Oregon’s two Democrat senators, Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, have announced they will seek to block the confirmation of 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals nominee Ryan Bounds.
Last week, the senators announced they will not return blue slips to Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, for Bounds, whom President Donald Trump nominated to a judgeship based in Portland. In a letter to White House counsel Don McGahn, the senators explained their intention to block any nominee who has not been approved by Oregon’s judicial selection committee. In essence, these senators are looking to stonewall the nomination.
The Constitution gives the president the power to appoint judges, with the advice and consent of the Senate. So how is it that two senators can bring a nomination to a halt?
Since 1917, the Senate Judiciary Committee has asked senators from a nominee’s home state for their opinion before holding a hearing or further evaluating the nominee. Senators select “I approve” or “I object” on a blue slip of paper.
Except for a brief period in the 1960s and ‘70s, blue slips were never used as a way to veto nominees. And for much of the blue slip’s history, senators had one week to return the form—otherwise the Judiciary Committee would assume their agreement. Senators have been able to use the threat of returning a negative blue slip to persuade the president to select their preferred nominees.
During the Obama administration, for example, Georgia Sens. Johnny Isakson and Saxby Chambliss, both Republicans, struck a deal with the president in which they agreed to return positive blue slips on seven nominees in exchange for President Barack Obama nominating one individual they supported.
But unsurprisingly, their nominee of choice was ultimately blocked by the Democrat-controlled Senate.
After dragging their feet, Democrat senators from Indiana, Michigan, and North Dakota have returned blue slips for Trump’s judicial nominees from their states, allowing the nominations to move forward. Democrat senators from Colorado, Illinois, and Pennsylvania have not yet returned their blue slips, but neither have they officially announced their intent to withhold them.
Now, Wyden and Merkley join Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., in refusing to even return their blue slips for a conservative nominee. The Oregon duo accuse the Trump administration of “return[ing] to the days of nepotism and patronage that harmed our courts and placed unfit judges on the bench.”
Wyden and Merkley failed to mention Bound’s impeccable credentials. They simply appear miffed that the president didn’t pick their nominee of choice.
But a closer look at Bounds shows that he is superbly qualified for the job.
If confirmed, Bounds would fill the seat left vacant by his former boss. This seat is one of 60 vacancies that are considered “judicial emergencies,” where there aren’t enough judges to manage the caseload.
Currently, Bounds prosecutes fraud and environmental crimes as an assistant U.S. attorney in Oregon, where he has served since in 2010.
Previously, he served in the George W. Bush administration as a deputy assistant attorney general in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Policy, a special assistant to the president for domestic policy, and a special assistant U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia.
While at the Office of Legal Policy, Bounds worked on the Supreme Court nominations of Justice Samuel Alito and Chief Justice John Roberts. He also coordinated the Justice Department’s policies on intellectual property, immigration, and the rights of crime victims.
Bounds has argued before several appellate courts, and previously worked in private practice in Portland for several years before entering government service.
This is hardly a resume that smacks of nepotism or a lack of fitness to be a judge.
Now, it’s up to Grassley to decide what to do about Franken, Wyden, and Merkley’s resistance.
One easy fix would be to ditch the blue slip process for appeals court nominees and just use it for district court nominees. Such a policy would be based on a logical distinction: District court judges only hear cases from the state where they sit, whereas appeals court judges are based in one state but hear cases from all the states within their circuit.
Home state senators’ opinions are therefore more relevant when it comes to considering district court nominees.
Though the Senate has used blue slips for over a century, the practice has varied depending on who occupies the White House and who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee.
With over 160 court vacancies to fill, it makes little sense to allow Democrats to abuse blue slips for political gains. At least with respect to appellate nominees, it’s time to ditch the blue slip.
Elizabeth Slattery writes about the rule of law, the proper role of the courts, civil rights and equal protection, and the scope of constitutional provisions such as the Commerce Clause and the Recess Appointments Clause as a legal fellow in the Heritage Foundation’s Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies. Read her research.
"We're at war in basically about seven different countries right now, none of them authorized by Congress," Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) told me yesterday on Sirius XM Insight's Tell Me Everything with John Fugelsang, in the wake of Paul's losing attempt Wednesday to repeal the post-9/11 authorizations for use of military force. "Senator McCain would have us in 30, 40, 50. He has never met a war he wasn't interested in getting the U.S. involved in."
It was one of many colorful foreign policy comments the Tea Party senator made on everything from the Afghanistan mini-surge, to President Donald Trump's interventionism ("I try to give him a little bit of a benefit of a doubt"), to the fortunes of foreign policy realists in D.C. ("they're less likely to be completely bonkers crazy like the neocons"). You can listen to a couple of snippets on SoundCloud (1, 2), and also read an edited partial transcript below.
I started out by asking about Wednesday's 61-36 Senate vote to kill Paul's amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would have given a six-month sunset to the authorizations for use of military force that were passed on Sept. 14, 2001, and again in 2002 in the run-up to the Iraq War:
Paul: It was an exciting time. We, for the first time in 15 years, had a debate and a full Senate vote on whether or not it is our constitutional duty and responsibility to vote on war. Ever since 9/11 happened we voted to go after those who attacked us, but that resolution has now been used to justify war in half a dozen countries, maybe a little bit more. In fact Obama bombed seven countries without any kind of approval from Congress, and I think that's wrong. It's bad for our country, but it's also a disservice to our soldiers to be at war in so many places, send them to so many misbegotten corners of the globe without really having a full spirited debate about whether or not the public supports the war.
MW: Now you say it's the first time in 15 years. Is it really the first time in 15 years that this actually was debated on the Senate floor?
Paul: I think it was the first time we had a full Senate vote on it. Two years ago I got them to discuss an AUMF because they had a water bill in the foreign relations committee; it was a water bill for Africa. They'd been working on it for seven years, and if you want to see a bunch of annoyed grumpy old Senators, try to cut off some money they're wanting to give to some other country, and boy do they get grumpy. All I did was introduce an amendment saying something about whether we should have an AUMF, and all of a sudden everything hits the fan and we come to a screeching halt. But out of it I forced a debate on the AUMF.
And this is an important point for those who are listening, is that you don't get anything around here just by sitting around, you've got to force them to do it. They will tell you just non-stop, ad nauseam, "Oh, yes you're right Senator but this is neither the time nor the place. You should bring this up in committee." Then when you try to bring it up in committee they say, "Now Senator, you know this is not the time nor the place to bring this up." Nothing ever gets discussed, and they continually squash debate, but in public they profess to love debate and they profess, "You're exactly right. We should be discussing whether we should be at war. It's the most important point we debate in Congress." And yet they stifle it and don't want to talk about it. It took 15 years to get a vote on it.
Matt Welch is editor at large of Reason, the libertarian magazine of "Free Minds and Free Markets." He served as Reason's editor in chief from 2008-2016. He is co-author, along with Nick Gillespie, of the 2011 book The Declaration of Independents: How Libertarian Politics Can Fix What's Wrong With America, which Tyler Cowen called "the up-to-date statement of libertarianism." Welch also wrote the 2007 book McCain: The Myth of a Maverick.
I’ve been waiting for someone else to post about Equifax so I could vent my wrath in a comment, but as I haven’t seen much yet, I can no longer contain myself. I cannot believe that a company charged with holding the most sensitive information about us — information that we neither asked for nor wanted to be held on our behalf — has been breached. The information of half of American adults may have been stolen. Bad enough, but they didn’t even bother to tell us about it for over a month. Never mind their executives selling nearly 2 million dollars in stock in the meanwhile. Never mind the anemic apology from their CEO:
“This is clearly a disappointing event for our company, and one that strikes at the heart of who we are and what we do. I apologize to consumers and our business customers for the concern and frustration this causes.”
