Mid-Day Digest

Mar. 23, 2017

IN TODAY’S EDITION

  • While attention is on today’s House ObamaCare vote, Senate rules are critical.
  • Senate Dems can’t find dirt on Gorsuch, so they ponder delaying him over … Russia.
  • James Comey’s wiretapping testimony left a lot to be desired.
  • Daily Features: Top Headlines, Cartoons, Columnists and Short Cuts.

THE FOUNDATION

“[T]he true key for the construction of everything doubtful in a law is the intention of the law-makers.” —Thomas Jefferson (1808)

TOP RIGHT HOOKS

Shutting Off Spigot Won’t Clean Up ObamaCare Mess

As the House is set to vote Thursday on the GOP’s American Health Care Act, its replacement for ObamaCare, much attention has been focused on the options available for Senate Republicans to engage in repealing and replacing the law. Due to Senate reconciliation rules, full repeal of a law requires a 60-vote super majority, and with the Republicans majority sitting at 52 seats and Democrats united in their opposition to repeal, it may appear an impossible task. But that’s not entirely accurate.

Ironically, the Supreme Court’s 2012 ruling upholding the Affordable Care Act mandate — in which John Roberts rewrote the law so as to make the mandate a tax — may also prove to be the Achilles heel which Republicans can exploit. Since the Supreme Court found all the regulations of the ACA to be an “intertwined,” “interlocking” system designed to function together and not separately, and that these regulations “would not work” without each other, if one aspect of the mechanism were to be compromised the whole thing would essentially shut down. And one of the critical elements to the functionality of ObamaCare is federal spending.

In other words, Republicans could vote to end funding of federal subsidies for health insurance, thereby essentially turning off the “power switch.” The vote being one on eliminating spending, and not repealing the law, would only require a simple majority to pass. It technically is not a repeal of ObamaCare, but a shutting down of the program, thus avoiding any concerns over Senate reconciliation rules.

However, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, along with a majority of Senate Republicans, recognize that simply repealing ACA alone doesn’t solve the problem. ObamaCare created a Demo time bomb that isn’t diffused easily. The big problem is that a free market health care system hasn’t existed since 2009. ObamaCare effectively killed it. And a new fair and properly regulated health insurance market won’t simply pop into existence overnight. This is why Republicans have struggled so mightily in working toward a replacement plan.

The House Republicans’ AHCA wasn’t hastily cobbled together in the dark of the night. In reality, it reflects the work Republicans have been engaged in for years as they have fought to both repeal and replace ObamaCare. The aim of the legislation is to develop a federalist-based, free-market and patient-centered system as opposed to ObamaCare’s centralized, bureaucrat-oriented, authoritarian, free-market-killing, socialized program.

Will the GOP plan be perfect? By no means, but it certainly stops and works to reverse the ObamaCare-created death spiral into which America’s health care system is collapsing.

Comment | Share

Dems to Filibuster Gorsuch

Despite Judge Neil Gorsuch’s stellar performance at this week’s confirmation hearings, anxious Democrat obstructionists are pulling out all the stops in a futile effort to spoil his confirmation. Part of the reason revolves around bitterness over Merrick Garland (Barack Obama’s flunked nominee). But the biggest reason has to do with Gorsuch’s originalist jurisprudence, which is antithetical to the ideology espoused by “living constitutionalists” on the Left.

No one has worked harder to politicize the hearings than Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, a career judicial saboteur whom the Washington Examiner correctly opines is “the best reminder that we need more judges like Gorsuch.” Schumer announced that he will lead a filibuster of Gorsuch, because he “was unable to sufficiently convince me that he’d be an independent check” on Donald Trump. That’s after Schumer floated the idea of ensnaring Gorsuch in the Left’s “Russia hacked the election” narrative. According to Schumer, “It is unseemly to be moving forward so fast on confirming a Supreme Court justice with a lifetime appointment while this big gray cloud of an FBI investigation hangs over the presidency.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren is echoing this ploy: “Neil Gorsuch is up for a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court from a President whose campaign is under FBI investigation.” Yet you have to wonder who’s really calling the shots. Democrat leaders are taking orders — or at least taking cues — from radical organizations like NARAL Pro-Choice America, whose president, Ilyse Hogue, is urging that lawmakers “delay hearings on Neil Gorsuch’s nomination while the president is under an active FBI investigation. Short of that, Senate Democrats must filibuster this nomination.” The organization previously joined 54 others in cosigning a March 14 Senate letter that states, “We implore senators to do everything necessary to block this nomination.”

