December 2017 Archives

One of President Trump's least-heralded accomplishments has been the significant number of American prisoners held abroad that he has brought home.

"Immediately after President Trump took office, he told Secretary [of State Rex] Tillerson to prioritize bringing home Americans who've been wrongfully detained or held hostage in foreign countries," State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told Fox News in an email. "We are proud that we've been able to secure the release of several Americans as a result of U.S. diplomatic efforts."

While the administration has been successful in securing the release of numerous Americans held abroad, officials noted there are at least 10 other U.S. citizens - like Joshua Holt in Venezuela - who are being wrongly detained.

Good work for the President and the State Department.

"Eat, drink, and be merry" -- tomorrow is the other party's problem.

It's hard to remember that just a couple of decades ago, our government did do something about the deficit, other than make it worse. First under George H.W. Bush, and then under Bill Clinton, Congress and the president worked together to pass major deficit-reduction bills that actually tried to put the finances of the country on a reasonably stable long-term footing. These bills were not very popular; the first may have cost Bush re-election. But they were what responsible government looks like.

Nowadays, with our entitlements crisis much closer, both parties seem to have chosen the slogan "Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we may die!" Entitlements costing more than we take in in tax revenue? Obviously, we need to make them even bigger! Taxes too low to cover all our spending commitments? Cut taxes! The idea seems to be that if you can push through your pet programs now, by the time the reckoning comes, they'll be too popular to touch, and the other guys will have to find some way to pay for all your goodies.

How's the new meritocracy working out? We have the worst governing class in American history. Maybe we're stuck in a local maxima that we can't escape without a significant jolt to the system.

Rich Lowry writes that Trump has a string of successes in his first year as president.

Republicans have tried, on and off, to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for oil drilling since the 1980s. The effort has always engendered intense opposition and always been abandoned. A provision for drilling in ANWR is included in the Republican tax bill almost as an afterthought.

Republicans took a constitutional fight against ObamaCare's individual mandate to the Supreme Court in 2012, and lost. They targeted it in their ObamaCare repeal-and-replace bill earlier this year, and lost. They tried again with a last-ditch "skinny repeal" bill, and lost yet again. Repeal of the individual mandate is also included in the Republican tax bill.

As the year ends, President Trump is compiling a solid record of accomplishment. Much of it is unilateral, dependent on extensive executive actions rolling back President Barack Obama's regulations, impressive judicial appointments and the successful fight against ISIS overseas. The tax bill is the significant legislative achievement that heretofore has been missing.

Say what you will about his personal flaws, but Trump has delivered the most success for conservatives of any president in a long, long time.

Planned Parenthood partners have settled a lawsuit alleging that they sold baby parts. The settlement will put them out of business in California.

According to the settlement signed Monday, DV Biologics LLC and sister company DaVinci Biosciences LLC, both based in Yorba Linda, must cease all operations in California within 60 to 120 days. The agreement also requires the companies to admit liability for violations of state and federal laws prohibiting the sale or purchase of fetal tissue for research purposes, prosecutors said.

Also named as defendants in the settlement were company principals Estefano Isaias Sr., Estefano Isaias Jr. and Andres Isaias.

"This settlement seized all profits from DV Biologics and DaVinci Biosciences, which they acquired by viewing body parts as a commodity and illegally selling fetal tissues for valuable consideration. These companies will never be able to operate again in Orange County or the state of California," Dist. Atty. Tony Rackauckas said in a statement.

So yes, Planned Parenthood and its affiliates do kill babies and sell their parts.

Andrew McCarthy argues that Mueller's special councel investigation can't possibly prove a conspiracy if it can't prove an underlying crime.

Rosenstein did not identify a crime because he did not have one. There are two reasons for this, but we have focused myopically on the wrong one: the fact that contacts between Trump associates and the Russian regime do not prove they conspired together in an espionage scheme. That simply shows that Mueller does not have a case. The more basic problem is that he cannot have a case. Russia's espionage operation cannot be proved beyond a reasonable doubt, so it will never be possible to prove the Trump campaign colluded in it.

Let's concede that there is some evidence -- not much, but some -- of contacts between Trump associates and operatives of the Russian regime. On its face, this is not incriminating -- no more than the fact of contacts between the Clinton camp and the Russian regime. What would make the Trump-Russia contacts criminal would be indications that they facilitated Russia's cyberespionage operation against the 2016 election.

So far there's no evidence that Trump or his surrogates illegally conspired with Russia to "steal" the 2016 election, despite their unsavory behavior. (Certainly no worse than the DNC's sponsorship of the Steele Dossier.) The longer Mueller's special counsel investigation continues, the more it looks like an attempt by the disrupted political establishment to cover their collective ass. The WSJ lays out the facts.

The Washington Post and the New York Times reported Saturday that a lead FBI investigator on the Mueller probe, Peter Strzok, was demoted this summer after it was discovered he'd sent anti- Trump texts to a mistress. As troubling, Mr. Mueller and the Justice Department kept this information from House investigators, despite Intelligence Committee subpoenas that would have exposed those texts. They also refused to answer questions about Mr. Strzok's dismissal and refused to make him available for an interview.

The news about Mr. Strzok leaked only when the Justice Department concluded it couldn't hold out any longer, and the stories were full of spin that praised Mr. Mueller for acting "swiftly" to remove the agent. Only after these stories ran did Justice agree on Saturday to make Mr. Strzok available to the House.

This is all the more notable because Mr. Strzok was a chief lieutenant to former FBI Director James Comey and played a lead role investigating alleged coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 election. Mr. Mueller then gave him a top role in his special-counsel probe. And before all this Mr. Strzok led the investigation into Hillary Clinton's emails and sat in on the interview she gave to the FBI shortly before Mr. Comey publicly exonerated her in violation of Justice Department practice.

Oh, and the woman with whom he supposedly exchanged anti-Trump texts, FBI lawyer Lisa Page, worked for both Mr. Mueller and deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe, who was accused of a conflict of interest in the Clinton probe when it came out that Clinton allies had donated to the political campaign of Mr. McCabe's wife. The texts haven't been publicly released, but it's fair to assume their anti-Trump bias must be clear for Mr. Mueller to reassign such a senior agent.

It's frankly astonishing to me that no substantial Trump wrongdoing has been uncovered, but despite numerous investigations that appears to be the case so far. Our political class keeps digging itself deeper into its hole, and somehow manages to make Trump look good.

Ann Althouse is right that you can't criticize Trump without understanding his humor.

What I'd say is: Those who want to do anti-Trump humor need to understand that Trump himself is a comedian. I'm not saying Trump is just a clown, and it's crazy that we made a clown President. I'm saying, whatever his worth as human being carrying out the duties of the presidency, he is also a comic talent, with many humorous insights, great timing, and -- like the greatest comedians -- he's challenging us to see what's funny and what's serious as he mixes it up and causes anxiety that we can relieve if we climb out of the ocean of confusion and onto the island of laughter.

You don't have to like any given comedian, and a comedian who wields tremendous political power is going to fail to amuse most people. In fact, whatever your politics, you're not going to be a very funny comedian if you just think of the President as a wonderful humorist and laugh at his jokes. But you should understand the way in which he means to be funny and project yourself into the minds of the many people who do respond to his humor. You should do this, not because he deserves respect, but because it's the foundation for writing better humor yourself.

Trump's supporters understand and appreciate his humor, not least because finally they are not the butts of presidential jokes.

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This page is an archive of entries from December 2017 listed from newest to oldest.

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