PowerLine -> John Hinderaker – Trump, Pelosi and Schumer Stage Debate Over Border Security + Kavanaugh sides with Planned Parenthood related cases

PowerLine -> Trump, Pelosi and Schumer Stage Debate Over Border Security + Kavanaugh sides with Planned Parenthood related cases

Daily Digest


  • Trump, Pelosi and Schumer Stage Debate Over Border Security
  • Kavanaugh sides with liberals, Roberts to duck Planned Parenthood related cases
  • Ordeal of the Star Tribune
  • Is it something he said? (6)
  • Macron responds to the yellow vest protests
Trump, Pelosi and Schumer Stage Debate Over Border Security

Posted: 11 Dec 2018 02:37 PM PST

(John Hinderaker)Today Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi visited the White House for a televised meeting with President Trump. The room was full of reporters, cameras and microphones, so the event was staged for the benefit of the press and television viewers. It was described as a negotiation session, but needless to say, no negotiations took place. I’m not sure what Pelosi and Schumer expected to gain, but Trump obviously set out to frame the conversation in terms of border security and the need for a wall and to dominate the discussion. He succeeded, I think.

Pelosi and Schumer disingenuously claimed to be in favor of border security but alleged that a wall is not necessary. No doubt their partisans will buy that approach (and discount the purported interest in border security), but I doubt that anyone else will. Schumer tried to turn the conversation to the prospect of a government shutdown. That led to a dramatic confrontation at the conclusion of the event when President Trump vowed to take responsibility for a shutdown if he doesn’t get funding for a wall.

The one potential gaffe of the staged event was Schumer’s scoffing at the states of Indiana and North Dakota–a gratuitous slam that can’t do his party any good.

Here is the video:

  

Kavanaugh sides with liberals, Roberts to duck Planned Parenthood related cases

Posted: 11 Dec 2018 09:34 AM PST

(Paul Mirengoff)The frenzy surrounding Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination — including, but hardly limited to, the weakly supported charge of sexual assault — obscured the fact that Kavanaugh was by no means the most conservative plausible candidate for elevation to the Supreme Court. In my view, Justice Kavanaugh was likely to be somewhere between Chief Justice Roberts and former Justice Scalia/Justice Alito on the ideological spectrum.

That’s not a bad place to be, and it’s certainly a big improvement over Justice Kennedy. However, it was bound (if true) to leave conservatives disappointed in some cases.

Yesterday, Justice Kavanaugh sided with the Chief Justice and the four liberal Justices in two cases involving Planned Parenthood. The issue in both was whether individual recipients of Medicaid who receive services from Planned Parenthood have a right to challenge under federal law a state’s decision to cut off funding to such providers.

U.S. Courts of Appeals have split on this question. Five have said individuals can bring these challenges; one has said they can’t. Such a split normally leads the Supreme Court to resolve the dispute, but in these cases, it did not.

It takes only four Justices to accept a case for review. With five conservative Justices, all of them socially conservative and pro-states rights, one might have expected the Court to review these cases. However, only three Justices voted to do so.

We don’t need to guess which three. Justice Thomas wrote a blistering dissent from the decision not to take the cases. Justices Alito and Gorsuch signed the dissent.

Justice Thomas noted that “one of this Court’s primary functions is to resolve important matters on which the courts of appeals are in conflict.” The matter in question here is important, Thomas argued, because “around 70 million Americans are on Medicaid, and the question presented directly affects their rights.”

Justice Thomas explained that “if the majority of the courts of appeals are correct, then Medicaid patients could sue when, for example, a State removes their doctor as a Medicaid provider or inadequately reimburses their provider.” Moreover, “because of this Court’s inaction, patients in different States—even patients with the same providers—have different rights to challenge their State’s provider decisions.”

Thomas blamed this confused state of the law in part on the Supreme Court. He observed that lower courts have described the Supreme Court’s shifting decisions as an “evolution in the law,” which is “a tactful way of saying that this Court made a mess of the issue.”

