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The Menendez Mistrial The charges were thin against the Iran deal’s main Democratic critic.

Various ethicists are pronouncing shock that a federal jury failed to convict New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez on corruption charges, resulting in a mistrial Thursday after the jury ended up hung 10-2 for acquittal by one juror’s account. But our readers weren’t surprised, since we wrote as early as April 2015 that the charges were thin and deserved “more than a little skepticism.”

The New Jersey Democrat isn’t a model public servant, and the details of his support for his longtime friend Salomon Melgen, a Palm Beach doctor and Democratic Party donor, aren’t pretty. He supported visa applications for Melgen’s overseas girlfriends—Brazilian actresses—and interceded with government officials on behalf of his business interests, among other things.

Few of these facts were in dispute during the nine-week trial, but the question for the jury was whether this behavior is a crime. Prosecutors claimed they amounted to quid-pro-quo corruption, but Mr. Menendez replied that they were routine constituent service or the result of a 25-year friendship.

Most of the jurors sided with the defense, and that’s not surprising after the Supreme Court narrowed the definition of bribery and corruption in its landmark Skilling (2010) and McDonnell (2016) cases. Prosecutors now have to prove a genuine bribe or a specific, clear quid-pro-quo. In Mr. Menendez’s intervention for Melgen over a Medicare coverage decision, the Department of Health and Human Services listened but rejected the Senator’s pleas. Melgen was convicted of Medicare fraud in a separate trial in April.

Want to Spice Up Thanksgiving Dinner? Talk Politics Some families have a rule: no politics at Thanksgiving. But why not? With a few guidelines, it might just be the excitement your dinner needs By Jason Gay

Thanksgiving is coming—and with it, two big, annual, wildly contentious questions:

1. Is canned cranberry sauce actually a food product that should be consumed by human beings?

2. Can we talk politics at Thanksgiving dinner?

I want to go on the record: I like canned cranberry sauce, and I am at least 31% sure it is food.

At the same time, I believe if you shake cranberry sauce out of a can—with a big, disgusting THWUUUPPPPP —and leave it on a chair in the backyard until the year 3012, it will look exactly the same. By then the canned cranberry sauce may even be sentient and raising a family of its own.

Also: I think it’s OK to talk politics at Thanksgiving.

I realize the latter position is controversial. Many reasonable American families try at all costs to avoid politics at the Thanksgiving dinner table.

Some families actually have a rule: no politics at Thanksgiving, and it’s strictly enforced, like the way Mom made you and your spouse sleep in separate rooms until you were married. If you even say the word “politics,” the host will begin wildly waving his or her arms, as if a grizzly bear has rumbled into the kitchen.

Other families simply flee the table when Uncle Billy’s had a few cocktails and gets going about something he heard on talk radio.

It’s definitely safer to leave the conversation to more easygoing topics, like:


Netflix shows we’re all watching.

Possible salmonella poisoning.

Serial killers loose in the neighborhood.

In-laws we don’t like.

Watching football has traditionally been an easy way to escape Thanksgiving political chitchat. The Detroit Lions were basically invented to help Americans avoid speaking to their families at Thanksgiving.

Thanks, Lions!

But even football is political this season. You’ve seen the headlines. You’ve read the tweets.

ELECTIONS ARE COMING: Seth Leibsohn for Congress

Seth Leibsohn for Congress Arizonans should send Leibsohn to the House of Representatives.
By Andrew C. McCarthy — http://www.nationalreview.com/node/453802/print

I can’t say I was vested in any of the Republicans who were thumped in Virginia, New Jersey, and New York City on Election Day. I sensed, though, that last week’s off-year, not-exactly-bellwether contests were mainly a matter of blue states acting blue (and, as Jim Geraghty illustrated regarding Virginia, getting bluer). That said, there’s no doubt the GOP took a battering ten months into the tumultuous Trump presidency. The 2018 alarms are already sounding.

