Last week, FBI Director James Comey testified that Huma Abedin, one of Hillary Clinton's closest aides, had forwarded "hundreds and thousands" of emails to her idiot husband so that he could print them out. Conservatives crowed. It was just another example of the slack attitude toward national security among Clinton and her inner circle.

Except ProPublica reports that it wasn't:

FBI officials have privately acknowledged that Comey misstated what Abedin did and what the FBI investigators found. On Monday, the FBI was said to be preparing to correct the record by sending a letter to Congress later this week. But that plan now appears on hold, with the bureau undecided about what to do.

....According to two sources familiar with the matter — including one in law enforcement — Abedin forwarded only a handful of Clinton emails to her husband for printing — not the “hundreds and thousands” cited by Comey. It does not appear Abedin made “a regular practice” of doing so. Other officials said it was likely that most of the emails got onto the computer as a result of backups of her Blackberry.

Oops. Accidents happen. It is remarkable, though, that in Comey's case these decisions about what to say and what to withhold invariably hurt Democrats and help Republicans. How often can this happen before everyone stops believing it's just a coincidence from this honorably-intentioned man?

Yesterday I wondered what kind of progress the Trump administration had made on its new immigration rules. They ought to be nearly finished by now, making the court case over Trump's executive order moot. Well, it turns out the judges in that case had the same question:

During Monday's hearing, judges also questioned the government about the status of its review of immigration vetting procedures. Why does the Trump administration continue insisting on 90- and 120-day travel suspensions, they asked, if it's already had so much time to improve vetting procedures? Judge Stephanie Thacker said the portion of Trump's order calling for a vetting review was in place for nearly two months.

"Was any vetting (review) done in those 50 days?" she said.

Wall said government attorneys have interpreted court rulings as barring them from doing so.

"We've put our pens down," he said. "We haven't done any work on it."

The earlier stays of the EO obviously don't bar the government from working on new immigration rules. I'm not even sure a court could do that. This is a childish excuse, but that's the one they're going with.

Trump's contempt for the American public here is breathtaking. Keep in mind that this is supposedly a matter of grave national security, which is why the first EO had to be issued without any warning. But now Trump is treating it like a schoolyard game: if the courts won't let him have his way, he's taking his ball and going home. And if some visitor from Yemen ends up killing a bunch of people, well, maybe next time we'll listen to him.

There aren't a lot of alternatives here. The first is that Trump believes his immigration order is a serious matter of national security, but he doesn't care about national security as much as does about winning a court case. The second is that Trump never believed it mattered much, but implemented it in the most chaotic way possible as a PR stunt. Either way it's revolting.

We didn't really learn anything new in today's congressional hearing, but the questioning did highlight one of the ugliest aspects of the Flynn affair. Sally Yates testified that she informed White House counsel on January 26 that Mike Flynn had lied about his contacts with the Russians and that he was vulnerable to blackmail by the Russians. "To state the obvious," Yates said, "you don't want your national security adviser compromised with the Russians."

For 18 days, President Trump didn't do anything. Nor did he give any sign that he ever planned to do anything. It was only after Flynn's actions became public, via a leak to the Washington Post, that Trump finally fired him.

He's never explained why he didn't fire Flynn immediately. Richard Nixon had his 18-minute gap, and now Trump has an 18-day gap. Instead of grousing endlessly about the leak, Trump should tell us if he would have kept a security risk like Flynn in his inner circle forever if the leak had never happened.

Oh man, this cracks me up. This whole Russia thing is really getting inside President Trump's OODA loop. After today's congressional hearing, he was hellbent on making sure everyone knew that James Clapper had said there was "no evidence" of collusion between Trump and Russia. Clapper didn't quite say that, actually, but Trump didn't care. He ordered his staff to change his Twitter picture pronto. So they did. Now it looks like this:

You might be able to see the whole message on a different monitor, or if you fiddle around with the width of your browser window. But probably not. What a bunch of doofuses.

As you may know, the New York Times hired Bret Stephens a couple of weeks ago as a new columnist on their op-ed page. Stephens is a conservative who previously worked at the Wall Street Journal, and he's a climate...something. Climate denier? Climate skeptic? In the past he was probably closer to being a denier, but these days he's softened and is now a skeptic.

In any case, his hiring set off a wave of outrage among progressives. But I sort of shrugged. The guy's a Pulitzer Prize winner, after all, and being a climate skeptic is practically a guild requirement among conservatives. If you don't allow climate skeptics on your op-ed page, you're going to have a hard time finding any conservative voices.

Then he wrote his first column, and he jumped straight into the maw. It was a pretty bad column, basically saying that, hey, scientists have been wrong before, so maybe they're wrong this time. That was it—except for a single factual statement, which he botched and had to have corrected. I sighed. Can't we just change the subject to how tax cuts always pay for themselves?

No we can't. Stephens' second column was about climate change again. It was essentially a variant of the first column: sometimes scientists have been wrong about how to reduce greenhouse gases, so maybe they're still wrong and we don't even know how to do it. This is tedious, lazy, and sloppy, but it turns out it was more than that. One of his exhibits was Germany's nationwide effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It's been a failure:

Yikes. As Stephens says, "emissions are almost exactly what they were in 2009."

But wait. Remember those global warming charts that carefully started in the year 1998, an unusually warm El Niño year, to show that warming had stopped dead in its tracks? That was literally the only starting year that gave this illusion, and climate deniers gleefully used it for over a decade until they finally had to stop thanks to the warming of the past few years, which smashed past all the old records.

Well, James Wimberley points out that Stephens did the same thing: he started with the Great Recession year of 2009, when GHG emissions were unusually low. Here's the full run of data since 1990:

As you can see, 2009 is literally the only year that gives the illusion of Germany making no progress. So that's the year he used. This is yahoo hucksterism at its worst.

