Friday, June 23, 2017

Cruising the Web

When do progressives not care about women's rights - When the women suffering abuse, assault, and denial of human rights are Muslim. It always amazes me how progressives are more worried about seeming Islamophobic than they are about the suffering of women in Islamist societies. Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Asra Q. Nomani have a powerful column in the NYT about their experiences when they were invited to testify before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs about women and Islamism. Four female Democratic senators refused to ask either of them any questions at all. Not one single question. They were more interested in the perception that such a hearing shouldn't focus on one religion. These are women who profess to be so concerned about women's issues. So why wouldn't they care about sexism and misogyny within Islam?
[W]hat happened that day was emblematic of a deeply troubling trend among progressives when it comes to confronting the brutal reality of Islamist extremism and what it means for women in many Muslim communities here at home and around the world. When it comes to the pay gap, abortion access and workplace discrimination, progressives have much to say. But we’re still waiting for a march against honor killings, child marriages, polygamy, sex slavery or female genital mutilation.

Sitting before the senators that day were two women of color: Ayaan is from Somalia; Asra is from India. Both of us were born into deeply conservative Muslim families. Ayaan is a survivor of female genital mutilation and forced marriage. Asra defied Shariah by having a baby while unmarried. And we have both been threatened with death by jihadists for things we have said and done. Ayaan cannot appear in public without armed guards.

In other words, when we speak about Islamist oppression, we bring personal experience to the table in addition to our scholarly expertise. Yet the feminist mantra so popular when it comes to victims of sexual assault — believe women first — isn’t extended to us. Neither is the notion that the personal is political. Our political conclusions are dismissed as personal; our personal experiences dismissed as political.

That’s because in the rubric of identity politics, our status as women of color is canceled out by our ideas, which are labeled “conservative” — as if opposition to violent jihad, sex slavery, genital mutilation or child marriage were a matter of left or right. This not only silences us, it also puts beyond the pale of liberalism a basic concern for human rights and the individual rights of women abused in the name of Islam.

There is a real discomfort among progressives on the left with calling out Islamic extremism. Partly they fear offending members of a “minority” religion and being labeled racist, bigoted or Islamophobic. There is also the idea, which has tremendous strength on the left, that non-Western women don’t need “saving” — and that the suggestion that they do is patronizing at best. After all, the thinking goes, if women in America still earn less than men for equivalent work, who are we to criticize other cultures?

This is extreme moral relativism disguised as cultural sensitivity. And it leads good people to make excuses for the inexcusable. The silence of the Democratic senators is a reflection of contemporary cultural pressures. Call it identity politics, moral relativism or political correctness — it is shortsighted, dangerous and, ultimately, a betrayal of liberal values.

The hard truth is that there are fundamental conflicts between universal human rights and the principle of Shariah, or Islamic law, which holds that a woman’s testimony is worth half that of a man’s; between freedom of religion and the Islamist idea that artists, writers, poets and bloggers should be subject to blasphemy laws; between secular governance and the Islamist goal of a caliphate; between United States law and Islamist promotion of polygamy, child marriage and marital rape; and between freedom of thought and the methods of indoctrination, or dawa, with which Islamists propagate their ideas.
That moral relativism and fear of being seen as Islamaphobic should cancel out any concern for women tells me that the supposed concern for women's rights and other human rights is just a political platitude for these female progressives. If they truly cared about the goals of feminism, they would be concerned about women women who suffer under Islamic rule.

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I don't know if it's any comfort to her, but James Freeman at the WSJ is defending her...somewhat. He argues that it isn't all her fault.
In a nutshell, the structural problem for the contemporary Democratic party is that its funding constituency in mostly urban areas on the coasts embraces Nancy Pelosi’s left-wing politics, but most voters don’t. Considering this situation, an increasingly vocal group of Democratic lawmakers now seem willing to risk fewer donations from Ms. Pelosi’s coastal check-writers in the hope of collecting more votes further inland....

Ms. Pelosi’s extremism won’t sell in many parts of the country. But if Democrats are thinking they’ve erred in not addressing voters’ top priorities, then the blame doesn’t just belong to the House minority leader. A broad swath of the Democratic caucus has been only too happy to spend months casting aspersions on the patriotism of President Trump without ever offering any “collusion” evidence.

Why have Democrats spent so little time addressing the concerns of average voters? The popular dinosaur who made this column famous once formulated the Taranto Principle, which held that favorable coverage by liberal journalists could actually harm Democrats by encouraging them to advocate media-friendly but politically-suicidal policies. Perhaps a related phenomenon has been at work in the Trump era, as many journalists reward pols who offer fact-free analysis about Russia rather than ideas to boost economic growth and create jobs. In this case it’s not that voters oppose the Russia investigation; they just don’t think it will solve their problems.

Fortunately for Republicans, Pelosi is vowing to stay on as Minority Leader. This line summarizes why Republicans are finding her one of their strongest assets.
During the news conference, Pelosi boasted about her effectiveness as a leader, even though Democrats lost their majority in 2010 under her watch and have never come close to winning it back.

“I am a master legislator,” Pelosi declared. “I am a strategic, politically astute leader. My leadership is recognized by many around the country. That is why I am able to attract the [financial] support that I do, which is essential to our election, I am sad to say.”

Pelosi also pointed out that she led Democrats to the majority in the first place back in 2006 after a dozen years out of power.
Yeah, but what master legislating has she done recently? Reportedly, some Democratic House members are meeting to try to figure out how to ease her out of leadership. They better first figure out who their candidate to oust her will be. I don't imagine that there are Democrats out there chanting, "Steny, Steny, Steny!"

In the wake of the George special election, Bret Stephens also identifies a long-term problem for the Democrats.
Whatever else might be said about the race, Democrats didn’t lose for lack of political talent, campaign financing and organization or enthusiasm among their base. They lost because of their brand.

What is that? Democrats may think the brand is all about diversity, inclusion and fairness. But for millions of Americans, the brand is also about contempt — intellectual contempt of the kind Nimzowitsch exuded for his opponent (the grandmaster Fritz Sämisch, who, in fairness, was no slouch); moral contempt of the sort Hillary Clinton felt for Trump (never more evident than last year when Hillary Clinton wondered, “Why aren’t I fifty points ahead?”).

That contempt may be justified. But in politics, contempt had better not be visible. Voters notice.

That seems to have been what happened in the Sixth District the moment Democrats decided to turn the race into a referendum on Trump. “Republicans saw Ossoff’s campaign omnipresence as a political siege and call for resistance,” notes Billy Michael Honor, a Presbyterian minister and resident of the district and self-described progressive, in an astute column at The Huffington Post. “The end result being the Republican base outperforming an energized Democratic Party voter turnout campaign.”

Whatever their misgivings about Trump, those Republicans weren’t about to give Nancy Pelosi the satisfaction of a national victory. Contemporary liberalism now expresses itself chiefly in the language of self-affirmation and moral censure: of being the party of the higher-minded; of affixing the suffix “phobe” to millions of people who don’t appreciate being described as bigots.

