Displaying posts categorized under

NATIONAL NEWS USA

50 STATES AND DC, CONGRESS AND THE PRESIDENT

Remembering Rich Blumenthal’s Vietnam Deception Senate smear never paid a price for claiming he served. Lloyd Billingsley

​In the confirmation hearings for Jeff Sessions, president-elect Donald Trump’s choice for Attorney General, Senator Richard Blumenthal, Connecticut Democrat, proceeded as though David Horowitz had been the AG choice.

David Horowitz was not present but Blumenthal cited his statements that all the major Muslim organizations are connected to the Muslim Brotherhood, that 80 percent of the mosques in America are filled with hate against Jews, and that too many blacks are in prison because too many blacks commit crimes.

Senator Blumenthal, an attorney, had not taken the trouble to investigate these statements, which are all true and accurate. Instead he called them “apparently racist” and demanded that Jeff Sessions denounce David Horowitz and give back an award he had received from the David Horowitz Freedom Center.

By any standard, this was the most loathsome and gutless performance many had seen since the hearings for Clarence Thomas and Robert Bork, where smear artists Howard Metzenbaum (D-Ohio) and Ted Kennedy (D-Mass) respectively held forth. In the Sessions hearings it failed to emerge that Blumenthal, 70, bears a history of problems with truth and courage alike.

“Candidate’s Words on Vietnam Service Differ from History,” ran the New York Times headline on a May 17, 2010 article by Raymond Hernandez. Blumenthal, then Connecticut Attorney General and running for the U.S. Senate seated vacated by Christopher Dodd, had recently appeared at a ceremony in Norwalk honoring veterans. There he proclaimed, “We have learned something important since the days that I served in Vietnam.” There was one problem, Hernandez noted. The aspiring Senator “never served in Vietnam.”

According to records obtained by Hernandez and his colleagues Barclay Walsh, Kitty Bennett and Bonnie Kavoussi, Blumenthal “obtained at least five military deferments from 1965 to 1970 and took repeated steps that enabled him to avoid going to war.”

These deferments cleared the way for Blumenthal, son of a wealthy New York businessman, to complete studies at Harvard, serve as a special assistant to Washington Post publisher Katherine Graham, and “ultimately take a job in the Nixon White House.”

“Trump’s Opportunities and Priorities” Sydney M. Williams

As President, Donald Trump will have many chances to help the nation. His ego and his mercurial disposition may interfere, but opportunities abound. He can help the economy get back on track and, in doing so, help lessen income and wealth inequality that have risen the past eight years. He can help re-build the Middle East and, with a show of strength, help repair relations with Russia and China, which are necessary for long-term global growth. He can help reverse the polarization that has divided our nation, so that we will be able to judge people “… for the content of their character” (as Martin Luther King once said), not for their race, sex or religion. Such tasks should be doable, assuming Mr. Trump’s temperament doesn’t intervene, or the Left does not erect roadblocks.

His most important priority, however, should be to restore democracy – the inherent freedom a liberal, democratic-capitalist republic requires. It is the fount from which all opportunities rise. For eight decades, an expanding administrative state has eroded principles of government laid out by our Founders. In times of war, national security interests allowed Presidents to assume powers alien to our precepts of liberty: Lincoln and the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus; Wilson and the Espionage Act of 1917: Franklin D. Roosevelt and the internment of 80,000 Japanese-Americans. But war-time powers lapse when hostilities end. More insidious has been the trend, since the Progressive movement of the late 19th Century, toward increasing the power and reach of the federal government at the expense of Congress, individuals and states; and, within the federal government, the expansion of the Executive over the Congress.

Can Mr. Trump reverse this trend, or at least slow it? I don’t know, but I hope so. Expectations are low. He will enter office despised by those who oppose him – a group that includes opinion makers: mainstream media, educators, Hollywood harlequins and political and business establishment-types from both Parties. Their candidate, Mrs. Clinton, was defeated by a man they scorned. Mr. Trump has none of the goodwill extended President-elect Obama in early 2009. Today, Mr. Obama scores high on personal approval ratings, but, keep in mind, his policies helped defeat Democrats. Even the generally sober David Brooks depicts Mr. Trump as a man who is “inattentive, unpredictable and basically uninterested in anything but his own status at the moment.” But, if Mr. Brooks and his ilk are right, how do they explain his business success? How did he win a Presidential primary that took out 16 other Republican candidates and beat a woman who has been around politics her entire life? And how did he do so while spending less than half the amount of money she spent? Mr. Trump will not get the “honeymoon” usually accorded new Presidents. But conservatives understand that Mr. Trump has provided them the best opportunities for change in a century.

