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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.


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.


And now they're reaping the whirlwind. Remember this from 2013?

reid filibuster 2.jpg

Weakening the filibuster weakened the institution of the Senate and strengthened the Presidency, regardless of which party holds the majority in the chamber. It was a short-sighted decision by Harry Reid and the Democrats, taken for partisan advantage, and the Republicans doubled-down in 2017. De-escalation would would require the parties to trust each other, but that's impossible in the present political climate.

I personally think America would be better off with a stronger, more active, less risk-adverse Congress. The omnibus spending bills, partisan oversight committees, and delegation of lawmaking powers to the executive bureaucracy are all dangerous, and can generally traced back to the 17th Amendment which established the popular election of Senators. There's no panacea, but repealing the 17th Amendment would be a good start at fixing the current mess in the Senate.


This table from Open Secrets showing union contributions pretty much explains why liberals and Democrats are mad about Janus v. AFSCME.

public sector union contributions.jpg

As President F.D.R. warned us, public sector unions are "unthinkable and intolerable".


In another 5-4 decision, SCOTUS ruled this morning that members of public employee unions can't be forced to pay for political speech. These kinds of decisions are exactly why many people voted for Trump instead of Hillary.

In 1977, when public sector unions were getting established, the high court said teachers and other public employees may not be forced to pay full union dues if some of the money went for political contributions. But the justices upheld the lesser fair share fees on the theory that all of the employees benefited from a union contract and its grievance procedures.

But today's more conservative court disagreed and said employees have a right not to give any support to a union. These payments were described as a form of "compelled speech" which violates the 1st Amendment.

The anti-union National Right to Work Foundation, which funded the challenge, predicted the ruling would free more than 5 million public employees from supporting their unions.

For the unions, which traditionally support Democrats, the ruling will mean an immediate loss of some funding and a gradual erosion in their membership. Union officials fear that an unknown number of employees will quit paying dues if doing so is entirely optional.

An organization that takes your money by force as a condition of employment is inherently unjust. Voluntary associations of all kinds -- unions, governments, churches, corporations, clubs -- should be protected, but no one should be forced to join or fund something against their will. This is liberty 101.


How stupid do they think we are? Just like Jim Comey's "exoneration" of Hillary Clinton, the FBI Inspector General's report overflows with findings of criminality and then proclaims that there's nothing to see here. What's the deal? Why bother documenting over 500 pages of damning evidence just to withhold judgement?

"[W]e did not have confidence that Strzok's decision was free from bias." Delicately put. After reading some of the violently anti-Trump effusions the two exchanged, you might find your confidence that their behavior was "free from bias" shaken as well. Try this:
Page: "[Trump's] not ever going to become president, right? Right?!"

Strzok: "No. No he won't. We'll stop it."

This shocking exchange has rightly been front and center in the cataract of commentary that has been disgorged about the IG report over the last few days. It is just one of the scores of examples of what Andrew McCarthy crisply described as the "ceaseless stream of anti-Trump bile" adduced in the report--adduced, and then half swept under the rug in a forest of anodyne verbiage.

"We'll stop it."

Who is "we"? Not Peter Strzok and Lisa Page as individuals. It's the collective or institutional "we": "We, that is the FBI, will stop Donald Trump from becoming president of the United States."

Even more egregious, that damning exchange was redacted from earlier transcripts provided to Congress. Why? Because revealing it endangers national security? Um, no. It doesn't take a genius to connect the dots here.

Listen up government employees: the American people respect your service to our country, but you're not our masters. You work for us. You're free to vote for anyone you want, but you must not use your public offices to undermine democracy.


Sharyl Attkisson has a brilliant recasting of the "Russia investigation" as if it were an attempted bank robbery and the government decided to investigate the bank instead of the robbers, and then didn't even bother to prevent the robbery.

Once upon a time, the FBI said some thugs planned to rob a bank in town. Thugs are always looking to rob banks. They try all the time. But at this particular time, the FBI was hyper-focused on potential bank robberies in this particular town.

The best way to prevent the robbery -- which is the goal, after all -- would be for the FBI to alert all the banks in town. "Be on high alert for suspicious activity," the FBI could tell the banks. "Report anything suspicious to us. We don't want you to get robbed."

