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Friday, April 29, 2016

Reagan Family Slams Will Ferrell Over New Movie Mocking Former President With Dementia

Having impersonated former President George W. Bush in a number of sketches on “Saturday Night Live,” actor Will Ferrell is no stranger to political comedy. But a new role he will reportedly play as former President Ronald Reagan has many up in arms—and for good reason.

Sources tell Variety Ferrell is attached to star as President Reagan in the Black List script “Reagan.”

Penned by Mike Rosolio, the story begins at the start of the then-president’s second term when he falls into dementia and an ambitious intern is tasked with convincing the commander-in-chief that he is an actor playing the president in a movie.

The script was so popular following its announcement on the Black List, an annual catalog of the top unproduced scripts in Hollywood, that a live read was done recently done in March starring Lena Dunham and John Cho.

Ferrell will produce along with production banner Gary Sanchez Productions. The package currently is without a director, but will soon be shopped to studios.

Reagan’s family has expressed outrage over the film, along with a number of other Twitter users.

His daughter Patti Davis also wrote an open letter to Ferrell, explaining how their family watched helplessly as their father drifted away. 

"Alzheimer’s is the ultimate pirate, pillaging a person’s life and leaving an empty landscape behind," she writes. "It sweeps up entire families, forcing everyone to claw their way through overwhelming grief, confusion, helplessness, and anger. Perhaps for your comedy you would like to visit some dementia facilities. I have — I didn’t find anything comedic there, and my hope would be that if you’re a decent human being, you wouldn’t either." 

Even if you haven’t experienced a loved passing through the heartbreaking stages of Alzheimer’s, one would think we could all agree that anyone suffering from the disease shouldn’t be made fun of for it. Then again, this is Hollywood we're talking about, and Reagan was a Republican.

Russia and NATO Meet: Time for Allies to Call off Mini-Cold War with Moscow

The NATO-Russia Council met in Brussels for the first time in nearly two years. “We are not afraid of dialogue,” announced alliance Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg. Alas, he explained: “it was reconfirmed that we disagree on the facts, on the narrative and the responsibilities in and around Ukraine.”

Of course, this should surprise no one. After all, Russia is in a mini-Cold War with the U.S. and Europe over Ukraine.

Only reassessing everyone’s respective national interests will change the existing relationship. Should the West maintain permanent confrontation with Russia over Ukraine?

None of the allies has made a security commitment to Kiev. Indeed, few if any of the 28 NATO members are willing to go to war with Russia over its neighbor.

Should the U.S. and Europe treat Kiev as if it was a member of NATO? There’s a reason the alliance has a membership process. One criterion is not to induct countries with a casus belli or two trailing behind.

More fundamentally, inclusion only makes sense if it makes the existing allies more secure. No one seemed to consider this issue during the madcap alliance expansion after the Cold War because the organization was treated as an international gentleman’s club.

However, the Ukraine conflict reminded everyone that war could happen. Which is why NATO members would be mad to include Kiev.

Moscow has behaved badly and Ukrainians are suffering as a result, but such humanitarian considerations, are a poor basis for issuing military commitments. Kiev simply doesn’t matter much geopolitically to Europe or America.

Indeed, despite all of the tub-thumping about the supposed new Russian threat, Vladimir Putin is a poor excuse for Joseph Stalin or Adolf Hitler. His aggregate “conquests” so far are pitiful. There’s no evidence that he covets any other territory, certainly none without an ethnic-Russian majority.

And despite Moscow’s modest military revival, Europe alone vastly outranges Russia in economic strength and military spending. America’s global reach is unparalleled.

There’s still reason for the West to oppose Russia’s actions in Ukraine, though the allies’ hands are hardly clean. However, provoking a wounded bear is stupid in international relations as well as in the natural world.

Sanctions remain in place to no obvious effect. They punish but have not transformed Moscow’s behavior. And they discourage Russian cooperation on other important issues.

The U.S. and Europe must decide whether they are willing to wage a permanent mini-Cold War over Ukraine. Russia took back Crimea lawlessly, but no more so than the allies broke up Serbia and created an independent Kosovo.

