Displaying posts published in

September 2017


Shortly before Donald Trump’s inauguration in January, meteorologist and climate writer Eric Holthaus unleashed a Twitter torrent confessing his depression about the new president. Holthaus admitted he was seeing a counselor due to his “climate despair” and whimpered that it was difficult to work or do much of anything.

“We don’t deserve this planet,” Holthaus tweeted. “There are (many) days when I think it would be better off without us.”

But Hurricane Harvey has apparently boosted Holthaus’ spirits. He is working at a feverish pace now, churning out a number of “I-told-you-so” articles and interviews. By Monday, Holthaus had already penned an overwrought article for Politico, where he wags a literary finger at us:

We knew this would happen, decades ago. We knew this would happen, and we didn’t care. Now is the time to say it as loudly as possible: Harvey is what climate change looks like. More specifically, Harvey is what climate change looks like in a world that has decided, over and over, that it doesn’t want to take climate change seriously.

There was more back-patting: “If we don’t talk about the climate context of Harvey, we won’t be able to prevent future disasters and get to work on that better future. Those of us who know this need to say it loudly.”

Nothing like a devastating Category 4 hurricane to cure those climate blues!

Of course, Holthaus is not alone. Before the first raindrops started to fall in Houston, climate activists and their propagandists in the media were already blaming Harvey on man-made global warming. But that wasn’t enough. President Trump, his voters, and the Republican Congress are also culpable. Oliver Willis, a writer for the anti-Trump website Shareblue, suggested via several tweets Sunday morning that the hurricane could have been avoided had we listened to Al Gore, honored the Paris Climate Accord, and elected Hillary Clinton:

Even though some cooler heads in the scientific community cautioned against politicizing the hurricane while people were losing their lives, homes, and every possession, activists and the media would hear nothing of it. They persisted. Pope Francis even got in on the action, calling for a world day of prayer for the care of creation: “We appeal to those who have influential roles to listen to the cry of the Earth and the cry of the poor, who suffer the most from ecological imbalance.”

It’s impossible to catalog all the ridiculous comments and accusations made over the past week, so a few highlights will have to suffice. In a CNN.com article, Jeffrey Sachs, a Columbia University professor and regular climate scold, demanded the resignation of Texas Governor Greg Abbott over the hurricane: “Once the immediate crisis ends, the governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, should resign with an apology to his state and his country. Then the Texas delegation in Congress should make a public confession. They have lied to their constituents for too long, expecting the rest of America to keep bailing them out.” Sachs called Texas a “moral hazard state” (he must have missed all the amazing videos of Texans helping each other regardless of color or political persuasion) because “Houston is an oil town, and the American oil industry has been enemy No. 1 of climate truth and climate preparedness.” Despicable.

Some cheered the devastation. George Monbiot, a particularly noxious climate writer for The Guardian, implied Houston deserved what it got:

The storm ripped through the oil fields, forcing rigs and refineries to shut down, including those owned by some of the 25 companies that have produced more than half the greenhouse gas emissions humans have released since the start of the Industrial Revolution. Hurricane Harvey has devastated a place in which climate breakdown is generated, and in which the policies that prevent it from being addressed are formulated.

Cenk Uyger, co-host of a YouTube news roundtable called “The Young Turks” (he’s not so young, as it happens), best represented the unintellectual and unscientific view of the climate cult when he said this on Monday:

So, if you’re one of those snowflakes who is going to get triggered when I say this has to do with climate change, go ahead and cry right now. If you’re gonna say it’s too say it’s too soon, I’m gonna say it’s too late. It’s not too soon to talk about climate change, we should have talked about it a long time ago so these storms wouldn’t be this severe. If you are a knucklehead who doesn’t understand science, and you say, oh well we used to have storms like this before, that doesn’t answer anything.

Inebriates of virtue On iconoclasm and the restriction of free speech. Roger Kimball

Welcome back to The New Criterion. We hope that our readers enjoyed a pleasant and productive period of aestivation. It was not, we regret to report, a good summer for free speech and one of its key enablers, historical truthfulness.

