Jim Acosta Is the Reason We Have Stupid Warning Labels

Following the legal saga of #AcostaGate, the White House has now put out some ground rules for journalists.

It’s pretty simple: Journalists get one question when called upon, follow-ups are at the discretion of the president or White House official giving the press conference, and when it’s no longer your turn, you hand the microphone over. It’s so simple a kindergartner could grasp it. This short set of protocols seem to be basic rules of conduct for a reasonable human being.

However, most reasonable people wouldn’t conduct themselves like a self-important showboat, as Acosta did at the November 7 White House press conference. No, we’re dealing with a different standard here. It’s the same kind of standard that requires warning labels on products that seem silly, but probably exist because someone did something stupid and then sued when things went badly.

Most people in this world don’t need to be told that packages of peanuts might set off peanut allergies or that they shouldn’t use cleaning chemicals as body wash. For everyone else, there’s a warning label to inform them of how to handle themselves like a functional human being without adverse effects from their behavior.

Yes, it seems there’s always “that guy” who does something that requires either a special safety label, a new rule, or a company-wide safety briefing in its aftermath. For the White House press corps, Jim Acosta is that guy. (For more from the author of “Jim Acosta Is the Reason We Have Stupid Warning Labels” please click HERE)

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Dear TSA, Please Stop Molesting Kids at the Airport

The other day, after slogging through a check-in line at one of the nation’s busiest airports, dutifully removing my shoes and belt and checking my bag and pockets for other potentially dangerous items (water and loose change), I was pulled aside by a crack Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agent so he could further investigate the contents of my carry-on. While waiting, I took this picture of what looked to be a ten-year-old boy being molested by a 250-pound man.

Now, normally I would have reported this incident to the proper authorities. Inappropriate contact with a child, inside or outside his clothing, is a criminal act. But, in this case, the proper authorities were the ones feeling up the kid and the father had already protested the frisking—although, like all of us, he probably understood that no matter how vociferously he objected to this bit of state-sanctioned criminality it wasn’t going to change anything.

Who knows? Maybe the kid had earned the attention of TSA by sporting that Minecraft hoodie? Or maybe his laptop had set off the explosive trace detection machine? Or maybe he was randomly picked. The boy looked innocent enough to me—which might be exactly what the little would-be villain had in mind. When the father inquired, the agent told him, right before touching his son’s crotch, that this sort of thing had become necessary due to drug mules using children.

If you don’t think the terrorists have won, you probably haven’t visited an airport in a while. Not only do these places needlessly gobble up hours of our day and billions of our dollars, but here that we collectively lose all dignity and act like a bunch of automatons just so they’ll let us out of the place. Though sometimes it seems like we might never escape. If we really wanted to slow the caravan from Central American down, we would make them enter through a TSA checkpoint.

It is at those checkpoints that we suspend our disbelief and pretend that (often) disheveled and (very often) rotund government agents who separate us from our water bottles possess the expertise to ferret out terrorist plots. (By the way, is there not a single physical requirement needed to hold this allegedly vital security job? There are many good reasons I’m not a pro-basketball player or a male model. If you’re not in relatively good physical shape, maybe law enforcement isn’t the profession for you. The only way these agents are the “the last line of defense against terrorism” is if the terrorists are unable to squeeze by them to get on the airplanes.) (Read more from “Dear TSA, Please Stop Molesting Kids at the Airport” HERE)

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Swalwell’s ‘Nukes’ Comment Is Exactly Why We Have the Second Amendment

A staunchly anti-gun California Democrat made headlines after he suggested using America’s nuclear arsenal against gun owners who refuse to hand over their hardware.

As reported at Fox News, Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., made the remark on Twitter after another user said that Swalwell wants a war with gun owners: “Because that’s what you would get” with his gun control agenda.

It’s easy to point out how insane it is that a sitting member of Congress is talking about confiscating the property of American citizens and using nukes against those who don’t comply, because it’s pretty insane. Whether or not you believe his claims of being facetious is up you.

But it’s also nice to see an anti-gun politician take the mask off for a moment to remind us what the debate about the Second Amendment is really about and why 2A exists in the first place. The talk about gun control is around these mythical “commonsense” laws that we can put in place that will supposedly make Americans safer through further firearms regulation. “We don’t want to take your guns away,” the argument goes, “we just want some common sense.”

But whenever gun control boosters start talking about these “commonsense” policies, things tend to fall apart when we get down to the details. So far, I’ve yet to run into a proposal that:

1. Is a legitimate policy innovation over what’s already on the books (i.e. isn’t just better enforcement of already existing law or stiffer penalties for breaking it).

2. Passes muster with the Second, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and 14th Amendments.

3. Isn’t completely ignorant of how guns work in the first place (e.g., defining “assault weapons” by common cosmetic features).

4. Would actually deter or reduce mass shootings or gun violence in quantity or severity, rather than just creating more soft targets – by disarming them – for those who were already going to break the law anyway.

This brings us back to the natural end of the gun control movement: bans and confiscation. Ultimately, this is where most anti-gun politicians and professional activists want to end up; those “commonsense” measures are stepping stones.

While some Americans would undoubtedly roll over and acquiesce to such an unjust action, a large number of them wouldn’t give up so easily. That kind of defiance against unjust rule is actually why America exists in the first place, in case anyone slept through the high school history class that covered what happened at Lexington and Concord.

