Andrew C. McCarthy provides pretty convincing evidence that the Obama Administration (and holdovers) wrongly use its law enforcement and counterintelligence powers to cripple Donald Trump, both as a candidate and later as president. I'll just quote the conclusion -- follow the link for a summary of the evidence.

The Obama administration and the FBI knew that it was they who were meddling in a presidential campaign -- using executive intelligence powers to monitor the president's political opposition. This, they also knew, would rightly be regarded as a scandalous abuse of power if it ever became public. There was no rational or good-faith evidentiary basis to believe that Trump was in a criminal conspiracy with the Kremlin or that he'd had any role in Russian intelligence's suspected hacking of Democratic Party email accounts.

You didn't have to believe Trump was a savory man to know that. His top advisers were Flynn, a decorated combat veteran; Christie, a former U.S. attorney who vigorously investigated national-security cases; Rudy Giuliani, a legendary former U.S. attorney and New York City mayor who'd rallied the country against anti-American terrorism; and Jeff Sessions, a longtime U.S. senator with a strong national-defense track record. To believe Trump was unfit for the presidency on temperamental or policy grounds was a perfectly reasonable position for Obama officials to take -- though an irrelevant one, since it's up to the voters to decide who is suitable. But to claim to suspect that Trump was in a cyberespionage conspiracy with the Kremlin was inane . . . except as a subterfuge to conduct political spying, which Obama officials well knew was an abuse of power.

So they concealed it. They structured the investigation on the fiction that there was a principled distinction between Trump himself and the Trump campaign. In truth, the animating assumption of the probe was that Trump himself was acting on Russia's behalf, either willfully or under the duress of blackmail. By purporting to focus on the campaign, investigators had the fig leaf of deniability they needed to monitor the candidate.

You don't have to like or support Trump to be outraged by this illegal and immoral activity.


In the aftermath of the explosion in Beirut (video) we must send material aid, but we also must pray for the people and the city. Pray that the wounded would receive the medical care they need, and that the families of the dead will find comfort. Pray that the leaders of the country and city will have wisdom and humility. Pray that the city will have peace and security. Pray that God's love will shine brightly through people even in this tragedy.


Kanye West explains why he's pro-life.

West said he was still living the "rapper's lifestyle" when Kardashian found out she was pregnant with baby North, the couple's eldest child. The musical talent-turned-politico admitted that he did not want the baby, but Kardashian stood up and said she was going to have the child, for which West offered his wife immense praise.

"She brought North into the world, even when I didn't want to," he said. "She stood up and she protected that child."

West likened Kardashian saving baby North to his late mother saving his life from abortion some 43 years ago.

"And she said I'm pregnant," West recalled Kardashian finding out she was with child, adding that she was crying when she left the doctor's office.

"I was living the rapper's lifestyle," West disclosed.

"For one month, and two months, and three months, we talked about her not having this child," he said. "She had the (abortion) pills in her hand. You know those pills, where you take the pills and it's a wrap, the baby's gone."

"I'm in the apartment in Paris," West continued, "and I have my laptop up, and I have all my creative ideas ... and the screen went black and white. And God said, if you f*** with my vision, I'm gonna f*** with yours." ...

"You know who else protected a child?" he asked the crowd. "Forty-three years ago, who do you think protected a child?"

"My mom," he said. "My mom saved my life."

Earlier this month, West told Forbes that he is "pro-life because I'm following the word of the Bible."


Are primordial black holes common in the universe? It doesn't seem like it.

What would a universe flooded with primordial black holes look like? That's the million-dollar question, which we need to answer if we want to test this hypothesis.

For one thing, the black holes may randomly crash into other things, gravitationally attract other things, and just generally cause mayhem. Kilogram-mass black holes hitting the Earth could trigger earthquakes. A silent black hole may pull apart binary pairs of stars or disrupt entire dwarf galaxies. A black hole ramming into a neutron star could ignite a terrible explosion. Even the hypothetical Planet Nine could be a black hole no bigger than a tennis ball. ...

Alas, despite all our attempts, we cannot reconcile the existence of primordial black holes with the universe that we see. For every possible observational avenue, the primordial black holes cause so much mayhem that it would be noticeable to us.

