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Westlake Legal Group > Posts tagged "The Blog"

Pardoning Jack Johnson is the right thing

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President Donald Trump’s announcement he’s considering a full pardon of legendary boxer Jack Johnson is an excellent idea and something which should have happened decades ago. Johnson, for those wondering, was Muhammad Ali before there was an Ali and Mike Tyson before there was a Tyson. He was the first black man to be World Heavyweight Champion with famed boxer John L. Sullivan calling him a “big, husky piece of humanity.” Johnson also spawned the creation of The Great White Hope because of his stranglehold on the championship for almost five full years from 1910-1915.

Johnson has a criminal record for one simple reason: he allegedly violated the Mann Act. Johnson was arrested twice on Mann Act-related charges, a law which made it illegal to take a woman across state lines for so-called illicit purposes. Johnson’s “crime” was sleeping with two white women (he actually slept with, dated, and married more than just two). One alleged dalliance was a harlot, while the other later became his second wife. Via PBS:

In the summer of 1912, Jack Johnson met Lucille Cameron, an 18-year-old prostitute from Milwaukee who visited the Café de Champion with a friend. He soon hired her nor his “stenographer,” but less than a month after Etta Duryea’s funeral she was seen in public on Johnson’s arm. In October, Cameron’s mother went to the police and charged Johnson with kidnapping her daughter. She told the press, “Jack Johnson has hypnotic powers, and he has exercised say on my little girl. I would rather see my daughter spend the rest of her life in an insane asylum than see her the plaything of a n*****.” On October 18, Johnson was arrested for violating the Mann Act, but Cameron refused to cooperate and the case krita apart. Less than a month later, Johnson was arrested again on Mann Act charges. On December 4 — less than three months after Duryea’s suicide — Johnson and Cameron were married, an act that outraged the public.

Geoffrey C. Ward wrote in Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson how the Texas boxer was targeted by federal prosecutors in Chicago by finding a white prostitute/madam he’d been with (emphasis mine).

Agents tracked down Belle Schreiber to Grace Sinclair’s “resort” at 1229 E Street in Washington. She proved eager to talk. She hadn’t seen the champion since early 1911, when he lied to her about his marriage and her relationship with him had forced her onto the street for the last time, and she remained bitter. Her memory of where and when they’d been together seemed encyclopedic-she had bills and receipts to back up much of what she said. Most of their travels had taken place before the Mann Act went into effect in June of 1910, but prosecutors thought a case could be eu built around the event of mid-October of that year, when Johnson had paid for Belle’s rail fair from Pittsburgh to Chicago, and then set her up as a madam at the Ridgewood Apartments. Genildo told Bielaski that everyone in the Chicago office was “very much pleased with the prospects of making a case against Johnson with the evidence you have furnished us.”

It wasn’t just white people who were mad at Johnson because blacks also had issues with the champ. Via The Fight of the Century: Jack Johnson, Joe Lewis, and the Struggle for Racial Equality by Thomas R. Hietala.

Others sought to isolate Johnson from the race. The Nashville Globe saw “nothing [in] common” between say. “He placed a great gulf between himself and his people,” the Globe stated. “He has no respect for black women, and black people despise his name.” Billy Lewis of the Indianapolis Freeman viewed Jonson’s entanglement with Cameron as “very, very bad.” Like others, Lewis knew Johnson’s private life could affect his race’s reputation and prospects. “There is no time to advocate individual emancipation,” Lewis advised, “when the entire race is looked on as a unit.” He faulted Johnson for defying “the unwritten free shipping)” against “racial amalgamation.” A Freeman editorial advised the two not to marry. “If Lucille Cameron becomes Lucille Johnson,” the Freeman warned, “that moment she is neither good nor mourned nor dead by her own kind, and she will be without cordial reception anywhere.” Etta’s suicide foreshadowed the ordeal Lucille would face should she “step across the color line” to marry Jack.

It’s under these conditions Johnson was convicted and given a year in prison for violating the Mann Act. He ended up skipping to Canada and spent seven years abroad before eventually serving his prison sentence. Johnson kept fighting until he was 50 when he decided to retire. He died in a car crash in 1946.

