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Notorious RBG to Dems: Court-packing is a bad idea

Westlake Legal Group r-2 Notorious RBG to Dems: Court-packing is a bad idea The Blog Supreme Court ruth bader ginsburg roosevelt packing nine Merrick Garland Justice gorsuch Filibuster court

Is there a Democrat anywhere who’s more likely to influence progressive opinion on this subject than Ginsburg? Maybe Obama, but he’d be attacked as weak for opposing Court-packing considering that the proposal is aimed at righting the alleged wrong done by Mitch McConnell in roadblocking Merrick Garland’s nomination. O would be siding with the GOP on a policy matter triggered by his own supposed victimization by them. And besides, thanks to Biden, the left is more skeptical of Obama today than it’s been at any point since early in the 2008 primaries. O’s dim view of Court-packing now wouldn’t have the sort of talismanic effect it might have had five years ago when he was still in office.

Due to her authority as a member of the Court and her iconic status as the dean of the liberal wing and a feminist trailblazer, literally no one’s opinion is apt to carry as much weight in lefty thinking as Ginsburg’s.

Which is not to say it’s apt to carry *much* weight. They seem pretty hyped to add a few justices when next they control the presidency and the Senate, if only for the visceral pleasure of avenging Garland.

But let’s be real. Once they’re in a position to confirm their own Supreme Court nominees again, how much of the appetite for Court-packing will remain? They’re starving right now because it’s been nearly 10 years since a Democrat joined the Court and around 50 years since they’ve had a reliable Democratic majority. Once Schumer and a Dem president are in charge and they can start filling vacancies again without needing to worry about a Republican filibuster, they’ll be (mostly) sated. Even if they wanted to accelerate a new Democratic SCOTUS majority by packing the Court, they’d need to shatter two separate taboos to do it — increasing the number of justices from nine, of course, but also ending the legislative filibuster so that a simple Dem majority in the Senate could join with the House in amending the statute that sets the number of justices. Either one of those moves in isolation would be thermonuclear politically. In tandem they’d be like an asteroid hitting the Earth.

And imagine what the polling would be like. Republicans would oppose it unanimously, independents would likely oppose it on balance, and Dems would support it but with a substantial minority expressing misgivings. Result: A solid majority of the public against the idea. A Rasmussen poll from earlier this year confirmed that guesswork, in fact:

As Fix The Court notes, a recent Rasmussen poll finds that only 27 percent of respondents favor adding justices to the Supreme Court — and presumably the lower courts — while 55 percent opposed. Meanwhile, in the same poll, 54 percent of respondents support a term limits proposal. Even Justice Breyer is on board with an 18-year term limit.

The public is more narrowly divided on impeaching Trump than they are on Court-packing and yet Pelosi so fears the backlash impeachment might generate for centrist Dems in purple districts that she won’t go near it. Imagine lefties trying to convince her to blow up the Supreme Court, knowing that the election of a Democratic president would be likely to turbo-charge Republican turnout for the following midterm elections anyway. If they want to pack the Court, their first step would necessarily have to be replacing Pelosi as Speaker with a progressive firebrand. And then, when they’re done with that, they’d need to convince the new Dem president that it’s worth triggering a mammoth Republican electoral backlash to add two new justices to the Court, knowing that GOPers would surely use the precedent to add two more of their own just as soon as they’re back in power. How is it worth it?

The post Notorious RBG to Dems: Court-packing is a bad idea appeared first on Hot Air.

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“Patently deficient”: Federal judge blocks DOJ lawyers from withdrawing from case involving census citizenship question

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How much of a mess has the White House made of this census dispute? So much that the Justice Department lawyers who’ve been handling the case for months are now trying to walk away from it en masse…

…and the courts won’t let them. It’s a federal judge who’s insisting for the moment that Trump’s A-team at the DOJ remain on the job, arguing his side.

At least until they give him a good reason why they shouldn’t. Can they? From today’s order denying the lawyers’ motion to withdraw:

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Let’s back up. The DOJ initially convinced SCOTUS to take up the question of whether a citizenship question could be placed on the census in part by noting that time was of the essence. The census, supposedly, had to be at the printers by June 30. The Supreme Court agreed to hear the case and issued its verdict two weeks ago: Although the executive has power to add questions to the census, wrote John Roberts, it’s … pretty obvious that they’ve been lying about why they want the citizenship question added to it. The public needs clarity on that and the administration’s stated reasoning, that they need citizenship info to enforce the Voting Rights Act, simply isn’t supported by the evidence.

So the White House was thwarted unless and until it could provide a more credible explanation for wanting the citizenship question included — but since the deadline for printing the census was almost here, it seemed like there’d be no time to reconsider the matter. And so, inevitably, the DOJ announced on July 2 that the citizenship question would be dropped. Then Trump got to talking to his friends, who urged him to fight on, and he declared the next day — in a tweet — that the question wouldn’t be dropped after all, that the DOJ would fight on. And what about the June 30 deadline? Well, maybe the deadline wasn’t such a hard and fast deadline after all. Even though believing that it was helped convince SCOTUS to hear this appeal.

A federal judge in Maryland held a phone conference with the DOJ’s lawyers on July 3, after Trump’s tweet, to try to get a straight answer as to whether they were dropping the case or fighting on. The lawyers seemed as confused as the judge by the state of play:

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All they had was a tweet. “This is a very fluid situation,” said Gardner later in the call, with no small amount of understatement. A source told the WSJ that “Nobody has any f***ing idea” what Trump wanted them to do.

