Friday News Executive Summary

Jordan Candler:  Above the Fold

RUSSIA 3.0 WHO KNOWS: Intel officials say Russia boosting Trump candidacy — which doesn’t add up (AP)

CORROBORATION: Pal of Rep. worthless-Ilhan Omar says congresswoman married her own brother (The Washington Free Beacon)

Government & Politics

SENTENCE IS PENDING RULING ON NEW TRIAL:  Roger Stone sentenced to over three years in prison — nowhere near the minimum-term suggestions or what prosecutors sought (CNBC)

LOOKING GOOD: GOP fundraising record: $60.5 million in January; RNC nearly doubles DNC (Washington Examiner)

KEEP AMERICA GREAT: “National satisfaction” reaches 15-year high, “greatly increases” Trump reelection chances (Washington Examiner)

BELIEVE IT WHEN YOU SEE IT: U.S., Taliban agree to landmark ceasefire en route to aspirational peace deal (The Washington Free Beacon)

Other Notables

RAINBOW MAFIA: Use trans pronouns or get fired, Ohio court tells Christian professor (The Daily Wire)

COMMUTATION DENIED: Tennessee executes Nicholas Sutton, killer of fellow inmate in 1985 after slaying 3 in 1979 (Fox News)

ADMISSIONS-SCANDAL DISTRACTION: University of Southern California to make tuition free for “low income” students (National Review)

DESPITE MARQUEE GUN LAWS: Nine killed by “deeply racist” shooter in Germany (BBC)

Closing Arguments

POLICY: How to think about the coronavirus and how to respond (The Heritage Foundation)

POLICY: Social Security cannot survive in its present form (Mises Institute)

HUMOR: Michael Bloomberg’s housekeepers brace for another day of dressing up like DNC candidates and letting boss beat them in debate (The Onion)  ~The Patriot Post    

The Xi Jinping Flu

By Dan Blumenthal{ } ~ Despite holding more power, wealth and influence than ever before, China’s government is rotting from within. Beijing’s handling of the coronavirus makes that clear… Such an outbreak would have taxed the resources of any nation, but Xi Jinping’s China is not just another country. It is a high-tech authoritarian state experimenting with complete social control. To succeed it requires lies, intimidation and obfuscation. These very ingredients have exacerbated a public-health crisis and laid bare a government that fears the truth. Worse yet for the Chinese president, China’s people know it. The telltale signs of a panic-driven cover-up are clear: Despite an outbreak that likely began before December 2019, the Chinese government allowed no hint of a problem until a month after that. It silenced whistleblowers who knew the extent of the problem and took its time trying to contain the outbreak. Worse still, Beijing worries that accepting Washington’s continuing offers to help would be to admit it has failed. For those who noted Xi’s obsession with dictatorial control during the Hong Kong protests, his use of concentration camps to control the Uighur Muslims, and his Mao-like clamp down on intellectual, religious and cultural life, it is no surprise that the Chinese dictator has exacerbated the health crisis in his desire to exert absolute control. In the current climate of fear, Chinese healthcare and other professionals are afraid to communicate even basic facts. Indeed, those Chinese who did warn international media and their fellow citizens have been punished by the Communist Party of China. Last week a prominent Chinese law professor, Xu Zhangrun, was swiftly punished and banned from writing after he wrote that the virus “revealed the rotten core of Chinese governance,” and that “groundless decisions from authorities have pushed powerless citizens to despair, and the disease to the globe.” Unlike so many Westerners who assume Xi’s omnipotence, growing numbers of Chinese know what Xu knows: that Xi’s increasingly harsh rule is a hallmark of weakness, not strength. Since it massacred its own people in 1989 on Tiananmen Square, the Party has been struggling to find a new basis for legitimacy. High levels of economic growth quieted the masses for a time. But China’s growth has been slowing for quite a while now, and it faces manifold demographic and social problems. It is unlikely that Xi’s nationalistic promise to rejuvenate the nation will inspire the people for very long either. Nor has Xi’s bungling of high-profile challenges been missed. Xi overplayed his hand in Hong Kong, using heavy-handed tactics to force Hong Kongers to accept unwanted laws. The gambit failed, and protests continue to fester. Horror at Beijing’s tactics in Hong Kong propelled the CCP’s sworn enemy — Taiwan’s Democratic Progressive Party — to victory in Taiwan’s presidential elections in January, crushing the pro-Chinese party…  

