The Grand Immigration Debate has begun, under a deadline that may not be deadline, and with several competing plans, some of which we don’t have all the details yet. And it all may be for naught in the end anyway, as anything that can muster 60 votes in the Senate (which means at least and likely more than 9 Democrat senators voting in favor) will have a hard time passing the House, which is whipping up its own plan at the same time.

Then there’s a couple of judges – U.S. District Court Judge Garaufis in Brooklyn and U.S. District Judge William Alsup in California – who have placed injunctions on President Trump’s executive order that ended Obama’s executive order that created D.A.C.A. With the Supreme Court about to rule this Friday on whether to directly hear the government’s appeal against the Alsup injunction; or to let the case percolate up through the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Does that clear it all up? Let’s take a closer look. Here are some of the proposed plans:

  • The Secure and Succeed Act 2018, sponsored by Iowa’s Grassley and Arkansas’ Cotton. It’s a Four PIllar Plan: Pillar 1 Border Security with $25 billion for a “border wall system” (talk about covering all angles) and lots of specific security tightening measures, including enacating Kate’s Law; Pillar 2 ends chain migration; Pillar 3 cancels the Visa Lottery; and Pillar 4 provides a 10-12 year path to citizenship for up to 1.8 million Dreamers. Trump likes it seeing it’s close to what the White House has proposed.
  • The Senate Bi-partisan bill, sponsored by Collins and perhaps Jeff Flake and perhaps Tim Kaine and perhaps Don Rounds and who knows who else but not Lindsey Graham who will not support a “narrow” bill which means kicking out at least one or two of the GOP pillars in the Secure and Succeed Act.
  • Coons and McCain have a proposal that would give legal status to Dreamers without any money – at least not right away – for border security or wall construction. Not a serious contender at this point.
  • The Goodlatte bill in the House is Secure and Succeed plus. The plus being plans to force employers to ensure they hire legals through an E-Verify program as well as authorizing the Department of Justice to withhold grants from sanctuary cities. It would also include an agricultural guest worker program which people like Bernie Sanders liken to “slavery.”

Will Secure and Succeed pass the Senate? That’s a tough call and if it does it almost certainly will be watered down to get Democrat votes and reach 60 votes over all. And if the House Goodlatte bill passes (no Democrat will vote for it in the House so only 22 House Republicans can defect) that means a large gap between the Senate and the House on what kind of solution to the Dreamers and immigration they each see as viable. Immigration has been radicalized and weaponized by the left, and arguably by some on the alt-right side of things. It’s no longer about the laws on the books. It’s about painting the other side as racist or as un-American. This kind of debate cannot be done in a week, if ever.

The Democrats have moved their retreat to the Capitol complex. Which means they’re not moving anywhere over the next few days. Which means that maybe, or even likely, a shutdown will be avoided with full-year defense funding balanced by Community Health Centers and a lifting for 2 years of spending caps. In other words with lots and lots of spending.The House has just passed their version of the spending bill, but the Senate has yet to add their touches, which may be significant, if the leaks about lifting spending caps turn out to be true.

Meanwhile, Christopher Steele – the British former MI6 spy of Dossier fame – apparently also wrote a memo which is now being called the October memo. Apparently because a few things about this memo – which listed Steele’s concerns about Trump’s campaign and alleged connections with Russia – are rather unclear at this point.

  • In The Hill’s piece on the October memo by Jonathan Easly and Katie Bo Williams they write: The memo, dated October 19, was given to Steele by a contact at the State Department and was based on information provided by “a friend of the Clintons” Grassley said. So again, Steele is not the source just like when he was a third or fourth or even fifth-hand transmitter of information from his Russian contacts for the Steele Dossier.
  • The contact at State seems to have been Jonathan Winer, former Special Envoy to Libya and former deputy assistant secretary of state for international law enforcement.
  • The actual sources for the October memo are two Clinton aides from the 90’s: Sydney Blumenthal and Cody Shearer, according to unnamed GOP officials.
  • On Sunday Talk, former Obama Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland said this: Chris had a friend at the State Department and he offered us that reporting free so that we could also benefit from it. … He passed to two to four short pages of notes of what he was finding, and our immediate reaction to that was this is not in our purview. This needs to go to the FBI if there is any concern here that one candidate or the election as a whole might be influenced by the Russian federation.
  • In other words, a deputy assistant secretary of state hands Steele some information, perhaps from Clinton confidants. Steele makes notes and hands those notes back to the State Department, who then contact the FBI.

Does this strike you as just a tad circular? And unverified? Just asking.

So now it looks like Nunes and the House intel committee want to turn their sights towards the State Department while Schiff and the Democrats cry breach of House committee rules. And another chapter gets started in the Trump Russia saga.

 

Warren Henry is the pen name of an Illinois attorney who writes an annoyingly compact and nuanced email that I receive. Annoying to me, because apparently his purpose is to “question his priors” and his emails often contain enough OTOH’s to leave one begging for a positive affirmation that does so in no uncertain terms. He is undoubtedly a very thorough lawyer.

One of his latest missives deals with technology – social media in particular – and the dangerous collapsing of institutions in terms of trust, but also in terms of how they are run. He links to a wonderfully written if alarmist article in Buzzfeed by the site’s political editor Katherine Miller titled: Donald Trump, #Me Too, Facebook, And The Breakdown Of Institutional Power. In her article she links the sex abuse scandals by the powerful towards those who lack it, to the general degradation of institutions:

Smash the exterior of an institution and you may reveal catacombs of cruelty, shame, sickness, all the terrible things people with power can do to those without it in the corridor of a hotel suite, inside an office, inside a home, in small places you feel you are not meant to be.

After wondering why our institutions do not foster and protect virtue, or kindness (she leads her list with the church and the military, two of the institutions that try to do precisely that and have not fallen nearly as far as somewhere like Hollywood or mainstream media or Congress) she turns to the new institutions of social media:

And then there’s all of us, consuming this weird year through our phones, living inside new institutions that are mind-blowing in scale and horribly ill-equipped for the task of handling us.

Or is it that we are ill-equipped to handle the way we interact on social media platforms and the way we seek out information on them? The connected global village (to use a phrase that is so quaint nowadays it seems hopelessly archaic) has turned out to be a rather toxic place. Back when people didn’t laugh at you for using phrases like “global village”, radical academic Lawrence Lessig wrote this:

Ours is the age of cyberspace. It, too, has a regulator. This regulator, too, threatens liberty. But so obsessed are we with the idea that liberty means “freedom from government” that we don’t even see the regulation in this new space. We therefore don’t see the threat to liberty that this regulation presents.

This regulator is code — the software and hardware that make cyberspace as it is … For unless we can understand how cyberspace can embed, or displace, values from our constitutional tradition, we will lose control over those values.

I can barely write a few (mostly wrong) lines of code in Python or HTML, but let me just say it’s really the software we’re talking about here when we say code. No kidding huh? But to the bigger point: Code is Law. That seems to be the creed for hacktivists whether related to Wikileaks or to the fact that you were dumb/unlucky enough to let someone hack your Ether coin. Code is law. And if you’re good at code, and good at a little psychology and bithneth, you build platforms that acquire a critical mass that makes them dominant players in today’s world. And where the engineering-dominant culture, according to another Buzzfeed article by Charlie Warzel, is:

… one that views nearly all content as agnostic, and everything else as a math problem.

Ok. Really? What scares you more? Content viewed as agnostic? Isn’t that the liberty that Lessig was crying out for back in 1999? Or non-binary transgender queer activists threatening you physically if you work at Google and don’t agree with their world views, and them deciding what content you should see?

Katherine Miller ends her article with the following words:

Whatever it is, now we are free to tear apart every last institution until every last vestige of that kind of pain is gone, hurtling towards some new future where you can only hope the kindness in our hearts wins out.

Allow me to dissent from Miller’s apocalyptic and poetic vision. Let us hope instead that the founder’s sober wisdom on the nature of mankind provides us a guide with how to live with social media in an age of partisan division and conflicting values. And to use that wisdom to sort out how to prevent another Russian or other foreign assault on America’s political system and it’s values. To do that we need to know more than we do right now on what happened this past election campaign. And to be able to come to some sort of judgement on what in fact happened. We’re not there yet.