Then came the next newsflash this past Sunday: The entire team of DOJ lawyers working on this case was planning to withdraw from it, a move which the NYT described as “all but unprecedented in legal battles.” Even stranger, the DOJ offered no explanation for the change. They didn’t offer one to the court either, per today’s order. You can’t just walk away without a good reason, said the judge, especially when you’ve spent months insisting that there’s a deadline here and time is of the essence in resolving the matter.

Why would the entire “federal programs” seek to drop the case like a hot potato? Maybe, said the Times, it’s because they feel the administration’s told so many lies — about its reasoning for wanting the question on the census, about the supposedly hard-and-fast deadline for the census, etc — that it’d be unethical for them to continue. That is, maybe they believe there’s no way to go forward here without either lying to the court or admitting that previous representations to the court were lies.

[The motion to withdraw] strongly suggested that the department’s career lawyers had decided to quit a case that at the least seemed to lack a legal basis, and at most left them defending statements that could well turn out to be untrue.

“There is no reason they would be taken off that case unless they saw what was coming down the road and said, ‘I won’t sign my name to that,’” Justin Levitt, a former senior official in the Justice Department under President Barack Obama, said on Sunday…

Lawyers who had been working on the case apparently concluded that they faced three problems. They had told the Supreme Court that they were up against a strict deadline of June 30 for printing the census forms, and there were difficulties in finding a new justification for the question that would not seem invented out of whole cloth. They may have also concluded that there was no way to move speedily enough to restore the question in any event, given that constitutional and statutory frameworks seem to require a lengthy administrative process before new questions may be added to the census.

If they objected to continuing on with the case due to ethical reasons, it makes sense that they wouldn’t want to state that in their motion to withdraw and risk embarrassing Trump and the department. But the federal judge who issued today’s order has called their bluff. Either they have to get back to work or they have to openly admit their ethical misgivings about what they’re being asked to do, which will be an unholy PR clusterfark for the White House and the DOJ. What are they going to do?

To give you a sense of just how messy this has gotten, read this story about the many times federal officials have contradicted their own stated reasoning for wanting to add the citizenship question to the census. Remember, it’s supposed to be about the Voting Rights Act, but figures like Ken Cuccinelli have admitted at times that the information might be used in immigration enforcement. And Trump himself admitted just a few days ago that it might be used for redistricting, perhaps to try to exclude illegals from the count in apportioning House districts. My takeaway from John Roberts’s opinion in the SCOTUS ruling was that he was straining for ways to give Trump the green light to do this but, as a matter of basic judicial integrity, couldn’t allow the administration to lie baldfaced to the Court about what its motives were. Now you have the president all but confessing that the Voting Rights Act rationale wasn’t the real reason for asking about citizenship on the census. If this case comes back to SCOTUS, Roberts may feel obliged to rule against Trump purely because it would embarrass the Court at this point to reward the administration with a win after lying so brazenly.

Trump may “win” anyway, though, if not in court than by making enough of a fuss about this that some illegals will refuse to answer the census questionnaire, leading to an undercount of the population in blue districts with large illegal populations. He might still win in court too, with POTUS reportedly considering an executive order to include the question on the census and begin printing. Again, though, that would operate as a sort of middle finger to SCOTUS, ignoring Roberts’s demand for a clearer rationale for including the question and ordering the government to proceed with it anyway on Trump’s say-so. If SCOTUS tries to stop him, then we’re in constitutional crisis territory. But first, we wait to see what the DOJ will do about today’s “get back to work” order.

The post “Patently deficient”: Federal judge blocks DOJ lawyers from withdrawing from case involving census citizenship question appeared first on Hot Air.

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Poll: Plurality of Republicans believe the Mueller report totally exonerated Trump on obstruction of justice

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It doesn’t surprise me that Republicans who say they’ve “watched a lot of coverage” of the report are more, rather than less, likely to believe Trump was totally exonerated on obstruction than the average Republican is even though it’s not true. Odds are, they’re watching Fox. And not the Shep/Chris Wallace dayside newsy hours of Fox either.

It does surprise me that Republicans who say they’ve read parts of the report are also more likely than the average Republican to believe it. Probably the single most famous line from the report’s 400+ pages is, “If we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state.” Mueller went to the trouble of repeating that line on television a month later at his press conference as an extra nudge to House Democrats and the public that they should be troubled by the obstruction findings.

Did righties forget to read the obstruction section?

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The entire reason House Democrats are so eager to have Mueller testify this month is because they’re aware of this disjunction between what Mueller said and what people, especially Republicans, believe. Only 19 percent of Americans in this poll admitted to having read all or most of the report. If you want Mueller’s conclusions to penetrate, they have to be repackaged as video clips and transmitted to the public via the media circus that will attend his testimony on July 17. Or so Dems hope. I’m skeptical that it’ll change much.

As to why Republicans might be confused about Mueller’s “no exoneration” verdict on obstruction, there are different possibilities:

1. Barr did exonerate Trump on obstruction in his summary of Mueller’s report, of course. Maybe GOPers were treating this question less as a test of what Mueller said than what the DOJ ultimately decided as an institution.

2. Some may not have paid close enough attention to the question to notice they were being asked about obstruction, not collusion. If all they heard was “Did Mueller exonerate Trump?”, they may have focused on the collusion part of the report in answering “yes.”

