May 28, 2017

‘Referendum on Trump’ Fails for Dems – GOP Winner in Kansas

GOP SURVIVES FIRST TEST

Kansas state Treasurer Ron Estes held off a stronger-than-expected challenge from Democratic civil rights attorney James Thompson Tuesday night as the GOP won the first special congressional election since President Trump’s inauguration. Estes won 53 percent of the vote to take the seat vacated by CIA Director Mike Pompeo.

FROM THE LOS ANGELES TIMES:

When President Trump plucked conservative members of Congress to fill his Cabinet, it set off a slew of special elections — starting with Tuesday’s contest in Kansas.

These were supposed to be no-brainer affairs.

Trump easily won the Wichita-area district held by Mike Pompeo, now the CIA director, since 2011. The opening offered an easy elevation for the party-picked candidate, Ron Estes, the state treasurer.

But that’s not what happened. Democratic unrest over Trump made this race — and the others coming — a referendum on the new administration.

Democrats have rallied around the underdog, James Thompson, putting him in striking distance.

The political newcomer’s resume made him a candidate to watch: He was homeless as a child, joined the Army and later went to college, becoming a civil rights attorney. He and his wife have one daughter, Liberty.

A Republican loss so early in the special-election season — with an even closer race shaping up next week in Georgia’s 6th District in the Atlanta suburbs — has put the party on high alert.

Trump tweeted support of Estes on Tuesday morning and recorded a robocall, according to the Wichita Eagle.

“Ron Estes is running TODAY for Congress in the Great State of Kansas. A wonderful guy, I need his help on Healthcare & Tax Cuts (Reform),” Trump tweeted.

Top Republican lawmakers, including Sens. Ted Cruz  of Texas and Pat Roberts of Kansas, offered their services.

Losing one seat to Democrats wouldn’t necessarily be devastating for House Republicans. They are in no immediate danger of losing their robust majority.

But a win would carry big symbolism for Democrats, who continue to struggle to find their political footing after the 2016 loss to Trump.

And it could set the stage for the summer as campaigns start forming for the 2018 midterm elections, when Democrats will try to win back seats from the GOP majority in the House and Senate.

In what is sure to be a low-turnout spring vote, the nonpartisan Cook Political Report shifted its assessment of the GOP’s hold on the Kansas seat from “likely Republican” to “lean Republican.”

“Even a single-digit finish in a seat like KS-04 … would portend big trouble for Republicans in next week’s special primary election in GA-06,” according to the Cook analysis. “There is a real chance Democrat Jon Ossoff, who is dramatically outspending the rest of the field while the main GOP contenders turn on each other, could hit 50 percent on April 18 and avoid a runoff. As such, we are moving GA-06 to Toss Up.”

New Global Warming Study, Terrible News for Alarmists, Good News for Plants, Animals and People

A new study published in the highly influential journal Nature suggests rising global temperatures during the 19th and 20th centuries may be linked to greater plant photosynthesis.

The study, conducted by researchers at the University of California at Merced, estimated based on its models “the sum of all plant photosynthesis on Earth grew by 30 percent over the 200-year record captured,” according to an article published on the UC Merced website.

Photosynthesis is the process of converting carbon dioxide into carbohydrates, which power plants, using sunlight.

According to the UC Merced article, “The research did not identify the cause of the increased photosynthesis, but computer models have shown several processes that could, together, create such a large change in global plant growth.”

“The leading candidates are rising atmospheric CO2 levels, a result of emissions from human activities; longer growing seasons, a result of climate change caused by CO2 emissions; and nitrogen pollution, another result of fossil fuel combustion and agriculture,” the article also claims.

In other words, more carbon dioxide, which is being produced by humans at record levels, has improved plant growth, which in turn improves food production for humans and animals.

“The rising CO2 level stimulates crops yields,” said lead researcher Elliott Campbell, a professor at UC Merced.

Campbell said the evidence shows “a fundamental shift in the Earth’s plants” and that “global plant growth should be a central goal for the human race.”

However, don’t too excited, Campbell warns. He says despite the researchers’ findings, which clearly show global warming helps plants—and thus also helping humans and animals—global warming has many negative effects, too, such as causing “climate change, which will increase flooding of coastal cities, extreme weather and ocean acidification.”

The researchers’ study in Nature provided no proof of the claim global warming is caused by humans or that global warming will cause the severe problems Campbell said it will in the quotes provided by the UC Merced article. The study also offered no solutions for reducing greenhouse-gas emissions without causing severe economic and social problems for billions of people.

The study did, however, show increased carbon-dioxide levels have, generally, helped plants and crops.

By  

Gorsuch Sworn in as Supreme Court Justice

Justice Neil Gorsuch was sworn in to the Supreme Court Monday, capping a grueling confirmation process and filling the seat once held by the late Antonin Scalia.

Gorsuch took the Constitutional Oath in a private ceremony, administered by Chief Justice John Roberts in the Supreme Court’s Justice’s Conference Room. He was accompanied by his wife Louise, who held the Bible, and his two daughters.

Later, in a public ceremony at the White House, Justice Anthony Kennedy – Gorsuch’s former boss – administered the Judicial Oath.

“We are here to celebrate history,” President Trump said, calling Gorsuch a man of “unmatched qualification” and “deeply devoted” to the Constitution.

“I have no doubt you will rise to the occasion, and the decisions you make will protect our Constitution today and for many generations of Americans to come,” he said.

Gorsuch takes the seat of the late Justice Scalia, who died in February last year, and whom Gorsuch has been compared favorably to by conservatives hopeful for another originalist on the court.

Gorsuch is likely to cast a deciding vote in a number of high-profile cases, which in part explains the terse and partisan hearing the 49-year-old faced. The high stakes led Republicans to trigger the “nuclear option” last week to kill the 60-vote filibuster threshold for Supreme Court nominees.

Here’s a preview of what Justice Gorsuch will be looking at:

Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Pauley

Seen as the hot-button case of the Court’s sitting, this case involves a Lutheran preschool in Missouri that was denied state funds to improve a playground due to a law banning prohibiting government aid to schools with religious affiliations. Trinity Lutheran and supporters are hoping that, given Gorsuch’s rulings on past church-state issues, he will back them in this one.

Weaver v. Massachusetts and Davila v. Davis

The first case surrounds a 16-year-old who murdered a 15-year-old in 2003, and his lawyers claim his Sixth Amendment rights were violated and he was given inadequate representation after a court kept his family locked out while a jury was selected and his lawyers did not object.

The Davila case involves a Texas gang member convicted of killing a 5-year-old and her grandmother in a shooting. But lawyers claim he was given ineffective counsel, and specifically they question the legal remedies given to capital defendants.

Maslenjak v. U.S.

Justices will hear the case of an ethnic Serb from Bosnia, who was stripped of U.S. citizenship for lying about how she came to the country. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit ruled that a naturalized citizen can be stripped of citizenship in a criminal proceeding based on immaterial false statements. Gorsuch’s record is unclear on immigration issues, and he only ruled on a few in his time on the 10th Circuit.

California Public Employees’ Retirement System v. ANZ Securities, Inc.

This case involves the question of whether certain class-action securities lawsuits can be barred because they were filed too late.

The retirement fund in California has sued various financial institutions over their alleged role in the 2008 collapse of Lehman Brothers.

How the justices rule in this case is expected to have serious consequences for institutional investors and also will determine whether putative class members must file individual complaints before the three-year period imposed by Section 13 of the Securities Act has run out.

Fox News’ Bill Mears and Andrew O’Reilly and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Washington Post Calls Susan Rice a Liar on Syria Chemical Weapons

Former Obama official Susan Rice’s claim just a few months ago that the Assad regime “voluntarily and verifiably” gave up its chemical weapons stockpile earned a full rebuke from a prominent fact-checker on Monday in the wake of last week’s chemical attack.

