Why Announce Your Debate Lines of Attack Now?

by Jim Geraghty

Is this the best possible debate strategy for Donald Trump?

Donald J. Trump plans to throw Bill Clinton’s infidelities in Hillary Clinton’s face on live television during the presidential debates this fall, questioning whether she enabled his behavior and sought to discredit the women involved.

Mr. Trump will try to hold her accountable for security lapses at the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya, and for the death of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens there.

And he intends to portray Mrs. Clinton as fundamentally corrupt, invoking everything from her cattle futures trades in the late 1970s to the federal investigation into her email practices as secretary of state.

Even if these are the best areas of attack, why is Trump announcing he will make these attacks in the debate now, in mid-May, in the pages of the New York Times, when the first debate will be in September? (Occam’s Razor: Donald Trump is talking about how he’ll attack Hillary in the autumn debates because he feels like talking about it.)

The latter two areas — Benghazi and personal corruption — sound like fertile ground, and hopefully Trump will elaborate on the last argument, connecting the dots between donations to the Clinton Foundation and changes in U.S. State Department policy under Clinton. But accusing Hillary of enabling Bill’s infidelities seems a lot riskier. (Ask the House Republicans of 1998 whether Americans cast their ballots based upon disapproval of Bill Clinton’s sexual behavior and lying under oath.) Hillary will undoubtedly claim to be victimized by Trump’s attack, and probably claim it’s an attack on every spurned spouse. Or she may point to Trump’s boast in The Art of the Deal, “If I told the real stories of my experiences with women, often seemingly very happily married and important women, this book would be a guaranteed best-seller.”

Or she may revert to the trite deflection, “arguing about nonsense like this doesn’t help one struggling family with an unemployed parent find a job, or pay for their medical bills…”

Cold War in 10 Minutes?

by John J. Miller

Everything you wanted to know about the Cold War in 10 minutes? Not quite, but my new 10-minute Bookmonger podcast is with Elizabeth Spalding Edwards, co-author of A Brief History of the Cold War.

Lee Amendment Can Stop AFFH

by Stanley Kurtz

Congress once again has a very real chance to stop President Obama’s wildly overreaching Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) regulation. Senator Mike Lee has proposed an amendment to defund AFFH. The amendment should reach the floor for a vote on Tuesday or Wednesday of this week. This is the time for readers who oppose AFFH to contact your senators and press them to support the Lee Amendment.

AFFH puts unaccountable federal bureaucrats in charge of your local government. It’s not too strong to say that over the long term, AFFH spells the effective end of local government in America and a shift to a federally controlled “regionalist” system instead. For a sense of what that means, consider the way in which the Obama administration took control of housing in Dubuque, and the reaction in Dubuque itself to my attack on that federal takeover. Or consider the way in which the Obama administration’s attempt to take control of housing in Westchester County, New York is now threatening free speech everywhere. Senator Lee himself has just taken on AFFH in a piece entitled, “We Don’t Need a National Zoning Board.”

Senators considering their vote on the Lee Amendment need to keep the politics as well as the substance of this issue in mind. AFFH is a political nightmare for the Democrats. That’s why they put so much effort into keeping AFFH under the radar. Yet the issue is already catching far more public attention than it ever has before. It’s been increasingly discussed on talk radio, and conservative writers are beginning to take notice as well. More important, AFFH itself is going to begin hitting localities intensely in the coming years. Public uproar is destined to grow. Senators need to ask themselves if they want to be on record in favor of AFFH once the rule itself takes full effect and stirs up public outrage.

The House has already passed the Gosar Amendment defunding AFFH twice. House Republicans supported that amendment by an overwhelming margin. AFFH’s overreach is so egregious that it unites all factions of the Republican Party. So if the Lee Amendment passes the Senate, its equivalent is very likely to carry again in the House.

Defunding AFFH would go a long way toward uniting a divided Republican party, and that could have a big effect in this election year. Moderate Democrats who go on record in favor of AFFH are going to be in some serious trouble as well once this regulation begins to function in the coming months and years. Senators of all parties should take note. This vote is destined to be remembered.

— Stanley Kurtz is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. He can be reached at [email protected].

The Little Sisters of the Poor Just Beat the Obama Administration at the Supreme Court

by David French

While the consensus view seems to be that the Supreme Court “punted” today by sending the Little Sisters of the Poor case back to the lower courts, I must respectfully dissent. Although the Court didn’t rule on the merits of the case, the Little Sisters won a significant victory — one that is likely (though not yet certain) to persist through the next administration. 

First, the Supreme Court vacated the lower court ruling holding that the Little Sisters had to facilitate access to contraceptives and denied that the mandate substantially burdened their religion. Speaking as a person who’s argued a few cases in courts of appeal — when the court vacates the ruling you’re challenging, that’s a win.

Second, the Supreme Court provided a roadmap for an excellent resolution to the case — by outlining the accommodation it suggested, the Little Sisters endorsed, and the government reluctantly agreed to:

Following oral argument, the Court requested supplemental briefing from the parties addressing “whether contraceptive coverage could be provided to petitioners’ employees, through petitioners’ insurance companies, without any such notice from petitioners.” Post, p. ___. Both petitioners and the Government now confirm that such an option is feasible. Petitioners have clarified that their religious exercise is not infringed where they “need to do nothing more than contract for a plan that does not include coverage for some or all forms of contraception,” even if their employees receive cost-free contraceptive coverage from the same insurance company. Supplemental Brief for Petitioners 4. The Government has confirmed that the challenged procedures “for employers with insured plans could be modified to operate in the manner posited in the Court’s order while still ensuring that the affected women receive contraceptive coverage seamlessly, together with the rest of their health coverage.”

Putting this in plain language, the Court suggested an accommodation that was far more respectful of the Little Sisters’ religious liberty than the challenged Obamacare regulations, and the government will now have extreme difficulty credibly arguing in lower courts that the Supreme Court’s own suggested compromise should be set aside.

Third, this ruling was unanimous. That means the DOJ should be far from confident that it can simply wait out the new presidential election and pursue its original claims with the same hope for success — especially if it spent the intervening years rejecting a compromise that it already seemed to accept.