Also, “liberty” and “code” are truly now inseparable. They will be part of every debate from here on in. Code is becoming law. But law will, or should, still lead us.

I’m guessing that Howie Kurtz doesn’t spend as much on grooming as Michael Wolff does. And he likely will never have Hillary Clinton read from his book at the Grammy Awards. But if I had to decide which book – Kurtz’s Media Madness or Wolff’s Fire and Fury – has better journalistic standards, it wouldn’t even be close.

And it might be that now-former-although-not-quite-yet-retired-due-to-pension-considerations Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe agrees with me. He has announced his retirement on the Monday after portions of Media Madness suggested he was possibly part of an entrapment scheme involving then White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus back about a year ago in February 2017. Ok, actually McCabe’s on “terminal leave” effective immediately until he official retires in mid-March when he becomes eligible for a full pension. So what does Kurtz’s book say about McCabe that seems to have precipitated in part at least his sudden “terminal leave.”

According to Mollie Hemingway of The Federalist, here’s how Kurtz’s book detailed how the scheme/process worked.

  • McCabe drops by the White House around February, 2017 to tell Priebus that a NYTimes and by extension a related CNN story on supposed contacts between Trump aides and Russian Intelligence agents were false or “bulls–t.”
  • Priebus apparently pointed to the TV screens which were obviously carrying the story 24-7 and asked if the FBI would publicly make some sort of statement to the same effect as what McCabe had just told Priebus personally.
  • McCabe said he’d check to see what was possible and left. He then called later to say that he couldn’t comply with Priebus’ request.
  • Director Comey then phoned a while later to say he couldn’t publicly say anything directly but that he would brief the Senate Intelligence Committee on the matter who would apparently then release the information that the FBI considered the NYT/CNN story false.
  • About a week later a story broke on CNN that the FBI had turned down a request by Priebus to “knock down” the story on Trump aides meeting with Russian intel agents. The contents of the leaked story suggested that the FBI leaker had intimate knowledge of the conversation McCabe had with Priebus the week before. The story strongly suggested that Priebus had initiated the conversation and was possibly guilty of obstruction of justice.
  • In June, Comey testified before Congress that the original NYT story was “not true.”
  • The NYT insisted their sources in the FBI confirmed the story.

As Mollie Hemingway puts it:

There seems to be a disparity between what FBI officials tell reporters under the cloak of anonymity and what they admit under oath or to those more knowledgeable of the matters at hand.

And she adds this:

As Comey admitted under oath he did tell President Trump three times that Trump was not under investigation. These private statements to Trump occurred while Comey publicly insinuated the opposite. This story above fits the same pattern.

Partisan operatives in or close to the FBI communicated snippets of information with reporters who didn’t demand proof or substantiation, then FBI officials denied to White House officials who knew the facts that they were seeding that information, then officials suggested that White House operatives were obstructing justice by asking for the truth to out.

And yes, she’s right that this is a pattern of behavior that should worry the media, or that they should at least focus on as an important story. But how can they if they are a crucial link in the above pattern, and this undermines their already tattered credibility?

It isn’t that the media shouldn’t rely on anonymous sources. That’s impossible in Washington D.C. unfortunately. You could argue that former FBI Associate Director Mark Felt played Woodward and Bernstein for his own reasons which may have had to do with personal ambition more than any sense of anger at Nixon’s campaign team crimes. But Woodward and Bernstein did a little legwork of their own, let’s say.

In the current case, however, where these journalists take the information without confirming or researching on their own, we are seeing a dangerous precedent. It’s the outsourcing of journalism to advocacy and lobby and other interest groups. Has this been happening for some time? Of course. Have previous GOP governments/politicians benefited from this? Of course they have.

But the McCabe story seems to cross a line where now the FBI is baiting and trapping White House officials who they are supposed to be working with and even working for, rather than setting up obstruction of justice charges against them by means of duplicitous schemes with the connivance of a compliant media intent on being part of the #Resistance without realizing you still have to be a journalist, even if you hate the guy in the Oval Office.

So, is McCabe a little worn out by all this and merely needs a well-deserved rest as he’s been signaling to the media for a few weeks now? Or is he distancing himself from the FBI just as Nunes memo looks set to be released, and just as Kurtz’s book paints a disturbing picture of some of his actions over the past year or so?

Where were you on Sunday, May 25th, 1986? I wasn’t there, as in holding hands from one end of continental America to the other. I was somewhere else. But never mind. Hands Across America apparently linked around 6.5 million people from one coast to the other, raising money and awareness though for exactly what isn’t too clear all these years later. And it’s not quite clear that hands were linked all across every single yard. Also, people lined up 6 to 10 deep in cities that the route deliberately went through, following a zig zag pattern to be able to include populated metropolises.

So it’s hard to say how many people actually and truly linking hands it would take to cover every single yard of the southern border. How about 690,000? The original number of registered Dreamers if you will who signed up for DACA. It’s a long border isn’t it? From Brownsville, Texas to San Diego, California it’s almost two thousand miles, all the way.

1,954 to be exact.

So how much is each Dreamer worth as a bargaining chip? That sounds a tad medieval doesn’t it, especially when you throw in language like chain migration. Gives Democrats like Cory Booker and Kamala Harris a chance to weep and grandstand and polish up there safe-space skills for 2020. But that’s exactly what’s going on right now with the White House’s release of a broad deal on immigration.

It’s what’s been haggled and negotiated over in explicit terms since the Trump administration announced early last September that it was letting DACA expire on March 5, 2018. How much will we give you for the wall Mr. President and how many Dreamers will you give us for our cherished amnesty? That’s the question that’s been coming from the Democrats, and from their GOP allies like Graham and Collins. Even if they don’t frame it that way.

And Trump has just given them his answer.

20 Billion for the wall + 5 billion for added non-wall border security including the border with Canada + 5 billion to hire additional border agents and immigration judges. That’s 30 billion in total. And let’s please not forget that Trump’s deal also means:

  • Ending the visa lottery
  • Restricting family immigration to members of the immediate family. No abuelas hombre.

But returning to the wall, let’s divide that 30 billion by not 690,000 but now by 1.1 million + 690,000 which adds up to almost 1.8 million registered and unregistered Dreamers. Which is Trump’s offer. That works out to a little over $16,700 of additional border security (wall and non-wall) per Dreamer. For a wall that will cost a little over $10 million per mile. Assuming these numbers are anywhere near actual costs. Ridiculous isn’t it?

Actually no it isn’t ridiculous. Not in the least bit.

This will help solve – and help further prevent – a decades if not generations old problem that has affected entitlement costs and the costs of other public goods in America, and has had some (perhaps a modest but a real one nonetheless) effect on wages, lowering them for working people in lower-skilled jobs. That’s going to save money, all the while giving up to 1.8 million children of illegals (many illegals themselves) amnesty and a path to citizenship.

Now the question is, what will the House think of this? Because with immigration hawks like Senators Cotton and Perdue commenting favorably on the deal, the Senate seems to be sold on this. House conservatives is another matter. This is amnesty, no doubt about it. Is what’s offered in return worth it to those like Virginia’s Bob Goodlatte who has offered a much tougher deal from the floor of the House? Does Trump’s plan offer enough enforcement, in other words?

And what about House Democrats, and immigration liberals in general? If they shout down this offer, then they really don’t want a deal, and President Trump will have helped make that fact very clear with this latest offer. Will they deal with Trump, then? An anonymous GOP campaign “operative” gave the Washington Examiner this quote:

Only Nixon could go to China. I think only Trump can do an immigration deal.

That’s awfully ambitious rhetoric, but if Trump pulls this off, that operative will possibly get away with such high-flying language. And Trump will have managed another coup.

A Starbucks in suburban Virginia. Maybe one of the ones near Arlington National Cemetery. Five men in their forties and early fifties in jeans and windbreakers huddle in the parking lot. The tallest one – really tall – tells a worried-looking younger man, the youngest of the group:

I swear to God, I will never, ever forget. Do you understand now?

The worried younger guy gulps and says

Yes.

But it doesn’t work that way, does it? So, the point being that according to Texas GOP Rep John Ratcliffe – who’s also Chair of the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Cybersecurity – there is a reference to a “secret society” within the FBI, in the texts exchanged between FBI Agent Strzok and former FBI Attorney Page. Of which now there appears to be a few months of missing texts – from mid December 2016 to May 2017, when Mueller was appointed special prosecutor. Close to 50,000 texts apparently, gone, missing in action. Due to a glitch.

