The Memo That Ate Washington

It's a war over legitimacy

So the memo that has transfixed close political observers for weeks is finally out and it reveals, perhaps, questionable behavior by some government officials. I say “perhaps” because while we know what the memo says, we do not know what it doesn’t say. We know it says a secret warrant was sought by the government at the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in October 2016 against a one-time Trump campaign associate using information compiled by a source hostile to Trump who was in the pay of the Clinton campaign (or, more precisely, a campaign cut-out). We are told that the FISA court was not informed of the ideological and political provenance of the information it was being supplied by the government. We are also told that after it was secured, the warrant was renewed several times, including by Justice Department officials now working under the Trump administration. And we are told that a senior FBI official who has now been cashiered said the “dossier” featuring the hostile information was the primary source for the warrant.

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The Memo That Ate Washington

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But She Fights

A Trump of their own.

There were many arguments for opposing Donald Trump’s bid for the presidency, but the retort usually boiled down to a single glib sentence: “But he fights.”

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Politicians Need Free Speech Too

A lesson from Finland.

High-ranking politicians are entitled to freedom of speech and conscience. That shouldn’t be a controversial statement, but it often is, especially in European countries where the range of acceptable views is narrow–and narrowing. Just ask Finnish Foreign Minister Timo Soini, who spent the summer fighting off an investigation into his participation at an anti-abortion vigil in Canada. On Friday, Soini survived a no-confidence vote in Parliament over the issue.

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Planet Earth Dodges a Bullet

Banality and evil.

A week ago, I wondered what was going on in Sunspot, New Mexico. The FBI had swept into this mountain-top solar observatory, complete with Black Hawk helicopters, evacuated everyone, and closed the place down with no explanation whatever. Local police were politely told to butt out. It was like the first scene in a 1950’s Hollywood sci-fi movie, probably starring Walter Pidgeon.

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The Unprincipled Boycott of Israel

The demands of the politicized life.

John Cheney-Lippold, an associate professor of American Culture at the University of Michigan, has been the subject of withering criticism of late, but I’m grateful to him. Yes, he shouldn’t have refused to write a recommendation for a student merely because the semester abroad program she was applying to was in Israel. But at least he exposed what the boycott movement is about, aspects of which I suspect some of its blither endorsers are unaware.

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The Low, Low Price of Serfdom

Nothing ventured.

Convenience, wrote Columbia University law professor Tim Wu, is a tyrant. It makes our lives easier and more enjoyable, but everything comes with a price tag. We may not recognize that which we are sacrificing in the pursuit of convenience, but we are sacrificing nonetheless.

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