An Execrable Coup—An Exhilarating Counter-Coup By Joan Swirsky

In 2009, America experienced a genuine coup d’état, exquisitely formulated and flawlessly executed after decades of planning by the socialists, communists, and jihadists among us who loathe America and have wished for nothing less than transforming our great country into a mecca of far-left, anti-American policies, punctuated by preposterous liberal constructs like political correctness and multiculturalism, and ultimately subservient to Sharia law.

As strange, indeed mind-bending, as this seems, remember that anything that is alien to American values and promises to undermine America’s passion for freedom and strength is considered a good thing and heartily embraced by the America-hating left. Hence, their fetish with Islam, a political system-cum-“religion” that is antithetical to every value that sane Americans hold dear.

As proof, the policies and laws enacted over the past eight years have consistently militated against America’s well-being. This is the proverbial drop in the bucket:

An eviscerated military and favor-the-enemy Rules of Engagement.
Porous borders over which tens of thousands of unvetted illegal aliens have swarmed, many of them violent criminals and, no doubt, stealth jihadists.
A Big Government mentality that encourages unemployment (95-million) and therefore dependency on government from cradle to grave.
Massive debt––currently pushing $20 trillion––which weakens our country’s ability to pay for essential needs like infrastructure, Medicare and Medicaid, et al., again with the goal of dependency on government.
A horrific healthcare system (Obamacare) that alienates doctors, punishes patients with sky-high premiums and inferior care, and simply doesn’t work–––hence its inevitable implosion (taking place right now).
The most dumbed-down educational system in American history––Common Core––that is based on the fantasy of fairness but in fact deprives every public-school student of even a minimally decent education and a chance to succeed…more government dependency.
Implanting operatives from terrorist organizations like the Muslim Brotherhood into every branch of our government, including (to name a few) the State Dept., the Pentagon, Homeland Security, the Attorney General’s office, the EPA, the FBI, the CIA, on and on and on––all of them intent on subverting the U.S. Constitution and replacing it with Sharia law, the animating force of Islam, which dictates not only that gays be executed and women who are raped be tried and convicted for infidelity, but that a failure to embrace Islam be punished with either a hefty tax or death.
A foreign policy that supports our enemies and spits in the faces of our most faithful allies, for instance Israel, England, Egypt, the list is long.
Handing over control of the Internet to the United Nations––the most corrupt, tin-pot-dictator-driven, anti-American, anti-Semitic, American-resource-draining cesspool in our country. If I had one piece of advice for President-Elect Trump, it would be to kick this rancid organization out of the United States! Nothing they’ve ever done has been good for our country. Talk about “draining the swamp”!

AGENT OF CHANGE––GIMME A BREAK!

Americans were both horrified and dumbfounded when the former community organizer, Barack Obama, turned out not to “transform” America for the better, but to be the figurehead––no one would accuse him of being a leader––who left our country in devastating debt, largely unemployed, perceived as the prototypical 97-pound weakling by our allies, and viewed by our own citizens as a lazy but golden-tongued puppet who preferred non-stop golfing vacations and entertaining rap stars and police-hating performers like Beyoncé in the White House to even a remote semblance of governing.

Why Republicans Lose the Narrative Battle: The Inspector-General Gambit To delegitimize Trump’s victory, the Left is setting the parameters of the controversy and the terms by which it will be discussed. By Andrew C. McCarthy

It is so frustrating to observe news coverage of Thursday’s announcement that the Justice Department’s inspector general will review the conduct of FBI and Justice Department officials tangential to — but, as I’ve explained, not at the core of — the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s e-mail scandal. As usual, the Left understands exactly what they are choreographing, beginning with Friday’s screaming New York Times page-one headline that “Comey” is the subject of a new Justice Department probe. As always, the Left is setting the parameters of the controversy and the terms by which it will be discussed.

And as night follows day, Republicans are at sea, not knowing quite what is being investigated. Precisely because of the way Democrats have teed things up, Republicans have been hoodwinked into thinking that they must figure out where to come down on FBI director James Comey’s rollercoaster announcements during the campaign stretch run.

In other words: The Democrats are more than halfway home. Republicans figure nothing important has really happened yet. The Left knows it has already set the table. By the time the GOP grasps what’s happening, the public’s understanding of the controversy will be set in stone.

Let me try, again, to help.