Let’s take a leap of conspiratorial speculation and assume for a moment there may have been (or still be) a rogue group within the FBI, and this is what the words “secret society” refer to.

We have no idea at this point what evidence there may be of their purpose. We can guess, however, that it would involve spreading incriminating information – or disinformation – on the Trump campaign, then on the Trump transition team, and finally, on the Trump administration itself. All in order to prevent, and then frustrate, and perhaps resist an elected administration. Or even help overturn it.

Do they have secret codewords and rotate their meetings between parking lots around Northern Virginia and D.C.? Uh, no, surely not. In other words, the evidence that any supposed group of FBI employees might have or might still exist will have to be parsed from convoluted, bureaucratic procedures, and mountains of partial evidence that on it’s own may appear trivial at times but within a larger context may prove damning.

But why do we have to go looking for a secret society? When former intel chiefs are in the media warning of the dangers of President Trump? When Sally Yates – Deputy Attorney General and Acting Attorney General for 10 days in January 2017 – defied her new boss over the first travel ban, rather than resign. She sided with the 9th Circuit rather than the White House, stating:

For as long as I am the acting Attorney General, the Department of Justice will not present arguments in defense of th[is] executive order, unless and until I become convinced that it is appropriate to do so.

Did you applaud? Would you care if I pointed to Scalia’s dissent in Morrison v. Olson in 1988, and how it illuminates the entire special counsel/independent counsel dilemma? If you applauded you don’t care about Scalia’s theory of the “unitary executive” of which the Department of Justice is part. Trump shouldn’t be president and Sally Yates was right to display undue deference to the lower courts’ doubts about the ban.

So why should we unduly worry about a secret society in the FBI? When former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper states:

Having some understanding of the levers of power that are available to a president if he chooses to exercise them, I found this (Trump’s speech in Phoenix last August) downright scary and disturbing.

Never mind that he lied to Congress about the NSA surveillance program, Trump’s the scary one.

When the much of the media agrees with Clapper, should we be shocked and disturbed that some members of the FBI might have worked more as an opposition research team, aiding and abetting Fusion GPS and Christopher Steele, along with the DNC and Hillary’s campaign team, than as impartial agents of the law? Yes, it is troubling. And yes, #Resistance may involve far more than just disgruntled EPA employees. But surprising?

Sure, conspiracy can be fun to watch on Netflix. At least before Kevin Spacey’s fall from grace. But this “secret society”, if it indeed exists, will be far more confusing and muddled and layered than any episode of House of Cards. And if it does indeed exist, those of you who applauded Sally Yates will justify and rationalize it’s actions. And that’s the truly troubling part.

From David Frum’s Philip Roth-like cover story in Atlantic few days after President Trump’s election – one that echoed Roth’s The Plot Against America – to Chelsea Handler practically pleading and insulting on Twitter with America’s military brass to launch a coup last summer. From the anarchist and resistance protests on Inauguration Day that left cars torched and stores vandalized to the constant leaks and half-truths from government employees that can have the vengeful salaciousness of revenge porn. From Ross Douthat suggesting that the Trump administration should use the 25th Amendment to remove President Trump from the office of President of the United States to which he was duly elected, to Maryland Democratic Rep Jamie Raskin proposing a bill to essentially declare Trump mentally unfit for office.

Aggressive, even extreme, and occasionally explicitly violent. All in the name of nullifying November 8, 2016. And in ways that would undermine America’s Republic long after this administration is gone. Look to countries like Turkey or Argentina, if you need a clue to some of the things that could happen.

They won’t of course. America will never descend to those levels, as much as many in the Resistance are blindly encouraging processes that would nudge the country in undesirable directions.

But never mind any of that. It’s all part of the #Resistance by any means, it seems. And apparently, there’s a real and dangerous threat of violence that recently happened.

As stated above Maryland Democrat Raskin has continually pushed for a committee in Congress to analyze and of course declare President Trump unfit for office. And he recently had the support of a group of psychiatrists who blatantly disregard the Goldwater Rule – don’t analyze someone who has not been in your office for therapy, analysis etc. – and declared Trump a danger to the human race in hysterical and alarmist tones. You’re welcome Kim Jong-un.

One of those is Associate Professor Bandy X. Lee (of Yale) who was scheduled to speak with Baskin at a Maryland seniors center. According to Baskin and Bandy Lee – sorry but I do not consider them impartial purveyors of the supposed events – angry Trump supporters threatened the gathering and they had to cancel. Thereby proving their thesis that President Trump will blow up the world anytime soon now.

Did they get angry phone calls? Yes, it is likely and no, it isn’t a good thing. Letting them instead reveal their theory’s ridiculousness is a much better way to dissipate their fear-mongering.

But it is absurd to suggest that humanity is threatened because, for example, Trump is taking a tougher stand on North Korea, and further, that some angry calls to a senior center in Maryland is confirmation of this absurd belief on Lee and Baskin’s part.

The doom and disaster predicted after Trump was elected has not happened. Despite Charlottesville’s ugly racist confrontations. Despite Roy Moore’s pathetic campaign. Despite Trump’s s-hole or s-house or s-w/e comments. America is functioning as it should, with checks and balances, and rather well overall. From a robust economy with a booming if frothy stock market to modest tax reforms to modest administrative and regulatory pullback, to a few key judicial appointments.

For those who made wild eyed proclamations of a nationalist goon squad police state, 9th and 4th circuit court decisions have forced the DOJ to rework or appeal Trump’s travel bans. For those who say that deportations of illegals is a blight upon America, the Trump administration is actually negotiating with Congress to see if Congress can reform DACA and keep hundreds of thousands of Dreamers in America in exchange for a border policy similar to those of Canada and Australia.

For those – like Nancy Pelosi – who shout out that the tax reform is a giveaway to the rich, companies are hiring and investing and raising wages across the country.

And for those journalists who ascribe to Professor Lee and company’s Trump-is-a-madman theories, White House physician Doctor R. Jackson proclaimed Trump in excellent health and cognitively in very good shape as well. No matter, the press inundated him with leading and suggestive questions implying that the President must be crazy and he must be wrong.

No, cognitive ability is not the same as a psychiatric assessment. But Trump’s opponents think he’s either or both insane or senile. Whichever works on any given day.

And now in Maryland there have been some angry crank calls to a senior center. The President must therefore be crazy. The President must therefore be removed.

At this point, I think it would be wise to heed Alan Dershowitz’s words of wisdom on the matter:

I’ve railed against the criminalization of political difference. It’s getting worse. The psychiatrization of political difference is much more dangerous. It’s what they did in Russia. It’s what they did in China. It’s what they did in apartheid South Africa. If you don’t like a candidate lock him up. If you can’t lock him up, commit him to a mental hospital.

I suspect that even Democrats want Professor Lee and her colleagues to dial it back a bit. And hey, let’s have that meeting in Maryland and how about inviting Alan Dershowitz – lawyer, scholar, and lifelong defender of civil liberties who has made all of us mad at some point; much to his credit – to the meeting? Unless actual violence breaks out if he dares show up.

Forgive me. I am so prejudiced. So, so biased that I did not even realize that Otherkin is a word, and that it is much more than a word. It is a subculture, apparently, where people decide they’re like fish.

Or dragons, which seems to be a popular choice. Like, for example, a yellow-scaled wingless dragonkin. Otherkins might even identify sexually as a dragon with yellow-scales but no wings. Yes, there are people who sexually identify as a yellow-scaled wingless dragonkin. Which is NOT the same as a yellow-scaled winged dragonkin. Exactly what the difference between those two sexual identities is is way beyond a bigot like me. So you’ll have to ask the real thing, apparently a particular Google employee who gave an in-house workshop or chat or presentation (was there any dance involved?) on the matter of so-called plural sexual identities.

Should this person who has taken what might seem like an adolescent fantasy and raised (I’m trying to find a neutral verb here) it to the level of an identity (which does not seem to have anything to do with gender, perhaps …) actually read these words and should I ever try to work for Google – two probabilities that limit with zero which if you multiply them together to get the probability that both occur, would get you even closer to zero; I’m trying to be science-based here like Eric Schmidt says Google and Googlers are – then I would be harassed and hounded into the waters of the Pacific. And I would drown as the yellow-scaled wingless dragonkin hissed vengefully over my sinking body, in the shadow of the Golden Gate Bridge.

