Part II of the Mueller Report is a singularly dishonest political document

This post offers you five reasons to view Part II of the Mueller Report as a purely political document without any supporting legal rationales.

Part I of the Mueller Report conclusively found no evidence that President Trump or anyone close to him ever conspired with, or attempted to conspire with, the Russian government to affect the outcome of the 2016 election. That should put the matter to bed.

Those who say that the Mueller report also doesn’t find affirmative proof that President Trump did not conspire with the Russians need to go back and study their basic American jurisprudence. In America, individuals do not have to prove their innocence; it is the prosecution that bears the high burden of proving their guilt. Case closed.

With Russian Collusion a dead-in-the-water talking point, the President’s critics have swung to Part II, which implies that the president of obstructed justice, whether it came about in the form of fulminating against what he knew was a witch hunt, debating with his attorney whether it was possible to fire the chief witch hunter, issuing orders to keep quiet about those discussions, or refusing to appear for an oral deposition.

See that, say President Trump’s critics. President Trump clearly had bad motives, which makes him unfit for the office he holds.

But for presidents, just as for everyone else, having bad motives doesn’t matter unless they’re followed by conduct. The fact that I put myself to sleep at night, not by counting sheep but by figuring out different ways to poison my enemies is irrelevant if I never poison my enemies or inflict any other criminal harm on them. My motives also do not make it a crime if someone later catches me sneering at one of those enemies, because sneering, while rude, is not a criminal act.

The record shows that Trump did not fire anyone and that his subordinates spoke freely to investigators. As for refusing to appear for a deposition, Mueller acceded to Trump’s request that he be subject only to written questions. That was a bargain, not an obstruction.

I’ve also noted before that it’s questionable whether one can claim “obstruction of justice” when there was no actual justice going on. The laws about obstruction of justice posit a known, actual crime; a prosecutor honestly investigating who did that crime; and a person, even an innocent one, deliberately engaging in affirmative acts (destruction of evidence, silencing of witnesses, etc.) to block that investigation.

In this case, however, the facts we know argue against “justice” having any part in this farce. Instead, a continuously emerging stream of new information tells us that government investigative agencies under Obama used illegal means to spy on the Republican presidential candidate. Then, when Trump won, he was accused of doing something bad with the Russians, although no one could quite finger what the precise illegality was. Trump’s FBI director then illegally leaked classified material to the media to trigger a special prosecutor. Although Mueller lacked evidence of an actual crime, he zealously spent two years and $35 million hunting for a crime, any crime, that he could pin on Trump.

That’s not justice. That’s Soviet-style political persecution.

So, is it “obstruction of justice” to fulminate against political persecution (because Trump knew at all times that he had done nothing wrong) and to explore avenues to make it stop, but then, at the end of the day, to cooperate completely with the farce? I say no, but I’ll freely admit my bias on this one.

But there’s more wrong with Part II than just the fact that Trump fulminated about but did not block investigators or that there was no justice present here. The public recently got to see a letter from Emmet T. Flood, Trump’s new White House counsel. (In addition to embedding the actual letter at the bottom of this post via Scribd, I’ve included the full text in this post, as I find Scribd documents hard to read.)

I highly recommend reading Flood’s every word. He details how Mueller’s office deviated from the special prosecutor’s mandate in order to write a blatantly political document intended to give Democrats an impeachment road map. It also explains how Mueller & Co. violated the special prosecutor’s law when they refused either to recommend indicting Trump for obstruction of justice or to state that he should not be indicted. Instead, they spelled out all sorts of things that prosecutors are never supposed to make public . . . only to punt.

By the way, what Mueller did is the fun house mirror of how James Comey screwed Hillary in July 2016 — only instead of punting after telling all the illegal things she did, Comey shoved aside AG Lynch and unilaterally and improperly decided that she should not be prosecuted. That is, Mueller detailed that Trump did nothing criminal (see below) he nevertheless refused to say Trump should not be prosecuted, while Comey detailed textbook criminality but refused to say Hillary should be prosecuted. Both Comey and Mueller are political hacks of the highest order.

Before you read the Flood letter, though, I want to direct your attention to one more thing, which was Bill Barr’s recently revealed quarrel with Mueller about the applicable federal statute for determining whether someone obstructed justice. The part I want to focus on is something that Scott Adams, a very astute observer, misunderstood because he’s not a lawyer. I realized then that a lot of people might not understand it.

The whole matter came out thanks to an excellent post that Will Chamberlain wrote for Human Events, entitled Checkmate. How President Trump’s Legal Team Outfoxed Mueller. A large part of that outfoxing boils down to a statutory quarrel that’s central to Part II of the Mueller Report, the part regarding obstruction:

At the end of Volume II of the Mueller Report, however, there were 20 pages of genuinely new material.

There, the former FBI director turned Special Counsel Robert Mueller defended his “Application of Obstruction-Of-Justice Statutes To The President.”  These overlooked 20 pages were dedicated to defending Mueller’s interpretation of a single subsection of a single obstruction-of-justice statute: 18 U.S.C. § 1512(c)(2).

Before Mueller issued his report, way back in June 2018, the White House got wind of the peculiar interpretation Mueller and his team intended to put on the statute. William Barr got wind too and, in his capacity as a private citizen he wrote an entire letter to Rod Rosenstein expressing his concerns about what he was hearing. You can read the whole debate in Chamberlain’s article, but I just want to focus on the core issue, which is the language in 18 U.S.C. § 1512(c)(2):

(c) Whoever corruptly—
(1) alters, destroys, mutilates, or conceals a record, document, or other object, or attempts to do so, with the intent to impair the object’s integrity or availability for use in an official proceeding; or
(2) otherwise obstructs, influences, or impedes any official proceeding, or attempts to do so,
shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both.

