Distortions

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) is upset over his administration’s having been called soft on crime by that impertinent man, Attorney General Jeff Sessions.  Sessions, after all, said that New York

continues to see gang murder after gang murder, the predictable consequence of the city’s “soft on crime” stance.

De Blasio’s response?  He transferred the target of the remark to the police themselves, pretending to wonder why the AG has

insult[ed] the men and women who do this work every day, who put their lives on the line and who have achieved so much?

Confusion

There is some concerning Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ moves at DoJ concerning local police forces and local policing.  An example is provided in the lede to a recent Wall Street Journal article:

Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ decision this week to review concessions by local police departments accused of misconduct is part of a seismic shift at the Justice Department, which has quickly changed its emphasis under the Trump administration from protecting civil rights to promoting law and order.

Northern Korea and the People’s Republic of China

On the day before the PRC’s President, Xi Jinping, is to meet with President Donald Trump, northern Korea fired another ballistic missile (this one apparently another test of its solid-fueled model).  Of course, the careful timing of Baby Kim’s missile launch has been denied by the PRC’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying.  There is no “direct relation” between the missile launch and the Trump-Xi meeting, she insisted.

The more telling description of events and event relations, though, was provided by Shi Yinhong, Director of the Center on American Studies at Renmin University in Beijing:

China has nearly exhausted its leverage with North Korea.

Incidental Unmasking

Now we know that then-National Security Advisor to then-President Barack Obama (D) Susan Rice asked several times for American names to be unmasked that had been masked since their presence in communications of foreign nationals that were being legitimately monitored was entirely incidental to the communications and the reasons for which those communications were being monitored.

Rice’s requests were strictly legal; the NSA incumbent is one of the Executive Branch officials with the legal authority to ask for, and to receive, the names to be unmasked without having first to go through a court, even the secretive Star Chamber FISA court.

A Thought on Filibusters and Supreme Court Nominees

In a Wall Street Journal piece on the potential for Senate Democrat obstructionism (my term) provoking an end to the filibuster as it concerns Supreme Court nominees, Kristina Peterson had this remark:

If the Senate is able to confirm Supreme Court nominees with just a simple majority, centrists in both parties fear that future presidents whose party also controls the Senate will have no incentive to pick a nominee aimed to garner bipartisan support.

Contrasts

As the Trump administration begins to shape its policy on drugs, tension is growing between a treatment-focused approach, embodied in a new commission on opioids headed by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, and the aggressive prosecution of drug crimes promised by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

There need there be no tension because there is no contradiction.  The two approaches—nail hard those who prey on the vulnerable and the addicted—and working to free the addicted from the controls of their addiction (“free from the controls” because an addict never loses his addiction; he can only reach a point where he can say reliably, “not today.”  That’s where current medical technology has us) rather than simply jailing them, too, potentiate each other.

Distractions

Congressman Adam Schiff (D, CA), Ranking Member of the House Intelligence Committee, wants them.  He’s so anxious to have them that he’s insisting that Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R, CA) to stop being Chairman.

Mr Nunes should step aside from any congressional investigation pertaining to Russia or to the “incidental” collection of intelligence information, like what Mr Nunes said occurred to Mr Trump’s transition team.

Mr Schiff said in a statement it was “not a recommendation I make lightly…. I believe the public cannot have the necessary confidence that matters involving the president’s campaign or transition team can be objectively investigated or overseen by the chairman.”

Inadvertent Tapping and Leaks

As House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R, CA) revealed the other day enroute to the White House, intelligence community personnel, in the course of surveilling the communications and other activities of foreign nationals (vis., Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak), also surveilled incidentally members of then-President-Elect Donald Trump’s campaign and transition teams, and perhaps Trump himself.  Wire tapping, indeed, if loosely and metaphorically.

Of larger import, though, is this, also from Nunes.

…the intelligence “ended up in reporting channels and was widely disseminated.”

It was previously reported that former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn was “unmasked” in this way; however, Nunes said “additional names” were unmasked as well.

House Freedom Caucus of No

Yesterday, the membership of the House Freedom Caucus of No forced the American Health Care Act, the first stage of a three-stage Obamacare repeal and replace program offered by the majority of the House Republican Conference, to be withdrawn from the day’s backup vote (recall that these No-ers already had forced a delay from Thursday’s vote over their demand to have their way or there could be no Act), and so there will be no AHCA.

The Trump Tax Leak

Host Rachel Maddow said the two-page summary of Trump’s federal return for that year was first obtained by journalist David Cay Johnston, who gave MSNBC a first look at the documents.

It is unclear who leaked them. Johnston, with the website DCReport.org, said only that he found the documents “in the mail.”

If you believe that the leaked return just sort of showed up like that, maybe you’ll believe that I have some beachfront property north of Santa Fe to sell you.