By Edward Whelan, EPPC - Ethics and Public Policy Center, Defending American Ideals
Published in National Review on January 5, 2018
Donald Trump deserves thunderous acclaim from conservatives for his outstanding record of judicial appointments during his first year as president. But his conspicuous successes should not obscure the many obstacles on the long path to genuine transformation of the federal judiciary. Those obstacles have seriously impeded judicial confirmations and threaten to continue to do so. But if they are cleared or eluded, and if Republicans retain control of the Senate after the 2018 elections, President Trump will be positioned to make a huge enduring impact on the courts during his first term.
Trump’s most important achievement on the judicial front in 2017 was his appointment of Supreme Court justice Neil Gorsuch to fill the vacancy left by Antonin Scalia’s death in February 2016. That appointment consummated Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell’s strategy of keeping the vacancy open through the 2016 presidential election, and it resoundingly vindicated the wisdom of that strategy. Even better, the Senate Democrats’ foolish obstruction of the Gorsuch nomination on the Senate floor drove Senate Republicans to abolish the filibuster (the 60-vote threshold for cloture) for Supreme Court nominations. So, when the next Supreme Court vacancy arises, the White House will have the benefit of knowing from the outset that it needs the support of only 50 senators, together with the tie-breaking vote of Vice President Mike Pence, to secure the confirmation of its nominee.
In 2017, President Trump also appointed twelve federal appellate judges — a record for a president in his first year in office. (President Obama appointed three federal appellate judges in his first year and 55 over his eight years.) Beyond their number, Trump’s appellate appointees have, on the whole, outstanding credentials and are highly regarded in conservative legal circles. Indeed, six of the twelve have already earned their way onto Trump’s list of Supreme Court candidates. The twelve include three women — Amy Coney Barrett, a former Scalia clerk who was a professor of law at Notre Dame; Joan Larsen, also a former Scalia clerk and a Michigan supreme-court justice; and Allison Eid, who clerked for Justice Thomas and served on the Colorado supreme court for eleven years. They also include two Asian Americans, Amul Thapar, a Bush 43 appointee to a federal district-court judgeship, and James Ho, a distinguished appellate lawyer who was also a Thomas clerk. READ MORE
By Lisa Rein and Andrew Ba Tran, Washington Post, December 30, 2017
Nearly a year into his takeover of Washington, President Trump has made a significant down payment on his campaign pledge to shrink the federal bureaucracy, a shift long sought by conservatives that could eventually bring the workforce down to levels not seen in decades.
By the end of September, all Cabinet departments except Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs and Interior had fewer permanent staff than when Trump took office in January — with most shedding many hundreds of employees, according to an analysis of federal personnel data by The Washington Post.
The diminishing federal footprint comes after Trump promised in last year’s campaign to “cut so much your head will spin,” and it reverses a boost in hiring under President Barack Obama. The falloff has been driven by an exodus of civil servants, a diminished corps of political appointees and an effective hiring freeze.
Even though Congress did not pass a new budget in his first year, the drastic spending cuts Trump laid out in the spring — which would slash more than 30 percent of funding at some agencies — also has triggered a spending slowdown, according to officials at multiple departments.
The White House is now warning agencies to brace for even deeper cuts in the 2019 budget it will announce early next year, part of an effort to lower the federal deficit to pay for the new tax law, according to officials briefed on the budgets for their agencies. One possible casualty: a pay raise that federal employees historically have received when the economy is humming. READ it HERE
At White House Event, Trump Praises GOP Lawmakers for Tax Passage, and Gets Their Praise in Return
The bill passage event staged by the White House on the South Lawn was a celebration akin to the last victory lap the administration took -- the Rose Garden ceremony to mark the passage of the ill-fated health-care bill through the House.
On Wednesday, as he did earlier this year, the president was beaming and complimented members of Congress standing all around him. The South Portico of the White House had lawmakers on the steps, as well as a group of particularly prominent Republicans standing immediately by the entrance and flanking the president.
Mr. Trump lavished praise on lawmakers. "What a job, what a job," he said. "It was a lot of fun. It's always fun when you win. If you work hard and lose, that's not acceptable... I want them to come up and get the glamor and the glory."
GOP lawmakers invited to the podium to speak included Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas, Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California, and the Alaska delegation of Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan and Rep. Don Young.
Mr. Trump also gave a special shoutout to House majority whip Steve Scalise, badly wounded in a shooting this year, telling him he had come through a rough year and joking that he had picked a dramatic way to lose weight. Mr. Scalise laughed loudly.