This is the type of apology we’ve become accustomed to when someone uses an incorrect gender pronoun, not when the lives of 148 million people are potentially wrecked. My cousin lived through identify theft and it is awful. No doubt Mr. Smith has an army of lawyers and admins who will clean up the mess should his identify be stolen. But for the rest of us, it is time taken away from work and family, hours on the phone, loss of the ability to travel and sometimes worse. I have already had to spend $20 freezing my credit. They’ve offered free credit monitoring for a year (did you hear that identify thieves, you have to wait a year!), after which, no doubt, we’ll be stuck automatically with their $29.99 a month service. But even if it were free for the rest of my life, how can we trust their credit monitoring service? So that will be another $300 per year for the mess they created.
I hope Equifax goes down for this. The money will go to the law firms and not to the victims, but right now, I just want blood. God help me, I may even want Elizabeth Warren.
President Trump spent his first day as a Democrat president on Wednesday. After months of being excoriated as a racist and a nut by the Democrat Party, Democrats suddenly found a man they could work with — and Trump seemed to revel in it. The day began with a rally in North Dakota, where Trump talked up Democrat Senator Heidi Heitkamp, whom he called a “good woman.” He explained, “These are great people. They work hard. They’re for you 100 percent.”
Next, Trump headed back to the White House, where he expressed his hope that President Obama’s executive amnesty would be enshrined in law by the Republican Congress. He followed up that doozy by undercutting Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) by siding with Democrat leaders House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) on raising the debt ceiling. McConnell and Ryan wanted either a clean funding bill for the Hurricane Harvey relief, or such relief connected with other Republican priorities and wrapped up in an eighteen-month debt ceiling increase that would take Republicans beyond the election. Instead, Trump signed off on combining Hurricane Harvey relief with a three-month debt ceiling increase, a total Democrat victory that also gives Democrats the upper hand in budget negotiations in December.
So, what’s driving Trump to this?
A few factors.
1. Trump Doesn’t Like His Job. Trump was elected while stating repeatedly and boisterously that everything would be simple: health care reform, immigration reform, tax reform. All of it would happen so quickly it would make your head spin. You’d win and win and win so much you’d get tired of winning. Etcetera. None of that has materialized, because it turns out that the presidency doesn’t operate like Trump thought it would. He doesn’t just get to do rallies and then wait for legislation to arrive on his desk. He has to get his hands dirty, negotiate, wheel and deal — all the things he’s spent his career saying he does better than anyone else, even though he never did any of it particularly well. Trump is a brand. He’s not a negotiator, and he’s not a dealmaker. He never was. Now he’s angry that Republicans are forcing him into the position of doing a job he never thought he’d have to do.
2. Trump Is Driven By Personal Animus. Trump’s campaign praise for Heitkamp is telling. While she has voted with him 50% of the time, he apparently likes her; the same isn’t true for Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ), who votes with Trump 93% of the time, but has been beaten senseless by Trump publicly. That’s because Flake had the temerity to challenge Trump publicly, and Trump hates him. He doesn’t feel the same about Heitkamp, or even about Chuck Schumer.
That dichotomy is attributable to Trump’s different expectations of Republicans and Democrats. Trump had high expectations for Republicans: he wanted their undying loyalty, and he wanted them to do his job for him. Trump has no expectations for Democrats — he knows they hate him, he doesn’t expect them to work with him. That means that any sign of affection or bipartisanship from Democrats comes with an added grain of enjoyment.
3. Trump Doesn’t Like Ryan Or McConnell. All of this is particularly true of Ryan and McConnell. Trump hated Ryan — he campaigned against him as much as against the Democrats in 2016. He sees him as a weakling, a pathetic accountant. He thinks Ryan is ineffective. He thinks the same of McConnell. Both Ryan and McConnell have, in small ways, refused to pay homage to Trump’s character. That makes Trump angry. What makes him even angrier is that their inability to garner a Republican majority to pass significant legislation has been on display. That’s why Trump took positive pleasure, according to Axios, in slapping both Ryan and McConnell today. He wants them to feel the pain.
4. Trump Has No Ideology. Combine Trump’s frustration with the day-to-day grind with his frustration with Republicans’ ineffectiveness — and then combine those with the fact that Trump doesn’t care about policy. That’s a recipe for Trump to look to greener pastures. That’s precisely what Trump is doing.
5. Trump Does Care What Democrats Think. Trump is particularly interested in working with Democrats because he has always cared what New York Democrats think. He’s spent his entire life being treated as nouveau riche by the upper crust Manhattan elite, and he’s always craved their attention and acceptance. That’s why he reads The New York Times and obsesses about its coverage; that’s why he gives exclusive interviews to the newspaper he supposedly hates most. Now he could get some of it by working with Schumer and Pelosi. After all, Trump said during the campaign that he didn’t care too much if the Republicans lost the Senate — he could always work with Democrats. He’s said for years that he likes and respects both Schumer and Pelosi. If they show him a little leg, they could easily seduce him.
6. Trump Knows His Base Will Go Along With Him. Trump’s in a comfortable situation. He knows that a huge percentage of his base simply doesn’t care what he does — he masterfully exploited the reactionary anger against Hillary Clinton to establish himself as the Hillary-Slayer. Now he can do no wrong. In the past 72 hours, large segments of the same base that cheered him shouting about deporting millions of illegal immigrants are cheering him pushing DACA; members of the same base that decried Ryan and McConnell as shills doing the bidding of Democrats are cheering him for coddling Pelosi and Schumer. After all, Trump’s still hitting the “establishment”!
7. Trump Wants To Get Things Done. Finally, Trump’s frustration with inaction could lead him down the primrose path to pandering to Democrats. Let’s say that 61% of the Republican base will follow Trump no matter what (that’s the poll number from CNN). And let’s say that Democrats are willing to work with Trump in order to push their priorities … at least until we near 2020 and they move to stab him in the back. Trump can easily grab majority support for Left-leaning policies.
All of which means that Ryan and McConnell are now on the hook: they’d better start passing conservative legislation themselves. They can’t rely on Trump for leadership or support. But if they don’t begin putting conservative legislation on his desk to sign, he’ll continue to hobnob with Schumer and Pelosi.
Ben Shapiro is editor-in-chief of The Daily Wire and host of "The Ben Shapiro Show," the top conservative podcast in the nation. Shapiro is the author of seven nonfiction books, including The New York Times bestseller Bullies: How the Left’s Culture of Fear and Intimidation Silences America (Simon & Schuster, 2012) and national bestsellers Brainwashed: How Universities Indoctrinate America’s Youth (WND Books, May 2004), Porn Generation: How Social Liberalism Is Corrupting Our Future (Regnery, June 2005), and Project President: Bad Hair and Botox on the Road to the White House (Thomas Nelson, 2008). Shapiro was hired by Creators Syndicate at age 17 to become the youngest nationally syndicated columnist in the U.S.
If you are waiting with baited breath thinking that the GOP legislature is going to deliver substantial tax reform in the near future, think again. Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Mike Lee (R-UT) are warning that the swamp creatures of the GOP establishment are working aggressively under the cloak of darkness to sabotage any possible chance of lowering the tax burdens of ordinary Americans.