In fact, another small dose of military history might actually help Swalwell understand the situation as well. In order to have to have the kind of “short war” that Swalwell predicts here, the U.S. government probably would have to go nuclear. Those who argue that the military could swiftly disarm the American public seem to forget that the two longest and most unsuccessful military engagements in American history have been in Afghanistan and Vietnam — against dedicated local populations with less sophisticated firepower and training.

But without historical ignorance, the American gun control movement wouldn’t exist at all. And statements and attitudes like Swalwell’s are exactly why the Second Amendment exists in the first place. (For more from the author of “Swalwell’s ‘Nukes’ Comment Is Exactly Why We Have the Second Amendment” please click HERE)

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Let’s Cut to the Chase and Have the Judges Vote for Us

The outcome of elections, like every other national question, is now determined by an assorted sample of unelected federal judges. So why even have elections? At this rate, we should just ask the judges to vote for us.

Courts exist to adjudicate cases under the law. For example, if two companies have a dispute or if I sue my neighbor for damaging my car, we go to court, not to Congress or a state legislature. But if we have a dispute over an issue that determines the outcome of the broadest public policy, cultural, and civic questions, we go to a legislature. That is what distinguishes us as a republic from a judicial version of North Korea. But now the judges are monopolizing the ultimate political question – election law. They are vitiating state law and determining the outcome of all elections – in favor of one party, of course.

What we are seeing in Georgia and Florida is Democrats using the liberal courts to mandate that states accept ballots that are either tardy or otherwise invalid pursuant to state law. Now a judge has ordered the recount in Florida to be extended. Who needs state governments when we have federal judges unilaterally vested with more power than all of Congress and the president put together?

States, not the federal courts, were given control over qualifications and process of elections

All elections must have standards. The Constitution leaves the decisions over the methods, process, and procedures of elections with the states. The structure of the ballots, the nature of the polling stations, the process of absentee ballots, standards governing unclear and anomalous ballots, and verification against fraud are all issues left to the states. The Election Clause (Art. I, §4, cl. 1) does give Congress, not the federal courts, power to intervene when necessary. According to Hamilton in Federalist No. 59, it was only to be in extraordinary circumstances, and it was primarily for the purpose of ensuring that elections are indeed held and Congress is not abolished altogether by the states.

Congress intervened in state election law during the 1860s to ensure that freed slaves weren’t denied the right to vote, and they passed other laws a century later to ensure that the states were complying with the Reconstruction-era constitutional amendments. Aside from those narrowly designed interventions, nothing fundamentally altered the control of states over election matters. Senator Jacob Howard, one of the prime drafters of the 14th Amendment, made it clear during the floor debate in 1866: “The second section leaves the right to regulate the elective franchise still with the States, and does not meddle with that right.”

As Justice Thomas said in Evenwel v. Abbott, “None of the Reconstruction Amendments changed the original understanding of republican government.” And that original understanding as it relates to election law was that states should control the methods and procedures of elections because “it was found necessary to leave the regulation of [federal elections], in the first place, to the state governments, as being best acquainted with the situation of the people,” as Madison said at the Virginian Ratifying Convention.

Thus, we are left, more or less, with the original constitutional design from Art. I §2 and the 17th Amendment – that states control the qualifications of the electors of the electoral college and those who can vote in congressional elections. As Justice Thomas said in Arizona v. The Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, Inc., “It was well understood that congressional power to regulate the “Manner” of elections under Article I, §4, did not include the power to override state voter qualifications under Article I, §2.”

The courts crown themselves king over elections

Over time, Congress did need to ensure that the narrow Reconstruction-era amendments were enforced. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 was designed to combat real discrimination against black American voters during the Jim Crow days of the South. Yet much like the 14th Amendment and other civil rights-era legislation (both in the 19th and 20th centuries), the Left and the courts are twisting the interpretation of the VRA to crush the states. Beginning with the Baker v. Carr decision and in many subsequent decisions, the federal courts have taken over election law from Congress. Even though Art. I §4 gives Congress the power to police the states and even though §5 of the 14th Amendment gives Congress the power to enforce the Reconstruction-era Amendments, the courts always read the word “judiciary” in place of “Congress.”

Many observers thought that the 2013 Shelby County case, wherein the court struck down one provision of the Voting Rights Act, would lead to an era of states having more control over election law. Quite the contrary — it has led to successful lawsuits striking down every aspect of state law. We’ve seen the courts in recent months nullify every Republican redistricting map; mandate weeks of early voting; prevent states from asking for photo ID at the polls or verifying proof of citizenship for voter registration; block states from combatting voter fraud; block states from cleaning dirty voter rolls; and generally require the implementation of any administrative method or procedure of voting that is preferred by Democrats.

The Supreme Court has failed to police these lower courts. Adding insult to injury, the other two branches of government as well as our entire body politic believe any random federal judge can control and vitiate commonsense state election law.

In short, the courts — at the behest of the ACLU — have abused the VRA to ensure that Republicans can never win a close election because they require laws that both favor Democrat GOTV over Republicans and prevent states from combatting voter fraud. Hence, a law that was designed to stop the disenfranchisement of black voters is now used to disenfranchise all citizens — black and white — by invalidating voter ID laws and other measures designed to screen out non-citizen voters and voter fraud.