3. Maybe out-and-out disinformation from partisan media sites convinced them that Mueller really did clear Trump on obstruction, all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding.

4. Trump repeated the “total exoneration” talking point a lot in the first few days after Barr’s summary was released. Whether that message convinced Republicans and colored their impressions of what’s in the report or whether they’re merely parroting Trump’s point back to pollsters to be good soldiers, it’s the Trump factor at work. Relatedly, when asked if they thought Russia interfered in the election — the most unambiguous finding in Mueller’s report — Republicans split just 51/49. “What’s the best answer for Trump?” will obviously weigh on partisans’ minds when they answer questions about this.

Is there a term, by the way, to describe when someone gives a pollster the answer that their party would want them to give, whether or not that’s their honest opinion? There are all sorts of reasons why people sometimes aren’t honest with pollsters; a famous one is “social desirability bias.” We live in an age, though, in which public awareness of polling and its ability to drive the news and influence political parties’ strategy has probably never been greater. Favorable polls are touted routinely in activist political media on both sides. The president tweets often (and selectively) about his own polls and has encouraged supporters to disregard unfavorable polls as fake news. The polls famously failed to detect Trump’s looming victory in 2016 even though they got close to predicting Hillary’s popular vote win. The more that Americans see polls overtly as tools of partisan information warfare, the more likely they are, it seems to me, to answer poll questions in line with what their parties want them to say — what they’re “supposed” to say — than what the might really think. That might explain the outsized GOP number here claiming that Mueller totally exonerated Trump on obstruction. As well as why Trump has nearly unanimous job approval and disapproval in polls of Republicans and Democrats, respectively.

The post Poll: Plurality of Republicans believe the Mueller report totally exonerated Trump on obstruction of justice appeared first on Hot Air.

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Benedict Rogers: Character, values and dignity. Why I am voting for Hunt.

Benedict Rogers is East Asia Team Leader at the international human rights organisation CSW, co-founder and Deputy Chair of the Conservative Party Human Rights Commission, a former parliamentary candidate and a Senior Fellow at the Religious Freedom Institute.

As a former journalist, a human rights campaigner and a Christian, there are obvious reasons why I like Jeremy Hunt. As Foreign Secretary he has done more in a year than any of his predecessors combined to champion human rights – and in particular press freedom and freedom of religion or belief, two foundational freedoms that underpin any civilized democratic society.

Hunt has also done more to speak out against crimes against humanity in Burma, for the release of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and peace in Yemen than his predecessors. His decision not just to mandate the Bishop of Truro to conduct an inquiry into the persecution of Christians but to write, every day throughout Lent, to a persecuted Christian, speaks volumes about his values.

So too did his decision, on his first visit to Beijing, to meet the wives of jailed Chinese human rights lawyers. And his statements on Hong Kong, a city I lived in for the first five years of my working life and to which I was denied entry on the orders of Beijing 18 months ago, have been far more robust than his predecessors. Has he done enough? No, of course not: no activist would say enough had been done. But has he shone, as a Foreign Secretary who prioritises human rights? Definitely.

But of course, one doesn’t vote solely on these issues. The challenges facing our party and our country are wide-ranging. Brexit is the most immediate and most obvious. But there are pressures on our public services, threats to our security, challenges to our economy and questions about our standing in the world. And the answer to all of these major questions is clear: Hunt.

Of the original 11 candidates, there were only ever four whom I seriously considered – Sajid Javid, Michael Gove, Rory Stewart and Jeremy Hunt. Rarely have I had such a difficult choice. Rarely have I been such a floating voter.

I didn’t declare my support until last Thursday, when Javid was knocked out, for the simple reason that whichever one of my four favourites made it into the final two would have won my support. It was only when Javid was eliminated that I decided, when it came down to the final three, to declare my support for Hunt. Once I made the decision, the reasons crystalised. It comes down to three factors: character, values and dignity.

I have not really met Hunt. The only time we have encountered each other was just before Christmas last year. To my surprise, I received an invitation to a meeting with the Foreign Secretary to discuss the persecution of Christians – prior to his announcement of a review. Around the table were the Archbishop of Canterbury, a Catholic bishop representing Cardinal Nichols, the Coptic Archbishop Angaelos, the chief executives of three charities, and survivors of persecution.

I was impressed by Hunt’s personal engagement with the issue. It was obvious by the fact that he allowed people to speak for far longer than they should have done, and asked insightful questions, that he really cared.

While we had never met before, when he called me to speak he addressed me by my first name, and as he left he said: “It’s great to finally meet you.” There’s no reason, in the great scheme of things, why he should know who I am, but he did and that shows an impressive mastery of detail and personal focus.

I first became aware of Hunt about 13 years ago. A colleague of mine was his constituent. My colleague is a living saint – the epitome of charity, compassion, justice and Christian faith. But he is definitely not a Tory – he is firmly on the Left. Yet he told me early on that he had become a fan of his local MP – Hunt – who, he said, was remarkably responsive, compassionate and interested in human rights. My colleague then brought a Burmese friend, the daughter of a political prisoner, to see Hunt.

I am inspired by Hunt’s emphasis on turbo-charging the economy, deploying his experience as an entrepreneur to turn post-Brexit Britain into the world’s most dynamic economy. A man who has made millions from a successful business, and known the hard grind of business failure, is more likely to be able to take us forward as a global enterprise than one who has never run anything except some precarious newspaper columns.