Paul and Lee see the same type of shenanigans happening right now that doomed tax reform and other common sense measures in the past. They are growing increasingly pessimistic that anything can be achieved given the makeup of the current Congress, and the agenda of the special interests responsible for bankrolling most of the legislature. Talking points referring to ‘revenue neutral’ tax reform have Paul particularly concerned.
“Revenue neutral ultimately means that someone pays more for someone else to pay less. It means tax ‘reform’ without real tax cuts,” Paul said in a CNN op/ed last week.
Paul continues on to say, “I fear that tax reform that mandates revenue neutrality will result in those with the best lobbyists, lawyers and accountants being the winners, while most everyone else either gets nothing or largely loses out.”
Currently, negotiations are being handled in secret by six highly-connected individuals–Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn, House Speaker Paul Ryan, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady, and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch.
What is notably missing from this bunch are any ‘America First’ nationalists, free market advocates, or staunch conservatives. What we have instead, as usual, are veteran Washington D.C. operatives and Goldman Sachs bankers making the decisions. Making matters worse, the White House is committed to keeping details completely hidden from the public. This lack of transparency have Paul and Lee smelling a rat.
“We can do this, but not if we operate the way the Swamp normally does. Secret meetings. Leaders writing complicated bills no one sees. Lobbyists getting their pet provisions in bills,” Paul said.
“The American people elected us expecting us to repeal ObamaCare and bring about tax reform. We haven’t repealed ObamaCare. If we don’t get tax reform done, we are dead. We might as well flip up our tent and go home,” Lee said on Fox Business last week.
It is looking like tax reform is going to be yet another embarrassing failure for Trump’s Republican Party, similar to what happened regarding health care and immigration. Trump’s young presidency is not off to a good start, and as long as he keeps relying on the same interests he campaigned against last year to formulate his administration’s policy plans, it is not likely to improve.
Shane has been an activist for liberty-related causes for over 10 years. He is the Media Relations Director of the Republican Liberty Caucus of Michigan, State Director of the Michigan Tenth Amendment Center, and County Coordinator for Michigan Campaign for Liberty.
Newsflash from The New York Times: Women may have starved under socialist regimes, but their orgasms were out of this world!
That's the creepy gist of one of the Grey Lady's recent essays this summer hailing the "Red Century." The paper's ongoing series explores "the history and legacy of Communism, 100 years after the Russian Revolution." When its essayists aren't busy championing the great sex that oppressed women enjoyed in miserable Eastern Bloc countries, they're extolling Lenin's fantabulous conservationist programs and pimping "Communism for Kids" propaganda.
Since this is back-to-school season, it's the perfect time to teach your children about faux journalism at the Fishwrap of Record. As the publication's pretentious own new slogan asserts, "The truth is more important than ever."
While the Times hyperventilates about the dangers of President Trump's "art of fabrication" and "Russian collusion," this is the same organization whose famed correspondent in Russia, Walter Duranty, won a Pulitzer Prize for spreading fake news denying Joseph Stalin's Ukrainian genocide.
An estimated 10 million men, women and children starved in the Stalin-engineered silent massacre between 1932-1933, also known as the Holodomor. Stalin had implemented his "Five Year Plan" of agricultural collectivization -- confiscating land and livestock, evicting farmers, and imposing impossible grain production quotas. At the peak of the famine, about 30,000 Ukrainian citizens a day were dying. Untold numbers resorted to cannibalism.
But you wouldn't know it if you perused all the phony ground reports filed by Duranty at the time. Based in Moscow since 1921, Duranty gained access to Stalin for a rare interview in 1930. Two years later, Duranty won the Pulitzer Prize for 13 typewritten tongue baths with titles including, "Stalinism Solving Minorities Problems," Industrial Success Emboldens Soviet in New World Policy," and "Stalinism's Mark is Party Discipline."
And the rest is whitewashed history.
"There is no actual starvation or deaths from starvation, but there is widespread mortality from diseases due to malnutrition," Duranty asserted in March 1933.
Five months later, he wrote: "Any report of a famine in Russia is today an exaggeration or malignant propaganda."
Meanwhile, Duranty "had all the Beluga caviar that he could eat," Lee Edwards, a distinguished scholar and chairman of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation in Washington, D.C., told my CRTV.com show, "Michelle Malkin Investigates."
Historian Ron Radosh of the Hudson Institute added: "What (Duranty) did is file totally false, fake stories about how the people were thriving and doing well under Bolshevism and nothing was wrong and any rumors you hear of a famine in the Soviet Union were totally false, made up by enemies of the regime who wanted it to fall."
Robert Zapesochny, a New York writer and historian whose own grandfather survived the famine, blasted Duranty's pursuit of the prize over pursuit of the truth: "As long as there was an award that he could get for his coverage he would do anything." Zapesochny minces no words about Duranty:
"The guy was a whore."
It was soon discovered, that the forms of a free, and the ends of an arbitrary Government, were things not altogether incompatible.
It is curious how certain words accumulate a nimbus of positive associations while others, semantically just as innocuous, wind up shouldering a portfolio of bad feelings.
Consider the different careers of the terms “democracy” and “populism.”
Do you know any responsible person who would admit to being opposed to democracy? No one who does not enjoy a large private income would risk it. But lots of people are willing to declare themselves anti-populist. The discrepancy is curious for several reasons.
For one thing, it is a testament to the almost Darwinian hardiness of the word “democracy.” In the fierce struggle among ideas for survival, “democracy” has not only survived but thrived. This is despite the fact that political thinkers from Plato and Aristotle through Cicero and down to modern times have been deeply suspicious of democracy. Aristotle thought democracy the worst form of government, all but inevitably leading to mob rule, which is no rule.In Federalist 10, James Madison famously warned that history had shown that democratic regimes have “in general been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths.” “Theoretic politicians,” he wrote—and it would be hard to find a more contemptuous deployment of the word “theoretic”—such politicians may have advocated democracy, but that is only because of their dangerous and utopian ignorance of human nature. It was not at all clear, Madison thought, that democracy was a reliable custodian of liberty.
Nevertheless, nearly everyone wants to associate himself with the word “democracy.” Totalitarian regimes like to describe themselves as the “Democratic Republic” of wherever. Conservatives champion the advantages of “democratic capitalism.” Central planners of all stripes eagerly deploy programs advertised as enhancing or extending “democracy.” Even James Madison came down on the side of a subspecies of democracy, one filtered through the modulating influence of a large, diverse population and an elaborate scheme of representation that softened (Madison said “excluded”) the influence of “the people in their collective capacity.”the word “populism” occupies a semantic space closely adjacent to “democracy.” “Democracy” means “rule by the demos,” the people. “Populism,” according to The American Heritage Dictionary, describes “A political philosophy directed to the needs of the common people and advancing a more equitable distribution of wealth and power”— that is, just the sorts of things that the people, were they to rule, would seek.
But the fact is that “populism” is ambivalent at best. Sometimes, it is true, a charismatic figure can survive and even illuminate the label “populist” like a personal halo. Bernie Sanders managed this trick among the eco-conscious, racially omnivorous, non-gender-stereotyping, anti-capitalist beneficiaries of capitalism who made up his core constituency.
But it was always my impression that in this case the term “populist” was fielded less by Sanders or his followers than by his rivals and the media in an effort to fix him in the public’s mind as one of the many lamentable examples of not-Hillary, who herself was presumed to be popular though not populist.
There they go again.
Ever since Trump’s victory, Democrats have been fixated on creating their own version of the Tea Party movement.
We covered this development a few days before Trump’s inauguration, Dems want to create leftist version of 2010 Tea Party surge:
As someone who, both individually and on the website, participated in the Tea Party surge culminating in the retaking of the House in November 2010, I saw first hand how viciously the Tea Party was attacked…..
