Monday, June 12, 2017

Cruising the Web

The election results in Britain are so very disappointing. Whatever one thinks of Theresa May, it is not heartening to think that Jeremy Corbyn came so close to being the man who put together a coalition government to rule Britain. That such a Marxist friend to terrorists should have risen to lead the Labour Party is a real problem. As Stephen Daisley reminds us at Commentary, this is a man who praised terrorists such as the IRA and Hamas even after attacks on British soil including the bombing of Margaret Thatcher and her cabinet.
Jeremy Corbyn was boosted into the Labour leader’s chair in 2015, when students and veteran communists flooded the party’s membership rolls and threw the primary for the ardent socialist. Every indicator, historical and psephological, pointed to a catastrophe should Corbyn lead Labour into an election. That he managed to increase Labour’s vote share and seat tally is undoubtedly a function of the divisions wrought by Brexit and of a chaotic Conservative election campaign that saw the Tories propose punitive entitlements reform on their elderly voter base and the Prime Minister hole up in Downing Street refusing to appear on camera as her polling numbers worsened.

This is only part of the story. The other part, as unavoidable as it is unpalatable, is that Jeremy Corbyn connected with a large segment of the UK population. An eccentric who spent thirty years championing crank causes from the backbenches, Corbyn attracted voters despite his record of sympathizing with and even championing the IRA, Hamas, and Hezbollah. He is no mere romantic radical. Corbyn associated with murderers, anti-Semites and Holocaust-deniers. When the IRA attempted to assassinate Margaret Thatcher in 1984, killing five people in the process, Corbyn invited its leaders to the House of Commons and was later arrested protesting in “solidarity” outside the assassin’s trial. He still refuses to return the $26,000 he accepted from the Iranian regime’s Press TV.

Since his election to lead Labour, the party has been engulfed in an anti-Semitism scandal, with a series of Corbyn supporters abusing Jews and attempting to run the few remaining supporters of Israel out of the party. Anti-Semitism has become so normalized in Labour that it refuses to expel Ken Livingstone, former Mayor of London, who routinely accuses Zionists of collaborating with the Nazis and characterizes Hitler as a supporter of Jewish settlement in Palestine.
I guess young people didn't care about any of that as long as he was promising a free university education. He is described as the British Bernie Sanders and he certainly learned from Sanders' example in the campaign. But he is so much worse. Admiring socialist policies that have failed time and again is one thing. But praising terrorist organizations is something entirely different and, having suffered three terrorist attacks recently, British voters should have been more sensitive to that. We now know that there is a substantial minority of voters in Britain who don't care that the leader of the party they voted for has such a record.

Toby Young, a columnist at The Spectator, has some fun with Jeremy Corbyn, although it's all quite frightening when you realize how close he came to moving into 10 Downing Street. Young satirizes Corbyn's biography which, apparently, has qualified him to be the leader of the Labour Party.
Secondly, he’s a man of principle. He has stuck doggedly to his brand of hard-left politics for more than 50 years. The fact that this credo has been an unmitigated disaster in every country in which it has been tried, leading to the suppression of free speech, the imprisonment of political dissidents and mass starvation, hasn’t led to the slightest sliver of doubt or one jot of revision. John Maynard Keynes said: ‘When the facts change, I change my mind’, but not Jeremy. He is as steadfast and reliable as a stopped clock. That’s the kind of man I want as the head of our government in a fast-moving world.

Thirdly, his grasp of international affairs is second to none. He has been on the right side of every major foreign policy issue, starting with the Falklands War, which he correctly identified as a ‘Tory plot’. He opposed the Nato intervention in Kosovo and dismissed as a ‘fabrication’ the absurd claim that the war crimes committed by Slobodan Milosevic amounted to genocide. Indeed, he believes Nato should have been ‘wound up’ after the end of the Cold War, which, like his chief of staff Seumas Milne, he thinks was won by the wrong side. He isn’t so weak-minded that he imagines Nato has any useful role to play in containing Russian aggression and has condemned Britain’s plans to send 800 troops to Estonia as a ‘provocation’.