One handicap sometimes held up is Hunt’s conflict with doctors. But if you look at his record as Health Secretary in full, it is this: he stood up to vested interests, expanded NHS delivery, won battles for further funding and championed the NHS – all qualities we want in a Prime Minister.

Brexit must be delivered, and made not just to work but to succeed. For that to happen all of us, whatever side we were on three years ago, must come together. That means we don’t need a ‘Brexiteer’ leader, we need a unifier, a leader who is not marked by labels but by their ability to implement the referendum result. We need a skilled and experienced negotiator. That man is Hunt.

If Britain is to walk tall in the world post-Brexit, it needs a leader respected by his counterparts as a statesman, taken seriously and not regarded as a subject of mirth. And we need a man who is internationalist and outward-looking. Hunt is clearly that man. Just read his speech on building an “invisible chain” of democracies.

My mother used to live in Japan, and speaks Japanese. When I showed her the video of Mr Hunt delivering a speech in fluent Japanese with no notes she was impressed. To have a Prime Minister who can speak several languages fluently walking the world stage would help turbo-charge Global Britain.

I joined the Conservative Party at the precocious age of 13. In 2005, I stood for Parliament. I have been a Conservative for over 30 years, and I retain hope. In times of victory and wilderness, I have never doubted the Conservative dream and Conservative values. In ups and downs, in government and opposition, I have stuck with three things I hold dear: a Great Britain, a Global Britain and a compassionate conservatism. It is clear to me that it is Hunt who will deliver all three.

I have always championed the underdog – minorities in Burma and Indonesia, prisoners in North Korea, dissidents in China and Hong Kong. So once again, I am with the underdog, and I believe he can win. As the American poet James Russell Lowell once wrote, “once to every man and nation, comes the moment to decide, in the strife of Truth with Falsehood, for the good or evil side … Then to side with truth is noble, when we share her wretched crust, Ere her cause bring fame and profit, and ‘tis prosperous to be just; Then it is the brave man chooses while the coward stands aside.”

Join me in backing Jeremy Hunt.

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Michael Gove: I have shown in government that I deliver. And as Prime Minister, I will deliver Brexit – and stop Corbyn.

Michael Gove is Environment Secretary and is MP for Surrey Heath.

To be Conservative is to believe in the importance of the special worth of each individual, liberated to become the author of their own life story – supported by strengthened families, communities and historic institutions. That was the answer I gave ConservativeHome this week, when asked by this website’s readers and editors for my definition of conservatism.

It is rooted in my experience in Government – as Education Secretary, Justice Secretary and Environment Secretary – but also in my own life story. Because I wasn’t born Michael Gove. As I explained to supporters at my leadership campaign launch in Westminster this week, I was born – 51 years ago – Graeme Logan, to a mother I never knew. I was taken from her and spent the first four months of my life in care.

In a life-changing moment, I was then adopted by my amazing mum and dad, Ernie and Christine. I still remember my mum explaining to me what adoption meant, when the right moment arrived. She said: “Son, you didn’t grow under my heart, you grew in it.” Without my parents’ love – unstinting, total and selfless as it was – I know for sure that I would never have been able to be where I am today. I would never have had the chance to serve in Government; or to stand to be Prime Minister, ready to lead the country I love.

Being adopted makes me all too personally aware of how much in life depends on chance. When I was the Shadow Education Secretary, I remember reading about a school that I could have gone to, if I hadn’t been adopted by my mum and dad. It was a school where only one child, in an entire year, got the five good GCSEs that are a passport to a brighter future.

I thought then: what if my life had started there? What would my future have been? It’s because I know how fragile fortune is – how much depends on others, and how everyone has something to give but too few get the chance – that I am in politics.

It is also why I am a Conservative. I had a clear mission as Education Secretary that reflected this too. I wanted to make sure that every child, whatever their background or circumstances, was given the chance to shine. I make no apology for driving through reform as fast as I could. There was no time to waste – because children only get one shot at education. Now, thanks to the reforms I led, 1.9 million more children are in good and outstanding schools.

For the same reason, I was just as dedicated to getting results when I was Justice Secretary. Prisons exist to keep the public safe. But at the same time, every prisoner should be given the chance of redemption and to turn their life around. As I saw it, education behind bars, and the right support from prison staff, is the only way to reduce reoffending and ultimately reduce the number of victims of crime. My reforms put that into action.

As Environment Secretary, I am also in a hurry to change things. Our planet is in peril. I don’t want the next generation to inherit a world which is dirtier, more dangerous and less beautiful. I want to ensure that the earth, which is our common home, is handed on to the next generation cleaner, greener and healthier. So I’ve taken action to help end plastic pollution, clean up our air, improve animal welfare and support our farmers better in everything they do.

Right now, no leader faces a bigger challenge than delivering a true Brexit. On this, I feel a personal responsibility. I led the campaign to leave the European Union. I made the argument to audiences of voters in the heat of the TV debates. And I knew when I made the decision to lead the campaign, it would involve personal sacrifice – putting a strain on friendships and my family.