A majority of Crimeans probably supported the move, though only a free and fair referendum, unlike that conducted by Moscow, would tell for sure. In any case, Crimea is no more likely to go back to Ukraine than Kosovo is likely to go back to Serbia.

The Donbas is a mix of civil war and aggression, which isn’t unusual. While everyone seems to agree on the political settlement represented by the Minsk agreement, both Kiev and Moscow appear lax in implementation. Even the end of shooting won’t mean harmony is restored.

Which suggests the allies should seek to forge a deal with Moscow that gets both sides out of the present geopolitical cul-de-sac. As I point out in Forbes: “agree to disagree over Crimea, neutralize Ukraine by withdrawing Russian support from insurgents and NATO’s promise of eventual membership for Kiev, liberalize trade opportunities for Ukraine in both directions, and swap Moscow’s acquiescence in the results of Ukraine’s political system for grants of significant autonomy to areas filled with ethnic Russians.”

Kiev could refuse to go along, but then it would be on its own. Only a deal seems likely to deliver peace for Ukraine, security for Russia, stability for Europe, and satisfaction for America (which really has no meaningful geopolitical stake, only moral sentiment).

The EU and U.S. should negotiate a deal normalizing relations. Everyone would benefit from ending the current impasse. Especially the Ukrainian people.

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Why Conservatives Should Prefer Divided Government to President Trump


By   |  April 29, 2016, 0

As the media (erroneously) try to give the Cruz/Carly ticket its last rites, it may be worth examining what those twin horrors – a Trump or Clinton Presidency – might look like.

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump overlap on many policy positions; Trump has waffled on abortion, said he backs government-run healthcare, and expressed his support for touchback amnesty. However, for the sake of argument, assume that he is to the right of Hillary on at least a few important issues. As Dennis Prager is fond of remarking on his radio show, should conservatives bet that Trump will do less damage to the country than the known disaster that will be President Hillary?

A key missing piece in this analysis of Trump as the lesser evil, however, is the opposition factor: how will the rest of the Republican Party react to policies advanced by a Clinton versus a Trump administration? If the last three decades have proven anything, it’s that Republicans in Congress are unlikely to stand up to liberal policies pushed by anyone with an (R) after his name in the White House.

Under both George Bush, Sr. and George W. Bush, Newt Gingrich’s once-revolutionary Republican Congress gave its stamp of approval to big-government programs like No Child Left Behind and Medicare Part D, allowing the deficit to continue growing. That same Republican Congress was poised to pass comprehensive amnesty in 2006 on direction from the White House, stymied only by the popular revolt against it that preceded similar Tea Party demonstrations three years later.

Conservatives can rest assured that Hillary Clinton’s picks for the Supreme Court will be opposed by Republican members of the Senate, forcing her to pick centrists. After President Trump’s initial conservative picks are rejected by Senate Democrats, can those same Republican Senators be counted on to filibuster his inevitable liberal nominees?

In California, conservatives have already seen this dynamic play out. Shamefully shunting aside the state’s rock-ribbed conservative Tom McClintock (in an election with eerily similar dynamics to today’s Trump-Cruz contest, right down to Sean Hannity’s betrayal), California Republicans bet on a celebrity who said some conservative-sounding things during the primary, but had known liberal leanings on many issues. Arnold Schwarzenegger gave several decent conservative reforms a shot in the first two years of his governorship, but when he realized that passing conservative policy in the state was going to be a tough political battle, he shifted to the parts of his agenda that were easier to pass through the Democrat-laden legislature, where he was able to mute most of the opposition within his own Republican ranks.

What did California conservatives get out of Schwarzenegger’s tenure at the helm? Cap and Trade and raised fees that a Democratic governor could never have passed over Republican opposition.

Both Trump and Clinton would be disasters for conservatism and for our constitutional republic. But with a Clinton administration, conservatives can at least rely on the partisan opposition of the Republican Party, and the systemic checks the Founders wisely placed in the system to slow down her “fundamental transformation[s].” Relying on the Republican Party to actively oppose the liberal and disastrous policies of a Republican President is a worse bet. Between the terrible options presented by the possibility of a Trump-Hillary race, conservatives should sit this one out or vote third party.