Whether it’s Vladimir Putin or General Galtieri, Corbyn can always be relied upon to side with Britain’s enemies, never allowing his judgment to be clouded by jingoism. He is particularly sound when it comes to so-called ‘terror’ groups, which he sees through the lens of the anti-imperialist ‘liberation’ movements of the 1960s and 1970s. In this context, it is perfectly understandable that he invited representatives of the IRA to have tea at the House of Commons a few days after it tried to kill Maggie Thatcher in the Brighton bombing.

And we shouldn’t hold it against him that he was on the editorial board of a socialist newspaper when it mocked Norman Tebbit, who had to be dug out of the rubble, saying: ‘Try riding your bike now, Norman.’ Brilliant! No one can accuse Jezza of not having a sense of humour.

When it comes to Islamist groups, he is a breath of fresh air. Don’t expect the usual, knee-jerk response to the cold-blooded murder of innocent women and children from him. He courageously decided to appear on Iranian state television, for which he was paid several thousand pounds, to condemn the killing of Osama bin Laden as a ‘tragedy’ and has frequently expressed his solidarity with Hamas and Hezbollah in their ‘armed struggle’ against Israeli ‘colonialism’. As for Isis, he told Andrew Marr he thinks ‘dialogue’ is the best way forward. ‘I think there has to be some understanding of where their strong points are,’ he explained.

Which brings me to my fourth and final reason for hailing Jeremy Corbyn as the greatest political leader this country has ever seen: security. As his close colleague John McDonnell says, the way to keep Britain’s streets safe from knife-wielding Islamo-fascist psychopaths is to disarm the police. After all, we know just how much harm the police can do when they’re allowed to shoot to kill. As for the policy of nuclear deterrence, Jeremy is quite right to reject it. In an increasingly dangerous world, we should do whatever we can to lower the temperature, including disbanding MI5 and MI6.

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James R. Rubin,a former assistant secretary of state in the Bill Clinton administration, looks
at what a Prime Minister Corbyn would mean for U.S foreign policy. Remember that Corbyn is "n old-school socialist who opposes NATO’s very existence as a provocation to Russia and regards U.S. foreign policy as a tool of corporate America."
One sure consequence of a Prime Minister Corbyn is that the White House would have to consider France, not the UK, as the strongest and most reliable U.S. ally in a crisis. Not only did the French election bring the West a leader who espouses values like tolerance, integration and the rule of law, but France’s President Emmanuel Macron is clear-eyed enough to recognize the danger Russia’s territorial aggression, relentless hacking and election sabotage pose to Europe and the world.

By contrast, Corbyn has argued that the West is to blame for Russia’s behavior. According to Corbyn, it was NATO’s decision not to disband after the fall of communism in 1989 and then its eastward expansion that provoked the Kremlin. And therefore, the invasion of Crimea was an understandable Russian response to these and other mistakes made by NATO....

Meanwhile, one can only imagine what the Kremlin would think about a Prime Minister Corbyn. The damage already done to NATO’s credibility and deterrence by Trump’s reluctance to reaffirm the core collective security commitment in the NATO Treaty, Article V, is bad enough. But the damage to NATO’s solidarity and cohesion posed by Corbyn leading Britain is beyond Moscow’s imaginings. Russia has been working to drive wedges between key members of the trans-Atlantic alliance since the height of the Cold War.

In Corbyn, Russia would have the ultimate “useful idiot” – a leader of a top NATO government who genuinely believes the alliance should not exist, who blames NATO for tensions with Russia, and who has said he would never follow NATO’s strategy of nuclear deterrence. Kremlin operatives would probably feel like they hit the “power ball” jackpot in a geopolitical lottery.
If Putin had actually interfere in the election, he could hardly have achieved a more favorable result.

