Gestapo in America? “It Couldn’t Happen Here!”

But it did.

I really do need help here as, for the life of me, I simply cannot see the difference between the early morning raid of Mueller’s enforcers in which the picked the lock (!– let that sink in for a moment) at Paul Manafort’s home, then stood over the “suspect” and his wife holding guns on them (am I overstating the similarity of scenes straight out of the late ’30s?) in bed, as more fuily described in an excellent piece by Andrew C. McCarthy in the National Review this morning:

“It was not enough to get a search warrant to ransack the Virginia home of Paul Manafort, even as the former Trump campaign chairman was cooperating with congressional investigators. Mueller’s bad-asses persuaded a judge to give them permission to pick the door lock. That way, they could break into the premises in the wee hours, while Manafort and his wife were in bed sleeping. They proceeded to secure the premises — of a man they are reportedly investigating for tax and financial crimes, not gang murders and Mafia hits — by drawing their guns on the stunned couple, apparently to check their pajamas for weapons.”

While I do not profess to have a scintilla of expertise or experience in Federal Criminal Law, McCarthy certainly does, and I have found his writings to be very measured, especially about James Comey, who he considered to be a personal friend from their days in the U.S. Attorney’s office in New York City. And, drawing upon that experience, he details the legal reasons this kind of raid was so outrageous, aside from the very troubling, to put it most euphemistically, image it presents of goons in black uniforms going about the gory business of frightening people into telling them what they want to hear–anything will do:

Mueller’s probe more resembles an empire, with 17 prosecutors retained on the public dime. So . . . what exactly is the crime of the century that requires five times the number of lawyers the Justice Department customarily assigns to crimes of the century? No one can say. The growing firm is clearly scorching the earth, scrutinizing over a decade of Manafort’s shady business dealings, determined to pluck out some white-collar felony or another that they can use to squeeze him.

You are forgiven if you can recall only vaguely that supposition about Trump-campaign collusion in Russian espionage against the 2016 election was the actual explanation for Mueller’s appointment as special counsel. To the extent there was any explanation, that is. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, a Trump appointee, did not comply with the regulations requiring a description of the crimes Trump’s Justice Department is too conflicted to investigate, purportedly necessitating a quasi-independent special counsel.

The way it’s supposed to work, the Justice Department learns of a crime, so it assigns a prosecutor. To the contrary, this Justice Department assigned a prosecutor — make that: 17 hyper-aggressive prosecutors — and unleashed them to hunt for whatever crime they could find.

If you sense that this cuts against the presumption of innocence, you’re onto something. Because of that presumption, coupled with such other constitutional rights as the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable police searches, prosecutors are supposed to be measured in the use of their awesome powers, to employ only as much compulsion as seems appropriate under the circumstances. You don’t get a search warrant when a subpoena will do; if you have to get a warrant, you don’t do a covert pre-dawn entry when ringing the bell in the daytime will easily get you in the door.

In various places, our law reflects this common sense. For example, in applying for a wiretap authorization, besides describing the precise crime it suspects, the Justice Department must satisfy the judge that less intrusive techniques for obtaining evidence of similar quality have been attempted, or would be certain to fail if tried. (See section 2518(b) and (c) of the federal penal code.) The point is to instruct investigators that they must exercise restraint. The prosecutorial privilege to act “under color of law” comes with the duty to respect the rights the law guarantees.

Law enforcement is hard and sometimes dangerous work. Thus, there is leeway for officials to make errors in judgment. Without that leeway, they would be too paralyzed to do their jobs, and there would be no rule of law. But when prosecutors and investigators go way overboard just because they can, it is not law enforcement. It is abuse of law-enforcement power in order to intimidate.

There is no other way to interpret the brass-knuckles treatment of Manafort, a subject in a non-violent-crime investigation who is represented by counsel and was cooperating with Congress at the time Mueller’s Gang of 17 chose to break into his home. Did they really think they couldn’t have gotten the stuff they carted out of Manafort’s residence by calling up his well-regarded lawyers and asking for it? After he had already surrendered 300 pages of documents to investigative committees?”

So, tell me, other than the fact that Mueller’s goons did not simply fire bullets into the brains of Mr. and Mrs. Manafort, what, exactly is the difference between what happened in that home in the pre-dawn quiet hours in a residential neighborhood in Virginia, and what was happening all over Germany during the horrible times of Krystallnacht and other atrocities?

This is so dangerous and alarming to the future of our freedoms and liberties that I intend to send the McCarthy piece to my Senators and Congressman, although the most I can hope for from my Senators, one in particular, he of Graham-Cassidy fame, is a form letter about rice acreage allotments for the coming year.

Is it just me, being an alarmist, and seeing this entire “Special” Counsel development as an in-your-face charade masking an actual Coup of our Government?

The Poverty Palace That Hate Built

Poverty Palace

Southern Poverty (?) Law Center, Montgomery, Alabama

The Southern Poverty Law Center touts itself, according to a recent article,

“as a humble little non-profit doing the people’s work of identifying and eradicating racism. They’d have us believe they’re just an unassuming little band of warriors carrying out their mission from what they surely see as Racism Central … the deep South. In this case, Alabama.”

The media, especially CNN of late, swallows its grossly inaccurate propaganda, for that’s exactly what it is, hook, line and sinker, to the serious detriment of those it places on its “hate map” because it does not agree with their political and/or ideological views. However, the recent disclosures of its transfers of millions of dollars to offshore accounts in the Cayman Islands and Bermuda, highly unusual, to put it most charitably (pun intended), for a 501 (c) (3) “non”-profit, are causing many to take a closer look at this obscenely wealthy hate machine.  This was vividly illustrated by the excellent reportage of Joe  Schoffstall  of the Washington Beacon in one of several recent articles shining the bright light of sunshine on the true nature of this fundraising hatemonger.

It must be noted, however, that political commentators and analysts have been sounding the alarm for years, as shown by deeply researched articles going back to 2010, here, 2013, here, and several excellent and carefully documented studies over the past few months, here, here and here.

