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Congressional Bank Robbery: Republicans Cave on Everything and Leave Town

What a way for the GOP-controlled Congress to end the legislative mandate given to them in 2014. It can truly be said that whereas Democrats are the Navy SEALs of political combat, Republicans are the NAVY SEALs of political capitulation. They managed to give Democrats everything they wanted in both houses, got it all passed by violating their own rules, and left town to campaign for re-election so they can … er … well … ahh … beat Democrats and … er … well … enact some more Democrat policies.

The Senate voted first Wednesday afternoon and passed the budget continuing resolution (CR) 72-26. Only 14 of the 54 Republicans voted no, and presumably, not all for conservative reasons. The 14 GOP noes were as follows:

Corker, R-Tenn. (F, 45%)
Cruz, R-Texas (A, 97%)
Flake, R-Ariz. (F, 49%)
Graham, R-S.C. (F, 30%)
Heller, R-Nev. (F, 57%)
Inhofe, R-Okla. (C, 72%)
Lankford, R-Okla. (D, 69%)
Lee, R-Utah (A, 100%)
Paul, R-Ky. (A, 92%)
Perdue, R,-Ga. (C, 73%)
Risch, R-Idaho (C, 76%)
Sasse, R-Neb. (A, 94%)
Scott, R-S.C. (B, 89%)
Sessions, R-ala. (C, 78%)

This bill funded every major Democratic policy priority with no meaningful limitations on a single illegal, abusive, or harmful executive action taken by the president. It contained no limitations or reforms to Obamacare, Planned Parenthood funding, Obama’s transgender bathroom mandate on the states, sanctuary cities, or DACA amnesty. What was particularly disturbing about this blank check is that the timing of the budget deadline coincided with two new harmful unilateral policies of the Obama administration: the giveaway of oversight over internet IP addresses to a foreign entity and a net increase in refugee admission for the new fiscal year — all on top of the existing increase in refugees from the Middle East during a time of grave homeland security concerns.

The budget bill also reflected Obama’s spending priorities instead of the spending figures reflected in the Republican budget. It wasted $1.1 billion on Zika funding that was unnecessary and funded Planned Parenthood with those extra funds. While one expects compromise with divided government, this blank check was truly breathtaking in completely reflecting Democrat values — as if Republicans had no control over Congress.

And in fact, things have gotten worse since Republicans won control of the Senate in 2014. Whereas before 2015 Harry Reid only controlled the Senate, now he controls both the Senate and the House. At least when Democrats controlled the Senate, the House had to pretend to put up a fight. Now they just follow McConnell’s, R-Ky. (F, 42%) lead, which is Reid’s command.

Thus, the House rolled over and slammed the bill on the floor without three days to consult with the members. Rather than working with conservatives to craft a Republican bill, House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisc. (F, 53%) and Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif. (F, 38%) sandbagged their members with Reid’s, D-Nev. (F, 2%) steaming pile. The CR passed the House by a 342-85 margin. Only 75 Republicans voted no, a mere 30 percent of the House GOP Conference.

Adding insult to injury, House Republicans also gave in to the final demand of Democrats by passing a massive federalized water bill, which added new programs without cutting existing ineffective programs or devolving programs that are not national in scope to the states. Over 100 Republicans joined with Democrats to add a bailout for Flint, Michigan to the water bill, even though there is already ample state and federal funding to fix Flint’s water problems.

Then, the Congresscritters summarily got out of town before the night ended. As if to say, “our work is done.”

In some sense it would be a saving grace if this was the end of the 114th Congress. If they will not use their power to check and balance the other two branches, at least do no harm. Unfortunately, by having this bill expire in December, Republicans gave Harry Reid one more election-year present — a lame-duck session with massive spending bills and jailbreak legislation. And with December being his last month before retirement, one could only imagine Reid’s demands of Republicans in order to afford them the privilege of his acceptance of their capitulation.

Republicans will now campaign in their respective states and districts by inveighing against the broken system in Washington and a Democrat Party that is dangerous for our national security, spends too much money, and grows government. Time will tell if their constituents fall for it. (For more from the author of “Congressional Bank Robbery: Republicans Cave on Everything and Leave Town” please click HERE)

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GOP Elite’s Ultimate Goal Is to Elect Democrats

To the GOP elite, tactics are bad only if they’re used to damage the Democrats.

Last fall Rand Paul R-Ky. (A, 92%) predicted the end of Ted Cruz’s political career blaming Cruz’s “personal relationships or lack of personal relationships” in the Senate. Cruz, Paul explained, has no way of getting anything done because of his tactics: calling out leadership for its dishonesty and in doing so, violating the unofficial rules of the Senate.

When Ted Cruz R-Texas (A, 97%) demanded the defunding of Planned Parenthood, senators like John Cornyn R-Texas (F, 44%) and Kelly Ayotte R-N.H. (F, 32%) lambasted his tactics for daring to use must-pass budget legislation to accomplish his goal. Cruz pleaded with Republican senators to stand together and fight for principles, but they weren’t interested. National Senatorial Republican Committee Chairman, Roger Wicker R-Miss. (F, 30%) criticized Cruz’s approach saying, “I just don’t know if this is the ditch we need to die in.” In the end, Republican opposition to Cruz’s efforts left the abortion giant — caught butchering and selling baby parts for profit — alone and even stronger.