Thomas then took up the question of why the Court won’t clean up its “mess”:

[W]hat explains the Court’s refusal to do its job here? I suspect it has something to do with the fact that some respondents in these cases are named “Planned Parenthood.”

That makes the Court’s decision particularly troubling, as the question presented has nothing to do with abortion. It is true that these particular cases arose after several States alleged that Planned Parenthood affiliates had, among other things, engaged in “the illegal sale of fetal organs” and “fraudulent billing practices,” and thus removed Planned Parenthood as a state Medicaid provider. . . . But these cases are not about abortion rights. They are about private rights of action under the Medicaid Act. Resolving the question presented here would not even affect Planned Parenthood’s ability to challenge the States’ decisions; it concerns only the rights of individual Medicaid patients to bring their own suits.

Some tenuous connection to a politically fraught issue does not justify abdicating our judicial duty. If anything, neutrally applying the law is all the more important when political issues are in the background.

The long and short of Thomas’ dissent is this admonition to the Court: Do your job.

But the Chief Justice believes, I think, that part of his job is to navigate the Court through challenging political waters and to keep it out of such waters in some cases. In this instance, the first of the term in which these notions competed, Justice Kavanaugh sided with the Chief.

  

Ordeal of the Star Tribune

Posted: 11 Dec 2018 05:41 AM PST

(Scott Johnson)Star Tribune editor Rene Sanchez and managing editor Suki Dardarian have posted a statement announcing the firing of movie critic Colin Covert for plagiarism. Their statement is posted under the heading “From the Editors: Star Tribune film critic resigns after ethics breach.”

Covert is a 30-year employee of the Star Tribune. Over a period of years, Covert plagiarized phrases from reviews by others including the late New Yorker film critic Pauline Kael. Kael was a particular favorite. The Star Tribune editors’ statement does not give us any idea how many such acts of plagiarism it found Covert guilty of or why it found firing to be the appropriate level of discipline in this case. The statement quotes Covert acknowledging “too many mistakes” and expressing contrition for compromising “the Star Tribune’s meticulous reputation for integrity.”

The applicable rule from the Star Tribune policies and standards provides that plagiarism is not permitted. It is a serious offense. Covert’s case is nevertheless peculiar. He didn’t rip off whole paragraphs or sentences, he ripped off phrases. In the universe of plagiarism, the act by itself might be a misdemeanor form of theft. Cumulatively, the thefts might amount to a felony. That appears to be how the editors assess Covert’s case, but they don’t articulate their reasoning.

Reading the editors’ statement, I hear the clock striking 13. I can’t say it’s funny, but it’s jarring.

The Star Tribune’s coverage of local candidates running for high office in its own backyard — I am thinking of Fifth District congressional candidates and the candidates for Minnesota Attorney General — utterly failed the basic journalistic function of informing readers. See my correspondence with Rene Sanchez to this effect in the post “In which I write the Star Tribune.”

In the larger context, the editors seem to me to find a mote in Covert’s eye while ignoring the beam in their own eye. If termination is the punishment that fits Covert’s offenses, the Star Tribune ought to close up shop today.

  

Is it something he said? (6)

Posted: 11 Dec 2018 04:28 AM PST

(Scott Johnson)The Daily Caller News Foundation has asked the court to unseal the search warrant and related materials that authorized the November 19 FBI raid on the home of FBI cum Clinton crime family whistleblower Nate Cain. As we noted in part 1 of this series, Richard Pollock originally reported the story for the Daily Caller. Now Pollock reports that the Office of Maryland United States Attorney Robert Hur has filed a formal response to the DCNF’s letter request. Pollock’s story is “EXCLUSIVE: DOJ WANTS TO KEEP JUSTIFICATION FOR RAIDING REPORTED CLINTON FOUNDATION WHISTLEBLOWER SECRET.”

I have embedded the United States Attorney’s response below. The response notes on page 6 that the United States Attorney also filed a “sealed supplement” together with the response. At page 6 footnote 4 the response asserts that the Daily Caller has provided no support for its description of the basis of the FBI raid. I take it that the Daily Caller letter drew reasonable inferences from Cain’s description of the raid. The response itself does not expressly dispute the Daily Caller’s description of the basis of the FBI raid.

