Clinton Corruption Update for March 15, 2017

March 15th, 2017

Beware the Ides of March! Also beware the Clinton Family (and their fixer functionaries John and Tony Podesta), who keep refusing to fade from public sight:

  • Less than half of the projects undertaken by the Clinton Global Initiative have been completed.
  • So what do you do when you have a potentially useful and informative piece, but don’t trust the source? Report it with a caveat, namely that this comes from Infowars: “Russian Bank Docs Show How Putin Laundered Money to Hillary & Podesta“:

    Congress may want to examine concrete evidence showing Russian President Vladimir Putin paying Hillary Clinton and John Podesta for a long time before the mainstream media goes even more overboard trying to fabricate a tie between Putin and President Donald Trump.

    The money trail hunt begins with a document Infowars has obtained from the Russian Central Bank “Registry of Significant Control,” known generally as the “RSC Registry.”

    This document traces the ownership of Metcombank, a relatively small Russian-domiciled bank located in the Russian Ural Mountains, to ownership by Viktor Vekselberg, a Russian billionaire with close ties to Putin.

    As we shall see this document provides evidence of the circuitous path the Russian government has been using since Hillary Clinton was secretary of state to make large financial payments to John Podesta and to the Clinton Foundation.

    As the RSC Registry makes clear, Vekselberg has been paying Clinton and Podesta through a complicated money laundering scheme involving Metcombank in Russia, with payments tracing back to the Renova Group, a Russian-based energy and investment international conglomerate also owned by Vekselberg.

    Evidently some of the money flowing to Podesta is coming via the previously mentioned Joule Unlimited:

    In the summer of 2011, while he was advising then-Secretary Clinton on State Department policy, John Podesta joined the board of three Joule entities: Joule Unlimited, a small Massachusetts-based energy company; its holding company, Joule Global Holdings, N.V., which was based in the Netherlands; and Joule Global Stichting, which appears to be the ultimate controlling entity.

    Podesta, it turns out, has been paid an undisclosed amount, starting in 2011, for serving on the executive board of Joule Unlimited that he neglected to report to regulatory authorities in the U.S., as well consulting fees from the Wyss Foundation, a group controlled by Swiss billionaire Hansjörg Wyss, an investor in Joule Energy.

    In an Aug. 2016 report entitled “From Russia with Money,” the Government Accountability Institute noted that Podesta consulted for a foundation run by one of the investors in Joule Energy, Hansjörg Wyss, who in turn was a major Clinton Foundation donor.

    Podesta was evidently paid $87,000 by the Wyss Foundation in 2013, according to federal tax records.

    The GAI report also documented the Wyss Charitable Foundation has given between $1 million to $5 million to the Clinton Foundation.

    Some of the information here is new (or at least new to me), while other bits accord with what we already know about Podesta ties to Putin. I would still like to see external verification from a more reliable source for the new information.

  • “In pushing its Manchurian-candidate-Trump narrative, the media fail to mention the much deeper ties of Democratic lobbyists to Russia. Don’t worry, the media seems to say: Even though they are representing Russia, the lobbyists are good upstanding citizens, not like the Trump people. They can be trusted with such delicate matters.”

    The media’s focus on Trump’s Russian connections ignores the much more extensive and lucrative business relationships of top Democrats with Kremlin-associated oligarchs and companies. Thanks to the Panama Papers, we know that the Podesta Group (founded by John Podesta’s brother, Tony) lobbied for Russia’s largest bank, Sberbank. “Sberbank is the Kremlin, they don’t do anything major without Putin’s go-ahead, and they don’t tell him ‘no’ either,” explained a retired senior U.S. intelligence official. According to a Reuters report, Tony Podesta was “among the high-profile lobbyists registered to represent organizations backing Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich.” Among these was the European Center, which paid Podesta $900,000 for his lobbying.

    That’s not all: The busy Podesta Group also represented Uranium One, a uranium company acquired by the Russian government which received approval from Hillary Clinton’s State Department to mine for uranium in the U.S. and gave Russia twenty percent control of US uranium. The New York Times reported Uranium One’s chairman, Frank Guistra, made significant donations to the Clinton Foundation, and Bill Clinton was paid $500,000 for one speech from a Russian investment bank that has “links to the Kremlin that was promoting Uranium One stock.” Notably, Frank Giustra, the Clinton Foundation’s largest and most controversial donor, does not appear anywhere in Clinton’s “non-private” emails. It is possible that the emails of such key donors were automatically scrubbed to protect the Clinton Foundation.

