We're all shocked, shocked to learn that rich people cheat to get their kids into elite universities.

On Tuesday, the Justice Department revealed a massive effort by wealthy parents and a shady "admissions consultant" to bribe and cheat their way into getting kids into a slew of elite schools.

Prosecutors say William Singer, the ringleader, sold two forms of services. For tens of thousands of dollars, parents could pay to have a proctor correct their kids' incorrect answers as they took the SAT. Or they could pay hundreds of thousands to bribe coaches at elite schools to designate applicants as desired athletes, thus circumventing the minimum requirements for grades and test scores.

One California family allegedly paid $1.2 million to Singer, who in turn allegedly paid Rudy Meredith, the women's soccer coach at Yale, $400,000 to claim that the family's daughter was a coveted recruit even though she didn't play at all.

If you think this is about one shady "consultant" at a few schools then I've got a bridge to sell you. Higher education has always been a bit of a racket -- ever since aristocrats started sending their second, third, and fourth sons off to University. In order to be sustainable a grift can't be too obvious, and it needs to provide some value to its marks while it skims a little off the top for itself. Higher education has abandoned that social contract, and it's in for a reckoning.

In his book "The Case Against Education," George Mason economics professor Bryan Caplan makes a compelling case that most of the value in diplomas from elite colleges isn't in the education they allegedly represent but in the cultural or social "signaling" they convey.

Imagine you're deposited on a desert island, forced to fend for yourself. Would you rather have the knowledge that comes with taking a survival training course, or just the piece of paper that says you took the course? Obviously, you'd rather know how to identify poisonous plants and sources of water than have a diploma that says you know how to do things you can't do. Now, ask yourself: Would you rather have the Yale education without the diploma, or the diploma without the education?

From an economic perspective, the piece of paper is vastly more valuable than the education, particularly in the humanities (and Caplan runs through the numbers to demonstrate this). The paper opens doors and gets you callbacks from employers and entrée into elite social circles where whom you know matters more than what you know. The education might make you a better person, but the parchment is the ticket to opportunity. It's no guarantee of success, but it's a profound hedge against failure.

Parents know this, and parents without special advantages (wealth, fame, connections) resent it.

"Elite" education -- and to a lesser extent, higher education more generally -- has become a scheme for inter-generational power transfer disguised as meritocracy.

Do you think I'm exaggerating by calling higher education a grift? Here's how America's young people are being robbed blind by our universities.

If you're wondering why the majority of Americans under 30 say they prefer socialism, debt is a major reason. Student loans are killing them, and they never go away. Thanks to extensive lobbying efforts here in Washington, student loans, unlike other forms of debt, cannot be erased by bankruptcy.

The student loan crisis is a modern problem. Just 13 years ago, the average new college graduate owed $20,000 in student loans. Today, that number has jumped to $37,000. Student debt is rising far faster than the earnings of American workers, the very earnings that are supposed to justify student loans in the first place. ...

In 1990, a quarter of American adults lived with their parents. Today, the number has risen to 35 percent. The home ownership rate for millennials dropped eight points from the generation before. Unable to afford homes, millennials are getting married later and less often. They're also having fewer kids. It's not because they don't want children. According to Gallup, the percentage of Americans who want children has not changed in 25 years. And yet fewer children are being born, thanks in part to rising debt levels, America's middle class cannot replace itself. ...

A hundred schools now have endowments over a billion dollars. They are hedge funds with schools attached. What have colleges done with this money? Well, they've hired massive staffs of like-minded people for one thing. From 1987 to 2012, the number of administrators on college campuses more than doubled. That's far bigger than the increase of actual students going to college. College administrators routinely make six-figure salaries. What exactly do they do for that money? Not a single thing that makes this a better country.

College presidents often get seven-figure salaries. Their pay is probably the only thing in America rising as fast as tuition costs. Academic publishers are getting rich from all of this, too -- from the debt boom. Prices of textbooks have tripled in the past 20 years. Printing hasn't gotten more expensive; non-academic books are cheaper now than they were two decades ago. But students are a captive market, and they are being exploited ruthlessly. Nobody says a word about it.

