by David French June 8, 2017 National Review Online
The narrative that the Trump team colluded with Russia took a hit, but the claim that Trump abused his power in firing Comey got a boost.
There is much to unpack in former FBI director James Comey’s almost three hours of live testimony today, but my summary is rather simple. The “big” conspiracy theory that’s circulating online — that Trump and his team colluded with the Russians, and Trump fired Comey because he was getting close to the truth — took some serious body blows. The smaller scandal (compared to active collusion with the Russians) — that Trump either abused his power or potentially obstructed justice when he fired James Comey — got a modest boost.
At the same time, there’s still an enormous amount of information that we simply don’t have. Let’s break this down. First, and this is critically important given the concerns about Russian collusion, Comey emphatically disputed a New York Times story that has served as the foundation for an enormous amount of public speculation of improper conduct.
That story began: Phone records and intercepted calls show that members of Donald J. Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and other Trump associates had repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials in the year before the election, according to four current and former American officials. Obviously, if true, the report is deeply alarming. But today Comey said, under oath, that the story was “almost entirely wrong.” We still don’t know the nature and extent of Trump team communications with Russia, but the Times report was an important part of the worst conspiracy narratives, and now it’s relegated to the ash heap. READ it HERE
By M.D. Kittle and Ola Lisowski MacIver News Service | June 2, 2017
Statewide property taxes would go down - $10 - but lower-spending districts would be allowed to raise property taxes by $92 million
June 5, 2017: This story has been updated with reactions from Gov. Walker and legislators.
[Madison, Wis...] Assembly Republicans are pushing a K-12 funding plan that cuts Gov. Scott Walker's state education spending proposal by more than $100 million, raising property taxes slightly compared to the governor's budget and cutting spending to private school choice to get there, according to legislative documents obtained by MacIver News Service.
At a press conference in Fitchburg, Walker said Monday he was concerned that the proposal could raise property taxes.
"Bottom line is, I don't want to see property taxes go up."
Walker's education spending plan proposes a $648 million increase over the next biennium, which delighted the public education establishment.
The GOP Assembly plan still significantly increases K-12 spending, just not as much as Walker's generous proposal. Some fiscal hawks in the Legislature have voiced concerns about the governor's generosity to a public education system marked by widespread failure in Milwaukee and other areas of the state. More so, the Assembly proposal frees up $100 million that could - and most likely will - find its way into other priorities, particularly the state's troubled Department of Transportation.
The Madison Lawyers Chapter presents:
The Future of Judicial Nominations under President Trump
featuring Ilya Shapiro, Cato Institute
Wednesday, June 21 Lunch Begins at 11:30
Program begins at noon.
5 East Wilson Street
$15 Federalist Society Member
$20 Non-Federalist Society Member Please Complete the RSVP Form
About our special guest:
Ilya Shapiro is a senior fellow in constitutional studies at the Cato Institute and editor-in-chief of the Cato Supreme Court Review. Before joining Cato, he was a special assistant/adviser to the Multi-National Force in Iraq on rule-of-law issues and practiced at Patton Boggs and Cleary Gottlieb. Shapiro is the co-author of Religious Liberties for Corporations? Hobby Lobby, the Affordable Care Act, and the Constitution (2014). He holds an AB from Princeton University, an MSc from the London School of Economics, and a JD from the University of Chicago Law School (where he became a Tony Patiño Fellow).
If we want to deal seriously with terrorism, we must confront the factors that allow it to operate.
By Lamont Colucci | U.S. News & World Report June 5, 2017
Lamont Colucci is associate professor of politics at Ripon College
Another attack in London; Europe descends into continuous chaos caused by Islamic terrorism. The media wrings their hands with declarations of deplorability, as the mayor of London assures his citizens that London is "one of the safest global cities in the world." Counterterrorism experts obsess over whether the terrorists were "lone wolves" or "known wolves," part of a cell, part of a terror franchise, had links to this or that website, traveled to (fill-in-the-blank country in the Middle East or South Asia) and whether they were "homegrown" or imported.
One would think that after 45 years (assuming we use the Black September attack in Munich as a beginning point), that the West would, unlike the mayor of London, take terrorism seriously. This seriousness has nothing to do with what the counterterrorism experts obsess over. They are too invested in the building that is on fire now and not about the entire city structure, let alone the strategic, historic or future implications.