Let us start with an apparently frivolous example. At Yale, where censorship never sleeps, the Committee of Public Safety—no, wait, that was Robespierre’s plaything. Yale’s new bureaucracy is called the “Committee on Art in Public Spaces.” Its charge? To police works of art on campus, to make sure that images offensive to favored populations are covered over or removed. At the residential college formerly known as Calhoun, for example, the Committee has removed stained glass windows depicting slaves and other historical scenes of Southern life. Statues and other representations of John C. Calhoun—a distinguished statesman but also an apologist for slavery—have likewise been slotted for the oubliette.

But impermissible attitudes and images are never in short supply once the itch to stamp out heresy gets going. Yesterday, it was Calhoun and representations of the Antebellum South. Today it is a carving at an entrance to Yale’s Sterling Memorial Library depicting an Indian and a Puritan. The Puritan, if you can believe it, was holding a musket—a gun! Quoth Susan Gibbons, one of Yale’s librarian-censors: its “presence at a major entrance to Sterling was not appropriate.” Why not? Never mind. Solution? Cover over the musket with a cowpat of stone. (But leave the Indian’s bow and arrow alone!)

Impermissible attitudes and images are never in short supply.

Actually, we just learned that the removable cowpat of stone was only a stopgap. The outcry against the decision struck a chord with Peter Salovey, Yale’s President. “Such alteration,” he noted, “represents an erasure of history, which is entirely inappropriate at a university.” He’s right about that. But wait! Instead of merely altering the image, Salovey announced that Yale would go full Taliban, removing the offending stonework altogether. In the bad old days, librarians and college presidents were people who sought to protect the past, that vast storehouse of offensive attitudes and behavior. In these more enlightened times, they collude in its effacement.

You might say, Who cares what violence a super-rich bastion of privilege and unaccountability like Yale perpetrates on its patrimony? Well, you should care. Institutions like Yale (and Harvard, Stanford, and the rest of the elite educational aeries) are the chief petri dishes for the “progressive” hostility to free expression and other politically correct attitudes that have insinuated themselves like a fever-causing virus into the bloodstream of public life.

This summer, Douglas Koziol, an anguished employee at an independent bookstore near Boston, took to the publishing website “The Millions” to exhibit the fine grain of his caring, sharing sensitivity by airing his “moral objection” to J. D. Vance’s bestseller Hillbilly Elegy. What is a right-thinking (i.e., left-leaning) bookseller to do when customers clamor for a book with the poisonous message that hard work and individual initiative are important factors in escaping poverty? The urge to hide the book is strong, strong. But Koziol decided he would merely badger (“start conversations” with) the unenlightened masses who ask for books like Hillbilly Elegy (to say nothing of those wanting Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, anything by William F. Buckley Jr., or the works of the “tech vampire” Peter Thiel; the house of left-wing disapproval is large, and contains many mansions).

Spiriting away stonework in the Ivy League, and the residue of the attitudes that stand behind such iconoclastic activities in the parlors of left-leaning bookshops, may seem mostly comical. (As, we suppose, was the case of poor Robert Lee, the Asian sports announcer who, a week after the deadly melee at Charlottesville, was removed from calling a University of Virginia football game because of “the coincidence” of his unfortunate name.)

But there is a straight line from those nuggets of morally-fired intolerance to other, decidedly less comical examples of puritanical censure. Consider the case of James Damore, the (former) Google engineer who wrote an internal memo outlining the company’s cult-like “echo chamber” of political correctness and ham-handed efforts to nurture “diversity” in hiring and promotion. When the memo was publicized, it first precipitated controversy and then provided Google ceo Sundar Pichai a high horse upon which to perch, declare that Damore’s memo was “offensive and not OK,” and then fire him. For expressing his opinion on a company discussion forum designed to encourage free expression (so long as it toes the politically correct line).

There is a straight line to other, less comical examples of puritanical censure.

New NGO Racket: Smuggling, Inc. by Douglas Murray

Although the European Union successfully bribed Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan last year — inducing him to slow the flow of migrants heading through Turkey into Greece — Italy has received almost 100,000 people so far this year.

This summer, even more than in previous years, it has become plain that some of the NGOs working in the Mediterranean are acting as something more than intermediaries. Many have in fact been acting as facilitators. This makes the NGOs effectively no more than the benign face of the smuggling networks. Undercover workers have also discovered NGOs handing vessels back to the smugglers’ networks, effectively helping them to continue their criminal enterprise indefinitely.

