Monday, April 30, 2018

May Day : Spring Celebrations, Work, Saint Paul, King David, and Young DeEbony Groves

BREAKING NEWS : Israeli Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, speaking during a news conference at the Ministry of Defense in Tel Aviv on Monday, revealed a cache of files he said were obtained from Iran and prove Tehran ran a secret program to build nuclear weapons. • • • • • • • • • TODAY IS MAY DAY. A holiday all over the world, except in the United States -- and Switzerland, where the idea is to work on Workers' Day. • • • WHY CELEBRATE THE FIRST OF MAY? Wikipedia says : "May Day is a public holiday usually celebrated on May 1. It is an ancient northern hemisphere spring festival and a traditional spring holiday in many cultures. Dances, singing, and cake are usually part of the festivities. In the late 19th century, May Day was chosen as the date for International Workers' Day by the Socialists and Communists of the Second International to commemorate the Haymarket affair in Chicago. International Workers' Day may also be referred to as "May Day," but it is a different celebration from the traditional May Day." • International Business Times says : "As most of the world -- from Dublin to Dhaka -- celebrates International Workers Day, with demonstrations, commemorations and vacations for the working class, Americans are toiling away on the job. Why hasn’t May Day caught on in America? In two words, anarchists and communists. The United States’ absence -- almost alone among nations -- from the international festivities is all the more ironic, since the day has American origins. On May 1, 1886, workers in Chicago, many of them immigrants, walked out of their jobs en masse, striking for an eight-hour work day. A few days later, at a labor rally in Haymarket Square, a bomb exploded, killing 11 people, including seven police officers. Four anarchists were hanged, on flimsy evidence, and the general strike dissipated. A few years later, in Europe, a newly formed collection of socialist and labor parties called for a demonstration on May 1 to honor the “Haymarket Martyrs” and sustain the struggle for an eight-hour work day. Over the years, the cause evolved into a broader celebration of labor unions and workers' rights and spread around the world. Governments -- and not just Communist ones -- embraced the day as a public holiday: Workers in Kenya, Brazil, India, France, Germany and elsewhere all have the day off." • • • WHAT IS WORK? Since it is May day, as it is called all over Europe, let's consider work as a moral concept. Of course, we all know that work is more than a concept. Almost everybody has to work in order to provide shelter, food and clothes for themselves and for family. And, work can take the form of volunteering, caregiving, or the most important of all work -- raising children and leading a family. • But, work has a moral quality as well. Christians heed the advice of Jesus to work for "good" and as a sign of faith. Much of that teaching has its roots in the Old Testament, where Jewish prophets, historians and kings encouraged work for all God's people. • The High Calling blog in the Theology of Work Project website wrote recently : "In fact, the Bible doesn't make a dichotomy between work and life because in the ancient world, work life and family life were often integrated. Families worked together in their family trade, whether in agriculture or commerce. For much of human history, people worked on the family farm. Or your home also served as your butcher shop. Jesus probably didn't have to leave the house to do his carpentry with Joseph; they likely worked together within their own house. It wasn't until the industrial revolution and the rise of factories that more people worked outside the home. Even though the modern world is significantly different from the biblical world, Scripture still speaks to our need for work/life balance. A key Colossians 3:23-24 : 'Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.' So all Christians' work is done on behalf of Christ....Wives and husbands are to be in loving relationship to one another. Fathers are not to embitter or exasperate their children. In other words, good work situations and healthy family relationships go hand in hand. This would have made perfect sense in biblical times when coworkers were probably also family members. Even today, unhappy family situations can prevent us from doing good work, and problems at work can cause conflict at home. So what practical steps can we take to have better work/family balance? Paul isn't very specific in the details, but he is very concerned with the big-picture principles. In verses 12-15, he tells us to clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, to forgive one another and to love each other, and to let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts....The people in the biblical world integrated their work and family life more closely than we usually do today. One practical implication is that we might try to reintegrate our worlds so that we don't have too strict a barrier between work and family. Instead of keeping long hours at the office away from the family, we can look for opportunities to work from home." • Today, technology gives us many options for work that were unthought-of in blblical times -- flexible work, telecommuting, teleconferencing, working at home, branching out into web-based entrepreneurial businesses. Current technologies provide more time for family, children and avocations. Today, sometimes work and avocations blend. Earning a living can also mean supporting favored causes, sports, the arts, or lifestyles. • But, the downside is the modern Big Government's desire to make itself indispensable through its subsidies to many who should be working instead of using welfare "entitlements." It has created a social environment in which work and entitlement clash -- with those who work resenting those whose non-work requires a bigger and bigger chunk of their taxes. • • • PRESIDENT TRUMP'S EXECUTIVE ORDER LINKS WELFARE AND WORK. Cass Sunstein wrote an opinion piece for Bloomberg News on April 24 that makes good sense out of President Donald Trump’s “Executive Order on Reducing Poverty in America.” Sunstein says that the EO has produced the expected political reactions : "Because it focuses on saving taxpayer money and strengthening work requirements for federal programs, many conservatives are celebrating it, while many progressives have attacked it as punitive and dehumanizing. As it turns out, it’s a lot more interesting and subtle than either side has seen -- and potentially more constructive." • sunstein explains that the EO emphasizes the importance of helping five groups that struggle to find employment -- single parents, the formerly incarcerated, the homeless, substance abusers and 'disconnected youth.' The emphasis on these groups makes perfect sense in light of the findings of the best book on poverty in the last decade : 'Scarcity,' by Sendhil Mullainathan and Eldar Shafir. Mullainathan and Shafir argue that when you are poor, a big part of the problem is cognitive : You have to focus on how to deal with your immediate economic situation. You don’t have a lot of time for anything else. In that respect, being poor is a lot like being hungry, lonely or extremely busy. Your current circumstances take over your mind. That means that you are likely to neglect other matters (including the long-term). It also means that unwelcome, unanticipated problems and tasks (say, a health issue or an obligation to deal with the public authorities) can impose an unbearable toll. Mullainathan and Shafir help explain why Trump’s five groups find it unusually challenging to find and keep good jobs. If you are a single parent, you have to focus on childrearing. If you were incarcerated, you face continuing stigma and suspicion. Related problems are faced by homeless people, substance abusers and young people who lack social networks that provide essential information and emotional support. In a section that reads as if based directly on Mullainathan’s and Shafir’s work, Trump’s order refers specifically to the importance of 'strong social networks as a way of sustainably escaping poverty.' ” • The Trump EO directs government agencies to act in accordance with its “principles of economic mobility,” and to review existing regulations and guidance documents to ensure that they are consistent with those principles. Trump’s order is an occasion for improving the take-up rate for many programs designed to help people to find work. In view of what we know from Mullainathan and Shafir, the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, in collaboration with Cabinet agencies, should undertake a sustained review of existing paperwork and reporting requirements, which sometimes have the unintended consequence of undermining programs designed to promote economic opportunity. According to the most recent federal report, the American public spends an astonishing (and disgraceful) 9.78 billion hours on federal paperwork each year. The Treasury Department (meaning the IRS, mostly) is responsible for nearly 7 billion of those hours; the Department of Health and Human Services accounts for over 600 million. There is no question that poor people -- seeking education, training and jobs -- are often deterred and stymied by form-filling burdens and reporting requirements from federal, state and local governments. Trump’s executive order should be taken as an occasion for radical simplification. It should also be a basis for an effort to reduce occupational licensing requirements, which make it unnecessarily hard or even impossible for people to enter the workforce." • As Sunstein notes, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt can be seen as the founder of the modern welfare state....Indeed, he called for a Second Bill of Rights, including a right to a decent home, adequate medical care and “protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident and unemployment.” But, Roosevelt was also an advocate of the importance of work, and his programs were generally designed to encourage it. “When any man or woman goes on a dole,” Roosevelt said, “something happens to them mentally, and the quicker they are taken off the dole the better it is for them the rest of their lives.” So, Sunstein states that Trump’s EO : "directs officials to track whether measures are actually helping people to escape poverty by finding jobs and avoiding long-term dependence. It also calls for information-sharing, so that states and localities can learn from successes and failures. What an excellent idea. With a clear focus on the most vulnerable among us, it’s past time for a sustained attack on existing barriers to entry into the job market -- emphatically including those of the government’s own making." • It is not easy to find any media praise for any Trump action. That Bloomberg singled out his work-related EO says a lot about not only the need to solve the growing US dependency on Big Government, but also on the obvious good sense of President Trump in addressing the issue in practical and easy to implement terms. • • • THE PROTESTANT WORK ETHIC. It has often been called that -- because the various Dissenters (such as Puritans, Quakers, Anabaptists) who were the first and most politically instrumental colonists of America believed that following what the Bible said about work was a key to being a good Christian and a good citizen. What does the Bible say about work. On this May Day -- or Workers Day -- let's just read some of the Old and New Testament's commentary about work. • Proverbs 13:4 The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied. • Proverbs 6:6-8 Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise. Without having any chief, officer, or ruler, she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest. • Proverbs 12:24 The hand of the diligent will rule, while the slothful will be put to forced labor. • 2 Thessalonians 3:10-12 For even when we were with you, we would give you this command : If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living. • Proverbs 14:23 In all toil there is profit, but mere talk tends only to poverty. • 1 Corinthians 10:31 So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. • 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 ...aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one. • 1 Timothy 5:8 But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. • Ephesians 4:28 Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. • Exodus 20:9-10 Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. • Matthew 5:16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. • Matthew 9:37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. • Luke 10:7 And remain in the same house, eating and drinking what they provide, for the laborer deserves his wages. Do not go from house to house. • Proverbs 12:11 Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows worthless pursuits lacks sense. • • • SERVING OTHERS. It is a testament to work that Popes have for centuries called themselves "The Servant of the Servants of God." A Benedictine monk has written this : "Our patron saint, Pope Gregory the Great (540-604), did not coin the phrase that the Pope is the servant of the servants of God, but he was the first to make extensive use of the phrase and thus make it such a quotable quote through the ages. A deeper sign of Jesus’ infinite patience with his disciples (and us) is his assurance that they will sit on twelves thrones to judge the tribes of Israel....We tend to think that being a judge means being judgmental; that judging the Twelve Tribes of Israel means accusing them of their wrongdoings. But what if a judge is a servant? In his response to the disciples’ infighting, Jesus is surprisingly unjudgmental, although he makes it clear that they haven’t gotten it right just yet. Jesus continues to serve them through his example, such as washing their feet and leading them gently but firmly to a new way of seeing the world and, more importantly, living in it. The thing is, Jesus didn’t judge the disciples (and us) by browbeating them; Jesus judged them by serving them humbly. The twelve tribes of Israel is an expression for a renewed Israel, Gentiles and Jews alike. Judging them, then, means serving them the way Jesus served them and the way Jesus serves us. It is our acts of loving service that will judge all people who exercise lordship by browbeating others. The Pope isn’t the only one called to be a servant of the servants of God. All of us are so called." • Indeed, the title given by the popes to themselves appears in important papal documents -- Gregory the Great was imitated by his successors. John the Deacon states that Gregory assumed this title as a lesson in humility to John the Faster. Prior to the controversy with John, addressing St. Leander in April, 591, Gregory employed this phrase, and even as early as 587, according to Ewald, while still a deacon. Even civil rulers, such Alphonsus II, King of Spain (b. 830), and Emperor Henry III (b. 1017), applied the term to themselves. But, since the 12th century, it has been used exclusively by the Pope. • What does the Bible say about serving others. • Colossians 3:24 know that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. • Ephesians 6:7 With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men. Know that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free. • 1 Chronicles 22:15-16 Moreover there are workmen with you in abundance : woodsmen and stonecutters, and all types of skillful men for every kind of work. Of gold and silver and bronze and iron there is no limit. Arise and begin working, and the LORD be with you. 1 Chronicles 22:15-16 is King David speaking about the preparations he made in the last years of his reign for the establishment of the kingdom in the future under his successors. All these preparations had reference to the firm establishment of the public worship of the Lord, in which Israel, as the people and congregation of Jahve ["the Lord"], might show its faithfulness to the covenant, so as to become partakers of the divine protection, and the blessing which was promised. The Old Testament tells us that the Lord had not granted the building the Temple to David, but He had given him the promise that his son should carry out that work. So, King David made preparations, after the site where the Temple should be built had been pointed out to him, to facilitate the execution of the work by his successor -- David provided the necessary labor and materials for the building of the temple (1 Chronicles 22:2-5), committed the execution of the work in a solemn way to his son Solomon (1 Chronicles 22:6-16), and called upon the chiefs of the people to give him their support in the work (1 Chronicles 22:17-19). • • • GOD WORKS AND ASKS US TO WORK. God worked, as we all know, in creating the Universe, as told in Genesis. • Psalms 8:3-4 wonders at the work of Creation : When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained, What is man that You are mindful of him, And the son of man that You visit him? • Psalms 90:16-17 Let Your work appear to Your servants, And Your glory to their children. And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us, And establish the work of our hands for us; Yes, establish the work of our hands. • John 9:4-6 I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world. • John 17:4 I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do. • Matthew 11:28-30 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. • • • DEAR READERS, there is a universal truth about work. It nourishes, clothes and shelters us. It offers the reward of satisfaction from providing all these things. And, it feeds our spiritual being by making us happy and proud to be able to care for ourselves and help those we love. The Judeo-Christian "plus" in work is that it unites us with God and helps Him prepare the world for His Second Coming. • Saint Paul, whose monumental personal work anchored Christianity's place in the world, had much to say about work : For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But let each one examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For each one shall bear his own load. (Gal 6:3-5)....Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord. (1 Cor 15:58)....For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. (Eph 2:10). • When Paul was in a dungeon in Rome, waiting to be judged and executed, he wrote to Timothy : For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing. (2 Timothy 4:6-8). Even at this extremity, Paul speaks of his long work that is nearly done. He is a prisoner in Rome, all but forsaken by his friends, waiting hourly for another summons before Nero. To appear before him was, he says, like putting his head into 'the mouth of the lion.' He tells Timothy that he is ready to be offered AND he urges Timothy to labor and be faithful in the performance of the duties of his office. Paul was about to leave a work which he loved, and to which he had devoted the vigor of his life, and he was anxious that they who were to succeed him should carry on the work with all the energy and zeal in their power. • Like King David, Saint Paul was preparing the future on Earth while he was preparing himself for Eternity. • It's a lesson to all of us -- whatever our religious beliefs. Work is a preparation, and gift, for the future -- that of our children and loved ones -- and of the Earth. • Sometimes, work is faithful witness in the face of terror. DeEbony Groves, the 21-year-old Christian Belmont University student who was shot dead along with three others in a mass shooting at a Waffle House in Antioch, Tennessee, sang "Jesus Loves Me" inside the restaurant shortly before she took her final breath. Waffle House CEO Walt Ehmer made the revelation in a short address at Groves' funeral service Saturday at the First Baptist Church in Gallatin where he said his company was grieving for the victims of the massacre. "We went and visited with the survivors and they talked about the people who were in that restaurant before what happened happened, and specifically remembered your daughter and spoke of your daughter and her friend, and said that they were singing Gospel songs," Ehmer said, as hundreds of mourners who had gathered to pay their respects shouted "hallelujah" and clapped inside the church. "And everybody was singing and enjoying each other and the last thing I remember her saying was, singing 'Jesus Loves Me,' " he continued. "And so I can't offer you many words of encouragement or comfort. All I can tell you is that our Waffle House family is hurting for you and with you. And I know there are so many people in this room that are so close to her [and] will never forget her. And I can promise you this -- We will never forget your daughter." • Like Saint Paul and King David, DeEbony Groves was finishing "the work which You have given Me to do." • As we celebrate -- or don't celebrate -- May Day, we should to remember that each of us has a special work to do, a sacred charge given to each of us as inheritors of the Earth.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Federal Judges Play Politics, Holder and Brennan Look Foolish, Migrants Stack up at the Border, Kanye West Defends Freedom of Political Choice, and President Trump Keeps On Keeping On

THE REAL NEWS TODAY IS A MIXED BAG OF ANTI-TRUMP PLOYS. But, they may help us to appreciate President Trump even more. • • • A FEDERAL JUDGE THINK OBAMA IS STILL PRESIDENT. There are a growing number of Progressive federal judges taking on an overt political role as they hand down decisions against anything President Trump and his administration try to do. Nationwide injunctions, a relatively new phenomenon, are increasing as they attempt to strip President Trump of his constitutional powers. But, one federal judge has really gone off the rails. Fix This Nation reported last week that a judge sitting in the Federal District Court in Washington, DC, has decided that while President Obama could use an executive order, considered at the time by many law professors to be an overreach of executive power, to create the DACA "Dreamers" protective examption from deportation for children and youth brought to the US illegally by their parents -- President Trump cannot undo the DACA regime by issuing his own executive order. • Federal District Judge John Bates’ decision has ordered President Trump to continue accepting NEW applications under DACA -- unless the President and the Department of Homeland Security can, in 90 days, give good reasons for canceling DACA. Judge Bates' ruling comes close to making it a matter of law that Barack Obama, sixteen months after leaving office, retains full authority over the nation’s immigration policy. If DHS and the President can't satisfy Judge Bates, then DHS “must accept and process new as well as renewal DACA applications.” • The ruling by Judge Bates is pure politics, says Fix This Nation : "His official opinion on the case is a 60-page liberal diatribe against the Trump administration that could have been boiled down to three words : How DARE you? This is a political, partisan ruling that has no place in any courtroom in the land, and Bates should be removed from the bench due to legal malpractice." • The argument made by Fix This Nation are compelling : "DACA is in direct conflict with the current law of the land, which is immigration policy as dictated by the U.S. Congress....The President of the United States has full prosecutorial discretion over which illegal immigrants to deport or ignore....DACA was on the verge of falling to a multi-state lawsuit because it was an unconstitutional power grab of a program in the first place, giving illegal immigrants a legal status that was not President Obama’s to give....If Obama could grant temporary amnesty with his pen and phone, it is a matter of common sense and constitutional law that President Trump can take it away with same. Any one of those reasons would be enough to convince a judge who is faithful to the law, but that apparently does not describe Judge Bates." • DOJ spokesman Devin O’Malley says the administration will continue the fight to protect America and preserve the power of the executive branch : “The Department of Homeland Security acted within its lawful authority in deciding to wind down DACA in an orderly manner. Promoting and enforcing the rule of law is vital to protecting a nation, its borders, and its citizens. The Justice Department will continue to vigorously defend this position, and looks forward to vindicating its position in further litigation.” • Here are the questions. When is the Supreme Court going to bring these Progressive federal judges into constitutional order by forbidding nationwide injunctions. If the Court hesitates, then Congress must act. While there are very few examples, Congress has the power to remove federal judges. Article III, Section 1, of the Constitution states that federal judges are appointed to life terms while serving "during good Behavior. Although the Constitution does not expressly state that judges may be impeached and removed from office, they fall under the label of "Civil Officers" in Article II, Section 4 : “The President, Vice President and all Civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.” The US Senate has removed 15 fedral judges from office for substantial questionable conduct, even if no crime was committed. The 15 ere impeached by majority vote of the House. Of those 15, 8 were convicted by 2/3 vote of the Senate, 4 were acquitted by the Senate, and 3 resigned before an outcome at trial. • Value Walk wrote in March : "The Trump administration, in its filing about its travel ban, has asking the Supreme Court to limit what appears to be the growing use of nationwide injunctions being issued by individual judges to stop new administrative initiatives -- e.g., its crackdown on "sanctuary cities," the ban on transgender persons in the military, plans to end DACA, etc. -- calling them a 'deeply misguided practice.' But because the Court is unlikely to address the issue, and because of its limited ability to take effective action, a better proposal might be for Congress to reconsider reinstating a process widely used previously under which challenges to the constitutionality of federal statutes had to be heard by a 3-judge panel, and the results would immediately -- without any delays for review by federal circuit courts -- be reviewed by the US Supreme Court as a matter of right." Public interest law professor John Banzhaf says : "In many cases where a federal judge believes that plaintiffs have a strong case against an action by the federal government, it will issue a temporary and/or preliminary injunction -- sometimes simply called a 'stay' -- until the case can finally be decided, a process which can take several months or even longer. Although the grant of such stays can be appealed to the intermediate federal courts -- the US Courts of Appeals -- appellate court are often reluctant to overturn these temporary decisions. Moreover, since the plaintiffs can generally choose the circuit likely to be most sympathetic to their cause, such reversals tend to be rare, and the stays largely remain in place, often for some time. Then, if the original stay is not overturned by the circuit court, it can remain in effect for a long time since the Supreme Court is reluctant to adjudicate cases on a piecemeal basis, and would often prefer a final decision by a circuit court before tackling any difficult constitutional issues. Moreover, because the high court can take only a limited number of cases each term, and because of its limited schedule, these orders, issued by a single federal judge and holding up major executive actions, can remain in place for a very long time. In the past...judges tended to issue injunctions which directly affected only the parties before them, and...were limited in effect to one district or one state. Thus a new policy might be enjoined in one state, but the government was free to move forward with it in the remainder of the country....judges have begun issuing nationwide injunctions, preventing the policy from going into effect anywhere, often for extended periods." Attorney General Jeff Sessions says nationwide injunctions have been used 20 times in Trump's first year in office, "as many as President Obama had in eight years." • Value Walk says nationwide injunctions mean that a single judge in a single circuit, often chosen by the plaintiffs because its prior rulings suggest sympathy for their position, can in effect dictate and stymie a policy promulgated by the President...for a very lengthy period of time. Banzhaf says its doubtful that the Supreme Court would address the issue at all. Even if it did, its ability to mandate effective change may be limited. The professor says that Congress might be able to do a much better job by simply largely reinstating, with few if any changes, the procedures which governed challenges to the constitutionality of federal states from 1958 until 1976 under 28 USC Section 2282, calling for such challenges to be brought only before a panel of 3 separate federal judges. Value Walk notes that Congress eliminated this procedure back in 1976, apparently largely because of the logistical issues involving in bringing the three judges together for oral argument, subsequent deliberation, and then the careful crafting of a final written decision. But, says Banzhaf, with modern internet-based video conferencing equipment, judges sitting in three different cities can jointly participate in oral arguments, able to hear as well as see each other as well as counsel for all parties to the proceeding. • House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte reportedly has raised this issue with Chief Justice Robert and other judges after other Republican lawmakers complained. In the past it was Democrats who complained when individual federal judges, arguably chosen by plaintiffs based upon their hostility to the Obama administration, likewise held up some of his initiatives. But, if the Supreme Court is unable or unwilling to deal with this problem, Congress should at least hold hearings on the issue so that all proposed remedies and points of view can be heard, suggests Banzhaf. • There are several possible solutions to the nationwide injunction frenzy, but the Supreme Court or Congress need to act. • • • 'YOU DON'T HAVE TO BE A DEMOCRAT' SAYS KANYE WEST. When Grammy-winning rapper and record producer Kanye West said he loved President Trump, all of Hades broke loose on Twitter -- but his confession is sparking what appears to be a revolt among “free-thinking” people who refuse to be forced into a political box based on their race, religion, gender, sexual identity or profession. Kanye tweeted last week : “You don’t have to agree with trump but the mob can’t make me not love him. We are both dragon energy. He is my brother. I love everyone. I don’t agree with everything anyone does. That’s what makes us individuals. And we have the right to independent thought.” Turmp tseeted back : “Thank you Kanye, very cool!” • Critics immediately attacked West, some suggesting he has “gone off the deep end” or that his support is “a publicity stunt” or that “West does not care about black people.” But then even Chance the Rapper -- who has criticized President Trump publicly -- tweeted : “Black people don’t have to be Democrats.” That tweet triggered a theme on the social media platform, as others began expressing support for freedom of political thought for various groups. “Jewish people don’t have to be democrats either,” tweeted Times of Israel blogger and Daily Wire writer Elliott Hamilton. “Gay people don’t have to be democrats either,” tweeted gay and Jewish author Chad Felix Greene. “Immigrants don’t either,” tweeted Anna Khait. • Kim Kardashian, Kanye's wife, chimed in with some words for critics of the rapper who say he’s having a mental breakdown, tweeting : “He’s a free thinker, is that not allowed in America? Because some of his ideas differ from yours you have to throw in the mental health card? That’s just not fair. He’s actually out of the sunken place when he’s being himself which is very expressive.” • America could use a lot more free thinking. • • • MIGRANTS ARE STACKING UP AT THE MEXICO-US BORDER. Fox News and AP reported last Friday that : "About 175 people in a caravan of Central American asylum-seekers rested up Thursday ahead of the final leg of their monthlong journey to seek asylum in the United States, with the Trump administration warning they could be prosecuted, detained and quickly deported. The migrants -- many of them women, children and transsexuals -- were set to board buses in the border city of Mexicali for a two-hour drive to Tijuana to join up with about 175 others who already arrived. Lawyers planned free workshops on the US immigration system on Friday and Saturday as many planned to seek asylum starting Sunday at San Diego's San Ysidro border crossing, the nation's busiest." Leonard Olsen of Pueblos Sin Fronteras, a group leading the effort, said : "This is a moment that will change their lives." • Trump cited the caravan in ordering DHS to "stop the caravan" but that more needs to be done. Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen said last Wednesday that any person trying to cross into the US who makes false claims to immigration authorities will subject to criminal prosecution. She said prosecution was also possible for any people who might assist or coach immigrants to make false claims in bids to enter the US. • Fox News said that : "As Sunday's showdown at the busy Tijuana-San Diego border crossing neared, Amnesty International hoisted a billboard promoting the right to asylum in the US on a truck in Tijuana that drove around the city. Four locations in Tijuana were being set up for lawyers to tell the migrants what they should expect when they turn themselves in to US custody for questioning by immigration officers. It is unclear how many people will eventually petition for asylum. Jose Maria Garcia Lara, president of the Juventud 2000 shelter in Tijuana, said about 35% of more than 100 people on a Central American caravan last November decided to stay in Tijuana. The Juventud 2000 shelter, on the edge of Tijuana's red-light district, was filled with colorful dome-shaped tents and was housing more than 150 people on Thursday." • The US Border Patrol said on Sunday "several groups" of people in the caravan have entered the US illegally since Friday by climbing a dilapidated metal fence. It didn't say how many people. Since Congress failed to agree on a broad immigration package in February, administration officials have made it a legislative priority to end what they call "legal loopholes" and "catch-and-release" policies that allow asylum-seekers to be released from custody while their claims wind through the courts in cases that can last for year. US immigration lawyers who went to Tijuana denied "coaching" any of the roughly 400 people in the caravan who recently arrived in Tijuana, camping out in shelters near some of the city's seedier bars and bordellos. Some migrants received one-on-one counselling to assess the merits of their cases and groups of the migrants with their children playing nearby were told how asylum works in the US. Asylum-seekers are typically held up to three days at the border and turned over to US Immigration and Customs Enforcement. If they pass an asylum officer's initial screening, they may be detained or released with ankle monitors. Nearly 80% of asylum-seekers passed the initial screening from October through December, the latest numbers available, but few are likely to eventually win asylum. Mexicans fared worst among the 10 countries that sent the largest numbers of US asylum seekers from 2012 to 2017, with a denial rate of 88%, according to asylum outcome records tracked by Syracuse University's Transactional Records Action Clearinghouse. El Salvadorans were close behind with a 79% denial rate, followed by Hondurans at 78% and Guatemalans at 75%. • Congress must approve funding for the Wall. • • • GRASSROOTS DEMOCRATS ARE TIRED OF HEARING ABOUT RUSSIA. Restore American Glory reported last Thursday that midwest Democrats are begging the national party to stop talking about Russia. Hillary Clinton lost in 2016 because the Democratic Party has left working-class Americans behind in favor of minorities and coastal elites. In the so-called Rust Belt, where Donald Trump swept in, he did it by telling a lost generation that he had not forgotten about them, and handily smashed through what the Clinton campaign was calling the Big Blue Wall. Democrat voters didn't care nearly as much about transgender bathrooms and Dreamers as they did about the opioid crisis and about their own shattered dreams for themselves and their families and communities. • But, the Democratic Party hasstill not got the message form its own faithful. As restore American Glory says : "Rather than attempt to understand how Trump blasted through the Midwest with an economic message that resonated, they have turned Trump into the ultimate symbol of evil -- a racist traitor who must be removed from office....According to a new report from BuzzFeed, Democrats in the Midwest are now practically begging the national party to stop focusing on the Trump/Russia affair, which is doing them absolutely no favors among voters who want to see politicians talk about issues that actually matter to their lives. In battleground states in the middle of the country, some Democrats watched with frustration as their party grabbed headlines last week with a splashy new lawsuit alleging a vast conspiracy between President Donald Trump and Russia. The Democratic National Committee’s drumbeat of messaging on Trump and his relationship with Russia is wearing thin with some Democrats in purple states -- particularly in the Midwest, where people on the ground say voters are uninterested and even turned off by the issue. The suit exposes a gap, they say, between the party’s strategy nationally and what Midwest Democrats believe will win elections in their state. David Betras, Democratic county party chairman in Mahoning County, Ohio, where Youngstown is located, told the media : "The DNC is doing a good job of winning New York and California. I’m not saying it’s not important -- of course it’s important -- but do they honestly think that people that were just laid off another shift at the car plant in my home county give a shit about Russia when they don’t have a frickin’ job?” • This East Coast-West Coast elitist mentality among Democrat leaders is one more example of the Washington Swamp Creature bubble. The elitists don't want to escape it. They are obviously more concerned about their elitist, Progressive agenda and destroying President Trump than they are about helping Americans who are actually making headway with hteir lives, thanks ot President Trump and his agenda of America First. Working class families that are abandoning the party; and with Kanye West and others like him -- who see the improvements Trump is bringing to the lives of Black, Hispanic, and Latino Americans -- the Democrats would be wise not to count on their mid-term gains -- it is just not going to happen. • AS for the Russia collusion scam -- the evidence is building of collusion by Obama-administration law-enforcement and intelligence personnel in trying to elect Hillary Clinton and defeat and delegitimize Trump in and after the 2016 election. The facts are mounting -- Clinton’s illegal email system kid-gloves probe; FBI director James Comey taking Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s order to call it a “matter” rather than an “investigation;” Clinton aides allowed by the FBI to keep her emails and destroy 30,000 of them, plus cellphones, while their own FBI probes were not subject to grand-jury subpoenas, and a potential co-defendant was allowed to claim attorney-client privilege; the infamous Lynch meeting with Bill Clinton on his plane at the Phoenix airport; the collusion of Obama officials with the Clinton campaign-financed Christophe Steele/Fusion GPS dossier alleging Trump ties with Russians, used ny Comey and the Justice Department, without divulging who paid for it, to get a FISA warrant to surveil former Trump campaign operative Carter Page’s future and past communications; Comey's sending four of his internal memos, at least one of them classified, to a law professor friend to leak them to the press, with the intent of getting a special counsel appointed, who turned out to be his longtime friend and ally Robert Mueller. DOES that spell COLLUSION? No wonder midwest Democrats wish the Washington party elite would just shut up. • • • HOLDER PROVIDES THE JOKE OF THE MONTH. American Thinker's Daniel John Sobieski got it perfectly right : "If President Trump could hand-select his 2020 Democratic opponent, he could do no better than former Obama attorney general Eric Holder, the only Cabinet official held in contempt of Congress for withholding documents in the Fast and Furious gun-running scandal. He is the poster child for the Deep State corruption that festered under Obama and the politicization of both the DOJ and FBI. The former AG, who is arguably responsible for the homicide of Border Patrol agent Brian Terry, murdered by guns Holder and Obama funneled to Mexican drug lords, is in fact considering such a bid : "Former Attorney General Eric Holder let the cat out of the bag Tuesday night during a visit to the very friendly confines of MSNBC, acknowledging he is "thinking" about a 2020 presidential run to challenge President Donald Trump. MSNBC host Chris Hayes threw out the possibility of Holder running for the White House, hoping his guest would bite and he did just that -- whether this was rehearsed beforehand or not is up to you to decide. "I'm not sure I'll get the most honest answer from you," Hayes said to Holder, before turning to MSNBC contributor Matt Miller, who was Holder's spokesperson in office. "Is he running for President. Is Eric Holder running?" he asked. Miller joked about wanting to know if he will have to quit his job and move to Iowa, prompting Holder to reply if Miller "will promise to be my press secretary, I might consider it." "You are considering it," Hayes asked. "I'm thinking about it, but I am focusing on the work I'm doing with the National Democratic Redistricting Committee trying to deal with gerrymandering," Holder said." As Sobieski said : "Run, Eric, Run." • "Democrats did their best to hide the truth about Fast and Furious, with AG Holder, the only Cabinet member ever to be held in contempt of Congress, arguably lying to Congress about his knowledge and involvement and repeatedly saying he "didn't get the memo," says Sobieski, adding "American citizens and Mexican nationals to this day are in jeopardy from criminals using weapons the Obama administration funneled to them." • Fast and Furious wasn't the only stain on Eric Holder's record. As deputy AG under Janet Reno, Eric Holder played a key role in the forced return at gunpoint to Cuba of young Elian Gonzalez, notes Sobieski : "a far cry from how he and other Progressive liberals say alien children fleeing oppression should be treated." Who can forget the SWAT team tearing the little Cuban boy Elian Gonzalez, who had survived a perilous raft journey that killed his mother to flee the communist tyranny of Fidel Castro's Cuba, from the home of his American-citiyen legal guardians? It was then-Deputy Attorney General Holder who invented the "legal" cover for federal agents to forcibly enter the home so the boy could be returned to the warm embrace of Castro in communist Cuba. • • • JOHN BRENNAN AT IT AGAIN. The Gateway Pundit reported on Saturday that : "Former CIA Director-turned-Twitter troll, John Brennan issued President Trump a warning Friday morning after the House Intel Panel released their much-anticipated Russia report, officially clearing Trump. There was no Trump-Russia collusion. End the witch hunt now and start prosecuting all involved in the attempted coup. Not only did the House Intel report clear Trump of any ‘collusion’ with Russia, it revealed a group of wealthy donors spent $50 million to fund the Trump-Russia investigation. A group of about 7-10 wealthy donors from California (Silicon Valley) and New York spent $50 million to fund a Trump-Russia investigation conducted by none other than Christopher Steele, Fusion GPS and a former staffer for Dem Senator Dianne Feinstein named Daniel Jones." • BUT, John Brennan, the CIA director who voted for Gus Hall and is allegedly a suporter of the Moslem Broyherhood, sees it differently. Brennan tweeted : " A highly partisan, incomplete, and deeply flawed report by a broken House Committee means nothing. The Special Counsel’s work is being carried out by professional investigators -- not political staffers. SC’s findings will be comprehensive & authoritative. Stay tuned, Mr. Trump." Gateway Pundit provides a list of the “professional investigators” Brennan is referring to on Mueller’s team, calling it "a who’s who of corrupt and conflicted Obama and Hillary cronies." Mueller’s team, says Gateway Pundit, consists of : "Rush Atkinson, an attorney on detail from the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section at the Department of Justice who donated $200 to Clinton in 2016 // Peter Carr, DOJ spokesman under Barack Obama // Andrew Goldstein, a public corruption prosecutor on detail from the US Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York, who worked under Trump-basher Preet Bharara in the liberal New York southern district // Adam Jed, an appellate attorney on detail from DOJ’s Civil Division, who defended Obamacare at the DOJ // Elizabeth Prelogar, an appellate attorney on detail from the Office of the Solicitor General, who is fluent in Russian and a former law clerk to Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan // James Quarles, a former partner at WilmerHale and a former assistant special prosecutor for the Watergate Special Prosecution Force // Jeannie Rhee, a former partner at WilmerHale who has served in the Office of Legal Counsel at DOJ and as an assistant US attorney for the District of Columbia, and who is a Clinton Foundation Lawyer and former Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Office of Legal Counsel under Barack Obama // Brandon Van Grack, an attorney on detail from the Justice Department’s National Security Division, who led a grand jury inquiry in Northern Virginia scrutinizing former Trump associate Michael Flynn’s foreign lobbying // Aaron Zebley, a former partner at WilmerHale who has previously served with Mueller at the FBI and has served as an assistant US attorney in the Eastern District of Virginia, and who worked with Robert Mueller at the WilmerHale firm // Zainab Ahmad, a top national security prosecutor on detail from US Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of New York // Michael Dreeben, an appellate attorney on detail from the Office of the Solicitor General, described by former colleagues as one of the brightest criminal law experts of the past two generations. • John Brennan was involved in the attempted coup against candidate Trump which is why he’s lashing out on his Twitter account. BUT, Chairman Devin Nunes is currently investigating whether John Brennan perjured himself in a public testimony about the dossier. • • • DEAR READERS, Donald Trump has made huge sacrifices for this country in his first year as President. He gave up his comfortable lifestyle to make America great again. But, despite this, he CONSTANTLY persecuted each and every day by the liberal media, obstructionist Democrats, and lunatic leftists... just for fulfilling his promises. Here are some Trump facts : since President Trump took office unemployment has fallen to a 17 year low; over 1.9 million jobs have been added; rhe stock market has gone up more than six TRILLION dollars; new home sales have soared to a 10 year high; ISIS is on the run; and North Korea is agreeing to stop its nuclear program. AND, unlike Obama, Donald Trump has sacrificed his own wealth to make America prosperous for everyone. Forbes has estimated that Trump has lost $600 MILLION in net worth since taking office... and still he carries on for America and Americans. And the icing on the cake is that President Trump has donated EVERY SINGLE DOLLAR of his presidential salary to worthy causes through the US Treasury. • Thank you, President Trump, for thinking about others and about America.