Fourth, we can’t forget the context. This the second time a unanimous Supreme Court has turned back the Obama administration’s regulatory efforts to restrict religious freedom (Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. EEOC was the first), and it represents yet another setback for the administration’s contraception/abortifacient mandate. The Obama administration has pushed hard against religious liberty — on occasion too hard even for the Supreme Court’s more liberal justices.

There’s no doubt that it would have been preferable to win the case on the merits, but this is not the outcome the Obama administration hoped for, and it’s better than the 4-4 tie that most people predicted. A tie would have let stand rulings against the Little Sisters and most of the other religious organizations challenging the mandate. This outcome, by contrast, provides a judicial roadmap for a national victory for religious liberty. Congratulations to the Little Sisters, their fellow petitioners, and their capable counsel. Today is a good day for America’s first freedom.

Game of Thrones Recap: Reunions Aplenty (SPOILERS)

by Stephen L. Miller

*** The following contains spoilers from Sunday night’s Game of Thrones episode, “Book of Stranger.” ***

David French pointed out two weeks ago that Game of Thrones — venturing for the first time beyond George R. R. Martin’s published material, and seemingly in a rush to wrap the series down (the eighth season will reportedly be the last; we’re currently in season six) — is eliminating stray storylines and excess characters at a feverish pace.

This trend continued last night in this season’s fourth episode, “Book of Stranger,” which saw Ramsay Bolton once again dispatching a series regular. Osha, who began the show as a wildling hunter but transformed into the young Starks’ protector, was captured by allies of Bolton and then wiped from the series — Ramsay promptly returned to peeling his apple. As David suggested, expect to see more of this.

“Book of Stranger” was heavy on reunions, as two of the Stark siblings were (finally) reunited. The sight of Sansa and Jon Snow embracing was one viewers had to think was coming eventually — but to this point, every time the show hinted at a Stark reunion, something really bad would happen to keep the family apart. For those waiting to see if what’s left of the Stark kids would ever be reunited and return home to claim Winterfell from their enemies, this was certainly a payoff. And we saw a renewed purpose for Snow — now the former Night’s Watch lord commander, and Melisandre’s “chosen prince.” Going forward, a Ramsay Bolton/Jon Snow showdown seems inevitable, but it would also be a perplexing turn for a character who has spent most of the previous five seasons avoiding the wars of Westeros, and who knows there are far worse enemies on the march than a bastard Bolton.

While a reunited Stark family seeks to retake Winterfell, the Greyjoy siblings (Theon and Yara) find themselves face to face once again as well. Theon — who seems to have passed the “Reek” moniker on to Chris Christie for good — ultimately reconciles with his sister, despite her initial skepticism over his return to the Iron Islands just as a new king or queen is about to be chosen. But you can’t help but wonder if Yara just happened to keep that certain part of Theon Ramsay had sent back to her — just in case he might want it back.

Margaery Tyrell, after spending several seasons pleading to see her brother (held captive by the High Sparrow), is finally allowed a visitation. The High Sparrow’s monologue was for me the high point of the episode primarily because of how actor Jonathan Pryce turns his attention from Margaery and past the camera, addressing the audience directly as he confesses his past sins and describes how he came to his own moment of enlightenment.

Pryce’s performance in almost breaking the fourth wall was an incredible moment that reinforced both how reassuring and menacing Pryce can be as an actor — and just how fascinating the High Sparrow’s convictions of morality can be. His crusade is personal: The Sparrow’s purpose isn’t about any of the other characters; it transcends them. The scene’s slow pan and the dialogue spoken directly at us reinforce that idea.

Speaking of the High Sparrow, while he was slowly turning Margaery, Cersei and Jamie began plotting to rid King’s Landing of him once and for all. Love or hate the Lannister clan, seeing Jamie act like the conniving bastard we knew him to be before he lost his sword hand was refreshing. Jamie was always one of the better villains on the show. His season-long atonement was a revelation — but it’s good to see that Lannisters still repay their debts.

Daenerys — in the sure-to-be-most-talked-about moment of the episode — turned the tables on her Dothraki captors by locking herself in their tent, and then burning it to the ground. With the assistance of her would-be rescuers, Daario and Jorah (the former now well aware of the dragon scale infecting the latter), Daenerys emerged from the flames to find the entire Dothraki army kneeling before her. It will be interesting to see her march on Meereen with a new army at her back — and to see what her reaction is to the slavery compromise Tyrion concluded with the leaders of the Sons of the Harpy.

The moment when Daenerys emerged from the flames seemed to (once again) foreshadow her ultimate ascent to the Iron Throne — if in fact that’s still what’s at stake in Westeros. But as season six moves along and the scheming continues, the throne — that final prize — almost seems an afterthought.

Let Things Take Their Course

by Kevin D. Williamson

Response To...

Doings in Nebraska

There’s an old thought experiment in ethics known as the “Trolley Problem.” There’s an out-of-control trolley car speeding toward a collision in which dozens of people would die. There’s also a spur onto which the trolley could be diverted, but there’s a man standing on the tracks. You can either do nothing and let the collision happen or flip a switch and certainly kill the man on the spur. This is a problem that has given ethics students fits for years.

If the man on the spur were Ben Sasse and the people in the trolley car were the Nebraska Republican leadership . . . well, it would seem like a lot less of a dilemma in that case. 

A Standpont to Consider

by Michael Auslin

A few weeks ago, Andy McCarthy, in a post on the election of Sadiq Khan as mayor of London, quoted from an incisive essay by Daniel Johnson in Standpoint. To my chagrin, I only recently became aware of the magazine and Johnson, its editor. Since then, I have had the pleasure of lunching with Johnson in London and the privilege of contributing to Standpoint

Setting aside my own minor articles that have appeared, to say that Standpoint is one of the finest periodicals currently being published today is an understatement. It is an ideological and literary soulmate of NR, which I have on good authority — Wikipedia – greeted the appearance of Standpoint with an article that concluded, “Rejoice, and subscribe!” (as they say on Wikipedia, “citation needed”). Taking up the cudgels from William F. Buckley, Jr., Johnson is attempting to keep alive a trans-Atlantic conversation unapologetically to “celebrate our civilization, its arts and its values.” In that, it is a fellow soldier in the war against anti-Western, anti-liberal movements. Central to Standpoint’s mission is reminding us that as important as is politics, there is so much more to the cultured life that we value as a shared heritage, including the literature, music, fine arts, and the like that regularly are subjects of wonderful essays. Both in its quality and scope, it can compare with any journal of contemporary social, political, and cultural affairs. 

