Trump Vs. A Media “Rock Star”
by JBS President Emeritus John F. McManus
It seems as though our nation’s left-leaning mass media will find grist for their anti-Trump crusade no matter what the President or his top aides say or do. If the President assured someone that the sun would rise in the East tomorrow morning, some media star would cite the ravings of a confirmed anti-Trump crusader insisting Donald Trump has no love for the West.
Four American soldiers were recently slain in Africa’s Niger. While performing their mission to train local military personnel, they were ambushed and never had a chance. Most likely, they were targeted because they were Americans.
President Trump sought advice about what to say in the calls he would make to the members of the grieving families. He turned to someone who knew from first-hand experience how to handle such a tragic responsibility: Retired Marine Corps General John Kelly, his Chief of Staff. A few years earlier while Kelly was still serving on active duty, his close friend General Joseph Dunford had delivered to him the awful news that his son had been killed while serving in Afghanistan.
Dunford brought the terrible news to General Kelly, and Kelly recalled that message when asked by the President what he could say to a devastated family member in a telephone call. Referring to the death of young Lieutenant Robert Kelly who died in Afghanistan, that message to the lieutenant’s father stated:
He was doing exactly what he wanted to do when he was killed. He knew what he was getting into by joining that one percent. He knew what the possibilities were because we’re at war and when he died, he was surrounded by the best men on earth, his friends.
That’s precisely what President Trump copied and said to each of the families of the four men who died in Niger. We know this because Chief of Staff Kelly told a news conference first about Mr. Trump’s inquiry to him and then about the President’s subsequent calls to the families. The President did his duty but a member of Congress from Florida sought to gain some publicity for herself by attacking Mr. Trump. After overhearing the President’s call to the wife of one of the slain soldiers, Representative Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.) characterized the president’s message as insensitive, especially the portion that Kelly himself had once received – and accepted. He said to Sergeant La David Johnson’s widow that her husband had died “doing exactly what he wanted to do” by serving honorably in Niger.
John Kelly said he was “stunned” by Representative Wilson’s comments. She has reveled in the amount of publicity she has received when she should have been ignored. She now claims to be the equivalent of a “Rock Star,” and delights in the fact that Chief of Staff Kelly has criticized her attack on the President. When Kelly responded to her outburst and likened her remarks to the noise emanating from an “empty barrel,” she played the race card, calling his response a “racist term.” That should have been laughed at, but even though it is a gross absurdity, it gained wide coverage.
Congresswoman Wilson’s record demonstrates that she’s no friend of those who wear the uniform. She has repeatedly voted against measures that would help veterans and their families. One of her votes saw her oppose a measure designed to ensure that families of some slain soldiers would receive death benefits. Yet she gets treated like a “Rock Star” by the same media that delights on finding fault with everything – good or bad – coming from the White House.
In his remarks about this incident, Chief of Staff Kelly recalled that important national attitudes have changed from his youth. His list included: “women were sacred; the dignity of life was sacred; religion seems to be gone as well.“ Most Americans agree that such changes have occurred. It appears that Mr. Kelly was targeting the mass media, the powerful force within our nation that has played a sinister role in altering basic American standards. It is the same mass media that rarely says anything complimentary about President Trump but delights in making a “Rock Star” out of a despicable publicity seeker who happens to be a member of Congress.
Sanctuary Cities, an Invitation for Criminals
by JBS President Emeritus John F. McManus
On July 1, 2015, 32-year-old Kathryn “Kate” Steinle died from a bullet wound in her back. She had been enjoying a pleasant stroll with her father along one of the piers in San Francisco’s Embarcadero district. The bullet killing her came from a gun used by Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez who claimed he was aiming at sea lions. One of the bullets he fired ricocheted off the pavement and struck Steinle. She died two hours later.
An illegal immigrant from Mexico, Lopez-Sanchez had previously been deported from the U.S. five times. Loose control of the Mexico-U.S. border certainly invited his return for a sixth time. But something else figured into the tragedy that claimed a completely innocent victim. Lopez-Sanchez was in San Francisco because the city had declared itself a “sanctuary city,” one where cooperation with federal immigration laws has been declared practically null.
Once a city declares itself a “sanctuary” for immigrants, local policy prohibits police or city employees from questioning detainees about their immigration status, or even cooperating with federal immigration authorities in dealing with illegal entrants. Sanchez-Lopez was a known drug dealer who had been convicted three times in the state of Washington of felony heroin possession. He had amassed seven felony convictions total, but was still free to roam the country after his latest illegal entry. Deported to Mexico time after time, his return had become a certainty. And the gun he fired when Kate Steinle died had been stolen from a federal agent’s parked auto four days earlier. Not what anyone should call a good candidate for citizenship!