A brief scan of the titles of recent articles makes it clear that more and more light is being shed on this reckless slander machine, such as “Our Leading Hate Group”, “Hate Group hits Jackpot”, “The Hatemongers at the Southern Poverty Law Center are even worse than you think”, “Getting Rich on Poverty Law”, “Trust Not the Southern Poverty Law Center” and “A Demagogic Bully”, just to name a few.

One of the best brief summaries of the breadth and scope of the hateful, if I may be permitted to the use of that word to describe such an organization, slander and careless besmirching of names and reputations by this “Poverty” law group (by the way, when did that become a recognized sub-specialty in the law?) is found in a letter recently sent to the media by representatives of conservative and traditional values advocacy organizations. This letter urged the media to cease “using the SPLC’s data and its various lists and maps in your reporting.”, after setting out a great deal of very persuasive evidence to support their characterization of the SPLC as a “a discredited, left-wing, political activist organization that seeks to silence its political opponents with a “hate group” label of its own invention and application that is not only false and defamatory, but that also endangers the lives of those targeted with it.” The letter recounted the domestic terrorist attack by a deranged person on the Washington, D.C. office of the Family Research Council in 2012 in which he badly wounded the building manager who stopped him from engaging in a killing spree. The danger of the reckless slander spewed by the SPLC was illustrated by the evidence in the Federal criminal case record:

“That day, Corkins carried both the means to carry out this act of terrorism and a list of additional targets. The U.S. Attorney stated in federal court that Corkins targeted FRC and the additional targets by using the SPLC website’s “Hate Map.” On February 6, 2013, Corkins pleaded guilty to three felonies, and became the first person convicted of violating the District of Columbia’s Anti-Terrorism Act of 2002.”

The letter also cited this evidence from the more recent case of Bernie Moore supporter James Hodgkinson, who set out to shoot as many Republican members of Congress as possible, almost killing Hose Whip Steve Scalise:

“More recently, James Hodgkinson, the attempted political assassin of House Whip, Rep. Steve Scalise and many other Republican members of the U.S. House and Senate, was discovered by the public to have “liked” the SPLC on Facebook. Paul Bedard, Washington Examiner, “Support for Southern Poverty Law Center Links Scalise, Family Research Council Shooters” (June 14, 2017). Scalise had for years been the subject of the SPLC’s vitriol. Tyler O’Neil, PJ Media, “CNN Goes Full ‘Fake News’” (Aug. 18, 2017) (https://pjmedia.com/trending/2017/08/18/cnn-adopts-far-left-hate-list-from-terror-linked- organization/).”

Their “hate net” reaches far and wide, as vividly illustrated in a couple of recent examples, including attacking Presidential candidate and former neurosurgeon of universal renown, Dr. Ben Carson because of his biblical views:

“Ben Carson had the unfortunate distinction of making the SPLC’s list in 2014, though the criticisms from the public were so vehement that the SPLC was pressured into removing him. Fox News staff article, “Southern Poverty Law Center Apologizes to Ben Carson, Takes Him off ‘Extremist’ List” (Feb. 12, 2015) (http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2015/02/12/southern-poverty-law-center-apologizes-to-ben-carson- takes-him-off-extremist.html).”

Recently, the SPLC made the apparently rare mistake of casting their net of hate over an organization which decided to fight back:

“Fort Lauderdale, FL: Dr. Frank Wright, President & Chief Executive Officer at D. James Kennedy Ministries (DJKM), announced that DJKM filed suit today in the United States District Court against the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).”

 

“The lawsuit alleges, among other things, that the SPLC illegally trafficked in false and misleading descriptions of the services offered by DJKM and committed defamation against DJKM arising from the publication and distribution of false information that libels the ministry’s reputation and subjects the ministry to disgrace, ridicule, odium, and contempt in the estimation of the public.”

 

“In a statement released today, Dr. Wright said: “We embarked today on a journey to right a terrible wrong. Those who knowingly label Christian ministries as ‘hate’ groups, solely for subscribing to the historic Christian faith, are either woefully uninformed or willfully deceitful. In the case of the Southern Poverty Law Center, our lawsuit alleges the latter.”

 

“Wright went on to say: “These false and illegal characterizations have a chilling effect on the free exercise of religion and on religious free speech for all people of faith. After having given the SPLC an opportunity to retract, we have undertaken this legal action, seeking a trial by a jury of our peers, to preserve our own rights under the law and to defend the religious free speech rights of all Americans.”

But, while it has committed many outrages with its “hate maps”, “hate lists”, and various other scaremongering tactics, the slander which has raised the most ire recently has been the inclusion of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the details of which are outlined in the letter referenced above:

“The SPLC attacked numerous critics of radical Islam in one of its recent publications, “A Journalist’s Manual: Field Guide to Anti-Muslim Extremists,” but the seventh profile was particularly disturbing. In it, the SPLC slandered human rights activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a woman who has experienced the violent and misogynistic side of Islam first-hand. The first sentence of the two-page section defaming her stated, “Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a Somali-born activist who says she endured female genital mutilation and fled civil wars and an arranged marriage in Africa.”

Ms. Ali answered this sleaze attack in an op-ed in the New York Times, entitled “Why Is the Southern Poverty Law Center Targeting Liberals?”. After noting the millions of dollars donated by the CEO of Apple, celebrity George Clooney and J.P. Morgan Chase Bank (currently our bank; perhaps not much longer), she said:

“I am a black woman, a feminist and a former Muslim who has consistently opposed political violence. The price for expressing my beliefs has been high: I must travel with armed security at all times. My friend and collaborator Theo van Gogh was murdered in broad daylight.

Yet the S.P.L.C. has the audacity to label me an “extremist,” including my name in a “Field Guide to Anti-Muslim Extremists” that it published on its website last October.