Founded only in 2008 and beautifully produced, its roster of hundreds of contributors is truly impressive, including Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali, Paul Johnson (the editor’s father), Roger Scruton, the late Robert Conquest, Douglas Murray, Jeremy Black, and names familiar to the NR family, among them David Pryce-Jones, Amity Shlaes, and Andrew Stuttaford. Andy McCarthy rightly called Johnson “invaluable,” an approbation that can be applied to Standpoint as a whole. For those able to do so, supporting Standpoint is a direct contribution to the front lines of the war for the West, on which Britain once again uneasily sits. Supporting both NR and Standpoint is vital part of the struggle to pass intact to our children a world in which individualism, free markets, religion, and a strong defense are not washed away by utopias old and new.

Too Ghastly

by Kevin D. Williamson

I can give only a qualified recommendation of Nicholas Casey’s New York Times report on the state of Venezuela’s hospitals. Click on the link if you don’t mind having your sleep disturbed: The text is horrifying, and the photography is the stuff of nightmare.

Question for the editors of Wired and the folks at CityLab: Does this look like a country dealing with the effects of successful economic policies, trying to manage the result of “Venezuela’s Economic Success”? Maybe earlier claims along those lines should be reevaluated, no?

Venezuela’s formula — restrictions on trade, deep and broad political intervention in the private market, price-fixing, undermining the profitability of private firms in the name of job-creation, nationalism, and social solidarity — is, we should note, the basic economic program of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. It is the economic agenda of the Elizabeth Warren wing of the Democratic party and the Pat Buchanan wing — what we now, lamentably, must call the Jeff Sessions wing — of the Republican party.

How’s that “Let’s Keep the Dirty Foreigners From Selling Their Cheap Products in Our Markets!” philosophy working out for Venezuela? Casey:

Hospital wards have become crucibles where the forces tearing Venezuela apart have converged. Gloves and soap have vanished from some hospitals. Often, cancer medicines are found only on the black market. There is so little electricity that the government works only two days a week to save what energy is left.

At the University of the Andes Hospital in the mountain city of Mérida, there was not enough water to wash blood from the operating table. Doctors preparing for surgery cleaned their hands with bottles of seltzer water.

“It is like something from the 19th century,” said Dr. Christian Pino, a surgeon at the hospital.

The (worst) economic assumptions of the 19th century have their admirers here, too. This is the sort of primitivism the protectionists, nationalists, and partisans of “economic patriotism” — a totalitarian term if ever there was one — would inflict on us.

We cannot say we were not warned.

Temporary Protected Status Means Never Having to Go Home

by Mark Krikorian

Congress in 1990 created something called Temporary Protected Status in an attempt to hem in unilateral executive actions on immigration. The law created a framework for presidents to let illegal aliens from a country stay here for a limited period of time if there was a natural disaster or civil violence back home that made the country “unable, temporarily, to adequately handle the return of its nationals.” The point was to prevent presidential freelancing, though what had happened up to that time was microscopic compared to Obama’s outrages. (I wrote last month about the likely grant of TPS to Ecuadorian illegals in the wake of the earthquake there.)

Predictably, there’s nothing “temporary” about TPS. No one – not a single person – has ever been made to leave the United States because his TPS ran out. There are now maybe 300,000 or so illegal aliens with this status, which gives them work permits, Social Security numbers, driver’s licenses, and more. Obama’s lawless DACA and DAPA amnesties were modeled on TPS, though they target politically sympathetic categories of people rather than all aliens from a particular country, as TPS does.

The reason this “temporary” status is de facto permanent is that it is renewed every 12 or 18 months, forever. The Liberians who were the first group to benefit from the new formal status are still here a quarter-century later.

Today’s TPS renewal was for 60,000 Hondurans (and 2,000 Nicaraguans) who originally were permitted to stay because of Hurricane Mitch – in 1998. The Federal Register notice explains:

Although some of the destroyed infrastructure and housing has been rebuilt, Honduras continues to suffer the residual effects of the storm. The United Nations Development Programme has stated that Hurricane Mitch set Honduras back economically and socially by 20 years.

Twenty years? So come 2018 we can send them back? Of course not, because now there are new reasons to prolong the amnesty:

Since the last extension of Honduras’ TPS designation, Honduras has experienced a series of environmental disasters that have exacerbated the persisting disruptions caused by Hurricane Mitch and significantly compromised the Honduran state’s ability to adequately handle the return of its nationals. Additionally, climate fluctuations between heavy rainfall and prolonged drought continue to challenge recovery efforts.

Ah, “climate fluctuations” – amnesty if there’s too much rain, and amnesty if there’s too little. So we can repatriate only those illegal aliens whose home countries have just the right amount of rain every year?

Toward the end of 2014, Honduras suffered damage from severe rains, landslides, and flooding, as well as from the heavy winds associated with Tropical Storm Hanna. Partially due to the heavy rainfall, Honduras saw a dramatic increase in mosquito-borne diseases, particularly dengue and chikungunya, in 2014 and 2015.

Too many mosquitoes = amnesty?

The system of public hospitals is failing under this threat; in July 2015 the president of Honduras’ medical school warned that public hospitals in Honduras were barely able to provide medicine for common illnesses, let alone an epidemic of chikungunya. In rural areas, the health care system does not have the capacity to meet the needs of the local population.

Sounds like most places in the Third World.

A prolonged regional drought, which began in the summer of 2014, has heavily affected Honduras, leading to significant crop losses in 2014 and 2015, massive layoffs in the agricultural sector, negative impacts on hygiene, and an increase in food insecurity and health risks. The agricultural sector has also continued to suffer from the impacts of a regional coffee rust epidemic, resulting in lost livelihoods and weakening Honduras’ economy.

“Coffee rust”? Seriously?