Ted Cruz Set to Take Significant Delegate Count in Virginia

For those already sounding the death knell for Senator Cruz’s campaign, you may want to hold off a smidge.

Virginia, a state that went to Trump in the primary, is set to have their delegate selection on Saturday, and the Cruz ground game is in full effect. GOP insiders with the state expect all 13 delegates to lean to Cruz.

As the selection process begins, Ken Cuccinelli, former VA Attorney General and Cruz convention advisor, could be included, while closing out former VA Governor and 2016 candidate for the presidency, Jim Gilmore, as well as Trump’s VA campaign director, Corey Stewart.


“The Cruz campaign is mobilized in Virginia and they will likely dominate the convention floor on Friday and Saturday,” said a Virginia Republican central committee member familiar with the state convention process.”

Meanwhile, Donald Trump’s advisors feel confident that there will be no contested convention. They believe that if this past week’s primary results are any indicator, Trump is well-poised to reach the required 1,237 delegates needed to secure the nomination, outright.

Cruz has been making significant strides in collecting delegates over the last few weeks, much to the consternation of the GOP’s slow witted front runner.

Before Virginia convention-goers elect their national delegates, a Nominations Committee of party insiders will recommend a 13-member slate. The nomination panel includes appointees from state party chairman John Whitbeck, along with designees of the Virginia GOP’s 11 Congressional district leaders. They’ll select from among 80 applicants, including Cuccinelli, Stewart and Gilmore, who is also handling the Virginia GOP’s general election get-out-the-vote effort.

The slate then comes before the full state convention – a collection of GOP activists selected at local party meetings throughout the spring – for a final vote. If Cruz backers control the convention, they could reject the slate and force through another version packed with Cruz allies. The Nominations Committee may anticipate that outcome and propose a slate tilted toward Cruz supporters.

Interviews for the delegates begins today.

“We’ll do our best to put together a slate that will pass,” said Jo Thoburn, one of the panel members. “We’ll see who’s in the room and what makes the most sense. Traditionally – and let me emphasize traditionally – our statewide elected are usually given seats on the slate. There’s nothing traditional this year.”

Graven Craig, the chairman of the committee, said the pan will “consider all merits of all the candidates who want to go represent us at the national convention.”

But one state GOP official familiar with the nomination panel noted that there’s only one self-declared Trump supporter on the panel – Renee Maxey of the state central committee – while several have backed Cruz or Rubio.

Stewart, however, is not concerned, as he feels people are beginning to accept Trump as nominee, and that in the end, there will be unification.



The post Ted Cruz Set to Take Significant Delegate Count in Virginia appeared first on RedState.

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Dear Director Comey

(Scott Johnson)

H.A. Goodman is an immoderate supporter of Bernie Sanders for president. He is also a Huffington Post blogger. In his most recent column, republished at Salon, Goodman returns to the matter of Hillary Clinton’s private email set-up to conduct official business as Secretary of State. Goodman frames the column as an open letter to FBI Director James Comey. Apart from the expressions of support for Sanders, I would change only one word (“could face indictment” should read “should face indictment”). Here is the heart of Goodman’s column:

Since your investigation has taken so long, many people believe that nothing has been found, or simply that Clinton is too powerful to face any serious repercussions. Any attempt to warn people that Hillary Clinton could realistically face criminal indictments is either viewed as a Republican scare tactic, or lunacy. Even many Bernie Sanders supporters, a group that would benefit the most from the FBI recommending indictment of Clinton, feel it’s either disloyal, or pointless to bring up the email controversy. The massive group think within the Democratic Party, fostered by years of circumventing political scandals, has literally altered the mindset of normally rational individuals, and voters.

To a great many people, there is simply nothing Hillary Clinton can do wrong; even FBI investigations are merged with Republican Benghazi hearings.

Ultimately, your hard work, and your investigation into Clinton’s email server and correspondence, is viewed as a big, fat “nothingb[u]rger.” As Esquire’s Charles Pierce writes, “The great Hillary email nothingburger is still on the grill, and it’s certainly overcooked.” Sadly, the FBI has become part of a satirical narrative centered upon Clinton being the victim of never-ending Republican attacks.

