Rod Rosenstein’s Unwanted Prominence

Rod Rosenstein’s Unwanted Prominence
by JBS President Emeritus John F. McManus

From a long and distinguished career in Maryland where he was never known as a national figure, the nation’s second highest law enforcement official has suddenly risen to high prominence.

Rod Rosenstein U.S. Attorney (photo from Wikimedia Commons by the United States Department of Justice, public domain).

Rod Rosenstein served as a U.S. attorney in Maryland under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Selected to be second-in-command at the Justice Department by Trump appointee Jeff Sessions, Rosenstein found himself catapulted into unwanted attention when President Trump asked him for a letter providing his opinion of James Comey’s performance as Director of the FBI. His response, forthrightly criticizing the now-deposed head of the FBI, contains important perspective about Mr. Trump’s sudden decision to oust the FBI leader.

Rosenstein’s letter stated rather bluntly that Comey’s handling of the Bureau’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s careless transmissions of sensitive email had compromised the Bureau’s “reputation and credibility.” It was wrong and without precedent for the FBI Director to announce his personal conclusion after the investigation and to further claim that “the case should be closed without prosecution.” What the FBI Director should have said, claimed Rosenstein, was that “the FBI had completed its investigation and presented its findings to federal prosecutors.” It was only their job either to proceed or close down the case.

Additional damaging perspective from the Deputy Attorney General stated that Comey “ignored another longstanding principle: we do not hold press conferences to release derogatory information about the subject of a declined criminal investigation.” He then termed as a serious mistake Comey’s late October letter to Congress announcing discovery of even more transmissions of classified material on the former Secretary of State’s unsecured computer. Comey sent a letter to Congress about this new discovery less than two weeks before Election Day 2016. Hillary Clinton has claimed that the letter and publicity about it cost her the election. “Silence,” said Rosenstein in his letter, would not have been concealment; it would have been following “long-standing policy that we refrain from publicizing non-public information.”

In short, claimed Rosenstein, it was not Comey’s role to publicly state that Mrs. Clinton had been “extremely careless.” And the FBI leader violated long-standing FBI policy to refrain from issuing conclusions about a matter under investigation.

During his career, Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein has always been known as a completely apolitical public servant. He neither knew nor wanted to know whether individuals he dealt with were conservative or liberal, Republican or Democrat. When directed by a President – his ultimate superior – to produce a letter citing his opinion of Comey’s performance, he did so. That the letter became President Trump’s ammunition in his decision to oust the FBI Director was not Rosenstein’s intention.

A completely separate question now remains. Was the firing of James Comey, whom Mr. Trump had previously praised for his competence, done to deflect attention away from the ongoing investigation of possible Russian influence in the 2016 presidential contest? Mr. Trump’s extremely brief letter firing James Comey contained the seemingly extraneous assertion: “While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation….” That comment in the middle of the letter ousting James Comey may have done exactly what it was intended not to do: add fuel to the fire about possible Russian collusion in the election. That matter is no longer on the front pages or dominating news broadcasts.

We can only hope that time will tell either that there is nothing to the rumors about Russian meddling or that there is plenty of fire that had already generated a considerable amount of smoke, maybe even enough to bring a sitting President down.

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McManus_2Mr. McManus served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the late 1950s and joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966. He has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and President. Mr. McManus has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs and is also author of a number of educational DVDs and books. Now President Emeritus, he continues his involvement with the Society through public speaking and writing for this blog, the JBS Bulletin, and The New American.


Indonesia’s Strange Kind of Justice

Indonesia’s Strange Kind of Justice
by JBS President Emeritus John F. McManus

He was the Governor of Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital city. In an election held in April, however, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama lost his prestigious and powerful post. Was it because he was incompetent? Was he guilty of some form of corruption, a common finding in some other Asian nations? Was he afflicted with ill health or advancing age? No, none of those reasons led to his defeat.

Basuki Tjahaja Purnama was Governor of Jakarta (photo from Wikimedia Commons by Cyrilobrien CC BY-SA 4.0).

Mr. Basuki’s downfall resulted from a statement he made about the Koran in the nation, which has the largest Muslim population on earth. What happened is that Basuki’s opponents claimed that the Koran, the Muslim holy book, forbids Muslims to vote for a non-Muslim. Basuki is a Christian and his response to that attack included a claim that the Koran issued no such directive. Immediately, he was charged with blasphemy for insulting the Koran, a serious crime in this predominantly Muslim nation.

Whether the Koran does or doesn’t forbid Muslims from choosing a non-Muslim in a political race isn’t this writer’s place to determine. What is of interest is that Basuki had been leading in the polls and was expected to win over Anies Baswedan, a former minister of education who is a Muslim.

One month after being defeated, an Indonesian court found Basuki guilty of blasphemy for his claim. Quickly sentenced to two years in prison in a unanimous decision by the court’s five judges, the former governor of Jakarta now languishes in a prison housing drug dealers, rapists, and other convicts. Indonesian law allows for him to appeal, but not to remain free while his plea is considered. Prosecutors in the case had recommended probation but even they were overruled.

The incident provides a good reminder of the way any similar slur or contrary interpretation aimed at religion is handled in America. Insulting or misinterpreting someone’s religious view is fairly common here, even growing more common. Doing so may properly lead to voter rejection of a candidate seeking office. But immediate prison is impossible thanks to the Constitution’s Bill of Rights.

Human Rights Watch’s Andreas Harsono, an Indonesian researcher, called the verdict and sentence given Basuki “a sad day, even a frightening day.” He added: “If the governor of Indonesia’s largest and most complex city, who is an ally of the Indonesian president, can be brought down and humiliated in this way, what will happen to ordinary Indonesian citizens?” Good question.

The incident in Indonesia should help all Americans appreciate what they have in the U.S. Constitution. Here, slurring or misinterpreting another’s religious views (deliberately or mistakenly) may hurt or boost a candidacy. But it won’t result in being sent to prison.

To help ensure the Constitution is being followed, join the John Birch Society today!

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McManus_2Mr. McManus served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the late 1950s and joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966. He has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and President. Mr. McManus has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs and is also author of a number of educational DVDs and books. Now President Emeritus, he continues his involvement with the Society through public speaking and writing for this blog, the JBS Bulletin, and The New American.


Erdogan A Dictator?

Erdogan A Dictator?
by JBS President Emeritus John F. McManus

Recep Tayyip Erdogan won the election as Turkey’s president in 2014. His time in office has amounted to travelling down a rocky road. The relaxation of strict Islamic rules accomplished by Mustafa Kamal Ataturk after World War I won plenty of applause. But Erdogan, a stricter Muslim, has set out to reverse the nation’s course, and he has done so with what resembles severe dictatorial power.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan has brought Turkey down a rocky road (Photo from Wikimedia Commons by http://www.kremlin.ru CC BY 4.0).

Turning back the cultural clock back to Ataturk days seemed to be the goal of an attempted coup only a year ago. In a matter of days after it was quashed, 9,000 police officers and 21,000 teachers were fired. Thousands more soldiers, judges, lawyers, university deans, and government officials lost their posts. Many were jailed. In addition, the Erdogan government closed several dozen television, radio, and print outlets. And more than 60 newspapers, a score of magazines, two dozen publishing houses, and several news agencies have been shut down. Censorship became the new rule.

Erdogan has blamed the continuing unrest on the followers of Fethullah Gulen, an Islamic cleric living in the United States for the past 16 years. But he denies having any role in the opposition to Erdogan. Still, the ferment among the people hasn’t faded. Erdogan more recently arranged for a nationwide referendum so the people could either choose his style of rule or revert back to the pre-2014 modern style of governing attributed to Ataturk. The result of the mid-April plebiscite had Erdogan winning by the slimmest of margins (51.4 percent) amid widespread belief that the vote count wasn’t accurate.

Nevertheless, with new powers available to him as a result of the referendum, Erdogan initiated a new round of arrests, firings, and suspensions. Close to 4,000 additional civil servants have been fired and 45 civil society groups and health clinics have been shut down. The government even shut down Wikipedia.

In just the past year, therefore, approximately 140,000 individuals have lost their jobs, free press has been scuttled, and more than 200 journalists remain imprisoned. Erdogan insists that his reforms don’t merit calling him a dictator. But international election monitors released a negative report on the conduct of the recent referendum. Many in Turkey believe the election was rigged.

Turkey is one of the 50 original members of the United Nations (there are now 193 members). The nation won acceptance in NATO in 1952, three years after the alliance’s launching. Long seeking approval for membership in the European Union, Turkey’s hopes to be part of the Brussels-based super government have never been realized. Perhaps the fact that 97 percent of Turkey’s land area is in Asia with the remaining three percent at its western tip considered part of Europe keeps the EU from conferring membership. Turkey has long been considered a “bridge to Europe” for many nations in Asia Minor.

But Turkey needs to understand that entangling alliances come with a price detrimental to independence, just as Brexit has demonstrated. From an American standpoint, let’s work to untangle ourselves from our UN and NATO alliances to preserve American liberty and independence. Inform yourself and others on the dangers of foreign entanglements.

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McManus_2Mr. McManus served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the late 1950s and joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966. He has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and President. Mr. McManus has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs and is also author of a number of educational DVDs and books. Now President Emeritus, he continues his involvement with the Society through public speaking and writing for this blog, the JBS Bulletin, and The New American.


Saudi Arabia on UN’s Status of Women Panel

Saudi Arabia on UN’s Status of Women Panel
by JBS President Emeritus John F. McManus

Guess who won a seat on the UN’s Commission on the Status of Women? This is the Commission dedicated exclusively “to the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women.” Does the answer leap out at you when you find that the new appointee ranks 141st of the 144 nations rated by the World Economic Forum in its 2016 Global Gender Gap report? OK, quiz over. The answer is Saudi Arabia.).

A Saudi woman wearing a traditional niqab (photo from Wikimedia Commons by Walter Callens CC BY 2.0).

The Saudi Kingdom is so dismissive of the rights of women that it’s the only country worldwide where woman can’t drive an automobile. In addition, every woman must have a male guardian who alone can approve her schooling, career, and travel, even to obtain health care. Her guardian is typically her father or her husband, but it could even be her underage son.

Only last month, a 24-year-old Saudi woman sought to flee a forced marriage by going to the Philippines in hopes of getting to Australia. She was held and then turned over to two male relatives for the trip back to Saudi Arabia where she will be dealt with. In the recent past, a Saudi princess won asylum in England when a British court granted her immigration status because she had produced a child with a man outside the reach of Saudi detectives. She was very fortunate.

UN Watch Executive Director Hillel Neuer commented, “Electing Saudi Arabia to protect women’s rights is like making an arsonist the town fire chief.” He called the election “a black day for women’s rights and for all human rights.” Add to all of this the fact that the vote to welcome the Saudi Kingdom for a seat on this UN panel was done in secrecy. Few know who approved such an appointment. Saudi Arabia will begin its four-year membership on the Commission in 2018.

One has to wonder what’s going on here. Has the UN lost its collective sanity? Why choose a country so obviously at odds with the stated purpose of the Commission?

We don’t know the answers to these questions. But consider the UN’s steady growth in power over all nations and all humans. None of this buildup toward world government is affected by the appointment. It may even cause many to dismiss the UN as a major global power that is not to be taken seriously. Critics of the world body’s powerful commissions, departments, offices, and missions will easily be led to believe that this appointment of an obvious abuser of women’s rights shows how inept the entire UN truly is.

If that’s why Saudi Arabia will get a place on this UN Commission, the UN has won by painting itself as a bumbling entity that threatens no one. Meanwhile, UN progress toward its goal of unchallenged rule over all of mankind continues.

Sensible lovers of freedom in America and elsewhere must continue to call for breaking the UN’s tightening grip on the planet. Americans who want the U.S. out of the UN are encouraged to continue spreading the whole truth about the world body. Let the cry to Get US out! grow louder and reach many more. Let an abuser of women’s rights proceed to have a seat on the Women’s Rights Commission. But don’t anyone forget what else must become more widely known about the United Nations itself. Educational tools telling the whole truth about the UN are available at shopjbs.org or call 1-800-342-6491.

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McManus_2Mr. McManus served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the late 1950s and joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966. He has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and President. Mr. McManus has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs and is also author of a number of educational DVDs and books. Now President Emeritus, he continues his involvement with the Society through public speaking and writing for this blog, the JBS Bulletin, and The New American.


Worrisome National Debt: What We Need To Do

Worrisome National Debt
by JBS President Emeritus John F. McManus

Close to 50 years ago, a fairly widespread put-down of worries about the national debt included the ridiculous claim that federal indebtedness was nothing to worry about because “we owe it to ourselves.” Anyone trying to get his portion would find how ridiculous that claim was. And 50 years ago, the national debt was less than five percent of the astronomical total that has been reached today.

The United States has become the greatest debtor nation in all history. This is a situation that ought to be front-page news every day – but it isn’t (Photo from Flickr by Chris Potter www.ccPixs.com, CC BY 2.0).

At the end of the first week in May 2017, the admitted national debt stood at $19.9 trillion. That’s $19,900,000,000,000, an amount hard even to imagine. Before the current month passes into history, the $20 trillion plateau will be reached. Can a nation spend itself into extinction? The answer is yes. And our nation is doing exactly that. Let’s look at some figures.

When the U.S. government spends more than it takes in, it borrows. It might seem a bit unbelievable, but one of the two greatest holders of U.S. government debt is Communist China. The Beijing regime and Japan each hold more than $1 trillion in IOUs signed by U.S. officials. This means that our government is in hock to China, not only for the amount the Chinese Reds provided, but also for interest on the trillion dollars they have provided.

China happens to be a country whose leaders have declared America to be an enemy they seek to destroy. Beyond what is sent to China annually, interest payments go to Japan, Britain, Ireland, Switzerland, and numerous other countries holding U.S. bonds. And, of course, many American citizens have loaned money to the government, and they have to be paid interest as well.

Interest payments to other countries – and to any private individual who holds a U.S. bond – total $442 billion per year. That’s not too far from the current annual deficit. If there were no need to send interest payments to existing creditors, Congress and the president might be able to balance the budget. But interest has to be paid.

The situation described above isn’t the whole story. The $19.9 trillion admitted indebtedness happens to be a grossly incomplete amount because unfunded future obligations aren’t considered. The two largest and unfunded federal programs are Medicare/Medicaid and Social Security. These two currently spend more that $2 trillion per year and the money to keep them going has to be borrowed. The noose around our country’s neck is getting tighter every day.

The United States has become the greatest debtor nation in all history. This is a situation that ought to be front-page news every day – but it isn’t. It ought to be the lead item on the daily newscasts on television and radio – but it isn’t. It ought to be a topic for serious examination in economics classes at colleges and even high schools – but it isn’t.

The accumulated national debt of the United States arrived at the $1 trillion figure during the Reagan administration. Each succeeding president (Bush I, Clinton, Bush II, and Obama) has presided over steadily worsening increases. Annual deficit spending and borrowing to cover it reached new highs during the Obama years. The George W. Bush years weren’t much better.

Just a brief glimpse at all of this red ink is frightening. So, the question arises: What to do about it? How about terminating foreign aid? America, drowning in debt, actually gives away money. How about getting the federal government out of education, energy, medical care, and other areas where it has no constitutional authorization to be involved? How about putting an end to the U.S. military being the policeman of the world?

In other words, how about a real change at the top that would see our leaders standing solidly behind their oath to abide by the Constitution? If they would honor their oath, deficit spending would cease, paying off creditors would begin, and America would soon cease being in hock to other nations – especially to any that are sworn enemies.

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McManus_2Mr. McManus served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the late 1950s and joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966. He has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and President. Mr. McManus has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs and is also author of a number of educational DVDs and books. Now President Emeritus, he continues his involvement with the Society through public speaking and writing for this blog, the JBS Bulletin, and The New American.