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Delingpole: Ding Dong the Witch Isn't Dead. May Lives to Ruin Brexit

Ding Dong, the Witch Isn’t Dead.

Against all reason, Theresa May – the worst Prime Minister in British history – has yet again survived an attempt to boot her out of office.

This has nothing to do with her merits: she has none.

It is entirely due to the short-termism, cowardice and depressing lack of soundness among all those Conservative MPs who voted to keep her in office – despite being perfectly aware (as who can not be?) that she is a lame duck Prime Minister causing little but harm and embarrassment to her party, her electorate and her country.

All day in the run up to the vote, May’s MPs have been dressing up their pusillanimity and self-serving weaselry as a mix of pragmatism, patriotism and high principle.

No. These people are a disgrace both to their party (surveys show that grassroots Conservatives are roughly 80 percent in favour of dumping May) and to their country.

Whatever their short-term reasons for keeping May – fear of triggering a general election that might cost them their salaries and their ring-fenced pensions; fear of change; fear that their desire to sabotage Brexit (because lots of them are, of course, Remainers) might fail – the long-term damage they may end up causing is incalculable.

For a start, May is now unsackable for at least a year. She will also likely interpret it as an endorsement by her MPs of her Dog’s Breakfast Brexit “deal” – and consequently grow more determined than ever to ram it through parliament. Who knows: she might even succeed and Britain will stay, half in, half out of the European Union forever.

Then there’s the damage it will do to the Conservative party. For the price of keeping their salary for a couple more years, or for the satisfaction of propping up their liberal elite interests and shafting us plebs yet again, these selfish, purblind, spineless fools are going to render their party unelectable.

But the far more serious problem is what this will do for the state of democracy in Britain. Most of these Tory MPs represent constituencies that voted Leave, yet have persistently sought to undermine that vote with their schemings and their manoeuvrings. Their decision to keep May in office is a perfect example of this betrayal. How can Britain claim to be a representative democracy when the people in parliament hold the views of the voters they represent in such obvious contempt?

On the motorway, about 30 miles outside London is a big sign in a field that reads simply: “LEAVE MEANS LEAVE. NO DEAL – NO PROBLEM.”

That is the authentic voice of Britain outside the Westminster bubble.

The tragedy is that all the key decisions regarding Brexit are currently being made by people inside the Westminster bubble.

Those responsible will never be forgiven.

Most U.S. Financial Officers Think a Recession Will Hit by 2020

Nearly half of U.S. chief financial officers expect the U.S. economy will fall into a recession in 2019.

The recession expectations cap a dramatic turn around of CFO optimism, according to the Duke University/CFO Global Business Outlook survey released Wednesday.

As recently as September, CFOs were forecasting earnings growth of 12.8 percent over the next year. In the most recent survey, forecast earnings growth crashed to just 4.5 percent. A year ago, the forecast was for 5.3 percent.

Expectations for capital spending have also fallen. The median expectation is just a 2 percent increase, down from 5.0 percent in September and 3.2 percent a year ago. The forecast for R&D spending fell to 1.4 percent growth from 3.2 percent a year ago.

In addition, more than 80% think a recession will strike by the end of 2020.

Despite their pessimism, U.S. CFOs are more positive than their counterparts around the world. In Africa, 97 percent of CFOs believe that a recession will have begun no later than year-end 2019. In Canada, 86 percent expect a recession next year. In Europe, 66.7 percent. In Asia, 54 percent.  Only Latin America was more optimistic than the U.S., with 42 percent of CFOs expecting a recession in 2019.

The labor market still tops the worries of U.S. CFOs. More than 46% listed it as a top concern this quarter, a decline from 53% in the previous survey. Government policies ranked as the second highest concern.

The bleak outlook stands in stark contrast to what is indicated by current economic data and the forecast of the Federal Reserve. Both manufacturing and services sectors have been strong, inflation is tame, and employment continues to rise.

One concern is that the expectations of CFOs could become a self-fulfilling prophecy if businesses pull back from investing, hiring, and spending in anticipation of an economic slump.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May Survives No Confidence Vote

Prime Minister Theresa May has won the vote of confidence amongst her fellow Conservative MPs and will remain as party leader.

