Last Chance for Taking Shots at Judge Gorsuch

by Jim Geraghty

Last Chance for Taking Shots at Judge Gorsuch

Democrats and their media allies put up their last shot against Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, accusing him of plagiarism.

CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski: “Seems sort of weak? This is what, 300 words in a 137K word book?”

The White House quickly put out a statement from Abigail Lawlis Kuzma, the author of the law review article Gorsuch supposedly plagiarized:

I have reviewed both passages and do not see an issue here, even though the language is similar. These passages are factual, not analytical in nature, framing both the technical legal and medical circumstances of the “Baby/Infant Doe” case that occurred in 1982. Given that these passages both describe the basic facts of the case, it would have been awkward and difficult for Judge Gorsuch to have used different language.

Leonard Leo, adviser to President Trump on the Supreme Court:

This is a last minute smear job, plain and simple. If this is plagiarism, then half of this city’s journalists are guilty of plagiarism. Some of the top scholars in the world — from Oxford, Princeton, Georgetown — have reviewed his work and concluded that these charges are absurd and false. In fact, the author of the piece he supposedly copied has explained, in her defense of Gorsuch, it was a technical description of a medical circumstance and “it would have been awkward and difficult for Judge Gorsuch to have used different language.” Judge Gorsuch is a good man, he is an exceptionally qualified and independent judge, and I look forward to seeing him confirmed later this week.

Why This May Not Be Just the Usual Trouble with North Korea

For decades it’s been such a predictable story, it’s almost a non-story: “Those crazy North Koreans are at it again.”

North Korea on Wednesday again fired a ballistic missile into the Sea of Japan, South Korean and U.S. military officials said, in a provocation that comes amid annual joint U.S.-South Korean military drills.

The single ballistic missile launched at around 6:42 a.m. Seoul time (5:42 p.m. Tuesday ET) from the area of the port city of Sinpo traveled about 60 kilometers, or just over 37 miles, before crashing into the sea, a South Korean military officer said.

Our new Secretary of State offered the tersest of terse statements in response: “North Korea launched yet another intermediate range ballistic missile. The United States has spoken enough about North Korea. We have no further comment.”

That’s it. I understand the thinking that North Korea launches these missiles or commits other provocations because it wants attention and concessions, and that like an angry toddler, a big response is what the regime wants. And yet… it feels really odd to see the “we’re just not going to respond to that” approach put into action.

Clearly, someone else in the administration thinks we haven’t spoken enough about North Korea:

A senior White House official issued a dire warning to reporters Tuesday on the state of North Korea’s nuclear program, declaring “the clock has now run out and all options are on the table.”

US officials have grown increasingly wary of the pace of North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs as the rogue regime has test-fired multiple ballistic missiles at a rapid clip in the first months of this year.

North Korea has successfully detonated nuclear weapons in the past, but experts say the country has yet to develop the technology to equip a ballistic missile with a nuclear warhead.

The senior White House official who issued Tuesday’s ominous missive also said North Korea is a “matter of urgent interest for the President and the administration as a whole” and emphasized that “all options are on the table.”

By the way, North Korea could kill many, many Americans quite easily:

Brooks-English is one of nearly 140,000 Americans living in South Korea, according to the Korea Immigration Service. Of those, 28,500 are U.S. military personnel stationed here to help defend this nation of 55 million against the threat of war with the North.

We’re used to belligerent, aggressive talk from North Korea, and sometimes more than talk. People forget the regime actually sank a South Korean naval ship in 2010, killing 46 sailors and injuring 56. The Norks’ idea of “saber-rattling” is to draw the saber and stab you. And ordinarily, one would or could conclude that if something like that didn’t start a war, then the two Koreas aren’t really on the precipice of war the way everyone always says.

