Saturday, May 26, 2018

Cartoon of the Day

The Federal Judiciary's Constitutional Crisis

By Rich Kozlovich

There is not a single social conservative group left in Washington. But one need not be a social conservative to understand the settled science of X and Y chromosomes. Not even the military is safe from the Rainbow Jihad. 
Last year, in one of the many stupefying power grabs of the judiciary, several district judges issued a royal edict demanding that Trump admit into the military the most suicidal demographic of men who self-identify as women or vice versa. A policy that never existed since our founding until the final year of Obama’s presidency and was certainly never authorized by statute was, much like executive amnesty, codified into our Constitution by rogue judges.
He goes on to note:
  • America has become an abortion and transgender wasteland, including in our military, we are now the world’s magnet for social licentiousness. Call it chain migration of cultural Marxism.
  • A federal district judge in Virginia ruled that Title IX and the Fourteenth Amendment create a right for a girl to use the boys’ bathroom and that a school district must accommodate it.
  • Judges have been applying the Constitution to mix a “right to immigrate” with a “right to self-identify.”
  • A radical leftist judge in New York issued an opinion saying that Trump can’t block individual Twitter accounts from following his account.
  • A slew of court rulings in recent months bestowed upon abortion migrants the right to come here and demand access to an abortion.
  • The second most important court in the land, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, ruled that all teenage girls (and some lie about their age) coming here for an abortion must be given direct access to an abortion clinic. Another judge went a step further and made it clear that the government must fully notify teenagers of their “right” to an abortion.
  • An immigration judge granted asylum to someone fleeing Mexico asserting they fear because of their status as transgender. Naturally, people are now coming here for “asylum.” 
The fact is the only federal court authorized by the Constitution is the Supreme Court. All others are creations of the Congress, and the Constitution gives Congress the authority to determine the jurisdiction of all federal courts.  They can, and have in the past, forbidden judication of a case.  The court can hear the case if they like, but they can be ordered not to rule on it. 

We're not just now all of a sudden facing a Constitutional crisis between the Legislative, Executive and Judicial branches of the government.  It's been in the making since "Marbury v. Madison (1803) established the principle of judicial review—the power of the federal courts to declare legislative and executive acts unconstitutional."

Who gave the federal judiciary the idea it was the courts that decide what the Constitution means?  In spite of all the clabber used to justify that concept, including going back to precedents from England - they pretty much gave it to themselves.  Worse yet, Alexander Hamilton supported such an idea, which should give everyone serious qualms about how valid that is since Hamilton was a statist who liked the idea of an overpowering central government.  He would have been the perfect little statist today, so now you can understand why a play about him became popular among the left.

First, has the Supreme Court stopped the Congress and the President from doing things that are clearly unconstitutional for the good of the nation?  Yes.  Should there be judicial review of the other branches?  I think so, because both the Executive and Legislative branches have completely violated Constitutional rights to impose statism in one form or the other.   But having done something right doesn't give the court a pass of the rest of life, especially since the federal judiciary is filled with political hacks, including some on the Supreme Court, and they change regularly.  Unfortunately, they don't change often enough since these are lifetime appointments. 

Demonstrating just how dangerous the federal judiciary has become it's clear the judiciary has forgotten this is supposed to be a government of laws, not a government of men.  No matter how convoluted the court’s reasoning can be - and convoluted reasoning has been the pattern in many of their rulings, leading to ever more convolution - the court has "no roving license to disregard the clear language of the laws” passed by Congress or in the Constitution with these dangerous rationalizations that when legislators wrote their laws they didn't really mean what they said.  What legislators really intended was for a much broader understanding, even if they didn't say so and even if there's nothing in the law that gives that impression.  In other words – their own personal broader understanding should replace the lack of vision of legislators. 

No matter what twisted rationalizations are presented the courts have no authority to rewrite any law "under the under the pretense of interpreting it."

I'm not in favor of abandoning judicial review, I'm in favor of ameliorating it. 

If the Constitution is going to really be the document that governs government and is the real and legitimate law of the land, it's in serious need of reinforcements. It’s time for a 28th Amendment that would impose strict term and age limits on the federal judiciary.