Yet I wanted to stand up for the working people who wanted real change. People like my mum and dad, whose fish merchants in Aberdeen went to the wall when I was a teenager because of the European Union’s policies. They were not alone. The EU’s Common Fisheries Policy meant lost jobs and broken dreams for many people in my part of Scotland – thanks to decisions taken in distant committee rooms, by people we never elected and couldn’t remove. It was this experience that led me, after careful thought, to campaign to take back control – and against the odds we won.

But three years after the referendum, we still haven’t left. I share the frustration of so many that we are still in the EU. I feel it every single day and it is one of the reasons I am standing – to deliver on the result that we won in 2016. But it’s not enough to just believe in Brexit. You have got to be able to deliver it. I believe my experience in Government – mastering those detailed briefs, making my case around the Cabinet table and beyond, winning support, driving through reform, means I am in the best position to deliver Brexit.

Britain needs a Brexit that takes back control of our money, laws and borders. A Brexit that means we are out of the Common Fisheries Policy, out of the Common Agricultural Policy and out of the political structures of the EU. The UK should build a new relationship with Europe, based on a Canada-style free trade deal with Europe. That must be our urgent aim.

I am determined to deliver – and deliver quickly. As those who know me best will confirm, I am not someone who lets the grass grow beneath my feet. But there is one thing I will not do – I will not risk a general election before we deliver Brexit.

If we did do that, we’d effectively be handing the keys to Number 10 Downing Street over to Jeremy Corbyn. Gone would be the chance to deliver Brexit. Gone would be the opportunity to make Britain the best country in the world for education and science; the chance to strengthen the Union, cut tax and regulation, promote competition and free choice and spread prosperity across the country. Gone would be the chance to invest in our schools, increasing funding per pupil in real terms, to improve transport links in the South-West Midlands and North of England, and to reform social care to provide peace of mind for every family.

That is why we cannot risk Corbyn becoming Prime Minister. There is so much we can do to make our country even better. I have shown in every role in Government I’ve had that I have a passion for making people’s lives better. I have demonstrated that I can bring teams together, reach across divides and deliver real change. I have led from the front, undaunted by criticism and resolute in the need to solve complex issues. That is what this country needs, right here, right now.

It is a serious time in the life of our nation. The stakes have never been higher. And the consequences have rarely been greater. It requires a serious leader, who is ready to lead from day one. To deliver Brexit, to take the fight to Labour and to debate and argue fearlessly for what we, as Conservatives, believe in.  

 

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Why is John Dean testifying before the House about the Mueller report today?

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I’m not even going to post a clip of it because who cares, really? Let me just re-up my theory from Friday of why Nancy Pelosi continues to talk ever tougher about Trump while continually inching away from impeachment:

The impeachment chatter on both sides looks increasingly like little more than kabuki performed for the 2020 electorate. Pelosi’s happy to have Democrats threaten Trump in ever more draconian ways *if* doing so sates their appetite for formal action. Embarrassing the president by impeaching him would inflame Republican voters, she fears, but talking about sending him to prison or whatever? Eh, talk is cheap. Trump talked endlessly about locking Hillary Clinton up on the trial in 2016, didn’t he? Meanwhile, if Pelosi’s not going to hand him turnout fuel by actually impeaching him, Trump’s going to use their tough talk about prison etc. as kindling instead by feigning offense, as in the tweets above. It’s a performance on both ends.

Andy McCarthy took the same position in a piece published Saturday. Pelosi thinks 2020 is the Democrats’ race to lose, she doesn’t want to upset the dynamic by rolling an impeachment grenade into the fray, so she and Jerry Nadler are going to do what they can to scratch the left’s anti-Trump itch in various ways short of impeachment to try to keep them happy. If that means blowhardery about sending Trump to prison or whatever, fine. If that means letting geriatric liberals reminisce about Watergate by hauling John Dean before the Judiciary Committee to sputter about parallels between Nixon’s actions and Trump’s, fine. (“I’m clearly not a fact witness,” Dean himself acknowledged in an interview before today’s hearing.) If it gets under Trump’s skin too, so much the better for them:

It’s all just a show, says McCarthy, and so it is. If John Mitchell were alive, they would have brought him in to say “crimes are bad mmmkay” and to insinuate darkly about Bill Barr that he knows what it looks like when the Attorney General loses his legal and moral bearings. Dean’s like the one original member left from an old doo-wop group that was mildly popular back in the day who goes on tour with a bunch of ringers for some easy money from nostalgic grandmas and grandpas. That’s what Pelosi’s offering the liberal old-timers in lieu of an actual impeachment proceeding.

Here’s GOP Rep. Doug Collins laying into him and the Democrats for this stunt, followed by Dem Rep. Steve Cohen all but admitting that it’s a show. Democrats will defend this, I suspect, by arguing that all they’re trying to do is call public attention to what’s actually in Mueller’s report. Most Americans haven’t read it; many don’t know even some of the bottom-line findings. If Dems can get a little extra media attention and TV time by having a familiar name run through those findings, so much the better. Is Dean’s name familiar to anyone under the age of 65, though? Conversely, is anyone over the age of 65 waiting for Dean’s take to make up their mind on Russiagate? If you’re the sort of person excited to see Nixon’s lawyer lay into Trump, your mind’s been made up about the president since before day one. If they want to get the word out about Mueller’s findings, they should have Oprah or Taylor Swift testify about their understanding of the report’s conclusions. A show this big deserves a star above the D-list. Exit quotation via Alex Griswold: “I wonder which current Trump lackey will be the one who spends the next several decades selling books on how each successive Republican administration Is Worse Than Trump, And Believe Me, I Would Know.”