In that guide, the S.P.L.C. claims that I am a “propagandist far outside the political mainstream” and warns journalists to avoid my “damaging misinformation.” These groundless smears are deeply offensive, as I have dedicated much of my adult life to calling out the true extremists: organizations such as Al Qaeda and ISIS. Yet you will look in vain for the S.P.L.C.’s “Field Guide to Muslim Extremists.” No such list exists.

That’s a shame, because Islamic extremism — a movement that aims to impose a caliphate and Sharia law by violent means — is as toxic as white supremacy. In the past two decades, it has certainly been responsible for many more deaths.

Like neo-Nazis, Islamic extremists despise liberalism. They deny the equality of the sexes, justify wife-beating and, in some cases, even the enslavement of female unbelievers. The Islamic State and groups like it regularly murder gay people in the most heinous ways. Islamic extremists are also virulently anti-Semitic, like the Nazis before them. And like today’s American Nazis, they brandish swastikas, chant slurs and peddle conspiracy theories.”

Ms. Ali closed her op-ed with a most interesting question, which serves as a perfect segue into a final discussion of some explosive revelations recently about the “unusual” financial transactions of this “non”-profit “charitable organization:

“Cui bono? That question is nearly always the right one to ask of organizations like the S.P.L.C. Who really benefits from their activities? Repeatedly, and for more than a decade, journalists at publications ranging from Harper’s to Politico to The Nation to The Weekly Standard have pointed out that the center’s founders seem more interested in profiting off the anxieties and white guilt of Northern liberals than in upholding the civil rights of poor Southerners, or anyone else. There’s a less cynical explanation, though, which is that liberals are deeply and increasingly uncomfortable with calling out Islamic extremism for fear of being smeared as “Islamophobic,” or worse.”

Cui bono, indeed! According to several meticulously reported exposés in the past few weeks, examination of financial records of this fundraising machine shows that it reports over $69 Million Dollars of “non-U.S. equity funds” among the assets comprising the total endowment fund of almost $320 Million Dollars. In other words, it has $69 Million Dollars in offshore banks. Once again, that total asset figure – for a “non”-profit, tax-exempt charitable organization—is $320 Million Dollars!

A reporter with the Washington Free Beacon, Joe Schoffstall, examined many records of this “charity” and observed:

The nonprofit pushed millions more into offshore funds at the beginning of 2015.

On March 1, 2015, SPLC sent $2,200,000 to an entity incorporated in Canana Bay, Cayman Islands, according to Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) records and run by a firm based in Greenwich, Ct. Another $2,200,000 cash transfer was made on the same day to another fund whose business is located at the same address as the previous fund in the Cayman Islands, according to SEC records.

Tax experts contacted by the reporter expressed serious doubts about the ethics, if not the legality, of these transfers:

“Tax experts expressed confusion when being told of the transfer.

“I’ve never known a US-based nonprofit dealing in human rights or social services to have any foreign bank accounts,” said Amy Sterling Casil, CEO of Pacific Human Capital, a California-based nonprofit consulting firm. “My impression based on prior interactions is that they have a small, modestly paid staff, and were regarded by most in the industry as frugal and reliable. I am stunned to learn of transfers of millions to offshore bank accounts. It is a huge red flag and would have been completely unacceptable to any wealthy, responsible, experienced board member who was committed to a charitable mission who I ever worked with.”

 

“It is unethical for any US-based charity to invest large sums of money overseas,” said Casil. “I know of no legitimate reason for any US-based nonprofit to put money in overseas, unregulated bank accounts.”

 

“It seems extremely unusual for a ‘501(c)(3)’ concentrating upon reducing poverty in the American South to have multiple bank accounts in tax haven nations,” Charles Ortel, a former Wall Street analyst and financial advisor who helped uncover a 2009 financial scandal at General Electric, told the Free Beacon.”

 

In my view, the most telling comment about these “questionable”, to put it mildly, transfers was made by a representative of one of the targets of SPLC’s hate net:

“I’ve never heard of a group with ‘Poverty’ in its name that has so much money,” said Kerri Kupec of the Alliance for Defending Freedom, an organization that has been on the receiving end of SPLC’s well-funded smear campaign. “On other hand, considering who we are talking about, it comes as no surprise. Whether it’s shady money transfers or being discredited for decades by investigative journalists and charity watchdogs as a ‘direct mail scam,’ the Southern Poverty Law Center lost its way a long time ago.”

The best way to sum up the extreme and hateful bile this organization spews so recklessly upon with whom it disagrees and the potential damage it can do to the lives of is to quote from a speech given by Israel’s Ambassador to the United States to a meeting of one of its targets. Speaking of the shock of learning that SPLC had placed Ayaan Hirsi Ali on one of its hate lists, he had this to say:

But the biggest shock of all came when I saw a name on that [SPLC] list of someone I regard as a hero – Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

For those of you who do not know Ayaan, she was the Dutch parliamentarian who in 2004 produced a film with Theo Van Gogh called Submission, which focused on the oppression of women in the Muslim world.

Because of that film, Van Gogh was assassinated by a fanatic Muslim and Ayaan was forced into hiding. She has had to live with death threats and under constant protection ever since.

Yet rather than cower in anonymity, Ayaan writes books, publishes articles, makes speeches and fights for her ideas – in particular, the need for sweeping reform in the Muslim world.

Today, Ayaan Hirsi Ali is one of the world’s great champions of freedom, pluralism and tolerance.

And every self-respecting group that claims to value any of those things should be defending her not defaming her.

Yet in an Orwellian inversion of reality, a woman whose life is threatened every day by extremist Muslims is labeled by the SPLC an anti-Muslim extremist.

Have those who put Ayaan on that list no shame? Have they no decency?

The SPLC and others who asked me not to come here tonight claim to support free and open debate. But in reality, they seem to want to stifle debate….

Unfortunately, some have amended that famous Voltairian dictum to be “I hate what you say and I will never defend your right to say it.”