But Ethan Epstein, writing in The Weekly Standard, isn’t so sure this is “business as usual” in Pyongyang:

North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un is proving to be different from, even worse than his late father, Kim Jong-il. It’s not just that the young dauphin has rapidly moved ahead with his country’s missile and nuclear weapons programs while undertaking a vicious set of purges at home. Nor is it only the brazen assassination of Kim Jong-un’s half-brother in a crowded Malaysian airport, ordered by the regime and committed with an internationally banned chemical weapon. He seems as well to have a different view of the purpose of his nuclear program than his father did…

Kim Jong-un, by contrast, appears to take a rather more expansive view of what his arsenal can achieve. As the astute Korea-watcher B. R. Myers noted last year, under Kim Jong-un’s leadership, Pyongyang’s propaganda has increasingly touted “autonomous unification,” a term that “has always stood for the conquest or subjugation of South Korea after nullification or removal of the U.S. military presence.” Myers further reports that Kim has been promoting “final victory” in addresses to North Korea’s military. This is alarming, for Kim’s vision of “final victory” is a unified Korea​—​under his dictatorship.

People say, and hope, “oh, Kim Jong-un isn’t crazy enough to use nuclear weapons.” But apparently he is crazy enough to use VX nerve agent as an assassination tool in a busy international airport.

Burned Rice

Recall what House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes said on March 22: “These were intelligence reports, and it brings up a lot of concern about whether things were properly minimized or not. What I have read bothers me, and I think it should bother the president himself and his team, because I think some of it seems to be inappropriate.”

Former National Security Advisor Susan Rice, discussing Nunes’ allegations with Judy Woodruff on PBS, that day:

JUDY WOODRUFF: I began by asking about the allegations leveled today by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes that Trump transition officials, including the president, may have been swept up in surveillance of foreigners at the end of the Obama administration.

RICE: I know nothing about this. I was surprised to see reports from Chairman Nunes on that count today… I really don’t know to what Chairman Nunes was referring, but he said that whatever he was referring to was a legal, lawful surveillance, and that it was potentially incidental collection on American citizens.

But Tuesday, after Eli Lake of Bloomberg reported that Rice herself “requested the identities of U.S. persons in raw intelligence reports on dozens of occasions that connect to the Donald Trump transition and campaign”, Rice appeared on MSNBC with Andrea Mitchell and suddenly seemed to know a bit more than “nothing” about it all:

Every morning, we received from the intelligence community a compilation of intelligence reports that the IC, the intelligence community, has selected for us on a daily basis to give us the best information as to what’s going on around the world.

I received those reports, as did each of those other officials, and there were occasions when I would receive a report in which a U.S. person was referred to. Name not provided, just a U.S. person. And sometimes in that context, in order to understand the importance of the report, and assess its significance, it was necessary to find out, or request the information, as to who the U.S. official was.

So in two weeks, we went from “I know nothing about this” to “yes, I requested the ‘unmasking’ of these individuals, and it was perfectly appropriate and legal.”

Also notice this careful denial:

…the notion that — which some people are trying to suggest, that by asking for the identity of an American person, that is the same as leaking it, is completely false. There’s no equivalence between so-called unmasking and leaking.

No, but once information is unmasked, it’s a heck of a lot easier to leak, now, isn’t it?

On January 12, when Susan Rice and all of her deputies were still in their jobs, Washington Post columnist David Ignatius cited a source that was a “a senior U.S. government official” declaring that Michael Flynn phoned Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak several times on December 29. That information and the contents of the call are classified; whoever leaked the information to Ignatius was committing a crime.

Rice denies leaking the information. Of course, she also insisted the Benghazi attack was a “spontaneous protest” and denied that it was “premeditated or preplanned”; and that Bowe Bergdahl served the United States with “honor and distinction.” Maybe it was her, maybe it wasn’t, but no one with any sense should trust her denial; saying otherwise would be admitting to a crime.

ADDENDA: ESPN unveils new guidelines for its personnel discussing politics, and a lot of it just common sense: “The presentation should be thoughtful and respectful. We should offer balance or recognize opposing views, as warranted. We should avoid personal attacks and inflammatory rhetoric.”

It’s like they heard the rallying cry: “I just want to watch the game!”

The Morning Jolt

By Jim Geraghty