The Washington Post fact-checker gave the former national security adviser a rating of “four Pinocchios” — the worst rating on their truth scale.

“The reality is that there were continued chemical-weapons attacks by Syria,” the Post wrote.

This was after another fact-checking outfit, PolitiFact, retracted its “mostly true” rating for a 2014 claim from then-Secretary of State John Kerry that “100 percent” of those weapons were removed from Syria.

Rice’s claim, however, was more recent. In January, she told NPR that the Obama administration was able to “find a solution” on Syria that didn’t require the use of force – and still dealt with the chemical weapons threat, using diplomacy.

“We were able to get the Syrian government to voluntarily and verifiably give up its chemical weapons stockpile,” she claimed.

Then came last week’s attack that killed dozens and that the U.S. suspects involved sarin nerve gas. The strike prompted President Trump to launch missiles late last week against the base suspected of being used to carry out the attack.

Rice’s comments about the 2013 agreement to purge the Assad regime’s chemical weapons quickly were called into question, along with the claims of other Obama officials.

The Washington Post noted, “the Obama administration had a tendency to oversell what was accomplished, perhaps because Obama received so much criticism for not following through on an attack if Syria crossed what Obama had called ‘a red line.’”

“The reality is that there were continued chemical-weapons attacks by Syria — and that U.S. and international officials had good evidence that Syria had not been completely forthcoming in its declaration and possibly retained sarin and VX nerve agent,” the Post wrote.

Citing Rice’s exact words, the fact-check column ruled: “She did not explain that Syria’s declaration was believed to be incomplete and thus was not fully verified — and that the Syrian government still attacked citizens with chemical weapons not covered by the 2013 agreement. That tipped her wordsmithing toward a Four.”

FoxNews.com

PALM SUNDAY ATTACKS – 43 Dead, Over 100 Injured in ISIS Bombings

At least 43 people were killed and more than 100 injured in two separate Palm Sunday attacks at Coptic Christian churches in Egypt, each carried out by the ISIS terror group.

The first blast happened at St. George Church in the Nile Delta town of Tanta, where at least 27 people were killed and 78 others wounded, officials said.

Television footage showed the inside of the church, where a large number of people gathered around what appeared to be lifeless, bloody bodies covered with papers.

A second explosion – which Egypt’s Interior Ministry says was caused by a suicide bomber who tried to storm St. Mark’s Cathedral in the coastal city of Alexandria — left at least 16 dead, and 41 injured. The attack came just after Pope Tawadros II — leader of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria — finished services, but aides told local media that he was unharmed.

At least three police officers were killed in the St. Mark’s attack, the ministry told The Associated Press.

ISIS claimed responsibility for the attacks via its Aamaq media agency, following the group’s recent video vowing to step up attacks against Christians, who the group describes as “infidels” empowering the West against Muslims.

The blasts came at the start of Holy Week leading up to Easter, and just weeks before Pope Francis is due to visit Egypt, the Arab world’s most populous country.

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi ordered the immediate deployment of troops to assist police in protecting vital facilities across the country.

President Donald Trump tweeted that he is “so sad to hear of the terrorist attack” against the U.S. ally but added that he has “great confidence” that el-Sissi, “will handle the situation properly.” The two leaders met at the White House on April 3.

“Either a bomb was planted or someone blew himself up,” provincial governor Ahmad Deif told the state-run Nile TV channel, Sky News reported.

The attack in Tanta was the latest in a series of assaults on Egypt’s Christian minority, which makes up around 10 percent of the population and has been repeatedly targeted by Islamic extremists.

Grand Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb, head of Egypt’s Al-Azhar — the leading center of learning in Sunni Islam — condemned the attacks, calling them a “despicable terrorist bombing that targeted the lives of innocents.”

Across the street from St. George, neighbor Susan Mikhail, whose apartment has a clear balcony view of the church and its front yard, said the explosion violently shook her building midmorning, at a time when the church was packed.

“Deacons were the first to run out of the church. Many of them had blood on their white robes,” she told The Associated Press. Later, the more seriously wounded started to come out, carried in the arms of survivors and ferried to hospitals in private cars, she
said.

Pope Francis decried the bombings, expressing “deep condolences to my brother, Pope Tawadros II, the Coptic church and all of the dear Egyptian nation.” Word of the attacks came as Francis was holding Palm Sunday services in St. Peter’s Square.

Both Israel and the Islamic Hamas movement ruling neighboring Gaza also condemned the bombings.

Turkey also condemned the attacks.

Presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin tweeted his condolences and said, “We strongly condemn the heinous terror attacks on churches in Egypt on Palm Sunday today.”

Mehmet Gormez, the head of religious affairs in Turkey, “cursed” the attacks and said they are the shared problem of all humanity.

“The immunity of a place of worship, no matter the religion it belongs to, cannot be violated and the bloodthirsty killing of innocent worshipers cannot ever be forgiven,” Gormez said in an official statement.

Turkey’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs also published a statement denouncing the attack on St. George Church.

“We convey our condolences to the bereaved families and the whole people of Egypt,” the statement said before a second attack hit an Alexandria church.

The bombings add to fears that Islamic extremists who have long been battling security forces in the Sinai Peninsula are shifting their focus to civilians.

A local Islamic State affiliate claimed a suicide bombing at a church in Cairo in December that killed around 30 people, mostly women, as well as a string of killings in the restive Sinai Peninsula that caused hundreds of Christians to flee to safer areas of the country. The group has threatened further attacks.

A militant group called Liwa al-Thawra claimed responsibility for an April 1 bomb attack targeting a police training center in Tanta, which wounded 16 people. The group, believed to be linked to the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, has mainly targeted security forces and distanced itself from attacks on Christians.

Egypt has struggled to combat a wave of Islamic militancy since the 2013 military overthrow of an elected Islamist president.

FoxNews.com/The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Judge Gorsuch confirmed to Supreme Court

The Senate confirmed Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court on Friday, filling the critical ninth seat that has been vacant for over a year and capping a tumultuous debate that saw Republicans overhaul the way the chamber operates in order to overcome what they described as an unprecedented Democratic filibuster.

The 54-45 vote, in which three Democrats crossed party lines to support the appeals court justice, is expected to restore a 5-4 conservative tilt on the bench. Once sworn in, Gorsuch will join the court and begin to hear cases, in the seat once held by the late Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in February 2016.

“He’s going to make the American people proud,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said.

Republicans lauded Gorsuch as an eminently qualified jurist and a fitting successor to Scalia. But Democrats accused him of giving evasive answers during his confirmation hearing, and claimed his past rulings showed a tendency to favor business interests over workers. More broadly, Democrats remain furious that Republicans under McConnell’s leadership blocked consideration of former President Barack Obama’s nominee Merrick Garland, in turn allowing Trump to nominate Gorsuch.

These partisan tensions exploded on the Senate floor this week, as Democrats mounted a filibuster against Gorsuch, prompting Republicans to use what’s known as the “nuclear option” Thursday to force a final vote.

Each party blamed the other for the escalation, accusing the other side of damaging long-standing institutions.

“Damage was done to our democracy,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said Friday. “Raw political power has been exercised to break the rules and norms of this body.”

But McConnell claimed that Republicans only triggered the nuclear option to “restore norms” that Democrats had defied.

Republicans pursued that course after Democrats blocked the nominee on Thursday, denying him the 60 votes needed to proceed to a final roll call. McConnell in turn executed a series of parliamentary maneuvers that resulted in the threshold being lowered to 51 votes. With that standard, Gorsuch easily advanced to the final vote on Friday.

McConnell said he made the move “for the sake of our country.”

McConnell’s predecessor as Senate majority leader Harry Reid, now retired, took the first step down the “nuclear” road by lowering the threshold for other nominees in 2013 – a controversial move Republicans frequently brought up on the road to Friday’s final vote.

