Whenever a confrontation goes in Trump's favor everyone talks about how lucky he is. But... what if he's just better at politics than his opponents?

One can only assume that in the Kavanaugh home, there's a horseshoe over every door, a rabbit's foot in every pocket and a lawn entirely planted with four-leaf clover. There were half a dozen times during Brett M. Kavanaugh's Supreme Court nomination battle when most experts were certain he'd have to be withdrawn. Republicans already faced a likely Democratic wave in the midterms, and standing by Kavanaugh would all but concede not only the House but also possibly the Senate.

Yet somehow he was confirmed. And his party's luck is even more astonishing. Far from turning the Blue Wave into an Indigo Tsunami, the Kavanaugh fight seems to have produced a Red Undertow. As of this writing, that backwash looks strong enough to check Democratic advances in the Senate and maybe even gain a couple of seats. If Republicans are very lucky, they might even retain control of the House.

A few months ago Dov Fischer wrote "Everyone is Smart Except Trump". Trump's opponents would do themselves a favor if they took Trump more seriously.

It really is quite simple. Everyone is smart except Donald J. Trump. That's why they all are billionaires and all got elected President. Only Trump does not know what he is doing. Only Trump does not know how to negotiate with Vladimir Putin. Anderson Cooper knows how to stand up to Putin. The whole crowd at MSNBC does. All the journalists do.

They could not stand up to Matt Lauer at NBC. They could not stand up to Charlie Rose at CBS. They could not stand up to Mark Halperin at NBC. Nor up to Leon Wieseltier at the New Republic, nor Jann Wenner at Rolling Stone, nor Michael Oreskes at NPR, at the New York Times, or at the Associated Press. But -- oh, wow! -- can they ever stand up to Putin! Only Trump is incapable of negotiating with the Russian tyrant.

Remember the four years when Anderson Cooper was President of the United States? And before that -- when the entire Washington Post editorial staff jointly were elected to be President? Remember? Neither do I.


Project Veritas is performing a public service by giving politicians and their staffers an opportunity to reveal their true political beliefs. Veritas is a rightist group that is targeting leftist politicians, and what they've uncovered about Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill and Tennessee Senate candidate Phil Bredesen is enlightening.

Here's McCaskill speaking with the undercover journalist:

Senator McCaskill revealed her intention to vote on various gun control measures in undercover footage:
MCCASKILL: "Well if we elect enough Democrats we'll get some gun safety stuff done. They won't let us vote on it, we've got 60 votes for a number of measures that would help with gun safety, but McConnell won't let 'em come to the floor."

JOURNALIST: "Like bump stocks, ARs and high capacity mags...?"

MCCASKILL: "Universal background checks, all of that... But if we have the kind of year I think we might have I think we could actually be in a position to get votes on this stuff on the floor and we'd get 60 [votes]..."

JOURNALIST: "So you would be on board with the bump stocks and... high capacity mags."

MCCASKILL: "Of course! Of course!"

And here are some Bredesen staffers who claim to know the candidate's true position on the Kavanaugh nomination.

Maria Amalla and Will Stewart, staffers in Bredesen's campaign, both say on hidden camera that if he were in the Senate, Bredesen would not actually have voted to confirm then-Judge Brett Kavanaugh. They explained that the statement Bredesen issued in support of Kavanaugh was a political ploy to gain the support of moderate voters in Tennessee.
JOURNALIST: "Like he wouldn't really vote yes [for Kavanaugh,] would he?

AMALLA: "No, it's a political move... He thinks that like we're down like half a point right now. It's like really close and we're losing by a point or two. So he thinks that if like by saying this he's appealing to more moderate republicans and he'll get more of them to vote for us."

JOURNALIST: "I was so confused because I just can't believe he would actually vote [for Kavanaugh.]

STEWART: "He wouldn't. But he's saying he would... Which I don't know if it makes it worse or better. No, it makes it better... "

[snip]

JOURNALIST: "So he'll lose voters if he says yes [to not confirming Kavanaugh?]"

STEWART: "Oh, straight up, yeah."

JOURNALIST: "Are the people of Tennessee that ignorant?"

STEWART: "Yeah."