U.S. Aggressively Monitoring Potential Iranian Attacks From Saudi Air Base

By Adam Kredo{ } ~ The United States is aggressively monitoring Iranian missile threats across the Middle East in close coordination with its Saudi Arabian allies… according to U.S. military officials who briefed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during a Thursday visit to the country’s Prince Sultan Air Base. More than 2,500 American forces entered the base in early January and quickly established a fleet of advanced F-15 tactical fighter jets to help the Saudis defend their country from increasingly severe Iranian missile strikes, according to the U.S. military officials who also briefed a group of reporters traveling with the secretary of state. In addition to the fighter aircraft, the United States installed a set of Patriot surface-to-air missile systems to fend off potential Iranian strikes like the one in September 2019 on Saudi Arabia’s state-owned Aramco oil fields. That attack stirred the region and saw the Trump administration deploy thousands of troops to the Gulf country. Pompeo, in an afternoon visit to the base, met with American military personnel and received classified briefings about the ongoing threat posed by Iran and its regional terror proxies. While Iran has not launched additional strikes on Saudi Arabia since the late September salvo, the United States’ continued presence in the region is a sign of how pressing and immediate the threat continues to be, Pompeo said in response to questions from the  Washington Free Beacon. “The fact that we’re here today, the fact that so many young American men and women are here and in other facilities not only here in Saudi Arabia, but in Iraq, indeed in Qatar … I think demonstrates that the demand for deterrence remains,” Pompeo said. “You need only look at the ayatollah’s Twitter feed to know that these are people who have a deep disdain for the very fundamental ideas that we hold so dear in the United States of America and their desire to wipe the state of Israel off the map and to do harm to the United States of America remains and our aim is to change that behavior from the regime.”…  

The Case for Trump’s Education Block Grant 

By Frederick M. Hess & RJ Martin{ } ~ Last week, the Trump administration released its 2021 budget request, which would cut Department of Education outlays by 8 percent while proposing dramatic change in how federal school dollars are allocated… While Trump’s proposed budget was dead on arrival, the proposal to turn dozens of K–12 programs into a block grant merits a closer look. The administration would consolidate nearly all federal K–12 funding programs 9 formula grants and 20 competitive grants into a single block grant. This new block grant would be worth $19.4 billion and distributed via the same Title I formula that’s already used to allocate federal dollars to high-poverty schools. The block grant would swallow a host of offerings, including the massive Title I program, the $440 million Charter School Grants, the $2 billion Supporting Effective Instruction State Grants, and a range of smaller programs. The reaction from the education associations was swift and quite negative. The charter school community, in particular, felt betrayed by an administration long regarded as an ally. Even some who support a smaller federal footprint, in principle, questioned the proposal. As the Fordham Institute’s savvy Checker Finn argued, “When it comes to the relatively small portion of K–12 spending derived from Washington, I don’t see any justification for just putting it on a stump and letting states and districts spend it as they see fit. Federal spending programs should advance national priorities.” Finn makes a valid point. There is, however, more to the story. For starters, there are practical costs to all these fragmented programs. Of the 29 programs targeted for consolidation, 13 involve less than $100 million a year. While $100 million is a lot of money in real life, it amounts to less than $2 for each child enrolled in U.S. public schools. Meanwhile, those schools spend, on average, more than $13,000 per pupil each year. This means school, district, and state officials spend an extraordinary amount of time and energy writing grants and documenting spending on a slew of programs—all for the equivalent of loose change pried from a sofa. Things are made worse by the complex maze of regulations attached to these grants. These regulations, known collectively as Education Department General Administrative Regulations (or EDGAR), detail who may apply for grants, how applications must be submitted, how funds may be used, and much else. The regulations span 97,000 words, about the length of a hefty novel. As education attorneys Melissa Junge and Sheara Krvaric have pointed out with lawyerly understatement, “In practice, all this complexity makes spending ED funds and understanding what the funds can pay for difficult.”…  

U.S. Blacklists Five Iranian Officials for Impeding ‘Fair’ Elections

by Daphne Psaledakis{ } ~ The United States on Thursday blacklisted five Iranian officials, accusing them of preventing free and fair elections… a day before a parliamentary vote being seen as a referendum on the handling of various political and economic crises. The Treasury Department said in a statement it imposed sanctions on the officials, members of Iran’s Guardian Council and its Elections Supervision Committee, over the council’s role in disqualifying several thousand candidates. Thursday’s action targeted Ahmad Jannati, the Secretary of the Guardian Council, Mohammad Yazdi, a member of Iran’s Guardian Council who was formerly Iran’s first Judiciary Chief, and three additional members of the Elections Supervisory Committee. The sanctions freeze any U.S.-held assets of the officials and generally bar Americans from doing business with them. Campaigning officially ended on Thursday for Iran’s parliamentary election. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has said voting is “a religious duty” but some prominent pro-reform politicians in Iran and activists abroad have called for a boycott…   

France: Macron Vows Crackdown on Political Islam

by Soeren Kern{ } ~ French President Emmanuel Macron has announced new measures aimed at countering political Islam in France. The changes would limit the role that foreign governments have in France in training imams… financing mosques and educating children. Macron also vowed to fight what he called “Islamist separatism” and to lead what he described as a “Republican reconquest” aimed at reasserting state control over Muslim ghettoes — so-called no-go zones (zones urbaines sensibles, sensitive urban zones) — in France. In a much-anticipated  policy speech, Macron, during a visit to the eastern French city of Mulhouse on February 18, said that his government would seek to combat “foreign interference” in how Islam is practiced, and the way that Muslim religious institutions are organized in France. “The problem is when, in the name of a religion, some people want to separate themselves from the Republic and therefore not respect its laws,” he said. “Here in France, there is no place for political Islam.” Macron outlined a four-pronged strategy to combat Islamism in the country: 1) fight against foreign influences in schools and places of worship; 2) reorganize Muslim worship in France in accordance with the principles of secularism and French law; 3) fight against all manifestations of Islamist separatism and communitarianism; and 4) reassert state control over all parts of France. Macron said that, among other measures, he plans to terminate a decades-old teacher exchange program called Teaching Language and Culture of Origin (L’Enseignement Langue et Culture d’origine, ELCO), which allows nine countries — Algeria, Croatia, Italy, Morocco, Portugal, Serbia, Spain, Tunisia and Turkey — to send teachers to France to provide foreign language and culture courses without oversight by French authorities…  

Team Trump just called a halt to the scumbag/liar-nObama-era war on American suburbs

By Rob Astorino{ } ~ President Trump gets credit — and takes heat — for many things, but many folks don’t even know about one of his best accomplishments… blocking the federal government’s power grab for control of America’s suburbs. During the scumbag/liar-nObama administration, the Department of Housing and Urban Development tried to install Washington bureaucrats as the decision makers for how communities across all 50 states should grow. Using an obscure rule called Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing, HUD sought to remake America’s cities, towns and villages by forcing any community that was getting federal funds to meet racial quotas. To do this, HUD applied the notion of “disparate impact,” which unilaterally deems housing patterns to be discriminatory if minority representation is not evenly spread across the jurisdiction. Communities with high concentrations of minorities are automatically labeled segregated. Westchester served as the petri dish for HUD’s “grand experiment.” On Jan. 1, 2010, the day I was inaugurated as county executive, a federal consent decree signed by my predecessor went into effect requiring Westchester to spend at least $56 million to build 750 units of affordable housing over the next seven years in 31 white communities — or face crippling financial penalties. Westchester not only met the goal of 750 units on my watch, it exceeded it by 40. A happy ending for everyone . . . except HUD. The administration was intent on taking its AFFH-linked, disparate-impact visions national, and that required villains. The last thing HUD wanted was a suburban community working cooperatively and using its existing zoning framework to build affordable housing without the federal government’s racial micromanagement. So a year into the settlement, HUD demanded that the county go “beyond the four corners” of the decree and declare its basic zoning rules on things like height, density and safe drinking water as racially “exclusionary.” Single-family homes on quarter-acre lots were deemed potentially “racist” — supposedly because minority members might not be able to afford them. No one milked this race-baiting angle more than the editorial page of The New York Times, which bizarrely and outrageously accused the county of “defending an ultra-white status quo” (2011); of failing to “remove the barriers . . . that in many villages and towns function as invisible ‘Whites Only’ signs” (2015); and of “keeping Jim Crow’s spirit alive in the New York region” (2016)…    