But lowering the threshold for a Supreme Court pick is a more significant step. It means for the foreseeable future, the minority party will have significantly less leverage to oppose any nominee to the highest court in the land, no matter who is president.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said there will be “less faith in the Supreme Court” going forward.

Republicans say Democrats have been unfair to an otherwise qualified nominee and have wrongly cast him as an ideologue.

“Rarely has this body seen a nominee to the Supreme Court so well-qualified, so skilled, [with] such command of constitutional jurisprudence, with such an established record of independence and such judicial temperament,” Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said Friday.

All Republicans present voted yes on Friday; Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., struggling with health issues, did not vote. Vice President Pence presided.

The three Democrats who voted for Gorsuch were North Dakota’s Heidi Heitkamp, West Virginia’s Joe Manchin and Indiana’s Joe Donnelly — all moderate Democrats facing challenging reelection bids next year in red states.

Gorsuch is expected to take the oath on Monday.

By Fox News’ Chad Pergram and Bill Mears contributed to this report.

UPDATE–US Launches Missiles into Syria in Response to Chemical Weapons Attack

The United States launched nearly five dozen cruise missiles at a Syrian airfield early Friday in response to a chemical weapons attack that killed dozens of civilians, the first direct assault on the Damascus government since the beginning of that country’s bloody civil war in 2011.

“It is in the vital national security interest of the United States to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons,” President Donald Trump said in a statement. “Tonight I call on all civilized nations to join us in seeking to end the slaughter and bloodshed in Syria, and also to end terrorism of all kinds and all types.”

Fifty-nine Tomahawk missiles targeted an airbase at Shayrat, located outside Homs. The missiles targeted the base’s airstrips, hangars, control tower and ammunition areas, officials said.

Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis said initial indications were that the strike “had “severely damaged or destroyed Syrian aircraft and support infrastructure and equipment … reducing the Syrian Government’s ability to deliver chemical weapons.”

Trump said the base was used as the staging point for Tuesday’s chemical weapons attack on rebel-held territory, which killed as many as 72 civilians, including women and children.

“Assad choked out the lives of helpless men, women and children,” Trump said from Mar-a-Lago, Fla. “Even beautiful babies were cruelly murdered in this very barbaric attack. No child of God should ever suffer such horror.”

The U.S. missiles hit at 8:45 p.m. Eastern time, 3:45 a.m. Friday morning in Syria. Syrian state TV reported a U.S. missile attack on a number of military targets and called the attack an “aggression.”

U.S. military officials said they informed their Russian counterparts of the impending attack in an effort to avoid any accident involving Russian forces. Nevertheless, Russia’s Deputy U.N. ambassador Vladimir Safronkov warned that any negative consequences from the strikes would be on the “shoulders of those who initiated such a doubtful and tragic enterprise.”

Davis, the Pentagon spokesman, confirmed that “there are Russians at the base,” but said they had been warned “multiple times” to leave. He did not know whether Russian aircraft were at the base when the missiles hit.

The U.S. also notified its partner countries in the region prior to launching the strikes.

U.S. defense officials tell Fox that two warships based in the eastern Mediterranean, the USS Porter and the USS Ross, have been training for the past two days to execute this mission.

“Our forward deployed ships give us the capability to quickly respond to threats,” said a Navy official. “These strikes in Syria are a perfect example – this is why we’re there.”

The original plans called for two targets, the airbase and a chemical weapons storage facility. However, Pentagon planners decided late Thursday to target just the airbase.

As a candidate, Trump warned against against the U.S. getting pulled into the Syrian civil war. But the president earlier in the week appeared moved by the photos of children killed in the chemical attack.

“I think what happened in Syria is one of the truly egregious crimes and shouldn’t have happened and it shouldn’t be allowed to happen,” Trump told reporters traveling on Air Force One to Florida earlier , where he was holding a two-day summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Late Thursday, a U.S. government official told Fox News that the intelligence community has high confidence that the attack was carried out by Syrian government aircraft.  The official said the analysis was consistent with eyewitness reports that fixed-wing aircraft launched the strike.

The official described the use of sarin gas in the attack as a watershed. The Assad government had agreed to disband its chemical weapons capability by 2014 under an agreement coordinated with the Obama administration and Russia. Tuesday’s attack was considered a breach of that agreement.

The Turkish ministry of health says the preliminary results show the use of sarin gas. Sarin is a colorless, odorless liquid and is highly volatile moving easily from liquid to a gas, that unlike chlorine which the Assad government has used on a regular basis, does not dissipate quickly. This explains the high number of fatalities. The victims in Syria and Turkey show all the hallmarks of a sarin attack – including twitching, jerking and foaming at the mouth.

Trump’s decision to attack Syria came three-and-a-half years after President Barack Obama threatened Assad with military action after an earlier chemical weapons attack killed hundreds outside of Damascus. Obama had declared the use of such weapons a “red line.” At the time, several American ships in the Mediterranean were poised to launch missiles, only for Obama to abruptly pull back after key U.S. ally Britain and the U.S. Congress balked at his plan.

He opted instead for the Russian-backed plan that was supposed to remove and eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons stockpiles.

The world learned of the chemical attack earlier in the week in footage that showed people dying in the streets and bodies of children stacked in piles.

The U.S. show of force in Syria raises legal questions. It’s unclear what authority Trump is relying on to attack another government. When Obama intervened in Libya in 2011, he used a U.N. Security Council mandate and NATO’s overall leadership of the mission to argue that he had legal authority — arguments that many Republicans opposed. Trump can’t rely on either justification here.

Unclear also is whether Trump is adopting any broader effort to combat Assad. Under Obama, the United States largely pulled back from its support for so-called “moderate” rebels when Russia’s military intervention in September 2015 led them to suffer a series of battlefield defeats. Instead, Obama sought to work with Russia on a negotiated transition.

Trump and his top aides had acknowledged in recent days the “reality” of Assad being in power, saying his ouster was no longer a priority. But the chemical weapons attack seemed to spur a rethink. In Florida on Thursday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said of Assad: “There’s no role for him to govern the Syrian people.”

Fox News’ Catherine Herridge and the Associated Press contributed to this report.

Jennifer Griffin currently serves as a national security correspondent for FOX News Channel . She joined FNC in October 1999 as a Jerusalem-based correspondent. You can follow her on Twitter at @JenGriffinFNC.

Lucas Tomlinson is the Pentagon and State Department producer for Fox News Channel. You can follow him on Twitter: @LucasFoxNews

GOP Pushes Nuke Button, Opening Way for Gorsuch Confirmation

Senate Republicans have voted to stop the Democrats’ filibuster of President Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court, invoking the so-called nuclear option.

Following a precedent set by Democrats under Harry Reid, senators voted 52-48 along party lines to change the Senate’s precedent, lowering the threshold for advancing Neil Gorsuch from 60 votes to a simple majority.

They then immediately voted 55-45 to advance the nominee to a final confirmation vote, which is expected to occur Friday afternoon after thirty hours of more debate.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) initiated the rules change by raising a point of order asserting that simple-majority votes should advance Supreme Court nominees to final confirmation votes.

Democrats tried to delay it by offering motions to postpone a vote and to adjourn the chamber, but both fell short as Republicans remained unified.

Earlier Thursday, McConnell said the rules change would restore the Senate’s tradition of considering a Supreme Court nominee based on credentials instead of ideology–something the Democrats have transformed over a period of decades. He called the Democratic filibuster of Gorsuch “a radical move” and something “completely unprecedented in the history of our Senate.”

“This threatened filibuster cannot be allowed to succeed or to continue for the sake of the Senate, for the sake of the court and for the sake our country,” he said.

McConnell accused Democrats of having steadily ratcheted up the “judicial wars” over the years and noted that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, President Bill Clinton’s pick for the court in 1993, once advocated for the abolishing Mother’s Day but was still confirmed by a 96-3 vote.