Parasitical universities are killing their hosts, and destroying our cultural and intellectual inheritance in the process.


Did you know that Jeff Bezos writes product reviews on Amazon? Or at least he used to -- his most recent review is from 2006 for... milk.

Jeff Bezos reviewed a product · Aug 9, 2006

5 out of five stars

Long Time Fan

I love milk so much that I've been drinking it since the day I was born.

Unfortunately many of the products he recommends are no longer available.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ms. Page: That is correct.

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


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

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

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

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

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


I sometimes have the opportunity to mentor younger professionals, and they often laugh when I suggest that their number one career goal should be to simply stay employed in a hard-to-automate job. The trends are sobering.

The forecast of an America where robots do all the work while humans live off some yet-to-be-invented welfare program may be a Silicon Valley pipe dream. But automation is changing the nature of work, flushing workers without a college degree out of productive industries, like manufacturing and high-tech services, and into tasks with meager wages and no prospect for advancement.

Automation is splitting the American labor force into two worlds. There is a small island of highly educated professionals making good wages at corporations like Intel or Boeing, which reap hundreds of thousands of dollars in profit per employee. That island sits in the middle of a sea of less educated workers who are stuck at businesses like hotels, restaurants and nursing homes that generate much smaller profits per employee and stay viable primarily by keeping wages low. ...

"Until a few years ago, I didn't think this was a very complicated subject; The Luddites were wrong and the believers in technology and technological progress were right," Lawrence Summers, a former Treasury secretary and presidential economic adviser, said in a lecture at the National Bureau of Economic Research five years ago. "I'm not so completely certain now."

The threat isn't just to jobs that don't require a college degree, that's a vast oversimplification. Here's a graphic by McKinsey from 2016.

And note that the "managing others" category is hard to automate, but also becomes less necessary when there aren't many humans left to manage.


I haven't written about the recent state-level abortion laws because the horror of it all is almost too much to bear. The devastation wrought on precious human lives by the evil of abortion is an abominable weight on our country and civilization.

Genesis 4:9-10

Then the Lord said to Cain, "Where is your brother Abel?"

"I don't know," he replied. "Am I my brother's keeper?"

The Lord said, "What have you done? Listen! Your brother's blood cries out to me from the ground.

God hears the silent cries of the children we have sacrificed on the modern altar of Molech. A million deaths every year isn't just a statistic, it's a million individuals, each loved by God.

Psalm 139:13-18

You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
   and knit me together in my mother's womb.
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
   Your workmanship is marvelous--how well I know it.
You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
   as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
You saw me before I was born.
   Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
   before a single day had passed.
How precious are your thoughts about me, O God.
   They cannot be numbered!
I can't even count them;
   they outnumber the grains of sand!
And when I wake up,
   you are still with me!

God forgive us for the evil of abortion, for the intentional suffering we inflict on mothers and children, the most vulnerable among us.

God forgive me for doing little more than writing and praying.

God deliver our nation from this horror. Teach us to value every human life you lovingly create.


"The military attaché at the Venezuelan Embassy in Washington, Col. José Luis Silva, broke with the Nicolás Maduro regime Saturday and urged other armed forces members to recognize Juan Guaidó as the legitimate interim president of the South American nation."

"As the Venezuelan defense attaché in the United States, I do not recognize Mr. Nicolás Maduro as president of Venezuela," Silva told el Nuevo Herald in a telephone interview from Washington, D.C.

"My message to all armed forces members, to everyone who carries a gun, is to please let's not attack the people. We are also part of the people, and we've had enough of supporting a government that has betrayed the most basic principles and sold itself to other countries," he added.

1 Timothy 2:1-4

I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people -- for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


I'm not a huge fan of Elon Musk -- he has fascinating ideas, but his successes are highly dependent on government subsidies. He's right about at least one thing however: traffic sucks. Smith Henderson writes:

Musk tells us later that it all came to him fuming in L.A. traffic. Truth. You can feel yourself dying in L.A. traffic. My tactic is to stay home, stay in my 'hood. I got my coffee places, my Trader Joe's. I will not do Los Angeles things simply because of what havoc traffic does to my mood. I feel Musk's pain.

