Dems force “nuclear option” and Gorsuch is confirmed

Operation_Upshot-Knothole_-_Badger_001 (1)The Democrats invoked their filibuster privilege to block the vote to confirm Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.  So the Republicans used the so-called “nuclear option.”  They changed the rules to eliminate the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees.  The Democrats, under a previous administration, themselves went nuclear to eliminate the filibuster for other presidential nominations.

Now the Senate cannot block any presidential appointments.  But the Democrats can feel good about themselves.  (“Take that, Republicans!  I guess we showed you, Donald Trump!”)  Even though the gesture significantly weakens their power in the Senate.

UPDATE:  The Senate has confirmed Judge Gorsuch for the Supreme Court. [Read more…]

The Trump campaign surveillance and unmasking

Susan_Rice,_official_State_Dept_photo_portrait,_2009It turns out the Trump campaign was under surveillance.  This was reportedly in connection with the surveillance of Russians that our intelligence agencies wanted to keep an eye on.  In the course of that operation, so it is said, various individuals connected to Donald Trump were also recorded.  The protocol, when that happens, is for the names of the individuals recorded but not under investigation to be blacked out from the intelligence reports, their names changed to “Person A,” “Person B,” etc. If there is a need for the investigating authorities to know who these people are, there is a process for “unmasking” them.  (Read what “unmasking” entails.)

It turns out that the Obama administration initiated the unmasking of those names, then widely circulating those reports, thus implicating Trump staffers in a Russian connection that might have been innocent.  (This may explain how the information came out–that is, was leaked–about Michael Flynn’s meeting with the Russian ambassador, something even Democrats routinely have done.)  We now know that Obama advisor Susan Rice initiated the unmasking.  As Andrew McCarthy points out, “the thing to bear in mind is that the White House does not do investigations. Not criminal investigations, not intelligence investigations.”  Only three agencies do those:  the FBI, the CIA, and the NSA.

Understand: There would have been no intelligence need for Susan Rice to ask for identities to be unmasked. If there had been a real need to reveal the identities — an intelligence need based on American interests — the unmasking would have been done by the investigating agencies. The national-security adviser is not an investigator. She is a White House staffer. The president’s staff is a consumer of intelligence, not a generator or collector of it. If Susan Rice was unmasking Americans, it was not to fulfill an intelligence need based on American interests; it was to fulfill a political desire based on Democratic-party interests.

So all of this amounts to using White House power against a political opponent.   [Read more…]

Trump demotes the hardline Steve Bannon

Steve_Bannon_(32319621483)President Trump removed senior advisor Steve Bannon from the National Security Council.   Membership is usually reserved for high-level military officers, intelligence experts, and cabinet members, so the appointment of  Bannon, the former editor of Breitbart News, had been controversial.

Bannon has been associated, perhaps unfairly, with the alt.right and has been a target of criticism for his allegedly extremist views.

The president’s action in removing Bannon is said to have resulted from a feud among his advisors and may be part of a larger staff shakeup.

Bannon was replaced on the NSC  by Rick Perry, the former Texas governor and presidential candidate who is now Secretary of Energy, the department that has charge of the nuclear arsenal.  Also the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Director of National Intelligence were put back on the committee. UPDATE:  Also UN secretary Nikki Haley.

Said one former staffer, Banner “is an ideologue.  Trump is not.”

Do you find this apparent demotion of Bannon to be encouraging, a sign that President Trump is becoming more presidential and is moderating his views?  Or discouraging, a sign that President Trump is compromising his principles and embracing the political establishment

[Read more…]

Democrats will filibuster away their power

Claude_Rains_and_James_Stewart_in_Mr._Smith_Goes_to_Washington_(1939)The Senate Judiciary Committee voted to recommend Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court, so Democrats are planning to filibuster.  This will trigger the “nuclear option” of Republicans voting to change the rules to eliminate the filibuster when it comes to nominations like this.

Thus the Democrats will “make a statement” that will diminish their ability to stop nominations!  This is an example of the “virtue signalling” that has become part of our culture.  The purpose is apparently for the liberal Senators to show how “virtuous” they are to their liberal base.  But the gesture will just make them even more ineffectual.

In the meantime, as Democrats demonize the distinguished Judge Gorsuch, who models the ideal judicial temperament, Oklahoma Sen. James Lankford raises some questions. From an editorial in the Daily Oklahoman:

In a recent floor speech, Sen. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma City, deftly demonstrated that opposition has nothing to do with Gorsuch’s qualifications. When Gorsuch was confirmed to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in 2006, Lankford noted, support was unanimous. “He was seen as a consistent, solid, mainstream, fair judge, which means Senator Joe Biden voted for him, Hillary Clinton voted for him, Chuck Schumer voted for him, Barack Obama voted for him in 2006,” Lankford said. He argued there’s nothing to suggest Gorsuch has “left the mainstream” since that 2006 vote, noting the judge’s opinions have drawn fewer dissents than any other judge on the 10th Circuit. It says much about Democrats’ extreme partisanship that they must now tacitly suggest their most prominent liberal leaders are clueless in order to oppose Gorsuch.

After the jump, an article on the Gorsuch situation and an explanation of the filibuster and its history.

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National debt will double in 30 years

debt-1500774_640The Congressional Budget Office released figures that project the national debt to double by 2047.

That would take it from the existing 75% of the Gross Domestic Product, which is bad enough, to 150% of the GDP, which is unthinkable.

I know!  Let’s cut taxes and increase spending!

 

Illustration by Rilsonav, “Debt,” Pixabay, Creative Commons.

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Trump vows to fight conservative lawmakers in next election

RINOPresident Trump, frustrated at the conservative Congressmen who thwarted his health care bill, vowed to “fight them” in the midterm elections.

This is taken to mean that he will encourage primary opponents to run against them.  That would presumably mean finding moderate Republicans–the sort that supported Paul Ryan’s health care plan–to run in hard-core Republican districts.

But what the political climate might be in 2018, when the midterm elections will be held, isn’t clear.  Trump might need those conservatives, since moderates are unlikely to support him in the long run.

Conservatives put Trump in office.  Do you think he needs to accomplish something conservative in order to keep their allegiance?  Or will his grassroots supporters stay with him no matter what, even if he tacks to the moderate side?

Which faction of the Republican party are the RINOs (“Republican In Name Only”)?

Illustration of RINO by Spartan7W [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

[Read more…]