Curiously, Iraq is not one of the countries whose illegals have received a TPS amnesty, despite the residual effects of the Mongol sack of Baghdad in 1258. And Tunisia’s never been the same since the Third Punic War in 146 BC.

Over the course of decades of lawful residence, “temporary” amnesty holders put down roots, have children, and so on, making it politically and even morally difficult to expel them – which is obviously the point of the constant renewals. One thing that might help is to require that any renewal after the initial grant be approved by both houses of Congress rather than the administration doing so on its own.

But in the end, no immigration system can have any integrity if the chief executive is dead-set on castrating it.

Doings in Nebraska

by Rich Lowry

The Nebraska GOP reprimanded Ben Sasse over the weekend for his renegade views —​ I guess he’s a renegade goy? —​ on Donald Trump. It is at least a little curious that the sponsor of the resolution is the nephew of Sen. Deb Fischer, who, for whatever reason, has gone out of her way to make her distaste for Sasse clear since the beginning. Also over the weekend, the Nebraska GOP rejected this resolution, which it is safe to say in any other year would have been uncontroversial:

“Be it resolved that the Nebraska Republican Party strongly opposes all degrading remarks toward women, minorities, and other individuals by Republican elected office holders or party officials, including candidates for President of the United States, because such rhetoric tarnishes the GOP’s legacy as the party of Lincoln, alienates millions of Americans, and jeopardizes Republican majorities in the Nebraska Legislature, the United States House of Representatives and United States Senate.” 

Trump and Women

by Rich Lowry

It’s not exactly breaking news that Trump is a boor, but the Times did an extensive story on his interactions with women over the weekend that, given how a central figure (no pun intended) says she was mischaracterized and the haphazard material throughout, has to be counted a swing and miss. It feels like a notebook dump. Here is one of my favorite strange and not very telling details: 

The elder Mr. Trump exerted control no matter how big or small the decision, as Ivana Zelnickova learned over dinner one night in the late 1970s. Her boyfriend, Donald Trump, had invited her to join his siblings and parents at Tavern on the Green, the ornate restaurant in Central Park.

When the waiter came to take orders, Ivana made the mistake of asking for what she wanted. Fred Trump set her straight, she recalled in a previously unpublished interview with Michael D’Antonio, the author of The Truth About Trump.

Fred would order steak. Then Donald would order steak. … Everybody order steak. I told the waiter, “I would like to have fish.” O.K., so I could have the fish. And Fred would say to the waiter: “No, Ivana is not going to have a fish. She is going to have a steak.” I said, “No, I’m going to have my fish.” And Donald would come home and say, “Ivana, why would you have a fish instead of a steak?” I say, “Because I’m not going to be told by somebody to have something which I don’t want.”

–Ivana Trump, ex-wife

Mr. Trump defended his father’s conduct. “He would’ve said that out of love,” he said. If his father had overruled her fish order, Mr. Trump said, “he would have said that only on the basis that he thought, ‘That would be better for her.’”

Are Republican Voters Interested in What Republican Lawmakers Are Doing?

by Jim Geraghty

From the first Morning Jolt of the week:

Are Republican Voters Interested in What Republican Lawmakers Are Doing?

“Those Republicans in Washington never do anything!”

Actually, the House of Representatives spent last week passing 18 bills dealing with opioid addiction; the Senate passed one big comprehensive bill earlier.

The legislation that passed the House aims to fight the crisis in a number of ways, “including helping pregnant mothers who suffer from addiction, increasing access to naloxone (a drug that can reverse the effects of an overdose), and creating a task force of patients, medical officials, advocacy groups and federal agencies to establish guidelines for prescribing pain medication.”

The other bills would allow “patients to only partially fill opioid prescriptions, require the Food and Drug Administration to work with expert advisory committees before approving opioid products and drug labels and expand residential treatment programs for pregnant and postpartum opioid addicts.”  

Maybe you think these are good ideas to address the country’s addiction problems, maybe you don’t; maybe you think this is a top priority, maybe you don’t. Democrats are complaining that these bills authorize funds but they don’t appropriate them – i.e., give the federal agencies permission to spend the funds this way, but don’t actually transfer the money. Republicans say funding will be addressed in the appropriations bills passed later this year. You can argue whether it’s better to address the issue with one big bill, the way the Senate did, or to consider each idea separately.

But it’s impossible to dispute the House’s action received a small fraction of the coverage that the Donald Trump-Paul Ryan summit received. And one of the biggest complaints revealed in the GOP primary is the argument from primary voters that Republicans on Capitol Hill aren’t doing anything; they’re out-of-touch, they’re insulated, they have no idea about the kinds of problems that ordinary Americans face every day.

Are Republican legislators really that insulated and out-of-touch? Or is it that voters hear exceptionally little about what Congress is actually doing? Doesn’t a preponderance of the evidence suggest the political press – following their audience  – finds legislation boring? It doesn’t get clicks, it doesn’t get ratings. It’s much more fun and interesting to debate, “did Donald Trump pretend to be a fake personal spokesman back in the 1990s” than to calculate how much funding you need to provide for postpartum opioid addiction programs in order to see a real change in the scale of the problem.

Meanwhile, President Obama’s weekly video address also focused on addiction… and featured Seattle hip-hop artist Macklemore. Obama said, “This week, the House passed several bills about opioids – but unless they also make actual investments in more treatment, it won’t get Americans the help they need.”

But remember, Donald Trump is the worst for reducing politics to a celebrity-obsessed reality show!

Against the Grievance Culture

by John J. Miller

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas delivered the commencement address at Hillsdale College on Saturday. Here’s what he said.

Monday links

by debbywitt

Ten inventions predicted by The Simpsons.

How consumption (a.k.a. tuberculosis) came to influence fashion and beauty of the Victorian era.

Father builds robotic pancreas for his diabetic son.

This is what happens when you build a cube out of one-way mirrors.

10 weird epidemics that remain a mystery.

May 16, 1916: The Sykes-Picot accord that shaped (distorted) the modern Middle East was signed. More here, and a brief video explanation here.

ICYMI, Friday’s links are here, and include why Friday the 13th is considered unlucky, the invention of bikes after a volcano killed all the horses, a supercut of birds in movies, and, circa 1880, the restaurants along the railways in the western U.S.