The Tea Party surge worked and overcame the media, Democrats and establishment Republicans precisely because it was genuine. While there were groups that lent logistical support as the movement grew, no one needed to construct the movement….
Now Democrats are trying to recreate a leftist version of the Tea Party movement, but it’s not a genuine movement. It needs to be constructed in the political laboratories of leftist activists and groups, such as the authors of this NY Times Op-Ed in early January 2017, To Stop Trump, Democrats Can Learn From the Tea Party …
In addition to top-down organizing, Democrats faced another problem, I noted, that the most active activists were also violent street thugs:
Democrats will have a hard time reverse-engineering the Tea Party because the far left-wing of the party is actually violent and dangerous, unlike the Tea Party.
The television coverage of the leftist movement will be dominated by anarchists and extremist creating mayhem as they are promising to do at the inauguration, Radical Left Planning Mayhem for Trump Inauguration, and have done in Chicago and elsewhere when Trump appeared during the campaign.
Burning the American flag and busting things up has come to symbolize the far-left, anarchist wing of the Democrat Party on whom the party engineers will rely for street turnout. Democrats appear ready to embrace that fringe. That’s unlikely to work.
That post was written 7 months before Charlottesville, but the prediction has come true. Democrats foolishly and recklessly have embraced the Antifa movement, Democrats own Antifa, just like they owned Occupy.
Yet Democrats continue to pretend they can create a left-wing Tea Party movement, as USA Today reports, Dems’ first wave of recruits ‘outsiders’ in 2017 version of Tea Party:
…. Much like the Republican men and women who swept into Washington in the 2010 Tea Party wave, the majority of Democrat candidates are new to state-level or national politics. Unlike the Tea Party, many of these Democrats have a long record of public service. They are former public prosecutors, doctors, CIA operatives and veterans, and they are concentrated in “heartland” states like Kansas, Iowa, Indiana and Minnesota….
These are what the Democrat Party’s version of “outsiders” look like in 2017.
The Democrat Party wants individuals who can’t be tarred as career politicians or party insiders….
This narrative of the Party recruiting “outsiders” is the exact opposite of the Tea Party movement.
Tea Party candidates weren’t recruited by the GOP, they were savaged every bit as viciously by the party establishment as by Democrats. Tea Party candidates won because grassroots support overcame party opposition, not because they were recruited by the party to appear to be outsiders.
The Resistance has done a good job at opposing Trump, but that will not easily translate into electoral victories using party-recruited “outsider” candidates running in the shadow of Antifa.
William A. Jacobson is Clinical Professor of Law and Director of the Securities Law Clinic at Cornell Law School. Prof. Jacobson is a 1981 graduate of Hamilton College and a 1984 graduate of Harvard Law School. At Harvard he was Senior Editor of the Harvard International Law Journal and Director of Litigation for the Harvard Prison Legal Assistance Project.
Progressives and math just don’t get along. Maybe this is what happens when you pursue liberal arts and social justice degrees at the exclusion of learning hard science, engineering and other practical skills. Nevertheless, these social justice warriors never seem to run out of steam, and they continue to make baseless demands in order to feel better. In a few short moments, I’ll show you the obvious and mathematically simple errors that completely discredit their most popular platforms.
Let’s start with a light topic. Progressives love telling everyone how the baby boomers destroyed the housing market. They often explain how minimum wage workers could easily afford a house in the 70s, but because of the 2007 crash, that will never be possible without aggressive minimum wage hikes. Let’s check the math. Minimum wage in the 70s ranged from $1.60 to $2.90 per hour. This led to an average monthly income of $375 for the entire decade. Median housing prices ranged from $23,600 to $62,600. The average APR for a mortgage was right at 10 percent. Put it all together and you get an average monthly mortgage payment of $378 for a median home across the decade. You might notice that this number is greater than the monthly income of $375.
How does today compare? At a minimum wage of $7.25, monthly income is right about $1,200. The median cost of a house across the country is $200,400 and APR is around 3.92 percent. This yields a monthly payment of $948 for a 30-year fixed mortgage. That is notably less than the $1,200 monthly income. It turns out that housing is the most affordable it has ever been.Socialism
If progressives love anything more than bashing baby boomers, it’s proclaiming socialism as the only hope for the future. One would think that more than a hundred years of global experimentation and recorded history would squash this idea. The mistake in this assumption is that people promoting socialism can do basic math.
In the world today, there are exactly four countries that claim to be socialist to any extent: China, Cuba, Laos and Vietnam. All four of those countries have made dramatic moves away from Marxist economies since the 90s, and every single one has seen economic improvement as a result. The changes in China were so extreme that the global poverty and starvation levels dropped by roughly 30 percent from 1990 to 2007. This is solely based on China finally allowing capitalistic investment. It swiftly created a middle class and brought poverty and starvations to historic lows for the country.
The progressives would counter and point to Scandinavia as sources of successful socialism. While the countries do carry extensive taxes and some aggressive social assistance programs, none of them claim to be socialist. Each country enjoys capitalist enterprise, and the means of production are all privately owned. More importantly, Scandinavia is far from paradise. The region leads the developed world in suicide rates and has the lowest economic mobility of any developed nation.
We’ll finish the discussion with the hottest topic of the day. Progressives love Obamacare while simultaneously pushing for a single-payer system. I’ve taken on this argument many times, so I’ll be a bit brief. Obamacare has indisputably increased medical mortality rates and lowered American life expectancy. It increased healthcare demand without adjusting supply. The result has caused more fatal errors and longer wait times. Despite that, the U.S. still leads the world in shortest wait times. In Canada and Sweden (two of the best single-payer systems in existence) wait time mortalities range from five to seven times higher than the U.S. This is because average specialist turnaround times run six months or longer. Back home, we can still see a doctor in two weeks or less.
These are just the most famous examples. As a rule of thumb, any time you hear a progressive argument, you can apply even a little basic math and you’ll see just how wrong they are. For the group that likes to demonize its opposition as anti-science, this consistent failure might seem embarrassing. It would be funny if there weren’t so many of them constantly spouting dangerous ideas. Still, the truth always wins in the end, so you can trust basic math to eventually break the progressives one way or another.
~ American Liberty Report
Progressives forget their history of breaking up mega-corporations as they lionize tech giants such as Apple, Google, and Facebook.
Progressives used to pressure U.S. corporations to cut back on outsourcing and on the tactic of building their products abroad to take advantage of inexpensive foreign workers.
During the 2012 election, President Obama attacked Mitt Romney as a potential illiberal “outsourcer-in-chief” for investing in companies that went overseas in search of cheap labor.
Yet most of the computers and smartphones sold by Silicon Valley companies are still being built abroad — to mostly silence from progressive watchdogs.
In the case of the cobalt mining that is necessary for the production of lithium-ion batteries in electric cars, thousands of child laborers in southern Africa are worked to exhaustion.
In the 1960s, campuses boycotted grapes to support Cesar Chavez’s unionization of farm workers. Yet it is unlikely that there will be any effort to boycott tech companies that use lithium-ion batteries produced from African-mined cobalt.
Progressives demand higher taxes on the wealthy. They traditionally argue that tax gimmicks and loopholes are threats to the republic.
Yet few seem to care that West Coast conglomerates such as Amazon, Apple, Google, and Starbucks filtered hundreds of billions in global profits through tax havens such as Bermuda, shorting the United States billions of dollars in income taxes.
