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While Americans around the nation, including in Chicago, were protesting the death of George Floyd and demanding the recognition of Black Lives Matter, it has been barely remarked upon for a week that Sunday, May 31st, was the most violent day in Chicago in 60 years. In that 24-hour period, 18 people were killed, including a high school student, college students with big dreams for the future, a hardworking father of two shot from a car driving by, and a father of three who was on his way to pay his phone bill when he was fatally shot.

From Friday evening through Sunday at 11 p.m., 25 people were killed and 85 wounded by gunfire. Most of the victims were black. This article tells more about them, and the heartbreaking loss of their lives for no reason whatsoever. They weren’t victims of cops but of an entrenched system that’s allowed poverty and violence to fester for decades as the violent death toll continues to mount. Don’t their lives matter, too? If there must be systemic change so their loss won’t be in vain, then stop the blame-shifting and political games, and change the system that actually led to their deaths.

Digital Biden

June 11, 2020

I joked recently that the Democrats’ best strategy for getting Joe Biden to November without him ever having to come out of his basement to answer questions live in front of a crowd or (shudder!) debate Trump would be to take a cue from the old TV show, “Max Headroom.” Just create a “virtual candidate” who only appears on TV screens and let political consultants feed him things to say. Well, I’ve got to stop giving them ideas because that seems to be exactly what they’re planning to do.

Fox News obtained a leaked video conference of top Biden surrogate Terry McAuliffe telling Virginia Democrats, "People say all the time, 'Oh, we got to get the vice president out of the basement. He's fine in the basement. Two people see him a day: his two body people. That's it. Let Trump keep doing what Trump's doing."

(If he does have to come out of the basement to debate Trump, I predict he’ll wear a face mask so we can’t tell that his lips don’t match the words being dubbed in long-distance by a Joe Biden impersonator at the DNC.)

McAuliffe went on to say that they’re concentrating on “building the digital,” i.e., building up social media messaging and online ads. I assume they’re also relying on traditional news media to keep attacking everything Trump says and does while promoting Biden and ignoring his Max Headroom-like brain gl-gl-gl-glitches, to provide the Democrats with billions of dollars’ worth of free in-kind campaign contributions.

Question: If Biden does win, will he also make his inaugural speech from a TV monitor, or will they have developed a hologram of him by then? Oops, sorry! Didn’t mean to give them any more ideas!

Behind Closed Doors

June 11, 2020

With so many political leaders rushing to virtue-signal and genuflect to the most radical mobs in ever-more-embarrassing ways (the Minnesota city council voting to defund the police because wanting burglars kept out of your house is an example of "privilege," or Nancy Pelosi and her wealthy white colleagues all dressing in African garb like a Beverly Hills community theater Kwanzaa pageant), Americans might be forgiven for thinking that the leadership class of one of the major parties has gone stark raving nuts. But I’d like to assure you that, at least in some instances, that’s not true. They aren’t all insane. Some of them are just insanely cynical hypocrites who know that what they’re saying in public is nuts, but they’re just afraid to admit it publicly.

To quote Charlie Rich, “But when they get behind closed doors…” (Warning: Bad language at the link.)

Audio has leaked of a private conference call between Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot and all the city’s Alderman in which she and Ald. Raymond Lopez went at each other in a profane exchange over Lightfoot’s dangerously weak response to rioting and looting. Lopez was concerned that the violence and lawlessness would spread from urban into residential areas.

Lopez said, “I’ve got gang bangers with AK-47s walking around right now, just waiting to settle some scores. What are we going to do and what do we tell our residents other than ‘good faith people stand up’? It’s not going to be enough.”

Lightfoot tried to ignore Lopez’s question, then attacked him personally for asking it, but it’s obvious from the results in the streets that he was right, and I assume she knew it. May 31 was later revealed to be the deadliest day in Chicago in 60 years, with 18 people killed in 24 hours (by comparison, in Chicago’s notorious St. Valentine’s Day Massacre of 1929, only seven men were murdered.) The 18 black lives that were lost, including dads, college students and a high school girl, mattered a great deal to their loved ones, and they should matter to civic leaders whose #1 priority is to ensure public safety.

In the interest of full disclosure, I will note that the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre did take place under a Republican Mayor. He was, in fact, the last Republican Mayor of Chicago. He left office in 1931, and the city has been run entirely by Democrats ever since. But Chicago's violence, corruption and racism are, of course, all Trump’s fault.

Speaking of Chicago, did you really think that Jussie Smollett wouldn’t try to use the current war on cops to wiggle out of his six felony charges for lying to authorities and faking a hate crime?

We’ve all been waiting for Judge John Gleeson’s amicus brief on the Michael Flynn case, and it finally dropped on Wednesday. Sure enough, this “friend of the court” is no friend of Flynn, or apparently of justice being served in this case.

Recall that Judge Emmet Sullivan personally asked Gleeson to write it; this was just a couple of days after the op-ed Gleeson had co-authored on the subject that happened to appear in the WASHINGTON POST. Entitled “The Flynn case is over when the judge says it’s over,” this commentary told us all we needed to know about where Gleeson was going to stand and why the judge chose him to write the brief.

"The record reeks of improper political influence,” Gleeson stated on May 11, without even bothering to make that case. In fact, as I said weeks ago after reading the piece, he might as well have just made a copy of that and filed it as his amicus brief. That’s pretty much what he did, except the brief is a LOT more of the same.

If you have the time and inclination to read this 80-page pile of nonsense, here’s a pdf of the brief filed by Judge Gleeson.

Gleeson asserts in his brief that the DOJ’s decision to drop the Flynn case is “a gross abuse of prosecutorial power’ and, unbelievably, accuses them of “attempting to provide special treatment to a favored friend and political ally of the President of the United States.” This is such a politicized and wrongheaded piece of bilge, it’s hard to even know where to start.

Byron York, speaking with Martha MacCallum Wednesday evening, pointed out that it’s the “sole responsibility” of the Department of Justice to withdraw charges if it so chooses. It is NOT within the judge’s authority to deny that.

I'll add this: We've seen before that judges who don’t like the President can’t seem to help attributing the worst motives to everything he or his administration does, and this case is one more example. They just make it up and go with that. Where does Judge Gleeson get off with this “special treatment” garbage? President Trump has stood back and let the wheels of so-called justice turn ever-so-slowly while his “favored friend and political ally” was financially and professionally ruined. If that’s “special treatment,” I sure wouldn’t want it. The attorney general has solid motives for wanting to drop this case, ample reason to be troubled by what he has seen in the prosecution –- and persecution –- of General Flynn. Gleeson’s brief does not speculate about these, even though he has no trouble speculating about the President’s motives.

Gleeson makes three arguments: 1) that Sullivan’s court has the authority to deny the AG’s motion to dismiss, 2) that it SHOULD deny the AG’s motion to dismiss, and 3) that in sentencing Flynn, the court should “consider the defendant’s perjury,” a reference to his earlier guilty plea. Unbelievable.

To make this argument, Gleeson must maintain that the predicate for investigating Flynn was sound. As explained well in a piece at TheConservativeTreehouse.com, he has to defend not only the origins of “Spygate” but also everything else that stemmed from that. How does he do that when so much that has presumably been learned about it by U.S. Attorney John Durham is still under wraps?

"When you read the brief,” this article says, “if does make you wonder if Gleeson might be attempting to frame the current Flynn argument from the perspective of justifying the total Spygate operation. This approach would be of benefit to the corrupt DOJ and FBI small group who are viewed to have purposefully weaponized their agencies for political intents.”

To counter this, the DOJ might have to open up about why the predicate for the investigation of Flynn is invalid. After all, that’s what the DOJ is claiming in its decision to drop the case. If the investigation was corrupt, then the questioning of Flynn on January 24, 2017, was “materially and fundamentally flawed.” I would add that this is especially true considering FBI investigators recommended closing the case on January 4.

In suggesting that Flynn perjured himself by reversing his guilty plea, Judge Gleeson conveniently avoids the claim that Flynn's plea was coerced. He’s saying Flynn should be punished for lying about a crime he was coerced to plead guilty to. “Flynn has indeed committed perjury in these proceedings,” Judge Gleeson says, “for which he deserves punishment, and the Court has the authority to initiate a prosecution for that crime.”

Oh, but Judge Gleeson doesn’t say that Judge Sullivan should go THAT far, even though he could. Gleeson magnanimously recommends that Sullivan merely “take Flynn’s perjury into account in sentencing him on the offense to which he has already admitted guilt.” Perhaps the thinking is that this is a good way to justify prison for Flynn, which goads President Trump into pardoning him. Flynn, once again, is collateral damage in the effort to hurt Trump politically.

An article at RedState makes some strong additional points.

For one thing, it points out that Gleeson’s brief cites media reports --- which “are sourced to anonymous government officials, which we now know were former Obama administration officials who fed the entire false fantasy “Trump-Russian” collusion argument to gullible and willing anti-Trump media for the past nearly four years.”

Also, it notes that the IG report Gleeson used in his brief was necessarily limited, as “there is NO DOUBT that DOJ has more information available to it than the information reported in the IG report that Gleeson relies on.” In other words, Barr knows a lot more about this case than Gleeson does.

Gleeson also relies on that Intelligence Community Assessment from January 2017, which, as the RedState article says, “reached certain ‘conclusions’ that have been determined to not have been factually accurate.” As an example I would add that John Brennan argued strongly in favor of including the fictitious Steele “dossier” in that report and was able to get a summary in.

The RedState article goes into legal precedent as well, noting language from the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals that Judge Gleeson conveniently left out when he cited the case the U.S. v. Hamm: “As the district judge acknowledged, the prosecutor is the first and presumptively the best judge of where the public interest lies. The trial judge cannot simply substitute his judgment for that of the prosecutor.”

And this, from the same ruling: “...[T]his is a case in which the Government...decided that it would best serve the public interest to dismiss the indictments against the appellants. Neither this court on appeal nor the trial court may properly reassess the prosecutor’s evaluation of the public interest.” In other words, it’s Barr’s call.

Perhaps Gleeson’s insane, politically-charged argument won’t matter except to show the world even more of what is going on in Judge Sullivan’s kangaroo court. The case now goes to the D.C. Court of Appeals, and oral arguments are set for this Friday.

The America I Love

June 11, 2020

Right now, the media are dominated by voices claiming that America is a land of racism and hatred, built on oppression and slavery and white supremacy. Well, pardon my language, but they are full of bull flop. There are a handful of bad apples, but it’s a very big barrel, and if we really were to do as the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. dreamed and judge each other by the content of our characters rather than the color of our skin, I bet we’d mostly find a lot of good, caring people of every shade. If you don’t believe me, turn off all the hyperventilating hate merchants for a moment and look at this story:

Last Thursday, there was a car crash in Indianapolis, and a woman was trapped under an overturned van. Nearby resident Laurie Collins reported on Facebook that she heard the crash and ran to the scene. She said that suddenly, many people “came out of nowhere” to help. Some comforted and reassured the woman and tried to assess her condition while the others determined to lift the van off her somehow. They gathered around, called out, “1...2…3!” But they couldn’t move it. So more guys joined in, and the second time, they did the seemingly impossible: they lifted the van and pushed it off of her.

As you can tell from the photo, and from Collins’ description, there were “all kinds of different people and they were all trying to help together.” Please note that the people who rushed to help were men and women, and all different races. I’m sure many of them didn’t know the race of the victim, and couldn’t care less. When they heard someone was in need, and rushed in, joined together, and all lifted in the same direction to help.

That is the America I love and the American people I know. No matter how many buildings are set on fire or statues are vandalized or phony history books are forced onto students, you will never convince me otherwise.

NFL Guilt

June 11, 2020

Last week, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell joined in the rush to take a knee by declaring that "we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier” when they enraged many fans by kneeling during the National Anthem. He said he would be "reaching out" to players who have "raised their voices," and the NFL will "encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest...Without black players, there would be no National Football League and the protests around the country are emblematic of the centuries of silence, inequality, and oppression of black players, coaches, fans, and staff."

Predictably, that was not good enough for the Rev. Al Sharpton, who is turning his funeral eulogies for George Floyd into political attacks on President Trump, and in Houston, into a demand that the NFL rehire quarterback Colin Kaepernick. This conveniently overlooks the fact that Kaepernick has had multiple opportunities to play and blown them with his own behavior. Last year, he was given an unprecedented private tryout for all 32 NFL teams, on a Saturday when the teams are normally busy preparing for games. But after the scouts showed up, Kaepernick moved it to another venue on 30 minutes’ notice. He also spoke to the XFL and AAF, but demanded a guaranteed paycheck 80 times larger than their normal salaries.

I’d be interested to hear if Goodell is equally apologetic about the league’s oppression of players who wanted to express their deep feelings about other issues, like the ban on the Cowboys wearing stickers honoring five Dallas Police officers who were murdered by a sniper during a protest of the treatment of blacks by police in Louisiana and (again) Minneapolis. Five Dallas cops died and nine others were injured as they heroically tried to protect the lives of the people who came to denounce them. But that doesn’t fit the current media narrative, so I’ll note that the NFL has also banned expressions of support for a number of other causes, including religion, mental health, and fighting domestic violence and breast cancer. That’s because they all violate the league’s ban on using uniforms to convey any unapproved messages on game day:

This stems from the original concept that’s gotten lost in all the fury and finger-pointing: when players are in the stadium, they’re in their workplace, representing their employers. Contrary to claims, Kaepernick never had his First Amendment rights taken away. That only prevents the government from censoring you. He was free to speak out on any subject on his own time, on radio, TV or a soapbox in the park. But he wasn’t allowed to stage divisive political protests that alienated customers while he was at work.

If the NFL is forced to take back Kaepernick, then does that rule apply everywhere now? Say you work at a car dealership, and you have some controversial opinions on social issues that you’re so passionate about, you feel you must force customers to listen to them before they can test drive a car, or make your colleagues sit through them every time they come into work. So now, you no longer have to worry about being sent to HR or fired with cause, you can just keep on doing it? How long do you think that dealership will remain in business?

Allowing these divisive protests in a place where fans traditionally came to escape from politics, put aside differences and root for their teams cratered NFL TV ratings. In the past few seasons, ratings have crept up again, largely because of the divisive politics finally receding. Goodell now wants to bring it all back with a vengeance.

This brings up another question, asked countless times by former NFL fans: How has Roger Goodell kept his job? He normally makes about $40 million a year; although during the pandemic shutdown, he agreed to reduce his salary to zero, and many of us think he’s finally being paid what he’s worth. His admitted wrong decisions (which he’s now been on both sides of) have cost the league billions, driven away fans and seriously harmed its reputation. He even admits he was in charge during years of “oppression of black players, coaches, fans and staff." If you did that to your employer’s business, would you still be employed?

Several prominent business leaders, such as the CEO of the Second City comedy troupe, have found themselves so wracked with white guilt that they’ve resigned their own jobs so they can be replaced by a black applicant. In that spirit, Goodell should step down to be replaced by a black former NFL player.

I nominate Burgess Owens.

In a wide-ranging interview with FOX NEWS’ Bret Baier, Attorney General Bill Barr offered an update on the criminal investigation into allegations of FISA fraud and other abuses of power on the part of the FBI. I joined Judge Jeanine Pirro on Sean Hannity’s TV show Tuesday night to discuss it, as well as the escalating anti-police rhetoric that dominated Tuesday’s news.

The portion of Barr’s interview dealing with the Durham investigation is in this segment.

Incidentally, the Barr interview comes on the heels of a huge uptick in Senate inquiries on the subject of FBI misconduct, by both the Judiciary and Homeland Security Committees, as I reported in this previous commentary, in case you didn’t see it. Sen. Lindsay Graham and Sen. Ron Johnson, who chair these two committees, will finally be using subpoena power; Johnson has a long list of documents to examine and witnesses he intends to call. As I reported, Graham has been hitting some resistance from the FBI to his request to interview “Case Agent 1,” identified as Stephen Somma. Somma played a pivotal role in the set-up to spy on Trump campaign associate Carter Page.

Anyway, in his interview with Baier, AG Barr made it clear –- in his calm, understated manner –- that he sees the investigation into the Trump campaign as “very aggressive” considering the “very thin, slender reed” that was the basis for undertaking it.

"It seemed that the Bureau was sort of spring-loaded at the end of July to drive in there and investigate a campaign,” he said, “and there really wasn’t much there to do that on. And that became more and more evident as they went by but they seem to have ignored all the exculpatory evidence that was building up and continue pell-mell to push it forward.”

I would add that “Case Agent 1” appears to be the lower-level person who was making that happen in the beginning by choosing the information that would --- or wouldn't --- go into the FISA warrant application against Page. Was he taking this initiative on his own, or was he given direction from higher-ups on the “7th Floor”?

Barr was also concerned that after the election, they went “right back at it,” even though the Steele dossier, the main evidence being used, “was falling apart.” They were even making it public that they were investigating Trump when it was “painfully obvious” that “there was nothing there.” He said in the interview that he was “very troubled” by what had been called to his attention, though he wouldn’t characterize it further than that. Getting into specifics would obviously be premature. But in general, he was blunt.

"Here’s the thing," he told Baier. "For the first time in American history, police organizations and the national security organizations were used to spy on a campaign, and there was no basis for it. The media largely drove that, and there were all kinds of sensational claims...being made about the President that could have affected the election. Later on, in his administration, there were actions taken that really appear to be efforts to sabotage...” He said if people wanted to accuse of him of being politicized for looking at this, then “so be it,” because “that’s the job of the attorney general.”

Judge Jeanine highlighted one particular comment made by Barr that might not get the attention it deserves, given all the necessary focus right now on our suffering cities and the attacks on police departments. But it should offer at least some reassurance to my more pessimistic readers who don’t expect anything to ever come of all this investigating in terms of criminal referrals. Barr said (paraphrasing) that the wheels of justice have been described as turning very slowly, and they do, but don’t think that means people are going to get away with it.

"This isn’t being driven by producing a report,” Barr said in the interview. “We’re trying to get to a point where we can hold accountable anyone who crossed the line and committed a criminal violation.” He said there will also be some form of report, though, to provide “public disclosure” of what happened. If certain people were involved whose prosecution might be seen as too political for him to touch --- you know who I mean --- I would hope the report will tell the world the COMPLETE narrative, citing every last bit of evidence against every last person implicated.

In my own comment to Sean, I went back to something said in a previous segment of his show to make a point about the FBI. The implication had been made that a person in poverty is more likely to be engaged in crime. As someone who grew up poor, I have to take exception with that. I made the point that all these officials at the FBI that Barr is looking at now are NOT poor and NOT poorly educated. It’s not a “money problem”; it’s a moral problem. Poor people are not predisposed towards crime just because they’re poor. I saw that comment as a slam on poor people, many of whom are scrupulously honest. I will add here that I’d put such people up against the likes of Comey, Rosenstein and McCabe any day.

Moving on...Most of the media failed to cover the "FBI" portion of Barr’s interview, choosing instead to focus on, say, discrepancies between his account of what happened in clearing Lafayette Square and what some reporters have said took place. (I’d link to some of these, but your head might explode.) That way, they didn’t have to cover what he said about the FBI at all.

Is it any wonder that MSNBC hired Lisa Page as an on-camera legal analyst?

In the latest attempts to scrub our cultural history of anything that upsets current PC sensitivities, it was announced that in a reboot of “Looney Tunes” (perfect timing for that!), famed hunter Elmer Fudd will no longer carry a shotgun.

Will he use a bow and arrow, like Ted Nugent? He’ll have to be quite an archer to hunt ducks and rabbits that way. I’d strongly advise him not to order any duck or rabbit traps from the Acme Company. Oh wait: Warner Brothers released a preview clip showing him running after Bugs Bunny with a scythe. A scythe?! How is that less violent than a shotgun? Besides, what kind of message is it for kids to show someone running while carrying a sharp instrument? It’s not safe!

Also, the HBO Max streaming service has yanked “Gone With The Wind” until they can add “a discussion of its historical context and a denouncement” of its sympathetic depiction of the Old South. I guess this is for viewers who need a reminder that (A.) the movie was made in 1939 and based on a book by a Southerner, Margaret Mitchell; (B.) Scarlett O’Hara was personally biased toward the South; or (C.) slavery was bad.

In its nearly four-hour length, “GWTW” covers a lot of territory, and it’s not all sympathetic to the Old South (its hero, Rhett Butler, is shunned for telling the Southerners that they’re suffering from “dreams of victory” and have nothing but “cotton, slaves and arrogance;” and it doesn’t spare us the carnage, waste and suffering caused by that ill-founded decision.) It also makes a number of points about all sorts of human dilemmas unrelated to its specific era, from personal relationships to moral decisions and their consequences.

One scene particularly resonates now: As Sherman is starting to burn Atlanta, Scarlett mocks the retreating Confederate army. Rhett replies, “I wouldn't be in such a hurry to see them go, if I were you, my dear. With them goes the last semblance of law and order.” Immediately thereafter, criminals start rampaging through the streets.

All the liberals demanding that we defund the police should have to watch that scene a few hundred times.