KBO2018-12-27T12:00:48-07:00

KEEP BUGGERING ON

Mueller Report: ‘No Collusion’; Media Self-Immolates

Attorney General Bill Barr on Sunday afternoon released a summary of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on alleged collusion between the 2016 Trump presidential campaign and the Russian government. The long and the short of it: there wasn’t any.

Here’s the full text of Barr’s letter (via Legal Insurrection).

Bottom line: “The Special Counsel’s investigation did not find that the Trump campaign or anyone associated with it conspired or coordinated with Russia in its efforts to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election.”

Whoops. So much for the “real prospect of jail time.” Bummer.

But . . . ! But . . . !

After two years of insisting on “obvious” and “plain sight” collusion, the Democrats aren’t about to let it go. Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) insisted on MSNBC, “This is not the end of anything!” (Alas, she’s probably correct.)

“Seems like the Department of Justice is putting matters squarely in Congress’ court,” Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) said in a tweet. Earlier on “Fox News Sunday” with Chris Wallace, Nadler said, “Maybe it’s not indictable but we know there was collusion. The question is to what degree and for what purpose.”

Our friend Ned Ryun tweets:

Apparently this dream will never die.

Meantime, NeverTrump contingent busies itself with hammering square pegs into round holes. (Our Julie Kelly has a story coming out about that in a few hours.)

Ace roused himself from his usual Sunday slumber to write: “NeverTrumpers continuing to push their conspiracy theories. While, you know, knocking other conspiracy theories like birtherism.

smugposturing.jpg
Isn’t it funny that the people who are always shouting the loudest that they’re smaaahhht always turn out to be the stupidest?”

Last word:

Photo credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images

By |March 24th, 2019|0 Comments

Victor Davis Hanson Essentially Called It in February

Robert Mueller’s investigation is done. There will be no more indictments and the existing indictments have nothing to do with his warrant—namely, claims that Donald Trump’s presidential campaign “colluded” with Russia to sway the 2016 presidential election.

You’re hearing and reading a lot of spin (and wishful thinking) right now. (Just read all of Ace from Friday afternoon and evening.) And you’ll be hearing and reading a great deal more in the coming days.

But if you would like a bit of prescient clarity about all of this, I suggest reading—or re-reading, as the case may be—Victor Davis Hanson’s essay, “Autopsy of a Dead Coup,” which made a bit of a splash in mid-February. Hanson essentially called what happened today a month ago. The thing was built on vicious nonsense and sour grapes from the start.

“Shame on all these failed conspirators and their abettors, and may these immoral people finally earn a long deserved legal and moral reckoning,” Hanson wrote.

I don’t know about the legal reckoning, but the moral one is coming. Believe that. And not just on the Left. More than a few ostensible “conservatives” have a lot to answer for here.

In the meantime, watch Rachel Maddow trying not to come completely undone on her show earlier tonight . . .

Update: Apparently it’s a violation of Twitter’s rules to post a video laughing at a left-wing cable news show host. Once again, see Ace.

Photo credit: Kevin Hagen/Getty Images

By |March 22nd, 2019|0 Comments

A Bulwark Against The Bulwark

A bulwark is a defensive wall, while The Bulwark is a wall against independent thought. Derivative, derogatory, and defamatory, the site has a logo that looks a lot like the emblem (since abandoned) of The New Republic: of a ship at sea, with its wind-puffed sails and its parallel pennants. But this ship is not that ship, not when it looks like a frigate and fights like a warship. The Bulwark attacks its enemies not by following the rules of war but by flouting them, by abandoning the law of the sea for piracy on the high seas, by forsaking all things nautical—including honor, history, customs, and tradition—for disastrous ends by despicable means.

It groups the supporters of Donald Trump with the secessionists and traitors who sanctioned the murder of Abraham Lincoln. It resurrects history by revising it, moving the capital of the Confederacy from Richmond, Virginia, to Charlottesville, Virginia, moving—by rhetorical sleight of hand—a statue of Jefferson Davis into the Rotunda designed by Thomas Jefferson, moving 62.9 million Americans from 30 states into 11 states of a dead country, founded by people long dead, for the restoration of an institution that will never rise from the dead. Such is the way of The Bulwark in which this ship morphs into a slave ship.

To accept this crime against history requires people not to study history, because the friends of Trump are the fans of Lincoln. We are the students of the last great historian of the president of the last best hope of earth. We read the works of Harry V. Jaffa, not the writings of racists and terrorists. We are all Jews, we are all Christians. We hate tyranny. We hate totalitarianism. We hate anti-Semitism.

The Bulwark is no bulwark against the world’s oldest hatred. It is more like a pleasure craft for a lost cause by a crew too indecent to do the decent thing: sail away.

Image credit: Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty Image

 

By |March 22nd, 2019|0 Comments

Lori Loughlin of Troy

A three-pack of Trojan latex condoms is $5.99, while a Trojan sheepskin is $299,300. The better value, regarding family planning, is the one without a Trojan Family Weekend, scheduled for Saturday, November 2, 2019, at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum. Also, the person who pays $5.99 shows more responsibility than the head Trojan whose public letter is an attempt to avoid responsibility.

That actress Lori Loughlin allegedly paid $500,000 for her daughters to become Trojans—to win admission to the University of Southern California—is more cringeworthy than criminal. And yet she was more honest in her dishonesty than any dishonest expression of honesty by Wanda M. Austin, the interim president of USC.

