First Lady Melania Trump has been out of the public eye for a few weeks, which seems perfectly normal considering she recently underwent kidney surgery. But since lack of facts never seems to get in the way of the media reporting an anti-Trump story, her absence has sparked wild and crazy conspiracy theories that she’s fled her marriage or, most disgusting of all, that she’s trying to conceal the marks of spousal abuse. That one came from Rolling Stone senior writer Jamil Smith, who tweeted his fake news with a dollop of fake sad regret, adding, “I wish that it was a ludicrous prospect.” Well, you got your wish: it is. Nearly as ludicrous as the idea of Jamil Smith having a job in professional journalism. Oh, wait, I forgot: he doesn’t. He works for Rolling Stone.
Politico helped fan the flames of the nonsensical “Where’s Melania?” game by running a story about how her absence had fanned the flames of conspiracy theories, which gave them an excuse to print the conspiracy theories. If that dog-chases-own-tail narrative sounds familiar, it’s the same theory of why James Comey briefed President Trump on the “Russian dossier”: to give CNN a “news hook” as cover for running claims that were patent nonsense. Hey, they didn’t make up the conspiracy theories; they’re just reporting them! Because “reporting” things is their job. Even if those things are ludicrous.
For the record, the First Lady hosted a reception for Gold Star families in the White House last night. Even before that, she sent out a tweet dismissing the rumors and saying she was at the White House with her family and feeling great. While CNN’s Brian Stelter tweeted about her “disappearance,” other journalists responded that at least two reporters had seen her walking with her aides last week.
I guess the real news here is that the First Lady is fine, she’s with her family and once again working on children’s issues close to her heart. Meanwhile, the Beltway media are still printing any ludicrous, unsourced rumors that make the Trump family look bad. In short, everything is back to normal.
During the 2016 election campaign, President Trump often compared Hillary Clinton to former Navy submariner Kristian Saucier to illustrate how the federal justice system was allegedly rigged to protect the powerful. Saucier spent a year in federal prison for taking photos of classified sections of his submarine. Federal prosecutors aggressively pursued him for leaking classified information, arguing that he knew what he did was illegal and he tried to cover it up by smashing his devices. Which was totally unlike what Hillary did because…sorry, I’ve got nothing. Because of the sentence and his prison record, Saucier and his wife lost their house and their cars were repossessed.
President Trump pardoned Saucier and wished him well getting on with his life. And now he is: he’s planning to sue James Comey, Barack Obama and the US Justice Department for violating his right to equal protection under the law. His attorney claims authorities deliberately went hard on Saucier, interpreting his actions as criminal, even though two other sailors on his sub did the same thing and weren’t treated that way. He claims the feds made him out to be a serious criminal to make him seem different from Hillary because they were getting so much flak for letting her off scot-free.
I don’t know if this lawsuit will ever make it into court, but if it does, discovery should be interesting. I should warn him, though: if he has to depend on the DOJ to provide documents related to their investigation of Hillary Clinton, he can file this suit, but his great-grandchildren may have to finish it.
Bill Clinton should be very glad he’s not running for anything now, because his book promotion interview with Craig Melvin that aired Monday on NBC’s “Today Show” would have derailed his campaign as badly as the CBS interview where Roger Mudd asked Ted Kennedy why he wanted to be President and Ted couldn’t come up with a coherent answer. At least Ted didn’t also blurt out that he was the real victim of the Chappaquiddick tragedy, no matter much he might have believed it. But Bill Clinton actually did seem to suggest that he was the real victim of the Monica Lewinsky scandal.
Even in the MeToo era, he is still defiant in not only refusing to apologize to Ms Lewinsky but getting angry at the suggestion that he even should. No wonder he got along so well with Harvey Weinstein. Astoundingly, he also seems to believe that the media were biased against him. As an example of that awful anti-Clinton media bias, Joe Concha in The Hill newspaper pulled up this quote from 1998, in a Tina Brown New Yorker article seeking to quell the rising scandal:
“Now see your President, tall and absurdly debonair, as he dances with a radiant blonde, his wife…Amid the clichés about his charm, his glamour is undersung…Forget the dog-in-the-manger, down-in-the-mouth neo-puritanism of the op-ed tumbrel drivers, and see him instead as his guests do: a man in a dinner jacket with more heat than any star in the room."
Gee, I’ll bet President Trump wishes he could suffer vicious media bias like that.
And here’s another reminder of an era when the media went out of their way to run interference for the guy in the White House, no matter what he was accused of. It’s also a reminder that in his self-serving defensiveness, Bill Clinton didn’t even scratch the surface of everything he’s been accused of.
This article by noted libertarian scholar Steven F. Hayward is the best piece about climate change I’ve seen in quite a while. Unlike most such articles, it’s neither about debunking manmade climate change nor ginning up alarm over it. It’s about how the public has refused to be panicked despite its proponents’ fervent efforts, and how “climate change” as a major worldwide environmental movement is now “over,” having devolved into a completely politicized, “social justice” crusade. But most interestingly, it’s about how it all happened according to a predictable, five-step arc first described by a prominent political scientist ‘way back in 1972.
This is well worth reading, whether you believe climate change is the Apocalypse or a power-grabbing hoax. It’s not about whether there’s any validity to the theory, just why it’s run its course as a public concern and been destroyed by the self-serving political interests that infected it. And why this process will inevitably repeat itself with other sweeping public issues.
For all the eye-opening points in the article, this might be the most surprising of all: Hayward’s bio line states that he is “a senior resident scholar at the Institute of Governmental Studies at the University of California, Berkeley.” I thought expressing views this rational was banned at UC-Berkeley. Say, maybe the climate really is changing!
One of the inexplicably major stories of the day is President Trump rescinding a White House invitation to the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles. It’s being treated by the media as if it’s some sort of major diplomatic incident far outweighing the North Korean nuclear summit, but I’m trying without much luck to work up a good “who cares” over it.
It’s a high honor to be invited to the White House by the President, but only a small number of players planned to go because Trump has criticized the NFL for allowing players to pull protests that show disrespect for the flag and the National Anthem. Also because it’s somehow required of everyone in any field of sports or show business to show contempt for the duly-elected (sorry!) President of the United States or else have mobs of leftists with way too much time on their hands say mean things about them on Twitter. So if they can’t respond to the honor of being invited to the White House by accepting graciously like patriotic adult Americans, then too bad, so sad, sayonara.
The only part of this whole kerfuffle that I think really deserves some publicity is the part that’s getting no publicity, naturally, and that’s what Trump decided to do instead of honoring football players. He’ll be honoring some other people in uniform who don’t have a problem with showing respect for the flag. The story is at the link.
Incidentally, I find it ironic that the Eagles' most prominent protester listed the "social injustices" that he's protesting, and they include "wages and job opportunities." Don't look now, but that under that President you refuse to be seen with, wages are finally going up and unemployment rates, including those for minorities, are at or near record lows. In short, he's doing a lot more to help minority workers than you are by raising your fist during the National Anthem.
Today’s Huck’s Hero salute goes out to Utah-based trucker Darren Phillips, who was driving near Green River in Wyoming when he saw a state trooper wrestling with a driver he’d stopped for speeding. The driver had the cop on his back and was trying to take his gun, and there was nobody around for backup. So Phillips stopped his truck, ran over and put the suspect into a choke hold. The trooper cuffed him, and then Phillips learned that the driver was fighting because he’d been carrying 70 pounds of marijuana and some cocaine in his car. As the trooper led him away, the suspect told Phillips, “Nice choke hold.”
Surprisingly, Phillips said he’d never put anyone in a choke hold before, but he did have a pretty good idea of how to do it, since he spent 12 years in the Marines and 14 in the Utah National Guard, pulled two tours of duty in the Iraq War and served as a Black Hawk helicopter chief. The drug suspect probably thought there were no other cops around, but he never imagined that fate would arrange to send in the Marines. Click the link for more.
Let’s also throw a special salute to a Huck’s Hero, Senior Division: Bill Coulter, who lives, appropriately enough, in Independence, Iowa, population about 6,000. Coulter is a Korean War veteran, and his brother and son are also veterans. He was naturally upset to learn that the city council had voted to stop paying to maintain the town’s largest American flag for the veterans memorial, which gets tattered by high winds and has to be replaced every six to 12 weeks at a cost of $310 per flag.
So Mr. Coulter took matters into his own hands. He rounded up some donors, went to a council meeting and said they would pay to replace the flags out of their own pockets. The council had also voted to stop turning on the lights on the town’s “Welcome to Independence” sign. Coulter asked how much that bill was. When he found out it was a whopping $10 a month, he told them he’d pay that, too.
After listening to Coulter step up and volunteer to take on the town's responsibilities himself, the council voted unanimously to reverse their decision: the town will pay to keep the flag flying and the sign lighted. The city manager said the council thought it was a prudent decision, but residents voiced their opinion, and the reversal was “an appropriate example of democracy at work.” Or more precisely, the power of being shamed by the example of an elderly veteran who showed them what stepping up to do your duty looks like.
One small part of a confidential letter written early this year to special counsel Robert Mueller by the Trump legal team (before Giuliani came aboard) and leaked to the New York Times had the anti-Trump media in a dither all day Monday. Never mind that it concerned something entirely hypothetical: whether or not the President can be charged with obstruction of justice and if he has the constitutional authority to pardon himself.
Legal analysts were all over TV to discuss whether or not these things could happen. The way the talking heads were carrying on, hour after hour, about the President thinking he’s “above the law,” you’d have thought Trump actually HAD pardoned himself. And that’s exactly the impression they wanted to give, even though in reality he is not doing it and has no need whatsoever to do it. Why wait for an actual constitutional crisis that almost certainly will never happen when you can go right ahead and act one out?
Trump, bless him, assisted them in their effort to make him look guilty of something by tweeting that “numerous legal scholars” say “I have the absolute right to PARDON myself.” It’s not the first time he’s pointed this out, either; he tweeted something similar last July. I’m thinking the best way Rudy Giuliani can help him as his attorney is to just take his phone away and throw it into the Potomac.
Speaking of Rudy, he had to go on the air and deal with the veeeeery serious legal questions posed by George Stephanopoulos but found the whole topic amusing. Unless a President has been so obviously railroaded that the electorate sympathizes, the idea of him pardoning himself is so politically explosive that he essentially can’t do it, whether or not the Constitution technically allows him to. That’s because the Constitution also includes a little provision called “impeachment” to keep a President from flouting the law.
To my mind, this was all an exercise in distraction from the growing pile of evidence suggestive of politically-motivated misconduct on the part of the DOJ and FBI. I wanted to make sure I was on the right track about this, so I looked to see if go-to legal mind Andrew C. McCarthy had written a column about it yet, and sure enough, he had.
McCarthy does say that, yes, the President can pardon himself, but that if Congress believes he has abused the pardon in doing so, they can impeach him, and the President does not have the authority to block his own impeachment. But even if the Senate convicts him and removes him from office, the ex-President cannot be prosecuted for whatever he pardoned himself for. Got that?
He also points out that a pardon can be granted before there is any criminal charge, as when President Ford pardoned Nixon. President Carter issued a mass pardon of draft evaders, though they hadn’t yet been charged, and Lincoln similarly pardoned Confederate soldiers and sympathizers. So, technically, Trump could go ahead and issue pardons to anyone Mueller is looking at, including himself. It doesn’t apply to future actions, of course, just to those that have already happened or have been alleged.
McCarthy guesses that Trump’s side is talking about this to show how cooperative he’s being with the investigation, the implication being, “No, I’m not going to sit down for a wide-ranging interview, but, look, I deserve some credit for the support I’ve given to this. I can’t be indicted, I have the power to fire Mueller or anybody else I want, and I could pardon anyone I want –- even myself –- but see how I’m refraining from using my sweeping power?”
But this approach is not one McCarthy would take. There is still no obstruction case against the President, he says, so why get into this? As for whether or not Mueller could compel Trump to testify, he says that as long as Trump has not been implicated in a crime (and it appears he hasn’t) and doesn’t possess evidence that he alone can provide to prove the prosecutor’s case, then there’s no reason for him to testify and it’s just a hypothetical.
Hypothetical or not, the anti-Trump media types have been foaming at the mouth just thinking about this stuff. By the way, did you know that when Hillary was the presumed winner back in 2016, a few were speculating that she might pardon herself once in office and wipe the slate clean of her many transgressions? I don’t remember the media going apoplectic at the prospect of that.