Read literally, the above statute says that whoever intentionally messes with records, documents, or other objects so as to interfere with an investigation is subject to a fine and a long prison sentence. In addition, whoever intentionally does anything else to interfere with an investigation is subject to a fine and a long prison sentence. This is how Scott Adams understood the statute. It is not the law’s way of understanding it and, moreover, had Adams drilled down, with his fine mind he would have realized that his instincts are completely illogically.

Re-read the statute and ask yourself this: Why would subjection (1) focus tightly on a very specific type of interference if subsection (2) says any type of interference is criminal?

Let me simplify things by giving a more relate-able example. Imagine reading the following two-part statute:

(1) Any person who owns a Chihuahua, a Pomeranian, or a Toy Poodle shall be fined $100 a day.

(2) Any person who owns any other dog shall be fined $100 a day.

Again, you find yourself asking why subsection (1) goes to the effort of singling out three types of dogs when subsection (2) fines owners for any and all types of dog. Given that subsection (1) is obviously a subset of subsection (2), subsection (1) is redundant, pointless, meaningless, and confusing.

The same goes for the Mueller team’s preferred reading of 18 U.S.C. § 1512(c)(2). Mueller desperately wanted to say that, in addition to criminal penalties for destroying documents or other tangible objects in a way that interferes with an investigation, a personal is also subject to criminal penalties for anything and everything else that interferes with an investigation.

But here is where the rules of statutory interpretation come to our aid. (And this is what Barr argued, although I’m doing so in more user-friendly and less lawyerly fashion.)

There is a very old doctrine (we know it’s old because it’s a Latin-named doctrine) called ejusdem generis. Per the Black’s Law Dictionary’s definition of ejusdem generis:

Of the same kind, class, or nature.  In statutory construction, the “ejusdem generis rule” is that where general words follow an enumeration of persons or things, by words of a particular and specific meaning, such general words are not to be construed in their widest extent, but are to be held as applying only to persons or things of the same general kind or class as those specifically mentioned. Black, Interp. Laws, 141 ; Cutshaw v. Denver, 19 Colo. App.341, 75 Pac. 22; Ex parte Le- land, 1 Nott & McC. (S. C.) 462; Spalding v. People, 172111. 40, 49 N. E. 993.

To go back to our canine example, let me show you how ejusdem generis works:

(1) Any person who owns a Chihuahua, a Pomeranian, or a Toy Poodle shall be fined $100 a day.

(2) Any person who owns any other dog shall be fined $100 a day.

Logic tells us that subsection (1) delineates a very specific class of dogs: toy or miniature dogs. Under the doctrine of ejusdem generis, subsection (2) must mean “any other dog that falls within the class of toy or miniature dogs.” That means those who own Labbies and and German Shepherds can breathe a sigh of relief, but people owning Miniature Pinschers, Italian Greyhounds, etc., had better decide whether to start paying or give up their doggies.

The same holds true for interpreting 18 U.S.C. § 1512(c)(2). Subsection (1) manifestly describes someone deliberately destroying or manipulating tangible evidence, since as documents or records or other “objects.” It does not refer to talking to people or engaging in behavior other than destroying or manipulating tangible evidence.

Once we have classified the type of wrongdoing described in subsection (1) we know that subsection (2) is a catch-all to describe any deliberate destruction of similar types of evidence. For example, when 18 U.S.C. § 1512(c)(2) was originally enacted in 1982, there was no such thing as being able to wipe out a hard drive using BleachBit. By using the catch-all, the legislators didn’t have to amend the statute every time new technology for storing or erasing data came along. Subsection (2) effectively sweeps in newer technology that’s clearly within the same class of tangible evidence as old-fashioned paper documents.

Finally, please read Andrew McCarthy’s latest post, Mueller’s Preposterous Rationale for Tainting the President with ‘Obstruction’ Allegations. Here’s just a snippet, but you must read the whole thing:

In gross violation of Justice Department policy and constitutional norms, a prosecutor neither charges nor recommends charges against a suspect, but proceeds to smear him by publishing 200 pages of obstruction allegations. Asked to explain why he did it, the prosecutor says he was just trying to protect the suspect from being smeared.

This is the upshot of the Mueller report’s Volume II. It might be thought campy if the suspect weren’t the president of the United States and the stakes weren’t so high.

The smear-but-don’t-charge outcome is the result of two wrongs: (1) Mueller’s dizzying application of Justice Department guidance, written by the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC), holding that a president may not be indicted while he is in office; and (2) the media-Democrat complex’s demand that only laws they like — those that serve their anti-Trump political purposes — be enforced.

The rest of this post is Emmet T. Flood’s letter. I hope that all these things give you a new way of thinking about Part II of the Mueller Report.

*****************************************

The White House
Washington

April 19, 2019

Via Hand Delivery

The Honorable William P. Barr
Attorney General of the United States
United States Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W.
Washington D.C. 20530

Dear Mr. Attorney General:

I write on behalf of the Office of the President to memorialize concerns relating to the form of the Special Counsel’s Office (“SCO”) Report (“SCO Report” or “Report”) and to address executive privilege issues associated with its release.