The post Why is John Dean testifying before the House about the Mueller report today? appeared first on Hot Air.

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Hillary: There’s a classic pattern to fascism and we’re seeing some of it play out right now

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Via Breitbart and RCP, I haven’t adjusted yet to the fact that the narrative of the 2020 election, per the attack lines from each side, will be Fascism vs. Socialism.

That’s always the *subtext* of elections, particularly presidential ones. But this time it’ll be the text. No euphemisms. We may even have an avowed socialist at the top of the Democratic ballot, for cripes sake.

According to a new poll from Axios, the ladies have made their choice:

A Harris poll for “Axios on HBO” finds that socialism is gaining popularity: 4 in 10 Americans say they would prefer living in a socialist country over a capitalist one.

Why it matters: Socialism is losing its Soviet-era stigma, especially among women. Popular Democratic socialists like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Bernie Sanders are bringing new life and meaning to the term.

55% of women between 18 and 54 would prefer to live in a socialist country than a capitalist country

“We’ve seen this pattern of behavior where women are turning out in higher numbers as voters and as candidates than we’ve ever seen. They’re getting elected in higher numbers than before. They’re pushing the conversation in different ways,” Axios’ Alexi McCammond noted on “Axios on HBO.”

As always with polls about socialism, the big caveat is that different people define the term in different ways. Fewer than half in this poll (48 percent) defined a socialist political system as one in which “workers own and control their places of employment,” the traditional understanding. More than three-quarters, conversely, say that a socialist political system means universal health care. I think the general understanding now, after eight years of complementary left-wing and right-wing messaging during the Obama era, is something like “much greater government influence over private industry, especially when it comes to guaranteeing basic needs like health care and education.” No one, or practically no one, is demanding that workers own the means of production.

Although if we elect Bernie and AOC’s star continues to rise, who knows? Their policy ambitions aren’t modest. There’s a “classic pattern” to socialism too.

Is this going to be Hillary’s role in next year’s campaign, by the way — sporadically popping up on the trail here and there, and on television, to call the president a fascist? The nominee will want to put that message out there but maybe not with this messenger. She’s too unpopular, and dark insinuations about Trump and his fans veer way too close to the “deplorables” comment that may have cost her the election in 2016. Put a mic in Clinton’s hand and start her chattering about Trump’s appeal and there’s no telling where the conversation might go. She’s insulted red-staters more than once, remember.

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Dean Godson: There are plenty of ideas on the centre-right. Here’s how it can create a new, decent, patriotric consensus.

Dean Godson is Director of Policy Exchange.

Where next? For the last two years, British politics has been stuck in paralysis. There has been a lot of noise and clamour, but no side seems capable of creating consensus and winning broad support. That is not to say that this is a dull time in our national debate – a deep ideological contest is under way for the future of our country. It will reverberate long after Brexit, in whatever form, is complete.

It is often said today that all the intellectual energy is on the Left. But is this true? There are no leaders of the quality of Clement Attlee on the Labour benches. There are no economists or thinkers of the ilk of Anthony Crosland. Thirty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, we have people aspiring to power in this country who are proud to call themselves Marxists – including the Shadow Chancellor.

The problem is not that there is an absence of ideas on the centre-right. It is that they have yet to coalesce into a coherent vision of national renewal. Policy Exchange, for example, identified the plight of the “just about managing” classes in our country – the JAMs – in 2015. So many in the country would put themselves in this camp. But has enough really been done for them in the four years since? Do they think the state is on their side, or that the political class is fighting for them?

The election of a new Conservative Party leader is the moment – perhaps the last chance – to get this right. One of the greatest mistakes that the Tories could make is to play the only game that Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party is capable of – sectional, identity politics that sets different groups of voters against each other.

Last year, Policy Exchange organised a Conservative conference event with the title ‘Can the Conservatives win in Canterbury and in Middlesbrough at the same time?’ But you could ask the same question of Labour. As it stands, the UK risks being treated as if it exists in balkanised sub-electorates, each with niche interests and obsessions. The only way to electoral victory in this model is with temporarily cobbled together coalitions of rival groups.

Yet despite polarisation on Brexit and other issues, there is more agreement – and more consensus – among voters than often appears, and therefore more cause for optimism. This is not a jingoistic nation. Instead, there is a deep tissue of patriotism in the best sense of the word – a fidelity to constitution, citizenship and community – that has too often been dismissed out of hand. Policy Exchange’s polling on the Union revealed that a clear majority of people in the UK say their support for it has remained constant or has risen in recent years – 78 per cent in England, 60 per cent in Scotland, 69 per cent in Wales, 70 per cent in Northern Ireland.

There is also, among immigrant communities in the UK, a complete rejection of the gatekeeper politics that sees putatively “national” representative organisations claim to speak on behalf of millions without their consent, in the most damaging form of identity politics. Only 20 per cent of British Muslims, for example, saw themselves as represented by such organisations. Fifty-five per cent of British Muslims felt ‘very strongly’ that they belonged to Britain and 38 per cent ‘fairly strongly’ that they belonged to Britain; only seven per cent did not feel a strong sense of belonging to the UK.

Consensus can be found elsewhere. Our work on lawfare – the unfair hounding of British troops through the courts – has had huge cut-through with the British public, whose outcry on the issue has forced our political and legal establishment to wake up.

