Comey’s Immunity Deals Plus, the real story on stop-and-frisk. By James Freeman

FBI Director James Comey appears Wednesday before the House Judiciary Committee. The big question is why—if he believes Hillary Clinton committed no prosecutable offense—he has given immunity deals to no fewer than five Clinton associates. A Journal editorial cites Beth Wilkinson, who represents Clinton aides Cheryl Mills and Heather Samuelson, saying the immunity deals were designed to protect her clients against “classification” disputes. “This is an admission that both women knew their unsecure laptops had been holding sensitive information for more than a year,” adds the editorial board.
Donald Trump is right about the “stop and frisk” police tactic and on Monday night he was “unfairly second-guessed by a moderator who didn’t give the viewing public all the facts,” notes a separate editorial. NBC’s Lester Holt and Mrs. Clinton called the tactic unconstitutional. “They are wrong,” adds former prosecutor and New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani . “Stop and frisk is constitutional and the law of the land,” based on an 8-1 decision of the Supreme Court, Terry v. Ohio .

Speaking of Monday night’s debate, Jason Riley saw it as a clear Clinton victory and so did William Galston. But Holman Jenkins says the event helped clarify that this election “will resolve into very flawed outsider vs. very flawed insider—and will be decided by the American people in that vein.”

Trump and Iraq What’s wrong with “fact checking”? Here’s a case study. James Taranto

This column has long argued that the journalistic genre known as “fact checking” is a corruption of journalism. “The ‘fact check’ is opinion journalism or criticism, masquerading as straight news,” we wrote in 2008. “The object is not merely to report facts but to pass a judgment.”

Eight years later, we’d amend that slightly. “Fact checking” doesn’t pretend to be straight news exactly, but something more authoritative. The conceit of the “fact checker” is that he has some sort of heightened level of objectivity qualifying him to render verdicts in matters of public controversy.

Lately the “fact checkers” have been waging a campaign to portray Donald Trump as a contemporaneous supporter of the Iraq war, contrary to his assertions that he was an opponent. In Monday’s debate, Hillary Clinton pleaded for their help: “I hope the fact checkers are turning up the volume and really working hard. Donald supported the invasion of Iraq.” Moderator Lester Holt obliged, basing a question to Trump on the premise that the matter was settled: “You supported the war in Iraq before the invasion.”

Trump somewhat inarticulately rebutted the claim: “The record shows that I’m right. When I did an interview with Howard Stern, very lightly, the first time anybody’s asked me that, I said, very lightly, I don’t know, maybe, who knows.”

What Trump actually said on Sept. 11, 2002, when Stern asked him if he favored an invasion, was: “Yeah, I guess so.” That was an affirmative statement, but a highly equivocal one. Is it fair or accurate to characterize it as sufficient to establish that Trump was a “supporter”? In our opinion, no. He might well have had second thoughts immediately after getting off the air with Stern.

He certainly had second thoughts in the ensuing months, and he came to oppose the invasion long before Mrs. Clinton did. Even was unable to come up with any other Trump statement supportive of the decision to go to war. By December 2003, according to the site’s timeline, Trump was observing (in an interview with Fox News Channel’s Neil Cavuto) that “a lot of people” were “questioning the whole concept of going in, in the first place.” Five years later, according to, Trump was calling for President Bush’s impeachment because, as he told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, “he got us into the war with lies.” CONTINUE AT SITE

FBI Identifies Men Sought in Bomb Bag Video The two men work for EgyptAir, flew home shortly after the Sept. 17 bombing, officials say By Devlin Barrett

Two men wanted as witnesses in the New York bombing investigation after they removed a bag apparently left by the bomber have been identified by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, according to officials close to the case.

The two men work for EgyptAir and flew home shortly after the Sept. 17 bombing, officials said. Investigators are now trying to arrange an interview with the men in Egypt, the officials said.

The FBI considers the men witnesses, not suspects, in the investigation, and agents have been trying to identify and speak to the men for more than a week. Finding them had become a priority for investigators probing the detonation of a homemade bomb in the Manhattan neighborhood of Chelsea that injured 31 people.

After that explosion, passersby noticed another suspicious device four blocks away, and when police inspected it they discovered it was a pressure-cooker bomb very similar to the one that had exploded earlier.

Video from the neighborhood that night shows the bombing suspect, Ahmad Khan Rahami, wheeling a duffel bag down the street, then leaving it on the sidewalk. A short time later, two men approach, open the bag, remove the homemade bomb wrapped in a garbage bag, and walk away with the bag. Officials say the two men may have inadvertently disarmed the bomb when they picked it up and removed it from the duffel bag.