Please understand: The charade now underway has nothing to do with determining whether Justice Department protocols were violated by the statements of FBI and Justice Department officials who revealed non-public investigative information — in Comey’s case, to the public at large. That’s the pretext for convening something that can be called a “Justice Department investigation” (which sounds like we’re looking to identify a culprit) by the inspector general (which sounds like the investigation must be non-partisan, even though the IG is an Obama appointee who works with, although often not under the supervision of, Obama’s chosen attorney general).

To the contrary, what is going on here is a battle, which Democrats are hell-bent on winning, between two competing narratives.

The Climate-Change Gang The Obama administration lawlessly rewards its supporters and punishes its enemies. By Scott Pruitt & Luther Strange — May 17, 2016

The United States was born out of a revolution against, in the words of the Declaration of Independence, an “arbitrary government” that put men on trial “for pretended offences” and “abolish[ed] the Free System of English laws.” Brave men and women stood up to that oppressive government, and this, the greatest democracy of them all, one that is governed by the rule of law and not by men, is the product.

Some of our states have forgotten this founding principle and are acting less like Jefferson and Adams and more like George III. A group of Democratic attorneys general has announced it intends to criminally investigate oil and gas companies that have disputed the science behind man-made global warming. Backed by green-energy interests and environmentalist lobbying groups, the coalition has promised to use intrusive investigations, costly litigation, and criminal prosecutions to silence critics of its climate-change agenda. Pretended offenses, indeed.

We won’t be joining this coalition, and we hope that those attorneys general who have joined will disavow it. Healthy debate is the lifeblood of American democracy, and global warming has inspired one of the major policy debates of our time. That debate is far from settled. Scientists continue to disagree about the degree and extent of global warming and its connection to the actions of mankind. That debate should be encouraged — in classrooms, public forums, and the halls of Congress. It should not be silenced with threats of prosecution. Dissent is not a crime.

Sadly, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen this tactic of advancing the climate-change agenda by any means necessary. President Obama’s Clean Power Plan is a particularly noteworthy example. This EPA regulation, one of the most ambitious ever proposed, will shutter coal-fired power plants, significantly increase the price of electricity for American consumers, and enact by executive fiat the very same cap-and-trade system for carbon emissions that Congress has rejected.

The Clean Power Plan was promulgated without any consultation with Congress. No bills were debated, no votes were taken, and the representatives of the American people had no opportunity to object or offer their own suggestions. The checks and balances built into our system of government were simply ignored as inconvenient impediments to the president’s agenda.

Pruitt vs. the EPA By William L. Anderson

Follow the mainstream media (especially the New York Times), and one concludes that all of Donald Trump’s cabinet picks are straight out of Central Casting of villainy for the MSM narratives of Republicans. Jeff Sessions, for example, supposedly is a racist segregationist who would love to join the Ku Klux Klan — but holds back because some Klansmen smoke pot. And Scott Pruitt, the Oklahoma attorney general and Trump’s nominee for EPA administrator, wants us to die horrible deaths on a polluted, overheated planet.

An NYT headline last December 7 read, “Trump Picks Scott Pruitt, Climate Change Denialist, to Lead E.P.A.” In modern political speak, a “climate change denialist” is like a Holocaust denier. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, along with 17 Democratic state attorneys general, demands criminal prosecution of oil executives and scientists that do not acknowledge the view of climate change as outlined in the Democratic Party platform. According to the Times,

Mr. Pruitt, a Republican, has been a key architect of the legal battle against Mr. Obama’s climate change policies, actions that fit with the president-elect’s comments during the campaign. Mr. Trump has criticized the established science of human-caused global warming as a hoax, vowed to “cancel” the Paris accord committing nearly every nation to taking action to fight climate change, and attacked Mr. Obama’s signature global warming policy, the Clean Power Plan, as a “war on coal.”

Mr. Pruitt has been in lock step with those views.

“Scientists continue to disagree about the degree and extent of global warming and its connection to the actions of mankind,” he wrote in National Review earlier this year. “That debate should be encouraged — in classrooms, public forums, and the halls of Congress. It should not be silenced with threats of prosecution. Dissent is not a crime.”

Indeed, scientists are in disagreement about “the degree and extent of global warming” and while the NYT and its allies condemn anyone who veers from “climate-change orthodoxy,” this issue does need to be debated, and someone with political courage needs to be able to stand up against the political and media bullying of the Left. Pruitt’s article in National Review raises important legal, scientific, and, yes, moral questions about EPA policies under President Obama, but to question the climate orthodoxy pushed by the Left today invites massive pushback, and there will be a firestorm of opposition to the Pruitt nomination.

