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Politicians use this sentence to express general agreement with an idea while maintaining plausible deniability in case the idea becomes unpopular.

It's not just voting voting rights for terrorists. Saying you're willing to "have a conversation" about any issue is implicit support for the underlying idea. The only question is whether you believe it's politically feasible. Would Harris have a conversation about legalizing fully automatic firearms? Of course not. Would she be open to having a conversation about banning post-20-week abortions? No. Harris won't even have a conversation about banning post-abortion abortions. Any deviation from wild-eyed progressivism has the potential to brand you a heretic in this environment.

Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have been the leading instigators of this dynamic, but they're not alone. It's a group effort. Every time a candidacy lags, the contender will offer a new attention-grabbing plan to confiscate wealth for some socialistic policy proposal. Want to form a commission to develop slavery reparations proposals? Let's have a conversation. "Free college?" Let's talk. Nationalize the entire health care industry? Let's start a dialogue. You want to pass a law that guarantees every American a job? Yep, let's huddle on it.

How about a plan that eliminates all fossil fuel energy production, the lifeblood of American industry and life, and replace them with windmills, bicycles, and choo choo trains? Nearly every Democratic Party presidential hopeful--including Harris, Sanders, Warren, Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, Julián Castro, and Beto O'Rourke--says we need to get a conversation going.

The underlying issue at the moment is that the Democrat party has been captured by radicals who won't tolerate compromise. Democrat politicians need to pander to radical zealotry without sabotaging their chances in the general election. This dilemma presents an opportunity for triangulation by Republicans.

At this point, Republicans should figure out ways to pose questions to Democrats in public and stimulate extremist contagion: Do you support allowing non-citizens voting rights? Do you believe all abortions should be paid for by taxpayers? Do you believe that border walls should be torn down? Do you think it would be okay for presidents to unilaterally institute bans on fossil fuels to save the earth if Republicans had "refused to act"?


Wow, I love this euphemism! Government agencies don't break the law, they simply under-comply!

Office of Management and Budget Acting Director Russell Vought is issuing new guidance to all agencies on complying with the Congressional Review Act, a 1996 law that requires "major" rules be submitted to Congress at least 60 days before they take effect.

A senior administration official told The Washington Times that the Trump administration has found, with Government Accountability Office reports, that "agencies sometimes under-comply with CRA."

"We decided that some additional guidance from OMB is necessary to the agencies to help them comply with the law," the official said in an exclusive interview. "Many agencies often don't know how the CRA works. Agencies often don't even know to ask."

I wonder how far a citizen would get with this approach? "Actually officer, I wasn't speeding, I was merely under-complying with the speed limit."

Anyway, good on President Trump for reining in these executive agencies.


According to Jeff Carlson at the Epoch Times, the DOJ ruled out charging Hillary Clinton with gross negligence for her mishandling of classified materials. This article is supposedly based on unreleased transcripts of Congressional testimony that the author got access to.

Lisa Page, an FBI lawyer who served as special counsel to Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe during the time of the Clinton investigation, noted during her testimony in July 2018, that the DOJ was intimately involved in the investigation.

"Everybody talks about this as if this was the FBI investigation, and the truth of the matter is there was not a single step, other than the July 5th statement, there was not a single investigative step that we did not do in consultation with or at the direction of the Justice Department," Page told congressional investigators on July 13, 2018.

Comey had also hinted at the influence exerted by the DOJ over the Clinton investigation in his July recommendation, stating that "there are obvious considerations, like the strength of the evidence, especially regarding intent."

Intent is a requirement of several statutes the FBI was looking into. But intent is specifically not a factor under the charge of gross negligence--contained within 18 U.S. Code § 793(f)--a fact that was brought up by Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-TX) during Page's testimony:

Rep. Ratcliffe: Okay. And that's -- I think, when you talk about intent, that's certainly true under part of 18 793(f), but it sounds like you all just blew over gross negligence.

Ms. Page: We did not blow over gross negligence. We, in fact -- and, in fact, the Director -- because on its face, it did seem like, well, maybe there's a potential here for this to be the charge. And we had multiple conversations, multiple conversations with the Justice Department about charging gross negligence.

Page made clear during her testimony that the DOJ had decided that due to "constitutional vagueness" a charge of gross negligence would not be supported without accompanying proof of intent--a seemingly oxymoronic position:

Rep. Ratcliffe: Okay. So let me if I can, I know I'm testing your memory, but when you say advice you got from the Department, you're making it sound like it was the Department that told you: You're not going to charge gross negligence because we're the prosecutors and we're telling you we're not going to --

Ms. Page: That is correct.

Rep. Ratcliffe: -- bring a case based on that.