On that score, I’ve been meaning to note that my good friend of many years, Seth Leibsohn, has thrown his hat in the ring for the congressional seat in Arizona’s ninth district, which includes Maricopa County. His campaign website is here. It will be a competitive race, especially if Democrats remain as energized as they now appear to be. Still, the thought of Seth running for the House makes me feel better about the midterms . . . and the reality of Seth in Congress would make me feel better for the country.

A number of us NR-types know Seth from his years as former education secretary Bill Bennett’s radio producer, co-host, and sometime co-author (including a book, The Fight of Our Lives). Seth has been settled in Arizona for a number of years now. He co-hosts a radio program there with Chris Buskirk, and he’s a senior fellow at a West Coast conservative powerhouse, the Claremont Institute (of which Seth was vice president, as he was at Empower America).

As that pedigree implies, Seth is as solid a conservative as you’ll find — on policy points and on the things that really matter, such as the defense of liberty and Western civilization. He will promote an Arizona that has more say in how it is governed, and an America that is unabashedly proud to be American because of what that means about equality and dignity, about how we best lift every person up by unleashing every person’s ingenuity.

Seth would also come to Washington as a conservative who can work with the Trump administration. Here at National Review, our views about the president vary, but generally within a range from opposition to grudging acceptance, which is natural because he is transactional and we are not. Seth, to the contrary, has been a Trump supporter from an early stage. In American Greatness: How Conservative Inc. Missed the 2016 Election and What the D.C. Establishment Needs to Learn, the book he co-authored with Buskirk, he acknowledged Donald Trump’s flaws but found them, in historical context, to be forgivable, or at least tolerable. He thus chided the president’s conservative critics — “critics” is putting it mildly — for failing to distinguish Trump the man from the policy agenda Trump the candidate represented to his supporters.

NeverTrump Makes a Left Turn By Julie Kelly

National Review in February 2016 published “Against Trump,” a special issue that made a reasoned case for why conservatives should oppose Donald Trump’s nomination as the Republican candidate for president. Nearly two-dozen conservative writers and influencers weighed in; most of them cogently—and correctly—explained that Trump was not a “true conservative.” He had supported progressive causes in the past (including abortion and single-payer health care), and did not possess the intellectual mooring that conservatives value. Some writers faulted Trump for his boorish, impulsive temperament and populist rhetoric.

It was a measured assessment by fair-minded people, some of whom—such as Cal Thomas and Thomas Sowell—have helped attract millions of devotees to the conservative movement. Young, energetic newcomers, including Ben Domenech and Katie Pavlich were also featured. Some highlights:

Ben Domenech (editor, The Federalist): “Conservatives should reject Trump’s hollow, Euro-style identity politics. But conservatives have far more to learn from his campaign than many might like to admit. The Trump voter is moderate, disaffected, with patriotic instincts. He feels disconnected from the GOP and other broken public institutions, left behind by a national political elite that no longer believes he matters.”

Mark Helprin (novelist): “He doesn’t know the Constitution, history, law, political philosophy, nuclear strategy, diplomacy, defense, economics beyond real estate, or even, despite his low-level-mafioso comportment, how ordinary people live.”

Katie Pavlich (editor, Townhall): “Trump’s liberal positions aren’t in the distant past—he has openly promoted them on the campaign trail. Conservatives have a serious decision to make. Do we truly believe in our long-held principles and insist that politicians have records demonstrating fealty to them?”

Of course, Trump went on to win both the nomination and the election. Several of the writers, grown-ups who love their country more than they love proving they were right, managed to move on in life, staying true to their conservative principles while praising and criticizing the president as the occasion warranted.

But a handful of other alleged conservatives, who joined forces before the general election to form the “NeverTrump” movement, saw an opportunity. Rather than keeping a much-needed policy check on an unpredictable president and gobsmacked Congress, they positioned themselves as “conservative” Trump foes, and, in the process, boosted their number of followers on social media and number of appearances on cable news shows.

