Senate Democrats Already Playing Politics With an Eye Towards 2020

For many Democrats in Congress, the media and in Hollywood, the collective freak-out over Donald Trump’s election continues apace. Their clear-eyed, sober post-election analysis of why Hillary Clinton lost has included accusing the FBI of colluding with the Kremlin, wondering why white, working-class voters in the Mid-West are racists (after backing President Obama in successive elections), and pointing to the Electoral College as an archaic relic of our antebellum past, standing athwart the “demographics is destiny” mantra they are fond of espousing.

Despite the lamentations, President-elect Trump has decided to forge ahead and do his job. He has nominated the majority of individuals that are to lead executive departments in his administration, an array made up mainly of standard, conventional Republicans. Faced with the responsibility to question these nominees on topics relevant to the positions they intend to fill, several Democrats have instead decided to posture and play politics while jostling for position in anticipation of the 2020 presidential race. As their party is left without its iconic leader and in ruins after the 2016 election, the Senate confirmation hearings serve as an excellent opportunity to make all the appropriate gestures in order to become the new talisman of progressives.

Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey took the unprecedented step of testifying against Senator Jeff Sessions, nominated to be the next Attorney General of the United States. Normally, a witness testifies before a committee to bring to light facts that have bearing on the nominee’s ability and fitness to fulfill his obligations. Furthermore, it is unheard of for a senator to provide testimony against a fellow senator in a confirmation hearing. Booker decided that the nomination of Sessions to lead the Justice Department posed such a grave threat to our democracy that he was moved to testify against him. The only problem was that Booker’s overwrought performance brought no factual testimony against Sessions, merely the opportunity for Booker to emote on camera. Booker has certainly changed his tune since last year, where he declared that he was “blessed and honored” to work with Sessions on legislation that awarded the Congressional Gold Medal to civil-rights activists. What has changed since that moment of bipartisan and senatorial comity? One could imagine that this change of heart was spurred by glowing profiles of his new Senate colleague from California, and his insistence that he deserved a few as well.

Kamala HarrisKamala Harris, the newly elected Senator from California, already has many, many admirers. A profile in the New Republic ran down the accolades: projected as “the next Barack Obama” in the Washington Post, the “Great Blue Hope” in the San Francisco Chronicle, and The Hill, Mother Jones and The New York Times all have cited her as a 2020 presidential candidate. It makes sense that she should use the confirmation hearings of Trump nominees to signal to the party’s base that she will take on the mantle of a progressive leader of a party whose official leadership positions are occupied by people all over the age of 70.

Senator Harris sits on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, which yesterday heard the testimony of Kansas representative Mike Pompeo, nominated by President-elect Trump to the position of CIA director. The incoming CIA director will have a myriad of pressing national security concerns that will be need to addressed immediately. Harris, though, had other priorities on her mind, mainly virtue-signaling to progressives that she will fight climate change anywhere, even Langley, Virginia.

Harris first quoted a statement from current CIA Director John Brennan, where he argued that climate change has contributed to political instability around the world. She asked Pompeo if he had any reason to doubt this assessment of CIA analysts. After Pompeo demurred, she followed up by asking Pompeo for his own personal beliefs on climate change. Pompeo responded by saying, “As the director of CIA, I would prefer today to not get into the details of climate debate and science.”

Having covered one topic so germane to the national security of the United States, Harris pivoted to another, specifically gay marriage. She brought up Pompeo’s voting record and stated position of belief in traditional marriage and his disagreement with the Supreme Court’s 2015 ruling that legalized gay marriage in the U.S. “Can you commit to me that your personal views on this issue will remain your personal views and will not impact internal policies that you put in place at the CIA?” Harris asked. Pompeo gave Harris his assurance that his views on marriage would not impact his management of employees at the CIA.

Politicians sometimes make the mistake of only seeking short-term victories. Case in point: one minute you’re informing GOP leaders that “you’ve won,” and you pass far-reaching legislation on party-line votes and enacting new regulations without congressional input or approval. Then, you wake up on January 20, 2017 to see that your party has lost over 60 seats in the House, 13 in the Senate, 12 governorships, and 900+ state legislative seats over the course of your presidency. Oh, and your successor is Donald Trump.