The SCO Report suffers from an extraordinary legal defect: It quite deliberately fails to comply with the requirements of governing law. Lest the Report’s release be taken as a “precedent” or perceived as somehow legitimating the defect, I write with both the President and future Presidents in mind to make the following points clear.

I begin with the SCO’s stated conclusion on the obstruction question: The SCO concluded that the evidence “prevent[ed] [it] from conclusively determining that no criminal conduct occurred.” SCO Report v.2, p.2. But “conclusively determining that no criminal conduct occurred” was not the SCO’s assigned task, because making conclusive determinations of innocence is never the task of the federal prosecutor.

What prosecutors are supposed to do is complete an investigation and then either ask the grand jury to return an indictment or decline to charge the case. When prosecutors decline to charge, they make that decision not because they have “conclusively determin[ed] that no criminal conduct occurred,” but rather because they do not believe that the investigated conduct constitutes a crime for which all the elements can be proven to the satisfaction of a jury beyond a reasonable doubt. Prosecutors simply are not in the business of establishing innocence. any more than they are in the business of “exonerating” investigated persons. In the American justice system, innocence is presumed; there is never any need for prosecutors to “conclusively determine” it. Nor is there any place for such a determination. Our country would be a very different (and very dangerous) place if prosecutors applied the SCO standard and citizens were obliged to prove “conclusively . . . that no criminal conduct occurred.”

Because they do not belong to our criminal justice vocabulary. the SCO’s inverted-proof-standard and “exoneration” statements can be understood only as political statements, issuing from persons (federal prosecutors) who in our system of government are rightly expected never to be political in the performance of their duties. The inverted burden of proof knowingly embedded in the SCO’s conclusion shows that the Special Counsel and his staff failed in their duty to act as prosecutors and only as prosecutors.

Second, and equally importantly: In closing its investigation. the SCQ had only one job — to “provide the Attorney General with a confidential report explaining the prosecution or declination decisions reached by the Special Counsel.” 28 C.F.R. § 600.8(c). Yet the one thing the SCO was obligated to do is the very thing the SCO — intentionally and unapologetically — refused to do. The SCO made neither a prosecution decision nor a declination decision on the obstruction question. Instead, it transmitted a 182-page discussion of raw evidentiary material combined with its own inconclusive observations on the arguable legal significance of the gathered content. As a result, none of the Report’s Volume II complied with the obligation imposed by the governing regulation to “explain[] the prosecution or declination decisions reached.” Id.

The SCO instead produced a prosecutorial curiosity — part “truth commission” report and part law school exam paper. Far more detailed than the text of any known criminal indictment or declination memorandum, the Report is laden with factual information that has never been subjected to adversarial testing or independent analysis. That information is accompanied by a series of inexplicably inconclusive observations (inexplicable, that is, coming from a prosecutor) concerning possible applications of law to fact. This species of public report has no basis in the relevant regulation and no precedent in the history of special/independent counsel investigations.

An investigation of the President under a regulation that clearly specifies a very particular form of closing documentation is not the place for indulging creative departures from governing law. Under general prosecutorial principles, and under the Special Counsel regulation’s specific language, prosecutors are to speak publicly through indictments or confidentially in declination memoranda. By way of justifying this departure. it has been suggested that the Report was written with the intent of providing Congress some kind of ” road map” for congressional action. See, e.g., Remarks of House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, 4/18/19 (Press Conference).[Fn 1] If that was in fact the SCO’s intention, it too serves as additional evidence of the SCO’s refusal to follow applicable law. Both the language of the regulation and its ” legislative” history make plain that the “[c]losing documentation” language was promulgated for the specific purpose of preventing the creation of this sort of final report.[Fn 2] Under a constitution of separated powers, inferior Article II officers should not be in the business of creating “road maps” for the purpose of transmitting them to Article I committees.

[Fn 1] Some commentators have pointed to the so-called Watergate “Road Map” as precedent for giving Congress a prosecutor’s report containing no legal conclusions. That “Road Map” is shrouded in a bodyguard of myths, and the many separation of powers problems presented by its transmission remain largely unexplored. But the idea that it was a straightforward. just-the-facts type summary is easily dispelled. As two top Watergate prosecutors wrote years after the events of 1973-74, the Watergate Task Force created the “road map [to] serve as a do-it-yourself kit for the Judiciary Committee, helping it reassemble the individual pieces of grand-jury testimony and other evidence into a coherent theory of a criminal case as we and the [grand] jury saw it.” Ben-Veniste & Frampton. Stonewall: The Real Story of the Watergate Prosecution 242-43 (1977) (emphasis added).

[Fn 2] At the time of the Special Counsel regulations’ creation in 1999. it was widely understood that Section 600.8(c) was not intended to provide for “a report which discusses the evidence at length,” much less its public dissemination. The Future of the Independent Counsel Act: Hearings before the S. Comm. On Governmental Affairs, 106th Cong. 236 (1999) (letter from Robert B. Fiske, Jr.); see also id. at 252 (prepared statement of Janet Reno, Att’y Gen. of the United States); Reauthorization of the Independent Counsel Statute, Part I: Hearings Before the Subcomm. On Commercial and Admin. Law of the H. Comm. On the Judiciary, 106th Cong. 36 (1999) prepared statement of Eric H. Holder, Jr., Deputy Att’y Gen.).