When Restating the Law Can Become Empowering the Sex Police

by John Fund

Few people who aren’t lawyers have ever heard of the American Law Institute, the most important organization in the country that seeks to clarify and modernize the nation’s laws. Its annual meeting begins tomorrow in Washington D.C. and its large behind-the-scenes power to not just interpret the law but revise it in dangerous directions bears watching.

The ALI will vote at its convention this coming week on whether to adopt a model penal code that would make “affirmative consent” when it come to sexual relations its official policy. Affirmative consent — or “yes means yes” — policies have already been adopted by many colleges and universities, and have become law in California and New York.

A letter signed by some 120 ALI members says the group should vote down the changes as a vast expansion of the definition of sexual assault in the legal system.

“The prosecutor need only say, ‘Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury, under the State’s definition, it does not matter whether the complainant actually was willing,’” the ALI members wrote. “It is undisputed that the sex act occurred and there is no evidence in the record that the complainant communicated willingness. There is no consent if the complainant has not communicated willingness. You must convict if you find that the defendant recklessly disregarded that absence of consent.”

Ashe Schow wrote in the Washington Examiner: “Such a definition would shift the burden of proof onto the accused, something not currently permitted in the U.S. criminal justice system. The accused would have to prove that they received ‘communicated willingness.’ This would mean that any time someone engages in sexual activity, they not only have to make sure they obtain this specific form of consent, but also proof of this consent.”

The ALI’s elite membership includes all the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court, the chief judges of the U.S. Court of Appeals, and the chief judges of the highest state courts, deans of almost all law schools, and a limited number of law professors and distinguished private practitioners. All law students study the ALI’s “Restatements” of the law of many subjects, such as torts (including product liability), contracts, and other subjects. It also frequently drafts model laws that become statutes with few questions asked.

These “Restatements” are an effort to codify common law. In many areas, statutes do not govern us but “case law” or judicial precedent, does. The ALI tells courts what the case law is, and Courts routinely rely on the ALI Restatements as authority for what the law is. The ALI’s work serves as something between Cliff’s Notes and an authoritative encyclopedia of law for many judges.

The problem is that this unelected body does much more than explain what the law is, it also it shifts the law in the direction that the ALI wants that law to go. For many decades, the ALI nudged the law or shifted it only slightly. Now, it is much more active in changing the law, and that affects all of us. We are in danger of moving from a governed by judges and elected representatives to a society governed by the ALI.

In January, 2015, the ALI revised its manual to make clear that its Restatements “reflect the law as it presently stands or might appropriately be stated by a court.”

The U.S. Supreme Court cites the ALI more than once month on average. The ALI itself rightly brags that state and federal courts have cited ALI Restatements and its similar law reform projects about 200,000 times.

This power attracted the attention of the Justice Antonin Scalia last year. In Kansas v. Nebraska he noted that the ALI’s “modern Restatements” are “of questionable value, and must be used with caution.” Now, “the Restatements’ authors have abandoned the mission of describing the law, and have chosen instead to set forth their aspirations for what the law ought to be.” Scalia argued that such novel views of the law should have “no more weight regarding what the law ought to be than the recommendations of any respected lawyer or scholar.” No longer can one assume that “a Restatement provision describes rather than revises current law.”

The legal blog Simple Justice put it more starkly. It asserted that the ALI “has been taken over in a bloodless coup by ideologues bent on recreating the law to suit their ideology.” It sounds as if the ALI meeting this week in Washington needs to be covered by a lot more media than a few fusty legal journals.

Now, We Shouldn’t Eat Fish!

by Wesley J. Smith

The New York Times obsessively publishes columns in its opinion section and the Magazine trying to convince us that humans are not unique, and moreover, that we shouldn’t eat meat, that plants are the most “ethical” life form, etc. beyond etc.

Now, we are told by a Time’s-published piece that, in essence, we shouldn’t eat fish because, well, “Fishes Have Feelings Too:”

As innovative research reveals new facets of the private lives of fishes [!!!], I’m hopeful that perceptions will change and we’ll show them more mercy. The simplest way to help fishes is to reduce our consumption of them and to source what we do eat from suppliers that adhere to animal welfare standards. As the oceanographer Sylvia Earle, who, like me, no longer eats fish, says, “The ocean has given us so much for so long’ it’s time for us to return the favor.”

Right, leave all that nutritious food for the seals, sharks, and barracuda, which (not who) will be so much more humane than us.

The piece is authored by Jonathan Balcombe, of the Humane Society for Science and Policy. I wouldn’t trust anything Balcombe advocates. He is part of the Humane Society of the United States–a deeply ideological  organization that pretends to be about animal welfare, but is really a full-bore (if stealth) animal rights group–that spends tens of millions a year making life miserable for farmers, ranchers, animal researchers, and others.

Animal rights believers eventually want to put an end to all animal domestication. For example, the group’s leader, Wayne Pacelle, once said in an interview for a book (Bloodties), that he would rather that no more cats or dogs ever be born:

“If I had my personal view perhaps that might take hold. In fact, I don’t want to see another cat or dog born. It’s not something I strive for, though. If people were very responsible, and didn’t do manipulative breeding, and cared for animals in all senses, and accounted for their nutritional needs as well as their social and psychological needs, then I think it could be an appropriate thing.

I’m not sure. I think it’s one of those things that we’ll decide later in society. I think we’re still far from it.” (My emphasis, p. 266)

Opposing cats and dogs would cut down on HSUS’s donations, so of course, they don’t push this meme. But they do urge us to make our dogs vegan!

But isn’t it interesting, that those who claim the loudest that we aren’t special, keep trying to convince us that animals, fish, plants–whatever–are really people too.

This I know. There is no mercy among fishes. They just want to fill their own bellies. 

Only we care about treating animals humanely–as we should.​ And that’s one of the attributes of humanity that make us exceptional.

P.S. In the same section, Nickolas Kristof praises Pacelle. Of course!

It Ain’t Over ‘til the Alien Wins

by Mark Krikorian

“Immigration cases — like old soldiers — seem never to die.”