It’s intolerable. It’s why so many well-educated Republicans who find nothing to admire in the president’s dyspeptic boorishness find even less to like in his opponents’ snickering censoriousness. It’s why a political strategy by Democrats that seeks to turn every local race into a referendum on Trump is likely to fail.

Alan Dershowitz warns against using the standard that his liberal colleagues are advocating using to charge Donald Trump with obstruction of justice - corrupt intent. Do they want to risk establishing the precedent that obstruction is in the eye of the beholder?
This is a dangerous argument that no civil libertarian should be pressing. Nor would they be pressing it if the shoe were on the other foot.

If Hillary Clinton had been elected and Republicans were investigating her for asking the attorney general to describe the investigation of her as a "matter" rather than a "case," my colleagues would be arguing against an expansive view of existing criminal statutes, as they did when Republicans were demanding that she be locked up for espionage. The same would be true if Bill Clinton or former Attorney General Loretta Lynch were being investigated for his visit to her when she was investigating his wife's misuse of email servers.

"Corrupt motive" is an extraordinarily vague and open-ended term that can be expanded or contracted at the whim of zealous or politically motivated prosecutors. It is bad enough when this accordion-like term is used in the context of economic corruption, but it is far worse, and more dangerous to liberty, when used in the context of political disagreements.

In commercial cases where corrupt intent may be an element, the act itself is generally not constitutionally protected. It often involves a gray area financial transaction. But in political cases, especially those not involving money, the act itself is constitutionally protected, and the motive, which is often mixed, is placed on trial. It becomes the sole criteria for turning a constitutionally authorized political act into a felony.

What constitutes a corrupt motive will often depend on the political bias of the accuser. For some Democrats, the motives of all Republicans are suspect. The same is true for some Republicans.

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So much for Trump's efforts to fix the economy one company at a time. That deal with Carrier that he bragged about earlier to keep the plant in Indians? Well, now a lot of those jobs are going to Mexico.
Carrier, the heating and air-conditioning manufacturer, is laying off more than 600 employees from its Indianapolis plant next month, the same plant Trump vowed to keep on American soil, per CNBC. Those manufacturing jobs will go to Mexico, where labor is significantly cheaper.

Why it matters: Trump heralded the November deal as proof he'd live up to his pledge to protect U.S. jobs. And this comes just one day after Ford reversed its promise and shifted jobs to China instead of Mexico.
You know, it's almost as if politicians shouldn't get involved in promising special deals to rent-seeking companies.

Mollie Hemingway is dumbfounded
by the FBI's report on the shooting of the GOP baseball players. THey're claiming that they don't think the gunman had any "concrete plan to inflict violence" against Republicans and that the attack appeared "spontaneous" and it wasn't clear that he was targeting Republicans. Hemingway summarizes what we know and the FBI acknowledges about James Hodgkinson. See if this sounds like a man who didn't have a plan to shoot Republican congressman while they were practicing for the House baseball game.
The FBI admits that Hodgkinson:

-vociferously raged against Republicans in online forums,
-had a piece of paper bearing the names of six members of Congress,
-was reported for doing target practice outside his home in recent months before moving to Alexandria
-had mapped out a trip to the DC area,
-took multiple photos of the baseball field he would later shoot up, three days after the New York Times mentioned that Republicans practiced baseball at an Alexandria baseball field with little security,
-lived out of his va-n at the YMCA directly next door to the baseball field he shot up,
-legally purchased a rifle in March 2003 and 9 mm handgun “in November 2016,”
-modified the rifle at some point to accept a detachable magazine and replaced the original stock with a folding stock,
-rented a storage facility to hide hundreds of rounds of ammunition and additional rifle components,
-asked “Is this the Republican or Democrat baseball team?” before firing on the Republicans,
-ran a Google search for information on the “2017 Republican Convention” hours before the shooting,
-and took photos at high-profile Washington locations, including the east front plaza of the U.S. Capitol and the Dirksen Senate Office.
Yet the FBI doesn't think that he had any particular target in mind. Just imagine if the victims had been Democrats.
the media’s big problem right now is that everyone in the country knows how they’d be covering the shooting if the parties were reversed. Can you imagine if a shooter had visited the office of Sen. Ted Cruz and corresponded with two Republican senators? Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) gave emails to investigators last week but it was treated mostly as local news.

With trust in institutions at historic lows, and the bureaucracy beset by fears of politicization, the FBI made a poor decision to gaslight Americans by claiming that the assassination attempt wasn’t premeditated terrorism but a spontaneous “anger management” problem.

....The FBI’s briefing appears so contrary to the facts as to be insulting. When a man with a history of hating Republicans cases a location, takes pictures, verifies the targets are Republicans before opening fire, has a list of Republican politicians in his pocket, and shoots and nearly kills Republicans, it’s hard to swallow the FBI’s contention that the shooting was “spontaneous” with “no target.” The agency should reconsider whether it wants to troll Americans about something this serious.

As Sean Davis points out
, The NYT had reported where the GOP practiced baseball in that Alexandria park. On April 15 Hodgkinson went to this otherwise ordinary park and took pictures of it. Yet the FBI don't believe that those pictures represented any sort of surveillance of an intended site for shooting GOP congressmen.

David French explains why the desire that so many leftists have to limit speech that they regard as hate speech.
here is no limiting principle. If “How does this speech make you feel?” is the core question, it incentivizes victim politics and overreaction. Robust debate triggers robust emotions, and robust debate on the most sensitive issues — issues like race, gender, and sexuality — trigger the most robust of responses.

Lest anyone wonder about the actual definition of “hate speech,” look to campus and liberal activist groups. At Evergreen State College in Washington, a progressive professor’s statement against racial separation and division was deemed so hateful that he couldn’t safely conduct classes on campus. Influential pressure groups such as the Southern Poverty Law Center label the Ku Klux Klan and other genuine racists “hate groups” but also apply the same label to mainstream Christian conservative organizations such as the Family Research Council. The SPLC has branded respected American Enterprise Institute scholar Charles Murray a “white nationalist.” Moreover, it’s far more forgiving of leftist extremism than of moderate speech that is conservative or libertarian.