People such as Bill Kristol, Jennifer Rubin, and Bret Stephens have carved out a niche for themselves as the go-to source for reporters to get blistering commentary about Trump, or his administration, or his family, or his congressional allies, or his voters. Kristol’s number of Twitter followers has nearly tripled, as he churns out hourly rants that veer from impeachment pleas to far-fetched conspiracy theories on Russia, Mike Pence, and Trump’s inner circle. They promote the darkest narrative, not just of Trumpism, but of Republicans in general, mimicking the same, weary warnings Democrats have shrieked for decades—that Republicans are racist, sexist, homophobic, and plain stupid. These self-proclaimed guardians of America’s modern conservative legacy have ceased talking about anything of substance. They are as reactionary and emotive as high school sophomores.

It is all Trump, all the time. In the process, they have abandoned both their party and their principles.

Virginia Is for Haters The author of the ugliest political ad of 2017 is happy because it worked.

If there were an award for ugliness in this year’s election campaigns, Cristóbal Alex would win hands down. Mr. Alex is president of the Latino Victory Fund, which released a television ad featuring minority children fleeing a sinister white man in a pickup truck trying to run them down. The truck bore a bumper sticker for Ed Gillespie, the GOP candidate for Virginia Governor who ended up losing. Though the ad was pulled before the election, Mr. Alex said in the Washington Post on Thursday he’d run it again.

Mr. Alex says Mr. Gillespie’s support for not tearing down the state’s confederate monuments, his ads targeting the MS-13 gang responsible for several murders in Virginia and his attack on his rival for not supporting a bill to ban sanctuary cities add up to “hate.” Leave aside that Democrat Ralph Northam flip-flopped and endorsed the Gillespie position on sanctuary cities. The idea that an attack on a Latino criminal gang is an attack on all Latinos is an insult to law-abiding Latinos.

Mr. Alex claims that he “never intended to paint all Gillespie voters as racist,” a subtlety we missed. But he also concedes what really matters: He’s proud of the ad because he says it was “undeniably effective” in helping Mr. Northam prevail. Most of the progressive arbiters of political decorum who denounced Mr. Gillespie never objected to Mr. Alex’s ad, so expect more in the future.

Conservative Newcomer Wins in Kansas After Incumbent Tried to Bully Her Out of Race By Debra Heine

One of the few bright spots for conservatives in Tuesday’s elections happened in Overland Park, Kansas, where conservative newcomer Gina Burke beat an entrenched establishment figure running for a fifth term on Ward 4 City Council.

Normally, a race for city council generates no interest nationally, but in this case the incumbent’s behavior was so spectacularly awful that he deserves recognition.

Both before and after Burke announced her candidacy, Terry Goodman resorted to playing hardball against the 34-year-old mother of two:

Burke described in a long letter to Fourth Ward residents how Goodman tried to pressure her out of running:

I filed for office in late May, just a couple of days prior to the deadline. Within just a few hours, I began to receive numerous calls on my work number from Mr. Goodman. He then attempted to call my cell phone. My first reaction was, “This can’t be normal,” but I ultimately picked up my work phone, just to get the calls to stop.

Councilman Goodman asked why I was running. Not desiring to give my opponent my entire platform, I simply responded, “to get more involved.” He didn’t particularly like that answer and wanted to meet that night. I refused.

The next day, the unsolicited text messages started. You can see the screenshots on my website, ginaburkeforop.com. At first, he expressed frustration when I initially refused to meet:

“I regret that you are not willing to meet.”

Then it was exasperation that I desired to run, with an assumption that I had been recruited, which I wasn’t:

“Just still curious why you are so committed to running unless you have been recruited — especially when there are so many other ways to serve, become involved & learn about the city.”