The FBI has wanted to talk to the men to find out what they saw and heard that night, and, they hope, retrieve the bag and see if there is any additional physical evidence still on it. CONTINUE AT SITE

A Growth-Friendly Climate Change Proposal Washington state’s ballot initiative would reward conservation without hurting business, so why does the left oppose it? By Greg Ip

Climate change landed in a Washington, D.C., court this week as Republican governors and business groups sued to block President Barack Obama’s sweeping regulation of greenhouse gas emissions.

The lawsuit is only the latest example of how polarized politics have made it so difficult to reconcile two divergent priorities: climate change and economic growth.

Across the country, however, voters are being offered a plan that does just that.

In November, Washington state will vote on the country’s first revenue-neutral carbon tax. By embedding the cost of carbon dioxide emissions in the price consumers and businesses pay for energy, such a tax automatically encourages conservation and makes renewable energy more appealing, without regulations and subsidies that distort investment and undercut growth. Because the revenue is used to cut other taxes, it doesn’t crimp incomes or undermine business competitiveness.

In environmentally conscientious Washington state, Initiative 732, as the ballot initiative is known, ought to be a slam-dunk. It isn’t—a poll shows voters roughly split. The reasons are a window into why climate policy is so polarizing.

The ​resistance comes not just from the usual opponents on the right, but even more strikingly from the left. The reason: Many environmentalists see climate change as an opportunity to remake the economic order. They want to use carbon taxes to fund renewable energy and green technology and bolster the incomes of workers and communities they say are most hurt by climate change. Whatever the merits of these goals, the effect is to equate climate policy with bigger government, which makes it harder to achieve broad-based support.

Nearly a century ago the British economist Arthur Pigou advanced the idea of stamping out socially destructive activity by taxing it.

Washington state’s proposed levy is a textbook “Pigouvian tax” which should come as no surprise since it’s the brainchild of an economist: Yoram Bauman, who previously taught economics at the University of Washington. He now makes his living doing stand-up comedy about economics (One liner: “You might be an economist if you refuse to sell your children because they’ll be worth more later.”).

Democratic Governor Jay Inslee had proposed a cap-and-trade plan modeled on California’s, but couldn’t get it passed through either the Democratic-controlled state House or the Republican-controlled Senate.

So Mr. Bauman’s group, Carbon Washington, put forth I-732 as an alternative. It would impose a $15 tax per ton of carbon dioxide in the first year, rising to $25 in the second, and thereafter by 3.5% after inflation annually to $100 in current dollars.

The tax would add 25 cents to the price of a gallon of gasoline and boost the average monthly electric bill by about $8. All the revenue—roughly $2 billion a year—would be returned to taxpayers via a one-percentage point cut in the state sales tax, elimination of a business tax, and a tax rebate of up to $1,500 a year to 460,000 low-income workers.

The Sightline Institute, a Seattle-based environmental think tank, reckons the tax is just high enough to achieve the state’s statutory emissions reduction goal: 50% below 1990 levels by 2050.

I-732 is modeled on a similar levy introduced in British Columbia in 2008 that now stands at $23 per metric ton. A study by Werner Antweiler and Sumeet Gulati at the University of British Columbia found the tax has curbed the average person’s fuel consumption by 7% and boosted the average car’s fuel efficiency by 4%.

​Given all that, why don’t more environmentalists support it? In part, internal politics: Some groups are miffed they didn’t have more say in the design of I-732. Others think I-732 won’t pass and their energy is better devoted to politically more viable initiatives. Having failed to pass cap-and-trade legislation, Mr. Inslee has, like Mr. Obama, since moved to cap some emissions via regulation.

But the main reason is that I-732 sends its revenue back to taxpayers, whereas environmentalists would like the revenue for other priorities. The Washington Environmental Council, which doesn’t support I-732, says revenue from any climate initiative should be plowed into the “clean energy economy…infrastructure for clean, abundant water and healthy forests” and assistance for “the most vulnerable workers and communities.”

Rather than compromise, other climate activists have sought to oust their political opponents—usually Republicans. CONTINUE AT SITE

Benjamin Netanyahu Booed at ‘Hamilton’ Performance By Tom Teodorczuk

Hamilton, in addition to being an award-winning Broadway phenomenon, is notoriously bipartisan show.

