Senate’s Israel Anti-Boycott Act Has Good Intentions, but Bad Results

 
Protestors against Israel boycott at the 50th annual Israel Day Parade in New York City, June 1, 2014. (Shutterstock.com)

A bill sponsored by roughly half the members of Congress would — so we are warned by New York magazine, at least — “make it a felony for Americans to support the international boycott against Israel” and “make avoiding the purchase of Israeli goods for political reasons a federal crime.”

Would the bill really do that? No, not as sweepingly as those passages suggest. But even shorn of the exaggeration, the Israel Anti-Boycott Act (S. 720), sponsored by Sens. Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Rob Portman (R-OH), is plenty bad enough. By punishing boycott participation grounded in political belief, it would infringe on individual liberty. I don’t like the BDS (“Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions”) movement one bit, but sponsors of this bill — who include conservatives like Sens. Ben Sasse (R-NE), Mario Rubio (R-FL), and Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), as well as progressives like Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Claire McCaskill (D-MO) — need to face some tough questions about how it squares with the First Amendment.

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Middle-Class Welfare and Fake Partisanship

 

It’s possible that Milton Friedman was ultimately a communist–as he says, he sometimes liked to talk demagogically: The class war of Watts vs. Beverly Hills. But it’s doubtful. What he was is a contrarian–he liked to shock public opinion. Contrarianism seems to be a combination of astute observation and lack of tact. This is what Aristotle calls wit, educated insolence. Friedman’s argument about middle-class welfare ultimately says what we all know to be true. It’s sent me thinking.

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Jim Geraghty of the National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America applaud Claremont McKenna College in California for defending free speech rights and punishing students who attempted to prevent a guest from speaking on campus. Reports claim that President Donald Trump has asked for specifics on his powers to pardon aides, family members, and even himself, leading Jim to ask when the president will stop making life more difficult for himself and allow the investigation to run its course. They call into question the genuinenss of OJ Simpson’s contrition after he was granted parole on Thursday and Jim makes a bold prediction about OJ’s future.

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Summer Scandal: Trump Tower Russia Meeting Revisited

 

September 5, 2017, Washington: Looking back at this summer’s scandal around Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya in his Trump Tower office, revelations have come so quickly that the editors are providing this recap for readers struggling to keep up.

Mid-July: When news of the meeting first broke, we reported that it was just between Mr. Trump, Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort and the lawyer. But soon Washington was rocked by the news that an interpreter, a show-business agent for Russian pop star Emin, and a representative of a family worried about Russian adoptions were present too. In Georgetown salons everyone asked, what shoe would drop next? The next day, Congresswoman Maxine Waters demanded the President’s impeachment.

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Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America start with an appetizer by cheering the U.S. Navy’s use of a new laser weapon meant to target small watercraft and drones. They also praise the Trump administration for its success in halting hundreds of regulations that would stifle job growth and business expansion. They also address the tragic news that Arizona Sen. John McCain is diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor, and they express disgust at the tasteless and nasty reactions from both sides of the political spectrum. And they sigh over President Trump griping to the media about his frustrations over Attorney General Jeff Sessions recusing himself from the Russia investigation.

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On the second of this week’s podcasts, John Podhoretz asks Abe Greenwald and Noah Rothman whether the health-care debacle this week is simply a reflection of the same pressures on the conservative coalition Donald Trump saw and conquered by running for president last year–and what it will mean for him and them that he has provided no rallying point for Republican politicians. And then they discuss OJ Simpson. Give a listen.

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Washington Examiner columnist Salena Zito welcomes Dr. Laura Brown, Director at George Washington University Graduate School of Political Management to the show. Much like Salena, Dr. Brown has an obsessive passion for history and politics. With this joint passion, the two discuss how the 2016 election and current administration has affected the younger generation in pursuing education and careers in politics.

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One hundred and fifty days into his presidency, Donald Trump is on pace to issue the most executive orders for a first-year president since Harry Truman in 1945. Hoover research fellow Adam White reviews the highs and lows of Trump’s signing flurry–and discusses the need for the Trump White House to pick up the pace for executive and judicial appointments.

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Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America shake their heads in disgust as a straight Obamacare repeal appears doomed in the Senate, due to opposition from multiple Republican senators who voted for the very same bill two years ago – when they knew it would be vetoed. They also react to reports that President Trump engaged in a dinner conversation with Vladimir Putin without any other members of his staff, including a U.S. translator. And they wonder if an intervention is necessary for liberal writer Louise Mensch, after she tweeted that unnamed people might seek the death penalty for White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon due to his supposed espionage on behalf of the Russians.

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Welcome to the Harvard Lunch Club Political Podcast for July 18, it’s the abbreviated “Obvious Topics” edition of the show with your humble hosts (well, one of them is humble anyway) Todd Feinburg and Mike Stopa.

This week things seem to have calmed down just a little. The media has their “smoking gun” of Russian collusion and Nancy Pelosi has her dreams of eternal Obamacare come true.

