House panel releases Michael Cohen transcripts

Source: The Hill

“The House Intelligence Committee has released transcripts of its private interviews with Michael Cohen, President Trump’s former attorney. The panel voted 12-7 at a closed-door meeting Monday evening to release the transcripts, according to House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.). The committee interviewed Cohen behind closed doors on February 28 and March 6 — before he reported to prison to serve a three-year sentence for bank fraud, campaign finance violations and other charges — as part of an investigation into the president’s business dealings in Russia and other foreign countries.” (05/20/19)

Knock down the incumbency

Source: Common Sense
by Paul Jacob

“Over the weekend, I suffered through Knock Down the House … so you don’t have to. While the documentary heralding four inexperienced Democratic women running for Congress in 2018 cost Netflix $10 million, I did not have to spend a dime — beyond my regular monthly subscription. The award-winning film, directed by Rachel Lears, who wrote it along with her husband, Robin Blotnick, is expertly crafted. Unfortunately, it is geared to democratic socialists predisposed to adoring the subjects.” (05/20/19)

“Equality Act” would crush religious freedom; Trump right to oppose it

Source: USA Today
by Brad Polumbo

“The future of the ‘Equality Act,’ the landmark LGBT rights bill passed last week by the House, is uncertain. Even if could somehow pass the Republican-controlled Senate, President Donald Trump would likely veto it. And that would be the right thing to do, no matter what the backlash. From my vantage point as a gay conservative, I can see that the Equality Act goes too far for any level-headed gay rights advocate to support, and its blatant disregard for the basic right to religious freedom is appalling. The bill purports to protect LGBT Americans like me by prohibiting discrimination ‘based on sex, sexual orientation and gender identity in areas including public accommodations and facilities, education, federal funding, employment, housing, credit and the jury system.’ On the surface, this sounds unobjectionable — after all, no one deserves to face discrimination. Yet the bill defined ‘public accommodations’ so loosely and called for regulations so sweeping that it would crush religious freedom and radically reshape American society.” [editor’s note: IOW it is big an overstep (and as intrusive on privacy and freedom of association) as the Civil Rights Act was – SAT] (05/20/19)

Report: North Korean women “forced into sex slavery” in China

Source: BBC News [UK state media]

“Thousands of North Korean women and girls are being forced to work in the sex trade in China, according to a new report by a London-based rights group. They are often abducted and sold as prostitutes, or compelled to marry Chinese men, says the Korea Future Initiative. The trade is worth $100m (£79m) a year for criminal organisations, it says. The women are often trapped because China repatriates North Koreans, who then face torture at home, it says. ‘Victims are prostituted for as little as 30 Chinese yuan ($4.30; £3.40), sold as wives for just 1,000 yuan, and trafficked into cybersex dens for exploitation by a global online audience,’ the report’s author Yoon Hee-soon said.” (05/20/19)

Difficult to see how Americans suffer from Beijing’s subsidies

Source: Cafe Hayek
by Don Boudreaux

“So-called ‘predatory pricing’ is akin to the Loch Ness monster. It’s much-mentioned and feared, yet history provides no real evidence of its existence. And for good reason: charging prices below cost is a lousy means of gaining monopoly power. Economic theory makes clear that any such ‘predator’ necessarily inflicts on itself losses greater than those that it inflicts on the rivals that it is trying to run from the market. Such self-imposed differentially high disadvantages pave no reliable road to monopoly power. Quite the opposite.” (05/20/19)

CT: Complexity of toll bill could delay vote

Source: San Francisco Chronicle

“Connecticut lawmakers and Gov. Ned Lamont are trying to craft a complicated plan in the waning days of the legislative session that could lead to electronic tolls on a handful of highways, a process that’s been made more challenging by the need to ultimately obtain federal approval. Democratic House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz of Berlin, a toll proponent, suggested Monday that the General Assembly might return to Hartford for a special legislative session to vote on tolls, considering talks are still going on between lawmakers, Lamont’s administration and the Federal Highway Administration. The regular session ends June 5. ‘It is an incredibly complex bill to write,’ he said. ‘This is the type of issue I’d like to get done before we adjourn. But I wouldn’t be opposed to coming back into special session too. It’s that important to the state.’ The plan currently calls for roughly 50 tolls on busy Interstates 84, 91, 95 and Route 15, in hopes of generating an estimated $928 million in annual gross revenues for transportation improvements. The push comes decades after Connecticut removed the state’s old toll booths in the mid-1980s following a deadly toll plaza crash.” (05/20/19)

Replies on political moderation

Source: Cato Unbound
by Darrell M West

“Geoffrey Kabaservice discusses our ‘looming disasters’ in terms of health, climate change, and debt, and says Republicans bear much of the responsibility for the decline of moderation because of their sharp move to the right and embrace of extremist viewpoints. He certainly is correct in noting the GOP’s lurch to the right. Tom Mann and Norman Ornstein popularized this notion of ‘asymmetrical polarization’ and trace its roots to Republican shifts in messaging, strategy, and policy over the past few decades. For much of the recent past, there is substantial evidence to support that interpretation. But now Democrats are moving significantly to the left.” (05/20/19)

Joe Biden: Centrist?

Source: Fox News Forum
by Deroy Murdock

“Poor Joe Biden. The Delaware Democrat has served the liberal cause since he reached the U.S. Senate in 1973 as a barely legal 30-year-old, just 46 days after he fulfilled the Constitution’s senatorial-age requirement. He voted reliably with the left and was a loyal vice president to Barack Obama, the most big-government POTUS since LBJ, if not FDR. Biden’s fellow statists now slam him for not being leftist enough. Biden must feel as would Senator Ted Cruz, R-Texas, if he ran for president in 2024 and other Republicans called him a RINO. ‘I think if you look at Joe’s record, and you look at my record, I don’t think there’s much question about who’s more progressive,’ Senator Bernie Sanders (Socialist, Vt.) told ABC News correspondent Jonathan Karl. Biden ‘does not particularly animate [me] right now,’ said U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., ‘I don’t want to go back. I want to go forward.'” (05/19/19)

Liberalism and Jewish emancipation

Source: Notes On Liberty
by Mark Koyama

“The struggle for Jewish emancipation was a long one. When it finally took place it was closely associated with the emergence of modern liberal states. It was only once the institutional basis for political authority had changed that granting Jews full civil rights became feasible or even conceivable. Here I will focus on the removal of Jewish disabilities in England. And in particular, I’ll focus on one paradigmatic statement of religious liberty that Thomas Babington Macaulay made in Parliament in 1829 in favor of ending all civil disabilities on Jews. As a statement of religious freedom and liberalism more generally, it is sadly neglected.” (05/20/19)

France: Vincent Lambert life support must resume after court reverses ruling

Source: BBC News [UK state media]

“A French court has ordered doctors to resume life support for a quadriplegic man whose case has become central to the right-to-die debate in France. Doctors had begun switching off life support for Vincent Lambert, 42, on Monday, before the court order. Mr Lambert has been in a vegetative state since a 2008 motorcycle accident. His care has divided the country and his family. His wife has called for his feeding tubes to be withdrawn; his parents insist he be kept alive. Mr Lambert’s mother Viviane, 73, hailed the latest ruling as ‘a very big victory’ in her struggle to maintain her son’s life support. ‘They are going to restore nutrition and give him drink. For once I am proud of the courts,’ she said. Doctors had earlier Monday halted the nutrition and hydration Lambert receives, in line with the wishes of his wife and other relatives.” (05/20/19)