Smarter politicians take the long view, and Harris and Booker are calculating that they will be better equipped to campaign under Obama’s “legacy” in 2020 than Hillary Clinton was in 2016. They will continue to present themselves as fresh, progressive alternatives, a role that Clinton, with her corporate speech fees and quasi-criminal syndicate masquerading as a charitable foundation, could never fulfill. Whether it is asking questions about social issues and climate change before a committee hearing dedicated to national security matters, or masquerading before the cameras in order to again castigate a Republican as an irredeemable racist, both Harris and Booker intend to send a message to their party’s left flank: “I am paying attention to your concerns, and by the way, can you send a check?”

In Defense Of Jeff Sessions As Our Next Attorney General

jeff-sessionsHaving lost the presidential election to Donald J. Trump, and now with minorities in both the House and the Senate, Democrats have scrambled to throw roadblocks in the way of the incoming administration in an effort to slow down the inevitable policy changes that will soon affect every area of national policy, including the administration of justice. To that end, Sen. Jeff Sessions has been attacked ever since Trump nominated him to be the next attorney general of the United States. The familiar leitmotif is that Sessions is a racist, stemming from decades-old, questionable allegations of potentially racist statements. A further implication is the tired canard that many men of his age and background — white, Southern Republican lawmakers — are inclined to be racist, guilty until proven otherwise.

But what is Sessions’ true flaw? He is a conservative Republican who believes in traditional conservative policies and does not pay homage to political correctness to score political points.

Here is Sessions’ actual record on civil rights issues:

Sessions sought to amend the Violence Against Women Act so that it would actually help vulnerable women, instead of blindly supporting the act because of its name. With Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal, Sessions led senate efforts to pass the Finding Fugitive Sex Offender Act, signed into law by President Barack Obama in 2011.

Sessions has worked tirelessly to pass bipartisan legislation to protect and support the victims of crime, enact policies for safer prisons, and promote fair sentencing practices, issue areas important to minority communities. He worked across the aisle with Sen. Ted Kennedy in 2003 to pass the Prison Rape Elimination Act, providing protection to perhaps the most voiceless members of our society.

Sessions voted to reauthorize the Voting Rights Act, deeming it a vital protection for voting rights, though he recognized the act’s shortcomings and intrusiveness in some respects.

He understands the value of law enforcement, who are on the front lines of protecting Americans’ rights and safety, and has sought to work with law enforcement officers instead of criticizing and demeaning them, as has become so fashionable these days.

Sessions has supported strong voter ID measures and other procedures to protect the integrity of elections, rightly recognizing that when elections are stolen, it is often the underprivileged who are the greatest victims, because they have little recourse.

Sessions prosecuted civil rights activists under charges of fraudulently changing the votes of African-American voters in 1985, earning him the derision of liberals for being racist despite the fact that he was seeking to vindicate minority voting rights, based on complaints by African-American officials and voters that others in their community had committed fraud.

Sessions first began his efforts to achieve sentencing parity for drug offenders in 2001. Nine years later, he finally managed to realize this goal by working with Sen. Dick Durbin to pass the Crack Cocaine Fair Sentencing Act in 2010. This legislation substantially benefits minority drug offenders who previously were subjected to wide sentencing disparities vis-à-vis powder cocaine users.

Sessions opposed George Wallace in the 1960s in Alabama, prosecuted actual racists, and led Senate efforts to honor the civil rights movement and leaders. Former Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights and Labor Secretary Tom Perez has repeatedly praised Sessions in speeches.

Sessions’ career as both a prosecutor and Senator has been devoted to upholding the rule of law. He has done so because he is the kind of man and leader who will fight for what is right and what is best despite the criticism he faces, from whatever quarter.