That’s the opening line of the First Circuit Court of Appeals ruling in a recent case that exemplifies the relentless war on America’s borders being waged by immigration lawyers and their illegal-alien clients.

This is an utterly conventional case, like thousands of others that clog the courts, the result of “serial attempts to revisit a final order of removal” (a deportation order), in the words of the ruling. The alien plaintiff’s 20-year campaign of lies and immigration fraud shows what our immigration-enforcement system is up against.

Jose Garcia is a Dominican who entered into a fraudulent marriage with a U.S. citizen in 1996. (There’s no information on how he got here in the first place – if I had to guess, I’d say on a visitor visa with the intent to stay – another fraud.) Two years later, as the law stipulates, he applied to have his provisional green card converted to a regular one; the fraud was uncovered and the application denied. The INS then started the process of deporting him.

And “process” is the right word, because only in 2009 – 11 years later – was he finally ordered removed by an immigration judge; and that was only because he didn’t show up for a hearing. His lawyer then petitioned to have his case re-opened, claiming he’d been stuck in traffic. (That, along with “I never got the notice in the mail,” are the most common lies used to justify skipping an immigration hearing that isn’t expected to go your way.) The immigration judge said no, Garcia appealed to the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA – the body between the immigration judges and the regular federal courts), then changed his mind and said he wanted to go home. So in 2009, 13 years after entering into a fraudulent marriage, he was removed to the Dominican Republic (at taxpayer expense).

In 2012 he came back illegally. The ruling doesn’t say how; every year the Border Patrol does arrest a modest number of Dominican infiltrators, and others are arrested trying to fly from Puerto Rico to the U.S. using fake or stolen documents showing that they’re Puerto Ricans. In any case he was charged with the felony of re-entry after deportation. In response, he filed to re-open his deportation case by claiming “ineffective assistance of counsel” back in 2009. He (through his new lawyer, presumably) claimed his 2009 lawyer hadn’t moved to re-open the case after he’d been ordered deported. When that turned out to be a lie, “the petitioner switched gears and argued that the filed motion to reopen was ‘terribly flawed’ as it had not included a sworn statement from the petitioner himself.”

He appealed to the BIA, was turned down, and then a year ago filed an appeal to the federal courts (the immigration judges and BIA are Justice Department civil servants, not actual judges). It’s likely that during this whole time he’s been out on bail and had a work permit, to boot; in other words, he’s enjoyed four years (so far) of what he came here for in the first place – to live and work in the United States.

This latest ruling turned down his petition for judicial review, but who knows how long it will be before he’s prosecuted for illegal re-entry (if Obama’s Justice Department bothers to prosecute him at all), or if he’ll simply run off and never be heard from again – until he commits vehicular homicide or some such.

The point detailing this entirely typical 20-year saga of fraud, delay, and prevarication is to show that enforcing immigration laws requires a much more streamlined process for removing violators. Because the deportation of non-citizens is a civil, not criminal, matter, due process is whatever Congress says it is, and non-citizens must be provided fewer bites of the apple in challenging their removal. Congress needs to exercise its plenary power over immigration by, among other things, expanding “expedited removal,” a tool defined in 1996 which “circumvents any judicial involvement from either the executive branch immigration courts or the judicial branch courts.” It must also insist that the executive use this power to its maximum extent.

When the 1996 immigration law was passed – it created expedited removal among many other measures to stiffen immigration enforcement – the then-head of the immigration lawyers’ association told me he assured his members that the bill was a testament to their effectiveness; in other words, they had so thoroughly obstructed enforcement of the laws that Congress had felt the need to push back. It’s long overdue for Congress to push back some more.

Taking the Temperature of American Pop

by Michael Potemra

I think American popular music has been a genuine wonder of the world, one of the most consequential cultural phenomena of the past century. You hear it on local radios from Lusaka to Seoul to Rio de Janeiro. (We can now hear many of these stations in the U.S., through the relatively more recent wonder of the Internet.) I have always loved American pop, but I don’t follow it closely, hence I know a lot more about the pop of, e.g., 1926 or 1956 or 1976 than about the pop of today. To try to remedy that, and get a sense of the spirit of American pop a.d. 2016, I went to the Wango Tango concert, sponsored by radio station KIIS FM 102.7, at the Stubhub Center in the southern part of the Metro L.A. area.

It is hard not to sound orotund in making this assertion, but based on what I heard today, the state . . . of American pop . . . is sound. Most of the music was upbeat and catchy, and there was a heavy emphasis on anthems of empowerment. I remember, a little over a decade ago, spending a fair bit of time listening to pop music from Africa, and thinking that our pop was rather lugubrious by contrast. On today’s evidence, this is no longer the case. How representative was today’s sampling? Well, it featured some of the most famous names in American music: Gwen Stefani, Meghan Trainor, Demi Lovato, Iggy Azalea, and Ariana Grande. The only ones of whose work I had appreciable prior knowledge were Lovato and Trainor, and the others were for the most part just names to me; so I was surprised how many of the songs I heard today were familiar to me from daily life – supermarkets, bars, malls, etc. – even when I didn’t know the artists behind them. So these acts were pretty representative of what America listens to today.

And even more representative of what a specific American demographic listens to: young women from, say, 14 to 24. I was told to expect an audience that was largely young and female, and this was proved correct. Still, there were a lot of males, from elementary-school-age kids to young adults, and there was a significant representation of women in their later 20s, 30s, and 40s. The most striking disproportion was racial: There were a lot of whites, a lot of Asians, and a lot of Hispanics, but only a tiny handful of blacks. (The music market is perhaps more segregated now than it was when I was a kid, back in the ’70s.)

The audience was extremely pleasant, polite, well-behaved, and united in its appreciation for the artists. (The only time when there seemed to be a disproportionate response from one sector of the audience was for the performance of a guy named Zayn, whose romantic songs sparked an especially impressive level of frenzy from the females present. His songs were fine, but I think there was some “heartthrob” effect at work in the response. I don’t deny that he’s a handsome chap, but his work didn’t make me mark him as someone whose recordings I should seek out. Yes, I recognize that this is exactly the sort of thing that will be quoted back at me in the future if this guy becomes the Elvis or Sinatra of the 2020s.)

The very pleasant, and rather unanimous, audience response may be typical for pop, I don’t actually know. Almost all my experience of popular-music concerts (i.e., not classical, jazz, or “world”) comes from the rock end of the pop–rock continuum; I think the closest I came to a “pop”-concert experience was a Madonna performance at Madison Square Garden about a decade ago. I’d say that while I generally prefer listening to rock than to straight-out pop, I prefer the sweet-natured and demonstrative pop audience I interacted with today to the too-cool-for-school folks I tend to encounter at rock concerts.

The acts were all talented enough, and I enjoyed them; probably the only one that left me cold was Iggy Azalea, whose songs I found monotonous; and even in her case she performed one of the most instantly recognizable songs of the past five years (“Fancy,” which I have to concede is “catchy,” because, after all, I had caught it, without exactly wanting it). The acoustics at the Stubhub Center left something to be desired; as a result, the vocals were fuzzier than they should have been. (This didn’t impede the enjoyment of the audience, which seemed to know the lyrics of many of the songs by heart.) I just listened to some Iggy Azalea tracks on my home stereo and she sounded better than she did at the concert.

It was great especially to hear Demi Lovato, whose voice is as powerful as ever; Trainor’s delightful anthem for female curviness, “All about That Bass”; and a vocalist, previously unknown to me even as a name, Alessia Cara. (I stayed for ten of the twelve acts on offer; the only ones I skipped were the Chainsmokers and Ariana Grande.)

Trump’s Taxes

by Nicholas Frankovich

Last week America was introduced to Anthony Senecal, that curious octogenarian who lives in Trump’s house in Florida and writes bilious Facebook posts about his view that the president should be lynched. Senecal is flesh and blood. “John Miller” and “John Barron,” who are not, are made of faith, trust, and pixie dust. Former associates of the Republican party’s presumptive nominee for president in 2016, the pair was presented to a bemused nation on Friday.

This most recent distraction — the revelation that Trump impersonated his own, imaginary publicists on the phone for several years in the 1980s and ’90s, confessed to it then, and denies it now — freshly illustrates his well-established flair for drama and deception. It also ratchets up a little the Fremdscham that he stirs in those who, as Rachel Lu put it the other day, “remain un-hypnotized” by his antics: They feel his embarrassment, and all the more so because he does not, or pretends he doesn’t. Instead of correcting course, he doubles down and rubs the public’s nose in it.

We should be talking instead about ISIS and Hillary Clinton’s e-mails, his supporters say on Twitter and elsewhere, disingenuously. His campaign is nearly bereft of ideas and policy arguments except the flavor of the moment. He contradicts himself routinely, with insouciance. It matters to most voters and to many donors, though clearly not to his base. Has a presidential campaign ever been built on such a small ratio of substance to mood music? Obama 2008. There you go.

A vocal and passionate bloc of voters on the right want their own Obama, a president who for a change —change! — will cut out all that “principled conservative” jabber about “the Constitution” and exercise an imperial presidency in their interest, as they perceive it. They resent conservatives for standing between them and the Left. The new populists, or nationalists, demand to have at it: “Out of the way, you had your chance, our turn, we’ll show you how it’s done.” What they mean is that they aim to install a Clinton donor in the Oval Office, to keep Clinton herself out of it. Got that? Meet the new boss, same as the old one. Or worse than the old one? That’s a question for another post.

We the people are the boss, of course, and Mr. or Mme. President our public servant, at least on paper. That notion is now fairly quaint, a parchment piety. Too many Americans would rather have a king, like the Israelites who ended up with Saul. It turns out that the demand for an American monarch far exceeds the supply of willing candidates. Voters in the market for such a thing will take what’s on offer. That is how the Republican party has come to this, preparing to nominate for president a person whose primary qualification for the office is that he can rage with senior-style ferocity, like Lear on the heath.

To deflect attention from a swelling drumbeat of questions about what might be in his tax returns, Trump released to the Washington Post a tape of a phone interview that “John Miller” gave to a reporter for a celebrity-gossip magazine in 1991. So speculates the reporter, Sue Carswell, who says that she lost the tape long ago and that the only other person who would have had a copy is Trump. But if he was the one who released it, why did he appear caught off guard when asked about it on TV on Friday, and why did he hang up when asked about it again a few hours later, 44 minutes into an interview with the Post?

Whatever the bottom of that peculiar story is, it’s backward-looking and sad, a picture — it’s ironic — of what Americans who rally to Trump fear their country has become. Remember Shelley Levene, the paunchy, andropausal real-estate con man played by Jack Lemmon in Glengarry Glen Ross? On the phone with potential marks who probably won’t buy the sketchy and possibly nonexistent real estate he’s so desperately pitching, he shouts directions to and answers questions from his nonexistent secretary. The guy is sunk.

Carswell suggests that we keep our eye on Trump’s failure to release his returns. Others, including Paul Krugman, suspect that the reason he’s stonewalling is that the returns show him to be poorer than he lets on. In his book TrumpNation (2005), Timothy L. O’Brien wrote that “three people with direct knowledge” of Trump’s finances estimated that his net worth was between $150 and $250 million. Trump sued O’Brien for defamation, insisting that he was a billionaire, and lost in court.

He resists the call to produce documentation that would show his wealth to be finite and perhaps smaller than he boasts, just as under false identities he used to shop breathless accounts of financial and sexual prowess to the celebrity press. The common thread is his betrayal of schoolboy insecurities that you would think he had the self-awareness not to advertise. He’s uninformed on civics, economics, and foreign policy — that is, he hasn’t done a whit of homework for this year-long job interview — because there’s not enough time at the end of a long day spent primping in front of mirrors.

The Republican party finds itself in a world of trouble. Not only does it not know what its presidential nominee stands for in terms that can be expressed in logical, linear fashion for the left-brain-dominant majority. It doesn’t even know who the man is outside the improbable, Gatsby-like character he has spent his life straining to portray. People have gotta know whether a person who wants to be their president is a crook. Clinton is — we’ve known it forever. She’s the queen of crookery. Is Trump’s fear that his returns would expose him as a piker by comparison? Or what?