It’s important for everyone at the FBI to know that your investigation, and I say this with all due respect, is viewed as a source of amusement for many writers, pundits, and observers loyal to Clinton. The 22 Top Secret emails on a private server (something that should disqualify anyone running for president) are either completely ignored by party faithful, or rationalized by twisted logic. Nothing is taken seriously anymore; everything is viewed through the belief that Republicans are worse, therefore Clinton’s indiscretions are meaningless.

This should tell you something about the state of our Republic. This should also tell you something about the rule of law in our country. If anyone else in the U.S. government owned a private server storing Top Secret intelligence, for the sake of “convenience,” they’d be in jail. Lt. General Michael Flynn made that case on CNN with Jake Tapper.

The mere notion that Hillary Clinton could face criminal indictments is simply unrealistic to many voters, and I explain here what the Clinton campaign and supporters think of you and your organization. There used to be a time in U.S. history when FBI investigations were bad for campaigns; now it’s not even a speed bump for the former Secretary of State.

While I’ve stated on this CNN International appearance that Clinton could face indictment, and in a CNN New Day appearance that Clinton manages to continually circumvent scandal, only the FBI can resolve this grandiose issue.

Our country is getting closer to electing a person, under FBI investigation for potential misconduct pertaining to classified documents, that will have complete access to every single American intelligence agency.

When Univision’s Jorge Ramos asked Clinton “If you get indicted, will you drop out?” the former Secretary of State’s answer spoke volumes. She responded, “Oh, for goodness — that’s not going to happen.” The audience then cheered, for a response that no other American citizen would give to a question regarding possible DOJ indictment.

I’m not saying that people should fear the FBI. I’m saying people should respect the FBI. At this point, Bernie Sanders is the only Democratic candidate not linked to an FBI investigation, yet Clinton is leading in delegates. This dynamic would never take place in any other leading democracy. If David Cameron had been investigated by MI5, rest assured the British would never have allowed him to become leader of his political party, and eventually Prime Minister.

No doubt, you must perform your investigation without political pressure, but the reality is that millions of Bernie Sanders supporters are awaiting your verdict. Millions of independent voters, and millions of Democrats who aren’t voting for Clinton, need to hear your verdict. Needless to say, the Republicans are waiting as well.

The entire nation is waiting for you to disclose the details of your year-long email investigation.

Whole thing (with links) here.


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EPA ozone rule looms large in swing state

By Timothy Cama - 04-29-16 06:00 AM EDT

The Denver area is playing a starring role in the national fight over President Obama's new ozone pollution rule, with potential implications for a crucial Senate race.

The energy industry and other opponents of the ozone rule argue that the Mile High City will suffer serve economic damage from the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) regulation, which is meant to reduce smog.

They see fertile ground for their cause in Colorado, a presidential swing state where Sen. Michael Bennet is considered the most vulnerable Senate Democrat running for reelection this year.

The rule's supporters note that Denver has repeatedly failed to meet national air quality standards over the years, and say its reputation for polluted air presents an opportunity to make the case for government regulation.

But the Center for Regulatory Solutions, an industry group that's been at the forefront of the fight against the ozone rule, has repeatedly highlighted and targeted Denver in its campaigns, characterizing the advocacy as amplifying local opposition.

"Moving the standard down to where the far left wants it to be has received significant pushback in Colorado," said Matt Dempsey, spokesman for the Center for Regulatory Solutions (CRS).

"That's why you see such strong pushback from state, local and county officials, and elected representatives, because they have been on top of this issue."

The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), the American Petroleum Institute (API) and others have also focused significant efforts on Denver, both to pressure local leaders to oppose the rule and to show national leaders the area's pain.

The EPA's rule from last year lowered the acceptable amount of ozone in ambient air to 70 parts per billion, from the 75 parts per billion set in 2008. Ozone is the main component in smog, and is linked to respiratory ailments like asthma.