My fix is twofold.  Congress deliberately overturns these rulings by passing a law - which falls under their Constitutional authority - including ordering that such a law cannot be reviewed by the courts, which it has done in the past, (but given the craven nature of members of Congress that seems unlikely) and/or pass a 28th Amendment creating term limits for the federal judiciary.

There are three levels of the federal judiciary- the District level, the Appeals level and the Supreme Court. Each level should have a ten-year limit with a review after five years requiring a majority approval by the Senate. At each level each nominee would have to go through the same process, even if nominated to a higher court before they finish their term in a lower court. If their term runs out and they’re not nominated to a higher court they may be nominated at some point in the future. No jurist can return to a lower court if their term runs its course at a higher level, and no jurist can ever be appointed to a court if their nomination to any court has ever been rejected by the Senate. No jurist may serve after the age of seventy.
Now, if we really want to fix the rest of the nation's problems repeal the Sixteenth and Seventeenth amendments and eliminate the FED.  After that every thing else will fall into place. 


Nazism and Communism Are Two Sides of the Collectivist Coin

May 25, 2018 by Dan Mitchell @ International Liberty
In 2016, I toured the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum in Cambodia, which memorializes the victims of communist butchery in that nation.

Earlier today, I was lucky enough to get a tour through the House of Terror, a museum in Budapest that commemorates the horrors that Hungary endured during both Nazi occupation and Soviet occupation

Some of the exhibits are uplifting, such as the photo from the 1956 uprising that shows a toppled statue of Stalin.

Other parts are downright depressing.

Or, in the case of these torture instruments, certain exhibits are utterly horrifying (you can use your imagination to figure out what the communists did with the glass tubes).
If you go to Hungary, the House of Terror should be on your list of things to do.

I was particularly gratified to learn that it’s the most-visited museum in Budapest. Not simply because it’s filled with interesting material, but because it helps people understand that all forms of statism are wrong.

The House of Terror has exhibits on the brutality of Nazi rule and the brutality of Marxist rule.
Which is a good excuse for me to share excerpts from a couple of columns on the common thread between fascism and socialism.

In a column last November for the Foundation for Economic Education, Brittany Hunter shared some of Friedrich Hayek’s analysis of the philosophical link between national socialism and international socialism.
F.A. Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom, …in chapter twelve, …Hayek highlights the very important connection between the socialist and Nazi intellectuals by profiling a handful of prominent German Marxist supporters… Hayek points out that contrary to what many think, Nazism did not simply appear out of thin air and infect the minds of docile German people. There were academic roots that, while grown in the soil of socialist thought, grew into a philosophy that praised German superiority, ultimate war, and the degradation of the individual. …Beginning his list of influential thinkers prior to WWII, Hayek begins with the dedicated Marxist who later embraced nationalism and dictatorship, Werner Sombart (1863-1941). …He seethed with criticism for the English people, who, in his mind, had lost their warlike instincts. …His other main criticism of English culture was the emphasis placed on the individual. For Sombart, individual happiness was hampering societies from being truly great. …Professor Johann Plenge (1874-1963) was another leading intellectual authority on Marxist thought during this time. He also saw war with England as a necessary struggle between two opposite principles: emphasis on the individual and organization and socialism. …Interestingly enough, many…socialist philosophers eventually abandoned Marxism in favor of National Socialism… while Prussian militarism was seen to be the enemy of socialism, Spengler helped bridge that gap. Both schools of thought require an abandonment of the individual identity. …This hatred and fear of the individual is the worldview espoused by these thinkers and it continues on with those who claim to be socialists today. Unless the concept of individualism is completely eradicated, the glorified state cannot come into existence.
Earlier this year, Byron Chiado echoed this analysis of Hayek’s Road to Serfdom in another FEE column, pointing out that all forms of socialism reject classical liberalism.
The bulk of the book makes the argument that central planning and interventionism inevitably lead to authoritarianism… Towards the end of the book, he deals with the undeniable authoritarians of his time and casts the national-socialist movement as one built on disgust with liberalism. …Sombart, like many Germans in the early 20th century, was compelled by a case for war between the British and Germany on the grounds that the British…pursuit of individual happiness, which he saw as a disease contracted from a society built on commercialism. Laissez-faire was an unnatural anarchic order giving rise to parasites and dishonest merchants… another Marxist, Sociologist Johann Plenge…moved into the shamelessly totalitarian realm that attracted so many Marxist leaders… Hayek gives…a warning to England; that the “conservative socialism” en vogue at the time was a German export, which for reasons he details throughout the book, will inevitably become totalitarian. …This was not a sensationalist attempt to prove his point. Hayek was rather calmly pointing out an example of the type of government one could expect in a society that has discarded liberalism for planning.
Amen. Big government is coercive government, regardless of what label is applied.