With the release of the SCO Report and despite all of the foregoing, the President has followed through on his consistent promise of transparency. He encouraged every White House staffer to cooperate fully with the sea and, so far as we are aware, all have done so. Voluntary interviewees included the Counsel to the President, two Chiefs of Staff, the Press Secretary and numerous others. In addition, approximately 1.4 million pages of documents were provided to the SCO. This voluntary cooperation was given on the understanding (reached with the SCO) that information (i) gathered directly from the White House or White House staffers and (ii) having to do with Presidential communications, White House deliberations, law enforcement information, and perhaps other matter may be subject to a potential claim of executive privilege and, for that reason, would be treated by the SCO as presumptively privileged. Volume II of the report contains a great deal of presumptively privileged information, largely in the form of references to, and descriptions of, White House staff interviews with the SCO. It also includes reference to presumptively privileged documentary materials.

The President is aware that, had he chosen to do so, he could have withheld such information on executive privilege grounds, basing such an assertion on the established principle that to permit release of such information might have a chilling effect on a President’s advisors, causing them to be less than fully frank in providing advice to a President. Notwithstanding his right to assert such a privilege, and with a measure of reluctance born of concern for future Presidents and their advisors, the President has in this instance elected not to assert executive privilege over any of the presumptively privileged portions of the report. As a consequence, not a single redaction in the Report was done on the advice of or at the direction of the White House.

The President therefore wants the following features of his decision to be known and understood:

(1) His decision not to assert privilege is not a waiver of executive privilege for any other material or for any other purpose;

(2) His decision to permit disclosure of executive-privileged portions of the report does not waive any privileges or protections for the SCO’s underlying investigative materials such as, for example, FBI Form 302 witness interview summaries and presumptively privileged documents made available to the SCO by the White House.

(3) His decision does not affect his ability as President to instruct his advisors to decline to appear before congressional committees to answer questions on these same subjects. It is one thing for a President to encourage complete cooperation and transparency in a criminal investigation conducted largely within the Executive Branch; it is something else entirely to allow his advisors to appear before Congress, a coordinate branch of government, and answer questions relating to their communications with the President and with each other. The former course reflected the President’s recognition of the importance of promoting cooperation with a criminal investigation. The latter course creates profound separation of powers concerns and — if not defended aggressively — threatens to undermine the integrity of Executive Branch deliberations. The President is determined to protect from congressional scrutiny not only the advice rendered by his own advisors, but also by advisors to future Presidents.

A great deal is said these days about the rule of law and the importance of legal norms. In that spirit, and mindful of the frenzied atmosphere accompanying the Report’s release, the following should not be forgotten. Government officials, with access to classified information derived from a counterintelligence investigation and from classified intelligence intercepts, engaged in a campaign of illegal leaks against the President. Many of those leaks were felonies. They disclosed the identity of a U.S. person in violation of his civil rights; they misused intelligence for partisan political purposes; and they eroded public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of our intelligence services. The criminal investigation began with a breach of confidentiality executed by a very senior administration official who was himself an intelligence service chief. This leak of confidential information, personally directed by the former Director of the FBI, triggered the creation of the SCO itself – precisely as he intended it to do.

Not so long ago, the idea that a law enforcement official might provide the press with confidential governmental information for the proclaimed purpose of prompting a criminal investigation of an identified individual would have troubled Americans of all political persuasions. That the head of our country’s top law enforcement agency has actually done so to the President of the United States should frighten every friend of individual liberty. Under our system of government, unelected Executive Branch officers and intelligence agency personnel are supposed to answer to the person elected by the people — the President — and not the other way around. This is not a Democratic or a Republican issue; it is a matter of having a government responsible to the people — and, again, not the other way around. In the partisan commotion surrounding the released Report, it would be well to remember that what can be done to a President can be done to any of us.

These leaks and this investigation also caused immense and continuing interference with the functioning of the Executive Branch. Our constitution makes the President the sole constitutional officer “for whom the entire Nation votes. and [who] represent[s] the entire Nation both domestically and abroad.” Clinton v. Jones, 520 U.S. 681, 711 (1997) (Breyer, J., concurring). As a result, “[i]nterference with a President’s ability to carry out his public responsibilities is constitutionally equivalent to interference with the ability of the entirety of Congress, or the Judicial Branch, to carry out its public obligations.” Id. at 713. It is inarguable that the now-resolved allegation of “Russian collusion” placed a cloud over the Presidency that has only begun to lift in recent weeks. The pendency of the SCO investigation plainly interfered with the President’s ability to carry out his public responsibility to serve the American people and to govern effectively. These very public and widely felt consequences flowed from, and were fueled by, improper disclosures by senior government officials with access to classified information. That this continues to go largely unremarked should worry all civil libertarians, all supporters of investigative due process, and all believers in limited and effective government under the Constitution.

I respectfully ask you to include a copy of this letter in the Department’s records relating to the SCO investigation.

Sincerely,

Emmet T. Flood
Special Counsel to the President

*****************************************

Flood letter to Barr by on Scribd

New York Times Scandal??? What Scandal?

The New York Times Scandal? What scandal? Whatever can you mean?

I always have understood that a scandal was an unusual and unexpected immoral or dishonest behavior from a person or institution previously considered moral, honest and reputable. So I admit to being confused.

The fracas appears to be about some anti-semitic cartoons the Time printed. The one above is an example, trashing Israel, Jews, President Trump and Israeli PM Netanyahu all at the same time. Kinda resembles this old Nazi cartoon of a Jew leading Churchill around, doesn’t it?

The new wrinkle is showing the Jew as a dog. As Imam Mohammad Tawhidi, a Muslim reform advocate reminds us, Islamist texts refer to Jewish people as descended from “ pigs, monkeys and dogs.”