The killing of Kate Steinle and the entire matter of sanctuary cities became an issue in the 2016 presidential race. GOP candidate Donald Trump mentioned Lopez-Sanchez as an example of the need to deport foreign nationals living illegally in the U.S. At first, Democratic Party candidate Hillary Clinton relied on the same term she used when questions were raised about her cavalier use of unsecured computers to conduct sensitive U.S. business. She said San Francisco had made a “mistake” in not deporting someone the federal government strongly felt should be sent back to Mexico. Clinton loves that word. Exactly one day later, the Clinton campaign effectively reversed what she had stated, claiming that Mrs. Clinton “believes sanctuary cities can help further public safety.” Choose which of those two positions you wish.
But what about sanctuary cities themselves? In effect, they constitute a thumbing of the nose at legitimate laws designed to thwart unlawful immigration. If the entire nation adopted sanctuary policy, there would soon be no nation, because, as history has shown, a nation without control of its borders soon ceases to be independent.
Arguments favoring the sanctuary declaration like to point to a seemingly related policy known as nullification, the refusal of a city or state to obey a law they claim has no legal basis. But there is a huge difference in these two ways of dealing with laws one doesn’t like. Sanctuary cities – sometimes even counties – choose to ignore federal mandates while still accepting federal aid of various kinds. Nullifiers are willing to accept the consequence of losing federal aid because of their refusal to abide by a mandate they find onerous, even abusive of higher law.
The death of Kate Steinle raised national awareness about declaring sanctuary city status. Their very existence indicates a breakdown in the essential rule of law that is the hallmark of any free country. But there has been minor reversal regarding their use. There should be consequences wherever sanctuary cities have been proclaimed. Imposing them would be one small way of honoring the memory of Kate Steinle. Doing so would also help keep our nation free and independent.
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 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.
The President and NATO
by JBS President Emeritus John F. McManus
During his campaign for president, Donald Trump frequently employed the word “obsolete” to register his negativity about the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). After he won the election and was only a few days away from inauguration, he repeated his dour opinion on January 16, 2017, with “I said a long time ago that NATO had problems. Number one, it was obsolete because it was designed many, many years ago.”
Now that he is President, he has reversed his view on NATO. On April 12, 2017, he declared, “I said it was obsolete. It’s no longer obsolete.” But there has been no alteration within NATO during the past year. Mr. Trump had just met with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the White House. The NATO chieftain, who has never considered the alliance obsolete, smiled broadly at the Trump reversal.
Born in 1949, NATO cited Article 51 of the UN Charter for its authorization to exist. The official NATO Handbook (1995 edition) contains the text of the pact’s Preface and 14 short articles. That NATO is a UN stepchild is clearly spelled out in Article 1 stating, “The Parties undertake, as set forth in the Charter of the United Nations….” Explanatory text appearing in the NATO Handbook clearly states that the pact was “Created within the framework of Article 51 of the United Nations Charter.”
Because the pact is a treaty, Senate ratification had to be gained. Then-Secretary of State Dean Acheson, one of its most determined champions, stated during a March 1949 speech that NATO “is designed to fit precisely into the framework of the United Nations … The United States government and the governments with which we are associated in the treaty are convinced that it is essential measure for strengthening the United Nations.” There was no hiding the fact that NATO was designed to be a UN stepchild.
In short order, twelve nations from Western Europe and North America signed on as founding members. The pact’s Article 5 states “an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all.” That provision encouraged 13 senators to refuse their support, not nearly enough to block U.S. entry into the alliance. So NATO began and the American people were left with an impression created by the media and NATO supporters that its entire purpose was to prevent any additional Soviet expansion westward.
The UN/NATO combination then proceeded to assure that America would never again win a war. Consider: the Korean War became stalemate and NATO’s hand was in it from the beginning. The Vietnam War, fought under a NATO clone called SEATO, ended in defeat for the U.S. The wars in which Americans were fighting and dying were now being fought without the constitutional requirement for a congressional declaration of war. Highly questionable NATO forays into Bosnia and Somalia followed. Authorization for the war in Iraq came directly from the UN. And the U.S. is now 14 years into a NATO-authorized struggle in Afghanistan. NATO now has 27 member nations.
NATO has never been “obsolete.” It has greatly aided its UN sponsor in the gobbling up of more aspects of national sovereignty. So, Mr. Trump was wrong when he said NATO had become a useless alliance because it was “obsolete.” And he is additionally wrong to give it his newly created approval. What he should do is work to have the U.S. withdraw from both of these entangling alliances. The millions who voted for him would surely cheer such moves. And America would cease to be the world’s policeman, an assignment nowhere found in the U.S. Constitution to which the President and many other federal officials swore a solemn oath to uphold.