Mrs May won the support of 200 MPs, with 117 voting no confidence, according to the results of the secret ballot announced at 9pm by chairman of the 1922 Committee Sir Graham Brady from committee room 14 of the Houses of Parliament.

The prime minister needed to gain the support of more than half of Tory MPs in the House of Commons — 159 out of 317.

Westminster watchers were quick to point out that by winning 200 votes, Theresa May got one more MP backing her than when she was selected as a candidate to lead the party in 2016.

Now that Mrs May has won her vote of confidence, she is protected from further leadership challenges for the next 12 months.

Had Mrs May lost, she would have remained prime minister until the party found a new leader, a task in the hands of Sir Graham.

The chairman of the backbench 1922 Committee announced this morning that he had received letters calling for a confidence vote from 15 per cent of the House’s Tory MPs, 48, with the prime minister telling the nation that she would “contest that vote with everything I’ve got.”

The prime minister then battled Jeremy Corbyn at Prime Minister’s Questions at noon before meeting with the Brexiteer European Research Group (ERG) to win their support, and spoke to Conservative backbench MPs of the 1922 Committee at 5pm, an hour before the two-hour ballot.

Media reported that during the 1922 Committee meeting, the prime minister told Conservatives she would not lead the party into the next election in 2022.

LONDON, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 12: A view of the exterior of the Palace of Westminster on December 12, 2018 in London, England. Sir Graham Brady, the chairman of the 1922 Committee, has received the necessary 48 letters (15% of the parliamentary party) from Conservative MP’s that will trigger a vote of no confidence in Prime Minister Theresa May. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

Despite winning tonight’s vote, the prime minister still lacks a majority to pass her withdrawal agreement between the UK and the European Union.

The prime minister’s spokesman said Mrs May will take the opportunity during her trip to Brussels on Thursday to discuss with other EU leaders the situation in the UK, believing she will gain assurances over the Irish backstop — the issue holding up a successful passing of the agreement in Parliament.

A senior official in the bloc has said Prime Minister May will gain those assurances, according to Reuters, and will see what more she needs for MPs to back the agreement.

“I cannot tell you what sort of re-assurance leaders will give to Prime Minister May. What is not feasible is the re-negotiation of the withdrawal agreement, everything else is possible. Whatever assurances can be given, cannot contradict the deal,” the official said.

Mrs May is expected to make a statement this evening.

This story is developing…

Smuggler Packs 19 Migrants in Pickup Truck near Texas Border

Border Patrol agents in the Laredo Sector stopped a human smuggling attempt where a driver packed 19 migrants into a pickup truck. The driver managed to escape after fleeing the scene, leaving his cargo behind.

Border Patrol agents assigned to the Hebbronville Station came upon a suspicious vehicle near Mirando City, Texas. After seeing the agents’ patrol vehicle, the driver abruptly pulled his truck over and fled on foot, according to Laredo Sector Border Patrol officials.

19 Migrants packed into smuggler's pickup truck. (Photo: U.S. Border Patrol/Laredo Sector)

19 Migrants packed into smuggler’s pickup truck. (Photo: U.S. Border Patrol/Laredo Sector)

The agents approached the truck and found 19 mostly Central American migrants packed into the passenger compartment and the cargo bed.

Officials reported that the agents placed the 19 illegal immigrants in custody and began interviews. After transporting them to the Hebbronville Border Patrol Station, the agents conducted a biometric background and identification investigation. The agents identified 14 of the migrants as Guatemalans, one Honduran, and four Mexican nationals.

The driver managed to flee the scene as the agents worked to contain the migrants. Border Patrol officials seized the driver’s Chevrolet Silverado and processed the migrants under Laredo Sector Guidelines.

During the month of November, Laredo Sector agents apprehended a total of 2,670 illegal immigrants who crossed the border between ports of entry. Those included 183 unaccompanied minors and 49 family members. This is up from 2,283 in November 2017, but down from the 3,194 apprehended in November 2016.