On dry land, however, James Damore has a much better plan than being hounded into the Pacific for writing a few satirical paragraphs. The former Google employee has launched a lawsuit against his former employer and has released a long document with lots of screenshots that display what it’s like to work at Google as a white male who’s conservative or at least not crazy. Here’s an example of one of the reactions to Damore’s original memo, (which suggested cultural choices and gender differences might have produced the overabundance of white male programmers as well as suggesting ways to actually increase workplace diversity):

I’m a queer-ass non-binary trans person that is f!cking sick and tired of being told to open a dialogue with people who want me dead. We are at a point where the dialogue we need to be having with these people is ‘if you keep taking about this sh!t I will hurt you’.

The university campus free-speech shout-downs and intimidation and violence are influencing the corporate world in a much faster and more profound way than the path the radicalism of the sixties took to work it’s way into corporate culture. What is happening at Google makes the early years at Apple look like a Mennonite church gathering. But it comes from the same source, and that notorious meeting of Berkeley radicals in the late 60’s where it was decided the only answer to oppression was to kill white babies is still at the heart of cultural marxism. You’re a white male? Confess your guilt or be silent or even better, just quietly leave.

That (mostly) white billionaires are in charge of the companies in Silicon Valley where this is occurring (not the only place of course) is not even seen as ironic or hypocritical. Of course we’re billionaires! We are so evolved that we have yellow-scaled wingless dragonkin’s policing our workforce as we collect information on the world’s internet users and charge our corporate clients billions to use that data.

Netocracy. Dragonkins. And non-binary queer-asses who will get medieval on your backside if you even try to talk to them. But remember, Google is science-based!

Are you scornfully offended over the allegations in Fire and Fury? Because of what Trump’s administration perhaps, possibly, maybe did in its first months in office? Or are you incensed because Michael Wolff does things like misspell “public” as “pubic” on what seems to be more than one occasion in what is a rushed and sloppy, often inaccurate, as well as a nasty, gossipy, insider’s/Bannon’s-knifing-in-the-kidneys of a book?

Never mind.

Does stable-genius make you laugh or cringe?

Doesn’t matter anymore. Why?

Oprah is coming. In 2 years, 9 months, and 25 days. On November 3, 2020, Oprah will save us all with a warm smile, a big hug, and maybe a new car!

Suddenly Tom Steyer says he will focus on funneling tens of millions into Democratic candidates’ campaigns. and will not run for office. Is he thinking of a cabinet level job? Imagine Joe Biden’s face as he watched the Golden Globes and “the speech.” Imagine Kamala Harris thinking: I can’t even think of running anyway and hoping for Vice President because Oprah will likely have to pick a guy as her running mate. Imagine Bernie Sanders thinking: what do I do now? Will my base still stick with me?

Because none of them and the other less known but qualified candidates – like Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper who has policy chops and a fair bit of legislative experience – would ever think of trying to run against an Oprah campaign. Would they? Or pointing out that her policy experience is nil. Would they? Or having their backers fund a little opposition research on her: and not just going back through the thousands of hours of tapes of her show, but really digging up some dirt. Maybe something financial? Tax liabilities anyone? Undeclared income? (even if it’s a case of oversight). Relationships with Hollywood abusers. Would they?

For the most fought over job in the world, in which people are willing to do almost anything to get elected as President of the United States of America, yes they would. At least some of them would. Maybe even the GOP too. Is Fusion GPS is getting a lot of calls?

Oprah, like Trump is going to have to expend her brand, her capital, almost immediately. It’s already started in the media in fact. She’s going to have defend and answer and deal with a level of scrutiny that only someone like Trump, or her friend Obama can advise her on what that feels like.

Is she tough enough to deal with that? Maybe she is, but we will certainly find out, one way or another. Is she nasty enough to swing hard when cornered? Swinging back can be with any tone you can manage to put together: remember noxious Harry Reid who sounded like a concerned elementary school teacher while setting off fire storms in the Senate. Is Oprah flinty enough to eviscerate a Kamala Harris during a debate with a warm smile and a compassionate tone?

Or can she somehow rewrite the rules once again – after Trump rewrote them by breaking them and still getting elected? How would that look? What would that sound like? Before we talk about a possible President Oprah, we need to consider Candidate Oprah and how that would work out.

But wait a minute. Can we actually say Candidate Oprah?? Isn’t it Candidate Winfrey? Wouldn’t it be President Winfrey? Doesn’t have the same ring, does it? Sounds like the frustrated goal of a cautious small-c conservative from the Mid-West who might have lost the nomination to, say, William Jennings Bryan in 1896.

Oprah – magnificent, compassionate and generous – would have to become Winfrey, with at least a handful of policy issues, or a few ideas, to rally those pre-disposed to her around her quest for nomination and subsequent run at the presidency. What those issues could be is still up in the air. She and/or her advisors would have to narrow them down and choose from among them, some sort of platform.

And in doing so would have to expend her precious and substantial personal capital on accumulating enough political capital to survive a campaign against her rivals and then against President Trump.

Goodbye Oprah. Hello Winfrey.

Then again, this is all just speculation that a current set of rules in politics will continue to hold. And that she will in fact run. Will Oprah instead somehow remain Oprah? Could she manage to become – not the first female and second African-American president of America – but rather the first First-Named President of the United States?

What’s in a Last Name? Right Oprah? Liberate us from the tyranny of family and tradition that have been painstakingly built up over generations by hard-working American families and now are under siege by the current flood of identity-politics radicalism. Freedom from family! We give you a shining new dawn:

The Age of Oprah. President Oprah.

This was a brazen act, a defiant challenge to the powers that be that was slapped down with a swift ferocity within a short while of it’s being released to the public.

Oh yes, and also today on Wednesday there’s news about Steve Bannon’s spat with President Trump.

But let’s return to the first case: Paul Manafort’s lawsuit against the Department of Justice, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, and Special Counsel Robert Mueller for overstepping their authority. It’s a long shot, given that Manafort has been charged with 12 violations of the law, an admittedly dramatic beefing up by Mueller’s team of what are essentially charges of money laundering and lying. And what is essentially a result of failing to register as a foreign agent, a crime that is usually dealt with by requiring the offending party (often lobbyists) to duly register. Not this time however.

Does Manafort’s past list of clients provoke at the very least uneasiness on the part of most of us? Of course. Do the charges against Manafort have anything to do with any possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Putin’s regime in Moscow? Not so far. And that’s essentially Manafort´s legal strategy apparently. The order signed by Rod Rosenstein back on May 5, 2017 is now being attacked in Manafort’s lawsuit as too broad, seeing it in part says:

(b) The Special Counsel is authorized to conduct the investigation confirmed by then-FBI Director James B. Comey in testimony before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intellligence on March 20, 2017, including:

(i) any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump; and

(ii) any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation; and

(iii) any other matters within the scope of 28 C.F.R. 600.4(a).

(c) If the Special Counsel believes it is necessary and appropriate, the Special Counsel is authorized to prosecute federal crimes arising from the investigation of these matters.

It’s parts (ii) and (iii) of (b) and (c) which may prove to be most damaging for Paul Manafort, seeing that the order basically allows Mueller’s team free range to dig into financial transactions of any sort that they deem of interest. Not sure Manafort is keen on that.

Yes, (b) (ii) and (iii), and (c) are fishing expeditions for the most part. Is that appropriate for a special counsel? The courts will decide and so far opinion has been dismissive of Manafort’s lawsuit. But it will be interesting to see how the courts rule and what their rulings might imply about a special counsel’s reach in general.

On the other hand why bother with details of lawsuits concerning special counsels and deputy AG’s when you have Steve “Fire and Fury” Bannon using the T word in Michael Wolff’s soon to be released book? One can imagine the curious mixture of wonder, glee and apprehension in Democrat (and Special Counsel) circles …

How do we spin this without seeming like Nazi-loving alt-right white supremacists?

The specific quote in question that apparently infuriated the president is the one where Bannon tells Wolff that Donald Jr, Jared Kushner, and Manafort should have high-tailed it to the FBI as soon as they finished their meeting with Natalia Veselnitskaya and Rinat Akhmetshin. Because they didn’t, and because – according to Wolff’s book – Bannon thought they would have loved to set up a meeting with Trump right there and then, they therefore engaged in a “treasonous” act.

