The cover of a special edition of the National Review says it all: "Against Trump."
— Megyn Kelly (@megynkelly) January 22, 2016
The magazine is out on Friday, but the National Review posted the 22 essays by conservative thinkers on its website Thursday night, with each author trying his best to put as much distance between Republican frontrunner Donald Trump and the conservative movement as possible. Yuval Levin, a contributing editor of the National Review, put it succinctly: "Donald Trump is no conservative. That's not a crime, it's just a reason to vote against him."
Glenn Beck decided to take the fear mongering route, saying if Trump becomes the Republican nominee, "there will once again be no opposition to an ever-expanding government. This is a crisis for conservatism." Talk show host Michael Medved also played on the fears of some conservatives that Trump is becoming the poster boy for the movement. "Trump's brawling, blustery, mean-spirited public persona serves to associate conservatives with all the negative stereotypes that liberals have for decades attached to their opponents on the right," he wrote.
Novelist Mark Helprin painted Trump as someone ill-prepared for the presidency, writing: "He doesn't know the Constitution, history, law, political philosophy, nuclear strategy, diplomacy, defense, economics beyond real estate, or even, despite his low-level mafioso comportment, how ordinary people live." Others decided to get personal, with David Boaz of the Cato Institute saying Trump puts his "crazy" out "front and center," and is "effectively vowing to be an American Mussolini," while Mona Charen of the Ethics and Public Policy Center called him "pitifully insecure."
Trump responded by calling the National Review a "dying paper" that "people don't even think about." Catherine Garcia
Morning Joe co-host Joe Scarborough laid into President Trump on Friday for how badly he has botched his first major legislative effort, health-care reform. The morning after House Republican leaders delayed a planned vote on their proposal to repeal and replace ObamaCare, an exasperated Scarborough argued Trump should have spotted these looming problems from the get-go. "This was obvious," Scarborough said. "... This was such an obviously stupid play done by somebody or a group of people who didn't know how Washington worked."
Aside from deciding to lead with health care, Trump's first mistake was the decision to lead with House Speaker Paul Ryan's "version of health care," Scarborough contended. Scarborough argued Ryan's version is "completely opposite of what Donald Trump promised every day on the campaign trail."
If Trump weren't such a "neophyte," Scarborough said he would've known not to listen to Congress. "His problem is getting momentum legislatively, passing tax reform, passing regulatory reform, getting the wind behind their backs, and letting Ryan fight with John McCain and others in the Senate, they come together with a bill, and then he comes in at the end and plays peacemaker," Scarborough said, calling that strategy "so obvious for anybody who knows how Washington works."
"But it's a lot tougher than it looks on TV, isn't it?" Scarborough said. Trump has issued an ultimatum to Republicans, ordering them to pass the health-care bill Friday or deal with ObamaCare remaining in place.
Catch Scarborough's rant below. Becca Stanek
Donald Trump made his superior health a focal point of his presidential campaign, going as far as to reveal his medical records on a Dr. Oz TV special, where he was ruled to be in ship-shape, if slightly overweight. And Trump — who loves fast food and considers giving a speech to be sufficient exercise — was even praised as being "the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency" by his own physician.
Randomly, Friday brought even more praise of President Trump's glorious wellness. In a morning discussion with Axios' Mike Allen, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin effused that Trump has "got perfect genes."
Mnuchin added that Trump has stopped eating KFC and McDonald's. "He has incredible energy and he's unbelievably healthy," Mnuchin shared. Jeva Lange
Trump's budget director advises voters to direct their ire to state politicians if they don't like the GOP health bill
Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney's best advice for people whose home state may no longer require maternity benefits, thanks to Republicans' health-care proposal? Figure it out yourself. "Why do we look to the federal government to try and fix our local problems?" Mulvaney said Friday on CBS This Morning.