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The Single-Payer Siren

 
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The United States is facing another crisis in organizing its health care system. It is clear that the private exchanges concocted under the Obama administration are failing at a record rate for the simple reason that they violate all known sound principles of insurance. The planners who put these programs together unwisely thought that universal coverage would overcome the standard insurance problems of adverse selection and moral hazard.

But that didn’t happen. Under the Obamacare plans, the insurers are allowed to compete only on the cost of providing a fixed set of government packages of mandated services. They have no power to select their own customers, or to charge those customers rates sufficient to cover insurance expenses. People are allowed to game the system by signing up just before they need treatment, only to leave once the treatment is received. The young dump plans that require them to pay for the insurance of the old. The old sign up in droves. Systems with cross-subsidies are inherently unstable. Yet the insurers are unwisely limited in what they can spend on administrative expenses, which unhappily limits their ability to recruit new customers or to monitor the behavior of their existing ones.

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Daily on Defense writer Jamie McIntyre joins Examining Politics to discuss an in depth article he wrote for the Washington Examiner. Jamie is an expert on all things defense and shares his knowledge on Korea, Mattis, and more. Be sure to subscribe to his newsletter Daily on Defense to stay up to date.

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Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America endure three bad martinis today as two more GOP Senators bail on the plan to overhaul Obamacare and a new effort to vote on a clean repeal is already in grave danger of failing. They criticize President Trump for keeping Obama’s infamous Iran Nuclear Deal without giving his advisers enough time to develop a new policy. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is another source of disappointment today as he declares his intention to increase the use of civil asset forfeiture, which allows the federal government to seize the property of suspected criminals — without charging them with a crime.

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Obamacare Replacement Bill Now Lacks Votes to Pass; Update: McConnell to Introduce Straight Repeal Bill

 

Senators Mike Lee (R-UT) and Jerry Moran (R-KS) announced Monday night that they will not support the GOP bill to “repeal and replace” ObamaCare. With the previous defections of Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Rand Paul (R-KY), the bill no longer has enough votes to pass.

“In addition to not repealing all of the Obamacare taxes,” Lee said, “it doesn’t go far enough in lowering premiums for middle class families; nor does it create enough free space from the most costly Obamacare regulations.”

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It’s Time to Fight Back!

 

I hate to admit it, but it’s time to meet the other side, head-on. A new narrative must be created to convince people that the conservatives, represented by Republicans, are willing to fight for our values and proposals, and do it with every resource we have, and we don’t care whether the Dems like it or not.

Martel, in his recent post persuaded me that we must be creative, determined, and unapologetic about what we have to offer this country. The process will be painful, difficult, and discouraging at the beginning, because people won’t believe us. They won’t. And the Democrats will use everything in their arsenal to fight us. But an adamant truth-telling must begin.

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Politics Editor Jim Antle and White House Correspondent Sarah Westwood are on Examining Politics to give you a preview of the week ahead for the Trump administration. The White House has brought back themed weeks, launching Made in America Week Monday. But will

 as the Russia investigation dominates the headlines? Sarah Westwood breaks it down for Examining Politics.

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Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America start the week off with three crazy martinis, beginning with the Secret Service disputing a Trump lawyer’s claim that it vetted the people who met with Donald Trump Jr. in June 2016. They also scold both Jane Sanders and Kellyanne Conway for asserting – in separate situations – that harsh criticism of them is a result of their gender. And they sigh as Ann Coulter unloads on Delta Airlines in a Twitter rant after having her seat assignment changed.

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Leadership and Laziness

 

In my latest op-ed for the local fishwrap, I tell the tale of an old German general with the mouthful of a name Kurt Gebhard Adolf Philipp Freiherr von Hammerstein-Equord. Between the world wars, he was tasked with restructuring the military, at least until he tried to kill Hitler, which got him into a spot of bother. But how he decided whom to promote and whom to fire fascinates me from a business perspective.

He divided the entire officer corps into four quadrants, which I illustrated in the chart to the right:

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Impatience

 

I saw a comment at Ricochet. I thought it was illustrative, and typical of a frustration I have seen many times in the past month.

I would be more optimistic if more major policies had been implemented (repeal Obamacare, tax reform, big military budget, etc.) and if more appointments had been made to the administration and the judiciary. Many substantial things still need done.

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Delay of Trump Appointments: Who’s to Blame?

 

We have a classic finger-pointing moment: Trump has had few positions filled in his administration, and theories abound on why appointments are taking so long. Of course, most opinions are driven by partisanship. But I’m going to try to clarify what is actually going on—or not going on.

One reason for the delays is that the Trump administration got off to a very slow start. There are 559 government posts that require Senate confirmation. On “Fox and Friends” Trump said, “I look at some of the jobs, and it’s people over people over people. What do all these people do?” He suggested he might not want to fill all those positions. But to conduct deep cuts, people need to be hired at the higher levels to decide which positions should be eliminated.

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