John Fund proposes that delegates in Cleveland abstain from voting until Trump releases his tax returns. Jennifer Rubin at the Washington Post submits that “a longtime delegate guru” stressed to her that

the biggest thing — maybe the only thing — that matters now is the rules committee. . . . It could insist on financial disclosure by any and all candidates prior to the nomination. It could include a “conscience clause” making clear that bound delegates may vote their conscience based on new information revealed subsequent to their selection. The possibilities are infinite.

Trump’s evasiveness in this matter is emblematic of the blank check that is his larger campaign. The Republican party is asking us to sign it. It would not be prudent.

Rome, Brussels and Ventotene

by Andrew Stuttaford

Writing in Britain’s Catholic Herald, Ed West reports on the attitude taken by the Vatican to Brexit. I touched on this last week in a discussion on the award to the Pope of the Charlemagne prize, the first political prize to be established in West Germany after the war. The prize was the brainchild of Kurt Pfeifer, an Aachen textile merchant, and a former, if (it is said) reluctant member of the Nazi party.  It is awarded every Ascension Day in, appropriately enough, Aachen, Charlemagne’s former capital, ‘for the most valuable contribution to West European understanding.’ This year, however the ceremony took place in Rome.

Ed West (my emphasis added):

The awards ceremony, held in the Vatican, was addressed by Martin Schulz, president of the European Parliament, Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, and Donald Tusk, president of the European Council.

They must have been pleased to hear Francis identify Brussels with “the soul of Europe”. On immigration, the Pope brushed aside the fears of Eurosceptics and even the anxieties of pro-EU national politicians. Tighter border controls were a manifestation of “meanness”, serving “our own selfish interests”. It’s not hard to work out where the Holy Father’s sympathies lie in the British referendum. The Vatican’s “foreign minister”, the Liverpool-born Archbishop Paul Gallagher, has said bluntly: “Better in than out.”

Officially, Britain’s Roman Catholic Church is taking a neutral position on Brexit, but…

West delves into the early history of the EU, going back to the European Coal and Steel Community (1951), the body that launched the process of European integration on its current path:

 [The] European Coal and Steel Community [was]formed after the Second World War by Robert Schuman, Jean Monnet, Konrad Adenauer and Alcide De Gasperi. Of these, only Monnet – the French political economist who became the community’s first president – was not a conspicuously devout Catholic. (His private life was complicated: he was married to a woman who left her husband for him and had to travel to Moscow to obtain a divorce; the Monnets could not have a Catholic wedding until the first husband was dead, by which time Jean was 85. The ceremony took place in the basilica at Lourdes.)

Schuman, twice prime minister of France, and De Gasperi, eight times prime minister of Italy and founder of the Christian Democrats, were men of such personal holiness that there have been calls to canonise them. Adenauer, the scheming first Chancellor of West Germany, is not a candidate for sainthood – but he was a trenchantly Catholic statesman during a political career lasting 60 years.

For Schuman, Adenauer and De Gasperi, the European Economic Community was fundamentally a Catholic project with roots that – in their imaginations, at least – could be traced back to Charlemagne….

In 2008 the Catholic historian Alan Fimister published a book arguing that Schuman’s plans for Europe were “to a remarkable degree, the conscious implementation of the Neo-Thomistic project of Pope Leo XIII”.

Schuman, De Gasperi and Adenauer all believed that the answer to totalitarian ideologies lay in Leo’s vision of the restoration of “the principles of the Christian life in civil and domestic society”.

But Schuman went further: he subscribed to the Catholic philosopher Jacques Maritain’s notion of supranational democracy as the foundation for a new Christendom. “He held fast to the magisterium’s demand that the final destination of Catholic political action must be the recognition by the civil order of the truth of the Faith,” writes Fimister.

Now, I have nothing to say about, good heavens, Neo-Thomistic projects (and I can think of kinder ways to describe Adenauer, a very great German chancellor, than ‘scheming’), but what’s interesting about all this is the way that these statesmen took Roman Catholic notions of Christendom, a Christian ‘ummah’, if you like, and transformed them into the idea of ‘supranational democracy’. Democracy? The idea of a supranational ‘democracy’ was, of course, a nod to the conventional political pieties of the postwar era. But a nod is all that it was, as those founders knew. Without a European ‘demos’, there could be no European democracy. There was no European demos then, and there is no European demos now.  What’s left is supranational technocracy, something that’s very different.

West, focused on the Catholic debate (his whole piece is well worth reading) does not mention another of the founding key fathers of the European Union, Altiero Spinelli. Spinelli was no Catholic, but a communist, and then (eventually) a former communist, and thus, critically, someone else susceptible to a universalist creed impatient with borders. Democracy was not so much of a priority for him either.  Here is an extract (via Richard North and Christopher Booker’s The Great Deception) of what Spinelli and Ernesto Rossi, a fellow political prisoner under Mussolini, wrote in their Ventotene manifesto (1944) (my emphasis added):

During the revolutionary crisis, this [European] movement will have the task of organising and guiding progressive forces, using all the popular bodies which form spontaneously, incandescent melting pots in which the revolutionary masses are mixed, not for the creation of plebiscites, but rather waiting to be guided.

It derives its vision and certainty of what must be done from the knowledge that it represents the deepest needs of modern society and not from any previous recognition by popular will, as yet non-existent. In this way it issues the basic guidelines of the new order, the first social discipline directed to the unformed masses. By this dictatorship of the revolutionary party a new State will be formed, and around this State new, genuine democracy will grow.

Spinelli died in 1986, after a distinguished career in the politics of the emerging European Union. He remains an honored figure in the EU’s pantheon. The main building in the EU’s (Brussels) parliament is named after him. The Spinelli Group is an initiative launched in 2010 led by the likes of Guy Verfhofstadt, the eurofundamentalist (and former Belgian prime minister) who heads up ALDE, the EU Parliament’s ‘liberal’ family’ and Daniel Cohn-Bendit, ‘Dany le Rouge’ of Paris ’68 infamy.  

Ancient history, yes, to a degree, but only to a degree: To understand the EU it is necessary to understand its intellectual and political roots. And to understand the EU and to oppose Brexit is, I would argue, an….interesting choice.