderly, polite, and visibly patriotic.

In other words, be the Tea party. But [EDIT FOR CLARITY] copying the Tea Party has been tried already, repeatedly, without success.

More:

Trump wants to identify all opposition to him with the black-masked crowbar thugs who smashed windows and burned a limo on his inauguration day. Remember Trump’s tweet about stripping citizenship from flag burners? It’s beyond audacious that a candidate who publicly requested help from Russian espionage services against his opponent would claim the flag as his own. But Trump is trying. Don’t let him get away with it. Carry the flag. Open with the Pledge of Allegiance. Close by singing the Star Spangled Banner––like these protesters at LAX, in video posted by The Atlantic’s own Conor Friedersdorf. Trump’s presidency is itself one long flag-burning, an attack on the principles and institutions of the American republic. That republic’s symbols are your symbols. You should cherish them and brandish them.

Don’t get sucked into the futile squabbling cul-de-sac of intersectionality and grievance politics. Look at this roster of speakers from the January 21 march. What is Angela Davis doing there? Where are the military women, the women police officers, the officeholders? If Planned Parenthood is on the stage, pro-life women should stand there, too. If you want somebody to speak for immigrants, invite somebody who’s in the country lawfully.

By and large, those are the people the Left has already lost — or has driven away, or actively despises.

DO YOU WANT MORE TRUMP? BECAUSE THIS IS HOW YOU GET MORE TRUMP: Militant, Anti-Trump Anarchist: ‘Confront the Police and Destroy Corporate Property.’

MARK SERRANO: Senate Democrats: Be afraid when Trump comes to town. “Among the 23 Democratic senators up for re-election in 2018, there are 10 from states that President Trump won in 2016. Now that Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer and the Democratic Party have decided to resist every plan, policy, proposal and nomination by the fledgling Trump administration, these senators should beware the power that Trump ultimately has to respond. . . . Since his inauguration on Jan. 20, the Democrats have deployed a political strategy to oppose all things Trump. Even more troubling, they have closely aligned themselves with the alt-left of their party that will use violent demonstrations to oppose the president.”

You want more Trump? Because that’s how you get more Trump.

I DON’T THINK MANY TRUMP VOTERS WILL BE MOVED BY THIS STORY AS THE NY TIMES INTENDS: ‘A Sense of Dread’ for Civil Servants Shaken by Trump Transition. I’m not so sure Albert Gallatin would be as upset as career GS types. But really, one would need a heart of stone not to laugh at this:

“It’s almost a sense of dread, as in, what will happen to us,” said Gabrielle Martin, a trial lawyer and 30-year veteran at the Denver office of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, where colleagues now share daily, grim predictions about the fate of their jobs under Mr. Trump’s leadership.

“It’s like the movie music when the shark is coming,” Ms. Martin said, referring to “Jaws,” the 1975 thriller. “People are just wary — is the shark going to come up out of the water?”

This article is based on interviews around the country with more than three dozen current and recently departed federal employees from the Internal Revenue Service; the Pentagon; the Environmental Protection Agency; the Justice and Treasury Departments; the Departments of Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs, and Housing and Urban Development; and other parts of the government. They reveal a federal work force that is more fundamentally shaken than usual by the uncertainties that follow a presidential transition from one party to the other.

Federal workers are more likely to be Democrats, according to surveys. But partisanship and ideology explain only some of the intense feelings among workers, many of whom have seen Democrats and Republicans in the White House come and go.

Well, there’s also class-identification and overall smugness. But stuff like this makes serious civil service reform more likely to take place:

At the Environmental Protection Agency, a group of scientists strategized this past week about how to slow-walk President Trump’s environmental orders without being fired.

At the Treasury Department, civil servants are quietly gathering information about whistle-blower protections as they polish their résumés.

At the United States Digital Service — the youthful cadre of employees who left jobs at Google, Facebook or Microsoft to join the Obama administration — workers are debating how to stop Mr. Trump should he want to use the databases they made more efficient to target specific immigrant groups.

Just imagine how differently the New York Times would have played a story about federal employees planning to resist Obama initiatives. But it is more support for my theory that if you want checks and balances, you need a white, male Republican in the White House!

UPDATE: Flashback: Washington’s ‘governing elite’ think Americans are morons. And now they’re scared and unhappy that Americans are returning the sentiment.