Which is why libertarianism (what Hayek would have called liberalism, meaning classical liberalism) is the proper philosophy of government. Assuming, of course, one values individual rights and civil society.

P.S. I also visited the Solidarity Museum in Poland a few years ago. Maybe I could put together a guide-book on the horrors of totalitarianism.


Stefan Halper is only the tip of the iceberg in Obama spy scandal

Jordan Schachtel · May 21, 2018

We finally have definitive evidence that the Obama administration engaged in clandestine operations against members of the Trump campaign. But the revelation that Stefan Halper was planted by the Obama intelligence community to gather information on the Trump team is only the tip of the iceberg in exposing the vast, unprecedented espionage operation.

Over the weekend, suspicions were confirmed that Stefan Halper — who has decades-long ties to the CIA and its British counterpart, MI6 — was a secret informant who gathered information on Trump campaign advisers Carter Page and George Papadopoulos.

Halper reportedly began to communicate with Page in mid-July 2016, which counters the timeline offered by former FBI Director James Comey, who claimed that the FBI’s Trump-Russia investigation began at the end of that month. He and Page continued to communicate well into President Trump’s tenure, which raises the possibility that the investigation did not conclude with the president’s election. Halper is not a lone wolf ............The Obama administration used national security letters (a secret subpoena that allows government officials to work around the FISA process, as they do not require approval from a judge) on at least four Trump campaign figures..............As a confidential informant, Stefan Halper was not the mastermind of the operation, but a foot soldier in a sophisticated, unprecedented espionage campaign against a political rival............To Read More.....

Democrats Discover Culture is Downstream of Economics

Posted by Daniel Greenfield 2 Comments Thursday, May 24, 2018 @ Sultan Knish Blog
"It is time to stop the pursuit of personal destruction and the prying into private lives and get on with our national life," President Bill Clinton once declared.

But switch on CNN or flip through the Washington Post and you will find the non-stop politics of personal destruction accompanied by Fortune 500 ads. Clinton supporters in the media aren’t just obsessed with Stormy Daniels or Russia conspiracy theories, but with destroying the lives of Trump supporters, from cabinet members to a random New York lawyer who once donated $500 to Trump.

Bill Clinton may have popularized the politics of personal destruction, but practicing its politics cost Hillary Clinton the ’16 election. Hillary’s message was that her opponent was a deplorable bigot who would move the White House to Moscow. Millions of Americans left behind by the crony socialism of the Obama economy and looking to change the change were not impressed with her hateful message.

And now the Democrats are making the same mistake all over again.

While the Republicans talked about the economy, the Democrats turned over their messaging to CNN, the Washington Post and the rest of the #resistance. While the media tethered its news cycle to Stormy Daniels and her lawyer, the economy boomed and tax cuts delivered. The Democrats went into spring with a solid advantage on the midterm ballot. Then the GOP broke even and has now taken the lead.

CNN thinks that the Stormy Daniels sleazefest matters, but even a majority of Democrats disagree.

The politics of personal destruction are deeply compelling to people who already believe that their opponents are utterly deplorable and must be destroyed. These days that’s the entire media and most of the beautiful people in the blue states who have the cultural influence and the real power. That’s why the media is a non-stop roll of interviews with Stormy’s lawyer, flowcharts of Russian conspiracy theories and breaking news reports claiming that EPA administrator Scott Pruitt eats stale bagels.