The notion that the federal government could get involved in the number of days of voter registration and voter qualification issues would have been foreign to our Founders. Even if we defend the continuation of the Voting Rights Act’s interventions because they were needed decades ago to stop Jim Crow laws, it is simply against the spirit of the Constitution for the courts to apply those laws beyond their original intent.

Yet here we are, with the courts vitiating one election law after another to tip the balance of power to Democrats. What they do is create an insurance policy by deliberately getting fraudulent voters, ineligible voters, voters without the proper residency and documentation, erroneously gathered absentee ballots, and even non-citizens to cast provisional ballots up front. Federal law does require states to offer provisional ballots, but states were left to determine the regulations and specific application. That is, until the courts came in and started mandating who must be accepted and under which circumstances.

Consequently, Democrats accrue piles of thousands of ineligible voters throughout an election with absentee ballots and on Election Day with provisional ballots. As soon as they see the results within striking distance, they get a federal judge to mandate the counting of those votes. We are living through an electoral trend of increasingly close races with a polarized country, and unless this judicial supremacy is mitigated, Republicans will lose every important election because of the breakdown of the rule of law and uniform and fraud-proof standards.

Nobody put it better than Marco Rubio:

And indeed, if we are prepared to vest the power of determining the score in the unelected branch of government, we are left with nothing but a judicial North Korea. (For more from the author of “Let’s Cut to the Chase and Have the Judges Vote for Us” please click HERE)

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Yes, Doctors Should ‘Stay in Their Lane’ on Gun Policy

What kind of ignorant troglodyte would tell a doctor to mind his own business?

This was, in essence, the question an incredulous media was asking after the National Rifle Association disparaged the American College of Physicians (ACP) for promoting an array of gun-control regulations last week. “Someone should tell self-important anti-gun doctors to stay in their lane,” the NRA tweeted. “Half of the articles in Annals of Internal Medicine are pushing for gun control. Most upsetting, however, the medical community seems to have consulted NO ONE but themselves.”

The reaction to the NRA’s reply was swift, overwhelming, and widely covered, giving the ACP exactly the attention they desired. (Did I mention these are doctors we’re talking about?) As it turns out, there are a number of very good reasons professional medical groups should “stay in their lane” on public policy. Many of these reasons were accentuated in this very debate.

For one thing, neither internists nor radiologists, by virtue of their career choice, have special expertise in public policy, gun ownership, or the relationship between firearms and the rights associated with them. Speaking about these issues with the authority of an expert is a transparent appeal to authority.

For another thing, the ACP uses its position to create the perception that “doctors”—virtually all of them—believe in one set of policy prescriptions. I have a feeling this isn’t true. Even if it were, though, doctors—physicists, engineers, teachers, business owners, truck drivers, and any other smart human being— are just as susceptible to partisan biases and agendas as anyone else is. (Read more from “Yes, Doctors Should ‘Stay in Their Lane’ on Gun Policy” HERE)

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Republicans Are Missing a Golden Opportunity to Win Voters

Suburban voters don’t want to embrace MS-13, Hamas, drug traffickers, and sanctuary cities while banning drinking straws. Suburban voters didn’t suddenly become rabid socialists and anarchists who join with the Antifa hordes defecating on police cars. Yet the party supporting these things won the House because of backlash against Trump’s persona and the lack of a counter-narrative from Republicans in Congress to define themselves and define Democrats. Voters wanted change and therefore voted for the only change on the ballot, which is the party out of power. It doesn’t have to be that way.

Imagine if we had a Republican party that actually ran on a unified platform of combatting identity theft by illegal aliens, sanctuary cities, drug cartels, and drug traffickers. Imagine a party that relentlessly hung the rising crime and drug crisis around the necks of its Democrat opponents who support releasing drug traffickers from prison and open-border policies that bring the poison into our country? Suburban voters still want safety and security, yet few Republicans ran on that agenda.

Unfortunately, these same Republicans are now going to push the open-borders agenda and weak-on-crime laws rather than fighting Democrats on those issues. Because Republicans are failing to fight them on these issues and force a moment of contention in the public eye, most voters will never know how destructive these ideas are to their communities. Consensus is the worst thing in politics, especially when it endangers the public safety.

As part of CNN’s exit polling, it asked voters whether Trump’s position on immigration was “too tough” or “about right/not tough enough.” Here is a rundown of the results for selected states where Republicans lost ground in the suburbs:

Arizona: 35% “too tough;” 58% “about right/not tough enough”

Texas: 43%-52%

Georgia: 35%-60%

Florida: 41%-54%

Look at those numbers from Arizona. The Grand Canyon State has been beleaguered by open borders, yet Republicans have never fully exposed what Democrats are doing and how they are responsible for the security problems in the state. And remember, the question is loaded because it pegs the issue to Trump, who is unpopular with many suburban voters, not because of the issue but because of his persona. If voters were asked individual questions on the policies divorced from any personality, their responses would be overwhelmingly pro-sovereignty.

Even in states where Republicans performed badly, the majority of voters sided with Trump on the issue of immigration. The question polled at 46% “too tough”-51% “about right/not tough enough” in Nevada. In red states where Republicans failed to fully hit their opponents on immigration, the numbers were even more pronounced. West Virginians polled at 31% “too tough”-63% “about right/not tough enough,” and Montana was at 40%-51%.