Sen. Bob Corker R-Tenn. (F, 45%) spoke disparagingly of Cruz after the infamous Obamacare defunding filibuster, saying that Cruz’s tactics amounted to grandstanding and prematurely drawing attention to what the Senate was doing. Heaven forbid.

Like many fellow Republicans who vigorously tried to tamp down the tea party, Steve LaTourette (may he rest in peace) equated Cruz’s tactics to lobbing bombs, and he wished Cruz would leave the Republican Party.

Members of the media, academia, and others often repeat what GOP critics say about Cruz. For example, one commenter for the news outlet, McClatchyDC made a familiar, sweeping argument against Cruz. Mark Jones of Rice University said, “Many in the GOP establishment resent his grandstanding and tactics which they believe have negatively affected govern-ability in the United States and adversely affected the Republican Party’s image among swing voters.”

Okay, we get it. It’s the tactics they don’t like. They won’t stand for principle because of tactics: unseemly tactics, scary tactics, unheard of tactics.

On Fox News’ “Special Report with Bret Baier,” George Will said he has no intention of voting for Trump. Not only did Will publicly announce that he has left the Republican Party, but he also told the GOP to ensure Trump loses:

BRET BAIER: Hillary Clinton … seems to be going after disaffected Republicans in big ways, and is having some success according to the polls. Is it concerning for the Democratic Party on the progressive side, watching Hillary Clinton make those moves?

GEORGE WILL: Well they had to expect this, it’s a classic move that you move to the left in the primaries if you are a Democrat, and to the center to scoop up an enormous potential audience. Mitt Romney had 93 percent of Republicans voted for him, and Donald Trump has down around 60, maybe 70 at this point, that simply will not get him to the White House. I think they understand where her heart is, that she is probably more progressive instinctively than her husband was, and will understand this is tactics.

Will wants to reassure progressives who might be alarmed that Hillary is pursuing (and getting) Republican voters: Don’t be alarmed. It’s a tactic for Hillary to go after them, just as it’s a tactic that Republicans are willing to vote for her and raise money for her as well. After all, according to Will, we have to, “make sure Trump loses.” It’s an interesting list of people who feel similarly as Will.

Former GOP EPA chiefs are voting for Hillary, for they are obviously aligned with Obama’s coal-industry- crushing agenda and happy to help Hillary keep the boot on their (and our) necks.

Former Romney staffers are voting for Clinton.

GOP Congressman Richard Hanna R-N.Y. (F, 27%) is voting for Hillary. (Interestingly, he is the only Republican Planned Parenthood supports.)

Meg Whitman, who lost in the California gubernatorial race to the spectacularly bad Jerry Brown, is not only going to vote for Hillary, but she’s also going to fundraise on her behalf. Meg’s last job was to be part of Chris Christie’s finance team.

The Washington Post has compiled a list of nearly 50 beltway GOP who believe Hillary is vastly superior to Trump and plan to support and vote for her.

Just in case anyone was wondering who to blame if Trump loses, it’s these so-called Republicans who are coming out of the woodwork praising Hillary and shouting to the rooftops that they want to exercise their American privilege to vote for her.

These are the same cowards who made sure that there was minimal opposition to Obama for the past eight long years. They condemn tactics meant to expose and create backlash against Democrats while praising tactics that would elect the worst Democratic candidate who could become president. These cowards — and those like them — are what the current leadership of the Republican Party and columnists friendly to their worldview really want as model members, precisely because they are what the Democrats want.

They support Hillary because they won’t be hurt by it. But we, the American people, will. (For more from the author of “GOP Elite’s Ultimate Goal Is to Elect Democrats” please click HERE)

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GOP Judge Laments SCOTUS Hasn’t Fully Codified Transgenderism Into Civil Rights

After years of our side agreeing to the premise that courts have the final say over all political issues, in 2015 the judiciary hit rock bottom and redefined marriage, the building block of civilization. If nothing is done to fundamentally reform the entire judiciary, the courts, within the next few years, will fully codify transgenderism and every other form of de-civilization into the 14th Amendment and the Civil Rights Act. This will force all states, government employers and even private citizens to accommodate all sorts of disruptive behavior – all under the guise of furthering civil rights.

In addition to illegally overturning basic election integrity laws in Kansas, Wisconsin and North Carolina last week, there was another important case in the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals that is worth mentioning. On Thursday, Judge Ilana Rovner, a GOP appointee to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, bemoaned the lack of a Supreme Court ruling fully codifying transgenderism into all aspects of anti-discrimination laws. Although she ultimately exercised self-control and stopped short of siding with the plaintiff who was alleging discrimination on account of her “transgender lifestyle,” nonetheless, Judge Rovner wrote a 40-page sexual identity polemic winking and nodding at the legal profession to go ahead and complete this final social transformation. Noting that “the writing was on the wall,” she used the old tactic of building upon existing insane case law bastardizing the intent of the Civil Rights Act and asserted that it is now incongruent not to take that law to the next frontier. This is the very culture of the legal profession’s one-directional ratchet away from sound constitutional and statutory jurisprudence I warn about in chapter 1 of Stolen Sovereignty.