The #resistance demographic of yuppie urban elites made old media properties like the Washington Post and the New York Times profitable. CNN temporarily experienced a boom. #Resistance yuppies and hipsters weren’t very electorally significant as voters (except when they donated to obscure candidates in red state special elections), but they had lots of money to spare. That’s why media advertisers were willing to pay big bucks to reach them. And why the media kept feeding them anti-Trump clickbait.

In ’16, the media made the unwise decision to ignore everything except the big blue urban and suburban bubble. In ’18, it’s back to pandering to its bubble and ignoring the rest of the country.

Because the rest of the country doesn’t share its obsession with destroying President Trump.

The Democrats were hollowed out by the left. The big tent was deflated. Pro-gun, pro-natsec and pro-life politicians were shoved toward the exits. But the hollowing out of the left also meant that the party came to orbit around the tastes, obsessions and attitudes of a tiny percentage of the country.

It’s why the Democrats can’t stop shouting about impeachment and Russian conspiracies.

Efforts by Rep. Nancy Pelosi and other top Dems to shift messaging always runs into a ditch because Rep. Maxine Waters, Rep. Ted Lieu and other #resistance pols know that support from the most engaged portion of the base will pour in for any politicians who talks impeachment. If you threaten impeachment, CNN will give you 5 minutes. If you want to talk about the economy, you get 5 seconds.

The politics of personal destruction can entertain and influence most Americans, but it doesn’t drive them. Trump’s insults succeeded as entertainment because they were tactical stratagems that didn’t define a political worldview. However the left doesn’t just toss around insults. It believes that its abuse is reflective of a higher truth about the relative humanity of Democrats and Republicans.

And that’s why their politics of personal destruction keeps flopping against President Trump.

The difference between humor and malice lies in how seriously it’s meant. Stewart, Colbert and Oliver tried to get under the fence by being self-deprecating. But it’s not the deprecation of the self that matters. It’s the deprecation of the worldview of the joke. Liberating humor treats the entire world as a joke. Totalitarian humor is a contemptuous lecture, a bray of consensus, disguised as a gag.

To most Americans, personal attacks are a joke. But the left is entirely serious about them.

The cult of the left truly believes in its own moral authority. It expects Americans to vote based on its personal attacks. But most Americans are independent. They’re driven by self-interest, not ideology.

Both Middle America and the Blues are voting their economic interests. Trump is delivering more manufacturing jobs. The Dems promise more employment for sociology majors. But the Blues insist on cloaking their economic opportunism in moral preening. The politics of personal destruction and virtue signaling allows them to avoid any discussion about their own financial interests in politics.

Instead political campaigns are reduced to a struggle between ‘good’ and ‘evil’. And the triumph of ‘good’ will, incidentally, unleash a torrent of grant money for bad art, green energy and ethnic studies.

Follow the money.

Hillary Clinton ran on a negative message because it diverted attention from her corruption and lack of ideas. Her party is stupidly repeating the same trick in ’18 for the same sad reasons.

The Democrats are corrupt and have no new ideas. Their media megaphone allows them to shout at the rest of the country even as they have lost the ability to actually speak to ordinary Americans.

Doubling down on hating Trump has won a few special elections and created a constitutional crisis, but the midterm trend is moving toward Republicans because bigger tax refunds beat Saturday Night Live skits.

Politics may be downstream of culture, but they’re both downstream of economics.

There’s a reason that ‘Follow the Money’ is the timeless truth of politics. Individuals may vote contrary to their apparent economic interests, but groups rarely do. (Not never, there are always aberrations.) When it comes to politics, the ‘wisdom of crowds’ has a distinct dollars and cents bottom line.

The left bet everything on culture trumping economics in the midterm elections.

It assumed that it could override the economic self-interest of millions of Americans with conspiracy theories, Stormy Daniels and a thousand personal attacks. It failed in ’16. And it’s about to fail in ’18.

The left bet everything on hating Trump. And that’s about to cost it a second election.

(Personal note. I'm currently dealing with a family medical emergency, most of my time is eaten up by it and I may be unable to answer non-urgent emails for the duration. Thank you for understanding.)

Peter Zeihan on Geopolitics

This Is How the World Ends, Part III

by Peter Zeihan, Melissa Taylor, and Michael N. Nayebi-Oskoui

See Part I and Part II.