So. The President is furious with Bannon. Some Never Trumpers like David French are proud of the President’s angry dismissal of all things Bannon. And Steve Bannon himself may find himself at the receiving end of a subpoena ordering him to appear before Mueller’s investigators.

Is the Mueller investigation metastasizing into vicious and petty inter-party and intra-party partisan dueling? Or is Steve Bannon potentially an important witness now? Or is he just a disruptive and opinionated outsider as far as the Russia Probes are concerned?

Keep in mind, this is a book by Michael Wolff about Steve Bannon’s time in the White House. It is not a Comey memorandum written on a laptop in a limousine after a meeting with the President. It is far less than that, and Bannon’s words should be viewed with the same disgusted skepticism by his legions of detractors as they were viewed before this book was pre-released. They won’t be of course. Bannon will now be taken far more seriously.

Finally, the last part of Trump’s written statement in reaction to the leaked quotes is interesting. It says:

We have many great Republican Members of Congress and candidates who are very supportive of the Make America Great Again agenda. Like me, they love the United States of America and are helping to finally take our country back and build it up, rather than simply seeking to burn it all down.

Is President Trump finally realizing what a noxious thing equivocating with the alt-right was?

Shall I talk about the top twenty 2017 tweets of President Trump? How about Alvin Kamara’s awesome Santa Cleats which have resulted in a fine by the NFL, delivered in an envelope to the New Orlean’s Saints running back? It looks like those 32 yards he ran for in the Christmas Eve game are going to be the most expensive of his career. Or maybe I should dive right in to Trump’s interview with the NYT in which he says that the Mueller probe:

… makes the country look bad, and it puts the country in a very bad position.

No? How about if instead I talk just for a moment about a wonderful, very talented, very hard-working artist who suddenly left us in September.

Tom Petty.

It was a warm snap, in I think December, in 1979, and I was jogging past the house where the cool people lived in college. The windows to Andy’s room were open and the thunder of Stan Lynch’s opening drum roll turned my head as the opening chords (F#minor, D, and E) of Refugee poured out the open window. I swiveled and kept jogging up the path, through the front door, and up the steps into Andy’s room, and we sat and listened to Tom and the Heartbreakers’ early masterpiece. More were to come of course, but this was the first time when it felt like they really could do anything they set their minds to.

Over the previous year, Andy had made me listen to their first two albums, as he would shake his head and say “I can’t believe they’re not huge!” So that mild December afternoon in 79 was like a confirmation of all the expectations that the few early TP fans in our circles had nourished.

By the time I belatedly saw their 2008 Super Bowl half-time show on Youtube, it was a year or two after the event. Sorry, I haven’t followed Super Bowls religiously for a long time. I watched the opening chords of American Girl and I started weeping. But they were tears of gratitude for all the wonderful music Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers have given us. And just to remind everyone, Tom Petty was very much alive and kicking when I got mushy watching the halftime show on Youtube.

I’ll let music critics argue over who the greatest rock bands are. TP and the Heartbreakers were one of the best. Try playing Mike Campbell’s solo in American Girl. It was twenty years ahead of its time. It took punk, post-punk, 80’s big hair, grunge and post-grunge, for guitar solos to catch up to what he did back in 1976. Try playing the guitar-piano combination in the chorus of Here Comes My Girl. Fascinatingly, Tom said in the VHS series on great albums that you had to come from the South to play the riff that floats behind Petty’s vocals and Stan Lynch’s backup vocals.

Try playing that magic handful of chords that Tom plays in Learning to Fly. Try to get that beautiful ache in just your rythm guitar playing. Now try to do it on a Rickenbacker. Not easy, huh? Now sing please.

De Tocqueville writes about the optimism and confidence that he found that women in America were raised into. It’s there in the opening lines to Tom’s song American Girl:

Well she was an American girl, raised on promises

But that would be to ascribe political ends to Tom Petty’s music, which he would probably laugh at a little. I have no idea who he voted for. I don’t care who he voted for. I have no idea what he yelled at his screen when somebody said something on CNN, or MSNBC. Or Fox.

Maybe he read Faulkner. Maybe he had to read Carson McCullers’ a tree a rock a cloud in high school, the way I did. Maybe he was haunted by that story, the way I was. Likely not. Because he was someone who had his own stories to tell and who had the drive , talent and the need to tell them. And that drive and talent would produce a gem of an artist that could only have come from one country.

America and the world are better for Tom Petty’s music. Happy New Year.

The Hezbollah crime syndicate that was let off the hook by pressure and slow-walking or stonewalling by the Obama administration. At least until the Iran Deal was in place.

Next to nothing in mainstream media.

The evidence that is slowly accumulating on the very real possibility that the “insurance policy” FBI agent Peter Strzok mentioned in a text message to then FBI lawyer Lisa Page in a conversation about a meeting almost definitely held in Deputy Director McCabe’s office in the summer of 2016, was quite possibly the very Steele Dossier that they had started to receive at the FBI?

Mainstream media? Next to nothing.

The fact that the House Select Committee on Intelligence is demanding evidence from the FBI and the DOJ to clear up the role that various members of Mueller’s team have played? Now that’s big news. Why?

It’s the anti-Mueller feedback loop!

You guys decry Ben Rhodes for his echo chamber (that was Rhodes’ language by the way: he’s the one who coined the phrase)? Well we’re (CNN’s Brian Stelter to be specific) going to coin a phrase too! And we’ll get Perry Bacon Jr. to write about the evil plan in the wonkish fivethirtyeight’s blog. And use phrases like:

It’s not clear that the anti-Mueller campaign is coordinated, in the sense that Congressional Republicans, White House officals and Fox News executives sat in a room together and planned how to attack Mueller and his team.

Of course not Perry, you’ll just let that image sit uncomfortably in your readers mind as you inevitably make comparisons to Nixon’s attempts to discredit Watergate investigators, because it’s basically the same, right? Sorry this is way worse, right? Russia is involved!

Keep it about process. Imply nefarious motives at every turn. And avoid actually talking about the evidence that Mueller’s team has so far failed to turn up, or at least disclose. And especially avoid talking about the evidence that Mueller’s team appears very much biased in favor of the Democrat Party establishment. Ignore further evidence like:

  • The Steele Dossier it turns out was opposition research paid for by the DNC and Hillary’s campaign and contracted out through Fusion GPS who likely helped leak details of its existence and then of its contents.
  • The evidence in the Dossier is often second or third hand heresay. Andrew McCarthy hi-lites this gem from the Dossier: Another source, apparently Russian, told Steele that an official “close to” Putin chief of staff Sergei Ivanov had confided to “a compatriot” that Igor Diveykin (of the “Internal Political Department” of Putin’s Presidential Administration) had also met with Page in Moscow.
  • And apparently Divekin at that supposed meeting had told Carter Page that Russia had kompromat (compromising material) on both Hillary and Trump so they should make a deal with Russia on sanctions.
  • Follow the bouncing ball: Igor tells a friend of Sergei that he talked to Carter Page. Sergei’s friend tells an unknown Russian. The unknown Russian tells another unknown Russian. Unknown Russian #2 tells Christopher Steele, the ex-British spy. Steele’s dossier then possibly becomes, in part at least, the basis for a FISA court order to surveille Carter Page – perhaps continuing into the transition period.
  • Nellie Ohr, wife of then DOJ associate deputy attorney general Bruce Ohr, was working for Fusion GPS as a Russia expert, probably on the opposition research being conducted on the Trump campaign. The Ohrs seemed to be friends with Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson.
  • Did James Baker – FBI top lawyer who’s now been reassigned – lead Mother Jones reporter David Corn to the Steele Dossier?

But why talk about any of this? Stick to process. Talk about the anti-Mueller feedback loop and use the word “echo” in your reporting. Never mind careful attention to detail – like Andrew McCarthy at National Review; Byron York at the Washington Examiner; or Josh Meyer at Politico. Even if Meyer covered the Iran Deal rather than the Russia story. Woodward and Bernstein didn’t write a few hot stories about the Watergate investigation. They persistently and over many months wrote a series of detailed articles – with the help of their FBI source – that helped reveal the truth about Watergate.