“I feel like this really crosses political lines,” Lin-Manuel Miranda told me a year ago. “Dick Cheney and his wife came to the show and said wonderful things about it. I had a wonderful talk with Laura Bush and [a] Bush daughter about the show. Peggy Noonan has seen it. The reminder that our Founders were human is something that everyone can get behind regardless of our political affiliations.”

Yet that wasn’t the case last Saturday when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in New York to attend the UN General Assembly, went to see the show.

When he took his seat, accompanied by Secret Service guards and allegedly Mossad, Netanyahu was booed and heckled over Palestine as well as being loudly cheered.

Lynch Mob in Lichfield: Pappe & Co head to Israel-bashing conference at city’s cathedral

Lichfield, England-perhaps most famous as the birthplace of Dr Samuel Johnson, is a pretty city in the English Midlands. It’s the location of a medieval cathedral, notable for its unusual feature of three spires.

And it is on the premises of that cathedral that a conference (plus related book sale) is to be held over the weekend of 7-9 October (hat tip: Ian G).

As seen at left, the title of the conference is “Holding Palestine in the Light,”which reflects the despicably one-sided nature of the enterprise, for the overwhelming majority of the speakers are notable, to a greater or lesser degree, for their antipathy towards Israel.

That sad fact reflects the prejudices of the apparent driving force behind the conference, the Dean of Lichfield.

Explains the conference’s website:

“The weekend is hosted by the Very Revd. Adrian Dorber: Dean of Lichfield and Diocesan Co-ordinator for the Friends of the Holy Land, with longstanding connections to Palestine & Israel where he led both Pilgrimages and study tours.”

Dorber has held the post of Dean since 2005. Before that, we learn here,

“he was Director of Ministries and Training in the Durham Diocese, Senior Chaplain and Lecturer at Portsmouth University and served in parishes in Reading and Bracknell. He is a Trustee of the Foundation for Church Leadership, a Governor of Staffordshire University, Chairman of Governors of Lichfield Cathedral School and a member of the Lichfield Festival Board. He serves on the West Midlands Training Partnership and chairs the Diocesan Local Ministry Governing Body. He is deeply interested in the impact cathedrals have on Church and nation and how cathedrals can use their unique opportunities for mission and regeneration. Adrian was co-opted onto the AEC Executive in March 2011 and elected in June 2011. He was appointed as Chairman in July 2015. In addition to chairing the AEC, Adrian leads on cathedrals-related research”.

Below, in bold type, is the list of speakers as given on the conference website:

Professor Ilan Pappé: Israeli born leading historian at Exeter University. He has written many books on the conflict.

If there is one participant in the conference who surely doesn’t require an introduction it is the reprehensible Pappe. His topic is “‘Palestine is Still an Issue’ – why Palestine is a central issue affecting global events”.

The outrageous One State Declaration that he co-authored in 2007 is indicative of his vile attitude.

Comments below each bold typed profile, and not in bold type,are my observations.

Ahmed Masoud: is a Palestinian writer, director and academic based in the UK; he has written plays and a debut novel set in Palestine and Gaza.

At the “literary dinner” on Friday, 7 October entitled ‘Gaza in Literary Fiction” that opens the conference, Ahmed Masoud and Hannah Khalil will mention their published works. The session will include a film, “Britain in Palestine 1917-1948”.

Hannah Khalil: born of Palestinian/Irish parents, she has written a number of plays promoting the cause of Palestinians and other Arabs.

That Friday dinner will be followed on Saturday, 8 October with one of only two free sessions on the conference programme. Here’s how it’s billed:

Sumud Exhibition, with sale of goods from the Holy Land including hourly screenings of: ‘Britain in Palestine 1917-1948’ and ‘The Suffering Church’

Read about ‘Sumud’ here: it is clear that this session will consist entirely of anti-Israel pro-Arab propaganda.

Steve Kates: Close But No Cigar

The pundit class seems to agree that Hillary Clinton, if she did not actually ‘win’ the first presidential debate, did better than Trump, while online polls suggest the wider public gave the nod to her rival. What’s certain is that the Republican has plenty of ammunition at hand for their next two encounters.
I cannot deny that I was disappointed at the end of the first presidential debate. Trump ought to have put her away with so many issues opened up for which there are answers aplenty. He went after her in the first half and drove her to the edge of the field but then let her back.

So let me think about this a bit more. First, the totally one-sided “moderating” really irritated. The issues that will matter, looking forward for the next four years, do not include where Obama was born or what Donald Trump shows on his tax form. These are not policy matters and do not much matter. What counts are the things that were not touched upon — Benghazi, her public email server which has allowed every foreign intelligence agency to read every email she sent, the open border that is not being sealed and would not be by Clinton, and her inveterate lying about everything large and small. These were not brought into the mix by the moderator.