In other words, as difficult as it is to explain the masses of the merging black holes that LIGO witnessed, if you want a universe with those black holes to be primordial, it would be detectable in other ways.

Ok, may as well quote from the "Planet nine black hole" story also, even though Pluto is already planet #9. I guess the Space.com folks got confused and meant planet ten.

Over the past few years, researchers have noticed an odd clustering in the orbits of multiple trans-Neptunian objects (TNOs), which dwell in the dark depths of the far outer solar system. Some scientists have hypothesized that the TNOs' paths have been sculpted by the gravitational pull of a big object way out there, something five to 10 times more massive than Earth (though others think the TNOs may just be tugging on each other).

This big "perturber," if it exists, may be a planet -- the so-called "Planet Nine," or "Planet X" or "Planet Next" for those who will always regard Pluto as the ninth planet. But there's another possibility as well: The shepherding object may be a black hole, one that crams all that mass into a sphere the size of a grapefruit.

I sure hope there's a tiny black hole in our solar system -- that's practically the only way we humans would ever have a chance to examine one up close.


Thomas L. Friedman suggests that Joe Biden should put conditions on the Presidential debates in an attempt to constrain Trump.

First, Biden should declare that he will take part in a debate only if Trump releases his tax returns for 2016 through 2018. Biden has already done so, and they are on his website. Trump must, too. No more gifting Trump something he can attack while hiding his own questionable finances.

And second, Biden should insist that a real-time fact-checking team approved by both candidates be hired by the nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates -- and that 10 minutes before the scheduled conclusion of the debate this team report on any misleading statements, phony numbers or outright lies either candidate had uttered. That way no one in that massive television audience can go away easily misled. ...

He should not go into such a high-stakes moment ceding any advantages to Trump. Trump is badly trailing in the polls, and he needs these debates much more than Biden does to win over undecided voters. So Biden needs to make Trump pay for them in the currency of transparency and fact-checking -- universal principles that will level the playing field for him and illuminate and enrich the debates for all citizens.

But what prevents Trump from pushing for similar conditions? Would Biden be willing to publicly undergo a test of his mental competence?

It's not obvious to me that refusing to debate would turn out to Biden's advantage.


I'm not on Twitter much, and from what I see most social media seems to be pretty toxic for its users. Still, social media is ubiquitous, so you'd be forgiven for thinking that Twitter is essential for any media personality... but apparently not. Tucker Carlson is dominating cable news despite his meager use of Twitter (or because of it?).

As was the case in total viewership, Fox News led by Carlson, dwarfed the competition in the 25-54 demo.
  1. Tucker Carlson Tonight (791,000), Fox News
  2. Hannity (754,000), Fox News
  3. Special Report (668,00), Fox News
  4. The Five (655,000), Fox News
  5. The Ingraham Angle (655,000), Fox News
  6. The Story (603,000), Fox News
  7. Cuomo Prime Time (587,000), CNN
  8. Anderson Cooper 360 (568,000), CNN
  9. CNN Tonight (524,000), CNN
  10. Erin Burnett OutFront (502,00), CNN

For some context, Carlson's average is more than what sports shows, which tend to have a younger audience, draw in total viewership. ...

Executives are led to believe that the two demographics are highly influenced by Twitter and other social media platforms. Carlson, the media's biggest star, provided a brutal counterpunch to that belief.

Carlson tweets once or twice a week. He sent just one tweet in the entire month of April, a month he dominated the competition in. He excels absent of the microphone his competition views as a necessity to capture the demographics he just won.

What's more, when advertisers succumb to demands to boycott Carlson they're leaving money on the table.

Carlson is the antithesis of what the vast majority of media is today. He's the threat they warn you about. He's recently been under more fire for his stance on Black Lives Matter and the nationwide riots. Hopefully, by this point in the column, you'll know you can guess the results.

You guessed it, decision-makers, again, listened like cowards. Executives at Disney, T-Mobile, Papa Johns, and SmileDirectClub took the demands and pulled their advertisements from his show. The viewers, who the companies advertise for, did the opposite. Viewers of all ages flocked to him in record-setting numbers.