Here is Rovner’s punchline:

Perhaps the writing is on the wall. It seems unlikely that our society can continue to condone a legal structure in which employees can be fired, harassed, demeaned, singled out for undesirable tasks, paid lower wages, demoted, passed over for promotions, and otherwise discriminated against solely based on who they date, love, or marry. The agency tasked with enforcing Title VII does not condone it, (see Baldwin, 2015 WL 4397641 at **5,10); many of the federal courts to consider the matter have stated that they do not condone it and this court undoubtedly does not condone it (see Ulane, 742 F.2d at 1084). But writing on the wall is not enough. Until the writing comes in the form of a Supreme Court opinion or new legislation, we must adhere to the writing of our prior precedent, and therefore, the decision of the district court is AFFIRMED. [some legal citations omitted]

First, it’s important to remember that the Supreme Court is not on an equal playing field to Congress in defining Title VII, which was enacted in the ‘60s to stop the existing discrimination in the workforce against African Americans. The Supreme Court has no power to absurdly rule that Congress designed civil rights for transgenderism and somehow apply it retroactively to the 1960s. Yet, evidently even a GOP judge believes such a court-made power exists. Taken together with the Fourth Circuit already codifying transgenderism into Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, now mandating that members of the opposite sex be allowed in school bathrooms, this is gay marriage legal hocus pocus all over again. The lower courts are goading Justice Anthony Kennedy into taking the plunge into the abyss of judicial Gomorrah. There is no doubt as to how he would rule if and when these cases reach the eminent tribunal.

This is why we will never fix the courts conventionally simply by trying to appoint better judges. Sure, there are some better tactics we can employ relative to past GOP presidents in ensuring more Republican appointees share our view of the Constitution, but fundamentally the entire legal system is broken. Moreover, it would take years to even turn the tide of the circuits, and by then, all of this will be codified into the Constitution. We are now at the point when an individual can engage in any sort of behavior and assert civil rights based on an immutable identity. We are coming close to a time when a person can come into work fully nude or assert they are a trans-human and hide behind civil rights or the 14th Amendment. Justice Kennedy already wrote in Obergefell that a person has “the right to define and express their identity” as it relates to securing state benefits. There is no floor to this insanity if we don’t put a stop to it soon.

The courts have declared war on our society, representative democracy and our Constitution. It’s time to respond in kind and strip them down to their original job of interpreting the laws, not remaking the laws, the Constitution and the most immutable laws of nature and Nature’s God. (For more from the author of “GOP Judge Laments SCOTUS Hasn’t Fully Codified Transgenderism Into Civil Rights” please click HERE)

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Meet the GOP Billionaire Behind the LGBT Push

It is not surprising that those seeking to advance the LGBT agenda would work through left-leaning organizations, but one billionaire who has his eye on millennials has begun partnering with Hobby Lobby and its Museum of the Bible. Paul Singer has been targeting Republican candidates, lawmakers and the Republican Party platform. Now, he is reaching out to Christian students on college campuses.

Singer has an elaborate funding and organizational scheme that appears to support Christians and gain their goodwill while at the same time working against them to advance his same-sex marriage and LGBT agenda. One of the organizations Singer heavily funds created false propaganda that was published in the Washington Post by editorial board member Jonathan Capehart.

Purporting to show an interconnecting “enemies of equality” network, Capehart’s article is based entirely upon a chart created by Freedom for All Americans. Capehart refused to respond to multiple attempts to set the record straight. As an out homosexual who regularly appears on MSNBC, truth about LGBT issues must not matter to Capehart.

The chart and Capehart’s article depicting a vast “right wing conspiracy” are false. The chart also makes false allegations about Liberty Counsel and the other named people and groups. But, as will be discussed below, the inclusion of Hobby Lobby raises special attention to Singer’s activities and reveals how he uses a well-known Christian organization.

Billionaire New York hedge-fund manager Paul Singer and Tim Gill are behind Freedom for All Americans, which produced the false propaganda. Singer and Gill, the founder of Quark, are leading financial supporters of same-sex marriage and the LGBT agenda. Singer is also behind the American Unity PAC, which works to elect pro-LGBT advocates to public office, and American Unity Fund, a 501(c)(4) lobbying organization whose mission is to advance the LGBT agenda. This group hosted a “Big Tent Brunch” at the Republican National Convention featuring Montel Williams, Bruce “Caitlyn” Jenner, elected officials and delegates. (Read more from “Meet the GOP Billionaire Behind the LGBT Push” HERE)

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The GOP Wants to Repeat This YUGE Mistake of the Great Depression

In a section of the recently released 2016 Republican Platform titled “Regulation: The Quiet Tyranny,” the Party of Lincoln endorses re-imposing a regulation that would impact trillions of dollars’ worth of assets.

“We support reinstating the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 which prohibits commercial banks from engaging in high-risk investment” state the document’s supposedly capitalist drafters, who ironically castigate President Obama for “regulating to death a free market economy that he does not like and does not understand.”

You can’t make this stuff up.

The part of Glass-Steagall to which the authors are referring concerns the ability for banks to provide both commercial and investment banking operations under the same roof. Prior to the passage of the then-President Bill Clinton-supported Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA) of 1999, such combinations were largely verboten.