Memo to Republicans: Don’t fall for it. Don’t even think about delaying the confirmation vote. Democrats will play politics with whomever is nominated. Don’t let abortion advocates dictate who will replace Justice Antonin Scalia. This week, Sen. Dianne Feinstein lectured Gorsuch by absurdly asserting Roe v. Wade established a “super precedent.” The only super precedent is the Constitution. And as for Russia, Democrats are using that narrative to delegitimize Donald Trump. Meanwhile, perhaps most of those who voted for Trump did so because of the Supreme Court. So don’t miss the irony of the two things converging here.

Comment | Share

Top Headlines

  • Schumer: Democrats will filibuster Gorsuch nomination. (The Washington Post)

  • Latest London Jihad: “Islamic State soldier” killed three. UK police arrest eight others in pre-dawn raids. (Fox News)

  • Nunes says Trump team conversations caught in surveillance, transition officials “unmasked” by intel community. (Bloomberg)

  • IRS policy that allowed Tea Party targeting is still in effect, watchdog finds. (The Daily Signal)

  • Obama administration advocated for illegal alien criminal just arrested for murdering teenager. (The Washington Free Beacon)

  • Horrific: Criminal alien arrested for raping a three-year-old in “sanctuary city” of Stamford, Connecticut. (StamfordAdvocate)

  • Susan Rice warns White House not to put out “inaccurate if not deliberately false” information — like she did. (CNS News)

  • ObamaCare co-op projects $39 million loss, citing problems with risk adjustment program. (The Washington Free Beacon)

  • New Maine anti-discrimination bill would protect … climate change skeptics. (Hot Air)

  • This law puts homeowners at risk of property rights violations. (The Daily Signal)

  • Arkansas expands gun-carry rights. (The Washington Free Beacon)

  • Policy: What Britain must ask itself after London attacks. (National Review)

  • Policy: Employment trends in states raising the minimum wage in 2017 (hint: it’s not good). (American Action Forum)

For more, visit Patriot Headline Report.

Comment | Share

Don’t Miss Alexander’s Column

Read Democrats v. Gorsuch: It’s the Rule of Law, Stupid! The Gorsuch confirmation hearings provide a clear contrast between the Rule of Law our Framers established and Democrats’ desire for the despotic rule of men.

If you’d like to receive Alexander’s Column by email, update your subscription here.

FEATURED RIGHT ANALYSIS

An Untrustworthy FBI Director

By Arnold Ahlert

“Where did Comey get the idea to investigate the Trump campaign?” —George Neumayr, American Spectator

In testimony best described as a series of obfuscations, FBI Director James Comey never directly answered that essential question. But he confirmed to the House Select Intelligence Committee that his agency has been investigating Russian interference in the election since last July, including “the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government, and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia’s efforts,” Wired reported.

What kind of interference? “Testifying before the House Intelligence Committee Monday morning, NSA Director Admiral Michael Rogers and FBI Director James Comey stated unequivocally that there was no evidence the Russians manipulated election machines to rig the vote,” stated the Conservative Review.

Yet if the vote itself wasn’t rigged, then what — exactly — does such “coordination” consist of? If it amounts to some sort of quid pro quo, why didn’t former President Obama’s open-mic promise to former Russian President Dmitri Medvedev he would “have more flexibility” following his re-election merit similar inquiries?

Moreover, what quid pro quo? The sanctions remain in place, the U.S. troops Obama sent to Poland are still there, and U.S. ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley has strongly condemned the Russians for the occupation of Crimea that occurred on Obama’s watch.