Many states have majorities of conservative citizens and legislatures who are getting tired of funding public universities who often seem to despise conservative people and values. In an ideal world universities would be responsible enough to avoid ideological possession, but we don't live in an ideal world and legislatures are moving to oversee their state university systems more closely.

[Patrick Garry, University of South Dakota law professor] concludes that "political indoctrination is not a legitimate academic function and hence is undeserving of special constitutional protection. ... [Campuses] have, in a way, become like the southern states under the Voting Rights Act. Those states were put under judicial supervision to make sure that voting rights were respected in those states," Garry concludes. "Perhaps, as the South Dakota Legislature has recognized, universities may now have to be put under a kind of formalized public review process regarding their actions concerning free speech and academic freedom." ...

Sue Peterson, one of the state representatives who sponsored the bill, told RealClearInvestigations the Board of Regents' lack of progress over such a long period of time left the legislature no choice but to act. "They did make some policy changes between 2018 and 2019 that were positive," she said. "We still felt certain changes needed to be in statute because policies can change." South Dakota Rep. Tina Mulally was even blunter. "I don't believe the Board of Regents has been responsive to the taxpayers for decades," she told the Chronicle of Higher Education. "I tried to have conversations with them when I became a representative, and I got the impression that they didn't want to talk to me."

The motivations for reining in campus radicalism aren't just ideological. Legislators say radicalism is making their schools less attractive to prospective students. The University of Missouri, in one of the states currently considering intellectual diversity legislation, was rocked by violent protests in 2015 that caused such a steep enrollment drop that the university closed four dormitories, saw its credit rating downgraded, and created a budget shortfall of $32 million.

Political oversight of public universities is an unfortunate necessity, but I encourage legislatures to use a light touch.


I like Charles Lipson's idea: "Defund the thought police".

Dissent from their approved views is not just considered an error, much less an innocent one. It is considered immoral, illegitimate, and unworthy of a public hearing. Although both left and right have moved steadily toward this abyss, the worst excesses today come from the left, just as they came from the right in the 1950s. Opponents are seen in religious terms, as dangerous apostates who deserve to be burned at the stake, at least symbolically. You never expect the Spanish Inquisition. Yet here it is. That is the powerful iconography behind torching police cars and neighborhood stores.

Anyone who doesn't support free speech is probably just afraid they'll lose the debate.


In March Anthony Fauci and other health experts told the public not to wear masks to protect ourselves from COVID-19:

"You can increase your risk of getting it by wearing a mask if you are not a health care provider," Surgeon General Jerome Adams said during an appearance on "Fox & Friends" earlier this month.

"If it's not fitted right you're going to fumble with it," warned Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar late last month, when asked about N95 respirator masks.

"Right now, in the United States, people should not be walking around with masks," said Dr. Anthony Fauci, an immunologist and a public face of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, on CBS' "60 Minutes" earlier this month. He, like the others, suggested that masks could put users at risk by causing them to touch their face more often.

Apparently they were intentionally lying to us. Now we're told:

"Masks are not 100 percent protective. However, they certainly are better than not wearing a mask. Both to prevent you, if you happen to be a person who maybe feels well, but has an asymptomatic infection that you don't even know about, to prevent you from infecting someone else," Fauci said.

"But also, it can protect you a certain degree, not a hundred percent, in protecting you from getting infected from someone who, either is breathing, or coughing, or sneezing, or singing or whatever it is in which the droplets or the aerosols go out. So masks work," Fauci added.

Why did they lie?

[Fauci] also acknowledged that masks were initially not recommended to the general public so that first responders wouldn't feel the strain of a shortage of PPE.

That's still a lie. Masks weren't "not recommended" -- experts recommended against wearing masks.

Remember this whenever you consider giving the government more power over anything.


I'm surprised but pleased to see that Facebook is resisting pressure from Joe Biden to "fact-check" political statements.

We live in a democracy, where the elected officials decide the rules around campaigns. Two weeks ago the President of the United States issued an executive order directing Federal agencies to prevent social media sites from engaging in activities like fact-checking political statements. This week, the Democratic candidate for President started a petition calling on us to do the exact opposite. Just as they have done with broadcast networks -- where the US government prohibits rejecting politicians' campaign ads -- the people's elected representatives should set the rules, and we will follow them. There is an election coming in November and we will protect political speech, even when we strongly disagree with it.