Event 3 - The Chinese discover they have no clothes (May 18)

The threat of American secondary sanctions threatens the stability of more than just Iran and Europe, it also is a mortal threat to the world’s largest oil importer: China. And it isn’t like the Chinese were not already under some fairly stupendous pressure.

Two weeks ago U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer led an all-star team to Beijing to list out the Trump administration’s trade demands. Lighthizer is an old hand when it comes to brutal trade talks. He is the trade lawyer who in essence wrote the legal backbone of what is now the World Trade Organization, and during the Reagan administration he (repeatedly) brought the Japanese to heel on a raft of trade and financial issues that the Japanese blame for many of their subsequent economic troubles.

Lighthizer brought a small army of officials with him: Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, White House Economic Adviser Larry Kudlow, and America’s ambassador to China Terry Branstad. Of them, the only face that the Chinese consider even remotely friendly was Branstad – Xi’s first trip to the United States back in 1985 was to Iowa, and he and Branstad have a warm personal relationship. It was a classic bad-cop bad-cop bad-cop bad-cop and-this-guy-will-help-you-to-the-hospital-afterword set up.

Lighthizer and Co didn’t negotiate. They simply delivered some ultimatums.
  • China will unilaterally increase its imports of U.S. goods by at least $100 billion.
  • China will immediately cease protections and subsidies for any sectors related to its Made in China 2025 central economic plan, as well as eliminate tariff and non-tariff barriers on those sectors.
  • China will accept that it is a non-market economy under WTO rules (which would allow the United States to apply protective tariffs against Chinese exports).
  • China will accept American restrictions on Chinese investment-led acquisitions in the United States.
  • China will cease all technological/cyber theft as well as cease any and all policies which aim to force American firms to share technologies with China.
  • China will accept American quarterly reviews on all trade policies, and pre-commit to cooperation with American findings.
  • China will submit rosters of goods shipped to third countries so that China may not do end-runs around American import restrictions.
  • China will abandon all WTO cases it has prosecuted against the United States as regards any of the above issues and preemptively agree to launch no new ones.
The items are notable for their unprecedented nature in the post-WWII order, their depth, how they cut to the core of the Chinese Communists government's legitimacy, how Beijing hopes to develop the Chinese economic and political space, how China hopes to project economic power internationally, and above of all, by their deadline – July 1. In "normal" relations such demands would all be non-starters and rejected out of hand. Instead, the Chinese sent their own delegation to the United States for talks a few days ago to see just how much wiggle room there might be with Lighthizer and Co. On May 18 the Chinese discovered that the Americans were actually serious.

As in Europe, local media in China is all aghast with how unreasonable the Americans are being. As in Europe, the real decisionmakers are being far more circumspect. President Xi has been deathly quiet. He and the politburo may have nationalist aspirations, but they fully realize the reality of global power ratios.
  • The Americans are China’s single-biggest end-market and the Americans import more than triple from the Chinese than the other way around. In any tariff v tariff conflict the Chinese just don’t have much ammunition.
  • The Chinese are the world's largest exporters. Nearly all that trade is dependent upon the US dollar-denominated and SWIFT-managed trading system. Should China befall American financial sanctions the China story would crash pretty quickly.
  • The U.S. Navy has ten times the power of everyone else’s navies combined. Since World War II the Americans have used that imbalance to create a unified global system. Should that commitment fail – and it is – anyone dependent upon global trade is more or less screwed. Like, say, China. Making matters worse, nearly all Chinese trade with the rest of Asia is water-borne and therefore vulnerable.
European bureaucrats don't get that. American media doesn't get that. But Merkel does. So does Xi. He has to. Apparently, the U.S. Treasury Secretary has already threatened the Chinese with a SWIFT cutoff.

The biggest outcome of the Lighthizer talks to date? On May 20 the Chinese and Americans indicated they'd stop publicly threatening each other with tariffs. My read is that now that the Chinese realize the Trump administration is serious, there's no point to beating the trade war drum because that's a field of combat the Chinese cannot hope to win on. Best to try other methods of persuasion.

