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100 Days of Trump: Democrats’ sophomoric Senate confirmation dance should be scuttled

Aficionados of political theater were no doubt pleased on Tuesday as Democrat senators put on quite a performance poking and prodding Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch to try and uncover weak points in the judge’s belief system or judicial philosophy.

Seung Min Kim and Josh Gerstein of Politico report, “Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch faced a marathon grilling session before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, with Democrats eager to dissect his Al Frankenlengthy legal record both on the bench and as a top lawyer in the Bush administration — and whether he would be willing to take on President Donald Trump.

“Democrats have indicated they want to interrogate Gorsuch on everything from abortion and campaign finance to workers’ rights and executive power. They are also sure to press Gorsuch on his tenure as a Justice Department lawyer working on anti-terror policies in the George W. Bush administration. His views on judicial independence will also be a hot topic in light of the attacks on multiple judges by the man who nominated him.”

You’ve got to love Politico… “attacks on multiple judges by the man who nominated him.” If what the Democrats did to Gorsuch on Tuesday doesn’t constitute “attacks,” I don’t know what would qualify for the term.

It’s such a strange “dance” Supreme Court hopefuls must engage in these days. When faced with a series of leading and for lack of a better way to put it – stupid – queries about current topics or past cases, nominees have absolutely no motivation to answer the questions with any kind of thoughtful reply lest they invite more intrusion into extraneous matters that have nothing to do with serving on the bench.

Take abortion for example. Assuming Gorsuch is pro-life (I’m guessing Trump would have asked him for his views on the subject – I would have), what incentive is there to get into a prolonged intellectual discussion on the merits of Roe v. Wade with a Democrat who isn’t going to vote to confirm you anyway?

It would be like going into an abortion clinic and trying to talk the doctors into abandoning the practice.

I speculate most of the Democrat senators are lawyers and already know Roe was decided 44 years ago based on a made-up constitutional privacy right that centered on a state’s interests in regulating abortion according to viability of the baby (I’m not going to call it a fetus).

If a person facing confirmation says anything other than “Roe is a precedent that’s been affirmed many times” they instantly fall into a trap set by liberals to try and prove he or she is prejudging cases. And even if he is, big deal!

What’s the value in paying homage to a precedent like Roe that is one, based on a debatable premise (when a baby becomes “viable”) and also rests on a constitutional “right” that doesn’t originate from the plain language of the Constitution?

What judges/nominees should be free to say is, “Precedent is what it is but basically everything is on the table. That’s why precedents sometimes are modified or completely overturned.”

If precedents are presumed sacrosanct why aren’t liberals advocating for going back to Chief Justice Roger Taney’s opinion in the Dred Scott case where Taney reasoned it was okay for states to declare people with dark skin as less than human? Or to reinstate the segregationist doctrine of “Separate but Equal” from the case of Plessy v. Ferguson?

Seeing some of Gorsuch’s hearing on Tuesday it was abundantly clear that all of this is just made-for-TV theater on the Democrat side so they can look good to their leftist constituents while appearing to do their “duty” to screen Supreme Court nominees.

It’s phony and barely watchable. How they intend to draw this out for four days is beyond me. Don’t they have anything better to do? How about trying to fix the broken immigration system that allowed two illegal aliens to brutally rape a 14 year-old girl in nearby Montgomery County Maryland?

At the very least a time limit should be placed on the hearings and repetitive questions should be tossed out. Only when common sense is brought back to the process will the “dance” mercifully end.

Is Trump a failure as a negotiator if the Ryancare bill dies?

Among the many remarkable things gathered from the incredible 2016 presidential election campaign was the unprecedented ability of Donald Trump to convince people to vote for him because he is…well, Donald Trump.

Trump the non-politician relied on his dominating personality, rock-solid message and unrelenting drive to first win the Republican party’s presidential nomination and then defeat Hillary Clinton for the presidency.

Along the way Trump offered precious few specifics in debates and campaign events, preferring instead to tout his lifelong ability to negotiate as his strongest attribute. His book, The Art of the Deal, was his reference point. (To be fair, during the campaign Trump did offer a good number of teleprompter-driven policy speeches that contained many specifics.)

His opponents, ranging from Ted Cruz to Marco Rubio to Clinton herself swam in particulars citing statistic after statistic to bolster their definition of issues and proposed solutions. Many times Trump simply retorted “I will surround myself with great people and make great deals.”

Trump’s promise is now being put to the test over the Ryancare bill.

W. James Antle III of the Washington Examiner wrote, “In the run-up to Thursday's scheduled House vote on the American Health Care Act, a congressional Republican plan to repeal and replace Obamacare, President Trump has taken a leading role in trying to win over wavering GOP lawmakers and negotiate last-minute changes to the bill.

“But as of late Monday, Trump had yet to unite the party around his plan, leaving open the possibility that the votes won't be there by Thursday, and reduce Trump to a failure on his first major attempt to show he can bring the GOP together.”

There are a lot of different opinions on what would actually constitute “failure” where Trump is concerned. Under no circumstances can the president be personally blamed for the dysfunction among the GOP congressional leadership and a good number of the rank-and-file Republicans who are believers in big government.

These people are the managers of the welfare state. The primary emphasis in their campaigns is “working with Democrats and Republicans to solve problems,” squishy language that allows them to float effortlessly like lily pads in a murky bog, ask for pork goodies for their special interests without any guilt whatsoever and most importantly, to lay claim to the title of “moderate.”

Basically, this group is for everything and nothing at the same time. They’re supposedly for lower taxes, deficit reduction, eliminating waste in the federal government, providing healthcare to everyone, keeping illegal immigrant families together, doling out gobs of money for the military, same-sex marriage and for defunding Planned Parenthood – until the time comes to do it, of course.

Since there are no longer any “moderates” in the Democrat party, many of them are probably just calling themselves Republicans now. If Trump weren’t conducting such a conservative, limited government administration on so many levels, he might even fit into this category.

But as time goes on the clearer it becomes that Trump sides with the conservatives more often than not. Perhaps that’s because of the influence of Vice President Mike Pence or Trump’s closest advisors Steve Bannon and Kellyanne Conway. Or maybe he’s realized the conservatives offer the best alternatives on issues. Maybe Trump really is a true conservative cloaked in rich guy bombast and a fondness for Twitter.

Whatever the reason, Trump isn’t to blame if Ryancare dies in the House. That rests solely on Ryan himself.

“Trump seemed to realize his own predicament in a Fox News interview, when he said healthcare was ‘complex’ because whatever you do to make one group ‘happy’ makes another ‘unhappy.’,” Antle concluded in his article.

Such is life in politics. Though I don’t know for sure I’m guessing Trump was almost always able to find a soft spot in his business negotiations by discovering what was most important to each party and then devising a way to make everyone satisfied. If you’re a good talker, it’s not hard to do – I’ve seen it.

But the different factions in politics aren’t so easy to sway because they’re all after various things. The principled ones can’t be bought and there’s only so much you can offer to a senator like Rand Paul to get him onboard with your establishment-backed program.

Will the whole party sink if Trump can’t get them to “yes?” Some people seem to think so.

The respected Daniel Henninger of the Wall Street Journal wrote, “The election was also about resetting the balance of authority between Washington and the states—a key goal of this reform’s Medicaid provisions. The Democrats are united in opposition because they’ve become a rule-from-Washington party. But the Republicans?

“If this bill fails, there is only one Plan B. It will be a single-payer system enacted after 2020 with votes from what’s left of the Republican party after—Donald Trump is right about this—they get wiped out in 2018 and lose the presidency two years later. After blowing it on ObamaCare, why would anyone vote for them again?”

I don’t agree with Henninger but I think he makes some good points.

In a sense it's a positive thing that the House Democrats are all so extreme these days because it cuts down on the need to include them in the discussions. To my knowledge not a single House Democrat has been called to the White House for a Trumpian negotiation session on the Ryancare bill. The president is meeting with the Congressional Black Caucus today but I doubt it has much to do with seeking out their views on healthcare.

He already knows where the CBC stands and if he doesn’t, they’ll tell him. They want Obamacare.

The Ryancare bill will succeed or most likely fail because the House GOP leadership still doesn’t understand where the grassroots is on this issue. They see the voters’ demand for action as a greenlight to try and pass something that will satisfy some people – but only until they find out what just happened.

The only true reform in this case is for Republicans – and Trump – to keep their promise to repeal Obamacare in full. The rest of the chips will fall through the legislative process.

Stakes heat up on Ryancare as Trump warns conservative holdouts

While Judge Neil Gorsuch was enduring Democrats’ absurd Senate confirmation interrogation “dance” on Tuesday, House Republicans were engaging in a bit of a different kind of unscripted event, this one delivered by President Trump himself.

Scott Wong of The Hill reports, “During a closed-door meeting in the basement of the Capitol, Trump told rank-and-file House Republicans if the party is not successful in passing its healthcare bill, ‘I believe many of you will lose in 2018,’ according to a source in the room…

“The president told lawmakers a failed vote would be embarrassing to the party and could result in members facing primary challengers and Republicans losing the House, sources said.

“And Trump singled out Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), a Trump ally during the presidential campaign who has vowed his conservative group has enough votes to block the legislation.”

In saying wayward Republicans would lose, Trump was just being Trump. He’s picked a side in the game and is doing whatever he can to see that it’s a winner.

Note the president didn’t say he would support the primary opponents of those voting against the bill, just that they could face a challenge. No problem. In politics you have to expect such things especially if you’re willing to go against the party establishment and stand on principle.

Members of the Freedom Caucus interviewed after the meeting indicated they haven’t yet changed their minds on a “no” vote. And why should they? Even assuming they could be convinced to go along with the bill for the sake of the party they gain nothing by giving up early. There is still another day to go and rumor has it conservatives will be introducing further alternatives of their own today.

As argued above, by talking about losing elections and primary challenges Trump is merely trying to move negotiations. With supposedly only a day left to go until the vote takes place (here’s thinking Ryan will pull back if he doesn’t know he has the votes to pass) the pressure is on to get commitments.

There is also room for some conservative defections within the caucus that would still allow the bill to pass, though I highly doubt conservatives are looking at it this way. Democrats are the ones who decide on how to vote based on whether Pelosi’s pet projects would pass or not.

And again, there’s plenty of time between now and the next election. Members of the Freedom Caucus will be working alongside Trump on many important issues. If there are any residual hurt feelings over Ryancare they could easily be gone within a matter of months.

It must be kept in mind that the bill will need to undergo changes on the Senate side to get it to 50 votes there as well. The issue isn’t dead yet. Trump knows it and his “warning” is just another link in the chain.

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Negotiation and "Binary Choices"

Does the author of "The Art of the Deal," who won the presidency on his promise to "make great deals" for America, realize that he has partnered with such an incompetent negotiator as Paul Ryan, whose idea of negotiation is to offer a "binary choice," i.e., a "my way or the highway" position? It appears that Ryan would rather fall on his sword than to engage in the give-and-take of bonafide negotiation with principled conservatives in order to hammer out a healthcare bill that would truly repeal Obamacare as promised. As it is, Ryan is handing the "Democrats" the gift of a plurality on the issue. Could it be that his motivation is to show "socialist solidarity" between the modern-day Bolsheviks ("Democrats")and Mensheviks (RINOs)?