A group that which seeks to oppose Europe’s current self-destructive insane trajectory can now not even source independent financial support. Groups, however, that continue to push Europe along its current trajectory continue to get all the official support they need. In the difference in reaction to these two groups lies a significant part of the story of the ruin of a continent.

Sometimes it is in the gap between things that the truth emerges.

In recent years Europe has been on the receiving end of one of the most significant migrant crises in history. In 2015, in just a single year, countries such as Germany and Sweden found themselves adding 2% to their respective populations. Although much of the public continue to labour under the misapprehension that those still coming are fleeing the Syrian civil war; in fact, the majority of those now entering Europe are from Africa, particularly from sub-Saharan Africa.

Although the European Union successfully bribed Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan last year — inducing him to slow the flow of migrants heading through Turkey into Greece — Italy has received almost 100,000 people so far this year. Spain — which had ducked much of the movement of recent years — now finds itself receiving thousands of people who are sometimes (as in this memorable footage from earlier this month) simply landing on the country’s beaches and running straight into the country. In doing so, they are not only breaking into Europe in a fashion that is illegal, but flouting all the asylum protocols, and other protocols, however inadequate, that are meant to exist.

In reaction to such events, the Spanish authorities have done something extraordinary. They have gone the way of the Italian authorities and made more efforts to intercept boats heading towards the country. Not in order to turn them around or block them, but in order to “rescue” them. In merely one day last week, the Spanish coastguards “rescued” 600 migrants. The purpose of the quotation marks around “rescue” is because its use in this context is highly contestable. Somebody may be rescued from a burning car, or rescued from a sinking boat. But if thousands of people intentionally head across narrow stretches of water, it can hardly be said that each and every one of them has been “rescued’.

What have they been rescued from? They may be rescued from war. Or they may be rescued from poverty. Or slightly less rosy economic prospects than someone born in Spain. Most of these people have simply been rescued from Africa or whatever their country of origin. This situation leads to the questions which European politicians even now refuse to address — which is whether Europe should indeed be “rescuing” anyone who ends up in a boat near Europe.

Whenever they are polled, the public in Europe consistently say that they want the migration to slow down or stop. This is a majority opinion in every European country. Across the EU as a whole, a recent survey found that 76% of the European public think that the European Union’s handling of the whole crisis has been poor. But it is in the gap between the treatment of two actors in this crisis that we can discern a terrible fact about the fate of Europe.

Throughout the crisis of recent years — and especially since the height of the crisis in 2015 — the official vessels operated by the European states have been joined by members of non-governmental organsations (NGOs), either on the vessels or running vessels of their own. A significant amount of the “rescue” part of the migrant crisis (finding boats and transferring those onboard onto safe vessels or guiding their vessels into port) has been done by NGOs. Organisations such as Save the Children and Médecins sans Frontières have been invited to do this by European government agencies, and many of them receive significant levels of government funding as well as charitable giving from the public.

Yet, this summer, even more than in previous years, it has become plain that some of the NGOs working in the Mediterranean are acting as something more than intermediaries. Many have in fact been acting as facilitators. Agents who have infiltrated the NGO groups have found collusion between the NGOs and the smugglers networks, including coordination with these brutal and mercenary organisations. Investigations have found NGOs to have been breaking their own agreed operating rules by coordinating locations to meet and pick up vessels sent out by the smugglers. This makes the NGOs effectively no more than the benign face of the smuggling networks. Undercover workers have also discovered NGOs handing vessels back to the smugglers’ networks, effectively helping them to continue their criminal enterprise indefinitely.

Price’s War on Mental Illness Instead of using ‘mental health’ as a catch-all, spending should focus on those with serious mental illnesses By D. J. Jaffe

The abysmal failure of the U.S. mental-health system to serve the seriously ill is apparent to everyone except those who work in it. As I documented in Insane Consequences: How the Mental Health Industry Fails the Mentally Ill, in spite of throwing $150 billion at mental health annually, there are 140,000 seriously mentally ill homeless and almost 400,000 behind bars. One-third of the seriously mentally ill get zero treatment. Families are being torn apart. The public has become inured to the steady flow of “mentally ill killer goes on rampage” headlines. Meanwhile advocates and the industry propose mental-health spending plans that have nothing to do with solving these problems, so the seriously ill continue to suffer.

