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Federal Judge blocks Donald Trump’s Executive Order halting federal funding of sanctuary cities

November 21, 2017

  Today a Federal Judge has blocked Donald Trump’s Executive Order which would have halted Federal monies being sent to sanctuary cities. Here is more on the decision:

A federal judge on Monday permanently blocked President Donald Trump’s executive order to cut funding from cities that limit cooperation with U.S. immigration authorities.

U.S. District Court Judge William Orrick rejected the administration’s argument that the executive order applies only to a relatively small pot of money and said Trump cannot set new conditions on spending approved by Congress.

The judge had previously made the same arguments in a ruling that put a temporary hold on the executive order targeting so-called sanctuary cities. 

The Trump administration will challenge the ruling:

The Trump administration has appealed that decision to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

“The District Court exceeded its authority today when it barred the President from instructing his cabinet members to enforce existing law,” Department of Justice spokesman Devin O’Malley said in a statement late Monday. “The Justice Department will vindicate the President’s lawful authority to direct the executive branch.”

  This is not going to be a popular opinion here but I have to agree with the argument the judge used in this ruling. I have always been against governing through Executive Order. The “Barack Obama did it too” defense is not a defense and the Congress has already approved this money, it is too late to stop the money which was already allotted.

  But that does not mean future money cannot be withheld from sanctuary cities the next time the budget comes up for debate. When deciding how to dole out money at that time the Congress should do its job and put the proper restrictions on sanctuary cities in place as a condition for accepting Federal money.

  That would be the proper way to go about this but I think we all know the Congress will not have the courage to do it. I give Donald Trump credit for putting his money where his mouth is, I just wish the Congress had the same amount of courage…

malo periculosam libertatem quam quietum servitium

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Judicial Watch sues the State Department for Podesta Group documents

November 20, 2017

  Judicial Watch has been trying to obtain documents from the State Department through a FOIA request related to the Podesta Group and the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine but thus far the State Department has not been willing to reply. Today Judicial Watch announced the group was suing the State Department for these document.

  Here is the press release:

(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch announced today that it filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the U.S. Department of State for all records about the Podesta Group Inc. and the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine, which have both been connected to the recent special counsel indictment of Paul Manafort (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of State (No. 1:17-cv-02489)).

Judicial Watch sued after the State Department failed to respond to a September 13, 2017, FOIA request for:

  • All records of communication between any official, employee, or representative of the Department of State and any principal, employee, or representative of Podesta Group, Inc.  
  • All records produced related to any meetings or telephonic communications between any official, employee, or representative of the Department of State and any principal, employee, or representative of Podesta Group, Inc. 
  • All records regarding the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine. 
  • The FOIA request covers the timeframe of January 1, 2012 to the present. 

The Podesta Group, formerly led by Anthony Podesta, and the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine have been mentioned in connection with the criminal indictment of Paul Manafort by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
 
“Mueller’s special counsel operation seems more interested in the alleged foreign ties of the Trump Team, rather than Hillary Clinton’s associates,” stated Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton. “Judicial Watch aims to figure out the truth of what exactly the Podesta Group was doing with the Obama State Department.”

  If Judicial Watch is successful these documents could prove to be very interesting indeed. We already know the Podesta Group has come under investigation by Robert Mueller’s special counsel, and since this revelation Tony Podesta has stepped down from the group.

  Of course Tony Podesta’s brother, John, has been heavily involved with the Clinton’s for years and was Hillary Clinton’s 2016 Presidential campaign chairman. But I am sure this is all a coincidence…

malo periculosam libertatem quam quietum servitium

Sunday, November 19th open thread: ‘Whole Lotta Rosie’

November 19, 2017

  open-threadHere is the open thread for Sunday, November 19th. Please feel free to post links to interesting articles and to discuss whatever issues arise during the course of the day. Nothing is off-topic here.

  Last week we discussed 6 stories. Did you miss any of them? If so there is an easy way to make sure it does not happen again. I understand that all of you are busy and cannot always find the time to check the blog for updates so why not subscribe to America’s Watchtower and receive email updates whenever I write a new post? That is the easiest way to follow the blog to ensure you never miss another post.

  In addition to subscribing you can also follow America’s Watchtower on Facebook and Twitter by clicking the links on the right. But you will get more than that for I often post links to articles probably will not be writing about so it is a great way to keep up with what is happening.

  The Twitter widget in the sidebar is fully interactive. This widget updates my tweets in real time and allows you to respond to or retweet my tweets right from the blog. It also allows you to tweet me right from America’s Watchtower.

