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Updated: 2017-04-29T02:32:40.663-04:00

 



Cruising the Web

2017-04-28T07:08:49.519-04:00

Well, give Trump points for being frank, but reallY? Now he's saying that he thought being president would be easier than his life as a businessman and reality star.He misses driving, feels as if he is in a cocoon, and is surprised how hard his new job is.President Donald Trump on Thursday reflected on his first 100 days in office with a wistful look at his life before the White House."I loved my previous life. I had so many things going," Trump told Reuters in an interview. "This is more work than in my previous life. I thought it would be easier."Geez, really? Had he paid attention at all in his adult life to what a president has to deal with? Had he noticed how partisanship has made it almost impossible to ever pass anything in Congress? Did he think that Congressional Democrats would be easier to deal with than banks and NBC? Did he notice what was going on around the world in the Middle East, North Korea or Russia? And he thought his prior life as a billionaire making a living off of selling his name would have been more work? I can't even...Allahpundit looks at the continuing demolition of Mike Flynn's reputation. Apparently, even though he was warned by the DIA that he had to inform them of earning any money from a foreign country, yet he didn't tell them about getting money from Russia Times. And is the Trump team trying to hide documents on this from Congress? This seems like a likely theory.It’s not that he’s trying to suppress something embarrassing about Flynn (e.g., that he also neglected to inform the White House of his lobbying work), in other words, but that he’s trying to set a precedent early in his term that Congress shouldn’t expect to get executive-branch records on demand in its investigations. Maybe, though, the reason they’re sitting on the records is less principled and more political — namely, the records might show that the transition team did have an inkling that Flynn hadn’t properly disclosed his payments and they … went ahead and made him national security advisor anyway.Maybe they knew that this stuff would come out eventually and wanted to hide the embarrassment.They may have realized that the dirt would come out eventually, though, and that it would cause them a major headache when it did — why was the national security advisor hiding foreign money from the Pentagon? — so they started looking around immediately for other reasons to force his resignation. When the Kislyak matter arose, they seized the opportunity. Tools and Home ImprovementToday’s DealsFashion Sales and DealsCharles Krauthammer writes about the populist moment that some had argued was sweeping the west from the Brexit vote to Trump's victory to the candidacies of Geert Wilders in the Netherlands and Marine Le Pen in France. He argues that people have overestimated the populist panic and are downplaying its supposed collapse as Wilders fell short and Le Pen will certainly lose in the runoff election. In retrospect, the populist panic may have been overblown. Regarding Brexit, for example, the shock exaggerated its meaning. Because it was so unexpected, it became a sensation. But in the longer view, Britain has always been deeply ambivalent about Europe, going back at least to Henry VIII and his break with Rome. In the intervening 500 years, Britain has generally seen itself as less a part of Europe than an offshore island.The true historical anomaly was Britain's EU membership with all the attendant transfer of sovereignty from Westminster to Brussels. Brexit was a rather brutal return to the extra-European norm, but the norm it is.The other notable populist victory, the triumph of Trump, has also turned out to be less than meets the eye. He certainly ran as a populist and won as a populist but, a mere 100 days in, he is governing as a traditionalist.The Obamacare replacement proposals are traditional small-government fixes. His tax reform is a follow-on to Reagan's from 1986. His Supreme Court pick is a straight-laced, constitutional conservative out of central casting. And his more notab[...]