The United States Attorney seeks to keep the search warrant materials under wraps in the interest of an ongoing investigation. The response is entirely uninformative about the nature of the investigation or the basis of the raid and that is the way he wants to keep it. We are not to learn any time soon whether it is something he (Nate Cain) said.

In his original report, Pollock established that Cain is a recognized Department of Justice whistleblower dealing with Inspector General Michael Horowitz. I was unable to confirm anything in my own calls to the Inspector General. Horowitz’s office declines to comment.

Cain himself is more forthcoming. He comments below via Twitter.

So I blow the whistle on the FBI, get raided by the same FBI, and now they want to keep the FBI’s reasons secret? Do we now live in a secret police state? Feels a little like 1984 https://t.co/MvoWwIPj7d

— Nate Cain (@cain_nate) December 11, 2018

Cain refers to George Orwell’s 1984. As I read the response filed by the United States Attorney, it calls another book to mind. There is a Catch-22 quality to the government’s response. Based on the case law cited, the United States Attorney is confident that Catch-22 logic will prevail to keep the search warrant material under wraps. Beyond that, he isn’t talking.

U.S. Attorney Motion Opposi… by on Scribd

  

Macron responds to the yellow vest protests

Posted: 10 Dec 2018 10:16 PM PST

(Paul Mirengoff)Emanuel Macron finally responded today to the protests and riots that have roiled France. In his speech, he declared that he’s heard the anger of those whose economic suffering prompted the protests and will take immediate steps to relieve their hardship.

What steps? An increase in the minimum wage, for one. Macron announced that those earning the minimum wage will receive a supplement of 100 euros per month, or about $115.

Tax relief, for another. Taxes on overtime pay will be eliminated and retirees earning less than 2,000 euros a month, about $2,270, will be exempt from a recent increase in social security taxes.

Macron had already rescinded the tax increase on diesel fuel — the measure that triggered the protests.

Minimum wage earners, retirees with modest pensions, and folks who work overtime will welcome Macron’s new measures. But they don’t go far towards alleviating the economic distress that led to protests. And they will do next to nothing to shrink the gap between the wealthy and the struggling lower middle class that is fueling so much resentment.

To be fair, there’s not much Macron can do in the short-term to address these concerns. Large-scale income distribution is off the table, as it should be. Large-scale tax cuts are also problematic because France needs vast amounts of revenue to fund its welfare system and meet its pension commitments.

Tax increases on the wealthy would accelerate the exit from France of the highly skilled and highly productive, which is already a serious problem. In fact, Macron’s reduction of the wealth tax — a move that fueled some of the current discontents — was intended to help reverse the “brain drain.” In the wake of Brexit, Macron hoped to attract wealthy Brits who would broaden the tax base and bring high-paying jobs to France.

But these positive effects will take years to kick in. Meanwhile, they cause resentment. This dynamic is symptomatic of the larger dilemma France faces.

France never had a Reagan or a Thatcher revolution. Consequently, it’s economy has stagnated for decades. Meanwhile, France continued to build up its generous health and welfare structures while immigrants kept pouring in and reaping the benefits.

The protests confirm that France is stuck. It can’t implement free-market measures that would provide long-term economic benefits because these moves will be condemned as favoring the rich. It can’t restructure its welfare system because doing so will increase short-term economic misery. (It can change its immigration policies. That would help, but not enough).

Macron is stuck, as well. His dream of becoming Europe’s leader must now take a back seat to cling to power in France. His dream of taking the lead in “saving the planet” must now take a back seat to the reliance of ordinary Frenchmen on cars.

I question whether any French leader can make significant progress towards solving the deep underlying problems that plague France. But if there is such a leader, it’s someone with the common touch, someone who is neither arrogant nor aloof, and someone who puts France first. In other words, someone other than Emanuel Macron.

  

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