The texts kept coming. He ranted about a candidate for Mayor before proceeding with a lecture:

“To the best of my knowledge, you have not reached out to the Mayor, City Manager, Chamber of Commerce, etc. — nor have you been attending City Council meetings as the other candidates have been doing. As I said, it’s unfortunate that you did not call me before filing to express your interest, and that at you are unwilling to meet tonight.”

Interestingly, I didn’t know I had to seek permission from anyone to run for office, nor that calling those in power was a prerequisite to running for office, including the man I was seeking to unseat. Perhaps most humorously, he said:

“Gina, I’m not afraid of losing. It’s just such a hassel (his spelling) and unnecessary expense when you draw a last minute opponent who is running “to be involved.”

Then, more phone calls. Another Councilman — Dan Stock from Ward 6 — called me. Mr. Stock said that it would be nearly impossible to beat Terry, but I should consider what I could get in return if I didn’t run. That very night, Mr. Goodman tried to call me two more times. In between, a THIRD councilman — Fred Spears from Ward 4 — tried to call, as well. So now I had 1/4 of the Overland Park City Council attempting to contact me — and all I had done was file!

Amazingly, Councilman Goodman also showed up at my house. Yes, that’s right — the day after I filed, I also found Mr. Goodman’s card on my door. What in the world? CONTINUE AT SITE

The NeverTrump Nerds’ Quest to Save Mueller By Julie Kelly

The shrewd, erudite club of NeverTrump “conservatives” has finally hatched a plan to reclaim the Republican Party from Donald Trump and win the hearts and minds of Republicans across the country. Yes, this wily gang—who named themselves “Meeting of the Concerned” because it sounds better than “Republican AV Club of Geeks and Losers”—launched their first strike yesterday and holy sh*t, Trump and his allies in Congress are gonna be shaking in their loafers.

Here’s the MOC message: SAVE MUELLER!

Yes, these brave warriors wrote a harshly worded letter posted on an obscure website that calls for “House Speaker Ryan and Senate Majority Leader McConnell to make clear, both publicly and privately, that they support the Mueller investigation and regard any interference with that investigation, including dismissal of the special counsel or preemptive pardons of investigation targets, as completely unacceptable.”

The letter claims that with “indictments announced on Monday, the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller into Russian interference with the 2016 election is now entering a new and critical phase.”

I can only imagine how this winning message will be embraced throughout Trump Country, from VFW halls in western Pennsylvania to country clubs in suburban Chicago: “Finally!” they will cheer. “Someone in the Republican Party is hearing us and voicing our biggest concern, which is to make sure a costly and potentially inconsequential investigation into last year’s election will continue. We don’t need Congress and the administration to tackle health care costs, or tax reform, or national security, or even investigate the corruption of the previous administration. No sirree, making sure Bob Mueller keeps his job is priority number one!”

A powerful mantra will ring from coast to coast: SAVE MUELLER!

So, who are these masterminds, these intuitive souls who have so adeptly captured the mood of an uneasy electorate and delivered this devastating blow to the pro-Trump flank? According to the Washington Post, the lucky newspaper that got the scoop and reported the explosive news yesterday, MOC was born last February: “With the shock of President Trump’s victory still fresh, a small group of libertarians and conservatives began meeting every two weeks to discuss their next moves.”

MOC started off with just a few sore losers, er, powerful political operatives, including Bill Kristol, founder of the Weekly Standard and the most vocal of the NeverTrump “conservatives” and Evan McMullin, the insufferable nobody Kristol drafted to run against Trump. “The meeting grew to include conservative columnists like Mona Charen, Max Boot and John Ziegler, and former U.S. House members such as South Carolina’s Bob Inglis and Florida’s David Jolly.”

Wow. Must be just like Davos.

But that’s not all. MOC has other heavy-hitters such as Mindy Finn, McMullin’s former running mate and an alleged GOP strategist. “GOP strategist” now seems to be the catch-all phrase for every NeverTrumper so they have some cred to appear on CNN and MSNBC. Finn told the Post,“there’s a leadership vacuum.” (Oh, Mindy, consider it filled!) “Ideally, we’d have more members of Congress standing up for the rule of law, being willing to challenge the president. Given that they’re not doing that, we felt that groups like this need to exist and need to speak out.”

