“Does This Sound Like A Good, Or Even Great Lawsuit?”: No, Mr. President, It Does Not.

President Donald Trump responded to the release of tapes from CNN this weekend showing a strong anti-Trump bias and agenda at CNN. The tapes were no surprise to many of us who have criticized CNN for its open advocacy against Trump and slanted coverage of political and legal issues. However, Trump again returned to his continuing call for lawsuits against the media over the issue: “Does this sound like a good, or even great, lawsuit?” The answer is no, Mr. President, it does not.

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LeBron James Denounces Pro-Hong Kong Support By Morey As “Misinformed”

It appears that social justice causes have a strict geographic (and financial) limit — at least for NBA player LeBron James. James, who has defended such protests as the NFL kneelers, ridiculed the tweet by Houston Rockets General Manager Daryl Morey in supporting protesters in Hong Kong fighting for the most basic human rights and democratic power. James said that Morey was “misinformed”  and an example of being “not informed about something.” What was Morey misinformed of? The denial of free speech, democratic rights, or basic human rights? How about the threat of Chinese President Xi Jinping to fill the streets with “crushed bodies and shattered bones“? The view of the NBA, and James, appears that Morey was not informed about the billions of dollars to be made in China or the price of supporting people fighting for freedom.

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Not Funny: Video Played At Trump Resort Conference Shows Trump Murdering Political Opponents and Media Figures

The video is an edited version of the church massacre scene from the 2014 film Kingsman: The Secret Service. Trump's head is superimposed on the body of the film's star, Colin Firth, who goes on to kill the parishioners who are depicted as media entities

A videotape (shown below) by Trump supporters has horrified Democrats and Republicans alike in depicting Trump savagely murdering his political opponents like Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden while wiping out media figures. It is a take-off of the church massacre scene from the 2014 film Kingsman: The Secret Service with Trump superimposed for one of the main characters, Colin Firth. The delay in denouncing this film is only fueling the recriminations. I have previously criticized Trump for his reckless attacks on American media as “the enemies of the people.” There is no evidence that this video was approved or even known by the Trump campaign. I assume that it would have been taken down immediately if it were known (as it happened when organizers ultimately learned of its screening). However, there is a rising concern that Trump’s over-heated rhetoric against the press has fueled the anger of some supporters.

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He Who Must Not Be Named: How Hunter Biden Became A Conversation Stopper

Below is my column in The Hill newspaper on the media treatment of the Hunter Biden controversy in Ukraine. I continue to marvel at the non sequitur in the mantra that there is “no evidence of wrongdoing” in the contract. What does that mean? Is the sole measure whether the Ukrainians (or even the U.S.) would prosecute a contract as a crime? Wrongdoing would seem to cover any form of corruption or influence peddling — whether or not it constitutes a crime. The fact is that the payment of sweetheart deals to the spouses and siblings is common in both the Ukraine and the United States. Does that make it right? The suggestion is that there is nothing wrong with this contract. Wrongdoing would seemingly include ethical violations and not just what Ukraine would prosecute as a crime (a curious standard for one of the most corrupt countries on Earth). Indeed, many of us have criticized Trump for sometimes suggesting that the criminal code as the measure of presidential conduct. With Biden, Democrats seem to be doing the same thing in dismissing any objections since “it is all perfectly legal.” If that is the case, then most of the criticism of Trump’s conduct can be dismissed as devoid of “evidence of wrongdoing.”

The fact is that there is a great deal wrong with this contract and no one has actually put forward evidence to suggest that the Ukrainians seriously selected Hunter Biden for his energy or business experience. What is left is a raw effort to curry favor with his father with an unjustified and lucrative contract.

Here is the column:

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“I’m The Reason There Is An Impeachment Going On”: Biden Addresses Son’s Dealings . . . Sort Of

I recently wrote a column on the growing taboo in the media over mentioning the actual facts, or even name, of Hunter Biden and his dealings in the Ukraine. Yesterday, former Vice President Joe Biden addressed the issue . . . sort of. Once again, he was not pushed to deal with the specifics of the dealings or the overwhelming view that the contract was a raw effort to influence him through his family. Instead, Biden continued the mantra that there is no proof of wrongdoing and then added that “no one — no one — has asserted my son did a single thing wrong.”

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University of Washington Professor Denounces SpongeBob SquarePants As Violent Colonialist and Cultural Appropriator

YouTube Screengrab

University of Washington Professor Holly M. Barker has published an article “Unsettling SpongeBob and the Legacies of Violence on Bikini Bottom” that seeks to strip away the true meaning of SpongeBob SquarePants as a colonizing, violent cultural appropriator. Moreover, the cartoon is deemed as “whitewashing of violent American military activities” against natives of the Pacific.” What is most remarkable however is that she appears to be serious.

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Turkey’s Proxy Fighters Now Executing Kurdish Civilians in Syria

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

As part of the Turkish Government’s invasion of Syria and attacking of Kurdish border towns–officially known as “Operation Peace Spring”–pro-Ankara mercenary forces began the execution of civilians in Tel Abyad. This included the assassination of a prominent Syrian Kurdish leader and her driver.

Hevrin Khalaf and her driver were “taken out of her car during a Turkish-backed attack and executed by Turkish-backed mercenary factions”, the political arm of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said in a statement. “This is a clear evidence that the Turkish state is continuing its criminal policy towards unarmed civilians,” it added. Khalaf was the secretary-general of the Future Syria Party.