Joel Kotkin is one of my favorite writers on city and class issues, and his "The Rebellion of America's New Underclass" is worth reading in full. I want to highlight one element that I think is critical for understanding the psychology and politics of the Millennial generation. Kotkin certainly makes this point in his essay, but I want to connect the dots in a different order than he does.

Near the end of his essay he calls out Millennials for not respecting America's founding principles:

Not surprisingly, then, Millennials tend to support massive government programs as a way to address social and economic problems by wide margins. A poll conducted by the Communism Memorial Foundation in 2016 found that 44% of American Millennials favored socialism while 14% chose fascism or Communism.

Perhaps because they no longer respect the basic founding principles, Millennials are also far more likely than their elders to accept limits on freedom of speech. Some 40% of Millennials, notes the Pew Research Center, favor suppressing speech deemed offensive to minorities--well above the 27% among Gen Xers, 24% among baby boomers, and only 12% among the oldest cohorts, many of whom remember the fascist and Communist regimes of the past.

Many people recognize this sentiment in the Millennial generation and attribute it to ungratefulness and poor character, but earlier in the essay Kotkin points to a remarkable fact:

America's economic regression is best understood in generational terms. About 90% of those born in 1940 grew up to earn higher incomes than their parents, according to researchers at the Equality of Opportunity Project. The same is true for only 50% of those born in the 1980s.

A Deloitte study projects that Millennials in the United States will hold barely 16% of the nation's wealth in 2030, when they will be the largest adult generation by far. Gen Xers, the preceding generation, will hold 31%, while Boomers, entering their eighties and nineties, will still control 45% of the nation's wealth.

The reason Millennials are angry is because America's promise of upward mobility has been broken. I was sure that George W. Bush would be America's last Baby Boomer president, but even now in 2016 no one but Boomers got close to the nomination for either party. The Boomers' grip on power is strangling their children and grandchildren.

Millennials are foolish to clamor for socialism, but can you blame them? They're badly educated and inarticulate -- again, thanks to political correctness foisted onto them by Boomers -- but their grievances are real.


On Monday the media almost universally reported that police in Washington DC used tear gas on peaceful protesters to clear a path for Trump to visit St. John's Episcopal Church. But now it's clear that no tear gas was deployed and the protesters weren't peaceful.

Facts were no barrier to their narrative. They spun a tale of violent, jack-booted cops running rampant through the streets over innocent docile protesters, using tear gas to clear the area. It turns out none of that was true.

Every single major media outlet falsely reported that Park Police were unprovoked when they used "tear gas" to clear the area. If any of that were true, it might mark the first time in history that cops without gas masks launched tear gas in an area that the president of the United States easily walked through minutes later.

After thousands of false tweets, print stories, and broadcast stories to the contrary, local journalist Neal Augenstein of WTOP reported that a Park Police source said "tear gas was never used -- instead smoke canisters were deployed, which don't have an uncomfortable irritant in them." Further, the source said the crowd was dispersed because of projectiles being thrown by the "peaceful protesters" at the Park Police and because "peaceful protesters" had climbed on top of a structure in Lafayette Park that had been burned the prior night.


I'm not really sure what I have to add to the current news-cycle.

  • The killing of George Floyd by the police was horrible and should be prosecuted.
  • Peaceful protesting is good and useful to bring attention to legitimate grievances and to promote positive change.
  • Rioting, looting, and burning is disgraceful and should be prosecuted.
  • Civil disorder is the kind of thing that makes people long for an authoritarian to restore order. If you want more and worse Trump, this is how you get it.

It seems like political agitators of various stripes -- but primarily left-wing self-described anti-fascists Antifa -- are using the terrible killing of George Floyd to foment violence to undermine Trump and provoke him to an authoritarian overreaction. I don't think this move will play out well for the Left because it undermines the class realignment that has been happening since the 2016 campaign and Trump's election. The nature of that realignment has been that suburban white women have begun to align with the globalist class, and working-class white men have begun to align with the small-c conservative cohort. The rioting and violence threaten to undermine the leftward movement of white suburban women, which could leave the Left without a dance partner.


