If there was ever a “nation” in the ordinary meaning comprising the Islamic State it is unquestionably moribund. The area reportedly controlled by the terrorist organization remains for the time down to one square kilometer, according to some reports less than six hundred meters square in Baghuz.
What actually has so far saved the jihadists from annihilation was that they interspersed themselves among civilian human-shields while Kurdish forces and allies exercise pause to protect the innocent. Thus remains the glory of the Caliphate, hiding among women and children to save itself.
We have another example of a parliament facilitating another eternal presidency. Egypt’s Parliament acted this week to amend the nation’s constitution to allow its current president, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, to remain in power to 2034. Much of the pretext lies in the familiar call of a need for greater control and monopolization of the presidency to secure promised “reforms” and “progress”.
Below is my column in The Hill newspaper on the known basis for an obstruction case against President Donald Trump. While much more has been learned since the appointment of the Special Counsel, there remains considerable doubt about a prosecutable case for obstruction.
Ron Shaich, founder of the Panera line of restaurants, attracted considerable media attention with his announcement that the company would open various pay-what-you-can restaurants in Dearborn, Michigan; Portland, Oregon; Boston, and Chicago. He called it his “test of humanity.” It may actually be a test of economics and the experiment failed. After nine years and huge debt, the restaurants will now close, according to Eater Boston.
The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) noted an interesting twist for students who are celebrating Valentine’s Day at the University of New Orleans: any Valentine’s Card must be clearly platonic or risk a violation of the school’s rule against any “suggestive” note or communication. However, from a legal perspective, I would suggest the greater problem is not the Valentines per se but that chubby figure known as Cupid.
Paul Manafort added to his burgeoning record of alleged crimes and falsehoods this week with a decision from U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson that he had broken his cooperation agreement with Special Counsel Robert Mueller by making false statements and withholding information. The result could be devastating for Manafort who will now face sentencing without the benefit of the plea deal that he struck with Mueller. That could mean that, absent a pardon from President Donald Trump, Manafort could die in prison since he is looking at decades of potential jail time.
I will have the pleasure of speaking today at the University of Pennsylvania Law School on the evolution of presidential power in the United States. I will participate in a distinguished panel entitled “Presidential Power and the Current Crisis of Executive Authority” at 4:00 to 6:00 pm at Fitts Auditorium (3501 Sansom Street, Philadelphia). The event will be open to the public.
I have been a long critic of Trump former counsel Michael Cohen whose lack of legal skills is only surpassed by his lack of legal ethics (here and here and here and here and here and here). Cohen is a serial liar and legal thug who committed various tax and fraud crimes worth millions. Cohen was given an absurdly low sentence by U.S. District Judge William H. Pauley III who fell for the latest dubious pitch of Cohen. While a teenager will get twice as much time for robbing a store for $1000, Cohen got just three years for stealing millions and lying under oath. He then was called to appear before Congress and worked a new sham as the redemptive sinner. Yet, there is always a warning of Caveat Emptor that comes with dealing with Cohen: buyer beware. Cohen has now postponed testimony repeatedly in Congress. The latest excuse was his health — a claim that was refuted by a videotape showing him enjoying a night out on the town at an expensive restaurant the night before.
Yale is being sued in a class action brought by three female students who allege that fraternities create a hostile environment for women. Anna McNeil, Eliana Singer and Ry Walker object to the parties and atmosphere created by such fraternities. In their filing, they tell the court that “they have been shocked, disappointed, and disturbed by the prominent role that the Fraternities play in the campus social scene.” Many would note that there is not one social scene at Yale and that these students can simply avoid Frat parties and activities. That may be the response of the Court, which could view this as an effort in part to force Yale to curtail parties that these students do not want to attend. The filing objects to the very structure and role of fraternities on campus.
We have previously discussed the soaring debt in the country as both Democrats and Republicans plunge this nation into shocking debt levels. This week we passed another milestone in our debt surpassing $22 trillion for the first time in history. That is a jump of $30 million in just the last month alone. In the meantime, members of Congress and the White House continue to demand more massive levels of spending.
We have been following the seedy legacy of American Media CEO David Pecker and his National Enquirer tabloid. Pecker is a cooperating witness with Special Counsel Robert Mueller after using his publication to pay off a former Playmate model who reportedly had an affair with President Donald Trump. Pecker and the newspaper previously denied the arrangement to help Trump by buying and killing the story of Karen McDougal. AMI was also recently implicated in an effort to effectively blackmail Washington Post owner and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos with the threat to release embarrassing photos. Bezos suggested that AMI was acting at the behest of Saudi figures upset with the Washington Post investigation of Saudi influence. Now, the Wall Street Journal has disclosed a letter confirming that AMI considered filing papers as a Saudi agent. The letter would seem to reinforce the AMI-Saudi connection referenced by Bezos.
Democrats have (for good reason) criticized President Donald Trump for his signature campaign rally chant of “Lock her up” in referring to his then opponent Hillary Clinton.. Many of us objected to the display as obnoxious and demeaning to our political system. That objection apparently does not hold when a Democratic candidate, in this case Elizabeth Warren, is referencing Donald Trump as being locked up. Warren received the predictably wild applause to her suggestion in a campaign rally that Trump will be in prison by 2020.
Below is my column in The Hill Newspaper on the long-standing debate over self-identification of race — an issue brought again to the forefront by the Elizabeth Warren controversy. There is a broader issue here that impacts universities and businesses on how race should be confirmed when used professionally or academically or financially. There is an ongoing debate over self-identification of race and whether such questions are simply cultural rather than genetic.
For Warren, the desire to focus on her race announced this weekend may be overshadowed by the other race issue.