As I’ve noted before, Americans in every state want cuts to mass migration, and almost all of them want stepped-up enforcement and an end to sanctuary cities. We could have had an entire legislative and budget fight over this issue headed into the election, but we were sabotaged by McConnell and McCarthy. Sadly, Trump agreed to sign the bill.

Accordingly, at a time of the worst Central American migration crisis and drug crisis, Republicans are incapable of communicating with suburban “security moms” about the basic role of the federal government. Just imagine if they had championed my 25 no-brainer ideas on illegal immigration to protect the security and pocketbooks of American citizens from stolen sovereignty.

Then there is the issue of jailbreak. Republicans are now pushing legislation to let out gun felons and drug traffickers from prison during the worst drug crisis ever and during a time when Democrats are planning an assault on law-abiding gun owners. What an agenda! Flood the country with dangerous criminal aliens and drugs, go soft on crime, and then strip peaceful Americans of their right to self-defense. The polling on this issue is clear. In September, the Foundation for Safeguarding Justice published a very comprehensive survey with straightforward questions eliciting feedback on the current jailbreak proposals pending in Congress. Here is a smattering of the questions and results:

Question: “When thinking about how the federal government deals with convicted defendants, would you support or oppose a proposal to reduce penalties for traffickers in heroin, fentanyl, and similar drugs?”

Results: 74% oppose reductions, including 73% of Independents, 70% of Democrats, 71% of African-Americans, and even 63% of Millennials.

Question: In general, do you think that the federal government is too tough, not tough enough, or about right in its handling of drug trafficking?

Results: 51% said not tough enough, 25% said just right, and just 14% said too tough. Just 15% of African Americans believe we are too tough on drug traffickers, and women voters were more likely to think we are not tough enough than men.

Clearly, the political elites in both parties are living in a different planet. Even in my liberal home of Baltimore County, all of the Democrats who door-knock in the neighborhood pledged to be tough on crime. They are obviously lying, but they clearly understand where voters are on the issue of public safety. Republicans not only betray the principles of their party’s platform, but their political barometer is completely defective.

It’s quite evident that with the prosperous quality of life this generation, the affluent suburbs aren’t as motivated by tax cuts as by safety and security, which also ties into “values.” At a time when they could be drawing a sharp contrast for voters on the most important issues, Republicans are moving in the opposite direction while giving all these newly elected phony moderates in swing districts cover to betray their campaign promises. (For more from the author of “Republicans Are Missing a Golden Opportunity to Win Voters” please click HERE)

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Never Bet Against God

My son’s not a six-footer anymore. After too many parachute jumps with the 75th Ranger Regiment, medics told him his skeleton has compressed by a half inch, and that he’s not getting it back. It probably didn’t do his skeleton (or brain stem) any good to get blasted off a ladder by an improvised bomb, either. Even the routine and repetitive discharge of Army weaponry at the firing range can result in cumulative concussions that complicate questions of free will and moral accountability.

The burdens of defending our freedoms and our country’s strategic interests have never been equally or fairly distributed. But he came home reasonably intact and upright, and is having a great life now as an entrepreneur, inventor, husband and fierce soccer dad on the grassy battlefields of California.

His cousin Jake wasn’t as fortunate. Jake’s mom and dad got his body back from Syria in May. I don’t know much about how he died, but thanks to a remarkably meaty, substantial funeral, and thanks to long talks with his comrades at the wake, I know how he lived.

Not that Jacob Klipsch was ever a stranger to me. I remember him as a freakishly intelligent child. He talked with smart adults all day and I’m not sure he ever learned baby talk. He was so big and so articulate that most people assumed he was much older.

We got back in touch after the invention of email chat rooms. His was a restless intellect. He had not paused from reading broadly and thinking deeply. It was never a superficial conversation with Jacob.

He was at least agnostic, maybe an atheist then. Not a sneering, dismissive secular humanist like I was at that age, but rather a sincerely unconvinced pagan. He wasn’t going to pretend he believed, if he didn’t.

He knew of ancient “god-slaughter” cults with suspicious similarities to Christianity, and was conversant in the Gnostic claims of Roman hanky-panky in the selection of the Biblical canon. I thought he was mistaken, but too smart and inquisitive to stay wrong. He was young, and had plenty of time to sort it all out.

But he was dead by age 36. I felt some panic when I heard he had died, and guilt. Throughout his lengthy funeral, I thought that despite all his virtues and selfless deeds, I’d have to bet he is probably roasting in Hell now, and from now on. We had let the clock run out on Jacob.

But it’s not our clock.

The final speaker at the funeral mentioned in passing that Jake tried to take Communion last Christmas at an ancient Syrian church near the front lines. Anybody sitting behind me at the funeral may have been startled to see my head snap up sharply. It was the only thing I heard all morning that actually matters anymore.

He wasn’t able to get to the church last Christmas, but that’s not the point. Jacob wouldn’t have just gone through the motions. He wouldn’t even consider taking Communion unless he was a believer. I’m sure of that. Glory!