In the wake of the financial crisis and recession of 2007-2009, in a classic case of beginning with a narrative and looking for any points, no matter how tenuous, to back it up, Democrats contended that deregulation namely in the form of GLBA caused banks to take risks that crashed the financial system.

What commercial banks combining with investment banks had to do with a massive, government-fueled bubble in the housing sector, Glass-Steagall proponents have trouble explaining.

Republicans apparently have bought into the Democrat’s narrative and insist that it is their right to determine what risks are appropriate for banks to take, and restructure industries wholesale by government fiat.

When judging a piece of legislation like Glass-Steagall, it pays to look at what motivated the bill’s drafters to implement it in the first place.

The Heritage Foundation’s resident financial regulations guru Norbert J. Michel outlines this history in a piece that the Republican Platform authors appear to have ignored:

Glass–Steagall has attained near mythical status for securing a vital separation between commercial and investment banking in the U.S. Supposedly, this separation put an end to the risky financial activities that contributed to the Great Depression. Yet, the record shows that separating commercial and investment banking was little more than a long-time pet project of Senator Carter Glass, one of the original authors of the Federal Reserve Act of 1913. Glass viewed securities investments as a purely speculative activity and in virtually no way a legitimate commercial endeavor. Consequently, he believed that the only way to ensure bank safety was to restrict bank lending to short-term financing of commercial activity.

One reason this idea is flawed is that there was no general prohibition—before or after Glass–Steagall—against commercial banks providing operating loans to investment banks. That is, the firms engaged in the very speculative activity Glass abhorred regularly borrowed from commercial banks.[33] Regardless, the record shows that Glass had no empirical evidence to support his opinion. The definitive historical study of Glass-Steagall shows that “the evidence from the pre-Glass-Steagall period is totally inconsistent with the belief that banks’ securities activities or investments caused them to fail or caused the financial system to collapse.” In fact, the evidence suggests that pre-Glass–Steagall banks engaged in securities activities were safer than those exclusively engaged in commercial banking.

In light of the facts and evidence, and given the other nominally pro-free market designs in the Republican platform in paying lip service to sound money, abolishing Dodd-Frank and ending Too Big to Fail, the insertion of a line about reinstating Glass-Steagall is somewhat baffling. If Republicans even vaguely understand that the best constraint on banks like all other businesses is a market that punishes them for destroying value and rewards them for creating it – rather than socializing losses and privatizing profits – than why might they have included such an incongruent clause?

The cynic might point to some good old-fashioned extortion. Could it be that Republicans are in effect threatening existing business models in the financial services industry in order to entice bankers, traders and executives to pay for the privilege of not having to break up their businesses – that is, contributing to Republican candidates in order to sway them to swear off the reinstatement of Glass-Steagall?

While follow-the-money analysis is often fruitful, in this case such a rationale would seem inapt at first glance, given that members of the finance, insurance and real estate industries have contributed disproportionately to the GOP during the 2012 through 2016 election cycles.

Take a closer look at the numbers however, and you will note that Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is not even in the top 20 recipients during the 2016 cycle from the “killers” on Wall Street, among others in the industry. In fact, according to Open Secrets, he is being outraised by Hillary Clinton at a rate of 49:1, with Clinton hauling $15.6 million thus far to Trump’s paltry ~$318,000.

There are any number of reasons why Wall Street might loathe Donald Trump, including a belief that Hillary Clinton can and will be bought off to protect its interests, while Trump is likely to spurn those with whom he has had contentious business dealings over the years.

Seen in this light, if Trump will never gain the financial service industry’s support, reinstatement of Glass-Steagall makes sense politically in keeping with his populist pose as a means of perhaps garnering the votes of Independents.

Whatever the rationale, Republicans should focus less on breaking up banks, and more on creating a free marketplace whereby financial institutions rise and fall of their own volition, and market participants determine appropriate levels of risk and price it accordingly. (For more from the author of “The GOP Wants to Repeat This YUGE Mistake of the Great Depression” please click HERE)

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How the GOP Senate Is Boosting Obama’s Judicial Legacy

Republican senators consistently accuse President Barack Obama of refusing to follow the law and exceeding his constitutional powers. Yet they’ve been unwilling to draw the line when it comes to giving Obama’s judicial nominees lifetime appointments to the federal bench.

So far in 2016, the Republican-led Senate has confirmed nine Obama judges. And that number could continue to climb when the Senate returns from recess in September as several GOP senators press for action on other Obama nominees.

The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday approved three more Obama judicial nominees, moving them a step closer to lifetime appointments. That makes 27 judicial nominees awaiting action on the Senate floor.

While the most high-profile nomination—Obama’s pick of Merrick Garland for the Supreme Court—languishes without a hearing, the Senate did confirm two other nonjudicial, albeit controversial nominees this year: Carla Hayden won approval to lead the Library of Congress on Wednesday and John King was confirmed as education secretary in March.

Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., pushed for Hayden’s confirmation for a 10-year term at the Library of Congress despite her history of radical left-wing activism, which triggered opposition from Concerned Women for America and Heritage Action for America. She’ll hold the job for nearly a decade after Obama leaves office.