Areas that exceed the standard have to come up with ways to clean their air. That usually means reducing the pollutants from fossil fuel burning that turn into ozone, something that could hurt the energy industry and sectors that rely on energy.

In December, the EPA said Denver is unlikely to meet the new standard by 2025, the only area outside of California to get the honor. In its annual report on air pollution released in April, the American Lung Association, which supports the EPA's rule, ranked the Denver area as the 8th worst for ozone in the country, saying its air improved since last year, but is still worse than two decades ago.

Due to its manufacturing base, the oil and gas boom, population growth and other factors, Denver produces many of the pollutants that become ozone. But owing to the Rocky Mountains, wind patterns and similar factors, the city has had difficulty cleaning its air.

"There are a number of drivers for ozone in the air, and so far we haven't gotten a handle on how to ratchet that back and come into compliance with even the old standards, or even the new standard," said Justin Pidot, an environmental law professor at the University of Denver. "So that causes handwringing."

Business interests see those factors as working in their favor as they oppose the rule.

"If you're a manufacturer in Colorado, and you're looking to expand your product line or open a new facility, and you have to comply with a federal standard that is unattainable, in that part of the country, you can't get your project done," said Greg Bertelsen, senior director for energy policy at NAM. "You're really hamstrung."

NAM and API are both suing the EPA in federal court to have the regulation overturned, and lobbying Congress to change or reverse it.

Bennet and Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) are key targets for business groups in the ozone fight. Both are moderate Democrats who've spoken out with concerns about the rule, and the rule's opponents have highlighted their comments as breaking with Obama.

Bennet told The Hill that the EPA needs to recognize how much of Colorado's pollution is blown in from other states or countries.

"We need a rule that is going to work for Colorado, and recognizes that a lot of these issues in our air aren't coming from Colorado, it's not produced in Colorado," he said. "So we're going to have to get a rule that actually works."

Asked if the rule that the EPA put out works, Bennet said, "well, we're examining it."

Shortly before the rule was made final last year, Bennet said at an oil industry event that he was "deeply concerned about it."

Hickenlooper said in March that "it would be a great idea" if the ozone standard were suspended.

But he's also defended the rule. "Clean air is too important to Colorado to become a partisan issue," he said. "I am convinced as much as I ever have been that this is in the self-interest of the state."

Bennet has made a name for himself as a moderate on energy and environmental policy, in part by supporting the Keystone XL pipeline. But the ozone rule could still hurt him if his eventual GOP opponent uses it to tie him to Obama's regulatory agenda.

"If played correctly, some political points can be made here for sure, but how salient this particular issue will be compared to the nationalized politics that has driven down-ballot politics in recent presidential election years, that's hard to forecast," said Kyle Saunders, a political science professor at Colorado State University.

There are currently five Republicans vying to face Bennet, and none have made ozone a major point of their campaign yet.

Public health and environmental advocates say the energy industry has it all wrong with its Denver strategy.

"The polluters may well be looking at Colorado as their Alamo, the place to take their last stand," said Pete Maysmith, executive director of Conservation Colorado. "Because once a clean air policy or regulation is moving forward in Colorado, which is a purple state politically and has a heavy and significant fossil fuel industry presence, it's kind of game over elsewhere."

Maysmith, who grew up in Denver and has numerous stories going back years about the city's thick, brown air, labeled the efforts to highlight Democratic opposition as "grasping at straws."

"I think they're overplaying their hand. I think you might even detect a whiff of desperation in them doing that," Maysmith said. Hickenlooper, who was within 4 percentage points of losing the 2014 election, has repeatedly said he wants Colorado to have "the cleanest air in the nation."

Paul Billings, head of advocacy for the American Lung Association, said the energy sector is probably fighting the ozone rule so much because it knows it's a major part of the problem.

"What we're seeing is that the additional emissions from oil and gas operations - fugitive emissions, additional emissions associated with the diesel from vehicle traffic - all these things are contributing to the ozone problem," he said.

"It's a manmade problem that needs manmade solutions, cleaning up these sources and working to drive down pollution levels."

Intersectionality: Fuelling the Race, Gender, and Class Wars