Those who have worked with Sessions and know his character have strongly endorsed Sessions. His diverse supporters include the Center for Missing and Exploited Children, President Bill Clinton’s FBI Director Louis Freeh, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, Victims of Crime and Leniency of Alabama, former Chairman of the United States Commission on Civil Rights Gerald Reynolds, several former U.S. attorneys general, 25 state attorneys general, and former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell.

Albert Turner Jr., son of the African-American activists prosecuted for voter fraud, rejects the idea that Sessions is a racist: “He is not a racist. … He was a prosecutor at the Federal level with a job to do. He was presented with evidence by a local District Attorney that he relied on, and his office presented the case. That’s what a prosecutor does. … I believe that he is someone with whom I, and others in the civil rights community can work if given the opportunity.” Former African-American Democratic Congressman Artur Davis described the voter ID laws that Sessions supports as “the right thing” to help prevent “the wholesale manufacture of ballots [, which is] the most aggressive contemporary voter suppression in the African American community.”

African-American Alabama Democratic Senate Minority Leader Quinton Ross said of his long relationship with Sessions, “We’ve spoken about everything from civil rights to race relations and we agree that as Christian men our hearts and minds are focused on doing right by all people. We both acknowledge that there are no perfect men, but we continue to work daily to do the right thing for all people.” The African-American founders of Victims and Friends United, a diverse organization devoted to protecting the rights of victims of crime, stated in their endorsement letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee, “We have searched his background and could find no evidence that he is biased toward people of color.”

Prior to his years of service in the Senate, Sessions served as a U.S. attorney in Alabama, meaning he was the chief federal prosecutor in the Southern District of Alabama, and later as attorney general of Alabama. Few attorneys general have been so well qualified for the job of the chief law enforcement officer of the United States, as is Sessions.

Liberals lauded the attorneys general during the Obama administration, while conveniently ignoring how the Department of Justice was being turned into a political tool to advance progressive social policies instead of enforcing the law as it is supposed to do. Unequal enforcement of the law threatens all citizens. It is not the place of the attorney general to make new law, but rather to enforce the existing federal laws enacted by the legislature, or enshrined in our Constitution.

Jeff Sessions is precisely the sort of leader that the Department of Justice needs to protect the rights of all citizens — including women and minorities — through the equal application of the law and the even-handed promotion of justice. Liberal opponents do themselves no credit by attempting to assassinate the character of a good public servant in the pursuit of a quixotic goal. President-elect Trump is entitled to appoint cabinet members of his choosing, so long as they are fit for the job, as Sessions indisputably is — and as his Senate colleagues well know. Sessions should be swiftly confirmed so that the new administration can proceed with the task of filling out the rest of the top Department of Justice appointments, and then get on with the business of enforcing federal law throughout the land.

harmeet-close-up-shotHarmeet Kaur Dhillon is a trial lawyer in San Francisco at the Dhillon Law Group, and currently serves as the RNC committeewoman from California. From 2013 to 2016, she was the vice chair of the California Republican Party.

‘Sanctuary California’ Faces Bankruptcy if Trump Withholds Federal Funds

california empty pocketsAlthough Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti warned President-elect Trump that defunding sanctuary cities would cause “social, economic and security problems,” Sanctuary California could face bankruptcy if the Trump administration follows through on threats to pull billions in federal funding.

There are 300 “sanctuary cities” and counties around the United States that have policies in place blocking local law enforcement from complying with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainer requests for immigration holds.

An ICE detainer is a written request for a local jail or other law enforcement agency to detain an individual for an additional 48 hours (excluding weekends and holidays) after his or her release date, in order to provide ICE agents extra time to decide whether to take the individual into federal custody for removal purposes.

The Department of Justice’s Inspector General issued a memorandum in August that advised that sanctuary city practices violate federal law. The IG finding empowers Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), if confirmed as U.S. Attorney General, to strip sanctuary cities — including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and Washington, D.C. — of certain federal law enforcement grants. He can also seek court orders to strip federal grants from any government entities refusing to comply with U.S. laws.

Sessions applauded the finding: “Now, the law and the American people demand that this administration cease its acquiescence in this illegality. The Obama administration must immediately take action to withhold significant federal law enforcement funding for these offending jurisdictions.”