    Let’s not leave out fugitive Ukrainian oligarch, Dymtro Firtash. He is represented by Democratic heavyweight lawyer, Lanny Davis, who accused Trump of “inviting Putin to commit espionage” (Trump’s quip: If Putin has Hillary’s emails, release them) but denies all wrongdoing by Hillary.

  • Indeed, Sberbank confirmed it hired Tony Podesta, elder brother of John Podesta, to get various Obama-era sanctions lifted.
  • There’s just one tiny little problem: “Democratic super lobbyist Tony Podesta failed to register under the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA) when he agreed to represent Sberbank, Russia’s largest bank.”
  • Lot’s of people in Hillary Clinton’s campaign met with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Five Clinton-Russia Bombshells Progressives Yawned Over.” Including much already covered here, although I might have missed this one: “Ian Telfer, the head of the Russian government’s uranium company, Uranium One, made four foreign donations totaling $2.35 million to the Clinton Foundation, as the New York Times reported.”
  • “The Clinton Foundation has confirmed it accepted a $1 million gift from Qatar while Hillary Clinton was U.S. secretary of state without informing the State Department, even though she had promised to let the agency review new or significantly increased support from foreign governments.”
  • “FBI Quietly Releases Batch #7 of Clinton Investigation Notes and Interviews.” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Illegal fundraiser for the Clintons made secret tape because he feared being ASSASSINATED over what he knew – and used it to reveal Democrats’ bid to silence him.” Caveat the first: This is on Johnny Chung, Bill Clinton fundraiser back in 1996, who shows up in Year of the Rat, so it’s not exactly breaking news. Caveat the second: Daily Mail. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • But as long as we’re there, here’s a brief overview of the Clinton’s China connections. (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • It’s time to investigate the Clinton Foundation. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Why won’t the Trump State Department look for Hillary’s emails? (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • “State Department Inspector General officials edited out passages of a high-profile report in 2013 that could have embarrassed Hillary Clinton just days before she quit President Obama’s Cabinet.” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Judicial Watch sues for information on Bill Clinton’s plane meeting with Loretta Lynch. (Hat tip: Instapundit.)
  • Not a surprise: Former Hillary Clinton Staffers Are Driving the Anti-Trump Resistance Movement:

    Three of the five top strategists behind the March are key Clinton staffers: De’Ara Balenger, Meredith Shepard and Sarah Sophia Flicker. And three lower-level Women’s March staffers (Mariam Ehrari, Hannah Rosenzweig and Caitlyn Ryan) were essential members of Clinton’s extended campaign staff.

    Balenger was Huma Abedin’s right-hand woman, reporting directly to Clinton’s top deputy and closest friend. Before joining Clinton’s campaign, she worked directly with disgraced State Department aide Cheryl Mills, who was at the center of Clinton’s private email server controversy, and was accused of wielding the power of the State Department to benefit the Clinton Foundation’s top donors.

    (Hat tip: Director Blue.)

  • The media keeps pimping Chelsea Clinton.
  • Although by “the media,” more often than not it’s The Hill doing the pimping:

    She is not a thing. Stop trying to make her a thing. She is not going to be the Savior of the Democratic Party, because no one wants to vote for a Clinton anymore. Everyone is tired of the Clintons. You can’t find any buzz about any of them outside of Peter Daou’s timeline, and that has devolved into pretty much just openly weeping at this point.

    It’s incredibly difficult to take a news site that constantly posts Chelsea Clinton’s every thought as news serious. The Hill is little more than a joke right now pushing a punchline no one finds funny.

  • Pat Condell on Feminism and Muslim Rape Culture

    March 14th, 2017

    Once again, Pat Condell brings the wood when it comes to feminism turning a blind eye to the Islamic rape culture growing in Europe:

    “How threatening does this invasion get before you vote against it?”

