Russian Orthodox Church Priest Consecrates Holy Anti-Aircraft Missile Of Antioch

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

Move over Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch, the Russians have a more potent form of holy-war materiel.

On November 29th, Russian Military Forces deployed at Dzankoy, Crimea an S-400 Anti-Aircraft System as part of its military occupation of the peninsula. Not to be without an appropriate blessing for this divinely inspired weapon system, the military arranged for consecration of these Anti-Aircraft Missiles of Antioch by priests of the Orthodox Church of the Moscow Patriarchate.

Pie erucae dominus
Dona eis requiem

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Public Art Or Public Nuisance? Mound Of Dirt Art That Won’t Go Away

By Darren Smith, Weekend Contributor

Those familiar with the former federal office building in Wenatchee, Washington, who have actually noticed, are familiar with the strange earthen mounds situated at the Northwest of the property. They were constructed in 1981 by Artist Stan Dolega who received $19,000.00 (about $54,000.00 today) from the government to place the dirt, a concrete retaining wall, and sod.

Anecdotally, the work faced much criticism since its inception as being the archetype of government waste through mandatory spending on artwork. It was not popular with those in the community and faced considerable ridicule as to its lack of utility, and that could credibly be claimed that the government paid nearly twenty grand for a pile of dirt.

Now the city wants to remove the mounds to make room for additional parking but discovered that it cannot due to a covenant designed to protect a problematic artwork that simply will not go away.

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Save The Trees: Washington Appears In A Contest For The Ugliest Christmas Trees

White House/YouTube

It appears nothing escapes the wrath of our divided country.  This week however it is Melania Trump who has been slammed for what are being called “the Blood Christmas Trees” after she went with crimson trees that left many . . . all right . . . seeing red.  It was not my cup of tree but I am so traditional that I have opposed the smallest changes in the Christmas dinner menu for five decades.  The review have been scathing from comparisons to “The Handmaid’s Tale” to the “The Shining” and worse.  Frankly, the red trees are not as bad as people suggest and there is a traditional tree at the end.  Moreover, they are certainly not the biggest eyesores in Washington. That distinction goes to the Four Seasons were I spotted these two abominations which left you simply wishing for New Year’s Eve.

 

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Temple University Refuses To Fire Professor Dumped By CNN For Anti-Israel Comments

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Temple University professor and CNN contributor Marc Lamont Hill caused a stir after he spoke before the United Nations and made pro-Palestinian statements that critics claimed were thinly veiled calls for the elimination of Israel.  CNN promptly fired Hill and many at Temple University demanded that the media studies professor also be fired.  Temple correctly stood firm on the free speech rights of faculty to speak out on such important but controversial issues. While disassociating itself from the merits of the commentary, the university stated that “we acknowledge that he has a constitutionally protected right to express his opinion as a private citizen.” Continue reading “Temple University Refuses To Fire Professor Dumped By CNN For Anti-Israel Comments”

Berkeley Professor Proposes Banning Use of Student Evaluations As Disfavoring Female and Minority Instructors

Seal_of_University_of_California,_Berkeley.svgThere is an interesting controversy at the University of California (Berkeley) after history professor Brian DeLay tweeted  that it is time for the school to get rid of the use of end-of-semester student evaluations for hiring, promotion, and tenure decisions. Such evaluations have long been a critical measure of a professor’s credentials.  However, Professor DeLay insists that such evaluations tend to be lower for female instructors and people of color. Thus, his proposal is to stop the use of evaluations for all faculty in decisions related to hiring or promotion. Continue reading “Berkeley Professor Proposes Banning Use of Student Evaluations As Disfavoring Female and Minority Instructors”

Christopher Newport University Takes Stand For Free Speech

300px-CaptChristopherNewportStatue01We previously discussed the courageous stand of my alma mater, University of Chicago, against the growing speech codes and “safe spaces” in campuses around the country. Purdue University also took a stand in favor of free speech in adopting “the Chicago principles.” Now, Christopher Newport University (a university that I have long admired) has joined the ranks of free speech institutions with its own statement rejecting speech controls and regulations. The statement below states that “Although the University greatly values civility, and although all members of the University community share in the responsibility for maintaining a climate of mutual respect, concerns about civility and mutual respect can never be used as a justification for closing off discussion of ideas, however offensive or disagreeable those ideas may be to some members of our community.” Bravo CNU Bravo.

