Making sense of Russia, uranium and Hillary Clinton

“Multiple current and former government officials told the Hill they did not know whether the FBI or [Justice Department] ever alerted committee members to the criminal activity they uncovered,”

.. This is a key point. In response to the Hill’s report, the Senate Judiciary Committee has asked the agencies that signed off on the deal to disclose what, if anything, they knew about the FBI’s investigation. If it were to turn out that Clinton and others were aware of the FBI’s findings — and ignored them — that could be difficult to explain.

.. The FBI investigation was still four years from completion at the time that the uranium deal was approved.

.. Ronald Hosko, who served as the assistant FBI director in charge of criminal cases when the investigation was underway, told the Hill he did not recall ever being briefed about Mikerin’s case by the counterintelligence side of the bureau, despite the criminal charges that were being lodged.

“I had no idea this case was being conducted,” a surprised Hosko said in an interview.

Likewise, major congressional figures were also kept in the dark.

Former Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), who chaired the House Intelligence Committee during the time the FBI probe was being conducted, told the Hill that he had never been told anything about the Russian nuclear corruption case, even though many fellow lawmakers had serious concerns about the Obama administration’s approval of the Uranium One deal.

.. If people like Hosko and Rogers did not know about the FBI’s investigation, then Clinton probably didn’t, either.

.. The New York Times reported in 2015 that “as the Russians gradually assumed control of Uranium One in three separate transactions from 2009 to 2013, Canadian records show, a flow of cash made its way to the Clinton Foundation.”It is virtually impossible to view these donations as anything other than an attempt to curry favor with Clinton. Donations alone do not, however, prove that Clinton was actually influenced by money to vote in favor of the Uranium One sale — or to overlook the FBI investigation. Again, there is no evidence that she even knew about the investigation.

.. Similarly, it is virtually impossible to view foreign dignitaries’ habit of lodging at Trump’s Washington hotel as anything other than an attempt to curry favor with the president. Reservations and room service alone do not, however, prove that Trump’s foreign policy is actually influenced by money.

Tarantino on Weinstein: ‘I Knew Enough to Do More Than I Did’

“I knew enough to do more than I did,” he said, citing several episodes involving prominent actresses. “There was more to it than just the normal rumors, the normal gossip. It wasn’t secondhand. I knew he did a couple of these things.”

“I wish I had taken responsibility for what I heard,” he added. “If I had done the work I should have done then, I would have had to not work with him.”

.. His own former girlfriend, Mira Sorvino, told him about unwelcome advances and unwanted touching by Mr. Weinstein. Another actress told him a similarly upsetting story years later. He also knew that the actress Rose McGowan had reached a settlement with the producer.

.. But Mr. Tarantino said he had failed to consider whether the women he knew were part of a larger pattern of abuse.

.. When he and Ms. Sorvino started dating in 1995, she told him that not long before, Mr. Weinstein had massaged her without asking, chased her around a hotel room and even showed up at her apartment in the middle of the night, a story she recently shared with The New Yorker.

.. But the thing I thought then, at the time, was that he was particularly hung up on Mira.” She had won accolades for her performance in “Mighty Aphrodite,” and “I thought Harvey was hung up on her in this Svengali kind of way,” Mr. Tarantino said. “Because he was infatuated with her, he horribly crossed the line.”

.. Hollywood has been “operating under an almost Jim Crow-like system that us males have almost tolerated,” he said. “We allowed it to exist because that’s the way it was.”

.. Don’t just give out statements. Acknowledge that there was something rotten in Denmark. Vow to do better by our sisters.”

The President’s Self-Destructive Disruption

his repeated use of the word “fake” to describe news coverage when he actually means “unpleasant” and his style of rhetoric in front of the United Nations, where he called terrorists “losers” and applied a childish epithet to the head of a nation in whose shadow tens of thousands of American troops serve and with whom nuclear war is a live possibility, are all cases in point. There is no way to formalize conventions of maturity and dignity for presidents. Custom fills that void.

.. When he violates such customs, Mr. Trump is at his most impulsive and self-destructive. It may sound ridiculous to invoke James Madison or Edmund Burke when we talk about this president, but that is part of the problem. Mr. Trump could profit from the wisdom of his predecessor Madison, for whom the very essence of constitutionalism lay not in what he derided as “parchment barriers” — mere written commands there was no will to follow — but rather “that veneration which time bestows on every thing.” The Constitution, in other words, would be only as strong as the tradition of respecting it.

.. Burke is generally seen as the progenitor of modern conservatism, but Mr. Trump, who came late to the conservative cause, is said to be so hostile to custom that his staff knows the best way to get him to do something is to tell him it violates tradition.
.. demagogic campaign rallies masked as presidential addresses
.. because many elements of his base associate these customs with failed politics, every violation reinforces the sense that he sides with them over a corrupt establishment.
.. Historically, conservatism has tended to value light governance, for which custom is even more essential. Aristotle writes that “when men are friends they have no need of justice.” In other words, rules enter where informal mechanisms of society have collapsed. The philosopher and statesman Charles Frankel summed it up powerfully: “Politics is a substitute for custom. It becomes conspicuous whenever and wherever custom recedes or breaks down.”
.. Since Woodrow Wilson’s critique of the framers’ work, progressive legal theory has generally denied that the meaning of the original Constitution, as endorsed by generational assent, wields authority because it is customary. Much of libertarian theory elevates contemporary reason — the rationality of the immediate — above all else.

.. The president’s daily, even hourly, abuse of language is also deeply problematic for a republic that conducts its business with words and cannot do so if their meanings are matters of sheer convenience. The unique arrogance of Mr. Trump’s rejection of the authority of custom is more dangerous than we realize because without custom, there is no law.

The issue that is — unfortunately — uniting Americans on the left and the right

Some of the tenured class that sets the intellectual tone of the left concluded long ago that America was built by oppression, is sustained by white privilege and requires the cleansing purity of social revolution (however that is defined). In this story, capitalism accumulates inequities that will eventually lead the rich to eat the poor. The American Dream is an exploitative myth. Change will come only through a coalition of the aggrieved. And those who are not permanently enraged are not paying proper attention.

.. It is unrecognizable to people — mostly white people — who regard mid-20th-century America as a social and economic ideal. The country has been fundamentally altered by multiculturalism and political correctness. It has been ruined by secularism and moral relativism. America, says the Rev. Franklin Graham, is “on the verge of total moral and spiritual collapse.” And those who are not permanently offended are not paying proper attention.
.. a poll taken last year found that 72 percent of Donald Trump supporters believe American society and its way of life have changed for the worse since the 1950s. And the most pessimistic and discontented lot of all was white evangelical Protestants. Almost three-quarters believed the past 70 years to be a period of social decline.

Those of us who remember politics in the Reagan era have a mental habit of regarding conservatism as more optimistic about the American experiment and liberalism as more discontented.
.. They are united in their belief that the United States is dominated by corrupt, self-serving elites. They are united in their call for radical rather than incremental change. While disagreeing deeply about the cause, they see America as careening off course.
.. What group believes that American society has gotten better since the 1950s? About 60 percent of African Americans and Hispanics.
.. Many conservatives have failed to appreciate the mixed legacy of modernity. In recent decades, the United States has seen declining community and family cohesion, and what former U.S. surgeon general Vivek H. Murthy calls “a loneliness epidemic.” “We live in the most technologically connected age in the history of civilization,” he says, “yet rates of loneliness have doubled since the 1980s.”
.. elevate and praise American ideals while courageously applying them to our social inconsistencies and hypocrisies.
.. And this might be matched with a spirit of gratitude — for a country capable of shame and change, and better than its grievances.