I'm a frequent skeptic of my home-state of California and no fan of its left-wing leadership, but Governor Gavin Newsom and San Francisco Mayor London Breed seem to have constrained the impact of the coronavirus in their state far better than leaders in New York.

New York's emergence as the epicenter of the coronavirus was far from inevitable. A report from the left-leaning site ProPublica contrasted New York City's and New York State's responses with those of San Francisco and California. While people do not live on top of one another in San Francisco to the same degree that they do in the Big Apple, the actions of de Blasio and Cuomo strike a marked contrast with those of Mayor London Breed (D-San Francisco) and Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-Calif.). ...

ProPublica noted that there had been nearly 350,000 coronavirus cases in New York and more than 27,500 deaths on May 15. The true story is worse, as the majority of coronavirus cases across the U.S. trace back to Gotham. In California, by contrast, there were just under 75,000 cases and slightly more than 3,000 deaths. In New York City, there had been almost 20,000 deaths. In San Francisco, there had been 35.

Many factors contribute to this difference, but the quick leadership of Breed and Newsom strongly contrasts with the failures of de Blasio and Cuomo.

California isn't as dense as New York City, but Newsom and Breed made the right decisions much earlier than Cuomo and de Blasio did -- when there were fewer infections and less obvious evidence.

This pandemic is a perfect example of why it's so important to pray for our leaders, whether or not we agree with their political positions.

1 Timothy 2:1-3

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...


As a software engineer who has worked in academia and industry, it's no surprise to me at all that the Imperial College coronavirus pandemic model is full of errors. Making computer models is extremely difficult, and just because you're an expert in epidemiology doesn't mean that you'll be able to build a functional epidemiological computer model. Computer modeling is a specialization of its own, not an add-on to other sets of expertise. And it's not just about individual expertise: institutional expertise is at least as important.

Processes not people. This is important: the problem here is not really the individuals working on the model. The people in the Imperial team would quickly do a lot better if placed in the context of a well run software company. The problem is the lack of institutional controls and processes. All programmers have written buggy code they aren't proud of: the difference between ICL and the software industry is the latter has processes to detect and prevent mistakes.

For standards to improve academics must lose the mentality that the rules don't apply to them. In a formal petition to ICL to retract papers based on the model you can see comments "explaining" that scientists don't need to unit test their code, that criticising them will just cause them to avoid peer review in future, and other entirely unacceptable positions. Eventually a modeller from the private sector gives them a reality check. In particular academics shouldn't have to be convinced to open their code to scrutiny; it should be a mandatory part of grant funding.

Frankly, I wouldn't trust any modeler who isn't risking their own money on the accuracy of their model.


Andrew C. McCarthy's analysis of the latest revelations in the prosecution of Michael Flynn is not surprising given our understanding of the shady Mueller investigation, but I sincerely hope that the corrupt practices described aren't common in the American justice system. McCarthy himself is a former federal prosecutor, and he seems appalled by what he sees.

Powell and other champions of Flynn's cause have long claimed he did not lie to investigators -- a claim supported by the interviewing FBI agents, who concluded that Flynn had not made intentional misstatements, just failures of recollection, which are common. Instead, they maintain that Flynn was coerced into pleading guilty nearly a year later by special counsel Robert Mueller's team of hyper-aggressive prosecutors. Prosecutors did this, Powell argues, by threatening that if he refused to plead, they would prosecute his son. The son, also named Michael Flynn, worked in Gen. Flynn's private intelligence firm, which Team Mueller was scrutinizing over its alleged failure to register with the government as a foreign agent -- a dubious allegation that was rarely handled as a criminal offense before Mueller's probe.

After DOJ's revelations last Friday, Powell filed a submission with the court, asserting that the new disclosures demonstrate that Mueller's prosecutors not only pressured Flynn with the possibility of indicting his son; they also secretly assured Flynn's former counsel, the well-connected Washington firm of Covington & Burling (C&B), that Flynn's son would not be prosecuted if Flynn pleaded guilty. This "side deal" (a) was not explicitly memorialized in the formal plea agreement, (b) was not otherwise disclosed to the court as federal law requires, and (c) was designed to enable prosecutors to evade their due process obligations in future cases.