Now that we've had a few days to absorb James Comey's testimony, there are several peculiarities that are emerging. Jonathan Turley looks at Comey's behavior and finds it quite problematic with regard to the ethical standards that should govern a member of the FBI, much less the head of the bureau.
Comey described a series of ethical challenges during his term as FBI director. Yet, he almost uniformly avoided taking a firm stand in support of the professional standards of the FBI. During the Obama administration, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch gave Comey a direct order to mislead the public by calling the ongoing investigation a mere “matter.” Rather than standing firm on the integrity of his department and refusing to adopt such a meaningless and misleading term, Comey yielded to Lynch while now claiming discomfort over carrying out the order.

When Trump allegedly asked for Comey to drop the investigation of Michael Flynn or pledge loyalty, Comey did not tell the president that he was engaging in wildly inappropriate conduct. He instead wrote a memo to file and told close aides. He now says that he wishes he had the courage or foresight to have taken a stand with the president.

However, the clearest violation came in the days following his termination. Comey admits that he gave the damaging memos to a friend at Columbia Law School with the full knowledge that the information would be given to the media. It was a particularly curious moment for a former director who was asked by the president to fight the leakers in the government. He proceeded in becoming one of the most consequential leakers against Trump.

Comey said that he took these actions days after his termination, when he said that he woke up in the middle of the night and realized suddenly that the memos could be used to contradict Trump. It was a bizarrely casual treatment of material that would be viewed by many as clearly FBI information. He did not confer with the FBI or the Justice Department. He did not ask for any classification review despite one of the parties described being the president of the United States. He simply sent the memos to a law professor to serve as a conduit to the media.

As a threshold matter, Comey asked a question with regard to Trump that he should now answer with regard to his own conduct. Comey asked why Trump would ask everyone to leave the Oval Office to speak with Comey unless he was doing something improper. Yet, Trump could ask why Comey would use a third party to leak these memos if they were his property and there was nothing improper in their public release.

In fact, there was a great deal wrong with their release, and Comey likely knew it. These were documents prepared on an FBI computer addressing a highly sensitive investigation on facts that he considered material to that investigation. Indeed, he conveyed that information confidentially to his top aides and later said that he wanted the information to be given to the special counsel because it was important to the investigation.

Many in the media have tried to spin this as not a “leak” because leaks by definition only involve classified information. That is entirely untrue as shown by history. Leaks involve the release of unauthorized information — not only classified information. Many of the most important leaks historically have involved pictures and facts not classified but embarrassing to a government. More importantly, federal regulations refer to unauthorized disclosures not just classified information.

Comey’s position would effectively gut a host of federal rules and regulations. He is suggesting that any federal employee effectively owns documents created during federal employment in relation to an ongoing investigation so long as they address the information to themselves. FBI agents routinely write such memos in investigations. They are called 302s to memorialize field interviews or fact acquisitions. They are treated as FBI information.

The Justice Department routinely claims such memos as privileged and covered by the deliberative process privilege and other privileges. Indeed, if this information were sought under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) it would likely have been denied. Among other things, the Justice Department and FBI routinely claim privilege “inter-agency or intra-agency memorandums or letters which would not be available by law to a party other than an agency in litigation with the agency.”
I would have liked for Comey to have been asked what his opinion would have been of another employee of the FBI who had written up memos to himself on government computers about meetings with a superior officer and then leaked it to the media. There are laws governing such material and Comey just woke up in the middle of the night and decided to release those memos.
Besides being subject to nondisclosure agreements, Comey falls under federal laws governing the disclosure of classified and unclassified information. Assuming that the memos were not classified (though it seems odd that it would not be classified even on the confidential level), there is 18 U.S.C. § 641, which makes it a crime to steal, sell, or convey “any record, voucher, money, or thing of value of the United States or of any department or agency thereof.”

There are also ethical and departmental rules against the use of material to damage a former represented person or individual or firm related to prior representation. The FBI website warns employees that “dissemination of FBI information is made strictly in accordance with provisions of the Privacy Act; Title 5, United States Code, Section 552a; FBI policy and procedures regarding discretionary release of information in accordance with the Privacy Act; and other applicable federal orders and directives.”