(On a side note I’m quite amused that the media is making much hay about how competing agendas in the Trump administration’s senior staff are weakening the team’s negotiating strategy, as if that hasn’t been the norm for American administrations since time began. The person most in tune with Trump’s vision is Lighthizer. You can safely ignore the rest when it comes to comprehending the United States’ bottom line.)

If the Chinese are not going to have their entire economic and political system shattered by American (in)action, they have to bring something big to the table. That something would have to be on the scale of the economic demands the Lighthizer team made. I have no doubt that the talk back in Beijing today is to come up with strategic topics than can be exchanged for continuing American largess. North Korea will certainly make the list. Cooperation with the Americans against Iran – or maybe even Russia – is undoubtedly under consideration.

But time is running short, because the American shifts against Iran and China are only part of a broader pattern.




Copyright © 2018 Zeihan on Geopolitics, All rights reserved.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Cartoon of the Day

Caruba's Corner: Too Many Lies, Too Much of the Time

By Alan CarubaThursday, February 19, 2015 @ Warning Signs


“He who permits himself to tell a lie once, finds it much easier to do it a second and third time, till at length it becomes habitual; he tells lies without attending to it, and truths without the world's believing him. This falsehood of the tongue leads to that of the heart, and in time depraves all its good dispositions.”
-- THOMAS JEFFERSON, letter to Peter Carr, Aug. 19, I am beginning to wonder if Americans have grown so accustomed to the lies told by the President, his administration, and others said to be highly regarded, that we are losing a sense of outrage?

To the degree that Brian Williams’ serial lies have evoked a national discussion, it’s good to know that most people think he has lost credibility to the point of not being a news anchor, but one still has to wonder what NBC will do at the end of the six month suspension it has imposed on him. I am cynical enough to think he may be offered a job at MSNBC.

It is far more significant that, regarding the leading candidate to be the Democratic Party’s choice to run for President in 2016, we know she engaged in similar lies of having been “under fire.”

It’s one thing to expect politicians to lie, but the nation’s future is at stake when we still do not know the truth of Hillary Clinton’s full role in the Benghazi attack that left a U.S. ambassador and three others dead. She was the Secretary of State at the time and we watched her stand at his side as the President attributed the attack to a video no one had ever seen. The fact that the attack occurred on the anniversary of 9/11 was conveniently ignored.

The refusal to identify the Islamic State (ISIS) as an enemy representative of the global jihad is not just politics. It is a lie on the order of the President’s assertion that “The Islamic State is not Islamic.” As we are repeatedly reminded, if you cannot or will not identify an enemy, you are leaving yourself and, in this case, the nation open to attack.

Indeed, many elements of the Obama administration have engaged in lying on a level that goes beyond “politics.” It is a deliberate attack on science itself when the EPA, NOAA and NASA actively engage in distorting data to say that the Earth is warming when it has been in a well-established cooling cycle for 19 years at this point.

How are we expected to maintain any confidence in an administration that lies about employment statistics and other critical data we need to know regarding the economy?

The lie about “income inequality” is the core rational for Communism. There is no such thing as equality when it comes to income because some people enjoy higher pay for higher skills, higher productivity, and higher responsibility. We don’t pay “sanitation engineers” the same as we pay real engineers. And you don’t create new jobs by raising the minimum wage when it will reduce existing and potential new jobs.

Most dramatically, it was a series of lies told by the President that led to the passage of ObamaCare. Its two thousand-plus pages were not read by the exclusively Democratic members of Congress who passed it and, today, we learn that it is a major contributor to the nation’s deficit which is the result of the government spending more than it takes in. For the past six years Obama’s policies have added trillions to our national debt, now $18 trillion and growing. It is going to be a burden on generations to come.

There is no evidence of the tax reforms that Congress knows are needed, nor reforms to the entitlement programs that are just years from becoming insolvent.

Whether it is domestic or foreign affairs, Americans have been at a loss to expect the national press to address the lies because they would have to abandon the protection they have afforded the President for the past six years. Only one news service, Fox News, is credited with providing the truth. Fortunately the Internet has provided access to many other outlets where the truth can be found. And, yes, many that maintain the lies.