SACRAMENTO’S IN THE VERY BEST OF HANDS: CA State Senator admits half of family under deportation threat:

A Los Angeles lawmaker leading the fight to make California a so-called “sanctuary state” has suggested half of his family would be deported for using falsified Social Security cards and other fake identification.

California Senate Leader Kevin de Leon made the claims during testimony before the Senate’s Public Safety Committee for SB54, a bill introduced by De Leon that would create a statewide sanctuary for immigrants living in the country illegally.

Responding to President Trump’s suggestion of “withholding federal funding” from California, de Leon said: “Half of my family would be eligible for deportation under the executive order, because they got a false social security card, they got a false identification, they got a false driver’s license prior to us passing AB 60, they got a false green card, and anyone who has family members who are undocumented knows that almost entirely everybody has secured some sort of false identification.”

“That’s what you need to survive, to work,” he added. “They are eligible for massive deportation.”

Most Americans want to make a living, Leslie Eastman of Legal Insurrection responds. “However, they don’t commit crimes to do so. The senator’s admission has not inspired the kind of sympathy from the nation’s law-abiding taxpayers he may have been expecting.”

As California resident Victor Davis Hanson has noted in various formulations in recent years, “In California, the neglect of the felony requires the rigid prosecution of the misdemeanor.” No state regulates its small businesses more. No state is more obsessed with recycling and banning common goods, down to shopping bag bans, and in some regions, mandatory composting. No state is more obsessed with banning guns from legal owners. But illegal immigration and its related crimes such as potential voter fraud, and false drivers’ licenses and Social Security cards? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Which of course is why Sacramento has to deal with Donald Trump these days. Speaking of their “Enemies: A Love Story” like relationship, the addicts may loathe the new dealer, but they still want their fix: “California rebukes Trump’s orders but wants $100B in federal infrastructure funds.”

BLACK LIVES MATTER AND THE TRUMP ELECTION: A Truth So Glaring Even Vox Can See It.

Over at Vox, Matt Yglesias highlights a polling trend we first noted in October: Just as the Black Lives Matter movement hit its stride last year, the American public—whites and non-whites alike—became far more supportive of law enforcement, with the share of Americans who say they have “a great deal” of respect for police officers shooting up from 64 to 76 percent. . . .

It’s worth considering the possibility that the BLM movement and the publicity it received just might have played a decisive role in tipping the 2016 presidential election to the law and order candidate—that, as Glenn Reynolds puts it, “this is how you get more Trump.”

That doesn’t mean that we don’t have a policing problem in this country or that we don’t need to be constantly rethinking the way our social institutions (including the judicial and the educational systems) address the needs and problems of African Americans, especially though not only young men. But it does mean that today’s would-be Civil Rights heroes need to think a bit harder about how to build majority support for changes that would help. Martin Luther King was sometimes an angry man, and with just cause, but we owe his lasting impact on American life to his wisdom rather than to his rage.

The difference is, the people behind Black Lives Matter don’t want to solve the problem. They want to exploit the problem.

Also, the “do you want more Trump?” line originates with Sean Davis, though to be fair, he was riffing off Archer.

MEGAN MCARDLE: The Democrats’ Immigration Problem(s).

Briefly: Democratic arguments about immigration mostly aren’t arguments. The party has relied on opposing Trump’s more outrageously exaggerated claims about the criminality and all-around character flaws of immigrants. That’s fine, as far as it goes — but as November showed, it doesn’t go far enough.

The core problem is that Democrats didn’t really make an affirmative argument for an overhaul to U.S. immigration policy that might appeal to voters. Instead, they talked a lot about what great people immigrants are, and how much they benefit from migration. Unfortunately, the clearest group of beneficiaries from this policy — people who want to migrate, but haven’t yet gotten a green card — can’t vote.

Of course there are spillover benefits to immigration, but they are somewhat nebulous compared to the direct benefit to the would-be migrants. It’s easy to explain how immigrants benefit from an open door. Explanations of how the rest of us benefit tend to rely on the trivial or on abstract economic arguments that most people don’t find particularly intuitive or convincing. Those arguments look even more suspicious because they are generally made by the one group that visibly does benefit from a lot of low-skilled immigration, which provides the nannies, lawn-care, and food services that high-skilled professionals rely on to allow them to work longer hours. . . .

Distrust of strangers is a universal human phenomenon, tapping into some pretty deep evolutionary instincts. Once those instincts are aroused, you need very powerful emotional arguments as to why it’s worth taking the risk. “They’re really nice people” is not it. Nor is “It will be great for them” or “Look at this regression analysis.”