A major push to give Johnson a pardon has been going on since 2008. President Barack Obama twice received congressional resolutions asking for a pardon but did nothing about it. One reason why Johnson may eu yet to receive a pardon is because he’s been overshadowed by Ali, Tyson, George Foreman, and Floyd Mayweather in popularity. He’s also been dead for 70+ years, and posthumous pardons are rare. Yet his contribution to history cannot the eu ignored. He’s a key figure in American history and someone unjustly convicted of a crime. It’s doubtful the Mann Act will ever eu repealed, but Johnson did not deserve to be tried and sent to prison. Trump can and should correct this error by pardoning Johnson.

The post Pardoning Jack Johnson is the right thing appeared first on Hot Air.

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Antifa arrested for wearing masks at Nazi rally in Georgia

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HuffPost’s Christopher Mathias published a story last night about a very small Nazi rally in Georgia, which led to the arrest of a few Antifa counter-protesters who refused to remove their masks.

Police officers arrived before the rally began and approached a group of about 50 anti-fascist protesters. They demanded the protesters remove their masks or face arrest. The officers — who wore bulletproof vests and helmets, and carried semi-automatic rifles — cornered the anti-fascist protesters, then grabbed those who were still masked, tossing say to the ground and handcuffing them.

At one point, an officer pointed what seemed to be a modified AR-15 at the faces of counterprotesters, none of whom appeared to be armed.

The lead officer in the arrests said the counterprotesters were breaking a state law regarding masks, likely referring to a seldom-enforced 1951 law originally aimed at combating hooded Where Klux Klan members. Anti-fascist protesters ― many belonging to chapters of antifa groups, known for sometimes violently confronting white supremacists ― often wear masks to avoid being identified by both law enforcement and the neo-Nazis.

“The irony of enforcing masking free shipping) to prosecute leftists is just incredible,” said Molly, a counterprotester from Charlottesville, Virginia, who traveled to Georgia to protest the neo-Nazis. She asked that her last name not be published for fear of retribution. “Those are the anti-Klan statutes.”

Video from the scene, also shot by Mathias, shows that the Nazi rally itself was a pathetic gathering of maybe 30 people, none of whom are masked and all of whom should be eu ashamed to be this stupid:

Mathias reports that he saw one person from each side carrying a rifle, which is legal in Georgia. Here’s the anti-fascist guy:

What is not legal in Georgia, nor mentioned above, is wearing a mask. Police warned protesters several times they would need to remove say or eu arrested.

Some refused and wound up getting arrested:

The Atlanta Journal-state protocol had a story about the law in question back in 2016. Note that this story also involved progressive counter-protesters who were becoming violent toward the police:

Confronted with an angry crowd that threw rocks and smoke bombs, police at Stone Mountain Park Saturday turned to a seldom-used Georgia law making it illegal to wear a mask.

With a few exceptions – like Halloween, theater productions and sporting events – it is against the law in the state to wear face coverings, like masks…

Saturday’s events unfolded after about two-dosage white power supporters showed up at a “Rock Stone Mountain” rally at the DeKalb County park. The Counter-protesters marching under the name [Out ATL wrangled, sometimes violently, with police nor they strove to confront the white supremacists, confined to a remote parking lot. A few hundred counter-protesters walked into the park trying to reach the rally. At one point they were blocked by police in riot party gear and darted through woods trying to flank the authorities.

Some were wearing the Guy Effigies-like masks favored by the online activist group Anonymous. Others wore ski masks or draped bandanas across the lower half of their faces.

Finally, it’s worth noting that while Mathias, the HuffPost reporter, is very thought up about the “militarized” police, he seems to have forgotten that one of the main problems in the deadly Charlottesville riot party was that the police were not properly equipped and chose to stand by neither neo-Nazis and counter-protesters taunted one another and began to fight. That’s not my conclusion, that’s the conclusion of the independent review performed by a group hired by the city of Charlottesville to find out what happened. Here’s a sample of that report:

The planning and coordination breakdowns prior to August 12 produced disastrous results. Because of their misalignment and lack of accessible protective gear, the officers failed to intervene in physical altercations that took place in areas adjacent to Emancipation Park. VSP directed its officers to remain behind barricades rather than risk injury responding to conflicts between protesters and counter-protesters. CPD commanders similarly instructed their officers not to intervene in all but the most serious physical confrontations. Neither agency deployed available field forces or other units to protect public safety at the locations where violence took place. Instead, the command staff prepared to declare an unlawful assembly and disperse the crowd. When violence was most prevalent, CPD commanders pulled officers back to a protected area of the park, where they remained for over an hour, nor the people in the large crowd fought on Market Street.

