Poll: Mitt Romney for President?

by NR Staff

Would you support Mitt Romney as a third-party candidate? Take NR’s latest poll and let your voice be heard.

McAuliffe: That Donation from a Chinese Parliament Member Was Totally Legal!

by Jim Geraghty

Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe said his reaction was “shock” when he learned the FBI was investigating donations to his 2013 campaign. He must be the only person in Virginia who was.

Spot the problem here:

McAuliffe said he believes the investigation centers around a donation connected to Chinese businessman Wang Wenliang. Federal law forbids foreigners from contributing to U.S. political campaigns, but McAuliffe said Wang has held a green card for nearly a decade and is a legitimate donor.

In 2015, CBS News did a report on Wang Wenliang’s donation to the Clinton Foundation:

One donor - Rilin Enterprises- pledged $2 million in 2013 to the Clinton Foundation’s endowment. The company is a privately-held Chinese construction and trade conglomerate and run by billionaire Wang Wenliang, who is also a delegate to the Chinese parliament. Public records show the firm has spent $1.4 million since 2012, lobbying Congress and the State Department. The firm owns a strategic port along the border with North Korea and was also one of the contractors that built the Chinese embassy in Washington.

That report says Wang is – present tense – a delegate to the Chinese parliament; current reports say he’s a former member. (The Chinese parliament is considered a rubber-stamp; it has 2,987 members, and more than 200 are billionaires.) A July 2015 report in the Washington Post refers to him as a current member as well.

I don’t care what Wang’s visa status is; how on God’s green earth can it be legal for Chinese government officials to donate to American candidates for governor? 

The argument from McAuliffe and his lawyers will be that because Wang holds U.S. permanent resident status, he’s eligible to donate to any U.S. campaign. Except… under federal law:

the term ‘‘agent of a foreign principal’’ means— (1) any person who acts as an agent, representative, employee, or servant, or any person who acts in any other capacity at the order, request, or under the direction or control, of a foreign principal or of a person any of whose activities are directly or indirectly supervised, directed, controlled, financed, or subsidized in whole or in major part by a foreign principal, and who directly or through any other person— (i) engages within the United States in political activities for or in the interests of such foreign principal.

How hard would it be for a prosecutor to argue that Wang Wenliang, member of the Chinese parliament, acted as an agent of a foreign government?

The GOP, Religion, and Conscience

by Jay Nordlinger

Two days ago, I recorded a podcast with Rosa María Payá. Yesterday, I did a little blogpost about it. I’d like to say something further.

Rosa María, you recall, is a Cuban democracy leader, the daughter of another Cuban democracy leader, the great Oswaldo Payá, who was murdered by the Castro regime. Rosa María said any number of interesting things in the course of our conversation. But one thing made me want to write a post about American presidential politics.

She said that there is a great diversity of religious belief in Cuba. I have long known this, because of my acquaintance with Cubans, on and off the island. But she is a real student of that society, so her words carry extra force.

I thought of the recent Republican campaign — the primaries and the caucuses. Campaigning against Ted Cruz, Donald Trump said this:

“Just remember this. Just remember this. You gotta remember: In all fairness, to the best of my knowledge, not too many evangelicals come out of Cuba. Okay? Just remember that. Okay? Just remember. In all fairness, here we are.”

At this point, Trump held up a Bible.

“Just remember that, folks. When you’re casting your ballot, remember.”

On another day, targeting another candidate, Ben Carson, Trump said this:

“I’m Presbyterian. Can you believe it? I’m Presbyterian. I’m Presbyterian. I’m Presbyterian. Boy, that’s down the middle of the road, folks, in all fairness. I mean, Seventh-Day Adventist, I don’t know about. I just don’t know about.”

To do this kind of thing with other people’s religions used to be regarded as un-American. Profoundly, discordantly un-American. But in this new America, and in the new Trump GOP, it is something like normal, evidently.

The Trump army — the core of it — is probably unreachable. But I’d like to ask Trump apologists and normalizers and sweepers-under-the-rug: Are these your values? Is this what you want to get in bed with? Really? This is what you want to reward, with your votes and support?

Ben Carson, of course, was an early Trump supporter. Apparently, he does not have as much respect for himself as others do for him. Asked to explain his support, in light of what Trump did to him, he said, “I understand politics, and particularly the politics of personal destruction, and you have to admit, to some degree, it did work. A lot of people believed him.”

You have to admit. You have to admit that the Republican party has sacrificed conscience, in its nomination of Trump, its enshrinement of Trumpism.

Top Evangelicals Send Invites for Trump Meeting

by Tim Alberta

Evangelical leaders have sent out these invitations for a June 21 meeting with presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump in New York City.

The meeting, first reported by TIME, will bring Trump face-to-face with hundreds of social conservative activists during an all-day session. There will be no prepared speeches, organizers say. Instead, Trump will field questions from attendees in a casual, conversational format.

Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council and Bill Dallas of United in Purpose have spearheaded the planning, and former presidential candidate Ben Carson, now a Trump supporter, will serve as part-conduit and part-emcee. The host committee of nearly 40 members is a who’s who of Christian conservative activists, including James Dobson, Ralph Reed and Pat Robertson.

WATCH: They Supported Abortion — Until They Saw This Video

by Ericka Andersen

When faced with the reality of the abortion procedure, many people who are pro-choice change their minds instantly. A video put out by Live Action shows former abortionist Dr. Anthony Levantino describing and showing the process of a second-trimester (13-24 weeks of pregnancy) surgical abortion procedure. Dr. Levantino has preformed over 1,200 abortions and explains in detail how babies are ripped apart limb by limb in these procedures. 

Live Action approached people on the street and asked them if they were pro-choice. To those that said yes, even up to the point of birth, they showed Dr. Levantino’s video of the procedure. After watching the video, the people who claimed to be pro-choice changed their minds on the spot. They admitted they were unaware of how developed babies are at this point in pregnancy and described the video as “inhumane.” 

Watch the reactions here: 

America’s views on life are changing for the better as science and technology reveal the fascinating stages of life babies progress through from the moment of conception. Videos like this one are helping to change the debate and show uninformed individuals what it is they actually profess to believe in when they say they support pro-choice policies. 

Seeing the reality of abortion on it’s face makes people — like those in this video — oppose it outright. Exposing the brutal inhumanity of the abortion procedure may be the most powerful way to change minds and stop this tragic holocaust of children. 

Here’s the abortion-procedure video the participants in the film were shown that changed their minds on the spot: 

Senator Barrasso to Lead GOP Platform Committee

by Tim Alberta

Senator John Barrasso of Wyoming will chair the Platform Committee at this summer’s Republican National Convention, and his co-chairs will be Oklahoma governor Mary Fallin and North Carolina congresswoman Virginia Foxx, according to a source familiar with the appointments.

The committee is tasked with putting on paper the policies that Republicans — beginning with presumptive nominee Donald Trump — stand for. Accordingly, the nominee has traditionally been given latitude to choose the chairmen of the four convention committees (Platform, Rules, Credentials,  Permanent Organization) even though the official appointments come from the Republican National Committee chairman.

Barrasso, whose appointment was first reported by Politico, is chairman of the Senate GOP Policy Committee. He was one of several members of Republican leadership to meet with Trump in Washington earlier this month.

Though the Platform Committee is responsible for drafting a comprehensive document detailing the party’s stances on every policy imaginable, much of the focus in recent years has centered on social issues — namely whether opposition to same-sex marriage would be codified in the party’s platform.

In that context Barrasso is an interesting, and potentially controversial, choice. Known for his expertise on energy and health-care policy, the Wyoming senator is hardly a culture warrior. In fact, he first ran for U.S. Senate in 1996 as an abortion-rights supporter and lost in the GOP primary. By the time Barrasso was appointed to the Senate in 2007, however, he had backpedaled on abortion, and in the years since has earned 100% ratings from groups such as National Right to Life.

Fallin, meanwhile, disappointed some social conservatives last week by vetoing a bill in Oklahoma that would have made it a felony for doctors to perform abortions in the state. One evangelical leader, requesting anonymity to speak candidly about the Platform Committee leadership, says two prominent activists have already begun voicing their objection to the appointments.

The GOP’s Platform Committee has traditionally been led by a trio of elected officials — a governor, a senator, and a House member — with a rotating responsibility for chairing the group. In 2012, Virginia governor Bob McDonnell served as chairman, and his co-chairs were North Dakota senator John Hoeven and Tennessee congresswoman Marsha Blackburn.

Beyond McDonald’s Idiotic Comment, the VA System Is Still Failing

by Jim Geraghty

From the Tuesday edition of the Morning Jolt:

Beyond McDonald’s Idiotic Comment, Our System Is Still Failing Our Veterans

Quite a few people are calling for the resignation of Secretary of Veterans Affairs Bob McDonald over this remark:

During a Christian Science Monitor press event on Monday, McDonald responded ongoing attacks about how VA leaders measure patient wait times, saying the focus on specific numbers overshadows what should be the larger goal.

“What data do you get from Cleveland Clinic or Kaiser Permanente to compare with our data?” he asked. “To me, personally, the days to an appointment are really not what we should be measuring. What we should be measuring a veterans’ satisfaction.

“What really counts is how does the veteran feel about their encounter with the VA. When you go to Disney, do they measure the number of hours you wait in line? What’s important is what your satisfaction is with the experience. What I would like to move to eventually is that kind of measure.”

Yes, that’s quite stupid, on many levels –among them, Disney does measure the wait times for its rides and focuses on minimizing them to ensure happy customers. But don’t fire McDonald over this. Fire him over this report from April:

Supervisors instructed employees to falsify patient wait times at Veterans Affairs’ medical facilities in at least seven states, according to a USA TODAY analysis of more than 70 investigation reports released in recent weeks.

Overall, those reports — released after multiple inquiries and a Freedom of Information Act request — reveal for the first time specifics of widespread scheduling manipulation.

Employees at 40 VA medical facilities in 19 states and Puerto Rico regularly “zeroed out” veteran wait times, the analysis shows. In some cases, investigators found manipulation had been going on for as long as a decade. In others, it had been just a few years.

In many cases, facility leaders told investigators they clamped down the scheduling improprieties after the Phoenix scandal, but in others, investigators found they had continued unabated. The manipulation masked growing demand as new waves of veterans returned from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and as Vietnam veterans aged and needed more health care.

When McDonald took the job, he declared, “I won’t tolerate those who stifle initiative, who seek to punish people who raise legitimate concerns, or those who lack integrity in word or deed. Trust is essential in everything we do.”

Or fire him over this obvious face-saving way of adjusting the wait time measurement:

Released Monday, the Government Accountability Office’s review of appointment wait times for patients new to VA health care found that veterans wait three to eight weeks for medical appointments. Others could not see a primary care doctor at all because VA staff did not handle the appointments correctly, the report GAO report says.

On Monday, VA Secretary Bob McDonald said 97 percent of VA appointments are completed within 30 days, with the average wait time from three to six days.

The GAO and VA measure wait times differently, which is why there’s a discrepancy: VA starts counting from the day a scheduler returns a veteran’s call or request for an appointment, according to GAO health care issues director Debra Draper.

Draper said VA should count from the day a veteran calls to request an appointment.

The difference is crucial, Draper said, to understanding whether appointment wait times are in fact decreasing.

Subtract the VA wait time estimate from the GAO wait time estimate, and you conclude that some veterans are still waiting weeks just to get a response to their appointment request. I think most Americans would agree that’s a system that fails to serve its patients.

Or fire McDonald for failed implementation of the post-Shinseki reforms:

Congress and the VA came up with a fix: Veterans Choice, a $10 billion program that was supposed to give veterans a card that would let them see a non-VA doctor if they were more than 40 miles away from a VA facility or they were going to have to wait longer than 30 days for a VA provider to see them.

There was a problem, though. Congress gave the VA only 90 days to set up the system. Facing that extremely tight time frame, the VA turned to two private companies to administer the program and help veterans get an appointment with a doctor and then work with the VA to pay that doctor.

Although the idea sounds simple enough, the fix hasn’t worked out as planned. Wait times have gotten worse — not better. Compared with this time last year, there are 70,000 more appointments that took vets at least a month to be seen.

The VA says there has been a massive increase in demand for care, but it’s apparent the problem has more to do with the way Veterans Choice was set up. The program is confusing and complicated. Vets don’t understand it, doctors don’t understand it, and even VA administrators admit they can’t always figure it out.

On that last program, you can throw a little blame Congress’ way for the rushed time frame, although for obvious reasons they wanted the VA to fix this problem immediately. (Why is this so hard? The VA has a budget of $163 billion. Why can’t we just give veterans the equivalent of a credit card that can be used at any accredited medical facility?)

Wait, there’s more! Construction costs for a new VA hospital in Aurora, Colorado went $1.1 billion over the cost estimate.

