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14 June 2017

Dear Friends and Patriots,

          I know you all watch and listen to the news, so there’s not much I’m going to say here that’s actually new news, but I hope to impart a spin or two that may add something to your considerations.

          So as not to totally copy the format of one of my all-time favorite movie titles, “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly”, I’ll do things in reverse order.

          The terrible happened this morning.  You all have heard it by now.  A sniper hid himself on the grounds of the Alexandria, VA high school baseball field where the Republican Congressional baseball team was practicing.  He started firing from a covered position and wounded Congressman Steve Scalise, the House Majority Whip.  The gunman had some kind of semi-automatic rifle and evidently had a lot of ammunition with him.  Witness reports from those who were there indicate return fire came from Capitol Police who were assigned as Scalise’s protection detail.  If it were not for Scalise being there this morning there would be no protection at all for the team and the situation would have been dramatically worse.  As it is, Scalise took a round to one hip, two Capitol Police officers were hit, and two congressional staffers who were assisting the team.  The gunman is reported to be dead.

          Witness reports indicate somewhere between 100 and 200 rounds were fired during the melee.  One witness reported the attacker left his cover after shooting Congressman Scalise and crossed the baseball field, firing as he went.

          As of this writing there has been little information released on the gunman.  He was shot by law enforcement, but it’s unclear if it was a Capital Police officer or one of the local police who responded to a “shots fired” request for assistance.  As of this moment there’s no report of the condition of any of those who were wounded by the gunman, but initial reports are there are no life-threatening injuries.

          This will play out via the media for at least another week.  By the time we see the end of the coverage we’ll have our fill of it.  It’s early in this post-event analysis, so not much information of use is available.  The essential facts of what happened are a bit sketchy and there’s certainly not much there that’s forensically useful.  But, I do want to express my fear of what this event could indicate.

          I use ‘fear’ as a synonym for ‘apprehension’ or ‘worst-case speculation’.  I have no physical or emotional fear regarding this terrible event, but I do have a greater fear of what might have led to it as well as what it may portend.

          My fear is the motivation for the shootings relate directly to the Purple Revolution/Resist Summer harangues we’ve been seeing at protests across the country.  My fear is the constant, nearly hysterical drumbeat of negativity is doing what it’s intended to.  I expressed this in a recent article; my concern that the underlying purpose of the entire resistance movement is to motivate the lunatics among them to take direct action.  No one knows yet what caused the shooter to act.  We might never actually know.  But, my sense is he was motivated by a misplaced sense of patriotic desperation.

          ‘Patriotic’ in this instance doesn’t mean the same thing as when we use the word.  To progressives and their followers the word has an entirely different definition.  Progressives have an agenda, and anyone who blocks the “progress” they work for is branded an “enemy of freedom”, a fascist, a neo-Nazi, a misogynist, a homophobe, a Neo-Con, a misanthrope, a “despoiler of the planet”, and an enemy of all humankind.  Progressives define their enemies with a host of pejorative terms.   The negative branding is for a purpose – to dehumanize their political enemies.  It’s much the same as during WWII when the popular terms for our enemies then were:  Japs, Nips, Slopes, Krauts, Heinies, and Huns. America had pejorative names for the Korean and Chinese forces that faced us in Korea, and lots of names for the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese during the Vietnam War.  The purpose is always the same; to create distance between “us” and “them” and make “them” seem somehow less than us – lesser beings.  If such tactics succeed, how hard is it to motivate a troubled person to violent action?  I don’t yet know, but my initial thought is the man who did the shooting today was motivated by fearful patriotism, according to progressive definitions.

          If this turns out to be the case, stand by.  We are due for a lot more trouble than even I predicted.  This is one of those times when I pray I’m wrong.

          Let’s move on to some bad.

          There’s a growing attempt to find something, anything, to force President Trump out of office.  The newest gambit is to file suits against him that claim he is violating the Article I, Section 9, Clause 8 “Emoluments Clause” of the Constitution.   The Attorneys General of Maryland and Washington D.C. (D.C. has an Attorney General?  Who knew?) filed a lawsuit in federal court making that claim.  They state because Trump owns hotels everywhere and foreign governments want to curry his favor, they are leasing up his properties and will use those leases as leverage on the President.  Today there is word that 200 Democrat Congressmen intend to press their own case in federal court, with essentially the same claim

          A fact that’s worth knowing about the Emoluments Clause is that it has never been litigated.  No court has ever ruled on questions that regard the meaning, intent, and practical issues regarding the clause.  Up to now interpretations have been rendered by various Attorneys General and by Congressional legislative actions, but there is zero case law to consult.  There never was a need to in the past.  The principle question any court must answer before allowing the suits to proceed is, “Is there an actual need now?”  There is a lot of division on the question.  The Emoluments Clause was intended to protect government officials from undue foreign influence.  It’s not aimed at the President, but at all government officials equally. 

          Who knows where all this will go.  It’s a blatant attempt to weaken or end the Trump presidency, but will it work?  I think not.  It’s another diversionary waste of time.  Almost all the Democrats in Congress are intent on bringing Trump down, and they seem willing to go to any length to do so.  This particular play does have its risks to them, however.  If they proceed it could just be that the same can be done to many of them.  How many in Congress derive income or other consideration from foreign governments, in large or small portions?  If Attorney General Sessions decides to go on the offensive and turn the tables on Congress, how many Representatives and Senators could find themselves staring at almost exactly the same kind of lawsuit?  My guess is that number is very large, and includes Republicans as well as Democrats.  The “swamp” is wide and it is deep, and this may be yet another aspect of it to pursue.  If the door is opened and this litigation goes forward to court, don’t believe it’ll stop there.  This one has the potential to disrupt the entire government.

          As to the particulars of the allegations against Trump, I am somewhat ambivalent.  I agree there’s an appearance issue because Trump has international business interests as well as that new hotel just down the street from the White House.  But, I’m thinking he’s far too busy to pay a moment’s notice to anything regarding any of his hotels.  His sons are running things.  The President is fighting political wars on several fronts.  Does anyone actually think he pays any attention to who leases rooms in any of his properties?  Even if he did become aware, is it rational to think a fact of that nature would alter his course of action or any material decision?  I can’t believe it.  You shouldn’t either.  If he was a wage-slave shlub like me I might, but Donald Trump isn’t me, he’s The Donald; President The Donald!  He’s used to doing what he wants regardless of the input of others.  If that was not so, he never would have made the decision he did on the Paris Climate Accord.  Remember, his favorite daughter and only son-in-law were all for staying part of that agreement, yet President Trump did otherwise.  Does that sound like a man who would allow the fact of a lease of one of his properties sway him in the least?   Not even!

          Another bad – the Comey hearing.

          What a sorry performance that was!

          Comey has a distinct talent for pleasing both sides of any issue, while irritating both sides at the same time.  He’s a gamer, for sure.  He has mad political skills, but because he’s so vain and flawed they do him little good.  Comey is a consummate grandstander.  He loves cameras and press.  He always did.  It’s a character flaw that intrudes into his decision-making and professional behavior. 

          We saw the best and worst of Comey at his hearing last week.  He was honest at times, emoting for the cameras at times, and was demonstrably dishonest at times.  He was obviously in a pay-back mood.  He tried in several ways to stick it to President Trump and to Attorney General Sessions.  Then he tried to stick it to former Attorney General Lynch.  I suspect in the long run the only thing that might actually stick will be his assertions that Loretta Lynch materially affected his most noteworthy investigation.  Most of Comey’s testimony was self-serving and barely believable.  Even when he whined that he “lacked the strength” to do the clearly right things he was only attempting to excuse his obvious character defects. 

You have to wonder how anyone as high up in government as Comey could ever consider leaking a self-serving memo to the press in a way that removed his fingerprints.  Doesn’t it make you wonder how many times he’s done it?  Doesn’t it make you wonder where his ethical limits are?  Doesn’t it make you wonder why no one caught on to him long ago?  That’s just one thing.  There are many, many instances where Mr. Comey acted in questionable ways.  We should dismiss most things he had to say.  James Comey may be 6’8” tall, but in all other respects he comes off as a very little and even a venal man.  He’s miles away from that Boy Scout we were all led to believe he is.  His reputation now seems to be more a creation of the press than something derived from the years of outstanding and objective public service.  Let us be done with James Comey!

Now for a bit of good.

Did you catch Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ testimony before Congress?  I didn’t, but I did watch all the outtakes I could find.  I liked all I saw from him.

I admit that I had some misgivings about Sessions’ agreement to testify.  It could have gone badly if he’d adopted a different strategy.  Sessions isn’t exactly known as a combative guy.  He’s one of the nicest people around; certainly not one known for freely engaging in verbal jousts.  If he’d shown up yesterday with anything but his “A-game” it might have gone badly.  But he did show up with his “A-game” and he swept the battlefield. 

It was a great demonstration of self-confidence.  He was humble and easy-going much of the time, like the Jeff Sessions we know and love, yet when faced with hectoring and nonsensical assertions he emoted with just the right degree of ire.  He stood his ground and fought for himself, his office, and his boss - the President.  He was clear in deriding most of the Democrats’ assertions regarding Trump campaign collusion with Russians, meanwhile agreeing that any interference with American electoral processes is a matter of grave national concern.

The press is now making fun of Sessions’ use of “I don’t recall” and “I don’t remember” as answers to some questions.  Gee, they didn’t seem bothered when Hillary Clinton appeared before Congress and seemed not to remember much more than her name.  The question most Democrats fixated on regarded what Sessions remembered about the reception at the Mayflower Hotel he attended.  It may be true that the Russian ambassador attended also, but so did about 200 other people.  Yet the Democrats can’t seem to accept the Attorney General’s assertion that he doesn’t recall the ambassador as being at that reception or if he and the ambassador spoke to each other. 

Somehow, supposedly, Democrats want us all to believe Sessions and Ambassador Kislyak got together at a public event and discussed how the Russian government’s interference in the election was going.  Somehow that’s a rational question in their minds.  Somehow the fact Sessions responded with “I don’t recall” to essentially the same question asked in 10 different ways is supposed to indicate he has some kind of mental defect, is lying, or is stonewalling the Senate committee.  This is the sorry game we see Congress playing all too often these days.  Yet, they wonder why the people regard them so poorly.

I’m a bit troubled today.  I hope you are, too.  We all should be.

In Liberty,