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Sunday Hikes: From Billygoat to Scott’s Run

I started Sunday with a dawn hike at Billygoat trail. I then went on a hike with visiting family (and our dog Luna) to Scott’s Run. It was a gorgeous fall day with temperatures hovering in the 50s. Scott’s Run is shorter, but you can walk to the waterfall and then along the river. It tends to be quite busy, but it remains a favorite for dog owners.

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O’Rourke Pledges To Strip Religious Organizations Of Tax Exemption If They Do Not Support Same-Sex Marriage

Roughly 15 years ago, I wrote about the collision between anti-discrimination laws and the free exercise of religion. I have been critical of the premise of the use of the tax code to effectively punish organizations that do not comport with the IRS’s view of good public policy. Now, presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke has fulfilled the prediction in the piece by promising to strip religious organizations of the tax exemption if they do not recognize same-sex marriage.

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The Normalization of Homicide Instigated by Politicians

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

Why do we as a people accept and permit one occupational group to initiate killings of other human beings on a national scale but nearly all other occupational group members, who might carry animosity against others, are penalized up to the death penalty should they kill only one person? It might sound preposterous, yet that is exactly the duality we accept as normal–that politicians at national levels especially may lay waste to others and that is simply part and parcel of “diplomacy” and the “laws of war”. Yet if an ordinary citizen dislikes his neighbor so bitterly the act of stepping on his property alone may send the citizen to jail.  The animosity and will to retaliate is the same, but the domain and system of accountability could not be more vastly divergent.

The stem of this license to instigate homicide at a permissible level by national leadership has been endemic in human history to such a perverse degree, people today have come to regard the killing of others by these leaders as normal human interaction, that wars are inevitable, and that lives and societies will be upheaved.

It does not have to be this way.

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Tax Man Cometh: Trump Loses Appeal On Tax Records

The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has rejected the appeal of President Donald Trump to block a House subpoena for his tax documents. The ruling follows another loss in New York where a federal judge rejected Trump’s claim that he cannot be subject to criminal process of any kind while in office. That case has been appealed. Trump can appeal this latest ruling to the full court or to the Supreme Court or both.

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Biden Campaign Objects To New York Times Publishing An Opinion About The Hunter Biden Controversy

I recently wrote about the effort of the Biden campaign to get networks to bar Trump allies from the air who wanted to talk about the controversy surrounding Hunter Biden’s business dealings in the Ukraine. Now, Kate Bedingfield, the deputy manager of Joe Biden’s presidential campaign, has denounced the New York Times for publishing an opinion editorial by author Peter Schweizer on the matter. The hubris of the Biden campaign to demand that the media silence its critics would be laughable if it were not for the failure of many outlets to cover the story. I have previously written that, while I do not see the evidence that Biden sought to fire the Ukrainian prosecutor to protect his son, the Hunter Biden dealings seem a flagrant example of profiteering on his father’s work as the lead official on Ukraine as vice president.

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“I Am Ashamed”: U.S. Special Forces Watch As Turks Overwhelm Former Kurdish Allies

A U.S. Special Forces members in Syria told Fox News on the abandonment of our Kurdish allies has left left him “ashamed for the first time” in his career. He also says that the Turks have committed war atrocities after President Donald Trump overruled his military and state departments in suddenly pulling back troops. Trump responded on Thursday to the threat of thousands of extremist ISIS fighters escaping from prisons, including sites bombed by Turkey. When reporters pressed Trump on the widespread condemnation for the betrayal of the Kurds, Trump downplayed the alliance with the Kurds, 11,000 of whom died fighting to help the US mission against ISIS. “They didn’t help us in the second World War, they didn’t help us with Normandy for example,” Trump said. “They’re there to help us with their land, and that’s a different thing.” Normandy is an area of France, not the US.”>Trump triggered further outrage by dismissing the Kurds (who lost 11,000 in fighting with the U.S. in Syria) by saying “They didn’t help us in the second World War, they didn’t help us with Normandy for example.” It is a bizarre comment since Turkey was far from a reliable ally in World War II. Indeed, it signed a treaty with Germany and was accused of assisting the Nazis in critical ways, including chromite exports that kept the Nazi war machine going.

Notably, after getting Trump to back away from the protection of the Kurds, President Tayyip Erdogan is threatening Europe by pledging to send millions of refugees (including extremists) into their countries if they criticize his scorched earth invasion into Syria.

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CNN Reporter Asks About Censorship At NBA Press Conference . . . The NBA Takes Away Her Mike

I have previously written about the disgraceful way that the NBA has kowtowed to the Chinese government after a single team manager sent a harmless expression of personal support for the protesters in Hong Kong. The cringing subservience of the NBA was on display in Japan when CNN’s Christina Macfarlane asked an obvious and reasonable questions at a press conference about whether players felt that the NBA response had sent a clear message not to criticize China’s human rights violations. In other words, do they feel censored on social issues? The NBA’s response was fast and clear: they took away MacFarlane’s microphone. They then announced that there would be no press conferences during the China trip. Problem solved.

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Two Giuliani Associates Arrested While Leaving The Country

Two Florida businessmen and associated for Rudy Giuliani, president Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, were arrested at Dulles International Airport with one-way tickets out of the country. Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman are charged with campaign finance violations and the prosecution could prove a further complication for the Trump legal team. Some media outlets are reporting that the men had lunch with Giuliani only hours before their arrest. Trump has said “I don’t know them” and told reporters to “ask Rudy.”

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