Swamp operative Brazile jumps the crooked Hillary ship By J. Marsolo

Donna Brazile has admitted what everyone suspected and most of us knew. Hillary rigged the primaries with her control of the DNC to beat Bernie Sanders.

The DNC was in debt, needed money, so Hillary took control by raising funds under an agreement with the DNC as follows:

[T]he Joint Fund-Raising Agreement [was] between the DNC, the Hillary Victory Fund, and Hillary for America.

The agreement – signed by Amy Dacey, the former CEO of the DNC, and Robby Mook with a copy to Marc Elias – specified that in exchange for raising money and investing in the DNC, Hillary would control the party’s finances, strategy, and all the money raised. Her campaign had the right of refusal of who would be the party communications director, and it would make final decisions on all the other staff. The DNC also was required to consult with the campaign about all other staffing, budgeting, data, analytics, and mailings.

Note that the attorney is Marc Elias, whose firm handled the payments to Fusion GPS for the Steele dossier used to smear Trump. Note the pattern: Hillary used money to control the DNC to beat Sanders and used over $10 million to collude with Russians to smear Trump.

Brazile sanctimoniously bloviates:

I had promised Bernie when I took the helm of the Democratic National Committee after the convention that I would get to the bottom of whether Hillary Clinton’s team had rigged the nomination process, as a cache of emails stolen by Russian hackers and posted online had suggested. I’d had my suspicions from the moment I walked in the door of the DNC a month or so earlier, based on the leaked emails. But who knew if some of them might have been forged? I needed to have solid proof, and so did Bernie.

By this statement, Brazile confirms the veracity of the WikiLeaks emails showing that Hillary rigged the primaries to win. The Russians did not make up the emails. Brazile said she followed the trail of the money, which is always the best course when investigating Hillary, and concluded:

I told Bernie I had found Hillary’s Joint Fundraising Agreement. I explained that the cancer was that she had exerted this control of the party long before she became its nominee[.]

Brazile followed the money and easily concluded that Hillary controlled the DNC, which allowed her to control the primaries. Brazile did a better job of investigating Hillary than Comey and the FBI. Maybe Sessions should hire Brazile to follow the money from the Russians and Canadians to Hillary’s foundation and Bill Clinton’s speech gigs in Moscow for approving the sale of 20% of our uranium to the Russians.

Brazile, as a CNN contributor, fed debate questions to Hillary. Thus, it is noteworthy that Brazile, a longtime Democrat operative, has come out to criticize Hillary. She has criticized Hillary in stronger terms than McConnell, Ryan, and most Republicans.

A Tale of Two Republicans Ed Gillespie takes a far more constructive approach to Trump than Jeff Flake does. By Kimberley A. Strassel

Jeff Flake last week took to the Senate floor to proclaim that since he would not be “complicit or silent” in the Trump presidency, he will not seek re-election. The first-term Arizona senator bemoaned that as a “traditional Republican,” he had a “narrower and narrow path” to office in this Trump world.

The speech earned Mr. Flake all the plaudits you’d expect, from all the usual suspects. Conservative Never Trumpers and the media “resistance” believe the president is destroying the Republican Party, the country, democracy and the universe—in that order. Those who join in their daily denouncements of Mr. Trump receive standing ovations. Those who don’t are falsely accused, to quote Mr. Flake in his speech, of “complete and unquestioning loyalty” and duly excommunicated from “moral” conservative society.

Yes, Mr. Trump is a wrecking ball; and yes, conservatives have a right and a duty to worry about the damage he may do to the Republican Party and its principles. Where the Never Trumpers err is in insisting that the only response is full-on resistance, shaming and utter denunciation. Not only is that approach simplistic, it is a proven loser.