Freshman Rep. Elise M. Stefanik (R-NY) managed to cut through some of Comey’s orchestrated fog, making him visibly uncomfortable in the process. She asked Comey what the typical protocols are for notifying the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), the White House and senior congressional leaders that an FBI investigation is taking place. “There is a practice of a quarterly briefing on sensitive cases,” Comey replied, adding that his agency was making an effort to shorten it. Yet when Stefanik asked, “When did you notify the White House, the DNI and congressional leadership”? Comey revealed that timeline was an utter sham, stating the DOJ knew about the investigation “all along,” and congressional leadership was notified “sometime recently.”

The DNI? “I don’t know what the DNI’s knowledge of it was because we did not have a DNI until Mr. Coates took office, and I briefed him his first morning,” Comey insisted.

Former Indiana legislator Dan Coates was confirmed by the Senate on March 15.

What about former DNI James Clapper? As Reuters reported on Jan. 5, Clapper “publicly defended his analysts against attacks by Donald Trump following their conclusion that Russia interfered in the November election.” If we believe Comey, he and Clapper were pursuing what amounted to parallel investigations without ever communicating with each other, even as “current and former American officials” were feloniously outing former national Security Director Michael Flynn, as the New York Times reported Feb. 9.

Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) was the other Republican willing to focus the inquiry where it deserved to be focused. He wanted to know the status of the investigation into those actual crimes committed, including the number of people capable of doing so. Comey refused to confirm the FBI has even begun an investigation into the leaking of Flynn’s name. And while he assured Gowdy he could provide the number, he insisted the “culture” of the FBI and NSA is a far more important consideration.

Gowdy wasn’t buying it. “NSA, FBI — what other government agencies have the authority to unmask a U.S. citizen’s name?” he asked. Comey replied that “all agencies that collect information pursuant to FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) have what are called standard minimization procedures which are approved by the FISA court that govern how they will treat U.S person information. So I know the NSA does, the CIA does, obviously the FBI does. I don’t know for sure beyond that.”

With Comey’s agreement, Gowdy added “Main Justice” to the list. When asked about the White House and other entities, Comey called them “consumers” of such intel who were not allowed to legally disseminate it. Yet Gowdy forced Comey to admit that White House appointees such as Clapper, former CIA Director John Brennan, former National Security Advisor Susan Rice, former AG Loretta Lynch and former acting AG Sally Yates would all have access to an unmasked U.S. citizen’s name.

Gowdy then posed the critical question. “Did you brief President Obama on any calls involving Michael Flynn?” Comey refused to answer. “I’m not going to get into either that particular case, that matter, or any conversations I had with the president.”

Why not? The Times and other media sources are excoriating Trump for tweets accusing Obama of “wiretapping” him. But the same paper’s Jan. 20 headline was, “Wiretapped Data Used in Inquiry of Trump Aides,” and the article included the following sentence: “One official said intelligence reports based on some of the wiretapped communications had been provided to the White House.”

To the delight of Democrats, Comey testified there was no evidence of such wiretapping. Yet once again the question arises: Who ordered the investigation into Trump and his associates?

Moreover, what about other types of surveillance, Mr. Comey? On Feb. 2, CNN reported they received a transcript of the private phone call between Trump and Mexican President Peña Nieto. Published transcripts infuriated Gowdy, who asked Comey if he could assure the public such felonies would be investigated. “I can’t,” Comey replied, “but I hope people watching know how seriously we take leaks of classified information. But I don’t want to confirm it by saying we’re investigating.”

Again, why not?

“Comey is adept at using innuendo and leaks to remind the powerful that he cannot be ignored,” NY Post columnist Michael Goodwin asserts. “The prerogative to investigate, and the willingness to feed a scandal-hungry media, is close to being God in politics, and Comey plays the role with relish.”

With an ample assist from the Obama administration, it’s a role Comey will likely play for a long time. “In its final days, the Obama administration has expanded the power of the National Security Agency to share globally intercepted personal communications with the government’s 16 other intelligence agencies before applying privacy protections,” the Times reported on Jan 12. On March 1, the Times reported that White House officials “scrambled” to spread information about the possible Russian/Trump collusion “across the government.”