One such regulation is § 2635.703, on the use of nonpublic information, which states, “An employee shall not engage in a financial transaction using nonpublic information, nor allow the improper use of nonpublic information to further his own private interest or that of another, whether through advice or recommendation, or by knowing unauthorized disclosure.”

The standard FBI employment agreement bars the unauthorized disclosure of information “contained in the files, electronic or paper, of the FBI” that impact the bureau and specifically pledges that “I will not reveal, by any means, any information or material from or related to FBI files or any other information acquired by virtue of my official employment to any unauthorized recipient without prior official written authorization by the FBI.”
As Turley argues, if Comey had asked for a review to allow him to release those memos, he most probably would have been denied. And, as Turley also points out, Comey knew that he would be called before Congress to testify. He could have talked about that meeting with Trump at that time. He could have waited until that moment. Comey argues now that he released the information because he wanted to ensure that there would be a special counsel put in place. But he could have accomplished that same goal by speaking with the Deputy AG and giving him the memo. So why not wait?
The fact is that the leaking of the memos worked to the advantage of James Comey, not Robert Mueller. Comey was able to take over the narrative and news cycle after Trump had publicly belittled him and his record. Special counsels do not like leaks of this kind. It would have been far better for the special counsel (or Comey’s own former investigatory team and congressional investigators) to have the memos confidentially.

The greatest value of the memos would be to question Trump and other potential targets without their knowing of their existence. The memos could then have been used to establish false statements and pressure cooperation. Instead, Comey told possible targets, including Trump, about the evidence against them in the memos.
I'm not saying that Comey would ever be prosecuted for his actions. But I bet that an underling of Comey's who had done the same thing might indeed have been indicted. His excuse about why hde used a cutout to leak the memo to the New York Times instead of doing it himself is because he wanted to avoid the media.
Comey testified that he used a cutout “[b]ecause I was weary [of] the media [that] was camping at the end of my driveway at that point. I was actually going out of town with my wife to hide. I worried it would be feeding seagulls at the beach, if it was I who gave it to the media.”
That just doesn't pass the smell test. They don't have phone access at the beach? His pal at Columbia Law School either read or described the memo to the reporter Michael Schmidt. Couldn't Comey have done the same thing?

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Andrew McCarthy delves
into the timeline of Comey's conversations with Trump and other reports from the FBI and puts forth his argument about why Trump fired Comey. When you see the timeline all together, this seems like a very plausible explanation. On January 6, the FBI, NSA, and CIA issued a report about Russian activities in the election and made it clear that the FBI was continuing to investigate. That same day Comey assured the President that the FBI was not investigating him personally. Trump didn't ask him, but Comey volunteered that assurance, according to Comey's written statement. He assured him again on January 27. At that meeting Trump talked about may asking the FBI to investigate the dossier prepared by Christopher Steele that included all sorts of damaging, but false details about Trump and Russian hookers. Comey tells us that he discouraged that because it "could create a misleading public 'narrative' — in this instance, a narrative that the FBI was 'investigating him personally, which we weren’t.'”

McCarthy then reminds us of what Comey testified to the House Intelligence Committee on March 20.
I have been authorized by the Department of Justice to confirm that the FBI, as part of our counterintelligence mission, is investigating the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election and that includes investigating the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia’s efforts. As with any counterintelligence investigation, this will also include an assessment of whether any crimes were committed.(italics added)

He said he didn't want to make any statement to say that there was no investigation because the FBI has the practice of not divulging whether or not they are investigating anyone.
In presaging this revelation, Comey noted that it was against the “practice” of the FBI “to confirm the existence of ongoing investigations, especially those investigations that involve classified matters.” As we noted at the top, though, it had already been publicly confirmed in the intelligence agencies’ report, and it was already publicly known through media reporting, that the FBI was investigating the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. Consequently, the only apparent purpose of Comey’s irregular disclosure was to proclaim that the Bureau was probing links between the Trump campaign and the Putin regime — in particular, any “coordination” between the campaign and Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election.

