Archive for April 7, 2017

Don’t Get Fooled, Trump Is Winning

April 7, 2017

Don’t Get Fooled, Trump Is Winning, Daily Beast, Matt Lewis, April 7, 2016

(From the Daily Pest, generally a far-left rag. — DM)

Kevin Lamarque / Reuters

Most political change is incremental. The greatest trick Donald Trump ever pulled was convincing the world that his presidency was floundering.

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They don’t hold Rose Garden signing ceremonies when a governmental regulation is repealed. But if they did, Donald Trump’s still-nascent presidency would be getting a lot more respect.

While the media focuses on sexy topics—Russian spy intrigue, botched Muslim bans, White House palace intrigue, emerging foreign policy challenges, and the health care bill’s collapse—Team Trump has been quietly rolling back job-killing regulations and appointing a boring (by design), yet highly competent, Supreme Court Justice who almost certainly will be confirmed on Friday.

Despite evidence to the contrary, President Trump is making changes in his first 100 days that will affect America for decades to come.

One of his key weapons has been the Congressional Review Act (CRA), a 1996 law that allows Congress to repeal recent regulations. Before Trump took office, this law had been used just once. Since taking office, however, President Trump has signed 11 of these CRAs into law, effectively reversing several last-minute Obama-era regulations.

The window for using this tactic is closing; the CRA can only be used within 60 days of Congress being informed of a new regulation. But here’s where things have the potential to get very interesting: Once a regulation is repealed, agencies are also banned from issuing new rules that are “substantially similar” to the one that was just vetoed.

Behind the scenes, some shrewd Republicans are quietly toying with the idea of anticipating liberal regulations and preemptively introducing them. It’s like the PreCrime unit in “Minority Report.” A Republican Congress and president would effectively sow the earth with salt to prevent any future regulation from being introduced. It would be a bold gambit, but this would transform the CRA from a purely defensive weapon into an offensive one.

President Trump is also targeting regulations that aren’t susceptible to the CRA. Last week, he signed an executive order to thwart the “Clean Power Plan,” which President Obama’s Environmental Protection Agency unilaterally instituted to curb carbon dioxide emissions (or kill the coal industry—take your pick).

Because this regulation isn’t recent enough to fall victim to the CRA, it will be harder to roll back. There will be court challenges. Nobody said this was going to be easy.

Of course, the most obvious evidence that Trump is changing the future is the Neil Gorsuch nomination. Supreme Court Justices are given a lifetime appointment, so it’s hard to overemphasize the potential impact of confirming a young nominee who shares your worldview. But this could be just the beginning. Rumors swirling about the possibility that Justice Anthony Kennedy might soon announce his retirement serve as a reminder that Trump could dramatically shift the balance of the Supreme Court for decades.

It’s also important to note that there is a link between judicial appointments and regulations. As I noted back in January, Neil Gorsuch has criticized Chevron Deference—an extra-Constitutional principle that says that courts should defer to agencies in terms of their interpretations of statutes. In the future, Republicans hope to move these decisions back into the purview of the legislative branch.

The rap on Trump is that he gets media buzz and attention but doesn’t do the work. But what if the story of his early administration is quite the opposite? While the media has focused on the shiny objects—the scandals and legislative failures—they have all but ignored the fact that the Trump administration has been quietly changing America. Whether by design—or by coincidence—Trump’s gains have been overshadowed by the chaotic, the urgent and the interesting.

In a world that fetishizes positive action and putting points on the board, there’s endless breathless play-by-play for a game where the trash-talking, flashy quarterback is sacked repeatedly. Meanwhile, the real action is taking place under the radar, where the team is assembling an impressive roster of defensive linebackers who can handle blocking and tackling in the trenches for years to come.

Although this stands in sharp contrast to Trump’s action-oriented rhetoric, it doesn’t lessen the fact that, slowly but surely, he is moving the country in a more conservative direction. There’s no telling how many federal judges, never mind Supreme Court Justices, he might appoint. There’s no telling how many bureaucratic regulations he might repeal.

