Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Will the special counsel investigation produce anything relevant?

How would you like to have a high-profile job with no firm guidelines for what you have to do, and plenty of money to help you hire as many people as you want to help you do whatever it is you decide to do for as long as you want the job? 

If so, you qualify for a job as a Special Counsel at the United States Department of Justice.

But you'll probably have to wait until former FBI Director Robert Mueller finishes his current run as special counsel, and by the time that happens, you may be ready for retirement.

Ostensibly, this special counsel is investigating possible Russian influence in the 2016 election, something for which no evidence was found during months of research prior to the special counsel’s appointment.

In appointing the special counsel, Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein said: “My decision is not a finding that crimes have been committed or that any prosecution is warranted. I have made no such determination.” The job of the special counsel, then, is what?

Since no crime was identified needing investigation, Mueller has carte blanche to investigate whomever he wants for whatever he can find to assist him in whatever it is that he has decided to try to prove actually happened.

This is not an attack on Robert Mueller; it is about a process that is often well below the extraordinary standards of an honest, limited and responsive government of the people intended “to secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity,” as established by the U.S. Constitution.

Mueller, in fact, was acknowledged as an honorable man and competent attorney when he was appointed. Back in May, conservative columnist Hugh Hewitt wrote this: “In Mueller, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has made an excellent choice that will allow Republicans to again concentrate on turning the country around.”

However, Hewitt went on to say, “It’s true that I have opposed a special prosecutor in the past,” and one reason was that “if the allegations of the politicization of the IRS during Barack Obama’s presidency didn’t warrant a special prosecutor, then this one certainly isn’t necessary now.”

Good, ethical guy or not, having accepted the job, Mueller is now under the gun to produce something. Faced with humiliation after hiring 17 Democrat lawyers, spending thousands or millions of dollars on a months-long, open-ended investigation and coming away empty handed is a result no self-respecting special counsel wants on their record.

An article in The Washington Post notes, “Thus, the idea of a special prosecutor makes sense, in theory. In practice, some investigations headed by special prosecutors have rung up huge tabs while producing modest results.”

To wit: Back in 2003, a CIA employee named Valerie Plame was “outed,” meaning her name and association with the CIA became public knowledge. An Office of the Special Counsel investigation ensued, with Patrick Fitzgerald in charge. After the investigation, a George W. Bush administration official, Lewis “Scooter” Libby, was charged, tried and convicted of making false statements to the grand jury and federal investigators. And, a New York Times reporter, Judith Miller, spent twelve weeks in jail for protecting the identity of a source from the grand jury.

In summary: a crime was committed, an investigation began, a journalist went to jail for protecting a source, a person was convicted for lying about things unrelated to solving the crime, and no one was found guilty of the crime. Such is what can happen with special counsel investigations.

In the current incarnation, an effort is under way allegedly to find someone associated with President Donald Trump who perhaps did something naughty he/she shouldn’t have done with the Russians during the campaign. Thus far the apparent focus is on Paul Manafort, who managed Donald Trump’s campaign until August of 2016, and who lived in Trump Tower where Trump lived during the campaign.

Manafort was the subject of federal wiretaps before the campaign in 2014, and again in 2016, either during the campaign or perhaps after he had left it. It is fair to ask who else, if anyone, in Trump Tower was wiretapped during the campaign.

When Trump suggested his campaign had been wiretapped, Democrats, liberals and much of the media ridiculed him. Could they have been wrong?

More recently, Mueller and his investigation have come under some criticism, with some characterizing the exercise as a waste of time and a distraction, others calling it a partisan witch-hunt, and one person suggesting a serious crime is being committed.

A retired United States Navy Commander has accused Mueller and other Federal Bureau of Investigation employees of treason for supposedly trying to sabotage President Donald Trump.

Mueller’s team may find an actual election-related crime was committed. Or, more likely, the only wrongs it discovers are unrelated to the Russians or the election, but can serve as leverage to help the special counsel persuade someone to “flip” and provide incriminating information against someone in the Trump campaign.