An Opponent of the IMF
by JBS President Emeritus John F. McManus
The 1944 creation of the International Monetary Fund occurred even before the formation of the United Nations in 1945. But the IMF has long appeared on the organizational chart published by the UN and is without doubt one of the many UN divisions.
Tasks of this money lending UN agency include keeping tyrannical and profligate nations afloat while financing questionable business ventures. Its chief creator, American Communist Harry Dexter White, didn’t have the best interests of U.S. taxpayers in mind. Neither has the UN. Over the years, IMF funds have bailed out Poland, Mexico, Brazil, Venezuela, Colombia, and others. There is hardly a deadbeat nation that hasn’t received IMF funds to keep it going.
Maybe some of this is about to change. President Trump has nominated Adam Lerrick for an undersecretary post within the Treasury Department. The post oversees U.S. involvement in international finance. His credentials as an opponent of bailouts for countries, banks, and investors are well known. In recent years while holding down a post at the American Enterprise Institute, he has sharply criticized the IMF for throwing money at the likes of South Korea, Brazil, Argentina, and Greece.
According to a report in The New York Times, Lerrick’s outspokenness endeared him to Reagan administration economist Allan Metzger. The two even coauthored a study in 2000 which critiqued the IMF and World Bank. They want countries to suffer the consequences of disastrous monetary policies. Metzger, now a professor at Carnegie Mellon’s business school, expressed the following welcome view of flawed IMF policy, an opinion obviously shared by his friend and fellow IMF critic.
It’s corrupting to give money to countries like Greece that never reform; those are taxpayer monies…. If we bail out countries that do things that are not in the interests of their citizens, then we just get more of the same. Adam [Lerrick] is the right man for this job.
At a Senate hearing in 2000, however, Lerrick was asked if there is any need for an IMF. His answer was guardedly positive. He believed then that the IMF is useful as a lender to emerging markets. “But reforms must be instituted to make sure costs are minimized, if not eliminated.”
Lerrick registered his somewhat positive attitude about IMF almost two decades ago. Have the more recent outrageous bailouts of European nations sharpened his view? Time will tell, of course. But there appears to be hope that American taxpayers will be paying less – and maybe nothing – to rescue deadbeat governments. Credit President Trump for reaching out to find someone who believes that America’s financing of reckless policies among some countries has to stop.
Allow Jeff Sessions To Do His Job
by JBS President Emeritus John F. McManus
The Democrats in Congress have a new target – Attorney General Jeff Sessions. They didn’t want him as Attorney General, but he won Senate confirmation with a slim vote of 52-47. Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) provided the only Democrat vote as he joined with 51 Republicans to approve the former Alabama senator.Almost immediately, other Democrats pounced on Sessions claiming that he lied during the confirmation hearings. Asked during the proceedings if he had any recent contact with Russian officials about the November election for President, he said he did not. Later, Democrats claimed that he twice met with Sergey Kislyak, Russia’s Ambassador to the United States. Sessions explained that he wasn’t trying to hide anything; he thought he was being asked about meetings with Russian officials to discuss the coming U.S. election.
The apparent Sessions falsehood turned out to be a lack of precision in his answer to Senator Al Franken’s question. But the steam from the Democrat-generated charges that Sessions lied, exploded to the degree that the Department of Justice will now determine if the Russians were trying to influence the November election, if Sessions played a part in such a scheme, and if he then lied about it.
After a few days, Attorney General Sessions recused himself from the coming inquiry. In effect, he told the senators who opposed his selection as Attorney General, “Go right ahead and investigate but your investigation will not find that I had anything to do with any Russian meddling in the election. If indeed there was any.”
Sessions is a good and truthful man. His claim that he misunderstood the question he was asked rings true. He said later, “I should have slowed down and said, ‘But I did meet one Russian official a couple of times. During the period under question.’” He claims the matters he discussed with Kislyak had nothing to do with the Trump-Clinton election.
Now let’s contrast what the Democrats and the media have sought to do to Sessions with the way Congress dealt with Obama-era Attorney General Eric Holder. Under his watch, the U.S. government conducted an operation known as “Fast and Furious” that supplied thousands of weapons to Mexican drug cartel criminals. The name “Fast and Furious” evolved when it was found that many of the Mexican recipients of the guns belonged to a motorcycle club with that name. Holder’s Justice Department initially labeled the operation “Project Gunrunner.”
The scheme arranged for the sale of weaponry in the U.S. to highly questionable individuals. U.S. officials knew that the guns would end up in the hands of drug dealers and murderers in Mexico. There was supposed to be some method of tracking the weapons and learning more about the operations of the Mexican drug cartels.