I will defame you as an extremist. I will label you a racist and a bigot. I will put you on the blackest of lists that should be reserved for Nazis, for the Klan, and for the true enemies of mankind.

Well, ladies and gentlemen, I don’t stand with the defamers and the blacklisters. I stand with Ayaan Hirsi Ali. We all should stand with Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

For if we do not stand with her, then the values she champions – the same values we cherish – will be under threat and the dangers we face will only grow.

We must not let the defamers and blacklisters succeed….

While I devoutly wish I could answer the Ambassador in another way, the fact is that this organization has proven repeatedly that it has no shame, and it has no decency. The only way I see to stop this sleaze machine would be for far-leftist sources of big money to read such heartfelt pleas as that of the Ambassador and his friend Ms Ali’s op-ed so they can realize what a truly dangerous propaganda machine the SPLC really is.

However, for those of us who have taken the time and effort to inform ourselves, it is certainly true to say: “We must not let the defamers and blacklisters succeed”!

Unity? A Respectful Dissent.

I really, really, really do want all this unity I’ve been hearing about to happen and I do so wish I could actually get my hopes up that such a miracle –and that’s what it would amount to in today’s vile and mean atmosphere — could actually happen. I know many of us also harbor that hope, as evidenced by the comment of one of the members who characterized Paul Ryan’s speech about an “attack on one of us is an attack on all of us” as one of the great speeches of all time. While it was a nice speech and quite typical of the Speaker who says many “nice things”, as much as I would dearly like to believe all this kumbaya attitude will continue, I find myself in agreement with the brilliant commentator Mark Steyn, who stated, on the Tucker Carlson show last night:

“Yes, I think so,” said Steyn. “If you have people like the Southern Poverty Law [Center], which has become fabulously wealthy by labeling everyone they disagree with as a hate group, if you keep calling everybody a hater, and in fact, if your organization calls people haters, you are the hater. I would like to disagree with the tone of what we have heard today, including in the last hour for Martha MacCallum and Brit Hume, when they were talking about unity and will this unity last?”

“Obviously, the unity won’t last because ultimately, Rand Paul has very little that unites him with Bernie Sanders. We don’t actually need unity. We need robust, civilized disunity — people honestly recognizing that they disagree with each other on health care, on immigration, on Islam, on transgender bathrooms, and a bazillion other things, but that doesn’t make the other person a hater. Simply put, the left has to be willing to actually engage in debate with people that disagree with them.”

As if to put an exclamation point on this kind of argument, right on cue appears the truly vile Minority “Leader” Nancy Pelosi, who promptly blamed the action of an obviously deranged person of the far left on–you guessed it! — the President and the Republicans’ Politics of Personal Destruction!

“It didn’t used to be this way,” Pelosi said. “Somewhere in the 1990’s Republicans decided on the politics of personal destruction as they went after the Clintons and that is what started and it has continued.”

“Again, I feel as if we’re having a family moment that is very, very serious and we’re talking about things that we can say, the discussion — save the discussion for another day,” Pelosi continued, before immediately attacking Trump.

“When the president says ‘I can shoot somebody on Fifth Avenue and nobody would care’, when you have somebody say ‘beat them up and I’ll pay their legal fees’, when you have all the assaults that are made on Hillary Clinton, for them to be so sanctimonious is something that I really am almost sad that I had to go down this path with you because I don’t think it’s appropriate for us to have the fullest discussion of it. It will be for another day.”

Unity? This is unity? With this kind of venomous language from one of the “Leaders” of our Government, where is the basis for hope that there will be a basis for some kind of amicable cooperation between the two parties?

And, on a personal note, as a fellow Louisianian, we fellow Cajuns are praying for a full recovery of Congressman Scalise and all of those injured in this grotesque attack, and no one would be more happy to be wrong about the outlook than I. But I just don’t see it happening any time soon, what with the kind of rote response of the Pelosis of the Government, together with, right on cue, as well, another major media report based on nothing but anonymous sources to the effect that the new Special Counsel is using his many, many, many new and hungry Hillary and Obama supporters to determine if the expression of a “hope” amounts to obstruction of justice. This being the one and the same Special Counsel who is not only one of James Comey’s closest personal friends but is also (try to find this in the Mainstream Media) the Godfather of one of his children and who, if there was a shred of common sense left in Washington, should be removed on the basis of a glaring conflict of interest. Alas, there does not seem to be any such quality around and the Special Counsel machine will just continue to go clunking down the road until it finds something, ANYthing, to pin on SOMEone! Just ask Mr. Libby about out-of-control machines just like this one.

Unity! Isn’t it just lovely? What a lovely thing to behold! ….. oh–must have dozed off there for a minute…have to get back to the real world! Too bad, really. Wish I could stay in that dream world just a little longer!

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The Heartbreaking Spectacle of a City’s Descent Into Madness

 

591f924e1cd0a.imageThis is what happens when madness and hysteria engulf an entire City. Mayor Landrieu has now overseen the removal of four statues of significant historical significance which he and his Democrat confreres deemed “offensive” to those ultra-sensitive people who make up their base. As a lifelong resident of Louisiana, born in and having resided for a time in New Orleans, this, quite simply, and not to be too mawkish about it, breaks my heart. However, we can be consoled by the Mayor’s triumphant announcement after this last remaining vestige of hurtful history has come down that “The Civil War is now over!” The hubris represented by those actions and that pronouncement is staggering.

Special Prosecutors as far as the eye can see!