As we start to hear all the dire predictions of what the Senate health care bill would mean, Guy Benson takes a trip down memory lane to remind us what Republicans and Democrats were saying at the time about Obamacare. Who had the better track record of predicting what would happen? Hmmmm.
Many Conservatives warned that Obamacare would increase rates and cost a lot more than $940 billion. They predicted that many people would not be able to keep their plans and doctors as promised, that adding millions of new people to a heavily-strained Medicaid program wasn't wise or sustainable, that Obamacare's exchanges weren't going to be ready for primetime, and that the law's co-ops were going to fall apart. For questioning the Democratic line, these since-vindicated critics and skeptics were routinely attacked as haters, liars, and even racists.
He then links to a lot of the predictions that Obamacare's defenders were making at the time about how premiums wouldn't rise but would actually decline. However, since Obamacare went into effect in 2013, in the 29 states using the federal exchanges have increased 105%. So keep all these accusations in mind during the debates over the next weeks.
Every single one of the people and entities above are now frantically admonishing Americans about the parade of horribles that will befall them under Republican Obamacare alternatives.... itizens should bear these people's histories in mind as they assess the credibility of their latest pronouncements -- having been wildly, catastrophically, embarrassingly wrong in their faulty or deceitful cheerleading for Obamacare.
I don't hold any brief for either the House or Senate bill. But I do wish people would stop comparing them to some Platonic ideal repeal bill and look at what is politically possible to get through the Congress as it is now constituted.

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After watching the NBA draft last night, I was struck at how Jayson Tatum's mother, Brandy Cole, is the anti-Lavar Ball. As a single mother, she sacrificed all her life to provide for him and raise him to be a good person, working part-time and taking him to class as she studied to get through college and then get two other degrees including a law degree. She helped him achieve his dream. And now that she has, she is working with him, not to self-aggrandize and make a buck off her son's talent, but to help him found a charity to help other single moms. Of course, Lavar Ball gets all the media attention, but the real deal is Brandy Cole, a woman most people just heard of this week and probably won't hear from again except to see her cheering her son on.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Cruising the Web

So Planned Parenthood spent over three-quarters of a million dollars for the moral victory of contributing to Jon Ossoff's defeat. It's hard to see that the organization is in such dire need of government aid if it can use supporters' contributions for political donations that would have, at most, elected a guy for a year and a half. Alexandra DeSanctis comments,
That failure underscores another important point. Planned Parenthood consistently argues that, if it were to be stripped of its federal funding, millions of women would lose “vital health care.”

If money is really so tight over at Planned Parenthood — and if American women are truly in desperate need of life-saving care that they can’t get anywhere else — perhaps the abortion-rights group should think twice before dropping hundreds of thousands on insignificant political races, whether or not those races end in bitter defeat.

Josh Kraushaar makes an interesting observation about Jon Ossoff's campaign.

Jon Ossoff has the chutzpah to complain about there being "too much money in politics." He's also upset that super PACs have been spending so much money in Georgia's Sixth Congressional District. Apparently, he figured the voters who spent the past few weeks being inundated with ads from groups supporting Ossoff would believe him when he made the same tired calls for campaign finance reform that Democrats who outspent their opponents such as Obama and Hillary have been making for years.
Simple arithmetic shows the stupidity of that sentiment. According to campaign finance documents compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics, Ossoff spent six times more money than Handel. His campaign raised more than $24 million to her $4.5 million.

At that point, Ossoff groupies will protest that Handel benefited from super PAC spending. After all, they argue, the Republican benefited from $18.2 million in outside spending compared to the Democrat's $8 million from outside groups.

But while it's true that dark money donors were with her, that cash only helped Handel narrow the gap. It didn't make up the difference. If you take the sum of campaign and outside spending together, it's clear that millions more flowed to Ossoff's cause.


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Matt Lewis has some advice for Democrats - get Nancy Pelosi to retire. He points out how the GOP's main strategy in the Georgia race was to tell voters that Ossoff would just be another vote for Pelosi. And, in a majority Republican district, Nancy Pelosi's name is still poison.
This raises the question about why Nancy Pelosi is still so toxic.

We can’t discount the accretion of scar tissue and baggage that piles up when one has been turned into a boogeyman. Just as Hillary Clinton had a tough time overcoming decades of negative attacks directed at her, Pelosi’s brand has been tarnished, especially in Republican districts, for more than a decade now. That takes a toll.

It’s also fair to say that the way people are promoted to leadership positions (long tenure, helping elect other Democrats, courting special-interest groups) lends itself to leaders emerging who represent safe districts. And people who represent safe districts tend to be less moderate. So, on the Democratic side, you end up with a liberal foil who exudes “San Francisco values” being a straight-out-of-central-casting villain who doesn’t play well in Peoria.

The long-term danger for Democrats is that this is a vicious cycle that keeps them in the minority. It works like this: Nobody can internally oust Pelosi from her perch, because her fellow Democratic members (the ones who vote on leaders) are from districts just like hers. The Catch-22 is that Pelosi’s baggage prevents the election of the kinds of red-state Democrats who might someday be a large enough bloc to replace her.
Lewis then goes on to argue that part of the dislike of Pelosi is just sexism. I would disagree with that. The dislike of Harry Reid was just as intense as that of Nancy Pelosi. The same thing was true of Tom Daschle. And the Democrats disliked Newt Gingrich, Tom DeLay, John Boehner, and Mitch McConnell. It has nothing to do with gender.

Sean Trende, as usual, has some intelligent comments
analyzing the special election. This point is one I hadn't seen elsewhere.
3. The distribution and enthusiasm gaps could be problems for Democrats. A developing scenario is this: Democrats have a highly energized core of supporters who would walk through a hurricane to vote against a Republican. In polling parlance, they make up the “tens” of enthusiasm (races for which tens of millions of dollars are raised). The strata below them, however, may be disproportionately Republican, who typically make up a larger percentage of high-propensity voters but are apathetic because of Trump, or at least displaced by Democrats.

This makes it easy for Democrats to overperform in races that slide under the radar, explaining results like KS-4 earlier this year and SC-5. But as the election gains visibility, those lower-propensity Republican voters become activated. The problem is that these special elections serve as shots across the bow for complacent Republicans and could reduce the number of Democrats who might sneak through in 2018.

One other possibility here: If those unusually energized Democrats are disproportionately distributed in heavily Democratic or rural Republican districts, it could reflect an especially large distributional issue for Democrats.


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Charles C. W. Cooke points out that the report that the FBI just released yesterday on the shooting at the Congressional baseball game debunks the hot takes that liberals had been making on gun control as soon as news of the shooting became public. They wanted to argue that the shooter had bought his gun in Virginia which does not have strict gun control laws. However, it turns out that he bought his two guns, legally, in Illinois, a state with some of the strictest gun control laws.
For a start, the guns weren’t bought in Virginia; they were bought in Illinois, which has some of the strictest gun laws in the country. And they weren’t purchased privately, illegally, or without attendant background checks, but “legally through federal firearms licensees” that are obliged under federal law to run checks. Moreover, Hodgkinson only got the weapons after he obtained an additional possession-and-purchase license (FOID) of the sort that more extreme gun-control advocates want to see made mandatory in all states.

Or, put another way: Illinois has stricter rules than even Barack Obama endorsed — it quite literally licenses all gun-owners in the state — and those rules made no difference to this case. This is typical.

