Monday's HOT MIC

Welcome to HOT MIC, PJ Media's daily liveblog. Join our editors and contributors for news updates and conversation throughout the day, and add your thoughts to the mix in our comments section at the bottom or by clicking on the comment bubbles on individual posts.  Be sure to save this link so you can find HOT MIC every day.

Good Monday Morning.

Here is what's on the President's agenda today:

  • In the morning, President Donald J. Trump will receive his daily intelligence briefing.
  • In the afternoon, the President will have lunch with Vice President Mike Pence.
  • The President will then meet with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
  • Later in the afternoon, the President will participate in a Made in America product showcase.

It's "Made in America" week

The Trump administration will spend the week highlighting the president's domestic manufacturing agenda. On Monday, the president will showcase products manufactured in all 50 states.

“The week ahead is going to be a great opportunity to highlight and to celebrate American workers and American companies that are responsible for producing the goods marked ‘Made in America’ that are a gold standard throughout the world,” White House director of media affairs Helen Aguirre Ferre said Sunday.

New York will be represented by iconic piano manufacturer, Steinway & Sons. Founded in 1853 in New York City, Steinw​a​y will offer special financing deals for the rest of July on its pianos as part of the event. “There are only a handful of brands that have the kind of American legacy that Steinway has,” Ron Losby, CEO of Steinway Musical Instruments, said in a statement.

On Wednesday, Trump will issue a proclamation on the importance of making products in America. And on Saturday Trump will travel to Newport News, Va., for the commissioning of the new aircraft carrier, USS Gerald R. Ford.

One item that is also on the Trump agenda: tariffs to incentivize American companies to keep their manufacturing here in the U.S. “Everything is on the table,” a White House official said.

Hot mess in the Senate delayed after McCain surgery

The Senate will delay consideration of the latest healthcare bill iteration while Senator McCain recovers from a surgical procedure.

McConnell's decision amounted to another setback for GOP efforts, promoted by President Donald Trump, to repeal and replace "Obamacare" after years of promises. McConnell issued his statement late Saturday not long after McCain's office disclosed that he had undergone surgery to remove a blood clot from above his left eye, and had been advised by his doctors to stay in Arizona next week to recover.

The GOP senators don't have any votes to spare for their bill, so McCain is a necessary participant in the process of passing this hot mess.

"While John is recovering, the Senate will continue our work on legislative items and nominations, and will defer consideration of the Better Care Act," said McConnell, R-Ky. It was not clear when the Senate would take up the bill again.

"We wish Senator McCain a speedy recovery," White House director of media affairs Helen Aguirre Ferre said Sunday.

McCain's procedure seems kind of serious:

In Phoenix, Mayo Clinic Hospital doctors said McCain underwent a "minimally invasive" procedure to remove the nearly 2-inch (5-centimeter) clot and that the surgery went "very well," a hospital statement said. McCain was reported to be resting comfortably at his home in Arizona.

Pathology reports on the clot were expected in the next several days.

Stand by to see how this develops.

Rand: They don't have the votes

Senator Rand Paul told Fox News Sunday that he does not think  Senate Majority Leader McConnell has the votes to pass the new Obamacare bill.

"I still think the entire 52 of us can get together on a more narrow, clean repeal," the Kentucky Republican said.

He is not the only senator that will oppose the bill. Senator Susan Collins told ABC's "This Week" that she didn't know if the bill could pass and that it would be "extremely close." She said that eight to ten Republicans have "deep concerns."

"But how this would all translate out, I'm not certain, and I never underestimate Leader McConnell's skills," she said.

The days of social engineering at the Department of Education are over

According to Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, the agency's Office of Civil Rights will return "to its role as a neutral, impartial, investigative agency."

In a letter to Sen. Patty Murray (D), DeVos asserted that the department's civil rights arm under the Obama administration "had descended into a pattern of overreaching, of setting out to punish and embarrass institutions rather than work with them to correct civil rights violations and of ignoring public input prior to issuing new rules."

The agency will not issue any more "dear colleague" letters that hand down edicts of "new regulations via administrative fiat."