    Tidbit: A Syrian “refugee” received all of two months in jail for raping and sodomizing a 13-year old.

    If you’re unfamiliar with the Anne Marie Waters that Condell mentions, she’s director of Sharia Watch UK. Here’s her website.

    Smokin!

    March 13th, 2017

    Yesterday, I finished a story for an invitation-only anthology.

    Today I had a job interview.

    Both those things went well, but I can no longer brain today. Maybe brain tomorrow.

    So enjoy a single link instead of actual content: “Defense lawyer’s pants catch fire during arson trial.”

    Bonus: Florida! Like you couldn’t already guess that…

    Bad Gun Reporting From Fox News

    March 11th, 2017

    Here’s one of those articles where the headline implies a lot more than the facts of the story: “Chicago’s violent gangs looting freight cars filled with guns.”

    Did you hear that? Freight cars filled with guns!

    The actual statistics are considerably less dramatic: “The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives said that since 2013, more than 150 firearms have been reported stolen from freight trains.” That’s not freight cars filled with guns, that’s a little over one gun stole from trains every ten days nationwide.

    Read deeper and it turns out that Chicago gangs hit one big score of 100 Rugers in 2015. Which means that discounting that, just over one gun a month is being stolen from trains.

    The entire article looks like the writer tried to tart up a very prosaic story with a sensationalist slant and a bucket of pulp fiction adjectives: “brazen,” “shiny, new guns” (so they were nickle plated?), “ransacking,” “blood-soaked streets” (“Honey, better get out the squeegee! The streets are blood-soaked again today!”), etc.

    And then there’s this sentence describing the Ruger score: “In one instance, thieves stole more than 100 new Ruger handguns described as ‘pretty’ in comparison to the shoddy, makeshift guns criminals in Chicago’s rough streets often use.”

    Shoddy? Fine. There are plenty of pot metal guns the firearms community regards as shoddy (Lorcin comes to mind). But “makeshift?” Does the author think significant numbers of Chicago gangbangers are using zip guns? Or 3D printed guns?

    Chicago has very real crime problems it’s antiquated gun control laws are doing nothing to address. Outside the 2015 Ruger theft, there’s nothing in the piece to suggest that guns stolen from freight trains are a significant part of it.

    LinkSwarm for March 10, 2017

    March 10th, 2017

    Welcome to Friday! (And welcome Instapundit readers coming in off Stephen Green’s link to yesterday’s border security roundup.)

    First up: Liberalism’s continued idée fixe on the “Russians hacked the election” fantasy.

  • If Trump had actually been in the pay of the Russians, Wayne Barrett, who worked the Trump beat for the Village Voice for 40 years, would have known about it. “Wayne Barrett had this file for 40 years, and if neither he nor the reporters he trained got this story, it’s not a story.”
  • Even some liberals are now seeing the Russian fantasy as a dangerous distraction that helps Trump.
  • Lefty Glenn Greenwald agrees:

    This obsession with Russia conspiracy tales is poisoning all aspects of U.S. political discourse and weakening any chance for resisting Trump’s actual abuses and excesses. Those who wake up every day to hype the latest episode of this Russia/Trump spy drama tell themselves that they’re bravely undermining and subverting Trump, but they’re doing exactly the opposite.

    This crazed conspiracy mongering is further discrediting U.S. media outlets, making Washington seem even more distant from and irrelevant to the lives of millions of Americans, degrading discourse to the lowliest Trumpian circus level on which he thrives, and is misdirecting huge portions of opposition energy and thought into an exciting but fictitious spy novel – all of which directly redounds to Trump’s benefit.

    Snip.

    Above all else, it’s because it’s an offensive assault on reason. This kind of deranged discourse is an attack on basic journalistic integrity, on any minimal obligation to ensure that one’s claims are based in evidence rather than desire, fantasy, and herd-enforced delusions. And it’s emanating from the most established and mainstream precincts of U.S. political and media elites, who have processed the severe disorientation and loss of position they feel from Trump’s shock election not by doing the work to patiently formulate cogent, effective strategies against him, but rather by desperately latching onto online “dot-connecting” charlatans and spewing the most unhinged Birther-level conspiracies that require a complete abandonment of basic principles of rationality and skepticism.