Instead, in this fractured fairytale, the FBI followed an oddly less effective, more time-consuming, costlier approach. It focused on just one bank. And, strangely, it picked the bank that was least likely to be robbed because nobody thought it would ever get elected president -- excuse me, I mean, because it had almost no cash on hand. (Why would robbers want to rob the bank with no cash?)

Just go read the whole thing.


Why does our political class have such an obsession with style? "Never Trump" Republicans loathe the president primarily because he offends their aesthetic sensibilities, and now Justice Neil Gorsuch's critics are condemning him for his style as well.

Gorsuch quickly antagonized his colleagues on the bench, reportedly skipping a justices-only meeting Chief Justice John Roberts had asked him to attend and then dominating oral arguments in the first case he heard, about a workplace-discrimination claim. He later dissented in the case, lecturing the majority for overstepping its bounds. "If a statute needs repair, there is a constitutionally prescribed way to do it. It's called legislation," he wrote. "Congress already wrote a perfectly good law. I would follow it." In cases since, he has come across as "awkward," "condescending," and "tone-deaf," in the words of NPR's Nina Totenberg, and has prompted Court watchers to comb his opinions for egregiously gassy prose -- then launch them into Twitter orbit with the hashtag #GorsuchStyle.

"That style stuff is what has infuriated people on the left more so than anything else," says Ian Samuel, who teaches at Harvard Law School and co-hosts the influential Supreme Court podcast First Mondays. "He's not any more conservative than Justice Alito, for example, but attracts a disproportionate amount of hate.

Is this appeal to stylistic sensibilities growing more common because it garners more agreement from the target audience? Perhaps more people dislike Trump's style than dislike his policies, and more people dislike Gorsuch's style than dislike his rulings?

I don't think the fixation on style over substance does America any good.


FBI leakers admit to spying on Trump campaign 100 days before the election. The purpose of the leaks to to cover-their-butts in advance of the Inspector General report.

It's been nearly 24 hours since it has been revealed to the world that President Barack Obama's Justice Department conducted a counterintelligence investigation on the Trump campaign. The investigation began 100 days before the presidential election and was executed with all the traditional tools of spy trade-craft including informants (spies) and electronic surveillance (wire tapping.)

These stunning revelations were memorialized in the bible of the Mainstream Media: It was written in the Gospel According to the New York Times.

Obama Director of National Intelligence James Clapper says it's "a good thing" that Obama was spying on his political opponent.

Clapper admitted the FBI "may have had someone who was talking to them in the campaign," referring to President Trump's 2016 presidential campaign. He explained away the possibility of an FBI informant spying on the campaign as the bureau was trying to find out "what the Russians were doing to try to substantiate themselves in the campaign or influence or leverage it."

Obama's Director of National Intelligence then went on to say, "So, if there was someone that was observing that sort of thing, that's a good thing."

Mollie Hemingway dissects the NYT article based on the leaks.

This is a stunning admission for those Americans worried that federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies might use their powers to surveil, leak against, and target Americans simply for their political views or affiliations. As Sean Davis wrote, "The most amazing aspect about this article is how blasé it is about the fact that the Obama admin was actively spying on four affiliates of a rival political campaign weeks before an election."

The story says the FBI was worried that if it came out they were spying on Trump campaign it would "only reinforce his claims that the election was being rigged against him." It is easy to understand how learning that the FBI was spying on one's presidential campaign might reinforce claims of election-rigging.


Muller's indictment of Russian conspirators appears to be backfiring.

Against all expectations, in April, lawyers for one of the Russian corporate defendants, Concord Management and Consulting, LLC, entered their appearances in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. They followed up by serving extensive discovery requests on Team Mueller seeking full disclosure of the government's case and investigation including sensitive national security and intelligence information.

This type of discovery is called "graymail" (as distinguished from blackmail) in which the government is faced with having to disclose closely guarded state secrets in order to proceed with the prosecution. The alternative is to drop the charges.

Given that the maximum penalty against Concord is an uncollectable $500,000 fine or equally uncollectable compensation to anyone damaged by the alleged conspiracy, the choice is all the more bitter for Team Mueller. Should they litigate the discovery requests? If they lose and are faced with having to disclose sensitive intelligence information about the case and their investigation, should they withdraw the indictment against Concord? And, if they drop the charges, are they prepared for the resulting public mockery and howls of derision?