And note Comey’s reference to the FBI’s “counterintelligence mission.” Given that it is not the purpose of that mission to investigate crimes, and that it is in fact improper to use counterintelligence authorities with the intention of building criminal cases, why would the FBI director invoke an “assessment of whether any crimes were committed”?

It had only been a few weeks since Comey cautioned Trump to avoid creating misleading narratives. Yet it was inevitable that the then-director’s explosive disclosure would fuel the narrative that Trump — who, as NBC News’s Lester Holt pointed out, was the “centerpiece of the Trump campaign” — had ties to Russia that were worthy of FBI scrutiny. In addition, Comey’s assertions invigorated the narrative that Trump had colluded with Putin to manipulate the American electoral process.
Comey's statement seemed to, as McCarthy points out, validate all the wild leaks about contacts between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives that had appeared in the media and which Comey tells us this week were just plain wrong.

Comey then went on to say that he testified to the leadership in Congress and told them that the FBI was not personally investigating President Trump. Sundance at The Conservative Treehouse points out how many people that was on Capitol Hill who knew that Trump was not the subject of an FBI investigation: Republicans Ryan, McConnell, Nunes, and Burr plus Democrats Pelosi, Schumer, Schiff, and Warner. Add in all their aides. Then add in all the members of both intelligence committees that Comey briefed and all their aides. Add in the people involved in the FBI and DOJ investigations. Since Trump got elected we've been hearing leak after leak, some of which involved classified information and this is the one leak that never got out except for one remark by Senator Grassley after Trump said that Comey had told him three times that he wasn't under investigation and Grassley said he hadn't heard anything that contradicted that. It really is quite amazing, as Marco Rubio pointed out on Thursday, that this is the one piece of information that didn't leak.
RUBIO: You know, this investigation is full of leaks, left and right. I mean, we've learned more from the newspapers sometimes than we do from our open hearings, for sure.

You ever wonder why, of all the things in this investigation, the only thing that's never been leaked is the fact that the president was not personally under investigation, despite the fact that both Democrats and Republicans in the leadership of Congress knew that, and have known that for weeks?
McCarthy questions whether Comey was truly motivated by the "public interest" in not saying that Trump wasn't under investigation.
More fundamentally, what is the “public interest” in misleading the public? If you know that what you are about to say is going to lead people to believe the president of the United States is under investigation (as it did), and you know for a fact that the president of the United States is not under investigation (as Comey did), why make the statement? And if it was important enough to tell Congress that Trump was not under investigation so that Congress would not be misled, what conceivable reason is there not to tell the public — especially when you must know that withholding this critical detail will make it much more difficult for the president to deal with foreign leaders and marshal political support for his domestic agenda?
Understanding this timeline, it's much more understandable why Trump was so furious that he decided to fire Comey and why he inserted into his letter of termination the reminder that Comey had told him three times that he wasn't under investigation.

Paul Mirengoff has his own hypothesis as to why James Comey didn't want to make that news public.
But Comey had a reason of his own not to. As he testified, he had a bad experience with providing updates of the status of a high profile investigation. I’m referring, of course, to the Hillary Clinton investigation. Comey created quite a storm when he told the Senate that the Clinton investigation had been reopened. He still bears the scars, as he made clear during his testimony.

It’s understandable that Comey didn’t want to go through the “updating” experience again, or even create the possibility of going through it. But Comey’s personal desire shouldn’t have caused him to reject a reasonable request by the U.S. president for a simple statement to the public that would make it easier for the president to perform his job.

What’s more important, the president’s ability to function free from false suspicion or the desire of the FBI director to avoid a potential firestorm? The question answers itself. If Comey’s fear of another firestorm was behind his unwillingness to tell the public that Trump wasn’t being investigated, he should have resigned.

I think, though, that something else — another personal interest — was also at play. Imagine the outcry from Democrats and the mainstream media if Comey had declared publicly that Trump wasn’t under investigation.