Alas, the errors don’t end there. Frum and co. also berated Virginia for being among the 40+ states to permit open carry. But Alexandria, where the shooting took place, doesn’t permit open carry, a fact that prompted one of the most hilariously convoluted arguments I have seen in my life. Others talked about both “assault weapons” and “high-capacity” magazines. But as the FBI notes, the firearm used was an SKS in 7.62mm, which has never been classed as an “assault weapon,” and which wasn’t included in the ban that obtained from 1994-2004. Further, when he bought it, Hodgkinson’s SKS was unable to take “high-capacity” magazines at all; rather, it came with an internal 10-round box magazine. Per the report, Hodgkinson seems to have modified it to take external magazines after the purchase, a change that raises the fair question of how effective any at-sale restrictions can really be in stopping the determined. Either way, even after he modified it there is no evidence that Hodgkinson introduced a larger than 10-round external magazine (that’s the standard for the modified SKS), or that, if he did, it had any effect on the outcome.
The problem with Twitter and TV is that people can go make allegations based on assumptions without waiting for the facts.

Daniel Depetris argues, quite rightly, that Congress should put a stop to how presidents Bush, Obama, and Trump have all based military action on the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) that was passed after 9/11 to give President Bush the authority to engage in military action against those responsible for the 9/11 attacks. Since then, that authorization has been used for military actions far removed in location and motivation for going after the perpetrators of the 2001 attacks.
nearly 16 years later, a war resolution that was designed to combat the terrorist group behind 9/11 has transformed into a carte blanche to fight every Sunni jihadist group on the face of the earth. All the executive branch needs to do is provide a decent enough case that the terrorist group being targeted is connected in some way, shape, or form to al Qaeda or the Islamic State.

The executive branch has been incredibly successful in convincing members of Congress to buy into that logic—knowing full well that the actual text of the 2001 resolution is quite restrictive. The George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump administrations have all taken advantage of their constitutional authority as Commanders-in-Chief to increase their war powers to the detriment of every other branch of government.
Depetris argues that Congress should take back their Constitutional authority over war-making powers by issuing a new AUMF to limit the military action that the President can take unilaterally. There are bipartisan proposals in Congress, but I suspect they'll continue to do nothing since that is easier than taking difficult votes that would give each member some responsiblity with what follows.

Holman Jenkins tries to examine how so many people, mostly on the left, have become so convinced that Trump was guilty of treasonous collusion with the Russians to undermine the election given that the facts, as we know them, demonstrate that the actions taken by Trump's associates were not different from what other politicians have done.
How did it become widely believed in the first half of 2017 that a U.S. president committed treason with Russia?

Consider what has passed for proof in the media. Tens of thousands of Americans have done business with Russia since the collapse of the Soviet Union, not to mention before.

In 2009 President Obama made the first of his two trips to Russia with a gaggle of U.S. business leaders in tow.

Of these many thousands, four were associated with the Trump campaign, and now became evidence of Trump collusion with Russia.

Every president for 75 years has sought improved relations with Russia. That’s what those endless summits were about. Mr. Trump, in his typically bombastic way, also promoted improved relations with Russia. Now this was evidence of collusion.

Russian diplomats live in the U.S. and rub shoulders with countless Americans. Such shoulder-rubbing, if Trump associates were involved, now is proof of crime.

....We would probably not be having this Russia discussion today if not for the so-called Trump dossier alleging improbable, lurid connections between Donald Trump and the Kremlin.

It had no provenance that anyone was bound to respect or rely upon. Its alleged author, a retired British agent named Christopher Steele, supposedly had Russian intelligence sources, but why would Russian intelligence blow the cover of their blackmail agent Mr. Trump whom they presumably so carefully and expensively cultivated? They wouldn’t.

Yet recall the litany of Rep. Adam Schiff, who declared in a House Intelligence Committee hearing: “Is it possible that all of these events and reports are completely unrelated and nothing more than an entirely unhappy coincidence?”

His litany actually consisted of innocuous, incidental and routine Trump associations interspersed with claims from the Trump dossier to make the innocuous, incidental and routine seem nefarious.

Maybe Mr. Schiff is a cynic, or maybe Harvard Law sent him back into the world with the same skull full of mush with which he arrived. But ever since, every faulty or incomplete recollection of a meeting with a Russian has been promoted in the media as proof of treason by Trump associates.

The president’s obvious irritation with being called a traitor is proof that he is a traitor.
Of course, Trump has made the whole situation worse with his intemperate tweets and clumsy firing of FBI director Comey. But this was all supposed to be about real allegations of collusion, but when you look at what makes up the foundation for those allegations, it's all very insubstantial.

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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Cruising the Web

Well, last night was another night of moral victories for the Dems and actual victory for the GOP.

Maybe Ossoff should have just spent more money. Yeah, that would have done it. They poured all that money into a meaningless House special election and it just wasn't enough. If he'd won, we'd have heard how this portended something so significant for 2018. Now that a Republican won, we can go back to not caring about the results from a special election. Such elections aren't predictive of what will happen a year and a half later...unless they are. We have no idea at this point and trying to extrapolate some overarching conclusions about what it all means is really just pundit posturing. One reason that special elections, especially those to replace representatives brought into a president's cabinet, is that presidents are likely to pick people who come from districts that their party isn't likely to lose.

The one thing we know is, if Handel had lost, we would have heard days of how this meant that Trump was such an anchor on GOP candidates and how Republicans should be trembling in their loafers for the midterms. The spin would have really mattered. So, the absence of that spin might be the most important result. Dan McLaughlin points out that "Democrats in 2009-10 won the first seven straight special elections for the House before the GOP got its stuff together in time for a midterm 2010 landslide." So neither side can generalize all that much from yesterday's results.

But the Democrats might ask themselves if it was really the smartest move to run a 30-year old guy who hasn't really ever done anything and didn't even live in the district.

Democrats on Capitol Hill are simultaneously complaining that no one knows what is in the Senate Obamacare replacement bill because they're nefariously negotiating it in secret; however the Democrats also know that the bill they know nothing about will be an absolute disaster for everyone. As Guy Benson writes, the Democrats are hoping that no one remembers how they went about passing Obamacare. Just for a reminder:
(1) Democrats marketed Obamacare with several gargantuan lies, the biggest of which is advertised in their own preferred shorthand for the law: The "Affordable" Care Act. Premiums and out-of-pocket costs have soared under Obamacare, and are getting worse. Team Obama and their allies also issued unequivocal promises that any consumer who was satisfied with his or her existing arrangements could keep what they liked. This ended up being tagged as left-leaning Politifact's 'lie of the year' once implementation exposed the egregious falsehood, which betrayed millions of Americans. Other vows and assurances on cost curves, access to care, reduced "uncompensated care," and the price tag of Obamacare's vast expansion of already-struggling Medicaid have similarly gone down the tubes.