Most political change is incremental. The greatest trick Donald Trump ever pulled was convincing the world that his presidency was floundering.

Mark Steyn: Trump hit a reset button for the world

April 7, 2017

Mark Steyn: Trump hit a reset button for the world, Fox News via YouTube, April 7, 2017

Pentagon: Russia May Have Directly Participated in Syrian Chemical Weapons Attack

April 7, 2017

Pentagon: Russia May Have Directly Participated in Syrian Chemical Weapons Attack, BreitbartJohn Hayward, April 7, 2017

(?????????????????????????????? — DM)

Getty Images

According to CNN, the Pentagon is particularly interested in whether a Russian warplane actually conducted the bombing run on the Khan Sheikhoun hospital where victims were receiving treatment within hours of the attack, “with the aim of destroying evidence.”

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A stunning update on Friday afternoon from the Associated Press said the Pentagon is investigating possible Russian participation in the Syrian regime’s chemical weapons attack.

These officials also supported the dire suspicion that nearby hospitals were attacked to cover up evidence of the WMD deployment:

The officials say Russia has failed to control the Syrian government’s use of chemical weapons.

They say a drone belonging either to Russia or Syria was seen hovering over the site of the chemical weapons attack Tuesday after it happened. The drone returned late in the day as citizens were going to a nearby hospital for treatment. Shortly afterward, officials say the hospital was bombed.

The officials say they believe the hospital attack may have been an effort to cover up evidence of the attack.

The officials weren’t authorized to speak publicly on the matter and demanded anonymity. They say they’re still reviewing evidence.

According to CNN, the Pentagon is particularly interested in whether a Russian warplane actually conducted the bombing run on the Khan Sheikhoun hospital where victims were receiving treatment within hours of the attack, “with the aim of destroying evidence.”

Such an inquiry will not, of course, sit well with Russia, which is currently demanding a U.N. Security Council investigation of American aggression.

There have been conflicting reports about whether any Russian personnel or aircraft, particularly helicopters, were present at the Sharyat airbase. Videos can be found online purporting to show Russian helicopters at the base as recently as February, but Fox News quotes Pentagon briefers stating “no Russian aircraft were at the Sharyat airfield” when the missiles struck.

However, the Fox News report also quotes U.S. officials who said “between 12 and 100 Russian military personnel” were present at the base, complete with their own barracks, which the U.S. “took pains” to avoid blowing up. If the chemical weapons attack on Idlib province was indeed conducted from the base, it would be very difficult for the Russians to argue they were unaware a war crime was in progress under their noses.

Humor | An epidemic of TDS in the Marx Bros. media

April 7, 2017

An epidemic of TDS in the Marx Bros. media, Washington Times

President Donald Trump speaks at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Fla., Thursday, April 6, 2017, after the U.S. fired a barrage of cruise missiles into Syria Thursday night in retaliation for this week’s gruesome chemical weapons attack against civilians. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Just about the time the fever on the nut left seems to be subsiding there’s another outbreak of Trump Derangement Syndrome. Normal-looking folk who sound like they escaped a Marx Bros. movie fall into a relapse.

The bombshell that Susan Rice, Barack Obama’s chief source of intelligence, was guilty of “unmasking” Trump campaigners identified in intelligence findings, unhinged several commentators on the television networks. Colleagues and bystanders couldn’t decide whether to call security or medics.

The Chicken Noodle Network demonstrated why it has fallen on hard times, saying it would not report bad news about its favorite political personalities. “Let us be very clear about this,” said Don Lemon, one of CNN’s star news readers and part-time house dick. “There is no evidence whatsoever that the Trump team was spied on illegally. There is no evidence that backs up the president’s original claim. And on this program tonight, we will not insult your intelligence by pretending otherwise, nor will we aid and abet the people who are trying to misinform you [with] a diversion.” Mr. Lemon’s viewers who want to know would have to go to another channel for another investigator.