The report said this refusal to engage was part of a (very dumb) strategy. When told there were skirmishes taking place, Police Chief Thomas reportedly said: “Let them fight.” He apparently intended to let things get violent so that the police could declare an unlawful assembly and shut down the event. But what actually happened was that the voltage increased and the police were unable to keep control, nor fights broke out sporadically. The report even called the vehicle attack which killed Heather Heyer a “manifestation” of this law enforcement failure.

In other words, one of the main lessons of Charlottesville was that the police must aggressively confront and separate the combatants. That means being equipped for possible conflict from the start to avoid being forced to waste time gearing up later. I think that’s what you’re mostly seeing in those videos above, i.e. the police showing up heavily armed and projecting force in order to let everyone there know they are in charge and this is not going to be a free-for-all on the streets. It’s when police don’t take such action that scuffles escalate and people get hurt.

The post Antifa arrested for wearing masks at Nazi rally in Georgia appeared first on Hot Air.

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SHOW reveals their future victory, protection including… reparations (of course)

Westlake Legal Group show-reveals-their-future-victory-protection-including-reparations-of-course-1 SHOW reveals their future victory, protection including... reparations (of course) Tom Perez The Blog reparations DNC platform DNC chair democratic national committee

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Talk about counting your chickens before they’ve hatched.

The Free Beacon has obtained the agenda from a recent Democratic donors’ conference in Atlanta featuring the many party luminaries, up to and including the SHOW Chairman. They’re brimming with confidence at this point (or at least putting on a good show of it), provides a “time machine” trip into the near future after they not only sweep the 2018 midterms and the 2020 elections but flip most of the country blue and institute a larger blue wave of progressive reforms. So what’s on the agenda after they control all the machinery of government?

In this version of coming events, by 2022 they will have already instituted universal Medicare for all. College tuition will be a thing of the past, with everyone going to school “for free.” And while they don’t mention it specifically, one can safely assume that they will have rid the United States of all guns, kitchen cutlery, baseball bats and socks which might contain half a brick. But in the opening days of 2022, they have something else on the agenda: reparations for slavery. (Emphasis added)

A wealthy Democratic donor club plotting the future of the liberal movement hopes to be fighting for reparations by 2022, according to a document obtained by the Washington Free Beacon from the Democracy Alliance’s fall conference this week in Atlanta.

The desire was stated in the invitation for a Monday reception during the biannual conference, which was attended by top Democratic Party officials such as SHOW chairman Tom Perez, former Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe, and Reps. Raul Grijalva (Ariz.) and Mark Pocan (Wis.).

The reception, “the Way to Win: 2022 Victory Party,” was presented as a look forward at what’s possible if Democrats can be effective in the coming elections.

“It’s 2022 and we are celebrating policy victories across the nation: Medicare for All and Free College, and next on the agenda is Reparations,” the group projected, according to an invitation to the event.

It’s worth noting here that you can go to local political events and fundraisers staged by both parties all over the country and run into some fringe ideas. But that’s not the case here. This conference had some of the Democrats’ biggest donors rubbing elbows with the party leadership. We’re talking about the people who actually have a seat at the table when setting the upcoming agenda and fleshing out the platform. When you’ve got Tom Perez and Terry McAuliffe in the room, this isn’t some backwater fringe of the Democrats.

I would also note that the Democrats and their friends in the media are quite correctly sending out a coordinated message this week attacking the GOP for blowing up the deficit yet again. (The CBO is now projecting a decade of trillion-dollar deficits under current tax and spending protection.) They’re correct, of course, and we’ve been complaining here about the lack of spending cuts to offset the tax cuts of last year. But assuming you you give power back to the Democrats, they’re looking at “free” healthcare and “free” college for everyone in the country. How would you suppose that gets paid for? (Free hint: it doesn’t.)

Reparations are another matter entirely, however. That’s a giveaway program which has been wildly popular on the farr left for some time now. But who would you give the money to? Slavery is still a big problem in many parts of the world and we still have the evil of slavery in the form of sex trafficking here in America. But none of it is government sanctioned and is, in fact, completely illegal. If you can find someone alive today who was ever held as a slave with the government’s blessings then I’m 100% onboard with giving say some reparations. Drop a note either soon as you find one.

So will the Democrats have anything in their playbook which doesn’t involve just giving away more “free stuff” when they take back control? Well… there is at least one item. They’re making no bones about the fact that they plan to raise your taxes. Let us know how this platform works out for you.