Democrats seem to appreciate that this is a problem. You saw this at the convention, where the hours before 6 p.m. — when most people weren’t watching — were heavy on praise for immigration and appearances by illegal immigrants who spoke movingly of their plight. But at the hour when the nation turned its eyes to the television, the paeans in favor of illegal migrants became dramatically more restrained.

Yet instead of solving this problem, Democrats opted to mostly speak in vague generalities and to avoid concrete questions: What percentage of our society should be foreign born? How should we choose the people we allow to migrate? Instead of formulating a clear policy, they relied on institutional inertia and lax enforcement to swell the foreign-born population to nearly 15 percent of the country. And Republicans, whose donor class likes generous immigration rules, were happy to go along.

That was fine as long as those groups were in charge of the status quo. Once Trump took over, however, that became infeasible.

Well, to be fair, Trump took over in no small part because a lot of voters wanted to make that infeasible.

FLASHBACK: Bill Clinton warns of “the large number of illegal aliens” coming into America, and explains his crackdown.

When I posted this earlier, a reader commented: “Donald Trump should televise this Bill Clinton speech from 1995 and then simply state ‘I’m Donald Trump and I approve this message.'”

HOUSE DEMOCRATS WANT TO CHANGE THE WAY THEY TALK TO VOTERS, BUT THEY’RE NOT SURE HOW:

House Democrats are walking away from a soul-searching retreat in Baltimore without having answered the question that has loomed over them since the election: Whether the party should be content with changing its communication strategy or whether the party needs to undergo deeper changes.

“We lost, so either our programs need to be retooled or our communication needs to be retooled. Now which do you think is easier for us to focus on?” California Rep. Brad Sherman said. “I wish we could just print our message on a different color of paper and suddenly win, but I think it’s going to be harder than that.”

Shades of Bertolt Brecht’s famous line that “Some party hack decreed that the people had lost the government’s confidence and could only regain it with redoubled effort. If that is the case, would it not be simpler, If the government simply dissolved the people And elected another?”

Linking to the above article at DNC house organ BuzzFeed, Varad Mehta of the Federalist tweets “Trump’s election was a repudiation of cultural progressivism. Until the left admits it, they’re just wasting time.” But even if Democrats somehow manage to change their tone, after their earlier false-flag operation in 2006, voters would be very wise not to believe them this time around.

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

DAVID HARSANYI: Republicans Should Make Elizabeth Warren The Voice Of Democrats.

It seemed pretty obvious to me that the nomination of Jeff Sessions as attorney general was likely a done deal. So it was unlikely any persuadable voter would have even heard about Warren’s grandstanding if it weren’t for the kerfuffle. If it were up to me, however, I’d let Warren speak whenever she wanted to — ceding my time, if necessary — for as long as she wanted on any stage she demanded. The more she speaks, the better for conservatives.

As The Washington Post points out, however, McConnell probably gave Warren’s 2020 presidential aspirations a huge “in-kind contribution” by forcing her to follow rules of decorum. It’s possible, I suppose, that the GOP is playing the same 3D chess mastered by Donald Trump. Maybe shutting down Warren was a surreptitious means of making her the de facto voice of the Democratic Party and #TheResistance (formerly known as “unprecedented obstructionism”). Maybe it was just good luck.

Warren as the voice of the Left might be the best-case scenario for Republicans. For one thing, Warren is no Barack Obama on the charisma front. For another, Warren saves conservatives the trouble of going after socialist strawmen. They’ll have a real one.

Right now it looks like Republicans won’t have to do anything at all — Democrats seem to think they have a real winner on their hands.

JONATHAN RAUCH:

For this article, I set out to develop a list of telltales that the president is endangering the Constitution and threatening democracy. I failed. In fact, I concluded that there can be no such list, because many of the worrisome things that an antidemocratic president might do look just like things that other presidents have done. Use presidential power to bully corporations? Truman and Kennedy did that. Distort or exaggerate facts to initiate or escalate a war? Johnson and George W. Bush did that. Lie point-blank to the public? Eisenhower did that. Defy orders from the Supreme Court? Lincoln did that. Suspend habeas corpus? Lincoln did that, too. Spy on American activists? Kennedy and Johnson did that. Start wars at will, without congressional approval? Truman did that. Censor “disloyal” speech and fire “disloyal” civil servants? Wilson did that. Incarcerate U.S. citizens of foreign extraction? Franklin D. Roosevelt did that. Use shady schemes to circumvent congressional strictures? Reagan did that. Preempt Justice Department prosecutors? Obama did that. Assert sweeping powers to lock people up without trial or judicial review? George W. Bush did that. Declare an open-ended national emergency? Bush did that, and Obama continued it. Use regulatory authority aggressively and, according to the courts, sometimes illegally? Obama did that. Kill a U.S. citizen abroad? Obama did that, too. Grant favors to political friends, and make mischief for political enemies? All presidents do that.