Andrew C. McCarthy has more on the topic of judicial hardship for Mueller. Seems like it's past time to wrap up this investigation.


Last month I wrote about government Democrats scrambling to hire Andrew McCabe after he was fired from the FBI for-cause, and I warned them that they might regret embracing the former acting FBI director after his perfidy became more widely known. Obviously I was right.

Comey has declared that McCabe is simply not telling the truth when he said that Comey knew of his leaking information to the media. Indeed, he said that he ordered the investigation into finding the culprit. McCabe's lawyer Michael Bromwich has insisted that people should not buy Comey's "white knight" account and that he is offering a false narrative.In the meantime, McCabe is lashing out at this accusers, including the career officials of the Inspector General's office who took the unprecedented step of calling for the former acting FBI Director to be fired. Bromwich says that McCabe will now sue the Trump administration for defamation and wrongful termination. Good luck with that. The Office of Professional Responsibility and the Inspector General's office is composed of career officials who decided that McCabe should be fired. The IG found that McCabe leaked the information for his own personal interest and not the public interest. That hardly seems like a compelling basis for either wrongful termination or defamation unless Bromwich knows some major fact that that is not public.

In the meantime, after raising over $500,000 on GoFundMe (a campaign that I criticized as being premature), Bromwich has announced that he is going back for more donations. The last campaign ended just before the IG disclosed that McCabe lied not once but four times -- and before Comey himself effectively called McCabe a liar. Indeed, Comey is invested in showing McCabe is a liar since he previously testified under oath that he never leaked or approved a leak as director.

I defended James Comey almost a year ago, but that was clearly a mistake considering the motivations he has explained in his book.

We must have the worst political class in American history.

Former deep-stater Jack Goldsmith describes how the intelligence community is damaging American and itself by flailing wildly against President Trump. Before I even begin the quote, it's worth mentioning that there is so far no public evidence that anyone in the Trump campaign or administration illegally conspired with Russia.

Even if it turns out that Flynn and others close to Trump were in the bag for the Russians, many people will for a long time view the anti-Trump leaks as political abuse of intelligence to harm political enemies.

This perception will be deepened by the Trump administration's relentless and often false attacks on the integrity of the intelligence community, including its false suggestion that the original collection that incidentally captured Flynn's communications, as opposed to the leaks of such information, was illegitimate.

The Flynn and related leaks didn't just violate the law - they violated a core commitment the intelligence community made in after the era of Hoover not to politicize, or appear to politicize, the use of surveillance tools or the fruits of their use.

Can it Happen Here? review: urgent studies in rise of authoritarian America
Read more
The whole intelligence collection system - which has an importance that far transcends its undoubtedly large importance in this discrete context - is vulnerable here for the simple reason that the intermixture of politics with intelligence collection is the intelligence system's Achilles' heel.

However bad you think Trump is, he manages to bring out even worse from his opponents.


As civilization gets more complex, we should expect to see a proliferation of unintended consequences. The human mind simply can't foresee the consequences for its actions, and most of the time unintended consequences are bad. Wariness of unintended consequences should be a strong motivation for limited, simplified government.

... the problem facing the U.S. was that deaths from so-called semi-synthetic opioids, such as oxycodone (the drug in OxyContin) and hydrocodone, ballooned to more than 10,000 in 2010 -- up from fewer than 3,000 a decade before, according to data from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

The part of the plan to get addicts off OxyContin worked reasonably well, at least initially. Many addicts no longer abused the reformulated medication.

But it didn't necessarily result in a happily-ever-after scenario.

Instead, the junkies quickly switched to heroin, according to the NBER research.

"The reformulation did not generate a reduction in combined heroin and opioid mortality -- each prevented opioid death was replaced with a heroin death," states an April-dated paper titled "How the Reformulation of Oxycontin Ignited the Heroin Epidemic."

"We attribute the recent quadrupling of heroin death rates to the August 2010 reformulation of an oft-abused prescription opioid, OxyContin," continues the report, authored by William Evans and Ethan Lieber, both from the University of Notre Dame, and Patrick Power from Boston University.

Good intentions aren't enough, and something doing nothing is the best course of action.


This is one of the dumbest things I've ever read.