Ten years isn’t nearly as long as a lifetime, though. And because federal judges serve lifetime appointments, Obama’s judges are likely to leave their mark long after he departs the White House.

That concern—coupled with complaints about Obama’s disregard for the Constitution and rule of law—has prompted some Republican senators like Dan Sullivan of Alaska to oppose the president’s picks.

“With regards to judges, these are lifetime appointments, which Sen. Sullivan considers very carefully,” his spokesman told The Daily Signal. “He doesn’t want the courts packed with nominees from a president who does not understand the rule of law and regularly engages in executive branch overreach with no regard for the Constitution or the separation of powers.”

Only two of Obama’s nine judicial nominees have faced significant opposition from Republicans on the Senate floor this year. Wilhelmina Wright received 36 no votes in January and Paula Xinis had 34 no votes in May. Both are now U.S. district judges.

Even before Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s death triggered a fight over his vacancy, Heritage Action, a sister organization of The Heritage Foundation, urged the Senate in January to halt all confirmations of Obama judges.

“President Obama has repeatedly ignored the separation of powers over the past seven years,” Heritage Action CEO Michael A. Needham said at the time. “Given the administration’s disregard for Congress’s role in our constitutional system of government, the Senate should refuse to confirm any more of the president’s judicial nominees.”

While many Republicans agree, the Senate Judiciary Committee has slowly and methodically processed some nominees.

At a hearing for two Obama judicial nominees earlier this week, Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, boasted that he’s held more hearings on Obama nominees than the former Democrat chairman, Sen. Pat Leahy of Vermont, did for President George W. Bush’s nominees in the 110th Congress (49 compared to 47).

Grassley, who is facing re-election in Iowa this year, has fended off attacks from his Democrat opponent by stressing progress on Obama’s judges. “To say that President Obama hasn’t been treated fairly during his presidency isn’t based in reality,” a Judiciary Committee spokeswoman said in May.

Grassley’s decision to keep moving nominees through the Judiciary Committee runs counter to the senator’s complaints that “Obama has exceeded his constitutional powers and failed to uphold the law.” Despite this critique, Grassley has played an active role in cutting deals and keeping the Senate’s executive calendar stocked with nominations.

In December, Grassley brokered a deal between Republican and Democrat leaders for two Iowa judges to get Senate floor votes in exchange for three of Obama’s liberal judicial nominees. The Iowa nominees, Leonard Strand and Rebecca Ebinger, were unanimously confirmed in February. The three liberal nominees included Luis Restrepo of Pennsylvania, John Vazquez of New Jersey, and Wilhelmina Wright of Minnesota. They were confirmed in January, and only Wright faced notable GOP opposition.

Grassley’s spokeswoman did not respond to The Daily Signal’s request for comment.

The other four Obama nominees to get votes in 2016 include Waverly Crenshaw Jr. of Tennessee, Paula Xinis of Maryland, Robert Rossiter Jr. of Nebraska, and Brian Martinotti of New Jersey.

Two of those judges (Crenshaw and Rossiter) had their home-state Republicans pushing for action. Facing pressure from his own conference, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., scheduled floor votes—despite his own misgivings about Obama. McConnell, for instance, led the Senate’s rebuke of Obama’s executive actions on immigration by citing his disregard for the Constitution.

“Whether we’re Republicans or Democrats, this kind of partisan overreach should worry all of us—no matter who is in the White House,” McConnell said in a Senate speech in April. “Because not only is the president’s blatant refusal to follow the law an extraordinary power grab, it’s a direct challenge to Congress’s constitutional authority—and a direct attack on our constitutional order.”

Since delivering those remarks, however, McConnell has allowed votes on four Obama judges who won confirmation to lifetime appointments. He’s also voted for all nine Obama judges, one of only three GOP senators to do so. (Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Orrin Hatch of Utah are the other two.)

According to a report in Politico, several more confirmation votes could follow if Sens. John Cornyn, R-Texas; Pat Toomey, R-Pa.; and Hatch are able to convince McConnell to schedule votes on their home-state nominees.

The one thing that could stop them is a longstanding Senate tradition of pausing on judicial confirmations as the president’s term nears its end. Known as the Thurmond-Leahy rule (after former South Carolina Sen. Strom Thurmond and Leahy), it is an unwritten rule that typically kicks in around summer recess. That starts Friday when the Senate adjourns until September.

If the Senate were to take no further action during the next six months of Obama’s presidency, he will have secured confirmation of 329 judges. By comparison, Bush had 312 confirmed at this point in his second term. (For more from the author of “How the GOP Senate Is Boosting Obama’s Judicial Legacy” please click HERE)

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Rumors of a GOP Senate Demise Have Been Greatly Exaggerated

“Extremely careless.” That phrase from FBI Director James Comey about the Democratic Party’s presumptive presidential nominee’s mishandling of classified information was immediately seen as a millstone around the necks of Secretary Hillary Clinton and Democrats up and down the ballot.

However, weeks before Comey’s press conference, the June NBC/WSJ poll, which provides apples-to-apples comparisons going back to the 1990s, poured data-driven cold water on the down-ballot wipeout that has been the stuff of Democrats’ dreams for months.