At MSNBC, the leading television network on Planet Pluto, Chris Matthews was more than willing to talk about the bombshell but first he had to find someone to help him get a grip. The bug that crawls up his leg when he thinks about Barack Obama was biting again.

When he thought about it, he was sure that the Rice bombshell, with the implication that whatever U.S. intelligence sources had picked up about the Trump campaign had been passed on to the Insurrection, was fake news the new president was pushing to distract attention from the investigations into contacts, if any, between Mr. Trump and the Russians.

“Why is [the president] going after Susan Rice?” he demanded of no one present. “It’s like he pulls out — he’s like an old [disc jockey]. He pulls out old records from 20 years ago and plays them again.”

Then he played video clips from three Republican senators — Rand Paul of Kentucky, Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina — raising questions about Miss Rice’s behavior, and read a tweet from Mike Huckabee speculating about Susan Rice in an orange prison jump suit. Sen. Cotton called her Typhoid Mary, for showing up every time there was a scandal or shame in the Obama administration.

“Oh, God,” cried David Corn, a guest panelist.

“I mean,” said Chris, “Huckabee has no shame. These guys are trooping along, like camp followers of Trump.”

Piped up another guest, one Simon Marks: “They’re looking for a pinata. They found one in Susan Rice. I do think — “

Chris allows no thinking on his show, so he cut him off in midsentence. “Notice it’s a female. Just a thought.” (Only Chris is permitted an occasional random thought.)

“Well, said Simon Marks, trying to get back in the conversation, “that’s true. That’s also true. But I do think she slightly played into her hand — into their hands.

“Typhoid Mary?” asked Chris.

Well, no. Mr. Marks was talking about Susan Rice. Chris does not always pay attention when someone else is talking. He interrupted again.

Susan Rice’s job is to watch national security,” Chris said, apparently unaware that Susan Rice hasn’t had that job since America changed presidents. There’s not only a new president, but a new adviser with the job of “watching national security.”

But then Chris wanted to talk about the movies. He suggested that Susan Rice, or maybe it was Tom Cotton or Mike Huckabee, he wasn’t sure, had been living in the Bates Motel, with a deranged killer from the famous Alfred Hitchcock movie “Psycho.” Chris watches a lot of movies and sometimes has trouble keeping the characters straight.

Then it was off for a history lesson. The Trump family, particularly First Daughter Ivanka Trump Kushner, reminds him of the Romanovs, the Imperial Russian family slain by revolutionaries in 1917. Trump Derangement Syndrome apparently encourages fantasies about assassinations. A columnist for The Washington Post seemed to observe not long ago that assassinations often put an end to unhappy eras.

Treating Trump Derangement Syndrome is not easy. Dr. Quackenbush, the celebrated physician would tell you that we must be patient, because there will be episodes of intense derangement, and then the affliction subsides, only to flare again. The confirmation this week of Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court is likely to unhinge Chris, David and Don again.

Dr. Quackenbush, who achieved celluloid immortality in the Marx Brothers movie “A Day at the Races,” was trained to doctor horses, and he would know which end of Chris and the guys to examine. If only he were here.

Trump Readies Executive Order To Open The Arctic, Atlantic Oceans To Drilling

April 7, 2017

Trump Readies Executive Order To Open The Arctic, Atlantic Oceans To Drilling,  Daily Caller, Michael Bastasch, April 7, 2017

(What will OPEC say? — DM)

Offshore oil rig drilling platform. (Credit: Kanok Sulaiman/Shutterstock)

The Trump administration is developing an order to open new areas to offshore oil and gas drilling, reversing former President Barack Obama’s unilateral decision to lock up most of the Arctic and Atlantic oceans, according to industry sources.

Industry sources familiar with the matter told Platts an executive order is in the works to rewind Obama’s decision to make large swaths of the Arctic and Atlantic off-limits to oil and gas drilling.

Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke told industry representatives the new drilling plan would be signed soon, according to Bloomberg. However, he gave few details on what the order could include.

The Department of the Interior’s (DOI) new five-year offshore drilling plan could take years to develop and would replace the Obama administration’s five-year plan finalized in November.

President Donald Trump promised to end Obama-era restrictions on energy production in order to unlock revenue from natural resources and create jobs. DOI raised $275 million in bids in a recent lease auction for the Gulf of Mexico.

Trump is expected to sign the order by the end of April, and it’s sure to draw legal challenges from environmentalists who’ve argued Obama’s indefinite ban on Arctic and Atlantic drilling can’t be overturned.

Obama used Section 12(a) of the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, a 1953 law governing offshore drilling, in an unprecedented way, blocking leases in the Atlantic Ocean and the Chukchi and Beaufort seas.

Obama’s order took 125 million acres in Arctic seas and four million acres in the Atlantic Ocean out of future lease sales indefinitely. Supporters said the former president’s actions “permanently” banned drilling in those regions.

But the drilling ban is only permanent if Congress doesn’t change the law or Trump doesn’t move to test it in court. Past presidents have reduced the size of Section 12(a) designations but never fully repealed them.

The U.S.-held portion of the Arctic Ocean is estimated to hold 27 billion barrels of oil and 132 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. The oil and gas industry has struggled to access these vast energy reserves but new discoveries in northern Alaska have reinvigorated some interest in the region.

 

Syrian-American Reformer Commends Syria Strikes, Urges Vigilance

April 7, 2017

Syrian-American Reformer Commends Syria Strikes, Urges Vigilance, American Islamic Forum for Democracy, April 7, 2017

By reducing a dictator’s capacity to kill, we have a chance of re-establishing America’s position in the world as a moral authority, and we can begin again to re-commit ourselves to the sacred commitment of ‘never again,’ something Barack Obama failed to do.”

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The American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD) welcomes the news of targeted strikes in Syria, meant to send a message to Bashar al-Assad and his allies that the use of chemical weapons will not stand. Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser, the son of Syrians who fled the regime of Bashar al-Assad’s father, today said:

“When news broke that the United States had begun a narrow campaign of targeted strikes against regime targets in Syria, I felt immediate gratitude – on behalf of my family members there, and for our country, which has watched in horror for six long years as the Assad regime has carried out mass torture and murder of its civilians. While I am hopeful that these strikes are indicative of a bolder, firm Syria strategy – I am under no illusion that they will end Assad’s murderous rule, or that any transition in Syria will happen swiftly or easily. In many ways, we who have loved ones in Syria, and we who care about the human condition – are taking what we can get here – with hope that there will be more, even bolder action in Syria. What this action by President Trump does indicate is that the needle of American policy in Syria is moving closer to being on the right side of history. To secure our place there, however, we must remain vigilant, remembering that a conflict with Assad is necessarily a conflict with Russia, with Iran, and with Hizbollah. These limited, targeted strikes should continue, focused on reducing Assad’s access to resources, especially weapons. Every reduction in his assets is a reduction in his capacity to murder and maim civilians. By reducing a dictator’s capacity to kill, we have a chance of re-establishing America’s position in the world as a moral authority, and we can begin again to re-commit ourselves to the sacred commitment of ‘never again,’ something Barack Obama failed to do.”

Senate confirms Gorsuch to Supreme Court

April 7, 2017

Senate confirms Gorsuch to Supreme Court, Washington Examiner, Ruan Lovelace, April 7, 2017

His swearing-in ceremony is expected to be held Monday.

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The Senate confirmed Judge Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday.

The Republican majority was joined in the 54-45 vote by a few Democrats in confirming the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals judge to the high court. Gorsuch’s success comes after the Senate killed the filibuster for Supreme Court nominations on Thursday, effectively paving the way for Gorsuch to join the high court. After the Democratic minority mounted a successful partisan filibuster of Gorsuch, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell deployed the “nuclear option” to lower the vote threshold necessary to confirm Gorsuch from 60 to 51 votes. Gorsuch cleared that threshold Friday morning.