Mr. Hatch, who was acclaimed by the president for his longstanding support, returned the compliment especially vocally, telling Mr. Trump he was "living up to everything I hoped you would be. You're one heck of a leader... We're going to make this the greatest presidency ever." Watch speech HERE
An American president of courage and consequence.
by Jeffrey Lord, American Spectator November 29, 2017
“They love him, gentlemen, and they respect him, not only for himself, but for his character, for his integrity and judgment and iron will; but they love him most for the enemies he has made.”
The words were spoken by Edward Stuyvesant Bragg, a one-time Union general in the Civil War turned-Congressman from Wisconsin. At the 1884 Democratic National Convention, Bragg, then a congressional candidate, was selected to second the nomination of New York Governor Grover Cleveland for president. Cleveland had made his reputation as governor by being a staunch opponent of New York City’s corrupt Tammany Hall political machine, fearlessly taking on members of his own party as he championed reform of state government.
Thus it was that Bragg stepped to the podium of the party’s National Convention and uttered the phrase that would wind up being remembered through the years and be shortened to the last part: “… they love him most for the enemies he has made.”
For that reason alone — and there are many others — The American Spectator’s founder and editor-in-chief R. Emmett Tyrrell, Jr. is pleased to announce that President Donald J. Trump has been chosen as The American Spectator’s Man of the Year.
Without question that long ago description of Grover Cleveland could easily be applied today to President Trump. The list of enemies Trump has made is a who’s who and what’s what of exactly the people, institutions, or issues that millions of Americans have come to detest. Which doesn’t begin to describe the positive policy changes he has brought to an America utterly disgusted with decades of a bipartisan ruling class elitism. From the liberal media to the GOP Establishment to the sacred cows of political correctness and identity politics and more, the President has been absolutely fearless in taking on people or subjects other presidents not to mention GOP Establishment politicians would instinctively avoid.
Only this week he openly mocked Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren’s race-playing game of claiming Native American heritage, once again calling her “Pocahontas.” Even as it caused outrage among the usual suspects, the moment doubtless sent waves of laughter off with Trump supporters fed up with arrogant, race-obsessed liberal elites who are determined eternally to judge others by skin color in a constant drive to use racism as the political fuel of the progressive agenda.
This is an administration that, not yet a year old, has piled up one accomplishment after another. A list compiled by the Conservative Daily News in August was already able to note 40 Trump accomplishments, the first 10 here: READ it HERE
By Mona Charen, National Review Online, November 15, 2017
In 1983, two congressmen, one a Democrat and the other a Republican, were censured by the House. Both had admitted to having affairs with 17-year-old pages. The Republican, Daniel Crane, represented a conservative Illinois district. His constituents sent him packing the following year, despite his apology and request for forgiveness.
The Democrat was Gerry Studds, who represented a liberal Massachusetts district. His relationship had been with a young man. He admitted to a “very serious error in judgment,” but seemed to imply that he was owed more latitude because he was gay. “It is not a simple task for any of us to meet adequately the obligations of either public office or private life, let alone both,” Studds said in an address to the House. “But these challenges are made substantially more complex when one is, as I am, both an elected public official and gay.” He was reelected seven more times and retired voluntarily in 1997.
At the time, conservatives saw the congressmen’s differing fates as symbolic of a difference between the parties. Sure, we conceded, there are bad apples everywhere, but the way they are received tells you something about their constituents. Do they bend the rules when one of their own is caught in a transgression? And how do you define what a transgression really is? READ it HERE
I'm frustrated. I know many of you are too - you've shared it with me. A couple of Senators continue to stifle much of our agenda on the national level as we have a historic opportunity to make bold changes.
That's the reality we face but that doesn't mean we need to accept it. We still have work to finish in 2018. It's that time of year when we need to you to join or renew your membership so that we can get that work done.
Job #1: Return Scott Walker as Governor.
He is the leading Republican Governor in the United States. He defeated state union control of state government, kept property taxes nearly unchanged, and is reforming State Government. We need to continue his leadership in Wisconsin.
Job #2: Change Washington by Strengthening the Republican Senate.
We all know who has hurt the Republican agenda. We can complain or we can take action. This coming year help us defeat Senator Tammy Baldwin, and replace her with a conservative Republican.
Job #3: Boost Our Vote Totals - Dane County Matters.
We cast the 3rd most votes of any Wisconsin county and are the media center for 1,000,000 people in Southcentral and Southwestern Wisconsin. There exists tremendous potential to grow the conservative movement here, continue our Republican state-wide leadership, and bring change in Washington.Read more
Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence officer, in London in March.
By KENNETH P. VOGEL, New York Times OCTOBER 24, 2017
WASHINGTON — The presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee paid for research that was included in a dossier made public in January that contained salacious claims about connections between Donald J. Trump, his associates and Russia.
A spokesperson for a law firm said on Tuesday that it had hired Washington-based researchers last year to gather damaging information about Mr. Trump on numerous subjects — including possible ties to Russia — on behalf of the Clinton campaign and the D.N.C.