Mr. Flake is a case in point. Among elected officials, he is rivaled perhaps only by Ohio Gov. John Kasich as loudest Never Trumper. The senator doesn’t like the president’s views on trade or immigration (join the club). But like Mr. Kasich, he has rarely bothered to spell out specific areas where he disagreed with Mr. Trump, or to note the significant points of agreement (deregulation, judges, etc.). His is a blanket condemnation. In Mr. Flake’s new book, “Conscience of a Conservative,” he compares Mr. Trump’s politics to a “late-night infomercial.”

This sweeping reproof was a sign to Trump supporters in Arizona that Mr. Flake either didn’t know or didn’t care why they support this president. So they wrote him off—much as he wrote off Mr. Trump. Mr. Flake was never going to get Democratic support, and once he alienated half of his state’s Republican voters, of course his path to re-election was narrow. Mr. Flake blew himself out of office, and he is now in a much poorer position to make any difference in the shape of Washington policies or the future of his party.

Contrast this approach to that of Ed Gillespie, whom the Never Trumpers are branding a sellout. The longtime (traditional) Republican nearly won a Senate seat in Virginia three years ago and now is running for governor in the only Southern state Hillary Clinton carried last year. Virginia is a swing state for Republicans—much tougher than Arizona. Its voters are down on Mr. Trump, and Mr. Gillespie faces a well-funded Democratic candidate in Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam.

Yet the latest polls suggest Mr. Gillespie could pull this off. He’s broadened his path to office by employing the very different strategy of attempting to navigate—and where possible, unite—the GOP’s Trump and non-Trump factions.

A fresh round of insults for Trump-supporters from George W. Bush By J. Marsolo

The Democrats viciously attacked George W. Bush during his presidency as an illegitimate president because of the Florida recount. The Democrats and their cheerleaders in the media and Hollywood called him stupid and a moron and compared him to Hitler. Harry Reid called him a loser and declared the Iraq war lost.

The Republican and conservative voters stuck with Bush, re-elected him in 2004, and supported his policies.

After his election, Obama blamed all the problems with the economy, war, and everything else on Bush. Bush remained silent. He never defended himself, nor did he criticize Obama for scandals such as Benghazi, Fast and Furious, the IRS harassment of conservative groups, and racial division.

On October 19, 2017, Bush gave a speech in which he criticized President Trump and Trump voters and supporters. Bush said:

Bullying and prejudice in our public life sets a national tone, provides permission for cruelty and bigotry, and compromises the moral education of children.


We’ve seen nationalism distorted into nativism, Forgotten the dynamism that immigration has always brought to America.

Bush had no problem with the Democrats for eight years calling him stupid, a loser, and Hitler. But now he talks about “bullying, prejudice, cruelty, and bigotry” without having the courage to say who is doing the bullying, prejudice, cruelty, and bigotry. Why didn’t Bush complain when Hillary called Trump supporters “deplorables,” or when Obama said those who didn’t vote for him cling to guns and religion?

Worse, Bush labels the current support for building the wall and enforcing immigration laws as “nativism,” which means that the Trump-supporters who support enforcing our immigration laws are nativists. Nativism meant promoting the rights and interests of citizens, but now it has acquired a pejorative meaning as being anti-immigrant and bigoted, which is how Bush meant it without distinguishing between legal and illegal immigration.

Maybe Bush does not understand that enforcing our immigration laws, such as building a wall, is aimed at stopping illegal immigration. This saves American lives and secures our borders. Bush casually says we have “forgotten the dynamism that immigration brought to America,” as if President Trump and his supporters wanted to stop all immigration, legal and illegal.

If this is not bad enough, Bush joined the Democrats in the “Russia collusion” drivel:

America is experiencing the sustained attempt by a hostile power to feed and exploit our country’s divisions. According to our intelligence services, the Russian government has made a project of turning Americans against each other. This effort is broad, systematic and stealthy, it’s conducted across a range of social media.