Greg, my bro-in-law, has suggested that the Republicans should agree to the appointment of a Special Prosecutor in the case of the non-crime, at least as far as we know as of this date, of Trump colluding with Russia, in exchange for their agreement to appoint Special Prosecutors for the thousands of federal crimes committed by Madame Secretary for which Comey gave her a pass; the federal crimes which may have been committed by Susan Rice and Sally Yates which resulted in destroying the reputation of a man who served his country with great honor, General Mike Flynn; the crimes which the former Defense Dept. official under Obama, Evelyn N. Farkas, told everyone about on national TV recently; the innumerable crimes committed by the said Obama himself; the crimes committed by Brennan, Clapper, Rhodes, and their cadre of bottom feeders at the NSA, etc.;the crime committed by B.J. Clinton and “Blandly Sinister” (thanks to Andrew Klavan!) Former (Hallelujah!) Attorney General Lynch –actual Obstruction of Justice as opposed to all this make believe foolishness we’ve been hearing about lately- when they met on the tarmac at Phoenix and she talked with him about “their” grandchildren (she has none) at a time he was a very likely target of a criminal investigation by a department under the supervision of—you guessed it!—none other than “Blandly Sinister” herself, and the list goes on and on and on. Fair is fair, right? That way, we would be guaranteed that what a friend recently said really will come true—these things will assume a life of their own and will never, never, never end, and, almost certainly, NOone will ever go to jail. Another day, another complete fabrication brought to you by those shameless frauds who make up what used to be an honorable profession, as today’s headline—in the Wall Street Journal, not long ago, the sole remaining paragon of journalistic integrity—clearly illustrates :“Trump Asked Comey to Drop Probe”. This headline is based on a portion of a memorandum no reporter has actually seen or physically examined, but is reported to actually exist by [ ] (left blank because that’s exactly how much we know about the person or persons who may or may not have seen whatever in the hell “it” is! However, despite the fact that no one even knows whether “it” actually exists, Sen. Diane Feinstein has deemed herself “shocked, shocked” (sound familiar?) at “its” “existence” and Sen. Susan Collins is reportedly “floored” by the news of this thus-far totally unproven “document”. Congressman Adam “Shifty” Schiff has declared that this “allegation” is further proof “that the president may have engaged in some interference or obstruction of the investigation.” Astonishingly, some of these mania-afflicted people are reported to have actual law degrees, but will still say, with a straight face (probably an oxymoron, but that’s for another day) that an allegation is “proof” of anything! God Bless America! Please!

“Ode to Civil Discourse” — A Hope for Its Return –A Tribute to a Citizen Who Exemplifies That Tradition

BN-SB210_FREEDO_8H_20170210084623

James A. George

We all agree that the only way a participatory democracy can possibly work is, not to be too obvious about it, for its citizens to be active participants in its processes, institutions and debates.

While I would be interested in the experiences of others, I can only go on the basis of my own observations of the stark contrast between the number of citizens who loudly proclaim their opinions in the comfy confines of dinner parties and similar social gatherings and the comparatively, almost-non-existent numbers who actually attend meetings and actually go to the podium and actually express their views, whether “our betters” like them or not.

The right to speak out against perceived wrongs committed by those in authority is one of our most cherished rights, and the Founders regarded it as such a basic tenet of freedom that they enshrined it in the Bill of Rights:

“Congress shall make no law….abridging…the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States

The iconic illustration of that right was rendered by the legendary artist Norman Rockwell, as a part of his Four Freedoms paintings, inspired by President Roosevelt’s State of the Union Speech in 1941. The President outlined in that speech what he termed the “four essential freedoms: freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom from want, freedom from fear.

In a poignant tribute to the painting which appeared in a recent issue of the Wall Street Journal, entitled Ode to Civil Discourse, the author, Bob Greene, noted several features which may not occur to an artist in current times:

If you’ve ever seen the painting, you know what I mean. The setting is a town meeting. One man, in work clothes, has risen from the audience to speak. There is nervousness, and courage, in his eyes; Rockwell makes it evident that the man is likely not accustomed to talking in public. Other citizens of the town, the men in coats and ties, are in the seats around him. Their eyes are focused upward, toward him. They are hearing him out; they are patiently letting him have his say.

His eyes, their eyes…that is the power of the painting. We, of course, have no idea what is on the man’s mind, or whether the other townspeople agree with him or adamantly oppose him. But as he talks they are listening, giving him a chance. They know that their own turn, if they want it, will come. For now, they owe him their full and polite attention.

The author notes, with a deep sadness I share, against the backdrop of the near-collapse of societal norms of civility we are now witnessing, that the “full and polite attention” they are giving him is such a simple concept, but one “that sometimes seems to be disappearing in this era when angry words hurtle past each other like poison-tipped arrows.”

Nothing could more vividly illustrate the “mad dog” approach to modern speech than a photo I saw recently of a young man, apparently totally out of control, pointing his finger and screaming at our United States Senator, Bill Cassidy, and one of those (many!) –to use the media’s favorite euphemism—“raucous” Town Hall meetings.

radical

If one wants a graphic illustration of how far this Nation has fallen, place the Rockwell painting side-by-side with the picture of this pathetic little – in so many ways- radical bleating and screaming and pointing at a United States Senator whose only crime is, so far as we know, to hold views different from those of the little radical.  Two different pictures; two different worlds.

I write all of this as something in the nature of a backdrop for a tribute to a friend and respected colleague here in our community (let’s call him John, which works out well as his name is John) who has demonstrated such qualities of a true citizen, in speaking out against what he saw as wrong-headed and wasteful spending habits that he could be the model for the Rockwell painting. In fact, I have often told him that it has occurred to me that he is similar to the speaker in that painting even in his mode of dress!

We initially met on the occasion of my very first visit to a meeting of one of our public bodies; the reason I went to this meeting was that I had heard that some of the members of this particular Board were quite “high-handed” and autocratic toward any member of the public who had the temerity to express disagreement with their decisions.