Wait, there’s more!

In his speech, [House Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman Jeff] Miller railed against a lack of accountability at the VA and an agency culture that has allowed officials to spend millions of dollars on artwork and conferences with little repercussion for the gross mismanagement of the Aurora facility.

“The (House veterans) committee recently found that the Palo Alto (Calif.) VA health care system has spent at least $6.3 million on art — on art and consulting services,” he said. “These projects include an art installation on the side of a parking garage that displays quotes by Abraham Lincoln and Eleanor Roosevelt in — wait for it — in Morse code that cost $285,000. It actually lights up.”

A stupid comment is a stupid comment; but McDonald was sent to fix problems and has failed to do so.

Expect groups like Concerned Veterans for America to raise hell over this.

Tales of the Real Hillary: An Ongoing Series

by Jonah Goldberg

In the course of noodling the question “Why is Hillary Clinton unpopular?” David Brooks offers two “paradoxes.” He writes:

There are two paradoxes to her unpopularity. First, she was popular not long ago. As secretary of state she had a 66 percent approval rating. Even as recently as March 2015 her approval rating was at 50 and her disapproval rating was at 39.

It’s only since she launched a multimillion-dollar campaign to impress the American people that she has made herself so strongly disliked.

The second paradox is that, agree with her or not, she’s dedicated herself to public service. From advocate for children to senator, she has pursued her vocation tirelessly. It’s not the “what” that explains her unpopularity, it’s the “how” — the manner in which she has done it.

But what exactly do so many have against her?

I would begin my explanation with this question: Can you tell me what Hillary Clinton does for fun? We know what Obama does for fun — golf, basketball, etc. We know, unfortunately, what Trump does for fun.

Brooks goes on to argue that the real reason people don’t like Hillary is that she is — wait for it — a “workaholic.” Brooks tells us that this malady “is a form of emotional self-estrangement” and then writes some interesting things about workaholics.

With all due respect to Brooks, this is some mighty weak sauce. Frankly, the idea that someone as smart as Brooks could think Clinton’s unpopularity is a deep and impenetrable mystery is the real mystery here. And the suggestion that if she had more hobbies, people would like her more is pretty hilarious. Break out the Hummel collection! Brooks even notes that we know Obama’s hobbies — has that helped his popularity? Do his poll numbers go up after every golf outing?

But I don’t want to skip the first paradox of Clinton’s popularity, in part because it offers an opportunity for me to say “I told you so” — something I don’t get to do much these days. Brooks thinks it’s bizarre that Clinton’s poll numbers have plummeted since she left the State Department. I think it was utterly predictable — and I predicted it, often. Clinton was popular because she sat above the fray. From a USA Today column I wrote in 2013 (emphasis mine):

Her supporters cite her high approval ratings upon stepping down as secretary of State. But that popularity almost surely has more to do with the fact she stayed out of the unappetizing food fight of domestic politics over the past five years.

George W. Bush’s approval ratings have gone up over the past few years for the same reasons. But if Bush publicly started taking controversial positions, it’s doubtful that his approval trends would continue. The same holds for Clinton. The sooner she starts acting the partisan she is — and has to be to win the Democratic nomination — the sooner she will return to her role as a polarizing figure.

Clinton’s performance as secretary of State almost surely has nothing to do with her poll numbers because her performance was awfully lackluster. It’s damning with faint praise that often the first — and sometimes only — thing her promoters cite as an accomplishment is that she flew a “million miles” as secretary of State. Who cares? Talk about celebrating quantity over quality. Her tenures as senator and first lady are pretty light on major accomplishments as well.

Hillary Clinton is unpopular because she’s inauthentic and a very bad and brazen liar. Brooks is right that Clinton has dedicated her life to what he calls “public service.” And that’s fair enough. But she’s also dedicated her life to the pursuit of power — and it shows. She’s a partisan, vindictive, and somewhat paranoid public figure who is about as good at faking sincerity as she is at faking laughter. I’ve been hearing for years that Clinton needs to show “the real Hillary.” Her own consultants talked last summer about releasing “Hillary 5.0.” 


I suppose Hillary’s apparent workaholicism plays some role in her unpopularity. But, other than Brooks, does anyone think it’s anything but a minor symptom of her bigger problems? After all, Washington is full of popular workaholics. Clinton’s personality isn’t unpopular because she works so hard. She’s unpopular because her personality needs so much work.