This is all valuable information for voters, especially with public trust in our politicians at a record high!

Unfortunately Project Veritas only targets leftist politicians. It would be valuable if a similar group were to stage undercover interviews with rightist politicians.


Dahlia Lithwick's angst-ridden lament for the Kavanaugh-confirmed Supreme Court is a fantastic illustration of how Leftists view themselves as neutral centrists.

Constitutional law professors have been wondering aloud how they can neutrally teach case law after signing a letter opposing Kavanaugh's elevation (over 2,400 professors nationwide did so). Some say they believe the court has now been irredeemably politicised.

As if the professors could have taught in a non-political manner if they had kept their anti-Kavanaugh bias secret? The court hasn't just now been politicised, it has been politicised at least since Bork was Borked by Ted Kennedy.

Whether Roberts proves to be a fifth vote to strike down protections for abortion, affirmative action, and to curb voting rights with the stroke of a pen, or merely to check these rights in small but certain steps, those rights will be limited. He will be the fifth vote to shrink the authority of regulatory agencies; the fifth vote to protect business over workers' rights; the fifth vote to chip away at gun regulations; and, the fifth vote to allow religious dissenters to opt out of civil rights and public accommodation laws. We don't know how or when this will happen, but happen it will.

Lithwick casts these issues in a way that portrays the Leftist preference as "neutral" and the shift she predicts as an aberration. A conservative can play the same game.

  • "strike down protections for abortion" becomes "uphold protections for the unborn"
  • "strike down protections for affirmative action" becomes "enforce equal laws equally without regard for race"
  • "curb voting rights" becomes "prevent voter fraud"
  • "shrink the authority of regulatory agencies" becomes "limit the federal government to its Constitutionally defined role"
  • "chip away at gun regulations" becomes "protect Americans' natural right to self-defense, as guaranteed by the Second Amendment"
  • "allow religious dissenters to opt out of civil rights and public accommodation laws" becomes "protect Americans' natural right to religious freedom, as guaranteed by the First Amendment"

The Leftist preference isn't the natural, "neutral", "centrist" order of the world.

This president--who lost the popular vote--has now seated two Supreme Court justices. Four sitting justices have been confirmed by Republican senators who collectively won fewer popular votes than the senators who voted against confirming them. A minority-majority president and a minority-majority Senate have remade the court in their own image, and completed that process by installing a singularly divisive nominee.

In August (before the Kavanaugh agony) Michael Barone encouraged Democrats to play by the rules rather than denouncing them, and his stats undermine Lithwick's complaint.

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

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

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

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

Moreover, small states today aren't uniformly Republican. Vermont, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Delaware and Hawaii currently send two Democrats to the Senate. Maine, North Dakota, and Montana each send one. The 12 smallest states are represented by 13 Democratic senators and 11 Republicans.

The real problem for Leftists is that their current ideology doesn't have broad appeal, unlike in the days of President #MeToo Clinton.

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

Once upon a time, Bill Clinton showed Democrats how. He won the presidency, from which his party had been shut out for 20 of 24 years, by adapting its platform to appeal to additional voters. In 1996, he won 174 electoral votes in states that his wife was to lose 20 years later.

Bill Clinton carried California twice by the solid margin of 13 points. In 2016 she carried it by 30. But she built up that margin by taking stands that antagonized "deplorables" in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin and Iowa, and the rest is history.

Back to Lithwick, who completely fails to notice judicial gaslighting by the Left. The Left works itself up into a tizzy, and then uses that tizzy to claim that the Right's preferences aren't legitimate.

But the court will not have so long to recover its standing as a neutral oracle: cases testing the boundaries of Trump's executive authority, his treatment of immigrants and refugees, and possibly, someday even the legitimacy of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian election meddling will soon pile up on its doorstep. There cannot, for long, be any hiding from the front pages, or from making highly-charged calls.

Attention spans can be short. After the Kavanaugh debacle, however, the Court could find more citizens than ever suspect its practice is directed by partisan convenience, not by law.

Translation: when the SCOTUS rules in favor of the Left, it is "neutral"; when it rules in favor of the Right, it is "partisan".