Second, I think Trump is conscious of the Romney experience. Mitt Romney won the first debate, then didn’t win the election. If there is anything that Trump has shown, it is that he gets his timing right. I thought he let Clinton off the hook in a number of places which he ought to have driven an armoured column through, but didn’t. I don’t know if it was deliberate but, on purpose or not, he will be back for the second and third events. What did Hillary learn from this? Nothing that I think can help her, while Trump learned a lot.

Third, the Trump I saw was not the Trump I believe he can be. The Trump others saw for the first time was, however, someone who does not scare the horses and had as presidential a look about him as one could wish. That Trump has won every one of the online polls which asked who won the debate says something about the common expectation which he more than seems to have filled.

Fourth, Hillary’s desire to raise taxes on “the rich” and increase the minimum wage are massive disasters that would ruin the working lives of many, especially those at the bottom. Trump, on the other hand, wants to lower taxes and remove regulations on business. Hillary panders to the ignorant while Trump has a more sophisticated view of how a capitalist system works. It is not a zero-sum game in the way it is discussed by Clinton. Adding to that, his aim to re-negotiate the various trade deals, and have other nations contribute to the cost of their defence by the United States. These are the kinds of changes that really can make the American economy succeed. Nothing that Hillary says (or has ever done), makes you think she has much of an idea how things work, other than via various forms of patronage and corruption.

In all, I wish it had been more of a win for Trump. But on that very day the polls suggested the Electoral College for the first time rolled in his favour. He has until the start of November to build on what he has achieved, and there is no reason to think he cannot do what needs to be done. And there is always the possibility that the people who are voting understand that they are not selecting a debating team but the person who will lead their nation through one of the most perilous times in its history.


On 9/11 Americans recalled the 15th anniversary of the vicious al Qaeda attack on the United States that took 2800 lives. It was yet another day in infamy. Although largely forgotten in the public memory bank, the Taliban of Afghanistan harbored the terrorists and assisted in the planning of the attack. President George W. Bush’s final act of retaliation was to strike back at the Taliban.

For 15 years U.S. troops have been on Afghan soil, albeit numbers have dwindled to about 8,000 from 150,000. What is revealing at this time is that the Taliban have launched an offensive to take a major provincial capital, a move, if successful, that would mark the most significant Taliban victory since the U.S. invasion. This is merely a rehearsal for Taliban troop movements, including the swallowing of large swaths of territory in Helmand province, a place where hundreds of NATO troops died.

A loss of provincial capitals would be catastrophic for the U.S. backed Afghan government. Moreover, if the Taliban gain effective control of the country – a not implausible scenario – extremist groups such as ISIS and al Qaeda can reconstitute their Afghan sanctuaries spreading death and destruction in the region.

The question is what will the Obama administration do about the deteriorating situation. The answer, “nothing”. President Obama is intent on the withdrawal of American troops from the region however precarious the withdrawal may be. As the president has noted, we are no longer fighting wars in the Middle East. That is true, as far as it goes. But the wars continue with or without the U.S.. American interests are now in the hands of putative enemies.

While many will say “good riddance,” this isolationist temptation also means we will be obliged to fight terrorists another day on terms favorable to them. Covering one’s eyes to the horrors in the region doesn’t make them go away. Yet this is the policy the president has outlined as his legacy.

If there is to be an American “recovery” in the next administration, it will have to be based on a foundation of national trust. Afghan leaders have seen a rise and a fall in the U.S. commitment to their nation. They remain unclear about U.S. policy. There are, presidential precautions about the terms of engagement against the enemy. There is also the president’s distemper over any disagreement in policy.

Israel Inks Historic Gas Deal with Jordan At Perilous Time How the Israeli Navy is preparing for war with Hezbollah. Ari Lieberman

Israel this week signed a historic agreement with Jordan to supply the energy-starved kingdom with natural gas from its Leviathan gas field. The deal is worth a reported $10 billion and has instantly transformed the Jewish state into an energy exporter. In addition to the obvious pecuniary benefits to the Israeli economy, the agreement promotes regional stability by creating an energy and economic interdependence.