.The Attorney General’s Just Rejection of a Severe Prison Term for Roger Stone

 Hans von Spakovsky

Senate Minority Leader Chuck scumbag-Schumer is not happy—again. And neither are other elected Democrats who have mounted a full-scale attack against Attorney General William Barr for recommending a reasonable prison sentence for Roger Stone, rather than the draconian sentence Barr’s subordinates advocated in a court filing.scumbag-Schumer, D-N.Y., wants the Justice Department inspector general to investigate Barr because scumbag-Schumer thinks Barr gave Stone a sweetheart deal at President Donald Trump’s direction. Barr denies it.Whether the inspector general takes up the issue is anyone’s guess. But if his office does, its report no doubt will highlight the fact that all lawyers in the Justice Department work for the attorney general, and that every attorney general has the right to overrule (and even fire) his subordinates in any case.For his part, Barr told reporters that “the essential role of the attorney general is to keep law enforcement, the criminal process sacrosanct to make sure there is no political interference in it. And I have done that, and I will continue to do that.”Contrary to the claims against Barr of unfair “political interference” in the pending sentencing of Stone, his handling of the over-the-top recommendations by prosecutors demonstrates that he is doing exactly what attorneys general are supposed to do and that he is committed to restoring evenhanded enforcement of our nation’s laws.No one disputes that Stone was accused and convicted of several serious crimes—obstructing a congressional investigation, making false statements to Congress, and witness tampering.Let’s set aside questions that have arisen about the trial and conviction given the recent revelations that the jury foreperson, a former Democratic congressional candidate, exhibited an anti-Trump bias in numerous posts on social media (calling Trump a #KlanPresiden) and tweeted specifically about Stone’s arrest.Everyone agrees that Stone—once duly convicted—must be punished for his actions.But what is an appropriate punishment? And more importantly, who gets to decide?Those are the questions that came to the forefront when four career prosecutors recommended that Stone—a nonviolent, first-time offender—serve seven to nine years in prison, and even more so when scumbag-Schumer requested that the inspector general investigate the overriding of the prosecutors’ recommendation by higher officials within the Justice Department.Stone’s base offense level under the federal sentencing guidelines—which are only advisory in nature—calls for him to serve 15 to 21 months in prison. The prosecutors on the case, however, submitted a sentencing memorandum arguing that several other enhancements should apply that would raise the proposed sentence to seven to nine years.Prosecutors argued that the biggest of these enhancements should apply because Stone threatened “to cause physical injury to a person, or property damage, in order to obstruct the administration of justice.”Their basis for that claim is several statements made by Stone when he told a potential witness—radio talk show host Randy Credico—that Credico should “prepare to die” and that Stone would take his dog away from him.True, these sound bad on their face. But Credico told the judge he did not take these bombastic threats seriously and never felt physically threatened. In fact, Credico said that these “bellicose tirades” were just “Stone being Stone. All bark and no bite.”Thus, when taken in context, this recommended enhancement seems like a stretch—something that would be more appropriately applied in an organized-crime case or gang-related case.If this single enhancement were removed, Stone’s guideline range would drop significantly, to 37 to 46 months in prison.Federal judges typically give great weight and serious consideration to the recommendations of the prosecutors on a given case. Here, the Justice Department filed an amended sentencing memorandum telling the judge that “the range of [approximately seven to nine years] presented as the applicable guidelines range would not be appropriate or serve the interests of justice in this case.”The Justice Department noted that a sentence of approximately seven to nine years “more typically has been imposed for defendants who have higher criminal history categories or who obstructed justice as part of a violent criminal organization.”In protest of this revised sentencing memo, the four prosecutors who made the original recommendation resigned from the case. One resigned from the Justice Department.scumbag-Schumer and others claim that the recommended lower sentence is the result of undue political influence in the criminal justice process.House Speaker liar-Nancy Pelosi of California, Sen. scumbag-Cory Booker of New Jersey, House Judiciary Chairman scumbag liar-Jerrold Nadler of New York, Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, and Sen. Elizabeth dinky/liar-Warren of Massachusetts are among other prominent Democrats criticizing Barr.dinky/liar-Warren has called for Barr’s impeachment, as have others on the left and in the media.Really? What choice did those at the Justice Department have–up to and including Barr—but to step in and correct an unreasonable and unduly harsh sentencing recommendation?This is particularly the case in light of reports that the recommendation these prosecutors made was, in fact, far harsher than what they told senior leadership they were going to make to the court. This raises questions about whether the prosecutors misled Barr and other department leaders in the first place.It is the duty of the attorney general to lead the Justice Department by setting priorities and ensuring the fair administration of justice, devoid of political influence or pressure.Subordinates in the department, including all assistant U.S. attorneys and each of the 94 Senate-confirmed U.S. attorneys, work for the attorney general, not the other way around. If they don’t like the attorney general’s priorities, they can resign.This matter is complicated, of course, by President Donald Trump’s tweets about the sentencing recommendation for Stone.Yes, the president has a right to tweet. But it can complicate the case when this or any other president makes public statements about an ongoing federal criminal matter. It’s what President Barack scumbag/liar-nObama did in 2009 about the appropriateness of the death penalty for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, accused of being a planner of the 9/11 attacks.Here, it appears that Barr’s decision to amend the government’s sentencing memo took place before Trump’s tweet blasting the original sentencing memorandum as “horrible and very unfair.”This undercuts scumbag-Schumer’s claims of political interference. Barr says the president’s tweets had nothing to do with his decision.Barr’s actions were necessitated by the initial unfair (and seemingly unjustified) recommendation of up to nine years in prison for a nonviolent, first-time offender.His actions as attorney general were an important step toward ensuring accountability in the Justice Department and fulfilled his promise to restore the impartial administration of justice for all of our nation’s citizens.  ~The Patriot Post  


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