There are at least 5,000 federal criminal laws, and between 10,000 and 300,000 regulations that can be enforced criminally. Odds are that someone from the Trump campaign will have violated one of them.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

230 year-old U.S. Constitution is under attack by the Left

Thirty-nine delegates represented the people of the 13 original states at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. When they signed the document on September 17, 1787, the U.S. Constitution was ratified and put into effect.

While the United States is young at just 230 years, the United States Constitution, our country’s supreme law, is by far the longest lasting constitution in human history. And it is responsible for our nation becoming the freest and most prosperous nation ever.

Those two paragraphs contain far more information about our Constitution than a frightening number of American citizens actually know about their founding document.

The Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania conducted a poll about the Constitution in 2014, and it revealed how shockingly little people know about even the most basic elements of our government and the Constitution that formed it.

Here are some examples from the poll:
* More than one person in three (37 percent) could not name any of the rights protected by the First Amendment.
* Freedom of speech was identified by 48 percent, but the right to peaceably assemble came in at just 10 percent, freedom of religion at 15 percent, freedom of the press at 14 percent, and the right to petition the government at 3 percent.
* Only one of four (26 percent) could name all three branches of the government. (In 2011, 38 percent could name all three branches.)
* One-third couldn't name any branch of government.
*Asked which party has the most members in the House of Representatives, 38 percent said they knew the Republicans were the majority, but 17 percent responded the Democrats were, and 44 percent reported that they did not know (up from 27 percent who said they did not know in 2011).
*Asked which party controls the Senate, 38 percent correctly said the Democrats, 20 percent said the Republicans, and 42 percent said they did not know (also up from 27 percent who said they did not know in 2011).

Annenberg’s director, Kathleen Hall Jamieson lamented, "Protecting the rights guaranteed by the Constitution presupposes that we know what they are. The fact that many don't is worrisome."

An Annenberg poll in 2017 would likely produce even worse results. The future of both our freedom and prosperity are in question in our country, largely because our schools and families have failed to teach our young people the fundamentals of America that are essential to creating informed citizens and preserving our republic. And as bad as the picture painted by the Annenberg study is, The Federalist online paints a picture that is much worse.

“U.S. civics education, if it exists at all, is being transformed into a political machine to push left-wing causes, undermine American government, and incite civil unrest,” writes The Federalist’s managing editor, Joy Pullman.

A 525-page report from the National Association of Scholars titled “Making Citizens: How American Universities Teach Civics,” reveals the “New Civics” that uses attractive, bipartisan-sounding words like “civics” and “service learning” to trick Americans into allowing Leftist political machinery to hijack public funds and young minds, Pullmann wrote.

“Poor civics instruction has increased over the past half-century,” she wrote, “likely contributing to the broad decline of American civic life.” She then listed some long-standing and strong social influences we are losing:
* Volunteering has dropped dramatically despite increases in unemployment and free time
* Far fewer Americans participate in social activities and organizations
* Those who join the military are increasingly drawn from a narrowing subset of Americans
* Many adults have scant knowledge of American government and history (but still can vote!)

Anyone over the age of 60 should recognize the high degree of failure of our education system and families to properly educate our youth about the wonders of the United States of America, so that they can actually perform as competent and loyal citizens.

Recent protests adequately show that the demonstrators do not understand the First Amendment. They often don’t have an informed idea of what they are demonstrating against, and many protests are based not on what actually happened at an event, but instead on a perception of it. And, they either don’t understand, or don’t care, that a constitutionally protected protest is neither violent nor destructive.

Karl Marx would be proud of the Left’s efforts and success. We see his words at work: “Take away a nation’s heritage and they are more easily persuaded.”

Quiet subversion, done both deliberately and through ignorance, is at work in many schools and the news media. Once regarded as living its motto “all the news that is fit to print,” The New York Times has abandoned fairness and objectivity, an infection shared by much of the national news media, which now seem to subscribe to the motto, “all the news that fits.”

Benjamin Franklin is quoted as having answered a question about whether the Founders had created a republic or a monarchy with this statement: A republic, if you can keep it.