  • The timidness of the House GOP ObamaCare repeal plan shows that liberalism has already won.
  • Liberals threaten to primary Democratic senators who vote for cloture on Neil Gorsuch. I’m sure there’s no way that supergenius plan could possibly backfire on them…
  • Speaking of Gorsuch, “the American Bar Association’s Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary voted unanimously to rate Neil Gorsuch as “well qualified” to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States,” the highest rating possible. (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • Nate Silver at 538: “There Really Was A Liberal Media Bubble.” Silver comes to many of the same conclusions about MSM blinders that conservatives have been making for years. A few samples:
    • “Much of The New York Times’s coverage, for instance, implied that Clinton’s odds were close to 100 percent.”

    • “In a country where educational attainment is an increasingly important predictor of cultural and political behavior, some 92 percent of journalists have college degrees. A degree didn’t used to be a de facto prerequisite7 for a reporting job; just 70 percent of journalists had college degrees in 1982 and only 58 percent did in 1971.”
    • “The political diversity of journalists is not very strong, either. As of 2013, only 7 percent of them identified as Republicans.”
    • “All things considered, then, the conditions of political journalism are poor for crowd wisdom and ripe for groupthink.”
  • The headline is “Battle for Manbij shows Syria’s civil war is almost over – and it looks like Bashar Assad has won.” And that’s part of it. But there’s a lot of information on just how complex the Syrian-Iraqi battlespace is:

    Winners and losers are emerging in what may be the final phase of the Syrian civil war as anti-Isis forces prepare for an attack aimed at capturing Raqqa, the de facto Isis capital in Syria. Kurdish-led Syrian fighters say they have seized part of the road south of Raqqa, cutting Isis off from its other territory further east.

    Isis is confronting an array of enemies approaching Raqqa, but these are divided, with competing agendas and ambitions. The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), whose main fighting force is the Syrian Kurdish Popular Mobilisation Units (YPG), backed by the devastating firepower of the US-led air coalition, are now getting close to Raqqa and are likely to receive additional US support. The US currently has 500 Special Operations troops in north-east Syria and may move in American-operated heavy artillery to reinforce the attack on Raqqa.

    This is bad news for Turkey, whose military foray into northern Syria called Operation Euphrates Shield began last August, as it is being squeezed from all sides. In particular, an elaborate political and military chess game is being played around the town of Manbij, captured by the SDF last year, with the aim of excluding Turkey, which had declared it to be its next target. The Turkish priority in Syria is to contain and if possible reduce or eliminate the power of Syrian Kurds whom Ankara sees as supporting the Kurdish insurrection in Turkey.

  • “The U.S. military is sending an additional 2,500 ground combat troops to a staging base in Kuwait from which they could be called upon to back up coalition forces battling the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.” So instead of following Obama’s strategy of losing slowly and expensively, President Trump’s goal appears to be to crush the Islamic State entirely.
  • “Marine Le Pen: ‘France Isn’t Burkinis on the Beach, France is Brigitte Bardot.'” France is a lot of things, but they could certainly do worse than Brigitte Bardot…

    (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)

  • 40% of households in Philadelphia can’t pay their water bill.” Remind me again which party runs Philadelphia… (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • School restages Trump-Clinton debates, but with a woman playing Trump and a man playing Hillary. Result: Hillary loses even more badly than before. “It seems to me that Hillary’s gender actually covered up her flaws, such as inauthenticity, scriptedness, recitations of pablum, and fake-smiling, while, when she was played by a male actor, those flaws were suddenly very visible to the people who think of themselves as ‘gender-woke’ but maybe should just think of themselves as gender partisans.”
  • Orrin Hatch reneges on retirement promise. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • Social Justice Syndrome: “Rising Tide of Personality Disorders Among Millennials.”
  • “100 of the 544 Women’s March partners received a total of $246,637,217 from [George] Soros between 2000 and 2014. Soros gave more than $1 million to 36 of those partners, including the Center for Reproductive Rights, MoveOn.org, and the Natural Resources Defense Council.” (Hat tip: The Other McCain.)
  • Washington Examiner writer finds the perfect place to visit on the “Day Without Women”: Hooters. I guess that’s an excuse to break out this classic:

    (Hat tip: Director Blue.)