It's also something that columnists imbibe with the drinking water at the Journal editorial page. Hardly a piece goes by that doesn't include some kind of egregious statistical flim-flam. This points toward the real mistake the New York Times made. It's not that they hired a climate skeptic. You can hardly avoid that among conservatives these days. The real mistake is that they imported the ethics of the Wall Street Journal editorial page. I don't know if you can train that out of a person once they've spent more than a decade there.

Lunchtime Photo

The Angel Motel in Orange, California.

Max Ehrenfreund points us today to a new paper by a quartet of researchers that looks at lifetime incomes of various age groups. They find that middle-class income has stagnated and income inequality has gone up over the past few decades. None of that should come as a surprise.

But there's an interesting twist. Here's their key chart for men. It's busy and intimidating looking, but don't worry. It will all make sense.

First off, look at the pink circles at the bottom. Those show the earnings of 25-year-old men who are just entering the labor market. Starting around 1973, their earnings began to plummet, from $35,000 to $25,000.

Now look at the gray diamonds at the top. Those show the earnings of 55-year-old men. They've gone up and down, but basically have stayed right around $55,000 the whole time.

In other words, the decline in lifetime earnings among men is almost entirely because the average earnings of young men have declined. They end up at the same place as earlier cohorts by the time they retire, but they never make up for the dismal earnings of the first ten or fifteen years of their working careers.

Don't get too hung up on the precise numbers here. The authors use Social Security data, which they show is roughly equivalent to overall income data. However, if you use different data, or different measures of inflation, or different measures of income that include health benefits, you'll get somewhat different results. However, the basic stagnation picture doesn't change, and the difference between the earnings of young and old don't change.

If this data is accurate, it means that we have one big cohort—roughly 25 to 40 years old—that's struggling worse and worse every year, and another big cohort—roughly 40 to 65 years old—that's stagnating but not declining. To the extent that economic stress among men helped power Donald Trump to the White House, it's that younger cohort that should have done it. And this is indeed the cohort that Hillary Clinton struggled with the most.

Sally Yates is a career civil servant in the Justice Department. She was hired under the first Bush administration, promoted during the Clinton administration, promoted again during the second Bush administration, and yet again under the Obama administration. Two years ago she was named deputy attorney general, the second ranking position in the department, and then became acting attorney general when Loretta Lynch left. President Trump asked her to stay on until Jeff Sessions was confirmed, and she agreed. A few days later, after declining to defend Trump's immigration order in court, she was fired.

Today she's scheduled to testify about what she told the White House regarding National Security Advisor Mike Flynn's connections to Russia. Trump isn't waiting, though. He's decided to pre-smear her:

Hmmm. I get the impression that Trump is pretty sure her testimony is going to be damaging. We already know that she warned the Trumpies that Flynn had lied about his contacts with Russia, and today we learned that President Obama had previously warned Trump away from hiring Flynn. (The White House response, apparently, is that they thought Obama was just kidding.) Despite all this, Trump hired Flynn and then kept him on. It was only when Flynn's lying became public that Trump fired him.

Anyway, this should all guarantee a huge audience for today's hearing. It's at 2:30 pm Eastern, which probably means 3 pm once all the preliminary throat clearing and speechifying is done.

On January 27, President Trump issued an executive order on immigration. Within 30 days, the Secretary of Homeland Security was ordered to compile a list of the information needed from foreign countries to properly adjudicate new visa applications. Immediately thereafter, the Secretary of State was ordered to ask "all foreign governments that do not supply such information to start providing such information regarding their nationals within 60 days of notification." At that point, any foreign government that refused to provide the necessary information would be "recommended for inclusion on a Presidential proclamation that would prohibit the entry of foreign nationals."

That's plain enough, and by April 27 this should have been completed. The executive order may have been stayed by the courts, but that affected only the immediate ban of visitors from seven specified countries. Homeland Security presumably carried out the president's order to create the list, and the State Department presumably notified foreign countries of its requirements.

So did they? If they didn't, what held them up? Why hasn't any such list been published? And why is the Trump administration continuing to waste time in court over its EO since it should be moot at this point?

Has any progress been made on this? Or has Trump put it on hold in a huff because he didn't get his way? Has anyone asked?

Tyler Cowen points us to a study from last year which concludes that police officers become "less productive" as they gain experience. Here's the abstract:

This study analyzes two decades of data from a municipal police agency and describes the average patrol officer career productivity trajectory. We find that declines in productivity begin immediately after the first year of service and worsen over the course of officers’ careers. After their 20th year, patrol officers generate 88% fewer directed patrols, 50% fewer traffic warnings, 58% fewer traffic citations, 41% fewer warrant arrests, and 57% fewer misdemeanor arrests compared to officers with 1 year of experience. Using a patrol officer productivity metric called Z-score per Productive Time (Z-PRO), we estimate that each additional year of service decreases an officer’s overall productivity by about 2%. Z-PRO also indicates that after 21 years of service, an average officer will be approximately 35% less productive overall than an officer with 1 year of service.

There's an issue of framing here: What is the "proper" level of productivity for a police officer? Perhaps the real issue is that newish police officers are overzealous. They're eager to ticket anyone going 6 miles over the speed limit. They arrest anyone hanging out on a corner who turns out to have a joint in their pocket. Etc.

It's not necessarily the case that more is always better. To really judge this stuff, you'd also need to measure the quality of arrests and traffic citations in some way. It's possible that older officers arrest less because their experience tells them it's better to let the small stuff go, but have a better eye for genuinely dangerous behavior.

Then again, maybe they just get lazy.