So I, a retired trial lawyer with some experience with autocratic abuses of public trust, decided to go have a look for myself. What I saw, shortly after entering the Chamber (Star? I report, you decide.) was nothing less than astonishing, especially for someone who had a deep and abiding love for, and dedication to, the freedoms with which we have been gifted by our Founding Fathers. The friend of whom I write today went to the podium and got through a few sentences when the Chairperson told him, in effect, to “shut up and sit down”; when he persisted, as was his right as an American citizen, the Chair called upon a Deputy Sheriff with a Glock on his hip to remove him from the room. That was all I needed to see to affirm that this truly was out-of-control autocracy in action and, as I related later to a friend, “the lawyer kicked in” and in a few seconds I was at the podium reminding these petty little “Royals” of the Bill of Rights to the Constitution. At that point, I was also ordered to “shut up and sit down”, which order, of course, just made me more determined to continue speaking. In a matter of seconds, I felt the “long arm of the law” (quite literally!) on my shoulder, and I was also escorted out of the “Chamber”.

My friend John was not in the least intimidated by these Gestapo tactics, however, and returned almost every month to voice his objections, usually deeply researched and well founded, to their profligate spending and abuses of their office. I was privileged to attend some of those meetings with him and learned valuable lessons about both the value and the pain which goes with “petition[ing] the Government for a redress of grievances.”

The author of the Journal article posits a few thoughts about how Mister Citizen in the portrait might be received today:

That man standing up in “Freedom of Speech”—what would be his fate today, in a world where the town meeting is not limited to any single town, where the meeting never stops, never sleeps, where the attendees are routinely invisible and full of casual rage? Would the man be granted a courteous hearing? Or, depending on the point he was hoping to make, would he be hooted down, hounded and laughed at by an audience he couldn’t see? Would he be silenced by strangers?

It is because I mourn the loss of “reverence in all those eyes” and the fact that I also feel a deep “sanctity in the act of saying it” that I write of my friend and Mister Citizen in the painting and all of those remaining citizens who still stand up and look “the betters” in the eye. They, for the most part, in my experience, seek their “redress of grievances” with reason, logic, respect, dignity, courtesy and civility, and I pray that they, and not the “screamer” at the Senator’s Town Hall or the hoodlums at Middlebury or Berkeley, will represent the future of public discourse in the future.

Five Judges on the Ninth Circuit Deliver Exemplary Dissent From “Contrived Comedy of Errors” in First Decision on Travel BanEdit

On March 15, five Judges of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal delivered what Professor Jonathon Turley termed a “vociferous dissent” which has received, as he noted, “a surprising lack of media attention…”. Upon discovering Prof. Turley’s article, and a couple of others in the same vein, I conducted my own search and while not claiming even the slightest degree of skill in electronic searches, I could find not a single word of this remarkable decision in the New York Times, although, to my surprise, it was reported in both the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times.

The cited article notes the following salient points about the initial opinion while also noting the unusually direct language used by the dissenting Judges, termed by another commentator as “ruthless”, which gives one at least some hope that common (and legal!) sense may ultimately prevail in what another writer has termed this “contrived comedy of errors”:

“The dissenting judges objected that there is an “obligation to correct” the “manifest” errors of the panel. It called those errors “fundamental” and even questioned the manner in which the panel reached its decision with a telephonic oral argument. The dissent raised many of the problems that various commentators have raised, including myself. The lack of consideration to opposing case law, failure to address the statutory authority given to the President, and the sweeping dismissal of executive authority are obvious flaws. (These problems are also apparent in the ruling in Hawaii, though it was based on establishment rather the due process grounds) The dissenting judges refer to the “clear misstatement of law” in the upholding of the district court. so bad it compelled “vacating” an opinion usually mooted by a dismissed case.”

The Judges also made the point, thought to be long-settled before Judge Robart issued the first ruling in this case, that “so long as there is one facially legitimate and bona fide reason for the President’s actions, our inquiry is at an end.”

Prof. Turley sums up the heart of the reason this opinion offers at least some glimmer of optimism that the Courts will finally get back to basics and follow established legal principles instead of concentrating on what the President said on the campaign trail as opposed to what appears “within the four corners of the document”, the analysis we were taught in Law School and which has been the accepted standard ever since, as follows:

“The opinion has all of the legal analysis that is so conspicuously absent in the panel decision, which dismissed or ignored countervailing case law of the Supreme Court and even the Ninth Circuit. … “

We heard more than most of us ever wanted to hear about “hope and change” for the past 8 years– this opinion is definitely my version of “hope” in the sense that if Justice Gorsuch is on the bench by the time these ill-considered cases reach the High Court, it is almost impossible to imagine that they could possibly stand. That is my fervent hope. Thus, I strongly agree with Professor Yoo’s analysis: “I find it hard to believe that the Supreme Court would allow the judiciary to exercise such intrusive review into the motives of the head of a co-equal branch of government.”

 

True Story: A Neighbor Saw My “Make America Great Again” Flag–And Cried!

This little story definitely falls under the heading of “you can’t make this stuff up!”!

I am very proud of my flagpole in my front yard and have proudly flown “Old Glory” for many years. I try hard to keep it replaced when our frequent South Louisiana storms “have their way with” them and I try hard to observe all the rules with regard to the proper care of the American flag.

I was very happy recently to see an ad for a beautiful red flag with large white lettering reading “Make America Great Again” and immediately ordered it to fly with my brand new American flag, without ever giving a thought to the fact that someone might be so offended by the mere sight of the flag that they would voice loud complaints about it. Therefore, I was delighted when the flag came in and I immediately ran it up the flagpole to take its place of honor right below my spanking new American flag.

Shortly thereafter, I got a call from a neighbor and long-time friend, who explained that he was simply doing his duty as grievance Chair of the Homeowners’ Association in conveying to me a complaint he had received from a neighbor, who told him that as they were from Mexico the mere sight of the flag so upset them that they cried for quite some time after seeing it. My friend made it clear that he was doing his duty, but not necessarily in an enthusiastic way, and in the course of the conversation, he said words to the effect “I must tell you, I really like that flag!” He asked for my response and I asked whether he wanted the dignified response or the one I would really like to give, and he said as he had known me for many years he could probably guess what the “undignified” response would be! So, I responded that it would take a final order of a Court of competent jurisdiction ordering me to take down the flag before it would move one inch; I have had no further complaints. As a matter of fact, another neighbor called me asking for information as to where he could get one for his own flagpole!