I learned later that he had told his dad that he was operating in “Yahweh’s stomping grounds.” The contested Syrian territory includes Chaldean villages that still speak Aramaic, the native tongue of Jesus. They trace their lineage to Aram, son of Shem, who was on the ark with his father, Noah. It’s from Shem that we get the term Semite. Aram’s brother Arphaxad is the ancestor of Abraham.

Of course it’s ALL Yahweh’s stomping grounds, including the next gazillion galaxies past ours, but I get Jake’s point: Yahweh had worked many judgments and wonders in Syria, according to the Bible. And He wasn’t done yet.

Maybe Jacob was called to Syria, not just to fight for the freedom and human dignity of complete strangers (which God could have accomplished much more efficiently), but for an intimate and unmistakable encounter with Christ, who knows a thing or two about unequally, unfairly distributed burdens. Death was in the offing, but not annihilation. I believe Jacob received something more than a mechanical, algebraic cancellation of sin; he entered the Savior’s lavish hospitality.

I remember the period just before Jacob sought Communion with Christ. It was, for me, a time of unusual spiritual dryness. Now, I like to think of it as a time when the Shepherd left the 99 to seek the lost lamb, the hard-headed one, because He alone grasped how precious that lamb is in the sight of the Father.

Never bet against God.

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The Time to Start on 2020 Primaries Is Today

The general election of 2018 is over. The GOP primaries of 2020 should begin now if we ever hope to build a meaningful majority in Congress.

While disappointed with the results from the House races, conservatives are likely happy that Republicans appear to have netted three Senate seats and flipped the de facto Democrat seat of Bob Corker from Tennessee with the election of Marsha Blackburn. Rather than going back into our caves like a bunch of Election Day groundhogs, we should begin focusing on the 2020 Senate primaries now.

The inconvenient reality for conservatives is that we are nowhere close to a majority in the Senate. More than half of the GOP senators passionately support the amnesty agenda, are weak on crime, never saw a government program or spending bill they didn’t want to expand, are ardent proponents of judicial supremacy, fundamentally adopted the Democrat view on health care, and have generally eschewed any semblance of fiscal or social conservatism the day after they win primaries. Every election year we are stuck with this nonsense of voting for “the lesser of two evils” in November.

This is why it’s so important to start the primary season as early as possible so that we can actually aspire to something greater than the lesser of two evils. We are now as far away as possible from the next general election. Let’s stop this Election Day-only talk of “we can’t let the Democrats win” and actually focus on correcting the problems among our own ranks so that we can actually provide a bold contrast to the other side during the next election. Let’s ensure that Democrat policies don’t win every day from now through the next election and thereafter. There actually is a good theory to voting for any Republican in a general election no matter how liberal they are, simply because we can pressure them with public shaming on the legislative issues and with the threat of a primary challenge. But that is only if we actually stay awake and alert after the election and use that leverage.

Here’s a political aptitude test I’d like you all to take. Pull out two sheets of paper, and on both of them, list at the top the 10 or so most important policy issues – from health care and welfare to immigration, crime, religious liberty, life, education, etc. On the first sheet of paper, just under your top issues list, jot down the number of Democrat senators who dissent from their party’s platform in any meaningful way on a single one of those issues. Now, turn to the second sheet of paper and jot down the number of Republicans who dissent from their party’s platform on major issues.

Your first sheet of paper will likely be blank, while your second sheet of paper will be full before you even scrape the surface of the GOP Senate roster. It might be easier if you simply listed the GOP senators who, indeed, adhere to the platform on all or most of the major issues.

The sad reality is that the liberal Republicans who spend every day undermining the conservative position on a given issue are not just from swing states. Many of them are from states that Trump won, often by wide margins. Democrats don’t have senators who dissent from their party in a meaningful way even from states that are bright red, yet Republicans barely have senators who enthusiastically promote conservatism even from friendly territory.

There’s a unique Senate map for 2020. Unlike this year, most of the senators up for re-election are Republicans. However, the overwhelming majority of them are from red states in a presidential year with Trump on the ballot and likely to carry these states, in most cases, by large margins. God forbid we should actually only nominate conservatives like Democrats only nominate uber-liberals in their primaries. I might get called a “purist” for such a suggestion. But is it too much to ask that we at least try to nominate someone as conservative as, say, a Marsha Blackburn in every state that Trump carried in 2016, or at least the ones he carried by a substantial margin? Do we really need to rubber-stamp the nomination of Lamar Alexander, a passionate supporter of government-run health care and education and open borders, from a state like Tennessee? It would be nice to try to find a Ron DeSantis, but I’ll take another Marsha Blackburn.

Here is just a selection of senators up in red states, as juxtaposed to Trump’s margin of victory and their Liberty Scores:

Is this the best we can do?

Remember, the Liberty Scores don’t fully account for how subversive some of these members are to the conservative agenda. Each one of these members either fundamentally doesn’t share our values on the issues within their respective committee jurisdictions, or they value working with the Left more than with conservatives.

This is evident with many of the committee chairs, such as Lamar Alexander being in charge of health care and education. What about energy? We have Lisa Murkowski as the quarterback on all issues pertaining to energy. She has a 22% Liberty Score and has bought into the global warming agenda. Reform food stamps and farm subsidies? Over the dead body of big spender Pat Roberts. Fighting the Pelosi-led House on budget bills? Good luck approving that idea with go-along-to-get-along Mike Enzi chairing the Senate Budget Committee.