  • Charles Murray on what it was like to be in the middle of a violent crowd trying to assault him.
  • Lawsuit of man wrongly expelled from Amherst for a “rape” that consisted of him receiving a blowjob while he was passed out can move forward after a judge’s ruling.
  • “Defense contracting firm owners Jeffrey Harrington and Michael Mayer, and employee sisters Kimberlee Hewitt and Natalee Hewitt, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in California to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and file false claims for using their companies — Veteran Logistics, Inc., Industrial Xchange, Inc., and Boston Laser Technology, Inc. — to sell the government $45 million worth of mostly incorrect and overpriced products.” As far as I can tell, this naval contracting scandal is unrelated to the Fat Leonard naval contracting scandal. Did the Navy just forget to hire auditors?
  • What’s a little rape to Democrats if there are pipelines to be protested?
  • Lynne Stewart, the radical lawyer and convicted felon who represented murderous anti-American scumbags pro bono, has died.
  • Another day, another fake hate crime exposed.
  • CNN’s new frontier in tastelessness: Cannibalism. (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • Speaking of CNN: “CNN cuts feed on guest after he cites jihad terror cases involving ‘refugees.'”
  • “Trump Immigration Order Requires Govt Report on ‘Honor Killings‘ by Foreign Nationals.”
  • Don’t believe everything you read about the CIA Vault7 leak. (Hat tip: Borepatch.)
  • Radio Shack to close another 187 stores. In other news, Radio Shack still has stores to close. I also ask your forgiveness in advance when I rerun this joke next year. (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • In prison, mackerel can be exchanged for goods and services.
  • Brings an entire new meaning to the phrase “Got wood?”
  • Japanese man dies after being crushed under six tons of pornography. (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • Note that I now have a Gab account in addition to my Twitter account.
  • Scenes From Securing the Border

    March 9th, 2017

    What happens when you actually start enforcing the law? Oddly enough, lawbreaking goes down.

    The same is true of enforcing laws for border control and immigration.

    There’s been a lot of news on the border control and immigration front, starting with President Trump issuing a revised executive order banning travelers from terrorism-exporting nations. This version is more narrowly tailored, excludes Iraq, and spells out that it does not apply to existing visa and green card holders.

    Daniel R. DePetris at the National Interest thinks the new Executive Order is much improved. “Overall, the second version of the ‘Presidential Executive Order on Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States’ is far and away a better product than the first. It’s more detailed, comprehensive and bureaucratically vetted than the original.”

    Other border control news:

  • Illegal alien border crossings were way down during President Trump’s first month in office. “In January, 31,575 individuals were taken into custody between ports of entry on the southwest border. That contrasts with an average of more than 45,000 for each of the previous three months, according to a CPB report released Monday.” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • And that trend appears to be continuing. “The Homeland Security Department said Wednesday night that people caught crossing the border illegally had plummeted from 31,578 in January to 18,762 in February.” (Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ.)
  • Half of all border crossing apprehensions were in the Rio Grande region. The question is whether most illegal alien border crossings occurred there, or where it is an artifact of increased Texas Department of Public Safety border enforcement there.
  • But there are significant declines in illegal alien crossings there as well, as indicated by the closing of a temporary holding facility.
  • Enforcement is starting with over a million illegal aliens who already have removal orders filed against them.
  • The New York Times is shocked, shocked that illegal aliens who are here illegally are being deported because they’re here illegally.
  • Likewise, the illegal aliens themselves are “panicking” over the possibility of being deported. Let’s let Professor Rock break down how people may avoid this fate:

  • Further: If you’re already breaking the law, maybe you shouldn’t appear at a pro-illegal alien press conference and tell people how you’re breaking the law, or you might get deported.
  • The crackdown has led to what conservatives have said would happen all along: self-deportation. “Trump talks tough about a crack down on illegals and a step up of deportations. ICE goes out, does a few raids and deports a few illegals and the dolts in the press publicize it everywhere, wholly unaware that they have become unwitting allies of Trump. Illegals witness the hysteria in the press and decide to turn tail and run.” (Hat tip: Director Blue.)
  • It seems that a lot of sanctuary cities that loudly proclaimed they were going to defy President Trump over border enforcement are backing down. “Miami-Dade county rescinds ‘sanctuary’ status over Trump’s threat to withhold federal funds.”
  • Although increased enforcement is attracting all the attention, another big part of President Trump’s immigration reform is selecting immigrants based on skill rather than family preferences.
  • Day laborers support President Trump’s crackdown on illegal aliens. Even some of the illegal aliens:

    Pacheco supports Trump even though he’s one of the 11 million undocumented immigrants who could be deported. “Trump for me is a good president,” he says. “He has to fix things here. There’s a lot of drugs being sold around here. A lot of people sell drugs. And they hide within the workers. They even come here, or hide other places around here. They hide among us.”

    (Hat tip: Instapundit.)

  • As promised at his joint address, President Trump has created Victims Of Immigration Crime Engagement, an office to serve U.S. victims of illegal alien crime.
  • Illegal alien arrested for chopping off his own mother’s head. “Oliver Funes-Machado, 18, is originally from Honduras and is accused of repeatedly stabbing his 35-year-old mother in their Zebulon home Monday. He allegedly beheaded her and then walked outside, holding her head in one hand and the knife in the other as he waited for Franklin County deputies to arrive. He was the one who called 911.” No word on whether he was one of Obama’s “Dreamers” or not… (Hat tip: Stephen Green at Instapundit.)
  • Finally, a weird little story from earlier this week: Washington Post Employee Arrested On Charges Of Impersonating ICE Agent. Remember: No matter how much you may want to help, impersonating a federal officer is a felony. Here’s Professor Rock with that handy tip again:

    Advice so nice it bears repeating twice…

  • TPPF Call on ObamaCare Replacement: “Mend and Expand, Not Repeal and Replace”

    March 8th, 2017

    I just got off a conference call with the Texas Public Policy Foundation on the House GOP ObamaCare replacement discussed yesterday. Here are some brief notes from the call:

    Chris Jacobs:

  • Only one mandate repealed, retains the rest and maintains federal control over health care.
  • The current bill doesn’t limit Medicaid expansion the way the 2015 bill did.
  • Federal subsidies for insurers remain.
  • The bill actually increases federal control of health care.
  • Conservatives need people to stand up for actual repeal of ObamaCare.
  • Dr. Deane Waldman:

  • The GOP treatment plan doesn’t address why the patient is actually sick.
  • The problem is federal control of the health care system.
  • It’s not repeal and replace, it’s mend and expand.
  • Need control at the state level.
  • Chip Roy:

  • Fundamentally not a repeal of ObamaCare.
  • Maintains the medicaid expansion to able-bodied adults.
  • Maintains the preventative and contraception mandate.
  • Maintains the incentive to drive more people into Medicaid.
  • I asked a followup question of Chris Jacobs about the preventative and contraception mandate. He said it’s left entirely in place. While that mandate can be eliminated administratively by HHS Secretary Tom Price, Democrats could reinstitute it by the same method in the future.

    Chip Roy: This bill fundamentally embraces all that is wrong with ObamaCare.

    TPPF Looks at House’s ObamaCare Repeal and Replace Plan…and is Not Impressed

    March 7th, 2017

    House Republicans have finally produced the long-awaited ObamaCare replacement bill.

    Chris Jacobs of the Texas Public Policy Foundation took a look at the plan and was distinctly unimpressed:

  • The bill falls far short of making good on the promise to fully repeal Obamacare and fails to fundamentally change federal control over supply and demand of healthcare.

  • This plan fails to repeal most of the costly mandates and insurance regulations driving up premiums and deductibles.
  • This plan replaces Obamacare’s subsidy scheme with a new costly federal entitlement in the form of a refundable tax credit.
  • This plan leaves significant portions of the flawed and costly Medicaid expansion intact by delaying the freeze on Medicaid enrollment, maintaining the expansion of the program to the able bodied, and providing a pathway for non-expansion states to accept enhanced federal dollars.
  • Congress should be focused on policy solutions that respect states, patients, doctors, and families by lowering costs, increasing quality of care, and providing greater choice and competition in healthcare while empowering states. This plan does not live up to those benchmarks and continues many of the flawed solutions first promulgated under Obamacare.

    This doesn’t sound good:

    Some conservatives may note the significant changes in the program when compared to the leaked discussion draft — let alone the program’s initial variation, proposed by House Republicans in their alternative to Obamacare in 2009. These changes have turned the program’s focus increasingly towards “stabilizing markets,” and subsidizing health insurers to incentivize continued participation in insurance markets. Some conservatives therefore may be concerned that this program amounts to a $100 billion bailout fund for insurers — one that could infringe upon state sovereignty.

    This sounds pretty heinous as well:

    Continuous Coverage: Requires insurers, beginning after the 2018 open enrollment period (i.e., open enrollment for 2019, or special enrollment periods during the 2018 plan year), to increase premiums for individuals without continuous health insurance coverage. The premium could increase by 30 percent for individuals who have a coverage gap of more than 63 days during the previous 12 months. Insurers could maintain the 30 percent premium increase for a 12 month period. Requires individuals to show proof of continuous coverage, and requires insurers to provide said proof in the form of certificates. Some conservatives may be concerned that this provision maintains the federal intrusion over insurance markets exacerbated by Obamacare, rather than devolving insurance regulation back to the states.

    There are good things in the bill: It zeroes out penalties from the insurance mandate, repeals a host of ObamaCare taxes, and defunds Planned Parenthood. But it leaves in place the structure of federal interference in health insurance. That’s a huge disappointment, considering that pretty much every House Republican ran for election on a platform of full repeal of ObamaCare.

    They can do better.

    (Note: I’m also not seeing language that makes good on President Trump’s joint address promise to allow health insurance sales across state lines. I’m waiting to hear back Jacobs to see if I missed that.)

    Edited to add: Just after I published this I got a reply:

    Trying to Make Sense of #Obamagate Wiretapping

    March 6th, 2017

    The latest controversy began, as so many seem to, with a President Trump tweet:

    My first thought was “Eh, Trump’s talking out his ass.” Which happens from time to time.

    But then further reports came in, and the Obama Administration talking points started to take the form of “Ah, well, actually, here, have this carefully worded denial that dances around the main issue.”

    Here’s Andrew McCarthy in National Review (hardly the most Trump-friendly outlet on the right) dissecting the non-denial denials about what actually happened:

    To summarize, reporting indicates that, prior to June 2016, the Obama Justice Department and FBI considered a criminal investigation of Trump associates, and perhaps Trump himself, based on concerns about connections to Russian financial institutions. Preliminary poking around indicated that there was nothing criminal involved. Rather than shut the case down, though, the Obama Justice Department converted it into a national-security investigation under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). FISA allows the government, if it gets court permission, to conduct electronic surveillance (which could include wiretapping, monitoring of e-mail, and the like) against those it alleges are “agents of a foreign power.” FISA applications and the evidence garnered from them are classified – i.e., we would not know about any of this unless someone had leaked classified information to the media, a felony.

    In June, the Obama Justice Department submitted an application that apparently “named” Trump in addition to some of his associates. As I have stressed, it is unclear whether “named” in this context indicates that Trump himself was cited as a person the Justice Department was alleging was a Russian agent whom it wanted to surveil. It could instead mean that Trump’s name was merely mentioned in an application that sought to conduct surveillance on other alleged Russian agents. President Trump’s tweets on Saturday claimed that “President Obama . . . tapp[ed] my phones[,]” which makes it more likely that Trump was targeted for surveillance, rather than merely mentioned in the application.

    In any event, the FISA court reportedly turned down the Obama Justice Department’s request, which is notable: The FISA court is notoriously solicitous of government requests to conduct national-security surveillance (although, as I’ve noted over the years, the claim by many that it is a rubber-stamp is overblown).