The revelation, which emerged from a letter filed in court on Tuesday, is likely to fuel new partisan attacks over federal and congressional investigations into Russia’s attempts to disrupt last year’s election and whether any of Mr. Trump’s associates assisted in the effort.
The president and his allies have argued for months that the investigations are politically motivated. They have challenged the information contained in the dossier, which was compiled by a former British spy who had been contracted by the Washington research firm Fusion GPS.
The letter that was filed in court said that Fusion GPS began working for the law firm, Perkins Coie, in April 2016. Written by the firm’s managing partner Matthew J. Gehringer, the letter said that Fusion GPS had already been conducting the research “for one or more other clients during the Republican primary contest.”
Perkins Coie was paid $12.4 million to represent the Clinton campaign and the D.N.C. during the 2016 campaign, according to filings. The role of the Clinton campaign and the national party in funding the research for the dossier was first reported on Tuesday by The Washington Post.
At the time that Democrats began paying for the research, Mr. Trump was in the process of clinching the Republican presidential nomination, and Ms. Clinton’s allies were scrambling to figure out how to run against a candidate who had already weathered attacks from Republican rivals about his shifting policy positions, his character and his business record. READ it HERE
By M.D. Kittle, MacIver News Service | Oct. 23, 2017
[Madison, Wis...] If you look at the trend lines, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy continues to swing further left, and that could spell bad news for Wisconsin's Republican-written electoral maps.
But the data don't factor in all the "sociological gobbledygook" tied to the Badger State's redistricting case now before the highest court in the land.
Last week, the Association of Wisconsin Lobbyists hosted a panel discussion on the legal battle over Wisconsin's political maps, just days after the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments on the gerrymandering case.
William Whitford, the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit brought by challengers of the redrawn political boundaries crafted by Republicans in 2011, joined Rick Esenberg, president of the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty, for a kind of point-counterpoint discussion.
The moderator, University of Wisconsin-Madison political science professor Ryan Owens, broke down the Kennedy curve, or rather, the so-called "swing vote" justice's slide to the left.
"You see Kennedy trending to the left, which, if you are a conservative, doesn't give you much hope," Owens told the sparse but engaged audience of about 20 people.
Kennedy, legal observers agree, stands to be the deciding vote in the controversial case that aims to answer the question of how much is too much political motivation in redistricting. READ the REST
By M.D. Kittle, MacIver News Service | Oct. 9, 2017
[Madison, Wis...] - José Delgado can still hear the gunshots echoing off the walls in Havana's La Cabana´, the Fortress of St. Charles.
Delgado, an adolescent at the time in his native Cuba, knew what those sounds meant. More enemies of Fidel Castro and his communist government - opponents of oppression - were dead.
"Talk about a chilling memory," Delgado told MacIver News Service in an interview this week. "I was 14, but I was fully aware of the danger my father was in. He would not go along with communism so he was a target."
"I knew a lot of people getting executed."
So it should come as no surprise that intelligent and outspoken boy of post-Revolution Cuba, the boy who boarded a plane for the United States in 1961 not knowing if he would ever see his parents again, would grow up to be a champion for free speech.
On Friday, Delgado once more stood up for the First Amendment of his adopted country. He was one of 17 members of the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents to vote for a measure giving campuses across the state the power to expel students who repeatedly disrupt speakers or attempt to stifle speech.
The vote was near-unanimous. Only Tony Evers, superintendent of the state Department of Public Instruction voted against the rule, asserting it would chill expression.
While Delgado said he respects Evers, the chilling has come from students and faculty members who have demanded "safe spaces" from speech they find offensive. These self-appointed arbiters of what is acceptable expression and what isn't have become increasingly disorderly and violent in pushing their crusade.
The free speech policy comes nearly a year after a crowd of left-wing, "social justice" warriors attempted to shut down a speech by national conservative columnist Ben Shapiro. Student protesters, decrying Shapiro's very presence as racist, stormed the stage and began chanting, "Safety! Safety! Safety," "Shame, Shame, Shame," and other such slogans the "safe space" crowd fancies. READ the REST
Oct. 13, 2017
Today, President Trump was the first sitting U.S. president to speak before Family Research Council’s Values Voter Summit. Evangelical and faith-invested voters are frequently thought to be among Trump’s most loyal supporters. President Trump brought back several of his favorite talking points during his speech before the Value Voters Summit.
“Values voters have waited eight years for a leader who puts America’s mission first and respects the values that made America into a great nation,” said FRC president Tony Perkins in a public statement. “Values voters are coming to our nation’s capital thankful to hear from a president who is fulfilling the promises that he campaigned on.”