The progressive movement took hold in the late 19th century to “trust-bust,” or break up corporations that had cornered the markets in banking, oil, steel, and railroads. Such supposedly foul play had inordinately enriched “robber baron” buccaneers such as John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Mellon, Andrew Carnegie, and J. P. Morgan.
Yet today, the riches of multibillionaires dwarf the wealth of their 19th-century predecessors. Most West Coast corporate wealth was accumulated by good old-fashioned American efforts to achieve monopolies and stifle competition.
Facebook, with 2 billion monthly global users, has now effectively cornered social media.
Google has monopolized internet searches — and modulates users’ search results to accommodate its own business profiteering.
Amazon is America’s new octopus. Its growing tentacles incorporate not just online sales but also media and food retailing.
Yet there are no modern-day progressive muckrakers in the spirit of Upton Sinclair, Frank Norris, and Lincoln Steffens, warning of the dangers of techie monopolies or the astronomical accumulation of wealth. Amazon, Apple, Microsoft, and Facebook are worth nearly $1 trillion each.
Conservatives have no problem with anyone doing well, so their silence is understandable. But in the Obama era, the nation received all sorts of progressive lectures on the downsides of being super-rich.
Victor Davis Hanson is the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow in Residence in Classics and Military History at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, a professor of Classics Emeritus at California State University, Fresno, and a nationally syndicated columnist for Tribune Media Services.
He is also the Wayne & Marcia Buske Distinguished Fellow in History, Hillsdale College, where he teaches each fall semester courses in military history and classical culture.
In private schools, as in private enterprise in general, poor performance drives funding away by driving paying customers away. Yet in public schools, poor performance is used as an excuse for increased funding. With incentives like these, is it any wonder that public schools are failing our children so badly? Isn't it time to inject some competition into the system?
Education for all is a worthy wish. So is food for all. But we don't force poor people to eat state-produced food. Even food stamp recipients get to choose where to shop. Why shouldn’t beneficiaries of public education spending get to choose where to send their kids?
Two economically inquiring minds want to know...
Antony Davies is associate professor of economics at Duquesne University and Chief Academic Officer at FreedomTrust. Dr. Davies has authored more than 300 op-eds in, among others, the Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, New York Daily News, and Washington Post, and has produced more than 200 educational videos on economics, public policy, and statistics.
James R. Harrigan is CEO of FreedomTrust. Dr. Harrigan taught at the collegiate level for a number of years, became Dean of the American University of Iraq-Sulaimani, and later served as Director of Academic Programs at the Institute for Humane Studies and Strata, where he was also Senior Research Fellow.
Occupational licensing started with the idea that jobs with serious consequences – doctors being the prototypical example – require some sort of government certification and oversight. But that rather innocuous motivation has ballooned into a harmful and unsustainable state of affairs.
Fortunately, the Supreme Court has offered some hope.
From laws requiring licenses to braid hair to ones requiring licenses for floral design and casket manufacturing, occupational licensure has put barriers in the way of people who wish to do non-dangerous jobs and has done little to protect consumers. Instead, it’s frequently used as a way for politically well-connected people and state licensing boards to freeze out their competition, a textbook example of regulatory capture. The end result makes it harder for people to find fruitful employment, particularly low-income workers who often don’t have the time or money to get licenses.
Fortunately, the Supreme Court has offered some hope for those who don’t want needless barriers thrown their way when they want to make a living.
In 2014, the Court held in North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners v. Federal Trade Commission that a licensing board that had banned non-dentists from offering teeth-whitening services had violated federal antitrust laws – and that all licensing boards do the same when they engage in anticompetitive practices. (This was incidentally the first and only case in which Cato filed a brief supporting the federal government.) The Court further clarified that licensing boards have antitrust immunity if they’re subject to “active supervision” by the state in question.
States can get around this requirement by simply rubber-stamping everything done by the licensing boards, undermining the intended procompetitive effects of the decision in the process. In addition, there are valid concerns that the decision undermined state sovereignty in light of the fact that under Parker v. Brown, 317 U. S. 341 (1943), the Sherman Antitrust Act doesn’t apply to state government agencies.
Ilya Shapiro is a senior fellow in constitutional studies at the Cato Institute and editor-in-chief of the Cato Supreme Court Review.
The media dubbed her the Republican Huma Abedin. She’s been one of the most powerful women in two Republican administrations. She’s friends with Valerie Jarrett. And you’ve never heard her name.
Flash back to the spring of this year.
Cameras flashed as Aya Hijazi sat next to President Trump. Media reports described her as an imprisoned rescue worker who had been released from Egypt after administration intervention.
Aya Hijazi was also the photogenic face of a campaign against the post-Brotherhood Egyptian government. If you believed the stories, Hijazi had learned French and Spanish while in prison. Photos showed her reading Maya Angelou's ‘I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings’ behind bars. Snaps from that calculated photoshoot would be used to illustrate countless media sob stories about her plight in prison.
Mohamed Hassanein, her husband, received far less attention. As did the other arrested members of the Belady Foundation which had been accused of using street children in Muslim Brotherhood riots.
Aya’s cause was quickly taken up by all the usual suspects.
Hillary Clinton had met with President Sisi and called for Hijazi’s release. Rep. Gerry Connolly, the go-to guy for Muslim Brotherhood front groups, had blustered, "The Egyptian government mistakes American resolve.” Avril Haines, the former indie bookstore owner who had been appointed by Obama as Deputy Director of the CIA and Deputy National Security Advisor, despite having no relevant experience, met with Hijazi’s family and issued a statement demanding her release.
None of this meant that Hassanein and Hijazi were guilty of the charges. Politically they appeared to be closer to the left than to the Islamists. Hijazi hasn’t worn a hijab outside of her imprisonment.
But the larger question is whose interests were being served by bringing her to the White House?
In a PBS interview, Aya Hijazi challenged President Trump’s praise for Egypt’s leader. She accused him of keeping “thousands of wrongly imprisoned people” in prison. “It’s not just for fighting terrorism,” she insisted. And she made a point of correcting President Trump on the Muslim Brotherhood.
"It seemed like he had this idea that... it was at the time of the Muslim Brotherhood," Hijazi said. "So, he was like, 'So was your arrest — be at the time of the Brotherhood?' And I said, no. And then he said, 'Oh, it was at the time of Sisi.' And he was taken aback. It seemed, like, different to what he had in mind."
The media had agitated for Hijazi because it served its agenda of opposing Sisi and supporting the Brotherhood. Bringing Hijazi to the White House appeared to serve the same agenda. She was meant as an object lesson to Trump that the real bad guys weren’t the Brotherhood, but the Egyptian military.
Hijazi was escorted back from Egypt by Dina Habib Powell. And Habib Powell was there sitting opposite Ivanka and Jared at the meeting with President Trump. In the media, Powell is often associated with Ivanka. And indeed, Ivanka posed with Hijazi in a widely circulated photo. But she is also so much more.
Dina Habib Powell was an influential figure in the Bush administration. The Egyptian-American immigrant had served as a gatekeeper for George W. Bush. If you wanted a job, you went through her. Barely 30, Habib Powell had more power than many of the big Bush era names you do know.
Then she took on the mission of promoting America to the Muslim world at the State Department. There were cultural exchanges with Iran and money for Lebanon and the Palestinian Authority. Afterward it was off to make millions through philanthropy at the Goldman Sachs Foundation.