Yesterday, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price delivered a brilliant speech urging mental-health leaders to bring this insanity to an end. He did so while convening the inaugural meeting of the Interdepartmental Serious Mental Illness Coordinating Committee (ISMICC). The committee was the brainchild of Representatives Tim Murphy (R., Pa.) and Eddie Bernice Johnson (D., Texas). It is composed of members from the top federal agencies and advocates and is charged with developing recommendations for Congress on serious mental illness.

Secretary Price distilled the problem down to its essence by instructing committee members to focus on the “ten, ten, ten problem”: Ten million people have serious mental illness, they die ten years earlier than others, and “ten times more Americans with serious mental illness are in prison than in psychiatric hospitals. . . . We replaced an imperfect and sometimes cruel system of institutionalization with a system that is in many cases even more cruel.” Bingo!

The problem is largely one of mission creep. For example, under the misleadership of director Paolo Del Vecchio, the Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS) unit within the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has largely refused to focus on the seriously mentally ill. It has encouraged other agencies and the states to divert their own resources away from the seriously mentally ill and toward the pseudoscience and pop psychology that CMHS regularly promotes. CMHS encourages mental-health agencies to wrap poverty, divorce, bad grades, unemployment, and gender misidentity in a mental-health narrative — “trauma” — and use their state and local mental-health funds to solve those problems. Reducing homelessness, arrest, incarceration, violence, and victimization among the seriously mentally ill are not on the CMHS radar.

After Dr. Price left the room, certain committee members ignored his direction and trotted out their usual array of spending initiatives that do not reduce the homelessness, arrest, incarceration, and hospitalization of the seriously mentally ill. Some called for expanding prevention initiatives, in spite of the established fact that the serious mental illnesses that the committee is supposed to focus on, including schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, cannot be prevented. Others wanted to focus on “stigma,” which is far behind cost and lack of services in explaining why the seriously ill don’t get treatment. Someone proposed focusing suicide-eradication efforts on those under 24, who are the least likely to commit suicide. Reducing violence by the mentally ill? It did not even get a mention until the public-comments session, when one caller (myself) asked why.

At that point, several committee members pulled out the industry platitude that “the mentally ill are no more violent than others” — which is true. But the seriously mentally ill who go untreated, the group Secretary Price asked them to focus on, are more violent than others. Denial is not a solution.

Arpaio Pardon Shows the Futility of Mueller’s Obstruction Investigation The question is impeachment, not indictment. By Andrew C. McCarthy

Where are the calls for obstruction charges?

On the matter of President Donald Trump’s pardon of Sheriff Joseph Arpaio, just about any bad thing that could be said has been said. This is the second of a two-part series on the subject, and in the first I described the pardon as “unmerited, unnecessary, and impulsive.” My words were pretty tame compared with those of other disapproving commentators.

But one word you didn’t hear much was “obstruction.”

The word “impeachment” has been invoked here and there. Such talk is fairly muted in Democratic circles, though, at least where the Arpaio pardon is concerned. This apparent smidgeon of self-awareness is welcome. In the context of impeachment, Trump’s clemency grant cannot be discussed without inviting comparisons to disgraceful pardons and commutations issued by Presidents Obama and Clinton.

There is a good reason for that, which we’ll get to.

Notice, though, that despite broad disapproval of the Arpaio pardon, cutting across partisan and ideological lines, few critics have panned it as an instance — or yet another instance — of Trump’s potentially criminal obstruction of legal processes.

That seems strange. After all, there have been strident calls for the investigation and possible indictment of Trump over his purported obstruction of the Flynn probe — i.e., the FBI’s investigation of retired General Michael Flynn, fleetingly the president’s national-security adviser. Those strident calls have not been for naught: They led to the appointment of Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Obstruction is said to be a critical component of his ongoing Trump-Russia investigation.

The specter of obstruction was first raised by James Comey, the FBI director eventually fired by Trump — a firing that Trump detractors promptly added to the putative obstruction case. In fact, when it came to light that Comey steered to the New York Times an internal FBI memo he’d written about Trump’s pressuring him over Flynn, the former director admitted he was hoping to trigger the appointment of a special counsel to investigate the president.

Consider this: A pardon is the ultimate obstruction of a criminal investigation. It is checkmate. The federal prosecutors and investigating agents in the Arpaio case could complain as vigorously as former director Comey has about the president’s trampling on the independence of law enforcement. But it would change nothing. A presidential pardon stamps their file case closed.