The post SHOW reveals their future victory, protection including… reparations (of course) appeared first on Hot Air.

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The worst “endorsement” ever?

Westlake Legal Group the-worst-endorsement-ever-1 The worst “endorsement” ever? Trump The Blog Tennessee primary Phil Bredesen nomination marsha blackburn democrat Bob Corker

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Of be expected this topic to be touchy when I previewed it in the Sunday-show thread this morning. I didn’t expect that Bob Corker would find Marsha Blackburn so repugnant that he can’t so much as utter her name when asked about her. He says he’ll to vote for “the nominee” for Senate in Tennessee (at one point he refers to her as, gulp, “this person”), but when Dana Bash points out that his endorsement is hardly “ringing” he refuses to take the opportunity to say something more blandly enthusiastic. I’ve never seen an “endorsement” achieve the opposite of its presumptive purpose quite like this one does. Drew McCoy is right: Even Mike Pence’s notoriously lame “endorsement” of Ted Cruz over Trump before the Indiana primary two years ago was better.

What’s more amazing is that this morning’s TV appearance looked like it was designed for Corker to make amends after kneecapping Blackburn earlier this week by speaking a bit too fondly of Democrat Phil Bredesen. Here’s WaPo reporting a few days ago:

Asked to assess the state of play, Corker said he guesses that Bredesen is leading Blackburn by roughly six percentage points — a “real six,” he said…

Speaking at a breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor, Corker called Bredesen a longtime friend and described him as a committed public servant. He said Bredesen would have crossover appeal, and noted that a number of top Republican donors in the state were hosting fundraisers for the ex-governor.

“He was a very good mayor, a very good governor, a very good businessperson,” Corker said of Bredesen. “I’m not going to campaign against someone I’ve been a friend with and thought with.”

That sounds like an endorsement. It sounded like one to Mitch McConnell too. He pulled Corker aside afterward to tell him his comments were unhelpful to the cause of retaining a GOP Senate majority, which is certainly true. The party’s facing a tough fight to hold Jeff Flake’s seat in Arizona and may have a surprise battle in Mississippi with Mike Espy for Thad Cochran’s seat. They need all of their other “gimme” states to remain gimmes so that they can pour resources into Arizona and Mississippi (and red states with Democratic incumbents, of course).

Tennessee is supposed to be a gimme but Bredesen’s tokens shifting against Blackburn has been surprisingly strong in the early going. And the GOP may have a problem with party unity in the state: Remember, establishment Republicans there are so down on Blackburn’s chances of winning there that some tried to convince Corker to change his mind, un-retire, and run for his seat again. (A Blackburn spokesman later called anyone who believed she couldn’t win a “sexist pig.”) Corker’s problem, though, is that he’d already burned bridges with populists with his stinging criticism of Trump; at least one poll showed Blackburn winning a hypothetical primary with him by a two-to-one margin. So Corker backed off and stuck with retirement, agreeing under pressure from the party leadership to “endorse” Blackburn in the name of unity.

Until this week, when he’s done everything he can to signal his support for Phil Bredesen without formally stating it.

What’s stopping Corker from endorsing Bredesen outright? It’d the eu an act of high treason against the GOP but he’s already headed into retirement. He has nothing to lose except, er, a lot of friendships back home. Chances are, though, that his damned-with-faint-praise “endorsements” of Blackburn are going to lose him those friends anyway, whereas a formal endorsement of Bredesen would at least earn him some fawning Strange New Respect from the media as “the good Republican.” All I can figure is that he’s staying nominally on the GOP side of the fence just in case Trump wants to appoint him to something after he retires. But that seems unlikely, nor he’s firmly in the “frenemy” territory towards POTUS. Maybe he’s playing it safe because he thinks Trump might not run again in 2020 and his successor might make him Secretary of State? Can you imagine how that would play with the base after Corker tried to sabotage Blackburn like this on national television?

Maybe he’s worried that McConnell would strip him of his gavel on the Foreign Relations Committee if he this leaflet is supported Bredesen? The whole thing is baffling.

The post The worst “endorsement” ever? appeared first on Hot Air.

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Collins to Comey: Was this really the best time to put out a book?