(2) In order to nail down the votes they needed, Democratic leaders and the White House handed out a string of legislative goodies (and bogus promises) to recalcitrant Democrats, from the "Cornhusker Kickback" to the "Louisiana Purchase" to "Gatorade." Republicans objected to these machinations, calling them secretive and ethically-suspect. Some of those tweets and video clips are being used against them today, some representing pretty clean political hits. But highlighting those complaints is a double-edged sword for the Left; yes, it underscores GOP opportunism and hypocrisy, but it also reminds people that Democrats did use a litany of shady tactics of their own in dragging Obamacare across the finish line without a single Republican vote.
Republicans may well face a public backlash for the bill they put forward, but the Democrats are not the ones with clean hands who can disingenuously call out the Republicans.
Republicans may indeed face a backlash of their own for jamming through an unpopular healthcare bill after relatively little public scrutiny (although Senate passage would not conclude the process; a treacherous path would still stretch ahead in the House). If they implement a law that does not improve people's lives, or makes things worse, they'll risk an Obamacare-style beating at the polls. But forgive me for refusing to accept lectures on proper procedure and best practices from the very people who lied, cajoled, and arm-twisted us into Obamacare, and still defend their disastrous handiwork to this very day.

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David Brooks, of all people, says people should just cool it with their expectations about the Trump-Russia story.
The politics of scandal is delightful for cable news. It’s hard to build ratings arguing about health insurance legislation. But it’s easy to build ratings if you are a glorified Court TV, if each whiff of scandal smoke generates hours of “Breaking News” intensity and a deluge of speculation from good-looking former prosecutors.

The politics is great for those forces responsible for the lawyerization of American life. It takes power out of the hands of voters and elected officials and puts power in the hands of prosecutors and defense attorneys.

The politics of scandal drives a wedge through society. Political elites get swept up in the scandals. Most voters don’t really care.

Donald Trump rose peddling the politics of scandal — oblivious to policy, spreading insane allegations about birth certificates and other things — so maybe it’s just that he gets swallowed by it. But frankly, on my list of reasons Trump is unfit for the presidency, the Russia-collusion story ranks number 971, well below, for example, the perfectly legal ways he kowtows to thugs and undermines the norms of democratic behavior.

The people who hype the politics of scandal don’t make American government purer. They deserve some of the blame for an administration and government too distracted to do its job, for a political culture that is both shallower and nastier, and for fostering a process that looks like an elite game of entrapment.

Claudine Feledick writes at The Federalist about the comparisons that fit between the Obama administration and Watergate.
The American people learned in 2013 that Obama’s Justice Department subpoenaed email and phone information from Associated Press and Fox News reporter James Rosen, who was aggressively investigating and reporting on the Benghazi attack. Rosen claimed his parents’ phone records were also swept up in the intelligence-gathering. The Justice Department said his suspected release of classified information was the reason for its intelligence gathering. Obama’s attorney general, Eric Holder, admitted in 2014 that the surveillance had happened and expressed regret.

Former CBS reporter Sharyl Atkisson also claims the Obama administration surveilled her. One morning at 1 a.m., her laptop popped on by itself. In her book “Stonewalled,” Atkission describes the event: “‘Reeeeeeee.’ The noise is coming from my personal Apple desktop computer in the small office adjacent to my bedroom. It’s starting up. On its own.” An investigation by computer forensics experts at both her employer and her own hired investigators agreed there had been a “highly sophisticated remote intrusion” of her computers.

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter website, Sharyl noted, “I have been told by two computer forensics experts that a highly sophisticated entity using abilities outside non-government resources, using software proprietary either to the DIA, CIA, FBI, or NSA made repeat remote intrusions into both my computers over a period of time.” Atkisson was researching the Fast and Furious federal gun-running to drug dealers and Benghazi stories at about that time. She now has two lawsuits pending against the government.

The Obama administration’s use of surveillance against political opponents wasn’t limited to reporters poking their noses into uncomfortable situations. It was recently revealed that Obama’s national security advisor, Susan Rice, requested the unmasking of Americans in the gathering of intelligence. Unmasked information was then leaked to the press....

According to Circa News, thousands of American citizens’ names were unmasked from surveillance reports during the Obama administration. Unmasking occurs when an American citizen’s name shows up redacted in an intelligence report. This typically requires a compelling reason, to protect that citizen’s Fourth Amendment rights. The intelligence committee recently subpoenaed three former Obama intelligence administration officials—John Brennan, Rice, and Samantha Power—to testify regarding this unmasking. Congress wants to know if the unmasking was done for national security or for political reasons.

Sen. Rand Paul has reported that sources have come to him to let him know that he was spied on. “I have formally requested from the WH and the Intel Committees info on whether I was surveilled by Obama admin and or the Intel community!” Paul wrote on Twitter. Intelligence sources also told Sen. Lindsay Graham that he was surveilled and unmasked in a private conversation. He said, “I have reason to believe that a conversation that I had was picked up with some foreign leader or some foreign person and somebody requested that my conversation be unmasked.”

Graham and Paul were candidates for the Republican Party nomination for president in the 2016 election. Was the government surveillance justified for national security reasons or used to affect an election, or to punish political enemies? The question is unanswered.
Read the rest. We've heard a lot of these stories before, but they received a scintilla of the attention all the accusations against Trump received.

Paul Beinart writes in The Atlantic to contrast the positions that Democrats used to have on illegal immigration to the position that they hold today.
In 2005, a left-leaning blogger wrote, “Illegal immigration wreaks havoc economically, socially, and culturally; makes a mockery of the rule of law; and is disgraceful just on basic fairness grounds alone.” In 2006, a liberal columnist wrote that “immigration reduces the wages of domestic workers who compete with immigrants” and that “the fiscal burden of low-wage immigrants is also pretty clear.” His conclusion: “We’ll need to reduce the inflow of low-skill immigrants.” That same year, a Democratic senator wrote, “When I see Mexican flags waved at proimmigration demonstrations, I sometimes feel a flush of patriotic resentment. When I’m forced to use a translator to communicate with the guy fixing my car, I feel a certain frustration.”

The blogger was Glenn Greenwald. The columnist was Paul Krugman. The senator was Barack Obama.

Prominent liberals didn’t oppose immigration a decade ago. Most acknowledged its benefits to America’s economy and culture. They supported a path to citizenship for the undocumented. Still, they routinely asserted that low-skilled immigrants depressed the wages of low-skilled American workers and strained America’s welfare state. And they were far more likely than liberals today are to acknowledge that, as Krugman put it, “immigration is an intensely painful topic … because it places basic principles in conflict.”

Today, little of that ambivalence remains. In 2008, the Democratic platform called undocumented immigrants “our neighbors.” But it also warned, “We cannot continue to allow people to enter the United States undetected, undocumented, and unchecked,” adding that “those who enter our country’s borders illegally, and those who employ them, disrespect the rule of the law.” By 2016, such language was gone. The party’s platform described America’s immigration system as a problem, but not illegal immigration itself. And it focused almost entirely on the forms of immigration enforcement that Democrats opposed. In its immigration section, the 2008 platform referred three times to people entering the country “illegally.” The immigration section of the 2016 platform didn’t use the word illegal, or any variation of it, at all.
Beinart looks for an explanation for this change and finds one explanation in the political benefit that Democrats think that they can gain by catering to Latino voters which they believe outweighs any political cost. Another factor is the pressure by corporate America which wants loosened barriers to immigration. Beinart points out that studies that purport to show that there are no effects of immigration to lower employment or wages have been made by scholars funded by pro-immigration groups plus the fear of a backlash that academics would face if they found otherwise.