It should come as no surprise that the Obama administration wants to regulate the Internet with a program that call “Net neutrality”, but there is nothing neutral about it. The freedom the Internet enjoys is the best example of the value Americans put on an uncensored source of information and communication. The Obama administration wants to control the Internet in the same way that despots around the world want to do.  

There is always a far higher price to pay for believing lies than knowing the truth.
We expect our enemies to lie. We should not expect our government to do so in such a routine and obscene fashion.

© Alan Caruba, 2015

Editor's Note: My friend Alan Caruba passed on June 15, 2015. Alan's work is insightful, logical, factual, and has a timeless about it. Alan had given me blanket permission to publish his work when he was alive. I had intended to archive many of his articles, but like most of us, I got caught up in life. Well, that effort is long overdue, so every week I intend to publish one or more of of his old articles from Warning Signs starting from the last one published as a tribute to my friend, Alan Caruba. Please enjoy Caruba's Corner!

EPA’s Pruitt is far cleaner than critics claim

His security, DC bedroom and policies are legitimate and defensible, under any fair standard

Deroy Murdock

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has been hounded lately by allegations of rich spending and poor judgment. While he could have detonated himself during recent congressional-oversight hearings, the former Oklahoma prosecutor seems to have survived those tests. Nonetheless, EPA’s inspector general, the Government Accountability Office, and various congressional panels continue to probe Pruitt’s official conduct. While Pruitt has plenty for which to answer, on at least three key counts, he seems to be cleaner than his critics claim.

Pruitt’s foes have attacked him for allocating too much on bodyguards. Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) slammed Pruitt for “taking 30 EPA enforcement officers away from investigating polluters to serve as his round-the-clock personal security detail.” The Associate Press counts 20, not 30, in Pruitt’s full-time protective detail. Its cost, AP reports, “approached $3 million when pay is added in travel expenses.” 

But an August 16 EPA report suggests that Pruitt’s personal-defense outlays are fueled by genuine safety concerns rather than self-aggrandizement. This document cites 14 threats against Pruitt and his family in Fiscal Year 2017. Among them:

* Pruitt’s daughter has been menaced via Facebook. e.g., “I hope your father dies soon, suffering as your mother watches in horror for hours on end.”

* An e-mail sent to the Washington, D.C. office of Senator James Lankford (R - Oklahoma) threatened to assassinate Pruitt, President Trump, and Vice President Pence.

* One message to EPA said, “I hope your head administrator (Scott Pruitt), dies a very painful and horrible death through poisoning. Please explain the scientific method to this freaking neanderthal [sic].”

* Another spooky character stated via Twitter, “Pruitt, I am gonna find you and put a bullet between your eyes. Don’t even think I’m joking. I’m planning this.”

* A postcard sent to Pruitt read, “Get out while you still can, Scott, you are evil incarnate you ignorant fuck.”

* “Dear Mr. Pruitt,” another postcard began. “CLIMATE CHANGE IS REAL!! We are watching you. For the sake of our planet, our children & our grandchildren, will you be a reasonable man? I repeat, we are watching you! Myrna, Michele, Chris, Signe, Lucy, Olivia and Isabel.”

* A trespasser entered EPA headquarters on March 6, CBS News reported. He claimed to be a student attending a “Microsoft event,” said EPA Assistant Inspector General Patrick Sullivan. “The person asked about Scott Pruitt and wanted to know where Pruitt’s office was and if Pruitt ever walked in the hallway outside the room.” Although the intruder was escorted off the premises, he later phoned an employee’s office number and left voicemails in which he said, as Sullivan explained, “he can gain entry into EPA space anytime he wants.”

* Not content simply to write, one critic showed up in person. An EPA sentry stopped him. “During the confrontation, the subject was able to acquire the security officer’s duty weapon and discharge a round into a nearby chair.” The guard disarmed the visitor, who later was indicted for assaulting a federal officer/employee.

These and other concrete provocations justify Pruitt’s focus on security. The Left’s hatred of President Donald J. Trump and his supporters, including Pruitt, is incandescent. One cannot fault Pruitt’s caution, especially after James T. Hodgkinson, a Bernie Sanders campaign volunteer, shot and nearly killed Rep. Steve Scalise (R - Louisiana) and four others at the GOP congressional baseball team’s practice last June in Alexandria, Virginia.