The problem isn't just the traffic, but how we've conceived it. We live in three dimensions, but we travel in two. It's stupid. And our flying-car fetish has been a bogus panacea all along--every crash would be an air disaster. The mythic draw of flight was maybe too dazzling for us to appreciate another direction: underground. Well, until now.

Traffic is one of the main reasons I left my native land of Los Angeles. Traffic drains your soul.

I'm just not confident that tunnels are the way to go. There's no doubt that cheaper, better tunnels will be fantastic for some applications, but "flying cars" will require much less infrastructure and be far more flexible. There's no reason we can't have both... and I'm not sure that tunnels will win out in earthquake-prone Los Angeles.

I also think Henderson's and my approaches will be parts of the solution to traffic: thanks to telecommunication, people will travel less in cities and be more free to leave them altogether without splitting from the modern information economy.


Copyright terms haven't been extended to protect Mickey Mouse like they were in 1998, but it's hard to celebrate this passive victory for the public domain when the duration is set to 95 years!

As the ball dropped over Times Square last night, all copyrighted works published in 1923 fell into the public domain (with a few exceptions). Everyone now has the right to republish them or adapt them for use in new works.

It's the first time this has happened in 21 years.

In 1998, works published in 1922 or earlier were in the public domain, with 1923 works scheduled to expire at the beginning of 1999. But then Congress passed the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act. It added 20 years to the terms of older works, keeping 1923 works locked up until 2019.

Many people--including me--expected another fight over copyright extension in 2018. But it never happened. Congress left the existing law in place, and so those 1923 copyrights expired on schedule this morning.

And assuming Congress doesn't interfere, more works will fall into the public domain each January from now on.

That's better than nothing, I guess. Personally, I think a term of 20 or 30 years would be far more reasonable than 95.


French writer Michel Houellebecq offers a hilarious and non-political view of Trump and America. Implied but unsaid is the truth that politics isn't the only, best, or most useful lens through which to view the world.

President Trump was elected to safeguard the interests of American workers; he's safeguarding the interests of American workers. During the past fifty years in France, one would have wished to come upon this sort of attitude more often.

President Trump doesn't like the European Union; he thinks we don't have a lot in common, especially not "values"; and I call this fortunate, because, what values? "Human rights"? Seriously? He'd rather negotiate directly with individual countries, and I believe this would actually be preferable; I don't think that strength necessarily proceeds from union. It's my belief that we in Europe have neither a common language, nor common values, nor common interests, that, in a word, Europe doesn't exist, and that it will never constitute a people or support a possible democracy (see the etymology of the term), simply because it doesn't want to constitute a people. In short, Europe is just a dumb idea that has gradually turned into a bad dream, from which we shall eventually wake up. And in his hopes for a "United States of Europe," an obvious reference to the United States, Victor Hugo only gave further proof of his grandiloquence and his stupidity; it always does me a bit of good to criticize Victor Hugo.

Logically enough, President Trump was pleased about Brexit. Logically enough, so was I; my sole regret was that the British had once again shown themselves to be more courageous than us in the face of empire. The British get on my nerves, but their courage cannot be denied.

An so forth. Go read the whole thing.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


The Australian government has made a monumentally stupid decision to essentially ban encryption.

The new law, which has been pushed for since at least 2017, requires that companies provide a way to get at encrypted communications and data via a warrant process. It also imposes fines of up to A$10 million for companies that do not comply and A$50,000 for individuals who do not comply. In short, the law thwarts (or at least tries to thwart) strong encryption.

"Strong encryption" is just encryption -- weak encryption is no better than nothing.

Apple has the right take:

Silicon Valley has largely decried Canberra's new law. In particular, Apple, which famously resisted American efforts to break its own encryption during a 2015 terrorism investigation, previously told Australian lawmakers that what they are legislating is impossible.

"Some suggest that exceptions can be made, and access to encrypted data could be created just for only those sworn to uphold the public good," Apple continued. "That is a false premise. Encryption is simply math. Any process that weakens the mathematical models that protect user data for anyone will, by extension, weaken the protections for everyone. It would be wrong to weaken security for millions of law-abiding customers in order to investigate the very few who pose a threat."