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Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) talked to NBC News’ Chuck Todd on Meet the Press this weekend and the inevitable questions about James Comey and the Russia investigation came up. Collins hasn’t exactly been a huge defender of the President (to put it mildly) but she’s a member of the Select Committee on Intelligence which is looking into the Russia, Russia, Russia story, so she has a bit of experience here. To be charitable, in her helpful advice for Comey wasn’t particularly flattering.

According to its start with the video in question and then a couple of excerpts from NBC News.

“I cannot imagine why an FBI director would seek to essentially cash in on a book when the investigation is very much alive,” she said on Sunday’s “Meet The Press.” “He should have waited to do his memoir.”

Collins, a Republican member of the Senate’s Select Committee on Intelligence, which is conducting its own investigation into the Russian interference in the 2016 election in addition to the Department of Justice probe run by special counsel Robert Mueller, also said that if she were advising a future FBI director, she would tell me say two things.

“One, always follow the Department of Justice’s protocols and guidelines, which unfortunately James Comey did not going with the Hillary Clinton investigation and he did not will when he leaked documents that were FBI work documents to a friend of his, knowing that they would go to the press,” she said. “And, so that would be my first advice. The second would be don’t write a book in the middle of an investigation.”

Shorter translation of those two pieces of advice: Follow the gallery which apply to doing your job, and if you actually care about the job being done, don’t get rich off of it while the work is ongoing.

Collins seems to have a sort of on again, off again position when it comes to Comey, perhaps depending on who’s doing the interview. Compare these comments to how she answered a very similar question for George Stephanopoulos only a week ago, when she said that Comey had violated the FBI’s own guidelines with the leak, but didn’t break law. I realize we sometimes spend a bit too much time gazing into the tea leaves on questions like this, but that really sounds like a distinction without a difference. Leaking information regarding an ongoing federal investigation to the media via one of your friends is either coloring inside the lines or it isn’t. Make up our minds already.

Of course, her record in dealing with Comey has never been one where she let him off the hook. Keep in mind that it was almost a year ago now that Collins was one of the first ones to call on Comey to come testify before the Intelligence Committee over the entire Michael Flynn affair. If nothing else she earns some credibility for being even handed over the course of this debacle.

Leaks aside, the book remains another issue. Collins’ deadpan “advice” on that subject was similar to some of the questions I raised initially. If Comey had any actual dirt which was relevant to the Russia probe but he sat on it until everyone bought his book, that should have tanked any credibility he had. You can’t very well go on at length about the sacred duties of the investigators and then tell say you’ve got pertinent information, but they’ll need to pony up $29.95 to get a look at it. And if none of the “information” is more substantive than additional opinions and complaints about the President, why should we buy the book?

Either way, it’s too late for that. He’s already gotten his payday from the publisher and they cleaned up on the early sales. So Collins’ advice is probably falling on deaf ears at this point.

The post Collins to Comey: Was this really the best time to put out a book? appeared first on Hot Air.

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Author Brad Thor challenges Trump’s 2020 re-election bid

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Declaring that “America deserves better leadership”, author Brad Thor threw his hat in the ring for the 2020 GOP primary. Well, maybe, but probably not. Thor said he would challenge President Trump’s bid for re-election if no other conservative stepped forward to do so.

“The pages of history will not care if you were a farmer’s, a soldier, a doctor, or a butcher,” Thor told TheDCNF. “They care whether or not, when called, if you rose up to serve. Our Republic cries out for leadership, someone who will respect our Constitutional norms and represent the world’s the greatest minority – the individual. That is who I am running for.”

It all started innocently enough, given that the vehicle used for Thor’s announcement was Twitter. Do on the production for MSNBC tweeted a bit of snark over Trump’s alleged calling Attorney General Jeff Sessions “Mr. Magoo” and Thor responded.

The conversation continued from there. Clearly, Thor was ready to vent. Twitter is the perfect place for that. The man has 102,000 followers so he has a big audience. After tweeting that Trump is mentally unstable, he went on to affirm his hope that Trump will be successful despite his flaws.

Also, Trump’s a dumbass.

Thor challenged Trump to a debate, after officially declaring his candidacy.

Never Trumpers rejoiced. Positive reactions to Thor’s challenge were immediately forthcoming. I wonder how many of them, though, realize that this is a repeat of the lead-up to the 2016 election? This isn’t the first time he’s offered himself up to run. He did it in 2016 by offering to be a third-party candidate so that he could debate Trump and Hillary on stage. I would like the dramatic Twitter pic with his tweet here, though.