Beinart is courageous in examining that which liberals would prefer not to read. Having been honest in his analysis, his proposals for addressing immigration merit consideration. His essay is well worth reading.

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Obama attorney general Eric Holder is considering running for president in 2020. If the Democrats want a candidate as ethically challenged as Hillary Clinton, Holder should be their guy. Matt Vespa reminds us of one aspect of Eric Holder's shady history.
Holder was put in the hot seat over the Fast and Furious scandal that embroiled the Department of Justice and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives for a botched gunwalking operation against Mexican drug cartels. The ATF allowed over 2,500 AK-47s and other weapons to be purchased by the cartels, which were then used in crimes. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was killed by one of the guns, which weren’t tracked. The Mexican government was also kept in the dark about the operation by the Obama administration.

Congress and the Obama White House ended up in a tug of war over documents relating to the operation, resulting in the administration invoking executive privilege and Holder being held in contempt. So, there’s political baggage, with the addition that Mr. Holder has never held public office.
There is a lot more that would come out about Holder's conduct both under Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. He's survived those scandals before, but don't expect that he would continue to do so if he made a serious run for the presidency.







Hans A. von Spakovsky and Benjamin Janacek refute the claim by Hillary Clinton and others that voter-ID laws suppressed Democratic votes in 2016.
While it is true that 2016 saw Wisconsin’s turnout drop from 2012, it is also true that the state still experienced higher turnout than in 2008, before the voter-ID law was passed. Moreover, according to the U.S. Elections Project, Wisconsin had the fifth-highest turnout rate in the country, far higher than that of many states with no ID requirement. 69.4 percent of the state’s eligible voters showed up to the polls, far surpassing the national average of 59.3 percent and the 56.8 percent rate in Clinton’s home state of New York, where there is no voter-ID law.

Wisconsin’s turnout decrease from 2012 is just as likely, or more likely, attributable to a natural regression from its unusually high 2012 turnout rate. President Obama’s high-powered turnout operation, coupled with Wisconsin’s own Paul Ryan being on the GOP ticket, would easily explain the 2012 surge in statewide voter turnout. Hillary Clinton’s ineffective campaign, her decision not to visit the state, and the general leftward shift of the Democratic party may also have dampened enthusiasm for her candidacy.

Democrats have generally admitted that they failed to connect with blue-collar workers in 2016. In fact, their party chairman, Tom Perez, has organized a year-long outreach program to try to rectify the problem. Unfortunately for Democrats, these voters are highly concentrated in Rust Belt states, such as Wisconsin, Michigan, Iowa, Minnesota, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, that proved especially susceptible to Trump’s economic message. None of those states saw any increase in voter turnout, but it wasn’t because of voter-ID laws, which vary widely among them; it was because Clinton failed to rally their working-class voters to her side, convinced that she could rely on Obama’s winning coalition from 2008 and 2012 to put her over the top....

In fact, turnout data from 2012 and 2016 do not show any “voter suppression” because of ID requirements. Nine of the eleven states that have implemented so-called strict ID Laws either saw an increase in turnout or exceeded the national average in turnout in 2016. Two of them, Wisconsin and New Hampshire, finished in the top five nationally. Meanwhile only two of the 17 states plus Washington, D.C., that have no ID requirement finished among the top five.
Studies that the Democrats are using to blame voter-ID laws have since been debunked. But why pay attention to actual evidence when you can just throw out poisonous allegations.
A January 2017 study by three professors from the University of California San Diego and Bucknell University — frequently referenced in liberal media outlets — is another unfortunate example. The study erroneously claims that voter-ID laws have a disparate impact on minorities and “diminish the participation of Democrats and those on the left, while doing little to deter the vote of Republicans and those on the right.” This sensational finding generated a media storm, with the help of several opinion pieces from the authors making the politically charged (and false) claim that voter-ID laws “lower minority turnout and benefit the Republican Party.”

But these claims, too, were recently debunked by a group of professors from Yale, Stanford, and the University of Pennsylvania. Upon examining the data in the original study, the group found “no definitive relationship between strict voter ID laws and turnout.” It also found that the original study contained measurement errors, omitted-variable bias, and misinterpreted data.(links in original)

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Bre Payton thinks the "end is nigh" now that Mattel has introduced a Ken doll with a man bun.


Ugh! Can we say that this very unfortunate fashion trend as officially jumped the shark if Ken is now sporting a man bun?

In contrast to man-bun Ken, Payton links to this 1865 from a Maine man seeking a wife.



Given how many young men in the North and South who had died in the Civil War by 1865, I have to think that there would have been some young woman who would have taken this man up on his advertisement.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Cruising the Web

It was a very good day for the First Amendment protections of freedom of speech yesterday at the Supreme Court. Two decisions came down that were basically unanimous in protecting speech rights. The first one, Matal v. Tam, was a case that my AP Government and Politics class had used in a moot Supreme Court hearing. The case involves a rock group "The Slants" made up of Asian Americans. They'd chosen the name partly to dilute the racial impact of the ethnic slur. However, the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) had denied them trademark privileges under part of the law from 1946 that banned the registration of a trademark that “may disparage … persons, living or dead, institutions, beliefs, or national symbols, or bring them into contempt, or disrepute.” The Court ruled that this disparagement clause violates the First Amendent. Justice Alito, joined by three other justices, wrote,
[The idea that the government may restrict] speech expressing ideas that offend … strikes at the heart of the First Amendment. Speech that demeans on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, religion, age, disability, or any other similar ground is hateful; but the proudest boast of our free speech jurisprudence is that we protect the freedom to express “the thought that we hate.”
In a concurrence, also for four justices, Justice Kennedy wrote,
A law found to discriminate based on viewpoint is an “egregious form of content discrimination,” which is “presumptively unconstitutional.” … A law that can be directed against speech found offensive to some portion of the public can be turned against minority and dissenting views to the detriment of all. The First Amendment does not entrust that power to the government’s benevolence. Instead, our reliance must be on the substantial safeguards of free and open discussion in a democratic society.
As Eugene Volokh summarizes, speech that is racially offensive is also afforded First Amendment protections.
And the justices made clear that speech that some view as racially offensive is protected not just against outright prohibition but also against lesser restrictions. In Matal, the government refused to register “The Slants” as a band’s trademark, on the ground that the name might be seen as demeaning to Asian Americans. The government wasn’t trying to forbid the band from using the mark; it was just denying it certain protections that trademarks get against unauthorized use by third parties. But even in this sort of program, the court held, viewpoint discrimination — including against allegedly racially offensive viewpoints — is unconstitutional. And this no-viewpoint-discrimination principle has long been seen as applying to exclusion of speakers from universities, denial of tax exemptions to nonprofits, and much more.
Take that, Snowflakes!