The letter was a response to 34 Senate Democrats who wrote to DeVos asking for a list of civil rights investigations that the Trump administration has closed or dismissed. DeVos did not respond directly to that request.

DeVos wrote that the Obama Department of Education OCR's activism may have been "politically expedient" but it "deprived the public of meaningful opportunities to provide input. At my direction, the department will no longer mask new regulations as Dear Colleague letters and will issue new regulations only after appropriate notice and public comment."

Good.

James Carville: Democrats will have a hard time taking back the Senate

But a good chance of taking back the House.

“I think right now most Democrats are trying to focus on the 2018 elections and trying to recruit people and keep incumbents, and you know I would say we have a pretty good chance of taking the House back. The Senate is very, very difficult,” Carville told New York City radio host John Catsimatidis Sunday morning.

“The only places where we have an opportunity for pick up are, you know, Nevada is pretty good. After that Arizona is less good, then you’re down to Texas and Alabama, and for Democrats to win the Senate back, they have to pick up three seats,” Carville concluded.

I don't know if the Democrats can take back the House. What is the platform their challengers are promoting to win a House seat? Is it #resist? Is that the winning platform? It's still early but until the Democrats have a platform that will resonate with voters they won't win anything.

First woman to play ‘Doctor Who’ sparks backlash

Nope for me, just NOPE, NOPE, NOPE.

I'm a big Doctor Who fan, but I haven't tuned in to the current season after the first two episodes. The season has been rather uninteresting to me. And now...

"There's really no f---king need. The Dr. is male," one user wrote. "Hate how it's fashionable to make male characters female. It's utter s---."

"Worst decision ever. The doctor who role belongs to a man, wait always has, and always should," another wrote. "The doctor has always been a man for a reason - because it isn't a female role. The have killed the tradition of a classic show."

Another female fan wrote that she was "gutted" that "Doctor Who" had "sold out to the (politically correct) squad."

Of course, those who did not like turning the character into a woman were called "misogynist," but Doctor Who is a time lord, not a time lady. Why not leave the character as it was intended and make another show with a woman as the lead in a sci-fi series? These kinds of social engineering projects don't end well.

Photo of the day:

Jacobs Crawley, of Boerne, Texas, comes off Little Muffin during saddle bronc rodeo finals action at the Calgary Stampede in Calgary, Alberta, Sunday, July 16, 2017. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press via AP)

Other morsels:

Martin Landau, Oscar-winning film and TV actor, dies at 89

George A. Romero, ‘Night of the Living Dead’ director, dies at 77

Sen. Dean Heller's Las Vegas office broken into, police say

Man hangs himself in O’Hare Airport bathroom

Army veteran fired from Home Depot in Texas after trying to stop shoplifters

Anti-Trump protests staged at U.S. Women's Open

Goat yoga arrives in the UK

Chinese scientists clone genetically altered dog, say they’re ready to mass produce ‘super dogs’

Israel to reopen Jerusalem holy site after terror attack

Caitlyn Jenner mulling over Senate run: ‘I have considered it’

Reebok mocks Trump in poster — then it backfires when comedian points out company’s sexist double standard

Former O.J. Simpson attorney says The Juice will likely ace parole hearing, could walk free in October

Teen facing 15 charges in connection to London acid attacks

And that's all I've got, now go beat back the angry mobs!

Performer R. Kelly, who has been in trouble before for having sex with underage girls, is now being accused of holding women against their will in a "cult."

Fox News:

R. Kelly is being accused of holding women in a "cult" where he dictates everything from what they can wear and eat to their sexual behavior and controls any communication they have with the outside world, according to a Buzzfeed report on Monday.

A rep for R. Kelly did not return Fox News' requests for comment on the shocking report.

Buzzfeed claims the R&B singer, who has homes near Chicago and Atlanta, houses up to six women.

Three people who say they used to be a part of Kelly’s entourage -- Cheryl Mack, Kitti Jones, and Asante McGee -- gave information on Kelly’s alleged lifestyle.

Mack told Buzzfeed that Kelly runs every aspect of these women’s lives.

"No. You have to ask for food. You have to ask to go use the bathroom… a master at mind control. ... He is a puppet master,” said Mack.