Mayor Garcetti and other big city Democrat mayors have defiantly said after Trump’s election that despite the federal government providing an average of 25 percent of state and local government general revenues, they still will not comply with ICE holds.

The reason local government can afford to flout the incoming Trump administration without much fear,is that 95 percent of the $620 billion in federal intergovernmental transfers are block-granted directly to states, who then make transfers to their cities and counties. Direct federal block grants to local government amount to only about $30 billion, and half of that is untouchable as public health and Homeland Security funds.

But there are four Democrat-controlled “Sanctuary States” that are also defying federal law by refusing to honor ICE detainer requests for immigration holds. Connecticut, New Mexico, and Colorado receive relatively small amounts of federal dollars due to low population. But the State of California, with the largest population, is the top receiver of federal funds in the nation.

Of California’s $252.5 billion in total estimated government spending for fiscal year 2015, the federal government provided $93.6 billion, or 37 percent. That works out to a stunning $6,451 for every man, woman and child in the state.

The breakdown of California’s federal funding, by department, includes: 52 percent for Health and Human Services (Medicaid); an average of 25 percent of all state and local government’ general revenues for Labor and Workforce Development, 14 percent for Education; 6 percent for Transportation; 2 percent for Legislative, Judicial and Executive; and 1 percent for General Government, which includes Natural Resources, Environmental Protection, Corrections and Rehabilitation, State and Consumer Services.

Breitbart News reported in May that Moody’s Global Credit Research fiscal stress-tests found that California was already the least prepared large state to weather the next recession. The credit rating service followed up in August with a warning to municipal bondholders that the plummeting financial condition of many California counties, cities, school districts and other agencies would soon result in large numbers of municipal bankruptcy filings.

The only time in the last 40 years California that suffered a 3.7 percent or more of GDP decline was the 4.4 percent plunge in 2009 during the Great Recession. Given the state’s precarious financial condition, any cut-off of federal funds by the Trump Administration could bankrupt California and many of the state’s local government entities.

This piece was originally published by Breitbart.com/California

Would You Use Welfare Money To Buy Pot?

Scared of federal intervention, lawmakers in Colorado are working on a bill to prevent welfare users from accessing cash at ATM machines in marijuana shops.

The policy of restricting access to certain ATMs already holds for liquor stores, casinos and guns ships, The Associated Press reports. Republican state Sen. Vicki Marble is worried that the federal government might aggressively interfere in Colorado if there’s any hint that welfare users are spending their benefits on drugs.

The nascent pot industry has been plagued with rumors that low-income users with electronic benefits cards (EBTs) jumped on the opportunity to load up on marijuana. National Review Online found that over a six-month period ending in January 2014, welfare recipients withdrew $23,608.53 dollars at marijuana dispensaries. How much of that total was spent at marijuana shops is unknown.

The bill, set to be introduced in the state Senate next week, failed to pass last year. Opponents argued that since marijuana shops tend to concentrate in low-income areas, those ATMs provide a valuable and necessary service for people without a bank account. As state Sen. Irene Aguilar stated, “I’m not comfortable limiting that access until I’m certain we’ve done that due diligence to make sure people can access their benefits when they need to.”

Washington state has already gone ahead and prohibited the use of EBTs in marijuana dispensaries as far back as 2012, though only for those under 18 years of age. Now, at the start of 2015, Colorado Democrats have thrown their support behind Marble’s legislation.

“I don’t think a strip club or a liquor store wants to be out of compliance, and neither does a dispensary,” Democratic Rep. Dan Pabon from Denver said. In 2014, Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama tried to move a step further by suggesting that Congress set a national standard for EBT use in marijuana shops, but the attempt stalled. (RELATED: After Senator’s Investigation, ‘No Welfare for Weed’ Bill Passes House)

In anticipation of possible trouble, many Colorado dispensaries have already cut off EBT cards from their ATMs. Industry groups have remained mostly agnostic on the issue.

Follow Jonah Bennett on Twitter

Originally published by the Daily Caller News Foundation