When President Trump took office, Avril Haines was replaced by K.T. McFarland at the National Security Council. McFarland had worked at the Pentagon under Reagan and her views on Islamic terror were forthright. "Global Islamist jihad is at war with all of Western Civilization," she said after the Charlie Hebdo attacks. She called for profiling terrorists and an end to the big lie of political correctness."They have launched a guerrilla war against us in our own neighborhoods. They shout 'Allahu Akbar, The Prophet is Avenged.' We’re still calling it 'workplace violence,' 'senseless killings' or 'man-caused disasters.' Our leaders insist these are criminal acts, not acts of war."
Of the Muslim Brotherhood, McFarland correctly pointed out that, “The Muslim Brotherhood was the godfather of al-Qaeda. The number 2 guy in al-Qaeda was Muslim Brotherhood.”
When Flynn was forced out and McMaster took over, there was no room for her views at the NSC.
At an NSC meeting, H.R. McMaster insisted that Islamic terror had nothing to do with Islam. The use of “radical Islamic terrorism” was a mistake. McFarland was in attendance.
Before long, McMaster had pushed out McFarland and replaced her with Dina Habib Powell.
Habib Powell had all the right friends. Like Valerie Jarrett. Arianna Huffington praised the White House for bringing her in. Her ex-husband heads up Teneo Strategy: the organization created by the same man who made the Clinton Foundation happen and which employed Huma Abedin.
You could see her posing next to Huma, Arianna and a Saudi princess. You can see her photographed at the American Task Force of Palestine gala. The ATFP was originally Rashid Khalidi’s American Committee on Jerusalem. Khalidi was the former PLO spokesman at the center of the Obama tape scandal. And Habib Powell was there as a presenter at the Middle East Institute after a speech by the PLO’s Hanan Ashrawi.
Unlike McFarland, Habib Powell had no national security background. But though her parents were Christians, she had the “right” views on Islam. In Egypt, she had described how Bush after September 11 had, “visited a mosque, took off his shoes and paid his respects.” "I see the president talk of Islam as a religion of peace, I see him host an iftar every year.” Habib Powell had attended such an iftar dinner.
While President Trump fights to restrict Muslim immigration, back in the Bush era, Habib Powell had bragged on CNN, “Over 90% of student visas are now issued in under a week, and that is in the Middle East.”
Habib Powell has been described as the Republican Huma Abedin. And she was quoted as saying that Abedin “feels a deep responsibility to encourage more mutual understanding between her beliefs and culture and American culture.”
Within a short time, Habib Powell became the Senior Counselor for Economic Initiatives, the Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategy and was being put forward as Chief of Staff. If Kelly doesn’t work out, the effort to move her up will resume. And then the gatekeeper will be back at the gate.
Dina Habib Powell is a deep part of the Republican establishment. Her top role at the NSC represents McMaster’s vision for our approach to Islam. And it’s an echo of the failed approach of the Bush years. Flynn made the NSC into a tool that matched Trump’s vision. McMaster is remaking it to match Jeb Bush’s vision.
Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical left and Islamic terrorism.
Three cheers for the RAISE Act!
The current issue of Newsweek (yes, it’s still in business!) has a picture of President Trump sitting in a recliner, with snacks and an iPad in his lap, pointing his TV remote at the viewer, blazoned with the headline, “Lazy Boy.”
Liberals only wish.
Last week, the president joined Sens. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and David Perdue (R-Ga.) to announce legislation that would make seminal changes to our immigration laws for the first time in more than half a century, profoundly affecting the entire country.
The media have chosen not to cover the RAISE Act (Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment). This bill is their worst nightmare.
Instead of admitting immigrants on the basis of often specious “family” ties, the bill would finally allow us to choose the immigrants we want, based on merit, with points granted for skills, English proficiency, advanced degrees, actual job offers and so on.
Most Americans have no idea that we have zero say about the vast majority of immigrants pouring into our country. Two-thirds of all legal immigrants get in not because we want them — or even because Mark Zuckerberg wants them — but under idiotic “family reunification” laws.
The most important provision of the RAISE Act would define “family” the way most Americans think of it: your spouse and minor children.
Unfortunately, that’s not how the Third World thinks of “family.” In tribal societies, “family” means the whole extended clan — adult siblings, elderly parents and brothers-in-law, plus all their adult siblings and elderly parents, and so on, ad infinitum.
It’s happened again. Police officers in Southaven, Miss., were trying to serve an arrest warrant for aggravated assault on a man named Samuel Pearman, but instead they showed up at a trailer owned by an auto mechanic named Ismael Lopez. It was nighttime, and according to his wife, Lopez went to the door to investigate a noise. She stayed in bed.
What happened next was tragic. According to the police, Lopez opened his door and a pit bull charged out. One officer opened fire on the dog, the other officer fired on the man allegedly holding a gun in the doorway, pointing it at the men approaching his home. As the Washington Post reported on July 26, it was only after the smoke cleared that the officers made their “heart-dropping discovery: They were at the wrong home.”
Lawful, violent police action against innocent homeowners is unjust and undermines the Second Amendment.
Lopez died that night. Just like Andrew Scott died in his entrance hall, gun in hand, when the police pounded on the wrong door late one night, Scott opened it, saw shadowy figures outside, and started to retreat back into his house. Police opened fire, and he died in seconds.
Angel Mendez was more fortunate. He “only” lost his leg when the police barged into his home without a warrant and without announcing themselves. They saw his BB gun and opened fire, inflicting grievous wounds.
If past precedent holds, it’s likely that the officers who killed Ismael Lopez will be treated exactly like the officers in the Scott and Mendez cases. They won’t be prosecuted for crimes, and they’ll probably even be immune from a civil suit, with the court following precedents holding that the officers didn’t violate Lopez’s “clearly established” constitutional rights when they approached the wrong house. After all, officers have their own rights of self-defense. What, exactly, are they supposed to do when a gun is pointed at their face?
In other words, the law typically allows officers to shoot innocent homeowners who are lawfully exercising their Second Amendment rights and then provides these same innocent victims with no compensation for the deaths and injuries that result. This is unacceptable, it’s unjust, and it undermines the Second Amendment.
How Can We Fix This?
Think where this leaves homeowners who hear strange sounds or who confront pounding on the door. Should they risk their safety by leaving their gun in the safe while they check to make sure it’s not the police? Should they risk their lives by bringing the gun to the door, knowing that the police may not announce themselves and may simply be trying to barge into the wrong home? Doesn’t the right to be free from “unreasonable” search and seizure include a right to be free of armed, mistaken, warrantless home intrusions?
It’s time for the law to accommodate the Second Amendment. It’s time for legal doctrine to reflect that when the state intrudes in the wrong home — or lawlessly or recklessly even into the right home — that it absolutely bears the costs of its own mistakes. It’s time for law enforcement practice to reflect the reality that tens of millions of law-abiding men and women exercise their fundamental, constitutional rights to protect themselves and their families.
Doesn't "unreasonable" search and seizure include armed, mistaken, warrantless home intrusions?
What does this mean, in practice? First, extraordinarily dangerous and kinetic no-knock raids should be used only in the most extreme circumstances. Writers such as Radley Balko have written extensively about the prevalence of the practice (even in routine drug busts), the dangers inherent in dynamic entry, and the sad and terrible circumstances where the police find themselves in a gunfight with terrified homeowners.
Second, prosecutors should closely scrutinize every single instance of mistaken-identity raids. Good-faith mistakes are always possible, but given the stakes involved when police raid homes or pound on doors late at night with their guns drawn, they should exercise a high degree of care and caution in choosing the right house. It’s hard to imagine a worse or more tragic injustice than being gunned down in your own home by mistaken agents of the state.