This is no condemnation of their efforts; it is merely an understanding that our preoccupation with counterterror tactics, legal interrogation frameworks, radicalization monitoring and even grief counseling do not address the fundamental problem. Like so much that has been missing in western and American foreign policy, it is an underlying lack of understanding of geopolitics and grand strategy.
Terrorism, like any movement, requires oxygen: ammunition, training, inspiration, technique and experience. Where does terrorism get this from? There are two answers, and these two answers have been the same since that Munich attack: rogue states and failed states. From the late 1970s, the list has been semi-permanent: Iran, Syria, Libya (from rogue to failed state) are the old guard. The withered members were the North Koreans (down to attacking its own), Iraq (regime changed by the U.S.) and the Soviets. The newest additions are primarily failed or failing states: Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan, Sudan, Afghanistan and Nigeria. According to the Global Terrorism Index, four terrorist groups were responsible for 74 percent of all deaths in 2015: the Islamic State group, al-Qaida, Boko Haram and the Taliban. All of these are proponents of an extremist Sunni ideology and emanate out of failed or failing states. Further, terrorist groups receive haven, logistics, training and supplies from rogue states. South Asia, Africa and the Middle East account for 84 percent of terrorist attacks and 95 percent of terrorism deaths. READ the REST HERE
Lamont Colucci Opinion Contributor
Lamont Colucci is associate professor of politics at Ripon College, a former Fulbright scholar to the Diplomatic Academy of Vienna and author of "The National Security Doctrines of the American Presidency: How they Shape our Present and Future," among other books. You can find out more at lamontcolucci.com
by Robert Rector, The Heritage Foundation / May 25, 2017 / The Daily Signal
Research shows overwhelming bipartisan support for work requirements in welfare policy.
Robert Rector, a leading authority on poverty, welfare programs and immigration in America for three decades, is The Heritage Foundation’s senior research fellow in domestic policy.
President Donald Trump’s newly released budget contains a proposed food stamp reform, which the left has denounced as a “horror” that arbitrarily cuts food stamp benefits by 25 percent.
These claims are misleading.
In reality, the president’s proposed policy is based on two principles: requiring able-bodied adult recipients to work or prepare for work in exchange for benefits, and restoring minimal fiscal responsibility to state governments for the welfare programs they operate.
The president’s budget reasserts the basic concept that welfare should not be a one-way handout. Welfare should, instead, be based on reciprocal obligations between recipients and taxpayers.
Government should definitely support those who need assistance, but should expect recipients to engage in constructive activity in exchange for that assistance.
Under the Trump reform, recipients who cannot immediately find a job would be expected to engage in “work activation,” including supervised job searching, training, and community service.
This idea of a quid pro quo between welfare recipients and society has nearly universal support among the public.
Nearly 90 percent of the public agree that “able-bodied adults that receive cash, food, housing, and medical assistance should be required to work or prepare for work as a condition of receiving those government benefits.”
The outcomes were nearly identical across party lines, with 87 percent of Democrats and 94 percent of Republicans agreeing with this statement. Establishing work requirements in welfare was the core principle of the welfare reform law enacted in the mid-1990s. That reform led to record drops in welfare dependence and child poverty. Employment among single mothers surged.
Despite the harsh impact of the Great Recession, much of the poverty reduction generated by welfare reform remains in effect to this day.
Would prevent future bans similar to one attempted under Obama administration
BY: Stephen Gutowski Washington Free Beacon June 1, 2017
Representative Rob Bishop (R., Utah) introduced a bill last Wednesday that would prohibit the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) from unilaterally reclassifying ammunition.
The Lawful Purpose and Self-Defense Act would remove the ATF's discretion in classifying certain ammunition as "armor piercing." Instead of relying on the ATF or attorney general's judgment on which "armor piercing" rounds should be given a "sporting purpose" exception, the bill would rely on the manufacturer's design and intent. Rep. Bishop said his intention is to prevent gray areas in the law from being used to push new gun control.
"The Founding Fathers were clear when they drafted the Bill of Rights," Rep. Bishop said in a statement. "The 2nd Amendment is about security and self-defense. Vagaries in today's legal code pose a real threat to the right to keep and bear arms. The Obama administration exploited this ambiguity to forward its agenda of restriction. It's time to ensure no future administration tramples on these freedoms guaranteed by our Constitution." READ it HERE
By MI President Brett Healy | June 2, 2017 McIver Institute
[Madison, Wis...] President Trump announced Thursday that he would withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Accords, a decision applauded and celebrated by the MacIver Institute.