If someone tries to tell me there is no such thing as “Trump Derangement Syndrome” I have a true story ready for them; it is real and it is really quite chilling to actually know someone to whom the mere sight of his campaign slogan on a piece of cloth causes them physical upset!

Although if I were truly fair about it, I would have to admit that when I saw a pink knit cap recently at a soccer match, commonly identified by a feline reference and which has become something of an icon for women in The Resistance, if that’s what it’s called this week, I did feel some kind of emotion, mostly sadness for the rather pathetic specimen who was wearing it.

But I did not cry. And if I had, I would never, ever, ever admit it to one living soul!

 

 

A “Muslim Ban”? Only to those too lazy to read the Executive Order itself.

My legal training and education, and many decades of practicing trial law, finally led me to approach the hysterical chorus of claims that the President’s recent Executive Order was a “Muslim ban” in what really does appear lately to be “the old-fashioned way”—to read and study Judge Robarts’s opinion, to read and study the order itself and to listen to (most of) the appellate arguments. I came away from that experience with not only a clear understanding of what the Order actually says (and, perhaps more importantly, what it does not say), but also an abiding conviction that very few of the baying bloodhounds of the press have bothered to read the Executive Order in view of the near-identical and, in some cases, inane characterizations of the order and the law on which it is based.

Based on my old-fashioned approach, and with the caveat that as a member of the Bar I am ethically constrained from any kind of personal disparagement of a member of the Judiciary, here, for what they may be worth, are my observations and conclusions.

First, the opinion of the District Court in Seattle was, with all due respect, overbroad, over-reaching and devoid of any reasoning or citation of authority whatsoever—the opinion did not even mention the actual content of the Executive Order nor did it even attempt to analyze the legal authorities upon which it is based. Although I have not researched this aspect of it in depth, I found it inexplicable that this court would make its order apply “Nationwide”, thus, in real terms and not just theoretically, overruling the decision of another Federal District Court, District Judge Nathaniel Gorton of Boston, which had just the day before ruled in a diametrically opposite manner, holding the order legal and fully enforceable. I was more than a little surprised when not a single Judge on the appellate panel last evening even mentioned this most unusual attempt of a single Judge in one Judicial District to have its order apply to the entire nation. As noted below, that was but one of my very serious concerns about the appellate argument, parts of which sounded like a recording of a freshman year (maybe even High School Moot Court exercise), again, with all due respect.

Second, The Executive Order is very carefully written to be anything but a Muslim ban!

As I could only dream of writing as cogently, clearly and persuasively as Heather MacDonald, I will simply adopt her brief refutation of this Democrat, media, academia, far left (but I repeat myself!) talking point:

“This executive order is far from a “Muslim ban,” pace the press. Millions of Muslims remain as eligible for entry after the executive order as they were before it. The order singles out entries from seven countries based on evidence of the heightened Islamic terror threat there. If doing so is impermissible because those seven countries have Muslim-majority populations, then national security has been completely sublimated to political correctness. It is not the U.S.’s fault that the individuals creating the most worldwide havoc with bombings and beheadings of civilians are Muslims motivated by radical Islamic ideology. The U.S. is forced to take its enemies as and where it finds them.”

“Have Islamic terrorists come from other countries? Yes, but the seven countries selected by the decree are now the site of the most contagious terrorist ideology and chaos, according to the Obama administration and now the Trump administration as well. The critics cannot simultaneously argue that the pause is too sweeping—taking in a handful of Muslim-majority countries—and that it is not sweeping enough—not taking in more Muslim-majority countries.”

This has been the consistent view of several analysts from many publications who have also taken the “old-fashioned” approach and have actually read the document before uttering sheer and total banalities about it. What a unique concept! We can only hope more and more “journalists” will return to that time-honored practice, which is admittedly not for the faint of heart or for those members of the chattering class who are simply too lazy to take the few minutes it would take anyone to read this document.

One of the clearest statements I found, and also one of the most entertaining, was this one from an apparently small paper in the Washington, D.C. area, entitled, appropriately enough, “Obsession”:

“The word on the street in the DC-environs where I live, is that President Trump has slapped a moratorium on entry to the USA by Muslims, Buddhists, Taoists, Animists, Hindus, Moonies, Rosicrucians, Hari-krishnas, Shintoists, and adherents of any other religions with odd-sounding names. Reporters, pundits, politicians, “educators,” clergy, students, professional agitators and stoned advocates for free pot are shouting from the housetops that “this is not who we are,” and vowing to fight Mr. Trump’s “Hitlerian” discrimination against religion to the last man, woman or whatever. Dark whispers are even circulating that Trump really wanted to set up “detainee camps” for Muslims and others, but was restrained by “moderates” on his staff (assuming that there are any).”

“OK, OK – enough of that tongue-in-cheek stuff, although the overheated accusations of “Hitlerian” religious discrimination are all too true. All seriousness aside, though, Mr. Trump did not bar followers of Islam (or of any other religion). His order:

  • Suspended entry of all refugees to the United States for 120 days;
  • Barred Syrian refugees indefinitely;
  • Blocked entry into the United States for 90 days by citizens of seven countries (i.e., Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen);
  • Barred green card holders from those countries from re-entering the United States, although the administration said exemptions could be granted.”

“Indeed, just finding this straightforward summary of Mr. Trump’s order took some digging, as most media organs are obsessed with the “religious discrimination” story-line. Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) made a big media splash (so to speak) by publicly “weeping” over Mr. Trump’s “mean-spirited” order, while vowing to fight it with his last breath. (Somehow, he and multitudes of like mind overlooked the fact that the seven nations named in the order were originally cited as “terrorism-prone” by the Obama administration two years ago.)”