According to Mack, Jones and McGee, there was a 31-year-old “den mother” who recently vacated Kelly's residence. The women claim there is currently a 25-year-old woman, a 19-year-old model, a 26-year-old aspiring singer and an 18-year-old singer living with the R&B artist.

The mom of one of the women, who was not identified, spoke to Buzzfeed and claimed that her daughter was 19 when she met the now 50-year-old star in 2015. She hoped Kelly would help her daughter’s singing career. Instead, she alleges her daughter moved into the recording artist’s home. Soon after, the mother claims her daughter's contact with her parents dwindled to include only two vague texts -- on Christmas and Mother’s Day.

The mother told Buzzfeed she has not seen her daughter since Dec. 1, 2016.

He's already settled one lawsuit from a woman who claims he had sex with her when she was 15. He was also arrested in 2002 for possession of child pornography stemming from a video showing him having sex with another underage girl. He was miraculously acquitted of all 14 charges.

These women are apparently of legal age, but the urge to control is the same. This guy has a net worth of about $150 million and if things get dicey legally, he will no doubt buy his way to another settlement.

 

Michael, you know, I've been doing health care analysis for some time. I regularly get comments saying that morality insists we must provide everyone good, affordable health care.  Every time, the core of my counterargument is "but the arithmetic doesn't work."

Now you're asserting that even if Amazon and other big retailers make things more affordable for everyone, Amazon should be broken up. You say: "The primary question here is moral: do you want to put your neighbors on the unemployment line?"

Well, it's the same answer: the arithmetic is against you. If you think you can go against arithmetic, check Venezuela.

Any second now, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is expected to make an announcement on the nuclear agreement with Iran, which President Donald Trump has repeatedly called a "bad deal."

Via Investing.com:

Under U.S. law, the State Department must notify Congress every 90 days of Iran's compliance with the 2015 deal. Monday is the deadline, and a senior U.S. official said last week the administration was very likely to say Iran was adhering to the agreement although Trump has reservations about it.

"The secretary of state will have an announcement very shortly on that deal," Spicer told reporters. "I think you all know that the president has made very clear that he thought this was a bad deal, a bad deal for the United States."

Tillerson was expected to certify the deal, albeit with Trump's misgivings -- but rumor has it that a last minute change in policy has been made. Tillerson is presently conferring with the president in the Oval Office and an announcement is imminent.

It appears that the president has been paying attention to the advice of former UN ambassador John Bolton:

See this Security Studies Group exclusive for more.

Michael, sorry but I agree with Paula on this one.  The toothpaste is WAY out of the tube.  Amazon is an amazing service and vastly more convenient than going to the store for most things with a far bigger selection than a hundred malls, as I'm sure you know.

Nevertheless, it is a huge problem.  Again, as I'm sure you know, that problem is that Amazon is only the tip of the proverbial ice berg as far as jobs are concerned.  We're all being phased out by technology.  That includes (ahem) novelists and similar pretentious creative types.  Did you see the ""modern paintings" now created by AI?  (I know, I know, "modern"art... but still.  Oh, computer, paint me a Vermeer - and off you go.)

Of course, no politician is going anywhere near this subject (mass unemployment) because the proverbial can of worms is endless.  Is there a solution?  Do you want the minimum basic income?  Like it or not, it may be inevitable.

Amazon is like "the bomb."  You have to learn to love it.  (And I detest/envy Bezos as much as the next man.  Wouldn't you like to own the WaPo as a loss-leading hobby that costs you perhaps .00002% of your income?)