The Flynn case was never closed. Trump did not pardon Flynn, though he could have (and still could). By any fair accounting, the president’s expression of “hope” that Comey would drop the case constitutes heavy-duty pressure from the boss. But as we’ve repeatedly pointed out, pressure is not obstruction. The investigation was not shut down. It continues and, according to some reports, portends real jeopardy for Flynn.

Consider, also, the circumstances surrounding the Arpaio pardon. It has been reported by the Washington Post that, weeks before the former top lawman in Maricopa County was put on trial, President Trump indicated to Attorney General Jeff Sessions that he would like to see the case dropped. Sessions is said to have told the president that doing so would be inappropriate. Trump thus agreed to let the prosecution go forward . . . but with the proviso that he would issue a pardon if Arpaio were convicted — a foolish calculation on Trump’s part (we’ll get to that, too).

To repeat: The pardon completely aborts the prosecution of Arpaio. Yet it is not the pardon that has prompted shrieking about obstruction; it is Trump’s consultation with Sessions. Of course, far from aborting the case, the upshot of that consultation — breathlessly decried as political interference in law enforcement — is that Arpaio was fully investigated, tried, and convicted.

CNN Silent After Host ‘Incited Rage’ at Antifa Rally in Berkeley By Debra Heine

A CNN host spoke to a cheering Antifa crowd at the violent “No Hate in the Bay” rally in Berkeley, California, over the weekend, and now CNN is dodging questions about it.

W. Kamau Bell, who fronts a show on CNN called the “United Shades of America,” grabbed a bullhorn at the rally and bellowed that “when the Nazis leave, as they have left…you have to stand up for the brown people, the black people, the LGBT people, the immigrants–everybody everyday!” The mob roared in approval.

The “No Hate” rally was organized in opposition to two conservative groups (“No Marxism in America” and “Patriot Prayer”) that were going to hold rallies that weekend but cancelled out of safety concerns.

The leaders of both groups have denounced neo-Nazis and white supremacists.

Violent Antifa protesters chased, harassed, spat on, and viciously assaulted the few conservatives who were in attendance at the rally on Sunday. They attacked journalists as well.

Fox News host Tucker Carlson took CNN to task on his show Thursday night, pointing out that Bell offered encouragement to the black-clad Antifa mob that attacked innocent people for no other reason than that they “might have voted for Donald Trump.”

He “calls himself a political provocateur but that doesn’t quite capture it,” Carlson said. “In fact, he is a supporter of Antifa.”

Mark Steyn: Dem IT Scandal Is Worse than Russia and Nobody’s Interested in It By Debra Heine

“Basically everything people have been looking for in the so-called Russia investigation is actually here in the more or less uncovered Imran Awan investigation,” political commentator Mark Steyn argued on Fox News’ Tucker Carlson Tonight Wednesday evening.

He brought up the latest shoe to drop in the growing scandal, which was broken this week by Luke Rosiak in The Daily Caller, as a prime example.

“This guy [Imran Awan] had his access to House email withdrawn because he was a security risk, yet he still had a House email,” said Steyn incredulously.

“This story is malodorous to a degree that nothing surrounding Trump’s involvement in the Miss Universe Pageant in St. Petersburg … is at all … and nobody’s interested in it!” he continued.

Debbie Wasserman Schultz in recent weeks has defended her decision to keep Awan — a suspect in a criminal investigation — on as an employee even after he was arrested by claiming that he is a victim of anti-Islamic bigotry.

“He’s a civil-rights martyr,” Carlson remarked sarcastically.

“He’s been accused of browsing while Muslim,” Steyn snarked in reply.

“She [Wasserman Schultz] has already attempted to intimidate and obstruct the investigation,” said Steyn, referring to her threat last May that there would “be consequences” if U.S. Capitol Police Chief Matthew R. Verderosa did not return her laptop.

“As you know, she demanded the return of her laptop from the policeman investigating this…..it’s on camera and it’s the interference with a police investigation that everyone’s accusing Trump of doing with James Comey and all those guys!” Steyn exclaimed. “So everything they’ve been … sniffing around Trump for with the Russia investigation … is staring them in the face with this thing!”

“Man, if we ever get a Republican-controlled Congress, maybe they’ll investigate it,” Carlson piped in, sarcastically again.