    Not taking no for an answer, the Obama Justice Department evidently returned to the FISA court in October 2016, the critical final weeks of the presidential campaign. This time, the Justice Department submitted a narrowly tailored application that did not mention Trump. The court apparently granted it, authorizing surveillance of some Trump associates. It is unknown whether that surveillance is still underway, but the New York Times has identified – again, based on illegal leaks of classified information – at least three of its targets: Paul Manafort (the former Trump campaign chairman who was ousted in August), and two others whose connection to the Trump campaign was loose at best, Manafort’s former political-consulting business partner Roger Stone, and investor Carter Page. The Times report (from mid-January) includes a lot of heavy breathing about potential ties between the Trump campaign and Russia; but it ultimately concedes that the government’s FISA investigation may have nothing to do with Trump, the campaign, or alleged Russian efforts to interfere in the U.S. election by hacking e-mail accounts.

    Trump’s tweets on Saturday prompted some interesting “denials” from the Obama camp. These can be summarized in the statement put out by Obama spokesman Kevin Lewis:

    A cardinal rule of the Obama Administration was that no White House official ever interfered with any independent investigation led by the Department of Justice. As part of that practice, neither President Obama nor any White House official ever ordered surveillance on any U.S. citizen. Any suggestion otherwise is simply false.

    This seems disingenuous on several levels.

    First, as Obama officials well know, under the FISA process, it is technically the FISA court that “orders” surveillance. And by statute, it is the Justice Department, not the White House, that represents the government in proceedings before the FISA court. So, the issue is not whether Obama or some member of his White House staff “ordered” surveillance of Trump and his associates. The issues are (a) whether the Obama Justice Department sought such surveillance authorization from the FISA court, and (b) whether, if the Justice Department did that, the White House was aware of or complicit in the decision to do so. Personally, given the explosive and controversial nature of the surveillance request we are talking about – an application to wiretap the presidential candidate of the opposition party, and some of his associates, during the heat of the presidential campaign, based on the allegation that the candidate and his associates were acting as Russian agents – it seems to me that there is less than zero chance that could have happened without consultation between the Justice Department and the White House.

    Second, the business about never ordering surveillance against American citizens is nonsense. Obama had American citizens killed in drone operations. Obviously, that was not done in the U.S. or through the FISA process; it was done overseas, under the president’s commander-in-chief and statutory authority during wartime. But the notion that Obama would never have an American subject to surveillance is absurd.

    Third, that brings us to a related point: FISA national-security investigations are not like criminal investigations. They are more like covert intelligence operations – which presidents personally sign off on. The intention is not to build a criminal case; it is to gather information about what foreign powers are up, particularly on U.S. soil. One of the points in FISA proceedings’ being classified is that they remain secret – the idea is not to prejudice an American citizen with publication of the fact that he has been subjected to surveillance even though he is not alleged to have engaged in criminal wrongdoing.

    Snip.

    To be clear, there does not seem to be any evidence, at least that I know of, to suggest that any surveillance or requests to conduct surveillance against then-candidate Donald Trump was done outside the FISA process.

    Nevertheless, whether done inside or outside the FISA process, it would be a scandal of Watergate dimension if a presidential administration sought to conduct, or did conduct, national-security surveillance against the presidential candidate of the opposition party. Unless there was some powerful evidence that the candidate was actually acting as an agent of a foreign power, such activity would amount to a pretextual use of national-security power for political purposes. That is the kind of abuse that led to Richard Nixon’s resignation in lieu of impeachment.

    Moreover, it cannot be glossed over that, at the very time it appears the Obama Justice Department was seeking to surveil Trump and/or his associates on the pretext that they were Russian agents, the Obama Justice Department was also actively undermining and ultimately closing without charges the criminal investigation of Hillary Clinton despite significant evidence of felony misconduct that threatened national security.

    This appears to be extraordinary, politically motivated abuse of presidential power.

    So as far as I can tell:

    1. The Obama Administration attempted to conduct wireless wiretapping involving Donald Trump, and was rejected by the FISA court,

    2. The Obama Administration sought, and was granted, a FISA application to conduct wireless wiretapping involving Donald Trump associates in the final month of a heated Presidential campaign, and
    3. This information was illegally leaked to the press.

    That’s not a nothingburger.

    The question at this point is not “Was a felony committed?”, it’s “How bad a felony was committed, who ordered it, and for what reason?”

    More extensive discussing of the legal issues involved here.

    NRA Sticks It To The New York Times

    March 5th, 2017

    Via Ace of Spades comes this masterful NRA slam of the New York Times: