Yes, There Is Such a Thing as ‘Too Dumb for Government Work’

by Jim Geraghty

We don’t know that there was any collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government during the 2016 presidential campaign. What we do know now is that if given the opportunity to collude with the Russian government — in the form of an offer of “some official documents and information that would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia” that is “obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump,” Donald Trump Jr. would say, “I love it especially later in the summer.”

This is really bad. This may or may not be a crime; because there was, as far as we know, no actual “damaging information” offered at the meeting. But this is nuclear-level bad judgment.

For starters, did Donald Trump Jr. really not recognize the danger here? Does he think the Russian government does much that Vladimir Putin and the FSB doesn’t know about? At any point, did it ever cross his mind that he might be stepping into a blackmail plot on the part of the FSB?

And why didn’t it disturb, bother, worry, or unnerve him to hear that the Russian government was “supporting” his father? Vladimir Putin is not any American’s “friend.” He doesn’t just want to help. He’s not a nice guy, and he never gives something away for free. Whatever kind motivations he may appear to have at a given moment, his nature, ambitions, worldview, and modus operandi does not change. Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes: “I fear the Greeks, even when they bring gifts.” *

“Trust me, comrade, I am from the Russian government and I am here to help.”

When the Russian government offers you secret help in American domestic politics, you nod, smile, and attempt to leave the room as quickly as possible.

I keep seeing Trump defenders bringing up Ted Kennedy’s efforts to reach out to the Soviet Union during the Cold War, citing mutual opposition to various anti-Soviet efforts in the American government, including the Reagan administration. I thought we hated that. I thought we on the right thought that was a textbook example of letting partisan passions overrun good judgment and loyalty to one’s country. On what planet is citing Ted Kennedy exculpatory?

The editors: “No campaign professional would have accepted such a dodgy meeting the way Trump Jr. did, and no person with a strong sense of propriety — Russia is a hostile power run by a deeply corrupt regime — would have wanted to.”

The New York Post editorial board is not subtle in its assessment:

* There’s a long tradition of Latin phrases in National Review; I’m probably the lone contributor who thinks of them in the context of Michael Bay movies.

The Sandwich Order That Launched a Thousand Hot Takes

There is nothing wrong with taking some swings at David Brooks for tone-deaf statements about elitism and leadership and the disconnect between Americans; I’ve done that myself. And yes, out of all the possible examples and anecdotes that Brooks could cite about Americans being separated by social class and life experience, this is a particularly awkward and unconvincing one:

Recently I took a friend with only a high school degree to lunch. Insensitively, I led her into a gourmet sandwich shop. Suddenly I saw her face freeze up as she was confronted with sandwiches named “Padrino” and “Pomodoro” and ingredients like soppressata, capicollo and a striata baguette. I quickly asked her if she wanted to go somewhere else and she anxiously nodded yes and we ate Mexican.

Maybe she didn’t understand the menu, or maybe she just didn’t like the options, David.

But the rest of the column makes points about exclusion and lack of opportunity that almost everyone else on the right would applaud. Allahpundit is right, this is the most populist column he’s ever written.

The most important is residential zoning restrictions. Well-educated people tend to live in places like Portland, New York and San Francisco that have housing and construction rules that keep the poor and less educated away from places with good schools and good job opportunities.

Educated parents live in neighborhoods with the best teachers, they top off their local public school budgets and they benefit from legacy admissions rules, from admissions criteria that reward kids who grow up with lots of enriching travel and from unpaid internships that lead to jobs.

It’s no wonder that 70 percent of the students in the nation’s 200 most competitive schools come from the top quarter of the income distribution. With their admissions criteria, America’s elite colleges sit atop gigantic mountains of privilege, and then with their scholarship policies they salve their consciences by offering teeny step ladders for everybody else.

I could ask this about the editorial side of the New York Times, but let’s broaden it to any institution of the elite: the most highly regarded law firms, the top levels of government, the publishing houses, television networks, the nebulous not-quite-government institutions such as lobbying firms and think tanks, well-known nonprofits, the super-lucrative Wall Street firms . . . How many of the individuals atop those institutions went to an Ivy League school, and how many went to a state school?