Steyn ended the segment with a humorous riff on Hillary Clinton’s book tour which, according to a press release, promises to be “surprisingly funny.”

“I thought election night was surprisingly funny,” Steyn deadpanned.

He joked that there are scores of “Saudi princes and Sudanese warlords” who are upset with Clinton only charging North Americans $2400 to meet her.

“That’s bargain-basement prices for a meet and greet,” he said. Speaking for the Saudis and Sudanese, he added, “I had to pay four million dollars to the Clinton Foundation and sit through a speech on diarrhea in Africa from Chelsea [Clinton] before I could get a meet and greet with Hillary Clinton.”

He called both events a “hell of a steal.” CONTINUE AT SITE

Feds Have Been Warning State and Local Cops About Antifa Violence for More Than a Year By Rick Moran

Confidential law enforcement documents obtained by Politico show that federal authorities have been warning state and local officials since early 2016 about the growing potential for violence by Antifa to the point that the Department of Homeland Security formally classified their activities as “domestic terrorist violence.”

Numerous Trump campaign rallies, Berkeley (twice), Charlottesville — what the hell were the politicians and law enforcement officials in those cities doing about those warnings?

Previously unreported documents disclose that by April 2016 , authorities believed that “anarchist extremists” were the primary instigators of violence at public rallies against a range of targets. They were blamed by authorities for attacks on the police, government and political institutions, along with symbols of “the capitalist system,” racism, social injustice and fascism, according to a confidential 2016 joint intelligence assessment by DHS and the FBI.

After President Donald Trump’s election in November, the antifa activists locked onto another target — his supporters, especially those from white supremacist and nationalist groups suddenly turning out in droves to hail his victory, support crackdowns on immigrants and Muslims and to protest efforts to remove symbols of the Confederacy.

Those reports appear to bolster Trump’s insistence that extremists on the left bore some blame for the clashes in Charlottesville and represent a “problem” nationally. But they also reflect the extent that his own political movement has spurred the violent backlash.

In interviews, law enforcement authorities made clear that Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric and policies — first as a candidate and then as president — helped to create a situation that has escalated so quickly and extensively that they do not have a handle on it.

“It was in that period [as the Trump campaign emerged] that we really became aware of them,” said one senior law enforcement official tracking domestic extremists in a state that has become a front line in clashes between the groups. “These antifa guys were showing up with weapons, shields and bike helmets and just beating the shit out of people. … They’re using Molotov cocktails, they’re starting fires, they’re throwing bombs and smashing windows.”

It goes without saying that Antifa was believed to be carrying out domestic terrorist activities long before Trump was elected. It makes one wonder what President Obama was doing about them while he was in office.

To be sure, Trump shares the blame for the violence by playing political patty cake with right-wing extremists. But Antifa was around long before Trump began to campaign for the presidency. And if local authorities were aware of the potential for violence by Antifa, why weren’t they better prepared?

Antifa appears to have connections to extremist groups overseas.

The purpose of the investigation, according to the April 2016 assessment: To determine whether the U.S.-based anarchists might start committing terrorist bombings like their counterparts in “foreign anarchist extremist movements” in Greece, Italy and Mexico, possibly at the Republican and Democratic conventions that summer.

ome of the antifa activists have gone overseas to train and fight with fellow anarchist organizations, including two Turkey-based groups fighting the Islamic State, according to interviews and internet postings.

In their April 2016 assessment, the DHS and FBI said the anarchist groups would likely become more lethal if “fascist, nationalist, racist or anti-immigrant parties obtain greater prominence or local political power in the United States, leading to anti-racist violent backlash from anarchist extremists.”

The assessment also said the anarchist groups could become more aggressive if they seek to “retaliate violently to a violent act by a white supremacist extremist or group,” they acquire more powerful weapons or they obtain the financial means to travel abroad and learn more violent tactics. CONTINUE AT SITE

More Worker Visas for Less Government A federalist plan to address the growing U.S. labor shortage.

The biggest labor story this Labor Day is the trouble that employers are having finding workers across the country. Friday’s report of a modest gain of only 156,000 new jobs in August doesn’t change that reality even though the jobless rate rose a tick to 4.4%

There are many reasons for the shortage, including drug use among the young, the disincentive to work due to easier disability, and the skills mismatch between what employers need and what kids learn in poor K-12 public schools. But the shortage will increase if the economy grows faster, so it’s good news that some in Congress have ideas to mitigate labor shortages in fields like construction and technology.