But two of the Fast and Furious guns led to the death of U.S. Border Patrol agent Brian Terry. Estimates place the number of Mexicans slain with those guns well into the hundreds. U.S. Immigration and Customs agent Jaime Zapata’s life was snuffed out with another of these weapons. More guns ended up in the hands of drug merchants in Honduras, Puerto Rico, and Colombia. Approximately 2,000 firearms (AK-47s, sniper rifles, and revolvers) were transferred and fewer than half have ever been recovered.
The entire scheme came to the attention of the press and some concerned government officials when whistleblowers within the Department of Justice bared details about the scheme. As far back as 2013, more than 130 members of Congress called for Holder’s resignation. Called before a Senate panel, Holder said he knew nothing about the program, but documents later showed he knew about it as far back as 2009. He lied to Congress, and there was an effort to charge him with criminal contempt of Congress.
Instead of offering his resignation, Holder went on the offensive and called for more gun control aimed at the American people and their rights. He is no longer Attorney General, and it seems likely that he will never be held accountable for Fast and Furious, for lying, and being cited for contempt of Congress.
In Congress, there are many who allowed Eric Holder to walk away unprosecuted but are now hounding Jeff Sessions. They should be reminded of their negligence regarding Holder and leave Sessions free to carry out his important responsibilities.
Will Neil Gorsuch Become a Supreme Court Justice?
by JBS President Emeritus John F. McManus
On January 31st, President Trump nominated Judge Neil Gorsuch to fill the open seat on the U.S. Supreme Court. If he wins Senate approval, he would fill the seat formerly held by Justice Antonin Scalia who died in February 2016.A full year ago, President Obama nominated Judge Merrick Garland to succeed Scalia. But Senate Republicans, led by current Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), refused to hold hearings on that nomination. Republican senators concurred, saying they were only following a precedent set by Democrat Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.). He indicated a determination to block Senate approval of any new nominees while a president’s term was winding down. Although he added a qualifying “except in extraordinary circumstances” to his intention, he made clear that he and Democrat colleagues would block adding anyone appointed by President George W. Bush.
When the New York Democrat stated that position, Mr. Bush had approximately 18 months to go before he would have to leave the White House. When the Republicans decided to block consideration of Merrick Garland, Obama had slightly less than a year before his term in office would end. Pointing to Schumer’s 2007 stance, Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) stated, “We’re embracing the precedent Senator Schumer advocated in 2007. If it’s good enough for [Democrats] when they’re in the majority, it’s good enough for us when we are.”
Merrick Garland’s chance to become a Supreme Court justice died when Donald Trump triumphed over Hillary Clinton last November. He continues to serve as the Chief Justice of the Washington D.C. Federal Appeals Court.
Regarding Neil Gorsuch, we have learned that he never issued a ruling on the contentious issue of abortion. But, in his book, The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia, he wrote that if the Supreme Court had defined a fetus as a “person,” it never would have approved abortion as it did in 1973 with the Roe v. Wade decision. Other stands he has taken indicate that he is an opponent of intentional killing, including euthanasia. Karen Middleton, the executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado, insists that Judge Gorsuch should be considered a pronounced enemy of abortion.
On other matters of interest to conservative Americans, Gorsuch sided with the Hobby Lobby Stores in their plea for an exemption to Obamacare’s requirement that they pay for employee contraception practices. He also agreed with Utah Governor Gary Herbert’s failed effort to avoid being forced to fund Planned Parenthood.
In general, Gorsuch has been dubbed an “originalist,” a believer that the words and meaning of the Constitution should be honored as they were understood at the time they were written. In other words, new meanings should not be created for them. That alone means he is very much in sync with the late Justice Scalia who strongly advocated such an attitude. After a career that most recently had him serving on the Denver-based 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, Judge Gorsuch considers such matters as abortion, euthanasia, and contraception should not be judged in courtrooms, a practice that he feels is bad for the country and bad for the judiciary.
Concerns have been raised by some about Gorsuch’s five-year membership in the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations. The fact that his affiliation with the CFR lasted only five years is possibly significant. The world government promoters at the CFR regularly look for bright and ambitious young people to whom they give five-year term memberships in hopes that they will adopt the CFR thinking. Gorsuch’s name appears as a CFR “term” member in 2004 and that membership is noted until 2008. He may have formally resigned or just walked away. Or the CFR moguls may have decided he was not what they had hoped for. Others have similarly decided the CFR was not for them. Not completing the five-year term with the CFR may mean that he didn’t like what he learned of this key Establishment organization. To date, he has never commented about this matter.
If Neil Gorsuch follows the lead set by Antonin Scalia, the man whose place on the court he will fill if approved by the Senate, chances are that he will follow in the footsteps of the late jurist. And that would be good for America.