Since the beginning of Fiscal Year 2019 (Oct. 1), Laredo Sector agents apprehended a total of 6,119 who entered the U.S. illegally. Those include 449 unaccompanied minors and 170 family units.

During all of Fiscal Year 2018, Laredo Sector agents apprehended 32,561 illegal immigrants — including 2,879 unaccompanied minors and 597 family units, officials reported.

Bob Price serves as associate editor and senior political news contributor for Breitbart Border/Cartel Chronicles. He is a founding member of the Breitbart Texas team. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTX and Facebook.

Ann Coulter — Government Indicts Ham Sandwich: Michael Cohen Pleads Guilty

This week, I will provide readers with a FREE excerpt from Resistance Is Futile!: How the Trump-Hating Left Lost Its Collective Mind in order to prove that if you’d bought the book two months ago, you’d already understand the rules of the game. Now that Democrats are about to take control of the House, this is the only book you’ll need until President Trump is out of office.

** ** **

Boring facts can be used to prove big crimes, but in the case of Trump attorney Michael Cohen’s payment to a porn star, what we have is a boring fact being used to prove a boring crime: an alleged violation of the campaign finance laws zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz … Worse: They’re trying to prove a reporting violation.

If Trump paid the $130,000 himself solely to help his campaign — and he wouldn’t have minded at all having a porn star telling the tabloids she’d had sex with him except for the fact that he was running for president — it would be a reporting violation and OH MY GOSH — HE’D HAVE TO PAY A FINE!

Their argument is what if he didn’t pay it himself?! That’s why the media are obsessed with when Cohen emailed Stormy Daniels’ lawyer and from which email address — trying to find bread crumbs that someone else paid Stormy in order to claim it was an illegal campaign contribution — again requiring that the payment be motivated solely by the fact that Trump was running for office.

This is how they lure you into arguing about something that doesn’t matter.

In the 1990s, Chinese nationals were literally dragging duffel bags of money into the Democratic National Committee as President Clinton allowed sensitive ballistic-missile guidance technology to be transferred to the Chinese government.

No charges. No independent counsel.

Clinton held illegal campaign fundraisers at the White House, where Chinese citizens handed checks directly to White House staff.

Still no charges and no independent counsel.

Videotapes of the White House fundraisers surfaced, featuring the president and vice president glad-handing campaign donors on federal property.

And again, no charges, no independent counsel.

The New York Times’ response to Attorney General Janet Reno’s refusal to assign an independent counsel to these textbook campaign finance violations was a forceful editorial lightly ribbing Reno for her “blunders.”

Saturday Night Live was tougher on Reno.

“Weekend Update With Norm Macdonald,” Nov. 8, 1997:

With the release of over 100 hours of videotape of President Clinton at campaign fundraisers, the pressure continues to mount on Attorney General Janet Reno to name an independent counsel to investigate the president. In addition, some senators are said to be furious that, instead of watching the videotapes, Reno has been taping over them with episodes of “Xena: Warrior Princess.”

But now we’re supposed to care that Trump’s personal lawyer lied about a legal payment to, depending on your point of view, a mistress or an opportunistic grifter — AND HE USED A TRUMP ORGANIZATION EMAIL ADDRESS.

Lying to the press isn’t a crime, and paying money to cover up an affair isn’t a crime, either, even if you’re running for president. If these were crimes, John Edwards would be on death row.

As a presidential candidate in 2008, Edwards lied up a storm about getting his mistress pregnant as his wife was dying of cancer. Only through the generous support of his well-heeled donors was he able to hide his mistress from the public. This donor-funded scam went on for months, until the National Enquirer finally caught Edwards visiting his mistress and newborn baby at the Beverly Hilton.

Edwards was later charged with campaign finance violations for using campaign funds to hide the affair. The prosecution was widely ridiculed, and the jury returned a verdict of not guilty.

If that’s not a violation of the campaign finance laws, then Trump’s $130,000 payment to Daniels sure isn’t.

** ** **

In a sane world, that ought to be all you need to know about Trump’s alleged campaign finance violations. As the money-grubbing Clinton years demonstrated, federal election laws are like “No Smoking” signs in France: rules that exist only for our amusement.