Senator Ron Johnson (R., Wis.) recently introduced a bill that would allow states to start visa programs for foreign guest workers that are currently managed by the federal government. The State-Sponsored Visa Pilot Program Act would allow for about 500,000 visas, with 5,000 for each state and the rest divvied up by population. The cap would be indexed to GDP growth. States would be free to decide which skill levels or industries would be eligible—and free not to participate in the program. Rep. Ken Buck (R., Colo.) is working on companion legislation.

Such visas might alleviate a shortage of farm hands in places like California’s Central Valley, which is leaving millions in crops to rot unharvested even as employers are raising wages and offering benefits. In Sen. Johnson’s Wisconsin, the unemployment rate is 3.2%, and manufacturers report thousands of openings. Wisconsin’s boat industry is hunting for mechanics; a state vocational school in Ashland reports that employers around the country are bidding for its graduates in marine mechanics.

The Johnson bill would permit workers to change employers, which would force companies to bid for workers. A worker who came from Canada or elsewhere would not be eligible for welfare such as food stamps. Also included: Restrictions for states whose workers are routinely discovered as working illegally outside the sponsor state.

Legislators in Colorado (jobless rate: 2.4%) and Utah (3.5%) have in past years passed measures to start state worker programs, as a Cato Institute brief on the bill points out, though the federal government has refused to grant legal clarity. The American Action Forum’s Jacqueline Varas reports that allowing state programs would create 900,000 to 1.2 million jobs—for American workers. Bringing in workers from abroad allows companies to grow and expand opportunities for U.S. citizens.

Another benefit would be political accountability. Voters could hold their governors and state legislators responsible for success or failure. The idea also concedes the reality that the labor market in Fort Wayne, Ind., differs from the one in Silicon Valley. States are better able to notice which industries need workers, and tailor the visa eligibility accordingly.

Congress has tied itself in knots for years over immigration because the Members insist on trying to move grand bills to settle every issue rather than discrete bills to address specific problems. The bills collapse of their own weight. Sen. Johnson’s idea would be a good start in addressing the urgent problem of America’s labor shortage.

How’s He Going to Explain This? More evidence that Comey deserved to be fired.By James Freeman

Forgotten in all the media drama and confused White House communications of recent months was the fact that the President had several very good reasons for firing FBI Director James Comey in May. Now comes evidence of another one.

On Wednesday Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina wrote to current FBI Director Christopher Wray asking for additional documents related to Mr. Comey’s decision to exonerate Hillary Clinton in 2016. FBI agents had been investigating Mrs. Clinton for her use of a private server and mishandling of classified information while serving as secretary of State. The lawmakers want more documents because they’ve found evidence in interview transcripts of Mr. Comey’s former senior FBI staff suggesting another gross violation of investigative standards. The letter was made public by the committee on Thursday.

The two senators wrote that according to unredacted portions of the transcripts, which were generated in a separate federal investigation, “in April or early May of 2016, Mr. Comey had already decided he would issue a statement exonerating Secretary Clinton. That was long before FBI agents finished their work. Mr. Comey even circulated an early draft statement to select members of senior FBI leadership. The outcome of an investigation should not be prejudged while FBI agents are still hard at work trying to gather the facts.”

The authors of the letter are both Republicans, but Mr. Graham in particular has frequently been at odds with President Trump. Yet he obviously sees another big problem with Mr. Comey’s handling of the Clinton case. According to Mr. Grassley and Mr. Graham:

As of early May 2016, the FBI had not yet interviewed Secretary Clinton. Moreover, it had yet to finish interviewing sixteen other key witnesses, including Cheryl Mills, Bryan Pagliano, Heather Samuelson, Justin Cooper, and John Bentel.

These individuals had intimate and personal knowledge relating to Secretary Clinton’s non-government server, including helping her build and administer the device. Yet, it appears that the following key FBI interviews had not yet occurred when Mr. Comey began drafting his exoneration statement:

1. May 3, 2016 – Paul Combetta

2. May 12, 2016 – Sean Misko

3. May 17, 2016 – Unnamed CIA employee

4. May 19, 2016 – Unnamed CIA employee