PowerLine -> More darkness at the Washington Post
PowerLine -> More darkness at the Washington Post
- More darkness at the Washington Post
- New Study Explodes Common Air Pollution Claims
- Why Are Liberals Always So Upset?
- Should Trump fire Mueller, Part Four
- New York Times Hits a New Low
|More darkness at the Washington Post
Posted: 15 Jun 2017 04:34 PM PDT
I wrote here about a Washington Post story by Philip Rucker regarding whether President Trump will fire Robert Mueller. I found the Rucker’s piece intellectually dishonest because he never identified the main argument being advanced by those who advocate firing Mueller — namely a possible conflict of interest due to Mueller’s close relationship with James Comey, who likely would be the key witness in any case of “obstruction of justice” and might even become a target of the investigation due to his leaking.
Post columnist David Ignatius makes essentially the same omission in a column arguing that “firing Mueller would be disastrous.” Ignatius mentions the possibility of a conflict of interest, but dismisses it “because the Justice Department’s ethics office has already decided that Mueller doesn’t have a conflict resulting from his law firm’s representation of Trump family members.”
Ignatius is indulging in ignorance of what is stake. The conflict argument isn’t based on work performed by Mueller’s law firm. It’s based on Mueller’s personal relationship with Comey.
The Washington Post editorial page, where darkness has not quite descended, acknowledges this. It thereby highlights, albeit inadvertently, the intellectual dishonesty of Rucker and Iganatius.
I don’t see how Mueller could so “insulate” the obstruction probe, given his own closeness with Comey and the partisanship of his key advisers. But at least the Post’s editors are willing to engage the issue.
Rucker and Ignatius, by contrast, want to keep Post readers in the dark. Unfortunately, their approach seems prevalent at the Post these days.
|New Study Explodes Common Air Pollution Claims
Posted: 15 Jun 2017 03:43 PM PDT
Ten years ago in Air Quality in America: A Dose of Reality on Air Pollution Levels, Trends, and Health Risks, Joel Schwartz and I wrote this:
Well, you can imagine how this was received. The American Lung Association went as far as to ban us from their annual press conference for their egregiously sensational “State of the Air” report that year. They knew we were going to embarrass them.
Well, well. Just out two days ago in Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology:
This isn’t the first such academic study to reach this conclusion. I am certain environmentalists and regulators will continue to ignore findings like this.
|Why Are Liberals Always So Upset?
Posted: 15 Jun 2017 09:41 AM PDT
Yesterday on our VIP live webcast, we talked briefly about the sources of Trump Derangement Syndrome (TDS), which I argue predates Trump and would likely be present if any other Republican, even mild-mannered Jeb Bush, were in the White House right now. TDS has its roots in the lazy presumption that liberalism represents “the side of history,” as though “History” is a self-conscious thing with only one direction. This presumption is, in fact, a secular version of divine Providence. Hence for liberals, when they lose elections, the fault is not theirs or their candidate’s but represents some kind of ghastly mistake if not a fraud against history. Cue up Russians, dirty tricks, hanging chads, whatever. A large portion of the left has not accepted the legitimacy of each Republican president starting with Nixon.
If you want to see this at work, I refer you to a book out in March from Ruy Tiexeira of the Center for American Progress, The Optimistic Left: Why the 21st Century Will Be Better Than You Think. I’ve met Ruy a couple of times, and unlike many people on the left, he is a pleasant human being to know. In fact, we once had a long lunch discussing some ideas for a conference we might do together, but both got too busy to follow up. I think Ruy is on to something in this book, namely, that liberalism became a dark and pessimistic creed starting in the 1960s and 1970s, and that this has been debilitating to liberalism. His publisher sent me the advance galleys of the book last fall, which I put in my reading stack and didn’t get back to, until I saw Damon Linker of The Week take after Teixeria in a recent column, saying that “Because his optimism inspires such complacency, Teixeira is a dangerous man for Democrats to have around.”
Well now. I decided to pick up the galleys and have a look. And while I think much of the book is credible even if mistaken on policy, there were two early sentences that brought me up short, starting with this one on page 1: “. . . Democrats have won three straight presidential elections. . .” Wait, what the hell is he talking about? Is he talking about FDR in 1940? I thought this book was about current times.
Then, page 3: “Barack Obama’s two presidential victories were followed by routs in the Congressional elections of 2010 and 2014, and new President Hillary Clinton. . .” (Emphasis added.) Ah—now I get it. Of course books have to be written with long lead times and anticipate events to some extent, but if you’re a liberal and you think History is on your side, and you believe the polls (I did) that Hillary was a lock to beat Donald Trump, then the comedown after losing to Donald Trump must be the psychic equivalent to withdrawals after you run out of heroin.