I'm sure the irony is lost on the Leftist barbarians who are threatening to murder supporters of the Second Amendment in Washington State.

Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich said he refused to enforce Washington State's latest gun control law, I-1639. According to the Sheriff's office, a person called into Crime Stoppers to report a threat made on Facebook.

"Sheriff Knezovich is going to get a bullet in his skull," the post allegedly read. The caller also said he'd shoot anyone who disagrees with I-1639.

When investigators looked into the person's Facebook account, the user also commented on a news story about Grant County Sheriff Tom Jones refusing to enforce the new law. The person commented on the news story saying, "I am going to kill every single one of them," referring to Republicans.

I can't imagine why anyone feels the need to own and carry a gun for self-defense.


Has the shutdown caused you any inconvenience yet? Chances are that unless you work for the federal government the answer is "no". However, the surging disruption to airport operations is an excellent example of why federal control of almost everything should be minimized.

The federal government has been partially shut down now for 32 days, and nowhere is feeling the strain quite like the nation's airports, where tens of thousands of essential federal employees are required to show up to work regardless of whether they're getting paid.

On Monday, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) reported that 10 percent of its agents were absent from their posts, up from three percent in the same time period last year. Agents are reportedly playing hooky to work jobs that actually pay them.

The result has been longer wait times, closed security checkpoints, and collapsing morale among those still on the job. Headlines are filled with stories of TSA agents relying on donations of free food or playing explicit, uncensored rap music at checkpoints.

Holding it together only slightly better are the nation's air traffic controllers, some 10,500 of whom have been working without pay and without the aid the 3,000 "non-essential" support staff during the shutdown.

The federal government would be less dysfunctional -- and the inevitable dysfunction would be less damaging -- if the federal government didn't have so much power and involvement in every-day life.


The best thing for America will be if one side or the other decisively wins the government shutdown. Politicians and journalists are shocked and confused that Trump is pushing for a victory instead of yet another indecisive compromise, which is how our elites are used to doing business.

The standstill also underscored the dysfunction that has gripped Washington since divided government began this month. Overtures to Trump's core voters have dominated the White House's strategy as Democrats have looked on in confusion, after the last round of talks between Trump and congressional leaders collapsed last week when Trump walked out.

No matter what Democrats and independents think about the shutdown Trump simply can't win reelection without his core voters, and his core voters will reject him if he caves on the wall. It doesn't matter how low his approval rating goes with anyone else. This is the same equation that Democrats face on, e.g., abortion, where they have no political room to compromise.

A group led by Graham worked last week to stitch together a bipartisan immigration deal that would trade wall funding for protections for unauthorized immigrants brought to the United States as children. But the group disbanded after Vice President Mike Pence announced that Trump wasn't interested in such a deal.

Graham, speaking later on "Fox News Sunday," urged Trump to "open up the government for a short period of time, like three weeks before he pulls the plug, see if we can get a deal" on the wall.

This is the kind of compromise that our elites love to make because both sides can "claim victory" without anything actually being decided. The can gets kicked down the road for a few weeks, a few years, a few terms, whatever. Voters on both sides get further entrenched, and politicians leverage their own failure to win to rile up their base for the next election.

"We do need to have a Plan B," said Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis. "It looks like both sides are pretty well dug in. I don't like the dysfunction in Washington, D.C., so I'm trying to alleviate that dysfunction."

Johnson is one of many GOP senators straining to balance their alliance with Trump with their desire to end the impasse. His plan involves "opening up the essential parts of government and making sure that people who are working are being paid," while keeping some agencies shut down.

Senator Johnson is eager for an indecisive stalemate. The pain of the shutdown is what could eventually force the two political armies into a decisive battle, instead of just endless maneuvering. If you remove the pain, there's no motivation for a conclusive resolution. Maybe Republicans are cowards and/or don't believe they can win a battle -- but who can tell before you actually fight? They'd have had a better chance if they had forced this conflict to a resolution 15 years ago, but now they're stuck in the present with a weaker hand.

No matter who wins, it will be better for America if we can reach a decisive conclusion instead of prolonging the agony for another few decades.


Despite being opposed to Obamacare and other federal schemes for universal health care coverage, I'm excited to see smaller units of government (e.g., cities and states) experiment with such systems. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has announced a city-paid comprehensive coverage plan and I'm excited to see how it goes:

New York City will begin guaranteeing comprehensive health care to every single resident regardless of someone's ability to pay or immigration status, an unprecedented plan that will protect the more than half a million New Yorkers currently using the ER as a primary provider, Mayor de Blasio said Tuesday.

It's not health insurance, his spokesman clarified after the surprise announcement on MSNBC.

"This is the city paying for direct comprehensive care (not just ERs) for people who can't afford it, or can't get comprehensive Medicaid -- including 300,000 undocumented New Yorkers," spokesman Eric Phillips tweeted.

New York City is one of the richest places in the history of mankind, so there's no reason this system should fail unless it's mismanaged. I hope the results are positive, and that we all learn a lot about how to successfully run such an ambitious health care program.

De Blasio said the plan will provide primary and specialty care, from pediatrics to OBGYN, geriatric, mental health and other services, to the city's roughly 600,000 uninsured. ... The program is estimated to cost about $100 million, Politico said. The mayor said there will be no tax hikes to fund it.

That estimate seems... optimistic. I'm very interested to see how they provide health care at the annual cost of only $167 per person.


Michael Cohen seems like a "rat" but former chairman of the Federal Election Commission Bradley A. Smith says that what Cohen plead guilty to isn't even a crime.

To this intuitively obvious fact -- very few people would think paying hush money is a legitimate campaign expenditure -- those eager to hang a charge on Mr. Trump typically respond that he made the payments when he did because of the looming election. That may be true, but note that the same is true of the entrepreneur, who instructs his counsel to settle the lawsuits pending against him. Further, note that in both cases, while the candidate has no legal obligation to pay at all, the events that give rise to the claim against him are unrelated to the campaign for office. Paying them may help the campaign, but the obligations exist "irrespective" of the run for office. Mr. Trump's alleged decade-old affairs occurred long before he became a candidate for president and were not caused by his run for president.

Further clinching the case, in writing its implementing regulations for the statute, the Federal Election Commission specifically rejected a proposal that an expense could be considered a campaign expenditure if it were merely "primarily related to the candidate's campaign." This was done specifically to prevent candidates from claiming that things that benefitted them personally were done because they would also benefit the campaign. And with that in mind, it is worth noting Mr. Cohen's sentencing statement, in which he writes that he "felt obligated to assist [Trump], on [Trump's] instruction, to attempt to prevent Woman-1 and Woman-2 from disseminating narratives that would adversely affect the Campaign and cause personal embarrassment to Client-1 and his family." (Emphasis in original.)

Do you think Trump's critics would have been satisfied if he had used declared campaign money to pay off his mistresses? I don't.

John Hinderaker suggests that under this new theory there are many more illegal campaign contributions yet to be found.

If we are going to start prosecuting illegal campaign contributions-sadly, too late to go after Barack Obama's two scofflaw campaigns-maybe we should begin by charging Google and its executives with federal crimes. Earlier today, Google's CEO, Sundar Pichai, testified before the House Judiciary Committee on, among other things, Google's apparent attempt to help Hillary Clinton win the 2016 presidential election. Tyler O'Neil at PJ Media reports:
On Tuesday, Google CEO Sundar Pichai struggled to respond to Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio)'s persistent questions about an email from Google's former head of multicultural marketing, Eliana Murillo, reporting that the company attempted to push out the Latino vote "in key states" during the 2016 election. Murillo's email, reported by Fox News's Tucker Carlson, essentially admitted that Google had given Hillary Clinton an in-kind donation during that key election.

I look forward to all the upcoming prosecutions that this new interpretation of the law will lead to -- finally one sure way to get money out of politics!


Glenn Reynolds writes that Trump should bust the big tech monopolies and I certainly agree.

Roosevelt built a strong reputation by going after the trusts, huge combinations that placed control of entire industries in the hands of one or a few men. He broke up John D. Rockefeller's Standard Oil, the Google of its day. He shut down J.P. Morgan's Northern Securities Co., which would have monopolized rail transportation in much of the United States. And he pursued numerous other cases (45 in all) that broke up monopolies and returned competition to markets.

Roosevelt operated against a Gilded Age background in which a few companies had, by means both fair and foul, eliminated virtually all competition. This was bad for consumers, as it drove prices up. It was also, surprisingly, bad for shareholders: Wu notes that Standard Oil's value actually increased post-breakup, as it went from inefficient monopoly to a collection of competitive companies. Most of all, it was bad for American society.

Big monopolies aren't just an economic threat: They're a political threat. Because they're largely free of market constraints, they don't have to put all their energy into making a better product for less money. Instead, they put a lot of their energy into political manipulation to protect their monopoly.

Even though these tech companies tend to lean far to the political left, both leftists and rightists should be able to agree that we'd all be better off if these behemoths were broken up. Given the populist surge in America right now it's hard to imagine our next President, whether from the left or right, will be an elitist technocrat in the mold of Obama or Bush. These monopolies are living on borrowed time.


Being loyal to your friends, family, God, and country is a generally seen as an admirable trait, in stark contrast to the traitor who turns against people who put their trust in him. But Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker isn't appropriately loyal to the president who appointed him, he's a no-good Trump loyalist!

The main complaint lodged against the acting attorney general is that Whitaker is a Trump loyalist: During his tenure as Sessions' chief of staff, Whitaker reportedly served as a "balm" between the Justice Department and the president, acting as the president's "eyes and ears" within what Trump viewed "an enemy institution."

Consider former Attorneys General Eric Holder and Loretta Lynch -- were they loyal, or loyalists? It's hard to imagine either of them allowing a special counsel to investigate Obama or Hillary under any circumstances. Would we prefer unelected, nearly unaccountable appointees to govern us according to their own will, rather than the Will of the People as embodied in their elected President? President Trump has already had to waste two years bending the bureaucracy to the will of the electorate, and the DOJ has been among the most intransigent.

The proof came early: Within two weeks of Trump's inauguration, acting attorney general and Obama administration holdover Sally Yates directed Justice attorneys not to defend the president's travel ban, forcing Trump to fire her. Since then, congressional investigations, Freedom of Information Act requests and dedicated work by Sessions have exposed additional efforts by Justice and FBI career employees to undermine the president. And yet even after nearly two years of cleaning house, just two months ago a supposedly senior official in the Trump administration claimed anonymously in the New York Times that "many of the senior officials in his own administration are working diligently from within to frustrate parts of his agenda."

While Trump's opponents may cheer such insubordination, our country suffers when unelected and unknown bureaucrats seek to thwart the agenda of the man freely chosen by voters to serve as our president. Whitaker's fidelity to Trump may be striking in contrast to the status quo in the D.C. swamp, but it is most assuredly not a stain on the acting attorney general's credentials or character.

It's not too much to expect loyalty from your subordinates; if you can't be loyal in good conscience, then you should resign. You'll have another chance to make your case to the American people in the next election.


Monica Showalter argues that Obama's campaigning was ineffective because many of the candidates he worked for lost, but I think that's the wrong way to look at it.

That said, the big loser who stands out here is hard-campaigning President Obama, the guy who thought he was the star of the Democratic Party and who, throwing the tradition of former presidents staying aloof from politics out the window, campaigned hard, long, and loud, for Democrats in this midterm. Turns out the ones he fought the hardest for lost.

Now he stands exposed as politically irrelevant, powerless, an embarrassment. Sorry 'bout that legacy thing, Barry-O.

Some of the Democrats campaigned for were in very tough races. If Obama wanted to maximize his "win rate", he would have stuck to the easy races.

But then there were the midterm campaigns that weren't gimmes, some very high profile, and high media-exposure ones: Joe Donnelly of Indiana for Senate. Bill Nelson of Florida for Senate. Andrew Gillum of Florida for governor. Stacey Abrams of Georgia for governor.

Those were the ones Obama went hoarse campaigning for, yelling and waving his arms, voice cracking, speeches described as fiery, telling voters to vote for these guys or die. With Gillum in particular, racial appeals were a factor and Obama's presence was supposed to help. Gillum had a big media buildup about being a first black governor of Florida as an argument to draw votes, and he later cried racism to fend off corruption allegations. Adding Obama to campaign was obviously part of the appeal. This time, the race-politics identity card simply failed.

And Obama? What did he get? Zilch. Zip. Zero. Nada. The voters rather noticibly rejected the ex-president's appeal for votes. Been there, done that.

The listed candidates faced an uphill battle, and many of the races were very close. I'd say that the Republican victories reflect voter preference for Republican policies, not a failure on the part of Barack Obama.


It's natural to expect big results when "your team" controls the levers of power in Washington D.C., but as Republicans have noticed over the past two years you're likely to be disappointed. President Trump has had some major victories in the first half of his first term, but few legislative accomplishments. But maybe Congressional inaction is the best that Americans can hope for these days, and that's exactly what last night's election results are set to deliver.

The idea that gridlock is good is based on the notion that most of what Congress does is probably bad, and that when Congress can't do much we're better off. As Bill Kort wrote in 2017, "Gridlock is good because when Congress is tied up in knots they can't do anything to hurt us. This idea has been verified by the market many times over the past 25 years."

It would be nice for our government to return to "normal", with both parties finding a sliver of common ground to make positive change (haha), but I find it hard to imagine that the Democrats are going to want to work with Trump, and Trump is going to bang them like a drum as he campaigns for re-election over the next two years. If there's another Supreme Court vacancy, the Democrats will be apoplectic.

So my prediction is that nothing much gets done, and that's probably just fine.


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.


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.


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.

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