Comey had already made two public declarations adverse to Democrats — his press conference laying out the evidence regarding Clinton’s emails and his “update” informing the Senate that the investigation had been reopened. A third such declaration — that Trump isn’t being investigated — would have been seen as final proof that this once praised figure was a tool of the Republicans.

Any chance of restoring his status as “fiercely independent” and willing to stand up to Republican presidents would be gone. Comey would have been viewed as bowing to Trump’s will. And, of course, the fact that Trump had leaned on him would make Comey feel there was truth to this. His self-image would also take a hit.

Again, we must ask: What’s more important, the president’s ability to function free from false suspicion or the desire of the FBI director to restore his public image and retain his self-image? Again, the question answers itself.

Comey testified that he documented his meeting with Trump because he had special distrust of Trump and that he hadn't done this previously with either Bush or Obama. But John Hinderaker has the story of a detailed memo that Comey wrote after a conversation with President Bush when he was the Deputy Attorney General and then gave to an author of a book critical of Dick Cheney. Perhaps if Trump had a more experienced staff, they would have known of Comey's tendency to write these self-serving memos and warned Trump about it. I know I saw a lot of people on Twitter right after Trump fired Comey saying that Comey probably had written such documents and Trump should beware of what Comey had written. Perhaps his aides warned Trump and he decided he could hold a problematic one-on-one meeting with Comey anyway because he is such a marvelous negotiator. But I suspect it is more likely that no one on his White House staff has that sort of background where they'd know that about Comey.

Jonah Goldberg points out that Trump supporters (he calls them Pro-Trump-Derangement-Syndromers or PTDSers) need to decide to either accept what Comey said or cast it out entirely. They shouldn't get to pick and choose which parts they believe and which they don't.
The anti-Comey brigades on the right want to have it every which way. “He’s a liar,” Trump, his lawyer, and the PTDSers say. Well, as I note in my Friday column, if Comey is willing to lie, why didn’t he come up with a far more damaging story? He could have said Trump offered him cash to have Ted Cruz’s father arrested for murdering JFK. He could have said Trump told him the Ghostbusters remake was the best film he’d ever seen.

People are making a huge deal of the fact that Comey admitted to doing Loretta Lynch’s bidding by calling the Clinton investigation a “matter.” On that point, they think Comey is telling the truth.

Similarly, Democrats and Republicans alike denounce him for not more forcefully standing up to the president when Trump said he “hoped” Comey could cut Michael Flynn some slack. If he’s such a liar, why not say, “I looked the president in the eye and told him, ‘Sir, I took an oath and I will not bend to your outrageous demands!’”?

Of course, one reason Comey couldn’t say that is that he was locked into his version of events, because he wrote it all down and described it to colleagues immediately after the meeting with Trump. But that, alas, is an argument for believing Comey told the truth.

The PTDSers want to pocket every statement that exonerates the president as utterly dispositive while claiming that every indicting statement is a lie. That’s not how it works.
Goldberg makes the point that PTDS-ers are now treating Comey like Democrats treated Ken Starr. They can't stand that their idol has feet of clay so they must attack anyone who exposes the idol.
But, again, I don’t want to make this about Dennis. For the last 24 hours, I have been besieged by people insisting that Comey is a deceitful man of low honor. I don’t think Comey is that, but if he is, he is only by the rarefied standards of a career public servant who operates within conventional boundaries of morality and decency. But whatever. My point is: If you excuse all the things Donald Trump has done and said — and bragged about! — you have surrendered the ability to use notions of honor, decency, and honesty as weapons against his critics.

Whataboutism is fine if you want to point out double standards. But the trick is to hold onto your standards while you do it. It is otherworldly to celebrate how Donald Trump doesn’t play by the rules while at the same denouncing anyone who doesn’t play by the rules in response.
Well said. One can criticize Trump's enemies without praising Trump. As Goldberg reminds us, so many of the problems that Trump is facing now are of his own making. He reminds us of how Trump bragged during the campaign that he was his own best consultant and that he has such great instincts for all this stuff. He bragged that some unnamed people "are saying Donald Trump is a genius." But he's not a genius when it comes to operating in Washington.
Who knows what his IQ is, and to be sure that technique worked for him as a candidate. But when it comes to how the presidency works, Trump is an amateur, a bumbler and, very often, his own worst enemy.

