Wednesday Top Headline Summary

by Media Editors: It’s about time to rein in civil asset forfeiture: “The Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled unanimously that states must adhere to the Constitution’s ban on excessive fines, a decision that will likely limit the ability of states to impose certain fees and seize property. In delivering the opinion of the court, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said the Eighth Amendment guards against abuses of government’s punitive or criminal law-enforcement authority, and that it extends to fines.” (The Hill)

“Attorneys representing the Kentucky high school student involved in a confrontation that went viral on social media last month announced Tuesday that they were suing The Washington Post for $250 million in compensatory and punitive damages,” Fox News reports. The suit fairly argues that the outlet exploited “its vast financial resources to enter the bully pulpit by publishing a series of false and defamatory print and online articles … to smear a young boy who was in its view an acceptable casualty in their war against the president.”

Speaking of libel, “Conservative Justice Clarence Thomas on Tuesday urged the U.S. Supreme Court to reconsider its landmark 1964 ruling that made it harder for public figures to sue for defamation, a precedent that has served as powerful protection for the news media,” according to Reuters. Thomas suggested that New York Times Co. v. Sullivan et al. “were policy-driven decisions masquerading as constitutional law.”

With Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein soon departing, Transportation Department Deputy Secretary Jeff Rosen has been nominated to replace him, USA Today reports. “The nomination of Jeffrey Rosen … had been rumored since Attorney General William Barr took office earlier this month.” In fact, “Rosen worked for more than 30 years at the same law firm, Kirkland & Ellis LLP, where Barr served as of counsel before his nomination as attorney general.”

Biting the bullet: “The federal government announced its intention Tuesday to cancel nearly $1 billion in pending funding for the state’s long-planned, high-speed train. In a letter to California High-Speed Rail Authority CEO Brian P. Kelly on Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Transportation outlined the government’s reasons for pulling funding. The state has not come up with its own promised funding, will miss a 2022 completion target and has recently reconfigured the project outside the bounds of a federal pact for funding, railroad chief Ronald L. Batory wrote. The federal department will ‘de-obligate’ $928,620,000 in promised cash, but California will be given a chance to argue its case, Batory said in the letter. He also said the Trump administration is ‘exploring all available legal options’ to recover $2.5 billion in past federal grants for the project.” (NBC News)

According to Townhall, “President Trump signed the Space Policy Directive 4 on Tuesday to try and get his Space Force off the ground flying. The measure would create the Space Force as an armed service within the Air Force, a slightly different approach than his original plan.” Instead of being an entity that’s “separate but equal,” the Space Force now will at least initially be under the Air Force canopy, though “turning it into the 6th branch of the armed services is still Trump’s long-term goal.” The program is still awaiting Congress’s consent.

“The FBI is working with the U.S. Postal Service to determine whether Empire actor Jussie Smollett sent himself a threatening letter in the days before the “hate crime” he is now under investigation for allegedly staging… The two Nigerian brothers who told Chicago Police last week that Smollett paid them to stage a racially motivated attack on him have also told the authorities that Smollett sent himself the threatening letter that arrived on the Empire set on January 22, just seven days before they claim they conducted the hoax attack.“ (National Review)

Via “Because of previous news reports and now the revelations of former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe that he ordered a counterintelligence investigation of President Trump in May 2017, and that his FBI team, including Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, discussed secretly wire-recording the president and invoking the 25th Amendment to remove him from office, the government watchdog Judicial Watch is suing the Justice Department. The purpose of Judicial Watch’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit … is to obtain ‘all written and audio/visual records of any FBI/DOJ discussions regarding the 25th Amendment and plans to secretly record President Trump in the Oval Office,’ stated the organization in a press release.”

According to The Hill, “House Democrats are digging into the Trump administration’s dealings with Saudi Arabia, making its plan to sell nuclear technology to the kingdom the subject of the first major investigation by the House Oversight and Reform Committee.” However, “Republicans … said Democrats released the interim report without their input, accusing the majority of partisanship.”