The same goes for housing, where our research was based on the simple proposition that the way to overcome opposition to building more homes – so-called Nimbyism – is to make sure they are designed in a way that fits the tastes of local communities and makes our country more beautiful. This is a vision with massive support.  Traditional terraces with tree-lined streets, for instance, are by far the most popular option for the design and style of new homes. They may be unfashionable among “starchitects” but they are supported by 48 per cent of the public, with some of the strongest support among working-class Ds and Es. And how many want housing developments or estates in a modern style? Just 28 per cent.  Our polling shows a clear majority favour traditional design over modern developments. In housing and more, the first job of the new Prime Minister is to come up with a coherent national narrative that restores our sense of direction as a country.

There is the chance for a new Unionism, not just making sure that the individual countries of Scotland, Wales, England and Northern Ireland breathe comfortably within the shared home of the United Kingdom, but also that the Union itself is to an extent reconceptualised – so that we build a union between young and old and address the challenge of generational justice. A union between newer arrivals in Britain and long-established communities, so that suspicions and enmities can be overcome. A union between those whose faith means so much for them, and others for whom faith is vestigial and whose values increasingly shape the public space.  In short, we need a new social contract for post-Brexit Britain.

Social care is one concrete policy example. It is increasingly plain to those involved in the care sector that the state should cover almost all of the costs of long-term complex social care, which can involve ruinous costs for individuals and families, particularly for those suffering from dementia in old age. It can lead to the forced sales of family homes and wipe out a lifetime of saving and hard work. This idea – effectively the completion of the Welfare State – was proposed in a recent Policy Exchange research paper and embraced, perhaps surprisingly for someone on the right of the Conservative Party, by Jacob Rees-Mogg, who argued in the foreword that “It is far better to pool risk and for the taxpayer, where appropriate, to step in and help those who would face ruinous costs on their own, making social care largely free at the point of use.” He is surely right.

Where else could the next Prime Minister discover a quiet majority? On the environment, perhaps, where there are strong arguments to reduce carbon emissions to net zero by 2050 – with support especially high among the young. On investment in R & D and industry, especially in the North East, which could become a leader in the high-value, green economy. Certainly, on protecting British troops from pernicious forms of lawfare, which has high levels of support because of the obvious injustices involved. On education, too, where our polling revealed that poor pupil behaviour is driving teachers from the profession and undermining children’s education – 72 per cent of teachers know a colleague who has “left the teaching profession because of bad behaviour”. On countering extremism online, 74 per cent think that the big internet companies should be more proactive in locating and deleting extremist content, with 66 per cent of people believing that the internet should be a regulated space.

There is more thinking to be done across all policy areas – People, Prosperity, Place and Patriotism, as Policy Exchange’s work is organised – as a new Prime Minister is chosen. With that in mind, we will be publishing a series of proposals under these themes in the forthcoming weeks, which will seek to answer the question: what do we want from the next Prime Minister? We will also be hosting a series of events, including one in partnership with ConservativeHome, on electoral politics, housing, the economy, education, energy and the environment, lawfare and the rise of China. Only by hunting out areas of existing consensus will the next Prime Minister be able to start bringing the country together and healing the divides of last few years.

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Chloe Westley: Pursuing happiness doesn’t guarantee finding it

Chloe Westley is the Campaign Manager of the TaxPayers’ Alliance.

How would you measure happiness? Epicurus would say you can measure happiness by the absence of pain. Aristotle would argue that happiness was more to do with flourishing as a human being should, by pursuing virtues and obtaining a good character. Other philosophers, such as Kant, argue that happiness is not necessarily something worth chasing at all, as we’re not really capable of knowing what will or won’t make us happy. For me, happiness is time spent with children, dogs, and people that I love. Maybe that’s your definition of happiness too.

But it’s difficult to find a full proof definition of what happiness consists of, or how we should measure it. I’ve been pondering this question since I heard that New Zealand will now be adopting a ‘well-being’ budget that will measure progress based on the happiness of citizens as opposed to Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Jacinda Ardern has pledged to make New Zealand a country where ‘“success is measured not only by the nation’s GDP but by better lives lived by its people.”

Well, yes, obviously. Nobody disagrees that the whole point of policy making – and indeed of politics – is to try and make people happy. (We’d be in serious trouble if monetary policy was driven by a desire to make things worse for people.) The prosperity of a population is always the consideration for policy makers. Labelling this a ‘well-being budget’ strikes me as simply a marketing gimmick to distract from the fact that, in New Zealand, Labour have failed on all of their major policy planks, and have ironically abandoned the previous Government’s social investment scheme, which was aimed at improving well being.

But the progressive world rejoiced, and hailed this as a step in the right direction. Many on the Left view economic growth as an overrated metric which distracts from the real problems that people face. The Prime Minister’s statement implies that there isn’t a connection between well being and economic prosperity, and that by focusing on economic growth instead of well being, people in New Zealand were suffering.

But far from making people miserable, economic growth is what lifts a country out of poverty and improves living standards. And whilst we do find it nearly impossible to find a universal definition of happiness, having your basic needs met as a human being is surely a prerequisite. I struggle to conceive of being as happy or fulfilled living in the Soviet Union and seeing family starve due to food shortages, or having to queue for hours to receive basic necessities in socialist Venezuela.