Mulvaney defended the American Health Care Act's new provision that repeals the essential health benefits requirement, which Talking Points Memo explained demands insurers "cover a list of 10 essential benefits, including maternity care." "If you live in a state that wants to mandate maternity coverage for everybody, including 60-year-old women, that's fine," Mulvaney said, noting some states already require the coverage of select essential benefits.
"But what if you live in a state that doesn't do that?" CBS This Morning co-host Alex Wagner asked. "Then you can figure out a way to change the state that you live in," Mulvaney said.
"So you should move?" Wagner asked. "No, they can try to change their own state legislatures and their state laws," Mulvaney replied. Watch the interview below. Becca Stanek
A scheduled House vote on the Republican health-care bill was delayed Thursday evening after conservative Freedom Caucus members announced a "no" stance on the legislation following an afternoon meeting with President Trump. Losing the support of the Freedom Caucus, which believes the GOP health-care replacement is too similar to ObamaCare, ultimately left Republicans with too few votes for the bill to pass. By Thursday evening, Trump had issued a frustrated ultimatum: Either Republicans approve the American Health Care Act on Friday, or ObamaCare stays.
By Friday morning, Trump had taken to Twitter in an attempt to crank up the pressure on the mutinous Freedom Caucus:
The irony is that the Freedom Caucus, which is very pro-life and against Planned Parenthood, allows P.P. to continue if they stop this plan!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 24, 2017
Some observers have pointed out that Trump's attempts to coerce the Freedom Caucus could easily backfire. "I can't think of a Freedom Caucus member who would change their vote as a result of this attack," tweeted Axios reporter Jonathan Swan. "If anything would just enrage [and] solidify." Jeva Lange
The CIA reportedly developed software to turn Mac computers into "listening posts," with the spy agency apparently able to track users' activities whenever they connected to the internet, a new WikiLeaks document dump has revealed. The information comes on the heels of an initial group of CIA documents, released by WikiLeaks on March 7, that showed the CIA could hack iPhones, Androids, Microsoft Windows computers, Cisco routers, and Samsung smart TVs, The New York Times reports.
Apple said that it discovered the vulnerability in its Mac computers and fixed it in all computers released after 2013. "We have given [WikiLeaks] instructions to submit any information they wish through our normal process under our standard terms," Apple said in a statement Thursday. "Thus far, we have not received any information from them that isn't in the public domain. We are tireless defenders of our users' security and privacy, but we do not condone theft or coordinate with those that threaten to harm our users."
While "all of the surveillance tools that have been disclosed were designed to be installed on individual phones or computers," The New York Times adds that Cisco Systems, for one, "warned customers this week that many of its popular routers, the backbone of computer networks, could be hacked using the CIA's techniques." The CIA has defended its techniques as being an "innovative" and "cutting-edge" means of protecting the country from adversaries.
Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, 88, was freed Friday from imprisonment, six years after he was ousted from his three-decade reign by Arab Spring protesters, The New York Times reports.
Mubarak's fall had once been seen as a hopeful model of Arab citizens holding their leaders accountable for human rights abuses and corruption, only for Mubarak's example to eventually fizzle out in court, where he received just one conviction on a minor corruption charge. "At this point, I really don't care," said activist Ahmed Harara, who lost sight in both eyes after being shot by police in the 2011 Cairo protests. "I realized years ago that this is not just about Mubarak and his regime — it's an entire system that has now resurrected itself." Jeva Lange
The Trump administration issued a presidential permit on Friday approving the construction of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, The Associated Press reports.
President Trump had earlier signed an executive order to move the project forward, arguing that the pipeline would create thousands of jobs, although the State Department expects it to eventually only employ 35 people after construction is completed. The $8 billion pipeline has also faced fierce protest from environmental activists, who point to its use of Alberta's carbon-laden tar sands as a contributor to climate change. "We cannot let the Trump administration undo the progress that people all over the country have made to ensure we avoid catastrophic climate change," said Greenpeace's Diana Best.
Former President Obama blocked the project in 2015, claiming it would contribute to climate change and would not reduce fuel prices for American drivers. Jeva Lange