Polling data is one of several stubborn realities undermining the conventional wisdom that the Republican majority is in more trouble than it would be in any competitive election year.

First, Republicans are better positioned in June 2016 than they were at the same point in the past three election cycles.

According to the NBC/WSJ data, the Republican generic presidential ballot was stronger in June 2016 (D +3) than it was in June 2008 (D +16), ahead of the last open election. More germane to the senate map, the generic congressional ballot is the strongest it has been in any of the last four election cycles, with the parties tied at 46 percent. In June 2014, the GOP lagged by two points, one point in June 2012, and nine points in June 2008.

Second, Clinton and Trump are polling neck-and-neck in key senate states.

Elections come down to a handful of key states, and many marquee senate races are being fought in states where the top of the ticket is close. Secretary Clinton’s vulnerabilities among Rust Belt voters are a major liability in Ohio and Pennsylvania, and in must-win New Hampshire, a recent Franklin Pierce University/Boston Herald poll had Clinton and Trump tied in the state where she lost to an avowed socialist by 22 points.

The Real Clear Politics polling average has the top of the ticket race within the margin of error in the four presidential battleground states with competitive senate races: Florida (Clinton +3.4), Pennsylvania (Clinton +2.5), Ohio (Clinton +3), New Hampshire (Clinton +2.7).

Clinton coattails are clearly non-existent – hence the resounding silence from most Democratic senate candidates following Comey’s blistering criticism – and her deep unpopularity could even prompt ticket-splitting among reluctant Clinton voters eager to put a check on her potential power.

Third, the Democratic party remains deeply divided.

A recent Bloomberg poll showed a staggering 55 percent of Bernie Sanders supporters saying they would not vote for Clinton in the general election. While that number will certainly decrease before Election Day, Sanders’ expected endorsement of Clinton is reluctant in the extreme, and according to the New York Post, up to one million left-wing protesters are preparing to disrupt the Democratic convention.

In 2010 and 2012, Republicans suffered from a spate of contentious primaries, resulting in unelectable candidates emerging from the fray. That narrative has played out on the other side of the aisle in 2016, with candidates like Ohio’s Ted Strickland and Illinois’ Tammy Duckworth forced to the left on tough general election issues like gun control and energy by liberal primary challengers that cost them time and money to dispatch.

Finally, candidates matter.

Never have supposed star recruits so utterly failed to live up to the hype as the Democrats’ sought-after senate candidates in Florida and Pennsylvania. Establishment groups spent nearly $5 million to drag Katie McGinty, a bureaucrat with a revolving door problem, through another contentious primary, only to have her claim to be the first in her family to attend college immediately exposed as a lie. Another DSCC primary pick, Florida’s Patrick Murphy, has had his inflated resume methodically torn apart by a series of investigative reports, to the point where Salon called him a “disaster candidate.”

Politico recently described the Democrats’ senate-winning strategy as “be boring,” which explains why candidates like Maggie Hassan in New Hampshire and Catherine Cortez Masto in Nevada are running dull campaigns that have been criticized for relying on canned talking points. Aside from completely abandoning the “hope and change” mantra, the strategy is an odd one for a field of challengers, as voters looking for a safe or predictable candidate tend to favor incumbents.

Republicans, on the other hand, have a strong slate of candidates built primarily of standouts from the class of 2010 with a record of tangible successes to run on, like passing a five-year highway bill, reforming Medicare’s payment system so seniors can keep their doctors, and combatting the opioid epidemic ravaging rural communities.

No matter how you slice it, the battle for the senate will be extremely competitive. But by all means, Democrats should continue to believe they have it in the bag. (For more from the author of “Rumors of a GOP Senate Demise Have Been Greatly Exaggerated” please click HERE)

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Could the GOP Convention Put Democracy at Risk?

Our nation is based on the idea of “consent of the governed.” When the people vote, they expect those votes will be respected and counted, not ignored.

There is an effort today to toss aside the will of the millions of voters in the Republican primaries to stop Donald Trump from becoming the Republican nominee for president. This effort is truly offensive to those who treasure democracy. If successful, it would guarantee that Hillary Clinton will be sworn into office next January. Even though some very smart people are leading the anti-Trump movement, this idea is very dumb.

Voters showed up in unprecedented numbers to vote for Donald Trump to be the Republican nominee. He received over 13 million votes – the most ever for a Republican candidate. He ended up with 1,542 delegates, almost one thousand delegates more than his closest competitor. Trump drew in scores of new voters to the party, resulting in about two million more people voting in the Republican primaries than the Democratic.

Yet, some in the Republican Party toss aside those numbers because they wet the bed every time a head to head poll has Hillary ahead of Trump. These nervous Republicans need to chill and take a look at the calendar: it is June. The only metrics that matter are what people do on Election Day and Trump’s record during the Republican primaries was one for the books.

Sedition by some lifelong Republicans is afoot. The Washington Post reported on June 17, 2016 that a handful of trouble-making delegates are plotting to sabotage the Republican nominee at the convention next month:

Dozens of Republican convention delegates are hatching a new plan to block Donald Trump at this summer’s party meetings, in what has become the most organized effort so far to stop the businessman from becoming the GOP presidential nominee.