Because the facts are still being revealed and because some of the key players involved are using stonewalling tactics or partisan posturing – on both sides – it will be a while before the final truth about the Russia story is revealed. But the partisan divide is so strong, that I doubt either side will agree with the other side when the evidence is completely revealed.

In other words, there may never be closure on this, because neither side wants it. Democrats pushed by their base seem to want nothing less than impeachment on the basis of character seeing no real evidence of collusion with Russia has as of yet been revealed.

Republicans are increasingly seeing the Russia story as a Democrat-Hillary scandal rather than as the feared Trump scandal. And they don’t yet want – in their majority at least – for President Trump to fire Mueller. Nixon analogies are inevitable on this point, (Nixon’s firing of key Watergate investigation officials backfired on him), even if these are two very different situations.

So the risk here is that a discredited or unfairly attacked (choose your side) Mueller probe will leak further details about it’s own problems along with further details that may or may not compromise former Trump campaign officials or even Trump administration officials. It will then become a zombie investigation, lacking real integrity but still alive and issuing subpoenas.

That’s a scary thought, but special counsels or special prosecutors in Washington D.C. may just no longer (or ever have been) be a viable way to run an investigation. There may not be any viable, trusted way of running any investigation, in many voters eyes. Because Mueller’s – or Comey’s – worth seems to depend on who he makes life miserable for.

And that is hardly justice.

 

About a week ago, writing in National Review, Andrew C. McCarthy rose to the defense of his former profession as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York: a prosecutor in other words. His point was that political bias or passion cannot possibly be a reason for disqualifying a prosecutor or an agent of the FBI. It would set a dangerous precedent. That was on December 6, when his piece was published, and he was referring of course, to Peter Strzok the FBI agent who exchanged around 10,000 text messages with then FBI attorney Lisa Page, some of them very critical of Trump.

McCarthy said this:

Are we now saying that whether a prosecutor or agent is qualified to work on a political-corruption case depends on his or her party affiliation or political convictions? That would be a terrible mistake. It would do more to intrude politics into law enforcement than remove it.

Yes Andy, it sure would. And you suggested in the same article that we should wait to see more evidence. The facts please. Unfortunately, the facts are starting to suggest that it was precisely their political leanings and/or affiliations that seemed to matter whether they were picked to be part of Mueller’s team charged with investigating any possible Russia collusion. In other words, the political test was applied before the team even started. It was already baked into the very process of this increasingly dubious investigation.

Victor Davis Hanson sums up the accumulating evidence against Mueller’s team – One Mueller-Investigation Coincidence Too Many in National Review – and how each individual demonstration of bias, or outright opposition research in the case of Bruce Ohr’s wife Nellie, is rationalized away, until the long trail of denial becomes too obvious to wish away or normalize. Like the case of Andrew Weissman – Mueller’s right-hand man in the investigating team – praising Acting AG Sally Yates’ refusal to implement President Trump’s travel ban. In other words, openly praising resistance-like actions that were clearly an act of insubordination as Yates disobeyed her constitutionally-mandated boss, President Trump.

But the fatal piece of evidence (we only have information on around 375 text messages out of a total of about 10,000) is a single text message that reads:

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

Peter Strzok sent the text message to Lisa Page. “Andy” is likely Andrew McCabe, the 2nd in command at the FBI . “He” (as in “he gets elected”) could very well refer to Trump, at that time in the heat of the campaign against Hillary. Strzok had texted Page on August 15, 2016 with the message above. But what was Peter Strzok referring to when he wrote “It’s like an insurance policy”? What the hell is “It”?

I can hardly wait to read Byron York’s next column on the matter. He’s been quietly and methodically piecing together the disparate strands of evidence that seems to suggest there may have been a plot from the time Trump was nominated to undermine him. A plot that may turn out to be the real collusion story. Because it sure seems that FBI Agent Peter Strzok was working out ways to make sure Trump would never be elected President of the United States.

But because it may very well involve the FBI, the CIA, and the Department of Justice, working with the DNC, Hillary’s campaign and Fusion GPS; who were working with the Russians through Christopher Steele’s contacts in Moscow, the puzzle will be spread out all over the place in hard to reach places. Places that are protected by government secrecy clauses or by the arrogantly absurd insistence that they can’t reveal the information as successive FBI Directors have been doing, and as Jeff Session’s Department of Justice has been doing. Slow-walking or stone walling Congress.

In his December 6 article, Andrew McCarthy defended the character of prosecutors and agents in general, saying:

If an investigator knows he or she cannot be fair to a suspect, or that the investigator’s participation in the case would create a reasonable perception of bias, the investigator is obliged to recuse himself – and, failing that duty, the supervisor must disqualify the investigator.

And when the investigator knows he (and she in this case) cannot be fair, because the objective of the investigation is to produce a political outcome (the defeat of candidate Trump in the election)? The whole point seems to be not to be fair.

If half of this turns out to be true, it will be the FBI and the DOJ who have shredded their own ethics and credibility. From the inside. That will do enormous damage to America, but it may be unavoidable if we are to have an FBI and DOJ and intel community worthy of voters’ respect and worthy of a reasonable and workable degree of trust that voters place in them in order to see justice done.

Any bill that funds the governments business requires 60 votes in the Senate. That means that 60 minus 52 = 8 Democratic Senators will need to sign on to any funding bill the GOP puts forward in the upper chamber. And, unfortunately, it’s wiser to write out the formula rather than say that 8 Democrats will be needed with no further qualifications.

Why?

Because the GOP in the Senate has a hard time agreeing on anything. They miraculously managed to agree on tax reform – but we’ll see how the final bill is shaped by the time it leaves conference and heads to President Trump’s desk for signing.

So Republicans might need more than 8 Democrat senators in order to keep government open if, say, a Susan Collins objects to the demands that Dreamers – the children of illegals and many illegals themselves – not continue to be given the protection that the Obama administration handed them a couple of years ago. But of course, there is also plenty of disagreement on the Democrat side when it comes to how to respond to any funding bill the GOP put forward.

Will Senator Schumer bend to the will of the angry, activist wing of his party and demand that DACA be kept intact in exchange for keeping the government open? In other words: you want to keep government open? Open up the borders and keep them open! That seems to be where these negotiations are heading. DACA is essentially an entitlement – an entitlement to be above the law if you were brought to America illegally as a younger child or if you were born to illegals. And trying to curtail or roll back an entitlement – like Obamacare – has proved impossible at the federal level since LBJ’s Great Society in 1965 brought the modern welfare state into existence.

It’s almost a given that Schumer will take the activist side of the Democratic Party and ignore those senators who are facing re-election in Trump friendly states and whose voters have concerns about DACA. You can imagine Schumer’s and Pelosi’s soundbites: Republicans build walls and elect child molesters! Although the matter of Roy Moore’s election still has to be decided on December 12, but if another stopgap measure is passed and the government funding deadline moved out to December 22, then Chuck and Nancy will have about a week and a half to claim their party are the party of the pure having ejected Conyers and Franken. And then to demand DACA be maintained in exchange for the votes necessary to pass a funding bill.

Never mind that Conyers left with no admission of guilt and appointed his 27 year old son to take his place, and that Franken has barely apologized; why look at that Roy Moore! Imagine Schumer with his arm around a bright university student who happens to be a Dreamer solemnly denouncing the GOP for allowing a predator into their chambers. And no, Chuck will make sure he doesn’t squeeze any cheeks if the Dreamer happens to be cute. This is some of what Moore’s presumed election to the US Senate will bring.

There are never any peaceful moments in this administration. Not even at Christmas.

Tuly Borland is an associate professor of philosophy at Ouachita Baptist University, apparently located in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, a little south of Little Rock. Borland has caused a firestorm with an article in The Federalist entitled: Why Alabamians Should Vote for Roy Moore. It will likely infuriate you or just disgust you, or make you very uncomfortable. But if you’re a voter in Alabama, you may possibly agree with at least some of what the professor writes.

Roy Moore is again leading, in perhaps a majority of polls, despite what seem to be very credible allegations that he molested and/or assaulted underage girls. His polling numbers are a fact and it’s (with uncertainty surrounding the exact level of voter support that Moore may or may not have) a fact that will likely impact the Senate, who may very well have to deal with an elected senator that they have from all sides denounced and demanded resign from the race, something Moore has refused to do.