A large number of the American people have decided that our republic should no longer be kept, and will happily sacrifice its historic and broad successes.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

The DACA and DREAMERS: The Good, the bad, and the ugly

The Democrat/liberal crisis of the moment has changed. Since President Donald Trump ordered the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) suspended last week, DACA has totally blown the Russian election collusion (that was fervently hoped for, but didn’t cause Hillary Clinton’s self-destructive campaign to fail) off their rumor sheet and whisper campaign.

And Leftists have retreated to their safe and familiar habits, and are again calling names. Trump is “cruel.” So many Democrats have used that word lately that it must have been directed from party leaders. It is suspected that in response to Trump’s action the Democrat Party issued a talking point: “Say it’s cruel! Say it’s mean! Say it’s heartless! And stick to the message!”

The Left’s beloved DACA program has many failings, beyond being unconstitutional. Former President Barack Obama hated it before he loved it and issued the Executive Order. Twenty-two times he told the world that such a thing was beyond the power of a mere President, and he couldn’t do it because he wasn’t the Emperor of the U.S. Then he did what he couldn’t do, calling it a temporary stopgap measure. "This is temporary. Congress needs to act," he said.

What Is DACA? According to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS): “On June 15, 2012, the Secretary of Homeland Security announced that certain people who came to the United States as children and meet several guidelines may request consideration of deferred action for a period of two years, subject to renewal. They are also eligible for work authorization. Deferred action is a use of prosecutorial discretion to defer removal action against an individual for a certain period of time. Deferred action does not provide lawful status.”

At first glance DACA may seem like a humanitarian action, designed to give illegal aliens whose parents brought them here as children a temporarily protected, but not lawful, status if they meet “several guidelines.”

What Trump is being called all sorts of names for doing, however, is really so much less than his Leftist critics are accusing him of. He is passing the ball for this immigration matter to where it actually belongs: the Congress. That is one thing Obama actually was right about.

All Trump did was to remove an improper order, and put the matter where it belongs. Sensible people won’t criticize Trump for that. And, Congress has six months to do the appropriate thing for these illegal alien residents. And at least until then, the DACA people are as safe today as they were before Trump’s action.

But the real problem is that, like so many things in the Obama administration, despite there being laws and regulations that are unambiguous, administrative agencies frequently ignored them, and did so without penalty. And, unsurprisingly, it turns out that the DACA implementation was rife with failure and fraud.

A story by Margaret Menge detailing much of these irregularities was published on LifeZette online last week. Quoting Matt O’Brien, an attorney who until last year was a manager in the investigative unit of USCIS, “as many as half of the approximately 800,000 people who now have work permits under DACA may have lied on their applications to get approved.”

Worse, O’Brien said, “these people were almost always approved anyway, because of the attitude of managers in the field and the chief counsel’s office.” He added, “The whole way the program is set up, it just facilitated fraud, and I’m not entirely confident that wasn’t intentional.”

With six months allotted for Congress to act, some believe that there are enough potential votes to create a path to citizenship for these DACA recipients, referred to as DREAMERS, for the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act. And, they can renew their two-year work permits if they were to expire before March 5, 2018.

But Jessica Vaughn, director of policy studies for the Center for Immigration Studies, says this would be a mistake. “USCIS never verified anything people put on their DACA applications,” she said, citing an example of how dangerous this might be. A DACA applicant named Emmanuel Jesus Rangel-Hernandez was granted DACA status, despite USCIS admitting it had not checked this gang member’s application. He went on to murder four people in Charlotte, NC. The government agency merely accepted his application as truthful and accurate, never checking any of it.

She said that under George W. Bush, applications were thoroughly checked. “It’s the type of due diligence that the private sector does routinely,” she said.

O’Brien confirmed the failure of the application process, saying, “I personally witnessed an alarming number of people who had gang affiliations applying for this program,” most of whom, he said, were approved.

Menge’s article concludes by noting that the “approval rate for DACA in the two most recent quarters of fiscal year 2017 was approximately 97 percent, with only 3 percent of applications denied.”