The plan is to secure a vote of “no confidence” in the expected Republican nominee Donald Trump, then to push for another candidate to take the nomination.

David French at National Review Online and Amanda Carpenter at Conservative Review have made the public case for a vote of “no confidence”—for delegates to ignore the will of Republican voters at the convention. I have great respect for Carpenter, but I do have to disagree with her analysis.

Carpenter argues at CR:

The convention’s Rules Committee should allow for a vote of “no confidence” in the GOP nominee. Should Trump not receive a supermajority vote then the delegates should be officially “unbound” and free to vote for the nominee of their choice, ideally a list limited only to those persons who ran for president in 2016.

Carpenter is arguing that after the delegates reach a vote of “no confidence,” they should move to a fight over which failed nominee should replace Trump. The problem is that this will completely destroy any chances Republicans have of winning this fall. The 13 plus million voters who cast a vote for Trump would feel like they have been ignored and disrespected.

David French argues at NRO that not one delegate is legally bound to vote for the candidate they are being sent to Cleveland to vote for:

As a matter of law and history, there is not a single “bound” delegate to the Republican National Convention. Not one delegate is required to vote for Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, or any other individual who “won” votes in the primary process. Each delegate will have to make his or her own choice. They — and they alone — will choose the Republican nominee.

Really? So the delegates are an elite team that can overturn the will of Republican voters? As a political argument, this is folly because all of the Trump voters would be so angry that they would do everything possible to secure defeat for the illegitimate nominee the elites put up. As a legal argument, this is of questionable analysis, because French is saying that the state laws binding delegates are somehow unconstitutional because of the First Amendment. This is one of those legal arguments that will probably never be resolved, because the French wing of the Republican Party will probably lose that fight and the argument will be rendered moot.

But if French is correct, the same can be said of the presidential election. The Electoral College was set up as an indirect way to elect a president. How would French feel if John McCain had won the 2008 election, yet the Electoral College decided that Barack Obama would make a better president? I bet he would have had a different opinion of the faithless delegate/elector had that happened.

Donald Trump won fair and square. Delegates need to suck it up and vote for him. It would be immoral and an undemocratic power grab by the elites if they were to overturn the will of 13 million plus Republican primary voters so they can get revenge against Donald Trump. And it would lead to the three words that should instill fear in any self-respecting Republican: President Hillary Clinton. (For more from the author of “Could the GOP Convention Put Democracy at Risk?” please click HERE)

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The GOP Plan to End Wall Street Bailouts

House Republicans are priming the pump for the next president to overhaul much of the financial regulation enacted in the aftermath of the 2008 global market downturn. The GOP plan would repeal and replace most of the Dodd-Frank financial overhaul with a more market-based regulatory scheme.

As part of the GOP’s “A Better Way Agenda,” House Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, was scheduled to unveil details of the simpler, yet stricter, regulation Tuesday morning at the Economic Club of New York.

“In a phrase,” he said, summarizing the Republican plan in prepared remarks obtained by The Daily Signal, “we need economic growth for all and bank bailouts for none.”

Hensarling blames Washington, not Wall Street, for that downturn.

“It wasn’t deregulation that created the great financial crisis of 2008, it was mostly dumb regulation by the Washington elite,” Hensarling told The Daily Signal on Monday before the speech. “And there were none dumber than those compelling Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to loan money to people for homes they couldn’t afford to keep.”

Originally proposed by President Barack Obama and heralded by proponents as the greatest expansion of government control of banking and financial markets since the Great Depression, the mammoth Dodd-Frank Act of 2010 was supposed to prevent another fiscal crisis.

Named for its principal authors, Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., and Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., the law imposed more government regulation on nearly all aspects of the financial services industry. It passed along party lines: by a vote of 237-192 in the House and 60-39 in the Senate. Neither Dodd nor Frank remains in Congress.

Citing economist Friedrich Hayek’s book “Fatal Conceit,” Hensarling described the law’s 2,300 pages as an example of “Washington’s elite deciding they’re smarter and can somehow manage the economy better than the rest of us.”

Central to the Republican replacement for Dodd-Frank is a regulatory offramp. Under the Hensarling plan, banks that “hold high levels of capital and maintain a fortress balance sheet,” he said in his speech, can escape much of the Dodd-Frank regulation.

Though larger banks would have to raise more capital, Hensarling said, the requirement wouldn’t have much of an impact on the books of smaller, more local lending institutions. Either way, he argued, control remains with the bank.

Hensarling’s plan represents a test balloon, a dry run at achieving permanent reform should a Republican win the White House in November. The newly released plan is just one plank of House Speaker Paul Ryan’s promised “bold, pro-growth agenda.”

Ownership of risk is the biggest difference between the new GOP plan and the Dodd-Frank regulatory scheme, Hensarling told The Daily Signal.

The plan would encourage market discipline, what he described to The Daily Signal as “having your own money at risk as opposed to having a taxpayer backstop which provides privatization of profits and socialization of losses.”

Without government loan guarantees and under the new capital requirements, Hensarling told members of the Economic Club of New York they may see more failure for financial institutions once deemed too big to fail.