As Glenn Reynolds has pointed out, the Left should be thankful that the Right doesn't advocate for a "living Constitution" approach to the judiciary.


Robyn Urback writes that the Clintons are long-overdue for a #MeToo reckoning. It has always struck me as fundamentally unjust that Monica Lewinski's life has been permanently scarred while the Clintons have prospered.

To this day, Clinton maintains a rather unrepentant air. When he was pushed about his affair with Monica Lewinsky during a television interview back in June, Clinton lashed out at the interviewer and accused him of ignoring supposed "gaping facts" about the saga. Clinton also noted that he was a victim, too, in that he left the White House $16 million in debt. Let's pause here a moment to appreciate the trauma of the Clintons' fleeting financial insecurity.

Lewinsky, during that time, was made the nation's punchline, villain and slut. Decades before the term "gaslighting" would enter the mainstream lexicon, the president of the United States went on national television and told the world that he "did not have sexual relations with that woman." Clinton's allies painted Lewinsky as a stalker and a manipulator, and even feminist icon Gloria Steinem suggested in a column for the New York Times that Lewinsky was equally at fault for the illicit affair.

It would take Lewinsky nearly 20 years to realize that the power imbalance between an unpaid intern and her boss -- a man 27 years her senior and also the president of the United States -- complicates notions of consent and culpability. She would grapple with post-traumatic stress disorder for decades and struggle to find a clear career path. These are not ordinary consequences for a poor decision; most of us do dumb things we regret in early adulthood, but few of us are defined by them for the rest of our lives.


A good many times I have been present at gatherings of people who, by the standards of the traditional culture, are thought highly educated and who have with considerable gusto been expressing their incredulity at the illiteracy of scientists. Once or twice I have been provoked and have asked the company how many of them could describe the Second Law of Thermodynamics. The response was cold: it was also negative. Yet I was asking something which is about the scientific equivalent of: Have you read a work of Shakespeare's?

Baron C.P. Snow The Two Cultures: The Rede Lecture (1959)


I guess everyone thinks that the sexual assault allegations against Judge Kavanaugh are bogus, which is why we're talking about his "judicial temperament" and alcohol consumption. Writes Orrin Hatch:

That Judge Kavanaugh had the temerity to defend himself vigorously is now being counted as a strike against him. Over and over we hear him described as "angry," "belligerent" or "partisan," followed by the claim that his conduct at the hearing shows that he lacks a judicial temperament. Even "Saturday Night Live" got in on the action.

You've got to be kidding me. Do the people making this argument really expect a man who until five seconds ago had an unblemished reputation to sit passively while his reputation is viciously and permanently destroyed? While he is accused of the most horrific and obscene acts imaginable? Judge Kavanaugh's critics seem to be aghast that he is a human being who is unwilling to take slander lying down.

But he drinks alcohol?

Countless articles have been written about how Judge Kavanaugh "lied" about his high-school and college drinking at the hearing, thereby calling into question his honesty. These articles claim the judge portrayed himself as a "choirboy" who, in the words of the New York Times, enjoyed "a beer or two as a high school and college student." Then they hit back with quotes from college acquaintances who say they saw the judge drink quite a lot.

This is known in the business as a straw man. Judge Kavanaugh never claimed he always drank in moderation. To the contrary, he admitted, "Sometimes I had too many beers."

It's weird to me that the Left is going all-in on teetotaling and the Mike Pence / Billy Graham rule. I think this is quite sensible, but I'm surprised that the Puritans have somehow managed to win the culture war.


Andrew McCarthy is obviously right about what Senate Republicans should have done to advance Kavanaugh, but the simple fact is that they didn't have the majority required to do it.

So, finally, we get to a committee vote over two weeks after it should have happened; after reopening a hearing that involved 31 hours of testimony from the nominee; after 65 meetings with senators and followed by over 1,200 answers to post-hearing questions, more than the combined number of post-hearing questions in the history of Supreme Court nominations. We finally get Kavanaugh's nomination voted out of committee. And then, as a final floor vote is about to be scheduled and debated, Republicans -- taking their lead from the ineffable Jeff Flake -- agree to accede to one more Democratic request (really, just one more, cross-our-hearts . . .). And what would that be?

What else? Another week of delay.

The rationale for this delay is priceless: We need an FBI investigation. It is understandable that the public does not realize how specious this demand is. But who would have thought Senate Republicans were in need of a civics lesson?

Unfortunately for the Republicans, they've only got 51 Senators. I'm sure Senate leadership was aware of and would have preferred McCarthy's approach, but that approach wasn't possible without unanimous approval from the Republicans' marginal senators, like Flake. If Republicans had a stronger majority, Kavanaugh would be seated already.

The seeds for this ongoing debacle were planted years ago when Republican Senate candidates like Christine O'Donnell, Todd Akin, Ken Buck, and Sharron Angle failed to win races that were well within Republican grasp.


From Clifford Krauss at the NYT: Trump's Iran sanctions are working. Here's the key part:

"The president is doing the opposite of what the experts said, and it seems to be working out," said Michael Lynch, president of Strategic Energy and Economic Research, a research and consulting firm.

Initial signs of a foreign-policy success could benefit Mr. Trump politically as Republicans try to hold on to control of Congress. The president and lawmakers allied with him could point to the administration's aggressive stand toward Iran as evidence that his unconventional approach to diplomacy has been much more fruitful and far less costly than Democrats have been willing to acknowledge.

Expertise is valuable -- I say, as an expert myself -- but it's not everything. Making good decisions requires more than expertise.


Dianne Feinstein doesn't believe Ford's accusations against Kavanaugh.

Senator Dianne Feinstein of California conceded Tuesday that she can't attest to the veracity of Christine Blasey Ford's allegation that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her when they were in high school.

"[Ford] is a woman that has been, I think, profoundly impacted. On this . . . I can't say that everything is truthful. I don't know," Feinstein told reporters on Capitol Hill when asked if she believed the allegation.

That's fair -- no one seems to know what actually happened 35 years ago, including Ford.

Christine Blasey Ford, a Palo Alto University biostatistician and professor of psychology, is a Democrat -- a Bernie Sanders contributor and an anti-Trump activist. Some 36 years ago, when she was 15, she says the 17-year-old Kavanaugh tried to force himself on her, clumsily trying to get her clothes off. A friend of Kavanaugh's, Mark Judge, who had been watching, jumped on the two of them, allowing Ms. Ford to wriggle away and lock herself in a bathroom until the boys left.

There is no way to prove that this happened. That's not just because Kavanaugh and Judge, the only witnesses besides Ms. Ford, vehemently deny it. Ford cannot even place it: She doesn't recall in whose Maryland home it supposedly happened, what she did afterwards, how she got to or from the place. She never breathed a word of it at the time. When she finally told a therapist about it three decades later, notes indicate that there were four assailants -- a discrepancy she blames on the therapist.

When and where seem like important elements of an accusation.

Dr. Blasey has been uncertain about some details of the episode, including when it happened and whose house they were at.

At this point it seems impossible to discover the truth.


What to make of the allegations made by Christine Blasey Ford about Bret Kavanaugh?

Speaking publicly for the first time, Ford said that one summer in the early 1980s, Kavanaugh and a friend -- both "stumbling drunk," Ford alleges -- corralled her into a bedroom during a gathering of teenagers at a house in Montgomery County.

While his friend watched, she said, Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed on her back and groped her over her clothes, grinding his body against hers and clumsily attempting to pull off her one-piece bathing suit and the clothing she wore over it. When she tried to scream, she said, he put his hand over her mouth.

"I thought he might inadvertently kill me," said Ford, now a 51-year-old research psychologist in northern California. "He was trying to attack me and remove my clothing."

Ford said she was able to escape when Kavanaugh's friend and classmate at Georgetown Preparatory School, Mark Judge, jumped on top of them, sending all three tumbling. She said she ran from the room, briefly locked herself in a bathroom and then fled the house.

Kavanaugh and Judge categorically deny that any such event ever happened.

So what do we do with this claim? First off, it's worth pointing out that there's zero likelihood of prosecuting Kavanaugh for this alleged offense. Whatever happened happened over 35 years ago. There's no way to prove anything, and we're way beyond the statute of limitations. So the real question is, how should this accusation affect the confirmation process?

1. Kavanaugh has no right to join the Supreme Court. He suffers no injustice if his confirmation is derailed. "Beyond a reasonable doubt" isn't (and can't be) the standard for rejecting a political candidate -- and that's exactly what a Supreme Court nominee is. We The People have the right to reject aspiring politicians for any and all reasons, both high and low. Each of us is free to weigh the credibility of Kavanaugh and Ford and reach whatever decision seems best to us. It would be unjust (at this point) to demand a criminal prosecution, but it's perfectly reasonable to demand that he not be confirmed to the Supreme Court.

2. "Beyond a reasonable doubt" is too high to be the standard for rejecting a political candidate, but what should the standard be? Must a person be so guiltless that no accusation of wrongdoing is brought against him? Or no "reasonable" accusation (whatever "reasonable" means)? Or no accusation of a certain category or severity? We're each free to have our own standards, but it might be helpful to make them explicit in our own minds.

3. It's also useful to think systemically -- beyond any specific case. Do we want a system whereby opponents can derail a political candidate with a single uncorroborated accusation? What about two independent accusations, or three? There's probably some number of independent, uncorroborated accusations that would convince each person to withdraw political support from a preferred candidate. For example, Bill Cobsy had 60 accusers, which is quite convincing even though only three counts were proven at trial. I, personally, am quite comfortable shunning a person who has been accused of sexual assault by 60 people -- and I bet my real number is much lower than 60.

4. Does it matter than the alleged event occurred when Kavanaugh (then 17) and Ford (then 15) were both children? It could matter in at least two ways. A) You may consider the alleged behavior less offensive because Kavanaugh was young. B) You may consider that adult-Kavanaugh shouldn't be judged for what young-Kavanaugh did so long ago. In this specific case, 17-years-old isn't particularly young, so (A) may be less relevant than in the general case.

5. None of the blog posts or news reports that I've seen have mentioned it, but neither Kavanaugh nor Ford would be in this mess if they had followed the Pence rule (a.k.a., the Billy Graham rule. Aspiring politicians take note.

Update:

What the heck? Brett Kavanaugh's mother was the judge in in a 1996 home-foreclosure case in which the defendants were the parents of Kavanaugh's accuser Christine Blasey Ford. Here's the docket.


The US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine conclude that paper ballots are the most secure method for conducting elections.

The report, released on 6 September, calls for all US elections to be conducted using such ballots by the 2020 presidential election. It comes after US intelligence agencies concluded that the Russian government backed attempts to infiltrate the United States's election infrastructure during the 2016 presidential election. The report's recommendations were developed by a committee whose members had experience ranging from computer science to officiating elections.

Check out what method your state uses, and if there's no "paper trail" call your legislator. Eliminating "Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) Systems" entirely would seem to be prudent.


With serendipitous timing we learn that Brian Amerige, a senior Facebook engineer, has written an internal post about the company's lack of political diversity. Of course we all remember the outcry when Google engineer James Damore wrote a similar thesis a year ago and was quickly fired, but this time the writing was leaked just as President Trump has been denouncing the company and barely a week before Facebook's COO is scheduled to testify before the Senate.

The dispute over employees' political ideology arose a week before Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook's chief operating officer, is scheduled to testify at a Senate hearing about social media manipulation in elections. A team helping Ms. Sandberg get ready for the hearing next Wednesday has warned her that some Republican lawmakers may raise questions about Facebook and biases, according to two people involved in the preparations.

On Tuesday, Mr. Trump again brought up the issue of bias by tech companies with tweets attacking Google. In remarks later in the day, he widened his focus to include Twitter and Facebook.

Those companies "better be careful because you can't do that to people," Mr. Trump said. "I think that Google, and Twitter and Facebook, they are really treading on very, very troubled territory and they have to be careful. It is not fair to large portions of the population."

So will Amerige be fired? I predict not, but oh the wailing and gnashing of teeth.


Legal euthanasia is a slippery slope, as Canadian Roger Foley has demonstrated by releasing tapes of hospital staff seeming to urge him to take his own life.