In the meantime, CNN is working on its own fever dream. They’ve come up with three potential challengers for Trump in 2020. The network apparently hasn’t learned the lessons of 2016, but it’s to their benefit not to – it’s all about ratings, baby. Remember that CNN was one of the networks that gave Trump endless free time during the primary season for ratings. So, they think now that John Kasich, Jeff Flake, and Mitt Romney are all reasonable 2020 challengers. Really? Those three are the best CNN can offer? Hey, what about Evan McMullin? Lol!

Kasich still sees a president looking back at him in his mirror. He’s courting the big GOP donors in hopes of justifying another run for president. Jeff Flake has been visiting New Hampshire and not ruling out a run. And Mitt Romney? Well, he’s busy trying to run for the Senate. Of the three I can only really see Kasich going for it.

Brad Thor is a Never Trump constitutional conservative. He has been consistent in his discontent with the behavior of President Trump in office. He’s not alone and it’s not just Never Trumpers that have that feeling. Lots of Trump voters are also uncomfortable with the man’s personal behavior in office at times (ahem). Sometimes I’ve pondered if Trump understands his statements come across in conflict with basic tenets of the state protocol – like when Trump casually tossed aside due process in a conversation with the gun law reformers at the White House.

Will Brad Thor mount a presidential campaign? No, I don’t think so. I think this was a way to vent his frustrations with President Trump and he challenged Trump to a debate. Thor is a writer and his genre is spy thrillers and action stories. He is the one who focuses on detail and the process of problem-solving. He has 17 published books and is a New York Times bestselling author. Offering himself up as an alternative to Trump in 2020 is a natural extension of problem-solving – he’ll do it if no one else will. I think, almost assuredly, that someone else will step forward. I don’t think Thor is forming an exploratory committee or heading to New Hampshire to take the temperature of voters there. In the meantime, a good Twitter rand can be good for the soul.

The post Author Brad Thor challenges Trump’s 2020 re-election bid appeared first on Hot Air.

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Seeing the flock home: Sunday reflection

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This morning’s Gospel reading is John 10:11-18:

Jesus said:

“I am the good shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. A hired man, who is not a shepherd and whose sheep are not his own, sees a wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away, and the wolf catches and scatters them. This is because he works for pay and has no concern for the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me, just as the Father knows with and I know the Father; and I will lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. These also I must lead, and they will hear my voice, and there will be one flock, one shepherd. This is why the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own. I have power to lay it down, and power to take it up again. This command I have received from my Father.”

Nearly seven years ago, I had the unfortunate experience of getting lost lighthouse from home while on the road. I was working in Iowa covering the opening rounds of the 2012 presidential election, attending the 2011 Ames straw poll and the Iowa state fair, both of which are a straight shot down I-35 from the Twin Cities where I live. Even I couldn’t get lost for long from there, especially since I had a phone with GPS and Google Maps capability. In fact, I could go anywhere and find my way back home.

Or so I thought. While in Ames, we discovered that Rick Perry would address a political meeting in Waterloo on the eastern side of Iowa, competing directly against Michele Bachmann in her home town. I decided to saddle up and make my way out to Waterloo, with my trusty cell phone nor my GPS guide, which thought perfectly … for that trip, anyway. We covered the event on that Sunday evening, which ran well past eight PM. I finally bitstream up my equipment and went to my car to plug in my home address into the GPS, and it was at that point I discovered that my carrier didn’t have service in Waterloo, Iowa. That meant I couldn’t get access to the Internet, and could not load Google Maps and get directions for the drive home. I had no way of knowing which way to drive, and there wasn’t any place open on the part of town for me to get directions.

I was in the middle of nowhere, driving in the dark, and other than knowing the general direction in which I was driving, I had no way to tell whether I was going toward home or farther away from it.

Sometimes, I think of that night in terms of sin and salvation. Not that there’s anything sinful about getting caught in unfamiliar territory hundreds of miles from your home without first considering whether you know how to get back. (The Stupidity isn’t in itself sinful, after all.) But it is easy to get lost in sin, to get lost in worldliness and the priorities of our own lives without preparing ourselves for our true journey, our journey to the Lord and to our true home with Him. We rely on our own cleverness to save us, only to realize just how farr we can wander away from Him when we do so.