Quite a few Ivy Leaguers would say, “Of course we ended up with the best jobs in the best places; we’re the best!” Eh, maybe in some cases. And then in plenty of high-profile cases, we’ve seen the best and brightest, selected early in life for the fast-track to cultural leadership because of stratospheric SAT scores and gleaming college applications, fall flat on their faces. Malcolm Gladwell ran the numbers, looking at the rate of publication in academic journals, and concluded, “the very best students from the very best schools are extraordinary. After that, though? You wouldn’t be able to pick the rest of the Harvard (or MIT or Yale) grads out of a crowd.” Sometimes the very worst end up attending the Ivy Leagues, too: Ted Kaczynski went to Harvard. Former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling went to Harvard Business School. Stephen Glass went to the University of Pennsylvania.

I wrote a while back that “America has a quasi-aristocracy that is completely convinced that it rose to the top of a meritocracy; perhaps no more clearly illustrated than in Chelsea Clinton’s belief that her workplaces were ‘incredibly, fiercely meritocratic.’”

Is Any Other Mayor So Loathed by His Own City’s Police Force?

How is New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio not in greater danger of losing his reelection bid?

Several hundred cops turned away in protest Tuesday morning as the mayor delivered his eulogy at the Bronx funeral of slain Officer Miosotis Familia.

The blue rage was spurred by the mayor’s excursion to Germany to join protesters at the G20 summit one day after last Wednesday’s execution of 12-year NYPD vet Familia.

Photos showed hundreds of police officers standing on the Grand Concourse with their backs to the World Changers Church as the mayor’s speech was heard via the public address system.

“The mayor is the compass for the City of New York,” Patrick Lynch, head of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, said before the funeral. “And unfortunately, when a police officer got killed, his compass led him to Germany rather than here on the Grand Concourse.

Early in the mayor’s tenure, hundreds of officers turned their backs on de Blasio at the funerals for NYPD partners Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu, who were slain in December 2014. Union officials complained at the time the mayor was not supportive of the Finest.

In mid May, de Blasio’s approval rating was at 60 percent.

ADDENDA: Hey remember Greentech, that electric-car company that was so eagerly and happily touted by GOP Mississippi governor Haley Barbour and current Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe?

Mississippi’s state auditor on Wednesday demanded that a troubled electric car maker or its leader repay $4.9 million in state and local aid the company received, plus $1.5 million of interest.

Auditor Stacey Pickering issued the demand to GreenTech Automotive and its CEO, Charles Wang, saying the company has failed to live up to pledges to invest $60 million and create 350 jobs in Tunica County, just south of Memphis, Tennessee.

GreenTech once planned to build 250,000 cars a year and invest $2 billion, but first sharply downsized its goals, and then failed to meet them, authorities said. In a July 2011 agreement, GreenTech promised to invest $60 million and hire 350 full-time workers by the end of 2014, paying each at least $35,000 and maintaining those jobs for at least 10 years.

“I would venture that there isn’t really much of an operation in Tunica at all,” Pickering told The Associated Press in a phone interview. “This appears to have been a game of smoke and mirrors, and a corporate entity that never had any intention to deliver on the promises it made.” . . . 

The company, which sought to raise money from Chinese people who can obtain U.S. residency by investing $500,000 and creating 10 jobs, came under scrutiny after the inspector general of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security found an official violated ethics policies when he intervened in visa proceedings for GreenTech.

GreenTech also has faced an investigation by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The status of that probe is unclear.

Documents obtained by The Associated Press through a Freedom of Information Act Request show Homeland Security in 2016 denied other visa requests, saying the company had overstated its job creation.

Remember when a Virginia state official looked at the company’s proposals and asked if the whole thing was a “visa-for-sale scheme”? Good times, good times.

McAuliffe resigned as the firm’s chairman in December 2012 shortly before launching his gubernatorial campaign, and said he divested his interest.

The Morning Jolt

By Jim Geraghty