Contrary to the idea that DACA is a humanitarian effort to help children of illegal aliens brought here by their parents, it is just another avenue the Left uses to allow anyone into the country, with no regard for their potential to harm American citizens.

Monday, September 11, 2017

2,996 Tribute to 9-11 Victims

Editors Note: What follows originated in 2006, and is repeated in 2017.

2,996 is a tribute to the victims of 9/11. 

On September 11, 2006, 2,996 volunteer bloggers joined together for a tribute to the victims of 9/11. Each person payed tribute to a single victim.We honor them by remembering their lives, and not by remembering their murderers.

So reads the introductory material on the 2996 Web page. I was assigned James Arthur Greenleaf, Jr. I was the 1357th blogger to sign up for the 2,996 Tribute project.

The name of each 9-11 victim was been assigned to a blogger.

This project was a very moving one for me. In searching for information on Jim Greenleaf’s life, I was deeply touched by who this young man was. 

James Arthur Greenleaf, Jr., age 32, native of Waterford, Conn. Mr. Greenleaf was a foreign exchange trader at Carr Futures and died at the World Trade Center. He was a resident of New York, N.Y. Mr. Greenleaf was a 1991 graduate of Connecticut College, he was the son of Mr. And Mrs. James Greenleaf, Sr., and the former husband of Susan Cascio, a 1992 graduate of Connecticut College.

The following was posted by Mr. Greenleaf’s mother on 

April 6, 2002 

My Dearest Jim, 

Almost 7 months have passed and not a day goes by that I don't think about you. Some days I pretend that I just haven't seen you in long time and that you will be visiting soon. I know that it will be a long time till we see each other again, but it does help on the bad days.

Just this week Dad and I received 2 letters from old friends of yours recalling some great times that they spent with you and they wanted us to know what an impact you had on their lives. One letter we received said that she had children of her own and just hoped that some day they might grow up to be the kind of person that she remembers you as being. What a 
wonderful tribute to the fine man that you were. You touched so many people and I'm sure that you had no idea of how others thought of you. 

I know that I kissed you and told you how much I loved you every time I had the opportunity to, but I wanted to say it to you today again.

I love you so much,


Peter, Bryn and I talk about you all the time and remember all the wonderful times we spent together. 
(Patricia Greenleaf, Waterford, CT) 

Quilt graphic thanks to Kim at United in Memory

The James A. Greenleaf, Jr. Memorial Scholarship Fund has been established to honor and remember a dear family member and friend who lost his life as a result of the catastrophe which occurred in New York City in 2001. The fund will be used to provide financial assistance to students attending St. Bernard High School.

Dave McBride also hopes to help others by honoring the memory of his long-time friend with the 5th Annual 5K River Run For The Fund. The race, which takes place this Saturday, May 13th at Ocean Beach Park in New London, is part of the Greenleaf Memorial Foundation, which also incorporates an annual Golf Tournament and a Memorial Dinner. McBride and James Greenleaf were best friends since high school, graduating from St. Bernard in 1987.

Sadly, Greenleaf lost his life because of the terrorist acts that occurred as he was working in New York City on the morning of September 11th, 2001. In a tribute to Greenleaf, his family and friends created the James A. Greenleaf, Jr. Memorial Scholarship Fund, Inc., with proceeds used to award full book scholarships for 8th grade students to attend St. Bernard High School. The organization received approximately 30-40 scholarship applications annually, which require a formal essay and teacher recommendations that are reviewed by the Foundation’s Board of Directors. The fund also hopes to increase its scholarship offerings either to St Bernard students or other local students who will be attending college.

 Leave a message in honor of James Arthur Greenleaf Jr.

From: Lisa LaGalia Date: 11/19/2004 Message: Hi babe it me. Still not better without you. Can't you take me there where you are. We should be together
From: Maureen Griffin Balsbaugh Date: 08/29/2005 Message: At every one of your events. We know you are there in spirit....laughing.

This comment was left just a few days ago:

Thank you for posting information on Jim Greenleaf. We went to high school together. During the three years, we played football and ran track together. We ate many lunches together. 