Knives have been essential tools since our Stone Age ancestors banged rocks together to sharpen them. Somehow Boy and Girl Scouts have managed to carry knives for a century without stabbing anyone.

Maybe London's problem isn't knives, but people who want to stab each other.



Why disarm everyone except the people you don't trust?


Democrats are lining up to hire former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe after he was fired two days before he became eligible to collect his federal pension. He claims he did nothing wrong, but Democrats would be smart to wait for the inspector general's report before offering McCabe a job. There's no hurry: he can get earn his maximum pension with two more days of work, even if he has to wait a bit.

More Democratic lawmakers are coming forward with offers to hire former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe after he was fired Friday, just two days before he was eligible for his pension.

Democratic Reps. Seth Moulton (Mass.), Jamie Raskin (Md.) and Luis Gutiérrez (Ill.) have all made job offers on Twitter. The lawmakers are extending the offers in an attempt to help McCabe to qualify for his benefits.

"Would be happy to consider this," Moulton said of hiring McCabe. "The Sixth District of MA would benefit from the wisdom and talent of such an experienced public servant."

This must poll well for Democrats, but the FBI should take dishonesty from its employees very seriously.

"I was encouraged and hopeful," said Humphries, 53, in an exclusive interview with the Tampa Bay Times, reacting to the news that former FBI director Andrew McCabe had been fired.

A day earlier, both men left the FBI after 21-year careers.

Humphries retired, a short while after serving a 60-day unpaid suspension for previously speaking to the Times without permission.

McCabe, fired after the Justice Department rejected an appeal that would have let him retire this weekend, is accused in a yet-to-be-released internal report of failing to be forthcoming about a conversation he authorized between FBI officials and a journalist.

Humphries said McCabe's firing was good for the organization because it is important for top officials to be held accountable for the same transgressions agents like him are. The McCabe firing is fitting, Humphries says, for a man accused of lack of candor about media contacts whose office launched an investigation into him talking to a newspaper.

"Every employee of the FBI voluntarily swears to observe the bureau's strict standards of conduct, especially in terms of candor and ethics," said Humphries. "When we fall short of that, we can expect appropriate sanctions. Yesterday's firing of the former deputy director demonstrates that those sanctions are meted out uniformly, regardless of rank or position."

The inspector general's report isn't public yet, so anyone who hires McCabe now might be stepping into quicksand.


I'm not a Trump booster and have no responsibility to promote or defend him, but Matt Latimer's article about how "Trump is winning" because of luck is pretty hilarious.

Donald Trump is on track to win reelection to the presidency of the United States.

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

First, consider the fact that Trump is simply lucky.

Then Latimer lists off a bunch of Trump's accomplishments and "accomplishments", completely missing the fact that they're due in large part to Trump's bombast, not in spite of it. He concludes:

Yep. Trump is a helluva lucky guy. And that just might give us six more years.

At some point don't you have to concede that your victorious opponent is just better than you?


... writes Andrew C. McCarthy for the millionth time. He's my favorite legal commentator on the never-ending Russia imbroglio.

Trump has intervened unhelpfully in a number of cases, as I've pointed out. Of course, we should disapprove of this. A president should not intercede in pending criminal investigations -- I'd prefer if he never did it, and he certainly shouldn't make a habit of it. It would be better if the president hewed to that norm and custom. It would have been better if Trump had not pled on Michael Flynn's behalf to FBI director James Comey -- just as it would have been better if Obama had not publicly announced in April 2016 that he did not believe Mrs. Clinton should be indicted. But the fact that it would be preferable for a president to refrain from signaling how he wants an investigation to turn out does not mean such signaling is tantamount to a criminal obstruction felony. The authority that FBI agents and prosecutors exercise when they weigh in on the merits of an investigation or prosecution is the president's power. There is no power that the president's subordinates may exercise but that he may not, regardless of what norms and customs counsel against it.

McCarthy points out (again) that President Trump can only be checked-and-balanced by Congress and the courts, not by any kind of legal action. The problem for Democrats is that impeaching the president requires political power that they don't have, so they strain for a law enforcement option that simply doesn't exist.

They prefer to imagine Special Counsel Robert Mueller cobbling together a magic-bullet obstruction charge that might knock their nemesis out of office. It is not going to happen.

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