But with Robert “Ahab” Mueller no closer to finding anything resembling Russian collusion, the Resistance has pinned its impeachment hopes on the most meaningless of “crimes.”

Proving that the Cohen plea agreement is all about getting Trump on something — anything! — and not about enforcing the law, one of the crimes the government forced him to plead guilty to isn’t a crime. It’s not a crime by statutory definition and it’s not a crime by the fact that we still have a First Amendment.

Cohen pleaded guilty to a campaign finance violation for entering into a “catch and kill” agreement with the National Enquirer’s David Pecker, whereby the Enquirer would purchase, and then bury, the stories of women who claimed to have had sex with Trump, in this case, Karen McDougal.

As a definitional matter, that agreement cannot be the basis of a campaign finance violation. The government’s own Sentencing Memorandum for Michael Cohen states:

“In August 2014, (Pecker) had met with Cohen and (Trump), and had offered to help deal with negative stories about (Trump’s) relationships with women by identifying such stories so that they could be purchased and ‘killed.’”

August 2014 is a full year before there even was a Trump campaign. It’s disturbing enough to have every payment made during a campaign subject to investigation as a potential campaign finance violation. But to be finding campaign law violations before there’s even a campaign is ludicrous.

And is The New York Times OK with the government hauling newspaper publishers into court and demanding that they explain why they chose to run, or not to run, a story? Liberals may dispute whether bloggers are “journalists,” but the National Enquirer is the largest newspaper in the country.

If Pecker’s editorial judgment can be the subject of litigation, how about prosecuting Newsweek for catching and killing Michael Isikoff’s story on Monica Lewinsky?

Yes, Cohen pleaded guilty to a campaign finance violation for agreeing to pay Pecker to kill the affair stories. The government had nailed Michael Cohen on so many financial crimes (having nothing to do with Trump) that prosecutors could have gotten him to plead guilty to bearing Trump’s love child. (If Cohen wants a lucrative gig after prison, how about renting out his face by the hour to smart guys who like being underestimated?)

The main thing we’ve learned from Cohen’s guilty plea on the Enquirer deal is that these prosecutors don’t mind looking silly, as long as they can get Trump.

Democrats Plan to Re-Introduce Earmarks in New Congress

Incoming House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) told reporters Tuesday that Democrats plan to re-introduce earmarks, a practice through which individual members of Congress attach request special funding requests to bills.

Earmarks have long been criticized as “pork” because they are wasteful and prone to corruption, allowing incumbents to buy political support by using the federal budget to appease or reward favored contributors and political constituents.

Legislators also used earmarks to buy support for controversial legislation, using the practice to cobble together bipartisan coalitions.

Republicans led the effort to ban earmarks a decade ago. The late Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), long a critic of waste and corruption in government, called for earmarks to be banned, and the Tea Party movement embraced the idea.

President Barack Obama initially defended earmarks, saying, “Pork is in the eye of the beholder.” But he joined the bandwagon, over the objections of Democrats in Congress, and earmarks were eventually eliminated in 2011. Proponents of transparency cheered, but some legislators grumbled that they had lost a way to fight for their states or their districts.

After winning the presidency on a promise to “drain the swamp,” President Donald Trump surprised observers by proposing that Congress bring back earmarks as a way to increase bipartisanship.

The Brookings Institution, a liberal think tank, agreed, arguing: “When earmarks are banned, the result is not to eliminate preferential or politically motivated spending. Instead, the power of the purse migrates to bureaucrats and appointees in the federal agencies, formulas in entitlement programs, and hacks in the White House.”

Some Democrats also claim that their new earmarks will only apply to nonprofit and public sector projects, but those earmarks are often just as corrupt, given the blurred lines between political interests and public charity.

Regardless, there could be political costs. The Washington Times notes: The issue is so politically sensitive that some lawmakers are loath to even say the word “earmark” — instead calling the practice “congressionally directed spending.”

Some member of Congress will oppose the restoration of earmarks. The Times quoted Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) as saying that they never really worked, and adding that Democrats preferred earmarks because they love spending of almost any kind. “[Democrats] like to spend money like it was ditchwater. … This is all borrowed money we’re spending.”

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.