Basically, it sounds to me that the DOJ lawyers and Flynn's lawyers conspired to hide the true details of Flynn's plea agreement from the court because the prosecutors thought the details would embarrass them and weaken Flynn as a witness against other targets. Hiding these details from the court is illegal, but it's also super-shady to coerce a guilty plea by threatening a target's son with prosecution.


Gandalf117 has created the most complete that I've ever seen family tree of Tolkien's Middle-Earth. Don't open it if you don't have a day to waste invest.


Wesley J. Smith makes the cogent point that we seem to be forgetting the purpose of the shutdowns:

The point of the national economic shutdown seems to have shifted in Cuomo's mind. The purpose of mitigation, to use Dr. Fauci's terminology, was to "flatten the curve" -- meaning reduce the number of people seriously ill at any given time and have people's illnesses spread over a longer period -- to prevent medical resources from being overwhelmed as happened in Northern Italy. That goal may have been accomplished, which is why President Trump is encouraging a phased restart of the economy.

But it seems that Cuomo now believes the point of keeping everyone at home is for nobody to get sick. That's impossible, particularly with a virus this communicable and one that is going to be with us for some time even if researchers successfully create a vaccine, which is no sure thing.



Hospitals seem to have plenty of spare capacity across most of America.

Tens of thousands of health care workers across the United States are going without pay today, even as providers in the nation's hot spots struggle to contain the coronavirus pandemic

This "tale of two hospitals" is a function of clumsy, if well-intentioned, federal and state directives to halt all non-emergency procedures, which appeared at first blush to be a reasonable precaution to limit unnecessary exposure and safeguard staff, beds and equipment.

But instead of merely preserving hospital beds and other resources, this heavy-handed injunction has created a burden of its own design: a historic number of empty beds in systems left untouched by the pandemic.

The curve is flat in America, except for New York; asymptomatic COVID-19 infections appear to be more widespread than previously thought.

Based on results of the first round of testing, the research team estimates that approximately 4.1% of the county's adult population has antibody to the virus. Adjusting this estimate for statistical margin of error implies about 2.8% to 5.6% of the county's adult population has antibody to the virus- which translates to approximately 221,000 to 442,000 adults in the county who have had the infection. That estimate is 28 to 55 times higher than the 7,994 confirmed cases of COVID-19 reported to the county by the time of the study in early April. *** The number of COVID-related deaths in the county has now surpassed 600.

This is great news because it equates to a fatality rate in a range between .0014 and .0027. Standard seasonal flu viruses typically have a fatality rate around .001.

Seems like the shutdowns have mostly succeeded, and we can begin loosening the restrictions. We can't "return to normal" yet, but we can probably get by in most of America by isolating the vulnerable population and letting others take appropriate precautions and get back to work.


A proposed law would allow American victims of Wuhan coronavirus to sue the Chinese Communist Party for damages.

Americans will be able to take the Chinese Communist Party to court for its lies and omissions about the Chinese Wuhan coronavirus from the Middle Kingdom under a new bill proposed by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas). The bill would strike down immunity for foreign countries like China in the specific case of the coronavirus, enabling Americans to sue for damages in U.S. courts.

"By silencing doctors and journalists who tried to warn the world about the coronavirus, the Chinese Communist Party allowed the virus to spread quickly around the globe," Cotton said in a statement on the legislation. "Their decision to cover up the virus led to thousands of needless deaths and untold economic harm. It's only appropriate that we hold the Chinese government accountable for the damage it has caused."

The immediate question then is: if plaintiffs win, how could they collect payment from the CCP? The CCP has plenty of assets in America that could be seized -- particularly real estate, which could be harvested at a premium (low) valuation thanks to the coronavirus -- but here's another idea: China owns about $1.1 trillion in American debt that could be transferred and repatriated to victorious plaintiffs.

If the United States moves forward with any kind of legal liability for the CCP it's likely to provoke retaliatory seizures of America assets in China.

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