Needless to say, the firestorm has been mostly directed at The Federalist – especially publisher and commentator Ben Domenech – for publishing the article. From Salon to National Review, the denouncements have hailed forth like small artillery, raining down on Domenech and his staff. To his credit, Domenech has defended the reasons for publishing the article: an attempt to understand how in the world Moore could be anywhere close to Jones much less leading in many polls, after a series of sexual assault allegations.

Domenech has stated clearly that he disagrees strongly with Borland’s arguments but he published his article precisely to try and gain insight into local voters’ reasons for still supporting Moore, much of which revolve around Doug Jones’ – Moore’s opponent – support for abortion.

Does Borland’s article do that? That’s hard to tell, because all of us who are not from Alabama cannot presume to know the thought processes going on there. I won’t get into the details of Borland’s article, you can read it if you want, but David French’s response in National Review (Borland was in a way responding to an earlier French article) includes the following:

I’m not urging any person to vote for Doug Jones. I would never vote for a pro-abortion politician. But if you believe this election will make any material difference in the prevalence or legality of abortion; then you need a civic education. In fact, it’s far more likely that electing a man like Moore will damage the pro-life cause.

French advocates voting for third-party candidate, writing someone in, or staying at home. But never voting for someone who may turn out to be a sex-offender. It’s a powerful piece and concludes forcefully. I suggest reading it.

It has been repeatedly said that issues like abortion are decided more on a pre-political, upstream, and cultural basis before they actually get to the courts. Domenech himself has also written that the GOP needs to collapse in order for new political alternatives to take it’s place. Moore’s election may be such a step towards the GOP’s coming collapse, as perhaps Trump’s election also was. In this context the just announced endorsement of Moore by the RNC and Trump’s recent endorsement go directly against the National Republican Senatorial Committee’s stance on Moore. Civil War in Alabama? And D.C?

The Federalist is right that we can’t hide from the issues that Moore’s possible election raises, but perhaps the Federalist might have leavened their unquestionable courage with an editorial disclaimer prefacing Borland’s article. Anxious for the fray indeed.

My first question regarding the showdown at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is this:

If you are a CFPB staffer who quickly took Acting Director Mulvaney’s offer of a Dunkin’ Donut and trundled up to his office to partake, will you go on a Democrat black list? Will you find your career as a beltway bureaucrat from now on strangely stymied over and over again by the opaque, clutching hand of the administrative state of which you, until recently, were a proud member?

How does a CFRP staffer accept a donut from the man who called your beloved agency a “sick joke”? How ingratiatingly do you smile and how eagerly do you bite down on the proverbial apple, if you will allow the mixed (up) metaphor?

Because whether you like it or not, you treasonous muncher of sweets, you are and have been in the center of a grand struggle over what the administrative state’s reaches are or should be. And most likely you are perfectly aware of the struggle which has been waged since the CFPB was brought into existence in 2010.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is Senator Elizabeth Warren’s brainchild. She did the wonky academic groundwork as a Harvard Law professor, publishing her work around 2007, on the cusp of the financial meltdown and subsequent Great Recession. Senator Warren – as an academic at Harvard, as a member of the Congressional Oversight Panel that was in charge of keeping track of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (or TARP), and as a senator, has been pushing for and getting increased regulation of the financial industry. It’s her goal and her baby.

Who has been fiercely critical of Mulvaney whose appointment as an Acting Director of the CFPB has been public news for a few weeks now – the White House knew that ex-CFRP Director Richard Cordray was going to pull a fast one at any time – and which spurned Cordray to do what he did last Friday?

Senator Warren.

Who did recently appointed Deputy Director Leandra English (until Friday she was Cordray’s Chief of Staff at the CFPB) go see on Monday, along with, naturally, Chuck Schumer?

Senator Warren.

The CFPB was put together in a way that was designed to make it as independent of any Congressional oversight as constitutionally possible. Did I say constitutionally? Sorry, sorry. There is at least one case winding it’s way upward that is based on the complaint that the CFPB is not constitutional, given the way it’s Director has broad sweeping powers not typical of an agency.

The specific issue is who has the authority to appoint an Acting Director at the CFPB. There is a conflict between Dodd-Frank and 1998’s Federal Vacancies Reform Act. But both White House counsel and the CFPB’s own legal counsel – General Counsel Mary McLeod – agree that the president has the authority and that the Vacancies Act takes precedence over Dodd-Frank, in this matter. McLeod has published a memo in which she considers the implications of both pieces of legislation and concludes that:

… the statutory language, legislative history, precedent from the Office of Legal Counsel at the Department of Justice and case law all point to the conclusion that the President may use the Vacancies Reform Act to designate an acting official, even when there is a succession statute under which another official may serve as acting.

On the other hand, contrast General Counsel McLeod’s compelling clarity with Deputy Director (and supposedly Acting Director if you take the Democrat side in this) Leandra English’s lawsuit filed on Sunday:

Ms. English has a clear entitlement to the position of acting director of the CFPB.

Interesting. Leandra English is entitled not necessarily authorized to be Acting Director. Even her own damn lawyers know full well this a political move, not really a constitutional one, although they wish it were. In other words, English should be Acting Director because her heart is in the right place; seated beside her mentor and master Senator Warren.

Should the White House prevail in this appointment tussle over an acting director at an administrative agency, this will mark a key victory in their attempt to roll back the administrative state. This is about way more than donuts, and you know that, you white-mustachioed staffer. Welcome to the right side.

Around the world, from Colombia to China, from Denmark to South Africa and from New Zealand to Uruguay to Canada, euthanasia, or Physician Assisted Suicide, is now legal. In America there are a handful of states as well, with Oregon as the first one to legalize assisted suicide.

Now the state of Victoria, in Australia, is joining the list. Here’s what former Ozzie Prime Minister Tony Abbot had to say:

Only a morally mixed-up society would approve suicide when it’s doctor assisted and doctors should not be expected to forsake their vocation … this idea that we should end the lives of people who have failed our test of usefulness or who have failed our test of what constitutes a decent quality of life is absolutely dead wrong …

Advocates of assisted suicide will say that there is no slippery slope and that a patient’s consent is always assured and carefully monitored and that assisted suicide will never lead to even darker avenues of eliminating suffering in all its forms by eliminating the sufferer.

The fact is it’s far too early to tell despite Oregon’s handful of decades experience with this morbid use of science. But even if we can be sure that no one will needlessly die – which is an absurd belief to have; people are already needlessly dying as revealed by the very disturbing account from Holland of a 40-something married man with kids agreeing to euthanasia due to his depression and alcoholism – this assurance even if it were possible, does not take into account a basic fact.

When someone “assists” you in committing suicide, it’s no longer suicide, it’s murder. And the consent you give is essentially allowing someone else to take your life. It is now a very different matter, because it is no longer the case of a lone individual taking some deliberate physical action that results in their death. Someone else is intervening.

And not just someone else. The full force of the state is behind that physician administering the lethal drug. Now, physician assisted suicide advocates try to make the point that the patient “self-administers” the lethal drug. So apparently it’s no longer euthanasia. Sorry, that’s cutting it a little on the precious side. Who fills the syringe with the lethal drug? Who manufactures the lethal drug? Who transports it, stores it, assures it is of sufficient quality to do what it is designed to do? Who then brings the correct dosage to the area where the patient is to be killed? Who ensures that everything is in order before a patient – perhaps very ill and/or of advanced age – does the nominal final “administering” of the drug?

A whole process is now in place to ensure an efficient way to end a patient’s life. Much like the process to apply the death penalty to a criminal duly convicted of crimes that warrant such a penalty.

We despise pain in our post-modern society because we often don’t have the moral compass to accept and deal with pain. I have trouble even handling a headache without a little pain relief. Never mind broken ribs and weeks and weeks of every agonizing breath keeping you awake at night as in the case of Senator Rand Paul. Never mind the indescribable pain that a terminal cancer patient suffers. So if I were in their shoes, I may very well wish for a quick way out of that debilitating pain.