And what about the Judiciary Committee? Guess who is slated to take the gavel from Chuck Grassley? None other than Lindsey Grahamnesty. Yes, I know the clickservatives are now obsessed with him because of his macho talk during the Kavanaugh hearings. Great for clicks on internet videos, but he is still terrible on immigration and crime, two of the main areas of the committee. Almost everyone is good on judicial nominees, but few Republicans are good on immigration, most certainly not Lindsey Graham.

Is pro-abortion and pro-amnesty Shelly Moore Capito the best we can do in West Virginia, one of the most pro-life and pro-sovereignty states in America?

It’s not just their voting record that is a problem. After all, they barely take any votes of substance any more. They are not just votes, but voices for the other side’s agenda on any given legislative battle or news cycle. Just watch what Mitt Romney will do for the Left at every turn now that he’s been elected to the Senate from a state we usually win by 35 points.

Obviously, it’s a monumental task to defeat RINOs in popular primaries driven by money and name recognition, unless we switch to representative conventions. But we can at least begin with open seats. I put Oklahoma on the list because it’s very likely that Inhofe will retire. We should be preparing now. Why shouldn’t we get someone from this state, which gave Trump the vote in every single county, as conservative as the Democrats’ California pick is liberal?

Let’s also keep in mind that often the way to push a member out the door through retirement, thereby opening up the seat, is by threatening a primary challenge. This is likely what paved the road for Corker and Flake to retire this year.

One easy pickup is Alabama. Sen. Doug Jones is up in 2020 and will easily lose to any Republican. What better person to run than Jeff Sessions? With a dearth of leadership in the Senate on immigration and crime (and everything else), Sessions could reclaim his seniority and bump Lindsey Grahamnesty for the chairmanship of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

We must also mobilize to fill the seat of John McCain with someone in the mold of Rep. Andy Biggs, not some McConnell drone who is being prepared to run once interim Sen. Jon Kyl retires.

Political parties are like football teams. All men on the field must be committed to driving the ball forward in the same direction. Could you imagine a team where half or two-thirds of its members are running or throwing the ball in the opposite direction, failing to make catches, too distracted to block the rush, or declining to make tackles? That doesn’t work for a minute. Which is why the GOP, particularly in the Senate, has never worked for conservatives.

Clearly, Senate Republicans, if committed to a smart and winning conservative agenda, can still accomplish a lot against the Democrat-held House if they used the leverage of must-pass legislation. At the very least they can use these moments to expose the radicalism of Democrats elected in red-leaning districts and draw a sharp contrast. But that won’t happen with much of the current roster.

We need to begin building for the future, but that construction will not work if built on quicksand of aimless Republicans from the most conservative states. Let’s say we succeed in winning back the House in 2020, along with the re-election of President Trump. How will we be more successful in the second term than we were in the first two years of this do-nothing Congress if we don’t shake up the Senate? If you are willing to ignore the nature of the Republicans we nominate and merely hope for 60 warm bodies of any stripe with Rs next to their names in 2020, you are high on political heroin. A quick glance at the Senate map in 2020 shows there is no way they could net six Democrat seats or anything close to it. But even if the GOP got 65 seats one year, if we build that majority on quicksand, we will immediately see we don’t even have 51 votes for the critical reforms we want on health care, budget, and immigration.

Here’s the reality going forward: Democrats will have to spend all their time and money on their presidential primary. Republicans won’t have any presidential primary of consequence. Therefore, we should begin focusing on congressional primaries, which begin earlier in a presidential year, now. I would encourage my colleagues that, rather than using their platforms to focus incessantly on the soap opera of the Democrat primary, they should worry about cleaning our own house so that at this time in two years we have a slate of senators to vote for without the clothespin on our noses. (For more from the author of “The Time to Start on 2020 Primaries Is Today” please click HERE)

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5 Reasons Why Conservatives Can Support Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker

Conservatives have many reasons to be optimistic about acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker, following the resignation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Wednesday. Here are five things you should know about him.

1. Positioned well to take the fight to Mueller

Whitaker is a longtime critic of Mueller’s endless Russia probe, which has failed to produce a scintilla of evidence related to Russian collusion. He has previously suggested drastically reducing the budget of Mueller’s special counsel probe, in order to thwart Mueller’s threat to the president’s constitutional mandate. Whitaker has also argued that Mueller has overstepped his authority. As acting attorney general, he will be well positioned to rein in the special counsel.

Mueller is said to be in the process of writing his “final report,” which is sure to be incredibly hostile to the Trump administration and people close to the president. The president may need to have a poised AG by his side when Mueller’s attack dogs once again come after his legitimacy.

2. He takes authority away from Rod Rosenstein

Early indications are that Whitaker has no intention of recusing himself from oversight over the Mueller probe, thereby shifting oversight away from the controversial Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

Rosenstein has several severe conflicts of interest when it comes to the Mueller probe and the Obama administration’s “spygate” efforts against President Trump and his associates. Rosenstein signed off on multiple Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) applications to extend surveillance on Trump campaign aide Carter Page, who was unfairly accused of being a Russian spy. The saga was only one instance of extreme overreach by members of the Obama administration. Rosenstein offered a weak wave-off of his role in the surveillance process, claiming he may not have read the whole FISA application before signing off on it.

