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Gotcha!

 

Almost three months ago, I wrote a little post musing about the damage to some trees in and about the stream by the side of our little rural road, along the route that I take for my daily walks. It’s a delightful setting, a place where I can imagine Ratty and Mole adventuring and Toad decompensating over the smallest things, while Badger wanders around lugubriously trying to pick up all the pieces, sort everyone out, and carry on as normal. I have no doubt Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle’s cottage is in the undergrowth somewhere, and I think I’ve seen Jeremy Fisher sitting on the bank catching flies with his tongue.

So I was somewhat alarmed to see my little paradise disturbed as the trees were being systematically felled, one by one. I posited beavers as the culprits and wrote a short post, asking for feedback and opinions as to what was going on. With a singular (and spiritedly argumentative but ultimately unconvincing) exception, you all agreed with me that the damage was being caused by beavers.

Since then, I’ve had a little trail camera set up at what looked like one active condestruction site or another, trying to grab a stealthy photo of the guys at work. No dice. Clearly, these beavers know how to evade the paparazzi. They are the Greta Garbo of beaverdom. All they want is to be left alone. They’ve chewed through the strap holding the camera to the tree trunk. They’ve flung the thing five or six feet in the wrong direction. They’ve unmoored it from whatever was fastening it to the ground, or whatever was propping it up, and carefully placed it face down, times without number.

But, today, for once in my life, I got lucky. Actually, I’m lucky almost every day on these walks. In the past week, I’ve seen innumerable deer, three or four different kinds of ducks, including a couple of little duck families swimming around with their babies, a heron standing on one leg and darting its head under the water to catch whatever it is that heron catch, a flock or two of geese, and a mink crossing the road right in front of me. Oh, and a couple of baby muskrats playing on the stream bank.

Today, though, I thought was rather a dull day, until I turned at the halfway point and headed for home. A minute or two later, et voila!  Beaver. Two of them actually. Snapped a photo with my phone, just before they caught sight of me and splashed their way back into the water.

So mystery (not that there was much of one) solved.

Beaver.

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Returning the Republican Party to Eisenhower

 

Recently, one of our members mentioned that it was imperative to return the GOP away from its current path and urged a return, not just to the principles of Reaganism, but also to fall further back to the days of Dwight Eisenhower. The University of California-Santa Barbara runs an online archive of political documents pertaining to the history of the American executive called the American Presidency Project. It is an invaluable resource for primary research and it includes the national party platforms for most election years dating back to the 1840 Democratic platform under Martin Van Buren.

Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear! From out of the past come the thundering hoofbeats of the great horse Tricky Dick! Ike Eisenhower rides again!

Perusing the party platforms from 1952 and 1956 is an interesting exercise. There are things in there that are just too anachronistic to pay much attention to. Sections of both years are devoted to improving the post office. (From 1952: We pledge a more efficient and frequent mail delivery service. By 1956, there were 7 full paragraphs devoted to how much Ike had improved mail delivery.)

In 1952 they were none too pleased with the last 20 years of Democrats:

We charge that they have arrogantly deprived our citizens of precious liberties by seizing powers never granted.

We charge that they work unceasingly to achieve their goal of national socialism.

We charge that they have disrupted internal tranquillity by fostering class strife for venal political purposes.

We charge that they have choked opportunity and hampered progress by unnecessary and crushing taxation.

They claim prosperity but the appearance of economic health is created by war expenditures, waste and extravagance, planned emergencies, and war crises. They have debauched our money by cutting in half the purchasing power of our dollar.

We charge that they have weakened local self-government which is the cornerstone of the freedom of men.

We charge that they have shielded traitors to the Nation in high places, and that they have created enemies abroad where we should have friends.

We charge that they have violated our liberties by turning loose upon the country a swarm of arrogant bureaucrats and their agents who meddle intolerably in the lives and occupations of our citizens.

We charge that there has been corruption in high places, and that examples of dishonesty and dishonor have shamed the moral standards of the American people.

By 1956 they were damned pleased with themselves. “Our many economic and social advances of the past four years are the result of our faithful adherence to our 1952 pledge to reverse a 20-year Democratic philosophy calling for more and more power in Washington.” And then they went on to list how much more government that they had created. Such as the creating the Department of Health, Education and Welfare, creating a flood insurance agency, subsidized rents, expanded Social Security, paying farmers not to grow food through the Soil Bank Program, and, of course, lots of benefits for government employees.

We will vigorously promote, as we have in the past, a non-political career service under the merit system which will attract and retain able servants of the people. Many gains in this field, notably pay increases and a host of new benefits, have been achieved in their behalf in less than four years.

The Republican Party will continue to fight for eagerly desired new advances for Government employees, and realistic reappraisement and adjustment of benefits for our retired civil service personnel.