The American Bar Association rated Gorsuch as unanimously well-qualified, but Democrats criticized him for not revealing his personal judicial philosophy during confirmation as well as for several opinions they said showed he tended to favor powerful interests over “the little guy.”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) argued that Republicans didn’t have to change the rules to put Gorsuch on the court, and that the more sensible option would have been to ask Trump to pick a new nominee. Of course, his argument is twisted and self-defeating. He said replacing Gorsuch would be fair after Republicans refused to give President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, a hearing or a vote last year.

Republicans said they wanted to seat Gorsuch on the court no matter what it took, praising him as an eminently qualified judge who a decade ago would likely have won strong bipartisan support for confirmation.

Times of have changed since the Senate confirmed Chief Justice John Roberts, who was nominated by President George W. Bush, to the court in 2005 with an overwhelming vote of 78-22.

PUBLIUS, with contributions from

This Easter Morning, Let Us Remember

stone_resurrectionThe New Testament of the Bible contains the story of the life of Jesus Christ. Within its pages is recounted how He was crucified on Friday, and his body was hastily removed from the cross and placed into a tomb hewn into the rock, with very little time to appropriately prepare the body for final burial before the Jewish Sabbath started at sunset.

It was early Sunday morning when Mary Magdalene and other women disciples arrived at the tomb to see the sepulcher and prepare His body. Suddenly there was a great earthquake and an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it. His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow.

The angel said to the women, “Fear not: for I know that you seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is arisen. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.” He then instructed her to go and tell Jesus’ disciples that He was risen from the dead and that He would go before them to Galilee; and there they would see Him.

The others ran to tell the Apostles what they had seen and heard, but Mary stood at the door of the sepulcher weeping. As she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulcher, and saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and the other at the feet where the body of Jesus had lain.

They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?”

empty-tombShe said, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him.”

And when she had spoken she turned back, and saw Jesus standing, but knew not that it was Him. He spoke to her and said, “Woman, why are you crying? Whom do you seek?”

She, supposing him to be the gardener, said, “Sir, if you have borne him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.”

Jesus looked upon her with compassion, and said, “Mary.”

Suddenly recognizing His voice, she turned herself and said to him, “Rabboni,” which is to say, Master.

Mary ran to him and embraced him, but Jesus said to her, “Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say to them, ‘I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.’”

What is the significance of this story nearly 2,000 years later? Each of us must decide its implications and importance for ourselves, and apply its lessons in our own lives as we interpret the message for ourselves. John, the Apostle who recorded this version of the incident gives us his own explanation of why he recorded it: “But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing, ye might have life through his name.”

Let us remember Him this Easter.

James Thompson is an LDS author, political commentator and ghostwriter.

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Gorsuch Wins Senate Panel Endorsement

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted Monday along party lines to endorse Judge Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court, setting up a showdown between Democratic and Republican senators in a series of final votes expected later this week.

The 20-member committee voted 11-9 for Gorsuch, President Trump’s pick for the high court seat left by conservative Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in February 2016.

“The nominee’s opponents have tried to find a fault with him that will stick. And it just hasn’t worked,” said committee Chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, who allowed all 20 members to speak before the final vote. “Judge Gorsuch is eminently qualified. He’s a mainstream judge who’s earned the universal respect of his colleagues on the bench and in the bar. He applies the law as we in Congress write it.”

Despite such praise from the GOP side, all Democrats on the committee voted against the nominee, in a sign of the clash to come as the nomination advances to the full Senate.

The chamber’s Democratic leaders appear ready to try to hold up the nomination through what’s known as a filibuster. Republicans have 52 senators and would need the support of eight Democrats to reach the 60 votes necessary to overcome a filibuster and head to a final vote.

That appears out of reach. Prior to the committee vote, more than 40 Democrats said they were willing to block the Gorsuch nomination — increasing the likelihood that majority Republicans would use the so-called “nuclear option” to push the nomination through.

California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the committee’s top Democrat, returned to her party’s repeated argument that Judge Merrick Garland, former-President Barack Obama’s nominee, should have been considered for the Scalia seat, but leaders of the Republican-controlled Senate held off until after the 2016 presidential election.

Feinstein also revisited a ruling Gorsuch made on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, in Colorado, in which he sided with a company that fired a trucker for disobeying orders by unhitching his vehicle from a malfunctioning tractor-trailer and driving off — after waiting hours for help in sub-zero temperatures.

“So this is not the usual nominee,” she said. “Therefore, I cannot support the nominee.”

So far, just three Senate Democrats have announced support for Gorsuch, a graduate of Columbia University, Harvard Law and Oxford University.

They are Sens. Joe Donnelly, of Indiana; Heidi Heitkamp, of North Dakota; and Joe Manchin of West Virginia — all representing states Trump won in November and all up for re-election next year.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Sunday that Gorsuch nevertheless will be confirmed by Friday.

He was noncommittal on whether he was prepared to trigger to so-called “nuclear option,” a change in precedent that would allow the Senate to break the filibuster with a simple majority of 51 votes.

But on Monday, a Republican colleague spoke bluntly and indicated the party would go that route. South Carolina GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Judiciary committee member, said: “This will be the last person subject to a filibuster. … Ironically, we are going to change the rules … for somebody who has been a good judge over such a long time.”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., predicted Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that Gorsuch would not pass the 60-vote benchmark and argued that Trump should “try to come up with a mainstream nominee.”

Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, a Democrat on the committee, like Feinstein argued that Gorsuch had too often sided against the “little guy.”

“In case after case, he favored corporations, lawyers and the special interest elite … over workers, consumers, people of disability and victims of discrimination,” he said.

Utah Sen. Mike Lee, a Republican on the committee, said Gorsuch likely thought the firing of the trucker was “foolish.”

“But that wasn’t the question before him,” Lee said. “The law, as he carefully analyzed it, would not allow judicial intervention.”

FoxNews.com / The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Unmasked: Obama’s Susan Rice Requested to Unmask Names of Trump Transition Officials

Multiple sources tell Fox News that Susan Rice, former national security adviser under then-President Barack Obama, requested to unmask the names of Trump transition officials caught up in surveillance.

The unmasked names, of people associated with Donald Trump, were then sent to all those at the National Security Council, some at the Defense Department, then-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and then-CIA Director John Brennan – essentially, the officials at the top, including former Rice deputy Ben Rhodes.

The names were part of incidental electronic surveillance of candidate and President-elect Trump and people close to him, including family members, for up to a year before he took office.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, asked about the revelations at Monday’s briefing, declined to comment specifically on what role Rice may have played or officials’ motives.

“I’m not going to comment on this any further until [congressional] committees have come to a conclusion,” he said, while contrasting the media’s alleged “lack” of interest in these revelations with the intense coverage of suspected Trump-Russia links.

When names of Americans are incidentally collected, they are supposed to be masked, meaning the name or names are redacted from reports – whether it is international or domestic collection, unless it is an issue of national security, crime or if their security is threatened in any way. There are loopholes and ways to unmask through backchannels, but Americans are supposed to be protected from incidental collection. Sources told Fox News that in this case, they were not.

This comes in the wake of Evelyn Farkas’ television interview last month in which the former Obama deputy secretary of defense said in part: “I was urging my former colleagues and, frankly speaking, the people on the Hill – it was more actually aimed at telling the Hill people, get as much information as you can, get as much intelligence as you can, before President Obama leaves the administration.”

Meanwhile, Fox News also is told that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes knew about unmasking and leaking back in January, well before President Trump’s tweet in March alleging wiretapping.

Nunes has faced criticism from Democrats for viewing pertinent documents on White House grounds and announcing their contents to the press. But sources said “the intelligence agencies slow-rolled Nunes. He could have seen the logs at other places besides the White House SCIF [secure facility], but it had already been a few weeks. So he went to the White House because he could protect his sources and he could get to the logs.”