Instead of acknowledging the absurdity of the university’s admissions process, instead of admitting that an 11 percent acceptance rate represents the triumph of luck over logic, instead of conceding that its 23 admissions counselors, of whom 20 look like future staff members of the Office of Independent Counsel, instead of confessing that it cannot do justice to 67,000 applications, President Austin says USC is a victim of deceit.

More like a perpetrator of deceit, since it is easier to defend the 1946 Soviet Union legislative election—in which Josef Stalin received 81 percent of the vote—than it is to justify USC’s rejection of 89 percent of applicants for the class of 2023. One made no claim of fairness, no case for openness, no call for inspections. The other spoke about the depravity of deprivation, of how liberty was impossible in a land with more bills (of and about rights) than bread.

If President Austin does not speak Russian, she should nonetheless try to lie as convincingly as the worst Russian in history. The university she leads is no worse an offender than similar institutions. But USC is offensive just the same. It relegates education to the ash heap of history, as it writes its own history about the death of education at USC.

Photo credit: Phillip Faraone/WireImage

By |March 20th, 2019|0 Comments

‘From Yale to Jail’ Starring Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin

Perhaps Felicity Huffman never broke character. Perhaps she still is a desperate housewife, while Lori Loughlin is (or may be) desperate in a different way. If the criminal charges against the two are true, their next roles will pay nothing—not even scale—and require everything: a performance that negates their alleged attempts to use fraudulent test scores and bribes to get their daughters into college.

Huffman and Loughlin are the most famous suspects in this case, but the unindicted co-conspirators are the colleges and universities named as victims in a federal indictment. The schools are more like accomplices in an ongoing criminal enterprise in which hope—false hope—is the currency of business, corruption the business of higher education, education nobody’s business. The schools are more like country clubs than temples of learning, not because they are havens of leisure, but because they are houses of exclusion.

For all their talk about light and truth, for all their double-talk about excellence and leadership, the one thing that talks to these schools—that speaks softly but forcefully—is money. Not the literacy of a particular applicant whose grades are second-rate but whose intellect is first-rate, whose scores are ordinary but whose talent is extraordinary, whose extracurricular activities are few but whose interests are many. From such average transcripts does history transcribe the greatness of grandiloquent men such as Roosevelt, Churchill, Kennedy, and Reagan.

According to Wayne R. Cohen, a professor at the George Washington University School of Law and a partner at Cohen & Cohen, P.C.: “If there is corruption at the university level, it will be incumbent for a specific institution to take steps to regulate itself.”

Intoxicated by power and blinded by prestige, the most selective schools are some of the most sanctimonious institutions on earth. Their vines are invasive—their ivy infective—to the development of free minds and free people.

By |March 13th, 2019|0 Comments

Sweden: Still More Migration

The following by Judith Bergman is republished by permission from the Gatestone Institute.

Sweden’s new government, which was finally formed in January after months of delay, is introducing policies that will lead to more immigration into Sweden—despite the main governing party, the Social Democrats, having run for office on a promise to tighten immigration policies.

The right to family reunion for those people granted asylum in Sweden who do not have refugee status is being reintroduced—a measure that is estimated to bring at least 8,400 more immigrants to Sweden in the coming three years. According to the Minister of Migration, Morgan Johansson, this measure will “strengthen integration,” although he has not explained how.

“I think it is a very good humanitarian measure; 90 percent [of those expected to come] are women and children who have lived for a long time in refugee camps, [and] who can now be reunited with their father or husband in Sweden”, Johansson said. He was probably referring to the fact that most of the migrants who arrived in the past couple of years were young males, who had left their wives and children behind. The measure also entitles so-called “unaccompanied children” to bring their parents to Sweden. Many of these “unaccompanied children” turned out to be adults, not minors. (The dentist who contributed to exposing this inconsequential detail was subsequently fired).

Johansson also said that the government plans to extend the right to remain in Sweden by introducing “new humanitarian grounds for protection.” This means that people who would otherwise not be eligible for a residence permit, will now be able to acquire it for the following reasons, according to Johansson:

“For very sensitive cases, there must be an opportunity to increase the options for acquiring residence permits. It may be cases where people are very sick, fragile or very vulnerable, for example. It is a very small group and a very small part of the total asylum policy. There have been a number of striking cases where one does not feel that this has worked well from a purely humanitarian point of view . . .  There must be room for humanity and a humanitarian approach, even in these times. I think this is important.”

Mehdi Shokr Khoda, a gay 19-year old Iranian man who converted to Christianity in Sweden after he had fled to Stockholm from Iran in 2017, probably wishes that Swedish authorities would apply their “humanitarian approach” to his particular case. He and his partner, an Italian resident of Sweden, are fighting for Mehdi to not be deported back to Iran, after the Swedish migration authorities rejected his asylum application, claiming that Khoda is “lying” about his situation. The authorities questioned, among other matters, why he was only baptized after coming to Sweden, and claimed that he “was unable to explain his coming out process” as a gay man. As homosexuality is prohibited under Islamic law, gays are routinely executed in Iran, most recently in January. Since the Islamic Revolution in 1979, Iran has executed “between 4,000 and 6,000 gays and lesbians” according to a 2008 British WikiLeaks dispatch.

As for Sweden’s humanitarian impulses—or lack thereof—regarding persecuted Christians, there are an estimated 8,000 Christians under deportation orders hiding in Sweden, according to attorney Gabriel Donner, who has assisted an estimated 1,000 Christian asylum-seekers facing deportation.