Cruising the Web

2017-04-27T06:04:38.029-04:00

Jonathan Haidt has a great essay on how intimidation on college campuses is the new normal. He really nails it. He goes through the notable examples of college students denying speakers such as Milo Yiannopoulos, Charles Murray, and Heather MacDonald from speaking simply because they don't like the message that they imagined that they were going to hear. Violence has become a common element of such protests. Regarding the mob that shut down MacDonald's talk, Haidt writes, What are we to make of this? There were no reports of violence or property damage. Yet this event is pote ntially more ominous than the Berkeley and Middlebury violence, for we are witnessing the emergence of a dangerous new norm for responding to speakers who challenge campus orthodoxy. Anyone offended by the speaker can put out a call on Facebook to bring together students and locals, including "antifa" (antifascist) and black-bloc activists who explicitly endorse the use of violence against racists and fascists. Because of flagrant "concept creep," however, almost anyone who is politically right of center can be labeled a racist or a fascist, and the promiscuous use of such labels is now part of the standard operating procedure. The call to shut down Mac Donald’s talk asserted, without evidence, that her agenda is "racist, anti-Black, capitalist, imperialist, [and] fascist." As with accusations of witchcraft in earlier centuries, once such labels are attached to someone, few will dare to challenge their accuracy, lest they be accused of the same crimes.It is crucial to note that at all three colleges — Berkeley, Middlebury, and Claremont McKenna — the crowd included a mix of students and locals, some wearing masks. It is therefore no longer possible to assume that a crowd on a college campus will be nonviolent, as crowds of protesting students were in the fall of 2015. What would have happened to Mac Donald had she tried to enter or exit through the main entrance, without a police escort? From now on, any campus speaker who arouses a protest is at risk of a beating. Can this really be the future of American higher education?Haidt notes the reasoning that these protesters now employ to justify their violence.A common feature of recent campus shout-downs is the argument that the speaker "dehumanizes" members of marginalized groups or "denies their right to exist." No quotations or citations are given for such strong assertions; these are rhetorical moves made to strengthen the case against the speaker. But if students come to believe that anyone who offends them has "dehumanized" them, they are setting themselves up for far greater vulnerability and isolation. Life, love, and work are full of small offenses and misunderstandings, many of which will now be experienced as monstrous and unforgivable.Students have decided that they don't need to engage speakers on their ideas. Once they've decided that someone has views they dislike, engagement is unnecessary.Second, students in the past few years have increasingly opted for collective action to shut down talks by speakers they dislike, rather than taking the two traditional options available to all individuals: Don’t go to the talk, or go and engage the speaker in the question-and-answer period. The decision to turn so many events into collective moral struggles has profound ramifications for the entire college. Everyone is pressured to take sides. Administrators are pressured to disinvite speakers, or at least to condemn their scholarship and morals while reluctantly noting their right to speak. Petitions are floated, and names of signers (and abstainers) are noted.This is precisely the wrong attitude that should prevail on college campuses.But the tribal mind is incompatible with scholarship, open-minded thinking, toleration of dissent, and the search for truth. When tribal sentiments are activated within an academic community, some members start to believe that their noble collective ends justify almost any means, including the demonization of inconvenient resea[...]



Cruising the Web

2017-04-26T06:38:55.569-04:00

Robert Tracinski ponders something that has long bothered me as well as many conservatives - that so many people shrug off the evils of Communist countries. What provoked Tracinski's essay was the remarks from a British athlete, James Cracknell, who gave North Korea and Cuba as countries who knew how to "get a handle on obesity." Apparently, he didn't realized that those countries basically starve their populations. Yup, starvation will help people lose weight.If you want to find another country that is really doing something about obesity, you can look to Venezuela, which is providing a wonderful model for involuntary weight loss.But a lot of people don’t seem to want to look at Venezuela, because that would be uncomfortable. A few years back, a lot of them were praising Venezuela as a model of socialism, the same way they praise Cuba. Here’s just a small sample: David Sirota in Salon proclaimed Venezuela’s “economic miracle” thanks to Hugo Chavez’s “full-throated advocacy of socialism” and “fundamental critique of neoliberal [i.e., free market] economics.” Left-leaning celebrities traipsed to Caracas to pay their respects. Bernie Sanders declared just a few years ago that “the American dream is more apt to be realized in…Venezuela” than here. He concluded by asking, “Who’s the banana republic now?”We’re seeing the answer to that. Today, Venezuelans are starving and the remainders of the Chavez regime are sending gangs of armed thugs into the streets to attack anyone who protests. And all of the people who praised the Venezuelan regime as a paragon of socialism? They suddenly don’t want to talk about it.This is just the tip of an iceberg of insensitivity, ignorance, and denial about socialism’s ongoing and historical track record. The bodies keep piling up, but the ideology that produced those bodies always gets a free pass. You know what this is? It’s the equivalent of Holocaust denial for the Left.While those on the left would be horrified if anyone denied the Holocaust or downplayed its evils, they often do the same thing for the results of communism. And so young people today think that socialism is a good thing and cheer Bernie Sanders' panegyrics to socialism. What have they missed that they can believe that? Here’s what they’ve missed: the artificial famine in Ukraine, the Soviet Gulags, the forced deportation of Lithuanians, the persecution of Christians, China’s Great Leap Forward and Cultural Revolution, the killing fields of Cambodia, North Korea’s horrific prison camps and famines, the systematic impoverishment of Cuba, and now Venezuela’s collapse into starvation and mass-murder. All of this should be absolutely required background knowledge for any educated person....Now when I cite all of this history, there’s always someone who insists that it isn’t fair to pin all of these crimes on “socialism” because those examples weren’t really socialism. The only “real” socialism is the warm, fuzzy welfare-statism of a handful of innucuous Western European countries. This is a pretty obvious version of the No True Scotsman fallacy, and a good way of disavowing responsibility for the disastrous results of a system you praised just a few years earlier.But these crimes follow inevitably from the basic idea behind socialism: the idea that the good of “society” as a collective is more important the rights or even the life of the individual. That’s the “social” in “socialism,” and by throwing out the rights and liberty of the individual, it serves as a rationalization for an endless amount of carnage. Who cares if this particular person—or a few million people—suffer, so long as you can claim that mankind collectively benefits?Consider the name of the roving thugs who are beating and killing dissidents in Venezuela right now: they call themselves collectivos. That says it all.Socialism has been tested out more times and in more variations than probably any other social system, It h[...]