But by reducing pain and trying to make the world one big safe space – a futile effort even for Scandinavian countries who perhaps are the closest thing the world has to safe space on a big scale – we risk seeing human life, filled with pain and struggle, as itself being an unwanted intrusion. This of course is the view of radical ecologists and environmentalists. And we also no longer see struggle as really worth it. Too painful, too disappointing. Too dangerous. Too risky. We seem to need to reduce life to an omnipresent, suffocating array of rules and regulations to ensure that life is no longer tragic – or painful. We’re not there yet, but that’s where we’re heading.

So as we give thanks for the Puritan’s overwhelming courage in the face of severe winters and starvation and their faith in God and therefore in their own struggles; as we give thanks for the faith that underlay the genius of the founding fathers; as we give thanks for family, for mothers and fathers and sons and daughters; for friendships and for true love, how about we give thanks for life itself which we are blessed with. With all it’s imperfections and with all its pain.

Have a great Thanksgiving Weekend!

Louis CK liked (and surely still likes) to expose himself to women, often it would seem, with zero consent on the part of the unlucky and harassed co-workers. So did Harvey Weinstein. Remember Anthony “The Messenger” Weiner? He almost seems like a long lost innocent fool compared to what’s being brought to light every day, lately courtesy of Roy Moore of course.

So, as far as Giant of the Senate Al Franken (I never really found him that funny years and years ago on SNL but maybe I missed some of his puns if you will) is concerned, does his requesting an ethics probe of himself over his own harassment of LeeAnn Tweeden qualify as ethical wanking? That’s getting so far out in front of the story that you’re naked.

It’s absurd and who knows how this will work out for Senator Franken or what other stories may emerge, but the underlying event – his groping of Tweeden on a USO tour with the excuse of “rehearsing” a kiss for a skit – is not funny. Nor is the foto that she produced. You can see it everywhere on the net. Look at the expression on Franken’s face. More creepy than funny.

About a decade or so back I recall Franken cracking a joke (was it on Conan O’Brien’s show?) about how a woman had to be at least as old as his daughter for him to stare at her backside. The audience laughed, I may have laughed a little. Never really was funny, especially if you’re being stalked by an older creep. Not at all funny now.

Scientology-worshiping actors. Film Producers. Bible-thumping Alabama politicians. Wheelchair-bound ex-presidents. Wall Street financiers. Ex presidents whose wives would have been president. IMF heads who were part of the D.C. and NYC sex-swapping scene – that case involving the very French Dominique Strauss-Kahn. There’s a long, long line up of women who have a story to tell. And they’re not being intimidated anymore. I feel sorry for a freshman who says a slightly tart comment on campus and ends up being hounded out of his chosen university. My heart goes out to the children whose fathers’ actions have disgraced their lives.

I do not feel sorry for Franken or Roy Moore, or any of the others being named.

So if Senator Franken wants to wank his way through a self-referential ethics probe by rending his garments and beating his chest, go for it Al. Maybe you’ll convince us you’re truly sorry. But I can only feel sorry for you.

Authoritarian International is a term now being used to describe how China – and Russia – use their influence, and economic power in China’s case, to support other authoritarian regimes around the world, from Venezuela to Turkey, from the Philippines to Ethiopia. Many of these regimes may have had some form of communist or socialist government or may currently have some form as in Venezuela’s case, but the glue that holds them together is not really marxist economics and ideology but rather strongman rule. A rule that China abstains from condemning on the international stage and a rule which China along with Russia provide military and economic aide to as well as trade ties. Real Clear Politics has a great read on this by Richard Bernstein.

It’s a repudiation of the optimism of the 90’s where it was thought that economic freedom would lead naturally and inevitably, guided by the invisible hand of enlightened self-interest, towards political openness and eventually full democracy. Unfortunately that hasn’t worked out, especially in China’s case where strict one-party rule has accompanied astonishing growth. Yes, at some point the corruption and state-subsidized spending should produce the long-awaited downturn or even crash. But people have been predicting China’s economic collapse for about a decade now.

Which brings us to a rather ugly little episode being followed in the Washington Free Beacon concerning Chinese dissident billionaire Guo Wengui (who has been exposing the very corruption that is undercutting China’s economy) and an interview he gave some time ago to Voice of America’s Chinese language broadcasts. The live interview was cut off in mid stream by senior VOA management and the Chinese VOA journalists (who appear to have been working out of of NYC where Guo is currently living) were suspended and now they have been fired for “insubordination.”

VOA Director Amanda Bennett refused to comment on the matter citing “privacy” concerns. Guess who Bennett is married to? Donald E. Graham, chairman of Graham Holdings which runs an educational publishing business which does a fair bit of business in … China. The fired Chinese VOA ex-employees also claim that VOA has hired James McGregor, a former journalist with close ties to Chinese Politburo heavyweight Wang Qishan.

Look. Everyone and his brother, sister, aunt, and cousin have or are falling over each other to suck up to China and try to actually profit from doing business in that authoritarian state’s enormous consumer market. Some have even made money. But frickin’ Voice of America?! Do they have to join Eric Schmidt, Tim Cook, Mark Zuckerberg and all the rest in kneeling before the Grand Dragon?

It appears that the key event at the start of the 90’s was actually not the fall of the Wall in Berlin. Rather it was a few months earlier in June of 1989 with the Tiananmen Square massacre by army units loyal to China’s ruling communist party, the cardboard mock ups of the Statue of Liberty and the candles crushed under the military might of authoritarianism. So China’s population made a deal with their leaders: they got stunning growth in exchange for the shackles on free expression that were firmly maintained, even as those shackles grew in the sophistication of their methodology.

Those shackles now extend to Voice of America. Rex Tillerson, do you have anything to say? Apparently not. When pressed by Senator Rubio to explain a $4.5 million cut to the semi-official Radio Free Asia’s Mandarin language broadcast, Tillerson said:

I can confirm that to my knowledge, it had nothing to do with our relations with China.

From Alaska to Texas, they’re saying Roy step down. If the stories are even half-true. That is, GOP senators from across America are clearly demanding that Roy Moore step aside from his run to be elected in Jeff Sessions’ seat in Alabama, if the stories of sexual harassment are true.

Roy Moore himself has produced a defiant email refusing to step down and essentially claiming that this is a political witch hunt courtesy of the Washington Post. Of course, that defiant email was a fund raising email sent to supporters. What will he be saying in a week’s time? What will he be saying tomorrow?

This all depends on the veracity of several women, starting with Leigh Corfman who has come forward to talk about some clearly abusive groping and fondling on the part of Moore in the late 70’s when she was barely a teenager. Right now one has to take her words very seriously. Yes, Roy Moore is innocent until proven guilty but if more women step forward with what appear to be legitimate claim, it seems impossible for him to continue. Even if the Corfman story is surely the result of frantic oppo research that could have been funded just as easily by Mitch McConnell’s backers as by Democrats.

Roy Moore was 32 when the incidents with Corfman took place in 1979. He was an assistant DA by then, 2 years out of law school and 5 years out of the military as a captain in the military police. Unfortunately, there have been times when such behavior – if it is indeed true – was disgustingly easy to get away with for even minor officials, as well as theatrical agents, film industry folks, managers, etc. etc. etc. Have been? It’s still happening, and there’s a flood of stories coming out about harassment which means those days finally seem to be coming to an end thanks to liberals turning on their own rich, powerful and lecherous icons like Weinstein.

It’s long past time that abusive or harassing behavior be called out and punished wherever and whenever it occurs. When it really occurs, that is. University campuses have been plagued by false accusations and kangaroo courts, but the way to solve that is by due process. Whether on the one hand it’s mattress girl’s victim, or whether on the other, it’s Roy Moore’s accusers or Kevin Spacey’s victims. Due process applied carefully but forcefully, where evidence is given without shame and considered without hysteria.

But of course we need to be sure Moore did indeed do what he has been accused of. Because that is impossible to do without a full trial, which means possibly years of lawyers battling it out in court in a he-said she-said situation, we therefore don’t have that sort of time. Moore has to be honest with himself and decide what kind of a man he wants to be, despite what kind of a man he may very well have been.

And finally, what if Moore refuses to step aside, the accusations remain but somehow he gets elected? Or, on the other hand, if he does step aside and his rushed replacement loses the election, or if Moore stays in the race and loses? Then we essentially have a split Senate.

In other words, is Roy Moore merely the byproduct of the messy dismembering of the GOP as we know it? In which case, politically, it doesn’t really matter what sort of a man he is.