3. He’s not afraid to go after the untouchables

The acting AG has in the past said that there is a strong case to “indict” Hillary Clinton for violating several U.S. laws during her government service.

“I believe myself to have been a reasonable prosecutor, and when the facts and evidence show a criminal violation has been committed, the individuals involved should not dictate whether the case is prosecuted,” Whitaker wrote in a 2016 op-ed for USA Today.

He added:

“A reasonable prosecutor may ask, if on numerous occasions, an unknown State Department employee had taken top secret information from a secured system, emailed that information on a Gmail account, and stored the information on a personal server for years, would that individual be prosecuted? I believe they would.”

In a separate op-ed for The Hill, Whitaker vehemently disagreed with fired FBI Director James Comey’s decision to recommend against the prosecution of Hillary Clinton.

4. Whitaker can continue Sessions’ progress on crime and immigration issues

Conservative immigration and crime hawks are in good hands with the acting AG, according to people who know him well.

“[Whitaker] is a strong supporter of President Trump’s agenda on religious liberty, immigration, drugs, violent crime, and protecting the rule of law,” a senior Trump administration official who was not authorized to speak on the record tells Conservative Review.

Andy McCarthy of National Review also has high regard for Matt Whitaker, describing him as “well credentialed and an excellent choice to assume the duties of attorney general.”

5. An acting attorney general can still accomplish a lot

Under the Federal Vacancies Reform Act, Whitaker can serve 210 days without Senate confirmation before the president nominates a permanent attorney general. During that period, and into the confirmation process, he has plenty of time to accomplish the aforementioned tasks. (For more from the author of “5 Reasons Why Conservatives Can Support Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker” please click HERE)

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10 Observations on the Failed Blue Wave

Democrats essentially won a very technical election last night, fueled by several unique factors giving them the advantage in the House this election cycle. These factors were absent in the Senate races and will likely be absent in many of the 2020 House races as well as in the presidential race. There are potential warning signs for Republicans, but a lot of opportunities if they learn the right lessons.

Let’s delve into the key observations. I will try to elaborate on each point in the coming days:

1) Not bad historically for the GOP: It looks like Democrats will pick up roughly 32-34 House seats and flip control of the House with a 10-seat majority. But Republicans picked up three or four Senate seats. Historically, the number of House seats lost is in line with the sort of backlash the incumbent party incurs in a midterm, especially when they control all branches of government. The fact that they were able to win in the Senate and buck the trend is due to the polarized map working in their favor, but also shows that this was not a historic repudiation of Trump. Obama lost 63 House seats and 6 Senate seats in 2010. Republicans lost five governorships last night (Obama lost six), but some of that was due to bad candidate recruitment and overexposure in blue states. They lost seven legislative chambers, not nearly as many as Democrats did and not bad considering the high-water mark they were occupying headed into the election.

2) This was a realignment, not a wave, even though Republicans were on the short end of it in the House and the better end in the Senate. Republicans reached a high-water mark of power in a lot of House seats, governorships, and state legislatures following the 2010, 2014, and 2016 victories. What we saw last night was the natural blowback against the incumbent party, mixed with the completion of the realignment of suburban-rural districts to Republicans and suburban-urban districts to Democrats. Ultimately, the red areas got redder, the blue ones got bluer, and Republicans were on the short end of the battle for swing voters in a midterm. Thus, in the Senate, they won red states (but lost Nevada), but they could not hold enough House seats in suburban territory. There are warning signs for both parties in this dynamic. Republicans are losing in suburban Houston, Charleston, and even Oklahoma City. But Democrats are losing the last of the FDR coalition of blue-collar workers in the traditional Democrat rural areas.

3) Money matters: Unlike previous wave elections, such as 1994, 2006, and 2010, money was a dominant factor. Democrats had the unprecedented advantage of outspending Republicans, often two or three to one, not just in the toss-ups but in a number of relatively safe GOP districts. This is how they put so many districts in play. There’s no question that without the financial disadvantage, people like Dave Brat would have won re-election. Remember, this financial edge will disappear in 2020, when Democrats will have a presidential candidate sucking up all the oxygen and money, not to mention a very open and competitive presidential primary that will drain funds. The bottom line is that money matters a lot, which is ironic given the supposed concern of Democrats about money in politics. There is no way O’ Rourke would have done so well in Texas had he not spent as much money on the Senate seat as presidential candidates used to spend on national races until fairly recently.

4) The top of the ballot killed the GOP in critical states: For voters who hate Trump (and their hate is the primary factor driving their turnout), this election was essentially a presidential election. For all intents and purposes, Trump was on the ballot. We incurred all the liabilities of Trump’s realignment in that sense. But we left too much of his benefit on the table in many parts of the country. Where we had a unified message with good candidates who ran as conservatives and motivated the base, such as Ron DeSantis, we overcame the predicted blue wave. But in states like Pennsylvania, Virginia, New York, and Illinois, Republicans were comatose at the top of the ticket and Trump himself wasn’t on the ballot. Thus, while the blue turnout was in full force as if it were a presidential election, Trump voters (or suburban voters who think Democrats are too radical) were stuck with no options at the top of the ticket. Republicans lost 12 seats just in those four states alone. The wipeout in those states would not happen with Trump on the ballot, assuming his strength remains roughly where it is today. I would argue that had Trump been on the ballot, Republicans would likely have held the House.

