by Bradley A. Smith • National Review
Donald Trump’s wayward counsel, Michael Cohen, was sentenced today as part of a plea bargain with the government. As part of that settlement, Cohen has admitted to criminal violations of federal campaign-finance law and has implicated President Trump in those violations. The press is ablaze with headlines trumpeting the president’s possible involvement in two felony campaign-finance violations. The source of these violations are Mr. Cohen’s arranging — allegedly at Trump’s direction — hush-money payments to women alleging long-ago affairs with the 2016 presidential candidate.
The Federal Election Campaign Act holds that an “expenditure” is any “purchase, payment, loan, advance, deposit or gift of money, or anything of value, for the purpose of influencing any election for Federal office.” According to Cohen and the U.S. Attorney, the hush-money payments were, it appears, made in the hopes of preventing information from becoming public before the election, and hence were “for the purpose of influencing” the election. This means that, at a minimum, they had to be reported to the Federal Election Commission; further, if they were authorized by Mr. Trump, they would become, in the law’s parlance, “coordinated expenditures,” subject to limits on the amounts that could be spent. Since the lawful contribution limit is much lower than the payments made, and the payments were not reported, this looks like an open and shut case, right? Continue reading
by Haris Alic • Washington Free Beacon
Democratic Rep. Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) has yet to take the speaker’s gavel of the U.S. House of Representatives, but Democrats are already laboring to make it easier to dismantle the achievements of the Trump presidency.
The incoming chairman of the House Rules Committee, Rep. Jim McGovern (D., Mass.), confirmed to colleagues on Wednesday that he would not honor the three-fifths supermajority requirement to raise income taxes, as reported by the Washington Post.
McGovern’s decision overturns a rule implemented under outgoing Speaker Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) that mandated a three-fifths majority approve any proposed hike to the income tax.
The change comes after a standoff between Pelosi and her moderate allies in the Democratic conference, such as incoming Ways and Means Committee chairman Richard Neal (Mass.), and younger, more progressive members like Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.). Continue reading
By James Altschul • The Federalist
After two days of public outcry, Twitter has reinstated the account of conservative commentator Jesse Kelly. Contradicting their initial message to Kelly, which notified him that his account had been “permanently suspended” and “[would] not be restored,” a Twitter spokesperson stated on Tuesday that Kelly’s account had instead been “temporarily suspended for violating the Twitter rules.” Precisely which rules Kelly violated were not specified.
Given the opacity of the process, we can only speculate on what caused Twitter to reverse course, but a good bet would be the threat of governmental reprisal hinted at by tweets from Sen. Ben Sasse and Senator-elect Josh Hawley.
While Sasse merely commented that “The trend of de-platforming and shutting down speech is a bad precedent for our free speech society,” Hawley was more explicit, writing, “The new Congress needs to investigate…Twitter is exempt from liability as a ‘publisher’ because it is allegedly ‘a forum for a true diversity of political discourse.’ That does not appear to be accurate.” Continue reading
By Victor Davis Hanson • American Greatness
Donald Trump on occasion can talk recklessly. He is certainly trying to “fundamentally transform” the United States in exactly the opposite direction from which Barack Obama promised to do the same sort of massive recalibration. According to polls (such as they are), half the country fears Trump. The media despises him. Yet Trump poses no threat to the U.S. Constitution. Those who since 2016 have tried to destroy his candidacy and then his presidency most certainly do.
When, and if, we ever lose our freedoms, it will not likely be due to a boisterous Donald Trump, damning “fake news” at popular rallies, or even by being greeted with jarring “lock her up” chants—Trump, whom the popular culture loves to hate and whose every gesture and, indeed, every inch of his body, is now analyzed, critiqued, caricatured, and damned on the national news.