Environmentalists and their political and media allies will claim that if Pruitt is appointed and reverses some of Obama’s policies (and there is no way he can overturn everything that the EPA did in the past eight years), then Earth itself will suffer an irreversible environmental decline. For example, when Republicans called for very minor changes in environmental policies in 1995, NYT columnist Anthony Lewis screeched that Republicans “want feces to wash up on our beaches.”

Journalists join together for panel on how to cover Trump BY Joe Concha

Journalists from The Huffington Post, Slate and Univision will gather days before Donald Trump’s inauguration to publicly discuss “how the news media can and should proceed to cover” the president-elect.

Slate will host the event next Wednesday, called “Not the New Normal.” CNN’s Brian Stelter will moderate the panel at New York University.

The focus of the discussion will include “how journalists and media companies at large can play a bigger role in making sure that fact prevails over fiction in the coming months and years,” according to Slate.

Slate’s editor-in-chief, Julia Turner, and Slate Group Chairman Jacob Weisberg — who hosts “Trumpcast,” a podcast dedicated to covering the president-elect — will participate in the panel.

Joining them will be Borja Echevarría, Univision Digital’s vice president and editor-in-chief; Huffington Post editor-in-chief Lydia Polgreen; and New Yorker editor David Remnick.

Most of the panelists were staunchly critical of Trump during the campaign and have remained so since Election Day.

Tickets will cost $30, with proceeds benefiting the Committee to Protect Journalists.

This is the first time Slate has hosted a panel to discuss how to cover an incoming president.

Dissent Is Fashionable Again If fashion designers can refuse service to the Trumps based on principle, why can’t bakers and florists follow their own principles? By David French *****

There’s nothing quite like a change of power to expose hypocrisy. Yesterday, the Washington Post ran a long and flattering discussion of fashion designers who are just in anguish that their artistic talents could be abused in the service of a cause they despise. In other words, they don’t want to “dress” Melania or Ivanka Trump.

In an open letter rejecting the idea of working with the Trumps, designer Sophie Theallet said, “We value our artistic freedom, and always humbly seek to contribute to a more humane, conscious, and ethical way to create in this world.” She said, “As an independent fashion brand, we consider our voice an expression of our artistic and philosophical ideas.”

Post fashion critic Robin Givhan doesn’t just report on this choice, she goes out of her way to justify and explain it:

Like other creative individuals, Theallet sees fashion as a way of expressing her views about beauty and the way women are perceived in society. Fashion is her tool for communicating her world vision. In the same way that a poet’s words or a musician’s lyrics are a deeply personal reflection of the person who wrote them, a fashion designer’s work can be equally as intimate. In many ways, it’s why we are drawn to them. We feel a one-to-one connection.

You see, “clothes are commodities, certainly, but they also have an artful point of view that is distinctly personal.” That’s why, Givhan says, refusing to dress the Trumps “is not the equivalent of refusing service.” And so, Givhan concludes, “for those designers for whom fashion serves as their voice in the world, they should not feel obligated to say something in which they do not believe.”

I agree with Givhan. Don’t make anyone “dress” political figures they don’t like. Don’t make any artists use their talents to advance viewpoints they find offensive. There are designers who are happy to work with Trumps. Others aren’t. Big deal. Life goes on.

But if there is a single person who thinks that Sophie Theallet, Marc Jacobs, Derek Lam, and others have a right to refuse to dress the Trumps, but also believes that Christian bakers, photographers, and florists have to use their talents to celebrate gay weddings — there’s a word for you: Hypocrite. Indeed, you’re likely worse than a garden-variety hypocrite. You’re almost certainly malicious and elitist to boot.

Consider the parallels. Photographers, bakers, and florists are using their individual artistic talents not just to document but to celebrate an event. Many of them enter their profession to express their own views about “beauty” and do their work to glorify God. Their art is their best tool for “communicating their world vision.”

But all too many on the Left just don’t care. All that matters is that they refused to use their artistic talents for a gay couple. And aren’t LGBT people protected from discrimination? But wait, aren’t Melania and Ivanka also women? And aren’t women a protected class under nondiscrimination law also?

Gee, I’m Starting to Think the Obama DOJ Just Might Be Politicized They took extraordinary measures in a shaky case involving Trump but refused to help FBI investigations involving Hillary and the DNC. By Andrew C. McCarthy —

In the heat of the fall campaign, the commentariat got its knickers twisted over Donald Trump’s vow that, if elected, he’d have his Justice Department appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Hillary Clinton, his political rival. How remarkable, then, that the media is so indifferent to the revelation that, at the very same time, the Obama Justice Department was actively conducting an investigation of Trump.