Cruising the Web

2017-04-25T06:25:49.265-04:00

Politico has published an investigation into what Obama did in order to get the Iranian deal. The details are horrifying. As part of the deal President Obama announced a one-time release of seven Iranian-Americans that Obama described as "civilians" in exchange for Tehran's pledge to free five Americans. But Obama was lying to us about who these men were.In his Sunday morning address to the American people, Obama portrayed the seven men he freed as “civilians.” The senior official described them as businessmen convicted of or awaiting trial for mere “sanctions-related offenses, violations of the trade embargo.”In reality, some of them were accused by Obama’s own Justice Department of posing threats to national security. Three allegedly were part of an illegal procurement network supplying Iran with U.S.-made microelectronics with applications in surface-to-air and cruise missiles like the kind Tehran test-fired recently, prompting a still-escalating exchange of threats with the Trump administration. Another was serving an eight-year sentence for conspiring to supply Iran with satellite technology and hardware. As part of the deal, U.S. officials even dropped their demand for $10 million that a jury said the aerospace engineer illegally received from Tehran.And in a series of unpublicized court filings, the Justice Department dropped charges and international arrest warrants against 14 other men, all of them fugitives. The administration didn’t disclose their names or what they were accused of doing, noting only in an unattributed, 152-word statement about the swap that the U.S. “also removed any Interpol red notices and dismissed any charges against 14 Iranians for whom it was assessed that extradition requests were unlikely to be successful.”Politico goes on to detail the actions taken by these men that clearly indicate their support of terrorism such as conspiring to buy thousands of assault rifles or smuggling components for IEDs, the types that have been used to kill Americans in Iraq. And there was this guy:The biggest fish, though, was Seyed Abolfazl Shahab Jamili, who had been charged with being part of a conspiracy that from 2005 to 2012 procured thousands of parts with nuclear applications for Iran via China. That included hundreds of U.S.-made sensors for the uranium enrichment centrifuges in Iran whose progress had prompted the nuclear deal talks in the first place.The reaction from within the government was not at all happy.When federal prosecutors and agents learned the true extent of the releases, many were shocked and angry. Some had spent years, if not decades, working to penetrate the global proliferation networks that allowed Iranian arms traders both to obtain crucial materials for Tehran’s illicit nuclear and ballistic missile programs and, in some cases, to provide dangerous materials to other countries.“They didn’t just dismiss a bunch of innocent business guys,” said one former federal law enforcement supervisor centrally involved in the hunt for Iranian arms traffickers and nuclear smugglers. “And then they didn’t give a full story of it.”Obama's administration took action after action to smother progress that American officials had been making in the efforts to investigating Iran's efforts to procure and develop nuclear weapons. In its determination to win support for the nuclear deal and prisoner swap from Tehran — and from Congress and the American people — the Obama administration did a lot more than just downplay the threats posed by the men it let off the hook, according to POLITICO’s findings.Through action in some cases and inaction in others, the White House derailed its own much-touted National Counterproliferation Initiative at a time when it was making unprecedented headway in thwarting Iran’s proliferation networks. In addition, the POLITICO investigation found that Justice and State Department officials denied or delayed requests from prosecutors and agents to lu[...]



Cruising the Web

2017-04-24T06:35:00.539-04:00

Heather MacDonald argues that the students who are bent on shutting down any opinion with which they disagree are exercising a form of ideological aggression. And those of us who are so appalled by their behavior should not anticipate that their attitudes will change once they're out of college and making their way in the real world. They'll take their fascistic desires to deny opposing viewpoints from being heard.Many observers dismiss such ignorant tantrums as a phase that will end once the “snowflakes” encounter the real world. But the graduates of the academic victimology complex are remaking the world in their image. The assumption of inevitable discrimination against women and minorities plagues every nonacademic institution today, resulting in hiring and promotion based on sex and race at the expense of merit.Seemingly effete academic concepts enter the mainstream at an ever-quickening pace. A December 2016 report on policing from the federal Office of Community Oriented Policing Services includes a section on “intersectionality”—the campus-spawned notion that individuals who can check off multiple victim boxes experience exponentially higher and more complex levels of life-threatening oppression than lower-status single-category victims.Faculty and campus administrators must start defending the Enlightenment legacy of reason and civil debate. But even if dissenting thought were welcome on college, the ideology of victimhood would still wreak havoc on American society and civil harmony. The silencing of speech is a massive problem, but it is a symptom of an even more profound distortion of reality.I fear that a decade or so from now when these snowflakes who trumpet their victimhood have gotten jobs throughout the country and are then in a position to impose their attitudes throughout HR offices across the country.What all these people bleating about "hate speech," there seems to be a fundamental misunderstanding about the First Amendment protections of freedom of speech. As John Daniel Davidson explains, the Supreme Court has rejected the idea that there is a "hate speech" exception to freedom of speech.There are, of course, certain kinds of speech that are not protected by the First Amendment. But those have nothing to do with hate speech, which has no legal definition. For example, there’s an exception for “fighting words,” which the courts have defined as a face-to-face insult directed at a specific person for the purpose of provoking a fight.But fighting words can’t be expanded to mean hate speech—or even bigoted speech. In the early 1990s, the city of St. Paul tried to do just that, by punishing what it considered bigoted fighting words under its Bias-Motivated Crime Ordinance. The case, which involved a white teenager burning a cross made from taped-together broken chair legs in the front yard of a black family that lived across the street, went to the U.S. Supreme Court.The court ruled the city’s ordinance was facially unconstitutional (which means a statute is always unconstitutional and hence void) and that it constituted viewpoint-based discrimination. Writing for the majority in R.A.V. v. City of St. Paul (1992), Justice Antonin Scalia explained that, as written,the ordinance applies only to ‘fighting words’ that insult, or provoke violence, ‘on the basis of race, color, creed, religion or gender.’ Displays containing abusive invective, no matter how vicious or severe, are permissible unless they are addressed to one of the specified disfavored topics. Those who wish to use ‘fighting words’ in connection with other ideas—to express hostility, for example, on the basis of political affiliation, union membership, or homosexuality—are not covered. The First Amendment does not permit St. Paul to impose special prohibitions on those speakers who express views on disfavored subjects.As for discriminating against certain viewpoints, Scalia noted that fighting [...]



Cruising the Web

2017-04-21T06:20:00.466-04:00

Steve Koonin, the director of the Center for Urban Science and Progress at NYT and the former undersecretary of energy for President Obama, has a worthwhile proposal on climate science. He proposesthe sort of Red Team exercise that the national security team uses to "test assumptions and analyses, identify risks, and reduce—or at least understand—uncertainties."The process is now considered a best practice in high-consequence situations such as intelligence assessments, spacecraft design and major industrial operations. It is very different and more rigorous than traditional peer review, which is usually confidential and always adjudicated, rather than public and moderated.He has observed that there are intense and fundamental debates within the science community. Since so much public policy depends on our understanding of climate science, it would be very worthwhile to follow his proposal to explore those divisions instead of trying to pretend that there are no uncertainties within the scientific community. As he writes, how can policy-makers make sound decisions if the scientific community papers over such debates?Given the importance of climate projections to policy, it is remarkable that they have not been subject to a Red Team exercise. Here’s how it might work: The focus would be a published scientific report meant to inform policy such as the U.N.’s Summary for Policymakers or the U.S. Government’s National Climate Assessment. A Red Team of scientists would write a critique of that document and a Blue Team would rebut that critique. Further exchanges of documents would ensue to the point of diminishing returns. A commission would coordinate and moderate the process and then hold hearings to highlight points of agreement and disagreement, as well as steps that might resolve the latter. The process would unfold in full public view: the initial report, the exchanged documents and the hearings.A Red/Blue exercise would have many benefits. It would produce a traceable public record that would allow the public and decision makers a better understanding of certainties and uncertainties. It would more firmly establish points of agreement and identify urgent research needs. Most important, it would put science front and center in policy discussions, while publicly demonstrating scientific reasoning and argument. The inherent tension of a professional adversarial process would enhance public interest, offering many opportunities to show laymen how science actually works. (In 2014 I conducted a workshop along these lines for the American Physical Society.)Congress or the executive branch should convene a climate science Red/Blue exercise as a step toward resolving, or at least illuminating, differing perceptions of climate science. While the Red and Blue Teams should be knowledgeable and avowedly opinionated scientists, the commission should have a balanced membership of prominent individuals with technical credentials, led by co-chairmen who are forceful, knowledgeable and independent of the climate-science community. The Rogers Commission for the Challenger disaster in 1986, the Energy Department’s Huizenga/Ramsey Review of Cold Fusion in 1989, and the National Bioethics Advisory Commission of the late 1990s are models for the kind of fact-based rigor and transparency needed.The outcome of a Red/Blue exercise for climate science is not preordained, which makes such a process all the more valuable. It could reveal the current consensus as weaker than claimed. Alternatively, the consensus could emerge strengthened if Red Team criticisms were countered effectively. But whatever the outcome, we scientists would have better fulfilled our responsibilities to society, and climate policy discussions would be better informed. For those reasons, all who march to advocate policy making based upon transparent apolitical science should support a climate science Red Team exercise.I love [...]



Cruising the Web

2017-04-20T06:37:42.101-04:00

Phil Gramm and Michael Solon write today in the WSJ to contrast the economic growth resulting from Reagan's and Obama's economic policies. For all those on the left who trumpet about science, there really does seem to be the opposite approach when it comes to looking at the results of their preferred economic policies. Gramm and Solon's argument is that the CBO totally missed the results from each president's policy choices.Mr. Obama implemented policies dramatically different from the postwar norm. Marginal tax rates soared; federal spending spiraled with a nearly trillion-dollar stimulus; Social Security Disability and food-stamp qualifications were eased; work requirements in welfare programs were suspended; Medicare and Medicaid were expanded and ObamaCare created. Federal debt doubled, and public and private debt held by the Federal Reserve quadrupled. New legislation, an unprecedented number of new regulations, and a torrent of executive orders transformed the role of government in American life.Dramatically different policies were followed by dramatically different economic results. Economic growth during the Obama years averaged an astonishingly low 1.47%, as compared with the 3.4% average throughout all the postwar booms and busts before 2009. The extraordinary economic failure of the Obama era is not found in the recession that ended six months into his presidency but in the subsequent failed recovery, where real growth in gross domestic product averaged 2.1% per year, less than half the 4.5% average during previous postwar recoveries of similar duration.Even after Mr. Obama announced a “summer of recovery” in 2010, the Congressional Budget Office was repeatedly forced to cut GDP and federal revenue estimates—by a total of $9 trillion and $4.2 trillion, respectively—due to weak economic growth. Federal revenues were supposed to rise by $650 billion over the following decade because of the Obama 2013 tax increase. They are now projected to fall by almost five times that amount because economic growth continues to falter.Contrast that result to those from Reagan's administration.GDP growth averaged 2.5% between 1974 and 1980. After taking office during a recession in 1981, Reagan cut marginal tax rates, cut nondefense and entitlement spending, and reduced the regulatory burden. Once those policies were in place, economic growth averaged 4.6% during the remainder of his presidency and federal revenues grew at double-digit rates in four of his last six years in office.However, the CBO missed both the economic growth resulting from Reagan's policies and the stagnation resulting from Obama's.Budget and economic data over the seven postwar decades prove that American exceptionalism flourishes when supported by polices that promote freedom and opportunity and disappears when they are suppressed. But the CBO’s methods do not recognize that truth. No single part of the Obama program was ever scored in advance by the CBO as losing $4.2 trillion in federal revenues, but those losses reflect the totality of the impact of his policies.No single Reagan action was ever scored by the CBO as producing the equivalent of $2.9 trillion in new revenues (relative to the current GDP), but that was the overall result of his program, which increased annual economic growth by an additional 1% over his presidency. The CBO originally assumed that the 1986 tax reform would produce no economic benefits and that the 1997 Balanced Budget Act would have only a small positive effect, yet together they helped produce a quarter-century of rapid growth, surging federal revenues and a balanced budget.Since its models are incapable of distinguishing between failed and successful economic policies, the CBO will not score the economic growth and federal revenue coming from improved economic policy. YEt somehow the CBO is revered as a nonpartisan prognosticator of all economic pr[...]



Cruising the Web

2017-03-30T06:35:40.406-04:00

Will the Democrats filibuster Judge Gorsuch's confirmation to the Supreme Court? Guy Benson reports that liberal activist groups are getting more optimistic that they will have enough Democrats to hold the filibuster. They are feeling their oats after the collapse of Republicans' efforts to end Obamacare. However, Benson also reports that, if the Democrats do indeed filibuster, even the more moderate Republican senators will support nuking the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees.If Senate Democrats once again drag the confirmation wars into uncharted territory, Republicans have a responsibility to burn them. Badly. Being powerless to impede President Trump's cabinet selections was a source of frustration for Schumer's crew, some of whom evinced regret over triggering the Reid Rule a few years prior. But those regrets seem to be receding, as they prepare to take a new plunge, betting that the GOP won't have the fortitude to follow through with hardball tactics of their own. Having spoken to a number of well-placed Republican sources on Capitol Hill, it sounds like GOP members are seething over Democrats' conduct on these issues, dating back years. They're especially galled at the treatment of Neil Gorsuch, who has been virtually universally hailed as brilliant and eminently qualified. A number of would-be Republican compromisers have signaled that they're prepared to do whatever it takes to confirm Gorsuch, and I'm told that even uber-moderate Susan Collins (who formally announced her support for Gorsuch this morning) is leaning toward standing with her party on this point. "Our members are fired up," one source tells me. Allowing Democrats to derail his nomination under a Republican president, in a Senate controlled by Republicans, would set a disastrous precedent. It cannot be allowed to happen. And does anyone have even a shred of doubt that if Democrats were ever on the opposite end of such a scenario, they'd link arms and go nuclear again? Their words and deeds have been unambiguous for quite some time.Politico explains the fire that Schumer is playing with.Gorsuch’s nomination is something of a perfect storm for GOP procedural fortitude. Only seeing such a model jurist held hostage to cynical political whims would be enough to compel the righteous indignation necessary to go nuclear. (I’ll pause here so my friends on the left can let out a primal scream for poor Merrick Garland.)The cloture rule now faces an existential paradox. Call it Schrödinger’s Filibuster. Assuming Schumer can hold the line within his caucus—and he has seven votes to give—the 60 vote threshold for Supreme Court nominations is dead. Do the right thing and it lives to see another day.It’s unclear whether Democrats think Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will blink or if they simply believe the filibuster’s demise is inevitable. Indeed, they themselves likely would have been forced to go nuclear under a President Hillary Clinton. So perhaps it was just a matter of time.What’s apparent is that their agitated and increasingly emboldened base is unlikely to care either way. The imperative of The Resistance is unambiguous, however quixotic the mission. Collaboration will not be tolerated, a message thousands delivered to Schumer’s Brooklyn doorstep mere weeks ago.As a matter of political calculation, this is all well and good. Turnabout is fair play, and whatever the short-term ramifications, a majoritarian body will one day benefit Schumer’s party. But given the structural realities of the Senate map—Democrats are defending 25 seats in 2018, 10 of them in states they failed to carry last fall, compared to just 9 and one for Republicans—the “short term” horizon runs through 2020 at the very least. In the meantime, they’re not only paving the path for less qualified nominees in the likelihood of future Trump-era vacanci[...]



Cruising the Web

2017-03-29T06:56:51.419-04:00

I'm not sure why, with all the problems facing some cities such as Chicago, declaring that their cities will not turn people who have committed crimes and who are in the country illegally over to federal officials is such a priority. It might be one thing to say that city officials are not going to actively search out and question people's immigration status, but once someone is arrested and it is determined that that person has a criminal record and is here illegally, why protect that person from ICE? Gregg Jarrett reminds us that that was the sanctuary policy in San Francisco that led to the tragic murder of Kate Steinle last year.That is what led to the tragic shooting death of Kate Steinle in July of last year. Juan Francisco Lopez Sanchez of Mexico was in the U.S. illegally. He had 7 felony convictions and was deported 5 times. He kept slipping back through our border, seeking refuge in the safe haven of San Francisco.Sanchez was in the custody of the San Francisco Sheriff on drug charges when ICE issued a detainer for him requesting that he be held until the feds could pick him up. Instead of handing him over, the Sheriff followed the city’s sanctuary policy by ignoring immigration authorities. He opened the jail doors setting the prisoner free. Sanchez then shot Steinle to death as she was walking with her father on a San Francisco pier.But now that Jeff Sessions has announced that he's going to actually enforce the law, a law signed by Bill Clinton, mayors of cities that proudly name themselves as sanctuary cities rushed to microphones to announce that they would defy the law. James Freeman comments, Obeying federal laws, whether they were signed by Mr. Clinton or anyone else, might seem like a reasonable minimum requirement for those seeking support from federal taxpayers. But many consumers of these grants seem to have a different view.Even the Obama administration favored enforcing the law.In May of last year Michael Horowitz, inspector general for the Obama Justice Department, reported on possible violations of this law by governments in various jurisdictions around the country. He quoted, for example, officials at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement who reported that officials in Cook County, Illinois “won’t even talk to us.”Based on his findings, the Obama inspector general recommended that the department “require grant applicants to provide certifications specifying the applicants’ compliance” with the Clinton law, “along with documentation sufficient to support the certification.”The Obama Administration then issued new guidance in October clarifying that grant applicants must certify compliance with all applicable federal laws and that the Clinton law was among them. But now that the Obama policy has become the Trump policy, along comes wailing from city halls that enforcing a 1996 law is suddenly outside the realm of humane constitutional governance.Allowing local cops to share information with federal immigration officials isn’t all that Mr. Sessions wants. He would also like local officials to honor federal requests to temporarily detain illegal immigrants who are criminal suspects or convicts and are due for release by local authorities. But he is not requiring such cooperation from those seeking grant money.And many of the locals may not cooperate with the feds even when they have the clear legal obligation to do so. The $4.1 billion in annual grants at stake, spread across the country’s multiple layers of state and local government, hardly matters in most local budgets.This column’s views on the value that immigrants bring to this country are closer to those of Ms. Mark-Viverito than of Mr. Sessions. But there is no serious argument for rewarding willful violations of law with federal grants, whether the money is coming from the Obama Administration,[...]



Cruising the Web

2017-03-28T06:57:01.150-04:00

Byron York details 14 lessons that the Republicans should have learned from the debacle of their attempt to repeal Obamacare. There's some wisdom here that Trump and the House leaders should learn. For example:5) 'The Art of the Deal' doesn't work with ideologically-driven politicians. The pundits mentioned Trump's most famous book thousands of times during the Obamacare negotiations. But in dealing with the doctrinaire conservatives in the House Freedom Caucus, Trump was facing differently-motivated partners than in the deal-making recounted in his 1987 book. If the president wants to succeed in Washington, he'll have to learn how to deal with people who aren't in it just for the money.6) Nancy Pelosi was right. The former Speaker and current House Minority Leader said Trump made a "rookie's error" in bringing the Obamacare measure to a finale too quickly. Before that, Washington insiders snickered when the president said in late February that "Nobody knew healthcare could be so complicated." Of course, everybody knew it was complicated. After all, in 2009-2010 it took Democrats more than a year to pass Obamacare, and they had a huge majority in the House and a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. Trump, the newcomer to Washington, thought it could be done quickly with less firepower on Capitol Hill.7) Trump and the House Republicans have different priorities and agendas. The reason Trump won Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Ohio is that voters there did not view him as a doctrinaire Republican. So the first legislative effort Trump made was entirely dependent on doctrinaire House Republicans, who for seven years haven't been able to agree among themselves on replacing Obamacare. In doing so, Trump aligned himself with the most unpopular parts of the Republican brand....14) It's still early. The Obamacare screwup is a major failure. But it's an early failure. It won't kill the Trump presidency — provided Trump racks up some big accomplishments in his first year. Trump has plenty of time to recover. But if he doesn't do well, then the Obamacare mess will be seen as a harbinger of failures to come.The WSJ notes that checks and balances are working and all those who thought that Donald Trump was going to be an American version of Benito Mussolini were quite mistaken.So much for all that. The real story of the Trump Presidency so far is that the normal checks and balances of the American system are working almost to a fault. The courts have blocked Mr. Trump’s immigration order, albeit with some faulty legal reasoning. Congress has rejected the House health-care bill, his first big legislative priority.The FBI and the House and Senate Intelligence Committees are investigating the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia. Mr. Trump’s Attorney General has recused himself from the FBI probe, and the President’s nominee for deputy AG is held up in a Republican Senate.The permanent bureaucracy is leaking like a tent in a monsoon, and Mr. Trump is getting the worst press of any President since the final days of Richard Nixon. Mr. Trump may rage against the press, but the Alien and Sedition Acts aren’t coming back. Rest assured that if Mr. Trump’s Internal Revenue Service ever does to liberal groups what President Obama’s did to the tea party, the media will provide nonstop coverage.The greater likelihood has always been that, as a rookie politician, Mr. Trump would be too weak and ineffective, not too strong. He lacks a solid party base, and the inertial forces of government resist any change that means lost power. His Presidency is young, and perhaps Mr. Trump will still find his bearings and make some progress on his reform agenda.We can’t say the same about the lost credibility of the many worthies who sold American institutions short while predicting fascist doom.[...]



Cruising the Web

2017-03-27T06:33:26.601-04:00

Well, this has been a depressing week for conservatives who have been looking for the end to Obamacare. While some in Washington and in the blogosphere, Rich Lowry is right that this defeat had many fathers.Paul Ryan is going to take the most blame for the failure of repeal and replace, and rightly so. He had the ball, and it ended up being a debacle. He gambled this his close vote would be more like the close votes of Nancy Pelosi, who had a president of her own party standing with her, rather than those of John Boehner, who didn’t. Instead, this was Boehner redux. There was no getting around that the substance of the bill was poor and the process–premised on passing the bill through the House and the Senate in four weeks–was even worse. It was only going to get over the finish line based on pure muscle and there are limits to what that can achieve, even in the House where the leadership has such inherent power. If the loss is a blow to Ryan, it’s a party-wide failure. It’s not as though the Speaker came up with the bill and the strategy on his own. President Trump and the Senate were on board. I assumed that Trump would end up being a good intra-party salesman, with a carrot (his knack for schmoozing) and a stick (attacks on Twitter). But he didn’t know enough to be effective and his seat-of-the-pants decision to give into the Freedom Caucus on “essential health benefits” lost more moderates than it gained conservatives, while Trump clearly had no idea of the policy implications. His insistence during most the day that the House hold a zombie vote, going through with the floor vote even when a defeat was assured, was bizarre and amateurish.Taylor Millard wonders why the House GOP didn't just try to pass the health-care bill that they passed last year and that Obama vetoed.There still are other approaches that Trump could take and the WSJ looks at some of those that Trump is contemplating.With the collapse of Republicans’ health plan in the House on Friday, the Trump administration is set to ramp up its efforts to alter the Affordable Care Act in one of the few ways it has left—by making changes to the law through waivers and rule changes.The initiative now rests with Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, who has vowed to review every page of regulation and guidance related to the ACA. The steps he and the administration take next could have sweeping repercussions, accomplishing some of the same types of changes Republicans were unable to push through Congress.So much of the law was implemented through regulations created by the Obama Secretaries of HHS, that it is fitting to remove those regulations through similar actions.The Trump administration could change a requirement that most Americans pay a penalty for not having insurance. It could usher in work requirements for Medicaid recipients and ease a directive that insurers cover such services as contraception. And it could also allow an end to certain subsidies that insurers get, which could quickly cause the individual markets to crater.Some of these steps, such as new likely requirements for Medicaid enrollees, are already under way. Republican leaders have long said administrative changes are a key part of their plan to change the health-care system. Now it may be largely the only one left.Dr. Price and Seema Verma, the administrator of HHS’ Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, recently wrote a letter to states assuring them of support if they request waivers to impose work requirements on recipients of Medicaid, the federal-state health program for the poor and disabled.But there are some limitations on what Price can do.Dr. Price, a former orthopedic surgeon, is limited to some extent in what he can do. Any rewriting of ACA rules would require time and p[...]