Minister of Migration Morgan Johansson has also claimed, perhaps as a way of excusing how the government is going against its own election promise of reducing immigration into Sweden, that the country now has “the lowest asylum reception for 13 years.” That claim is incorrect, according to numbers released by the Swedish Migration Board: The third-highest number of residence permits issued ever was in 2018 (132,696). The previous record years were 2016 and 2017, respectively, when 151,031 and 135,529 residence permits were granted to migrants. In 2018, the top ten source countries for foreigners granted residence permits were Syria, India, Afghanistan, Thailand, Eritrea, Iraq, China, Pakistan, Iran, and Somalia.

It is a serious democratic problem for Sweden—a country with a population of just over 10 million people—that the government introduces policies that the majority of Swedes are against. In December 2018, a poll showed that 53% of all Swedes wanted legislation reducing the number of immigrants being accepted into Sweden.

Sweden might also soon be welcoming returning ISIS terrorists. According to Prime Minister Stefan Löfven, who was recently interviewed about this prospect, returning ISIS terrorists have a “right,” as Swedish citizens, to return to Sweden. Löfven claimed that it would be against the Swedish constitution to strip them of their citizenship, but that those who had committed crimes would be prosecuted. Currently, Swedish law actually does not allow the security services to take all necessary measures against returning ISIS fighters. The law does not allow authorities, for example, to seize or search the mobile phones or computers of returning ISIS fighters, unless there is a concrete suspicion of a crime.

On a positive note, however, at the end of February, the Swedish government presented plans to introduce legislation that would criminalize membership of a terrorist organization. This new law would enable the prosecuting of returning ISIS fighters who cannot be connected to a specific crime, but who were proven to have been part of a terrorist organization. Critics have pointed out that it has taken years for the government to take steps to criminalize membership of terror organizations and that the planned penalty for belonging to one—two to six years in prison—is “ridiculously low.” Until the law is passed, however, returning ISIS terrorists can only be tried for specific crimes committed while there were fighting for the “caliphate.”

One Swedish terrorism expert, Magnus Ranstorp, recently warned Sweden against taking back not only ISIS terrorists, but also their wives and children, who he said also pose a security risk:

“The women are not innocent victims, and there is also a large group of ISIS children… From the age of eight or nine, they have been sent to indoctrination camps where they have learned close combat techniques and how to handle weapons. Some of them have learned how to kill… their identities will forever be linked to their time with ISIS, and the fact that they have an ISIS father or an ISIS mother.”

Ranstorp also noted that Sweden’s mental health system is “not fit to deal with that. If they stay with their extremist parents, there could be delayed effects further down the line, 15-20 years from now.”

Photo Credit: CNN

By |March 9th, 2019|0 Comments

February Border Apprehensions: At Crisis Levels

In February, Border Patrol apprehended 66,450 persons attempting to cross the unsecured border between official crossing points.  This was an increase of 18,557 (+39%) over the previous month and 39,784, a whopping 150%, over the same month last year.

We have updated our annual forecast for apprehensions for calendar year 2019, which stood at 606,000 as of last week.  Based on the first two months of the year, our 2019 calendar year forecast is raised to 841,000.  This would be the highest since 2006, almost double last year’s level, and more than three times the number of apprehensions in 2017.

The sudden increase in crossing is driven entirely by a surge in family units.  While there a jobs aplenty in the US, current legislation and judicial rulings have created a highly permissive environment for migrants from the Northern Triangle countries traveling with children.  As a result, the rush is on, and month after month, more and more family units are attempting to cross the border and claiming asylum if they are caught. 

 

Crossings are now clearly at crisis levels, and the pressure will be on Democrats in Congress to tighten asylum laws if they intend to hold the House in 2020.  I would note that migrants are also certainly aware of this, and therefore apprehension numbers could rise substantially heading into the summer months as migrants rush to cross the border before new legislation can be prepared.  My advice to Nancy Pelosi would be to block out some time over the weekend and have a bill ready on Monday morning.  This doesn’t get better, and very likely could get a lot worse, with the Democrats rightly blamed for this fiasco.

Turning to February inadmissibles:  These numbers remain elevated, but nothing too out of the ordinary.

This post can be found on our website, here.

Photo Credit: Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty Images

By |March 7th, 2019|0 Comments

Tom Friedman Learns the Alphabet

Tom Friedman unlocked his cage—again. He took his cardboard suitcase, tricycle, typewriter, cigarettes, cymbals, and red onesie, and pedaled toward the Man with the Yellow Hat. Then he mad-libbed his latest column. Per usual, he mixed more metaphors than the Good Intentions Paving Company, indicted President Trump for more crimes than there are criminal statutes, and did not stop typing until the carriage had gone “click.” The finished product reads like a mash-up of the death of Hal, when Dave Bowman deactivates the computer’s circuits and the machine regresses to its earliest programmed memory, the song “Daisy Bell,” which it sings for Bowman, and a re-enactment of Neo’s rescue by the Nebuchadnezzar, where, after having lain in a torn dentist’s chair for 10 hours straight, The One learns jiujitsu—and kung fu.

(Try reading Friedman’s column—aloud—as fast as you can, as many times you as can, before you feel the pinch of a hypodermic needle, shot from a dart gun, and lose consciousness. Or do the same thing, inside a windowless room, in an effort to answer a question as old as the scriptures and as clear the autumn sky in New York City: “Kenneth, what is the frequency?”)