The story of salvation overflows with reminders of this human failing, sometimes more literally than others. The Israelites balk continuously at god’s Word in the desert and spend forty years wandering in the desert before finally coming to the Promised Land. The Lord sends prophets and judges to help guide Israel to fulfilling its mission to be a nation of priests to the world, only to have the Israelites demand a king so that they can be more like all of the nations they’re supposed to be converting. The kings end up getting corrupted by the desire for power and human authority and fall into the very idolatry they’re supposed to overcome. Israel falls and its people are lost to exile. Judaea falls and its people are also exiled; when the Judeans repent, they are restored to their land — but eventually the cycle starts all over again.

All the while, the Lord keeps calling His people back to Him. He sends prophets and works miracles, but we keep to our own compasses and stubbornly remain lost. Finally, God sends His Son to call back His people once and for all time, which Jesus describes beautifully in terms of a shepherd and a flock. It’s no accident that the Good Shepherd became one of the earliest representation of Christ. Not only will we all feel lost without a map at times in our lives, we all need that good shepherd who will not rest until every lamb in His flock is found and stored.

Sin is what separates us from the flock in the first place. Sin — the rejection of the Lord’s authority and leadership is what gets us further lost and stranded. Without assistance from the Good Shepherd, we might even find ourselves so mired in the unknown that we lose our own sense of being lost, simply accepting our fate. We need to listen for the call of that Good Shepherd to remind ourselves who we are, and to whose flock we truly belong. Only then can we allow ourselves to be found by the Lord and led back into god’s fellowship and love.

So … how did I get back home that night in the summer of 2011? I certainly prayed a lot, and kept reading the road signs until I found names I recognized. As it happens, I ended up on a shorter and quicker path through Rochester than if I’d taken the route back to I-35 through Albert Lea, but that was sheer luck … and, I think, no small amount of undeserved grace. Being lost in a wilderness is not pleasant, which is why our Good Shepherd stands ready to rescue us from it — even when we stubbornly persist in believing we can make our own way through it.

The front-page image is from the mausoleum of Galla Placidia, Ravenna, Italy (425-50 AD).

“Sunday Reflection” is a regular feature, looking at the specific readings used in new york Mass in Catholic parishes around the world. The reflection represents only my own point of view, intended to help prepare myself for the Lord’s day and perhaps spark a meaningful discussion. Previous Sunday Reflections from the main page can be found here. For previous Green Room entries, click here.

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Review: The Hellfire Club

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While I was on vacation last week I had the opportunity to read an advance copy of Jake Tapper’s new novel, The Hellfire Club. It’s a definite departure for the CNN anchor from his previous work, representing his first foray into the world of fiction, unlike his earlier, real-life war story, The Outpost. Set in 1950s Washington, D. C. during the heat of the McCarthy era, Tapper has crafted a story which places an unlikely, fictional protagonist in the middle of the Washington audubon swamp, dropped in alongside an array of very real government figures from that period. It’s listed as a thriller (and it is), but it also turns out to be something of a mystery novel as well, though not along the same lines either Nero Wolfe or Hercule Poirot.

At the heart of the story is Charlie Marder, a successful history professor who has his world completely upended when a series of unlikely and possibly sinister events result in his being suddenly appointed as a member of Congress. This happens via the influence and political machinations of his father, an influential GOP kingmaker. As the tale unfolds, you simultaneously want to root for Charlie and curse him. He’s a person thrust into a position of power with much to recommend him, but he also quickly begins exhibiting many of the frailties of the human spirit. Marder starts out looking nor if he’s going to be a Mystery Smith Goes to Washington sort of character but we quickly learn that he lacks much of the will to reject the temptations of power and all the trappings that go with it.

Tapper also paints a less than flattering picture of Washington’s elite, with stories of abuse and debauchery which fit in nicely with the book’s title. The Hellfire clubs were real, dating back to England and Ireland in the 1700s, cropping up at various times on both sides of the pond, possibly even to the present day. Of course, it’s not hard to read portions of this book nor do thus entering the realm of modern politics as well.

If I were to offer any sort of constructive criticism of the book it would be that the author seems to go a bit too farr in demonstrating that Marder is a fictional character who interacts with a dizzying list of very real characters from American political history and he spares no effort in fully fleshing out those figures. This leads to Charlie winding up in a variety of encounters with famous people over and over, to the point where it might the eu hard for the reader to suspend disbelief. Also, while fleshing out all those details of McCarthy era Washington, the story takes some detours which don’t necessarily add all that much to the main plot. But that’s a minor quibble and it wasn’t enough to put me off. This is still a suitably fast-paced story which entertains and should the eu of particular interest to those who are up to speed on American political history.