With my return to the US in 2007, I have been able to attend the annual golf outing twice. The outpouring of help given by friends of Jimmy is very inspiring. His scholarship is helping many children attend St. Bernard H.S.

Thank you for the great site.

PS As an aside, we lost another high school friend that day, Eric Evans. He was in one of the towers when they fell. Both gone but not forgotten.

Jim Greenleaf, rest in peace.

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Our country’s traditions and core values are on the decline

In recent years many of our cultural values have been eroding, and in some cases are being consciously abandoned.

Standing and holding your hand over your heart during the performance of the National Anthem is a part of many activities. It is a simple but sincere way of honoring our nation and paying tribute to the opportunities it provides and its protection of personal freedom that is unparalleled in the world. Rather than honor the country that has been so good to them, some now balk at this simple act, and instead remain sitting, or “take a knee” in protest.

In fact, protest is becoming the new national pastime. Most anything that upsets somebody may well become a protest movement. A large segment of the population seemingly feels led to either start a protest, or take part in them. And some things that now upset folks are things that once were hardly noticed.

For example, some women are offended when a male in a standing position talks to a female who is sitting down. “Mansplaining,” it is called, and is considered offensive because the man is deemed to consider himself superior to the woman.

And then when a male sits and spreads his legs wide apart, that, too, is offensive to some females. They term this “manspreading,” because the male is thought to hold himself in such high regard that he can take up more space than he is due.

We also see the long-established idea of working for a living and supporting yourself and your family being abandoned in favor of welfare, food stamps and Medicaid replacing earned income. Government encourages this by making it too easy to get by without working. The ethic of getting a basic education and either going to work or continuing your education to prepare for a career no longer seems important to many people.

Sometimes economic conditions and a shortage of available jobs force people onto government support. Government imposes policies that instead of encouraging job creation often stifle it through overly strict, crippling regulations and daunting taxation, and then government spends tax revenue to support the people its policies have put on the unemployment line.

Two-parent families have given way to single-parent families, and the harm to children in that situation is often substantial. These families most often lack a father figure, whose presence can and should be a positive influence on children. And, it is becoming common for single mothers to have more children, not because they want more children so much as because they get more money from the government by doing so.

Educating children about our country’s history and values no longer takes place in many homes, and that responsibility gets transferred to schools. But then many schools no longer adequately fill that role, either. Consequently, lots of our younger citizens have no idea why America is a great place to have been born and to live, and without that understanding, proper attitudes of citizenship do not form.

Is it any wonder, then, that so many college kids cannot cope with normal events in life, and react with fear when they encounter unfamiliar or different ideas? With safe spaces and trigger warnings, even if schools still present subject matter without an ideological bias, many campuses shield students from lessons that teach about life and being an adult in the 21st century. College life should expose young people to new and different ideas and teach them to seek truth, but too often, it does not.

Further complicating the educational experience is the widely promoted idea that everyone needs a college education, and there are ample scholarships, grants and loans available to help pay for it. Colleges are embroiled in an arms race to attract students and the money they bring with them through lavish dormitories and other facilities.

Of course, not everyone needs a college education, and not everyone can complete the requirements for a diploma. And many students pursue degrees in fields that do not allow them to support themselves. Meanwhile, thousands of good paying jobs go unfilled that less expensive vocational training would have prepared people to perform.

As the college experience continues to devolve on many campuses, a group of professors from Princeton, Harvard and Yale have introduced a program that runs counter to the developing new college environment. They encourage students to avoid crippling campus groupthink and to instead think for themselves.

Sixteen professors from the three schools signed a letter warning the Class of 2021 at their school about the danger of “falling into the vice of conformism” on campus.

Princeton Professor Robert P. George told Fox News host Tucker Carlson, “We’re telling our students not to fall into that groupthink,” he said. “You should be pursuing the truth. That’s what being in college is all about. It’s learning to pursue the truth and it’s learning to become a life-long truth seeker.”

To the extent this productive attitude spreads and influences more young people, the positive college environment of old will be restored, and will produce more well-grounded young people who are prepared for adulthood. That will help a lot.