As the Obama administration left office, it also approved new rules that gave the NSA much broader powers by relaxing the rules about sharing intercepted personal communications and the ability to share those with 16 other intelligence agencies.

Rice is no stranger to controversy. As the U.S. Ambassador to the UN, she appeared on several Sunday news shows to defend the administration’s later debunked claim that the Sept. 11, 2012 attacks on a U.S. consulate in Libya was triggered by an Internet video.

Rice also told ABC News in 2014 that Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl “served the United States with honor and distinction” and that he “wasn’t simply a hostage; he was an American prisoner of war captured on the battlefield.”

Bergdahl is currently facing court-martial on charges of desertion and misbehavior before the enemy for allegedly walking off his post in Afghanistan.

By Adam Housley joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in 2001 and currently serves as a Los Angeles-based senior correspondent.

NBC’s Chuck Todd Grills Sen Schumer For Hypocrisy to Block Neil Gorsuch

An interview between Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and NBC host Chuck Todd on “Meet the Press” became heated Sunday when Todd pressed the Democratic senator over his opposition to Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch.

Todd began by reminding Schumer of comments a member of his caucus recently made about the Gorsuch situation. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) said last week that she would be voting for Gorsuch, although she still isn’t happy how Merrick Garland was treated by Senate Republicans. But Heitkamp said “two wrongs don’t make a right” and Senate Democrats shouldn’t punish Gorsuch for what happened in the past.

“Why not give Neil Gorsuch an up or down vote, Senator Schumer?” Todd pressed.

Schumer, in typical fashion, completely ignored the question. Instead, he issued a proposal. Schumer said that President Donald Trump and Senate Republicans and Democrats should come together and decide on a “mainstream nominee,” given that Gorsuch will likely not reach the 60 vote threshold needed for confirmation.

“Look, when a nominee doesn’t get 60 votes, you shouldn’t change the rules,” Schumer said. “You should change the nominee.”

Schumer went on to bash Republicans for not holding hearings on Garland last year and said that now that Democrats are in a position to block Trump’s nominee, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) shouldn’t change Senate rules to confirm Gorsuch.

“The other side didn’t get their nominee,” Schumer said. “Sit down and worth with us and we will produce a mainstream nominee.”

But Todd wasn’t buying what Schumer was trying to sell. He wanted to know why Republicans should sit down to work with Democrats when it was Democrats who first used the “nuclear option” in the Senate to bypass the 60 vote requirement.

Schumer responded by saying that he doesn’t regret his support for changing the rules in 2013 to confirm lower court justices — much to the chagrin of Republicans — but said that it would be different if Republicans did it for a Supreme Court nominee. Schumer cited “tradition” of the court in his opposition to changing the rules for Gorsuch.

“Then why did you change the rules in the first place?” Todd grilled.

Schumer didn’t really answer the question and again reiterated his desire for Trump to nominate a more “mainstream” candidate.

Watch the exchange below:

In addition to Heitkamp, Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va) and Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) have said they will vote for Gorsuch later this week.

The Senate Judiciary Committee will vote on Gorsuch’s nomination on Monday and the vote will go to the full Senate later in the week. McConnell said Sunday that Gorsuch “will be” confirmed, but the process by which it happens is up to Senate Democrats.

By

Russia Trolls Democratic Party in Epic April Fools’ Day Prank

Russia is known for many things—communism, vodka and bizarre dancing, for starters—but one thing Russia is not well-known for is its sense of humor. Perhaps that’s about to change.

In what could go down as one of the most interesting April Fools’ Day pranks of all time, the Russian Foreign Ministry posted on its Facebook page an audio file that supposedly showed the agency’s new switchboard message.

The message begins with, “You have reached the Russian Embassy. Your call is very important to us.”

“To arrange a call from a Russian diplomat to your political opponent, press 1,” the recording continues (in both English and Russian). Users are then instructed to “press 2” in order “to use the services of Russian hackers.” For “election interference” requests, “press 3.”

The Associated Press reports—because, apparently, AP felt the need to check—it was able to confirm the recording was meant as a “joke.”

On Thursday, Russian President Vladimir Putin criticized those in the United States who continue to play the “Russian card” to score political points, alluding to the Democratic Party. He also called the accusations of election interference made against his government “endless and groundless,” according to a report by CBS News.

Trump Applauds NYT Report Showing ObamaCare in Trouble

The New York Times appeared to reinforce a claim President Trump recently made about ObamaCare being on the brink of collapse.

In a tweet last week, the president said the Affordable Care Act will “explode” and cause all sides to “get together and piece together a great healthcare plan for the people.”

The Times reported that if the health insurer Anthem leaves the ObamaCare marketplace, it would leave a large swath of Appalachia and parts of the western states without a single ACA insurance option.

A map on the Times’ website shows potential “coverage gaps” in parts of Ohio, Kentucky, Virginia and Georgia, as well as pieces of Missouri and Colorado.

According to the same map, a majority of the counties from Memphis to Savannah are only covered by one marketplace insurer.

Trump nodded to the paper’s findings on Saturday, tweeting that “The failing @nytimes finally gets it – “In places where no insurance company offers plans, there will be no way for ObamaCare customers to use subsidies to buy health plans.” In other words, Ocare is dead. Good things will happen, however, either with Republicans or Dems.”

If Anthem or another insurance company that is the only option in certain areas leaves those counties or states without an ObamaCare marketplace option, it would also mean those residents would not be eligible for federal subsidies to lower their costs.

Parts of Tennessee are already potentially without an insurer next year, the Times points out, because Humana is planning on leaving the marketplace.

Fox News Insider

Washington Post and New York Times have Dropped all Pretense, Out to destroy both Trump and Conservative Movement

This weekend, the NY Times will publish a front-page story on former Donald Trump advisor Paul Manafort. Can you guess what shocking revelation the Times will be sharing with its readers? No doubt it will highlight Manafort’s long-time business activities in Russia, and close with a comment from another ubiquitous anonymous source, reminding the reader that the justice Department is investigating certain Trump advisors and their “alleged” contact with Russians during the 2016 Campaign. You can be sure that the Times article will not mention that this investigation, which is becoming more disturbing everyday, has yet to find the slightest bit of evidence indicating wrong-doing on the part of Trump or his staff. Between the Washington Post and the Times, its beginning to appear as if these two once-respected newspapers are taking turns, publishing stories about Trump advisors or cabinet members, which provide nothing but the same basic allegation, dressed up with the all-important comment from the secret source. Currently, journalists in DC seem to have an endless supply of inside government sources. At first, these leakers caused a firestorm by providing the Associated Press and others with the identity of three Trump advisors or confidants who had met with Russian government officials during the campaign. What should be most disturbing is the willingness of the AP, the Post and the Times, to print information which is obviously classified and illegally obtained.

If the FBI or another government entity finds it necessary to surveille and “listen in” to the conversations of foreign nationals, occasionally that effort will pick up the identity and incidental comments of U.S. citizens as well. Whoever has been given the authority to collect intelligence on the foreign national is required by law to mask the identity of any U.S. citizen who has “inadvertently” picked up in conversation. Before the FBI or whoever are allowed to start the surveillance operation which might involve a U.S. person, they are required to obtained FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) authority from a Judge. Trump’s nominee for Attorney General Jeff Sessions and advisor Michael Flynn were picked up during a FISA-approved collection effort. How can we know this?  Because an anonymous source, probably within the Justice Department, provided this information to a journalist. First and foremost, only a select number of people in Washington DC are supposed to have “unmasking” authority. One of these individuals unmasked both Sessions and Flynn, which gave the media the opportunity to create a firestorm of innuendo and unproven allegations regarding both Trump and Flynn. I have yet to hear one Democratic Congressperson express concern regarding the unmasking of U.S. citizens.