This decision should hold ramifications for the Redskins whose trademark had also been revoked by the PTO under the disparagement clause. This ruling should cancel out that ruling from the PTO and allow the football team to carry on with the trademark of its merchandise. The Redskins had submitted an amicus brief supporting the Slants. Their trademark was revoked in 2014 and they'd been appealing that decision. This case should mean that their trademark is restored. The team is already celebrating.
Redskins owner Dan Snyder said he was "thrilled" with the Supreme Court's ruling, and team attorney Lisa Blatt said the court's decision effectively resolves the Redskins' longstanding dispute with the government.

"The Supreme Court vindicated the Team's position that the First Amendment blocks the government from denying or cancelling a trademark registration based on the government's opinion," Blatt said in a statement.

When we did this case in my three classes, the rock group won each time; however, the decision was much closer. There were always a few of the students who were playing the justices who were persuaded by the arguments of the students representing the PTO. That is in accord my observation that students these days are much more willing to deny free speech protections to speech that they deem is offensive. Even when we cover what the Supreme Court has ruled about hate and threatening speech, there are still students who just feel that such speech just shouldn't be allowed and that the Constitution and Supreme Court are wrong. It's scary.

Another free speech case decided yesterday, Packingham v. North Carolina, unanimously struck down a North Carolina law that banned sex offenders from any social networking site that was open to minors. Jacob Sullum at Reason summarizes the case and decision.
The case was brought by Lester Packingham, who at the age of 21 had sex with a 13-year-old girl and was convicted of taking indecent liberties with a minor. Eight years later, Packingham beat a traffic ticket and expressed his pleasure on Facebook: "Man God is Good! How about I got so much favor they dismiss the ticket before court even started. No fine, No court costs, no nothing spent….Praise be to GOD, WOW! Thanks JESUS!" That burst of online exultation violated North Carolina's ban on social media use, which covers all registered sex offenders, regardless of whether their crimes involved minors or the internet.

Packingham argued that his conviction violated the First Amendment, and a state appeals court agreed. The North Carolina Supreme Court did not. Siding with Packingham today, the U.S. Supreme Court concludes that the law "burden[s] substantially more speech than is necessary to further the government's legitimate interests."

Writing for the majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy emphasizes the internet's vital importance to freedom of speech. "This case is one of the first this Court has taken to address the relationship between the First Amendment and the modern Internet," he says. "As a result, the Court must exercise extreme caution before suggesting that the First Amendment provides scant protection for access to vast networks in that medium."

Kennedy says North Carolina's law "enacts a prohibition unprecedented in the scope of First Amendment speech it burdens," applying indiscriminately to many kinds of online activity, even when it has nothing to do with contacting minors. "By prohibiting sex offenders from using those websites, North Carolina with one broad stroke bars access to what for many are the principal sources for knowing current events, checking ads for employment, speaking and listening in the modern public square, and otherwise exploring the vast realms of human thought and knowledge," he writes. "These websites can provide perhaps the most powerful mechanisms available to a private citizen to make his or her voice heard....To foreclose access to social media altogether is to prevent the user from engaging in the legitimate exercise of First Amendment rights."

In a concurring opinion joined by John Roberts and Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito notes that the law's broad definition of "commercial social networking Web site" covers not only widely used social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter but also shopping sites such as Amazon and news sites such as The Washington Post. Alito says the law's "staggering reach...makes it a felony for a registered sex offender simply to visit a vast array of websites, including many that appear to provide no realistic opportunity for communications that could facilitate the abuse of children."

The Court's decision in Packingham v. North Carolina not only vindicates the First Amendment but provides a welcome dose of skepticism about sweeping, indiscriminate laws that are supposedly justified by the need to protect children from sexual predators. In this case, as in many others, the law went far beyond that goal, criminalizing a wide range of innocent actions by people classified as sex offenders, most of whom pose no real threat to children.
This is an example of a poorly crafted law ending up achieving the exact opposite result that the legislators intended when it is eventually struck down. North Carolina has been experiencing such losses in the courts over the past few years.

I had considered using this case for one of our class moot Supreme Court hearings because I thought the students would be interested in the subject and because it was a North Carolina case. But after reading about it, I decided it was just too obviously wrong and wasn't worth arguing. So, in addition to Matal v. Tam, we did Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Comer, a freedom of religion case. If this gets decided as it was in my classes, the church should win this one.

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From what we know now about the attack in London, this time with a man driving a van into a crowd of worshippers near a London mosque while screaming "I'm going to kill all Muslims," this seems to be the logical result of the tit-for-tat escalation of hateful responses. Jim Geraghty writes on this theme,
Perhaps this is relevant in our current moment here in the United States. We’ve been living in an era of escalating political and cultural animosity and provocation. Quite a few politically-active Americans are starting to think, “because the other side has done X; at the very least, they deserve X done to them in response and perhaps even an escalation to Y.”

Radical Islamists have committed several attacks using vans and other vehicles and hitting pedestrians; this hate-filled maniac decided to do the same to Muslims coming out of a mosque. In his mind, it didn’t matter that these were old men and women with no known connection to terrorism or extremism of any kind; all that mattered is that they were a group of “those people.”

He became, quite literally, what he thought he was fighting, the kind of murderous lunatic who tries to kill as many people as possible in the name of a cause.
This sounds as if France was lucky in avoiding a truly murderous attack.
French police evacuated the Champs-Elysees in central Paris Monday after an armed man crashed a car packed with explosives into a police van.

The driver was knocked unconscious by the crash and later died from his injuries. No civilians or law enforcement were hurt. Police closed the street but said the situation was under control. Interior Minister Gérard Collomb called it an “attack aimed at our security forces” in a tweet from the scene.

These are those peaceful Palestinians whom some useful idiots in the West think could be partners for peace.
The Palestinian Authority has named a public square after the mastermind of the Ma'alot massacre, Palestinian Media Watch reported.

The PA named the square in Jenin after arch-terrorist Khaled Nazzal, the Secretary of the Central Committee of the Democratic Front for Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), and commander of its military branch.

Nazzal was responsible for planning the 1974 Ma'alot massacre, in which Arab terrorists entered a school in the northern town of Ma'alot and took dozens of children and teachers hostage. 22 children and 4 adults were murdered in the attack.

Nazzal was also responsible for the planning of many other deadly terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians, including the murder of 4 hostages in Beit Shean and a grenade attack in Jerusalem.

The "Martyr Khaled Nazzal Square" was inaugurated at a rally in which PA officials participated "under the auspices of the Jenin District and the [Jenin] municipality." Participants included the Deputy District Governor of the Jenin District, and the DFLP in Jenin.