  Malcolm Young of AC/DC passed away yesterday at the age of 64 so here is AC/DC performing “Whole Lotta Rosie” live from 1977. You will have to look hard to see Malcolm but he is there in the background.

frui diem

Hillary Clinton questions the legitimacy of the 2016 election

November 17, 2017

  Hillary Clinton’s What Happened? tour continues and now she is questioning the legitimacy of the 2016 election. Here is what she had to say:

Interviewer Ari Berman asked, “So between the Republican voter suppression you talked about and Russian interference, do you think it was a legitimate election?”

Hillary said, “I think that there are lots of questions about its legitimacy, and we don’t have a method for contesting that in our system. That’s why I’ve long advocated for an independent commission to get to the bottom of what happened. Because, look, this is the first time we’ve ever been attacked by a foreign adversary, and then they suffer no real consequences. And so, I’m worried that we’re not learning all the lessons, it’s one of the reasons why I wrote the book. Because I wanted people at least to understand what I saw as the factors, including shortcomings of myself and my campaign. But the forces at work outside my campaign are not going away. Somebody else is going to be running for Congress, or governor, or eventually president. We’ve got to know how to protect ourselves.”

Interviewer Berman followed up, “So you have a lot of questions about the legitimacy of the election?”

Hillary answered, “I do, sure. Because I think, as we learn more about it, we know that the web of connections between people on Trump’s team and Russian representatives just gets more and more dense.”

  Of course Hillary Clinton is purposely ignoring that Barack Obama, while still President, confirmed that any attempts by Russia to hack into the election had no impact on the vote count. Barack Obama knew Russia was trying to hack into the election but saw the threat as so dangerous that he did nothing about it.

  Here is more on that:

There was an avalanche of revelations this past week about Russian efforts to interfere with the 2016 election. On Wednesday, the Senate Intelligence Committee held a hearing on “Russian Interference in the 2016 Elections,” where it was confirmed that at least one state experienced a breach of its voter registration database, though testimony was conclusive that there was no tampering with the actual votes. On Friday, the Washington Post reported that the Obama administration had known about Russian efforts to influence the election since this past summer, while confirming that hacking efforts had no impact on the vote counts.

Here are some more facts about the Russia hacking attempts:

There is evidence of only a small number of successful hacks of voter registration databases. Illinois election officials confirmed that hackers accessed thousands of records in the Illinois state voter database, though no data was altered. It was also confirmed that the Arizona state voter database also suffered a possible hack, but it appears that the state shut down access to the database before any breach could occur. Information on both these attacks had been reported last summer, as I testified before the House Science Committee last fall. On Thursday, there was a new unconfirmed leak reported by Time magazine that an unnamed county was breached, with a limited number of records altered, but subsequently restored. We also know of possible access to voter data held by third parties in states like Florida and Georgia, but it’s important to note that in both cases, the official voter databases in those states remained secure. And there is no evidence that there were any election problems at all related to any of these issues.

There remains zero evidence that hackers affected the vote counts. Despite the hysteria, it appears that the decentralization of the American system, with thousands of separate election jurisdictions, all using different combinations of technologies, paired with auditable paper ballots cast by around three out every four American voters, was successful in preventing any hacking of the vote itself. Federal officials and members of the committee confirm this. Senator Warner, who as ranking member of the Intelligence Committee is privy to far more intelligence on this issue than the media or the public, pointed out in a statement this week that he is “not aware of evidence that the 2016 voting process itself was subjected to manipulation….” Comey similarly confirmed that he saw “no indication … whatsoever” that ballots were altered in 2016.

  Even James Comey confirmed that there was “no indication whatsoever” that ballots were altered. (We should remember here that the left hated James Comey until Donald Trump fired him and now they love him, they must have forgotten this little tidbit…

  Here is one last fact:

Nevertheless, the hackers were undoubtedly successful in diminishing confidence in our system of democracy. As Democracy Fund reports, even before the election, well over one-third of all American voters were significantly concerned about the integrity of our election machinery and the vote counts. The Russians didn’t need to be successful in altering the vote counts to achieve their goal – they just needed to sow the seeds of distrust among American voters.

  And that is precisely what Hillary Clinton and the Democrats are still trying to do to this day. In a way it is reminiscent of the way the Democrats tried to delegitimize George Bush after the 2000 election. Selected not elected. I guess the game plan really never changes.

