Liberalism’s Summer of ’17

Liberals whine about being governed by Trump. Pity those governed by them.

Many of those now climbing over the Democrats’ blue walls were willing to live under the original liberal governance model that existed before 1960 because it recognized the legitimacy of private economic life. The wealthy agreed then to pay their “fair share.”

.. Defenders of the liberal model argue that cities like New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles are changing into sophisticated, cosmopolitan hubs that attract a new class of young professionals who will restore urban America. Instead, many of these urban revivals are producing a phenomenon economists now call “racially concentrated areas of affluence,” or RCAAs.

An area gets RCAAed when the residents who pack themselves into it are mostly white people whose median incomes are unprecedentedly greater than the city’s poverty level. Some of the most RCAAed cities are liberal duchies like Boston, Baltimore, Chicago and Philadelphia.

Today, private economic life, especially that of the urban middle class, is no longer a partner in the liberal model. It’s merely a “revenue source” for a system whose patronage is open-ended welfare and largely uncapped public-employee pensions. I’d describe the liberal-progressive governing strategy as ruin and rule.

.. Not widely noticed is that liberalism’s claimed beneficiaries—black Americans—are also fleeing its failures. Demographers have documented significant black out-migration from New York, Michigan, California and Illinois into Florida, Georgia, Texas and North Carolina. North to south.

.. They are now asking the federal government, meaning taxpayers who live in parts of the U.S. not hostile to capitalism, to give them nearly $15 billion to replace the 100-year-old train tunnel beneath the Hudson River. Why should they? Why send money to a moribund, dysfunctional urban liberal politics that will never—as in, not ever—clean up its act or reform?

Maybe we need a new default solution to the urban crisis: Let internal migration redistribute the U.S. population away from liberalism’s smug but falling-apart plutonomies.

James Comey Moves the Pendulum

On May 18 Trump was asked: “Did you, at any time, urge former F.B.I. Director James Comey, in any way, shape or form, to close or to back down the investigation into Michael Flynn?” The president’s response: “No. No. Next question.”

Comey, in his statement to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, says that in a Feb. 14 Oval Office meeting Trump did precisely what he denies.

.. a president who had already tried through a veiled threat to establish a “patronage relationship,”

.. No doubt Mueller is also wondering what possible benign motive could lead Trump to clear the Oval Office before asking the F.B.I. director to spare Flynn.

.. “Trump’s business is infecting the people around him. To show loyalty you have to engage in the corrupt or mendacious behavior he engages in. So he’s a form of contagion — and Comey did not want the investigation infected.”

.. if Mueller suggests the president could be indicted, impeachment proceedings will be hard to resist — and then, as Burbank put it, “what we might colloquially call ‘obstruction of justice’ might be deemed a high crime or misdemeanor even if it would not violate federal criminal law.”

James Comey’s Testimony: ‘Comey Was Playing Chess’

Trump’s defenders will be trying to portray Trump’s pressuring Comey to drop the Flynn investigation as an isolated incident, a president who simply didn’t know any better going a bit too far trying to get a friend off the hook.

.. The president asked Comey, then the F.B.I. director, to pledge his loyalty and to shut down one part of the investigation. When the director didn’t comply, he was fired.

And the intelligence committee hearing on all of this proceeded like it was just another partisan fight about tax cuts. The word “surreal” comes to mind.

.. the specific takeaway is actually something we already knew: Comey said: “I take the president, at his word, that I was fired because of the Russia investigation. Something about the way I was conducting it, the president felt created pressure on him that he wanted to relieve.” Comey was clear Trump didn’t ask him to stop the Russia investigation. But the president wanted to change the course of what the F.B.I. was doing. In this context, whatever his rationale, and whether or not he broke the law, is that acceptable conduct for an American president?

.. including a cryptic reference by Trump to the “the McCabe thing,” suggesting that our president might have his cross hairs on the acting FBI director.

.. The statement by Trump’s lawyer that the president feels “completely and totally vindicated” by Comey’s testimony was particularly bizarre given that Trump and the White House had both flatly denied the president ever made such a request. True, Comey’s testimony confirms that as of March 30, the F.B.I. wasn’t investigating Trump himself, but that’s hardly proof of innocence. After all, as Comey points out, that could change.

.. David French describes Comey’s account of the exchange in which Trump asked him for loyalty and concludes:

“There’s no serious argument that this is appropriate behavior from an American president. Imagine for a moment testimony that President Barack Obama or a hypothetical President Hillary Clinton had a similar conversation with an F.B.I. director. The entire conservative-media world would erupt in outrage, and rightly so. The F.B.I. director is a law-enforcement officer, loyal to the Constitution, not the president’s consigliere.”

.. The Department of Justice has long taken the position that criminal charges can’t be brought against a sitting president because that would “undermine the capacity of the executive branch to perform its constitutionally assigned functions”

.. Attorney General Jeff Sessions couldn’t bring charges even if he wanted to, which he doesn’t.

.. an aggressive accusation that the Trump administration “defamed” him and the agency to justify his firing. “Those were lies, plain and simple,”

.. Comey wants to be providing the facts, and his gut reaction — “disturbing” — while leaving the legal conclusions to the senators questioning him, and to Bob Mueller

.. Rich Lowry’s argument in Politico that Comey’s willingness to talk about ongoing investigations helps explain why Trump thought he could ask Comey to publicly say that the president himself wasn’t under investigation.

.. there something to the underlying idea, that Comey himself scrambled the rules for what should and shouldn’t be public, in the context of a highly politicized F.B.I. investigation?

.. how telling is it that the former director of the F.B.I. testified that he felt he needed to document every encounter with Trump because, given “the nature of the person,” he felt Trump might lie? He actually used the “L” word!

.. Trump is right about the “cloud” hanging over him. Comey set a bad precedent last summer and I hope the F.B.I. ditches it.

.. Senator Marco Rubio’s line of questioning, is that the defense of Trump is taking form

.. One Comey subtheme is Sessions’s failure to protect the F.B.I’s independence from the White House.

.. it sounds like Sessions is more mixed up in the Russia investigation than we know.

.. And if it turns out the campaign assisted Russia in any way, that’s a political crime that would make the Watergate break-in look benign.

.. He didn’t order Comey to shut down the whole Russia investigation, he merely asked Comey to shut down the inquiry into Flynn

.. I’ll stipulate that much of Comey’s conduct strikes me as bizarre: The vicarious leaking of his memo probably tops that list, and his reason for not alerting Sessions of Trump’s misconduct, at a time when Sessions was still overseeing the Russia investigation, is pretty thin.

.. I’m still getting my mind around Comey’s statement that he asked a friend (Dan Richman, a Columbia University law professor has confirmed he was that person) to leak Comey’s memo about Trump to the press in order to trigger the appointment of a special counsel. Wow! Trump doesn’t play chess, but that’s what Comey was doing. It also suggests that he didn’t think the Justice Department should handle the investigation through normal channels.