Whilst it’s true that ‘money can’t buy happiness’, it’s also the case that capitalism has radically improved our living standards and well being. In authoritarian countries in which the state has a monopoly on industry, progress comes to a halt. But when individuals are able to compete with each other for business, products and services are radically improved, as the greatest minds collaborate to invent even better ways of doing things.

Advancements driven by capitalism in healthcare and medicine have resulted in huge increases to life expectancy around the world. In the last 80 years, life expectancy has doubled in the United Kingdom, and child mortality rates are falling globally (sadly, Venezuela is an exception to this trend).

In less economically developed countries, child labour is more common, but in countries such as the UK, which have embraced capitalism, children are spending more time in education. If you’re looking for more evidence of how free markets and capitalism have improved our way of life, this article by my colleague Ben Ramanauskas goes into great detail.

Of course living longer is not necessarily an indicator of happiness. But if, like me, the thing that makes you happiest in this world is spending time with the people (and dogs!) you love, then living in a country with an advanced economy with longer life expectancy and better healthcare is of paramount importance, as well as the amount of leisure time you have available.

Technology has been both a blessing and a curse in that respect. Whilst automation has enabled us to spend less time on manual tasks, smart phones and email correspondence means that many of us are working more in our free time. I’d be interested to read a more detailed report on working habits as a result of recent technology. But looking at the general trends over the last 100 years, its estimated that the hours worked over the course of a lifetime in Britain have declined by an average of 41 per cent since 1856. Whilst this may differ across various professions, this means the average Brit has more time to spend with friends, family, and exploring non-work related interests.

It’s important to note that economic growth alone cannot provide the conditions for a flourishing society and happy population. For example, the rule of law, religious freedom, freedom of speech, and a respect for the rights of the individual have all contributed to the huge improvements to living standards in the Western world. But the reason we are living in relative paradise compared to other countries and to previous generations is because capitalism and trade have super-charged human progress and technology.

Whilst the Government is not solely responsible for your happiness, there is a role for policy makers to allow for the conditions which will best enable you to pursue your own happiness. If those who govern declare that economic growth is no longer a priority, and adopt an anti-growth, anti-business and interventionist agenda in the name of ‘promoting well-being’, then they may find they achieve the exact opposite of what they set out to do.

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Andrew Napolitano: Mueller didn’t try to indict Trump because he knew Barr would never let him do so

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Does this explain Mueller’s mystifying punt on obstruction? Surely he read the strange unsolicited memo that Barr sent to Rod Rosenstein last year, arguing at length that the president can’t be charged with obstruction when he’s exercising a lawful power granted to him by the Constitution (e.g., firing the director of the FBI). He must have realized that Barr would have overruled him had he tried to indict Trump on those grounds. And he may have feared that Barr also would have overruled him if he tried to indict Trump on other grounds, like witness-tampering, possibly on the theory that the only tribunal constitutionally empowered to officially accuse the president of a crime is the House of Representatives.

Faced with the prospect of a sensational, wrenching public clash with the new AG over the outcome of the Russia investigation, maybe Mueller balked. He’s an institutionalist, after all. He led the FBI for more than a decade and worked for the DOJ in different capacities off and on for years before that. He maintained a stony silence throughout the process in the apparent belief that prosecutors are supposed to speak only through the facts they’ve gathered. If it came out that he had recommended indicting the president and that Barr had thwarted him, whatever’s left of the DOJ’s reputation as an institution that stands apart from politics would have been incinerated. And it would have been to no avail on Mueller’s end: Barr’s the boss, so his view would have carried the day.

But what about Barr’s own suggestion from yesterday, that Mueller could have accused Trump of a crime without indicting him? Would Barr have let Mueller get away with that if Mueller had tried it? Not everyone thinks so:

Either way, it may be that Mueller figured his best shot at getting Barr to be transparent with the report was to refrain from accusing Trump of anything. Simply state the evidence and withhold judgment on whether Trump’s actions amounted to obstruction. If Barr ended up stepping in and ruling that Trump wouldn’t be charged, that’s fine from Mueller’s standpoint. The report was designed to persuade Congress and the public that Trump obstructed justice, I think, not the Attorney General or the DOJ. By taking the path of least resistance on obstruction, Mueller may have achieved his goal of making sure that members of Congress got to see (most of) his work.

By the way, here’s an interesting catch by anti-Trumper Benjamin Wittes. Barr was asked by CBS about his summary of Mueller’s report and said this:

Asked about the fundamental difference between his and Mueller’s views on what the evidence gathered during the Russia probe means, Barr said, “I think Bob said he was not going to engage in the analysis. He was not going to make a determination one way or the other. We analyzed the law and the facts and a group of us spent a lot of time doing that and determined that both as a matter of law, many of the instances would not amount to obstruction.”

“As a matter of law?” Crawford asked.

“As a matter of law. In other words we didn’t agree with the legal analysis, a lot of the legal analysis in the report. It did not reflect the views of the department,” Barr said. “It was the views of a particular lawyer or lawyers and so we applied what we thought was the right law.”

That’s not what Barr said last month, notes Wittes. He claimed at the time that he applied Mueller’s view of the law in analyzing obstruction, not his own:

Maybe Mueller punted on obstruction because he suspected Barr … just wasn’t going to be a square-dealer when it came to accusing the president. If the deck was stacked against Mueller, the only thing to do was to appease Barr by declining to accuse Trump of anything and focus instead on making sure that the report itself was made public. Mission accomplished.

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