Monday's HOT MIC

Introducing HOT MIC, PJ Media's new 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. Scroll down or click here to read today's Morning Update.

Hispanic judge rules tough Texas voter ID law discriminates against Hispanics:

A federal judge ruled on Monday that the voter identification law the Texas Legislature passed in 2011 was enacted with the intent to discriminate against black and Hispanic voters, raising the possibility that the state’s election procedures could be put back under federal oversight.

In a long-running case over the legality of one of the toughest voter ID laws in the country, the judge found that the law violated the federal Voting Rights Act. The judge, Nelva Gonzales Ramos of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas, had made a similar ruling in 2014, but after Texas appealed her decision, a federal appellate court instructed her to review the issue once more.

The appeals court — the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, in New Orleans — found that Judge Ramos had relied too heavily on Texas’ history of discriminatory voting measures and other evidence it labeled “infirm” and asked her to reweigh the question of discriminatory intent. In her ruling on Monday, Judge Ramos wrote that the evidence cited by the Fifth Circuit “did not tip the scales” in favor of the state.

Of course not. Because a single federal judge, anywhere, has the power to overrule the laws of a sovereign state, or even a presidential order. Because: because.


What a world.

Follow me on Twitter @dkahanerules

The Fat Midget is now threatening war against these United States. He might want to be careful what he wishes for:

North Korea has vowed to defend itself using a “powerful force of arms” — should the US keep sending ships toward the Korean Peninsula, reports say.

The Hermit Kingdom’s foreign ministry warned early Tuesday local time that it was ready for “war” in the event of further military moves like the one seen Sunday, when a US Navy strike group was sent to the region as a show of force against the communist nation.

North Korean officials, who were quoted by state news agency KCNA, said the act displayed “reckless moves for invading” and was ultimately proof that tensions between President Trump and leader Kim Jong Un had “reached a serious phase,” according to the Agence France-Presse.

“The DPRK is ready to react to any mode of war desired by the US,” a spokesman for North Korea’s foreign ministry said.

And if that mode of war is a sudden, annihilating strike on L'il Kim --possibly including tactical nukes to eradicate their nuclear program that was a gift from the Clinton administration -- so be it.  The North Koreans have this coming since 1950, and now they're going to get it, good and hard.

With the Norks off the table, watch for an instant attitude adjustment in Damascus and Tehran, among other places...

Follow me on Twitter @dkahanerules. Mícheál Breathnach, by the way, is the Irish version of my name. 

The judicial filibuster may now be history -- at least until the Democrats, in the wake of Paul Ryan's titanic cock-up with health care and, soon enough, his bollixing up of tax reform, recapture both the House in 2018 and the Senate in 2020 -- but another completely unconstitutional barnacle (this one on the presidency) lives on in the form of releasing personal income tax returns as a precondition for a Chief Executive run. Why this should be so -- the "tradition" basically extends all the way back to the Nixon administration -- is a mystery, since in all other spheres of our lives as peasant farmers we pay lip service to the sacred "privacy" of the baleful excrescences of the 16th Amendment.

But the Left has its little fixations, so come tax day this week, expect to to enjoy this spectacle in a city near you:

Okay, maybe "enjoy" is not exactly the right word.

In my battle against my fear of heights, I've taken walks on the roof of our three-story house, slid down every slide-friendly banister I came across, and even jumped out of a couple of airplanes.

But there's no way I'd dip a toe into that swimming pool Deb found.

Aw, hell no.

I'm getting butterflies just looking at it.



While we're on the subject of drugs today, the Daily Record (my local paper), reported that a 30-year-old man, in court for drug possession, overdosed in November twice in the same day.

Wayne County is not the kind of community where you would expect to see a heroin epidemic. The unemployment rate is low (3.5 percent), two-parent homes are common, the schools are decent, and violent crime is generally low. Yet drug-related overdose deaths were up 40 percent in 2016 (32) over 2015, attributed mainly to men in their 40s. And according to Wayne County Prosecutor Dan Lutz, around 75 percent of cases that make it to the grand jury are drug-related.

Gov. Kasich, seeking to address the problem of drug overdoses in Ohio, got out his pen and his phone this month and ordered the Ohio State Medical Board to enact limits on prescription opioids.

Ohio doctors, dentists and other health professionals will be able to prescribe only up to seven days of painkillers for adults and five days for kids and teens under new rules announced Thursday.

The limits apply to acute pain patients, with exceptions for cancer, hospice or medication-assisted addiction patients. Prescribers can override the limits if they provide a specific reason in the patient's medical record.

The vast majority of doctors and patients handle prescription pain medications responsibly. But because a small majority don't, the rest of us must now be treated like children—or worse, like criminals—in order to save people who abuse opioids from themselves. All this will do is make it more difficult for people who suffer from severe pain to get the relief they need, while driving drug abusers to find new ways to get high without having to jump through government hoops. As is almost always the case with this kind of effort, law-abiding citizens are the ones who end up paying the price for something that ends up having a minimal effect on the problem it was intended to solve.

Charlie, Oh for crying out loud, now the government nannies want to come after my Imodium? It's bad enough being treated like a criminal every time I need to stock up on Sudafed for the family. Now you're telling me I'm going to have to explain my IBS to my privacy-averse local pharmacist and provide him with...what...a fecal sample in addition to a lock of my hair and fingerprints? Utterly ridiculous. How about this? Word on the street is that people are getting high on kale and soy milk. Go focus on that shiny thing for a while and leave my Imodium alone.

NEWS: On Friday, PJM reported about the observe-and-report mission conducted with the Syrian Democratic Forces by a top aide to  Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joe Dunford. Army Command Sgt. Maj. John Wayne Troxell found the SDF -- an anti-ISIS, anti-Qaeda, anti-Assad coalition composed of more than 50,000 fighters, female and male commanders, Arabs, Assyrian Christians, Kurds, and other minority ethnic groups such as Circassians and Armenians -- to be "some of the best partnered forces" that U.S. special ops "have ever been with."

Since launching the Wrath of Euphrates operation to retake ISIS' capital, Raqqa, at the beginning of November, the SDF has liberated more than 5,000 square miles of territory from the terror group. They've now encircled Tabqa, a strategic city at a dammed section on the Euphrates about 35 miles west of Raqqa. The Tabqa operation is on its 22nd day, and the SDF keeps advancing despite ISIS fighting back with heavy weapons; today's clashes focused on a main road leading to the city. And even more progress today as the SDF took control of Ayed Kebir, a village less than two miles south of Tabqa.

The SDF: Kill ISIS, dance, repeat...