In general, free societies more often become unfree with a whimper, not a bang—and usually due to self-righteous pious movements that always claim the higher moral ground, and justify their extreme means by their self-sacrificing struggle for supposedly noble ends of social justice, equality, and fairness. Continue reading
by Jim Geraghty • National Review
Republicans lost a bunch of races on Tuesday that they wanted to win. Since Tuesday night, I haven’t seen any riots. I haven’t seen any violent protests, like the ones that have plagued Portland this year. I haven’t seen any Democratic candidates hung in effigy, the way Marsha Blackburn was in Tennessee earlier this month. I’m sure the “Proud Boys” will pop up again in some form, but they’ve been quiet since the NYPD announced arrest warrants for nine of them after that mid-October brawl.
Democrats, progressives, and liberals won a lot of the races that they wanted to win. And what happened? Did they celebrate with glee and good cheer? Did they relax? Did their anger and rage over the 2016 election dissipate and give way to relief and a more optimistic outlook for the future?
No, apparently some of them just got angrier and more explicit in their threats: Continue reading
By George Will • National Review
If this week has proven anything, it’s that we can always go lower.
When John Keats said that autumn is the season of “mists and mellow fruitfulness,” he did not anticipate this American autumn. It resembles the gorier Shakespearean plays in which swords are brandished, people are poisoned and stabbed, almost everyone behaves badly, and those who do not are thinking: Things cannot continue like this. Actually, they probably will because this is the first law of contemporary politics: There is no such thing as rock bottom.
On Monday, some hysterics in hot pursuit of the often heralded but never reached “constitutional crisis,” galloped off on the basis of rumors about speculations concerning hypotheses, all because Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein went to the White House, perhaps — there was a frisson of anticipation — to be fired. He was not. On Thursday, however, Rosenstein is expected to speak with the president, presumably because of last week’s report that in May 2017, Rosenstein spoke, in the presence of other senior Justice Department officials, about possibly wearing a wire to surreptitiously record the president, presumably to facilitate invoking the 25th Amendment to remove him. Continue reading
By Ilya Feoktistov • The Federalist
Shortly after President Trump’s inauguration, a group of public school history teachers in the posh Boston suburb of Newton pledged to reject the “call for objectivity” in the classroom, bully conservative students for their beliefs, and serve as “liberal propagandist[s]” for the cause of social justice.
This informal pact was made in an exchange of emails among history teachers at Newton North High School, part of a very rich but academically mediocre public school district with an annual budget of $200 million, a median home price of almost half a million, and a median household income of more than $120,000. Read the entire email exchange here.
I obtained the emails under a Massachusetts public records law after one of those teachers arranged, earlier this year, for an anti-Semitic and anti-Israel organization to show Palestinian propaganda films at Newton North. This stunt earned the Newton Public Schools district a rebuke from the New England branch of the Anti-Defamation League and from Boston’s Jewish Community Relations Council. But, as the teachers’ emails reveal, Jew-hatred is not the only specter haunting the history department at Newton North.
The Teachers Conspire to Hide Extreme Prejudice Continue reading
By Mollie Hemingway • The Federalist
On Saturday night, heavily redacted copies of the FBI’s application to wiretap Trump campaign affiliate Carter Page were released. The portion of the 412-page document that was not redacted supported the claims of Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), as well as those made by the majority of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
The senators and the representatives had issued reports alleging that the FBI used an unverified Clinton campaign document to secure a wiretap against an American citizen, that the application for the wiretap used circular reporting and lacked verification for its central claims, and that it made materially false claims related to the source’s credibility.
President Trump tweeted triumphantly and hyperbolically about what the documents showed regarding the FBI’s behavior toward his campaign. Whatever you think about Trump’s reaction to the release of the FISA application, the media reaction to the story was disingenuous and even more hyperbolic than the president’s tweets. After a year of continuous and alarming revelations, the media are still more interested in proving the Trump campaign treasonously colluded with Russia than wrestling with the fact that the FBI spied on a presidential campaign, and used dubious partisan political research to justify their surveillance. Continue reading
Money For Nothin’: Apparently not satisfied with the already disastrous condition of its finances, Chicago this week said it would like to experiment with a universal basic income, a socialist pipe-dream that pops up every few years as a “new” idea. It’s not. And it will never work.