Once upon a time, liberals like John Stuart Mill understood that the progress of civilization was not necessarily an irreversible process, and today’s left is doing it’s best to prove Mill was right.
|Should Trump fire Mueller, Part Four
Posted: 15 Jun 2017 09:11 AM PDT
As Scott noted this morning, the Washington Post reports that the “special counsel’s” investigation has widened to include an examination of whether President Trump attempted to obstruct justice. There’s a good chance that the report is based on leaks from Mueller’s team.
Whatever the source of the leaks, the purpose seems obvious — to make it more politically costly for Trump to fire Mueller. If he sacked Mueller, Trump could no longer say, as he did when he sacked Comey, that he’s not a target of the investigation.
If any of the leaks come from Mueller’s team, as seems likely, this would confirm that he’s just another Washington “power player” — a “very DC animal,” as one source told me — like his good friend Jim Comey. I’ve always doubted the notion that Mueller is an above reproach, agenda-less, play it, straight guy. Indeed, I’m not sure that specimen exists in Washington.
In any event, now that we know Mueller is investigating Trump for obstruction of justice, the conflict of interest arising from his close relationship with Comey becomes acuter. As I’ve argued before, Comey will surely be at the heart of any investigation of alleged obstruction by the president. I question whether Mueller can fairly investigate claims in which his friend figures so centrally. I’m certain he cannot do so without at least the appearance of partiality.
Andy McCarthy argues that “too much is made of Mueller’s being pals with Jim Comey.” But the two are more than just pals who enjoy a “cordial relationship” (as Andy puts it). They were comrades-in-arms during the events that made Comey’s career — the showdown with the Bush administration over reauthorizing a key surveillance program. And Comey’s gushing testimony about Mueller evinces a warm and deep relationship.
McCarthy says it’s unlikely that Comey will be a witness in Mueller’s probe and, if he becomes one, “we can trust Mueller at that point to apply the relevant ethical rules and decide. .whether his recusal is required to avoid the appearance of impropriety.”
Yesterday, when McCarthy published this, there was no indication that Mueller is investigating the president for obstruction of justice. Now, if the Post’s report is correct, we know that Mueller is. This places Comey front-and-center, not because his testimony makes out a legitimate case of obstruction in what Comey has alleged, but because it almost certainly is part of the basis for the case of obstruction — legitimate or not — that is being investigated.
In my view, then, we are at the point where Mueller must decide whether his recusal is required to avoid the appearance of impropriety. He may already have decided that recusal is not required.
I don’t trust him to make the right decision. His interest, I suspect, is in remaining the ultimate non-elected Washington power player. In addition, it’s hard to imagine him telling his recently-assembled dream team, “sorry folks, I’m done here.”
We frequently hear that if President Trump were to fire Mueller, it would trigger a “constitutional crisis.” Maybe. For sure, Trump’s enemies would say so.
But suppose in a year or two (or maybe during the 2020 election season), Mueller decides — based on the work and recommendations of leftists like Michael Dreeben and Clintonistas like Jeannie Rhee — to find that the president of the United States obstructed justice, thereby triggering impeachment. Might not that create a constitutional crisis?
Trump’s enemies would call it a vindication of the Constitution, not a crisis. But many others would regard it as something like an attempted coup.
In our fractured polity, there is no consensus about what amounts to a constitutional crisis (or perhaps even whether there’s anything wrong with one). It’s always a question of whose ox is gored.
For Trump, the Mueller question comes down to take the pain now or (very possibly) take pain later. The the pain Trump would take now for firing Mueller is certain. If he doesn’t fire Mueller, he might not take pain later, but if he does, the pain will be more severe.
|New York Times Hits a New Low
Posted: 15 Jun 2017 08:14 AM PDT
Naturally, the New York Times shows up this morning with an editorial entitled “America’s Lethal Politics,” which includes the following:
That’s because there was no connection between political rhetoric or the “targets” on Sarah Palin’s PAC map and the Giffords shooting. The shooter, Jared Loughner, was a mentally deranged person whose politics, if he could be said to have had any at all, were distinctly left wing. But the Times can’t help itself.
In fact, the original version of this editorial did not have that last sentence saying that “no connection” had been established. They hastily appended a correction:
If the Times had any decency they’d retract the whole editorial. But I wonder if the Times editorial page hasn’t just decided to give up trying to be serious at all, and is now joining the trolling brigades.