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Legal Kremlinology: Mueller’s Break With Manafort Leads To Frenzy Of Speculation Over The Russian Investigation

Below is my column in USA Today on the collapse of the cooperation agreement with Paul Manafort.  As predicted in the column, President Donald Trump picked up on the conflict to allege that Mueller is pressuring people to lie in order to make a case against him.  In the meantime, the White House confirmed that Manafort’s counsel has been conferring with the Trump legal team to tell them what Manafort was supplying and the questions being asked under the cooperation agreement. It is a highly unusual move and prosecutors usually bar such joint defense agreements or meetings from contenting for obvious reasons. It is not clear what Manafort was told but it is hard to believe that Mueller would be moronic enough to fail to make such a clear condition.

 

Here is the column: Continue reading “Legal Kremlinology: Mueller’s Break With Manafort Leads To Frenzy Of Speculation Over The Russian Investigation”

Stormy Daniels Accuses Michael Avenatti Of Unethical Conduct

Michael Avenatti, counsel for Stormy Daniels, is having a seriously bad month.  He was earlier accused of domestic battery by a girlfriend, who secured a restraining order last week.  (The police declined to bring a felony charge in the case).  Now, Daniels has gone public with accusations that Avenatti solicited donations without her approval and did not reveal where the money has gone.  In perhaps the most serious allegation, she alleges that Avenatti sued Donald Trump for defamation in her name but without securing her approval.  (For full disclosure, Avenatti is my former student and I have previously praised his impressive success as a lawyer.

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Trump Tweets Image Accusing His Own Deputy Attorney General and Others Of Treason

In a highly disturbing and inappropriate tweet, President Donald Trump retweeted an image that accused his own deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, of treason as well as special counsel Robert Mueller, former FBI Director James Comey, former national intelligence director James Clapper, Bill and Hillary Clinton and others. The image is accompanied with the question “Now that Russia collusion is a proven lie, when do the trials for treason begin?”  Such an image and question, even made in jest, would be deeply insulting and below the office of the presidency.  The President has previously called the media “the enemy of the people” and used equally intolerant language toward judges.  Regardless of how one feels about the Special Counsel investigation or the role of some of these people, people of good faith must speak out against such attacks on the character of these individuals.  I have been a critic of some actions in this investigation and specifically Rosenstein’s conflict of interest, but I would never question their loyalty to this nation. Continue reading “Trump Tweets Image Accusing His Own Deputy Attorney General and Others Of Treason”

Lewinsky Implicates Bill Clinton In Federal Crimes As The Clintons Embark On 13-City Speaking Tour

225px-Bill_ClintonBelow is my column in The Hill newspaper on the underreported disclosures made by Monica Lewinsky in her recent interviews with A&E.  Even with the Clintons starting a popular 13 city speaking tour, there has been little coverage of the fact that Lewinsky implicated Bill Clinton in a myriad of possible federal crimes. Indeed, the interview by Frank McKenna, the former Canadian Ambassador to the United States, conspicuously avoided any questions about Clinton’s alleged sexual assaults or the new disclosures by Lewinsky about his alleged encouragement for her to lie to federal investigators.  The disconnect is mystifying.  Democrats continue to line up to hear Bill Clinton who was accused of multiple women of sexual assault and only last week was implicated in crimes by Lewinsky.  That disconnect could come back to haunt Democrats if they seek to hold Trump accountable for conduct that they have dismissed by Clinton.