“The Supreme Court to me is a sacred institution,” Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, a Republican member of the Senate Judiciary Committee who supported Gorsuch, said Friday. “We’ve had great Democratic justices. We’ve had great Republican justices. … Neil Gorsuch, I have every confidence, will be one of the all-time great justices for that court.”

Gorsuch, a Colorado native, is expected to be seated on the Supreme Court before oral arguments resume later this month. The newest justice is a self-identified originalist, a judicial philosophy popularized by the late Justice Antonin Scalia whose seat Gorsuch will fill. His addition to the high court is expected to restore the status quo that existed with Scalia on the bench in many cases with few anticipated deviations.

Conservative legal scholars cheering Gorsuch’s nomination have long cited his writing and record on the separation of powers and religious liberty issues as evidence that he may help move the court in their direction. As a former Supreme Court clerk to Justice Anthony Kennedy, conservatives also have expressed optimism that he can build new coalitions with Kennedy to push the high court’s frequent swing vote to the right.

Friday’s victory for Gorsuch gives a win to President Trump and the outside conservative groups who have worked for months to ensure Gorsuch’s confirmation. The judge’s confirmation team included the White House counsel’s office, McConnell’s office, the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the Republican National Committee and outside conservative groups such as the Judicial Crisis Network and America Rising. Former New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte and Gorsuch’s former law clerks also assisted.

Democrats’ objection to Gorsuch largely focused on Republicans’ blockade of Judge Merrick Garland’s nomination by former President Barack Obama to fill the same seat. The Senate Democrats who took issue with Gorsuch himself focused on his performance during Senate Judiciary Committee hearings, particularly his reluctance to answer questions involving cases and controversies that could come before him on the high court.

Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Minority Whip Dick Durbin hammered Gorsuch repeatedly as a friend of the wealthy and foe of the “little guy,” and cited the “frozen trucker” case as an example where they believe harm came as a result of Gorsuch’s rulings. Durbin spoke ahead of Friday’s vote and criticized Gorsuch as a nominee handpicked by conservative activists.

“Where did the name Neil Gorsuch come from?” Durbin said. “He was the choice of the Federalist Society and Heritage Foundation. If you know these two groups, you know they’re Republican advocacy groups.”

The Judicial Crisis Network launched a $10 million campaign for Gorsuch with partners such as America Rising and Tea Party Patriots to mobilize conservative grass-roots supporters and pressure Senate Democrats to confirm Gorsuch.

“Congratulations to Judge Gorsuch on his confirmation, and to President Trump and [Senate Majority] Leader McConnell on this extraordinary achievement,” said Carrie Severino, Judicial Crisis Network chief counsel and policy director “Because of their leadership, and because of Judge Gorsuch’s commitment to judicial independence and the rule of law, Justice Scalia’s legacy will continue on the Supreme Court.”

Leonard Leo, an adviser to Trump for the Supreme Court nominaton, said that Gorsuch brings the nation “one step closer to seeing the preservation of [Scalia’s] legacy on the court.”

“Throughout his career, Judge Gorsuch has demonstrated his commitment to judicial independence and to deciding cases according to the law instead of political preferences. I applaud President Trump for choosing such an outstanding nominee, and Leader McConnell and his colleagues for defeating an unprecedented partisan filibuster.”

Gorsuch, whose Senate Judiciary Committee nomination hearings lasted more than 20 hours, has been largely mum on the political process leading to his confirmation. Gorsuch said during the hearings there was “a great deal about the process I regret,” including putting his family through it. During his remarks on the night of his nomination Gorsuch, pledged to “do all my powers permit to be a faithful servant of the Constitution and laws of this great country.”

His swearing-in ceremony is expected to be held Monday.