Just a few days ago, Miami-Dade Police arrested Jonathan Oddi. Officers say they nabbed Oddi after he fired gunshots in the lobby of the Trump National Doral, one of the chief executive’s golf resorts. Miami-Dade Police Director Juan Perez said Oddi shouted “anti-Trump, President Trump rhetoric.”

A similar attack that maimed or killed Pruitt – and perhaps EPA personnel and innocent bystanders – is hardly fanciful. Such a scenario is worth devoting resources to prevent.

Also under review: Pruitt’s 2017 housing arrangements in Washington, DC. Pruitt’s accusers claim he got a special, below-cost deal in some sort of bed-for-bribe swap. Had Pruitt been billeted for pennies in a Georgetown townhouse or an Embassy Row mansion, these worries would be legitimate. However, Pruitt rented a room in a Capitol Hill condominium and paid only for the evenings when he actually slept there. He shelled out $50 per night, equal to $1,500 per month. According to Pruitt’s lease, “Enjoyment is limited to one bedroom that cannot be locked. All other space is controlled by the landlord.”

In an April 4 EPA memorandum, Designated Agency Ethics Official Kevin S. Minoli stated that “within a six-block radius” of Pruitt’s crash pad, there were “seven (7) private bedrooms that could be rented for $55 or less/day.” Minoli, who also is EPA’s principal deputy general counsel, also found 38 such rooms “across a broader section of Capitol Hill.” As a result of its research, Minoli explained, “the ethics office estimated $50/day to be a reasonable market value of the use authorized by the terms of the lease. As such, the use of the property according to the terms of the lease would not constitute a gift under the Federal ethics regulations.”

No gift, no graft.

Some also have fretted about the fact that this property is owned by energy lobbyist Steven Hart and his wife Vicki. Pruitt told the Washington Examiner that they were old friends from Oklahoma. “I’ve known him for years,” Pruitt said. “He’s the outside counsel for the National Rifle Association, has no clients that are before this agency, nor does his wife have any clients that have appeared before this agency.”

Pruitt reportedly requested and was given multiple extensions on his lease until last summer. Having overstayed his welcome, the Harts eventually asked Pruitt to make way for an incoming renter. The Harts changed the locks behind Pruitt. If this couple wanted to curry special favor with the EPA chief, this seems like a rather fruitless strategy.

It’s no surprise that these and other actions by Pruitt are under a microscope. For many on the Left, battling so-called “global warming” borders on religion. As they see it, the science is “settled,” this creed is beyond debate, and the heretics who question this faith should be jailed, as Bill Nye the Science Guy has suggested, or executed, as University of Graz, Austria Professor Richard Parncutt has proposed.

Someone like Pruitt, who rejects manmade-global-warmist alarmism and is powerful enough to implement his ideas (e.g. persuading President Trump to junk Obama’s Clean Power Plan and withdraw America from the Paris Climate Treaty) embodies the Left’s worst nightmares. To the warmists, Pruitt is a torch-bearing arsonist, scurrying maliciously through their Vatican. And he must be stopped.

Even if Pruitt winds up scot-free, his situation should serve as a cautionary tale for every member of Team Trump – from the president on down: Their margin of error is thinner than Saran Wrap. President Trump and all who work for him should act as if their every action and utterance were being broadcast live on MSNBC, with Rachel Maddow, Chris Matthews and Joe Scarborough offering scathing, bitter and unforgiving commentary. No one on Team Trump ever will get the benefit of the doubt. When the First Lady gets slammed, even for unveiling an anti-cyberbullying initiative, it is safe to assume that everyone in this administration will be scrutinized with the deepest suspicions.

As much as these actions by Scott Pruitt can be defended, these days require an even higher level of purity. It may be as physically unobtainable as 250-proof alcohol. Regardless, and unfair as it may be, this must be the ideal to which every member of the Trump Administration, the Republican Congress, and pretty much each American conservative must aspire.

Deroy Murdock is a Manhattan-based Fox News Contributor. This article originally appeared on