Among the biggest cries of anguish of the far left is the fact that the order gives priority to victims of religious-based persecution. As noted in a recent edition of “Rubin Reports”, this is hypocritical coming from those who claim to always stand with minorities of all kinds, everywhere. Here is what Ben Stein of The Daily Wire had to say on this aspect of the Order, along with the applicable section of the Order:

6. Priority Is Given To Victims of Religious-Based Persecution. The media has labeled the order Islamophobic based on this provision, but here’s what it actually says:

Upon the resumption of USRAP admissions, the Secretary of State, in consultation with the Secretary of Homeland Security, is further directed to make changes, to the extent permitted by law, to prioritize refugee claims made by individuals on the basis of religious-based persecution, provided that the religion of the individual is a minority religion in the individual’s country of nationality. Where necessary and appropriate, the Secretaries of State and Homeland Security shall recommend legislation to the President that would assist with such prioritization.

“As David French points out at National Review, the current definition of refugee under law states, “any person who is outside any country of such person’s nationality . . . and who is unable or unwilling to return to . . . that country because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of . . . religion [among other things].” This executive order isn’t a major change to that standard, and it is designed to give priority to Syrian Christian refugees who have largely been left high and dry by the Obama administration.”

Third, with regard to the Appellate arguments of Monday evening, February 7, 2017, it is difficult to come up with any word within the constraints of respect for the Judiciary other than disappointing, both as to the quality of appellate advocacy on the part of the attorneys, particularly the dismal performance of the attorney representing the Government, and the questioning of the Court. We are taught early, and reminded time and time again, that it is dangerous to second-guess lawyers “in the pit” about their own cases, as they usually know many times more than anyone else does about their case. However, I did find myself wondering, with all the resources of the Government and considering the momentous importance of this appeal, why any one of a number of well-known and highly skilled appellate counsel could not have been found to present the case on behalf of the Government. I found the Solicitor General of the State of Washington, on the other hand, quite impressive. However, I was deeply troubled by not only the numerous inquiries into statements made by President Trump in the course of the campaign about “banning Muslims” and similar statements by Mr. Giuliani, which did not seem at all relevant to the question to be decided, but also the openly and forcefully adversarial tone in which some of the questions were asked, especially by one of the Judges on the panel.  Any attorney who has had any appellate experience at all has run into some hostile questioning from time to time, but the tone of some of this Court’s questioning seemed to be unusually pointed and, at times, unnecessarily so. I also found Judge Friedland’s asking “What if the order said “No Muslims”? to be, and there is no other way to put this, simply inexplicable, and felt real sympathy for Government counsel as he tried to show the obvious—that this is not the order we are dealing with in this case.

To borrow a little from the Chinese Proverb, we seem to be living in Orwellian times, in which we are lied to day in and day out by groups which not long ago were looked to for information with which we could be the informed electorate Mr. Jefferson said was so critical to the maintenance of a healthy Republic. Some members of these groups, i.e., politicians of a certain stripe and almost all  of the mainstream media(approximately 93% are registered Democrats), seem to have abandoned all pretense of any objectivity whatsoever and have adopted the practice of The Big Lie which was at the heart of Orwell’s writing. The more this Trump Derangement Syndrome continues, the more incumbent it is upon the citizenry to approach major issues like the one considered here “the old-fashioned way” and realize that if one is to know what is in a certain document or law or other writing, assume the media is lying to you about it, as they usually are. Or, as one of the more colorful columnists on the scene today recently put it, “everything said about President Trump’s “Muslim ban” is a lie, including that it’s a “Muslim ban.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pleasant Musings on Day Two

James A. George

I want to record my feelings and observations on this day after the inauguration of our new President, Donald J. Trump, in view of the truly historic nature of this event and the resurgence of good, old fashioned American patriotism it has given rise to! I really feel this is the dawning of a new day for a new America and that we have been given, in effect, one more chance by God, to at least try to “get it right” this time, after so many years–8 to be sure, maybe, according to many, 16-24–of drifting away from all the values which made America the exceptional “City upon a hill” our last real President talked about. I feel different this morning, in a way which is hard to put into words, but it comes close to to a lightness of spirit, almost a giddiness, if that’s not too ridiculous  a visage for a man of 82 ½ years!  But that’s what I am feeling right now, mid-morning on the day after the beginning of a new era for the USA, and, for that matter, the world.

The Pomp and Circumstance yesterday were just, quite simply, thrilling to see and, more—much more—importantly-to feel- America is back! The President’s Inaugural Address was very, very courageous and unrelentingly plain-spoken, “taking it to “ the Establishment, which was sitting all around him! The Bushes, Clintons, Obamas, Ryans, Pelosis, Schumers, all there on the dais with him and he let them all have it right between the eyes, and said there would be a “transfer of power” from the Establishment Government back to the people. How beautiful it was to hear those words and to feel the power of bedrock conviction we all know he says them with! And his mentions of God as our Protector was in such stark contrast to the 8 years in the secular wilderness of the Hussein Obamas—secular, that is, with one glaring exception, Islam!  All of this, plus a clear call to a return to the Jacksonian populism of “America First”, something not heard from an American leader, assuming, arguendo, one can honestly call Barack Hussein Obama an American leader, and putting our interests ahead of the interests of other Nations, many of which have been sworn enemies who chant Death to America every day of their lives.

While the President was the star of the day, as was most befitting, another star helped enormously to add to the special luminosity of the day, and that was America’s new Princess, The First Lady! What a beautiful First Lady we now have, with such an almost regal bearing and aplomb, and, of course, sense of style.

There were several magnificent lines in the President’s speech, one of my favorites of which was “When you open your heart to patriotism, there  is no room for prejudice.” In the maelstrom of abuses, insults, lawlessness, arrogance, hubris, name-calling We The People suffered through in the last 8 years, something profound happened while The Establishment was busy taking care of its own—they lost the consent of the governed and a most unlikely Tribune came along and earned the trust of the people. He now has won the consent of the governed, and may a Merciful God guide him  to just and right leadership as he brings America back from the abyss of the last 8 years.

God Bless America!