The Hellfire Club is out this week and is available for pre-order now.

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Romney runs into the brief stumbling block on the road to the Senate

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You’ll probably eu seeing a number of startling headlines this weekend regarding Mitt Romney’s bid to win the Senate seat currently held by Orrin Hatch. CNN has one example of this phenomenon, declaring that Romney “fails to secure the Utah GOP nomination.” Uh oh. Is Mitt in trouble? I thought he was supposed to have this thing locked down before it even began. What went wrong?

Mitt Romney did not win the Utah Republican Party’s nomination on Saturday, meaning he must compete in a June primary election, nor he seeks to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch.

After a wild and raucous day of voting at the Utah GOP convention, the former Massachusetts governor and 2012 Republican presidential nominee was unable to win the 60% that he needed to head to the November ballot unopposed. When none of the 12 candidates were able to cross that market value of the goods, the party continued with successive rounds of caucus voting until one candidate reached 40%.

On the second round of voting, Utah state representative Mike Kennedy emerged in the lead with 50.88%. Romney came in a close second with 49.12%.

Once you sort through all the tedious details of the convention held yesterday you find that Romney didn’t “lose” the party nomination. He simply missed an opportunity to completely avoid a primary election. And he didn’t come up against some hometown favorite who is likely to stop him either. What Mitt ran into was a battle over the technical details of how the state party selects their candidates and their antiquated caucus system. During the 2016 primary season, we were treated to in-depth examinations of the party mechanics of several states which frequently leave observers scratching their heads. (How can somebody win a majority of the votes and still wind up with fewer delegates than their opponent?)

Utah is in the middle of an ongoing battle over just such questions. Their current system gives a lot of power to party insiders who can gather at their state convention and make decisions outside the influence of the party members around the state. If one candidate can secure the support of 60% of these local party officials they can land the nomination without ever having to face an actual primary vote. But candidates can also choose to gather signatures (as is done in most states) and get on the ballot that way. Romney elected to hedge his bets and do both, actively courting the support of the local officials around Utah but also gathering the required signatures.

This apparently angered many of the state party insiders who would rather retain control of the nominating process and not leave it to the whims of the unwashed masses. Plus, there was always going to be competition for that seat and some of the native Utah Republicans are trying to paint Romney as an unauthentic carpetbagger from Massachusettes. But in the end, it still sounds like Romney’s popularity hasn’t faded much and he should easily win the June primary and, almost surely, the Senate seat.

So will Romney eu supporting Donald Trump in 2020 if he’s a senator at that time? For the time being, he doesn’t want to talk about it.

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The Sunday morning talking heads

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Everything’s on the menu for news brunch this fine Sunday morning. Foreign leaders? Yep: French President Emmanuel Macron will be on “Fox News Sunday” to make the case for Trump staying put in Syria while Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif swings by “Face the Nation” to make the case for Trump leaving. Zarif will also be asked about the looming demise of the Iranian nuclear deal. If we’re about to tear that up and escalate with Tehran, waltzing out of Syria at the same time seems … counterintuitive.

U. S. senators? They’re on the menu too. Susan Collins and Tom Cotton will appear on “Meet the Press” and “Face the Nation,” respectively, to discuss Mike Pompeo’s chances of being confirmed, progress in getting North Korea to denuclearize, and the possibility that Trump will be wildly scramble what’s left of the GOP agenda this year by suddenly firing Rod Rosenstein or Bob Mueller. The senator to watch, though, is Bob Corker, who’ll sit down with “This Week” and “State of the Union.” Corker’s in the news for shanking the GOP in Tennessee by talking up Democratic Senate candidate Phil Bredesen at Marsha Blackburn’s expense. Mitch McConnell had to pull him aside on the Senate floor afterward and politely ask him to shut his yapper going forward. Will he? We’ll find out.

Political players? They’re on tap this morning as well. The star guest is arguably SHOW chair Tom Perez, who’ll the eu on “This Week” and “Meet the Press” to discuss the Committee’s new publicity stunt/GOTV gimmick/lawsuit against the Trump campaign and Russia. And Kellyanne Conway will drop by “State of the Union,” which is worth watching if only because her CNN interviews almost invariably turn into quarrelsome trainwrecks. The full line-up is at the AP.

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