In reaction to the President's decision to pull the plug on Paris, MacIver Institute President Brett Healy issued the following statement:
"President Trump's decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Accords is welcome news. His decision corrects one of the Obama administration's many terrible actions that endangered our economy, bypassed Congress, and ignored the will of the American people.
Obama's Costly Power Plan, an attempt to carry out the promises made in Paris, would have devastating economic consequences. In Wisconsin alone, the plan would cost nearly 21,000 jobs and result in a $1.82 billion drop in our disposable income over the next 15 years, according to a 2015 study by the MacIver Institute and Beacon Hill Institute at Suffolk University.
"Obama's draconian CO2 reduction agenda couldn't even pass Congress when both chambers were controlled by Democrats. That's why he completely bypassed the U.S. Senate to ensnare the American people in the agreement. Worse, to implement his job-killing 'Costly Power Plan' agenda, Obama turned to unelected bureaucrats at the EPA. READ it HERE
Green energy CEO bailing on Trump advisory committee
BY: Susan Crabtree Washington Free Beacon June 2, 2017
Tesla CEO Elon Musk's decision to quit serving as a business adviser to President Trump because of Trump's exit from the Paris climate accord is spurring additional scrutiny of the billions of dollars in tax subsidies Tesla, SolarCity, and other Musk companies have received over the last decade.
The Heritage Foundation's Stephen Moore called the "green-energy" tax credits Musk and his companies have benefited from "low-hanging" fruit that could help Republicans offset plans to lower the corporate rate, estimating there could be $150 billion in savings over 10 years by ending them.
"We're scrounging for offsets so those credits and subsidies are the low-hanging fruit," he told the Washington Free Beacon Friday.
Moore said Trump's decision to leave the Paris Agreement is a sign of the changing times with Republicans in control of the White House and Congress, and that Musk is simply reacting to the less hospitable political environment.
Why do judges wear black robes? It’s a question few judges today seem to be asking themselves.
It certainly appears not to have troubled the mind of Chief Judge Roger Gregory of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals who, it seems, must instead be a student of Jorge Luis Borges. A couple of days ago, Judge Gregory, writing for the majority, upheld a lower court’s decision against President Trump’s revised Executive Order imposing a temporary travel ban from a handful of countries identified as hotbeds of terrorist activity. As Byron York points out, the decision broke 10 to 3 along partisan lines: the 10 judges who decided against the travel ban were appointed by Presidents Clinton or Obama, the 3 judges who supported the ban were appointed by one of the Bushes.
The rank partisanship on display is as disgusting as it is worrisome: a partisan judiciary is not a judicious judiciary. It is, on the contrary, a judiciary that dispenses its decisions based not on what you have done or left undone but on who you are. It is a government of men, not laws.
But the most extraordinary thing about the majority decision is not its partisanship but the personal nature of the opinion it expresses. It applies to Donald Trump and to Donald Trump only. As York notes,
The majority’s decision, as laid out by Gregory, suggests a mind-bending possibility: If the Trump executive order, every single word of it, were issued by another president who had not made such statements on the campaign trail, the court would find it constitutional.
This is where Borges comes in. In “Pierre Menard, Author of Don Quixote,” Borges celebrates the stupendous labor of a man who endeavored to produce a book that would be identical—”word for word and line for line”— to Cervantes’ great novel. Menard never managed more than a fragment. But Borges is surely right that though “the text of Cervantes and that of Menard are verbally identical,” the works are in fact very different. For one thing, what was written in the seventeenth century by a Catholic ex-soldier is of necessity very different from what was written in the twentieth century by a cosmopolitan, world-weary intellectual. Their different personal histories infuse their words with very different assumptions. Then there is the matter of style. “The archaic style of Menard . . . suffers from a certain affectation. Not so that of his precursor, who handles easily the ordinary Spanish of his time.” Borges spins an amusing and thought provoking epistemological tale with this fiction.
Until yesterday, I hadn’t appreciated its application to the workings of the judiciary. Judge Gregory enlightened me about that. In his opinion for the court, Judge Gregory charges that although the travel ban invokes national security, “in context” it “drips with religious intolerance, animus, and discrimination.”