Here is the column: Continue reading “Lewinsky Implicates Bill Clinton In Federal Crimes As The Clintons Embark On 13-City Speaking Tour”

Will Manafort Sue The Guardian? Former Trump Campaign Chair Declares Assange Story “Totally False and Deliberately Libelous”

UnknownIn my column yesterday, I discussed the major news story out of the Guardian that former Trump Campaign Chair Paul Manafort repeatedly met with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. The Guardian reported that  Manafort visited Assange in Ecuador’s London embassy in 2013, 2015 and in spring 2016. That last visit allegedly occurred around the same time as Manafort’s selection as Trump campaign chair. Ecuador’s Senain intelligence agency reportedly said that the logs include “Paul Manaford [sic]” and mentioned “Russians.”  Now however Manafort and Wikileaks have completely denied the story and Manafort charged that the story is “totally false and deliberately libelous.”  If so, that could lead to an interesting defamation lawsuit that should be relatively easy to prove either way. Continue reading “Will Manafort Sue The Guardian? Former Trump Campaign Chair Declares Assange Story “Totally False and Deliberately Libelous””

Father and Son Debate The NFL Kneeling Controversy Over Thanksgiving Dinner . . . Father Ends Debate By Shooting Son

Some families actively try to avoid political discussions at Thanksgiving dinner, which I have never truly understood. Yet, it appears that even discussions of sports today can devolve into politics and Jorge Luis Valencia Lamadrid, 51, shows just how far that can go.  Lamadrid got into an argument with his son over the kneeling controversy in the NFL . . . and proceeded to allegedly shoot him at Thanksgiving dinner. Continue reading “Father and Son Debate The NFL Kneeling Controversy Over Thanksgiving Dinner . . . Father Ends Debate By Shooting Son”

Gallup: 60 Percent Of Americans Disapprove Of Trump Performance

donald_trump_president-elect_portrait_croppedThere is another poll out to today showing growing dissatisfaction among voters over President Donald Trump’s performance in office. According to Gallup, sixty percent Americans disapprove of President Trump’s job performance.  What is interesting is that Trump still maintains his core of 38 percent of supporters.  That still makes him more popular than figures like French President Emmanuel Macron with only 26 percent of voters with a favorable view of his tenure in office.  However, it is hard to see how Trump can prevail in 2020 with such an increasingly alienated and hostile majority.

 

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Roberts’ Rebuke of Trump Rings Hollow, Given Justices’ Conduct

Below is my column in the Hill newspaper on the recent public statement issued by Chief Justice John Roberts.  While I am entirely sympathetic with the statement (which is also true) about the unfairness in referring to “Obama judges” ruling against the Trump Administration, the public rebuke only highlighted the glaring disconnect in Roberts’ defense of apolitical courts and his deafening silence over the conduct on his own Court.

Here is the column: Continue reading “Roberts’ Rebuke of Trump Rings Hollow, Given Justices’ Conduct”

Saudi Prince: “The CIA Is Not Necessarily The Highest Standard of Veracity”

It may be the single least self-aware statement of the year.  Prince Turki al-Faisal has insisted that the CIA assessment that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman ordered the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi can be dismissed because “the CIA is not necessarily the highest standard of veracity or accuracy in assessing situations.”  This is coming from a government that has issued a series of bold-faced lies about its murdering of the journalist from claiming that Khashoggi was actually alive to blaming him for a brawl in the consulate to now insisting that a group of men (including those closely tied to the Crown Prince) carried out the murder without his knowledge.  Of course, even President Trump cannot decide if he will believe his own intelligence officials or the Crown Prince.  Trump said continued to say that it is not clear that the Crown Prince ordered the killing despite incriminating tapes and overwhelming evidence to the contrary — as well as leading Republicans saying that continued denials are unbelievable and embarrassing for the country. Continue reading “Saudi Prince: “The CIA Is Not Necessarily The Highest Standard of Veracity””