Thursday’s hearing was just the latest proof of that. If Trump hadn’t fired Comey, or possibly if he’d just fired him in a sensible and professional manner, Comey might not have testified at all. There almost certainly wouldn’t be a special counsel in the form of another former FBI director, Robert Mueller. If Trump hadn’t violated all good sense and asked for a private session with Comey to ask (allegedly) for loyalty and for him to drop the Flynn investigation, Comey would have had little to testify about, given that he can’t talk about the Russia investigation.

According to Comey, Trump believed the Russia investigation was a “cloud” over his presidency, preventing him from making great “deals” for America. Democrats and the media, desperate to explain away Hillary Clinton’s humiliating defeat, surely deserve their fair share of blame for that cloud. But no sensible person can deny that Trump — with his obsessive tweeting and aphasic outbursts — has done almost everything he can to make that cloud thicker and darker than necessary. It’s like he had a fog machine installed next to his giant TV.

If Trump had simply focused on making great deals for America — whatever that means — rather than obsessing over the Democrat-fueled myth that he was being investigated, he wouldn’t have an approval rating in the mid-30s, and the Democrats would be on their heels. But he opted to rely on his instincts.
Remember how he bragged that he was the only man who could come in and drain the swamp? Well, now the best defense for him is that he's just new to this game and unaware of the protocol of talking to the head of the FBI conducting an investigation into his associates. Think of how many times in the campaign and since inauguration, he's shot himself in the foot through his own tweets or reckless statements. He just has no idea of the benefits of a strategic silence.

Oren Cass highlights a key weakness
of the Paris Accord on climate change.
The giveaway for the Paris charade is the refusal to set baselines. If nations are to hold one another accountable for progress on greenhouse-gas emissions, surely they must agree on a starting point from which to progress. Yet the framework for Paris pointedly omitted this requirement. Countries could calculate their own baselines however they chose, or provide none at all. Now, per Chait, the pledges have themselves become baselines, and each country receives applause or condemnation in inverse proportion to its seriousness.

Even failing on one’s commitment is acceptable, so long as the right things get said. Carbon Market Watch reports that “despite all of the fanfare that went on at the time, it seems that there are currently only three European Union countries pursuing climate policies that put them in line with the agreements made at the Paris Climate Change Talks.” Angela Merkel said that she finds the G7’s discussion of climate change “very difficult,” but not because her nation’s emissions have risen the last two years. Her difficulty arises from those ugly Americans’ unwillingness to keep up appearances.

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Joel Engel writes about the momentous events that happened on June 10-12 in 1963. I hadn't realized all these events happened so close together.
June 10, 1963, began with President John F. Kennedy’s signing the Equal Pay Act, which required that women who perform the same jobs as men earn the same as men. The following day, three Buddhist monks waded into a busy Saigon intersection. One of them, Thich Quang Duc, assumed the lotus position. The other two doused him with gasoline. He then lit himself on fire and allowed the flames to consume him.

Hours later—still June 11 in the U.S.—Gov. George Wallace stood at a University of Alabama entrance and delivered his “Schoolhouse Door” speech in an attempt to prevent two black students from integrating the school. Assistant Attorney General Nicholas Katzenbach and a contingent of federal marshals compelled Wallace to stand aside, and the students were escorted in—seven years after a court order had prohibited the public university from denying admission based on color.

That night, Kennedy addressed the nation to explain the moral imperative behind the civil-rights bill he planned to send to Congress. “Today we are committed to a world-wide struggle to promote and protect the rights of all who wish to be free,” he said, citing Berlin and Vietnam. “But are we to say to the world and, much more importantly, to each other that this is a land of the free except for the Negroes?”