As I recounted in Wednesday’s column, the FBI reportedly had suspicions that Trump, or at least members of his “team,” might be violating financial and banking laws. Upon poking around, the Bureau determined there was no “nefarious purpose” in the connection of a server in Trump Tower to at least one bank.

Yet the case was not dropped upon the finding of no criminality. Instead, apparently because the bank or banks involved were Russian, the matter was pursued as a national-security investigation under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). Indeed, the investigation may well be ongoing.

Reporting indicates that surveillance warrants were sought from the FISA court in June and October 2016. The first one is said to have “named” Trump himself (we don’t know if that means the government was targeting Trump for surveillance, or if his name was merely mentioned in the FISA application). That application was apparently so lacking that the FISA court refused to authorize it, even though that court is generally quite accommodating of government requests to conduct secret searches and eavesdropping. The court is reported to have granted a narrower application in October — one that appears not to have named Trump. The court’s proceedings are secret, so this reporting cannot be confirmed.

I want to draw attention to a fact I did not dwell on in Wednesday’s column: The FBI is not authorized to seek a national-security surveillance warrant from the FISA court — just as it is not authorized to seek such a warrant from a U.S. district court in an ordinary criminal case. Only the Justice Department is permitted to do that. The FBI could not have sought FISA warrants against Trump without the Obama Justice Department’s approval and assistance.

Interesting contrast, isn’t it?

Throughout the criminal investigations of Hillary Clinton for mishandling classified information, the Obama Justice Department would not use the grand jury or help the FBI obtain search or surveillance warrants. As a result, the FBI had no power to compel the production of evidence. Suspects had to be cajoled into cooperating. The only thing the Justice Department was willing to do was grant highly unusual immunity deals, ensuring that suspects could not be prosecuted if they disclosed incriminating evidence.

Judge Thwarts Obama EPA’s Lawless War on Coal By Andrew C. McCarthy

Here’s a radical concept: federal agencies created and empowered by congressional statutes have to comply with those statutes — i.e., they have to obey federal law — in exercising their power.

It is a rudimentary concept, of course, but one with which the Obama administration has appeared only vaguely acquainted throughout its eight years. Now, a federal judge in West Virginia is providing remedial instruction for the Environmental Protection Agency, and in the process, is derailing the administration’s war on the coal industry.

As Powerline’s John Hinderaker explains, Judge Preston Bailey has directed the EPA to comply with a straightforward statute that unambiguously requires the agency to evaluate the effects on employment of its plans to enforce the Clean Air Act.

The case arises out of the EPA’s issuance of draconian regulations of air pollutants from coal and oil power plants. The libertarian Cato Institute recounts that the regs “provide far less than a penny in benefits for each of the nearly $10 billion in costs it imposes on the U.S. economy.” The Supreme Court, in Michigan v. EPA (2015), has already slapped the agency down due to the irrationality of this enormous-cost/negligible-benefit formula that is clearly designed to annihilate these industries. But, Cato explains, EPA is doubling down by trying to justify its $10 billion price tag with benefits outside those the statute permits it to count (which it euphemistically calls “co-benefits”).

The West Virginia case, Murray Energy Corporation v. EPA, is a successive instance of the defiant agency’s effort to ram through its regulations heedless of judicial rulings.

Murray Energy sued the EPA for, among other things, failing to comply with the statutory scheme it so oppressively enforces. In particular, the agency ignores the section of the Clean Air Act (section 7621 of Title 42, U.S. Code) that directs:

The Administrator [of EPA] shall conduct continuing evaluations of potential loss or shifts of employment which may result from the administration or enforcement of the provision of this chapter and applicable implementation plans, including where appropriate, investigating threatened plant closures or reductions in employment allegedly resulting from such administration or enforcement.

I italicize “shall” because, in the law, shall (as opposed to, say, “may” or “should”) denotes something that must be done — it is not a suggestion.

Yet, the EPA does not even deign to take notice of it. In Murray Energy, there appears to be no question that the agency ignored the statute. In ruling for the company back in October, Judge Bailey ordered the EPA, within two weeks, to file a plan and schedule for how it would comply with the provision mandating Administrator Gina McCarthy to evaluate losses or shifts of employment that would occur if the EPA’s suffocating proposal went into effect.

The EPA’s response, in essence, was, “You’re kidding, right?”