Some things in life are guaranteed. Ice is cold, kittens are irresistible, and the American people have no faith in the mainstream media. Have you noticed that since the GOP has taken over both the Senate and the House of Representatives, the media is anxious to publicize any and all polls that illustrate Congress’ low approval rating? At the same time, you will rarely see poll results on CNN, MSNBC, ABC, or CBS that highlight the complete lack of trust the American people have for the mainstream media. Regardless, journalists continue to have no clue. Even after the fiasco of anointing Hillary Clinton as the winner of the 2016 election while the Campaign was still in full-swing, the media remain convinced of their intellectual superiority over almost all Americans (they probably rank themselves somewhere just below tenured Ivy League Professors). This knowledge burdens them with the heavy responsibility of editorializing every piece of news. From where they stand, the job of a journalist is not only to report the news, but to do so in a selective and nuanced fashion, ensuring that the audience comes away with the “correct perspective.” For the press, the fact that no evidence exists connecting Trump advisors and staff to alleged Russian efforts to impact the 2016 Presidential Campaign, makes it imperative that the American people are reminded, ad nauseam, that the Justice Department has not completed its investigation into this matter.

. . . continue reading this story>>

By Eric Burkhart, Mukhabarat, Baby! Follow me on Twitter @mukhabaratbaby Email me at mukhabaratbaby@gmail.com

Liberals and Climate Change: Do They Walk the Walk?

Giant Carbon Footprint–Tom Cruise exits private jet and enters luxury automobile

Let me tell you about a friendly Democrat family of three, who raised their son—“Matt”—to love and respect the environment. When Matt was a toddler, I remember joining the family for fajitas at the El Real Cafe when, upon seeing a waiter packing our leftovers in a Styrofoam container, Matt threw a fit for the ages, crying out that Styrofoam was bad for the environment.

On every occasion I’ve visited their home and have needed to throw away, for example, an empty beer bottle, I’m invariably reminded of their mantra, “We Recycle Here.” In short, Matt and his family are doing their small part in pursuit of a worthwhile goal; preventing global warming in particular, and helping the environment in general.

As it happens, there’s more to this story. Matt’s family has one enormous house located in a tony suburb of one of America’s largest cities, as well as another, even larger home in the countryside, both kept air-conditioned and de-humidified year-round. They drive the fanciest cars, eat at the fanciest restaurants, and stay at the fanciest hotels when they travel, which is often. I can’t say for sure if they buy carbon offsets, but my gut tells me they do. I’m also sure they believe the scientists who identify humans as the primary driver of global climate change, although I doubt they believe many of those same scientists who note that no amount of money can reverse it.

Discussing ethics with liberals can be tough. While they tend not to respond to arguments featuring universal truths such as those commonly found in the realm of religion, I’ve found a sure-fire way to start such a discussion with a liberal: namely, ask the age-old question, “What would happen if everyone did what you do?” For example, is shoplifting really that bad? Think about if everyone was a shoplifter. Is it unethical to keep multiple McMansions, swimming pools, and foreign luxury cars? Is flying on jumbo jets, eating at Michelin-star restaurants, and staying at luxury hotels unethical? Just ask what would happen if everyone could. In the most literal sense, what if the Earth’s seven billion people consumed as much food, fossil fuel, electricity, plastic, or anything else as does a typical wealthy liberal family? I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that if the masses in India or Vietnam could match that lifestyle, they would do so in a heartbeat.

Mahatma Ghandi, living in apartheid South Africa and frustrated at the unchristian behavior of his Christian contemporaries, famously said, “You Christians are so unlike Christ.” G. K. Chesterton made a similar observation, stating that the only indefensible argument against Christianity was Christians themselves.  It’s been noted time and again the disconnect between the Church of Christ in all its forms to Jesus’ humble and compassionate example.

A similar argument can be directed at modern liberals and the green movement, where the gulf between the Church of Climate Change and the example of its adherents has never been wider. Have you seen the polluted sites of their protests after they leave? To regain their credibility, liberal members of the Church of Climate Change need to look at themselves in the mirror and begin to lead by example. They need to ditch the small-scale changes and focus on the big ones—recycling bottles doesn’t help the environment to a significant degree, but refraining from buying bottled beverages does. Switching your electric company to “Green Mountain Energy” does not make the air cleaner, but turning off the electricity does.

Changes that actually matter. Simply put, the Church of Climate Change must pledge to never again fly in a jet, drive a luxury car, eat red meat, own a private swimming pool, water their lawns, or live in massive temperature-controlled homes. Even disavowing these, they will still live a more luxurious life than 98% of the world. What’s more, they will finally send a message to those who “deny” climate change science that they, the 57% of Americans believing in human-caused climate change, are willing to do their individual part in limiting emissions.

The use of parochial imagery here is no mistake: the “Church of Climate Change” is most certainly a church, based on a shared faith–a dogma really. Take for example one of its more obvious rituals, the annual “Earth Hour.” As part of the event’s solemn rites, residents in thousands of cities worldwide are encouraged to turn off their lights for 60 minutes, to express their solidarity with protecting the environment. Just as many religious rituals lack in substance and offer mostly show, Earth Hour is no exception, especially as highlighted by the example of Las Vegas which, after participating in the event in 2010, ended up using twice as much electricity to power-down and power-up its lights than would have been used otherwise.

Dogma. There is only a single culprit to blame for the environmental degradation espoused by the Church of Climate Change: human progress. In reality, if all seven billion humans on Earth were to live the American dream lifestyle of homes, cars, and Disneyworld, this entire planet would make modern-day Beijing and Bombay appear as appealing as the planet from Avatar.

So find your beloved liberal friends and ask them to take this simple pledge:

“From this day forward, I _________ will never again fly in plane, stay in a hotel, ride in a luxury automobile, live in a large house, or eat red meat. I will live in an efficiency apartment, and only exhale as much CO2 as is absolutely necessary. I will encourage fellow climate change believers to do the same, and together we will create a more verdant future for all.  Amen.”

By Aaron D’Souza

Trump Should Just Ignore Activist Judges Who Oppose His Policies on Political Grounds

Robert Barnes: Trump Could ‘Go Full Andrew Jackson’ and Ignore Interference from Activist Judges

Attorney Robert Barnes joined SiriusXM host Alex Marlow on Thursday’s Breitbart News Daily to discuss his latest Breitbart News column, “Hawaii Obama Judge Rules Muslim Imam Has Special Constitutional Rights to Bring Anyone from Terror Countries into America.”

Marlow asked Barnes to begin by explaining why Trump’s temporary ban on various terror countries was blocked.

“The district court judge in Hawaii, who was a fellow law graduate of Harvard law school with former President Obama – and, in fact, Obama was in Hawaii yesterday before the decision was issued, so some people have speculated on the coincidence of that. But he issued a decision that blocks the ability of anybody to enforce the order anywhere,” Barnes said. “So he went beyond just the district of Hawaii. He said no state can enforce it. Nobody in any part of the country can enforce it. Nobody anywhere in the administration can enforce it. He issued what’s called a nationwide injunction, and it precludes any application of the order, pretty much, on any aspect of the order, pretty much, until there’s further review.”

“His basis for doing so was an extraordinary interpretation of the right to travel and the freedom of association, which before, has only been associated with U.S. citizens,” Barnes continued. “Every court decision in the 200 years prior to this has said that people who are not citizens of the United States, who are not present within the United States, have no First Amendment constitutional rights. The Constitution doesn’t extend internationally to anybody, anywhere, anyplace, at any time. Instead, this judge said it did, as long as you had a university here who wanted to assert, quote-unquote, the foreigner’s rights, or you had some physical person here. In this case, it was one of the leading Muslim imams in Hawaii; he wants to bring over various family and friends from the Middle East.”