Who ordered the exponential increase in the number of people privy to such intel — which had the incredibly coincidental byproduct of exponentially increasing the number of suspects that need to be investigated, and the time it takes to investigate them — thereby keeping a cloud hanging over a Trump administration for as long as possible?

This week it got even worse. House Intelligence Chairman Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) revealed that intelligence community members “incidentally collected” information on Trump transition team members that engendered “dozens” of reports that ultimately unmasked many individuals’ identities. Moreover, those reports were “widely disseminated.”

None of this was mentioned by Comey at the hearings.

There’s a noxious odor arising from this investigation — and FBI Director James Comey is in the middle of the stench. As a result we are fast approaching the most perilous question of all for a democratic republic that cannot survive without a certain level of faith in those imbued with the power to protect the Rule of Law:

Who investigates the investigators?

Comment | Share

Share

MORE ANALYSIS FROM THE PATRIOT POST

BEST OF RIGHT OPINION

For more, visit Right Opinion.

OPINION IN BRIEF

Gary Bauer: “This is what the Left means when it talks about the ‘fundamental transformation’ of America, using massive flows of immigration to change America the way Europe is being changed. The Left rejects the idea of American exceptionalism. It rejects assimilation, the idea behind e pluribus unum: out of many, one. That is why the Left is increasingly outraged by displays of patriotism. Earlier this month, an Iowa high school apologized after students at a basketball game showed up wearing red, white and blue. Are you kidding me?! American kids showing pride in their country should not be offensive. What is offensive is that a young girl within a short drive of the White House was raped in a school restroom by thugs who shouldn’t have been in the country. By the way, if immigration agents had caught up with [Henry] Sanchez-Milian [one of the perpetrators] and raided the apartment or home where he was living prior to last week’s attack, he would have been presented on the evening news as a victim, another ‘dreamer’ whose dreams were cut short by Donald Trump. It seems to me that we should be devoting more effort to figuring who is dreaming of helping America and who is dreaming about assaulting our daughters.”

Comment | Share

SHORT CUTS

Insight: “Truth is so rare that it is delightful to tell it.” —Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)

For the record: “The House bill is a messy, complex compromise, but then the GOP has inherited a messy, complex failure in ObamaCare. The House Freedom Caucus’s claim that repeal alone would produce some free-market wonderland is a fantasy. The health market of 2009 no longer exists, and even then it wasn’t great. Repeal without replace would lead to market chaos and patient horror stories that discredit free-market reform.” —The Wall Street Journal

Upright: “It would be a mistake to suggest that originalism turns on the secret intentions of the drafters of the language of the law. The point of originalism [or] textualism … is to strive to understand what the words on the page mean. Not import words that come from us, but apply what you, the people’s representative, the lawmakers, have done.” —Neil Gorsuch

Braying Jackass: “There’s nothing fundamentally changed in the Republican Party in the last 12 to 15 years, except they got a president now who’s a little more colorful. That is polite, but it’s about time we’re polite.” —Joe Biden

Accolades from the Left: “I actually believe that Donald Trump has the potential to be a great president in sort of the Nixon-goes-to-China way, or Reagan-goes-to-the-Soviet-Union way, if he can find a way to rein in some of the more unhealthy impulses, listen to his staff, bring on a full complement of political appointees who will help him govern.” —former DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson

Dezinformatsiya: “We’ve seen this rise of a kind of a right-wing movement here and throughout Europe. And [the attack on the UK Parliament] is only going to put wind in the sails of those who would say that this is an issue that needs to be looked at, that needs to be examined in terms of refugees.” —NBC’s Matt Bradley

And last… “Chelsea Clinton getting a lifetime achievement award is like a guy with military actions in 7 nations getting a Nobel Peace Prize.” —Twitter satirist @hale_razor

Comment | Share

Semper Vigilans Fortis Paratus et Fidelis
Managing Editor Nate Jackson

Join us in daily prayer for our Patriots in uniform — Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen — standing in harm’s way in defense of Liberty, and for their families.

It's Right. It's Free.