Nazi cartoon

At any rate, for some reason the Times caught hell for this, although not from too many of their usual readers I’m sure. They stonewalled things for what, 48 hours before removing the cartoon and claiming it was an ‘editorial mistake’, something that must have made anyone with newspaper or journalism experience laugh out loud. Cartoons usually get okayed by at least 4 people at most places before they run. Their little explanation didn’t contain an apology, of course. That came a day or so later. and was followed by this:

View image on Twitter

My my, two anti-semitic cartoons in a row! This one shows Netanyahu dressed as Moses, coming down from the Mount carrying a tablet emblazoned with the flag of Israel, while narcissistically taking a selfie and holding up a Jewish star. OHHHKAY, right after two synagogue attacks. Imagine what would have happened at the New York Time’s building if they had printed a similar cartoon mocking Islam or blacks?

I still don’t see why this is a New York Times scandal. The Times has always been anti-Israel. Like the BBC, they consistently bash Israel while cozying up to and rationalizing atrocities committed by Israel’s enemies. One way the Times does it is to hire anti-Israel writers like Tom Friedman and Roger Cohen with obviously Jewish names to cover for them. This is nothing new, believe me. So what New York Times scandal? Why the shock and surprise?

Weren’t these the same people who cheered and rationalized Barack Hussein Obama’s Iran deal? So what if Iran’s leaders have constantly talked about their goal of wiping Israel off the map? Or at best, forcing Israel back to indefensible borders? Of course the nice folks at the New York Times, the BBC and other ‘news sites’  aren’t anti-Semitic, are they? When it comes down to it, they merely support having 7 million Jews obliterated as long as someone else does the dirty work. And if a few Jews get beaten bloody in Crown Heights or shot down in their synagogues, well, these things happen, you know and they can always blame Donald Trump, right?

I particularly like the touch of putting President Trump in a yarmulke, a Jewish skullcap. Both the Poway shooter and the Pittsburgh killer referred to our president as a ‘Jew lover’ in the most obscene terms. Nothing like revving people like that up, right?

You see, this isn’t a scandal. This is business as usual for these people. They’re the same sort of people who collaborated with FDR to keep news of what Hitler was doing to the Jews from the American people. Who knows,  they might otherwise have pressured him to actually do something about it like bombing the train tracks leading to Auschwitz. Or pressuring the Brits to open the Palestine Mandate to Jewish migrants fleeing a hideous death as they were legally supposed to do instead of closing it to them. These are the same kind of ‘journalists’ who lied about what a great place Stalin’s USSR was, and who kept the Ukrainian Holdovar quiet. This was a largely unknown genocide that saw at least 2-3 million people die on Stalin’s orders. This is the same paper that deliberately published classified information on US troop movements in Iraq that could have cost US servicemen their lives.

So there isn’t any New York Times scandal here. Except, perhaps the fact that Pravda on the Hudson is still considered a legitimate newspaper. That’s a real scandal, and it ain’t nothing new.

So how does all this end, hmm? Tweets, editorials and condemnation of these cartoons  mean absolutely nothing.  And even those were lacking from every Democrat running for president in 2020. If you think I’m mistaken, just look at how the blatantly anti-Semitic statements of recently elected congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib were defended by their party. And how every Democrat 2020 hopeful boycotted AIPAC’s recent event except Senator  Corry Booker, who has a large Jewish constituency in his home state.

What we have here is one of our nation’s two major parties becoming a haven for Jew hatred, just like Labour in the UK.  This sort of thing needs an active response. When there’s no price to pay, nothing like this changes. America’s Jews had best understand that they are gradually becoming a target, in the Leftist media, on campuses and even while praying in synagogues.

Jew hatred is now becoming fashionable.

Rob Miller

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rob Miller writes for Joshuapundit. His articles have appeared in The Jerusalem Post, The Washington Examiner, American Thinker, The Los Angeles Times, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The San Francisco Chronicle, Real Clear Politics, The Times Of Israel, Breitbart.Com, Yediot and other publications.

Follow him on Twitter here and on Facebook here.

And connect with him on Linked In.

Trump is no better or worse than other recent presidents

Hand-wringing about Trump’s personality and private life — when compared to most other recent Presidents — is akin to complaining that a leopard has spots.

One of the things I hear from those who hate Trump personally is that he is worse than any other president who’s ever occupied the White House. Perhaps because I’m a history major, I have to disagree with that. We’ve had a lot of truly reprehensible people in the White House plus a couple of truly reprehensible people trying to get into the White House.

Woodrow Wilson was a model of rectitude in his private life. He was also an ardent racist who segregated the federal civil service, showed the KKK-loving film Birth of a Nation in the White House because he thought it was accurate history, used the excuse of WWI to bring fascism to America, and refused to step down when incapacitated, so that his wife effectively became president of the United States. Bottom line: Awful man, awful president.

Franklin Roosevelt, despite his disabilities, was a fairly compulsive womanizer, a habit he kept up while in the White House. Many people also feel that his innate antisemitism helped enable the Holocaust.

Roosevelt’s bottom line: Awful man, effective president if you like the Leftward tilt he gave the country, and a good wartime leader.

Harry Truman was also a model of rectitude in his private life, but there’s no getting away from the fact that he came up politically through the completely corrupt Pendergast political machine that dominated Missouri. Maybe he kept his nose clean but the reality is that, when you play politics with the corrupt big boys….

Truman’s bottom line: Decent man, decent president. A rarity

John F. Kennedy was disgusting. He got into the White House because his father made a deal with the union bosses, whose last-minute get-out-the-vote effort (in a style only the union bosses know how to do), tipped the balance for him. In exchange, one of Kennedy’s first acts was an executive order unionizing federal employees. Even ardent Leftist Franklin Roosevelt didn’t do that, because he understood that the unions and the politicians would simply throw taxpayer money back and forth at each other, which is precisely what has happened since 1961. Without that dirty deal, it’s doubtful a Democrat would ever have won the White House again. After all, the biggest spenders in every election are always government unions and it’s always on behalf of Democrats.

Kennedy was also a gravely ill man (get it? gravely ill because he had Graves disease) and a drug addict, hopped up on steroids and amphetamines. There were also all the pain medications for his lifelong back problems, which were compounded by the back injury he sustained during the war.

Kennedy’s compulsive womanizing was sickening. We learned recently that deflowered a 19-year-old intern, passed her around to “service” his buddies at the White House, and when he thought she was pregnant, sent her to an abortionist even though that was illegal and Kennedy was a Catholic. We’ve also known for years that he potentially put himself under the control of the mafia thanks to his affair with Judith Exner.

His handling of the Bay of Pigs was a disaster.

Really — and ironically — the only thing that saved Kennedy’s presidency, or at least the reputation of his presidency, was his early demise. Let the Democrat myth-making begin. . . .

Kennedy’s bottom line: Awful man, with a presidency too short to grade.

Lyndon Baines Johnson was also a truly disgusting man. I love this intro from a 1998 Atlantic article about Johnson:

URINATING in a sink, inviting people into his bathroom, showing off his abdominal scar, exposing his private parts: after a while nothing surprises a biographer of Lyndon Baines Johnson. After fourteen years of research for a two-volume biography, of which the second volume, is forthcoming from Oxford University Press, I have, however, found some new evidence, in three areas, that even by Johnson standards is surprising.

That intro doesn’t even mention his sadistic delight in forcing people to do business with him while he was having his bowel movements. Or his racism, for while there may  have been actual principles behind his push behind the Civil Rights Act, he definitely envisioned chaining blacks to the Democrat Party. I remember my father’s revulsion about the fact that Johnson liked picking beagles up by the ears which my father, a man who didn’t even like dogs, thought was unspeakably cruel.

Regarding those “revelations” in the Atlantic article from which I quoted, above, most of them have to do with Johnson’s feelings about the Vietnam War and his political manipulations. Still, I found this bit telling:

Johnson had “an unfillable hole in his ego,” [Bill] Moyers says. Feelings of emptiness spurred him to eat, drink, and smoke to excess. Sexual conquests also helped to fill the void. He was a competitive womanizer. When people mentioned Kennedy’s many affairs, Johnson would bang the table and declare that he had more women by accident than Kennedy ever had on purpose.

Johnson’s bottom line: Awful man who worsened an awful war (it took Nixon to save that) and who proved to be an ineffective leader for a country besieged by overt and covert communist influences.

Nixon was another man who was faithful to his wife, but we all know about his paranoia and political dirty-dealing. Nevertheless, he was an extremely effective president before he left office.

Nixon’s bottom line: Deeply unpleasant man, yet a truly consequential president in terms of his policy initiatives, both good and bad.

Jimmy Carter, was a man of rectitude who eventually proved also to be a man who never met a dictator he didn’t like. Moreover, he was (and continues to be) such an ardent foe of Israel, the only liberal democracy in the Middle East, that one can only suppose antisemitism. It was Carter’s hatred for Israel that led my father, a Democrat, to vote for Reagan in 1980.

Carter’s bottom line: Decent man if you like smug, moralistic antisemites, and one of America’s worst presidents.

Speaking of that 1980 election, how about Teddy Kennedy, the venerable “lion of the Senate”? Manslaughter, alcoholism, compulsive womanizing, sexual assault, and colluding with Russia. There’s a peach of a man.

Teddy Kennedy’s bottom line: Awful in every respect.

Reagan was a decent man while in office. Nevertheless, I recall that when Reagan ran for the presidency, many people were distressed by the fact that he was a divorced man entering the White House with his second wife. It’s worth noting that Trump, another divorced man in the White House, and someone who definitely played the field, has not given rise to any “cheating on Melania” stories since he was elected. (I also find unconvincing the hysteria about the whole “grab ’em” uproar.) Given the colonoscopy level of scrutiny to which Trump is being subjected, I suspect he, unlike many of the presidents in this list, has not used the White House as a cat house. As every romance writer will tell you, rakes can reform.

Reagan’s bottom line: Decent man despite a divorce that could still upset people in 1980 and one of the best presidents to ever occupy the White House — and that’s true despite problems, both of his own making and the making of others, that plagued him during those eight years.

Bill Clinton. Compulsive womanizer, probable rapist, possible pedophile (on Jeffrey Epstein’s Pedophile Island), and unbelievably politically corrupt, along with his even more corrupt wife. Do I need to say more?

Clinton’s bottom line: Utterly reprehensible human being, who had a successful presidency, although it planted a lot of time bombs, such as North Korea, the housing mortgage crisis, punting on rising Islamic terrorism, that bit us in the ass later.

Barack Obama. No matter what Biden says, Biden Obama ran one of the most corrupt White Houses in American history, culminating with his using his administrative agencies to spy on Republican campaigns. (And yes, I’m certain he spied on all of them. It simply became focused on Trump when Trump won the primary.)

There were also the little things that ought to have distressed everyone during the Obama era, such as his inviting hate-filled, misogynist, antisemitic, anti-American rappers to the White House. There was the constant racial division that poured out of him (“If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon.” “The police acted stupidly.” Etc.). There was his increasingly openly expressed hostility to Israel, something that paired well with the openly anti-Semitic people who’d been a part of his political life for decades. He is the political Godfather of Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib. I could go on, but I think the next two years will do a good job of exposing just how bad Obama was.

Obama’s bottom line: It’s hard to say whether Obama has been a morally decent man personally. The press kept (and still tries to keep) such a tight lid on everything about him, before, during, and after the White House, that we really don’t know Obama the man. We do know that he’s a race baiter, an Israel hater, and a friend of antisemites, so to me that makes him an awful man. He was also an awful president, keeping the economy in chains, getting America into multiple wars, destroying our military, unleashing the malevolent Arab spring, turning on (admittedly unsavory characters) such as Mubarek and Qaddafi, pandering to Putin . . . the list is endless.

And now we’ve got candidate Joe Biden, a former Vice President and perennial senator, whom many of those who hate Trump are claiming represents the last gasp of “normalcy.” Speaking of “normalcy,” don’t forget that the phrase comes from Warren G. Harding, an adulterer and the man who had the most corrupt presidency right up until Obama appeared on the scene.

Let me count Joe’s sins: The obvious sins are that he’s a plagiarist, a liar, an unbelievably creepy man around woman and an even more creepy man around little girls, a racist (Obama is “clean”? Really?), a gaffe machine, and a man whose every political instinct for decades has been wrong. Cleverly, Biden hasn’t amassed great wealth despite a long career in politics (Harry Reid, anybody?) but as the developing Ukrainian and Chinese scandals show, that his merely a cover for his extreme corruption: He used his government power to enrich his son.

Joe also announced his run by claiming that foreign leaders are begging him to run. Does that sound good for America? It doesn’t for me. I’ve yet to see a foreign president who puts America’s interests first.

And most importantly, is all of the above “normal?” No. Joe is not normal. He’s weird, creepy, and dishonest. That’s the bottom line on Joe: Stupid and icky.

All of the above is not what-aboutism. That is, I’m not saying, “Well, sure, Trump lies . . . but what about. . . .?” “Or sure, Trump cheated on his wives, but what about. . . .?”

I’m trying to say something different, which is that, while the White House is certainly a bully pulpit, I don’t view it as an actual pulpit — because, since Washington, it never has been an actual pulpit. Moreover, the last guy I can think of who was both a model of rectitude and an extraordinarily successful president was Calvin Coolidge, who got elected 99 years ago.

I certainly don’t quarrel with those who claim that a job requirement for a president is that the president should be able to comport himself on the world stage, but I don’t confuse that requirement with moral decency. Moreover, Donald Trump does fine on the world stage. Trump, who’s been a top-of-the-world businessman for decades is, in fact, quite comfortable functioning at those rarefied echelons. Moreover, as I noted above, since Trump got elected, there haven’t been bimbo eruptions, there haven’t been nasty rappers, there haven’t been divorces . . . there haven’t been any personal scandals. He doesn’t drink or do drugs. Within the White House, he is a man of rectitude.

To the extent Trump is a sinner and a liar and a bombastic man, the laundry list I made above shows that America has never needed, and has seldom had, men of stunning moral rectitude and character in the White House. Moreover, those men who have had the best character in recent years were nothing to write home about. Jimmy Carter was arguably that man and he stank as a human being and a president. The two Bushes were arguably those men and they too were mediocre presidents at best.

Good men can be ineffective executives; bad (not corrupt, but just yucky) men can be effective executives. In my house, I want a good man; in my White House, I want an effective executive — and one, moreover, who loves America and Americans. That’s Trump.

President Trump, NeverTrumpers, and keeping kosher

Regarding NeverTrumpers, are there two different kinds — the sleazy grifters and the genuinely principled people who cannot swallow the idea of Trump?

The Torah (that is, the five books of Moses) imposes multiple life rules on Jews and how many of these rules a given Jew follows depends on that person’s degree of religious orthodoxy. For non-Jews, the kosher dietary laws are probably the best known commandments that religious Jews must obey.

For those Jews who keep kosher, there are myriad rules about the type of food that may be eaten, the way animals must be slaughtered, the way the food must be prepared, and the dishes on which it can be served. Keeping kosher is complicated and takes observant Jews outside of the mainstream of American eating.

For those with a deep commitment to God, however, the kosher dietary laws are simply a fact of life. Moreover, they find non-kosher food so viscerally repugnant that they wouldn’t dream of knowingly eating it.

God’s laws, though, are still subsets of an even more important principle: The Torah’s highest and most important directive is to choose life. In keeping with this directive, over the centuries the rabbis developed the doctrine of Pikuach nefesh. Per Wikipedia, which seems to be quite accurate on this point:

Pikuach nefesh (Hebrew: פיקוח נפש, IPA: [piˈkuaχ ˈnefeʃ], “saving a life”) describes the principle in Jewish law that the preservation of human life overrides virtually any other religious consideration. When the life of a specific person is in danger, almost any mitzvah lo ta’aseh (command to not do an action) of the Torah becomes inapplicable. [Hyperlinks and footnotes omitted.]

Specifically with regard to the intersection between Pikuach nefesh and kosher dietary rules, Wikipedia explains as follows:

Non-kosher food may be eaten under the following circumstances:

  • If no kosher food is available to the person, and failure to eat the non-kosher food may result in starvation.
  • If a non-kosher food product specifically is needed to cure an illness.

If necessary for recovery, a patient may eat non-kosher foods. In the Babylonian Talmud, Chapter 82a of Tractate Yoma mentions pregnancy cravings for non-kosher food (the passage discusses a pregnant woman who craves pork on Yom Kippur) as the paradigmatic example of a presumed life-threatening situation where a person is allowed to eat non-kosher food (and is permitted to eat it on Yom Kippur). [Hyperlinks omitted]

The fact that something is permitted, though, doesn’t necessarily mean someone is able to do it. I have heard stories of extremely orthodox Jews who, when rescued from Nazi concentration camps, were unable to make themselves eat if the only food available was not kosher. (This obviously doesn’t apply to quarrels about which plate to use; it applies to being offered pork or some other forbidden food to eat.) These Jews would tell their children to eat the food, but they viewed it with such revulsion — akin to your being asked to eat a piece of ancient, rotten, worm-ridden meat — that they simply couldn’t force it down. I don’t know if these stories are true, but they work nicely for my Trump analogy — or rather, for my NeverTrumpers analogy.

I look at Donald Trump, warts and all, and nevertheless happily accept him as my president. Even if I take away all the affirmative benefits I believe he’s brought to America in terms of the economy, national security, removal from the Kyoto Accord and the Iran Deal, a commitment to the Second Amendment, a willingness to attack Islamic extremism head-on, etc., I’m still incredibly grateful to him for all the negative things he prevented.

As I see it, the 2016 election wasn’t between Donald Trump and someone else who might have been just as good. That imagines an election in which both candidates hewed to a fairly middle-of-the-road political ideology that had America’s traditional well-being at its center, with the difference between the two candidates being that Trump was a little more conservative and the other candidate was a little more Leftist.

Instead, I viewed 2016 as a purely binary election with one candidate who might guide America into more traditional paths and another candidate whom we knew with absolute certainty had willingly sold American interests out to Russia, had purposefully violated national security, and absolutely intended to follow the Obama path by continuing

  • to have the American economy bow down to (and bow under) climate change hysteria,
  • to fund Iran, to pursue a “reset” with Russia that would harm central European allies,
  • to continue to place activist judges with little respect for the constitution on the Supreme Court and other federal benches,
  • to pander to the Muslim Brotherhood and the Palestinians while showing hostility to Israel,
  • to pay Danegeld to North Korea,
  • to push for deeper and deeper divisions in America based upon Jim Crow-esque racial theories,
  • to enter into crony deals with big business while destroying our manufacturing sector,
  • to elevate criminals over law enforcement,
  • to destroy gun rights, and on and on and on.

While backing Trump was an obvious step for me to take, there quickly developed a class of ostensible Republicans who absolutely could not stomach Trump and who became known as NeverTrumpers. This essay is about what I perceive as two different classes of NeverTrumpers, one deserving nothing but disdain and the other being people we still respect even if their political take is different from ours.

The ones who deserve our disdain are the Bill Kristol or Jennifer Rubin types. Since Trump’s election, they’ve proven that they were never committed conservatives. Instead, it seems that, in the years leading to the 2016 election, they had merely found a profitable niche for themselves, including Kristol’s effortlessly and undeservedly stepping into his father’s impressive shoes. The same goes for Norman Podhoretz, who came to support Trump, and his louche, entitled NeverTrumper son John.

In the same vein, the McCain family is supporting Biden who, while he plays a “traditional Democrat” on TV, supported every Leftist Obama policy initiative and seems on board with every one of the Democrats’ current Leftist policy initiatives. Keep in mind that this is the man who told blacks that Republicans — the party of Lincoln — were going to “put you back in chains.”

When push came to shove, when it was a choice between their principles and still having Democrat friends in all the right places, these NeverTrumpers willingly abandoned every conservative principle they’d formerly espoused.  They are the kind of self-styled elite Kurt Schlichter appropriately savages in his must-read Militant Normals: How Regular Americans Are Rebelling Against the Elite to Reclaim Our Democracy.

In other words, one has to question whether these people were ever real conservatives or, if like Biden himself pretending to be moderate, they just played conservatives on TV, on cruises, and at cocktail parties where they mixed with the politically connected in-crowd. The fact is that they all seem awfully willing today to back people who stand for everything they once claimed to oppose.

But then there are the people whose values haven’t changed — who still believe absolutely in conservative policies — but who experience a sense of revulsion against Trump that has nothing to do with policies and everything to do with visceral dislike. And this is where I circle back to the kosher food rules.

To me, these NeverTrumpers are not fake conservatives like Rubin, Kristol, or the McCains. Instead, these people remind me of those (possibly apocryphal) survivors of the concentration camps who, even to preserve life, could not force themselves to eat something as completely unkosher as pork or shell fish. Given a choice between dying and eating something repulsive, they chose dying.

In the same way, those who find Trump repugnant at a core level beyond reason will never be able to support him. Given a choice between Leftism and Trump, they choose political abstention. They are conservatives, so they, unlike the grifters, will never vote for a Democrat — nevertheless, because they’re the political equivalent of being kosher, they cannot even force themselves to support, let alone vote for, Trump.

Anyway, that’s my two cents. Some #NeverTrumpers were fakers and grifters all along and they therefore deserve the disrespect that comes their way. Others are deeply principled people whose sense of pure revulsion about a man who is, as even his supporters concede, not quite normal, paralyzes their ability to follow their conservative political instincts. That can’t be changed and needs to be respected.