Israel is now looking to sign energy deals with two other regional players of import, Greece and Cyprus. Israel’s energy minister plans on traveling to Athens on Wednesday to cement agreements. The Israeli plan centers on laying a network of pipes so that natural gas can be shipped to these nations as well as other European countries. Currently, much of Europe relies on Russian gas and an alternative source would be welcome. Even Turkey, which recently exchanged ambassadors with Israel after a long hiatus, has expressed interest in cooperating with Israel in the energy sector.

Israel currently operates and lays claim to four gas fields off its coast. Two small ones are located off the shores of Ashkelon while the two larger ones – called Tamar and Leviathan – are located in the north, approximately 90 miles west of Haifa.

Leviathan should be fully operational within a few years while the other fields are already supplying Israel with natural gas. Israel derives approximately 60 percent of its electricity needs through natural gas. Energy officials estimate that since the gas began flowing just over a decade ago, Israel has saved approximately 35.5 billion shekels which translates to $9.6 billion.

The welcome news however, comes with cost. Lebanon, which is controlled by Hezbollah, which in turn receives its marching orders from Iran, has laid claim to Israel’s energy finds. Lebanon’s maritime and territorial claims are wholly without merit and it is a virtual certainty that they were made at the behest of either Hezbollah or Iran or both.

While Lebanon’s navy is negligible and poses no threat to Israel and its off-shore gas platforms, Hezbollah does pose a more significant threat. Hezbollah possesses a number of Chinese C-802 radar guided anti-ship missiles. A missile of this type damaged an Israeli corvette, the INS Hanit, during the 2006 Lebanon War (the ship was repaired and returned to service 3 weeks later) and sunk a civilian Egyptian ship cruising some 37 miles from shore.

What’s Up With Fox and Trump? Retailing the unfair slanders of the Left. Joseph Klein

Fox News has branded itself as “fair and balanced.” Compared to the mainstream media, Fox News has indeed provided some welcomed balance to coverage of the national news. However, Fox News has not lived up to its branding when it comes to its handling of Donald Trump. Several of its on-air personalities have expressed the kind of downright hostility to the Republican presidential nominee that one might expect to witness on leftist cable news bastions such as MSNBC.

Shepard Smith, the host of “Shepard Smith Reporting” as well as the managing editor of Fox News Channel’s Breaking News Division, is cast as a Fox News “hard news” anchor. Yet he leads the station’s biased coverage against Trump. Indeed, Shepard Smith has taken it upon himself to attach the racist label to Trump. For instance, following Hillary Clinton’s speech in August attempting to link Trump to the white nationalist alt-right movement, Smith became a part of her race baiting attack machine.

“He trades in racism, doesn’t he?” Shepard Smith asked rhetorically, referring to Trump. That is not hard news. It is an unfounded attack designed to discredit Trump falsely as a racist.

Smith’s attack on Trump is part and parcel of the news anchor’s penchant for engaging in the race-baiting game, which he has proven quite proficient in playing. Smith, for example, chastised former Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal last July for saying that “all lives mattered” in response to the killing of three police officers in Baton Rouge. “Governor,” Smith said to Jindal, “you know, you know that that phrase you just used is is (sic) one that’s seen by many as, as derogatory, right? I, I just wonder why it is that you use that phrase when there’s a certain segment of the population that believes it’s a real dig on ’em.”

Not long ago, Smith twisted his reporting on Trump’s recent reversal on the racially charged birther issue. Smith did not limit himself to stating Trump’s past record in continuing to push the issue even after President Obama produced his long-form birth certificate. Instead, Smith acted as if he were a Hillary Clinton surrogate in stating categorically that there was “no evidence to support the claim” that Hillary Clinton’s team had “started the theory that President Obama wasn’t born in America.” In case anybody missed his point, Smith added for emphasis, “Zero, it never happened.” Except it did happen, according to former McClatchy Washington Bureau Chief James Asher. Asher claimed that top Hillary Clinton aide and confidante Sid Blumenthal had “told me in person” during the 2008 Democratic presidential primary campaign that Obama was born in Kenya. At that time, Asher was an investigative editor and in charge of Africa coverage.

“During that meeting, Mr. Blumenthal and I met together in my office and he strongly urged me to investigate the exact place of President Obama’s birth, which he suggested was in Kenya,” Asher said. “We assigned a reporter to go to Kenya, and that reporter determined that the allegation was false. At the time of Mr. Blumenthal’s conversation with me, there had been a few news articles published in various outlets reporting on rumors about Obama’s birthplace. While Mr. Blumenthal offered no concrete proof of Obama’s Kenyan birth, I felt that, as journalists, we had a responsibility to determine whether or not those rumors were true. They were not.”