“The Hawaii judge’s decision says he has a First Amendment constitutional right to do so because he’s Muslim. It was one of the most extraordinary interpretations of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment ever given, which is that because these are Muslim countries that were banned where the issue of terror arises from that that meant they had a special right to access the country and visit the country,” he said.

“As long as there is somebody here that wants them here, no president can ever preclude them from coming here. He basically gave First Amendment rights to everybody around the world and gave special preferences to people who are Muslim under his interpretation of the First Amendment,” Barnes summarized.

“So it’s an extraordinarily broad order. Its legal doctrine has no limits. If you keep extending this, it means people from around the world have a special right to access the United States, visit the United States, emigrate to the United States, get visas to the United States. There wouldn’t be any limit, and the president would never be able to control our own borders. It would be up solely to the whim of a federal judge who effectively delegated it, in this case, to a Muslim imam in Hawaii,” he contended.

Barnes noted that the judge did not “cite any prior decision” that has ever established this astonishing new quirk of the Constitution.

“Just last year, the Supreme Court implicitly said the opposite, when they said your right to association does not include a right to bring foreigners into the United States, in the Din decision,” he pointed out. “Now, there were several concurrences, so the binding precedent of that has been left open, but he does not even reference or mention or discuss the decision. He doesn’t even mention the statute, the main statute that gives the president the right to ban any alien from the country, for any reason the president deems appropriate, for any temporary time period, that the president yesterday cited in his national speech. Like the prior Ninth Circuit decision, the Hawaii judge never mentions the decision at all.”

“So there’s no real legal precedent. He’s taking three or four different concepts that have been applied in completely different areas of law, that only ever have historically applied to U.S. citizens, and he’s magically adding it to foreigners and acting like that’s always been the case when it’s never been the case,” he said.

“It is a product of what I call liberal law school education that was happening when I was in law school, which is they’re increasingly teaching lawyers to replace objective analysis with their subjective preference, but to pretend their subjective bias was really objective reality, even when it wasn’t,” Barnes said. “They basically taught you to lie to yourself about what the law really was and what it really stood for.”

“Obama reflects that, and this judge deeply reflects that,” Barnes asserted. “He’s someone whose opinion would be taken apart. If it was a first-year law school exam, he would get an ‘F’ because of how badly he misapplied the law. Unfortunately, in the liberal law school mentality, it’s what they’ve taught people to do. This judge, who’s a relatively recent judge, he’s been on the bench a few years, extended it in that way.”

“To give you an idea of how bad it is, yesterday, five Ninth Circuit judges dissented from reviewing the decision about the prior Ninth Circuit decision,” he pointed out. “The prior Ninth Circuit decision effectively became moot when President Trump replace his old executive order with the new one, and these five judges said that prior decision was so bad that they needed to vacate the decision and should vacate the prior decision, even though that’s very rare under those circumstances. They referred to the obligation to correct the ‘manifest many, obvious, fundamental errors’ that went against all the precedent the guy overlooked or neglected in the prior panel decision.”

“It was one of the harshest condemnations ever issued, and one of its authors was former chief judge of the Ninth Circuit Alex Kozinsky, who is regarded as one of the best and brightest judges from anywhere in the country, even though he’s usually more on the liberal side of the spectrum,” he noted. “What they all pointed out is it doesn’t matter what your politics are, the law is clear. There was no basis for the prior Ninth Circuit decision. Well, this Hawaii decision goes further than any court had ever gone before. Hopefully, it will get reviewed and reversed, but in the interim, the country’s safety is put into jeopardy because one federal judge decided to anoint himself the one Supreme Court of the country.”

Marlow asked if President Trump had any recourse, other than waiting for a higher court to overturn the Hawaii decision. Barnes suggested he could “always do a true Andrew Jackson, since he was there yesterday,” referring to Trump’s visit to Andrew Jackson’s grave.

“When the Supreme Court issued a decision, Andrew Jackson’s famous comments were, ‘Well, they’ve issued their decision; now, they can enforce it,’” Barnes recalled. “He was the last president to really challenge a Supreme Court usurping authority they did not have.”

“In this particular context, because it’s a district court decision – Professor Dershowitz even argued this, earlier in the cycle, when the Ninth Circuit even issued its decision – was that because there was a conflict between the courts, because you have a court in Boston that actually approved of the original Trump order, a great detailed order, 21-page order, cited by the five Ninth Circuit judges yesterday – the president would be in his legal rights to say: ‘There’s a conflict between the courts. Until the Supreme Court addresses this, I’m going to do what’s appropriate to keep the country safe,’” he suggested.

“The flip side is if he did that, the media would go on a field day and say the president thinks he’s above the law and is refusing to honor a court order,” he acknowledged. “He’s more likely to wait for this issue to get adjudicated. It ties his hands, unfortunately, and endangers the country in the interim, but politically speaking, he’s sort of put between a rock and a hard place. His only real alternative is to either go full Andrew Jackson or let it play out in the courts, and in the interim, the order is not enforced.”

“You definitely can do impeachment proceedings,” Barnes said when Marlow asked if there was any course of action that could be taken against the Hawaii judge for abusing his authority.

“I do think that all the political pressure put on the courts and all the public criticism by legal scholars and everybody else publicly about these decisions, and how reckless they are, and how dangerous they are to the well-being and safety of the country, and how anti-democratic they are, and how they mirror and reflect the aspects of Obama’s shadow government undermining the government through its Deep State connections and its undemocratically elected officials has real value,” he said.

“That’s even reflected in the decision of the five judges yesterday who were so harsh in the criticism of their former colleagues,” he pointed out. “They mention that the attention drawn to the court is a particular concern to them in jeopardizing the credibility of the court – because, at the end of the day, America’s courts only have power as long as people respect and believe and have confidence in the independence and integrity of those courts.”

“As that gets sacrificed, courts lose power, and we may return back to a time and place where someone like President Trump needs to go back to Andrew Jackson and invoke his tradition and legacy in order to challenge judicial usurpation of the safety and security of the country. At the current time, there’s not a lot we can do without being willing to go full Andrew Jackson against the court system,” he judged.

“Impeachment is always an option in the House. Some congressmen could pursue it because of these judges usurping their authority and invading the security and safety of the country, and violating the tripartite branches of power, where the judiciary is always supposed to have respected the president in this area. But right now, there’s not a lot we can do under the current political and legal environment,” Barnes concluded.

He agreed with President Trump’s contention that this level of judicial overreach was unprecedented.

“When you have law professors like Jonathan Turley or Alan Dershowitz or Jeffrey Toobin saying that the prior Ninth Circuit decision – which did not go as far as this case did, as the Hawaii judge did – saying it basically is bad law, then you know how bad the law actually is,” Barnes said. “It’s law that has no precedent, that has no historical application. For example, the Supreme Court and our Congress banned anarchists from coming into the country. It banned people that were Communists from coming into the country. We have always been able to use just mere ideology as a test.”

“We’ve also favored several religious groups, disfavored other religious groups,” he added, agreeing with Marlow’s example of how the Obama administration treated Christian refugees.

“This Hawaii judge is close friends with Obama, may have met with Obama before the decision was issued, is here condemning President Trump from just trying to keep the country safe as to who can come in. Well, if you apply his doctrine legally, how was Obama drone-bombing Americans and all kinds of people overseas? So you don’t have a right not to be drone-bombed, but you have a right to live next to somebody in the state of Hawaii or anywhere else in the country?” he asked sarcastically.

“There’s no logic. If you start to apply logically all of the consequences of this judge’s ideas, it goes to places that would destroy the whole concept of borders, destroy the whole concept of nationhood sovereignty, destroy the presidential prerogative to destroy our borders. There’s just no limit to where this judge’s decision could go,” Barnes warned.