The elation African-Americans and all Americans of good will felt was short-lived. Early the next morning, June 12, Medgar Evers, a 37-year-old civil-rights activist, stepped onto his Jackson, Miss., driveway and was assassinated. A white supremacist, Byron De La Beckwith, fired the fatal shot from across the street with a deer rifle.
I think one of the things we often miss when we study history is how various unrelated events interact with each other. We tend to study events linearly and I know that the textbook we use for my US History course has these events all appearing in separate sections on Kennedy's domestic agenda, the Vietnam War, and the civil rights movement so we lose sight of how these all happened so close together. This was an interesting summary of those key days in American and world history.

That is why one of my favorite sorts of history books are ones that look at the events of one year and put them all together. I'm always amazed to see how these events interact with each other. Since I also enjoy political history, I also enjoy books that focus on a single election year. Here are the year-related books that I've enjoyed reading and recommend:
1066: The Year of the Conquest by David Howarth
1688: The First Modern Revolution by Steve Pincus
1776 by David McCullough
Vienna, 1814: How the Conquerors of Napoleon Made Love, War, and Peace at the Congress of Vienna by David King
1848: Year of Revolution by Mike Rapport
America in 1857: A Nation on the Brink by Kenneth M. Stampp
Rise to Greatness: Abraham Lincoln and America's Most Perilous Year (1862) by David Von Drehle
1898: The Birth of the American Century by David Traxel
1912: Wilson, Roosevelt, Taft and Debs -The Election that Changed the Country by James Chace
Paris 1919: Six Months That Changed the World by Margaret Macmillan
1920: The Year of the Six Presidents by David Pietrusza
One Summer: America, 1927 by Bill Bryson
1939: Countdown to War by Richard Overy
1946: The Making of the Modern World by Victor Sebestyen
1948: Harry Truman's Improbable Victory and the Year that Transformed America by David Pietrusza
1956: The World in Revolt by Simon Hall
1960--LBJ vs. JFK vs. Nixon: The Epic Campaign That Forged Three Presidencies by David Pietrusza
The Eve of Destruction: How 1965 Transformed America by James T. Patterson
1968: The Year That Rocked the World by Mark Kurlansky
Reagan's Victory: The Presidential Election of 1980 and the Rise of the Right by Andrew E. Busch
The Perfect Tie: The True Story of the 2000 Presidential Election by James Ceasar
Red Over Blue: The 2004 Elections and American Politics by James Ceasar and Andrew E. Busch
When I look at that list, I'm a bit amazed at how many of these books focusing on one year I've read. When I see a new one come out, I'm a sucker for reading it. And, as my students will testify, when we cover that period in class, I like to put the book up at the front of the room for the duration in the unit in the sometimes vain hope that students will absorb just what year certain events happened.
And my co-teacher and I have assigned the following three books as summer reading for our AP Government and Politics classes:

Epic Journey: The 2008 Elections and American Politics by James Ceasar, Andrew E. Busch, and John J. Pitney
After Hope and Change: The 2012 Elections and American Politics, Post 2014 Election Update by James Ceasar, Andrew E. Busch, and John J. Pitney
The Surge: 2014's Big GOP Win and What It Means for the Next Presidential Election edited by Larry Sabato
Defying the Odds: The 2016 Elections and American Politics by James Ceasar, Andrew E. Busch, and John J. Pitney
Since my students are mostly 10th graders, many of them probably didn't pay much attention to the daily ins and outs of the campaign and the Ceasar, Busch, and Pitney series offer a neutral summary of what went on during the election without much editorial comment. The students are then ready to discuss a lot of the themes of the course such as the role of parties, interest groups, the media, the internet, etc. in elections. It was rather dreary having to read a book about the 2016 election and relive all that craziness in order to prepare the students' summer assignment. It certainly isn't an edifying story. And I was struck once again at how none of those events were inevitable. I was struck again at the role of contingency in history, something no one who studies history should ever lose sight of.

And thank you once again to those of you who use my Amazon links when you make a purchase there. These are the sorts of books I've been purchasing with the commission Amazon gives for using those links.

And for all the haters out there, enjoy this picture: