An Unlovely Garland

When Senate Republicans rebuffed Merrick Garland’s 2016 Supreme Court nomination, the usual soreheads wailed. So did some unusual ones: The Washington Post’s George F. Will deemed the refusal to accord Garland a hearing “a partisan reflex in search of a justifying principle.” Leon H. Wolf of RedStatecalled Barack Obama’s pick to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia “a gift that should not be squandered” and urged senators to “confirm Merrick Garland before it is too late.” Quasi-conservative attorney Jeb Golinkin wrote in The Week that Obama “went out of [his] way to appoint someone moderate enough that it would be politically difficult for Republicans to refuse to hold hearings.”

But refuse they did. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley, and several of their Republican colleagues weathered media indignation for doing so. Good on ‘em: Garland, now the attorney general nominee, demonstrated at his Senate hearing last Monday that, thanks to McConnell et al, the Constitution dodged a missile.

Now the minority leader, McConnell can’t perform this feat again. Knowing this, he’s pledged to back Garland’s appointment to head the Justice Department. So have many other conservative senators. Other decidedly non-liberal entities and individuals have sent the Judiciary Committee letters of support, including the Fraternal Order of Police, the National Sheriffs Association, Republican former Attorneys General Michael Mukasey and Alberto Gonzales, and Republican former Federal Bureau of Investigation Director Louis Freeh. These observers all consider Garland the most moderate, reasonable top federal lawyer they can get from President Joe Biden. They’re right—and that’s unsettling.

Garland, having worked earlier in private practice and at the Justice Department, became a federal judge in 1997 after Bill Clinton appointed him to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Despite often being called a centrist, he was a steady socially liberal vote and also a union drudge. In the vast majority of principal opinions he wrote regarding National Labor Relations Board appeals, he favored the NLRB’s judgment against an employer. In such cases, he reasoned that courts should let a government agency interpret its own precedent. Yet he almost totally avoided authoring rulings that benefitted management more than organized labor, even when that avoidance meant balking at the determination of the NLRB.

If Garland had been on the court instead of Trump appointee Neil Gorsuch in 2018 when the landmark Janus v. AFSCME was decided, public-sector unions would undoubtedly still have the unconstitutional ability to compel workers to pay union dues. That’s bad enough. What senators discovered about his legal perspective at Monday’s hearing makes the matter even worse.

He was asked, for instance, by Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO), “Do you believe that illegal entry at America’s borders should remain a crime?” The nominee replied, “I just don’t know the answer to that question. I haven’t thought about it.” Hawley then inquired, “Will you continue to prosecute unlawful border crossings?” Garland answered, “Well, this is again a question of allocation of resources…. I have to admit I just don’t know exactly what the conditions are and how this is done. I don’t know what the current program even is with respect to this. So, I assume that the answer would be yes but I don’t know what the issues surrounding it are.” So, then, Americans can “assume” some measure of border enforcement—in a nation estimated to have around 11 million illegal residents—will continue. Comforting. 

Garland made equally unreassuring remarks on both the First and Second Amendments. After Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) asked him if government had a role in countering “online misinformation” (sometimes quaintly referred to as constitutionally protected speech). The nominee responded, “I think that every opportunity the Justice Department has to work with members of the Senate to think about how to solve problems and how to craft legislation is one that we should take. I don’t have in mind particular legislation in this area. I do think that an important part of the investigation of violent extremist groups is following their activities online and getting an idea of what kind of information and misinformation is being put out.” That’s swell, but Coons’s express ambitions to restrict free speech—e.g., pressuring social media outlets to “have a policy on climate change misinformation”—could’ve used pushback from a supposed legal eminence like Garland.

Responding to inquiries from Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), the judge said he believes President Biden “may have a position” on whether gun manufacturers should be held liable for their products being used in crimes. “I have not thought, myself, deeply about this,” he explained. “I don’t think it raises a Second Amendment issue itself—the question of a liability protection—but I have not addressed this in any way and I need to think about this considerably more.” A second’s contemplation would lead any lucid person to realize that unless a gunmaker creates a faulty weapon or is negligent in distributing guns to firearm stores, the gunmaker isn’t responsible for crimes or accidents that take place after legitimate wholesale distribution.

On capital punishment, Garland demurred. When asked by Grassley if the Biden administration will continue the government’s court battle to carry out its death sentence for Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar A. Tsarnaev, the nominee responded that he could not comment on a pending case. But Garland did note that Biden opposes executions, adding that “I have had great pause about the death penalty…, about the large number of exonerations that have occurred through DNA evidence and otherwise.… I think a terrible thing occurs when somebody is convicted of a crime that they did not commit and the most terrible thing happens if someone is executed for a crime they did not commit. …[Recently] we’ve seen fewer and fewer death-penalty applications anywhere in the country, not only in the federal government but among the states, and as a consequence, I’m concerned about the increasing almost randomness or arbitrariness of its application when you have so few number of cases. And finally…, the data’s clear that [capital punishment] has enormously disparate impact on black Americans and members of communities of color… I expect it not at all unlikely that we will return to the [pre-Trump] policy” of a moratorium.

Where to begin? First, analysis published by the National Academy of Sciences indicates that handing down a death sentence instead of imprisonment greatly improves the likelihood that a wrongly convicted person will be exonerated. Second, death penalty retentionists are as concerned as abolitionists about “randomness or arbitrariness” when so few death sentences are imposed; resultantly, retentionists want capital punishment to be utilized more often and more consistently. (For further analysis of Garland’s death penalty remarks, see Wednesday’s astute piece by Mike Tremoglie.)

Where election law is concerned, Garland is stuck in the past, particularly regarding “preclearance,” which he called an “important tool.” Preclearance refers to a requirement under the 1965 Voting Rights Act that a number of jurisdictions in the southern U.S. (including Texas) receive approval from the Department of Justice before making changes to their election laws. In the 2013 Supreme Court case Shelby County v. Holder, the outdated and burdensome formula determining whether preclearance should apply was struck down. If Congress comes up with a less onerous formula and the president enacts it, preclearance will be resurrected. But for all the blather about contemporary “voter suppression,” minority voting rights are not currently threatened by any election reforms under consideration anywhere in America. Preclearance is antiquated.

Toward the end of the hearing, Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) asked Garland whether Title IX of the Civil Rights Act serves as a valid basis to allow biological males who identify as females to compete against girls in school sports programs. The judge’s response? “This is a very difficult societal question that you’re asking here… I’ve not had the chance to consider these kinds of issues in my career so far. But I agree that this is a difficult question.”

But the question is not difficult. The recent introduction of biological males into female sports has rendered many actual girls uncompetitive in athletic matches. The work of diligent researchers like Ryan T. Anderson, Ashley McGuire, and Abigail Shrier makes clear this is a grave problem.

Finally, on racial justice, Garland’s is self-negating. “We do not yet have equal justice,” he told the Senate panel. “Communities of color and other minorities still face discrimination in housing, in education, in employment, and in the criminal justice system.” He was speaking of blacks and hispanics, but as Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) pointed out to the judge, the clearest victims of racial discrimination in higher education presently are Asian-Americans. Cotton expressed his dismay that President Biden is not continuing his predecessor’s litigation against Yale University; the suit sought to correct an admissions system wherein Asian-American students were eight times less likely to be admitted than those of other ethnicities in the same strata of academic achievement. Garland simply replied, “I can’t draw any conclusions without knowing the facts of the case.” 

It would be nice if the soon-to-be attorney general did know more basic facts about some of the high-profile subjects he will soon need to tackle, and had the sound judgment to tackle them.

merrick garland

Capital Punishment Foes Have Blood on Their Hands

Virginia will ban capital punishment. An act praised by USA Today and other Leftwing media – because “journalists” believe anti-capital punishment propaganda that claims the death penalty is cruel and, of course, racist.

So too does Biden’s choice for Attorney General, who were it not for Sen. McConnell, would be on the Supreme Court today where his Leftwing orthodoxy would severely damage American society, in general, and the criminal justice system in particular. When questioned about capital punishment during his confirmation hearing, Merrick Garland, Leftist ideologue that he is, said, “I am very concerned about the large number of exonerations that have occurred through DNA evidence and otherwise, not only in death penalty convictions but also in other convictions. I think a terrible thing occurs when somebody is convicted for a crime they did not commit and the most terrible thing happens when someone is executed for a crime they did not commit.”

It is safe to say that Garland and people like Garland are not the only people who think it is terrible for someone who has been convicted of a crime they did not commit and would think it very terrible for someone to be executed for a crime they did not commit. Any sentient human being feels this way. Garland is not unique. His statement belies his sanctimony in that he believes what others think is callous.

But the problem in Garland’s statement is proving an innocent person or persons have been executed. Those exonerations of which Garland speaks are dubious in many cases. They were driven more by legal technicalities than innocence and the reluctance of prosecutors to retry a case. The fact is there has never been a proven case of an innocent person being executed.

But do you know what has been proven? Innocent people being killed by convicted murderers who were not executed but should have been. 

Ironically, the day Garland lamented about capital punishment a prison guard in Indiana was murdered by a triple murderer serving a 130 year sentence. This murderer who should have been executed was allowed to kill again. He stabbed to death a corrections officer and nearly killed another. The wounded prison guards were transported to a hospital in Michigan City, where one was pronounced dead and the other is listed in serious condition.

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Where is Merrick Garland’s compassion for these innocent men? It probably does not exist. Like many self-righteous death penalty opponents, the murders of prison guards, police officers, and ordinary citizens by those convicted or paroled or put on probation by the Merrick Garlands of America are considered an acceptable sacrifice. This way their morality is satisfied. Their conscience is eased. These deaths do not result in marches, political theater, or even much publicity. No, these people are quickly forgotten. Note well that the names of the prison guards were not even mentioned in the news report. 

We all know how much publicity executed murderers receive. We all know how much media gnashing of teeth and ringing of hands occur when a white police officer shoots a black person. We all know the hyperventilation that results from a prison guard being accused of prisoner abuse. 

But you will find very little news media histrionics about prison guards being murdered by a criminal who should have been executed. There is no Innocence Project to advocate for dead prison guards. There are no statements from the ACLU or Amnesty International about prison guards being murdered. Chris Cuomo, Don Lemon, Joy Reid, or Nicole Wallace will not slam the table or yell at the camera with righteous anger at this injustice. Nor will they make sarcastic comments about the racial inequities in these killings whatever they may be.

It is a disgrace that America’s leadership class and soi-disant elites are so gullible, so ignorant, so biased, so bigoted, and so stupid that they are blind to the truth about the criminal justice system. What is even worse is their condescension to those who see the truth. 

Someone needs to remind Merrick Garland and the Virginia lawmakers that when the government does not resolutely subdue criminal behavior, or even worse, capitulates to it, the average citizen pays the price for their negligence. It is the average person who becomes a victim because of government leniency.

To paraphrase an old aphorism, Mercy to the cruel, is cruelty to the innocent. Garland and Virginia need to be reminded of this too.

Death Penalty – Michael P. Tremoglie – Capital Punishment – crime – merrick garland

PAP (Prosecutors Against Police)

The past several years have seen a trend of Leftwing lawyer-politicians elected to the offices of state Attorney General and District Attorney. These candidates bring to office an intrinsic hostility towards police and a similarly intrinsic sympathy towards criminals.

The most recent manifestation of this inherent hostility towards police is New York State Attorney General (AG), Letitia James. James made incendiary comments about the refusal of a New York Grand Jury, which she empaneled, to investigate the Arrest-Related-Death of one Daniel Prude at the hands of Rochester, NY police officers. James’ comments indicate that far from championing justice, in this case she had already determined the officers’ guilt and wanted them in prison.

She said after the Grand Jury’s refusal, according to a NY Post story, “I made a commitment to the Prude Family and the Rochester community, I would do everything in my power to ensure justice was served in the death of Daniel Prude. My office presented an extensive case and we saw a different outcome than the one the grand jury handed us today. The criminal justice system has frustrated efforts to hold law enforcement officers accountable.” 

This does not sound like a fair and impartial prosecutor. 

The media Leftwing disinformation campaign was just as bad. The Leftist mainstream media essentially accused the police officers of murder. Echoing the same lies they perpetrated in the Arrest-Related-Deaths that occurred in Ferguson MO and Kenosha WI they portrayed Prude as this innocent person brutally assaulted by police.

The fact of the matter was that Prude, much like George Floyd, was under the influence of a deadly controlled substance when he was parading naked in the street. He screamed he was going to kill everybody in a nearby house. He was also bragging about the size of his male organ – using a vulgar term to describe it. His death was ruled a homicide simply because the police tried to restrain him while waiting for an ambulance – also very similar to the George Floyd case.

But blaming the Arrest-Related-Death of Daniel Prude (or for that matter George Floyd) on drug addiction does not advance the cause of the media looking for an audience; it does not help “civil rights” groups obtain donations; it does not help politicians get votes. As I pointed out in my 2006 novel A Sense of Duty, the exploitation, by certain sectors of society, of interracial use of force issues by law enforcement for pecuniary gain is one of the greatest injustices in modern America.

And exploitation it is. Do not be fooled otherwise. It is aided by ideologues like Letitia James. A cursory review of James’ background explains why.

AG Letitia James is a 62-year-old, woman of color and, it is fair to say, a woman of the Left. She is a Democrat, who is or was affiliated with the Working Families Party. This party has been described by some as “progressive” or even “quasi-Marxist”. She received her B.A. from the City University of New York’s Lehman College and a J.D. from Howard University School of Law. She also received an M.P.A. from Harvard. When she was elected New York State Attorney General she was the first woman and the first person of color ever to hold the office.  

During her political career, she worked in the administrations of  New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (currently under investigation by the FBI) and she worked for disgraced former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer when he was the NY Attorney General. She also worked as a public defender and was a member of the New York City Council.

So James has the background of one who has a grudge against police and who checks for racists under her bed at night. After all, she recently sued the New York City Police Department for excessive use of force and false arrests following the New York City riots last summer. These riots featured massive looting and destruction of properties as well as assaults on police. It also featured the chant by Black Lives Matter protesters, “Pigs in a blanket, fry them like bacon” a reference to killing police officers.

By the way, James received support for her lawsuit against the NYPD from people like Democratic NY Congressman Jerrold Nadler. He said, “When New Yorkers took peacefully to the streets in the wake of the murder of George Floyd, they were too often met by the police brutality and excessive force they were protesting….This pattern of abuse — so often employed by some officers in the NYPD and police forces across the nation against African Americans — is all the more shocking when contrasted with the lenient police response that greeted White, violent extremists at our nation’s Capitol last week.” (N.B. an unarmed White woman was shot and killed by police during the Capitol Hill riot. To my knowledge no Black or White “peaceful protesters” were shot and killed by police during the many riots last summer. But many innocent civilians were killed by “peaceful protesters.”

So the stage has been set as Leftwing prosecutors, elected to office by a combination of Rightwing apathy and Leftwing activism, continue their war on police and their adoration of the criminal. Letitia James joins such Leftist legal luminaries as Larry Krasner, Marilyn Mosby, Keith Ellison, George Gascon, and Rachel Rollins.

The aforementioned all seem to believe, as Mick Jagger once wrote, “Every cop is a criminal and all the sinners saints.”

A Bad Fiscal Situation Is About to Get Worse

By the end of 2021, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office anticipates, the national debt will reach 102 percent of GDP. By 2031, it will swell to 107 percent.

And now, the bad news.

These catastrophic projections don’t include the $1.9 trillion “stimulus” President Biden plans to enact. He almost deserves credit for candor, as he feigns no interest in mitigating deficits or debt. He averred last month, “Every major economist thinks we should be investing in deficit spending in order to generate economic growth.”

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Yet eminent economists have objected. Jeffrey Miron of Harvard, David R. Henderson of Stanford and the Naval Postgraduate School, Veronique de Rugy of George Mason, and Alexander William Salter of Texas Tech are just a few of the noteworthiest among them. Even the left-leaning former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers and former International Monetary Fund chief economist Olivier Blanchard have reproved the Biden plan as oversized.

First off, the spending bill is unavailing in the context of the White House’s broader fiscal agenda. Even as the president touts the legislation as “relief” from the dusky COVID economy, he proclaims every intention of hiking taxes in the months ahead. And should he fail, higher taxes loom nonetheless. Barring massive cuts to federal entitlements, America’s present financial outlook portends a crisis rivaling what Japan has experienced these last three decades. An ephemeral “stimulus” isn’t worth its cost under such conditions.

Moreover, the legislation is ill-suited to its intended purpose, i.e., job creation. Its $400 supplemental weekly jobless benefit—on top of what unemployment already pays—will have especially perverse consequences in this regard. Unemployment benefits, as currently designed, balance recipients’ need to meet basic obligations—food, housing, clothing—and the importance of quickly finding new employment. Biden’s plan would pay many jobless Americans comparably to what they earned when they held jobs, begetting a major disincentive for them to find work. And this policy would come at the least apt moment, when the economy is growing briskly and the dangers of COVID-19 are ebbing.

Another provision of Biden’s proposal allots $350 billion in aid to the states. But however shrilly governors may cry for federal largesse, and however much the news media have tried to cast state and local revenues in an ominous light during the pandemic, the data tell another story. According to the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis, state and local tax intake in 2020 was $20 billion above the intake during 2019.

While the typical year-to-year increase is greater than that, last year’s revenues saw nothing like the $60 billion decrease that occurred between 2008 and 2009. No less an economic basket case than California has declared, “While negative economic consequences of the pandemic have been severe, they do not appear to have been as catastrophic from a fiscal standpoint as the budget anticipated.” Given the Congressional Budget Office’s projection that GDP will grow 4.6 percent in 2021, declines in state and local revenues seem unlikely to happen anytime soon.

A third problematic element of the president’s plan would send $1,400 checks to households earning below certain income thresholds. This is reasonable in some cases, but with checks going to head-of-household filers making up to $112,500 and to married couples earning up to a combined $150,000, it’s clear that much of this money won’t get allocated based on need.

Altogether, the White House’s wild expectations for its spending plan sound unconvincing. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, for instance, has predicted enactment will return the economy to full employment next year, whereas it is otherwise not forecast until at least 2024. But the naysayers have history on their side: In January 2009, as then Vice President Biden and President Obama entreated Congress to pass their American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), White House economic advisers predicted ARRA would keep joblessness under eight percent and create over three million jobs by the end of 2010. It did neither.

At this juncture, policymakers can only do what science practically begs them to do: abjure their urge to asphyxiate the economy by various sorts of regulation but especially the sort devised to keep human beings apart from each other in hope of defeating the coronavirus. Immunity through vaccination and infection has already set the virus on a path to near defeat. Those who believe otherwise should take a gander at Worldometer’s COVID tracker.

Our tenacious president doesn’t like accepting defeat. Regarding COVID, we must hope he can accept victory.

Gun Free Zones and S.B. 514

In the early 1990s Congress passed the Gun Free School Zones Act, designating all K-12 schools in America as “gun-free” zones. Since then, we’ve seen major mass school shootings at Columbine, Sandy Hook, Parkland, and Santa Fe.  

The lesson is clear: disarming law-abiding parents, teachers, and staff in K-12 schools doesn’t make our children safer, it makes them defenseless.

Luckily, Federal law makes an exception: states can decide to allow license holders to carry in schools. But Texas law bans carry in schools unless the school district gives explicit permission. While some schools take part in various programs allowing small numbers of teachers or staff to carry, most districts refuse to grant permission. 

It’s well past time for Texas to scrap its general prohibition on K-12 carry. Senator Bob Hall’s SB 514 would do exactly that. 

As both a school district employee and the father of an elementary schooler, I understand this idea may make some people uncomfortable. After all, Campus Carry, Licensed Open Carry, and even Texas’ original Concealed Carry laws were all met with vocal concern before they were passed by the legislature.

But just as each of these laws resulted in none of the disasters predicted by their opposition, Licensed Concealed Carry in K-12 Schools would be just as problem-free. 

As with the previously-mentioned laws, Texas would not be the first state to try School Carry. In addition to the many states (including Texas) that allow limited carry programs, four states allow anyone with a license to carry concealed in schools. These states have done so without issue for decades.

School Carry makes perfect sense considering that the people carrying are at the intersection of the most caring and responsible groups among us: educators, loving parents, and the willfully lawfully armed. These are the same people we trust with the safety and well-being of our children every school day, or who dutifully carry each day when out with their kids. They are the ones who take the safety of themselves and their families seriously enough to make the decision not to leave it to someone else.

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What doesn’t make sense is to trust these same people to carry at parks and playgrounds, family restaurants, crowded movie theaters, and the shoulder-to-shoulder Texas State Fair, but suddenly cast a wary eye of distrust at the entryways of school buildings.

We are our own first responders. This truth is especially significant within the walls of K-12 schools, where most buildings don’t have armed guards or police — even in districts that employ their own police department. “Gun-free” schools are a measure of how long we’re willing to make our children and the adults watching over them wait while some deranged psychopath — which all the mental health professionals and law enforcement agencies failed to interdict — is actively in the process of murdering them. 

The entire Sandy Hook shooting was over in nine minutes. Police were at the school three minutes and twenty-one seconds after the first 911 call. To put that in perspective, that’s two hundred and one seconds, twenty children, and six educators.

No police force on the planet can travel to a school, navigate the halls, locate, and engage a deadly threat faster than a responsibly armed citizen can draw from a holster and shoot a killer standing right in front of them. 

And when you never know if your local police will rush in immediately or stand outside and wait for it to be over, like they did at Columbine and Parkland, relying on government forces to save you or the children in your care is a gamble you don’t want to lose. 

Even school marshals can’t stop shootings if there are no marshals in that school. Many Texas school boards don’t allow marshals in their districts, regardless of the courageous souls who would give anything to take up that noble responsibility. In schools that do have marshals, if they don’t happen to be in the same place an attack begins, they still have to take the time to find the threat and stop them. 

But tactical law enforcement training isn’t necessary to defend-in-place when the danger finds you. American gun owners, trained or not, successfully defend themselves every day in their homes and out in public. And American gun owners are well qualified to defend themselves and protect our vulnerable children in a school.

For those who say teachers would freeze under pressure, I’ll highlight three heroes who acted bravely to save lives at Parkland — knowing full well the danger they faced. 

Chris Hixon, unarmed, charged the shooter from down the hall. Aaron Feis, unarmed, physically fought the shooter in a stairwell. Scott Beigel, unarmed, ushered students into his classroom, while remaining in the hallway to lock the door which could only be locked from the outside. 

None of them hesitated, and they died heroes, whose names and deeds we should never forget. Had they — or any of the adults in building 12 — been armed, the headlines would read very differently today. And unlike other options being discussed, eliminating “gun-free” zones costs schools nothing.

That’s why I’m going to do my part to support passage of Senator Hall’s bill, SB 514, to restore our right to an armed defense in K-12 schools. I wholly urge all good Texans to call their legislators and tell them to do the same.

Free Speech for Bigwigs Only?

An ugly, spine-chilling menace beleaguers American government, we’re told. The nonprofit Center for Responsive Politics (CRP) says this horror ran “rampant” during Donald Trump’s tenure “despite his pledge to ‘drain the swamp.’” Even the seraphic Joe Biden can’t slay this devil without robust legislation, which congressional Democrats have blessedly drafted.

This putative nightmare is called “shadow lobbying,” and CRP defines it thus: “When an individual engages in advocacy to influence public policy but does not register as a lobbyist….”

Most people call this something else, like “speaking freely” or “exercising First Amendment rights.” Again, don’t fret; Congress aims to end all that.

The House bill to achieve this, titled the “For the People Act” (FPA), does much else that should embarrass its author John Sarbanes (D-MD). For starters, it would require automatic voter registration nationwide, allow released felons to vote, permit people to vote outside their precincts, expand mail-in voting, compel public funding of campaigns, and affirm support for District of Columbia statehood.

Given the contentiousness surrounding the 2020 election and its aftermath, recent news coverage of the Sarbanes bill has centered on its voting provisions. But its consequences for political speech are just as heinous.

Its supposed purpose is to check the influence of moneyed interests. According to the CRP, concerns about shadow lobbying mainly stem from corporate staffers or consultants directing lobbying activities without registering under the 1995 Lobbying Disclosure Act. But the FPA would impact the rights of Americans who don’t remotely fit this category.

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By broadening the description of lobbying to include “counseling services in support of lobbying contacts” and failing to clearly define “counseling services,” the bill would force many politically active Americans to register as lobbyists.

Elsewhere in the FPA, Sarbanes weaponizes campaign finance law against grassroots political expression. Organizations discussing federal legislation, candidates, or officials would face more onerous reporting obligations. An analysis by attorney Eric Wang, a senior fellow at the D.C.-based Institute for Free Speech (IFS), calls these changes “difficult for even campaign finance attorneys to understand” and asserts they would “give major headaches to any group that speaks on public issues.”

The FPA would also force groups issuing political advertisements to include longer disclaimers than those now mandated. Big deal, right? But many online campaign ads take up little space and many broadcast messages run shorter than 30 seconds. The smaller associations that create these ads cannot match the resources of larger political outfits. Might makes right, you see. Furthermore, the legislation would require many political advertisements to identify top donors. Wang believes this would exacerbate political harassment and public shaming as well as deter many donors from contributing. As HC reported last July 13, this kind of mobbing is already an occasional problem. (Not mentioning any names, Councilwoman Kamin.)

One particular section of the bill must be read to be believed: “Any covered organization that makes campaign-related disbursements aggregating more than $10,000 in an election reporting cycle shall, not later than 24 hours after each disclosure date, file a statement with the Commission made under penalty of perjury that contains… the election to which the campaign-related disbursement pertains and if the disbursement is made for a public communication, the name of any candidate identified in such communication and whether such communication is in support of or in opposition to a candidate.”

In sum, groups that neither support nor oppose political candidates must declare to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) that they either favor or disfavor candidates mentioned in their advertisements.

Sarbanes’s bill threatens the First Amendment’s speech protections in numerous other ways: it expands the FEC’s oversight of social-media communications; it empowers the commission to conduct partisan investigations more easily; and it recategorizes many instances of speech as being “coordinated” with federal candidates and therefore subject to heavier regulation.

So grievously does the FPA infringe on Americans’ freedom of expression that even the far-left American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) strenuously opposes it. In a 2019 letter to that effect, the ACLU protested that the bill would “unconstitutionally chill the speech of issue advocacy groups and nonprofits such as the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, or the NRA [National Rifle Association] that is essential to our public discourse and protected by the First Amendment.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) nevertheless announced last month that her caucus is “doubling down” on passing Sarbanes’s bill, which IFS has more fittingly dubbed the “For the Politicians Act.” Nonprofits like FreedomWorks and Eagle Forum, occasionally calling it the “Gag Act,” have encouraged citizens to voice their opposition to it at the grassroots level. Let’s hope they prevail.

Pro Teams Profited Wrapping Themselves in Flag They Now Burn

Personally, I like the idea that a professional sports franchise owner, like Mark Cuban, will stop exploiting the Star Spangled Banner to sell his product. For decades, professional sports teams have used patriotism for profit. The owners and players wrapped themselves in the flag they now burn. 

Let us be honest, corporations – especially multinational corporations – do not do anything that does not benefit the corporation. This practice of playing the national anthem, parading the flag in front of the crowd, “honoring” our uniformed services personnel, flyovers – it was all done to evoke the emotions of the audience. It stoked our good feelings towards our great nation with the expectation that these good feelings would be associated with their product i.e – the game itself. They exploited our patriotism to keep us patronizing their product.

Indeed, watching the NFL became a religious ritual. Families would gather around the television on Sunday, often in lieu of religious services, so that they did not miss the kickoff. The Catholic Church changed mass times from noon to 11 a.m. and added a Saturday vigil mass to make it more convenient for NFL fans because it recognized it was losing the competition for souls. 

Sports before Sermons cry the parishioners!  

The professional sports industry assembled a great public relations campaign. We were told that America was motherhood, baseball, and apple pie. How many WWII movies do you recall containing a sequence where a soldier, usually from Brooklyn, who was at the front lines, listening to a radio broadcast of a Dodgers game? 

Then there was NFL Films. Who can forget the legendary voice of local Philadelphia newscaster John Facenda narrating NFL Films tapes of spectacular plays or momentous games? NFL Films and Facenda’s lines became better known than Bible verse in many households.

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Of course, all of the scenes had a soundtrack of stirring music, often martial in nature. I am pretty sure I can recall When Johnny Comes Marching Home being played in one NFL Film score. It was moving to watch these films. 

Even today there are legendary scenes of NFL players milling around before the game with soundtracks akin to those of war movies. NFL players dressing in their battle armor in the locker room, thumping their chests on the sidelines, colliding their helmets together. One could almost imagine Roman Legions preparing to do battle with barbarians. 

Strength and Honor Brother We Need that Playoff Bonus!!! Take the Hill or Rather the Pitcher’s Mound !! Hold the Line Change!!! 

These are so inspirational. Armchair Quarterbacks and Barroom Coaches everywhere start to tingle with the excitement that their jobs and families do not provide. Who does not get goosebumps? It is quite possible that some of the couch potatoes actually put down the bag of pretzels during the flyovers and move from the couch to stand and salute. 

One cannot help but be emotional. The publicists hired by the various sports leagues are not stupid people. They know what will attract a loyal – even a fanatical – audience. 

Fanaticism is what the owners want because this is what keeps the cash coming into their coffers. (Actually, the word ‘fan’ is derived from fanaticism). This is what the players want too. They are entertainers after all. They are extremely well-paid entertainers. Their only job is to attract and keep an audience so corporations can advertise their products to the viewers. This is what it is all about and nothing more than this. Selling products and services to the viewers. 

What better way to do this than to exploit the natural feelings of love most sports fans have for their country. A love of country job outsourcing corporations do not share.

So yes, it is great to see that, finally, a professional sports franchise owner is shedding the hypocrisy of playing the national anthem before the game. For this we must thank Mark Cuban.

But the real person we all must thank is that unknown person, who influenced a dumb jock, to kneel down during the national anthem, to show his disdain concerning an issue about which he knew nothing, except what he was told by some Leftist ideologue. 

What a great country this is. Even when its enemies try to destroy it they improve it.

God Bless America.

If I Were a Congressman, and Marjorie Taylor Greene Was Being Banned

If I represented my federal district ( PA- 4) in congress during the vote to expel Marjorie Taylor Greene, this is the speech I would have made from the House floor.

Madame (Mister) Speaker,

I too, like the Democrats in this House claim to be, against racism, anti-Semitism, mob violence, and conspiracy theories. I have fought my whole life against these social ills. But unlike the Democrats in this legislative body, I am not a hypocrite. 

And make no mistake about it. The Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives who vote in favor of this bill are guilty of the greatest hypocrisy. Hypocrisy that is so vile and so blatant that it causes one to become physically ill just at the thought of it.

Where was this outrage when Rep. Maxine Waters ( D-CA) said she “would take Trump out?” Where was the righteous indignation when she urged a crowd to take mob actions by saying, ” If you see anybody from that (Trump) administration in a restaurant, department store, gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd and push back on them?” 

Create a crowd and push members of the Trump administration? What disgraceful rhetoric from a member of congress but apparently excusable because she is a Democrat – and a Black Democrat at that. Conduct such as this is not new from Waters. She was labeled “Kerosene Maxine,” I think by Larry Elders -an African-American Los Angeles native and radio commentator – for her inflammatory rhetoric during the 1992 Los Angeles riots. A riot during which 64 people were killed, about 2,900 injured, and about $1billion in property damage incurred. As the LA Times said in a contemporaneous report, even Rodney King called for calm, but not Maxine Waters. 

Ironically, Rep. Waters objected to what happened in LA in 1992 being called a riot. She said it was a rebellion and an “insurrection.” She was quoted in a 2007 Los Angeles Times article as saying back then, “If you call it a riot, it sounds like it was just a bunch of crazy people who went out and did bad things for no reason…. So I call it a rebellion.” 

Kerosene Maxine was angry at Mayor Bradley for calling the rioters “criminals” and “gangsters.” She insisted on the term “insurrection” to give the 1992 LA rioters the patina of justifiably angry people staging a political rebellion against an oppressive government.

Despite her 1992 rhetoric, despite talking about taking out Trump and despite calling for mobs to intimidate Trump cabinet members, Democrats have never sanctioned Water. They apparently approved of her rhetoric. Indeed, Democrats have made Waters an icon.

For today’s Democratic Party, some riots are more equal than others.

Then there is Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN). This Democrat has the distinction of being named the AntiSemite of the Year for 2019. But despite this award, there have been no efforts by Democrats to expel Rep. Ilhan Omar.

But that is not all. Here is a list of some other examples of Democrats hatred and bigotry and inflammatory rhetoric.

  • Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) said in July 2018 , “Go to the Hill today…Please, get up in the face of some congresspeople.”
  • Then Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said in June of 2018, “I just don’t even know why there aren’t uprisings all over the country. And maybe there will be.”
  • Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) Hillary Clinton’s running mate said in 2017, “ What we’ve got to do is fight in Congress, fight in the courts, fight in the streets, fight online, fight at the ballot box, and now there’s the momentum to be able to do this.”
  • Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) said in August 2020, “There needs to be unrest in the streets for as long as there’s unrest in our lives.”
  • Now President Joe Biden said in March 2018, “If we were in high school, I’d take (Trump) behind the gym and beat the hell out of him.”
  • Missouri State Senator Democrat Maria Chappelle-Nadal said in August 2017, “I hope Trump is assassinated!”

None of these comments resulted in censure, condemnation, sanction, punishment, or expulsion. Indeed, in the cases of Waters and Biden they have been rewarded by Democrats for their hate-filled rhetoric, their conspiracy theories, their urging of violence, their bigotry, and their incitements.

Until Democrats chastise the bigots and conspiracy theorists and curb the violent rhetoric in their own party they need not chastise Republicans. We can take care of our own. 

I vote no.

Leasing Ban Is a Job-Killing Spree

Fun fact: Energy Secretary nominee Jennifer Granholm has a bachelor’s degree in French. But as a Senate panel discovered last week, the Vancouver-born, California-raised Granholm has no such ease with her native tongue, at least not while answering a question that sets her on edge.

At Granholm’s confirmation hearing, Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) asked her about the inevitable economic repercussions of President Biden’s anti-fossil-fuel crusade.

The nominee replied, “I think the president’s plan of ‘building back better,’ which would create more jobs in energy—clean energy—than the jobs that might be sacrificed. But I will say this: no job—we don’t want to see any jobs sacrificed.”

She jars the ear not only by bollixing grammar but by “thinking” and “wanting” what cannot be. When Biden killed the Keystone XL pipeline, thousands of jobs died with it. And he has dealt an even more savage blow to the energy workforce by barring new oil and gas leasing on federal lands.

An analysis last year by the American Petroleum Institute (API) projected that a leasing moratorium may cost about 120,000 jobs in Texas, 62,000 in New Mexico, 18,000 in Colorado, and 33,000 in Wyoming. The Pennsylvania Manufacturers Association expects supply-chain disruption to hurt workers and job-seekers even in states without much federal land.

Some news outlets have dismissed API’s job-loss figures because these estimates suppose all federal leasing for fossil-fuel extraction will stop. But API cautions that this is foreseeable, and they’re not alone.

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Energy analyst David Blackmon, writing in Forbes, observes that Biden once promised to ban hydraulic fracturing (or “fracking”) on federal lands before reversing himself on the campaign trail. (Vice President Harris unequivocally supports banning all fracking, as does Interior Secretary nominee Deb Haaland.) Blackmon notes the president could effectively phase out fossil-fuel drilling in federal territories by extending the leasing freeze over several years and burdening energy producers with tougher regulations.

If Congress cooperates, Biden will lay on some tax increases for good measure. Of course, he is too smart to call them that. Instead, he insists on ending “subsidies” or “handouts to ‘big oil.’” The tax code, however, bestows no industry-specific benefit upon fossil-fuel producers. These corporations can write off business expenses, e.g., the costs of drilling their wells. Preventing them from doing so would confer a tax disadvantage on oil and gas companies.

And on it goes. Having rejoined the Paris Climate Agreement and having reestablished the Interagency Working Group on the Social Cost of Greenhouse Gases, America will face steep obligations to reduce carbon emissions. Pipeline projects beyond Keystone XL are being reconsidered or halted. Biden has affixed a $2 billion price tag to his “green jobs” plan, which means higher taxes or greater debt or—who are we kidding?—both.

But what of this “green jobs” vision? Can’t employment in renewables simply replace jobs in fossil fuels? Alas, no: similar economic “stimuli” haven’t helped the American workforce in the past. “Green technology” spending through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (i.e., the 2009 Obama stimulus, or ARRA), for example, spent about $67,500 for every “green job” created. Obviously, those positions didn’t pay nearly that well. Most of the jobs generated by ARRA required more than a high school diploma yet perversely paid below the typical blue-collar salary.

Julian Morris and Vittorio Nastasi examined ARRA and other environmentally focused programs for the nonprofit Reason Foundation. They found that these programs always tend to devour more productive investment than they yield toward job creation.

Because fuel markets are global, the pain Biden is inflicting will spread far beyond America. Academic research attests to electricity’s causal link with economic growth, and therefore its counteractive effect on poverty. So closely does national electricity use correlate with industrial output that investment banks have tracked the former to gauge the latter. Yale economist William Nordhaus even demonstrated in 2010 that the amount of light detectable from space in developing nations closely parallels those countries’ aggregate personal incomes. If energy costs rise, the poor will suffer.

“We must talk about poverty,” Dorothy Day advised in 1963, “because people insulated by their own comfort lose sight of it.” She wasn’t referring to environmentalists. She should have been.

We Will Not Be Fooled Again (by the GOP)

“Meet the new boss, Same as the old boss” -The Who 1970s

An email from an organization called “Stand Up for America” breathlessly announces that the Republican Study Committee (RSC), led by Rep. Jim Banks, (R-IN), previewed its ‘Post-Trump agenda.’

The problem is that the RSC’s “conservative post-Trump agenda” sounds very much like the Republican Party’s pre-Trump agenda. It is a compendium of the same disingenuous promises, the same pandering, the same old GOP shell game they have been perpetrating on their voters for at least the last three decades. 

These “policies” include:

  • Balancing the budget! Seriously? This is something the GOP has been trying to do since time immemorial and never does. Even when they were in control of the White House, the Senate, and the House, the GOP did not balance the budget. Indeed, it often increased the debt. So this is baloney. 
  • Fighting for Working Americans! This has been a constant refrain since the 1990s. But the phrasing does not mention a thing about curbing illegal immigration. Illegal immigration is an objective of the Corporate GOP. It has no intention of ever limiting it. The Corporate GOP did everything they could to prevent Trump from stopping illegal immigration. So this too is just malarkey.
  • Healthcare Freedom! This is just a rehash of the same policies that were trotted out by the GOP in the early 1990s, in response to Hillarycare. They were never enacted by an impotent GOP House – that had every opportunity to enact healthcare legislation during the first two years of the Trump administration. Legislation that President Trump pleaded with them to pass. But they did not. So this is another phony promise.
  • Confronting China! This is a new one. Until now the Corporate GOP would pander to Americans destroyed by American corporations selling out to China by claiming that more capitalism will mean less communism in China and therefore more world peace. How has that worked out? This seems to be just more pandering.

Two items must be noted about this email and about Rep. Banks.

One is about ‘Stand Up for America.’ It was founded by Nikki Haley and will probably be used as a platform for her presidential run. A solicitation to contribute was included with the email. The address of this group is a UPS store in Washington DC. The degree of influence this organization has within the GOP or among the American people is unknown. But if Haley is cheerleading this Trojan Horse of a Post Trump agenda her future is not promising.

Regarding Rep. Banks. Inasmuch as he votes with the GOP nearly all the time it is unlikely that he will bring the necessary innovative and creative leadership to the caucus. His proposals augur ill for a GOP all too anxious to purge the party of Donald Trump who was one of the most innovative and creative presidents America has seen in generations. 

If this is the “Post Trump GOP” they have failed to learn from President Trump. All they want to do is return to the “Pre Trump GOP” that was a party that kowtowed to the Democratic Party. Who needs them?

As the title of The Who’s 1970s hit song says: we will not be fooled again.