"You have already violated my preferences...So what is the plan that you know of?" Foley asks the man.

"Roger, this is not my show," the man replies. "I told you my piece of this was to talk to you about if you had interest in assisted dying."

In a separate audio recording from January 2018, another man is heard asking Foley how he's doing and whether he feels like he wants to harm himself.

Foley tells the man that he's "always thinking I want to end my life" because of the way he's being treated at the hospital and because his requests for self-directed care have been denied.

The man is then heard telling Foley that he can "just apply to get an assisted, if you want to end your life, like you know what I mean?"

When Foley says that he is being forced to end his life, the man protests and says that's not the case.

"Oh, no, no, no," the man is heard saying. "I'm saying if you feel that way...You know what I mean? Don't get me wrong. I'm saying I don't want you to be in here and wanting to take your life."

Euthanasia is much cheaper than medical treatment, so it shouldn't be a surprise that the incentives in a government-run system line up in that direction.


New York Times has hired Sarah Jeong, who apparently doesn't like white people very much.

Jeong.jpg

Jeong can like or hate anyone she wants, and the NYT can hire anyone it wants... but this is an example of why trust in the mainstream media is at an all-time low.

The NYT says that Jeong "regrets" her previous "approach" to social media but... does she still think the same things that she thought from 2013 to 2015? There's no indication that she has changed her mind, only that from now on she intends to write hateful things in a less forthright manner.


Trump's support among Republicans and Republican-leaning independents remains remarkably high -- higher than Obama's support among Democrats was at this time in his presidency.

The media has focused on the strong support that Trump voters have for their president and Pew verified it.

Over Trump's time in the White House, Pew said that he has received the support of 84 percent of Republicans. That is more than Obama had or former President George W. Bush had and the last president to reach that level was John F. Kennedy. What's more, their numbers fluctuates but Trump's has held steady no matter what.

It's really interesting to consider how immense negativity from the media has affected the public's view of Trump. I'd guess that Trump's media opponents intend for their negativity to drive down his approval among everyone, but Trump gets a lot of mileage from the feud among his base. The feud (which both Trump and the media are responsible for, natch) is strengthening feelings on both sides but not actually changing anyone's mind at this point.


John Hinderaker points out a great example of AP reporters Ken Thomas and Jill Colvin intentionally missing the point Trump is trying to make.

Tuesday night's freewheeling rally lasted more than an hour and included numerous attacks on the media, as well as one glaring false claim. Trump was railing against the idea of noncitizens voting and advocating stricter voting laws when he claimed that IDs are required for everything else, including shopping.

"If you go out and you want to buy groceries, you need a picture on a card, you need ID," he said at the event at the Florida State Fairgrounds in Tampa. "You go out and you want to buy anything, you need ID and you need your picture."

A White House spokesman did not immediately respond to questions about when the billionaire president last bought groceries or anything else himself. Photo IDs are required for certain purchases, such as alcohol, cigarettes or cold medicine.

Is the point about groceries? Is the point about who does Trump's shopping (or Hillary's, or Obama's)? Obviously the argument Trump is making is that requiring identification to vote is reasonable, since identification is already required for many mundane transactions (like buying groceries with a credit card or check). Journalists may or may not agree with his proposal, but they should at least engage with the President's proposal in good faith rather than pretending that it's incomprehensible.


I noted yesterday that President Trump keeps doing the same things because his approach is working for him. Today Dov Fischer sarcastically writes that everyone is smart except Trump.

It really is quite simple. Everyone is smart except Donald J. Trump. That's why they all are billionaires and all got elected President. Only Trump does not know what he is doing. Only Trump does not know how to negotiate with Vladimir Putin. Anderson Cooper knows how to stand up to Putin. The whole crowd at MSNBC does. All the journalists do.

They could not stand up to Matt Lauer at NBC. They could not stand up to Charlie Rose at CBS. They could not stand up to Mark Halperin at NBC. Nor up to Leon Wieseltier at the New Republic, nor Jann Wenner at Rolling Stone, nor Michael Oreskes at NPR, at the New York Times, or at the Associated Press. But -- oh, wow! -- can they ever stand up to Putin! Only Trump is incapable of negotiating with the Russian tyrant.