Michael, count me out if you're arguing for less convenience, fewer choices, and higher prices. I have no desire to go to a mall — ever. The parking is a hassle, they're overrun by teenagers, and yes, the prices are high because the rent they charge for space in those mammoth complexes forces retailers to charge more than many of the products are worth. There are a couple of malls that opened near here in the late '70s/early '80s that were like palaces, complete with massive chandeliers and gold-plated fixtures in the bathrooms. They were nice for a while until someone got the bright idea to put them on the bus line. Suddenly they were packed with teenagers who showed up on weekends to cause trouble — including some full-blown riots. People stopped going there because they were dangerous and the malls were having trouble keeping tenants. Now those two malls lie in ruins (literally). The retail industry is going to have to retool itself it if wants to compete in this new Internet-fueled economy. It's possible that only specialized stores with exceptional customer service will survive — dress shops with fitting rooms, niche boutiques, and small fresh food markets. Or pop-up Amazon pickup locations (staffed by humans). That's part of the ebb and flow of a survival-of-the-fittest free market economy. The worst thing we can do is tell consumers they've got to pay higher prices so that Joe Neighbor's teenager can keep his job at Best Buy. We've become accustomed to the convenience of online shopping with quick delivery. That toothpaste isn't going back into the tube. Now if you'll excuse me, I've got some shopping to do. "Alexa...order toilet paper."

Where there's a will, there's a way:

The significant downturn in the number of illegal border crossers between the U.S. and Mexico is "nothing short of miraculous," National Border Patrol Council President Brandon Judd said on C-SPAN Monday.

"As far as the Trump administration's efforts on immigration, this is something they campaigned heavily on," he said. "At six months, where we are on meeting those promises, we are seeing nothing short of miraculous. If you look at the rhetoric that President Trump has given, it has caused a number of illegal border crossings to go down. We have never seen such a drop that we currently have."

"There's a vibe, there's an energy in the Border Patrol that's never been there before in 20 years that I've been in the patrol," Judd added in a separate Fox News interview.

Sometimes the threat of enforcement is almost as effective as enforcement itself. And when you combine the two...

Is it time to break up Amazon? I, for one, certainly think so. If you're wondering why the parking lot of that big mall near you now is the home of tumbling tumbleweeds, chances are good that its retail outlets have been put out of business by the online giant. Throw in Jeff Bezos' ownership of the Washington Post, his official lobbying mouthpiece in the nation's capital, as well as his proposed acquisition of Whole Foods, and you have something that looks very much like a commercial monopoly with an influential, First Amendment-protected newspaper attached to it.

Fresh off its biggest Prime Day yet, the Whole Foods Market Inc. bid, and a slew of announcements including Amazon Wardrobe, Amazon.com Inc. was the subject of two investor calls last week that raised concerns that it is getting too big. In one case, hedge-fund manager Douglas Kass said government intervention could be imminent.

“I am shorting Amazon today because I have learned that there are currently early discussions and due diligence being considered in the legislative chambers in Washington DC with regard to possible antitrust opposition to Amazon’s business practices, pricing strategy and expansion announcements already made (as well as being aimed at expansion strategies being considered in the future,” wrote Kass, head of Seabreeze Partners Management.

As Amazon AMZN, +0.49%   has grown, so has speculation about which retail category it will rule next. The company already dominates books, the cloud and electronics. And with moves in fashion and grocery, it appears the company has its eye on those sectors next. Its dominance has created major stress for brick-and-mortar retailers, who are suffering badly as they scramble to catch up.

Lower prices, consumer choice, convenience, blah blah blah. The primary question here is moral: do you want to put your neighbors on the unemployment line? Because you could be next.

 

If the Pooh fits...

It looks like this Qatar situation is not going away anytime soon. Over at The Federalist:

While the disagreements stretch back over decades, the current impasse culminated in broken diplomatic relations and severed air, sea, and land links. It represents a far more serious retaliation than that of a few years ago when its neighbors last deemed Qatar to be abrasively paddling in the wrong direction. That dust-up resulted in the Riyadh Agreement in 2013 and additional arrangements a year later. The stern response today is a consequence of Qatar not only breaking those commitments but of stepping well beyond them.

This time around Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Egypt issued 13 demands that Qatar promptly rejected. Their foreign minister, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdul Rahman bin Jassim al-Thani, called the demands and their actions, “clear aggression and an insult.” Predictably, the responding statement the four Arab countries released on July 7 was full of fire and brimstone.

The main points of contention involve Doha’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood, coziness with Iran, financial support to Sunni jihadis in the Syrian civil war, and using its state-funded Al Jazeera network as a regime mouthpiece and propaganda tool aimed at undermining its neighbors.

To get a full sense of how the policy discussion about Qatar has been influenced, head over to The Federalist and read the whole thing.