Great way to undermine every Australian industry that depends on encryption... which is all of them.


This analysis of the 4th National Climate Assessment is a great explanation of my general views on climate change. My thoughts are:

  • Earth's climate is changing, and it has never been static
  • Human activity isn't contributing much to the change
  • A general warming trend would be good for humanity
  • Therefore, we shouldn't disrupt our energy production and economy in an attempt to manipulate earth's climate

I highly recommend reading the whole analysis.

Due to the considerable doubt about the magnitude of the human contribution to climate change it would seem foolish to destroy the fossil fuel industry, throwing millions out of work and crushing the world's economy with higher energy prices. Anything this foolish and destructive should certainly wait until (and if) the climate models used to create the projections used in NCA4 volume two are validated and produce a much tighter set of projections than seen in Figure 1. However, the chapter on adaptation is still valid. If some climate changes are harmful in some areas, these ideas are useful. Regardless of how much climate change is man-made, communities should adapt by improving their infrastructure to resist climate-related threats. Coastal areas should improve storm-surge and flood barriers, the western U.S. should improve their forest management to make fighting forest fires easier, every part of the U.S. should improve their surface water drainage, etc. Adaptation is an obvious thing to do, the benefits of mitigation (reducing fossil fuel use) are far more speculative and much less likely to be effective (May 2018). Bjorn Lomborg has also written extensively about this in his book Cool It and in articles such as this one. NCA4 reports that construction of adaptation infrastructure in the U.S. has increased since 2014, which is a good thing (page 53, Report-in-Brief).


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

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

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

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

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


I don't know who will win in court over Jim Acosta's press pass, but I'm pretty tired in general of lawyers fractally parsing our laws into incomprehensible gibberish. "Legal analysts" quoted by the media are predicting that CNN will win the lawsuit, but it's pretty obvious they shouldn't. The First Amendment says:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

It's obvious that no individual person has a right to a press pass to the White House. Jim Acosta is free to continue writing and saying whatever he wants. He has no right to have access to the President, either at the White House or anywhere else. If I applied for a White House press pass I'd be denied, and no one would be up in arms about it. Jim Acosta has no more rights than you or I do.

What's more, his employer, CNN, has dozens of press passes for its employees. To the extent that the First Amendment should be understood to protect corporations, CNN has plenty of alternatives to Jim Acosta. Even if you think CNN has a right to access the White House (which would be absurd) there's no reason they have to send Jim Acosta.

President Trump is obviously correct to assert that he is under no obligation to let any journalists into the White House.

Donald Trump sought Wednesday to land a massive blow in his long-fought battle against the news media, with administration lawyers asserting in court that the president could bar "all reporters" from the White House complex for any reason he sees fit.

The sweeping claim, which came in the first public hearing over CNN's lawsuit to restore correspondent Jim Acosta's White House credentials, could have a dramatic impact on news organizations' access to government officials if it is upheld in court.

Politico's characterization is dramatic and overwrought. Public officials don't talk to reporters because they're forced to by the Constitution, or merely because the reporters have physical access to a certain location. They talk to reporters when they want to. The relationship between a president and the journalists who cover him really depends on the whims of the president. Here's some data on the number of press conferences held by recent presidents:

By president: Total / average per month:

Obama - 163 / 1.72
George W. Bush - 210 / 2.18
Bill Clinton - 193 / 2.01
George H. W. Bush - 137 / 2.85
Reagan - 46 / 0.48
Carter- 59 / 1.23
Ford - 40 / 1.36
Nixon - 39 /0.59
Lyndon B. Johnson - 135 /2.18
JFK - 65 /1.91
Eisenhower - 193 /2.01
Truman - 324 / 3.48
Franklin Roosevelt - 1,020/ 7.0
Hoover - 268 / 5.58
Coolidge - 407 / 6.07

President Trump talks more than any past president -- directly to citizens via Twitter even if not to the media. He's under no Constitutional obligation to talk to anyone.


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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