Deputy Mayor of Jenin Mahmoud Abu Mweis spoke at the the inauguration and said that the event "emphasized that our leadership and our people will continue on the path of the Martyrs."
When a people and government celebrate someone who murdered children how can anyone rational regard them as worthy partners for peace?

This is an excellent idea. I hope the Congressional leaders do indeed go forward with this.
Alarmed by the stalemate on healthcare reform, lack of progress on tax reform and appropriations bills that are far behind schedule, Republican lawmakers across Congress are increasingly willing to consider canceling the month-long August recess.

Senate Republican negotiators reported that they are not close to a deal on healthcare reform and that scheduling a vote by July 4, which Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has pushed, is likely unrealistic.

That impasse has held up work on a budget resolution, which is necessary to move tax reform and the annual appropriations bills.

Once Republicans vote on a budget resolution for 2018, it will wipe out the special vehicle they plan to use to pass healthcare reform with a simple majority vote — a vehicle that was set up by the budget resolution for 2017.

Lawmakers calculate there are only 45 legislative days until the end of the fiscal year, on Sept. 30.

With the party still sharply divided on healthcare and tax reform, it looks increasingly possible that Republican lawmakers will leave town in July for a monthlong break without any major accomplishments under their belts.
It would be a terrible choice to leave on vacation without making progress on any of these tasks. That's their job; they shouldn't get a summer vacation when they can't get their work done. If the Republicans can't agree to do that, the President should call them back into session.

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If you had had hopes that the Kumbaya spirit immediately after the shooting on GOP congressmen would lead to a new environment in Washington, well, don't hold your breath. The Democrats said all the appropriate things and then soon Nancy Pelosi was jumping in to blame the Republicans.
When Pelosi was asked by a reporter if she believed the coarsening political dialogue was afflicting both sides of the political aisle, Pelosi said no.

“It didn’t use to be this way. Somewhere in the 90s, Republicans decided on a politics of personal destruction as they went after the Clintons, and that is the provenance of it, and that is what has continued,” Pelosi said. Pelosi came to congress 29 years ago, so maybe she just wasn’t paying attention to her party’s treatment of Robert Bork one whole year prior but that somehow doesn’t explain her amnesia of her party’s treatment of Clarence Thomas two years later.
Then leftists on Twitter started attacking Steve Scalise while the guy was in the ICU and undergoing surgery. He was attacked for being a racist and homophobe as some chuckled at the supposed irony that the two Capitol Police who were the heroes who saved the congressmen under attack were both black and one of them, Crystal Griner, is a gay, black woman. Stephen Miller of Heat Street comments,
The point apparently lost on Fusion, Takei and Reid is that Scalise is such a bigoted homophobe that he entrusted his life and security for years to a homosexual black woman, and a black man. Indeed, Scalise’s trust paid off as they both stepped into the line of fire to not only save his life, but the lives of several other GOP congressmen practicing that day, from the actions of a man who was a proud supporter and believer in the same progressive ideals as Reid and Takei.
Guy Benson also comments on this use of identity politics to attack Scalise.
Let's set aside the facts that (a) the two wounded officers -- who both happen to be black -- are members of Scalise's detail and are reportedly close with his family, and (b) holding a traditional, mainstream political views on same-sex marriage does not automatically make someone a "bigot" or a "homophobe." (Also, a newly-resurrected anti-Scalise "white supremacy" is just that: A smear). The proper conclusion to Reid's loaded, "and yet..." clause is as follows: And yet, her race and sexual orientation were irrelevant non-factors as she performed her duty with extraordinary bravery and poise, saving multiple human beings' lives. Period. If anything, Officer Griner's actions represent a powerful statement against identity-based obsession: Distinctions like gender, racial heritage and sexual identity didn't matter at all when a moment of crisis suddenly arrived. What did matter were duty, honor, courage, and humanity. Unfortunately, that wasn't the point Takei and Reid et al were getting at. They were attacking Scalise -- the victim who was still fighting for his life and in critical condition at the time -- over his insufficiently 'woke' political views.

The implication was that it was somehow incongruous or even generous of Ms. Griner to have saved Scalise's life, in spite of his 'retrograde' ideology. This is an ugly strain of victim blaming. It's obviously insulting to the House Majority Whip, whose grievous "sins" include holding a view of marriage that is consistent with his church's teachings, voting to replace a failing healthcare law, and supporting the Second Amendment. (By the way, contra Reid's nasty little bill of indictment embedded in her tweet, there was never any sweeping ban on "semiautomatic weapons" in America). But this framing is also insulting to Griner, suggesting that considerations about her (assumed) politics could conceivably have interfered with her critical work in a life-and-death situation. In their rush to advertise their own surpassing contempt for conservatives, these leftists chose to exploit the work of an LGBT woman of color by clumsily applying their ever-present 'identity' lenses to this situation -- apparently unaware of, or unperturbed by, how their spin might reflect on the two people whose gunshot wounds are still healing. Curiously, despite drawing attention to his race, Ms. Reid seemed far less interested in the motivation of the assailant -- who, as she would surely point out if the shoe were on the other foot, was a big fan of her network.

If this weren't all so execrable, it would be quite sad. These people immediately contemplated the racial and sexual dynamics at play and determined that the available details lent themselves to an escalation of, rather than a rebuke to, identity politics. Fortunately, when the chips were down and lives were on the line, duty and shard humanity transcended all else, including ideology. Thank God Officer Griner evidently held a much healthier perspective on her professional and moral priorities than did the knee-jerk partisans who are callously misappropriating her heroism to advance their own agenda.
CBS's Scott Pelley mused whether the shooting was "to some degree self-inflicted?" Really? Now we're going to blame the victim. Would Pelley have the same attitude toward a rape victim wearing a mini-skirt?

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Finally some waste is being cut. It's amazing that it has taken so long.
Some 17 years after the doomsday Y2K scare about computers crashing when the calendar went from 1999 to 2000, the federal government still requires reports on the impact of the event which passed without a whisper of disaster.

That and 58 other outdated, redundant and unnecessary reporting requirements -- some dating to 1997 -- are among a long list of cuts the Office of Management and Budget targeted for elimination Thursday in a memo President Trump hopes other agencies will use as the model in his "War On Waste," according to OMB Director Mick Mulvaney.

"Everybody knows we do crap like this," he told a media roundtable. "We do a lousy job of clearing out our closets," added the top Trump official in charge of the president's governmental reorganization effort.

Mulvaney issued a "War On Waste Fact Sheet" and 12-page memo today listing the 59 reporting requirements that will end today. One other outdated requirement: Reporting on the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill the Gulf of Mexico.

"It just clogs the operation of government," said Mulvaney of obsolete reporting rules.

Cutting the red tape past administration's have required will save thousands of dollars and eliminate hundreds of hours of staff work, said OMB Senior Advisor Linda Springer. She added that any new reporting requirements set by OMB will include a sunset provision.

The memo was just "phase one" of a stretched out effort by administration to cut costs by reorganizing the government, eliminating wasteful spending and redundant jobs.