He said there is no question executive power has been used in a discriminatory fashion against Christians “for almost the entire Obama tenure, particularly the Syrian Christians and others who were being actually harassed and persecuted.”

Barnes said the judicial action against Trump’s revised executive order dispelled the notion his first order was merely worded poorly or rolled out in a clumsy manner. “No, the problem is you have Deep State saboteurs, and you have unelected officials who think they’re above the law try to create the law, try to change the law, try to rewrite the law.”

“The problem wasn’t how he rolled out the prior order. The problem is, the opposition are people who don’t respect democratic elections and don’t respect the limits of their office,” he charged. “This problem is now right center with the way this judge issued his decision and particularly applying it nationally. He prevented every other federal judge, every other federal circuit, from weighing in on the decision because he unilaterally opposed it across the whole country – which both the Supreme Court and the Ninth Circuit have said you’re not supposed to do, in cases just like this,” Barnes said.

“Judges think they can do whatever they want, whenever they want, wherever they want, however they want. The media will celebrate them. Nobody will do anything negative or adverse to them. And the only person pushing back on it is President Trump,” he said.

Breitbart News

Listen to the full audio of the interview above.

Dems Struggle to Stir Up Energetic Opposition to Judge Gorsuch

President Trump’s choice to sit on the Supreme Court will get his turn in the political spotlight Monday after laying low for weeks. But what has traditionally been a high-profile confirmation fight is approaching with barely a whimper from the opposition party.

While Democratic leaders have revived their public criticism of Neil Gorsuch in recent days, liberal advocacy groups have all but abandoned efforts to defeat his nomination through public opinion — with scant paid issue advertising or public rallies.

Many progressives lament Democratic senators have been distracted by other ideological fights.

A group led by NARAL Pro-Choice America recently sent a blistering letter to Senate Democrats slamming lawmakers for not putting up more of a fight against Gorsuch ahead of Monday’s confirmation hearing.

“Democrats have failed to demonstrate a strong, unified resistance to this nominee despite the fact that he is an ultra-conservative jurist who will undermine our basic freedoms and threaten the independence of the federal judiciary,” said the letter. “We need you to do better.”

The justices themselves hope the arrival of Gorsuch will end what court sources say has been a tense 13-month period since Justice Antonin Scalia’s sudden passing. The current 4-4 ideological divide has kept the court off its internal workplace rhythms — operating in something of a judicial vacuum, reluctant to tackle hot-button issues that would lead to precedent-setting impact.

Tough talk

Despite the criticism from some on the left, the Senate minority promises tough questions for the nominee.

“If he shows in his answers that he is out of the mainstream as his opinions indicate he very well may be,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., “I will use every tool available, including the filibuster, to oppose him.”

And some progressive groups support the low-key strategy being led by Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y.

“I think Senate Democrats are paying attention in the way that the American people want all senators to pay attention which is to have a robust hearing and really ask Judge Gorsuch these really difficult questions,” said Elizabeth Wydra, president of the Constitutional Accountability Center. “Whether he will be a truly independent judge, whether he will apply the law fairly to all.”

But while left-leaning groups may be less than engaged, conservative legal advocates have put their money behind their message.

A $10 million ad campaign spearheaded by the Judicial Crisis Network has targeted vulnerable Senate Democrats facing re-election in two years.

“Jon Tester is creating gridlock, threatening to obstruct Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch,” says one ad, focusing on the Montana senator seeking a third term. “Tell Jon Tester: stop the obstruction and confirm Gorsuch.”

Other JCN ads tout Gorsuch’s credentials, and friends of the nominee said he is prepared to face the tough questioning of senators.

His conservative supporters also point to bipartisan support among the legal communities in academia and the government.

“There are going to be people who are ideologically opposed to this nomination come hell or high water, and I think … once [the] American public sees Judge Gorsuch, they realize what a terrific nomination this is,” said Thomas Dupree, a former Bush deputy assistant attorney general. “It’s been difficult  for the opponents of Judge Gorsuch to really stir up resentment and opposition to this nomination precisely because he is so eminently qualified.”

Hearings strategy

Party sources say Democratic senators will focus much of their attention on seeking Gorsuch’s views on abortion, since he has not ruled directly on the right to the procedure.

“I will not support any candidate who intends to turn back the clock on civil rights, including women’s reproductive rights and LGBT equality,” said Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., who has not said whether she would ultimately vote for Gorsuch.

Other areas of Democratic interest:

  • Separation of powers, and whether Gorsuch would be an independent voice to strike down excesses in Trump’s executive authority, including the president’s revised order banning travel for immigrants from certain countries.
  • Voting rights and campaign finance reform, specifically whether the nominee thinks current unlimited corporate donations to PACs are permissible.
  • Workers’ rights, and challenges over pay equity, pension benefits, job discrimination claims, and family and medical leave.

Some progressives have actually urged Democrats not to ask any questions at the hearings, as a dramatic rebuff for Republicans refusing to give former President Barack Obama’s high court nominee, Judge Merrick Garland, a hearing or vote.

And they demand a filibuster to prevent Gorsuch from ever getting a floor vote.

Bitter feelings linger. “This is a stolen seat being filled by an illegitimate and extreme nominee,” said Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., “and I will do everything in my power to stand up against this assault on the court.”

By Bill Mears

BACKFIRE-Trump Paid Higher Tax Rate than Obama, Comcast and Bernie Sanders

With all the talk of President Trump and his 2005 tax return, let’s put what he paid in perspective, shall we?

Trump in 2005 paid a higher tax rate than President Obama and Sen. Bernie Sanders in 2015 and 2014 respectively, as well as a higher percentage than Comcast’s average tax rate. Comcast being the parent company of nothingburger journalist Rachel Maddow’s employer, MSNBC:

 

Maybe we should be thanking Maddow for bringing this to our attention?

Over to you, Bernie. Pay up!

 

And too bad this didn’t get leaked during the campaign:

 

Exit question: When will they admit there’s nothing here?

 

 

AG Sessions Asks Remaining 46 US Attorneys to Resign

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has asked the remaining 46 U.S. attorneys to resign, the Justice Department announced Friday, describing the move as part of an effort to ensure a “uniform transition.”

The department said some U.S. attorneys, as in prior transitions, already had left the department. Now, “the Attorney General has now asked the remaining 46 presidentially appointed U.S. Attorneys to tender their resignations,” a spokeswoman said.

“Until the new U.S. Attorneys are confirmed, the dedicated career prosecutors in our U.S. Attorney’s Offices will continue the great work of the Department in investigating, prosecuting, and deterring the most violent offenders,” the statement added.

It is customary, though not automatic, for the country’s 93 U.S. attorneys to leave their positions once a new president is in office. Incoming administrations over the past several decades typically have replaced most U.S. attorneys during the first year or two.

The Obama administration allowed political appointees of President George W. Bush to serve until their replacement had been nominated and confirmed. One U.S. attorney appointed by Bush, Rod Rosenstein of Maryland, remained on the job for the entire Obama administration and is the current nominee for deputy attorney general.

Sessions’ actions, though, are being closely scrutinized by Democrats after a rocky start to the AG’s time at the DOJ.

Weeks after his tight confirmation vote on Feb. 8, it emerged that Sessions had met twice with the Russian ambassador last year — despite testifying during his confirmation hearing he had no communications with the Russians.

Sessions later clarified his testimony, while recusing himself from any investigation into Russian influence in the 2016 campaign.

The move Friday also comes amid Republican concerns that officials who served under the Obama administration may be working against the Trump administration. Those suspicions, though, largely have focused on intelligence agencies and elsewhere.

U.S. attorneys are responsible for prosecuting federal crimes in the territories they oversee. They report to Justice Department leadership in Washington, and their priorities are expected to be in line with those of the attorney general. The federal prosecutors are nominated by the president, generally upon the recommendation of a home-state senator.

FoxNews.com / The Associated Press contributed to this report.