In an ironic twist, Hensarling told The Daily Signal, he believes the GOP plan will do away with bailouts—something the Dodd-Frank law purported but failed to do. Instead, the GOP plan creates new avenues for controlled bankruptcy.

Troubled megabanks with more than $50 billion worth of assets would qualify for an entirely new bankruptcy process, not multibillion dollar packages given to lending institutions such as Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, and Morgan Stanley.

“Some large firms will likely become smaller because the credit they now obtain will be priced according to their inherent risk of failure without implicit government guarantees,” Hensarling said in his New York speech. “As a result, failure—when it does happen—will be more contained.”

The Hensarling plan takes steps to more aggressively enforce laws against fraud, self-dealing, and insider trading by instituting new penalties, like doubling and tripling fines in some cases.

It also would change the structure of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a government agency created by the Dodd-Frank that Hensarling described in an advance copy of his speech as Orwellian.

“We know the best consumer protections are competitive, transparent, and innovative markets, vigorously policed for fraud,” Hensarling said. “So the penalties we have in our plan go way further than anything Dodd-Frank conceived of.”

In the current political climate, Hensarling’s plan is a political impossibility. Even if the proposal advanced out of Congress, it wouldn’t make it past the White House.

Last week in Elkhart, Indiana, Obama described any plan to do away with Dodd-Frank as “crazy.”

“I don’t care whether you are a Republican or Democrat or an independent, why would you do that?” Obama said. “Less oversight on Wall Street would only make another crisis more likely … How can you say you are for the middle class and then you want to tear down these rules?”

Hensarling responded by calling the president a “liberal ideologue” and accused him of trying “to turn America into a European social democracy.”

“The ultimate goal of the left is to turn our large, money-centered banks into the functional equivalent of utilities so that Washington can politically allocate credit,” Hensarling told The Daily Signal.

Increased regulation has hurt smaller banks in particular, he said, and the left is “very happy to let community-centered banks wither on the vine.” (For more from the author of “The GOP Plan to End Wall Street Bailouts” please click HERE)

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Is the GOP ‘Whigging’ Out?

With the unbridled enthusiasm of Eeyore, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus is attempting to herd angry constitutional conservatives, tea partiers and libertarians back into the Party fold. Good luck with that. It’s been a long time coming, but presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump looks to be the last straw for the Grand Old Party, the one that will likely and finally break the tired pachyderm’s back.

American history tells us that political parties do, on occasion, die. Today’s political drama reminds me of another party that went through a similar crisis more than 150 years ago: the Whigs.

The Whig Party was formed by Henry Clay, partly in opposition to President Andrew Jackson. The Whigs objected to Jackson’s abuses of presidential power and even called him “King Andrew”. The charge sounds kind of like today’s tea party Republicans railing against President Obama’s use of executive orders to go around Congress. And like modern Republicans, the Whigs were demonized by their opponents for supposedly supporting the interests of big business and the wealthy.

The Whigs weren’t a fringe party. They elected four presidents, and won nearly half of all gubernatorial elections in the 1840s. But it didn’t take long for internal disagreements on the issue of slavery to begin to tear the party apart. The Compromise of 1850, which addressed the expansion of slavery into new territories, infuriated abolitionist Whigs so much so that they managed to block President Millard Fillmore from getting his own party’s nomination for reelection. The split handed the presidency to Democrat Franklin Pierce.

Just four years later, the party had virtually disappeared. Some of the displaced Whigs joined the southern Democratic Party, which at the time supported slavery and states’ rights. In the north, most flocked to the fledgling Republican Party that would ultimately elect Abraham Lincoln. A few joined the short-lived American Party, but never gained any electoral success. Going from having a president in office to being virtually extinct in four years is hard to imagine, but that’s what can happen when a governing coalition so dramatically fractures.

Today, it seems like a similar thing is happening with Republicans. What, exactly, does the GOP stand for? Since Ronald Reagan, Republican rhetoric has defended free enterprise, fiscal responsibility and constitutional limits on government power. But the growing gap between Republican political rhetoric and their actual performance in office seems to have finally fractured that voting coalition. Should Republicanism be about limited government, and economic and personal liberty? Or will Donald Trump’s splenetic populism, the kind that embraces protectionism and the aggressive use of executive branch interventions into market decisions, represent a new political coalition?

There are a lot of reasons why the two major political parties are losing their ability to control the behavior of voters. Technology and social media have given voice to the real diversity of citizens’ opinions and preferences. Those differences were always there, but now the individual’s power to be different can more closely compete with the powerful tools available to party bosses. That means new political realignments can now happen at lightning speed.

This same dynamic has been roiling the Democratic Party as well, where 90’s relic Hillary Clinton continues to struggle against Bernie Sanders’ own brand of splenetic (socialist) populism. But the Democrats have always been better apparatchiks, falling into line behind the party’s nominee. Will they coalesce in 2016 against Donald Trump?

Liberty voters, the ones that once made up the core of the Grand Old Party, are now politically homeless. Will they migrate to the Libertarian Party, or will a new political platform for constitutional conservatism emerge?

Meanwhile, the Republicans whig out. As Abraham Lincoln, the very first Republican President, once said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” (For more from the author of “Is the GOP ‘Whigging’ Out?” please click HERE)

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