“An extensive New York Times story published Tuesday purports to take you ‘inside’ President Trump’s ‘Two-Year War on the Investigations Encircling Him.’ But save yourself the precious time and read Trump’s tweets instead,” says the Washington Examiner. The news out of the lengthy piece is an allegation that Trump late last year asked then-acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker if it was possible to appoint U.S. Attorney General for Southern New York Geoffrey Berman, a White House ally, to lead the district’s investigation into Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen, who pleaded guilty in November to charges of perjury, tax evasion, and campaign finance violations. The Times reported that Whitaker ‘knew he could not put Mr. Berman in charge, since Mr. Berman had already recused himself from the investigation’ and admitted that ‘there is no evidence that he took any direct steps to intervene in the Manhattan investigation.’ That’s the extent of news in the story.“

Humor: It’s 2019, and gay people are still being forced to attack themselves in the streets (The Babylon Bee)

Policy: Independent Women’s Forum president Carrie Lukas lays out the reasons for why Elizabeth dinky-Warren’s child-care plan “would heavily subsidize parents’ least favorite care option — day care — while doing nothing to make all the others more affordable.”

Policy: Investor’s Business Daily says, “Now that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has said he’ll the Justice Department in mid-March, it’s time to take stock of the damage Rosenstein and others in the Deep State did by quietly plotting to remove President Trump from office. This bureaucratic coup attempt has no parallel in modern U.S. history.”

~The Patriot Post


Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein expected to step down by mid-March, official says

by Nicole Darrah and Jake Gibson

{} ~ Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is expected to leave his role at the Justice Department by mid-March, a senior DOJ official told Fox News on Monday… An official announcement of who has been selected to replace Rosenstein could come as early as this week. A Trump administration official added that Attorney General William Barr has picked Jeffrey Rosen, who currently serves as Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation, to take over for Rosenstein. A graduate of Northwestern University and Harvard Law School, Rosen previously served as General Counsel and Senior Policy Advisor for the White House Office of Management and Budget (2006 to 2009) and as General Counsel at the Department of Transportation (2003 to 2006), according to his online biography. Rosen, confirmed for his current role by the Senate in May 2017, works under Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao in overseeing the daily operations of the department…



Hypnotizing the World: Omar Has Ties to Radical Anti-Israel, Anti-American Group

by Elizabeth Harrington

{} ~ Rep. Ilhan Omar (D., Minn.) has ties to a group that includes numerous radical anti-American and anti-Israel activists on its board of directors. Notes of support posted to the controversial congresswoman’s door include a message from the organization Witness for Peace… “Keep up the good work!” the note reads, signed, “Witness for Peace Columbia Team :).” The note appeared the same week Omar attacked Elliott Abrams, a Jewish-American and longtime diplomat who served in the Reagan and Bush administrations. Abrams is now the U.S. Special Representative for Venezuela. Omar has sided with the socialist government in Venezuela, accusing the Trump administration of leading a “U.S.-backed coup” against Nicolas Maduro. Witness for Peace got its start fighting the Reagan administration’s anti-communist policies during the Cold War, specifically the group opposed funding the Contras in Nicaragua. Abrams, who Omar called “Mr. Adams,” pleaded guilty to misdemeanors for withholding information from Congress during the Iran-Contra scandal, and was later pardoned. “Faith-based peace activists founded Witness for Peace in response to the U.S. funding of the Contras,” its website states. In 1984 “Witness for Peace activists across the country organized events to resist Reagan’s war on Central America,” the group said… Minnesota you picked the wrong person to represent you.


Trump’s emergency and a constitutionalist response

by Gary J. Schmitt

{} ~ Conservatives who will wind up supporting President Trump’s decision to reprogram funds from planned, congressionally-appropriated military construction projects will undoubtedly point to the federal statute (Title 33, section 2293)… allowing a president to reprogram monies when used in support of a mission “essential to the national defense” in a time of a national emergency. They will note that a case can be made that securing the borders is “essential to the national defense” and that the 1976 law outlining a president’s authority to declare a national emergency is sufficiently undefined as to allow the chief executive wide discretion in what he determines is in fact an emergency. However, conservatives ought to think twice before jumping on the president’s bandwagon. Although under the Constitution, the president is the sole federal official “vested” with “the executive power” and, hence, it resides within his discretion to interpret the laws in order to carry them out, he is also circumscribed by the constitutional duty to see to it that the laws are “faithfully executed.” This not only means that he has an obligation to see to it that subordinate executive branch officers follow the laws and implement statutory mandates but also that he not use his broad discretion for purposes not intended by the law itself. “Following the law” means remaining true both to the letter and the spirit of the law. Adding fencing to the border is not “essential to the national defense” nor is the problem of illegal immigration a “national emergency.” “Essential” is something one cannot live without and an “emergency” is, according to the Oxford dictionary, “a serious, unexpected, and often dangerous situation requiring immediate action.” Illegal immigration is certainly a serious problem but, as the drawn out discussion over the past two years about what to do about it by the administration and Congress indicates, it is not suddenly an emergency. Conservatives should support the unitary president’s authority as key to promoting effectiveness in the executive sphere but, at the same time, be wary of a president using his discretion in ways that are too clever by half…