But Rauch’s overall piece — about how “civil society” should rally to control Trump — is just more evidence in favor of my theory that if you want a President constrained by “civil society,” you need to elect a white, male Republican.

SO WAIT, SCIENCE SAYS WE WON’T GET TIRED OF WINNING? ANOTHER TRUMP LIE! Docs say victory leaves fans wanting more.

THE FAKE NEWS PROBLEM, THEN AND NOW: At Tablet, James Kirchick explains “Why the left is also responsible for the proliferation of inaccurate information—and why the big beneficiary is Donald Trump:”

Now that Trump is in the White House, much of the media feels uninhibited in their campaign to destroy him, seeing the unprecedented nature of his presidency as license to get away with anything. Take Jonathan Weisman, deputy Washington editor of The New York Times. Since he was targeted by pro-Trump, anti-Semitic Twitter trolls last summer, Weisman—a man who is supposed to at least feign objectivity—has completely dropped any pretense of political independence. His own Twitter feed—like the feeds of a growing number of Times reporters—is a constant stream of anti-Trump invective indistinguishable from committed anti-Trump pundits like myself.

Why do I hold myself and Jonathan Weisman to such wildly differing standards? Because my job is to opine and provoke. His job is to accurately report on events, so that I know that the things I am reacting to are real, rather than the products of angry mass hallucinations or partisan messaging campaigns. By publicly refusing to do his job, he makes my job (and all our jobs as engaged citizens) much harder because I can’t reasonably trust that what I read in The New York Times is factual or based on good sourcing. Who in their right mind inside the Trump administration would talk to The New York Times, except to mislead the paper’s reporters and editors, by spinning them up or sending them off on wild goose chases that serve the administration’s own aims? How can I trust that what I read in the paper’s news columns isn’t hopelessly distorted by the angry bias evident in the social-media feeds of the paper’s editors and reporters? Much of the reporting on the Trump administration thus far seems to be so poorly sourced, riddled with caricature and negative wishful thinking as to be actively misleading, for all intents and purposes “fake news.” The beneficiary of the resulting confusion and hysteria is not The New York Times or its readers. It’s Donald Trump.

But Kirchick’s take doesn’t feel all that far removed from how left-leaning media critic Jack Shafer, then with the Washington Post-owned Slate described the state of the MSM in May of 2008, with an assist from the since-deceased Michael Crichton:

In 1993, novelist Michael Crichton riled the news business with a Wired magazine essay titled “Mediasaurus,” in which he prophesied the death of the mass media—specifically the New York Times and the commercial networks. “Vanished, without a trace,” he wrote.

* * * * * * * *

“[T]he American media produce a product of very poor quality,” he lectured. “Its information is not reliable, it has too much chrome and glitz, its doors rattle, it breaks down almost immediately, and it’s sold without warranty. It’s flashy but it’s basically junk.”

* * * * * * * *

As we pass his prediction’s 15-year anniversary, I’ve got to declare advantage Crichton. Rot afflicts the newspaper industry, which is shedding staff, circulation, and revenues. It’s gotten so bad in newspaperville that some people want Google to buy the Times and run it as a charity! Evening news viewership continues to evaporate, and while the mass media aren’t going extinct tomorrow, Crichton’s original observations about the media future now ring more true than false. Ask any journalist.

That was nearly decade ago, building on an article that Crichton wrote a quarter century ago. And yet things have only gotten exponentially worse for the media in the years since, passing through their quasi-religious hagiography of the Obama era along the way. Just think of the MSM as Democrat party operatives with bylines, and it all makes sense.

UPDATE: Mark Hemingway on “The Problem of Two Unreliable Narrators: Trump Versus the Media — When both the person in power and his critics are both perceived as lacking credibility, the person in power is likely to come out on top.”

THE OBAMA LEGACY: Trump wants to push back against Iran, but Iran is now more powerful than ever.