  This is a different issue from the alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, of course, but it does debunk what she said today because you will note she did not mention collusion in this quote.

malo periculosam libertatem quam quietum servitium

The House passes its tax reform bill

November 16, 2017

  Earlier today the House finally passed its tax reform bill by a vote of 227-205. Here are some of the details:

The House plan would permanently chop the corporate tax rate to 20 percent from 35 percent and make other tweaks aiming to make businesses more competitive. It would reduce individual tax brackets to four from seven and make changes to several tax breaks. Among them, the bill would limit state and local deductions and the mortgage interest deduction, eliminate the personal exemption and nearly double the standard deduction.

  I have to admit I am a little concerned because some Republicans have already admitted some people will see a tax increase and that is not the bill of goods we have been sold. I hate the idea of limiting the mortgage interest deduction and I would also lose my real estate tax deduction. Would this be offset by a doubling of the standard deduction? I guess that would depend on what tax bracket I end up falling into.

  Now it is up to the Senate to pass its version of the bill and then the bills would head into conference to come up with the final plan.  The prospects of the Senate bill passing look pretty bleak at this time and I am not sure that is a bad thing at this point.

  Personally I would prefer a flat tax but there is no chance of that happening so I guess we just have to wait and see at this point.

malo periculosam libertatem quam quietum servitium

Fusion GPS founder testified he did not verify Russian dossier before discussing it with the media

November 15, 2017

  A co-founder of Fusion GPS, Glenn Simpson, testified about the Russian dossier in front of the House Intelligence Committee yesterday, and while he refused to answer questions related to his ties to the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign, he did admit that he did not verify the dossier before he shared some details of it with the media.

  Here is more:

The co-founder of the firm behind the anti-Trump ‘dossier’ told House investigators Tuesday that he personally discussed with members of the media allegations of Trump-Russia collusion, though he did not speak to the sources behind the claims, a source told Fox News.

According to a source familiar with the matter, Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson refused to answer key questions during his seven-hour, closed-door appearance before the House Intelligence Committee. The source said he would not answer questions on his relationship with specific journalists or ties to the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton campaign, which financed the anti-Trump research via the law firm Perkins Coie.

But the source said Simpson acknowledged he did not personally look into certain aspects of the dossier — which was authored by former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele and contained salacious allegations about the Trump team’s ties to Russia.

  Most of the details contained in the dossier were almost immediately discredited so it comes as no surprise Glenn Simpson did not verify the contents, but this does show us that he did know the contents were not verified and decided to leak some of the contents to the media because it was just too juicy to ignore and he had a Presidential candidate to take down. The end justifies the means…

malo periculosam libertatem quam quietum servitium

Senate adds repeal of Obamacare mandate to tax reform bill

November 14, 2017

  It now appears as if the Senate is prepared to add a repeal of the Obamacare mandate to the tax reform bill now being debated. Here is more:

The proposed Republican tax reform bill will include repeal of Obamacare’s individual mandate requiring most Americans to have some form of health insurance or pay a tax penalty, GOP leaders said Tuesday.

The decision means that Republicans, yet again in 2017, will attempt to gut a key element of the Affordable Care Act.

So far, such efforts have failed because not enough Republican senators have backed the idea of repealing the mandate, which would lead to an estimated 13 million more people lacking health insurance.

 

“We’re optimistic that inserting individual mandate repeal would be helpful,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. on Tuesday afternoon after a lunch meeting with the Republican conference.

Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., said, “I’m pleased the Senate Finance Committee has accepted my proposal to repeal the Obamacare individual mandate in the tax legislation.”

“Repealing the mandate pays for more tax cuts for working families and protects them from being fined by the IRS for not being able to afford insurance that Obamacare made unaffordable in the first place,” Cotton said. “I urge the House to include the mandate repeal in their tax legislation.”

Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Tex., said, “We’re going to repeal the tax on poor Americans.”

  Normally I am opposed to adding amendments to legislation which are not related to the original legislation but the mandate has been ruled a tax by the Supreme Court and therefor this is an appropriate place to try this repeal.

  This will draw the ire of the Democrats but more than likely no Democrats were going to support the tax reform bill anyway. The Republicans were hoping to sway a couple of vulnerable Democrats into voting for the legislation just in case there were any Republican defectors but this most likely will end that possibility.

  So the question becomes, will this sway the usual Republican suspects who might defect from voting for the legislation to vote for it, thereby eliminating the possible need of any Democratic support, or will they continue to break their campaign promises simply because they do not want to hand Donald Trump a victory?

malo periculosam libertatem quam quietum servitium