Third, if and when police do kill or injure innocent homeowners, they should be stripped of qualified immunity — even when the homeowner is armed. There are circumstances where it would improper to file criminal charges against an officer who makes a good-faith mistake and finds himself making an immediate life-or-death situation, but when the mistake is his, then he should face strict liability for all the harm he causes.
David French is a staff writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, an attorney (concentrating his practice in constitutional law and the law of armed conflict), and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He is the author or co-author of several books including, most recently, the No. 1 New York Times bestselling Rise of ISIS: A Threat We Can’t Ignore
Slavery in America, typically associated with blacks from Africa, was an enterprise that began with the shipping of more than 300,000 white Britons to the colonies. This little-known history is fascinatingly recounted in White Cargo (New York University Press, 2007). Drawing on letters, diaries, ship manifests, court documents, and government archives, authors Don Jordan and Michael Walsh detail how thousands of whites endured the hardships of tobacco farming and lived and died in bondage in the New World.
Following the cultivation in 1613 of an acceptable tobacco crop in Virginia, the need for labor accelerated. Slavery was viewed as the cheapest and most expedient way of providing the necessary work force. Due to harsh working conditions, beatings, starvation, and disease, survival rates for slaves rarely exceeded two years. Thus, the high level of demand was sustained by a continuous flow of white slaves from England, Ireland, and Scotland from 1618 to 1775, who were imported to serve America's colonial masters.
These white slaves in the New World consisted of street children plucked from London's back alleys, prostitutes, and impoverished migrants searching for a brighter future and willing to sign up for indentured servitude. Convicts were also persuaded to avoid long sentences and executions on their home soil by enslavement in the British colonies. The much maligned Irish, viewed as savages worthy of ethnic cleansing and despised for their rejection of Protestantism, also made up a portion of America's first slave population, as did Quakers, Cavaliers, Puritans, Jesuits, and others.
Around 1618 at the start of their colonial slave trade, the English began by seizing and shipping to Virginia impoverished children, even toddlers, from London slums. Some impoverished parents sought a better life for their offspring and agreed to send them, but most often, the children were sent despite their own protests and those of their families. At the time, the London authorities represented their actions as an act of charity, a chance for a poor youth to apprentice in America, learn a trade, and avoid starvation at home. Tragically, once these unfortunate youngsters arrived, 50% of them were dead within a year after being sold to farmers to work the fields.
A few months after the first shipment of children, the first African slaves were shipped to Virginia. Interestingly, no American market existed for African slaves until late in the 17th century. Until then, black slave traders typically took their cargo to Bermuda. England's poor were the colonies' preferred source of slave labor, even though Europeans were more likely than Africans to die an early death in the fields. Slave owners had a greater interest in keeping African slaves alive because they represented a more significant investment. Black slaves received better treatment than Europeans on plantations, as they were viewed as valuable, lifelong property rather than indentured servants with a specific term of service.
These indentured servants represented the next wave of laborers. They were promised land after a period of servitude, but most worked unpaid for up to15 years with few ever owning any land. Mortality rates were high. Of the 1,200 who arrived in 1619, more than two thirds perished in the first year from disease, working to death, or Indian raid killings. In Maryland, out of 5,000 indentured servants who entered the colony between 1670 and 1680, 1,250 died in bondage, 1,300 gained their right to freedom, and only 241 ever became landowners.
Early in the 17th century, the headright system, a land allocation program to attract new colonists, began in Jamestown, Virginia as an attempt to solve labor shortages. The program provided acreage to heads of households that funded travel to the colony for destitute individuals to work the land. It led to the sharp growth of indentured servitude and slavery because the more slaves imported by a colonist, the larger the tracts of land received. Promises of prosperity and land were used to lure the poor, who were typically enslaved for three to 15 years. All the while, agents profited handsomely by augmenting their land holdings. Corruption was rampant in the headright system and included double-counting of individual slaves, land allocations for servants who were dead upon arrival, and per head fees given for those kidnapped off English streets.
Janet Levy, MBA, MSW, is an activist, world traveler, and freelance journalist who has contributed to American Thinker, Pajamas Media, Full Disclosure Network, FrontPage Magazine, Family Security Matters and other publications.
Fifteen years ago, I backed the war with Iraq. Moreover, even after no weapons of mass destruction were found, I agreed wholeheartedly with the neocon argument that we should stay the course because the spread of democracy would transform the Middle East. Oops. On both accounts I was dead wrong, and over the years have said so many times. Neocons and left-wing progressives share one very important characteristic: beyond any question, reality has proven the failure of both ideologies.
Another lesson I learned, a healthy lesson I was sure we had all learned, is that the American intelligence community (IC) is, at best, fallible. At worst — and the illegal leaks against Trump of late only back this up — the IC is agenda-driven, willing to lie and break the law in order to run our country from its Deep State lair. Regardless, when it comes to Big Decisions, when it comes to pulling a trigger against another country, skepticism of any conclusions made by the IC is a must.
Apparently not. If you take a long, slow look around, if you gaze at Republicans, Democrats and the mainstream media, no one appears to have learned the lessons of Iraq … except for President Trump.
On his Sunday show, CNN anchor Jake Tapper did more than just exaggerate his "hood" credentials, he also disturbingly summed up the near-religious hysteria we are seeing from all corners with respect to Russia. And in this particular case, I am not even talking about the phony Russian-collusion conspiracy theory being waged against Trump. I'm talking about something even more serious — the zeal to pull the trigger on Russia based on intelligence from the very same IC that took us into a costly war based on something that proved to be not even close to true.
For at least five minutes, speaking for many more than just himself, Tapper browbeat Trump's incoming communications director Anthony Scaramucci over Trump's sin of being the last man standing when it comes to blindly buying into the consensus of the IC. Here are some highlights:
TAPPER: We have experts, the U.S. intelligence agencies, unanimous, both Obama appointees and Trump appointees, the director of national intelligence, the head of the National Security Agency, the head of the FBI, I mean, all of these intelligence experts saying Russia hacked the intelligence — Russia hacked the election, they tried to interfere in the election. …
[H]ere you have a bill, legislation that was passed 98-2 in the U.S. Senate. The House is about to pass it. It will probably also be an overwhelming vote to sanction Russia. …
And President Trump told you that he still doesn't believe that Russia was trying to interfere in the election, even though the overwhelming body of the U.S. Senate, which is controlled by Republicans, and his own intelligence experts are telling him the opposite. …
But it's almost irrelevant whether you think it's true and what President Trump says, because it's the unanimous consensus of the intelligence community — community that this happened.
Anyone else suffering a 2002 flashback?
This is madness.
And as much as I would like it to not be the case, I am not here to single out Tapper. Unfortunately, the mindless zealotry you just read above is everywhere in the media, and worse, in the Republican Party.
What makes the Dogma of the Intelligence Community even more frightening is the fact that all kinds of unanswered questions revolve around this Holy Consensus. Nevertheless, like a cult, the DC-MSM-Complex is moving full-speed ahead to punish Russia for "hacking the election," even though the vaunted IC does not have all the facts with a key part of this conspiracy, the issue involving the so-called hack of the Democrat National Committee.
Wouldn't you like to have a few more of these issues resolved before we move up another notch on the Defcon charts?
And so, in the middle of this unthinking, anti-science frenzy that makes the McCarthy-era look like a Sunday picnic, one man is keeping his cool, one man is retaining his healthy skepticism, one man is actually taking the time to aim before he pulls a trigger … and thankfully that man just happens to be the President of the United States.