Trump Is Winning the Battle Over the Wall

by Jeff Lord

{} ~ Score another one for President Trump. On Friday the President walked into the Rose Garden to discuss his signing of an order declaring a “national emergency” in the case for building a wall… along the southern border. Among other things, he said this: We’re declaring the emergency because we have an invasion of drugs, invasion of gangs, invasion of people and it’s unacceptable. We had a little disappointment for the first year and a half, people that should have stepped up did not step up. They didn’t step up, and they should have. It would have been easy, not that easy, but it would have been a lot easier. But some people didn’t step up. But we’re stepping up now. So we have a chance of getting close to $8 billion, whether it is $8 billion or $2 billion or $1.5 billion it’s going to build a lot of wall. He added: I went through Congress, and I made a deal. I got almost $1.4 billion when I wasn’t supposed to get one dollar, not one dollar. He’s not going to get one dollar. Well, I got $1.4 billion, but I’m not happy with it. I, also, got billions and billions of dollars for other things, port of entries, lots of different things, purchase of drug equipment, more than we were even requesting. Forget all the naysayers. President Trump is winning the Battle of the Wall. And based on the experience of both his life and now his presidency, it is a very safe bet he will not stop until he has accomplished his goal…


America desperately needs a confirmed defense secretary

by James Carafano, Roger Zakheim and Bradley Bowman

{} ~ The United States confronts the most dangerous and dynamic array of threats that we have seen in our lifetimes, yet our armed forces lack a confirmed secretary of the Defense Department… The American people, including our men and women in uniform, deserve better. The coming months will bring a host of major national security events, including the management of nuclear treaty violations by Russia, the withdrawal of our troops from Syria, potential adjustments in Afghanistan, ongoing talks with North Korea over its nuclear program, the management of tensions in the South China Sea, a spate of meetings with our allies, the launch of a Space Force, and the modernization of the United States nuclear triad. Topping it off will be a highly consequential debate over defense spending that will determine whether the United States military receives sufficient resources to implement the national defense strategy, restore American military supremacy, and deter conflict with Russia and China. Both our allies and our adversaries will be straining to ascertain our commitment to various defense treaties as well as our willingness to challenge the ever aggressive expansionism of Russia and China. They will also look at our willingness to assist our neighbors in South America, should the turmoil in Venezuela start to wreak even greater regional havoc. They will of course pay special attention to our determination to invest appropriately in our armed forces still trying to recover from years of insufficient funding. A key signal to those watching our every move, and to our own public and those serving in the military, is clearly the selection of a permanent defense secretary. The selection of a defense secretary says a great deal about the agenda of the president and how he intends to implement it. The nomination also says a lot about how the president envisions the role of military affairs in foreign policy and how he intends to orchestrate the entire national security team to advance our United States interests…


Texas Sets New Oil-Production Record

by Business Review Board: Last year, Texas oil wells produced more than 1.54 billion barrels of oil, besting the previous record of 1.28 billion set in 1973. Gov. Greg Abbott seemed pleased: “As the national leader in oil and natural gas production, Texas is paving the way for America’s energy independence. From technological advancements resulting in increased oil and natural gas output to our LNG export facilities, the Lone Star State’s energy economy is firing on all cylinders.” He then pledged, “As Governor, I will continue to work with our independent oil and gas producers to take our economy to even greater heights.”

Forbes noted just how incredible the new record was, reporting, “How big is that total production number? Per TIPRO, the second largest oil producing state, North Dakota, came in with 443 million barrels of total oil production for the year, about 29% of the total produced in Texas. Given that, according to the Texas Railroad Commission’s official data, Texas crude production for 2017 came in at 1.027 billion barrels, that means that oil producers in Texas basically increased the state’s oil production by more than the equivalent of North Dakota’s in a single 12-month period.”

But it’s not just Texas that has benefited. The increased production of both crude oil and natural gas has the industry adding to the country’s rising employment numbers. At the end of 2018, the oil industry employed 880,681 people, an increase of 5% over 2017’s numbers. Texas accounted for 352,000 of those jobs. The natural-gas industry also contributed significantly, as it created more than 27,000 jobs last year alone.

Experts estimate that this year Texas’ oil production will surpass that of Iran and Iraq — meaning that the Lone Star State will become the world’s third-largest oil producer behind only Russia and Saudi Arabia. ~The Patriot Post


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