Byron York has a good analysis of why President Trump seems so resistant to acknowledging Russian meddling with our political system. He could have simply agreed with the widespread consensus that Russia tried to interfere with the 2016 election, but instead he refused to give a straightforward answer.

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

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

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

York wrote, "Trump's approach doesn't work for the Trump-Russia probe", but for several years now we've been hearing about how "Trump's approach doesn't work" for hundreds of challenges -- and yet it seems to be working better and more consistently than previous, more conventional approaches. Trump's approach doesn't work every time, but neither does conventional thinking. Trump has had incredible success with his approach so far, so one can understand why he sticks with it.


I'll resist the urge to make a Strzok/"struck" pun, but here are three takes on the man's Congressional testimony.

First, Andrew C. McCarthy says that his testimony illustrates that the Congressional investigations are a farce.

The principal question before the joint investigation of the House Judiciary and Oversight Committees is whether the Democratic administration's law-enforcement and intelligence arms strained to manufacture an espionage case against the Republican candidate, having buried an eminently prosecutable criminal case against the Democratic presidential nominee.

It should be straightforward to answer this question, provided that the investigative process has the one attribute central to any credible probe: the capacity to compel the production of evidence and testimony, with the corollary power to hold witnesses in contempt for defiance.

The House investigation has devolved into farce because it lacks this feature.

Second, Mark Penn highlights the flat-out lies by "deep state" actors.

I've seen President Clinton deny he had a relationship with "that woman, Miss Lewinsky." I've seen President Obama assure people they will get to keep their doctor under ObamaCare. And I've seen former press secretary Sean Spicer declare that President Trump's inaugural crowd was larger than Obama's.

But these falsehoods pale in comparison to the performances of a series of "deep state" witnesses who have combined chutzpah with balderdash, culminating so far in the testimony of FBI agent Peter Strzok.

Let's review just some of the highlights.

Third, Michael Goodwin says that while the whole FBI isn't rotten, the head sure was.

Then there is Comey's successor, Wray. He looks as if he wandered into the wrong movie theater and can't find the exit.

He defined himself as unwilling to tackle the mess he inherited by downplaying the devastating inspector general report on the handling of the Clinton investigation. While conceding the findings made it "clear we've got some work to do," he minimized them by saying, "It's focused on a specific set of events back in 2016, and a small number of FBI employees connected with those events. Nothing in the report impugns the integrity of our workforce as a whole, or the FBI as an institution."

Baloney. While it's true only a fraction of the total employees were singled out, they were the director of the FBI, his top deputy, the deputy's top lawyer and Strzok, the head of counterintelligence.

Others were also faulted, but not named, including an agent who tried to get his son a job on Clinton's campaign while sending campaign boss John Podesta "heads up" emails.


I've been advocating the repeal of the 17th Amendment for a long time -- the direct election of Senators has weakened States and Congress, and strengthened the Presidency and the Supreme Court. Glenn Reynold's tongue-in-cheek (?) proposal to expand SCOTUS to 59 justices sounds like a promising way to re-empower the States and (continue to) bypass the dysfunctional Congress.

OK, 1,001 justices might be too many, but perhaps we should substantially expand the Supreme Court. After all, if the country can be thrown into a swivet by the retirement of a single 81-year-old man, it suggests that the Supreme Court has become too important, and too sensitive to small changes, to play its role constructively as it's currently made up.

Increasing the number of justices would reduce the importance of any single retirement or appointment. And it would also reduce the mystique of the court, which I see as a feature, not a bug. Nine justices could seem like a special priesthood; two or three times that number looks more like a legislature, and those get less respect. Which would be fair. ...

So forget 15 justices. Let's keep the nine we have who are appointed by the president, and add one from each state, to be appointed by governors, and then confirmed by the Senate. Fifty-nine justices is enough to ensure (I hope) that they aren't all from Harvard and Yale as is the case now, and enough to limit the mystique of any particular justice. If the Supreme Court is going to function, as it does, like a super-legislature, it might as well be legislature-sized.

I love this idea, and it doesn't require a Constitutional amendment.

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