President Trump was enjoying a steak dinner at the White House last week with top Republican senators when the news came. Healthcare reform had also been on the menu, but the meal was rudely interrupted as two more GOP senators came out against their party's plan to repeal and replace parts of Obamacare.
"It's unfortunate," Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., told reporters at the time. "I still think it will happen — just not this week or this month." Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was not as upbeat. "Regretfully, it is now apparent that the effort to repeal and immediately replace the failure of Obamacare will not be successful," the Kentucky Republican said.
That turned out to be a somewhat premature assessment, as healthcare talks resumed in the following days. But it's still the case that six months into the Trump administration, with Republican control of the House and Senate as well as the White House, no major legislation has passed.
Republicans were reduced to contemplating symbolic "messaging" bills on legislation they had promised to pass if given the majorities to do so. "Think of it as a separating of the wheat from the chaff exercise," a GOP congressional aide said of one high-profile proposal under consideration at the time.
That's not the way the White House sees it, naturally. "We've signed more bills — and I'm talking about through the legislature — than any president ever," Trump said this month, before adding a reference to media fact-checkers. "I better say ‘think,' otherwise they'll give you a Pinocchio. And I don't like those — I don't like Pinocchios."
McConnell's summary of the Republican-dominated federal government more accurately describes how modest it has been. "Well, we have a new Supreme Court justice," he told reporters. "We have 14 repeals of regulations. And we're only six months into it. Last time I looked, Congress goes on for two years."
This sounds remarkably similar to the last period of unified Republican control of Washington, 2005 to 2007, the period between President George W. Bush's re-election and Nancy Pelosi becoming the speaker of the House. "The people made it clear what they wanted," Bush vowed. "I earned capital in the campaign, political capital, and I intend to spend it."
Republicans got two conservative members of the Supreme Court: Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justice Samuel Alito. But the political capital spent on an abortive effort to reform Social Security yielded no returns. The Bush administration's plan was never even voted on by Congress, much like Bill and Hillary Clinton's healthcare plan over a decade earlier. There was little else in terms of legislation to show for the short-lived period of Republican dominance.
Ironically, some even cited the Bush 43 experience as a reason to try the Trump experiment. A Republican lawyer told the Wall Street Journal, "The party is also paying a price for failing to deliver coherent governance when they held the presidency and both houses of Congress after George W. Bush's first election. ... Perhaps Donald Trump will be able to herd these cats."
W. James Antle III is the Washington Examiner's politics editor. He was previously managing editor of the Daily Caller, associate editor of the American Spectator and senior writer for the American Conservative. He is the author of Devouring Freedom: Can Big Government Ever Be Stopped?
Every year the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) comes out with a report card on the condition of America’s infrastructure. We got a D+ this year. According to them, “Deteriorating infrastructure is impeding our ability to compete in the thriving global economy, and improvements are necessary to ensure our country is built for the future.”
They calculate that every family in America will lose $3,400 a year because of infrastructure deficiencies. If the problem isn’t fixed, they say, GDP will lose $4 trillion a year by then (2025) and 2.5 million jobs will be lost. They recommend an additional $1.1 trillion of spending on transportation (roads and bridges) over the next 10 years to correct this problem.
America’s infrastructure is not crumbling and massive spending won’t create any permanent jobs.
President Donald Trump says that we need to spend $1 trillion to “transform America’s crumbling infrastructure into a golden opportunity for accelerated economic growth and more rapid productivity gains.”
Liberals and conservatives alike get teary-eyed when they hear this. They think that massive spending, especially on roads and bridges, will “put people back to work” and make America more productive.
Here is the reality: America’s infrastructure is not crumbling, massive spending won’t create any permanent jobs, and productivity is not suffering because of our infrastructure. These are economic myths that lobbyists, infrastructure contractors, and the ASCE perpetuate to get fat contracts.
Things Just Keep Getting Better
Let me back up for a moment and say that, yes, our transportation system, for example, is an important factor in productivity and inefficiencies could harm productivity. Los Angeles is a glaring example of inefficiency since it again was the world’s worst metro area for traffic congestion (104 hours per year wasted in traffic; NYC – 89; SF – 83). Surely commuters’ time would be better spent in more productive activities than listening to NPR.
Let me also note that by “we” as in “we need to spend $X trillion …”, the “we” are your local, state, and federal governments who own and operate our roads and bridges. They are the reason we have transportation infrastructure problems. You have only to look to your politicians to place the blame.
If you look at transportation issues over time, things have been getting better, not worse. When the ASCE comes out with their Report Card every year, our news media dutifully start their reporting by showing a bridge or road somewhere that is crumbling and it is cited as an exemplar of the problem of “our crumbling infrastructure.” What they don’t tell you is that if you look at transportation issues over time, things have been getting better, not worse (except the aforementioned traffic congestion).
Jeffrey Harding is a real estate investor living in Santa Barbara, California. He writes about economics and finance at AnIndependentMind.com. He is an Adjunct Professor at Santa Barbara City College where he teaches Real Estate Investment.
There’s a tension so deep in how we think about free expression, it should rightly be called a paradox.
On the one hand, regardless of ideology, artists and writers almost unanimously insist that they do what they do to change minds. But the same artistes, auteurs, and opiners recoil in horror when anyone suggests that they might be responsible for inspiring bad deeds.
Hollywood, the music industry, journalism, political ideologies, even the Confederate flag: Each takes its turn in the dock when some madman or fool does something terrible.
The arguments against free speech are stacked and waiting for these moments like weapons in a gladiatorial armory. There’s no philosophical consistency to when they get picked up and deployed, beyond the unimpeachable consistency of opportunism.
Hollywood activists blame the toxic rhetoric of right-wing talk radio or the tea party for this crime, the National Rifle Association blames Hollywood for that atrocity. Liberals decry the toxic rhetoric of the Right, conservatives blame the toxic rhetoric of the Left.
When attacked – again heedless of ideology or consistency – the gladiators instantly trade weapons. The finger-pointers of five minutes ago suddenly wax righteous in their indignation that mere expression – rather, their expression – should be blamed.
Many of the same liberals who pounded soapboxes into pulp at the very thought of labeling record albums with violent-lyrics warnings instantly insisted that Sarah Palin had Representative Gabby Giffords’s blood on her hands. Many of the conservatives who spewed hot fire at the suggestion that they had any culpability in an abortion-clinic bombing gleefully insisted that Senator Bernie Sanders is partially to blame for Representative Steve Scalise’s fight with death.
And this is where the paradox starts to come into view: Everyone has a point.“The blame for violent acts lies with the people who commit them, and with those who explicitly and seriously call for violence,” Dan McLaughlin, my National Review colleague, wrote in the Los Angeles Times last week. “People who just use overheated political rhetoric, or who happen to share the gunman’s opinions, should be nowhere on the list.” If words don’t matter, then democracy is a joke.
As a matter of law, I agree with this entirely. But as a matter of culture, it’s more complicated.
I have always thought it absurd to claim that expression cannot lead people to do bad things, precisely because it is so obvious that expression can lead people to do good things. According to legend, Abraham Lincoln told Harriet Beecher Stowe, “So you’re the little woman who wrote the book that started this great war.” Should we mock Lincoln for saying something ridiculous?
As Irving Kristol once put it, “If you believe that no one was ever corrupted by a book, you have also to believe that no one was ever improved by a book. You have to believe, in other words, that art is morally trivial and that education is morally irrelevant.”
If words don’t matter, then democracy is a joke, because democracy depends entirely on making arguments – not for killing, but for voting. Only a fool would argue that words can move people to vote but not to kill.