Friday, April 27, 2018

North and South Korea Shake Hands and Are Talking -- Thank you, President Trump

THERE IS ONLY ONE NEWS STORY TODAY. • • • NORTH AND SOUTH KOREA MEET. North and South Korea held an historic meeting at the Demilitarized Zone between the two countries on Friday and agreed on the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. The two men met and shook hands, then crossed back and forth over the DMZ line in an expression of what seems like a sincere effort to reduce hostilities. The North and South Korean leaders agreed to a framework that could finally bring peace to the peninsula and potentially end decades of tension between the Hermit Kingdom and the rest of the world. The joint announcement stated that both sides will work toward a "nuclear-free Korean Peninsula" and try to officially end the Korean War. South Korea's President Moon Jae-in and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un -- who, fewer than four months ago, threatened the United States with nuclear weapons -- also planted a pine tree using soil and water form both countries and unveiled a stone plaque placed next to the tree that was engraved with a message saying "Peace and Prosperity Are Planted." • The Kim Jong Un who declared in a stark New Year's address that a nuclear launch button is "always on my table" continued his recent, startling push for peace during his meeting with Moon Jae-In. Both nations agreed to hold further high-level talks and other negotiations, including the planned joint talks with the US, and also potentially China. The two Koreas, which have technically remained at war since 1950-1953 when the Korean War was stopped via an armistice, have agreed to stop all hostile acts over "land, sea and air" that can cause military tensions and clashes. Fox News reported that : "The two leaders announced that starting May 1, all loudspeaker propaganda broadcasts that have been blaring at each other across their heavily-armed border will be suspended. They will also dismantle broadcasting equipment and stop flying propaganda leaflets across their border. Earlier Friday, Kim told Moon that he feels like he’s 'firing a flare at the starting line in the moment of [the two Koreas], writing a new history in North-South relations, peace and prosperity.' Kim also promised Moon he 'won't interrupt' his 'early morning sleep anymore,' a somewhat joking reference to North Korea's troubling intercontinental ballistic missile tests, South Korea said. • It was the first time a member of the Kim dynasty was known to set foot on South Korean soil since 1953. • The summit concluded with the leaders signing an agreement and delivering a joint statement before dinner. The banquet was held on the South's side, with a menu as symbolic as the other rituals of the day. Kim was served the Swiss potato dish rösti -- a nod to his time studying in Switzerland -- along with the North's signature dish of cold noodles, and a North Korean liquor. Kim was accompanied by nine officials, including his powerful and influential sister Kim Yo-jong. • The summit has drawn careful responses from around the world. British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said he welcomes the summit but doesn't expect any major breakthroughs : "I am very encouraged by what's happening. I don't think that anybody looking at the history of North Korea's plans to develop a nuclear weapon would want to be over-optimistic at this point." China has welcomed the summit, saying it applauds the countries' leaders for taking an "historic step" toward peace. • BUT, it was overwhelmingly President Trump's victory. He tweeted : "After a furious year of missile launches and Nuclear testing, a historic meeting between North and South Korea is now taking place. Good things are happening, but only time will tell!" • It was President Trump, whose aggressive rhetoric and posture -- and his ability to bring China into the Korean stand-off on the side of denuclearization -- who many analysts credit with bringing North Korea to the bargaining table. And, the President encouraged Japan and South Korea to engage in serious diplomatic efforts to soften North Korean Kim Jong-un's sabre-rattling posture by inviting his athletes to the South Korean Winter Olympic Games. Then Mike Pompeo -- then CIA Director an now the US Secretary of State -- made a secret trip to Pyongyang over Easter and that seemd to open the floodgate. • The British seem to be taking the skeptical path. Not only did Boris Johnson say htat he doesn't expect major breakthroughs, but the BBC said the summit came : "just months after warlike rhetoric from North Korea. Much of what the summit will focus on has been agreed in advance, but many analysts remain sceptical about the North's apparent enthusiasm for engagement." • Whatever the skeptics say, the meeting was both historic and promising. Topics discussed included nuclear technology, sanctions, and separated families, and is being seen as an opportunity to foster economic co-operation. Kim, ahead of talks with Moon at the Peace House in the border village of Panmunjom, wrote in the guest book, "A new history begins now." • The next major step in this complex diplomatic ballet will be the arrangements for and actual meeting between Kim and Trump. The White House has expressed hope that the talks will achieve progress towards peace ahead the meeting between Kim and President Trump being planned for the coming weeks. That would be an unprecedented occurrence in this history of hostility and extreme nuclear danger. South Korea has warned that a deal to rid Pyongyang of its nuclear weapons will be "difficult" to achieve. But, Kim announced last week that he was suspending nuclear tests. The move was welcomed by the US and South Korea, although the BBC reported that Chinese researchers have indicated that North Korea's nuclear test site may be unusable after a rock collapse following its last nuclear test. • Under Kim, the development of North Korea's nuclear and missile programs has continued on what appears to be an acccelerated timeline. Four more nuclear tests have taken place, bringing the regime's total to six. Pyongyang claims it has successfully tested a miniaturised hydrogen bomb that could be loaded on to a long-range missile, but experts remain divided on how advanced that program -- or the missile development program -- is. North Korea's missiles' reach has seemed to increase, with the regime test-firing several missiles in 2017 and claiming it had tested intercontinental ballistic missiles that could reach the US. That led to heightened tensions with the Trump administration and intensified UN sanctions against North Korea, with the two men hurling insults at each other. Trump called Kim a "rocket man on a suicide mission" while Kim called Trump a "mentally deranged US dotard." • Yet, unexpectedly, Kim offered an olive branch to South Korea in his new year's address, saying he was "open to dialogue" and might send a team to the February 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea. After a flurry of diplomatic activity, the two Koreas marched under one flag in the Olympic opening ceremony, and high-level meetings took place between the two sides. • In April, it came as a shock when Kim said he had suspended all missile tests and would shut down a nuclear test site, because his country had achieved "nuclear weaponisation." The halt was welcomed, but observers pointed out that Pyongyang had not pledged to get rid of its existing weapons, and has previously broken promises to halt nuclear development. • Only time, talk, and action will tell whether Kim Jong-un is sincere or just buying time and hoping for a relaxation of the sanctions -- especially now that China has joined in the sanctions -- again through Trump's aggressive cajoling -- and has reduced both banking facilities for Kim's hard currency needs and petroleum for his energy deficits. • Kim Jong-un and China must be fully aware that when President Trump speaks, he means what he says. His threats are not the empty words of prior US administrations. They can also be sure that when Donald Trump promises to do something -- whether for good or bad -- he follows through. Kim is standing at the door of a unique opportunity to join the world community and free his people from their impoverished slavery. President Trump has promised to make it happen. What remains now, as his friend Dennis Rodman would say, is for Kim to step up to the foul line and toss the basketball through the hoop.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Trump, Mueller, Giuliani, Eastern Europe, Rasmussen Polls, George Soros, and Conrad Black's Take on It All

TODAY, LET'S CATCH UP WITH WHAT'S GOING ON IN AMERICAN POLITICS. It's a full slate of actions and counter-actions. • • • THE SUPREME COURT ON BRINK OF AGREEING WITH TRUMP. On his travel ban, that is. On Wednesday, the US Supreme Court heard oral arguments on President Trump's travel ban case, and the Court's conservative justices asked questions pointing to a likely validation of his executive authority to block people from several majority-Moslem countries from entering the US -- a ban which Trump argues is needed to protect the US from terrorists. On December 4, the Court had already signaled support for the Trump ban when it granted his administration’s request to let the ban go into full effect while legal challenges played out. Now, the Court is considering whether Trump can indefinitely keep people out of the US based on nationality -- and whether the policy is aimed at excluding Moslems from the United States. • Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Anthony Kennedy, who often casts the swing vote on the Court, both indicated they would not second-guess Trump in matters of national security. • The travel ban challenge, led by the state of Hawaii, will undoubtedly get the vote of at least one of those two justices if the Court strikes down the ban. • The challengers argue that the policy was motivated by Trump’s enmity toward Moslems and that it violates federal immigration law and the US Constitution’s prohibition on religious discrimination. The current travel ban prohibits most people from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen from entering the US. It also affects two non-Moslem countries -- North Korea and some Venezuela, including some Venezuelan government officials and their families. Chad was on the last list announced in September, but Trump removed it this month after saying the country improved “its identity-management and information sharing practices.” • Here are some of the oral argument points of interest : §§ Conservative Justice Samuel Alito said the text of Trump’s proclamation about the ban “does not look at all like a Moslem ban.” §§ Justice Kennedy pressed Neal Katyal, a lawyer for the challengers, about why courts should second-guess a President’s national security judgments. Kennedy also answered Katyal about whether the ban would be permanent, saying the policy’s call for a report every six months “indicates there’ll be a reassessment” from time to time. Kennedy’s only question that may have favored the challengers came when he asked Francisco whether Trump’s campaign trail call to keep Moslems out of the US should be considered in evaluating the ban, but the Soilicitor General lawyers said the justices shouldn’t look at Trump’s campaign statements. • For the Court's ruling, we have to wait until the end of June when the Court announces its decisions for this session. • • • GIULIANI MEETS WITH MUELLER. Rudy Giuliani wasted no time in activating a more aggressive position concerning the special counsel's probe. The Washington Post reported on Wednesday that its unnamed sources told it that Giuliani, "President Trump’s new personal lawyer dealing with the ongoing probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election, met with special counsel Robert S. Mueller III on Tuesday to reopen negotiations for a presidential interview, ­according to three people familiar with the talks." Giuliani joined Trump’s legal team just last week. The WP reported that Giuliani "conveyed the ongoing resistance of Trump and his advisors to an interview with federal investigators, but did not rule out the possibility, the people said, adding that Giuliani pressed Mueller for clarity on when the probe is expected to end. In response, Mueller reiterated that he would like a chance to ask Trump questions about steps he took during the transition and early months of his administration, the people said. The special counsel emphasized, as he did in conversations in March with Trump’s team, that an interview is essential for investigators to understand Trump’s intent in making key decisions as they seek to wrap up the portion of the probe focused on potential obstruction of justice." • The Giuliani-Mueller meeting that included members of both teams re-opened talks that had largely stopped with the resignation last month of John Dowd, a veteran lawyer who had been serving as Trump’s lead outside attorney on the investigation. Giuliani said he was taking a position on the White House legal team "because I hope we can negotiate an end to this for the good of the country and because I have high regard for the president and for Bob Mueller.” President Trump said in a statement last week that Giuliani “wants to get this matter quickly resolved.” • As the WP pointed out, Giuliani, the former New York mayor and US Attorney, has known Mueller for many years through their work in federal law enforcement. Trump attorney Jay Sekulow declined to confirm a meeting took place or to describe the discussions : “We don’t discuss conversations with the Office of the Special Counsel. We continue to maintain our ongoing cooperation.” • The WP said that : "Trump remains 'extremely opposed' to granting Mueller an interview, according to one close adviser -- setting up a potential high-stakes legal battle between the White House and the special counsel, who could ultimately seek to try to subpoena the President. When Mueller’s office first broached the idea of an interview late last year, Trump initially was open to it, rejecting warnings from Dowd that such a move would be perilous, according to several advisors. Dowd resigned in late March after disagreements with Trump about the interview....Giuliani, a longtime defender of the President, took the helm of the defense nearly one year after Mueller began his investigation and amid signs that the special counsel is looking to wrap up the obstruction-related portion of his probe. In March, Mueller informed Trump’s attorneys that he was continuing to investigate the president but did not consider him a criminal target at that point, The Post previously reported. Mueller’s investigators said at the time they were considering writing reports on their findings in stages -- with the first report focused on possible obstruction, according to two people briefed on the discussions. The special counsel said he needed to interview Trump to understand whether he had any corrupt intent to thwart the Russia investigation when he took certain steps, including firing FBI Director James B. Comey." • There is still no good reson for the President to agree to a face-to-face interview with the Mueller team. At best, it will prove nothing -- because Trump cannot reasonably be expected to answer "corrupt intent" questions about a firing that even Comey, the official fired, says Trump had every right to do. At worst, Trump will be led into a perjury trap by asking him questions about matters to which Mueller already has the answers -- because of Mueller interviews already made with other witnesses. • "That Way Madness Lies." Shakespeare’s King Lear speaks this line to Kent, to express his grief for his daughters’ selfish and cruel behavior. He says, “Your old kind father, whose frank heart gave all -- / O, that way madness lies; let me shun that; / No more of that." King Lear has finally recognized that, if he keeps obsessing this way, he will lose his senses. A tempest arises in the King’s mind when he is feeling depressed for his daughters’ ingratitude toward, and maltreatment of, him, reminding himself that this heartache and emotional pain is going to drive him crazy. As a storm comes on over the heath to match the storm in hs heart, King Lear considers the ingratitude of his wicked daughters, Goneril and Regan, to whom he has given his realm. But, despite his kindness, now they have turned their old father out into a furious and unbearable storm, to show the King who is in charge. Shakespeare beautifully reminds us that, when someone becomes obsessed with a worry, a problem, a point of view, or grief, the inner storm that brews could take over his mind and thinking to an extent that he forgets everything else. The person in question even forgets to take care of himself. Simply, when a person does everything humanly possible for others, yet others pay him back very poorly, it causes despair and obsession due to over-thinking, ultimately leading him to a point of madness. • That obsession that leads to hasty and ill-considerd action is what President Trump needs to avoid at all costs. His inner conviction thath e has done no wrong and his observation that no wrongdoig has been found in 18 months of probes must make him want to talk to Mueller to end the affair. But, that way lies madness. The President must be patient, stay calm in his conviction, and let Giuliani work out what must and needs to be done. • • • POOR GEORGE SOROS IS LOSING. The conservative Canada Free Press (CFP) recently wrote that : "Soros and his cause are losing. Today in Hungary and among the Visegrad Group of nations who despise him, Hungarian-born philanthropist George Soros is toast -- not a god as he thinks of himself. Hungarian-born hedge fund multibillionaire George Soros is best known as a radical open borders advocate and manipulator of a political reality that suits his vision. His unsavory reputation, widespread in the States as well as in Europe and Russia, has arisen from Soros’ own history. Aware of the Balkanization of Europe that plunged continents into two world wars, one of which he lived through, Soros saw events such as these as reasonable cause for erasing barriers between nations. Meaning walls and fences, language, politics, ideology, culture, races, colors, differences in opinion, and religion. He literally saw himself as a god who would defeat reactionary forces that insisted on national sovereignty and create a Tower of Babel of Utopia in which all will agree on one language and a dominant culture. Possibly that out of Arabia." Canada Free Press states that : "Since the mid-1980s in particular, he has used his immense influence to help reconfigure the political landscapes of several countries around the world -- in some cases playing a key role in toppling regimes that had held the reins of government for years, even decades. Vis à vis the United States, a strong case can be made for the claim that Soros today affects American politics and culture more profoundly that any other living person. To succeed, Soros & Co. need to ignore human nature. The problem is that human nature will not ignore George Soros & Co. Soros’ One World insists on a non-conscious uniformity of political sentiment. It completes the universal TRESSPASS across social norms, wealth, class and race....Soros’ formula is simple: Make sure no one is deprived of life’s necessities. To accomplish the sharing -- redistribution -- of everyone’s share by whatever it takes, make sure that those who have some of “it,” no longer will. No one is jealous of a neighbor whose auto has been repossessed, and therewith we have Peace on Earth and Good Will Toward All Men. The final result of the widespreading of misery thus created is of little importance. What is important is to eliminate the perception of inequality -- even as the political left is still unaware that income inequality is not greater today than in was forty years ago." • Canada Free Press offers some statistics -- 2 billion miserably poor people across the globe have risen into the middle class -- courtesy of capitalism, access to capital, to travel, and to trade. Thus the level of income across broad swaths of humanity has risen dramatically. As CFP says, "Income inequality is a leftwing myth...cynical propaganda spread to disinform the deliberately ignorant, and take power from those who have it....Educated in economics in the UK, Soros is hardly shy about using his power, wealth, manipulating markets, and his wits and political connections, to influence the affairs of nations no longer his. Hedging thus he manufactures wealth in the process by placing bets where he believes he’ll win. Soros is the archetypical predator and parasite at the same time. Reportedly he managed to collapse the Bank of England and the Russian ruble, among other good bets. Soros’ hedge funds made billions in the process. Reportedly that man is a pariah in many nations and has unresolved criminal matters left unresolved in some." • The Soros adventure in Hungary is a perfect example of his predatory approach to flattening the social system into one of universal misery. CFP writes : "Wealth such as his is built by advancing fake news with feelings of uncertainty -- turmoil, unrest, financial instability in the markets, attacks on the democratic electoral process and political chaos -- assuring conditions that promote widespread human suffering and poverty. Exactly what he and his European Union associates are advancing in Hungary as I write this, right after a landslide election victory by Soros’ arch-enemy Viktor Orbán. Soros’ NGOs and colleges are promoting antifa, #womensmarch, and “Save Our Lives” -- anti-goverment political marches mostly attended by youth programmed at Soros’ own CEU, Central European University in downtown Budapest. And the same in Israel! For example, before the [2008] Global Financial Meltdown that can be directly credited to the husband of the last Democrat candidate and too, an earlier Democrat President and their party, none of whom understand to this day WHAT HAPPENED, a few smart people shorted the housing industry and the banks....What Happened became Systemic Failure. That hedge funds make their money from the decisions of those with whom they did not collaborate does not make smart people diabolical. It makes them smart. The evil ones are those who bet on what was unsustainable -- debt -- and kept upping their bets as the debt grew. They’re called Democrats....The cause of the global financial meltdown were Democrats. All of them. And a Republican President, not a Skinny Kenyan who was credited for it by the mainstream, reversed the course by instituting TARP, the Troubled Asset Releif Program in 2008, months before the Kenyan, financed by George Soros, was elected." • There's more -- CFP states : "Soros’ game raised the stakes. He bet on events that he himself can initiate and then control by cynically using his wealth, NGO’s and connections, to manipulate media, opinion, and the markets, to achieve targeted political and financial results. Soros bet on George W. Bush losing two elections because the demographics were against Republicans in general and he would lose Florida. He bet against John McCain and Mitt Romney for pretty much the same reasons, and he had a strong horse with a good story about his father’s dreams and a weaponized federal government. He bet against Donald Trump losing the last round, and earlier, the Israeli PM Bibi Netenyahu losing several elections. Soros didn’t have to exert himself : he used a taxpayer-funded freebie via Barack Obama who organized a team to manage the Israeli election process in Tel Aviv and sabotage the chances of the longest-serving Israeli incumbent." • BUT, Soros bet against Viktor Orbàn didn't work, says CFP : "Hungary’s Viktor Orbán, a monumental thorn in Soros’ and the European Union’s side, just won his fourth term with a significant majority in parliament and a populist landslide. Orbán is portrayed by the leftwing Soros-enabled and complicit media, Reuters, BBC, the New York Times among others, and the European Commission, as a right-winger. In fact the propaganda ministry that is the global mainstream who wrote, and now have to walk back the fictions against the Hungarian PM, as well as our President, are so far to the left of reality, that the center to them appears so far to the right that it is invisible....The [Hungarian] right wing party, JOBBIK, and the left wingers, the second and third runner-up parties, are both socialists. In the United States the communists and Nazis joined the socialist Occupied movement. Two sides of the same coin -- both are socialists. In Hungary the two socialist...extremes made common cause against the center-capitalists represented by the winner, Orbàn. As it happens, the winner dramatically transformed his nation‘s economy and well-being in the last eight years. It is dramatic, and visible. That is why he was elected." • Canada Free Press goes on to examine US politics : "There is no genuine right wing left in the United States other than for a handful of neo-Nazis and skinheads....Today’s center is led by a non-ideological Republican capitalist...Donald Trump is reviled by all not aligned at the rational political center. We see parallel movements like Hungary’s moving to the center. Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Slovakia, Croatia, Serbia, Ukraine and the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. And of course, Russia. We see like-kind sentiment arise in Norway and other Scandinavian countries, Western Europe, in France led by Marine LePenn, the Netherlands via Geert Wilders, and soon, in Italy. Lastly, the anti-EU Brexit phenomenon is being resolved we hope in the UK, as it was with the third victory by Israel’s Bibi Netanyahu who defeated Soros and Barack Obama." • Finally, CFP says : "George Soros’ army of NGO’s (Non Governmental Organizations). as well as his personal funds and influence, aim to obstruct and scuttle every non-aligned-to-his-cause nation’s democratic process. It aims to crush their leaders and get elected persons who will profit him financially as well as ideologically. Soros has no interest in democracy or We, the People. He has no interest in the values these other nations share with ours because he does not share America’s with his fans. His wars against his enemies are calculated, strategic, ideological, economic, and political. He thrives on ruin and the misery of others. It should surprise no one that many of these nations have allied themselves with each other against other regional interests -- as well as against Soros -- in light of the anti-democratic and anti-national forces that govern the European Commission, the EU, and the United Nations. George Soros pretty much calls the shots for all three and runs defense for them with the complicit media into which he has placed his operatives to slander, abuse, obstruct, harm and damage, and subvert his political opponents. Soros and his cause are losing. Today in Hungary and among the Visegrad Group of nations who despise him, Hungarian-born philanthropist George Soros is toast." • That is a lot to digest. But, the author is no prattling neophyte -- Andrew G. Benjamin is a real estate and tax specialist, equities trader, a former economic advisor to New York city mayor Rudy Giuliani; served on the transition team’s Subcommittee on Taxation, Finance and the Budget. Benjamin also writes extensively about intelligence, economic issues, the Mideast, terrorism, technology, high end audio and transnational politics. • • • RASMUSSEN REPORTS CONTINUES TO BE ATTACKED BY THE LEFT. The Progressive Left will not publish Rasmussen polls -- because they too often support both President Trump and his agenda. And the Rasmussen polls are often the only correct ones. • A Commentary By Fran Coombs, managing editor of Rasmussen Reports, points this out. Coombs wrote : "The anti-Trump media in its typical pack fashion has begun criticizing Rasmussen Reports in recent days. Why? Because President Trump likes the job approval numbers we’re reporting. It’s true that our Daily Presidential Tracking Poll often finds Trump’s public job approval several points higher than other national pollsters do. The same thing was true during the latter years of Barack Obama’s presidency, but for some reason the big media didn’t have a problem with that. Now it’s true that if we only surveyed the newsrooms of The New York Times, The Washington Post and CNN, Trump’s job approval ratings would be lower than low. Fortunately for our readers, however, we survey the real America outside the newsrooms and beyond the Beltway that girdles the nation’s capital. They give the president higher marks for his job performance out there. The criticism from the anti-Trumpers is nothing new. Rasmussen Reports was constantly criticized throughout the 2016 election cycle for showing that Trump and Hillary Clinton were in a neck-and-neck contest much of the time. We were branded 'outliers' because our findings didn’t show Clinton leaving Trump in the dust on a fast train to the White House. Two days before the election, a prominent Democratic operative sent us an e-mail asking when we were going to apologize for being so wrong all year. But a funny thing happened when Americans actually got to vote. Trump defeated Clinton in perhaps the greatest electoral upset in US history, and our polling nailed the exact margin between the two candidates. Who got it right? The three daily tracking polls -- Investor’s Business Daily, the Los Angeles Times and Rasmussen Reports. We’re the ones who were taking the temperature of the electorate every single day, not dropping in for a handful of days like the others -- usually after a controversy -- for a snapshot of popular opinion. The rest of the polling industry was way off on the 2016 election results and spent the next several weeks apologizing for its worst performance since Dewey-Beats-Truman. Despite all the mea culpa-ing and public breast-beating, though, nothing much changed in the way they count their numbers. The Democratic operative who wanted an apology from Rasmussen Reports, by the way, neglected to follow up the election results with an apology of his own." • Coombs says Rasmussen's polling techniques give better results -- it's just that simple : "Just as we’ve done in previous administrations, we ask pointed questions about most of the major comments and actions of the President and the GOP-led Congress, and quite often the results are not what they’d like to see. But Trump is doing better in our Daily Presidential Tracking Poll than other surveyors say he is. Why? Well, for one thing, since Gallup left the field earlier this year, Rasmussen Reports is the only public opinion organization that is tracking the President’s job approval on daily basis. The rolling number we post every morning at 9:30 Eastern is based on the responses of 1,500 Likely Voters. We pick up 500 new responses every night Sunday through Thursday and drop the oldest 500 off at the other end. We go through additional screening questions to survey Likely Voters for the obvious reason that they’re the ones whose responses count : That’s where the electoral rubber hits the road. These people intend to vote. Many other pollsters survey registered voters, but think how many Americans don’t bother to vote in every election. A survey of registered voters doesn’t really tell you much about how an election is going to turn out. Other companies poll an even wider field by surveying 'Americans' which is basically anybody over 18 who answers the telephone. A survey like that on an upcoming election is largely worthless, although it often spawns a big headline....So it’s 2018, and the forces that oppose Trump are calling us 'outliers' again. The President, not surprisingly, likes our numbers and boasts about them which makes our competitors even angrier. We’re not on the Trump team; we’re not on the anti-Trump team. At Rasmussen Reports, we’re just trying to do an honest job telling you what America thinks." • • • CONRAD BLACK MAKES THE CASE FOR TRUMP IN HIS ELEGANT PROSE. National Review puiblished an essay by Conrad Black on April 10. In it, Black said : "It is strangely satisfying to observe President Trump slowly rising in the polls, like the astonishingly slow lift-off of a rocket or an aircraft. The poll of polls of the last week has him at 43 percent,hardly brilliant, but a little better than Obama eight years ago, who had the greatest political honeymoon in the United States since Dwight D. Eisenhower. The general ambiance is settling. The highbrow Right has ransacked the kitchen and has no more sinks to throw at Trump. It is unprecedented for a former CIA director who has so much hanging out for his sponsorship of partisan activity in a general election to be cyber-foaming at the mouth, as John Brennan is, but after 18 months of it, no one cares or notices. The senior justice and intelligence figures who tried to tamper with the election and then muddy the waters with the Russian-collusion nonsense will have ample time and need to explain themselves....If the politically active and influential people can start back toward disagreeing with one another while upholding reasonable standards of civilized parlance and behavior...the morale of the whole country will rise. Should such a trend begin, the President will certainly have to do his part. I don’t blame him for his publicly expressed detestation of those in the media who accuse him of being a traitor, a crook, a moron, and a mental case, and he is better and wittier at hurling the muck around than his enemies are; and of course he does so from a great official promontory. But if there is any discernible movement to normalize political discourse, it is the duty of the country’s leader to encourage it....From the less frantic sections of the media, there seems to be a slightly greater disposition than there has been not to overreact to the President’s unorthodox informality in enunciating some policies. The hysteria about a trade war with China is declining. China has violated World Trade Organization rules against demanding industrial intelligence as a requisite for exporting to China, and spuriously claims that such practices are voluntary on the part of the exporter. Successive administrations and many other countries have tolerated this as a price to pay for the benefit of having that immense country move steadily into the world economy and political society. But it is taking far more than it gives, shredding the rules most other important countries live by, and has a very large and artificial trade surplus with the United States. Donald Trump said he wouldn’t stand for it and he is right to do as he promised. If the Democrats go the distance on open borders and sanctuary cities, and against the right of census-takers to establish citizenship, they will be massacred at the polls. Of course, China is a powerful country, but so is the United States. China’s debt is 300% of its GDP (about thrice the US percentage) and it still has, to the extent of about 40%, a command economy; it is not invulnerable. The dialogue will presumably now move to the incomprehensible minutiae of the trade specialists, but the result is that the US will be relieved of a significant part of its trade imbalance, and China will be less reckless in ignoring the requirements of a rules-based international trading system. The President is playing a subtle game, in taking this line while expressing respect and admiration for China and its president, Xi Jinping. Somewhat similarly, Mexico, especially as it is about to elect a Marxist president, could not be allowed to continue to export millions of unskilled peasants and immense quantities of dangerous drugs into the US, while raiding American manufacturing and exporting unemployment as well as the replacement products to the US, and encouraging the migrant American companies not to remit their profits. It was an outrage, and from an infinitely less formidable country than China. Trump said he would stop it and he will. If the Democrats go the distance on open borders and sanctuary cities, and against the right of census-takers to establish citizenship, they will be massacred at the polls. In the Middle East, Turkey, Russia, and Iran are natural rivals and any agreements among them are fluid and fragile. The US and the West generally support the major Arab powers as well as Israel. In suggesting that the 2,000 Americans in Syria may be withdrawn, Mr. Trump is presumably telling the Arabs and the Europeans, who love to claim some status in and knowledge of the Middle East (impossible to prove from their performance there since the late Roman Empire), will have to do more of the heavy lifting. This is a delicate game in the most cynical and unstable region of all, and this President and his new Secretary of State and national-security advisor are the best equipped Americans to cope with it since Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger. None of it is easy. " • • • DEAR READERS, I have only one thing to say -- Thank you, Conrad Black. You made our day.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Trump and Macron Have Made Their Deal on Iran and Trade, but What Will Merkel and the Rest of Europe Do?

THE NEWS TODAY IS THAT FRANCE AND AMERICA HAVE KISSED AND MADE UP. At least for public consumption, that is, although French President Emmanuel Macron and US President Donald Trump have a lot of reasons to love each other. • • • WHAT WAS THE PHOTO-OP VISIT ALL ABOUT? It was certainly more than the oohs and aahs over Melania Trump's gorgeous Chanel gown or Brigette Macron's Lous Vuitton gown, also pretty spectacular -- although trying to compete with Melania on a political catwalk is a lot like going to Paris and not noticing the Eiffel Tower. Cannot be done. • So, the important stuff aside, what is happening as Macron [MA-crahn, please, not Ma-CRON] wrapped up his US visit with an address to Congress. • President Macron wants to be the leader of Europe. To do that, he has to replace Germany's Chancellor Merkel and her deep-pocket check book. Although France has the 3rd largest economy in Europe, after Germany and the UK, its bank balance is negative. If he can boost his second-rate financial position by having the US pay some of Europe's bills so he can take credit, that would help him look like a real alternative to Merkel -- something many EU leaders would like but are afraid to talk about. We all know that President Trump has demanded from the beginning that Europe pull its own weight financially. BUT, if Macron can persuade Trump to stay in Syria to support a real settlement, if he can perusade Trump to make a dela on tariffs that will even slightly favor EU exports into the US (something Merkel is hopelessly inadept at doing), and IF he can convince Trump to renegotiate rather than scrap the Iran deal -- which would allow the lucrative EU business with Iran to continue and grow -- Macron would have serious credentials to wave at the other EU member states who have long suffered from the German hegemony that uses them as cash cows while refusing to free them from slavishly following the German-model in order ot develop thier own vastly different economies. • Et Voilà !! As the French say. I have to add that 65% of the French do not believe Macron can pull it off, but about the same percentage gave the 40-year-old no chance of winning the French presidency. Et Voilà ??? • • • THE STATE DINNER. There is nothing to say about Melainia Trump's perfection at her job as First Lady. Add to that her ability to speak to the entire French delegation in French and we have another Et Voilà ! The conservative Parisian daily Le Figaro put it this way : "Diplomatic dinners have marked history, from ancient Greece to the Medici banquets to Talleyrand's dinners at the Congress of Vienna meant to save France because of the talent of its chefs. Today, customs have evolved, but these dinners continue to be important." And, who but the French would center a story about the White House State Dinner around French experts on the history of cuisine. Le Figaro quoted Yves Schemeil, a political science professor : "State Dinners have become obligatory, but they advance diplomacy. People are always friendly when at table together." And, Patrick Rambourg, an historian who specializes in food and cuisine, told Le Figaro : "It was a relatively intimate State Dinner. That tells the world that there is a particularly good rapport between the two presidential couples." Professor Schemeil said : "While serious negotiations are avoided at such dinners, but the two sides can...enjoy a moment of pleasure together. That paves the way for later, serious discussions." And Rambourg concluded : "The Dinner allowed the two presidents to talk a bit more openly than in the serious meetings. One can always say things a little differently at table, when one has eaten well and tasted good wines, even if the State Dinner was a very formal official occasion." • These comments may sound hyper-French and silly, but they reflect centuries of successful French negotiation. We should never forget that the French invented diplomacy long before becoming America's ally 250 years ago. First Lady Melania Trump appreciated this by arranging a private dinner for the two couples at Mount Vernon on Monday, to serve as a reminder of France's "unique status" as America's first ally. • • • IRAN -- THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM. Even before his trip to America, President Macron sat down for an interview with Chris Wallace of Fox News. Macron told Wallace that he has a “very special relationship” with President Trump, suggesting they’re political “mavericks” mutually committed to fighting terrorism and that he will ask Congress during his US visit this week for support in ending the influence of dictators and rogue nations : "We are very much attached to the same values...especially liberty and peace. And I think the US today has a very strong role to play for peace in different regions of the world and especially Middle East.” Macron described the United States as “one of the last resorts” for peace and multilateralism. And he thinks special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into whether the 2016 Trump presidential campaign colluded with Russia to influence the outcome of the White House race has “no impact” on Trump’s credibility and his effectiveness on the world stage. Macron also said “I’m not the one to judge” Trump over current controversies or investigations. "I work with him because both of us are very much at the service of our countries on both sides." lace. • The "rogue nation" that most worries Macron, and many in Europe, is Iran. • But, strangely, Europe is pressuring Trump to allow Iran to continue its mid-range ballistic missile program -- missiles that can hit some parts of Europe, as well as Saudi Arabia and Israel. The Washington Free Beacon reported on Tuesday that : "The Trump administration is poised to legitimize Iran's ballistic missile program, granting the Islamic Republic the ability to produce and test a series of missiles capable of striking Israel, according to those familiar with US concessions during ongoing talks over the future of the landmark Iran nuclear deal. After weeks of pressure from European countries, senior Trump administration officials handling the talks are said to have conceded to a demand that Iran only restrict ballistic missile activity to its longer range missiles, leaving untouched its mammoth arsenal of short-range and medium-range missiles that could easily hit Israel and other Middle Eastern nations. The concession, which comes after months of wrangling over the future of the nuclear deal ahead of a May deadline, has roiled congressional officials and administration insiders who have been pressuring the White House to stand firm against these European demands." Senator Ted Cruz, a vocal opponent of the nuclear deal who advocates in favor of tough new restrictions on Iran, told the Free Beacon that the fixes proposed by the Europeans and supposedly endorsed by the Trump administration do not go nearly far enough in addressing Iran's contested missile program : "Obama's Iran nuclear deal was fatally flawed from the beginning.The deal required reckless international concessions and incentivized the international community to turn a blind eye to Iranian bad behavior. These proposed European ‘fixes' don't address the missiles Iran would actually build, the inspection problems that would actually arise, or the eventual sunsets as they would actually occur. They would only constrain the Iranians from doing things they never would have done. President Trump should reject these empty promises and withdraw America from this disastrous deal." The Free Beacon says other European demands include "a basket of so-called fixes to the deal that Iran deal experts and administration insiders say falls far short of President Trump's original demands. This reversal in the negotiating position of the United States could result in Trump deciding to wholly abandon the nuclear deal." • French President Macron is pressuring President Trump to stay in the Iran deal for now -- by agreeing that it needs to be "negotiated," a change in approach for Macron, who has until now called on the US to keep the deal as it is. • The Free Beacon also reported that : "European officials, on a recent trip to Washington, DC, are said to have attended a dinner party where they met with former Obama administration officials and Iran deal supporters to figure out ways to preserve the accord and not give in to Trump's demands, according to sources familiar with the ongoing talks." • One problem for Trump, says the Free Beacon, is that : "There also has been little change in the US negotiating team and its stance since former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was fired by Trump for failing to carry out his hardline stance on reforming the Iran deal, sources said. US officials confirmed to the Free Beacon in recent weeks that the negotiating team has not changed personnel since Tillerson's exit, a disclosure that opponents of the deal have found troubling." An unnamed insider told the Free Beacon : "The Tillerson-McMaster negotiating team is carrying water for the Europeans." The insider was referring to H.R. McMaster, the recently fired national security advisor who also was viewed as going along with European concessions on Iran's nuclear program. The insider said : "They have nothing real to show after months of negotiations. The idea that they are even close to ‘fixing' the JCPOA is farcical." • The points Trump wants renegotiated as his price for staying in the deal include a full restriction of Iran's ballistic missile program (endorsed by many in Congress, as well), but the Europeans and, seemingly, the US team have chosen to focus only on Iran's long-range missile stockpile, with a cap on Iran's missiles that would keep them below a range of around 1,240 miles.This distance is the same one embraced by Iranian supreme leader Ali Khamenei when he issued a 2017 edict on the country's missile program. A State Department official confirmed to the Free Beacon that Iran's long-range capabilities are currently up for discussion. The official would not comment specifically on whether distances would be capped in line with the ayatollah's demand : "We have discussed the areas the President identified in January where he wants to see improvements -- including ensuring Iran never comes close to developing a nuclear weapon and addressing our concerns with the sunset dates, taking strong action if Iran refuses IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] inspections, and preventing Iran from developing or testing a long-range ballistic missile." • President Trump and his administration maintain that the US will walk away from the deal if negotiations fail to produce an acceptable agreement by May. The State Department official said : "This is a last chance. In the absence of a commitment from our European allies to work with us to fix the deal's flaws, the United States will not again waive sanctions in order to stay in the Iran nuclear deal. And if at any time the President judges that agreement is not within reach, the United States will withdraw from the deal immediately." • These alleged recent moves to align the US more closely with Iran's position have angered White House allies and congressional officials, as well as hawks in the Jewish community who believed Trump would finally crackdown on Iran's repeated threats to destroy the Jewish state. One Jewish official close to the White House told the Free Beacon : "I honestly don't know how the President can sell Israel down the river like that. It's bad enough they're trying to deal with missile threats to their north alone. Now Iran gets a green light to perfect missiles that will one day constitute an existential threat to Israel's existence?" • Richard Goldberg, a former top aide to GOP Senator Mark Kirk who currently advises the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told the Free Beacon that the only acceptable fix to Iran's missile program is a complete blanket ban : "A true fix on missiles should align with the Roskam-Cheney bill in the House -- total snapback of all sanctions if Iran develops or tests any nuclear capable ballistic missile, period. That's the gold standard. That's what the Security Council calls for. Otherwise you're just negotiating a bad missile deal to supplement a bad nuclear deal." • Josh Block, a longtime foreign policy professional and former Clinton official who serves as the CEO and president of The Israel Project, told the Free Beacon that by only focusing on Iran's long-range missile capability, the Trump administration is leaving Israel open to attack : "We know that the mullah regime already has the capability to strike targets up to 1,240 miles from Iran's borders -- a range sufficient to hit the State of Israel, our Arab allies across the region, every US military installation and American soldier in the region, and even parts of Europe. Iran's new ballistic missile cap offer is a total sham -- one cooked-up by Iran's allies in Russia, who are already supporting Teheran and Assad's violent war to dominate the Middle East -- designed to fool President Trump, with the support of greedy Europeans who care more about making money." • Can President Macron convince President Trump to give the Iran deal one more extension, to allow Macron to try to move Europe into a position that Trump can accept concerning the ballistic missile program and other elements of the Iran nuclear deal? We should know the answer by May 12. • • • THE SYRIA STRIKE AND IRAN. One element that may persuade Europe to take a tougher negotiation stance with Iran is the US-French-UK strike on the chemical weapons capabilities of Syria. European Union countries, as well as Canada, Australia, members of Arab union and Gulf countries, have fully supported the airstrike. • The one country that condemned the attack was Iran, whose dictator warned that there would be 'consequences' for the region. Iran‘s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei said coordinated airstrikes on Syria by the United States, France and Britain were a crime that would bring no benefit. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has said that the US-led attack against Syria would lead to the destruction of the Middle Eastern countries. • American Thinker says that : "The bluster and heated rhetoric about ‘the region’ was about par for the mullahs. But the mullahs probably realize it was really a strike against Iranian capacities in the region. This strike was the result of one basic problem, that is, that Iran came to Syrian dictator Bashar Assad’s aid, sending fighters and an organized airlift of militia fighters from a number of countries to bolster Mr. Assad’s military and to prepare for retaliation after a chemical attack. The US, UK and French airstrikes also escalated the internal situation in Iran to further destabilize the Iranian regime, uniting the different factions of society in Iran. • American Thinker cites the leading opposition group to the regime, the National Council of Resistance in Iran : "On April 17, 2018, thousands of people in the city of Kazerun demonstrated for the second day running in the city’s main square. The merchants refused to open their shops. The protesters were chanting, 'Our enemy is right here, but they keep saying it is America...No fear, we are all together...the movement will continue until we obtain our rights.'....In another development, on April 16, the families of those detained during the April demonstrations in Ahvaz staged a protest outside the governor’s office and the office of the Majlis Deputy from the city. The security forces attempted to disperse the crowd through intimidation. During the protests by the people of Ahvaz and other cities in Khuzestan Province, hundreds of people, including 11- to 15-year-old children, have been arrested and their fate is unknown. On Sunday, April 15, 2018, in addition to the strikes of merchants and shopkeepers in the cities of Baneh and Javanrood, protests by deprived and oppressed people continued in various cities....At midnight of Sunday, April 15, 2018, suppressive forces attacked houses of Khorasgan people in Isfahan in order to prevent the spread of protests and demonstrations by farmers and others, and arrested a number of farmers and youths in the city. Throughout the day and night, repressive forces had an intense presence around Varzaneh, in an effort to intensify the atmosphere of fear and intimidation. The anti-riot mercenaries also moved toward the city in 20 cars and four buses to stop the demonstrations of the people. On Saturday, in spite of repressive measures in Isfahan, farmers gathered at the Khourasgan Square and Abazar Ave. They chanted : Imprisoned farmers should be freed; farmer dies, but does not accept humiliation; we are the women and men of battle, we will get back our right to water." • Thus, it seems the US, UK and French airstrikes had an impact on the region and especially on the internal situation in Iran. • Will this encourage Europe to strike while Iran is in some disarray, hoping to get a better nuclear deal? That will surely be one of Macron's talking points when he returns to Europe. • • • IRAN THREATENS THE WEST IF THE DEAL IS SCRAPPED. Reuters reported on April 21 that : "Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Saturday Iran’s atomic agency was ready with 'expected and unexpected' reactions if the United States pulls out of a multinational nuclear deal, as US President Donald Trump has threatened to do : “Our Atomic Energy Organization is fully prepared...for actions that they expect and actions they do not expect.” US disarmament ambassador Robert Wood says Washington has been having “intense” discussions with European allies ahead of the May 12 deadline, when US sanctions against Iran will resume unless Trump issues new waivers to suspend them. Iran has said it will stick to the accord as long as the other parties respect it, but will “shred” the deal if Washington pulls out. • • • IS OBAMA WORKING AGAINST TRUMP ON THE IRAN DEAL? In late March, the New York Post's Seth Mandel wrote that in an effort to save the Iran nuclear deal, former top Obama officials in the group National Security Action said : " 'John Bolton is at the nexus of Russia’s interference in our democracy and the NRA’s reckless agenda. It's time to delve deeper into the web of connections among Bolton, Russia, and the NRA.' : The sentence is so bonkers, so pristine in its conspiratorial insanity that it should one day grace a Museum of Natural History exhibit on early-21st-century US politics. Yet it wasn’t from an anonymous troll, or some Hollywood figure with tons of followers but little common sense. It was tweeted by National Security Action -- an outfit run by former top Obama officials. Described by the Washington Post as a 'political strike force,' this NSA is a coterie of veterans from the Obama White House and Hillary Clinton’s campaign, acting as a shadow government to weaponize foreign-policy disputes. It’s a fever-Swamp-in-exile. And it exemplifies everything that’s wrong with top Democrats’ partisan madness in the Age of Trump." The NY Post says NSA co-chairs : "are Ben Rhodes and Jake Sullivan. Rhodes, you’ll recall, was the reckless novice Barack Obama made a top adviser who proceeded to create what he called an 'echo chamber' of lies, distortions and spin about the Iran nuclear deal for pro-Obama reporters and think-tankers to regurgitate. Sullivan’s presence atop a conspiracist machine is more troubling. Unlike Rhodes, he’s knowledgeable, experienced and inclined to public service. Had Clinton won the 2016 election, Sullivan would’ve been the front-runner for national security advisor -- the post to which Bolton has just been named. What’s up with this Bolton/Russia stuff, anyway? It’s all based on the fact that Bolton was asked in 2013 by the then-NRA president to record a pro-gun rights statement for a Russian organization. For that, Sullivan’s group accuses Bolton of being “at the nexus of Russia’s interference in our democracy?” • The NY Post says : "Bolton hates the nuke deal and wants President Trump to scrap it. His opposition stems mostly from the fact that it’s a disastrous mess that legitimized Iran’s program, knifed US allies -- and unchained Teheran’s terror squads with an infusion of cash and a willingness by Obama to look the other way as they bloodied up the Middle East." • The smear of Bolton by Team Obama is the echo chamber reverberating to save its legacy project. As the New York Post put it : "In the New York Times this week, Sherman excoriated Bolton as a warmonger for wanting to tear up the deal : 'The march to military conflict will be hard to stop, especially with Mr. Bolton leading the National Security Council.' With the deal in place, Iran won’t build nukes, because...the mullahs pinky-swore : 'Iran has committed to never obtaining a nuclear weapon.' As absurd as this sounds, it’s a key talking point : If you don’t like the deal, you want war, and anyway Iran promised." • • • WHAT ABOUT ISRAEL? American Thinker wrote in April 20 that : "Debkafile reports on April 17 that Iranian Guard troops are massing in four Syrian air bases near Israel in an apparent preparation for a major attack from UAVs and perhaps by armed thrusts over the Syrian border. President Trump wants to withdraw from Syria and is hoping to do so with only symbolic strikes. However, Iran is using its Syrian ally to threaten major attacks against Israeli population centers. Hezb’allah may attack from Lebanon, while Hamas may stage raids in the south. Iran believes it can now use Syria as a staging base, and while the US wants to wind down the Syrian civil war, it appears that Putin has positioned himself as a deciding factor. Putin now has an alliance with Turkey and Iran, and the large Egyptian army is hoping to stay out....The question is whether Putin wants peace, or whether he wants trouble to create pressure on the US....Israel is very worried about war, because they can sustain a war for only a short time. During that time, Israel may take the imitative and destroy invading forces and foreign bases. The lack of defensive depth in Israel should also worry the world, because Israel will feel compelled to use nuclear weapons as soon as its population centers are attacked. Their back will be against the wall, from their viewpoint, and they will do anything to prevent a second Holocaust." • That is a real doomsday view of what can happen between Israel and Iran, with Syria as Iran's proxy. Even if exaggerated, the possibility of a full-scale war between Israel and Iran will certainly cause Macron to redouble his efforts to get Europe into a negotiating mode with Iran. • As Israeli-boron Shoula Romano Horing wrote for American Thinker : "As Israel is celebrating its 70th birthday, the bad news is that it is still resides in the most dangerous and unstable neighborhood in the world, facing many enemies who wish to destroy it. The Arab public still hates the Jewish State even though its leaders are reconciling themselves to its existence, fearing Iran even more....The good news is that Israel maintains its military superiority and economic prosperity in the Middle East and its ability to deter its enemies, with its willingness and capability to independently take aggressive and deadly actions, even at the risk of escalation. The ugly news is that there is a high probability that Iran, its proxies and the Arab world will try to develop and be willing to use chemical and nuclear weapons against Israel and the Western world. In the short term, Israel's hope is that the Trump administration will abolish the Iran nuclear deal, reimpose suffocating sanctions against Iran, and if necessary be willing militarily to work with Israel to curtail the threat." • The Washington Institute's Andrew J. Tabler wrote articles for the Atlantic and the New York Daily News on April 14 and 15. In them, Tablier said the Syrian civil war "is now arguably the world's largest humanitarian disaster since World War II. The death toll now stands at nearly half a million, though the UN has stopped counting. Countless others are wounded and missing. A US government report that the Assad regime is using a crematorium near the Saidnaya Prison outside Damascus indicates many of their remains may never be found. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees estimates 13.1 million Syrians are in need of humanitarian assistance, with more than 6 million internally displaced and 5 million registered as refugees. Hundreds of thousands more remain unregistered. Estimates of the total number of Syrian refugees in Lebanon today surpass a quarter of the country's population, with only slighter smaller figures for Jordan....Israel, worried about the spike in Iranian militias and influence in Syria, is bombing there like never before. Turkey, concerned about the growth of the Kurdish-dominated forces linked to Ankara's archenemy, the PKK, has invaded northwest Syria, pushing Kurds out of one stronghold in Afrin with threats to do the same in another one, Manbij. Meanwhile, negotiations in Geneva and elsewhere have yet to produce viable ceasefires or anything resembling a political settlement. Like the civil war in neighboring Lebanon, the Syrian Civil War now threatens to morph into the Syria War -- a regional conflagration which seems likely to burn for a generation. And civilians are cursed to live it, and die in it, every day....President Trump's decision to strike the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad for his use of chemical weapons sent a powerful message that use of such munitions will not go unpunished, helping to set up a deterrent on future use. Such strikes have a shelf life, however, and if Assad's past behavior is any indication, future strikes will likely be necessary. It is therefore important to tie future strikes to a viable political process to end the Syrian civil war enshrined in UN Security Council Resolution 2118, the 2013 chemical weapons deal brokered by the United States and Russia. Given that the regime's deployable manpower is so depleted, and is unlikely to be replenished in the near to medium term, Washington can expect Assad to resort to chemical agents again and test Washington's resolve. The Trump administration should therefore incorporate scenarios for future strikes into its recently announced Syria strategy in such a way to force Assad to make political concessions at the negotiating table toward a viable political transition in Syria....Continuing to enforce the chemical weapons red line can give Washington some much needed leverage in political negotiations in Geneva, which to date have only been a cover for Assad, Putin and Khamenei to shoot and gas the Syrian people into submission." • All the Syria news is bad, and Macron understands that Europe is in the line of fire whereas America is not. If he and the rest of Europe hope to prevent another massive influx or the continuing drip-drip of Syrian refugees -- and the economic migrants joining them to look for a better life in Europe -- they need to get behind President Trump's effort to keep Iran from enlarging its nuclear or ballistic missile program. Macron told the US Congress on Wednesday that France will not leave the Iran nuclear deal. Fine. But, what is France going to do about preventing Iranian nuclear-capable ballistic missiles from being pointed or fired at Europe? And, what is France going to do about the European migrant crisis fueled by the Iranian and Russian takeover of the al-Assad regime? • • • DEAR READERS, never fear. The "real" EU leader is on her way to Washington. Emmanuel Macron is the dauphin anxious to be King. But, Angela Merkel is the Kaiser. What will she and President Trump talk about? Surprisingly, Merkel's agenda, unlike the affable and diplomatic French leader's, will probably not center on Iran. • Peter Skurkiss wrote in American Thinker on Wednesday : "German chancellor Angela Merkel's goal for her White House this Friday would be humorous if it weren't so pathetically typical of what America often faces....Ever since Russia annexed Crimea in 2014 and started encroaching on the Ukraine, Western Europe has been demanding that the US sanction the Russians....That brings us to today. President Trump...has recently issued strong sanctions on Russia for meddling in the 2016 US election. So far, so good. But now Merkel and the rest of the German political establishment have flip-flopped. They want President Trump to exempt their county's companies from these tough new sanctions. Frau Merkel plans to bring this request up at her scheduled meeting with Trump at the White House this week on April 27, along with Germany's concerns about America's newfound attitude toward unbalanced trade, Iran, and Trump's withdrawal from the Paris accord." Why? Well, Skurkiss says says : "The Germans are in a pickle. Even more than China, Germany, the economic powerhouse of Europe, relies on exports for its economic well-being. Some 46% of that country's GDP is due to exports in goods and services. That's a staggering amount. For the US, exports account for only about 12% of its GDP. Germany's exports to Russia came to $30 billion in 2017. That might not seem like a lot, but a loss of any of it would hurt German companies at the margin. So Chancellor Merkel wants her industries protected. The Germans desperately need this, as multiple sources say Germany is headed for a recession. On trade with the US, Germany is enjoying a $65-billion surplus. This can only incur Trump's righteous wrath at his April meeting with Merkel." • Poor Chancellor Merkel -- who in the last election barely got to keep her job in Germany, and so in the EU as its acknowledged head -- is now the head of a fragile coalition government. Skurkiss says : "No question, Merkel is coming to Washington with an extremely weak hand to play. If Trump can't wring major concessions out of Germany on trade and other issues, then he's a dunce who doesn't deserve the title of the master of the deal. It would be a fortunate fly who is on the wall at the Trump-Merkel meeting. No doubt, Merkel will insist on her issues. It is as if she and much of Europe are in a time warp, thinking they're still dealing with Obama or someone like him. Other leaders are quicker on the uptake, like Shinzo Abe of Japan and Moon Jae-in of South Korea...and even Little Rocket Man in North Korea. China, too, is becoming "woke" to the new reality." • We should add to the list of the "woke' ones, Emmanuel Macron, the young French President itching to be the acknowledged head of the EU. If Merkel focuses on Russian sanctions, she will be proving once again that Europe likes to bully the US into leading while they sit back. And, as Skurkiss says : "When action is taken, our trans-Atlantic armchair experts criticize that what was done -- for being too much or too little, too harsh, or whatever. This is called ankle-biting. Trade is a good example. Our partners want America to take the lead. In their minds, this means free trade for them but not for us. American markets must be open to them while their industries are allowed protection. Europe has no problem in putting Europe first but goes apoplectic when Trump does likewise for America. An interesting dichotomy, no?" • And, to get to the meat of the Merkel dilemma in dealing with Trump, think about Iran. If Trump actually tears up or at the very least significantly alters the nuclear deal with Iran, both France and Germany would find their post-2015 business dealings with Iran sharply reduced or eliminated. And, what does htat mean? If Iran goes nuclear, who will have to deal with that awful situation? Not France. Not Germany. Right -- the US. • President Macron understands that. He knows that Europe and America are in the Iran deal mess together but that the US is the "Mother" of their weapons. So, when he says he will "negotiate," he very likely means it. The rest of Europe seems more interested in Russian gas for their winter needs, and Iranian deals to pay for the Russian gas. Cozy, isn't it? • As Skurkiss reminds us : "Past US administrations have allowed the word 'leadership' to be terribly misused. A leader isn't one who rolls up his sleeves and does all the heavy lifting. That describes a hired hand more than it does a leader. No, for although a leader may do actual lifting here and there as a way of example, the leader's main role is to set direction for the team, delegate what others are to do, and maintain accountability standards. It's time for the US to get back to that type of leadership. And if others don't like that, they're free to quit the team and look for greener pastures elsewhere." And, it is entirely possible that Merkel and Germany could actually be looking East toward Russia for their future. • Macron has placed France beside Trump and America. What will Merkel do on Friday? That answer will tell us a lot about who the next leader of Europe will be. My guess? Et Voilà !!