Chicago alderman Ameya Pawar has already proposed legislation that would give 1,000 families $500 a month. The bill looks like a shoo-in, garnering support already from a majority of the Windy City’s lawmakers. Pawar is reportedly already working on the design of the program with Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
Chicago is the largest city yet to toy with this bad idea. There are many things that would help the working poor climb out of poverty. But a universal basic income (UBI), also called a guaranteed government income, isn’t one of them.
Yet, even some Continue reading
By David Harsanyi • The Federalist
The other day Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was in Israel to receive an award for her commitment to tikkun olam (“to heal the world” in Hebrew,) a spiritual concept that progressive Jews have long distorted so that their malleable religious views could better align with leftist orthodoxy. It’s the sort of convenient philosophy that allows traditions to be subsumed by the vagaries of contemporary politics.
So it is with an increasing number of Democrats and the Constitution: a document they seem believe must bend to the will of their policy preferences rather than preserve legal continuity, limited government, individual liberty, or enlightenment ideals.
Sure, some of the anger aimed Donald Trump’s nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court is partisan bluster meant to placate the activist base. Still, most Democrats were going to get hysterical about any pick, because any conservative pick was going to take the Constitution far too literally for their liking. For those who rely on the administrative state and coercion as a policy tool — forcing Continue reading
By Joy Pullman • The Federalist
Thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Janus v. AFSCME that people cannot be forced to pay unions they don’t want to join, the country has gone from 28 right-to-work states to 50 right-to-work states overnight. That includes several high-population, heavily Democratic states with strong unions: New York, Illinois, and California.
Over the last century, union membership has gone from a common thing for people in many industries to in recent decades essentially a creature of government employment.
The vast majority of unionized U.S. employees work in government-dominated industries. So, far from the old image of unions representing the working man who needed extra protections because of dangerous conditions, today unions represent mostly white-collar people, largely an army of Continue reading
By Brian Riedl • Investor’s Business Daily
The 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) remains controversial, with public opinion evenly split and many Democrats campaigning on repeal. However, the Democratic critique of the tax cuts has grown increasingly incoherent.
The party excoriates the “tax cuts for the rich” while trying to tilt them even further to the wealthy. Democrats slam the deficit effect of the tax cuts while working to worsen budget deficits.
In addition, they erroneously describe the law as a “middle-class tax hike” while proposing policies that would truly raise middle-class taxes. Continue reading
By David Harsanyi • The Federalist
If you’re under the impression that the system exists merely to facilitate your partisan agenda, it’s not surprising that you also believe it’s “broken” every time things don’t go your way. This is why so many Democrats argue that we should “fix” the Electoral College when they lose a presidential election and “fix” the filibuster when they run the Senate and now “fix” the Supreme Court when they don’t run the Senate.
During the Obama presidency, liberal pundits groused about the supposed crisis posed by a “dysfunctional” Congress. In political media parlance, “dysfunction” can be roughly translated into “Democrats aren’t able to do as they like.” Congress, as you know, was only “broken” when President Obama wasn’t getting his agenda passed, not when his party was imposing a wholly partisan, unprecedented health-care regime on all Americans.
In any event, the political establishment spent six years wringing its hands about subsequent GOP electoral success, which was an organic political reaction that strengthened separation of powers and reflected the nation’s ideological divisions. Although you’d never know it listening to political coverage, it meant the system was working just fine.
By Gary Abernathy • Washington Post
Since President Trump’s election, journalists, political scientists and others from across the United States and around the world have visited our little southern Ohio town, population 6,600, to study the natives. Naturally, patronizing local eateries at breakfast or lunchtime is usually part of their itinerary.
Some have told me later that, during their interviews, they went out of their way to identify themselves as liberals who have little use for our president. To their credit, they wanted to be honest about who they were and what they were doing. They were sometimes treated with a degree of skepticism, but without fail, they say that people were polite and willing to talk to them — not to mention serve them breakfast or lunch.
We contrast this, of course, with the recent episodes involving Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, both of whom were essentially evicted from restaurants — Continue reading