Nothing makes you want to vote Republican more than the knowledge that they’re taking care of each other in DC. Well, that and the pledges for an Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution, and a hardy endorsement of the United Nations.

In foreign affairs the 1956 GOP pledged Israel’s security and reinforcing the Palestinian mission to the UN. (Well, that worked, right?) Furthermore, the Republicans “…continue to oppose the seating of Communist China in the United Nations, thus upholding international morality.” The VP they re-nominated in the year of 1956 would completely destroy that notion as president in 1971.

And then there’s this on trade: “Barriers which impede international trade and the flow of capital should be reduced on a gradual, selective and reciprocal basis, with full recognition of the necessity to safeguard domestic enterprises, agriculture and labor against unfair import competition. We proudly point out that the Republican Party was primarily responsible for initiating the escape clause and peril point provisions of law to make effective the necessary safeguards for American agriculture, labor and business.” (Emphasis mine.)

There’s lot more. From balanced budgets to a return of the Gold Standard. It’s all pure gold.

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You Get What You Measure

 

Years ago, the head of a very large company’s IT department lived by the maxim: “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” So, the department’s managers decided to count completed work requests (aka “tickets”) as proxies for progress.

The results were predictable. Suddenly, programmers couldn’t talk to their projects’ database analysts without a ticket. Simple tasks that used to require a single ticket now required five. Management wanted tickets, they got tickets. What they didn’t get was progress.

The moral of the story: Bean counters get beans.

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To Dad on Father’s Day

 

Every Father’s Day for the last 40-odd years (ever since I moved out of the house) I would call my dad on Father’s Day and wish him a happy Father’s Day; even when we both still lived in Ann Arbor and I was going over later in the day to see him. Over the last few years he would try to call me first to wish me a happy Father’s Day; ater all, I had three sons, and dad thought I had done a great job raising them. We might chat a while about how things were going, especially in the 1980s and early 1990s when I was in Texas and he was in Michigan and long distance charges were a thing.

Since 2002, when I moved back to the Houston area from Palestine, TX and cell phones and national plans made long-distance charges obsolete, I called him every Saturday morning and we reviewed the events of the week. Not the big national events. The small ones in our lives and the lives of our family.

This year I cannot make that call. Dad died June 2, eight days before his 94th birthday.

Nor do I make that Saturday-morning call. I talked to mom on other occasions.

I did not miss making that Saturday-morning call last week, but yesterday it struck me what I had lost. Later that day I had a book signing. Telling my dad about it would have delighted him. Calling up anyone else and telling them about it would have seemed like bragging. I really missed not being able to talk with him.

The signing was a small thing, an event in Costco for a book I wrote two years ago, yet he would have been proud of me about it. Costco picked the book (The Battleship Texas) because it made a good Father’s Day gift, something he would have appreciated. I signed 30 copies. I suspect what I get in royalties will not equal my costs in gasoline and tolls, but I did it anyway, and enjoyed doing it. And I regret not being able to share that with my dad.

It does not matter whether you are six or 60; a child wants a father’s approval. It was true with me; it is true with my sons. They called me today to wish me a happy Father’s Day, and tell me what is happening in their lives. One son will be stopping by. He lives in Houston (the other two are in the Dallas-Fort Worth area) and stopping by that is what you do on Father’s Day.

Dad, I miss you. I wish I could call. Happy Father’s Day.

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To My Father, The Farmer, With Love

 

(I wrote this as a gift for Father’s Day when I was about 30. My dad had been diagnosed with lymphocytic leukemia several years earlier, and he was doing poorly at the time. He died a year and a half later. I didn’t edit or revise it, so just take it as it was written […]

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Whose Side Is the IG On?

 

From reactions across the board, it seems the DOJ Inspector General Report on FBI Investigation of Hillary Clinton is a Rorschach test. We see what we want to see. How can that be? In part, columns by Andrew McCarthy and Mollie Hemingway explain our reactions. The reactions follow from the nature of the writing of the report and suggest we must look elsewhere for solutions.

Do you see this?

Or this?

See the source image

Or this?

Andrew McCarthy writes “The IG Report May Be Half-Baked…But who knows?

You’ve got to hand it to Michael Horowitz: The Justice Department inspector general’s much-anticipated report on the Clinton-emails investigation may be half-baked, but if it is, it is the most comprehensive, meticulously detailed, carefully documented, thoughtfully reasoned epic in the history of half-bakery.

[…]

For all his assiduous attention to detail, IG Horowitz has weaved a no-common-sense report.

But why would the IG do this, especially with such an intensely political subject? Mollie Hemingway explains in “11 Quick Things To Know About The Inspector General’s Report:”

The best way to understand an inspector general (IG) report is less as a fiercely independent investigation that seeks justice and more like what you’d expect from a company’s human resources department.

[…]

At the end of the day, the HR department wants what’s best for the company. The FBI’s IG Michael Horowitz has a good reputation for good reason. But his report is in support of the FBI and its policies and procedures. As such, the findings will be focused on helping the FBI improve its adherence to those policies and procedures. Those who expected demands for justice in the face of widespread evidence of political bias and poor judgment by immature agents and executives were people unfamiliar with the purpose of IG reports.

It is the nature of inspectors general (IG) to present findings in a particular style, and with an aim quite different from that of a prosecutor presenting a case. No, the IG is not on Team Trump or Team Resistance. IGs are in the business of protecting their institution against threats arising from insiders failing to follow regulations or procedures. There are strong biases, towards finding members need more training or resources, and away from finding malfeasance within the organization. Deliberate wrongdoing is the last answer, after all other explanations have been exhausted.

Seen in the most negative light, this sort of institutional bias, not driven by personalities, may be said to blind members of the organization. Paul Mirengoff of Power Line, who is not a big Trump fan, calls Rod Rosenstein a cult hero.

More than any federal agency or department I’ve worked for, with, or against, the Justice Department resembles a cult. Its employees think they are special. They feel intense hostility towards the Department’s adversaries. They are fiercely loyal to the Department and compulsively committed to its ways of doing things. Outsiders are viewed with condescension and suspicion, if not contempt.

Obviously, many DOJ employees do not buy fully into the cult, but many do. Those who rise to the top tend to embrace it the most.

If this assessment is accurate, then America has a problem. The most powerful prosecutorial body, and the most powerful investigative body in the world, may be blind to any significant internal flaw. They may be prepared to use their power to push back on any deleterious claim. If so, then the answer is another Church Committee: “The United States Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities.” From Brookings.edu:

[T]he committee held a series of hearings and published 14 reports as it investigated the legality of intelligence operations by the CIA, NSA, and FBI, including attempts to assassinate foreign leaders, spying on Martin Luther King, Jr., and monitoring the political activities of other U.S. citizens.

The Church Committee reports, as well as a series of others since then, are available at the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. There is a history of Congress exercising its power over the entities it created and annually funds. The intelligence, justice, and government oversight committees have among them the full authority and proper clearances for any truly sensitive, as opposed to institutionally damaging, evidence.

The Framers of the Constitution acted in the shared belief that all men are fallible, and all human institutions imperfect. The system of mutual checks, baked into our basic law, stands as an ageless reminder that things can and likely will go wrong in parts of the government. The other parts are supposed to react and right the ship before the nation founders in a political storm.

I do not think special prosecutors, or other executive branch actors, are the right tool. The President and the Speaker of the House own this now. The President should order immediate, complete, unredacted compliance with the demands of the appropriate Congressional committees. The IG report, on top of House and Senate Chairmen’s multiple memoranda on agency obstruction, give President Trump all the cover and justification he needs.

The Speaker should be whipping contempt votes, not producing the kabuki theater of serial empty threats. The Republican House held the first black Attorney General in contempt. They refuse to do so with Rosenstein and Wray. Demand Congress do its duty, administering a correction to its creations.

Think of it like a high mileage service by your car mechanic: it will take more than a quick fluid check and tire rotation. Parts get worn with use, and need to be replaced or adjusted. That shimmy in the front end is not going away and is making the car unsafe to operate.

Demand Congress act, and then answer to the American people at the ballot box. Make every primary candidate and every incumbent answer now: contempt votes, yes or no? Public reports and proposed reform legislation before the midterm elections, yes or no? The administrative state is created by Congress and funded every year by Congress, so it is the leadership of Congress, and each of our members, who are responsible for what agencies are allowed to do or not do.

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What a slender thread we hang on

 

I remain pretty pessimistic about what will happen to actually clean up the corruption of the justice department, FBI and State departments (Putting IRS and EPA aside for now). It is amazing to me what a slender thread of events has given us what we know about the corruption now. Below is my list of […]

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The Problem Isn’t the Appearance of Bias; It’s the Reality of Bias

 

FBI Director Wray’s attempt at assuring the public that he will respond effectively to the IG report had the opposite effect on me.

He pledges to train employees to avoid even the appearance of bias. Who thinks this is a solution, given that the reality of bias that’s been exposed? Would the problem have been avoided if employees like Strzok and Page had been better trained to avoid the appearance of bias? Suppose they had—thanks to good training—refrained from sharing their views in texts and emails? No doubt that would have saved the FBI public embarrassment, but would it have prevented the wrongs the report uncovered from happening? Would the actual effects of their favoritism toward Hilary and animus toward Trump have been averted? (I like Andy McCarthy’s characterization: Kid gloves in the one case and scorched earth in the other.) No.

I’d rather he’d pledge to purge the FBI of employees who exhibit bias. I rather he say the kind of political motivation on display in IG report will no longer be tolerated in its employees. I rather he pledged to institute policies that would make it practically impossible for his agency to become so dominated by employees of one political stripe that bias is inevitable. For instance, how about trying to make sure than any team investigating a politician is duly balanced in terms of political affiliation?

I get that there are good reasons for not considering political affiliation in hiring. But when it becomes apparent that the not-considering has led to a grotesque one-sidedness, some kind of remedial measures are surely in order.

I’m open to suggestions.

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Oh Brother, What Has Happened to My Country?

 

Now that it’s official that the FBI was corrupted during the Obama administration, can we safely say that everything Obama touched was made filthy? Some really nasty people were empowered to do some really nasty things because they thought they would never get caught and it feels like they may be right.

Is anyone that matters going to be held accountable? I suspect not, and this is no small thing. And the level of contempt for Trump is still on display. In case anyone missed it, during the Director’s news conference when answering a reporter’s question, he essentially said he didn’t give a damn what the President thought about the Bureau.

I am sure that I am not the only American that feels deeply saddened by what’s happened over the last 10 or so years. The press has become completely untrustworthy and now it appears that all of our federal institutions have gotten just plain bad. Last night, as my wife and I were watching the news about the IG report, she actually began to cry for the state of our country. Our government shouldn’t do that to people.

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About a Refugee

 

Sometimes when I’m feeling ‘down’ and that life isn’t fair, I am moved to think about…

A person with whom I became friends while living at a retirement community here in Oregon. This lady, whom I will call Esther (not her real name), was a Jewish refugee who came to the United States in the 1940s. This is her story as she told it to me:

She was born in 1925 in the small German town (population about 30,000) of Suhl, in the Thüringen Mountains about 50 miles southwest of Berlin. Esther was the only child of Alfred and Elise, and her father was the general manager of a large department store.

When the Nazis came to power in Germany and began programs to eliminate the Jewish citizens, Alfred was dismissed from his job and forced into the German Jewish population of the unemployed and unemployable. Esther and her family were able to remain in their home until 1939, when the home was confiscated, and Alfred and Elise were arrested and transported with other Jews of Suhl to a holding camp near Berlin.

Before their arrest, her parents were able to find a place for the fourteen-year-old Esther in the household of an influential Jewish Rabbi. Her place with the Rabbi’s family was not that of a guest, though, but of a servant. The Rabbi and his invalid wife had a large home with spacious grounds that included a building that housed their large collection of exotic chickens from all over the world. As the sole household staff, Esther’s duties included caring for the chickens, the grounds, the housekeeping, cooking and tending to the bedridden wife – all by a young girl accustomed to the privileges of an only child in a prosperous household. She remembered this time, in part, as one of never getting enough sleep.

From the time of her parents’ arrest in the middle of the night, Esther never learned of their fate. For a time, the Nazi propaganda machine maintained the fiction that arrested Jews were merely being “relocated” to lands to the east (conquered Poland) where they would be settled and allowed to resume normal lives. She lived in hope that she and her parents would be reunited at any day.

To his great credit, the Rabbi worked diligently for nearly three years to obtain an exit visa and an entry permit that would allow Esther to leave Germany for America. After many false starts and failed attempts, Esther was finally notified to report to a local office to receive her exit visa. She arrived outside the government office early in the morning of the appointed day and joined a large crowd waiting on the sidewalk. Finally, late in the afternoon, after waiting all day with no movement the crowd was notified that they should return the next day. This waiting was repeated for two more days before Esther finally returned home with a visa to leave Germany. After more effort, the Rabbi was able to locate a Jewish family in New York who would sponsor Esther and pay her fare. The Rabbi did all this, spending the influence he had within the Nazi hierarchy through his wife’s family, even though without Esther, he would have no household help or assistance in caring for his wife.

The now seventeen-year-old Esther, speaking no language other than German, traveled third-class on a steamship during wartime to New York to meet a family who would hold her fate in their hands. During the journey, Esther was tormented by the thought that her parents would be unable to locate her to join them in their new home in the East. She was met at the dockside in New York and taken to the apartment home of a large, three-generation family and learned that she would be expected to work as a maid for another family in the city. She was given her own bedroom in the sponsors’ crowded apartment, but the grandfather was in the habit of wandering about in the nude. Esther said she didn’t get much sleep for fear he would come into her room.

She had been given the address of a relative of her mother who lived in Iowa, so in desperation, Esther wrote to this cousin asking her to send her train fare so she could leave New York. About a month after landing in New York, she found herself traveling cross-country to visit a relative whom she had never met and with whom she had not even a common language.

The cousin’s family didn’t have a lot to share, but they did provide Esther with a place to live and helped her find work. They also knew an older Jewish businessman who was looking for a wife. Arrangements were soon made for a wedding that Esther described as a ‘business agreement’ that had nothing to do with romance.

The couple made a home in Iowa and raised a son and daughter. Esther, who still had difficulty with the English language when I knew her, told me very little about her married life other than that she was a widow, her son became a physician in the Midwest and her daughter, from whom she was largely estranged, lived in Oregon.

Even though Esther, who was 90 when I met her, had a life of extreme hardship and heartbreaking disappointments, she was a very positive, generous person who was always eager to help others and was possessed of a remarkable sense of humor. She did not have a ‘victim’ mentality but did tell me that her one regret in life was never having been able to learn the fate of her parents.

I had read of the remarkable work the American Holocaust Memorial Museum does in tracking individual victims of the Holocaust, so I volunteered to contact them to see if they could provide information on the fate of Esther’s parents. Esther agreed and gave me her parent’s places and dates of birth, which I gave to the Museum. After a few exchanges, they provided me with photocopies of the actual German records of the transport and final disposition of Esther’s parents. By the time I received this information, Esther had moved to a nearby assisted living facility.

With the documents in hand, and taking along a mutual friend for moral support, I visited Esther and asked if she was sure she wished to know about her parents, knowing that the information would be distressing. She insisted that she did want to know, so I gave her the awful truth: When they were arrested they were taken to a camp near Berlin, where they remained together for about one year. They were then separated and Elise was sent to the “killing fields” of Lithuania and immediately murdered. Alfred was in the Berlin camp for an additional year and was then also sent east to the “killing fields” and murdered.

I gave Esther the documents I had obtained, and my friend and I did what we could to comfort her in her tears and distress. Esther thanked us and left the room. When I attempted to visit her later she refused to speak to me except to say, regarding the information I had given her, “My son could have done that!” I’m still not sure if she was dismissing my efforts or if she was mourning the fact that her son, the doctor, hadn’t obtained the information for her years earlier. I never saw Esther again.

“Esther” lives in my memory as a noble exemplar of the resilience of the human spirit. Despite the traumatic events she had gone through, she remained a positive, generous-spirited and fun-loving person… who still played a mean game of Yahtzee.

Something I learned from “Esther”–

On the cold February 1957 night as my squad of paratroopers of the elite 101st Airborne Division shivered in the dark under a steady rain; each so lost in his own cold and hungry misery that even the usual muttered complaints had ceased as we shuffled our feet and waited by the roadside for the truck that would take us back to camp for our first hot meal after three days spent on a long-range scouting patrol exercise in the wooded farmlands of south-central Kentucky. Each of us was thinking to himself that surely things could never get much worse than this for us young men who were, in our own opinion at least, just about the toughest, most gung-ho soldiers in the U.S. military.

After a few minutes of silence, Bobby Lee, a lanky and normally taciturn Kansan, murmured as if to himself in an exaggeratedly plaintive voice, “I can stand anything but discomfort!” Bobby’s comment was so outrageously out of sync with what all of us had been privately thinking that we all burst into laughter, then spent the remainder of our wait for transport trying to outdo each other with comically exaggerated descriptions of our individual toughness.

I thought about this episode often in later years; about how a simple, humorous phrase transformed a group of thoroughly worn-out, hungry, cold and miserable individuals into laughing and enthusiastic unit of men ready for any challenge.

From this simple occurrence, I learned that what we experience depends much less upon external circumstances than our personal reaction to them. My friend “Esther” demonstrated this truth in her survival and in her outlook on life.

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A Tale of Two “Matters”

 

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness ….

It seems like Dickens was a prophet.

It is the age of hypocrisy. It is the age of injustice. It is the age of political correctness. It is the age of doublethink. It is the age of “No Consequences” … but only for those who speak the approved language of ‘Newspeak’. However, for those who deign to think for themselves, refuse to kowtow and who oppose the status quo demanded by their “betters”, it is the age of the foolishness called the Special Counsel.

Once upon a time, in a galaxy far, far away, one Barack Obama was the President of the United States of America. His Attorney General was Loretta Lynch. His Party’s candidate for POTUS to replace him was Hillary Rodham Clinton. She was under investigation by the FBI. Internally, they referred to it as the “MYE” (Mid Year Exam). Text messages of FBI agents in control of this exact same Hillary Clinton email criminal investigation (a more accurate description) reveal that there was pressure to finish it quickly and exonerate Hillary completely. She was soon to be the next President after all.

Dutifully, the head of the FBI, James Comey, obeyed AG Lynch when she ordered him to call it a “Matter” rather than an investigation (“criminal” having already been discarded from the get-go). The always smarmy, klutzy, tone-deaf and “queasy” Mr. Comey quickly determined that this “isn’t a hill worth dying on” and that he would obey AG Lynch. But, being James Comey, he also had to write down his thoughts to commend his intellect, strategy and ‘higher loyalty’ …. [uh huh] He wrote (and testified):

“At one point, the attorney general had directed me not to call it an investigation but instead to call it a matter, which confused me and concerned me,” Comey said. “That was one of the bricks in the load that led me to conclude I have to step away from the department if we’re to close this case credibly.”

So … the MYE is dutifully tied up and wrapped in a neat bow. Comey exonerates her with his pre-written, pre-determined and pre-posterous press conference (now determined by the IG to be insubordinate). As a part of this farce, Hillary’s legal team gets the Unicorn Option and the greatest of deference from the DOJ/FBI for what was clearly “criminal” activity that Comey presented himself at his bungled clownish press conference.

Meanwhile, President Trump, for non-criminal activity, and without any evidence or proof of Russian “collaboration” is given a proctology exam and his lawyers and former campaign advisers subjected to the Gestapo tactics of James Comey’s dear friend, Robert Mueller. And it is now also clear that after more than a year of this “Russian stuff” that the case for the Special Counsel was all “Trumped-up” by the same DOJ/FBI/CIA/DNI co-conspirators (with notably egregious behavior by Clapper and Brennan).

In his laughable book tour Comey also stated that it was his full intention to get Mueller named as a Special Prosecutor after he was fired by President Trump. Comey himself colluded with Mueller just hours after he was appropriately fired. And within one week, Deputy AG Rosenstein (who incredibly wrote a memo supporting the firing of Comey) appointed Mueller as Special Counsel. To investigate a matter of Russian collusion?!

Well at least it seems that this foolish madness is coming to an end. Even GOP Senate Majority Leader McConnell is calling for it now. Finally. Following IG Horowitz’ report, justice demands it.

But what about Hillary? What about her criminal activity and the DOJ/FBI/CIA/DNI’s ‘unicorn option’ previously given it? After the IG Report, a re-opening of this case is also demanded. For the sake of justice. Perhaps a Grand Jury has already been convened by U.S. Attorney Huber in Utah and is ready to file a case and begin prosecution?

I love symmetry. May Hillary now receive what’s coming to her … the Trump Option.

“It is a far, far better thing that we do, than we have ever done.”

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Hidden in the IG Report: The Case for the Collusion to Elect Trump is Confirmed

 

Former FBI Director Comey’s concern that collusion contributed to Donald Trump’s election has been established. What was not confirmed until yesterday was the lengths to which he and his FBI assured the election of the man he clearly opposed. He and his cohort colluded overtly, informationally, or by deception to elect Hillary Rodham Clinton and by so doing, elected President Donald J. Trump. Say what you will, but Comey’s July, 2016 dance back and forth on Hillary’s criminal actions and his rewriting the law to extract her from prosecution convinced more than few Americans in Iowa, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin that enough was enough.

Comey’s effort to embellish his reputation with the late revelation of the Weiner investigation may have served his own campaign to rehab his reputation. It came at a point in the election when Comey thought Clinton would win, thus allowing him a last minute confirmation that his July pardon was just and fair. In fact, it actually hurt her reputation far more than he imagined – so tone deaf is Comey, and his colluders at the FBI.

But in all candor, what was Comey the Colluder to do? He was trapped by the reality that sooner or later the Weiner horde of confidential emails would be disclosed. So he let it sit for weeks, polished the apple, revealed it as he was obligated to do (Scout’s Honor), and then promptly closed it.

The FBI is a national police force. The Constitution relegated police powers to the states. Its creation came around the time that Progressivism and law and order were mingling to devise a rationalization for a small, but coordinating ‘investigative’ agency of the Federal government.

The FBI has on at least two occasions (and many more), proven it is a dangerously and politically motivated body. From its inception as J. Edgar Hoover’s pulpit of power, the FBI was a structural threat to our republic. The excuse that this is a just a “few bad apples” is just that. This is a concentration of power, operating in secret, and working to preserve itself, and its interests on a virtually unlimited budget. Think Star Chamber, but apparently devoid of stars. It is not that it is just a few bad apples. It is that it only takes a few bad apples to commandeer an election when you control the national police.

Kings and dictators rely upon national police forces. We do not have a king, nor a dictator. Which makes the FBI even more dangerous. It is now so powerful, it can serve as a tipping point in the political process. Ted Steven’s was removed from office just in time to assure a Democratic Senate sixty seat majority and launch America down the path of the Obamacare roller coaster. Ted Stevens may have been guilty of something, but the Attorney General’s Office armed with its police force, the FBI, did not play fair. Would this have been possible without the FBI?

Special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, using FBI resources, investigated Scooter Libby for a crime Libby did not commit. In the end, ‘Fitz’ alleged he committed a different crime of perjury (though Libby could not recall events, he was charged with perjury or not being fully honest, something not hard to prove in a DC courtroom when a Republican, a Cheney Chief of Staff, was the defendant). At the time, Fitzgerald compared Libby’s actions to “throwing sand in the umpire’s face.”

How ironic that James Comey, Patrick Fitzgerald’s close friend, has been exposed for doing just that. Comey not only presided over a lax investigation, prejudged, made up law, rewrote law, usurped power and participated in “de facto” collusion (if not in fact naked collusion) in the Clinton case, he convinced many that the government under the Obama administration, with its failure to fulfill promises, sloppy seizure of healthcare, and open deceit was not only untrustworthy, but likewise dangerous. Thus, we got Trump.

Trump was an outsider. He was not mealy-mouthed. He was not coated with years of unctuous political relationships. He might be rude and careless, ruthless even, but the Obama perfidy backed by bureaucratic complicity and casuistry (IRS, EPA, HHS, ATF, DoJ) demanded redirection, not a readjustment. Comey, and his fellow travelers, cinched the deal.

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Thoughts Upon Turning 80

 

That’s what I look like at 80, my wife Marie at 75. I’m largely bald, have one of those ruddy faces that the Scots/Irish get when they grow old, and have developed a bit of a paunch. I”m going to have to lay off the beer. Nah. I’ve been anticipating turning 80 for months. Like […]

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Dictator Trump?

 

I’ve been genuinely puzzled by the assertion on the part of Trump opponents that Trump is a dictator, wants to be a dictator, is like Hitler, is a threat to democracy, and so on. It makes no sense. You’d think that a President who is trying to shrink the size of government would be regarded as exactly the opposite of a wannabe dictator.

But I think I’ve figured out what the confusion is. Liberals think that a President who enacts policies they don’t like, regardless of how legal and above board and constitutional the process is, must be a tyrant. Just because they don’t like the policy.

So, if Trump signs a lawful executive order limiting immigration, liberals think he’s acting like a dictator even though that is one of the powers granted to the President by the Constitution.

Once you realize this is the way liberals think, it becomes clear that there is not and never has been any basis for saying that there is any threat to the Constitution or to Democracy and that Trump is far from being anything like a dictator.

To the Liberal/Left I say: If Trump lawfully enacts a policy you guys don’t like, he’s not just doing his job, he’s doing what he promised to do when he got elected. That doesn’t make him a dictator.

As for pardoning himself, maybe he can. But it’s a moot point because he can’t duck impeachment that way, and impeachment and conviction by Congress is the lawful way to remove a President. Congress would simply ignore a pardon as being irrelevant.

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In Ireland, the Penal Laws Are Returning Under the Guise of Secular Liberalism

 

The Penal Laws were acts passed during the 17th and 18th century by the Parliament of England and Wales gradually eroded and then viciously reduced the civil liberties of nonconforming Protestants and Catholics in the islands of Great Britain and Ireland. Its most long-lasting and profound effects were felt in Ireland, where the laws were designed to obliterate the dignity of Roman Catholics and reduce beaten, defenseless, and powerless Irish Catholics into a third-class of citizenry. The Penal Laws created a form of apartheid long before South Africa and the American South.

Its difficult to go through the individual Laws, as there were several acts over the centuries beginning in the early 17th century until they gradually were overturned from 1780-1832, but the effects of the rulings or legal discrimination they allowed are most important. The laws applied to all nonconforming Protestants as well, but mainly Catholics faced the full force of the law. Here are some of them:

  • Catholics were not allowed to vote.
  • Catholics could not own land.
  • Catholics were banned from becoming military officers.
  • Catholics could not own guns (which is where your Framers realised the necessity of owning them).
  • Catholics were banned from all the major professions — no lawyers, doctors, judges.
  • Catholics could not stand for elected office.
  • Catholics had to support a foreign church — the Church of Ireland.
  • Catholics could not set up schools or any other social buildings used to promote Catholic views.
  • Finally, the practice of the Catholic religion was outlawed. Any priest could be hanged if caught saying the Catholic Mass.

These acts have left a long shadow over Ireland. The countryside of Ireland is littered with monuments to the injustice of those dark times. The above picture is one such reminder near me. It shows a Mass Bush which commemorates the isolated areas away from villages and towns that priests risked their lives to offer the Sacrifice of the Holy Mass and attend to the spiritual need of their parishioners.

So why am I sharing all the above? Well, that’s sadly simple. As many of you know, I spent the good part of last month writing about the abortion debate in Ireland and the tragic defeat of the pro-life protections in our Constitution. However, all the while that was going on, there were subtle political moves of a very anti-Catholic nature taking place in Ireland’s Parliament as the populace was focused on the referendum.

Last month, the Irish Education Minister Richard Bruton (of the supposedly conservative party, Fine Gael, the same “conservative” party that introduced abortion on demand) introduced legislation into Dail Eireann that bars Catholics from discriminating between its followers’ children and a secular parent’s child for any reason in their applications to get into a Catholic ethos education facility. This may not seem too disconcerting for those of you who read only these lines. However here is the rub.

The law applies only, and I mean only, to Catholic schools. No other religious school, if it’s a “minority faith” has to abide by this law because this law only takes effect for Catholic ones. Only Catholic schools are forbidden from choosing their followers’ children vs. a non-believer’s child. The sad thing is nobody, and I mean nobody, saw the irony of this. Catholics in 2018 forbidden from having their own criteria for choosing their own students, yet every other faith and secular school can. I cannot imagine this is constitutional, but apparently the Attorney General here says it will be. Sadly, not one bishop spoke up over the outrageousness of this in a public manner.

With abortion on demand now soon to be legal, and courtesy of the huge majority they received, the supposed “conservative” Fine Gael government under Leo Varadkar (our Prime Minister) and his ambitiously toadying Health Minister Simon Harris have decided to force through laws that would allow General Practice Doctors to take part in the vast majority of abortions. Whilst they say they will allow individual GPs to be exempt from taking part in abortion through a conscientious objection, the same government insists that if they refuse to do an abortion they (doctors) must then refer their patient to a doctor who will do it.

Which, of course, to anyone with logic or a brain is taking part in an abortion. Any Catholic doctor would know exactly what this means, as would any secular pro-life doctor: they have to help with an abortion. Many Catholic doctors will refuse to do so, and if the government gets its way, politicians and their media bosom buddies (heaping continuous praise on brave government’s totalitarian actions) want it their way, those doctors will be struck off. If you want to see a look into the totalitarian madness, read this article published in the Irish Times (Ireland’s answer to your New York Times and just as bad). So much for being pro-choice. Once again, not a single Bishop has (to my knowledge) said a thing about this in Ireland.

In related news, the massive victory of the pro-abortion secularists has emboldened them now to go for a key prize that has long thwarted their ambitions in Ireland: the religious ethos of so many hospitals. Due to the incompetence and poverty of the early Irish state, many hospitals in Ireland had to be set up by Catholic religious orders. No one else had the money or the willing staff at the time. This has always been a bugbear for the secular liberals in Ireland. Now with the passing of abortion on demand, Ireland’s supposedly conservative Prime Minister Leo Varadkar (a vapid, vain, media-leaking and -loving lightweight) has turned his sights on Ireland’s state-funded but Catholic-owned hospital network. He has said in Ireland’s Parliament Dail Eireann that hospitals receiving state money must perform abortions in accordance with the law when it is allowed. Pressed on this, he said frequently that the huge vote in favour of abortion means they have to … democracy has become an end of itself.

As many of you know, no serious Catholic hospital in ethos can perform abortions. They will not. So now they are left with a choice. Surrender to the government? Do the religious orders sell their assets to the government but thus benefit from the evil intentions of what government has to do? Do they try to close hospitals and risk the full wrath of secular, viciously anti-Catholic media who would love them to do this and an Irish public that (I’m sad to say) shall not support them and a government dominated by secularists in government and in opposition who want to destroy the church’s influence? Do they go the legal route and hope for the best?

Though no bishop has yet said a word.

Before the referendum result, I was talking with another history teacher about Ireland and she made a very accurate point: Ireland does not do balance well at all. We go from one extreme to the other. She was dead on.

We have gone from Catholic authoritarianism to secular liberalism; pluralism appears to have bypassed us. I fear, however, that this new authoritarianism will do far much damage than the previous. God help us. Pray for Ireland.

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What’s Wrong With This Picture?

 

When I moved to this area of Tennessee some five or six years ago, we purchased a house and solicited cost-plus bids from several general contractors to make some modifications and add a couple of rooms before we moved in. My bid documents required the use of legal residents only. I advised bidders I had no objection to paying a premium to satisfy that requirement. The contractor I really wanted to do the work was explicit: He used carpenters that weren’t here legally and he didn’t want to use any others. So, we agreed to part ways.

Then another contractor said he was willing, but wanted me to tell him how to identify legal residents. My guess is that he knew the answer because when I began to research, I first identified those documents easily forged. Then I discovered there were ways one could be reasonably certain but, at least here and at that time, I couldn’t legally ask for that type of proof: To do so opened one to lawsuits at the least. (Don’t ask for details, I don’t remember and I’m not interested in repeating the research.)

Okay, fast forward to this morning. I saw, in the local paper, advertisements for labor to harvest tobacco. It was advertised by the state government and gave the name of the hiring company. The pay rate is $11.19/hour. Then I saw this phrase: “free housing provided, at no cost to workers, including US workers…” Which is when I turned to the wife in exasperation and asked the rhetorical question in the headline.

(If this job sounds attractive to you, PM and I’ll give you the details.)