By my count, Republicans lost 16 of the 25 Hillary districts they held, but they also lost roughly an equal number of Trump districts. In other words, Democrats relied on the one-sided liability of Trump off the ballot, the financial edge, and anomalies at the top of the ticket to help win in areas they should lose in 2020. Also, remember that Republicans can now target a dozen other incumbent House Democrats in Trump districts in 2020. With Trump actually on the ballot, Republicans will further benefit from the realignment of blue-collar whites against those incumbents.

5) Nothing fundamentally changed for months: The contours of this election were already set within a few months after the last election. Once Trump’s personality became a problem with certain suburban voters and Republicans failed to enact an agenda to inspire them back into the fold, they lost those voters. This was evident in the polling as early as the spring of 2017 and was reflected in the special elections as well as the November 2017 Virginia local elections. The only thing that changed in the GOP’s favor is that its base, which was asleep during the special elections, ultimately came out in force. Some of that was inevitable, and some of it was turbocharged by Kavanaugh. I don’t think Republicans did anything in the past few weeks to fundamentally help or hurt their standing. This liability was baked into the cake a while back.

6) There’s no such thing as lukewarm hell in the era of hyper–polarization and Trump: Had Republicans actually repealed Obamacare fully from day one, actualized the benefits of lower prices, and then had two full years to deal with the entitlement part of it, they likely would have kept the House. Here’s the thing: Republicans have fully incurred the liability of Trump and everything he is perceived as standing for. Democrats threw everything they had at this election and had many anomalous factors working in their favor, including judicial gerrymandering. Republicans only stand to benefit by fully embracing a coherent conservative agenda on immigration, terrorism, crime, and health care to not only jazz up the base and turn out the new Trump voters, but to win back some of those lost suburban votes.

7) Democrats have a very tenuous majority, their worst outcome headed into 2020: If the goal of maintaining the House is to impeach Trump, then control of the House might have been worthwhile for Democrats. But if they had plans to promote winning issues for themselves and win back the White House, this election actually hurt them. They will now have a roughly 10-seat majority fueled by members in Trump-leaning districts who have distanced themselves from Pelosi. As it stands now, roughly a dozen new Democrats have distanced themselves from Pelosi. That is their margin of control. The problem for them is that the rest of the conference is more radical than ever before. They will push these members to either commit political suicide or side with Republicans. Pelosi will offer Trump endless fodder to use in the campaign and an easy punching bag on which to lay blame. In many ways, coming just short of flipping the House would have been the best result for Democrats to win the White House, because Republicans would be even more impotent but still have the liability of being in full control.

8) It’s not too late to rectify the mistakes of the past two years: Just because Democrats have the House doesn’t mean they should win on budget and policy, given that Trump has the veto and Republicans expanded their majority in the Senate. If anything, Pelosi as speaker makes it easier to blame them for the problems. McConnell must lead by passing conservative budgets and engaging in brinksmanship against the House. Stop hiding behind the filibuster. Drive a narrative and draw a sharp contrast with Pelosi. Don’t just confirm judges and do nothing else. Most suburban voters don’t want to ban straws and embrace Hamas and MS-13, but that case needs to be brought to their attention. If McConnell forces issues past the Senate, it will embolden conservatives in the House to drive a wedge between the radical 90 percent of the House Democrat caucus and the 10 percent they need to keep the majority but who don’t want to appear as off-the-wall crazy.

9) We need a new leader in the House: Are we going to continue with the same failed House leadership under Kevin McCarthy? We need Jim Jordan as minority leader for two reasons. First, if McCarthy is allowed to be minority leader, he almost certainly would be speaker if/when Republicans win back the majority in 2020. He will squander the mandate the same way he did in 2016. He doesn’t share our values. Second, even in the minority, Jordan will work to pressure McConnell and convince Trump to fight with the leverage of the other two branches. We already know what McCarthy will do.

As much as last night’s loss of the House was well within the historical trends, it should be noted that the economy is humming and Democrats are extremely radical. There’s no reason we should be losing this badly in this environment, despite the historical trends. McCarthy has been a failed leader. Republicans shouldn’t make the same mistakes as the Democrats by doubling down on their stale leadership.

10) Time to build a better House majority: So many of the House members who lost supported amnesty and Obamacare. We need to work beginning this month on recruiting candidates to win back the majority who, at a very minimum, share our values on those issues. The good news is that almost all of the candidates who lost are the most liberal members of the House. There is a way to recruit smart conservative candidates who can acquit themselves well with suburban voters.

The bottom line is that this election was hyper-technical, asymmetrical, and enigmatic. This places Republicans in a position to rectify their mistakes and walk forward with even more strength headed into 2020. But if they will just continue rubber-stamping Pelosi’s budgets because “we can’t shut the government down” and proceed to pass jailbreak legislation, then we will divide our side rather than unite it and drive a wedge into their side. Conservatives need to mobilize from day one in primaries and on legislative fights. We can’t just be Election Day groundhogs and then go back to sleep. We need to educate voters on the issues with a sustained narrative, pressure wayward Republicans into acting on our positions, draw sharp contrasts, and recruit better candidates at every opportunity. (For more from the author of “10 Observations on the Failed Blue Wave” please click HERE)

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