Whatever you do, do not look for consistency from a columnist whose outrage toward China is so outrageous because it is so selective. Gone is his admiration for a regime that persecutes Christians, not that that is the reason why Friedman admires China, and up comes a fusillade against President Trump—and Bibi Netanyahu—for Beijing’s torture and murder of Chinese Muslims. Friedman (like Bret Stephens) seals his indictment by inserting Netanyahu’s name as a form of kashrut. Rather, he treats Netanyahu as political trayf: unlawful, unrighteous, and unholy.

Between his hatred of Trump and Netanyahu, Friedman includes eight couplets from the song “Anything Goes.”

Anything goes, indeed, except Friedman’s return to Turtle Back Zoo.

By |March 6th, 2019|0 Comments

The Jonah Goldberg Variations

Jonah Goldberg, National Review’s encephalitic version of Mark Steyn, plans to launch a media company. Written in Graffiti, the digital shorthand for the Palm Pilot, Goldberg said the company would be a conservative alternative for bankruptcy lawyers in search of future assets to liquidate.

According to Goldberg: “It’s time I run my own shop with other people’s money. And while I could pitch my idea on ‘Shark Tank,’ I trust markets over experienced and inquisitive investors.” Goldberg, who is the author of multiple unsent resignation letters, called his departure from NR “hard but necessary, as I have a president to defeat, a country to save, and snacks to eat. The rest is commentary. Or Commentary.”

Asked to comment on Goldberg’s announcement, John Podhoretz, editor of Commentary magazine, said (after a coughing fit, outside a robbery investigation of a bakery on New York’s Upper West Side): “Jonah is the greatest columnist of his generation. If I were Trump, I’d be as scared of him as I am of vegetables.”

George Will, a contributor to NR and a frequent critic of the Trump Administration, compared Goldberg to Nathan Hale, John Peter Zenger, and Thomas Jefferson.

“In a propitious test of whether liberty can endure, the question is, ‘Shall we drown with the whale, inside the whale, or shall we swim to the shores of verdant hills and majestic horizons, where, to paraphrase Ronald Reagan, we will go ahead and make our day?’ Jonah is our captain. From such leaders do vessels sail.”

Goldberg downplayed the comparison, saying: “I am blessed to have such good friends. When I fail, I know they will still print my copy.”

Photo credit: C-Span

By |March 4th, 2019|0 Comments

Bret Stephens: The Typist with a Pulitzer Prize

Yesterday, The New York Times answered a question no one asked: What if Bret Stephens were a (Sears) portrait of Ben Shapiro as a grown man? Though the Times did not offer complimentary brooms and dustpans—to sweep away the feathers—for readers who came too close to the halo on Stephens’s headshot, it nonetheless answered its own question by saying, in effect, “BS would write the same BS, but with better editors and no fact checkers.” Yesterday’s BS lingers because it is the product of ignorance and a vile insinuation: the former being Stephens’s unintentional compliment as criticism in which he compares Bibi Netanyahu to Richard Nixon, while the latter is Stephens’s suggestion that, by refusing (unlike Nixon) to resign from office, Jews will die—because it is indefensible for Netanyahu to stay in office.

About the comparison to Nixon, Stephens ignores the president’s deserved reputation as Israel’s savior. Where his Secretary of State wanted his coreligionists to bleed—to suffer with a patient shrug and to bend low with bated breath—so as to whisper their humbleness, where his Secretary of Defense wanted to thwart the Jews by scorning their nation, President Nixon was righteous among the nations. He ordered the Pentagon to send Israel everything that could fly—he gave Israel what she needed, and more, until victory was won. After that day, until her last day, Golda Meir referred to Nixon as “My President.”

Stephens does not inconvenience himself with facts. Instead, he says Netanyahu never puts moral considerations before political considerations. Translation: The Jewish leader of the Jewish nation puts all other considerations—including consideration in the form of cash—ahead of the sole consideration that can save his soul.

By slandering one Jew, Stephens damns all Jews. His column is a bloodless—for now—libel against the Jews. From such filth does a Pulitzer Prize winner ply his trade.

Photo credit: Gili Yaari/NurPhoto via Getty Images

By |March 2nd, 2019|0 Comments

When the Press Does It, That Means It’s Legal

When someone steals top-secret documents during wartime—about a war Americans are fighting—while the dead average 46 per week, every week, for a year; when someone photocopies 7,000 pages about military planning—about U.S. military plans in Southeast Asia—while the President of the United States seeks to end what his predecessors started; when someone watches the flash from a 648-pound Xerox machine, as if he were a VIP (without safety goggles) sitting on an Adirondack chair at the Pacific Proving Ground, instead of a thief in a room 11 miles from the Pacific Ocean; when the bulb inside that machine flashes at least 10,000 times in a single night, until what was not Daniel Ellsberg’s or Anthony Russo’s to give becomes the media’s gift to all enemies, foreign and domestic—when the press does that, it is legal. But when Donald Trump repeats what the press reports, that is illegal. OK.

Now that we understand the rules, that there are none, this much is clear: that the press reserves the right to print what it wants, despite the wanton behavior of others, so long as no member of the press behaves improperly. Or, the Fourth Estate reads the Eighth Commandment to mean, “Thou shall not steal—unless thou art on deadline.”

How else to explain the press’s coverage of not only what WikiLeaks has, including 50,547 pages of emails sent to and from Hillary Clinton’s private email server, but also what the most incriminating emails say? The explanation is simple: What was good copy then is still good copy now—except Mrs. Clinton’s bad press was good enough to help her lose the 2016 presidential election.

For that crime, the press finds President Trump guilty. May he serve the remainder of his sentence, until January 20, 2025, in the White House.

 

By |February 28th, 2019|0 Comments

Let’s Not Make a Green New Deal

To refuse to remember the past is to have the power to condemn others to repeat it: to force tens of millions of people to learn by suffering, to live by surviving—to die, if necessary—by sacrificing themselves to a cause as irredeemable as it is irresistible. Such is the power of politics as a religion in which the commandments are lawful but unjust, the prophecies clear but unconscionable, the mandates hellish but accepted as heaven-sent. Such is the promise of the Green New Deal whose words read more like a ransom note than a suicide note, as the name itself is a crime against history by a partisan who seeks to repeat a past that never was; a past that too many historians repeat as having happened; a past that is not even past; a past that will endure until historians replace their reverence with respect, until historians square the facts of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal with the spirit of Theodore Roosevelt’s Square Deal, so history itself will get a fair deal.

Where the New Deal was administrative—and aspirational, regarding FDR’s Four Freedoms—the Green New Deal is authoritative. Its reach is total, its total costs incalculable, its total casualties inconceivable. I exaggerate not in the slightest, not when the first word of every paragraph begins with a conjunction whose sole function is to sow dysfunction. Not when the answer to what is to be done is a question about where we must go. Whereas the bill says global temperatures must be kept at specific levels, which will require—the suspension of time and disbelief.

To control the heavens is an act of patricide against our father which art in heaven, not-so-hallowed (apparently) be thy name. Thy kingdom will not come, nor thy will be done, until we recognize that sometimes the greenest fields are the largest graveyards. May the Green New Deal die before it kills a single soul.

Photo credit: Pixabay

By |February 27th, 2019|0 Comments

Generalísimo Rubio Needs Refresher on Just War Criteria

The Republican Party establishment is extremely sensitive to Rep. Steve King’s alleged transgressions against political correctness. King stumbled into the clutches of intraparty opponents by appearing to confirm their “narrative” that his hardline immigration posture equates with “white supremacy.” Even Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell got into the act of denouncing King before the House voted to reprove him and the Republican caucus stripped him of committee memberships.

So how will the establishment respond to Sen. Marco Rubio’s incitement of civil war in Venezuela by tweeting a photo of one of his political foes literally being tortured to death? Over the weekend, in a flimsily veiled threat to Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro, Rubio tweeted a photo of a bloody and tormented Muammar Gaddafi during the moments he was being sodomized with a bayonet and beaten to death.

Overwhelming bipartisan agreement has developed among U.S. politicos that Maduro’s evil regime should be replaced by a better one. Avoiding civil war during the eventual transition away from Maduro would be a good thing, but not in the mind of Generalísimo Rubio. Maduro’s discredited rule may gain a new measure of sympathy because of the young senator’s propaganda gesture suggesting that the Venezuelan strongman be subjected to anal rape and brutal murder.

“I tremble for my country,” Thomas Jefferson said, “when I reflect that God is just.”

Will Catholic and Evangelical leaders speak out against Rubio’s vile gesture?

How many senators will take action to punish Rubio for his offense against human dignity and the honor of the United States? Will Rubio face censure? Removal from committee posts?

If McConnell is consistent, he will adapt to Rubio’s case what he said about King: “If he doesn’t understand why murder and anal rape with a bayonet are offensive, he should find another line of work.”

Photo credit:  Joe Raedle/Getty Images

By |February 25th, 2019|0 Comments

Spike Lee’s Gotta Have It

If you want to understand why racism or anti-Semitism is ineradicable, do not study history. Do not visit the scenes of the crime, so as to mark a map with a series of thumbtacks. Do not see how the pins turn the colors of the world into a single color, as the rivers and oceans go from blue to red, just as the cities and countries bear the blood of the cross and the chains of chattel slavery. Put aside what you know, and ignore history altogether, so you may listen to Spike Lee’s version of American history, because no award is big enough—not even his Academy Award for best adapted screenplay is good enough—for him to say: enough. No amount of praise from his peers, of all colors, was enough for him to be magnanimous—in victory and defeat—when “Green Book” won the Oscar for best picture.

By labeling the win a “bad call,” Lee revealed the sole color that darkens his soul. Too green with envy to have congratulated a fellow actor of color, Lee’s words were an attack against the co-star of “Green Book,” Mahershala Ali, winner of the Academy Award for best supporting actor. (This was Ali’s second Oscar in the same category, having won the award—in 2017–for his performance in “Moonlight.”)

Both times, Ali was the antithesis of Lee. He was gracious but not ingratiating, selfless but not solicitous, personal but not pleading. He was a professional.

If Spike Lee cannot emulate that example, if he cannot exemplify the best of his profession, he should consider another profession—not because he will win more awards elsewhere, but because we will not have to hear him belittle future winners of the Academy Award.

Photo credit: David Crotty/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

By |February 25th, 2019|0 Comments

20/20 Vision About the Democrats in 2020

Among politicians who are unlicensed optometrists, who cannot see what is in front of them but know what is in store for America, among Democrats who are blind but think they can see, these prophets of 2020 would be wise to borrow Hillary Clinton’s prism glasses—the ones she wore before Congress—so they may have 20/20 vision, so they may avoid what they see, so voters will not see, again, the person they voted against in 2016. If Clinton speaks at the 2020 Democratic National Convention, if Democrats schedule her to speak in prime time, they will be unable to distance themselves from what she will have said, despite not knowing now what she may say a year and four months from now. What a spectacle it would be, without the need to wear spectacles, because of what we can see in the present—by looking at an event from the past.

Look at the night before Election Day, November 7, 2016, when Democrats rallied in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Bill Clinton and Barack and Michelle Obama spoke to the crowd. Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi sang to the crowd. Then Clinton faced the crowd. She said: “Let us show tomorrow that there will be no question as to the outcome of this election.”

Since that night, Clinton has done nothing but question the outcome of an election she lost. She has done nothing to end questions about a victory she never won, a defeat she never imagined, a day she never imagined she would see: the inauguration of the 45th President of the United States, Donald J. Trump.

The more Clinton speaks, the more likely it is President Trump will deliver his second inaugural address. That is a sight I hope to see.

Photo credit: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

By |February 21st, 2019|Comments Off on 20/20 Vision About the Democrats in 2020

From Stonewall to Stonewalling: Democrats and Gay Rights

From Stonewall to stonewalling, such is the history of the Democratic Party’s record toward gays and lesbians. Yesterday, President Trump rewrote history by relegating Democrats to a footnote in the history of a movement that, at its best, is not about more rights for some people but the same rights for all people. Without biting his lip or biding his time, without searching for specific guarantees that have penumbras, formed by emanations from those guarantees that help give them life and substance, without the need to evolve—and free of the hypocrisy of his predecessors—the president said, in an instant, what neither Bill Clinton nor Barack Obama ever said in office, from the Oval Office: that the United States seeks to end the criminalization of homosexuality worldwide.

That the world’s worst countries have the worst laws against homosexuals—that these countries make the Stone Age look like the Age of Enlightenment—is no coincidence. To the world, the president all but said the West is better than the rest. And so it is; and so we are, because we do not persecute homosexuals. We do not torment them. We do not torture them. We do not murder them by hanging them, in public, from construction cranes. We do not condemn behavior we oppose by behaving like barbarians—period.

While this may be news to the president’s critics, it is not a new attitude by the president. Trump not only spoke in defense of gay rights before he was president, during his acceptance speech at the 2016 Republican National Convention, but he also spoke with pride when the audience applauded his defense.

What Trump never did was speak defensively or ambiguously about the rights of gays and lesbians. He spoke like a leader, while his opponent spoke like a Democrat.

Photo credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

By |February 20th, 2019|Comments Off on From Stonewall to Stonewalling: Democrats and Gay Rights

McCabe’s Distortions About Flynn Investigation

It’s hard to track all the falsehoods coming from disgraced ex-FBI chief Andrew McCabe during his book blitz this week. But one glaring and intentional distortion must be clarified and, in my dreams, scrutinized in future interviews.

McCabe claims that one of the chief reasons the FBI opened up a counterintelligence probe to determine whether the sitting U.S. president was a Russian asset was because Trump allegedly asked then-FBI Director James Comey to drop an investigation into former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. “The president approaches the director of the FBI and asks him to stop investigating Michael Flynn, a part of our investigation into Russian interference, he asks him to turn off that investigation,” McCabe told NBC’s Savannah Guthrie on Monday. He’s made that same accusation several times over the past few days.

Set aside there’s no evidence that the Flynn matter had anything to do with Comey’s dismissal; Trump, in fact, asked for Flynn’s resignation after details of his calls with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. were illegally leaked to the media and seemed to contradict his public statements.

The only evidence that Trump made any suggestion to Comey about the Flynn “investigation” is Comey’s own memos. According to Comey’s notes, during a meeting on February 14, 2017 – the day after Flynn resigned – Trump allegedly discussed the FBI’s inquiry into Flynn’s calls with the ambassador, which some Justice Department officials suggested were in violation of the never-used Logan Act.

Comey’s memo claimed that Trump said, “I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy.” Comey responded by agreeing that Flynn, who he had been investigating for months as a possible Russian agent, “is a good guy.”

It was clear the discussion had nothing to do with the FBI’s investigation into Flynn’s suspected ties to the Kremlin, which Comey had launched in July 2016. Further, Trump’s offhanded comment could not have pertained to the Russia investigation because, at the time, neither Trump nor his staff nor the rest of the world knew that Comey’s FBI was investigating the Trump campaign.

That bombshell wasn’t made public until March 2017, a fact Comey confirmed in his congressional testimony last December. In fact, Crossfire Hurricane, the code name for the counterintelligence probe into the Trump campaign, was so secret that Comey violated protocol by concealing from congressional leaders the existence of the investigation for eight months. It wasn’t until he was confronted by the House Intelligence Committee that Comey acknowledged the overarching investigation, and consequently, the investigation into Flynn.

That was a month after Trump’s alleged comments to Comey. The FBI hadn’t directly informed Trump that his campaign was under investigation.

McCabe’s accusation solely is based on Comey’s memo; Trump repeatedly has denied it. Even if Trump said it, the comment had nothing to do with the FBI’s probe into Flynn because Trump was unaware the investigation was underway.

Let’s hope someone asks McCabe to clear this up….soon.

By |February 20th, 2019|Comments Off on McCabe’s Distortions About Flynn Investigation

Amazon Versus Aquinas

From the faded outline of a cross to the silhouette of a speaker, the dream house of today looks like a nightmare of the future—a present-day nightmare in which we are awake but not aware, active but not alert, anxious but not attentive. Where the Word was God, the words now echo from Amazon’s Echo: a plastic icon with a red halo, one of seven colors whose rings radiate with the sound of each word, as Alexa says each word, in a tone as hollow as it is unholy. Welcome to a country where 39 million Americans own a smart speaker; where, in three years, there will be more households with a smart speaker than there will be Catholic households; where the house of the LORD may decline, but God will never die; where the stones of all other houses will crumble, while one perfect Rock will remain; where, in the meantime, we agree to do what no foreign tyrant could ever pay us to do—install surveillance devices in our homes.

We speak to an inanimate object. We speak to this thing—we honor this false god—while we object to those who speak of God. We would sooner accept such people than we would reject the one person responsible for having invaded our homes without an ounce of force, whose Echo weighs as little as 10.6 ounces.

Leave it to Jeff Bezos to know what we desire, when we neither know nor seem to care to know what we ought to believe and do. We do not even know what we do not know, as we sacrifice salvation for the cost of amusing ourselves to death.

To die that way profits one man. It profits Jeff Bezos to gain the whole world, provided all other men lose their souls.

By |February 19th, 2019|Comments Off on Amazon Versus Aquinas

Jeff Bezos and Amazon’s Prison System

When a warehouse sounds like a jailhouse, when workers have less time to speak than the time a warden reserves for a prisoner to speak his last words, when a warehouse fires more workers than a state executes prisoners via firing squad, when a new warehouse looks like a prison—and prisons look like a state’s oldest houses of learning—when working at Amazon is like doing time at Attica, the problem is not the result of coddling prisoners but of celebrating a CEO who treats his workers like prisoners. When Amazon treats freedom of speech as a form of hate speech, when it says it will not build where some people—perhaps even one person—hates how the company behaves, the villain is not a citizen but a corporation with no respect for the rights of all citizens. When we condemn New Yorkers for their criticism of Amazon, we destroy the Bill of Rights by drowning it in Jeff Bezos’s river of creative destruction.

Read Amazon’s statement about its decision to not build its second headquarters in Long Island City, Queens. The company said: “. . . a number of state and local politicians have made it clear that they oppose our presence and will not work with us to build the type of relationships that are required to go forward with the project we and many others envisioned in Long Island City.”

That Amazon does not say how many politicians oppose its presence, that it does not say why these politicians are opponents, that it does not name these politicians—all of these things say that Amazon opposes not what these politicians did but what they said; that Amazon opposes opposition; that it elects to fire workers who oppose any of the company’s policies; that it shall be company policy to deny work to communities whose elected officials do not put Amazon’s interests first.

None of which is to say Amazon’s opponents are right. But if Amazon wants to eliminate opposition, it should relocate to a country where opposition is a crime. Then it can have prisoners work for no pay, so Jeff Bezos can tout how little consumers pay to shop on Amazon.

Photo credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images

By |February 17th, 2019|Comments Off on Jeff Bezos and Amazon’s Prison System

Ilhan Omar, Ambassador of Hate

Ilhan Omar, the U.S. Representative for Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District, was born on October 4, 1981—but sounds like a U.N. delegate from November 10, 1975, where, in a tribunal of the despotic against the democratic, she says that “Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination.” She sounds like a character out of time—filibustering her time—whose rhetoric is timeless, not because of its poetry, but because of its polluted assertions since time immemorial: that one people have defiled the land with blood; that the land cannot be cleansed until it is cleared of a bloodthirsty people; that the land cannot be purified until every land purges these people from the earth. She sounds the verses, for the digital age, on behalf of the world’s oldest hatred. She sounds like many things, but she does not sound like an American.

Representative Omar is an American citizen, but she does not live like one. How she lives has nothing to do with her right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Her rights are no more or less than mine, for which I have a duty to guarantee her right to offend—for which I have no right not to protect her right to be wrong—while I have every right to expose her ignorance and hate.

To say Omar does not live like an American is to say she does not act like the representative of all Americans within her district. When she was a member of the Minnesota House of Representatives, she hosted a monthly “Coffee and Kulan” event for constituents. She should not have used her office by using that name—kulan is the Somali word for meeting—because Somali is not the language of America. Nor is Spanish, Portuguese, or French. A plurality of Omar’s constituents may speak Somali, but the people of Minnesota do the people’s business in English. If Omar wants her coffee and kulan, let her run a restaurant under that name. Let her launch a coffee shop under that name. Let her use that name for public ends as a private citizen, not for personal gain as a public official.

When Omar says she is “unapologetically Muslim,” what she says is—unquestionably—un-American. It is also un-American to be unapologetically American, by the way, rather than proud of America for the price we paid—and continue to pay, in blood and treasure—to assure the survival and the success of liberty. It is something else, however, to be unapologetically Muslim; as if Islam is the only religion without sin; the only religion without a history to confront; the only religion without a history of murder and confrontation.

Unapologetic about what she believes but cannot prove, and unsympathetic toward those she condemns without proof, Ilhan Omar owes America an apology.

Photo credit: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

By |February 14th, 2019|Comments Off on Ilhan Omar, Ambassador of Hate

Free to Offend—For Now

Some words about words: The more words we classify as fighting words, the less able we are to fight for liberty with nothing but words. When liberty itself incites violence, when saying the word elicits hatred, when marching, peacefully, in defense of the word disturbs the peace—as it did when a King petitioned his president for redress; as it will wherever the unalienable is unattainable—when we erode the First Amendment, we elevate the Second Amendment as the principal means of expression. Were we to repeal both amendments, we would have peace without justice or—“No Justice, No Peace.” America’s colleges and universities seem to have neither, as they expand the zone of safety by further narrowing the limits of speech; as they save a place for every student by denying space to speakers whose words may offend the opposition, oppose the oppressive, and overwhelm the overly sensitive. If one school intends to be true to the words of its greatest alumnus—by being true to what America said on paper—let that school be Boston University.

BU plans to create “two committees to review and possibly revise the University’s protocols protecting speech.”

The committees should replace the protocols, not revise them, until the rights of students at a private university match the rights of what every American has a right to do in public. Give students the truth on paper—in a compact by the people—whose size is sufficiently compact to fit in their pockets. Give every student a pocket-sized copy of the United States Constitution, because anything less than what that paper says is not worth all the words a university says on paper.

Let the committees meet to adjourn, instead of meeting to adjudicate, so they will not abridge the freedom of speech.

By |February 12th, 2019|Comments Off on Free to Offend—For Now

Theranos: Another Word for Thanatos

Wherever religion is dead, fundamentalism is alive and well. Wherever faith is indubitable, and the faithful attack the doubtful, disaster is inevitable. Look, then, not in the ravines and the valleys for fools. Forget the desolate wastes and the deserted cities, too, and look to the one valley—Silicon Valley—where Thanatos is (or was) Theranos. Look at how easy it is for confidence to conquer common sense, given the criminal charges against Elizabeth Holmes, founder of Theranos, who dressed like a priestess; who, if the allegations are true, preached the virtues of science and practiced the vices of scientism; who, in spite of the evidence against her, evinced a box—with a slot, a screen, and no buttons—as proof of salvation. Listen to “The Dropout,” the podcast about Holmes’s rise and fall, so you may hear how she allegedly falsified so much, including the sound of her own voice.

Listen; because the religion that asks the least of us is often the one that takes the most from us—not in deeds, but in dollars. By the time believers learn the truth, that their religion is intellectually bankrupt, most will have gone bankrupt. And yet, most do not want to hear the truth. Not when the improbable is still possible. Not when the faithful believe that false prophets are the price of achieving profitability.

This much is certain. Wherever the Cult of Reason flourishes, rationality fails. What the rationalist believes God cannot know, because he does not believe in God, he nonetheless believes he already knows—which may be what Elizabeth Holmes believes she knows, too, without knowing good and evil; that, with their eyes opened and their minds closed, they shall be as gods.

They know not what they do.

Photo credit: Gilbert Carrasquillo/Getty Images

By |February 11th, 2019|Comments Off on Theranos: Another Word for Thanatos

Rep. Michael McCaul: Jeff Flake Impersonator

Texas Rep. Michael McCaul, the newly named senior Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, has been caught impersonating former Senators Jeff Flake and Bob Corker. One of McCaul’s first noteworthy actions in the new post is to criticize President Trump for exercising his constitutional authority regarding relations with foreign countries, in this case Saudi Arabia.

McCaul clings to the myth that Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi citizen who was murdered last year in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, was an authentic, independent voice for democracy and human rights. Reality be damned, McCaul, and others in the NeverTrump-dominated Republican foreign policy establishment, regard President Trump as a bad man who somehow should be held responsible for a host of evils in the world, including this murder. They ignore the evidence that Khashoggi was in fact a rogue intelligence agent and that the “narrative” since his murder has been a remarkably effective influence operation by Turkish and Qatari state intelligence.

By |February 11th, 2019|Comments Off on Rep. Michael McCaul: Jeff Flake Impersonator

He’s Their Favorite Mistake

During the 2016 campaign, NeverTrump biggie Elliott Abrams famously said that Donald Trump was unfit to sit in “the chair in which Washington and Lincoln sat.”

It’s not too late for President Trump to have second thoughts about the appointment of Abrams late last month as special envoy regarding the crisis in Venezuela. Instead of keeping quiet, Abrams’ gloating friends and supporters have not ceased to juxtapose praise for their hero with asseverations that the president is both a knave and a fool.

The latest example is the Washington Examiner’s piece, citing anonymous smurfs and munchkins supposedly employed at the White House, avowing that the president’s rejection of Abrams’ proposed nomination as deputy secretary of state in 2017 had been a case of mistaken identity! The tabloid was duped into reporting that Trump had confused Elliott Abrams—whom it called a “bit player” in the 2003 invasion of Iraq—with Eliot Cohen, another vitriolic NeverTrumper who also had experience in the George W. Bush administration.

Actually, the Examiner reported a fake mistake. Cohen, a professor at Johns Hopkins, certainly was a cheerleader for the Iraq invasion, but he did not join the administration as counselor to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice until 2007.  Abrams joined the NSC staff in 2001 and in 2002 was promoted to be head of Middle East policy, in which post he was one of the top Iraq war planners. During his second term, W. promoted Abrams again, to the number-two position at the NSC.

The president, and Sen. Rand Paul, who alerted him to the problems with Abrams, knew very well who the man was.

Photo credit: Terry Ashe/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images

By |February 10th, 2019|Comments Off on He’s Their Favorite Mistake
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